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Archives - January 2006

January 31, 2006

Anti-tobacco industry lawyer threatens school boards with legal liability over soda sales in school - Anti-tobacco industry lawyer John Banzhaf has taken to threatening school boards with legal liability for permitting sales of soda in schools. Click to see Banzhaf's e-mail:

Explanation for Hansen's "pre-emptive strike"? 'Keeping New York City "Cool" is the Job of NASA's "Heat Seekers"' - 'The "heat is on" in New York City, whether it’s summer or winter. This is due to a phenomenon called the urban heat island effect that causes air temperatures in New York City and other major cities to be warmer than in neighboring suburbs and rural areas. And, in a big city, warmer air temperatures can impact air quality, public health and the demand for energy.' (NASA media release)

Curiouser and curiouser... the day before NASA's release attracting major attention to urban heat island effect - potentially a huge confounding problem in near-surface temperature measures alluding to global warming - we had publication of a Hansen interview guaranteed to grab massive media attention. No one would suggest Hansen is anything other than media savvy and he's certainly a political player, could it be that the weekend's orchestrated media kerfuffle is nothing more than an interdepartmental spotlight grab in a budget-challenged NASA?

Update: well, well, well! Have to admit it, Jim, you bushwhacked Stuart Gaffin and the Urban Heat Island study beautifully! At time of writing Google's news search show you whopping them 53:0 in the news coverage stakes ("james hansen" censor vs "urban heat island") with poor censored little Jimmy getting global news coverage while the UHI release was echoed only by PhysOrg.com and Science Daily - not one news item mentioned by 09:30 GMT. It'll be very interesting to see if any of the media wake up to how you are playing them. Very impressive display of news manipulation.

Fire! Ready! Aim? 'Rep. Boehlert Responds to Accusations Concerning NASA's "Silencing" of Climate Scientist' - 'WASHINGTON - House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) sent the attached letter today to Dr. Michael Griffin, Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in response to articles in the New York Times and the Washington Post this weekend concerning NASA's treatment of Dr. James Hansen, Director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies.' (Press Release)

So, uh, Sherwood... you're fully appraised of both sides of this and have ascertained that NASA is mistreating its star virtual world emulator, right? Then, um... why didn't you say something sooner? No matter, just fill everyone in on the complete background and then the good people can make their own informed decisions. NYT likes it though: Lawmaker Condemns NASA Over Scientist's Accusations of Censorship (New York Times)

Parenthetically, we assume some version of "NASA, climate change is not rocket science" must be doing the rounds of bulletin boards, blogs, usenets or something because a number of people have sent us various incarnations of same - thanks, we've seen it already.

Feature film and associated website: As you may be aware, the work toward igniting public awareness of using DDT again as the pesticide of choice against mosquitoes in the fight against malaria and other diseases affecting much of the third world is being showcased in an upcoming feature film. Please go to this website: www.3billionandcounting.com After visiting this site and you find you are in favor of this endeavor, please get involved in the message board and post questions or reply to any statement. Also, take another step and copy this letter to your address book and ask them to send the same to their address book. This is vital to getting the subject out there so film distributors will take note. This is the first time that such subject matter has a chance of being aired in theaters. Please help us make a difference by getting this information out to the world.

"Bird 'flu in India: Policies that kill" - "Patent nonsense about bird 'flu continues to fly far and wide. The wildest is the claim that millions can be saved by breaking the patent on the only known cure: this really would be killing the goose that lays the golden eggs." (Barun Mitra, Liberty Institute)

"Pot Calling Kettle Black?" - "How is it that an opinion columnist writing from a clear point of view is thought to be damaged by a donation to his non-profit employer, yet straight news reporters are immune to large sums of money they receive directly? When is the last time any of the elite journalists who accept four- and five-figure speaking fees—often from corporations and business associations—made print (or on-air) disclosures during stories related to the industries who have cut them checks?" (Morrison Letter to the Editor in Editor and Publisher)

"Toy Tantrums - The Debate Over the Safety of Phthalates" - "Alarming headlines trump serious discussion of safety issues." (Rebecca Goldin, STATS)

"Scientific brain linked to autism" - "Highly analytical couples, such as scientists, may be more likely to produce children with autism, an expert has argued. Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, of the University of Cambridge, said the phenomenon may help explain the recent rise in diagnoses. He believes the genes which make some analytical may also impair their social and communication skills." (BBC)

"Pollution puts fat rats at heart attack risk" - "University of Alberta researcher believes obese humans face same dangers from diesel exhaust and coal emissions. Obese individuals at risk of diabetes are in danger of cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks, when exposed to pollution from diesel exhaust or power plant emissions, says a University of Alberta researcher who is sounding the alarm in a study offering the first direct proof of that relationship." (University of Alberta)

"The Relative Longevity of Science Frauds" - "The fabricated evidence on human stem cells published by Hwang Woo-suk and colleagues had a life shorter than two years as scientific fact. In contrast, the infamous hominid remains of Piltdown Man announced in 1912 stood as real for nearly 40 years." (Sallie Baliunas, TCS Daily)

"Converging satellites unlock Hurricane Lili's sudden demise" - "Using a fleet of NASA and other satellites as well as aircraft and other observations, scientists were able to unlock the secret of Hurricane Lili's unexpected, rapid weakening as she churned toward a Louisiana landfall in 2002. The data from multiple satellites enabled researchers to see dry air move into the storm's low levels, partially explaining why Lili weakened rapidly." (NASA/GSFC)

"Satellite portrait of global plant growth will aid climate research" - "An ambitious ESA project to chart ten years in the life of the Earth's vegetation has reached a midway point, with participants and end-users having met to review progress so far. Harnessing many terabytes of satellite data, the GLOBCARBON project is intended to hone the accuracy of climate change forecasting." (ESA)

Important debate: "Dealing with global warming should be one of the top priorities for humanity" - "Speaking for the motion: Tom Burke, The Rt Hon Michael Meacher MP. Speaking against the motion: Professor Bjorn Lomborg, Professor Philip Stott. The debate will be chaired by Anna Ford." (Intelligence Squared)

This debate is sold out but you can register your vote online (click the "vote online" button below the picture). Why not drop by and let them know whether you think "dealing with global warming" should come before such "secondary concerns" as treatable/preventable third world disease; potable water; sanitation; food security; affordable energy; shelter; poverty reduction...

Make the effort - Stotty would love your support ;)

Retread of the moment: "Stark warning over climate change" - "Rising concentrations of greenhouse gases may have more serious impacts than previously believed, a major scientific report has said. The report, published by the UK government, says there is only a small chance of greenhouse gas emissions being kept below "dangerous" levels. It fears the Greenland ice sheet is likely to melt, leading sea levels to rise by 7m (23ft) over 1,000 years." (BBC) | Global warming demands urgent solutions: scientists (Reuters) | and just about everywhere you care to look - here's the Met. Office release used to generate all this twaddle.

There is only one word for it (Number Watch)

At least the headline is right: "Change to our climate unstoppable, warns expert" - "There is only a small chance of climate change being kept below "dangerous" levels, a Government report said yesterday following figures showing Britain's emissions are rising and plans to reduce them are off course." (London Telegraph)

That we cannot control the climate or prevent change is absolutely correct - the rest of it, however...

Hmm... "Where Science and Public Policy Intersect, Researchers Offer a Short Lesson on Basics" - "WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 — Congress took a science class this month, and some experts would like to make it a regular part of the curriculum. "It's not that we are inattentive; it's just that we have the war on terrorism, the Iraq initiative, Social Security, the budget, the list goes on and on," said Representative Sherwood Boehlert, a New York Republican and head of the House Science Committee." (New York Times)

Sure would be nice if there was some scientific literacy among lawmakers, wouldn't it? Shame Sherwood hasn't been briefed on uncertainty: The Need to Better Assess Uncertainty in Climate Models (Climate Science); Myanna Lahsen's Latest Paper on Climate Models (Prometheus); Intercomparison of the northern hemisphere winter mid-latitude atmospheric variability of the IPCC models (arXiv.org); Climate Models (Inadequacies - Clouds) & Climate Models (Inadequacies - Radiation) (co2science.org); The Lorenz paradigm and the limitations of climate models... (EnviroSpin) are a few items we've featured this month that should cause politicians to be a little more cautious about providing aid and comfort to the global warming industry. From his somewhat precipitous communication above it is clear that Boehlert is completely clueless regarding the actual science and shaky underpinning of Big Warming's gravy train.

The Treatment by Governments of Climate Change Issues: Flaws, Remedies and New Developments (David Henderson, Westminster Business School)

"Floods and Drought Boost Global Disasters in 2005" - "GENEVA - More frequent floods and drought, blamed by some scientists on global warming, brought a near 20 percent rise in natural disasters in 2005, researchers said on Monday." (Reuters)

"Parts of Portugal Could Become Desert - Report" - "LISBON - Portugal's south risks turning into a desert as temperatures rise, its coasts will erode and droughts will become more frequent, the country's most complete report on the impact of global warming showed on Monday." (Reuters)

"Sea Warming Hits Japan's Fisheries" - "TOKYO, Jan 31 - Japan, a voracious consumer of marine resources, is now discovering that the drastic depletion of its own fish stocks is linked to the loss of underwater seaweed colonies -- caused, in turn, by rising sea temperatures." (IPS)

Unusual piece, balanced even: "Global Warming - Is It Just Hot Air?" - "As 2005 melted into 2006, one thing seems like it will remain unchanged—the weather’s surprising unpredictability and severity. In January, mudslides buried portions of southern California freeways and it rained on the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena for the first time in 50 years. While Californians were getting hosed, portions of Texas and half of Oklahoma were engulfed in brush fires, the result of an extensive, months-long drought that created tinder-box conditions in these Great Plains’ states." (Gregory Rummo, Opinion Editorials)

"Gutting Kyoto" - "The worldwide press hailed the December negotiations in Montreal over the Kyoto Protocol for producing an "historic climate agreement." As the London Independent put it, "The fight against catastrophic global warming scored its greatest success to date yesterday, when negotiators from more than 180 nations unexpectedly agreed to develop far-reaching measures." (Horner Op-Ed in The National Post)

"Toronto's mild weather just a blip" - "Record January weather just an Arctic cold air vortex." (Toronto Star)

"Carbon emission targets delayed by government row" - "The government's strategy to cut carbon dioxide emissions in the battle against climate change has been paralysed for seven months by a dispute between two Whitehall departments." (The Guardian)

Today's chuckle: Nation's Snowmen March Against Global Warming (The Onion)

"The ideas interview: Mark Jaccard" - "Fossil fuels can keep the world going, and they need not be dirty, the energy expert tells John Sutherland." (The Guardian)

"Italy Experts Urge Nuclear Relaunch after Gas Crunch" - "MILAN - Italy needs political will and popular support to relaunch nuclear power, banned nearly 20 years ago, and gain energy independence in the face of gas supply problems, industry experts said on Monday." (Reuters)

"EU Beefs Up Biofuels Strategy to Fight Emissions" - "BRUSSELS - the European Union, seeking to diversify its energy supplies and cut greenhouse gas emissions, is beefing up a strategy to use and produce biofuels, according to a draft paper prepared by the bloc's executive Commission." (Reuters)

"Patch to help mend damaged hearts" - "Scientists in Scotland are developing patches of tissues for use in repairing damaged hearts." (BBC)

"Terminator ban undermined at UN meeting in Spain" - "OTTAWA, Jan. 30 - The National Farmers Union (NFU) of Canada, the National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC) in the United States, and other organizations are concerned that "suicide seeds" may be introduced into the environment through the back door. A worldwide de-facto moratorium on Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURTs - popularly known as "Terminator" technology) was undermined this past week at a United Nations conference in Granada, Spain. Terminator technology is used to create genetically modified seeds which are rendered sterile at harvest." (CNW Telbec)

Misinformation campaign working: "Mali farmers reject GM crops as attack on their way of life" - "Farmers in Mali, the fourth poorest country in the world, have told their government they do not want to see genetically modified crops being grown on their land, after Africa's first "farmers' jury" debated the issue. Their verdict comes as the Mali government decides whether to allow trials of genetically modified crops to begin in the country." (London Independent)

Antibiotechies must be proud - they've managed to queer the debate to the point that an attack on poverty and malnutrition is seen as a bad thing.

"Greece extends GMO maize ban despite EU order" - "ATHENS - Greece on Monday extended a ban on the import and trade of genetically modified maize seeds made by U.S. biotech giant Monsanto, despite a European Union order earlier this month to lift the restriction. Athens said new findings had confirmed "the immediate danger to the environment" from the cultivation of the hybrids with the MON810 genetic modification." (Reuters)

January 30, 2006

Over the weekend the media has been abuzz with claims NASA is trying to censor James Hansen - the "father of Global Warming" (see special "weekend edition" below) - In January, 1999, Hansen wrote The Global Warming Debate

The only way to have real success in science ... is to describe the evidence very carefully without regard to the way you feel it should be. If you have a theory, you must try to explain what's good about it and what's bad about it equally. In science you learn a kind of standard integrity and honesty. — Richard Feynman

In my view, we are not doing as well as we could in the global warming debate. For one thing, we have failed to use the opportunity to help teach the public about how science research works. On the contrary, we often appear to the public to be advocates of fixed adversarial positions. Of course, we can try to blame this on the media and politicians, with their proclivities to focus on antagonistic extremes. But that doesn't really help.

The fun in science is to explore a topic from all angles and figure out how something works. To do this well, a scientist learns to be open-minded, ignoring prejudices that might be imposed by religious, political or other tendencies (Galileo being a model of excellence). Indeed, science thrives on repeated challenge of any interpretation, and there is even special pleasure in trying to find something wrong with well-accepted theory. Such challenges eventually strengthen our understanding of the subject, but it is a never-ending process as answers raise more questions to be pursued in order to further refine our knowledge.

Skepticism thus plays an essential role in scientific research, and, far from trying to silence skeptics, science invites their contributions. So too, the global warming debate benefits from traditional scientific skepticism. ... By James Hansen — January 1999.

So, James Hansen is a supporter of pure science, values scepticism and has no position of advocacy, right? Perhaps not. Consciously or not, Hansen promotes diddled data and actually did so in the above article ostensibly promoting impartial science. Perhaps the most egregious example is the "Common Sense Climate Index" (Hansen et al, 1998) where the front page of the web portal promotes a completely fabricated warming trend (page contains data captured prior to the removal of pre-1880 data from public access). Hansen has a history of embellishment and overstatement and is viewed as squarely in the political advocacy camp. Is NASA "censoring" James Hansen? Somehow we doubt it, although perhaps it would be better for science generally if he were to return to science and refrain from straying into policy. We are a tad dubious that Hansen will abandon advocacy but must admit some curiosity over his raising such a large and smelly red herring now. What's going on Jim, departmental budget review coming up or something?

Do Urban Areas have Larger Long term Temperature Trends than Other Locations? (Climate Science)

Hypotheses about IPCC and Peer Review (Prometheus)

Two Interesting Articles (Prometheus)

"Climate poses increased threat, admits Blair" - "Tony Blair has admitted that the risks of climate change may be more serious than previously thought." (London Independent)

"Curbing climate change 'unlikely'" - "Rising concentrations of greenhouse gases may have more serious impacts than previously believed, a major new scientific report has said. The report, published by the UK government, says there is only a small chance of greenhouse gas emissions being kept below "dangerous" levels. It fears the Greenland ice sheet is likely to melt, leading sea levels to rise by seven metres over 1,000 years." (BBC)

"NASA satellite catches a hurricane transforming itself" - "Hurricanes can completely re-structure themselves inside, and that presents forecasters with great uncertainty when predicting their effects on the general population. Recently, scientists used data from NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite to analyze transformations that take place inside a hurricane. Stephen Guimond, a graduate research assistant at Florida State University, Tallahassee, Fla., lead a study that used TRMM data to view the height at which ice melts near the core of several tropical cyclones (the generic name for hurricanes or tropical storms), including Hurricane Ophelia in 2005." (NASA/GSFC)

"Hurricanes and humans changing Gulf's nature" - "OVER THE NORTHERN GULF COAST -- Last year's record hurricane season didn't just change life for humans. It changed nature, too. Everywhere scientists look, they see disrupted patterns in and along the Gulf of Mexico. Coral reefs, flocks of sea birds, crab- and shrimp-filled meadows and dune-crowned beaches were wrapped up in -- and altered by -- the force of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Dennis. "Nothing's been like this," said Abby Sallenger, a U.S. Geological Survey oceanographer, during a recent flight over the northern Gulf Coast to study shoreline changes." (AP)

"Environmentalists concerned state lawmakers not taking threat of sea-level rise serious enough" - "Children born today in Southwest Florida could live to see a day when the Gulf of Mexico is a foot higher than it is now. That doesn't sound like much, but it would be enough to push back the shoreline about 1,000 feet, putting thousands of residents in a move-it-or-lose-it situation by 2100." (Naples News)

"Standby for standpipes as great drought looms" - "BRITAIN is facing its worst drought for 75 years after one of the driest Januaries on record. Scientists say that it will be worse than the great drought of 1976 when standpipes were introduced in some areas. Most of England and Wales has had less than half the normal rainfall so far this month, after 15 months of meagre rains in southern and eastern regions. Only two months since October 2004 have had above-average rainfall in the South East. Several rivers are approaching their lowest ever flows and groundwater levels in Southeast England are so low that several boreholes are near or at their lowest recorded level." (London Times)

So much for climate change flooding the place.

"INTERVIEW - EU Energy Chief Says Europe Must Cut Consumption" - "DAVOS, Switzerland - Europe's biggest challenge if it wants to reduce future dependency on external energy supplies is to cut oil consumption for transport, EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs told Reuters on Friday." (Reuters)

Must make the Greens proud: "European Cold Snap a Killer for Poor and Homeless" - "SOFIA - A tiny baby was one of the latest victims of a European winter cold snap which has killed more than 100 people and caused chaos from Moscow to Milan. Bulgarian police would not release the name of the six-month old girl from the central town of Stara Zagora, but said her parents told them she died because heat cost too much." (Reuters)

As Greens and misanthropes of all flavours try to price energy out of people's reach, commonly under the banner of 'protecting the environment' and 'saving us from warming', people suffer the inevitable consequences. From fraudulent chemical scares and ridiculous hyperbole over inevitable climatic variation through to 'protect the slightly rusty VW Beetle' or some such campaigns, Greens and so-called environmentalists make every effort to keep people impoverished and prevent them accessing resources. And some people wonder why we are less than enamoured with these murderous ratbags - go figure!

But wait! Simply surrender to the universal dictatorship and all will be well... "UN unveils plan to release untapped wealth of...$7 trillion (and solve the world's problems at a stroke)" - "The most potent threats to life on earth - global warming, health pandemics, poverty and armed conflict - could be ended by moves that would unlock $7 trillion - $7,000,000,000,000 (£3.9trn) - of previously untapped wealth, the United Nations claims today. The price? An admission that the nation-state is an old-fashioned concept that has no role to play in a modern globalised world where financial markets have to be harnessed rather than simply condemned." (London Independent)

"Wind farm risk to low-flying jets" - "A CONTROVERSIAL windfarm planned for one of Scotland's most scenic areas is among developments that pose a potential risk to aircraft safety, aviation chiefs have warned. More than 40 wind turbines over 400ft tall are planned for Lochluichart Estate, near Garve, in the Highlands, making them among the tallest anywhere in the UK. They will be visible from a series of famous mountain ranges including the Fannichs, Torridon and Strathfarrar." (Scotland on Sunday)

"Surge in nuclear power likely" - "The industry may benefit from federal incentives and global warming concerns." (News & Observer)

"Another Nuclear Dawn" - "Nuclear power died in the last century, but things have changed since then. world leaders are now taking a second look at the atom." (Newsweek International)

"A Change in Climate" - "Political worries are driving a nuclear rethink in the West." (Newsweek International)

"China Leaps Forward" - "The people's republic is embarking on the world's biggest nuclear building spree." (Newsweek International)

"What is the real price of cheap air travel?" - "While the rest of us snap up £1.99 flights to Rome, a small but growing band of conscientious objectors are making a stand by refusing to fly. Is this the beginning of the budget travel backlash, asks Tom Robbins." (The Observer)

"Eco warriors find legal way to ground the 4x4 motorist" - "ECO-VIGILANTES across northern Europe are fighting the growing popularity of 4x4s — by letting air out of their tyres. They seem to be getting away with it. Having studied the law, the environmentalists concluded that it was legal if the vehicles sustained no damage. Some claim to have let tyres down in front of police officers. The movement began in Paris late last year and has since spread to other cities in France, Belgium and Holland. Protesters in Italy, Spain and Germany have shown interest in starting similar campaigns. Now British environmentalists, who adopt a gentler approach, are worried that deflating may become a popular tactic in the UK, alienating mainstream supporters." (London Times)

"Backstory: Eco-vigilantes: All in 'The Family?'" - "The indictment of 11 people for 'eco-terrorism' opens a window on environmental extremism." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Measuring the unmeasurable" - "Science requires measurement. But not all measurement is scientific. The newest example is the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), released at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland -- a compilation of data on the alleged state of the environment in 133 countries. Despite the imprimatur of both Yale and Columbia Universities, the index is unable to escape the authors' inevitable subjective influence. The result is more an index of political correctness than a true measure of environmental sustainability." (Oliver Marc, Washington Times)

"Smearing Conservative Writers" - "In a directory of folks who routinely attack environmental propaganda, I am identified as “a public relations advisor and a vitriolic critic of environmentalism.” Source Watch is a project of the Center of Media & Democracy, a left-wing organization that devotes a lot of time to attacking the public relations profession in general and conservative writers in particular." (Alan Caruba, The National Anxiety Center)

"Crackdown on food marketing call" - "Governments must do more to protect children from food marketing in the fight against obesity, an expert says. Professor Philip James, chairman of the International Obesity Task Force, will tell an Italy conference it is time for governments to get tough on regulation." (BBC)

"Contagious obesity? Identifying the human adenoviruses that may make us fat" - "Human adenoviruses may cause human obesity, but more research is needed before a screening test and vaccine become reality. Meanwhile, one researcher advises, 'Eat right, exercise, wash your hands'" (American Physiological Society)

Right... "Pet police, ma'am. Just checking you haven't put the cat out tonight" - "CATS, dogs and other family pets are to have five statutory “freedoms” enshrined in law — and owners who flout the regulations could face jail or a fine of up to £5,000 after a visit from the “pet police.” (London Times)

January 29, 2006 - weekend edition

Conspiracy theory? "Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him" - "The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming. The scientist, James E. Hansen, longtime director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in an interview that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists. Dr. Hansen said he would ignore the restrictions. "They feel their job is to be this censor of information going out to the public," he said.

Dean Acosta, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs at the space agency, said there was no effort to silence Dr. Hansen. "That's not the way we operate here at NASA," Mr. Acosta said. "We promote openness and we speak with the facts." He said the restrictions on Dr. Hansen applied to all National Aeronautics and Space Administration personnel. He added that government scientists were free to discuss scientific findings, but that policy statements should be left to policy makers and appointed spokesmen. Mr. Acosta said other reasons for requiring press officers to review interview requests were to have an orderly flow of information out of a sprawling agency and to avoid surprises. "This is not about any individual or any issue like global warming," he said. "It's about coordination." (New York Times)

Losin' it, Jim? NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) is one of the world's leading AGW promoters, with GISTEMP, which bases it's guesstimations of global mean temperature on the same met. station data as everyone else, usually deriving anomaly figures that are 50%, sometimes 100% higher than other climate research groups and frequently triple that derived by UAH from satellite-mounted MSU data. GISTEMP is basically a product of the Hansen show and differs from other researchers' in that GISS extrapolate temperatures 1,200Km (750 miles) from recording points - some would call that ambitious, others dubious. Regardless, with NASA's GISS vying with EU Greens and misanthropic enviros for the catastrophic AGW cheerleading crown the claim that anyone is censoring the Hansen show strikes us as somewhat bizarre.

"Weather to set record: Climate Change Alleged Cause" - "Mild weather from coast to coast and a record-breaking 2005 point to the effects of climate change, an environmental group says. Fossil fuel pollution is driving the shift in global weather patterns, said Julia Langer, director of World Wildlife Fund Canada's global threats program." (Winnipeg Sun)

"Weather to set record: Don't Get Used To It" - "... Phillips said balmy temperatures have nothing to do with climate change or El Nino. He pinpoints an absence of Arctic air that freezes skin and numbs bones. A polar vortex that usually hovers over the northern Prairies has shifted the cold air to Europe, leaving a void here that's being filled by warm southern air. "We're almost like the no-cold-weather zone," Phillips said. "Almost every day but one since the start of winter has been above normal." That may continue into February and March, but Phillips has this disclaimer: "That vortex could come down into Canada and lock itself in." (Winnipeg Sun)

"Alaskan tundra thaws in warming world" - "Arctic puddles point to melting ice, but their effect is hard to predict." (Nature)

"Clinton: Climate change is the world's biggest worry" - "DAVOS, Switzerland -- Former U.S. President Bill Clinton told corporate chieftains and political bigwigs Saturday that climate change was the world's biggest problem - followed by global inequality and the "apparently irreconcilable" religious and cultural differences behind terrorism." (Associated Press)

"Melting ice starts rush for Arctic resources" - "IT IS covered by thick ice, plunged into darkness for much of the year, and blasted by freezing winds. But the Arctic Ocean is being transformed by global warming from a no-man’s-land into the front line of a scramble for resources. The melting of the ice pack is opening up vast reserves of offshore oil and gas, new shipping routes and fishing grounds, according to experts at the World Economic Forum." (London Times)

"Canada: Future of Kyoto cash, climate plan still in doubt" - "Conservatives' greenhouse-gas policy vague Officials say much of the strategy is `up for review'" (Toronto Star)

Lessons learned from Dr Joseph Goebbels? "Youngster needed as climate czar" - "The search is on for a young climate change czar for the east of England to spend a year spreading the word about greenhouse gas emission dangers." (BBC)

"Research: Pollution Limits Sun in China" - "Air pollution is widespread in China. Antiquated factories billow smoke, many residents still use coal to heat their centuries-old houses, and a sharp increase in car ownership has bathed the motorways in exhaust fumes." (AP)

"Debate on Climate Shifts to Issue of Irreparable Change" - "Now that most scientists agree human activity is causing Earth to warm, the central debate has shifted to whether climate change is progressing so rapidly that, within decades, humans may be helpless to slow or reverse the trend." (Washington Post)

"Me and my motors: David Bellamy" - "‘They call me a global warming heretic,” says David Bellamy, the conservationist who has dismissed the imminent demise of the planet under a tidal wave of melted polar ice caps as “poppycock”.

“I have assured them that they cannot burn me at the stake because of all the dioxins my body will give off.” The bearded botanist emits a hoot at this scientific bon mot, but in truth he isn’t finding his current predicament very funny at all.

Ever since he stuck his head above the undergrowth to question the view that man-made carbon dioxide emissions are responsible for climate change, Bellamy has found himself frozen out of the debate on global warming. Rather than blaming pollutants, he argues that the current change in climate is simply part of an eons-old global cycle; one that humans are as powerless to stop as they are blameless in starting." (The Sunday Times)

"UK's future could be Dan Dare or Mad Max" - "Looking on the bright side the future could be very Dan Dare, according to the experts – pollution-free vehicles gliding around at super-speeds and coming to pick us up at the press of a button on our personal organisers. Or it could be more like the Mad Max films, with the super-rich fighting for petrol, the privileged on horseback and the horizons for most of us shrunk to as far as we can walk or pedal. These are two of the scenarios presented in an unlikely Government discussion document called Intelligent Infrastructure Futures – The Scenarios Towards 2055." (Yorkshire Post)

"Cheap flights threaten UK targets for carbon emissions" - "The boom in foreign travel generated by cheaper air fares and no frills airlines will wreck Britain's attempts to bring climate change under control, environmentalists fear. As the travel industry prepares for record bookings in 2006, green groups expressed concern over the "failure" of the Government to curb the availability of cheap flights that have sent aviation pollution surging. Fumes spewed out by jets are expected to become the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050." (London Independent)

Wrong criticism: "A wrong-way agency" - "FOR TOO LONG, THE EPA HAS BEEN AWOL. Once a proud protector of public well-being, the Environmental Protection Agency has become an agency that too often ignores science and must be dragged into taking even the smallest steps. Even worse, it prevents other public agencies from moving forward with plans to protect the environment." (LA Times)

Usually the EPA is guilty of taking action based on faulty science. In fact, not regulating the essential trace gas, carbon dioxide, is about their only sound science-based decision I can recall off-hand.

"The great Alberta oil rush" - "Canada is a modest and unassuming place when compared with its great big neighbour to the south. But now it has plenty to boast about: world-beating oil reserves in Alberta which are finally being brought into production after decades of talk." (BBC)

"Klein touts coal in province's energy future" - "Premier Ralph Klein is touting coal as the fuel of the future rather than the fuel of the past. He says he wants to turn Alberta into a “global energy centre” in the next 15 years and sees a more environmentally friendly version of today’s coal being a major player." (Edmonton Journal)

"Car firms 'blocking green fuel'" - "Car makers are not doing enough to develop green alternatives to petrol, an influential government adviser says. Japanese companies had a better record than European or American ones, Professor Stephen Blythe said. But the industry had still not grasped the urgency of the problem - despite promoting its green credentials." (BBC)

"Biofuels get mixed review" - "Ethanol does well on efficiency, but only so-so for the environment." (Nature)

"Beetle wood for power generation" - "VICTORIA – A proposal to build a power plant that would burn beetle-killed trees is being considered, Energy Minister Richard Neufeld says. “My understanding is that burning straight wood is an expensive way to generate electricity,” Neufeld said Wednesday. “But there are some consequences to just leaving the wood stand, so we have to look at that in the best interests of British Columbia.” (Black Press)

"Another Chemical Ban For No Reason (the PFOA/Teflon Story)" - "The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and certain activist groups are patting each other on the back now that DuPont and some other companies have "voluntarily" signed onto an EPA program aimed at reducing environmental contamination by the chemical PFOA, used in the manufacture of Teflon and other consumer products." (Gilbert Ross, ACSH)

"More Crazy Teflon Coverage" - "No need to throw out your frying pan, “right now,” says ABC’s Brian Ross." (Trevor Butterworth, STATS)

Phil Landrigan and ex EPA director Bernie Golstein seem to not have their scientific opinions appreciated by the NY state court with their allegedly expert opinions excluded. See .pdf of the court's dismissal.

Zealots? Nah... "Action on Smoking and Health Encourages Firing of All Smokers" - "According to a press release issued by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), a Washington, D.C.-based anti-smoking organization: "firing smokers is an appropriate and very effective way to stop burdening the great majority of employees who wisely chose not to smoke with the enormous unnecessary costs of smoking by their fellow employees." (Michael Siegel, Tobacco Analysis)

"New EPA Rule Will Allow Consideration of Some Human Pesticide Data" - "Thanks in part to an open letter/petition co-authored by ACSH and the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI, a DC-based free-market think tank), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has decided to consider data gleaned from strictly-controlled studies involving human volunteers instead of relying solely on animal testing. Excluded from this new regulation will be children and pregnant women, except for a very few observational studies that have already been completed. A new board is also to be established that will evaluate planned human studies for adherence to these new, rigid ethical guidelines." (Gilbert Ross, ACSH)

"Landmark asbestos ruling expected to save underwriters £1.4bn" - "People who have been exposed to asbestos but are not suffering from any illness should not receive compensation, the Court of Appeal said yesterday in a landmark ruling that over-turned an earlier High Court judgment. The court said pleural plaques - small, flat discs formed on the membrane between the lungs and the ribcage, which show exposure to asbestos fibres - are "neither visible, nor symptomatic" and "in no way impairs the bodily functions." (London Telegraph)

Book promo masquerading as a scare: "Bird flu nightmare needs wake-up call " - " YEARS ago when I first started studying the avian influenza virus H5N1, it seemed highly unlikely that it would ever develop into pandemic status. I believed it might eventually trigger a conventional bout of flu, but certainly nothing to the degree of its H1N1 ancestor, the 1918 Spanish Flu that killed 50 to 100 million people." (Evening News)

"Trial to test asthma salt theory" - "Scientists are to test the hypothesis that eating less salt can help people with asthma control their symptoms. Recent studies have suggested people with asthma who eat a lot of salt can benefit from cutting their consumption." (BBC)

"Globalisation Raises Globalised Risks - Study" - "DAVOS, Switzerland - Globalisation has increased the danger of catastrophes spreading quickly across the world and causing more harm, a study prepared for the World Economic Forum warned on Thursday. As an example, it cited a bird flu pandemic, which it said was currently the biggest threat facing the planet." (Reuters)

"All is silent down at the pond" - "Conservationists are mistaken, argues Professor Tim Halliday in this week's Green Room; many animals and plants cannot be saved from extinction, and the job of conservation scientists is to document them as they disappear." (BBC)

"Rain gardens 'cut city pollution'" - "Rain gardens" can dramatically cut the amount of pollution in urban storm water, according to a study by US researchers. Most of the rain that falls on cities lands on impervious surfaces, such as roads, where it absorbs pollutants before it finally drains away. The team says a shallow depression in a garden containing bark mulch and shrubs can remove up to 99% of toxins. The findings appear in the journal Environmental Science and Technology." (BBC)

"Poor Nations Complain Not All Charity Reaches Victims" - "Some foreign governments have begun to criticize international aid agencies for the way they raise and spend money, echoing the demands of many American donors that a larger part of their charitable gifts be used for the purposes for which they were originally intended.

The health minister of Niger fired the opening salvo at the end of the year, charging that some international aid groups had overstated the extent of the hunger crisis in his drought- and locust-ravaged country as part of a strategy to raise money for their own purposes.

"We will not allow any NGO or any other organization to manage funds behind our backs and make publicity, propaganda even, to raise money," said Aby Ibrahim, the Niger minister, referring to nongovernmental organizations by the international shorthand by which they are known, Reuters reported." (New York Times)

"Potato-loving Ireland mulls test of GMO spuds" - "DUBLIN - Ireland, Europe's biggest per capita consumer of potatoes, is weighing a proposal by German chemicals group BASF to grow varieties that have been genetically modified to resist disease. BASF asked the Environment Protection Agency this week to approve a field trial of several strains of GMO potato that are resistant to blight, the cause of the Irish potato famine that killed one million people and forced two million to leave the island in 1845." (Reuters)

"WTO Decision on EU Biotech Moratorium Expected Soon, U.S. Says" - "Washington -- January 26, 2006 - A preliminary decision by a WTO panel on the U.S. challenge to the European Union's moratorium on approvals for crops derived from biotechnology is expected around February 1, a U.S. trade official says." (Washington File)

January 27, 2006

"FDA May Make Breathing Difficult for Asthmatics" - "The government may tell asthmatics to 'take a hit' for the environment. But that 'hit' won't be from their inhalers, which might be taken away." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Prion disease found lurking in deer muscle" - "The infectious prions that cause Chronic Wasting Disease, an infection similar to BSE that afflicts North American deer and elk have been found in the parts of the animals that people eat. No one knows if CWD can jump to humans, but if it does hunters in affected areas might be at risk." (NewScientist.com news service)

"Is the Cell Phone Scare Finally Over?" - "Thirteen years ago, writing in Investor's Business Daily, I was the first reporter in the country to present evidence that cell phones have no link to brain cancer – in direct contrast to numerous television and radio shows, and hundreds of related articles in the U.S. and worldwide. Now the largest study ever on the issue has been released and it finds . . . cell phones have no link to brain cancer." (Michael Fumento, Townhall)

"Wyoming cloud seeding experiment begins this month" - "A five-year, $8.8 million pilot project to examine whether seeding clouds with silver iodide produces a measurable increase in snowfall over Wyoming's Medicine Bow, Sierra Madre, and Wind River mountain ranges starts this month with intensive observations of Wyoming snow clouds. Scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) designed the experiment to evaluate a technique that has been mired in controversy for decades." (NCAR/UCAR)

"Not Sexy, But Necessary" - "TOKYO -- While most people think of NASA as an agency that puts men into space and robot vehicles on Mars, Earth observations have also been an important part of its claim to fame. Especially after James Hansen’s 1988 congressional testimony, which brought global warming fully into the nation’s consciousness, NASA has been a dominant provider of Earth-observation science data from a variety of satellites." (Dr. Roy Spencer, TCS Daily)

Right... "Nightmare vision of a world 200 years on" - "ONE of Britain's leading environmentalists will today sound a doomsday warning to the world: humanity's very existence is under threat from climate change and, even if we survive, the population will crash to about a third of its current level. Sir Crispin Tickell, the man who convinced former prime minister Margaret Thatcher that global warming was a real problem, predicts that, in 200 years, there could be as few as 2.3 billion people because rising sea levels and temperatures will make some areas uninhabitable and, coupled with social factors, depress birth rates. But he also says our survival is "not guaranteed" and that the presence of humans on the planet could be "no more than a somewhat messy episode in the history of the Earth." (The Scotsman)

"Study: Global Warming May Raise Sea Levels" - "BANGKOK, Thailand -- Global warming will cause sea levels to rise up to 34 centimeters (11 inches) by the end of the century, causing increased flooding and coastal erosion, according to a new study by Australian researchers. The study -- published in this month's issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters -- said global warming was expected to further heat up the world's oceans and cause glaciers in the Himalayas and ice sheets in Greenland to melt. The study estimated sea levels would increase between 28 centimeters (11 inches) to 34 centimeters (13 inches) by 2100." (AP)

"Global warming 'to cloak Wales in ice'" - "MASSIVE ice sheets will develop on high land across Wales, according to a scientist who predicts our climate will get colder, not warmer. Despite predictions global warming will lead to a more Mediterranean-style climate, the Welsh glaciologist said environmental changes could see Wales plunged into freezing temperatures. Previously, scientists have said climate change would lead to higher average temperatures in high latitude areas such as Britain, with rises of up to 8C. Glaciologist Dr Bryn Hubbard believes past experience proves this will not happen." (Western Mail)

Climate Model Problems in Representing Near-Surface Temperatures at Night (Climate Science)

"Will Kyoto die at Canadian hands?" - "When the history of the Kyoto Protocol comes to be written, Canada will appear as a particularly influential figure in the narrative." (BBC)

"Formal withdrawal from Kyoto seen as unlikely, ignoring targets" - "OTTAWA - Longtime Conservative environment critic Bob Mills says Canada should consider remaining in the Kyoto Protocol while participating in parallel climate-change efforts led by the United States and the G8. Mills emphasized he can't speak for the new government, but his views might carry weight given his connections with the Conservative caucus, the oil industry and the environmental community. He suggested Canada could follow the example of Japan, which is active in three parallel efforts to cut global greenhouse emissions: the Kyoto Protocol, the U.S.-led Asia-Pacific partnership and a G8 offshoot known as G8+5. "This is obviously a feasible option and we should look at that," he said in an interview Thursday." (CP)

"Gutting Kyoto" - "Thanks to the Montreal talks, penalties have become discretionary and emissions reductions have become merely foreign aid." (Christopher C. Horner, Financial Post)

"Cameron helps launch climate change alliance" - "David Cameron's drive to reinvent the Conservative Party as the conservationist's friend went a step further when five political parties, including the Tories, combined for an unusual display of unity over tackling climate change." (London Independent)

"Emissions targets for forests" - "Scotland's forestry sector will be required to meet emission targets to aid the fight against global warming, deputy environment minister Rhona Brankin announced. Ministers will also take action to generate more biomass energy from wood and crops to cut back on the burning of fossil fuels." (Press Association)

"Impact of global warming / Climate shifts affect farming" - "This is the fourth installment of Part 1 of The Yomiuri Shimbun's "Environmental Challenges" series. Part 1 mainly covers problems involving global climate change." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

"Ministries, NPA feud over 'stop idling' measure in eco-driving campaign" - "The government's key weapon in its "eco-driving" campaign has come under attack from the National Police Agency (NPA) as a dangerous measure that will put the lives of motorists at risk. The environment and economy ministries argue that the measure--pushing drivers to turn off their engines at traffic signals--would act as an ace in the hole in the battle against global warming and help Japan to achieve its carbon dioxide reduction target under the Kyoto Protocol. But Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association Inc. (JAMA) has started an opposition campaign, saying that air-bag systems will not activate if a car is struck while its engine is shut down." (Asahi Shimbun)

"Green fuel 'not enough' to cut transport pollution" - "Environmentally friendly vehicles using hydrogen-based fuels and hybrid power sources will have little impact in preventing "dangerous and irreversible pollution" within 15 years, according to a long-delayed government-funded study. Even if green vehicles become commonplace, Britain's seemingly insatiable appetite for travel will cancel out benefits and critically pollute the air, concluded a group of scientists and academics." (The Guardian)

"I’m Proud to Be a Coal Miner’s Grandson" - "To hear Senators Byrd and Rockefeller speak, one would think that the coal mining industry in this country is one of the major sources of death in the US. They might be surprised to hear that, while 28 miners died in accidents on the job in 2004, so did 27 top executives. The recent small cluster of mining deaths in two incidents has led to a legislative reaction out of all proportion to the scale of the problem. Mining is already about as safe as such an inherently dangerous activity can be." (Iain Murray, TCS Daily)

"Hawaii's Energy Problems" - "The concepts of energy are difficult to appreciate and the generation of electrical energy is more so. We expect our leaders to be astute on energy issues, to appreciate the crucial roles of reliable electricity, and be wise and aggressive in sustaining future reliable energy supplies in Hawaii." (Michael R. Fox, Hawaii Reporter)

"Energy gap: Crisis for humanity?" - "It is perhaps too early to talk of an energy "crisis". But take your pick from terms like "serious concern" and "major issue" and you will not be far from the positions which analysts are increasingly adopting." (BBC)

"Ethanol could reduce fossil fuel need -study" - "WASHINGTON, Jan 26 - Ethanol -- alcohol produced from corn or other plants -- is more energy-efficient than some experts had realized and it is time to start developing it as an alternative to fossil fuels, researchers said on Thursday. While some critics have said the push for ethanol is based on faulty science and mostly benefits the farm lobby, several reviews and commentaries published in Friday's issue of the journal Science argue otherwise." (Reuters)

"Interest Revives Worldwide In Nuclear Energy" - "Nuclear power, the long-time foe of the environmental movement, is returning to favour in many countries where issues of energy dependency and the rising cost of fossil fuels are driving policy changes." (AFP)

"Study warning over nuclear waste" - "Opponents of nuclear power have seized on an initial report which indicates that a solution to managing radioactive waste may be some way off." (BBC)

"US may overturn nuclear fuel reprocessing ban" - "Signs that the US could be about to overturn a 30-year ban on nuclear fuel reprocessing have been greeted with alarm by environmentalists worried about the dangers of spreading plutonium around the world." (NewScientist.com news service)

"The next generation of nuclear power?" - "South Africa and China are moving forward with nuclear energy based on what scientists believe is a safer design." (ES&T)

"Russia plans to put a mine on the Moon to help boost energy supply" - "Russia has staked out plans to recapture its Soviet-era space-race glory and start mining the Moon for a promising energy resource that scientists say could meet the Earth's power needs for more than a thousand years." (London Independent)

Not blue but black sky thinking. What odds enviros will want to ban the importation of nuclear materials to Earth?

"RSPB blames deaths of rare eagles on turbines" - "Wind turbines have caused the death of four rare, white-tailed eagles on islands off the Norwegian coast, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said yesterday. The failure of as many as 30 other white-tailed eagles to return to breeding areas has added to concerns about the impact of wind farms on wildlife. Europe's largest eagle is found on the island of Smola, Norway. The birds have also begun returning to the Western Isles and Highlands of Scotland. The dead birds were discovered between August and December. Two had been sliced in half, apparently by a rotating blade." (The Guardian)

Lester... "A new world order" - "China now consumes more of the Earth's resources than the US. Lester R Brown examines the consequences should its population devour at the American rate, and how growth is viable within our planet's boundaries." (The Guardian)

"Big fears about science of the tiny" - "Science-fiction fears about nanotechnology – “grey goo” or “killer dust” taking over the world as molecular machines replicate out of control – are receding. But more down-to-earth concerns about toxicity of man-made nanoparticles are intensifying, as nanotechnology stands on the brink of large-scale commercialisation." (Financial Times)

January 26, 2006

Retread of the day: "A New Alarm Sounds for Amphibians" - "Frogs exposed to a mix of pesticides at extremely low concentrations like those widely found around farms suffer deadly infections, suggesting that the chemicals could be a major culprit in the global disappearance of amphibians, UC Berkeley scientists reported Tuesday." (Marla Cone, LA Times)

Freaky-Frog Fraud; Freaky Frogs Not Linked With Herbicide, Says EPA

"EPA wants non-stick cookware compound level reduced" - "NEW YORK - U.S. environmental regulators asked companies on Wednesday to voluntarily commit to reduce releases of a potentially hazardous compound used to make non-stick cookware by 95 percent by 2010. Under what it calls a global stewardship program, the Environmental Protection Agency is asking producers of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), to slash releases and levels of the compound in products by 95 percent, using 2000 as the basis year." (Reuters)

"US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing on Malaria" - "On January 19, the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held a hearing on bilateral malaria assistance. Read the proceedings here." (AFM)

California, where else? "Secondhand smoke again an issue in Calif. - Regulators debating link to breast cancer" - "SAN FRANCISCO — California regulators will decide today whether to accept a controversial new finding that secondhand smoke causes breast cancer, a decision that could lead to even tougher anti-smoking regulations. The state's Environmental Protection Agency analyzed recent studies and determined that secondhand smoke causes an average 68% increase in breast cancer risk for women younger than 50. Some women who have not reached menopause have as much as a 120% higher risk, CalEPA's report found." (USA TODAY)

"Sponge Bob, Wide Pants?" - "The assault has begun: Consumer interest groups and others are on the road to outlawing food advertising, based on a scientifically flawed and politically motivated Institute of Medicine study." (John Luik, TCS Daily)

"Drink firms tackle child obesity" - "Global drinks firms, including Coca-Cola and Cadbury Schweppes, have unveiled a European initiative aimed at tackling the problem of obese children. Unesda, the Union of European Beverages Associations, said it would limit youth advertising, control sales in schools and improve nutritional labels." (BBC)

"The Diabetes Legend" - "In a previous essay, I pointed out the pervasiveness of folk Marxism -- the belief that political economy can be explained in terms of classes of oppressors and oppressed. Along those lines, Ian Urbina's article turns the disease of diabetes into a folk Marxist legend. The oppressor health care suppliers mistreat the disease, because they earn more profits from expensive operations than preventive medicine. The oppressor health insurance industry is on the side of the health care suppliers. The only friend of the oppressed diabetes patient is the liberal politician." (Arnold Kling, TCS)

"Greens Urge Move Away from 'Doom and Gloom' Approach" - "London - In a bid to restore popularity to the green movement, a coalition of British environmental groups declared this week that it was time for new attitudes and tactics. Speaking at the launch of an inaugural "Green-Engage" report, written by dozens of "key thinkers" in academia and politics, activists conceded they had achieved limited successes in winning over the general public or understanding how ordinary people think. Hence there was a need, they said, to move beyond a "doom and gloom" theme favored by their core audience, in order to bring about a mass swing in behavior world-wide." (CNSNews.com)

"Satellites show Amazon parks, indigenous reserves stop forest clearing" - "Conservation scientists generally agree that many types of protected areas will be needed to protect tropical forests. However, little is known about the comparative performance of inhabited and uninhabited reserves in slowing the most extreme form of forest disturbance: conversion to agriculture. In a paper recently published in Conservation Biology (2006, Vol 20, pages 65-73), an international team of scientists, led by Daniel Nepstad of the Woods Hole Research Center and the Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia, use satellite data to demonstrate, for the first time, that rainforest parks and indigenous territories halt deforestation and forest fires." (Woods Hole Research Center)

"The Mis-Education of a Swedish Scientist" - "As I walked through the corridors of the chemistry department at Chalmers University of Technology one last time, minutes after having completed my last assignment leading to a Masters Degree in biotechnology, I noticed a poster on the door:" (Nima Sanandaji, TCS Daily)

"NJIT Solar Physicists Report Paradox in Eos: Less Sunlight, But Temps Rise" - "Less sunlight reaching the Earth’s surface has not translated into cooler temperatures, according to a team of solar physicists at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). The scientists, who monitor the Earth’s reflectance by measuring what is known as the moon’s earthshine, have observed that the amount of light reflected by Earth — its albedo — has increased since 2000. The result has been less sunlight reaching the Earth’s surface." (Press Release)

"Empirical evidence for a nonlinear effect of galactic cosmic rays on clouds" - "Galactic cosmic ray changes have been suggested to affect weather and climate, and new evidence is presented here directly linking galactic cosmic rays with clouds. Clouds increase the diffuse solar radiation, measured continuously at UK surface meteorological sites since 1947. The ratio of diffuse to total solar radiation – the diffuse fraction - is used to infer cloud, and is compared with the daily mean neutron count rate measured at Climax, Colorado from 1951-2000, which provides a globally-representative indicator of cosmic rays. Across the UK, on days of high cosmic ray flux (above 3600´102 neutron counts.hr-1, which occur 87% of the time on average) compared with low cosmic ray flux, (1) the chance of an overcast day increases by (19 ± 4) %, and (2) the diffuse radiation fraction increases by (2 ± 0.3) %. During sudden transient reductions in cosmic rays (e.g. Forbush events), simultaneous decreases occur in the diffuse fraction. The diffuse radiation changes are therefore unambiguously due to cosmic rays. Although the statistically significant non-linear cosmic ray effect is small, it will have a considerably larger aggregate effect on longer timescale (e.g. century) climate variations when day-to-day variability averages out." (University of Reading)

"Of mice, men, trees and the global carbon cycle" - "MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL- A team led by a University of Minnesota researcher has found a universal rule that regulates the metabolism of plants of all kinds and sizes and that may also offer a key to calculating their carbon dioxide emissions, a number that must be known precisely in order to construct valid models of global carbon dioxide cycling. Emissions of the gas occur in both plants and animals through the process of respiration; Peter Reich, a professor of forest resources, and his colleagues have found that plant emissions can be deduced from the nitrogen content of any plant. The study also reveals that the respiration, or metabolic, rates of plants and animals follow different laws of scaling with respect to body size. The work will be published in the Jan. 26 issue of the journal Nature." (University of Minnesota)

Say what? "Mercury rises, record may fall" - "EDMONTON - Edmonton tied a 104-year-old record high Tuesday and is poised to break a 72-year-old record today. The mercury at the Edmonton International Airport reached 7.8 C on Tuesday afternoon, matching a mark set in 1892 and repeated in 1934. But today, meteorologists are forecasting a daytime high of 10 C, which would best the 7.2 C recorded in 1934.

Kulak added that this phenomenon is consistent with the theories of global warming, but wouldn't say that is the culprit for the current conditions." (Edmonton Journal)

If this lofty number was attained in 1892 and 1934, what makes it "consistent with the theories of global warming" now?

"Germany's oaks 'could die out'" - "Germany's once magnificent forests are feeling the effects of climate change, with one in every two oak trees officially sick, researchers said yesterday. A report says the state of the nation's forests has improved marginally since last year but that oaks are dying off at an alarming rate." (The Guardian)

"Impact of global warming / Reefs suffer from change" - "This is the third installment of Part 1 of a series titled "Environmental Challenges." Part 1 mainly covers problems involving global climate change." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

Smarter people: "Time changes modern human's face" - "Researchers have found that the shape of the human skull has changed significantly over the past 650 years. Modern people possess less prominent features but higher foreheads than our medieval ancestors." (BBC)

20% increase in cranial vault height from Little Ice Age to Modern Warm Period? Wow! This global warming thing makes people smarter eh?

or not... "PG&E Proposes Program to Give Customers an Opportunity to Help the Environment by Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions" - "Pacific Gas and Electric Company has submitted a proposal to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for a new and innovative environmental program that will allow interested customers to contribute toward a cleaner California. This voluntary program would be available to most of PG&E's residential and business customers." (PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX)

A search for relevance? "Consensus sought on global warming" - "The Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and nationalist parties are today launching a joint call for action on climate change. In an unusual move, the four parties are set to unveil details of their "cross-party consensus" on how to address the threat posed by a warming planet." (ePolitix)

"Eroding Support for Shareowner Resolutions on Climate Change Revealed by Unpublished Data" - "In part three of this multi-part article, SocialFunds.com examines unpublished data associated with a recent report on mutual fund proxy voting from The Corporate Library, and finds decreasing support for climate change resolutions." (SocialFunds.com)

"New Industry-Government Body Officially Launched To Help UK Fight Climate Change And Address Skills Gap" - "Finding and developing new technologies to reduce carbon emissions and taking steps to bridge an ever-growing skills gap in the energy industry will be high on the agenda of a new public-private body launched today.

The Energy Research Partnership (ERP) brings together top energy industry executives, Whitehall officials and senior academics in a Treasury-inspired initiative designed to give strategic direction to UK energy research, development, demonstration and deployment." (GNN)

"Could your lawn keep your home warm?" - "An environmentally friendly and low-cost heating system could drastically reduce the nation's reliance on fossil fuels." (The Guardian)

"Nuclear Energy Plan Would Use Spent Fuel" - "The Bush administration is preparing a plan to expand civilian nuclear energy at home and abroad while taking spent fuel from foreign countries and reprocessing it, in a break with decades of U.S. policy, according to U.S. and foreign officials briefed on the initiative." (Washington Post)

"Canadian Company Gives It All for Glacier Mining Site" - "BROOKLIN, Canada, Jan 25 - The controversial, billion-dollar Pascua-Lama gold mine project, located on the Chile-Argentina border and requiring the removal of Andean glaciers, may begin construction this year despite strong opposition from environmentalists." (Tierramérica)

"Stick to the Knitting" - "In the 1982 business classic, “In Search of Excellence”, Tom Peters deduced that “Stick to the knitting” (stay with the business you know) was a key management concept for success in business. Unfortunately, it never became a management standard in the multilateral NGO sector. “Paddle in other peoples’ ponds” has been their mantra. And we have seen the cost.

UN officials are not commodity traders, but they decided to trade oil and the Oil for Food fiasco was the result. The core business of WTO officials is to manage trade rules. Yet Trade Ministers have now decided the WTO should get into the business of economic management. This is cause for real concern." (Alan Oxley, TCS Daily)

"Seipp’s Snipe: Bad business." - "When I lost my column with the Scripps Howard News Service, I knew many liberals would be dancing in the streets. I knew they'd take the charges against me in Business Week's "news analysis," false as they were, and distort them further to make a ho-hum story (the mainstream media virtually ignored it) into "The Scandal of the Century!" What I didn't know was that the most malicious and false attack would appear on NRO." Michael Fumento, NRO)

"Global cereal initiative promises long term benefits" - "A new scientific programme promises to transform the development of the planet's three most important crops: rice, wheat and maize.

The joint venture between the new lab at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) in Mexico and the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) aims to reduce the time needed to develop new crop varieties and benefit other crops that have not yet received significant research investment." (Food Navigator)

"Brazil to taste sweet success" - "THE end of EU subsidies for sugar processors is bad news for the 54% of European consumers who fear GM foods. We will end up getting our sugar from Brazil, and when the giant South American agri-exporter commercialises GM sugar-cane, we will be stuck with genetically modified material to sweeten our tea. Free trade in sugar means “a race to the bottom”, with development of transgenic cane likely to determine whether Brazil or Australia dominates world sugar trading." (Irish Examiner)

"S. African farmers weigh pros and cons of GMO crops" - "BOTHAVILLE, South Africa, Jan 25 - South African farmer Andre Kilian sees plenty of advantages to genetically modified (GMO) crops, making him a rare voice on a continent where the technology has struggled to find favour." (Reuters)

"'Suicide Seeds' Could Spell Death of Peasant Agriculture, UN Meeting Told" - "UNITED NATIONS, Jan 25 - Groups fighting for the rights of peasant communities are stepping up pressure on governments to ban the use of genetically modified ''suicide seeds'' at UN-sponsored talks on biodiversity in Spain this week." (OneWorld)

January 25, 2006

"Gore to publish book on global warming" - "NEW YORK - Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore's second book about global warming will be published in April with the title "An Inconvenient Truth," his publisher Rodale Books said on Tuesday." (Reuters)

The inconvenient truth for Al is that he will not engage in any serious discussion of the science.

"Holes seen in woodpecker claim" - "In the strongest published criticism yet of claims for the sighting of the ivory-billed woodpecker in Arkansas in 2004, an ornithologist who was not involved in the search has called claims for proof of the bird's existence "faith-based ornithology." (New York Times)

"Africa Needs Bed Nets Not Advisers - UN Adviser" - "DAKAR - Africa needs practical help such as medicine and fertilisers to beat poverty, not more advisers from rich nations, a top economist and UN adviser said on Tuesday. Jeffrey Sachs, a special adviser to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said donor countries needed to fulfil aid pledges if they were to curb the suffering of millions of Africans by boosting food production or fighting killer diseases. "Africa does not need more consultants, it needs more bed nets, more anti-malaria medicines, more fertiliser. It needs very practical things," Sachs told a news conference in the Senegalese capital Dakar." (Reuters)

Particularly Lame column: "Gutted EPA fails to protect kids" - "It should come as no surprise that Tom DeLay, a former pest exterminator, and a lobbyist representing some of the world's most powerful industries are linked to the corruption of our political system. A remarkable and historical example of their motivation has been the crippling of regulatory agencies authorized to protect human health and the environment. In the 1960s, the pesticide manufacturers and the pest-control industry, on whose products and services the American farmer and public had become dependent, were caught unaware.  Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" had exposed the involuntary environmental health risks associated with pesticide use. The truth of "Silent Spring" gave rise to the widespread questioning of our dependence on pesticides, eventually our nation's environmental protection laws and the EPA." (Arizona Daily Star)

"DDT likely once again to lead war against malaria" - "The insecticide DDT which has saved millions of lives may once again be the hero of the day - thanks largely to the efforts of the Kill Malarial Mosquitoes Now (KMMN) campaign!" (AFM)

"Terrorists, by Any Name" - "Osama bin Laden's latest tape was such big news last week that its coverage swamped some other major terror news: that the Bush Administration has rounded up some of America's most dangerous domestic terrorists.

The Justice Department on Friday released a 65-count indictment against 11 members of an animal-rights and ecoterrorism outfit that for more than four years had spread violence and destruction across five Western states. Using fire and explosives, the individuals stand accused of targeting ranger stations, animal-holding facilities, lumber companies, timber farms, a ski resort and even a police department. Eight have been detained; another three are believed to be hiding outside the country." (The Wall Street Journal)

"Can you catch cancer?" - "In the early 1980s, US doctors began to notice a strange phenomenon. A rare form of cancer, once confined to elderly Jewish men in Europe, was suddenly cropping up among young gay men. The explanation? By catching a new virus, called HIV, they were also developing cancer. Now doctors believe that other infections, even simple coughs and colds, can trigger everything from childhood leukaemia to cervical cancer. Should we be worried? Sarah Boseley investigates." (The Guardian)

"Obesity-related disease 'huge' health burden" - "NEW YORK - Obesity is associated with a broad range of fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular events, Scottish and Australian researchers report. "That's a potentially huge public health problem and burden on the health care system," senior investigator Dr. John J. V. McMurray told Reuters Health. "Of course, our focus was just on cardiovascular disease and not the other problems also associated with obesity -- including cancer." (Reuters Health)

"May Cause Anxiety (in Lawyers)" - "Anyone who's tried to read a drug label in recent years knows it can be an exercise in frustration. Never mind the small print. The labels are so full of warnings about negligible risks that it can be hard to discern what risks and interactions are really significant. Even doctors can be confused, no doubt contributing to some deaths and injuries from medical errors.

So you might think everyone would welcome the Food and Drug Administration's latest initiative to tackle the problem by requiring simplified labels with the most important information prominently displayed. But not some Democrats on Capitol Hill, who are so dependent on their trial-lawyer donors that they are fighting to preserve the current climate of uncertainty and confusion.

"A typical abuse by the Bush Administration," said Ted Kennedy after the announcement last week of the FDA's new labeling rule. House Democrat Maurice Hinchey said the FDA had "gone to bat for the drug industry." He is threatening legislative action. And of course the lawyer (er, "consumer") advocates at Ralph Nader's Public Citizen piled on." (The Wall Street Journal)

"Studies examine withholding of scientific data among researchers, trainees: Relationships with industry, competitive environments associated with research secrecy" - "Open sharing of information is a basic principle of the scientific process, but it is well known that secrecy has become a fact of life in academic science. Several studies have described how researchers may withhold the results of their studies from other scientists or deny them access to data or materials. In two new reports, researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Institute for Health Policy examine a broader range of withholding behaviors among life scientists than previously reported and describe how data withholding is affecting researchers in several fields during their training years. The papers appear in the February 2006 issue of Academic Medicine." (Massachusetts General Hospital)

"Future of Oceans, Coasts, Small Island States in Conference Spotlight" - "PARIS, France, January 24, 2006 - Coral reefs and mangroves are fast disappearing, according to a United Nations report released today at an oceans conference that takes place just once every three years. Close to a third of corals have gone, with 60 percent expected to be lost by 2030. More than a third of all mangroves have disappeared, with the rate of loss greater than that of tropical rainforests." (ENS)

"Moose populations exploding across the West - Migration south puzzles experts" - "Global warming and development are driving certain animal species north in search of cooler temperatures and undisturbed land, but the Shiras' moose, native to the Rocky Mountains and parts of southern and western Canada, is taking an opposite path. "They've been moving southward along the Rocky Mountains and presently are migrating farther and farther to the west," said Dale Toweill, trophy species coordinator for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the state's moose program supervisor." (Idaho Mountain Express)

PC: "2005 was warmest year on record: NASA" - "WASHINGTON - Last year was the warmest recorded on Earth's surface, and it was unusually hot in the Arctic, U.S. space agency NASA said on Tuesday." (Reuters) | 2005 was the warmest year in a century (NASA/GSFC)

Not PC: "Climate unchanged in India for 125 years" - "PUNE: There has been no real climate change in India for the past 125 years if one looks at the meteorological data of this period, distinguished professor Vasant Gowariker, said." (PTI)

"Intercomparison of the northern hemisphere winter mid-latitude atmospheric variability of the IPCC models" (.pdf) - "We compare, for the overlapping time frame 1962-2000, the estimate of the northern hemisphere (NH) mid-latitude winter atmospheric variability within the XX century simulations of 17 global climate models (GCMs) included in the IPCC-4AR with the NCEP and ECMWF reanalyses. We compute the Hayashi spectra of the 500hPa geopotential height fields and introduce an integral measure of the variability observed in the NH on different spectral sub-domains. Only two high-resolution GCMs have a good agreement with reanalyses. Large biases, in most cases larger than 20%, are found between the wave climatologies of most GCMs and the reanalyses, with a relative span of around 50%. The travelling baroclinic waves are usually overestimated, while the planetary waves are usually underestimated, in agreement with previous studies performed on global weather forecasting models. When comparing the results of various versions of similar GCMs, it is clear that in some cases the vertical resolution of the atmosphere and, somewhat unexpectedly, of the adopted ocean model seem to be critical in determining the agreement with the reanalyses. The GCMs ensemble is biased with respect to the reanalyses but is comparable to the best 5 GCMs. This study suggests serious caveats with respect to the ability of most of the presently available GCMs in representing the statistics of the global scale atmospheric dynamics of the present climate and, a fortiori, in the perspective of modelling climate change." (arXiv.org)

"Tree methane reports just a lot of silly season gas?" - "A forest growers group is complaining that explosive new research showing trees contribute up to 30 per cent of the world's methane -- the second most damaging greenhouse gas and 20 times more efficient at trapping heat, kilo for kilo, than CO2 -- has been widely misinterpreted." (NBR)

There's nothing wrong with the study, per se, but most reporters do seem clueless on what to make of it. AGW advocates want to to try to bury the study fearing it as some kind of 'get out of jail free' card for anthropogenic effect - which it most assuredly is not. What it does is explain more of the atmospheric puzzle, which is a very good thing, and highlights yet again that GCMs are woefully inadequate when applied to forecasting since they do not represent a sufficiently complex worldview (they're not supposed to, they are process models), also a very good thing because there has been a dreadful tendency over the last decade or two to treat model run output as the equivalent of observed data (which it definitely is not). So, not silly season gas but a very useful study helping to quantify and explain earlier and then puzzling observations.

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

CO 2 Science's Medieval Warm Period Project: We introduce an important new feature of our website that will grow in scope and significance with each succeeding issue.

Subject Index Summaries:
Climate Models (Inadequacies - Clouds): How well do the climate models that have formed the basis for the last decade of climate alarmism simulate important cloud properties and their climatic impacts?

Glomalin: The production of a recently recognized exudate of symbiotic fungi associated with the roots of 80% of all vascular plants is significantly enhanced by atmospheric CO 2 enrichment, resulting in a host of biological benefits.

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Jaragua, a mixed community of White Clover and Buffalo Grass, a Shortgrass steppe in NE Colorado, and spruce.

Journal Reviews:
Urban Heat Islands of Coastal Tropical Cities: They appear to have grown rapidly with expanding populations over the past three decades.

Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region of North America: Two independent proxy records, one related to temperature and one to moisture, combine to provide powerful evidence for the millennial-scale oscillation of climate that is likely responsible for the current climatic state of the planet.

Primary Productivity in a Southern Chilean Fjord: How has it responded to the "twin evils" (rising atmospheric CO 2 concentration and temperature) of the radical environmentalist movement?

CO 2 Impact on the Water Use Efficiency of Carrots: How significant is it?

Leaf Carbohydrate Metabolism Enzymes: Are They Up- or Down-Regulated by Increased CO 2 and Temperature?: What is the answer?  And why should we care? (co2science.org)

"Nuclear power is safe and cheap" - "The Energy Information Administration forecasts a 50 percent increase in electric power demand by 2025. Though the nation's air is much cleaner than it was 30 years ago, greenhouse gas emissions keep rising, due in part to the increased use of fossil fuels in electric production. It is time for a different approach, with more nuclear power." (Robert Galagher, News Journal)

"Mountaintop Coal Mining Would be Safer, Some Say" - "WASHINGTON - With the US Congress looking into the safety of coal mining after 12 workers were killed at a West Virginia mine this month, some in the industry have argued that mountaintop removal of coal is safer than sending people underground for it." (Reuters)

"Sea energy 'could help power UK'" - "Wave and tidal power can provide a fifth of the UK's electricity needs, according to a new report. The Carbon Trust, which helps firms develop low-emission technologies, urges the government to increase support for wave and tidal concepts." (BBC)

"Italy to Present Energy Crisis Paper to G7, Ecofin" - "BRUSSELS - Italy is preparing a document on the current energy crisis to present to the G7 group of industrialised nations and European Union finance ministers (Ecofin), Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti said on Tuesday. European countries who are customers of Russian gas giant Gazprom, including Italy, are seeing shortfalls in supplies exacerbated by a wave of extremely cold weather across the continent. "The idea of our document is that we have problems on a European scale which can only have European solutions," Tremonti told a press conference in Brussels." (Reuters)

January 24, 2006

"Trust chemicals, beware of nature" - "From make-up to medicine, scientists warn that people are wrong to think natural must be best." (The Observer)

"UP fought JE with limestone dust!" - "INSTEAD OF insecticides, bags packed with limestone dust were supplied to the districts to control mosquito-borne diseases. The report of the laboratory test states that not only sub-standard insecticides but also limestone dust were packed in bags and supplied to districts for routine spray and fogging works. Now, we know why even after intensive insecticide spray and fogging in various districts, mosquito-borne diseases including Japanese encephalitis, dengue, malaria and Kalazar killed thousand of people last year." (Hindustan Times)

"EPA to Accept Pesticide Tests on Humans" - "WASHINGTON -- The Environmental Protection Agency for the first time is establishing criteria for tests by pesticide makers on human subjects. Susan Hazen, the EPA's principal deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, said Monday the new rule for accepting tests won't allow ''intentional pesticide dosing studies of children and pregnant women.'' Last year, President Bush signed a ban on the use of human pesticide test data until the EPA created regulations for accepting them. The agency also was required to ban the use of pregnant women and children as subjects, and to incorporate ethical guidelines from the National Academy of Sciences and the post-World War II Nuremberg Code." (AP)

"An About-Face On Hormone Therapy" - "In a sharp reversal in thinking about the risks and benefits of menopause hormones, new research shows that early use of the drugs may actually lower a woman's risk for heart disease.

The finding, published this week in the Journal of Women's Health, contradicts warnings issued nearly four years ago that hormone use increases risk for heart attack and stroke. That widely publicized warning, based on the government-funded Women's Health Initiative study, caused millions of women to abandon hormone replacement therapy. The government had halted the study early, citing concern over the risk posed to trial participants, and sales of hormone drugs plummeted.

Since that 2002 warning, a number of researchers have questioned the WHI findings, and pointed out that the design of the study didn't necessarily apply to the typical hormone user -- women who turn to the drugs to treat menopause symptoms. Most of the 27,000 participants in the WHI clinical trial were older women who started hormones 10 or more years past menopause." (The Wall Street Journal)

"Shuttle a deathtrap, says astronaut" - "One of America's most experienced astronauts has denounced the space shuttle as a deathtrap and accused US space officials of stifling all concerns raised about its safety." (The Observer)

"Soy not as good for the heart as thought: report" - "NEW YORK - Tofu and other soy products may not do much for a person's cholesterol levels after all, an American Heart Association panel has concluded. In a review of 22 clinical trials, researchers with the AHA's nutrition committee found that large amounts of isolated soy protein helped lower study participants' "bad" cholesterol by only about 3 percent on average. The change is less than impressive considering the large doses of soy protein used in the studies, according to the AHA panel." (Reuters Health)

"Infections 'brain tumour trigger'" - "Infections could play a key role in triggering certain types of adult brain cancer, scientists suggest. An international research team, led by Newcastle University experts analysed a database of brain tumour cases. They found clusters at different times in different places, as seen with other conditions caused by infections." (BBC)

"Conspicuous thrift (or keeping up with the Joneses in your hybrid car)" - "THESE DAYS in Hollywood it is important to spend as much money as possible on the appearance of thrift. Naturally, this applies only if your expensive belt tightening will make some kind of wider political statement. Worried about global warming? Tear the roof off your home and replace it with solar panelling for $75,000 (£42,000), then boast about the cents you save on electricity. Concerned about the cruelty of battery-farmed eggs? Buy your own hens, build a hen house and hire a dozen Mexican hen keepers. Then write the whole thing off against your taxes. To the practitioners of conspicuous thrift, the size of the initial capital outlay is rendered trivial by the ability to appear politically correct and financially prudent at the same time." (London Times)

Preparing to blame warming? "Cold snap reaches Germany, with Bavaria at -33C" - "Germany was yesterday in the grip of some of the coldest temperatures for 50 years after the recent freezing snap in Russia spread across much of Europe. ...

... Scientists remain divided over whether the icy spell is related to normal cycles." (The Guardian)

Too late: "Wind makes city run for cover" - "NEW DELHI: Like a persistent lover who refuses to go away, the winter has made another comeback. Just when you thought it was time to tuck away the heavy woollens, the north-westerlies swept across northern India, making the days nippy and the nights decidedly chilly again.

... With temperatures fluctuating like a yo-yo throughout January, many scientists feel global warming may be causing this unusual weather pattern." (Times of India)

Darn! If only the blasted Earth would behave as modelled! "Solar physicists report paradox: Less sunlight, but temps rise" - "Less sunlight reaching the Earth's surface has not translated into cooler temperatures, according to a team of solar physicists at New Jersey Institute of Technology. The scientists, who monitor the Earth's reflectance by measuring what is known as the moon's earthshine, have observed that the amount of light reflected by Earth -- its albedo -- has increased since 2000. The result has been less sunlight reaching the Earth's surface." (New Jersey Institute of Technology)

Why there is a Warm Bias in the Existing Analyses of the Global Average Surface Temperature (Climate Science)

"NASA flies into tropical 'portal' to the stratosphere" - "NASA scientists are leading an airborne field experiment to a warm tropical locale to take a close look at a largely unexplored region of the chilly upper atmosphere. This area is critical to the recovery of the ozone layer and predicting future climate change. This very cold region far above the Earth's equator (54,000 feet), a few miles higher than commercial aircraft can fly, is the main pathway where the lower part of the atmosphere, known as the troposphere, flows into the stratosphere." (NASA/GISS)

"Japan team drills more than 3,000 meters into Antarctic ice" - "TOKYO, Jan. 24 -- Japan's Antarctic research team has drilled 3,028.52 meters into the Antarctic ice sheet at the Japanese research base known as Dome Fuji, the education ministry said Tuesday. The ice samples, which are estimated to be about 1 million years old and presumably the oldest excavated so far in the world, will be used to study global climate change in the past, said scientists at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. They are older than the estimated 800,000-year-old ice samples excavated by an EU research team at Dome C on Antarctica." (Kyodo)

"Hurricanes no storm in teacup / Climate change seen by some as behind extreme weather" - "This is the second installment of Part 1 of a series titled "Seeking the Survival of Humanity and the Earth" on the subject of problems involving global climate change." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

"Arizona frog fungus not blamed on warming" - "Global warming probably isn't triggering the fungal disease killing off Arizona frogs, some Arizona researchers say, despite a new study that concludes warming is causing the extinction of many frog species in Central and South America. Warming is the underlying cause for the disease killing frogs in Central and South America, but rising temperatures in Arizona are not acting in the same way, two Tucson herpetologists and a State Game and Fish Department biologist in Phoenix agree. Although the chytrid fungus has been a huge problem for Arizona frogs, warming is not a likely cause for it in Arizona because its climate is generally hotter than in Central and South America, say Cecil Schwalbe of the U.S. Geological Survey, Philip Rosen of the University of Arizona, and Michael Sredl of Game and Fish. Paradoxically, the Latin American research says global warming has accelerated chytrid disease there by increasing cloud cover that has cooled daytime temperatures and warmed the nights." (Arizona Daily Star)

"Religion: Pastors warm to environment" - "Can a group of religious leaders do anything about global warming? David Thompson thinks they can. "Nearly every religious tradition is committed to the stewardship of the Earth," says Thompson, pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Sacramento and president of the Interfaith Service Bureau. "If we work together on this, we can effect change." Thompson and a diverse group of religious leaders, including Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs and Scientologists, will participate in a first-of-its-kind meeting with scientists and legislators. He expects about 300 interfaith leaders to attend the Interfaith Legislative Breakfast on Feb. 1 at the Grand Ballroom in Sacramento to discuss the future of California's climate." (Sacramento Bee)

Hey Arnold! "Cool thinking" - "The White House may be reluctant to cut greenhouse emissions, but that hasn’t stopped California blazing a trail, as governor Arnold Schwarzenegger explains." (Arnold Schwarzenegger, New scientist)

Looks like you need a few new advisers mate: "The science shows that human-made pollution has added more than 50 per cent to the natural level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere." Really? Assuming baseline atmospheric CO2 at 280 ppmv, adding "more than 50%" would give a value of at least 420 ppmv, no? Projecting the trendline available from Keeling and Whorf (May, 2005) suggests we might attain such a lofty goal C2039 (assuming 270 ppmv as the base would mean 405 ppmv met C2024). Truly a man ahead of your time there Arnie, way ahead.

This week's wishful thinking: "Studies Support Emissions Plans" - "Two independent analyses say an effort, opposed by business, to cut greenhouse gases could be beneficial for California's economy." (LA Times) | Read report

That's great guys, the state can still function, create some jobs and make a profit while curbing energy use but where is the comparison of how much more it do without bureaucratic interference? Cost cutting, input minimisation, efficiency, call it what you will - all successful businesses do this anyway - what advantage, what cost reduction, what efficiencies are provided by more bureaucracy?

"Workshops to map cutting emissions" - "Two events this week could offer an early measure of Californians' willingness to back tough actions, including higher gasoline taxes, to fulfill Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's promise to make the state a leader in reducing emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming." (Contra Costa Times)

"Greenhouse gas emissions rose in 2004" - "LONDON - The bid to help tackle climate change by slashing pollution slipped further off course on Monday as government data showed greenhouse gas emissions rose in 2004, the second consecutive increase. Britain is on track to meet its Kyoto Protocol goals but likely to miss its own more ambitious targets on curbing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by the end of the decade, Monday's data showed." (Reuters)

"2004 UK Climate Change Sustainable Development Indicator And Greenhouse Gas Emissions Final Figures" - "Defra today published final 2004 emission estimates for greenhouse gases for the UK." (Defra release)

Messy divorce looming? "Peter Walsh: Labor should ditch greenies" - "SINCE the 1980s, Australian Labor Party policy has been incrementally hijacked by well-heeled, self-indulgent, morally vain and would-be authoritarian activists, whom the media often misdescribes as the intelligentsia. If language had been less debauched, they would have been more accurately described as secular religious fundamentalists, as contemptuous of the values and aspirations of mainstream Australians as Mao Zedong was of Chinese peasants. The consequences for Labor have been four successive electoral defeats. Short of a self-destructive Coalition implosion, there is little chance of reversing this electoral trend in the near future. Some smart Labor people have been long aware of the poisoned chalice handed to Labor by green ideologues and their media cheer squad." (The Australian)

"Energy Politics Will Do Us In Yet" - "Worries that the U.N. Security Council might sanction Iran and curtail crude-oil shipments battered stocks on Friday. But politicians in the "blue" states that voted for Democrats in 2004 apparently haven't noticed the danger of an energy crisis.

They are still finding ways to tie up energy producers and consumers with new, ill-conceived regulations. These include restrictions on "greenhouse" gas emissions from power plants -- because they fear "global warming." They also want utilities to rely more on "renewable" energy -- windmills and the like. They don't think the Bush administration has done enough to regulate energy use and emissions.

If I hadn't read this in the Sunday Washington Post, I would have thought it unbelievable. We are entering 2006 and some politicians still haven't figured out that the way to deal with rising energy costs is less, not more, regulation. The American left seems to be heavily populated with control freaks.

But it's also deplorably true that when constituents complain about soaring prices of natural gas and gasoline, these characters have a ready scapegoat, "the giant oil companies." Anyone still buying that line should ask himself why the "giant oil companies," with all their market power, somehow couldn't prevent crude oil from collapsing to $10 a barrel a few years ago.

The cost of energy in the U.S. has been boosted by two things: the price effects of large new demands for crude oil and liquefied natural gas from China and India, plus "environmental" rules that have sharply limited energy development." (George Melloan, The Wall Street Journal)

"Pump Ethanol? First Make It Cheaper Than Gasoline: Doron Levin" - " For the handful of American drivers who fill up with ethanol-based fuel, the best place to live by far is Minnesota, home to 182 of the 556 dedicated stations in the U.S. That tiny number of ethanol pumps, in light of the 170,000 conventional gas stations in the U.S., shows how few American motorists outside the agricultural Midwest know or care much about ethanol." (Bloomberg)

"Friendly energy that fuels unease - Wind faulted for blocked views, bird deaths." - "STAMFORD, Conn. - Giant windmills - on scenic mountain ridges, prairie grass, and even an Indian reservation - are spinning an unusual debate that is dividing leading environmentalists. Wind power grew rapidly in 2005, becoming more competitive as natural-gas prices jumped and crude-oil prices reached record highs. Improved technology, a federal tax credit, and pressure on utilities to use clean energy sources helped fuel the growth from coast to coast. But wind energy is posing a dilemma for environmentalists who support its pollution-free electricity but have grown increasingly alarmed at its death toll on birds and bats." (Associated Press)

"Swiss plug renewable energy sources" - "Switzerland has called for more resources to be channelled into the development of renewable forms of energy at a major climate conference in Geneva." (Swissinfo)

"It's decision time on nuclear power, says minister" - "Britain must decide this year whether or not to "open the door" to a new generation of nuclear power stations, the Government said today. Launching a three-month public consultation to discuss the future of Britain's energy supply, the Trade and Industry Secretary, Alan Johnson, said that it was time to decide how to replace the waning coal-fired and nuclear power stations that supply up to 30 per cent of the country's energy needs." (London Times)

"'Big decisions' ahead on energy policy" - "Alan Johnson, the Trade and Industry secretary, has said there is no "do-nothing option" as Britain examines how best to meet its future energy demands. Launching a public debate on energy policy, Mr Johnson said the country must face up to the fact it was becoming an importer of oil and gas." (London Telegraph)

"Mind the energy gap - experts query need for nuclear" - "Is the Government's "Energy Review" just a tortuous way of saying YES to a new generation of nuclear power stations? Plenty of people think so, even as a consultation period was announced yesterday with the publication of a supposedly open-minded review document" (London Independent)

"Sustainable farm practices improve Third World food production" - "Crop yields on farms in developing countries that used sustainable agriculture rose nearly 80 percent in four years, according to a study scheduled for publication in the Feb. 15 issue of the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology. The study, the largest of its kind to date -- 286 farm projects in 57 countries -- concludes that sustainable agriculture protects the environment in these countries while substantially improving the lives of farmers who adopt the resource-conserving practices.

Yields increased by an average of 79 percent during the study, according to corresponding author Jules Pretty of the University of Essex in England. Working with colleagues in Thailand, China, Sri Lanka and Mexico, Pretty found nearly all of the farm projects increased their yields, and harvests of some crops like maize, potatoes and beans increased 100 percent." (American Chemical Society)

"EU Farm Chief Defends More GMO’s in Organic Farming" - "BRUSSELS - Europe's farm chief defended her plans to permit more genetically modified (GMO) content into organic farming on Monday, saying it would be too costly for farmers to achieve higher purity in their organic produce." (Reuters)

"Greenpeace will keep up its campaign against transgenic soybeans" - "Brasília - Despite the forecast of a harvest including 25 million tons of transgenic soybeans, the coordinator of Greenpeace's genetic engineering campaign, Ventura Barbeiro, an agronomist, assures that environmental activists will continue to be opposed to governmental authorization of transgenic species." (Agência Brasil)

"York researchers develop pollution-busting plants to clean up contaminated land" - "Scientists at the University of York have played a crucial role in developing a way of using plants to clean up land contaminated by explosives. The research, by a team led by Professor Neil Bruce in CNAP (Centre for Novel Agricultural Products) in the University's Department of Biology, uses micro-organisms found in soil to turn trees and plants into highly-effective pollution-busters. The research findings are published in Nature Biotechnology." (University of York)

"Biopharming group plans policy recommendations" - "The Biopharming Ad Hoc Committee, meeting Monday for the third time since being formed last year, expects to recommend biopharming policies to Gov. Ted Kulongoski by September. Equally representing agricultural and public-health interests, the 10-member committee grew from a failed bill in 2005 that would have put a four-year state moratorium on biopharming." (The Oregonian)

January 23, 2006

The Terrible Cost of Malaria (JunkScience.com)

Oh dear: "Poor see fewer benefits from economic growth-report" - "SINGAPORE, Jan 23 - The world's poorest people have seen a sharp drop in the share of benefits from global economic growth in the past decade, despite campaigns to reduce poverty, an economic think tank said in research released on Monday. The UK-based New Economics Foundation (NEF) said growth had become less effective at reaching those living on less than a dollar a day. They gained only 60 cents for every $100 of growth in the world's income per person between 1990 and 2001, a 73 percent drop from the $2.20 they had gained during the 1980s." (Reuters)

NEF curiously decides that growth is less effective now than it was for alleviating poverty. Post hoc ergo propter hoc 'science' appears very popular these days (witness "people use fossil fuels and the climate has warmed, therefore fossil fuels drive climate") and so we thought we'd try some: "Following three decades of increasing environmentalism and celebrity aid interference, benefit to the impoverished has declined by almost three-fourths, therefore environmentalism and celebrity aid lock people in poverty." "Corollary: additional effect of global warming is observed, therefore environmentalism and celebrity aid locking people in poverty cause global warming." (Wow! This kind of 'science by assertion' is a snap! Watch how easily we can now cure the world's problems, real and asserted) "Solution: lock environmentalists out of all resource management and policy generally and entertainers out of everything but entertaining for a 400% improvement in gains by the poor and an end to global warming." Easy, isn't it?

"Why Davos Is Worth the Effort" - "Beyond rubbing elbows with celebs and Presidents, the real thrill is the feeling of optimism that permeates this elite global confab." (Business Week)

"Science 'not for normal people'" - "Teenagers value the role of science in society but feel scientists are "brainy people not like them", research suggests. The Science Learning Centre in London asked 11,000 pupils for their views on science and scientists. Around 70% of the 11-15 year olds questioned said they did not picture scientists as "normal young and attractive men and women." (BBC)

The shaman principle (Number Watch)

"The unholy lust of scientists" - "It may be time to curtail public financing of scientific research." (David S. Oderberg, SF Chronicle, Jan. 15)

"Donald Kennedy: Setting Science Back" - "Donald Kennedy, the Editor-in-Chief of Science magazine, lately seems more bent on setting science back rather than advancing it." (World Climate Report)

"On Donald Kennedy in Science, Again" - "In this week’s Science magazine editor Donald Kennedy opines that “Not only is the New Orleans damage not an act of God; it shouldn’t even be called a “natural” disaster.” Could it be that he sees the significance of millions of people and trillions of dollars of property in locations exposed to repeated strikes from catastrophic storms? Unfortunately, not at all." (Prometheus)

"Dark side of suntan oil" - "If it can change the sex of fish, what can do it to you?" (London Independent)

"Common Sense Prevails in California: Chemical Ban Rejected" - "Democrat has about turn: says health experts not politicians should decide whether chemicals should be banned." (Trevor Butterworth, STATS)

"The Truth About Seatbelts" - "In the annals of Junk Science there is surely no better example than the seatbelt scam, although calling it science, even junk science, might be too generous. Con artist's pitch might be more accurate." (Stefan Schreier, Safety Choice Coalition)

"11 Indicted in Cases of Environmental Sabotage" - "WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 - A federal grand jury in Eugene, Ore., has indicted 11 people on charges that they committed acts of domestic terrorism on behalf of two shadowy environmental groups, the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front. Federal officials said Friday that the defendants were responsible for 17 incidents in five Western states from 1996 to late 2001." (New York Times) | 11 Indicted in 'Eco-Terrorism' Case (Washington Post)

“Uruguay will not bow to Greenpeace activists” - "Uruguay's President Tabare Vazquez said on Tuesday his government will not bow to pressures from "outsiders" like Greenpeace environmental activists who tried to block construction of two pulp mills in the country. The Uruguayan Coast Guard briefly arrested nine protesters who tried to interrupt work on one of the mills, being built by Finland's Metsa-Botnia earlier on Tuesday. Spain's Ence is building the second plant nearby." (MercoPress)

Hmm... "Study Shows Only Six Nations Achieved Environmental Goals" - "WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 - A pilot, nation-by-nation study of environmental performance shows that just six nations - led by New Zealand, followed by five from northern Europe - have achieved 85 percent success in meeting a set of critical environmental goals ranging from clean drinking water and low ozone levels to sustainable fisheries and low greenhouse-gas emissions. The report, which has been reviewed by other specialists both in the United States and internationally, ranks the United States 28th over all, behind most of Western Europe, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Costa Rica and Chile but ahead of Russia and South Korea." (New York Times)

The UK rose from mid to near-top ranking because they cut down their trees 500 years ago and earlier. Well, on that basis presumably places like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are top tier enviro countries - doubt they've lopped any trees to speak of in, oh, tens of centuries probably.

"'Green' Measures Key to Earth's Future, Report Says" - "By 2050, the planet's population will increase to 9 billion, with most people migrating to massive cities. Better vaccines will lessen the epidemic of HIV and offset flu pandemics. The global economy will quadruple. Demand for food, fresh water and raw materials for construction and heat will stretch natural resources to their limits, according to an analysis released Thursday." (LA Times)

"No problems with seafood found" - "Neither the Gulf of Mexico nor its marine species have been hurt by the 2005 hurricanes and some seafood populations have actually increased from a 2004 survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported on today. NOAA released findings from its second and third round of water, sediment and animal tissue tests. The agency said that the most recent findings are consistent with those reported by other state and federal agencies. Investigators looked for PCBs, pesticides, fire retardants and bacteria in the samples, contaminants they thought would wind up in the water after a hurricane." (Sun Herald)

"Irrigation most likely to blame for Central California warming" - "The same irrigation that turned California's Central Valley from desert into productive farmland is probably also to blame for summer nights there getting noticeably warmer. Irrigation has turned much of the San Joaquin Valley's dry, light-colored soil dark and damp, says Dr. John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). While the valley's light, dry desert ground couldn't absorb or hold much heat energy, the dark, damp irrigated fields "can absorb heat like a sponge in the day and then, at night, release that heat into the atmosphere." That means the region's summer nighttime temperatures don't get as cool as they did before irrigation came along." (University of Alabama in Huntsville)

The Need to Better Assess Uncertainty in Climate Models (Climate Science)

"Destruction of forests fuels EA drought - Unep" - "Destruction of East Africa’s forests and climate change are among the causes of the drought ravaging parts of East Africa, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep). Unep head Klaus Toepfer said in a statement issued in Nairobi that although the causes of the drought were numerous, the phenomenon had had strong links with on-going environmental damage to forests, grasslands, wetlands and other critical ecosystems as well as global climate change." (Mail & Guardian)

Effect on Surface Temperature Trends Due to Local Human Alteration of the Landscape (Climate Science)

"SHATTERED CONSENSUS: The True State of Global Warming" (.pdf) - "Edited by Patrick J. Michaels. The Marshall Institute is pleased to release its latest book, Shattered Consensus: The True State of Global Warming. This volume consists of ten essays on global warming, covering the earth’s temperature history and disparities between what has been predicted about climate change and what has actually been observed. The chapters highlight substantial anomalies and new information not generally discussed in mainstream reports about climate science. For example, the oft-quoted statement that recent years are the warmest of the last millennium is now in serious doubt. Temperature changes observed through the atmosphere (not just at the surface) are clearly different than what has been projected to occur. And disparities between observed precipitation and the simulations of computer models can be off by several hundred percent.." (Marshall Institute)

Buy the book through this link and help support JunkScience.com

"Dr. Death and Mother Gaia" - "James Lovelock, godfather of the “Gaia” theory that the Earth’s biosphere is a single living entity, has weighed in on the fate of mankind under the threat of global warming, as well as other environmental maladies. In a January 16 Independent article, Professor Lovelock wrote “Before this century is over, billions of us will die, and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable." (Dr. Roy Spencer, TCS Daily)

"Is it a field? Is it a plain? No, it's supergrass ... " - "WELSH scientists are developing a breed of supergrass that aims to soak up water and help prevent flooding and combat droughts. Researchers at Aberystwyth's Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (Iger) are creating a type of natural grass with a deep-root system which will act as a sponge, soaking up excess run-off water and preventing it from deluging streams and rivers. They believe such a fundamental change in grass structure could be highly significant because grassland accounts for more than a third of the UK's land area. And they hope their breed could help soak up the impact of intense rainfall, which could be triggered by climate change in the future." (Western Mail)

"No Future in Kyoto Dreaming" - "For supporters of the Kyoto protocol, this is 1977. Science and reality are causing people all over the world to wake up to the realization that, like socialism, Kyoto environmentalism has no future. A brief review should suffice to demonstrate the way the tide is flowing." (Iain Murray, American Spectator)

The Week That Was Jan. 21, 2006 (SEPP)

Uh-huh... "Sea-level rise is quickening pace" - "The rate of global sea-level rise has sped up during the twentieth century, Australian researchers have confirmed. This disturbing acceleration is predicted by climate models, but has been difficult to spot in real data; natural variations in sea level have masked long-term trends. Now researchers have managed to tease out the acceleration from tide-gauge data, by cleaning up the information using satellite measurements." (Nature)

Granted it was a long time ago but when I was a lad apples and oranges yielded fruit salad - now apparently the yield is 'sea level rise acceleration'.

Meanwhile: "Scientists play down rising seas" - "Manchester scientists studying global warming are predicting a much lower rise in sea levels than previously feared." (Manchester Metropolitan University)

"Dutch Seek to Defend Coastal Resorts from Sea Rise" - "AMSTERDAM - the Dutch government agreed plans on Friday to reinforce defences protecting the coastline from rising sea levels as a result of climate change." (Reuters)

"Is climate change turning emission sinks into emission producers?" - "Many abnormal climate-related phenomena, such as massive hurricanes, extremes in temperatures, floods and droughts have been observed in recent years. Many experts believe they are caused by global warming. In the 21st century, how will humans deal with changes in nature? Part I of The Yomiuri Shimbun's new series titled "Seeking the Survival of Humanity and the Earth," reports on regions affected by climate change. The first of six installments follows:" (Yomiuri Shimbun)

Pick a number, any number... "Heavy road congestion is killing us, study finds" - "ROAD transport is costing Sydney $1.4 billion a year in greenhouse gas and other air pollution, with the city's heavy congestion exacerbating ill health and climate change. That is the conclusion of a report by the Centre for International Economics, which also found that over the next 15 years the annual cost of greenhouse gas emissions would rise by almost a third, to $187 million." (Sydney Morning Herald)

According to the World Wide Font of Nonsense: "PM's climate plan to 'lift temperatures 4C'" - "JOHN Howard's plan to tackle climate change would lift Australia's average temperatures 4C this century, imperilling agriculture, human health and some of the country's natural treasures." (The Australian)

"Forestry in the name of climate change" - "As the world seeks ways to cut atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) -- the greenhouse gas produced by burning fossil fuels -- science says managed forests will play a key role. Trees are the most powerful concentrators of carbon on Earth. Through photosynthesis, they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in their wood, which is nearly 50 percent carbon by weight. You might be surprised to learn young forests outperform old growth in carbon absorption. Although old trees contain large amounts of carbon, their rate of absorption has slowed to a near halt. A young tree, although it contains little fixed carbon, pulls CO2 from the atmosphere much faster." (Patrick Moore, Washington Times)

Eye-roller: "Academic prescribes turbines to cool global warming - Scheme would cost every European a whopping $500" - "A researcher at the University of Alberta has come up an odd scheme to reduce the effects of global warming - one that involves 8,100 barges equipped with wind turbines pumping water to produce more Arctic ice. Dr. Peter Flynn, who holds the Poole Chair in Management for Engineers, suggested the unusual plan as a last resort to deal with one of the strangest consequences of climate change: it could actually plunge Europe into a deep freeze." (Nunatsiaq News)

"Great Russian freeze spreads west" - "Severe cold weather gripping large parts of Russia has now spread west, causing chaos in Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic states and Scandinavia. Officials in those countries say there is growing pressure on energy supplies, with power shortages as Russia cuts deliveries to fight the freeze at home." (BBC)

Dopey blighters: "'Blue' States Tackling Energy On Their Own" - "Democratic-leaning states increasingly are regulating energy use and emissions, working around a GOP-controlled federal government that state officials say has not done enough. The states are creating energy efficiency requirements for light bulbs and household appliances, limiting power plant and automobile output linked to global warming, and requiring the use of renewable energy, such as wind and solar." (Washington Post)

"Oil demand to grow 50% in 28 years" - "Manama: Demand for oil is set to grow at least 50 per cent between 2002 and 2030, the president of Shell Global Solutions has said. "Cost, supply, security and environmental concerns will influence demand as developing nations seek higher living standards," Greg Lewin said here yesterday at the fifth Middle East International Refining and Petrochemicals Conference and Exhibition (Middle East Petrotech 2006). "Massive growth in car numbers in developing nations to EU and US levels will also fuel the demand for oil," he said, stressing that his predictions assume that the energy policy remains unchanged." (Gulf News)

"Next generation of nuclear reactors may be fast tracked" - "The nuclear industry is pushing ministers to approve sweeping changes to the way atomic power stations are approved in an attempt to fast-track a new generation of reactors." (The Guardian)

"UK over-dependent on gas, says Balls" - "The energy market needs to be diversified to protect the UK from instability in gas imports, a former Treasury adviser has said. Labour MP Ed Balls suggested there should be incentives for the energy industry to invest in coal to prevent a second dash for gas and protect diversity of supply." (ePolitix)

"To combat soaring natural gas prices, go nuclear" - "There are many national economic penalties caused by the highest sustained natural-gas prices in history, but probably none is more disturbing than the extent to which high-priced gas threatens to undermine farm productivity and drive up food prices." (Des Moines Register)

"Alternative energy sources: Food, and fuel, for thought" - "Vegetable oil has emerged from the larder as a cheap, eco-friendly alternative to dwindling fossil fuels. But its supporters are outraged at new tax hikes that may stop them in their tracks. By Oliver Duff" (London Independent)

"Blair warned on 'rush for nuclear'" - "Peter Hain sounds the alert on hidden costs as Number 10 gears up to combat energy shortage." (The Observer)

"Government to reopen nuclear debate" - "Ministers are today set to launch a new consultation on the UK's future energy needs." (ePolitix)

"No obstacles to atomic option, says 'nuclear neutral' energy minister" - "The energy minister, Malcolm Wicks, believes there are virtually no practical obstacles to a new generation of nuclear power stations being built - although he is adamant no decision has yet been made on whether to give them the go-ahead." (The Guardian)

"Call to halt nuclear power plans" - "Opposition parties and green campaigners have claimed Scotland does not need new nuclear power stations. The SNP, Scottish Greens and Friends of the Earth said there was already plenty of wind, tidal and wave power." (BBC)

"Green lobby girds for nuclear battle over energy" - "LONDON - The government begins a public consultation on Monday over the future of the power industry in the face of global warming and surging fossil fuel prices. At stake is not just the future mix of electric power sources from nuclear to fossil and wind, but the whole structure of the country's centralised power generation system. Environmentalists are preparing for a battle with the nuclear industry to persuade the public that green, not atomic, power is the path to the future. Both sides know it will be an epic fight watched by the whole world." (Reuters)

"Germans Debate Best Energy Mix for the Future" - "Rising prices for oil, natural gas and electricity have sparked a new discussion about the best energy mix in Germany. While some call for more nuclear energy, others bank on renewable sources." (Deutsche Welle)

"What they don't want you to know about the coming oil crisis" - "Soaring fuel prices, rumours of winter power cuts, panic over the gas supply from Russia, abrupt changes to forecasts of crude output... Is something sinister going on? Yes, says former oil man Jeremy Leggett, and it's time to face the fact that the supplies we so depend on are going to run out." (Jeremy Leggett, London Independent)

"Editorial: USDA falls short on biotech crops" - "Even minimal inspection requirements aren't being met." (Star Tribune)

"Altered-gene crops lack oversight, group says" - "California regulators have failed to keep close watch on the spread of genetically modified crops in the state, a national advocacy group said Wednesday. And since federal authorities also do a poor job regulating such crops, that leaves few overseeing the field. Without monitoring, those crops ``may contaminate the environment through pollen drift, seed mix-ups, and inadvertent transfer of seeds by humans, animals and extreme weather events,'' said a report issued by the non-profit Center for Food Safety in Washington. ``Genetically engineered crops pose significant economic risks to California's farmers and food industries.'' (Mercury News)

"Brasher: Iran takes rice biotech lead" - "Iran's nuclear scientists get all the ink. But the country's biologists are making some strides that could shake up agriculture. The Iranians commercialized the first variety of genetically engineered rice last year. No one expects this rice to leave the country. Iran doesn't produce enough rice as it is, and the type modified is a locally important variety. But the crop is a landmark development in biotechnology nonetheless. It was the first time that a biotech version of rice, one of the world's most important food crops, legally had gone into production. Just as significantly, the Iranian crop, plus similar advancements in China, show that biotechnology is spreading beyond the industry giants such as Monsanto or Des Moines-based Pioneer Hi-Bred International that have led the way." (Des Moines Register)

January 20, 2006

"Food Police Indict SpongeBob" - "Who would ever think that loveable cartoon characters, such as SpongeBob SquarePants, threaten public health? Well the “food police” apparently do, and this week they announced a lawsuit against Viacom and Kellogg to stop the companies from marketing snack and fun foods to kids." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Resistance risk to malaria cure" - "The most effective cure for malaria could be lost unless new prescribing guidelines are followed, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned. Drug firms are being urged to stop selling artemisinin on its own to prevent the parasite building up resistance to the drug." (BBC)

Hmm... "Drug Makers Get a Warning From the U.N. Malaria Chief" - "Warning that misuse of the most promising new malaria drug could create an incurable strain of the disease, the new chief of the World Health Organization’s malaria program demanded yesterday that 18 pharmaceutical companies stop selling some forms of the drug." (New York Times)

While there is no argument that protecting the efficacy of key treatments is critically important the hypocrisy of WHO is staggering. If they really care about reducing the malaria toll they should stop obstructing and start encouraging IRS with the best, most affordable compounds, beginning with DDT.

"USAID's New Policy Reforms - Moving Past Rhetorical Commitments to Real Changes" - "TESTIMONY: Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs (Washington)" (Roger Bate, AEI)

"Agency's Plans Mark Shift in Approach to Fighting Malaria" - "WASHINGTON, Jan. 19 - Stung by criticism from Republican senators for spending most of its $90 million malaria control budget on consultants, conferences and travel, the United States' main foreign aid agency by next year plans to spend half the money on drugs, mosquito nets and insecticide spraying, a senior official said today." (New York Times)

"Still Morning in America: Reaganomics, 25 years later" - "Twenty-five years ago today, Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as the 40th President of the United States promising less intrusive government, lower tax rates and victory over communism. On that same day, the American hostages in Iran were freed after 444 days of captivity. If the story of history is one long and arduous march toward freedom, this was a momentous day well worth commemorating.

All the more so because over this 25-year period prosperity has been the rule, not the exception, for America--in stark contrast to the stagflationary 1970s. Perhaps the greatest tribute to the success of Reaganomics is that, over the course of the past 276 months, the U.S. economy has been in recession for only 15. That is to say, 94% of the time the U.S. economy has been creating jobs (43 million in all) and wealth ($30 trillion). More wealth has been created in the U.S. in the last quarter-century than in the previous 200 years. The policy lessons of this supply-side prosperity need to be constantly relearned, lest we return to the errors that produced the 1970s." (Opinion Journal)

"Mobile study rejects tumour link" - "Using a mobile phone does not raise your chances of getting the most common form of brain tumour, according to the most exhaustive study to date. The British study found no link between glioma brain tumours and mobile phones, irrespective of the type of phone, how many hours a week they were used, or whether they were used in rural or urban areas." (The Guardian) | Mobile phone use not linked to increased risk of glioma brain tumours (BMJ-British Medical Journal)

"Bacteria in dirt may be 'born' resistant to drugs" - "WASHINGTON - Bacteria in dirt may be "born" with a resistance to antibiotics, which could help shed light on the problem of drug-defying "superbugs," Canadian researchers said on Thursday. They tested 480 different bacteria found in soil and discovered that every single one had some resistance to antibiotics, meaning they had evolved a mechanism for evading the effects of the drugs. The findings, published in the journal Science, could help explain why bacteria so quickly develop resistance to antibiotics, and why drug companies must constantly develop new ones." (Reuters) | Researchers use dirt to stay one step ahead of antibiotic resistance (McMaster University)

"Wine drinkers have healthier diets than beer drinkers" - "People who buy wine also buy healthier food and therefore have healthier diets than people who buy beer, finds a study published online by the BMJ today. Studies have shown that drinking wine is associated with lower mortality than drinking beer or spirits. Some studies have also suggested that wine drinkers have healthier diets than beer or spirits drinkers, and this may explain wine's beneficial effect on health." (BMJ-British Medical Journal)

You mean... a six-pack & a pie doesn't count as a seven course meal?

"Work stress 'heart disease link'" - "Stress in the workplace is a major factor in the development of heart disease and diabetes, a study says. Stress has long been linked to ill health, but the British Medical Journal study may have identified the biological process for the first time. The study of 10,000 civil servants found a link between stress and metabolic syndrome, which involves obesity and high blood pressure. Experts said the University College London report was "interesting." (BBC) | Work stress leads to heart disease and diabetes (BMJ-British Medical Journal)

"'Intelligent Design' Not Science - Vatican Paper" - "PARIS - The Roman Catholic Church has restated its support for evolution with an article praising a US court decision that rejects the "intelligent design" theory as non-scientific." (Reuters)

"New Salt and Health Periodical" - "Alexandria, VA -- What does medical research tell us about the health effects of dietary salt? That’s what will be explored quarterly in a new Salt and Health newsletter announced today by the Salt Institute, the global association of salt companies." (Salt Institute) | Salt and Health (.pdf)

"This Opinion Brought To You By..." - "Stealth sponsorship of talking heads and op-ed columnists is surprisingly common." (Business Week)

"How the Conservative Columnist Witch Hunt Burned Me" - "Oh, no! Yet another writer has been swept up in a "pay-for-play" scandal, and again, a right-of-center one. "A Columnist Paid by Monsanto," declared the headline of a Business Week "news analysis." (Michael Fumento, Townhall)

"PETA: Cruel and Unusual" - "The FBI recently declared environmental and animal rights extremism its top domestic terrorism priority. The bureau is currently investigating over 150 cases of arson, bombings, and other violent crimes related to these movements. Law enforcement authorities are rightly concerned about the fanaticism over animal “rights” used to justify violent criminal behavior." (CEI)

"Greenpeace Founder Reviews Personal Odyssey from Radical Environmentalist to Scientist" - "The Pacific Rim Summit conference held last week in Waikiki was a major scientific event, which addressed a wide range of technologies that fall under the scientific aegis of biotechnology. However, the major event was the extraordinary luncheon speaker Dr. Patrick Moore, one of the original founders of Greenpeace. As many have done before, Moore has gone through a personal odyssey from the radical environmental movement to a very strong spokesman for science and common sense." (Michael R. Fox, Hawaii Reporter)

"World Stands at a Crossroads" - "BROOKLIN, Canada, Jan 19 - With 60 percent of the Earth's ecosystems in trouble right now, according to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, what will the future be like in 2050?" (Stephen Leahy, IPS)

"Forecast for Earth in 2050: It's not so gloomy" - "But people must begin to manage its ecosystems to put the planet on a sustainable path, a new report says." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Is Global Warming Drying Up the Elbe River?" - "The Elbe River, which starts in the Czech Republic and meanders through most of Germany, including the cities of Dresden and Hamburg, is one Europe's most important waterways. But there are fears that climate change is endangering this iconic river." (Der Spiegel)

Where are the Newly Recognized Uncertainties Assessed in the 2005 GISS Surface Temperature Record? (Climate Science)

"NCC pays $31,000 for study a child could have done" - "Conclusion: Warmer temperatures = less ice." (The Ottawa Citizen)

"NASA announces new mission to study atmosphere" - "SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — NASA scientists said Thursday they have launched a new study on climate change using a special aircraft that will enter the high troposphere — the lowest level of the earth's atmosphere — in the tropics." (AP)

"Bleached coral raises reef fears" - "CORAL on the Great Barrier Reef is bleaching and scientists fear the above-average water temperatures will devastate the southern part of the natural wonder. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has received reports that half the corals on the Keppel Islands have bleached and 30 per cent of some coral communities at Heron Island have turned white. When water temperatures rise one to two degrees above average, the colourful plant part of the coral gets booted out, leaving it appearing bleached. Corals can recover, but if the heat persists, or if bleaching happens too frequently, they die." (The Age)

We need a few tropical cyclones to stir the water column a bit and, since it's still early in the season we stand a good chance of getting some. This is where it gets really silly because, if we have 'nice' weather and the top couple of metres of water warms beyond the range where corals are comfortable - must be 'global warming'. On the other hand, if we get the usual mixed bag of 'nice' weather and tropical storms - you guessed it, it must be [all together now] 'global warming'. What a stupid game.

"China Sends Smoke Signals on Kyoto Protocol" - "BEIJING, Jan 20 - As global concern about climate change and rising carbon dioxide emissions grows, China -- the developing world's biggest polluter, is sending confusing signals about its willingness to clean up energy production and tackle environmental pollution." (IPS)

"Oilsands future up in the air: Industry needs to find way to reduce growing pollution, expert says" - "CALGARY - Oilsands growth will be stunted unless the industry voluntarily cuts greenhouse gas emissions, Alberta Research Council president John McDougall warned Wednesday. "Unless we deal with this (output of waste carbon dioxide) environmental pressures will accumulate and gather that will at best slow the pace of development and at worst stop it," McDougall predicted in an interview." (The Edmonton Journal)

"Italy Drafts Emissions Bill to Offset Gas Crunch" - "ROME - Italy's government has drafted a bill to allow utilities to use more fuel oil for electricity as the country seeks to offset a drop in gas supplies from Russia, a source present at an energy meeting said on Thursday." (Reuters)

"Sweden: We will break dependence on oil by 2020" - "The Swedish Minister for Sustainable Development, Mona Sahlin, has announced plans to break the country's dependence on oil by 2020." (Edie)

"Austrian EU Presidency to prioritise bioenergy" - " The recent gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine has prompted the Austrian Presidency of the EU to fast-track discussion of the EU's 'biomass action plan'." (Environmental Finance)

Dopey beggars: "Air pollution bills target Md. power plants - Democrats revive legislation on rules requiring cuts in toxic emissions" - "Some Maryland power plants would have to sharply reduce toxic emissions, including carbon dioxide, under air pollution bills revived by Democratic lawmakers today." (Associated Press)

Carbon dioxide, far from being a 'toxic pollutant', actually triggers breathing and does not become toxic until concentrations reach about twenty times current ambient.

?!! "Ecologist: Taking The Wind Out Of Nuclear Power" - "PETER BUNYARD exposes the dangerous and uneconomic reality behind the myths of nuclear energy’s cheapness, safety and low greenhouse gas emissions." (Pacific Ecologist)

"Call for UK nuclear clean-up plan" - "A plan should be formed to dispose of the UK's existing radioactive waste, says government adviser Nirex. Its data suggests 241,000 cubic metres of intermediate-level waste and 1,340 of high-level waste will need disposal. Tony Blair last month launched a review of UK energy needs, and is believed to be convinced of the case for more nuclear power stations. Science academy the Royal Society has also called for a new commission to advise how to store waste more safely." (BBC)

"Growing crops to cope with climate change" - "Scientists at the UK's leading plant science centre have uncovered a gene that could help to develop new varieties of crop that will be able to cope with the changing world climate. Researchers funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) at the John Innes Centre in Norwich have identified the gene in barley that controls how the plant responds to seasonal changes in the length of the day. This is key to understanding how plants have adapted their flowering behaviour to different environments." (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council)

Good grief! "Pharmers vs. farmers" - "The Future of Food reveals the dangers of genetically modified crops." (San Antonia Current)

Check out the BS caption on the picture: "Percy Schmeiser sits on a truck bed of wheat on his farm outside of Bruno, Saskatchewan, Canada. In 2004, after Monsanto GMO canola drifted into Schmeiser’s non-GMO fields from a neighbor’s truck, Monsanto successfully sued him for patent infringement. In order to avoid further litigation, Schmeiser destroyed 1,000 pounds of seed he and his wife had developed, which he feared had been contaminated by GMO canola." What a crock! Schmeiser has been tried, convicted, appealed and affirmed as a liar and a thief. Quite telling that he's the darling of the anti-biotech brigade isn't it.

"S. Africa govt seeks law to extend support of GMOs" - "CAPE TOWN - South Africa cannot afford to lag behind developed nations on genetically modified foods, a government official said on Thursday, rejecting activist calls for stricter controls on biotechnology." (Reuters)

January 19, 2006

"Media Ignore Activist Warnings Over Alleged Chemical Threat" - "Have Environmental Working Group’s “Chicken Little” tactics against DuPont backfired?" (Trevor Butterworth, STATS)

Commercial extortion campaign: "Kellogg asked to end marketing junk foods to kids" - "CHICAGO, Jan 18 - A consumer group wants to keep Tony the Tiger from promoting sugary cereals on the SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon show or anywhere else kids are watching. The Center for Science in the Public Interest said on Wednesday it would sue Kellogg Co., the maker of cereals such as Frosted Flakes, and Viacom Inc., which runs the Nickelodeon cable network, if the companies do not change some marketing practices aimed at children." (Reuters)

II: "Consumer group in talks with soda cos. over schools" - "NEW YORK, Jan 18 - A group of consumer advocates that has threatened to sue PepsiCo Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. for selling sugary soft drinks in schools are in talks with the beverage manufacturers, a lawyer for the group said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

III - what a surprise to find: "Obesity lawsuits – lessons learned from tobacco litigation: A model to evaluate potential litigation strategies against the food industry" - "Obesity is a serious health issue in the United States, with costs likely to significantly exceed those resulting from tobacco-related illnesses. What are the prospects for using the strategies and tactics from tobacco litigation to drive the food industry to change its practices? How will the food industry respond to the lawsuits now being filed? How will the public health be protected?

In an article in the January 2006 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Jess Alderman, M.D., J.D., and Richard A. Daynard, Ph.D., J.D., both affiliated with the Northeastern University School of Law, review the history of tobacco litigation and suggest some ways that public health officials and consumer-protection authorities might push the food companies to provide better products." (Elsevier)

"Trying to block intellectual wells" - "With no real issues to promote, Democrats are putting all their eggs into the basket of corruption to restore their political fortunes. They and their mainstream media friends are working overtime to connect everyone and everything on the political right to disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who has pleaded guilty to multiple felonies.

One channel Democrats and liberals are working is tying conservative think tanks to the Abramoff scandal. They know these think tanks have been one of the most effective forces in Washington over the last 30 years in advancing a conservative agenda. If these organizations can be tainted by Abramoff, it may help neuter a major source of ideas, research and funding for conservative initiatives." (Bruce Bartlett, The Washington Times)

"Long-term ecological research should include studies on how social science interacts with ecosystems" - "The Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network of 26 research sites in which more than 1,800 scientists and students collaborate through funding by the National Science Foundation, turned 25 years old in 2005. During that quarter century, researchers have made important strides in understanding how ecosystems change over time. But a new report, co-authored by an anthropologist at the University of Georgia, says that much more attention should be paid at the study sites and elsewhere in America to the social science aspects of long-term ecological study. Without it, a fully integrated picture of how people interact with the natural world may remain incomplete." (University of Georgia)

"Public support for environmental protection on the decline" - "Public support for environmental protection in the United States as a federal government priority has dropped substantially since 2001, a researcher from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, has found after analyzing results from a prominent annual public opinion survey. Michael Greenberg, a professor and associate dean at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, also found that with the exception of wanting Washington to focus on job creation, the public is less interested in a range of domestic priorities, including crime prevention and health care management." (Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey)

"Ban on circus animals urged by welfare groups" - "Welfare groups are demanding a ban on the use of wild animals in British circuses. Campaigners say they have the overwhelming support of the public in their quest to outlaw performing big cats, elephants, camels, zebras and snakes from the Big Top." (London Independent)

"Judge Rules Alaskan Wolf-Killing Program Illegal" - "ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A judge declared illegal on Tuesday Alaska's controversial program of shooting wolves from the air to boost the population of moose and other game, prompting state officials to suspend the policy." (Reuters)

"EU Warns Italy Over Venice Flood Dam Plan Risk to Bird Habitat" - "BRUSSELS - The European Commission has warned Italy it must study how a controversial project to protect the lagoon city of Venice from floods would affect bird life, the Commission said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"EPA: Katrina didn't scatter toxins - Chemical site tests come up clean" - "Eight Coast plants that handle hazardous waste or chemicals and were directly in the path of Hurricane Katrina did not release those chemicals into their surroundings, a new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report concludes. EPA investigators took soil and sediment samples around the eight sites and compared the amounts of chemicals in those samples to known levels before the storm. They also compared the results to guidelines developed for lifelong exposure deemed by officials to be safe for people. "Based on the sampling results, EPA does not believe these sites were impacted by Hurricane Katrina," the report said." (Sun Herald)

Fred Pearce worries about the greening of the Earth: "Dark future looms for Arctic tundra" - "ONE of the world's great landscapes could soon disappear. The cold, barren Arctic tundra, home to not much more than a sweeping velvety carpet of moss and lichen, could become dominated by bush and forests within decades. And global warming will be to blame." (Fred Pearce, New Scientist)

"Ex-EPA Chiefs Blame Bush in Global Warming" - "Six former heads of the Environmental Protection Agency - five Republicans and one Democrat - accused the Bush administration Wednesday of neglecting global warming and other environmental problems. "I don't think there's a commitment in this administration," said Bill Ruckelshaus, who was EPA's first administrator when the agency opened its doors in 1970 under President Nixon and headed it again under President Reagan in the 1980s." (AP)

Lest anyone forget Bill Ruckelshaus. The time to worry about policy is when misanthropic EPA flakes-in-chief endorse it.

Ever more ridiculous: "Climate pact will cause temperature rise, report warns" - "Environmental groups have reacted to last week's Asia-Pacific climate pact by releasing a new report warning greenhouse gases will double as a direct result. The report warns this will mean a temperature rise of 4 degrees celsius by 2050. The report paints a gloomy outlook, warning rainfall will be substantially reduced, river systems will dry up, snow cover in the Australian alps will virtually disappear and natural icons like Kakadu national park will lose their freshwater wetlands." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

II: "Thousands to die under climate plan: WWF" - "Up to 15,000 Australians would die each year from heat-related illness and bushfires would double under the federal government's climate plan, a conservation group claims." (AAP)

III: "Global Warming Could Spell Disaster for Blacks" - " If you thought Hurricane Katrina was a once-in-a-lifetime fluke, think again. Concerned environmentalists say that unless the United States gets real about the threat of global warming, African Americans and other people of color can expect a repeat of disasters like Katrina." (BET)

IV: "Warmer seas will wipe out plankton, source of ocean life" - "The microscopic plants that underpin all life in the oceans are likely to be destroyed by global warming, a study has found. Scientists have discovered a way that the vital plankton of the oceans can be starved of nutrients as a result of the seas getting warmer. They believe the findings have catastrophic implications for the entire marine habitat, which ultimately relies on plankton at the base of the food chain. The study is also potentially devastating because it has thrown up a new "positive feedback" mechanism that could result in more carbon dioxide ending up in the atmosphere to cause a runaway greenhouse effect." (London Independent)

Myanna Lahsen's Latest Paper on Climate Models (Prometheus)

"Not As Bad As We Thought!" - "A couple of weeks ago we wrote a cute little piece titled “Proving Science Bias” that looked into the deluge of news stories on global warming and its impacts that were released on a single day last December when both the COP-11 meeting was going on in Montreal and the fall meeting of American Geophysical Union (AGU) was taking place in San Francisco. Of the 15 different findings that were released and covered by the press on December 7, 2005 about global warming, 14 of them were reporting that things were “worse than we thought” and only one of them concluded that things weren’t going to be as bad as originally forecast. Given an unbiased prediction, there should be a 50-50 chance that things turned out either worse or better than expected. Under such a scenario, there is only a 1-in-2,000 chance that 14 things out of 15 would be worse. But that’s what happened. So, either the original forecasts were not unbiased, a rare event did indeed occur, or, more likely, the interpretation and reporting went a bit over the top—that is, the press (and to some degree the researchers themselves) only like to hype the more extreme results." (World Climate Report)

"Something nasty in the air" - "Just as the world starts to take carbon emissions seriously, along creeps another environmental crisis - and the reactive nitrogen threat could be worse." (New Scientist)

"Europe's largest climate change experiment launched" - "Scientists at the University of Liverpool have launched a large scale experiment to monitor the impact of climate change on freshwater systems. Dr Heidrun Feuchtmayr and a team from the School of Biological Sciences are conducting a two year project in collaboration with scientists from Belgium, Germany, Norway, Iceland and Denmark, to assess whether a predicted rise in climate temperature for the UK and parts of Europe will increase the toxicity of algae in the country's lakes and ponds." (University of Liverpool)

"Mobile climate monitoring facility to sample skies in Africa" - "The U.S. Department of Energy's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program is placing a new, portable atmospheric laboratory with sophisticated instruments and data systems in Niger, Africa, to gain a better understanding of the potential impacts of Saharan dust on global climate.

Dust from Africa's Sahara desert--the largest source of dust on the planet--reaches halfway around the globe. Carried by winds and clouds, the dust travels through West African, Mediterranean, and European skies, and across the Atlantic into North America. Unfortunately, Africa is one of the most under-sampled climate regimes in the world, leaving scientists to wonder about its contribution to global climate.

"As a point of origin for atmospheric disturbances that evolve into Atlantic storms, the Sahara is not only a driving force for the environmental conditions in Western Africa, but also for the development of weather systems that can reach the United States," said Dr. Raymond Orbach, Director of DOE's Office of Science. "Our ability to predict the impact of the Saharan dust on weather and climate is dependent on gathering accurate and long-term data sets for computer models that simulate these effects." (DOE/US Department of Energy)

"Do trees share blame for global warming?" - "Cows burp it, pipelines and landfills leak it, and vast amounts lie frozen beneath the ocean floor. Methane is ubiquitous - as fuel for heating and cooking and as a source of concern for atmospheric scientists. Molecule for molecule, methane packs thousands of times more punch as a "greenhouse gas" than carbon dioxide does." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Global warming - the blame is not with the plants" - "In a recent study (Nature, 12 January 2006), scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, Utrecht University, Netherlands, and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland, UK, revealed that plants produce the greenhouse gas methane. First estimates indicated that this could account for a significant proportion of methane in the atmosphere. There has been extended media coverage of this work with unfortunately, in many instances, a misinterpretation of the findings. Furthermore, the discovery led to intense speculations on the potential relevance of the findings for reforestation programs in the framework of the Kyoto protocol. These issues need to be put in the right perspective." (Max-Planck-Gesellschaft)

"Aussies tackle global warming" - "SYDNEY -- Amid exploding energy demand from Asia-Pacific countries, resource-rich Australia has emerged as a leader of planned energy supply and use into the foreseeable future. Five high users of energy in the Asia-Pacific, including Japan and China, have given energy-resource exporter Australia the responsibility of chairing regional planning to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and of cochairing a task force to achieve better use of renewable energy." (The Japan Times)

"Warming to Efficiency" - "Readers of recent news reports may think it's news that U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide, the main global-warming gas, are at an all-time high. The real news would be if they dropped steeply, which could only occur with a very warm winter (less space heating), a very cold summer (less air conditioning) or a huge recession, because it takes energy to make things.

Carbon dioxide has been called breath of our civilization, and as we are technologically constituted, it most certainly is. We burn fossil fuels (which combust mainly to carbon dioxide and water) for manufacturing, to go places, and to produce electrical power. While we could certainly substitute in more nuclear fuels for power production, the same forces that are so exercised about global warming being caused by carbon dioxide, in general, won't permit the nuclear option. (That being the definition of environmental insincerity.)" (Patrick J. Michaels, Cato)

"Beijing 'Energy Police' to Patrol Shopping Malls" - "BEIJING - Beijing is setting up an "energy police" force to crack down on excessive lighting and heating and other power waste in shopping malls and office buildings, the China Daily said on Wednesday. The 20 energy-efficiency supervisors would be the front line in the capital's campaign to curb power use, echoing a national drive to improve energy efficiency to curb pollution and dependence on imported oil as the economy grows." (Reuters)

Energy vision: "Mother Nature leaves Green candidate in the dark" - "Long hours on the campaign trail are exhausting many federal election candidates, but one Green Party candidate in southeastern Manitoba has literally run out of energy. Janine Gibson lives in an energy-efficient home powered by only solar and wind energy. However, an extended period of cloudy skies and calm winds left the Provencher candidate without electricity for a 22-day stretch in December. During the days of no sun or wind, Gibson functioned with tiny, energy-friendly LED lights, candles, and oil lamps." (CBC News)

"Cold snap blamed as Gazprom cuts gas supplies to Europe" - "Russia's state gas giant Gazprom yesterday raised the spectre of energy shortages across Europe when it cut exports to Italy and Hungary amid cold weather at home." (The Guardian)

"Diversifying Energy" - "Millions of Europeans were alarmed on New Years Day to wake up and find out that Russia’s dispute with Ukraine over the price of natural gas threatened more than just the Ukrainians—their own countries were threatened, as well. An unforeseen consequence of Vladimir Putin’s decision to close the spigots to Ukraine was a sharp drop-off in Russian natural gas supplies making their way to other parts of the European continent, and Europe is dependent upon Russia for more than a quarter of its natural gas. On that mid-winter morning, many Europeans who assumed the quarrel concerned only Moscow and Kiev suddenly found themselves unable to heat or light their homes.

Though the row was quickly resolved and supplies restored, the crisis provided a much-needed wakeup call for European officials. European Union energy ministers scrambled to meet in emergency session to discuss a topic that, until this month, has not been on their radar screen: energy security, and how to achieve it." (Max Schulz, TAE)

"A new gust of wind projects across the US" - "High natural-gas prices and global-warming concerns may help wind energy gain critical mass." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Mexican Peasants Fight Power Dam Project in Court" - "MEXICO CITY - Mexican peasants are taking their fight against a new hydroelectric dam to the courts, hoping to avoid more bloodshed as thousands in one of Mexico's poorest corners fear they will be forced off their land." (Reuters)

"MALAYSIA: Dirty Dam Draws Dirty Smelters" - "KUALA LUMPUR , Jan 19 - Transnational aluminium smelters, some teaming up with Malaysian partners, are beating a path to eastern Sarawak state with an eye to surplus power from the problem-ridden Bakun Dam. The much-delayed dam in Sarawak, on Borneo island, was originally scheduled for completion in 2003, but is now only expected to gradually generate electricity from late 2009. Faced with soaring electricity tariffs and raw material costs, many aluminium plants have closed shop in the United States and Europe. Major smelters are now scouring the globe for places where electricity is cheap and their sights have narrowed down on Bakun's excess potential even as environmentalists worry about the impact that the dam, and now the smelters, would have on the environment." (IPS)

"Ecologists unmoved by 'green' wave in advertising" - "SEATTLE William Clay Ford Jr., chairman of Ford Motor, stares out from the television screen and pledges that the automaker is "dramatically ramping up its commitment" to environmentally safer cars like gasoline-electric hybrids.

Left unstated in Ford's recent ads: In 2003, the No. 2 U.S. automaker after General Motors, dropped its promise to increase average fuel efficiency on its sport utility fleet. In 2004, the company joined other automakers in suing to block a California law that would limit emissions of gases linked to global warming. And even if Ford meets its goals, low-emission hybrids by 2010 would make up less than 4 percent of the company's fleet.

The "green" advertising wave is on, as companies from Ford to General Electric to BP blitz the airwaves with concern for a clean planet." (Bloomberg News)

"U.S. Will Decode Soybean DNA to Ramp Up Biodiesel Production" - "WASHINGTON, DC, January 17, 2006 - Two U.S. federal government departments have joined forces to decode the DNA of the soybean as a prelude to using the bean to make biodiesel fuel. The sequencing of the soybean genome is the first project resulting from a new agreement between the Departments of Energy and Agriculture to share resources and coordinate the study of plant and microbial genomics." (ENS)

"A decade on: is GM winning hearts and minds?" - "It is ten years since the first large-scale planting of genetically modified (GM) crops. Food Navigator looks at both sides of the argument to assess the future of the technology and its implications for the European food industry." (Food Navigator)

The antis wish: "Biotech 'Revolution' May Be Losing Steam" - "BROOKLIN, Canada, Jan 18 - Just four countries plant 99 percent of the world's genetically engineered (GE) crops, despite more than a decade of hype about the benefits of agricultural biotechnology. The United States, home of the agricultural biotech giant Monsanto, represents 55 percent of the world's GE crops, while Argentina, Canada and Brazil account for the rest." (Stephen Leahy, IPS)

"EU prepares for bruising WTO ruling in biotech case" - "BRUSSELS - Europe may suffer a bruising next month when a world trade panel delivers its long-awaited verdict on whether the EU's six-year blockade on biotech crops and foods was tantamount to a protectionist trade barrier. In 2004, the European Union ended that blockade by allowing imports of a canned sweetcorn engineered by Swiss agrochemicals giant Syngenta. It was the bloc's first new approval of a genetically modified (GMO) crop product since October 1998. Despite the move, the EU may still lose out in a landmark case filed at the World Trade Organization (WTO) by major GMO crop growers Argentina, Canada and the United States, which say its de facto ban hurt their trade and was not based on science." (Reuters)

"UK Peer Speaks Out on GM Crops" - "ST. LOUIS, MO -- Lord Taverne -- Dick Taverne QC -- currently a member of the House of Lords' Science and Technology Committee, speaks out on the proven benefits of genetically modified (GMO) crops following a decade of commercial use on more than one billion acres worldwide." (MARKET WIRE)

January 18, 2006

Bizarrely: "Warmer Al Gore finds a new stump" - "Former vice president asserts his global warming warnings in a documentary." (Los Angeles Times)

Yet he'll have nothing to do with a serious debate between climate scientists... go figure!

Al Gore: the curiously reticent global warming zealot - A couple of weeks ago Junkman and Al Gore met at a function where Al presented a short version of his global warming shtick. During a brief conversation afterwards Junkman floated the idea of a genuine debate between advocate and sceptic climate scientists, a proposal that was at first brushed off and then declared interesting. Subsequent e-mail traffic between Junkman and Al Gore’s handler expanded the idea to perhaps a C-Span televised event, possibly moderated by Al himself.

Well, don't hold your breath. What could have been unprecedented and riveting television won't happen as AGW advocates have decided to "take a pass" on the debate suggestion. The question is, why? We simply do not understand why global warming proselytisers, who seemingly grab every opportunity to expound on their pet topic, would decline such an invitation. Even if they worried about exposing differences of opinion among climate scientists surely those so certain of their correctness would relish the chance to demolish the arguments of "contrarians" on television? Apparently not.

So, help us out here. The topic for this week's poll is "Why do you think former VP and ardent global warming advocate Al Gore won't help set up or be involved in a genuine debate on climate?" (see poll)

Speaking of Al, we understand he's been having rather a lot to say about whether President Bush exceeded his constitutional authority and/or acted illegally while protecting America from terrorists - here's another opinion from Pete du Pont: 'Better Than Well Said' - "Ben Franklin understood the need for secrecy in matters of national security." (Opinion Journal)

Update: As Miceal O'Ronain points out, every time Ozone Al makes major speeches, some poor patch freezes as Russia and northern Asia is now. If he keeps this up it won't be slowing meridional overturning we need worry about as a potential trigger for a new ice age.

"Plan to scrap old ships stirs pollution worries" - "Newport, Ore., weighs job benefits against environmental risks in national salvage effort." (The Christian Science Monitor)

They're basically pretend problems anyway - take the jobs.

"World's biggest fish 'shrinking'" - "Whale sharks spotted off the coast of Australia are getting smaller, researchers have said. In a decade the average size has shrunk from seven metres to five metres. Whale sharks, the world's largest fish, are caught for food in some east Asian countries and Australian researchers suspect this is causing a decline." (BBC)

"Sardines stage comeback in warming waters" - 'SALINAS — Warm ocean currents are bringing back sardines to the Monterey Bay after decades of decline, in numbers that call to mind the heydey of Monterey's Cannery Row. While some scientists think global warming is wreaking havoc elsewhere — whipping up hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, for example -- it also could be partly responsible for the burgeoning sardine population." (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

"Wild Australian summer returns" - "WELCOME back to a typical Australian summer. After three of the driest and warmest years on record we've forgotten what it is like to live through summer in Australia - hot and humid days building to thunderstorms, hail and cyclones. Last year was the warmest since records began in 1910 with a mean temperature of 22.89C. Rainfall was below normal with an average of 399mm falling nationwide - almost 100mm less than the average. This year, the rainfall in January has been widespread and above average. The first cyclone of the season has hit and another one is brewing, and Western Australia and New South Wales are suffering their worst floods on record." (The Australian)

In other words, the situation is perfectly normal in the land down-under. See it so beautifully expressed by Dorothea MacKellar in My Country.

"Is It Warm in Here? We Could Be Ignoring the Biggest Story in Our History" - "One of the puzzles if you're in the news business is figuring out what's "news." The fate of your local football team certainly fits the definition. So does a plane crash or a brutal murder. But how about changes in the migratory patterns of butterflies?

Scientists believe that new habitats for butterflies are early effects of global climate change -- but that isn't news, by most people's measure. Neither is declining rainfall in the Amazon, or thinner ice in the Arctic. We can't see these changes in our personal lives, and in that sense, they are abstractions. So they don't grab us the way a plane crash would -- even though they may be harbingers of a catastrophe that could, quite literally, alter the fundamentals of life on the planet. And because they're not "news," the environmental changes don't prompt action, at least not in the United States." (David Ignatius, Washington Post)

Um, David? When I tried Google News I got a couple of thousand news items for the last month - that's probably more items than have ever been written about my football team by a big margin. Scroll back through this column's archive and you'll find the phantom menace features in about a dozen stories a day and that the angles vary from butterflies to bears, too anything, not enough something, ruminant table manners, worms, Al Gore and other weird and wonderful beasts. It is apparently de rigueur to mention warming in order to get a few column inches and so it's inappropriately spliced with items on research to improve the feed conversion efficiency of livestock, items about healthy dwelling ventilation, tectonic plate movement and even umbrella sales. Where have you been that you've managed to miss the most over-hyped non-story in human history?

Is the Report Linking the Extinction of Frogs with Global Warming a Scientifically Balanced Conclusion? (Climate Science)

"Landslides could worsen with global warming-U.N." - "OSLO, Jan 17 - Landslides kill 800-1,000 people a year and climate change may be adding to the risks from hillside slums in Latin America to Egypt's Valley of the Kings, U.N. experts said on Tuesday. Asia suffered most with 220 landslides in the past century out of about 500 that caused human deaths, they said. Many of the most deadly mudslides were in Latin America and the costliest in Europe. About 800-1,000 people died in landslides in each of the past 20 years, the U.N. University said in a statement." (Reuters)

"Cloudy With a Chance of Chaos" - "Climate change may bring more violent weather swings -- and sooner -- than experts had thought." (Eugene Linden, FORTUNE Magazine)

"Haze dynasty: In China, cloud-free days do not mean sunshine; smog is to blame" - "China has darkened over the past half-century. Where has all the sunshine gone? The usual suspect, at least to a climatologist, would be cloud cover. But in the most comprehensive study to date of overcast versus cloud-free days in China, a team led by the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, reporting in the current advance online issue of Geophysical Research Letters, has found that cloud cover has been decreasing for the past 50 years." (DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

"'Balmy' Winnipeg weather breaks 134-year record" - "Winnipeg weather records dating back to 1872 have been shattered by a three-week spell of "balmy" temperatures that some experts predict will become more common because of global warming." (CBC News)

And this 'balmy' 'heat wave' is supposed to terrify people? Perhaps they'd care to swap with Russia and northern Asia. Sounds 'barmy' to us.

"Scientists explain fluctuating temps" - "A second ice age might not be around the corner any time soon. While many students may be quick to blame New Haven's seemingly aberrant weather -- the heavy rainfall last fall, or the decidedly mild weather experienced after winter break -- on global warming, Yale geologists said that the unseasonably mild weather this year has been neither exceptional nor extraordinary. Professors of geology and geophysics Alexey Fedorov and Steven Sherwood and researcher Dorothy Koch said weather patterns this winter are within the normally expected range." (Yale Daily News)

"Europe In Heat" - "Last week the European Commission gave some official guidance to member states drawing up national plans for allocating carbon dioxide emission allowances for 2008-2012 under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). According to the Commission this second trading period is significant because it coincides with the five-year time frame in which the EU and member states must meet their targets for limiting or reducing emissions of greenhouse gases under the Kyoto Protocol. Member states need to ensure that their emissions strategies, in which allocations under the ETS are an important element, achieve their targets." (Hans H.J. Labohm, TCS Daily)

"Green America" - "The Kyoto environmental protocol committed signatory nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By this standard, Kyoto-loving Europeans are failing. And the U.S. of George Bush, who was heckled globally when he withdrew Bill Clinton's approval of the accord in 2001? Well, it's doing surprisingly well. Let's go to the latest numbers from the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen. Most European countries have seen an increase in greenhouse gas emissions since signing onto Kyoto with great fanfare in 1997. As the table nearby shows, 13 out of the 15 original signatories from the EU are on track to miss their 2010 treaty targets -- by as much as 33 percentage points, in the case of Spain." (The Wall Street Journal)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

The GISS GCM: Moving in the Right Direction: But still having a long way to go.

Subject Index Summaries:
Climate Models (Inadequacies - Radiation): Do state-of-the-art climate models realistically represent all significant radiative forcings throughout earth's atmosphere?

Agriculture (Feeding the World): How has agriculture around the globe responded to the "twin evils" of the radical environmentalist movement, i.e., rising air temperatures and CO 2 concentrations?

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Cucumber, Jimsonweed, Molassesgrass, and Soybean.

Journal Reviews:
Historical Floods and Droughts in the Yangtze Delta: How have they varied over the past millennium?

River Discharge into Canada's Hudson, James and Ungava Bays: 1964-2000: How did it vary over the last 37 years of the 20th century?  And why do we care?

The Little Ice Age in Bolivia: Being as far as Bolivia is from the North Atlantic Ocean, is it possible it could have experienced not just a little ice age but the Little Ice Age?

Tropical Forests in a Changing Environment: Are they changing too? ... and if so, how and why?

Heat-Related Deaths in London, Sao Paulo and Delhi: How do they vary as a function of economic development and population age structure? (co2science.org)

"Confab tests climate for change as China steps on gas" - "FOR all the predictable cynicism it fuelled, last week's Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate could prove a signal moment in the international fight against carbon dioxide emissions. While even capitalism's weekly bible, The Economist, was reduced to describing AP6 as just "more hot air", the conference actually offered important insights into the changing attitude of government and industry to climate change, its causes and potential solutions." (The Australian)

"Underground basalt promising as a repository for excess CO2" - "RICHLAND, Wash. - Millions of years ago, lava repeatedly spewed from giant fissures in the earth's crust, engulfing more than 60,000 square miles of the Pacific Northwest. The floods left behind layers of dark gray basalt thousands of feet thick.
The basalt still lies beneath the surface in much of the region, and researchers now believe they have found a key use for the porous rock: storing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants." (Associated Press)

"UK Green Lobby Girds for Nuclear Battle Over Energy" - "LONDON - Environmentalists are preparing for a battle with the nuclear industry to persuade the British public that green, not atomic, power is the path to the future." (Reuters)

Green energy vision: "Use of cow dung fuel gains ground in Barisal" - "Jan 16: The use of cow dung fuel has gained ground in Barisal region in recent days. Due to abnormally high price of fuel, inadequate facilities of LP gas and its high price, erratic power supply, use of fuel made of cow dung is gaining popularity all over the Barisal region, sources said." (The Independent, Bangladesh)

"Biofuel raises global dilemmas" - "The massive depots at Wessex Grain's sprawling processing plant in Henstridge are filled to the brim, not only with locally grown wheat, but also with hope for a more environment-friendly future." (BBC)

"Waste incineration 'set to rise'" - "Ministers are preparing to back a large increase in the amount of rubbish that is incinerated instead of being buried, according to documents seen by the BBC. An environment department paper, to be published next month, suggests the proportion of burned waste could rise from 9% to 25% in the next 15 years. It urges making "energy from waste", a process in which incinerators are used to power electricity generation plants. Friends of the Earth labelled as "myth" claims refuse can provide green energy." (BBC)

Nonetheless, incineration is frequently the most environmentally benign way of getting rid of it, fruitloop claims notwithstanding.

"Live-in bugs fight HIV" - "Some of the 'friendly bacteria' found in yoghurt have been genetically modified to release a drug that blocks HIV infection. Although the bacteria have only been tested in a lab dish, scientists are optimistic that the technique could provide a cheaper and more effective way of delivering drugs to fight the spread of AIDS, by getting the bugs to live right where the drugs are needed most." (Nature)

"Parliament hears legislation hampers biotech research" - "Biotechnology research and development in South Africa should not be hampered by onerous and unnecessary safety checks, members of Parliament's agriculture and land affairs committee heard on Tuesday. Speaking at a public hearing on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), University of Pretoria honorary Professor Jocelyn Webster said it was only very large companies or public institutions in wealthy, developed countries that could afford all the biosafety assessments required. Webster told the South African Press Association after her presentation she was certainly not suggesting South Africa took safety shortcuts on GMOs." (Mail & Guardian)

"Scientists, Monsanto warn on law’s costs" - "CAPE TOWN — Local scientists yesterday joined seed giant Monsanto in warning government that its plans to tighten legislation on genetically modified (GM) crops would drive up the cost of research, and hamper international collaboration. Parliament yesterday began hearings on proposed changes to the Genetically Modified Organisms Act, intended to bring the law into line with the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which SA signed in 2003. The treaty lays down rules for transfer and use of such material. Lobbyists from both sides of the divide seized the opportunity to highlight flaws in SA’s current regulatory framework and punch holes in changes proposed in the Genetically Modified Organisms Amendment Bill being considered by Parliament." (Business Day)

‘Ghana can produce own genetically modified seeds’  - "The Coordinator of the Programme for Biosafety Systems (PBS) for West and Central Africa Professor Walter Sandow Alhassan has said Ghana can produce its own genetically modified seeds that farmers can keep. This he said is possible only when government builds the capacity of its scientists as well as absorbs the huge costs that would be involved on behalf of the farmers. "We can put a gene in the seed to enable farmers keep them but the public sector must be ready to absorb the cost," he said." (checkbiotech.org)

"Cartagena Biosafety Protocol To Drive Up Food Costs" - "MAKATI CITY, January 18, 2006 (MALAYA) COMPLIANCE with the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol to the Convention of Biological Diversity will increase the cost of imported food and feeds, a study of the International Food and Agricultural Trade Policy Council (IFATPC) said recently. The study said developing countries would be particularly affected and compliance with the protocol could eventually defeat the role of biotechnology in helping address health and food supply problems, especially in poor countries." (PHNO)

"Monsanto CEO sees no reason to alter course" - "Hugh Grant, chairman and chief executive of Monsanto Co., said Tuesday the company's strategy for remaining No. 1 in its industry is "the same old, same old - improving the offerings that are in the market today." What's interesting, he said, is how Monsanto will execute that strategy. In an interview after the annual shareholders meeting at Monsanto's Creve Coeur headquarters, Grant said he is prepared for increased competition in genetically modified, or GM, crops - a technology Monsanto pioneered - and hybrid seeds." (St Louis Post-Dispatch)

January 17, 2006

"Uganda Fighting for Right to Eradicate Malaria" - "Environmental activists are callously denying the citizens of Uganda, where 70,000 people die every year due to malaria, the right to use DDT to eradicate the disease, the U.S. Senate was told on September 28." (AFM)

"A Wristwatch For Detecting Malaria" - "A wristwatch for detecting malaria - a novel idea, but prevention is always better than early detection! A controlled IRS program would be a fraction of the cost and individuals could possibly having to take the treatments." (AFM)

"New Salt and Health Periodical" - "Alexandria, VA (Jan. 17, 2006)--What does medical research tell us about the health effects of dietary salt? That's what will be explored quarterly in a new Salt and Health newsletter announced today by the Salt Institute, the global association of salt companies.

"American taxpayers have invested billions to discover the key to reducing heart attacks and strokes," explained Salt Institute president Richard L. Hanneman. "Since cardiovascular events cost the economy trillions of dollars, to say nothing of the human tragedy they represent, the investment seems well justified. As a society, we leave to pharmaceutical companies the pursuit of drug therapies, but rely on governments to lead on public health remedies," he continued. "We need to consider whether we are asking the right questions with regard to lifestyle changes. In particular, does medical research support a public health policy of reducing dietary salt as a means of reducing heart attacks? That's what Salt and Health is directed to discover and report."

The online newsletter is distributed free as a public service at http://www.saltinstitute.org/subscribe. Each issue features the answer to one key question. The inaugural issue asks: "Will reducing dietary salt lower the risk of cardiovascular disease?"

Note: The newsletter itself is available online at http://www.saltinstitute.org/

"Leukemia risk from chlorination seen mixed" - "NEW YORK - Long-term exposure to the by-products of chlorination in drinking water appears to raise the risk of one type of leukemia -- chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) -- but decrease the risk of chronic lymphoid leukemia (CLL) and other types, new research shows.

The findings, which appear in the American Journal of Epidemiology, are based on a population-based study comparing 686 leukemia cases and 3420 similar but unaffected "controls" for whom water quality information was available for 30 years or longer. The subjects were Canadian residents between 20 and 74 years of age." (Reuters Health)

"Torpedo boat 'birth defect link'" - "Service aboard a Norwegian navy torpedo boat has been linked to an increased risk of having children with birth defects, a study says." (BBC) | Norwegian torpedo boat service associated with increased risk of birth defects (BMJ Specialty Journals)

"House insecticides leukaemia fear" - "Household insecticides may increase the risk of acute childhood leukaemia, a French study suggests. The research, in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine journal, focused on data from 568 children - half of whom had acute leukaemia. The team from the Inserm medical research institute also found exposure to insecticidal shampoos doubled the risk of developing the disease. But UK cancer experts said the report did not prove there was a link." (BBC) | Household insecticides associated with increased risk of childhood leukaemia (BMJ Specialty Journals)

"Pesticide may reduce fertility, says study" - "A common garden pesticide may be harming male fertility by suppressing levels of the sex hormone testosterone, a study has found. Researchers measured by-products of a pesticide, chlorpyrifos, in males undergoing fertility treatment and found that those with the lowest testosterone levels had the most pesticide by-product in their systems." (The Guardian)

"Industrial pollutant linked to cancer" - "Prolonged exposure to cadmium, a common pollutant in industrial nations, can increase the risk of cancer, new research warns. A study by Belgian scientists indicates that people exposed to cadmium in the environment have an increased risk of cancer. The metal has a toxic effect and a slow half-life, accumulating in the body over a lifetime. Published in The Lancet Oncology, the study warns that cadmium exposure can occur through eating contaminated food and by inhaling tobacco smoke or polluted air." (DeHaviland)

"Exercise 'cuts Alzheimer's risk'" - "Regular exercise reduces the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease by up to 40%, US research suggests." (BBC) | Exercise is linked to later onset of dementia and Alzheimer's disease (Group Health Cooperative Center for Health Studies)

Oh my! "New data on trends in obesity in Canada" - "Peter Katzmarzyk and Caitlin Mason report on their analysis of data from 7 national surveys on the trends in overweight and obesity in the general Canadian population from 1985 to 2003. Although the prevalence of overall obesity is known to have increased, they wanted to see if the same has been true for each of the 3 classes of obesity, especially the more extreme classes. The proportion of Canadians with class II and III obesity has increased, from 1% in 1985 to 4.3 % in 2004, an over 400% increase in 10 years." (Canadian Medical Association Journal) | Prevalence of class I, II and III obesity in Canada (.pdf)

We realise time seems to be flying but 1985-2004 = 10 years? Such date arithmetic hardly inspires great confidence in this study.

"Katrina's racial paranoia" - "AS THE commission appointed by Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans unveils an ambitious plan to rebuild the ravaged city, this is a good time to revisit some of the myths and assumptions that surround Hurricane Katrina." (Cathy Young, Boston Globe)

Does Donald Kennedy Read Science? (Prometheus)

"Scientists to poke heads in clouds" - "International storm chasers gathering in Australia this week will release more than 1000 weather balloons over the next month as part of the nation's largest meteorological study." (ABC Science Online)

Interesting timing: "Belgium : ICFTU says environment to be key issue for trade unions in 2006" - "The World Trade Union Assembly on Labour and the Environment was officially opened on Sunday 15 January in Nairobi, at the head office of UNEP. Trade unions from all over the world are debating the best ways to engage in concrete action in the struggle for a sustainable environment." (fibre2fashion.com)

At least some of the Labor hierarchy in Australia have realised the error of the labour movement embracing misanthropic Green dogma: Martin Ferguson: Embrace clean energy - "...It is extraordinary that the Greens could place the economic security and jobs of their constituents at risk and at the same time advocate a worse greenhouse outcome by displacing Australian industry to countries with lower standards. It's time to abandon the political correctness espoused by the green movement..." more: Ferguson splits Left on Kyoto - "LABOR'S left-wing powerbroker Martin Ferguson has urged the party to renounce the Greens and support the Howard Government's Asia-Pacific climate partnership. The Opposition resources spokesman said it was time to abandon the "political correctness" of the environmental movement and recognise the role of Australian business in providing jobs."

Familiar pose: "'Share Our Sky' campaign addresses Canadians' desire to help fight climate change" - "TORONTO, Jan. 16 - World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF-Canada) is launching a national public engagement campaign today to combat climate change. Unless urgent action is taken to reduce fossil fuel pollution, climate change will have dangerous and irreversible effects on nature and people in Canada and around the world. To tackle climate change at an international, national and local level, WWF-Canada's goal is to raise $2,000,000 by June 2006 and engage Canadians via an interactive website." (CNW)

Situation normal, scream (very loudly) about impending doom, then ask for money to 'save' us from the phantom menace - when disaster does not strike, claim to have narrowly averted it but need more cash. What a tedious game this is.

Oops! Overdone? "Green campaigners support Lovelock for sparking fresh debate on global warming" - "Leading British greens have taken a divided view of the prediction by the environmental scientist James Lovelock, featured in The Independent yesterday, that the Earth has passed the point of no return for global warming. Some fully shared his concern for the speed at which global warming appears to be proceeding, and gave credit to his scientific expertise, while finding themselves unable - or unwilling - to agree with the awesome proposition that it may already be too late to stop it." (London Independent)

Maybe: "Global warming: Is it too late to save our planet?" - "GLOBAL warming is irreversible and billions of people will die over the next century, one of the world's leading climate change scientists claimed yesterday. Professor James Lovelock, the scientist who developed the Gaia principle (that Earth is a self-regulating, interconnected system), claimed that by the year 2100 the only place where humans will be able to survive will be the Arctic. In a forthcoming book, The Revenge of Gaia, Lovelock warns that attempts to reduce levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere may already be too late." (The Scotsman)

Nah! Still time to fundraise: "Flannery sets deadline to save world" - "Australian scientist Tim Flannery said the world still had "one to two decades" to take action to reduce global warming, despite one of Britain's best-known environmentalists warning that the world has already passed the point of no return on global warming." (Sydney Morning Herald)

Not Lovelock but he's certainly a prize winner: "Scientist's climate change honour" - "The achievements of a world-renowned expert on climate change have been recognised with an international award." (BBC)

"Fewer wetland birds migrate to UK" - "Fewer migrating ducks, geese and wading birds are wintering in Britain because more are staying closer to their Arctic breeding grounds due to global warming." (BBC)

"Call to plant more trees despite global warming claims" - "MORE tree planting has been called for - despite claims that they contribute to global warming. Conservation charity the Woodland Trust made the appeal following a study published in Nature magazine which suggests plants and trees account for a substantial amount of methane, a major greenhouse gas. Woodland Trust chief executive Sue Holden says trees have been around for millennia and insists their contribution to regulating the planet's climate and biodiversity vastly outweigh any theoretical harm." (Western Mail)

Say what? "Farms drying out the globe" - "The United Nations has declared 2006 to be International Year of Deserts and Desertification. This is in response to the growing realization that the global growth of desert areas has become a major threat to humanity. While many commentators focus on the melting of the ice cap and the rising of our oceans, others are pointing to the effects of rising temperatures and increasing wind speeds on drier areas of the planet. Arid lands cover 40 per cent of the globe and are home to one-third of the world’s population." (Zack Gross, Brandon Sun)

Um, Zack? 70% of the globe is under water, of the remaining 30% approximately one-fifth is covered by snow and ice, about a third is well-watered and/or rain- forest and that doesn't leave anywhere near 40% of the globe for your claimed arid lands, does it. Even then major arid regions such as the Sahel show signs of greening again, so 'growth of desert areas' is far from certain.

"Here's a Russian Indicator Everyone Should Watch: Amity Shlaes" - "So Angela Merkel has pledged, after her visit to Moscow, to continue ``very intensive dialogue'' with President Vladimir Putin about topics such as democratic freedom. That's not good enough. She needs to pressure Putin on a specific sort of freedom, one that was represented, until recently, by a single name: Andrei." (Bloomberg)

"Big gaps in state's plans for emissions" - "Governor Mitt Romney has touted Massachusetts's first-in-the-nation plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions from the dirtiest power plants, but the plan that went into effect Jan. 1 remains incomplete, and Romney is pushing changes that could allow plants to avoid pollution reductions. The governor's proposed changes would permit power plants to expand the use of ''offsets" -- measures intended to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere -- to compensate for excess pollution at their facilities. The offsets could, in certain cases, be purchased anywhere around the world, meaning a facility owner could pay to plant a forest in Chile, for example, or capture gases seeping from a landfill in India." (Boston Globe)

"Gov. Romney's Hesitation" - "When Mitt Romney was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2002, he was widely regarded as an environmentalist. Not anymore. His subsequent refusal to oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is relevant only insofar as it affects his potential (long-shot) Republican candidacy for president. More to the point is Mr. Romney's refusal to join his counterparts from seven Northeast states in supporting a regional accord to reduce the emissions that scientists have linked to global warming." (Hartford Courant)

"British swing back to nuclear power" - "A MAJORITY of the British public would support the building of nuclear power stations provided that it helped to tackle climate change, according to a study published today. It is the first time since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 that most Britons have indicated a willingness to have more nuclear power stations built, the study suggests. However, the 54 per cent approval rating is contingent on nuclear power being used to reduce or slow global warming. Only 3 per cent of the 1,491 people polled said that they did not believe that action should be taken to reduce carbon emissions. If climate change is not taken into account, nuclear power remains unpopular, with 59 per cent of respondents adamant that it should be scrapped." (London Times)

"Nuclear power 'cannot tackle climate change'" - "New nuclear power stations would do little to combat climate change, according to a leading expert who has hit out at what he calls the "abysmal" standard of debate on the issue in the UK. Kevin Anderson, a senior research fellow at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, said claims that nuclear power was the only way for Britain to meet demanding greenhouse gas targets were fundamentally wrong. He said: "That argument is way too simplistic. We can easily deal with climate change without nuclear power." (The Guardian)

"New cocoa evidence on why plant foods are beneficial to cardiovascular health" - "HACKETTSTOWN, NJ (Jan. 16, 2006) – While a growing number of studies has shown a link between flavanol-rich cocoa and cardiovascular health, scientists have now substantiated a causal relationship between specific compounds present in cocoa and cardiovascular health. Published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) , this new study identifies the flavanol, (-)epicatechin, as one of the bioactive nutrients in cocoa that can improve the ability of blood vessels to relax." (Weber Shandwick Worldwide)

"Are organic foods oversold?" - "Premium prices, but little evidence of health advantages." (Kristen Gerencher, MarketWatch)

"Food for thought: Vitamin-enriched rice’s here" - "Ahmedabad, January 16: Rice that can prevent blindness? This is no longer a dream. Vitamin-enriched rice may soon be available at the neighbourhood kirana store. After the successful implementation of Bt cotton seeds by Indian farmers, the South-Asian Biosafety Program (SABP) has sought the commercial release of rice genetically modified to include Vitamin A. SABP has also modified brinjal seeds to reduce the use of insecticides. SABP is an international developmental programme supported by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). It is implemented in India and Bangladesh by the International Food Policy Research Institute. Currently in the fifth (approval) phase, the hybrid rice and brinjal seeds will increase yield, while reducing the use of insecticides. While the brinjal seeds have been modified to fight insects, the rice called Golden Rice is enriched with Vitamin A. The only drawback is the price. If the Centre okays sale of these seeds, it will be available for a higher price compared to the regular ones." (Express News Service)

"Custom-Made Microbes, at Your Service" - "Synthetic biologists seek to create living machines and biological devices that can perform novel tasks." (New York Times)

"Politics limits Swiss ability to innovate" - "A European Union study on innovation, which puts Switzerland ahead of the United States should be taken with a pinch of salt, says a top competition expert." (swissinfo)

January 16, 2006

"GE Urged to Stop Opposing Shareholder Resolution on Global Warming Science" - "Washington DC January 12, 2006 – Action Fund Management LLC, investment adviser to the Free Enterprise Action Fund (www.FreeEnterpriseActionFund.com), called on the General Electric Company to cease its opposition to a shareholder resolution requesting the company to justify its global warming policy." (PR WEB)

"Respected Norwegian scientist faked study on oral cancer" - "A Norwegian cancer scientist has been exposed as a fake after falsifying a study on oral cancer published in the renowned medical journal The Lancet. Jon Sudboe, 44, invented more than 900 individuals as the basis for his research on the correlation between taking anti-inflammatory drugs, such as paracetamol, and oral cancer. The article, published in October, concluded individuals who took anti-inflammatory drugs were less likely to develop the disease. "He faked everything: names, diagnosis, gender, weight, age, drug use," Stein Vaaler, director of strategy at Oslo's Radium hospital, said. "There is no real data whatsoever, just figures he made up himself. Every patient in this paper is a fake." (The Guardian)

"EPA’s Faith-Based Pollution Standards" - "There is no question that high levels of air pollution can kill. About 4,000 Londoners died during the infamous five-day “London Fog” of December 1952, when soot and sulfur dioxide soared to levels tens of times greater than the highest levels experienced in the United States today, and visibility dropped to less than 20 feet. The question now is whether current, historically low levels of air pollution can also be deadly.

The Clinton administration adopted the nation’s first standards for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in 1997. The Environmental Protection Agency claims its new more stringent standard will save thousands of additional lives each year. On the other hand, environmentalists and many air pollution researchers claim EPA is killing thousands of people by not clamping down even further. As I detail below, both views are mistaken." (Joel Schwartz, TCS Daily)

"Putting The Worst Face on Cosmetic Safety" - "Media stories hype activist fears by ignoring the science." (Trevor Butterworth, STATS)

"Pregnancy drug use 'too cautious'" - "Drug companies are being overly cautious in advising pregnant women to avoid using many of their most useful medicines, a leading doctor says. Dr Jim Kennedy, the Royal College of GPs head of prescribing, said expectant mothers were told not to take many drugs when there was no proof of harm. He called for a rethink as some women were actually risking their health more by not being treated in the best way." (BBC)

"Mental health link to diet change" - "Changes to diets over the last 50 years may be playing a key role in the rise of mental illness, a study says. Food campaigners Sustain and the Mental Health Foundation said the way food was now produced had altered the balance of key nutrients people consume. The period has also seen the UK population eating less fresh food and more saturated fats and sugars. They said this is leading to depression and memory problems, but food experts said the research was not conclusive." (BBC)

And apparent changes in mental health would have nothing to do with the manner in which people self medicate, would it. It never fails to amaze us that some of the very people most concerned about minute environmental exposure to "synthetic" compounds - pollutants, as they claim - will take "recreational" drugs of unknown quality and purity, smoke marijuana that could have been grown in mine tailings and loaded with cyanide, for all anyone knows, and then whinge about ETS from quality controlled tobacco or "contaminated" food - go figure!

"Hope for new way to beat obesity" - "Scientists believe it could be possible to treat obesity by altering levels of fatty acids in a key area of the brain." (BBC)

"Let's accept the fault line between faith and science" - "The divide over evolution can't be solved because the truth simply can't be bent, but the dialogue can move this planet forward nonetheless." (Edward O. Wilson, USA Today)

"Bellamy out, Beckham in, for Greens" - "Football legends and pop stars are to be courted by the environment movement as part of a radical makeover to persuade more people to change their ways." (The Observer)

"Make green message cool, activists told" - "The green movement needs to rebrand itself because people are being put off by its "sackcloth and ashes" image, according to a report backed by major environmental groups. The report argues that to appeal beyond its core audience the movement must become cool. "Selling sacrifice will never, ever work," said Stephen Hounsham of Transport 2000. Most people are either scared off by threats of impending doom or dismiss the solutions as "do-gooding", he said." (The Guardian)

On GoreSat: "Scorched Earth" - "NASA has quietly terminated the Deep Space Climate Observatory, citing "competing priorities." The news media took little notice. Few Americans, after all, had even heard of the program. But the entire world may come to mourn its passing. Earth is growing warmer. Even the most strident global-warming deniers have taken to saying that a little warming is a good thing. If the trend continues, however, it will have catastrophic consequences for life on this planet. Correctly identifying the cause could be the most important problem facing humanity." (Robert L. Park, New York Times)

The TRIANA project: "The prime objective of this proposed project, named TRIANA, is to provide a "real time" image of the full sunlit disk of the Earth for educational outreach opportunities. Images from the satellite would be available through an Internet World Wide Web site to be maintained and updated by the educational community." Well Bob, if it's pictures of the planet you want, click on the adjacent thumbnail to see a 500x500 image of the Earth taken by the Apollo 17 mission in 1972 or here for the 1880x1880 version (725Kb). Certainly an awesome picture but is it justification for Triana? Would people be any more inspired by "Gore's screensaver" than they already are by currently available weather animations constructed from currently available satellite composites? Somehow we expect the "wow factor" would quickly wear off because animations of the planet have been made passé by cheap sci-fis so what do you expect from images of Earth? Changing vegetation? We can do that already from near-orbit. Cloudiness? Same deal. What are you hoping for from L-cam? Too far and too expensive for traffic reports and about as exciting as watching paint dry.

The Week That Was Jan. 14, 2006 (SEPP)

"Global warming agitprop" - "You'd think The New Yorker would practice fair-and-balanced journalism -- for its readers' sake, at least.

The elite weekly's readership -- disproportionately smart, wealthy and liberal -- includes many powerful people in the overlapping worlds of politics and media. It's a good bet few of them faithfully devour National Review or Reason magazines. So if they are ever going to be confronted with "the other side" of an important, complex and overheated debate like global warming, they'll have to get it from The New Yorker.

Fat chance." (Bill Steigerwald, Tribune-Review)

Satellite global temperature trends; still much less warming than Jones and GISS (Warwick Hughes)

Another Example of the First-Order Climate Forcing and Feedback Effect of Vegetation (Climate Science)

More on Multi-decadal Climate Forecast Skill - A Response to http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/ (Climate Science)

What are the consequences of incorrectly assuming linearity? (Number Watch)

"Media Jump On Study Showing Frogs Dying Off From Climate Change" - "But critics who say they croaked from other causes are ignored." (Ken Shepherd, Free Market Project)

No point worrying about it? "Environment in crisis: 'We are past the point of no return'" - "Thirty years ago, the scientist James Lovelock worked out that the Earth possessed a planetary-scale control system which kept the environment fit for life. He called it Gaia, and the theory has become widely accepted. Now, he believes mankind's abuse of the environment is making that mechanism work against us. His astonishing conclusion - that climate change is already insoluble, and life on Earth will never be the same again." (London Independent)

"James Lovelock: The Earth is about to catch a morbid fever that may last as long as 100,000 years" - "Each nation must find the best use of its resources to sustain civilisation for as long as they can." (London Independent)

"Why Gaia is wreaking revenge on our abuse of the environment" - "With anyone else, you would not really take it seriously: the proposition that because of climate change, human society as we know it on this planet may already be condemned, whatever we do. It would seem not just radical, but outlandish, mere hyperbole. And we react against it instinctively: it seems simply too sombre to be countenanced." (London Independent)

"Global warming to speed up as carbon levels show sharp rise" - "Global warming is set to accelerate alarmingly because of a sharp jump in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Preliminary figures, exclusively obtained by The Independent on Sunday, show that levels of the gas - the main cause of climate change - have risen abruptly in the past four years. Scientists fear that warming is entering a new phase, and may accelerate further." (London Independent)

"The boiling point is coming for the fight against climate change" - "Environmentalists must use their anger at the government's betrayal on global warming to mobilise the mainstream" (Madeleine Bunting, The Guardian)

"Scotland faces thousands of deaths from heatwaves" - "CLIMATE change will bring thousands of deaths to Scotland later this century unless urgent changes are made now to prepare for rising temperatures. Professor Paul Wilkinson of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is to warn at a conference next month that in less than half a century the UK will endure the kind of heatwaves that killed tens of thousands across Europe in 2003." (Sunday Herald)

"Climate change needs strategy, not theology" - "THE Asia-Pacific Partnership's inaugural ministerial meeting in Sydney should not become the latest target or weapon in the tit-for-tat politicking dominating debate about climate change and global warming." (Courier-Mail)

"Business deal or bright idea?" - "To insiders, the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate is a real world, mature-person's solution to climate change." (BBC)

"Climate change plan takes heat off US, Australia" - "SYDNEY - While environmentalists contend a climate change plan agreed by some of the world's worst polluters this week will do little to halt global warming, analysts say it will reduce political pressure on the United States and Australia to sign the Kyoto Protocol." (AFP)

"Greenpeace co-founder praises global warming" - "Global warming and nuclear energy are good and the way to save forests is to use more wood. That was the message delivered to a biotechnology industry gathering yesterday in Waikiki. However, it wasn't the message that was unconventional, but the messenger — Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore. Moore said he broke with Greenpeace in the 1980s over the rise of what he called "environmental extremism," or stands by environmental groups against issues such as genetic crop research, genetically modified foods and nuclear energy that aren't supported by science or logic." (Honolulu Advertiser)

"Energy providers at odds over emissions standards" - "With just months to go before a new system is put in place to monitor corporate greenhouse gas emissions, energy providers are still bickering over how high--or how low--emissions standards should be set." (Asahi Shimbun)

SF Chronicle GW Series: Sunday: Polar bears signal changing pack ice in the Arctic. Monday: Subtle seaside transformation in California. Tuesday: A family sees its way of life threatened in Mexico.

"The hogwash that is greenwash is nothing but self-interest" - "Big Oil's tactic of trumpeting environmental credentials is false advertising, writes Grahame Dowling." (Sydney Morning Herald)

The major flaw in this argument being that the more we look at it, the less GHGs seem to be forcing climate. If GHGs were a major forcing then we would expect at least the sign of apparent trends to be the same for both northern and southern polar regions, yet they are not despite GHG levels being virtually identical. Counter-intuitively, despite the north having significant 'advantage' in cooling anthropogenic sulphate particulates, 27 years of satellite-mounted MSU data indicate a northern polar region trend of +0.4 °C/decade since the PDO shifted to its +ve phase while the southern polar region, with its clearer air and greater warming potential, has a trend of -0.1 °C/decade over the same period. Now, since the same instruments and processing are producing these results it is irrelevant just how accurate they may be because any error is consistent for both regions. Clearly, since enhanced greenhouse should be the same or slightly greater in the clearer southern atmosphere, something has stomped all over any enhanced greenhouse signal and that something (or things) is showing us that enhanced greenhouse is not a major driver of climatic change.

"Power companies predict return of coal" - "The world is on the brink of a big switch from gas to coal as the preferred fuel for power stations, according to projections from Alstom, Siemens and General Electric, the world’s three biggest power equipment makers." (Financial Times)

"Hilltop giants" - "Both admired and villified, this fleet of towering windmills will soon make way for larger, more efficient replacements." (Alex Breitler, The Record)

Unable to get their snouts further into the public trough: "Cleaner projects gone with the wind" - "WIND farm projects worth billions of dollars are being scrapped by developers citing the federal Government's refusal to boost renewable energy targets. "We're quitting Australia," Energreen Wind business development director Alan Keller told The Weekend Australian yesterday. "That's the end of it for us." As the inaugural meeting of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate wrapped up in Sydney, industry leaders claimed wind farm projects worth between $10billion and $12billion were being lost to overseas markets." (The Australian)

"After a lull, race is on for nuclear plants" - "This month, Progress Energy and Duke Energy plan to announced sites for new plants. Progress also will build in Florida." (Associated Press)

"Nuclear power critics reviving more slowly than industry" - "RALEIGH, N.C. - With guaranteed federal loans and insurance protection promised to the first power companies to build a new wave of nuclear plants, the race is on for construction of up to 10 stations between Maryland and Mississippi.

At least two utilities plan to announce their intended sites within a few weeks. And some communities appear enthusiastic about luring the jobs and tax dollars the plants would bring. One South Carolina county looking to land a proposed Duke Energy Corp. plant has even offered a 50 percent break on property taxes.

But even with the nuclear power industry in an apparent resurgence in the fast-growing Southeast, one traditional participant in the debate over nuclear power has remained largely silent. Environmentalists, mostly mum so far about the potential dangers and pitfalls associated with this proposed round of reactors, say they're just taking a long view." (Associated Press)

"Corn Farmers Smile as Ethanol Prices Rise, but Experts on Food Supplies Worry" - "High oil prices have increased the value of ethanol, and the price of corn, from which it is made. As a result, many farmers are altering their planting decisions." (New York Times)

Plant food good - unless people make it: "The case against synthetic fertilizers" - "Industrial process opens door to many environmental risks" (Deborah K. Rich, SF Chronicle)

"Statement On The Effect Of Gm Soya On Newborn Rats" (.pdf) - "The Committee has examined a report provided to it by Dr Irina Ermakova containing preliminary results from a study of genetically modified (herbicide-tolerant) soya that was conducted in Russia. The report described reduced growth and increased mortality amongst pups born to rats given soya flour from GM soya beans, when compared with those born to rats given non-GM soya flour or a control group given no soya. The report lacks detail essential to meaningful assessment of the results. In particular, it does not provide key information concerning the composition and nutritional adequacy of the test diets. Also, the Committee notes that these are preliminary results; the study has not been quality-controlled through the normal peer review process preceding scientific publication." (Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes, 5 December 2005)

January 13, 2006

"Plants Bad for the Environment? Celebrities Causing Frogs to Croak?" - "Could it be that celebrities are planting the forests that are causing the global warming that is growing the disease that is wiping out the frogs?" (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Beware how you meddle with climate change" - "Everyone knows trees are "A Good Thing". They take in the carbon dioxide that threatens our planet with global warming and turn it into fresh, clean oxygen for us all to breathe. But now it seems we need to think again. In a discovery that has left climate scientists gasping, researchers have found that the earth's vegetation is churning out vast quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent even than CO2. This is not a product of trees and plants rotting, which everyone already knew was a source of methane; it is an entirely natural side-effect of plant growth that scientists had somehow missed. Yet it is by no means trivial: preliminary estimates suggest that living trees and plants account for about 10 to 30 per cent of the methane entering the atmosphere." (Robert Matthews, Financial Times)

More Complications on Quantifying the Radiative Effects of Well-mixed Greenhouse Gases (Climate Science)

Carbon claptrap from left to right, and in the centre (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Tories would turn back Kyoto" - "A Conservative government would abandon the Kyoto accord and set new Canadian-made targets that were easier to meet, Stephen Harper said Thursday in Halifax. Harper said Kyoto's emission targets couldn't be met within Canada, or even internationally. He pointed to the country's woeful record on climate change since the agreement was signed in 1997. "The Kyoto accord will not succeed at achieving its objectives and this government, the Canadian government, cannot achieve its objectives," Harper said." (CBC News)

"Climate talks put industry on the spot" - "Asia-Pacific partners tackle dirty business but avoid emissions targets." (Nature)

"Full text: AP6 Communiqué" - "Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate Inaugural Ministerial Meeting - Sydney, January 2006" (via NBR)

Signs Australia's Centre-Left waking from their schizophrenic watermelon state:  "Ferguson splits Left on Kyoto" - "LABOR'S left-wing powerbroker Martin Ferguson has urged the party to renounce the Greens and support the Howard Government's Asia-Pacific climate partnership. The Opposition resources spokesman said it was time to abandon the "political correctness" of the environmental movement and recognise the role of Australian business in providing jobs. "It is extraordinary that the Greens could place the economic security and jobs of their constituents at risk," Mr Ferguson said. "Let's be real - without getting business on board we cannot achieve anything." Mr Ferguson, who also reiterated his support for nuclear power, opened a split in the party and the Left after acting Labor leader Jenny Macklin yesterday criticised the six-nation Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate talks in Sydney." (The Australian)

"Big greenhouse gas cuts claim" - "JOHN Howard's Asia-Pacific climate pact could slash greenhouse gas emissions in member countries by as much as 30 per cent by 2050, according to the federal Government's own economic forecaster. Research from the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics also found that, in the best-case scenario, projects proposed by the six member countries could cut global greenhouse gases by 23 per cent." (The Australian)

"The mission to cut gas emissions relies on several key assumptions" - "THE figures sound good at first. Without the Asia-Pacific partnership, by 2050, greenhouse gas emissions across the six member nations would be 23 per cent higher. That's nothing to scoff at." (The Age)

Uh, Melissa? The need to do anything is based on a plethora of assumptions (multiple virtual worlds, in fact), more of which are shown to be false each week. Just imagine if yesterday's news about forest methane emissions is confirmed - there go a lot of assumptions about 'natural' greenhouse gas levels, anthropogenic sources, carbon sinks... Just think how much that further undermines Kyoto because the human contribution just got smaller and the opportunity to "adjust" the climate with it.

No? Duh! "$445m for cleaner energy, but it won't stop climate change" - "A HIGH-POWERED deal struck in Sydney yesterday may push some of the world's biggest polluters to improve their performance, but an analysis revealed it would fall short of avoiding dangerous climate change." (The Age)

When will reporters ever learn that "change" is the natural state of climate and there ain't no stoppin' it?

Told you it was a huge success: "A do-nothing way of saving us all" - "NO TARGETS, no timetables, no carrots, no stick. There was little on offer yesterday to tackle one of the biggest challenges facing the world: climate change." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Agenda won't risk jobs: PM" - "JOHN Howard has promised business leaders that he will not pursue an environmental agenda based on reducing economic growth and jobs. At a private meeting with chief executives and business leaders at his Sydney office yesterday, the Prime Minister impressed delegates and business observers in town for climate talks. Peabody Energy chairman Irl F.Engelhardt, who runs the world's largest private-sector coal company, said Mr Howard stressed the need to balance environmental reforms against risks to jobs and the economy. "It was fascinating to meet with the Prime Minister because he was very concerned that we solve these issues but that we do it in a way that preserves the Australian economy and ensures its people don't lose their jobs or have a lower standard of living," Mr Engelhardt said. "I assure you, there are some in the world that don't have that balanced view." (The Australian)

From 'science adviser' on the film The Day After Tomorrow to: "Carbon credit trading fund in business" - "A CLIMATE scientist and an independent fund manager have created what they claim is the world's first hedge fund for carbon credits. The multi-million-dollar "carbon offset" scheme - created by Climate Wedge chief executive Michael Molitor and London's Cheyne Capital Management - will identify, buy and eventually sell voluntary carbon emission credits." (The Australian)

Oh boy... "Welcome to “Our Changing World: Understanding the Science of Climate Change.”" - "Working with the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute and other sources, the Bangor Daily News presented a special section Jan. 12, 2006, that examines how climate change occurs and how human activities are affecting Maine, the nation and the planet. “You can’t escape climate,” says Paul Mayewski, director of the Climate Change Institute. So visit the files below and see climate change through the eyes of researchers and scholars." (Bangor Daily News)

Given that this contains some of the same appallingly misleading graphic styles as seen in ACIA we doubt seriously that this will engender any understanding at all. Parenthetically, a couple of people have asked what's wrong with ACIA's graphics - see "A word on scale" if you don't get it.

"Big cost risk in cleaning up coal" - "CLEAN coal technologies designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions could drive up electricity prices for consumers. Preston Chiaro, chief executive for energy at global mining giant Rio Tinto, said miners would come under increasing pressure to keep power costs down as the industry and government ploughed billions of dollars into the development of clean coal technologies." (The Australian)

Uh-huh... "60% Emissions Cut Pledge" - "More than 3,500 people have been questioned in the county that carries the M6 and M6 Toll Road which has left a council pledging to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 60 per cent." (TNN)

"Few Malaria Cases Reported in Mpumalanga" - "The South African ministry of health deserves a pat on the back. Through a controlled IRS program the numbers of infections in the most severely affected areas have declined substantially." (AFM)

"Killing a killer" - "Some great advances in technology have been made in the area of insecticide treated nets. However, an indoor residual spraying program using DDT still remains one of the cheapest and most effective preventative measures." (AFM)

"Green House Gasbags: Conspicuous conservation is a huge waste of energy" - "In North Carolina, the owners of a 4,600-square-foot home that cost $1.2 million wanted it to be as "green" as possible, so they spent $120,000 on solar power. In Colorado, using recycled materials, an architecture professor built a 4,700-square-foot home that uses geothermal heating and cooling and was on the market recently for $930,000. And in Southern California, a husband-and-wife architect team who say that they "came of age during the '60s and '70s at U.C. Berkeley" also relied on recycled materials--in building a second home six hours from their primary residence. By now these environmentally conscious "green" houses are a staple of home design magazines, where they are presented as exemplars of both good taste and good intentions. The Colorado house, for instance, has won awards from the state and the Colorado Renewable Energy Society and has appeared in the Washington Post and on Home and Garden TV." (Daniel Akst, Opinion Journal)

"Labouring for a greener planet" - "The trade union movement has a critical role to play in building a cleaner and more just planet, argues the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) in our new series of opinion pieces on the BBC News website entitled The Green Room." (Klaus Toepfer, BBC)

"Swedish Farmers Demand Right to Kill Wolves" - "STOCKHOLM - A Swedish farmer sentenced to gaol for shooting a wolf preying on his sheep petitioned the government on Thursday for a pardon as a dispute grew between the wildlife lobby and farmers alarmed at growing wolf numbers." (Reuters)

"Restoring ‘The Medicine Chest of Europe’" - "Germany has a new chancellor, a new government, and a new opportunity to restart the engine of innovation that once positioned it as one of the most powerful and innovative economies in the world. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will be in the US this week for her first official state visit, should seize this opportunity before it slips away." (Amb. Dan Coats, TCS Daily)

"Nanotechnology runs ahead of regulations" - "CHICAGO - The smallest things humans can manufacture have triggered what could become a big fight over public safety. Advances in the emerging field of nanotechnology, where products are so small the eye can't see them, are happening so rapidly that they have outpaced the ability of the government to regulate their safe use, according to a new report. While the technology's proponents say this is an overreaction to a small problem, they acknowledge that the properties of these tiny particles are not fully understood." (Chicago Tribune)

"Monsanto accused of GM pollution in Europe" - "12/01/2006 - Greenpeace, together with a former manager of Monsanto and Limagrain in Romania, claim that Monsanto is contaminating European agriculture with its Roundup Ready genetically modified (GM) soy." (Food Navigator)

"Papaya farmers rally for end to ban on GMO field trials" - "About 100 papaya growers whose crops suffer from a papaya disease outbreak rallied at the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives yesterday to call for an end to the ban on field trials of genetically-modified crops." (Bangkok Post)

January 12, 2006

Frogs this week: "Climate culprit for frog deaths" - "The dramatic decline of some frog populations is directly connected to global warming, a new study claims." (BBC) | Scientists Say Global Warming Devastates Frogs in Latin America (New York Times) | Climate change drives widespread amphibian extinctions (National Science Foundation) | Global warming drives epidemic disease wiping out amphibian populations (University of Alberta) | Extinctions linked to climate change (Oregon State University)

Not so fast! Jumping To Conclusions: Frogs, Global Warming and Nature - World Climate Report devastates the new Nature study that tries to link global warming with frog extinction.

So, it appears those who voted "frogs" in our little online poll correctly picked the warming-threatened "critter of the week" - a special mention must also go to those punting for "whales" for the BAS just couldn't resist plugging "climate change" in their whale breeding success survey - see following:

"El Nino events affect whale breeding" - "New research shows that global climate processes are affecting southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) in the South Atlantic. A thirty-year study by an international team of scientists found a strong relationship between breeding success of whales in the South Atlantic and El Nino in the western Pacific. The results are published this week in the On-line journal Biology Letters.

Keith Reid from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) said, "These results help us to understand processes in three connected oceans and are crucial to predicting the consequences of climate change on the whales." Southern right whales have been internationally protected since 1935. Their populations are showing signs of recovery, however, sea surface temperatures in parts of the Southern Ocean have increased by 1°C over the last 50 years and if they continue to rise this could threaten their recovery." (British Antarctic Survey)

The assault on forests as carbon sinks continues: "Plants revealed as methane source" - "Scientists in Germany have discovered that ordinary plants produce significant amounts of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas which helps trap the sun's energy in the atmosphere. The findings, reported in the journal Nature, have been described as "startling", and may force a rethink of the role played by forests in holding back the pace of global warming." (BBC) | Global warming: blame the forests (The Guardian) | The forgotten methane source (Max-Planck-Gesellschaft)

So, in the space of a couple of weeks we've had temperate forests harvesting too much sunlight and warming the globe, high latitude forest trees getting 'skinnier' and absorbing less carbon than guesstimated and now, tropical forests as a source of the much more potent greenhouse gas, methane. Anyone get the feeling wannabe energy rationers are getting really desperate to deny there could be any possible avenue to mitigate warming other than ceding control of energy? Anyone noticed that, despite the gales of hysteria, the alleged warming of ~0.7 °C over the 20th Century is about the same as the error range on estimated global mean temperature? Anyone noticed that, while atmospheric carbon levels have measurably increased and global temperature has probably increased, crop yields have more than kept pace with human population growth from ~1.7 billion to over 6 billion while hunger has declined? Anyone noticed that during this time developed nations have returned marginal farmlands to forest and wildlife habitat? Anyone figure the global picture may not be quite as bleak as wannabe energy rationers would like to paint it?

but wait, there's more! "Deep-rooted plants have much greater impact on climate than experts thought" - "Trees, particularly those with deep roots, contribute to the Earth's climate much more than scientists thought, according to a new study by biologists and climatologists from the University of California, Berkeley. While scientists studying global climate change recognize the importance of vegetation in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and in local cooling through transpiration, they have assumed a simple model of plants sucking water out of the soil and spewing water vapor into the atmosphere. The new study in the Amazonian forest shows that trees use water in a much more complex way: The tap roots transfer rainwater from the surface to reservoirs deep underground and redistribute water upwards after the rains to keep the top layers moist, thereby accentuating both carbon uptake and localized atmospheric cooling during dry periods. The researchers estimate this effect increases photosynthesis and the evaporation of water from plants, called transpiration, by 40 percent in the dry season, when photosynthesis otherwise would be limited." (University of California - Berkeley)

"More 'Unnatural Disasters' on the Horizon" - "BROOKLIN, Canada, Jan 11 - As the new year begins, extreme weather continues to plague the United States, and experts warn this may be the "new normal" under climate change." (IPS)

Say what? "One Earth Concert Is Postponed" - "The One Earth Concert featuring The Strokes, Manic Street Preachers and The Darkness has been postponed. The charity says that a ‘recent swell of support for the Climate Change Now campaign’ is the reason for the postponement. Eh? No us neither." (Entertainmentwise)

"Gore urges audience to take action on global warming" - "NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The world has the technology to reverse the trends of global warming, but using it remains the greatest challenge, former Vice President Al Gore told an audience at Vanderbilt University Wednesday night. "What's missing is political will, but political will is a renewable source," he said during the Vanderbilt University Chancellor's Lecture Series. "We have to work together. Believe me, it is up to you, all of us, but I address you personally, to respond."

During his political career and unsuccessful bid for president in 2000, Gore pushed for stricter environmental policies for both the United States and foreign countries and has since taken his global climate change lecture across the country. With slide presentations, humor and personal anecdotes, Gore tried to drive home the urgency of global warming. He showed a video clip from the "Futurama" TV show titled "None Like It Hot" parodying a 1950s-era educational film. Gore's daughter Kristin was a writer on the Fox Network cartoon and Gore once made a guest voice appearance." (Associated Press)

Okay... So, Al, what's the progress on that debate on the science that one of your handlers told Junkman could be of interest? It has been over a week now...

"Protest at climate talks a bit tepid" - "THE plan to dump a load of coal outside Sydney's Four Seasons hotel, in protest at the meeting of politicians and industry taking place inside it, did not quite go as intended." (The Australian)

"INTERVIEW-India says will not agree to emissions caps" - "SYDNEY, Jan 12 - Asia's third-largest economy said on Thursday it will not agree to binding cuts to greenhouse gases under the Kyoto Protocol, but hopes boosting its nuclear industry will save its cities from choking air pollution. Speaking after the first meeting of a climate change group created by six of the world's top polluters, Indian Environment Minister A. Raja told Reuters on Thursday that India would accept help to reduce emissions but would not be forced into cuts." (Reuters)

"AP6 climate conference a missed opportunity for NZ" - "New Zealand’s absence from this week’s climate change conference in Sydney is an opportunity missed, says Alasdair Thompson, chief executive of the Northern Employers and Manufacturers Association. “We cannot afford to be left behind our major trading partners all of whom are at the conference,” Mr Thompson said. “We should be actively seeking to join their practical approach." (National Business Review)

"No sticks for the bad guys, but the heat is on in quest for clean air" - "SYDNEY is a long way from Kyoto - nearly eight thousand kilometres. While ministers representing the world's most important economies will meet in Sydney today to discuss greenhouse gases, it will be a very different meeting from the one nine years ago that crafted the Kyoto Protocol.

Anyone expecting today's gathering to produce any sort of Kyoto-style negotiated target for countries to cut their greenhouse emissions will be sorely disappointed. Indeed, it is almost a counter-Kyoto meeting, the opposite approach to the same problem. The 1997 meeting in Japan's ancient capital was convened by the United Nations with the aim of curbing the emission of gases suspected of warming the Earth's atmosphere." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Climate battle must not hamper growth - Australia PM Howard" - "SYDNEY - Australian Prime Minister John Howard said it was unrealistic to expect nations to sacrifice economic growth in order to halt global climate change. Howard told a conference of Asia-Pacific nations and corporations that growth was the only way many nations could reduce poverty levels among their populations. 'The idea that we can address climate change matters successfully at the expense of economic growth is not only unrealistic but it also unacceptable to the population of Australia which I represent,' Howard said." (AFX)

"Trust firms on climate, say leaders" - "BIG business can be trusted to reduce greenhouse gas pollution without regulations or binding climate change targets, say the US and Australian governments." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Big funds needed to back pact" - "THE Asia-Pacific climate partnership would be a failure unless the six-nation group was prepared to invest massively in clean energy technology and set targets for introducing that technology. Green groups issued the warning yesterday as state governments demanded John Howard set a firm target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and put a price on carbon to encourage clean-technology investment." (The Australian)

"Industry deal on climate" - "PLANS to slash greenhouse gas emissions in the aluminium industry and pour hundreds of millions of dollars into a new industry-controlled clean-coal fund have been drawn up ahead of today's Asia-Pacific climate conference in Sydney. Aluminium industry organisations from the six countries attending the inaugural Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate will announce an agreement tomorrow to work co-operatively on areas including emissions, energy consumption, recycling, packaging, health and safety and monitoring. Australia's biggest coal miners are also formulating plans to establish an industry-wide fund that will plough hundreds of millions of dollars into developing clean-coal technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The fund, which could be running by the end of the year, is being promoted by major coal producers such as BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata, but would also seek participation from smaller producers." (The Australian)

"US touts nuclear power" - "NUCLEAR power is critical to tackling global air pollution and climate change, the US and Australia have warned as they prepare to unveil a multi-million-dollar investment in clean energy technology." (The Australian)

"Nuclear debate" - "AUSTRALIA should consider nuclear energy in its future power generation plans, two senior federal ministers told a climate change conference yesterday. Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said nuclear energy generation was "a debate that Australia is yet to have and should be done on the basis of science and fact, not emotion." (Daily Telegraph)

"US could do better on green issues, OECD concludes" - "The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has called on the US to use energy more efficiently in order to safeguard its prosperity and prevent the harm associated with climate change." (Financial Times)

"French Green Lobby Wary of Biofuel Benefits" - "PARIS - As France races to become Europe's top biofuels maker by 2010, the country's green lobby said on Wednesday that damage caused by intensive farming to produce them could outweigh the clean-burning benefits." (Reuters)

Worrywarts Inc.: "Booming nations 'threaten Earth'" - "Earth lacks the water, energy and agricultural land to allow China and India to attain Western living standards, a US think-tank has warned. The Worldwatch Institute said the booming economies of China and India are "planetary powers that are shaping the global biosphere." (BBC)

Hmm... "There's no benefit to lowering the drinking age" - "WASHINGTON – After nearly four decades of exacting research on how to save lives and reduce injuries by preventing drinking and driving, there is a revanchist attempt afoot to roll back one of the most successful laws in generations: the minimum legal drinking age of 21. This is extremely frustrating. While public health researchers must produce painstaking evidence that's subjected to critical scholarly review, lower-drinking-age advocates seem to dash off remarks based on glib conjecture and self-selected facts." (Robert Voas, The Christian Science Monitor)

... but they are old enough to vote, go to war, get married, operate heavy machinery, undertake hazardous employment/sports/activities - do all those, uh... adult things, except consume alcohol?

"Insect spray may lower testosterone levels in men" - "NEW YORK - While infertility may be caused by a number of factors, new study findings suggest that exposure to nonpersistent, or short-lasting, insecticides may play a role in male infertility. "Environmental exposure to chlorpyrifos or its metabolite (TCPY) may be associated with reduced levels of circulating testosterone in adult men," lead study author Dr. John D. Meeker, of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, told Reuters Health. "A decline in testosterone throughout a population could potentially lead to adverse reproductive health outcomes," he added." (Reuters Health)

"GM crops make inroads in developing economies" - "Developing countries adopted genetically-modified crops at four times the rate of advanced economies in the last decade, in a sign that the spread of biotechnology in agriculture is helping alleviate poverty around the world, according to the non-profit International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications." (Financial Times)

"Report Projects Increase in Use of Biotech Crops in Next Decade" - "Washington -- Global planting of genetically modified (GM) crops is likely to grow even faster in the next decade than the double-digit annual rate of the past 10 years, according to a new independent report. The report predicts with "cautious optimism" that GM planting will accelerate as the benefits of such crops become recognized more broadly, as currently available crops are adopted more broadly, and as new crops become available." (Washington File)

"World Biotech Plantings Expand but at Slower Rate" - "KANSAS CITY - Global planting of genetically modified crops continued to expand in 2005, though the growth rate slowed slightly amid persistent debate about the safety and efficacy of the specialized crops, an international biotech crop group said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"Anti-poverty group calls modified crops helpful" - "Genetically modified crops are not a panacea for world hunger and poverty, but they are making a significant - and growing - contribution, according to a report made public Wednesday by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications." (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

January 11, 2006

The Eco-Jackboot on Our Energy Throat - No. 3, (1/10/06) - Hess LNG is trying to build a liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal in Falls River, Massachusetts. The proposed site for the LNG terminal lies upriver of the decrepit Brightman Street Bridge that is slated to be demolished because it is too small to allow passage of LNG tankers. The Brightman Street Bridge was scheduled to be replaced by a larger, more modern structure that would permit tanker traffic -- that is until Massachusetts Democrat Congressmen Barney Frank and James McGovern slipped a provision into last year's transportation bill that would preserve the bridge as a pedestrian and bicycle thoroughfare. "I though that this would be a nice place for a bike path and pedestrian walkway, Rep. McGovern told the Boston Globe. "In the process, if it succeeds in blocking the LNG plant from going into Fall River, that's great." Northeasterners can look forward to continued high natural gas prices courtesy of the Massachusetts congressmen, both of whom have 97 ranking from the League of Conservation Voters. [Source: Wall Street Journal, Review & Outlook, "Natural Gasbags", January 10, 2006.]

"Mining the Media Distortions Yields Black Gold" - "Here’s a headline you aren’t likely to see: “Sago mine tragedy defies improved mine safety trend under the Bush administration.” Yet, despite the Sago mine tragedy, the facts support it." (John Merline, TCS Daily)

"FDA Letter Dismisses Activist Group’s Concerns Over DuPont Chemical Test" - "Environmental Working Group’s “smoking gun” DuPont memo “irrelevant” to chemical’s safety." (Trevor Butterworth, STATS)

"Science Supporting Assembly bill 319 Debunked at Hearing - Misguided public policy is based on fear, not facts" - "SACRAMENTO, CA - The California Assembly Health Committee and Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee conducted an informational hearing today on the potential impacts of phthalates and bisphenol-A (BPA) on children’s health.

“AB 319 is the worst kind of public policy,” explains Steve Hentges, executive director of the Polycarbonate Business Unit of the American Plastics Council. “Founded on insubstantial claims and unproven hypothesis that lack scientific rigor, this legislation would eliminate from hospitals many vital life-saving medical devices such as incubators, dialysis machines, and blood oxygenators – any or all of which could be used to treat children.”

BPA is an important, well-tested substance used for more than 50 years to make polycarbonate plastic, which is used to make innumerable common products that are used by consumers every day. Typical examples include bicycle helmets, water bottles, sunglasses, and food storage containers, along with components of many medical devices.

“Years of intensive scientific research and scrutiny worldwide demonstrate clearly that the many important products made with BPA are safe for use by people of any age,” said expert Lorenz Rhomberg, Ph.D, a leading expert in quantitative risk assessment, who testified on BPA at today’s hearing.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration declared in a recent letter, “Considering all the evidence, including measurements by FDA chemists of levels found in canned food or migrating from baby bottles, FDA sees no reason at this time to ban or otherwise restrict the uses now in practice.”

"AB 319 would greatly impact California Manufacturers and Technology Association (CMTA) members whose businesses produce and use many of the products targeted by this legislation," said Dorothy Rothrock, VP of Governmental Relations for CMTA. "These are products with proven safety records that not only are part of our daily lives, but in some cases are critical to our health. AB 319 is detrimental to our members and the millions of consumers that rely and depend on their products."

A U.S. Centers for Disease Control report shows that human exposure to BPA is extraordinarily low – well below the safe levels set by government bodies, and even below the levels tested in the so-called “low-dose” studies that are used to support the legislation. Further, government agencies in Japan and Europe, as well as an independent review panel of scientific experts organized by the Harvard University Center for Risk Analysis, all have conducted comprehensive assessments of BPA and support the conclusion that BPA is not a risk to human health, including children. No government body worldwide has banned or restricted the use of BPA.

AB 319 is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on January 18, 2006. For more information visit www.NoAB319.org.

"Clinical, Cynical: You'll never believe what left-wing law profs consider 'mainstream'"  - "Democratic senators have repeatedly questioned whether Samuel Alito is in the legal "mainstream" during the opening days of his Supreme Court confirmation hearings. To see what the "mainstream" means for the legal elites in the Democratic party, look no further than the law school "clinic." These campus law firms, faculty-supervised and student-staffed, have been engaging in left-wing litigation and advocacy for 30 years. Though law schools claim that the clinics teach students the basics of law practice while providing crucial representation to poor people, in fact they routinely neither inculcate lawyering skills nor serve the poor. They do, however, offer the legal professoriate a way to engage in political activism--almost never of a conservative cast. A survey of the clinical universe makes clear how politically one-sided law schools--and the legal ideology they inculcate--are." (Heather Mac Donald, Opinion Journal)

"Hail a Cab - But Watch Out for the Pollution" - "LONDON - Taking a taxi can increase your exposure to pollution, researchers said on Tuesday. Walking is your best bet. "It was a real surprise to find the extent to which walking resulted in the lowest exposure," said Surbjit Kaur from Imperial College, London." (Reuters) | Taking a taxi could increase your exposure to pollution (Imperial College London)

"Component in soy products causes reproductive problems in laboratory mice" - "Genistein, a major component of soy, was found to disrupt the development of the ovaries in newborn female mice that were given the product. This study adds to a growing body of literature demonstrating the potentially adverse consequences of genistein on the reproductive system.

"Although we are not entirely certain about how these animal studies on genistein translate to the human population, there is some reason to be cautious," said Dr. David A. Schwartz, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). "More clinical studies are needed to determine how exposure during critical windows of development can impact human health." (NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences)

"A New Law to Save the Forests" - "RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan 9 - A draft law on the management of public forests has drawn mixed reactions in Brazil, but it is the great hope of the Environment Ministry and most environmentalists who are lobbying hard for its approval by the Senate in the next few weeks." (IPS)

"Forests—Better Off Than You’ve Heard" (.pdf) - "What’s the status of the world’s forests?" (Jack Dini, Plating & Surface Finishing)

Saving the Earth postponed: "Manics, Darkness And Strokes Gig Postponed" - "A environmental awareness concert featuring Manic Street Preachers, The Darkness and The Strokes has been postponed. (sic) The One Earth Concert was scheduled to take place at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, on 28 January (06), but organisers have mysteriously pulled the gig, promising to reschedule it later in the year. Rock fans who have bought tickets for the gig are entitled to a full refund. The concert was set to be broadcast internationally for charity Climate Change Now's campaign to save the earth. Michael Mathres, of Climate Change Now, says, "We apologise wholeheartedly for any inconvenience caused by the change of date. But we can assure those who have already purchased tickets that the event will still take place at the Millennium Stadium." (Contact Music)

"Biologist: Warming May Cut Duck Numbers" - "LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A professor from the University of Montana had a simple message Tuesday in Arkansas: if you like hunting ducks, support international efforts to prevent global warming. Wildlife biologist David E. Naugle said that if global temperatures rise, duck breeding grounds in North America will dry up, greatly reducing duck populations." (Associated Press)

Or maybe increase the number of fowl by increasing the flooded regions?

"Mark Steyn: Climate change myth" - "MICHAEL Crichton's environmental novel State Of Fear has many enjoyable moments, not least the deliciously apt fate he devises for a Martin Sheenesque Hollywood eco-poseur. But, along the way, his protagonist makes a quietly sensible point: that activist lobby groups ought to close down the office after 10 years. By that stage, regardless of the impact they've had on whatever cause they're hot for, they're chiefly invested in perpetuating their own indispensability.

That's what happened to the environmental movement. Denouncing this week's meeting of the Asia-Pacific Partnership, starting today in Sydney, the eco-tists sound more than a little squaresville: fossils running out of fuel. "Clearly, the short-term profits of the fossil fuel companies count for more in Canberra than the long-term health and welfare of ordinary Australians," says Clive Hamilton of the Australia Institute, disregarding the fact that the "long-term health and welfare" that ordinary Australians enjoy is not unconnected to fossil fuels." (The Australian)

"Tight security for climate talks" - "WORLD government ministers and officials have begun high-level talks in Sydney about the best way to tackle global warming. Senior officials from Australia, Japan, the US, China, South Korea and India - known collectively as the AP6 - are taking part in the two-day Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate meeting." (news.com.au)

Wow! Over a hundred protesters, eh? "Climate protesters 'bury' Howard" - "PROTESTERS buried a large replica of Prime Minister John Howard's head in coal today to symbolise what they claim is his commitment to industry profits over climate change solutions. More than 100 chanting, placard waving environmentalists gathered opposite the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney where senior officials from six countries including Australia and the US are holding a two-day climate conference." (AAP)

Actually, our reports suggest that count includes kids in pushers, oversize handbags and placards too (the BBC is carrying the adjacent AFP picture) but, having so heavily overplayed stories of climate change, people's fear of same and alleged anger over clean development proposals we guess they have to try to claim some opposition. (The Press Association report says "dozens" of protesters)

The land down-under is actually a good choice of venue to get things done. About the only ones who turn up to protests against anything other than beer price rises are those employed by professional fundraising/protest groups, their families and their hourly-rate rent-a-rabble (also in short supply when the weather's good and/or the surf's up).

Parenthetically, 100 people would account for, oh, just about the entire hierarchy and membership of all the Green/conservation front groups on the entire Australian eastern seaboard (where the bulk of Australia's population lives) - they must be excited.

"U.N. Welcomes U.S Led Partnership on Climate Change" - "SYDNEY, Australia — A U.S.-led partnership to combat global warming through cleaner energy technologies is the latest sign that the debate is shifting away from caps on emissions of greenhouse gases and toward voluntary measures, experts said Monday. The United Nations cautiously welcomed the inaugural Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, which starts Wednesday. It brings together the United States, Australia, China, India, South Korea and Japan -- which collectively produce half the world's greenhouse gases." (Associated Press)

"Climate summit will get results: US" - "The international climate summit beginning in Sydney today will accelerate cleaner technologies to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, the head of the US delegation said." (AAP)

"Summit puts business into action" - "THE world's largest private electricity provider has hailed the Asia Pacific climate summit as the first real opportunity for business to participate in climate change talks." (The Australian)

"Private firms 'can help climate'" - "The private sector will tackle global warming better than setting countries Kyoto-style targets, the US has said." (BBC)

"Avoiding Climate 'Control'" - "Just six months old, the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate already has encountered venomous hostility from those who have spent the past 15 years lobbying for the Kyoto Protocol's "climate control" mandate.

The partnership among Australia, the U.S., Japan, South Korea, China and India -- whose first summit is today in Sydney -- has infuriated activists and some bureaucrats. They insist, without conclusive scientific evidence, that so-called "greenhouse gases" are causing global warming and can only be curbed through compulsory emissions cuts.

Climate control is based on politically mandated quotas, the threat of penalties and other coercive means -- a system which resembles Soviet-style central planning. The United Nations' most recent climate meeting in Montreal demonstrated -- if any further proof was needed -- the inherent futility of this approach. It is clear that Kyoto-style emissions planning comes with grave dangers for the citizens of the poor countries. Indian Environment Minister Andimuthu Raja told the BBC that economic growth and the elimination of poverty must take precedence over mitigating the effects of climate change." (Wolfgang Kasper, The Wall Street Journal)

Mr. Kasper is emeritus professor of economics of the University of New South Wales, Australia, and a contributor to "Carrots, Sticks and Climate Change" (IPN, 2005).

Inevitably: "AMA warns of global warming deaths" - "UP to 15,000 Australians could die of heat related illnesses annually by the year 2010 if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, Australia's peak medical body said." (AAP)

"Climate Fears, Water Shortages Haunt Europe" - "PARIS - France and Spain are ringing alarm bells over the climate, fearing a repeat of last year's drought that sparked deadly forest fires, costly crop failures and widespread water rationing in southern Europe." (Reuters)

"Climate Woes: Prepare for worst" - "The cloudbursts let up long enough Tuesday for bicyclists, runners, walkers and their pets to bust out of their houses and onto Seattle sidewalks. After weeks of more or less daily rains, the entire Puget Sound region is ready for anything that resembles good weather. Amid the occasional sun break, the real question is how ready are we for truly bad weather or any sort of natural catastrophe. Climatologists say global warming will bring much more severe weather. Patterns are far too cyclical and variable, they say, to pin any one weather event on climate change. But the kind of heavy rainfall patterns we have seen lately certainly could become more common." (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

"Rapidly shrinking Arctic ice could spell trouble for the rest of the world" - "WASHINGTON - Alarmed by an accelerating loss of ice in the Arctic Ocean, scientists are striving to understand why the speedup is happening and what it means for humankind. If present trends continue, as seems likely, the sea surrounding the North Pole will be completely free of ice in the summertime within the lifetime of a child born today. The loss could point the way to radical changes in the Earth's climate and weather systems. Some researchers, such as Ron Lindsay, an Arctic scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle, fear that the polar region already may have passed a "tipping point" from which it can't recover in the foreseeable future. Others, such as Jonathan Overpeck, the director of the Institute for the Study of Planet Earth at the University of Arizona in Tucson, think the Arctic ice pack is nearing a point of no return but hasn't reached it yet. The National Science Foundation, a congressionally chartered agency, last month announced an urgent research program to determine what "these changes mean for both the Arctic and the Earth." (Knight Ridder Newspapers)

Even The Indy mentions: "Extreme weather in Asia: The Big Freeze" - "Ten feet of snow has fallen in Japan. Hundreds of thousands have been stranded by blizzards in China. And in India, a frost that made headlines may also prove fatal. Justin Huggler reports from Delhi." (London Independent)

Further evidence of the Importance of Black Carbon on the Arctic Surface Albedo (Climate Science

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

The Greening of the Sahel: It continues!

Subject Index Summaries:
Drought (Europe): Did droughts become more frequent or severe in Europe in response to 20th-century global warming?

Agriculture (Our Greatest Challenge): Can agriculture meet the future food needs of humanity without the help of the ongoing rise in the air's CO 2 content?

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Holly Oak, Jaragua, Tobacco, and Trachypogon plumosus.

Journal Reviews:
A Pair of Two-Millennia-Long Climatic Records: What do they reveal about a possible solar-climate connection?

Dimming of Solar Radiation Received at the Earth's Surface: Global or Local?: A new study sheds some important light on the subject.

Atmospheric CO 2 Concentration and Soil Aggregate Stability: How does the former affect the latter, and what are the ramifications of the relationship?

Sky-Island Refugia from Global Warming: Will rising temperatures drive alpine fauna to extinction?

CO 2 -Herbivore-Litter Interactions in a Scrub Oak Ecosystem: Which are the most significant?  And what do they suggest about the future? (co2science.org)

"OECD urges US to use energy more efficiently" - "The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has called on the US to use energy more efficiently in order to safeguard its prosperity while protecting health and preventing some of the damage associated with climate change." (Financial Times)

Dopey beggars: "States call for emissions deal" - "THE states and territories are calling on the Federal Government to set up a national scheme to tackle greenhouse gas emissions. Speaking at the start of an international climate change summit in Sydney, the states and territories called for a national scheme to develop greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and provide incentives to business to slash emissions." (AAP)

"Australia-US resist calls for carbon trading" - "SYDNEY, Jan 11 - Australia and the United States rejected fresh calls for national carbon-trading schemes on Wednesday as six of the world's biggest polluting nations began talks on ways to use new technology to combat climate change." (Reuters)

"Clean energy is life or death for planet-Australia" - "SYDNEY, Jan 11 - Breakthroughs on cleaner energy technology are a matter of life and death for the planet, Australia warned on Wednesday ahead of a meeting of six nations to tackle climate change without sacrificing economic growth." (Reuters)

"Algae - like a breath mint for smokestacks" - "Not only does this application clean emissions, it also creates byproducts that can be used to fuel cars." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Coal comfort" - "Critics claim an ambitious plan to store greenhouse gases underground might ignore safer options." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"The high cost of fossil-free air" - "IF AUSTRALIA wants to make hefty cuts in its greenhouse gases, consumers will have to accept higher power prices, energy experts say. Australia has some of the cheapest power in the world, thanks to large reserves of coal and natural gas. That has kept consumer power bills low, helped keep energy-intensive industries such as aluminium and cement competitive, and provided billions of dollars of annual export revenue." (Sydney Morning Herald)

“The Lights Are Going Out All Over Europe” - "Does Russia’s confrontation with its European neighbors over gas exports signal a new cold war? During the early nineteen-eighties, the Reagan administration lobbied strongly against its NATO allies in Europe becoming dependent on gas supplied by the Soviet Union from its vast Siberian fields. This, Washington feared, would have allowed the Kremlin to hold Western Europe to ransom by threatening its energy supplies. With the end of the Cold War and oil and gas cheap and plentiful, these fears largely faded and Europe’s dependence on Russian gas has grown unchecked." (Peter Nolan, TCS Daily)

"EUROPE: Gas Crisis Rekindles Nuclear Option" - "PARIS, Jan 10 - Environmentalists are warning against the new push towards nuclear energy in Europe following the gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine." (IPS)

"Germany's Energy 'Wake-Up Call'" - "Russia's gas conflict with Ukraine has revived a debate over the German energy supply. Dependence on oil and gas is rising, both coal and atomic energy are limited, and alternative energy sources can't pull up the slack. How vulnerable is Germany to energy shortages and Russia's political capriciousness?" (Der Spiegel)

"German Government Remains Divided on Ending Nuclear Power" - "GENSHAGEN - German government leaders remained at odds over whether to reverse a 2000 law phasing out nuclear power on Tuesday, the second day of a cabinet retreat that is focusing on several divisive issues." (Reuters)

"Lithuania plea for nuclear plant" - "Lithuania says it wants the closure of a nuclear power station, scheduled for 2009, to be delayed until it can find another secure energy source. Closure of the Soviet-era Ignalina power plant was a condition for Lithuania's entry into the EU in 2004. Now Lithuania says it wants to renegotiate the timetable for closure. With few natural resources of its own, Lithuania's leaders fear the country will find itself isolated if Ignalina is closed in 2009." (BBC)

"Green's a cost saver, not another burden" - "THIS year you will be forced to ask yourself the question: what environmental impact does my business have? According to statistics, 94% of small businesses believe the answer is nothing at all.

This was the feedback from SMEs featured in a Spotlight on Business report by the Environment Agency.

But the specific challenge for smaller companies is that they don't have environmental experts to advise them. As a result, they often see the issue as just another burden. Yet, if they aren't persuaded by the threat of global warming, then they should be by the promise of the considerable cost savings that tend to come from better environmental practices. In any case, there is so much new legislation coming in around this area that it makes sense to act now." (Sion Barry, Western Mail)

Isn't it curious that those so convinced doing their bidding is the least-cost, highest-profit path always want said path mandated and regulated? If they are right then enterprises will naturally gravitate to such path as being the greatest advantage - those that do not will not be able to compete and will either go bankrupt or be taken over by their more efficient peers, no? That being the case then regulation merely interferes with this marvellous efficiency as a redundant layer of bureaucracy, while, if not actually the best approach it actively prevents improvement - either way such regulation is a crappy idea.

"EU Tells Greece to Lift Ban on Monsanto Maize Seeds" - "BRUSSELS - The European Commission has ordered Greece to lift its ban on planting genetically modified (GMO) maize seeds made by US biotech giant Monsanto Commission officials said on Tuesday." (Reuters)

"GM crops fail to deliver benefits to Africa" - "Ten years after the first significant planting of genetically modified (GM) crops there are no apparent benefits for consumers, farmers or the environment, a report made public on Tuesday said.

The Johannesburg-based African Centre for Biosafety and Friends of the Earth Nigeria, based in Lagos, said that despite the promises of the biotech corporations there had been no impact on hunger and poverty.

The 100-page report "Who benefits from GM crops? Monsanto and its corporate driven genetically modified crop revolution" concludes that the increase in GM crops in a limited number of countries has largely been the result of the aggressive strategies of the biotech industry, rather than the consequence of benefits derived from using GM technology." (Mail & Guardian)

Translation: despite the best of efforts of fear-mongers and technophobes, biotech crops are being rapidly adopted. Farmers say they grow them because they find significant advantage in so doing. Anti-biotech activists say farmers do so because they're too stupid to know what works best for them.

"GMO Crops May be Marginalized - Environmental Group" - "LONDON - Genetically modified crops could become marginalized due to consumer rejection and technical difficulties in developing new products, environmental group Friends of the Earth said on Tuesday." (Reuters)

January 10, 2006

"Fighting malaria - the right way" - "The fight against malaria has scored a major victory. The U.S. Agency for International Development has elected to use nearly half of its budget to buy proven interventions against the disease, which affects 500 million people and kills more than a million children around the world each year. USAID has promised $15 million expressly for insecticides, recognizing their unique effectiveness in reducing the burden of malaria. The agency has opted to streamline more funding to fewer countries in order to improve accountability and focus on results." (Roger Bate, Washington Examiner)

"Violent games 'affect behaviour'" - "Violent computer games may make people more likely to act aggressively, a study says. Previous research has found people who play such games are more likely to be aggressive but some say this just shows violent people gravitate towards them." (BBC)

"'Scientific' Tort Fraud" - "A virulent form of scientific fraud is phony medical diagnoses to support the tort bar's manufactured class-action suits." (TheRealityCheck.org)

"New rumbling over salvage logging" - "Debate revives over managing burned forests, as a report on '02 'Biscuit' fire casts doubt on benefits of salvage work." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"New Uses for Glut of Small Logs From Thinning of Forests" - "DARBY, Mont. - Five years ago, intense forest fires around this logging and tourist town burned more than 350,000 acres of forest. Today huge swaths of charred trees cover the mountainsides. Partly in response to these fires and others on national forest land elsewhere in the West, President Bush introduced the Healthy Forest Initiative in 2002 to reduce the wildfire threat to towns surrounded by publicly owned forests. As work crews thin stands of trees, as called for in the initiative, one result has been a glut of logs smaller than eight inches in diameter. Until recently, most small trees were collected in piles and burned, but now businesses and the Forest Service have begun looking for uses for the tiny trees." (New York Times)

Gasp! Amazon a desert! "In bacterial diversity, Amazon is a 'desert'; Desert is an 'Amazon'" - "Ironically, in the diversity of soil bacteria, the otherwise species-rich Amazon is a more like a desert, while the arid desert is a teeming microbial Amazon, researchers have found. Their first-ever continental-scale genetic survey of soil bacteria revealed that the primary factor that seems to govern the diversity of soil bacteria is soil pH. Thus, the acidic soils of topical forests harbor fewer bacterial species than the neutral soils of deserts." (Duke University)

"MSPs call for intervention to save conservation centre" - "Plans to close three major wildlife research centres, including a key site in Scotland, have provoked cross-party condemnation and calls for both the Scottish Executive and Westminster to intervene." (The Herald)

"Driven to extinction: cuts threaten Large Blue" - "This butterfly has been saved by the expertise of the UK's wildlife specialists. Now three key research centres are to close because of Government cuts and 200 scientists face the sack. Environmentalists are asking: who is left to save the Large Blue?" (London Independent)

Hmm... maybe this is where they're headed with the next warming-threatened 'critter of the week.' 'Large Blue' might be an easier pitch than our current poll leader, at time of writing about 200 votes had been cast with cockroaches leading mosquitoes and frogs a distant third. Given the 'yuck' factor probably only whales and frogs stand any real chance from our shortlist of available vote choices. Since it might be difficult to make the case that allegedly looming sea level rises would disadvantage cetaceans with a love of tropical waters I'd probably punt for 'frogs' as the most likely candidate anytime soon. Perhaps we could make a regular thing of trying to guess the warming-threatened 'critter of the week' or maybe offer our own candidates? Feel free to offer suggestions of candidate species you'd like to see in the vote list here.

"Researchers confirm role of massive flood in climate change" - "Climate modelers at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) have succeeded in reproducing the climate changes caused by a massive freshwater pulse into the North Atlantic that occurred at the beginning of the current warm period 8,000 years ago. Their work is the first to consistently model the event and the first time that the model results have been validated by comparison to the record of climate proxies that scientists regularly use to study the Earth's past." (The Earth Institute at Columbia University)

They got the same result as shown by proxies... only different - and conditions are really quite similar now, except for not having the massive northern hemisphere ice sheets and stuff. Sure have to admire the spin generated by virtual worlders, if nothing else.

"Rewriting glacial history in Pacific North America" - "Although the story on glacier fluctuations in northwestern North America over the last 10,000 years has remained largely unchanged for decades, new evidence discovered by a University of Alberta researcher will rewrite that glacial history and offer clues about our climate history during the last several thousand years.

Glacier fluctuations are sensitive indicators of past climate change, yet little is known about glacier activity in Pacific North America during the first millennium A.D. Alberto Reyes, a PhD student in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and his research team have found evidence for a regionally-extensive glacier expansion in the first millennium AD, suggesting that climate during the last several thousand years may have been even more variable than previously thought. The research appears in the journal Geology." (University of Alberta)

"With Findings on Storms, Centrist Recasts Warming Debate" - "For decades, Kerry Emanuel, the meteorologist and hurricane specialist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was known as a cautious centrist on questions of global warming and hurricane ferocity." (New York Times)

Today's chuckle: "On the Bright Side, Coffee Will Never Get Cold" - "After global warming the disaster film ("The Day After Tomorrow") and global warming the comedy special ("Earth to America"), the next step was probably inevitable: global warming the coffee mug. The mug is decorated with, naturally, a heat-sensitive world map. When it's filled with a steaming beverage, the shorelines retreat, reflecting an extreme version of what scientists say will happen as melting ice and warming water raise sea levels." (New York Times)

Must ask Andrew what it is about these mugs he thinks will stop the coffee cooling - if they can do that I might order a few myself.

"Climate summit challenges Kyoto's approach" - "SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – The inaugural two-day summit of what many see as an American-led alternative to the Kyoto climate treaty convenes Wednesday in Sydney. Formed this past July, the new bloc brings together the US, China, India, Australia, South Korea, and Japan. These six nations are responsible for more than 40 percent of the world's greenhouse gases, which many scientists say cause global warming." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Climate change bloc may grow to rival Kyoto" - "AUSTRALIA and the US will recruit other countries to their alternative climate change group, confirming fears held by many environment groups that the real agenda behind the Sydney meeting is to neuter the Kyoto Protocol." (Sydney Morning Herald)

In the sense that we sure don't want to see any "Son of Kyoto" or similar, "neuter" is possibly appropriate, I suppose. Curious that we have media talk of "sexing up" documents, "emasculation" of agreements and the "neutering" of a protocol (presumably meaning the neutralisation of same). Wonder what Freud would have made of today's media.

"A second chance for the odd two out to address climate change" - "China is now a leader in the fight against climate change. This week Australia and the US can join in, writes Don Henry." (Sydney Morning Herald)

Don Henry is executive director of the Australian Conservation Foundation, poor fellow.

"Emissions trading: European Commission sets out guidance on national allocations for 2008-2012" - "The European Commission has published a Communication setting out guidance to help member states when they draw up national plans for allocating carbon dioxide emission allowances for 2008-2012 under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).

This second trading period is significant because it coincides with the five-year period in which the EU and member states must meet their targets for limiting or reducing emissions of greenhouse gases under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. Member states need to ensure that their emissions strategies, in which allocations under the ETS are an important element, achieve their targets." (Finfacts Ireland)

"UK companies to reap CO² benefits" - "British companies have been offered the prospect of a clear advantage over their European rivals under the latest European Commission plans for cutting carbon dioxide emissions." (Financial Times)

"Fueling Energy News" - "Carbon-based energy sources are what’s ‘in’ for 2006. These classic fossil fuels, which many thought were on their way out courtesy of the Kyoto Protocol, have made a truly stunning comeback: indeed they dominate energy news at the dawn of the New Year." (George A. Pieler, TCS Daily)

"2006: Cheaper at the Pump?" - "2005 was a very expensive year for gasoline. And thanks to Washington, 2006 could be even worse. The feds did not waste any time, with two costly gasoline requirements having taken effect on January 1st. That’s right. The year has already begun with two new regulations that will raise the price at the pump." (Ben Lieberman, TCS Daily)

"Fossil Fuel Crisis Drives Europe To Nuclear, Green Energy" - "Surging oil prices, deepening concern about carbon pollution and sudden worries over Russia's reliability as a gas supplier have been a windfall for Europe's nuclear and renewable energy industries. Both sectors are looking to 2006 and beyond to widen their share of Europe's energy market, where oil and gas remain firmly enthroned. The biggest beneficiary could be the continent's nuclear firms, whose fortunes have been blighted for nearly two decades." (AFP)

"Crossing The Gene Barrier" - "On the frontiers of biotech, two scientists are mingling the genetic materials of man and beast in new ways. The hoped-for outcome: Radical treatments for some of mankind's most intractable ailments." (Business Week)

"Ancient genetic tricks shape up wheat" - "By re-enacting an evolutionary event that happened to wheat thousands of years ago, researchers are producing new plant varieties that could save lives in regions where drought causes food shortages.

Bread wheat (Triticum aestivum), a staple food for millions of people around the world, is the product of two rare genetic events that happened during the Stone Age in a region of the Middle East known as the 'fertile crescent'.

Two different species can't usually breed to produce hybrid offspring, because their chromosomes don't match and can't pair properly during the process that produces sex cells such as eggs and sperm. But sometimes a genetic blip can produce sex cells with double the normal number of chromosomes, side-stepping the problem. If two sex cells of this type combine, a whole new fertile species with double the number of chromosomes is produced." (Nature.com)

"Can tobacco plant stub out terror threat?" - "The nightmare scenario of terrorists adding lethal toxins to water supplies could be countered by synthesising antidotes in genetically modified plants." (New Scientist)

"Plant-derived vaccines safeguard against deadly plague" - "Through an innovative feat of plant biotechnology and vaccine design, researchers in the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University have successfully turned tobacco plants into vaccine production factories to combat the deadliest form of plague. The vaccine elicits a protective immune response in guinea pigs. The results are considered to be a milestone in the future development of a new vaccine for human use." (Arizona State University)

January 9, 2006

"Liberia: Malaria, Liberia’s National Security Threats" - "By the time you finish reading this commentary, 24 African children will be dead on the Black Continent!" (The Liberian Times)

Stoking baseless fears: "Bill would outlaw flu shots with mercury for children" - "Legislation that would prevent Tennessee children from getting flu shots that contain a controversial mercury preservative is pitting parent groups against pediatricians. The parent camp contends that thimerosal, a vaccine preservative that is 49.6% ethyl mercury, has caused an autism epidemic among children. The doctors' side argues the flu shots are safe and the way they're administered shouldn't be influenced by what they consider to be junk science." (The Tennessean)

From the rubber room... "The End of the World (Hopefully)" - "According to an article in the environmental magazine OnEarth (Winter 2006), the human race may be poisoning itself to the point of extinction. And that’s the good news. Because another article in the same issue suggests that humans worldwide are depleting the planet’s resources to the point of self-destruction." (Charles Cutter, Magic City Morning Star)

"Environmentalists finally get down to very serious business" - "Rather than pressure the federal government and affix blame, activists seek cooperative solutions with local and corporate leaders." (Peter Asmus, SF Chronicle)

Lester's at it again: "High price to pay for China's wealth" - "GROWING prosperity in China threatens to place intolerable burdens on the world's natural resources, an environmental researcher has warned. Unless the global economy is fundamentally restructured, the world will be unable to produce enough energy, food and other resources to meet Chinese demand, the president of the Earth Policy Institute, Lester Brown, said." (Sydney Morning Herald)

Red Ken... "Mayor plans healthier food for Londoners" - "The mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, yesterday promised a greener and more healthy capital by imposing prohibitively high charges on polluting lorries and improving access to more local and organic food. Calling it the the most radical overhaul of Londoners' diet and health since the establishment of the welfare state, Mr Livingstone said he wanted his food strategy for London to become a blueprint for other cities around Britain and the world, just as the congestion charge had done." (The Guardian)

"Obese 'don't want to lose weight'" - "More than a quarter of obese and overweight people do not want to lose weight, a survey says." (BBC)

Completely ape: "Bleak harvest" - "Global eating exposé leads to indigestion." (Bev Greenberg, Winnipeg Free Press)

"Diet author rejects red meat cancer link" - "THE CSIRO yesterday stood by its Total Wellbeing Diet book, saying scientific evidence shows there is no link between red meat and colo-rectal cancer." (The Courier-Mail)

"Fur flies at reintroducing beaver" - "ENVIRONMENTALISTS and farmers are at odds over controversial plans to re-introduce the European beaver to Welsh rivers. The last recording of the European beaver in Wales was by Giraldus Cambrensis in 1188 on the Teifi River. The Wales Wildlife Trust is assessing opportunities for re-introducing the species to slow-flowing rivers." (Western Mail)

Poll Expired!

Thanks to all who participated

At end of result recording results were:

1.) Cockroaches
2.) Mosquitoes
3.) Frogs

"Polar Bears Face New Toxic Threat: Flame Retardants" - "Already imperiled by melting ice and a brew of toxic chemicals, polar bears throughout the Arctic, particularly in remote dens near the North Pole, face an additional threat as flame retardants originating largely in the United States are building up in their bodies, according to an international team of wildlife scientists." (LA Times)

Maybe it's part of a secret plan to stop them bursting into flame because of all that Arctic warming (new affliction SPBC [Spontaneous Polar Bear Combustion]?)... then again, maybe it's because people yawned when confronted with recycled claims of polar bears threatened by Arctic warming.

That reminds us, what will be threatened by warming this week? Last week we had bears drowning or being steam broiled or something due to global warming - what was the week before that, extermination of fisheries? Before that was, I dunno, the slightly rusty VW Beetle or something.

Since it must be difficult for AGW handwringers to keep finding warming-endangered 'critters of the week' we thought you might like to give 'em a hand, so, at right please find a mini poll provided by Bravenet.com (whose pop-up advertising some of you will already have noticed) where you can give them your pick from a shortlist.

"The Worst Isn't Over" - "Smarter science is helping companies and insurers plan for hurricanes. The bad news: This year could be another doozy." (Business Week)

"World History on Ice" - "From the outside, the storage shed on the University of New Hampshire (UNH) campus in Durham looks inconspicuous enough-a standard white 48-by-12-foot box. It doesn't look too remarkable from the inside, either, housing a few electric jigsaws and racks holding thousands of cylindrical canisters filled with ice. This is not your average ice locker, however. It contains all the pieces of a two-mile strip of ice drilled from a massive ice sheet in Greenland. Moreover, this ice holds vital data about the earth's climate over the past 250,000 years and offers the most detailed record yet of the last 110,000 years of our planet's history. "In some ways, the ice sheets tell us more about what the environment was like in northern latitudes 100,000 years ago than we can learn about the 1700s and 1800s from human records," says Paul Mayewski, director of glacial research at UNH and chief scientist for the Greenland Ice Sheet Project Two (GISP2). "Those written records consist mainly of temperature readings, but we can use the ice to analyze 45 different variables." (Technology Review)

What caused the identified changes, on at least eight separate occasions, when greenhouse gas levels were apparently stable?

Scam of the moment

Someone must have told them: "Green issues: It's not the end of the world" - "The British press routinely carries The Day After Tomorrow-style articles - about earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, tornadoes, floods and big freezes - which journalists might think are raising awareness of climate change. The reality, a new report has found, is that this coverage is so hopelessly doom-laden in tone that readers have become apathetic about the threat. The research, by the green communications agency Futerra, found that 60 per cent of articles about climate change in national newspapers were negative and failed to mention possible solutions. Only a quarter included any mention of what could be, or is being, done to fight climate change. Stories in the tabloid and mid-market papers (which reach three-quarters of national readers) tended to be highly scaremongering.." (London Independent)

See "Selling tampons to men!" Let's hope The Independent heeds its own report (EnviroSpin Watch)

Believers should avert their eyes - here's some of those nonexistent sceptics: "Ice cores show warming 'natural'" - "HUNDREDS of thousands of years worth of climate records in ice cores show there is nothing unusual in a global warming trend over the past 25 years. Marine geophysicist Bob Carter, a professor at Queensland's James Cook University and leading climate change sceptic, said the effects of human activity would barely register in the long-term history of climate change. He told The Weekend Australian that ice cores from Antarctica "tell us clearly that in the context of the meteorological records of 100 years, it is not unusual to have a period of warming like the one we are in at the moment". Dr Carter disputed the theory that human activity was making a current - natural - warm period hotter: "Atmospheric CO2 is not a primary forcing agent for temperature change." He argues that "any cumulative human signal is so far undetectable at a global level and, if present, is buried deeply in the noise of natural variation". Fellow sceptic William Kininmonth, a former director of the Bureau of Meteorology's National Climate Centre, agreed. He wrote in a 2004 book, Climate Change: A Natural Hazard that there was "every reason to believe that the variabilities in global temperature and other climate characteristics experienced over the past century are part of the natural variability of the climate system and are not a consequence of recent anthropogenic activities." (Weekend Australian)

Lookout! Here's another: Reflections of a Climate Skeptic by Henk Tennekes (Climate Science)

The Lorenz paradigm and the limitations of climate models... - EnviroSpin Essay of the Week: 'A Skeptical View of Climate Models'

Still more... The Week That Was Jan. 7, 2006 (SEPP)

By way of respite, this is for Flannery fans: "20 years left to achieve climate stability - scientist" - "A leading Australian scientist believes that the world has just 20 years to turn the tide on global warming and that leaders at a summit in Sydney next week must take concrete steps to tackle the problem." (Irish Examiner)

No word on when the world's climate was stable, what it might have been like or what it would take to achieve it...

"The Next Atlantis?" - "The Times's Nicholas Kristof visits the first country that might disappear as the oceans rise." (New York Times) [Note that this is one of their pay to view items]

Kristof should check out: Estimating future sea level changes from past records [.pdf] (Nils-Axel Mörner, Global and Planetary Change 40 (2004) 49–54) and New perspectives for the future of the Maldives [.pdf] (Global and Planetary Change 40 (2004) 177–182)

"Minister's sea-level view lands him in hot water" - "ENVIRONMENT Minister Ian Campbell has been told to "pull his head out of the sand" over his insistence global warming may never submerge tiny Pacific nations. The criticism came after he said it was not certain climate change would make several states uninhabitable." (The Age)

But he's right, although such honest reports are rare. Recall this from AFP? And perhaps people need reminding why islands of the region are not the most stable platforms from which to relate sea levels.

The prize for actually finding out what's really happening and then reporting it should go to Simon Houpt of The Globe and Mail for this (unfortunately no longer online):

"That sinking feeling" - "Most people have never heard of Tuvalu, the world's second-smallest nation. Now, it's an environmental cause celebre because it seems to be slowly slipping into the Pacific. SIMON HOUPT reports" (Globe and Mail)

Most notable for actually including the following passages:

"From 1978 to 1999, the [Tuvalu] relative sea-level rise was 0.07 millimetres a year [about one-quarter of one inch per century] -- "minuscule," [Dr. Wolfgang Scherer, director of the National Tidal Facility at the Flinders University of South Australia in Adelaide] says. Since his facility has been gathering data, in the past eight years, the average increase in relative sea level is 0.0 millimetres."

"Some Tuvaluans wish that the environmentalists would stop trying to do them any favours. Elisala Pita, the assistant cabinet secretary at the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Environment, says his country isn't sinking. Reached this week at his office on the main island of Funafuti, he lashes out at those who say they are trying to help Tuvalu in the name of environmentalism. "Things are getting out of hand," he fumes. "Tuvalu is being used for the issue of climate change. There is a lot of misleading information. People are writing books or articles saying Farewell to Tuvalu, saying Tuvalu is sinking, telling all these lies, just using Tuvalu to prove their point. As a Tuvaluan, I am extremely disappointed and deeply hurt because those are not facts. No island is sinking. Tuvalu is not sinking. It is still floating."

Pita continues, "Climate change is important to us, but it's not an issue we would use to justify our policies on migration or foreign aid. That's totally not right, it's unjustified and scientifically not based on findings. There is vulnerability to climate change everywhere. In India, the problem is on a much bigger scale. There are coastal erosions on Tuvalu, of course, but that doesn't mean the island is sinking. This erosion is caused by man-made infrastructure." Beachhead erosion has been increasing for years because the Tuvaluans use sand -- one of the only natural resources they have -- for construction materials. Pita pleads for the truth to be heard around the world. "I'm sorry, my friend, I can't help you," he says. "We do not entertain people doing news based on rumours."

Not bad Simon Houpt, reporting the whole story, not bad at all.

On the other side of the coin: Canada helps village flee to safer ground (Asia Pacific Post)

Interesting critters, Australia's left-wing whackos: "'No room' for ALP's climate refugees" - "ACCEPTING climate refugees from Pacific nations affected by rising sea levels was "policy on the run" that would add to Australia's already high greenhouse emissions. After the launch of a Labor Party climate refugee policy yesterday, leading Australian economist Warwick McKibbin said assisting Pacific islanders and peoples from other nations affected by rising sea levels was a legitimate concern. But he said Australia was the last place in the world that should take in climate refugees given its high per capita emission rate." (The Australian)

Just to prove Reuters do report some cold events too: "Record snow in Japan, cold in Delhi as Asia shivers" - "TOKYO - Troops and volunteers shovelled snow from roofs and roads in Japan and India's capital New Delhi recorded its lowest temperature in 70 years as a cold wave swept across parts of Asia on Sunday." (Reuters)

No word yet on how AGW is responsible for this.

"Weather Has Become Bogeyman, News Staple" - "It began as a mass e-mail in a certain Seattle office building on December's first day. A cold front was arriving! Snow! Ice! Untold inches for the city and surrounding area! Within hours, the e-mail exchange called for an early dismissal and even generated a catchy headline, the kind that television news offers up for every tempest: "Snowstorm Katrina." (Associated Press)

Here we go, huggers' favs getting a hiding lately: "Climate change taking root - Research finds trees adapting as world gets warmer, moister" - "ALBANY -- Warmer, wetter weather in Russia over the past 40 years has already changed the way forests there look -- and the implications for future warming aren't good, a University at Albany researcher says. Andrei Lapenis, an associate professor of climatology in the school's Geography and Planning Department, was the lead author in a study that discovered Russian trees are getting greener while their trunks are getting skinnier." (Times-Union)

Let's see, we've had temperate forests actually absorb too much sunlight and contribute to global warming. Now we've got high-latitude forests absorbing less carbon than guesstimated (never mind that Scandinavian studies recently reported just the opposite - that's so last year) so it seems we have a sustained effort to deny trees and sequestration could 'save' the world from AGW. What will be 'wrong' with tropical forests, we wonder? Probably won't have long to wait - the AP6 meeting begins Wednesday.

"Kyoto recalcitrants unite" - "WHEN the world's most powerful woman, Condoleezza Rice, flies into Sydney midweek, she will join a raft of business and political heavyweights trying to resolve arguably the most pressing issue facing the world." (The Australian)

Actually Condi has more pressing business, like potential State funerals to attend.

"U.S. defends breakaway Sydney climate talks" - "WASHINGTON, Jan 6 - The Bush administration on Friday defended its role in breakaway six-nation climate talks in Australia next week and said they complemented the Kyoto Protocol and were not aimed at replacing it." (Reuters)

"Alan Oxley: Overcooking the cause" - "NEXT week the global debate on climate change comes to Sydney. Governments of the countries that consume most of the world's energy, dictate the world economy, house most of the world's people and which emit the largest share of greenhouse gases will meet to chart a new approach to climate change." (The Australian)

"Business to dominate summit" - "IT HAS been billed as one of the most important environment meetings in recent years but environment groups have not been invited to the inaugural Asia-Pacific partnership on clean development and climate. However, big business will be there in force - companies like the global miner Rio Tinto and the oil group Exxon Mobil - and will foot part of the bill for a harbour cruise." (Sydney Morning Herald)

Limited to relevant participants? I like it better already.

"Environmentalists slam inaugural climate change meeting in Australia" - "Environmentalists on Sunday slammed this week's inaugural meeting of a U.S.-led partnership that aims to develop cleaner energy technologies to combat global warming, with one group calling it a "trade show" for business interests. The two-day meeting of the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate begins Wednesday and brings together government and business representatives from the United States, Australia, China, India, South Korea and Japan. It aims to spur more private investment in the region, while also slowing global warming." (AP)

Naturally: "Groups to stage climate protest" - "GREEN groups are preparing to protest outside a climate-change conference in Sydney, arguing the forum will do nothing to halt global warming." (AAP)

"Getting Desperate Down Under" - "Things are not going well for the global warming alarmists. The first high level meeting of governments which account for the largest share of the world’s economy, most of the world’s population and most emissions of greenhouse gases will be held in Sydney, Australia, this week. But the greens decry the event." (Alan Oxley, TCS Daily)

"U.S. Climate Change Strategy Should Lead AP6 Meetings; NCPA E-Team Scholar Says Technology Should Drive Asia-Pacific Summit" - "DALLAS, Jan. 9 -- As the Asia-Pacific climate change conference prepares to kick-off next week in Australia, NCPA Senior Fellow H. Sterling Burnett says adaptation and technological innovation, both integral to the U.S. government's position on climate change, should drive any agreement." (U.S. Newswire)

"No climate change 'silver bullet': govt" - "A major climate change conference this week must aim for more co-operation, not a "silver bullet" solution to the world's climate problems, says Environment Minister Ian Campbell." (AAP)

"Technology, not Kyoto, seen as key" - "REDUCTIONS in greenhouse gas emissions three times greater than those in the Kyoto Protocol could result from next week's climate change talks, a federal minister has predicted. The Minister for Industry, Ian Macfarlane, said the six countries at the talks will be asked to expedite technologies that will allow them to continue using large amounts of energy while cutting greenhouse gas emissions. "While Kyoto puddles on, to put it nicely, the real reductions will come from technology," Mr Macfarlane said. "This is not a diplomatic love-in. It's a hard-edged business plan with targets and reporting duties." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Climate fund's $100m kickstart" - "AUSTRALIA is considering injecting about $100 million into an international fund to kick-start the adoption of clean technology in China and India as part of a regional push to cut greenhouse gases. The US is also expected to be a major contributor to the scheme, designed to encourage the world's two largest developing nations to accelerate the fight against climate change." (The Australian)

"Billions needed to fight climate change" - "An environmentalist has described as a "pittance" the $100 million the federal government is considering injecting into an international fund to promote the adoption of clean technology in China and India." (AAP)

Erwin thinks that figure should be $30 billion instead - given that we have to include a few kangaroos and the odd koala to make 20 million total population with a significant chunk pre- or post-workforce, he just might find some resistance from the maybe 10 million taxpayers expected to foot the bill.

"$30m greenhouse store plan" - "VICTORIA is set to become a leader in fighting climate change with a landmark research project this year that will store greenhouse gas deep underground. The carbon dioxide geosequestration project, a first for Australia, is being driven by the Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies (CO2CRC) and will be located in the Otway Basin in western Victoria." (The Age)

"Incentives seen as only greenhouse solution" - "RESEARCH and development of clean coal technologies would be a waste of time and Australia's greenhouse gas emissions will keep rising unless the Federal Government sets a price on carbon, energy experts and power providers say." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Greenhouse gas an asset, not liability" - "EDMONTON - Greenhouse-gas emissions drop and aging oil wells gain fresh life in a new production network now starting up in central Alberta. Carbon-dioxide emissions of two Red Deer-area petrochemical complexes will be cut by 220,000 tonnes a year or the equivalent of exhaust from nearly 50,000 cars, say partners in the new system. An 80-kilometre pipeline network will inject the gas in purified, liquefied form into oil wells around Lacombe and Ponoka. Up to four-fold gains in recovery of oil reserves are expected, with the greenhouse gas staying safely underground permanently after doing its job of driving up premium refinery-ready light crude." (Edmonton Journal)

"France to cut oil use by 2020 with new reactor" - "PARIS - President Jacques Chirac announced plans on Thursday to cut oil consumption in France, including the launch of the latest nuclear reactor prototype so that French trains will not use a drop of oil in 20 years' time. Chirac sealed France's commitment to nuclear power by announcing the launch of a fourth generation prototype reactor to be in use by 2020. France has become the world's second largest nuclear power producer after it decided after the 1970s oil shocks to reduce its oil dependence by building a fleet of 58 nuclear reactors." (Reuters)

"Ministers warned of huge rise in nuclear waste" - "A new generation of nuclear power stations would increase five-fold the amount of a lethal and long-lasting form of highly radioactive nuclear waste stored in the UK, official figures show." (The Guardian)

"Nervous energy" - "Consumers are highly vulnerable to a sudden break in energy supplies. But so are producers." (The Economist)

"Coal not fuel of past as many think" - "Until last week's mining disaster in West Virginia, coal was very much out of sight, out of mind - and, for many people, just as well forgotten. But even as the death of 12 men beneath the ground reminds the nation of its grimy coal-mining past, the ebony jewel they sought remains very much part of our present. Even if we don't know it. "There's a whole gamut of reasons why there's this lack of understanding, for the lack of people not being able to see how important coal is to their lives," said Honaker." (Associated Press)

"Blow for farmers over bio-fuel" - "Farmers' belief that energy crops hold the key to a more profitable future has taken a blow with the disclosure that the oil companies think it is more efficient to make fuel out of straw and green waste. The Government has introduced a "bio-fuels obligation" that says that by 2010 five per cent of petrol and diesel on the forecourts must be from renewable sources. It fostered the hope that this would be a new source of revenue for farmers. However, Lord Oxburgh, the former chairman of Shell, in a paper delivered at the Oxford Farming Conference, warned that making petrol or diesel from energy crops such as maize was "scarcely worthwhile doing." (London Telegraph)

Oh boy... "GM: New study shows unborn babies could be harmed" - "Women who eat GM foods while pregnant risk endangering their unborn babies, startling new research suggests." (Geoffrey Lean, London Independent)

Lean's pretty late featuring this somewhat dubious Russian, um... study - it's been knocking around in the not-worth-a-mention heap for months.

"Malta one of the countries opposing genetically-modified products" - "VALLETTA, Malta -- Malta is among 10 European Member States that are opposing the marketing of a genetically modified product, the maize 1507. Greece, Poland, Portugal, Austria, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus and Malta are the 10 countries opposing the marketing of maize 1507." (di-ve news)

"GM crops made farmers richer, claim two UK economists" - "CHENNAI, JAN 8: Two UK scientists, based on their studies on income from genetically modified (GM) herbicide tolerant (HT) soy bean, maize, cotton, canola, Bt maize and cotton, claim that there have been substantial net economic benefits at the farm level, due to the technology.

In a study, ‘GM crops: The global economic and environmental impact, ‘The first nine years 1996-2004’ by Graham Brookes and Peter Barfoot, examines specific global economic impacts on farm income and environmental impacts of the technology in key GM-adopting countries. They are co-directors of the UK-based company PG Economics Ltd, which over the years have been coming out with several reports in favour of GM technology.

Their studies are being heavily contested by GM-critics, as being funded by major biotech-corporates." (Financial Express)

January 6, 2006

"Energy, A Potent Political Weapon" - "Americans should pay special attention to this week’s crisis between Russia and the Ukraine involving natural gas. It foreshadows what could happen here if we continue to cede control of our national energy policy to environmentalists." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

Junkman meets Al Gore! I met former vice president and global warming alarmist-in-chief Al Gore today [Jan. 4]. In a private conversation that took place following an abbreviated version of his global warming presentation, I suggested to him that he use his considerable clout with the global warming gang to convince them to put up some scientists for a genuine debate on climate science. He thanked me for the suggestion but didn't seem too enthusiastic about it. Later one of his handlers came up to me and indicated there may be some interest on his part. Stay tuned...

Media Advisory: Assembly Bill 319 Restricts Consumer Choice And Raises Unnecessary Fears Based On Unproven Research

A press briefing by “No On AB 319 - Californians for Consumer Choice,” a coalition of businesses, medical groups, and associations opposing legislation authored by Assemblywoman Wilma Chan-D. Citing unproven and questionable research, AB 319 seeks to ban Bisphenol-A (BPA) from a range of important products consumers value, despite a 50- year track record of safe use and strong scientific evidence that supports the safety of these products.
                        Monday, January 9, 2006
at 10 a.m. (PST)
                       Porter Novelli
                       Conference Room
                       1215 K Street, 21st Floor, Sacramento

Experts on BPA and Human Health:
                       · Steve Hentges, Ph.D., Executive Director
                       Polycarbonate Business Unit, American Plastics Council
                       · Lorenz Rhomberg, Ph.D., Principal
                       Gradient Corporation, (formerly with the US EPA and the Harvard School of Public Health)
AB 319 would ban BPA in products used by children and would effectively limit consumer choice of an array of products that are safe, reliable, and important to our daily lives. BPA is used to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins, both of which are essential for countless safe and reliable consumer products. Government bodies worldwide, including U.S. Food and Drug Administration, have reviewed the scientific evidence and all conclude that BPA does not pose a risk to human health, including the health of children.
For more information and press kit materials visit www.noab319.org.
Call-In Line:
Media representatives unable to be present may conference in. Contact Christie Schuck at (916) 325-2906 for the conference line number.

"Acrylamide not seen to affect colon cancer risk" - "NEW YORK - The media gave a lot of space last year to the possible cancer risk posed by high levels of acrylamide in cooked and especially fried snacks like potato chips, pretzels and popcorn. However, a new study has found that dietary intake of acrylamide does not appear to be associated with colorectal cancer in women." (Reuters Health)

"Many non-smokers develop lung obstruction" - "NEW YORK - It hardly seems fair but nearly one in four Americans with airway obstruction have never smoked, a new analysis shows. The majority of these cases are unexplained, Dr. Ronald J. Halbert of Cerner Health Insights in Beverly Hills, California told Reuters Health. "The bottom line is that we really don't know what's going on in these people very well," he said." (Reuters Health)

Imagine that... "Magnet therapies 'have no effect'" - "Magnet therapies which are claimed to cure conditions ranging from back pain to cancer have no proven benefits, according to a team of US researchers." (BBC)

"Subsidised Activism: Federal funds going to groups fighting political battles" - "The Natural Resources Defense Council is a left-wing environmental organization that constantly chides the Bush administration, calls for international environmental governance, promotes more regulations, sounds the alarms about "global warming" and the evils of the oil industry and generally takes positions at odds with those supported by President Bush and the GOP Congress — and, we suspect, by a good majority of the American people." (The Monitor)

 "2005 Ties for 2nd Warmest Year" - "With a global average temperature that was three-tenths of a degree Celsius warmer than seasonal norms, 2005 tied with 2002 as the second warmest year in the past 27, according to data gathered by NOAA satellites and processed at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH)." (Newswise)

Not so global global warming. Interestingly, the Northern Polar region appears to have a rising trend from 1992. The Southern Polar region, however, demonstrates no clear trend, having cooled slightly. Contrary to hysterical claims this is pretty much the coup de grâce for the catastrophic anthropogenic greenhouse warming hypothesis. 'How so?' I hear people puzzling - it's actually pretty simple, let's walk through it:

  • the misnamed 'greenhouse effect' can be experimentally demonstrated in the lab;
  • logically, some warming (or not cooling) must have occurred with rising greenhouse gases;
  • whether this effect is sufficiently large in the real world to even be detected is moot;
  • anthropogenic greenhouse gases are well mixed in the atmosphere;
  • due to topography and population, the greatest concentration of cooling particulates is located in the Northern Hemisphere;
  • the cold, dry polar atmosphere has the greatest greenhouse warming potential;
  • the coldest, driest atmosphere is located over Antarctica;
  • air samples taken at the South Pole show anthropogenic greenhouse gases present at levels within a couple of parts per million of those taken elsewhere on the globe;
  • despite its lack of cooling particulates, the Southern Polar region shows no detectable temperature response (dose-response?) to rising anthropogenic greenhouse gases;
  • there is no postulated mechanism by which anthropogenic gases could cause warming in the Northern Polar region but not in the Southern Polar region;
  • this tells us that warming observed in the Northern Polar region is driven by something other than anthropogenic greenhouse;
  • since something other than anthropogenic greenhouse is driving all the observable (measurable) temperature change then we can be confident that tweaking anthropogenic emissions will have no measurable effect.

See? It needn't cost trillions of dollars to solve the greenhouse emission 'problem' after all.

"Tiny marine organisms reflect ocean warming" - "Sediment cores collected from the seafloor off Southern California reveal that plankton populations in the Northeastern Pacific changed significantly in response to a general warming trend that started in the early 1900s. As ocean temperatures increased, subtropical and tropical species of small marine organisms called foraminifera (forams) became more abundant. Forams that live in cooler waters decreased, especially after the mid-1970s. These changes are unlike anything seen during the previous 1,400 years. Oceanographer David Field discovered these dramatic changes during his Ph.D. work at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. He currently works as a postdoctoral fellow at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). Field and his co-authors describe their findings in the current issue of Science magazine." (University of California - San Diego) | Planktonic Foraminifera of the California Current Reflect 20th-Century Warming | Abstract | Full Text | PDF | Supporting Online Material (Science)

Hmm... there wasn't much by way of enhanced greenhouse before the 1950s, by which time this suggests the warming trend was at least a half-century old. The mid-1970s date seems about right given the PDO phase shift of 1976.

 Misanthropy corner: "Earth is too crowded for Utopia" - "The global population is higher than the Earth can sustain, argues the Director of the British Antarctic Survey in this week's Green Room, and solving environmental problems such as climate change is going to be impossible without tackling the issue." (Chris Rapley, BBC) | Population size 'green priority' (BBC)

Science's EIC proselytising again: "New Year, New Look, Old Problem" - "... Now I turn to a different kind of change. For more than two decades, the phenomenon of global warming and its scientific basis have been high-priority objectives for researchers in atmospheric physics and chemistry, oceanography, and paleoclimatology, among others. The consequences of the past century's temperature increase are becoming dramatically apparent in the increased frequency of extreme weather events, the de-icing of the Arctic, and the geographic redistribution of plants and animals..." (Donald Kennedy, Science) | PDF

"Ministers remain unmoved by threat of rising sea levels"  -"THERE was no evidence to suggest Pacific islands populations were in any imminent danger of being displaced by rising sea levels, the Federal Government said yesterday. Responding to Labor's calls for the Government to accept environmental refugees from the Pacific whose countries were flooded as a result of climate change, the Minister for the Environment, Ian Campbell, branded the suggestion absurd." (Sydney Morning Herald)

Oh dear... "Minister 'a Canute' on sea levels" - "FEDERAL Environment Minister Ian Campbell had revealed his government's attitude to climate change was simply "let's hope it never happens", Labor said today. Senator Campbell's comment that there was no imminent danger of Pacific island nations being swamped by rising sea levels has led the Greens to label him as a Canute." (AAP)

Apparently our Greens do not understand King Cnut's lesson - perhaps this will help them.

"NASA'S Topex/Poseidon Oceanography Mission Ends" - "WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 -- The joint NASA/Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales TOPEX/Poseidon oceanography satellite ceased operations after nearly 62,000 orbits of Earth. The spacecraft lost its ability to maneuver, bringing to a close a successful 13-year mission." (PRNewswire)

"Margo Thorning: R.I. should avoid the risky Kyoto path" - "MUCH PRAISE should be awarded to Governor Carcieri for not bowing to political pressures that ignore the harsh economic realities of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Last month, seven Northeastern governors signed a pact committing their states to the RGGI, a cap and trade system intended to curb greenhouse-gas emissions. But RGGI proponents should pay close attention to the recent political struggle facing British Prime Minister Tony Blair." (Providence Journal)

"Trial bid to stop belching cattle" - "Aberdeen scientists are carrying out commercial trials on a feed additive which they hope will stop cows from producing large amounts of methane." (BBC)

Well, at least it leads to improved feed conversion efficiency, which is a good thing.

"Europe warms to nuclear power" - "Russia's gas cutoff Sunday gave a new push to a trend gathering momentum." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Men of Monmouth win second Battle of Agincourt - French windfarm scythed down" (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Andrew Bernstein: Only capitalism can cure Africa" - "THE PLAN of George Bush and Tony Blair to send billions more in aid to Africa is futile. History demonstrates that brutal dictatorships and tribes engaged in internecine warfare are not transformed by handouts. After all, billions of dollars have already been poured into Africa. What Africa needs is freedom, not welfare." (Providence Journal)

"Shanghai to build GM food farm" - "BEIJING, Jan. 6 -- Shanghai will build its first outdoor experimental farm to test security procedures for growing genetically modified plants and crops, a key official told Shanghai Daily Thursday. The new farm, to be completed by the end of the year in Qingpu District, will become a major base for tests on locally developed GM plants and food crops, including corn and fruit." (China View)

"EU plans for GM organic food condemned" - "Food campaigners are angry at EU plans to allow organic food to contain genetically modified content. The European Commission's proposals would permit products accidentally contaminated with up to 0.9 per cent GM organisms to be officially certified as organic. The Commission said the regulation aimed to take a realistic approach to the risk of GM contamination and ensure organic farmers were not penalised. But the Soil Association rejected the idea, saying organic food should have a maximum GM content of 0.1 per cent." (London Telegraph)

"Biotech crop acreage will grow out of necessity" - "URBANA - One of Bruce Chassy's favorite cartoons shows an overweight woman seated on a couch. She's munching potato chips. A carton of french fries and a soda sit within convenient reach. "I won't eat anything genetically modified," she tells her equally obese male couch counterpart. "It might be unhealthy." The University of Illinois food scientist told Illinois Crop Protection Technology Conference attendees Wednesday that genetically modified crop acreage will expand worldwide. The expansion will be fueled by increasing need to improve human nutrition as well as boost crop production, he said." (Pantagraph)

"Zambia Says Ban on Gene-Altered Maize Stands" - "LUSAKA - Zambia said on Thursday a ban on gene-altered maize remained in force despite pressure from millers arguing it delayed shipment of grains to the southern African country. Zambia faces severe food shortages and the government declared a national food emergency last year to attract more donor support to save people on the brink of starvation. It says 1.7 million people need food handouts because they are far too poor to afford commercial purchases." (Reuters)

"Biotech Boom Benefits Farmers, Consumers, Environment" - "Both in terms of consumption and variety, biotech is busting out all over – and we're reaping a host of benefits from cheaper and better food to land and forest preservation." (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

"Salmon That Grow Up Fast" - "If Elliot Entis can win FDA approval for his quick-growing fish, he'll pave the way for other food companies working on genetically modified animals." (Business Week)

"Monsanto says committed to cotton farming" - "SAN ANTONIO - Life sciences company Monsanto Co. said it is committed to its U.S. cotton business and will try to duplicate successful brand and licensing ventures in the corn and soybean industries. "Monsanto is very committed to cotton," Jim Zimmer, the company's director of marketing, said in an interview late Wednesday at the annual Beltwide Cotton conference here. "It is an important business to Monsanto." (Reuters)

"Biotech Plan in Missouri Suffers Setback" - "CHICAGO, Jan. 5 - A California-based company specializing in plant-made pharmaceuticals has pulled out of an agreement to move its operations to northwest Missouri, where it was to have produced proteins from genetically modified rice." (New York Times)

"Biotech Bugs Take Wing" - "Could release of a genetically modified insect help eliminate a major threat to the U.S. cotton crop?" (Technology Review)

January 5, 2006

"Salmon sabotage feared" - "The Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) has asked Norway's salmon industry to be vigilant to the threat of sabotage from militant environmentalists after several facilities have been damaged." (Aftenposten)

"Soy Diet Worsens Heart Disease in Male Mice – Study" - "WASHINGTON - Heart conditions became worse in male mice carrying a genetic mutation for heart disease when they were fed a soy diet, a study published on Wednesday showed." (Reuters) | Soy diet worsens heart disease (Journal of Clinical Investigation)

"Will the Environmentalists Find Their Voice? Once an environmental leader, U.S. now barely follows" - "For U.S. environmentalists, 2005 will be remembered harshly, because it marked the clear and undeniable end of U.S. global environmental leadership. For three decades, the United States was the world's environmental trendsetter. But now leadership comes from the European Union, a phenomenon I observed firsthand last spring as a Fulbright scholar teaching comparative environmental law at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia." (Clifford Rechtschaffen, SF Chronicle)

Um, Clifford? Europe is sliding into decaying senility and misanthropic enviro-nuts are a goodly part of the problem - why would anyone want to follow?

 Britain's recent cold weather may be the cause - UK Tory Leader apparently suffers 'brain freeze': "Cameron attacks chocolate sellers" - "'Irresponsible' marketing techniques are being used to sell chocolate and fuel Britain's obesity problem, Tory leader David Cameron has said." (BBC)

It's hard to know quite what to make of the bizarre antics of Cameron and the party that remains 'Tory' in name only. Have they been the subject of a hostile corporate takeover by wealthy eco-imperialists? I do note they are toeing the Zac Goldsmith line - complete with The Ecologist magazine's head honcho actually doing the talking.

What an extraordinary spectacle it makes with the socialist Blair Government pursuing capitalism, recognising it as the only viable course, while the nominal Tories rebrand as watermelons (green on the outside and red on the inside). Oddly enough, Australia's equally vacuous major opposition party - from the other side of the political fence - is making very similar noises as it tries to be noticed despite the reflected glare from the long-incumbent Howard Government (Australia's version of the Tories).

 "Editorial: New ozone findings temper a success story" - "For most people, perhaps, “the ozone hole” belongs on that short list of big environmental problems successfully solved: Didn’t scientists figure out which chemicals were eating away at the earth’s radiation shield? Didn’t the whole world sign a treaty to ban them? Didn’t manufacturers of everything from hair spray to air conditioners find safe substitutes, like, 20 years ago? The situation was never that simple, of course, but it has grown discouragingly more complex with findings that the ozone layer is healing much more slowly than predicted. For a variety of reasons, the 1987 Montreal Protocol on ozone-depleting chemicals has fallen short of its promise:" (Star Tribune)

One of the reasons, of course, is that the conceptual 'ozone layer' is not at all as people had imagined. Rather than some fragile, static entity accumulated over eons, stratospheric ozone is dynamic, seasonal and highly volatile, exhibiting extraordinary variation during the course of the seasons and the years. Check out the variation in ozone levels and see how seasonal regional levels are here.

Whether humans have any effect on the 'ozone layer' at all is probably completely irrelevant - the tropics but rarely achieve polar concentrations of stratospheric ozone, receive several orders of magnitude greater solar UV radiation bombardment than polar regions and yet life thrives in the tropics. This means we have a multi-million-year, multi-species cohort, biosphere-wide study suggesting stratospheric ozone and terrestrial UV bombardment is a poor determinant of species success on Earth. Perhaps there are more important things to worry about, no?

"What is the Meaning of a “Multi-Decadal Climate Projection”?" - "There are numerous papers and news releases that present regional and global model forecasts for decades into the future (see, as just two examples, the NSF press release and a Canadian study). Is this science? The short answer is NO." (Climate Science)

 "Warming led to current u-turn: study" - "AN extraordinary burst of global warming that occurred around 55 million years ago dramatically reversed Earth's pattern of ocean currents, a finding that strengthens modern-day concern about climate change, a study says." (AFP) | Global warming can trigger extreme ocean, climate changes, Scripps-led study reveals (University of California - San Diego)

"Kyoto 'too late' to stop warming" - "CONFIRMATION that last year was Australia's hottest on record proves the country is in the grip of global warming, but signing up for the Kyoto agreement is not the answer, Environment Minister Ian Campbell has said. "The science is clearly overwhelming," he said yesterday. "All the evidence points toward warming." (The Australian)

"Talks to ignore emissions targets" - "THE role of nuclear power and technological fixes to rising greenhouse gas emissions will be discussed by six of the world's largest power consumers in Sydney next week. But there will be no mention of targets or timetables for reducing the gases that cause global warming. "China and India are simply not interested in that sort of target approach," the Minister for the Environment, Ian Campbell, told the Herald yesterday." (Sydney Morning Herald) | Nations to Meet to Discuss Global Warming (Associated Press)

 Warm weather makes consumers stupid? "Warm weather 'to boost food bugs'" - "Britain could see a dramatic increase in food poisoning cases and waterborne disease as the warmer, wetter weather linked to climate change takes hold." (BBC) | Never undercook 'global warming' (EnviroSpin Watch)

But it makes good cheese: "Blessed year for cows puts grin on cheesemakers' faces" - "Cheesemakers are hailing a vintage year for British cheeses after climatic conditions combined to produce top quality milk. A mild winter last year, followed by a warm and wet spring meant grass grew faster than usual producing better milk." (London Telegraph)

 "Australians may be called upon to help at-risk islanders" - "CANBERRA - Australia should prepare to accept climate change refugees from Pacific island nations likely to "sink" under rising sea levels, the Australian Labor Party says. The federal opposition will today release a Pacific climate change strategy aimed at planning for mass relocations of people living on vulnerable islands in Australia's region. Low-lying Pacific island states like Tuvalu - whose islands lie just a few metres above sea level - are at risk from rising sea levels brought about by global warming. The phenomenon is likely to generate a new mass class of refugees - environmental refugees." (AAP) | Call for action on 'drowning' islands (The Age)

Oh boy... the Howard Government has Australia's Labor Party so rattled they're regurgitating all manner of dogma. Various low-lying isles certainly have difficulties with high tides but the cause of their woes is not anthropogenic global warming. Much of Tuvalu's troubles, for example, stem from subsidence due to excessive groundwater extraction and erosion due to removal of fringing coral reefs for building material. The problem is hardly unique among low-lying atolls and even quite high, mountainous islands have difficulties stemming from tectonic subduction and volcanism - witness the UN's recent shameless misrepresentation of the 600yd relocation of Lateu on Tegua Island (Vanuatu). Tegua is sinking right enough - due to tectonic activity and volcanism. Last we heard that was not one of the hypothesised effects of enhanced greenhouse.

 "Ian Plimer: Global warming a damp squib" - "HEAT, bushfires. Just another Australian summer, some hotter, some wetter, some cooler, some drier. As per usual, the northern hemisphere freezes and the blame game is in overdrive. At the 2005 UN Climate Change Conference in Montreal, Greenpeace's Steven Guilbeault stated: "Global warming can mean colder, it can mean drier, it can mean wetter, that's what we're dealing with."

It is that simple! If it's hot, it's global warming; if it's cold, it's global warming. Demonstrators in frigid temperatures in Montreal chanted: "It's hot in here! There's too much carbon in the atmosphere!" The same apocalyptic Guilbeault says: "Time is running out to deal with climate change. Ten years ago, we thought we had a lot of time, five years ago we thought we had a lot of time, but now science is telling us that we don't have a lot of time." Really.

In 1992, Greenpeace's Henry Kendall gave us the Chicken Little quote, "Time is running out"; in 1994, The Irish Times tried to frighten the leprechauns with "Time running out for action on global warming, Greenpeace claims"; and in 1997 Chris Rose of Greenpeace maintained the religious mantra with "Time is running out for the climate". We've heard such failed catastrophist predictions before. The Club of Rome on resources, Paul Erlich on population, Y2K, and now Greenpeace on global warming." (The Australian)

Ian Plimer is a professor of geology at the University of Adelaide and former head of the school of earth sciences at the University of Melbourne.

See/Join: The end of the global warming debate (Crooked Timber)

 "Drivers atone for exhaust with carbon offsets" - "As a business and fundraising consultant, Pat Castleman drives about 1,000 miles a month. So when the Mill Valley, Calif., resident heard that she could "neutralize" the greenhouse gas pollutants emitted by her new Infiniti sedan, she jumped at the opportunity." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Putting the brakes on car contrarians" - "At the start of every year, publications like to round up assorted seers and sages to forecast what's ahead for the country. And throughout many of their predictions there is a common thread - a visceral dislike of the automobile and a near-gleeful anticipation of its demise. Too many people driving too many cars and, as the seas rise due to global warming, less space to put them. This prospect seems to both cheer some observers and steel them for the near-future when their less-enlightened countrymen are still happily motoring through life, ignorant of the dire fate in store for them and their machines." (Dale McFeatters, Scripps Howard News Service)

"Britain Seen off to Slow Start on Biomass, Biofuels" - "OXFORD - Britain has made a slow start in developing biofuels and biomass production, UK farming minister Lord Bach said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"WTO again Delays Ruling in Row over EU GMO Policy" - "GENEVA - A world trade ruling in a high-stakes row between the European Union and the United States and others over genetically modified crops has been delayed and is unlikely before February, trade diplomats said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"GM foods verdict unlikely to alter EU rules" - "A ruling expected next month by the World Trade Organisation in the transatlantic dispute over genetically modified products is likely to have more political resonance than actual impact on European food and agriculture sectors, according to officials and experts." (Financial Times)

January 4, 2006

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

Prohibitionists Exposed? - Anti-alcohol groups have long claimed that prohibition of alcoholic beverages is not one of their goals. That claim doesn't square well with a new article entitled Did Prohibition Work? Alcohol Prohibition as a Public Health Innovation, just published in the American Journal of Public Health. Glorifying the Volstead Act, the article's abstract reads, "National Prohibition succeeded both in lowering consumption and in retaining political support until the onset of the Great Depression radically changed the historical altered voters' priorities."

Today's lesson? Prohibition, it seems, may not be history.

"Tonnes of DDT goes to waste in Bihar" - "India is one of the few countries in the world where the use of DDT has been sanctioned for use, but bureaucratic red tape has delayed the spraying process at the expense of numerous lives." (AFM)

"Brandon: Pandering to politics costs lives" - "Suppose that over the next year the entire population of the Memphis metropolitan area were to die: 2,700-plus people gone each and every day, over a million in a year. And further imagine that another 200 million-plus, more than half the population of the entire U.S., were made chronically ill and, in a majority of those cases, unable to work. Then consider that it was all caused by a disease that could have been eliminated through use of a common, cheap chemical, but the government refused to allow it, even though no scientific evidence had ever shown it to have caused harm to humans. Imagine the outcry." (Hembree Brandon, Delta Farm Press)

"Scientists dismiss detox schemes" - "Following a so-called detox plan - often popular in January - is a waste of time and money, scientists say. They say many supplements do not have any effect and the body can recover from Christmas excess on its own. The detox business - which includes diets, tablets and drinks said to flush out toxins - is said to be worth tens of millions of pounds. But the scientists from the Sense About Science organisation say water, fresh air and sleep is all that is needed. The term detox is meaningless as the body is perfectly capable of clearing out harmful substances, they add." (BBC)

"Soda pop link to esophageal cancer debunked" - "NEW YORK - A new study shows that carbonated beverages don't increase the risk of developing cancer of the esophagus. In fact, people who drank diet soda are actually less likely to develop a particular type of esophageal cancer, adenocarcinoma, Dr. Susan T. Mayne of the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven and colleagues found." (Reuters Health)

"Children in unsafe areas 'fatter'" - "Children who live in areas their parents believe are unsafe are more likely to be overweight than those in safer neighbourhoods, scientists say." (BBC) | Parents' impressions of neighborhood safety linked to children's weight (JAMA and Archives Journals)

Actually, we believe the fear industry bears the bulk of blame for junior butterballs - not just the patently incorrect 'stranger danger' (most kids who suffer malicious harm do so at the hands of relatives or family acquaintances rather than strangers) but the whole 'safety' paradigm that has seen adventure and limit-testing removed from playgrounds, competition removed from most everything, no running, jumping, climbing... Affordability and availability means our kids never know hunger (and why should they?) and that they can eat things just because they taste good (no problem there either) but what do they get to do with those calories? Certainly little José or Chloe might fracture an arm or bust a clavicle testing themselves against the neighbourhood trees but, on the whole, they're going to be a lot fitter and healthier for being allowed to play and develop than they will be for having been cocooned in the illusions of 'safety'.

"Consider Yourself Warned" - "Ever since the obesity “epidemic” became a media staple, the public health community -- along with pundits on both sides of the Atlantic -- have been coming up with ever more alarming prescriptions for fixing this alleged health disaster." (John Luik, TCS Daily)

Doh! "Income level may predict response to depression treatment" - "Low-income people with depression are less likely to respond to treatment and more likely to be suicidal than those who have higher incomes, according to a study in the January issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals." (JAMA and Archives Journals)

"Statins do not prevent cancer, study says" - "CHICAGO - Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs do prevent heart attacks and may offer other health benefits, but contrary to popular belief the blockbuster drugs do not prevent cancer, researchers said on Tuesday. Some preliminary studies have shown lower rates of breast, prostate and colon cancers among statin users, but the analysis of 26 carefully constructed studies involving 87,000 patients concluded the drugs had no impact on cancer rates, according to their report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association." (Reuters)

"Naturalist criticises closure of eco labs" - "The television naturalist Sir David Attenborough has joined in a backlash against plans by a research council to close several ecological laboratories, one of which was featured his Life in the Undergrowth series on BBC. The laboratories at Monks Wood in Cambridgeshire, Winfrith in Dorset, Banchory in Aberdeenshire and at Oxford are being closed, together with a site at Swindon, by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology as part of a £45 million restructuring plan. The centre has decided, with the approval of its parent body, the Natural Environment Research Council, to reduce its sites from nine to four, over four years, and to cut 200 of its 600 staff. Its plans are expected to save £5 million a year." (London Telegraph)

"Edward Achorn: Curb your environmentalism" - "THE CRITICALLY acclaimed HBO show Curb Your Enthusiasm, based on the life of Seinfeld co-creator Larry David, tells the tale of a fabulously rich, petty and self-absorbed Hollywood writer who blunders into various disasters. It's often hilarious, the best thing on TV. But nothing this season was as deliciously funny as the script that real life has been writing for him." (Providence Journal)

Surfing environmentally unfriendly: "Surfers Hit Hard by Foam Company Closure" - "The closure of a small company in California that supplied most of the foam for surfboards all over the world has sent shockwaves through the surfing community and prices through the roof." (PBS Online)

"Greenpeace members held after 'toxic' ship protest" - "NEW DELHI - Police detained around a dozen Greenpeace activists in New Delhi on Tuesday during a protest over the planned scrapping in an Indian yard of a French aircraft carrier they said contains tonnes of highly toxic material." (Reuters)

"Study finds death toll in proportion" - "Contrary to perceptions, poor and black residents didn't suffer inordinately compared with others." (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Global warming? The stuff of Hollywood, not of the lab (EnviroSpin Watch)

Still at it: "2005 officially our hottest year" - "LAST year was Australia's hottest on record, new figures show. The Bureau of Meteorology annual climate summary shows 2005 was more than one degree warmer than the average temperature between 1961 and 1990, the world standard used to track temperature change." (AAP)

One thing we all seem pretty well agreed on - the planet is a little warmer now than when we first started measuring temperatures in the Little Ice Age. The corollary being that we are not still in the Little Ice Age and that the planet appears still to be recovering from that nasty cold interlude. Whether you view this as a problem largely depends on how much you value harsh winters, crop failures and famine.

"Hot, but no more than usual" - "A HEATWAVE in the nation's southeast was a regular new year event and could not be linked to global warming, senior weather experts said yesterday." (The Australian)

Hmm... "Environmentalists warn against 'raiding' rivers for water as winter drought hits South-east" - "The worst winter drought for a generation is gripping parts of Britain, leaving reservoirs a third full and forcing water companies to resort to emergency "raids" on rivers to replenish their dwindling reserves. Experts warned yesterday that without an unprecedented increase in rainfall in the coming months, serious water shortages are inevitable this summer in south-east England." (London Independent)

2001 wasn't it? That was when the UK had devastating floods (caused by global warming, what else?) and we were knowingly assured that winter flooding and summer drought was here to stay, so get used to it. Well, we are also assured that it has warmed even further, so where's this winter drought thing come from? I know, I know... global warming, right?

"A rising concern" - "On heels of study, state examines ways to protect coastline in anticipation of higher sea levels" (Orlando Sentinel)

"Boiling Point" - "Does global warming cause hurricanes? Don't ask a scientist. Get an actuary to tell you." (Tomas Kellner, Forbes)

"Senators headed to Antarctica for update on climate research" - "PORTLAND, Maine --U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and two of her colleagues left Tuesday on an eight-day visit to Antarctica that will provide an update on the latest research on climate change. Collins, of Maine, and fellow Republicans John McCain of Arizona and John Sununu of New Hampshire will travel to McMurdo Station to meet with leading researchers, including staff from the University of Maine Climate Change Institute." (Associated Press)

"UK scrutinizes climate change economics" - "In a major move away from global warming orthodoxy, the United Kingdom is currently in the process of studying the economic challenges of addressing climate change. Sir Nicholas Stern, a fellow of the British Academy, is leading a major review of the economics of climate change to understand more fully the nature of the economic challenges and how they can be met both in the UK and globally. Climate change is a complex and costly problem to address, with dollar estimates for stabilizing of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere ranging from trillions to many tens of trillions of dollars. This has numerous nations, including the United Kingdom, worried about the potential for large-scale global economic disruption." (NBR)

"Bye-Bye, Kyoto" - "One thing George W. Bush got exactly right was Kyoto. The treaty isn't working, and a lot of folks who bought into it are now looking for an exit strategy." (Dan Seligman, Forbes)

"Spain's Appetite for Carbon Credits" - "MADRID - Spain is staking its bets on Latin America for a place in the global "carbon market", with the hope of counterbalancing its emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases, which continue on the rise." (Tierramérica)

"Energy standards 'will reduce carbon emissions'" - "New energy standards for new shops and offices will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 50,000 tonnes a year, it was claimed today. Environment Minister Dick Roche said the new energy regulations were part of the Government’s plan to meet its commitments under the Kyoto Treaty. “The higher thermal performance and insulation standards for new non-domestic buildings will reduce CO2 emissions by an estimated 50,000 tonnes per annum by the end of 2012,” he said. However, Ireland is still expected to exceed its agreed limits for emissions of greenhouse gasses under the Kyoto Treaty by nearly 40% by 2010, and may face millions of euro in fines." (Ireland Online)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

Solar-Powered Millennial-Scale Climatic Change: A new study adds to the growing body of evidence that it is real, despite the fact that no millennial-scale cycle of solar activity has ever been observed.

Subject Index Summaries:
Drought (Asia): Climate alarmists are always claiming global warming produces more droughts.  Are they correct?

Insects (Natural Ecosystems): Will rising atmospheric CO 2 concentrations enable herbivorous insects to gain the upper hand over earth's forests in the years and decades to come?

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Canola, Climbing Nightshade, Soybean, and Sugar Beet.

Journal Reviews:
Temperature Reconstructions of the Past Millennium: What must be done to reduce the discrepancies among them?

Multi-Decadal Modes of Pacific Sea Surface Temperature Variability: A new analysis of a previously published record of proxy sea surface temperature reveals two important modes of multi-decadal climate variability in the South Pacific.

The Return of Blue Mussels to Svalbard: Their reappearance after a 1000-year absence is a strong testament to the reality of warmer-than-current High Arctic temperatures during the Medieval Warm Period.

Root Responses of a Shortgrass Steppe Ecosystem to Elevated CO 2 : What are they?  And what do they imply about carbon sequestration?

Potential Effect of Global Warming on the Photosynthetic Response of Sweet Potato to a Doubling of Atmospheric CO 2 : How might the aerial fertilization effect of atmospheric CO 2 enrichment be impacted by concurrent increases in air temperature? (co2science.org)

"US forces Brussels into rethink on aircraft emissions" - "THE European Commission is being forced to consider scaling back its scheme for targeting aircraft emissions after the United States threatened to take legal action to block it. The Commission proposed in September that all airlines operating in the European Union should be forced to offset their greenhouse gas emissions by buying permits to pollute. The emissions trading scheme, which was endorsed by EU environment ministers on December 2, would have covered all aircraft departing from EU airports, including American carriers heading across the Atlantic. The Commission estimated that the scheme would increase the average fare by up to €9 (£6)." (London Times)

"Ungreening Mitt Romney" - "WASHINGTON -- Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on Dec. 16 made a significant move that will benefit the pocketbooks of his state's consumers and perhaps boost his own Republican presidential prospects. He pulled Massachusetts out of the compact of Northeastern states requiring a reduction in power plant emissions of carbon dioxide." (Robert Novak, Lincoln Tribune)

Energy policy? What energy policy? Britain's worst political failure (along with pension policy) (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Putin shows why Britain must go nuclear" - "Chastised by the West, and perhaps recognising its cack-handed behaviour, Russia has backed down in its confrontation with Ukraine and intimated that the gas taps will be turned back on. If ever there was a wake-up call to western Europe about its energy policy, and the need to secure long-term supplies, this was it. For now, Mr Putin has been embarrassed into reversing his policy. He might not always be so easily influenced." (London Telegraph)

"British energy company draws up plans to increase production" - "THE German group that supplies gas to millions of British households under its Powergen brand is trying to boost production from a power station in Kent for the first time since the miners’ strike in a move to prevent any disruption to supplies." (London Times)

"EDF adds £2m to underwater power project" - "EDF Energy is stepping up investment in Bristol-based Marine Current Turbines to fund commercial development of electricity produced using underwater tidal currents. A prototype device is to be installed in Northern Ireland's Strangford Lough and connected to the local power grid next year. The companies say that while a number of power generation installations use wave power or tidal rise and fall, the Strangford Lough installation will be the first commercial prototype to harness the energy of underwater tidal currents." (The Guardian)

Yeah, sure... "Quantum leap in physics?" - "EAST WINDSOR - Traversing the long, sterile white corridors of BlackLight Power's offices here, technicians in lab coats and safety goggles are hard at work on what they believe is a scientific revolution. They meticulously examine tubes of gray powder, generate purple plasma in a tube and measure the temperature changes in large water baths. In warehouse-like rooms, each filled with various gadgets and experiments, a controversial new form of energy sizzles. According to BlackLight's founder, a cheap, non-polluting energy is generated 1,000 times more efficiently than conventional power sources. However, there is considerable skepticism in the scientific community, and to many, BlackLight's claims defy the laws of physics." (The Times, NJ)

"As wind farms increase, so does debate" - "STAMFORD, Conn. — Giant windmills are popping up on farms, scenic mountain ridges, prairie grass and now an Indian reservation, dramatically changing the nation’s landscape and spinning a debate about where they belong." (Associated Press)

"A Dispute Underscores the New Power of Gas" - "Global demand for natural gas, which is generally cleaner-burning than other fossil fuels, is soaring." (New York Times)

"Oil, Gas Pose Arctic Technology Challenges - Expert" - "OSLO - Increasing oil and gas exploration and shipping in the Arctic will pose huge technological challenges to safeguard the environment as global warming thins the polar ice, a leading expert said on Tuesday." (Reuters)

"What will power Florida?" - "If Florida Power & Light builds another power plant in Southwest Florida, there's a good chance it won't burn natural gas. The utility company and state regulators are backing away from the clean-burning fuel that juices up 37 percent of FPL's power plants, saying Florida might just be getting too dependent on a fuel that has become too expensive." (Sarasota Herald-Tribune)

It's just amazing what nutrition can do... "The first baby boom" - "In an important new study assessing the demographic impact of the shift from foraging to farming, anthropologists use evidence from 60 prehistoric American cemeteries to prove that the invention of agriculture led to a significant worldwide increase in birth rate." (University of Chicago Press Journals)

On the other hand... "This just in: Eat your vegetables" - "A reporter's personal genome project." (National Post)

"Why we must all give up organic in 2006" - "It's self-indulgent, wasteful and frankly immoral. But you know how it is. I was swept along with the trend, and it felt good at the time. But I don't want to be a hypocrite. So I'm giving up organic food in 2006. The incident that stiffened my resolve was a white rubber-banded wrist thrusting across me to grab organic apples. Here was someone who professed solidarity with the world's hungry. Yet they support a farming method that would starve over half the world. The world was farmed entirely organically as recently as 1900. Since then the global population has increased over 3.5 times. Unfortunately, the area cultivated for food has merely doubled. Even so, collectively we're better fed. In the past 50 years, the number who are starving has halved as the population has doubled. This almost miraculous turn of events is down to nitrogen fertilisers." (Joe Fattorini, The Herald) | How fertilisers changed the world - PDF

"GM maize 'could help fight against iron-deficiency'" - "Scientists have shown for the first time how genetically modified (GM) maize could be a cost-effective way of tackling iron deficiency in developing countries. Nearly two billion people, mostly women and children in poor countries, get too little dietary iron. This is the main cause of anaemia, which can stunt children's development and cause chronic fatigue in adults." (SciDev.Net)

"Philippines rejects GMO mandatory labeling" - "The chairman of the Philippino House agriculture and food committee has rejected a proposal to require labeling of genetically modified products, saying this would be unfair to producers. This was in reaction to a call by several local government units and various sectors for lawmakers to legislate mandatory labeling as a safety measure." (BusinessWorld)

"Lax Oversight Found in Tests of Gene-Altered Crops" - "The Department of Agriculture has failed to regulate field trials of genetically engineered crops adequately, raising the risk of unintended environmental consequences, according to a stinging report issued by the department's own auditor. The report, issued late last month by the department's Office of Inspector General, found that biotechnology regulators did not always notice violations of their own rules, did not inspect planting sites when they should have and did not assure that the genetically engineered crops were destroyed when the field trial was done." (New York Times)

January 2, 2006

EnviroSpin's New Year's 'Honours and Horrors' List for 2005

"Better And Better" - "The New Year: Despite natural disasters and the casualties of war, Americans say 2005 was better than 2004 — and a huge majority expect things to improve again in 2006. Truth is, things are better the world over." (IBD)

"High protein diet 'under attack'" - "The benefits of high-protein diets have again been questioned. The Total Wellbeing Diet, similar to the Atkins diet, advises eating around twice the daily amount of protein in a typical Western diet. But an editorial in the magazine Nature suggests the diet only helps a small number of people. However the scientists from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization who wrote the book, stand by their work." (BBC)

"Big Brother Is (Weight) Watching" - "Why would Americans want Uncle Sam to control what they eat?" (Opinion Journal)

"Focus: Kill or cure?" - "First we were told to keep out of the sun to avoid skin cancer. Now a study suggests the resulting vitamin D deficiency can give us other cancers. Is health advice doing us harm? Lois Rogers reports." (London Times)

"Way Past a Devastating Season, the 27th Tropical Storm Festers" - "Just in time to close out a record-setting year of ill winds, along comes Tropical Storm Zeta, in the Atlantic 1,000 miles southwest of the Azores. Meteorologists, issuing early warnings yesterday, predicted that the storm would maintain or slightly increase its strength today and then weaken as it moved west. The storm, they said, was not expected to reach land or hurricane intensity. "It's a minimal storm," said Todd Miner, a meteorologist at Pennsylvania State University. "It's way out in the middle of nowhere. Nonetheless, it is a storm, and storms are rare this late in the year." (New York Times)

"... and storms are rare this late in the year." How do we know? Satellite observation is a rather young technique so how do we know whether these events are rare or not? And something else our Caribbean correspondent raised, from the perspective of the Eastern Caribbean this was a particularly quiet year - "Puerto Rico and the Leeward and Winward Islands suffered just one single scare this year (Grenada) as only three hurricanes formed off the coast of Africa and none headed this way." As always, it's a matter of perspective.

"It was the usual blend of unusual weather in 2005" - "Vermont's wait-a-minute-and-it'll-change weather during 2005 probably was more a sign of the state's usual quirky climate than of global warming, weather watchers agree. The state endured a gloomy May; flash floods; one of the warmest summers on record; a windy, wet fall; and abrupt December temperature changes. When the weather turns strange, some people think of global warming since experts say a changing climate can create erratic weather. Vermont meteorologists said storm patterns, normal jet stream fluctuations, local effects and simple flukes contributed to most of the extremes of 2005. "The gyrations of weather locally are not to be interpreted as any particular sign of global warming," said Mark Breen, a meteorologist at the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium in St. Johnsbury." (Burlington Free Press)

What is the Uncertainty in the Climate Observations from Heterogeneous Data Sources? (Climate Science)

"Cod doomed - and it's the climate's fault" - "CLIMATE change, rather than overfishing, is the principal cause of falling cod stocks in the North Sea, and conservation measures imposed by the European Union will do nothing to reverse the decline, a new study has revealed." (London Times)

"Sweeping change reshapes Arctic" - "Ecological change is so scrambling Alaska's Arctic that the government has hired gunslingers to recapture some balance." (Craig Welch, Seattle Times)

The Week That Was Dec. 31, 2005 (SEPP)

"Climate Change: It's getting hot in here" - "Public awareness of climate change is rising. Will 2006 be the year when politicians finally decide to take the issue seriously?" (Mark Lynas, London Independent)

Why do reporters uncritically repeat rubbish? "Sea an enemy for vanishing islands" - "THE Carteret Islands are almost invisible on a map of the South Pacific, but the horseshoe scattering of atolls is on the front line of climate change, as rising sea levels and storm surges eat away at their existence. For 20 years, the 2000 islanders have fought a losing battle against the ocean, building sea walls and trying to plant mangroves. Each year the waves surge in, destroying vegetable gardens, washing away homes and poisoning freshwater supplies. The residents are destined to become some of the world's first climate change refugees. Their islands are becoming uninhabitable, and may disappear below the waves." (Adelaide Advertiser)

These islands were sinking long before AGW became a popular handwringer and the cause remains the same - tectonic subduction and volcanism. Sheesh!

"Love thy neighbor? Not" - "The news that Larry David's wife, Laurie, will appear on a CBS soap opera warning of the evils of global warming strikes some as funny. Jackie Mendez-Diaz, for one, could barely curb her amusement yesterday. ''Laurie's such a hypocrite," said Mendez-Diaz, who lives next door to the Davids on Martha's Vineyard. ''She doesn't know or care a thing about the environment." (Boston Globe)

"Study aids understanding of big ice fields, warming" - "Columbia Glacier, in Prince William Sound, has retreated nine miles over the past 20 years in a meltdown punctuated by ice quakes and submarine gushes of water triple the flow of the Mississippi River." (Anchorage Daily News)

"Carbon tax too costly, says NZ" - "NEW Zealand has abandoned plans to introduce a carbon tax after deciding it would not cut emissions enough to justify the cost of its introduction, a move that comes as Victoria negotiates with other states for an Australian emissions trading scheme. New Zealand's carbon tax was to be set at a relatively low level of $A14 per tonne of carbon emissions and was expected to add 6 per cent to electricity prices. That price compares with about €21 ($A34) per tonne at which carbon is trading in the European emissions market created by the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol a year ago. However, a carbon tax is more punitive than credits as it is paid by all emitters and cannot be traded away." (The Age)

Watch out! It's a kettle! "New kettles a threat to environment" - "THE LATEST danger to climate change has now been identified - the humble kitchen kettle. The fast-boil and illuminated models now on the market are likely to use more energy than the previous generation, according to research commissioned by the government." (The Scotsman)

"The Real 'Energy Crisis'" - "Big Oil is getting smaller--and that's bad for America." (Opinion Journal)

"Commentary: Time's Running Out; Get Back to Nuclear Power" - "Speculations about climate change, energy supply and price are growing more ominous every day.

The world supply of oil and gas is limited and the production rate, according to some analysts, may have reached its peak. China and India are prosperous emerging economies with rapidly rising competitive demands for oil. All this information surely is a signal that in coming years, gasoline, heating-oil and natural-gas prices are going to trend higher, not lower.

Our national energy policy on the use of natural gas -- more properly called "practice" since no policy exists, has been a disaster; the price of natural gas is at least 10 times what it was less than two decades ago.

Many homes will be cold this winter because of the high price of heating with oil or natural gas. The skyrocketing price of gas is a direct result of federal and state agencies encouraging burning natural gas to generate electricity, originally because it was cheap and because environmental standards are more easily met. The worst environmental calamity of all surely must be freezing in the dark in one's own home." (Santa Fe New Mexican)

"Europe warms up to nuclear power" - "It's seen as an option as global warming worries grow, fuel crunch looms." (The Dallas Morning News)

Oh boy... "Is that tissue environmentally responsible? New buying guide gives answer" - "With flu and cold season kicking in, environmentalists are rolling out a new wallet-sized card that they hope will guide consumers to buy environmentally responsible tissues to soothe their stuffy noses. Activists are targeting Kimberly-Clark Corp., whose Kleenex brand makes the firm the No. 1 seller of tissues in the nation. The new guide also covers paper towels, napkins and toilet paper." (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

"Wasteful London runs risk of food crisis" - "London and other big cities risk a food crisis because they are too dependent on imported produce grown using chemicals, Britain's leading organic farming pressure group will warn this week." (The Observer)

"Can Organic Agriculture Feed the World?" (The Post (Lusaka))

In a word, yes - the problem comes when we try to feed the people on the world, too - that 'organic' simply cannot do.