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Archives - January 2002

January 31, 2002

"California's breast cancer blight" - "California boasts the world's fifth largest economy, the biggest population in the US and is home to Silicon Valley and the film industry. And you can now add to that glittering list of achievements the title "breast cancer capital of the world. A report just published by the Northern California Cancer Center says the San Francisco Bay Area as a whole has the highest rate of the disease for anywhere on the globe. More alarming is the fact that there has been a 20% jump in breast cancer cases in one year among white women in Marin County, situated just north of the city of San Francisco." (BBC Online)

While this article does eventually get around to some rational reporting, compare the difference:

"Scientist: Marin cancer rate may reflect people, not place" - "The newest figures showing a 20 percent annual spike in breast cancer rates in Marin County probably have less to do with geography than with the type of women studied: white, affluent and bearing children later in life or not at all, according to a scientist involved in the survey." (Tri-Valley Herald)

which is why Suzanne Bohan got a special mention for non-sensationalist reporting.

Sigh... "Men carrying pollutant have more boys - U.S. study - 1 30 2002 - ENN.com" - "WASHINGTON -- Men who have higher levels of polluting chemicals known as PCBs in their bodies are slightly more likely to father boys, researchers said Monday. The researchers at Michigan State University said their study showed that human beings can be affected sexually by the chemicals, which cause sex-related defects in animals." (AP)

I had hoped that this stupid release: "MEN WITH HIGH LEVELS OF PCBs MORE LIKELY TO FATHER BOYS" was simply an aberration but, no, Reuters & AP are proliferating this garbage around the globe. Offspring sex ratios ±5% in a minuscule sample forsooth! SHEEESH!

"World forum wants more openness in food scares" - "MARRAKESH, Morocco, Jan 30 - Authorities should be completely open in assessing the risks during food scares to avoid misunderstanding and public panic, a UN-sponsored global forum of food safety regulators said Wednesday. "Some concerns were expressed that the mass media may misreport a food safety emergency and cause public panic," the forum said in a final statement after three days of talks involving about 300 food safety experts from 104 countries." (Reuters)

"German docs call for ban on antibiotics in feed" - "FRANKFURT, Jan 30 - Following a series of health scares in which the banned antibiotic chloramphenicol turned up in food, the German Medical Association (BAeK) has called for a total EU-wide ban of the use of antibiotics in animal feeds." (Reuters Health)

"Malign Providence" - "The latest grenade in the War on Obesity was lobbed by The Providence Journal in an editorial this week. The paper blamed "cheap and plentiful prepared food" for obesity, while praising "expensive, time-consuming to prepare" organic food as an answer. Falling for the trick of the anti-fat jihad, the Journal cries for someone to protect the children, faulting restaurants that "aggressively court children" with toys and soft drink companies that "target school districts."

"As long as fast-food and soda companies continue their marketing assault, as long as we let mass media and video games have a choke hold on our free time, and as long as it is cheaper and easier to be fat, liberating America from its obesity will be near-impossible," the paper argues.

It seems that the Journal has joined ranks with the anti-fat brigade. What the paper's readers may not know is that anti-obesity activists want to use soft drinks in schools as a "wedge" issue meant to open up all sorts of foods and beverages to new government regulation, treat food advertising like "tobacco advertising to children" to spark government intervention, and even call for "the government doing battle with the food industry." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Environmentalists Urge Pesticide Fight" - "WASHINGTON, Jan 29 - Environmentalists are urging the Canadian government to fight a lawsuit filed against it by a major U.S. chemical company under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Activists say they worry Canada will cave in to Crompton Corporation, which has filed suit against the Canadian government for banning the pesticide lindane. Officials in Ottawa have capitulated in similar challenges filed under NAFTA's investment protection provisions, known as Chapter 11, they note." (Inter Press Service)

"Denmark to Slash Environmental Spending" - "COPENHAGEN, Denmark, January 30, 2002 - Large cuts in Danish spending on environmental policy making and aid to developing countries were confirmed yesterday in a draft 2002 budget unveiled by the government. The supplementary proposal follows the victory of center-right parties in elections last November." (ENS)

"World Wildlife Fund: Bush Administration Undermining Successful Passage of Kyoto Climate Treaty?" - "WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 -- World Wildlife Fund is urgently seeking clarification from the White House on its actions regarding other countries' ratification of the Kyoto Protocol following remarks by the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Paul Cellucci, last Friday." (U.S. Newswire)

"More floods to come; Build on hills, modelling of past and present climate warns" - "The flood warnings are out again in the UK this week. Last year, record rainfalls hit England, causing widespread flooding. Around 11,000 people were evacuated from homes and businesses and the railway network was brought to its knees. Two studies now show that the future may hold many more sandbagged river banks and submerged streets.

Climate scientists shrug off the question of whether the catastrophic winter of 2000 was a taste of climate change to come, or if it was just extraordinarily wet, a freak event unlikely to recur in the near future. "Scientifically, this is not a meaningful question," says Tim Palmer of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts in Reading, UK.

But seeing the devastation, Palmer decided to probe the connections between catastrophic flooding and changing climate. With Jouni Räisänen of the Rossby Centre in Norrköping, Sweden, he rephrased the question into one more scientifically meaningful: will the risk of extreme rainfall increase in a changing climate?" (Nature Science Update)

"Climate Studies Point to More Floods in This Century" - "Two separate teams of scientists are predicting more extreme rainfall and greater flooding in this century. According to their projections, it will be particularly striking at northern latitudes—across Canada, Alaska, northern Europe, and northern Asia, regions that already receive the most precipitation. But the equatorial tropics and Southeast Asia are also likely to have increased rainfall and flooding. Both teams, one from the United States and the other from Europe, attribute the expected pattern to global warming accelerated by human activities." (National Geographic News) | Europe Set for Years of Wet Winters - Scientists (Reuters)

"Worldwide hunger more a political problem, study finds" - "The key to helping developing countries with hungry populations is not just providing more food - it is eliminating war and providing stable, democratic governments. A new study of 53 developing countries with populations over 1 million found that high levels of child hunger in these countries was linked most to high levels of internal war and violence, political repression, high levels of arms trade, and population pressures." (OSU News)

"NORMAN E. BORLAUG TO RECEIVE PUBLIC WELFARE MEDAL, ACADEMY'S HIGHEST HONOR" - "WASHINGTON -- The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has selected Norman E. Borlaug to receive the academy's most prestigious award, the Public Welfare Medal. Established in 1914, the medal is presented annually to honor extraordinary use of science for the public good. Borlaug has dedicated his life's work to improving agricultural techniques and food production in the developing world. A leader in the war against hunger and deprivation, Borlaug is credited with preventing the deaths of millions through the development and widespread use of high-yielding, disease-resistant wheat strains grown with improved agronomic practices." (National Academy of Sciences)

"Back To The Future" - "Organic marketers want to take agriculture in a revolutionary direction. Unfortunately, it's the Cuban Revolution. The Institute for Food and Development Policy (commonly known as "Food First") has just released a book on "sustainable agriculture" in the struggling Communist nation -- and assert that Cuba's agriculture system is a "successful case study" that should be an example to the world.

But Cuba relies on antiquated agricultural methods out of necessity, not choice; technology has been essentially frozen for over 40 years. Writes Indur Golkany of the Political Economy Research Center on such outdated methods: "Imagine the devastation that would have occurred had agricultural technology been frozen at 1961 levels… Massive deforestation, soil erosion, greenhouse gas emissions, and losses of biodiversity would occur with the more-than-doubling of land and water diverted to agriculture, but hunger and starvation would not decline… Such tragic results did not happen, thanks to improvements in productivity at each step of the food and agricultural system." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

Happy to oblige observant readers: ""Mysterious 'Alien' Corn Invades Mexico Countryside" - Now compare it with this story from a few days ago from Newsweek/MSNBC: "The Tale of the Mystery Corn in Mexico’s Hills"

Note the description of how the Mexican farmer went about intentionally hybridizing GM corn with the native verities she had been growing. Mexican farmers have been doing this for the last six thousand years and the process is identical to the one used in any American research lab. This story was not as hysterical as the one you reported on.

Evidently Mexican farmers are always on the lookout for new and improved verities of corn. Unfortunately they did not consult their local Green propagandists first. The good news is that the Greens are not going to be able to stop the GM revolution, unless they put a gun to the head of every farmer on the planet.

The comparison makes interesting reading."

Indeed Mike, it does.

"Activists Press For GM Food Labelling" - "Three Greenpeace activists dressed up as monkeys yesterday to attract attention during a protest outside Legco to urge the Government to introduce a labelling system for genetically modified foods." (South China Morning Post)

"GM food safest ever - Australian scientist" - "“Genetically modified crops are going to be the safest new foods that we've ever introduced into the human diet”, according to Dr Phil Larkin of CSIRO Plant Industries in Canberra. Dr Larkin made this assertion on ABC radio while discussing the findings of his research into plants and the proceedings of the Conference of the International Association for Plants Tissue Culture and Biotechnology held in Armidale last week." (Life Sciences Network)

"Government signals GM cool-off" - "The UK Government has hinted it may be cooling its attitude towards genetically modified crops, after it called for a fresh public debate on the issue. Even if the results of GM field trials around the UK - due next year - are successful, ministers may not approve the technology, despite previously insisting the decision would be based on science alone." (BBC Online)

"Biotech Justice" - "As more farmers plant GMO crops, legal issues multiply. Henry Ford could hardly have foreseen, in the 1890's, that the descendants of the Model T would spur countless lawsuits - plus a new insurance industry to protect drivers and automobile manufacturers against damage claims. In much the same way, agricultural biotechnology is seeing its share of lawsuits and legalese. Problems that were unforeseen when the genetically modified crop revolution took off a few years ago are turning into full-blown legal issues. Some have landed in court. The growing legal concerns suggest that farmers must take active roles to insure that they're fairly treated as new ground rules are set to determine who pays when something goes wrong with biotechnology." (Soybean Digest)

"The Scientific divide: Text of speech given by Professor Tom Sanders at the Food Foundation debate" - "There is a popular belief that modern food production techniques are responsible for many of the ills of society particularly among the Green Movement, and that we should return to some Tolkeinesque rural idyll where food is produced locally using organic farming methods and that food should be bought in farmer's markets and corner shops. I wish to challenge this view." (Social Issues Research Centre)

"2002 crucial year for GMO/non-GMO markets, says new report" - "Brookes West economic consultants announced the launch of a new report entitled ‘Current & future GM crop market dynamics: the case of soybeans’. A key conclusion drawn from the report shows that 2002 will be crucial for shaping the markets for non GM derived material relative to GM derived material, especially in Europe." (soyatech.com)

January 30, 2002

?!! "vCJD blood transfusions infect 22 patients" - "BLOOD donations from victims of the human form of BSE might have infected 22 people with the fatal disease, it was revealed yesterday. The identity of the people who received blood from the vCJD victims has always been known to the blood services, but the decision was taken not to tell them unless they tried to give blood themselves as there is no test, cure or treatment for the disease." (The Scotsman)

Um... read: 'might contract' / 'might have been exposed'... but NOT 'transfusions infect...'

"World animal health group: Test sheep for mad cow" - "MARRAKESH, Morocco, Jan 29 - The world animal health organisation said on Tuesday that countries must test sheep flocks infected by scrapie for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). Experts fear that scrapie could mask BSE, also known as mad cow disease, which could potentially sicken humans. Alejandro Thiermann, president of the Animal Health Code Committee at the International Epizootic Office (OIE), said that should BSE be present in sheep, it would be much like scrapie. "Although there is no scientific evidence proving that scrapie poses a threat to humans, the needed differential tests are essential to answer this question," he told Reuters in an interview." (Reuters)

"Some want ban of PBDE chemical - The Times of India" - "A chemical flame retardant commonly used in foam furniture padding is accumulating so rapidly in the breast milk of nursing mothers that environmentalists and some scientists are calling for a ban on it. Little is known about the toxic nature of polybrominated diphenyl ether, commonly known by the acronym PBDE. Early studies show it poses some of the same dangers as PCBs and DDT. Those two chemicals were banned in the United States decades ago for their myriad detrimental effects on animal and human health."

Same dangers as PCBs and DDT? Thank heavens there's nothing to worry about then.

And about time: "Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Evidence Is Precluded as Not Scientifically Accepted" - "In a personal injury action, plaintiffs sought to introduce evidence that they had been diagnosed with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), an alleged hypersensitivity to many chemicals, following exposure to a chemical product manufactured by defendant. Defendant moved to preclude testimony by plaintiffs' expert witness, contending that MCS has not gained general acceptance in the scientific community. The court granted preclusion, stating that plaintiffs failed to proffer sufficient evidence raising fact issues as to whether MCS has gained general acceptance. A position paper on MCS offered by plaintiffs' expert, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, described methodology accepted by that college, but the court did not accept it as proof of general acceptance within the scientific community." (Law.com)

"Mobile phones harm children - The Times of India" - "LONDON: Children were advised to keep their mobile phones away from their head and lap as much as possible by scientists overseeing new research into potential dangers from radiation. They advised against frequent use of mobiles over long periods by young people and encouraged them to text message instead. Even then they should keep the phones well away from "other organs which may be vulnerable", a warning particularly aimed at boys."

"Leukaemia study points to pre-birth factors in disease" - "Cancer researchers say they have more evidence pointing towards pre-birth causes of childhood leukaemia. The development adds weight to theories that parents have little to fear from childrens exposure to environmental influences such as cellphone towers or high-voltage power lines. Researchers at Otago University's Cancer Genetics Laboratory have had their findings published in the American medical journal Blood." (New Zealand Herald)

"Boffins get choice picks at "rat boutique" - "WASHINGTON - A rat boutique where researchers can browse for rare breeds and special genetically engineered rodents has opened for scientific shopping, the National Institutes of Health has said. Rats are the backbone of much scientific research, but only a few off-the-shelf models are available, the National Centre for Research Resources, part of the NIH, said yesterday." (Reuters)

"Thyme for a sweeter cow pat" - "CATTLE may one day be less flatulent and their cow pats smell sweeter, if a £2 million project to add plant oils and extracts into feed is successful. Plants offered a "safe, green alternative" to existing additives such as antibiotics, said Dr John Wallace, leader of the international project at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen. The EU-funded research will screen 500 plants and their extracts to make livestock production more efficient, improve animal welfare, help the environment and curb antibiotic resistance in people. (UK Telegraph)

"Farming faces major shake-up" - "A "watershed" report into food production and farming in England has called for reform of the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy, arguing the current situation is unsustainable. The Policy Commission on the Future of Farming and Food, chaired by Sir Donald Curry, recommends a sea change in the way agricultural subsidies are dispensed. The independent report calls for subsidies to be redirected from producing crops to protecting the countryside." (BBC Online) [Farm report gets two cheers (BBC Online)] [Report brands farm and food industries 'dysfunctional' (The Guardian)] [Food and farming policy commission report: main points (The Guardian)] [Full text of commission report (PDF)] [Curry’s report suffers early attacks (The Scotsman)]

"The End Of An Industry?" - "This threat is greater than that in Afghanistan. This is not only a threat to the environment, it is a threat to the American economy and democracy."

Osama bin Laden? al-Qaeda "dirty bombs"? No -- the American hog farming and pork industry, according to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., of the Waterkeeper Alliance. Kennedy's group and their "high-powered set of lawyers" threaten hog farmers with lawsuits filed under racketeering laws meant to nab mobsters -- with the goal of, in Bobby Jr.'s words, putting "an end to this industry."

It's just the latest recklessness by Kennedy. It's not our word: Robert Boyle, founder of Riverkeeper (the core group of what grew into Waterkeeper) and Kennedy's onetime mentor, has said Kennedy "is very reckless. He's assumed an arrogance above his intellectual stature." And as an attorney who has worked with Kennedy has put it, Kennedy "separates himself from good science at times in order to aggressively pursue an issue and win."

Bobby Jr. has now turned that aggression on meat producers. He's said of the pork, poultry, and beef industries: "We're starting with hogs. After the hogs, then we are going after the other ones." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

Harrumph!... "Climate change: Treatment is affordable"  - "Few still doubt the human hand is at play in climate change and global warming. But many fret at the cost of reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that cause them. Canada has the second-highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the world. If we ratify the Kyoto Protocol, we'll have to reduce them by 6 per cent from 1990 levels. That means reducing our emissions by 26 per cent from current levels, because we are emitting so much more now than we were in 1990. If we don't ratify Kyoto, we'll still have to act to stop climate change." (Globe and Mail)

"It's the folks next door, complaining about Kyoto" - "Planetary warming, like terrorism, must be fought globally rather than locally. Against this enemy, all borders are permeable. Yet the United States seems to believe it can deal with the threat of greenhouse gases alone. Or rather, not alone, but with Canada. U.S. isolationism is to bear an asterisk from here on. For the asterisk, read ''Canada, too.''  (Globe and Mail)

"Canada's on thin ice" - "The Canadian government doesn't need to hunt in Afghan caves for threats to our security and sovereignty. A threat much closer to home is being all but ignored. Evidence is mounting that Canadian Arctic ice is melting at a greater rate in summer than has been previously recorded. This means the dream of an ice-free Northwest Passage for commercial shipping could become a reality." (Globe and Mail)

"New global thermostat reading -- The Washington Times" - "Oh, dear. What will the doomsayers say now? How will they explain away yet two more scientific studies that clearly contradict the global warming orthodoxy? For much of the past 14 years, since the United Nations created its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we've been warned that human activity is overheating the planet." (Joseph Perkins)

"Global Warmth: A Proven Protection Against Large and Rapid Climate Changes" - "Summary: Climate alarmists continue to spin scare stories of impending climate catastrophe based on hypothetical scenarios of potential climate change that are flatly refuted by real-world data. In fact, not only are their stories wrong, they're a hundred and eighty degrees out of phase with reality." (co2science.org)

"Thirty-Five Years of Climate Change in Antarctica" - "Summary: According to today's most sophisticated climate models, earth's polar regions should be experiencing considerably more warming than the rest of the globe. According to today's best set of Antarctic temperature measurements, however, our southernmost continent is not one of the fastest warming places on earth. In fact, it's not even warming. In fact, it's actually cooling. In fact, it's cooling faster than almost any place on earth. And it's hell for the continent's meager ecosystems. Nature: advance online publication, 13 January 2002 (DOI  10.1038/nature710)." (co2science.org)

"Climate History of the Southeastern Barents Sea" - "Summary: Sometimes it was warmer than the present; sometimes it was cooler. But that's how climate is; it varies. And during the period of time we identify with the Medieval Warm Period, it was . do we really need to tell you? . warmer! Journal of Quaternary Science 16: 717-726." (co2science.org)

"Corals That Tolerate High Temperatures" - "Summary: They may be more common than many have imagined. Coral Reefs 20: 185-189." (co2science.org)

"Farms of the Future: What Should They Grow?" - "Summary: As the air's CO2 content continues to rise, how can commercial agricultural enterprises make the most of this valuable resource? Scientists with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service are providing some important answers by determining what cultivars of different crops respond most strongly to atmospheric CO2 enrichment. Australian Journal of Plant Physiology 27: 979-984." (co2science.org)

"Rush Hour" - "In a June 11 Rose Garden speech, President George W. Bush detailed his plan to address the perceived threat of man-made global warming. Wisely, the dominant theme of the speech was his pledge of financial resources in pursuit of scientific knowledge. President Bush made clear that until the science better describes what is happening with the earth's climate, the U.S. would not risk the economic hit the Kyoto Protocol and other energy suppression measures would deliver." (Chris Horner, Tech Central Station)

"Senators, EPA, Energy Department at odds over air pollution, global warming" - "WASHINGTON - Lawmakers who are working to reduce emissions from coal-burning power plants are frustrated by the Bush administration's determination to craft separate policies to deal with air pollution and climate change." (AP)

"Climate Change Could Devastate U.S. Wetlands" - "WASHINGTON, DC, January 29, 2002 - Global climate change threatens the health of lakes, streams, rivers and wetlands throughout the United States, finds a new report from the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. The temperature increases and variations in weather patterns projected for the next 100 years will change the distribution of freshwater fish and affect many other aquatic species, the report argues." (ENS) | New Report: Climate Change Threatens Health of America’s Lakes, streams, Rivers, and Wetlands (Pew Center for Generating Climate Clap-trap)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT, January 28, 2002 Vol. 3, No. 4" - "It’s summertime in Antarctica. Researchers are spending more time out on the ice and as a consequence, the continent has been in the news a lot, recently. The recent spate of coverage began when Nature magazine published, on-line, a study by Peter Doran and colleagues who find, on average, that Antarctica has been cooling since the mid-1960s. The authors suggest their finding "poses challenges to models of climate and ecosystem change." This is because all of the computer-based General Circulation (climate) Models predict that Antarctica should be rapidly warming in the way it does when the models are run with an increasing concentration of greenhouse gases. (See Virtual Climate Alert 3:3 for more details). Now along comes a study in last week’s Science magazine." (Greening Earth Society)

"Green Alert January, 28, 2002 Vol. 1, No. 17" - "In nearly all scenarios of carbon dioxide-induced global climate change, northern peatlands figure prominently. This is because they cover a vast area (estimated to be close to 350 million hectares or 1.35 million square miles). They also contain an enormous amount of carbon, estimated by Gorham (1991) to be on the order of 450 petagrams (1015). Consequently, peatlands possess a potential to return great quantities of carbon to the atmosphere as they warm and thaw. This consequence typically is emphasized by those who claim global warming might trigger such a catastrophic release – catastrophic because the released CO2 would further contribute to global warming as a powerful positive feedback or climate forcing mechanism. There is another way to look at the same information. If the planet’s peatlands have removed so much carbon from the air in the past, they could do more of the same in the future. Which way are the scales more likely to tip if earth warms and experiences greater precipitation, as is predicted by most computer-generated models of climate? This question drives much current research and analysis." (Greening Earth Society)

"England's soil littered with abandoned fridges" - "LONDON -- Protecting the ozone layer has spawned a chilling new menace to the English countryside: abandoned refrigerators.Residents say unsightly dumps of old appliances have sprouted across the land since people began secretly abandoning them in fields after European environmental regulations took effect on Jan. 1, making it illegal to discard the ozone-depleting foam insulation from fridges and freezers." (Globe and Mail)

"Guardian Diary" - "In Wales, my colleague George Monbiot enjoys an unlikely legal victory. George is one of several charged with criminal damage over the trampling of GM maize crops at a Flintshire farm last July. Only after he turned up at the police station in the town of Mold in November did he manage to get himself charged, but that wasn't the end of his struggle. The prosecution alleged that only £1,000 damage was caused, which would have meant a trial by magistrates, but the defence managed to persuade the court that it was at least £5,000 - the threshold to bump it up to a crown court jury trial. What a shame for George that we don't have the death penalty, just to give him a real target to aim at." (Matthew Norman, The Guardian)

"Competitive Enterprise Institute on Agricultural Biotechnology" - "Even as underdeveloped nations clamor for biotechnology applications, and as countries like China continue to experiment with and use agricultural biotechnology,28 opponents of agricultural biotechnology in the West, particularly Europe, attack it as an unnatural process that will destroy the world, not better it. They argue that biotechnology should be heavily regulated, if not banned." (Gregory Conko and Jennifer Zambone, Competitive Enterprise Institute)

"European GM Crops, Slow Progress" - "While the popularity of genetically modified crops elsewhere in the world almost certainly means they will eventually be accepted in Europe, nobody expects the process to be either smooth or swift." (open i)

Hmm... "FEATURE - Mysterious 'alien' corn invades Mexico countryside" - "CAPULALPAN - In this one-telephone village in the hills of Mexico's Oaxaca state, corn grows out of cracks in the sidewalks, along roadsides and anywhere else it can find soil. That may sound like a farmer's utopia, but for people in Capulalpan and a host of other mountain settlements where corn is a staple of every family's diet, it is more like an aberration of nature. Local and foreign scientists have concluded the mysterious, ubiquitous corn variety is genetically modified, and illegal." (Reuters)

January 29, 2002

"Soda Down The Drain" - "More from the frontlines of the War on Obesity: Oakland is the latest city to fall, with students now prohibited from buying soft drinks and candy from vending machines at schools.

"By the end of next month, an Oakland school student with a few quarters to spare won't be able to spend them buying Mountain Dew or Snickers bars on campus," The San Francisco Chronicle reports. "The district-wide policy is the first of its kind in the state and among the strictest in the nation. It's being heralded as a key beachhead in the battle to reclaim school cafeterias from junk food."

Remember that anti-fat zealots have openly declared the campaign against soft drinks in schools as a "wedge" issue meant to open up all sorts of foods and beverages to new government regulation and restriction.

What comes after the "wedge" issue wins? British "researchers looking into diet and food labeling" are working on a plan to print "fat tally" graphs on supermarket receipts -- with "recommended levels" printed alongside.

Says one advocate: "You can [total] up the amount of fat on an itemized bill in the same way as you can [total] up the price." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"THE ISSUE:: CONCEALED WEAPONS: A duel over concealed firearms is certain (1 28 2002)" - "Before Minnesota lawmakers can finish saying "Welcome back" on Tuesday, they may find themselves in the throes of debate over the bitter and divisive issue of carrying concealed firearms in public." (Pioneer Press)

Today's data dredge: "MEN WITH HIGH LEVELS OF PCBs MORE LIKELY TO FATHER BOYS" - "EAST LANSING, Mich. - A Michigan State University study indicating that men with higher levels of PCBs in their bodies are more likely to father boys than girls is more evidence of the effects environmental contaminants can have on the human body. The study, using data from three separate studies in which PCB levels were measured in the bodies of men who ate fish taken from Lake Michigan, found that of the 208 children born to those men, more than 57 percent were boys." (MSU)

"Belgium seeks cause of PCB contamination in feed" - "BRUSSELS - Belgian health officials yesterday renewed their search for the source of cancer-causing chemicals found in chicken feed as they tried to ease public fears of a new food crisis resembling the 1999 dioxin scandal." (Reuters)

"Landfill cleanup award set at $207 million" - "MACOMB TOWNSHIP -- The South Macomb Disposal Authority will collect $207 million from two insurance companies to clean-up land and water pollution from a 162-acre landfill, in what legal watchers say is one of the largest judgments of its kind. The award caps a 17-year legal battle over contamination stemming from the landfill at Card Road and 24 Mile, which closed in 1974, and who would pay for the clean-up of the site. Property owners near the site initially sued the disposal authority and its insurers in 1984, saying their water wells were contaminated and property values reduced." (Detroit News)

Uh-huh... "Rebel baker circumvents regulations to counter 'McDonald-ization' of food" - "A healthfood store in Rouyn-Noranda, Canada, has received hundreds of free loaves and croissants this week, as part of a protest by baker Leandre Bergeron against regulations prohibiting him from selling bread prepared in his home. A former French professor at Montreal's Concordia University, Bergeron is now a self-styled rebel baker fighting for the rights of home producers. It is also a fight against what Romeo Bouchard, the head of the Union Paysanne, calls “the McDonald-ization of our food,” a conspiracy in which “the pretext of hygiene has been used for 50 years to eliminate the little producers.” (just-food.com)

Society should be totally risk-averse and big-anything is always responsible for everything including poor consumer choices and hygiene - except when food safety regulations interfere with cottage industries making a dollar. Right...

"Doctoring The Truth" - "The extremist-linked anti-consumer group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is running ads claiming that milk is bad for you. Let's let a real doctor respond to PCRM's claims.

"I think that particular group has their own sort of agenda, of not wanting milk production around, and cows to be utilized," says Harvard Medical School's Dr. Daniel Cramer, speaking of Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation-backed PCRM. "Their agenda is that [they] don't want… cows exploited or they want everybody to be vegetarians."

Cramer has reason to be upset: PCRM's ads claim milk and dairy products contribute to "obesity, ear infections, constipation, respiratory problems, heart disease, and some cancers" -- and insist Cramer's research backs up the claims. Cramer says those conclusions are false -- his research never supported such conclusions." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

The indoctrination continues: "Environment getting worse despite Earth summits" - "This is the first instalment in a series of articles on the World Summit on Sustainable Development to be held in August in Johannesburg.

Can mankind preserve an environment that will satisfy the needs of future generations? To explore this issue, leaders from around the world will meet at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), scheduled to be held August in Johannesburg." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

"A scrap with Brussels" - "From April, abandoned cars may become a more common sight. This is because of the entry into force of yet another misdirected EU law." (Daily Telegraph)

"Junk to be 'dumped in streets'" - "ABANDONED computers, televisions, vacuum cleaners and other electrical goods might soon join the dumped cars and fridges littering the streets, say local councils." (Telegraph)

"Mystery virus ravages UK frogs" - "Scientists say they are now certain that the disease which has killed millions of British frogs is caused by a virus. The disease, which began in south-east England, has crossed the Scottish border, hundreds of kilometres to the north." (BBC Online) | Experts discover origin of virus killing Britain's frogs (Independent)

and not one specious word about 'ozone depletion' either - very impressive!

"Canada’s success with ozone proves it can achieve Kyoto targets" - "Canada has been a world leader on protecting the ozone layer by eliminating damaging emissions, and yet is dragging its heels over reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This situation could be rectified if the country chose to learn the lessons of its more environmentally successful past, according to a new report from the David Suzuki Foundation." (Edie News)

"Darwin's backing of biodiversity queried" - "One of Britain's leading ecologists has condemned peers for posthumously recruiting Charles Darwin in support of their theories about species diversity and plant productivity, notably over the value of variety in grassland." (BioMedNet News) [See the Science article: Darwin and the First Ecological Experiment January 24, 2002]

Hmm... "State forests first in South to achieve certification - Tuesday, 01 29 02" - "Gov. Don Sundquist said yesterday that the states 158,000 acres of public forests have been independently certified for environmentally sound management, making Tennessee the first Southern state to achieve the distinction. Sundquist also pledged support for a partnership to encourage landowners to seek certification by the Forest Stewardship Council, a nonprofit organization promoting sustainable forest management." (AP)

"Climate Lies" - "Winston Churchill once remarked that "a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on." If my recent travels are any indicator, the Last Lion may have understated the case." (Dr. Willie Soon, Tech Central Station)

World Climate Report Volume 7, Number 10, January 28, 2002

Still on a book-promotion binge: "ABC Sci-Tech - 29 01 02 : Global warming to impact on Kakadu" - "The head of the Australian Institute says tourism operators in the Northern Territory should be more concerned about climate change because it will have a major effect on areas such as Kakadu National Park. Clive Hamilton says when water levels rise because of global warming, Kakadu will experience severe saltwater intrusion, changing the environmental values of the park."

Keep at it Clive, someone probably believes you mate (and that'd be two of you).

"A case for jamming commonsense down throats" - "At the risk of raising a handful of temperatures, Larry Mounser suggests that greenhouse effect doomsayers are often just full of hot air." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Making sense of climate change debate" - "Arguments over the Kyoto Protocol on climate change will be thrashed out at a conference in Auckland next month. The February 20 event is being organised by the Employers and Manufacturers Association. The association's chief executive (northern), Alasdair Thompson, said the aim was "to present better information than we feel we have been getting from the Government".

The keynote speaker will be Dr Robert Watson, who chairs the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - the body set up to obtain a consensus view from the world's climate scientists for the benefit of policymakers. But a sceptical view of the science can be expected from Dr Chris de Freitas, of Auckland University." (New Zealand Herald)

"Ottawa supports Kyoto but worried about economic balance with U.S.: Dhaliwal" - "OTTAWA -- Canada must ensure that curbing greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto accord doesn't hurt the competitive balance with the United States, the federal minister of natural resources said Monday. But Herb Dhaliwal insisted Canada remains committed to Kyoto, even though the U.S. has said it won't ratify the 1997 deal negotiated by more than 150 countries." (CP)

"Stop a changing climate" - "THE WORLD'S climate is changing, growing warmer and harsher with each decade, threatening to cause droughts, famine, disease and more. This greenhouse effect is heating the globe at a rapid rate, according to the United Nations, which reported the 1990s to be the warmest decade in 140 years. As it is, Earth's temperature will increase by 10 degrees by the end of this century." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Many escape dire flu predictions" - "Accompanying budding trees and idle snow blowers, there's been another oddity in many communities this mild winter - an absence of influenza." (Scripps Howard News Service)

"Warm spell a dose of April" - "Sixty-degree temperatures have plants and people alike acting like its April: Bulbs are sprouting, builders are pouring foundations, highway crews are cutting brush along roadsides, and home buyers are touring homes. January? Not here, say weather scientists. Todays high will be normal for about the first or second week of April, said AccuWeather Meteorologist Kathy Francis, who said the high should reach about 63 today. Highs this time of year are typically about 40 degrees. The higher temperatures have also brought relief in the form of low er energy costs to homeowners still shivering and shuddering from last winters astronomical bills. The warm weather is cutting home heating bills for two reasons, said Dave Woodburn, a spokesman for Cinergy. Homeowners are using less natural gas, obviously, and its cheaper - the cost of gas has gone down about 24 percent compared to last year because of supply and demand, he said." (The Cincinnati Post)

"Don't put prosperity at risk" - "Planet Earth seems to be getting warmer -- but is it anyone's fault, or is it just the result of a natural planetary cycle? Through the ages, Earth has undergone drastic swings in temperature. The Great Lakes were carved out by glaciers. In Texas, great swaths of West Texas were once ocean floor. These shifts from ice age to tropical climes took place eons before any human activity could have been responsible." (American City Business Journals)

"Helium seen as key for making hydrogen" - "Hydrogen is considered to be the cleanest source of energy available since its use does not produce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which are believed to be the main cause of global warming. To help meet the growing demand for hydrogen, research into producing large amounts of the substance using the heat of a nuclear reactor will start this year at Oarai Research Establishment of the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute in Oaraimachi, Ibaraki Prefecture." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

"US utility boosts green farming to offset emissions" - "A United States utility company is planning to offset its greenhouse gas emissions by supporting the expansion of farming methods that maximise carbon sequestration in soils. Under an agreement with the Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association, (PNDSA) the Entergy Corporation, reported to be the first US utility to publicly volunteer to take action to stabilise its domestic greenhouse gas emissions, would receive credit for carbon dioxide and emissions reductions achieved through direct seed agriculture." (Edie News)

"Congressional Battle Stalls Wind Power Tax Credit" - "WASHINGTON, DC, January 28, 2002 - New wind farms installed across the United States in 2001 will produce as much electricity annually as 475,000 average American households use, according to a year end analysis by the American Wind Energy Association. It was a record year, but the ongoing Congressional battle over an economic stimulus package has stalled renewal of the wind production tax credit, stranding hundreds of millions of dollars in wind power investments in states like Montana, Oregon, South Dakota, and West Virginia." (ENS)

"Commission to strike new phytosanitary deals with third countries" - "A new targeted approach to veterinary and phytosanitary agreements between the EU and third countries is to be taken by the European Commission following the emergence of a number of "practical problems" in existing deals. The agreements were designed to ensure that food imported into the EU measured up to the requirements of the Union's new food safety legislation." (just-food.com)

"ABC Sci-Tech - 29 01 02 : Synthetic molecule may prevent diabetes" - "A synthetic molecule has proven effective in slowing, and in some cases preventing, the development of a type of diabetes in mice, causing researchers to believe similar molecules could be created to block diabetes and other autoimmune diseases in humans."

"China Seen Shielding Biotech Sector" - "SINGAPORE/SHANGHAI - China is building a fortress around its biotechnology industry, which is emerging as the largest outside North America, analysts say. But China's policy on gene-modified organisms (GMOs) shows government opinion is divided, and Beijing risks harming its standing in the international community after joining the World Trade Organization on December 11. More than that, spurning foreign investment is likely to come at a high price, with China possibly losing out on advanced techniques in bioengineering and so threatening its efforts to achieve food security, industry officials say." (Reuters)

"GE's the only way to grow" - "The Greens asked for it. The Royal Commission delivered it. The Government decided on it. But the Greens do not like it. And I do not understand why. I embrace the goals of organic farming - quality environment, quality food, quality soils and that is exactly why I embrace genetic modification, or GM." (Dr Doug Edmeades, New Zealand Herald)

January 28, 2002

Letters at dawn! See the exchange as Eliot Spitzer and Junkman cross words in the New York Post. SPITZER: MILLOY LACKS OBJECTIVITY and the replies SPITZER'S SMOG DOESN'T BLIND SOME

"World Trade Center Victims Were Not Chickens, or Rats, or Dogs Either" - "Animal rights activist and United Poultry Concerns President Karen Davis recently stated in an open letter to Vegan Voice magazine that "the people who died in the attack (on the World Trade Center) did not suffer more terrible deaths than animals in slaughterhouses suffer every day."

Ms. Davis said it would be wrong "to think that the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center was a greater tragedy than what millions of chickens endured that day" and added that "for 35 million chickens in the United States alone, every single night is a terrorist attack." (Bonner R. Cohen, Lexington Institute)

"This is a case of table pounding" - "The hate campaign against Bjørn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World and professor at Aarhus University, Denmark, has been gathering momentum." (Helene Guldberg, sp!ked)

"In praise of the unnatural" - "In modern-day discourse the word natural is increasingly used as a form of legitimisation, as a term of endorsement. Dairy products boast that they convey 'nature's goodness'; people buy natural skincare products from The Body Shop; and companies ranging from Marks & Spencer to Tesco to BP have adorned their products in the colour green. Woe betide anybody who dares to defy nature. Opponents of censorship argue that sex is 'the most natural thing in the world', and so shouldn't be hidden away. Prince Charles and eco-worriers in general encourage us not to 'mess with nature', whether by despoiling the planet or creating 'Frankenstein foods'. Like primitive societies we truly worship nature. 'She' has sensibilities that may be pleased or offended - lest She will have Her revenge." (Patrick West, sp!ked)

"Animal rights - Huntingdon quits LSE" - "LONDON - The British government vowed on Thursday that no more firms would be hounded overseas as drugs testing laboratory Huntingdon Life Sciences quit the London stock market to the delight of animal rights activists. "We will not hesitate to take any further action to make sure that legitimate businesses are free to operate without fear of intimidation," a Home Office spokeswomen told Reuters." (Reuters)

Really? Didn't do much for HLS.

"$16M cellphone study to examine health effects" - Britain yesterday launched a long-term clinical study of cellphone use, based largely on Canadian research into the negative health effects of the popular technology. The Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme is intended to ease concerns among cellphone users that the current body of research, which downplays the risks of long-term use, is skewed because it was funded by the cellphone industry, the organizers say." (Joseph Brean, National Post)

How not to conduct a 'study': "University professor gets more than he bargained for after false complaint letters" - "A batch of 240 letters sent by a Columbia University business professor in a bid to teach students how companies handle complaints, has landed him in hot water. Six restaurateurs are now suing the university for US$100m, claiming the study was libelous, “unethical and malicious”. Last August, Francis J. Flynn, an assistant business professor, sent out the letters to New York restaurants falsely complaining of food poisoning as part of a project judging how businesses respond to complaints." (just-food.com)

"Another Briton Dies from Mad Cow" - "LONDON - A 26-year-old man diagnosed three months ago with the human form of mad cow disease has died, his family said Saturday. Christopher Hargreaves died Jan. 17 of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, or CJD. More than 100 people have died from the brain-wasting illness, most of them in Britain. Christopher's father, Derrick Hargreaves, said his son began showing symptoms of depression in January 2001 and was diagnosed with CJD in October." (AP)

Really? The unfortunate Hargreaves died of CJD - whether cows, of sound mind or otherwise, are related to that condition remains moot.

"BSE cattle born after feed curbs cause concern" - "Scientists are trying to explain a sudden rise in the number of BSE infected cattle born after tough feed controls were meant to throttle the disease. Four such animals have been diagnosed over six weeks, bringing the total to 10 and more are likely now that the government has stepped up testing. The European commission has signalled it would consider imposing new export controls on British beef if the number rose to more than 50 in 12 months." (The Guardian)

"Why trying to be safe can be risky" - "The action people take to avoid a perceived risk could actually prove more dangerous, according to doctors. They say actions such as switching from rail to road after the Hatfield rail crash, and parents refusing to have their children immunised because of fears over measles, mumps and rubella could actually could do more harm than good. Professor Sir Colin Berry, from the Barts and the London hospital, told a conference at the Royal College of Medicine in London people were ignorant of the risks they really faced." (BBC Online)

"Senate panel set to boost US vehicle fuel standard" - "WASHINGTON - The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee is expected to vote by early next month to significantly raise the mileage requirements for cars and sport utility vehicles, congressional sources said last week. The committee is working to finalize language on the new fuel requirements that will be added to a comprehensive Democratic-sponsored energy bill, which will be debated during the second week of February." (Reuters)

Meanwhile, those bad Australians are proceeding with coal development: "Australia brown coal targeted for power plant" - "MELBOURNE - A A$5 billion gas-to-liquids (GTL) and electricity generation project was one of several proposals bidding to develop new tracts of Victoria's vast brown coal reserves, energy sector participants said on Friday." (Reuters)

but rubbish trials continue: "Energy Developments slumps on project tests" - "MELBOURNE - Energy Development Ltd shares dived on Friday after the company said it was temporarily suspending testing at its waste recycling plant in New South Wales to carry out some improvements." (Reuters)

"Peoria trying to toss yard waste law; Savings seen in mixing trash" - "PEORIA -- More than a decade after Illinois banned tossing yard waste into the garbage to conserve space in landfills, most residents know the drill: Grass trimmings, twigs and leaves are crammed into one bag, regular household trash in another. But so far, landfills haven't run out of room. And now, Peoria wants to temporarily lift the landscape waste ban to save money, making the central Illinois town one of the first municipalities in the state--and the nation--to challenge a law that prohibits commingling yard refuse with household garbage." (Chicago Tribune)

"Melting ice threatens sovereignty, hunting grounds" - "OTTAWA - Melting ice in the Canadian Arctic threatens not only the Inuit way of life, but also the country's sovereignty over the Northwest Passage, according to speakers at a weekend conference on climate change." (CBC)

"Global Warming Already Taking Effect" - "Scientists have long predicted that the first signs of changes caused by global warming would appear at the few fragile, high altitude ice caps and glaciers. According to the scientists, the retreat of the ice cap on Mount Kilimanjaro is the most dramatic evidence of this impact. The anticipation in the press conference room was unmistakable." (The East African Standard (Nairobi))

I love this bit: "Journalists from all over the world waited anxiously as experts from Greenpeace, an international environmental organisation, prepared to bring the plight of the giant Mount Kilimanjaro into the world's focus." Oh puh-lease!

Once more, with feeling: "Tuvalu ponders global warming case" - "The South Pacific island nation of Tuvalu is considering taking legal action against the industrialised nations of the world for causing global warming. Some researchers predict Tuvalu will be one of the first countries in the world to disappear under rising sea levels as a result of pollution-induced global warming. However, the Pacific Sea Level Rise Monitoring project says the tidal gauge installed in Tuvalu in 1993, has shown a net sea level rise of zero. Prime Minister Koloa Talake has suggested he may want to recruit other low-lying countries to join Tuvalu in the case to share costs." (ABC Radio Australia News)

"Australia Institute’s policies will savage our living standards" - "The Australia Institute’s Clive Hamilton re-asserted himself as Australia’s chief panic and doom-merchant (Greens' climate catastrophe, The Age, Monday 21 January 2002). If we don’t jump on the global warming bandwagon right now, we’re all going to be up to our armpits in disease, famine and floodwater. “According to the CSIRO’s projections, Kakadu National Park will experience serious saltwater inundation. The Great Barrier Reef may be decimated by bleaching from warming seas” worries Clive. Strangely enough, the well informed Mr Hamilton neglected to explain why these thing did not happen during the medieval climate optimum when the world was a couple of degrees warmer than it is today." (Dr Aaron Oakley, TNA News)

"Canada shouldn't ratify Kyoto, U.S. envoy says" - "OTTAWA -- The U.S. ambassador to Canada says he thinks the international Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gases would not be good for this country's economic well-being. "We just think that Kyoto is not in the interests of the United States or its economy and we don't think it's in the interests of the Canadian economy either," Paul Cellucci said in an interview yesterday." (Globe and Mail)

"Canada energy minister vows caution on Kyoto treaty" - "CALGARY - Canada's new energy minister tried on Thursday to assuage oil executives' fears that Ottawa would ratify an international treaty on cutting greenhouse gas emissions without minimizing the impact on their industry and the national economy." (Reuters)

"Assembly Bill Targets Global Warming Trend" - "California could become the first state to regulate gases from cars and trucks that are linked to global warming, under a bill that state lawmakers must act on by the end of next week. Opening a new front in the fight against tailpipe exhaust, the legislation targets carbon dioxide emitted by the state's 23 million passenger vehicles. The gas is not traditionally considered a pollutant, but is implicated by scientists as a major contributor to global climate change." (LA Times)

"China could help Japan by taking its money and cutting its Kyoto target" - "Backed by its status as the world's largest single aid donor, Japan is anxious to have dibs on China as a partner in a scheme linking development aid to achieving required cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. According to government sources, Japan and China have agreed to launch talks at the senior working level to discuss cooperation in implementing the so-called clean development mechanism." (Japan Times)

"Scientific winds blow hot and cold in Antarctica" - "MCMURDO STATION, Antarctica -- Scientists have long agreed that certain changes in climate at the Earth's polar regions would provide some of the earliest evidence of possible global warming. What they can't seem to agree upon is what kind of changes are occurring. In a span of two weeks, four seemingly contradictory reports citing evidence of rising -- and falling -- temperatures in Antarctica have created a virtual train-wreck of information for climate researchers." (CNN)

Um... no. Antarctica is cooling and has been doing so for decades. At the same time, an insignificant little finger of land thrusting its way north of the Antarctic Circle, the Antarctic Peninsula, is warming. That the peninsula, warmed by ocean currents (somewhat similar to the UK/Europe's 'artificially' warm climate), exhibits trends opposed to the Antarctic Continent is neither mysterious nor challenging for climate scientists. 'Train-wreck' for climate researchers? Get real!

"Breakthrough for diabetics banned in NZ" - "A New Zealand medical research company claims an international breakthrough in diabetes treatment, but it is not permitted to use the technique here. The Auckland company, Diatranz, says a Mexican schoolgirl given insulin-producing cells from the pancreas of newborn piglets has overcome diabetes." (New Zealand Herald)

"UM scientist hopes to cure disease with virus research" - "MISSOULA – There’s no more room on the blackboards that cover a wall in Dave Poulsen’s office in the University of Montana’s Pharmacy building. And the items that are chalked out in the scientist’s bold scrawl are there to stay, such as: eliminate chronic back pain; reverse and prevent Lou Gehrig’s disease; quash epilepsy; wipe out deafness. “I only stopped because I ran out of chalk and chalkboard,” said Poulsen, a gene therapy research specialist new to UM." (AP)

"Best in breed" - "Remarkable progress has been made in the production of food - bigger chickens, more eggs, more milk -- and biotechnology has nothing to do with it. It's all due to techniques people have been using since the 18th century. STEPHEN STRAUSS reports" (Globe and Mail)

"Commercial cloning hits China" - "Two Australian calves that are genetic clones of their sire are about to be sold into China for about US$200,000 each. The company behind the sale says it will be the worlds first commercial sale of dairy bull clones. The two four-and-a-half-month-old animals are called Alpha and Beta. They are carbon copies of Australia's top Holstein sire, Donor, whose sperm has already earned the company that owns it millions of Australian dollars. Cloning Donor will enable the firm, RAB Australia, based in Albury, New South Wales, to increase the bulls earning potential. If cells from the animal are stored, it may even be possible for Donor to produce an income for RAB long after it is dead. The ability to maintain and spread important genetic lines - which might favour high yields or disease resistance, for example - in livestock is one of the main reasons why biotechnologists are pursuing animal cloning." (BBC Online)

"Beckett plans radical change for farming" - "The future of agriculture - Emphasis to shift from mass food production to conservation and more local, organic produce." (Independent)

"Biotech's battle against famine" - "One of the most important issues facing today's agriculture is environmental stewardship. All forms of farming have an impact on the environment. As the human population rises from 6- to 9-billion people in the next 30 years, the environment may be further stressed by the increase in agriculture.

Two very different solutions have been put forward to answer the inevitable increase demand for food. One proposed answer is to grow everything organically, while other people argue to embrace food biotechnology. I would like to examine some of the logistics of these two choices." (Robert Wager, Globe Technology)

"Peter Raven: A Sustainable Future Should Include Biotech" - "Called a "Hero for the Planet" in a Time magazine article in 1999, Raven's main mission in life is to help preserve endangered plants and to advocate for conservation and sustainability—using the planet's resources to meet current needs without compromising the needs of future generations. Raven believes biotechnology has a role to play in ensuring sustainability." (The Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology)

"Brave New Foods" - "First, genetic scientists worked to save crops. Now they are engineering plants to produce human vaccines. But can they get consumers to take the medicine?" (Newsweek)

"Biotechnology Weapons Worse Than Nukes - Critics" - "NEW DELHI, Jan 25 - Governments concerned about nuclear proliferation should be more worried by the greater potential for mischief that biotechnology holds in military and criminal minds, say members of an international panel of scientists involved in shaping the Biosafety Protocol." (Inter Press Service)

January 25, 2002

"Stem Cell Panel Has Vested Interest in Research" - "Enron and Arthur Andersen have nothing over the National Academy of Sciences when it comes to deceiving the public." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

Here we go again: "Health advisory on toxic plastic in medical tubing, blood bags" - "OTTAWA - A Health Canada advisory panel has sent out a warning about standard medical equipment in hospitals. They contain a product called DEHP which may be a health threat." (CBC)

See Save plastic IV-bags so they can save you

Wonder if the chemophobes will be as happy about this:  "Warning on echinacea: allergy experts" - "SYDNEY - Allergy specialists are warning that echinacea, a herb commonly taken to prevent colds, can cause life-threatening allergic reactions." (CBC)

"Chernobyl's Real Victims..." - "The UN Development Programme and Unicef have finally admitted in a new report what many scientists and policy wonks have known for years. Chernobyl killed thousands -- not from radiation, but from policy based on radiophobic hysteria. (Editor's note: The two organizations have yet to make the report available on their websites.)

The exhibitions of photographs of deformed victims, which raised millions of dollars for pressure groups and charities, have been exposed as fraudulent. However, it is unlikely that anti-nuclear activists will acknowledge their culpability in the deaths they have caused since it would undermine their entire thesis that low-level radiation is harmful. It is, in fact, entirely harmless." (Dr. Roger Bate, Tech Central Station)

Another exercise in insignificance - OR <2 (95% CI 1·11-1·59): "Fears grow over landfill defect link" - "Worries over a link between living near landfill sites and birth defects have been fuelled by further scientific evidence. A study has suggested there is a 40% higher risk of congenital chromosomal abnormalities such as Down's syndrome, for people living close to the sites." (BBC Online) | Chromosomal congenital anomalies and residence near hazardous waste landfill sites (The Lancet) | New study heightens fears over sites used for landfill (Independent)

"Q&A with Indur Goklany: Exploring Risks involved in risk assessments" (PDF) - "Goklany shows why the conventional environmentalist interpretation of the principle in an arbitrary manner can exacerbate problems caused by global poverty and do more harm than good, particularly to people living in less-developed nations." (CEI UpDate)

"Report: Forests suffer for the trees" - "Fire suppression and reduced logging activity have aggravated forest health threats all across Colorado, a new state report concludes. "The problem is an outbreak of trees," said Bill Schaupp, an entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service and a member of the state forest advisory board. Threats range from catastrophic wildfire to insect outbreaks and aspen decline. "The solution is fewer trees. But society has to figure out what they want. It's going to take a long time, and it isn't going to be easy." (Denver Post) [The forestry report will be available Friday at www.colostate.edu/Depts/CSFS]

"Anti-Consumer "Food Fight" Intensifies" - "The blitzkrieg against obesity rages on, in what seems to be a coordinated and intensifying attack on consumers. "Put down that pizza! Toss out that cookie dough! And banish those burgers," Fox News reports -- warning of "an increasingly less hypothetical lawsuit that could change the way the U.S. eats." Hungry lawyers are eyeing food, considering "legal action against everyone from fast-food chains to the nation's leading snack food companies."

Even John Banzhaf of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is joining the assault, noting that "people are wondering if tactics used against the tobacco industry very successfully and other problems such as guns less successfully could be used against the problem of obesity." (ASH paid Banzhaf $175,100 in 2000 for his promotion of "lawsuit kits" for anti-tobacco suits; no doubt he's hoping to cash in on food-bashing as well.)

In Britain, activists are providing a preview of food-fight tactics sure to come to the U.S. Since the "economic impact of a poor diet is much greater than any other" public health threat, unidentified "public health experts" tell Marketplace, the strain on the public health system requires regulation. (It's the same argument U.S. anti-smoking activists used regarding Medicare and Medicaid.) The U.K. "experts" even blame the "industrialized approach to food production" for obesity, claiming that "small-scale producers" would somehow produce less fattening food.

The anti-consumer message is spreading. This month, Time magazine published an article on youth obesity. Masquerading as an objective report, it included quotes from "Twinkie tax" pioneer Kelly Brownell, and a plug for the "excellent guidelines" provided by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The article's author: obesity warrior Shannon Brownlee, who has said the campaign against soft drinks in schools is the "wedge" issue meant to open up all sorts of foods and beverages to new government regulation and restriction, and has even promoted "the government doing battle with the food industry." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"The greenhouse-warming debate is hotting up" - "ONE OF the completely trivial consequences of the bushfires which caused so much devastation in NSW over Christmas and into the new year is that emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from Australia have increased by between 50 million and 60 million tonnes.

A typical annual emission rate for Australia is between 400 million and 500 million tonnes, although there is considerable argument about the contribution that land clearing makes, or even whether the net result from land clearing is positive or negative.

It seems petty to raise the CO issue in the face of so much tragedy, but since the Kyoto Protocol is all about carbon dioxide and its alleged impact on the world's climate, and because ratification by Australia would lead to far, far greater economic dislocation than that wrought by the bushfires, there is some profit to be gained in understanding why the bushfires, and the immense quantities of CO they generate, are accepted by environmentalists as the manifestation of a benign nature, but the CO emitted by our power stations is condemned as the outward and visible sign of a spiritually bankrupt civilisation." (Ray Evans, Canberra Times)

"Gov't urged to leave environment to private sector for 3 yrs" - "TOKYO, Jan. 24 - Japan should not introduce new environmental regulations for three years and instead rely on the private and business sectors' voluntary efforts to fight global warming, a government advisory panel said Thursday. The Central Environment Council, an advisory panel to the environment minister, said in a report that the government should deal with global warming with existing measures from 2002 to 2004 and then consider further steps after reviewing their effects. The report was on domestic system for realizing Japan's ratification of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on curbing global warming." (Kyodo)

"Antarctic Island Called a Unique Climate-Change Lab" - "WASHINGTON - An unexpectedly rapid warming of lakes on a desolate Antarctic island provides compelling evidence of the environmental impact wrought by rising global temperatures, scientists said on Thursday. Writing in the journal Science, British and Canadian scientists said a 20-year study has revealed dramatic changes in Signy Island's lakes caused by a 1.8-degree Fahrenheit rise in air temperature." (Reuters) | Antarctic Study Finds Warming Change (AP) | Antarctic lakes show climate effects (BBC Online)

"Green revolutionary wins NAS medal" - "The US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) today announced that it is awarding its prestigious Public Welfare Medal to agricultural scientist Norman E. Borlaug. The award is a reminder that, before genetically modified foods, traditional science was saving millions of people from starvation.

Many consider Borlaug the father of the "Green Revolution." He is credited for saving millions of lives in Mexico, Africa, Asia, and South America by developing and introducing dwarf varieties of wheat. With the hardier and more nutritious wheat and better agricultural practices, many starvation-stricken nations in the twentieth century were able to forego grain imports and finally feed their people." (BioMedNet News)

"Eco-terrorists may be hit with triple damages" - "Eco-terrorists who target experimental and research agricultural products or animals in Colorado could wind up paying triple damages. A bill allowing judges to impose such penalties sailed through the Senate Agriculture Committee on Tuesday. The civil damages, including attorneys fees and court costs, would be on top of any criminal penalty. The legislation was proposed by Sen. Mark Hillman, a farmer from southeast Colorado who said there have been a growing number of attacks on fields and labs by radical groups like the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front." (Rocky Mountain News)

"GM crops find friends in China" - "Evidence is emerging that China is taking the potential of genetically modified (GM) crops seriously. Researchers found that China accounts for more than half the developing world's expenditure on plant biotechnology. It is working on more than 50 plant species, with a wide-ranging list of GM food plants. The researchers say China's experience proves that GM crops have a role to play in poorer countries. What is happening in China appears to be at odds with the widespread rejection of GM technology in many other - particularly European - countries. The researchers, from China and the US, report their findings in the journal Science." (BBC Online)

"Scientists cross pigs with spinach" - "Scientists in Japan say they have successfully implanted vegetable genes in a living animal for the first time. Researchers at Kinki University near Osaka inserted spinach genes into a pig, which they say will produce healthier pork." (BBC Online)

"EU liability plans too weak on GMOs - Greenpeace" - "BRUSSELS - A draft EU law to make companies pay for damaging the environment will not reduce the risk that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) would cross-breed with natural plants, Greenpeace said this week." (Reuters)

"Europe Reverses Position to Support Genetic Engineering" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium, January 24, 2002 - A manifesto in favor of biotechnology in the European Union issued Wednesday by its executive branch, the European Commission, calls for stronger backing for a sector seen as critical to future competitiveness. The communication proposes adopting "the highest standards of governance" to win over a sceptical public." (ENS)

"Italy Says Will Not Tolerate GM Seed Contamination" - "ROME - Italy will not tolerate the accidental contamination of seeds with genetic material and needs to invest at least 50 million euros to enforce its policy, Farm Minister Giovanni Alemanno said on Thursday. ``The position that we have on seeds is a position of 'zero tolerance' within the technical limits,'' Alemanno told a news conference ahead of the country's spring crop sowing campaign, due to start in the next few weeks. The minister also said that civil servants would meet farmers, seed industry officials and consumers in the coming weeks to chart a new strategy on agriculture and the marketing of genetically modified (GM) seeds." (Reuters)

January 24, 2002

Here come the food police again: "Health 'should govern food policy'" - "Public health must be put before food and farming industry interests, according to a report from a top team of academics. It says that health issues have plunged food policy into crisis, and that the turmoil will continue unless the government re-thinks its approach." (BBC Online)

One of the policy failings cited is 'while obesity rises, retail planning makes it hard to walk or bike to the shops' although it is unclear exactly how this became part of food and farm policy. Check out some of the recommendations:

  • give equal weight to both human and environmental health [human health is actually the issue here]
  • encourage diversity of foods and biodiversity in fields [grow more weeds and bugs]
  • the food supply chain should decrease its reliance on non-renewable energy [deliver by wheelbarrow?]
  • food costs should more fully reflect their real costs of production and distribution [be more expensive]
  • encourage food supply chains to be as local and as short as possible [limit consumer choice - tends to conflict with encouraging diversity in foods listed previously]

And their advisors were the Soil Association, Greenpeace, WWF et al perhaps?

nope - Don Curry: "Treasury to block change in farm aid" - "THE Treasury is blocking plans to cream off a fifth of Britain’s £3 billion annual farms subsidy into countryside stewardship schemes. The plan is expected to be the centrepiece of a new blueprint for agriculture to be announced next Tuesday with the publication of Sir Donald Curry’s report on farming. He is understood to have concluded that between 10 and 20 per cent of common agricultural policy (CAP) funds used to support mass food production should be redirected into schemes for rural development, environmental management and organic farming. At present, 2.5 per cent of CAP money is “modulated” into such projects." (The Times)

"Fear may add to DVT risk for air passengers" - "FEAR of flying may be a major cause of potentially fatal blood clots for airline passengers, according to a new theory which has the support of medical experts. They believe that "white knuckle" flyers are more at risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), the so called economy class syndrome, because of the effects of adrenaline on their bodies. The risk has been made worse by the threat of terrorism following the events of September 11." (Telegraph) | Fear of flying may raise risk of fatal blood clot (Independent) | Fear of flying linked to DVT, says expert (The Times)

"US forms Gulf War illness panel, after long delay" - "WASHINGTON, Jan 23 - More than a decade after the Gulf War, the US government launched a fresh initiative on Wednesday aimed at getting to the bottom of the mysterious illnesses suffered by an estimated one in seven veterans of that conflict. The Bush administration announced the formation within the Department of Veterans Affairs of a 12-member advisory committee charged with sifting through medical research on so-called Gulf War syndrome, some of which has been all but ignored by the government until now." (Reuters)

"Sen. Kerry's "Old Thinking" on Energy" - "Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts criticized President Bush's energy plan today as "old thinking" that would not end the nation's dependence on foreign oil, becoming the latest prominent Democrat to stake out his differences with the president, according to The New York Times.

The Cato Institute's director of natural resource studies, Jerry Taylor, issued a statement in reaction to Senator John Kerry's energy proposal. In part it reads, "The energy bill introduced by Senator John Kerry this week -- which he termed 'new thinking' -- was a repackaging of Jimmy Carter's long discredited 'war on energy' in a new bottle. Not only does it unwisely call on the government -- rather than investors -- to pick winners and losers in the energy marketplace through lavish tax incentives, government subsidy, and consumption orders (whatever happened to the liberal disdain of corporate welfare?), but it presupposes solutions to problems that simply don't exist. Energy markets aren't broke and aren't in need of political fixes." (Cato Institute)

"Rewind, Repeat" - "WASHINGTON -- Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts Tuesday issued the Democratic response to the Bush administration's push for an energy plan. He saddled the administration with "old thinking" about how to meet the nation's energy needs. He then proceeded to flesh out his new thinking - without tying any numbers to it because that would lead people to, as he put it, "focus on the numbers, not the concepts." (Duane D. Freese, Tech Central Station)

"There is no alternative: we must invest in renewable energy now" - "It seems strange to think that Britain – one of the very few advanced industrial economies that is self-sufficient in energy – could be facing a long-term energy crisis. Yet that is the inescapable conclusion of a review by Downing Street's Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU) on Britain's future energy needs." (Independent)

"ANALYSIS - UK wind power attracts interest but hurdles ahead" - "LONDON - Utilities are queuing up to build wind farms as Britain steps up efforts to encourage green energy but experts say some of these multi-million pounds schemes may never leave the drawing board." (Reuters)

"Dane wind shares down on doubt over offshore plans" - "COPENHAGEN - Shares in Danish wind turbines manufacturers NEG Micon and Vestas fell around four percent yesterday on a media report saying the government plans to scrap plans for three large offshore wind power farms." (Reuters)

For Sale - white elephant, hardly used: "Wind farm closed after blade snaps" - "A turbine propeller blade has folded in half at the country's first electricity-generating offshore wind farm, at Blyth in Northumberland. It is not known until data is gathered from a companion turbine whether high winds in the region are to blame for the breakdown." (BBC Online)

"UK energy minister says nuclear still has a role" - "LONDON - Britain's Energy Minister Brian Wilson said this week nuclear power would continue to have a role in the country's energy mix despite speculation about its future after a leaked government report." (Reuters)

"U.S. Moves Closer to MOX Nuclear Plants" - "WASHINGTON, DC, January 23, 2002 - The Department of Energy has decided to dispose of 34 metric tons of surplus, weapons grade plutonium by turning it into fuel for nuclear reactors. The move overturns a decision by the previous administration to use a portion of the plutonium as fuel, while permanently immobilizing the remainder in glass to prevent its potential use in nuclear weapons." (ENS)

"Polluters to pay under EU green liability plan" - "BRUSSELS - Polluting industries will be forced to clean up environmental damage, or pay the cost, under a new European Union law due to be launched in draft form yesterday. Big smokestack industries, and firms dealing in waste management, chemicals, and genetically modified organisms would all become liable for incidents that pollute water, air or soil or harm nature, the European Commission said this week." (Reuters)

"Science, politics uneasy partners" - "Two words -- "sound science" -- have become a catch phrase for those on all sides of contentious decisions over logging, water, wildlife and other natural resource issues that define the destiny of the West.

It echoes through the Klamath Basin, the snowy slopes of the Cascades and the Northwest's sentinel forests.

Politicians toss the term like confetti at a party, while others use it as an angry catchall for everything that a bad decision lacks. Land managers may treat it as their Holy Grail, a silver bullet that will tell them what decision to make.

To scientists, however, the only true science is sound science." (The Oregonian)

Hmm... make that 'real scientists.'

"The K-T impact extinctions: Dust didn't do it" - "Scientists basically agree that an asteroid struck the Earth some 65 million years ago and its impact created the Chicxulub crater in Yucatan, Mexico. More controversial is the link between this impact and a major mass extinction of species that happened at the geological (K-T) boundary marked by the impact.

But what mechanism did the impact trigger to cause mass extinction? The conventional theory is that impact dust obscured the sun, shutting down photosynthesis and snuffing out life. Kevin Pope from Geo Eco Arc Research shows in the February issue of GEOLOGY that the assumptions behind this theory are amiss, and therefore damage estimates from future asteroid impacts are also amiss.

This latter point became a recent issue when a large asteroid passed near the Earth on January 7 and news reports exaggerated its potential impact effects." (Geological Society of America)

"Here comes the Sun... again" - "The Sun's activity is increasing again, with more sunspots peppering the star's surface. The resurgence comes just two years after the Sun reached a maximum in its 11-year cycle of behaviour. Astronomers say a second peak of activity in so short a space a time is unusual but not unprecedented." (BBC Online)

"Antarctica basks in heatwave" - "While New Zealand shivered its way through a poor summer, New Zealanders at Scott Base in Antarctica have been battling the effects of a heat wave. Temperatures in January peaked at a balmy 7.5degC, the warmest summer since Sir Edmund Hillary's team built Scott Base in the late 1950s." (The Press)

"It's not another ice age, but at least it's cooler" - "As countries gear up for battles over ratifying the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, a recent study suggests that the world already has stepped along the path to a future cooler than it might have been." (Christian Science Monitor)

"Climate change provides exotic sealife with a warm welcome to Britain" - "A small and unusual lobster caught off the Isles of Scilly might be another pointer to global warming. The 5in-long (12cm) slipper lobster, Scyllarus arctus, is normally found around the coasts of the Mediterranean and only about a dozen have been recorded off the UK in 250 years. But the specimen brought up off St Mary's in the Scillies by Barry Bennett, a fisherman, is the fifth to be caught in British waters since 1999." (Independent)

"PNAS commentary: chemical warfare from an ecological perspective" - "Chemical weapons are recent acquisitions in humankind's ever-growing arsenal of destruction. But bacteria and fungi have been practicing chemical warfare for a very long time. Among the numerous and structurally diverse anti-microbial agents that microbes produce are penicillin by the mold Penicillium notatum, many important antibiotics by streptomycetes, a wide range of bacteriocins by Escherichia coli and most other bacteria (including the food preservative, nisin, by Lactococcus lactis), and killer toxins by the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae." (Richard E. Lenski and Margaret A. Riley, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA)

"Consumer confusion over food labels" - "Consumers are failing to grasp even the most basic principles of nutrition, according to a survey. It suggests they are more likely to understand how to programme a video than work out the nutritional content of the food they are eating. Many found information on packaging either baffling or too much to take in." (BBC Online)

They misunderstand. For the vast majority of consumers, label 'information' only serves to make the product dearer but has no function whatsoever.

"Harvard Prof Claims Misuse of Data To Push Anti-Milk Agenda" - "A Harvard professor is denouncing efforts by an animal rights group to show a link between milk and cancer, accusing it of misrepresenting his research. The group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is using the research of Dr. Daniel Cramer, M.D. to support a recent ad campaign that claims milk and dairy products contribute to "obesity, ear infections, constipation, respiratory problems, heart disease, and some cancers." But Cramer said those conclusions are false and that his research never supported such claims." (CNSNews.com)

"South American forests offer glimpse of U.S. ecosystems before industrial revolution" - "A study of ancient and unpolluted South American forests promises to upend longstanding beliefs about ecosystems and the effects of pollution in the Northern Hemisphere. The study focused on nitrogen, a plant nutrient that plays a critical role in maintaining everything from the health of local waterways to the global climate.

Standard thinking among ecologists had been that nitrogen-containing minerals, referred to collectively as inorganic nitrogen, have always been the dominant nutrient in forests worldwide. The study of South American forests, however, showed a sharply different picture: complex, organic compounds are the main form of nitrogen in unpolluted ecosystems.

The study, published in the Jan. 24 issue of Nature, concludes that the high levels of inorganic nitrogen in the United States, long thought to be the natural mainstay of the ecosystem, are really the result of acid rain and agricultural fertilizers." (Princeton University)

"Patenting of genes done 'for years'" - "OTTAWA -- The Canadian Intellectual Property Office has for some time been issuing patents on human genes, without any of the controversy the issue has sparked in the United States and elsewhere. Few people appear to know about the practice. The Commons health committee last month recommended it not be allowed to do so without realizing it was already happening." (CP)

"Scientists Identify Cotton Genes That Need Less Water" - "ALBANY, Georgia--Scientists in Georgia and Israel have identified genes in cotton plants that could pave the way for drought-tolerant varieties - and help farmers save on irrigation costs. Andrew Paterson, a University of Georgia geneticist who headed the research, said the six-year, $280,000 study showed that by changing the genetics of cultivated cotton, scientists could give it the traits that help wild cotton survive in semiarid conditions. ''Many of these genes were thought to have been lost in the process of domesticating cotton for high yields under well-watered conditions,'' Paterson said." (AP)

"Colleges Conduct Biotech Study" - "PORTLAND, Ore. - A national study examining the way universities and private industry share the agricultural biotechnology they develop will be led by Oregon State and Portland State. The $2 million, three-year study funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture will look at how researchers share information with each other and with the public, as well as the social and economic support for biotechnology research programs and the long-term effects of university relationships with private industry." (AP)

"India nears decision on GM crops" - "India has moved one step closer to approving genetically modified crops. The government has started carrying out data analysis on oil seed and cotton crops, following one year of experiments. The results are set to be passed to the government's genetic engineering approval committee - with a decision possible as early as next month." (BBC Online)

"US wants WTO countries to open GM food market" - "The United States wants to convince the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) 143 other members to open their markets to genetically modified farm products, US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said on Monday. He told journalists at WTO headquarters here that biotech products, including genetically-modified (GM) foods, represented an ''enormous potential'' that must be tapped to fight hunger and malnutrition. His comments followed meetings with African and Asian counterparts as well as representatives of the Cairns group, which brings together 18 farm exporting countries." (The Daily Star)

January 23, 2002

Junk reporting on soft drinks and childhood obesity - "Reporter Heather May deserves a junk science award for the misleading and inflammatory article 'Utah's Kids Called Fat, Flabby' (Salt Lake Tribune, Jan. 13). The article blamed snack foods and soft drinks for overweight kids, labeling the sale of such foods in schools as 'prostitution.'

New research challenges many preconceptions about children 's diet and weight. A recent study by Georgetown University researchers reported the typical teen-ager consumes only about one can of soda a day -- hardly enough to make kids fat. A recent study in the British Medical Journal reported no correlation between being overweight as a child and overweight as an adult, or thin as a child and thin as an adult.

Research is not changing one preconception: Lack of exercise is a key factor in childhood obesity. May is not helping children by distracting parents with bogus information backed by hyperbole." (Steve Milloy, 1/22/02 letter in The Salt Lake Tribune).

"Losing Weight: More Than Counting Calories" - "Americans are eating less fat, but getting fatter. We're putting on the pounds at an alarmingly rapid rate. And we're sacrificing our health for the sake of supersize portions, biggie drinks, and two-for-one value meals, obesity researchers say. More than 60 percent of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While the number of overweight people has been slowly climbing since the 1980s, the number of obese people has nearly doubled since then." (FDA Consumer magazine, January-February 2002)

Hmm... I'm still troubled by CDC's involvement in that which I view as a lifestyle and personal choices/habits issue. Maybe this really is about a pathogen with an very long incubation period but I've been in contact with obese people for oh, like about a half-century probably, and I haven't contracted fat yet, nor have I ever heard of anyone catching it. If it's not about contagion, what the heck is CDC's involvement?

"Popular medicine kills acne, not users" - "In the movie One-Eyed Jacks, Marlon Brando's jailed outlaw character Johnny Rio asks the marshall if he'll get a fair trial. "Oh sure, kid, sure," answers the marshall, soothingly. "You're gonna get a fair trial. And then I'm gonna hang you! Personally!" That pretty much sums up how everybody but the patients themselves have treated Hoffman LaRoche Limited's acne drug Accutane." (Michael Fumento, National Post)

"Risky Business" - "Trial lawyers have brought a civil suit in Maryland's Montgomery County Circuit Court against Pfizer Inc. - claiming that the drug company put profits ahead of patient welfare with its diabetes drug Rezulin. Monica George died in 1998 from liver failure, and her daughters claim that the drug caused her death. (Roger Bate, Tech Central Station)

"Why Drugs Get Pulled Off the Market" - "But aren't drugs supposed to be safe?" According to Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), people tend to ask that question a lot when a drug is taken off the market. The FDA's mission is making sure that drugs are "safe and effective." So what does "safe" really mean?" (FDA Consumer magazine, January-February 2002)

Oops! "After Washington Forbids Animal Traps, Mountains of Molehills Make It Reconsider" - "OLYMPIA, Wash. -- When Washington state voters banned fur trapping, the idea was to spare animals from cruelty. Little did they know they also were sparing one animal that many gardeners and lawn-lovers agree deserves to die by whatever means necessary: the mole.

Washington's Initiative 713, passed in November 2000, with 55% of the vote, bans the use of "body-gripping traps" on "nonhuman vertebrates." While the law created exceptions for mice and rats, it overlooked one other pest. The result: A scissors-like trap, an extremely effective means for eliminating moles, has been outlawed, too." (Wall Street Journal)

Time, tide and, um... beavers, apparently: "Eager beaver does a dam good job" - "Vienna - When planning authorities spent three years deliberating an environmentally important river dam, it was simply built without permission - by a beaver. The animal was unimpressed by bureaucratic stasis, said the mass-circulation Kronen Zeitung on Tuesday." (Sapa-DPA)

"COUNTERINTUITIVELY, AFTER EXTREME DROUGHTS, WADING BIRDS FLOURISH" - "GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- When rain brought an end to an intense drought in the Everglades a decade ago, wildlife biologist Peter Frederick thought there would be few wading birds left.

The white ibis and other birds spend their entire lives around water, foraging in it for fish and nesting in the grasses above it for protection against predators. To Frederick, a wading-bird expert at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, three years of bone-dry conditions would surely force the birds to fly to wetter places.

Instead, he was shocked to note a surge in breeding pairs of white ibis, wood storks, snowy egrets and tricolor herons.

“It was a classic case of scientists being caught with their pants down,” Frederick said. “We thought there would be nothing, and it was the biggest year in 25 years.” (UF News)

"Kerry Attacks Bush Energy Policy" - "The likely presidential contender takes on President Bush and claims energy as his signature issue." (ABCNEWS.com)

"Senator’s Energy Proposal Makes Deadly Mistake - Sen. Kerry’s Approach Would Make New Cars Less Safe" - WASHINGTON, D.C. — Thousands of needless deaths could result from a new energy proposal described today by Senator John Kerry (D-MA). Sen. Kerry calls for increasing federal new-car fuel economy standards “as far and fast as we can,” yet these standards have already been found responsible for thousands of additional highway deaths.

The CAFE program (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) was originally introduced in 1975. While it has had no clear impact on overall gasoline consumption, it has forced carmakers to restrict their sales of larger cars and to downsize other models. However, since larger cars are more crashworthy than smaller cars in practically every collision mode, the result is more highway deaths.

Senator Kerry claimed that the recent National Academy of Sciences report showed that CAFE can be safely increased. But the main finding of that report was that CAFE is already killing people, contributing to between 1,300 and 2,600 deaths annually." (Competitive Enterprise Institute)

"UK faces summers of malaria" - "Large parts of southern England and Wales are at risk from malaria, scientists have calculated. They say that the disease is most likely to take hold in river estuaries and low-lying wetlands. Researchers at Durham University, commissioned by the Department of Health, used a mathematical model to predict how global warming will increase the threat of malaria in coming years." (BBC Online)

Oh, for heaven's sake! See From Shakespeare to Defoe: Malaria in England in the Little Ice Age, Paul Reiter, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

There's a difference between Hollywood and the real world: "Energy review switches on to renewable power" - "The Government should set an ambitious target of meeting 20 per cent of Britain's energy needs from the sun, wind and waves by 2020, according to a review of energy policy by a Downing Street think-tank. In a report leaked to The Independent, the Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU) proposes "a radical agenda to enable the UK to puts itself on the path to a low-carbon economy" less reliant on oil and coal-fired power stations. But it says that the plan to switch to "renewable" energy could push up domestic electricity bills by between 5 and 6 per cent." (Independent)

In yet another demonstration of the fantasy land inhabited by 'global warming' promoters, Exxon Mobil chairman, Lee Raymond, is 'Darth Vader' apparently. Long, long ago, in a galaxy far away, these people were rational.

but no one's told California: "Editorial: Global warming, California can help protect Earth" - "Global warming is real. Scientists say its effects can be seen in higher temperatures, shrinking glaciers, diminished snowpacks and longer, more severe droughts worldwide. While the United States has retreated from international efforts to control greenhouse gases, California has an opportunity to expand efforts to reduce the damage such emissions cause, in this state and around the globe." (Sacramento Bee)

"Alaska Is Not Heating Up" - "Thermometer readings from various locations around Alaska indicate that a warming occurred during the last five decades. But can this Alaska warming be connected to the air's increased carbon dioxide concentration from human activities like fossil fuel consumption? The short answer is, no. And that is at odds with the analysis from the United States National Assessment (USNA)." (Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon, Tech Central Station)

"Push to pass greenhouse gas measure; Bill would regulate vehicle emissions" - "Sacramento -- In a last-ditch duel with the powerful oil and auto industries, environmental groups are trying to pass a bill that would make California the first state to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars. The one-page measure would order the Air Resources Board to lower the amount of carbon dioxide -- one of several greenhouse gases -- spewing from the tailpipes of California's 29 million cars and light trucks." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Scientists describe century of human impact on global surface temperature" - "WASHINGTON - Human activity has affected Earth's surface temperature during the last 130 years, according to a study published this month by the Journal of Geophysical Research. Dr. Robert K. Kaufmann of Boston University's Center for Energy and Environmental Studies and Dr. David I. Stern of the Australian National University's Centre for Resource and Environmental Study analyzed historical data for greenhouse gas concentrations, human sulfur emissions, and variations in solar activity between 1865 and 1990. The greenhouse gases studied included carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and chloroflurocarbons 11 and 12.

They found also that the impact of human activity has been different in the two hemispheres. In the north, the warming effect of greenhouse gases was almost exactly offset by the cooling effect of sulfur emissions, making the temperature effects difficult to observe. In the southern hemisphere, where human sulfur emissions are lower, the effects are easier to see, they write." (American Geophysical Union)

That's interesting. Last time I was paying attention, the satellite MSU record suggest southern hemispheric cooling. What the heck, should be a bit of mileage left in the ol' sulfur particulate excuse for climate models yet eh?

Not that it could continue anyway - the EU's going to implement Kyoto and reduce global CO2 emissions... or not: "Coal to boom on Asian power" - "AUSTRALIAN coal exports will rise more than 20 per cent over the next eight years, the official commodities forecaster has predicted. The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics said strong growth in Asian electricity markets was likely to boost exports. Exports were likely to reach 230 million tonnes by 2010 -- up 40 million tonnes on current levels." (The Australian)

"Bush Tells West Virginians That U.S. Needs to Use Coal" - "WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 — President Bush traveled today to West Virginia, a coal-mining state that has long been one of the country's poorest, to campaign for his energy and tax policies just before Congress returns to debate both. "To become less dependent on foreign sources of energy, we've got to find and produce more energy at home," Mr. Bush said shortly after arriving in Charleston. "Including coal." (New York Times)

"Activating the Kyoto treaty" - "The international agreement on climate change, better known as the Kyoto Protocol, is expected to take effect later this year, perhaps in September. But the United States, the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, is conspicuously absent from the ratification process. The U.S. boycott is certainly a serious problem, but the very fact that the protocol has managed to survive is proof that the international effort to control the rise of global temperatures is more or less on course." (Japan Times editorial)

"The Coral Conundrum" - "Summary: Throughout their entire global range, coral reefs are in decline. So state the authors of an insightful new assessment of the subject in an article entitled "The Changing Health of Coral Reefs," which was recently published in the pages of Human and Ecological Risk Assessment. Is CO2 to blame?" (co2science.org)

"CO2-Enriched Plants Follow Frugal Dictum of "Waste Not, Want Not" with Respect to Valuable Captured Carbon" - " Summary: Just as a penny saved is a penny earned to us humans, so it is with a gram of carbon to earth's plants; and rising concentrations of atmospheric CO2 tend to make them ever more protective of their most highly-prized resource." (co2science.org)

"Remains of Midges Have Climate Tale to Tell ... If We Can Learn Their Language" - "Summary: The authors of this intriguing study continue their quest to better reconstruct the climatic history of north-west Europe from the remains of midge assemblages preserved in lake sediments. Quaternary Science Reviews 20: 1723-1741." (co2science.org)

"Precipitation and Streamflow in the Rio Puerco Basin of New Mexico: The Past 50 Years" - "Summary: Climate alarmists claim global warming will bring more extreme weather and increased threats of floods and droughts. This part of New Mexico, however, doesn't seem to be getting with the program. In fact, it's doing just the opposite. But that shouldn't be a surprise now, should it? Journal of Climate 14: 2317-2328." (co2science.org)

"Pre-Dawn/Early-Morning Enhancement of the Air's CO2 Concentration Stimulates Plant Growth" - "Summary: Naturally-occurring increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration in the hours just before and after dawn have the capacity to significantly enhance plant growth, which suggests that the similar pattern of atmospheric CO2 enrichment produced by the growing urban CO2 domes of expanding cities does likewise. Global Change Biology 7: 789-796." (co2science.org)

'Global warming' a matter of faith: "Maine Groups Jump Into Fray on Energy Policy" - "WASHINGTON -- Anne Burt looks at light bulbs a little differently than most folks. As coordinator of the Maine Interfaith Climate Change Initiative, the Edgecomb resident rallies 1,200 religious groups and nonprofits statewide to conserve energy and buy from renewable sources such as wind-generated power. In the case of light bulbs, she promotes swapping regular incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent models that consume one-fourth as much energy. Now she is helping draft a national letter for religious leaders to participate in the national energy debate. The letter, planned for a February release, is expected to oppose drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, urge higher mileage for sport-utility vehicles and minivans, and support controls on carbon dioxide pollution from power plants." (Portland Press Herald)

Sigh... "Relation between GM food, allergy yet to be proved" - "NEW DELHI: A relationship between Genetically Modified (GM) food and allergy exists but it has not been proven yet since GM food has not been put to sufficient tests, a move which amounts to "scientific cheating" on the researchers' part, a top expert has said.

"There are strong hints towards a relationship between allergy and GM food. It has also been acknowledged by scientists that with the introduction of the Bt gene into cotton, the level of a certain toxin in the seed goes up," Christine Von Weizsacker, Vice President of Ecoropa -- a European NGO -- told reporters on Monday.

But researchers have failed to carry out sufficient tests, on all sets of allergies, to lend it a scientific basis, Weizacker said while debating on "Hazards of Genetic Engineering."

Besides, the technique is "self abolishing" as the pests will ultimately become resistant to Bt cotton thereby forcing scientists to come up with another "technological fix," she added." (Times Of India)

"A Biotechnology Innovation Could Boost Corn Production" - "A dozen years ago and more than 3,000 miles from his Wisconsin home, Eric Triplett got an idea that could represent a new application of biotechnology to boost corn production. It may eventually result in cornfields that don't need nitrogen fertilizer, a large component in corn production and a major cost factor for farmers." (Dow Jones Newswires)

"Pew Initiative: Identify Preservation Raises As Many Q’s as A’s" - "The Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, along with USDA have released a report based on a conference on biotech crop challenges and benefits held last fall. The report identifies that segregating biotech crops through the use of identify preservation (IP) raises as many questions as it does answers. The proceedings of the conference, "Knowing Where It's Going: Bringing Food To Market in The Age of Genetically Modified Crops," asked crucial questions such as whether or not to segregate GM crops on a massive scale, if the market is signaling that segregation is the wave of the future and, if so, what kinds of costs and liabilities would be involved, were released by the two groups." (AgWeb.com) | Check this link for the report in full (pdf version)

January 22, 2002

"Just Say No To Tort Blackmail" - "The glory days of the trial lawyers' litigation machine may finally be history.

After two decades of suits and settlements in cases against everything from breast implants to cigarettes, asbestos and HMOs, the calculus of the corporate world seems to be changing. But the new reality could have serious repercussions as well for the expected avalanche of post-Sept. 11 litigation, and not always in a positive way.

Every day, America's corporate counsellors must ask themselves whether the cost of going to court, and possibly losing, is worth the risk, or whether settling straight-away will be cheaper -- regardless of the merits of the case.

Until recently, the defense lawyers who are obliged to play this legal lottery thousands of times a year on behalf of their company's shareholders generally chose settlement over litigation. But lately, companies have begun drawing a line in the sand. With plaintiffs' lawyers becoming bolder and suits more inventive, the cost of settling has itself become too high." (Dick Thornburgh, Wall Street Journal)

"Talk to the People; Justifying Animal Experimentation" - "Abstract: Recent opinion surveys suggest that the majority of the public is willing to accept the use of animals in research if high standards of welfare and effective regulation are in place. The public appears unaware that such standards have existed for some time. The scientific community must now refocus its communication efforts on the ethics and animal welfare aspects of this issue." (BioMedNet)

"Debunking Green Myths" - "Modern environmentalism, born of the radical movements of the 1960s, has often made recourse to science to press its claims that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. But this environmentalism has never really been a matter of objectively describing the world and calling for the particular social policies that the description implies. Environmentalism is an ideology, very much like Marxism, which pretended to base its social critique on a "scientific" theory of economic relations. Like Marxists, environmentalists have had to force the facts to fit their theory. Environmentalism is an ideology in crisis: The massive, accumulating contradictions between its pretensions and the actual state of the world can no longer be easily explained away." (Ronald Bailey, Reason)

Special mention for non-sensationalist reporting goes to Suzanne Bohan for: "Scientist: Marin cancer rate may reflect people, not place" - "The newest figures showing a 20 percent annual spike in breast cancer rates in Marin County probably have less to do with geography than with the type of women studied: white, affluent and bearing children later in life or not at all, according to a scientist involved in the survey." (Tri-Valley Herald)

contrasting with today's For The Children™ feature: "Many Schools Built Near Toxic Sites, Study Finds" - "Hundreds of thousands of children throughout the country are attending schools that were built on or near toxic waste sites, putting them at increased risk of developing asthma, cancer, learning disorders and other diseases linked to environmental pollutants, according to a new study. The report, prepared by an environmental coalition called Child Proofing Our Communities Campaign and released yesterday, found that most states and public school systems lack environmental standards for selecting school construction sites." (Eric Pianin and Michael A. Fletcher, Washington Post)

and for myth reinforcement we have Janet McConnaughey's "Brown Pelican may be taken off endangered lists" - "NEW ORLEANS - Some 40 years after the brown pelican was nearly wiped out by DDT, federal wildlife officials say they are drafting a proposal to take the bird off the endangered species list in Louisiana - the Pelican State - and Texas." (AP)

Hmm... DDT, however, was wrongly identified as causing eggshell thinning.

"'Biofraud' angers West, taints federal stewards" - "DENVER — The news that federal and state employees were caught planting Canadian lynx hairs during a three-year study of the wildcat's habitat in Washington state came as no surprise to Donna Thornton. A third-generation logger who runs a small family timber operation in Kalispell, Mont., Mrs. Thornton said the governments' pro-environmental bias has been obvious for years. "People here aren't shocked in the least," said Mrs. Thornton. "People in the West have known for a long time that the Forest Service isn't a scientifically ethical organization anymore." (Washington Times)

"European Parliament Backs Tough Environmental Laws" - "STRASBOURG, France, January 21, 2002 - Members of the European Parliament have set out a strong manifesto for the European Union's drive to develop cleaner goods and services under an integrated product policy (IPP).

But in a reversal of its usual role in tempering the environment committee's enthusiasm, the plenary assembly went further by adopting several stronger amendments suggested by the Green/EFA political grouping." (ENS)

"Italian cities fight smog" - "Northern Italy have been hit by a pollution crisis, which has left smog hanging over dozens of towns and cities. Milan, Turin, Parma and Bologna, along with around 100 smaller towns, banned cars from central areas on Sunday in an attempt to clear the air. The problem has been caused by weeks without rain, which has allowed the build-up of fumes. A cold snap over the same period has meant heavy use of heating fuel." | Questions loom large in Italian smog (BBC Online)

"Miles Kington: Come on in - the global warming's lovely" - "We have all seen experts on global warming. They come on the TV and shake their heads and say that, if we do not mend our ways, we will court disaster. If we do not cut emissions and persuade the Americans to sell their cars and buy bicycles, we are on the road to perdition. These experts then look extremely sorrowful and pocket their fees and get in their cars and go home till it is time to prophesy doom elsewhere.

But not all experts on global warming are like that." (Independent)

"2001: Canada's warmest, driest year" - "OTTAWA -- Canada was mostly warm and dry in 2001. The mean annual temperature for the year was 1.7 C above normal and precipitation was 4.3 per cent less than normal, Environment Canada reported Monday. It was the third warmest and the fifth driest year since records began being kept in 1948." (CP)

"Slimmer polar bears could point to global warming" - "IQALUIT - One of the long-term effects of global warming may be thinner polar bears, says a northern scientist working in western Hudson Bay.

Dr. Ian Stirling has been studying bears for the Canadian Wildlife Service in Churchill, Manitoba, for close to 30 years.

"I think we're looking at a period in the Arctic where we're going to be seeing a lot of things that are going to be different than things we've seen before," said Stirling. He issues a caution, however, by pointing out that much more research is needed before any long-term conclusions can be drawn." (CBC)

"Oceanographers in noble pursuit" - "A new method for detecting tiny quantities of a rare form of the element argon may help oceanographers to trace the vast undersea currents that regulate our planet's climate." (Nature Science Update)

"Freezing a Moving Target" - "Glaciers are supposed to be, well, glacial. For a time, glaciologists wondered if they moved at all. Recent studies of the world's largest glaciers--the ice sheets and streams of Antarctica--show glaciers can act as if alive. They advance and retreat, "binge and purge," lose weight and then rapidly grow thick around the middle. The glaciers of Antarctica refuse to play by the rules--at least the rules glaciologists understand. Two studies from scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory show adjacent parts of one of Antarctica's ice sheets are acting in opposite ways." (LA Times)

"Enron cash got access to Bush, but not results" - "Enron Chairman Kenneth L. Lay was instrumental in persuading President Bush during the 2000 campaign to say global warming is a problem, but the giant energy company later was frustrated in its efforts to get the administration to do anything major to combat it." (Washington Times)

"Companies face fines over greenhouse gases" - "NSW is poised to become the first state to establish compulsory greenhouse emission standards for its power industry. The Premier, Bob Carr, will today launch a position paper that aims to end a failed voluntary scheme, under which standards have gone backwards, and replace it with a compulsory one which would fine companies if they did not comply." (Sydney Morning Herald)

Suzuki acolyte Bob Carr is New South Wales' Premiere, so this is hardly surprising. For those who wish to be reminded of his mindset, here's a link to his Millennium muse, and here's the Herald's editorial response.

"States urged to enforce greenhouse gas emission standards" - "Australian states and territories have been urged to follow the lead of New South Wales in the establishment of enforced greenhouse gas emission standards for the electricity industry. The New South Wales Premier, Bob Carr, will today release a position paper, which proposes the compulsory benchmarks be met by the state's power industry by 2006-2007." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Dutch, World Bank sign first clean energy deal" - "AMSTERDAM - The Dutch government said last week it had signed the first international contract with the World Bank to develop clean energy projects in developing countries to help slow global warming. The three-year $40 million contract with the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC) will also provide the Netherlands with credits toward its carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction target laid out in the Kyoto treaty to trim greenhouse gas emissions." (Reuters)

"Weedy killers to protect grain crops" - "Could farmers grow more crops by planting weeds? It sounds improbable, but agricultural researchers in three African countries are about to begin the first ever detailed investigation into just this idea. The aim, says the Kenyan researcher behind the project, Zeyaur Khan, is to find new ways to fight the insect pests that menace grain crops by using selected weeds as a "fatal attraction - an alternative tasty food source that will lure and then kill them." (BioMedNet News)

"GM virus research will stay secret" - "A NUMBER of dangerous genetically modified viruses and bacteria under development in British laboratories will remain secret for reasons of "national security" when a public register is reopened next month, the Government announced yesterday. The register was closed after September 11 because of fears that the information could be used by terrorists. But in a move criticised by senior academics and environmentalists, the Government has amended the law to keep secret the most dangerous diseases under development." (Telegraph)

"US launches drive to free world trade in "GM" farm produce" - "The United States says it wants to convince all members of the World Trade Organisation to open their markets to genetically modified farm products. America's Trade Representative, Robert Zoellick, told journalists at W-T-O headquarters in Geneva that bio-technology products, including genetically-modified foods, represent an enormous potential that must be tapped to fight hunger and malnutrition." (Radio Australia)

"European Commission Outlines Plan To Encourage Rise of Biotechnology" - "BRUSSELS -- Europe's fears about biotechnology are costing it in terms of jobs, growth and prosperity, the European Commission says in a strategy paper scheduled to be adopted this week.

The paper, titled ''Life Sciences and Biotechnology: A Strategy for Europe,'' marks a bid by the European Union's executive body to gain the moral high ground in an arena where it has often been portrayed as the villain. For years, the commission has written laws that treated biotech products as a potential threat, and several more such laws are in the pipeline.

Now the commission is saying that the 15-nation EU can no longer afford to heap suspicion on biotechnology as a whole." (Dow Jones Newswires)

"GMO Issue Looms Large as Top US-Korea Trade Issue" - "The genetically modified organisms (GMO) issue on major agricultural products is expected to loom large as a critical pending agenda in the forthcoming governmental talks between Korea and the United States. The Korean government enacted a mandate to indicate GMO in the labels of imported corn products last year. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MOAF) announced Sunday that Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., the deputy United States Trade Representative (USTR), is due to pay a visit to the ministry and Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) Monday and Tuesday, respectively, to launch discussions on the GMO labeling system in Korea." (Digital Chosun)

"Payday for US Plant Scientists: Supreme Court upholds patenting of genetically engineered plants" - "A Dec. 10 ruling from the US Supreme Court that validates patents on genetically engineered plants re-ignited the debate over the politics of property rights in the life sciences." (The Scientist)

"Genetically Modified Organisms in Food and Agriculture: Where are we? Where are we going?" - "Keynote Address –Conference on "Crop and Forest Biotechnology for the Future Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry Falkenberg, Sweden 16 to 18 September 2001" (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)

January 21, 2002

"Fields of Dreams" - "If you have ever worried that environmentalists are genuinely thwarting progress in the field of agricultural biotechnology, then now may be the time to think again. In 2001, over 5 million farmers opted for the future rather than for a rose-tinted return to a never existing, "organic" past. From China to Canada, farm fields are waving with the three big 'Cs': biotech canola, corn and cotton. And biotech soybeans now cover a massive 33 million hectares of the good earth. So much for biotech terrorism: try ripping out that lot." (Philip Stott, Tech Central Station)

Meanwhile: "Top stores snub organic lobby" - "TWO of the UK’s largest supermarket chains have refused to back a campaign calling for a huge rise in the amount of land given over to organic farming, it emerged today. Tesco and Safeway will reject joining more than 100 organisations which have come together to urge the government to set a target for having 30 per cent of UK agricultural land organic by 2010. At present, just three per cent is organic and the current boom in the market has resulted in demand outstripping what UK producers can supply. It has led to 70 per cent of organic food being imported from abroad. The Organic Targets Campaign contacted the major supermarket chains urging their support. Sainsbury’s and Asda agreed to sign up, but the other two members of the big four supermarket groups have refused." (The Scotsman)

"Jury out on DVT link say airlines" - "The airline industry says "the jury is still out" on whether there is a link between air travel and the potentially fatal condition deep vein thrombosis. The head of British Airway's health team, Dr Michael Bagshaw will tell a conference at the Royal Society of Medicine in London on Monday that there not yet a definitive answer." (BBC Online)

"Agency Opts Not to Alter Fuel Rules; Environmentalists Assail NHTSA's Decision" - "The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said yesterday that it will not take advantage of congressional action that opened the door to tougher fuel-efficiency requirements for 2004-model-year pickup trucks, minivans and sport-utility vehicles." (Washington Post)

"ME: the making of a new disease" - "Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) - also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) - must be recognised as a genuine illness, according to a working group reporting to the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Liam Donaldson. The report insists that doctors must provide 'prompt, authoritative diagnosis', appropriate advice and early access to treatment." (Dr Michael Fitzpatrick, sp!ked)

Back on the anti-chemical front: "Environment vs human rights" - "Geneva - When the world's 12 most toxic persistent organic pollutants or POPs spread into the Inuit territories of the far North, both the natural habitat and human rights are put at peril. This growing overlap between protecting the environment and human rights has this week been addressed by experts meeting under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Ten years after the Rio Earth Summit, the seminar chaired by Ghanaian Thomas Mansah, a judge at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg, comes ahead of a world summit on sustainable development starting in Johannesburg on August 26. "It is time to recognise that those who pollute or destroy the natural environment are not just committing a crime against nature but are violating human rights as well," said UNEP Director Klaus Toepfer." (Sapa/AFP)

"Horse virus is probed for link to depression" - "BLOOD supplies destined for hospital transfusions are being investigated for signs of contamination with a virus which is believed to have jumped species from animals to humans. The investigation, which is due to conclude later this year, follows a study of 500 farm workers from across the country by the Public Health Laboratory Service, which found more than a dozen had signs of the disease in their blood. The infection, called borna virus, was originally identified in horses and can cause fatal inflammation of the brain. In humans there is evidence that it could be responsible for depression, schizophrenia and suicide." (Sunday Times)

"Defend animal research" - "The Research Defence Society (RDS), a UK-based campaign dedicated to promoting the scientific and medical benefits of animal research, launched its latest publication on 15 January 2002.

'The Hope, the Challenge, the People' puts a persuasive case for the benefits of animal research, presented through the eyes of a patient, a family doctor, a surgeon, a medical researcher, an animal technician and a veterinary surgeon. It documents how, throughout the past 100 years, new and better treatments have been developed to save and improve the quality of our lives - most of which would not have been possible without animal experimentation. The pamphlet also charts the major medical milestones achieved through animal research: from blood transfusion and local anaesthetic to heart transplants and drugs for leukaemia." (Helene Guldberg, sp!ked)

"Greens cut Turner a break" - "Billionaire Ted Turner pursued his stated goal of saving the environment by purchasing a good portion of it — 1.8 million acres in 10 states, making him the largest private landowner in the United States. But neighbors and other critics say Mr. Turner, 63, has an odd way of demonstrating his concern for nature on his own land:
The CNN founder sponsored elite bison hunts at $10,500 per hunter and erected "killer fences" that snare and torture migrating wildlife.
He cuts timber and drills for natural gas.
He even bulldozed a hilltop to create a better view of a mountain range that is reflected in his trout pond.
Ordinarily such behavior would draw howls of protest and legal action from a broad range of environmental groups. But critics of Mr. Turner's stewardship of his lands say he largely escapes repercussions for such activities because the media mogul is one of the environmental movement's most generous benefactors, donating millions to the cause." (Washington Times)

Kyoto season again - already?:

"Secretary-general Appoints Executive Secretary Of United Nations Framework Convention On Climate Change"  - "The Secretary-General has appointed Joke Waller-Hunter of the Netherlands as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to succeed Michael Zammit Cutajar, who retires on 31 January. The appointment has been made after consultations with the Conference of Parties through its Bureau.

Ms. Waller-Hunter is currently the Environment Director of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). She has previously worked as the Director of the United Nations Division for Sustainable Development, which provides the substantive secretariat support to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. She has also worked with the Dutch Government in the earlier years of her career." (United Nations, Fri 18 Jan 2002)

"Global warming: a threat to global stability?" - "Global warming was described recently by 100 Nobel Prize laureates as "one of the biggest threats to global stability in the 21st century." (Montreal Gazette)

"It's decision time for Kyoto accord" - "Decision time is looming for Canada to finally sign on the dotted line of the Kyoto accord or ditch the international agreement to combat global warming as unworkable, as the United States has done." (Montreal Gazette)

"Business, environmentalists split on mandatory emission penalties" - "MONTREAL - Environmentalists and some business leaders agree emission trading programs could help Canada cut its production of greenhouse gases, but they disagree on whether the system should be mandatory." (CBC)

"3 bills to be submitted for Kyoto pact ratification" - "TOKYO, Jan. 19 - The government will submit three bills to an ordinary Diet session, to be convened Monday, so as to realize Japan's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on curbing global warming, government sources said Saturday. It is also expected to map out a new guideline at a special committee in early February to achieve a 6% reduction in greenhouse gases in 2008-2012 from 1990 levels, mandated for the ratification, they said." (Kyodo)

"U.S. close to alternative greenhouse gas containment plan" - "WASHINGTON, Jan. 19 - The United States is close to formulating an alternative plan to the Kyoto Protocol on global warming that stresses containing greenhouse gas emissions rather than cutting them, sources close to the government said Saturday. But the initiative to be put forward by the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases is likely to spark international criticism as it links emission cuts to economic growth rates and fails to require companies to carry out reductions. The plan is expected to be announced as early as next week after receiving President George W. Bush's stamp of approval, the sources said." (Kyodo)

"Role of forests seen leading environmental debate" - "Forests are now at the forefront of climate-change debate in Japan. Known as "carbon sinks" in the parlance of scientists, negotiators and global warming policy specialists, forests and other carbon dioxide-absorbing ecosystems are recognized as a means of offsetting greenhouse gas emissions. The questions facing Japan on this score are: How much of a role can forests play in paring domestic emissions and how can Tokyo prove or validate this role?" (Japan Times)

"UPDATE - Greenpeace says UK govt exporting global warming" - "LONDON - Environmental pressure group Greenpeace has accused the British government of exporting global warming by funding fossil fuel projects around the world, despite commitments at home to move to cleaner energy sources." (Reuters)

Still promoting his hand-wringing book: "Greens' climate catastrophe" - "The only long-term solution to climate change is the widespread adoption of renewable forms of energy, including wind power, solar energy and extensive plantings of crops that can be used as fuel. Yet Australian environmentalists are some of the biggest obstacles to the development of these alternatives.

In fact, despite climate change being the gravest environmental threat of all, environmentalists in Australia for the most part refuse to give it its due importance. We are now seeing a pattern of knee-jerk resistance to a range of renewable energy proposals across the country, including objections to new wind farms and unthinking opposition to burning biomass." (Clive Hamilton, The Melbourne Age)

"Europe's largest glacier melting away - expert" - "STOCKHOLM - The largest glacier in Europe, Iceland's Vatnajokull, is melting away and getting thinner by an average of one metre (about three ft) per year because of a warmer climate, an expert said." (Reuters)

but: "Harsh winters blamed for drop in whale births" - "SAN FRANCISCO — Gray whales are migrating south along the West Coast this time of year, but with fewer calves in tow.

Perryman said three consecutive cold winters in Alaska have kept ice from thawing in feeding areas, where the gray whales eat ocean-floor-dwelling crustaceans known as amphipods. Perryman believes that's a factor in their low birthrates." (AP)

"Should we implement the Kyoto Protocol?: No" - "Moralising on the basis of hurricanes and storm surges is not going to help anybody. If architects act on some of the wilder speculation about the consequences of climate change we could see a massive misdirection of resources." (Kyoto debate continues on sp!ked)

"The Resurgent Sun" - "Evidence is mounting that some solar cycles are doubled-peaked. The ongoing solar maximum may itself be a double -- and the second peak has arrived." (Science@NASA)

"DNA map may take sting out of malaria" - "Scientists are on the verge of unravelling the long, lethal DNA code of the malaria parasite, which kills as many as three million people a year. According to reports, scientists from Stanford University, the U.S. Institute for Genome Research and Britain's Wellcome Trust have nearly sequenced its roughly 6,000 genes and will publish the work within months. The malaria genome is expected to have a profound impact on the development of new drugs. Using conventional methods, it costs about US$800-million to create a new drug. But malaria mainly hurts poor people in Africa and Asia, so most pharmaceutical companies are loath to spend this time and money to produce drugs people cannot afford. Only about US$50-million a year is spent worldwide on malaria research. However, with the gene map, expensive research that once took years could be done in weeks." (Brad Evenson, National Post)

"Biotechs fight threat of 'superbugs'" - "SAN FRANCISCO, California -- Genetic engineers who have spent years fighting diseases face a dismaying paradox in the post-September 11 world: Many of their impressive breakthroughs can also be used for sinister purposes. Genetic maps of many disease-causing viruses and bacteria are now available to anyone with an Internet connection. Techniques that can make pathogens more deadly are publicized in scientific journals." (AP)

"The US, Europe, and Precaution: A Comparative Case Study Analysis of the Management of Risk in a Complex World" - "As the Directorate General responsible for health and consumer safety, my department is constantly faced with the challenge of balancing the freedom and rights of individuals, industry and organisations with the need to reduce the real and potential adverse effects of products and processes on human, animal or plant health or the environment. Finding the correct balance so that proportionate, non-discriminatory, transparent and coherent actions can be taken requires a structured decision-making process, based on scientific and other objective information within the overall framework of risk analysis. -- Robert J. Coleman" (Europa)

"Current Science Commentary: Tuberculosis and antibiotic resistance" - "Recently, several Indian newspapers have carried stories on the impact of ‘Bt-cotton gene on tuberculosis (TB)’ alleged by Greenpeace, because of the presence of the antibiotic marker gene in these crops. Here, I analyse this risk issue from the use of genetically modified cotton, based on the published literature. -- C. S. Prakash" (Current Science)

"Seed growers see little good in GM wheat" - "Debate over genetically modified wheat, like its development, soldiers on." (The Western Producer)

"Frankenfood or magic bullet?" - "Bojja Venkat Reddy faced a stark choice when his crop failed a couple of years ago: commit suicide or sell a kidney. The impoverished cotton and chilli farmer from Andhra Pradesh's Guntur district chose the latter option. He sold a kidney for a 1,000 dollars to clear his debts and keep his family going after his cotton crop had failed. He is one of the luckier ones; thousands of cotton farmers in India are believed to have killed themselves - consuming the same insecticide they spray on their crops - in the last few years, crushed by the intolerable burden of debt accumulated after crop failures." (NewIndPress On Sunday)

"GM cotton crop to be grown in Qld" - "The Gene Technology Regulator has authorised the first licence under the new Gene Technology Act to trial a genetically modified crop which will be grown in Queensland." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Beckett calls for public debate on GM crops" - "THE UK government and the Scottish executive want a public debate on the possible commercialisation of genetically modified crops which are now in field scale trials. In a joint response yesterday to the Agricultural and Environmental Biotechnology Commission’s report Crops on Trial last autumn, Margaret Beckett, head of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: "We would welcome the commission’s further advice on how and when to promote an effective public debate on possible commercialisation of these GM crops and how to make best use of the results." (The Scotsman)

"Beckett tightens rules on GM crop trials" - "THE Government signalled a U-turn over genetically modified crops last night that could delay any commercial planting for years. Ministers made clear that human safety will be paramount before approving any planting. In a blow to the biotechnology industry, Margaret Beckett, the Rural Affairs Secretary, indicated that the results of the official farm trials to see if GM crops harm the environment — due next year — will not be enough to justify the lifting of the moratorium. She said that there would have to be a further independent review to satisfy the Government that GM technology had no adverse effects on human health or the environment." (The Times)

"Managing food crops with saline water" - "The need for a specialised biosaline agriculture centre was realised over a decade ago. Fresh water resources were being over exploited in much of the developing world, and hence the need to use saline water for agriculture. The International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) was conceived in 1996 with the signing of an agreement between the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), the centre's major donor, and the UAE government represented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries." (Gulf News)

"Crop research focusing on environmental angle" - "INCREASING environmental concerns will force arable crop researchers to look for additional ways to boost performance while curbing chemical inputs, a leading scientist has said. "Cutting costs while pushing up yields has been the focus of much of our research to date, particularly in the last two or three years as crop prices have fallen, but increasingly there is an environmental element," said Professor Graham Jellis, head of research with the Home-Grown Cereals Authority. "We are working with various environmental organisations and we are waiting to see what government departments’ strategies are going to be. We are going to have to fit in with these." (The Scotsman)

January 18, 2002

"Formula for a Scam" - “He has his mother’s brains” proclaims Martek Biosciences Corp.’s new ad featuring an infant staring at a computer monitor and fingering the keyboard. The message is that smart babies come from smart mothers -- those who feed their babies formula supplemented with DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and AA (arachidonic acid), apparently magical nutritional oils manufactured by Martek." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Private investors back scrutiny of global ecosystems" - "Fifty of the world's leading environmental scientists, led by Klaus Töpfer, today in Penang put the finishing touches to a global program of ecosystem assessment modeled on the international panel that oversaw discussions on climate change. Finance for the project is coming largely from the Global Environment Fund, the private investment initiative based in Washington DC." (BioMedNet News)

And Klaus thinks they should advertise this part?

"The structure of the so-called Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) is modeled on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the international group of scientists that set the scientific foundation for the Kyoto Protocol, says Töpfer, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)."

As if one fright-feature fantasy mill wasn't one too many already.

"Forest Service backs lynx researchers: Scientists had no intent of skewing results, officials say" - "OLYMPIA -- Officials from the U.S. Forest Service and the state Fish and Wildlife Department tried to convince skeptical legislators yesterday that their researchers did not attempt to skew data in an ongoing survey of the threatened Canada lynx.

They did so with mixed results.

Ken Jacobsen, D-Seattle, chairman of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, said he was convinced by the officials' testimony that the scientists meant no wrong and that the committee would not pursue the issue further.

However, Sens. Val Stevens, R-Arlington, and Bob Morton, R-Orient, called for a continuing investigation of the researchers and for possible criminal prosecution if it is determined they broke state law." (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

"Legal Smog Delays Clean Air Law" - "The Environmental Protection Agency is postponing for a year a requirement that scores of coal-burning power plants reduce smog-causing pollution that often drifts from the Midwest and Ohio Valley into the Northeast. EPA Administrator Christie Whitman said in a letter to Congress that litigation over EPA's attempts to reduce Midwest pollution made the delay until May 2004 necessary." (AP)

"Air Pollution Plummets As Energy Use Climbs" - "WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 -- A new analysis of federal government data collected since 1970 reveals dramatic U.S. air quality improvements even as the nation experienced an equally dramatic rise in energy consumption." (PR Newswire)

"Airlines see little mileage in air pollution study" - "LONDON - The airline industry said yesterday there was little mileage in an air pollution study that suggested replacing long range flights with a series of shorter connecting flights could make substantial savings in fuel." (Reuters)

"Enron's secret energy plan" - "Enron Corp. has been widely depicted as a free market swashbuckler leveraging its political power for deregulation. In truth, the Texas energy giant and its well-connected chief, Dr. Kenneth Lay, also constituted the most active corporate advocate of the Kyoto global warming treaty. Lay's efforts last year reached into the Bush Cabinet to Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill.

There is no evidence of direct communication on this issue between Lay and O'Neill. The middleman between them was former Sen. Timothy Wirth, an environmentalist who is now president of Ted Turner's billion-dollar United Nations Foundation. Lay tried hard to harness O'Neill's indiscreet enthusiasm for the global warming cause to a commercial bonanza for Enron. An O'Neill spokesman told me that he had no knowledge of Lay's support for the Kyoto treaty and reaffirmed his own opposition to it.

Lay has been painted as a heartless advocate of free market economics when he actually was working behind the scenes for control of energy emissions, establishing alliances with the most radical environmentalist pressure groups." (Robert Novak, Chicago Sun-Times)

"Guilt By Association" - "Democrats hope to bell the Bush administration with the Enron debacle. Democratic National Committee spokesperson Jennifer Palmieri crows: "Enron now becomes shorthand for Democrats trying to convey to the American people the irresponsible way that the Bush administration … puts special interests above those of the average American."

Despite the campaign cash and conversations that link Enron and the Bush administration, the facts thus far show the administration did nothing for Enron, other than lend it its ear. Still, Washington being what it is, guilt by association might be enough to dog the administration for a while.

But oh, if only guilt by association applied as much to bad ideas as it seems to apply to individuals who've yet to be found guilty of anything. Then the nation would never have to fear one of Enron's biggest schemes ever coming to fruition." (Duane D. Freese, Tech Central Station)

"Science Priorities After 9/11" - "The annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) held late last year in San Francisco gathered over 8000 scientists in the year's largest and most important meeting on earth science. Research on climate change was front and center. But there was a clear mismatch between the results of actual research last year and the sensational news reported from the conference. The outpouring of news sounded more frantic and panicked than usual, and such hysteria makes bridging the gap between research and reality on climate change more difficult." (Dr. Willie Soon , Tech Central Station)

"Greenhouse lobby, read the paper" - "Those following the climate debate should read, (between the lines), the features by Simon Grose, and by Peter Szental in today’s CT. The first item, shows just how hard it is to say exactly what the temperature of the planet is doing, with some findings now showing that average temperatures in Antarctica may be dropping. The second castigates ‘strong and vocal self-interested groups that still argue against’ the greenhouse effect. Its author happens to be, by the way, ‘chief executive officer of the Sustainable Energy Industry Association.’ Der. (Pot calling Kettle, come in Kettle…)" (Larry Mounser, Canberra Times)

"Guess what? Antarctica's getting colder, not warmer" - "The Earth's polar regions long have been considered canaries in the coal mine on climate change - the first places to look, many scientists said, to learn whether the planet's temperature is, in fact, rising. Indeed, climate models generally predict that the heating of the atmosphere - precipitated by global warming - will cause the vast layer of ice that covers Antarctica to melt, raising sea levels and changing regional climate patterns by altering ocean currents.

This week, that widely held presumption is being challenged.

Two studies of temperatures and ice-cap movements in Antarctica suggest that the Southern Hemisphere's "canary" isn't going down without a fight - key sections of the ice cap appear to be growing thicker, not thinner, as previously believed. And the continent's average temperature appears to have cooled slightly during the past 35 years, not warmed." (Christian Science Monitor) | West Antarctic Ice Getting Thicker (AP) | Antarctic May Have Stopped Shrinking, Study Finds (Reuters) | Ice 'thickens' in West Antarctica (BBC Online) | West Antarctic ice sheet is thickening (New Scientist)

See Positive Mass Balance of the Ross Ice Streams, West Antarctica, Science 295: 476 (PDF) and related On Thickening Ice?, Science 295: 451 (PDF)

"CLIMATE CHANGE MAY BRING MORE WINTER FLOODS, AND A DRIER GROWING SEASON IN CALIFORNIA" - "A new study finds that climate warming over the next century will bring potential flooding in winter, as a result of increased streamflow throughout California. The study also finds less water would be available during the summer months. Norman Miller and Kathy Bashford of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), and Eric Strem of the National Weather Service's (NWS) California-Nevada River Forecast Center looked at two climate change scenarios projected out to the year 2100. Based on these scenarios, they determined how the smallest to largest expected changes in regional temperature and precipitation would affect streamflow throughout California." (NASA/GSFC)

"NASA satellite instrument warms up global cooling theory" - "Measurements from a NASA Langley Research Center satellite instrument dispute a recent theory that proposes that clouds in the Tropics might cool the Earth and counteract predictions of global warming. The Langley instrument indicates these clouds would instead slightly strengthen the greenhouse effect to warm the Earth." (NASA/GSFC)

"China says Kyoto pact benefits both rich and poor" - "BEIJING, China -- China, one of the world's worst polluters, on Thursday pushed for early passage of the embattled Kyoto accord to curb global warming, calling it a win-win deal for industrialized and poorer countries alike." (Reuters)

"Carbon tax stuck in detour to Kyoto" - "The dust is finally settling. In the two months since countries put the finishing touches on the Kyoto Protocol in Morocco in November, Japan has been struggling to cobble together a convincing script for future action against global warming. The government, looking to ratify the pact as early as this year, has yet to spell out specific measures to achieve the goals outlined in the accord. What it has come up with is a vague, scattered outline that prescribes little more than additional debate: No major steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions will be taken for at least three years, pending policy reviews in 2004 and 2007. By 2012, Japan will have to reduce emissions by 6 percent of 1990 levels." (Japan Times)

"Emissions-trading plan put on back burner" - "Until recently, trading in carbon dioxide emissions seemed destined for early introduction in Japan. The launch of such a system, however, is being put off as the government postpones key policy decisions to curb global-warming emissions. This, combined with reluctance from big business to embrace emissions trading, has put the plan on the back burner." (Japan Times)

"Hitachi to introduce CO2 trading" - "With the enforcement of limits on greenhouse gas emissions looming under the Kyoto Protocol, electronics giant Hitachi Ltd. is preparing to impose limits of its own on emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) at its factories and set rules allowing them to trade emissions rights. Nationwide, about 100 facilities belonging to the Hitachi group will be affected by the new system, which is to be introduced in April 2004, according to company sources." (Asahi Shimbun)

"STUDY LINKS EL NINO TO DEADLY SOUTH AMERICAN DISEASE" - "In a groundbreaking collaborative study, NASA climatologists and U.S. military health specialists may have discovered a way to predict outbreaks of a deadly South American disease by observing sea surface temperature. The researchers found that the worst outbreaks of Bartonellosis, an insect-borne disease highly fatal to humans, are closely related to the climate event El Niño. These outbreaks occur one to three months after the warming of the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean that is associated with El Niño. If confirmed, the findings could enable health workers to stave off future epidemics before they begin." (NASA News)

"'Spider-goats' start work on wonder web" - "A HERD of goats containing spider genes is about to be milked for the ingredients of spider silk to mass-produce one of nature's most sought-after materials. Scientists have for the first time spun synthetic spider silk fibres with properties approaching the real thing, paving the way for their use in artificial tendons, medical sutures, biodegradable fishing lines, soft body armour and a host of other applications. Webster and Peter, genetically altered goats unveiled today by the Canadian company Nexia, are the founders of a GM herd whose offspring will produce spider silk protein in their milk that can be collected, purified and spun into the fibres. Females will begin mass-producing spider milk in the second quarter of this year for a variety of military and industrial uses." (Telegraph)

"Anti-GM body colour-codes supermarkets" - "The anti-genetic modification body Gene Ethics Network has announced it'll be colour-coding supermarkets and food processors, on their attitudes to GM food. The traffic light grading system will code companies, green, amber or red, depending on wether they make an effort to label food GMO-free." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"UNIDO Launches Broad Biotechnology Initiative in Latin America" - "Agricultural and agro-industrial enterprises in Latin American and Caribbean countries stand to reap substantial benefits from a regional biotechnology initiative launched recently by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). At a meeting held last December in Montevideo, the Vienna-based Organization outlined the mission of a Consultative Group called upon to assist the region in its efforts to seize the opportunities offered by rapid advances in biotechnology and deal with the challenges of biotech security and commerce." (BINAS Online)

"Bio-technology can help reduce desertification" - "Ahmedabad, January 16: CHIEF Minister Narendra Modi has suggested bio-technological intervention to arrest desertification and to explore marine potential. He was releasing first magazine on Bio-technology — ‘Biotech World’ — in the State on Tuesday. Modi said that Bio-technology has the potential of not only restricting the expansion of desert, but also to convert it to some productive use. He said the role of Bio-technology in areas like agriculture and marine potential also requires to be explored. Modi was of the view that media could dispel the myth that Bio-technology was only the domain of scientists alone." (Express News Service)

January 17, 2002

"Does CAFE Kill?: Leading Traffic Safety Researcher to Discuss Federal Fuel Economy Standards Program at CEI" - "Washington, D.C., January 15, 2002-As the debate over fuel economy standards heats up, one of the world's leading traffic safety researchers addresses the question-Does CAFE Kill? Dr. Leonard Evans will discuss the corporate average fuel economy program (CAFE) this Thursday, January 17 at 10 a.m. at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Last summer the National Academy of Sciences reported that CAFE may contribute to as many as 2,600 deaths each year because the program has forced the downsizing of cars, making them less crashworthy. Despite those findings, there is a widespread push for more stringent CAFE standards. Advocates of higher standards dispute the existence of any trade-off between fuel economy and safety, and argue that new technologies make it possible to have higher standards without any safety trade-off.

What are CAFE's safety risks? Can higher fuel economy standards avoid these risks, or will it make them worse?

Dr. Leonard Evans is president of the International Traffic Medicine Association, former president of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine, the recipient of numerous traffic safety awards, and author of the widely acclaimed book, Traffic Safety and the Driver.

What: Does CAFE Kill? Featuring Dr. Leonard Evans, internationally renowned traffic safety expert
When: 10 a.m. Thursday, January 17, 2002
Where: Competitive Enterprise Institute, 1001 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Suite 1250, Washington, D.C." (CEI)

"Justice to Pursue Clean Air Suits" - "The Justice Department says it will pursue a string of lawsuits against power companies accused of violating clean air rules, but the future of the litigation, in fact, may hinge on the outcome of a debate swirling within the White House, according to the Associated Press.

In "The EPA's Clean Air-ogance," Steven J. Milloy and Michael Gough, commenting on air standards, show how "a close inspection of the EPA proposal shows that it lacks a sound basis in science." In "Time to Reopen the Clean Air Act: Clearing Away the Regulatory Smog," K.H. Jones and Jonathan Adler make the case for revisiting the Clean Air Act to reduce EPA regulations such as "mandatory carpooling and enhanced inspection and maintenance programs to technology standards for factory emissions and new emissions controls on lawn mowers, snow blowers, chain saws, and the like." (Cato Institute)

"Court spurns lawsuit on guns as 'nuisance'" - "A federal appeals court ruled last week that Philadelphia may not sue the gun industry for creating a "public nuisance." The decision is the most recent action on one of 30 similar lawsuits winding through federal and state courts. Counties, cities and states have sued gun manufacturers to recoup costs they say they've incurred from having to prevent, clean up after, and care for the victims of gun violence. They argue that gun manufacturers failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the violence. But the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with Philadelphia, ruling Friday that to link manufacturers to what someone eventually does with the gun is too big a leap." (Washington Times)

"Gun-control advocates should change their tune" - "Times are hard for gun-control advocates. Following Sept. 11, firearm purchases spiked 10 to 20 percent nationwide. It's not about terrorism, but personal security. Even in pacific Seattle the numbers are up, police say. You can almost picture trust-fund liberals from Leschi and Laurelhurst laying down their copies of the Utne Reader and Mother Jones to buy pistols and take target practice in Bellevue." (Matt Rosenberg, Seattle Times)

"Eco-terrorists release list of targets in 2001" - "An Animal Liberation Front spokesman yesterday released a year-end list of arsons, tree spikings, laboratory attacks and other illegal acts he says were committed in the name of saving animals and the environment. Compiled from news reports, missives from people who commit the crimes and other sources, the first-of-a-kind report purports to document the scope of the underground movement and justify the militant actions in post-Sept. 11 North America." (Seattle Times)

"US cancer drug approval: Only a matter of time" - "US regulatory bodies should consider eliminating or seriously modifying requirements for animal toxicology tests for cancer drug candidates, speakers will argue tomorrow at a high-level meeting sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences. This is not out of concern for the animals used in research but for the patients who might benefit from drugs whose approval is slowed by tests that may be irrelevant." (BioMedNet News)

Next chemical scare/fundraiser? "Tap water standards too lax: environmental group" - "OTTAWA - An environmental group is demanding the federal government protect Canadians from an industrial solvent found in tap water. The Sierra Legal Defence Fund wants restrictions on the amount of trichloroethylene, or TCE, discharged into drinking water. TCE is used to dissolve grease on metal and has been linked to cancer." (CBC)

Not to be outdone: "'Toxic eggs' warning" - "A potentially dangerous drug is present in up to 750,000 eggs eaten in Britain every day, according to the Soil Association." (BBC Online)

"Society has made a virtue of vice" - "Once upon a time there were seven deadly sins. They were called deadly because they led to spiritual death and therefore to damnation. The seven sins were (and are): lust, gluttony, avarice, sloth, anger, envy and pride. Now all of them, with the exception of pride, have become medical conditions. Pride has become a virtue." (Frank Furedi, The Spectator)

Bet this is a popular study: "Sex protects against strokes: study" - "MIDDLE-aged men face no extra risk of a heart attack by having sex frequently. In fact, having intercourse several times a week may even help to protect them against a fatal stroke, a study published today says." (AFP)

"Group growls over lynx flap" - "Wednesday, January 16, 2002 - WASHINGTON - Rep. Scott McInnis and other Western lawmakers may have violated a federal law protecting civil servants when they called for the firing of federal biologists involved in a controversial lynx study, an environmental group says. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility says the biologists have been caught up in political efforts to undermine the Endangered Species Act." (Denver Post)

Clapp trapp: "Statement of National Environmental Trust President Philip Clapp on the Department of Justice Review of NSR: 'Cynical Publicity Stunt'" - "WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 -- Following is a statement of National Environmental Trust President Philip Clapp on the Department of Justice Review of NSR: "Cynical Publicity Stunt": "This is the most cynical publicity stunt I have ever seen. Look good one day by announcing you're going to prosecute polluters -- and hope nobody notices a few days later when you quietly announce that you're gutting the very rules under which the polluters are being prosecuted." (U.S. Newswire)

"Enron’s Lobbying Goals Would Kill More Jobs Than Its Collapse" - "WASHINGTON, DC — Many members of Congress are criticizing the Bush Administration for not having tried to prevent thousands of people from losing their jobs and pensions when Enron Corp. collapsed last month. Dispute is nearly nonexistent among economists, however, that far more jobs would be lost if Enron ever achieved one it its main political goals—limiting carbon dioxide emissions." (Competitive Enterprise Institute)

"Long-haul flights on way back to earth" - "AIR travel to distant countries could involve a series of short hops rather than long-haul flights to minimise the impact on the environment, according to an airline industry report. Aircraft that travel vast distances in one non-stop flight consume 40 per cent more fuel than a plane which repeatedly stops en route to refuel.

Greener by Design, a two-year research project commissioned by British Airways, Airbus, Boeing, all the main airports and various government departments and agencies, recommends that the industry urgently consider switching to short hops. The study concludes that breaking up journeys in this way “would have substantially less impact on climate change.” (The Times)

"Noise breaks ice" - "Natural randomness in the world's climate system may have caused the frequent, fast and fleeting returns to warm conditions during past ice ages, say two scientists working in Germany." (Nature Science Update)

"Raw Empirical Data Not Everything In Climate Study" - "Most scientific measurements claim the definitive precision of a football score. No one, after all, disputes the length of a centimeter, the mass of a gram, or how many points a touchdown is worth.

A new analysis of climate data over more than 100 years, however, suggests that finding the hottest or coldest day, week or year may be less like reading a football score and more like deciding which college teams play for the national championship: Raw empirical data is important, but it isn’t everything.

Using 108 years of weather data gathered by several sources, Alabama's state climatologist, Dr. John Christy, tried to answer what most people might consider a simple question: "When was the hottest summer in North Alabama?" (UniSci)

"New El Nino looks on way say scientists" - "Conditions for a new El Nino climate pattern are developing, posing the risk of weather chaos." (New Zealand Herald)

but: "Too early to predict El Nino: NZ scientists" - "New Zealand scientists say it is too early to be sure whether the El Nino weather phenomenon will return this year, bringing drought to some and flash floods to others around the Pacific." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

and, more accurately: "Climate Centre monitors possible El Nino" - "The National Climate Centre is favouring warmer than average nights for parts of Queensland and Western Australia, but says the indicators are too weak to assess a possible drought-forming El Nino." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

For balance, the excusers: "This juvenile posturing is for punks" - "How sadly predictable and, above all, strategically illiterate are the attacks on Peter Melchett and others who, after years of consistent and courageous endeavour on behalf of the environmental movement, have decided they have a better chance of promoting change by working with business and industry, instead of engaging in the kind of invariably useless confrontational activity enjoyed by the punk end of the movement." (Des Wilson, The Guardian)

"Largest Ever World Wide Project to Promote Biosafety Launched by UNEP" - "NAIROBI — A multi-million dollar project to help developing countries assess the potential risks and rewards from genetically engineered crops will be at the centre of an African Regional Workshop on biosafety that opens today at the headquarters of the United nations Environment Programme (UNEP)." (United Nations Environment Programme)

"U.S. Pressures Europe to Drop GMO Labeling Rules" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium, January 16, 2002 - Confidential documents obtained by Friends of the Earth Europe underline American opposition to European Union plans for compulsory tracing and labeling rules for all food and animal feed containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) above a certain threshold. The United States is concerned that tracing and labeling rules would limit imports of American crops such as GM soy and corn. The U.S. government argues that the European Union proposal is "unworkable and not enforceable," and that labeling will actually erode rather than bolster consumer confidence." (ENS)

"AGBIOVIEW SPECIAL: Barry Commoner Attacks GM Crops Based on Dubious Arguments" - "Dubious Arguments and Bad Science; New Report Challenges Fundamentals of Genetic Engineering; Study Questions Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods; Rebuttal from Wayne Parrott; Comments from Malcolm Livingtstone, Henry Miller, Bob Goldberg, Cindy Richards, Val Giddings and Andrew Apel; Barry Commoner Bio; Beating Up On Agribusiness At Biodevastation 2000; On The Menu: Modified Genes; Genetic Engineering: Are The Risks Worth Taking?" (AgBioWorld.org)

January 16, 2002

"Democrats plan human barrier against radioactive waste" - "The Australian Democrats say they will use direct action rather than words to stop the planned national radioactive waste dump from being located in South Australia." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

To stop Grandpa's old watch face being dumped? That's the kind of 'nuclear waste' that's to go into this dump - old watch faces with the dots of luminous paint, paper filters, disposable overalls etc... - the kind of thing that California is rightly about to return to ordinary landfills. Given that Grandpa probably wore the thing for 40 years or more and many people (quite legitimately and without hazard) hoard them for sentimental reasons, isn't this getting too ridiculous for words?

I've heard of 'clock watchers' before but the Australian Democrats' fear of Gramp's wristwatch is a new one.

"Study links car exhaust, asthma symptom" - "NEW YORK, Jan 15 - Children who live near a busy road may be at increased risk of wheezing, a symptom of asthma, researchers report. In the study, investigators found that children aged 4 to 16 who lived within 150 meters (about 450 feet) of a heavily trafficked street were more likely to develop a wheezing illness than their peers who did not live in such close proximity to a busy road." (Reuters Health)


"The investigators used specialized software to estimate the relationship between the distance of the family home from a main road and the risk of wheezing in past year."

And this software evaluated prevailing wind direction and home direction from said road; child's time outdoors; child's actual exposure to alleged toxicants; parental smoking; child's smoking; obesity; nutrition; familial history... Pretty flash program - be interesting to see where it got all the data.

"An exercise in critical reading in epidemiology" - "This is an article from New Scientist based on a paper in Epidemiology. On the right are questions and comments that might occur to an enquiring reader." (Number Watch)

"Still Wrong After All These Years: Worldwatch Misdiagnoses the Planet Again" - "The World Summit on Sustainable Development will convene in Johannesburg, South Africa, this coming September. The World Summit is the 10th anniversary follow-up to the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. At the Earth Summit, ideological environmentalism achieved considerable success in advancing its agenda for reshaping the world’s economy. The Earth Summit saw the adoption of the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the incorporation of the precautionary principle in international treaties." (Ronald Bailey, Reason)

"Lynx hair hoax backfires on scientists" - "WASHINGTON - Five wildlife researchers are facing the possibility of federal charges after they planted bogus hair samples from the threatened Canadian lynx in two Washington state national forests." (National Post)

"No Alternative" - "The nation's energy issues were put on the back burner after the events of Sept. 11. But since every American uses energy every day, those issues, unlike the al Qaeda network in Afghanistan, can't be buried forever." (Herbert Inhaber, Tech Central Station)

"Warm Winter Improving Energy Inventories" - "The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA), in their latest outlook, highlights how mild winter weather have improved energy inventories by lowering usage. The agency says lower estimated heating fuel demand and higher end-period inventories for the fourth quarter of 2001, particular for natural gas, are the direct result of the mild winter conditions." (AgWeb.com)

"ANALYSIS - Biomass power hopes for UK boost in 2002" - "LONDON - Willows, poplars and grass could one day be used to generate electricity for thousands of homes in Britain, if the biomass industry's hopes of a big boost from the government's renewables policy bear fruit.

Biomass, which uses plant and animal matter to provide power, has been in the doldrums for the last couple of years, hit by high costs and a hiatus in government support for new renewable energy schemes.

Now hopes are rising the industry could be kick started by government plans to introduce a "renewables obligation" in April, forcing electricity suppliers to buy at least three percent of their power from green sources this year." (Reuters)

So... the 'gummint' should tax the populace and give the money to corporations to underwrite their bottom lines? And they should do so to chase away a phantom whose worst manifestation would likely be that people would need use less energy to avoid freezing to death in then less-severe winters? I can see how that would make sense to the renewable power industry anyway.

In fact, I think the wannabe world government should tax everybody  - oh, nothing too extravagant (I'm not that greedy) say, 0.0001% of all energy costs and give me the money to chase away any number of phantoms I haven't made up yet.

"Antarctica is Freezing Cold" - "Baby penguins are starving, and climate change is to blame. But not in the way you might think." (Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon, Tech Central Station)

See also John Daly's comments (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"What Would Jesus Do? ... Or Moses, Buddha and Gandhi?" - "Summary: Wouldn't it be great if God would tell us what to do about CO2 and potential global change? Not to worry! There are plenty of people who feel fully qualified to speak in Deity's behalf. But are they justified in doing so? When someone tells us they know what Jesus or Gandhi would have done about the subject, we wonder if they really know anything at all ... about either science or religion." (co2science.org)

"Model Simulations of Soil Moisture: A Non-Step in the Right Direction?" - "Summary: An analysis of supposed improvements in land-surface parameterization schemes in a number of GCMs reveals no real progress, where progress is defined as the models' ability to better reproduce real-world observations of soil moisture conditions: Journal of Geophysical Research 105: 26,635-26,644." (co2science.org)

"African Rainfall" - "Summary: Climate alarmists warn of extreme changes in various aspects of regional climate (droughts, floods, etc.) due to global warming driven by increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations. One of the greatest such changes of the past century has been the large decrease in African rainfall, particularly in the Sahel and over the past two decades of "unprecedented" warming. Is CO2 to blame? Easier yet, is warming due to anything to blame?: Climate Research 17: 123-144." (co2science.org)

"A Thousand-Year History of Chesapeake Bay Climate" - "Summary: Would you believe it gives no hint of the Medieval Warm Period or Little Ice Age? If so, you would likely qualify to become a climate alarmist. You would also be wrong: Human and Ecological Risk Assessment 7: 1283-1296." (co2science.org)

"Green Alert: January, 14, 2002 Vol. 1, No. 16" - "In order for soils to sequester carbon, they first must be stabilized and protected from the ravages of wind and running water. If not, they are susceptible to severe erosion, which can lead to enormous carbon losses. Research by Swift (2001) bears this out. Swift notes there is a good correlation between soil aggregate stability and soil organic matter content across a wide range of soil types. This discovery suggests that whatever enhances soil stability enhances the likelihood that carbon delivered to the soil as a consequence of plant growth and decay will stay sequestered in the soil for the longest possible time. Research results by Rillig et al. (2000) become real eye-openers in this context." (co2andclimate.org)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT: January 15, 2002 Vol. 3, No. 3" - "The Washington Post’s January 14th edition headlined startling news on its second page: In Antarctica, No Warming Trend. Staff writer Guy Gugliotta begins his coverage with the lead, "The earth may be in the midst of a planet-wide warming cycle, but in a startling departure from global trends, scientists have found that temperatures on the Antarctic continent have fallen steadily for more than two decades." How can a story based on facts known in the scientific literature and publicized elsewhere for a decade be "startling" by any reasonable stretch of the imagination?" (co2andclimate.org)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT: January 11, 2002 Vol. 3, No. 2" - "Senate Democrats, and House Republicans and the Bush White House have dueling energy policy proposals now that Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) has introduced S. 1776. Buried deep in the Democrat’s bill is Title XIII, which calls for creation of a "National Climate Service." The model for the new agency is the National Weather Service." (co2andclimate.org)

Hmm... I think George is upset: "Business of betrayal" - "Greens who defect to the corporate world jeopardise the very survival of environmentalism." (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

In fact, he may have reason to feel a little despondent, many of the green dreams of returning to some never-extant Utopia are in the can - like this one:

"Recycling's down in the dumps" - "International commercial markets for many recyclables are down. Fiber markets are in the tank. A decade of steady growth in recycling rates has tapered off or, in some cases, slipped backward since the mid-1990s." (Seattle Times)

"Potato raid strikes at core of beliefs" - "Nandor Tanczos, of the Greens, refused to condemn the vandalising of genetically modified potatoes in a Crop and Food Research Institute laboratory. This is a matter of profound importance. Note that Greens co-leader Rod Donald approved "civil disobedience" in some cases in respect of GM crops when the Government announced its position on the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification - although on Monday co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons explicitly condemned this particular act." (Colin James, New Zealand Herald)

"Unilever Chief Calls for 'Third Way' on GM Crops" - "The head of the giant Unilever group tonight entered the debate over genetically-modified crops by encouraging more honesty with consumers. Niall Fitzgerald, the company’s chief executive, told a meeting there were “many understandable questions about the effects of GM crops”, but they still offered too many possibilities to ignore. Mr Fitzgerald made his comments in an address to the Sainsbury’s-sponsored City Food Lecture, which took place at London’s Guildhall." (PA News)

"Biotech faces 'march-in' threat" - "When it comes to the government's access to biotechnology to counter the new bioterrorism threat facing the nation, what's good news for Washington may force biotech companies to grapple with unforeseen legal complications." (Boston Globe)

"New Report Challenges Fundamentals of Genetic Engineering; Study Questions Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods" - "NEW YORK, Jan. 15 -- A study released today reveals a critical, long-overlooked flaw in the science behind the multi-billion dollar genetic engineering industry, raising serious questions about the safety of genetically engineered foods." (Barry Commoner, Center for the Biology of Natural Systems)

"Trader Woes" - "Few people know it, but the great outdoors photographer Ansel Adams was also an accomplished pianist. During one private concert, however, he had trouble keeping his left hand in time with his right one. "I went through the entire nocturne with the hands separated by a half step," he recalled. The next day, someone in the audience rated his performance: "You never missed a wrong note!" The enemies of biotechnology seem to have the same problem -- they never miss a wrong note, either. At least Adams was afflicted for only a single evening. Biotechnology's foes seem to suffer from a chronic condition." (Dean Kleckner, Tech Central Station)

January 15, 2002

?!! "Anthrax mail far more deadly than first expected" - "CALGARY -- Scientists at Canada's top military research station are astonished at experiments that show just how deadly anthrax can be when delivered through the mail. After conducting six studies with a harmless bacterial powder, microbiologists concluded that a person would die within seconds of opening an envelope containing anthrax. And others in the same room would also likely be killed within minutes after breathing in deadly bacteria." (CP)

But that isn't what happened in the real world though - and, like all infections, anthrax takes one heck of a lot longer than 'seconds' to infect people and produce sufficient toxins to kill anyone. 'Drop-dead,' micro-dose, knockdown toxins are rare and anthrax doesn't produce one. The prognosis for people exposed to anthrax and who commence treatment within hours or (most commonly) days is actually very good - although delays of weeks, until symptoms of infection are quite pronounced, prior to commencement of treatment will likely not have a successful outcome.

Opening your telephone account when you have a teenage daughter may cause cardiac arrest but there is no infectious agent that will cause you to drop dead within seconds as a result of opening the mail.

"Centers for Development Control" - "In a development watched closely by those of us who live beyond the city limits, doctors and researchers from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a report insisting suburban living is hazardous to your health. This comes as something of a surprise because the CDC not long ago issued a report saying suburbanites are the healthiest people in the nation. As a suburb dweller, I have a great deal at stake here; so I went looking for clues as to where the Truth may actually lie. Perhaps to no surprise, it quickly became clear that one of the study's critics may be correct: This report doesn't even qualify as junk science. It's merely junk." (Dave Shiflett, Tech Central Station)

"Flying Fur" - "Three federal agencies - the Interior and Agriculture Departments and the General Accounting Office - are pooling their resources to investigate an environmental-research embarrassment that could have wide repercussions. Five federal and two Washington state biologists, since disciplined, attached lynx fur to rubbing posts in parts of two national forests in Washington. The tendered defense is that they were trying to assess the accuracy of laboratory tests. The suspicion is that they might have been trying to influence the results of a three-year survey." (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

"Fighting the 'miracle drug' that turned deadly" - "Gilbert, West Virginia, a tiny mining town lodged along the Tug Fork river in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, has, in the last five years, suffered a blight on its population: Nearly four out of 10 young adults has become addicted to OxyContin, one of the strongest painkilling drugs on the market." (Court TV)

"Health warning on unwashed fruit to be dropped" - "An official health warning to peel or wash fruit and vegetables is set to be withdrawn because it clashes with plans to give free fruit to schoolchildren. The advice to wash or peel produce was originally issued in 1997 by the then Chief Medical Officer, Kenneth Calman, as a "sensible precaution" because of fears that pesticide residues in some fruit and root vegetables could pose health risks, particularly for small children. The Ministry of Agriculture admitted that in rare cases, eating two apples with high levels of pesticides in them could have adverse effects." (The Independent)

"Hazardous wastes experts seek to strengthen Basel Convention" - "GENEVA — Legal and technical experts are meeting here this week to develop policies and technical guidelines for the Basel Convention on the Control of the Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. From 14 to 15 January, the Convention’s Technical Working Group will continue its work on the technical guidelines for the environmentally sound management of waste lead-acid batteries, metal and metal compounds, plastic wastes, persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and the dismantling of ships." (United Nations Environment Programme)

Inevitable associated stunt: "Greenpeacers Nabbed Protesting Turkish Shipbreaking" - "IZMIR, Turkey, January 14, 2002 - Turkish police arrested 17 Greenpeace activists this morning after they occupied a Swiss ship at a shipbreaking yard in Aliaga, Turkey." (ENS)

"Eco campaigners go corporate as global firms set out to prove they really are green-aware" - "Clad in woolly jumpers and boiler suits, there was a time when certain eco-generals could cause corporate Britain to have a cold sweat at the mere mention of clean air or GM crops. Now, rather than blockading nuclear power plants or ripping up planted fields, they are more likely to be found in an air-conditioned office wearing a smart suit and wielding nothing more intimidating than a flip chart. They are the environmentalists who have decided to work for the blue chip giants they once sought to humble. Armed with large salaries and boardroom access, they want to seek change from within – and they are growing in number. In the past seven years, at least six directors of environmental groups have joined their one-time opponents in big business." (The Independent)

"Wildlife protection fails to produce profits" - "An Adelaide man's bid to protect Australia's wildlife is in jeopardy, with his conservation company, Earth Sanctuaries up for sale. The company's managing director, Dr John Wamsley, says Earth Sanctuaries is rich in assets but income poor and has not received the support needed. Ten sanctuaries around the nation are up for sale after Earth Sanctuaries listed on the Australian Stock Exchange nearly two years ago." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Underground Fires Menace Land and Climate" - "Fires are burning in thousands of underground coal seams from Pennsylvania to Mongolia, releasing toxic gases, adding millions of tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and baking the earth until vegetation shrivels and the land sinks. Scientists and government agencies are starting to use heat-sensing satellites to map the fires and try new ways to extinguish them. But in many instances — particularly in Asia — they are so widespread and stubborn that miners simply work around the flames.

There is geological evidence that grassland and forest fires, lightning and spontaneous combustion of coal have spawned such fires for hundreds of thousands of years. In Wyoming and northern China, broad layers of earth are composed of "clinker," the brittle baked rock left behind when subterranean coal burns. But the frequency of coal fires appears to have risen, experts say, as mining has exposed more and more deposits around the world to fires, both natural and set by people, and the oxygen that feeds them. Increasingly, scientists are saying the problem needs to be more carefully assessed, both as a potential contributor to global warming and source of toxic air pollution." (New York Times)

"AN ALTERNATE SCENARIO FOR CLIMATE CHANGE" - "Until recently, experts believed that reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide might be the best way to confront continued climate change. Yet in a world that, for the time being, still is tied fundamentally to power from fossil fuels, significant additional carbon dioxide reductions present daunting practical challenges. But a new report from The Goddard Institute for Space Studies highlights data indicating that greenhouse gas emissions have dropped due to concerted efforts by governments around the world. According to this new study, an "alternate scenario" to understanding climate change might provide guidance for successfully curtailing climate altering factors without requiring unreasonable demands of both industrialized and developing countries." (NASA News)

"Study: Growth of 'greenhouse emissions' slowing" - "NEW YORK -- The growth of so-called "greenhouse gas emissions' in the atmosphere continues, but a new report funded by NASA says the growth rate peaked in 1980, and has slowed ever since." (CNN)

"Round table promotes emissions-trading system" - "HALIFAX -- Canada could save $20 billion over the next decade if it adopts an innovative program that uses financial incentives to encourage companies to cut greenhouse gas emissions, according to a federal report. The study, done for the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, looked at an emissions-trading system as a means of getting some of the country's biggest polluters to reduce greenhouse gas levels." (CP)

Breathless blurt du jour: "New El Nino to bring weather chaos" - "A new El Nino, the periodic warming of the surface of the Pacific ocean that can trigger severe worldwide weather and environmental disasters, has been observed building up by a US government agency." (John Vidal and Paul Brown, The Guardian)

"Antarctica bucks global warming" - "'A bit of a conundrum': Study says continent is world's only one to grow cooler." (Margaret Munro, National Post)

"2001 was hot, and so is the debate; It's official: The new millennium is hot" - "With final December numbers weighing in last week, 2001 ranked as the second-warmest year on record on planet Earth, according to the government's National Climate Data Center." (Philadelphia Inquirer)

"Earth's little ice age" - "A study of glacial ice cores in the Antarctic is showing significant new data in the field of global climate change." (Joseph Frey, National Post)

"Snow, cold hits Saudi Arabia" - "Riyadh -- Snow and heavy rain have fallen in northern Saudi Arabia for the first time in 40 years as biting cold weather continued to grip the desert kingdom whose residents had recently prayed for rain four times. West of Arar city, the snow was 20 centimetres thick in places, as freezing temperatures were recorded in the northern and central areas of the vast kingdom." (AFP)

"EU law causes unwanted fridge mountain; New regulation forbids CFC foam being dumped in landfill sites" - "Britain has a dead fridge crisis. A mountain of them is growing at the rate of 6,500 a day with more than 1m due to be piled up by mid-summer." (The Guardian)

"Researchers Study Manure, Human Illness" - "Do differences in manure management systems control the spread of harmful pathogens that can make people sick? Researchers from Ohio State University and North Carolina State University are trying to find out. They say the effects of nutrition and waste management on microbial pathogens in manure may help to control their spread from the environment to humans. “Because of the concerns with food safety and the use of animal manure on agricultural land, we are basically going to study every food-borne pathogen in manure to see if there is a risk associated with public health,” said Qijing Zhang, an Ohio State animal scientist and one of the project collaborators." (AgWeb.com)

"A Con Worth Twice The Price?" - "Organic food, once touted as the key to improving dietary health… is not living up to its wholesome green credentials," Britain's Channel Four reports. Consumers have a "growing cynicism about how healthy organic food actually is," and many "say the cost -- often twice that of normal produce," just isn't worth it. Writes one commentator: "People are beginning to believe that organic food is a bit of a con, that it is not all that it is cracked up to be."

Of course, as one advertising expert puts it, "eco-friendly is… a huge business." And writing in The Chicago Tribune, Marian Burros warns: "[in] the early days of organic food… anyone could claim a food was organically grown." But today, "self-starting watchdogs… like the Rain Forest Alliance charge for their seal of approval." That, too, drives up consumer prices. (For more on such groups, visit ActivistCash.com.)

But those in the organic biz think the more expensive food is, the better off the world is: As Theresa Marquez, marketing director for Organic Valley, has said: "The question is not, why is organic food so expensive. The question is, why are the foods we are eating now so cheap." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Biotech Results Seen Sturdy on Higher Revenue" - "NEW YORK - U.S. biotechnology companies are likely to report solid revenue growth in the fourth quarter as more of their drugs hit the market and big pharmaceuticals companies pay to help develop and market them, analysts said." (Reuters)

"Biotechnology: Leave Science to the Scientists" - "Private businesses are free to do as they please, of course, even if it means depriving customers of safe food sold at fair prices. But it would be an enormous mistake for any other grocery store to follow in Trader Joe's footsteps by giving in to extremists who apply political pressure and peddle junk science." (Truth About Trade & Technology)

"Science Isn't Golden To CFS" - "Golden rice, genetically improved to offer Vitamin A to the undernourished, is one of the crops that Gro Harlem Brundtland, director of the World Health Organization, says could become a "major lifesaver" to tens of thousands. But for anti-technology fanatics like Andrew Kimbrell of the Center for Food Safety (CFS), "golden rice is a poison."

We've documented the motives of Kimbrell and CFS at ActivistCash.com. Kimbrell has built a career around attacking food. He got his start working under neo-Luddite Jeremy Rifkin, then moved on to run campaigns against various food technologies. His recent efforts have focused on securing mandatory labels for genetically improved foods; he has said, "We are going to force them to label this food. If we have it labeled, then we can organize people not to buy it."

Kimbrell also has played a big part in the mad cow scare campaign, filing lawsuits aimed at the government as part of the elaborate effort to make Americans think that mad cow disease was already present in the United States -- even though the odds against this are one billion to one.

In his scare campaign against the types of food technologies that saved hundreds of thousands of lives during the Green Revolution, Kimbrell endangers a product that is "capable of saving a generation of poor children." Kimbrell trash-talks biotech to promote CFS and himself, despite the fact that the European Union has called genetically improved foods "even safer than conventional plants and foods." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"It's Movie Time!" - "Kansas State University has produced four short movies on Agricultural Biotechnology." (Kansas State University)

"Bio-tech firms may mass-produce cloned chickens" - "SAN FRANCISCO, California -- U.S. poultry growers have a chicken-and-egg dilemma. For decades, people who raise chickens for dinner tables have been honing their "selective breeding" skills and have gotten pretty good at growing the fattest bird possible. But meatier and faster-growing birds lay fewer eggs, and prolific egg-layers tend to be skinny. Chicken producers would love to increase production of meatier chickens by minimizing the influence of the skinny genes. Origen Therapeutics and AviGenics are among biotech companies considering this dilemma as they pursue the perfectly engineered bird. And their solution is sure to rile a number of advocacy groups, because it involves not just genetically modified food but also cloning and embryonic stem cells. The idea is to create identical copies of eggs with desirable traits that can roll off assembly lines by the billions. The hatched chickens would be identically disease-resistant and grow and eat at the same exact rate." (AP)

"13 firms own 80% of GM crop patents" - "BANGALORE: Nearly 80 per cent of genetic modification of crops worldwide is undertaken by four companies. And there is an increase in control over genetically modified products through patents - 13 companies own 80 per cent of the patents in GM crops.

Such statistics raise questions of security of a very small group in the world, holding technology and power born of it in their hands. But Prof Sue Mayer, Director of Greenwatch UK, offered possible solutions: a democratic control of science and technology through public involvement in setting science agenda and establishing ethical boundaries.

Prof Mayer is with a public interest science policy research group looking at implications of new genetic technologies. She spoke on 'Social and ethical issues in biotechnology research,' here on Sunday as part of the on-going Indo-UK Science Festival." (Financial Times - Asia Africa Intelligence Wire)

"GE crops are not needed, says expert" - "AUSTRALIA'S top agricultural educators met in Hobart yesterday where keynote speaker Associate Professor Roger Packam called for more caution over genetic engineering. Professor Packam, of the University of Western Sydney, praised Tasmania's two-year moratorium on open-field GE crop trials." (The Mercury)

"Croatia set to ban GM food production" - "ZAGREB - Croatia is drafting legislation to ban production and limit imports of food containing genetically modified organisms, despite lobbying from the United States, Environment Minister Bozo Kovacevic said yesterday." (Reuters)

January 14, 2002

"Ringling CEO targets animal activists in ad" - "Corporations often respond weakly to attacks by activist groups. Coffee retailer Starbucks caved in to demands from organic foods activists, who then protested against the company anyway. Baby-food maker Gerber ceased using biotech ingredients after receiving a threatening fax from Greenpeace.

Things are different at the circus, though. In the wake of a major courtroom victory against animal rights activists, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is fighting back through advertising." (Steven Milloy, Chicago Sun-Times).

Looming corporate extortion: "National Day of Action Targeting Kraft Planned for February at Supermarkets Nationwide" - "Genetically Engineered Food Alert Coalition along with other environmental and food safety activists are gearing up for a worldwide campaign targeting Kraft Foods to remove genetically engineered ingredients from their products. This Fall, Genetically Engineered Food Alert began contact with Kraft, and on November 8th we held the first Kraft campaign national day of action, resulting in over 6,000 emails and phone calls into the Kraft Headquarters. Kraft has not sent a written response, nor have they agreed to meet with us and discuss these concerns. So in February, we will hold events at supermarkets across the country officially launching our campaign calling on Kraft to remove genetically engineered ingredients from their products." [The web site states more information will be posted 'soon'] (GE Food Alert Campaign Center)

Hopefully Kraft will show more spine than have other commercial capitulators.

"Ohio Judge Strikes Down Ban on Concealed Carry" - "A fitness trainer, hairdresser, and pizza shop owner are all breathing easier after a judge in Ohio ruled they have a right to carry concealed weapons to protect themselves, according to Fox News.

In "Fighting Back: Crime, Self-Defense, and the Right to Carry a Handgun," an analysis of a 1987 Florida law that allowed citizens to carry concealed firearms in public, Jeffrey R. Snyder found that there was a decrease in violent crime, not the increase many people had predicted.

The Cato Institute hosted the book forum featuring legal scholar John R. Lott, Jr., author of More Guns, Less Crime. His updated book presents the most comprehensive analysis ever done on crime statistics and the right-to-carry laws. Video of the forum is available on the Cato Web site.

"U.S. Selling Papers Showing How to Make Germ Weapons" - "Months into an expanded war on bioterrorism, the government is still making available to the public hundreds of formerly secret documents that tell how to turn dangerous germs into deadly weapons." (New York Times)

"Over-anxious over anthrax" - "People in the USA may be afraid of anthrax, but they're also afraid of taking the anthrax vaccine. Why?" (Howard Fienberg, sp!ked online)

Here come the data dredges: "Studies Will Take Sept. 11's Measure in Health Effects" - "Public health researchers in New York, struggling to determine the real dimensions of the health threat at the World Trade Center site, are beginning an ambitious series of long-term studies to identify and then track a wide range of people who lived through the nightmare of dust, smoke and stress when the towers fell." (New York Times)

"Scientist treated like a terrorist for his damning report on salt" - "A SCIENTIST who suggested the French food industry was making huge profits - and endangering public health - by over-salting products was classified as a threat to national security on a par with foreign spies and terrorists, a respected French magazine has reported. After making a report on salt to the French government, Pierre Meneton was spied on by the security services, the news magazine Le Point reported in its latest edition. In his report, Mr Meneton said excessive use of salt could be blamed for 75,000 heart attacks each year, a third of which were fatal." (The Scotsman)

Well, that's what he says anyway.

"Judge Rules Fingerprints Cannot Be Called a Match" - "A judge has ruled for the first time that fingerprint evidence, a virtually unassailable prosecutorial tool for 90 years, does not meet the standards set for scientific testimony and that experts in the field cannot testify that a suspect's prints definitely match those found at a crime scene. The decision, by a senior federal judge in Philadelphia, comes after two years of efforts by defense lawyers to hold fingerprint analysis to standards set by the Supreme Court in 1993. The judge, Louis H. Pollak, found that fingerprint analysis had not been subjected to the rigorous testing required under those standards." (New York Times)

"Bush's fuel-cell plan calls green bluff" - "In proposing substantial new subsidies to develop nonpolluting hydrogen-based fuel cells, the Bush administration holds out a vision of the future that environmentalists should love. But it's far from clear that the new program unveiled this past week by Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham at the Detroit's annual auto show will get a green thumbs up." (Thomas Bray, Detroit News)

"Running on fumes; Bay Area bucks clean trend, buys diesel buses" - "One would expect the progressive Bay Area, home to the Sierra Club and the Silicon Valley, to embrace the latest in high-tech, environmentally friendly public transit. But the opposite has happened. As Los Angeles, San Diego and Sacramento began to convert their bus fleets to natural gas or electricity to cut air pollution, Bay Area transit operators led the lobbying to keep a statewide option to buy diesel buses into 2015." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Bought for $17 million, buses now sit unused" - "A $17.4-million fleet of environmentally friendlier buses that run on natural gas is sitting idle at a Coquitlam transit yard because diesel buses that produce more pollution are cheaper to run. TransLink spokesman Ken Hardie told BCTV-Global News on Friday the 50 buses are off the road because they are more than 25 per cent more expensive to operate and are in for service twice as often as the dirtier diesel buses." (Vancouver Sun)

"Italian Death Rate Higher in Industrial Areas" - "GENEVA, Switzerland, January 11, 2002 - Death rates are significantly higher in Italy's most industrialized regions, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday. Revealing the results of epidemiological research commissioned by the Italian Environment Ministry, WHO representatives described the findings as "worrying." Covering the period 1990 to 1994, the World Health Organization study compared death rates in 15 heavily industrialized areas, which account for 20 percent of Italy's population, against those in less industrialized but otherwise similar reference areas." (ENS)

"Stop Me Before I Pollute Again" - "This power baron wants to compromise with environmentalists." (Fortune)

"An Enron Tale of Strange Bedfellows" - "The fall of Enron sounds the death knell for one of the great rackets of the last decade: the "Green Guys" seal of approval, whereby some outfit such as the Natural Resources Defense Council or the Environmental Defense Fund would issue testimonials to the enviro-conscience and selfless devotion to the public weal of corporations such as Enron. This approbation was part and parcel of the neoliberal pitch that fuddy-duddy regulation should yield to modern, "market-oriented" inducements to environmental good behavior, and the NRDC and EDF were the prime salespeople." (Los Angeles Times, December 28, 2001 via ClimateArk.org)

"Nuclear NIMBY" - "Long after Enron is forgotten as the political issue of 2002, future historians will note a decision made last week by US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham" (Christian Science Monitor)

"Nevada Site Urged for Nuclear Dump" - "WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 — After spending 14 years and $4.5 billion on studies, the Energy Department said today that it would recommend that Yucca Mountain, a barren volcanic structure about 90 miles from Las Vegas, be used to bury thousands of tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste from power plants and nuclear weapons factories. The department has been trying for decades to find a place to dispose of the waste piling up at its bomb factories and civilian power plants, and today's decision is only one step in a tortuous process with an outcome that is still uncertain." (New York Times)

"State to Allow Radioactive Debris at Regular Landfills" - "A little more than two years after the state abandoned plans to open a nuclear waste dump at Ward Valley in the Mojave Desert, officials are set to allow shipment of radioactive debris to ordinary landfills never designed to safely store such material. Under a policy finalized in November by the state Department of Health Services, dirt and debris from decommissioned nuclear power plants and other mothballed facilities could be disposed of without the oversight, licensing and monitoring that have long been required of all radioactive waste." (LA Times)

"Eco-heretic beset by hate campaign" - "THE scientist who dared to challenge the establishment view on climate change has been subjected to a campaign of personal abuse, professional vilification and threats to his safety." (Jonathan Leake, Sunday Times)

By labeling Lomborg a 'heretic,' Leake appears to admit eco-doomsterism is indeed an orthodoxy. Odd, too, that zealots are so upset by Lomborg taking a peek under the hood of their endlessly (mindlessly?) reiterated saws - something to hide, perhaps?

"A new ice age?; Climatologists say we're due, despite our global warming" - "Everyone's heard the dire warnings about global warming. El Nino's said to be making a comeback, and the Pineapple Express has lashed B.C. with heavy rains. Think weather watching is scary? Well, here's some really bad news." (The Province)

"Pondering a climate conundrum in Antarctica" - "Antarctica overall has cooled measurably during the last 35 years – despite a global average increase in air temperature of 0.06 degrees Celsius during the 20th century – making it unique among the Earth’s continental landmasses, according to a paper published today in the online version of Nature." (National Science Foundation) | Antarctica grows colder despite global warming (Australian Broadcasting Corp.) | Antarctica Desert Getting Colder (AP) | Antarctic cools in warmer world (Telegraph) | Antarctica gets colder (Sydney Daily Telegraph) | Animals retreat as Antarctic cools (BBC Online) | Antarctic getting colder (The Scotsman) | Antarctic animals hit by cooler summers (New Scientist) | Antarctica defies global warming (The Times)

Surprise, surprise - the only significant landmass on Earth where surface temperature measures are taken, and that is devoid of UHIE, shows a cooling trend (something that has been known for years, as regular readers of this site would be well aware).

Given that Antarctica should display the greatest sensitivity to enhanced greenhouse forcing (super dry, super cold air masses having the greatest potential for GHG-induced warming), final admission that is not actually occurring is likely to elicit some interesting excuses from the greenhouse industry. Should be fun to watch.

"Polar Bird freed from ice" - "The Antarctic supply ship, Polar Bird, has broken free of pack ice in which it was marooned for over a month. The Icebreaker "Aurora Australis" has broken through the ice at Prydz Bay to help move the ship towards clear water. Polar Bird is now within about three nautical miles of clearing the major ice pack." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Melchett forced off Greenpeace board" - "Leading environmentalist Lord Melchett has been forced off the board of campaign group Greenpeace International." (BBC Online) | Fur flies as Greenpeace grandee takes PR shilling (The Observer) | Greenpeace director resigns (The Times)

"FDA panel backs genetically engineered bone graft" - "WASHINGTON, Jan 11 - An expert advisory panel to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday unanimously backed the approval of a genetically engineered bone graft, which would offer patients with degenerative disc disease an alternative to having their own bone harvested. The FDA often--but not always--follows the advice of such advisory panels when it comes to approving a device for use in patients." (Reuters Health)

"Biotech insect test safe, says USDA" - "WASHINGTON: The government has cleared the way for the first field tests of a genetically engineered insect, a moth that contains a jellyfish gene. The Agriculture Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service concluded on Friday that the tests, which are to be conducted at an agency facility in Arizona, would not pose a risk to the environment." (AP)

"Protests seen as threat to GE research" - "Investors will stay away and scientists will do their research overseas if anti-genetic engineering protesters continue to attack research crops, says a pro-GE lobby group. Protesters last week destroyed a crop of genetically modified potatoes at Lincoln, preventing Christchurch scientist Dr Margy Gilpin from presenting the results of her research to a prestigious conference in the United States later this year." (New Zealand Herald)

"When extremism backfires" - "While violence against scientific experiments cannot be classed as terrorism, it offends the same rules of civilised behaviour. New Zealanders moved to protest against developments of any nature have no shortage of avenues of expression. Such is the way of a democratic society. The sabotage of genetically modified potatoes in the Crop & Food Research complex near Christchurch is not the first such act lately." (New Zealand Herald editorial)

"Greens disavow attack on GE potato experiment" - "The destruction of a crop of genetically modified potatoes last week was neither supported nor endorsed by the Green Party, says co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons. Non-violent action was sometimes justified if the law had failed to protect society but the Lincoln crops were grown in a contained environment and therefore the action was neither justified nor appropriate, she said." (New Zealand Herald)

"Tanczos refuses to condemn GM attack" - "Green Party MP Nandor Tanczos has refused to condemn the attack on genetically modified potatoes that were growing in a Christchurch research facility. The attack left hundreds of plants in bits and three years of a young scientist's research programme in tatters." (New Zealand Herald)

"No Bt soybeans planted despite claims-Monsanto" - "WASHINGTON, Jan 11 - Biotech giant Monsanto Co. on Friday said an unapproved genetically engineered soybean variety had never been sold to U.S. farmers despite a survey of growers that indicated some 1,775 acres of the beans were planted last year. ``Bt soybeans are not commercially available and they are not being planted in the United States,'' said Kimberly Magin, Monsanto soybean director for industry affairs, who added that the variety was still in an experimental phase. Earlier this week, a Reuters straw poll found eight farmers who said they intended to plant 1,515 acres of Bt soybeans for the 2002 crop, down from 1,775 acres the previous year." (Reuters)

"Jury still out on food safety; Public sceptical as experts remain unconcerned" - "Tanit Sangpan loves nothing more on weekends than playing with his child and eating snack foods. But he's had to avoid his favourite bites after learning some of them contain GMO products.

Mr Tanit is among the growing number of people who are increasingly worried about food which contains genetically modified organisms. There is a need for better choices for consumers because of uncertainties over the health risks of unnaturally modified raw materials like potatoes and corn, used as ingredients in finished food.

Many people today stay away from GMO food to avoid health risks." (Bangkok Post)

January 11, 2002

"World Trade Center Syndrome" - "Move over Gulf War Syndrome. World Trade Center Syndrome is on its way. Ground Zero’s smoldering debris is filling the air of lower Manhattan with a supposedly "toxic brew" – one ripe for exploitation by the media, anti-chemical activists, hypochondriacs and, likely coming soon, personal injury lawyers." (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Spitzer's Smog" - "Attorney General Eliot Spitzer claims the Bush administration is verging on a "wholesale weakening of the Clean Air Act." In fact, Spitzer is the real threat to New York's air quality." (Steve Milloy, New York Post)

"THE EPA'S TERRORISM HANDBOOKS" - "CHEMICAL PLANTS ARE FEARED AS TARGETS." That was the headline of a frightening front-page article in the Sunday, December 16, Washington Post about the potential vulnerability of American chemical storage and production facilities to terrorists. "At least 123 plants each keep amounts of toxic chemicals that, if released, could form deadly vapor clouds that would put more than one million people in danger, according to an Environmental Protection Agency analysis," the newspaper reported. One example: "The Atofina Chemicals Inc. plant outside Detroit projects that a rupture of one of its 90-ton rail cars of chlorine could endanger three million people."

How did the Post obtain these details about potential mass homicide via toxic or flammable chemicals? Shoe-leather reporting? Sources at the FBI? Actually, no. A Post reporter, Guy Gugliotta, got the information by walking into an EPA "reading room"--one of about 50 scattered across the country and open to the public--flashing a photo ID, and signing a piece of paper. You could do the same thing. And so could any terrorist interested in prospecting for potential targets among the nation's 15,000 chemical facilities." (Michael Fumento, TNR)

"FedEx Shipped a High Radiation Package Without Knowledge" - " - "WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 — FedEx unwittingly carried a package from Paris to New Orleans last week that was emitting so much radiation that the recipient, a company that packages radiation sources for industrial testing, has been unable to get near enough to measure it directly.

The company told FedEx in an initial estimate that the dose at the surface was 10 rem per hour. If that is correct, a person exposed to the radiation would exceed the annual limit for exposure in half an hour, and within a few hours would show effects from radiation poisoning.

The package contained Iridium- 172, which is used for industrial radiography." (New York Times)

Um... no. It was Iridium-192; the package was sending out about 1 roentgen per hour of radiation; preliminary calculations showed those who came in contact with the package would have been exposed to radiation similar to a CAT scan.

See Jay Manifold's comments and calculations on the original piece here.

"Diet could prevent kidney stones, study shows" - "A study by researchers in Italy shows a diet low in salt and meat can dramatically reduce the risk of kidney stones, news that could spell the end for the low-calcium diet that doctors have been recommending for years.

Many doctors have told patients to cut down on calcium because most kidney stones are made of a calcium compound. But recent studies have suggested that such a diet might not prevent kidney stones after all and may even promote them - along with osteoporosis." (AP)

"Aspirin protects patients at high risk of heart attack or stroke" - "Aspirin (or another antiplatelet drug) protects patients at high risk of serious vascular events, such as heart attack or stroke, and should be considered routinely for all such patients, concludes a study in this week's BMJ." (Media release)

"Over 40,000 lives lost worldwide every year" - "The ‘humble’ aspirin, which has been known for at least a decade to prevent heart attacks and strokes in thousands of people at high risk of cardiovascular disease, is still massively underused, according to new research published today (Fri Jan 11) in the British Medical Journal." (Clinical Trial Service Unit)

"CDC warns of bacterial risks of alfalfa sprouts" - "ATLANTA - Federal health officials on Thursday renewed government warnings about raw alfalfa sprouts often served on sandwiches and salads, saying they can be contaminated with salmonella or E. coli bacteria. The sprouts should be thoroughly cooked to kill the bacteria, and some people should stay away altogether, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The Food and Drug Administration warned Americans four years ago not to eat raw alfalfa, clover and other sprouts after hundreds of reports of bacteria-related illnesses." (AP)

"Greens on gravy train attack science when it hurts their cause" - "Scientific American has sicced the big dogs on Danish statistician Bjørn Lomborg for having the audacity to publish a highly referenced book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, which argues global warming and many other environmental "threats" are overblown. What gives?" (Patrick J. Michaels, National Post)

On Worrywarts Inc.'s latest hand wringing: "Greens want war on poverty 'apartheid'" - "A US research group wants a war on poverty and pollution to match the war on terrorism. The group, the Worldwatch Institute, says the division between rich and poor amounts to global apartheid. Worldwatch says the failure of the 1992 Earth Summit may have made possible last September's terrorist attacks. But it believes a United Nations conference later this year offers a new opportunity." (BBC Online) | Report: Poverty, Disease Worsening  (AP) | Green Group Gives Earth Failing Report Card (National Geographic News)

"'Resource wars' ignite around the world" - "A favourite prediction of environmentalism has bitten the dust - too many natural resources, rather than too few, are the cause of an increasing numbers of wars in the 21st century." (New Scientist)

"Sinners in the Hands Of an Angry Gaia" - "Delusional. That's the only word that fits. Christopher Flavin, president of the Worldwatch Institute, one of Washington's most influential environmental activist groups, has gone completely off the deep end. While holding odd and often discredited beliefs is not unusual for the leaders of many national environmental groups like Worldwatch, in this case we are talking a whole new level of insanity. Think Walter Mitty and Don Quixote. Flavin's latest take on the world around him appears in his introductory essay to the new "State of the World 2002," Worldwatch's flagship publication of ecological prophecy released today (Thursday)." (David Mastio, Tech Central Station)

"Flu is not to blame for excess winter deaths" - "Cold weather rather than influenza is to blame for excess deaths and demands on health services in winter, according to a study in this week's BMJ." (Media release)

"NOAA scientist watches for new El Niño" - "CAMP SPRINGS, Maryland -- A United States government researcher predicted Thursday that El Niño conditions may return to the Pacific Ocean this year." (CNN) IS El NIÑO COMING BACK? (NOAA News)

Could be, Dr Theodor Landscheidt predicted in 1998 that the next El Niño will peak late in 2002. See Solar Activity Controls El Niño and La Niña, Still Waiting For Greenhouse.

"There's more to ice ages than main theory explains" - "MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL--The widely accepted theory that changes in Earth's orbit drive cycles of glaciation can't account for an early thawing of glaciers from the next-to-last ice age, according to research at the University of Minnesota. The failure of the Milankovitch theory, also called orbital forcing, to predict this thawing points to the existence of other factors that can override orbital forcing to influence climate, the researchers said. The work will be published in the Jan. 11 issue of Science." (University of Minnesota)

Book promo from (anti-)Australia Institute director, Clive Hamilton: "Green conspiracy theory" - "ONE OF THE more disturbing recent trends in the environment debate has been the emergence of anti-greenhouse fundamentalists, best represented in Australia by the Lavoisier Group. The group was formed two years ago ostensibly to bring rationality to a debate dominated by ''green extremism'', into which category even Environment Minister Senator Hill was seen to fit." (Clive Hamilton, Canberra Times)

CSM goes proselytising with: Old Coal Isn't King | US industry can't ignore an energy-conscious world (Christian Science Monitor)

"Ministry eyes `super' ships to help cut CO2 emissions" - "The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport plans to build special freight vessels and cut the transportation load on trucks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1 million tons by 2010, ministry sources said. The ministry in fiscal 2001 started developing the ``Super Eco Ship,'' which will emit 25 percent fewer carbon dioxide emissions than current freighters, the sources said. The new ship is designed to hold 20 percent more cargo than existing ships and is scheduled to make its maiden voyage in 2005." (Asahi Shimbun)

"Energy secretary selects Nevada's Yucca Mountain as nation's nuclear waste dump" - "WASHINGTON - Still facing myriad legal challenges from Nevada, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham on Thursday chose Yucca Mountain as the nation's burial site for thousands of tons of nuclear waste." (AP)

Today's moron feature: "Anti-GM sabotage destroys potatoes" - "Saboteurs have destroyed genetically modified potatoes in the Crop and Food Research complex near Christchurch. The cost of the attack is expected to be more than $100,000, with research set back by months. One of the projects worst hit was looking into better ways of non-GM potato improvement." (New Zealand Herald)

"Canadian organic farmers sue Monsanto on GM crops" - "WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Jan 10 - A group of Canadian organic farmers launched a lawsuit against biotech giants Monsanto Co. and Aventis SA on Thursday seeking compensation for damages caused by genetically modified canola they say is blowing into their fields." (Reuters)

"Melchett's deal with the devil" - "Has Lord Peter Melchett been genetically modified? Implausible it may be, but as Sherlock Holmes's old maxim had it, "When you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." And what other explanation can there possibly be for the decision of Lord Melchett, quondam destroyer of GM crops, to join Burson-Marsteller, a PR company that makes money from, among other things, advising the growers of GM crops? Once you have excluded the possibility that the famously principled and talented Melchett is, in fact, as venal or dimwitted as the next man, what reason, other than some malign tampering with his lordship's essential nature, can there be?" (Catherine Bennett, The Guardian)

Book review: "Naturally Dangerous: Surprising Facts about Food, Health, and the Environment" - "When viewed from the perspective of scientific uncertainty, some of the fears about unknown consequences may seem less irrational. A challenge for those responsible for translating science into regulatory policy is to find an effective way of taking people's concerns into account without straying from the bedrock of scientific evidence. There are no easy answers, but a start may be for scientists both to explain the uncertainties more fully, and to emphasize that evidence is dynamic and evolving rather than a set of ineluctable facts." (Nature)

"NEW RULES TARGET GENETICALLY MODIFIED IMPORTS FOR SAFETY" - "China is putting the research, production and sale of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) under strict scrutiny with the establishment of a safety certification process, a Ministry of Agriculture official said yesterday." (Financial Times)

"Ottawa assailed over biotech monitoring" - "Canada is ill-prepared for environmental and health-related fallout if banned genetically engineered food products enter the country, according to an analysis of federal government documents." (National Post)

"Global GM Crop Area Continues to Grow and Exceeds 50 Million Hectares for First Time in 2001" - "The Annual Global Review of Commercialized Transgenic (GM) Crops, conducted by Dr Clive James, Chairman of the ISAAA Board of Directors, features comprehensive information on transgenic crops grown globally in 2001; the following are the highlights:" (ISAAA Press Release)

"Almost Half of All State Legislatures Passed Ag Biotech Bills in 2001" - "According to new research released by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, almost half of all state legislatures passed bills in 2001 addressing some aspect of agricultural biotechnology. One hundred and thirty pieces of legislation (112 bills and 18 resolutions) were introduced in 36 states, with 22 states passing those bills into law. About thirty percent of the bills focused on protecting genetically modified (GM) crops from willful destruction by radical anti-biotechnology activists, states the report." (AgWeb.com)

January 10, 2002

War on terrorism? "Huntingdon: hounded out of existence" - "THE tortuous decline of Huntingdon Life Sciences has been claimed by animal rights activists as a moral victory and a triumphant end to a five-year protest campaign. Others regard the collapse of what was Britain’s leading scientific research centre as more a saga of corporate cowardice in the face of violence, threats and intimidation." (The Scotsman)

"UPDATE - Animal testing lab Huntingdon loses US backer" - "LONDON - Controversial British drug testing firm Huntingdon Life Sciences Plc lost a key backer on Wednesday when U.S.-based Stephens Group Inc announced it was selling its stock and debt investments in the group." (Reuters)

"Eco-vandals condemned as domestic terrorists" - "Washington -- On Sept. 20, as much of the country was still in shock from the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, self-proclaimed members of the Animal Liberation Front firebombed a primate research lab in New Mexico, causing $1 million in damage.

In October, a federal land management facility in California was torched, causing $85,000 in damage. Members of the Earth Liberation Front claimed responsibility. The same movement is suspected of planting two homemade bombs in November at a forestry research center at Michigan Tech University.

As the Bush administration pursues its war on terrorism at home and abroad, some political leaders, particularly from Western states, want to ensure that extreme environmental and animal rights groups share the focus." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"BSE in sheep: First estimates of human death toll" - "The first attempt to estimate the human health risk from possible BSE infection of the British sheep flock is published today by researchers from Imperial College, London. They show that while the present risk of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) from eating sheep could be greater than that from cattle, the overall historical risk from sheep is much less than that from cattle." (Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine) | Sheep threat fenced out (Nature Science Update) | Researchers Assess Risk of Mad Cow Disease in Sheep (HHMI News) | New BSE warning over lamb (BBC Online) | Scientists refuse to rule out epidemic of vCJD from sheep (Telegraph) | Greater risk from BSE in sheep (The Scotsman) | Thousands of people could die if BSE has jumped to sheep, say experts (Independent) | vCJD deaths will rise if UK sheep have BSE (New Scientist) | Scrapie may 'hide BSE in British sheep' (London Times)

"Flu pandemics come under control" - "Advances in understanding the molecular signatures of bird viruses look likely to consign the unpredictability of influenza epidemics to history, European virologists and microbiologists will hear tomorrow at a joint meeting in London." (BioMedNet News)

"Army buys 'safer' tank ammunition" - "THE Army is to buy a tungsten-tipped armour-piercing round for its tanks amid concern over the side-effects of the depleted uranium equivalent." (Telegraph)

When they say 'safer,' does that mean the 'new' ammunition more efficiently disables/destroys enemy armour? That would seem the only valid criteria in battle.

"Sydney hospital conducts world first mobile phone study" - "A Sydney hospital today started what is believed to be the world's first trial into the long-term effects of prolonged mobile phone use." (Sydney Morning Herald)

Just to remind us what a pop-science rag New Scientist is : "Do electrical appliances increase the risk of miscarriage?" - "THE strong magnetic fields produced by some electric appliances and vehicles increase the risk of miscarriage, claim researchers in California. Their findings also suggest that most previous investigations into the health effects of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) have been measuring the wrong thing. "The studies really represent state-of-the-art research into the causes of pregnancy loss," says epidemiologist David Savitz of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill." (New Scientist)

"Warning over miscarriage research" - "Experts have disputed claims women may almost double their risk of miscarriage through exposure to strong magnetic fields. Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are associated with the transmission, generation and use of electricity." (BBC Online)

"German soldiers' radar-linked cancer spurs lawsuit" - "FRANKFURT, Jan 09 - A lawyer representing more than 700 German military personnel who claim to have developed cancer from working on radar systems says he intends to file class action lawsuits against the German government and the US manufacturers of the systems. Reiner Geulen, a Berlin-based attorney, told Reuters Health that he believes the German government had tried for years to cover up any connection between the soldiers who developed cancer and their exposure to x-rays while installing, repairing and maintaining radar systems in the late 1950s to around 1980." (Reuters Health)

Much ado about nothing: "Ala. Judge Narrows PCB Case's Scope" - "GADSDEN, Ala. - Claims that a chemical plant poisoned an Alabama community with PCBs for decades went to trial Wednesday, with lawyers for residents arguing the company cared more about profits than lives. The plaintiffs contend Monsanto Co. and spin-off Solutia Inc. let hazardous PCBs leak off a plant site in Anniston from 1929 to 1971, harming people's health and reducing property values to nearly nothing. The government banned production of PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, in the late 1970s over health concerns." (AP)

Reminder: Dr Renate Kimbrough, who's initial small study on rodents raised possible concerns over PCBs has since done much more comprehensive studies following a huge cohort of workers chronically exposed to PCBs for an average of 31 years, some with blood serum levels 300-600 times higher than the population norm, and found "there was no association between PCB exposure and deaths from cancer or any other disease, including heart attacks and strokes." Dr Kimbrough further states "The findings in our study should come as no surprise to much of the medical and scientific community because they are consistent with the finds of four other earlier studies conducted by other researchers of workers in the same plants."

Now playing: Brockovich - The Sequel "Californian court to hear chromium lawsuits against PG&E" - "SAN FRANCISCO - The judge in the Pacific Gas & Electric bankruptcy case ruled that 1,250 claims of chromium poisoning against the utility should be heard in a California state court rather than in the bankruptcy court." (Reuters)

Chromium VI is innocent on all counts - acquit immediately!

For more information try Mike Fumento's site - a search on "+chromium +PG&E" (without the quotes) should keep you amused for a while.

"Health Canada recalls ephedra products" - "OTTAWA - Health Canada has requested a recall of products containing ephedra/ephedrine immediately because of concerns it can cause heart attacks, seizures and psychotic episodes." (CBC)

"Mom's diet affects adult child's blood pressure" - "NEW YORK, Jan 09 - Pregnant women who consume a diet rich in protein and low in carbohydrates may be putting their children at risk of high blood pressure decades later, UK researchers report. Their study tracked 626 men and women whose mothers had been advised to eat 1 pound of red meat daily and to avoid foods rich in carbohydrates during pregnancy. This diet was recommended at the time as a way to prevent pre-eclampsia, a potentially serious condition in pregnancy marked by elevated blood pressure. The investigators followed the men and women from birth to age 27 or 30." (Reuters Health)

Unsurprisingly, women placed on this bizarre, unbalanced diet did not gain sufficient weight during pregnancy and had low birth-weight babies - both conditions associated with poor offspring health in the short- and long-term.

"Simple sugars may cut 'good' cholesterol levels" - "NEW YORK, Jan 09 - While following a low-fat diet can have significant health benefits over the long term, it may also result in lower levels of HDL, or "good," cholesterol. Now, a new study has found a possible culprit: simple sugars.

According to the report, individuals who adopt a low-fat diet tend to replace fats with simple sugars in non-fat baked goods and processed foods. Simple sugars can reduce HDL levels, and low HDL levels are known to be a major heart disease risk factor for women.

"The current American food supply offers an abundance of low-fat and fat-free foods that depend on simple carbohydrates or added sugars to improve their flavor," Linda B. Bunyard and colleagues from the University of Maryland at Baltimore write. "Whether the recent trend toward fat-modified foods provides an overall benefit to this population is questionable." (Reuters Health)

"US senator seeks animal antibiotic stockpile" - "WASHINGTON, Jan 8 - The United States should create emergency stockpiles of animal antibiotics across the country in preparation for a possible biological attack on the farm sector, an Iowa Republican senator said on Tuesday. Sen. Chuck Grassley told farm reporters that he wrote to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, asking her department to conduct an immediate assessment of the necessary antibiotics to combat an outbreak of a deadly livestock disease like foot-and-mouth. "In order to better prepare to meet terrorist threats, outbreaks and contagious disease, I think USDA should have a strategic stockpile of vital antibiotics," Grassley said. He compared the proposed stockpile to current public health efforts to amass 300 million doses of smallpox vaccines." (Reuters)

Antibiotics for foot-and-mouth? That's a new one.

Now this is depressing: "Treatment for depression soared over 10-year period, study finds" - "CHICAGO - Researchers say the number of Americans treated for depression soared from 1.7 million to 6.3 million between 1987 and 1997, and the proportion of those receiving antidepressants doubled." (AP)

But, never fear: Money 'can buy you happiness' - "They say "money can't buy you happiness" but researchers have proved the opposite. Winning just £1,000 can be enough to change a person's outlook on life, suggests the study by researchers at the University of Warwick." (BBC Online)

"Income inequality not a health factor, research finds" - "New research refutes claims that overall health in a society is negatively affected by inequality of incomes, according to the British Medical Journal. Not to be confused with the well-established findings that higher income is associated with relatively better health and greater longevity, inequality refers to the share of the income pie gotten by lower and higher income groups." (British Medical Journal editorial)

From the 'I feel so much better now' files: "Earth granted reprieve" - "Astronomers believe the planet may now escape being swallowed up when the Sun dies in about 7.5 billion years' time. The new calculations actually extend the length of time the Earth will be habitable by 200 million years." (BBC Online)

"High Court Gives Lake Tahoe Landowners a Sympathetic Ear" - "WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court justices, hearing arguments Monday in a Lake Tahoe property rights case, appeared sympathetic to the hundreds of families who have been barred from building homes on their lots, but also wary of forcing local governments to pay compensation whenever they delay new development." (LA Times)

"Catfight ensues over case of lynx fur planted in forests" - "US biologists say they put fur of rare lynx in US forests to test laboratory analysis. Others see a hidden agenda." (Christian Science Monitor)

"Scientist bias helping cause mass extinction" - "MELBOURNE — Scientific bias towards the cute, unique or spectacular may be helping condemn a substantial proportion of the world's plants and animals to extinction, suggests an Australian ecologist. Scientists develop and use lists of extinct and threatened species to provide social and legal mandates for conservation, to report on the state of the environment and to guide the allocation of scarce resources. Associate Professor Mark Burgman, a University of Melbourne botanist, criticises the way the lists are developed and our reliance on them to manage the environment. He says they are biased and largely unresponsive to the underlying true threats to species." (University of Melbourne)

"Greenpeace to Halt Protests" - "Greenpeace USA signed a consent decree Tuesday agreeing to halt civil disobedience at all U.S. military installations involved in the "Star Wars" antimissile defense program. The agreement with federal prosecutors in Los Angeles was part of a deal that led to the dismissal of felony charges against 14 Greenpeace activists and two freelance journalists." (LA Times)

"Greenpeace on the Defense: Time for change" - "After years of playing offense, Greenpeace is now finding itself on the defensive. In addition to pulling much of the anti-Bush administration propaganda from its website, the group has failed to explain its rationale for publicizing sensitive information on biological and chemical toxins stored at thousands of U.S. industrial sites — an exercise in fear-mongering that many of the group's critics saw as an engraved invitation to terrorists. And Greenpeace is suddenly getting the silent treatment from some erstwhile allies, who have been alienated by the organization's unwillingness to recognize the potentially adverse consequences of its actions." (Michael D. Mallinger, National Review)

"Attorneys Allege Bush Fails as an Environmental Defender" - "SAN FRANCISCO, California, January 8, 2002 - In the first year of George W. Bush's presidency, environmental protections have taken a back seat to industry concerns, according to attorneys who represent environmental groups in court. "Under this administration the courts have become the forum of choice for rolling back environmental protections," Earthjustice Executive Director Buck Parker said today." (ENS)

As opposed the 'forum of choice' for wacky green misanthropists?

"Environment tussles return after national pall" - "White House admits energy company influence, sparking return to rough-and-tumble over nature and development." (Christian Science Monitor)

"Bush pushes on with environment change" - "President George W. Bush on Wednesday embarked on a series of environmental events, expected to culminate in the announcement of a controversial energy and environment package before his state-of-the-union address on January 29." (Financial Times)

"Bush team backs a vision of fuel-cell cars" - "Energy Secretary Abraham announces a shift to support the technology. But commercial viability is still far off." (Christian Science Monitor)

Perhaps they'll source free hydrogen this way: "Freeing Gases For Cheap Fuel Cells With Orbiting Laser Cannons" - "When Masahiro Mori sees international petroleum supertankers groan into Japan's Chiba, it must strike him, like many other energy visionaries, as an absurd image: a hazardous product being hauled thousands of miles across a potentially superior and cleaner fuel, hydrogen. What makes Dr. Mori unique, however, is what he imagines to be more sensible: hydrogen blasted out of water by giant lasers in low Earth orbit." (Space.com)

"UPDATE - Most fuel cell companies give up gains on US plan" - "VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Shares of several fuel cell developers that had skyrocketed in advance of a new U.S. plan to boost hydrogen-powered cars gave up most their gains on Wednesday once the plan was actually released. The plan unveiled by U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and major automakers was short on specifics, and came with warnings it could take years if not decades for environmentally friendly vehicles to become commercially viable." (Reuters)

"Two Lanes to Efficiency" - "The Bush administration's decision to throw the resources of the federal government behind the development of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles warrants a blinking yellow light. Caution is in order." (Christian Science Monitor)

"Yucca to Get Green Light" - "After two decades of study and years of political infighting, the federal government appears ready, as soon as Thursday, to give the green light to opening the Yucca Mountain nuclear storage facility in Nevada, sources tell Tech Central Station. The decision by Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham will likely outrage environmental groups and key Nevada politicians who have vigorously fought the opening of the facility for years. It won’t be the last word on the issue, by any means. But don’t let the howls of protest that emanate from green circles fool you. The decision to open Yucca Mountain in Nevada is a good one and comes not a moment too soon." (Duane D. Freese, Tech Central Station)

"German brown coal second only to nuclear for power" - "FRANKFURT - Brown coal-fired power plants in Germany last year became the second largest contributor to power generation after nuclear energy, which accounts for a third of the total, the industry association DEBRIV said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

Let's see... Germany is shutting down it's nuclear power stations. Germany postures over enhanced greenhouse and emission reduction. Germany's electricity will come from... ?

"UK 'faces tropical disease threat'" - "Increased foreign travel and rising immigration are bringing a host of dangerous tropical illnesses to the UK, the government's Chief Medical Officer will warn on Thursday. A report by Professor Sir Liam Donaldson picks out dozens of potentially serious infections which have emerged worldwide in the past 30 years." (BBC Online)

"Year 2001 Only Slightly Warmer Than Average: Study" - "The 2001 calendar year was slightly warmer than "average," according to global climate data gathered by instruments aboard NOAA satellites. The composite global temperature for 2001 was 0.06 degrees C (about 0.11 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the 20-year (1979-to-1998) average, said Dr. John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). Compared to other years, 2001 was the ninth warmest (and the 15th coolest) since satellite instruments started gathering global climate data from the bottom eight kilometers of the atmosphere in January 1979." (UniSci)

"Global Warming: A Matter of Life and Death" - "Summary: Climate alarmists are quick to point the finger of blame at global warming for deaths caused by heat waves, claiming these aberrant weather events will become more prevalent if temperatures continue to rise. What they typically fail to mention, however, is that even more lives would be spared under such conditions, as a result of the fewer cold spells that would result from a warming of the globe." (co2science.org)

"Astute Farm Management Practices Can Significantly Enhance Soil Carbon Sequestration" - "Summary: Working hand-in-hand, farmers and scientists can make a major contribution to the effort to slow the rate-of-rise of the air's CO2 content - not that it's needed to forestall global warming, but because it's one of the best things that can be done to promote soil health." (co2science.org)

"Looking for Evidence of Global Warming in Asia-Pacific River Runoff Data" - "Summary: It's the bottom of the ninth, and the climate alarmists, trailing by three, are up to bat. Will the authors' study provide them a grand slam, revealing an intensified hydrologic cycle with more total runoff, more floods and more droughts? Or will it be three up, three down ... and another loss? Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets! Water International 26: 411-424." (co2science.org)

"Late Holocene Climate in South Africa" - "Summary: As in other studies we have highlighted, truth shines forth from the depths of a dark cave, illuminating the folly of climate alarmists who claim the Little Ice Age was but a minor climatic phenomenon of little global significance, out of which we have been delivered as a consequence of CO2-induced global warming, which for some strange reason they greatly disparage. Geophysical Research Letters 28: 4507-4510." (co2science.org)

World Climate Report Volume 7, Number 9, January 14, 2002

"Kosciuszko may hold green key" - "Australia's highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko, could hold the key to questions about global warming. Scientists will walk at the weekend from Thredbo Valley to the summit of Kosciuszko to examine organisms in the alpine region and assess the impact of rising temperatures." (AAP)

"Antarctic Expeditioners Run into Heavy Ice Year" - "CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand, January 9, 2002 - Unusually thick sea ice is snarling Antarctic shipping programs, but double the ice-breaking power, and a lucky break, mean the vital sea channel into McMurdo is now open.

Around the continent, similar conditions have forced radical change on at least two other national programs. The British ship Ernest Shackleton was forced back by Weddell Sea ice, and in Prydz Bay, expeditioners have been airlifted from the beset Australian resupply ship Polar Bird." (ENS)

"Seeds of Discord: The battle over golden rice" - "Golden rice is the world's first example of food genetically engineered to convey a benefit directly to the consumer.

Known as "golden rice" for its buttery hue, this revolutionary strain has been genetically engineered to contain vitamin A. If successfully bred with common kinds of rice already grown around the world, the new hybrid could save millions of children from hunger and blindness.

Development of the golden grain is now threatened by detractors who fear it may harm the natural environment and destroy agricultural practices that have sustained the world for centuries." (Star-Ledger) [Links to series index]

"Reuters survey: US bio-corn plantings to soar in 2002" - "RENO, Jan 9 - American farmers will shrug off European and Asian concerns about genetically modified food and boost U.S. biotech corn plantings by more than 13 percent this year, with a smaller increase planned for soybeans, according to a Reuters survey of more than 300 growers. The straw poll, conducted at the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual meeting, found no slowdown in American agriculture's embrace of gene-spliced corn and soybeans despite concerns abroad about unknown risks to health and environment." (Reuters)

"Genetically modified crops can ensure food security" - "Bangladesh can step up its efforts in achieving food security and maintaining ecological balance by adopting Genetically Modified (GM) crop varieties in agriculture sector, an eminent biologist told a meeting here yesterday.

Dr Rafiqul Islam Khan, a Bangladeshi cell and molecular biologist and a staff scientist of an US biotechnology organisation, said 16 countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, China and South Africa so far adopted genetically modified crops to increase food productions.

He was making a presentation on 'crop genetic engineering and food security' at a meeting organised by Syngenta Bangladesh at its conference room." (The Daily Star)

"Saudi Biotech Regs Not Enforced" - "Saudi Arabia will be operating under new regulations regarding importation of commodities resulting from biotechnology as 2002 gets underway. However, industry sources say the regulations – which require import certification and labeling for products derived from biotechnology - are not being enforced… yet." (AgWeb.com)

January 9, 2002

"Regulators to White House: Relax Clean Air Rules" - "Top federal regulators have recommended informally that the White House relax one of the nation's most contentious air pollution regulations, a provision that requires power plants to upgrade pollution control equipment when they upgrade their operations, according to The New York Times.

Such a move has long been pushed by energy and industry groups who say that current rules impose billions of dollars in extra costs that unfairly block utilities from modernizing to make plants more energy efficient.

Environmental groups have been equally vehement in their support of the current regulations, saying that any relaxation would amount to the biggest rollback of the Clean Air Act since its passage 30 years ago.

In "The EPA's Clean Air-ogance," Steven J. Milloy and Michael Gough, commenting on air standards, show how "a close inspection of the EPA proposal shows that it lacks a sound basis in science." In "Time to Reopen the Clean Air Act: Clearing Away the Regulatory Smog," K.H. Jones and Jonathan Adler make the case for revisiting the Clean Air Act to reduce EPA regulations such as "mandatory carpooling and enhanced inspection and maintenance programs to technology standards for factory emissions and new emissions controls on lawn mowers, snow blowers, chain saws, and the like." (Cato Institute)

"Senate to Examine Plans to Weaken Pollution Rules" - "WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 — Two Senate committees announced today that they would hold hearings into the Bush Administration's plans to rewrite the regulations that require power plants to upgrade their pollution-control equipment when they upgrade their operations. Concern has spread from the environmental community to Capitol Hill over reports that the administration is considering weakening these regulations, which it can do without permission from Congress." (New York Times)

"13 environmental rules up for review" - "WASHINGTON -- An obscure but powerful White House office that reviews federal rules has singled out 13 guidelines on environmental protection for change or abolishment. The 13 rules designated as ''high priority'' for reform or elimination cover topics from building roads in national forests to mining on public lands. They are among 23 listed by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. The others include workplace and food-labeling regulations." (USA TODAY)

Slow news day at The Post? "In N.Y., Taking a Breath of Fear: Illnesses Bring New Doubts About Toxic Exposure Near Ground Zero" - "Nearly four months after the World Trade Center attacks, the fires there are largely extinguished. But fears of the toxic brew left behind in lower Manhattan's air remain -- as do concerns that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other government agencies did not warn residents sufficiently or soon enough of the dangers." (Washington Post)

EWG/PIRG at it again: "Dirty tap water risk for pregnant women" - "WASHINGTON -- Millions of Americans have been drinking tap water contaminated with chemical byproducts from chlorine that are far more than what studies suggest may be safe for pregnant women, two environmental groups say in a new study." (AP)

"Perchlorate in Drinking Water: Scientific Collaboration in Defining Safety" - "Executive Summary: Since the mid-1990s, there has been an increasing amount of research effort aimed at evaluating the potential human health risk of perchlorate (ClO4) because of its presence at trace levels in some water systems. Concern over potential effects on the thyroid gland in humans from perchlorate exposure and whether environmental levels pose a risk to human health have surfaced recently. In response to this concern, a broad collaborative effort spanning both private and government sectors has been engaged in extensive toxicological testing of perchlorate to add to our knowledge about how and under what exposure conditions perchlorate may cause effects in laboratory animals and in humans. The collaboration between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Defense (Air Force) and an inter-industry Perchlorate Study Group (PSG) is unique in its focus on development of state-of-the art science for accurately determining what constitutes a safe level for humans." (ACSH)

"NAFTA's official bioscare agency" - "One of the annoying creations of the NAFTA trade pact is the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), a $9-million operation based on Montreal. Funded by the three North American governments, the CEC serves no known purpose except to periodically produce globules of green propaganda in which the worst of conventional environmental misinformation gets trotted out as official dogma. Yesterday, the CEC issued The North American Mosaic: A State of the Environment Report, possibly the worst CEC production in its five years of existence." (Terence Corcoran, National Post)

"The great biofraud" - "It's a trick that Yogi Bear would have been proud of — a scientist attempted to fake evidence of the presence of a threatened bear. It follows hot on the heels of revelations that government scientists planted hairs from a Canadian lynx in Washington state national parks as evidence of the presence of an endangered species. What on earth is going on? Had these cases of fraud not been exposed, they would have given rabid environmentalists a free lunch of closed parks and restricted recreational activities. Heaven knows what else these people have been up to." (Washington Times editorial)

"Mental illness link to horse disease" - "A virus that causes a fatal brain disease in horses and sheep could be linked to mental disorders in humans, a scientist is set to tell a UK conference on Wednesday." (BBC Online)

Oh, so that's what's wrong with 'horse whispering' greenies...

"FCC rejects attempts to block antenna structures" - "WASHINGTON - U.S. communications regulators on Monday said they have rejected attempts by two environmental groups to bar the construction of 29 antenna structures they contend would harm wildlife." (Reuters)

"The Fungus That Ate Sacramento: How mold grew from little black specks into a fee-producing tort" - "Alexander Robertson built a tidy law practice in California suing contractors and insurance companies for construction defects. But he really hit the jackpot in 1995. Clients complained that some slimy black stuff in their house, commonly called mold, was making them sick. Now Robertson is raking in millions in fees from mold litigation: He sues contractors and insurers, claiming that mold in his clients' houses or apartments is causing everything from headaches and dizziness to neurological damage. His firm has pending about 1,000 of the estimated 10,000 mold suits piling up.

Line up, tort lawyers. This could be the next asbestos. Yes, there's a bit of difference: Asbestos fibers are known to cause disease and death. Whether household mold can do so is, to put it charitably, a matter of debate. But that hasn't slowed the litigation over mold. Explains Robertson, "Juries look at anecdotal evidence. They don't require 100% proof." (Mary Ellen Egan, Forbes Magazine)

"Infant immune system is stronger than many parents think" - "From the moment of birth, infants are capable of responding to numerous challenges to the immune system, including multiple vaccines, according to a new report published in the January issue of Pediatrics. The report, authored by Paul A. Offit, M.D., chief of Infectious Diseases and director of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and colleagues, reviews current research on the effects of vaccines on the immune system and the capacity of the infant immune system to respond safely to multiple simultaneous immunizations." (Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia)

"Anthrax mail cleaning zaps digital data - trade group" - "LAS VEGAS - Digital dream gadgets are being irreparably zapped by an irradiation process the U.S. Postal Service has used since October to sanitize mail against anthrax threats, an electronics trade group said on Tuesday." (Reuters)

"In workplace, tougher standard on job-related injuries" - "WASHINGTON - The US Supreme Court has made it harder for workers with job-related physical impairments to claim protection under the Americans With Disabilities Act. In a unanimous decision Tuesday, the high court ruled that the determination of who is disabled - and thus covered by the ADA's protections - requires proof that the worker is unable to perform a wide range of manual tasks central to daily life, such as brushing one's teeth. The determination is not strictly related to the performance of tasks at work, the court says." (Christian Science Monitor)

"Nader Blows Hot Air" - "Energy is an essential economic and national security asset, a fact placed in stark relief after the cruel terrorist war on America began Sept 11, 2001. But as important as energy policy is to the future of America’s economy and safety, policy discussions through the 1990s were thrall to optimistic but unworkable ideas on energy resources. While these ideas may have been good politics, they are based on bad science and obscure important national security concerns." (Dr. Sallie Baliunas, Tech Central Station)

"US nuclear plants added 1,091 MW capacity in 2001" - "WASHINGTON - U.S. nuclear plants in seven states were granted permission last year to expand generating capacity for a combined nationwide capacity increase of 1,091 megawatts, the Nuclear Energy Institute said on Monday." (Reuters)

"Sellafield plans 'are no risk'" - "The Welsh Assembly has been told the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant poses no risk to the health of people living along the north Wales course. Labour's Preseli Pembrokeshire member Richard Edwards said he echoed the concern of the Irish government, which failed in a bid to get a controversial new plant halted. But Health Minister Jane Hutt told members the Cumbria facility did not result in a higher incidence of childhood leukaemia in north Wales." (BBC Online)

"Ancient supernova may have triggered eco-catastrophe" - "An exploding star may have destroyed part of Earth’s protective ozone layer 2 million years ago, devastating some forms of ancient marine life, according to a new theory presented at this week’s meeting of the American Astronomical Society." (Johns Hopkins University)

"CFC gas smuggling in poor nations poses threat to ozone layer" - "NEW DELHI, India — Tons of gases that eat away at the Earth's ozone layer are smuggled into India and other developing nations each year in an illegal trade that threatens a landmark treaty to phase out the harmful chemicals by the end of the decade, environmentalists say. The gases, mainly chlorofluorocarbons, (CFCs) are used in air conditioning and refrigerators. Environmentalists say their continued use, particularly in populous developing countries, could undo efforts to replenish the ozone layer under the 1987 Montreal Protocol." (AP)

"Replenish" the ozone layer? Sigh...

"Special interests undermine objectivity of scientific research" - "Objective scientific research, often used as the basis for policy decisions, is increasingly under attack by vested interests attempting to control the outcome or impact of research, reports the January issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

The peer-reviewed article, “Attacks on Science: The Risks to Evidence-Based Research,” illustrates the real threats to objective scientific pursuits and the impact on society through a variety of case studies. The paper describes how special-interest groups have influenced policies related to needle exchange programs for the prevention of HIV, ergonomics and mammograms for breast cancer screening.

“This trend of meddling with science to achieve predetermined outcomes has serious implications for researchers at academic institutions and government agencies as well as for the public at large,” said Dr. Linda Rosenstock, principal author and dean of the UCLA School of Public Health. “We would like to think that the science used to make decisions that affect all of our lives is pure — unfortunately, that is increasingly not the case.” (University of California - Los Angeles)

Funny how this makes the IPCC, alleged anthropogenic warming and Kyoto spring to mind - then there's Montreal, a virtually limitless list of chemical/health scares ...

A few reruns here because TCS promptly changed their web site and invalidated the links I posted the other day:

"Assisted Economic Suicide" - "A White House proposal under final consideration, for possible imminent release, would create a national inventory of certain naturally occurring gases -- such as carbon dioxide (CO2) -- when they are emitted by the combustion of fossil fuels to produce energy." (Christopher C. Horner, Tech Central Station)

"Kyoto Dragon Slain" - The Kyoto Protocol’s chickens are coming home to roost all over the globe – and it’s not a pretty sight. As government ministers begin to get a better understanding of the true economic impact of the carbon dioxide emission restrictions called for in the Protocol, political fissures are emerging that threaten to sink the treaty faster than carbon dioxide in a lush New Zealand forest." (Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas, Tech Central Station)

"The Biggest Loser of 2001" - "Joining Taliban John Walker, Enron, and baseball contraction on the list of the "biggest losers" of 2001 is a less obvious suspect: the international treaty." (Nick Schulz, Tech Central Station)

"Study Challenges Idea of Seeding Oceans With Iron to Curb Global Warming" - "Two researchers may have put the final stake in the heart of the so-called Geritol solution to global warming, a proposal that has intrigued the scientific community for more than a decade. The idea, which got its name from a tonic touted to treat the effects of iron-poor blood, asserts that seeding the oceans with iron will dramatically increase levels of phytoplankton and therefore draw more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere." (National Geographic News)

What is not clear is why anyone would want to reduce beneficial CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

"Green Alert: January, 7, 2002 Vol. 1, No. 15" - "Much is said about the tremendous rate of carbon sequestration going on across North America (Fan et al., 1998; Pacala et al., 2001), and in Europe (Zhou et al., 2001; Myneni et al., 2001), Asia (Fang et al., 2001 ), and Central and South America (Phillips et al., 1998; Laurance, 1999). What about Africa? At first blush, prospects for capturing and storing carbon in Africa don’t look promising. In a recent analysis of the continent’s carbon storage potential, Cao et al. (2001) remind us of the significant warming trend Africa has experienced over the past century or so. The researchers note how warmer years in Africa often result in decreased precipitation. Drought and warming typically lead to land degradation and desertification. Such changes – individually and in concert – have large and adverse impacts on carbon sequestration by vegetation and soils." (Greening Earth Society)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT: January 7, 2002 Vol. 3, No. 1" - "During the year-end holidays, AFP (the French version of Associated Press) widely circulated a news story that claims cold outbreaks like those gripping Europe and eastern North America are to be expected because of global warming, thereby demonstrating anew how far greenhouse effect hype is removed from greenhouse effect science. Warming does not cause cooling, unless the First Law of Thermodynamics has been repealed." (Greening Earth Society)

"Great Barrier Reef monitored for hot spots" - "The Great Barrier Reef Marine Authority is monitoring air and sea temperatures as the probability of another coral bleaching incident increases. The authority is working with a US body and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, which have detected unusually warm water conditions on the reef. Chairwoman Virginia Chadwick says if the hot conditions and sea temperatures continue sectors of the reef could suffer the worst bleaching incident since 1998." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Govt urged to ratify Kyoto Protocol to prevent reef bleaching" - "The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is calling for the Federal Government to ratify the Kyoto Protocol to add further protection to the Great Barrier Reef in light of further threat of coral bleaching." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Seeds of discord -- The battle over golden rice" - "WASHINGTON, D.C. -- To Andrew Kimbrell, golden rice is a poison and a prison sentence rolled into one.

For Linda Thrane, the yellow grain is more like manna from heaven, capable of saving a generation of poor children -- and the biotechnology industry that employs her.

Kimbrell is a politically active attorney who heads the International Center for Technology Assessment, a nonprofit advocacy organization seeking to limit the growth of destructive technologies. He sees today's genetic revolution in crops -- symbolized by golden rice, the experimental grain that promises extra vitamin A -- as another step toward a troubling future in which corporations control all aspects of life.

Those who own the rights to the world's genetic resources will wield decisive power over the world economy in the coming decades, he fears. As he sees it, this drive to engineer life forms represents an extraordinary threat to the Earth's fragile ecosystems." (The Star-Ledger)

"US, EU officials target March meet for GMO progress" - "WASHINGTON, Jan 8 - U.S. and EU officials on Tuesday said they hope a March meeting of European Union leaders will succeed in expediting Europe's approval of genetically-modified products hanging in limbo since 1998 amid objections, notably from France." (Reuters)

"SA Adds Soya to List of Modified Crops" - "SA IS making giant strides this year in with pushing up its commercial plantings of genetically modified crops. In addition to farmers planting the first modified white maize crop this year, modified soya bean, used mostly for the manufacture of animal and poultry feed, was planted on 750ha of land in Mpumalanga this month." (Business Day (Johannesburg))

"The Test Tube Forest" - "Scientists are rapidly developing technology for genetically engineering fast-growing supertrees. The economic advantages for timber companies seem clear. The environmental repercussions are less certain." (Business 2.0)

January 8, 2002

"'Myth' of Chernobyl suffering exposed: Relocation and hand-outs have caused more illness than radiation, a new UN study concludes" - "It is seen as the worst man-made disaster in history, killing tens of thousands, making tens of millions ill, and afflicting generations to come. Exhibitions of photographs of the deformed victims have toured the world, raising funds and awareness.

Now a report from the United Nations on the consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 15 years after the event comes to a very different conclusion. It says the medical effects of radiation are far less than was thought. The biggest damage to health has instead come from hypochondria and well-meaning but misguided attempts to help people." (The Observer)

I admit I'm stunned to find a report like this in The Observer but, credit where credit's due, congratulations must go to Anthony Browne and The Observer for reporting and publishing the more mundane facts of the matter - hysterical fear of radiation was truly the far-greater hazard.

"Infection cited as a direct link to artery thickening" - "DALLAS, - A person’s risk of dying from heart disease may be predicted by the number of infectious agents present in the blood, according to a report in today’s Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

“We showed a significant association between the number of infections to which a patient has been exposed and the extent of atherosclerosis in the arteries in the heart, neck and legs,” says lead author Hans J. Rupprecht, M.D. and Christine Espinola-Klein, M.D., a medical fellow in cardiology in the department of medicine II at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. “The risk for death was increased by the number of infectious agents, especially in people with advanced artery disease.”

However, in an accompanying editorial, Paul Ridker, M.D., Director of the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and associate professor at Harvard Medical School in Boston, cautions that “investigators must be careful not to confuse association with causation” because there could be alternate explanations for the results." (American Heart Association) [emphasis added]

"Study links antibiotics to bug resistance" - "A Canberra study which has, for the first time, managed to measure the level of antibiotic-resistant bugs in small children, has confirmed the relationship between the bugs and antibiotic consumption. The team, from the Australian National University and Canberra Hospital, is now calling for urgent reforms in prescribing policies. ANU Emeritus Professor Bob Douglas said the likelihood of children carrying a resistant bug was related to the amount of antibiotics they had taken in the six months before a nasal swab. Each day of antibiotic use increased the odds of a resistant bug by 4 per cent." (Canberra Times)

"Bugs dress salad" - "Healthy salad greens could be contaminated with bacteria that cause food poisoning, despite thorough rinsing. New research shows that harmful bugs can enter lettuce plants through its roots and end up in the edible leaves. Although uncommon, food poisoning caused by eating plants can occur. Vegetables that are fertilized with animal manure, which can contain pathogens, pose the biggest threat." (Nature Science Update)

Yeah man, but at least they're like, natchural!

Mouths OK. Drains? Never! "More dentists ordered to stop dumping mercury" - "TORONTO - Canada's largest city has joined an environmental campaign to stop dentists from letting bits of mercury fillings go down the drain." (CBC)

"Access to healthy foods limited in poor neighborhoods" - "Wealthier neighborhoods have more than three times as many supermarkets as poor neighborhoods, limiting access for many people to the basic elements of a healthy diet, according to a new study. “The choices people make about what to eat are limited by the food available to them,” says lead author Kimberly Morland, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health." (Center for the Advancement of Health)

Gee, wonder what tipped 'em off.

"Families seek compensation for alleged vaccine harm" - "LONDON, Jan 07 - More than 1,000 British families have joined a legal battle for millions of pounds compensation for harm they claim was caused to their children by measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccines, their solicitors said on Monday. The case--which is scheduled to come to trial in February 2003--follows controversial research findings suggesting that use of the vaccines could be linked to inflammatory bowel disease and autism." (Reuters Health)

"Cannabis 'stunts baby growth'" - "Women who smoke cannabis during pregnancy may be stunting the growth of their babies, research suggests. The effect of one smoking one cannabis joint a week throughout pregnancy appears to be equivalent to the effect produced by smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. (BBC Online)

Today's Henny Penny feature: "Space rock hurtles past Earth" - "An asteroid discovered just a month ago is making a close approach to the Earth. Although there is no danger of collision with it, astronomers say that its proximity reminds us just how many objects there are in space that could strike our planet with devastating consequences." (BBC Online) | Close encounter prompts call for asteroid watch plea for new vigil system (Independent)

Gasp! Shock, horror! Er... hang on. Doesn't this particular rock cross the orbits of Mars, Earth, Venus and Mercury (twice) every 1,321 days (3.6 Earth years)? And hasn't it been doing so for millions of years? Wow! That was a close call alright...

From the excuse industry: "Rising tide of depressive illness exacting human, economic toll" - "An estimated one million Canadians suffer from some form of depressive illness. The condition is devastating to individuals and their families, and to the social and economic underpinnings of society. According to Health Canada, mental illness -- of which depression is by far the leading problem -- costs the economy at least $13.4-billion annually. While mental-health professionals and consumer advocates have long underscored these numbers, corporate Canada, and to a lesser extent governments, are now paying attention, too." (Globe and Mail)

Comment unprintable (it's OK though - I'm depressed [that's my excuse & I'm stickin' to it!]).

"Cowabunga, what a find!" - "Mankind is at a crossroads of scientific endeavour. Geneticists have unlocked the human genome. Astronomers have gazed at planets in distant solar systems. Doctors have screened embryos to find future tissue donors. And biologists have discovered what happens when you show pictures of foxes to ducklings." (Telegraph)

"Coming Clean on Dishwasher Rules" - "These days, the U.S. government is both grappling with a host of critical issues affecting people's safety and security — and trying to figure out how best to get the economy moving. Yet, lest we take for granted that government always has its priorities right, here's just one example of those priorities going wildly astray. Under an energy-efficiency rule for dishwashers, the Department of Energy is now focusing on the really important question facing the U.S.: How dirty are the dishes put in our dishwashers?" (Frances B. Smith, National Review)

"Most fear air quality, poll says" - "A majority of people living in Toronto believe the city's lousy air is hurting their health, according to the results of a survey released yesterday. The poll by Oracle Research found 75 per cent of people think air pollution is affecting their health now and 82 per cent believe it will endanger their health in the future." (Globe and Mail)

Hmm... what's the bet at least 1.5billion Third World residents would happily exchange air quality with 'em? And not because of automobile exhausts and factory emissions either.

"Sweden Moves to End Landfilling Household Waste" - "STOCKHOLM, Sweden, January 7, 2002 - Swedish municipalities are preparing for a massive boost in capacity for biological processing of household waste following entry into force on January 1 of a ban on landfilling of combustible wastes. Incineration capacity is also set to rise substantially as Sweden moves to landfill a smaller proportion of municipal waste than any other European country, leap-frogging the Netherlands, Denmark and Switzerland." (ENS)

Hmm... wonder what the wacky anti-incineration brigade will make of that.

Biomass fuel not so good for environment? "Effects of Using Agricultural Residues As Fuel" - "The rural population in the world continues to depend on traditional fuels (wood, animal dung and crop residues) otherwise known as biomass fuel for meeting their energy needs. Though nationally, there has been a decrease in the share of traditional fuel, as it is being increasingly substituted by commercial fuel, the shift to commercial fuel has been negligible in rural areas." (Daily Trust (Abuja))

Actually, going by WHO figures, it's not too flash for people either.

"SUVs and the addiction to taxation" - "Just when the blame-America-for-Sept. 11 campaigns appeared to be running out of gas, a new version is rapidly gaining momentum. Blame the SUV! The idea that gas-guzzling SUVs are somehow feeding U.S. military and economic vulnerability is a hot issue in The New York Times, popped up in The Wall Street Journal yesterday, and got a big push a couple of weeks ago in a cover story in The Economist." (Terence Corcoran, National Post)

It's not easy being green, eh Bill? "All That Easy Credit Haunts Detroit Now" - "DETROIT -- When the North American International Auto Show, the Cannes Film Festival of the auto industry, opens here today, the Ford Motor Company will put on a display of its new vehicles. The company hopes to make its mark with a redesigned version of its Expedition S.U.V. and a station wagon from its Volvo unit that looks like it wants to be an S.U.V. But the big news will come at the end of the week, after the show ends. That is when Ford is expected to announce a plan to return to profitability by reversing the company's declining quality, cutting costs and perhaps closing plants to ease overcapacity." (New York Times)

"An Open Letter to Animal Rights Groups" - "Vienna, VA - January 7, 2002 -The following open letter is from Kenneth Feld, Chairman and Producer of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® , in an appeal to the animal rights organizations that continue to waste their members' valuable financial contributions and the organizations' human resources attacking responsible animal care providers, instead of spending them on the care of animals." (Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey)

"Biofraud attempt jeopardizes study of threatened grizzlies" - "Another case of "biofraud" has surfaced in Washington state, prompting lawmakers there to call for congressional intervention. A state fish and wildlife biologist asked taxidermist Jim Gintz for grizzly bear hair samples in March 2001, said state Rep. Bob Sump, Republican co-chairman of the Natural Resources Committee. If such a sample had been given, it could have tainted a grizzly habitat study in Washington that encompasses 3,600 square miles and, as a result, affected recreation, timber, mining, road construction and other human activities." (Washington Times)

"The lynx hoax debacle" - "As Americans, we should have been astounded by the recent findings that federal officials intentionally planted hair from the threatened Canadian lynx in our national forests in order to impose sweeping land management regulations. We should have been shocked at the audacity of government employees to falsify evidence in order to advance their environmental agenda, and even more perplexed at the lackluster response from their respective agencies when the transgressions were brought to light." (Richard W. Pombo and John E. Peterson, Washington Times)

"Bidding wars escalate over ranch land" - "At auctions, environmental activists buy leases on public lands to keep ranchers from using the acreage for grazing." (Christian Science Monitor)

"A lakeview lot, a dream deferred, a 20-year lawsuit" - "WASHINGTON - In 1959, Patricia Smith and her husband, Perry, purchased a wooded lot on a hill overlooking Lake Tahoe. The Smiths were in their early 40s at the time, but they were thinking years ahead toward their retirement. They dreamed of sitting together on the veranda of their new home, enjoying the magnificent view. Instead, their real-estate purchase has set the stage for a major legal battle that could redefine the rights of property owners across America." (Christian Science Monitor)

"Australia's koala population threatened by wildfires" - "SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - Australian firefighters got some respite Friday from the hot, dry weather that has been fuelling wildfires, but the break may have come too late for thousands of the country's best-known animals, a government agency said." (CBC) | Why forests need fires (BBC Online)

Sigh... typical, gullible press. True, some animals end up toast in bushfires but koalas are under absolutely no species threat beyond localised overpopulation. The cited 100,000 animals may account for Queensland's koala population, New South Wales isn't thought to have a particularly significant population, maybe 20,000-50,000 (no one bothers to count), Victoria has about 200,000 more and the situation is another guess in South Australia, although the latest estimate for Kangaroo Island alone (where koalas are a feral pest, having been introduced by human action in the twentieth century) is about 30,000. Victoria and South Australia both run sterilisation programs in an (unsuccessful) attempt to limit koala population.

Destructive fires are a perfectly normal feature of the land "down-under," many native plant species require fire for propagation and native animal species have had to survive to the boom-bust, drought-flood, grow-burn cycles that are Australia's norm for millennia.

"Britain 'faces greater risk of tropical diseases'" - "A boom in adventure travel to developing countries means Britain is facing a greater risk from tropical diseases. Chief Medical Officer Dr Liam Donaldson will warn this week there are almost no safeguards in place against illnesses like Ebola, yellow fever and cerebral malaria. In a report he says it is only a matter of time before diseases like West Nile Fever come to Britain, writes the Daily Mail. Climate change is also helping viruses and bacteria survive in Britain, the paper says." (Ananvoa)

Thought for a moment they were going to miss the ol' "global warming" chestnut.

Free trade agreements cause global warming and tidal movement? "Environment in crisis: NAFTA agency" - "OTTAWA --North Americans are facing a "widespread crisis" due to a decline in their environment and a diminishing diversity of life that it can support, says a NAFTA environmental agency. The study, the first in-depth assessment of the North American environment, warns of widespread flooding in the southern United States due to climate change and "unimaginable" tides in the Bay of Fundy." (CP)

"Spain Says Climate a Priority of its European Presidency" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium, January 4, 2002 - Spain took over the rotating presidency of the European Union on New Year's day at the start of a six month period likely to see lots of activity on the environmental policy stage. Madrid's tenure will be marked by three themes: sustainable development, climate change, and international environmental agreements." (ENS)

"Warming theory hotter than ever" - "Ever since the early '80s, when the issue of global warming began to penetrate the public consciousness, a battle has raged over the true nature of the issue. It has not been a dispute about science, but a conflict between values." (Jay Brookman, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

"Building Consensus Key to Global Protection in 2002" - "NAIROBI, Kenya, January 2, 2002 - The top United Nations environmental official is calling for a speedy ratification of the Kyoto climate protocol before September. "It is a new beginning," declared Klaus Toepfer, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN agency responsible for securing a cleaner, healthier and less polluted world. "I call on nations to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which is at the center of the new agreements, before the World Summit on Sustainable Development," Toepfer said." (ENS)

"Kyoto through the backdoor" - "Desperately seeking their Sally Field moment ("You like me! You really like me!"), with the likes of the New York Times and environmental pressure groups, the Bush administration is preparing to issue a "multi-pollutant" proposal that will bear sour fruit just in time for the 2002 mid-term elections. This, in an effort to engage Senate Environment Committee Chairman James Jeffords on an environmental trek toward what the White House fails to see is merely backdoor implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. The president will debut this plan in his State of the Union speech." (Christopher C. Horner, Washington Times)

"Ten freeze to death in Russia" - "MOSCOW — Plunging temperatures killed 10 people in Moscow overnight into Thursday in a cold spell that even saw snow fall on palm trees along Russia's sub-tropical Black Sea Coast. Central Europe meanwhile dug its way out of snowdrifts from the worst blizzards in 15 years, and road and rail travel remained hazardous. Avalanche warnings were posted in mountain resorts." (Reuters)

"Antarctica's climate clues" - "If humans really are interfering with the Earth's climate and pushing up world temperatures, some of the best evidence could come from Antarctica.

Captain Chris Elliott has been sailing these waters for more than 30 years and knows them better than anyone. As parts of the continent have warmed up he has noticed a reduction in annual ice cover. And he feels this is not all that is changing." (BBC Online)

Mmmaybe not...:

"Ice turns back Shackleton ship" - "The British Antarctic Survey (Bas) ship, the Ernest Shackleton, has been forced to turn back from Antarctica after being blocked by ice. The vessel has abandoned its journey in the Weddell Sea - where the legendary explorer's own ship was crushed 87 years ago." (BBC Online)

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Antarctic:

"Work to release Polar Bird from ice pack" - "The Australian Antarctic Division said it's working around the clock to free the re-supply vessel Polar Bird from pack ice. The Polar Bird has been trapped in almost four metres of ice and snow in Prydz Bay, 100 kilometres from the Antarctica, for more than three weeks." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Companies prepare for greenhouse gas scheme" - "The UK government is hoping to blaze a trail in trading greenhouse-gas emission permits by launching Europe's first comprehensive, national scheme in April. Its ambition is to make London the hub for trading pollution permits in any eventual European or international system. But time is short for companies to prepare for an important part of the scheme - next month's auction of £215m ($311m) in government incentive money to businesses willing to commit themselves to reduce emissions." (Financial Times)

"UK industrial gas prices up 20 pct on climate levy" - "LONDON - British industrial gas prices rose by about 20 percent in the last year, mainly as a result of the government's climate change levy introduced to curb greenhouse gas emissions, a survey by NUS Consulting Group said on Friday." (Reuters)

"Former Greenpeace chief joins Monsanto's PR firm" - "Lord Melchett, the former head of Greenpeace, who led its campaign against genetically modified crops, has accepted a salaried job with a public relations firm whose clients include Monsanto, the GM giant. The leading environmentalist, who stood down as executive director of the campaigning charity last year, starts work next week as a consultant with Burson-Marsteller, which has represented some of the world's most notorious polluters, including the Exxon Corporation, Union Carbide, and the US company Babcock and Wilcox. (Independent) | Eco-warrior peer goes over to the other side (Telegraph)

Golden rice, anyone? "Vitamin A could spur growth in sick kids" - "CHICAGO -- Vitamin A supplements could help improve growth in children in developing countries with HIV, malaria and persistent diarrhea, a study in Tanzania found. Delayed growth and vitamin A deficiency in infants and young children are major public-health problems in developing countries, where infectious diseases such as AIDS and malaria are also common. The results show that vitamin A supplements "could constitute a low-cost, effective intervention to decrease the burden of growth retardation in settings where infectious diseases are highly prevalent," the report in January's Pediatrics says." (AP)

"Can sorghum's Stay-Green gene deliver dryland rice?" - "A small team of scientists working at Warwick, on Queensland’s Darling Downs, is playing a key role in research that could lead to the world’s main grain crops needing less water to produce their yields. At the “blue sky” end of his predictions about the potential of the research, team leader Andrew Borrell says the genes responsible for the Stay-Green characteristic in sorghum – transferred to other grass type crops – could lead to rice being grown dryland instead of in the traditional, flooded “paddies”. Dr Borrell’s team, based at the Queensland Department of Primary Industries’ (QDPI’s) Hermitage Research Station, is basing new research on the results of a four year physiological assessment of genetic variation in Stay-Green in sorghum. Stay-Green – delayed leaf ageing and death – is a trait which helps the sorghum plant continue filling its grain in water limited situations." (GRDC)

"Gene-altered crops costly, but farmers deem them valuable" - "Genetically modified crops, which have caused considerable consumer opposition in Europe, have been gaining popularity among U.S. farmers, but not for economic reasons. An analysis among more than 300 Iowa farmers showed that those who used genetically modified seeds didn't gain any economic advantage over those who used conventional seeds. The analysis was conducted by Michael Duffy, associate director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. Duffy's analysis, published in the center's newsletter, was drawn from information gathered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It was the second time Duffy concluded the economics of genetically modified crops don't add up for farmers." (Chicago Tribune)

"SA starts growing genetically modified white maize" - "Johannesburg - South African farmers are planting genetically modified (GM) white maize, marking the first time this has been been done commercially anywhere in the world. White maize is a staple food in many parts of the continent, and South Africa exports it to southern African countries. It is also used for human consumption in Egypt and Mexico." (Business Report)

"SA Ready for Modified Maize" - "GRAIN silo operators and Transnet are geared to handle intricate storage and transport systems to cater for genetically modified white maize, industry sources said yesterday. The maize is being planted on a commercial basis in SA for the first time this season, after planting of genetically modified yellow maize began four years ago. The engineered yellow maize is fed to animals, while white maize is used mostly for maize meal for human consumption." (Business Day)

"GM labelling debate expected during winter session" - "The issue of labelling products containing genetically modified material will be front and centre on the political agenda when Parliament resumes Jan. 28 after the Christmas break. In mid-December, MPs from agricultural ridings tried to ensure the farm voice is well heard when the debate resumes." (Western Producer)

"China's Ag Ministry Says New GMO Rules Effective March 20" - "BEIJING -- New rules covering genetically modified products will take effect from March 20, China's Ministry of Agriculture said Monday in a notice carried in state-run media, ending six months of uncertainty that has disrupted soybean trade with the U.S." (Dow Jones Newswires)

"SAR funds for GM firm spark row" - "The Government is funding the marketing of a genetically modified tomato in the mainland next year and stands to take a slice of any profits. Critics of the move said yesterday that it was wrong for the Government to use taxpayers' money to market such products and the move would create a conflict of interest between its commercial affairs and its role in GM labelling." (Financial Times)

"GM food could be a blessing" - "Aversion to loss is instinctive. A loss is more worrisome than a forgone gain. When I plan to invest my savings, I am more swayed by a guarantee that my capital is secure than by large projected gains but no capital guarantee. Many people also think about GM food this way, asking whether it is possible to guarantee the safety of the technology. The probability of ill-effect is low, but there is no guarantee, and this is enough to cause most people to forgo the potential gains in food quality, quantity and resilience." (Irish Times)

"Who Benefits from Biotechnology?" - "Biotechnology is an extremely powerful tool. It has the potential to create many useful products as well as many unforeseen problems. As with any new technology, it must be evaluated carefully. It is not prudent to expect private companies to develop products for the public good. Companies are in the business of making money and the products they pursue are designed for that end. To expect any other result from private research is not appropriate or realistic." (Michael Duffy, Iowa State University)

"Of Scientists, by Scientists, for the People: Vega Science Trust tries to close the gap before it becomes a divide" - "As the pace of scientific discovery continues at breakneck speed, the gap widens between the public's and scientists' understanding of science. And, with research revealing that barely half of U.S. high school seniors meet even basic science requirements,1 the prospects for the situation improving in the near future appear bleak." (The Scientist)

"Speeding Up Breeding of Superior Plants" - "That oatmeal you ate for breakfast this morning is loaded with healthful compounds known as antioxidants. They help to protect your body from damage caused by molecules known as free radicals. Oats, for instance, are rich in the antioxidants alpha-tocopherol and alpha-tocotrienol.

But what if tomorrow's oats could provide even more of these health-imparting compounds? That's a goal of ARS oat researchers at laboratories in several states. Aiding this research is an invaluable tool of modern biotechnology." (Agricultural Research magazine)

January 7, 2002

"Agent Orange hotspots located" - "Scientists investigating the effects of Agent Orange in Vietnam have found that people living in a so-called hotspot have the highest blood levels of its poisonous chemical dioxin ever recorded in the country. Agent Orange, which has the dioxin (TCDD - short for 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin) as one of its constituents, was last used in 1973. But today, some residents of Binh-Hoa, near Ho Chi Minh City, have 200 times the normal amount of dioxin in their bloodstreams." (BBC Online)

Odd, not a single mention of any observed correlation between elevated serum dioxin levels and health effect. Even statistically pathetic associations are normally the first thing trumpeted but the only mention here is:

Dioxins, which include TCDD and other related compounds, can cause cancers and problems with reproductive development, the nervous and immune systems.

Which is true - if you pump enough of it into rodents - but has not been observed in humans. Most curious...

"Endocrine Disrupters" - "Endocrine disrupters are chemicals in the environment that are similar in structure to natural sex hormones and interfere with their normal functions, usually by binding to the cell receptors and preventing the hormone from binding to the receptor. When hormones bind to their receptors, this triggers their biological effects.

An editorial in the December 8, 2001 British Medical Journal describes concerns about reduced sperm motility, increased prostate and testicular cancers in men, and more breast cancer, cystic ovaries and endometriosis in women, that have been suggested as indicators of adverse trends in reproductive health. Endocrine disrupters are found in plastics and foods.

HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: This field was turned upside down when a study published in 1996 claimed tiny doses of two endocrine disrupters had 10,000 times the effect of each alone. The paper was withdrawn a year later when the original lab and three others could not reproduce any of the results. Obviously, chemicals in plastics are bad for us, but endocrine disrupters found in foods (soy estrogens, red clover extracts) are good, right? There is a clear dichotomy in our approach to these compounds. We are exposed to far more food-derived estrogens, yet we get hysterical about the man-made ones even though they are in much lower amounts." (Nutrition News Focus)

"US EPA says it won't regulate dioxin in landfills" - "WASHINGTON - The federal government will not regulate levels of dioxin in sewage sludge that is incinerated or placed in sludge landfills or containment ponds, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced last week." (Reuters)

"Gulf War Syndrome, Round 38" - "Here we go again. "VA, DoD find Lou Gehrig Risk in Gulf War Service," boomed the Copley News Service. "U.S. Reports Disease Link to Gulf War," proclaimed the New York Times. It's "A Measure of Vindication for Ailing Gulf Vets," declared the Raleigh News and Observer. All the major TV news broadcasts ran with the story about the new study, providing an identical spin." (Michael Fumento, Reason)

"Toms River Still Asking a Question: `Why Us?'" - "TOMS RIVER, N.J., Dec. 21 — For years, the children suffered and died from cancer while their parents pleaded for answers. Common sense told them that the unusually high level of childhood cancers in Toms River and surrounding Dover Township had been caused by chemicals from two Superfund sites that had gotten into the water they drank and the air they breathed. For years, they organized parents' groups, wrote letters and lobbied in Trenton and in Washington for money and action. After a six-year, $10 million study, science gave them their answer: Of all the cancers, only childhood leukemia in infant girls may have been statistically associated with chemical pollution." (New York Times)

PCB nonsense rumbles on and on: "Pending PCB Trial Hurts Solutia" - "ST. LOUIS - Shares of chemical producer Solutia Inc. fell by more than 25 percent Thursday as a trial draws near on a civil complaint involving the consequences of its PCB production decades ago in Alabama." (AP)

"Patent Nonsense: Activist Complaints Make AIDS Worse" - "Those concerned about the global fight against HIV/AIDS can find a prescription for victory by looking at a recent fight against another disease: malaria.

Shortly before World AIDS Day last month, the South African Department of Health held its annual Malaria Control Conference. Sadly, there was little media fanfare surrounding the event. Despite the low level of public attention to malaria, conferees were able to celebrate phenomenal successes, especially in KwaZulu Natal where malaria rates are down by around 80% compared with last year.

The success in the malaria fight is due in large part to two things: the reintroduction of insecticide spraying with DDT (produced only in India and China); and a change in drug therapy to a new, highly effective Novartis drug based on a Chinese herb.

Another factor was the strong political will to control the disease. By increasing funding to the malaria control programs, standing up to the anti-DDT environmentalists and committing itself to providing effective therapies, the government of South Africa seems to have the disease under control." (Roger Bate and Richard Tren, Tech Central Station)

"Smart Woman, Foolish Choices" - "Christie Whitman embraces Al Gore's agenda. And she's not alone." (Thomas J Bray, Wall Street Journal)

"Mississippi Churning" - "The Constitution provides for government to seize private property for "public use" so long as "just compensation" is given. But can a state seize land on behalf of a private corporation in the name of economic development? Mississippi's efforts to uproot homeowners from their land so it can be used for a Nissan truck factory is only the latest example of how eminent domain is being abused for private and political gain." (Wall Street Journal) [Subscription required]

"Pollution linked to birth defects" - "Women exposed to high levels of ozone and carbon monoxide may be up to three times as likely to give birth to a baby with heart defects, American research suggests. Scientists found the risk increased when women were exposed to high levels of the pollutants in the second month of their pregnancy. That is the time when the heart and other organs begin to develop. The research team suggest this is the first "compelling evidence" air pollution may play a role in causing some birth defects." (BBC Online)


The researchers admit the study is limited because it could only assess pregnant women's exposure to pollutants by checking measurements of certain pollutants at monitoring stations, which could be up to 10 miles away.

They were also unable to look at other risk factors for birth defects, including maternal smoking, occupational exposures, vitamin supplement use, diet and obesity.

Particulates? "Health effects of Sydney bushfire smoke limited" - "SYDNEY, Jan 03 - The choking blanket of smoke produced by the bushfires ringing Sydney has sent many residents of Australia's largest city running for cover. But while dozens of firefighters have been treated for smoke inhalation when fighting the blazes and a woman suffered serious head injuries after falling from her roof while defending her home, the effects on the health of the general population have so far been minor, public health officials report.

Dr. Guy Marks, of the Institute of Respiratory Medicine, said that smoke exposure symptoms in the general public have been limited to eye and throat soreness. "We're not seeing any increase in respiratory problems at this time," he told Reuters Health." (Reuters Health)

"Mining Company Gets Protection in Legislation Pushed by Daschle" - "WASHINGTON, Jan. 2 — A mining company in South Dakota has tapped a rich vein of influence on Capitol Hill, turning to the Senate Democratic leader to obtain valuable help for a project in his state. With little debate, lawmakers agreed to relieve the company, Homestake Mining, of any legal liability that it might have for damage done to the environment in digging gold from the Black Hills over the last 125 years." (New York Times)

"Neutrino Tom's Tort Reform" - "Well, hallelujah, it turns out there is one trial lawyer menace to the economy that Tom Daschle draws the line at -- when lawsuits might stand in the way of a tasty piece of home-state pork barrel. This one is rich, in so many ways." (Wall Street Journal) [Subscription required]

"Suit Seeking End to Vieques Bombing Is Dismissed" - "WASHINGTON, Jan. 2 — A federal district judge today dismissed a lawsuit seeking to halt the Navy's bombing exercises on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques." (New York Times)

"Suit Against Gun Makers Gains Ground in Illinois Court" - "In a major victory for advocates of gun control, a state appellate court in Illinois has ruled that gun makers and dealers can be sued for distributing firearms in a way that makes it easy for criminals and juveniles to obtain them, a practice that creates what the court said could amount to a public nuisance." (New York Times)

"Gun Ruling Smacks Of Chicago-Style Political Cronyism, Says ISRA" - "CHICAGO, Jan. 1 -- The following was released today by the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA):

The closing day of 2001 was political pay back day for the First District of the Illinois Appellate Court. As the nation focused on a brighter and happier 2002, an appellate court panel handed Chicago mayor Richard Daley a sweetheart New Year's gift by ruling that it is reasonable to assume that firearm manufacturers should know that their products may be used illegally and, therefore, create a public nuisance." (U.S. Newswire)

"Too Many Guns?: Restricting the supply of firearms could cost lives rather than save them" - "In August 1998, Chicago police officer Michael Ceriale, a 26-year-old rookie, was shot with a Smith & Wesson revolver during a stakeout at a public housing project. He died a week later. His family blamed Smith & Wesson.

If that strikes you as unreasonable, you're probably not a judge on the Illinois Appellate Court. On Dec. 31, a three-judge panel of the court unanimously ruled that Ceriale's family and the families of four other homicide victims could sue the companies that produced the guns used to kill their relatives." (Jacob Sullum, Reason)

Henny Penny's alive and well: "Asteroid impact centre site selected" - "Britain's new centre to analyse the risk of asteroid impact on Earth and inform the public will be at the National Space Science Centre in Leicester, Science Minister Lord Sainsbury has announced.

In defence of weeds: "USDA considers grounding the whimsical release of butterflies" - "Symbols of ecological curiosity - or "environmental porn"? That's the debate raging over butterfly releases - a controversy that's taken wing since the US Department of Agriculture proposed a law to make interstate shipment and release of six types of butterflies grounds for up to $250,000 in fines.

Currently, the USDA issues permits for the release of nine breeds. The new proposal would deregulate three breeds, but allow the other six - including monarchs - to be released only for research and testing, ending whimsical releases at weddings, funerals, and schools.

The USDA's aim, says lepidopterist Rick Mikula, is to protect 27 Kansas milkweed plants, which it suspects are damaged when caterpillars munch the leaves." (Christian Science Monitor)

Can't wait to see enviro-activists in milkweed costumes promoting Bt corn in the belief that it'll slow down those nasty predatory monarch caterpillars.

"A weighty issue" - "Could that New Year flab be potentially fatal?" (sp!ked online)

"Lighten Up, America!: Do fat people belong in public parks?" - " - "Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry offers several rationales for her ban on smoking in city parks. People leave cigarette butts in sandboxes, she says, and smoking causes air pollution. But L.A. already has a law against littering, and tobacco smoke in the open air hardly seems like a pressing environmental concern. Unless Perry plans to shut down all automobile traffic and industrial activity in Los Angeles, her zero-tolerance approach to pollution is strangely selective." (Jacob Sullum, Reason)

Uh-oh! Now wanting to quit smoking is a defence (or a delusion): "Man's Use of Nicotine Patch Voids Finding of Child Neglect" - "An expert's opinion that a man claiming to have hit his wife and daughter was probably suffering from delusions caused by nicotine withdrawal or the use of a nicotine patch when he made the false admission led an appellate court to reverse a finding that the man had neglected his children." (Law.com)

"Plot to undermine global pollution controls revealed" - "A secret group of developed nations conspired to limit the effectiveness of the UN's first conference on the environment, held in Stockholm in 1972. The existence of this cabal, known as the Brussels group, is revealed in 30-year-old British government records that were kept secret until this week.

The Stockholm conference was set up in response to rising concern about damage to the environment. It ended with a ringing declaration of the need to protect the natural world, and the UN Environment Programme was set up as a result.

But the ambitious aims of the conference organisers, who included Maurice Strong, the first director-general of UNEP, were held in check by the activities of the Brussels group, which included Britain, the US, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and France." (New Scientist)

And a good thing too!

"Isn't the only hope for the planet that the industrialised civilizations collapse? Isn't it our responsibility to bring that about?" -- Maurice Strong, head of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and Executive Officer for Reform in the Office of the Secretary General of the United Nations.

"Remember the environment?" - "GRAYS RIVER, WA. - On Sept. 10, a federal judge in Eugene, Oregon, handed down a bombshell of an opinion.

US District Court Judge Michael Hogan stunned federal officials by stripping Oregon's coho salmon of Endangered Species Act protections. This opened the way for logging in the threatened-species habitat, jeopardized the endangered-species listings of more than 20 other stocks of salmon, and pushed the $4 billion effort to save northwest salmon runs into uncharted waters.

One look at the date, and you know why you didn't hear about this decision. The events of Sept. 11 pushed environmental stories to the back pages - if not out of the papers and off the news broadcasts entirely.

A story that normally would have dominated headlines, the coho salmon decision didn't make it into a newspaper until three days later. Important environmental events continued after that fateful day in September. Yet the ability of these events to capture our attention waned. Stories that were big news before Sept. 11 seemed irrelevant or trivial afterwards." (Ed Hunt, Christian Science Monitor)

Perhaps because they really are irrelevant/trivial.

"Study explores the effect of temperature on mortality" - "The relationship between extreme temperature and mortality in the United States varies by location, according to a study from researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Excessive heat is more likely to increase mortality risk in the North, while excessive cold is more likely to increase mortality risk in the South. The study appears in the January 1, 2001 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology." (Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health)

Regional mortality can be highest at temperature extremes against which citizens are least prepared to defend themselves... how do they come up with this amazing stuff?

"Global Warming and Cheap Fossil Fuels: They're Good for You!" - "Summary: As we've indicated in many a Journal Review, cooler weather produces much more death and debilitating illness than does warmer weather in all parts of the world. This week's example comes from Scotland, where economic disincentives to keep homes adequately warmed in winter may be breaking people's health and costing them their lives. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 55: 928-929." (co2science.org)

"Lack of snow hurting Great Lakes" - "CHICAGO - The Great Lakes are at their lowest point in 35 years, and experts worry the water levels are likely to drop even more because of the unusually warm winter weather. Solid ice sheets are only now spreading over the bays and inlets of Lake Erie, the shallowest of the Great Lakes and usually frozen by late December. Without that ice cover, millions of gallons of water are evaporating from the Great Lakes. Part of that has fallen as lake-effect snow at the eastern end of the lakes; Buffalo, N.Y., received 7 feet of snow last week." (AP)

"A Mittenless Autumn, for Better and Worse" - "Across the Northeast, people opened their doors yesterday to discover something unfamiliar: a chill in the air. Weeks later than usual, temperatures have finally descended into something like their normal late- December range.

In fact, the warm spell that settled over much of the nation this fall may not be caused by global warming, the gradual but potentially calamitous rise in worldwide temperatures that most scientists attribute, at least in part, to fuel-burning human activities like making electricity and driving. When burned, fuels release carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse gases" that trap heat in the atmosphere. The fall weather could have been a fluke, climatologists agree, because in the short run weather often does unanticipated things." (New York Times)

"Cement thrives on warm weather and infrastructure" - "TORONTO - What's bad news for some people is good news for others. Take the green Christmas, which is a real prospect for many places in Canada and the United States that almost always have snow and colder weather at this time of year." (CBC)

"How warm will it get?" - "Planet earth walks a tightrope as industrial nations cobble together a plan to limit emissions of industrial gases. It represents a first time ever effort at managing a planetary system." (Christian Science Monitor)

Claims of the nth warmest year since [whatever] continue. Meanwhile:

"A 1,000-Year History of Sunspot Numbers" - "Summary: The record reads like a climate history book, with the chapter on the past century suggesting what climate alarmists have been saying for some time, i.e., that it's currently warmer than it's been for a thousand years. What they probably won't like, however, is that solar activity is the plot's main character, while CO2 merits not even a mention. Solar Physics 203: 179-191." (co2science.org)

"Snow Hits an Unpracticed South and Shuts It Down" - "ATLANTA, Jan. 3 — The largest snowstorm in a decade iced the South today, causing hundreds of traffic accidents and 10 deaths. Business essentially closed for the day, and hundreds of airline flights were canceled, stranding 4,000 people overnight in Atlanta alone. Nearly 70,000 people lost electrical power." (New York Times)

"Killer ice sheet threatens penguins" - "ANTARCTICA'S most important penguin colonies face disaster because a huge ice sheet has cut them off from their breeding grounds. Hundreds of thousands have been trapped at sea, forcing some to take refuge on ice floes. Many others are believed to have died trying to cross the ice to reach breeding areas." (The Australian)

"Giant icebergs, unprecedented ice conditions threaten Antarctic penguin colonies" - "Enormous grounded icebergs and an unprecedented amount of sea ice in Antarctica's Ross Sea have nearly isolated one of the continent's most populous Adelie penguin colonies, making it difficult for the birds to return from their feeding grounds in the open sea, according to researchers funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF)." (National Science Foundation)

"What Is the Likelihood of the Antarctic Ice Sheet Collapsing Sometime Soon?" - "Summary: We'd like to say zero; but perhaps we should be content with the same likelihood that all the gas molecules in the air at the next IPCC meeting will suddenly congregate in a single small corner of the conference room. It could happen, but ... . Quaternary Research 56: 308-321." (co2science.org)

"Low probability of ice collapse" - "Scientists think there is just a one in 20 chance that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) will collapse in the next 200 years. The integrity of the WAIS is crucial to future sea levels; if all the ice melts in this region of the White Continent, it could raise the oceans by several metres. The 5% probability of disintegration has been worked out by researchers commissioned by the British Government. Their work will be published in the journal Climate Change next month." (BBC Online)

"Ice Sheets (Greenland)" - "Summary: Is it true what they say about Greenland? From what we read in the popular press, we can almost imagine a new breed of Viking hawking beach-front property there. But buyer beware!" (co2science.org)

"Science, Economics Slay Kyoto Dragon – Japan Joins U.S." - "The Kyoto Protocol’s chickens are coming home to roost all over the globe – and it’s not a pretty sight. As government ministers begin to get a better understanding of the true economic impact of the carbon dioxide emission restrictions called for in the Protocol, political fissures are emerging that threaten to sink the treaty faster than carbon dioxide in a lush New Zealand forest.

Japan just joined the United States in rejecting Kyoto’s mandated carbon dioxide cuts. The country where the Protocol was drafted ranks third worldwide in carbon dioxide emission and is mired by a slumped economy. The carbon dioxide cuts would be economically punishing to nearly all developed countries, and that economic disaster would cascade disastrously to developing economies of the world.

Japan will still focus on voluntary cuts as a hedge against fears of "consumer boycotting [in Europe and other areas that support the Kyoto treaty]," according to one Japanese government source.

To our north, the Canadian Minister of Industry recently said "there is a very strong consensus around the Cabinet table and in caucus that Canada must do nothing in competitive terms that would handcuff our capacity to compete around the world and with United States." (Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas, Tech Central Station)

"Japan cools on climate pact" - "Japan is reported to be planning to relax its commitment to tackling climate change. The Tokyo newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun says the government plans to let industry choose how far to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. It says it will be hard for Japan to keep its promises to cut emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. The protocol's critics say Japan is in effect abandoning it." (Alex Kirby, BBC Online)

"SHOULD WE IMPLEMENT THE KYOTO PROTOCOL? - sp!ked-science debate" - "The ineffectiveness of Kyoto, peer review as censorship, and alternative fuels: the spiked-science debate on global warming continues." (sp!ked online)

See also: The German Kyoto Protocol Hoax ; The More Equal Kyoto Five by Miceal O'Ronain.

"Biology Rules!" - "Summary: At long last we have a coupled atmosphere-vegetation model capable of exploring the consequences of increases in the air's CO2 content for regional weather conditions. What it tells us in its initial application to the central grasslands of the United States is what we have long suspected, i.e., that the several biological effects of atmospheric CO2 enrichment may have a greater combined impact on climate than do its direct and indirect radiative effects, and that the net result may actually be a tendency for cooling." (co2science.org)

"Are Rising Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations Protecting European Forests From the Adverse Effects of Ozone Pollution?" - "Summary: The invisible hand of providence may be maintaining the biosphere in a whole lot better condition than many anti-CO2 types care to acknowledge." (co2science.org)

"North Atlantic Deep Water Production: Response to Global Warming and Feedback Implications for Climate" - "Summary: A new climate model study casts doubt upon the recent and highly-hyped speculations of the National Academy of Science's Committee on Abrupt Climate Change, whose thesis was beginning to crumble even before its pre-publication release to the public and media. Journal of Geophysical Research 106: 27,335-27, 353.

"Planetary Albedo" - "Summary: As the impetus for anthropogenic-induced global warming continues to grow, a number of similarly-induced, as well as natural, negative feedback phenomena concurrently raise the planet's albedo by the amount required to resist increases in air temperature that could prove dangerous to the health of the biosphere." (co2science.org)

"Holocene Climate off the Coast of Nova Scotia" - "Summary: What's normal for this region? Should it be warmer or colder than it is now? Does the climate history of Canada's Atlantic Provinces provide any evidence for CO2-induced warming? Are there signs of some other type of climate forcing, such as might be provided by something that varies periodically and recurs at regularly-spaced intervals? Inquiring minds want to know! Marine Micropaleontology 43: 179-197." (co2science.org)

"Stomatal Conductance (Grasses)" - "Summary: As the air's CO2 content rises, most grassland species will likely exhibit reduced stomatal conductances, which together with the aerial fertilization effect of atmospheric CO2 enrichment often enhances vegetative water-use efficiency; and an ongoing increase in this latter parameter suggests that grasslands will expand further and further into deserts as the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere continues to rise." (co2science.org)

"Elevated CO2 Increases Leaf Longevity, Giving Plants Extra Time to Deposit More Carbon in Earth's Soil Bank System" - "Summary: Following on the heels of our last Carbon Sequestration Commentary, we note that not only do plants work longer days in CO2-enriched atmospheres, they also work more days, as they lengthen their productive growing seasons." (co2science.org)

"Nicotine Poisoning Traced to Homemade Skin Cure" - "NEW YORK - A homemade remedy for the skin condition eczema was behind a case of nicotine poisoning in an 8-year-old boy in Bangladesh, according to UK researchers.

They caution that parents need to be educated about the potential dangers of ``seemingly innocuous'' substances used in some traditional therapies.

And while the case offers a cautionary tale about homespun cures, he noted that it can be applied more broadly to the ''natural'' and ``herbal'' medicinals sold throughout the world. ``As a practicing doctor, I often come across patients who believe that natural products...must be good, and that chemical products which come from laboratories must be bad,'' Davies said. But, he pointed out, products dubbed ``natural'' also contain numerous chemicals--''some of which may help, and some of which may harm.'' Davies noted that any chemical, whether from a plant or man-made, can cause adverse side effects if used improperly." (Reuters Health)

"Britain pulls herbal drug kava kava" - "OTTAWA - Britain has pulled the herbal supplement kava kava from shelves, while Germany and Switzerland are considering doing the same thing after reports of 30 cases of serious liver damage." (CBC)

"Doubts grow on organic foods" - "Overall, British consumers are becoming sceptical about the benefits of organic food. Sales have soared in recent years but Mintel, the consumer analyst, believes this could be limited by growing cynicism about how much better organic food is for the environment and for health." (The Times)

"Biotech leaders in FDA plea" - "Frustrated by the Bush administration's delay in nominating a commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration, the leaders of the Massachusetts biotechnology industry have sent a letter to White House chief of staff Andrew Card requesting prompt action." (Boston Globe)

"Goats may provide malaria vaccine" - "Developments in genetic engineering have enabled scientists to create the potential for a malaria vaccine to be carried in goats' milk. Scientists hope it could lead to the production of an effective vaccine at a fraction of the cost of manufacturing it in laboratories. Researchers developed transgenic mice which could secrete an experimental malaria vaccine into their milk. When a purified form of this vaccine was injected into monkeys, it protected four out of five animals from a normally lethal dose of malaria." (BBC Online)

January 4, 2002

"Bio-terror Hucksters" - "The Federal Trade Commission this week warned Internet vendors to stop making unproven claims about bio-terrorism products. Many vendors have exploited public fears to hawk gas masks, ultraviolet lights and even dietary supplements.

If only the federal government would take its own advice and apply the same standard of proof to it’s own initiatives of fighting bio-terrorism, including prescribing an anthrax vaccine and irradiating the mail." (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

January 2, 2002

SUGGESTED READING! Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News - Think the media are biased? CONSERVATIVES HAVE BEEN crying foul for years, but now a veteran CBS reporter has come forward to expose how liberal bias pervades the mainstream media. Even if you've suspected your nightly news is slanted to the left, it's far worse than you think. Breaking ranks and naming names, Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist Bernard Goldberg reveals a corporate news culture in which the close-mindedness is breathtaking, journalistic integrity has been pawned to liberal opinion, and "entertainment" trumps hard news every time. In his three decades at CBS, Goldberg repeatedly voiced his concerns to network executives about the often one-sided nature of the news coverage. But no one listened to his complaints-or if they did listen, they did nothing about the problem. Finally, Goldberg had no choice but to blow the whistle on his own industry, to break the code of silence that pervades the news business. Bias is the result. As the author reveals, "liberal bias" doesn't mean simply being hard on Republicans and easy on Democrats. Real media bias is the result of how those in the media see the world-and their bias directly affects how we all see the world.

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