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Archives - January 2007

January 31, 2007

Marla Cone, still promoting the myth: "Waiting for the DDT tide to turn" - "Federal study shows that fish caught off L.A. County still contain the world's highest levels of the pesticide 35 years after it was banned." (Marla Cone, LA Times)

While we deplore the cavalier manner in which compounds were dumped in the past, even if within the law and then-current understanding, we are unimpressed with the myth-mongers and the bad press received by one of the world's greatest health aids. Quite simply, DDT does not deserve the bad press heaped on it by misanthropic activists and the ignorant. DDT exhibits negligible toxicity in humans, does not cause cancer or do any of the other nasty things attributed to it. It's persistent and therefore not suitable for broad acre farming use, period. See 100 things you should know about DDT by J. Gordon Edwards and Steven Milloy for some genuine information -- Marla Cone has been informed of the facts before but chooses to propagate myths and promote baseless fears for reasons unknown, how very sad.

"Anatomy of an epidemic" - "When you hear claims of an epidemic — of obesity, type 2 diabetes or whatever — have you ever stopped to critically question if they’re really true?" (Junkfood Science)

More mercury mania: "Keep fluorescents out of trash" - "Schools to recycle 48,000 lights in bid to keep toxic mercury from landfills." (Toronto Star)

"Jennifer Marohasy: Reef may benefit from global warming" - "ON Friday in Paris the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will launch a new report, Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis, with an up-to-date assessment of likely temperature rises because of global warming. Three related reports will be released later in the year, including a report on the likely effects of the rise in temperature. The report on impacts is likely to include a chapter on Australia and a warning that corals on the Great Barrier Reef could die as a consequence of global warming.

The idea that the Great Barrier Reef may be destroyed by global warming is not new, but it is a myth. The expected rise in sea level associated with global warming may benefit coral reefs and the Great Barrier Reef is likely to extend its range further south. Global threats to the coral reefs of the world include damaging fish practices and pollution, and the UN should work harder to address these issues." (The Australian)

We're saved! "Eiffel Tower to go dark ahead of report" - "PARIS - The Eiffel Tower's 20,000 flashing lights will go dark for five minutes Thursday evening, hours before scientists and officials unveil a long-awaited report on global warming. The darkening of the landmark in the City of Light comes at the urging of environmental activists and is timed to coincide with Friday's release of the major report warning that Earth will keep getting warmer and presenting new evidence of humanity's role in climate change." (Associated Press)

Among other things... "Clouds a Puzzle for UN Global Warming Panel" - "OSLO - Predicting how clouds will form in a warmer world remains a haze in a UN climate report due on Friday, affecting projected rises in temperatures and sea levels, scientists say." (Reuters)

... within the document are admissions we think we have a handle (scientific understanding) on carbon dioxide and methane, some idea on ozone and solar influence and little to none on water vapor, albedo, direct and indirect aerosol effects and contrail cirrus -- as in: we're still making guesses based on woefully inadequate understanding of the system. The fact we still have not advanced our understanding on a great proportion of apparently key elements in the climate puzzle should tell everyone that this doorstopper really doesn't tell us any more than previous versions. Worse, updated data from the Argo Project are not included, with very serious implications for the reports conclusions:

Reminder: The infamous "smoking gun," from bombshell to bomb...

In Earth's Energy Imbalance: Confirmation and Implications Hansen, et al, state: Our climate model, driven mainly by increasing human-made greenhouse gases and aerosols, among other forcings, calculates that Earth is now absorbing 0.85 ± 0.15 watts per square meter more energy from the Sun than it is emitting to space. This imbalance is confirmed by precise measurements of increasing ocean heat content over the past 10 years.

The associated media release is entitled "Earth’s Energy Out of Balance: The Smoking Gun for Global Warming"

When that paper was written the model output was a fair wiggle-fit with Willis (2004) and Levitus (2004).

So, Hansen's model is dumping heat into the oceans at roughly 0.8 Wm-2 and the bulk ocean heat rise mid-1993 - mid-2003 sort of matched that -- if only the world would remain constant and conform to the models we'd have this "global warming" thing sorted. Like all happy accidents, however, this good thing came to an end, too.

Lyman et al (2006), using updated data from the same source, show that the period 2003-2005 involves a sudden ocean cooling at a rate of -1.0 ± 0.3 Wm-2 over the period, which means Hansen's model is calculating wrongly in both magnitude and sign. No one expected this loss of one-fifth of the heat stored in the ocean since 1955 and no model predicted it. Its cause is unclear but we appear to be witnessing Earth dumping heat to space via the atmosphere.

Now Hansen's model has three years of data (to date) where it's incorrectly dumping heat into the oceans at a rate of >0.8 Wm-2 when it should have been removing it at -1.0 Wm-2, making net error of +1.8 Wm-2 over more than 70% of the planet -- call it excess global forcing of at least 1.25 Wm-2 for that period.

Lyman et al. go so far as to state: Including the recent downturn, the average warming rate for the entire 13-year period is 0.33 ± 0.23 W/m2 (of the Earth's total surface area). Think about that for a moment -- that's just 0.1 - 0.56 Wm-2.

This means Hansen's pretty little fairy lights in the conceptual image Hansen's "Time bomb" article are far too prolific with ΔF ≈ 4 - 20 times larger than it should be over the modeled period since the early 1990s. The implications of this on forward projections are, of course, enormous -- essentially rendering them GIGO (Garbage In -- Garbage Out).

"NASA probes the sources of the world's tiny pollutants" - "Pinpointing pollutant sources is an important part of the ongoing battle to improve air quality and to understand its impact on climate. Scientists using NASA data recently tracked the path and distribution of aerosols -- tiny particles suspended in the air -- to link their region of origin and source type with their tendencies to warm or cool the atmosphere." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center)

"Two New Books Confirm Global Warming is Natural, Moderate" - "Two powerful new books say today’s global warming is due not to human activity but primarily to a long, moderate solar-linked cycle. Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years, by physicist Fred Singer and economist Dennis Avery was released just before Christmas. The Chilling Stars: A New Theory of Climate Change, by Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark and former BBC science writer Nigel Calder (Icon Books), is due out in March." (CGFI)

"Hyped to hysteria" - "ANDREW Bolt writes: PERFECT timing. We couldn't have hoped for a more useful Australian of the Year right now than Tim Flannery. Who better, in this week of all weeks, to teach us about one of the greatest dangers of global warming? I'm referring, of course, to the danger of being hyped into hysteria by doom-mongerers on a crusade. And Flannery - the best-selling author, museum boss, bone expert and green activist - is exactly the man to demonstrate what I mean." (Andrew Bolt, Herald Sun)

"US Senators Face off on Greenhouse Gas Emissions" - "WASHINGTON - Dozens of US senators -- including leading 2008 presidential contenders from both major parties -- met Tuesday to swap proposals that could spur the country's first-ever mandatory caps on greenhouse gases." (Reuters)

"Has the White House interfered on global warming reports?" - "A new report claims that the Bush administration has suppressed scientists' climate-change work." (The Christian Science Monitor)

Well they sure have been crappy at it then because there's far too much hand wringing and fear mongering still at large.

"Waxman Seeks Climate Inquiry Evidence" - "WASHINGTON — The Democratic chairman of a House panel examining the government's response to climate change said Tuesday there is evidence that senior Bush administration officials sought repeatedly "to mislead the public by injecting doubt into the science of global warming." (Associated Press)

"Waxman Hearing Testimony - Oral Remarks" - "Here are my remarks as prepared for delivery at 10AM today at the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee. They might still change. They are pretty brief, as I only have 5 minutes. Here is the fully referenced written testimony [pdf], which goes into a lot more detail." (Prometheus)

"Instant Reaction – Waxman Hearing" - "There is much I could say about the hearing today. Apparently parts of it were on C-Span and will be replayed, and I think the streaming video is available for anyone who wants to subject themselves to four hours inside the sausage factory . . . ." (Prometheus)

Proof propaganda works: "Out of the blue: Why green became so cool"  -"More Canadians now care more about global warming than they do about health care. This phenomenon has become commonplace in our political scene. All the parties are trying to be greener-than-thou, other than the Green party, which doesn't need to pretend." (Toronto Star)

"Canada's Environment Watchdog Replaced" - "OTTAWA - Canada's environment commissioner was replaced on Tuesday amid reports that she had irritated her boss by making outspoken calls for action on climate change." (Reuters)

"Inconvenient Graphic" - "We’ve all become rather used to graphs looking like the one that I’ve drawn below (other than the horizontal blue line that I will explain later). This, together with the corresponding graph of CO2 levels, is almost certainly same as Gore’s graphic on page 66 of Inconvenient Truth. I’ll bet dollars-to-doughnuts that some variation of this will be featured in the AR4 Summary for Policy-Makers. The Hockey Stick became important because it was promoted not simply in TAR, but in the SPM, which was the only document available for several months. So here are some thoughts on this." (Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit)

"Sydney temperatures to soar" - "Average Sydney temperatures will soar by 4.8 degrees by 2070, according to a CSIRO report commissioned by the NSW government. In summer, maximum temperatures could rise by up to 7 degrees by 2070, according to newspaper reports. The CSIRO has predicted Sydney would resemble the dry, harsh conditions in the village of Paterson, 150 kilometres north-west of Sydney, in less than 25 years." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Australia: Climate target 'would cost $75bn'" - "AUSTRALIA'S best hope of making affordable but deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to reach global targets is by using clean coal, nuclear and gas technologies rather than renewable energy sources. A major report to be released today predicts a 30 per cent cut in emissions by 2030 - the amount necessary to meet scientists' calls for reductions to combat climate change - would cost $75 billion in new infrastructure and could double the cost of electricity generation." (The Australian)

"Trees Take on Greenhouse Gases at US Super Bowl" - "NEW YORK - It's red mangrove trees versus greenhouse gases at the Super Bowl in Miami on Sunday. The National Football League is hoping to tackle the game's heat-trapping gas emissions by planting 3,000 mangroves and other trees native to Florida, but the plan could be more of an incomplete pass than a touchdown when it comes to global warming, experts said. "It's probably a nice thing to do, but planting trees is not a quantitative solution to the real problem," said Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution at Stanford University." (Reuters)

"Storage of greenhouse gasses in Siberian peat moor" - "Wet peat moorlands form a sustainable storage place for the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide but are also a source of the much stronger greenhouse gas methane. According to Dutch researcher Wiebe Borren, peat moorlands will counteract the greenhouse effect under the present climatic conditions. If the climate becomes warmer, the greenhouse effect can temporarily be enhanced. Borren investigated the carbon exchange between West-Siberian peat moorlands and the atmosphere." (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research)

From CO2 Science this week:

Tree Responses to Global Warming: Must trees shift their ranges to cope with rising temperatures? ... or can they adapt-evolve to "take the heat" where they currently reside?

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week:
This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from the Song Hong (Red River) Delta, Vietnam. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary:
Health Effects (CO 2 - Plant Production of Health-Promoting Substances): How does atmospheric CO 2 enrichment impact the production of health-promoting substances in plants?

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: Rice, Sunflower, Wheat (Biomass), and Wheat (Photosynthesis).

Journal Reviews:
A Significant "Hole" in "Unprecedented" 20th-Century Global Warming: What was it? Where was it? And how big was it?

Effect of CO 2 -Induced Global Warming on Antarctic Surface Mass Balance a Hundred Years Hence: Will it lead to tremendous wastage of the continent's great stores of ice and a consequent dangerous increase in global sea level?

Mass Balance of the Antarctic Ice Sheet: What is its current status? ... and what's the outlook for the future?

Atmospheric CO 2 Enrichment and Mosquito-Born Diseases: How might the former affect the latter?

Deaths Induced by Seasonable Heat and Cold in France: Which thermal condition is the most deadly? (co2science.org)

"Air Travellers Seen Doubling by 2025 - Industry Body" - "GENEVA - The number of air travellers is expected to double by 2025, rising to more than 9 billion a year, a body representing the world's airports said on Tuesday." (Reuters)

"EU tackles oil companies in climate change fight" - "BRUSSELS - The European Commission will propose stricter environmental standards on fuel and require oil companies to reduce emissions from oil refining and transport as part of EU efforts to fight climate change, a proposal shows." (Reuters)

"Germany's Merkel says she will fight against general auto emission reduction" - "German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday that she would try to block any European Commission attempt to impose a general emission reduction on the auto sector and will oppose including the car industry in the CO2 trading program." (Pravda.ru)

"Coal advocates try to keep fuel on energy agenda" - "WASHINGTON -- Coal advocates argue that the nation's most plentiful fossil fuel should be part of any effort to lead the nation to energy independence. While wind, solar, ethanol and hydrogen are touted by renewable-fuel supporters as America's best hopes for energy independence, "the wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine," Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., said." (GNS)

"Once a Dream Fuel, Palm Oil May Be an Eco-Nightmare" - "Rising demand for fuel derived from plants has brought about the clearing of huge tracts of Southeast Asian rainforest for palm plantations." (New York Times)

"California mulls bill to ban sale of incandescent light bulbs" - "SACRAMENTO, Calif. - It may soon be lights out for the traditional light bulb in California.

Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, is proposing that the Golden State become the first to ban sales of incandescent light bulbs, by 2012. In their place, Californians could purchase more energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps. Those are the spiral-shaped bulbs that cost more upfront but save money and energy over the long haul.

Switching light bulbs is an idea that environmentalists have long supported. But getting consumers to embrace change has been slow going.

Banning energy-intensive incandescents "saves consumers money, saves the state money and saves energy," said Levine, who calls his measure the "How Many Legislators Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb Act." (MCT)

Ah, Moonbat... "Don't be fooled by Bush's defection: his cures are another form of denial" - "The president's avowed conversion on climate change is illusory. He is just drumming up new business for his chums." (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

... how's the book sales and general misanthropic fear-mongering going, George?

S'pose this is "global warming" too: "Dengue cases rise as cold weather sets in" - "THE cold weather and intermittent showers have created a surge in dengue cases in the Philippines, the Department of Health said Tuesday." (Manila Times)

"UK: Scrap Curbs on Solar Panels, MPs Urge" - "LONDON - The government should scrap barriers to home energy generation if the sector is to play its full part in the fight against global warming, a parliamentary report said on Tuesday. Planning restrictions on rooftop wind turbines and solar panels should be removed and incentives streamlined, and the electricity distribution firms must pay a proper market rate for any surplus produced by such microgeneration systems, it said." (Reuters)

"US Environment Scientists Urge Tougher Smog Rules" - "WASHINGTON - Scientists at the US Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday recommended tougher standards for ground-level ozone, the main component of smog, but no action will be taken until next year." (Reuters)

"Researchers probe health and safety impacts of nanotechnology" - "GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida engineering student Maria Palazuelos is working on nanotechnology, but she's not seeking a better sunscreen, tougher golf club or other product — the focus of many engineers in the field. Instead, Palazuelos, a doctoral student in chemical engineering, is probing the potentially harmful effects of nanotechnology by testing how ultra-small particles may adversely affect living cells, organisms and the environment. But this is no scene from a Michael Crichton's novel "Prey" about nanotechnology run amok. Rather, this is a real-world endeavor grounded in solid science." (University of Florida)

Dear AgBioView Friends, Please consider signing the petition: "Petition In Support of Indian Farmers' Right to Grow Biotech Crops and Scientific Field Testing". This is truly critical right now as the Supreme Court of India is hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) suit by activists on Wednesday, January 31 to stop all open field trials of GM crops in India. Please take a moment to read about this important issue, and join me in signing the petition. It takes just 30 seconds, but can truly make a difference. Please sign here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/390950497
C. S. Prakash

"Clone: It's What's for Dinner" - "SAN FRANCISCO -- California politics lately seems a parody of itself. Starting in February, San Francisco will become the first city in the country to require employers to give paid sick leave to their workers - full- and part-time, permanent and temporary. They will be able to miss work even when they aren't sick, but wish to stay home (ostensibly) to help a domestic partner or a family member. Then there is legislation soon to be introduced into the State Assembly that would criminalize the spanking (or slapping or whacking) of children under four. The coup de grâce, however, is a Senate bill that would require the labeling of meat and milk obtained from cloned animals if such products are approved for human consumption." (Dr. Henry I. Miller, TCS Daily)

January 30, 2007

"Uganda: DDT Has Immense Economic Benefits" - "THE World Health Organisation, the European Union, and our very own NEMA have shone a green light, and recommended the use of DDT for indoor residual spraying as a safe, and effective method to the prevention and control malaria. However, the debate on its safety, still rages on regarding its effects on human health, agriculture and livestock.

So far, the debate has mainly focused the negative side of DDT, bringing out its health hazards and environmental dangers. The positive side seems to have been deliberately side-lined, especially, the economic benefits from the control of ill-health resulting from malaria." (New Vision)

"The dark side of green" - "DDT saves lives, trees cause pollution and environmentalists are partly to blame for the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Those are just a few of the surprising conclusions reached by award-winning reporter John Berlau in his new book, "Eco-Freaks: Environmentalism Is Hazardous to Your Health." (Robert Stacy McCain, Washington Times)

Uh-huh... "Model green city centre flats face demolition" - "A block of cheap and green city centre flats at the heart of the government's housing drive is to be demolished because of bungled building techniques." (The Guardian)

"Plato's Republic or Milton Friedman's Market?" - "Milton Friedman got it right, and Plato got it wrong. A new survey looks at policies designed to address all of the ills that economists and others have identified with markets -- monopoly power, imperfect information, externalities, and so on. It finds that government tends to make things worse, not better." (Arnold Kling, TCS Daily)

"The Other American Revolution -- Food" - "If Rip Van Winkle fell asleep after a restaurant dinner in 1950 and awoke in time for that meal in 2007, the poor man wouldn't have a clue as to how to order. Mesclun? Radicchio? California roll? Yes, things have changed enormously in the world of American food over the last fifty or so years -- we've gone from tuna casserole, ketchup, and Jell-o mold to lobster parfait, salsa, and white chocolate mousse." (Ruth Kava, ACSH)

"McDonald's Selects Trans-Fat-Free Oil" - "CHICAGO - McDonald's Corp. has finally selected a new trans-fat-free oil for cooking its famous french fries after years of testing, the fast-food chain said Monday." (Associated Press)

"Can Humanity Survive? Want to Bet on It?" - "Sixty ago years, a group of physicists concerned about nuclear weapons created the Doomsday Clock and set its hands at seven minutes to midnight. Now, the clock’s keepers, alarmed by new dangers like climate change, have moved the hands up to 11:55 p.m. My first reaction was a sigh of relief. After all, the 1947 doomsday prediction marked the start of a golden age. Never have so many humans lived so long — and maybe never so peacefully — as during the past 60 years. The per-capita rate of violence, particularly in the West, seems remarkably low by historical standards. If the clock’s keepers are worried once again, their track record suggests we’re in for even happier days." (John Tierney, New York Times)

Media Advisory: "Independent Summary of UN Climate Change Report to Be Released in London on Monday, February 5" - "VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--An independent summary of the latest United Nations report on climate change will be released Monday, February 5 in London, England by The Fraser Institute, a well-known Canadian think tank.

The Independent Summary for Policymakers (ISPM) is a detailed and balanced overview of the 2007 UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that will be released February 2 in Paris.

During past releases of the IPCC report, public attention focused on the accompanying IPCC Summary for Policymakers. This is a brief document produced through negotiation by government bureaucrats. It is neither written by nor reviewed by the scientific community and has been criticized for its promotional tone and failure to adequately communicate the complexity and uncertainty of the underlying science around climate change.

By contrast, the Fraser Institute's Independent Summary for Policymakers is prepared by qualified experts in fields related to climate science and has been reviewed by more than 50 scientists around the world. It clearly lays out the real state of current climate change knowledge as expressed in the IPCC report and provides specific citations to the chapters and sections of the IPCC report so readers can easily find what scientists have to say on the wide range of issues.

Please join noted climate researcher Dr. Ross McKitrick as well as Andrei Illarionov, former advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin, David Henderson, former head of Economics and Statistics at the OECD, David Bellamy, noted environmentalist, and several of the 10 co-authors for the global launch and presentation of the Fraser Institute's Independent Summary for Policymakers.

Date: Monday, February 5, 2007
Time: 10 a.m.
Location: The Atrium Restaurant (across from the Houses of Parliament)
Four Millbank
London, England" (CCNMatthews - Jan. 29, 2007)

"World Scientists Near Consensus on Warming" - "PARIS, Jan. 29 — Scientists from across the world gathered Monday to hammer out the final details of an authoritative report on climate change that is expected to project centuries of rising temperatures and sea levels unless there are curbs in emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that trap heat in the atmosphere." (New York Times)

"All Eyes On Scientists As Climate Summit Opens" - "With a mountain of data in front of them and demands for action coming from behind, the world's top climate experts launched a massive review here Monday of the evidence for global warming. On Friday, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will release its first assessment since 2001, in a document likely to have far-reaching political and economic repercussions." (AFP)

Lucky blighters... "13 Pct of Americans not Heard of Global Warming - Report" - "OSLO - Thirteen percent of Americans have never heard of global warming even though their country is the world's top source of greenhouse gases, a 46-country survey showed on Monday." (Reuters)

... and the other 87% should never have heard of it.

From some of the e-mails we have been receiving it's time to remind people about graphing and scale distortion:

Firstly, if you haven't already, or it's been some time since you saw our "A word on scale" explanation at the end of the global mean temperature datasets page, go there now (large page warning) and remind yourselves just how much visual impact comes from tinkering with scales (some call it chartsmanship, we call it deceptive and sometimes outright fraud).

absHadCRUT3an.png (29279 bytes) Now, just to remind ourselves what estimated changes since the latter 19th Century look like when scaled from a planetary perspective. This is the same data as presented in glossy IPCC reports and summaries for policy makers. Why does it look so boring?

The temperature plot is the HadCRUT3 anomaly series, which is the variation from the estimated 1961-1990 mean of 14 °C (287.15 K) and to which we have added back the mean to derive the absolute temperature in K.

The atmospheric carbon dioxide plot is the same Mauna Loa series that we showed you before, coupled with reconstructed data to extend back to 1850.

The only difference here is that we plotted ranges that better suit planetary history than human short-termism. In terms of Earth's history, contemporary atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are low -- almost disastrously so. And the temperature plot? That's simply on a range to suit the planet's history, making current estimates appear pretty ordinary.

Do we suppose the planet has warmed over the last century or two? Almost certainly but equally certainly not very much from a planetary perspective and, when viewed on a more appropriate scale, nowhere near "dangerously." This is why we consider the IPCC estimate of 0.6 ± 0.2 °C warming over the Twentieth Century "trivial" -- a change in planetary mean temperature of 0.2% is neither here nor there. "Since 1870/1880" numbers are virtually identical to 20th Century change because, by happy accident as the temperature oscillated, estimates of global mean temperature for 1870, 1880 and 1900 are virtually identical. It would be equally correct to say "since the end of the Little Ice Age" but mention of unfortunately cool periods as commencement of record is not seen as politically correct.

"Hedging Climate Bets" - "The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will release its Fourth Assessment Report Summary for Policymakers on February 2. While the report is embargoed, those involved say it will "increase the sense of urgency" that "time is running out," according to Greenwire. As we put up the storm shutters for the forthcoming gale-force oratorical winds, it is interesting to suggest another way of looking at the issue, by borrowing some concepts from the world of finance. Anyone who deals with financial operators such as hedge funds quickly learns the concept "mis-priced assets," and slides into a habit of examining the world within its framework. It is indeed a useful way to think." (James V. DeLong, TCS Daily)

Total nonsense: "Indonesia May Lose 2,000 Islands to Climate Change" - "JAKARTA - Indonesia could lose about 2,000 islands by 2030 due to climate change, the country's environment minister said on Monday. Rachmat Witoelar said studies by UN experts showed that sea levels were expected to rise about 89 centimetres in 2030 which meant that about 2,000 mostly uninhabited small islets would be submerged." (Reuters)

Three feet in twenty three years? Not even the most imaginative/incompetent modelers have come up with such absurd numbers. He might be confusing 89 millimeters by 2100, which would put it in the 4-8 inches per century range observed since the we began to emerge from the last great glaciation.

Compare: "On the decadal rates of sea level change during the twentieth century" - "Abstract: Nine long and nearly continuous sea level records were chosen from around the world to explore rates of change in sea level for 1904–2003. These records were found to capture the variability found in a larger number of stations over the last half century studied previously. Extending the sea level record back over the entire century suggests that the high variability in the rates of sea level change observed over the past 20 years were not particularly unusual. The rate of sea level change was found to be larger in the early part of last century (2.03 ± 0.35 mm/yr 1904–1953), in comparison with the latter part (1.45 ± 0.34 mm/yr 1954–2003). The highest decadal rate of rise occurred in the decade centred on 1980 (5.31 mm/yr) with the lowest rate of rise occurring in the decade centred on 1964 (−1.49 mm/yr). Over the entire century the mean rate of change was 1.74 ± 0.16 mm/yr." (AGU)

See also CO2 Science's write-up here: Twentieth-Century Global Sea Level Rise.

Flying thick and fast now: "Barrier Reef extinct in 20 years: report" - "THE Great Barrier Reef will become functionally extinct in less than 20 years if global warming continues at its current pace, a draft international report warns." (AAP)

"Millions to go hungry, waterless: climate report" - "CANBERRA - Rising temperatures will leave millions more people hungry by 2080 and cause critical water shortages in China and Australia, as well as parts of Europe and the United States, according to a new global climate report. By the end of the century, climate change will bring water scarcity to between 1.1 and 3.2 billion people as temperatures rise by 2 to 3 Celsius (3.6 to 4.8 Fahrenheit), a leaked draft of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report said. The report, due for release in April but detailed in The Age newspaper, said an additional 200 million to 600 million people across the world would face food shortages in another 70 years, while coastal flooding would hit another 7 million homes." (Reuters)

"Melting Glaciers Show Climate Change Speeding Up" - "New data released Monday shows that the melting of mountain glaciers worldwide is accelerating, a clear sign that climate change is also picking up, the UN environmental agency and scientists said. Thirty reference glaciers monitored by the Swiss-based World Glacier Monitoring Service lost about 66 centimetres (two feet) in thickness on average in 2005, the UN Environment Programme said in a statement." (AFP)

Charlie and Albert, now there's a horror story.... "US must win the war on climate change, says Charles" - "The world is looking to America for leadership in the fight against climate change, Prince Charles said today, as he accepted an award for his work for the environment. The prince, who angered green groups by flying to the US to collect the award, told an audience including ex-Beatle John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono, that it was up to governments to help and encourage companies to reduce their emissions." (Press Association)

"Indonesia to Invite Finance Ministers to UN Environment Talks" - "OSLO - Indonesia plans to invite 5-10 finance ministers to UN environment ministers' talks in December to discuss ways to widen the fight against global warming, a UN official said on Monday." (Reuters)

The Week That Was January 27, 2007 (SEPP)

Human Impacts on Weather and Climate Available at Discount to Blog Readers! (Climate Science)

"Airborne dust causes ripple effect on climate far away" - "When a small pebble drops into a serene pool of water, it causes a ripple in the water in every direction, even disturbing distant still waters. NASA researchers have found a similar process at work in the atmosphere: tiny particles in the air called aerosols can cause a rippling effect on the climate thousands of miles away from their source region." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center)

Harrumph! "On global warming, what US can learn from Europe" - "Four Senate bills offer market-based ways to reduce emissions of greenhouse emissions." (The Christian Science Monitor)

What the US should learn is that the EU is just plain full of it. Not content with running around doing the Chicken Little impersonation they are still busily making "promises" we all knew they couldn't and indeed haven't met. The only saving grace is that the underlying "need" doesn't exist so their failure doesn't matter.

"Global warming needs a free and open debate" - "How much should we be prepared to pay to stop global warming? Last week I gave my interpretation of the state of scientific knowledge about man-made global warming: it may be hooey, and even if it isn't, it could get overtaken by some other major offsetting development - or it may be a hugely serious prospect, affecting all our lives. Unfortunately, we cannot be sure. Yet the fact that the science is not yet settled does not necessarily mean that we should do nothing. So what should we do?" (Roger Bootle, London Telegraph)

Utilities have much more business savvy than CalPERS & CalSTRS? Imagine that... "Few power companies confronting greenhouse gases" - "Despite the looming threat on the financial bottom line, few electric power companies around the world are confronting the burning issue of greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, only six of 25 major generators have taken significant steps that ultimately would create long-term wealth for their shareholders, according to a report released Monday by the influential California Public Employees' Retirement System and the California State Teachers' Retirement System. The study attempts, for the first time, to craft an economic report card on electric utilities worldwide based on efforts to rein in carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming." (Sacramento Bee)

Given that the only real business risk from global warming hyperbole comes from hysterics like CalPERS and CalSTRS this is quite commendable.

"Companies must adapt or die in a changing climate" - "While a minority of sceptics continue to question the science of global warming and climate change, an increasing number of companies are putting that debate behind them, or at least to one side, and moving on. In a number of cases, they are moving ahead of governments." (John Llewellyn, Financial Times)

What companies must do is weather the storm of desperate anti-corporate activity under the "global warming" banner. It is inevitable that the stupid scare collapses and surviving enterprises will be those that don't allow themselves to be stampeded.

"Earth First Radicals Bully CEOs" - "Oh, brother. Am I glad I don't have money invested in any corporations run by cowardly CEOs. Okay, I don't have any money invested anywhere, but if I did, I'd be worried. Ditto anyone whose pension is managed by those spineless, politically correct lemmings. It's one thing for a company to be concerned about how it impacts the environment, but now environmental militants are extorting businesses into basing their investments on public relations. Advocates hyping the global warming scenario are persuading — or intimidating — once wise business leaders into tailoring company investments to meet those advocates' standards, rather than providing the best revenues for their stockholders." (Alicia Colon, New York Sun)

"UN chief seeks climate change summit" - "Plans for an emergency summit of world leaders to break the international impasse on cutting greenhouse gases are being discussed by Ban Ki-moon, United Nations secretary-general." (Financial Times)

"German EU presidency struggles with climate change" - "The German car industry has warned that there will be massive job cuts if Brussels sets binding targets on greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, the German EU presidency is strongly divided over the issue itself." (EUobserver)

"EU Rebuffs German Car Industry on Emissions" - "BRUSSELS - The European Commission rejected on Monday a warning from Germany's powerful automobile industry that imposing binding curbs on car exhaust emissions could destroy jobs in Europe." (Reuters)

"Porsche warns of emissions war" - "Porsche's chief executive on Friday warned of an impending business war between Germany on one side and France and Italy when he said plans by the European Commission to limit carbon dioxide emissions were an attack on German luxury carmakers. The outspoken comments by Wendelin Wiedeking at the sports carmaker's annual meeting underline the nervousness of German carmakers, all of which are a long way above the proposed limits and are much more threatened than the likes of France's Renault and Peugeot and Italy's Fiat. "It is an attack on BMW, Mercedes, Audi and ourselves ... This is a business war in Europe. We will fight," Mr Wiedeking told shareholders." (Financial Times)

"EU Could Cut CO2 with More Net, Telecom Use - Report" - "BRUSSELS - The European Union could cut carbon dioxide emissions by 50 million tonnes annually in the coming years if people used video conferencing and the Internet for businesses, a report said on Monday." (Reuters)

"Green moolah" - "A big market in Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is opening up; it is worth about $50-60 billion. China is the major beneficiary now. The question is whether India can cash in on this emerging market." (Times of India)

Obviously vastly overcompensated for their, uh... talents: "Hollywood and pop to help raise value of carbon trading" - "Hollywood actors such as Orlando Bloom and bands such as Coldplay and Scissor Sisters are helping to front an audacious plan to step up the fight against global warming by kick-starting the market for carbon trading. The scheme aims to buy and retire "carbon credits" to push up the price of CO2. Reducing supply by refusing to re-sell carbon credits should increase the price and financially penalise companies which fail to meet their targets." (The Guardian)

"MIT: Nanoengineered concrete could cut CO2 emissions" - "CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--While government leaders argue about the practicality of reducing world emissions of carbon dioxide, scientists and engineers are seeking ways to make it happen. One group of engineers at MIT decided to focus its work on the nanostructure of concrete, the world's most widely used material. The production of cement, the primary component of concrete, accounts for 5 to 10 percent of the world's total carbon dioxide emissions; the process is an important contributor to global warming." (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

"FEATURE - Mexico City's Infamous Smog Clears, a Little" - "MEXICO CITY - Heavy trucks belch black smoke and lines of buses battle through a virtually gridlocked sea of cars inching beneath a haze of exhaust fumes. Welcome to Mexico City in 2007. With car ownership more than doubling over the last decade, the megalopolis once dubbed the world's most polluted city should by now be almost uninhabitable, its residents gasping through oxygen masks. The air doesn't exactly smell sweet. But look up beyond the tops of office buildings these days and the sky is blue." (Reuters)

"Human preference for other species could determine whether they survive" - "As humans exert ever-greater influence on the Earth, their preferences will play a substantial role in determining which other species survive. New research shows that, in some cases, those preferences could be governed by factors as subtle as small color highlights a creature displays." (University of Washington)

"Genes behind animal growth discovered" - "How many genes influence a complex trait, like weight, height or body type? And why does the answer matter? Among other reasons, because the "Green Revolution" that multiplied crop yields has to be followed by a "Blue Revolution" in ocean farming, according to marine biologists at the University of Southern California." (University of Southern California)

"Africa's farmers will have room to grow" - "NAIROBI, Kenya, 29 Jan 2007 -- A vital research program that has already had significant impact on the lives of African farmers will accelerate its work for their benefit, thanks to new funding from one of the world’s most important philanthropic organizations, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The research also marks the forging of a strong, new partnership between the developing world’s premier research organizations dedicated to improving the livelihoods of farm families who rely on maize—the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)." (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT))

Sigh... "Foreign organisations interfering with farming technologies" - "Efforts by western multibillion organisations to introduce new agricultural technologies in Africa are putting the continent under threat.

Seventy Non-Governmental Organisation (NGOs) from 12 African countries said at the just concluded World Social Forum in Nairobi the Bill and Melinda Gates and Rockefeller Foundation partnerships were trying to shift African agriculture to a system dependent on expensive, harmful chemicals, hybrid seeds, and ultimately genetically modified organisms (GMOs)." (East African Standard)

"Brazilian Fashion Houses Eye Eco-Friendly Fabrics" - "SAO PAULO - For young Brazilians worrying about the latest fashions, the dangers of polluting rivers and oceans with billions of plastic bottles and tons of pesticides may seem a distant concern." (Reuters)

If they are really concerned then they should promote stacked trait biotech agriculture and really reduce pesticide applications, no?

"South Africa: African Leaders Urged to Support Biotech" - "The co-ordinator of the West and Central Africa Programme for Bio-safety Systems (PBS) has urged African leaders to support the development of modern biotechnology, including genetically modified (GM) crops." (BuaNews)

January 29, 2007

"Immunization rates hit record high in poor countries" - "DAVOS, SWITZERLAND -- New data from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that the GAVI Alliance, a groundbreaking global initiative to increase access to children’s vaccines, has brought immunisation rates to record highs in poor countries." (GAVI Alliance)

"Starbucks stirred by fair trade film" - "Representative of Ethiopian farmers to meet Blair as exposé of industry released." (The Guardian)

Are people really that naïve? Retailers aren't making $160.00 profit on a $1.10 pound of coffee any more than a few tons of dirt equates to finely crafted gold jewelry (eventually the gold content of said dirt might indeed be sold at a high price as jewelry but the two are not equivalent). Think, for a moment, of inner city retail space rent costs, 1st World labor costs, equipment leasing/purchase and replacement costs... Raw coffee beans are really a trivial input and "fair trade" is simply another market distorting subsidy ultimately stealing market share and finance from other growers. Bad idea all 'round.

"Study hints at tumour link to mobiles" - "Long-term use of mobile phones could be linked to brain tumours, a new study by scientists suggests. People who have used a mobile for 10 years or more seem to have a 39% higher risk of developing a type of tumour called a glioma on the side of their head where they hold their phone. But scientists have urged caution in interpreting the results as a warning against using mobile phones. They argue that the results are of "borderline statistical significance" and that much of the supporting evidence does not show an overall link between phones and brain cancers." (The Guardian)

"Evidence From Bite Marks, It Turns Out, Is Not So Elementary" - "As the forensic sciences have evolved to include DNA testing, bite-mark analyses have been consistently refuted, so why does the method remain part of the law enforcement arsenal?" (New York Times)

"A cautionary tale of poor science, politics and money gone astray" - "The media reports were all in favor of the program, public officials funded it with massive amounts of taxpayer dollars, legislators were honored for bringing it to the public, credentialed experts endorsed it, and there even seemed to be lots of science-sounding studies to back it up. It all seemed so good and intuitively right.

The only problem was, it defied plausible, rational explanations in proven science. It didn’t have any credible evidence that it was effective. There was, however, evidence for potential harm by following it." (Junkfood Science)

"Dare we believe what a study says if it was industry-funded?" - "Examples are being volleyed from all sides of this debate. We can find some of the best, most meticulous, carefully-conducted research with responsible conclusions and interpretations of the results that has been funded by industry. Really! We can find equally good studies or perfectly dreadful ones that don’t appear to have corporate interests. We also can find the best analyses that alert us to unsound studies coming from those outside the fray altogether. By making blanket assumptions because of the source, we can shoot ourselves in the foot and never learn what the best science shows. What’s most needed is critical thinking..." (Junkfood Science)

"Major link in brain-obesity puzzle found" - "ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A single protein in brain cells may act as a linchpin in the body’s weight-regulating system, playing a key role in the flurry of signals that govern fat storage, sugar use, energy balance and weight, University of Michigan Medical School researchers report. And although it’s far too early to say how this protein could be useful in new strategies to fight the world’s epidemic of obesity, the finding gives scientists an important system to target in future research and the development of anti-obesity medications." (University of Michigan Health System)

"Unhappy Meals" - "The story of how basic questions about what to eat got so complicated reveals a great deal about the institutional imperatives of the food industry, nutritional science and journalism." (New York Times)

"Diet, exercise take off equal pounds, study finds" - "WASHINGTON - Eating less and exercising more are equally good at helping take off the pounds, U.S. researchers said on Friday in a study that challenges many of the popular tenets of the multibillion dollar diet and fitness industry." (Reuters)

"A diet of misinformation" - "John Luik, co-author of Diet Nation, tells Rob Lyons that the obesity panic is being fattened by savvy interest groups and junk science." (sp!ked)

"'Normal-weight obese' syndrome may up heart risks" - "NEW YORK - People who are normal-weight but carry a good deal of body fat may be at increased risk of heart disease and stroke, a small study suggests. Most people have by now heard of body mass index (BMI), a measure used to classify people as normal-weight, overweight or obese based on their weight and height. However, there are people who are technically normal-weight based on their BMI yet have a substantial amount of excess fat, and some researchers say this is its own type of "syndrome." (Reuters Health)

"Some bones to pick" - "A post by Ariel Feldman at the Splendora Style blog — a website based in San Francisco with notes about salons, spas, boutiques, restaurants, vacations spots, and things hot in chic — asks why more aren’t concerned with today’s obsession with thinness and how much girls are exposed to its pressures. It’s a rant from a female perspective that offers some food for thought." (Junkfood Science)

"Being a fat child a criminal offense" - "This is an example of the incomprehensible harm that results when myths — in this case about childhood obesity and its causes and dangers — are allowed to perpetuate; and when the myths of the effectiveness and safety of weight loss measures are allowed to persist." (Junkfood Science)

“But Mommy, they made me do it!” - "When we hear an idea that disagrees with something we’ve come to believe, our first instinct is to dismiss it and the science supporting it. To let ourselves critically question and think about something that goes against everything we’ve come to feel comfortable believing, is hard and unnerving." (Junkfood Science)

"Home bakers rise up" - "Crisco has just announced its shortening is going to a new formula with zero grams of transfats per serving. The new formula “uses less partially hydrogenated cottonseed and soybean oils and more fully hydrogenated cottonseed oil — which contains no transfat.” (Junkfood Science)

"Hidden truths about hidden fats — a special note for women on the latest scare" - "This past week, women were threatened that eating fats hidden in processed foods — even as little as a single donut or serving of chips — could harm their chances of having a baby. The study behind this news story showed nothing to support such a claim. But it appears already well on its way to becoming conventional wisdom." (Junkfood Science)

"Program cited by the FTC for fraud is now government funded" - "Three weeks ago, we read of the Federal Trade Commission’s crackdown on fraudulent weight loss products, fining them $25 million. The FTC has filed more than 80 cases in the past ten years against such deceptive weight loss advertising — as many actions as in the prior seven decades combined. How effective have they been?" (Junkfood Science)

"Growing up near motorways harms lungs" - "The results show no relationship with air quality generally, but a clear link with living close to a freeway. Compared with those who lived more than 1,500m away, those who lived within 500m achieved only 97 per cent of their predicted lung volume, and only 93.4 per cent of their maximum air flow when breathing out." (London Times)

But since it shows no obvious relationship with air quality then we return to the old point of those who can afford the higher housing costs of living further from traffic corridors also having generally better health -- wealth and lifestyle indicators rather than air quality measures...

Information in practice: Communicating the risk reduction achieved by cholesterol reducing drugs (BMJ) -- we are reminded by a reader of this excellent piece on risk communication, something generally misunderstood by the public and done very poorly by professionals.

Horse spit! "UN's vast report will end the scientific argument. Now will the world act?" - "Three year study by panel of experts published this week will kick off tortuous negotiations on new emissions treaty to replace Kyoto agreement in 2012." (The Guardian)

IPCC AR4 (The Reference Frame)

"Politics first, science second" - "If you've been lifting intellectual weights and taking extra runs around the science track to build mental stamina for next Friday's release of the much-hyped 1,600-page science report on climate change, you can now take it easy. There will be no report. You will not need to know about or read any science, because there will be no science. Instead, we are going to get a few ginned-up pages of generalized political scaremongering.

The advance billing for the report has been immense and spectacular. It's the Fourth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, five years in the making and jam-packed with scientific, technical, social and economic research into climate change.

According to the usual sources, this latest official United Nations' science project, billions of dollars in the making, is the "smoking gun" that leaves no doubt that humans are the cause of a major wave of climate warming that is set to engulf the world over the next 100 years.

"The smoking gun is definitely lying on the table as we speak," said Jerry Mahlman, a U.S. government scientist and long-time proponent of climate change theory. "The evidence ... is compelling."

The University of Victoria's Andrew Weaver, official Canadian government climate modeller --and the CBC's go-to scientist for suggestive but unproven links between bad weather and climate change --blew himself right out the galaxy over the Fourth Assessment Report. "This isn't a smoking gun; climate is a battalion of intergalactic smoking missiles."

Somebody else said the report to be released in Paris on Friday contained an "explosion of new data."

All of this, however, is just the usual stage-managed showmanship that surrounds all climate science. First of all, what we are going to get on Friday is not the smoking gun, but the smoke without the gun, an explosion of data without the data, an intergalactic blast that never gets off the ground, the proof without the evidence." (Terence Corcoran, Financial Post) | .pdf archive copy

Um, no... "Political heat" - "Friction between Democratic lawmakers one more impediment to program to combat climate change." (Houston Chronicle)

... the biggest impediment to any program to "combat climate change" is that there is absolutely no sensible action that can be taken to do that. No matter what knobs we twist or levers we might pull, there is no possibility of knowingly and predictably adjusting the planet's climate given our current knowledge and only a small possibility that we might have it figured out in a century or two.

"Last warning: 10 years to save world" - "THE world has just 10 years to reverse surging greenhouse gas emissions or risk runaway climate change that could make many parts of the planet uninhabitable. The stark warning comes from scientists who are working on the final draft of a new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)." (Sunday Times)

"Comments On The Relative Roles of Global Average And Regional Climate Forcings" - "Eli Rabett has presented two well posted comments on the relative roles of global average and regional climate forcings, which I am also presenting as a weblog since his contribution helps focus a very important climate change issue:" (Climate Science)

The world's not warming? No worries -- lower the past: "HadCru Temperature" - "IPCC AR4 is going to report that the difference between present temperature and late 19th temperatures is about 0.8 deg C, as opposed to the 0.6 deg C in TAR. This difference seemed a little higher to me than temperature changes from 2000 to 2005 (the last reported years in the respective reports) and I thought that I’d try to figure out why." (Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit)

Effect of Deliberate Landscape Management (Climate Science)

"Why Global Warming is Probably a Crock" - "As a scientist I've learned never to say "never." So human-caused global warming is always a hypothesis to hold, at least until climate science becomes mature. (Climate science is very immature right now: Physicists just don't know how to deal with hypercomplex systems like the earth weather. That's why a recent NASA scientist was wildly wrong when he called anthropogenic warming "just basic physics." Basic physics is what you do in the laboratory. If hypercomplex systems were predictable, NASA would have foolproof space shuttles --- because they are a lot simpler than the climate. So this is just pseudoscientific twaddle from NASA's vaunted Politically Correct Division. It makes me despair when even scientists conveniently forget that little word "hypothesis.")" (James Lewis, American Thinker)

"Hard Facts about Tobacco" - "The time of year has arrived for you begin to assess how much progress you are making in your New Year’s Resolutions. Been spending time at the gym? Losing weight? Quit smoking? Believe it or not, it is possible that the increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) just might be helping you achieve the latter. Read more to see how (as to the two former, you’re on your own)." (WCR)

Rightly... "Not Much Market for Worry Beads in the Executive Suites" - "To chief executives, the threat of global warming seems very real in Asia, but not in the United States or Russia. A survey of chief executives around the world, released at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week, found widespread optimism about profits and nearly universal complaints about excessive regulation of business." (New York Times)

... the much-hyped "climate emergency" variety of climate change simply does not exist.

Oh, that consensus: "Experts split over climate danger to Antarctica" - "Serious disagreement has broken out among scientists over a United Nations climate report's contention that the world's greatest wilderness - Antarctica - will be largely unaffected by rising world temperatures." (The Observer)

But wait, it's even worse! "Melting ice means global warming report all wet, say some experts who warn it'll be even worse" - "WASHINGTON: Later this week in Paris, climate scientists will issue a dire forecast for the planet that warns of slowly rising sea levels and higher temperatures. But that may be the sugarcoated version." (Associated Press)

And the translation: Battle of Antarctica (The Reference Frame)

"Business as usual" - "Trade liberalisation will mean that more trade happens, which means more goods being trekked round the world, stamping a heavy carbon footprint." (The Guardian)

"Davos: an upset for the eggheads" - "OUR correspondent at the World Economic Forum writes: DAVOS is all about blithe generalisations, even down to its motto: “committed to improving the state of the world”. As if there were a rival meeting committed to worsening the state of the world. But sometimes generalisations are useful, especially when you are dealing with something as enormous as that Davos perennial, globalisation. This year there is a weird imbalance here between thinkers and doers." (Economist.com)

"Global Warming: The vicious circle" - "The effects of man-made emissions of carbon dioxide are being felt on every inhabited continent with very different parts of the climate now visibly responding to human activity." (London Independent)

"Steve Connor: Global warming is not some conspiratorial hoax" - "The three reports that make up the fourth assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will be published in full this year and the process begins this Friday in Paris with the publication of the first, which concentrates on the science of climate change. The importance of this and the remaining two reports should not be underestimated." (London Independent)

"Climate change a 'questionable truth'" - "An Inconvenient Truth, the hugely influential documentary starring Al Gore, is a shoo-in for an Oscar. Its riveting depictions of violent storms, collapsing ice mountains and parched deserts have scared millions of people into believing that the world faces a catastrophic fate unless we make dramatic changes to our way of life, starting now. Climate change has made its way onto the agenda of every developed nation, even the United States, where some of the nation's biggest businesses, including energy companies, are pressing the government to take action. It even figured in George W. Bush's State of the Union speech this week. And next week the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will unleash another storm of headlines when it releases its latest consensus of scientific findings, stressing even more emphatically that human activity is causing global temperatures to rise. Is the sky really falling? How fast and how hard? And if the vast majority of scientists agree, then why don't governments act? After all, nobody wants the world to melt." (Margaret Wente, Globe and Mail)

"Global warming: Views are worlds apart on the science" - "WASHINGTON -- Sen. Barbara Boxer will open the great debate over how to combat global warming when the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee begins hearings Tuesday." (Sacramento Bee)

"Weather Channel TV Host Goes 'Political'- Stars in Global Warming Film Accusing U.S. Government of ‘Criminal Neglect’" - "The Weather Channel’s top climate expert -- already under fire for advocating the scientific decertification of global warming skeptics -- is one of the stars of a new politically charged global warming documentary that, according to the film's website, accuses the U.S. government of “criminal neglect” and blames “right-wing think tanks” for helping to “defeat climate-friendly legislation.” (EPW)

"Blair raises hopes of global climate deal" - "Tony Blair yesterday held out hopes for a major breakthrough on a post-Kyoto climate-change accord as his crowning achievement after a decade as Prime Minister." (The Observer)

Hmm... politicians generally have too much invested in the scare to admit what a farce this whole thing is so there probably won't be any useful agreement (like walking away from the whole stupid thing).

"Eco-protection or economic suicide?" - "Europeans have set themselves up for a head-on collision between ecological purity and economic reality. With Congress poised to enact heavy-handed climate legislation, the U.S. may be doing likewise." (Paul Driessen, Washington Times)

"Developing powers seen critical to climate pact" - "DAVOS, Jan 27 - Emerging giants China and India, among the world's top greenhouse gas producers, could undermine efforts to secure a new global climate change accord unless granted special treatment, top international officials said. Neither country faces obligations under the current U.N. Kyoto Protocol on carbon emissions, which British Prime Minister Tony Blair said ought to be replaced with a more radical deal that "includes all the major countries of the world." He told the World Economic Forum on Saturday that any successor to Kyoto that lacks binding commitments from China and India would be ineffectual in the fight against global warming." (Reuters)

Uh-huh... "Most willing to sacrifice for environment: poll" - "An increasing number of Canadians are willing to make sacrifices for the environment, according to a poll conducted for CTV News and The Globe and Mail. About 93 per cent of those surveyed said they were willing to make some kind of sacrifice to solve global warming, according to findings from the poll conducted by the The Strategic Counsel." (CTV.ca News)

... see Green space no guarantee of greenbacks (.pdf)

"Canada Aims to Set Emissions Targets in Early 2007" - "OTTAWA - Canada aims to propose new greenhouse gas emissions targets for key industries, including oil and gas, by this spring for implementation in 2010-2015, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday. But the new rules don't mean Canada will meet targets agreed under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change." (Reuters)

"What's black and white and green all over? Another dodgy dossier" - "You will remember that, in 2002, the Government produced an intelligence dossier about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. In his foreword to the document, Tony Blair wrote that the dossier "discloses that his [Saddam's] military planning allows for some of the WMD to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them". You will also remember that there was, to put it gently, a fuss about these and other claims made by the Prime Minister.

Now consider a more recent claim by Mr Blair, about something completely different. After Sir Nicholas Stern's report, The Economics of Climate Change, appeared at the end of October, the Prime Minister warned: "The consequences for our planet are literally disastrous … without radical international measures to reduce carbon emissions within the next 10 to 15 years." This was the eco-equivalent of the 45 minutes — frightening, dramatic, and, it increasingly appears, "dodgy"." (Charles Moore, London Telegraph)

"Running the rule over Stern's numbers" - "When the Stern Review into the Economics of Climate Change came out last year, it was showered with praise. UK Prime Minister Tony Blair called it, "the most important report on the future ever published by this government". But expert critics of the review now claim that it overestimates the risk of severe global warming, and underestimates the cost of acting to stop it." (BBC Radio 4)

"Blair: Germany key to climate deal" - "DAVOS, Switzerland -- Germany's presidency of the G8 countries could lay the foundation for a radical climate deal embracing emerging powers and the United States, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Saturday." (Reuters)

"Blair sees hope of climate deal" - "UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has told the World Economic Forum a major breakthrough on long-term climate change goals could be close. He told the forum in Davos, Switzerland it was possible because of a "quantum shift" in the attitude of the US." (BBC)

"Bush's Climate Remarks Weighed for Policy Shift" - "It was just a couple of dozen words out of more than 5,000, uttered so fast that many in the audience missed them at first. But President Bush's commitment to fight global warming in his State of the Union address this week has echoed around the world and provoked debate about whether he is shifting his view of climate change." (Washington Post)

"Who's still cool on global warming?" - "Naysayers: From conservative bunkers, they plan on sowing enough doubt to derail action." (Toronto Star)

And we wish them every success.

Politically incorrect -- and in a Left-Coast paper too! "VLADO BEVC From the community: Global warming nothing but a paper tiger" - "THE MOVIE "An Inconvenient Truth," with which the indoctrinating centers in the Tri-Valley are propagandizing our children, comes across like this: We only have 10 years to return to a medieval lifestyle, to figure out how to get the sun to radiate more than 1.4 kW per square meter without melting the icecaps or to invent other "alternative" (what a ridiculous name) non-nuclear energy sources." (Contra Costa Times)

The biggest hazard with these stupid scares... "US answer to global warming: smoke and giant space mirrors" - "The US government wants the world's scientists to develop technology to block sunlight as a last-ditch way to halt global warming, the Guardian has learned. It says research into techniques such as giant mirrors in space or reflective dust pumped into the atmosphere would be "important insurance" against rising emissions, and has lobbied for such a strategy to be recommended by a major UN report on climate change, the first part of which will be published on Friday." (The Guardian)

... crackpot "cures". While "global warming" is a major yawn these schemes to "cool the planet" should terrify you.

The Indy appears to be worried that birds might be finding enough food in the wild... "Bird survey to reveal impact of global warming" - "It could almost now be classified as the British national hobby. The nation's love of wild birds has never been stronger, with millions of people regularly watching and feeding them in their gardens. And this weekend, up to half a million bird lovers will take part in what has become an annual ritual, the Big Garden Birdwatch, when the country takes note of the many and varied feathered visitors to our gardens and parks." (London Independent)

... and hence not relying on people's garden bird feeders. No problem, we're sure wildlife mobs will try something like this.

Heresy! "Energy crisis as power cuts loom" - "SCOTLAND is on the brink of a power crisis after an accident at one of the country's biggest electricity plants massively reduced supplies to the national grid. Emergency legislation will be rushed through the Scottish Parliament early this week to allow Longannet power station, Fife, to burn gas as well as coal in a bid to stave off potential blackouts. Longannet has been shut down after a conveyor belt carrying coal collapsed. A nuclear power station is already off-line and widespread power shortages have so far been avoided because of the unseasonably warm weather. "We're glad it isn't cold," one minister admitted last night." (The Scotsman)

"Clean Energy Seen 50 Pct of Supply by 2050 - Report" - "OSLO - Clean energies could surge to supply half of world demand by 2050 if governments crack down on use of fossil fuels, said a study by the renewable energy industry and an environmental group on Thursday." (Reuters)

"Very, Very Big Corn: Ethanol and its consequences." - "President Bush made a big push for alternative fuels in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, calling on Americans to reduce gasoline consumption by 20% over 10 years. And as soon as the sun rose on Wednesday, he set out to tour a DuPont facility in Delaware to tout the virtues of "cellulosic ethanol" and propose $2 billion in loans to promote the stuff. For a man who famously hasn't taken a drink for 20 years, that's a considerable intake of alcohol.

A bit of sobriety would go a long way in discussing this moonshine of the energy world, however. Cellulosic ethanol--which is derived from plants like switchgrass--will require a big technological breakthrough to have any impact on the fuel supply. That leaves corn- and sugar-based ethanol, which have been around long enough to understand their significant limitations. What we have here is a classic political stampede rooted more in hope and self-interest than science or logic." (Opinion Journal)

"The Long Road to Energy Independence" - "President Bush’s call for cutting gasoline demand during his State of the Union address last week is ambitious in scope, but it will likely be modest in effect." (New York Times)

"Organic Erosion" - "Will the term organic still mean anything when it's adopted whole hog by behemoths such as Wal-Mart?" (Jake Whitney, SF Chronicle)

Since it only means marketing ploys and gullible consumers at the very best of times, who cares?

Right... "INTERVIEW - Organic Farming Seen Here to Stay" - "CARDIFF, Wales - Climate change and declining oil supplies should favour organic farming, Jonathan Dimbleby, journalist and president of the UK Soil Association, told Reuters." (Reuters)

"GM canola could spell the end of trans fats" - "Canola crops could be genetically modified to eliminate the arteryclogging trans fats partly responsible for WA’s emerging obesity crisis, according to a leading farm consultant and WA biotechnology experts. Bill Crabtree, of Crabtree Agricultural Consulting, said it had already been proved that canola crops could be bred to eliminate trans fats, which are known to increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes and have been linked to infertility in women." (West Australian)

January 26, 2007

"Beware the Eco-Industrial Complex"  -"President Dwight D. Eisenhower famously warned Americans in 1961 against the growing and unwarranted influence on our government of a "military-industrial complex." The 2007 version of this concern should focus on the looming eco-industrial complex." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Honesty Is a Virtue" - "Efforts to improve global health are often crippled by a state of denial. Failure to consider unfashionable modes of disease transmission or use proven but politically unpopular methods in disease prevention and control is illogical, dishonest, and should be exposed." (Roger Bate and Kathryn Boateng, AEI)

"Indoor Residual Spraying Helps Curb Malaria in the Tropics" - "In our special series this week we’re looking at efforts to fight malaria. One tool used by health professionals is indoor residual spraying, or IRS. Insecticides are applied to the interior walls of homes to protect the family against the mosquito that carries the disease. With IRS, protection can be guaranteed for up to one year." (VOA)

"What Should Bill Gates Do?" - "It's January 2000. You manage a philanthropy that's decided to "do well by doing good." It has bowed to advocacy groups and agreed to invest its endowment in only "good" companies -- corporations that pass ideological litmus tests on the environment (no nuclear plants), corporate governance (independent boards), diversity (gay rights), and the like.

What companies do they recommend? Well, Enron has independent directors. Krispy Kreme gives tons of money to charity. Cendant is renowned for its diversity. HealthSouth is actively involved in communities. Check, check, check, check. The list goes on: Tyco, Adelphia, WorldCom, Rite Aid, Arthur Andersen, Qwest, Global Crossing, Martha Stewart, Bristol-Myers-Squibb, Lucent, Kmart.

Of course we know what happened. Every one of those "socially responsible" supernovas flamed out or are worth a fraction of what they once sold for, victims of self-inflicted ethical wounds. The big losers have been credulous pension funds, religious groups and liberal investors who put their hearts where their heads should have been." (Jon Entine, Wall Street Journal)

"Federal Advisers Endorse 5 - In - 1 Vaccine" - "WASHINGTON -- A five-in-one vaccine that could reduce the number of jabs children receive is both safe and effective, federal health advisers said Thursday." (AP)

"Deadly H5N1 may be brewing in cats" - "Bird flu hasn't gone away. The discovery, announced last week, that the H5N1 bird flu virus is widespread in cats in locations across Indonesia has refocused attention on the danger that the deadly virus could be mutating into a form that can infect humans far more easily." (New Scientist)

Predictably: "Microwave experiments cause sponge disasters" - "WASHINGTON - Reports about a study that found microwave ovens can be used to sterilize kitchen sponges sent people hurrying to test the idea this week -- with sometimes disastrous results." (Reuters)

"Reducing caffeine intake has no effect on birth weight or length of pregnancy" - "There is no evidence that moderate levels of caffeine consumption during pregnancy lead to a greater risk of premature births and underweight babies despite warnings from some public health officials, finds a new study on bmj.com today." (BMJ-British Medical Journal)

No... "Damaged brain region helps some kick habit" - "Many heavy smokers quit immediately and permanently when a small structure deep in the brain is damaged, a finding that provides a new lead in the search for smoking-cessation treatments, a study says." (Washington Times)

... this emphatically does not mean that people who quit smoking are brain-damaged (thanks to the many correspondents pointing out some of the poorly worded releases).

"Schools 'must tell parents' if children are obese" - "LONDON - Primary schools should inform parents if their children are overweight or obese, an influential group of MPs said on Thursday. Failure to do so would result in the parents being kept "in the dark about possible serious health risks to their children", the Committee of Public Accounts warned in a report entitled "Tackling Child Obesity - First Steps". How the information will be presented to the parents will be up to the Department of Health to decide, the report added. However, the department, which has been against providing such information in the past because of fears over a child's stigmatisation and bullying, has yet to settle on the best method." (Reuters)

"Warning of obesity risks to entire generation" - "An entire generation of children now at primary school is heading towards increased rates of serious health problems, an influential committee of MPs says today. It criticises the departments of Health and Education and Skills for doing too little to stem the "alarming" obesity epidemic. At least one primary school child in seven is now classed as obese." (London Telegraph)

"IPCC, Policy Neutrality, and Political Advocacy" - "We have commented in the past here about how the leadership of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has flouted its own guidance to be "policy neutral" by engaging in overt political advocacy on climate change. The comments by its Director Rajendra Pachauri reported today again highlight this issue:

I hope this [forthcoming IPCC] report will shock people, governments into taking more serious action as you really can't get a more authentic and a more credible piece of scientific work.

Imagine, by contrast, if the Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, another organization with an agenda to be "policy neutral," were reported in the media to say of the agency’s latest assessment on Iran, "I hope that the report will shock people, governments into taking more serious action." He would be looking for a new job in no time, I am sure. Why should climate change be treated differently?" (Prometheus)

Stephen Leahy embellishing all the harder:  "Endless Summer Not As Nice As It Sounds" - "BROOKLIN, Canada, Jan 25 - Warmer, wetter and stormier -- the largest ever scientific review of climate change will say there is virtually no doubt that emissions from burning fossil fuels are causing the documented rise in global temperatures." (IPS)

Oh... "Global warming more dangerous than nuclear weapons: Blix" - "Former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix warned on Thursday that global warming was a greater threat than weapons of mass destruction, and advocated promoting peaceful nuclear technology around the world." (AFP)

"Why is Al Gore not at Davos?" - "This should be Al Gore's year in Davos. After all, the former veep has been here in the past and in 2007, his signature issue, global warming, is at the center of the Davos agenda. ... But Al is nowhere in sight. Why?

Gore spokesperson Kalee Kreider tells The Peak that: "Former VP Gore wasn't able to attend because he has a very firm book deadline for his new book 'The Assault on Reason' which is coming out in May. We informed the organizers in Davos of this several weeks ago." (The Peak)

So there you have it -- lining his pockets is more important than the issues about which he is "passionate".

"Keeping warm: This winter, global climate change hits home" - "We can feel the difference in the air this winter. Winter 2006–07 thus far has been the warmest in the Czech Republic in memory. When I asked my Prague university students if they were concerned about this, a number of them were troubled at not being able to go skiing. None mentioned global warming." (Bill Cohn, The Prague Post)

A soft winter, and this is some kind of "disaster"?

"Russian winter arrives in force, two months late" - "Two people froze to death in Moscow Thursday as snow storms, icy winds and transport troubles signalled the long-awaited arrival of winter, ending an exceptionally mild stretch of weather in Russia." (AFP)

The misguided leading the gullible? "Global warming in 60 minutes: Trained by Al Gore's program, a Franklin County man spreads the word" - "ROCKY MOUNT -- Western Virginia's odd winter -- swinging between 70-degree sunny days and tonight's temperatures dropping into the teens -- may have nothing to do with global warming." (Roanoke Times)

Rightly: "Leaders not sold on global warming" - "AUSTIN -- Despite warnings from President Bush about global warming -- and in the face of what many experts and even industry leaders describe as overwhelming scientific consensus on the issue -- top leaders in Texas have continued to question the validity of man-made climate change." (Star-Telegram)

"A New Paper On The Statistics Of Record-breaking Temperatures" - "There is a recent paper on the statistics of record breaking temperatures." (Climate Science)

"Developing countries dig in heels on climate change" - "GENEVA - Developing countries stand to suffer the worst effects of global warming, and should not have to pay for a problem created mainly by the rich, executives and experts said on Thursday. At a gathering of 2,400 of the world's most powerful people at Davos, a ski resort in the Swiss Alps, leaders from emerging nations said they wanted the United States, European Union and others in the West to be more accountable for the heat-trapping emissions their cars and factories produce. They also asserted their right to stoke their own economies, even if greenhouse gas levels rise as a result." (Reuters)

We'd suggest it's more a "moral obligation" than a mere right to stoke their economies and improve the lot of some of the most impoverished people on Earth. The human prosperity = global climate catastrophe is a farce that must not be permitted to trap these people in poverty for the amusement of elitist bunny-huggers.

Audio: "The Investigation (30 min)" - "Broadcast on Radio 4 - Thu 25 Jan - 20:00 Simon Cox looks at the debate on global warming in the UK. In October 2006, the Government published The Stern Review on the economics of climate change. Is it worth such acclaim?" (BBC)

A collectors’ item (Number Watch)

Editor's note: it would appear a number of people think Johann Hari more significant that do we, since several correspondents queried why we did not bother with his blatherings. In a nutshell (which we feel is appropriate for Mr. Hari), while prolific but misguided individuals like Moonbat and entities like the Groaniad can be kind of fun to engage from time to time, we wonder what is the value of an ass like Hari in an embarrassment like The Indy? If, and only if, there appears sufficient interest we might link a few more Hari-isms but this is the first time I can recall that more than one correspondent has raised the ramblings of Johann Hari.

"If the Cap Fits" - "Washington this week officially welcomed the newest industry on the hunt for financial and regulatory favors. Big CarbonCap may have the same dollar-sign agenda as Big Oil or Big Pharma, but don't expect Nancy Pelosi to admit to it. Democrats want to flog the global warming theme through 2008 and they'll take what help they can get, even if it means cozying up to executives whose goal is to enrich their firms. Right now, the corporate giants calling for a mandatory carbon cap serve too useful a political purpose for anyone to delve into their baser motives." (Kimberley A Strassel, Wall Street Journal) | If you really can't access the WSJ there's a .pdf of this article here.

"The new gold rush: how farmers are set to fuel America's future" - "Rush to grow corn for ethanol - but is it the best solution for environment?" (The Guardian)

"Fuel Folly: Less consumption means more subsidies." - "With a combination of alternative fuel mandates and increased fuel-economy standards, President Bush on Tuesday night urged Congress to “build on the work we have done and reduce gasoline usage in the United States by 20 percent in the next ten years.” Build on the work we have done? With similar policies in place since 1974, American petroleum consumption has increased — not decreased — by over 20 percent.

Only in Europe, where government taxation has driven gas prices to $6-a-gallon and dampened economic growth, has oil consumption declined by 15 percent. And that took 30 years, not ten.

Such draconian measures are unlikely in the U.S., meaning no decline in oil consumption — but a continued rise in wasteful, politically correct federal ethanol subsidies." (Henry Payne, National Review Online)

"Canada won't follow Bush on reducing oil consumption: Harper" - "OTTAWA - Canada won't follow the Bush administration's lead in setting hard targets for reducing oil consumption, but will instead impose tougher emissions standards on the auto sector and other industries, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper. However, any regulations intended to protect the environment won't come at the expense of the economy, Harper said Wednesday. "The government does intend to regulate emissions across all sectors including the automobile sector," Harper said in an exclusive interview with The Canadian Press." (CP)

Panicking the populace: "Climate concerns now top security and health" - "OTTAWA — Anxiety about environmental change has climbed so quickly within Canadians' consciousness that it now overwhelms terrorism, crime and health care as society's greatest threat, says a poll that kicks off a major Globe and Mail examination of the issue. The Globe and Mail/CTV News survey delivers a number of messages for politicians, including a warning that the government not abandon Kyoto and a desire that Canada make a significant contribution to resolving global warming. But the overarching finding is the speed with which Canadians have accepted that global warming is a large problem. The issue will also have a profound effect on the next election, as voters decide which party has the best plan to fix the problem." (Globe and Mail)

Sillier by the day... "Home green packs will cost £200" - "Home owners will be forced to pay more than £200 for a green energy certificate when they put their house on the market. The Government strengthened its commitment to the energy performance certificate yesterday, saying the certificates must be included in the property particulars buyers will see before they even view a home. The certificates, which could cost as much as £350, will give properties an energy rating of between A (best) and G (worst). Experts fear this will create an "underclass of properties", reduce the housing stock and force house prices even higher." (London Telegraph)

"Energy Independence?" - "WASHINGTON -- Is there anything more depressing than yet another promise of energy independence in yet another State of the Union address? By my count, 24 of the 34 State of the Union addresses since the oil embargo of 1973 have proposed solutions to our energy problem. The result? In 1973 we imported 34.8 percent of our oil. Today we import 60.3 percent." (Charles Krauthammer, RealClearPolitics)

"Former abattoir to produce energy from dead cows" - "A CONTROVERSIAL former abattoir in the north-east of Scotland is to be turned into a multi-million renewable energy plant producing green energy from dead cows." (The Herald)

"Democrats oppose new dams in California, favor conservation" - "Democrats in the state Senate on Thursday said California does not need to build new reservoirs as it tries to cope with the expected consequences of global warming. Instead, the state should rely on conservation, underground storage and boosting the height of existing dams." (Associated Press)

"... to cope with the expected consequences of global warming"? No. To meet the needs of their population? Of course.

"Study explores the effect of genetically modified crops on developing countries" - "A new study in the February issue of Current Anthropology explores how the arrival of genetically modified crops affects farmers in developing countries. Glenn Davis Stone (Washington University) studied the Warangal District of Andhra Pradesh in India, a key cotton growing area notorious for suicides by cotton farmers. In 2003 to 2005, market share of "Bt cotton" seeds rose from 12 percent to 62 percent in Warangal. Bt cotton is genetically modified to produce its own insecticide and has been claimed by its manufacturer as the fastest-adopted agricultural technology in history." (University of Chicago Press Journals)

January 25, 2007

"The Challenge of Global Health" - "Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations writes in Foreign Affairs of the challenges in Global Health. Roger Bate, director of AFM, writes a commentary on this paper along with Jeffrey Sachs, Paul Farmer and Alex de Waal." (AFM)

"Paranoid in Park Slope" - "Dear Paranoid in Park Slope, we are sorry to read in New York Magazine that you are very, very, very worried about being poisoned by the vinyl rain cover on your baby stroller.

We understand.

In an age and place no longer ravaged by cholera, diptheria, measles, polio, smallpox and tuberculosis, one must have something to worry about; hence your gothic obsession with the “unnatural.” Science is, as Lewis Lapham, the former editor of Harper’s magazine, put it, “diabolic;” it has turned the world into a postmedieval horror story of neurotoxic paint vapors, toxic dust, endocrine-disrupting cosmetics, and lethal cleaning products. You are on a mission to find these wmds (weapons of my destruction) before they find their way into you." (Trevor Butterworth, STATS)

This week's featured scam: "Tenscam" - to "tune your body vibrations" no less. We rejected a lot of offered lines on this and merely suggest that you get your "good vibrations" from the Beach Boys.

"The Great Cholesterol Con" - "The Daily Mail reports that the long-anticipated release of The Great Cholesterol Con by Malcolm Kendrick, Medical Director of Adelphi Lifelong Learning, Cheshire, UK, and long-time cholesterol researcher, is January 29." (Junkfood Science)

"Trans fat alternative may have its own problems" - "NEW YORK - Cholesterol-raising trans fats may be disappearing from supermarket shelves and restaurants, but one type of fat taking their place may be no healthier, new research suggests." (Reuters Health)

"It's all been an illusion" - "This story Australian story didn’t make the news here, but should have." (Junkfood Science)

"Obesity epidemic an illusion, experts say" - "AUSTRALIANS aren't getting fatter at all, according to a group of academics who claim the obesity epidemic is a money-wasting illusion." (AAP)

"Of Gay Sheep, Science and Bad Publicity" - "The story of the gay sheep is an example of the distortion that can result when science meets the global news cycle." (New York Times)

Granted, the media is about the worst thing ever to happen to science, think chemical scares, vaccination nonsense, global warming, salt, fat, ETS... Science really doesn't belong with celebrity voyeurism but media has reduced it to a kind of Al Gore meets Princess Di unreality show -- not exactly our finest hour.

"AMS Endorses WMO TC Consensus Statement" - "Full text from action by the American Meteorological Society on the recent consensus statement (PDF) by the World Meteorological Organization on Tropical Cyclones and Climate Change:" (Prometheus)

Won't be popular, even with the 'people done it' angle... "Nullarbor trove solves megafauna murder mystery" - "AN extraordinary trove of fossils discovered in caves beneath the arid Nullarbor Plain has solved Australia's longest-running murder mystery: who or what wiped out Australia's giant prehistoric animals. Scientists now claim it was not climate change but Aborigines who were to blame for killing off the giant kangaroos, birds and marsupial lions that once roamed the country." (The Australian)

... because the current push is for the illusion of massive climate risk and this suggests critters manage to adapt to climate changes quite well.

"The sun may have a dimmer switch" - "The sun may have a dimmer switch at its core that causes its brightness to oscillate in timescales of around 100,000 years -- exactly the same period between ice ages on Earth. This is according to a physicist from Virginia, US, who has modeled the effect of temperature fluctuations at the sun's interior. In the standard view, the temperature of the sun's core is held constant." (New Scientist)

Funny, isn't it... "Business leaders welcome Bush climate change nod" - "DAVOS, Switzerland - World business leaders welcomed U.S. President George W. Bush's acknowledgment of climate change as "a serious challenge" and called on Wednesday for long-term emissions standards to help them plan. Bush declined in his annual State of the Union address to support mandatory caps on heat-trapping carbon gases that big U.S. companies such as General Electric Co. have pushed for, instead backing new technologies to cut the amount of gasoline used in the United States." (Reuters)

... big business is generally portrayed as the evil empire by the green/left coalition, never to be trusted under any circumstance. How hypocritical that an obvious ploy to bilk consumers and maximize profits by disadvantaging competitors through bad legislation is being held up as somehow validating the misanthropic desires of the bunny-hugging brigade.

Just when you thought you'd seen it all: "Global warming possibly linked to an enhanced risk of suicide: Data from Italy, 1974–2003" - "The global increase in surface temperature (known as global warming) was found to impact on mortality through ill health, particularly among the elderly and in summer. This study sets out to explore the impact of global warming on suicide mortality, using data from Italy." (Journal of Affective Disorders)

A positive correlation between scare mongering and suicide we'd believe...

"Is There Any Location On Earth Without Air Pollution? An Important New Article On This Subject By Meinrat O. Andreae" - "There is a new interesting paper in Science on January 5 2007 by Meinrat O. Andreae entitled “Aerosols Before Pollution” [subscription required]." (Climate Science)

We wish... "The IPCC The Most Powerful Acronym No One Has Heard Of" - "The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which meets here next week to issue its first overall report in six years, is the world's paramount scientific authority on global warming. Set up in 1988 by the UN's World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the IPCC assesses and summarises the best available data on greenhouse gases and climate change." (AFP)

... no one had ever heard of it. Actually, they aren't releasing the technical report, despite the draft having been available since last May, but rather the political "summary" -- the actual report won't be publicly available until next May, when it's been doctored to suit the political statement. Perhaps we should post the draft AR4 WG1 online so everyone can compare the political froth with the peer-reviewed draft? Could be an interesting exercise...

"IPCC Schedule: WG1 Report Available Only to Insiders Until May 2007" - "I was mulling over the IPCC release schedule, which has a procedure that is, shall we say, unprecedented in my experience with public disclosure documents. The schedule has been available for some time, but, to my knowledge, no one has commented on its combination of absurdity and condescension.

On February 2, 2007, they are releasing the Summary for Policy-Makers to great fanfare. But the actual WG1 Report will not be published on Feb 2, 2007. Amazingly, the actual release of the 4AR (Fourth Assessment Report) does not come until a few months later in May 2007. Thus, there will be no possibility for external readers to verify what IPCC insiders say will be an “iconic statement” against the actual WG1 report during that period." (Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit)

Nice to see a few others noting the bizarre rearward revision tactics of the IPCC, see, for example:

Update (p.m.): If you’re wondering about this procedure which, to my knowledge, is unprecedented in public commission reporting, here’s what IPCC procedures (section 4) say about Technical Report acceptance:

Changes (other than grammatical or minor editorial changes) made after acceptance by the Working Group or the Panel shall be those necessary to ensure consistency with the Summary for Policymakers or the Overview Chapter.

So the purpose of the three-month delay between the publication of the Summary for Policy-Makers and the release of the actual WG1 is to enable them to make any “necessary” adjustments to the technical report to match the policy summary. Unbelievable. Can you imagine what securities commissions would say if business promoters issued a big promotion and then the promoters made the “necessary” adjustments to the qualifying reports and financial statements so that they matched the promotion. Words fail me.

IPCC insiders should not be allowed to change a comma of the WG1 Report after Feb 2, 2007 to “ensure consistency” with the Summary. If the two are inconsistent, let the chips fall where they may.

Unfortunately for McIntyre, he's way too used to the real world and inflexible facts, territory completely foreign to the political "science" realm of UNFCCC and the IPCC (the clue is in United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- when this fraud finally unravels it'll make oil-for-food look like a petty cash accounting error).

Old Crispy's still at it... "Climate change seen fanning conflict and terrorism" - "LONDON - Global warming could exacerbate the world's rich-poor divide and help to radicalize populations and fan terrorism in the countries worst affected, security and climate experts said on Wednesday. "We have to reckon with the human propensity for violence," Sir Crispin Tickell, Britain's former ambassador to the United Nations, told a London conference on "Climate Change: the Global Security Impact." (Reuters)

... ever since the days of "Milk-snatcher Thatcher" Crispin Tickell has been the driving force of climate alarmism. Far more so than "Father of global warming", Jim Hansen, Tickell is responsible for this whole farce -- see "Global Warming: How It All Began".

People easily deceived? "Climate change: Public concern is rising fast" - "Thirty years ago, global warming was an issue restricted to a handful of climatologists who, clamouring in the wilderness, warned that uncontrolled burning of fossil fuels would damage Earth's climate. Today, opinion polls in many countries say climate change is now a concern that citizens often place just after unemployment, terrorism or a similarly key issue of prosperity or survival. Climate change is ranked with highest importance in Europe, where sensitivity soared in 2003 after killer rainstorms drenched the east of the continent and a record-breaking heatwave gripped its west." (AFP)

"Global Warming Serious for 70% of Americans" - "Many adults in the United States express concerns over climate change, according to a poll by CBS News. 70 per cent of respondents think global warming is an environmental problem that is causing a serious impact now." (Angus Reid Global Monitor)

Go 'cats! "Scientists declare the sky is falling" - "Chicken Little was bumped on the head by an acorn, and started screaming, "The sky is falling!" to whomever would listen. On his hysterical dash to tell the king, he and his gullible barnyard pals were gobbled up by Foxy Loxy.

The moral? Sometimes people jump into hysterics for no reason, but if Isaac Newton had shouted "The sky is falling!" when the apple hit his head instead of making the logical leap to gravity, man might have had to wait another hundred years for that basic and important discovery.

But the hysterical Chicken Little reaction, not the reasoned Newtonian one, is exactly what the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists is screaming by moving the Doomsday Clock two minutes closer to Zero Hour." (Kara Karlson, Arizona Daily Wildcat)

"On Snowbound Plains, Grim Fight to Save Calves" - "Calving season on the High Plains will be harder and more costly than any year in at least a decade, ranchers and agricultural officials say." (New York Times)

Uh-huh... warming sure would be bad, right? Who could possibly want less-harsh winters with their lower heating bills, reduced stressors on wildlife and livestock and generally more life-friendly conditions?

"Rare Birds Threatened by Danube Delta Cold Snap" - "BUCHAREST - A cold snap in Romania could harm rare bird populations in the Danube Delta where nesting is beginning early this year due to unusually warm weather, experts warned on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"Winter's Return Brings Chaos to Europe, 3 Killed" - "LONDON - Three people were killed as snow and ice caused travel chaos across Europe on Wednesday, halting trains and planes and cutting power to thousands of homes." (Reuters)

"Global warming threatens California water supply" - "Without water and the ability to move it efficiently over hundreds of miles -- to cities, suburbs, farms and factories -- California would be unrecognizable as the fertile, vibrant state it is today. Already, scientists say, there are clear signs that global warming will put that vital flow in jeopardy." (MediaNews)

"Bingaman Global Warming Bill Won't Come Cheap" - "Washington, D.C., January 24, 2007—Draft global warming legislation from Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) is being billed as a moderate middle way to control greenhouse gas emissions, but in fact it will increase consumer energy costs, chill investment in new coal-fired power plants, and usher in a new era of anti-energy litigation." (CEI)

"Stern challenges Bush with call for green tax" - "Sir Nicholas Stern, the author of an apocalyptic report on the dangers of global warming, called for more green taxes from world governments in an attempt to cut carbon emissions. He said that it would be "plain daft" to reject the notion of a global carbon tax given the urgent need to tackle climate change, which he called the "biggest market failure the world has ever seen". He added: "We need to use all the tools we've got. It would be mad to throw one away." (London Telegraph)

Fortunately only The Indy and maybe The Guardian pay any attention to gibbering Sir Nick.

Right... "Johann Hari: The last gasp of the global warming deniers" - "They are beached on the shores of the wrong side of history, now abandoned even by Bush." (London Independent)

"British MP puts Ottawa on climate hot seat" - "Blair's envoy urges Canada to help craft post-Kyoto plan in time for G8 meeting." (Globe and Mail)

Morley should be encouraged to swim home.

"Tokyo climate change meeting eyes post-Kyoto rules" - "TOKYO - Senior officials from advanced and developing countries met in Tokyo on Wednesday to start work on a follow-up agreement to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change." (Reuters)

"Slovakia Says to Sue EU over CO2 Cap" - "BRATISLAVA - Slovakia will file a lawsuit against the European Commission (EC) over its demand the EU member cut its annual carbon dioxide emissions from 2008-2012, Slovak government officials said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"Scrap GMT to cut emissions and accidents, says study" - "Britain should abandon Greenwich mean time and align its watches with central Europe, according to researchers who claim the switch would trim greenhouse gas emissions and reduce road accidents." (The Guardian)

But, but... lots of Europe is already GMT+1 and their emissions are even worse ;)

"EU stumbles on the low-carbon road" - "Environmentalists have expressed grave concern that the European Commission could be about to drop plans to ensure that new cars produce a quarter less carbon dioxide by 2012." (BBC)

"Grand plan for a low-carbon Europe goes up in smoke" - "The European Commission's grand strategy for the EU to lead the world in fighting climate change and switch to a low-carbon economy was yesterday in disarray less than two weeks after it was set out with a loud self-congratulatory fanfare." (The Guardian)

"Bush refuses to yield on global warming" - "President George W. Bush refused to back down on his position on tackling global warming as he unveiled a new energy initiative this week that failed to convince environmentalists." (AFP)

but now we feel better: "German Politicians Praise Bush's Climate Change Initiatives" - "German politicians reacted positively on the whole to Bush's State of the Union address, welcoming what they saw as a new pragmatism and praising his climate change initiatives." (Der Spiegel)

"Commentary: Maize may save the US" - "President George W Bush's aim to cut American petrol usage by 20 per cent over 10 years looks achievable – though not necessarily through the way he has chosen to do it. Half of the target, set out in his State of the Union address, is to be achieved by developing supplies of ethanol, the other half by an increase in vehicle efficiency." (London Telegraph)

"Bush's energy hope relies on major scientific breakthroughs" - "WASHINGTON - President Bush's hope to replace up to 15 percent of the gasoline Americans use with ethanol made from wood chips, cornstalks, grass, straw and the like will require scientific, technical and economic breakthroughs. Government and private laboratories are experimenting with techniques to extract ethanol more easily from plant materials composed of tough cellulose fibers, such as switch grass, but for now Bush's ambitions are far from reality. "The private sector continues to work furiously, both on their own and in partnership with government," said John Mizroch, an official in the Department of Energy's Office of Renewable Energy. "But there have been no major breakthroughs." (McClatchy Newspapers)

"USDA Announces Plan For $1.6 Billion Investment In Renewable Fuels" - "WASHINGTON, Jan. 24, 2007 - Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today announced plans to propose $1.6 billion in new funding for renewable energy, with a focus on cellulosic energy research and production, as part of the Administration’s 2007 farm bill proposals. This funding will support President Bush’s goal of reducing gasoline usage by 20 percent in the next ten years and will compliment an array of renewable energy-related efforts underway at the U.S. Department of Agriculture." (CN)

"Increasing Renewable Energy in U.S. Can Solve Global Warming" - "The alternative scenario in this report, which urgently calls for new policy and standards, corrects the record on nukes and coal." (Renewable Energy Access)

but "ANALYSIS - Corn Alone can't Meet Bush Green Fuel Goal" - "CHICAGO - It won't be possible to produce enough corn in the United States to meet President George W. Bush's goal of a 35 billion gallon output of renewable fuels in ten years, analysts said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

Uh-huh... "Brazil Eyes Ethanol Export Boom after Bush Speech" - "SAO PAULO - Ethanol producers in Brazil, the world's biggest and cheapest exporter of the alternative fuel, see a fantastic business opportunity in US President Bush's aim to cut his country's gasoline use by 20 percent over a decade." (Reuters)

... that'd be right! Sell silly Americans ethanol while: "Petrobras announces 2 billion dollars in Argentina over 5 years" - "Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras’s Argentine unit Petrobras Energía SA “plans to invest more than two billion dollars over the next five years in Argentina” and start this year exploring oil on Argentina’s territorial sea, Petrobras Energía new Director General Carlos Fontes said." (Mercopress)

"A Report from the Bureaucracy" - "A report titled "Key Challenges Remain for Developing and Deploying Advanced Energy Technologies to Meet Future Needs"(PDF) from the Government Accountability Office, released last week, should be required reading for anything wanting to understand the challenges of transforming energy policy. Here is the bottom line (p. 53):" (Prometheus)

In the land of fruits and nuts: "State set to limit coal-fired electricity" - "Utility regulators are expected to adopt rules that would cut emissions of greenhouse gases." (LA Times)

"Calif. Regulators Mull Greenhouse Gas Standard" - "SAN FRANCISCO - California utility regulators will vote Thursday on a measure that would require new power plants and electricity supply contracts to meet a performance standard for greenhouse gas emissions." (Reuters)

"California officials say Bush energy plan could raise emissions" - "The Bush administration's new energy plan to reduce gasoline demand by 20 percent could have an unintended side effect. Linda Adams, California's Environmental Protection Agency secretary, says it could increase greenhouse gas emissions. It's the latest shot at the Bush administration by the governor and his administration over global warming." (Associated Press)

"Portugal wants renewables to meet nearly half of its electricity needs" - "Portugal wants renewable energy sources like wind and wave power to account for nearly half of the electricity consumed in the country by 2010, Prime Minister Jose Socrates said Wednesday. The Socialist government will work to ensure that 45 percent of the nation's electricity output in three years comes from renewable sources, he said during a debate in parliament, up from a previous target of 39 percent." (AFP)

Searching for relevance? "Unions see greenbacks in 'green' future" - "Organized labor is joining forces with environmentalists to push for an eco-friendly economy." (The Christian Science Monitor)

Not a good sign. Not that long ago stevedore unions in Australia used to extort multi-thousand dollar "donations" for Greenpeace and other psychotic misanthropes from every ship docked and transferring cargo in Australian ports. Those bad old days are currently behind us and must never be allowed to return.

"Wanderlust -- deep-sea fauna under Antarctic ice shelf" - "Under the former Larsen ice shelf east of the Antarctic Peninsula, deep-sea sea cucumbers and stalked feather stars were ubiquitously found in shallow waters. These animals usually inhabit far greater water depths." (Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research)

"New plan set to poison Lake Davis pike" - "After a seven-year effort to control the northern pike population, Department of Fish and Game Director Ryan Broddrick announced plans Tuesday to again treat Lake Davis with chemicals to eradicate the non-native species from California waters. Calling invasive species the top challenge for the nation and the state, Broddrick said the $12 million project would begin sometime after Labor Day." (Sacramento Bee)

"Reactivated gene shrinks tumors" - "CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Many cancers arise due to defects in genes that normally suppress tumor growth. Now, for the first time, MIT researchers have shown that re-activating one of those genes in mice can cause tumors to shrink or disappear." (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

"Govt ferments biotech-based plan to tap into EU sugar mkt" - "NEW DELHI: The government is mulling a biotech-based plan for breaking into the 4 million-tonne market for sugar that is getting vacated in the EU following withdrawal of subsidies to this segment. The plan to boost the sugarcane economy manifold is pegged on tapping into key work done by the world’s top producer Brazil in sugar genome sequencing." (Times of India)

"GM crops increase by 180% in South Africa" - "Genetically Modified (GM) crops have grown by 180% in South Africa since last year. This is according to Agri SA at a global analysis discussion in Pretoria yesterday which is looking at the global and national picture on the increase of GM crops." (SABC)

January 24, 2007

Act in haste... "Cancer study spurs 2 bills: Legislators say they are alarmed by possible link to Ship Channel" - "Two Texas legislators have filed identical bills that would mandate stricter monitoring of air contaminants and enforcement of air pollution rules, saying they were disturbed by a new study that found a possible link between cancer and hazardous air pollutants from the Houston Ship Channel." (Houston Chronicle)

The above panicked response is generated by this: Preliminary epidemiologic investigation of the relationship between the presence of ambient hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and cancer incidence in Harris County.

"Study finds mercury prevalent in many western fish" - "CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new survey by researchers at Oregon State University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of more than 600 rivers and streams in the western United States found widespread mercury concentrations in fish. Though few of the more than 2,700 fish analyzed in the study contained alarmingly high levels of mercury, the prevalence of the element throughout 12 western states caught the researchers somewhat by surprise." (Oregon State University)

Why did it take them by surprise? Mercury is hardly a rare element.

It's been pointed out that we tend to neglect junk social science -- we'll try to address that: "A Methodology Critique in Defense of Those Wascally Wepublicans" - "You may have heard the news by now. People who hold conservative political opinions are suffering from a syndrome in need of a cure. How do we know this? Because a professor of psychology has demonstrated it to be so. The news has been getting a lot of press lately." (The Iron Shrink)

"Junkfood Science Special: New Age Numerology — Why kids are little Tyrannosaurus rexes" - "Parents have a tough job. They want what’s best for their children but they’re being bombarded from every direction with frightening information indicating that their children are in danger. One of the biggest worries for any parent is whether their child is growing normally and is healthy." (Junkfood Science)

"Grand Rounds: scientific evidence in health" - "Grand Rounds are up at Signout, a blog by a first-year resident. This issue’s theme is the interface of scientific evidence with health and healthcare. The issue is set up as a scientific paper." (Junkfood Science)

"The winds of change: Dartmouth researchers learn that North America's wind patterns have shifted significantly in the past 30,000 years" - "HANOVER, NH – Dartmouth researchers have learned that the prevailing winds in the mid latitudes of North America, which now blow from the west, once blew from the east. They reached this conclusion by analyzing 14,000- to 30,000-year-old wood samples from areas in the mid-latitudes of North America (40-50°N), which represents the region north of Denver and Philadelphia and south of Winnipeg and Vancouver. The researchers report their findings online on Jan. 23 in the journal Geology, published by the Geological Society of America." (Dartmouth College)

"Can a 'leaky' levee save the Louisiana coast?" - "A bold US Army Corps of Engineers plan would build a semipermeable 'Great Wall of Louisiana' to preserve marshlands." (The Christian Science Monitor)

January snow? How newsworthy... "Snow brings French and Swiss traffic chaos, relief for ski resorts" - "Snow brought traffic chaos to much of eastern France and parts of Switzerland on Tuesday but offered a degree of hope to ski resorts who have been forced to close because of mild weather during much of the season so far." (AFP)

"Multimillion-Dollar Study of Polar Ice Thaw" - "TORONTO - The recent collapse of a Canadian Arctic ice shelf illustrates why Canada is the biggest contributor to the International Polar Year, reportedly the largest global scientific research programme, focused on climate change." (IPS)

There's much waffle over the collapse of northern Ellesmere Island shore ice but hard data is somewhat scarce (the breakaway actually occurred in 2005 but no one noticed). The Ayles Ice Shelf is variously quoted as being anything from 3,000-4,500 years old but this is complete nonsense as in 1967 Hattersley-Smith (Arctic Circular 17, 13-14 noted up in Jeffries 1986) had previously observed that the Ayles Ice Shelf no longer existed. If it wasn't there 40 years ago how could it be 4,500 years old when breaking away in 2005?

"Pregnant polar bears use land for dens" - "ANCHORAGE, Alaska - More pregnant polar bears in Alaska are digging snow dens on land instead of sea ice, according to a federal study, and researchers say deteriorating sea ice due to climate warming is the likely reason. From 1985 to 1994, 62 percent of the female polar bears studied dug dens in snow on sea ice. From 1998 to 2004, just 37 percent gave birth on sea ice. The rest instead dug snow dens on land, according to the study by three U.S. Geological Survey researchers. Bears that continued to den on ice moved east in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska's northern coast, away from ice that was thinner or unstable." (Associated Press)

They're adaptable? Maybe that's how they survived previous warm periods.

"Scientists observe drumlin beneath ice sheet" - "Scientists have discovered a warehouse-sized drumlin – a mound of sediment and rock – actively forming and growing under the ice sheet in Antarctica. Its discovery, and the rate at which it was formed, sheds new light on ice-sheet behaviour. This could have implications for predicting how ice sheets contribute to sea-level rise. The results are published this week in the journal Geology." (British Antarctic Survey)

Warming up the crowd before the main event: "U.N. climate panel to project wrenching change" - "OSLO - A U.N. climate panel will project wrenching disruptions to nature by 2100 in a report next week blaming human use of fossil fuels more clearly than ever for global warming, scientific sources said." (Reuters)

As we pointed out last week, the report conclusion are already severely tainted since they stopped receiving review papers just prior to release of data showing significant oceanic cooling which should make them release "new data makes report redundant -- do over due in 2-3 years" -- but they won't.

"Sane response to weather's doomsayers" - "Unstoppable Global Warming" is a valuable and sane contribution to the more-than-a-little-loopy public conversation about global warming. It deserves a warm reception from readers." (CGFI)

Disaster prognostication on steroids: "Nuclear power climate change risk" - "A new study into the potential impact of climate change on Britain's nuclear power stations highlights the threat of rising seas and increasingly severe storms, BBC News learns. Specialists from the Met Office were commissioned by the nuclear power company British Energy to assess the risks of global warming. All of the UK's working nuclear power stations are located on the coast - sites originally chosen for their remoteness and to guarantee supplies of cooling water. But the Met Office researchers have forecast global warming is likely to bring three changes which could combine to pose serious risks - rising sea-levels, increased wave height and increased height of storm surges." (BBC)

"White House Left Out in the Cold on Warming" - "WASHINGTON - Dozens of legislators from rich and developing nations will meet in Washington next month to discuss plans to lower greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the worst impacts of climate change." (IPS)

"Green light signals a long haul to change" - "Are US politicians suddenly so convinced of the threat of global warming that they are prepared to do something about it? No: probably not for years, for all the talk. President Bush’s decision to refer to climate change and energy security in his State of the Union address last night shows that it is on the political map; so, more emphatically, do the congressional measures on the theme. That doesn’t mean that the White House or Congress is prepared to rush into action — nor should they be. Some of the reluctance stems from well-founded concern about economic growth, given the formidable size of the required changes." (Bronwen Maddox, London Times)

"Decoding Climate Politics" - "Pundits tell us the mood shift, with Democrats now in control, favors action on climate change. Don't bet on it.

It's still going to be hard for the legislative process to get past the fact that nothing on the table or capable of commanding majority support would make the slightest difference to climate change. Even a complete ban on burning fossil fuels in the U.S. wouldn't halt progress to the next milestone, a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide since the advent of industrial civilization. No joke to say the only live question for congresspersons and their voters back home is: How much are we going to spend to have no impact on global warming, and why?" (Homan W Jenkins, Jr., Wall Street Journal)

If you really can't get access to WSJ there's a .pdf of the article here.

About as wrong as it gets... "Oil chief emerges with climate warning" - "FORMER fossil fuel mogul John Schubert says the nation has reached a "tipping point" on climate change, with overwhelming public acceptance of the problem making it impossible for business and government to ignore it any longer.

The Commonwealth Bank chairman credits the drought, extreme weather disasters such as Hurricane Katrina in the US and Cyclone Larry in northern Queensland, record global temperatures in 2005 and former US President Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth with dispelling any remaining doubts on the threat of climate change." (The Australian)

... because it relies on an already discredited "warming = weather disasters" hypothesis and, bizarrely, Al Gore's scenic tour and irrational musings.

For those who speak gibberish... "States should create a climate for change" - "Systemic changes are needed in order to promote effective action to tackle carbon dioxide emissions. Society needs more energy as much as it needs better ways to reduce the negative environmental effects of its production and use. Governments have a crucial role in ensuring that consumers and industry respond effectively. In order for market forces to work we (paradoxically) need more regulations. Governments must urgently provide the rules that can foster lower carbon dioxide emissions. These regulations must encourage both investment in new technologies and energy conservation." (Jeroen van der Veer, Financial Times)

... free markets through regulation! And all to "address" a climate "emergency" that exists solely within computer models (a problem which can be solved simply by stopping the model run) but which does not manifest itself in the real world.

"Corporations urged to adapt to challenges of climate change" - "PARIS: While politicians and scientists are seeking to understand how quickly the planet is warming, many of the world's chief executives already are feeling the heat to solve one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century." (IHT)

These guys aren't "being urged" but rather stampeded. While media and activists have managed to cause concern in the populace this will inevitably subside (along with global temperature) and surviving businesses will be those who remain rational and make decisions based on real-world data.

"Business chiefs confident about revenues" - "Company chiefs from around the world are brimming with confidence about their business prospects over the coming year but divided about the impact of climate change, a survey said Wednesday. Ninety-two percent of 1,100 chief executives in 50 countries were confident about their company's revenue growth in 2007, according to the annual survey by auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers." (AFP)

"Activists Trying to Shut Down Climate Debate, Skeptics Say" - "Climate change skeptics - and journalists who report on them - have become the target of a campaign aimed at stifling legitimate debate at a time when Congress is planning an aggressive new environmental push. This is the assessment of environmental scientists and free market advocates who see a concerted effort to silence and de-fund think tanks that publish material challenging "prevailing global warming orthodoxy." (CNSNews.com)

"Summer Heat History" - "We are sure by now you’ve heard the news that global warming is causing heat waves to increase in frequency, intensity, and duration around the world, humans are suffering and dying at alarming rates in the ever-increasing summer heat, and it could all be prevented if we seriously addressed the greenhouse issue. Just go on-line and look up heat waves and global warming. Within seconds we found global warming advocacy sites claiming that “Heat-waves in Europe are associated with significant morbidity and mortality. A preliminary analysis of the 2003 heat-wave in Europe estimated that it caused 14,802 excess deaths in France, 2045 excess deaths in the United Kingdom, 2099 in Portugal.” Or, try “An estimated 15,000 people died as a result of the heatwave in France last August. Chicago’s heatwave of July 1995 killed about 739.” If you’ve not seen enough, you will quickly find headlines like “Consequence: deadly heat waves and the spread of disease” in which you learn that “More frequent and more intensive heat waves could result in more heat-related deaths. These conditions could also aggravate local air quality problems, already afflicting more than 80 million Americans. Global warming is expected to increase the potential geographic range and virulence of tropical diseases as well.” (WCR)

Look out! Biodiversity is increasing! "Warm Winter Brings Exotic Butterflies to Alps" - "VIENNA - Unusually warm temperatures are bringing African and Mediterranean butterflies to the Austrian Alps, one of Western Europe's coldest regions." (Reuters)

"Waterbirds population declines because of global warming" - "Nearly half of the world's waterbird species are in decline, mostly due to rapid economic development and the effects of climate change, according to a global survey released Tuesday." (Pravda.ru)

"The Publication of the Gu et al JGR Paper On Two Important Largely Neglected Climate Processes" - "The very important new research paper on vegetation dynamics, that was introduced on September 28 2006 on Climate Science, has appeared." (Climate Science)

From CO2 Science this week:

Effects of Atmospheric CO 2 Enrichment on Calcifying Aquatic Organisms: It is often claimed that elevated CO 2 is harmful to them; but new evidence suggests otherwise.

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week:
This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from Mt. Storsnasen, Southern Swedish Scandes, Sweden. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary:
Greening of the Earth (Observations - North America): As atmospheric CO 2 concentrations and air temperatures have risen over the last several decades, just how badly have North American ecosystems suffered?

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: Alfalfa, Babysbreath Gypsophila, Norway Spruce, and White Mustard.

Journal Reviews:
Twentieth-Century Global Sea Level Rise: Did the rate-of-rise of global sea level accelerate over the past hundred years in response to what climate alarmists claim was unprecedented CO 2 -induced global warming?

Global Ocean Warming Since the 1950s: Has it been vastly overestimated?

The Medieval Warm Period in the Eastern Sierra Nevada, California, USA: When did it occur? ... and how warm was it compared to the present?

South African Indigenous Forest: Its Response to Late 20th-Century Environmental Change: Was it positive or negative?

World's Northernmost Forest Becoming More Robust: What, exactly, is happening? ... and why? (co2science.org)

Poor old Moonbat... "If Tesco and Wal-Mart are friends of the earth, are there any enemies left?" - "The superstores compete to convince us they are greener than their rivals, but they are locked into unsustainable growth." (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

... they never were "enemies" of the Earth George, that's always been your delusion. Of course, the enterprises are doing themselves no favors trying to grab a green mantle either as people begin to realize "green" basically means "misanthropic" (not a good look for a retail chain).

"Germany's Glos Mulls Complaint on EU Emission Plan" - "BERLIN - Germany's Economy Ministry said on Tuesday it was considering a complaint against European Commission plans to impose tougher quotas on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, but the Environment Ministry rejected the idea." (Reuters)

"Support for Ending German Nuclear Power Wanes - Glos" - "BERLIN - Support for Germany's programme to phase out nuclear energy is waning, Economy Minister Michael Glos said on Tuesday amid a heated national debate on the policy." (Reuters)

"America (finally!) begins to embrace alternative energy" - "The US needs bipartisan cooperation on climate-change legislation." (John Hughes, The Christian Science Monitor)

A rational act at last: "Global Environment Fund Gives Money to Dirty Fuel" - "NEW DELHI - The world's biggest fund for environmental projects is investing for the first time in a non-renewable, polluting fuel -- coal -- in what it says is a new pragmatic approach to the energy needs of the developing world." (Reuters)

"Bush Seeks Vast, Mandatory Increase in Alternative Fuels and Greater Vehicle Efficiency" - "WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 — Vowing to reduce the nation’s thirst for foreign oil, President Bush called on Tuesday for a huge government-mandated increase in renewable fuels — mainly ethanol — and tougher mileage standards for cars and light trucks." (New York Times)

"Citing Safety Concerns, National Center for Public Policy Research Calls on President Bush to Reconsider his Call to Increase Fuel Economy Standards" - "Washington, D.C. - The National Center for Public Policy Research calls on President Bush to reconsider his call for an increase in Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards, as he apparently called for in his State of the Union address." (National Center)

"Gore's State of the Union" - "When I threatened not to vote for George W. Bush back in the fall of 2000, a friend of mine warned that a future State of the Union address would include proposals for reducing gasoline use by 20 percent, tougher fuel economy standards for cars and reducing "global warming" emissions. My friend was right. But it wasn't because Al Gore got elected. It was because George W. Bush was elected without my support, and re-elected four years later." (Joseph Farah, WND)

"Automakers cool to Bush plans to cut gas consumption" - "Automakers reacted coolly Tuesday to US President George W. Bush's pledge to improve fuel economy standards, as part of a plan to cut gasoline consumption by 20 percent over the next 10 years. The Big Three US automakers have been lobbying to get Washington to focus its energy policy on increased use of alternative fuels like ethanol and pledged last summer to double their production of alternative-fuel vehicles by 2010. They were rewarded Tuesday when the White House said expanded use of alternative fuels will account for the bulk of its targeted reductions." (AFP)

"Hydrogen-powered lawnmowers? New design could open door to small-scale fuel cells" - "In a breakthrough that could make fuel cells practical for such small machines as lawnmowers and chainsaws, researchers have developed a new mechanism to efficiently control hydrogen fuel cell power." (National Science Foundation)

"Biggest threat to U.S. drinking water? Rust" - "CHICAGO - From an attack by militants to a decline in snow melt caused by global warming, public fears about the water supply have heightened in the United States. So who would have thought the top worry among water experts turns out to be rusty pipes? "If you clean up water and then put it into a dirty pipe, there's not much point," said Timothy Ford, a microbiologist and water research scientist with Montana State University. "I consider the distribution system to be the highest risk and the greatest problem we are going to be facing in the future," Ford said." (Reuters)

Uh-huh... "Greenpeace in toxic fruit fight" - "Hong Kong's food worries show no sign of abating - and have now spread to fruit. Members of the pressure group Greenpeace converged on the Centre for Food Safety in Admiralty Tuesday and dumped buckets of fresh fruit at its doorstep, claiming they have been contaminated with dangerous levels of banned pesticides." (Hong Kong Standard)

If they don't like applied pesticides how about they refrain from impeding pesticide-reduction advances like biotech? Or is that just too sensible?

January 23, 2007

"Africa: What is Working?" - "With a mixture of self-interest and moneymaking zeal, private businesses are combating one of the world's most intractable problems: the scourge of disease in Africa." (Roger Bate, Business Week)

"Do You Believe in Magic?" - "Scientists are trying to figure out why even the skeptics among us cling to lucky numbers, special game-day clothing and other odd rituals." (New York Times)

Nothing too unusual -- just look at all the ridiculous things people are afraid of and then realize superstition remains a large influence for a great many people.

Inflated 'risks': "Deadly cancer agent lurks unnoticed in homes" - "Each year, almost 20,000 people die from lung cancer caused by radon exposure in the home, according to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency; and according to the U. S. Surgeon General, radon in the home is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking and the leading cause for nonsmokers. Although exposure can be avoided, only one in five homeowners has actually tested their dwellings for radon. The EPA and Florida's Department of Health are encouraging Floridians to get this mission accomplished." (Miami Herald)

"Fat kids picked on again" - "Last week, we were engulfed by news reports headlining: “High Rate of Overweight and Obesity Found in Children Having Surgery.” They were all taken from the same University of Michigan Health System press release." (Junkfood Science)

"Families do not cause anorexia nervosa" - "PITTSBURGH, Jan. 22 -- Misstatements and ignorance claiming that families "cause" eating disorders is like blaming parents for diabetes or asthma or cancer says an international group of eating disorders researchers. Recent damaging statements by fashion model Gisele Bundchen stating that unsupportive families cause anorexia nervosa only perpetuate misconceptions and further stigmatize eating disorders. Contrary to her claim, there is no scientific evidence that families cause anorexia nervosa. In fact, the researchers are finding that anorexia nervosa is far more complex than simply wanting to be slim to achieve some fashionable slender ideal. The data show that anorexia nervosa has a strong genetic component that may be the root cause of this illness." (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center)

"A burning question: Some fear that the closure of the state's farthest south sawmill eventually could lead to massive Sierra wildfires." - "... The pace of the action was frantic. But it was also misleading. For by June, the Sierra Forest Products mill here may be out of business, stilled by years of dogged environmental opposition that have throttled the flow of national forest timber from the southern Sierra Nevada. If that happens, something more may disappear than the last sawmill south of the Tuolumne River. With it could go the best hope of managing the forest by thinning the dense stands of smaller trees sapping the health from the Sierra Nevada and fueling massive wildfires." (Sacramento Bee)

"A Bird’s-Eye View of Ski Trails’ Perils" - "While a ski trail can provide plenty of enjoyment (at least when there is enough snow to cover it), from an environmental standpoint it is a scar on the landscape. This is especially true for trails constructed below the tree line, where large patches of forest must be clear-cut to make way for skiers." (New York Times)

More UN corruption: "Millions go missing from the world weather organisation" - "Millions of Swiss francs have been embezzled from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), according to an internal audit quoted by the Swiss press Monday." (AFP)

"Climate scientists feeling the heat: As public debate deals in absolutes, some experts fear predictions 'have created a monster'" - "Scientists long have issued the warnings: The modern world's appetite for cars, air conditioning and cheap, fossil-fuel energy spews billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, unnaturally warming the world.

Yet, it took the dramatic images of a hurricane overtaking New Orleans and searing heat last summer to finally trigger widespread public concern on the issue of global warming.

Climate scientists might be expected to bask in the spotlight after their decades of toil. The general public now cares about greenhouse gases, and with a new Democratic-led Congress, federal action on climate change may be at hand.

Problem is, global warming may not have caused Hurricane Katrina, and last summer's heat waves were equaled and, in many cases, surpassed by heat in the 1930s.

In their efforts to capture the public's attention, then, have climate scientists oversold global warming? It's probably not a majority view, but a few climate scientists are beginning to question whether some dire predictions push the science too far." (Houston Chronicle)

"Notes in the Houston Chronicle" - "Roger and I are quoted in an article by Eric Berger (who has a good science/science journalism blog of his own) running today in the Houston Chronicle. It's an outgrowth of my AGU/climate scientist tension post from late December. It's interesting that I learned that the article was up from dueling emails in my inbox this morning – one from a (non-skeptic) climate scientist saying that I was right on, another saying that I must be in the pocket of Exxon." (Prometheus)

"Pielke’s Comments on Houston Chronicle Story" - "Kevin Vranes and I are quoted in a Houston Chronicle story today on the "overselling" of climate science. Kevin just posted his reactions. I have a few reactions as well." (Prometheus)

Here's Seth "Boring Theme" again: "Report has 'smoking gun' on climate" - "WASHINGTON — Human-caused global warming is here — visible in the air, water and melting ice — and is destined to get much worse in the future, an authoritative global scientific report will warn next week. "The smoking gun is definitely lying on the table as we speak," said top U.S. climate scientist Jerry Mahlman, who reviewed all 1,600 pages of the first segment of a giant four-part report. "The evidence ... is compelling." (Associated Press)

Several correspondents have remarked on how this "science by press leak" series looks more like a viral marketing campaign than a serious report and we'd have to agree.

history2006.gif (74170 bytes) Regarding how "compelling" the report is we'd note firstly that we still have no better idea of the planet's mean temperature (current precision is about ± 0.7 °C, roughly the same as estimated warming over the last century or two). With the closure of rural recording points and relocation and urbanization of others trends are unclear and the result of significant massaging of unknown efficacy. Curiously, after an allegedly "record" year, our thermometric averaging of just over 1,000 METAR records suggests the last year to have been within a few hundredths of the expected 14 °C, suggesting warming to be highly dependent on time series selected and methodology employed. Secondly, note that we don't even know if a global mean temperature estimate is a particularly useful metric.

On the "smoking gun" we've heard this claim before, only to see it crash and burn when real data was collected. Here's a recent example:

The infamous "smoking gun," from bombshell to bomb...

In Earth's Energy Imbalance: Confirmation and Implications Hansen, et al, state: Our climate model, driven mainly by increasing human-made greenhouse gases and aerosols, among other forcings, calculates that Earth is now absorbing 0.85 ± 0.15 watts per square meter more energy from the Sun than it is emitting to space. This imbalance is confirmed by precise measurements of increasing ocean heat content over the past 10 years.

The associated media release is entitled "Earth’s Energy Out of Balance: The Smoking Gun for Global Warming"

When that paper was written the model output was a fair wiggle-fit with Willis (2004) and Levitus (2004).

So, Hansen's model is dumping heat into the oceans at roughly 0.8 Wm-2 and the bulk ocean heat rise mid-1993 - mid-2003 sort of matched that -- if only the world would remain constant and conform to the models we'd have this "global warming" thing sorted. Like all happy accidents, however, this good thing came to an end, too.

Lyman et al (2006), using updated data from the same source, show that the period 2003-2005 involves a sudden ocean cooling at a rate of -1.0 ± 0.3 Wm-2 over the period, which means Hansen's model is calculating wrongly in both magnitude and sign. No one expected this loss of one-fifth of the heat stored in the ocean since 1955 and no model predicted it. Its cause is unclear but we appear to be witnessing Earth dumping heat to space via the atmosphere.

Now Hansen's model has three years of data (to date) where it's incorrectly dumping heat into the oceans at a rate of >0.8 Wm-2 when it should have been removing it at -1.0 Wm-2, making net error of +1.8 Wm-2 over more than 70% of the planet -- call it excess global forcing of at least 1.25 Wm-2 for that period.

Lyman et al. go so far as to state: Including the recent downturn, the average warming rate for the entire 13-year period is 0.33 ± 0.23 W/m2 (of the Earth's total surface area). Think about that for a moment -- that's just 0.1 - 0.56 Wm-2.

"Washington's sudden climate change" - "As Bush and Congress tackle carbon dioxide emissions, they need to set a pace and costs based on sound science." (The Christian Science Monitor)

No sound science suggests any amount of carbon constraint can make a measurable difference to global mean temperature and probably not to the climate either (not necessarily the same thing).

"When John Meets Al" - "Four major bills have recently been offered in the Senate calling for mandatory controls on carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas. And last week, 10 big companies, including General Electric, Alcoa and progressive utilities like PG&E of California, joined in an informal coalition to press Congress and President Bush for action.

All of this has been accompanied by considerable fanfare. But at least as important was a quiet little letter to the members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce from its new chairman, John Dingell.

A Michigan Democrat who in recent years has opposed stronger fuel economy standards for automobiles, Mr. Dingell is, at best, agnostic on global warming. But he said he would put climate change at the top of the committee agenda this year and, for good measure, would invite Al Gore — whose documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” has raised public awareness of the issue — to testify first." (New York Times)

Good luck, Al generally reneges even when he accepts invitations to discuss -- apparently pontificating in a totally controlled environment is Al's limit.

Viral misinformation: "Global warming, meet your new adversary" - "TAMPA - To help her presentation on global warming, Roberta Fernandez flashes a map of Florida. It shows the southern half of the state underwater, including Tampa Bay. "If Greenland melts the sea will rise 20 feet," says Fernandez, who calls herself a Climate Messenger. There are gasps in the audience of smart, but mostly uninformed staffers at a local mortgage and real estate firm who have given up their lunch hour to hear her message. Seven months ago she was just like them. But that was before she saw An Inconvenient Truth, former Vice President Al Gore's hit climate change documentary." (St Petersburg Times)

"Internal Rifts Cloud Democrats' Opportunity on Warming" - "The House Democrats had not quite finished their "100 hours" agenda when they met in the Capitol basement Thursday morning, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) was already looking ahead. As her colleagues ate bagels and turkey sausage, she warned that their next challenge would be a lot tougher than popular issues such as student loans and ethics reforms. For her next act, she planned to take on global warming.

Democrats, she explained, had to show a sense of urgency about the carbon emissions that threaten the planet, and so she was creating a select committee on energy independence and climate change to communicate that urgency. The new committee, she said, would help the caucus speak with one voice -- even if it trampled the turf of existing committees." (Washington Post)

Maybe... "Rain may mean it's goodbye, El Nino" - "HEAVY weekend rains across central and southeastern Australia may have signalled the end of the El Nino climate cycle, with the possibility of drought-breaking falls over coming weeks." (The Australian)

... but this is an object lesson in how good our models aren't yet -- despite the desperation with which the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is studied we still can't even agree much beyond its being significant. Run a dozen models (there are more than that) and you'll get a dozen different answers on the current/looming ENSO phase/strength. The UK Met Office is busily blathering about '07 being a strong El Niño year and likely to be yet another "hottest on record" while considered opinion Down-Under is that the El Niño is collapsing, with the year likely neutral verging on La Niña pattern. We'll wait and see but when the monsoon trough bends down into Central and Southern Australia, as just occurred, it has traditionally indicated a collapsing El Niño pattern.

"Recycled Nonsense on Disaster Losses" - "If you want an example of the sort of scientific exaggeration that should concern both scientists and advocates involved in the climate debate (but typically goes uncorrected), next week's Newsweek magazine has an article on the growing tab of disaster losses, which it attributes to global warming." (Prometheus)

"Aerosol pollution slows down winds and reduces rainfall" - "The winds that blow near the surface of the Earth have two beneficial effects: They provide a renewable source of clean energy and they evaporate water, helping rain clouds to build up. But aerosolized particles created from vehicle exhaust and other contaminants can accumulate in the atmosphere and reduce the speed of winds closer to the Earth's surface, which results in less wind power available for wind-turbine electricity and also in reduced precipitation, according to a study by Stanford and NASA researchers." (Stanford University)

Hmm... and another name for reduced wind speed would be reduced storminess or extreme adverse weather events, no? So how does their claim of reduced wind speed fit with other researchers' claims of increasing wind speeds and adverse events?

"Christine Todd Whitman On The Importance of Land Use Changes" - "There is an interesting weblog on January 2 2007 by Christine Todd Whitman on the weblog of the Weather Channel. [You need to scroll down to see it]. It is titled “Land Use Changes” and has the text at the beginning of her weblog, “Land use changes have as great an impact as greenhouse gas emissions. Changes in farming practices, the deforestation of large areas and the rapid pace of development are stressing our environment and reducing nature’s natural ability to absorb carbon.” (Climate Science)

"Preserving a Species" - "Is assisted migration the way to save a species from global warming?" (New York Times)

"Experts: Alps Glaciers Will Melt by 2050" - "VIENNA, Austria - Glaciers will all but disappear from the Alps by 2050, scientists warned Monday, basing their bleak outlook on mounting evidence of slow but steady melting of the continental ice sheets." (AP)

Oh boy... despite the title they're actually talking about carbon dioxide: "Scientists map air pollution using corn grown in US fields" - "Irvine, Calif., Jan. 22, 2006 -- Scientists at UC Irvine have mapped fossil fuel air pollution in the United States by analyzing corn collected from nearly 70 locations nationwide." (University of California - Irvine)

"Industry executives call on Bush to accept action against climate change" - "WASHINGTON - Chief executives of 10 major corporations urged Congress on Monday to require limits on greenhouse gases this year, contending voluntary efforts to combat climate change are inadequate. The call for immediate action came on the eve of President Bush's State of the Union address in which he is expected to reiterate that the industry on its own is making progress in curtailing the growth of heat-trapping emissions without the need of government intervention. But the executives and leaders of four major environmental organizations said in a letter to Bush that mandatory emissions caps are needed to reduce the flow of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere." (Associated Press) | Business smells whiff of money in climate change (Reuters)

Um... no. Industry executives call on Bush to stick it to their competitors and distort the market in their favor -- very different thing entirely, despite hiding under a "green" cloak.

"Slide in carbon prices gives firms less reason to reduce emissions" - "In a fresh blow to the discredited EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), carbon prices have fallen to their lowest level ever, reducing the incentive for companies to cut pollution levels." (London Independent)

"Climate scheme is too expensive, says energy watchdog" - "A key part of the government's climate change strategy has come under fire from energy industry regulator, Ofgem, which said the existing scheme to increase electricity generation from renewable sources was too expensive and should be reformed." (The Guardian)

"California businesses seek clarity on state's global warming law" - "SACRAMENTO - Business leaders say uncertainty over how California will implement its new global warming law could delay business investments and force companies to cut jobs." (Associated Press)

"Fear that airlines will not reduce emissions yet charge its customers" - "London, Jan 19: Airlines, including firms who have lobbied aggressively against climate change legislation could net billions of euros under the greenhouse gas plan by passing costs to the consumers without any real drop in emissions, say economists studying the situation." (ANI)

"Life’s too short to be ‘carbon neutral’" - "Measuring everything we do by how much carbon it produces is a contemporary form of penance." (Josie Appleton, sp!ked)

"Norway: Arctic reserves are key energy supply, but environment must be protected" - "OSLO, Norway: Vast petroleum reserves in the Arctic are a key source of world energy, but development must also protect the fragile cold-weather environment and curb greenhouse gases, Norway's oil minister said Monday." (Associated Press)

It's nice to think the world will continue its thirteen thousand year thaw (the consequences of a reversal are simply too terrible to contemplate) but we wouldn't recommend counting on any more warming to make resource access easier.

Here we go again: "Russia accuses Total of environmental violations" - "Russian authorities on Monday accused the French oil group Total of violating the country's environmental regulations in its exploitation of a major energy field in the north of the country." (AFP)

"Gazprom: rising star of new Kremlin capitalism" - "The Russian energy giant fuels Moscow's agenda, blurring the line between business and politics." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"US Urged to Ramp up Geothermal Power" - "BOSTON - Mining heat stored in rocks in the Earth's crust could meet a growing portion of US electricity demand, replacing aging nuclear and coal plants with an environmentally friendly alternative, researchers say." (Reuters)

"MIT releases major report on geothermal energy" - "CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- A comprehensive new MIT-led study of the potential for geothermal energy within the United States has found that mining the huge amounts of heat that reside as stored thermal energy in the Earth's hard rock crust could supply a substantial portion of the electricity the United States will need in the future, probably at competitive prices and with minimal environmental impact." (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

"EU Divided over Car Emissions, Delays Proposals" - "BRUSSELS - The European Commission has delayed proposals on reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from cars by "a couple of weeks" because of disagreement over whether industry targets should be binding." (Reuters)

"Food makers set to embrace live bacteria" - "NEW YORK, Jan. 22 -- Other U.S. food makers are planning versions of the health-oriented item following the success of Dannon's Activia, a yogurt filled with live bacteria." (UPI)

January 22, 2007

"Funding almost out for bed nets that protect African kids from killer malaria" - "OTTAWA - A Canadian program that's saved thousands of Africans from deadly malaria has been scaled back while federal officials decide whether to renew funding. Critics say it's a bizarre case of bureaucratic foot-dragging in the face of overwhelming success. But the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) calls it due diligence to ensure money is well spent on a program it supports." (CP)

"DDT pendulum still swinging" - "Many African countries are reconsidering the once-banned insecticide DDT as a means of reducing the malaria death toll. However, concerns remain that use of the chemical will damage agricultural trade with European countries." (IPP Media)

"Fatal Exemption" - "The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) recently published a study that received little attention from the press and as a consequence, from the public. The study examined the incidence of whooping cough (pertussis) in children whose parents had chosen not to vaccinate them. The results were concerning." (Wall Street Journal)

"Faith in Quick Test Leads to Epidemic That Wasn’t" - "Experts say tests that led to a false alarm at a New Hampshire hospital are coming into increasing use." (Gina Kolata, New York Times)

"Global Battle Against Measles Is Said to Save 2.3 Million Lives" - "Unicef and the World Health Organization reported that the goal of halving measles deaths worldwide by 2005 has been surpassed." (New York Times)

"Billions of dollars saved in US by polio vaccination" - "Boston, MA -- A new study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) finds that polio vaccination in the United States has resulted in a net savings of over $180 billion, even without including the large, intangible benefits associated with avoided fear and suffering. This first study to retrospectively demonstrate the enormous benefits of polio vaccination appears as part of a special issue on polio in the December 2006 issue of Risk Analysis." (Harvard School of Public Health)

"California town hopes compromise will break fly's grip" - "COLTON, Calif. — This city lives in the shadow of a 1-inch fly that zooms around like a hummingbird. For more than a decade, the Delhi Sands flower-loving fly has been the only fly on the federal endangered species list, its best hope of survival pinned on prime breeding habitat in this city east of Los Angeles. For just as long, city officials have fought to get it off the list, arguing that restrictions on building on its habitat have cost tens of millions of dollars in economic development." (Associated Press)

"The Nation’s Ten Worst State Attorneys General" - "State attorneys general are among the most powerful office holders in the country. Unlike governors and legislators, each state’s top elected lawyer has fewer institutional checks on his or her powers. Yet, with the possible exception of former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, the power wielded by attorneys general receives very little scrutiny from the media, voters, and even tort reform advocates. The following discussion of the nation’s worst attorneys general is an effort to trigger much-needed attention to their most egregious abuses of power." (CEI)

"Sniffing Out the Truth" - "THE mysterious odor that blanketed Manhattan on Jan. 8 remains, well, a mysterious odor. Last week, officials in New York and New Jersey gave up on finding the source of the smell.

But we haven’t, and we think we can support one of the theories of the odor’s source that has been suggested. Based on our familiarity with the local aquatic environment and regional meteorology, we believe that the odor was caused by gases released from saltwater marshes in the metropolitan area." (New York Times)

"What You Can’t Smell Will Kill You" - "NOW that the mystery smells of Manhattan have abated, are you still wondering whether the Grim Reaper’s cologne will smell like maple syrup or rotten eggs when he comes for you?

Don’t worry, because here’s the thing: the more powerful the stench, the less likely it is to do harm. Indeed, the smell that’s typically associated with natural gas is deliberately put in to warn you of its otherwise odorless presence — you’ll call Con Edison before it all goes bang. In this case, it is not the thing that smells that will harm you, but the thing that doesn’t smell." (New York Times)

"Algae toxin identification unravels fish-kill mystery" - "A team of researchers from the Hollings Marine Laboratory in Charleston, S.C., has uncovered a subtle chemical pathway by which a normally inoffensive algae, Pfiesteria piscicida, can suddenly start producing a lethal toxin. The discovery, reported last week in Environmental Science and Technology,* could resolve a long-standing mystery surrounding occasional mass fish kills on the East Coast." (National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST))

"Texas study finds link between pollution, cancer" - "HOUSTON - A University of Texas study found a possible link between childhood leukemia and living close to the city's refinery row along the Houston Ship Channel, one of the study's co-authors said on Thursday." (Reuters)

"US toxic gases push British pollution over safety limit" - "TOXIC gases blown across the Atlantic from America are pushing British cities over the legal limit for air pollution and damaging people’s health, an official study shows." (London Times)

"Pesticides threaten cloud forests in Costa Rica - new study" - "Pesticides from coffee and banana cultivation are accumulating in Costa Rica's biodiverse cloud forests according to research published earlier this month in Environmental Science & Technology (ES&T). The findings have implications for conservation efforts in both the Central American country and in other parts of the world." (mongabay.com)

"Cutting trans fats confounds chains: McDonald's working on new taste for fries" - "ATLANTA — Unhappy customers started calling soon after McDonald's announced plans in 2002 to reduce trans fats in french fries. They no longer liked the taste of the fries. Ditto for the oil. They missed one key fact: McDonald's hadn't introduced the revamped fries yet. In fact, the fast-food giant still is searching for a trans fat-free oil that won't change the taste of its famous fries. Tinkering with a favorite food carries risks. That's true even when the changes are good for customer health. Trans fats add texture, freshness and flavor. But they also raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol, making them even more dangerous than saturated fats, some researchers say." (Cox News Service)

"The country’s most massive childhood obesity program — has it helped children?" - "Two bills were filed this week, one attempting to repeal the 3-year old Arkansas law that has required schools to measure children’s body mass index (BMI) and the other to make it voluntary and at parents’ request. Concerns that the program misdirects needed academic resources and is labeling children and leaving them traumatized was driving these moves. News stories reported that Governor Mike Bebe would support both of these initiatives." (Junkfood Science)

"Fizzy Fruit Hopes Bubbles Tickle Kids' Appetites" - "Better-for-you snacking has come down to this: fresh fruit all but guaranteed to make kids belch. It's Fizzy Fruit — whole grapes or slices of apples or pineapples carbonated in a secret process with the same carbon dioxide that's in soft drinks but without added sugar." (USA TODAY)

"How many of us restrict our foods, count calories or talk about bad foods?" - "Another university reports that eating disorders are widespread among students. But there is more to this story. The professionals at the University of California, Davis, believe that eating disorders and body image oppression can be prevented and curtailed through education, outreach, support and intervention. But they face a serious challenge. The California Aggie reports:" (Junkfood Science)

"In Defense of the Non-Non-Fat Diet" - "The primary culprit in American fatness is not sloth or high-caloric food, says sociologist Barry Glassner; it is binge eating by folks racked with shame induced by food-idealist propaganda. "Blinded by the lithe," puns Mr. Glassner in "The Gospel of Food," we are prey to no end of guilt trips, food fads and pure myths. In the process, we're losing our ability to appreciate one of life's great pleasures: eating." (Wall Street Journal)

"Thick spread of blame for fat snacks" - "THEY are some of Australia's most trusted household brands. But as part of a campaign against childhood obesity, the independent consumer watchdog is naming and shaming the food manufacturers who are making children fat." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"When schools grade looks" - "A news story from Hyannis, Massachusetts last week illustrated the upset created among parents and children when school officials measure a child and issue a fat letter. More importantly, it demonstrated the misinformation that these programs promote about children’s weight and why parents are increasingly thinking twice before allowing their children’s BMI (body mass index) to be measured." (Junkfood Science)

"Obesity may reduce risk of heart failure death" - "NEW YORK - Obese patients hospitalized with heart failure tend to fare better than their lean counterparts, new research suggests." (Reuters Health)

"Food for thought: Status has its rewards" - "What do these recent news stories have in common — A judge advises a defendant to call someone a “fat bastard;” trendy restaurant diners are seated according to their color, age and fatness; fat kids tell what their life is like at school; and Nobel prize winners are found to live longer?" (Junkfood Science)

"Banned: ice slides in the school playground" - "GLOBAL warming has made them a rarity, but health and safety regulations are consigning them to history. The age-old schoolyard pastime of fashioning patches of snow and ice into frozen slides to hurl yourself down, ignoring grazed knees and bruised heads, has fallen victim to 21st-century bureaucracy." (The Scotsman)

"The Weather Channel Climate Expert Refuses to Retract Call for Decertification for Global Warming Skeptics" - "Despite receiving over 1000 comments by the public (as of 9am ET Friday), most of them harshly critical of Cullen’s call for suppressing the voices of manmade global warming skeptics [http://climate.weather.com/blog/9_11396.html] The Weather Channel’s climate expert has refused to retract her call for scientific decertification of global warming skeptics but instead blamed the whole controversy on “spin.” (E&PW)

“The Weather Channel” Mess - "Well, well. Some “climate expert” on “The Weather Channel” wants to take away AMS certification from those of us who believe the recent “global warming” is a natural process. So much for “tolerance”, huh?

I have been in operational meteorology since 1978, and I know dozens and dozens of broadcast meteorologists all over the country. Our big job: look at a large volume of raw data and come up with a public weather forecast for the next seven days. I do not know of a single TV meteorologist who buys into the man-made global warming hype. I know there must be a few out there, but I can’t find them. Here are the basic facts you need to know:" (James Spann)

Nuremberg trials and decertification of climate skeptics (The Reference Frame)

Weather Channel Issues Ultimate Professional Insult (Watts up with that?)

Death, death, death to the skeptics (POWERblog)

So much for embargoes -- here's The Star with the same old... "Landmark UN study backs climate theory" - "2,000 scientists all but end the debate: Human activity causes global warming." (Toronto Star)

... 'science by press leak' nonsense. What the summary for policymakers will say is that "Human activities since 1750 have very likely exerted a net warming influence on climate" -- as in "Big deal!" -- this is neither news nor cause for concern. Buried within the document are admissions we think we have a handle (scientific understanding) on carbon dioxide and methane, some idea on ozone and solar influence and little to none on water vapor, albedo, direct and indirect aerosol effects and contrail cirrus -- as in: we're still making guesses based on woefully inadequate understanding of the system.

What is not included in the next doorstopper is any mention of the recent discovery of significant contemporary oceanic cooling -- something which renders moot many of the conclusions regarding roughly 70% of the planet (its omission is not a subterfuge but simple logistics of the Argus Project data publication being after the consideration for review cutoff date).

Presumably the above rubbish article is meant to create the appropriate hysteria so that people don't notice that even the IPCC has decided they can no longer maintain the absurd extreme scenarios and have actually reduced the (still ridiculous) top end warming guesstimates by more than 20%, returning to the same "shrug of the shoulders" range we had in '92 (up to 4.5 °C warming by 2100, with a likely value of 3 °C -- translation: the billions poured into the development of the computer games we call "climate models" have not really advanced our predictive ability at all in the past 15 years).

II: "Global warming: the final verdict" - "A study by the world's leading experts says global warming will happen faster and be more devastating than previously thought." (Robin McKie, The Observer)

III: "New Warnings on Climate Change" - "The main international body on climate change is closing in on its strongest statement yet linking emissions from burning fossil fuels to rising global temperatures." (New York Times)

"Carbon Dioxide or Solar Forcing?" - "Natural or Anthropogenic? Which mechanism is responsible for global warming over the 20th century?" (Nir J. Shaviv, Sciencebits)

"Peer-reviewed global cooling" - "A large portion of physicists in Russia, especially solar physicists, have reached a "scientific consensus" - as others would call it - that the Earth will enter a period of global cooling in a couple of years and the temperatures will drop to the minimum sometime in the middle of this century." (The Reference Frame)

"Another boffin jumps off the warming ship" - "Add another world-renowned scientist to the list of man-made global warming skeptics. Nigel Weiss, professor emeritus at the University of Cambridge’s department of applied mathematics and theoretical physics, and past president of the Royal Astronomical Society, is a sunspot guy. He argues that the world will be soon facing a cooling period." (POWERblog)

"Are you getting warmer or colder on the climate front?" - "Abandon hype, all ye who enter here! I am a reasonable, non-committed man. On the subject of climate change, that puts me in a decided minority. The world seems to be divided between the rabid believers and the rabid sceptics. Fundamentalists both, they can hardly communicate with each other. What on earth are we agnostics to do?" (Roger Bootle, London Telegraph)

"Top scientist criticises climate-change teaching" - "The teaching of climate change and global warming in schools is dogged by "omission, simplification and misrepresentation", leading scientists have claimed." (London Independent)

"Geoffrey Lean: Is this why Blair is staying on?" - "The Prime Minister now believes that the first six months of this year could be the "tipping point" in finally getting international agreement to take serious steps to combat the climate change - including, unlikely as it might seem, from President Bush. And, though I have been critical enough of his failure to match his words with deeds in the past - especially in failing to take on his White House war-mate on the issue - I have to admit that, for once, he does seem to be bringing effective pressure to bear." (London Independent)

"Kyoto protocol: third millikelvin" - "If you look at the Kyoto counter, you will see that the total temperature increment hypothetically subtracted from the global temperature in 2050 has just surpassed three negative millidegrees centigrade! Congratulations to everyone. It's an exceptional moment of human history." (The Reference Frame)

"An economic suicide pact for Europe and the US" - "Europeans have worked themselves into such a lather over "climate chaos" that they've set themselves up for a head-on collision between eco-ideology and economic reality. With the new Democratic Congress poised to ram through heavy-handed climate legislation, the US may be heading down the same path.

At long last, European economic ministers and CEOs are realizing they cannot meet even current Kyoto commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions 5% below 1990 levels, by 2012. They are voicing growing concern that Kyoto will hammer consumers and living standards, and send facilities and jobs to China, India and other nations that aren't required to cut emissions.

Despite lofty green rhetoric, Spain is some 20% above its target, Italy 15% – Austria 25 percent. At "just" 7% above its target, Germany faces a future with no nuclear power (by law it must shut down all reactors by 2020), no coal-fired generators (greenhouse gases), little hydroelectric (4% of its total electricity), unreliable natural gas (Russia controls the spigots), and forests of gigantic, undependable wind turbines." (Paul Driessen, Enter Stage Right)

Eye-roller of the moment: "Storm risks for Florida rise with global temperatures, researcher says" - "Floridians shouldn't expect a return to an era of temperate climates and fewer storms, research from a top risk modeling firm says." (Miami Herald)

The big lie getting bigger: "The Insurance Climate Change" - "Coastal homeowners in the East are losing their policies or watching premiums skyrocket. Carriers say that global warming is to blame." (Newsweek)

"Europe Cleans Up" - "A day after "Kyrill" battered Europe with hurricane-force winds, the continent is struggling to get back to normal. With oil spills, ships threatening to sink, computer viruses and damage estimates in the billions, that may take awhile." (Der Spiegel)

No, they aren't really blaming computer viruses on the storm.

"Climate Change Seen Harsh in Latam, Africa, Canada" - "ZURICH - Central and South America, central Africa and northern Canada are likely to be hardest hit by climate change in the period from 2071 to 2100, an index compiled by scientists at Swiss university ETH showed." (Reuters)

If the consequences of actions being driven by these computer games weren't so devastating this'd be funny. These are guesses regarding somewhat less than 4 Watts per meter squared change in forcing estimated for a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide -- let's see what Hansen et al have to say about their state-of-the-art GISS ModelE:

"Principal Model Deficiencies" - "ModelE [2006] compares the atmospheric model climatology with observations. Model shortcomings include ~25% regional deficiency of summer stratus cloud cover off the west coast of the continents with resulting excessive absorption of solar radiation by as much as 50 W/m2, deficiency in absorbed solar radiation and net radiation over other tropical regions by typically 20 W/m2, sea level pressure too high by 4-8 hPa in the winter in the Arctic and 2-4 hPa too low in all seasons in the tropics, ~20% deficiency of rainfall over the Amazon basin, ~25% deficiency in summer cloud cover in the western United States and central Asia with a corresponding ~5°C excessive summer warmth in these regions. In addition to the inaccuracies in the simulated climatology, another shortcoming of the atmospheric model for climate change studies is the absence of a gravity wave representation, as noted above, which may affect the nature of interactions between the troposphere and stratosphere. The stratospheric variability is less than observed, as shown by analysis of the present 20-layer 4°x5° atmospheric model by J. Perlwitz [personal communication]. In a 50-year control run Perlwitz finds that the interannual variability of seasonal mean temperature in the stratosphere maximizes in the region of the subpolar jet streams at realistic values, but the model produces only six sudden stratospheric warmings (SSWs) in 50 years, compared with about one every two years in the real world. ..." (Climate simulations for 1880-2003 with GISS modelE, 4.5Mb .pdf)

Now, this very expensive "best we have" model is incapable of getting the background "natural" state of the planet right to within 5-12 times the potential change in forcing and yet modelers persist in telling us they can accurately represent the state of the world's climate at the end of the century and with regional accuracy. Oh puh-lease!

Even worse: "The climate game says brace yourself" - "Scientist Myles Allen tells John-Paul Flintoff of the devastating effects that climate change will have on Britain — and how a Sim City-style game could have the answers." (Sunday Times)

Lonely voice of reason: "Consequences Of Missing Climate Forcings In Analyses Of Attribution Of Multi-decadal Surface Temperature Trends" - "There is a recent paper that illustrates how an extensive analysis of surface temperature change can miss critically important information." (Climate Science)

"Swiss Glaciers Melting Rapidly" - "BRUSSELS - Receding Alpine glaciers are appearing a sure telltale of global warming. In Switzerland, 84 out of 85 glaciers under observation became shorter in 2006." (IPS)

"Swiss to Probe use of Snow-Preserving Chemicals" - "ZURICH - The Swiss Environment Ministry said on Friday it would investigate the use and effect of chemicals which help preserve snow on ski runs in high temperatures." (Reuters)

"Surviving a False Spring" - "Frogs have started mating, wild hamsters can't sleep, and the mild climate intimates spring. How dangerous is Europe's warm winter for animals and plants? A look at the miracle of biological clocks." (Der Spiegel)

Killer whales exploit open water? Imagine that... "Canada Finds Killer Whales Drawn to Warmer Arctic" - "TORONTO - Melting Arctic sea ice may be attracting more killer whales to Canada's far northern waters, and that could mean some Inuit hunters will be competing directly with the majestic marine mammals for food, a group of researchers say." (Reuters)

"Mild winter rattles Russians" - "Psychiatrists warn lack of cold, sun, snow lead some into depression." (Toronto Star)

Short of expecting imminent ground invasion, a mild winter is a problem because... ?

Meanwhile: "Oil prices continue to slide" - "Oil prices dropped below US$ 51,80 a barrel to new 19-month lows yesterday on a report that OPEC powerhouse Saudi Arabia said further production cuts are not necessary right now. Crude oil has fallen more than 16 percent this year in a sell-off triggered by a historically warm winter in the Northern United States and sustained by large funds taking short positions in the market, or bets that prices will fall." (Mercopress)

Doh! "Kyoto, Heal Thyself" - "The city synonymous with green is struggling to live up to the agreement that bears its name." (Time)

"Dingell is overstepped on climate: Pelosi's special committee shares power on global issues" - "WASHINGTON -- The battle among House Democrats over global warming heated up Thursday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the formation of a special committee to hold hearings on climate change, a job that had been under the watch of U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich.

Dingell, who has long opposed tougher fuel economy standards because of concerns about their effect on Detroit automakers, will still maintain significant control over any global warming bill through his chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He has already asked former Vice President Al Gore to testify on climate change and told members last week that climate change would be a top priority through a series of hearings to be held soon." (Free Press)

"UK climate change costings 'too high'" - "The cost of combating climate change could be 40 per cent lower than the figure given in last year's watershed Stern report on the economic impact of global warming, according to research to be announced today. The research will be presented by Lars Josefsson, chief executive of Vattenfall, the Swedish power company, and is likely to attract particular attention as he is a special adviser on the environment to Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor." (Financial Times)

Nope... "ANALYSIS - US Carbon Market Takes Step Closer to Reality" - "NEW YORK - Carbon market developers hope a potential billion-dollar US market will take a step closer to reality now that major companies are urging legislation to set mandatory curbs on the gases linked to global warming." (Reuters)

... they're talking about realizing such a market, not approaching reality (in which case the scam would cease to exist).

"Carbon plans that make you cut down" - "When Andy Ross weighs up the merits of putting on a woolly jumper or turning up the heating on a cold January morning, his gas bill is not the only consideration; there's also the small matter of the planet to weigh up. The civil engineer is at the vanguard of a small but growing band of people across Britain who have decided to cut their own carbon emissions rather than rely on the 'green salve' of carbon-offsetting, the merits of which are increasingly questioned by environmentalists." (The Observer)

"Switch to Euro time would add to carbon emissions" - "THEY have complained about the effects on road accidents, the loss of daytime for the Western Isles - and now they have settled on the impact on global warming. Ministers have made an audacious attempt to enlist the support of the Green lobby in their attempts to resist a campaign to switch Britain's daylight hours to fit in with continental Europe. After years of sidestepping discussions about the benefits of the move, the government has now commissioned research that shows it would increase Britain's carbon emissions." (The Scotsman)

"German Econmin Says CO2 Rights Could be Auctioned" - "BERLIN - Germany could approve the auctioning of carbon emission rights, Economy Minister Michael Glos was quoted as saying on Sunday, suggesting his government could be about to change its policy on the matter." (Reuters)

"INTERVIEW - Dutch Unlikely to Challenge EU CO2 Plan in Court" - "THE HAGUE - The Dutch government is unlikely to challenge in court the European Commission's decision to reject its proposed emission plan for 2008-12 and demand a cut, the State Secretary of Environment said on Friday." (Reuters)

Not recommended: Fight global warming -- by killing your 'puter?

We haven't analysed this software but advise extreme caution. Anything which reduces cooling fan activity will shorten the life of your computer (wonder how more frequent replacement manufacture balances with the "global warming fight"?). Also be very aware that being too keen to stop your hard drive spinning is simply begging for data corruption/loss. Our advice? Get a life, stop worrying about nonsense and avoid gimmicky rubbish such as this software unless you particularly aim to prematurely age and/or destroy your hardware, not to mention destroying your work product through data loss/corruption.

"Hypocrisy Starts at Home" - "If you want a sense of how difficult it will be for 6.5 billion people to reduce, much less eliminate, their emissions of fossil fuels, consider this telling vignette from the University of Colorado, my home institution, here in Boulder." (Prometheus)

Gasp, egad... "Executive takes 10,000 flights … yet tells us to stay home" - "THEY TELL us we should fly less to help save the planet, but Scottish civil servants made 10,000 flights within Britain in the past year - more than twice the average for government agencies. A major investigation by the Sunday Herald has unmasked the Scottish Executive as by far the most frequent flier in the public sector. Officials take about 40 flights between Scotland and England every working day, belching out a massive 4000 tonnes of climate-wrecking pollution every year." (Sunday Herald)

Yeah, that'll save us... "Charles cancels ski trip to back green pledges" - "The Prince of Wales, criticised yesterday by a Cabinet minister for flying to New York to pick up an environmental award, has quietly cancelled his annual skiing trip to Klosters to cut greenhouse gases." (London Telegraph)

"Fuels to go 'low-carb'" - "UC Davis scientists are among those working to flesh out a campaign to curb greenhouse gas emissions." (Sacramento Bee)

Take the energy out of the energy supply... such clever little vegemites.

"EU at Odds Over Car Emissions Legislation" - "BRUSSELS - Differences within the European Commission over whether to impose binding targets for emissions of greenhouse gases on car manufacturers burst into the open on Friday ahead of a crucial decision next week." (Reuters)

Brazil has little faith in ethanol? "Petrobras announces 2 billion dollars in Argentina over 5 years" - "Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras’s Argentine unit Petrobras Energía SA “plans to invest more than two billion dollars over the next five years in Argentina” and start this year exploring oil on Argentina’s territorial sea, Petrobras Energía new Director General Carlos Fontes said." (Mercopress)

"Reuters Summit - Ethanol use has Environmental Downsides" - "SAO PAULO - Biofuels have the potential to lessen the impact of human civilization on the environment, but even the greenest of renewable fuels production is not without its dirty underbelly, experts said." (Reuters)

"Canada: PM to unveil wind, solar power plan" - "The federal Conservative government is to announce today a subsidy for electricity generated by wind, solar and other forms of renewable energy." (Toronto Star)

"JAPAN: Powering Ahead on Nuclear Technology" - "TOKYO - Rapidly growing energy needs in the world coupled with a warm winter season, attributed to global warming, have boosted Japan's nuclear power sector especially the export of nuclear technology to other countries, say experts here." (IPS)

"Udder Madness" - "Starbucks advertises itself as a coffee company with a social conscience. These are the folks who created the marketing gimmick of "fair trade" coffee for America's latte drinkers. So it's no shock that Starbucks announced this week that it will buckle under to pressure from left-wing activist groups and phase-out its purchases of milk containing artificial growth hormone.

In so doing the company will help legitimize one of the greatest consumer frauds of recent times: that milk from cows injected with the growth hormone rBGH causes cancer. The hormone's critics also allege that drinking this milk causes early puberty in girls. About 20% of dairy products today comes from cows injected with hormones, which causes them to produce more milk, which in turn reduces prices to consumers. But for 20 years, green and Naderite groups, such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest, have waged a campaign against rBGH. That campaign has duped millions of health-conscious Americans into paying 40 cents to $2 a gallon more for "hormone-free" milk." (Wall Street Journal)

"No Need to Mooove to rBGH-Free Milk" - "With frappuccinos and lattes already pushing $5, Starbucks is making changes that will cause coffee lovers to dig even deeper into their wallets -- needlessly. Starbucks has stopped using dairy products produced by cows given recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) in company-owned stores in a few parts of the country and hopes to eventually stop using it in all locations. In an era when "chemicals" and "toxins" are being banned and eliminated from all sort of products without scientific proof such bans are necessary, Starbuck's move away from rBGH-supplemented dairy is unsurprising." (ACSH)

"INDIA: Domestic biotech industry surpasses Chinese acreage" - "NEW DELHI: In Asia, India has emerged as the leader in cultivation of biotech crops, surpassing China with a record three-fold increase in its area under Bt cotton to 3.8 million hectare in 2006, Clive James of biotechnology advocacy group ISAAA said here on January 19." (Bharat Textile)

"Record biotech plantings in 2006" - "SAN FRANCISCO - A biotechnology advocacy group reported Thursday that a record number of biotech crops were planted worldwide last year, but critics complained the gains were more of the same: aimed at making corn, soy and cotton crops resistant to weed killers and bugs. None of the genetically engineered crops for sale last year were nutritionally enhanced and much of the output feeds livestock, which critics said undercuts industry claims that biotechnology can help alleviate human hunger." (Associated Press)

"Tater technicians in Idaho trying to build better potato" - "BOISE, Idaho - In the potato capital of the world, spud honchos made sizzling rich on America's french fry affair fill downtown offices. In the distance, potato fields sprawl east and west, and there are ample cafes to carbo-load on spuds served baked, stuffed, fried and, somewhat curiously, frozen into ice cream. And inside tucked-away laboratories in the town that hash browns built, teams of scientists are splicing potato genes, working to perfect Idaho's top cash crop with modern biotechnology." (Associated Press)

"Cloned beef vs. the ‘yuck factor’" - "Millions of Americans would pass on the meat and milk, but the FDA says they are safe." (The Kansas City Star)

January 19, 2007

"Asbestos Fireproofing Might Have Prevented World Trade Center Collapse" - "In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, I suggested in this column on Sept. 14, 2001 that many lives could have been saved if asbestos fireproofing been used in the World Trade Center." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Chinese scientists take malaria fight to Africa" - "GUANGZHOU, China - A drug programme that slashed malaria infections in parts of Cambodia is being extended to an African island, with Chinese scientists aiming to simultaneously treat all 40,000 residents, an expert said.

Although malaria-infected mosquitoes pass the parasite from person to person, the scientists say the real source of the disease is people, some of whom can carry it in their bodies for a long time without showing clear symptoms.

Moheli island, the test location, is among the Comoros group of islands at the northern mouth of the Mozambique Channel, about two thirds of the way between northern Madagascar and northern Mozambique." (Reuters)

"Uganda: Health First!" - "HEALTH CONCERNS Triumphed over economic fears last week in Uganda as the government approved the use of the controversial insecticide DDT to control malaria, which kills 100,000 people every year." (East African)

"Namibia: Govt Won't Give Up DDT" - "Despite the ongoing concern over the safety of DDT around the world, Namibia has been and still is safely using this insecticide in preventing malaria." (New Era)

Hmm... can the 'obesity epidemic' be traced to the war against salt? "Like salty food? Chances are you had low blood sodium when you were born" - "A new study concludes that low birthweight babies born with low sodium (salt) in their blood serum will likely consume large quantities of dietary sodium later in life. In the study, researchers also found that newborns with the most severe cases of low sodium blood serum consumed ~1700 mg more sodium per day and weighed some 30 percent more than their peers. These data, taken together with other recent findings, make it clear that very low serum sodium in pre-term and new born infants is a consistent and significant contributing factor for long-term sodium intake, a key marker for obesity." (American Physiological Society)

"Behind the mask: who really wrote that?" - "Do published articles about a clinical trial reflect what the original trial protocols set out to do? And are the authors of the published articles the same clinical investigators who conducted the research and designed the trial?" (Junkfood Science)

"Mercury spill replay" - "A second story appeared in The Flint Journal concerning the recent mercury spill from a broken thermometer at Carman-Ainsworth High School. The concerns raised deserve another mention because they echo those we often hear. They also illustrate how fears spread when experts fail to give parents the information they need to better understand the actual risks for their children." (Junkfood Science)

Hmm... "Chlorinated water exposure may boost cancer risk" - "NEW YORK - Drinking, bathing or swimming in chlorinated water may increase the risk of bladder cancer, a new study shows." (Reuters Health)

... it might actually show people exposed to chlorinated water live long enough to develop bladder cancer.

"Sanitation 'greatest medical milestone since 1840'" - "LONDON - Sanitation was voted the most important medical milestone in the past century and a half on Thursday in a poll conducted by the British Medical Journal, a prominent medical publication. Improved sewage disposal and clean water supply systems, which have reduced diseases such as cholera, was the overwhelming favorite of 11,341 people worldwide who responded to the BMJ survey." (Reuters)

Rent-a-crowd not new... "Need a Demonstrator? Now You Can Rent Them Online" - "A German Web site has come up a novel niche market -- renting out demonstrators for public protests. Good-looking protestors can help an organization get its political message to the public for as little as €145 a day." (Der Spiegel)

... but not always as blatant as this.

"The 2006 hurricane season was near normal" - "After the record setting season of 2005 with 27 named tropical cyclones, many meteorologists and hurricane specialists were forecasting another above average hurricane season for 2006, but it didn't happen. NASA scientists have learned several reasons why." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center)

Why? "A Coalition for Firm Limit on Emissions" - "WASHINGTON, Jan. 18 — Ten major companies with operations across the economy — utilities, manufacturing, petroleum, chemicals and financial services — have banded together with leading environmental groups to call for a firm nationwide limit on carbon dioxide emissions that would lead to reductions of 10 to 30 percent over the next 15 years." (New York Times)

Absolutely nothing this coalition of the misguided can do will achieve anything other than cost consumers and shareholders their money. Why should we tolerate these nitwits burnishing their green awards and egos at our expense? Will paying unnecessarily high costs make your life any better? Will reducing profits to pension funds ease your retirement? It most definitely will not make any difference to weather, global climate or mean temperature. What they are doing is about as wrongheaded as it gets.

Everyone's jockeying for position: "Firms Press Washington On Climate" - "WASHINGTON -- A new coalition of environmental groups and major corporations such as Alcoa Inc., General Electric Co., DuPont Co. and Duke Energy Corp. will boost pressure on Congress and President Bush next week to address climate change more rapidly.

The informal coalition plans a news conference Monday to publicize its recommendations, ahead of Tuesday's State of the Union address, according to a person familiar with the situation. It will suggest that Congress and the administration move quickly to address global warming through steps such as capping greenhouse-gas emissions and discouraging construction of conventional coal-burning power plants, which are a big source of carbon-dioxide emissions." (Wall Street Journal)

What a shame they're all dipping into your pockets to "address" a phantom menace. Perhaps it's time to let companies know there is a business cost to constantly sticking it to consumers while paying lip service to populist "causes".

Transcript and audio: How not to be interviewed with a "climate change denier" - Listen to "climate campaigner" Mark Linus panic, resort to ad hominem tactics and then lie as he confronts the sudden realization the great climate scam will inevitably fail, taking with it his self-created niche of relevance and political weight.

Transcript of debate on climate change between the Hudson Institute’s Dennis Avery concerning his new book, coauthored with Dr. Fred Singer, and climate change campaigner Mark Linus, with embedded audio link.

"Global warming 'just a natural cycle'" - "Global warming comes and goes in 1,500 year cycles which may have more to do with cosmic rays than fossil fuel emissions, according to a new book. If the genuine warming now being seen is caused by human emissions of carbon dioxide, it would have started earlier, according to the book by two veteran American climate sceptics, Fred Singer and Dennis Avery." (London Telegraph)

Uh-huh... "Charles flies into hypocrisy row" - "Prince Charles has been accused of hypocrisy for planning a 7,000-mile round trip to the US to pick up an environmental award later this month." (BBC)

"Comment on "Climate resets ‘Doomsday Clock’" - "The news release in the BBC by Molly Bentley entitled “Climate resets ‘Doomsday Clock’ “ is a disappointing example of the lack of balance in the media." (Climate Science)

"Cool heads needed on global warming" - "When near-hysteria takes over the sharemarket (the 1960s nickel boom, the 1987 boom/bust, the 1990s dotcom bubble), fuelled by unrealistic profit projections, older heads know a major turning point is near.

Emotions take over, fortunes are made on speculative stocks, and the man in the street is an expert. Anyone who decries the consensus of the day is at best ignored, or at worst vilified. And then the market "naturally" rights itself, order is restored (with much financial damage) and common sense rediscovered.

The parallels with the global warming discussion are unnerving. With Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, stirring emotions, and the Stern report and that of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change providing long-range scientific and financial projections from computer models, we are being pressed to believe that inaction on cutting fossil fuel use will bring disaster." (Len Walker, The Age)

"Global warming dissenters few at US weather meeting" - "SAN ANTONIO, Jan 18 - Joe D'Aleo was a rare voice of dissent this week at the American Meteorological Society's annual meeting in San Antonio. D'Aleo, executive director of the International Climate and Environmental Change Assessment Project, a group of scientists, doesn't think greenhouse gas emissions are the major cause of global warming and climate change. Researchers who hold such contrary views do not appreciate being lumped together with flat-Earthers. They are legitimate scientists who question the mainstream, but they are a distinct minority." (Reuters)

"A New Paper On The Role of Land Surface Processes Within The Climate System" - "A new article has been published that provides yet another excellent example of the major role of land surface processes within the climate system." (Climate Science)

Oh boy... "Climate Future Results Show Sweltering Britain" - "LONDON - Britain will regularly be crippled by heatwaves and floods this century, the first results of the world's biggest climate prediction experiment show. The experiment by the BBC and Oxford University began in February last year with an appeal for people to download a climate prediction programme which would run in the background when their computers were idle." (Reuters)

... Sometimes, Red Tops express it most eloquently: "BBC climate change experiment cocked - Garbage in, garbage out" - "THE BBC'S CLIMATE CHANGE EXPERIMENT started in February and almost 200,000 users around the World have signed up. With supercharged computers winding down after two months of number crunching, now is perhaps not the best time for the boffins at Oxford University to discover that the data they built into the model is flawed.

With around 200,000 PCs running the experiment non-stop for two months, it looks very much as if the BBC experiment is making more of a contribution to global warming than scientific knowledge." (The Inquirer) | Error discovered in the BBC Climate Change Experiment (ClimatePrediction.net)

Here we go again: "BBC links to huge climate project" - "The BBC is inviting viewers to join the world's biggest online climate prediction project. Climateprediction.net has already been running for two years and has generated forecasts on the likely extent of climate change." (BBC)

Why? What makes the Beeb think it's improved any from their last stupid season promo, which we wrote up like this Jan. 27, '05:

Hey lookit! "Alarm at new climate warning" - "Global temperatures could rise by as much as eleven degrees Celsius, according to one of the largest climate prediction projects ever run. This figure is twice the level that previous studies have suggested. The scientists behind the project, called climateprediction.net, say it shows there's no such thing as a safe level of carbon dioxide. The results of the study, which used PCs around the world to produce data, are published in the journal Nature." (Richard Black, BBC) | Soaring global warming 'can't be ruled out' (NewScientist.com news service) | Climate models: net gains (Nature)

Well blimey mate! Distributed computing project demonstrates that multiple machines running programs hard coded to guesstimate warming in response to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide do, in fact, guesstimate such warming! How do they do it?

But wait! There's more! So "alarming" is this discovery (according to Black) that they've decided there's "no such thing as a safe level of carbon dioxide" - the very stuff of life that feeds the plant life that supports our biosphere (stop exhaling, that man!). Well, now we know CO2 to be so dangerous, so directly causal, we can solve a few other little mysteries like anomalous warming around the Antarctic Peninsula - it must be all those blasted minke whales exhaling around there and causing the collapse of the Larsen B ice shelf! Perhaps we can trade greenhouse credits for whaling - that'll help save the planet.

To be serious, for a moment, just how good are these computer games we call "climate models?" With a timely review of Uncertainty requirements in radiative forcing of climate (Schwartz, S.E., Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association 54: 1351-1359), co2science.org reminds us that modeled climate uncertainty has gone from a range of 1.5-4.5 °C, through the now more commonly cited 1.4-5.8 °C and here we have hysterical stories based on such definitive "prediction" as temperature increment from <2-11 °C. Twenty five years advance in modeling climate has "narrowed" our uncertainty range from 3 °C to a whopping >9 °C! A precision, incidentally, which is less than that exhibited by the number of candles on my wife's birthday cake.

On a positive note, the ridiculous emissions of our shrieking Jeremiads suggest that the great global warming scare has just about run its course. About time too!

From memory <0.1% of these model runs produced the +11 °C warming that made headlines - only a fraction of the number that produced ice ages (crashed model, according to the headline-hungry climateprediction.net group), which suggests their you-beaut computer game is far from stable, let alone capable of producing meaningful 'predictions'.

Is their virtual world toy far too sensitive to CO2 forcing? Work it out for yourselves - the phase 2 runs were supposed to simulate climate between 1950 and 2000 and what did they do without an instantaneous doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide? Most declined slightly or crashed into ice ages.

Another year, same stupid alarmism.

"Multi-scale analysis of global temperature changes and trend of a drop in temperature in the next 20 years" (.pdf) - "Summary: A novel multi-timescale analysis method, Empirical Mode Decomposition (EMD), is used to diagnose the variation of the annual mean temperature data of the global, Northern Hemisphere (NH) and China from 1881 to 2002. The results show that: (1) Temperature can be completely decomposed into four timescales quasi-periodic oscillations including an ENSO-like mode, a 6-8-year signal, a 20-year signal and a 60-year signal, as well as a trend. With each contributing ration of the quasi-periodicity discussed, the trend and the 60-year timescale oscillation of temperature variation are the most prominent. (2) It has been noticed that whether on century-scale or 60-year scales, the global temperature tends to descend in the coming 20 years. (3) On quasi 60-year timescale, temperature abrupt changes in China precede those in the global and NH, which provides a denotation for global climate changes. Signs also show a drop in temperature in China on century scale in the next 20 years. (4) The dominant contribution of CO2 concentration to global temperature variation is the trend. However, its influence weight on global temperature variation accounts for no more than 40.19%, smaller than those of the natural climate changes on the rest four timescales. Despite the increasing trend in atmospheric CO2 concentration, the patterns of 20-year and 60-year oscillation of global temperature are all in falling. Therefore, if CO2 concentration remains constant at present, the CO2 greenhouse effect will be deficient in counterchecking the natural cooling of global climate in the following 20 years. Even though the CO2 greenhouse effect on global climate change is unsuspicious, it could have been excessively exaggerated. It is high time to re-consider the trend of global climate changes." (Meteorol Atmos Phys 95, 115–121 (2007))

This is what they've been missing? "Torrential rain and 100mph gales claim 10 lives as the winter finally blows in" - "The violent storms that are becoming an increasingly common feature of Britain's unpredictable climate, killed at least 10 people yesterday, including a two-year-old boy. Winds, which reached 100mph in some parts of the country, caused the deaths of four people on the roads, while the boy and a woman were crushed to death in separate incidents when walls were blown down on top of them." (London Independent) | 100mph storms leave trail of death and chaos (London Telegraph)

"Storm Wreaks Havoc in Northern Europe" - "With its hurricane-force winds, the storm German meteorologists dubbed "Kyrill" is leaving a trail of destruction in its wake as it travels across Northern and Central Europe. Twelve have been killed so far, but there have been no estimates of the total damage." (Der Spiegel)

Naturally, The Globe spins it as cold by warming.

"On the Role of Global Warming on the Statistics of Record-Breaking Temperatures" (.pdf) - "We theoretically study the statistics of record-breaking daily temperatures and validate these predictions using both Monte Carlo simulations and 126 years of available data from the city of Philadelphia. Using extreme statistics, we derive the number and the magnitude of record temperature events, based on the observed Gaussian daily temperature distribution in Philadelphia, as a function of the number of years of observation. We then consider the case of global warming, where the mean temperature systematically increases with time. Over the 126-year time range of observations, we argue that the current warming rate is insufficient to measurably influence the frequency of record temperature events, a conclusion that is supported by numerical simulations and by the Philadelphia data. We also study the role of correlations between temperatures on successive days and find that they do not affect the frequency or magnitude of record temperature events." (ArXivPhysics November 2006)

"Rotting leaf litter study could lead to more accurate climate models" - "Berkeley -- Over the past decade, in numerous field sites throughout the world, mesh bags of leaf and root litter sat exposed to the elements, day and night, throughout the four seasons, gradually rotting away.

Now, those bags of decomposing organic matter have allowed a research team led by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, and Colorado State University to produce an elegant and simple set of equations to calculate the nitrogen released into the soil during decomposition, which in turn could significantly improve the accuracy of global climate change models." (Colorado State University)

"Deep in arctic mud, geologists find strong evidence of climate change" - "BUFFALO, N.Y. -- How severe will global warming get? Jason P. Briner is looking for an answer buried deep in mud dozens of feet below the surface of lakes in the frigid Canadian Arctic. His group is gathering the first quantitative temperature data over the last millennium from areas in extreme northeastern sections of the Canadian Arctic, such as Baffin Island. Every spring, Briner, Ph.D., assistant professor of geology in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University at Buffalo, travels to the region to sample Arctic lake sediments and glaciers and analyzes them to reconstruct past climates.

... For example, during the 'Holocene thermal maximum,' the warmest period of the past 10,000 years, the Arctic average temperature was two to three degrees warmer than it is today, while the global average was only a degree or so warmer. "But based on lake sediments from Baffin Island, our data show that this area of the Arctic experienced temperatures five degrees warmer than today," said Briner." (University at Buffalo)

So, current temperatures are hardly "unprecedented"?

"Arctic Forecast: Nordic Sea Ice Expansion" - "What’s the first image that comes to mind when you hear the term “global warming”? The most common is that of melting ice. That image is then easily cultivated by climate change alarmists who would like you to translate it into a downward spiraling Arctic ecosystem and a sputtering global oceanic circulation. (The image that comes to our mind is that of Al Gore recently pretending to be a research professor on The Oprah Winfrey Show.) What we hear little about from the global warming crusade is research findings that suggest that a measure of the recent atmospheric warming is part of a natural cycle or that the impacts are far less than what is portrayed. Well, that’s what we at the World Climate Report are here for." (WCR)

"Half-baked Reporting on Greenland" - "In VERY large type, the New York Times of January 16 proclaimed “The Warming of Greenland.” As has become increasingly typical of their reporting on polar climate, that’s about half of the “news that’s fit to print.” (WCR)

"Will Al Gore Melt?" - "Al Gore is traveling around the world telling us how we must fundamentally change our civilization due to the threat of global warming. Today he is in Denmark to disseminate this message. But if we are to embark on the costliest political project ever, maybe we should make sure it rests on solid ground. It should be based on the best facts, not just the convenient ones. This was the background for the biggest Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, to set up an investigative interview with Mr. Gore. And for this, the paper thought it would be obvious to team up with Bjorn Lomborg, author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist," who has provided one of the clearest counterpoints to Mr. Gore's tune." (Flemming Rose and Bjorn Lomborg, Wall Street Journal) [If you really can't access this any other way there's a .pdf here]

Silly: "Emission Impossible" - "Carbon offsets are a last resort, not an answer to climate change." (London Times)

That fiddling with carbon emissions can not adjust the global thermostat is true -- no argument. What carbon panickers and would be top down controllers need to explain is why we should pay any attention when the world disproves their unmitigated positive feedback fears each and every year. With every northern hemisphere summer the world experiences more warming than is possible from increasing carbon dioxide, far more so within that hemisphere. All the feared feedbacks occur, with reduced ice and snow (hence reduced albedo), increased evaporation, much warmer atmosphere to hold much more of that most important greenhouse gas, water vapor, and yet the feared runaway water vapor-driven greenhouse does not occur.

What are they smoking? "Surge in carbon levels raises fears of runaway warming" - "Carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere much faster than scientists expected, raising fears that humankind may have less time to tackle climate change than previously thought." (The Guardian)

Twaddle -- here's the monthly mean plot.

Don't these guys have real work to do? "CDC to tackle global warming health threat" - "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — better known for investigating disease outbreaks and campaigning to prevent injuries — has begun to tackle the health threats posed by global warming, a top agency official said Wednesday. The Atlanta-based agency this month is creating an action plan for addressing the potential public health risks posed by climate change, said Dr. Howard Frumkin, director of CDC's National Center for Environmental Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

This is almost as stupid as investigating "an outbreak of obesity" as Gina Kolata classically reported in the New York Times in June of '05. People live from the tropics to very high latitudes and the means of addressing climate extremes long known -- try affordable energy and development to provide local climate control in affordable housing (that old shelter with adequate heating/cooling thing).

"Buy More Blankets" - "Today, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi started up the infernal gears of the massive United States legislative machines – politico bosses and all – to pass a raft of legislation to stop global warming in its tracks. Meanwhile, on this very day, most of the nation including the sunbelt is plunged into the deepest, record setting freeze in modern times. (No matter what or why – you have to love the irony of it all….)" (Quantum Limit)

"INTERVIEW - US Senator Boxer Lays out Climate Change Plans" - "WASHINGTON -The head of the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee on Wednesday said she could take a piecemeal approach to tackling US greenhouse gas emissions rather than a single bill, with the aim of putting the first-ever mandatory caps on US emissions." (Reuters)

Good grief! "World faces megafire threat -- Australian expert" - "CANBERRA, Jan 19 - They burn like fire hurricanes on fronts stretching sometimes thousands of kilometres and with a ferocity that explodes trees and makes them impossible to extinguish short of rain or divine intervention. Bushfires like those which have raged through Australia's Southeast for two months and which struck Europe, Canada and the western United States in 2003 are a new type of "megafire" never seen until recently, a top Australian fire expert said on Friday." (Reuters)

"Schwarzenegger Signs Calif. Carbon Emissions Cut" - "SACRAMENTO, Calif. - California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an executive order Thursday to reduce carbon emissions from transportation fuels, a move intended to widen the development and use of alternative vehicle fuels in the nation's biggest state." (Reuters)

Oh dear... "You've checked the price and calorie count, now here's the carbon cost" - "Supermarket chain Tesco pledged last night to revolutionise its business to become "a leader in helping to create a low-carbon economy" with a raft of new measures to help combat climate change. In the most significant step announced yesterday, the UK's biggest retailer, which produces 2m tonnes of carbon a year in the UK, said it would put new labels on every one of the 70,000 products it sells so that shoppers can compare carbon costs in the same way they can compare salt content and calorie counts." | Explainer: Finding a carbon footprint (The Guardian)

... taking this farce to the next level. Really want to calculate your "carbon footprint"? Try here.

"We're here to save the planet (In our 4x4s, Bentleys and Porsches)" - "GUESTS at a £300-a-head climate change conference turned up in a stream of gasguzzling sports cars and 4x4s. Former US vice president Al Gore was the main speaker at yesterday's event in the Hilton Hotel in Glasgow. While the meeting was to address global warming, business leaders turned up in a range of flash motors including Bentleys, Jeeps and Porsches." (Daily Record)

"Stern tackles climate change for India" - "Sir Nicholas Stern, author of the British government's report on climate change, is to advise the Indian government on the issue, arguing that developed countries should bear the burden for a problem they created." (Guardian Unlimited)

Read: pretend problem misanthropists are trying to create...

"INTERVIEW - India Could Show the Way on Climate - UK Minister" - "LONDON - India could set the pace for key developing countries by moving to a low carbon economy and opening the door to a new deal on global warming, British Environment Minister David Miliband said on Thursday." (Reuters)

Australia's Climate is not Changing (Gust of Hot Air)

"Patrick to OK fees for power plants" - "Governor Deval Patrick is expected to announce today that Massachusetts will rejoin a group of other Northeast states that plan to combat global warming by charging power plants for emissions of so-called greenhouse gases. Patrick's predecessor, Mitt Romney, had dropped out of the program out of concern that the pollution fees would raise the state's already high electricity rates." (Boston Globe)

"Oregon ruling could affect Utah power plants" - "Oregon regulators have rejected a conditional PacifiCorp proposal to seek bids for new electricity generation, saying the company failed to prove its need for coal-fired power plants it planned for Utah and Wyoming. The Oregon Public Utility Commission's Tuesday ruling, while only an early step in the power company's bid request process, reinforced growing national concern about global warming and a trend toward investigating energy production alternatives." (Salt Lake Tribune)

"UK 'green power' programs a fraud, says consumer group" - "Green power in Great Britain is largely a fraud, according to the United Kingdom’s leading consumer group, the National Consumer Council, in a recent report, Reality or rhetoric? Green tariffs for domestic consumers.” (Ken Maize's POWERblog)

A scam, by any other name, ... "UK to tackle bogus carbon schemes" - "The UK government is to set standards for carbon offsetting schemes to bring "greater clarity" to the industry. The move comes as an increasing number of consumers try to limit the environmental impact of actions such as driving a car or flying by plane. However, carbon offsetting schemes have been attacked for a lack of transparency and inconsistent prices." (BBC)

... but with an official imprimatur: "New standards will raise carbon offset costs" - "Schemes that claim to offset the environmental damage of carbon emissions caused by activities such as driving and flying will become more expensive under a new government plan to raise standards across the industry." (Guardian Unlimited)

"UK's Brown Using Tax to Boost his Green Image - IATA" - "LONDON - British chancellor of the exchequer Gordon Brown was accused on Thursday of posturing as the head of the world's largest airlines grouping demanded to know how doubling the UK's air travel taxes would benefit the environment." (Reuters)

"Royalty Pains" - "The final big-ticket item in new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's first-100-hour agenda, to be taken up today, is an energy proposal that will do nothing to help achieve long-term energy security. Instead it will merely serve to satisfy Democratic bloodlust about "Big Oil" and the energy industry's recent high profits." (Max Schulz, TCS Daily)

"State tries to reduce turbine-related bird deaths" - "State agencies are on track to adopt guidelines this summer to reduce the number of eagles, hawks and owls that are killed by wind turbines and the lawsuits filed over those fatalities, officials said Thursday." (Press-Enterprise)

"The Risks of Farming" - "As more and more land has come under the plow, wild species suffer from loss of habitat, pesticides, excessive fertilizer, and other problems. New technologies, such as genetically modified crops, pose possible risks as well. Now, a method of risk assessment, published in this week's issue of Science, promises to help scientists and policymakers evaluate the dangers of agriculture to wildlife--as well as the potential success of government programs designed to redress the damage from traditional farming." (ScienceNOW Daily News)

"Despite new tools it's the same freeze battle" - "One hundred years ago, farmers fretting over a looming freeze would ignite bonfires in their orchards. Today, even in this age of genetically altered, cold-resistant plants and microclimate weather forecasts, farmers have a few more tools to protect against a cold snap but they are no less vulnerable to nature." (Ventura County Star)

"Feds Freeze Out Antidote, Costing Billions" - "SAN FRANCISCO -- Jack Frost taunted area farmers last week with blasts of arctic air that threatened several of central California's major farming areas. The direct losses in citrus alone could approach a billion dollars." (Dr. Henry I. Miller, TCS Daily)

"UK Scientists Downplay GMO Threat to Biodiversity" - "LONDON - Fears that switching to genetically modified (GMO) crops could harm the habitat of wild birds, insects and other plants may be overblown, British scientists who have developed a forecasting model say." (Reuters)

"Record biotech plantings in 2006" - "SAN FRANCISCO - A biotechnology advocacy group reported Thursday that a record number of biotech crops were planted worldwide last year, but critics complained the gains were more of the same: aimed at making corn, soy and cotton crops resistant to weed killers and bugs.

None of the genetically engineered crops for sale last year were nutritionally enhanced and much of the output feeds livestock, which critics said undercuts industry claims that biotechnology can help alleviate human hunger.

Still, the report prepared by the industry-backed International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications touted the record as evidence that crops engineered to cut pesticide use can ease poverty and financially benefit small farmers around the world." (AP)

January 18, 2007

Educated and stupid? "Timely vaccination dips as mom's education rises" - "NEW YORK - Young children whose mothers have college educations and higher incomes are less likely to be up-to-date with routine vaccinations than children with mothers with less education and lower incomes, a new study suggests." (Reuters Health)

"Can anything stop the superbug?" - "MRSA is already notorious for killing the elderly and frail. But now a new form of the 'hospital superbug' is spreading through our parks and playgrounds. You can catch it with a single scratch, and the drugs that used to hold out some hope are rapidly becoming useless." (The Guardian)

Yes. Next question?

"Experimenting on a new generation" - "When the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released its latest ruling, Screening and Interventions for Childhood Obesity, and a summary of the evidence, its six-member Childhood Obesity Working Group also published a weighty commentary concerning that evidence in the journal Pediatrics. What was remarkable about the Working Group’s statement was its outright condemnation of clinicians and professional organizations that support BMI screening of children and its palpable incense over the lack of quality evidence to support childhood obesity interventions." (Junkfood Science)

"Would you like some coffee with your milk?" - "If you were left feeling worried about the safety of your milk after hearing news that a specialty coffee retailer will no longer sell milk containing hormones, then you’ll be relieved to know it was just a marketing tactic in response to a high-pressure campaign by a special interest group; a group that has promoted similar scare campaigns over bird flu, mad cow and food safety.

The Reuter news story on Starbuck’s announcement gave the company’s marketing angle. However, it failed to report on what the scientists offer on the subject — irrefutable evidence that there is nothing to fear from hormones in our milk.

In case you missed it, Junkfood Science revealed the science in a recent post here." (Junkfood Science)

"UK must work with Asia or be left behind, says thinktank" - "British science could be sidelined within a decade unless better efforts are made to work with Asian countries, according to a series of reports launched today by the thinktank Demos." (The Guardian)

"Climate resets 'Doomsday Clock'" - "Experts assessing the dangers posed to civilisation have added climate change to the prospect of nuclear annihilation as the greatest threats to humankind." (BBC)

Funny, you'd think "global warming" should ameliorate "nuclear winter"...

Seriously, this whole warming thing has gotten way out of hand:

  1. unmitigated positive feedbacks are required to make the hypothesis work (because the physical properties of carbon dioxide are such that carbon dioxide-driven warming has almost run its course, even quadrupling current atmospheric levels will not add another degree of warming);
  2. the unmitigated positive feedbacks of increased evaporation leading to an increase in available water vapor and a slightly warmer atmosphere able to hold some of this increase availability demonstrably do not trigger a self-sustaining feedback loop in the real world;
  3. the fear-inspiring warming of the atmosphere, increase in evaporation, increase in atmospheric water load, reduction in albedo through decline in ice and snow fields claimed to be positive feedbacks actually occur every year;
  4. global mean temperature rises roughly 4 °C between January and July every year with the northern hemisphere summer season;
  5. the atmosphere in the northern hemisphere warms almost 10 °C over this period while the surface increases almost 12 °C -- this is far beyond any potential greenhouse warming;
  6. according to the enhanced greenhouse hypothesis Earth should be in irreversible greenhouse warming by the end of March -- every year;
  7. since this does not happen there must be mitigating negative feedback mechanisms in operation which are not incorporated into the enhanced greenhouse hypothesis;
  8. with the hypothesis demonstrably wrong there is nothing to be gained from "addressing" it, is there.

"Hawking warns: We must recognise the catastrophic dangers of climate change" - "Climate change stands alongside the use of nuclear weapons as one of the greatest threats posed to the future of the world, the Cambridge cosmologist Stephen Hawking has said." (London Independent)

"INTERVIEW - 2007 is Crunch Year on Climate - Environmentalist" - "LONDON - This will be a crunch year for action on the climate crisis, a leading environmental lobbyist said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

Our guess is that enviros can't believe their run of luck with a few warm years and are desperate to lock governments into stupid positions before inevitable cooling occurs.

"Weather Channel Climate Expert Calls for Decertifying Global Warming Skeptics" - "The Weather Channel’s most prominent climatologist is advocating that broadcast meteorologists be stripped of their scientific certification if they express skepticism about predictions of manmade catastrophic global warming. This latest call to silence skeptics follows a year (2006) in which skeptics were compared to "Holocaust Deniers" and Nuremberg-style war crimes trials were advocated by several climate alarmists." (E&PW)

Right... "Is the Freeze a Result of Global Warming?" - "According to the National Weather Service, 2006 was the warmest year on record in the history of the United States. Across the entire world, the annual temperatures are 1 degree warmer than they were at the beginning of the 20th century.

Most scientists agree that the planet is warming from a combination of naturally occurring climate cycles and manmade greenhouse gases. Is this freeze one or the other? We discovered that's not an easy question to answer.

Steve Lewis says, "There's not a single glacier that isn't receding." Lewis is a Fresno State earth science professor and is a firm believer in global warming. He points to the world's shrinking of glaciers and its rising temperatures in the oceans and on land as signposts. He says, "...about what the theory would predict for co2 and other green house gases and concentrations that we've also observed." (Nancy Osborne, ABC-30)

... a fanciful collection of statements here. "Not a single glacier..." not even the Hubbard? Lewis might be a firm believer but he doesn't seem to know much about the planet since a Californian freeze is most assuredly not a warming symptom.

While the EU chases the phantom menace of climate change: "Millions lack clean drinking water in Europe--UN" - "GENEVA - More than 100 million people in Europe, including the Balkans and the ex-Soviet Union, have no clean running water in their homes and thousands fall seriously ill each year as a result, U.N. agencies said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"Climate change to dominate Davos meeting" - "GENEVA - The world's elite will hold discussions on climate change and the Middle East next week at their annual rendezvous in the chic Swiss ski resort of Davos, this time with few distractions from Hollywood stars." (Reuters)

"Bills on Climate Move to Spotlight in New Congress" - "Democrats are increasingly determined to impose mandatory controls on carbon-dioxide emissions." (New York Times)

"Pelosi May Create Global Warming Panel" - "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, intent on putting global warming atop the Democratic agenda, is shaking up traditional committee fiefdoms dominated by some of Congress' oldest and most powerful members. She's moving to create a special committee to recommend legislation for cutting greenhouse gases, most likely to be chaired by Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., a Democratic leadership aide said Wednesday." (Associated Press)

Meanwhile: "Malibu hit by snow as cold front blankets California" - "The celebrity enclave of Malibu outside Los Angeles was given a rare sprinkling of snow on Wednesday as California remained in the grip of an arctic cold snap. A layer of snow blanketed hills in Malibu, a seaside town popular with entertainment industry celebrities which is situated by the Pacific Ocean and is famous for its beaches and year-round sunshine." (AFP)

"Snow forces closure of key California highway" - "Snow forced the closure of a major California highway north of Los Angeles on Wednesday as the state struggled under an arctic cold snap, transport authorities said." (AFP)

"Scores die, crops devastated in harsh US winter storms" - "Harsh winter weather dogged much of the United States Wednesday, leaving scores of people dead, hundreds of thousands without electricity and jeopardizing California's citrus crops." (AFP)

But the real disaster is... "North's mild winter gives a glow to economy" - "Warm temperatures may boost the GDP as US families and businesses save on heating bills and other winter necessities." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"The Complex Role of Dust In Weather and Climate" - "An interesting paper on the role of aerosols on weather has appeared. While the authors focus on short-term weather, the significance of their study to multi-decadal climate simulations is obvious since long term climate is the integration of short-term components of the climate system." (Climate Science)

Another inappropriate sojourn into the virtual realm: "Mapping out real impact of climate change" - "ENVIRONMENTALISTS have long warned that climate change will bring heatwaves and monsoon-like rains, causing chaos across the world, but for the first time a map has been drawn up showing how the planet will be affected. Swiss scientists used climate-modelling techniques to work out which areas will have the biggest increases and decreases in rainfall, and where the greatest temperature rises will occur." (The Scotsman)

"Indian Ocean Shift Seen Stoking Indonesia Droughts" - "OSLO - Indonesia and perhaps Australia risk more droughts because of shifts in Indian Ocean temperatures and stronger monsoons widely linked to global warming, scientists said on Wednesday. They said studies of 6,500-year-old fossil corals had helped to reveal unexpected links between monsoons, droughts and periodic cooling of the eastern Indian Ocean known as the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD)." (Reuters) | Climate change may boost monsoon and worsen droughts (NewScientist.com news service)

These "stronger monsoons" -- they'd be the same Indian Summer Monsoon Rains supposedly weakening, also due to "global warming"? At least the NS coverage eventually mentions the current contradictions.

Exploiting ecochondria: "Green sinners, get your indulgences here" - "There’s rampant green one-upmanship at my school gate. One mother confides her struggle to stretch an electric cable through the window to plug in her G-Whiz car to the mains, revealing in one stroke that she has both the cash to own a second car and the conscience to make it electric. But she is trumped by another who is “offsetting” all her family holidays, forever. Cue awed silence. In 2007 class snobbery has given way to competitive eco-atonement.

This is the year in which we will grapple with myriad schemes offering green redemption. We will find that some are not quite what they seem." (Camilla Cavendish, London Times)

The Indy's surprised? "White House resists calls for carbon emission caps" - "The White House has dashed hopes of a dramatic shift in climate change policy by George Bush, but says the President will lay out his strategy to combat global warming in next week's State of the Union address." (London Independent)

[Gasp] They don't say! "China ‘exploiting Kyoto loophole’" - "Factories in China and carbon traders are exploiting a loophole in climate change regulations that allows them to make big profits from greenhouse gas emissions trading. Chemical plants that reduce the amount of polluting HFC gases they release into the atmosphere receive “carbon credits” in return. Such credits can fetch $5 to $15 on the international carbon market." (Financial Times)

The [anti-]Australia Institute rides again: "Australia's Greenhouse Emissions Questioned" - "SYDNEY - Australia's greenhouse emissions could be almost 20 percent higher than government figures, and well above an earlier agreed Kyoto Protocol limit, says a new report that studied land-clearing rates." (Reuters)

"Carbon offsetting 'can be harmful'" - "People who join the new fashion for buying carbon offsets will be urged by the Government today to check what they are buying before they hand over the money. Some schemes may be doing environmental damage in the developing world without curbing climate change." (London Independent)

Here's a news flash for you guys: No "carbon offsetting" scheme will or can "curb climate change".

"Johann Hari: Planting trees won't offset jetting to the sun" - "If you fly one way, one time to Miami, you emit more greenhouse gases than the average SUV driver in a year." (London Independent)

And there's not one real reason that should trouble you. "Greenhouse" is the problem that never was.

"Europe’s airline emissions plan is a flight of fancy" - "Including airline emissions in the European trading system for carbon dioxide, as proposed by the European Commission, is neither effective nor efficient. The environment would hardly improve and the economy would be harmed." (Richard Tol and John Fitzgerald, Financial Times)

"ANALYSIS - Burying UK CO2 Needs More Cash" - "LONDON - A much bigger financial carrot is needed to get companies to spend billions on catching carbon dioxide, a gas widely thought to cause climate change, and bury it under the seas around Britain." (Reuters)

Worried they won't keep their snouts in the trough... "Interest groups nervous about Tories' climate change confusion" - "OTTAWA - Cutbacks, delays and reviews of billions of dollars worth of federal climate change initiatives have done more than take their toll on investments for industry and clean air for the environment. They have also created new challenges for the replacement programs to be unveiled by the Conservatives this week. ''I think the uncertainty has sent signals to investors, both within and outside Canada, that's caused them to think: 'Well, what is really going to go on here?''' said Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association, which represents 280 manufacturers and energy companies." (CanWest News Service)

"Coal plant opponents target investors" - "Environmentalists are trying to persuade banks and other investors not to finance TXU Corp.’s proposed coal-fired power plants and other projects that would significantly increase emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming." (Star-Telegram)

"U.S. urges 'fivefold expansion' in Alberta oilsands production" - "The U.S. wants Canada to dramatically expand its oil exports from the Alberta oilsands, a move that could have major implications on the environment. U.S.and Canadian oil executives and government officials met for a two-day oil summit in Houston in January 2006 and made plans for a "fivefold expansion" in oilsands production in a relatively "short time span," according minutes of the meeting obtained by the CBC's French-language network, Radio-Canada." (CBC News)

"US House takes on Big Oil" - "A bill to be voted on Thursday would cut federal benefits by a third and give them to renewable-energy programs." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Democrats' taxing energy policy" - "As the 100-hour legislative blitz continues, the House will vote today on the Democrats' energy policy, which turns the economic laws of supply and demand on their collective heads, while hurling a dagger at contract law and scoring a direct hit. It will be quite a show." (Washington Times)

"Wal-Mart accused of 'organic fraud'" - "Advocacy group claims retailer is misleading its customers by labeling non-organic foods as 'organic.'" (CNNMoney.com)

While I tend to agree that real food should not be contaminated by contact with "organics" I can't really see what their problem is -- if you're silly enough to buy organics you are getting ripped off anyway.

"The truth about organic food" - "It’s not healthier or Greener, and it's incapable of feeding the world. So why is it back in fashion?" (Rob Lyons, sp!ked)

"Study: Urban sprawl not so bad for birds" - "SEWANEE, Tenn., Jan. 17 -- U.S. urban sprawl might not be as harmful to wildlife as previously thought, a University of the South study suggested." (UPI)

January 17, 2007

"Malawi: Tobacco industry throws out DDT" - "MALAWI risks losing about 60 per cent of the country's foreign income that comes from tobacco exports following the Ministry of Health's decision to re-introduce Dichloro Diphenyl Trichloroethane (DDT). The chemical, which was used to kill tobacco insects, was banned a few years ago, but has resurfaced following government's decision to allow the use of the chemical to kill mosquitoes. Speaking Friday in Lilongwe during a meeting on the use of the chemical, Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) Executive Secretary Felix Mkumba said using DDT would jeopardise Malawi's chances on the global market. He said some countries that are major tobacco buyers have legislation that bans importation of products contaminated with the chemical." (Daily Times)

"Researchers discover surprising drug that blocks malaria" - "CHICAGO --- Northwestern University researchers have discovered how malaria parasites persuade red blood cells to engulf them -- and how to block the invading parasites. The malaria marauders hack into the red cell's signaling system and steal the molecular equivalent of its password to spring open the door to the cell. But researchers have found that a common blood pressure medication – propranolol – jams the signal to prevent the parasite from breaking in. Scientists had long been perplexed by malaria's ability to hijack red blood cells, then wildly multiply and provoke its life-threatening symptoms." (Northwestern University)

"Top lawyer sues for millions over bedbug ordeal at hotel" - "An American entertainment lawyer and his wife are seeking millions of dollars in compensation for being traumatised by bedbugs at one of London’s top luxury hotels." (London Times)

So sue the chemophobic dips who've maintained a relentless onslaught on broad spectrum pesticides -- the problem with "environmentally friendly" roach motels etc. is that you lose the parallel benefits of cleaning out bed bugs and other pests, something which did not occur when hotel/motel rooms were routinely dusted with DDT or similar.

"Connecticut’s Biomonitoring Stunt" - "A coalition of activists plan to abuse scientific testing to further policy goals." (Trevor Butterworth, STATS)

"We’ve never had it so good" - "Interview: Indur Goklany, author of The Improving State of the World, slaps down today's voguish pessimists with some eye-opening facts." (sp!ked)

"New fat, same old problem with an added twist?" - "Waltham, MA -- Last month, New York City outlawed the use of partially hydrogenated oils, known as trans fats, in restaurants, a ban now under consideration in other cities, including Boston and Chicago. But novel research conducted in Malaysia and at Brandeis University shows that a new method of modifying fat in commercial products to replace unhealthy trans fats raises blood glucose and depresses insulin in humans, common precursors to diabetes. Furthermore, like trans fat, it still adversely depressed the beneficial HDL-cholesterol." (Brandeis University)

"What you may not know about childhood obesity programs" - "With our busy schedules, it’s easy to glance at a headline and browse the first few lines of an article, or listen to a soundbyte on the television or radio, and believe we’ve grasped the gist of the story. Marketing professionals know that, too, and take advantage of that to sell us on ideas by soundbytes and press releases. Far too often, however, a close look at the evidence being reported reveals the truth is exactly opposite of what we’re being told. But few of us take the time to do the digging to find it." (Junkfood Science)

"Sweden's tree line moving at fastest rate for 7,000 years: study" - "Climate change over the past two decades has caused Sweden's tree line to move north at a faster rate than at any time in the past 7,000 years, Swedish researchers said on Tuesday. "The tree line has moved by up to 200 metres (656 feet) in some places. Trees have not grown at such high levels for around 7,000 years," Leif Kullman, a professor at Umeaa University's department of ecology and environmental science, told AFP. The tree line represents a limit in mountainous, northern and southern latitudes beyond which trees do not grow. "Recordings began in 1915 but the trend has intensified in the past 15 to 20 years," Kullman said. Sweden's climate in the past 20 years was as mild as it had been some 7,000 years ago, he added." (AFP)

But why was it so warm 7,000 years ago and is it related to these calculations: Sun more active than for a millennium (New Scientist); Sunspots more frequent now than any time for 1000 years (New Scientist); The Sun is More Active Now than Over the Last 8000 Years (Max Planck Society)?

No? D U H ! "Environment Ministers Lack Clout on Global Warming" - "OSLO - Environment ministers lack power to lead a fight against global warming at a time when ever more governments portray climate change as one of the biggest threats to the planet, experts say." (Reuters)

Environment ministers, bless them, tend to be well meaning, fanciful, impractical and relatively harmless government adornments -- kind of like "smiley" badges really. Some environment ministers actually seem to think it within the human domain to adjust the planet's thermostat, making them misguided or ignorant, depending on your perspective, which is why environment ministers must get no say on matters of importance to society, like energy supply, for example. Fortunately most governments are self-interested and realize that votes are available for paying lip service to popular fears but not from actually harming the populace by taking environment minister-desired action.

Inauspicious start... "UN poised to tackle international challenges, Ban Ki-moon tells US audience" - "The United Nations has the potential to enter another golden era equal to that of its early years, despite the array of daunting challenges – from finding peace in Darfur and the Middle East to long-term goals such as climate change and improving the lives of the world’s poorest – faced by the Organization, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today." (UN News Center)

... and equally large pork-pies: "Canada can get rich by going green, Dion says" - "In what he called his first major speech as Liberal leader, Stéphane Dion told a Toronto business audience Tuesday that Canadians can make enormous profits fighting climate change." (CBC News)

"Climate action would be suicidal" - "There used to be an old joke that "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody ever does anything about it." The heart of the joke used to be that "doing something about the weather" was a ridiculous pretension. Not any more. Nowhere on earth is there a government, or aspiring government, that can afford not to have a climate policy." (Peter Foster, Financial Post)

"A January 14 2007 New York Times Article By Andy Revkin Contains Climate Science Oversimplifications And Errors" - "Andy Revkin had an article on January 14, 2007 in the New York Times entitled The Basics Connecting the Global Warming Dots. Unlike his earlier article which I was impressed with and which Climate Science posted a weblog on, this new article presents, at best, a grossly oversimplified summary of the science of the human role in climate change, and more specifically, the human role in global warming. Perhaps this article was written in response to the pressure he must have received on his balanced January 1 2007 article. In any case, this new January 14 article is a disappointment to anyone who values objectivity in news articles." (Climate Science)

"Consensus fails to materialise among experts" - "In the two-and-a-half months since the Stern review on the economics of climate change was published, it has raised awareness and generated discussion. But the consensus in support of the review's findings for which Sir Nicholas might have hoped has failed to materialise. Fellow academics have received his report with a degree of hostility." (Financial Times)

"Stern stands up to critics of his analysis" - "Sir Nicholas Stern yesterday hit back at critics of his analysis of the economics of climate change. The government-commissioned Stern review, published last October, has rapidly become one of the most influential documents in the international debate on climate change. The review found the costs of taking action on climate change now were small and the benefits large compared with much heavier penalties for delaying action. Sir Nicholas, head of the government's economic service and a former World Bank chief economist, has toured Asia, Africa and Europe to explain his findings." (Financial Times)

"Stern refuses to be drawn on green taxes" - "The author of the government's report on climate change today refused to endorse the limited green taxes outlined by Gordon Brown in last month's pre-budget report." (Guardian Unlimited)

"U.N.'s Ban urged to lead global climate change plans" - "UNITED NATIONS - A U.N. official said on Tuesday he urged U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to take a leading role in helping world governments battle global warming after 2014, when the Kyoto treaty on climate change expires. Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Secretariat (UNFCCC) in Bonn, Germany, said he told Ban during a meeting on Monday at U.N. headquarters that he should organize a meeting of heads of government to chart the next global steps against warming." (Reuters)

"Vermont Lawmakers Hear New Warming Approach" - "MONTPELIER, Vt. -- An author and entrepreneur urged Vermont lawmakers Tuesday to consider capping carbon emissions by selling permits for discharges to oil companies and some fuel dealers and then returning the proceeds to citizens, all in a bid to reduce the state's role in global warming." (Associated Press)

"Bush to Address Global Warming in Annual Speech" - "WASHINGTON - US President George W. Bush will outline a policy on global warming next week in his State of the Union speech but has not dropped his opposition to mandatory limits on greenhouse-gas emissions, the White House said on Tuesday." (Reuters)

"Bush set against carbon emission limits" - "The White House said yesterday that President Bush has ruled out Kyoto-style caps on carbon emissions as the solution to global warming, rejecting the proposal favored by Democrats and most European leaders. Spokesman Tony Snow said Mr. Bush will lay out his new climate-change policy in his State of the Union address next week, but sources familiar with the drafting of the speech said the president will argue that global warming can be better addressed through technology and greater use of renewable energy sources than through caps imposed on businesses and industries." (Stephen Dinan, Washington Times)

"Russian academic says CO2 not to blame for global warming" - "ST. PETERSBURG, January 15 - Rising levels of carbon dioxide and other gases emitted through human activity, generally believed to trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere, are an effect rather than the cause of global warming, a prominent Russian scientist said Monday.

Habibullo Abdusamatov, head of the space research laboratory at the St. Petersburg-based Pulkovo Observatory, said global warming stems from an increase in the sun's activity. His view contradicts the international scientific consensus that climate change is attributable to the emission of greenhouse gases generated by industrial activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

"Global warming results not from the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, but from an unusually high level of solar radiation and a lengthy - almost throughout the last century - growth in its intensity," Abdusamatov told RIA Novosti in an interview.

"It is no secret that when they go up, temperatures in the world's oceans trigger the emission of large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So the common view that man's industrial activity is a deciding factor in global warming has emerged from a misinterpretation of cause and effect relations." (RIA Novosti)

Oh boy... "Man who wants to turn every Scots child into an environment evangelist" - "A GENERATION of environmental activists is set to emerge from Scotland's schools after it was agreed every pupil in the country will hear Al Gore's "powerful message" about the dangers of climate change. The Scottish Executive announced yesterday - as the former US vice president flew in to Glasgow to address business people, environmentalists and others - that his documentary film An Inconvenient Truth would be shown to secondary school pupils." (The Scotsman)

"Global warming policy perils" - "Faced with problems, humans look for solutions; that is part of who we are. Sometimes, though, solutions are tried before the problem (or what appears to be a problem) is understood. In such cases, problem-solving can be futile and, worse, counterproductive. Job One, therefore, is to stop and think about the issue at hand.

Nowhere is caution against an open-ended regime of tax-spend-regulate more necessary than with climate-change policy. The emotional, politicized debate over global warming has produced a fire-ready-aim mentality, despite great and still growing scientific uncertainty about the problem. For example, recent issues of Science magazine (published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science) have questioned three of Al Gore's pet alarms: more intense hurricanes, disruption of the Atlantic Ocean's climate-regulating currents, and a rapid rise of sea level." (Robert L. Bradley Jr., Washington Times)

"Australia: Mass concern at climate change" - "AUSTRALIANS are more worried about climate change than terrorism or any other global issue but believe there is widespread public misunderstanding about it, according to a NEWS.com.au survey. Three-quarters of respondents said they had given close personal attention to climate change but more than half said they believed Australians were poorly informed about it, reflecting what one expert described as "mass public confusion surrounding climate change in Australia". (news.com.au)

We agree there's mass confusion with way too many wrongly believing humans can adjust the planet's thermostat.

Ah yes... "Huge crop loss in state freeze" - "Citrus, avocados, strawberries are hit hard by cold snap in south state, San Joaquin Valley." (Sacramento Bee)

... that wonderful cold we're all supposed to aspire to.

From CO2 Science this week:

C 4 Plants Not Always the Poorest Responders to Atmospheric CO 2 Enrichment: Contrary to the "rule of thumb" that C 3 plants are more benefited by increases in the air's CO 2 content than are C 4 plants, a new study highlights an important exception to the rule.

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week:
This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from Lake Biwa, Central Japan. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary:
Drought (North America - United States: Western): Have the characteristics of droughts in the western United States changed significantly in response to post-Little Ice Age global warming?

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: Colonial Bentgrass, Common Velvetgrass, Crested Dogstailgrass, and Perennial Ryegrass.

Journal Reviews:
Chinese Scientists Predict Imminent Global Cooling: "It is high time to reconsider the trend of global climate changes."

The Role of the Sun in Global Climate Change: What is it claimed to have done? ... what is it likely to have done?

Extreme Hydrologic Events in Southern Italy: How did they vary over the last half of the 20th century?

Coral Responses to Global Warming: Must corals necessarily succumb to rising temperatures? ... or can they adapt-evolve to "take the heat"?

CO 2 , Plant Hormones and Growth: How are they related? (co2science.org)

  "EU Tells Dutch, Belgians to Cut Carbon Further" - "BRUSSELS - The European Commission demanded that the Netherlands and Belgium cut their proposed emissions caps for 2008-12, underlining its tough stance on targets under the EU carbon trading scheme." (Reuters)

"Cyprus Withdraws CO2 Emissions Plan - EU" - "BRUSSELS - Cyprus has withdrawn its carbon dioxide national allocation plan (NAP) to reevaluate it, the European Commission said on Tuesday as the EU executive was due to rule on the CO2 emission proposals of three member states." (Reuters)

"UK to Unveil Standard for Offsetting Emissions" - "LONDON - Britain will on Thursday unveil a standard for offsetting carbon emissions, a government minister said." (Reuters)

Scammers come out to play: "Gazprom launches carbon trading venture" - "Russian energy group Gazprom will make its first significant foray into carbon trading on Tuesday through a joint venture with Dresdner Bank that could open up a €15bn ($19.4bn, £9.8bn) market. The joint venture between Gazprombank, part of the Gazprom Group, and Dresdner Kleinwort will invest in projects generating "carbon credits" under the Kyoto protocol, mainly in Russia and eastern Europe." (Financial Times)

This a week after Russia cooked the books to gain ~0.6 billion metric tons of emission credits to sell to gullible EU markets.

"Gazprom overturns restrictions on buying Russian gas producers - report" - "LONDON - Gazprom is free to buy any Russian gas producing companies after it succeeded in reversing a ruling by the state competition watchdog, Russian daily Kommersant reported. There are now no obstacles for Gazprom to become a monopoly, not only in exports but also in gas production in Russia, the newspaper said." (AFX)

Reshaping the World Order with Russian Gas and Oil (Der Spiegel)

"GE, AES Plan Partnership to Cut Greenhouse Gases" - "NEW YORK - General Electric Co. and power company AES Corp. on Tuesday said they plan to create a partnership to develop projects that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States." (Reuters)

"House Energy Bill: Lose-Lose for Consumers and Taxpayers" - "Washington, D.C., January 16, 2007—The House 100-hour energy legislation is a lose-lose scheme for American consumers and taxpayers. Speaker Pelosi’s package would make us more dependent on imports of foreign oil by raising taxes on domestic energy production. While some of the provisions to remove subsidies are justified, most are simply tax increases. Increasing the cost of domestic oil and natural gas production will lower domestic production and also discourage investment in new domestic energy production." (CEI)

Hmm... "Survey shows strong support for offshore wind power" - "Delawareans are strongly in favor of offshore wind power as a future source of energy for the state, according to a survey conducted by University of Delaware researchers.

When asked to select from a variety of sources to help the state increase its energy supply, more than 90 percent of the 949 Delaware residents responding to the survey supported an offshore wind option--in which whirling wind turbines as tall as 40-story buildings would be erected off the coast to generate electricity--even if wind power were to add between $1 and $30 per month to their electric bills. Fewer than 10 percent voted for an expansion of coal or natural gas power at current prices." (University of Delaware)

... maybe but then again, maybe not.

"A Nuclear Power Renaissance" - "With concerns about global warming and energy security on the rise, countries the world over are taking a new look at nuclear energy. Some are building new reactors as fast as they can." (Der Spiegel)

"Bush to Call for More Ethanol use Next Week - Sources" - "WASHINGTON - US President George W. Bush's annual speech to Congress next week is likely to call for a massive increase in how much fuel ethanol that US refiners must mix with gasoline in coming years, sources familiar with White House plans said on Tuesday." (Reuters)

"London Council to Hit Gas-Guzzling Cars" - "LONDON - A London council announced on Tuesday it will press ahead with a controversial plan to cut CO2 emissions by charging owners of gas-guzzling cars up to three times as much for parking permits." (Reuters)

"US Auto Industry Sees Higher Gas, Tougher Standards" - "DETROIT - US auto executives are bracing for gas prices to more than double over the next decade and for sharply higher US fuel economy standards -- a step the industry has long resisted, according to an academic survey released Tuesday." (Reuters)

"Federal judge delays trial over California auto-emission rules" - "SACRAMENTO - A federal judge on Tuesday postponed the trial over a lawsuit seeking to block a California law that would implement the world's toughest vehicle-emission standards. U.S. District Judge Anthony Ishii also ordered the California Air Resources Board to delay enforcing tailpipe-emission standards for greenhouse gases. The case had been scheduled to go to trial Jan. 30. In his order, Ishii said it was best to wait until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a related global warming case in which auto manufacturers have raised identical issues." (Associated Press)

"Research advances on nanotech workplace health and safety" - "WASHINGTON--"Companies, workers and investors alike are being challenged by the uncertainties surrounding nanotechnology workplace safety. These uncertainties include lack of sound, scientific information on occupational risks, poorly determined perceptual risks, and hesitancy over nanotechnology oversight," according to co-authors Andrew Maynard and David Y.H. Pui in an article in the latest issue of the Journal of Nanoparticle Research. This is a special journal issue devoted to nanoparticles and occupational health." (Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies)

Damn fools... "Starbucks plans switch to growth-hormone-free milk" - "KANSAS CITY, Missouri - Starbucks Corp. on Tuesday said it is aiming to make the milk and other dairy products it serves in its U.S. coffee houses free of a controversial artificial growth hormone used in dairies to increase milk production. A conversion would initially be aimed at all 5,500 U.S. company-owned stores, but Seattle-based Starbucks is also exploring such a move with more than 3,000 licensed locations, a company spokesman said. The move comes after Starbucks was targeted in a campaign by consumer groups critical of the use of an artificial hormone known as rBGH, which is given as a supplement to dairy cows to increase milk production." (Reuters)

... it's bad enough playing into the fears and prejudices of the ignorant and technophobic but this actually does environmental harm by increasing the land use, fodder and water requirements, not to mention manure output, of milk production.

"Dangerous wheat disease jumps Red Sea" - "EL BATAN, Mexico and ALEPPO, Syria, -- 16 Jan 2007 -- A new form of stem rust, a virulent wheat disease, has jumped from eastern Africa and is now infecting wheat in Yemen in the Arabian Peninsula.

Researchers with the Global Rust Initiative (GRI) and the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA-ARS) have confirmed conclusively the existence of the disease in Yemen. There is also evidence that the disease has spread into Sudan but more tests are needed to confirm the finding. Until this discovery, this new strain of stem rust, known as Ug99, had only been seen in Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia." (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT))

January 16, 2007

"Tories pledge $1bn a year to wipe out malaria" - "The Conservatives will today make their first significant pitch on international aid by unveiling plans to spend $1bn (£510m) a year on malaria treatment until the disease is eradicated worldwide." (The Guardian)

Smart action is of more value than big ticket spending (most of which fails to hit the target but rather builds bureaucracies). Much more could be achieved by having the EU guarantee African suppliers that DDT use in anti-malarial Indoor Residual Spray regimes will not affect markets. Meanwhile, Rachel Carson and the myth machine continues to rack up a very impressive African body count.

How myths kill: "Uganda: Lukyamuzi Vows to Block DDT Use" - "OUTSPOKEN former Rubaga South MP John Ken Lukyamuzi says: "We have already contacted our lawyers to seek a court injunction to block the government from spraying DDT which is going to kill our population unceremoniously. " He was addressing journalists at Speke Hotel on Thursday. He vowed to hold nationwide rallies to mobilise the population to resist DDT use. "We shall hold our first public rally at Nakasero Market on February 2 because that is the landing site of all agricultural produce." (The Monitor)

"Rwanda: Re-Consider DDT Against Malaria" - "Malaria kills over one million children a year in Africa, more than any other disease. Last September the World Health Organisation (WHO) released new policy guidelines for malaria control that call for increased spraying of insecticides inside houses, or indoor residual spraying (IRS), and encourage the use of DDT, which is the most successful public-health insecticide ever produced." (Roger Bate and Mauro De Lorenzo, The New Times)

"Tuberculosis not philanthropy's burden, experts say" - "NEW YORK - Philanthropists cannot win the global fight against tuberculosis alone and a "quantum leap" in funding is needed from governments, particularly in Europe, disease experts said on Friday." (Reuters)

"The Poor Get Richer: Incomes in the developing world start to catch up." - "Here's bad news for those who oppose global free trade: Not only did the world-wide trend toward greater economic liberty hold steady over the past year, but the incomes of poor individuals across the globe are rising as result. The world isn't only growing richer. The gap between the per-capita income of have-not populations and that of the developed world is narrowing." (Mary Anastasia O'Grady, Opinion Journal)

"A Rifle in Every Pot" - "IT’S a phenomenon that gives the term “gun control” a whole new meaning: community ordinances that encourage citizens to own guns.

Last month, Greenleaf, Idaho, adopted Ordinance 208, calling for its citizens to own guns and keep them ready in their homes in case of emergency. It’s not a response to high crime rates. As The Associated Press reported, “Greenleaf doesn’t really have crime ... the most violent offense reported in the past two years was a fist fight.” Rather, it’s a statement about preparedness in the event of an emergency, and an effort to promote a culture of self-reliance.

And it may not be a bad idea. While pro-gun laws like the one in Greenleaf are mostly symbolic, to the extent that they actually make a difference, it is likely to be a positive one." (Glenn Reynolds, New York Times)

"Intelligence in the Classroom" - "Half of all children are below average, and teachers can do only so much for them." (Charles Murray, Opinion Journal)

"Exposed: An intentional campaign to scare parents" - "Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick discusses startling information that many parents may not realize concerning the fears over MMR vaccines and autism. He reveals that the conflicts of interests went far beyond what many of us might ever have imagined and more than $29.24 million (U.S. dollars) went into a legal campaign to try, unsuccessfully, to prove that the vaccination caused autism." (Junkfood Science)

"Can Johnny Come Out and (Be Taught to) Play?" - "New York City’s new ideas about structured fun might make parents happy. But children could have other ideas." (New York Times)

"A fresh perspective for parents: good news" - "Shinga at Breath Spa for Kids just made a wonderful post discussing the significant advances in medicine and public health and how they’ve improved the health of our children and enabled them to live longer lives than ever before. Without understanding the realities of illness and death among children throughout human history and in many parts of the world, our perceptions of risks and sickness in our children today are distorted, she explains. The facts are overwhelmingly positive about our children, but that’s not what we hear and it’s contributed to an epidemic of over-anxious parents." (Junkfood Science)

"Study questions 'gateway' theory of drug abuse" - "NEW YORK - A new study suggests that a tendency toward delinquency or living in a neighborhood where drugs are readily available are just as important in determining whether a young person will abuse marijuana as whether or not he tries cigarettes or alcohol first." (Reuters Health)

"Study suggests hip fractures not caused by benzodiazepine use after all" - "BOSTON--Benzodiazepine use was not shown to be associated with hip fractures after all, according to a new study from the Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention (of Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care). Previous epidemiological studies suggesting an association have been used to support legislation and policy decisions that limit access to these drugs among the elderly. These policies may need to be reexamined based on these new findings, which are being published in the Jan. 16 Annals of Internal Medicine." (Harvard Medical School)

"Diet Supplements and Safety: Some Disquieting Data" - "A national database has accumulated strong evidence that some supplements carry risks of injury and death, and that children may be particularly vulnerable." (New York Times)

"Ghost authorship of industry funded drug trials is common" - "Ghost authorship is the failure to name, as an author, an individual who has made a substantial contribution to a scientific article. A study of 44 industry-initiated trials from Denmark in the 1990s found evidence of ghost authorship for 33 trials, which increased to 40 if a person qualifying for authorship was just acknowledged rather than being named as an author." (Press Release)

"`Green' can't be mere fad, Suzuki warns" - "Leading environmentalist worries that Tory conversion to the cause is bluster." (Toronto Star)

Well there's a problem, populist "green" is strictly faddism.

"Scientists Warn of Fewer Studies From Space" - "The nation’s ability to track retreating polar ice and shifting patterns of drought, rainfall and other environmental changes is being put “at great risk” by faltering efforts to replace aging satellite-borne sensors, a panel convened by the country’s leading scientific advisory group said." (New York Times)

Scientifically tragic but realistically not a bad thing. Why? Because society is better off not receiving the myriad false alarms with which it is currently bombarded. Are people in say, New York, actually affected by year to year variation in Arctic ice? Not at all -- and when it oscillates on decadal and longer scales year to year reports are misleading and pointlessly worrying to people lacking sufficient perspective, better off without them, really.

"Will the sun cool us?" - "The science is settled" on climate change, say most scientists in the field. They believe that man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are heating the globe to dangerous levels and that, in the coming decades, steadily increasing temperatures will melt the polar ice caps and flood the world's low-lying coastal areas. Don't tell that to Nigel Weiss, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge, past President of the Royal Astronomical Society, and a scientist as honoured as they come. The science is anything but settled, he observes, except for one virtual certainty: The world is about to enter a cooling period." (Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post)

"Common sense in the warming debate" - "GLOBAL WARMING is the subject of intense debate. But if ideology is getting in the way of science, maybe both sides of the debate are letting that happen.

While the evidence of global climate change is overwhelming, there are skeptics who challenge the consensus view that warming is caused by human activity. These individuals are routinely accused of being in the pocket of big corporations that would be hurt by aggressive measures to curb carbon emissions. (And, in fact, many of them work for groups that receive funding from such sources as ExxonMobil). Chris Mooney, author of "The Republican War on Science," has argued that treating the issue as a legitimate debate is misleading because it bestows legitimacy on pseudoscientific propaganda." (Cathy Young, Boston Globe)

Does receiving "funding from such sources as ExxonMobil" make global warming skeptics? The World Resources Institute of renowned global warming hand-wringers gets funding from... ExxonMobil. Funny how funding left-wing misanthropes is "socially responsible" while throwing a bone to skeptics is evidence of malfeasance, isn't it?

"Italy concerned over mild, dry winter" - "Italian officials and weather experts raised fears Monday that an exceptionally mild and dry winter will hurt agriculture." (AFP)

Just in case you haven't got it -- whatever it is, it's your fault: "CHALLENGES 2006-2007: Charging Towards the Big Melt" - "BROOKLIN, Canada - Record retail store sales during the holiday season in North America is one reason 2007 is predicted to be the hottest year on record. And it's well past time that people began to connect the dots between what they buy and the resulting environmental impacts such as global warming, experts say." (IPS)

Quick weather round-up:

"Eastern Canada finally gets snowfall after mild winter start" - "After an unusually mild start to the winter season, eastern Canada was hit by the first snow storm of the season Monday, forcing several flight cancellations and causing road accidents. An ice storm in Ontario province and snow in neighboring Quebec snarled traffic and several weather-related road accidents took place in and around Toronto and Montreal, none of them fatal." (AFP)

"Ice storms, snow, floods, tornado hit US, killing 25" - "A massive winter storm moved eastward across the central US Monday bringing snow, sleet, ice and flash floods, killing at least 25 people and prompting President George W. Bush to declare an emergency in Oklahoma state." (AFP)

"80mph storms to blow through Britain" - "Parts of Britain will be battered by gales of up to 80mph this week, the Meteorological Office warned yesterday." (London Telegraph)

"Ship's crew rescued, thousands without power after Baltic storm" - "Rescuers battling high winds winched to safety Monday most of the crew of a cargo ship that ran aground off Latvia in a fierce storm which also cut off power for thousands in Latvia and Lithuania." (AFP)

"Evidence unclear: Scientist tries to dispel myths about extreme weather, global warming" - "A leading climate-change researcher expressed doubt that growing public fears over the link between extreme weather events and global warming have any basis in science.

Robert Livezey, chief of the Climate Services Division, Office of Climate, Water and Weather Services for the National Weather Service, spoke Wednesday at the 14th annual Operation Sierra Storm meteorological conference in Mammoth Lakes. He voiced concern that the ramifications of global warming on the numbers and severity of hurricanes, tornadoes, heat waves, damaging winds, floods and droughts had been exaggerated beyond their proven bounds.

There are "no convincing links" between trends in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere and trends in severe weather events, according to the scientist." (Nevada Appeal)

Better than a lot... "Positive Environmentalism: A Convenient Truth" (.pdf) - "Introduction: Too often in discussions about the environment, a very negative, pessimistic approach is adopted. This negative environmentalism, full of doom and gloom, is a school of thought which thinks that improving the environment has to be done through restricting foreign holidays, limiting trade, only buying locally, or curbing GDP. It regards the rise of India and China with dread. Economic growth is seen as finite: the West, in this view, has become rich at the expense of the planet, and there simply are not enough resources to sustain economic prosperity in the emerging economies. The consequence of this worldview is that many people support policies that would restrict economic growth." (Alex Singleton, Globalisation Institute)

We don't view a less-cold world as constituting any form of emergency but...

"When Being Green Raises the Heat" - "CARBON DIOXIDE is heating up the Earth. Ice caps are melting, ocean levels are rising, hurricanes are intensifying, tropical diseases are spreading and the threat of droughts, floods and famines looms large. Can planting a tree help stop all this from happening?" (New York Times)

Short answer? No. The reason this is so is because the unmitigated positive feedback hypothesis is false. The physical properties of carbon dioxide are moderately well understood and the warming potential of a doubling of pre-Industrial Revolution levels of carbon dioxide is far too small to distinguish from the noise of natural variation. That the unmitigated positive feedback hypothesis of trivial warming from CO2 causing massive warming from increased water vapor is false is demonstrated every year with the northern hemisphere summer showing vastly more warming than CO2 can deliver, with attendant increase in evaporation, atmospheric water load, reduction in ice and snow fields and thus reduced albedo -- all the "nasty" things the prophets of "global warming" anguish over -- yet "runaway" warming does not occur. Model-generated warming scenarios simply are not real-world problems.

"Methane, Plants and Climate Change" - "The surprising recent finding that living plants produce methane does not throw doubt on the cause of global warming. Human activities--not plants--are the source of the surge in this and other greenhouse gases" (Frank Keppler and Thomas Röckmann, SciAm)

What it does it highlight how much we don't yet know about emissions, sinks and climate. In more rational times this would lead to the conclusion that, well, we do not know enough to draw any conclusions. These days, however, ignorance is used as "proof" that "nature knows best" and "people are bad". Stupid game...

"Mineral formations give scientists climate-change clues" - "Ordinary thermometers and rain gauges haven't been around nearly long enough to answer all the questions being raised by global warming these days. Climate scientists have had to look for alternative instruments in the natural world.

That search has led researchers at the University of California-Davis 60 feet underground to a unique archive of California climate records: stalagmites and other cave formations found in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada." (Scripps Howard News Service)

"Dr Strangelove saves the earth: How big science might fix climate change" - "FEW scientists like to say so, but cutting greenhouse-gas emissions is not the only way to solve the problem of global warming. If man-made technologies are capable of heating the planet, they are probably capable of cooling it down again. Welcome to "geo-engineering", which holds that, rather than trying to change mankind's industrial habits, it is more efficient to counter the effects, using planetary-scale engineering." (Economist.com)

While the possibility of a less-cold Earth troubles us not at all, talk of engineered cooling is frankly terrifying. This is one of the problems with "global warming" hysteria -- it carries the danger some idiot might actually try to do something about it. Stop and think guys -- and do check your history, cooler periods are distinctly life-unfriendly, coinciding with famine, disease and social strife. Why would we aspire to engineering such misery?

"Dominic Lawson: Alarmism based on dubious economics" - "These criticisms will be regarded as irrelevant by the shock troops of climate catastrophists." (London Independent)

Oh boy... "Warming = More Disease" - "Climate change also hikes risk of tainted water, food poisoning" (CanWest News Service)

The Times Colonist ran this piece under the title: Climate crisis: Killer diseases spread North

"Connecting the Global Warming Dots" - "If thought of as a painting, the scientific picture of a growing human influence on the climate has moved from being abstract a century ago to impressionistic 30 years ago to pointillist today." (New York Times)

Fair description, lots of unconnected little points making a completely illusory "big picture" -- we still don't know what the planet's mean temperature is or whether that mean temperature is even a useful metric, we don't know how much warming is real or how much might simply be an artifact of how we've been trying to measure it, we don't know what component is driven by what or how much anthropogenic influence might be involved or how, we can't predict weather a few weeks in advance or even agree on the state of the El Niño Southern Oscillation but believe in models and their ability to tell us what conditions will be like in a century. Stupid game...

"Warming of Greenland" - "Artic melting accelerates, revealing uncharted islands and threatening to raise sea level." (New York Times)

"More Arctic Contradiction" - "Many times over, we at the World Climate Report have underscored the popular idea that Earth’s frozen realm, or the cryosphere, serves as a monitor of regional climate variability and global climate change. This idea is combined with evidence and theory that a large degree of climate warming has and will occur in the high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. Climate variables that have been historically studied the most include air temperature, snow cover, and glacier characteristics, but in recent decades, sea ice data have been mined for use in climate change research." (WCR)

"Global warming to blame as anglers delay salmon season" - "For more than 150 years, the start of Scotland's salmon fishing season on the river Tay has been celebrated in the middle of January." (London Independent)

However, later in the article:

While other beats on the Tay are opening as usual, with a party at Kenmore on the upper Tay yesterday typical of the annual celebrations which surround the event, members of the TDSFB claim there is no reason to change the practice for the moment. "The Tay has some of the earliest runs of fish in Scotland," said David Summers, fisheries manager.

"Ever since the 1860s it has been felt appropriate to have a very early start to the Tay season."

According to the TDSFB salmon spawn at different times along the length of the river and in the greater part of the Tay spawning has usually finished by the end of November. It is only as fish progress farther down river that spawning appears to get later, often occurring around Christmas.

"As a board we have to consider the whole of the Tay catchment area, not just the experience of a particular stretch," said a spokesman. "However if it was felt there was an overwhelming case for change, we would look at the issue".

"Congress Prepares to Tackle Global Warming Legislation" - "Potential presidential rivals Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama are joining with newly independent Sen. Joe Lieberman on a plan they say would reduce global-warming gases by two-thirds over the next four decades. Their bill, being announced Friday, is intended to cut the heat-trapping emissions by 2 percent a year through midcentury. It is sure to produce a contentious debate on climate control in the new Democratic-run Congress and draw strong opposition from the White House and industry." (Associated Press)

"U.N. Climate Expert Says Leadership Needed on Global Warming" - "The chief of the United Nations' effort against climate change said this week there is widespread recognition of the seriousness of global warming but a lack of leadership has created a sense of helplessness." (AP)

Hmm... "UN adviser backs Blair's view on climate change and air travel" - "Tony Blair's view that climate change cannot be tackled by clamping down on personal air travel has won support from the UN's leading adviser on global poverty. Jeffrey Sachs, the renowned American economist, told the Guardian: "Finding a way to achieve economic development and environmental sustainability is the biggest challenge we face globally and it doesn't lend itself to a simple answer. The climate change issue will not be changed by cutting air travel." (The Guardian)

... while they are letting a few facts slip, what do you suppose are the chances of them admitting even complete cessation of fossil fuel use will have no discernable effect on global mean temperature? Us neither.

"PREVIEW - EU States Challenge Brussels Tough Carbon Stance" - "LONDON - Brussels will reject on Tuesday as too soft three EU member states' planned carbon emissions caps for 2008-12, but may face legal action from other countries protesting against its tough climate change stance." (Reuters)

"INTERVIEW - EU Says Cannot Meet Emissions Goal Without China" - "BRUSSELS - The European Union goal of a 30 percent cut in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 cannot be met without China, the European Commission said on Monday before launching talks on a broad new cooperation pact with Beijing." (Reuters)

More On The European Commission Climate Change Strategy (Climate Science)

"Tesco follows M&S with climate change move" - "Tesco is to put its customers at the heart of its latest green initiative when it unveils its new strategy to combat climate change on Thursday. The move by Britain's biggest grocer, which is today tipped to issue a strong Christmas trading update, will cap the busiest week yet for retailers jostling for pole position in the race to save the environment." (London Independent)

"Nuclear plants getting warmer reactions: Regulators, public more receptive to power source" - "WASHINGTON – The U.S. nuclear power industry is planning for a renaissance, drawing up its first applications to build nuclear plants since the 1970s. Just a decade ago, many energy executives didn't think nuclear power had much of a future. Strict regulations had led to costly downtime for reactors. The public showed little interest in betting billions on new plants." (Dallas Morning News)

"Beyond PR at BP" - "Don't expect much sympathy for John Browne now that his tenure as chief executive of BP has been cut short by 17 months. Sorrow certainly wasn't the sentiment expressed by investors, who have sent BP shares up more than 2.2% in London and nearly 5% on Wall Street since Friday's announcement that Lord Browne would leave the oil giant this summer rather than at the end of next year." (Wall Street Journal)

"SE Asia Seeks Access to Emissions Market" - "CEBU, Philippines - Southeast Asian nations are asking Japan's help in getting access to a growing carbon emission trading market, now valued at around US$10 billion." (Reuters)

"Brussels biofuels push met with scepticism" - "Plans to increase biofuel contribution to 10% of EU transport fuel by 2020 have been criticised by environmental NGOs, who increasingly believe that the promotion of biofuels may actually cause more harm than good." (EurActiv)

"PM ‘Misguided’ In Her Support For Biofuels" - "Strong criticism of Prime Minister Helen Clark’s promotion of biofuels in Asia has been expressed by Bryan Leyland, the chairman of the economics panel of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition. A prominent energy consultant in Auckland, Mr Leyland said: “All the evidence points to the fact that growing crops to make biofuels is bad for the environment, deprives the local populations of much needed food and in most cases, does nothing to reduce carbon emissions. The only beneficiaries are those who grow rich on the billions of dollars in subsidies paid for biofuel production." (Press Release: New Zealand Climate Science Coalition)

"Salt Forces South China Cities to go Upstream for Water" - "HONG KONG - Salty tap water that affects up to 50 million people has forced the Asian gambling hub Macau and its sister city Zhuhai to hastily build a pipeline to access water further upstream, a water official said on Monday." (Reuters)

"Teeny-Weeny Rules for Itty-Bitty Atom Clusters" - "Introducing the very first nanny for nanoparticles. Whatever they are." (New York Times)

"EU to debate Hungary GMO ban, flowers and potatoes" - "BRUSSELS - EU environment ministers will rekindle Europe's simmering row on genetically modified (GMO) foods next month when they tackle three different strands of the debate, including whether to authorize a "live" biotech crop." (Reuters)

January 15, 2007

"More African nations use DDT to cut malaria death toll" - "[LILONGWE] The once-banned insecticide DDT is being reconsidered by many countries in Africa as a means to combat malaria. But concerns remain that use of the chemical will damage agricultural trade with Europe." (SciDev.Net)

"Opposition mounts as Malawi plans to re-introduce DDT in malaria fight" - "PANA. Malawi's health and environmental experts are engaged in a tug of war following announcement Friday that the country would re-introduce Dichloro Diphenyl Trichloroethane (DDT), an agricultural pesticide banned decades ago, in the fight against malaria. Health officials disclosed Friday that Malawi was bringing back the banned chemical to fight Malaria, the highest single killer in the impoverished southern African country." (PANA)

"Rwanda: Uganda Says DDT Use Won't Affect Neighbours" - "The government of Uganda has said that the reintroduction of Dichloro Diphenyl Trichloroethane (DDT) in Uganda will not affect the shared natural resources such as lakes and rivers. Speaking to The New Times the Ugandan Minister for Health, Dr. Stephen Malinga, said that the neighbouring countries like Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda that use these natural resources should not get concerned about the application of DDT in Uganda because this will not be sprayed on the environment." (The New Times)

"The DDT Controversy: Saving birds and killing people" - "In 1972 the modern environmental movement was launched by the publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. Detailing how much harm pesticides, especially DDT were doing to the environment. In it she told of how DDT was destroying bird populations and could lead to a silent spring due to DDT's adverse environmental effects. Specifically, Carson mentions how DDT thins the cell wall of women's eggs and also causes reproductive problems. It would lead to the banning of the use of DDT in the United States and a de facto ban around the world within the next decade. Heralded by the Environmental Defense Fund, it was a major show of environmentalist power in the political sphere. Forty-three years later, the modern environmentalist movement is acknowledging that perhaps it was too hasty." (Jack Millman, The Sentinel)

Not hasty, dead flat wrong. They didn't save any birds but, boy, they sure managed to kill a lot of people.

"Drinking water kills woman" - "A WOMAN has died of water intoxication after taking part in a radio station's water-drinking contest." (AP)

We wouldn't normally highlight a tragedy from a stupid stunt (it's a wonder mortality is so low, given the stupid things people are prone to do). What makes this different is that we have already had anti-plastics activists write claiming this as "proof" bottled water is inherently dangerous and must be banned. What can we say? Get a life, ya dopey beggars! The poor woman died of low electrolyte levels, as much a "victim" of anti-salt mania as poor decision making in a silly stunt. What did not cause her any harm was the irrelevant factor of the container in which the water was supplied.

"Killer fats to be banned from food" - "DEADLY artificial fats found in hundreds of foods are set to be made illegal under a government plan aimed at saving thousands of lives each year in the UK. Man-made "trans fats" found in many products, including cakes, biscuits and pizzas, will have to be removed by food manufacturers if the legal ban under consideration goes ahead." (Scotland on Sunday)

"Fat and proud: British males are in denial over their weight, doctors warn" - "Millions of British men risk serious illness by refusing to do anything about their burgeoning beer bellies, preferring instead to ignore them." (London Independent)

"Obesity Paradox #3" - "The third edition in our collection of Obesity Paradoxes addresses the leading cause of death in the United States: heart disease. The CDC reports we’re most likely to die of heart disease than anything else. But research just published in the American Heart Journal found you are 2 1/2 times less likely to die of acute heart failure if you are obese when you’re hospitalized than if you are “normal weight!” (Junkfood Science)

"Western way of life — is it really so bad?" - "Does the rest of the world really believe that Americans eat only “junk”?" (Junkfood Science)

"Does the entire world have a fever?" - "At first, I thought these news stories must be spoofs. Surely the scientific data had reached public health officials by now so that overreaction and needless panic could be avoided. These four events, just days apart, just go to show, junk science beliefs never die especially when there’s fear involved." (Junkfood Science)

"Pediatric Grand Rounds" - "The first 2007 Pediatric Grand Rounds are up at Parenting Solved. Host Dr. Bryan Vartabedian, a pediatric gastroenterologist and nutritionist at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, the country’s largest children’s hospital, has compiled a terrific collection of articles from doctors, nurses and parents standing up against popular ideas that could hurt kids." (Junkfood Science)

"Magical or Overrated? A Food Additive in a Swirl" - "Martek Biosciences says it has discovered an essential nutrient that, on paper at least, sounds like the perfect supplement for Americans obsessed with healthy eating." (New York Times)

"Is There a Need for a New Global Agency?" - "PARIS - Environmentalists are divided over French President Jacques Chirac's proposal to create a new United Nations Environment Organisation (UNEO)." (Tierramérica)

"Environments resilient in the face of hurricanes, but questions remain, says journal special issue" - "The international Estuarine Research Federation (ERF) has announced the publication of a special issue of its scientific journal, Estuaries and Coasts, focused on environmental impacts of hurricanes in coastal areas." (Estuarine Research Federation)

"Federal Way schools restrict Gore film: 'Inconvenient Truth' called too controversial" - "This week in Federal Way schools, it got a lot more inconvenient to show one of the top-grossing documentaries in U.S. history, the global-warming alert "An Inconvenient Truth." (Seattle P-I)

No propaganda should be promoted in schools, regardless of source or subject.

Obligatory eye-roller: "McKibben says global warming clock ticking" - "MONTPELIER — In the midst of an unusually mild winter, the air outside the Statehouse was cold and biting Wednesday morning when the man who wrote the first best-selling book on the subject spoke to state lawmakers about global warming, an issue that could dominate this year's legislative agenda." (Rutland Herald)

Noted misanthropist full of it: "Noted environmentalist warns climate change demands immediate action" - "OTTAWA - Federal politicians should stop waffling and start respecting international laws that require immediate action on climate change, Canadian scientist and environmentalist David Suzuki urged Thursday. In an interview, Suzuki said he has yet to meet a politician who understands the urgency of global warming, which he compared to the challenges of the Second World War." (CanWest News Service)

"Drought will halt wildebeest trek" - "One of the planet's greatest wildlife shows - the annual migration of more than a million wildebeest across east Africa's plains - is facing obliteration. Scientists have warned that climatic uncertainty now threatens to turn the grasslands through which these great beasts trek each year into an uninhabitable desert. And the drought is blamed squarely on human activities: global warming triggered by carbon dioxide emissions from cars, planes and other factors. Intensive farming depleting fresh water supplies has also been blamed by climatologists." (The Observer)

"Skating on thin ice" - "Could global warming trends spell the demise of the outdoor rink in Canada?" (John Meagher, CanWest News Service)

"Melting glaciers will destroy Alpine resorts within 45 years, says report" - "The grandchildren of today's skiers are likely to know the white peaks of Switzerland only from the wrappers of chocolate bars. A remarkable report on climate change that will be handed to European governments this week will say that the effect of rising temperatures will mean an end to snow across large areas of the Alps." (The Observer)

"Warm Weather Bogs Down Finnish Loggers - Paper Maker" - "HELSINKI - One of Finland's top paper makers warned on Friday unusually warm weather was threatening production because loggers were waiting for muddy forest tracks to freeze before their trucks could reach stockpiles." (Reuters)

"No snow, no ice... mild winter leaves Muscovites at a loss" - "Down by the boating lake in a Moscow park, Zhenya Chernikevich stood throwing bread to pigeons and casting wistful looks at the grey-green water. Sparrows twittered in the trees and the temperature was a balmy 7C. Normally at this time of year, the nadir of the Russian winter, the birds would be silent and the lake frozen solid. Hardy swimmers known as "walruses", meanwhile, would be plunging through holes cut in the ice for an invigorating dip. "I watched them last year when it was minus 30C," said Zhenya, 24, an engineer. "I wanted to have a go this year, for the first time in my life." As it stands, he might have to wait another year – this winter is shaping up to be Moscow's mildest since records began." (Sunday Telegraph)

"FEATURE - Warmth Locks Lichen out of Reindeers' Reach" - "KIRUNA, Sweden - The unusually balmy winter that has kept bears awake and spoiled ski holidays across Europe is taking a major toll on Sweden's indigenous Sami reindeer herders, and it may take them years to recover." (Reuters)

"Storm in Sweden kills three" - "Three people were killed in southern Sweden on Sunday in severe storms that disrupted air, rail and road traffic and caused a power cut, the TT news agency quoted police as saying." (AFP)

If you really want something to worry about: "Warm, now colder, then maybe a real Arctic blast" - "When it comes to the phenomenally warm winter that we've been experiencing this year, forget about blaming global warming. It's mostly due to El Nino, which is a normal cyclical warming of the waters of the Pacific Ocean." (Craig Chilton, Des Moines Register)

"Powerful Storm Dumps Ice and Rain on Central US" - "CHICAGO - Ice and rain pelting the central United States have killed at least six people, forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights in Texas and knocked out power to more than 100,000 customers in Missouri and Oklahoma, officials and media reports said Saturday." (Reuters)

"Ice storms, snow, floods, tornado wallop US killing 13" - "Freezing rain, snow, sleet, flash floods and at least one tornado walloped the United States this weekend, killing at least 13 people in accidents on slick roads as a storm front blanketed much of the country, local media and authorities said. The storm was expected to continue through at least Tuesday." (AFP)

"Nine Die as Storms Blast Europe" - "Heavy storms caused havoc across northern Europe on Thursday night, killing up to nine people. Rescue workers and firemen are working non-stop to restrict damage but there may be more to come." (DPA)

"Cold snap toll reaches 65 in northern India" - "Temperatures dived to sub-zero and food shortages were reported in Indian Kashmir's mountainous Leh region as the death toll from a cold snap gripping northern India reached 65 on Sunday, officials said." (AFP)

Frequency of record weather events (Luboš Motl, The Reference Frame)

Uh-huh... "Scientists Prepare to Move Doomsday Clock Forward" - "WASHINGTON - The keepers of the "Doomsday Clock" plan to move its hands forward next Wednesday to reflect what they call worsening nuclear and climate threats to the world." (Reuters)

Oh boy... "Earth heating up faster than anticipated, says researcher: Research eliminates doubt about climate change: scientist" - "OTTAWA -- Mounting evidence about the impact and causes of global warming is starting to set off alarm bells for the world's leading researchers, one of Canada's top climate scientists warned yesterday. Dr. Gordon McBean, chairman of policy at the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction at Western Ontario University, predicted a highly anticipated report to be released next month in Paris would highlight how human activity is heating up the planet much faster than experts had previously expected." (CanWest News Service)

... there's an increasing disconnect between claim and reality. In the Third Assessment Report (TAR), the IPCC estimated warming since the latter 19th Century as 0.6 ± 0.2 °C (alternate link: 0.6 ± 0.2 °C). To accommodate step warming since 2000 that's likely to be revised to 0.65 ± 0.2 °C in Assessment Report Four (AR4), that is, rather than 0.4 - 0.8 °C over about one and one-fifth centuries it will read 0.45 - 0.85 °C over about one and one-quarter centuries.

That there has been a small atmospheric warming in the early 21st Century appears to be true, it just doesn't bear any similarity to anticipated greenhouse warming -- see lower- and mid-troposphere time series. And no, it's not because UAH and RSS treat the data differently because the tracks are virtually indistinguishable.

Even the trivial upward adjustment expected in the final version AR4 is suspect since it takes no account of recent loss of ocean heat content.

"Scientist won't wilt in the heat of climate debate" - "The "destroyer of worlds" steps around his desk in an office on Sparkman Drive and offers a firm handshake. Running shoes, blue jeans and a "Mountain Mist Run" sweatshirt make him look more like a neighbor stopping by than one of the biggest lightning rods in modern science.

But Dr. John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, is a lightning rod the size of the Saturn V standing beside Interstate 565. "Destroyer of worlds" is just one thing his enemies call him, Christy said Friday, although he's also been praised for "saving the world."

"Don't give me that much credit," he said." (Huntsville Times)

"Lloyd's chairman urges rethink of policy for climate change" - "WASHINGTON: The chairman of Lloyd's, the world's biggest insurance market, warned on Friday of $100 billion (€77.6 billion) natural disasters in the United States and urged a "radical rethink" of public policy in response to global warming. At the same time, Lord Peter Levene said in a speech, the insurance industry plays a crucial role in the U.S. economy and should be allowed continued operation without government intervention or controls. "Is the United States a nation in denial?" Levene asked. "Two years after Katrina, and two years away from a national election, where's the public debate on catastrophe trends?" (Associated Press)

What a surprise, an insurance-dude trying to pick people's pockets for more profits...

"Japanese business can lead climate campaign: Gore" - "TOKYO - Japan's top business lobby could spark policy change on global warming by sending a strong message to its counterparts in the United States, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore said in a speech in Tokyo on Monday." (Reuters)

"Green Debate: US Senate Spokesman" - "Marc Morano is a spokesman for the US Senate Environment Committee. He told Sky News most senators believe the solution is better technology and not necessarily cutting global emissions. (2mins)" (SKY)

"The Stern Review: A Dual Critique" (.pdf) - "Introduction: The Stern Review includes an introductory chapter that summarises the present state of climate science and, in Part II, an analysis of the physical and environmental impacts of prospective future paths of climate change. The credibility of the document as a whole thus rests in large part on how far the material presented under these two science headings is accurate and balanced. Two distinct aspects are relevant here. (Robert M. Carter, C. R. de Freitas, Indur M. Goklany, David Holland & Richard S. Lindzen, World Economics)

Part II: ECONOMIC ASPECTS (Ian Byatt, Ian Castles, Indur M. Goklany, David Henderson, Nigel Lawson, Ross McKitrick, Julian Morris, Alan Peacock, Colin Robinson and Robert Skidelsky)

Rumor alert: "Bush set for climate change U-turn" - "Downing Street says that belated US recognition of global warming could lead to a post-Kyoto agreement on curbing emissions." (The Observer)

Now that would be a disaster.

"U.S. denies British rumors on Bush climate change" - "WASHINGTON - A U.S. official on Sunday denied a British newspaper report that President George W. Bush was preparing to announce a dramatic policy shift on global warming in his State of the Union speech this month." (Reuters)

"Dingell touts climate laws" - "House energy panel chair seeks Gore's help in pushing rules by '08 to address global warming." (Detroit News)

"Six senators back mandatory greenhouse gas cuts" - "WASHINGTON - Six U.S. senators, including potential 2008 presidential contenders from both major parties, unveiled legislation on Friday that would force power plants and industry to curb heat-trapping greenhouse gases, seeking to cut emissions to one-third of 2000 levels by 2050. Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican and possible 2008 presidential contender, introduced a new version of the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act, which he has pursued since 2003 with Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent." (Reuters)

"EU defends leadership in 'world war' on climate change" - "'A war economy is needed' to reduce global warming emissions, according to the EU's environment chief who said new measures will be tabled 'shortly' to tackle car pollution and expand the carbon trading system." (EurActiv)

"Merkel's Ambitions for EU Run Into Obstacles at Home" - "The biggest obstacle to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's ambitions for her European Union presidency is her own government. Germany's two-party coalition is either divided or going it alone on many of the goals Merkel laid out yesterday for her six-month term, including common EU policies on energy, climate change and ties with Russia." (Bloomberg)

"Germany considers legal action over EU emissions plan" - "Germany is considering taking the European Commission to court over its proposals for slashing industry carbon dioxide emissions. According to German daily FT Deutschland, Berlin is currently preparing legal action, although a final decision at the coalition level has still to be taken." (EUobserver)

"Germany Set to Bow to EU on Emissions Plan - Source" - "BERLIN - Germany will have to bow to European Commission demands for a substantial cut in its planned carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to fight global warming, a senior government source said, predicting a deal this month." (Reuters)

"Germany Open to Options on Liberalising EU Energy - FT" - "LONDON - Germany is no longer opposed to proposals by the European Commission to liberalise the energy market, the Financial Times reported on Friday after interviewing German Economy Minister Michael Glos." (Reuters)

"Spain's CO2 Emissions Probably Stabilised in 2006" - "MADRID - Spain's emissions of carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas, probably stabilised in 2006 after years of rapid growth fuelled by economic expansion, government and union sources said on Friday." (Reuters)

"CBI group to tackle climate concerns" - "British business sought to put itself at the heart of the debate on climate change with the launch of a taskforce comprising some of the most senior executives in the country." (London Telegraph)

For a chuckle: "Tony's carbon footprints: Follow these simple steps, Prime Minister, and you too can save the planet" - "Flights, holidays, they all pump out CO2. Here we reveal the damage Blair is doing - and how he could make amends" (London Independent)

"Airline taxes 'will not hit poor'" - "Taxes on no-frills airlines will not hit the poor because few of them use low-cost flights, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell has said." (BBC)

"Tim Yeo Wants to Abolish Domestic Flights" - "Tim Yeo used to the Conservative Environment Spokesman. He's given an interview to GMTV in which he seriously proposes that all domestic flights should be abolished. It will be broadcast on GMTV's Sunday programme which runs from 6.00 to 7.30am, repeated from 7.30 till 9 on ITV2." (Iain Dale's Diary)

"Warning issued over firms that promise to fix your blot on the planet" - "Holidaymakers are being misled by companies who guarantee to repair the damage flights do to the atmosphere, according to the first independent study of a fast-growing market. The report claims it is not possible to state categorically that buying any "carbon offset" — as Tony Blair did grudgingly last week to counter the global warming potential of his family's New Year break in Miami Beach — will neutralise the damage that flying causes to the atmosphere." (London Telegraph)

Scammers want tax breaks: "Hedge funds want emissions tax parity" - "London will miss out on the emissions trading boom if hedge fund tax breaks are not extended to 'green' instruments." (Accountancy Age)

"High street is new frontline in a carbon footprint struggle" - "THE shelves gleam with abundance, goods from all over the world, and the crowded aisles are monuments to modern day consumerism. But as the public becomes increasingly aware of the environmental impact of shopping in supermarkets, a remarkable transition in the industry is beginning to take place. The country's largest grocer is beginning to realise that green is the colour of money. Yesterday, Marks & Spencer unveiled an ambitious, £200 million "eco-plan" to become carbon neutral over the next five years." (The Scotsman)

"Businesses Capitalizing on Environmental Guilt" - "I was recently entertained by a story of a San Jose State University professor buying a TerraPass automobile to ease her guilt. The good professor felt guilty about driving her Lexus. So to relieve her guilt, she bought a TerraPass from a San Francisco company that sells ''guilt reduction.'' In exchange, TerraPass gives her a window sticker and says that they will invest the money in pollution free industries.

The esteemed professor could have invested that money in the same pollution-free industries and received dividends from the investment. She could have used the money to plant carbon dioxide absorbing trees. But, neither of those options would award her with a guilt-saving sticker that she could show her peers. We can only hope that this professor doesn’t teach economics." (Jack Ward, Chron Watch)

"Exxon Meets Green Groups as Climate Focus Surges" - "NEW YORK - Exxon Mobil Corp., a longtime opponent of mandatory regulations to combat climate change, met with US environmental groups last month to discuss how the oil behemoth might respond to global warming." (Reuters)

"EU to Propose New CO2 Rules for Cars on Jan 24" - "BRUSSELS - The European Commission will lay out on Jan. 24 its new strategy for cutting emissions from cars, which is likely to include the option of binding legislation to force carmakers to clean up their vehicles." (Reuters)

"Schwarzenegger proposes 'revolutionary' energy plan" - "In the state's biggest, immediate step toward cutting global warming pollution, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this week began shifting California's 26 million cars and trucks off petroleum-based fuels and toward alternatives that emit less greenhouse gas. The governor said his new greenhouse-gas standard for transportation fuels -- the world's first -- "leads us away from fossil fuel" and would help "in moving the entire country beyond debate, denial and inaction" on global warming." (Contra Costa Times)

"In California, Environmental Efforts at Odds" - "Alameda County supervisors approved a deal with environmental groups and energy companies to reduce bird deaths in the Altamont Pass, home of California's oldest wind farm. The agreement approved 4-1 Thursday by the Board of Supervisors settles a lawsuit filed by environmentalists who claimed the county failed to protect red-tailed hawks, golden eagles and other birds killed in the rotating blades of the region's 4,800 wind turbines." (AP)

"Dominic Lawson: Go nuclear - or gamble national security on the benevolence of Russia's President" - "For European energy to rely on Russian gas is like giving a known blackmailer your bank details." (London Independent)

"Steamy industry may clear the air" - "Geothermal energy producers try to develop more plants -- and more public awareness." (SF Chronicle)

"East Coast business pushes for oil refining boom, despite green worries" - "HALIFAX - Talk among federal politicians may be of a greener nation, but on the East Coast a race to build carbon-dioxide emitting oil refineries is set to take off. Within weeks, Irving Oil is expected to announce if it will seek environmental permits to build a second, $5-billion to $7-billion refinery in Saint John, N.B., by 2012." (CP)

"EU Eyes Climate, Energy, Trade in New China Talks" - "BRUSSELS - The European Union will urge China to do more to cut greenhouse gas emissions and cooperate on energy security next week when it launches negotiations on a broad new strategic partnership with Beijing." (Reuters)

"16 Asian nations to adopt accord on boosting energy security" - "CEBU, Philippines: Leaders of 16 nations from South Korea to Singapore are expected to agree to boost Asia's energy efficiency and combat climate change by seeking new fuel sources, particularly biofuels, according to a draft document seen Saturday." (Associated Press)

"Ethanol means money for farmers, but hunger for many poor people" - "WASHINGTON -- America's appetite for fuel ethanol could take food away from some of the world's poorest people. The price of corn and other crops is soaring because of the demand for grain to make ethanol, a gasoline additive, and that means the government's budget won't buy as much food as it used to. The price of corn alone, a key food in Africa, has more than doubled in the past year. The pinch is already being felt." (Gannett News Service)

"CAMBODIA: Villagers Oppose More Dams in Vietnam" - "PHNOM PENH - Chao Chantha, one of 10 community representatives from the north-eastern Cambodian province of Stung Treng became agitated as officials of the Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) fielded questions at a meeting called to discuss the neighbouring country's plans to build more dams on its side of the border." (IPS)

Greens and 'environmental harmony'... "Sign of the times — water vigilantes" - "MARGARET Norriss is living in fear. The retired teacher is so scared of the emergence of water vigilantes that she doesn't dare hose her front garden, even though she has been using a rainwater tank for the past nine years. "The whole thing is turning the community against one another," Ms Norriss told The Sunday Age. "It's becoming like Big Brother and I'm starting to feel very uncomfortable." (The Age)

... thanks to the fruit loops (and gullible politicians, complicit voters...) we have a situation where development of essential infrastructure, with water storage and reticulation infrastructure being particularly critical in arid Australia, has been effectively strangled, pitting community residents against each other with "water envy."

"Risk assessment" - "As Cambridge looks to employ a professor of the public understanding of risk, Tim Radford questions what such an appointment can achieve" (EducationGuardian.co.uk)

"Organic Activists Caught Manufacturing Fake News – Scientists Upset, Italian Newspapers Duped" - "On December 26, the U.S.-based Organic Consumers Association posted a “news” item on their website claiming in a headline that new research found “wild bees reject biotech crops.” (CGFI)

Right... "How intelligent is your food?" - "Eating out is no longer easy if you are trying to find a wholesome, tasty meal. Many restaurants and cafes prepare food well before it is to be eaten. It may sit behind the glass window for days before it ends up on your plate. Or you may go into your favourite organic café, order your food happily anticipating a meal that is both healthy and tasty, only to hear the ping of the microwave as your food is zapped.

Food contains intelligence. A food’s intelligence can be loosely translated as nutritional value although it also includes the quality, freshness and degree of life of the food. Food can lose its intrinsic intelligence the longer it sits around in the fridge. The used by date is an estimation of the time when food will go off. However the days leading up to it correspond to a decline in nutritional content. Cooked food reduces in goodness even more quickly." (Wendy Rosenfeldt, Living Now Magazine)

"Vote for poverty: buy organic!" - "I took part in a debate on BBC Radio Shropshire yesterday with Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association, Britain’s main organic food lobbyists and certification body. What was interesting was just how candid he was about what a dramatic change in our lives his organic future would mean. Are organic consumers really aware of what they’re signing up to?" (Rob Lyons, sp!ked)

"Modified rice triggers suits" - "LAFAYETTE — There is a bumper crop of lawsuits in federal court over a strain of genetically modified rice that accidentally infested fields. The strain has been approved for human consumption, but its presence in rice stocks has threatened foreign markets wary of genetically modified foods." (The Advocate)

"GM hens lay eggs to fight cancer" - "SCIENTISTS have created the world’s first breed of designer chickens, genetically modified to lay eggs capable of producing drugs that fight cancer and other life-threatening diseases." (Sunday Times)

January 12, 2007

"Eco-Intimidation Bypasses Scientific Debate" - "Junk science traditionally has been pretty much of an in-your-face phenomenon. Activist-generated scary headlines that are followed by a hysterical rush to adopt new laws and regulations is standard fare." (Steven Milloy, Foxnews.com)

"Eggsactly: Fun egg facts to help you keep safe and save money" - "If you throw away eggs the moment they go past that sell-by date printed on the carton for fear the eggs are unsafe to eat, then you’ll find this study from U.S.D.A. Agricultural Research Service food technologists good news. The researchers specifically looked at the bacteria which can contaminate eggshells: Enterobacteriaceae, which includes salmonella, escherichia, enterobacter, klebsiella and yersinia." (Juhnkfood Science)

"World first: In 2008, most people will live in cities" - "For the first time in human history, the world's population is about to become mostly urban. Citing population growth rates and migration patterns, United Nations researchers and other experts predict that some time in 2008 more people will live in cities than in rural areas. This demographic shift is mostly taking place in Africa and Asia, largely in low-income settlements in developing countries - much of it in the 22 "megacities" whose populations will exceed 10 million and in some cases grow to more than 20 million by 2015." (Brad Knickerbocker, The Christian Science Monitor)

"Village-friendly cities" - "The prime minister’s assurance that the government will come up with a policy for farmers displaced by industrialisation finally recognises the earlier assumption that a new industrial unit automatically benefits everyone in its vicinity was much too sanguine. The repeated incidents in West Bengal have made it difficult to continue to ignore the frailty of this assumption.

In the wake of the violence in Singur and Nandigram, though, it is tempting to swing to the other extreme and believe there is no way in which the farmers can be integrated into the industrialisation process and their interests can only be protected by a state-sponsored rehabilitation programme." (Times of India)

"Large size crucial for Amazon forest reserves" - "An international research team has discovered that the size of Amazon forest reserves is yet more important than previously thought. Their findings, to be published this week (January 12th) in the journal Science, underscore the importance of protecting the Amazon in large stretches of primary forest." (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute)

"Soil nutrients shape tropical forests, large-scale study indicates" - "CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Tropical forests are among the most diverse plant communities on earth, and scientists have labored for decades to identify the ecological and evolutionary processes that created and maintain them. A key question is whether all tree species are equivalent in their use of resources – water, light and nutrients – or whether each species has its own niche." (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

"Scientists discover new life forms in the Arctic Ocean" - "Quebec City, January 11, 2007--An international team of scientists including Université Laval biologist Connie Lovejoy has discovered new life forms in the Arctic Ocean. The team's findings are reported in the January 12 edition of the journal Science." (Université Laval)

Should be required reading: "Dangers of disinformation" - "President George W. Bush's new international anti-malaria campaign has been greeted with enthusiasm by its victims, but with pseudoscience by commentators.

That is not unusual: Fallacies infect every debate about the environment and affect policy, taxpayers' money and victims' lives.

Scientists ask questions, formulate hypotheses, design experiments, look at the evidence, modify the hypotheses and probe further. Then activists, news media and politics take over.

Look at climate change: The public hears again and again that there is scientific consensus, that it's happening now and that we are on the brink of disaster.

This is nonsense. But if we scientists don't yell "Danger!" no one listens. For years, the public has been fed a lusty diet of climate doom and gloom, cooked and served by alarmists who use the language of science to push an agenda. Now, every politician of every stripe must embrace the "climate consensus" or be branded a callous skeptic.

I am not a climatologist, nor an expert on sea level or polar ice. But I do know from talking to many scientists in many disciplines that this consensus is a mirage. Every discipline has many critical, unanswered questions and many dangerous distortions.

I am a specialist in diseases transmitted by mosquitoes. So let's talk malaria. For 12 years, my colleagues and I have protested against the unsubstantiated claims that climate change is causing the disease to spread. We have failed miserably." (Paul Reiter, IHT)

"A Paper Which Illustrates The Close Coupling Between Water and Carbon Across Space and Time Scales" - "One of the papers in the special issue of Global and Planetary Change is “Evidence for carbon dioxide and moisture interactions from the leaf cell up to global scales: Perspective on human-caused climate change” by P. Alpert D. Niyogi, R.A. Pielke, Sr., J.L. Eastman, Y.K. Xue and S. Raman." (Climate Science)

Hmm... in the virtual world, perhaps -- but do the current rudimentary models really tell us much?

"Bushfires' colossal effect" - "VICTORIA'S monster bushfires have generated the power of more than 100 atomic bombs and pumped out millions of tonnes of pollution, greenhouse gas and toxic clouds, scientists say." (Herald Sun)

"Comments On EU’s Climate Change Strategy" - "Thanks to one of the readers of Climate Science [Eric Harmsen] with alerting me to the release of the EU climate change strategy." (Climate Science)

"EIA releases analysis on Bingaman's carbon cap-and-trade leg" - "You wonky wonks who have nothing better to do but follow the ins and outs in D.C. will remember what happened on climate change in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. (The quick answer is, "nothing." The more astute answer is, "horsetrading.")" (Prometheus)

"Japan and EU Urge Big Polluters to Cut Emissions" - "BRUSSELS - Japan and the European Union urged major polluters such as the United States, China and India on Thursday to work harder to curb greenhouse gas emissions." (Reuters)

Is water vapor "greenhouse pollution" of the atmosphere? Nonsense question, you say? Well, if water vapor is not "greenhouse pollution" and water vapor is the most significant greenhouse gas, why would you consider an essential trace gas like carbon dioxide to be "greenhouse pollution"? True, we absolutely need water vapor in the atmosphere and we rely on the resultant precipitation but we and basically the entire biosphere absolutely need carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, where it forms the basis of the vast majority of the food web.

That misanthropic activists have managed to have people think of an essential trace gas in this way is a tribute to their propaganda efforts -- it's also complete and utter rubbish.

"UK companies forge link to tackle climate change" - "LEADING UK companies are to form a task force aimed at setting out the role industry can play in tackling climate change. The CBI said the group would include energy-intensive firms such as steel giant Corus as well as British Airways, banks and high-street firms. Director general Richard Lambert said business was an important part of the debate on global warming." (Western Mail)

Pervasive propaganda: "Al Gore documentary getting air time at Md. Legislature" - "ANNAPOLIS — It was popcorn time at the Maryland Legislature today as House members settled in to watch a global warming documentary to prepare them for bills about the problem this session." (Associated Press)

II: "Vancity CEO becomes climate warrior" - "Dave Mowat is now one of Al Gore's climate warriors. Mr. Mowat, chief executive officer of Vancouver City Savings Credit Union, spent two days in a Nashville hotel last week being trained to present his own version of Mr. Gore's An Inconvenient Truth to Canadian audiences. Mr. Mowat rubbed shoulders with 200 other business leaders, environmentalists, scientists and luminaries — including A-list actress Cameron Diaz — as they got tips from the former U.S. vice-president on how to make the case for action against global warming." (Globe and Mail)

Frighteningly so:  "Al Gore's No. 1 Best Seller AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH to be Adapted for Young Adults in Co-publishing Partnership Between Rodale and Penguin Young Readers Group" - "NEW YORK, Jan. 11 -- Penguin Young Readers Group and Rodale announced a co-publishing partnership today for the purpose of adapting US Vice President Al Gore's New York Times No. 1 best-selling book, AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It (Rodale Books; Paperback; $21.95; May 2006) for young readers. The young adult version, entitled AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH: THE CRISIS OF GLOBAL WARMING (Viking Children's Books/ Rodale Books; Trade paperback; $16.00; hardcover; $23.00; 208 pages; Ages 11 and up; April 2007), adapts Gore's powerful message for a generation that will have to confront the crisis of global warming." (PRNewswire-USNewswire)

Why not? It's about as realistic as the rest of AGW hand-wringing: "Backstory: Global warming and the Blob" - "Forget climate change. The return of the 1958 movie character is global warming's most pressing consequence." (Peter Zheutlin, The Christian Science Monitor)

"Stay-at-home Brown reveals his green credentials" - "Gordon Brown diverged publicly with Tony Blair last night over the environment by arguing that politicians had to set a personal example in tackling climate change. The chancellor, regularly satirised for his hairshirt style, said he rarely travelled by plane when he went on holiday and added that it was right for public figures to limit their impact on the environment." (The Guardian)

"Exxon May be Warming to Greenhouse Gas Rules" - "NEW YORK - Oil major Exxon Mobil Corp. is engaging in industry talks on possible US greenhouse gas emissions regulations, a move experts said could indicate a change in stance from the long-time foe of limits on heat-trapping gases. Exxon, along with representatives from about 20 other companies, is participating in talks sponsored by Washington, D.C. nonprofit Resources for the Future. The think tank said it expected the talks would generate a report in the fall with recommendations to legislators on how to regulate greenhouse emissions." (Reuters)

"Car prices may rise as EU enforces lower emissions" - "The price of every new car sold in Britain could soar by more than £1,600 under new laws to be proposed by the European commission to tackle climate change." (The Guardian)

"4x4s to be priced off the road" - "Gas-guzzling sports cars, 4x4s and people carriers could be priced off the road within five years after a crackdown on carbon emissions to be announced by the European Commission this month." (London Telegraph)

"Canada Auto Union Alarmed by Tough Emissions Talk" - "OTTAWA - Canada's largest private sector union said on Thursday that thousands of jobs in the auto industry could be at risk if a left-leaning opposition party succeeds in persuading the government to quickly introduce binding emissions standards on vehicles." (Reuters)

"New race for automakers: build a better battery" - "Can you imagine this scenario: An American automaker leapfrogs its Japanese competitors with a gasoline-electric hybrid that gets 150 miles to the gallon and can travel 40 miles on battery power alone? General Motors set out that possibility when it unveiled on Sunday the Chevy Volt, a concept car with a much larger electric motor than today's Toyota Prius." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"INTERVIEW - UK Needs New Gas-Fired Power Plants Quick - Centrica" - "LONDON - Britain needs to quickly build several gas-fired power plants to meet growing demand for power over the next decade, Jake Ulrich, the managing director of Centrica Energy, told Reuters in an interview." (Reuters)

"Ignorance Is Strength in Shift to Green Power" - "Ignorance is strength" - slogan in novel "1984" by George Orwell" (Wayne Lusvardi, ChronWatch)

"Fudan scientists turn fish into estrogen alerts" - "RESEARCHERS at Fudan University have successfully raised genetically modified fish that can detect estrogen pollution in lakes and rivers, showing environmental officials what waterways need to be treated for the substance, which is linked to infertility." (Shanghai Daily)

"Genetic engineering necessary for nation’s socio-economic progress" - "HA NOI — While the world was still hotly debating genetic engineering in crops and animals, Viet Nam considered this evolving field indispensable for social and economic progress, experts said." (Viet Nam News)

January 11, 2007

"Rwanda: Re-consider DDT against malaria" - "Malaria kills over one million children a year in Africa, more than any other disease. Last September the World Health Organisation (WHO) released new policy guidelines for malaria control that call for increased spraying of insecticides inside houses, or indoor residual spraying (IRS), and encourage the use of DDT, which is the most successful public-health insecticide ever produced." (New Times)

"Let There Be 'Blight': Welcome to the post-Kelo world." - "SEATTLE--The city of Burien, Wash., recently decided that a piece of property owned by the seven Strobel sisters that had long housed a popular diner-style restaurant was not upscale enough for the city's ambitious "Town Square" development, which will feature condos, shops, restaurants and offices. Rather than condemn the property for a private developer and risk a lawsuit, Burien came up with a plan--it would put a road through the property, and the city manager told his staff to "make damn sure" it did. When a subsequent survey revealed that the road would not affect the building itself, but only sideswipe a small corner of the property, the staff developed yet another site plan that put the road directly through the building. A trial court concluded that the city's actions might be "oppressive" and "an abuse of power"--but allowed the condemnation anyway. The Washington Court of Appeals affirmed, and the Washington Supreme Court refused to hear the case." (William R Maurer, Opinion Journal)

"Body Mass and the Student Body" - "Over the last three decades, the number of overweight children in America has tripled to 16 percent, so it would seem that anything that can help kids get to a healthy weight is worth considering. But schools aren’t helping if children think they’re being labeled as fat. That could be the effect of a program pioneered in Arkansas, which three years ago began measuring students’ body mass index — or B.M.I., a calculation based on weight and height — and then sending home what kids are calling “obesity report cards.” Pennsylvania and West Virginia do similar surveys, and about a dozen states, including New York, have bills to follow suit." (New York Times)

"Live a little!" - "Recent news reporting that “Australians among longest living in world” has resulted in some fun and interesting observations." (Junkfood Science)

"Dieting at new low, but most in U.S. want to lose" - "LOS ANGELES - The percentage of Americans who are dieting is at its lowest in at least 16 years even though a majority of adults say they would like to lose 20 pounds (9 kg), according to a study released on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"BSE: Should we still be worried?" - "When the news first broke that 'mad cow disease' could be passed to people, some scientists predicted that tens of thousands of us could eventually die of vCJD, the human form of BSE. Ten years on, the death toll stands at 160. So has the real danger passed? Or are many of us still carrying the disease unknowingly? Ian Sample talks to the scientists most closely involved in the crisis and learns that the real threat now is not from cows - but from other humans." (The Guardian)

"Deep cleansing breath" - "In an excellent post, Shinga at Breath Spa For Kids continues the debate over homeopathy’s role in medicine, adding insightful perspectives from across the pond where Prince Charles openly supports alternative modalities." (Junkfood Science)

"New findings blow a decade of assumptions out of the water" - "The Atlantic Ocean doesn't receive the mother lode of fixed nitrogen, the building block of life, after all. Instead, comparing fathom for fathom, the Pacific and Indian oceans experience twice the amount of nitrogen fixing as the Atlantic, say researchers in the Jan. 11 issue of Nature. The title of an accompanying News and Views piece says it all, "Looking for N2 Fixation in all the Wrong Places." (University of Washington)

"Drought breaker? Expert tips normal rain" - "The El Nino weather pattern in the Pacific, blamed for severe drought in Australia, is losing intensity and normal rains may return in months, says an Australian government climatologist." (Sydney Morning Herald)

This would be the same El Niño UK Met is predicting will align with "global warming" to give us a record warm year....

Oops... "On the decadal rates of sea level change during the twentieth century" - "Abstract: Nine long and nearly continuous sea level records were chosen from around the world to explore rates of change in sea level for 1904–2003. These records were found to capture the variability found in a larger number of stations over the last half century studied previously. Extending the sea level record back over the entire century suggests that the high variability in the rates of sea level change observed over the past 20 years were not particularly unusual. The rate of sea level change was found to be larger in the early part of last century (2.03 ± 0.35 mm/yr 1904–1953), in comparison with the latter part (1.45 ± 0.34 mm/yr 1954–2003). The highest decadal rate of rise occurred in the decade centred on 1980 (5.31 mm/yr) with the lowest rate of rise occurring in the decade centred on 1964 (−1.49 mm/yr). Over the entire century the mean rate of change was 1.74 ± 0.16 mm/yr." (AGU)

"Dueling Elites and Their Catastrophic Visions" - "... The second is the significant acceleration in stories and publicity regarding predictions of planetary disaster as a result of human activities, especially global warming. At least one of the agendas behind this appears to be a desire to create a sense of fear and even panic that, in turn, can be directed towards the reengineering of developed country societies, especially as regards consumption patterns (directly challenging consumption patterns and pressing for wealth redistribution is politically difficult, which is why positioning the need for such changes as unfortunate but necessary side effects of avoiding "planetary disaster" is much more effective)." | Part II (The Allenby Column, GreenBiz.com)

Another disaster? "Global warming means Swallow chicks get more time with parents: Global warming is turning birds into better parents, a study shows." - "Barn swallows - a long-distance migratory bird with a distinctive forked tail - are taking more time over rearing their young due to climate change, say scientists. The warmer spring temperatures and a longer growing season are proving to be good news for them, reports New Scientist." (Life Style Extra)

Pappy's at it again: "NASA scientist: Time is running out to avoid catastrophic climate change" - "MAMMOTH LAKES - A leading NASA scientist who blew the whistle on the White House after it redacted significant findings regarding global warming expressed hope Tuesday that humans could avert the specter of catastrophic climate change, only if drastic action is taken within the next 10 years." (AP)

"If you want to be green – kill a cow" - "Stop, stop. I can feel the guilt building up already. I can feel the self-loathing welling in my skull, the horror at my appallingly affluent consumerist lifestyle." (Boris Johnson, London Telegraph)

"Climate change big fear for world's economic leaders" - "CLIMATE change and the possibility of a flu pandemic are among the global threats that most preoccupy the world's business leaders, according to a study released yesterday by the World Economic Forum." (The Scotsman)

What? They forgot invasion by space aliens? "EU warns of global climate chaos" - "The European commission yesterday stepped up the EU's campaign to lead the fight against climate change by warning that global warming was so catastrophic that it could trigger regional conflicts, poverty, famine and migration." (The Guardian)

"EU challenges world with new climate change target" - "BRUSSELS - The European Commission presented "the most ambitious policy ever" to fight climate change on Wednesday, challenging the world to follow Europe's lead in cutting greenhouse gas emissions." (Reuters)

"Plan to store emissions in empty North Sea oil wells" - "Scotland is set to play a major part in Europe's ambitious plans to reduce the pollution causing climate change, under plans set out yesterday." (The Herald)

"EU Business Slams Emissions, Renewables Targets" - "BRUSSELS - The European Union must not adopt a new target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions unless other parts of the world follow suit or else the bloc's industry will suffer, a top business lobby said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"UK Welcomes Tougher EU Energy Stance" - "LONDON - Britain welcomed the European Commission's plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions, force true energy market competition and improve supply security." (Reuters)

Well there's an endorsement... it's hard to think of a single UK politician who seems to be playing with a full deck where climate's concerned -- even the leader of the opposition is doing a climate chicken little impression.

"It's not cheap being green, Cameron admits" - "Everyone must play their part in combating climate change, the Conservative leader said today, but he admitted it was expensive to be completely eco-friendly." (Guardian Unlimited)

And how's the eco-toff doing? Like this: "Tory peers defect to UK Independence Party" - "Two former Conservative peers will defect to the United Kingdom Independence Party today, giving the Eurosceptic group its first foothold in Parliament. Lord Pearson of Rannoch and Lord Willoughby de Broke will create a UKIP group in the House of Lords, promising to recruit other members and to persuade leading Conservative donors to switch allegiance. The development is a severe blow for David Cameron, whose leadership faces mounting criticism for ditching traditional Conservative beliefs, with warnings from his own MPs that he is losing the support of core voters." (London Times)

Meanwhile: "Zac Goldsmith attacks Blair over holiday flights" - "David Cameron's chief green advisor, Zac Goldsmith, has waded into the row over Tony Blair's reluctance to curb his aviation emissions, accusing the prime minister of a lack of political courage over the issue. Mr Goldsmith, the publisher of the Ecologist and a prospective Tory MP, led the chorus of condemnation for Mr Blair, after the prime minister last night suggested that it was "impractical" to ask people to fly less, and that no politician running for office was suggesting it." (Guardian Unlimited)

In fact all the AGW nutters from Moonbat on have lined up to take potshots at Blair for daring to be honest (terrible crime for a politician, after all). The reality of the situation, of course, is that it's political suicide to try to clobber people for doing what all the good greenies do in their perpetual circuits of the world (to lecture us on why we shouldn't have the lifestyle they lead). Heck, even Brown pulled the escalator off their fuel tax because those pesky voters got restless...

"Rise above the hot air and carry on flying" - "For once, I agree and sympathise with Tony Blair. Like the Prime Minister, I do a great deal of flying, for business and pleasure, and I haven’t the slightest intention of altering my travel plans in any way. Mr Blair’s one mistake in flying to Florida for a family holiday was to offer a half-baked apology. He would have much done more good, for the global environment and for the quality of public debate in Britain, by sticking to his original position, pithily summarised by The Guardian’s front-page headline on Tuesday: “Carry on flying, says Blair — science will save the planet”." (Anatole Kaletsky, London Times)

"Ryanair boss says Brown is 'scalping' air passengers with tax hike" - "Gordon Brown was dragged into the row between airlines and the government yesterday after Ryanair accused the chancellor of stealing from passengers. Michael O'Leary, Ryanair's chief executive, said customers had been "scalped" by a doubling of air passenger duty in the pre-budget report last year." (The Guardian)

"MPs investigate carbon offset projects" - "MPs are to investigate the practice of offsetting the environmental cost of personal air travel, amid fears that the system is open to abuse." (The Guardian)

"The Big Question: Does carbon offsetting really help in the fight against climate change?" - "The tardy admission from Downing Street this week that Tony Blair will redeem the carbon dioxide created by his family's flight to Florida for a Christmas holiday - at a cost of £89.82 - has once more put the usefulness of offsetting on the agenda. Aviation is centre stage in the global warming debate. The industry produces 5.5 per cent of the UK's carbon dioxide but it is predicted to become one of the largest single sources, accounting for up to 25 per cent of the UK's emissions by 2050." (London Independent)

The big answer is that these are only placebos in a "fight" against a phantom menace. The world shows us regularly that the trivial warming available from atmospheric carbon dioxide enhancement does not induce unmitigated positive feedback and runaway water vapor-driven greenhouse. The much-hyped populist version of AGW simply does not exist.

"EU Climate Plan Seen Spurring UN Action" - "OSLO - A European plan for deeper cuts in greenhouse gases by 2020 may spur stalled UN talks on fighting global warming and encourage outsiders such as the United States and China to do more, UN leaders said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"Dreamy and timid: is it anything more than hot air?" - "The Energy Policy for Europe drawn up by the European Commission is an extraordinary document: dreamily ambitious where it should be cautious; timid where it should have been bold; and evasive in confronting countries’ reluctance to allow competition." (Bronwen Maddox, London Times)

As always, leaving it far too late to challenge the BS scares... "Chrysler questions climate change" - "Chrysler's chief economist Van Jolissaint has attacked European attitudes to global warming, describing climate change as "way, way in the future, with a high degree of uncertainty". (BBC)

... then running away because activists don't like to hear facts spoken out loud... "Global heat over online DCX story: DaimlerChrysler economist says he was misquoted by BBC" -"DETROIT -- Comments by DaimlerChrysler AG's chief economist this week on global warming ricocheted around the Internet and created a stir after a story was posted online by the BBC, the British-based news organization." (Detroit News)

... and it looks like others fail to follow the science despite its unpopularity: "Exxon Softens Climate-Change Stance" - "In one of the strongest signs yet that U.S. industry anticipates government curbs on global-warming emissions, Exxon Mobil Corp., long a leading opponent of such rules, is starting to talk about how it would like them to be structured." (Jeffrey Ball, Wall Street Journal)

"Russian Parliament Raps US on Kyoto, Trade Rules" - "MOSCOW - Russia's parliament called on the US Congress on Wednesday to approve the Kyoto Protocol on cutting carbon emissions and urged Washington to remove a trade restriction dating back to the Cold War." (Reuters)

How strange, Russia is fiddling the books (upping their Kyoto baseline to make more credits available for sale) while trying to drum up a forced market...

Everyone's jockeying for financial advantage: "Ryanair Boss Says Tax Old Planes, Business Class" - "LONDON - The head of Europe's biggest budget airline Ryanair urged Britain to adopt a fresh approach to taxing air travel which would target fuel-guzzling old planes and business class travellers." (Reuters)

"Europe fights the spread of climate change" - "Countries opposed to nuclear power came under pressure to think again as the European Union launched its plans for tackling climate change and improving energy security yesterday." (London Telegraph)

"Nuclear power necessary, EU told" - "BERLIN: The European Union will not succeed in meeting global targets to limit climate change unless more countries, including Germany, embrace nuclear energy, the German economics minister warned Wednesday." (Oxford Analytica)

"INTERVIEW - Tighter CO2 Caps Push Finland to Nuclear - Minister" - "HELSINKI - Finland can meet EU limits on carbon dioxide emissions by 2010 through more use of renewable energy and biofuels but further tightening of the limits would push it to build more nuclear plants, its energy minister said." (Reuters)

"EU Considers German Emissions Plea - EU Official" - "LONDON - The European Commission is considering a request from Germany to allow its industry to emit more greenhouse gases from 2008-12 by funding cuts in developing countries, an EC official told Reuters on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"Russia solves gas crisis as EU pushes for reform" - "Germany and France have dug in against plans to dismantle continental Europe's massive energy monopolies after the launch of controversial measures to shake-up gas and oil supplies and curb global warming." (London Independent)

"Hungary to Raise Phase Two CO2 Emissions Cap" - "BUDAPEST - Hungary plans to set a cap of 30.73 million tonnes carbon dioxide emissions per year on its industry in phase two of the European Union's emissions trading scheme, up from 30.24 million in the current period." (Reuters)

"California plans major carbon cut in its gasoline" - "LOS ANGELES – Now that California is on record as mandating a 25 percent cut in the state's greenhouse-gas emissions by 2020 - a move that made headlines worldwide four months ago - leaders here are starting to lay out how they intend to hit that ambitious mark. First up: requiring transportation fuels sold in California to contain less carbon, a major greenhouse gas." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Europe's oil shock ... and opportunity" - "Strongmen make weak partners, as Europe had to learn again this week. For the second time in a year, Russian leader Vladimir Putin cut off fuel exports to the Continent in a money dispute with a former Soviet satellite that is a pipeline transit state. This is not Europe's idea of energy security or of trusted neighbors." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"We're not anti-wind farms - but they should be offshore" - "Britain is wasting up to £1bn a year on subsidies for ineffective turbines, writes John Constable." (The Guardian)

"Russia offers to break the ice to open Port Churchill" - "OTTAWA — Russia's Transport Minister is urging the federal government to open Churchill, Man., as a year-round port, saying his country's modern icebreaker fleet can now accomplish what some fear global warming will do in a few decades." (Globe and Mail)

More likely some cling to the hope that global warming will open the northern sea route...

"ANALYSIS - Green Groups Say Loans Betray Banks' Promises" - "NEW YORK - Big Banks are finding it is not easy being green. Financial giants such as Merrill Lynch and Citigroup among others are under fire from environmental groups and some investors who complain they still fund power plants and other polluting projects despite adopting the Earth-friendly Equator Principles with much fanfare in 2003." (Reuters)

We think that's a typo -- probably should read: "... despite adopting the Flat-Earth Equator Principles..."

"Beavers helping frogs, toads survive" - "The humble beaver, besides claiming a spot of honour on the Canadian nickel, is also helping fellow species survive. Though considered a pest because of the culvert-clogging dams it builds on streams, the beaver is an ally in conserving valuable wetland habitat for declining amphibian populations, a University of Alberta study shows." (University of Alberta)

"Breed super cows, farms told" - "WA dairy farmers are being urged to consider breeding super-sized cows from genetically modified cloned animals which are capable of producing 40 per cent more milk than traditionally bred cows, as a way of averting financial ruin." (West Australian)

"US-made calf reopens clone debate" - "A calf grown from an embryo taken from a cloned cow has been born on a British farm for the first time." (BBC)

"Wheat can fatally starve insect predators" - "WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A newly identified wheat gene produces proteins that appear to attack the stomach lining of a crop-destroying fly larvae so that the bugs starve to death." (Purdue University)

January 10, 2007

"President Bush, the stealth humanitarian" - "Whether it's helping get the homeless into homes, fighting malaria and other diseases in Africa or spending on U.S. poverty programs, President Bush is breaking records - and getting no credit for it. You might say he's a stealth humanitarian, someone whose heartlessness is constantly preached while his accomplishments are persistently ignored." (Jay Ambrose, Scripps)

"Uganda: Country's Exporters Lose Anti-DDT Battle" - "Uganda's exporters have lost a long running battle with government over malaria controlling insecticide DDT. The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) last week okayed the use of DDT, which will now be sprayed in every house in the country to kill mosquitoes in an effort to control malaria." (East African Business Week)

"Blame Health ministry for spread of Rift Valley fever" - "As for Kenya, whether over 75 per cent of residents of North Eastern province and Kilifi regions live below the poverty line, with 90 per cent of the two populations unemployed, lack of prevention of mosquito breeding and control mechanisms have negatively influenced the well-being of such populations. Thus DDT not only has the potential to prevent malaria but also controls the spread of Rift Valley fever, Dengue fever, Yellow fever among many other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes as vectors." (Mundia Mundia jr, Kenya Times)

“Jump start your diet” and other diet tricks — the fine print" - "To mark the start of the diet season and the diet gimmicks we’re being bombarded with, Edgar at MousePrint exposes the fine print in the advertising for Kellogg’s new protein water called Special K2O Protein Water. That leads us to discover the truth about a slew of popular diet plans." (Junkfood Science)

"Children's packed lunches: Are they even worse than Turkey Twizzlers?" - "Packed lunches taken to school by 7-year olds are even less healthy than school meals used to be before Jamie Oliver set out to reform them. The Children of the 90s study, based at the University of Bristol, revealed today that in the year 2000, school meals were every bit as bad a Jamie Oliver suggested - but that children given packed lunches instead were even worse off nutritionally." (University of Bristol)

"How U.S. policies harm overseas forests" - "The National Association of Homebuilders is looking to Russia for one simple reason -- its pleas to increase the harvesting of wood in the United States have gone nowhere. The lack of attention to changing harvest policy is surprising in view of the fact that in many federally managed forests in the United States thinning is badly needed to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire -- a risk that grows with each passing month. Harvest activity in the nation's federal forests is a fraction of what it was in the relatively recent past. In California alone, state records show that harvesting trees on federal lands today is just 12 percent of what it was 20 years ago." (Jim Bowyer, Washington Times)

"Fires fuel mercury emissions, University of Michigan study finds" - "ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Forest fires release more mercury into the atmosphere than previously recognized, a multidisciplinary research project at the University of Michigan suggests. The study, which has implications for forest management and global mercury pollution, was published online today (Jan. 9) in the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles." (University of Michigan)

"CHILE: UV Radiation, the Dark Side of the Sun" - "SANTIAGO - The hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica, where the ozone thins out every southern hemisphere springtime, is recovering for the time being, but all regions in Chile will receive extremely high levels of ultraviolet radiation this month." (IPS)

Not really, Southern Chile never receives much UV radiation compared with the tropics on any normal day -- see Ozone 'Depletion' for haw stable the conceptual "ozone layer" isn't.

"Insurance Risk Forecast Called Faulty" - "The leading computer model used by the insurance industry to justify huge rate increases in coastal areas nationwide relies on faulty science, says an expert credited with helping develop it." (Tampa Tribune)

"New Literature Review: Hurricanes and Global Warming" - "J. Marshall Shephard, a professor at the University of Alabama, and Tom Knutson, NOAA GFDL, have just published a review paper titled "The Current Debate on the Linkage Between Global Warming and Hurricanes" with the journal Geography Compass, which publishes review articles. The full text of the paper can be found here in html and it is also available from that page in PDF." (Prometheus)

There's obviously a long way to go on "The long road to enlightenment" - "Climate change may be a hot topic in 2007, but the debate has been going on for 200 years. Stephan Harding looks back at a life-or-death struggle for understanding" (Guardian Unlimited)

What next, shouting to frighten away the thunder? Some enlightenment as people become increasingly superstitious over food, health care, weather... you name it.

"2006 Warmest on Record in United States - NOAA" - "SALT LAKE CITY - The year 2006 was the warmest in the contiguous United States since record keeping began 112 years ago, due in large part to an unusually warm December, US government weather forecasters said on Tuesday." (Reuters) | Climate Experts Worry as 2006 Is Hottest Year on Record in U.S. (Washington Post) | Agency Affirms Human Influence on Climate (New York Times)

As it happens we're just reformatting the thermometer graphic to give people a better idea of global mean temperatures and trends. Using a thousand less-urbanized sites from the METAR database suggests the last year (calendar date to calendar date, in this case) was about as near average as can be expected, within a tenth of a degree of the calculated mean without any enhanced greenhouse forcing.

Is the world really hot and getting hotter? That's a very good question but one to which no one has a good answer. The urbanized record is a little warm but that doesn't mean very much. The planet? Well, that's an open question as yet.

"A Serious Problem With The Use Of The Global Averaged Surface Temperature Trend To Diagnose Global Warming and Cooling" - "The global average surface temperature trend is an icon of the climate change community (e.g. see). Global policies are based on this temperature." (Climate Science)

"Global And NZ Temperatures Are Cooling, Not Warming" - "Figures just released by the U.S. National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC) show that mean global temperature for 2006 was 0.24 deg C cooler than it was in 1998. The seven years 1999 to 2005 were also cooler than 1998. Unlike air temperature measured by thermometers on the ground, NSSTC data comes from highly accurate measurements by satellites, correct to one tenths of a degree C." (New Zealand Climate Science Coalition)

"EU: Climate change will transform the face of the continent" - "Europe, the richest and most fertile continent and the model for the modern world, will be devastated by climate change, the European Union predicts today." (London Independent)

"Another Inaccurate News Release" - "I frequently access the excellent UK Met website and have the highest professional respect for many of their scientists and staff. However, its news releases are often inaccurate or incomplete as I webloged yesterday." (Climate Science)

"Climate change could fuel China's forest fires" - "BEIJING - China could face worse forest fires and be more severely affected by wood-destroying pests this year because of global warning, a senior forestry official said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"Climate Impacts Of Anthropogenic Land Use Changes On The Tibetan Plateau" - "A very interesting paper has appeared on the role of land use change on climate." (Climate Science)

"Plants point the way to coping with climate change" - "Roses flowering at Christmas and snow-free ski resorts this winter suggest that climate change is already with us and our farmers and growers will need ways of adapting. Scientists studying how plants have naturally evolved to cope with the changing seasons of temperate climates have made a discovery that could help us to breed new varieties of crops, able to thrive in a changing climate. The importance of the discovery is that it reveals how a species has developed different responses to different climates in a short period of time." (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council)

"The Lessons of Mid-Holocene Droughts" - "We have been told over and over that the buildup of greenhouse gases will vastly alter climate all over the world. The planet will be warmer, precipitation will be greater, droughts and floods will savage civilization, and everything will be worse than we could ever believe. In the case of the central United States, we have been warned repeatedly that higher atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will lead to a substantial increase in the duration, severity, and areal extent of droughts in the American heartland." (WCR)

"The state of ambition" - "Schwarzenegger's plans are notable for their audacity -- and their cost. Now the Legislature must lead." (LA Times)

"Kyoto sinks Europe: Billions in costs make it more and more unlikely that the EU can continue to go it alone slashing carbon emissions" - "A political drama is unfolding in Europe over the future of its Kyoto strategy. Its outcome will shape the future of climate policy and international negotiations for years to come." (Benny Peiser, Financial Post)

"Cities' vows to cut gas emissions questioned" - "Nearly 360 U.S. mayors representing more than 55.5 million Americans have pledged to dramatically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The effort and its leader -- Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels -- have been lauded by the "King of Climate Change," Al Gore, and celebrated in the pages of Vanity Fair. But although the vows may have generated warm, fuzzy feelings about helping Mother Earth, an early analysis finds that the cities are not on track for making needed cuts in planet-warming pollutants." (Seattle P-I)

Here's an excuse for you: "Climate change contributed to building's collapse" - "Wetter weather and frequent temperature swings put more wear and tear on the bricks and mortar in old buildings, experts say. They suggest that climate change may have contributed to Sunday's collapse of an Oslo apartment house built in the late 1880s." (Aftenposten)

Why? "Computer giant Dell offers to plant tree for every PC sold" - "Dell unveiled an initiative today allowing customers to donate to a tree-planting program to offset the carbon impact of electricity required to power their systems." (AFP)

From CO2 Science this week:

The Mass Balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet: What is its status? ... and why is its status what it is?

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week:
This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from the Kootenay Valley, Southern Canadian Rockies, Canada. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary:
Greening of the Earth (Observations - Global): As Al Gore continues to decry the atmospheric temperature and CO2 increases of the past quarter-century, earth's plants tell us they're loving them!

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Big Bluestem, European White Birch, Holly Oak, and Yellow Indian Grass.

Journal Reviews:
The Galactic Cosmic Ray-Cloud-Climate Connection: Another bit of empirical evidence for its potential significance emerges.

Solar Control of Asia's Southwest Monsoon: Evidence for the phenomenon continues to accumulate.

The Cariaco Basin's Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period: How distinctive were they?

Effects of Elevated CO2 on Two N-Fixing Acacia Species Over a Range of Soil Phosphorus Concentrations: Can atmospheric CO2 enrichment overcome the growth-retarding effects of low soil phosphorus concentrations on Acacia growth?

CO2 vs. SO2: Effects on Photosynthesis Rates of Field-Grown Soybeans: Do the positive effects of carbon dioxide counteract the negative effects of sulfur dioxide? (co2science.org)

"Blair, Monday: I'm not offsetting carbon. Blair, yesterday: Er, I've had a rethink" - "Tony Blair tried last night to restore his green credentials by announcing that he would offset carbon emissions from his and his family's holiday travel. Downing Street made the concession after the two lobby briefings yesterday were dominated by Mr Blair's insistence that he had no intention of cutting back on personal flights." (The Guardian)

"Do carbon offsets live up to their promise?" - "Consumers purchase them to relieve greenhouse-gas guilt, but there's no easy way to keep offset companies accountable." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Carbon offsets" are a scam pure and simple since there is zero hope they can make any measurable difference to planetary temperature.

"UK Opposition Chief Rejects Climate Doom and Gloom" - "LONDON - British opposition leader David Cameron said on Wednesday he was trying to recapture the climate change issue from the "doom mongers" and said it was important to show people there were positive reasons for saving energy." (Reuters)

"EU about to make climate change blunder-Greenpeace" - "BRUSSELS, Jan 9 - The European Union will sabotage its aim of getting developed nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions sharply if it sets a lower target for itself than it seeks for the rest of the world, Greenpeace said on Tuesday." (Reuters)

"German SPD Urges Merkel to Resist EU on Emissions" - "BERLIN - Germany's Social Democrats, who share power with Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats, has urged the chancellor in a letter to take a tough line with Brussels on its plans to cut carbon emissions. Government sources have told Reuters Germany is set to yield to demands from the European Union to cut its planned emissions under Europe's carbon trading scheme, the EU's main weapon against climate change." (Reuters)

"EU: Days of Secure, Cheap Energy Over" - "The days of secure, cheap energy for Europe are over, the European Commission will warn Wednesday as it moves to wean itself off oil imports and slash the carbon emissions blamed for global warming." (AP)

"PREVIEW - Critics Say New EU Energy Policy Lacks Bite" - "BRUSSELS - The European Commission launches an overhaul of EU environment and energy policy on Wednesday with new proposals that critics already say are too weak to fight climate change and secure future energy supplies." (Reuters)

"Russians turn off Europe's oil supply" - "Europe’s oil supplies from Russia were being held to ransom last night as the Kremlin fell into bitter dispute with a former Soviet satellite state. Moscow abruptly halted millions of barrels of oil destined for the EU via Belarus in an increasingly hostile wrangle with its neighbour." (London Times)

"Russia Becoming 'Frighteningly Arrogant' Over Oil" - "The latest energy spat between Russia and one of its former Soviet neighbors has cut off oil supplies to western Europe and led to fresh concerns over the west's dependence on Russian oil. It highlights how ruthless and arrogant Russia has become with its energy policy, and forces Europe to step up its search for alternative supplies, say German media commentators." (Der Spiegel)

"Merkel, EU's Barroso Condemn Russian Pipeline Shut-Off" - "German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso have criticized Russia for shutting down a pipeline pumping oil to Europe. Russia's move has dented its image as a reliable energy supplier, said Merkel. She also hinted that Germany may reconsider its phaseout of nuclear power." (Der Spiegel)

"Falling oil prices may change investment climate" - "LONDON - If oil prices are set on the downward path they appear to be following, investors and economists may have to start redrafting their plans." (Reuters)

"The Green Gripe With Obama: Liquefied Coal Is Still . . . Coal." - "Who, but who, would soil the environmental reputation of Barack Obama? The Democratic senator from Illinois gets stellar marks from greens. Just a few months ago he was calling global warming "real," saying: "It is here. . . . We couldn't just keep burning fossil fuels and contribute to the changing atmosphere without consequence." (Washington Post)

"Is ethanol the heart of gov.'s idea?" - "Activists and experts offer mixed reactions to the gas alternative after the call for a low-carbon fuel initiative features a key backer of ethanol." (LA Times)

"Fight over fuel savings to heat up" - "Automakers likely to face tougher federal regulations over gas efficiency, officials say." (Detroit News)

"Four Alberta companies express interest in buying nuclear power" - "CALGARY - A consortium including the research arm of the Alberta government expects proposals by the end of January looking at the feasibility of using nuclear power and other alternate energy sources to develop the booming oilsands. Meanwhile, four companies have expressed interest in using energy from nuclear reactors in three Alberta locations - including two in the oilsands, says Wayne Henuset of Calgary-based Energy Alberta Corp." (CP)

"Swiss City's Geothermal Plan in Doubt after Tremors" - "BASEL - Efforts to tap energy deep below the earth's crust to provide power for homes in the Swiss city of Basel may have to be scrapped after setting off tremors." (Reuters)

"Air Pollution Blamed for Killing Thousands of Iranians" - "TEHRAN - About 10,000 people were killed last year by illnesses related to air pollution in Iran's smog-choked capital, the Etemad-e Melli newspaper on Tuesday quoted the deputy mayor as saying." (Reuters)

"Fish farms in the ocean? Group pushes Congress to pass tough rules." - "With an eye toward putting more homegrown fish fillets on American plates, the US government is laying the groundwork to open its offshore waters to industrial-scale fish farms. But before it opens vast areas of ocean to aquaculture, Washington needs to ensure that fish farms don't sully the wider waters that nurture them, according to several experts. These experts offered a blueprint for building a sustainable offshore aquaculture industry in a report released earlier this week." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Send in the Clones, Spare Us the Clowns" - "The world is awash in self-appointed “consumer” groups who purport to look out for you and me. But the reaction of these meddlers to the Food and Drug Administration’s recent draft report declaring that meat and milk from cloned animals is safe reveals their narrow, anti-consumer political agenda." (CGFI)

January 9, 2007

"Threat looms over Ardh Kumbh" - "ARDH KUMBH Mela – one of the largest religious gatherings in the world – is under serious threat from vector-borne diseases. While all attention was being paid to provide adequate availability of water in the mela area for devotees and kalpvasis, arrangement for anti-larva measures and mosquito control has remained ignored. (Hindustan Times)

"Uganda: Government Invites DDT Observers" - "The Minister of Health Dr Stephen Mallinga told Sunday Monitor on Thursday that the ministry was already writing letters to relevant lead agencies and line ministries asking them to send observers to oversee the implementation of the DDT indoor residual spraying against malaria-spreading mosquitoes. (The Monitor)

"Green lobby must be treated as a religion" - "Anthropologists have established how different cultures independently evolve similar myths – familiar stories, such as the myth of the Fall and the myth of the Apocalypse, which meet deep-seated human needs. The Christian tradition describes the temptation of Adam and Eve and warns of the Last Judgment.

In Europe, these stories no longer have the impact they did. Environmentalism now fulfils for many people the widespread longing for simple, all-encompassing narratives. Environmentalism offers an alternative account of the natural world to the religious and an alternative anti-capitalist account of the political world to the Marxist. The rise of environmentalism parallels in time and place the decline of religion and of socialism." (John Kay, Financial Times)

Colorado Governor: PETA "A Bunch Of Losers," "Frauds" - "As many as 340,000 cows and steers have been left stranded by southeastern Colorado's most recent snowstorm, and National Guard units are helping ranchers in a frantic bid to save the freezing animals. Faced with 15-foot snowdrifts, rescuers are airlifting bales of hay and hoping for the best.

But as Coloradans are learning, the wealthy People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) isn't about to lift a finger. Not for those animals -- the ones destined to be flame-broiled, grilled, or roasted. Appearing on Denver radio station KRFX yesterday morning, Colorado Governor Bill Owens spoke for all of us. PETA, he declared, are "a bunch of losers" and "frauds". (Consumer Freedom)

"As Obesity Fight Hits Cafeteria, Many Fear a Note From School" - "Several states now send students’ Body Mass Index scores home to parents, turning the reports into a new rite of childhood. (New York Times)

"No breakfast and frequent fast food leads to extra pounds in aging teens" - "Providence, RI – The old phrase "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" has taken on new meaning for teenagers. A new study suggests that as teens enter adulthood, they are more likely to skip breakfast and increase their fast food consumption, and that both behaviors lead to an increased risk of weight gain. This is the finding of an article appearing in the December 2006 issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health by researchers at The Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center at The Miriam Hospital and Brown Medical School. (Lifespan)

"Study finds obese patients fair better than lean patients when hospitalized for acute heart failure" - "FINDINGS: Researchers report that for patients hospitalized with acute heart failure, a higher body mass index (BMI) was associated with a substantially lower in-hospital mortality rate. For every 5-unit increase in body mass, the odds of risk-adjusted mortality fell 10 percent. The finding held when adjusted for age, sex, blood urea nitrogen, blood pressure, and additional prognostic factors. (University of California - Los Angeles)

"U of M study shows fast food as family meals limits healthy food intake, increases obesity risk" - "Families whose meals frequently consist of fast food are more likely to have unhealthy eating habits, poor access to healthy foods at home, and a higher risk for obesity, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School. (University of Minnesota)

"Healthy eating is at a supermarket near you" - "Supermarket "grocery store tours" could be the key to healthier lifestyles and prevent chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease (CHD) concludes a study published in the Health & Fitness Journal. (University of Bristol)

"Nutrition studies' conclusions tied to funding source" - "Recent analyses have documented bias in pharmaceutical studies funded by industry. Now, an analysis from Children's Hospital Boston finds a similar phenomenon in scientific articles about nutrition, particularly in studies of beverages. The analysis – the first systematic one performed on nutrition studies – found that beverage studies funded solely by industry were four to eight times more likely to have conclusions favorable to sponsors' financial interest than were studies with no industry funding. Findings are published online in the January 9 issue of the journal PLoS Medicine. (Children's Hospital Boston)

"Weekend Woo: Digital age fears" - "Babyboomers raised on television might argue that they grew up just fine, with their tasting and smelling faculties intact, but one professor in the news today believes otherwise. Do Leave it to Beaver reruns, Sesame Street and reality TV really rot kids’ brains and lead to lethargy, obesity and an early grave, as he says? Such fears are popular today and many parents are being led to believe them but, as with most things that sound ominous and frightening, the evidence gives a very different picture. (Junkfood Science)

"Electronic medical records may not be as safe as we believe" - "You’ve heard of Identity Theft, but Medical Identity Theft can be even worse for your health. Imagine getting the wrong type of blood, treatment for a disease you don’t have or a medication you are allergic to because the hospital is using someone else’s records. (Junkfood Science)

"Prescription diet pills: a history of FDA favor" - "While the FTC has filed complaints against four companies for falsely advertising over-the-counter weight-loss products when their safety and effectiveness are not supported by reliable scientific evidence [See Junkfood Science Special Report], the January issue of the medical journal Lancet reports that not enough is known about the safety and long-term efficacy of the top prescription weight-loss drugs to know if their risks and high costs are justified, either. (Junkfood Science)

"Junkfood Science Special Report: FTC's diet pill crackdown - a marketing scheme in disguise" - "On January 4th, the Federal Trade Commission announced it had cracked down on makers of four over-the-counter (OTC) weight-loss pills for making false advertising claims, fining them $25 million. (Junkfood Science)

"Is evidence-based medicine sufficient for complementary and alternative medicine research?" - "Evidence-based medicine (EBM), is widely accepted among researchers as the "gold-standard" for scientific approaches. Over the years, EBM has both supported and denied the value of allopathic medicine practices, while having less association with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practices. Since most CAM practices are complex and focus on healing rather than cure the question arises as to whether EBM principles are sufficient for making clinical decisions about CAM. That is the focus of this special issue of Integrative Cancer Therapies by SAGE Publications. (SAGE Publications)

"'Red tide toxins' leave beachgoers breathless" - "The ecological phenomenon, known as Florida red tide, can be harmful for people with asthma. Florida red tides, an annual event in areas along the Gulf of Mexico, are blooms of the ocean organism, Karenia brevis (K brevis), that are concentrated along shorelines and produce highly potent aerosolized toxins. New research reported in the January issue of CHEST, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), shows that Florida red tide toxins (known as brevetoxins) can impact respiratory function and increase respiratory symptoms in patients with asthma. (American College of Chest Physicians)

"Some Northwest Residents See Trees Differently After Storm" - "Some experts have begun a campaign to restore trust in trees after winds slammed them into property around Puget Sound last month. (New York Times)

"An Update: Faulty Catastrophe Models?" - "Last April we discussed at length the profound significance to hurricane risk estimation of changes made by a leading company, Risk Management Solutions or RMS, to the implementation of catastrophe models used by insurance, reinsurance, among others in the risk management business. A news story from yesterday’s Tampa Tribune provides a perspective that underscores our original analysis. (Prometheus)

"2007 - Forecast by the UK Met Office To Be The Warmest Year Yet - What Is The Basis For This Claim?" - "There was a news release 4 January 2007 by the British Met Office which stated that “2007 is likely to be the warmest year on record globally, beating the current record set in 1998, say climate-change experts at the Met Office. (Climate Science)

"Have Past IPCC Reports Adequately Reported On The "Big Picture" Of Climate Change?" - "I have decided to post a reply to an important comment by Fergus Brown on January 6, 2007 as a weblog [thank you Fergus for your input which helps frame the issue and should promote further constructive comments]. With respect to the IPCC, the assumption that the past IPCC assessments adequately report on our understanding of the human impact on the climate system is not correct. (Climate Science)

"On Borehole Temperature Data - Metadata Including Photographic Documentation of the Sites is Needed" - "Borehole data offers an excellent method to assess long term ground temperature trends. Since shorter term temperature variations are damped with depth, boreholes provide a low pass filter of temperature variations. (Climate Science)

"UN Official Wants World Summit on Global Warming" - "PARIS - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon should call a meeting of heads of government to decide the next steps against global warming, the UN official responsible for tackling climate change said on Monday. (Reuters)

"New blog: Hot Air from the NY Times" - "For those of you not aware, computer simulations such as the aforementioned use dozens, if not hundreds of variables which are determined by extensive (and expensive) research. The problem is that nature is a tough beast to predict with a computer, since the intertwining relationship between these parameters is complex. Furthermore, there are always factors not included in the models, for various and obvious reasons: They may be unknown at the time the model is created, there could be uncertainty in the value of the quantity which may render its effect meaningless, it may be difficult to incorporate the effect into the computer program, the resolution of the numerical simulation may be too small to capture effects that affect long-term predictions, etc. (Bill Wangard)

"Ellesmere Island Driftwood" - "It turned out that the age of Ellesmere Island ice shelves is estimated by driftwood located on the shore. An age of ~3,000 years is estimated for the Ward Hunt ice shelf (in which a crack recently developed) based on driftwood located onshore. I haven’t seen corresponding information on the Ayles ice shelf (which actually has broken up.) (Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit)

"Antarctic Ice Shelf Melt: Remember the Holocene!" - "The recent climate change literature contains a great deal of evidence in support of the idea that the high latitudes will experience the greatest atmospheric warming. One of the most rapidly warming regions is the Antarctic Peninsula, and it is no surprise that warming here shortens the spatial and temporal extents of snow cover, glaciers, and sea ice. Ice shelves are not immune from the effects of warming, and rather dramatic ice shelf recession has occurred over periods as short as days and weeks as apparent thresholds in the drivers of melt are surpassed. The break-up of the Larsen-B ice shelf of the Antarctic Peninsula in 2002 received a great deal of worldwide attention, as it was believed that the Larsen-B had remained intact for thousands of years. The volume of glacial melt has prompted some climate change alarmists to push the panic button on global sea level rise. At the front of this crowd is Al Gore, who loves to show images and video footage of falling glacial ice and computer generated representations of inundated coastal areas while claiming that the recent global warming is unprecedented. Such images are meant to generate shock, fear, and a desire to place blame. There is little doubt that warming has indeed occurred across parts of Antarctica over the last few decades. However, let’s consider the possibility that a significant portion of the warming may be natural, and that regions, such as the Antarctic Peninsula, are likely to have experienced as warm or warmer conditions in their climate history, before human emission of greenhouse gases. (WCR)

"Weeds signal evolution explosion" - "Fast-growing weeds have evolved over a few generations to adapt to climate change and that might lead to an "evolution explosion" in response to global warming, US scientists reported today. (Sydney Morning Herald) | Annual plants may cope with global warming better than long-living species (University of California - Irvine)

"EU to Make New Climate Change Commitment with Cuts" - "BRUSSELS - Europe will seek to spearhead the fight against global warming this week when the European Commission proposes a bold unilateral cut in greenhouse gas emissions as well as liberalisation of energy markets. (Reuters)

"EU to Propose 20 Percent Emissions Cut by 2020 - Official" - "BRUSSELS - The European Commission will propose the European Union pledge to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 20 percent by 2020, compared with 1990 levels, an official said on Monday. (Reuters)

"EU to unveil plans for energy 'industrial revolution'" - "In a paper to be presented this week, the Commission proposes a three-year road map towards a common European energy policy, with the aim of achieving a 20% greenhouse-gas emissions reduction by 2020. (EurActiv)

"Blair prefers holidays to environment" - "BRITISH Prime Minister Tony Blair, fresh from a row over his holiday in a pop star's Florida home, admitted today he would be reluctant to give up his holidays abroad in the interests of preventing global warming. (Reuters)

"Blair says no politician would ban cheap flights" - "Tony Blair has predicted that no politician in Britain will ever end cheap air travel because it would risk committing political suicide. In an interview with Sky News to be broadcast today, the Prime Minister admits he is reluctant to give up his holidays abroad and doubts any government would end cheap flights or impose draconian curbs on motoring. (London Independent) | Carry on flying, says Blair - science will save the planet (The Guardian)

"ANALYSIS - Rising Carbon Emissions Set Energy Challenge" - "LONDON - Bold action on climate change requires a massive shift towards low carbon energy by 2050 and the next decade is critical as emissions and temperatures rise. (Reuters)

"Next Schwarzenegger target: fuel emissions" - "SACRAMENTO — Escalating California's battle against global warming, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to announce today that he will order a 10% cut in motor vehicle emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide. Under the proposal, petroleum refiners and gasoline sellers would be ordered to reduce the carbon content of their fuels over the next 13 years." (LA Times)

"ANALYSIS - Renewable Energies to Rise on Global Warming Woes" - "OSLO - Solar, wind and other renewable energies are set to surge by 2050, spurred by worries about global warming but their ascent will be braked by high costs and cheap coal from China to the United States. (Reuters)

"ANALYSIS - Oil Demand, Growing Now, Seen Peaking Before 2050" - "BEIJING - Global oil demand will peak by 2050, possibly even before world production does, as environmental policies harden, security worries speed the hunt for alternatives and technology makes other fuels cheaper. (Reuters)

"A Reasonable Solution to CO2 Emissions" - "Would you believe that within the foreseeable future the carbon dioxide emissions caused by the combustion of fossil fuels in America could be reduced by 60 percent by using recognized alternative methods, with no loss of energy to the nation? (E. Ralph Hostetter, NewsMax)

"ANALYSIS - Nuclear Power Faces Reduced Role in Energy Mix" - "LONDON - Nuclear power's share of global power supply is likely to shrink over the next few decades as political indecision and public opposition stunt its growth. (Reuters)

"ANALYSIS - Straw and Wood Chips in Line as Energy Sources" - "NEW YORK - Biotech and energy companies are racing to glean ultra-clean fuel from untapped sources like straw and wood chips, betting policies to tackle climate change and rising food prices will make it competitive with oil. (Reuters)

"ANALYSIS - Natural Gas Seen Keeping Place as Energy Source" - "MADRID - Natural gas, the cleanest of the currently available fossil fuels, is likely to keep its place as a major energy source with consumption growing at around 2.5 percent a year over the coming decades, analysts say. (Reuters)

"ANALYSIS - Coal to Gain Larger Share of Energy Mix" - "LONDON - Coal is the only fossil fuel likely to be available next century and its use will grow in coming decades provided that carbon capture and storage technology (CCST) is adopted on a large scale. (Reuters)

"Japan's clean coal push self-serving as well" - "SODEGAURA, Chiba Pref. Japan, which boasts the world's most energy-efficient economy, is helping other parts of Asia, including emerging powerhouses China and India, to curb coal consumption. The effort isn't altruism -- it is a bid to bolster Japan's own energy security. (Kyodo)

Say what? "Coalmining set off Newcastle earthquake: researchers" - "TWO hundred years of underground coalmining triggered the Newcastle earthquake that killed 13 people in 1989 and caused damage that ran to billions of dollars, researchers in the US have found. (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Newcastle earthquake study 'far-fetched'" - "AUSTRALIAN geoscientists and mining experts have labelled a US report linking the 1989 Newcastle earthquake to coal mining in the area as "far-fetched". (The Australian)

"Russia Wields A Crude Weapon" - "Vice President Dick Cheney raised hackles in June when he warned Russia not to use its energy resources as "tools of intimidation or blackmail." Today, he seems like a prophet. It seems no longer in doubt: Post-Soviet Russia, under President Vladimir Putin, sees its immense energy resources not merely as a means to economic advancement, but as a weapon to get back in the Superpower game with the U.S. (IBD)

"It may be nearer, but is it greener?" - "Many people buy locally produced food in the belief that it will be better for the environment than food flown thousands of miles to supermarkets, but is that really true? (London Times via Greenie Watch)

"Food Wars: New York Times on E. coli outbreaks: Conservatives did it." - "According to the New York Times, not only are conservatives responsible for the problems of Iraq, Iran, and global warming, they are also to blame for this fall’s E. coli outbreaks in spinach and lettuce that killed three and sickened several hundred. (Alex Avery, NRO)

"Dishing the dirt on organic food" - "BRITAIN'S agricultural industry was split last night over claims there is no conclusive evidence that organic food is healthier than products grown by conventional methods. (The Scotsman)

"Gene Foods, Struggling in EU, Don't Live Up to Hype, FOE Says" - "Gene-altered crops haven't lived up to ``hype'' and or succeeded in winning widespread acceptance, especially in Europe, according to a report published by environmentalist group Friends of the Earth International. (Bloomberg)

"Genetically modified spud healthier, creators say" - "Biologists in Idaho are hoping their breakthrough potato, which they say delivers superior taste and health benefits, will quell suspicions about the safety of genetically modified foods. (CBC News)

Beijing's Greenhouse-Gas Effort Attracts Heat
Monday, 08 January 2007

While China is turning its environmental problems into a shrewdly managed financial asset -- managing carbon credits -- critics worry that some projects Beijing is encouraging are siphoning Western carbon-market investment away from the kind of emission-reduction projects the burgeoning global "carbon market" was designed to encourage: those that generate energy more cleanly, such as natural-gas-fired power plants and wind turbines. (Wall Street Journal)

Britons fritter year's carbon allocation by February
Monday, 08 January 2007

By the end of today, the average British person will be responsible for the same amount of carbon emissions as the average person in the world's poorest countries will produce all year. (The Guardian)

The Coal Trap
Monday, 08 January 2007
Beijing battles for control of a runaway industry that both powers China, and threatens its future. (Newsweek)

Arctic melt soaks up carbon dioxide
Monday, 08 January 2007
THE clouds of global warming don't exactly boast a silver lining, but there is a little bonus. Melting sea ice in the Arctic is enabling ocean waters to soak up more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Ice retreat over the last 30 years has tripled the amount of CO2 the Arctic Ocean can absorb. (New Scientist)

Idaho company attempts to perfect a super spud
Monday, 08 January 2007

BOISE, Idaho - In the potato capital of the world, spud honchos made sizzling rich on America's french fry affair fill downtown offices. In the distance, potato fields sprawl east and west and there are ample cafes to carbo-load on spuds served baked, stuffed, fried and, somewhat miraculously, frozen into ice cream.

And inside tucked-away laboratories in the town that hash browns built, teams of scientists are splicing potato genes, working daily to perfect Idaho's top cash crop with modern biotechnology. (AP)

We cannot afford to become a part of the flat-Earth brigade
Monday, 08 January 2007
GENETICALLY modified crops are back in the news again, but many farmers will reckon that it is for the wrong reason. Recently the British Potato Council, the organisation to which all commercial growers must subscribe through a levy, announced that it was not going to support research into the development of GM strains of potato resistant to blight. That has to be an own goal if ever there was one. (The Scotsman)

Let them eat clones
Monday, 08 January 2007
Cloned meat, genetically modified crops and hormone-injected milk cows do not qualify as progress to the organic food crowd, which says such advances will cause as-yet-unimaginable health and environmental damage. It would be easier to take them seriously if scientists didn't dismiss most of their concerns out of hand, after voluminous studies showing no ill effects. (LA Times)

I'll have a cloneburger, medium rare
Monday, 08 January 2007

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration said that cloned animals are safe to eat. This isn't a surprise, of course; cloned animals — the ones that live to term — are really no different than any other animal any more than a test-tube baby is different than a typical one. Yet the announcement was followed by the expected hand-wringing from opponents — opponents who either fight any kind of biotechnology or who get their views of cloning from too many bad science-fiction movies. Or both. (Andrew Kantor, USA Today)

How journalism can hide the truth about science
Monday, 08 January 2007
The process of science is far less linear than the media's image of a neat series of breakthroughs suggests. Elmien Wolvaardt describes how simplistic reporting can distort. (SciDev.Net)

Proposed FDA claim recognizes role of key nutrients in dairy in reducing osteoporosis risk
Monday, 08 January 2007

Rosemont, Ill. – January 5, 2007 – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed an amended health claim that would communicate to consumers the value of foods high in calcium and vitamin D for reducing the risk of osteoporosis. The National Dairy Council (NDC) acknowledges and supports the body of scientific evidence that backs the proposed claim, which indicates that a lifestyle that includes a well-balanced diet with adequate calcium and vitamin D, and physical activity, helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis. (National Dairy Council)

Chemistry of volcanic fallout reveals secrets of past eruptions
Monday, 08 January 2007
A team of American and French scientists has developed a method to determine the influence of past volcanic eruptions on climate and the chemistry of the upper atmosphere, and significantly reduce uncertainty in models of future climate change. (University of California - San Diego)

Two Strategies for Avoiding Truth
Monday, 08 January 2007

"Physicists do it...Psychologists do it...Even political scientists do it...Research findings confirming a hypothesis are accepted more or less at face value, but when confronted with contrary evidence, we become "motivated skeptics" ... picking apart possible flaws in the study, recoding variables, and only when all the counterarguing fails do we rethink our beliefs...

But what about ordinary citizens?...On reading a balanced set of pro and con arguments about affirmative action or gun control, we find that rather than moderating or simply maintaining their original attitudes, citizens - especially those who feel the strongest about the issue and are the most sophisticated - strengthen their attitudes in ways not warranted by the evidence." (Arnold Kling, TCS Daily)

Fat children burdens?
Monday, 08 January 2007
Another costs of “obesity” claim appeared in the news this week, this one pointing to children. Reuters reported: “Obesity raises children’s health costs.” (Junkfood Science)

Researchers admit survey important "first step" for policy makers
Monday, 08 January 2007
Another wave of news stories (all exactly alike) have hit over recent days, repeating the claim that most Americans support government policies to fight “obesity” in the U.S. (JunkFood Science)

Concern over oil firms' aid links with Bill Gates
Monday, 08 January 2007
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is investing in companies that could be causing ailments in the very people it helps to treat in the developing world, according to an investigation by the Los Angeles Times. The world's largest philanthropic organisation, established by the Microsoft billionaire and his wife in 2000, pours hundreds of millions of dollars into polio and measles immunisation and research worldwide, including areas such as the Niger Delta. At the same time, however, the Foundation invests in petroleum giants that operate oil plants in the area such as Eni, an Italian company, the newspaper reported. (Daily Telegraph)

Forget class, wealth, the North-South divide - being fat or thin is the only thing that matters
Monday, 08 January 2007
Weight is the new divide in society with the vast majority thinking the rich tend to be slim and clever while the poor are overweight and less intelligent, claims a survey today. Such is the pressure to be slender that only 6 per cent of 2,000 women polled - average age 31 - had never dieted. The poll found that a woman of 31 had been on an average of 38 diets and had first dieted at 18. Nearly one in three women had dieted before their 14th birthday. (London Telegraph)

If the eco-snobs had their way, none of us would go anywhere
Monday, 08 January 2007
Is your journey really necessary? Who would have thought that, in the absence of world war and in the midst of unprecedented prosperity, the state would be telling us not to travel? Just as ordinary working people had begun to enjoy the freedoms that the better-off have known for generations - the experience of other cultures, other cuisines, other climates - they are threatened with having those liberating possibilities priced out of their reach. (Janet Daly, London Telegraph)

Mothers' wombs could provide source of stem cells, without the ethical controversy
Sunday, 07 January 2007
Scientists have found a new source of stem cells that does not involve destroying embryos. The cells can be harvested easily from the fluid surrounding developing babies in the womb and could help overcome ethical concerns. (The Guardian)

Car Boom Puts Europe on Road to a Smoggy Future
Sunday, 07 January 2007

Since 1990, emissions from transportation in Ireland have risen about 140 percent, the most in Europe. But Ireland is not alone. Vehicular emissions are rising in nearly every European country, and across the globe. Because of increasing car and truck use, greenhouse-gas emissions are increasing even where pollution from industry is waning. (New York Times)

Huh? The Ununited States, When It Comes to the Weather
Sunday, 07 January 2007

WESTERN Europe often experiences extremes of weather in a uniform way, as when a catastrophic summer heat wave in 2003 in a half-dozen countries caused the deaths of thousands of people. In the United States, which spans a continent, there is almost never a shared sense of meteorological misery — as was made vividly clear when epic snows buried Denver as if two winters hit back to back while the Northeast basked in warmth that seemed to render the whole idea of seasons meaningless. (Andrew Revkin, New York Times)

Leftover eggnog in the journalists' lunchroom? Europe has enormous topographical variety and even neighboring valleys can experience weather very differently, uniform it is not. Regardless, US politicians are not selected from a pool of people who have only experienced nice weather, it's likely they have all experienced extremes. Bizarre piece.

EU's grim climate change warning
Sunday, 07 January 2007
A dire set of predictions of the consequences of global warming in Europe is contained in a report for the European Commission. It forecasts that by 2071 climate change will cause droughts and floods that will kill 90,000 people a year while damage from rising sea levels will cost tens of billions of euros. (Financial Times)

Who Said This? No Cheating!
Sunday, 07 January 2007
One day, anthropologists, sociologists, and maybe even psychoanalysts will look back on the early-twenty first century debate on climate change with incredulity and bafflement. Consider the following statement as a weekend pop quiz – no Googling if you wan[t] to play along! (Prometheus)

Americans covet beach homes, but insurers fret over hurricane risk
Sunday, 07 January 2007

Many Americans dream of owning a beachfront home with ocean views, but big home insurance firms are retreating from the Atlantic coast amid fears that climate change will unleash more dangerous hurricanes. The insurers say the risk of a "perfect storm" causing vast damage to communities along the Atlantic coast has simply become too high since Hurricane Katrina obliterated New Orleans in 2005. (AFP)

Hmm... actually the chance of a "perfect storm" is exactly the same post-Katrina as it was pre-Katrina, although they may be more risk-averse after having paid out some profits.

Record Temperatures Across Himalayans Spark Climate Change Fears
Sunday, 07 January 2007

Temperatures in rugged Tibet have hit record highs in recent days, China's state press said Sunday, as a scientific survey warned of the impact of global warming in the Himalayan region. Friday's temperature in the Qamdo area of eastern Tibet was 21.8 degrees Celsius (71 degrees Fahrenheit), 1.7 degrees higher than the previous record set for the same day in 1996, Xinhua news agency reported. (AFP)

So, which message coming out of China should we listen to, the politically correct one above, designed to sell emission credits, or this one? Meanwhile, Northern India cold snap toll now 57 (AFP)

Pandora's Polar Bear
Sunday, 07 January 2007
The US Fish & Wildlife Service has proposed classifying the polar bear as a threatened species. What makes this unusual is that the bear is not threatened by humans. The polar bear is threatened by computer models. (Washington Pest)

The sun moves climate change
Sunday, 07 January 2007
Man produces greenhouse gases and greenhouse gases cause global warming, most scientists agree, but how, exactly, do greenhouse gases cause global warming? While theories abound, as do elaborate computer models incorporating a multitude of gases and other climatic factors, none has been conclusive. And if greenhouse gases aren't responsible, what else could be? A clear, verifiable mechanism showing how a greenhouse gas or other physical entity can drive climate change has eluded science. Until now. (Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post)

Watch out! There's a butterfly about! Climate change brings butterfly invasion
Sunday, 07 January 2007
The number of butterfly and moth species migrating to Britain for the summer has increased fourfold in the past 25 years, researchers have found. (London Times)

Climate change brings malaria back to Italy
Sunday, 07 January 2007

Sandwiched between temperate Europe and African heat, Italy is on the front line of climate change and is witnessing a rise in tropical diseases such as malaria and tick-borne encephalitis, a new report says. (The Guardian)

No, international travel brings "tropical" disease, just as it did in the early days of sail.

Climate key to Sphinx's riddle
Sunday, 07 January 2007
GLOBAL warming is one of the greatest threats to present day civilisation but work by a team of Scots scientists suggests the ancient Egyptians may have been earlier victims of climate change. (Scotland on Sunday)

Governor to push for new dams despite long-standing resistance
Sunday, 07 January 2007

SACRAMENTO – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to draw on his popular campaign against global warming to promote something not so popular among environmentalists – building new dams in California. His strategy will attempt to capitalize on fears that climatic disruptions linked to global warming could take a toll on fish and wildlife, as well as increase flood risks and reduce overall water supplies for a growing state. (Copley News Service)

High Noon in Washington
Sunday, 07 January 2007
It is almost as though the European Union is trying to provoke. Not only will two of its top officials today warn President Bush that he now has the last chance for a compromise on trade talks for the next three or four years; they will also present him with a plan to combat climate change that goes far beyond the Kyoto emissions cuts rejected by Mr Bush as “fatally flawed”. (London Times)

Spain takes lead in closing down the websites that tell girls it's good to be anorexic
Sunday, 07 January 2007

Health authorities in Madrid have acted to close a pro-anorexia website, accusing it of endangering the lives of teenage girls. Four months after the city led the world in the Size 0 debate by banning ultra-skinny models from its catwalks, health officials are shining the spotlight on the growing number of “pro-ana” websites that glorify starvation diets. (London Times)

ASIA: China Turns Mekong Into Oil-Shipping Route
Sunday, 07 January 2007

BANGKOK - As energy hungry China turns the ecologically fragile Mekong river into an oil-shipping route, green activists and environmentalists in South-east Asia worry that spillages could destroy the livelihoods of millions of people residing along the lower reaches of the region's largest waterway. (IPS)

Why aren't they more worried about the livelihoods of the populations of energy-poor developing nations, including China?

Ireland and Northern European countries to benefit from global warming if Gulf Stream doesn't slow
Sunday, 07 January 2007
Chilly northern Europe could reap big benefits from global warming, while the Mediterranean faces crippling shortages of both water and tourists by the middle of the century, according to the first comprehensive study of its effects on the continent. (Finfacts)

No evidence organic food is better for our health, says Minister
Sunday, 07 January 2007

Highly-priced organic food is no better for us than conventionally-grown farm produce, a Minister claimed. Environment Secretary David Miliband said consumers who opted for chemical-free, naturally-produced food did so as a 'lifestyle choice' rather than because science had proved it was healthier. (Evening Standard) | Organic farmers hit back after minister casts doubt on healthier food claims (The Guardian)

See! He does have endearing features after all.

UK: Minister 'fails' to take climate change seriously
Sunday, 07 January 2007

A UK government minister who attacked leading European airlines for failing to take climate change seriously was slapped down on Friday by industry critics and government colleagues. ... His outburst, in an interview with The Guardian newspaper, met a ferocious response from Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s outspoken chief executive, who said the minister was “foolish and ill-informed”. ... Mr Pearson was also rebuked by furious colleagues, who said his outburst contradicted the policy of the government of Tony Blair, prime minister, of working with industry to curb emissions. A senior official in the environment department said Mr Pearson had been told: “Get back in your box and stay there. We want to be at the centre of government decision-making not an arm of Greenpeace.” (Financial Times) | Minister told 'no more interviews' after airlines attack (Evening Standard) | Ryanair boss rounds on 'foolish' minister in climate change row (The Guardian) | Green groups tell airline boss and minister to stop bickering and act (London Independent)

Global warming still a fear, not a fact
Sunday, 07 January 2007
After more than 200 years, you would think that non-Aboriginal Australians would be used to the fact that the continent experiences great variability in its climate, oscillating between years of too much rain and years of too little. Yet each time we have one of these naturally occurring events, there have been calls for something to be done about the weather. And there have always been people prepared to make alarming predictions and offer simplistic solutions to phenomena that are still not completely understood by meteorologists and climatologists. (David Day, The Age)

There's still hope: Frozen attitudes bode ill
Sunday, 07 January 2007

... Unfortunately, some of Dingell's ideas are stuck in the 1950s as well -- most notably his thinking about global warming. While most Americans are looking for solutions to a problem that is threatening Florida's coast, is causing species to go extinct around the world, and is just plain causing a lot of wacky weather, Dingell says he's not even sure if it is a problem. (Glenn Hurowitz, Sun-Sentinel)

While Hurowitz may be unimpressed Dingell seems somewhat more rational on "global warming" than the majority of politicians.

Temperature rising in debate over climate change
Sunday, 07 January 2007

WASHINGTON - Both advocates and opponents of mandatory limits on greenhouse gases are preparing for a global warming debate that is heating up fast.

The liberal advocacy group Union of Concerned Scientists fired a shot across the bow of climate change skeptics Wednesday, issuing a report that accuses ExxonMobil Corp. of funding a multimillion-dollar campaign to create doubt about the scientific underpinnings of climate change theory. (Cox News Service)

We've even had two or three people write apparently buying into the UCS well-poisoning propaganda, so obviously their tactics work to some extent.

The simple answer, of course, is that if deep-pocket activist groups are so convinced our opinions and research are for sale, why haven't they put their money on the table? Heck, collectively these guys have multi-billions, if our research and opinion is the only thing standing between "world saving action" and the current situation then surely it's way cheaper to buy us out, isn't it? Even allowing for inflation, how expensive could 30 pieces of silver be?

Some keep the faith, some see the light...
Sunday, 07 January 2007
... a former Green Party Candidate who has broken ranks over the Kyoto issue, Norm Siefken wishes to publicize his position. (Chilliwack Times)

Meanwhile, in other locations you won't hear about...
Sunday, 07 January 2007
... Nenana, of "ice classic" fame, is setting record cold day-of-year temperatures -- and it's all just weather. Hat tip Mike O. (History for Nenana, Alaska, Weather Underground)

72-Degree Day Breaks Record in New York
Sunday, 07 January 2007

In another mark of an unusually warm winter, the previous record of 63 degrees set in 1950 was shattered. (New York Times)

Funny, in less "enlightened" times, people would really appreciate a "soft" winter and respite from harsh conditions -- no matter how brief.

The Senate's Task on Warming
Sunday, 07 January 2007

It is important that the new Democratic leadership not lose sight of a fundamental reality: Saturating the atmosphere with greenhouse gases is loading the dice in a dangerous game. (New York Times)

Actually it's much more important the Senate realize meddling with greenhouse emissions is an all-pain, no-measurable-gain exercise. We don't know the mean surface temperature with an accuracy greater than the estimate of net warming since the Industrial Revolution but we do know that only a decreasing portion of that estimate can be attributed to fossil fuel emissions -- don't cause a great deal of harm for no useful result.

With Mild Winter, the City Revisits Fall Fashion and the Record Books
Sunday, 07 January 2007

With parts of the nation shivering and the Rockies and the Midwest pummeled by another snowstorm, the record for latest appearance of snow in New York City was broken with little fanfare. (New York Times)

But it's just weather guys... note that the last time NY snow was so "late" was 1878.

Health Guidelines Suggested for Models
Sunday, 07 January 2007

The fashion industry sells modish trapeze dresses and $800 platform ankle boots. But it also sells women an ideal of beauty embodied by the models who walk the runways and appear in fashion magazines. (New York Times)

China's largest lake may vanish in 200 years
Friday, 05 January 2007

BEIJING - China's largest lake, holy to Tibetans but suffering from global warming and desertification, may vanish in two centuries even as the government pledges $870 million (449 million pounds) to stop it shrinking, Xinhua news agency said on Friday.

Desertification had been brought about by overgrazing around Lake Qinghai, in the remote western province of Qinghai, which is at the crossroads of several bird migration routes across Asia and is about 360 km (220 miles) in circumference. (Reuters)

UK: Brown plans Whitehall shake-up to put new focus on climate change
Friday, 05 January 2007

Gordon Brown is drawing up plans for a major shake-up of Whitehall departments to allow the Government to give greater priority to combating climate change.

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) could become a more powerful Department of Environment and Energy. At present, energy comes under the remit of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), which would face abolition.

David Miliband, the Secretary of State for the Environment, is likely to head the expanded department. As well as leading the fight against climate change, he would be in charge of plans to build a generation of nuclear power stations and boost renewable sources such as wind, wave and solar power. (London Independent)

Get rid of Trade and Industry and put an enviro-nutter in charge of energy supply and distribution... yeah, that'll work (for China and every other competitor).

Temperatures rise; oil prices fall
Friday, 05 January 2007

NEW YORK — Crude oil futures have plunged nearly 9 percent in the last two days, the biggest drop since December 2004, as mild U.S. weather curbed heating fuel use.

An unseasonably mild winter in the Northeast and Midwest has led to a buildup in inventories and, as a result, weaker prices.

"There is no winter at all; thus we have a lot of supplies with no home, and prices have nothing to do but fall," said James Cordier, president of Liberty Trading Group in Tampa, Fla.

"The temperature forecasts keep going up," said John Kilduff, vice president of risk management at Fimat USA in New York. The weather "is clobbering both crude and heating oil." (Houston Chronicle)

The real catastrophe, of course, is that a mild winter over population centers is a mere anomaly and both the cold and the demand for heating energy will return. Odd that warming is so dreaded despite its obvious benefits though, eh?

Gates Foundation taps a second St. Louisan
Friday, 05 January 2007

A second prominent figure in the St. Louis plant science community will be leaving for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has been gobbling up America's best and brightest to help it spend billions of dollars on issues of global poverty and hunger.

Lawrence Kent, the director of international programs at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in Creve Coeur, said he would begin work in Seattle on March 1.

He was recruited for the position by Rob Horsch, a former Monsanto executive who left for the foundation last fall. Both will be working to fund projects aimed at small farmers in the developing world. (St Louis Post-Dispatch)

Malaria milestone
Friday, 05 January 2007
Africa: Concentrated funding for treatment—and the controversial return to insecticides—is beginning to lower malaria's scourge (Priya Abraham, World Magazine)

Rise in Ethanol Raises Concerns About Corn as a Food
Friday, 05 January 2007
CHICAGO, Jan. 4 — Renewing concerns about whether there will be enough corn to support the demand for both fuel and food, a new study has found that ethanol plants could use as much as half of America’s corn crop next year. (New York Times)

Right... End of the world as we know it as Earth sculpture collapses
Thursday, 04 January 2007
ATLANTA A million-dollar stone sculpture intended to remind future generations of the Earth’s fragility made its point a bit early — just three months after its unveiling, it collapsed. (AP)

UK: Nimbys can't be allowed to put a block on wind farms
Thursday, 04 January 2007
This is crunch time. If Britain is to have any chance of meeting its target to generate 10% of its energy from renewable sources by 2010, then a great leap forward is needed right now. So far only 4.2% of energy is from renewables and three years is not long to more than double it. Wind power is the clean energy closest to profitability, yet many projects - on or offshore - are being held up or rejected by local authorities. Forty per cent of all applications were refused in the past two years, most by Tory councils or the SNP. (Polly Toynbee, The Guardian)

UK: Rise of low-cost flights comes at high price
Thursday, 04 January 2007

The government's aggressive language about the aviation industry's failure to get to grips with cutting pollution reflects growing frustration that its emissions are undermining Britain's strategy on climate change. Senior ministers are seeking to lead the international debate about global warming and convince the electorate that the environment is being taken seriously. But cheap flights, globalisation and the mounting cost of train travel have made aviation by far the fastest growing source of carbon dioxide in the UK.

Emissions from UK aviation have increased by nearly 70% since 1990 and rose by 11% in 2004 alone. While they amount to less than 3% of national carbon emissions, expected growth will nearly double this within 25 years. (The Guardian)

UK: Labour targets airlines over carbon emissions
Thursday, 04 January 2007

The government has launched an outspoken attack on major airlines for refusing to take climate change seriously, branding Ryanair "the irresponsible face of capitalism" and describing the attitude of major American airlines "a disgrace".

Environment minister Ian Pearson also warned that British Airways was "only just about playing ball" in the fight to reduce carbon emissions. His language is strikingly tougher on some in the cheap flights industry than the prime minister's: Tony Blair has appeared extremely reluctant to be seen to be curtailing their growth.

But the minister is determined to stand up to the intense lobbying by parts of the airline industry, especially its efforts to delay market-based curbs being placed on its emissions. (The Guardian)

Australia: It's starting to feel like winter
Thursday, 04 January 2007

HAS the weather gone crazy? It should be the time of year that Queenslanders are decked out in thongs and boardshorts, sweltering under the state's famous sun. Instead this summer is turning out to be more like those Christmases usually only suffered by southerners. The "Mexicans", meanwhile, are lapping up an unseasonal burst of Queensland-style weather. (Courier-Mail)

Inhofe Speech: Polar Bear Proposal Shows ESA Is Broken
Thursday, 04 January 2007

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) delivered a Senate floor speech today analyzing the proposed Endangered Species Act listing of the Polar Bear by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Following is an excerpt of Senator Inhofe’s speech today: (Press Release)

Global Warming May Put Dutch Skating Race on Ice
Thursday, 04 January 2007

AMSTERDAM - The Eleven Towns Tour, a marathon skating race along the frozen canals of the Netherlands last held a decade ago, may be put in cold storage if Dutch meteorologists' forecasts of global warming are correct.

The Dutch meteorological institute KNMI said 2006 was the warmest year since its records began 300 years ago, with an average temperature of 11.2 degrees Celsius.

If the warming trend continues, the race held on Jan. 4, 1997, might have been the last. (Reuters)

Maybe... or not. That wouldn't be that much of a change though since conditions have enabled the race to be held just 6 times in 100 years...

France's Chirac Says Wants EU Carbon Tax Post-2012
Thursday, 04 January 2007

PARIS - President Jacques Chirac unveiled on Thursday plans for an international conference next month to promote a French proposal to tax imports from countries that refuse to join the successor to the UN Kyoto environment pact. (Reuters)

EU to Urge "New Industrial Revolution" in Energy
Thursday, 04 January 2007

BRUSSELS - The European Commission will call next week for "a new industrial revolution" in the energy sector to boost competition, protect the climate and ensure security of supply, a draft paper from the EU executive showed. (Reuters)

Rains May be to Blame for Kenya Flamingo Deaths
Thursday, 04 January 2007

NAIROBI - Natural changes in the environment, not man-made pollution, may be to blame for the mass deaths of flamingos in Kenya, scientists said on Thursday.

Tens of thousands of the birds have died in recent years in the east African country, where they are a major tourist draw and adorn postcards, T-shirts and holiday snaps.

Researchers from environmental campaign group Earthwatch said flamingos at Lake Bogoria were only getting a tenth of their daily food needs because heavy rains had swollen streams flowing into the lake, diluting the algae they rely on. (Reuters)

New prospect for US: glut of ethanol plants
Thursday, 04 January 2007

Like at least four others building new ethanol plants in Illinois, Mike Smith expects his new biorefinery to begin pumping out fuel from corn by summer.

Unlike the other plants, Mr. Smith's Canton, Ill., facility is nowhere to be found on a key industry tally, which the US government and Wall Street analysts use to track ethanol plants under construction. A study released Thursday reports that at least 14 new biorefineries - representing nearly 1 billion gallons of extra fuel - are not on that tally. That oversight could mean problems ahead for the food supply and the "green fuel" industry, some analysts say. (The Christian Science Monitor)

UK: Hospitals get cash to fight global warming
Thursday, 04 January 2007

LONDON - The government announced on Thursday a 100 million pound fund to help the National Health Service in the battle to beat the global warming crisis.

The fund is intended to help hospitals and other health sector buildings cut carbon dioxide emissions, increase energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption. (Reuters)

Indoor Air Pollution - Silent Killer of Women
Thursday, 04 January 2007

NEW DELHI, Jan 3 - Women and young girls coughing and choking as they cook food over traditional stoves that burn wood, leaves or dung is a common a sight in poor homes across Asia, Africa and Latin America. But no one notices the deleterious effects. (IPS)

Breeding is bottom line to cut methane
Thursday, 04 January 2007

Sheep and cows bred to be less "windy" could have a crucial part in fighting global warming, a leading climate change expert said yesterday.

Sir John Houghton, the former chairman of the Meteorological Office and of the UN's scientific panel on climate change, said he had observed trials in New Zealand of genetically modified sheep designed to reduce the amount of methane they emit - from both ends. (London Telegraph)

Malaria - A Clear Recommendation For Treatment Combinations
Thursday, 04 January 2007

Each year, malaria affects 500 million people and kills at least one million. Today, the parasite has become resistant to anti-malarials that contain only artemisinin and WHO has requested laboratories to end the marketing and sale of single-drug treatments.

When used correctly, in combination with other anti-malarial drugs in Artemisinin Combination Therapies (ACTs), artemisinin is nearly 95% effective in curing malaria and the parasite is highly unlikely to become drug resistant. So far, 17 pharmaceutical laboratories have agreed to apply this recommendation and WHO is still negotiating with others.

In September, WHO announced that indoor spraying with DDT and other insecticides would once again play a major role in its efforts to fight the disease. WHO is encouraging countries to consider appropriate preventive measures.

One of the most effective means of preventing malaria is by associating indoor spraying with residual insecticide and widespread use of insecticide-impregnated bednets, especially long-lasting insecticidal nets that remain effective for up to five years without re-treatment. (World Health Organization (WHO))

Uganda: Exporters protest DDT use
Thursday, 04 January 2007

THE Government is increasingly under attack from exporters’ associations over its decision to spray DDT in September.

The National Environment Management Authority recently approved the re-introduction of DDT for interior spraying to fight malaria. The exporters are worried about its impact on Uganda’s markets.

“We are scared because it will affect our exports to Europe if DDT residues are detected in the agricultural products,” commented the chairman of the Uganda Flower Exporters’ Association, Jacques Schrier. (New Vision)

Skeptics' Circle
Thursday, 04 January 2007

The first Skeptics’ Circle of 2007 is up at Enceladus.

Posts debunking weird ideas — from astrology to psychics solving crimes — make for fun reading. And included in the brew is a dose of sea salt from Junkfood Science.

Skeptics Circle ends on a serious note, with articles emploring critical thinking when confronting alternative modalities. (Junkfood Science)

Should smokers be refused surgery?
Thursday, 04 January 2007

Last year a primary care trust announced it would take smokers off waiting lists for surgery in an attempt to contain costs. In this week's BMJ, two experts go head to head over whether smokers should be refused surgery. (BMJ-British Medical Journal)

In-shell vaccine for chick disease
Thursday, 04 January 2007

Infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) causes losses of £23.6M a year to the UK poultry industry but scientists are now developing a new way to vaccinate chicks against the disease – one that can be delivered while they are still in their egg.

A pre-hatching prototype vaccine virus which provides immunity to IBV has been developed by scientists at the Institute for Animal Health (IAH) and vaccine company Intervet UK. It can be delivered to chicks still in the egg (in-ovo) using robotic 'vaccinators'. (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council)

New study challenges 'critical period' in childhood vision development
Thursday, 04 January 2007

Understanding how the human brain learns to perceive objects is one of the ultimate challenges in neuroscience. In 2003, Pawan Sinha, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, launched an initiative with the hopes of shedding some light on the acquisition of visual skills. The goal of his "Project Prakash" is to find, treat, and study congenitally blind children in India. A unique case study that resulted from this project appears in the December 2006 issue of Psychological Science. (Association for Psychological Science)

Mayo Clinic shows adding activity to video games fights obesity
Thursday, 04 January 2007

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- If playing video games makes kids less active -- and contributes to obesity -- why not create more video games that require activity? That's the question prompted by a Mayo Clinic research study published in the current issue of the medical journal Pediatrics. (Mayo Clinic)

Anthrax attack posed greater potential threat than thought
Thursday, 04 January 2007

A new study shows that more people were at risk of anthrax infection in the Oct. 2001 attack on U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle's office than previously known. The research is published in the January 15 issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, now available online. On the other hand, the study shows, prompt intervention with antibiotics and vaccination appeared to be highly effective against the disease. (Infectious Diseases Society of America)

Europe's Kyoto Baseline Game
Thursday, 04 January 2007

The higher the 1990 EU baseline the lower their violation in 2008-2012 from increased GHG emissions; as such, over time Europe’s baseline crept ever higher as reality sunk in (Christopher C. Horner, CEI)

How fish species suffer as a result of warmer waters
Thursday, 04 January 2007

Ongoing global climate change causes changes in the species composition of marine ecosystems, especially in shallow coastal oceans. This applies also to fish populations. Previous studies demonstrating a link between global warming and declining fish stocks were based entirely on statistical data. However, in order to estimate future changes, it is essential to develop a deeper understanding of the effect of water temperature on the biology of organisms under question. A new investigation, just published in the scientific journal Science, reveals that a warming induced deficiency in oxygen uptake and supply to tissues is the key factor limiting the stock size of a fish species under heat stress. (Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research)

A bumpy shift from ice house to greenhouse
Thursday, 04 January 2007

The transition from an ice age to an ice-free planet 300 million years ago was highly unstable, marked by dips and rises in carbon dioxide, extreme swings in climate and drastic effects on tropical vegetation, according to a study published in the journal Science Jan. 5.

"This is the best documented record we have of what happens to the climate system during long-term global warming following an ice age," said Isabel Montanez, professor of geology at the University of California, Davis, and lead author on the paper. But she added that these findings cannot be applied directly to current global warming trends.

In the mid-Permian, 300 million years ago, the Earth was in an ice age. Miles-thick ice sheets covered much of the southern continent, and floating pack ice likely covered the northern polar ocean. The tropics were dominated by lush rainforests, now preserved as coal beds.

Forty million years later, all the ice was gone. The world was a hot, dry place, vegetation was sparse, soils little more than drifts of wind-blown dust. (University of California - Davis)

That's great guys... this bit: "... a pattern compatible with the idea that greenhouse gases caused the end of the late Paleozoic ice age" -- isn't that also compatible with the idea that receding ice sheets also cause elevated atmospheric greenhouse gases?

Record cold snap for the nation's hottest town
Thursday, 04 January 2007

AS the rest of Australia sweltered through its 11th-warmest year on record, one famously hot town set a new mark for its coldest year. Maximum temperatures in the northwest West Australian town of Marble Bar came inalmost 3C below average lastyear. In its world-beating heatwave, from October 31, 1923, to April 7, 1924, the maximum temperature never dropped below 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8C). That record still stands. But last year, Marble Bar recorded an average maximum of 32.5C, well below its long-term annual norm of 35.3C. (The Australian)

Of course, it'd be a lot more impressive if Australia's "11th warmest" appeared in a significant list -- but 11/92 is not really that spectacular given the allegations of massive anthropogenic warming, is it?

Global Forests Love Global Warming
Thursday, 04 January 2007
Over the past 20 years, approximately 5,000 articles have been published in major scientific journals showing how plants benefit from higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) with or without elevated temperatures. As CO2 concentration increases, plants substantially increase the rate of photosynthesis, rate of growth above and below ground, the water use efficiency, the production of fruit and seeds, and resistance to a variety of stresses. Critics of this positive response to elevated CO2 claim that many of these experiments are conducted in highly controlled laboratory conditions that may have little in common with what is happening in the real world. Outdoor experiments are also conducted, but in most cases, in something far less than “real-world” conditions. In the special case of forests, researchers must create clever experiments to overcome the obvious problems of waiting around a few decades or centuries to see the outcome of an experiment. (WCR)

A hit!
Thursday, 04 January 2007

Dr. John Crippens at NHS Blog Doctor noted with concern that “most Google searches on childhood immunization throw up pages and pages written by the anti-immunization lobby. And that is what parents read.” (Junkfood Science)

Benchmarks For The 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report
Thursday, 04 January 2007

The new IPCC Assessment will appear soon; see the write-up on the IPCC website, where it reads,

“The Working Group I report will be subject to final approval and acceptance at the 10th Working Group I Session to be held in Paris from January 29 to February 1, 2007.

It is expected that the approved text of the Summary for Policymakers will be released at a press conference in Paris on February 2, 2007, and that it will also be available on this web site from that date. (Climate Science)

Geo-engineering To Confine Climate Change: Is It At All Feasible?
Thursday, 04 January 2007

Paul Crutzen (2006) has suggested a research initiative to consider whether itwould be feasible to artificially enhance the albedo of the planet Earth to counteract greenhouse warming. The enhancement of albedo would be achieved by intentionally injecting sulfur into the stratosphere. The rational for proposing the experiment is the observed cooling of the atmosphere following the recent major volcanic eruptions by El Chichon in 1984 and Mount Pinatubo in 1991. (Lennart Bengtsson, Climatic Change (2006) 77: 229-234) [.pdf]

See also: Geoengineering: Worthy Of Cautious Evaluation? (.pdf) and The Geoengineering Dilemma: To Speak Or Not To Speak (.pdf)

Geoengineering: Encouraging Research And Overseeing Implementation
Thursday, 04 January 2007

Ideas on how to engineer earth's climate, or to modify the environment on large scales to counter human impacts, do not enjoy broad support from scientists. Refereed publications that deal with such ideas are not numerous nor are they cited widely. Paul crutzen (2006) analyzes the idea of intentionally injecting sulfur into the stratosphere, to enhance the albedo of earth, so as to slow the warming of the planet due to greenhouse gases. He notes that such an intervention might become necessary unless the world becomes more successful in limiting greenhouse gas emissions and/or if global warming should proceed faster than currently anticipated partly due to cleaning the lower atmosphere of sulfur pollution.

I am aware that various individuals have opposed the publication of Crutzen’s paper, even after peer review and revisions, for various and sincere reasons that are not wholly scientific. Here, I write in support of his call for research on geoengineering and propose a framework for future progress in which supporting and opposing viewpoints can be heard and incorporated. I also propose that research on geoengineering be considered separately from actual implementation, and I suggest a path in that direction. (Ralph J. Cicerone, Climatic Change (2006) 77: 221-226) [.pdf]

While we might admire Ralph's apparent sincerity we are nonetheless alarmed by plans to cool the planet. We don't know the planet's temperature with an accuracy greater than guesstimated warming since it was uncomfortably cool (just look up French food riots or similar to get an idea of how troubled were cooler and hungrier times). What we do know know is that warmer is definitely the preferable change from the perspective of life on Earth and people who want to meddle with that we can't even measure make us distinctly nervous, irrespective of how well-meaning they might be.

Assume climate change is not reversible, says weather expert
Thursday, 04 January 2007

The country should assume climate change is not reversible and prepare to live with its consequences, John Houghton, the former director general of UK Meteorological Office has warned.

However, this does not excuse inaction to tackle the phenomenon, but should instead, prompt us to adapt our energy uses to minimise its increase.

Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference, Sir John explained its future impact on weather patterns and low-lying regions such as Bangladesh.

“The effects of climate change, such as warming seas and rising sea levels, represent a serious threat to countries such as Bangladesh and other poor countries in the Pacific rim where, potentially, millions of people could be displaced,” said Sir John. (Farmers Weekly Interactive)

Clones overdue on the menu
Thursday, 04 January 2007

The FDA's preliminary decision last week to permit the consumption of food from cloned animals is a good one. If anything, it's long overdue, because scientists have known for years that the clones are indistinguishable genetically, biochemically and nutritionally from the parent. As one farmer who owns a pair of clones of a prize-winning Holstein cow observed, they are essentially twins of "a cow that was already in production." (Henry I Miller, Washington Times)

When Bad Things Come From 'Good' Food
Thursday, 04 January 2007

People in the United States have gotten used to the repulsive fact that raw chicken, meat and eggs are often contaminated with dangerous bacteria. Scrub the cutting board, we are warned, don’t nibble the cookie dough, don’t eat burgers rare. In other words, handle meat like a biohazard — and then eat it.

But until recently, getting sick from salad was something that most Americans didn’t even think about unless they were traveling to a poor country. At home, fruits and vegetables have been regarded as clean and safe for as long as most people can remember. (Denise Grady, New York Times)

Good grief! Food spoilage has always been a major hazard and the vast majority of contaminants are all-singing, all-dancing, all-natural!

So ... you call this winter?
Thursday, 04 January 2007

CHICAGO, Illinois -- Crocuses are pushing out of the ground in New Jersey. Ice fishing tournaments in Minnesota are being canceled for lack of ice. And golfers are hitting the links in Chicago in January.

Much of the Midwest and the East Coast are experiencing remarkably warm winter, with temperatures running 10 and 20 degrees higher than normal in many places.

Meteorologists say the warm spell is due to a combination of factors.

El Nino, a cyclical warming trend now under way in the Pacific Ocean, can lead to milder weather, particularly in the Northeast.

The jet stream, the high-altitude air current that works like a barricade to hold back warm Southern air, is running much farther north than usual over the East Coast.

The weather is prone to short-term fluctuations, and forecasters said the mild winter does not necessarily mean global warming is upon us.

In fact, the Plains have been hit by back-to-back blizzards in the past two weeks.

"No cause for alarm. Enjoy it while you have it," said Mike Halpert, head of forecast operations at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center. (AP)

It's usually called a heating-energy saving blessing but...

Study: Poultry Antibiotics a Money - Loser
Thursday, 04 January 2007

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Antibiotics in chicken feed have long been targeted by critics as a health issue, but a new study by Johns Hopkins University researchers says they also are a money-loser for poultry farmers.

The study in this month's edition of the journal Public Health Reports is billed as the first economic analysis of the costs versus benefits of feeding poultry antibiotics to boost growth, a widespread practice since the 1950s.

Groups including the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association have argued that growth-promoting antibiotics, or GPAs, for poultry should be banned. They say the practice can lead to more antibiotic-resistant infections in humans. (AP)

Hmm... they claim it costs almost a penny a bird... how much would it cost if the flocks were decimated by untreated illness?

Snow finally blankets the Alps
Thursday, 04 January 2007

Heavy snow is now falling across the Alps giving a much needed boost to the winter tourism industry. All the resorts are getting the benefit with snow falling down to 800 metres (2,600ft). (BBC News)

Finally? It's the first week of January, isn't it?

Big Developers Get Pinched
Thursday, 04 January 2007

When the Supreme Court handed down its verdict in Kelo v. City of New London in June of 2005, few imagined the development industry in the role of victim.

On the contrary, most opponents of the decision supposed, not unreasonably, that construction companies and building firms would be the likeliest beneficiaries of municipalities' disputed right to seize private property under the "public use" clause of the Fifth Amendment: Who else would be contracted to develop their dubiously gotten gains?

But a little-noticed case from New Jersey suggests that the battle lines in the political war over eminent domain are more ambiguous than critics have heretofore assumed. (Jacob Laskin, TCS Daily)

UK: Road pricing revolt is gathering speed
Thursday, 04 January 2007

The grassroots revolt against plans to introduce pay-as-you-drive road pricing is growing, add your name to our petition. (London Telegraph)

Big game trophy hunters 'help to save rare species'
Thursday, 04 January 2007

The slaughter of thousands of animals in Africa by big game hunters is supported by conservationists who maintain that the sport protects wildlife.

Lions, leopards, elephants and crocodiles are among the trophy species being shot by hunters from Europe and the US. Even the critically endangered black rhino finds itself in the crosshairs.

However, a study concludes, the overall toll on big game is more than matched by the benefits. (London Times)

Trouble at the top
Thursday, 04 January 2007

Farmers living in the mountaintops of Peru, more than 4,000m above sea level, face devastation from climate change - but one charity is helping them to adapt, writes Rory Carroll (The Guardian)

Fascinating, climate change most likely -- but not indicative of enhanced greenhouse. For example: "Days are warmer and nights colder, to the extent that herds of alpacas, indigenous domesticated animals which resemble big sheep with long necks, are freezing to death. The alpacas are also getting sicker because the occasional warmer temperatures bring disease-carrying insects which were once confined to the valleys." Sorry guys, enhanced greenhouse should manifest itself in reduce nocturnal cooling but is unlikely to have much diurnal effect (swamped by insolation) and so the cited observations speak against CO2-driven warming.

Neutralise radiation and stay off milk: the truth about celebrity health claims
Thursday, 04 January 2007

A new leaflet aimed at famous people debunks unscientific comments (The Guardian)

European carbon trading hits record level in December
Thursday, 04 January 2007

The European market for trading in carbon dioxide permits, Powernext Carbon, recorded its highest volume of trading in December with 5.8 million tonnes negotiated, the exchange said Wednesday.

Over the year, 31.4 million tonnes were bought and sold, making the Paris-based market the biggest carbon exchange of its kind.

The price of a permit for one tonne of carbon dioxide was below 5.0 euros on Wednesday, from 15 euros at the start of 2006. (AFP)

What a surprise, hot air in free fall...

Climate Shift May Have Helped Destroy Tang Dynasty
Thursday, 04 January 2007

The Tang dynasty, seen by many historians as a glittering peak in China's history, was brought to its knees by shifts in the monsoon cycle, according to a study published on Thursday. Famed for a flowering of art and literature and for prosperity brought by trade with India and the Middle East, the dynasty spanned nearly three centuries, from AD 618 to 907, before it was overwhelmed by revolt. (AFP)

Seems oddly cyclical doesn't it? "the period of Southern-Northern Dynasties (42-550 AD) was so dry and cold ... that Beiwei Dynasty (386-534 AD) was forced to move its capital from Pingcheng (40.10N) to Luoyang (34.67N) in 493 AD after a series of severe droughts." (Yu, et al., Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 218: 57-73)

UK: Me pay? I didn't ask to be buried in bubble wrap
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

Bill Cosby said that one of the fundamental problems in relationships between men and women is that men do not know when they are wrong. He gave an example. He said he could be minding his business, lying on his sofa, in his house, watching his television, when his wife walks in: now, in his mind, he is doing nothing wrong. And so it is with pollution. Woke up this morning, turns out I was a polluter. So are you. We all are, apparently. “The polluter pays” is the latest catchphrase for those that require complex issues diced into soundbites, and it is one you will read a lot in the next year. “You pay” is its honest translation. In this scenario, you are the polluter. You don’t want to be; you’d like not to be; you are just going about your life as quietly as possible, paying your taxes, keeping your head down, playing the hand as dealt by short-sighted governments (local and national), the vast retail chains, the cost-cutting manufacturing industries, the Royal Mail, the real villains of the piece. But just to do that makes you the bogeyman; the polluter. And now you must pay. (Martin Samuel, London Times)

Snow Cannons against the Apocalypse
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

Bavaria's ski resorts got a taste of the future over the Christmas holiday, when snow conditions made skiing all but impossible, except at higher altitudes. Alpine ski resorts are finding controversial ways to defend their business against climate change. (Der Spiegel)

Complaints about greenhouse gases are just a lot of hot air
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

Those of us old enough to remember the 1970s have no desire to relive those days. After all, it was an era of price controls, gasoline lines and stagflation. These ills were triggered when our government attempted to "fix" the economy by subverting the free market. Instead it simply ended up creating an economic nightmare. (Ed Feulner, Chicago Sun-Times)

Climate 'benefits' for UK farming
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

A project that highlights the economic opportunities, as well as the environmental threats, from climate change has been launched for farmers.

Farming is responsible for 7% of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions and needs to be part of the effort to tackle climate change, the organisers say.

A website will offer farmers advice on what measures they can take, such as generating green energy from waste. (BBC)

UK: Climate change could boost farmers, says Miliband
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

Climate change could prove an opportunity for British farmers, the environment secretary said today.

But David Miliband emphasised that the principle of "the polluter pays" would be applied to farming as to other industries.

The market for biofuels would grow "substantially" as demand for renewable fuel increased, Mr Miliband told the Oxford Farming Conference, meaning that climate change was "an opportunity, not just a threat".

Global warming "creates problems, but it will also create new markets and new opportunities," he said. (The Guardian)

UK: Food labelling campaign launched
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

Some of the UK's biggest food manufacturers are launching a £4m campaign to promote nutritional labels.

The labels show percentages of guideline daily amounts (GDA) of sugar, salt, fat and calories in each serving.

Other firms use red, amber and green labels - where green is good and red warns not to consume too much - approved by the Food Standards Agency.

But the 21 firms and retailers using the GDA system say people will not buy products with red labels on them. (BBC)

Nanotech safety needs specific government risk research strategy and funding
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

WASHINGTON--"Prioritizing nanotechnology risk research isn't rocket science," said Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies chief scientist Andrew Maynard. Dr. Maynard's remark is in his testimony today before the federal government's first public meeting focused exclusively on research needs and priorities for the environmental, health and safety risks of engineered nanoscale materials.

"The specific health and safety questions that are important to be addressed for nanotechnology are reasonably straightforward," according to Maynard. "And a lot already has been published about what we know and do not know about the potential risks and about how to fill existing research gaps."

"Far harder is getting the federal government to take action in three critical areas: first, documenting what relevant risk research exists; second, ensuring that agencies responsible for oversight and related research--the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food & Drug Administration (FDA), National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)--are adequately funded; and third, developing a robust, top-down research plan that can be implemented by the U.S. government and used for collaborations with industry and with researchers in other countries," said Maynard. (Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies)

Adults living with children eat more fat than do other adults
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

Adults living with children eat more saturated fat -- the equivalent of nearly an entire small pepperoni pizza each week -- than do adults who do not live with children, according to a University of Iowa and University of Michigan Health System study.

The finding was based on data from the federal government's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III. The UI-led study was made public today, and the paper will appear in the Jan. 4, 2007, online edition of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

Most family diet studies have examined how adults influence children's eating habits, but few studies have considered how children or their habits may be associated with adults' food intake, said Helena Laroche, M.D., an associate in internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and the study's primary author.

"The analysis shows that adults' fat intake, particularly saturated fat, is higher for those who live with children compared to adults who don't live with children," Laroche said. (University of Iowa)

Americans too wealthy: Environment joins argument that Americans work too long
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

Global warming is now a workload issue.

If Americans cut back their work hours to match those of their counterparts in Europe, this country would consume 20 percent less energy, according to "Are Shorter Work Hours Good for the Environment?" The study was issued by the Center for Economic and Policy Research at the end of the year.

It isn't necessarily that people use less energy at home than at work, study co-author Mark Weisbrot said in a telephone interview from the Washington-based think tank.

The math is more complicated than that, based more on all the extra consumption of stuff that Americans do with their extra earnings from their extra work, according to Weisbrot. (H.J. Cummins, Star Tribune)

China and India facing up to the economic chill of global warming
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

A REPORT by six government departments in China yesterday warned that climate change would harm the country's economy and environment in the coming decades, with potentially devastating cuts in agricultural output.

The warning, from the State Meteorological Bureau, Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Technology, among others, could be a sign that China - which has experienced dramatic rises in carbon emissions because of a booming economy largely powered by coal-fired power stations - is about to take significant steps to address the issue.

India, another rapidly industrialising third world country, also warned yesterday that it and other developing countries, could not afford to copy the West's "wasteful lifestyle". (The Scotsman)

Emission permits fall to record as surplus sold, gas declines
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

Emission permits for 2007, the last year of the three-year first phase of a European trading regime, fell to a record as mild weather curbed energy demand, boosting a surplus of the allowances.

European Union carbon-dioxide permits for prompt delivery, trading in a market established in 2005 for power plants and factories, fell €1, or 15%, to €5.48 ($7.28) a metric ton, according to prices from the Powernext exchange in Paris on Bloomberg at 6 p.m. local time, yesterday. That's the lowest price ever paid for an EU carbon dioxide emissions permit. The European Commission, which regulates the world's biggest emissions trading regime, said in May it may have allowed EU member states to hand out too many permits through 2007, blaming inaccurate emissions data. (Budapest Business Journal)

Market forces can best tackle global warming
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

From scientists to politicians, debate rages over whether the US should limit carbon dioxide emissions. The passing of laws to cap emissions by states such as California has emphasised that awareness without actionis not a viable course for the nation. The time has come to frame the issue in terms of finance, in order to find the most efficient way to mitigate the risks we face. (Jon Anda, Financial Times)

Always presupposing there is actually anything to "address." In one respect he's right, leaving market forces to determine the course is certainly much better than top down command and control structures (notoriously inefficient and almost never workable). The best course is development and wealth generation so that society can cope with whatever occurs (because people generally are really lousy at predicting the future and the whole climate prediction thing is farcical).

NIWA data confirms that New Zealand is not warming
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

The announcement by NIWA that last month was one of the coldest Decembers in the last 60 years is evidence that there is no “global warming” in New Zealand, according to the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition. (Press Release)

Worst Junk Science Journalism of 2006
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

WASHINGTON, Jan. 2 -- The Statistical Assessment Service -- a non-profit, non-partisan media research organization affiliated with George Mason University and committed to correcting scientific misinformation in the media - today announced its selections for the annual Dubious Data Awards, which go to the worst science journalism of 2006. (Standard Newswire)

Range for wheat is creeping northward
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

Are there amber waves of grain in Alaska's future? Given the current rate of global warming, the answer might be yes.

That according to a new study that predicts that higher temperatures in North America will make it difficult to grow some varieties of wheat in the Lower 48 states by 2050.

By the same measure, however, the more northerly latitudes of Canada and Alaska should be ideal, according to an upcoming report by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico City.

Unfortunately for Canada, climate isn't everything. Soil conditions matter too. And the rocky terrain and thin soils of the eastern provinces - what geologists call the Canadian Shield - aren't considered suitable for grain production.

But Alaska is a different story. The fertile loam of the Matanuska Valley "has the color and consistency of Hershey's cocoa and is rockless two feet down," geology buff John McPhee wrote in "Coming into the Country," his nonfiction best seller on Alaska. (Scripps News)

If the world behaved as modeled, then yeah, the expanded agriculture region would be a great plus but there is little likelihood such beneficial warming will occur.

Fast-multiplying lawsuits can stymie medical science, authors warn
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

Jan. 3, 2007 -- Class-action lawsuits can significantly slow or halt science's ability to establish links between neurological illness and environmental factors produced by industry, a team of scientists and lawyers warns in the journal Neurology.

The authors caution that litigation's effects could seriously impair efforts to identify compounds that contribute to a wide variety of diseases, including Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). (Washington University School of Medicine)

Avian flu virus unlikely to spread through water systems
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

A close relative of the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (H5N1) can be eliminated by waste and drinking water treatments, including chlorination, ultraviolet (UV) radiation and bacterial digesters. The virus is harmless to humans but provides a study case of the pathways by which the influenza could spread to human populations.

Cornell researchers studied the related virus, called H5N2, to see whether a hypothetical mutated form of H5N1 could infect people through drinking and wastewater systems. Researchers at Cornell and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point collaborated on the study, published in a recent issue of Environmental Engineering Science. (Cornell University News Service)

European Union outpaces United States on chemical safety
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] -- Recently, the European Union has adopted some of the world's strictest policies on e-waste and potentially hazardous chemicals. Economic and environmental impacts of the new regulations will be felt far beyond Europe, says Stacy D. VanDeveer, a visiting fellow at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies. VanDeveer co-authored an article this month in the journal Environment with Henrik Selin, an assistant professor of international relations at Boston University, analyzing the ripple effect that is likely to touch electronics manufacturers and chemical companies worldwide. (Brown University)

Hmm... "safety" is such a relative term. Does the US really want to follow the EU through the looking glass?

How stress could help save the world's plants
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

Scientists who have discovered how plants can get stressed and can fight off viruses and believe they hold the key to preventing millions of pounds of crops being destroyed by disease worldwide.

Specialists at the Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences at Glasgow University have identified the cells and molecules in plants which drive much of their immune system and, armed with the knowledge, are now planning to create a genetically modified variety of super crops which will survive some of the worst nature has to throw at it.

Among the discoveries in the research, which is backed by the Scottish Crop Research Institute, are the 41 genes in plants that when "switched on" activate a salt tolerance mechanism in plants. (The Herald)

Canada's politicians carry chemical cocktail
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

Toronto — Tests conducted on four prominent federal politicians, including Health Minister Tony Clement, have found all of them carry in their bodies trace levels of dozens of potentially dangerous pollutants.

The testing, which was also done on NDP leader Jack Layton, Environment Minister Rona Ambrose, and Liberal environment critic John Godfrey, found a bewildering cocktail of contaminants in the elected officials. They all had residues from stain repellants, flame retardants, and insecticides, among other deleterious substances.

The results came from an unusual chemical check up organized by Environmental Defence, an activist group that had previously tested ordinary Canadians and found extensive contaminant burdens in everyone evaluated. Based on this finding, it challenged the elected leaders to see how they stacked up and the four volunteered to do so. (Globe and Mail)

As activists are well aware -- and reporters should be aware -- we can now detect chemical traces far below the level at which they are therapeutically significant. Remember, even if you eat the strictest, "purest," "organic" diet, everything you consume is composed of nothing but chemicals. Finding traces of these few chemicals in the above-mentioned tests means nothing of consequence.

Be afraid of the dark: Misguided NIMBYs foster future of blackouts
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

The electric Reliability Organization (ERO), established with statutory authority after the widespread blackouts of 2003, has issued its first report. It makes for grim reading. The nation's electric power infrastructure is on the brink of collapse.

Misguided environmental regulations, green obstructionism, and the NIMBY (not in my backyard) syndrome have combined to delay the construction of desperately needed new power plants and transmission lines. Needless economic regulation has prevented the development of more appropriate pricing structures.

The result is an infrastructure that will soon be unable to meet the demands of the American economy. Policy makers must act now to re-empower America. (Iain Murray, Providence Journal)

Union of Concerned Scientists Issues False, Misleading Report
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

Washington, D.C., January 3, 2007—A report released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists claims Exxon Mobil has been involved in a ‘disinformation’ campaign on global warming through its funding of some non-profit groups that do not subscribe to catastrophic global warming theories. However, the Competitive Enterprise Institute believes the report is just another attempt to try to stifle debate on the issue. (CEI)

Obviously some people take UCS a lot more seriously than we do -- you can sign up your hamster as a "concerned scientist" if you are prepared to waste $20, or it might even be more now. Then again, you could donate to us instead and support the effort to beat back junk science, scares and scams.

Uganda: DDT Spraying to Start in April
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

Spraying of the controversial DDT to fight Malaria in the country is expected to start in three months time.

The announcement was made yesterday during a press conference at the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) head office in Kampala. (The Monitor)

Uganda: Conditions for DDT spray set
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

THE National Environment Management Authority has asked the health ministry to obtain an approval from the secretariat of the Stockholm Convention before spraying DDT.

Speaking at a press conference in Kampala yesterday, the executive director of the environment body, Dr. Aryamanya Mugisha, said the ministry should also get an approval from the World Health Organisation to spray DDT to control malaria.

These are some of the conditions the Government watchdog on the environment set after approving that each house will be sprayed with the drug to control malaria spread. (New Vision)

"Healthy eating" messages harming teen girls
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

A new study in the January issue of Pediatrics found that over a five-year period, the more media that teenage girls were exposed to, the more unhealthy it became for them. The researchers were not referring to “junk” food advertising in media, but the preponderance of “health” advice to diet, watch what you eat and be a “healthy” weight! (Junkfood Science)

Fainting on the subway
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

While we hear all sorts of things piled onto the “costs of obesity,” we rarely hear anything about the “costs of thinness.” A unique one was reported today by MSNBC. The New York Metropolitan Transporation Authority reports that dieters are the top cause for people fainting and becoming ill on the subways, resulting in train delays and disruptions. There are 395 delays every month caused by ill customers, just on New York City subways. (Junkfood Science)

Wednesday, 03 January 2007

Scores of emergency workers in an upstate New York town spent New Year's Eve cleaning a toxic chemical spill — after a citizen's thermometer broke. Are there any limits to environmentalist paranoia?

Carmel, N.Y., nestled in the countryside of rural Putnam County, has brought new meaning to the expression "swatting a gnat with a sledgehammer." Resident Richard Berger phoned 911 in the final hours of 2006, according to news reports, after discovering a broken rectal thermometer.

Before long, 100 — one hundred! — fire department personnel reportedly arrived at Berger's home. Men wearing special protective gear used sponges to sop up the puddle of mercury that had escaped from the broken instrument. No one was hurt, but Fire Chief Darryl Johnson reminded the AP that mercury is a hazardous chemical. (IBD)

Trans fats
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

One of the big concerns that came with Ohio's recently passed ban on public smoking was that other health-related issues would morph into laws. It's starting to happen.Cleveland City Council last week passed a resolution encouraging a ban on trans fats in restaurants, a la New York. The resolution asks the Cuyahoga County Board of Health to work with the city's health department to start cutting trans fats from restaurant menus.

It's not a law yet -- but it's the beginning of one. (The Courier)

A New Year's Resolution: Protect Your Family From Foodborne Bacteria
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

Here’s a New Year’s Resolution to add to your list: “I resolve to protect my family more effectively from dangerous bacteria in their food.”

Hundreds of people were recently sickened, and [three people] died, from eating bacteria-contaminated spinach and precut lettuce. Bacteria have always been with us but the growing popularity of time-saving precut salad mixtures offers more cut surfaces and therefore more opportunity for the bacteria. (CGFI)

Demonstration Of The Role of Irrigation Within The Climate System
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

Today Climate Science reports on another excellent paper in the special issue of Global and Planetary Change;

Rezaul Mahmood, Stuart A. Foster, Travis Keeling, Kenneth G. Hubbard, Christy Carlson and Ronnie Leeper, 2006:“Impacts of irrigation on 20th century temperature in the northern Great Plains” Global and Planetary Change, 1-18. (Climate Science)

The Park Formerly Known as Glacier
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

Glacier National Park just seems to come up repeatedly in the debate about global warming. This poster child of the greenies is sacred ground, for it provides an opportunity to show the kids where the glaciers were when you were a kid, see where the glaciers terminate today, and of course blame global warming and further blame the Bush Administration for not signing the Kyoto Protocol. Many documentaries on the greenhouse effect have been drawn to the Park, and if you Google “Glacier National Park and Global Warming,” you will be directed to approximately 159,000 sites. (WCR)

2007 Set to be World's Warmest Year - UK Met Office
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

LONDON - This year is set to be the hottest on record worldwide due to global warming and the El Nino weather phenomenon, Britain's Meteorological Office said on Thursday. (Reuters)

This would be the same El Nino that Australian weather watchers claim to be ending, with "normal" rains expected? Of more than a dozen models trying to predict the phenomenon a wide spectrum of eventualities are anticipated -- we can't predict a well-observed and moderately well understood phenomenon and yet modelers persist in claiming to "predict" future climate states!

Exxonmobil Cultivates Global Warming Doubt - Report
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

WASHINGTON - Energy giant ExxonMobil borrowed tactics from the tobacco industry to raise doubt about climate change, spending US$16 million on groups that question global warming, a science watchdog group said on Wednesday.

"ExxonMobil has manufactured uncertainty about the human causes of global warming just as tobacco companies denied their product caused lung cancer," Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists said at a telephone news conference releasing the report.

An ExxonMobil spokesman dismissed the report as "an attempt to connect unrelated facts, draw inaccurate conclusions and mislead the audience with a fiction about ExxonMobil's true positions." (Reuters)

UCS -- again. New season fundraiser, eh fellas? Or just need some cheap publicity in the quiet period, maybe?

The 'swing' behind East Coast's warm spell
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

As they dig out from under thick snow dropped by back-to-back holiday blizzards, residents of Colorado, northern and central New Mexico, and several Plains states may wonder what the rest of winter holds for them. But at least the patterns behind such weather are predictable. They're typical of the long arm of El Niño, which now reigns in the tropical Pacific.

For residents of the East Coast - not to mention Europe - it's a different story. Record-setting warmth, which gave Muscovites near shirt-sleeve weather, has everyone scratching their heads. (The Christian Science Monitor)

Acrylamide Level in Food Largely Unknown
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

WASHINGTON -- Maureen Cohen read a newspaper article about cancer-causing acrylamide in her kids' favorite snacks and wanted to know more.

''I just got curious,'' said Cohen, a mother of three in Vienna, Va. ''If it's known that it's a cancer-causing substance, I sure would like somebody to look into it and find out.''

Acrylamide turns up in all kinds of tasty foods, including french fries, potato chips, breakfast cereals, cookies and crackers. But it's difficult for consumers to figure out how much acrylamide is in a particular meal or snack. (AP)

CSPI's scare du jour. The fact is no one has found any indication that consumption of foods containing acrylamide poses any lifetime threat to people whatsoever.

Meat and Milk from Animal Clones are Safe - Expert Q&A
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

Last week the FDA announced its approval of consumption of meat and milk from some species of cloned animals. Dr. Gary Weaver, University of Maryland, answers questions about the decision, the safety of consuming meat from cloned animals and the science of cloning. (Newswise)

Polar Bear Politics
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

Unless you've been hibernating for the winter, you have no doubt heard the many alarms about global warming. Now even the Bush Administration is getting into the act, at least judging from last week's decision by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to recommend that the majestic polar bear be listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. The closer you inspect this decision, however, the more it looks like the triumph of politics over science.

We are concerned," said Mr. Kempthorne, that "the polar bears' habitat may literally be melting" due to warmer Arctic temperatures. However, when we called Interior spokesman Hugh Vickery for some elaboration, he was a lot less categorical, even a tad defensive. The "endangered" designation is based less on the actual number of bears in Alaska than on "projections into the future," Mr. Vickery said, adding that these "projection models" are "tricky business."

Apparently so, because there are in fact more polar bears in the world now than there were 40 years ago, as the nearby chart shows. The main threat to polar bears in recent decades has been from hunting, with estimates as low as 5,000 to 10,000 bears in the 1950s and 1960s. But thanks to conservation efforts, and some cross-border cooperation among the U.S., Canada and Russia, the best estimate today is that the polar bear population is 20,000 to 25,000.

It also turns out that most of the alarm over the polar bear's future stems from a single, peer-reviewed study, which found that the bear population had declined by some 250, or 25%, in Western Hudson Bay in the last decade. But the polar bear's range is far more extensive than Hudson Bay. A 2002 U.S. Geological Survey of wildlife in the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain concluded that the ice bear populations "may now be near historic highs." One of the leading experts on the polar bear, Mitchell Taylor, the manager of wildlife resources for the Nunavut territory in Canada, has found that the Canadian polar bear population has actually increased by 25% -- to 15,000 from 12,000 over the past decade.

Mr. Taylor tells us that in many parts of Canada, "polar bears are very abundant and productive. In some areas, they are overly abundant. I understand that people not living in the North generally have difficulty grasping the concept of too many polar bears, but those who live here have a pretty good grasp of what that is like." Those cuddly white bears are the Earth's largest land carnivores.

There is no doubt that higher temperatures threaten polar bear habitat by melting sea ice. Mr. Kempthorne also says he had little choice because the threshold for triggering a study under the Endangered Species Act is low. The Bush Administration was sued by the usual environmental suspects to make this decision, which means that Interior will now conduct a year-long review before any formal listing decision is made.

Nonetheless, the bears seem to have survived despite many other severe warming and cooling periods over the last few thousands of years. Polar bears are also protected from poaching and environmental damage by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, so there is little extra advantage to the bears themselves from an "endangered" classification.

All of which suggests that the real story here is a human one, namely about the politics of global warming. Once a plant or animal is listed under the Endangered Species Act, the government must also come up with an elaborate plan to protect its habitat. If the polar bear is endangered by warmer temperatures, then the environmentalist demand will be that the government do something to address that climate change. Faster than you can say Al Gore, this would lead to lawsuits and cries in Congress demanding federal mandates to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Think we're exaggerating? No sooner had Mr. Kempthorne announced his study than Kassie Siegel of something called the Center for Biological Diversity told the New York Times that "even this Administration" would not be able to "write this proposal without acknowledging that the primary threat to polar bears is global warming and without acknowledging the science of global warming." Her outfit was one of those who had sued the feds in the first place over the polar bears, notwithstanding its location in the frozen tundra of Arizona. But no matter. For want of a few hundred polar bears, the entire U.S. economy could be vulnerable to judicial dictation.

With that much at stake, Mr. Kempthorne could have shown a stiffer backbone in resisting this political pressure. At the very least he now has an obligation to ensure that Interior's year-long study be based on real science and the actual polar bear population, rather than rely on computer projections. Any government decision to limit greenhouse gases deserves to be debated in the open, where the public can understand the consequences, not legislated by the back door via the Endangered Species Act. (The Wall Street Journal)

New on CO2 Science this week
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

Tropospheric Methane Concentrations and Planetary Health: How are they connected? ... and what role does the market play in the relationship?

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week:
This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from the Piedras Blancas Peat Bog, Tropical Andes, Venezuela. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary:
Drought (North America - United States: Eastern): What do proxies of past climatic conditions tell us about the impact of 20th-century global warming on the characteristics of drought in the eastern United States?

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: California Annual Grassland, Holm Oak, Manchurian Alder, and Soybean.

Journal Reviews:
Hydrologic Variations of South America's Lake Titicaca: What North American record does it mimic? ... and why is the relationship important?

Historical Changes in New Zealand Pan Evaporation: What are they? ... and what do they portend?

Timing of Snowmelt Runoff in the Western United States: Does the nature of its change over the past few decades reveal a connection with global warming?

Effect of Elevated CO2 on Photosynthesis of Soybeans Exposed to Elevated Ozone, Air Temperature and Water Stress: What was the net result for soybeans grown for two years at the SoyFACE facility of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA?

The Battle for Long-Term Storage of Carbon in Soils: How goes it?

Rwanda Not to Use DDT
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

The controversial Dichloro Diphenyl Trichloroethane (DDT) will not be used to control malaria in Rwanda, it has emerged. The chemical was recommended last year by the World Health Organisation (WHO), as a tool to control the disease in the developing countries.

The resolution of not applying DDT in Rwanda is a result of various national consultative meetings on DDT use for malaria control held late last year between officials from Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA), several government parastatals, and the US-based Research Triangle Institute (RTI).

A REMA official said that the meetings discussed the dangers associated with DDT use in the fight against malaria, and later agreed not to use the chemical in Rwanda.

"We agreed with the representatives of RTI that DDT would not be used here to control malaria," Alex Mulisa, the National Project Manager of Environment Poverty Initiative at REMA told The New Times last week. (The New Times)

Uganda: NEMA okays DDT use for Malaria
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

EVERY house is to be sprayed with DDT to kill mosquitoes in an effort to control the spread of malaria. This follows the decision by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) allowing the use of the controversial DDT.

“NEMA is hereby approving an integrated approach to malaria control involving the use of DDT, pythroids control, insecticide treated nets, biological control methods and environmental sanitation options,’’ Dr. Aryamanya Mugisha, the executive director of NEMA, wrote in a statement to the health ministry.

Debate has been raging for two years on whether to lift the ban on DDT, pitting the health ministry against environmentalists and exporters of agricultural products. (New Vision)

Measuring us or trying to shape us?
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

Plastered across media last week were reports saying: “Most Americans want public policies to prevent obesity.” A telephone survey of 1,129 adults was reported to have found that 85% of Americans supported taxpayer-funded government tax breaks for employers who offered workplace gyms, 73% supported government tax breaks for employers who charge more for health insurance to employees who don’t follow “healthy lifestyles and lose weight,” and 72% said they wanted government policies requiring insurance companies to cover weight loss “treatments and preventions programs.” (Junkfood Science)

Confusing "diagnosis" with "disease"
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

An exceptional New York Times essay by doctors Welch, Schwartz and Woloshin, “What’s Making Us Sick is an Epidemic of Diagnoses,” offers a very welcome voice of reason. These doctors have been among those speaking out in the medical literature about bad science and other problems in medicine and medical reporting. (Junkfood Science)

And a good thing, too!
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

I was just notified that Junkfood Science has been nominated for the Best New Medical Weblog in the 2006 Medical Weblog Awards.

My sincerest thanks to the nominating committee. It's an honor to be included in these nominations among some of my absolute favorite medical blogs. Check out the other great nominees here:

The voting begins tomorrow. (Junkfood Science)

UK: Planes, trains, and the road to ruin
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

Soaring rail fares are boosting the growth in domestic flights and undermining the fight against global warming. (London Independent)

Sorry guys, taking the train will not cool the planet.

UK: Wind of change - farmers warned
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

Farmers will be told today they could be penalised if they do not stop their flatulent animals farting so much methane gas. The environment secretary, David Miliband, will tell a farming conference in Oxford that agriculture now contributes 7% of all UK greenhouse gas emissions and more than a third of all emissions of methane -one of the most dangerous greenhouse gases.

Without specifying a "fart tax", he will say that the farming industry of 2020 will play a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (The Guardian)

UK: Councils ignore threat of climate change
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

Hundreds of local councils across the UK are ignoring the threat of climate change and taking no action to address the rising carbon emissions of their residents, a Guardian survey suggests.

Only a handful of councils polled said they were taking significant steps to tackle greenhouse gas pollution, with half admitting they had no plans to encourage more environmentally friendly behaviour. (The Guardian)

Obesity epidemic helps investors fatten wallet
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

LONDON - Bad diet and inactivity is pushing up obesity rates and analysts say the epidemic has huge implications for firms in the food production and retailing, healthcare and leisure sectors.

Norwich Union's socially responsible investment team, based at Morley Fund Management, believes the market has underestimated the impact of obesity on company share prices.

"Obesity is a key theme for Norwich Union's Sustainable Future funds. We see this as an investment issue because it can affect companies' long-term profitability," said Peter Michaelis, who manages two Norwich Union funds.

"Rising trends in obesity pose both a risk and opportunity for companies, and it's important to understand to what extent companies are exposed to this and how they are managing it." (Reuters)

Full-fat dairy products linked to lower weight
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

NEW YORK - Though health-conscious eaters often shun whole milk, a new study suggests that adults who favor full-fat dairy gain less weight over time.

Swedish researchers found that among more than 19,000 middle-aged women, those who had at least one serving of whole milk or cheese each day put on less weight over the next 9 years than women who consumed these foods less often. (Reuters Health)

Obesity a minor player in rising rate of lymphoma
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

NEW YORK - The increasing number of cases of lymphoma and other cancers of the blood cannot be blamed to any great degree on the increasing number of people who are overweight or obese, Norwegian investigators conclude. (Reuters Health)

Concern for rainforest forces RWE to scrap palm oil project
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

A leading German utility has abandoned plans to convert a British power station to run on palm oil, in a blow to the promotion of biofuels in Europe.

The decision by RWE npower to scrap the project at its Littlebrook plant in Dartford, Kent, which was seen as a test case for palm oil as an alternative energy source, comes after it was unable to secure sufficient supplies without risking damage to tropical rainforest. The move highlights the mounting alarm over the scramble in South-East Asia to bring more land into palm oil cultivation. (London Times)

Lake may 'predict climate change'
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

Sediment underneath an African lake, which is thought to date back more than 80,000 years, may help predict future climate change, researchers claim.

Scientists from Aberystwyth, Bangor, St Andrews and Addis Ababa universities will drill about 75m (246ft) below Lake Tana in Ethiopia to test their theory.

They said analysis of the sediment will show how the lake has changed and when there were droughts in the past.

This could then help experts predict climate change, they added. (BBC)

The Big Question: How quickly are animals and plants disappearing, and does it matter?
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

As 2006 drew to a close, the polar bear was about to be classified as a threatened species by the United States Government. Melting Arctic sea ice could significantly reduce numbers of the world's largest terrestrial carnivore over the next 50 years. And, just before Christmas, a 38-day search for the Yangtze River dolphin ended without finding a single member of the species. It is feared that the aquatic mammal may be the latest in a long line of extinct animals.

Extinction is as old as life on Earth - about 3.5 billion years - but scientists calculate that we are losing species at a rate of somewhere between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural "background" rate of extinction. This means that technically we are going through a period of "mass extinction", the sixth that we know about over the hundreds of millions of years of the fossil record. But unlike the previous five mass extinctions, this one is largely caused by the actions of a single species - Homo sapiens. (London Independent)

Bigger question: is it even true? Indeed there was a spate of extinctions when people began sailing their little ships, sans useful pesticides and hence complete with their "little piece of home" (pests, parasites, morbidities of novel and often lethal nature in new lands) and thus the "new world" did not fare too well on introduction to the old. But is the current rate (say the last century) anything like that of the preceding 500 years? We'd say "not even close".

Norway, UK Try to Tackle Planes' Greenhouse Gases
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

OSLO - Norway plans to join Britain in offsetting greenhouse gases caused by bureaucrats jetting around the world, announcing it will buy emissions quotas to combat global warming. (Reuters)

Himalaya's receding glaciers suffer neglect
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

Scientists monitor only a few of India's vital glaciers, which are receding by as much as 100 feet each year. (The Christian Science Monitor)

Hmm... there does seem a lot of conflicting information about, doesn't there? Here's a rather different take from October 2006.

False Hopes and Natural Disasters
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

SINCE the Indian Ocean tsunami two years ago today that killed more than 200,000 people, governments, donors and experts have embraced the idea that healthy mangrove forests and coral reefs could reduce the death toll from a giant wave. Former President Bill Clinton, in his role as the United Nations special envoy for tsunami recovery, recently endorsed a program that will allocate $62 million to preserve such natural barriers in 12 Asian and African countries.

But the $62 million question is, will these barriers work?

Research suggests that the level of protection offered by greenbelts has been exaggerated. And by diverting resources from more effective measures like education campaigns and evacuation plans to well-meaning but misguided reforestation, we may even contribute to a greater loss of life in future tsunamis.

There have been few scientific studies about the protective role of coastal vegetation. And while one study did suggest that a shield of mangrove forest managed to reduce tsunami damage in three villages in Tamil Nadu State in India, the forest was not the only difference between these coastal villages and those nearby that suffered major destruction.

Indeed, when my colleagues and I re-analyzed the data, we found no relationship between the death toll in each village and the area of forest in front of each one.

What actually saved these villages was being further from the coast or built on relatively high land. It was only a coincidence that they also had more forest between themselves and the ocean (of course, the further a village is from the coast, the greater potential area of forest).

Indeed, a recent paper in the journal Natural Hazards that surveyed more than 50 sites in affected regions found that coastal vegetation did not reduce tsunami damage, and that damage was actually greater in areas fronted by coral reefs.

Similarly, my colleagues and I, working in Aceh, Indonesia, found that neither reefs nor coastal forest reduced the damage caused by the tsunami. The distance the tsunami traveled inland was largely determined by the height of the tsunami and the slope of the land. In other words, where the tsunami was 30 feet high, it flooded all land lower than 30 feet above sea level, whether this reached 200 yards inland, or two miles.

Mangrove forests are, to be fair, very effective at dissipating the energy of storm waves, but a tsunami is a very different beast. Tsunamis, produced by earthquakes, have wavelengths of miles, compared to that of a few yards for typical wind-generated waves. The tsunami, for instance, that hit the Acehnese coast was eight miles thick; this wall of water rolled in for nearly an hour.

Of course, coastal forests at some point do begin to reduce tsunami damage, but we can’t expect them to offer meaningful protection against the sheer amount of energy involved in a tsunami. In 2004, the energy released by the Indian Ocean earthquake is estimated to have been the equivalent of 23,000 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs: that’s nearly three Hiroshimas for every mile of affected coastline. Another significant concern is the enforcement of buffer zones in the name of tsunami protection. Buffer zones, to have any real effect, would need to be many miles wide and thus impossible to institute without prohibitively high social and economic costs.

Perhaps it is unsurprising then that local governments have begun to regulate these barriers in a way that is not only insufficient, but grossly unfair: luxury hotels escape enforcement while tens of thousands of impoverished fishing families in India, Sri Lanka and Thailand are prevented, in the name of tsunami protection, from rebuilding their homes in areas that have been designated buffer zones.

A more recent tsunami, on July 17, demonstrated the tragic consequences of inadequate planning. More than 18 months after the 2004 catastrophe, the Indonesian government had yet to deploy an early warning system on the island of Java. Tremors from a major earthquake were felt and the tsunami was preceded by a telltale withdrawal of the sea — yet amazingly, people did not know to seek high ground. Government officials failed to act despite precise warnings, and more than 600 people died. Clearly, education efforts in Indonesia have been inadequate.

But we can take heart in the example set by Japan. On Nov. 15, an undersea earthquake with a magnitude of 8.1 set off that nation’s tsunami early warning system. Thousands were evacuated.

While the resulting tsunami was luckily too small to cause damage, Japan’s sophisticated early warning system, intensive education campaigns, annual evacuation drills and loudspeakers for nearly every kilometer of coastline might have saved thousands of lives if the tsunami had been larger. Similarly effective measures in the Indian Ocean have yet to be developed, in part because efforts and resources remain focused on these questionable schemes to build mangrove barriers.

Certainly, coastal vegetation can provide communities with many valuable resources, and the rehabilitation of these ecosystems should be encouraged. But if the aim is to protect people from tsunamis, the science indicates that money would better be spent on early warning systems, education and evacuation planning. (New York Times)

Andrew Baird is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Coral Reef Biodiversity at James Cook University.

Energy diet for a starving world?
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

In his global warming scare-you-mentary film, "An Inconvenient Truth" (AIT), which was recently released on DVD, former Vice President Al Gore declares global warming is a "moral issue." It is, but for very different reasons than Mr. Gore professes.

Mr. Gore considers it immoral to oppose the Kyoto Protocol, energy taxes or other coercive schemes to curb carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions linked to global warming. My meaning is quite different: It is immoral to put an energy-starved world on an energy diet. (Marlo Lewis, Washington Times)

Rising temperatures show not all is well
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

AUSTRALIA continued running a fever last year with the nation once again recording higher than average temperatures.

And while south-eastern Australia experienced its second-driest year on record, key water catchments that feed the Murray and Snowy rivers suffered far more, notching up their most arid year.

"It's consistent with a warming trend," Neil Plummer, a senior climatologist with the Bureau of Meteorology, warned yesterday. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Ah, consistency... then again, so too is increased rainfall, warmth, cold, sunshine, cloudiness -- whatever you don't want, a warming trend will apprently provide it.

CHALLENGES 2006-2007: Keeping the Sahara in Check
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

ALGIERS, Dec 29 - Two hundred kilometres. A long distance to some, perhaps, but in the context of desertification in Algeria, alarmingly short.

Going in to 2007, the Sahara will have advanced to within 200 kilometres of the Mediterranean coastline of this North African state. And, warns President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, it may well extend further north to the shores of his country if more concerted action is not taken.

He was speaking at the third International Festival of Cultures and Civilisations of Desert Peoples, held Dec. 13-20 in the Algerian capital of Algiers. For several years, said Bouteflika, "Algeria lost, each year, 40,000 hectares of its most fertile lands because of desertification."

Ninety percent of the country is already desert, including the south and a large part of the north. Desertification has also affected 13 million hectares of territory over the past 10 years, according to figures from the Ministry of Agriculture.

Not everyone sounds quite as pessimistic a note as the head of state. (IPS)

Branson 'to create a world budget airline'
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson is teaming up with easyJet and a south-east Asian airline to create one of the world's first global budget carriers.

He is said to be in talks with Stelios Haji Ioannou, from the budget airline, and Tony Fernades, boss of AirAsia, to form a massive low-cost company connecting Britain with Malaysia, India and China.

Prices to Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, could start from as little as £43 and tickets from Kuala Lumpur to China might be as low as £14.

Industry sources say the men are in talks to launch the operation between Kuala Lumpur and Amritsar, in India, to Manchester. Heathrow has been ruled out because of the cost.

This is the fellow claimed to be worried about climate change and airlines' effect thereon...

Year of drought, flooding rains
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

PARTS of far north Queensland were the wettest places in Australia last year, while areas of southeastern Australia endured a drought described by the weather bureau as "unprecedented".

In its annual climate statement to be released today, the bureau says 2006 was nearly half a degree hotter and only slighter wetter than normal.

But it says there were stark contrasts in weather patterns across the country, with well-above-average rainfall across the north and inland Western Australia, while parts of southeast Australia had their driest year on record. (Courier-Mail)

Ottawa leaves the burning green question unanswered
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

OTTAWA -- Once a leader in the fledgling market for greenhouse gas emission credits, TransAlta Corp. has been on the sidelines as it awaits a clear climate change policy from Ottawa.

Two years ago, the Calgary-based power company spent $9-million (U.S.) to finance a methane-capture project on a Chilean hog farm.

The resulting reductions in greenhouse gases emissions were used as credits to offset the release of carbon dioxide at the new Genesee 3 coal-fired power plant, after the Alberta government ruled the plant could emit no more carbon dioxide -- after accounting for credits -- than a natural gas-fired plant of similar size.

Last year, TransAlta was absent from the market, as were many Canadian companies, while much of the rest of the world moved forward withdevelopment of markets for greenhouse gas-emissions credits. (Globe and Mail)

Red faces all round as environmental agency misses its own green targets
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

IT'S CALLED "Greening The Workplace" and should be an inspiration for every office in Scotland.

But an internal report on how well the Scottish Executive's environmental adviser is managing its own environment contains an embarrassing admission. (Scotland on Sunday)

Climate bigwigs blasted for flight findings
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

OFFICIALS from the Government agency championing the fight against climate chaos have taken 60 gas-guzzling domestic flights in the last year.

Environment Agency Wales (EAW) have been sending its staff on an air trip less than every two weeks - at the same time as urging everyone else to use other means of transport.

The revelation has provoked a series of attacks from shocked environmental groups, who say EAW needs to "get its house in order."

But this week EAW hit back, insisting meetings flown to were "business-crucial" and staff could not have attended otherwise. (Wales on Sunday)

Yep, like Ozone Man, it's absolutely crucial they fly around to tell you that you shouldn't.

Meanwhile, on the Plains: Snow-covered Plains still without power
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

OMAHA, Neb. - Utility crews struggled to restore electrical service to tens of thousands of homes as grocery store shelves went bare and ranchers tried to reach hungry cattle isolated after a blizzard dumped nearly 3 feet of snow on the Plains and Colorado. (AP)

NZ: Government plans new way to tax car drivers
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

All motorists would be charged for the distance they travel under a plan designed to replace petrol taxes.

The Government is worried that its petrol tax income will fall as climate change concerns produce vehicles which are more fuel-efficient or use alternatives to petrol. (New Zealand Herald)

Environmental Harmony
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

The long history of Congressional bipartisan cooperation on environmental issues dating back to Richard Nixon has been seriously challenged only twice. The first time was in 1995, when the Gingrich Republicans swept into Washington determined to roll back environmental laws, a threat averted by President Bill Clinton’s veto pen and the exertions of a group of moderate Republicans. The second challenge occurred during the Congress that has now thankfully drawn to a close.

The Democrats’ return to power in both houses has raised hopes that some of the old cooperative spirit can be restored and progress made on vital matters like global warming, oil dependency, national parks and threatened wetlands. (New York Times)

One reason we seriously doubt there'll be environmental harmony is that most everyone is an environmentalist and just about everyone has their own idea on the most desirable outcomes and means of achieving them.

100 Years Later, the Food Industry Is Still 'The Jungle'
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

Nothing in “The Jungle” sticks with the reader quite like what went into the sausages. There was the rotting ham that could no longer be sold as ham. There were the rat droppings, rat poison and whole poisoned rats. Most chilling, there were the unnamed things “in comparison with which a poisoned rat was a tidbit.”

Upton Sinclair wrote “The Jungle” as a labor exposé. He hoped that the book, which was billed as “the ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ of wage slavery,” would lead to improvements for the people to whom he dedicated it, “the workingmen of America.” But readers of “The Jungle” were less appalled by Sinclair’s accounts of horrific working conditions than by what they learned about their food. “I aimed at the public’s heart,” he famously declared, “and by accident I hit it in the stomach.”

“The Jungle,” and the campaign that Sinclair waged after its publication, led directly to passage of a landmark federal food safety law, which took effect 100 years ago this week. Sinclair awakened a nation not just to the dangers in the food supply, but to the central role government has to play in keeping it safe. But as the poisonings of spinach eaters and Taco Bell customers recently made clear, the battle is far from over — and in recent years, we have been moving in the wrong direction. (Adam Cohen, New York Times)

GTA's `spring New Year' a record
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

If this weather keeps up, it won't be long before Toronto is the new Florida.

For now, it's the new Vancouver.

Toronto just emerged from the warmest December on record, a month characterized by balmy days, rain showers and the lowest snowfall this city has ever seen.

Even yesterday's high of 9.2C broke a record for the warmest New Year's Day – albeit by 0.1C – giving Toronto a West Coast winter while Vancouver has been struggling with uncharacteristic cold and snow.

... Phillips, the climatologist, said he would not attribute last year's weather to climate change.

"It's wrong to look at one year in isolation and say `Oh my God, our climate is totally changing,' because the next year we may be buried in snow. (Toronto Star)

Power-Sipping Bulbs Get Backing From Wal-Mart
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

As a way to cut energy use, it could not be simpler. Unscrew a light bulb that uses a lot of electricity and replace it with one that uses much less.

While it sounds like a promising idea, it turns out that the long-lasting, swirl-shaped light bulbs known as compact fluorescent lamps are to the nation’s energy problem what vegetables are to its obesity epidemic: a near perfect answer, if only Americans could be persuaded to swallow them. (New York Times)

Hmm... According to the authors of "The Bottomless Well," the counterintuitive result will be a net increase in energy consumption from such sales. The reasoning is that the human response to every technological advance in efficiency is that because it is so much cheaper to use the newer efficient items, many more are sold so that their total energy consumption is more than the older inefficient models. -- They might be right, people do drive more when vehicles are cheaper to run, either through reduced pump price or greater economy. -- Hat tip koolcollector

A Breath Of Fresh Air In the Media On Climate Reporting - An Interview and Article By Andy Revkin
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

There is a constructive article in the New York Times by Andy Revkin entitled “Middle Stance Emerges in Debate Over Climate”. This news article is discussed today at Prometheus

There is also a valuable recent interview with Andy Revkin at WorldChanging.com by David Zaks and Chad Monfreda entitled “Worldchanging Interview: NY Times Science Reporter Andy Revkin“. The entire interview is worth reading. (Climate Science)

The bears are in trouble, but they're not on thin ice
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

Reports of the imminent extinction of polar bears are exaggerated, says Stuart Wavell, while another threat is ignored

Tony Blair huffed and Europe puffed, but in the end President George W Bush was a pushover for polar bears, whose plight persuaded him that global warming was harming the environment. By calling for the species to be added to the endangered list last week, the White House appeared to signal a commitment to cut the greenhouse gas emissions that threaten the bears&rsquo melting habitat. (Sunday Times)

Leading article: The battle to come
Monday, 01 January 2007

The old argument over climate change is over. Few doubt any longer that our world is heating up, and that it is primarily a result of man-made carbon dioxide emissions. The evidence is now overpowering. Last year was the warmest on record in Britain. Globally, it was the sixth hottest. Even those who live in temperate climes can sense the planet is getting warmer. (London Independent)

There has never been any real discussion about whether the world is warmer than when it's cooler -- the big deal is "how much and why?"

David King: At last, I'm hopeful about climate change
Monday, 01 January 2007

For those of us seeking to tackle the threat of climate change, 2006 was an encouraging year. At the start of the year, the conversation - when it took place at all - was about whether climate change was really happening. That discussion is now over. (London Independent)

Not in the real world it isn't Sir David, not in the real world.

Gentlemen, Start Your Plug-Ins
Monday, 01 January 2007

An oil and security task force of the Council on Foreign Relations recently opined that "the voices that espouse 'energy independence' are doing the nation a disservice by focusing on a goal that is unachievable over the foreseeable future." Others have also said, essentially, that other nations will control our transportation fuel--get used to it. Yet House Democrats have announced a push for "energy independence in 10 years," and in November General Motors joined Toyota and perhaps other auto makers in a race to produce plug-in hybrid vehicles, hugely reducing the demand for oil. Who's right--those who drive toward independence or those who shrug? Bet on major progress toward independence, spurred by market forces and a portfolio of rapidly developing oil-replacing technologies. ( R. James Woolsey, Opinion Journal)

'If we fail to act, we will end up with a different planet'
Monday, 01 January 2007

One of the world's leading experts on climate change has warned that the Earth is being turned into a "different planet" because of the continuing increase in man-made emissions of greenhouse gases.

In an interview with The Independent, Jim Hansen, who was one of the first scientists to warn of climate change in scientific testimony to the US Congress in 1988, claimed that we have less than 10 years to begin to curb carbon dioxide emissions before global warming runs out of control and changes the landscape forever. (London Independent)

Efforts To Combat Malaria Taking Off
Monday, 01 January 2007

Nothing But Nets announced that the campaign's efforts to fight malaria by delivering long-lasting, insecticide- treated nets (bed nets) to children and families throughout Africa were highlighted at today's White House Summit on Malaria hosted by President George Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.

Since May 2006, the Nothing But Nets campaign has raised over $1.7 million with average donations of 62 dollars. Representatives from the founding partners of the campaign, The National Basketball Association, the People of the United Methodist Church and the United Nations Foundation were all present at this historic event showcasing private and public efforts to eradicate malaria.

"While bed nets are just one way to curb the spread of malaria, the power of the campaign is that it is an easy thing for people to understand and even easier for them to have an impact, " said Kathy Behrens, Senior Vice President for Community and Player Programs. "Send a net. Save a life. It's just that easy." (MNT)

Nets are fine, as long as they are not turned into wedding dresses (actually a large problem in places) and they only protect people actually sleeping under them. A better way is to use nets in conjunction with Indoor Residual Spray regimes and so far no one has come up with a better or safer compound to use than DDT

Ian Campbell: Raft of measures to avert disaster
Monday, 01 January 2007

CLIMATE change is emerging as one of the greatest global intergenerational issues we face, economically as wellas socially. In 2002 the Australian Government released with the budget the first Intergenerational Report, which took a 40-year view of government policy, in particular the financial implications of demographic change.

With the weight of scientific evidence now telling us that dangerous greenhouse gases are being released into the atmosphere at increasing levels, climate change is promising to surpass the long-term social and economic challenges presented by the ageing of our population. (The Australian)

John Schubert: Don't let our corals lose their colour
Monday, 01 January 2007

ALL Australians should be hoping that the reality of climate change is not brought home to us this summer by severe damage to the Great Barrier Reef.

Last summer the southern reef around the Keppel Islands gave us a preview of what may happen over larger parts of the reef in the future. The Keppel Island reefs experienced warmer than normal water temperatures, which caused as much as 98per cent of the corals to bleach. Fortunately, more than half of these corals survived when the weather cooled in time to allow them to recover.

This is an example of why coral reefs are described as a canary in the mine in the context of climate change. Small increases in water temperature can, and will, prove catastrophic, especially if the settings are not in place to avert rolling effects from other factors. (The Australian)

And if "global warming" causes seas to rise a meter or so then more corals would be protected from bleaching (only the top couple of meters of the water column are troubled by the phenomenon, below which there is little or no effect). The additional plus for corals is that such depth increase would dramatically increase coral habitat because shallow water corals are limited vertically by running out of ocean. So even in the worst case scenario corals will do fine, although there's no realistic possibility we'll observe such sea level increase in less than about 400 years (about the same rate as has been ongoing for millennia).

Next big test of power to seize property?
Monday, 01 January 2007

The US Supreme Court will examine whether a private company can demand payment in exchange for not seizing private property.

Bart Didden wanted to put a CVS pharmacy on his property in Port Chester, N.Y. He even obtained approvals from the local planning board.

But because a portion of the CVS site was in a blighted redevelopment zone, Mr. Didden was told that planning board approval wasn't enough. He'd have to reach an understanding with a private company that had been selected by Port Chester officials to control all construction inside the renewal zone.

The developer, Gregg Wasser of G&S Port Chester, told Didden he'd have to pay $800,000 or give G&S a 50 percent stake in the CVS business. If Didden refused, Mr. Wasser said, he would have Port Chester condemn and seize his property and instead of a CVS he'd put a Walgreens drugstore on the site.

Didden refused. The next day, the Village of Port Chester began legal proceedings to seize Didden's land by eminent domain. (The Christian Science Monitor)

World faces hottest year ever, as El Nino combines with global warming
Monday, 01 January 2007

A combination of global warming and the El Niño weather system is set to make 2007 the warmest year on record with far-reaching consequences for the planet, one of Britain's leading climate experts has warned.

As the new year was ushered in with stormy conditions across the UK, the forecast for the next 12 months is of extreme global weather patterns which could bring drought to Indonesia and leave California under a deluge.

The warning, from Professor Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, was one of four sobering predictions from senior scientists and forecasters that 2007 will be a crucial year for determining the response to global warming and its effect on humanity.

Professor Jones said the long-term trend of global warming - already blamed for bringing drought to the Horn of Africa and melting the Arctic ice shelf - is set to be exacerbated by the arrival of El Niño, the phenomenon caused by above-average sea temperatures in the Pacific. (London Independent)

Meanwhile, Australia is reporting that the drought is likely to break soon as the current weak El Niño collapses. Phil Jones claims to remove UHIE from the heavily urbanised near-surface record but refuses to reveal the methodology employed. Atmospheric records -- and it matters not whether you use UAH or RSS -- do not show the same warming in direct contradiction of the enhanced greenhouse hypothesis and yet the media and activists claim Jonesies' cooked books as "proof" of AGW. Too bizarre for words really.

Consumer tidal wave on the way: China's middle class
Monday, 01 January 2007

Due to the fruits of economic liberalization, analysts say that China is poised for a consumer-products revolution. (The Christian Science Monitor)

Do we believe these people are about to seriously curtail energy use? No? Do we suppose they might use their abundant coal resources to fuel this energy need?

Designer Cattle Resist Mad Cow Disease: Study
Monday, 01 January 2007

Jan 1, 2007 — WASHINGTON - U.S. and Japanese scientists reported on Sunday that they had used genetic engineering to produce cattle that resist mad cow disease.

They hope the cattle can be the source of herds that can provide dairy products, gelatin and other products free of the brain-destroying disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE.

Writing in the journal Nature Biotechnology, the researchers said their cattle were healthy at the age of 20 months, and sperm from the males made normal embryos that were used to impregnate cows, although it is not certain yet that they could breed normally. (Reuters)

Nuclear power 'cheaper than coal'
Monday, 01 January 2007

AUSTRALIANS risk higher electricity prices if the nation fails to embrace nuclear power and relies on low-emission coal technology.

In a new push to force the Labor Party to abandon its opposition to nuclear power, the Howard Government is preparing to warn consumers that the anti-nuclear stance could hit the family budget. (The Australian)

Scientists alarmed by snapped Arctic ice shelf
Monday, 01 January 2007

TORONTO — A giant ice shelf has snapped free from an island south of the North Pole, scientists said Thursday, citing climate change as a “major” reason for the event. (AP)

I love these descriptions -- is there any island (or land) which is not "south of the North Pole"? Never mind that there has never been adequate technology to detect any previous such event (not that anyone would have cared).

Expressing doubt about climate catastrophe a risky venture
Monday, 01 January 2007

In early December, Olympic skiers Thomas Grandi and Sara Renner held a press conference to announce they were joining David Suzuki to fight climate change. Twice a World Cup gold medal winner, Grandi intends to donate half his circuit winnings this season to the David Suzuki Foundation. Suzuki hopes his "Play It Cool" campaign will also attract the support of other athletes to "help combat global warming".

When asked about the issue by CBC news, Nancy Greene Raine, a World Cup and Olympic Gold Medal skiing champion herself, expressed reservations about today's global warming fears. For this, Greene Raine was lambasted by university and government proponents of the human-caused climate change theory. Some even questioned whether she could remain Chancellor of the new Thompson Rivers University (TRU) in Kamloops, B.C. in light of her statements. (Tom Harris, & Dr. Tim Ball, Canada Free Press)