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Archives - December 2005

December 30, 2005

"The Top 10 Junk Science Claims of 2005" - "It’s that time of year again when we at JunkScience.com reflect on all the dubious achievements and irresponsible claims made by the junk science community throughout the year." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Kennedy, Editor of Science, on PBS" - "There is an interesting discussion at PBS on peer review, in which Donald Kennedy, editor of Science, defended their existing "rigorous" processes, but re-iterated: "the journal has to trust its reviewers; it has to trust the source. It can’t go in and demand the data books." (Climate Audit)

"Scientists lift malaria's cloak of invisibility" - "The world's deadliest malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, sneaks past the human immune system with the help of a wardrobe of invisibility cloaks. If a person's immune cells learn to recognize one of the parasite's many camouflage proteins, the surviving invaders can swap disguises and slip away again to cause more damage. Malaria kills an estimated 2.7 million people annually worldwide, 75 percent of them children in Africa.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) international research scholars in Australia have determined how P. falciparum can turn on one cloaking gene and keep dozens of others silent until each is needed in turn. Their findings, published in the December 28, 2005, issue of Nature, reveal the mechanism of action of the genetic machinery thought to be the key to the parasite's survival." (Howard Hughes Medical Institute)

Thundering again: "End of the world isn't nigh" - "FROM APOCALYPTIC media to the Queen’s Christmas message, 2005 is seen as the annus horribilis of anni horribiles." (Philip Stott, London Times)

"War and disasters aside, 2005 brought world progress" - "SEATTLE – Judging from the headlines, 2005 was a gloomy year, indeed. Gulf Coast hurricanes, the devastating earthquake in Kashmir, ongoing war in Iraq, civil war in Sudan, renewed famine in central Africa, and the threat of a worldwide pandemic flu darkened the news. These headlines, however, obscure a far brighter underlying trend: On average, people across the planet are living longer, healthier lives, with greater opportunities for education and political freedom than ever before." (Brian McCartan, The Christian Science Monitor)

Hmm... maybe she's been visited by a few Dickensian spirits? "Let's celebrate the utter bloody goodness of the world today" - "If the pessimists are right that everything is so awful, then why have we never had it so good?" (Polly Toynbee, The Guardian)

"Miserabilists of the Year 2005: amuse yourself with this catalogue of woe" - "IT IS NOT only the weather that makes Britain feel like a frozen Narnia at the end of 2005. Our cultural and political landscape also appears to be under the dead hand of the White Witch, who makes it seem “always winter and never Christmas”. So I dedicate this last notebook of 2005 to listing a few of my Miserabilists of the Year, who in their different ways have done so much to spread unjustified doom and gloom about the human condition." (Mick Hume, London Times)

Journalistic license? "The hole truth about global warming" - "Twenty years ago, in those seemingly impossible years when computers were only used in business and the internet was an almost exclusive military and academic reserve, three scientists studying the wastes of Antarctica looked up and noticed part of the sky was missing, metaphorically speaking." (Yorkshire Post)

R-r-i-i-i-ght... "Earthquakes Manifestation Of Planetary Expansion" - "TUCSON, ARIZONA, Dec. 29 -- Richard Guy in his Book "The Expanding Earth" relates that Earthquakes are a manifestation of Planetary Expansion. Earthquakes are crustal tension releases in the earth expansion process. Guy notes that all river valleys are earthquake expansion faults and we as engineers build Dams and Bridges across rivers and wonder why they fail?" (E-Wire)

... and the seas are... falling... because the Earth is expanding... and this makes... ocean basins... bigger (not rising because the expanding planet is filling the holes?). And global warming is real but the heat is coming from the expanding Earth eh? So, the deepest oceans, being closest to the heat source, are warming fastest, yes? As good an excuse for the atmosphere not behaving as the models predict as many advanced by enhanced greenhousers, I suppose, but that's not all that complimentary, is it?

"Tiny pikas seem to be on march toward extinction in Great Basin" - "The tiny rabbit-like American pika, an animal species considered to be one of the best canaries in a coal mine for detecting global warming in the western United States, appears to be veering toward the brink of extinction in the Great Basin. New research indicates the small mammals, which are very sensitive to high temperatures, are being pushed upward in their mountain habitat and are running out of places to live. Climate change and human activities appear to be primary factors imperiling the pika, reports University of Washington archaeologist Donald Grayson in the current issue of the Journal of Biogeography. Grayson's research which looks at a 40,000-year record of archaeological and paleontological sites, combined with yet unpublished work by several other researchers, paints a bleak future for the American pika (Ochotona princeps) in the Great Basin." (University of Washington)

Virtually: "Giant thaw threatens Far North" - "Most of the permafrost across the Canadian North will thaw several metres deep every summer by mid-century because of global warming, warns a new study published today. And that widespread thawing would wreak havoc on northern infrastructure designed for stable permafrost conditions, including exposing the proposed $7 billion Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline to devastating landslides. Experts say the thaw could also trigger the release of millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases from once-frozen tundra, and disrupt Arctic Ocean currents." (Toronto Star)

Gasp! Heresy... "Permafrost expert questions melting forecasts" - "An Alaskan permafrost expert is casting doubt on predictions from a new computer climate model, which foresees rapid melting in the north over the next century. A recent study by two American climate research centres says 90 per cent of the near-surface permafrost in the northern hemisphere could melt within the next 100 years. But Vladimir Romanovsky, who is with the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, says the study should have taken into account the cooling effects of lower layers of permafrost. "Because permafrost is a very inertial system and it will keep lots of cold which has to be removed before it starts to thaw," said Romanovsky." (CBC News)

"Mercury rising, stormy weather - our world is taking a battering" - "You see it in heat, you see it in ice, you see it in storms. Climate change without doubt became the critical environmental issue of 2005. The evidence of global warming occurring here and now mounted up during the year and is proving ever harder to ignore, even by habitual sceptics." (Michael McCarthy, London Independent)

"10 EU nations to miss Kyoto emissions goal" - "WASHINGTON, Dec. 28 -- European countries who led the attack on the Bush administration's stance on global warming are themselves failing by large margins to meet Kyoto Protocol targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. "Europe is the citadel of hypocrisy," charges Newsweek economics columnist Robert J. Samuelson. "To reduce emissions significantly, Europeans would have to suppress driving and electricity use... It won't happen." Ten of the European Union's 25 members are set to miss their Kyoto Protocol targets by 2010. Of the other 15, Great Britain is the sole member of the European Union to have made significant steps toward reducing greenhouse gases and honoring Kyoto commitments. Europe is not alone in the disparity between promise and action. According to the Canadian government Web site, Canada agreed to cut emissions by six percent below 1990 levels. Canada's emissions are up over 20 percent since 1990." (UPI)

"Japan: Govt's gas emissions up in 2004" - "The total amount of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide emitted by government offices in fiscal 2004 increased by 4.5 percent from the previous fiscal year, according to a survey conducted by the Environment Ministry, indicating the government has failed to curb emissions. The government had set a target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 7 percent by fiscal 2006 from fiscal 2001, but the survey found that total greenhouse gas emissions rose by 4.6 percent in fiscal 2004 from fiscal 2001." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

"Kyoto a failure, Macfarlane says" - "Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has declared the Kyoto Protocol on climate change a failure. The minister says a new Asia Pacific forum will be more effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Representatives from six countries including Australia, the US, and China, will gather in Sydney next month for the first meeting of a Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. Mr Macfarlane says the countries will represent half the world's economy and be more effective than the Kyoto forum. "By working together particularly with developing countries like China and India, we are going to make a far bigger impact on greenhouse gas reduction than a diplomatic protocol that has already failed which is the case with Kyoto," he said." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Labor denies Kyoto has failed" - "The Federal Opposition says Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane is wrong to say the Kyoto Protocol on climate change has failed." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

For the majority of the world that does not follow Australian politics, the Labor Party can be loosely described as the Australian version of America's Democrats - we also have [a very few] Democrats and they're roughly akin to fringe-dwelling Greens elsewhere in the world and we have Greens, which basically amounts to Senator Bob Brown and a couple of other people but what they stand for is anybodies' guess. On the plus side we have the Howard Government, composed of the nominally right-of-centre Liberals and the retrospective Nationals.

"Kyoto Protocol may have no future" - "2005 began very favorably for the Kyoto Protocol but has gradually changed from positive to pessimistic. The first international project aimed at lowering man's pressure on the atmosphere and stop climate change may have no future. Its outlook for 2006 is grim, as many experts say the unique document is hanging in the balance." (RIA Novosti)

"Goldman sees markets as solution to global warming" - "NEW YORK - Goldman Sachs Group thinks it can battle global warming, not by hugging trees, but by doing what comes naturally to a Wall Street powerhouse: trading. Goldman last month joined a growing list of investment banks, under pressure to withhold funds from projects that boost greenhouse gasses, that have promised to help protect forests and fend off global climate change. Yet while advocates for the environment usually talk of curbing development, Goldman Sachs insists it can promote "green" policy through the capital markets and investments." (Reuters)

"Maryland: Miller, Middleton cool to air quality bill" - "ANNAPOLIS — Two of the Senate’s most powerful Democrats said they are concerned that an air quality bill being pushed by environmentalists could cost jobs and lead to higher electricity costs." (Gazette)

"Global Cooling: Fear the Ice" - "The Ice Ages are not over. We’re still feeling the effects of the one that receded 12,000 years ago. I grew up on a farm in central Ohio, right on the terminal moraine. I spent my formative years toting glacier-dumped rocks from newly plowed fields, to put on the piles of rocks from the efforts of the previous century’s farm boys. So I have been meditating on the evils of Global Cooling since I was six or seven years old." (Bill Walker, LewRockwell.com)

"Homegrown fuel: a waste of energy?" - "While biodiesel has been pushed as a way to help both struggling farmers and the environment, in Washington state it's still more farmyard experiment than full-sized factory." (Seattle Times)

"Britain's nuclear power industry should act its age" - "THIS year has brought two energy-related issues to the centre of the political stage: global warming and security of energy supplies. The political response, so far, makes a nonsense of the usual ideological labels. We have a paradoxical position in which a Labour government is baited by industrialists for failing to “plan” energy supplies. It cheekily replies, defending liberalised energy markets, with homilies about supply and demand that could have been lifted from Milton Friedman." (Vince Cable, London Times)

[Vincent Cable is MP for Twickenham and Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor]

Not a very secret secret? "Revealed: top secret plan for nuclear power plant in Wales" - "A SECRET plan for a new nuclear power station in Wales has been hatched in Westminster. The UK Department of Energy privately wants a nuclear power station to be built on Anglesey, a senior Government source has told us." (Western Mail)

"Agencies implore state to build dams" - "California hasn't built a major reservoir in decades, and its most important reservoir by far -- the Sierra Nevada snowpack -- is in danger of shrinking because of global warming. Water agencies say those facts, coupled with projected population increases, mean that it is time for the state to get serious about building new dams. "Failure to consider these potential changes and develop the storage to address it will all but guarantee a future that swings from extreme floods to droughts on a regular basis," the Association of California Water Agencies reported in a "blueprint" for statewide water planning in May. That report, "No Time to Waste," was one of several this year to look at where California's water policy ought to go between now and 2030, when the state's population is expected to soar by 11 million, to nearly 50 million." (Contra Costa Times)

"New herbicide-resistant wheat takes root with little protest" - "Saskatchewan farmer Michael Kirk has a virtually invincible variety of wheat stashed in his bins ready for planting next spring. The wheat, known by the name CDC Imagine, stands straight even in high winds and unlike many varieties is not prone to losing its seeds in bad weather, says Kirk. But what really sets it apart is a gene mutation. CDC Imagine has been genetically altered so it keeps growing when sprayed with herbicides that normally make wheat shrivel up and die. It's a distinction that makes CDC Imagine the first herbicide tolerant wheat in Canada. Perhaps even more remarkable, this high-tech wheat has avoided the wrath of farmers, environmentalists, consumers and marketers who drove Monsanto's herbicide tolerant wheat out of Canada in 2004. The opposition was based on fears about possible human health hazards, increased weed resistance and fears of corporate control over important crops." (CanWest News Service)

"Biotech crops mark first decade with wins, losses" - "KANSAS CITY, Missouri - When Monsanto Co. introduced the world to genetically modified crops a decade ago, the biotech advancement was heralded as the dawn of a new era that could reduce world hunger, help the environment and bolster struggling farmers. Now, biotech beans, cotton, corn and canola are profit-drivers at Monsanto and are lifting the fortunes of rival companies like Swiss-based Syngenta and Dow AgroSciences LLC, a unit of Dow Chemical Co.. The gains are largely due to broad U.S. acceptance of crops that have been genetically altered to withstand weedkillers and insects, and backers say, generate higher yields. But as the industry celebrates its 10th anniversary, the early promises of biotech crops remain largely unrealized, and many countries have banned the technology amid concerns about potential danger for human health and the environment." (Reuters)

December 28, 2005

"Use DDT to fight malaria, say experts" - "There is no empirical evidence that attributes a medical complication on DDT, writes MALINGHA DOYA." (The East African)

"Aware of Political Ecosystem, Property Rights Advocate Embraces Conservation Plan" - "LIBERTY HILL, Tex. - Young cedar trees in the Texas Hill Country are obstructionist, brambly knots of vegetation. Older ones guzzle scarce moisture. When they are really mature, the golden-cheeked warbler, a songbird in danger of extinction, sometimes moves in.

So imagine the reaction in these precincts when, in the early 1990's, the Interior Department set out to protect the warbler by buying - or condemning - cedar-covered land. There were protests on the Capitol steps in Austin. One rancher took a bulldozer to his cedar trees. Others indicated they would tie the project up in court battles. The effort stalled.

Over a decade later, in a cultural and political turnabout, people like Kerry Russell, a lawyer, rancher and lifelong resident of the area, have largely bought into a conservation program that combines federal and state incentives with flexibility for landowners, who can participate by committing land to conservation purposes forever, or for as little as 10 years.

Part of the payoff is that they are shielded in those years from unilateral conservation actions by government, a provision that gave the program the name "Safe Harbor." (New York Times)

"Goldsmith hints at shift in Tory party's focus" - "Signs that the Conservative party may be trying to distance itself from business are emerging through some unusual comments from Zac Goldsmith, appointed by David Cameron, the party's leader, to develop a new environmental policy. First Mr Cameron announced in December he had no intention of becoming a "mouthpiece" for business. Now Mr Goldsmith, son of the financier Sir James Goldsmith and editor of The Ecologist magazine, looks likely to pick a fight with several big industrial interests." (Financial Times)

"Cash grab unhealthy" Imposing tax on junk food is a fat-headed idea" - "There's something precious about Jack Davis, the chair of the Calgary Health Region (who could lose some weight) advising Premier Ralph Klein (who could lose some weight) and Iris Evans, the health minister (who could lose some weight) that a new tax should be put on unhealthy food. If these politicians can't be motivated by their own personal interest to lose weight, or by the public pressure of seeing themselves on TV, do they think that a new tax will do it?" (Calgary Sun)

Kyoto promoters will be happy: "Putin's Senior Economic Adviser Abruptly Resigns" - "MOSCOW, Dec. 27 - The most outspoken of President Vladimir V. Putin's senior advisers abruptly resigned today, warning that Russia's nascent political freedoms have been lost and the Kremlin's economic choices have been poor. He also said that he had no more ability to influence the government's course." (New York Times)

"Kyoto Hypocrites" - "Environment: When world leaders met in Montreal earlier this month to discuss global warming, one idea won near-universal agreement: Because it refuses to sign or live by Kyoto, the U.S. is a villain. The reigning mythology goes like this: Europe and Canada have heroically struggled to save the planet by acting responsibly to cut greenhouse gases, while an economically rapacious U.S. does as it pleases and leaves the cleanup to others. Turns out neither is true -- a point we made at the time of the Montreal meetings, and which has been reinforced by a new report showing how out of whack global-warming rhetoric has gotten." (IBD)

"Europe 'behind on Kyoto pledges'" - "The UK is almost alone in Europe in honouring Kyoto pledges to cut greenhouse gases, a think-tank claims. Ten of 15 European Union signatories will miss the targets without urgent action, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) found. The countries include Ireland, Italy and Spain. France, Greece and Germany are given an "amber warning" and will not reach targets unless they put planned policies into action, the IPPR said. Only Sweden and the UK were on course to meet their commitments, the think-tank's study found." (BBC)

"EU states that berated Bush on Kyoto fail to hit emissions targets" - "MANY of the European nations responsible for coercing the United States to remain committed to combating climate change are named and shamed today as major polluters of the environment. A remarkable report has discovered Britain stands almost alone among 15 EU nations in making strides towards honouring Kyoto commitments to cut greenhouse gases." (The Scotsman)

"In Russia, Pollution Is Good for Business" - "MOSCOW, Dec. 24 - By its own admission, Russia's electricity monopoly is the world's largest corporate producer of greenhouse gases, accounting - by itself - for nearly as much carbon dioxide as is emitted by Britain. From smokestacks across Russia's 11 time zones, the company, Unified Energy Systems, spews out 2 percent of all human-generated carbon dioxide accumulating in the atmosphere. What will the utility get for being the world's largest greenhouse gas polluter? It is hoping for $1 billion. It is one of the paradoxes of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change that companies in Russia and other Eastern European countries, which are among the world's largest producers of greenhouse gases, are poised to earn hundreds of millions of dollars through trading their rights to release carbon dioxide into the air." (New York Times)

"Racing Toward Climate Disaster" - "BROOKLIN, Canada, Dec 27 - With 2005 the warmest year in modern times and new research confirming scientists' worst fears, most experts agree that urgent and innovative international action on climate change is needed." (IPS)

"Is Tennessee Melting?" - "Anyone reading the latest Associated Press article in the Tennessean titled "State follows world with warmer temperatures" might be led to believe that our beautiful state is turning into one giant oven. The article, which claims that Tennessee cities are "hotter than normal," is based on information and statistics provided by a political organization based in Washington, D.C. So, yes, I was a bit skeptical when reading the findings." (Dustin Hawkins, Editor, Capitol Hill Journal)

Some more end of year recycling: "Increase in heat is forecast" - "Purdue University study sees global warming causing hotter, drier Southwest summers by late in this century." (Arizona Daily Star)

So, if models are somewhere in the ballpark and allegations of 'hottest decade in hottest century for a millennium' are true then we would realistically expect at least the majority of record high state temperatures to have occurred just recently, no? However, NOAA's all-time temperature maximums by state (.pdf) indicates otherwise, with fewer than half (17/50) occurring since 1950 (and some of those are only the most recent of more than one such occurrence, meaning the temperature may also have been attained prior to 1950). In fact, just 5 are found in said 'hottest decade in hottest century for a millennium' and 3 of those are merely a reattainment of previously established highs. Even worse for the warming hand-wringers, the all-time temperature minimums by state (.pdf) show 24/50 (4 by reattainment) record minimums since 1950 - 7 (1 by reattainment) in the 'hottest decade in hottest century for a millennium'.

If the planet is warming as rapidly and catastrophically as alleged, why are these records 'upside down'? Why is there such a dearth of all-time highs compared with all-time lows? The allegations and the empirical record simply do not seem to reflect the same planet.

"Past Hot Times Hold Few Reasons to Relax About New Warming" - "Earth scientists with the longest frames of reference, particularly those whose specialties begin with the prefix "paleo," often seem to be the least agitated about human-caused global warming. This has been true even in 2005, a year that saw the biggest summer retreat of Arctic sea ice ever measured, a new sign that warming seas are rising at an accelerating pace and global temperatures continuing a sharp climb that began around 1990 and appears unmatched in 2,000 years. But these backward-looking experts have seen it all before." (New York Times)

"Heat and Cold-Related Deaths" - "During the past 100 years the earth has become warmer. Some questions are; how much warmer, who (or what) is responsible, and is it really a disaster in the making? This has led to a number of factoids about climate change. We hear that humans are responsible for the temperature increase, extreme weather events will increase, sea levels will rise, mosquito borne diseases will increase, more people will die because of rising temperatures, and the Kyoto Protocol will solve the global warming problem. The operative word here is that many of these are ‘factoids.’ What’s a factoid? Here’s a dictionary definition: “A piece of unverified or inaccurate information that is presented in the press as factual, often as part of a publicity effort, and that is then accepted as true because of frequent repetition." (Jack W. Dini, Plating & Surface Finishing, August 2005)

More on Sudden Climate Transitions - A Book by John D. Cox (Climate Science)

Are there trends in hurricane destruction? (Nature)

"Oregon global warming report is deceptive" - "Last month, the Institute for a Sustainable Environment at the University of Oregon published a report titled, "The Economic Impacts of Climate Change in Oregon: A Preliminary Assessment" (http://ri.uoregon.edu/publicationspress/Consensus_report.pdf). The report was accompanied by an open letter to the governor, state legislators and business leaders, calling for immediate action to reduce greenhouse gases in Oregon. The letter was co-signed by 50 economists, mostly affiliated with universities. Because of the clever way the letter was worded, many journalists thought the report itself had been co-authored by the 50 economists. This clearly affected their perception of the report's importance." (John Charles Jr., The Register-Guard)

"Ancient trees 'discovered' in Yellowstone" - "An independent scientist from Bozeman has documented some astonishingly ancient trees in Yellowstone National Park. John King has found live juniper trees 1,500 years old in the Mammoth Hot Springs area, and a live limber pine in the Absaroka Range that is an incredible 1,921 years old. When the limber pine tree sprouted, Christianity was beginning to root in the Middle East. King is a dendrochronologist, which means he studies tree rings, sifting out patterns of past events and hoping to provide relevant information for today's land managers. He's been collecting samples in recent months, and is now studying them, hoping to compile a better history of the region's climate and geological events." (Bozeman Chronicle)

"Evangelicals direct clout at global warming" - "What does the Bible say about global warming? Some evangelical Christian leaders hope to answer that question next year with a statement on climate change that could lend moral authority and political power to a smaller number of environmentalists pushing the issue." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

Unresolved Questions About the North Atlantic Thermohaline Circulation: They will likely not be answerable any time soon, according to a multitude of model simulations.

Subject Index Summaries:
Dust (Windblown Transport): How extensive are movements of windblown dust around the world?  What are their immediate and long-term effects?  Can anything be done about them?

Insects (Other Species): Will continued increases in the air's CO 2 content make insect herbivores more ravenous, while continued global warming leads to dramatic reductions in their ranges that may ultimately lead to the extinction of many of them?

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Amaranth, Korean Pine, Oilseed Rape, and Wheat.

Journal Reviews:
Variations in North Atlantic Surface Pressure: An intriguing new study explores the connection between surface pressure variations and concomitant variations in solar activity and galactic cosmic ray intensity.

Fifteen Hundred Years of Precipitation in the Ukraine: Is there anything unique about historical rainfall there over the past 15 centuries?

Global Change Consequences of the Thawing of Peatland Permafrost: Do they amplify or retard the ongoing rise in the air's CO 2 concentration?

Extinction: Some Plants Refuse to Go Quietly into the Night: Which ones?  And why?

Atmospheric CO 2 Enrichment Effects on Pharmacological Substances Produced by Plants: The ongoing rise in the air's CO 2 content is likely having a significant impact on the vitality of earth's inhabitants because of CO 2 -induced changes in health-affecting substances found in the plants they eat. (co2science.org)

"Scientists Try to Resolve Nuclear Problem With an Old Technology Made New Again" - "WASHINGTON, Dec. 25 - Decades ago, scientists and engineers thought it would be easy enough to deal with the radioactive waste from nuclear power plants: sort out and save the small portion that was reusable, and put the rest in a hole in the ground." (New York Times)

"Voters split over nuclear power" - "ICM poll reveals task facing Blair to persuade public of need for more plants." (The Guardian)

"Wind 101: Global Warming; Junk Science?" - "Almost as soon as the Kyoto Protocol on global warming came into effect on February 15, Kashmir suffered the highest snowfall in three decades with over 150 killed, and Mumbai recorded the lowest temperature in 40 years. Had temperatures been the highest for decades, newspapers would have declared this was proof of global warming. But whenever temperatures drop, the press keeps quiet." (Against the wind)

"Debate heats up over Earth's population" - "If you thought the planet was already struggling under the weight of billions of humans, think again. Researchers have worked out the population's ultimate limit, and claim the Earth could withstand up to 200,000 times as many of us." (The Guardian)

"Slowly, Cancer Genes Tender Their Secrets" - "Scientists are now finding that untangling the genetics of cancer is not impossible and are basing new treatments on their findings." (Gina Kolata, New York Times)

December 26, 2005

"Waiting for real aid" - "One year ago -- Dec. 26, 2004 -- a tsunami walloped a huge swathe of the world from Indonesia all the way to Africa. Some 300,000 people were swept to their deaths, from the grandson of the king of Thailand and the daughter and granddaughter of film director Richard Attenborough to Njoroge, a Nairobi car mechanic, who picked the wrong day for his first visit to the beautiful East African coast and died a statistical fluke, his country's solitary fatality from the disaster.

Across the Western world, TV viewers reached into their wallets, chipped in the best part of $5 billion, and left it in the hands of the United Nations and the "nongovernmental organizations," the world's self-proclaimed moral consciences.

You'll recall that, immediately after the tsunami, Jan Egeland, the Norwegian bureaucrat and big U.N. humanitarian honcho, gave a press conference attacking the "stinginess" of wealthy nations, like the Great Satan. Given that, at that moment, Mr. Egeland's vast, permanent 24/7 "humanitarian relief" bureaucracy was focusing on giving press conferences in New York, while the only actual "relief effort" was conducted ad hoc by the Pentagon and the Royal Australian Navy, his remarks seemed a little churlish, to say the least." (Mark Steyn, The Washington Times)

"Wishing us all a Happy Festivus" - "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! No, I haven’t some hidden agenda for converting anyone to Christianity or offending the seasonal Grinch. Just being friendly. Well, 2005 is almost in the can, and I am already looking forward to the 2006 op-ed pages. Here a few of my favorite “Calamity for Cash” issues. Green Peace and PETA — two nonprofit organizations trying to make the world a better place. Ya, right! Following these organizations’ “Do as I say, not as I do” philosophy, we should all drive down to the levee, toss our car keys in the river and walk home. Once home, shut off the gas, water and electricity, then enjoy the rest of your day. If you are hungry, diabetic or have heart issues, toss out your meat, milk and medication." (Bruce Langseth, Winona Daily News)

Mommy's cross? "We've finally pushed Mother Earth too far" - "And she's snapped back, hurling disaster after disaster at us, from hurricanes to killing drought. While some are natural calamities, many bear the soiled print of humankind, writes Oakland Ross." (Toronto Star)

Kudos for Megan Hawkins: "Weather trend not unusual: Disasters often run in cycles" - "The world is not ending. So say the experts on tsunamis, hurricanes and other natural disasters, including Jay Lawrimore, chief of the climate monitoring branch at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "There have been extremes, the most notable the hurricane season in the Atlantic," Lawrimore said. "But if you look at the global perspective, this year's weather has not been that unusual. "A lot of people get the idea that the climate is spinning out of control," but extreme, unusual weather events happen every year." (Des Moines Register)

If you'd like to let Megan know how nice it is to see reporting rather than sensational tripe this link should work.

The Week That Was Dec. 24, 2005 (SEPP)

"CO2 emission rights a hot Christmas gift for green Swedes" - "The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation said Thursday it was offering last-minute Christmas shoppers the chance to buy carbon dioxide emission rights in order to block polluting companies from doing so. "We think that the emission rights (within the EU) are too generous and we just want to use our power as consumers to buy these rights ... in order to reduce emissions," the head of the organisation, Svante Axelsson, told AFP. On January 1, the EU launched a system that enables companies which have not used up all their "polluting rights" to sell them to companies which have exceeded their limit. The sale of emission rights is open to the public, a fact which has not escaped SNF." (AFP)

"Fitness for a Kyoto upgrade" - "The recent Montreal meeting of parties to the Kyoto Protocol marked an important step forward toward post-Kyoto initiatives. Despite a frustrating start, the meeting, held to give further impetus to global-warming prevention efforts, ended with a promising decision: Major developed countries, including Japan and the member states of the European Union, agreed to set up a working group to study reduction targets after 2012, which is not stipulated in the protocol." (Japan Times)

"Bye-Bye, Kyoto" - "THE YEAR JUST ended was a fateful time for the Kyoto Protocol. It was the year in which the treaty, negotiated in 1997 as a way to slow global warming, formally took effect. That was in February. It was also the year in which Kyoto became operational, i.e., a whole bunch of rules were adopted at a conference in Montreal. That was in November. Finally, 2005 was the year in which it became painfully obvious that the treaty was a fiasco." (Dan Seligman, Forbes)

Uh-oh... "Earth's Albedo in Decline" - "On average, the Sun shines on Earth 341 watts of energy per square meter of surface area. The Sun beams more energy to our planet every hour than humanity uses in a whole year. This energy provides the fuel needed to support most of our world’s life forms, and it keeps our world warm enough to sustain them. Sunlight also provides the energy that powers Earth’s climate system." (Earth Observatory)

Everyone can play the 'somethingest' game: "Coldest December since late 1800s?" - "A weather expert says December 2005 is on pace to become one of the 10 coldest in more than 100 years, despite claims at a global conference on climate change this week that the Earth is getting warmer." 9WorldNetDaily.com)

Obligatory handwringer: "FEATURE-Can "tipping points" accelerate global warming?" - "OSLO, Nov 24 - Rising temperatures trigger a runaway melt of Greenland's ice sheet, raising sea levels and drowning Pacific islands and cities from New York to Tokyo. In Siberia, the permafrost thaws, releasing vast frozen stores of greenhouse gases that send temperatures even higher. In the tropics, the Amazon rainforest starts to die off because of a warmer, drier climate. Such scenarios may read like the script of a Hollywood disaster movie but many scientists say there are real risks of "tipping points" -- sudden, catastrophic changes triggered by human activities blamed for warming the planet. "Even small risks in the climate need to be considered, just as we try to avert accidents at nuclear power plants," said Stefan Rahmstorf, a professor at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and an expert in ocean currents. "I don't think this is scaremongering. We don't really understand the system," he said of risks that the warm Gulf Stream current in the North Atlantic might shut down in one possible "tipping point" scenario." (Reuters)

"Nuthatch invasion due to climate change" - "THE nuthatch, one of Britain's smallest birds, has begun breeding in Scotland for the first time, it was revealed yesterday. Until now, the tiny woodland bird has been totally restricted to England and Wales. But RSPB Scotland experts believe that milder weather patterns, due to climate change, have encouraged the nuthatch to make its home in parts of southern Scotland. And populations are now steadily making their way north towards the Central Belt." (The Scotsman)

"Polar bears treading on thin ice" - "Toronto — The population of polar bears along the western coast of Hudson Bay plunged by 22 per cent from 1987 to 2004, and if the trend continues, the big mammals will likely become extinct in the area within a few decades, says Ian Stirling, an Environment Canada research scientist. During the 17-year period, bear numbers dropped to fewer than 950 from 1,200, and climate change that is literally putting the animals on thin ice is being blamed." (Globe and Mail)

or not... "Polar bears defy extinction threat" - "THE world’s polar bear population is on the increase despite global warming, which scientists had believed was pushing the animal towards extinction. According to new research, the numbers of the giant predator have grown by between 15 and 25 per cent over the last decade." (The Scotsman, Feb. 7, 2005)

Now you know: “Inuit knew the climate would change” - "Simeonie Aqpik grew up in camps near Kimmirut, surrounded by the smells of Arctic heather and seal fat as he waited for hunters to return. When he shot his first ptarmigan, he says he was barely big enough to hold the butt of his uncle’s rifle. Now 74, the Kimmirut elder says he’s watched climate change happen first-hand. Nunatsiaq News asked him to share his observations." (Nunatsiaq News)

It is now obvious that the climate is changing, because the ice takes a long time to freeze and the sun rises from a different direction these days.” No word on which direction the sun used to rise from.

R-r-r-i-i-ight... "Reindeer gas 'too polluting'" - "SANTA Claus should leave Rudolph and his other reindeer in their stable and deliver presents by bus to make it a green Christmas, Liberal Democrats said today. Transport spokesman Tom Brake said that Santa's reindeer-drawn sleigh was not an environmentally-friendly mode of transport because the animals produce the greenhouse gas methane in their wind. According to the Lib Dems, nine reindeer would emit methane with a global-warming impact equivalent to 40,667 tonnes of carbon dioxide as they covered the 122 million miles needed to deliver to every house in the world. This makes his sleigh ride almost as environmentally unfriendly as an aircraft, which would produce 41,480 tonnes of CO2 on the Christmas Eve trip." (Evening News)

"Oil majors pumping cash into reinvention of image" - "IT’S energy without carbon emissions — almost — and BP is spending a mint telling us all about it. BP is advertising its proposal to build a novel power plant in Scotland that will extract hydrogen from natural gas and use it to make electricity while it stuffs the residual carbon dioxide down an old North Sea oil well." (London Times)

"Faith in Theory: Why "intelligent design" simply isn't science" - "When a federal judge in Pennsylvania struck down the efforts of a local school board to teach "intelligent design," he rightly criticized the wholly unscientific nature of that enterprise. Some people will disagree with his view, arguing that evolution is a "theory" and intelligent design is a "theory," so students should look at both theories.

But this view confuses the meaning of the word "theory." In science, a theory states a relationship between two or more things (scientists like to call them "variables") that can be tested by factual observations. We have a "theory of gravity" that predicts the speed at which two objects will fall toward one another, the path on which a satellite must travel if it is to maintain a constant distance from the earth, and the position that a moon will keep with respect to its associated planet." (James Q Wilson, Opinion Journal)

"Risk/benefit analysis of farmed versus wild salmon" - "On the one hand, farmed salmon has more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids than wild salmon. On the other hand, it also tends to have much higher levels of chemical contaminants that are known to cause cancer, memory impairment and neurobehavioral changes in children. What's a consumer to do? In general, a new study shows that the net benefits of eating wild Pacific salmon outweigh those of eating farmed Atlantic salmon, when the risks of chemical contaminants are considered, although there are important regional differences." (Cornell University News Service"

"Studying the fate of drugs in wastewater" - "Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have published an interesting study that sheds light on the fate of a familiar pharmaceutical as it enters the waste stream. In work initially described last year, NIST chemists investigated probable chemical reactions involving acetaminophen when the drug is subjected to typical wastewater processing. Acetaminophen is the most widely used pain reliever in the United States, and a study of 139 streams by the U.S. Geological Survey found that it was one of the most frequently detected man-made chemicals." (NIST)

"Researchers: Treated wood poses long-term threat" - "Arsenic from treated lumber used in decks, utility poles and fences will likely leach into the environment for decades to come, possibly threatening groundwater, according to two research papers published online Wednesday. Researchers from the University of Miami, the University of Florida and Florida International University examined arsenic leaching from chromated copper arsenate, or CCA-treated wood, from a real deck as well as from simulated landfills. Their conclusion: The deck wood leached high levels of arsenic into rainwater runoff and the soil -- and treated wood only continued leaching arsenic while sitting in simulated landfills." (University of Florida)

"Brazil: Contraband Transgenic Maize Causes Alarm" - "RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 23 - Reports of illegal imports of genetically modified maize in southern Brazil, crossing the Argentine border, have caused alarm among officials and experts, who warn that the crop's environmental effects could be worse than those of smuggled soybeans nine years ago." (Tierramérica)

"Discontent Simmers Over Change in German Farm Policy" - "A row over new Agriculture Minister Horst Seehofer's plans to cut backing for ecological farming and pave the way for genetically modified crops continues in the Christmas season." (Deutsche Welle)

December 23, 2005

"A Junk Science Christmas Carol" - "Last week’s revelations that a South Korean stem cell researcher faked results that were touted in the journal Science might result in a most Dickensian Christmas Eve for editor-in-chief David Kennedy, who shouldn’t be surprised if the ghost of Jacob Marley appears at his bedside warning of imminent visits by the Ghosts of Junk Science Past, Present and Future." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"S Korea cloning research was fake" - "Research into cloning embryonic human stem cells - hailed as a breakthrough earlier this year - was fabricated, South Korean investigators have said." (BBC)

"The 2005 Dubious Data Awards" - "STATS Sets The Record Straight on the Year's Biggest Science Reporting Flubs" (Stats)

"It's Getting Crowded on the Environmental Bandwagon" - "ENVIRONMENTAL do-goodism. Customers can't buy it. Shareholders can't invest in it. But a growing list of big-name companies appear to be spending ever-bigger chunks of their advertising budgets to promote it." (New York Times)

Our Christmas message: the sin of presentism and the state of fear (EnviroSpin Watch)

"A village flees for safer ground" - "A small island in Vanuatu is claimed to be the first in the world to have to move its community because of rising sea levels. Ben Bohane visits Tegua island." (Sydney Morning Herald)

Actually not, it's one of a series of relocations caused by tectonic and volcanic activity causing localised crust sinking (i.e., the sea's staying put, the island is physically sinking). This repeated misrepresentation is probably the prize-taker for global warming twaddle of the year.

"Cracks In the ‘Knowledge Monopoly’" - "This past July the UK House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs issued its report on “The Economics of Climate Change”. The members of the committee included five former Cabinet ministers, a former Financial Secretary to the Treasury, a former Governor of the Bank of England, a leading professor of economics, and a biographer of J. M. Keynes. All three main political parties were represented among the membership. The Special Adviser to the Committee was the late Professor David Pearce, one of the world’s best-known environmental economists. The Committee’s report was unanimous." (Hans H.J. Labohm, TCS)

Science Questions on the Global Surface Temperature Trends (Climate Science)

"Proving Science Bias" - "Two recent events underscore how predictable is the distortion of global warming by those who gain from exaggeration. The events were the Montreal “Conference of the Parties” which had signed the United Nations’ Kyoto Protocol on global warming, and the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco. Both took place in early December." (World climate Report)

"Aerosols cool more than expected" - "Researchers measure smog's effect on counteracting global warming." (Nature)

Huggers' nightmare: "Tree-planting projects may not be so green" - "Brides and grooms do it. Transatlantic travellers do it. And you might even be getting it for Christmas. Neutralising your carbon emissions is becoming the must-do activity for the eco-conscious citizen. But now an international team of scientists has raised an unexpected objection: some tree-planting projects may, they suggest, be doing more harm than good." (The Guardian)

"Michael Harrison's Outlook: Coal begins to make its comeback from the bottom of a dark and very deep pit" - "Forget about the nuclear renaissance. Old King Coal is back. Drax, Europe's biggest coal-fired station, has just floated on the stock market, International Power is extending the life of its one UK coal plant and now E.ON of Germany has unveiled plans to build the first new coal-fired station in Britain for 30 years. Coal was supposed to be the forgotten fuel, the dirty man of Europe, fit only for meeting the electricity needs of the developing world, where the stuff is plentiful and economic self-improvement still takes precedence over the trashing of the environment. In fact, the picture is nowhere near that straightforward. Coal still accounts for 40 per cent of the UK's electricity generating capacity and the proportion of the country's energy needs being met by coal is actually rising." (London Independent)

"Agriculture and environment indicator report available" - "Today the IRENA indicator report on agriculture and the environment has been released. It provides a comprehensive overview on the interactions between agriculture and the environment in the European Union and is a tool for monitoring the integration of environmental concerns into the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)." (Europa)

"EU may let gene crops into organic food-green groups" - "BRUSSELS - Draft EU laws on organic produce may allow genetically modified (GMO) food to creep into a sector that should be free of any biotechnology, green groups say. This week the European Commission proposed new regulations on organic farming that would allow products with up to 0.9 percent of GMO content -- acquired through accidental or unavoidable contamination -- to retain a label of "EU organic." (Reuters)

"Fear the “Reapers”" - "In a judgment with potentially far-reaching consequences that has been mostly ignored by the English-language media, a French court earlier this month acquitted 49 anti-GMO activists of charges of having destroyed fields of genetically-modified corn. The crops were being cultivated for experimental purposes by the American company Monsanto. The accused did not contest the facts of the case. Indeed, as members of an organized movement calling itself the “Volunteer Reapers” collective that makes a point of publicizing its acts of vandalism as “civil disobedience”, they could hardly have done so. “To act without masks and in plain day is our force and our form of democratic self-expression,” states the “Charter” of the “Volunteer Reapers”. Using a particularly obscure principle of French law, the defense argued that in vandalizing the Monsanto fields the “reapers” had responded to a “state of necessity”, thereby, in effect, rendering their crime… legal! Astonishingly, the court in Orléans agreed." (John Rosenthal, TCS)

December 22, 2005

Changes to the 'Global Thermometer'

As a great many readers have noted, our near-real-time 'Global Thermometer' has not been updating since December 5. Click here to see the explanation.

Many thanks to all who voted on a proposed course of action, in truth we didn't (alright, I didn't) expect 4,000+ people to send e-mail responses. Just shy of 0.1% of respondents feel we should scrap the project while, at time of posting, there is a difference of just 7 in the numbers who think we should simply carry on regardless and those who think we should start over. No problem, we think we know how to keep just about everyone happy - for the hyper-impatient, we have restored the numbers for now, just be aware that the number of responding stations is reduced - for those who agree that 1,000 stations is probably a bare minimum for trying to derive a land-based near-surface global mean temperature just bear with us, a new version will come online with the new year. Here's the new regime and rationale:

  • we are going to stick with the originally chosen base set of 1,003 reporting stations
  • we are aware that the sudden cessation of reports from a block of stations threw a spanner in the works
  • there is no guarantee this would not happen with another block of stations even if we select a new set
  • the 'missing' stations may begin reporting again at any time
  • we can maintain adequate reporting by substituting alternate values for missing station reports
  • we risk inducing bias by substituting values from outside our selected station set
  • the workaround for this is to substitute a derived value for each missing station report
  • the latitude and longitude of each station is stored in a local database
  • the overhead involved in creating a list of n stations in ascending distance from any desired station failing to report is not excessive
  • deriving the average of the closest n reporting stations as an estimate for our missing value is relatively trivial
  • trials have been conducted collecting reports from the 12 nearest reporters to arbitrarily selected reporting stations and the values calculated for each of the nearest 2 through all 12 reporting stations
  • these empirical tests show we can derive the 'correct' value more than 50% of the time and ±1 °C more than 90% of the time by using the round of the average of the 4 nearest reporting stations when testing a set of 10 reporting stations for 5 consecutive hours and that this 'accuracy' did not improve using any number from 5-12 nearest reporting stations (frequently worse, increasing the error) - using fewer than 4 nearest reporting stations only gave us 'true' values 40% & 75% of the time, respectively
  • empirical tests will need to be significantly more rigorous but we take this as proof of concept

So, there it is. Testing is not complete by any means but we think we can avoid inducing significant bias in the derived results and we think we should be able to keep results coming to suit those who like to see the numbers, even if they are less than optimal, and those who like to see the numbers as accurate as is practicable.

Bottom line: indicative numbers have been restored and better numbers are coming - just bear with us.

The Eco-Jackboot on Our Energy Throat - No. 2, (12/22/05) - As reported by the Washington Post (Dec. 22), the Senate failed "to cut off debate on legislation to open Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. It was another defeat for oil companies and for Alaskan lawmakers who have sought access to the refuge's coastal plain for more than two decades. Despite rising oil prices and growing concern over the nation's dependence on foreign oil, lawmakers still appear unprepared to buck the ardent opposition of environmentalists and allow drilling rigs into the Alaskan wilderness." The Post forgot to mention that the environmentalists' blocking of ANWR is also a defeat for the rest of us who need affordable and available energy.

"Experts wonder why disaster warnings don't work" - "WASHINGTON -- New Orleans received more warnings about the threat posed from a major hurricane than any other location in the country over at least the past decade. Study after study by meteorologists, coastal engineers, sociologists and emergency managers, among others, spelled out doomsday scenarios for the only major metropolitan area in the United States lying below sea level. While the predictions initially may have been published in specialized scientific journals or presented to colleagues at scientific meetings, they were amply repeated hundreds of times in the popular media. Yet ever since Hurricane Katrina came ashore Aug. 29, those scientists and policymakers at all levels of government have been wondering why the dire forecasts didn't make more difference on the ground. After Katrina, they're wondering what else the disaster-research community needs to do to limit the scope and impact of future calamities elsewhere around the country." (Scripps Howard News Service)

Recycling the old "it'd be warmer if it wasn't being cooled": "Pollutants ward off global warming, study finds" - "Cutting air pollution could trigger a greater surge in global warming than previously thought, suggesting future rises in sea level and other environmental consequences have been underestimated, climate scientists report today." (The Guardian)

"Blocking sunshine with aerosol may help avoid global warming" - "Bringing the planet's temperatures down by reducing the amount of sun rays falling on it may help avoid global warming. This hypothesis was voiced by director of the Global Climate and Ecology Institute at Rosgidromet and the Russian Academy of Science, Yury Israel." (Pravda.ru)

"Warming Arctic Sees Return of Blue Mussels After 1,000 Years" - "After a thousand years, blue mussels—helped along by warmer water temperatures—have returned to high-Arctic seas. Their comeback could have serious implications for Arctic ecosystems and may be a sign of climate change, according to scientists." (National Geographic News)

If they have returned, who drove all the SUVs to heat up the planet a thousand years ago?

"American global warming gas emissions accelerate to a record high" - "Emissions of global warming gases from the United States have nearly doubled in 14 years and reached an all-time high in 2004, according to figures released by the American government. But new analysis suggests Europe is also falling behind in its attempt to meet legally binding United Nations targets." (John Vidal, The Guardian)

John Vidal is certainly no orphan in making ridiculous statements about total emissions as opposed total anthropogenic emissions. It may well be true that the US, representing roughly a quarter of the world's economy, also emits roughly a quarter of emissions from consumption of fossil fuels. What is not true, or even close, is that this represents a quarter of total greenhouse emissions since 'nature' outdoes human contribution by a ratio of about 20:1. Wonder if that makes nature multiple times more 'evil' than that dreadful engine of the world's prosperity?

"Kyoto's Timetables, UN Red Tape Count Against Africa" - "JOHANNESBURG, Dec 21 - Africa stands to access hundreds of millions of dollars for clean energy projects and for adapting to adverse effects of climate change after this month's pivotal talks on global warming in Montreal, Canada. But commentators warned this window of opportunity was closing fast." (IPS)

"'Clean' fuel targets set for vehicle emissions in EU" - "A quarter of all new European buses, dustcarts and other public vehicles will have to run on "clean" fuels such as natural gas and biomass by 2008 under new laws proposed yesterday by the European commission to cut pollution." (The Guardian)

"China, UK ink carbon capture technology deal" - "China and the United Kingdom yesterday agreed upon a joint development programme of carbon capture and storage technology (CCS), in an effort to combat global warming." (People's Daily)

"Blair faces organised rebellion on nuclear issue" - "A group of Labour MPs are organising to prevent Tony Blair pressing ahead with a new generation of nuclear power stations, claiming that ministers will have to subsidise the nuclear industry massively to make it viable. It is the first sign of parliamentary opposition to nuclear power since the prime minister announced an energy review in the autumn, and is backed by the environment minister Elliot Morley." (The Guardian)

"Ears of plenty: The story of man's staple food" - "IN 10,000 years, the earth's population has doubled ten times, from less than 10m to more than six billion now and ten million soon. Most of the calories that made that increase possible have come from three plants: maize, rice and wheat. The oldest, most widespread and until recently biggest of the three crops is wheat. To a first approximation wheat is the staple food of mankind, and its history is that of humanity." (The Economist)

"Germany Starts Sowing GM Seeds" - "In a sharp departure from existing policy, Germany's new agriculture minister is promoting genetically modified technology instead of organic farming. Now, the first three types of GM corn have received approval." (Deutsche Welle)

December 21, 2005

"Leaders: Ten years on from 1995 - Corporate responsibility in modern times" - Estimates of the progress made in the corporate responsibility movement over the last decade depend on who you ask, but dialogue-based collaboration between companies and key stakeholders is the only way forward towards 2015." (EthicalCorp.com) Free .pdf copy

The above piece carries a picture with the caption "Brent Spar: A watershed moment" - let's consider the Brent Spar fiasco.

In June 1995 Greenpeace campaigners tied themselves to the Spar, an oil rig owned by Shell that was due to be submerged at sea. Claiming that the rig contained over 5,000 tons of oil, Greenpeace demanded that Shell dispose of it in a more "environmentally sound manner." But Greenpeace's claims had no basis in fact: The platform contained only about 75 tons of oil, a trivial amount of oil by the standards of deep-sea drilling, which would have dispersed harmlessly had the platform been dumped. Following the firebombing of several Shell service stations in Continental Europe, however, Shell caved in to the protesters and, at huge cost, the platform was carved up and used as the foundation of a Norwegian ferry quay.

Depending on your view of Greenpeace, the Brent Spar campaign was either badly mistaken or simply blatant lies. What did the `peas achieve? Well, they damaged some pension funds by increasing Shell's costs considerably. They hurt some Mom & Pop investors by reducing the return on their invested hard-earned bucks. And they killed some rare corals. (Swedish liberal arts and social science magazine, Axess, briefly discussed this in The dilemmas of political consumerism, admitting Greenpeace to be the aggressive villains but this did Shell no good - being right is no defence.)

Apparently firebombing and the organised vandalising of crops, infrastructure, animal husbandry enterprises and resource industries, along with transport impedance, enterprise invasions and brand extortion are "non-violent/peaceful protest" - at least to antisocial, anti-corporate Greenpeace.

Greenpeace is certainly a multinational corporation, what we might facetiously call "Big Protest," but responsible? Oh puh-lease! Genuinely responsible corporations will have nothing to do with Greenpeace other than constantly reminding consumers how a once well-intentioned organisation has degenerated into a bunch of intemperate extortionists which has had nothing to contribute to the welfare of Man nor Planet for decades.

Uh-huh... "Climate change concert at stadium" - "The Millennium Stadium is to host a charity concert as part of a campaign to raise awareness over climate change. The One Earth Concert will take place on Saturday 28 January and feature a line up of 10 bands. The Super Furry Animals, The Darkness and The Strokes have already been confirmed with more bands expected to be named in the next few weeks. The event will be televised worldwide and is part of a global campaign by organisation Climate Change Now (CCN)."

A global campaign by Climate Change Now, who don't want the climate to change now - or ever...

Interestingly enough, this would fit many people's thoughts on "Climate change" - "Here was a minor Christmas miracle: how can you stumble through the frost to Gatwick in the morning and be sipping a cocktail on an island beach by sunset? We sat on the seats outside our room in Antigua, grinning, stunned. In the quick tropical fade to darkness, it was just as magical: shimmering lights on the water, a full moon and a wall of sound from the crickets, like a strange futuristic orchestra." (The Guardian)

Could, would, if, might, maybe, but... we feel for that virtual world modellers keep abusing - gosh they give it a hard time: "Melting of permafrost threatens homes and roads, scientists warn" - "Global warming could melt almost all of the top layer of Arctic permafrost by the end of the century. Scientists say the thaw would release vast stocks of carbon into the atmosphere, threaten ocean currents and wreck roads and buildings across Canada, Alaska and Russia." (The Guardian)

No, wait! Greenland ice decreasing this week: "NASA's Grace Finds Greenland Melting Faster, 'Sees' Sumatra Quake" - "In the first direct, comprehensive mass survey of the entire Greenland ice sheet, scientists using data from the NASA/German Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace) have measured a significant decrease in the mass of the Greenland ice cap. Grace is a satellite mission that measures movement in Earth's mass." (JPL)

Sudden attack of realism: "NZ: Carbon tax ditched" - "The Government has dumped its planned carbon tax, but more targeted tax could still proceed. The u-turn on the $360m a year tax was announced today by Climate Change Minister David Parker. The tax, designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, was set to come into effect in April 2007." (NZPA)

Bah! Humbug! "Turkey and all the trimmings: 2m tonnes of extra greenhouse gases" (The Guardian)

And chewy on your boot too, Alok Jha, ya miserable bugger! It's Christmas!

"Gas Emissions Reached High in U.S. in '04" - "American emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming rose 2 percent from 2003 to 2004, nearly double the average annual rate." (New York Times)

The Role of Human Intervention in the Mediterranean Region on the Earth System including Climate (Climate Science)

"MSG-2 will advance long-term monitoring of Earth's energy balance" - "This week's launch of MSG-2 will ensure that satellite images continue to be available to European weather forecasters well into the next decade. It also marks a new chapter in a long-term space experiment measuring the available energy that drives the weather as a whole, and helping to establish how much the Earth is heating up." (European Space Agency)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

More Confusion About the Ocean's Thermohaline Circulation: Is the Atlantic meriodional overturning circulation increasing, decreasing or holding constant?

Subject Index Summaries:
Little Ice Age (Conterminous United States): Evidence of the Little Ice Age in America can be found in studies conducted from coast to coast across the United States.

Insects (Moths): Will the ongoing rise in the air's CO 2 content induce moth larvae to devour more of the planet's vegetation?

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Cotton, Japanese White Birch, Rubber Tree, and Wheat.

Journal Reviews:
A 300-Year Multi-Proxy Hydro-Ecological Record from Spruce Island Lake, Canada: How has it been impacted by natural and anthropogenic factors since AD 1700?

Late-Holocene Drought on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula: When was it most pronounced?  And what were its consequences for Mayan civilization?

Late Holocene Glacial Variations in Italy: How have they behaved over the past 6000 years?

North American Boreal Productivity Trends: 1982-2003: Have they risen like those of earth's tropical forests?

Effects of Bleaching and Cyclones on Coral Reefs of French Polynesia: How have the corals of French Polynesia responded to the repeated assaults of these major natural disturbances over the past several years? (co2science.org)

"Ford Calls for Broad Discussion On Carbon-Dioxide Emissions" - "Ford Motor Co., in a move urged by environmental groups, will embrace the concept of stabilizing global carbon dioxide, in what appears to be a first for a major auto maker.

But Ford won't commit to achieving a specific target for higher fuel economy in its vehicles. Instead, the auto maker's chairman and chief executive, William Clay Ford Jr., will call for a "broader discussion" about how to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions across the economy, said Niel Golightly, Ford's director of sustainable business strategies. Ford will "recognize a societal goal of achieving climate stabilization," said Mr. Golightly." (The Wall Street Journal)

"Natural gas treads a global path" - "Once global gas trading becomes more commonplace, U.S. natural gas prices should sink." (USA TODAY)

"Wind farm firm 'inflated figures'" - "The company behind a controversial proposed wind farm used misleading figures about its potential impact on global warming, the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has ruled." (Press Association)

"National park says not on our land to wind farm" - "SCOTLAND's biggest national park is objecting to plans to build a 34-turbine wind farm on the edge of its boundary. The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) says the proposed development at Glenkirk, Tomatin, would have an unacceptable visual impact and would potentially harm tourism in the area. It also has concerns over the impact on protected species, such as golden eagles." (The Scotsman)

"Loving Nuclear Power" - "Why are growing numbers of 'green' visionaries hopping on the bandwagon of the most ill-conceived and dangerous energy source in the world?

One would think that environmentalists these days would be giddy over the high price of fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas. It has long been the prediction that when these finite and polluting fuels increased in cost due to supply shortages, that we as a society would finally make the transition to the renewable, sustainable energy system that has always seemed to lie just out-of-reach, beckoning to us just over the horizon.

But then something shocking happened. Growing numbers of "green" visionaries started beating the drum for more nuclear power, a technology that in the past has been a lightening rod to spur on activists to protest and demand for a greater reliance upon efficiency and solar, wind and other renewable energy technologies." (Peter Asmus, AlterNet) | Nuclear Comes Back To the Party (John Elkington and Mark Lee, Grist Magazine)

Gee, Pete, maybe they just grew up or, maybe, they actually figured out they were wrong before?

"Australia: Academics talk up domestic nuclear power" - "Nuclear power is a cheaper and more environmentally friendly option in Australia than has been previously thought, researchers say. A group of scientists from the University of Melbourne, led by Associate Professor of Physics Martin Sevior, has released a study of the energy problems confronting Australia in the future. They compared the environmental impact, health risks, economic effects and social implications of the use of fossil fuels, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar energy, and nuclear power. The study concluded that previous research by Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen and Philip Smith - widely considered the industry standard in Australia - had overestimated the energy cost of mining uranium by as much as a factor of 10." (AAP)

"E.ON looks at building coal-fired power plant in Britain" - "THE UK’s second-biggest energy retailer and generator is considering building Britain’s first coal-fired power station for 30 years. E.ON, the owner of Powergen, said yesterday that concerns over security of supply meant that it was looking at building a power station fired by “clean coal”, the first built in the UK since Drax, which was completed in 1974." (London Times)

"Norway Has Vast, Inaccessible Seabed Coal – Statoil" - "OSLO - Vast coal reserves beneath the seabed off Norway could supply world demand for centuries if scientists ever found ways to tap the deposits, an official at Norwegian oil and gas group Statoil said on Tuesday." (Reuters)

"Caution urged with green energy economics" - "VANCOUVER -- An energy proposal -- unveiled last week and included Tuesday in Gov. Christine Gregoire's budget -- gets good grades from some experts for considering alternative sources of fuel, but others warn the solution might not be as green as it appears. At the Washington State University Vancouver campus where he teaches environmental policy courses, political science Professor Paul Thiers said the issue of alternative fuel sources is a complex matter that requires a thoughtful look at the big picture. Specifically, one concern is how much energy is required to grow and harvest alternative fuel sources -- such as corn, grain and canola -- to turn into bio-fuels." (The Oregonian)

"Melanoma risk only partially associated with exposure to UVB from sunlight" - "Researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center have found that the risk of developing melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, is only partially associated with exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation, the rays in sunlight that increase in summer and cause sunburn.

The report in the Dec. 21 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute also indicates that only nonmalignant skin cancers (basal and squamous cell carcinoma) are strongly associated with exposure to UVB radiation.

That does not mean, however, that sunbathing poses a minimal risk of developing melanoma. Researchers say that ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation, the rays in sunlight that reach the deeper layers of skin and are associated with signs of aging, can damage the DNA in melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells that give rise to melanoma." (University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center)

"Researchers show how air pollution can cause heart disease" - "New York, December 20, 2005--New York University School of Medicine researchers provide some of the most compelling evidence yet that long-term exposure to air pollution--even at levels within federal standards--causes heart disease. Previous studies have linked air pollution to cardiovascular disease but until now it was poorly understood how pollution damaged the body's blood vessels." (New York University Medical Center and School of Medicine)

"Motorbikes '16 times worse than cars for pollution'" - "Motorbikes are churning out more pollution than cars, even though they make up only a small fraction of vehicles on the roads, according to a report." (The Guardian)

"EPA Proposes New Health - Based Soot Limits" - "WASHINGTON -- The Environmental Protection Agency proposed stricter daily limits Tuesday for how many microscopic particles of air pollution, or soot, are safe for all Americans to breathe from the nation's smokestacks and tailpipes. The proposed new health-based air standards represent one of government's most far-reaching decisions. They affect millions of lives, and could force states to make industries spend billions of dollars to clean up coal-burning power plants, diesel-powered equipment, trucks and industrial boilers." (AP)

"Judge Rejects Teaching Intelligent Design" - "HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 20 - A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that it was unconstitutional for a Pennsylvania school district to present intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in high school biology courses because it is a religious viewpoint that advances "a particular version of Christianity." In the nation's first case to test the legal merits of intelligent design, the judge, John E. Jones III, issued a broad, stinging rebuke to its advocates and provided strong support for scientists who have fought to bar intelligent design from the science curriculum. Judge Jones also excoriated members of the Dover, Pa., school board, who he said lied to cover up their religious motives, made a decision of "breathtaking inanity" and "dragged" their community into "this legal maelstrom with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources." (New York Times) | Text: The Opinion (.pdf)

People-haters upset: "New Forestry Law Sets Colombia Back Half a Century" - "BOGOTA, Dec 20 - A forestry bill about to be signed into law by the Colombian government will set the country back half a century in terms of conservation of forests, according to environmentalists." (IPS)

Following a horrendously successful 3-4 decade period misanthropists camouflaged in green clothing are finally suffering a few reversals. This is a very good thing since the only way to accommodate people and wildlife on this planet is to maximise development, productivity and wealth (only comparatively wealthy societies can afford to view 'nature' as other than a resource).

It never ceases to amaze us that otherwise rational people continue to fall for the propaganda issuing from a movement whose founders and leadership are responsible for such quotes as:

  • "Man is always and everywhere a blight on the landscape" (John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club);
  • "The world has a cancer, and the cancer is man" (Alan Gregg, Rockefeller Foundation);
  • "To feed a starving child is to exacerbate the world population problem" (Lamont Cole, Yale University);
  • "We've already had too much economic growth in the United States. Economic growth like ours is the disease, not the cure" (Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University);
  • "Isn't the only hope for the planet that the industrialised civilizations collapse? Isn't it our responsibility to bring that about?" (Maurice Strong, head of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and Executive Officer for Reform in the Office of the Secretary General of the United Nations) and let's not forget another 'greenhouse champion';
  • "The only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another United States. We can't let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization, we have in the U.S.. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are." (Michael Oppenheimer, Princeton University/Environmental Defense).

Sure these people are friends and allies of impoverished peoples and underdeveloped regions - provided such peoples and regions really want to be maintained as impoverished, disease-ridden museum exhibits.

Slight reality check: "FEATURE-British biologist uses carbon trading to grow forests" - "KUCHING, Malaysia, Dec 21 - British biologist Ian Swingland took up the idea of trading commodities to fund afforestation programs after he witnessed the devastation caused by logging in the Malaysian rainforests of Borneo in 1998, two decades after his first visit there.

Swingland lived alone for two years in the 1970s on the coral atoll of Aldabra in the Indian Ocean. There he studied the giant tortoises, numbering around 154,000, the island's only other inhabitants.

Now his company has bought about 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) of Kangaroo Island, Australia's third-largest island, to demonstrate that afforestation can offer a major investment opportunity through trading in carbon credits.

"Conventional conservation is a disaster story," Swingland, the founder of Britain's Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology at the University of Kent, said in an interview.

"What isn't a disaster is where you make a business of it, and everybody's lives are improved by it, and we give them ownership of their own future." (Reuters)

Probably should point out, since this goes on to talk about koalas on Kangaroo Island, that koalas are feral on KI, having been introduced by Europeans post settlement and they are creating havoc with KI's native forest. They should actually be shot out but spineless politicians, fearing adverse news coverage, have instead implemented an absurd capture, sterilise and release program - at truly extraordinary expense.

"Curing Medicine's 'Orphans' - When Rich Countries Ignore Far-Away Diseases" - "Six years ago a mosquito-borne disease called West Nile virus arrived in the United States. It caused inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, killing perhaps one in every 100 people who developed symptoms; this year there have been 85 American fatalities. Not surprisingly, the nation's medical high command has sprung into action. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health have been handed millions to spend on West Nile virus, up from pretty much nothing before the disease reached the United States.

Now consider Japanese encephalitis, a cousin of West Nile virus that is also borne by mosquitoes and also causes inflammation. Japanese encephalitis kills one in three of its victims rather than one in every hundred; it leaves many survivors with brain damage. But because this vicious variant hasn't reached the United States yet, you probably haven't heard of it. Congress isn't spending much on Japanese encephalitis, and never mind the fact that it kills many more people than the West Nile sort." (Sebastian Mallaby, The Washington Post)

"Combining food additives may be harmful, say researchers" - "New research on common food additives, including the controversial sweetener aspartame and food colourings, suggests they may interact to interfere with the development of the nervous system." (The Guardian)

Back on the synergy trail guys? Might want to ask Tulane how that turns out...

India to Count Tigers with Computers (Reuters)

Should be a quick count - after all, how many tigers have computers?

Today's research smile

"EU Farm Ministers Clash on GMO Maize Approval" - "BRUSSELS - EU agriculture ministers failed to agree on Tuesday on authorising imports of a genetically modified (GMO) maize, again revealing their deep divisions over biotech crops and foods, officials said." (Reuters)

"EU Warns France, Germany over Lapses in GMO Laws" - "BRUSSELS - France and Germany received final warnings on Tuesday of legal action and possible fines unless they quickly update their national laws on genetically modified (GMO) foods and crops, the European Commission said." (Reuters)

"Researchers to speed up ‘golden rice’ yield" - "BANGALORE, DEC 20: Intense efforts are under way for commercial production of genetically-engineered ‘golden rice’ which can help prevent blindness by boosting vitamin A intake bolstered by a new strain. Compared with the original golden rice unveiled in 2000, ‘golden rice 2’ contains up to 23 times more provitamin A, the substance converted in the body into vitamin A. This vitamin is vital for preventing childhood blindness, which affects thousands of children in India each year." (Financial Express)

December 20, 2005

Is Soil an Important Component of the Climate System? (Climate Science)

"Chinese Companies, World Bank Sign $930 Million Pollution Credit Deal" - "A World Bank fund signed deals Monday to buy pollution credits from two Chinese chemical companies for $930 million under a plan that lets richer countries meet commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions by paying for reductions in poorer economies, report The Associated Press and Dow Jones (12/19).

The agreements were the biggest yet for the fund, set up as part of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, the Bank said. Richer countries can meet their treaty commitments by buying credits from the fund. The two Chinese companies, Jiangsu Meilan Chemical Co. Ltd. and Changshu 3F Zhonghao New Chemicals Material Co. Ltd., agreed to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 19 million tons a year for an unspecified period, the Bank said. "With this project China will move to the forefront of countries making contributions to mitigate the effects of climate change," Teresa Serra, the World Bank's East Asia Director for the Environment and Social Development, said in a written statement." (noticias.info)

'No? Duh!' of the moment: "Trade can 'export' CO2 emissions" - "New research from the US shows that trade can significantly affect emissions of greenhouse gases. Researchers found that US imports of goods from China cause a greater production of carbon dioxide than if the goods were made in the US. Factories in developing countries tend to use more energy than in the west. The researchers say emissions control measures such as the Kyoto Protocol could "export" carbon-intensive industries to the developing world. This has long been a contention raised by critics of the Protocol." (BBC)

"U.S. Greenhouse Gases Rose 2 Percent" - "WASHINGTON, Dec. 19, 2005--Emissions of gases blamed for warming the atmosphere grew by 2 percent in the United States last year, the Energy Department reported Monday. The report came just nine days after a United Nations conference where the United States and China refused to join any talks for imposing binding limits on emissions of those gases. The so-called greenhouse gases, led by carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, rose to 7.12 million metric tons, up from 6.98 million metric tons in 2003, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said. That's 16 percent higher than in 1990, and an average annual increase of 1.1 percent." (AP)

"Tornadoes milder in '05" - "With 102 twisters and no deaths, it's calmest year in nearly 2 decades" (The Dallas Morning News)

What? Not blaming AGW?

"Climate scientists struggle to decipher winds of change" - "The easiest way to make a climate expert flinch is to say: "So, all these really bad hurricanes must be caused by global climate warming, right?" Some will answer yes. Some no. And still others will say, well, maybe. Confusing? Absolutely. But that's the current state of climate science for you." (Tom Spears, CanWest News Service; Ottawa Citizen)

"Hurricanes Intensify Global Warming Debate" - "If there is one thing everyone involved in the great global-warming debate should be able to agree on, it is that global warming didn't "cause" hurricane Katrina—and neither did George W. Bush." (Discover)

"Majestic, mysterious, monstrous" - "The warm Gulf Stream turns deadly when it meets Arctic cold to form the Northeast's worst winter storms." (Anthony R. Wood, Philadelphia Inquirer)

Once more into the virtual realm... "Most of Arctic's near-surface permafrost to thaw by 2100" - "Global warming may decimate the top 10 feet (3 meters) or more of perennially frozen soil across the Northern Hemisphere, altering ecosystems as well as damaging buildings and roads across Canada, Alaska, and Russia. New simulations from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) show that over half of the area covered by this topmost layer of permafrost could thaw by 2050 and as much as 90 percent by 2100. Scientists expect the thawing to increase runoff to the Arctic Ocean and release vast amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.

The study, using the NCAR-based Community Climate System Model (CCSM), is the first to examine the state of permafrost in a global model that includes interactions among the atmosphere, ocean, land, and sea ice as well as a soil model that depicts freezing and thawing. Results appear online in the December 17 issue of Geophysical Research Letters." (NCAR/UCAR)

"Computer Models Don’t Always Work" - "What grade would you give someone who was correct 20 percent of the time? Not passing for sure. However, being right 20 percent of the time got some authors published in the prestigious journal Science." (Jack W. Dini, Plating & Surface Finishing, May 2005)

Liberté - Egalité - Fraternité? "France Overrides Wind Energy Foes" - PARIS - Only a massive immediate investment in wind energy and the installation of up to 6,000 new wind turbines around the country over the next decade will permit France to reach its target of further reducing carbon dioxide emissions, according to a new report by a state agency." (IPS)

"Sea power to provide electricity" - "The power of the sea is to be harnessed to generate electricity at the mouth of Strangford Lough in County Down. Electricity for about 800 homes will be provided by a turbine to be built as part of a five-year pilot project. The turbine, powered by the currents at Strangford Narrows, will be connected to the national grid next autumn." (BBC)

"Gasoline May Rise on New '06 Green Rules - Lundberg" - "NEW YORK - US consumers recovering from record high gasoline costs last summer may now face a nearly 60-cent price surge next year because of stricter environmental regulations, an industry expert said." (Reuters)

"Alaska oil drilling myths" - "Drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) makes so much sense, it's no wonder opponents must twist the facts to make it controversial. Yesterday, at last, common sense prevailed when the House passed by 308-106 a bill to authorize development of ANWR. We're talking about 10 billion barrels of domestic oil in an area where there has been a proven track record for environmentally responsible drilling. Yet a host of tall tales from environmental activists and like-minded journalists has made it a tough fight in Washington." (Ben Lieberman, The Washington Times)

"Tire fuel sparks fiery environmental debate" - "SHOREHAM, Vermont - A campaign in Vermont to stop a paper mill in neighboring New York from burning scrap tires as fuel has galvanized one of the greenest U.S. states into one of its biggest environmental battles. But after a two-year fight, the state appears to be on the verge of defeat." (Reuters)

Today's moonbattery: "They call themselves libertarians; I think they're antisocial bastards" - "The car is slowly turning us, like the Americans and the Australians, into a nation that recognises only the freedom to act." (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

"Evolution ruling expected" - "The federal lawsuit on intelligent design will likely chart the future of science education." (Philadelphia Inquirer)

"Global Trend: More Science, More Fraud" - "A global explosion in research is outstripping the mechanisms meant to guard against error and fraud." (New York Times)

"Environmental prize for UN chief" - "UN secretary-general Kofi Annan has been given one of the most prestigious environmental awards, the Zayed Prize." (BBC)

"Overfishing may drive endangered seabird to rely upon lower quality food" - "Berkeley -- The effects of overfishing may have driven marbled murrelets, an endangered seabird found along the Pacific coast, to increasingly rely upon less nutritious food sources, according to a new study by biologists at the University of California, Berkeley.

The results, to be published online by early March 2006 in the journal Conservation Biology, suggest that feeding further down the food web may have played a role in low levels of reproduction observed in contemporary murrelet populations, and has likely contributed to the seabirds' listing as an endangered species, the researchers said." (University of California - Berkeley)

"Here Come the Bio-Vikings!" - "A new Swedish scientific expedition will invite accusations of biopiracy -- using and patenting genetic or biological resources without the consent of the country of origin -- from some environmentalists. But this group of would-be biovikings could prove as beneficial to our modern world, by forcing us to resolve an important issue, as were their Viking forebears with their exploring and trading." (Waldemar Ingdahl, TCS)

"Let Them Eat Precaution" - "How Politics Is Undermining the Genetic Revolution in Agriculture" (AEI Online)

"GM Expert Targets Teenagers Controversial Academic to Present Flagship Science Lecture for Children" - "A LEADING scientist is to use a series of televised educational lectures to promote genetically modified crops to teenagers. Professor Sir John Krebs, the former chairman of the Food Standards Agency, will argue in this year's Royal Institution Christmas Lectures that growing genetically modified crops could help meet the demands of feeding the world's rising population." (Sunday Herald via RedOrbit)

"EPA to look at GM food allergies" - "Starting in 2006, the EPA will offer an estimated 3 million dollars for allergy research with genetically modified foods." (CheckBiotech.org)

"Dead Sea fungus's secret of survival may help crops" - "An extraordinary fungus that manages to thrive in the super-salty Dead Sea could one day open up new genetic approaches to creating crops that can tolerate saline soils." (NewScientist.com news service)

December 19, 2005

Comments on the Media Report that 2005 is (or is nearly so) a Record Hot Year. (Climate Science)

The UK: end-of-term political review with respect to climate change and carbon claptrap (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Leading British Economists Question Current Climate Change Policies" - "In a significant development, four leading British economists have just made an important contribution to public debate on issues of climate change. In evidence submitted to the government-appointed "Stern Review" on the economics of climate change, they argue for a critical examination of both British and international policies and procedures in this area." (Benny Peiser, CCNet) | The Treatment Of Climate Change Issues: Evidence Submitted To The Stern Review (Ian Byatt, David Henderson, Alan Peacock And Colin Robinson)

The Week That Was Dec. 17, 2005 (SEPP)

"Sharp division over whether Kyoto Protocol is dead: NO" - "The recent U.N. Climate Change Conference in Montreal galvanized international opposition to the Bush administration's inaction regarding the disastrous effects of global warming and ``greenhouse gas'' emissions upon our fragile planet." (Wayne Madsen, The Mercury News)

"Sharp division over whether Kyoto Protocol is dead: YES" - "The Kyoto Protocol has died. None of its members has cut carbon dioxide emissions, and their big Montreal meeting this month has failed again to agree on any future cuts." (Dennis T. Avery, The Mercury News)

"The best solution lies in technology and nuclear energy" - "The 11 Conference of the Parties (COP-11) to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (commonly called the Kyoto Protocol) met from Nov. 28 to Dec. 9 in Montreal.

Months ago, many governmental representatives from around the world were no doubt eagerly awaiting COP-11, with grand plans for how the binding targets for greenhouse gas reductions under Kyoto would be expanded in the post-Kyoto world (after 2012).

Instead, the economic, and thus political, reality has become increasingly apparent in recent months: The world's economies will not accept reduced rates of economic growth in exchange for minuscule reductions in future global temperatures. Since economic growth depends upon access to affordable energy, those who actually understand basic economics have always known that the Kyoto agreement was doomed to failure." (Roy Spencer, The Huntsville Times)

"Puffins being wiped out as shrub chokes nesting sites" - "One of Britain's best-known seabirds, the puffin, is being wiped out by invading fast-growing alien plant species because of global warming." (The Observer)

"Carbon to cost us sooner or later" - "BEFORE he'd even touched back on home soil this week, Ian Campbell had a triumphant message for Australian industry - the Kyoto Protocol is dead. So too was any suggestion that Australia had erred by choosing not to ratify the global greenhouse reduction treaty. The fact that Australia remained outside Kyoto was "just such a non-issue", the federal Environment Minister said, fresh from the latest international climate conference in Montreal. But if not Kyoto, then what?" (Amanda Hodge, The Australian)

Actually Amanda, it's more a case of "definitely not Kyoto or anything thing else." Unfortunately, most of us know that another few years will see the dreaded cooling begin again (that's also one of the reason they're called climate cycles, by the way, it has nothing to do with climate depending on two-wheeled conveyances).

No? Duh! "INDIA: Changing Mind On Climate Change" - "NEW DELHI , Dec 16 - After welcoming the Montreal Action Plan on climate control, adopted last weekend at a landmark meeting, India is now dithering over commitments to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It is the world's fifth biggest producer of GHGs." (IPS)

"Emission control" - "Once skeptical, environmentalists now love the idea of 'emissions trading' as a strategy to curb greenhouse gases. These days it's economists who have reservations about a purely market-based approach. Does Mitt Romney have a point?" (Boston Globe)

"Business puts own twist on Kyoto" - "The Kyoto Protocol to cut greenhouse gases that cause global warming may well be moribund, a victim of its own contradictions. Proof of that are the lukewarm resolutions coming out of the climate change summit that wrapped up recently in Montreal. But those who are rightly concerned about the lack of progress on reducing gas emissions, or justifiably infuriated by the Bush administration's smug refusal to participate in global efforts to resolve the problem, shouldn't despair.

There are strong signs that business, once categorically opposed to cutting carbon dioxide emissions, is now seeing the light. And it's buying into market-based solutions based on voluntary emission targets and the trading of emission credits, a stratagem that bypasses political and ideological snags altogether but may later suck in governments, too, almost despite themselves." (Newsday)

"NZ: Review of firms shows carbon-tax threat" - "When exporters are struggling with a very high dollar a new carbon tax on their energy inputs is the last thing they need, says Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O'Reilly. He was commenting on the results of a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers of the impact of a carbon tax on the costs and profits of seven firms of small or medium size." (New Zealand Herald)

"Wind farm crowd no fans of RFK" - "Robert F. Kennedy Jr. stirred up a storm of controversy yesterday by escalating his attacks on a proposed wind farm off of Cape Cod - without mentioning how his family’s famous vacation compound might be impacted by the facility." (Boston Herald)

"Foes of nuclear power may soon run out of steam" - "It may be dawning on national environmental groups that nuclear power will be essential in the battle against global warming. Three leading environmentalists - Fred Krupp, director of Environmental Defense; Jonathan Lash, president of the World Resources Institute; and Gus Speth, cofounder of the Natural Resources Defense Council and now Dean of Yale's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies - said recently the global warming problem is so serious that nuclear power deserves another look." (G. Ivan Maldanado, The Cincinnati Enquirer)

"Energy in the UK" - "With prices for oil and natural gas reaching record highs, the British government and Prime Minister Tony Blair have suddenly woken up to the fact that, for all its day-dreaming about climate change, it has no real energy policy. Now with Britain in imminent danger of shutting down for lack of natural gas, common sense on nuclear power is in short supply. Decades of vilification by environmentalists has left nuclear power with a severe image problem." (Peter Nolan, TCS)

"India needs to split more atoms for electricity" - "The facts set out in the draft energy policy, compiled by a panel of experts headed by Kirit Parikh and sent up to the PM, are unimpeachable. If India wishes to grow at 8 to 10 per cent annually up to 2031, it will need to produce five to seven times more electricity than today's supply." (Times of India)

"ANWR drilling overdue" - "The budget reconciliation bill recently passed by the Senate would finally open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to drilling. Environmentalists are "outraged." Many Democrats plan to go against their constituents' interests by voting against drilling. Sad to say, that's to be expected. But it's amazing that a number of Republicans are likewise saying they intend to vote to lock up ANWR'S vast energy resources. They're supposed to understand market forces and energy economics -- at least better than their Democratic colleagues. And yet they plan to vote "nay" precisely when global petroleum demand is soaring, energy prices reaching all-time highs, and winter heating bills will make it increasingly difficult for the poor to heat and eat." (Paul Driessen, The Washington Times)

"Oil shale may be fool's gold - Extraction hurdles are high" - "Buried underground in western Colorado are a trillion tons of oil shale. For a century, men have tried and tried again to unlock this energy source. But the rocks have proved stubborn, promising much, delivering little. Recently, the U.S. Department of Energy published a new report on oil shale. It claimed that the nation could wring "200,000 barrels a day from oil shale by 2011, 2 million barrels a day by 2020, and ultimately 10 million barrels a day" from fields in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. These predictions - both the production targets and their timing - are preposterous, as some industry experts admit. But hyping oil shale is nothing new. As geologist Walter Youngquist once wrote, "Bankers won't invest a dime in 'organic marlstone,' the shale's proper name, but 'oil shale' is another matter." (Denver Post)

"Study says pivotal hormone therapy trial was flawed" - "LOS ANGELES - A 2002 study showing that hormone replacement therapy raises the risk of heart disease and breast cancer -- scaring many women away from the drugs -- was fundamentally flawed, according to new research. "Women are now being told not to take hormones for heart disease prevention, and that may be totally wrong," said Dr. Edward Klaiber, a Worcester, Massachusetts endocrinologist and lead author of the study to be published on Friday in the journal Fertility and Sterility." (Reuters)

"Sweden: Meat processor acceptance of GM marks slow shift in policy" - "The food industry will be watching the public's reaction to a decision by Sweden's leading meat processor, which has said it will end its decade long ban on the use of genetically modified (GM) feed by its member farmers.

The move by Swedish Meats could be one of the first signs that a major shift in industry strategy towards GM foods. Europe's governments and food companies have been reluctant to accept GM foods and animals raised on GM feeds due to entrenched consumer fears on the continent about the safety of the biotechnology." (Food Production Daily)

December 16, 2005

Top 10 Worst Moments for Free Enterprise in 2005 - We often think of large corporations as the embodiment of our system of free enterprise -- often they are, but increasingly they fall way short of the mark.

This annual list spotlights companies who have most egregiously abandoned their fiduciary and moral responsibilities to their shareholders and our free enterprise system, respectively, in favor of embracing the false and harmful social activist-promoted notion of “corporate social responsibility.”

Here are the Top 10 “low-lights” for 2005. (Steven Milloy, Human Events)

"Lead Did in Beethoven?" - "This weekend marks the 235th anniversary of the birth of composer Ludwig van Beethoven. But it’s his death over 178 years ago that made headlines last week when researchers supposedly “confirmed” that Beethoven died from lead poisoning.

As you may imagine, such sensational way-after-the-fact “news” begs further inquiry." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"ASTMH Presentations on DDT" - "Download the presentations made by Richard Tren & Katy French at the recent ASTMH session on DDT and IRS" (AFM)

"AFM Media Release on USAID policy changes" - "USAID has announced significant changes to its malaria control program. See AFM's media release and commentary here." (AFM)

"The REACH Trap" - "The EU’s Council of Ministers has just rubber-stamped a landmark piece of legislation affecting chemical products. REACH, approved last month in the European Parliament, will have a considerable impact. Around 30,000 substances present in things we use every day, such as cosmetics, television sets or cleaning products, will have to be registered and tested since they are manufactured in quantities exceeding one ton per year. This has all been done in the name of public health and the environment.

Thanks to the precautionary principle, which inspired this legislation, the burden of proof on a chemical’s safety will be reversed. It will up to industry, who are presumed guilty, to prove that their products are harmless. This means governmental authorities will be able to forbid the production and marketing of certain substances, without proof of their harmfulness. This is more than just an attack on the foundations of a free society, according to which any individual is presumed innocent until proved guilty. This legislation seriously threatens our prosperity without offering any improvement in the field of risk management." (Xavier Mera, TCS)

"Cancer Clusters Look Less Manmade" - "Efforts to link environmental factors to cancer have foundered recently, as highlighted in an article by New York Times science reporter, Gina Kolata. But those who subscribe to the cancer cluster theory still aren't satisfied. So how do you explain an alleged increased rate of cancer in a small area? Our Cancer Clusters: Findings vs. Feelings addressed some of the key weaknesses in the theory that they can be chalked up to manmade causes such as industrial chemicals. But now there is a new chink in the activist armor. Infections could be a cause of some childhood cancers, according to a study published this week. This study, which is consistent with earlier research, challenges the notion that environmental toxins are to blame for alleged clusters of childhood cancers." (Jeff Stier, ACSH)

"Dementia cases 'are set to soar'" - "The number of cases of dementia world-wide is likely to double every 20 years, say researchers. A report for Alzheimer's Disease International, published in The Lancet, found a new case of dementia arising every seven seconds." (BBC)

"Chemistry’s sustainability conundrum" - "A National Research Council report outlines challenges and research objectives for making the chemical industry more sustainable." (ES&T)

"The apocalyptic poison gas cloud that failed to wipe out Hertfordshire" - "AS I WRITE, the people of London still appear to be living and breathing. Somehow we have survived another Attack of the Killer News Headlines.

The “Poison Gas Cloud” or “Cloud of Doom” that we were told would hit the city has disappeared into thin air. The “Apocalyptic Inferno” did not last until the end of the week, never mind the end of the world. And the explosion that was “Just Like an N-bomb Blast” inexplicably failed to reduce Hemel Hempstead to another Hiroshima. A headline to sum up much coverage of the Buncefield oil depot fire might be: “Apocalypse Now: nobody dead”.

Of course the biggest fire in peacetime was a big story. But what is it about the atmosphere today that means a one-off accident must spark an explosion of alarmist speculation about the environment, public health, polluted water and milk, looting and terrorism?" (Mick Hume, London Times)

"Expert: Warming climate is great incubator for hurricanes" - "NARRAGANSETT -- As global temperatures rise, so too will the frequency and intensity of hurricanes brewing in the Atlantic Ocean. And the climate has steadily warmed over the past two decades, in correlation with increasing greenhouse-gas emissions. These factors place New England at risk for Category 3 or Category 4 hurricanes, among the most destructive and costly of tropical cyclones. This grim forecast was presented yesterday by Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Kerry Emanuel, author of Divine Wind: The History and Science of Hurricanes." (The Providence Journal)

"Swiss Re says 'significant lessons' for insurers after US hurricanes" - "Swiss Re, the world's biggest reinsurer, said here Wednesday the world's insurance industry had "significant lessons" to learn following recent US hurricanes. Presenting its annual review to reporters in London, Swiss Re noted that the average number of hurricanes striking the US mainland annually had nearly doubled during the past decade compared with between 1970 and 1994, but did not directly link the increase to man-made global warming." (AFP)

New campaign name!

Following complaints about the unpronounceable acronym for our new scare and associated campaign (JSFTPWTG - see Dec. 12 & 13) we have accepted the proposed change to Junkscience United Nations Kitty for Enabling Total Immobility of Natural Geomagnetism, effective immediately.

JUNKETING, formerly known as JSFTPWTG, will continue to accept donations via the previously established means:
Any donations actually made will form part of JunkScience.com's general revenues, which we could sorely use so please give generously.

More chants: “Save the Earth’s magnetic soul!/Stop the shifting of the Pole!”; “Bush aggression!/Pole recession!/When will humans learn their lesson?”; “Al Gore! Al Gore!/Magnetic north he will restore!”; “Bush lied!” (All purpose chant!) Variant as suggested to make applicable to the current campaign "bush lied, and earth's flux died!" We're still looking for more entries for both slogan and chant so send your suggestions to Editor.

Meanwhile, back on planet Thermostasis:

Gasp! Egad! "2005 warmest ever year in north" - "This year has been the warmest on record in the northern hemisphere, say scientists in Britain. It is the second warmest globally since the 1860s, when reliable records began, they say. Ocean temperatures recorded in the northern hemisphere Atlantic Ocean have also been the hottest on record." (BBC)

So, we're like, still recovering from the LIA? Excellent!

"Polar bears living on thin ice after record temperatures" - "This could be the hottest year ever recorded, posing a threat to Arctic wildlife including polar bears, ice-dwelling seals and several forms of vegetation, according to UN scientists collating data from across the world." (John Vidal, The Guardian)

So John, it's your contention that polar bears have only evolved in the last ~700 years? In fact, Arctic temperatures don't appear that unusual, so the bears should manage now as they have in the past. Alaska has certainly warmed dramatically, leaping 6 °F - almost exclusively in 1976 with virtually nothing since. There is no apparent correlation between reconstructed or measured Arctic region temperatures and anthropogenic greenhouse emission, making all the angst and hand wringing bizarre, to say the least.

Dopey dorks... "Groups Sue to Protect Polar Bears" - "ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Three environmental groups sued the federal government Thursday, seeking to protect polar bears from extinction because of disappearing Arctic sea ice." (Associated Press)

"Global warming will force Santa into waterwings: WWF" - "LONDON - Santa Claus may have to swap his sleigh for waterwings sooner than expected as global warming melts his Arctic home, environmental group WWF said on Friday." (Reuters)

And we hear the reindeer really hate his waterskiing plans, too!

"Unsustainable Climate Research" - "The environmental debate in recent years has centered on the concept of ‘sustainability’. The basic idea is that our use of natural resources (or the production of greenhouse gases that are infamously blamed for global warming) should be at a slower rate, one that is sustainable.

There are two main shortcomings I see with ‘sustainability’ arguments. First, for a truly irreplaceable resource (lets say petroleum) for which there is only a finite supply, any rate of use will be unsustainable. Eventually, we will run out. Similarly, if indeed global warming turns out to be a real problem, no rate of increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases is sustainable. Second, the sustainability argument neglects the proven role of technological advances that, historically, make sustainability a moot point." (Dr. Roy Spencer, TCS)

"Newspeak in Montreal" - "Actually, Stavros Dimas’ perception of what had happened in Montreal is diametrically opposed to what people could read in the newspapers, even in ones biased in favor of Kyoto. It is sort of like claiming victory after having lost the war. True, Montreal was a watershed, but not so much of the kind which has been suggested by the EU’s environment commissioner. Rather, Montreal was a disaster for the pro-Kyotists as well Europe’s “leading role” in climate policies." (Hans H.J. Labohm, TCS)

"Enviros Exaggerated Montreal Summit" - "A world historical event occurred in Montreal in the hours before dawn on December 10. What? You didn’t notice? I’m not surprised. The American media gave it little coverage and missed its significance entirely. Luckily, London’s quality newspapers hardly ever miss world historical events." (Myron Ebell, Human Events Online)

"Climate change: Pricking the global conscience" - "A UN conference on global warming makes progress, sort of" (The Economist)

"Canada's 'Chicken Little'" - "Climatologist David Phillips' provocative views on global warming have touched off some storms of their own." (Maclean's)

Missed by that much... "Greenhouse gas emissions up 24% in Canada: study" - "Air quality deteriorated in Canada during the past 10 years, while greenhouse gas emissions rose 24 per cent, a new report said Wednesday. The study, prepared by Environment Canada, Statistics Canada and Health Canada, revealed that by 2003, emissions of greenhouse gases were 32 per cent above the targets set out by the Kyoto Protocol for 2008 to 2012." (CTV.ca News)

"Study: Finland poorly prepared for climate change" - "A new study suggests that Finland needs to rapidly start thinking about the implications of climate change in matters such as zoning and construction. Otherwise, experts say that a possible increase of floods, storms, as well as drought, could prove very expensive for the national economy." (Helsingin Sanomat)

"Finnish forest industry lobby says Montreal agenda poses threat" - "The Finnish Forest Industries Federation (FFIF) said in a statement Thursday that plans to revise the emission cut targets of the Kyoto protocol on climate change presented a threat to Finnish and EU competitiveness." (STT)

"Greenhouse Gas Pact Is in Disarray" - "Officials in New York, New Jersey and several other Northeastern states scrambled yesterday to hold together what was left of a landmark regional pact to control power plant emissions after the governors of Massachusetts and Rhode Island abruptly refused to sign on.

The officials said they hoped to go ahead with the agreement without losing any of the seven remaining states in the regional agreement, which would limit carbon dioxide emissions linked to global climate change. The first agreement of its kind in the nation, the market-driven system of emissions limits and tradable pollution allowances was widely considered a symbolic rebuff to the Bush administration's hands-off position on global climate change.

But the abrupt departure of two of the states that have been linked in the agreement since it was announced by Gov. George E. Pataki more than two and a half years ago set off a round of political speculation." (New York Times)

"Sweden to kick fossil-fuel habit by 2020 - The plan uses tax incentives to encourage new renewable fuel sources" - "The worldwide disruption of fuel supplies and accompanying price spikes caused by Hurricane Katrina convinced the Swedish government that it is high time to give fossil fuels the heave-ho, according to Mona Sahlin, minister for sustainable development. She announced on October 1 that the government has set a new policy target to eliminate Sweden’s dependence on fossil fuels by 2020." (ES&T)

Can't quite imagine the Swedes freezing to death in the dark so this would appear an unlikely ambition.

"100 Years of Fill ‘Er Up" - "This Holiday season most of you who will be traveling will go by car, and all who do so will inevitably visit that most ubiquitous fixture of the American commercial landscape, the gas station." (Ralph Kinney Bennett, TCS)

"Our Fake Drilling Debate: Collectively Hiding Behind ANWR" - "In 1986 Gale Norton was 32 and working for the secretary of the interior on matters pertaining to the proposal to open a small portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge -- area 1002 -- to drilling for oil and natural gas, a proposal that then had already been a bone of contention for several years. Today Norton is the secretary of the interior and is working on opening ANWR. But this interminable argument actually could end soon with Congress authorizing drilling. That would be good for energy policy and excellent for the nation's governance." (George F. Will, The Washington Post)

"G.O.P. May Harness Arctic Drilling to Pentagon Budget" - "WASHINGTON, Dec. 14 - With a budget-cutting measure stymied by stiff resistance to opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, Congressional Republicans began exploring Wednesday a new tactic to win approval of both $45 billion in cuts and the drilling plan." (New York Times)

"The nuclear option isn't political expediency but scientific necessity" - "To save ourselves from the worst effects of climate change, we are going to need a full range of sources of power." (David King, The Guardian)

"Ireland: Coughlan invites GM report feedback" - "OBSERVATIONS have been invited from interested parties on the report on the coexistence of GM and non-GM crops in Ireland." (Irish Examiner)

December 15, 2005

New campaign name!

Following complaints about the unpronounceable acronym for our new scare and associated campaign (JSFTPWTG - see Dec. 12 & 13) we have accepted the proposed change to Junkscience United Nations Kitty for Enabling Total Immobility of Natural Geomagnetism, effective immediately.

JUNKETING, formerly known as JSFTPWTG, will continue to accept donations via the previously established means:
Any donations actually made will form part of JunkScience.com's general revenues, which we could sorely use so please give generously.

Meanwhile, readers suggest soliciting donations for fridge magnets to be placed at a suitable location to attract the pole and; that alternating current is weakening the pole, with the offered chant: "AC power has to go/It's killing the earth's mag field you know!" and we have a limerick: "Up top was magnetic north pole/that on its axis did roll/'Global warming' has meant/out of shape it's been bent/and the answer is - burn less coal." We're still looking for more entries for both slogan and chant so send your suggestions to Editor.

Global Warmer Goof of the Day - A new study in Nature (see news item below) reports that humans arrived in Northern Europe 200,000 years earlier than previously thought. The authors of the Nature study estimated that the mean temperatures in Britain 700,000 years ago were 18 to 23 degrees Centigrade in the warmest month (July) and minus-6 to 4 degrees Centigrade in the coldest months (January and February). In comparison, today's average temps in the UK are much cooler -- 16.9 degrees Centigrade in July and 4.3 to 6 degrees Centigrade in January and February.

That set of facts might make one ask the politically incorrect question, "How could it have been warmer 700,000 years ago if there were no electric power plants or SUVs back then?"

Given that Nature has been 100 percent-in-the-tank for global warming since the mid-1990s, it's curious that the editors would permit the publication of such counter-agenda thinking. The possibility exists, of course, that Nature's editors aren't too bright to start with -- hence their long-standing, unwavering infatuation with climate hysteria. The Washington Post also slipped up today, quoting one of the researchers as saying "It was warmer [700,000 years ago] than it is today..." I'm still looking for any report of the Nature study in the New York Times. Andy Revkin... are you out there? Come in Andy Revkin... Hello... Anyone there?.. Hello...

"Humans in England May Go Back 700,000 Years" - "LONDON - Ancient tools found in Britain show that humans lived in northern Europe 200,000 years earlier than previously thought, at a time when the climate was warm enough for lions, elephants and saber tooth tigers to also roam what is now England." (Associated Press) Tools unlock secrets of early man (BBC)

So! We have suffered from climate change and we do need to restore the planet's climate - it's obviously way colder than its natural state (when man found it) so we need to do everything possible to warm it back up again, no? All this unnatural cold is obviously the fault of humans (it was warm before they started mucking with things) and we must put right all that chilly damage done. Stop global chilling now!

Warning! Looming shrubbery! "Climate change 'could disturb African savannahs'" - "Trees and shrubs could take over some of Africa's savannahs if, as many predict, rainfall in the Sahel increases in the next 50 years, say researchers in Nature this week (8 December)." (SciDev.Net)

"Seeing the future for the trees" - "It’s not every day you get to look back over 4,000 years of local history, so when that opportunity arose for climatologist Richard Hebda, he jumped at the chance. With the assistance of former University of Victoria graduate student Qi-Bin Zhang, the researcher from UVic’s school of earth and ocean sciences has now painstakingly assembled a unique historical record of climate change and drought patterns in the Greater Victoria region. The findings were published in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters in August and were based primarily on data extracted from fossilized logs uncovered during an expansion of Saanich’s Hartland Landfill. The research is significant because the preserved trees grew and died over a period of four millennia and therefore provide one of the longest continuous records of climate change in the world – never mind the Capital Region." (Saanich News)

"Polar Year program worries First Nations" - "Delegates to an aboriginal conference in the N.W.T. say they're concerned about the upcoming International Polar Year, and the invasion of thousands of scientists that will come with it. The IPY, scheduled for March 2007 to March 2009, is expected to be the largest scientific polar research program ever. Dozens of nations around the world will spend billions sending 50,000 people to studying the land, water, atmosphere and life of the planet's poles." (CBC News)

Odd, you'd think they'd be clamouring for empirical evidence to support their anecdotal evidence of the climate change harm we're told they are suffering.

"Manic-depression and 'global warming' hype" - "I have already commented on the manic-depressive tendencies presented by participants and camp followers at major 'global-warming' meetings, such as those held in The Hague (2000), in Marrakesh, Morocco (2001), in Edinburgh around the G8 Summit (2005), and in Montreal (this month).

The 'meeting' is first reported to be 'failing drastically', with participants walking out or raising 'impossible' issues. The 'meeting' then extends into the early hours of the morning after the day on which it is meant to have closed, the host nation using every trick in the moral-blackmail book to achieve 'something' for home consumption. A bland agreement is cobbled together at the very last minute. Thousands of participants and journalists emerge from their fierce-small-world 'euphoric', tears are shed, and the 'success' of the meeting is overhyped and over-spun - "the world can breathe again". Then, inevitably, in the cold light of day, the euphoria turns quickly to angst and to bitterness as it becomes increasingly obvious that little-to-nothing has been achieved. The high is followed by a long depression." (EnviroSpin Watch)

Letter of the moment: "Climate models have no credibility" - "City declares cold weather alert - The cold weather alert is the first of presumably many cold weather alerts we may see this winter season, once again defying the prediction of milder winters in southern Ontario as a result of global warming.

It was only four months ago when the city was sweltering in a long hot summer that everyone — including Environment Canada pundits — was talking about global warming and milder winters. The last five winters have been colder than normal in southern Ontario. In eastern Canada, winters have become longer, colder and snowier. On the Prairies, winters have become more variable, warmer in some years, while colder in other years.

It is time to abandon the global warming projections of climate models. These models have no credibility." (Dr. Madhav L. Khandekar, Unionville, retired scientist, Environment Canada in Toronto Star)

"The need for new strategy on climate policy" - "Despite the apparent success of the latest international negotiations on climate change, new approaches to reaching agreement on reducing carbon emissions in an equitable way are needed more than ever." (SciDev.Net)

New Paper On the Importance of Diagnosing Moist Enthalpy In Addition to Temperature Trends As a Metric of Surface Atmospheric Global Warming (Climate Science)

Whoops! "Editorial: Raining on consensus - U.S. remains stubborn on climate change" - "The United States' position on climate change from human activity, as represented at the two-week worldwide conference in Canada that ended Saturday, is either entirely irresponsible or constitutes a potentially deadly long-term gamble.

In spite of a stack of events, which include Arctic melting, world temperature rise, an increase in the number and severity of hurricanes and more, that could be at least in part evidence of global warming, the position of the Bush administration -- the position of the United States -- remains firm opposition to the setting of a specific timetable for steps to reduce it." (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Therein lies the problem guys! You could ground every aircraft and stop every machine today but there's no means of telling whether you would ever be able to measure any difference in planetary temperature as a result. You would, of course, destroy civilisation and thus keep some happy, I suppose, but you can't now adjust the world's thermostat (and we may never be able to in the future, either).

"No agreement reached on regional carbon dioxide emissions pact" - "BOSTON -- Talks broke down Wednesday among state officials trying to reach an agreement to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the Northeast, leaving southern New England's participation in the multistate compact uncertain. A spokesman for Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri said Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut had misgivings over the proposal that would have put a regional plan in place to cut so-called greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. "There was a conference call late this afternoon with the chiefs of staffs in the states and Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island signaled that they were not prepared at this time" to sign on to the proposal, said Carcieri spokesman Jeff Neal." (Associated Press)

Another tax: "Scotland: Energy efficiency scheme aims to tackle global warming" - "HOMEOWNERS will have to pay for audits on their properties to demonstrate how energy efficient they are under plans revealed yesterday. The system will be put out to consultation in the New Year and come into force over the next three years, starting with new buildings. The scheme will gradually extend through the housing market as properties change hands and the energy performance certificates are expected to become part of the new single survey which sellers will have to commission. Energy audits were included during a recent pilot study of the surveys, which cost sellers upwards of £350. There was low take-up during the trial run but ministers are expected to make the scheme compulsory." (The Herald)

"Carbon Market Still Green" [and seriously in the red...] - "TORONTO, Dec 13 - The members of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change resolved at their week-long meeting in Montreal to support the treaty's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which allows industrialised countries to obtain credits by investing in clean energy projects in the developing South. But the success of the scheme is still in question, and only 41 such projects have been approved worldwide. Western Europe, Japan and Canada together may need as many as 3.5 billion metric tonnes of carbon credits in the five years through 2012 -- when the Kyoto Protocol expires -- to meet their commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions, according to the World Bank." (Tierramérica)

"Solar Power Plan to Cost Billions" - "SAN FRANCISCO—State energy regulators unveiled one of the nation’s most ambitious programs to expand the market for solar power, proposing to offer more than $3 billion in consumer rebates over the next decade." (Associated Press)

"Congress May Block Plan for a Wind Farm in Nantucket Sound" - "A plan to build what could become the first large offshore wind farm in the United States would be effectively killed by a proposed amendment to a Coast Guard budget bill now making its way through Congress, people on both sides of the issue say.

The amendment, offered by Representative Don Young, Republican of Alaska, would prohibit new offshore wind facilities within 1.5 nautical miles of a shipping lane or a ferry route. That would rule out construction of the installation, proposed for Nantucket Sound. The budget bill awaits action in a House-Senate conference committee." (New York Times)

"People Back Atomic Power but not New Plants - Survey" - "VIENNA - Most people back the use of existing nuclear power plants but are against building new reactors as some states are considering, a survey conducted in 18 countries for the UN nuclear watchdog showed on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"Reactors needed for Kyoto goals, expert says" - "Japan should promote nuclear power and renewable energy sources to replace fossil fuels to fight global warming, a Canadian scientist said Wednesday. Although Japan has tried more sincerely than other developed countries to achieve its greenhouse gas emission cuts under the Kyoto Protocol, its efforts won't be effective enough to reach the goal, according to Patrick Moore, chairman and chief scientist of Greenspirit Strategies, a Canadian environment consultancy." (Japan Times)

"Norwegians, Dutch Mix Sea and River to Make Power" - "LEEUWARDEN - "Water will be the coal of the future," French science-fiction writer Jules Verne predicted in 1874. More than a century later in a world seeking clean alternatives to fossil fuels, Dutch and Norwegian scientists believe they can help turn Verne's dream into reality. The Dutch Centre for Sustainable Water Technology or Wetsus, and Norway's independent research organisation SINTEF, working with power company Statkraft, have invented devices that generate electricity by mixing sea and river water." (Reuters)

"Canada Statistics Agency Changes First Environmental Report" - "Canada's federal statistics agency revised an environmental report less than an hour before it was released, deleting a phrase saying rising pollution levels pose greater health risks to Canadians. The revised summary now says the nation's air ``deteriorated'' from 1990 to 2003. Statistics Canada published a summary of the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators in its flagship `Daily' report today, copies of which officials gave to reporters and then took back to make revisions." (Bloomberg)

"Catalytic Converters Disperse Their Metals" - "Extensive air sampling of potentially toxic metals conducted in U.S. for first time." (Chemical & Engineering News)

"This Land Is Not Your Land" - "PORTLAND, Ore.--Reformers, take note. There's a big lesson to be learned from this state's ongoing, bare-knuckle fight over property rights. Ballot initiatives are all well and good, but they are only half the equation. First, voters must boot judges who legislate from the bench.

Oregonians, like many others, have been fighting to force their state government to honor property rights. Like reformers in other states, residents here had seized upon the one tool more powerful than entrenched state politicians: the ballot initiative. In 2000 and again in 2004, voters passed measures to protect landowners from state regulations that reduced their property value.

Yet nothing has changed. This is because initiatives are only as powerful as the court system lets them be. Two separate judges struck down the property measures on embarrassing legal grounds. And voters can't count on a state Supreme Court that revels in meritless decisions to right things on appeal." (Kimberley A Strassel, Opinion Journal)

"The Rock Star's Burden" - "THERE are probably more annoying things than being hectored about African development by a wealthy Irish rock star in a cowboy hat, but I can't think of one at the moment. If Christmas, season of sob stories, has turned me into Scrooge, I recognize the Dickensian counterpart of Paul Hewson - who calls himself "Bono" - as Mrs. Jellyby in "Bleak House." Harping incessantly on her adopted village of Borrioboola-Gha "on the left bank of the River Niger," Mrs. Jellyby tries to save the Africans by financing them in coffee growing and encouraging schemes "to turn pianoforte legs and establish an export trade," all the while badgering people for money.

It seems to have been Africa's fate to become a theater of empty talk and public gestures. But the impression that Africa is fatally troubled and can be saved only by outside help - not to mention celebrities and charity concerts - is a destructive and misleading conceit. Those of us who committed ourselves to being Peace Corps teachers in rural Malawi more than 40 years ago are dismayed by what we see on our return visits and by all the news that has been reported recently from that unlucky, drought-stricken country. But we are more appalled by most of the proposed solutions." (Paul Theroux, New York Times)

"Degrading Environment Will Threaten Health, United Nations Finds" - "Global ecosystems provide resources to sustain life on Earth, but an estimated 60 percent of those resources are being degraded or used unsustainably, according to a new report from the World Health Organization." (WashFile)

Here we go again: "MP calls for ban on 'unsafe' sweetener" - "A member of the parliamentary select committee on food and the environment yesterday called for emergency action to ban the artificial sweetener aspartame, used in 6,000 food, drink and medicinal products. The Liberal Democrat MP Roger Williams said in an adjournment debate in the Commons that there was "compelling and reliable evidence for this carcinogenic substance to be banned from the UK food and drinks market altogether". In licensing aspartame for use, regulators around the world had failed in their main task of protecting the public, he told MPs." (The Guardian)

Interesting time of year this, when every clown who's found the fruit punch rather more to their liking than usual wants to ban something. Wonder how long before they go after hydrogen alcohol* in a knee jerk reaction to the UK's liberal licensing laws?

* As every grade school chemist is aware, any compound bearing an oxygen-hydrogen chain (OH) is an alcohol and hydrogen alcohol, variously known on the street as 'hydro', dHO (pronounced 'dough', being the acronym for dihydrogen monoxide - and everyone knows how dangerous monoxide is), 'mono', 'hoh', 'ice' and a bewildering range of imaginative monikers according to its various pushers and distributors, is widely available in our cities, towns and yes, even our homes. We are aware that coke distributors pedal the stuff alongside their other wares but you can't blame them for catering to willing buyers really. It is also true that there are many recorded fatalities and illnesses associated with dHO and yes, it is universally present in tumours, both benign and malignant but, there is no compelling reason to ban it despite it being significantly more dangerous than aspartame.

"Mindanao forum: Phase out synthetic agri inputs in RP by 2015" - "DAVAO CITY -- Around 200 Mindanawons from different sectors sought a total phaseout of synthetic commercial inputs in any farming systems in the country by 2015 and also a ban on field releases of all genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food and agriculture. They signed this on a covenant Tuesday at the end of the "Go Organic Mindanao" forum on safe food and food security." (MindaNews)

December 14, 2005

Microsoft Called on to Reverse Phase-Out of PVC Plastic - “Microsoft has allowed itself to be used by environmental activist groups which have failed to convince regulatory authorities that PVC plastics pose any danger to human health,” said Steve Milloy.

Help us prevent CEOs from caving in to junk science-fueled Green activists!

Half-right Quote of the Day: - "The battle against global warming will never be won unless America joins it, urgently and enthusiastically," whined the New York Times in today's lead print editorial. The Times got it half-right -- "The battle against global warming will never be won..." Even global warming enthusiasts -- at least the honest ones -- acknowledge that reductions in manmade greenhouse gas emissions will accomplish nothing. Three years ago global warmer Tom Wigley (National Center for Atmospheric Research) reported in Science (Nov. 1, 2002) that greenhouse gas reductions will have no significant impact on global climate and will only cause economic harm.

New campaign name!

Following complaints about the unpronounceable acronym for our new scare and associated campaign (JSFTPWTG - see Dec. 12 & 13) we have accepted the proposed change to Junkscience United Nations Kitty for Enabling Total Immobility of Natural Geomagnetism, effective immediately.

JUNKETING, formerly known as JSFTPWTG, will continue to accept donations via the previously established means:
Any donations actually made will form part of JunkScience.com's general revenues, which we could sorely use so please give generously.

Meanwhile, Janice has been busy (or not), submitting the only protest chants offered to date: "Bird in a tree/Rabbit in a hole/Let's work together/To save the Pole", "Don't be shy/Don't be pathetic/Help us save/The North magnetic" and, "Stop the movement/Stop the shift/Stop the damned/Magnetic drift" - got to admit, these offerings are far in front of "Hey, hey, ho, ho...". We're still looking for more entries for both slogan and chant so send your suggestions to Editor.

Eek! Ice age! "Coldest December since late 1800s?" - "Meteorologist's claim comes on heels of climate-warming summit in Canada" (WorldNetDaily.com)

See! The scientists were right! This was predicted in the '70s!

Um, no: "Editorial: Stalling on greenhouse gases" - "Playing the heavy again on matters of global warming at the recent U.N. conference in Montreal, the United States bungled a chance to get developing nations to curb their greenhouse gas emissions and address a flaw in the Kyoto treaty." (Denver Post)

There is no way to have developing nations 'curb their greenhouse emissions' and that is a very good thing since you're basically talking about carbon dioxide from fuel use. Kyoto is not flawed, it is the flaw. We can not knowingly adjust the climate by tweaking a few minor parameters in a complex and poorly understood system but artificially creating energy shortages will wreak havoc upon development. Sadly, a lot of people allow themselves to be deceived by Euro-posturing into thinking we must discriminate heavily against developing nations in order to 'help' them.

Surely it's time even those who actually believe the stuff of life to be dangerous - the carbon dioxide originally sourced from the atmosphere and sequestered by biological activity over time that human fossil fuel use is gradually returning to the biosphere - must realise that energy rationing schemes such as Kyoto offer the same standard of 'treatment' for developing countries as would tying a tourniquet around their necks to address a nose bleed (the treatment actually being a great success despite the patient dying).

Stop and think for a moment. Suppose we could do the impossible and actually adjust the global thermostat... do you really think a bunch of European politicians with their hands on the levers of global climate control would be any better than having Homer Simpson at the controls of an atomic power plant?

"Rural bodies should help ward off scaremongering" - "A RECENT study concluded that for 30 years the method of teaching children to read had been wrong. Teachers and policy-makers had been in thrall to a fashionable, allegedly scientific, theory now considered to be nonsense.

As science (or pseudo-science) becomes increasingly politicised, such situations occur more frequently. Some theory attracts publicity, axe-grinding pressure groups start a bandwagon, policymakers feel compelled to climb aboard, public funds are committed so that it becomes embarrassing to admit mistakes.

Then, perhaps years later, it is all shown to be rubbish - but the damage has been done." (Paddy Rooney, Western Mail)

"Ruse of gigantic proportions" - "Climatologists' protests drowned in a sea of environmentalist bafflegab." (Calgary Sun)

"Kyoto Protocol does little for the environment" - "The definition of insanity, it has frequently been said, is to keep trying something that clearly doesn't work - like the Kyoto Protocol, for instance." (Jay Ambrose, Washington Examiner)

"Punxsutawney Protocol: “World Reaches Warming Pact” again, only not really." - "Establishment-press reporting of Kyoto "global warming" treaty negotiations would embarrass even Bill Murray's character in the movie Groundhog Day. They laughably trumpet the same nonachievement, conference after conference. Consider last week's front-page, above-the-fold Washington Post story, the introductory paragraph to which read, "[M]ore than 160 countries, including Great Britain, Japan and Russia, reached agreement late last night on a groundbreaking climate control treaty setting mandatory targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions" ("160 Nations Agree to Warming Pact," November 10, 2001).

Such promotion is absurd given what actually transpired. And of course, it also followed some now also obligatory disparaging of the U.S. stance in the talks at issue, in this case the "Seventh Session of the Conference of the Parties," COP-7, in Marrakesh. Does all of this sound familiar?" (Christopher C. Horner, NRO)

"Editorial: Climate change treaty in a fog" - "United States walks out of the United Nations' two-week talks on global warming, and loses an opportunity to lead the world's emerging economies by example." (Las Vegas Sun)

Actually, the US is leading the world's emerging economies in the only rational direction rather than trying to stampede them because Henny-Penny got beaned in a computer game variously known as climate model, GCM...

"Hot Air" - "Every year, parties to the Kyoto Protocol meet. Every year the future of the protocol is very much in question. And every year the meeting ends with environmental crusaders falsely claiming that the world has finally united behind the goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. This year’s conference in Montreal followed the tired old pattern." (NRO)

"Editorial: US still out in the cold on climate" - "Only a combination of inexperience and overexuberance can explain the proclamation from the Minister for Climate Change that the United States is "effectively back in the tent". David Parker, fresh from the United Nations climate summit in Montreal, was clearly keen to portray the Bush Administration's agreement to join an exploratory global "dialogue" on future steps to combat global warming as a breakthrough. Sober analysis, however, suggest a far different conclusion." (New Zealand Herald)

"Human life vs. the Earth" - "They've been at it again. In Montreal, a bunch of politicians and activists just finished another round of negotiations among themselves about just how much of our freedom to take away in pursuit of a greener planet. That's "green," as in "envious" -- of the people who were able to invent, build industries and develop economies in generations past, before the environmentalists convinced world "leaders" that products that improve human life, and the factories that make those products, must be limited in the name of the Earth." (John Stossel, Town Hall)

Uh-oh... "Amazon trees much older than assumed, raising questions on global climate impact of region. Older trees may have less capacity for taking in carbon dioxide" - "Trees in the Amazon tropical forests are old. Really old, in fact, which comes as a surprise to a team of American and Brazilian researchers studying tree growth in the world's largest tropical region.

Using radiocarbon dating methods, the team, which includes UC Irvine's Susan Trumbore, found that up to half of all trees greater than 10 centimeters in diameter are more than 300 years old. Some of the trees, Trumbore said, are as much as 750 to 1,000 years old. Study results appear in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Little was known about the age of tropical trees, because they do not have easily identified annual growth rings," added Trumbore, a professor of Earth system science. "No one had thought these tropical trees could be so old, or that they grow so slowly." (University of California - Irvine)

Tree-huggers' favs are getting a bit of a drubbing lately. Last week we heard dark forests absorb way too much solar energy in the temperate zone, warming the planet and now we hear the "lungs of the world" aren't doing much of a job sequestering carbon after all - better scrap this gift idea then. (Never mind that other studies have measured massive increases in Amazonian biomass with increasing CO2, this week the trees ain't cuttin' it, OK? And it is nearly a week since we had this release).

Of course, this creates even greater perplexity for modellers because it makes the "missing carbon" side of the equation even larger (only a portion of the amount of carbon estimated as liberated by humans ends up in the atmosphere, with a significant amount "disappearing" into sinks unknown). If atmospheric persistence of carbon dioxide is genuinely so much shorter than that alleged by the steam-broiled Earth fraternity then the half-baked claims of our favourite planet-cookers retain the sparkling appeal of warmed-over oatmeal (if that's too much of a culinary mishmash for your taste then just view it as an unexciting offering).

Trees may be out but they can still hand wring over bears: "Is Global Warming Killing the Polar Bears?" - "It may be the latest evidence of global warming: Polar bears are drowning.

Scientists for the first time have documented multiple deaths of polar bears off Alaska, where they likely drowned after swimming long distances in the ocean amid the melting of the Arctic ice shelf. The bears spend most of their time hunting and raising their young on ice floes.

In a quarter-century of aerial surveys of the Alaskan coastline before 2004, researchers from the U.S. Minerals Management Service said they typically spotted a lone polar bear swimming in the ocean far from ice about once every two years. Polar-bear drownings were so rare that they have never been documented in the surveys." (The Wall Street Journal)

Time to recycle: Polar Bear Scare on Thin Ice

"Aussies take lead in push for clean air" - "KEY international climate research centres have backed Australia's push to develop clean-coal technology and warned that "carbon capture and storage" is the key to achieving deep cuts to greenhouse gas emissions. As support for the fledgling technology gathers pace, it emerged yesterday that clean-coal technology would form one of eight core programs developed within the new Asia Pacific Climate Partnership." (The Australian)

Is Carbon Sequestration More Complicated than Presented in the Kyoto Protocol? (Climate Science)

"Ancient clues to ocean currents" - "The close link between temperatures in the North Atlantic and the strength of ocean circulation is underlined by a new analysis of sea-floor sediments." (BBC)

Gee, Sol appears to affect Earth's climate: "Possible association between Indian monsoon rainfall and solar activity" - "Abstract: Over the 120 y period (1871–1990) for which reliable Indian rainfall statistics are available, solar activity parameters exhibit nonstationarity. Taking this fact into account, we present here the results of an analysis of four solar activity indices and seven major Indian monsoon rainfall time series, over two distinct test periods respectively of low and high solar activity, each comprising three complete solar cycles. It is found that the average rainfall is higher in all seven rainfall indices during periods of greater solar activity, at confidence levels varying from 75% to 99%, being 95% or greater in three of them. Using wavelet techniques it is also found that the power in the 8–16 y band during the period of higher solar activity is higher in 6 of the 7 rainfall time series, at confidence levels exceeding 99.99%. These results support existence of connections between Indian rainfall and solar activity." (American Geophysical Union)

Models represent solar radiation somewhat poorly: "How accurate did GCMs compute the insolation at TOA for AMIP-2?" - "Abstract: Monthly averages of solar radiation reaching the Top of the Atmosphere (TOA) as simulated by 20 General Circulation Models (GCMs) during the period 1985–1988 are compared. They were part of submissions to AMIP-2 (Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project). Monthly averages of ISCCP-FD (International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project – Flux Data) are considered as reference. Considerable discrepancies are found: Most models reproduce the prescribed Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) value within ±0.7 Wm−2. Monthly zonal averages disagree between ±2 to ±7 Wm−2, depending on latitude and season. The largest model diversity occurs near polar regions. Some models display a zonally symmetric insolation, while others and ISCCP show longitudinal deviations of the order of ±1 Wm−2. With such differences in meridional gradients impacts in multi-annual simulations cannot be excluded. Sensitivity studies are recommended." (American Geophysical Union)

Whoa! Grandpa Warming's back on the bandwagon: "It's not too late" - "SAN FRANCISCO The Earth's temperature, with rapid global warming over the past 30 years, is now passing through the peak level of the Holocene, a period of relatively stable climate that has existed for more than 10,000 years. Further warming of more than one degree Celsius will make the Earth warmer than it has been in a million years." (James Hansen, Tribune Media Services International)

Funny, it's not that long since Big Jim said controlling atmospheric carbon dioxide was not a particularly effective strategy. We have to wonder whether he's not paying rather too much attention to the virtual worlds of GCMs because ice core records indicate previous interglacials were a couple or three degrees warmer than today, something we are highly unlikely to see. For those who like to see the data, you can access "Eight glacial cycles from an Antarctic ice core" (Nature v.429, No. 6692, pp. 623-628, 10 June 2004) here.

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

Changes in Global Climate and the Ocean's Thermohaline Circulation: Which Leads Which?: Both what is known and unknown about this question reveals the brashness of the climate-alarmist claim that an ongoing decline in the meridional overturning circulation of the Atlantic Ocean is about to send Europe into a new Little Ice Age.

Subject Index Summaries:
Little Ice Age (Canada): What was the Little Ice Age like in Canada?  What likely caused it?  And what do we learn as a bonus about the warm periods that preceded and followed it?

Insects (Butterflies): Are the planet's butterflies being driven to extinction by increases in the air's CO 2 content and temperature?

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Cotton, Japanese White Birch, Peach, and Wheat.

Journal Reviews:
650 Years of Climate in Lake Erhai, China: The beginning, middle and end of this most interesting record all provide challenges to the climate-alarmist view of earth history.

Late-Holocene Moisture Conditions of the Central Mexican Highlands: How did they change during the transition from the Dark Ages Cold Period to the Medieval Warm Period?

Climate-Mediated Changes in 20th-Century Argentina Agriculture: What happened to agriculture in Argentina as a result of what climate alarmists call the most dramatic warming of the past two millennia?

Tropical Forest Productivity Trends: 1982-1999: How did they fare over the period of time characterized by climate alarmists as having experienced a rate of warming that was unprecedented over the last two millennia and which resulted in temperatures that were likewise unprecedented?

Diamondback Moth Larvae Munching Mouse-Ear Cress: The Impacts of Elevated CO 2 : Are they more helpful to the moth or the cress? (co2science.org)

"Prius Follies, Take Two" - "Since we're still on the subject of fuel mileage -- or at least still responding to email after a column two weeks ago on the Toyota Prius -- let's spill a few more gallons of petroleum-based ink.

The Prius is a nifty gadget and comes with lots of extras. But Toyota markets the vehicle on its fuel efficiency, and fans tout its fuel efficiency. And our point was to debunk the idea that saving gasoline is a virtue independent of economics, such that it makes sense, say, to spend a buck to reduce gas use by 50 cents.

Edmunds.com, the auto shopper site, guided us to Honda's Civic and Toyota's Corolla as conventional alternatives to the hybrid Prius. This was the source of our claim that the Prius retails for $9,500 more than comparable vehicles. In its own research, Edmunds concluded a Prius owner would have to drive 66,500 miles per year or gasoline would have to jump to $10 for the purchase to pay off.

But don't take our word for it. Kazuo Okamoto, Toyota's research chief, recently told the Financial Times that, in terms of fuel efficiency, "the purchase of a hybrid car is not justified." (The Wall Street Journal)

"States Divide Over Greenhouse Gases" - "WASHINGTON -- While the Bush administration resists binding international rules on climate change, about a dozen U.S. states are considering steps to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases. But those states -- clustered around the Northeast and the West Coast -- are running into legal, economic and political hurdles." (The Wall Street Journal)

"UK: Time to ease the green tax burden" - "THE leader of a manufacturing pressure group is calling on the Government to lift a 'green' tax which he claims could destroy thousands of businesses." (Yorkshire Post)

Costly typo: "Governments Plan UN-Managed Ozone-Conservation Regime" - "With the impact of ozone-depleting substances already reduced to 2 per cent of their effect during peak years, representatives of the world’s governments are meeting in Dakar, Senegal to plan the complete elimination of chemicals that destroy the protective layer of the earth’s atmosphere, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) reported today." (Press Release)

Actually, we strongly suspect everyone would be much better off with an un-managed ozone-conservation regime - see how stable the conceptual ozone layer isn't.

"Malaria initiative develops cheap pill treatments" - "Couple the use of artemisinin-based drugs with an effective malaria control program using DDT and we could substantially reduce the number of people infected with malaria each year." (AFM)

"EU backs landmark chemicals law" - "European Union ministers have approved a landmark law on chemicals, after two years of discussion and lobbying. The law requires firms to register all chemicals they produce or import, and to get authorisation for the most dangerous substances. Industry says the law will impose heavy costs, but greens say it is too weak." (BBC)

"Reconditioned Medical Devices: Guilty by Intuition. Washington Post’s Investigation Unscientific" - "In a series of articles, the Washington Post has come down hard on reconditioned single-use medical instruments and the companies that provide them. These medical devices were designed by their manufacturers to be used once, but are cleaned and re-sterilized for reuse. The practice is saving hospitals millions, and, according to its critics, costing patients substantially. Not in money, but in health. Allegedly, these reconditioned hospital devices are causing injury and, at times, death." (STATS)

"High intake of dietary fiber not associated with reduced risk of colorectal cancer" - "In an analysis combining data from 13 studies, high intake of dietary fiber was not associated with reduced risk of colorectal cancer, according to a study in the December 14 issue of JAMA.

Dietary fiber has been hypothesized to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, according to background information in the article. However, the results of numerous epidemiological studies have been inconsistent. Ecological correlation studies and many case-control studies have found an inverse association between dietary fiber intake and risk of colorectal cancer. But most prospective cohort studies have found no association between dietary fiber intake and risk of colorectal cancer or adenomas (precursors of colorectal cancer), and randomized clinical trials of dietary fiber supplementation have failed to show reductions in the recurrence of colorectal adenomas." (JAMA and Archives Journals)

"Malnutrition 'costs UK billions'" - "Malnutrition costs the UK more than £7.3bn a year - more than double the bill for obesity, a report has found. However, the British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition said malnutrition was given a much lower priority by the government." (BBC)

So, they're going to sue food companies for not making food tasty enough? Or maybe failing to advertise sufficiently... must be Big Foods fault somehow.

"US Hunters Helped Save Rare Bird From Extinction" - "BRINKLEY, Arkansas - A hunting lodge with antler chandeliers and stuffed ducks on the walls seems a strange place to celebrate the comeback of the ivory-billed woodpecker, but wildlife officials are doing exactly that. They credit hunters in particular with helping bring the rare bird back from presumed extinction in the Big Woods section of Arkansas." (Reuters)

"New paper: Free trade for better health" (.pdf) - "Free trade is a powerful force for improving the health of the world's poor. The rise of the multilateral trading regime under the auspices of the GATT and later the WTO has contributed to a massive liberalisation in global trade that has seen new health knowledge and technologies, and wealth, spread to nearly all corners of the globe. As a result, life expectancies have risen worldwide. This new paper from the CFD shows how 50 years of trade liberalisation has significantly improved the health of the world's people." (CFD)

"Greenfacts gives industry access to latest GM findings" - "An online summary of a key FAO study into genetically modified food has given the food industry unprecedented access to vital information concerning the safety and potential risks of this technology." (Food Navigator)

"GM wheat not considered salinity solution" - "The people behind the trial of Western Australia's first genetically modified (GM) wheat crop say it should not be seen as the answer to the state's salinity crisis. The trial of salt-tolerant GM wheat by Grain Biotech Australia at a property near Corrigin, east of Perth, was harvested last week. The harvest was welcomed by supporters of GM technology, who believe salt-tolerant wheat could be the saviour for WA farmers battling against worsening salinity. Grain Biotech Australia's business development manager, Alan Tough, says salt-tolerant wheat could be a valuable crop for WA farmers, but it will not solve the state's salinity crisis." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Anyway you slice it, tomatoes cut through drought with new gene" - "New tomato research has its roots in yielding more food to feed more people, according to Dr. Kendal Hirschi about results announced today. His team's study appears in today's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The team made tomato plants over-express the gene, AVP1, which resulted in stronger, larger root systems and that resulted in roots making better use of limited water, said Hirschi, a researcher at Texas A&M University's Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center and Baylor's College of Medicine. "The gene gave us a better root system, and the root system could then take the adjustment to drought stress better and thus grow better," Hirschi said of the paper which details "a strategy to engineer drought-resistant crop plants." For example, regular or control tomatoes used in the experiment suffered irreversible damage after five days without water, as opposed to the transgenic tomatoes, which began to show signs of damage after 13 days but rebounded completely as soon as they were watered, according to the study." (Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications)

"Vandana Shiva takes fight against Monsanto to Hong Kong" - "Hong Kong : Indian environment activist Vandana Shiva and French anti-globalisation crusader Jose Bove Wednesday launched a campaign against US food and seed giant Monsanto on the sidelines of the global trade talks here." (IANS)

December 13, 2005

"Magnetic north pole drifting fast" - "The Earth's north magnetic pole is drifting away from North America so fast that it could end up in Siberia within 50 years, scientists have said." (BBC)

What can we do? Who can we telephone?
Donate to the Shifty Pole Campaign here:
See item December 12 and support the JunkScience Fund for Telling People Where To Go (JSFTPWTG)!

So far we've had plenty of readers offering quite imaginative explanations for the phenomenon being caused by global warming, the pole being a European construct and thus naturally leaning away from Dub-yah, electromagnetic effect due to profligate 'muricans using too many electronic gizmos and an attack by a 'Type IV Alian Civilization'. (sic) A couple of readers have expressed surprise that, as an Aussie, I'm not actively encouraging a polarity flip, thus causing the land down under to resume its rightful place up over. Slogan suggestions so far include 'Pin the pole!' and 'Nail that sucker!' More suggestions welcome - we might leave the best of them up for a holiday period reader vote. And, as yet, no one has offered a protest chant - so don't be shy, this campaign needs you - suggestions to Editor.

"Beating Malaria Means Understanding Mosquitoes" - "An understanding of why infected mosquitoes bite some people more than others could be central to controlling the deadly disease." (New York Times)

"Blood Donations Refused Over Malaria" - "WASHINGTON -- Tens of thousands of would-be blood donors are turned away each year in case they picked up malaria while traveling abroad, report researchers who uncovered the toll on the nation's already stretched blood supply. Only a very small portion of those people are thought to be infected. But the U.S. has no way to test donated blood for malaria and so instead safeguards supplies by refusing donations, for at least a year, from travelers to malaria-prone countries." (AP)

Today's moonbattery: "They bleat about the free market, then hold out their begging bowls" - "It's not just the common agricultural policy: the entire corporate sector relies on state handouts that dwarf their profits." (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

In fairness, I will say I agree with George as far as CAP and similar welfare schemes should not exist and that any impediment to free trade is an impediment to the wealth generation that so particularly benefits the poorest. Having said that, who do you think generates the wealth to begin with, George? Governments are profit takers, not profit makers and wealth sure isn't coming from soapbox socialists is it. So who organises the collective effort, pays the wages, puts up the risk capital (that even you would not do without anticipation of profit) and generates the wealth that feeds government and underwrites infrastructure creation and maintenance and who's profits, increased dividends and share trading value provides the cash pool that pays the pensions and/or superannuation for our retired, ill and infirm? Does it magically appear in the care of these "ragged-trousered philanthropists" you claim are sponsoring the wealthy? Couldn't be that dreadful corporate sector, could it George?

Always suspected that... and about him: "Conspiracy theory could be on right wavelength" - "The reason that I am so fabulously wealthy (girls) is, of course, that I am paid by the government and the pharmaceutical industry to rubbish alternative therapies and MMR conspiracy theorists, and so maintain what you humanities graduates like to call "the hegemony." (Ben Goldacre, The Guardian)

"Vioxx lessons for salt controversy" - "Everyone's afternoon's headlines report a mistrial in the Merck Vioxx case. A few days ago, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal reported complaints by the New England Journal of Medicine that Merck had withheld health outcomes data on the NEJM -published Vioxx trial. NEJM editors expressed outrage that adverse cardiovascular events (heart attacks, strokes and deaths) were excluded from the Merck analysis." (Salt Sensibility)

"Colds 'may trigger child cancers'" - "Scientists have found further compelling evidence infections such as colds may trigger childhood cancers." (BBC) | Infections are a major cause of childhood cancer, study suggests (University of Newcastle upon Tyne)

"Environment and Cancer: The Links Are Elusive" - "Pinning cancer on trace levels of poisons in the environment or even in the workplace is turning out to be a vexing task." (Gina Kolata)

"Obesity Hum-Bug" - "Looking for a source for childhood obesity?

How about Kenneth Clarke Moore for putting “visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads” in The Night Before Christmas? Or the author of We Wish You A Merry Christmas, who had carolers demanding: “Now bring us some figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer”? And then there’s Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol whose Mrs. Cratchit delivers her fat- and spirit-laden Christmas pudding.

The repetition of those images every Christmas season should have kids everywhere salivating and making heavy demands on parents.

At least, that’s what you’d think upon reading the news stories accompanying a new evaluation of studies by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity?" (Duane D. Freese, TCS)

Note: we tried the new format TCS site with various browsers and very mixed result - Opera, for example, is not recognised as a browser at all and receives mobile content - MSIE & Mozilla/clones appear to work OK.

"Consumers need carrots, not sticks, to make 'green' choices" - "With the amount of shopping days until Christmas fast running out, consumers who would like to make 'green' choices are often helpless to change their behaviour, according to research at the University of Surrey. The project, which was funded by ESRC, warns policymakers that eco-taxes and information campaigns have only a limited impact on how people behave." (Economic & Social Research Council)

Summary Of The Eleventh Conference Of The Parties To The UN Framework Convention On Climate Change And First Conference Of The Parties Serving As The Meeting Of The Parties To The Kyoto Protocol: 28 November – 10 December 2005 (Earth Negotiations Bulletin)

Booking their parties early: UNFCCC COP 12 and Kyoto Protocol COP/MOP 2 will take place from 6-17 November 2006. Kenya has offered to host these meetings, although the location is still to be confirmed. These meetings will also coincide with the 25th meetings of the UNFCCC’s subsidiary bodies.

Gasp! "Climate change targets 'not being met'" - "The government is being warned that the UK is failing to meet its climate change targets. A report from the Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD) has found that instead of cutting CO2 emissions, Britain has increased them by nine per cent since 1999." (ePolitix)

"Our best is not enough" - "The pace of climate change talks is glacially slow. It's time for a global reality check." (Andrew Simms, The Guardian)

And in a parallel world... (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Beware the Climate Lilliputians" - "In Gulliver's Travels, the diminutive Lilliputians tie down the "giant" Gulliver with hundreds of tiny cords. The other nations of the world are hoping to try the same trick on the "giant" United States, binding it with strings of small international agreements that will ultimately restrict its emissions of greenhouse gases." (Ronald Bailey, Reason)

The world according to NYT: "America's Shame in Montreal" - "The best that can be said of the recently concluded meeting on climate change in Montreal is that the countries that care about global warming did not allow the United States delegation to blow the whole conference to smithereens. Washington was intent on making sure that the conferees required no more of the United States than what it is already doing to restrain greenhouse gas emissions, which amounts to virtually nothing." (New York Times)

and the left coast: "On a warming planet, it's business as usual" - "The international climate talks in Montreal go nowhere, thanks to the relentless obstruction by the United States." (The Oregonian)

"Defining prosperity down" - "The United States government has wisely refused to yield to pressure by other industrialized nations to enter into formal negotiations that would create new binding limits on so-called "greenhouse-gas" emissions to take effect in 2012. The government did, however, agree to engage in "open and nonbinding" discussions with 200 other nations on global warming and carbon dioxide emissions." (Town Hall)

"Kyoto's Bill" - "Former President Clinton tells a conference on global warming that President Bush is "flat wrong" that Kyoto's emission targets would hurt our economy. So why didn't Clinton ever submit Kyoto for ratification?" (IBD)

"Long-term variations of the surface pressure in the North Atlantic and possible association with solar activity and galactic cosmic rays" - "Abstract: Long-term variations of the surface pressure in the North Atlantic for the period 1874–1995 (Mean Sea Level Pressure archive, Climatic Research Unit, UK) were compared with indices of solar and geomagnetic activity and the galactic cosmic ray (GCR) variations characterized by the concentration of the cosmogenic isotope 10Be. A periodicity of 80 yrs close to the Gleissberg cycle in the intensity of the 11-yr solar cycles was found in the pressure variations at middle latitudes (45–65°N) in the cold half of the year, which is the period of intensive cyclogenesis. It was shown that a long-term increase of pressure in this region coincided with a secular rise of solar/geomagnetic activity which was accompanied by a decrease in GCR intensity. Long-term decreases of pressure were observed during the periods of low (or decreasing) intensities of sunspot cycles. Similar features were also found in the spectral characteristics of geomagnetic activity indices, GCR intensity and pressure at middle latitudes on the quasi-decadal time scale. Effects of solar activity/GCR variations on the surface pressure seem to be more pronounced in the North Atlantic zone of intensive cyclogenesis (near the eastern coasts of North America). The results obtained suggest possible links between long-term variations in cyclonic activity at extratropical latitudes of the North Atlantic and solar activity/GCR variations on the time scales from 10 to 100 yrs." (Advances in Space Research)

Climate change feeding the world? "Changes in Climate and Crop Production During the 20th Century in Argentina" - "Abstract This work was focused on the assessment of changes occurring in crop production and climate during the 20th century in Argentina. The study was carried out for nine sites located in the Pampas region that are representative of contrasting environments. We have considered the four main crops cultivated in this area (wheat, maize, sunflower and soybean). Historical climatic data and crop production related variables (yield, planted area, harvested area) were analyzed and, by means of crop simulation models, we quantified the impact of climate on crop yields. Changes occurring in climate during the three last decades of the 20th century were characterized by important increases in precipitation especially between October and March, decreases in maximum temperature and solar radiation in particular during spring and summer and increases in minimum temperature during almost all of the year. These changes contributed to increases in yields, especially in summer crops and in the semiarid zone, mostly due to increases in precipitation, although changes in temperature and radiation also affected crop yields but to a lesser extent. Comparing the period 1950–1970 with 1971–1999, yields increases attributable to changes in climate were 38% in soybean, 18% in maize, 13% in wheat, and 12% in sunflower while mean observed yield increases were 110% for maize, 56% for wheat and 102% for sunflower." (Climatic Change)

Comments on the UCAR Press Release on the Feddema et al. (2005) Science article (Climate Science)

"'Hot death' warning on climate" - "THE world would be condemned to a "hot death" if it did not pursue so-called clean coal technologies and attempts to tackle global warming should not come at the expense of economic growth, according to federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell. He also said there was no real upside into pumping more money into old technologies such as wind turbines." (The Age)

"Japan: Panel to combat epidemics induced by global warming" - "The Environment Ministry will set up a special advisory panel to look into diseases that may become epidemics in the near future as temperatures rise in Japan due to global warming, according to ministry officials." (Japan Times)

"Cutting Through Haze of Governor's Stance on Coal" - "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the environmentalist, hates the pollution caused when coal is burned to make electricity. But Schwarzenegger, the businessman, likes the low-cost, plentiful electrons produced by coal-fired generators from Wyoming to Nevada." (LA Times)

"Energy report sees no fast relief on high oil prices" - "The assessment a year ago was that prices would drop to $30 a barrel by 2025. Washington now says they'll stay above $50. But long-term natural gas prices will moderate" (Associated Press)

"The winds of change are still too costly for E.ON" - "E.ON UK has delayed construction on two of its 100MW offshore wind farms, stating the schemes are not financially viable. This is a problem for the company, as it needs renewable power assets to meet its renewables obligation. For offshore wind as a whole this is a major blow, as it suggests that the renewables obligation is not providing enough of a subsidy to cover the economics of new farms." (Business Review)

"Conference looks at next step in hunt for new fuels" - "Demand for alternative energy is strong, but much work is needed to expand use of biomass, wind and other renewables." (Star Tribune)

"Third GM food suit filed" - "ZHU Yanling is back in court, once again filing suit against Shanghai Nestle Co for using genetically modified ingredients in its chocolate milk powder without informing consumers. Zhu has sued the company two times in the past, and lost both times. This time, however, she is armed with test results from a German laboratory that show the powder contains genetically modified ingredients, something she couldn't prove in previous cases." (Shanghai Daily)

"Hong Kong lets radical French farmer into WTO talks" - "PARIS - France intervened on Monday to persuade the Hong Kong authorities to let radical French farmer Jose Bove into the country to attend world trade talks after he was detained at the airport for several hours. Bove, who campaigns against global free trade, was barred from entry when he arrived in Hong Kong and told to take the first plane back to France." (Reuters)

December 12, 2005

"Deconstructing Montreal" - "The Montreal conference on climate change has been an eye-opener. It has demonstrated a truth which for a long time has been only partially apparent: namely that, for many delegates and Green 'hangers on', punishing America for electing George W. Bush is far more rewarding and important than tackling climate change." | Biased reporting in the UK - the bit conveniently left out of Clinton's Montreal speech (EniroSpin Watch)

Time to put on the old 'woohoo' hat: "Climate compromise reached" - "MONTREAL—The United States accepted a compromise deal early today to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But observers described the agreement, which the U.S. accepted after hours of intense negotiations, as weak and watered-down. It would let all 189 countries at the conference start a non-binding "dialogue," with no deadlines, on general ideas for how to reduce the emissions that are warming Earth's atmosphere." (Toronto Star) | Anger mixes with exhaustion as UN talks enter 13th day (AFP) | U.S. Joins Informal Talks on Warming (Washington Post) | Glacial Gains in Global Talks on Cleaner Air (New York Times) | Timetable and Scope of Binding Negotiations (Washington Post) | Call 'saved climate change deal' (Press Association) | Canberra heals US split on warming (The Australian) | Climate talks: some progress, but without US (The Christian Science Monitor) | US move paves way for new climate change talks (Financial Times) | Dion praised for extending Kyoto accord (Canadian Press) | Talks win 'new Kyoto' to fight climate change (Scotland on Sunday) | Cheers, yet concern for climate (BBC) | Environment minister's joy overflows (Toronto Star)

Yeah, hurray! The talk fest agreed to, uh, talk - indefinitely, or is it only twice?

"UN Climate Change Conference Delivers Major Successes" - "Margaret Beckett, UK Environment Secretary, hailed the successful outcome of the UN Climate Change Conference in Montreal. Speaking at the end of all night talks in Montreal, Mrs Beckett, who led the EU delegation, said:

"Today is a very important day in the global effort to tackle climate change. Despite the deep divisions of recent years, the whole global community including the United States, India and China, have agreed to work together through the United Nations process to examine the way forward. The UK and the European Union will do our utmost to ensure that this process is a success." (Defra) | Beckett hails climate 'triumph' (BBC) | 'Hard work' brings results on climate change (Number 10)

So, they're going to look at it... and talk about it. This is a diplomatic breakthrough?

Some bizarre statements and commentary: "UN deal forces climate action" - "A UN conference has agreed to extend the life of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming and to stimulate action from the United States and others for tackling the greenhouse gases that drive dangerous climate change." (Agence France-Presse) | UK hails 'historic' climate deal (BBC) | And the day's Buncombe: Climate campaigners claim greatest ever success at Montreal (London Independent) | US retreats at climate change talks (The Observer) | At Last ... America Agrees to help save the planet (Sunday Herald) | Why America finally woke up to climate change threat (Sunday Herald) | U.N. Climate Talks End With Pivotal Deal (AP) | Talks win 'new Kyoto' to fight climate change (Scotsman) | The world can breathe again (The Observer) | A ray of hope from Montreal (The Observer) | Climate change: Kyoto Protocol confirmed as the only game in town (AFP) | Kyoto's backers overjoyed at outcome of UN talks (AFP) | UN conference breathes life into Kyoto Protocol, builds bridges with US (AFP)

Just plain wrong: "Global warming of a global village" - "The 156 signers of the Kyoto global warming treaty ended their meetings in Montreal on Friday with China and India, the two giants of the developing world, still refusing to accept limits on greenhouse gas emissions after the treaty expires in 2012. Kyoto's curbs apply only to industrialized countries, with the hope that developing nations will be covered later. It's unclear now if or how that will ever happen.

The United States, the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, withdrew from the protocol soon after George W. Bush became president; and Australia, the biggest per-capita emitter, followed suit the next summer. Both countries left the Montreal talks refusing to budge. Some of the environmental activists who came to Montreal even accused the U.S. delegation of obstructing progress." (Peter J. Taylor, Newsday)

Now, we often hear how that 'Toxic Texan' killed Kyoto by withdrawing US support but that pointless protocol never had the support for 'Dub-Yah' to do anything with. Slick Willy could sign it with impunity knowing he could not send it to the Senate for ratification because they'd already resolved the matter before Ozone Al went smooching up to European misanthropists (Kyoto was already headed for the morgue 'til Al flew in to resuscitate it) - the situation was hardly ambiguous, here's the list of 95 Senators signifying Yea to Senate Resolution 98 (and the 5 who abstained), none signified Nay. Not that there was ever any doubt, there were more co-sponsors than the required number of votes.

Nobody 'killed' Kyoto - it was stillborn and is now reduced to a forlorn husk on artificial respiration and intravenous drip lines, denied even the pseudo-satisfaction of naso-gastric feeding. Let it go!

A bit closer to the mark: "U.S. Won't Join in Binding Climate Talks" - "MONTREAL, Dec. 10 -- Despite the Bush administration's adamant resistance, nearly every industrialized nation agreed early Saturday to engage in talks aimed at producing a new set of binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions that would take effect beginning in 2012. In a separate accord, a broader coalition of nearly 200 nations -- including the United States -- agreed to a much more modest "open and nonbinding" dialogue that would not lead to any "new commitments" to reduce carbon dioxide emissions associated with climate change." (Washington Post) | Australia alone in climate change view (AAP) | Post-Kyoto deal isolates Americans (CP)

Australia, too, is honest enough to refuse Kyoto or even the pretence of trying and failing, as more than three dozen countries are doing. The only difference between the US and Australia on the one side and the pretenders on the other is that the first two are prepared to stand in the full light of day, doing what is practical and achievable on a dubious task while the others want you to pay no attention to the countries behind the Kyoto curtain. Bad Toto! Put them down - you don't know where they've been!

Meanwhile, back on planet Earth: "We'd rather keep the lights on than be green" - "THE 189 nations and 8,000 delegates gathered last week in Montreal at the Climate Change Conference faced an ugly reality: most of the countries that promised to cut their greenhouse gas emissions to meet their Kyoto treaty obligations have failed to do so. It seems that job-creating economic growth trumps environmental concerns, especially given the uncertainty surrounding the presence and causes of global warming.

Besides, developing countries such as India, China, South Africa and Brazil have shown no inclination to join, although richer countries agreed in Montreal to increase their incentives to cut emissions." (London Times) | Officials admit ideal of agreed emission controls is 'finished' (The Scotsman)

"Kyoto's Dead Hand: Even signatories are giving up on their emissions targets." - "Global gabfests can be fun, which may explain the paradox of the 12-day U.N. conference on climate change that ended yesterday in Montreal. On the one hand, the conferees spelled out the fine print that will make the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which has been ratified by 156 countries, "fully operational," according to conference chairman Stephane Dion.

On the other hand, even those who support radical cuts in carbon-dioxide emissions are realizing that the Kyoto Protocol is a failed instrument for achieving their goals. "The blunt truth about the politics of climate change is that no country will want to sacrifice its economy in order to meet this challenge," says British Prime Minister Tony Blair." (Opinion Journal)

Not as most wrote it up, but... "Clinton, echoing Bush, says climate change can be curbed by voluntary efforts" - 'MONTREAL - Former U.S. president Bill Clinton sounded a lot like George W. Bush in a speech to a UN conference Friday, suggesting climate change could be painlessly curbed through voluntary efforts and new technology. He made no criticism of the Bush administration for refusing to embrace the mandatory targets of the Kyoto Protocol, or for refusing to discuss a long-term global agreement to cut greenhouse emissions." (CP) | Bill Clinton's Shifting Policy on Climate Change (CEI)

"U.S., Under Fire, Eases Its Stance in Climate Talks" - "MONTREAL, Saturday, Dec. 10 - The United States dropped its opposition early Saturday morning to nonbinding talks on addressing global warming after a few words were adjusted in the text of statements that, 24 hours earlier, prompted a top American official to walk out on negotiations. At the same time, other industrialized nations that have signed on to the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty binding them to curb emissions of greenhouse gases, agreed to start meeting to set new deadlines once the existing pact's terms expire in 2012." (New York Times)

Oh boy... "Climate Change: Obstruct globally" - As Americans endure the embarrassment of the U.S. performance at a global warming conference, Seattle residents can hold their heads a little higher. At least, Mayor Greg Nickels made a good showing at a U.N. conference in Montreal." (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Frankly, we're appalled by the waste involved in these pointless talk fests over things we know little about, don't know if they constitute any form of problem and cannot predictably adjust anyway. Accordingly, we'd like to propose an alternate scare, one involving clearly defined change and with serious consequences - may we present:

"Movement of North Magnetic Pole is accelerating" - "After some 400 years of relative stability, Earth's North Magnetic Pole has moved nearly 1,100 kilometers out into the Arctic Ocean during the last century and at its present rate could move from northern Canada to Siberia within the next half-century. If that happens, Alaska may be in danger of losing one of its most stunning natural phenomena – the Northern Lights." (Oregon State University)

Very obviously this is rendering compasses useless to all but the initiates skilled in navigation (an opaque art itself steeped in arithmetical mysteries) and a significant threat to the planet. How will migratory birds manage if we allow this to continue? (Heck, NOAA won't be able to post their Santa Tracker if the old guy can't even find his own home!) Clearly this is all the fault of such multinational evils as Big Navigator (Big Nav) and would be at the top of international action were it not for a well-hidden campaign of misinformation by Big Nav - probably co-financed by Big Oil so they can sell more product to misdirected drivers because the pole is shifting! (See! Knew we could hitch a ride on the groundwork already laid on bad Big Oil.)

This important issue is being ignored and we cannot allow this threat to migratory wildlife to continue unaddressed. So, help us save the world from magnetic pole shift (may have to work on that name) by sending vast amounts of money to the JunkScience Fund for Telling People Where To Go (JSFTPWTG) with funds to be spent in a manner to be decided (by us, depending on the weather).

Donate to the Shifty Pole Campaign here:

Help us tell people where to go!

Please give generously!

Now, all we need is a slogan...

"Don't give Earth the shaft - stop the shift!" No? How about "No shift Sherlock!"

Hmm... Might need to work on that.

And a chant:

"Hey, hey, ho, ho. Tell the people where to go!"

Oh... Alright, you do better - suggestions to Editor.

Speak the truth quietly? "Greens slam Campbell's Kyoto comments" - "Green groups have attacked Environment Minister Ian Campbell over his comments that the Kyoto Protocol was almost buried." (AAP)

"New models of weather pattern" - "For a mathematician, Joseph Biello spends a lot of time thinking about the weather. But the UC Davis assistant professor isn't looking out the office window. He is using mathematical theory to build a model of the Madden-Julian Oscillation, a tropical weather pattern that influences drought and rainfall in the western U.S.

The Madden-Julian Oscillation was discovered in 1972 when researchers looked closely at meteorological data. It lasts 30 to 60 days and appears as clusters of tropical thunderstorms over the Indian Ocean before sweeping eastward into the Pacific, where it dissipates.

Measured in weeks, the Madden-Julian Oscillation lies in a gray area between short-term weather forecasts and long-term climate studies, said Bryan Weare, a professor of meteorology at UC Davis who also studies the phenomenon. A better understanding of the weather pattern would help with medium-range weather and climate forecasting." (University of California - Davis)

Greenland_trends.gif (27571 bytes) This nonsense - again: "Greenland’s Ice Melt" - "Carbon dioxide emissions are causing temperatures to rise and that’s making Greenland glaciers melt at rates faster than previously expected. Living on Earth host Steve Curwood talks with Richard Alley, professor of geosciences at Penn State University, about how melting ice sheets may affect sea levels and global coastlines." (Living on Earth)

Indeed Greenland has warmed in the 20th Century - more precisely, in the 1920s. The mean anomaly (wrt 1961-90) for the period 1930-1990 is +0.33 °C, which means most of the period was warmer than the reference period that just happens to be the period of greatest greenhouse gas emission. If we must go with post hoc, ergo propter hoc then the assumption is that... greenhouse cools Greenland? With the corollary that cooling melts glaciers? Puh-lease!

The Week That Was Dec. 10, 2005 (SEPP)

"Dreaming of a green Christmas? Dream no more"

In a drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy tree,
Thy branches ne'er remember
Their green felicity.

This year, the poet is being proved wrong. For those who study Britain's seasons and the increasingly topsy-turvy world of the natural calendar know many trees are remaining stubbornly in leaf despite the onset of "drear-nighted December".

The Woodland Trust, which oversees the national phenology project and the popular Springwatch and Autumnwatch initiatives, believes parts of Britain could be poised for their first "green Christmas", with some particularly verdant species having foregone their traditional autumnal show of reds, browns, russets and yellows." (London Independent)

But wait, there's more! "Heavy falls ease 'snow crisis' fears" - "Steady snowfalls across Europe have cast doubt on scientists' predictions that global warming is causing snow lines to rise dramatically across the Alps. Instead, resorts are enjoying some of the best pre-Christmas skiing in a decade. After a slow start to the season, snow has been falling throughout the week across France, Italy, and parts of Switzerland and Austria, with more forecast. Sufficient cover for Christmas and New Year now stretches across the Alps, with some of the best conditions in France and Italy." (London Telegraph)

"Gov't to set up panel on global warming-induced epidemics" - "Japan's Environment Ministry will set up a special advisory panel on diseases that may become epidemics in the near future as temperatures rise in Japan due to global warming, officials said Saturday. Panel members, including specialists from the National Institute of Infectious Diseases and National Institute for Environmental Studies, will gather information on the potential effects of global warming on infectious diseases and come up with countermeasures." (Kyodo)

"Natural Warming Larger Than Thought?" - "Below are some observations found in a couple of recent journal articles that have received little attention—hmm, we wonder why?" (World Climate Report)

"Government's watchdog attacks failure on climate change targets" - "Tony Blair, John Prescott and Gordon Brown will be condemned today over the Government's failure to meet its targets on climate change in a report by its own watchdog on global warming. The Prime Minister's "green guru", Sir Jonathon Porritt, who heads the Commission for Sustainable Development, will deliver a humiliating blow to Mr Blair over his claims to lead the world on climate change, one day after ministers celebrated a deal in Montreal to curb global warming." (London Independent)

"Montreal deal raises hopes for Europe's emissions scheme" - "The government is seeking to capitalise on success at the UN climate change conference by calling on other European states to extend the emissions trading scheme (ETS) after 2012, Downing Street sources said last night." (The Guardian)

"In Study, a History Lesson on the Costs of Hurricanes" - "SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 8 - To better understand the potential for catastrophic damage from future hurricanes, scientists are looking to the past. And the future looks very expensive, the scientists said this week at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union. With wealth and property values increasing, and more people moving to vulnerable coasts, by the year 2020 a single storm could cause losses of $500 billion - several times the damage inflicted by Hurricane Katrina. Roger A. Pielke Jr., director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado, presented preliminary results of a study that retraced the path of hurricanes from the past 105 years and calculated the havoc they would wreak on the present-day United States landscape." (New York Times) | Attribution of Disaster Losses (Roger A. Pielke Jr.; and Evan Mills, Science) Full Text | PDF

"Ont. power supply tight without coal, energy insiders say" - "Ontario's decision to close all of its coal plants will leave electricity supply so tight that every new generation project must be completed on time in the next two years to avoid power shortages, sources said today. A day before the Ontario Power Authority releases a crucial report outlining the province's future electricity supply needs, industry insiders were expecting the report to reveal a supply crunch that leaves little wiggle room to avoid shortages as coal plants close." (CP)

"Report set to endorse nuclear power" - "Premier Dalton McGuinty's government is about to go on a nuclear power building binge. When the Ontario Power Authority delivers its long awaited "supply mix" report today, it will come as no surprise when it recommends that Ontario's thirst for energy can best be quenched with nuclear reactors. The OPA was created by the government to make recommendations that will ensure an adequate, long-term supply of electricity in Ontario." (Toronto Star) | Put $35B in nuclear power, report says (Toronto Star)

"Ontario agency's $40-billion proposal would hit consumers hard in the wallet" - "TORONTO -- Electricity customers in Ontario will face skyrocketing bills if the government adopts a proposal to spend up to $40-billion on nuclear plants over the next two decades." (Globe and Mail)

"Nuclear Explosion at Montreal" - "MONTREAL -- "This is a dirty filthy industry," screeched Elizabeth May, head of the Sierra Club of Canada. Her outburst occurred during a panel discussion devoted to nuclear energy and climate change at the United Nations Climate Change Conference at Montreal. The panel was sponsored by the Heinrich Böll Foundation which is a think tank affiliated with the German Green Party. The panel was convened for the release of the Foundation's new study Nuclear Energy and Climate Change. The study was done by Felix Christian Matthes, a policy analyst from the Institute for Applied Ecology in Berlin." (Ronald Bailey, TCS)

"Finland Rekindles Interest in Nuclear Power" - "HELSINKI, Finland - Finland is nothing if not pragmatic and law abiding. So when Finland, a country with a long memory of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 and considerable environmental bona fides, chose to move ahead this year with the construction of the world's largest nuclear reactor, the nuclear industry portrayed it as a victory, one that would force the rest of Western Europe to take note." (New York Times)

"Capitol Hill weighing tighter limits on wind farms - Shipping buffer could sink project" - "In yet another congressional maneuver that could kill a wind farm proposed off Cape Cod, a conference committee is considering language that would prohibit wind turbines within 1.5 miles of shipping and ferry lanes. The language is being circulated as part of an $8.7 billion Coast Guard authorization bill now in conference committee. If it remains in the final document, it would effectively kill the proposal by Cape Wind Associates to generate power by building 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound." (Boston Globe)

"Oil Firms May Pay $10 Billion to Drill in Alaska" - "WASHINGTON - Energy companies may pay as much as $10 billion for the rights to drill for crude oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), double the government's official estimate, the Congressional Budget Office said on Thursday." (Reuters)

"Schwarzenegger proposes climate strategy" - "SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's climate advisers issued ambitious recommendations this week for reducing gases linked to global warming, including a new fee on gasoline and diesel. The draft proposals fill in the blanks of an executive order Schwarzenegger issued in June, giving California the most aggressive goals in the world for fighting global warming. He commanded the state to reduce "greenhouse gas" emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. The state Climate Action Team's proposals reflect the growing commitment of California's leaders to control greenhouse gases despite opposition within the federal government to mandatory limits on the heat-trapping pollutants." (SHNS)

Just what the UK conservatives need</sarcasm>: "Cameron vows 'tough' green action" - "Conservative leader David Cameron has set up a policy group on the environment to pave the way for "tough decisions" on cutting greenhouse gas. The group, chaired by ex-Environment Secretary John Gummer and environmentalist Zac Goldsmith, will look at "quality of life" issues. Mr Cameron says he will finalise policies in 18 months' time following the group's recommendations." (BBC) | Environmental groups welcome green Tories (The Guardian)

Oh goody! A naive leader, in thrall to misanthropic green anti-corporates...

"Human Rights that really matter" - "This Human Rights Day, let’s redress a violation that kills millions every year." (Niger Innis and Paul Driessen, MichNews.com)

"Rich nations refuse to let go of subsidies as WTO talks near" - "After millions of air miles, countless secret meetings, forests of reports and one failed summit, ministers from 150 countries are facing the prospect of failure in their attempt to free world trade and drag millions of people out of extreme poverty." (London Independent)

"US makes strides against 'ecoterrorism'" - "The arrest of six activists comes as Congress considers increased penalties. But acts of intimidation are also rising." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"U.S. accuses 7 of eco-sabotage" - "The government Thursday announced the most extensive bust of eco-saboteurs in U.S. history, charging seven people with a series of arsons and vandalism that plagued the Pacific Northwest for nearly three years." (The Oregonian)

"Healthy Skepticsm: A third of medical research wrong?" - "The latest medical research is wrong about one-third of the time, that is… according to the latest medical research. A survey of 49 highly cited medical studies by epidemiologist John Ioannidis found the results of 14 studies were contradicted or downplayed by later research. Ioannidis' survey raises some hard questions. Is there a fundamental flaw in medical research, or is this just part of scientific progress?" (Discover.com)

Better late than... "Record Drought Cripples Life Along the Amazon" - "MANAQUIRI, Brazil - The Amazon River basin, the world's largest rain forest, is grappling with a devastating drought that in some areas is the worst since record keeping began a century ago. It has evaporated whole lagoons and kindled forest fires, killed off fish and crops, stranded boats and the villagers who travel by them, brought disease and wreaked economic havoc." (New York Times)

Actually, the drought appears to be over, rivers are rising or have risen already following an unusually dry three-month dry season but at least The Times eventually noticed the hardship it was causing the little people (non-subscribers at that).

It has been mentioned to us that this passage:

Scientists say the drought is most likely a result of the same rise in water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean that unleashed Hurricane Katrina. They also worry that if global warming is involved, as some of them suspect, it may be the beginning of a new era of more severe and frequent droughts in the region that accounts for nearly a quarter of the world's fresh water.

might cause some confusion and indeed, some might draw the wrong inference from loose statements like "the region that accounts for nearly a quarter of the world's fresh water". So, what does that mean, exactly? Does it mean that a quarter of the world's potable water is sourced from the Amazon region? Nope - most of that fresh water simply flows back to sea. What they are trying to say is that a significant portion of rain that falls on land does so in tropical South America, the significance of which is not great in the global potable water supply.

"Great Lakes near ecological breakdown - scientists" - "CHICAGO - Stresses from polluted rivers to invasive species threaten to trigger an ecological breakdown in the Great Lakes, a group of scientists hoping to sway U.S. environmental policy said on Thursday." (Reuters)

"Cell phones, driving don't mix" - "Most people can rather efficiently walk and chew gum at the same time, but when it comes to more complicated "multi-tasking" – like driving and talking on a cell phone – there is a price to pay. And no one, it seems, is immune." (Oregon State University)

"Slim = sad. Fat = happy" - "If you think going on a diet is depressing, you are right. And here's the part that really hurts" (London Independent)

"State board OKs larger soft-drink containers in schools" - "FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Prompted by a legislative panel's action, the state Board of Education agreed yesterday to allow larger soft-drink containers in schools than board members wanted. After years of efforts by nutritionists and educators, the General Assembly passed legislation this year to place some standards on school food, especially snacks in vending machines." (Associated Press)

Another phthalate flake: "Wiley: So we can celebrate in health the holidays to come" - "I have friends who want to add traditions to their holidays. Several speak of reaching out to give to those less fortunate. They are searching for meaning and for ways to make a difference. Of course sharing with others is always good, but I want to suggest they talk to family members (and others) about the safety of the products all around us. I want them to question the content of the beautifully wrapped fluffy baskets under the tree and to wonder about the toys before toddlers put them into their mouths." (Metro West Daily News)

"Jennifer Marohasy: Costly harvest of ignorant GM campaign" - "THE organic food market is growing and according to some studies this demand is being driven by increasing consumer resistance to genetically modified foods. This resistance in turn is driven by anti-GM campaigning. In Australia, state government bans on GM food crops prevent the planting of GM corn, soybeans and canola, varieties grown overseas, including in the US.

During the past two weeks the Australian organics industry has sponsored a lecture tour by anti-GM advocate and US-based consultant Charles Benbrook.

As part of this tour, Benbrook has made several claims, such as GM crops have been a failure in the US and herbicide use, particularly for GM soybeans, is at record levels. This story was picked up and run by numerous media outlets, including ABC radio.

The only problem is that what Benbrook has said is not supported by the available evidence." (The Australian)

"GM ban farce: dairy herds already eat it" - "AUSTRALIAN dairy cattle are being given genetically modified feeds despite most state governments declaring themselves GM-free and banning GM food crops for human consumption. The cattle are fed imported GM soybean meal and cotton meal despite fears over the effect it might have on the animals and their milk. No evidence has emerged of the feeds harming the stock, however anti-GM food campaigners have called for a ban." (The Australian)

"Euro Consumers Not Ready For Genetic Development" - "The news that American researchers are using transgenic cows to combat mastitis is a pretty scary development - although not an altogether surprising one. For one thing, it reflects the totally different attitude that exists towards genetic engineering in the United States, compared with Europe. Across the pond, it really is a case of anything goes. Hardly a day goes by when one US research body or another is either announcing some form of breakthrough associated with genetic engineering or is seeking funds to carry out work of this type. And all of this is taking place in the public domain with little or no resistance coming from consumer or environmental pressure groups." (Farming Life)

"Report: Farmers growing pharmaceutical crops see only modest gains" - "WASHINGTON - Farm states like Missouri are eager to cash in on the potential of pharmaceutical crops, but a new report finds the benefits to farmers and rural communities may be smaller than expected. The report, set for release Friday, concludes that market forces will drive farmer compensation down and that the acreage needed to grow crops for bioengineering companies is so small, only a few farms will reap the benefits. "Those looking at pharma crops as a boon to rural America view increased farm income as a key benefit," said the study's author, Iowa State University economics professor Robert Wisner. "In the end, economic principles dictate that only a small part of the pharma crops' value would be expected to go to growers." But proponents of pharmaceutical crops immediately questioned the report's credibility because it was funded by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a Washington-based group that opposes biopharming as environmentally unsound." (Associated Press)

"Kellogg to Begin Using Genetically Modified Soybean Oil to Lower Fat Contents in Some Products" - "BATTLE CREEK, Mich. -- Kellogg Co., the world's largest cereal maker, said Friday that it will begin using oils derived from genetically modified soybeans in some of its products to lower fat contents beginning in 2006." (AP)

December 9, 2005

"Politically Incorrect Plastic" - "Software giant Microsoft announced this week that it plans to stop using packaging material made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic by the end of the year – giving new life to a health scare that I thought had been squelched years ago." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Carson's bridge to malaria" - "When Allegheny County Council renamed the Ninth Street Bridge to honor Rachel Carson, it had not anticipated the e-mail campaign suggesting the Earth mother of tree huggers indirectly and inadvertently caused more deaths than Hitler and Stalin combined. " (Dimitri Vassilaros, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

About all those chemicals and pollution allegedly killing us... "U.S. Life Expectancy Hits All-Time High" - "ATLANTA - U.S. life expectancy has hit another all-time high - 77.6 years - and deaths from heart disease, cancer and stroke continue to drop, the government reported Thursday. Still, the march of medical progress has taken a worrisome turn: Half of Americans in the 55-to-64 age group - including the oldest of the baby boomers - have high blood pressure, and two in five are obese. That means they are in worse shape in some respects than Americans born a decade earlier were when they were that age." (Associated Press)

So, if all those terrible, nasty, horrible, not very nice chemicals are killing us and yet we are still living longer... must be global warming! That's it! Warming the planet saves bazillions of life years! 'Things you can do' lists are bound to proliferate but basically all you need to know is that abundant, cheap energy improves longevity and life quality so, to ensure human prosperity, promote coal and nuclear power generation. "Build more generators now!" should be the catchcry. Save lives - call off Kyoto and put some more coal on that fire!

"Think we've got it bad? Historians say past eras were worse" - "ALBANY, N.Y. -- Terrorist attacks. A war in Iraq and political strife at home. A seemingly unending string of natural disasters. Global warming. It's enough to make many of today's college students believe the current era is one of America's darkest and most trying. But, according to a survey of 354 historians nationwide, today's world is a walk in the park." (Associated Press)

Oops! "The Psychology of Global Warming: Alarm-ist Versus Alarm-ing" (Bill Blakemore, ABC News)

Steady on Bill, you're being alarmist. Oh, and that "temperatures climb to highest in 500,000 years" thing? The previous 4 interglacials have all been a couple or three degrees warmer than the current one mate and the chances of rising to those levels are, well, sadly remote.

"Blair Deserts Kyoto" - "After years as an environmentalist champion, the British PM has admitted no one will negotiate 'another major treaty like Kyoto'" (Benny Peiser, Financial Post)

"Climate talks making 'progress'" - "Negotiators at a climate change summit say they are making good progress in talks on implementing the Kyoto agreement to cut greenhouse gases." (BBC)

"Canadian Prime Minister’s Spectacular Hypocrisy" - "Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin yesterday called on the United States to heed the “global conscience” and embrace mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions. Martin’s comments to the United Nations climate conference in Montréal omitted any comment on Canada’s own record of steeply increasing emissions." (CEI)

"U.S. said to be deeply angered by Martin's comments at climate conference" - "MONTREAL - With one day of talks to go at the UN climate conference, desperate efforts to draw the United States into the global effort to curb greenhouse emissions appear to have hit a brick wall, and Prime Minister Paul Martin is being blamed. An official with close contacts in the U.S. delegation said any hopes of drawing Washington into the process were killed when Martin pointed a finger of blame at the United States in a news briefing at the conference." (CP)

"Economists urge Bush to act on emissions" - "A group of influential US economists yesterday urged President George W. Bush to drop his opposition to mandatory cuts in carbon emissions, saying it would cost just 1 per cent of gross national product." (Financial Times)

So, for the bargain price of only $125 billion per annum (say it quickly & it doesn't sound much), the United States could achieve precisely zero measurable difference in Earth's global mean temperature. (Note: if they meant gross domestic product then it's a real steal at ~$110 billion/p.a.) Why would anyone even contemplate flushing those kinds of funds?

"Former Greenpeace Co-Founder Praises US for Rejecting Kyoto" - "Montreal - A founding member of Greenpeace, who left the organization because he viewed it as too radical, praised the United States for refusing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. "At least the [United] States is honest. [The U.S.] said, 'No we are not going to sign that thing (Kyoto) because we can't do that,'" said Patrick Moore, who is attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal." (CNSNews.com)

Say what? "Australia splits with US on climate change" - "Marathon talks on efforts to roll back the peril of climate change entered their penultimate day in Montreal today as the United States found itself isolated after its stalwart ally, Australia, split on the issue of how to tackle greenhouse gas emissions." (AFP)

Perhaps not: "Forget climate targets, timetables, Australia says" - "MONTREAL, Dec 8 - Short-term targets and tight timetables are no solution to fighting climate change, Australia's environment minister said on Thursday on the sidelines of a U.N. climate conference. The talks have struggled to make headway on advancing the next phase of the Kyoto Protocol after 2012. The pact enshrines binding curbs on the emission of greenhouse gases, something Australia and the United States say threatens economic growth. Both countries have refused to ratify Kyoto, saying clean technology is crucial in fighting climate change.

"It is fair to say that a Kyoto-style agreement is very unlikely to be achieved from the negotiations," Ian Campbell told Reuters, referring to a new round of talks likely to be announced on Friday by Kyoto members gathered in Montreal. "The concept of binding targets and timetables is just about finished," he said." (Reuters)

"Italian Environment Minister Won't Risk Damaging Businesses" - "Environment minister Altero Matteoli arriving in Montreal to take part in the UN conference on the climate said: "We cannot damage our businesses that must become competitive again" (AGI Online)

"Brazil won't bow to pressure for emissions cuts" - "MONTREAL, Dec 8 - Brazil does not intend to adopt mandatory curbs on emissions of heat-trapping gases, and industrialized countries must bear the main burden, Environment Minister Marina Silva said in an interview on Thursday." (Reuters)

"No Emissions Cuts for Developing Nations – Saudis" - "MONTREAL - Saudi Arabia said Thursday that the world's developing nations, including those that depend on oil revenues, should not be bound in the future by greenhouse gas emissions limits." (Reuters)

"Transcript: Burn more energy to save planet?" - "The United Nations climate policy negotiations run to 9 December 2005 in Quebec. It’s here that the poorer countries of the world including South Africa are being pressured into things that might not be in their best interest according to Kendra Okonski, environment programme director from the International Policy Network." (Business Day)

"Killing Kyoto" - "Montreal -- A curious thing is happening at this year's annual United Nations conference on climate change. The nasty anti-Americanism on display in years past is largely absent. To the contrary, there's a seriousness of purpose and an acknowledgement of difficult realities that's unprecedented." (Nick Schulz, NRO)

Chuckle: "Clinton 'annoys' U.S. climate team" - "MONTREAL, Quebec -- A contentious U.N. climate conference entered its final day Friday with the long-term future undecided in the fight against global warming, and with a surprise visitor on tap to rally the "pro-Kyoto" forces. Bill Clinton, who as president championed the Kyoto Protocol clamping controls on "greenhouse gases," was scheduled to speak at the conference Friday afternoon -- in an unofficial capacity but potentially at a critical point in backroom talks involving the U.S. delegation." (AP) | Bill Clinton Heats Up UN Climate Conference (CNSNews.com)

Slick Willy was such a proponent he subjected The Protocol to a hip pocket veto - he simply did not submit it for ratification (knowing full well that it would not be ratified anyway probably had something to do with it but then, he knew that when he signed it).

Today's Buncombe: "Hot air: Summit heads to a close with no sign of progress" - "The UN climate conference began 11 days ago. Representatives from 189 countries jetted in to Montreal. Tomorrow the talking stops, with little sign of action. Since the summit began, the seas have risen by 0.077mm, 1,176 million barrels of oil have been pumped, 280,000 hectares of forest have been destroyed, and 907 million tonnes of greenhouse gases have been discharged. So what have 11 days of talks achieved so far?" (London Independent)

"Climate talks near Kyoto renewal road map" - "MONTREAL - Major industrial nations neared accord on a vague road map to extend the Kyoto Protocol at U.N. climate talks on Thursday but Washington showed no sign of budging from plans to pursue its own strategy on global warming." (Reuters)

"Trail goes cold in search for climate deal" - "THE Montreal conference on global warming looks like ending tonight with no big agreement: nothing approaching the status of the Kyoto Protocol, and possibly nothing at all. That is not a tragedy. It is more like a success. One of the fortnight’s achievements is to have drawn attention to the difficulty of enforcing the Kyoto Protocol itself, never mind drafting a successor, given that so many countries are on course to breach it by an extravagant margin." (Bronwen Maddox, London Times)

Latest indoctrination campaign: "Transcript: Global warming introduced to Tasmanian school curriculum" - "MARK COLVIN: In what's being called a first for any state education system, global warming is to become an official part of the Tasmanian school curriculum. A three-month trial was held this year, and as a result there'll now be a new teaching module on global warming in years Seven and Eight." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"A shady deal from the climate-change charmers " - "IF A shifty salesman in a blue suit adorned with yellow stars appeared on your doorstep flogging a life insurance policy with “high, high costs and low, low returns”, would you turn over your hard-earned cash? Most probably you would shut the door in his face. But this is effectively what some nongovernmental organisations and governments are asking us to do when they call for drastic restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions in the name of saving us from climate change. " ( Kendra Okonski, Business Day)

"What is the Kyoto Protocol?" (Reuters)

Ooh! I know, I know! It's "the most expensive means possible of not addressing a non-problem"! What do I win?

"Work to take heat off" - "The Kyoto Protocol — an international treaty aimed at limiting emissions of greenhouse gases that are heating the planet — is on its deathbed. But even critics of the admittedly flawed agreement don't believe the treaty should merely be buried and forgotten." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

They got that last part right - it should be enshrined as the prime example of a stupid embarrassment never, ever to be repeated.

"Policy Group Distributes Toilet Paper 'Emissions Credits' at U.N. Global Warming Conference" - "Montreal, Canada - The National Center for Public Policy Research is handing out "emissions credits" printed on toilet paper at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal today, to symbolize the failure of the Kyoto Protocol and the futility of emissions trading schemes." (Press Release) | The Empire Strikes Back: U.N. Disrupts Distribution of Toilet Paper Emissions Credits, Seizes National Center Literature (National Center)

"Nature's style: Naturally trendy" - "Abstract: Hydroclimatological time series often exhibit trends. While trend magnitude can be determined with little ambiguity, the corresponding statistical significance, sometimes cited to bolster scientific and political argument, is less certain because significance depends critically on the null hypothesis which in turn reflects subjective notions about what one expects to see. We consider statistical trend tests of hydroclimatological data in the presence of long-term persistence (LTP). Monte Carlo experiments employing FARIMA models indicate that trend tests which fail to consider LTP greatly overstate the statistical significance of observed trends when LTP is present. A new test is presented that avoids this problem. From a practical standpoint, however, it may be preferable to acknowledge that the concept of statistical significance is meaningless when discussing poorly understood systems." (American Geophysical Union)

"Changes to land cover may enhance global warming in Amazon, reduce it in midlatitudes" - "New simulations of 21st-century climate show that human-produced changes in land cover could produce additional warming in the Amazon region comparable to that caused by greenhouse gases, while counteracting greenhouse warming by 25% to 50% in some midlatitude areas. The simulations from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) show the importance of including land cover in computer-model depictions of global change. The results will be published in the December 9 issue of Science." (NCAR/UCAR)

New Science paper Confirms Land Cover Change as a First Order Climate Forcing on the Global Scale (Climate Science) | The Importance of Land-Cover Change in Simulating Future Climates | Full Text (HTML) | Full Text (PDF) | Supporting Online Material (Science) | Perspective: Land Use and Climate Change | Full Text (HTML) | Full Text (PDF)

Right... "Climate change theory barks up wrong tree, study shows" - "Climate scientists could be about to give oak, ash and maple a bad name. They warn today that expanding forests in the temperate zones of Europe, the US and Asia could add to global warming." (The Guardian)

So, the Little Ice Age resulted from Europeans clearing the forests of Western Europe and North America for shipbuilding lumber and agriculture (all that increase in albedo reflecting more solar energy back to space rather than keeping dark forests cosy). And by catching up to the temperatures of the Medieval Warm Period, we are essentially seeing the restoration of global temperatures that, um, should be, right? After six or seven centuries of, uh, unnatural cold, we're seeing the undoing of anthropogenic global cooling? Puts a whole new perspective on things, eh?

"Alaska's Columbia Glacier continues on disintegration course" - "Alaska's rapidly disintegrating Columbia Glacier, which has shrunk in length by 9 miles since 1980, has reached the mid-point of its projected retreat, according to a new University of Colorado at Boulder study.

The glacier's retreat appears to be due to a combination of complex physical processes, he said. "The start of the retreat in 1980 is not the direct result of global warming, but was triggered by longer-term warming," said Pfeffer. "The Columbia Glacier, like all Alaska glaciers, is melting at an increased rate, but the enormous volume of loss accompanying the retreat is much greater than melt alone."

The retreat of the Columbia Glacier and Alaska's other tidewater glaciers are believed to be influenced by a slow warming trend that began in the Northern Hemisphere about 500 years ago, he said. The Muir Glacier in Alaska's Glacier Bay, for example, began its retreat in the late 1800s, according to researchers." (University of Colorado at Boulder)

"ORNL-Led Study Shows Forests Thrive with Increased CO2 Levels" - "Forest productivity may be significantly greater in an atmosphere enriched with carbon dioxide, according to findings released today that challenge recent reports that question the importance of carbon dioxide fertilization." (Newswise)

"Amazon Drought Ending, Yet Sickness Looms" - "BELEM - The Amazon basin's worst drought in more than 40 years is ending as rainfall returns to normal, though officials fear diseases will spread as rising rivers stir up muck from stagnant pools of contaminated water." (Reuters)

"Probing Question: Does commercial jet traffic affect climate?" - "It's hard to dispute that car and truck emissions affect the environment. Tail pipes cough out a brew of gases that contribute to smog, ground-level ozone and global warming. But what about jet pollution?" (Penn State)

"Anti-Pollution Gasoline Tax Urged by Californian Panel" - "LOS ANGELES - An advisory panel appointed by California's governor urged the state on Thursday to impose a new tax on gasoline, diesel fuel and other petroleum products to fund efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions." (Reuters)

BMJ gives Juniper a soapbox: "Pressure mounts for further action on climate change" - "The World Health Organization called this week for a "proactive culture of action" to protect the public’s health from the impact of rapid of climate change. The organisation highlighted how climate change is already affecting human health, including more than 35 000 excess deaths in western Europe caused by the 2003 heat wave and the spread of tick borne encephalitis to greater latitudes. The organisation called for strategies to be developed now to enable societies to adapt as best they could to the effects of rapid climate change." (Tony Juniper, BMJ-British Medical Journal)

"Bill May Renew U.S. Weather Control Efforts" - "WASHINGTON — After a brutal year of hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and droughts, lawmakers are looking for ways to beat Mother Nature. And while it's still a bit of a long shot, Uncle Sam could be called in to sponsor research to find ways to blast dangerous storms out of the sky or put rain clouds over parched land." (FoxNews.com)

"Nuclear Energy Debate Turns Radioactive at Climate Conference" - "Montreal - Nuclear energy would reduce the world's dependence on fossil fuels and help cut greenhouse gas emissions, said advocates at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal.

"Expanding nuclear energy is one way that we can actually [reduce] reliance on fossil fuels in a big way," said Patrick Moore, a founding member of Greenpeace. Moore left the group in the 1980s after becoming disillusioned with what he considered the group's radical approach to environmental concerns. He currently heads the Canadian-based environmental advocacy group Greenspirit Strategies, and he blames liberal green groups for halting the expansion of nuclear energy.

"It is the environmental movement itself that is the primary impediment to the reduction of CO2 emission and fossil fuel consumption because they refuse to support the obvious alternatives" (nuclear power and hydro power), Moore told Cybercast News Service. Moore's pro-nuclear discussion at the U.N. conference on Monday evening drew skepticism and jeers from his former environmental colleagues." (CNSNews.com)

"Greenpeace seeks to stop climate killing coal plants in Thailand" (India Infoline)

Quite right too! We think endangered coal plants should be protected everywhere, regardless of whoever or whatever is killing them!

"Rainbow Warrior mooring lines severed by coal plant personnel" - "Map Ta Phut, Thailand, 8 December, 2005- Three Greenpeace crew members from the organisation's flagship the Rainbow Warrior today were dropped into the Map Ta Phut port waters after BLCP coal plant staff cut the ship's mooring lines while police refused to intervene. Plant personnel had arrived with cutting equipment. The crew peacefully resisted by hanging from the mooring lines." ('peas release)

"Geologists witness 'ocean birth'" - "Scientists say they have witnessed the possible birth of a future ocean basin growing in southern Ethiopia. The team watched an 8m rift develop in the ground in just three weeks in the Afar desert region last September." (BBC)

"Astrophysicists weigh up risks of cosmic wipeout" - "Earthlings can rest easy. The likelihood of a doomsday scenario in which Earth is destroyed in a freak astrophysical catastrophe is remote - about once in a billion years, according to a new calculation." (NewScientist.com news service)

But, but... which one? When did the billion years start and when will it end? Who can we tell? Who can we telephone?

"Scientists union opposes EPA's pesticide-test plan" - "The union representing scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency added its voice yesterday to critics who are protesting the agency's proposed rule for human experimentation in testing pesticides. The rule, which Congress ordered the agency to develop earlier this year, has been criticized by several members of Congress and some EPA personnel as allowing unethical experimentation and failing to protect children and pregnant women." (Baltimore Sun)

"EU asks public for help in tackling rise in obesity" - "BRUSSELS - Europe's health chief issued a public invitation on Thursday to find concrete ideas for tackling an alarming rise in obesity, especially among children, by promoting healthy diets coupled with more physical exercise. Views on how to make fruits and vegetables more attractive to consumers, as well as improving the nutritional value of school meals, are included in an extensive European Commission survey that aims to curb Europeans' expanding waistlines." (Reuters)

"Does Obesity Justify Big Government?" - "Last January, media outlets reported that cancer had overtaken heart disease as the number one killer in the United States. Sounds scary, no? Fear not. As is usually the case, beyond the scary headline, deep into the copy, came the real story. Both diseases are in steady decline. Cancer rates and deaths from cancer have fallen every year since the early 1990s. The thing is, incidence and mortality rates of heat disease and stroke have fallen even more over the same period (25 percent since 1990). So while it's true that cancer has "overtaken" heart disease, that's really not the story. The story is that both are in decline, heart disease remarkably so." (Radley Balko, Cato)

"'Overweight' people may be the healthiest"- "NEW YORK - Predicting a person's risk of death from their body mass index or BMI, which takes both their weight and height into consideration, may be less accurate than previously thought, according to a new report. The study findings suggest that men, at least, who are classified as overweight according to their body mass index (weight in kilograms divided by weight in meters squared), may actually have a lower risk of death than those classified as normal weight." (Reuters Health)

"Kids exercise to feel good, not lose weight" - "NEW YORK - Children and young teens may be more likely to exercise if they're motivated by fun and fitness rather than weight concerns, a new study suggests." (Reuters Health)

"'Safe' painkiller is leading cause of liver failure" - "A POPULAR over-the-counter painkiller is now the leading cause of acute liver failure in the US - and almost half of those cases are accidental overdoses. Paracetamol (or acetaminophen as it is known in the US) is used by millions of Americans each year, and is commonly thought to be safe. Until 1980, paracetamol was not even listed as a cause of acute liver failure. But between 1998 and 2003, the proportion of cases of liver failure caused by the drug nearly doubled." (NewScientist.com news service)

"GM foods labelling law in India soon" - "Consumers will soon be able to know if they are being offered genetically modified (GM) food or ingredients and be able to make a choice, whether or not to buy/eat such food. There will soon be a law for labelling of GM foods." (Food Ingredients First)

"Study: Most Argentine farmers using biotech soy legally" - "A recent survey of farmers in Argentina showed that two-thirds were using genetically modified soybeans legally without paying royalties. Reuters reported that a survey by the Argentine government showed the farmers were following Argentine law that allows them to cull and reuse genetically modified seed. Argentina requires royalties to be charged when seeds are sold, but not when they are harvested, the report said." (St. Louis Business Journal)

UCS? Who cares? "State, scientists differ on biopharming's upside" - "Missouri officials see biopharming - using plants to produce medicines and polymers - as an exciting new industry, worth pursuing with tax dollars, despite uncertain economic returns. But the state's stance flies in the face of a report being issued today by the Union of Concerned Scientists. The study says any biopharming payday would benefit private companies, rather than farmers and rural communities." (St Louis Post-Dispatch)

December 8, 2005

Oh well... at least we're winning on global warming! County Council Votes to Rename Bridge in Honor of Rachel Carson - The Allegeny County Council (Pennsylvania) voted last night 14-0 to rename the Ninth Street Bridge as the Rachel Carson Bridge. Thanks to all those who sent e-mails to County Council members in protest. Let's not be disappointed -- we learned of the renaming too late (the day before the vote) to mount an effective campaign. Let them name their bridge in honor of Rachel Carson, the environmental extremists' "High Priestess of the All-Natural Final Solution." Though the deification of Carson and the demonization of DDT will continue to contribute to millions of deaths in malarial regions of the world, we'll continue the fight to permit the use of DDT to save lives.

In any event, we can take some small solace in the fact that the entire global warming alarmist community is right now shivering in Montreal, frustrated by our success at thwarting U.S. participation in the Kyoto Protocol! Let them have their silly bridge -- we'll settle for readily available and affordable energy and, of course, the satisfaction of driving the junk science-fueled, socialist Greens absolutely nuts!

Latest CEO to surrender to eco-activist agenda: Goldman Sachs CEO accused of conflict-of-interest in surrender to enviros - What happens when the chairman of an investment bank is also the chairman of an environmental activist group?

For more, check out, Market-Based Environmentalism Is An Oxymoron

Oh, for crying out loud! "Microsoft Completes Phase Out of PVC, “the Poison Plastic”" - "Microsoft, along with Kaiser Permanente, Crabtree and Evelyn, and others, announced they have joined the fast-growing ranks of major corporations demonstrating concern about the environmental health impacts of their products or packaging by phasing out PVC plastic (polyvinyl chloride or vinyl). Hazardous chemicals are used and released in this commonly used material, the second highest selling plastic in the world. Studies show links between chemicals created and used during the PVC lifecycle and cancer, reproductive and immune system damage, and asthma." (Press Release)

"Threatened by warming, Arctic people file suit against US" - "The people of the Arctic filed a landmark human rights complaint against the United States, blaming the world's No. 1 carbon polluter for stoking the global warming that is destroying their habitat. The Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC), representing native people in the vast, sparsely-populated region girdling the Earth's far north, said they had petitioned an inter-American panel to seek relief for Canadian and US Inuit." (AFP)

See What Arctic Warming? and the more detailed Arctic Warming Update for a clearer picture of Arctic trends and don't forget our Trend Graph including Atmospheric CO2. Note: subsequent to NASA's server upgrade the correct URL for zonal temperature anomalies is: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata/ZonAnn.Ts.txt - the URL imbedded in the older graphics is no longer active.

See also Polar Bear Scare on Thin Ice and, as for whether bears cope with warmer Arctic temperatures, note that most of the Holocene (the current interglacial period) has been warmer in Arctic Greenland with the Little Ice Age forcing bears to cope with the coldest sustained period of the last 10,000 years. One thing this should highlight: we are measuring Earth's temperatures in relation to the coldest part of the current interglacial - how dopey is that?

"Culture Shock in Montreal" - "MONTREAL -- As one of the very few scientists at the UN's eleventh Conference of the Parties climate meeting (COP-11), I feel like an outsider. That's because I am. The army of thousands in attendance (international delegates, NGOs, and all manner of stakeholders in the climate change issue), have little interest in knowing how certain or uncertain the science of global warming is. All these people know - or need to know - is that the "glaciers are melting," it's getting "hotter every year", and "climate change is killing people now" (all of these are direct quotes from presenters)." (Roy Spencer, TCS)

COP 11 AND COP/MOP 1 HIGHLIGHTS (Earth Negotiations Bulletin)

"UN climate talks enter key phase" - "Environment ministers from around the world are trying to break a deadlock over climate change policy, at a major UN conference in Montreal. Ministers want to agree a deal to tackle global warming that includes the US and developing nations. Some countries are refusing to limit their greenhouse gas emissions after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012." (BBC)

"Global climate change talks face stalemate" - "A global conference on curbing dangerous climate change is facing negotiation gridlock as environment ministers prepare for a three-day meeting in Montreal. Their talks, crowning a 12-day informal gathering, are under mounting pressure to come up with a commitment for making deeper cuts in emissions of "greenhouse" gases blamed for disrupting the planet's fragile climate system. But a wide rift between the United States and Europe means the conference may have a hard time even drafting a compromise on how to go forward, sources here said." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Australia to host Asia-Pacific climate meeting next month" - "Australia next month will host the maiden meeting of a six-nation Asia-Pacific "partnership" against climate change, Australian Environment Minister Ian Campbell announced. The inaugural meeting will take place in Sydney at ministerial level, Campbell said at the United Nations climate talks in Montreal. He did not give the date." (AFP)

"World Puts Heat on U.S. at Climate Meeting" - "The United States went on the defensive Wednesday as much of the world pushed for redoubled efforts to rein in carbon emissions and fight climate change. Canada, host of a 190-nation U.N. climate conference, worked to find a compromise route forward. Arctic natives, whose icy homelands have begun to melt, announced at the gathering that they were filing an international human rights complaint against the United States, to try to pressure Washington to cap "greenhouse gases." (AP)

"Societies cannot sustain energy use: Martin" - "MONTREAL — Prime Minister Paul Martin says human behaviour is responsible for climate change and the world must change its ways. “The simple fact of the matter is that our economies — indeed our societies — cannot sustain our patterns of consumption,” Martin told delegates from about 175 countries at a UN climate change summit. “The defining cause of climate change is human activity — primarily how we produce and use energy." (CP)

Don't know how, don't know when but... "Canada will meet Kyoto emissions targets, PM says" - "MONTREAL, Dec 7 - Canada will meet 2012 goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions under the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol even though the country is far above target, Prime Minister Paul Martin said at a U.N. conference on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"Canadian Leader Faults U.S. Stance on Global Warming" - "MONTREAL -- Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin took aim Wednesday at the United States for its refusal to negotiate a new global warming treaty, telling a U.N. conference that the world's most powerful economy needed to resume participating in international talks to reduce greenhouse gases." (LA Times)


"Putting the PM's science under the microscope" - "MONTREAL--The political rhetoric was stronger than the scientific facts in Prime Minister Paul Martin's remarks yesterday at the U.N. climate change conference." (Toronto Star)

"O'Keefe Responds to Senator Biden's Assertion That the United States is Sitting on the Climate Change Sidelines" - "MONTREAL, Dec. 7 -- The following is a statement by William O'Keefe, Chief Executive Officer of the George Marshall Institute: "Senator Biden's op-ed in the Financial Times quotes Mark Twain: 'Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.' Biden would do well to reflect on another Twain observation that he was not troubled by all of the things that people didn't know, only all of the things they knew that were not so. That accurately describes his article." (PRNewswire)

"Africa left out in cold in carbon credits market" - "MONTREAL — The World Bank has accused the European Union (UN) of erecting a trade barrier to keep African countries out of the billion-dollar carbon trading market. Senior World Bank official Ken Newcomb said at the climate change conference in Montreal this week that the EU’s emissions trading rules discriminated against Africa because forestry projects did not count towards carbon credits." (Business Day)

The virtual world's in trouble again: "Global warming could halt ocean circulation, with harmful results" - "Absent any climate policy, scientists have found a 70 percent chance of shutting down the thermohaline circulation in the North Atlantic Ocean over the next 200 years, with a 45 percent probability of this occurring in this century. The likelihood decreases with mitigation, but even the most rigorous immediate climate policy would still leave a 25 percent chance of a thermohaline collapse." (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

The following items collated by Benny Peiser and distributed via the ever-excellent CCNet:

"A model intercomparison of changes in the Atlantic thermohaline circulation in response to increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration" (.pdf) - "Abstract: In an experiment coordinated as part of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, integrations with a common design have been undertaken with eleven different climate models to compare the response of the Atlantic thermohaline circulation (THC) to time-dependent climate change caused by increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration. Over 140 years, during which the CO2 concentration quadruples, the circulation strength declines gradually in all models, by between 10 and 50%. This weakening is consistent with the expected effect of reduced heat loss and increased net freshwater input in the north Atlantic. No model shows a rapid or complete collapse. The models having the strongest overturning in the control climate tend to show the largest THC reductions. Despite the reduced ocean heat transport, no model shows a cooling anywhere, because the greenhouse warming is dominant. In all the models, the THC weakening is caused more by changes in surface heat flux than by changes in surface water flux." (Geophysical Research Letters)

"Ice growth in the greenhouse: a seductive paradox but unrealistic scenario" - "ABSTRACT: The recent IPCC (2001) assessment stated that

"Most models show weakening of the Northern Hemisphere Thermohaline Circulation (THC), which contributes to a reduction of surface warming in the northern North Atlantic. Even in models where the THC weakens, there is still a warming over Europe due to increased greenhouse gases."

However, there is still a widespread misunderstanding of the possible consequence of climate change on the Atlantic Ocean Meridional Overturning. In particular, it is often touted, especially in the media, that a possible consequence of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions is: "the onset of the next ice age". Here we document the history of this misconception and quantitatively show how it is impossible for an ice age to ensue as a consequence of global warming. Through analysis of the paleoclimate record as well as a number of climate model simulations, we also suggest that it is very unlikely that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning will cease to be active in the near future. We further suggest that a region where intermediate water formation may shut down is in the Labrador Sea, although this has more minor consequences for climate than if deep water formation in the Nordic Seas were to cease." (Geoscience Canada)

"Gulf Stream safe if wind blows and Earth turns" - "Sir - Your News story "Gulf Stream probed for early warnings of system failure" (Nature 427, 769 (2004)) discusses what the climate in the south of England would be like "without the Gulf Stream." Sadly, this phrase has been seen far too often, usually in newspapers concerned with the unlikely possibility of a new iceage in Britain triggered by the loss of the Gulf Stream.

European readers should be reassured that the Gulf Stream's existence is a consequence of the large-scale wind system over the North Atlantic Ocean, and of the nature of fluid motion on a rotating planet. The only way to produce an ocean circulation without a Gulf Stream is either to turn off the wind system, or to stop the Earth's rotation, or both.

Real questions exist about conceivable changes in the ocean circulation and its climate consequences. However, such discussions are not helped by hyperbole and alarmism. The occurrence of a climate state without the Gulf Stream anytime soon - within tens of millions of years - has a probability of little more than zero.

Carl Wunsch
Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology" (Nature 428, 601, April 8, 2004)

Will Freshening Of The North Atlantic Ocean Slow The Gulf Stream And Cool Europe? (CO2 Science Magazine)

See also: Seager, et al, "Is the Gulf Stream responsible for Europe's mild winters?" [.pdf] Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 128(586): 2563-2586).

The chances of actually shutting down the NH thermohaline circulation is roughly, well, nil, and the consequence for Europe should that vague possibility occur is about the same.

We wish... "How America plotted to stop Kyoto deal" - "A detailed and disturbing strategy document has revealed an extraordinary American plan to destroy Europe's support for the Kyoto treaty on climate change. The ambitious, behind-the-scenes plan was passed to The Independent this week, just as 189 countries are painfully trying to agree the second stage of Kyoto at the UN climate conference in Montreal. It was pitched to companies such as Ford Europe, Lufthansa and the German utility giant RWE." (London Independent) | Oil industry targets EU climate policy (The Guardian)

If Mr Horner has managed to put such a package together, and get it accepted, then we wish him every success.

Booming economy: "Aust's greenhouse gas output rising" - "Australia continues to increase its output of greenhouse gas emissions with the energy sector the biggest polluter. A climate report released by the Federal Government today is an assessment of Australia's actions to reduce greenhouse gases. The inventory reveals the energy sector continues to grow from 286 megatonnes of emissions in 1990 to 414 megatonnes in 2010, an increase of about 30 per cent." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

Good to see Australia doing its part nourishing the biosphere by restoring carbon previously 'lost' to the system by biological sequestration. Go Aussie!

"Wealthy Nations Owe 'Climate Debt' to Poor, Greens Say" - "Montreal - Environmental groups attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference have demanded that the U.S. and the other industrialized nations pay a "climate debt" to the poor nations for contributing to catastrophic, human-caused "global warming." (CNSNews.com)

"Uncertainties In Climate Trends: Lessons from Upper-Air Temperature Records" - "ABSTRACT: Historically, meteorological observations have been made for operational forecasting rather than long-term monitoring purposes, so that there have been numerous changes in instrumentation and procedures. Hence to create climate quality datasets requires the identification, estimation, and removal of many nonclimatic biases from the historical data. Construction of a number of new tropospheric temperature climate datasets has highlighted previously unrecognized uncertainty in multidecadal temperature trends aloft. The choice of dataset can even change the sign of upper-air trends relative to those reported at the surface. So structural uncertainty introduced unintentionally through dataset construction choices is important and needs to be understood and mitigated. A number of ways that this could be addressed for historical records are discussed, as is the question of How it needs to be reduced through future coordinated observing systems with long-term monitoring as a driver, enabling explicit calculation, and removal of nonclimatic biases. Although upper-air temperature records are used to illustrate the arguments, it is strongly believed that the findings are applicable to all long-term climate datasets and variables. A full characterization of observational uncertainty is as vitally important as recent intensive efforts to understand climate model uncertainties if the goal to rigorously reduce the uncertainty regarding both past and future climate changes is to be achieved." (Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society: Vol. 86, No. 10, pp. 1437–1442)

"Alaska's Columbia Glacier continues on disintegration course" - "Alaska's rapidly disintegrating Columbia Glacier, which has shrunk in length by 9 miles since 1980, has reached the mid-point of its projected retreat, according to a new University of Colorado at Boulder study. Tad Pfeffer, associate director of CU-Boulder's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, said the glacier is now discharging nearly 2 cubic miles of ice annually into the Prince William Sound, the equivalent of 100,000 ships packed with ice, each 500 feet long. The tidewater glacier -- which has its terminus, or end, in the waters of the Prince William Sound -- is expected to retreat an additional 9 miles in the next 15 years to 20 years before reaching an equilibrium point in shallow water near sea level, he said." (University of Colorado at Boulder)

"Climatologist Rejects 'Global Warming' as Cause for Island Evacuation" - "Montreal - A climatologist has dismissed a Reuters news report claiming that residents of the Pacific Island of Vanuatu had to move to escape "global warming." The article, published Tuesday, cited United Nations officials' claims that the effects of "global warming" caused rising sea levels and more storms, forcing islanders to flee inland. The article's publication coincided with the 11th annual U.N. Climate Change Conference in Montreal." (CNSNews.com)

Uh-oh... stupid UN claims make volcano gods angry: "Pacific volcano shoots steam, gas" - "AMBAE ISLAND, Vanuatu -- Vanuatu's erupting Mt. Manaro volcano burst into spectacular life Thursday -- shooting steam and toxic gases 3,000 meters (9,845 feet) into the skies above remote Ambae Island." (AP)

Unsubtle reminder about Vanuatu being tectonically and volcanically active...

David Cameron: our latest ecotoff makes a naive start on Kyoto (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Doubt cast over UK climate target" - "A government minister has given the gloomiest official forecast so far on the efforts to cut UK greenhouse gas emissions. Environment minister Eliott Morley told File on 4 that Britain could get only just over half way to hitting its target of cutting carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, by 20% by 2010." (BBC)

Clover gets a green lesson: "This hot air must be left in the cold" - "I was the victim of a virtual mugging on the road to the climate talks in Montreal. An unassuming e-mail crept into my mailbox, apparently from a rather naive student. The tone conjured up a hazy figure with dreadlocks, smelling of patchouli oil, bashing away on a dirty keyboard in a rat-infested squat. It inquired why, if I wrote about the environment, I never mentioned the underlying cause of environmental destruction on a finite planet: the unsustainable patterns of economic growth, fuelled by billions in advertising revenue, some of them coursing through the pages of this very newspaper. By not doing so, I was clearly part of a capitalist conspiracy to belittle the real problems facing humanity." (Charles Clover, London Telegraph)

Actually Charles, that "climate sceptics" are extreme right, or that they "deny warming" is equally mistaken - the scepticism stems from Earth's climate's apparent insensitivity to minor aberrations in an essential trace gas and the poor correlation between atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and estimated global mean temperature. E-mail me if you'd like to discuss -- Ed.

"Romney is said to plan limits on polluter funds - Bid would aid power plants" - "Governor Mitt Romney will propose as soon as this week limits on how much the state's dirtiest power plants would pay to emit a key pollutant linked to global warming, according to a government official who has seen the document detailing the plan. The approach of capping pollution payments is similar to one that Romney has proposed in a broader regional pact that would limit emissions of the same kind of greenhouse gas from power plants. Romney's request may end up excluding Massachusetts from a nine-state agreement; the other states disagree with Romney's proposal. In 2001, the state was the first in the nation to announce limits on carbon dioxide releases into the atmosphere from power plants. Those restrictions, which take effect next month, target the state's six oldest and most polluting power plants." (Boston Globe)

"U.S. States Pay the Price for Mandatory Climate Policies" - "MONTREAL, Dec. 7 -- U.S. States that are moving forward with legislation to address climate change through mandatory carbon emissions reductions and mandatory emission trading regimes will pay a high economic price for their policies, according Dr. Margo Thorning, senior vice president and chief economist with the American Council for Capital Formation." (PRNewswire)

"Red tape hampers CO2 cuts scheme" - "Business groups are warning that the prospects of cutting greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol are being jeopardised by UN bureaucracy." (BBC)

"Power line 'key for green energy'" - "Failure to build a controversial new power line could kill Scotland's renewable energy plans "stone dead", green businesses have warned. Opponents of the line said the larger pylons would ruin the landscape." (BBC)

"Clean fossil fuels 'will power world into next century'" - "Fossil fuels will still be generating most global electricity at the end of this century, but new technology will be pumping the carbon emissions underground, an energy expert forecast yesterday. Mark Jaccard told the climate change conference of 180 countries in Montreal that the cost of new clean coal power stations was likely to be roughly the same as nuclear or renewable energy, but more publicly acceptable." (London Telegraph)

"Ask Minnesota before pushing ethanol use" - "Gov. Jim Doyle and the state Assembly need to do a careful analysis before mandating Wisconsin motor fuels contain ethanol. What no doubt sounds like a smart political move, would likely result in increased cost to our drivers and, counterintuitively, actually increase fossil fuel consumption. The best place to see the likely result is to look west where Minnesota has mandated ethanol for the last nine years." (Wisconsin State Journal)

Here we go - again: "Ongoing ozone loss puzzles scientists" - "Twenty years after the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole startled the world, scientists say it may take longer to heal than previously thought." (Mercury News) | Old fridges delay closure of ozone hole (The Guardian)

And here's our response - again: It is frequently alleged that the "ozone hole" (actually a seasonal thinning of stratospheric ozone in the South Polar region and not a "hole" at all) was "discovered" in the 1980s, subsequent to significant use of anthropogenic chlorinated fluorocarbons in the 1960s through 1980s. This is simply not true.

Atmospheric ozone is measured in Dobson Units, named for the Oxford academic Gordon Miller Bourne Dobson (1889-1976), one of the pioneers of atmospheric ozone research and inventor of the Dobson Spectrophotometer, used to measure atmospheric ozone from the ground. During the International Geophysical Year of 1956 there was a significant increase in the number of these devices in use around the globe and the Halley Bay (Antarctica) anomaly was discovered. Yes, that's 1956, three decades prior to the allegedly alarming "discovery." There was a significantly different perspective then because interest was focussed on the November increase - now called a "recovery" - in stratospheric ozone levels over Antarctica with the collapse of the South Polar Vortex.

In a paper titled "Forty Years' Research on Atmospheric Ozone at Oxford: A History" (Applied Optics, March 1968), Dobson described an ozone monitoring program that began at Halley Bay in 1956.

When the data began to arrive, "the values in September and October 1956 were about 150 [Dobson] units lower than expected. ... In November the ozone values suddenly jumped up to those expected. ... It was not until a year later, when the same type of annual variation was repeated, that we realized that the early results were indeed correct and that Halley Bay showed a most interesting difference from other parts of the world." [em added]

Although South Polar temperatures do not appear to have been quite as low in 1957-58 as they have in recent years (a critical factor in ozone destruction) Rigaud and Leroy [Annales Geophysicae (November, 1990)] reported atmospheric ozone levels as low as 110DU observed at the French Antarctic Observatory at Dumont d'Urville [opposite side of the South Pole from Halley Bay] in the spring of '58. The South Polar Vortex, where ozone destruction is greatest, was reportedly centred over Dumont d'Urville that year, which suggests any observed differences may be well within the bounds of normal variability.

Is the "hole" a new phenomenon? Apparently not - it's existed as long as anyone has paid significant attention to stratospheric ozone levels in the region and quite possibly for millennia before that. "Normal" ozone levels for the region are entirely hypothetical. Seasonal variations are huge (click here to see a series of graphics from Earth Probe TOMS spanning from the beginning of the series to December 2003, which adequately demonstrate the volatility and seasonality of atmospheric ozone).

Doubtless we'll get more hand wringing over poor irradiated Punta Arenas but everywhere around the world between 45N and 45S, where the bulk of the planet's human population lives, receives more solar radiation on any normal day than does Punta Arenas on the most severely irradiated day or two every few years when a patch of ozone-reduced atmosphere passes between the tip of South America and the sun.

Is said "hole" of any particular significance to humans? Probably not - unless you intend sunbathing in South Polar regions in September. Even so, you would be risking (besides frostbite) sunburn but apparently not an increased melanoma risk. Why? Because melanoma and genetic damage is primarily associated with tissue-penetrating UVA (ultraviolet radiation in the 320-400 nanometer [nm] band) exposure and alleged ozone depletion is completely irrelevant to UVA levels experienced at surface - UVA is simply not blocked by atmospheric gases. UVB (270-320nm), which causes sunburn, is both blocked by ozone (O3) and, if allowed to penetrate the atmosphere, creates ozone lower down where it can be an irritant in photochemical smog. It is also blocked by water vapour to some extent with thick cloud acting as a complete shield and thin cloud only a partial shield. UVB powers your skin's production of vitamin D from its cholesterol precursor. UVC (<270nm), which would cause severe burns with short exposure, does not penetrate the atmosphere, blocked completely by atmospheric oxygen (O2) and ozone (O3).

What an extraordinary fuss over a phenomenon possibly older than the Holocene and which can affect virtually no one, if it does at all.

Speaking of ozone, here's Al: "Al Gore's crusade comes to Stanford" - "There were no grades, pop quizzes or textbooks. But a speech by former Vice President Al Gore at Stanford University on Tuesday night offered more than 1,000 pupils a crash course in global warming." (Mercury News)

"Doctor of the Year" - "In Philadelphia this coming Sunday, the American Public Health Association plans to hand out its "oldest and most prestigious award," the Sedgwick Memorial Medal, to one Barry S. Levy. We don't doubt the association means well, but we also can't help but point out that Dr. Levy deserves much more public health attention as one of nine physicians who are at the center of a growing scandal over silicosis and asbestos diagnoses.

Federal prosecutors and Congressional investigators are currently probing the machinations of some of these doctors, along with lawyers and X-ray screening companies, in at least one big silicosis case. And judges across the country are beginning to question the legitimacy of hundreds of thousands of other asbestos and silicosis suits in their courts. That Dr. Levy could be so feted shows how little attention the media or medical profession have paid to court findings that point out the role some doctors have played in the silicosis and asbestos scams." (The Wall Street Journal)

"Lords due to rule on DVT claims" - "A ruling on whether victims of deep vein thrombosis and their families can claim compensation from airlines is due to be made by the House of Lords. Lawyers for eight people affected by DVT have been fighting for four years for the right to sue several airlines. They claim the potentially fatal blood clots are caused by conditions on flights such as cramped seats. But airlines say they should not be held liable because this would not meet the legal definition of an accident. The legal case centres on the meaning of the word accident in the eyes of the law." (BBC)

"The Secret Truth" - "Parents used to accept routine vaccinations for their children without a second thought. But as more parents weigh the benefits of vaccination against the possible risks, some are hesitating, even resisting, those shots, as doctors struggle to persuade them of their safety. At stake is the health of a nation." (Boston Globe)

"Checking the Obesity Math" - "Sometimes when you arrive late to a party, you don't have a clue what's happening. That was the case for Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro who recently turned up 15 minutes late for a National Press Club Newsmaker session, "Food Fight: Childhood Obesity, Crisis or Hype?" (Duane D. Freese, TCS)

"Learning to Love Sprawl" - "Everybody knows some things about sprawl: It's a recent, and largely American phenomenon; it encourages wasteful use of resources; it's aesthetically unpleasant; and it benefits the rich at the expense of the poor. We also know that it could be conquered if Americans just gave up their "love affair with the automobile" and favored mass transit. Everybody knows these things, but Robert Bruegmann's new book, Sprawl: A Compact History, argues that they're untrue." (Glenn Harlan Reynolds, TCS)

"Scientists fetch useful information from dog genome publications" - "Today a plethora of dog genome-related materials are published, including a new book entitled The Dog and Its Genome and a series of primary research articles in the journal Genome Research. These publications, concomitant with the publication by Nature of a high-quality draft sequence of the dog genome, are expected to provide both researchers and the public with informative resources about canine genomics and biology." (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory)

"Mali's David v Goliath GM struggle" - "The debate on genetically modified (GM) crops has erupted again in Africa, three years after Zambia refused genetically modified food aid. Mali - sub-Saharan Africa's largest cotton producer - has begun a controversial five-year project to introduce GM crops such as BT cotton to the country." (BBC)

"Benn defends aid for GM crops" - "Britain is to direct more foreign aid to develop genetically modified crops in Africa to speed up economic growth on the continent and use modern science and new technologies to tackle hunger. A paper from the Department for International Development, launched yesterday by international development secretary Hilary Benn, includes commitments to promote patented GM seeds and scientific research by GM firms." (The Guardian)

"'Lost Opportunities In Crop Plant Science In Europe' - ESRC" - "‘GM’, has led to a neglect of broader genomics-based approaches for improving crop plants, notably ‘marker-assisted breeding." (Food Ingredients First)

December 7, 2005

Today's smile, brought to you by Cox & Forkum

"Home of Le Whopper" - "MONTREAL -- In "Animal House", Dean Wormer pleaded, "Who delivered the medical school cadavers to the alumni dinner? Every Halloween the trees are filled with underwear. Every Spring the toilets explode." The alpha Omega, Greg Marmalard, replied, "You're talking about Delta, sir."

If the UN were Faber College, those fun-loving Deltas would be the European Environment Agency (EEA). Every December the EEA litters the trees of the Kyoto Protocol talks, such as those going on this week in Montreal, with increasingly absurd reports of its superior performance on the cadaver that is the "global warming" treaty. This year's stunt, however, takes the cake." (Christopher Horner, TCS)

"Kyoto Dispatches" - "Notes from the UN Climate Summit in Montreal." (CEI)

"Senator Bingaman's Bogus Climate Proposal" - "U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) is scheduled to deliver a speech at the UN global warming meeting in Montréal this afternoon on his plan for mandatory carbon dioxide emissions controls in the United States. If similar to proposals Sen. Bingaman intended to offer earlier this year in the Senate, the plan would represent significant economic sacrifice without measurably reducing global greenhouse gas emissions." (CEI)

COP 11 AND COP/MOP 1 HIGHLIGHTS (Earth Negotiations Bulletin)

Who gives a Krupp? "Environmental Defense to Washington: Less Hot Air, More Action on Global Warming!" - "WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 -- In a year of savage hurricanes, accelerating polar ice melt, and other ominous signs of global warming, leading conservation group Environmental Defense today called on the public to unleash a storm -- of democracy." (PRNewswire)

JunkScience.com calls on Environmental Defense to get a life!

  • We all know that Kyoto can make precisely zero measurable difference to planetary mean temperature
  • We all know that politicians will not get themselves kicked out of office by deliberately bankrupting their countries' economies for no possible benefit for man nor planet
  • We all know that regardless of whether change is genuinely a problem, Kyoto and similar fantasies will not address it
  • We all know that Kyoto is not a solution to anything but is absorbing an extraordinary amount of finance and effort to no purpose
  • We all know that this makes Kyoto harmful rather than beneficial
  • We all know that this makes Kyoto a problem that must be addressed as a matter of some urgency
  • We all know that addressing the problem of Kyoto is simple - just acknowledge that it's a total crock and walk away
  • We all know that Environmental Defense is trying to use useless and human-harmful Kyoto as justification for their own existence and as a fund-raiser by extension
  • We all know that, by corollary, this exposes Environmental Defense as useless and human-harmful

"An Unethical Environment?" - "MONTREAL -- I've been thinking a lot lately about people who - -despite living in industrialized countries -- find affluence and the associated consumption of natural resources troubling. By their lights, wealthy countries like the US are the world's principle consumers -- unfairly rich, winners of life's lottery, polluters of the environment and so on. They claim that rich countries wish to "impose" their way of life on the rest of the world." (Roy Spencer, TCS)

"Beckett urges binding targets to fight climate change" - "The environment secretary, Margaret Beckett, arrived at climate talks in Montreal yesterday insisting that compulsory binding targets were the only meaningful way to tackle climate change. Mrs Beckett criticised the US administration's reliance on voluntary action and technology to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and said a worldwide agreement for when the first phase of the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012 was urgently needed." (The Guardian)

"More Than One Best Way" - "MONTREAL -- A new consensus is emerging at the United Nations' Climate Change Conference in Montreal. Some participants are beginning to recognize that the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate Change (AP6) is at least part of the way forward in a global effort to deal with any potential harms from man-made global warming." (Ronald Bailey, TCS)

"Men Warm Globe, Women Feel the Heat, Group Claims" - "Montreal - The debate over climate change evolved into a battle of the sexes Monday at the 11th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal. The spokesman for a feminist-based environmental group accused men of being the biggest contributors to human-caused "global warming" and lamented that women are bearing the brunt of the negative climate consequences created by men." (CNSNews.com)

"The link between hurricanes and global warming" - "This year's hurricane season shattered records for frequency and ferocity. And it's going to get worse, some scientists say. But others aren't so sure. Steve Connor reports." (London Independent)

"World weather disaster losses hit record in 2005" - "MONTREAL, Dec 6 - With devastating Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma in the United States and never-before-seen hurricanes approaching Europe, the world in 2005 will show the highest-ever financial losses for weather-related natural disasters." (Reuters)

Yeah? What's the decadal mean as a percentage of global net worth? Is there a trend?

"CLIMATE CHANGE: Andean Community Pushes for Urgent Action" - "LIMA - Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela are at once vulnerable to climate change and increasingly reliant on their oil and natural gas exports, while their environmental management policies depend on foreign aid and funding from the industrial powers." (IPS)

You'd think they'd be too embarrassed to admit it: "Taking global action against global warming" - "Montreal, Canada — From meeting rooms in Montreal to coal-fired power plants in Germany and Thailand to ports hosting shiploads of illegal nuclear waste, Greenpeace has been in action against global warming around the world in the last two weeks." ('peas promo)

"Martin set to make launch high-level phase of climate conference" - "MONTREAL - Prime Minister Paul Martin will kick off the high-level portion of the Montreal climate conference Wednesday, welcoming environment ministers from around the world for negotiations that will effectively determine whether the Kyoto Protocol lives or dies." (CP)

"Environmental talk" - "Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat and the international diplomats are set to celebrate the season with an eagerly anticipated round of America-bashing in Montreal. This event, known as the "conference of parties" ("COP") to the 1990 U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, is a periodic affair where global climate change is discussed in general, and the United States excoriated in particular for its refusal to adopt the Kyoto Protocol. As both the Clinton and Bush administrations recognized, this flawed treaty would have crippled American economic expansion while doing little to address the global warming problem -- assuming this is, indeed, happening." (Washington Times)

"Kyoto Protocol Declared 'Dead' at UN Climate Conference" - "Montreal - The Kyoto Protocol on climate change was declared "dead" by several organizations attending the 11th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference this week in Montreal." (CNSNews.com)

Not merely irrelevant but false: "U.S. rejects bid for post-Kyoto talks" - "MONTREAL--The climate change conference hit a major roadblock yesterday when the United States rejected even a watered-down proposal for future talks on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

The impasse came on the same day as news that a small community in the Pacific island chain of Vanuatu has been moved to avoid rising seawater attributed to the warming of the atmosphere by those gases." (Toronto Star)

Dopey bugger! Look first - Tegua Island (Torba Province, Vanuatu) is sinking due to tectonic activity and volcanism. A quick glance at the South Pacific Sea Level Trend Chart reveals Vanuatu's local sea level trends to be positive during La Niña years but not otherwise.

It ain't the sea wot's risin' but the ground wot's sinkin'...

"U.S. snubs Canada call for 2-year talks on climate" - "MONTREAL - The United States snubbed a call by host Canada on Tuesday for 189-nation climate talks in Montreal to launch a two-year search for new ways to fight global warming. "The United States is opposed to any such discussions," the U.S. delegation at the November 28-December 9 talks said in a statement, reiterating remarks by chief negotiator Harlan Watson earlier in the week." (Reuters)

"Australia uses climate change talks to meet new allies" - "More than 140 ministerial leaders have arrived in Canada for the United Nation's climate change conference to reduce greenhouse emissions. Australia has refused to sign the deal but will use the Montreal gathering to meet members of a new regional climate alliance." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Incentives could lure China to carbon dioxide market" - "MONTREAL, Dec 6 - Rapidly growing economies like China could be encouraged to join a U.N. plan to curb emissions of heat-trapping gases if they were offered creative "no lose" incentives, experts said on Tuesday." (Reuters)

"Americans take local road to Kyoto" - "MONTREAL - While U.S. President George W. Bush refuses to accept the Kyoto Protocol to cut greenhouse gas emissions, at least 40 million Americans will find themselves bound to the international treaty to curb global warming. Since the protocol took effect last February, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels has convinced 192 cities to agree to cut emissions 7 percent from 1990 levels by 2012 -- the recommended target for the United States, which emits 25 percent of the world's heat-trapping gases. The cities join an increasing number of states, including California and New York, and leading corporations choosing to follow the Kyoto lead even while their country doesn't." (Reuters)

By definition states and cities cannot be 'bound' by international treaties (that 'national' thing is a bit of a tip off). By the third sentence Reuters scribe Mary Milliken eventually says as much with "choosing to follow" - a different matter entirely.

That virtual realm... "Modeling of long-term fossil fuel consumption shows 14.5 degree hike in temperature" - "If humans continue to use fossil fuels in a business as usual manner for the next several centuries, the polar ice caps will be depleted, ocean sea levels will rise by seven meters and median air temperatures will soar 14.5 degrees warmer than current day. These are the stunning results of climate and carbon cycle model simulations conducted by scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. By using a coupled climate and carbon cycle model to look at global climate and carbon cycle changes, the scientists found that the earth would warm by 8 degrees Celsius (14.5 degrees Fahrenheit) if humans use the entire planet's available fossil fuels by the year 2300." (DOE/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

"Denmark: Sunny skies here to stay?" - "With record-breaking amounts of sunshine this autumn, climate changes seem to be going in the right direction for Denmark. Not so fast, say meteorologists." (Denmark News)

"Drought may have shaped history" - "Scientists have identified a major climate crisis that struck Africa about 70,000 years ago and which may have changed the course of human history. The evidence comes from sediments drilled up from the beds of Lake Malawi and Tanganyika in East Africa, and from Lake Bosumtwi in Ghana. It shows equatorial Africa experienced a prolonged period of drought." (BBC)

Forests cause global warming: "Growing more forests in United States could contribute to global warming" - "New climate modeling research from LLNL and the Carnegie Institution shows that northern temperate forests (top) may contribute to global warming, while tropical forests (bottom) can help keep global temperatures cool. Planting trees across the United States and Europe to absorb some of the carbon dioxide emitted by the burning of fossil fuels may just outweigh the positive effects of sequestering that CO². In theory, growing a forest may sound like a good idea to fight global warming, but in temperate regions, such as the United States, those trees also would soak up sunlight, causing the earth's surface to warm regionally by up to 8 degrees Fahrenheit. Forests affect climate in three different ways: they absorb the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, and help to keep the planet cool; they evaporate water to the atmosphere, which also helps keep the planet cool; and they are dark and absorb a lot of sunlight, warming the Earth." (DOE/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

"Antarctica's ice bottom exposed" - "British and US scientists have produced a remarkable map of the underside of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS)." (BBC)

"Slow extraction for icy 'tooth'" - "Antarctic scientists are monitoring the slow birth of a giant iceberg. The 30km by 30km block of ice known as the "Loose Tooth" is in the process of cracking away from the eastern edge of the White Continent. The project, led by the US Scripps Institution of Oceanography, aims to understand the mechanisms that drive the calving of great ice masses. This information will aid researchers as they try to work out how Antarctica will respond to a warmer world." (BBC)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

CO 2 , Methane and Temperature: More Insights from the Dome Concordia and Vostok Ice Cores: What the ice core data suggest flies in the face of outlandish model-inspired climate-alarmist contentions.

Subject Index Summaries:
Little Ice Age (Europe: Northern): We present a collection of synopses of Little Ice Age studies conducted in one of the few regions where climate alarmists are willing to acknowledge it may have occurred.

Insects (Bt x CO 2 ): How does atmospheric CO 2 enrichment affect the ability of genetically-transformed crops to produce Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins to various insect pests?

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: A Semi-Natural Grassland, Silver Fir, Sour Orange, and Wheat.

Journal Reviews:
An Indian Summer Monsoon Solar Link: The authors of a new study examining the influence of the sun on the Indian summer monsoon are now "convinced" of a direct link.

Ice Stream Catchments Feeding the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf, Antarctica: Are they thickening or thinning?

Six Centuries of Eastern Mediterranean Precipitation: Do the data reveal anything unusual or unprecedented about 20th-century precipitation?

Day-Only or 24-Hour Atmospheric CO 2 Enrichment: Does It Make a Difference?: Yes it does.  It makes a lot of difference.

Atmospheric CO 2 Enrichment and Ectomycorrhizal Infection of Red Pine Trees: Each phenomenon helps the other. (co2science.org)

"Report: Feds plan high-tech coal plant: Eight utilities, coal companies join Energy Department in $1B project; location due by 2007." - "NEW YORK - The Department of Energy is set to announce a nearly $1 billion coal-fired power plant that would remove many of the pollutants associated with coal and turn some of them into useable industrial products, according to a published report." (CNNMoney.com) | Pact Signed for Prototype of Coal Plant (New York Times)

"Wind farms blown off course by punitive costs" - "As long-predicted on 'EnviroSpin', a chill wind is beginning to blow through Utopia:" (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Bright idea" - "Could a tax on lightbulbs avoid the need for new power stations? One minister and many campaigners think so." (The Guardian)

"German Government Confirms to Raise Biodiesel Tax" - "HAMBURG - Germany's new government is planning to raise taxes on biodiesel fuel, a spokesman for the federal Finance Ministry said on Tuesday. But the spokesman declined to comment on the extent of the rise or on press reports that taxes could be imposed by 2007 at an equivalent rate to those levied on conventional diesel." (Reuters)

Quack up: "Medical professionals join anti-nuclear push" - "PROMINENT medical professionals have bought into the growing Australian nuclear debate, strongly opposing the development of a local industry and the expansion of local uranium production. Eighteen leading academic and hospital doctors will today issue a statement declaring they are increasingly alarmed at proposals for expansion of the nuclear industry in Australia. "Calls for Australians to consider nuclear power for domestic use are unnecessary and counterproductive," they say." (The Age)

When it comes to nuclear medicine these guys might be worth talking to. For national energy needs, however...

"NASA's AURA satellite peers into Earth's ozone hole" - "NASA researchers, using data from the agency's AURA satellite, determined the seasonal ozone hole that developed over Antarctica this year is smaller than in previous years." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office)

"Scientists See Delayed Recovery of Ozone Hole" - "SAN FRANCISCO - The recovery of the Antarctic ozone hole may be delayed until 2065 because reservoirs of ozone-destroying chemicals may be larger than anticipated, according to research presented on Tuesday." (Reuters)

"Prehistoric parasite continues killing spree" - "There are more than 300 million cases of it every year - a million that result in death. It's one of the biggest health concerns for Americans traveling overseas to Third World countries. No, it's not mad cow, SARS, bird flu or West Nile virus. It's malaria." (The Daily Aztec)

"Tackling Malaria the DDT Way" - "Dr. Matthias Offoboche, a former Deputy Governor of the old Cross Rivers State calls for Nigeria to start IRS with DDT in order to tackle malaria." (AFM)

Oh boy... "Campaigning For Safe Cosmetics, Tougher FDA" - "Everyday, we smear and spritz ourselves without a second thought. Eyes get rimmed in kohl liner, lips slicked in gloss. A dab of cologne on the neck, a dollop of body lotion on elbows and hands. We do this without so much as a glance at the ingredients listed on the backs of bottles and tubes. Even if we did, who could make sense of the jumble of unpronounceable letters branded in tiny print? But one advocacy group has made that its mission, taking a hard look at the chemicals companies infuse in their cosmetic products and campaigning for tighter restrictions on ingredients they contend pose significant health concerns." (The Hartford Courant)

Simple answer: "Generation Toxic" - "In a recent study a girl of 11 was found to have 35 deadly chemicals in her body and, says CATHERINE MURPHY, all children are [a] risk." (Irish Independent)

If you're worried about children being toxic, don't eat them! Duh!

"Vaccine additive banned in Iowa" - "Just as Iowa records the season’s first official case of influenza, pediatricians are reminding parents that children younger than 2 years face nearly the same risks associated with the illness as adults older than 65. But while some parents are leery of the pediatric flu vaccination — which can contain preservatives such as thimerosal, a mercury-based compound added to some vaccines — Iowans can rest easy. Earlier this year, the state became the first in the nation to ban the use of preservatives in childhood vaccines." (Quad-City Times)

Greenpeas want your house to burn down: "Greenpeace: HP stands for 'harmful products'" - "PALO ALTO, Calif.--Stepping up attempts to pressure electronics makers to stop using fire prevention compounds suspected of being hazardous, Greenpeace on Tuesday staged a protest outside the Hewlett-Packard headquarters here." (CNET News.com)

"Lines Drawn for Big Suit Over Sodas" - "It is lunchtime at Grover Cleveland High School in Portland, Ore. A steady stream of thirsty teenagers poke dollars into the three Coca-Cola machines in the hallway. By the end of lunch period, the Coke With Lime, Cherry Coke and Vanilla Coke are sold out. Elsa Peterson, a senior at Grover Cleveland and the student body president, said she knew she could bring healthier juices from home. "But it's easy to walk up with a dollar and just get a pop." That, says Stephen Gardner, staff lawyer for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, is exactly the problem. In an age of soaring obesity rates among children, he argues that soda and other sugary beverages are harmful to students' health and that selling those drinks in schools sends a message that their regular consumption is perfectly fine. In a lawsuit they plan to file in the next few months, Mr. Gardner and half a dozen other lawyers, several of them veterans of successful tobacco litigation, will seek to ban sales of sugary beverages in schools." (New York Times)

"Report Links TV Ads and Childhood Obesity" - "A federal advisory institution said today that there was compelling evidence linking television advertising and the rise of childhood obesity in the United States. The comprehensive report, by the National Academies' Institute of Medicine, recommends a long-term campaign to educate the public about making healthy choices, using public and private funds. The private money would come from industries that the report says are responsible for the rising numbers of overweight and obese children. The report also says that if the food industry does not voluntarily shift the emphasis to healthy foods in its television advertising for children, and away from high-calorie, low-nutrient products, then Congress should compel it." (New York Times)

"UF scientists find sugar may have a sour side" - "Suddenly sugar isn't looking so sweet. University of Florida researchers have identified one possible reason for rising obesity rates, and it all starts with fructose, found in fruit, honey, table sugar and other sweeteners, and in many processed foods. Fructose may trick you into thinking you are hungrier than you should be, say the scientists, whose studies in animals have revealed its role in a biochemical chain reaction that triggers weight gain and other features of metabolic syndrome - the main precursor to type 2 diabetes. In related research, they also prevented rats from packing on the pounds by interrupting the way their bodies processed this simple sugar, even when the animals continued to consume it." (University of Florida)

"Kids not eating veggies at restaurants, either" - "The tally of menu items doesn't surprise Diane Quagliani, a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant in Western Springs. "These are kid-friendly foods and foods that kids really like and restaurants don't serve foods that their customers won't order, and that's the bottom line," she said. "And actually, these are a lot of the same foods kids are eating at home, too." (Chicago Sun-Times)

"Cancer team make 'super-broccoli'" - "Scientists are developing a "super-broccoli" which they hope will help people ward off cancer. Broccoli has anti-cancer properties but an Institute of Food Research study has found some people's genetic make-up may minimise the protection they get." (BBC)

"Computer simulation shows buckyballs deform DNA" - "Soccer-ball-shaped "buckyballs" are the most famous players on the nanoscale field, presenting tantalizing prospects of revolutionizing medicine and the computer industry. Since their discovery in 1985, engineers and scientists have been exploring the properties of these molecules for a wide range of applications and innovations. But could these microscopic spheres represent a potential environmental hazard?" (Vanderbilt University)

"GM technology tried in fight against pollution" - "While scientists have toiled for several years to find and use natural plants as remedies to reduce pollution, one research team has made use of genetically modified (GM) technology." (People's Daily)

"Study says farmers benefiting from higher yields, lower costs" - "As the number of commercially available, genetically modified crops grows, so do the benefits reaped by American farmers, according to a study released Tuesday by the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy." (Post-Dispatch)

"Illinois farmers want to be able to keep some patented seeds" - "The Illinois Farm Bureau is urging a fresh look at federal laws that bar farmers from keeping patented plants' seeds from one year to the next. The immediate target appears to be Monsanto Co.'s patented Roundup Ready soybeans, which comprise more than 80 percent of U.S. soybean production." (Post-Dispatch)

"New Web Site Features Viewpoints on GM Crops" - "December 6, 2005 -- A new multimedia website, Conversations about Plant Biotechnology at http://www.monsanto.com/biotech-gmo, offers visitors a glimpse of the discussions taking place among farmers on the impact of genetically modified crops. These crops have been grown for a decade on more than one billion acres worldwide." (PRWEB)

"How Can We Regulate Artificial Foods?" - "Issues of biosafety and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) have been discussed at various fora since the negotiations of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. Since the challenge of the GM crops has virtually no boundaries, environmental activists from Nigeria and some West African countries recently converged on Abuja to provide a forum to propose input into the proposed Nigerian Biosafety Bill. The consensus of experts at the talkshop was that there should be a moratorium on GMOs in the country even as they called for more public participation on the draft bill." (This Day (Lagos))

"Students Question Genetically Modified Food" - "The debate over genetically modified food is not a new one. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines genetic modifications on their web site as "the alteration of the genotype of a plant using any technique, new or traditional." Plant modifications may be "minor, such as a single mutation that affects one gene, or major alterations of genetic material that affects many genes. Most, if not all cultivated food crops have been genetically modified." Modern genetic engineering arguably started in 1953, when James Watson and Francis Crick published their discovery of DNA's three-dimensional double helix structure. However, farmers have bred crops for years before that discovery. How much food in the United States that is genetically engineered may be surprising to some." (The Daily Campus)

"Pakistan Govt to allow BT cotton farming next year according to Shaukat" - "MULTAN - Minister Shaukat Aziz has said government would allow farmers to grow BT cotton next year. Talking to a delegation of farmers on Monday, Shaukat Aziz assured them that the government would ensure the protection of farmers’ interests. This move by Minister Shaukat Aziz confirms Pakistan's policy of being open to genetically modified crops, where there is an added value for its farmers. Pakistan is also looking to develop its own GM crops. At the University of the Punjab, field trials of Bt basmati rice were successfully carried out this year. The enhanced basmati rice was showed full resistance to yellow stem borer and rice leaf folder. In addition, studies are also being carried out with cotton and mangoes." (CheckBiotech)

"Harnessing Biotechnology For The Caribbean – Part II" - "At the 4th Advisory Committee Meeting of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Development which was recently held November 7 – 12, 2005 at the CTA’s Headquarters in Wageningen, The Netherlands, the Board Approved and Adopted the Policy Paper #2 on "ACP Region must Harness Biotechnology for a Better Future". The Bahamas was represented on the Board by BAIC’s Assistant General Manager responsibly for the Agricultural Division Mr. Arnold Dorsett." (The Bahama Journal)

December 6, 2005

JunkScience.com Action Alert!!!! Help Stop the Rachel Carson Bridge! The Allegheny County Council (Pennsylvania) will meet tomorrow to rename its Ninth Street Bridge in honor of Silent Spring author Rachel Carson whose junk science-fueled crusade against DDT has helped condemn tens of millions of the world's poor to death and sickness from malaria.

Contact Allegheny County Council members ASAP and tell them bridges shouldn't be named for those who help perpetrate genocide.

For more on Rachel Carson and DDT, check out 100 Things You Should Know About DDT.

Join in the fun Today! Tough Love for Corporate America: Join the Discussion!

RAN Global Finance Director Ilyse Hogue is being invited by the Wall Street Journal to take part in a roundtable discussion this Tuesday entitled, "Corporate Social Responsibility: Good Citizenship or Shareholder Ripoff?" And we want you to be a part of the conversation. What role do/should corporations play in a democratic society? What can we do to better educate people about this role? Toss your hat in the ring! http://www.ran.org/blog

Also in the roundtable will be:
Ben Heinemann, Senior Vice President of Law and Public Affairs General Electric Co. GE recently launched Ecomagination and promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 1% by 2012.

Fred Smith, Founder and President of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. CEI is an anti-environment think-tank largely funded by Exxon-Mobil. They are one of the leading skeptics of global warming and have been outspoken critics of RAN.

The Wall Street Journal will post responses from all three participants on WSJ.com [today], as well as an online forum where you can post comments. But, the WSJ website requires membership to get in [nope - it's a free feature] so, we figured we'd hold an additional conversation on our blog and keep it open to everyone (no membership required!). This is your opportunity to speak out with Ilyse so we hope you will join the conversation. The "Understory," the new blog on RAN.org, is your place to discuss the role of business and corporations in public society. http://www.ran.org/blog

So, you have some ideas? Share 'em! We want your input on this idea of where businesses and corporations belong in our society. http://www.ran.org/blog

See you on the blog!

Japhet Els
Online Organizer RAN

Know someone who could weigh in on the conversation? Have a family member who should join the discussion? Pass it along!

Yeah, hurray... "Consensus close on new round of negotiations to extend Kyoto agreement" - "OTTAWA - Negotiators were working feverishly Monday on a draft text which would open negotiations on another round of cuts in greenhouse emissions, beyond those required in the existing Kyoto Protocol. If the draft resolution is approved by officials, it would deliver a major boost to ministers who are coming from around the world for the high-level portion of the conference, which begins Wednesday and will include an address by Prime Minister Paul Martin." (CP)

"World ministers join post-Kyoto climate change conference" - "MONTREAL - Ministers from around the world were to join a UN summit on climate change Tuesday, with the United States, which has rejected the Kyoto protocol, playing a key role in the negotiations." (AFP)

"Don't go 'wet' on Kyoto promises" - "Forget about asking nations to deal voluntarily with the climate-change crisis. Compulsory rules are the only way, says British environment minister" (Margaret Beckett, Globe and Mail)

COP 11 AND COP/MOP 1 HIGHLIGHTS (Earth Negotiations Bulletin)

"Kyoto out of kilter" - "One flaw in the Kyoto treaty is that its legal targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions, set in 1997, were mainly guesswork. Now many nations that signed onto it will likely not meet their targets for 2008-2012. Hopes of a new pact may go up in smoke.

What's needed at talks for a post-Kyoto treaty that began last week in Montreal is a new realism. Kyoto's successor must match the level of popular urgency about climate change to both the people's willingness for economic sacrifice and to reliable estimates of the costs of technological fixes. It was that mismatch in the Kyoto treaty that has hurt its promise - not the bipartisan rejection by the Clinton-era US Senate and later President Bush, or the lack of India and China as part of the treaty." (The Christian Science Monitor)

Actually, we concur with The Monitor - "Kyoto's successor must match the level of popular urgency about climate change to both the people's willingness for economic sacrifice and to reliable estimates of the costs of technological fixes." This parses to "Most people don't give a damn and sure aren't willing to return to the caves to suit some whackos' concept of "stable climate," nor are they prepared to spend any of their own money for such a stupid enterprise." So we should recall the delegates and do something worthwhile, eh?

"Kyoto Questioned as U.S. Moves on Coal" - "MONTREAL -- Diplomats trying to salvage international efforts to curb global warming say they will have to dangle more financial carrots and play down the sticks to win support from nations that have so far spurned agreements to cut greenhouse-gas emissions.

A system that offers financial rewards is likely to prove particularly crucial in curbing emissions growth in developing nations such as China and India, which are unlikely to accept binding emission-reduction targets. Spurring a push in those countries for cleaner energy sources ranging from state-of-the-art coal-fired power plants to higher-mileage cars will be crucial for the world to put a meaningful dent in global warming, say experts and diplomats meeting here this week to discuss climate change." (The Wall Street Journal)

"This Market Is Sending a Signal" - "MONTREAL -- "Environmental effectiveness and minimum cost are two core building blocks for any long term modern climate policy," declared Olivia Hartridge, a representative from the Environmental Directorate of the European Commission. She was speaking on a panel on the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) at the United Nations' Climate Change conference in Montreal. The problem is that it is not at all clear the EU ETS fulfills either goal." (Ronald Bailey, TCS)

"Elevated atmospheric CO2 increases soil carbon" - "An article in the current issue of Global Change Biology indicates that soils in temperate ecosystems might contribute more to partially offsetting the effects of rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations than earlier studies have suggested." (Blackwell Publishing Ltd)

"Warming could free far more carbon from high Arctic soil than earlier thought" - "Scientists studying the effects of carbon on climate warming are very likely underestimating, by a vast amount, how much soil carbon is available in the high Arctic to be released into the atmosphere, new University of Washington research shows. A three-year study of soils in northwest Greenland found that a key previous study greatly underestimated the organic carbon stored in the soil. That's because the earlier work generally looked only at the top 10 inches of soil, said Jennifer Horwath, a UW doctoral student in Earth and space sciences." (University of Washington)

Twaddle: "Global warming 'claims first village'" - "RISING seas have forced 100 people on a Pacific island to move to higher ground in what may be the first example of a village formally displaced because of modern global warming, a UN report has said. With coconut palms on the coast already standing in water, inhabitants in the Lateu settlement on Tegua Island in Vanuatu started dismantling their wooden homes in August and moved about 548.64m inland." (AAP)

Tegua is sinking right enough - due to tectonic activity and volcanism. Last we heard that was not one of the hypothesised effects of enhanced greenhouse.

"What planet are the eco-cultists on?" - "Is it just me or are the global warming headlines starting to overheat a little? The Independent on Sunday gave its report on the Montreal climate conference the somewhat overwrought title: "What planet are you on, Mr Bush? (And do you care, Mr Blair?)" Nothing in the rather dull article underneath justified the hectoring hysteria." (Mark Steyn, London Telegraph)

"Bush wanted to join UN climate talks" - "Nearly one-fourth of United States senators on Monday wrote to President George Bush seeking his participation in discussions on global warming, as a United Nations conference meets in Montreal. Democrat Jeff Bingaman, Republican Olympia Snowe and 22 colleagues said that the United States has a legal obligation, under a UN treaty, to participate in the negotiations in a constructive way. "In our view, a deliberate decision by the administration not to engage in such discussions, solely because they may include the topic of future binding emissions reductions requirements, is inconsistent with the obligations of the United States as set forth in the UNFCCC treaty." (Pravda.ru)

No problem there - way overdue to submit articles and withdraw from UNFCCC - UN Framework Convention on Climate Change indeed!

Calamity Pete, at it again: "Climate at record extremes" - "MONTREAL--This is shaping up as the year the battered earth hit back, wreaking havoc with record weather extremes that almost certainly spring from global climate change." (Toronto Star)

Every stupid claim this side of the black stump... "Europe's Health Woes May Worsen With Global Warming" - "MONTREAL - Rising rates of deadly heat strokes, salmonella infection and hay fever across Europe are linked to global warming and should push governments to act faster on preventing climate change, the World Health Organization said on Monday." (Reuters)

The answer to heat strokes and salmonella is affordable energy, air conditioning and refrigeration - all the things Kyoto and similar BS ideas would attempt to price out of general usage reach (at least for less than affluent populations). Climate change is not the major risk here, meddling dipsticks are!

"Arctic feels the heat from climate change" - "MONTREAL, Dec 5 - The chief scientist aboard the Canadian icebreaker CCGS Amundsen knows all about climate change. Every year, the ocean-going laboratory carries out extensive surveys of the ocean in the Canadian Arctic and signs of rapid warming are growing ever more alarming for indigenous people in the region and a greater threat for polar bears and seals." (Reuters)


But wait! There's more: "Brutal winter ahead, climatologist predicts" - "Mild weather in recent weeks will soon be forgotten because winter is on its way with a vengeance, according to new Environment Canada forecasts for the months ahead. All areas of Canada had a warmer than normal November, with temperatures two to four degrees milder than normal, particularly from Edmonton through to St. John's, Nfld. But rather than remembering the nice transition from fall to winter, Canadians will look back at the end of the month and recall a brutal December, said David Phillips, a senior climatologist with Environment Canada." (Canadian Press)

"Scientist measures role of science's coolest player: The snow" - "SAN FRANCISCO - What would the Earth be like if one fine day all the snow melted away? Obviously, it would be a much warmer place. But what's interesting is how much warmer, says Stephen Vavrus, an associate scientist at the Center for Climatic Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Working with computer-generated simulations, Vavrus found that in the absence of snow cover, global temperatures would likely spike by about eight-tenths of a degree Celsius. That increase represents as much as a third of the warming that climate change experts have predicted, should levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases double." (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

"NASA satellites yield best-ever Antarctic maps" - "Scientists using satellite data have now created the most detailed maps ever produced of the vast snow-covered Antarctic continent. The maps reveal unprecedented views of surface features that provide clues to how and why the continent's massive ice sheets and glaciers are changing." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office)

"Media Fish Fry" - "The week before Thanksgiving, the World Wildlife Fund, an environmental NGO got what it wanted in the lead up to the United Nations' latest meeting to discuss climate change, taking place in Montreal -- scary stories about dire effects from global warming." (Gary D. Sharp, TCS)

Another Greenpeas fire alarm: "Climate Change Affecting Tourism And Agriculture In The Regions" - "BANGKOK, Dec 6 -- Greenpeace International Tuesday said climate change had already affected the multi-billion dollar tourism and agriculture industries in the region and if left unchecked, could have devastating impact on the sectors and millions of job. Greenpeace International Climate Campaigner, Jean Francois Fauconnier said that not many governments realised the effects of climate change on these sectors although there were already signs of seaside tourism suffering from these effects." (Bernama)

"Climate models need deeper roots, scientists say" - "By soaking up moisture with their roots and later releasing it from their leaves, plants play an active role in regulating the climate. In fact, in vegetated ecosystems, plants are the primary channels that connect the soil to the atmosphere, with plant roots controlling the below-ground dynamics. "Most climate models assume that roots are shallow -- usually within 6 feet of the surface -- and that only the soil moisture near the surface can significantly impact the climate," said Praveen Kumar, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Our research shows that it is not just the near surface, but also the deep reservoir of soil moisture that affect terrestrial heat and moisture processes in land-atmosphere interaction." A better understanding of this interaction, Kumar said, could lead to more accurate climate models and better predictability." (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

"What is a cloud? Scientists still searching for a clear-sky definition" - "SAN FRANCISCO -All through the ages, humans have dreamily gazed at those shape-shifting cotton-balls floating gently across the sky-the clouds. Atmospheric scientists-Earth's professional cloud-gazers--have learned a great deal about clouds over the decades, particularly with the advent of satellites during the 1960s and 70s. But despite years of research and the emergence of increasingly sophisticated tools, scientists are still at odds over one of the most basic issues of all: how to define a cloud." (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Should ask the IT guys: "A cloud is an ephemeral entity that renders climate models virtually useless." That clear it up any for you?

Roger A. Pielke Sr. Public Comment on CCSP Report “Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences” (Climate Science)

'Global Warming': An Official Pseudoscience - is an examination of the science behind the ideology of 'global warming', as well as the social and political forces driving its promotion. (aetherometry.com)

"NASA & NSF create unprecedented view of upper atmosphere" - "Scientists from NASA and the National Science Foundation discovered a way to combine ground and space observations to create an unprecedented view of upper atmosphere disturbances during space storms. Large, global-scale disturbances resemble weather cold fronts. They form in the Earth's electrified upper atmosphere during space storms. The disturbances result from plumes of electrified plasma that form in the ionosphere. When the plasma plumes pass overhead, they impede low and high frequency radio communications and delay Global Positioning System navigation signals." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office)

"Gorbachev Urges More Action on Environmental Problems" - "MOSCOW — Nobel Peace laureate Mikhail Gorbachev on Saturday urged governments and individuals to do more to tackle major environmental problems like global warming, which he blamed for this summer's deadly floods in Europe. Speaking before a conference of the environmental advocacy group he founded, the former Soviet leader also lamented the growing shortage of natural resources in some countries, such as access to fresh water. "Something bad is happening with the climate," Gorbachev said." (Associated Press)

"California Making Lofty Environmental Promises to the World" - "MONTREAL -- As diplomats from 189 nations meet here this week to discuss the world's response to global warming, California is unveiling a new set of initiatives to control greenhouse gases that would put it in the forefront of a burgeoning campaign by state and local officials to begin regulating the root causes of climate change." (LA Times)

"Global Warming Warning - California Will Miss Long-range Greenhouse Gas Targets" - "When it comes to global warming, making promises is easy. Keeping them is hard, California is learning.

Six months ago, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made international news when he committed the state to meeting strict targets reducing greenhouse gases as a way to fight global warming.

A closer look at California's emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that scientists say cause global warming reveals that even under the best scenarios, California will miss Schwarzenegger's targets by a wide margin. According to a new report, the state will miss the goals by at least 21 percent by 2020 unless his administration and the state Legislature take sweeping new steps to cut California's use of gasoline in cars, natural gas in power plants and other fossil fuels." (Mercury News)

"Green Screen" - "Leonard DiCaprio is set to make a documentary about global environmental issues, including global warming." (FoxNews.com)

"Brazil Says Deforestation Slows, Critics Cautious" - "BRASILIA - The Brazilian government said on Monday the deforestation of the Amazon rain forest fell by 30 percent in the 12 months up to August but it failed to convince environmentalists there would be a lasting effect." (Reuters)

"Study: Temperate Forests Could Worsen Global Warming" - "Growing a forest might sound like a good idea to combat global warming, since trees draw carbon dioxide from the air and release cool water from their leaves. But they also absorb sunlight, warming the air in the process. According to a new study from the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, planting forests at certain latitudes could make the Earth warmer." (Carnegie Institution of Washington)

"Modern forests suffer from century-old logging legacy" - "By the early 20th century, loggers had harvested more than 90 percent of the forests covering the upper Great Lakes region. The legacy of that destruction continues to have a substantial impact on the environment, researchers say. Nearly 70 years after this major disturbance, experimental forested plots in the current study have not returned to a point where they store as much carbon as the original stands. And researchers aren't sure just how long it might take to return to that point. Forests serve as storage areas for carbon in the form of carbon dioxide, a key atmospheric pollutant that contributes to global climate change." (Ohio State University)

You'd think OSU would know better than to mislabel carbon dioxide as "a key atmospheric pollutant" wouldn't you? For those innocents who may have been misled (or come down in the last shower), carbon dioxide is an essential trace gas, without which there would be no trees nor bunnies to hug.

"Trees felled by Rita turning into research opportunity" - "BEAUMONT — Scientists from around the country are hoping many of the estimated 2 million trees in southeast Texas toppled by Hurricane Rita can be a golden opportunity for tree-ring research." (Associated Press)

"Biofuels could give breathing space to carmakers" - "The European motor industry has been trying for years to wriggle out of a promise to examine ways to improve fuel efficiency to about 65 miles per gallon by 2012, warning that the engine advances needed would add thousands of pounds to the cost of a new car. Now it appears to have succeeded in persuading the European Commission to shift at least some of the cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions on to the oil industry – a move that could push up fuel prices instead." (Financial Times)

"Big oil facing biofuel burden" - "The European Commission is poised to shift some of the burden of reducing vehicle greenhouse gas emissions from carmakers to oil companies after the car industry warned the required clean engine technology would make vehicles unaffordable. The move will force oil producers to increase the amount of plant-derived biofuel they mix with traditional petrol and diesel, but has led oil producers to warn Brussels that fuel prices or subsidies may have to rise as a result." (Financial Times)

Don't be foolish - neither 'big oil' nor 'big motor' will be 'burdened,' the consumer will.

"Scientist hopes for CO2 storage" - "Mankind's only hope of staving off catastrophic climate change is burying CO2 emissions underground, says the UK's chief scientist. Sir David King told the BBC carbon capture and storage technology was the only way forward as China and India would inevitably burn their cheap coal. This would be disastrous unless they were persuaded to put CO2 from power stations into porous rocks, he said. It is thought carbon capture and storage would add 10-15% to fuel bills." (BBC)

"Everyone goes fission as memories of Chernobyl, Three Mile Island fade" - "WASHINGTON -- The year was 1973, and the future seemed limitless for nuclear power as work began on the Watts Bar 1 reactor in rural Tennessee. There was, of course, to be a Watts Bar 2, maybe even a third some day. It never happened. The Tennessee Valley Authority halted construction on the second reactor in 1988, two years after the Chernobyl reactor meltdown. Watts Bar 1 and its 1,100-megawatt reactor opened for business in 1996. No one knew it at the time, but it was to be the last nuclear reactor built in the United States in nearly a generation as high costs, environmental opposition and tumbling energy prices sent the industry into a long, cold winter." (Globe and Mail)

"Threats by Brown on gas market 'inadequate'" - "INDUSTRY last night derided Gordon Brown’s attempts to cool gas prices with a “use it or lose it” threat to gas producers over import capacity. The threat came as the Treasury raised the cost of extracting oil from the North Sea by £2 billion." (London Times)

Today's Buncombe: "How the wind could be our best weapon against global warming" - "Wind power has far greater potential than previously thought for providing countries in the developing world with access to cheap and clean energy, new data suggests. Already China, environmentally, probably the most important country in the developing world, has enlarged its target for wind energy as a result of the findings." (London Independent)

"Wind taken out of sails of renewable energy project" - "PLANS for Britain’s biggest off-shore wind farm have been put on hold, casting doubt over the future of renewables as the Government embarks on another review of energy needs. The companies behind the project, including E.ON, the German power company, said that they could not make the sums add up on the proposed Scarweather wind farm, which would have required about £100 million of investment." (London Times)

Today's moonbattery: "The most destructive crop on earth is no solution to the energy crisis" - "By promoting biodiesel as a substitute, we have missed the fact that it is worse than the fossil-fuel burning it replaces" (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

"US pushes limits on ozone destroyer" - "It seems that methyl bromide cannot be phased out as a pesticide yet." (Nature)

"Environmental forum urges green nation" - "The major environmental pollution accident that occured in Songhua River impelled the country to improve its information publicity and the public to take more participation in environmental issues, experts and officials said on the ninth Green China Forum held on Saturday in Beijing." (China Daily)

"Ringleader in Arsons Gets the Maximum Sentence" - "BALTIMORE, Dec. 5 - The man convicted of being the ringleader in arsons that heavily damaged expensive new houses in a subdivision in southern Maryland last December was sentenced on Monday to nearly 20 years in prison." (New York Times)

"Food practices and using food incentives in middle schools associated with overweight students" - "CHICAGO – Schoolwide food practices and policies that allow frequent snacking and consumption of foods and beverages high in calories and low in nutrients throughout the school day, and that permit use of food as incentives and rewards, were associated with higher body mass index in middle school students, according to an article in the December issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

"Obesity has become one of the more complex and challenging public health issues of this decade, affecting two thirds of adults and almost one third (30 percent) of children…" according to background information in the article. School environmental factors have been implicated in the rising childhood obesity rates. A la carte and vending programs that sell foods and beverages high in calories and low in nutrients are pervasive in schools, and other school food practices that may contribute to childhood obesity, such as fundraising and student incentives, are also documented." (JAMA and Archives Journals)

"The Greater of Two Evils" - "One of the main problems rightwing nutjobs like myself face is that we've never quite managed to get across a fundamental point about our mistrust of government action. People assume we just have a naïve faith that markets left untouched will magically make the world a better place in each and every case. People assume that our distaste for the jumped up little vote-stealers so eager to spend our money is some sort of mental aberration. Such is probably true of me, but there are quite a few thoughtful free market voices out there. Even among those as rabid as myself, none believes there ever has been or ever will be a totally free market. Markets have always been limited by laws, regulations and even by certain societal standards. Indeed, we would insist that markets and rules go hand in hand. Otherwise, without general agreement as to what property is and general rules for its ownership and transference, how could a market even exist?" (Tim Worstall, TCS)

"Nanotechnology Regulation Needed, Critics Say" - "Amid growing evidence that some of the tiniest materials ever engineered pose potentially big environmental, health and safety risks, momentum is building in Congress, environmental circles and in the industry itself to beef up federal oversight of the new materials, which are already showing up in dozens of consumer products.

But large gaps in scientists' understanding of the materials are slowing the development of a regulatory scheme. Equally unresolved is who should pay for the additional safety studies that everyone agrees are needed." (Washington Post)

"Loophole clears way for GM maize approval" - "In Short: EU ministers' failure to either authorise or reject a pest-resistant GMO maize means the Commission will have to approve the product. NGOs are highlighting public mistrust in GMOs and want to tighten up clearance rules." (EurActiv)

Another case for biotech? "New maps reveal true extent of human footprint on Earth" - "SAN FRANCISCO - As global populations swell, farmers are cultivating more and more land in a desperate bid to keep pace with the ever-intensifying needs of humans. As a result, agricultural activity now dominates more than a third of the Earth's landscape and has emerged as one of the central forces of global environmental change, say scientists at the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison." (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

"India: Greenpeace seeks govt intervention on GM crops" - "NEW DELHI, DEC 5 : Greenpeace India has invited the attention of the Union health minister, Anbumani Ramadoss and urged him to intervene and stop the process of contamination of food crops caused by the large-scale field trials of genetically modified (GM) crops. It unveiled the “biohazard hotspot map” of India showing field trials of several GM crops. “According to our information in most of the places of fields appropriate caution has not been taken to ensure creation of refugees areas for preventing pollen flow to other crops in the vicinity. Many local farmers have reported that their crops have been contaminated with pollen flow from GM crops under trials,” said Divya Raghunandan of Greenpeace India." (Financial Express)

"India: A doc film on Bt Cotton" - "The country's first genetically-modified (GM) crop, 'Bt cotton' has not attained its popularity due to misconceptions and disinformation thereby continuing to constrict the growth potential of this technology. The documentary film "The Story of Bt. Cotton in India" produced by a team of experts headed by Bhagirath Choudhary of International Service for Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Application, aims at overcoming the misconception about the crop and the technology. " (andhracafe.com)

Say what? "Warning on bitter GM harvest" - "GENETICALLY modified crops have failed to deliver the economic benefits promised to US farmers and could pose similar problems if adopted in Australia, a former US government bureaucrat has warned. Australia could lose agricultural export dollars, and farmers could find themselves using more herbicides to control weeds and being sued by other farmers for crop contamination if they chose to grow genetically engineered crops, said Charles Benbrook, who worked as an agricultural adviser to the Carter, Reagan and Clinton administrations." (Sydney Morning Herald)

He did? Do the administrations concerned know that?

December 5, 2005

"Judges Deny Rehearing of Greenhouse Gas Lawsuit" - "Washington, D.C., December 2, 2005—The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has turned away an appeal from state authorities and environmental groups which sought to compel the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide as a pollutant. The Court previously ruled that the EPA was not required to regulate CO2." (CEI)

"U.S. Court Rejects Appeal of EPA Greenhouse Gas Rule" - "Dec. 2 -- A federal court rejected the appeal of a ruling that lets carmakers such as General Motors Corp. and utilities such as American Electric Power Co. avoid federal standards for emission curbs under the 1977 Clean Air Act." (Bloomberg)

"More coverage needed" - "Why is it that a 12-day-long United Nations conference, in our own country no less, encompassing a large majority of international delegates determining the long-term future, maybe even fate, of our communal planet, ends up on pages 17 and 18 of a national paper in its opening two days (Nov. 29 and 30)?" (Toronto Star)

Because Adam, it's boring trivia blown up out of all context and not worthy of a tiny fraction of the coverage it does receive. Perhaps this explains why it gets so much coverage.

'Global warming' coverage of the moment (Bill Amend, uComics.com)

Big day: "Marchers demand clean energy for Australia" - "Hundreds of people demanding the government adopt a clean energy policy marched through Sydney today to mark the International Day of Action on Climate Change." (AAP)

Australia's largest city, where several hundred thousand happily turn out to acknowledge sports players, managed to field "hundreds of people" to mark the International Day of Action on Climate Change - says it all really.

See, particularly: Most hubristic name of the moment and don't miss Vital statistics..... and the 'X' factor? (EnviroSpin Watch)

Fewer marchers than delegates to the stupid thing: "Thousands march in Montreal to get UN summit to adopt Kyoto" - "Thousands of people marched in frigid temperatures through downtown Montreal on Saturday as part of worldwide rallies to urge the United States and other countries to do more to curb global warming." (CBC News)

"What planet are you on, Mr Bush? (and do you care, Mr Blair?)" - "Tens of thousands of people marched in 33 countries yesterday to express concern for the environment. But will their leaders respond? Geoffrey Lean and David Randall report." (London Independent)

Hmm... ambitious (hopeful?) estimates of 100K people in 33 countries supporting this twaddle... 100K/33 = ~3K people/country or a wildly hopeful ~1K voters/country - well there's political pressure for you! With numbers like that no politician is going to care and rightly so. Serves to underline just how tiny a minority of noisy nitwits is really generating all the noise and claims of being able to adjust the globe's thermostat by tweaking a few minor variables in a complex, coupled, chaotic, non-linear system.

"Jargon obscures Montreal message" - "The even greater challenge will be to find any of the 8,000 or so participants who can explain to the rest of the world what on earth has been going on." (BBC)

COP 11 AND COP/MOP 1 HIGHLIGHTS (Earth Negotiations Bulletin)

COP 11 AND COP/MOP 1 HIGHLIGHTS (Earth Negotiations Bulletin)

"Son of Kyoto would be poor insurance policy" - "IF a shifty salesman in a blue suit showed up on your doorstep flogging an insurance policy suffering from high costs and low returns, you would shut the door in his face – and rightly so. But such a bad deal is exactly what environmentalists and some governments will be calling for this week at a United Nations climate change conference in Montreal aiming for a new global agreement to restrain greenhouse gas emissions." (Kendra Okonski, The business Online)

"On Climate Change, a Change of Thinking" - "Today, in the middle of new global warming talks in Montreal, there is a sense that the whole idea of global agreements to cut greenhouse gases won't work." (New York Times)

"Change of thinking" Andrew? Reckon not - but there is still a faint hope people might start thinking and then realise that Kyoto is the most expensive means possible of not addressing a non-problem.

This is a change of thinking: "Holland goes beyond holding back the tide" - "HOEK VAN HOLLAND, Netherlands -- The towheaded lad plugging the dike, symbol of Holland's ancient determination to defy tide and storm, is loosening his finger just a bit. In what amounts to a sea change for a country that is essentially built on reclaimed land, the Netherlands is quietly surrendering some of its hard-won ''polders" -- former seabed, river bottoms, and swamp -- back to the waters. The government has begun acquiring thousands of acres of agricultural land and industrial strips along major waterways, which would be used as flood plains in periods of high water." (Boston Globe)

"Melting Arctic ice risks Canada-US territorial dispute" - "Global warming is melting the Arctic ice so fast that a new sea route is opening up between the Atlantic and the Pacific -- and with it the risk of a territorial dispute between Canada and the United States." (AFP)

Status of Arctic Sea Ice Coverage (Climate Science)

Inuit Circumpolar Conference to Announce Human Rights Claim over Climate Change at Montreal UN Climate Conference (Press Release)

"Climate change wreaking havoc on Canada's North" - "Extreme weather shifts in the Arctic bring in their wake swarms of insects, treacherously thin ice floes and fast-spoiling food supplies, the Inuit community leader said Friday at the United Nations World Climate Change Conference." (Montreal Gazette)

"Has global warming overheated Bush's brain?" - "How could it be that President George W. Bush, whose country has been plagued by murderously hot summers, melting glaciers up in Alaska, and catastrophic hurricanes in the gulf states, is not the slightest bit interested in tackling the problem of climate change?" (Toronto Star)

Perhaps, Linwood, because he believes the nice folks at the Alaska Climate Research Center, who point out that Alaskan warming since 1949 occurred in 1976, with little in the decades before or after, and since there is no plausible mechanism by which increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide could change the Alaskan mean temperature in 1976 (but not before or after), the conclusion then is that a phase shift in one or more of the known oscillations is the likely cause. Given our limited certainty regarding the precise periodicity of varied oscillations and how their phase synchronicity or otherwise might compound or inhibit the expected effects of one or more of said oscillations we can't even determine whether there is anything slightly out of the ordinary in progress. Does that clear it up any for you?

"A Current Affair" - "In the December 1st issue of Nature magazine, Harry Bryden and colleagues at Britain's National Oceanography Centre report that the Atlantic meridional circulation (also known as the thermohaline circulation (THC) -- the density driven current that carries warm surface water northward and returns colder deep water southward -- has slowed by 30 percent between 1957 and 2004. The significance of this finding is difficult to assess in light of other recent observations." (Pat Michaels, TCS)

Eye-roller of the moment: "Mission to save planet is 'failing'" - "The world scored an abysmal two out of 10 for its efforts in trying to save the planet from environmental mayhem this year. That is the stark view of the World Economic Form (WEF), which has blasted governments for failing to make progress on global warming and on the safeguarding of the world's endangered environment." (The Observer)

Pray, what environment should we 'safeguard' and what would this entail? Should it be preserved in some sterile stasis, like a museum exhibit? Things change guys, and this is neither good nor bad, merely different. Take, for example, the site of the present day London, England. At present it is a built environment, made to better suit the current tenants but the environment over time has variously suited bear and wolf, woolly rhinoceros and mammoth, lion and bison, saurian and ichthyosaur. Which is the 'correct' environment and how is any environment that exists at the moment anything but the 'correct' environment?

It's about time to realise that the world is a dynamic place and that change is both normal and natural - either we adapt with change or we end up a footnote in history, just as did London's woolly rhinoceros.

"Europe Feels the Heat, Five Year Assessment Finds" - "COPENHAGEN, Denmark, December 2, 2005 - Climate change tops the list of environmental challenges facing Europe, according to a State of the Environment report issued Tuesday by the European Environment Agency. Policy makers, businesses and individuals must act now or pay a heavy price later, the report warns.

The four hottest years on record were 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2004. Ten percent of Alpine glaciers disappeared during the summer of 2003 alone. At current rates, three quarters of Switzerland's glaciers will have melted by 2050. Europe has not seen climate changes on this scale for 5,000 years, says the new report." (ENS)

Could the Warm Bias Identified in the Pielke and Matsui 2005 GRL Paper Explain a Significant Portion of the Reported Surface Air Warming of the Northern Hemisphere? (Climate Science)

Tell us, Jonathan: "Focus: So, are we going to freeze or fry?" - "Scientists say that global warming is slowing the Gulf Stream and that Britain may face a new ice age as a result. Confused? Jonathan Leake explains the oddities of climate change." (The Sunday Times)

"Global Warming Is Real, So Get Over It" - "Global warming is a reality. It’s an observable, measurable, empirical, scientific fact. Let’s all say it together: “Prince Charles, Ted Turner, Al Gore -- you’re all right! The climate is getting hotter.” Yes, the Earth is warming, but human activity has nothing to do with it. The Earth’s climate has been growing warmer since the end of the last Ice Age, around 10,000 years ago, long before the internal combustion engine, Exxon, SUVs, Halliburton, Democrat congressmen, or other alleged human sources of so-called greenhouse gasses." (Richard Lessner, Human Events Online)

"Finding a plug for carbon leaks" - "Faced with increasingly stringent regulation in Kyoto nations, emission-intensive industries are likely to pack up and move to countries that haven't imposed such restrictions. And nothing prevents them from selling their products right back to the countries they left.

It's a phenomenon economists label "carbon leakage," and as trade barriers are torn down, the leak gets bigger. The resulting distortion affects not only industry — it also ties the hands of any government wanting to lead the way with climate policy." (Toronto Star)

More Buncombe: "US facing pressure to sign up to future climate protocols" - "The United States will this week face intense lobbying in an effort to force concrete action from the Bush administration over climate change when ministers from around the world meet at a United Nations summit in Canada. A failure to obtain some concession from the US would lead to further condemnation of both President George Bush and Tony Blair, who has said he believes a legally-binding commitment is achievable." (London Independent)

"Climate Official's Work Is Questioned" - "Environmentalists are unhappy with the job the lead U.S. climate negotiator, Harlan Watson, has been doing in the ongoing Montreal talks on how to combat global warming." (Washington Post)

"Climate protection" - "It is unfair that the continent with the lowest CO2 emissions, Africa, is suffering most from the impact of increased warming and aridness, says German Environment Minister." (Globe and Mail)

The minister is right, more CO2 emissions in Africa likely would mean Africans were better protected from adverse conditions and so, too, would plants benefit from improved water efficiency and hence drought tolerance.

"China refuses to cut energy use" - "CHINA has underlined the difficulties in forging a new international regime to limit greenhouse gases by declaring that its people barely use enough energy to make a living. "You cannot live without using energy," Sun Guoshun, director of the Department of Treaty and Law at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Associated Press. He said it was unfair to expect China and India, with millions of people in poverty and without access to reliable power supplies, to cut back on energy consumption." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Japan's coal thermal power output raises global warming concerns" - "Japan has been increasing its reliance on coal to generate power since 2000, despite the fuel's nature of emitting more carbon dioxide than oil or natural gas, overshadowing prospects of Japan achieving its goal of reducing the emission of global warming gases under an international pact, according to recent ministry studies." (Kyodo)

"Aus: Govt rules out ratifying Kyoto protocol" - "The Federal Government has again rejected calls for Australia to ratify the Kyoto protocol on climate change." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Aust 'may sign' son-of-Kyoto" - "AUSTRALIA would sign onto a future global regime to reduce greenhouse gas emissions provided such a deal was comprehensive and included the majority of greenhouse gas emitting nations, Environment Minister Ian Campbell said today. Senator Campbell, who is heading off to the Montreal conference on climate change, said Australia would participate in discussions on building a constructive framework once the Kyoto agreement on greenhouse emissions ends in 2012." (AAP)

"Appeal made by mayor of Seattle shows cities are willing to address climate change" - "TORONTO, MONTREAL -- At the United Nations climate talks in Montreal, there are two delegations from the United States. The official one is from the Bush Administration and it opposes the Kyoto Protocol. But a less-organized delegation, composed of hundreds of politicians, scientists, and environmental activists, emphatically disagrees with the U.S. President." (Globe and Mail)

More power Massachusetts: "Cold feet on warming" - "Seven Northeastern states -- but not Massachusetts -- are about to embark on a historic effort to curb climate change by putting a limit on the carbon dioxide emissions of their electric power generators." (Boston Globe)

"Experts: N.E. needs more power plants" - "BOSTON — New England's economic prosperity is at risk if the region does not increase efforts to build new electrical generating plants, but much more aggressive energy conservation is needed as well, a regional conference on energy policy was told Friday." (Associated Press)

Hot air trade - just say 'No!': "In Asia, A Hot Market For Carbon" - "The market for carbon credits is cutting pollution in developing countries" (Business Week)

"Kyoto protocol should embrace polluting jet-setters: France" - "The life span of the United Nations strategy for cutting greenhouse gases should be extended beyond 2012 and broadened to cover the polluting growth sector of air transport, French Environment Minister Nelly Ollin said on Saturday." (AFP)

"EU Nations Back Idea of Airline-Pollution Curbs, Seek 2006 Law" - "Dec. 2 -- European Union nations endorsed the idea of limiting airline pollution to counter global warming, urging EU regulators to propose next year legislation that could boost ticket prices." (Bloomberg)

"United States Questions European Aviation Emission Trading Scheme" - "The United States has “serious and fundamental questions” about the European Commission’s proposal to include airlines -- including foreign carriers -- in an emissions trading program aimed at cutting greenhouse gases, according to U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) official Sharon Pinkerton." (Washington File)

PC ad absurdum: "Mazda Discourages Employees From Driving" - "TOKYO -- Japanese automaker Mazda Motor Corp. is recommending its employees walk to the office, rather than commute by car, as part of an effort to improve their health and protect the environment, a company spokesman said Friday." (Associated Press)

Manufacturer advocates against own product...

"UK homes a dirtier shade of green" - "Much-heralded plans to make British homes more green, to be unveiled by the Government tomorrow, will actually lower environmental standards. The plans, which will be published at the same time as the Chancellor announces the biggest house-building programme in half a century, will lay down lower requirements for saving energy and water than government agencies enforce at present." (London Indpendent)

"Abundant Energy or Floating Bombs?" - "BP says its $600 million proposed natural gas facility will help temper soaring energy bills. Opponents call LNG tankers 'floating bombs.'" (New York Times)

"James Lovelock: The green man" - "James Lovelock has complained before about the lack of urgency with which governments have reacted to his warnings about the future of the planet, but he must be pleased with last week's news. The strong indication that the Prime Minister supports the building of a new generation of nuclear power plants in order to cut our greenhouse gas emissions comes only 18 months after Lovelock's bombshell of an article in The Independent, which launched a fierce debate among scientists and green activists. It was the breaking of the great green taboo." (London Independent)

Quote of the moment: "Europe divided over expansion of nuclear facilities" - "... Bohne says some countries want nuclear power plants because it brings them close to developing nuclear weapons. But in Germany's case, he says, concerns about global warming will eventually give a new lease on life to reactors scheduled to close. "There will be a kind of biological solution," he says. "When today's protestors are too old to take to the streets, things will change. The problem then is we may no longer have nuclear experts to operate the plants." (Toronto Star)

"Grasping the nuclear nettle" - "With a review of UK energy policy about to get under way, expert writers from both sides of the atomic power argument explain the issues behind this crucial question" (Malcolm Wicks, The Observer) | The case against by energy professor Gordon MacKerron (The Observer) | The case for by former energy minister Brian Wilson (The Observer)

"Britain 'could bury greenhouse gases'" - "MPs will launch an investigation this week into a technology some scientists believe is our best hope for saving the world from global warming: carbon capture and storage. The technology - still in its infancy - involves taking carbon dioxide before it is released at power stations and burying it in disused oil or gas fields." (The Observer)

"Water firms are forced into land management" - "A new EU directive will improve the quality of water by 2015. But at what cost? By Dan Drillsma-Milgrom" (The Sunday Times)

"Australia: Salinity problems 'grossly overstated'" - "Australia's dryland salinity problems have been grossly exaggerated, painting a flawed picture of the nation's agricultural sustainability, a new report says. The paper, by research body the Australian Farm Institute, says the decision to publish questionable data on the subject five years ago was reckless, creating an "albatross" for farmers." (AAP)

"Africa must engage directly in fight against malaria" - "Until an effective vaccine is developed to prevent malaria, countries should adopt a well-managed IRS program using DDT. It has proven to be the most effective and least costly intervention available – it has the potential to save countless lives and prevent millions of unnecessary bouts of illness." (AFM)

"Breast cancer clusters linked to affluence" - "An affluent lifestyle - not exposure to common environmental toxins - is probably behind high rates of breast cancer clustered in certain areas of the United States, a series of long-term studies has found." (Montreal Gazette)

"Virus clue to cervical cancer jab" - "Scientists have unravelled the body's immune response to a virus which causes most cases of cervical cancer. They hope their work on the human papilloma virus (HPV) could aid efforts to develop a cervical cancer vaccine." (BBC)

"Phthalate Linked to Lupus in Mice" - "No one knows to what degree genetics or environmental agents cause lupus, an autoimmune disorder that affects the skin, joints, and internal organs including the kidneys. However, researchers at Indiana State University may have strengthened the environmental evidence by discovering that phthalates trigger lupus antibodies in a mouse model." (Environmental Health Perspectives)

"Lawyers Ready Suit Over Soda - Case Being Built Linking Obesity To Sale in Schools" - "The fight against sugary soft drinks is beginning to foam over. A coalition of lawyers who have actively and successfully sued tobacco companies says it is close to filing a class-action lawsuit against soft-drink makers for selling sugared sodas in schools. The lawyers, who have been trying to develop a case against the soft-drink makers for more than two years, say a lawsuit could be filed within the next few weeks, probably in Massachusetts, which has one of the nation's most plaintiff-friendly consumer-protection laws." (Washington Post)

"Study Links Diesel Fumes to Illnesses" - "Air pollutants generated by California's cargo industry will result in about 750 premature deaths this year and tens of billions of dollars in related healthcare costs over the next 15 years, a new study concludes." (LA Times)

"Urban view 'rules green debate'" - "People living in towns and cities are dominating the environmental debate and overlook the opinion of rural dwellers, a leading botanist has said." (BBC)

"Passing the forecasting torch" - "Nation's premier hurricane predictor hands off lead forecast role to protégé." (Herald-Tribune)

"Snared in the Web of a Wikipedia Liar" - "ACCORDING to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, John Seigenthaler Sr. is 78 years old and the former editor of The Tennessean in Nashville. But is that information, or anything else in Mr. Seigenthaler's biography, true?" (New York Times)

"Record number of GM animals being bred in UK laboratories" - "A record number of genetically modified animals are being used in Britain's laboratories, figures released by the Government this week will show. Animals whose genes have been deliberately altered, including mice born with a human chromosome to give them Down's syndrome, are being bred in their hundreds of thousands for experimentation. The leap in the number of GM and mutant creatures created for animal research will shock animal welfare groups, which accused ministers of reneging on a promise to promote alternatives to live animal experiments. But scientists said the reason for the rise reflected breakthroughs in genetics to find cures for life-threatening diseases." (London Independent)

"Harnessing Biotechnology For The Caribbean" - "African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) experts are calling on governments in the ACP region to invest more in science and technology and more specifically biotechnology if the region is to be assured of a better future." (The Bahama Journal)

"China leads in research of genetically modified plants" - "YINCHUAN, Dec. 5 -- China has taken the lead among developing countries in the research of genetically modified (GM) plants, an expert has said. China has been investing 100 million US dollars per year in the research of biotechnological plants since the beginning of this century, and the sum is expected to reach more than 500 million US dollars in 2005, said Shen Guifang, executive deputy director of China High-tech Industrialization Association and researcher of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences." (Xinhuanet)

"Australian Wheat Output To Continue Growing" - "CANBERRA--Australian wheat production will continue to grow, fueled by mounting Asian demand as personal incomes in the region rise and diets become more Westernised, industry participants say. Productivity growth will support the increased output, in part reflecting the commercial application of the A$250 million (US$183 million) which Australia ploughs into grains research and development every year. Australia's 2005 crop, harvested mostly in November and December, looks like coming in at around 24 million metric tons. But in the long term, production could grow to 40 million tons a year or more, believes Peter Reading, managing director of industry-and government-funded Grains Research & Development Corp. "There's probably twice the production capacity in Australia without too much trouble," he told Dow Jones - although that figure could take several decades to reach." (Dow Jones)

December 2, 2005

"Global Warming Blues" - "The 11th annual meeting of global warming enthusiasts in Montreal isn’t turning out to be a very happy event. Even though this is the first opportunity for the burgeoning global climate bureaucracy to celebrate the full implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, the realities of science, economics and politics are raining on its parade." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Off with all their heads" - "CLIMATE CHANGE has passed Through the Looking Glass with Alice. The Red Queen is berating us to believe “six impossible things before breakfast”." (Philip Stott, London Times)

Fire and Ice

SOME say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice, 
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice. -- Robert Frost (1874–1963) (From Harper’s Magazine, December 1920.)

"The sound of distant howling" - "AESOP'S most famous fable is about a shepherd boy who cried “wolf” so often when no wolf was around that when one did appear nobody took any notice of his warning. Some environmentalists risk falling into the same trap. They are so convinced of the righteousness of their cause that they will cry “wolf” at any event that might plausibly be thought to support their view of the world." (The Economist)

"The Atlantic Conveyor May Have Slowed, But Don't Panic Yet" - "The ponderous churning of the North Atlantic Ocean that carries warm water northward and returns deep, cold water to the south appears to have slowed in the past decade or two. But the slowing is hardly larger than the uncertainty of the observations." (Richard A. Kerr, Science) PDF

Sadly, the media appears to have swallowed the warming=cooling thing, hook, line and sinker. Perhaps we need to address this more comprehensively. The following items collated by Benny Peiser and distributed via the ever-excellent CCNet:

"A model intercomparison of changes in the Atlantic thermohaline circulation in response to increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration" (.pdf) - "Abstract: In an experiment coordinated as part of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, integrations with a common design have been undertaken with eleven different climate models to compare the response of the Atlantic thermohaline circulation (THC) to time-dependent climate change caused by increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration. Over 140 years, during which the CO2 concentration quadruples, the circulation strength declines gradually in all models, by between 10 and 50%. This weakening is consistent with the expected effect of reduced heat loss and increased net freshwater input in the north Atlantic. No model shows a rapid or complete collapse. The models having the strongest overturning in the control climate tend to show the largest THC reductions. Despite the reduced ocean heat transport, no model shows a cooling anywhere, because the greenhouse warming is dominant. In all the models, the THC weakening is caused more by changes in surface heat flux than by changes in surface water flux." (Geophysical Research Letters)

"Ice growth in the greenhouse: a seductive paradox but unrealistic scenario" - "ABSTRACT: The recent IPCC (2001) assessment stated that

"Most models show weakening of the Northern Hemisphere Thermohaline Circulation (THC), which contributes to a reduction of surface warming in the northern North Atlantic. Even in models where the THC weakens, there is still a warming over Europe due to increased greenhouse gases."

However, there is still a widespread misunderstanding of the possible consequence of climate change on the Atlantic Ocean Meridional Overturning. In particular, it is often touted, especially in the media, that a possible consequence of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions is: "the onset of the next ice age". Here we document the history of this misconception and quantitatively show how it is impossible for an ice age to ensue as a consequence of global warming. Through analysis of the paleoclimate record as well as a number of climate model simulations, we also suggest that it is very unlikely that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning will cease to be active in the near future. We further suggest that a region where intermediate water formation may shut down is in the Labrador Sea, although this has more minor consequences for climate than if deep water formation in the Nordic Seas were to cease." (Geoscience Canada)

"Gulf Stream safe if wind blows and Earth turns" - "Sir - Your News story "Gulf Stream probed for early warnings of system failure" (Nature 427, 769 (2004)) discusses what the climate in the south of England would be like "without the Gulf Stream." Sadly, this phrase has been seen far too often, usually in newspapers concerned with the unlikely possibility of a new iceage in Britain triggered by the loss of the Gulf Stream.

European readers should be reassured that the Gulf Stream's existence is a consequence of the large-scale wind system over the North Atlantic Ocean, and of the nature of fluid motion on a rotating planet. The only way to produce an ocean circulation without a Gulf Stream is either to turn off the wind system, or to stop the Earth's rotation, or both.

Real questions exist about conceivable changes in the ocean circulation and its climate consequences. However, such discussions are not helped by hyperbole and alarmism. The occurrence of a climate state without the Gulf Stream anytime soon - within tens of millions of years - has a probability of little more than zero.

Carl Wunsch
Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology" (Nature 428, 601, April 8, 2004)

Will Freshening Of The North Atlantic Ocean Slow The Gulf Stream And Cool Europe? (CO2 Science Magazine)

Climate may turn UK Mediterranean (BBC)

Global Warming Will Dry Out Sahara (Top Tech News)

Global Warming Could End Sahara Droughts (The Guardian)

African Rainfall (CO2 Science Magazine)

"My goodness! Climate changes! And dump those sandwiches" - "One just despairs at the lunacy of it all. Have the Greens gone entirely loopy? The nadir came this morning - before breakfast too - when a claim was made on the increasingly lugubrious Today programme that eating sandwiches is devastating for the environment (you know all those potted shrimps and pastrami 'curlers' destroying the mangrove swamps and tropical rain forests of the world). Lord Sandwich would have been turning in his Wellington Boots and rending his Cardigan." (EnviroSpin Watch)

"The relative unimportance of trying to stop global warming" - "Instead of spending enormous amounts of money on the Kyoto strategy, which focuses on early cuts that will do little good, we should be concentrating on research into cheaper and cleaner energy." (Bjorn Lomborg, Project Syndicate)

"Insurers urged to assess climate change risks" - "STAMFORD, Conn. -- State treasurers and controllers from around the country urged major insurance companies Thursday to analyze and disclose their financial risk from climate change, warning that higher rates and loss of coverage are inevitable. The officials, who oversee more than $800 billion in investments in the companies, said they are worried about escalating losses from hurricanes and other extreme weather. They say few insurers have examined the risks they face from climate change." (AP)

"Global warming should be big election issue" - "Whether we wanted a winter election or not, we have one courtesy of NDP leader Jack Layton. So we should at least hope the campaign will focus on the big issues facing Canada. One of the most important issues we face is how to deal with climate change. Make no mistake about it; human beings are building up a host of nasty future problems because of our huge dependence on coal, oil and, to a lesser extent, natural gas. Just look at our Arctic, where major warming is already underway." (Toronto Star)

"NOAA Attributes Recent Increase In Hurricane Activity To Naturally Occurring Multi-decadal Climate Variability" - "Nov. 29, 2005 — The nation is now wrapping up the 11th year of a new era of heightened Atlantic hurricane activity. This era has been unfolding in the Atlantic since 1995, and is expected to continue for the next decade or perhaps longer. NOAA attributes this increased activity to natural occurring cycles in tropical climate patterns near the equator. These cycles, called “the tropical multi-decadal signal,” typically last several decades (20 to 30 years or even longer). As a result, the North Atlantic experiences alternating decades long (20 to 30 year periods or even longer) of above normal or below normal hurricane seasons. NOAA research shows that the tropical multi-decadal signal is causing the increased Atlantic hurricane activity since 1995, and is not related to greenhouse warming." (NOAA Magazine Online)

A New Study On The Importance of Land-Surface Types Including Urbanization on Surface Temperatures (Climate Science)

More right than she knows? "Climate threat badly understood" - "Public understanding of climate change and what people can do to help tackle the problem is very weak, the environment secretary has said." (BBC)

Marg's right, public understanding of climate is truly dire. Heck, a lot even think there's such a thing as a 'stable climate'!

COP 11 AND COP/MOP 1 Highlights (Earth Negotiations Bulletin)

"EU says will fulfil Kyoto target by 2010" - "BRUSSELS - The European Union will meet its Kyoto Protocol obligations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2010, two years before the global environment treaty's final deadline, a report by the EU executive showed on Thursday." (Reuters)

"The EU's Global-Warming Fantasy" - "The Environment: In a last-ditch attempt at reviving the moribund Kyoto Accords, the European Union has vowed to cut its emission of greenhouse gases beyond what's called for by 2010. But don't count on it. The meeting that began this week in Montreal — and that will last nearly two weeks — has brought a new deal of sorts. The 189 nations in attendance have vowed to continue pursuing cuts in greenhouse gases, even as fresh evidence suggests the effort will be a massive, and extraordinarily costly, waste of time." (IBD)

Global warming activists want action (Associated Press)

Who cares? (JunkScience.com)

Even BMJ's stuck on stupid: "Health and climate change: a call for action" - "Climate change—the subject of this week's United Nations summit in Montreal—is already affecting human health in Europe, and countries are not prepared. It is now five years since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that there is new and stronger evidence that most of the global warming that has occurred over the past 50 years is attributable to human activities and that climate change could affect human health.1 Even before that, in 1999, ministers of health and environment from the World Health Organization European Region acknowledged that "human-induced changes in the global climate system and in stratospheric ozone pose a range of severe health risks and potentially threaten economic development and social and political stability." (BMJ-British Medical Journal)

"Beckett plays it cool on Montreal" - "Margaret Beckett, environment secretary, yesterday played down expectations in advance of a climate change summit in Montreal next week. She said the UK's long-term approach to how the world should tackle greenhouse gas pollution when the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012 still relied on binding targets to compel countries to cut emissions, but it was too early to put such ideas on the table." (The Guardian)

"Allies Hope Overcome US Climate Talk Refusal" - "MONTREAL - Major US allies expressed confidence on Thursday that they could persuade a reluctant Washington to consider new ways to fight global warming at a 189-nation environmental conference." (Reuters)

"U.N. conference seeks middle ground - Looks at 2-pronged agreement on global warming" - "MONTREAL—The conference on climate change appears set to climb aboard a two-track pollution-cut train that even the United States could be willing to ride. On one track, Canada and 39 other developed nations that promised, under the Kyoto Protocol, to make modest cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions by 2012 would quickly start negotiations on deeper reductions beyond that date. On the other, all 189 countries that originally signed on to combat climate change — including the U.S. and a few others that later rejected the protocol — would begin discussions on any and all ideas to slow the build-up of carbon dioxide and other gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. "We need not be afraid of the two tracks. They will finally converge, or merge," said Stavros Dimas, the European Community's environment commissioner." (Toronto Star)

You know Stavros, you're right! sooner or later everyone will realise what a crock this is and walk away (or maybe, run).

You've been warned: "CO2: This time it's personal" - "So you've filled your tank with petrol, wiped the bugs off your windscreen, and you're standing in the queue holding two pieces of plastic which will finalise the purchase. One card carries the logo of your bank; the other, a picture of a burning planet. The first will deduct money from your bank account; the second, credits from your carbon account." (BBC)

"NCAR study: Trade imbalance shifts US carbon emissions to China, boosts global total" - "BOULDER- The growth of Chinese imports in the U.S. economy boosted the total emissions of carbon dioxide (a primary greenhouse gas) from the two countries by over 700 million metric tons between 1997 and 2003, according to a study published online in the journal Energy Policy. The analysis, prepared by two scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, suggests that American emissions of carbon dioxide in 2003 would have been 6% higher if the United States had manufactured the products that it imported from China. Meanwhile, China's 2003 emissions would have been 14% lower had it not produced goods for the United States." (NCAR)

Interesting but flawed analogy: "Comment: Montreal could prove a costly distraction" - "Should you ever find yourself at a loose end with a group of engineers and sailors then I can recommend an interesting party game. It is to imagine that you are the ill-fated Captain Smith of the Titanic and that the ship has just struck the iceberg. What are you going to do? Indeed, I offer to producer James Cameron, the plot for a new film in which, thanks to some heroic interventions, the Titanic doesn't sink and all the passengers are rescued.

There are broadly two possible strategies open to you to save the ship. The first is to try to stop the water coming in. The second is to live with the influx while concentrating your energies on finding clever ways to stabilise the ship, absorb the incoming water and manage the rescue. The two approaches mirror transatlantic attitudes to the problem of climate change, now being addressed by the 189 signatories to the UN Climate Change Convention in Montreal." (Peter Sain ley Berry, EUOBSERVER)

Fun but Earth is not the Titanic and atmospheric carbon dioxide actually assists the biosphere rather than threatening to drag it under. Interesting nonetheless.

"New drive for energy tax relief " - "Climate change targets will not be met if ministers let debate on new power plants obscure the drive for energy efficiency, experts are warning." (BBC)

"Defra launches new climate change communications campaign" - "Defra's 'focus' pages aim to introduce and summarise a topical issue and provide links to more in-depth material elsewhere on this site." (Defra)

"Crystal sponges excel at sopping up CO2" - "ANN ARBOR, Mich.---Since the Industrial Revolution, levels of carbon dioxide---a major contributor to the greenhouse effect---have been on the rise, prompting scientists to search for ways of counteracting the trend. One of the main strategies is removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the flue exhaust of power plants, using porous materials that take up the gas as it travels up the flue." (University of Michigan)

"Cure for Cow Flatulence Cooked up by UK Scientists" - "LONDON - Cows belching and breaking wind cause methane pollution but British scientists say they have developed a diet to make pastures smell like roses - almost." (Reuters)

Good for the economics of raising cattle but irrelevant where the planet's climate is concerned.

"California relies on dirty coal power plants-study" - "LOS ANGELES, Dec 1 - California must insist that U.S. western states that supply it with electricity clean up coal-fired power plants that pollute cities, national parks and alpine forests, several environmental groups said in a study issued on Thursday." (Reuters)

"States to move on cutting emissions - Reluctant Massachusetts may be left behind" - 'Seven Northeast states decided yesterday to move forward without Massachusetts on a landmark agreement to limit power plant emissions, because of the Romney administration's reluctance to act on the pact, according to two government officials involved in the negotiations. However, officials for the seven states told Massachusetts officials in a conference call yesterday that they hoped the Bay State would still sign on before the pact is formally announced by Dec. 15, according to the two officials, who were on the call and declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the negotiations. They said that after the other states made their intentions clear, the Massachusetts officials left the phone call." (Boston Globe)

"Maine adopts new California-style emissions standards" - "PORTLAND, Maine -- New cars and trucks sold in Maine will have to meet strict California-like emissions standards beginning in 2009 under new rules approved Thursday. Maine becomes the second New England state and the sixth overall to adopt standards that aim to reduce emissions linked to global warming, officials said." (Associated Press)

"Zero emissions technology platform: Commission fosters CO2-free energy in the future" - "As a further demonstration of the depth of its commitment to tackling climate change, the European Commission has been behind today’s launch of the Technology Platform for Zero Emission Fossil Fuel Power Plants. This body will bring together energy companies, equipment suppliers, users, consumers, financial institutions, regulators, public authorities, researchers and civil society to develop common research goals, with the aim of a future where the use of power plants that emit no climate-damaging greenhouse gases is widespread. Through its common vision and strategic research agenda, the Technology Platform will identify and remove obstacles to the creation of such power plants, technological, financial and regulatory. The aims of the Technology Platform fit perfectly with the approach taken in the Sixth Framework Programme of looking at short and medium term needs of the energy sector, as well as supporting basic research into possible future sources of energy." (European Commission, Research Directorate)

"Fresher air for Europe?" - "Fine particulates (particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, PM2.5) could be regulated in Europe for the first time, under proposals put forward this fall. The PM rule is part of the European Commission’s (EC’s) Clean Air Strategy, a plan to reduce the number of people dying prematurely from air-pollution-related diseases by almost 40% from the 2000 level by 2020." (ES&T)

"Nuclear Energy Supported by as Much as 62% of U.K., Study Says" - "Dec. 2 -- Nuclear energy development is supported by as much as 62 percent of the U.K. population as long as it's part of a government policy also expanding renewable power sources such as wind and solar, a Deloitte & Touche LLP survey showed." (Bloomberg)

"Peak Curiosity" - "Predicting the end of oil era has been a venerable (albeit fruitless) pseudo-intellectual pursuit for most of the 20th century. This Nostradamian pastime regained new vigor during the late 1990s when (mostly retired geologists) Colin Campbell, Jean Laherrère, L.F. Ivanhoe, Richard Duncan and Kenneth Deffeyes -- and their groupies gathered under the WWW umbrellas of peakoil.net, peakoil.com, peakoil.org and hubbertpeak.com --- flooded the media with catastrophist tales of imminent peak of the global oil production to be followed by a precipitous decline of oil availability resulting in the demise of modern civilization. As self-appointed prophets are want to do, these wholesalers of fear have not been cautious when outlining the consequences. In Ivanhoe's rendering "the inevitable doomsday" will be followed by "economic implosion" that will make "many of the world's developed societies look more like today's Russia than the US." In Duncan's telling there is massive unemployment, breadlines, widespread homelessness and a catastrophic end of industrial civilization." (Vaclav Smil, TCS)

"No safe ground for life to stand on during world's largest mass extinction" - "The world's largest mass extinction was probably caused by poisonous volcanic gas, according to research published today." (Imperial College London)

Oh dear... "Make parks off limits to smokers" - "No community would stand for DDT being sprayed around jungle gyms and ballfields where children play because of the pesticide's link to cancer. So why do people tolerate cigarette smoke — a proven carcinogen — wafting around jungle gyms and baseball diamonds where children congregate? Last month, the Kennesaw City Council asked itself that question and decided that it would no longer allow smoking in its city parks because of the health dangers." (AJC)

DDT ain't linked to human cancer, dopey! Then again, there's nothing like proof ETS constitutes a problem either, especially not outdoors.

"Swiss Women Sue New York Hotel Over Bedbugs" - "NEW YORK - Hotels offer many amenities, but being eaten by bedbugs should not be one of them, say two Swiss women suing a prominent Manhattan hotel." (Reuters)

So? DDT'll fix the problem, stop whinging and start spraying.

"Media Break Rules for Green Groups" - "Zonyl is what keeps that yellow buttery goo from working its way to your lap even through five commercials, eight previews, and the feature film. "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." But how about "Fool me always?" That's the mainstream media's relationship with self-styled "environmental" and "consumer" activist groups. And you wonder to what extent the media are being fooled – as opposed to simply repeating what they want to believe." (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

"Acetaminophen forms toxics during wastewater chlorination" - "Disinfection of wastewater can lead to the formation of unwelcome byproducts from pharmaceuticals." (ES&T)

"Food subsidies are damaging health" - "Overproduction of food in rich countries is fuelling health problems worldwide, argues a public health expert from Sweden in this week's BMJ. Globally, we are producing more food than the population needs, writes Professor Liselotte Schafer-Elinder. Subsidising overproduction in developed nations is leading to excessive consumption and obesity. It is also undermining agriculture in the developing world, hindering the eradication of hunger and poverty." (BMJ-British Medical Journal)

"Iron-rich rice improves iron status of women" - "For the past decade, plant breeders have been trying to boost the vitamin and mineral content of rice and other staples through traditional plant breeding and genetic engineering. But the foods have never been tested to see if they actually improve the health of the people who eat them." (Cornell University News Service)

"Barley gene confers salt tolerance in transgenic oat" - "Researchers at Michigan State University in the U.S. have successfully introduced the HVA1 stress tolerance gene from barley into oat plants." (Meridian Institute)

"EU Eyes WTO Case to Drive Policy Forward on GMO’s" - "BRUSSELS - Senior EU policymakers are unclear where they stand on genetically modified (GMO) foods even after years of debate and are looking to a world trade ruling that may dictate where to move next, diplomats say." (Reuters)

December 1, 2005

"UN examines prospect for climate-change litigation" - "LONDON - Companies which contribute to climate change will increasingly face legal action, law firm Freshfields said on Wednesday, launching U.N.-sponsored research which highlights investors' environmental responsibilities. "Twenty or thirty years ago you were looking at the beginning of tobacco litigation," Freshfields lawyer Paul Watchman said. "There's going to be a whole host of (climate-change) actions ... we might look to do that kind of thing." London-based Freshfields was launching with Dutch bank ABN Amro a report produced for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) which said that institutional investors were obliged to consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) issue"s. (Reuters)

Two days! "Failing ocean current raises fears of mini ice age" - "The ocean current that gives western Europe its relatively balmy climate is stuttering, raising fears that it might fail entirely and plunge the continent into a mini ice age." (NewScientist.com news service) | Atlantic currents show signs of weakening (Nature)

That's how long since we posed the rhetorical question "Oh, and no calls please, we are well aware that Europe's weather differs from Hudson Bay mostly due to topography (mountain ranges deforming wind streams, etc.) but the media isn't, so just let it ride and see how long before such items / releases / new 'studies' turn up, eh?" Actually, there was no particular trick to 'foreseeing' this - another irrelevant CoP, another stupid scare...

Sure have to give these guys points for flexibility though - lately there has been some heavy-duty reporting on how hot Europe has been in recent years and here, seemingly without pausing for breath, we have reports of 'failing' Atlantic Conveyor supposedly pitching Europe into another ice age.

Let's have a quick look. If slowing AC cools Europe (it allegedly transports enough tropical warmth to add 5-10 °C to Europe's temps) and the AC has slowed ~30%, supposedly since 1992, then a European temperature series should show decline, no? And there is probably no series more dependent on Atlantic wind temperature than the UK's Central England Temperature, right? So, if the AC controls Euro temp hypothesis holds and the AC is slowing/has slowed ~30%, then our max temps should be pre-1992 and declining since, true? Which were the warmest years in the CET since 1950? The winners are:

1990; 1999; 2002; 1997; 1995; 1989; 2003; 1959; 2004; 1998.

Oops! Even if we assume the last possible year for the slowdown to have occurred (1998) we still find half our 'top 10' of the last 55 years to have been supposedly without the aid of almost a third of AC heat transport. This suggests either the allegation of AC slowdown is mistaken or the AC is one lousy predictor of Euro temps (which is true, for example see Seager, et al, "Is the Gulf Stream responsible for Europe's mild winters?" [.pdf] Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 128(586): 2563-2586).

What other explanation, besides AGW hand wringing, offers itself for the apparent anomaly in this interesting current? One which leaps to mind, and which is temporally attractive, is an Atlantic phase shift C1995 - the same one responsible for heightened Atlantic Basin storm activity beginning at the same time. A warm Atlantic Oscillation phase could affect the AC, is not conflicted by heightened Atlantic Basin storm activity and does not conflict with apparent recent European temperatures. This does not, of course, suit the cop mop-tops and so most media will continue to pretend AGW threatens the AC, which threatens Europe.

Still at it: "UN Climate Conference Finalizes 'Rule Book' on Reducing Greenhouse Gasses" - "The United Nations Climate Change Conference today voted to finalize the 'rule book' of the Kyoto Protocol, putting into concrete form the 1997 landmark treaty designed to curb the greenhouse gas emissions that have been determined to cause global warming." (Press Release) [em added]

No, no and no! Just because they are determined to create a crisis and blame industrialisation for it simply does not mean greenhouse gases have been determined to cause warming, that's still a poorly supported hypothesis.

Much of global warming might be natural after all, senior scientists admit: "Climate: past ranges and future changes" - "Abstract: Comparison of large-scale temperature reconstructions over the past millennium reveals agreement on major climatic episodes, but substantial divergence in reconstructed (absolute) temperature amplitude. We here detail several research priorities to overcome this 'amplitude desideratum', and discuss the relevance of this effort for the prediction of future temperature changes and the meaning of the Kyoto protocol." (Quaternary Science Reviews)

"US rejects Blair's climate hopes" - "The US has dismissed a suggestion from UK Prime Minister Tony Blair that it may be prepared to sign up to binding targets to tackle climate change." (BBC)

"China Urges U.S. to Join Kyoto Treaty" - "MONTREAL - China - one of the world's major polluters - urged the U.S. to join the Kyoto treaty Wednesday, rejecting arguments that the pact is flawed because it fails to restrict emissions by developing countries." (Associated Press)

China would like to see a less-competitive US? Imagine that...

"U.S. "Moving Forward" in Commitment to Slowing Climate Change" - 'Kyoto-like agreement not necessary to reduce emissions, U.S. official says." (Washington File)

"Russian Scientist Suggests Burning Sulfur in Stratosphere to Fight Global Warming" - "Renowned Russian scientist Yuri Israel, the head of the Global Climate and Ecology Institute, has written in a letter to President Putin that global warming requires immediate action and suggests burning thousands of tons of sulfur in the stratosphere as a remedy." (MosNews)

Way to go, Yuri! High-sulphur jet fuel will, um, 'fix' the, ah, 'problem.'

"Forests urged as new front in global warming fight" - "MONTREAL - Forest preservation should be the new front in the fight against global warming with Third World nations earning cash for protecting trees, tropical countries told a UN climate conference on Wednesday. "The present state of affairs is untenable," Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica wrote in a proposal backed by seven other developing nations, complaining that they lacked incentives to slow logging or forest clearance for farming." (Reuters)

"US Pressures EU Over Aviation Emissions Trading" - "BRUSSELS - The United States is stepping up pressure on the European Union to keep US airlines out of the EU emissions trading scheme if a recent proposal to include the high-polluting aviation sector becomes reality." (Reuters)

"EU Emission Trading Comes of Age, Not so in US" - "MONTREAL - Europe's carbon trading market has evolved into a multibillion-euro force in its first year under Kyoto, but the United States will not develop such a robust market without commitments to cut emissions, trade experts said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"Climate march, but will it work?" - "Going on the climate change protest this Saturday is like marching for niceness - and just as ineffectual." (Catherine Bennett, The Guardian)

"UK, Norway Sign Deal to Cut North Sea Carbon Emissions" - "Mr. Malcolm Wicks, the British Energy Minister, and Mr. Odd Roger Enoksen, the Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy, signed a joint declaration on geological storage of CO2. This joint declaration demonstrates the mutual commitment and close relationship between the UK and Norway in the field of carbon capture and storage, Minister Enoksen says. - We have agreed to set up a North Sea Basin Task Force with the aim to develop comprehensive, common principles as a basis for regulating CO2 storage in the North Sea." (Rig Zone)

Enviros still trying to block energy production: "Targets missed due to the oilsands?" - " Canada won’t be able to meet Kyoto targets unless oilsands companies cut emissions drastically, says a report by an environmental think-tank. The Pembina Institute’s projections show annual emissions of greenhouse gases from the oilsands jumping more than threefold between 2003 and 2012, and fivefold between 2003 and 2020. ‘‘Oilsands are the elephant in Canada’s climate change room,’’ said Marlo Raynolds, executive director, in a news release Tuesday. “Canada cannot assume its international responsibilities unless there is a radical reduction in the greenhouse gas footprint of this industry,” he said. The Kyoto protocol requires that Canada cuts greenhouse gas emissions six per cent below 1990 levels. The institute’s report notes the oilsands alone could be responsible for up to 47 per cent of any growth in emissions for all of Canada between 2003 and 2010 if the country makes no attempt to control emissions." (Fort McMurray Today)

"Industrialized nations burn Asia's future: Greenpeace" - "Industrialized countries must stop exporting climate change to developing countries if social, economic and environmental disaster is to be averted, according to a new Greenpeace report on the power sector in Asia and its impacts on the climate. The report is published on Wednesday to mark the arrival of its flagship the Rainbow Warrior in Bangkok on the final leg of its Asia Energy Revolution Tour." (India Infoline News)

Well, better a power provider than a reef basher, eh guys?

"On the spot: protest backfires" - "Andrew Ellson, Times Online business correspondent, says the green activists who disrupted the CBI conference today handed Tony Blair a public relations coup." (London Times)

"Nuclear power is good - in Finland" - "The island of Olkiluoto in the Gulf of Bothnia, off the west coast of Finland, is famous for two things. It has a medieval castle, which was once a base for pirates, and it is also home to the first nuclear power station to be built since the disaster at Chernobyl.

The Finns no longer want to rely on gas from neighbouring Russia to heat their 1.5 million saunas, and are laying the foundations for the world's most powerful plant. They have a neat and well-thought-out plan. Local paper makers and chemical manufacturers, which are desperate for a constant stream of electricity, will pick up the £2 billion bill. They will then take all the juice the plant produces when it is finished in four years' time. The nuclear waste will be kept on the island, where there is a 100m-deep repository. The locals are delighted by the idea, and underbid another town for the contract to bury the bright yellow barrels." (London Telegraph)

"Biofuel imports anger farmers" - "For U.S. agriculture, the energy gold rush is on, and Minnesota's pioneering biodiesel and ethanol producers are in the thick of it. But suddenly, they have foreign competition. A ship loaded with South American biodiesel pulled into a Florida port this month, and immediately qualified for a new U.S. biodiesel tax break. For the homegrown biofuels industry, it was a shocking notice that their domestic market had gone global." (Pioneer Press)

The bleat is on: "Rx for a Planetary Fever" - "News of the War on Terror and high oil prices continue to dominate today's headlines. But as Ross Gelbspan points out in his book "Boiling Point," these issues pale in the face of the looming threat posed by global climate change. What's more, many of these issues have their roots in climate change, and a change for the better in this regard could render these other issues null." (Ross Gelbspan, The Globalist)

See you still haven't got things sorted with Pulitzer yet Ross, odd that your claimed prize doesn't show up in their winners search.

"Media's eco-stories 'too gloomy'" - "The world's media has been criticised for being too negative in its reporting of environmental issues. Continual coverage of destruction was making people switch off, delegates at the International Media and Environment Summit (Imes) in Kuching, Malaysia, were told. "We keep crying wolf and we keep overstating the doomsday scenario," said Ong Keng Yong, the Secretary General of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean). "It will not serve the cause of protecting the environment." (BBC)

Desperate search for relevance? "Sierra Club's new tack: not every development is a bad use of land" - "The Sierra Club is well-known for trying to stop big real estate development projects. But in a move that could help it gain new allies, the United States' best-known environmental group is starting to go to bat for some builders." (Globe and Mail)

"Lawsuits Won't Stop Pandemics" - "On Nov. 2 -- in response to the growing threat of bird flu -- President Bush released a "National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza." One component of the plan surprised and angered lawmakers: "The administration is seeking to remove one of the greatest obstacles to domestic vaccine production -- the growing burden of litigation . . . Congress must pass liability protection for the makers of life-saving vaccines." Democrats sensed foul play; the president was offering a gift to pharmaceutical companies, thanking them for supporting his campaign. Now companies would be able to cut corners and make even larger profits, free from the supervision of the courts if their vaccines caused harm. A spokesperson for Sen. Henry Reid said, "We don't need to throw out important consumer protections to address problems in our vaccine supply."

Was Bush merely rewarding his friends? Or did vaccine makers really need protection from litigation? The answer can be found in the recent track records of vaccine makers and personal-injury lawyers." (Paul A Offit, The Wall Street Journal)

"Let's end the sham debate about MMR right here" - "The divergence between scientific and public opinion is the key to the dogged persistence of the autism controversy." (Michael Fitzpatrick, The Guardian)

"Work Restarts on UK Animal Test Site After Protests" - "LONDON - Building work restarted on Wednesday on Oxford University's 20 million pound ($34 million) animal testing centre after a 16 month hiatus caused by animal rights protests." (Reuters)

"Coffee jump-starts short-term memory" - "CHICAGO - For the first time, researchers have demonstrated that caffeine modulates short-term working memory. The study was presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA)." (Radiological Society of North America)

"PCBs, furans may factor in risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma" - "Scientists have found some additional evidence that environmental exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) may be associated with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, according to a study published in the December 1 issue of Cancer Research." (American Association for Cancer Research)

Probably should read: "Very Small Study Provides Vague Hint" but, oh well...

"Fast-food 'healthy options' still full of fat and salt" - "Healthy options offered by burger and pizza chains are still stuffed with salt and fat despite menu changes. An investigation of the food sold by the "big four" - McDonald's, Burger King, KFC and Pizza Hut - found that 17 of 20 products were high in salt or saturated fat or both. Of those, five out of eight of the salads used as "evidence" of their embrace of healthy eating had "high" salt or fat content." (London Independent)

So what? Anyone confusing Maccas with a health food store probably shouldn't be at large without a keeper anyway.

"Overproducing Leptin Receptors in Fat Cells Key to Halting Weight Gain" - "A new study by researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center suggests that when fat cells increase in size – as they do during the development of obesity – the cells progressively lose receptors for the hormone leptin, a powerful stimulus for fat burning." (Newswise)

"Cloned beef on the menu" - "SHANGHAI expects to clone "good quality" cattle for food in the next few years, officials of the Shanghai Agricultural Commission said yesterday. They said improvements in cloning technology mean cloned cows may even taste better than natural cows. More importantly, they will be safe to eat, experts said. A group of Shanghai researchers have for the first time cloned six goats, using cells from the ears of two different species of goat. It's the first step before beef from a cloned cow reaches dinner tables." (Shanghai Daily)

"Denmark to tax farmers of GM crops" - "DEPENDING on your point of view, it's either a neat ruse to help keep genetically modified crops out of Europe, or an unfair barrier to farmers who want to benefit from GM technology." (New Scientist)

"Eat To Live: Get used to 'Frankenfood'" - "However much opponents of "Frankenfood" (the gleeful nickname for genetically altered foods) may wish to eliminate Genetically Modified foodstuffs once and for all, it becomes increasingly clear that their control of the battle is slowly seeping away." (UPI)

"Cuban biotechnology features 38 important products" - "CUBA is experiencing an "explosion" in the biotechnology field, affirmed Dr. Carlos Borroto, deputy director of the Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Center (CIGB), during a recent scientific conference in Havana, to which dozens of U.S. experts were denied travel authorization and were therefore unable to attend." (Granma International)