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Archives - February 2003

February 28, 2003

"Consumer Watchdog: Vinyl Toys Are Just Ducky" - "The Consumer Product Safety Commission did the right thing last week in ruling rubber duckies and other vinyl toys pose "no demonstrated health risk" to children. This should end a long-running controversy contrived by environmental extremists." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"The case of the mute scientists" - "Science — today and every day — is under assault. The assailants are members of the media, trial lawyers, self-appointed consumer-activists and environmentalists. The science being mutilated pertains to a wide spectrum of health topics — including "facts" on the purported health hazards around us, including acrylamide (a chemical formed in cooking high-carbohydrate foods), breast implants, PCBs, phthalates (plasticizers), aspartame (Nutrasweet), Olestra (Procter & Gamble's doomed fat substitute). In these instances — and so many more — outright blatant misrepresentations of the available science are made, health hazards that do not exist are claimed and picked up by the news media, and ultimately by lawyers intoxicated with the possibility of a cash reward in court from a corporate deep pocket." (Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan, Washington Times)

"Science on the Rocks" - "The current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) carries a lead article and accompanying editorial that are long on advocacy, short on data. The topic: alcohol consumption in America, who is drinking how much — and how much is too much." (Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan, ACSH)

"Common cleaning chemical linked to male infertility: study" - "KINGSTON, ONTARIO - A chemical used widely in industry and present in ground water supplies in some areas has been found in the semen of infertile men. A study by Canadian and American researchers found trichloroethylene (TCE) in the semen of male mechanics. TCE is a de-greaser used in automotive and metal industries. It is also a common ingredient in lubricants, paints, varnishes, pesticides and cleaning fluids." (CBC News)

TCE is systemically present in high-volume users, hardly a major surprise. Of greater interest is whether it is similarly present in fertile mechanics. If so, is there a definable dose-response curve? If not, why are infertile mechanics demonstrating detectable levels? Is it relevant at all?

"Pesticide poisoning tied to asthma symptoms" - "FOZ DO IGUAÇU, Brazil - Pesticide poisoning substantially increases the risk of developing asthma symptoms, or having existing symptoms worsen, according to a study presented here this week at the 27th International Congress on Occupational Health." (Reuters Health)

"Map Links Healthier Ecosystems, Indigenous Peoples" - "Central America and southern Mexico's forests and marine resources have been dwindling for decades. Now there's evidence that the scope of destruction depends on who uses the land and water. A new map shows that natural ecosystems have a better chance of survival when indigenous people inhabit them." (National Geographic News)

Actually, it seems to map a lack of development, poverty, disease, malnourishment...

"Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute Make Strides in Addressing Mysteries of Ozone in the Human Body" - "La Jolla, CA. February 27, 2003—In what is a first for biology, a team of investigators at The Scripps Research Institute is reporting that the human body makes ozone.

Led by TSRI President Richard Lerner, Ph.D. and Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry Paul Wentworth, Jr, Ph.D., who made the original discovery, the team has been slowly gathering evidence over the last few years that the human body produces the reactive gas—most famous as the ultraviolet ray-absorbing component of the ozone layer—as part of a mechanism to protect it from bacteria and fungi.

"Ozone was a big surprise," says TSRI Professor Bernard Babior, M.D., Ph.D. "But it seems that biological systems manufacture ozone, and that ozone has an effect on those biological systems." (TSRI)

"Fossil Records Show Methane in Seafloor Sediments Released During Periods of Rapid Climate Warming" - "Scientists have found new evidence indicating that during periods of rapid climate warming methane gas has been released periodically from the seafloor in intense eruptions. In a study published in the current issue of the journal Science, Kai-Uwe Hinrichs and colleagues Laura Hmelo and Sean Sylva of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) provide a direct link between methane reservoirs in coastal marine sediments and the global carbon cycle, an indicator of global warming and cooling." (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

"Extreme weather on the rise, likely to get worse, says report" - "LONDON — The world has experienced unusually extreme weather in recent decades, and economic losses from storms and other catastrophes have increased tenfold, an independent research group reported Thursday. The World Water Council said more intense rainy seasons, longer dry seasons, stronger storms, and rising sea levels had helped cause an increasing number of disastrous floods and droughts." (Associated Press)

Compared with... ?

"NSF chooses alternative method to refuel its main Antarctic research station" - "The cumulative effects of at least two years of unusual ice conditions in McMurdo Sound are keeping a fuel tanker from reaching the pier at the National Science Foundation's (NSF) McMurdo Station, where it normally would deliver the fuel to keep the U.S. Antarctic Program operating through the approaching austral winter and into the next research season." (NSF)

"U.S. Seeking Cleaner Model of Coal Plant" - "The Energy Department yesterday announced plans to build an experimental power plant within 10 years that runs on coal but emits no carbon dioxide, the heat-trapping greenhouse gas that makes coal plants major contributors to global warming. The project, called FutureGen, is considered a first step toward creating a generation of coal-fueled power plants that emit no greenhouse gases and cost no more than 10 percent extra to run, department officials said. The technology is essential, said Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, if the vast coal reserves in the United States and in many developing countries are to be used without adding to the atmosphere's burden of greenhouse gases." (New York Times)

"Emission credits to curb Denmark's CO2 pollution" - "COPENHAGEN - Denmark said this week it would reach its target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by buying emission credits from central and eastern Europe." (Reuters)

"NY utility to buy 45 fuel cells, some for homes" - "NEW YORK - The Long Island Power Authority this week said it would buy 45 fuel cells this year as part of Governor George Pataki's goal of supplying 25 percent of New York's electricity with alternative energy within 10 years." (Reuters)

"US farmers see ethanol as substitute to foreign oil" - "CHARLOTTE, N.C. - As oil prices continue to rise, legislation that would triple U.S. ethanol production was expected to dominate this week's meeting of two major farm groups. Some 3,000 members of the National Corn Growers and the American Soybean Association will gather yesterday for an annual meeting focused on U.S. renewable fuels as well as traditional topics such as corn and soybean prices." (Reuters)

"UK energy policy could hurt British industry-EIUG" - "LONDON - Britain's big industrial energy users said this week higher gas and power prices, resulting from government measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions, could hit their ability to compete in world markets. Lobby group Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG) said that unless other countries followed similar policies to those outlined by the UK government in a white paper earlier this week, the impact on British industry could be devastating." (Reuters)

"Thailand to allow GMO field tests" - "BANGKOK - Thailand said yesterday it will allow field testing of genetically modified crops but continue to ban bio-engineered products from being sold. Thailand currently bans the import of genetically modified food and other products and only allows testing of bio-engineered cotton seed in laboratories." (Reuters)

"Govt to set up panels to study GM food" - "NEW DELHI: Taking the first step towards a policy on genetically-modified food, the government had its first inter-ministerial consultations on the issue Wednesday. It's decided to set up sub-committees to examine the different issues. Chaired by Sushma Choudhary, new genetic engineering approval committee (GEAC) chief and additional secretary in the environment ministry, the meeting was attended by representatives from the ministries of external affairs, agriculture, food processing, commerce, industry and biotechnology as well as the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)." (Times of India)

"Public 'not fundamentally opposed' to GM crops" - "The public trust neither the government nor the biotechnology industry over the introduction of genetically modified crops - but they are not fundamentally opposed to the technology, official research has shown. People fear businesses could be the only winners from commercialisation of GM technology in Britain, according to research carried out for the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Council, the official government watchdog for the GM industry." (Financial Times)

"EU States Opposing GM Cite Lack of Crop Mix Rules" - "BRUSSELS - A call by several EU states for tighter rules to prevent gene-modified seeds from contaminating other crops may be their next tactic to delay an end to the bloc's virtual ban on GM food, officials said on Thursday." (Reuters)

"Senators, Organic Industry, Resist New Biotech Corn" - "WASHINGTON, DC, February 27, 2003 - As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approves a new genetically engineered corn for sale, members of Congress and the organic farm industry are working to keep that corn from ending up as feed for animals raised on organic farms." (ENS)

February 27, 2003

"The FDA Puts Acrylamide in Perspective " - "Last spring, über-food-cop Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) complained that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had been "strangely silent about acrylamide." Yesterday the FDA spoke up, but it didn't warn "consumers to avoid or cut back [on] french fries" like Jacobson wanted. Instead, as the Associated Press reports, the FDA counseled Americans: "Don't change your diet." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Toxins made by peat" - "Humans have been putting highly toxic chemicals into the environment by burning peat for centuries, scientists say. Today, large amounts of these dioxins are released from waste incinerators, but research shows we have been exposed to these toxins since even before the industrial revolution." (BBC News Online)

"Fears for babies after pesticide found in food" - "Spinach from Asda and six samples of baby food have been found to contain worrying levels of pesticide residues in the latest government tests. But British carrots are now clear of organophosphate residues which have been a major problem in the past. Spanish spinach from Asda tested by the pesticide residues committee exceeded legal and safety limits. Residues of the pesticide methomyl were found at 240% of the safety level for toddlers and 150% of that for adults." (The Guardian)

"Toxic Shock Syndrome" - "Toxicology may sound like the most boring of subjects, but it governs most of the environmental laws and regulations on the books. Thus if it miscalculates, society may spend billions too much to clean up toxic substances. Indeed, it may be possible to save billions without jeopardizing health - and even improving health - by loosening overly strict standards." (Herbert Inhaber, TCS)

"Cannabis can cause 'vanishing lung syndrome', say doctors" - "Regular cannabis smoking was blamed yesterday by doctors for causing a rise in a debilitating disease known as "vanishing lung syndrome". Doctors treating respiratory illnesses in people aged 25 to 40 are increasingly finding the condition, associated with tobacco smoking, in patients who have seldom, if ever, smoked normal cigarettes." (Independent)

"SPECIAL REPORT: Impaired Number-Crunchers " - "If you and your significant other share a bottle of wine during dinner, you are an "excessive" drinker. That's the latest message from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University and its president, former Carter Administration cabinet member Joseph Califano. CASA's anti-alcohol "research" and its laughable conclusions appear in the latest issue of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Jews outraged by ad linking animal slaughter to Holocaust" - "Jewish leaders are appalled by a controversial new ad campaign that likens the slaughtering of farm animals to the calculated execution of six million Holocaust victims. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a vocal animal rights group notorious for its outrageous publicity stunts, is touring North America with gigantic posters that depict the supposed similarities between Nazi death camps and present-day factory farms. But Jewish organizations say the campaign -- titled Holocaust on Your Plate -- belittles millions of murders in an attempt to shame a few meat eaters into vegetarianism." (National Post)

"PETA Wants Beer As Wis. State Beverage" - "MADISON, Wis.--People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wants Gov. Jim Doyle to change Wisconsin's official beverage from milk to beer, saying milk is harmful to humans and is meant for calves. PETA said in a letter to Doyle Tuesday that beer is healthier than cow's milk, which the group argued could cause heart disease, cancer, allergies, diabetes and obesity." (AP)

"Climate change: Somebody's fault" - "Insurance companies take refuge in the term 'act of God' for catastrophes they cannot be expected to have foreseen, and for which nobody is to blame. A local flood cannot be linked via climate trends to a specific power station that provided the CO2 to tip the global warming balance. But, argues Myles Allen, in theory science could identify the contribution of a single vehicle to an increase in probability of a particular climate event. And the oil companies could be sued for the damage. Could society cope?" (Nature)

"Rivers benefit as global warming pushes large glaciers into retreat" - "South Island rivers are benefiting from melting glaciers caused by global warming, but the extra flows will not last forever, warns a glacier expert. National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research consultant glaciologist Trevor Chinn, who watches the country's 3140 glaciers, said many of the South Island's largest were retreating rapidly." (NZPA)

"Early explorers' journals throw cold water on global warming theory" - "OTTAWA -- Data compiled from the journals of early Arctic explorers casts doubt on the assumption that recent thinning of Arctic ice is the result of human-induced climate change. A Norwegian study using the explorers' ancient logbooks suggests that dramatic shrinkage of sea ice, widely cited as evidence for global warming in recent years, has occurred before. That doesn't necessarily prove that recent disappearance of sea ice is natural, but raises the possibility that it could be, researchers say. Adventurers of the 1700s, who took meticulous notes on their voyages, encountered ice conditions similar to those seen today, researcher Chad Dick said in an interview from Norway. "If you go back to the early 1700s you find that sea ice extent was about the same then as it is now," said Dick of the Arctic Climate Systems Study, an international research program." (CP)

"US legislation due this week on utility pollution" - "WASHINGTON - Legislation that would cut U.S. utilities' air emissions will be introduced in Congress this week, based on the Bush administration's proposal to let power plants trade pollution credits, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency said. EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman said she expected broad support in both the House of Representatives and Senate for a White House plan to reduce three pollutants from power plants by 2018." (Reuters)

"Spend more if you want to be green" - "The government must show a more tangible commitment to green power if it hopes to gain the backing of business for its energy white paper, bankers and leaders of the renewables industry warn today. A meeting at Department of Trade and Industry headquarters will be told that the City still attaches significant political risk to "green" projects, despite Tony Blair giving it strong backing on Monday." (The Guardian)

"BELOW-REPLACEMENT FERTILITY EXPECTED IN 75 PER CENT OF DEVELOPING COUNTRIES BY YEAR 2050 ACCORDING TO UN POPULATION REPORT" - "NEW YORK, 26 February (UN Population Division) -- The newly released 2002 Revision of the official United Nations population estimates and projections breaks new ground in terms of the assumptions made on future human fertility and the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. For the first time, the United Nations Population Division projects that future fertility levels in most developing countries will likely fall below 2.1 children per woman, the level needed to ensure the long-term replacement of the population, at some point in the twenty-first century. By 2050, the medium variant of the 2002 Revision projects that three out of every four countries in the less developed regions will be experiencing below-replacement fertility." (Media Release)

"Activist Gets 10 Months Jail for GM Crop Attack" - "MONTPELLIER, France - A court Thursday ordered radical French farmer Jose Bove to spend 10 months in prison for damaging fields of genetically modified (GM) crops in his battle against junk food and globalization." (Reuters)

"EU: Byrne GM move blocked by EU Member States" - "A move by European Union (EU) health and consumer affairs commissioner David Byrne to kick-start preparations to lift the five year de-facto moratorium on genetically modified organism imports into the EU has been blocked by Germany, France, Greece, Belgium, Luxembourg and Austria." (just-food.com)

"The risks of modified wheat" - "Western farmers facing drought and bad prices could lose markets if Monsanto's wheat is allowed." (Stewart Wells and Holly Penfound, Toronto Star)

February 26, 2003

"Liquor Industry and Scientists at Odds Over Alcohol Study" - "A study of excessive drinking that appears in today's issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association has started a saloon brawl of its own between the authors and the liquor industry, with each side accusing the other of manipulating the figures.

The study, by an institute affiliated with Columbia University, concludes that half the alcohol purchased in the United States is sold to teenagers or people who drink too much.

The study, which is the journal's lead article, is couched more as a political statement than as a dry recitation of numbers. It ends with an attack on the liquor industry, calling for higher taxes, antidrinking publicity campaigns and tougher sentences for those who sell to minors." (New York Times)

"CASA's alcohol abuse" - "Last we heard from Joseph Califano, it was a year ago and the former health czar under Jimmy Carter was touting a study on under-age drinking conducted by his Columbia University research center. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), fully 25 percent of all alcohol consumed in the United States was by teen-agers. It was stunning news — and wrong. Mr. Califano's organization had more than doubled the statistic. When called on this deception by the New York Times, CASA's director of policy research said it was an "unfortunate" error, "but we think the 11.4 percent number is way too low, since there's so much underreporting." Given CASA's proven disdain for the facts, one would think a self-respecting publication might take pause at running another Califano-led study on drinking. But not so. The Journal of the American Medical Association carries another misleading CASA study." (Washington Times editorial)

"Agent Orange back in court" - "Is a 1984 settlement for vets final? The answer may impact other class-action suits.

WASHINGTON – The legal battle over the dangerous health effects of the chemical defoliant Agent Orange in the Vietnam War was supposed to end in 1984.

That year, ailing war veterans reached a settlement in which Dow Chemical and other companies agreed to pay $180 million into a fund to compensate those exposed to the toxic spray during the Southeast Asian conflict.

But now, 19 years later, lawyers are trying to reopen the massive class-action litigation because there is no money left in the fund to care for war veterans who are only now showing symptoms of diseases believed linked to Agent Orange exposure." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Bedbugs Develop Resistance to Insecticide-Treated Bed-Nets" - "A team of British and Tanzanian researchers have discovered that bedbugs are developing resistance to the insecticide used to treat the bed-nets that provide protection against malaria-transmitting mosquitoes. The researchers are concerned that the spread of such resistance could reduce the willingness of villagers to use bed-nets, which have been found to be a highly effective and cost-efficient way of controlling malaria, particularly among young children." (New Vision (Kampala))

"Large human mad cow epidemic is unlikely, say scientists" - "LONDON — A major epidemic in Britain of the human version of mad cow disease is unlikely, scientists said Wednesday, reducing their own previous estimates of potential future cases and deaths from 50,000 to 7,000. The new estimates are based on mortality figures for the disease to the end of 2001 and do not include a decrease in 2002 deaths, so the number is likely to be even lower." (Reuters)

"The Future Of Food Lawsuits" - " He has yet to win a single obesity-related lawsuit, but his royal litigiousness John Banzhaf is already planning for the next one -- and the one after that. The Sacramento Bee says Banzhaf has begun a "brainstorming offensive" and is now considering ambulance-chasing exercises against school boards and milk producers." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

Well, it's almost Patagonian sheep... "UV blinds barnacles; Thinning ozone cuts ocean's sunscreen" - "Intensifying ultraviolet radiation is blinding barnacle larvae, researchers have found, threatening their survival and potentially disrupting entire coastal ecosystems." (NSU)

"Experts Fault Bush Plan to Study Climate" - "A panel of experts has strongly criticized the Bush administration's proposed research plan on the risks of global warming, saying that it "lacks most of the elements of a strategic plan" and that its goals cannot be achieved without far more money than the White House has sought for climate research." (New York Times)

"A Tiny 'Early Warning' of Global Warming's Effect" - "A shy, flower-gathering mammal and longtime icon of the West's high peaks may be the first animal in North America to fall victim to global warming. Pikas — tennis ball-sized critters that whistle at passing hikers and scamper over loose, rocky slopes of the High Sierra and the Rocky Mountains — have disappeared from nearly 30% of the areas where they were common in the early parts of the 20th century, according to a study released Tuesday." (Los Angeles Times)

"Russia urged to rescue Kyoto pact" - "February 26: Pressure on Russia to ratify the Kyoto protocol is intensifying amid fears in the European Union that Moscow may scupper the agreement to combat climate change by refusing to sanction it." (The Guardian)

There's hope. After all, Russia has nothing to gain and everything to lose if Kyoto comes into force. Consider, if Kyoto is ratified, Russia's massive proven and largely undeveloped oil reserves lose significant value, a loss that certainly will not be negated by the sale of hot air certificates as the country continues its laboured recovery and industry gathers pace. And even if the Earth-in-a-toaster brigade are even part right Russia stands to gain much from warming (much of the "warming" of the last century is actually that the Siberian super-cold air mass has been slightly less cold - no big deal but raises the mean temperature, hence the world is "warming.") Would Russians really mind having winters less bitter? Would they complain about longer growing seasons? The longer the Holocene persists, the more likely Russia will be able to keep Artic shipping moving year round. In short, why should they help destroy the economies of the very countries to whom they expect to export their increased agricultural bounty - not to mention their oil, while trying to prevent that which would be advantageous to them?

"We're Kyoto bound, come hell or hot air" - "Anybody remember Kyoto? Considering how hot the rhetoric got last year, the silence since the House of Commons formally approved the Kyoto Protocol is nothing short of deafening. The thing's a done deal in Ottawa, and now it's awfully quiet out there. A key factor in the surreal silence is the recognition that the person who will lead us in actually implementing the treaty is not the current Prime Minister, but rather, someone sitting out a short term as a back-bench MP." (Globe and Mail)

"Most of North America Fails to Board 20th-Century Climate Catastrophe Train" - "Summary: Climate alarmists claim global warming will lead to large increases in deadly hot weather events. They also claim the last hundred years saw the earth warm at a rate that was unprecedented over the past millennium. Hence, there should have been a huge increase in debilitating heat waves over the past century. Right?" (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"ENSO (Model Inadequacies)" - "Summary: State-of-the-art climate model simulations of ENSO present a distorted view of reality, which suggests they could well be missing the mark in other important areas as well." (co2science.org)

"Rubisco (Grassland Species)" - "Summary: A review of some of the recent literature demonstrates that increases in the air's CO2 content often cause reductions in the amount and/or activity of the photosynthetic enzyme rubisco found in grassland plants without completely negating CO2-induced increases in their rates of photosynthesis." (co2science.org)

Current Journal Reviews:
"Coastal Southern Greenland Temperature History: 1958-2001" - "Summary: What does it tell us about the potential melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet in a slightly warming world? Geophysical Research Letters 30: 10.1029/2002GL015797" (co2science.org)

"Reconstructions of Spring Precipitation in Southwestern Turkey from 1339 to 1998" - "Summary: What can they tell us about climate-alarmist claims that CO2-induced global warming will lead to more frequent and more extreme droughts and floods? International Journal of Climatology 23: 157-171." (co2science.org)

"Fine green words - but without a curb on car use, the policy is unsustainable" - "As far as the rhetoric goes, the Government's new energy policy is just about as green as green can be. It must be an unfamiliar feeling for Tony Blair to be praised by Friends of the Earth, but yesterday almost the entire environmental lobby found something complimentary to say about Mr Blair's speech and the White Paper on energy policy. What is happening?" (Independent)

"US and China join fusion project" - "China and the US are officially joining the largest international science project of the next decade - excepting the International Space Station. The project is the latest stage in the quest to develop fusion power - the energy source of the Sun and other stars. Advocates say it could be cheap and environmentally friendly, though very expensive and time-consuming to develop." (BBC News Online)

"The tide is high" - "One day, fresh water could be as valuable as oil. Is privatisation the best way to manage the shortage? Next month's World Water Forum will decide" (Maude Barlow, The Guardian)

"Monsanto biotech corn wins regulatory approval" - "KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Monsanto Co. said yesterday it had received final regulatory approval for a new biotech corn designed to fight rootworm, and seed would be marketed in time for spring planting in the United States. Both Monsanto and members of the U.S. corn growing industry have been eagerly awaiting the regulatory approval, with Monsanto seeing the new product as a significant addition to its growing stable of biotech crops." (Reuters)

"E.P.A. Approves the Use of Monsanto's Altered Corn" - "The government announced yesterday that it had approved a type of genetically modified corn that it says could lead to a significant reduction in the use of toxic insecticides.

The approval was granted by the Environmental Protection Agency to a corn developed by Monsanto that is resistant to the corn rootworm. This soil-dwelling pest accounted for one out of seven applications of insecticide to all agricultural crops, according to the E.P.A. The resistant corn would require little or no chemicals." (New York Times)

"GM crops could help alleviate food shortage in Pakistan" - "LAHORE: The inaccessibility of cheap foodstuff means 70 percent of the country’s population faces a daily struggle to feed itself. And the increasing use of pesticides, herbicides and insecticides in agriculture is causing environmental pollution while increasing labour cost and decreasing yields.

A viable way to make agriculture less costly and more labour effective could be the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops. However, there are reservations about GM crops, and concerns that they could have harmful affects on vegetation and the people that consume them." (Pakistan Daily Times)

February 25, 2003

"A Toy Story" - "The Consumer Product Safety Commission did the right thing last week in ruling rubber duckies and other children's vinyl toys pose "no demonstrated health risk" to children. This should end a long-running controversy contrived by environmental extremists." (Steve Milloy, TechCentralStation.com)

"EPA Report Has Good, Bad News For Kids; Pollutant Exposure Falls, but Mercury Is Rising Concern" - "The exposure of American children to several harmful pollutants is declining, but asthma rates among children are increasing, the Environmental Protection Agency said yesterday. It said there is a "growing concern" about exposure to mercury by women of child-bearing age that could lead to adverse health consequences for any children they bear." (Washington Post)

"Bacterial infections alter allergic response" - "Researchers have found that early infection with the bacterium Mycoplasma pneumoniae reduced a mouse's subsequent response to allergens. The results suggest bacteria could help prevent asthma and other allergic diseases if an infection occurs before a person is sensitized to an allergen. The findings provide experimental support for the hygiene hypothesis, a proposed explanation for the worldwide rise in asthma and allergies." (National Jewish Medical and Research Center)

"UK: Cancer risk low decades after nuclear tests" - "LONDON - British veterans of nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific Ocean 50 years ago are no more likely to develop cancer overall than other men, but scientists said on Monday they may have an increased risk of leukaemia." (Reuters)

Gasp! "FDA: Nutritious Foods May Have Carcinogen" - "BELTSVILLE, Md. - French fries and potato chips have been dubbed villains when it comes to a possibly cancer-causing substance, but Americans get a lot of the chemical from everyday nutritious staples, government scientists said Monday. Fries and chips do contain more of the substance, called acrylamide, than other fried or baked foods. But foods with low acrylamide levels that are eaten more frequently than junk food — from vitamin-packed breakfast cereal to toast and coffee — have a big impact on the U.S. population's overall exposure to the possible carcinogens, the Food and Drug Administration concluded." (AP)

Groan... "How safe is our food?" - "YOU PROBABLY KNOW someone who buys only local, organically grown produce. She also prepares food with meticulous care -- washing her hands, scrubbing fruits and vegetables, cooking at the proper temperature, and never, ever, letting a dirty cutting board contaminate food. In other words, she's come to believe that food safety is her responsibility. But what about our government? Haven't we been told that the United States has the safest food supply in the world? Don't be so sure. Read Marion Nestle's new book, "Safe Food: Bacteria, Biotechnology, and Bioterrorism" (University of California, 2003) and those last 10 pounds may just melt away." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Take a toxic tour of your bathroom" - "Can your hairspray really play havoc with your hormones, or a pot of face cream cause cancer? There are a bewildering array of claims and counter-claims about the life-enhancing or toxic qualities of cosmetics that not only women but men and children, too, are using on a daily basis. While a large number of substances commonly used in toiletries have been found to cause cancer in rodents, disrupt hormones, or damage mucous membranes, the cosmetics industry's publicists insist that the concentrations of such substances fall way below the levels needed to cause us harm." (Diane Taylor, The Guardian)

"Risk to environment poses same dangers as terror, warns Blair" - "The destruction of the environment and global warming are as great a threat to world peace as terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, the prime minister said yesterday. In a speech which linked terrorism to global inequalities, Tony Blair took a sideswipe at his ally George Bush for tackling one and not the other. "There can be no lasting peace while there is appalling injustice and poverty," he said." (The Guardian)

Hmm... the cure for poverty is wealth creation, isn't it? Why then, if wishing to cure poverty, is the course a headlong rush to inhibit wealth creation by pursuing the misanthropic Kyoto Protocol? We all know that Kyoto could not significantly (or measurably) affect the rate or extent of climate change even were enhanced greenhouse eventually to prove a problem. There's simply no upside to this nonsense.

They've been given a sign: "Global Warning Signs" - "Global warming has its doubters who think that the concept of a superheated Earth is alarmist. A one-degree increase in temperature over the past century is not, they argue, a sign that the world as we know it is headed for extinction." (Hartford Courant)

"Climate Change, Where and When?" - "LONDON, Feb 24 - In all this talk of climate change, we hear almost nothing about where the climate will change, and how, and when. Difficult questions, but the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) will attempt to answer them as its fourth assessment review gets under way, the panel's chairperson Dr Rajendra Pachauri told IPS in an interview." (IPS)

"Greenhouse gases mean far hotter summers" - "THE world is heating up at the fastest rate for 10,000 years, and in the lifetime of today’s children British summers will be 6C warmer than now, according to scientific evidence of global warming presented by the Government yesterday." (The Times)

"Technically Unsound" - "Question: How can science prove that the apocalypse will happen in a century from now? Answer: Use models, introduce some small biases in the beginning and because of the logic of compounded interest one will surely end up with the apocalypse in due time." (Hans Labohm, TCS)

"Rainforest tree eats up 'pollution'" - "A botanist in Brazil has found a plant that he claims may hold the key to reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere." (BBC News Online)

"£55 a year - the cost of stopping global warming" - "HOUSEHOLDS will have to pay £55 a year more for gas and electricity as the price of curbing global warming under government proposals announced yesterday. The plans included more than doubling the number of windfarms, with around 5,000 more turbines being built. The Government will change planning laws to prevent windfarm plans being undermined by local objections." (The Times)

Each household taxed another £55 a year to fight the phantom menace and install more avian cuisinarts. How quaint.

"Who'd give a black duck for 'renewable' energies?" - "A little black duck living in Carmarthen Bay will be quackers with fear over the Government’s energy White Paper. Although, the Cabinet wisely refused to commit itself yesterday to the much-hyped target of generating a fifth of our energy by 2020 from so-called “renewables”, like waves and wind, it still presented a vision of our little island covered by giant wind-farms. But, the unpalatable truth about most “renewables” is that they are no more “green” than coal, oil, gas, or nuclear, which at least have the merit of working." (Philip Stott, The Times)

"UK unveils greener energy plans" - "The UK Government has unveiled plans for a switch towards cleaner forms of energy, and away from fossil fuels and nuclear power. The long-awaited Energy White Paper, published on Monday, spells out plans for radically cutting the pollution blamed for global warming." (BBC News Online)

"Blair stepped in to block plans for new nuclear power stations" - "Tony Blair intervened personally to block any commitment to building new nuclear power stations in yesterday's energy white paper, according to government insiders.

The prime minister - who yesterday hailed a "step change in the UK's energy strategy over the next 50 years" - also lent his backing to a new set of ambitious "green" energy targets.

Those targets could yet rebound on government. The commitment to cut carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2050 may be principally a headache for ministers not even born yet. But other goals in the white paper could fall short in the foreseeable future, not least the aim of increasing the share of energy from renewables to 20 per cent by 2020." (Financial Times)

"Five years for green power to prove its worth; Ministers throw down gauntlet on alternative to nuclear comeback" - "The government yesterday gave the renewable power industry five years to prove it can meet a growing share of Britain's energy needs - in effect leaving the back door open for the stricken nuclear industry to stage a comeback.

Green energy companies and environmental groups welcomed ministers' clear determination to meet ambitious targets to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 60% by 2050 without a revival of atomic power.

But they cautioned that the Treasury would have to commit substantially more funds if the industry was to gradually fill the energy gap, and warned that the government's decision to turn its target of 20% of power from renewables by 2020 into a mere "aspiration" would deter investment by the City." (The Guardian)

Today's moron feature: "Greenpeace shuts UK Esso stations, HQ" - "LONDON - Greenpeace activists, some dressed as tigers, forced the closure of Esso's British headquarters and 100 petrol stations yesterday as a protest against what it called the firm's "fuelling of the Iraq crisis".

About 300 Greenpeace volunteers began targeting stations from dawn yesterday, removing power switches that controlled pumps and locking pump nozzles together, a spokesman for the lobby group told Reuters.

"This is in response to their fuelling of the Iraq crisis and their funding of groups in Washington that are aggressively advocating an attack on Iraq as well as their stance on global warming." (Reuters)

"Supreme Court adds clean air case to fall docket" - "WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court said Monday that it would review a clean air case that asks when the federal government can overrule state decisions on environmental rules. The justices could use the dispute involving an Alaska mine to extend a line of rulings favoring states' rights. Alaska had urged the court to overturn an appeals court decision that sided with the Environmental Protection Agency in the regulation of the Red Dog mine." (Associated Press)

"North vs. South" - "While continued European political opposition to genetically modified food may soon cause a trade war with the United States, European policy is already contributing to starvation in Africa. Rejection of American GM food aid is exacerbating the current food crisis in Southern Africa, where over 14 million people are still at risk of starvation.

But the impending starvation is far more than just a battle over GM food; it's a catalogue of African mismanagement. It is worth comparing today's situation with the terrible drought and famine that occurred in Southern Africa in 1991-1992. Although today's drought is not as bad the problems that remain are political and unlikely to be resolved quickly." (Roger Bate, TCS)

"EU's secret plans hold poor countries to ransom" - "The European Union has drawn up secret plans aimed at prising open service sector markets in the world's poorest countries in return for cutting its lavish farm subsidies, it was revealed last night. The demands under the World Trade Organisation's service sector talks target 109 countries, including the 50 least developed, and would allow European firms to charge for providing water to some of the 1.2bn people living on less than a dollar a day." (The Guardian)

"Red tape restricts aid to world's poor" - "Millions of the world's poorest people are suffering because Brussels bureaucracy is slowing the payment of aid, EU officials admitted yesterday. Poul Nielsen, the EU commissioner for development, is urging action to "unblock" €11.2bn (£7.6bn) in response to complaints from charities that money needed for Aids, TB and malaria projects remains unused years after being pledged. But Mr Nielsen insisted that progress had been made, and said the union's 15 member states found it easier to criticise Brussels than to improve their own performance." (The Guardian)

"How the Arms of the Helixes Are Poised to Serve" - "In the 50 years since Dr. James D. Watson and Dr. Francis Crick unraveled the twisted-ladder structure of the molecule responsible for heredity, DNA-based technology has become part of the treatment and diagnosis of disease, the food we eat and the search for criminals and deadbeat dads. Yet for all its scope, the application of DNA is still in its infancy." | A Revolution at 50 (New York Times)

"Genetic engineering question again on town meeting ballots" - "BRATTLEBORO -- For the second year in a row, voters throughout the state will be asked in March to call on their representatives to pursue legislation requiring the labeling and restriction of genetically modified food.

According to information from the Plainfield-based Biotechnology Project, voters in 37 towns across the state will be asked to request their state and federal representatives to require the labeling of genetically engineered foods and seeds. Additionally, the article requests that thorough and independent research be done on genetically engineered foods." (Brattleboro Reformer)

"Protesters arrested at GM crop farm" - "Eleven protesters have been arrested for attempting to halt the planting of genetically modified crops at a Highland farm." (BBC News Online)

February 24, 2003

"Better suing through chemicals" - "Environmental extremists are setting the stage for personal injury lawyers to clean up — and not toxic waste sites, either. The good news is that the Bush administration has a chance to head them off at the pass — if only it wasn't asleep at the switch." (Steven Milloy, Washington Times)

Health Scare Without Shame: "New California Bill Seeks to Ban Medical Devices Containing Chemical DEHP" - "Unprecedented Measure to Protect Patients From Toxic Phthalate Was Chosen as Winner of 'There Oughta be a Law Contest'

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 21 -- Today, Assemblymember Alan Lowenthal introduced landmark state legislation to ban the sale and distribution of medical devices containing the chemical DEHP -- a phthalate linked to reproductive birth defects in babies. DEHP is used to soften PVC plastic medical devices, and the chemical leaches out of the product and into patients' bodies." (PRNewswire)

Ditto: "Erin Brockovich Firm to Sue Over Beverly Hills Oil" - "LOS ANGELES - Environmental pollution crusader Erin Brockovich and partner Ed Masry have a new cause -- cancer-causing gases they say lurk beneath the well-manicured streets of Beverly Hills. The two, subjects of the popular film "Erin Brockovich," said Friday they were preparing a lawsuit against the city of Beverly Hills and three oil companies for allegedly ignoring cancer-causing toxic gases leaking from oil wells on the Beverly Hills High School grounds." (Reuters)

"Wipe that brilliant-white smile off your face, says EU" - "British dentists have been warned that they face criminal prosecution under EU law if they use tooth-whitening treatments to give their patients hollywood smiles." (Daily Telegraph)

"Comment: Vivisecting the anti-vivisectionists" - "Social investors and animal rights activists should accept that some scientific research involving animals really is necessary, argues Jon Entine" (EthicalCorp.com)

"On Rules for Environment, Bush Sees a Balance, Critics a Threat" - "WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 — For two years, it has come in bursts, on issues from arsenic to wetlands: the unfolding of what President Bush, as a candidate, promised would be a new era of environmental protection.

Whether rejecting a treaty on global warming, questioning Clinton-era rules on forest protection or pressing for changes in landmark environmental laws, Mr. Bush has imposed a distinctive stamp on a vast landscape of issues affecting air, water, land, energy and the global climate.

What has emerged is an approach similar to President Ronald Reagan's. It seeks to tie environmental protection to other goals that are not always complementary, like economic growth, protection from regulation, increased energy production and deference to local control.

"Our approach is to maximize the quality of life for America," said James L. Connaughton, chairman of Mr. Bush's Council on Environmental Quality, "and that means balancing the environmental equation with the natural resource equation, the social equation and the economic equation." (New York Times)

"Moderate No More" - "That stint on the Democratic Ticket - and the concomitant six months on the road with "Earth in the Balance" author Al Gore - made quite a mark on Senator and presidential aspirant Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.). Since that time he has, among other things, teamed up with frequent George W. Bush nemesis John McCain to introduce some hard green global warming legislation ("McCain-Lieberman"). The legislation would implement a so-called "cap-and-trade" scheme similar to the Kyoto Protocol designed to reduce energy use.

Episodes of Lieberman erratically donning his green religious vestments have become so common that it now appears the time spent with Mr. Gore has transformed the former Senate moderate." (Christopher Horner, TCS)

"Explorers' charts, logbooks offer new insight into climate for modern scientists" - "OSLO, Norway - Using 500 year-old logbooks and sea charts, scientists are examining the effects of global climate change in the Arctic. The Norwegian Polar Institute and the World Wide Fund for Nature compiled the Arctic Climate System Study Historical Ice Chart Archive to gauge global warming on the ice around the Arctic Sea. The Norwegian Meteorological Institute also took part. The archive contains details of climate change in and around the Arctic from 1553 to 2002." (AP)

"A Pollutant by Any Other Name" - "The pressure on President Bush to abandon his irresponsibly passive approach to global warming was ratcheted up this week. On Thursday the attorneys general of seven Northeastern states announced their intention to sue the administration — in the person of Christie Whitman, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency — for its failure to regulate power plant emissions of carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas, as required by the Clean Air Act." (New York Times)

Note to the Old Gray Lady: water vapor is the main global warming "culprit" responsible for keeping the planet habitably warm. The current situation is that CO2 remains an essential trace gas at ~370ppm (0.037% of atmosphere), without which the biosphere would collapse and the majority of life would cease on Earth.

Atmospheric CO2 might be considered a "pollutant" from the perspective of those who desire a near-sterile Earth but, for those that value biodiversity and a vibrant biosphere, atmospheric CO2 is truly the stuff of life.

Could it be that Ol' Gray has degenerated to such a crusty old curmudgeon as to desire a near-sterile, monochrome world? Is the vibrancy of an exuberant biosphere too much for such a wizened old crone? When the very sustenance of the bulk of life on Earth is viewed as "a pollutant" then one must truly wonder.

Sigh... "Farewell Cool Britannia" - "London will be like Naples. Mediterranean temperatures will be the norm from Brighton to Bristol. Freak weather events will dominate the news as tornadoes and hurricanes crash across the country.

Winter - what's left of it - will be no more than a few days in the middle of January. Snow will be rare, even in the mountains of Scotland. Thousands of square miles of Britain will be at threat from disappearing into the sea as floods wreak havoc.

Tomorrow the Government will release its bleakest assessment yet of the state of the world's environment. In the first review of Britain's seemingly insatiable desire to consume more and more energy, an official report by the Department of Trade and Industry will say that the Earth's temperature will rise by up to 6 C by the end of the century." (The Observer)

"Downing Street to challenge Bush on greenhouse gas emissions" - "Britain will today implicitly challenge George Bush's anti-environment stance by demanding that the world go further than the stalled Kyoto protocol and commit itself to a 50% cut in carbon emissions by 2050." (The Guardian)

"Blair: CO2cuts would not 'trash' US economy" - "Tony Blair will today send a message to President George Bush that he must play his part to tackle global warming and cannot hide behind the argument that it will damage the US economy." (Independent)

"CLIMATE CHANGE: IPCC Head Urges Greater Effort From Poor Countries" - "India and other developing countries are not active enough in addressing global climate change, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change head R.K. Pachauri, an Indian, said in an interview published yesterday in Le Monde. "Knowledge about the problem is not widespread enough, and there is a real education deficit. We also need partnerships to find new technologies," said Pachauri. He added that the IPCC itself "has not worked enough on technology." (UN Wire)

"Synthetic trees could purify air" - "A scientist has invented an artificial tree designed to do the job of plants. But the synthetic tree proposed by Dr Klaus Lackner does not much resemble the leafy variety. "It looks like a goal post with Venetian blinds," said the Columbia University physicist, referring to his sketch at the annual AAAS meeting in Denver, Colorado. But the synthetic tree would do the job of a real tree, he said. It would draw carbon dioxide out of the air, as plants do during photosynthesis, but retain the carbon and not release oxygen. If done to scale, according to Dr Lackner, synthetic trees could help clean up an atmosphere grown heavy with carbon dioxide, the most abundant gas produced by humans and implicated in climate warming." (BBC News Online)

Uh-huh... does it eat kites too?

"UK 'to drop nuclear power'" - "The UK is to work towards radical cuts in greenhouse gases - a reduction of 60% on 1990 levels by 2050. It aims to achieve this through more efficient energy use and greater dependence on renewable sources like wind power. It plans to build no new nuclear power stations to replace the present generation." (BBC News Online)

"Nuclear power to get EU green light" - "Green measures by the European Union to cut carbon dioxide emissions will boost the prospects of Britain's nuclear industry, says the Government's energy White Paper to be published tomorrow. In an unexpectedly upbeat assessment of the future role for nuclear power, the paper will point to the introduction of a carbon emissions trading system by the EU in 2005, which will for the first time give economic credit to atomic plants for not producing greenhouse gases." (The Observer)

"The future looks greener" - "But the age of cheap fuel must end" (Leader, The Observer)

"Wind power will push up household electricity bills" - "Household electricity bills could rise by 15 per cent by 2020 because of a Government drive to increase the use of renewable energy sources such as wind and wave power." | An energy policy full of hot air (Daily Telegraph)

"The greening of Tony Blair?" - "Online commentary: Tony Blair may promise much on the environment tomorrow. But his record on meeting green pledges to date has been disappointing because the Government has ducked away from difficult decisions at the first sign of unpopularity" (Ian Willmore and Duncan McLaren, The Observer)

"Blair's green scorecard... could do better" - "As Tony Blair commits his government to ambitious environmental targets, The Observer asked campaigners and experts to mark the government's green scorecard to date" (The Observer)

"German green power group sees threat to subsidies" - "FRANKFURT - BEE, an umbrella group of 25 German renewable power associations, has warned that the Berlin government might cap subsidies for the sector as part of a law reform this year." (Reuters)

"Is Bt Cotton a Success in India?" - "Dr. Matin Qaim and David Zilberman recently published a paper "Yield effects of genetically modified crops in developing countries." in the 'Science' journal, as many of you would have known already (See below). This paper examined the yield increases in Bt cotton crop field studies in India and reported substantial yield gains. Dr. Shanthu Shantharam then sent a commentary critical of this paper to AgBioView which is posted below. I forwarded these comments to the Science paper author Dr. Qaim whose response to Shanthu's comments appear below. Dr. Rick Roush, a noted authority on Bt cotton, also responds below.

Activists in India have always been the doubting thomases on any report of success of biotechnology and thus, not surprisingly, have begun to attack the Qaim and Zilberman paper. A news article by Ms.T. V. Padma from Asia Times reports this attack of activists in detail but as Rick Roush tells me that it is sad that this journalist ignored to contact any real scientists. Response from Ms. Ranjana Smetacek, Director - Public Affairs of Monsanto - India along with a latest press release on the Bt cotton performance in India is also posted below along with news stories from Science and Nature." (C. S. Prakash, AgBioView)

"Going for Golden Rice" - "Around the world, the amount of land planted to genetically modified crops keeps on growing. Sixteen countries worldwide now grow GM, and three quarters of GM farmers are in the world's poorest regions. In 2002, India, Colombia and Honduras all approved the commercial growing of GM crops for the first time.

But the environmentalist critics of GM food and technology argue that GM will be catastrophic for the developing world. They accuse the USA of 'dumping' GM grain on Africa, and claim that the spread of GM will tighten multinationals' grip on poor economies while contaminating indigenous plant varieties." (Jan Bowman, sp!ked)

"Syngenta advancing GM wheat research in US" - "KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Syngenta AG is negotiating with several U.S. universities for help in work on a genetically modified wheat designed to fight disease problems that cost U.S. farmers millions of dollars a year, Syngenta's leading wheat biotech official said. The GM wheat, Syngenta's first foray into that controversial arena, is one that has been bred to be resistant to fusarium head blight, a fungal disease that can have devastating consequences for farmers as well as millers and bakers." (Reuters)

"Grasp the nettle" - "This is the year that the government is supposed to make a decision on whether to allow commercial growing of genetically modified crops. The farm trials began three years ago and they had hoped that they'd get away without having to decide one way or the other because there wouldn't be any farms left by now. The immediate problem is remembering exactly which fields the farmers planted the GM crops in. "Was it that one?" "Er, might have been, or it could have been that one, I dunno, us farmers have had a lot on our minds, you know." (John O'Farrell, The Guardian)

February 21, 2003

"Mercury Scare Rising" - "The EPA is trying to use the scare of prenatal mercury damage in kids to force strict new power plant regulations; but most Americans' exposure to mercury in the environment is far too low to pose any risk" (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"First population study of GM mosquitoes highlights difficulties facing malaria control technique" - "The first laboratory population study of genetically modified mosquitoes identifies issues that need to be faced in the task of turning mosquitoes from disease carriers into disease fighters. Scientists from Imperial College London report in Science today that populations including genetically modified mosquitoes quickly lose their test marker gene when they are bred with unmodified mosquitoes." (Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine)

"'McFrankenstein' returns to haunt fast food chain in new court action" - "McDonald's was last night facing a renewed legal action claiming the fast food chain was responsible for health problems among a group of obese American children. Lawyers representing eight overweight children in New York have seized on comments made by a judge in dismissing an earlier suit, that the world's largest restaurant chain was serving "McFrankenstein" food. The renewed complaint carries a 46-page amendment that argues consumers are not fully aware of what goes into McDonald's food." (The Guardian)

"Are Fast Foods Addictive?" - "A number of studies have emerged recently that try to claim that fast food is "as addictive as heroin." This cancerous cluster caused the once-respectable magazine New Scientist to ask the question on its front cover, "Can Fast Food Alter Your Brain in the Same Way as Tobacco and Heroin?" A four-page article within the magazine came to the conclusion that the science doesn't matter, because the courts would decide the issue anyway. Such is the nature of scientific inquiry today." (Iain Murray, TCS)

"U.S. Losing War on Cancer, Ignoring Prevention" - "WASHINGTON, DC, February 20, 2003 - Leading players in the war on cancer should do more to educate the American public about how to minimize its risk of contracting the disease, according to a new report from the Cancer Prevention Coalition (CPC). Americans face increasing cancer risks from occupational and environmental exposure to industrial carcinogens, the report finds, but established government and nonprofit cancer organizations are fixated on treatment rather than prevention." (ENS)

Hmm... Samuel Epstein

"Men's deaths not due to eating "mad deer" meat: CDC" - "NEW YORK - Three deaths from degenerative brain disease were not caused by eating venison infected with chronic wasting disease (CWD), an illness akin to "mad cow disease," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Thursday." (Reuters Health)

"PETA's warped priorities " - "We told you recently that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) president Ingrid Newkirk had faxed PLO leader Yasser Arafat a misguided plea on behalf of war-zone donkeys (while showing indifference toward war-torn humans). Since then, a growing number of commentators have taken note of PETA's warped priorities." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Home Office rejects tougher law on animal rights activists" - "Calls for a change in the law so that animal rights extremists would be treated in the same way as football hooligans have been rejected by the Home Office. It has told the BioIndustry Association, which represents the UK biotechnology sector, that parliamentary time will not be made for the legislation it has demanded. The rejection comes despite an escalation of intimidation against the financial backers of Huntingdon Life Sciences, the drug-testing group." (Financial Times)

"Environmentalist Says Blizzard Consistent with 'Global Warming' Trend" - "The record-breaking blizzard of 2003, which left more than two feet of snow in some areas of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, was "very much in line with the predictions of climate models" that predict human-caused "global warming," according to an environmentalist in Washington." (CNSNews.com)

but "Ski Resorts Get Creative to Battle Global Warming" - "LAKEWOOD, Colorado, February 20, 2003 - The ski resort industry is at risk from global warming as glaciers melt and snowfalls diminish. But the industry has recognized the danger and is taking steps to limit its own emissions of greenhouse gases responsible for climate change. Ski lifts are powered by the wind, energy efficient building techniques are in use, and resort vehicles are running on alternative fuels." (ENS)

World Climate Report Volume 8, Number 12, February 24, 2003 (GES)

"7 States Suing E.P.A. Over Carbon Dioxide Emissions" - "WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 — Seven state attorneys general, mostly from the Northeast, announced a lawsuit today accusing the Environmental Protection Agency of failing to enforce the Clean Air Act by neglecting carbon dioxide emissions. The environmental lawsuit, the third such state action brought against the Bush Administration in seven weeks, highlights the increasingly antagonistic relationship between the states and federal government over environmental regulation." (New York Times)

"CLIMATE CHANGE: IPCC Prepares 2007 Report At Paris Meeting" - "The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change began a three-day meeting yesterday at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, where 350 scientists and country representatives are working on the panel's fourth global assessment, expected to be published in 2007.

The panel's global assessments are a worldwide reference in climate science. In its third assessment, released two years ago, the IPCC predicted global average temperature would rise by between 1.4 and 5.8 degrees Celsius by 2100, compared with 1990 levels, and that sea levels would rise by between 9 and 88 centimeters over the same period. The panel also said there is a link between the global warming observed over the past 50 years and emissions of greenhouse gases." (UN Wire)

"Germany unlikely to meet CO2 reduction targets - DIW" - "FRANKFURT - Germany is unlikely to deliver on its pledges to curb emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), despite a further reduction last year, the Berlin-based German Institute for Economic Research DIW said." (Reuters)

"Our New Hydrogen Bomb" - "MESA, Ariz. - To understand how we might bolster our national security aside from invading Iraq, I'm on a General Motors test track here in Arizona, driving the coolest car you've never seen. It's called Hy-wire, and it's a one-of-a-kind prototype: a four-door sedan fueled by hydrogen, capable of speeds of 100 miles an hour, whisper-quiet, and emitting no pollution at all — only water vapor as exhaust. It looks like a spaceship, with glass all around and no pedals or steering wheel." (Nicholas Kristof, New York Times)

Excellent! Um... just one minor drawback - utilising hydrogen has never really been a problem (efficiency is another matter). What is a problem, however, is sourcing sufficient free hydrogen in a manner that is at least energy-neutral - while hydrogen is certainly abundant it's an affectionate little element that is only naturally available bound to other elements from which it must be separated - processes that currently expend more energy than we can recover from using the resultant free hydrogen. Adding in such logistical practicalities as storage and distribution infrastructure to the existing problems of pitiful performance and horrendous expense, it becomes obvious that the "hydrogen economy" is decades away, if ever.

"Opinion: Restructuring the Energy Economy" - "WASHINGTON, DC, February 20, 2003 - The key to restoring climate stability is shifting from a fossil fuel based energy economy to one based on renewable sources of energy and hydrogen. Advancing technologies in the design of wind turbines that have dramatically lowered the cost of wind generated electricity to the point where it can be used to produce hydrogen from water, along with the evolution of fuel cell engines, have set the stage for a dramatic restructuring of the world energy economy." (Lester Brown, ENS)

"Power for the Sun" - "For the last four billion or so years the Sun has been producing energy from the simplest of elements, hydrogen. It is a powerful energy source and it is abundant here on Earth. But is it the answer to our growing energy needs? Some people believe so, and are pushing the U.S. to spend billions on research. President Bush now proposes to allocate $1.2 billion in federal funds for research in the development of "clean, hydrogen powered automobiles." (Larry Weitzman, TCS)

"Aquaculture growth now outpaces other food production industries, UN reports" - "20 February – Aquaculture - the farming and stocking of aquatic organisms including fish, molluscs, crustaceans and aquatic plants - is growing more rapidly than all other animal food producing sectors, according to a report compiled by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)." (UN News)

"French activist Bove seeks jail pardon from Chirac" - "PARIS - French radical farmer Jose Bove, who became a worldwide celebrity for his fight against junk food and globalisation, is at the centre of a new battle - for a presidential pardon to save him spending over a year in jail." (Reuters)

"Study: Bio-Food Research Increasingly Concentrated" - "WASHINGTON - The high costs and uncertain pay-off from genetically altered crops are major factors behind the increasing concentration of research into a handful of firms, a study of the industry said on Thursday." (Reuters)

"US halts plan to foist GM food on Europe" - "Washington has backed away from threats to bring the European Union before the World Trade Organisation over the EU's refusal to allow the sale of genetically-modified produce." (The Guardian)

"Development of Biotech Crops Is Booming in Asia" - "CHIANG RAI, Thailand, Feb. 16 — Worried about falling behind its global competition, much of Asia is rushing forward with the development and cultivation of genetically modified crops.

The three most populous countries in Asia — China, India and Indonesia — are already planting millions of acres of genetically modified cotton. Several other large Asian countries, including Japan, Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia, are earmarking billions of dollars for private and government-sponsored research on biotech crops.

Given that there are already 145 million acres planted with genetically modified crops worldwide, mostly in North and South America, these developments in Asia could pave the way for bioengineered crops to dominate the world's food production.

"This is a significant development in the acceptance of genetically modified crops," said Nicholas Kalaitzandonakes, a professor of agribusiness at the University of Missouri at Columbia. "This is not only a region where most of the population growth is, it's a region where most of the food growth is." (New York Times)

"Corn-belt farmers find modified crops tough to sell" - "GARRETSON, S.D. - Jim Solheim's fields are sown with technology, and that makes him nervous.

Like most corn-belt farmers, Solheim expects to plant much of his 1,000-acre spread with genetically modified corn and soybeans come spring. His soybeans have DNA implanted that makes them resistant to a popular herbicide, and his corn contains a gene that makes it toxic to a common pest.

The altered crops make farming easier, and he's sure they're safe. But with European countries placing a moratorium on approving genetically modified crops and some concern among American consumers about potential health and environmental risks, Solheim is worried he won't be able to sell his produce." (Boston Globe)

"UK sugar beet farmers could turn to GM to compete" - "LONDON - Genetically-modified sugar beet could prove a godsend to British farmers hit by EU farm reforms, and should provoke less controversy than other GM crops." (Reuters)

February 20, 2003

"How the scientists are making monkeys of themselves" - "Years ago, I was sent a voting form by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) on which one of the candidates was listed as “William J. Wiley (deceased)”. I was proud to be a member. An organisation which has found a way of conducting committee business by seance, I thought, is clearly at the forefront of human endeavour and its meetings would be unmissable." (Ross Clark, The Times)

"Study Finds Vaccine Doesn't Lead to Child Bacterial Infections" - "There is no evidence that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine overloads children's immune systems or makes them more vulnerable to bacteria infections, researchers in Britain have found.

The researchers, from the British Public Health Laboratory Service, said they undertook their study because some British parents' groups contend that the M.M.R. vaccine gives children more viruses than they can cope with, weakening their immune systems. The findings were reported yesterday in The Archives of Disease in Childhood, a medical journal." (New York Times)

"McDonald's sued again in kids' obesity" - "McDonald’s Corp., the world’s largest hamburger chain, was sued for hiding the health risks of Chicken McNuggets and other foods high in fat, salt and cholesterol, just weeks after a judge dismissed a similar lawsuit by obese children.

In dismissing the complaint brought by two New York City children on behalf of all youngsters in the state, U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet invited the plaintiffs’ attorney, Samuel Hirsch, to file a new suit emphasizing deceptive advertising claims. The original suit, the first of its kind, sought billions of dollars in damages.

Hirsch today filed an amended complaint targeting "deceptive practices" in McDonalds’s promotion and distribution of its food. "They’re speaking out of both sides of their mouth" when the company claims its food is healthy, though it should be eaten in moderation, Hirsch said in an interview. (Bloomberg News)

Gasp! "Most diets don't work" - "Just one in every 100 people who go on a diet succeed in shedding weight permanently. However, the high chance of failure did not stop 34 million Britons trying to lose weight last year, spending more than £10 billion in the process. Independent market analysts Datamonitor, who conducted the research, says that the diet industry is guilty of raising expectations unrealistically." (BBC News Online)

"Better Child Health Is Seen as Environment Ills Decline" - "WASHINGTON, Feb. 19 — A new government report concludes that children's health has improved in areas where the government has taken aim at environmental hazards, White House and Environmental Protection Agency officials said today.

On the other hand, the report raises new questions about the need for new areas of study, such as the link between mercury and childhood development and the rising rates of childhood asthma even as air quality has improved over the last 15 years." (New York Times)

"Environmentalist apologizes for e-mail encouraging 'tormenting" fish farmers" - "CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. -- A prominent B.C. environmentalist has said she is sorry for sending an e-mail suggesting "tormenting fish farmers" was fun. "I apologize without reservation for my comments contained in a private communication," said Lynn Hunter, fisheries and aquaculture specialist at the Vancouver-based David Suzuki Foundation, in an apology addressed to the executive director of the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association." (CP)

"Is Europe Returning to the Dark Ages?" - "What's going in Europe? Are we witnessing another historic retreat into scientific barbarism?" (Patrick J. Michaels, Cato Institute)

"Worrying about El Niño" - "The first El Niño of the 21st Century began unfolding last year, and is partly blamed for warm surface temperatures, floods and droughts. Will El Niño events intensify or increase in frequency if surface temperatures were to rise from continued human fossil fuel use?" (Sallie Baliunas, TCS)

"$2-billion dedicated to emission targets" - "OTTAWA -- Ottawa cut a $2-billion cheque in yesterday's federal budget to meet its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, but left decisions on how to spend the majority of the cash for another day. The government said it's considering spending the cash on energy-conserving retrofits to buildings and on alternative-energy projects such as ethanol, wind power and fuel cells -- but offered no specifics." (Globe and Mail)

"EU energy tax stalls over Italian truck concerns" - "BRUSSELS - The European Union failed again this week to forge a common energy tax policy to help fight global warming, as Italian demands for tax breaks for truckers scuppered proposals that are five years in the making." (Reuters)

"Businesses told of fossil fuel tax plan" - "Environment Minister Shunichi Suzuki on Tuesday officially told the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) of the ministry's plans to introduce a tax on fossil fuels that generate greenhouse gases. Suzuki met with top Nippon Keidanren officials, including chairman Hiroshi Okuda, in Tokyo. "Based on the schedule for taking countermeasures to combat global warming step by step, we asked them to understand the need to start working on an environment tax so as to promote a thorough debate on the issue," Suzuki told a news conference after the meeting." (The Japan Times)

"Urging renewed battle against hunger, Annan calls for ‘green revolution’ in Africa" - "19 February – United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged increased global partnership across geographic and ideological borders to fight hunger and called for a “green revolution” in Africa to enable the continent to move towards self-sufficiency in food." (UN News)

"How to feed the world" - "With the Earth poised for a population spurt, a debate ensues over the future of farming." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Global trade in GM crops reaches $4.25 billion in 2002" - "LOS BAÑOS, Laguna – World trade in biotechnology or genetically modified (GM) crops reached $4.25 billion in 2002. The volume of GM or transgenic crops traded last year was $450 million more than the $3.8 billion in 2001, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA)." (The Philippine Star)

"Genetically modified and healthy" - "STANFORD, California The Bush administration wisely backed away this month from formally challenging Europe's ban on genetically modified foods. It made no sense to antagonize Europeans over the food they eat when they are pivotal to more weighty matters, such as a new resolution on Iraq.

Still, Washington's threat that it would file a case against the European Union at the World Trade Organization had palpable benefits. Even the countries with the most hostile policies on engineered food - France and Germany among them - took steps toward allowing the European Union to work on replacing the blanket ban with a new system for tracing and labeling engineered food." (David G. Victor and C. Ford Runge, IHT)

"More time for public say on GM crops" - "The government has extended by three months the period for a public debate on genetically modified crops and whether they should be grown in Britain. The budget for the consultation process is also being doubled, to £500,000, and the Department of Environment will pay for staff time at the central office of information." (The Guardian)

February 19, 2003

"U.S. study finds no new links to Gulf War illness" - "WASHINGTON, Feb 18 - Studies show long-term exposure to certain pesticides and solvents can damage a person's health, but there is not enough evidence to show whether such chemicals are linked to Gulf War Syndrome, U.S. scientists said on Tuesday." (Reuters)

"Scientists debunk 'alarmist' myths about cancer" - "The head of the B.C. Cancer Agency said he agrees with the thrust of a new book that says environmental "alarmists" have fuelled public fear about cancer rates and misconceptions about the overblown role of synthetic toxins and pollutants as causes of cancer." (Vancouver Sun)

"Animal rights group gets Deloitte details" - "A mole at Deloitte & Touche has turned the big four accountancy firm into a new target for animal rights extremists. The insider has handed over the phone numbers and e-mail addresses of 135 staff to Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, the protest group that has been targeting Huntingdon Life Sciences. Deloitte is auditor to the drug-testing group, which has struggled to survive as a campaign against banks, stockbrokers and marketmakers has scared away many of its commercial and financial supports. Deloitte on Tuesday refused to comment. However, workers said they had begun this week to receive letters, e-mails and telephone calls from protesters." (Financial Times)

"Greenpeace USA aims to be a 'credible threat'" - "In John Passacantando's world, environmentalism comes with a loud heartbeat. The executive director of Greenpeace USA, in Pittsburgh earlier this month to lecture at Chatham College, is passionate about his 32-year-old organization, which made its name getting between whales and whaling ships. "There are many organizations out there that value credibility, but I want Greenpeace first and foremost to be a credible threat," Passacantando said, his lanky frame perched on the edge of a chair in a Shadyside restaurant. "Of course we have to be credible and use good science, but if we can be a credible threat then we can do better things. "To paraphrase Thoreau, I regret only our good behavior." (Post-Gazette)

"Bad economy causes drop in greenhouse gases, for one year anyway" - "WASHINGTON — A poor economy and high electricity costs in the West have produced an unusual environmental bonus, the government says: In 2001, emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases declined for the first time in a decade. Still, the trend of annual increases in such gases -- mostly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels -- is expected to continue under future economic growth." (Associated Press)

"Will Global Warming Shut Down the Thermohaline Circulation of the World's Oceans?" - "Summary: This idea is one that climate alarmists have been trying to push for some time, now, and a recent publication in Science is touted as giving them some backing for it. When the data upon which the paper is based are even cursorily reviewed, however, they are found to provide absolutely no support for this decidedly baseless scarenario." (co2science.org)

"Subject Index Summary: Decadal-Scale Climate Cycles (Solar Influence)" - "Summary: Cyclical climatic variations of small period and amplitude appear to be driven by similar variations in solar activity, suggesting that cyclical climatic variations of larger period and amplitude may be driven by similarly-enhanced variations in solar activity." (co2science.org)

"Current Carbon Sequestration Commentary: CO2-Enhanced Carbon Sequestration in Africa and Asia Helps the Rest of the World As Well ... and in More Ways Than One" - "Summary: Can you guess what they are? The answers may surprise you." (co2science.org)

Current Journal Reviews:
"Temperature Trends in Antarctica" - "Summary: What are they doing? And why? Geophysical Research Letters 29: 10.1029/2002GL015415." (co2science.org)

"Dates of Ice Break-Up of Lakes and Rivers in Northern Europe" - "Summary: What can they tell us about the climate-alarmist theory of CO2-induced global warming? Journal of Hydrology 268: 100-112." (co2science.org)

"A Thousand Years of Precipitation in the Southwestern USA" - "Summary: What can the data tell us about climate-alarmist claims of impending "mega" wet and dry periods that can cause super floods and droughts? International Journal of Climatology 22: 1645-1662." (co2science.org)

"A cooling dip for Australia's hothouse CO²" - "Scientists say power station carbon dioxide could be safely locked up in undersea rocks" (The Guardian)

"Australia to target India with green power turbine" - "MELBOURNE - Australia will target mining companies and power producers in India this week with a turbine designed to generate electricity from waste coal and methane, which could slash greenhouse emissions." (Reuters)

Oh dear... "Roundup Unready" - "One of the most pervasive chemicals in modern agriculture is a herbicide called glyphosate, which is better known by its trade name, Roundup. When it was first introduced in 1974, by Monsanto, no one could have predicted its current ubiquity or the way it would change farming. Roundup was safe, effective and relatively benign, environmentally speaking. It became one of the essential tools that made no-till farming — a conservation practice in which farmers spray weeds rather than plowing the ground — increasingly popular.

But nature, in turn, has been developing some Roundup Ready plants of her own, weeds that can tolerate being sprayed with Roundup.

In a very real sense, nature has been given an enormous advantage by the sheer ubiquity of Roundup, just as some bacteria are given an edge by the ubiquity of agricultural antibiotics. The logic of industrial farming is to use your best tools until they're worthless, and to hasten their worthlessness by using them as much as you can." (New York Times)

Looks like the Ol' Gray Lady is getting ready to sentimentally promote third world agriculture techniques. Wonder if they realise that "industrial farming" is environmentally friendly while low intensity (read: poor productivity) or "organic" agriculture is highly destructive, horrendously wasteful and completely unsustainable? Conversion of global agriculture to primitive methods and still feeding the global population would require the conversion of all remaining wild lands to agriculture, with the resultant decimation of forests and mass extinction of the majority of land-borne wildlife. Good trade? I think not.

"Biotechnology gap between poor and rich countries widening, UN warns" - "18 February – The promises and potential of biotechnology are not equally shared between developed and developing countries, the United Nations said today. "The gap between rich and poor farmers, between research priorities and needs, and between technology development and actual technology transfer, is widening," Assistant Director-General, Louise Fresco, of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, warned in a statement issued in Rome." (UN News)

"INDIA: Report on 'Success' of GE Cotton Sows Seeds of Confusion" - "NEW DELHI, Feb 19 - Civil society groups have been taken aback by a new scientific report that sings praises of the superlative yields of genetically engineered (GE) cotton in India, at a time when ground realities speak of massive failures. It was left to leading voluntary agencies to point out that the report in the leading international journal 'Science' in February was outdated and based on data from field trials carried out in 2001 by the Maharashtra Hybrid Company (MAHYCO), a subsidiary of the U.S. seed giant Monsanto Corp." (IPS)

February 18, 2003

"Journal Editors to Consider U.S. Security in Publishing" - "More than 20 leading scientific journals have made a pact to censor articles that they believe could compromise national security, regardless of their scientific merit." (New York Times) | World’s leading journal editors urge self-governance and responsibility ... (AAAS)

"AAAS 'goes Hollywood' to dramatize the perils of communicating science in a pressure cooker" - "It may look like just another Saturday Night Live episode, but it's really a symposium at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Instead of actors, these skits will feature academics, a congresswoman and a journalist, arguing on stage to illustrate the problems of scientific publishing. Science Editor Donald Kennedy will participate in the symposium "HYPE! The Greatest Symposium Ever!! - Communicating Science in a Pressure Cooker." (Stanford University)

"Attack on nuclear plant 'could kill 3.5m'" - "More than three and a half million people could be killed by a terrorist attack on a British nuclear plant, concludes a series of three reports so alarming that even Greenpeace – which commissioned them – is unwilling to publish them." (Independent)

"NEI criticizes fear-mongering by authors of used fuel paper" - "The Nuclear Energy Institute criticizes the fear-mongering of the authors of a paper on used nuclear fuel storage that theorizes about the possible effects of a terrorist attack. The paper intentionally misleads the public." (Nuclear Energy Institute)

"Fears over tuna health risk to babies" - "Pregnant women and mothers who breastfeed have been advised to limit their consumption of tuna fish. The UK Food Standards Agency is concerned that mercury found in the fish could pose a health hazard." (BBC News Online)

"Unhealthy food is everywhere, 24 hours a day, and inexpensive" - "The case of Pelman v McDonald's looked like one of those stories destined to burn brightly for a while, then fizzle out. The attempt by Ashley Pelman, aged 14 and weighing 170lb (85kg), and Jazlyn Bradley, her 270lb (135kg) co-plaintiff, to sue the fast-food giant for making them fat provoked outrage and ridicule among commentators for weeks. McDonald's called for it to be thrown out and, last month, a judge duly did so.

But the case is far from dead. Rather than dismissing it as frivolous and warning the plaintiffs not to waste his time, Robert Sweet, the judge, provided detailed guidance on how it might be redrafted to give it a better chance of getting to trial. Ms Pelman's lawyers, he said, had not shown McDonald's products posed any health risk beyond what any ordinary consumer would be expected to know. If they could show that, he would look again." (Financial Times)

"Preparing for The Big One" - "Should we be told if a monster rock is heading our way? Researchers wrestled with this question on Friday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Denver. Some suggested there was no point worrying the global population about its imminent demise. "If there is absolutely nothing you can do about it - you can't intercept it, you can't move people out of the way - then it makes no sense to incur social costs from whatever panic or overreaction there will be," argued Geoffrey Sommer, of the Rand Corporation, who has been studying how policymakers should react and prepare for Armageddon. "If an extinction-type impact is inevitable, then ignorance for the populous is bliss." (BBC News Online)

"Isn't there a chemical spray for Meacher blight?" - "Crackpots declaring that “the end of the world is nigh” are nothing new. But that notion is no longer the preserve of religious zealots or sci-fi fantasists. It now seems to be the position of a government minister — Michael Meacher. And the weapons of mass destruction that Mr Meacher is most worried about are you and I." (Mick Hume, The Times)

"Alien abductees show real symptoms" - "People who claim to have been kidnapped by aliens have a tendency to believe in fantasies and suffer disturbing experiences in their sleep, scientists have found. But the researchers say "abductees" also believe in their experiences so deeply that they display real stress symptoms similar to those of traumatised battlefield veterans." (BBC News Online)

'Everything must change' - "He might be a parrot-loving ecologist, but as the new director of Friends of the Earth, Tony Juniper knows that his cuddly environmental organisation must toughen up and get political if it is going to help save the planet." (The Guardian)

"Meacher at odds with pro-business Labour" - "Michael Meacher, the environment minister, was at logger heads with government colleagues last night after launching a comprehensive assault on sustainable development policies." (The Guardian)

"Up with animals, down with humans" - "It's a shame European functionaries don't care as much about Africans as they do about pigs." (National Post)

"Reducing soot pollution could trigger more surface ozone" - "Cutting particulate pollution could see surface levels of ozone unexpectedly rising in some parts of the world, according to a US study." (Edie.net)

"Tufts civil engineer predicts Boston’s rising sea levels could cause billions of dollars in damage" - "Scientists presented their research on the impact of rising sea levels due to climate change on the Boston metro area to the annual AAAS meeting, showing that over the next century, flood damage to residential, commercial and industrial buildings in metropolitan Boston could exceed $20 billion, depending on how the city responds to rising sea levels. Costs could run as high as $94 billion, if climate weather conditions are more severe than expected." (Tufts University)

"Researcher warns on climate change: Effects said already here in form of more extreme weather" - "DENVER, Feb. 14 — An outspoken climate researcher said Friday that the ill effects of global climate change are already appearing, and current levels of carbon dioxide emissions may have crossed the threshold for "dangerous interference" with future climate. He acknowledged, however, that the effects haven't yet crossed the threshold for changing the minds of climate skeptics." (MSNBC)

Meanwhile, back in the real world: "Research reveals use of tree rings and ocean temperature shifts in anticipating megadroughts" - "Not long ago, conventional wisdom was that you couldn't predict the climate for more than a few days in advance. Then came the awareness of El Niño and La Niña and the forecast window increased to as much as 6 to 9 months, depending on the region and season. But a forthcoming study in the Geophysical Research Letters suggests that opposing shifts in Tropical Pacific and North Atlantic Ocean temperatures may foretell persistence of disastrous, multiyear droughts across the North American continent." (USGS)

"As El Niño fades, a reality check for East" - "With the Eastern seaboard buried in up to 50 inches of snow, the hassles - and havoc - of clearing set in.

Actually, despite the snowdrifts and the sight of neighbors dressed up like Eskimos, meteorologists say this winter has not been "exceptionally cold." Rather, it has been "persistently cold."

In fact, the mild winters of recent years may have been influenced by some relatively strong El Niño events - where the waters in the Pacific are warmer than normal. But this winter, El Niño is fading. This may have allowed the weather patterns to return to normal - as in cold.

"This is really a reality check from Mother Nature," says Fred Gadomski, a meteorologist at Penn State at University Park. "The winters in the last five years have been exceptionally mild with a lack of snow - that was extraordinary." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Warning over loss of Amazon forest" - "One of the world's leading experts on climate change has predicted that rising global temperatures could destroy the Amazon rainforest, which in turn would cause a catastrophic build-up of carbon dioxide further accelerating global warming." (Independent)

"Global warming endangers Amazon" - "February 17: A warmer world could mean the loss of the Amazon rainforest and yet more global warming as levels of carbon dioxide increased in the atmosphere." (The Guardian)

"Ecological effects of climate change include human epidemics" - "The link between climate and cholera, a serious health problem in many parts of the world, has become stronger in recent decades, according to a University of Michigan scientist who takes an ecological approach to understanding disease patterns." (University of Michigan)

"Computer Models Forecast Sharp Increase In Temperature If Heat-trapping Emissions Continue To Rise" - "DENVER, CO –- Powerful computer models predict that winter temperatures in the polar regions of the world could rise as much as 10 degrees centigrade in the next hundred years, if no efforts are made to control production of carbon dioxide, methane and other gasses.

“With projections to the year 2100, we can show what will happen if we continue with business as usual—if we don’t do anything to curb emissions of greenhouse gasses,” said Warren M. Washington, senior research scientist for the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and a speaker at the AAAS Annual Meeting.

Noting that concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane did not start to increase significantly until the 20th century, Washington demonstrated with charts and graphs worldwide projections for average temperature in 2050 and 2090, and compared the data to the relatively stable temperature pattern in the 1000 years that preceded the growing presence of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere." (Science Daily)

"Global Warming Trends" - "Global warming has to be one of the strangest policy debates the country has ever seen. Sure there are always two or more competing sides, pandering, demagoguery and outright dishonesty in every policy debate. But in the case of global warming the contrasts are so stark and the political statements so divorced from reality, that informed persons are left shaking their heads in disbelief.

On the one hand, you have politicians stating categorically: "The science is settled!" On the other hand, one can dig up a half dozen National Academy of Sciences reports from the last five years that argue that not only is the science not settled, but that scientists are operating in almost complete ignorance on many of the most basic and key assumptions behind the theory." (Paul Georgia, TCS)

"Offsetting Environmental Damage by Planes" - "A few groups have devised ways for environmentally concerned travelers to mitigate their role in the output of carbon dioxide." (New York Times)

"Companies fail to act on climate risk" - "Most of the world's top 500 companies are failing to take action to deal with the risks of global warming, according to research on the impact of climate change on the corporate world. Some companies in the heavy industries could see their value tumble by as much as 40 per cent - equating to billions of dollars - if they ignore the threat to their business. Even financial services groups could suffer collateral damage through bad loans. The researchers estimate that banks exposed to high-risk companies - which operate where regulation is being introduced - could face share price falls of up to 29 per cent. The findings appear in a report, published today, commissioned by the Carbon Disclosure Project, a group of 35 institutional investors. Tessa Tennant, head of the project, said it should be "a wake-up call" for investors." (Financial Times)

"Kyoto good for the nation" - "The Premier, Bob Carr, will today commit NSW to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in line with targets set down in the Kyoto Protocol, further highlighting the Federal Government's refusal to ratify the international agreement." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Bob Carr, population panicker, Suzuki acolyte and Premier of New South Wales.

"Oil producers demand Kyoto compensation" - "Energy ministers of the 13 Arab oil-producing states are questioning the role of burning hydrocarbons in climate change, and are calling for compensation from industrialised nations for any economic or social damage to Arab countries that depend on oil and gas export revenues." (Edie.net)

"Greenhouse gas problem buried" - "UP to one million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) could be buried in a deep underground reservoir as a solution to greenhouse gas pollution, scientists have said. Carbon dioxide is widely blamed for global warming and Australia is trying to cut its greenhouse gas emission levels as part of a worldwide attempt to ease climate problems. Scientists from Co-operative Research Centres (CRCs) believe carbon dioxide could be buried in a saline reservoir deep underground, as part of a national experiment to show how emissions can be eliminated." (AAP)

"Can carbon sequestration solve global warming?" - "The U.S. Government is spending millions of dollars to research the feasibility of stuffing carbon dioxide into coal seams and fields of briny water deep beneath the Earth. But, a scientist at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting argues that the government isn't thinking big enough in its plans to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere." (AAAS)

"Idea to connect gas stations to natural gas supply to fuel hydrogen powered cars" - "Researchers at the University of Warwick's Warwick Process Technology Group are leading a programme called "Hydrofueler" to develop technology to connect petrol/Gas stations to the normal natural gas supply to fuel hydrogen powered vehicles. The 2.8 million euro EC funded three year research programme has already drawn interest from Exxon Mobil, and BMW." (University of Warwick)

Hmm... fossil hydrogen should be used as transport fuel, sourced from natural gas (methane [CH4]). Assuming the reaction is methane/steam reformation [think of it as CH4 {natural gas} + energy {heat} + H2O {water}], which recombines the carbon content with readily-available oxygen in order to liberate the hydrogen, the by-product will be, um... CO2.

So, to get less energy bang for our fossil hydrocarbon buck, we strip hydrogen from natural gas and produce the same amount of allegedly greenhouse-enhancing CO2 in the process. That we should expend energy in order to extract less energy from a non-renewable fuel source, and still produce the same supposedly icky, nasty CO2 in the process, actually makes sense to some people? That's really scary!

Would it do any good to explain that "sustainable use" requires us to do more with less, do you suppose? Could these people see that extracting less energy from more fossil fuel is actually a step in the wrong direction? One certainly hopes so although latent cynicism suggests otherwise.

"PM scraps renewable energy targets" - "Tony Blair has blocked plans to produce a fifth of Britain's electricity from renewable sources, in revenge for his failure to push through a programme of new nuclear power stations. The Prime Minister has removed a target for generating 20 per cent of the nation's power from the wind, tides and waves by 2020 from the Government's energy White Paper to be published in the next few weeks. Last month he lost a battle for it to include plans to build six nuclear power stations. Britain has the greatest renewable energy resources in Europe – with 40 per cent of the entire continent's potential for windpower and some of the world's greatest supplies of wave power – but does less to exploit them than any other EU country." (Independent)

"Nuclear energy's place usurped by wind and waves" - "No more nuclear power stations will be built in the foreseeable future as the Government turns to wind and wave energy to provide Britain's future electricity needs. In a seismic shift in policy, Ministers have agreed to back renewable energy as the best way of meeting the UK's targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions." (The Observer)

"Did My Car Join Al Qaeda?" - "SALISBURY, Conn. — I drive a large, four-wheel-drive vehicle. Does that mean I'm a bad person?

You might think so, from all the sturm und drang we've heard lately from the Virtuous Ones who insist that America's fuel consumption — indeed, our very style of life — is somehow responsible for the enmity toward us in the Middle East, not to mention the rest of the world. A series of TV commercials put together by the columnist Arianna Huffington and Lawrence Bender, the Hollywood producer behind "Pulp Fiction," have even linked S.U.V.'s with Mideast terrorism. The idea is that the petrodollars transmigrate from the Gas 'n' Go to the oil sheiks to the hands of maniacs wielding AK-47's." (Woody Hochswender, New York Times)

"Fuel tax emerges as new weapon to curb air travel" - "NO NEW runways would be needed in Britain if aviation fuel was taxed at the same rate as motor vehicle fuel and air tickets were subject to VAT, government figures say." (The Times)

"US farm state senators renew ethanol mandate push" - "WASHINGTON - A group of US farm state senators launched a new effort to pass legislation that would triple the nation's use of ethanol and renewable fuels to 5 billion gallons annually by 2012." (Reuters)

"In Calif., a Crackling Controversy Over Smog" - "California's vast Central Valley, home to one of the largest farming regions in the world, is getting ever more choked by smog and haze. Its skies have become by some measures the most polluted in the country -- often dirtier and more hazardous than even the longtime smog capital of Los Angeles. And the problem could soon get worse, because the 300-mile corridor between Sacramento and Bakersfield is also the state's next frontier for growth, a once-pastoral place where subdivisions are now sprouting faster than any crop. The air is so bad that the valley is about to take a drastic step to help clean it up: Banning fireplaces." (Washington Post)

"Canada scientists warn of brewing nanotech battle" - "TORONTO - Scientists and activists are on a collision course over a new technology that operates on a microscopic scale but could have massive ramifications, and the confrontation could derail the rapidly emerging field of nanotechnology, a Canadian study shows." (Reuters)

"Symbol of cloning put to death at age six" - "Dolly the sheep, the biotechnology wonder of the ovine world and the international poster child for cloning, has died. She was euthanized by lethal injection in Scotland yesterday by the scientists who created her, to spare her further suffering from lung disease. The world's most famous sheep was just six, well short of the typical sheep lifespan of between 11 and 16 years, and her untimely death may renew the debate in scientific circles about the safety and merits of cloning." (National Post)

"Plant pathologists unpeel rumors of banana extinction" - "Will bananas really become extinct within the next decade? Not likely says a plant pathologist with the American Phytopathological Society (APS). The plant pathologist is speaking out in response to an article that recently appeared in New Scientist depicting possible extinction due to the impact of two diseases, Black Sigatoka and Panama disease, on the global production of bananas." (American Phytopathological Society)

More 'Mad Mick' mumbles: "Meacher has fears over GM crops" - "Genetically modified crops are "not necessary" to feed mankind, says environment minister Michael Meacher. Mr Meacher told The Ecologist magazine that he worried about unpredictable consequences of GM technology decades in the future and had doubts over whether biotechnology companies were telling the truth about their own trials of the crops." (Press Association)

According to The Sunday Times, Mad Mick's little outburst has generated fears amongst his colleagues of looming resignation - one can only hope.

Hope soon dashed: "Meacher attacks GM crops" - "Environment Minister Michael Meacher has denied that he is about to quit the government after he launched an outspoken attack on genetically modified (GM) crops." (BBC News Online)

See also: "Meacher's attack on GM crops reveals tensions" - "A damning attack by Michael Meacher, the Environment minister, on genetically modified foods was disowned by his own department yesterday." (Independent)

"The Worst Form of Violence" - "Poverty is the worst form of violence; this notion comes from the pacifist philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. The United Nations estimates that to avoid famine some 13 million of the poorest of the poor in countries across southern Africa will soon need 1.2 million tons of food aid. Drought, corruption, dysfunctional political institutions, and war are contributing factors. Incredibly, nations on the brink of famine are being advised by European anti-biotechnology groups (e.g., Greenpeace) to reject U.S. food aid. We see ideologically inspired pseudo-science trumping compassion." (Pete Geddes, TCS)

"UK consumers worry less about BSE, GM foods-survey" - "LONDON - UK shoppers are worrying less about food safety, including mad cow disease and genetically modified foods, but people are getting more concerned about hygiene at fast food outlets, a survey showed yesterday." (Reuters)

"Some facts about food biotechnology" - "The debate (or the lack thereof) about genetically modified food has been raging in Europe for years, and now the issue has arisen in North America. And while much has been said on the subject, the public has been generally ill informed. Half-truths and misinformation have been the hallmark of many critics of food biotechnology, while secrecy has been the norm for the industry. Neither of these positions has helped the public take part in a meaningful debate." (Robert Wager, Globe and Mail)

"FSA opens GM food debate with citizens' jury and initiatives to involve young people and low income consumers" - "A distinctive and innovative range of initiatives to independently assess people's views on the acceptability of genetically modified food and how this relates to consumer choice was announced today by the Food Standards Agency. These initiatives will form the Agency's contribution to the wider Government debate about genetic modification." (Press Release)

"GM sugar 'could save jobs'" - "Thousands of UK jobs will be at risk unless the government approves the commercial planting of genetically-modified (GM) sugar beet, according to scientific research." (BBC News Online)

"GE crops 'threaten exports'" - "THE release of genetically engineered organisms must be halted otherwise NSW state will lose tens of millions of dollars in canola and wheat exports, the Greens said yesterday." (The Daily Telegraph)

"Further delay in Brazil GMO ruling" - "SAO PAULO, Brazil - A federal court ruling on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), due last week, has been delayed and and it's unclear when it will be made, a court spokeswoman said. The delay comes despite the Federal Regional Court's rejection on Thursday of a request by Environment Minister Marina Silva to suspend a ruling on a bid by the previous government to hasten a decision by dispensing with a GMO environmental impact study." (Reuters)

February 14, 2003

"Playground Wood: Cancer Cause or Consumer Scare?" - "The Consumer Product Safety Commission scared parents this week about wood playground equipment causing cancer in children. It’s another case of a make-believe health risk leading to very real costs for consumers." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

From the UK's misanthropist-in-chief: "Human race is killing planet, says Meacher" - "Michael Meacher, the environment minister, believes there is a real question mark over the survival of the human race, and in a lecture today compares the species to a virus which is in danger of destroying the planet." (The Guardian)

Now you know, humanity's not a cancer after all - we're a virus.

"Mindlessviolence.com? No, it's more like chess" - "Shoot-'em-up computer games are more complex and subtle than many people think and are positively good for players, according to researchers who say there is a "deep community" and culture surrounding the software." (Independent)

"Study: No Nev. Environment - Leukemia Link" - "FALLON, Nev. -- A new federal investigation has found no environmental link to the high number of childhood leukemia cases in this northern Nevada town. The analysis by the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry ruled out a jet fuel pipeline and the Navy's fighter pilot training base in Fallon as sources of the leukemia, scientists said Thursday." (AP)

"To Fear and to Fund" - "Most invitations to press conferences are dull. But one sent out last April by the Swedish National Food Administration hinted that a cancer-causing chemical had been found in a wide range of foods. The levels of this mystery chemical were high, and the new results were expected to affect risk evaluation, food production and eating habits internationally. Just the invitation itself made headlines. What was the threat? How many were at risk? What to do?" (Waldemar Ingdahl, TCS)

"Pregnant women warned on soya" - "Pregnant women may be advised to avoid soya, warn researchers in the US and the UK. Urologists in the US have begun to advise pregnant women to avoid the common foodstuff following publication of a study showing severe long-term effects on the sexual development of male rats whose mothers ate a chemical found in soya." (Financial Times)

"Deaths from foodborne diseases are underestimated" - "The number of deaths from foodborne diseases is likely to be underestimated, finds a study in this week's BMJ." (British Medical Journal)

"Fresno, meet Sacramento" - " February 13, 2003 - Perhaps there will be consequences after all. In the continuing fallout from Fresno State University's "Revolutionary Environmentalism" conference (being held today and tomorrow), state legislators in Sacramento have begun asking a very good question: in the midst of a budget crisis, how can a public university spare the extra funds to hold such an event?" | PETA Wouldn't Lie, Would They? (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Monarch Butterflies Alive and Well in Mexico" - "A little more than a year after the largest known die-off of monarch butterflies occurred in the mountains of Mexico, researchers say the monarchs that migrate there appear to have recovered to near normal population levels. The finding was announced jointly by the Mexican government, the World Wildlife Fund and the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary Foundation, all of which financed or otherwise assisted the research." (New York Times)

"A global 'catastrophe' -- coal fires threaten environment, human health" - "Major underground fires are blazing in the world's coal-producing nations, threatening the environment and human health, scientists said today at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting. Although some coal fires can be impossible to extinguish, new technologies provide hope that experts may someday be able to control them, if not put them out altogether." (AAAS)

"Tropical deforestation and global warming" - "Late last year, Frédéric Achard and colleagues published a controversial article in which they contended that earlier estimates of worldwide tropical deforestation and atmospheric carbon emissions were too high. In the February 14 issue of Science, Philip Fearnside from the National Institute for Amazonian Research in Brazil, and William Laurance from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama argue that the Achard study contains serious flaws rendering its conclusions about greenhouse gases unreliable." (Smithsonian Institute)

"Climate affects recent crop yield gains" - "Scientists at the Department of Global Ecology of the Carnegie Institution of Washington in Stanford, California, have found that climate trends significantly affect corn and soybean yields. David Lobell and Dr. Gregory Asner analyzed 17 years of data on crop yields, temperature, precipitation, and solar radiation throughout the U.S. for their study and published their results in the February 14, 2003, issue of Science." (Carnegie Institution)

"Hot potato: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had better check its calculations" - "AT THE beginning of 2001 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released, as the main result of its massive Third Assessment Review, a set of figures that have become the most-cited numbers in the field of environmental policy, and quite possibly the most-cited numbers in any field of public policy. The panel, whose task was to assess the extent to which emissions of greenhouse gases may warm the planet over the coming century, reported that “globally averaged mean surface temperature is projected to increase by 1.4 to 5.8°C over the period 1990 to 2100.” This alarming conclusion has become the starting-point for popular and official discussion of global warming and the policies that might mitigate it. Bear in mind how expensive some approaches to the problem, such as the Kyoto Protocol, might be if governments actually succeeded in implementing them. Vast sums are at stake." (The Economist)

Another of Mike's missives: "End of the world nigh - it's official" - "Ignore the optimists: the global warming horror stories are all true" (Michael Meacher, The Guardian)

Parenthetically, this is the same Michael Meacher who couldn't tell the difference between a hurricane and an ENSO event. I think I'll get my weather forecasts elsewhere, thanks anyway Mike.

"Weak Response on Global Warming" - "In a transparent bit of salesmanship that should not be mistaken for a serious policy, the Bush administration announced Wednesday that it had persuaded several major industries to make voluntary reductions in the rate at which they produce carbon dioxide and other gases that contribute to global warming. It was the administration's latest effort to show that voluntary controls will make unnecessary the mandatory reductions called for by many scientists, environmentalists and members of Congress — as well as by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that Mr. Bush rejected after taking office." (New York Times editorial)

"Palmdale in a Spin Over Windmill Plans" - "Palmdale water officials had hoped a giant wind turbine would be towering over this high desert city by now, its graceful, rotating blades churning out smog-free electricity in a moving testament to environmental foresight. It was supposed to be a novel and responsible way to power a water treatment plant. But winning over the neighbors has hardly been a breeze." (Los Angeles Times)

"Europe Admits To Funding Hunger Artists" - " Three million starving Zambians are not happy with Europe these days. The Director of the European Union Commission on Consumer Protection recently admitted that Europe funds the very environmental organizations who stirred up anti-biotech hysteria in Sub-Saharan Africa, prompting Zambia's "President" to reject U.S. food aid. " (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"StarLink Settlement Unsettling for Science" - "Two biotech companies agreed last week to pay $110 million to corn farmers who lost money because of consumer fears three years ago when some genetically-modified StarLink corn, intended as animal feed, found its way into the human food supply.

Reporters could easily spin this as a story in which farmers and consumers are victims and the villains are the reckless Dr. Frankensteins of the biotech firms — aided and abetted by lax EPA regulators. But it's worth pausing to remember that no one was actually shown to be injured by StarLink." (ACSH)

February 13, 2003

"Dangerous levels of toxins miscalculated" - "Potential pollutants and poisons may be beneficial in low doses. The levels at which potentially toxic substances such as mercury and lead are classified as dangerous may have been miscalculated, two US scientists are warning. Risk assessments and regulations on safe limits for these substances in medicine and the environment may have to be rethought, they warn. There are safe levels below which potential pollutants and poisons may actually be beneficial, say Edward Calabrese and Linda Baldwin of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. For the past 30 years, cancer-causing chemicals and X-rays have been viewed largely as dangerous whatever their level. "The field of toxicology has made a terrible blunder," says Calabrese. "A lot of high-powered people need to take the time to explore this." (Nature Science Update)

"Animal study raises concerns about soya" - "LONDON - An animal study has raised concerns about the safety of eating soya during pregnancy after male offspring of rats fed a chemical found in soya suffered sexual development problems. Male rats exposed to the chemical, called genistein, while still in the womb and later through breastfeeding developed large prostate glands and small testes and were unable to mate. Although the finding does not prove genistein is harmful to humans, scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland who conducted the research are calling for more studies." (Reuters)

"Cancer risk report did good job, U.S. panel says" - "WASHINGTON -- A panel of experts Tuesday affirmed a report that said nuclear fallout from atmospheric atomic bomb tests reached virtually every part of the United States, causing at least 11,000 cancer cases over 50 years." (Reuters)

"Fresno Braces For Powder Keg" - " As Cal State Fresno prepares for an academic event featuring eco-terrorists, animal rights convicts, and their academic apologists, some local media are still loath to admit that anything is amiss. Fresno Bee columnist Bill McEwen is characterizing the event as a potential boon to the university, and whose only drawback could be the risk of "upsetting donors." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Rare antelope driven to edge of extinction by well-meaning conservationists" - "A well-meant but misguided decision by conservationists is driving a central Asian antelope to the brink of extinction, a report claims today.

Poachers who were encouraged to hunt the saiga, an antelope of the steppes of Russia and Kazakhstan, to ease the pressure on rhino in Africa and Asia, have brought about a catastrophic 97 per cent fall in the animal's numbers in a decade, according to this week's New Scientist magazine.

The decline from more than a million to fewer than 30,000 is through to be the most sudden and severe population crash of a large mammal. The saiga has been hunted, says the report by Fred Pearce, a science writer, because in the early 1990s the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and other conservation groups actively promoted the saiga horn as an alternative to the horn of endangered rhinos, which is used as an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine." (Independent)

"A back door to Kyoto?" - "Why do bad ideas linger with such persistence in the halls of Congress? This question came to mind when Sens. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Joseph Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, recently introduced legislation to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to prevent global warming." (H. Sterling Burnett, Washington Times)

"U.S. businesses pledge to help deal with climate change" - "WASHINGTON - A wide range of businesses, from automakers to paper mills, pledged to improve efficiency and find other ways to help curtail the growth of climate-changing gases. The pledges "are a first step in what we expect to be an ongoing engagement" with the private sector to address climate change, President George W. Bush said in a statement Wednesday." (Associated Press)

"Voluntary Pacts Reached to Curb Greenhouse Gases" - "WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 — Administration officials announced several modest agreements with a number of industries today for voluntary controls on emissions of gases linked to global warming. The agreements, a result of aggressive meetings with industry executives, are an effort to stave off pending state and federal proposals for mandatory ceilings." (New York Times)

"Pollution warning over new airports" - "Environment experts have warned that plans to boost airport capacity in Kent could mean the government fails to meet targets on cutting pollution. Members of the Sustainable Development Commission said on Wednesday the government was unlikely to meet its pledges to reduce carbon dioxide emissions." (BBC News Online)

"AG Reilly disputes suggestion that offshore seabed not federal property" - "BOSTON -- The seabed of Nantucket Sound belongs to the federal government, Attorney General Tom Reilly said Tuesday, refuting an assertion by the Army Corps of Engineers, which has permitted preliminary construction of the nation's first offshore wind farm in the waterway.

Reilly filed a friend of the court brief in U.S. District Court Tuesday, favoring an environmental group and fishers who are suing the Army Corps and a private developer, challenging the legality of a test tower for the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm.

The Army Corps, which approved the initial data-collecting tower, argued that the federal government did not own the seabed, and therefore the Corps could permit a private developer to build on that land, Reilly's office said." (Associated Press)

"California Fees May Hit Renewable Power Generation" - "SACRAMENTO, California, February 12, 2003 - Billions of dollars of proposed fees pending before the California Public Utility Commission threaten to cloud the future of California's burgeoning renewable energy industry and work at cross purposes with state programs to promote clean, efficient technologies to meet the state's growing demand for electricity, say energy industry executives." (ENS)

"Doing the dishes wastes water" - "Washing up study uncovers dirty secret. Some people who wash their dishes by hand are sending the environment down the drain. They can consume more than ten times the water and twice the energy of a dishwasher. "People need to start thinking about their washing-up habits," says home-economics technologist Rainer Stamminger of the University of Bonn, Germany. "If we can change their behaviour, we can do something for the environment." (Nature Science Update)

"EGYPT: New EU Controls Threaten Farmers" - "CAIRO, Feb 12 - New pesticide controls are set to make it harder for Egyptian farmers to export to the European Union. "New European Union (EU) legislation is banning about 500 ingredients," says Salwa Dogheim, director of the government-run Central Lab for Residue Analysis of Pesticides and Heavy Metals in Food (CLRA). "This has created a big problem for Egyptian exports because most of those pesticides are still used in our country." (IPS)

"UK Mulling DNA Bar Code for Gene Altered Products" - "LONDON - Genetically modified foods and organisms could soon contain DNA bar codes to make it easier for regulators to spot contaminated crops or foods. The National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB), a charitable company in Cambridge, England, has applied for a patent on the technology. "The British government is considering forcing biotech companies to use DNA bar-coding to identify genetically modified organisms (GMOs)," New Scientist magazine said Wednesday." (Reuters)

"New Zealand to toughen controls on genetic modification experiments" - "WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- New Zealand plans to introduce tougher controls on the testing of genetically modified organisms before the expiration in October of a two-year moratorium on field trials, officials said Wednesday. The moves are part of a government policy to "proceed with caution" while preserving research opportunities by introducing genetically modified substances in New Zealand under strict controls, Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said." (Associated Press)

February 12, 2003

"US wary on new EU chemicals plans, official says" - "BRUSSELS - The U.S. administration is looking nervously at European Union plans for sweeping new regulations for the chemicals industry, a U.S. trade official said this week." (Reuters)

"Greenhouse gases 'at record levels'" - "British scientists say greenhouse gases are at the highest background levels ever recorded in the atmosphere. They say stabilising the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) will be harder, because a warming world will trigger feedback mechanisms. Their report says the UK exceeded its international target for cutting greenhouse emissions by 2000. The UK Government says the scientists' findings show much more needs to be done to reduce emissions." (BBC News Online)

"NCAR observing system finds high-level moisture with global implications" - "Hard-to-detect clouds and water vapor, hidden until now from most atmospheric sensors, could be helping to shape global climate. An instrument package developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research has detected layers of moisture, indicative of high-level cirrus clouds, that were missed by standard weather balloons and other instruments." (NCAR/UCAR)

"First genetic response in animal species to global warming" - "For the first time ever, a University of Alberta researcher has discovered that an animal species has changed its genetic make-up to cope with global warming. In the past, organisms have shown the flexibility--or plasticity--to adapt to their surroundings, but this is the first time it has been proven a species has responded genetically to cope with environmental forces." (University of Alberta)

"Ancient climate may augur future effects of global warming" - "Ancient lake sediments and modern computers both indicate that El Niño might react differently to global warming than current theory claims, according to a Purdue research report." (Purdue University)

"Climate change can have varying causes" - "When most people hear the words "climate change," they automatically think about global warming. After all, in the past 100 years, the average atmospheric temperature on Earth has risen about 1 degree centigrade. Global warming is widely considered to be the most alarming environmental problem that we face today.

But historically, global cooling has been a much greater problem for humanity. Beginning about 1600, for example, there was a marked cooling trend throughout the world that lasted for 200 years. In Europe, this cooling trend, which is known as the "Little Ice Age," was an unmitigated disaster. Snowfall began as early as August. Crops failed. Sheep, goats and cows died from exposure. Tragically, tens of thousands of people starved to death." (Frank Chapelle, The State)

"Forest Responses to Global Warming" - "Summary: We discover a photocopy of a 1998 paper in our office one day (none of us knows how it got there) that provides a fascinating perspective on one of the climate alarmists' favorite scare stories, i.e., the claim that CO2-induced global warming will force many of earth's trees to begin migrating to cooler regions at rates they cannot possibly sustain, leading to their eventual extinction." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summary: "Glaciers (Arctic)" - "Summary: Climate model simulations suggest Arctic glaciers should be rapidly melting in response to "unprecedented" CO2-induced global warming. Are they?" (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summary: "Insects (Butterflies and Moths)" - "Summary: A review of the literature was performed to determine if feeding upon CO2-enriched foliage impacts the feeding, development, and growth of butterflies and moths." (co2science.org)

"Cooling on the Horizon?" - "Summary: Fluctuating basin-wide fish populations suggest the Pacific Ocean may have entered a natural cooling phase that may presage an end to the "unprecedented" warming of the last two decades of the 20th century. Science 299: 217-221." (co2science.org)

"A 500-Year History of Drought in the Pacific Northwest, USA" - "Summary: What can it tell us about the climate-alarmist claim that global warming increases the frequency of severe droughts? Quaternary Research 58: 226-233." (co2science.org)

"Exxon CEO backs mandatory emissions reports" - "HOUSTON, Feb 11 - Exxon Mobil Corp. Chief Executive Lee Raymond said on Tuesday companies should be required to report carbon emissions before any rules are created to target cuts in gases blamed for global warming. "We voluntarily report our emissions and back mandatory reporting based on effective and reliable procedures as essential preconditions to policies that target emission reductions," Raymond told a Cambridge Energy Research Associates conference. Exxon Mobil has long been the focus of environmentalists' anger for its perceived reluctance to acknowledge the growing scientific data showing the role fossil fuels play in climate change." (Reuters)

"Brown resists pressure to boost green energy" - "Gordon Brown is resisting pressure for a significant increase in government spending on renewable energy, ahead of a crucial cabinet-level meeting on the issue on Wednesday. Patricia Hewitt and Margaret Beckett will lobby the Treasury for hundreds of millions of pounds for renewable energy and energy saving programmes. The bid for new cash by the trade and industry and environment secretaries is the last big obstacle to finalising the delayed energy white paper. But serious disagreements remain within government over how ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gases should best be met and funded." (Financial Times)

"£60m package will save four pits" - "A £60m government rescue package to save the remnants of Britain's deep mine coal industry is to form a central part of the energy white paper to be published in the next few weeks. The £60m fund has been negotiated from the Treasury by the industry secretary Patricia Hewitt and energy minister Brian Wilson. The cash should keep the industry alive for at least another five years." (The Guardian)

"US says 'wrestling' with anti-EU biotech case" - "BRUSSELS - The U.S. administration is finding it tough to decide on launching a trade dispute case against the European Union over its ban on gene-modified foods, a U.S. trade official said." (Reuters)

"Minister pledges redress for GM harm; Organic and conventional crops set to win protection" - "Organic and conventional farmers should have the right to compensation if their crops are damaged or made unsellable by cross pollination from neighbouring GM fields, the environment minister, Michael Meacher, said yesterday. At present farmers who choose to grow genetically modified crops have no liability if they damage a neighbour's livelihood. Mr Meacher said this could not continue and the government was considering changing the law." (The Guardian)

"Slow germination of GM crop debate" - "The environment minister Michael Meacher today insisted the government had provided enough money for an open debate about genetically modified foods, but conceded discussions had got under way "slower than we would have wished." (The Guardian)

"Leader: Talking the talk; Renew the debate on GM food" - "If you want a flavour of the debate currently rumbling in Britain about genetically modified crops, then point your browser to www.gmpublicdebate.org. The website, run by the independent board managing the national discussion, contains views from concerned citizens, scientists and a Bible-quoting chemist. While the opinions are no doubt passionately held and, in most instances, coherently argued, they amount less to a national conversation and more to a chat among interested parties. True, there have been three public meetings organised, as well as conferences, like the one organised by this newspaper yesterday; but the volume of debate is muted compared to the noise generated a year ago." (The Guardian)

"Full text of Robert May's speech" - "The following is the full text of the speech delivered today by Lord Robert May, head of the Royal Society, at the Royal Society's scientific discussion of the GM crops debate" (The Guardian)

February 11, 2003

"Peer trouble" - "How failsafe is our current system at ensuring the quality and integrity of research? Not very, says John Crace" (The Guardian)

"UK group reveals women unaware of heart disease risk" - "10/02/03 - A new report launched today by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) warns that the majority of women in the UK are dangerously unaware of the deadly threat of coronary heart disease (CHD). It calls for immediate action to tackle the number one killer of women. According to the BHF’s new report, ‘Take Note of Your Heart’, only one in four women recognise that CHD is the single biggest threat to their life expectancy, while 40 per cent consider cancer the greatest threat. In reality, in 2001 CHD claimed the lives of over 54,000 women in the UK – more than four times that of breast cancer." (NutraIngredients.com)

"BBC NEWS | Health | Diarrhoea bug may protect against cancer" - " The bacteria that causes violent diarrhoea among people travelling in the developing world may not be a such a bad thing after all. Scientists believe that the bug, E. coli, may also protect against colon and bowel cancer."

"Suit: Power Plant Led to Cancer; Parents say an FPL facility sickened their 8-year-old boy" - "WEST PALM BEACH -- The parents of an 8-year-old boy sued Florida Power & Light on Monday, saying the nearby St. Lucie nuclear power plant caused his cancer. The lawsuit cites a report that said a carcinogen was found in the baby teeth of children living near FPL's two nuclear-powered plants, the one at St. Lucie and the other at Turkey Point south of Miami. The cancer-causing substance, which imbeds itself in bones and teeth, is produced only by nuclear explosions and nuclear reactors. The study by the Radiation and Public Health Project said the high level of the radioactive substance, strontium-90, could be responsible for an apparently higher-than-average childhood cancer rate in South Florida." (Associated Press)

"Give Us All a Break!" - " He's blowing buildings up and you're giving him money." That's a summary of PETA's relationship with convicted arsonist Rodney Coronado, as delivered on Friday night's "20/20" broadcast by ABC's John Stossel. In a groundbreaking critique of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Stossel documented the money trail between PETA and a violent Animal Liberation Front criminal, showing millions of Americans the darker side of the animal-rights group." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Towards a humanist environmentalism" - "Eventually, the Iraq business will be over. Then it will be time for those most vexed with the Bush administration over Saddam Hussein — namely, left-wing Democratic partisans at home and an uncertain segment of opinion abroad — to find something else about which to be driven to distraction. May I suggest a closer look at a creeping Bush neo-environmentalist agenda touched upon in the State of the Union speech?" (Tod Lindberg, Washington Times)

"World 'needs green Geneva Convention'" - "The world needs safeguards to protect the environment that match the Geneva Conventions, a senior United Nations official says. The environment is often neglected as "the long-term casualty of war", he argues. Similarly, struggles over natural resources like water are frequently the reason why conflicts begin. So protecting the environment, and "putting poverty to the sword", are the best ways of protecting the peace." (BBC News Online)

"Flawed Snowfall Data Jeopardize Climate-Change Research" - "When it comes to snowfall, even a flurry is likely to provoke a blizzard of reporting. "People love hearing about snow," said Nolan Doesken, a meteorologist at Colorado State University. But too often, he and other experts say, the nonstop coverage of winter weather masks a troubling decline in reliable snowfall statistics. "The loss of snowfall data globally is a major concern," said Dr. Barry Goodison, a climatologist in Toronto. As chairman of a scientific steering group in the World Climate Research Program, Dr. Goodison depends on snowfall figures to help predict climate change. But too often, he said, the information he needs does not exist." (New York Times)

"The World Needs a New Focus on Climate" - "In California, El Nino -- the climate event caused by the periodic warming of tropical Pacific Ocean waters -- has had heavy effects on lives, property and the economy. In 1997-98, storm losses due to El Nino reached $1.1 billion in the state; the U.S. total was put at $25 billion.

Understanding the natural processes that lead to an El Nino and other climate events is a central concern to scientists, policymakers and economists. Knowing more about how and why these events occur will have far-reaching implications, leading to improved safety measures, longer lead times, more efficient energy, agricultural and transportation practices and a growing knowledge base to address looming global climate change issues." (Conrad C. Lautenbacher Jr., Los Angeles Times)

"Great Alaska Shootout II" - "Frustrated with an inability to achieve their political aims through legislation, climate change alarmists are trying new tactics. In the February issue of Scientific American, an article titled "Greenhouse suits" tells us that litigation is now "a [popular] tool against global warming." Activist organizations like Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, as well as city governments of Boulder, Colorado and Oakland, California are serving as plaintiffs in lawsuits filed against large energy producers, automakers and others. The suits allege that greenhouse gases such as CO2 emitted by the products of these businesses are responsible for catastrophic - and costly - global warming." (Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas, TCS)

"Top scientists back nuclear power" - "The UK will be unable to cut greenhouse gas emissions without new nuclear power stations, the country's top science academy has warned. The Royal Society has urged the government to show "political courage" in its forthcoming White Paper on energy, and make a clear decision on the future of nuclear power. Without nuclear energy, Britain would have to rely increasingly on fossil fuels, leading to increasing carbon dioxide emissions and the catastrophic consequences of global warming, it said." (BBC News Online)

NZ finding wishes & hopes don't quite cut it: "New Zealand Herald - Dialogue - Energy answer is blowin' in the wind" - "About 1.30pm last Wednesday, an unplanned shutdown of the Maui gasfield in Taranaki occurred because two generators on the main offshore platform failed while a third generator was out for maintenance. The effect was to remove fuel supplies from electricity-generating stations operating on natural gas and responsible for about a quarter of the country's electricity supply."

"A Glimpse of a Future in a New Kind of Light" - "How many scientists does it take to change the light bulb? It's not a joke. The ubiquitous light bulb is quietly on its way to becoming as quaint a relic as the gas lanterns it replaced more than a century ago. Incandescent bulbs, neon tubes and fluorescent lamps are starting to give way to light-emitting microchips that work longer, use less power and allow designers to use light in ways they never have before." (New York Times)

"The Macon Telegraph | 02 10 2003 | Researchers looking into using plants to clean polluted land" - "In the future, those who own polluted property may abandon costly cleanup methods such as lugging contaminated soil to landfills in favor of using nature's own vacuum cleaners: plants. Researchers at the University of Georgia and the Savannah River nuclear site are among scientists across the country studying how plants withdraw contaminants from underground soil and water. The technique, called phytoremediation, still hasn't been accepted by regulators. But some scientists estimate its price tag could be as little as a quarter the cost of conventional methods."

"U.S.-Europe Food Rift" - "TOTNES, England, Feb. 7 — At the Happy Apple greengrocer in this Elizabethan town in England's West Country, the roasted vegetable pasty is labeled, clearly and proudly, as GM-free. So is the hommity pie and a scattering of other products crammed onto shelves. In fact, all across Britain and most of the rest of Europe, shoppers would be hard pressed to find any genetically modified, or GM, products on grocery store shelves, and that is precisely how most people want it." (New York Times)

February 10, 2003

"Government Report Says Wood Playsets Pose a Cancer Risk" - "WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 — Scientists at the Consumer Products Safety Commission said today that children playing on millions of outdoor wood playground sets nationwide face an increased risk of bladder and lung cancer from arsenic exposure." (New York Times)

Hmm... many millions of children have been in intimate contact with CCA-treated timber over the last three decades - so where are the bodies attributed to this alleged hazard? What is the relative disease risk of under-exercised (read: overweight) kids compared with those that are/have been CCA-exposed? Will restricting access to challenging play equipment result in improved public health? (No points for guessing that I'm extremely doubtful about the alleged health benefits of this EWG-generated scare campaign.)

"Our fear of childhood" - "A decade of increasing parental fear and anxiety have reduced children's quality of life. We need to realise that we can not simply pass new laws to meet every eventuality." (Gillian Thomas, The Observer)

"Koop backs book minimizing danger of toxins to children" - "Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop says a new book documents that there is no scientific evidence to validate the claim that children are more at risk from trace levels of environmental chemicals than adults. The book, "Are Children More Vulnerable to Environmental Chemicals?" was published by the American Council on Science and Health." (Washington Times)

"U.N. Conference Backs Efforts to Curb Mercury Pollution" - "NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb. 8 — Delegates attending a United Nations environmental conference here last week endorsed a global crackdown on pollution caused by mercury, although the United States blocked efforts for binding restrictions on its use. Mercury, a highly toxic heavy metal, is particularly dangerous for infants and children, and it can be passed from pregnant women to their fetuses. Human exposure to mercury comes from a variety of sources — consumption of fish, occupational and household uses, dental fillings and some vaccines." (New York Times)

"Urban Runoff Killing Salmon in Washington" - "SEATTLE, Washington, February 7, 2003 - Every time it rains in Seattle, the storm water sweeps a wide array of urban pollutants into the city's creeks. Faced with mounting evidence that this runoff is killing endangered salmon at alarming rates, state and city officials are wrestling with the economic and environmental consequences of new plans to further protect the city's creeks." (ENS)

"EPA Chief Critiqued -- Naturally" - "Is she a friend or foe, a realist or obstructionist? Christie Whitman says she's just doing her job" (Los Angeles Times)

"In Towns That Slowed Growth, Backlash Stirs" - "ERIE, Colo., Feb. 5 — As a bruising recall campaign ended here this week, Mayor Barbara Connors was still in office and her policies to slow the growth of this old mining town northwest of Denver were intact.

Yet the battle to save her political life and beat back overdevelopment was only the latest of a small but growing number of conflicts around the country over so-called slow-growth policies. Such policies were all the rage in recent decades, when rampant growth was viewed as a bad thing, but their supporters are not having an easy time of it in the current economic downturn." (New York Times)

Fat Fight: "Big Fat Fake: The Atkins Diet Controversy and the Sorry State of Science Journalism" - "It was exactly what millions of obese Americans wanted to hear: Diet guru Robert Atkins has been right all along; conversely, the "medical establishment" that has routinely criticized him has been entirely wrong. Unlimited-calorie, high-fat meals are the key to low-fat bodies. So claimed award-winning science writer Gary Taubes in an 8,000 word New York Times Magazine blockbuster that appeared last July, "What If It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?" (Michael Fumento, Reason)

Editor's note: There have been millions of words penned on the topic and doubtless there'll be millions more. There is, however, just one thing you really need to know: calorie deficit = weight loss. There's even a fairly simple formula: deficit of ~3500 calories = loss of ~1lb (ie, use ~500 more calories per day than you consume and you'll lose ~1lb per week - the reverse also applies).

Note that the important point for weight loss is calorie deficit. Whether you induce this deficit via increased exercise, reduced consumption or some combination strategy is largely irrelevant. If you need to spend all your money on diet plans such that you can't afford to consume sufficient calories for your exercise level, that's up to you, as it is if you wish/need to adhere to anyone's "magic method" to achieve that all-important lack of calories.

Regardless, JunkScience.com will tell you, without book deals or subscription fees, that the recipe for weight loss is to use more calories than you consume, while doing the reverse is the recipe for lard-butt.

"Forget about the Gulf Stream: Britain is really kept warm in winter by the Rocky Mountains" - "Generations of schoolchildren have been raised on the belief that the mild British winters and cool summers are due to the moderating influence of the Gulf Stream, a warm ocean current flowing from the Gulf of Mexico to the shores of western Europe.

Without the Gulf Stream, our teachers told us, Britain's winters would be as cold and ice-bound as a frozen port in Newfoundland and its summers as hot and stuffy as a Moscow August.

But the text books have got it wrong, according to scientists who have just finished a study of what makes western Europe cool in summer and mild in winter." (Independent)

"Russia: Wild Card in Kyoto Pact" - "Fears are mounting among environmentalists that the Bush administration has embarked on a fresh effort to kill an international treaty on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by pressuring Russia to bow out, too." (Wired News)

"Build more nuclear plants, Royal Society says" - "Britain's national academy of sciences is urging the Government to end its self-imposed moratorium on the building of nuclear power stations when it publishes its Energy White Paper later this year. The Royal Society, the UK's leading scientific body, says in a statement issued today that doing nothing on nuclear power is not an option if the Government wants to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas." (Independent)

If allegedly troublesome enhanced greenhouse-forcing is their best reason for maintaining nuclear power generation then nukes are in deep trouble.

"Plan for electricity from tidal flow" - "Plans are underway to build giant underwater electricity generators in the Severn Estuary. West Wales engineer Richard Ayre will build five tidal generators and drop them between the two Severn bridges. They will sit on the sea bed and produce enough electricity to power hundreds of homes." (BBC News Online)

"Anglers are finally off the hook: fish feel no pain" - "Anglers, rest easy. Fish cannot feel pain. Or so the largest study into piscine neurology has concluded.

An academic study comparing the nervous systems and responses of fish and mammals has found that their brains are not sufficiently developed to allow them to sense pain or fear. The findings represent a significant victory for anglers, whose sport has been under attack from animal rights activists buoyed by their success in securing a partial ban on foxhunting." (Sunday Telegraph)

"Aussie cancer discovery" - "VICTORIAN scientists have beaten the world to a breakthrough that will lead to a new generation of cancer drugs. The discovery has created such excitement overseas that 15 top researchers will arrive in Melbourne next month for a conference on the treatment. Researchers at federally funded Co-operative Research Centre found a way to "turn off" a molecule that causes cells to become cancerous." (Sunday Herald Sun)

"Moral Courage" - "Despite a severe famine in southern Zambia, the Zambian government rejected maize from the World Food Program, a consortium of relief agencies. The Zambian government not only rejected the food aid but demanded that it be removed from the country. Why? Because some of the maize donated by the United States is transgenic. The predictable result of refusing food aid in this dire situation is that southern Zambians are desperate for food - surviving on wild fruit and plants, even poisonous tubers that must be carefully prepared to remove most of the poisons." (Drew L. Kershen and Piero Morandini, TCS)

"Talk may be best US tool in EU biotech fight" - "WASHINGTON - Rhetorical pressure - and not a formal trade complaint - may be the best tool the United States has to force the European Union to drop its 4-year-old moratorium on genetically modified products, a top U.S. official said. The comments by Commerce Undersecretary Grant Aldonas were another sign the United States was backing away from bringing a World Trade Organization case against the EU on the issue." (Reuters)

February 7, 2003

"Did PC Science Cause Shuttle Disaster?" - "NASA now doubts tank foam debris caused the Columbia disaster. That’s quite a shift from days earlier when the foam was the “leading candidate” -- an explanation that quickly became embarrassing." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"NASA Cedes Authority in Columbia Shuttle Inquiry" - "HOUSTON, Feb. 6 — Under sharp prodding from Congress, NASA formally transferred authority for the investigation of the shuttle Columbia disaster to an independent review board today and agreed to add members to the panel with no ties to the space agency.

Also today, the shuttle program manager, Ron D. Dittemore, retreated from his assertion on Wednesday that it was unlikely that the impact to the shuttle from a piece of foam that fell from the external fuel tank during launching could have doomed the spacecraft." (New York Times)

"U.S. Seeks 54 Exemptions on Pesticide Ban" - "WASHINGTON, Feb. 6 — The Bush administration is requesting exemptions for 54 companies and trade groups that want to continue using a pesticide scheduled to be phased out by 2005 under a treaty to protect the ozone layer, officials said today. All but two applications have been approved in whole or in part by the Environmental Protection Agency. The requests come from businesses like tomato and strawberry growers and operators of golf courses who say they need to use the chemical, methyl bromide, and have no alternative, the officials said." (New York Times)

"Mexican, U.S. officials discuss measures to combat freon smuggling" - "MONTERREY, Mexico -- The contraband is smuggled across the Rio Grande in backpacks, hidden from border inspectors in the cavities of cars, and shipped north by the ton concealed in 18-wheel tractor-trailers. It is not drugs that are the target of the latest anti-smuggling effort between the United States and Mexico, but environmentally dangerous refrigerants used in 20 million automobile air conditioners in the United States." (Associated Press)

"Study: No Leukemia Link in Nevada Town" - "FALLON, Nev. -- A federal study of a childhood leukemia cluster in this northern Nevada town found high levels of tungsten and arsenic in most residents -- but nothing to indicate that either caused any cancers. Based on the results, however, the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked the National Institutes of Health to research possible links between tungsten and cancer, scientists said Thursday." (AP)

"Protecting a Gun Law, or a Family" - "IN all likelihood, most New Yorkers would find it hard not to sympathize with Ronald Dixon. No, that's too soft. In all likelihood, most New Yorkers would find it close to impossible not to sympathize with Mr. Dixon, or question his right to do what he did." (New York Times)

"Electric kettles may damage your health, scientists warn" - "The everyday habit of making a cup of tea may be contributing to a health problem that affects up to one in 10 Britons. The government is to launch research into whether using boiled water from old-style electric kettles is worsening skin allergies through nickel leaching off exposed elements." (The Guardian)

Making businesses an offer they can't refuse: "WWF in the dock over island quarry deal with French firm" - "WWF, the world's largest conservation group, was last night under pressure to cancel a lucrative £3m partnership deal with a French company seeking to build a massive quarry on the island of Harris.

WWF, which has 5 million supporters worldwide, tells potential conservation partners: "When your company enters into a conservation partnership with WWF, you ... add value to your marketing and communications strategy. ... you gain global public recognition for environmentally sound behaviour." (The Guardian)

... it's nothing personal - strictly business.

"Permanent El Nino fears eased by research" - "Fears that Australia's drought-stricken climate could soon collapse into a permanent El Nino state because of global warming have been eased by Danish researchers.

In research published in the latest issue of the journal Science, the researchers studied the sediment layers of two ancient lakes in the United States and Germany to reconstruct the El Nino cycles of the Eocene period, 35 million to 55 million years ago. They did this because that period's abnormally hot weather - the Pacific Ocean was about 10 degrees warmer - mimics the temperatures that global warming may cause at the end of this century." (The Age)

"US to unveil greenhouse gas commitments" - "The White House will next week unveil commitments from US companies to curb emissions of greenhouse gases. The promises stem from President George W. Bush's effort to enlist industry support for his climate change initiative, which aims for an 18 per cent reduction in "greenhouse gas emissions intensity" - measured against gross domestic product over the next decade." (Financial Times)

"Kyoto seen threatening oil sands" - "CALGARY -- The Kyoto Protocol continues to pose a threat to oil sands projects, particularly those in the early stages such as Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.'s Horizon project, a Canadian rating agency has concluded. Gary Beagle, in a Dominion Bond Rating Service Ltd. report to be released today, said uncertainties over Kyoto-related costs could delay or derail some of the proposed multibillion-dollar megaprojects." (Globe and Mail)

"EU aims to improve greenhouse gas monitoring system" - "BRUSSELS - The European Commission launched a proposal this week to improve the monitoring of European Union greenhouse gas emissions to enable it to better meet its international commitments." (Reuters)

"German nuclear power exit jars with CO2 goals - DAtF" - "FRANKFURT - Germany's plans to give up nuclear power and fill the supply gap from coal, gas and renewable sources conflicts with its greenhouse gas reduction targets, the country's nuclear industry lobby said." (Reuters)

"Hundreds of new trains sidelined" - "More than 1,000 new train carriages will have to stand idle in Ministry of Defence sidings across the country because of power shortages on Britain's busiest commuter routes." (Daily Telegraph)

"Invitation to Eco-Extremists Is Criticized" - "Cal State Fresno's upcoming academic conference on "revolutionary environmentalism" -- including speakers associated with extremist groups tied to fire bombings and vandalism -- has riled critics from the campus to the community at large." (Los Angeles Times)

"Man's heart is repaired after cardiac arrest with muscle taken from his leg" - "A Frenchman aged 72 has become the first patient to have his failing heart successfully repaired with muscle taken from elsewhere in his body. Surgeons used muscle cells from the man's leg to replace an area of the heart that had been damaged because of a severe heart attack." (Independent)

"GM crops boost yields more in poor countries" - "Field trials in India suggest that genetically modified crops have far greater benefits in developing countries, than the developed countries for which they were designed. The farm trials of cotton genetically modified to produce a bacterial toxin produced increases in yield of up to 80 per cent, compared with non-GM counterparts. This is much greater than the improvement seen in developed countries where yields are boosted by less than 10 per cent, say the researchers. While many groups have opposed GM crops, others argue there is a moral case for introducing GM technology to developing countries, to help tackle poverty and hunger." (NewScientist.com news service) | Genetically modified crops in India produced greater yields, reduced pesticide use, new study finds (University of California - Berkeley)

"GM Crop Yet To Take Root In Government Psyche" - "New Delhi, February 6: The government and the private companies are clearly divided over the introduction of genetically modified crop (GM). While the industry is in favour of GM seeds, the government feels that it should not be introduced at the cost of bio-diversity." (Financial Express)

"Biotech firms pay $110 million to settle StarLink lawsuit" - "Two biotechnology companies have agreed to pay a combined $110 million to settle a lawsuit filed by farmers who claimed they were hurt by consumer fears generated when unapproved biotech corn was discovered in the food supply.

Several food companies ordered national recalls after StarLink corn appeared in products such as taco shells and chips in 2000. The class action lawsuit, filed by commercial corn farmers who didn't grow StarLink, alleged that the fiasco hurt the entire corn market, especially overseas exports.

On Wednesday, a federal judge in Chicago preliminarily approved the settlement between the farmers and StarLink Logistics Inc., a fully owned subsidiary of StarLink creator Aventis SA and Avanta USA, which owns StarLink distributor Garst Seed Co. Lawyers for the farmers said further court review was needed before the settlement becomes final." (Associated Press)

February 6, 2003

"Questions Arise Over Ingredient of Columbia Shuttle Insulation" - "Questions were raised yesterday about whether the foam that came off the shuttle Columbia's external fuel tank was a problem-plagued formulation that several years ago replaced the original insulating foam used on the shuttle fleet." (New York Times)

"NASA Now Doubts Tank Foam Debris Doomed Columbia" - "HOUSTON, Feb. 5 — NASA officials expressed doubt today that a piece of foam from the external fuel tank that struck the shuttle Columbia during its liftoff could have led to the destruction of the ship." (New York Times)

Typical fare from MSNBC's resident bonehead: "Our bodies, our landfills? You are what you ate, breathed, drank and more" - "Feb. 5 — Two recent studies cast dramatic light on the extent to which Americans are absorbing toxic chemicals in their bodies as part of everyday life. They present a striking picture of Americans riddled with low levels of chemicals, the vestiges of eating, drinking, breathing and touching the synthetic products of the industrial world. Given how common these chemicals are, can personal actions and better choices reduce one’s level of exposure in a toxic world?" (Francesca Lyman, MSNBC)

"Mobile phones 'may trigger Alzheimer's'" - "Mobile phones damage key brain cells and could trigger the early onset of Alzheimer's disease, a study suggests. Researchers in Sweden have found that radiation from mobile phone handsets damages areas of the brain associated with learning, memory and movement." (BBC News Online)

"Greenhouse gas watchdog is too green, says review" - "The agency that oversees the reduction of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions has been accused of ignoring industry concerns to pursue a pro-environment agenda. An independent review, by the former Howard Government minister Warwick Smith, also recommended that the Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO) be merged with the federal environment department, and that negotiations on the global Kyoto protocol be left to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

"Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad" - "Today's Washington Post reports that PETA co-founder and president Ingrid Newkirk has faxed a letter to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, pleading with him to stop the senseless killing of middle-Eastern animals." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"F.D.A. Says Food Supply May Contain Altered Pigs" - "The Food and Drug Administration said yesterday that it was investigating the possibility that genetically engineered pigs might have been illegally sold for use as food. The agency said it did not consider the pigs to present any risk to public health. Still, the incident is the latest of several that call into question whether regulations are adequate to assure that the food supply remains safe as plants and animals are increasingly engineered to produce drugs and other products. The pigs were created at the University of Illinois as part of an experiment to see if they could be made to grow faster without injections of antibiotics, a common practice that has raised safety concerns." (New York Times)

"Drought-resistant GM crops: a promising future" - "The recent catastrophic crop failure in southern Africa due to drought has brought on famine conditions of epic proportions. It also raises the question: what could genetic modification (GM) technology offer to poor farmers working marginal lands vulnerable to drought, including many of those in sub-Saharan Africa?" (SeedQuest)

"New fears raised about GM plants" - "Further questions have been raised about consequences of growing genetically modified plants after Australian scientists showed that a hoped-for method of preventing "superweeds" does not work. Scientists had hoped that by injecting foreign genes away from a plant cell's nucleus, the GM plant's pollen would remain free of the genes and not infect other plants." (The Melbourne Age)

"Out of Africa" - "It's a welcome event in Brussels when you can get past the political posturing and double-speak and finally hear some straight, sincere talk. And, lo and behold, that's just what happened at a quiet press conference in a hotel basement recently when a group of African scientists and farmers came to town to talk about biotechnology." (Craig Winneker, TCS)

"Monsanto takes GM crusade to Brazil" - "Monsanto's interim chief executive will go to Brazil in early March to try to persuade the government of the benefits of genetically modified (GM) crops in its campaign against hunger. The company, which has the biggest stake of any agricultural company in biotechnology, has been seeking approval for its RoundUp Ready soyabeans in Brazil for some time. Although Monsanto received initial approval in 1998, progress since then has been stalled by the Brazilian courts. Last year one judge ruled in favour of acceptance, but the other two judges have failed to issue an opinion." (Financial Times)

February 5, 2003

"Psyching up the green consumer" - "The United Nations is turning to social science in its quest to steer the world towards greener lifestyles. The UN Environment Programme (Unep) is working with psychologists and behavioural scientists to understand what makes consumers tick. It thinks there is little benefit in making people feel guilty about the way they live. It wants instead to make sustainable living something consumers will increasingly desire." (BBC News Online)

Poor neo-Malthusians, they can never comprehend that consumer demand drives technological advance and innovation such that we constantly do more with less (the very essence of sustainable use), synthesise, substitute and grow according to need. The greatest danger to that sustainability comes from those who wish to inhibit human activity and endeavour - the neo-Malthusians themselves.

"Power Politics" - "A few years from now a glass of water like this could be a luxury, if politicians can't agree on a way to protect our water supplies," exclaims a fictitious assistant in a new cartoon strip published by the European Parliament." (Matthew Elliott, TCS)

"Ghana's gold dilemma" - "The Ghanaian Government is agonising over whether to grant licenses to six mining companies which are ready to invest over $2bn or preserve the forest and help save the earth. Over the past five years, only a handful of new mines have opened as against dozens in the early to mid 1990s. Five of the prospective mining companies are interested in mining for gold, but the ore is located inside forest reserves." (BBC News Online)

"Bush Plan Seeks More Sierra Logging" - "The Bush administration is drafting a proposal that would greatly increase logging in national forests in the Sierra Nevada and effectively jettison an elaborate set of environmental protections adopted in 2000 after years of study and analysis. Complaining that the rules, written by the Clinton administration, are too restrictive and complicated, the U.S. Forest Service is considering replacing them with a much looser set of guidelines that could permit a level of timber cutting not seen in the Sierra for more than a decade." (Los Angeles Times)

"Frogs take a bath for survival" - "A special 'bath' to detect frogs infected with the chytrid fungus - one of the worst killers of frogs - has been concocted by CSIRO researchers. Dr Alex Hyatt, CSIRO Livestock Industries, says the simple bath is just one strategy in an international effort to reverse the world-wide decline of frogs." (CSIRO)

"MoD challenges ruling on Gulf war syndrome" - "As troops prepared for a new war against Iraq yesterday, the Ministry of Defence went to the high court to argue that there is no such thing as Gulf war syndrome. The MoD is challenging a ruling by a war pensions tribunal that Shaun Rusling, a former sergeant in the parachute regiment, suffers from the syndrome as a result of his service in the 1991 conflict. The landmark ruling in Mr Rusling's favour is the first official recognition that the syndrome exists, something the MoD has always denied." (The Guardian)

"Toxic Chemical Study Sounds Warning for Children" - "WASHINGTON, DC, February 4, 2003 - The most extensive study of the toxic chemicals to which Americans are exposed has found encouraging evidence that levels of lead, pesticides and tobacco related chemicals have declined over the past decade. But the report, released last week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, offered worrying evidence that children are more exposed than adults to a range of toxic chemicals." (ENS)

"Herbal Remedies: Natural Does Not Mean Safe" - "The popularity of herbal medicine and other alternative treatments has sharply increased. But they continue to remain unregulated." (New York Times)

"Sparrows can't vote" - "Atheists and agnostics have long made hay with the Bible's assertion that the Lord notes the death of every sparrow. Their sceptical tone is well-summarised by Frank Caravella's song Birds of My Own which asks plaintively: "If God sees every sparrow fall, why can't he see me?" The Lord can answer that one for himself, but nobody can accuse our secular masters of being blind to the whole rich tapestry of life. As the nation agonised about war and constitutionalists fought over the House of Lords yesterday, the Commons spent a good half-hour on - the future of the British sparrow." (Leader, The Guardian)

Amongst the little gems about sparrows bandied about recently, this in a Guardian leader: "He transfixed an adjournment debate with figures like these: in 1925, a survey of Kensington Gardens counted 2,603 sparrows; a similar count in 2000 found eight."

So, is the "dreadful decline" of this boring brown bird a sign of global warming? Is its decline acting as the coalmine canary, indicating horrendous pollution perhaps? Or is there an equally boring reason (or combination thereof)? Could it perhaps have something to do with constantly changing environment? For example, building improvements certainly haven't done anything to maintain prolific breeding sites for house sparrows but it could always be that the sparrow population was artificially high in old London town. They may already have been returning to a more normal population distribution in 1925 since the last horse bus service in London ran from Peckham Rye to Honor Oak Tavern on 4 August 1914, part of a larger transport revolution that significantly reduced the availability of grain (new and used) for city co-dwellers.

If UK residents are really distressed about the apparent lack of sparrows, Australia is awash with the feral pests, come & help yourselves.

"SPECIAL REPORT: Activists Fishing For Danger" - " If activists have their way, supermarket chains in California will end up paying $2,500 in fines for every day they sold fish without "warning labels" about mercury. The Turtle Island Restoration Network, a spin-off of the money-grubbing Earth Island Institute and one of the two groups to initiate a lawsuit against the supermarkets, says it wants to "inform the public of the health hazards of mercury in fish." But the government agencies whose job it is to warn the public about such things tell a different story." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Fast-paced lifestyle helps to erode teens’ teeth" - "As quick meals in the form of "nutrition" bars and carbonated beverages help keep teens alert and on schedule between school, extracurricular activities and part-time jobs, today's fast-paced lifestyle threatens to leave a generation with permanent damage to oral and overall health according to a new report that appears in the January/February 2003 issue of General Dentistry." | Soft drinks, teens and cavities | The most common childhood disease can be prevented (Academy of General Dentistry)

"Warming Oceans Linked to Four Year Drought" - "CAMP SPRINGS, Maryland, February 4, 2003 - Droughts that spread across the United States, southern Europe and southwest Asia over the past four years may have been linked by a common thread: ocean conditions created by a warming climate. A new study suggests that cold sea surface temperatures in the eastern tropical Pacific and warm sea surface temperatures in the western tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans worked together to cause widespread drying." (ENS) [em added]

"Tasmanian Sea Levels - The `Isle of the Dead' Revisited" - "Last week, the world's media was abuzz with reports from Tasmania that a 160-year-old tidal mark had been found in south-eastern Tasmania, and that scientists had concluded that it showed evidence of `dramatic' sea level rise during the 20th century.

The media blitz which preceded a public lecture given in Hobart by the scientists involved, spoke volumes about the wider political agenda at stake.

Now the full details about exactly what these scientists think they have found - and more importantly the errors they have made - and the fragile statistical base upon which their `sea level rise' scenario rests, is all detailed in Part 1 of this report on Tasmanian Sea Levels." (John L Daly, Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment and Human Heath" - "Summary: Reasons for seriously investigating the hypothesis that elevated levels of atmospheric CO2 positively impact human health continue to mount. Will we thoroughly investigate them before ignorantly accepting the alternative hypothesis that more CO2 is bad for the biosphere?" (co2science.org)

"Subject Index Summary: ENSO (Relationship to Global Warming)" - "Summary: Will global warming increase the frequency and intensity of ENSO events? Climate alarmists say yes. Real-world data say no." (co2science.org)

"Current Carbon Sequestration Commentary: Lowly Lichens and Algae Help Arid Lands Sequester More Carbon as the Air's CO2 Content Rises" - "Summary: The earth possesses a vast array of mechanisms for tempering tendencies for climate changes that could be detrimental to the biosphere. We here explore another one that could so easily be overlooked." (co2science.org)

"Sediment Record of the Bransfield Basin, Antarctic Peninsula" - "Summary: Does it depict the Little Ice Age? The Medieval Warm Period?? Even earlier cold and warm periods of like intensity and duration??? Quaternary Research 58: 234-245." (co2science.org)

"The Permafrost Temperature Record of Barrow, Alaska" - "Summary: Recent unprecedented warming in Alaska is about to do unprecedented damage to the state's permafrost. Right? Wrong! EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union 83: 589, 593-594." (co2science.org)

"A Brief Synopsis of Ice Sheet Dynamics" - "Summary: Great is the concern expressed by climate alarmists whenever a chunk of polar ice breaks loose and sets to sea or streams of water emanating from the planet's ice caps discharge into the ocean. But is the situation really as bleak as they claim? Indeed, is it even bleak at all? Science 298: 2147-2148." (co2science.org)

"HYDROGEN-POWERED CARS?: Home-grown fuels deserve attention, too" - "Look both ways before proceeding into traffic. When President Bush said last week that he wanted to put his (actually your) money on development of hydrogen-fueled cars as a key environmental initiative for years far down the road, he diverted attention from here-and-now options to reduce pollution, dependence of foreign oil and build jobs in corn and soybean states like Minnesota and Wisconsin. Bush simply wasn't looking both ways when he touted the long-term hydrogen car funding proposal while saying nothing in his State of the Union address about policy choices that can be immediately effective to keep American rolling." (Pioneer Press)

What a shame it takes more fossil fuel to grow "biofuels" than are produced as a result.

"Working out what genes do" - "Scientists have launched a major international initiative to systematically uncover the function of each of our genes." - BBC News Online)

"Comments on BBC's Seeds of Trouble" - "Naively, I suppose, I tuned in to BBC Radio 4’s "Seeds of Trouble" (8 pm) on Tuesday 7 January 2003 in the vain hope that I might hear some balanced and informed reporting of the real issues or facts surrounding the development of GM crops and modern biotechnology to enhance global food security, and improve the environment and human health. But even the title presaged what is, by now, the predictable UK media and BBC journalistic bias that has completely contaminated any so-called rational "debate' in this country for so many years." (Michael Wilson, AgBioView)

"U.S. Delays Challenge to Europe's Ban on Modified Food" - "WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 — With war looming in Iraq, the Bush administration has decided against antagonizing its European allies and has postponed filing a case against the European Union for its ban on genetically modified food, according to senior administration officials." (New York Times)

"U.S. seeks allies for a WTO case against the EU's ban on genetically modified food" - "GENEVA - The United States is trying to persuade other countries to join it in a legal complaint over the European Union's moratorium on imports of genetically modified food, a senior official said Tuesday. "I am very confident that there will be more than one country involved in such a case," Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Peter Allgeier told reporters." (Associated Press)

February 4, 2003

"Debris Is Now Leading Suspect in Shuttle Catastrophe Inquiry" - "HOUSTON, Feb. 3 — NASA investigators said today that a piece of insulation that broke off the shuttle's external fuel tank about 80 seconds after liftoff was now a prime suspect in the cascading series of failures that destroyed the shuttle Columbia 16 days later." (New York Times)

"EPA vs. Space Shuttle?" - "Summary: In the late-1990s, NASA reformulated the spray-on insulation of the Shuttle's external fuel tank in order to comply with EPA directives designed to reduce ozone depletion. One of the known problems with the new formulation? A tendency for insulation to flake off during Shuttle ascension." (brian.carnell.com)

"Gun Industry Ex-Official Describes Bond of Silence" - "A former senior firearms industry executive said in an affidavit filed in court in San Diego yesterday that gun manufacturers had long known that some of their dealers corruptly sold guns to criminals but pressured one another into remaining silent for fear of legal liability. It is the first time a senior official in the gun industry has broken ranks to challenge practices in the business.

The affidavit, by Robert A. Ricker, a former chief lobbyist and executive director of the American Shooting Sports Council, then the main gun industry trade organization, was filed in California Superior Court in support of claims by 12 California cities and counties suing the gun makers and their wholesalers and retail dealers." (New York Times)

"The War Against the Fur Trade Backfires, Endangering a Way of Life" - "EDMONTON, Alberta, Jan. 30 — Native Canadians here in the frigid north tend to be soft-spoken and guarded about expressing their opinions to outsiders; that is, until the conversation turns to the subject of the antifur campaigns that began in the late 1960's. Little wonder. The unintended consequences of the war against fur have hurt the livelihoods of thousands of Canadian Natives, and have enticed them to replace their lost incomes by welcoming into unspoiled areas the oil, gas and mining interests they once opposed." (New York Times)

"The New Sensationalist" - "What has happened to the New Scientist? It has featured prominently on our Worthwhile Links page for a number of years. We describe it as "Simply the best science site there is." The current issue, however, leads us to experience a feeling not dissimilar to that of being let down by an old and trusted friend. In place of defence of the scientific enterprise that NS has traditionally championed we find a lurid, sensational cover more typical of Hello magazine or the red top tabloids - Can Fast Food Alter Your Brain in the Same Was as Tobacco and Heroin? - a largely rhetorical question since we are urged to believe that it clearly can." (SIRC)

"Environment ministers at UN meeting seek to reduce global levels of mercury" - "3 February – Global action to reduce mercury levels is high on the agenda for environment ministers from around the world, who convened in Nairobi today for the opening of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council's annual meeting." (UN News) [Global Mercury Assessment (PDF)]

"Global warming may worsen mercury pollution - UN" - "NAIROBI - Mercury pollution must be tackled before global warming exacerbates its noxious effects, the United Nations warned yesterday it its first report into the worldwide dangers posed by the heavy metal." (Reuters)

"Climate change extends hay fever season" - "Spring this year will be heralded by the sound of sneezing, coughing and nose blowing as the nation's 12 million hay fever sufferers make an early start to the season. Climate change means that the trees and grasses most associated with hay fever are flowering early. Because of warm winters, sufferers can experience symptoms as early as the end of February and the season which once ended in July runs through August." (The Guardian)

Slick Willy has a problem with gas: "Clinton, Stones Join Over Global Warming" - "LOS ANGELES - Former President Clinton is shuffling out of Harlem to help the Rolling Stones raise awareness about global warming." (AP)

"A Modest (Nine-Step) Proposal" - "Recent polling data suggests we should dispense with scientific research altogether. Global warming is the problem. The three-part answer is adopting the Kyoto treaty, imposing higher fuel economy standards on SUV's, and putt-putting around town in electric cars. The people have spoken. Case closed." (Stephen W. Stanton, TCS)

"Klein urges Russians to kill Kyoto" - "CALGARY - Ralph Klein, Alberta's Premier, is looking for allies in Russia to bolster his fight against the Kyoto Protocol. Mr. Klein said he's writing letters to the governors of Russia's three major oil and gas producing provinces to relay Alberta's concerns about the international accord. Under the terms of the treaty, the protocol can't come into force until Russia ratifies it." (Financial Post)

"Businesses want cash for solar energy research" - "The solar energy industry needs an injection of extra money from the government, according to a group of leading companies. ICI, the chemicals group, and BAA, the airports operator, are among the businesses that have sent a statement to Brian Wilson, the energy minister, calling for a further £150m for the industry. This would be on top of a £30m support programme announced in 2001, which runs out next year." (Financial Times)

"PETA's Preposterous Push-Polling" - "Every election season, a few political campaigns make the front pages with “push” polls -- the kind that pretend to measure public opinion while really spreading propaganda." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Cholera and the age of the water barons" - "When cholera appeared on South Africa's Dolphin Coast in August 2000, officials first assumed it was just another of the sporadic outbreaks that have long stricken the country's eastern seaboard. But as the epidemic spread, it turned out to be a chronicle of death foretold by blind ideology.

In 1998, local councils had begun taking steps to commercialize their waterworks by forcing residents to pay the full cost of drinking water. But many of the millions of people living in the tin-roof slums of the region couldn’t afford the rates.

Cut off at the tap, they were forced to find water in streams, ponds, and lakes polluted with manure and human waste. By January 2002, when the worst cholera epidemic in South Africa’s history ended, it had infected more than 250,000 people and killed almost 300, spreading as far as Johannesburg, 300 miles away.

Making people pay the full cost of their water "was the direct cause of the cholera epidemic," David Hemson, a social scientist sent by the government to investigate the outbreak, said in an interview. "There is no doubt about that." (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists) [This is the first segment in a 10-part series]

"GM food: tackling poverty and consumer acceptance" - "03/02/03 - European Commissioner for Research, Philippe Busquin, claimed recently that Europe has a strong moral obligation towards the people of developing countries to help combat poverty and disease, as he launched a debate on the life sciences and biotechnology in sustainable agriculture last week. The European Commission, assisted by the European Group on Life Sciences (EGLS), organised a two day conference, at which a group of panellists gave their views, in particular on the consequences of current agricultural practices and the impact of biotechnology on sustainable agriculture in developing countries." (FoodNavigator.com)

"EU backs poor farmers' seed use" - "The European Union is proposing two far-reaching curbs on the power of the biotechnology industry. It says companies seeking patents should have to say where they found any natural product they are appropriating. The EU also says poor farmers should be free to continue their traditional practice of saving and exchanging seeds, even ones already patented. The proposals will be discussed by the World Trade Organisation (WTO)." (BBC News Online)

February 3, 2003

"Study Finds Lower Level of Old Toxins but New Trends Are Worrying" - "The broadest study yet of toxic chemicals that Americans absorb in their bodies showed a continuing decline in the clearest threats, like lead, pesticides and tobacco residues, but turned up numerous other findings that federal scientists and other experts called troublesome yesterday." (New York Times) [New CDC report on human exposure to chemicals]

"Forget smoking ban and restrict air pollution, says US academic" - "The proposed ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants has been described as "hypocritical" by a US professor, who cited a recent study showing that air pollution in cities was equally dangerous. "The same dangerous health effects - or much worse - are caused by second-hand smoke from cars, trucks and power plants. But we regulate those, we don't ban them", said Prof Kevin M.Leyden, of the University of West Virginia." (Irish Times)

"US urges firms to make "dirty bomb" treatment" - "WASHINGTON - The U.S. government last week urged drug companies to begin marketing pills containing Prussian blue, an artist's pigment used for centuries that can also protect people exposed to a radioactive "dirty bomb." (Reuters)

The anti-everything brigade is getting very small-minded: "WATCHDOGS SAY STOP NANOTECH, START WORLDWIDE DIALOGUE" - "Jan 31, 2003 – An advocacy group that helped quash efforts to introduce genetically modified products in Europe, Africa and elsewhere intensified the spotlight on nanotechnology Wednesday with a report recommending a halt to some nanotech activities. Nanotechnology officials and observers said the report raises important questions, but is flawed and its recommendations are misguided." (Small Times)

"From Nanotechnology's Sidelines, One More Warning" - "The ETC group releases nervous commentary on nanotechnology in the same way a lot of companies update their software: each version is compatible with what was said before but adds new features. The latest effort by ETC — which pronounces its name "et cetera" — is an 80-page illustrated manifesto called "The Big Down," its most elaborate effort yet to generate alarm among the global network of social, labor and environmental groups." (New York Times)

"Herbicide Maker to Do More Water Tests" - "WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 — The Environmental Protection Agency said today that it would require a pesticide manufacturer to conduct extra monitoring of water flowing into some treatment systems in the Midwest to detect contamination by a common weedkiller. The world's biggest agricultural business, Syngenta, a Swiss corporation with North American headquarters in Greensboro, N.C., voluntarily agreed to do more frequent testing to measure levels of the herbicide atrazine in water systems. The manufacturer already monitors water for levels of atrazine, one of the most widely used herbicides in the United States that is frequently applied to cornfields and lawns." (AP)

"Study: Drought Worsened by Global Warming" - "USA Today reports that according to the authors of a study published in the journal Science, global warming "probably made the recent drought in the USA worse than it otherwise would have been." However, such claims should be regarded with a healthy dose of skepticism, warns Cato Institute Senior Fellow Patrick Michaels." (Cato Institute)

"The False Promise of Hydrogen" - "In his State of the Union address, George W. Bush proposed that the federal government spend $1.2 billion on hydrogen fuel-cell research. "With a new national commitment, our scientists and engineers will overcome obstacles to taking these cars from laboratory to showroom, so that the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free," Bush said. "Join me in this important innovation, to make our air significantly cleaner and our country much less dependent on foreign sources of oil."

Bush obviously feels significant pressure to appear that he's doing something about the environment. At some point it might dawn on him that there's nothing he can say or do that will satisfy the radical environmental lobby and their media lapdogs." (Paul Georgia, NRO)

"France to pitch for experimental fusion power plant" - "PARIS - France said last week it will put forward a plan to build a giant experimental thermonuclear power plant on its turf as part of an international project to develop a clean and new energy source." (Reuters)

"EU slashes sulphur content in road fuels from 2005" - "BRUSSELS - The European Union has passed a law requiring much lower amounts of sulphur in petrol and diesel by 2005, with a total phase in of "sulphur free" fuels by 2009, the European Parliament said." (Reuters)

"bma on gm crops: clarification" - "Following reports on BBC Online and Radio 4 News today about the reasons behind the BMA's forthcoming review of the science of genetically modified (GM) crops and foods, Dr Vivienne Nathanson, Head of BMA Science and Ethics, made the following statement:

"Today's BBC reports stating why the BMA would be undertaking a future report of GM crops and food are wrong.

"The BMA's report from 1999 was an interim report reflecting the early stage of scientific evidence reviewed. A round table meeting with scientists with knowledge of the developments in research and other parts of the evidence base is planned for later this year." (Press release)

"India’s President Endorses Biotech Crops for the Poor and the Wildlife" - "India, set to become the world’s most populous nation, just fired a major broadside at the First World activists opposing genetic engineering in agriculture. India’s President A. P. J. Kalam publicly endorsed genetically engineered crops in a January 26 speech commemorating the 54th anniversary of India’s independence. Dr. Kalam urgently recommended biotechnology for agriculture to launch “a second Green Revolution.” (Dennis T. Avery, CGFI)

"Top Italian miller to spurn gene-modified wheat" - "ROME - Italy's biggest miller, Grandi Molini Italiani (GMI), will avoid importing genetically modified (GM) U.S. wheat, which is moving closer to regulatory approval in the United States and elsewhere, its CEO said." (Reuters)