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Archives - July 2004

July 30, 2004

"Toxic Waste Site Secrets" - "Almost one in 10 of the nation's 1,230 Superfund (search) toxic waste sites have not yet been cleaned up enough to guarantee that people and drinking water supplies won't become contaminated," reported the Associated Press this week." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Visions of 'Ecodemics'" (PDF) - "In Six Modern Plagues, veterinarian and journalist Mark Jerome Walters, like many modern-day greens, deems humankind the source of many of the world's problems. He claims that because of humanity's attempts to promote such alleged evils as "efficiency and profit," "the financial gain of the few," and "progress," we are now suffering from diseases on an unprecedented scale." (Angela Logomasini, CEI)

"Cancer from PAHs at Trade Center Site Unlikely" - "While the attacks on the World Trade Center have had incalculable effects on Americans, a recently released and widely publicized study gives hope that at least one of the effects of the disaster — the release into the air of a substance known, at high doses, to be a carcinogen — is not a long-term health concern even for those who spent a lot of time near the site." (Rivka Weiser, ACSH)

"EPA Allowed to Ease Pesticide Reviews" - "WASHINGTON -- The Environmental Protection Agency will be free to approve pesticides without consulting wildlife agencies to determine if the chemical might harm plants and animals protected by the Endangered Species Act, according to new Bush administration rules." (AP)

Here we go again! "Apple a day may poison children" - "Children who eat an apple or pear a day may be exceeding the pesticide safety threshold because of residues on the fruit, according to research." (The Guardian)

"New regulations hinder research" - "New ethics committee regulations impede and delay clinical research, sometimes to the extent that conclusions are flawed and patients damaged, according to several articles in this week's BMJ." (BMJ-British Medical Journal)

"Child vaccinations hit record, but many uncovered" - "WASHINGTON - U.S. immunization rates have hit a record high, but one-fifth of American children are not receiving all the vaccinations they need, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday.

Because of shortages of one vaccine that protects against a range of diseases from ear infections to meningitis, only just over a third of children have received the full four doses that provide optimal protection, the CDC said.

"Among U.S. children aged 19 to 35 months, estimated coverage with recommended vaccines was greater in 2003 than in 2002 and represented all-time highs," the CDC said in its report." (Reuters)

"UK: Measles outbreak is confirmed" - "Parents are being urged to get their children vaccinated after an outbreak of measles in a community in the Swansea Valley, south Wales." (BBC Online)

"Lab-made prions trigger mad cow symptoms" - "Researchers have created a synthetic protein that makes mice display symptoms similar to those of mad cow disease." (Nature News) | Synthetic prion causes neurological disease in mice (NIH/National Institute on Aging)

"Potatoes have had their chips" - "The impact of the Atkins diet on the nation's eating habits was underlined yesterday by a Government survey showing that people were buying far fewer carbohydrates, such as bread and potatoes, than ever before.

Consumption of starchy food had fallen 50 per cent since 1975 - with the sale of potatoes dropping 4.5 per cent in the last year alone - while people were buying more fruit and vegetables." (Daily Telegraph)

"Blunkett told: treat animal rights extremists as terrorists" - "One of Britain's leading research scientists yesterday urged David Blunkett to treat extremist animal rights protesters "like the terrorists they are." (Daily Telegraph)

"Lobster Liberation Front declares war on fishermen" - "Police are investigating a claim by an animal rights extremist group that it was responsible for releasing a fisherman's lobsters, seriously damaging his boathouse and splashing red paint around his home.

The statement by an organisation calling itself the Lobster Liberation Front included a warning that "the war against the lobster industry has begun". The notice, which was posted anonymously on the Southern Animal Rights Coalition website, added: "We will attack anywhere, at any time, and pots will be smashed, boats sunk and sea life liberated." (Daily Telegraph)

"Humans are sentient too" - "Violent animal liberation activists undermine the ethical basis of our movement" (Peter Singer, The Guardian)

I admit I have no time for the animal whackos but at least Singer speaks against violent animal libbers, hence the above link.

"Save the rainforest - eat a tree" - "A University of Utah experiment conducted in Peru's Amazon Basin shows insects increase the diversity of the rainforest when they munch on trees. Such seemingly destructive behavior keeps dominant tree species under control but allows other trees to thrive." (University of Utah)

Oh, so they are the planet's lungs after all: "Estimates of Amazon's greenhouse gas 'too low'" - "BRASILIA, Brazil - Many estimates of the amount of greenhouse gas given off by burning and deforestation in the Amazon are far too low because they fail to take account of gas released by rotting vegetation, a deforestation conference has been told.

Scientists from Brazil's National Institute of Amazon Research said on Thursday about 400 million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent were emitted in 2003 -- 60 percent more than one estimate by other scientists at the conference.

"It's emitting much more than it is absorbing," said Philip Fearnside, a researcher at the institute, challenging a view presented to the conference on Wednesday that the jungle is a small net producer of oxygen." (Reuters)

Right... "Disaster at sea: global warming hits UK birds" - "Hundreds of thousands of Scottish seabirds have failed to breed this summer in a wildlife catastrophe which is being linked by scientists directly to global warming.

The massive unprecedented collapse of nesting attempts by several seabird species in Orkney and Shetland is likely to prove the first major impact of climate change on Britain." | A giant ecosystem that has functioned for millions of years has begun to break down (Independent)

Having survived the Medieval Climate Optimum (oops! must try to get the hang of PC "Medieval Warm Period"), the ecosystem is breaking down because temperatures are recovering to near what they were prior to the 15th Century? And this system has been 'functioning' for 'millions of years' - like pre-Holocene warming, when it was under, oh, about a mile of ice for about sixty thousand years during the last great glaciation? Then there's the little matter of the Holocene Maximum of about 4,000-7,500 years ago - if the system breaks down in today's tepid temperatures then it's hardly likely to have managed a few millennia of actual warm weather is it.

Between the Beeb's appalling propaganda exercise and this lot it's beginning to look like some sort of Munchausen-style competition is in progress among the British media - I hesitate to view The Guardian.

"Ellesmere Island's ice shelf broken into pieces" - "Changes may mark rapid global warming" (Nunatsiaq News)

But wait! There's more: "... When the British Arctic Expedition travelled there in 1875 and Robert E. Peary explored the area in 1907, this shelf of land-fast ice was still intact, but, by 1982, 90 per cent of the shelf had been lost. "This has been going on all this time, but nobody paid much attention. It's happened throughout the whole century," says Mueller, who was in Iqaluit last week to give a public talk about "Ice shelf break-up up and habitat loss in the High Arctic" at the Unikkaarvik Visitor Centre."

So, most of it was 'lost' by the end of the great global cooling scare? Well, there's proof of global warming then.

"Urban heat islands make cities greener" - "Some people think cities and nature don't mix, but a new NASA-funded study finds that concrete jungles create warmer conditions that cause plants to stay green longer each year, compared to surrounding rural areas. Urban areas with high concentrations of buildings, roads and other artificial surfaces retain heat, creating urban heat islands. Satellite data reveal that urban heat islands increase surface temperatures compared to rural surroundings." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office)

"Another Model Error" - "One of the most prominent theorized greenhouse-gas signals is a shrinking of the diurnal temperature range (or DTR)—the difference between the daily minimum temperature and the daily maximum temperature (in other words, how warm it gets during daylight hours minus how cool it gets at night). And, over most land areas DTR has been declining even though both maximum and minimum temperatures have been rising. This is because night-time temperatures has been rising faster than day time temperatures." (GES)

"Solar Activity and Terrestrial Climate" - "On July 6, 2004, a BBC article, headlined Sunspots reaching 1000-year high, caught the attention of a number of readers. Related articles soon appeared in other publications, for example: Sunspot activity hits 1000-year high at Swissinfo.org, The truth about global warming - it's the Sun that's to blame at the London Telegraph, and Hotter-burning sun warming the planet at the Washington Times.

It seems that at a conference of astronomers in Hamburg, Germany, Sami Solanki and colleagues presented a discussion of possible correlations between solar variability and terrestrial climate. The recent articles provide some clues to the content of the presentation, but a slightly closer look may be of interest." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Warning over flood plain 'ghettos'" - "The government is to press on with plans to build 120,000 homes in the Thames Gateway flood plain despite accepting the increased chance of flooding disasters due to global warming." (The Guardian)

"U.K. Will Miss 2010 Carbon-Emissions Target, Cambridge Says" - "July 30 -- The U.K., Europe's second-largest greenhouse-gas emitter, will miss its target to cut carbon dioxide production by because household and auto emissions will rise, a research report said.

``The government's 20 percent domestic carbon-reduction goal is likely to be missed by a large margin,'' Cambridge Econometrics, an economic and industrial forecaster based in Cambridge, England, said in its report." (Bloomberg)

"Groups Try to Plug Peruvian Pipeline Loan" - "WASHINGTON, Jul 29 - Environmental and human-rights groups here and in Peru have launched a last-ditch effort to delay final approval, expected as early as this week, of a controversial pipeline project in Peru they say endangers some of the world's most unique rainforests and Latin America's isolated indigenous populations." (IPS)

"Francis Crick: DNA code-breaker dies at 88" - "We wish to suggest a structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid (DNA). This structure has novel features which are of considerable biological interest."

So began Francis Crick and James Watson in their ground-breaking Nature paper1, published 51 years ago. The paper describes the structure of DNA. The discovery was to change the face of modern-day science and medicine.

Sadly, Francis Crick died yesterday after a long battle with colon cancer. He passed away at Thornton Hospital in La Jolla, California." (Nature News)

"We reap as we sow" - "At the National Federation of Women's Institutes' annual meeting on 9 June, 88 per cent backed the resolution: 'In the light of growing evidence that the current generation of GM crops are beneficial for neither people nor planet, this meeting strongly opposes the growing of GM crops in the UK and calls on HM Government to prohibit their cultivation.' This article is adapted from a speech given against the motion." (Conrad Lichtenstein, sp!ked)

"Safely feeding the hungry" - "Greens and others of like mind repeatedly raised phantom fears about the safety of genetically-engineered (GE) foods, even when it meant pulling food from the mouths of malnourished babes. While it will not stop the scaremongering, a recently published report from the National Research Council (NRC) and Institute of Medicine Academy adds much needed perspective. Researchers, charged with assessing the health risks of genetically-modified foods, properly began by declaring that conventional breeding and genetic modification are variations on the same theme. "Hazards associated with genetic modifications, specifically genetic engineering, do not fit into a simple dichotomy of genetic engineering versus nongenetic engineering breeding. Not only are many mechanisms common to both . . . but also those techniques slightly overlap each other," the report said. There are good grounds for that statement, since regardless of where they come from, plant genes are made of the same stuff -- DNA -- and produce similar protein end-products." (The Washington Times)

"Big two GM companies in legal battle" - "Two of the world's biggest agribusiness companies, Syngenta and Monsanto, have filed lawsuits accusing each other of anti-competitive practices in genetically modified maize." (The Guardian)

July 29, 2004

"Reflections on a Life Covering 90% of a Century" - "Today is my mother's 90th birthday. She has the dubious distinction of being born the very day World War I began -- July 28, 1914, when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia after it failed to meet the conditions of an ultimatum it sent on July 23 following the Sarajevo assassination. Wife, mother, "career woman" (she served as pioneer self-help book author Dale Carnegie's personal secretary in the early 1940s) , she has seen a lot of life and a substantial amount of societal change -- almost all for the better.

When she was born, influenza and pneumonia, tuberculosis, dysentery, diphtheria, and measles were among the leading causes of death. At the time of her entrance into the world, life expectancy at birth in America was around forty-seven years." (Elizabeth M. Whelan, ACSH)

"Gulf war veterans' veracity doubted" - "A former army medical officer yesterday suggested that some veterans of the first Gulf war exaggerated the extent to which their health had been damaged by their service. Retired Major General Peter Craig, who still sits on service pension tribunals, said: "I am not absolutely convinced by the veracity of the evidence I have personally heard. At the very least, in certain instances, it has been exaggerated." (The Guardian)

"Up With People" - "For reasons that are difficult to fathom, the UN Population Division is projecting that the decline in human fertility that has been ongoing throughout the developed world, and most of the developing world, for a long time is going to stop and the process go into reverse. The UN's projections over the period 1994 to 1998 were reduced by over 500 million for year 2030 and by almost one billion for 2050. However, in their 2000 projections, global population was increased by 160 million for 2030 and by almost 400 million for 2050. The changes in the fertility assumptions were the basis for these reversals. But why?" (Ron Duncan, TCS)

"Polar bears roam Arctic ice on borrowed time" - "There are today nearly as many polar bears as people in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, a mere 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from the North Pole, but experts fear that balance is about to shift as the white king of the ice roams steadily towards extinction.

Theoretically a protected species, the polar bear has in practice been exposed to an increasing number of man-made perils, leading researchers to worry that it could be completely extinct in just a matter of decades." (AFP)

"Ocean study explores link with Australian and Indonesian rainfall" - "Scientists are investigating fluctuations in the flow of warm waters from the western Pacific Ocean draining through the Indonesian Archipelago into the Indian Ocean north of Australia." (CSIRO Australia)

"Data Show Amazon Still 'Lungs of the World'" - "BRASILIA, Brazil - The Amazon deserves to be called the "lungs of the world," as new projections show it is a net producer of oxygen despite widespread burning of the jungle, scientists said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

Uh... don't lungs take O2 from the atmosphere and release those dreadful greenhouse gasses, CO2 and the particularly nasty H2O*, back into it?

*Water vapour accounts for greater than nine-tenths of the global greenhouse effect

They've discovered UHIE! "Spring through fall, cities are greener longer than neighboring rural regions" - "Summer can sometimes be a miserably hot time for city dwellers, but new research shows that an urban setting allows plants to bask in a hot-house environment that keeps them greener longer. Recent NASA-sponsored research from a team of geographers in Boston University's Center for Remote Sensing shows that the growing season for vegetation in about 70 urban areas in North America is, on average, 15 days longer than that in surrounding rural regions." (Boston University)

"Global warping" - "In a midday program on July 28th the BBC broadcast a television programme called Global Warning (the first of three). It was possibly the most one-sided piece of blatant propaganda that has ever been transmitted in Britain in time of peace. It presented the global warming myth as an unmitigated horror story. Outrageous lies were presented as facts (carbon dioxide is the commonest greenhouse gas, the atmosphere acts as a blanket, scientists overwhelmingly agree etc.) The two “experts” were SIR Christopher Tickell, who is credited with inventing the whole scam, and SIR David King, who is challenging for Michael Meacher’s title as the most embarrassing Briton." (Number Watch)

Transcripts are promised - you can access them from the "INTERACTIVE FORUMS" (R/H side) on these fright features: Greenland ice-melt 'speeding up'; Southern Spain 'dust bowl' threat; Maldives: Paradise soon to be lost There's also video of the Beeb's hand-wringing - click the "VIDEO" button (underneath "WATCH/LISTEN") & ferret around - you'll find "Climate change: Global warning?" somewhere. (BBC Online)

"Programme schedule: Global warning?" - "A look ahead to television programmes and debates scheduled in a three-day BBC special series on climate change." (BBC Online)

"Britons unsure of climate costs" - "A majority of Britons accept human activity is responsible for changing the climate of the planet, a new BBC poll suggests. But barely half of more than 1,000 people polled thought they themselves would feel any significant impact. And almost half of those interviewed thought changing their behaviour would make no difference to climate change. Most were willing to take some action, though nearly two out of three rejected paying more for petrol." (Alex Kirby, BBC News Online)

"Barclays, Shell in landmark carbon emissions deal" - "LONDON - Barclays Capital and Shell Trading have completed the first carbon emissions trade using standard terms set out by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, the two firms said." (Reuters)

"Ministry eyes environment tax, trading of greenhouse gas emissions" - "TOKYO — The Environment Ministry drafted an interim report Wednesday featuring an environment tax on fossil fuels and corporate trading of greenhouse gas emission rights as measures to deal with global warming, ministry officials said.

The ministry will present the draft to a global environment subcommittee of the Central Environment Council on Thursday for inclusion in a policy outline to be adopted early next year by the headquarters to promote measures on global warming headed by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, the officials said." (Kyodo News) [Complete]

"Environmental Rules Affect Refineries Most" - "WASHINGTON — It's a dirty business, making gasoline. No industry has been affected more by environmental rules to clean the air than the nation's refineries.

As gasoline prices soared in recent months to $2 a gallon and beyond, it was not long before the question was asked: Are environmental regulations to blame? Is that why no new refineries have been built?" (Associated Press)

Incentive harvesting - your tax dollars at work: "GE hopes its solar will top $1 bln per year by 2010" - "NEW YORK - Citing recent success in alternative power, GE Energy, a subsidiary of General Electric Co. is hoping to boost its solar energy sales to $1 billion annually by the end of the decade, the head of GEs solar business said." (Reuters)

"Tiny science's future laid out" - "The risks and benefits in pursuing the tiny science of nanotechnology are assessed in a report due on Thursday. The Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering have reviewed the current UK status of this developing research field and will propose new regulations. Concerns over nanotech's potential to harm human health and the environment were voiced recently by Prince Charles." (BBC News Online)

"Nanotechnology tries to fix image problem" - "Scientists are calling for a public debate into nanotechnology to dispel fears about the new science and prevent it being labelled as "another GM".

The Royal Society says today in a report that nanotechnology - which uses molecule-sized parts as small as a billionth of a metre to do otherwise impossible tasks - could bring a huge economic boost to Britain.

Existing uses include sunscreens, tumour treatments, beauty products and stain-proof trousers. But the report warns that over-zealous legislation could put Britain at a disadvantage in the field. "The people who have been putting it together have taken a very wide spectrum of views," said one person who had seen the report." (Independent)

"Myths and realities of nano futures" - "Ever since John Dalton convinced the world of the existence of atoms in 1803, scientists have wanted to do things with them." (BBC News Online)

"Hopes Now Outpace Stem Cell Science" - "For all the promise, and for all the fervent hopes of patients and their families that cures from stem cells will come soon, researchers say many questions remain to be answered." (Gina Kolata, New York Times)

"Genes, torts converge in law program on genomics" - "Guy Cardineau takes it personally when his wife buys organic milk, unaltered by scientists like himself, or when an environmentalist bashes insect-resistant corn, with genes changed by scientists like himself.

For the past 20 years, Cardineau has worked at the cutting edge of research on genetically modified crops.

But worse than personal insults can be the legal fallout from innovative but controversial scientific research. That's one lesson among many he'll be teaching lawyers next year at Arizona State University in the country's first program offering an advanced legal degree in biotechnology and genomics." (The Arizona Republic)

"Finally, Logic on Genetically-Modified Foods" - "For years now, scaremongers have been trying to frighten consumers with the specter of so-called "Frankenfoods," especially food plants altered by gene-splicing to include pesticide resistance or higher levels of particular nutrients. Several years ago, for example, alarmist groups raised the fear that a protein added to StarLink corn would cause fatal allergic reactions in consumers. It didn't happen. But that hasn't stopped such accusations from getting much media play and causing some consumers to mistrust the latest methodologies. Some groups have demanded that all crops altered by genetic engineering undergo safety testing before they can be marketed, while crops altered by other forms of genetic modification (such as hybridization of different species) are not required to do so." (Ruth Kava, ACSH)

"CEI Welcomes Report on Biotech Food Safety" - "Washington, D.C., July 28, 2004—The safety of genetic engineering techniques for crop improvement received yet another endorsement in a report released today by the National Academy of Sciences. The study found that genetically engineered foods do not generate compositional changes that are different from other plant and animal breeding techniques and policies that subject only genetically engineered foods to pre-market evaluation are “scientifically unjustified.” (CEI)

"The Institute of Food Science & Technology supports Genetic modification" - "Says Genetic modification has the potential to offer very significant improvements in the quantity, quality and acceptability of the world's food supply." (FoodIngredientsFirst.com)

July 27, 2004

"In Memoriam: J. Gordon Edwards" - "J. Gordon Edwards, who died at the age of 85 on last Monday, July 19th, had two defining passions: a love of nature and a love of people. The former led him to be called Glacier National Park's “patron saint of climbing” and the authorship of the definitive work, “A Climber’s Guide to Glacier National Park.” The latter led him to be a spirited and vociferous advocate for the use of DDT in malaria control." (AFM)

"Study Shows Air From 9/11 Didn't Inflate Cancer Risk" - "After the World Trade Center collapsed, air samples collected nearby showed that levels of some cancer-causing chemicals had soared but had fallen so quickly that the pollution spike was unlikely to increase cancer risks in nearby communities, researchers reported yesterday." (New York Times)

"Irradiated Food for Thought" - "Irradiated foods dangerous? Here we go again. And this time, it isn't the media sounding the health (scare) alarm but members of the science community. Which just goes to show, having a medical degree does not guarantee a degree of rationality." (Aubrey Stimola, ACSH)

"Obesity fuels their fervor" - "To their critics, they are known as the food police. That's the polite term. Other sobriquets include "the cookie cops," "the grease Gestapo" and, given the times, "the vegetarian Taliban."

But the academics, scientists and consumer activists who have targeted the evils of unhealthy foods for decades are used to the name-calling. With American obesity a growing health hazard — two-thirds of adults, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are now overweight — the food crusaders are energized. Where once their ideas seemed far-fetched, they now believe they are knocking on the door of the mainstream." (Los Angeles Times)

Letter of the moment: "Game of Show and Don't Tell" - "In case you missed it, Morgan Spurlock brought his "Super Size Me" sideshow to Capitol Hill yesterday. Sharing the stage was the animal rights-supported Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a controversial group which, despite its name, has very few medical doctor members. It does, however, have close ties to radical groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA), and militants from Animal Liberation Front and Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty." (Soso Whaley, The Washington Times)

"Challenge to animal lab decision" - "Animal rights groups have accused the government of ignoring expert reports when it granted planning permission for a primate research laboratory. Lawyers for two lobby groups are challenging a decision made by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott. In the High Court on Monday, they said his ruling to give Cambridge University permission to build a testing facility had been a "foregone conclusion". They want the decision quashed - even though the plans have now been dropped." (BBC News Online)

"VIEWPOINT: Warming case uses overheated evidence" - "DALLAS, Texas - Both Michael Noble, "Solutions to warming begin with facing facts," and Joe Richardson, "As world overheats, arguments against global warming dry up," overstate their case and the evidence concerning the causes and consequences of the earth's present warming trend.

The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change claim that human activities are responsible for nearly all Earth's recorded warming during the past two centuries is based largely upon the work of Michael Mann of the University of Virginia and Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia in England. But over the past two years, their work has been discredited by five different groups of independent research scientists.

Mann and Jones' historical reconstruction indicates that air temperatures from 200 to 1900 were nearly constant. Yet missing from their timeline are the Medieval Warm Period that occurred from about 800 A.D. to 1400 and the Little Ice Age that chilled the Earth from 1600 to 1850." (H. Sterling Burnett, Grand Forks Herald)

"Heated Nuisance Suits" - "Last week, several state attorneys general and the city of New York announced a lawsuit against five of the nation's largest utilities seeking reductions in their carbon dioxide emissions. AGs from eight states -- California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin -- and the City of New York, filed suit against American Electric Power, Cinergy, the Southern Company, Xcel Energy, and the Tennessee Valley Authority. According to the suit, these utilities are contributing to a "public nuisance" under federal common law by emitting greenhouse gases." (Jonathan H. Adler, TCS)

"Burn, baby, burn: Why we're back to nuclear power" - "As the anniversary of Ontario's power blackout approaches, the volatility of energy markets rises around the globe. Our social survival depends on the consumption of energy, especially electricity. Oil requires a military perspective on the world. The environment weighs in. And so we contemplate the resurrection of nuclear power." (William Thorsell, Globe and Mail)

"Blackout clears the air" - "The power blackout that hit eastern North America last summer may have made it darker at night, but during the day it increased visibility by up to 40 kilometres. US researchers have found that air pollution plummeted far more than they would have expected as the power plants shut down." (Nature News)

"Bacteria, Underground Fires to Unlock Oil Reserves" - "LONDON - Could microbes, underground fires, or sonic vibrations help open up untapped oil resources? These unlikely candidates are among a variety of techniques that could help squeeze more oil out of developed reservoirs, oil engineers say." (Reuters)

"How the pollution from this War of the Winds makes my blood boil" - "Plans for a wind farm off the South Wales coast at Porthcawl, and visible across the entire Swansea Bay, have brought widespread criticism. Writing here after the scheme was approved by the National Assembly, Professor Niall Ferguson outlines his opposition to the turbines" (The Western Mail)

"The promise and perils of the nanotech revolution" - "Nanotechnology could revolutionize science, technology, medicine and space exploration. Nanotechnology could ravage the environment, eliminate jobs and lead to frightening new weapons of war. Those are two extreme takes on the hottest, and potentially most controversial, new technology since biotech and PCs." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"'Frozen Ark' to save animal DNA" - "The genetic make-up of endangered species is to be preserved for the future in a major new UK-based project. The 'Frozen Ark', launched on Tuesday, will collect DNA from mammals, birds, insects and reptiles near extinction." (BBC News Online)

Grandstanding dipsticks strike again: "Greenpeace launches 'jaguars' to stop forest destruction" - "Greenpeace activists, dressed as jaguars on motorbikes, immobilised bulldozers to prevent them destroying precious forests in a remote region of north west Argentina today. The forests are being cut down to grow Monsanto's genetically engineered soya, used to feed cows, pigs and chicken in Europe and China." (Press Release)

"EPO restricts OncoMouse patent" - "The European Patent Office (EPO) has approved a restricted patent on the Harvard OncoMouse, dealing a setback to activists who fought for 9 years to bar EU patents on living organisms." (The Scientist)

"GM-free organic meat 'almost impossible'" - "AMSTERDAM — A report claimed on Monday that the production of GM-free organic meat is almost impossible and only at extreme costs can it be ensured that animals only receive feed with no genetically modified organisms. The Agriculture Ministry commissioned the report to determine if GM-free animal food production is possible to give consumers choice, newspaper De Volkskrant reported on Monday. The organic sector is opposed to the use of genetically modified organisms, but researchers said meeting that demand is becoming increasingly difficult." (Expatica)

"Sri Lanka: Regulations to control genetically modified food and organisms soon" - "Environment and Natural Resources Minister A.H.M.Fowzie yesterday stressed the importance of introducing a Regulatory System to control the inflow of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and Genetically Modified Food (GMFs) to the country. He said that action is now being taken to introduce new laws for this purpose." (Daily News)

July 26, 2004

"New Malaria-Carrying Mosquito Found in Cameroon" - "YAOUNDE - A new form of mosquito carrying the parasite responsible for the most deadly form of malaria, Africa's biggest killer alongside HIV/AIDS, has been discovered in a village in southern Cameroon, researchers say.

Discovery of the hitherto-unknown variety, provisionally dubbed "Oveng Form" after the village where it was found, is likely to make the fight against the malaria in Cameroon even more difficult, researchers say, although more research is needed." (Reuters)

"Articles of Faith" - "Why are children in Africa dying of AIDS? It's the "genocidal action of the drug cartels" claims Jesuit Priest Angelo D'Agostino. In fact, D'Agostino's mean-spirited accusation is a good example of the ignorant anti-freedom mentality which has caused so much suffering in Africa." (Dave Kopel, Carlo Stagnaro, and Alberto Mingardi, TCS)

Hah! "UK: Children to get jabs against drug addiction" - "Ministers consider vaccination scheme. Heroin, cocaine and nicotine targeted." (Independent on Sunday)

Can't even get the population to vaccinate their kids against serious diseases in sufficient numbers to maintain herd immunity and someone thinks the general public will zap kids against pleasure/reward? And imagine the law suits decades down track - everything from depression to reduced libido will be because "the gum'mint tooked my pleasure feelings away," at least according to litigators and the next crop of get-rich-quick tort abusers.  How many John Edwards does the world need?

"Lung cancer gene region identified" - "In a stunning medical breakthrough, researchers led by University of Cincinnati scientists have located a narrow region of genes that can sharply increase a person's risk of developing lung cancer - America's No. 1 cancer killer." (The Cincinnati Enquirer)

"Triumph of the Individual" - "The Medicare program recently decided to abandon its policy that obesity is not a disease. This step highlights how our national debate on obesity is evolving into two camps. One emphasizes that obesity results from such factors as genes, a disease state or physiology. The other focuses on the role personal responsibility plays and possibly defines obesity as a personal failing." (Dr. Gerard J. Musante, TCS)

"Editorial: Fattening Up" - "UNFORTUNATELY FOR those who hoped to get the government to pay for their Weight Watchers clinics and Atkins diet books, last week's decision enabling Medicare to treat obesity as a disease does not -- yet -- have such broad (or astronomically expensive) implications. The change was in fact a narrow one: It will allow Medicare to start gathering evidence to determine whether particular treatments, including diet programs, behavior therapy and surgery, are effective in weight control. In that sense, it is a useful regulatory change, because this is precisely the sort of evidence gathering that Medicare, with its financial clout, ought to be doing, and that the diet industry, long a haven for quacks and cranks, desperately needs." (The Washington Post)

"Report entreats FDA to assess cosmetics ingredients" - "Ingredients in the most popular lotions, sprays, creams and cosmetics have never been tested by the Food and Drug Administration, according to a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy organization.

The government has not evaluated 89 percent of the 10,500 ingredients in personal care products, the Environmental Working Group said. The organization's leaders say they want the federal government to more closely monitor the industry.

Local activists and health experts believe the report could offer some answers to the region's elevated cancer levels." (Cape Cod Times)

Would any animals be involved in this testing?

"Kill scientists, says animal rights chief" - "A top adviser to Britain's two most powerful animal rights protest groups caused outrage last night by claiming that the assassination of scientists working in biomedical research would save millions of animals' lives." (The Observer)

"Technology: You might not like it, but labs are our lifeblood" - "Bully-boy tactics by anti-vivisectionists are threatening the future of medical research in Britain. Stopping all animal testing would do more harm than good, argues Tim Webb" (Independent on Sunday)

"Action planned over animal rights extremists" - "LONDON - A City of London organisation says it is considering offering rewards for the arrest of animal rights extremists who intimidate people working for financial institutions. The National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF), whose members oversee more than 600 billion pounds of assets, said on Saturday the rewards were among plans being considered to tackle a growing problem caused by activists." (Reuters)

"Blunkett waters down animal extremists Bill" - "David Blunkett will face the wrath of Britain's biotech industry on Friday by rejecting proposals for a new Bill to tackle animal rights extremists.

Instead, the Home Secretary will announce amendments to existing legislation, which he will claim will give police new powers to clamp down on protest groups that intimidate employees of companies involved in animal testing.

His move, coming after two companies - Montpellier and RMC - pulled out of the construction of an £18m medical research laboratory at Oxford University following intimidation from extremists, will be derided as a soft line." (Independent on Sunday)

"Revealed: animal rights extremists set up combat skills training camp in Britain" - "Activists from around the world are coming to this country to prepare themselves for battle in what they call 'the animal liberation war'. Report by Sophie Goodchild and Steve Bloomfield" (Independent on Sunday)

"Green Gridlock" - "Environmental activists join the Senate judge fights." (Jonathan H. Adler, NRO)

"Arrival of dolphins and seals gives Father Thames a clean new image" - "With its pungent sewers and overcrowded banks, the Thames was described by the Victorian magazine Punch as little more than a "foul sludge and foetid stream."

"Canada's cold climate may protect Great Lakes from invading fish species" - "OTTAWA - A new scientific study suggests Canada may be just too cold for Asian grass carp to invade the Great Lakes, undermining warnings the exotic fish are poised to cause an ecological catastrophe.

"Historical patterns of invasion suggest this species is at the northern limit of its ability to invade and is unlikely to become very abundant," says a draft version of a report prepared for the federal Fisheries Department.

"From this analysis it appears that it is unlikely for grass carp to set up self-sustaining populations based on the environment of the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence River." (Canadian Press)

"Nations Collaborate to Take Planet's 'Pulse'" - "Seventeen federal agencies are about to take a step toward wiring the world -- and taking its pulse, temperature and blood pressure on a round-the-clock basis." (Washington Post)

"Sweltering Tokyo tries to go green" - "Cast your gaze in the right direction and you could be standing in the middle of a rice paddy or a rose garden. But glance upwards and the idyll is shattered. This is not a horticultural show, but a tiny oasis of verdant calm in central Tokyo.

In a country where the cement never sets, high-rise building developments are turning Tokyo into a mass of overheating concrete. The buildings - and the hot air spewed out by the air conditioners used to cool them - are exposing Tokyo's millions of gasping citizens to ever higher temperatures. The city centre, according to meteorological data, has never been hotter. On Tuesday, the temperature soared to a record 39.5C (103F), sending 48 people to hospital with heatstroke." (The Guardian)

"Digging for Answers to Climate Change" - "EU scientists working on the research project PROMESS1 have dug deep into the earth below the Mediterranean in the hope that the pre-historic sediment cores they've collected will offer new insight into climate change." (Deutsche Welle)

UK Weather Forecast for the Week Beginning the 26th July... (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Global warming potshots - Kyoto Protocol prompts testy war of words" - "OTTAWA—When the new environment minister, Stéphane Dion, received his introductory briefing to the climate change file this week, he could be excused for wondering if the inmates had taken over the asylum.

Never in the past year has the climate change debate been as confused, chaotic and, yes, downright crazy as right now. The upheaval is on three fronts: international, national and internal.

On the international front, the Russians invited the British to Moscow this month for a serious scientific forum about climate change and about the proposed Kyoto Protocol to limit emissions of greenhouse gases. Instead, the gathering disintegrated into something close to a pub brawl, with the Russians accusing the British of "bribes, blackmail and murder threats" and the British replying that the Russians had allowed Kyoto opponents to "hijack" the meeting." (Toronto Star)

"Sir David King’s Queenie Fit" - "The scene was a scientific workshop set up to discuss the science of global warming. It took place in a non-Western country and was convened by the country's Academy of Sciences. Delegates came from all over the world. Yet the delegation from one major Western power behaved in a most undiplomatic fashion. The way the science was being presented was inconvenient to their political agenda, so they tried to get the scientists they disagreed with silenced. The organizers refused, so the delegation went to its government to exert political pressure. The organizers still refused, so the delegation disrupted the conference. When it became apparent they weren't going to get their way, they walked out." (Iain Murray, NRO)

"Dem platform backs off Kyoto accords" - "Party platforms seldom make inspiring reading. But they are not entirely without meaning, outlining as they do a general course of direction aimed at appealing to the faithful without offending the broad middle of voters needed to win elections. And sometimes you can tell a lot by the dogs that don’t bark." (Thomas Bray, The Detroit News)

"The states' activist lawyers: Judges aren't the only ones usurping legislative powers" - "There's much debate these days about "activist judges" handing down rulings that make law instead of interpreting it, thus appropriating the legislative function.

If that can be said for some of the nation's judges, it certainly can be said of the eight state attorneys general (including Iowa's) who recently filed a lawsuit against five giant utilities. The lawsuit contends that the utilities are the nation's largest emitters of carbon dioxide.

Global warming is the only concern the plaintiffs cite in their complaint. Fascinatingly, none of the five utility companies being sued is situated in the states that are suing. Rather, the attorneys general maintain that they want to get the courts to do what they contend the Environmental Protection Agency and Congress have failed to do: Force reductions in gases that some scientists link with global warming." (Omaha World-Herald)

"Peru's Snowy Peaks May Vanish as Planet Heat Up" - "LIMA, Peru - The snow atop Pastoruri, one of the Andes most beautiful peaks and a big draw for mountaineers and skiers, could disappear along with many of Peru's glaciers in the next several years because of global warming, experts say." (Reuters)

"African Plants Grow as Dutch Environment Warms" - "AMSTERDAM - Changes in the Dutch climate in recent years because of global warming have meant dozens of plant types normally found in warmer areas are now growing wild in the country, according on one study." (Reuters)

"Catching Up to the Cost of Global Warming" - "DETROIT - ONE does not often hear financial analysts talk about climate change, but this month John A. Casesa, an analyst at Merrill Lynch, organized a teleconference to address a troubling question for Detroit's automakers: As regulators around the world move to curb global-warming emissions from cars and improve fuel efficiency, what happens if Wall Street adds up the costs?

The most likely answer will not make General Motors and Ford Motor very happy. Mr. Casesa's call included a presentation by the World Resources Institute, an environmental policy group in Washington, which recently issued a report on the subject with Sustainable Asset Management, an investment group based in Zurich.

The report forecasts that G.M. and Ford stand to lose the most, financially, of any automakers in complying with regulations that the groups expect the United States, Europe and Japan to adopt over the next decade - rules in addition to the pollution controls put in place over the last half-century." (New York Times)

"Commission Emissions" - "Anyone concerned about the future of freedom and wealth in Europe should worry anytime Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström opens her mouth.

On Wednesday 7 July, the European Commission approved five national plans for trading emissions for energy-intensive industrial plants. Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Slovenia, and Sweden can now enjoy the not-so-enviable status of the most advanced countries heading towards economic suicide. Plans are in the works for Austria, Great Britain and Germany to join them.

"The decision," said Wallström, "shows that we are serious about our climate change policy and that we can start the emission trading the first of January next year, as planned." (Carlo Stagnaro, TCS)

"Forget The Threat Of Terrorism. China Is About To Flick The Switch On A Global Energy Crisis And A Time Bomb That Will Bring Massive Destruction Worldwide" - "SWITCH on a light in your home. Any light. Then list the other uses of domestic electricity. Fridge, freezer, washing machine, tumble drier, vacuum cleaner, computer, DVD player, TV and video, mobile phone chargers, toaster … And that’s just for starters.

Now think of China. At present, this vast nation of 1.3 billion inhabitants – and rising – is using the equivalent of one 100-watt lightbulb per head, per year. But its population is developing an insatiable appetite for consumer goods.

Forget global terrorism. One of the scariest stories today is how the Chinese are going to meet their energy demands over the next 20 years. While Scotland fumbles with issues of wind farms blighting the landscape, we should wake up to the potential energy horror story that will impact on everyone.

No matter how many wind turbines Scotland uses, it is going to have an infinitesimal impact on the global environment compared with the coal-fired power stations being built all over China." (Kenny Kemp, Sunday Herald)

"World creeping closer to `oil shock'" - "Are we running out of oil? Are we in danger of another energy crisis of the magnitude of the 1970s "oil shocks" that condemned us to a decade of economic stagnation? And with our desultory regard for conservation and alternative energy sources, are we risking ever greater oil dependence on the volatile Middle East?" (Toronto Star)

"Fill 'er up with ... coal? Coal-to-diesel plant closer to reality" - "GILBERTON, Pa. - Cars running on coal? It could happen in this country - some day.

John Rich Jr., whose family has worked the anthracite coal seams of eastern Pennsylvania for a century, plans to turn a $100 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy into the nation's first commercial plant converting waste coal, or culm, into low-emissions diesel fuel.

Updating a technology first developed by German scientists in the 1920s, the $612 million plant would produce 5,000 barrels of diesel a day, eliminate hundreds of unsightly culm banks, and provide jobs in a region that sorely needs them. If it succeeds, plants could spring up in West Virginia, Illinois and Kentucky." (Associated Press)

?!! "Scientists support Prince on nanotech" - "Tough new rules must be brought in to guard against dangers to health and the environment from nanotechnology, Britain's top scientific and engineering bodies will conclude this week.

A weighty new joint report by the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering will also urge ministers and scientists to adopt a much more open approach to the public over the technology than it has over GM.

The report, to be published on Thursday, marks an abrupt change of attitude by the Royal Society, which has been one of the principal cheerleaders for genetically modified crops and foods, and demonstrates how severely the scientific establishment has been shaken by successful public resistance to them." (Independent on Sunday)

"Growing new breed of vaccine-producing plants to fight human diseases worldwide" - "At his presentation at the annual meeting of the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) here July 24, 2004, Arizona State University Professor Charles J. Arntzen explained the newest advances in his research on plant-producing vaccines to fight human afflictions such as cholera, Norwalk Virus and hepatitis B." (American Society of Plant Biologists)

"Bt Cotton Creates Three Times the Earnings for Indian Farmer" - "Biotech crop could boost living standards for millions." (Council for Biotechnology Information)

"Green vigilantes vow to mow down GM crops in France" - "VERDUN-SUR-GARONNE, France - A group of self-styled Green vigilantes said they planned to hold a "Mowing day" on Sunday and deal a deathblow to tests of crops of bio-engineered food crops in France.

Led by Jose Bove, the French farmers union activist who shot to prominence after he helped demolish a partially built McDonald's in 1999 to protest US trade policy, the "Mowing Brigade" as the vigilantes call themselves said Saturday they were angry the government approved tests of genetically modified (GM) food crops despite clear public sentiment against them." (AFP)

"Protesters destroy French GM crop" - "Hundreds of protesters have destroyed a field of genetically modified maize in south-west France." (BBC News Online)

"GM protest reignites in France" - "France's most notorious anti-GM campaigner, José Bové, and up to 1,500 protesters tore up a field of experimental maize yesterday, launching a new wave of action against trials of transgenic corn. Mr Bové risks returning to prison for up to five years, just a year after his last stretch, and could face a €75,000 (£50,000) fine." (The Guardian)

"FDA Says Monsanto Biotech Wheat Safe for Consumers" - "WASHINGTON - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has determined that genetically modified wheat made by Monsanto Co. was safe for human and livestock consumption, an agency spokesman said." (Reuters)

July 23, 2004

"Chesapeake Bay Needs Science, Not Slogans" - "Progress on reducing the pollution flowing into the Chesapeake Bay, North America's largest estuary, has been "significantly overstated," The Washington Post hyperventilated in a front-page story this week." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Malaria, Still a Burden in Africa - Report" - "The only way to get infected by malaria is through mosquito bite. This happen mostly in the night when mothers and children are in bed.

According to the Country Coordinator, NetMark Africa, Dr. Ifeanyi Ibe the impact of malaria has been endemic throughout Nigeria with more than 90 per cent of the population, living in constant risk of infection.

The disease burden, he added, falls on children below that age of five and pregnant women." (This Day)

"Death By Mosquito" - "Malaria, like AIDS, is killing millions. But unlike AIDS, it can be cured. Why isn't that happening?" (Christine Gorman, Time)

"Canada's Mosquito Capital Swats at Activists" - "WINNIPEG, Manitoba - Protesters who caused a three-day break in chemical fogging for mosquitoes in the Canadian Prairie city of Winnipeg have been stung by the wrath of neighbors who want relief from the biting insects." (Reuters)

Today's meaching: "Cancer study move angers Meacher" - "A former environment minister has attacked the decision to call off a major study into the rates of cancer near a former nuclear power station." (BBC News Online)

"Pesticide Treaty Under A Cloud Of Doubt" - "WASHINGTON -- A Bush administration plan that permits farmers to use a toxic pesticide past a 2005 deadline has not satisfied powerful U.S. agricultural interests and has raised a storm of protest among environmentalists.

Under an international treaty, use of the pesticide methyl bromide was to end in the United States next year. But the administration already has negotiated one extension for 2005 and is seeking another for 2006.

Farm organizations and some members of Congress believe the administration has not gone far enough to protect the economic interests of American agriculture. Some suggest the United States should withdraw from the treaty." (The Hartford Courant) | House GOPs Want Out of Pesticide Treaty (Associated Press)


"Medicare Help Obesity? Fat Chance" - "Since I'm the author of the first book warning of America's disastrously growing weight problem and have helped popularize the term "obesity epidemic," you probably think I support Medicare's decision to essentially classify obesity as a disease so that it can spend money on treatments. Well, you're probably wrong." (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

"The consequences of treating obesity as a disease" - "This month's decision by the Medicare program to begin paying for obesity treatments has prompted complaints that the government is forcing thin people to subsidize fat people. But the winners and losers from this policy shift are not as obvious as they might seem." (Jacob Sullum, Creators Syndicate)

"How Could the Consensus of Experts Be Wrong?" - "For many people -- even scientists -- it is easier to accept authority rather than labor to overturn an attractive idea, even though it is contradicted by unassailable experimental results. But those who make scientific discoveries reject ideas not grounded in experimental facts." (Sallie Baliunas, TCS)

"NASA goes to the 'SORCE' of Earth sun-blockers" - "Scientists using measurements from NASA's Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) satellite have discovered that Venus and sunspots have something in common: they both block some of the sun's energy going to Earth." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office)

Wow! "Could Malaria return to Britain?" - "OSLO - Malaria-carrying mosquitoes were once a scourge of Shakespeare's England and even Arctic regions of the Soviet Union.

With malaria's history of surviving in the cold, experts are at odds about how far modern global warming may spread one of the planet's most deadly diseases which kills a million people a year in poor countries.

U.N. reports say rising temperatures linked to human burning of fossil fuels are likely to widen malaria's range in the tropics because mosquitoes and the parasite they pass on when sucking human blood thrive best in hot, wet climates.

But some insect experts swat those reports as simplistic." (Reuters)

It's been a very slow process, but news organisations are finally publishing some realistic items rather than stock "global warming" scare pieces. Truly gladdens the heart doesn't it?

!! "Rapid Asian development exacerbating floods: analysts" - "HONG KONG Jul 22, 2004 -- As floods ravage Asia in what experts say are, in some cases, the worst in memory, analysts have warned such calamities are likely to increase with rapid economic development in the region.

While rain levels have remained pretty steady for the past few years, changes in land use, especially deforestation and urbanisation, that go hand in hand with economic growth have led to worse flooding, they say." (AFP)

"Hot Under the Collar" - "Attorneys Generals Sue, Yet Their States Aren’t Warming" (Christopher Horner, Frontiers of Freedom)

"Truly a 'Nuisance Suit'" - "Thank you, Eliot Spitzer of New York.

Thank you and your crew of fellow state attorneys general from Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, California, New Jersey, Iowa and Wisconsin, plus the office of New York Mayor Michael Blumenthal. Thank you all for filing your absurd lawsuit against five energy companies for their emissions of carbon dioxide.

It isn't a matter of agreeing with your lawsuits' premise, or anything like it, that leads to this gratitude. The suit is scientifically flawed and legally spurious, which is a good thing because it would have economically disastrous consequences if it had any real chance at success.

No. The thanks is for demonstrating for all to see how foolish Congress and the federal government would be to ever give power-grabbing state AGs real grounds for a lawsuit by passing any legislation capping CO2 emissions. Setting emissions caps would do nothing to help global climate, but do great damage to this nation's economy and its wherewithal to withstand the heat, snow, cold, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and earthquakes, all the calamities this planet is heir to." (Duane D. Freese, TCS)

Even believers know this is wrong: "A mighty important nuisance" - "Three years ago the United States Senate voted 95-0 to reject the Kyoto Treaty, which would require industrialized nations to limit emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming. While there were numerous reasons for the lopsided vote, chief among them was the fear that compliance would wreck the American economy.

That is a useful reference point when considering the lawsuit filed Wednesday against Cinergy Corp. and four other utilities by New York City and attorneys general in eight states.

The suit is a novel attempt to use federal public nuisance laws to force the utilities to establish a binding timetable for lowering their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Limiting greenhouse gas emissions is indeed a worthy goal. And normally we're fans of New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer's bulldog approach to corporate sin. But this is reaching way beyond enforcement of the law. This would put the courts and a handful of state legal beagles in the business of writing ad-hoc -- and enormously expensive -- environmental regulations that would apply to one slice of one industry." (The Kentucky Post)

Some improvement at Nature? "Greenhouse 'polluters' taken to court" - "Top US lawyers filed a lawsuit yesterday against five major power companies, demanding cuts in emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. But experts are unsure whether the tactic will work to slow global warming." (Nature)

Well, well... Nature correctly placed the term "polluter" in quotes because CO2 is not an atmospheric pollutant.

perhaps not... "Climate change affects deep sea life" - "The abyss reacts to El Niño as quickly as surface ecosystems do." (Nature)

"France U-turn on car pollution tax" - "PARIS, July 22 - France on Thursday announced a scheme for trimming emissions of greenhouse gases but mothballed a proposal to slap taxes on big polluting cars after it ran into fire from conservative politicians and carmakers." (AFP)

"Dream of wind power flags" - "LONDON -- Is Britain about to reverse its policy on civil nuclear power? Could the British policymakers be reluctantly coming to accept that while the official energy policy is to keep only one nuclear power station going after 2020 it may in practice be necessary to build some more in order to ensure reliable electricity supplies and keep pace with ever-growing demand?

The prospect makes the architects of current policy profoundly unhappy. They had quite a different dream. It was to reduce carbon dioxide emissions drastically not by going back to nuclear power, clean though it is, but by dramatic increases in alternative energy sources, notably wind power.

Backed by green enthusiasts and opponents of nuclear power, the government has encouraged the erection of wind mills both on land and offshore around Britain, the theory being that the plentiful and frequent winds that blow round the British Isles will fill the generating gap and keep the lights on and the factories humming." (David Howell, Japan Times)

"'Cool' fuel cells could revolutionize Earth's energy resources" - "Researchers at the University of Houston are striving toward decreasing electric bills with a breakthrough in thin film solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) that is currently being refined in UH labs. Originating from research at UH's Texas Center for Superconductivity and Advanced Materials, these SOFCs of the "thin film" variety are both efficient and compact and could make cumbersome power plants virtually obsolete." (University of Houston)

"Lacking energy" - "Britain produces comparatively little renewable power - while the global market for it is growing, writes Mark Tran" (The Guardian)

"A Real Development Agenda" - "This year's version of the United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Report has just been published, ranking the countries of the world according to a Human Development Index (HDI). As in many other welfare comparisons among countries, Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia rank high. And as every year, we will hear people argue two points: (1) that high taxes produce the best welfare in the world and (2) that growth is not that important for the well-being of ordinary people. However, there are serious objections to be made as regards both these conclusions." (Fredrik Segerfeldt and Fabian Wallen, TCS)

"The virtuous virus" - "Viruses can be vile, that much everyone knows. But scientists are finding that the wily creatures can stop cancer in its tracks. Aparna Surendran reports." (Nature)

"When Goliath Is in the Right" - "Percy Schmeiser is the consummate little guy. A no-nonsense 73-year-old farmer from Saskatchewan, Canada, he captured the hearts of environmentalists and headline writers everywhere when colossal agrochemical company Monsanto sued him for growing its genetically modified herbicide resistant canola without the company’s permission. And he’s gotten little but fawning press ever since. (Marni Soupcoff, The American Enterprise)

"A Revolution To Save Lives" - "With global attention so recently focused on the international AIDS conference in Thailand, it’s easy to forget that malnutrition is an even bigger problem in many parts of the developing world--and one that’s made even worse by the scourge of AIDS.

Consider the case of Africa, where an estimated 28.5 million people are HIV-positive. Undernourishment is the continent’s most significant health problem, and it’s been made worse by the fact that AIDS has killed some 7 million African farmers. Growing enough food to meet everybody’s need would have been a big enough challenge before these deaths. It’s much more difficult in their aftermath.

The good news is that biotechnology offers solutions to the twin challenges of food and AIDS--and that many leaders are starting to see the connection." (Dean Kleckner, Truth About Trade & Technology)

"Ban on biotech crops sought" - "Environmental groups Wednesday called for a statewide ban of genetically engineered crops designed to produce pharmaceuticals, saying they pose too many risks for food safety and the environment." (Contra Costa Times)

"Plant respiration not just an evolutionary leftover, study shows" - "A biological process in plants, thought to be useless and even wasteful, has significant benefits and should not be engineered out -- particularly in the face of looming climate change, says a team of UC Davis researchers. The researchers have found that the process, photorespiration, is necessary for healthy plant growth and if impaired could inhibit plant growth, particularly as global atmospheric carbon dioxide rises." (University of California - Davis)

July 22, 2004

"Malarial mosquito: Is Anopheles gambiae plotting an escape?" - "ROME Serious tropical diseases - malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever, encephalitis, filariasis, etc. - are generally transmitted by insects. Not all species of insects that bite humans have the same efficiency in transmitting these diseases. So the distribution of species that are the most efficient transmitters - "vectors" - of these diseases is of great concern.

We believe there is a potentially explosive situation in the expanding distribution of a highly dangerous complex of mosquitoes. Understanding this will hopefully alert public health officials to the threat.

From a public health perspective, mosquitoes in the Anopheles gambiae complex in sub-Saharan Africa are the most important insect group in existence today. It is the major vector of malaria in this region.

While precise numbers are hard to come by, there are approximately 400 million cases of malaria annually resulting in an estimated one to three million deaths, mostly among young children." (Jeffrey R. Powell and Mario Coluzzi, IHT)

"There is a drug that works against malaria" - "LUSAKA, Zambia Malaria kills an African child every 30 seconds. Yet unlike AIDS, it has a cure that is quick and effective, and costs less than $2.80 per dose.

Without donor assistance, however, African governments cannot afford to purchase sufficient quantities of the new malaria treatment, which Zambia's minister of health calls a "miracle drug." The result: Thousands of Africans, primarily young children, will die a needless death this year.

What is this drug? ACT, or artemisinin-combination therapy, is based on derivatives of artemesia, a 2000-year old Chinese plant, and it is modern medicine's best answer to skyrocketing rates of resistance to classic antimalarial drugs such as chloroquine.

According to Doctors Without Borders, drug resistance to chloroquine tops 80 percent in some areas, rendering it and other monotherapy drugs "virtually useless" in many African nations." (Cynthia Scharf, IHT)

"Nature mimics industry" - "Human made chemical compounds called organohalogens get loads of attention as they are best known for their often harmful effect on the environment – substances like the CFCs (the ozone-damaging chemicals), dioxin (found in the herbicide Agent Orange), PCBs (industrial fluids) and several pesticides. Their naturally occurring cousins, however, don't get the recognition they deserve, according to Dartmouth Chemistry Professor Gordon Gribble." (Dartmouth College)

Gribble maintains Euro Chlor's 'Natural Organohalogens' pages - Update 18 (PDF) contains:

This Updates describes 115 new natural organohalogens, bringing the total number to 3800. Thus, the current breakdown of such naturally produced chemicals reported in the literature to date is as follows:
Organochlorine: 2215
Organobromine: 1951
Organoiodine: 104
Organofluorine: 29

Looks more like industry mimics nature.

"Scientists raise health fears over sun cream" - "Swiss researchers are warning that some chemical ultraviolet (UV) filters in sunscreen could damage human reproduction. They say certain substances are thought to act like female sexual hormones and that they could be absorbed into the body." (swissinfo)

"Some caulking may be linked to cancer, Harvard study finds" - "The rubbery caulking around windows in schools, dormitories, and hospitals may be a serious but unrecognized source of PCB contamination, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health announced yesterday.

The researchers looked at caulking in 24 buildings in Greater Boston and found that eight of them had enough PCBs -- a possible carcinogen -- to warrant specialized disposal under federal rules. Though they did not test the surrounding environment, other scientists have found links between contaminated caulk and PCBs in dust and soil." (Boston Globe)

"Oh, Deer! Real v Hypothetical Risks" - "This past weekend -- a few days after ACSH's annual staff party at the beach -- I took a car service back to New York. It was relatively early Sunday morning, but the Garden State Parkway was packed -- although traffic was moving. We were not on the parkway more than thirty minutes when I saw an alarming site: three deer feeding on the grass, inching closer to the highway, apparently ready to sprint into moving traffic. Over the years, we have seen deer on the parkway before -- but never in a cluster, and never so close to moving cars." (Elizabeth M. Whelan, ACSH)

"Army may help Oxford animal lab" - "The Army could be brought in to help Oxford University finish work on a controversial animal testing centre. Building contractor Walter Lilly & Co pulled out of the £18m project on Monday, after a number of high-profile protests by animal rights activists." (BBC News Online)

"What's so special about Oxford's animal lab?" - "Nothing. The work it would do is the same as that already being performed at the university. The lab, whose main contractor, Walter Lilly, pulled out this week amid pressure from anti-vivisection groups, is supposed to bring together nearly all the animal research going on in Oxford's numerous departments." (The Guardian)

"New environmental cops: state attorneys general" - "NEW YORK – State attorneys general are known best for throwing mobsters in jail and trying to protect consumers from things like false advertising and Medicare fraud. But now an increasing number are taking an activist role well outside their state boundaries - challenging federal agencies, treading novel legal waters, and suing everyone from pharmaceutical companies to mutual funds." (The Christian Science Monitor)

I believe CSM should have gone with: "More environmental thugs: state attorneys general" - some of them are developing into the worst of anti-business activists.

Bad title of the day: "Sun's rays stronger than thought" - "People outdoors are exposed to higher levels of the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays than previously thought, a study shows." (BBC News Online)

Actually, this has nothing to do with variation of solar intensity and everything to do with the shape of people. Significance? Low. Sunbathing people tend to lie on the beach (or wherever) and act as horizontal collector plates - same way UV intensity is frequently measured.

"Mediterranean sun seekers should thank Antarctica" - "Europeans who enjoy sunning themselves on the shores of the Mediterranean should thank Antarctica for their good fortune. If it weren't for Antarctic events 30 million years ago, sunbaking would be a much chillier affair. Climate modelling by Australian scientists at the University of New South Wales reveals that Antarctica's icy sea currents allow the balmy Gulf Stream to dictate warm weather conditions over much of the North Atlantic." (University of New South Wales)

"Ship-sinking monster waves revealed by ESA satellites" - "Once dismissed as a nautical myth, freakish ocean waves that rise as tall as ten-storey apartment blocks have been accepted as a leading cause of large ship sinkings. Results from ESA's ERS satellites helped establish the widespread existence of these 'rogue' waves and are now being used to study their origins." (European Space Agency)

Redefining... reality? "Groundbreaking Study on the Impact of Climate Change: Unequal Burden on African Americans" - "(Washington, DC) The Center for Policy Analysis and Research (CPAR), the policy arm of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc., (CBCF) released its study this morning, containing startling new information on the impact of climate change on the African American community. The study, commissioned by CPAR, and conducted by the Oakland, CA research firm Redefining Progress, forecasts a difference in the impact of climate change on people of various socioeconomic and racial groups." (Redefining Progress)

Oh my! Check out these statements:

"We are long past the point where global warming is considered a myth.

Unequivocal statement, although we are not told who "we" are (but might surmise "we" are not talking "beneficial warming relative to the Little Ice Age" [definitely not mythical] but rather "catastrophic, planet-cooking, man-made global warming" [apparently mythical]).

We are seeing its effects all around us, especially in my hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana...

Again, no equivocation, must be able to point to proliferation of said effects "we can see"

... which is expected to experience an increased incidence of flooding that could potentially destabilize its economy and endangers its populace." said Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) Chair of the CBCF.

Huh? Expected to? Could potentially? You mean... we can't currently see the effects, or can do so - only in imagination?

Let's see... what's that word describing "A person or thing existing only in imagination, or whose actual existence is not verifiable" or "A fiction or half-truth, especially one that forms part of an ideology"? I believe "myth" fits the bill rather nicely.

Is the planet collapsing? "Rock falls a higher risk as climate warms" - "MANY of the world’s most spectacular high-mountain rock faces could start crashing down at alarming rates due to global warming, scientists are predicting. As well as changing the very shape and appearance of classic mountains, some of the climbs themselves could also disappear as higher temperatures destabilise the rocks by thawing the permafrost beneath them. In Europe, concerns about disintegrating rock faces were brought into sharp focus last year when at least 50 people died in the Alps as a result of collapsing escarpments." (The Scotsman)

No, actually, the 'Global warming' theory is collapsing all around us... (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Illarionov Has a Good Point on Kyoto" - "With each passing day, information about the plans of President Vladimir Putin and the government becomes scarcer. In the West, the almost-forgotten discipline of Kremlinology -- divining the contents of the president's next decree based on the running order of the evening news -- is enjoying a revival.

In this context, the efforts of a high-ranking official to raise public interest in an issue of importance to Russia appear genuinely out of the ordinary. And the fact that he is pitted against European Union officials who are trying to keep things under wraps makes it all the more remarkable.

The official's name is Andrei Illarionov, Putin's economic adviser, and the issue facing Russia is whether or not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. With the United States refusing to ratify the protocol, Russia has the deciding vote: Without us, the international treaty limiting greenhouse gas emissions will not come into force." (The Moscow Times)

"The Data Weigh In" - "Every climate model that is run with increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases produces some degree of warming at earth’s surface and even greater warming above the surface, especially in the atmospheric layer between 5,000 to 30,000 feet in altitude (the troposphere). Models calculate this warming to be especially strong in the tropical half of the planet and weaker in a very small region around both poles. Observations of real world temperature trends in the lower atmosphere don’t confirm these model results and instead show that, generally, warming trends decline with altitude." (GES)

"U.S. Chamber Calls Global Warming Lawsuit an End-Run Around Congress and Regulatory Agencies" - "WASHINGTON--July 21, 2004--The United States Chamber of Commerce condemned a complaint filed today in federal district court by several state attorneys general and the New York City Office of Corporation Counsel and called the action an attempt to circumvent Congress and federal and state regulatory agencies in setting U.S. policy.

"This is a blatant 'end-run' around the Congress and federal and state regulatory agencies," said Thomas Donohue, Chamber President and CEO. "Our country's energy and environmental policies should be made by elected officials, not lawyers and judges in a courtroom." (Business Wire)

"Editorial: Politics drives lawsuit over emissions" - "Looks like Wisconsin attorney general Peg Lautenschlager and her pals watched "The Day After Tomorrow" one too many times." (Wisconsin State Journal)

Hmm... "Touching the void" - "As the human population explodes, other species are running out of food and space. But, Tim Radford reports, it was never supposed to be that way" (The Guardian)

At face value, this one's for those who view pathogens, bugs, crop pests etc. as "fellow travellers" rather than competitors. Tim Radford makes the case that we humans are "taking more than our share." Fair enough, if that's your thing.

There is, however, an important statement on how humans are managing to compete so successfully and yet are not actually purloining 40% of global primary productivity (if we were there'd be no forests, although rainforests cover roughly as much ice-free land as humans utilize for agriculture). It's true that there's a large human biomass - lesser only than bacteria and insects, possibly (not contemplating plant life here). And the magic ingredient that allows us to prosper without wiping out all competitor species? Fossil fuel, of course! If we did not tap reserves of solar energy trapped on Earth in the past then we would need to capture a much larger proportion of current production (conversion of solar energy by green plants, basically).

So, until we manage to develop useful alternative energy technologies, we are left with the choice of intensive utilization of fossil fuels, nuclear and hydropower or eliminating a large percentage of our own species or eliminating all other competing species (going "solar" is still an extermination of competitor option because we'd need to shade non-agricultural regions with collectors to capture that energy directly).

Think about the conservation value of fossil fuels next time the nice people come around soliciting donations and support for campaigns to inhibit fossil fuel use. Ask them whether they intend to kill off lots of people (and which ones) or whether it's all the wildlife that has to go.

Tragically: "Victory: shale oil project collapses" - "In a world which holds more oil than we can safely burn, why would anyone try to squeeze more out of rocks? And in a world threatened by climate change, why would anyone make a bad fossil fuel even WORSE for the environment by using tremendous amounts of energy to crush the rock and heat it to 500 degrees Celsius, while rotating it in a giant kiln? Only a complete idiot -- or Queensland Energy Resources (QER) of Australia -- would try such a thing." (Greenpeace press release)

"Eye On Organics" - "Two-photon excitation microscopy (TPEM), a fluorescence technique commonly used to image cell and tissue samples of plants and animals, has been used for the first time to visualize how organic compounds from pesticides or air pollution migrate through the cellular structure of living plants. The researchers who developed the novel application believe that it could help improve the design and use of pesticides, track the migration of chemicals from packaging into food, and design new strategies for bioremediation of contaminated soil." (Chemical & Engineering News)

July 21, 2004

"Fund needed to fight malaria with drugs - report" - "WASHINGTON - International organizations and world leaders need to spend up to $500 million a year to distribute antimalarial drug cocktails to poor countries, a panel of experts said on Tuesday. They recommend a combination based on artemisinin, a compound derived from a Chinese herbal remedy, to overcome the fast-spreading form of malaria parasites that resist the standard drug treatment chloroquine. If such a cocktail is sent throughout malaria-affected areas at the same time, it could save many of the 1 million children who die every year from malaria in Africa alone, the Institute of Medicine panel said. If not, the malaria mortality rate in Africa and Asia could double in a few decades, the expert committee said." (Reuters)

"Calls for new laws to fight animal rights terror are rejected" - "Scientists were warned last night there would be no fresh legislation to tackle animal rights extremists as a second contractor pulled out of a troubled project to build a biomedical research centre at Oxford University. The developments will spread further alarm among researchers who use animals in the quest for cures to conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and leukaemia." (Independent)

"Aging population, longer survival with disease magnify heart failure 'epidemic'" - "Heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalization among persons 65 and older, and admissions for its symptoms have increased by 155 percent over the last 20 years. This raises concerns about an epidemic that involves more new cases of heart failure. But improved survival with heart failure, not an increase in disease rates, is responsible for this epidemic of hospital admissions, according to findings of a Mayo Clinic study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association." (Mayo Clinic) | Heart failure incidence remains stable; survival increases (JAMA)

"Call for freely available science" - "Current models for publishing science are "unsatisfactory", according to a report issued by the House of Commons' Science and Technology Committee. The report says the government has failed to act on the issue "in a coherent manner", and calls for radical changes in the publishing process. It wants publicly funded research to be made freely available online by means of archived digital information banks." (BBC News Online)

"In a lather over antibacterial products" - "More and more products tout this benefit, but there is little actual science behind it." (Newsday)

"A coffee can make you forgetful" - "A cup of coffee each morning may wake you up, but a new study suggests caffeine might hinder your short-term recall of certain words. Caffeine made it harder for people to find a word that they already knew - the "tip-of-the-tongue" phenomenon. Valerie Lesk, of the International School for Advanced Studies in Italy, believes caffeine improves alertness by shutting down other brain pathways. This makes it harder to recall words, she says in Behavioural Psychology." (BBC News Online)

Say what? "What's the damage?" - "Legislation out today means that government at national and local level must properly assess the impact of new plans on the environment. Paul Hamblin hopes that it will signal an end to the green lobby always losing out to economic factors" (The Guardian)

Well, there's a difference in perceptions! Paul Hamblin thinks (or at least, alleges) the green lobby loses to economic factors - would that were true, even some of the time.

My perception is that the great green juggernaut has swept aside virtually all reason, let alone economic factors, for the last 3-4 decades. Just try to get a reasonable cost-benefit analysis of green proposals - never happens. What we do get are bizarre, pretend analyses, formed along the lines of population P unaffected persons (Pup), usually found in some distant and relatively wealthy region, would pay hypothetical cost Y (hY), so, by simple multiplication, we get whatever PuphY number is considered necessary to override real cost concerns.

Those not sure how PuphY numbers work should look up the EPA's effort on banning CFCs under the first Bush Administration - $100billion in direct costs look nothing when compared with an alleged $32trillion health benefit, eh? Though there's a slight problem when you then try to claim that virtually no benefit exists for different regulatory purposes. To help you in your research, here's how Ben Lieberman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute wrote it up in EPA’s $32 Trillion Negligible Risk (PDF).

"The Dénouement Is Imminent" - "Time is running out to beat about the bush. The man-made global warming paradigm is about to collapse. In its wake the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) process will have to change tack. In the mean time, the Kyoto Treaty seems to be moribund." (Hans Labohm, TCS)

"Climate policy beyond 2012" - "A new report from CICERO is based on a comprehensive and structured literature review of key issues associated with long-term goals for climate policy, and to the framework for implementing climate policy.

The study provides a basis for working with global climate policy after 2012, whether the Kyoto Protocol enters into force or not. The main challenges are to achieve broader participation in future climate agreements than has been the case with the Kyoto Protocol, especially with respect to the USA and developing countries, and to achieve deep emissions reductions to prevent human-induced climate change from getting out of control." (Center for International Climate and Environmental Research)

"8 States, NYC to Sue Power Companies" - "ALBANY, N.Y. - Eight states and New York City intend to sue five of the country's largest power producers to demand they cut carbon dioxide emissions, which are believed to be linked to global warming. (Associated Press)

As I recall, the only real test Kyoto had in the Senate, it went down 95:0. By what right are states and cities trying to litigate it into being?

"Job Advocacy Group Applauds the DNC for Opposing the Kyoto Protocol; Calls for U.S. Senate to Reject Domestic Version" - "WASHINGTON, July 20 -- Today United for Jobs (UFJ) applauded the Democratic Party for dropping their endorsement of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming in the party's 2004 platform, and called on the U.S. Senate to reject a domestic version of Kyoto proposed by Senators McCain and Lieberman." (PRNewswire)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"Do Elevated Atmospheric CO 2 Concentrations Enhance or Reduce the Amount of Vegetation Consumed by Herbivores?" - "Most limited-species studies that have addressed this question have predicted increases in both relative and absolute herbivory in a CO 2 -enriched world of the future, which is music to the ears of climate alarmists and other like-minded opponents of higher-than-current concentrations of atmospheric CO 2 .  However, the few real-world ecosystem studies that have included full complements of naturally-occurring plant and insect species reveal something quite different." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Arctic Temperature Trends" - "Knowledge of past climate variability in the Arctic demonstrates there is nothing unusual about the current climate there, further demonstrating that nothing happening there today is indicative of CO 2 -induced global warming." (co2science.org)

"Methane (Agricultural Emissions)" - "We outline some ways in which agriculture may be manipulated, both overtly and more obtusely, to slow the historical rate-of-rise of the atmosphere's methane concentration by reducing methane emissions associated with various agricultural enterprises." (co2science.org)

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: Black Spruce, Jack Pine, Peach and Yellow Birch." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"Recent Dramatic Growth of Urban Heat Islands in China" - "What can we learn from this phenomenon about the world's temperature history over the past quarter-century?" (co2science.org)

"A 110-Year History of Heavy Precipitation in Tokyo, Japan" - "What can it tell us about the temperature history of the planet?" (co2science.org)

"A New Temperature Trend of the Lower Troposphere Derived from Reanalysis Data" - " How does it compare with the lower tropospheric temperature trend derived from the satellite Microwave Sounding Unit data that have been analyzed by Christy et al.?" (co2science.org)

"Effects of Elevated CO 2 and Heat Stress on the Grain Quality of Winter Wheat" - "Are rising temperatures and atmospheric CO 2 concentrations detrimental to the quality of flour produced from winter wheat?" (co2science.org)

"Bleached Corals: Grasping Victory from the Jaws of Death?" - "Are earth's coral reefs doomed to be soon assigned to the ash heap of history as a consequence of global warming-induced bleaching?  Or do they possess a trick or two we have yet to thoroughly investigate that may prove their staying power?" (co2science.org)

"Local fears flare over natural gas projects" - "When ExxonMobil and Cheniere Energy proposed terminals in Mobile, Alabama, to import much needed liquefied natural gas into the US, the community balked at the risks an accident or terrorist attack might pose.

ConocoPhillips then proposed building an LNG terminal offshore. But residents were outraged that those plans included a process for cycling sea-water into the facility, killing any marine life taken in with it.

The US desperately needs new sources of natural gas: The country consumes 25 per cent of the world's gas but contains just 4 per cent of its reserves. Domestic supplies are flat and demand is growing. A report on Monday from the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America estimates that by 2010, the industry will require $61bn (?49bn, £33bn) in new investment to meet US energy demand.

Analysts believe LNG is the best hope for a gas-dependent country that also widely opposes energy exploration in environmentally restricted areas. But local opposition to terminals needed to import LNG is blocking their construction - even though the industry considers their dangers highly exaggerated." (Financial Times)

"UK: Motorists face road tolls of £1.30 per mile" - "A nationwide road pricing scheme forcing motorists to pay tolls of up to £1.30 a mile could be introduced within a decade under a radical government initiative to avert the prospect of gridlock on Britain's busiest highways. The transport secretary, Alistair Darling, yesterday published a white paper setting out plans for a world leading satellite-based system to charge all of Britain's 30 million motorists for the use of road space as early as 2014." (The Guardian)

"World Bank faces calls for poverty test on energy projects" - "A coalition of more than 30 development and environmental groups has called on the World Bank to invest in energy projects only if it can demonstrate in advance that the investment will help reduce poverty and can monitor the impact once an investment is made. In a submission to the World Bank's board of directors, the group, which includes Oxfam and Friends of the Earth, called on the bank to invest in energy projects only in countries that demonstrated a capacity for good governance in a transparent assessment. It called for a moratorium on bank involvement in extractive industry projects until conditions are put in place to ensure that such investments promote poverty reduction and sustainable development." (Financial Times)

Fiends of the Earth et al will go to any lengths to obstruct development - especially energy projects - apparently as part of their "people bad, nature good" mindset.

"Lewis Wolpert: 'There have been rumours that nanotechnology could create robots that would devour the world'" - "It comes to me as rather a shock to find that I am on the same side as Greenpeace and Prince Charles on an environmental issue. They suggest, as a recent article in Science reports, that we should be worrying about the environmental dangers of nanotechnology and applying the precautionary principle." (Independent)

"Nanotechnology's promise" - "Like many developing technologies, nanotechnology is likely to be a source of many marvels and menaces. The latter have been better publicized than the former, so it is surprising that most Americans still have a positive view of nanotechnology. A new poll should encourage policy-makers to continue to foster the field's growth, especially given its vast potential." (The Washington Times)

"World will need GM food, warns expert" - "GENETIC modification and other biotechnologies are essential to increase food production and meet huge projected rises in the world’s population, a leading expert on plant science has warned.

If the advances made in creating genetically modified foods are not used to increase food output the world could find itself in the grip of a food crisis in as little as 15 years, perhaps even ten, said Professor Mike Gale of the John Innes Centre, one of Europe’s largest independent centres for research into plant and microbial science." (The Scotsman)

"Dutch Activists Destroy Gen-Tech Potatoes" - "AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - Activists in the Netherlands have destroyed a field of genetically modified potato plants in an attempt to discourage farming of GM crops, a Dutch company said Tuesday." (AP)

July 20, 2004

"Bangkok theatrics miss big picture" - "THE histrionics of the AIDS activists at the UNAIDS conference in Bangkok matched events in Barcelona two years ago. Among other stunts, activists besieged GlaxoSmithKline's stand and also poured blood (or rather fake blood we are assured) over pictures of US President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The real worry is that the activists may feel, and the public may think, that the activists are actually doing some good with these theatrics. They are not. The activists have entirely missed the real drama of health care in poor countries." (Richard Tren, Business Day)

"Builder pulls out of animal lab" - "A building contractor has pulled out of work on a controversial animal research centre for Oxford University. Executives at the Montpellier Group announced on Monday that the company's subsidiary, Walter Lilly and Co, would be withdrawing from the project. Oxford University officials say they remain committed to building the facility on South Parks Road." (BBC News Online) | Animal lab firm quits after threats by extremists (Daily Telegraph)

"Mad Cows, Scientists and Politicians" - "A little over eight years ago, British Secretary of State for Health Stephen Dorrell announced to the House of Commons that scientists had identified a new strain of the fatal brain malady Creuzfeldt-Jacob Disease (CJD) and that they could no longer rule out a link to "Mad Cow Disease" (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or BSE). The implication was clear: Scientists said that British beef was unsafe. (After the announcement, the 1990 photo-op in which former Agriculture Minister John Selwyn Gummer force-fed his daughter a hamburger looked like child abuse.) The panicked reaction decimated the British beef industry at a cost to the taxpayers of over £3 billion and may have helped bring down the Conservative government. Yet new evidence suggests that the whole disaster was merely a manifestation of the conflicting needs of science and politics." (Iain Murray, TCS)

"When scientists cheat, the results are sobering" - "WASHINGTON -- A New Jersey scientist seemed to be finding promising clues on how problems with human brain cells can lead to epilepsy and mental retardation.

But when a colleague cried foul in 2002 and warned officials that some of the data were phony, Brand Hoffmann's work on the research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, fell apart.

Admitting he fabricated portions of his study, the assistant professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey became one of a small number of scientists -- fewer than 20 in an average year -- to be caught cheating and formally barred from federally funded research.

Many experts believe scientific misconduct is more widespread than those numbers suggest. And they say the government, which spends tens of billions of dollars annually on research, has been slow to adopt guidelines issued 3 1/2 years ago to improve reporting and oversight of bad science." (The Star-Ledger)

"Police radio system led to officer's fatal cancer, family fears" - "The family of a police officer who died of cancer have questioned whether the force's controversial new radio system caused the disease." (Daily Telegraph)

"A Dermatologist Who's Not Afraid to Sit on the Beach" - "Dr. A. Bernard Ackerman, a dermatologist, spends much of his time diagnosing the potentially deadly cancer melanoma and other skin diseases. But when he returned from a recent trip to Israel, he was, well, deeply tanned. Burnished brown, in fact. Dr. Ackerman did not use sunscreen on his trip. He did not give any thought to the hundreds of moles that speckle his body. He did not even put a hat on his bald head.

Other dermatologists may worry about getting melanoma from exposure to ultraviolet rays. But Dr. Ackerman, 67, a renowned expert in the field and the emeritus director of the Ackerman Academy of Dermatopathology in New York, said the link between melanoma and sun exposure was "not proven." (Gina Kolata, New York Times)

"Clusters or coincidence?" - "Scientists who study outbreaks of a disease in a specific area or group face frustration, challenge and obstacles in trying with certainty to establish connections." (The Baltimore Sun)

"Red Flag on Blue Cohosh" - "For several years, ACSH has been warning consumers that "natural" products such as herbal supplements are neither well regulated nor intrinsically safe. In our publication on potential supplement-drug interactions as well as on this site, we have noted actual and potential problems with such products." (Ruth Kava, ACSH)

Uh-oh! Atkins haters won't like this: "Was Atkins right?" - "The scientific community knows that high protein diets induce early marked metabolic changes in human and animal models, especially when the diet contains at least 50 percent of energy as protein, but the physiological and functional consequences of a long-term high protein (HP) diet have not been fully explored. Now, a long-term study involving male rats has found that a protein intake of three times the requirements did not produce any adverse effects in key systems." (American Physiological Society)

"Molecular chain length can be a measure fatty acids effectiveness in appetite suppression" - "A longer chain fatty acid, found in milk and beef products, is found to increase key peptide production and reduce appetite and energy intake." (American Physiological Society)

"Obesity and 'Public Health'?" - "Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson says, "Obesity is a critical public health problem in our country."

Wrong. Obesity is a problem for many people, but it is not a public health problem. By calling it one, however, Thompson can promise that we, the taxpayers, will pay for everyone's diet programs, stomach surgery, and behavioral counseling. Get out your wallet." (David Boaz, Cato Institute)

"Europe's REACH Program To Be Put To the Test" - "The European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) and the European Commission's Joint Research Center, in Italy, will launch a joint project to test the workability of the proposed chemicals registration regime that is wending its way through the European Union (EU).

The partnership is being set up to test-run the EC's proposed Registration, Evaluation & Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) program. CEFIC--which in principle supports the aims of REACH, although with reservations about some of the current details--sees the effort as a comprehensive, EU-wide exercise that it has dubbed the Strategic Partnership on REACH Testing (SPORT)." (Chemical & Engineering News)

Woe is us! Things are getting... better? "Trout caught in London again after river is transformed" - "It sounds an ecological impossibility, a trout stream in the middle of London. But trout are flourishing in the river Wandle, one of the capital's largely forgotten rivers such as the Fleet, the Walbrook and the Tyburn.

The Wandle has been reborn in one of the most remarkable environmental transformations seen in Britain. In 25 years, what was a lifeless drain through industrial estates and dense Victorian housing, entering the Thames just down from Clap-ham Junction, has come alive with substantial fish such as dace, roach, chub and barbel. Most astonishing is the population of brown trout, fish which need clear, well-oxygenated water. They are the surest sign of river health." (Independent)

Enviro-extortion doesn't always work: "Wine Town With a Water Problem Is in Deep" - "Lodi signed onto a plan to clean up pollution with lawsuits and loans. It didn't work.

The plan went like this: The city would borrow $16 million from Lehman at 25% interest to finance a barrage of lawsuits. Donovan and his firm would pursue the suits, billing at rates of up to $425 an hour. Courts would shift all the costs to insurance companies. In the end, Lodi would clean up the problem without having to pay for it.

Today, the strategy is a shambles, picked apart by state and federal courts and condemned by a federal judge as "environmental litigation for profit." (Los Angeles Times)

"The British Lysenko?" - "Sir David King is Tony Blair's Chief Scientific advisor and a famous proponent of the notion that climate change is a more serious threat than terrorism. He is used to getting his way, and he usually does in European climate circles. When he doesn't get his way, he can be petty and petulant, as he was when he recently refused to open a climate conference in Moscow since the participants included too many climate skeptics for his taste. The Russians and Brits, instead of reaching a greater understanding over climate policies, now seem further apart than ever before. Given where British policy has been heading, that may be good news." (Roger Bate, TCS)

"Forget Kyoto, daring leadership is needed to keep the planet cool" - "Australia must act quickly and cleverly to reduce greenhouse gas levels. David Madden has a plan.

Recent calls by Australia's Chief Scientist, Robin Batterham, for Australia to halve its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 have reignited the debate about what we should do to tackle its high level of carbon emissions. Australia is the largest per capita producer of greenhouse gases in the industrialised world, emitting more than double the average rate for industrialised countries. And Australia's emissions are increasing." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

David Madden, (currently involved in the Democrat campaign for the US elections), promptly destroys his own credibility - check out his very next sentence:

With overwhelming scientific evidence that such emissions are driving an increase in global temperatures that will have a potentially devastating effect on the world, there is no time to waste.

Uh-huh... If such scientific evidence (or anything even remotely resembling credible evidence, for that matter) actually existed, why didn't the IPCC even bother to respond when Russia presented just nine questions regarding the science supposedly underpinning the enhanced greenhouse hypothesis and the Kyoto Protocol proposed to address the alleged 'crisis'? After all, Russia is now the required signatory to bring The Protocol into legal force. Why not just prove the case with sound science, allow Russia to be 'global heroes' and 'world savers' doing what no US administration has done and ratify Kyoto? Is the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change keeping secrets from the Russians? Why not show the Russians this 'overwhelming scientific evidence' if there is apparently 'no time to waste'?

The simple fact is, the evidence is so underwhelming that we still don't know exactly what forcings are involved or their relative importance after that of the sun (the primary source of the planet's warmth is, after all, the greatest 'culprit' in planetary warming). We do know that relatively constant increase in atmospheric CO2 over the last 50 years has been accompanied by both falling and increasing temperature trends. We also know that, despite increasing atmospheric CO2, it took about 70 years to return to the temperatures observed in the 1930s. If we (conveniently) choose to view trends from the '30s to 00s (noughties?) we find increasing atmospheric CO2 and steady temps.

As every school kid knows, longer time series yield better trend information so, what about from 1,000 years ago? That'd be the Medieval Climatic Optimum (oops! that's 'Medieval Warm Period' now) and things have not yet really recovered to that warm and pleasant time, although it has been somewhat cooler (and nastier) during the interval. Nonetheless, that's another (convenient) reference point that suggests current temperatures are nothing unusual.

Why choose points 50, 70 and 1,000 years ago? Precisely because of their temperatures similar to, or higher than contemporary while atmospheric CO2 levels were either at pre-industrial levels or approximately half way between pre-industrial and current levels. If we see a range of increasing atmospheric CO2 levels and similar temperatures (with both increasing and decreasing trends evident in the record) then we must allow that these temperatures can and do occur without enhanced atmospheric CO2-forcing. If we allow that then we wreck our associative case of "we believe the globe has warmed and atmospheric CO2 has increased - therefore increasing atmospheric CO2 increases global temperature."

What the overwhelming scientific evidence really shows is that increasing atmospheric CO2 is a response to, not a driver of increased global temperature.

Now you know why the IPCC rudely did not respond to Russia's polite request to "show us the science" - they can't.

"Corporations Take the Lead on Climate Change" - "Faced with a political standstill in international climate policy, a number of responsible companies and industries have embarked on a path to proactively attack the worsening global warming crisis. Fortunately, these intrepid corporations have strong partners to guide them in their effort." (World Resources Institute)

Saying a mouthful: "Village is renamed in wind-farm protest" - "People in a remote Welsh beauty spot have renamed their village in a protest against a wind farm. The village of Llanfynydd, south Wales, has been transformed into Llanhyfryddawelllehynafolybarcudprindanfygythiadtrienusyrhafnauole." (Independent)

"Cow and Gate -- and Some Toxins, Technically" - "Who was quoted in a Sunday newspaper trying to reassure people by saying the following?

"The key thing to remember is that all the products are well within the set safety limits and they are absolutely safe."

  1. The spokesperson for a pesticide trade association.
  2. The spokesperson for a chemical company.
  3. The spokesperson for an organic food company.
  4. The spokesperson for a major multinational food company." (Jeff Stier, ACSH)

Look out Charlie! You've got competition: "Green Goo: The New Nano-Threat" - "First it was "gray goo," the threat of self-replicating machines populating the planet. Now an environmental think tank is raising the specter of "green goo," where biology is used to create new materials and new artificial life forms." (Wired)

"Precaution and Labeling: What Do They Mean for International Regulation" (PDF) - Conko Presentation at Institute of Food Technologists Conference in Las Vegas (CEI)

"Scientists and Scholars Denounce Position of the Catholic Institute for International Relations on GM Crops" - "Milan, Italy: July 17, 2004 — An international group of scientists and scholars released a statement today countering recent claims by the Catholic Institute for International Relations that “GM crops won’t solve world hunger.” On the contrary, said Piero Morandini, a plant biology researcher at the University of Milan and lead author of the statement, “Opposing this technology means renouncing a relevant tool for tackling food security and world hunger, and opposition will do damage to poor farmers rather than help them.” (Gregory Conko, CEI)

"Stricter Rules Needed on GMOs" - "Scientists are calling for stricter regulations on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in China, saying the spread of the GMOs has become so rapid that regulation is required to minimize any possible risks they may pose to human health and the environment." (China Daily)

"Europe Approves Genetically Modified Corn as Animal Feed" - "WASHINGTON, July 19 - The European Union on Monday approved the importation of a genetically modified corn from the United States for animal feed, an important break in a six-year moratorium on the approval of biotechnology crops that has touched off a trade war.

The announcement of the approval in Brussels was met with relief at Monsanto, the biotechnology giant that produces the corn, where it was seen as a welcome change after years of rejection. The decision will allow the importation and sale of Roundup Ready Corn 2 feed corn, but not its cultivation.

"Europe's decision on Monday represents definite progress," said Lee Quarles, public affairs manager at Monsanto's headquarters in St. Louis. "We haven't seen action out of the European Union since 1998.'' (New York Times)

July 19, 2004

"Animal rights v science: battle over new vivisection lab at Oxford turns violent" - "As activists try to stop construction of university's research building, scientists call for a crackdown on extremists" (The Guardian)

Gasp! "Plutonium cancer risk may be higher than thought" - "Plutonium may be many times more dangerous than previously thought. The cancer risk from exposure inside the body could be 10 times higher than is allowed for in calculating international safety limits.

The danger is highlighted in a report written by radiation experts for the UK government, which has been leaked to New Scientist. The experts are unanimous in saying that low-level radiation emitted by plutonium may cause more damage to human cells than previously believed. Their opinion could provoke a rethink of the guidelines on exposure to radiation." (New Scientist)

Couple of notes for those prone to worry: to begin with, this is strictly about "inside the body" exposure because, as an alpha-emitter plutonium is so dangerous that the layer of dead skin cells that coats your body is fully protective, as is a sheet of paper... you get the idea. Secondly, even if there is some factual basis to this (I love these unpublished reports, often by unnamed 'scientists' or 'experts,' that are 'leaked' to media and pop-science rags) then even an order of magnitude increase in infinitesimally small risk for the general population is still not worthy of attention. At least, certainly not worth the hysterical attention this is likely to get from bored press in the silly season.

How our ancestors avoided cancer (Melissa Jackson, BBC News Online)

Dead easy, actually. Well, more correctly, they died of other causes before exhibiting any maladies that are basically diseases of old age.

"New Calif. Power Lines Stir Health Debate" - "SAN FRANCISCO - Lara Lighthouse is fighting the planned route of a 230,000-volt power line near San Francisco because she's afraid it will make her family sick.

"We would have to move if this line is built too close to our property. We don't want to take the risks," she said.

California's push to build more transmission lines to satisfy growing demand for electricity is stirring concern over possible health effects from electric and magnetic fields -- EMFs -- created by electricity lines." (Reuters)

"Airlines in the dock as DVT families win Lords hearing" - "Families of victims of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) have won the right to take their cases to the House of Lords in a legal breakthrough that could leave the airline industry liable for millions of pounds in compensation pay-outs.

Lawyers for the families said yesterday they were delighted that the country's highest court of appeal had finally decided to hear their arguments in full." (Independent)

'Endocrine disrupter' season again, already? "Boys will be girls - eventually" - "Extinction threat rises as creatures ingest 'gender-bending' chemicals from plastics and pesticides" (Mark Townsend, The Observer)

"Fat chance: how the wonder drug to curb obesity turned out to be an apparition" - "When British scientists announced two years ago that they had developed a drug that could potentially cure obesity, it created excitement around the world.

Researchers raced to check claims that a drug based on a hormone in the body could promote weight loss by cutting food intake by a third.

But the "breakthrough" may turn out to be an apparition. Professor Bloom's research has been questioned by more than 40 scientists from 15 international research centres, which report that they have been unable to replicate his findings." (Independent)

"Big Food needs to watch out" - "The government has officially made obesity an illness. That didn't take long. It took years for the anti-smoking activists to bring about their gains. Now the likes of Dave Thune would put bars and restaurants out of business save the last-minute intervention of the mayor.

Comparatively, the fat activists have been up and running for only a few years and already they have Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson on their side.

"Obesity is a critical public health problem in our country that causes millions of Americans to suffer unnecessary health problems and die prematurely,'' Thompson said the other day.

Yeah, well, they shouldn't eat 10 Pronto Pups at the Fair." (Joe Soucheray, Pioneer Press)

"Warning: nicotine seriously improves health" - "Nicotine could soon be rehabilitated as a treatment for schizophrenia, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, as well as hyperactivity disorders.

Research shows that the chemical that has addicted millions to smoking has a powerful impact on brain activity in patients who suffer from psychiatric and degenerative disorders." (Robin McKie, The Observer)

Corporate cowardice: "Kraft Drops Plan to Light Up Germany's Highest Peak, Bowing to Protests of Environmental Groups" - "BERLIN -- A U.S. food company has scrapped plans to illuminate Germany's highest mountain, bowing to protests by environmental groups and politicians.

Kraft Foods Inc. had wanted to light up the 9,718-foot Zugspitze peak in the Bavarian Alps on Friday with more than 100 high-powered floodlights, hoping the publicity would raise awareness of its efforts to promote nature conservation.

Local politicians and conservation groups like the German Alpine Club, which is dedicated to preserving the Alps, had denounced the planned 15-minute lighting as a commercialization of nature." (Associated Press)

Good grief! Kraft, through this campaign (PDF), has been planting trees and generally doing the greenies' bidding and they land in the poop because they want to shine purple light on the Alps for 15 WHOLE MINUTES - to promote conservation, no less! When will corporations learn? There is no appeasing the anti-business Green Left.

Great horny toads! "Maryland school to be built around rare toad" - "MAPLE RUN, Md. --It has a green snout, bleats like a sheep and is rarely seen in St. Mary's County. Despite its elusiveness, county planners have agreed to build an elementary school in a way that will accommodate the mating habits of the eastern narrow-mouthed toad that state naturalists say lives in the surrounding marshes.

Minimal blacktop will be used for the school and its construction will revolve around a strict time frame set by the toad's amorous needs." (Associated Press)

These toads are common in the south and this area might (or might not) be just inside their northern extreme range.

Double standards on the political Left? "Candidate videotapes rival stealing signs" - "GORE, Okla. --A candidate for Sequoyah County commissioner caught the incumbent on videotape stealing his campaign signs and throwing them into a creek." (Associated Press)

At first, I thought this mildly amusing. Here's a couple of Democrats (there's no Republican in the race) engaged in petty campaign sabotage. Childish but fairly harmless really, no? On reflection, actually not. In the video: "Warren is seen looking down the highway before plucking Carter's signs from the grassy roadside. He puts the signs in the cab of his truck, drives about 200 yards, and tosses the signs in a creek" so he's demonstrably stealing, transporting stolen goods, littering and polluting a waterway - and Sequoyah County's sheriff laughs about it.

Well, are the Democrats the 'natural home' of the eco-luvin Left or not? Sequoyah County may be content to have their sheriff failing to enforce the law but where is the outrage from the Democrats? Why has their political machine not taken disciplinary action against their candidates, one of whom is a waterway dumper and the other who has proof of the crime but declines to take action? So, builders can't allow dirt to wash off a building site into a creek but Democrat candidates can dump trash in one?

Someone should tell Al. Not only does the Democrat presidential ticket burn more fossil fuel than a hundred ordinary Joes but their candidates in his namesake town treat America as a dumpster. Sure sounds like the eco-luvin Left.

"Car wrecks will litter streets in waste fiasco" - "A waste crisis that could dwarf the fridge mountain of two years ago loomed last night.

The scrap metal industry said it would no longer accept the 45,000 cars and tens of thousands of domestic appliances it deals with each week.

For months it has been asking the Environment Agency to decide whether such routine scrap is classed as toxic waste, but without success.

Now, it says, abandoned cars will have to remain on the streets." (Sunday Telegraph)

Ah, the virtual world - where anything can be made to happen: "Bay Pollution Progress Overstated" - "At news conferences, on its Web site and in its regular publications, the government agency leading the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay has documented more than a decade of steady progress.

The Chesapeake Bay Program has reported that the flow of major pollutants from rivers into North America's largest estuary has declined nearly 40 percent since 1985, bolstering the claims of politicians in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and the District that they were "saving the bay" and helping the states fend off criticism and lawsuits from environmentalists.

Those reports, however, significantly overstated the environmental achievements.

The estimates of pollution reduction were based on a computer model -- not water samples -- that program officials now say was distorted by overly generous assumptions." (The Washington Post)

Don't know what anyone claims to be surprised about, cleaning a bay's nothing when we can cook a whole planet by tweaking a few minor variables - in the virtual world.

How quaint: "How English wines lost their sparkle" - "After last year's long summer helped English vineyards to produce vintages capable of eclipsing their Gallic rivals, British viticulturalists were hoping to take the world by storm in 2004.

And then this year's British summer dealt a cruel blow.

The prospect of a washout August and September threatens the hopes of domestic winemakers, who have been basking in the glories of last year when British vintages were applauded for finally coming of age.

Now it appears 2003 may have been a glorious blip, with experts saying this year's vintage will be far inferior in quality and quantity.

The exceptional weather of last year, which produced unusually warm and dry conditions for August and September, resulted in what has been described as the 'vintage of a lifetime' and ensured the vines were in perfect condition this spring." (The Observer)

Oh well, at least some of the Observer's scribes have a handle on weather and variability. Sadly, it's a trait not shared by their science reporting team. If you recall last year we heard all about that bumper vintage being proof of global warming. Now they look like having a year without a summer. Seasons change like the weather, eh?

"Cold, Hard Facts" - "Are glaciers, ice caps, and sea ice are melting worldwide because human industrial activity is causing global warming? Geologic history says otherwise." (GES)

So, now it's the Amazon's 'fault'? "Amazon fires raise CO2 threat" - "Deforestation in the vast Amazon region has turned Brazil into one of the world's biggest carbon dioxide (CO2) polluters, scientists say. "Through the burning of millions of hectares of the Amazon every year, Brazil is emitting ridiculously high levels of CO2," said Professor Carlos Alberto Gurgel of the University of Brasilia. The findings were reported by a team of scientists from Brazilian and US universities who studied illegal clearances through burning of the world's largest jungle - often described as the lungs of the Earth." (BBC News Online)

"The truth about global warming - it's the Sun that's to blame" - "Global warming has finally been explained: the Earth is getting hotter because the Sun is burning more brightly than at any time during the past 1,000 years, according to new research.

A study by Swiss and German scientists suggests that increasing radiation from the sun is responsible for recent global climate changes." (Sunday Telegraph)

"Academician Izrael: Kyoto Protocol economically hazardous to Russia" - "The Kyoto Protocol is scientifically ungrounded and economically hazardous to Russia, well-known Russian scholar Academician Yuri Izrael opines in the Nezavisimaya Gazeta. He heads the Global Climate and Ecology Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and conducts the academic seminar Ways to Prevent Climatic Changes and Possible Negative Effects; Problems of the Kyoto Protocol." (Pravda.Ru)

"US-NZ climate change partnership bears fruit" - "Six climate change study projects will be undertaken jointly by the United States and New Zealand as part of a larger bilateral climate change partnership announced last July." (NBR)

"Car use rise causes UK pollution level failure" - "DTI predicts that UK will miss carbon dioxide targets as vehicle emissions overtake level of factory pollutants" (Sunday Herald)

"EUROPE: All-Terrain Pollution" - "PARIS, Jul 16 - Vehicles known as ''4x4s'', originally developed for use in the rough terrain of rural areas, have turned into a status symbol in many of Europe's big cities, but are also at the centre of a controversy because of the high emissions of pollutants generated by their engines.

Of those emissions, the one that stands out is carbon dioxide, produced in the combustion of fossil fuels and a leading contributor to the greenhouse effect and climate change." (Tierramérica)

"MacDonald does battle with windfarms" - "MILLIONAIRE financial publisher Angus MacDonald has enlisted the support of business leaders for a fighting fund to help campaign against windfarms in Scotland." (Scotland on Sunday)

"Charge of the wind farm brigade threatens heart of Tennyson country" - "Anne Hassan-Hicks can no longer look at the farmland surrounding her 18th-century home in the heart of "Tennyson country".

"It breaks my heart. I feel as if I'm on the front line of what's going on all over Britain," she said last week. "We've lived here for 15 years but if those things go up we'll leave, even if we have to take £100,000 less for the house."

Plans to build a wind farm across the Isle of Wight landscape which inspired the greatest poet of the Victorian age, and attracts thousands of ramblers and riders, have devastated Mrs Hassan-Hicks and her family. She and her outraged neighbours have vowed to stop the development." (Sunday Telegraph)

"KENYA: A Preventable Disaster?" - "NAIROBI, Jul 16 - Should Kenyan authorities have been better prepared for the drought that has ravaged most of the country, prompting widespread food shortages? It's a question that elicits a mixed response from analysts.

Some say that on the basis of past experience, more could have been done.

"For example, water harvesting and storing to use for irrigation during drought (should have taken place)," Enoch Oudo, a private agricultural consultant in the capital, Nairobi, told IPS.

"We have had annual floods in parts of the country and the water has gone to waste. The government should have planned wisely to control and store this water for use at such a time." (IPS)

"Organic baby food 'worst for toxins'" - "ORGANIC baby foods carry higher toxin levels than conventional products, according to a damning new report by the Food Standards Agency.

While many parents are prepared to pay a premium of up to an extra 20p, or 30%, for a jar of organic food, the survey found that three of the top four products with the highest levels of toxins were organic, while none of the 10 baby foods with the lowest toxin levels had the organic label." (Scotland on Sunday)

"Europe is steadily losing its scientific elite" - "Few issues have caused as much controversy during the run-up to this year's US election as the complex and elusive phenomenon known as "offshoring". In the US, the practice is deemed unjust, even unpatriotic. But imagine the political outcry if, in addition to the loss of so many jobs, nearly half a million of America's scientists had already left the country, claiming that working conditions there were so poor they could not do their job properly. Imagine, too, if companies were moving their state-of-the-art scientific research overseas, believing the cutting-edge innovations were more likely to be discovered elsewhere.

Welcome to Europe, where this scenario is not a fantasy but a grim economic reality. Each year, thousands of Europeans go to study in the US and the vast majority - more than 70 per cent - will not bring the education they receive there back home. Most will stay in the US, preferring to pursue their career in an environment that nurtures their talents and rewards their ingenuity. As a result, nearly 40 per cent of the scientists working in the US today were born in Europe." (Financial Times)

"Hundreds of firms using nanotech in food" - "Two hundred companies are already working on inserting nanotechnology into food, posing "immense" risks to health, new research claims." (Independent on Sunday)

"Activists want to drive biotech off Calif. farms" - "SAN FRANCISCO, July 16 - Activists have placed measures on ballots in four California counties to ban genetically modified crops, a major step toward driving the biotechnology industry from the No. 1 U.S. farming state, analysts said on Friday." (Reuters)

July 16, 2004

"Ron Reagan Wrong on Stem Cells" - "Ron Reagan, the younger son of the late Republican president, announced this week that he would give a prime-time address in support of stem cell research at the Democratic National Convention in Boston later this month." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"War Against Use of DDT to Curb Malaria Still On" - "Malaria is a serious problem that remains the number one killer in the country. The Ministry of Health admits that malaria deaths are getting out of hand but are quick to add that hope is not lost yet. They are keeping hope alive in the belief that one day there will be a green light to launch a vicious battle against mosquitoes by the use of DDT." (New Vision (Kampala))

"Science Takes Back Seat at AIDS Conference" - "BANGKOK - Bangkok's Impact conference center swarmed with 19,843 delegates to the annual global meeting on AIDS this week, but Hall 3, where the scientific posters were displayed, was eerily quiet.

Science has taken a backseat to politics at the 15th International AIDS Conference, which closed Friday with no major research breakthroughs reported and a vaccine, the holy grail in the war on the incurable virus, still years away.

Aside from incremental progress on antiretroviral drugs, which may offer new ways to keep the HIV virus at bay with fewer adverse side effects, the scientific agenda of the conference was notable more for challenges faced than progress made." (Reuters)

"Be Very Afraid" - "Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." Well, he was wrong. There is plenty to fear if you've been paying attention to the news." (Lynn Woike, Rocky Hill Post)

"Obesity deemed an illness" - "Obesity is now an illness and can be covered by Medicare, the federal health-insurance program for the elderly and disabled." (The Washington Times)

Lemme see... Lardbutt Disease? Nah... can't see a big charity stream for that. How about Hyper-Hercheyism? Cadbury Glands? Compulsive Finger Licken' Disorder? Or perhaps McDonald's Syndrome? Hmm... just don't seem to have that catchy, scary ring to 'em that will get an NGO really going but, have no fear, someone will be getting another bandwagon rolling pretty soon now.

"Good News! The Kids Are Alright" - "Extra! Extra! The big news of the past decade in America has been largely overlooked, and you'll find it shocking. Young people have become aggressively normal." (James K. Glassman, TCS)

"'Health Generates Wealth' for Euro Economy" - "European Commissioner David Byrne tonight launched a “health means wealth” plan to boost the EU’s economy. He said it was time to put good public health at the heart of all EU policies. Mr Byrne declared: “Modern economies are built on good health. Their competitiveness increasingly depends on enabling their citizens to lead healthier, more productive lives.” He said the latest evidence showed that a 10% rise in life expectancy could increase a country’s wealth by 0.35%. “Put simply, health generates wealth,” he said. “That is why achieving good health must become an economic priority.” (PA News)

Can't decide whether this reflects lack of ambition or realisation that the EU's 'precautionary' legislative framework cripples their economy. Sound economies are currently growing 3%/pa or better - roughly equivalent to the EU's guesstimate for doubling life expectancy. It took the whole of the twentieth century to virtually double developed world life expectancy but the global economy sure did a lot better than +3.5% for the 100-year period.

Wealth is certainly very good for health but Byrne's numbers do little to suggest the reverse is true.

"Green Innovations" -"Presidential awards honor cleaner, cheaper, and smarter chemistry that delivers novel products and processes to prevent pollution" (Chemical & Engineering News)

"Gaia or God?" - "Whether it's global warming in particular, or environmental issues in general, people tend to split into two camps on the subject. The two views really aren't reconcilable, and most folks can't even articulate why they feel the way they do. This is because our beliefs reflect an underlying philosophy, a worldview, a paradigm of the way things work that has been shaped by our culture, upbringing, and our personal strength of spirit." (Roy Spencer, TCS)

"Ocean CO2 may 'harm marine life'" - "Nearly 50% of the carbon dioxide that humans have pumped into the atmosphere over the last 200 years has been absorbed by the sea, scientists say. Consequently, atmospheric levels of the potent greenhouse gas are not nearly as high as they might have been. But the heavy concentration of carbon dioxide in the oceans has changed their chemistry, making it hard for some marine animals to form shells. The research is published in this week's edition of Science magazine." (BBC News Online) | Sea survey measures acid increase - Oceanic carbon sinks herald bad news for wildlife. (Nature News) | Impact of Earth's rising atmospheric carbon dioxide found in world oceans (Science)

Blasted global warming! "Europeans still wait for summer weather" - "VIENNA, Austria -- Snowball fights in July. Mulled wine instead of wine coolers. Thermostats set on high. Spring has come and gone, fall approaches -- and Europeans are still waiting for summer.

Much of the continent awoke to yet another day of chilly temperatures and rain Thursday, adding to the weeks of miserable weather gripping Europe from Scandinavia to parts of the Balkans." (Associated Press)

"Freak weather fells Italian mountains" - "ROME: Freak weather has caused the collapse of some of the most famous peaks in the Italian Dolomites in what some scientists say is an effect of global warming." (Reuters)

"Europe's slow climate progress" - "The European Union's climate emissions fell only slightly from 2001 to 2002, the European Environment Agency says. But the fall followed two years during which greenhouse gas emissions actually rose, so it does mark some progress. The EEA says the EU has taken a small step towards meeting its target under the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement on tackling climate change. But it warns the states concerned that they have much more to do if they are actually to meet their commitments." (BBC News Online)

Progress? See below:

"Belgium is EU 'environment laggard'" - "BRUSSELS - Belgium is trailing behind other EU countries in the fight against climate change, it emerged on Thursday. EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom criticised Belgium for allowing a 0.5 percent rise in CO2 emissions in 2002 while levels were falling in the rest of the European Union. Writing in Le Soir newspaper, Wallstrom confirmed that the other 14 EU nations reduced levels by 0.5 percent in the same year." (Expatica)

Note for Margot: EU's emissions fell (marginally) because warmer winter weather reduced heating needs, a reduction not offset due to miserable economic performance (zero growth). Pursuing "Kyoto at all costs" will not improve their situation.

"Japan says proposed policy changes won't help meet greenhouse gas target" - "TOKYO — Japan's latest policy alternatives to fight pollution won't lower emissions enough to meet targets set by the Kyoto protocol on global warming, a government panel said Thursday.

The government recently released a progress report showing emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants from factory smokestacks, cars, and household appliances had risen 8.2 percent in 2001 from 1990 levels. The Environment Ministry has been studying ways to reverse the trend.

But on Thursday, the ministry's climate change policy panel concluded that the policy proposals under consideration won't be enough to slow the buildup of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, by 2010, ministry spokesman Keizo Fukushima said." (Associated Press)

"US leading world science" - "LONDON—In terms of journal publications and citations, the United States remains the run-away leader in a scientific world that is divided into haves and have-nots, a new analysis from Britain's top government scientist showed on Wednesday." (The-Scientist.com)

To be frank, Sir David, your psychosis regarding enhanced greenhouse-forced 'global warming' is not actually helping the situation.

"BA must spend millions on pollution permit" - "BRITISH AIRWAYS will be forced to spend millions of pounds buying emissions permits from 2008 because of its dependence on fossil fuel, the airline said yesterday. Rod Eddington, chief executive, said that offsetting BA’s emissions would be one of its fastest rising costs once aviation was included in the EU emissions trading scheme. He said that BA would be unable to make significant reductions in the amount of climate change gases it produces and would have no choice but to buy emissions permits from other industries." (The Times)

"Wind farm claims are so much hot air" - "It is a scene worthy of H G Wells. Hideous, grey metallic monsters are invading our green and pleasant land. Some can scale our mountains. Others stalk our shores. At night, they can still be seen by their flashing red eyes. Soon these hideous aliens will be everywhere. How could mankind have been so foolish? What madman allowed Britain to be overrun by this monstrous new species?

The madmen responsible for wind turbines are our politicians. And if the people of Britain do not act soon to halt this alien invasion, hundreds of miles of our ancient countryside and shoreline will be disfigured for a generation. This is not the War of the Worlds. It is the War of the Winds." (Niall Ferguson, Daily Telegraph)

"Everglades Mercury Levels Fall Sharply, Study Shows" - "MIAMI - Mercury levels in the Florida Everglades have fallen sharply since authorities curtailed waste incinerators and battery manufacturers reduced their use of the heavy metal, university researchers said on Thursday.

After analyzing nearly a century of data from bird feathers, the researchers from the University of Florida said they had proved that dangerously high levels of mercury found in the wetlands in the early 1990s had been caused by local waste incineration.

Mercury levels found in the feathers of birds last year were 90 percent lower than in 1994, following the introduction of new regulations demanding waste incinerators install pollution-cutting scrubbers on their smoke stacks, said Peter Frederick, an associate professor of wildlife ecology at the university's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences." (Reuters)

"Fly-tipping fears over EU rules to limit toxic waste" - "There will be nowhere to dispose of more than a million tons of toxic waste from today because of a drastic reduction in legal landfill sites to contain it, the Government said yesterday.

The material, including chemicals, electronic equipment and contaminated soil, will have to be recycled under a new European Union regulation.

Officials said there were significant legal barriers to dealing with hazardous waste and the Government is introducing road blocks to try to prevent fly-tipping.

The number of landfill sites licensed for dangerous material falls today from 200 to about 12. This follows the EU landfill directive agreed in 1999 banning disposal of hazardous with non-hazardous waste." (Daily Telegraph)

"Small minded - Prince Charles puts his big foot in tiny matters" - "LAST weekend, readers of the Independent on Sunday were treated to an article warning them over the risks posed by the science of nanotechnology. Authors of such pieces rarely find their words echoing around the globe; but this one did, because it was none other than Prince Charles." (The Economist)

"NGO LETTER TO THE FAO" - "NGOs in support of FAO report, "Agricultural biotechnology: meeting the needs of the poor?" An open letter to Mr. Jacques Diouf, Director General of UN Food and Agriculture Organization" (InternationalConsumers.org)

"Modified crops: the pros and cons" - "Genetically modified (GM) food is expected to provide a solution to Africa's food crisis, but experts have raised concerns, saying that GM crops are not necessarily economically viable for small-scale farmers.

GM crops are currently grown commercially in more than 40 countries, with over 110-million ha under cultivation.

Insect and herbicide resistant soyabeans, cotton and maize are the favoured GM crops, while a sweet potato resistant to a virus capable of destroying Africa's entire harvest is set to sprout on the continent." (Bruce Venter, The Pretoria News)

"Another “Drought” that Drains" - "The news from across the Atlantic this spring made it look like the European Union finally was getting around to a grudging acceptance of biotech crops. After six long years of harassment, obstruction, and denial, the continent’s bureaucrats at last approved the consumption of a specific kind of Bt corn.

Unfortunately for them--and for us--it may be a case of too little, too late." (Dean Kleckner, Truth About Trade & Technology)

July 15, 2004

"Slow and Steady Wins the Race" - "Drug therapy and US policy jumped to the top of the agenda of this week's UN conference on HIV/AIDS in Bangkok, Thailand. A key talking point has been whether countries should be switching from existing therapies of brand-name drugs to formulations made from knockoff drugs that are simpler for patients to take." (Roger Bate and Richard Tren, TCS)

"Lou Dobbs, Call Your Office" - "BANGKOK - If Lou Dobbs, the fair-trade crusader, only knew about this one! A few months ago, activists and journalists were blasting the U.S. for plans to buy only branded drugs, made by companies like Merck, to treat patients in poor countries under the president's $15 billion AIDS relief program. American authorities responded to the pressure in May with a policy guaranteed to outrage opponents of "shipping U.S. jobs overseas," as Dobbs, the TV anchor and commentator, often puts it." (James K. Glassman, TCS)

"AIDS and Fuzzy Math" - "At least 30 percent of the entire adult population of Central Africa is infected with the AIDS virus," a doctor tells a U.S. newspaper. A high Ugandan official says that within two years his nation will "be a desert." ABC News Nightline declares that within 12 years "50 million Africans may have died of AIDS."

Actually, those statements and predictions were all made between 1986 and 1988. Yet since 1985, Central Africa's population has increased over 70 percent while Uganda's has nearly doubled. Japan, conversely, has close to no AIDS cases yet its population growth has essentially stopped." (Michael Fumento, TCS)

"Risk taking is good for you" - "When we think we're minimising dangers, we may just be storing up problems for the future, writes Vivienne Parry." (The Guardian)

"Chemical industry fights back" - "Study dismissed as biased, unscientific. Report suggests chemical emissions linked to childhood diseases and birth defects" (The Montreal Gazette)

"Cancer levels not higher near Hicksville plant" - "People who lived by a former Sylvania Electric nuclear fuel production facility in Hicksville do not have higher-than-expected levels of cancer, despite residents' concerns, according to a summary of a study to be released today by the state Department of Health." (Newsday)

"Most Americans not sure about the sources of high cholesterol" - "A nationwide survey shows that most respondents did not know that high cholesterol comes from two sources, even though they have high cholesterol. When asked about cholesterol sources, more than 77 percent stated incorrectly that the food they eat contributes the most to high cholesterol. In fact, the cholesterol in the bloodstream is not just absorbed from food. Rather, the majority is produced naturally in the body. Also, 45 percent of high cholesterol patients are more concerned about cholesterol compared to other personal health issues." (Porter Novelli)

"Food Pyramid Not to Blame for Obesity, Experts Say" - "NEW YORK - Despite the recent backlash against the government-issued food pyramid, this nutritional tool is not responsible for causing the current obesity epidemic in the U.S., according to researchers.

Recently, some experts have said that the pyramid oversimplifies the food groups and stresses such food as bread and pasta at the expense of more proteins and unsaturated fats. This heavy reliance on carbohydrates and fear of all fats has left the nation seriously overweight, they argue." (Reuters Health)

Janus at The Guardian... (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Cities fall out over cloud" - "Chinese meteorologists are accusing each other of what could prove to be one of the defining crimes of the 21st century: rain theft.

The use of cloud-seeding guns, rockets and planes to induce rainfall has created tensions between drought-plagued regions, which are competing to squeeze more drops out of the sky than their equally arid neighbours." (The Guardian)

"Nuance in the atmosphere" - "When Sen. John Edwards addressed the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board in February before the California Democratic primary, I asked him if he would ask the Senate to ratify the Kyoto global-warming treaty. "Yes," the presidential candidate answered. He then added that he believed Sen. John Kerry shared his position. Wrong.

The next day, when presidential candidate Kerry talked to the Chronicle editorial board, he said that he would not ask the Senate to ratify Kyoto.

Now, the Democratic Party has dropped support for Kyoto (a plank in the 2000 party platform) from the initial draft of the national platform for 2004. John Kerry, you see, is no Al Gore, who negotiated the treaty for Bill Clinton in 1997.

Still, it's easy to understand how Edwards, now Kerry's running mate for the White House, was confused." (Debra Saunders, Creators Syndicate)

"Don't Worry About the Future" - "Global warming will destroy the environment; we will run out of oil in 40 years; social security will collapse before today's young workers reach retirement; and by the end of this century extended human lifetimes will burden an already overpopulated planet. Many commentators, and perhaps even a few real people, worry about stuff that may afflict humanity in the far future. But we really shouldn't fret over specific problems that won't manifest for 40 or more years." (James D. Miller, TCS)

"Energy policy attacked" - "The government could fall 40% short of its target of ensuring that a tenth of Britain's electricity is generated by renewable energy sources by 2010, according to a scathing report by a House of Lords body published today.

The science and technology committee, chaired by Shell Transport chairman Lord Oxburgh, said it could not avoid the conclusion "that the government are not taking energy problems sufficiently seriously".

It deplored the minimal sums of public cash going into research and development of renewable energy sources, pointing out that they were less than a twentieth of that spent in the US." (The Guardian)

"Why self-inflicted lunatic cuts?" - "The lunacy of the UK’s self-harming tendency can only be realised if you step back a little. In order to cut UK carbon from gas-fired UK power stations we lose trade to China and India, which are having to step up programmes to build new, more polluting coal-fired power stations in order to have enough electricity to feed industrial growth. It is plain silly to think that converting 10 per cent or so of UK power from nuclear to renewables, which saves no carbon emissions, will help global warming when China et al are building coal stations on a much bigger scale." (Graham Searjeant, The Times)

"Edmonds joins fight against wind farms" - "An organisation is being launched today to fight the "grotesque political push" for wind turbines, with Noel Edmonds, the TV personality, as its chairman. The Renewable Energy Foundation, or Ref, is backed by anonymous wealthy individuals and hopes to gather the 80 or so groups opposing wind farms around the country. It says turbines will irreversibly damage the landscape for a "pittance of power." (The Guardian)

"Latvian environmentalists say hydropower damaging rivers" - "RIGA - Latvian environmentalists said they were pressing the government to modify its policy on using small hydroelectric plants because they were damaging river ecosystems.

"The current practice of using small hydropower plants has clearly proved to be environmentally unfriendly," Baiba Bumbiere, spokeswoman for the Latvian branch of global environmental pressure group WWF, told AFP.

"Damage caused by small hydropower plants stimulates the fragmentation of rivers, and damages and destroys the ecosystem." (AFP)

But it is renewable - and, unusually for 'renewables,' it works, is reasonably reliable, cost-efficient and has the advantage of enhancing potable water supplies. No wonder they don't like it.

"EPA considers clean air lawsuits against 22 utilities" - "WASHINGTON --The Environmental Protection Agency is considering actions against nearly two dozen utilities for violating air pollution rules the Bush administration has been trying to make less burdensome to industry, according to agency officials.

No decision has been made whether to actually pursue the cases against all 22 utilities, although 14 of them already have been referred to the Justice Department, said one EPA official, who would discuss the matter only on condition of anonymity because the cases are pending." (Associated Press)

"How much medicine can a GM plant make?" - "Not a lot. That's why researchers this week outlined plans to grow entire fields of plants that have been genetically modified to produce pharmaceuticals. The process, known as pharming, exploits plants' ability to manufacture complex molecules. Insert the right genes, and the plant will produce proteins and antibodies that can be turned into medicines." (The Guardian)

July 14, 2004

"Yankee, Stay Home" - "BANGKOK - This city of glorious Buddhist temples and gigantic traffic jams is hosting 20,000 delegates from 160 countries - along with celebs like Ashley Judd, Richard Gere, Oprah Winfrey and Rupert Everett - at the 15th international conference to fight AIDS.

But, as usual at these global extravaganzas, the real agenda is kick the United States in the butt." (James K. Glassman, TCS)

"Scientists complain about Bush policies" - "The Bush administration is using a variety of methods to suppress scientific research, information and viewpoints that are unfavorable to industry, speakers at a national conference on scientific integrity said Monday." (Scripps Howard News Service)

Since when have CSPI been able to recognise 'science'? Presumably, their real complaint is that the Bush administration is less conducive to ridiculous scares designed to generate donations and funds for scaremongers.

"Diseases forgotten in wake of HIV" - "Millions of the world's poorest people are suffering needlessly from diseases that are being ignored, disease expert Professor David Molyneux warns." (BBC News Online)

"No Kiwi Cops in Sight" - "A large-scale study published this month in the journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy warns us about the dangers of a product sold in stores throughout the country. The U.S.-based trade association promoting the sale of this significant food allergen even has an entire section on their webpage promoting its health benefits.

Most frightening, they seem to be promoting their product to children!" (Jeff Stier, ACSH)

"Eco sounding: Dangerous liaisons" - "The UK is keeping bad company: with Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain. All are in the first stages of being prosecuted by the European Commission for failing to come up with plans to limit the use of the pesticide, methyl bromide. The chemical, used in agriculture and food processing, must be phased out, according to European Union law, and member states should have come up with a plan explaining how they are implementing it. The UK and eight others failed. The commission says it's taking the legal action to ensure EU citizens get the environmental protection they expect. Thank you EU." (Paul Brown, The Guardian)

Memo Paul Brown: no viable alternatives are available.

Rightly: "U.S. to Seek Further Waiver For Ozone-Harming Pesticide" - "The United States plans to seek a waiver in international talks this week that would allow American farmers to continue using methyl bromide, a pesticide slated to be banned in 2005 because it contributes to destruction of Earth's protective ozone layer." (Washington Post)

"Green Grow the Pressies: How the media get the environment wrong" - "In 1995, they told us that Yucca Mountain was going to explode in a nuclear firestorm. It won’t. In 1998, they told us that nuclear-weapons installations were making people sick. They weren’t. In 2000, they weren’t concerned with arsenic in the water. In 2001, they were. This year, they have claimed that the Pentagon is worried about global warming and that phosphate mines are harming Floridians. “They” are journalists, and the issue is the environment. What makes this particular issue so susceptible to bad journalism?" (Iain Murray, National Review)

"Will Compasses Point South?" - "The collapse of the Earth's magnetic field, which both guards the planet and guides many of its creatures, appears to have started in earnest about 150 years ago. The field's strength has waned 10 to 15 percent, and the deterioration has accelerated of late, increasing debate over whether it portends a reversal of the lines of magnetic force that normally envelop the Earth." (New York Times)

This is what The Post considers education for our kids: "Global Warming: Is It Hot in Here?" - "If you could stick a big thermometer in Earth's mouth, you would find that she's running a serious fever, scientists say. Our planet is warming up. Polar ice has been melting. Glaciers have been shrinking. Many plants and animals are starting to live closer to the poles and at higher elevations, where it's cooler." (The Washington Post)

"Forecasters spot 'unusual' climate swing" - "Weather forecasters say a massive swing in a key climate indicator is unusual but there is no obvious link to the greenhouse effect. The monthly Southern Oscillation Index readings have varied by up to 30 points. Since December the index has ranged from -16 to +13, while in most years the index normally varies by about 10 points. Such swings have only been seen twice since the 1930s; the last one was in the mid-1980s following a major drought. The Northern Territory Regional Climate Centre's Sam Cleland says overall, the index average across the year has been close to zero or neutral meaning there is no clear drought or rain patterns. "The next El Nino would be unlikely to develop until ... late summer, early autumn next year now, if we were to see one," he said. Mr Cleland says there is no obvious sign of a link between global warming and the index swings." (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

The world according to the increasingly bizarre Sir David King: "Melting ice: the threat to London's future" - "There is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than for 55m years, enough to melt all the ice on the planet and submerge cities like London, New York and New Orleans, Sir David King, the government's chief scientific adviser has warned.

Speaking on his return from Moscow, where he has been acting as the prime minister's "unofficial envoy" to persuade the Russians to ratify the Kyoto protocol to fight climate change, Sir David said the most recent science bore out the worst predictions." (The Guardian)

If any science at all manages to penetrate Sir David's apparent religious fervour, you would expect the empirical measures of the last 50 years to at least give him pause. From the 1950s through 1970s global temperatures fell and then rose through the '80s and '90s. Were atmospheric CO2 levels declining when global temperature declined? Absolutely not - we know (because we sampled and measured) that atmospheric CO2 increased roughly +1ppmv/yr throughout the period. So increasing atmospheric CO2 causes falling and rising temperatures? Oh puh-lease! It's much easier (and certainly as realistic) to make the case that global computing power increased dramatically since the end of global cooling, so processing power heats the planet (just look how it cooks virtual worlds in GCCMs!). Associations could also be made for human longevity, colour television, access to pet care, you name it! While it might be difficult to convince people that black and white TV transmissions cool the globe while colour transmissions warm it, the plot fit for black and white/colour television transmissions and global temperature is much better than that for atmospheric CO2 and global temperature.

So what's the campaign now? "Save the planet - kill colour and bring back black & white television to beat global warming!" I suspect not...

"Breaking the “Hockey Stick”" - "The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claims that human activities are responsible for nearly all earth’s recorded warming during the past two centuries. A widely circulated image that dramatically depicts these temperature trends resembles a hockey stick with three distinct parts: a flat “shaft” extending from A.D. 200 to 1900, a “blade” shooting up from A.D. 1900 to 2002, and a range of uncertainty in temperature estimates that envelops the shaft like a “sheath.” [See the figure.] Michael Mann of the University of Virginia and Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia updated the influential reconstruction of global and hemispheric air temperatures (Geophysical Research Letters, 2003) used in the IPCC’s third assessment of climate change. However, five independent research groups have uncovered problems with this reconstruction, calling into question all three components of the “hockey stick.” (NCPA)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"A New Twist on the Old Threat of an Imminent Release of Vast Amounts of CO 2 from the World's Peatlands" - "Global warming is set to dramatically worsen because of huge amounts of carbon dioxide being released from the world's peatlands, a study has found." - Steve Connor, Science Editor of The Independent (Independent.co.uk), 8 July 2004. Do you believe it?" (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Methane (Atmospheric Concentrations)" - "The historical upward trend in the atmosphere's methane concentration (and, hence, its potential to further warm the globe) has slowed dramatically over the past two decades, possibly even halting altogether, due in some significant degree to changes in a suite of complex phenomena driven by the concomitant rise in the air's CO 2 content." (co2science.org)

"Isoprene" - "What is it?  How is it influenced by the air's CO 2 content?  And why do we care?" (co2science.org)

Plant Growth Data:
"This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Holly Oak, Paper Birch, Quaking Aspen and Tamarack." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"Ice Core Temperature Reconstructions from Svalbard, Norway" - "How strongly do they support the climate-alarmist claim that what they call the unprecedented warming of the 20th century was caused by the concomitant increase in the atmosphere's CO 2 concentration?" (co2science.org)

"Outlet Glaciers of the Myrdalsjokull Ice Cap of Iceland" - "What can their behavior tell us about the nature of 20th century warming?" (co2science.org)

"The Effects of Elevated CO 2 on Medicinal Substances Found in St. John's Wort Plants" - "In terms of both total plant biomass and tissue concentrations, they are, to say the least, very substantial." (co2science.org)

"CO 2 and Temperature Effects on Wood Density of Scots Pines" - "As the air's CO 2 content and temperature continue to rise, what will happen to the strength of the wood produced by trees growing under these supposedly adverse conditions?" (co2science.org)

"Photosynthesis in Second-Generation Pine Trees Grown in Air of Elevated CO 2 Concentration" - "Will the capacity for enhanced photosynthesis in trees growing in CO 2 -enriched air be lost in subsequent generations, as trees acclimate to higher concentrations of carbon dioxide?" (co2science.org)

"Facing up to the true costs and benefits of wind energy " - "This paper [PDF] places the past (1950-2000) and prospective (2010-2025) contribution of wind energy in the context of overall US energy consumption and US electricity generation.  The paper demonstrates that the contribution of wind has been and will be tiny -- despite the massive subsidies and mandates being provided, unwisely, by federal and state governments." ( Energy Market and Policy Analysis, Inc.)

"Scientist Calls Decaf Coffee Row Tempest in Teacup" - "SAO PAULO, Brazil - The Brazilian scientist who recently discovered naturally decaffeinated coffee plants from a collection of wild Ethiopian beans said on Tuesday reports that he had taken coffee plants illegally from the African country were "nonsense."

The spat has underscored the potential money at stake over the rights to genetic material of the coffee plants, even though the commercial potential of the wild plants is unknown and a product could take at least five years to get to market.

Decaf drinkers account for 10 percent of total coffee sales in the world, a multibillion-dollar industry. Naturally decaffeinated brews could dominate over the current chemically caffeine-reduced options in today's health-conscious market." (Reuters)

"Healthier eating spurs demand for organic foods" - "Organic foods are becoming more popular as shoppers turn to natural foods grown without chemicals. "It's growing, and it's going to continue to grow by leaps and bounds," said Phil Lembert, food commentator and owner of Supermarket-guru.com. Sales of organic food have more than doubled since 1997, although they are still a sliver of overall food sales." (The Washington Times)

"Partnership presses ahead in work to unlock corn's genetic code" - "ST. LOUIS - Scientists looking to unlock corn's genetic code now have access to research done by three companies, all of them hoping to hasten development of biotech crops perhaps more resilient to drought, a trade group overseeing the partnership said Tuesday.

As part of the deal unveiled in March, Monsanto Co. and Iowa-based DuPont subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. have transferred their maize-sequencing information to a searchable Web database, the National Corn Growers Association said.

The companies, along with Monsanto research partner Ceres Inc., have agreed to release their data on the corn genome to researchers at nonprofit institutions, for noncommercial use.

They hope to develop hybrid and genetically modified plants that are more drought-resistant or can produce more nutritious corn or fibers. The goal: Sequence the corn genome by 2007, perhaps several years ahead of when it otherwise would be completed without the initiative." (Associated Press)

"No quick fix to food problem" - "African countries require less of an Asian-style ‘green revolution’ than a ‘cultural revolution’ involving ideas, attitudes and institutions. This must include, but not be limited to, a belief in science-based innovation. If United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan had expected a simple answer when he asked scientists two years ago what they could do about the food crisis in Africa, he will have been disappointed when he received their reply last recently. The implication behind the way that Annan’s question was phrased — how can a ‘green revolution’ be achieved in Africa? — is that the solution might be found in a set of relatively straightforward scientific and technical innovations in plant breeding. After all, it was the development of new, high-yielding strains of rice and wheat that lay behind the original ‘green revolution’ that was achieved in Asia and Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s. Perhaps Africa could benefit in a similar way?

But, as the scientists’ response makes it clear, Africa is a different case. The response came from a panel established by the Inter Academy Council (IAC), a body set up by scientific academies across the world to provide expert advice to the UN system and other international bodies on science-related issues. As indicated in their report – Realizing the promise and potential of African agriculture: Science and technology strategies for improving agricultural productivity and food security in Africa, many factors combine to make the alleviation of food shortages in Africa – both acute and chronic – significantly more complex than in Asia." (Daily Times of Nigeria)

"GM plants will be used to create Aids vaccine" - "Genetically modified plants are to be used to grow vaccines against rabies and Aids, scientists have announced. Europe's first field trial, announced yesterday, is likely to be carried out in South Africa because of fears over crop vandalism in Britain. The GM crop could dramatically reduce the cost of producing vaccines ­ scientists estimate they can be made at between a tenth and a hundredth of the price of conventional immunisations." (Independent)

"GM banana needed to fend off pests" - "Banana is a major staple for more than 400 million people in developing nations, including the Philippines.

However, black sigatoka, a banana fungus that has spread around the world since the 1960s, is a very serious and potentially devastating threat to this fruit. Other dangers come from a soil fungus known as Panama disease and weevil borers that burrow into the stalks.

There is danger that many banana varieties may one day become extinct if no genetic fix is done to this problem." (Philippine News Agency)

"N.D. shoppers open to genetically-modified pasta" - "VALLEY CITY - Nearly 80 percent of respondents in a N.D. consumer survey would choose a hypothetical pasta genetically modified with added vitamins and minerals over regular pasta that didn't have this benefit. A majority would also select pasta genetically modified with better flavor, or with zinc to help prevent head colds, over pasta that didn't have these features.

"This is good news for farmers, food processors, and retailers," says Allan Skogen, a Valley City wheat producer and chairman of Growers for Wheat Biotechnology (GWB), a group that advocates research, development and acceptance of biotechnology in wheat. "It sends an important signal that consumers are ready to accept the positive attributes biotechnology can bring to a safe and abundant food supply." (Valley City Times Record)

"Argentina Approves Herbicide-Resistant GMO Corn" - "BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Argentina, the world's No. 2 corn exporter, has approved the use of genetically modified, herbicide-resistant corn, Economy Minister Roberto Lavagna told reporters on Tuesday.

The long-awaited decision has sparked hope of a corn crop revival similar to Argentina's soybean boom which followed the introduction of Roundup Ready soy, a crop resistant to the pesticide glyphosate that Monsanto Co. developed to make production cheaper and easier.

The European Union, the top buyer of Argentine corn, has not approved glyphosate-resistant corn for consumption. But in May, the bloc lifted a five-year ban on new GMO foods when it authorized imports of another GMO maize known as Bt-11." (Reuters)

"Four counties to vote on modified crops ban" - "A network of anti-biotech activists has succeeded in placing initiatives banning genetically modified crops on the November ballots in four California counties as part of a plan to create a patchwork quilt of GMO-free regions.

Following the example of Mendocino County, which in March passed the first sweeping ban on genetically modified organisms in the nation, groups in Marin, Humboldt, San Luis Obispo and Butte counties have gathered enough signatures to put their own initiatives before voters.

It remains to be seen whether county governments are legally entitled to set stricter standards for biotech crops than the federal government. And even if they are, the efforts now are largely symbolic because none of the crops -- scientifically altered to make them resistant to insects or herbicides -- are being grown in the four counties." (Mercury News)

July 13, 2004

"Malaria's Overlooked Resurgence" - "As HIV/AIDS gains new (and deserved) attention and funds, it will be ironic if Western governments overlook another accelerating epidemic that has killed and disabled even more people in the past 20 years. It is malaria.

Many in the developed world dismiss malaria as an ancient, largely vanquished affliction. But its parasites have mutated into forms ever more resistant to the commonly available drugs. In much of sub-Saharan Africa, malaria deaths have doubled in the past decade; globally, the annual death rate is well over 1 million." (Enriqueta Bond, The Washington Post)

"Lords of Poverty" - "BANGKOK -- I don't question the seriousness of the AIDS crisis. I do, however, question the seriousness of the AIDS response. And an un-serious response -- in which posturing for the media displaces saving people's lives -- could prove to be catastrophic. Not only will millions more die of AIDS as a consequence of such planetary showboating, but the basic system for developing cures to new maladies could be annihilated in a spasm of plundering political correctness." (James Pinkerton, TCS)

"COMMENT: Science spending is a waste of public money" - "In yesterday's spending review Gordon Brown announced that he would raise the government's science budgets by 5.9 per cent annually, elevating them to a projected £5bn. Sadly, every penny will be wasted. There is no government spending more futile than science spending." (Terence Kealey, Financial Times)

"Calming Parents' Fears About Environmental Hazards" - "Dr. Robert L. Brent has been studying environmental toxicology for nearly half a century.

A distinguished professor at Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, he specializes in the effects of environmental factors like radiation, drugs and chemicals on the developing embryo and child.

But Dr. Brent, who is also the head of a birth defects research laboratory at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., said he often found himself defending the safety of such environmental agents in the face of misinformation that ignites the fears of parents and causes confusion.

Too often, Dr. Brent says, many millions of dollars are spent to clean up substances that actually present little or no risk to anyone's health." | The Real Risks to Children (New York Times)

"'No proof of' Gulf war syndrome" - "A major study of former soldiers has cast doubt on the existence of Gulf war syndrome. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine researchers quizzed more than 40,000 former soldiers. The study, published in BMC Public Health, found veterans of the 1991 Gulf War were more likely to report symptoms of ill-health. But similar symptoms were reported by both those who served in the Gulf, and those who did not." (BBC News Online)

"Warning: Dough of Doom, Tacos of Terror!" - "You may recall hearing recently that the scare about French fries and cancer was nothing to worry about after all. This March 11 article explains why we shouldn't worry about the low levels of acrylamide we consume in foods. Not bad, given that ACSH's peer-reviewed report saying the same came out in February 2002." (Jeff Stier, ACSH)

"Food labels may be too-early warning" - "Could french fries give you cancer? How about potato chips or coffee?

Californians might soon find a cancer warning label slapped across a host of products that, by some estimates, represent 40 percent of the food supply – despite what some scientists say is a lack of hard data and over protests by the federal Food and Drug Administration.

The warning labels might be required on everything from baby food to popcorn and breakfast cereal.

The FDA has found that these foods contain high amounts of a suspected carcinogen called acrylamide, which causes cancer in rats. But scientists haven't determined whether it's harmful to humans.

Nevertheless, California will release drafts of the warnings by the end of the month. Finalizing the wording will take at least a year, though a lawsuit to be heard next month could force the issue much sooner." (Union-Tribune)

"Children failing to act on healthy eating lessons" - "Pupils may be learning about healthy eating in the classroom but they still choose chips in the school canteen, according to government research which will deepen concerns over children's diets. A report published yesterday by the Department for Education and Skills, School Meals in Secondary Schools in England, finds that nutritional advice is failing to alter pupils' eating habits, with only 6% choosing a vegetable or salad option at lunchtime." (The Guardian)

"Celebs and Bigwigs Not Founts of Science Wisdom" - "Celebrity-worship and deference to authority sometimes overcome people's ability to think scientifically and rationally. ACSH's Jeff Stier has written about how celebrities influence research funding, for instance. Celebrity and authority can also be used to sell ideas the public wouldn't otherwise accept." (Todd Seavey, ACSH)

"Industry And The EC Form A Chemistry Plan" - "Last week, the European Commission, the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC), and the European Association for Bioindustries (EuropaBio) joined forces to launch a new initiative on sustainable chemistry.

The initiative--an industry-led technology platform on sustainable chemistry--brings together leading chemical industries and the emerging biotechnology sector. The aim is to attract investment in chemistry R&D and innovation in Europe through a strategic research agenda that will include collaborative research in selected technology areas." (Chemical & Engineering News)

Missing: the smell of gunpowder in the morning... "Smoke-Free Is Disneyland's Fireworks Launch of Choice" - "After years of complaints from Anaheim residents about the towering gray clouds that its fireworks shows create, Disney scientists have come up with an answer: a smokeless launcher. The new technology uses compressed air to propel fireworks into the sky, rather than smoke-producing black powder." (Los Angeles Times)

"Climate warning from the deep" - "Strange things are happening in the North Sea. Cod stocks are slumping faster than over-fishing can account for, and Mediterranean species like red mullet are migrating north." (BBC News Online)

"Global Warming? What a load of poppycock!" - "Whatever the experts say about the howling gales, thunder and lightning we've had over the past two days, of one thing we can be certain. Someone, somewhere - and there is every chance it will be a politician or an environmentalist - will blame the weather on global warming.

But they will be 100 per cent wrong. Global warming - at least the modern nightmare version - is a myth. I am sure of it and so are a growing number of scientists. But what is really worrying is that the world's politicians and policy makers are not." (Professor David Bellamy, Daily Mail, July 9, 2004)

'Mann made' junk science: "Climatologist Exposes Cracks In Global Warming Foundation; 'Even Architects of Theory Now Admit They Made Errors,' Notes NCPA Report" - "WASHINGTON, July 12 -- A new report from the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) exposes serious problems with the historical climate trends reconstruction published by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -- the primary evidence used by policy makers and activists who espouse the theory that human activity is causing catastrophic global warming." (U.S. Newswire)

Wow! They've discovered UHIE: "Cities' warmth reaches 6 miles out" - "In one of the clearest demonstrations yet of how a warmer world can affect our ecosystem, scientists have discovered that the heat of towns and cities keeps the leaves on trees for an extra two weeks a year. Spring in the urban jungle arrives seven days earlier on average than in the surrounding countryside and autumn is delayed by up to eight days, a research team at Boston university has found." (The Guardian)

"When sun's too strong, plankton make clouds" - "People say size doesn't matter, and that may be true for tiny plankton, those free-floating ocean plants that make up the bottom of the marine food-chain. Little plankton may be able to change the weather, and longer term climate, in ways that serve them better." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office)

Weekly Whipple: "Climate: Warming links from the lynx" - "BOULDER, Colo., July 12 -- The Canadian lynx is a 3-foot-long cat with Frisbee-like feet that allow it run atop snow in pursuit of its favorite prey, the snowshoe hare.

The lynx is rare along much of its range, but it is cute and furry and relatively popular with people -- if not with snowshoe hares -- because it does not impinge much on human economic activity. The lynx is solitary and secretive, rarely seen. Some travel like Jack Kerouac. Researchers have documented individuals moving nearly 400 miles seeking if not a mate, then food, adventure or a better life -- whatever lynxes search for.

The researchers studying the arctic feline have found something else -- it seems to be benefiting from changes in climate. Global warming is making it a little easier for the lynx to catch its dinner." (Dan Whipple, United Press International)

"Little White Exaggeration" - "Recent researching claiming rice yields will decline due to global warming fails to take into account hundreds of articles published by other researchers that reveal myriad benefits from higher temperatures and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations." (co2andclimate.org)

"Climate change curbs Darling's plans" - "Alistair Darling's enthusiasm for building roads and airport runways is to be curbed by new measures forcing the transport secretary to take into account Britain's international commitment to tackling climate change. Transport is to be included in the government's target of achieving a 20% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2010, which was set out in the Kyoto treaty." (The Guardian)

"The algae alternative" - "To owners of aquariums, algae is annoying. But to inventor Isaac Berzin, algae represents the future of energy. His Cambridge start-up, GreenFuel Technologies Corp., is launching a new technology platform that he believes will thrust the familiar green gunk into the center of hot-button debates around air pollution, global warming, and energy independence." (Boston Globe)

Hmm... average daytime solar irradiance (at surface), probably under 1kW/m2, be generous, one square metre of pond slime (at extraordinary efficiency) could capture perhaps 12kWh energy per day. A gallon of fuel oil contains what, something over 45kWh of energy? So, 4m2 to capture and probably a similar drying area so, 8m2 to capture the equivalent of one gallon of fuel per day (at perfect efficiency, of course). One barrel of oil equals 42 gallons so, 42 x 8 = 336m2 to capture one barrel equivalent (yes, I know not all of the barrel of oil is fuel - no more calls please - we're just getting a rough idea of the resources required for this). The U.S. uses about 20million barrels per day (BPD) doesn't it? So, 20million x 336m2 means, at perfect capture rates, we could replace that oil just by utilising 6,720Km2 of land surface and only 3,360Km2 need be ponds. Okay, show of hands here, who's got water to spare to flood 3,360Km2 of land? Oh, and you'll need to keep adding water because of evaporation (which, unfortunately, means we'll need to double the area due to certain inefficiencies such as energy lost to evaporation, need to pump water, harvest & dry slime etc.).

Yeah. Looks good, all we need is a pond system the size of Delaware, a similar drying area, a massive water resource and we're good to go.

"Medical Experts Plan GM 'Pharming' Project" - "Scientists across Europe, including Britain, are to explore the possibilities of producing pharmaceuticals grown in genetically modified plants, it was announced today. The European Union has awarded 12 million euros (£8 million) to a network of experts in 11 European countries and South Africa and they aim to begin human trials of the drugs within the next five years." (PA News)

July 12, 2004

"Knock It Off" - "BANGKOK -- A powerful new report, released Sunday at the giant 15th International AIDS Conference here in Thailand, charges that poor-quality drugs, made by dubious manufacturers in countries like Cambodia, could make the AIDS epidemic worse.

The report warned that the flood of these drugs "could lead to widespread misuse and eventually to drug resistance, eradicating years of progress in treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS" through much of Asia.

Unfortunately, many AIDS activists, as well as such American politicians as Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), are ignoring the serious warnings -- both from this report and from other health experts -- that churning out untested "copy drugs" and distributing them without proper supervision in poor countries is extremely dangerous." (James K. Glassman, TCS)

"Obstacle Course" - "One of numerous complaints against the war in Iraq is that it has diverted attention away from global health problems, such as HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria. But attacking US policy in general undermines the broadly correct US AIDS policy. This has the unfortunate and ironic effect of diverting attention away from the real barriers to good healthcare. Instead of picketing outside US embassies around the world, activists would achieve more for people living with disease if they targeted African governments instead. But when the world's AIDS experts meet in Bangkok Thailand this week for the global AIDS conference, more attacks on US policy can be expected." (Roger Bate & Richard Tren, TCS)

"MPs to call for free online access to science journals" - "A powerful group of MPs will this week call for legislation to force scientific publishers to make their journals available free of charge on the internet. The recommendation will be included in a report by the House of Commons Science and Technology select committee, which will call on the government to support so-called 'open access' websites that do not levy a charge." (The Observer)

"Give Facts A Chance - How a Campaign of Misinformation Deprives American Smokers of Facts They Should Hear About Smokeless Tobacco" (PDF) - "Summary: A growing body of scientific evidence shows that smokeless tobacco products are significantly safer than smoking. But the anti-tobacco movement does not want the public to know about this safer tobacco alternative. (Dr. Brad Rodu, Capital Research Center)

"Briton sues US giant over 'uranium poison'" - "A former British defence worker has won legal aid to sue the giant US military corporation Honeywell over claims that he was poisoned by depleted uranium while working at its Somerset factory. The case is likely to have far-reaching implications for Gulf war veterans, aerospace workers and civilians living in former war zones." (The Observer)

"'Gulf War syndrome' probe starts" - "An independent inquiry is due to begin into the causes of a range of debilitating illnesses suffered by veterans of the first Gulf War. A former Lord Justice of Appeal, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, who is heading the probe has promised it will succeed. It aims to establish the facts about Gulf War illnesses and resolve the long-standing dispute over the causes." (BBC News Online)

Given that there is no "Gulf War Syndrome" (GWS) as such, finding its cause will continue to be problematic. Ill many Gulf War veterans certainly are but, crucially, less so than the general population (possible benefit of service-induce fitness and sound nutrition) and identically stricken by various morbidities when considered against non-deployed cohorts. With the greatest of respect for all who serve, GWS just doesn't exist.

"Gulf veterans report more illnesses" - "The largest survey of Gulf war veterans confirms that they report far more illnesses than personnel who were never deployed there. They are more likely to report mood swings, memory loss, loss of concentration, night sweats, fatigue and sexual dysfunction, according to research to be published tomorrow. But researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that fewer of those questioned actually believed they had "Gulf war syndrome" than another study three years ago - fewer than 6% against more than 17%. More than four in 10, however, were unsure of whether they had Gulf-related illnesses." (The Guardian)

"Experts fear US pollution plume could be killing Britons" - "SCIENTISTS are tracking a plume of airborne pollution from the United States which they say could be killing people in Britain. The team will fly to the Azores this morning to monitor harmful ozone and particles as they cross the Atlantic. The scientists believe emissions from US vehicles and power stations may be broken down into harmful ozone and particles as they cross the Atlantic, possibly killing hundreds of people each year in Britain alone." (The Herald)

Cluster, schmuster... "The village living in fear as mysterious cancer epidemic strikes 12 in one street" - "It is a story which has been repeated up and down the quiet, residential avenue the couple called home for more than 30 years, and throughout the village of Chapelhall. Almost every one of its 5,000 or so residents fear a "cancer epidemic" is claiming the lives of family, friends and neighbours." (Independent)

"Virus 'linked to breast cancer'" - "Scientists say there is growing evidence that a virus may play a role in the development of breast cancer. Tests by researchers in the United States have found signs of a virus called MMTV in tissue taken from women with the disease. But writing in the journal Cancer, they said there were geographical variations in the numbers testing for the virus. The UK charity Breast Cancer Care said more research is needed to determine if there is a link." (BBC News Online)

"Living in the Vortex of MMR Vaccine Controversy" - "While Medical Experts Dispute Findings, Doctor Sees Possible Link to Autism" (Washington Post)

What controversy? Wakefield is dead flat wrong.

Gasp! Ban soy immediately! "Chemicals, aggression linked / Endocrine disrupters shown to promote violent behavior" - "Researchers have discovered that endocrine disrupters not only delay the development of the nervous system and cognitive functions of mammals, but also cause abnormal behavior.

Chemicals that disturb the endocrine system of humans and other animals are known to be capable of reducing fertility or delaying or inducing hormonal changes.

It is unusual for reports on the study of brain functions and the nervous system to be released in such quick succession, but researchers have stepped up their efforts to determine what role endocrine disrupters play in the abnormal behavior of children, such as the sixth-grade primary school girl in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, who allegedly used a box cutter to kill a classmate in June." (The Yomiuri Shimbun)

All that phytoestrogen disturbing the endocrine system of humans is turning them into savages! It's probably the real cause of mad cows! Ban tofu, before they kill again!

"Pollution 'changes sex of fish'" - "A third of male fish in British rivers are in the process of changing sex due to pollution in human sewage, research by the Environment Agency suggests. A survey of 1,500 fish at 50 river sites found more than a third of males displayed female characteristics. Hormones in the sewage, including those produced by the female contraceptive pill, are thought to be the main cause. The agency says the problem could damage fish populations by reducing their ability to reproduce." (BBC News Online)

"China shares global obesity problem" - "SHANGHAI: For Chinese raised in an era of food rationing, with memories of days of grumbling, empty bellies, long food lines and dusty piles of winter cabbage, buying groceries these days is truly like being a kid in a candy shop.

Shelves burst with choices - crackers, cookies, chocolates, chips. Tubs of dried fruit, jelly and pudding line crowded aisles. Traditional pastries packed with lard, egg yolks and bean paste are no longer once-a-year treats but handy snacks.

Small wonder that tens of millions of Chinese - members of a culture so food-focused that "Have you eaten yet?" is one way of saying hello - have joined the global epidemic of obesity that has left one in four human beings overweight." (AP)

"Food firms fight to see off the 'fat tax'" - "FOOD producers stung by criticism that they are contributing to Britain’s obesity epidemic are rushing to develop low-fat, low-calorie alternatives to popular brands in a bid to head off tough new government controls, the threat of a "fat tax" and potential US-style lawsuits.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) this week said the industry had two years to improve its record on promoting products to children, while in May the Commons health committee made 69 recommendations for urgent government intervention.

Now a number of major companies are fighting back, with efforts to limit calorie and fat intake and encourage exercise. Coca-Cola this week launched an anti-obesity programme, Active Lifestyle, which aims to encourage healthy living. Significantly, the scheme includes a pledge for more responsible sales and marketing. Earlier this year, the company agreed to remove advertising from vending machines in secondary schools." (The Scotsman)

Right... "Gardeners critical over slug protection laws" - "A new animal welfare law that will offer slugs and snails the same protection as cats and dogs was condemned by gardeners yesterday.

Legislation to be announced by the Government this week will give courts the power to impose fines of up to £20,000 and 12 months in jail on people found guilty of mistreating animals. Anyone under the age of 16 will be banned from owning a pet and goldfish will no longer be allowed to be given as prizes at fairgrounds.

The legislation could lead to gardeners being fined for killing insects, worms, caterpillars, slugs and snails, if scientific evidence proves they have suffered pain and distress. Ministers say the law, which updates existing legislation, is needed to protect animals from abuse. Horticulturalists rejected the idea that they could be guilty of cruelty." (Sunday Telegraph)

"BYU fire prompts fears of ecoterrorism" - "SALT LAKE CITY -- Federal officials say they are worried about a spike in ecoterrorism in Utah after arson damaged a Brigham Young University building, the latest in a string of incidents in which authorities suspect extremists." (Associated Press)

This is illuminating: "Activists Protest Plan to Light Alpine Peak" - "BERLIN - Local politicians and environmental activists are protesting Swiss chocolate manufacturer Milka's plans to bathe Germany's highest mountain in beams of purple light, the brand's trademark color." (Reuters)

"How a century of destruction has laid bare the world's rainforests" - "It is estimated that an area of rainforest the size of Poland - some 78 million acres of land - is destroyed each year by logging, mining, farming, fire and other human activities." (Independent on Sunday)

I love the way these little propaganda pieces are written. Take, for example: "Rainforests cover about 2 per cent of the earth's surface..." Sounds like a tiny remnant doesn't it? Let's look at it from a slightly different perspective, by ignoring oceans (~71%), Antarctica and Greenland (~5%) and suddenly we're talking about 8% of the habitable continents (not bad considering only about 10% of Earth's land surface is arable). Viewed that way there's almost as much rainforest as cropland. So, how big is "about 2 per cent of the earth's surface"? More than 10million Km2 actually (~4million square miles). So, our 'destroyed' 78million acres is from a total of ~2.5billion or ~3%. Is it actually 'destroyed'? Probably not, fire is necessary for forestland regeneration and certainly in the tropics forest reclaims open space rapidly (try maintaining open grassland - it's hard work).

Funny enough, you don't hear much about North Queensland's endangered open eucalypt woodland and savannah habitats, or the problems faced by our National Parks & Wildlife Service - seems since Australia's earliest migrants' descendants have abandoned traditional burning and hunting techniques the rainforest is taking over once again, squeezing out those species that depend on savannah and open woodland. Species and habitats endangered by voraciously expanding rainforests just don't seem able to capture the media's attention.

Imagine that... "Hawaiian bird stages mysterious comeback" - "Nature rather than man may be saving a small, rare green bird in Hawaii from the brink of extinction. Until 10 years ago, the Hawaiian Amakihi could live only in high-elevation forests after it was driven almost completely from its primary habitat in lower regions by the spread of avian malaria. But scientists have discovered the Amakihi is thriving and breeding once again in its original habitat. What's unusual is that the resurgence is happening outside of any captive-breeding program or other human intervention." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Turning to Sea Water to Satisfy an Ever Thirstier Europe" - "Growing population centers in Europe and climbing global temperatures are putting a strain on the continent's already stretched water resources. Desalination facilities are increasing being seen as one solution." (Deutsche Welle)

Changing like the, um... weather: "Europe plagued by snow and heatwaves, Romanian death toll climbs" - "Extreme temperatures, which have killed at least 22 people in Romania in the space of a week, continued to plague Europe on Sunday, with Greece sweltering in a heatwave and an open-air performance of Verdi's "Traviata" canceled in Italy.

Four people, two of them teenage shepherds, were struck by lightning in Romania at the weekend, when a heatwave that had killed at least 18 people during the week gave way to hailstorms and gale-force winds, the interior ministry said on Sunday.

Fierce winds damaged 400 houses, mainly in the north, ripped up trees and cut power supplies to 300 areas, while hailstorms destroyed 4,600 hectares (11,360 acres) of crops, a ministry official said.

Storms that had provoked floods and power cuts in Britain and Germany during the week turned to snow in the Bavarian mountains on Sunday.

Germany's highest mountain, the Zugspitze, was covered in two meters (six feet seven inches) of snow after 10 centimeters fell since Saturday and the mercury dipped to an unseasonally cold minus six degrees Celsius (21 degrees Fahrenheit), meteorologists said.

In Italy, the opening night of a new production of Verdi's "Traviata" at Verona's Roman amphitheatre was interrupted after seven minutes because of stormy weather, leaving 12,000 people fuming with anger.

Northeast Italy was hit by unseasonally chilly weather over the weekend and snow in the Italian Alps.

In France, where nearly 15,000 people died in an extended heatwave last year, summer 2004 continued to be a rain-drenched washout." (AFP)

"Analysis: Satellite will help eye warming" - "PASADENA, Calif., July 9 -- All systems were go Friday for the weekend launch of a Delta II rocket set to carry into a new satellite into orbit that scientists expect will provide a wealth of new information on the increasingly controversial subject of global warming.

The Aura satellite is scheduled to blast off during the wee hours of Sunday morning from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It is equipped with cutting-edge scanning instruments that will monitor the various layers of the atmosphere and how they interact with pollutants that include the greenhouse gases that may or may not be causing Earth's climate to heat up.

Climate scientists can always use new and improved data, but the Aura mission's greatest value may be in the political arena where policy makers remain in the middle of a battle between environmentalists who insist global warming is a genuine threat and skeptics led by some in the business community who dismiss the entire concept as junk science." (United Press International)

"Prehistoric clues put greenhouse accomplices in dock" - "It was a time when horses and rodents first evolved, monkeys took their first swings in the trees and grasslands spread across Earth. But the Eocene epoch was also distinguished by a remarkable climatic catastrophe: one that has dramatic implications for mankind. Fifty million years ago, temperatures soared to unprecedented levels and the seas became a staggering 12C hotter than today. But researchers have found this massive warming had little to do with carbon dioxide, the main cause of today's climate changes. The trigger was instead rising levels of methane, ozone and nitrous oxide, gases that are accorded relatively scant attention by current climate treaties." (The Observer)

See also: That Hardy Perennial: 'Fart from the Madding Crowd'... (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Illarionov Attacks Britain, Vows to Bury Kyoto" - "President Vladimir Putin's personal adviser on all things economic last week accused British Prime Minister Tony Blair's government of declaring "all-out and total war on Russia" and using "bribes, blackmail and murder threats" to force it to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

In a six-hour diatribe, Andrei Illarionov accused visiting Blair adviser Sir David King, the British government's top scientist, of trying, through pressure from Blair's office and through Foreign Secretary Jack Straw personally, to hijack a two-day conference on the global environmental treaty at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

"During the past year [the British] have used bribes, blackmail and murder threats to put pressure on Russia, which shows how desperate their case is," Illarionov said without elaborating. "This has not been in the realm of the press, but it had to come out after Sir David King's behavior at the conference," he said.

King filibustered the conference for four hours in an effort to block opponents of the protocol from presenting their findings, Illarionov said." (The Moscow Times)

"Jet exhaust may be adding to global warming" - "HAMPTON, Va. - Next time you're on a plane, think of this: The plane's exhaust might be adding just enough moisture to the atmosphere to create a cloud and keep it floating.

That cloud could stretch 1,000 miles long and 37 miles wide, depending on the weather and your flight distance.

Add that cloud to all the other clouds produced by airplane exhaust, and it creates a blanket effect - trapping heat that's radiating from the Earth. The end result: warmer temperatures on the surface.

In other words, your flight might be contributing to the greenhouse effect." (KRT)

"Extinction theory: It's still alive!" - "'One-quarter of all species, approximately, will be extinct or going extinct by mid century, thanks to human-induced global warming ..."

No one could fail to be alarmed by this claim, which appeared on this page yesterday in a piece about the boffo environmental credentials of prospective first lady Teresa Heinz Kerry. The author was Jan Lundberg, publisher of a marginal leftist organ named Culture Change Letter (We weren't being sensationalist by reproducing his article, by the way, just ironic).

Mr. Lundberg's claim about species extinction was by no mean manufactured, at least by him. Its source was a study last January in the "respected" journal Nature. This study declared, sort of, with lots of qualifications, that between 18% and 35% of the species studied could be "committed" to extinction by the year 2050.

Not surprisingly, the media weren't looking for the caveats when they broadcast the story. Biotic holocaust here we come. Kyoto or else.

The journalistic treatment of the Nature study was subsequently the subject of a paper by four members of the Biodiversity Research Group at Oxford University's School of Geography and the Environment. Its title was Crying wolf on climate change and extinction. It began, "Science needs to learn how to deal with increasingly sensationalist mass media."

But what the Oxford paper really revealed was that the media should learn how to deal with sensationalist scientists." (Peter Foster, Financial Post)

Due to 'global warming,' apparently: "On thick ice - Mt. Shasta glaciers growing" - "MT. SHASTA — Scramble beyond the last gnarled pine clinging to life in the thin air, and you’ll find a different kind of life here. Icy giants are quietly slinking along high on the stark slopes of Shasta, carving valleys and ledges and, in one case, creeping down the mountain at a speedy 4 inches a day. They are glaciers, and they are growing." (Record Searchlight) | Mountain's snowfields could harbor answers to global warming questions (Record Searchlight)

"Climate Change Worse for the South" - "BUENOS AIRES, Jun 10 - The forecast of a United Nations agency about the impacts of climate change on Latin American and Caribbean agriculture by 2080 seems to be taken straight from the story of the Apocalypse." (Tierramérica)

"Climate change: India faces rough ride" - "Global climate change is likely to result in severe droughts and floods in the world's biggest democracy, with major impacts on human health and food supplies, according to India's report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

And India is not alone, according to other reports available on the Science and Development Network. An earlier UN report from Namibia predicts "extreme" impacts on water, fish stocks and agriculture in Southern Africa, resulting in economic hardship, food security problems, social conflict, displacement and increased disease." (Mail & Guardian)

What is really distressing is that these scares are being proliferated at a time when we still cannot determine how much alleged warming is simply an artefact of changing measurement (urbanisation of near-surface sampling sites, basically), especially when so little is evident in the near-global satellite measures. Even if, as seems likely, some recovery from the LIA is still occurring, what portion of the warming, if any, is attributable to anthropogenic effect? A great deal is asserted, sadly far more than is known, about global weather anticipated decades hence. We still can't predict moderately-well understood phenomena such as the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), let alone the North Atlantic (NAO), Pacific Decadal (PDO) and (suspected) Southern Indian Ocean (SIO) Oscillations. Climate model 'predictions'? Hah! We still don't know what parameters to model. Attributing a human fraction when we don't understand climate forcing at all well is about as silly as it gets and frightening less-developed countries into misdirection of precious effort and resources on the basis of fabrications and fantasies is completely irresponsible.

Time to wake up people! There is no zero-cost, 'better safe than sorry' position available in the promotion of fevered fantasies - misdirected effort causes severe harm and hardship in impoverished regions. To put that even more bluntly, creating hysteria over a phantom menace is effort theft and that theft results in death and misery. If (and it's a very big 'if') there's any validity in the enhanced greenhouse disaster hypothesis then the best (only?) protection available to impoverished regions is wealth generation, i.e., the development of infrastructure so that people may relatively easily adapt to change. Even if (when) the oft-promoted disaster does not materialise such development and wealth-generation will have improved rather than burdened the lives of currently impoverished people - now that's a zero-cost, 'better safe than sorry' course I can live with. So, what's it to be: fear-mongering, poverty and misery or; development, improving health and lifestyles? Development assistance and increased global trade, anyone?

"Bravo! 'Global warming' - Professor David Bellamy tells it as it is..." (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Oil Fields: Cold Storage for Greenhouse Gases?" - "July 9, 2004 — Canadian geologists may have found the perfect place to hide all those troublesome greenhouse gases: old oil fields. By pumping carbon dioxide into emptied natural oil reservoirs, they hope not only to keep the global warming gas out of the atmosphere, but also to force up remaining oil that couldn't be extracted any other way." (Discovery News)

"In Search of New Power Source, City Looks Underwater" - "They look like underwater windmills. And in late August, when six of them are dropped into the rapid currents of the East River alongside Roosevelt Island, these giant "tidal turbines" will begin harvesting about 150 kilowatts of electricity.

If all goes well, an entire underwater wind farm of 200 to 300 sleek 15-feet-tall turbines will discreetly spin under the surface of the river by 2006, providing about 10 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 8,000 homes." (New York Times)

"Underwater wind farm"? Sounds a gas...

"Two Exelon nukes clear hurdle to license renewals" - "NEW YORK - The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission found no environmental reasons to reject the proposed 20-year renewals for the operating licenses for Exelon Corp.'s Dresden and Quad Cities nuclear power plants in Illinois." (Reuters)

"Nobel prize-winner's reactor offers safer, cleaner nuclear power" - "A revolutionary nuclear reactor that can recycle its own waste is being studied by the Government as a future source of energy for Britain." (Sunday Telegraph)

"New nuclear power station for Scotland" - "IN A major U-turn on energy policy, Scotland is in line to have a new nuclear power station built in order make sure that Britain can reduce its output of greenhouse gases without Californian-style massive power cuts.

The two front-runners for the new stations are the current nuclear power station sites of Hunterston in Ayrshire and Chapelcross, at Annan, in Dumfries and Galloway, with Torness in East Lothian as the outsider.

The move has come in the wake of Tony Blair admitting to MPs that Britain is likely to need a new generation of nuclear power stations in order to meet the challenge of climate change.

Previous energy policy had targeted renewables such as wind farms to make up the shortfall in supply caused by the need to reduce harmful carbon dioxide emissions." (Scotland on Sunday)

Apologising for success? "Harvest prayers to include apology for global inequality" - "Church of England harvest festival services could soon expect worshippers not only to thank God for an abundant crop but also to repent for sins against the environment and for oppression and inequality." (Daily Telegraph)

"England's green and plastic land" - "The strawberries are bright red, almost perfectly shaped, and undeniably tasty. "Try another," says Mark Hall, co-owner of Tuesley Farm in Surrey, as fresh-faced students from Eastern Europe pack the fruit in punnets destined for the shelves in Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose.

Above the fruit-pickers' heads are large plastic covers protecting the rows of strawberries from the rain. Known as polytunnels, they are dull white, shaped like long aircraft hangars and, unlike the strawberries, they have left a very unpleasant taste in the mouths of countryside campaigners and local residents." (Sunday Telegraph)

Interesting: "Supermarkets reject prince's 'dull' potatoes" - "First his organic carrots were rejected by supermarkets because they were too crooked. Now the Prince of Wales is to supply schools with potatoes from his organic farm because they are not shiny enough for food stores. In a deal struck with South Gloucestershire county council, the prince will provide local schools with 100 tons of Cara and Cosmos potatoes grown at Home Farm near Tetbury, Gloucs. The prince turned to the council after learning that his produce failed to meet the criteria of large supermarkets." (Daily Telegraph)

If it was any other huge (not to mention wealthy) agrobusiness, the banner would probably read something along the lines of: "Scandal - Reject food dumped on our children", "School lunches made from big business rejects" or even "Students fed animal feed" (outgrades are frequently fed to livestock but the price is naturally significantly lower than produce for human consumption). Why not "Prince dumps low-grade food on our kids"? Double standard here, eh?

Tell it to your plants Charlie: "HRH the Prince of Wales: Small is hazardous" - "I am well aware that promoting public debate about nanotechnology is an uncertain business. My first gentle attempt to draw the subject to wider attention resulted in "Prince fears grey goo nightmare" headlines. So, for the record, I have never used that expression and I do not believe that self-replicating robots, smaller than viruses, will one day multiply uncontrollably and devour our planet. Such beliefs should be left where they belong, in the realms of science fiction. The important thing is to get on with the sensible debate that should accompany the introduction of such technologies which work at the level of the basic building blocks of life itself." (Independent on Sunday) | Prince warns against new 'thalidomide' disaster (Independent on Sunday) | One will not be silenced: Charles rides into battle to fight a new campaign (Independent on Sunday) | Prince sounds new nanotech alert (The Guardian)

"Long may She reign over us..." (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Scientists attack Prince's little grey cells" - "THE Prince of Wales received a stinging rebuke from the scientific community yesterday after declaring that ongoing research into nanotechnology could result in a thalidomide-style disaster.

Writing in a Sunday newspaper, Prince Charles drew a direct link between nanoscience, the groundbreaking study of matter a millionth of a millimetre wide, to a medical catastrophe which led to thousands of children being born with deformities.

He also used the article to highlight his concern at the “self-assembly of natural processes”, reviving suggestions that surfaced last year that he believes a “grey goo” could overrun the Earth.

His intervention prompted nanoscientiststo say he was a danger to progress and had a “primal fear of technology”. They cautioned that the Prince’s involvement could jeopardise the expected benefits from nanotechnology, including cancer-fighting drugs and greater fuel efficiency." (The Times)

"Orange banana to boost kids' eyes" - "It looks like a fat carrot, but it is actually a banana. And it is so rich in precursors to vitamin A that researchers hope it could prevent children from going blind in the Pacific islands of Micronesia. Dubbed the "karat" because of its bright orange flesh, the unusual banana has been used for centuries in Micronesia to wean infants onto solid food. But today it is rarely eaten there, as imported foods have grown in popularity. That now looks set to change. A screening programme sponsored by the agriculture ministry of Pohnpei, a Micronesian island, has established that the karat is unusually rich in beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. The hope is that the fruit could now be routinely given to children deficient in this vitamin, to help them avoid developing certain kinds of blindness." (New Scientist)

Wonder if the anti-biotech flakes will make the same absurd claims about this 'natural' (organic?) beta-carotene source as they do over Golden Rice.

"Zimbabwe's harvest 'insufficient'" - 'Zimbabwe's harvest will not meet the country's food needs and it will be forced to import food, the UN says. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says the country faces a shortfall of 325,000 tons of cereals this year. The Zimbabwean government has predicted a record harvest of 2.4 million tons of maize. But FAO says it expects the harvest to be less than half that figure - around a million tons of cereal crops. It says erratic rainfall, a shortage of quality seeds, deep poverty and a mismanaged land reform programme are behind the poor harvest." (BBC News Online)

"BASF chief impatient with Europe's fear of innovation" - "BASF, the world's largest chemical company, may move its genetically modified crop research to the US unless Europe becomes more receptive to new technologies.

Jürgen Hambrecht, chief executive, said the German chemicals giant could not afford to keep investing in research if there was no market for its products.

"If you can no longer push innovation through to the market, the next step will be that R&D will go. You will transfer R&D to a place where you can really push innovation into reality, because we need to earn money, we cannot only spend money," he told the Financial Times.

GM crop research accounts for only a small fraction of BASF's activities. But Mr Hambrecht's warning about the danger of economic stagnation posed by Europe's "zero risk" attitude comes only days after Syngenta decided to end large-scale commercial research into genetically-modified crops in the UK." (Financial Times)

"Winegrowers balk at modified grapes" - "PARIS -- French vintners are sounding the alarm about what they see as another threat to their centuries-old winegrowing traditions -- genetically modified grapes. Earth and Wine of the World, an association that includes nearly 400 French winegrowers, is worried about a government research project to tinker with grape genes. It's a serious concern in a land where the average person over 14 drinks a quarter-bottle of wine a day, and where genetically modified crops are often derided as "Frankenfoods." "It is of utmost importance that the future of our profession is not determined solely under the influence of scientists, industrialists and technocrats," the group said in a statement Thursday after meeting in Paris to draw up a plan of action." (Associated Press) | French wine-makers fight GM vines trial (The Guardian)

"Forget toiling in the garden, scientists are splicing a stronger plant" - "The potted rhododendron Mark Brand picks up in his University of Connecticut laboratory pretty much looks like a regular plant. But in its genes are proteins that came from frogs -- and it may well represent the future of gardening.

It's one of several rhododendrons Brand has genetically treated by splicing the protein into the plant's cells. He hopes the protein, discovered a few years ago by a pharmaceutical company, will make the plant more resistant to disease.

Brand specializes in ornamental horticulture, a field that seems a perfect match for genetic engineering. He's one of several scientists working toward a more durable garden. Brand, who tends to his own garden at home, would one day like to develop a deer-resistant plant. Others hope to change the look and smell of our gardens by playing with flowers' colors and fragrances." (Hartford Courant)

"Genetic Contamination of Mexican Maize" - "Scientists from Mexico, Canada and the United States met on March 11th this year in the Hotel Victoria in Oaxaca for a symposium on the effects and possible risks of the presence of genetically modified maize in Mexico. The furtive and growing presence of this maize has been documented in small plots of land belonging to rural workers first in the southern State of Oaxaca and more recently throughout the whole country. This discovery could have serious implications for agricultural biodiversity since maize is the third most important crop in the world after wheat and rice and Mexico is the center of its origin and diversity." (zmag.org)

"Enlisting bacteria in fight against disease" - "Perhaps it's not surprising that the venture capitalists on Sand Hill Road seemed a bit hesitant when Stanford University immunologist Dr. Peter Lee pitched his fledgling company's business plan. After all, he was talking about making billions of genetically engineered bacteria that would colonize women's vaginas to fight AIDS. The genetic engineering part was understandable. But bacteria? Billions of them? Colonizing vaginas? ``We haven't gotten a good reception,'' said Lee, a co-founder of Santa Clara-based Osel. ``It's something completely novel.'' (Mercury News)

July 9, 2004

"Injustice at the Justice Department" - "Republicans are criticizing John Kerry's choice for vice president because of John Edward's trial lawyer background and connections. I'm hoping that maybe someone in the Bush administration will take this criticism to heart and do something about the most egregious trial lawyer operation of all time — the Bush administration's Department of Justice." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"McDonald's sued over its french fries" - "SAN FRANCISCO -- McDonald's Corp. was hit with a lawsuit Thursday accusing the fast-food giant of failing to reduce fat in the cooking oil used in its french fries and other foods. Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's pledged in September 2002 to switch to a lower-fat oil by February, 2003. The suit, filed in federal court on behalf of a California woman, says McDonald's has not disclosed "to the public in an effective manner that it had not switched to a new, healthier cooking oil." The restaurant chain had announced it planned to cut the trans fat levels in its fried foods. But McDonald's has delayed the plan, citing concerns of product quality and customer satisfaction." (AP)

"'You may have overstepped the mark' cancer expert warns Prince of Wales" - "In this week's BMJ, a leading breast cancer expert warns the Prince of Wales that he may have overstepped the mark with his public support for alternative medicine." (BMJ-British Medical Journal)

Also in the BMJ - here's some rapid responses to an alleged 'study' highlighted last week: Rapid Responses to: Passive smoking and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: prospective study with cotinine measurement which media reports confused with demonstrated causation.

"The Mental Demons of War" - "If you know of the infamous face slap in the film Patton, you know that war-related psychiatric problems have long provoked controversy and sometimes been blamed on cowardice. It doesn't help that what's collectively known as "post-traumatic stress disorder" (PTSD) doesn't show up on X-rays, brain scans, or blood tests." (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

Hubristically: "Humans may surpass other natural forces as earth movers" - "Think of large earth moving projects: highway interchanges, coal mines or Boston's Big Dig. According to Roger LeBaron Hooke, a University of Maine scientist, such activities have propelled humans into becoming arguably the most potent force in shaping the planet, surpassing rivers, wind and other natural phenomena." (University of Maine)

A few cold centuries, a few of the monster storms of millennia gone by, a period of enhanced volcanic activity... where then the insignificant scratchings of people?

"Dems Delete Support for Kyoto" - "Warming" Pact Airbrushed Out of Party Platform

In an initial draft of its 2004 platform released this past Saturday, the Democratic Party has unveiled several positions certain to surprise its anti-Bush supporters in Europe. For example, the Democrats have elected not to describe the war in Iraq as a mistake or to call for the withdrawal of U.S. troops participating in the coalition effort. Also, and so far as only reported by the left-wing "DemocracyNow.org," "In a shift from the party's 2000 platform, the Democrats have dropped a reference to endorsing the Kyoto treaty on global warming." http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/07/06/1426204" (Christopher Horner, OpinionEditorials.com)

"Precipitate Modeling" - "Global precipitation is a fundamental measure of climate. Despite humans’ alteration of the atmosphere’s chemical composition, researchers remain unable to identify any impact this change is having on global precipitation rates. Despite claims to the contrary, there are no unusual floods or droughts plaguing the globe. While it is true that at any given time many places on earth experience drought or flooding, this reflects normal patterns of climate variability.

Preoccupation with climate change can lead the unwary to make connections where none exist. A paper by Nathan Gillet and three colleagues in the June 2004 edition of Geophysical Research Letters serves as a caution to those who attempt to link droughts and flooding to “global warming.” (GES)

The weekly Whipple: "Climate: Searching For The 'Dread Factor'" - "Boulder, CO Jul 6, 2004 - Many scientists and environmentalists would list global climate change among the most important issues facing the world today, but the general public seems to regard the subject as tedious.

The Gallup Organization reported in April, for example, that the public is, in effect, practically dozing on the issue. This is down from finding it a bit of a yawn a year earlier.

Climate change has a public relations problem. Despite the real and costly issues it raises, it is just the weather, after all, and people have had to handle the weather all of their lives.

Selling the public on the importance of climate change, then, requires a search for what National Center for Atmospheric Research senior scientist Michael Glantz calls the dread factor." (Dan Whipple, UPI)

"Tort Reform Should Not Be Held Up by Global Warming, Says Group; NCPA Experts Say McCain-Lieberman Proposal Misguided" - "WASHINGTON, July 8 -- A measure to control class-action lawsuits may be held hostage to global warming alarmism if the Senate is unable to end debate without having the measure loaded down with unrelated amendments. According to experts with the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), if cloture is not reached, tort reform may be brought down by a bill that has already been voted down by this Senate. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) filed their climate change bill as an amendment to the class-action bill earlier this week." (U.S. Newswire)

"Senate abandons class-action lawsuit bill" - "WASHINGTON -- Legislation that supporters said would target abuses of class-action lawsuits was rejected by the Senate on Thursday, a victim of election-year skirmishing between the two parties.

Proponents of the Class Action Fairness Act, which would have moved many lawsuits from state to federal courts, failed to get the 60 votes needed to proceed, effectively killing it for this legislative year. The vote was 44-43.

The bill itself had strong backing, but hit an impasse when Republican leaders denied Democrats attempts to link it to several of their major legislative priorities." (Associated Press)

"Scientist sets high target for emissions" - "Australia's Chief Scientist wants his country to halve its emissions of global warming gases by 2050 - a far bolder target than the Howard Government has adopted.

Dr Robin Batterham, who serves two days a week as Chief Scientist and three days a week as chief technologist for mining giant Rio Tinto, says he would have been happier if the Government had set such a target in an energy white paper which it issued last month.

But he told an international conference on sustainability engineering and science in Auckland on Wednesday that progress towards sustainability should be pragmatic rather than heroic.

He says western societies could not cope with a sudden swing away from the coal, oil and natural gas that fuel their industries and transport." (New Zealand Herald)

Stephen Hesse regurgitates Worrywart Inc.'s fantasies: "Renewable energy sources offer global chance to shed fossil fuels" - "As the leading national consumer of fossil fuels, the United States churns out almost a quarter of all the industrial carbon dioxide worldwide. Apologists say this is the price that must be paid in exchange for driving the global economy. Realists see such hubris as eventually undermining human viability on Earth through pollution and climate change.

U.S. inaction on its oil dependency is doubly frustrating because there are now "renewable" energy sources that offer practical alternatives to coal and oil. If the U.S. were to begin the switch to renewables now, there is every reason to expect a global win-win situation within decades, economically and environmentally." (Japan Times)

"INTERVIEW: Australia Miner Seeks To Fire Up Renewable Power" - "SYDNEY--With an abundance of coal and natural gas, Australia's relatively cheap energy cost structure has made the country a difficult proving ground for would-be producers of alternative power.

But armed with a geothermal mining license covering buried hot granite rocks in South Australia state's Cooper Basin, a small Brisbane-based company is attempting to source large-scale, low-cost and emission-free electricity from underground.

"The key driver here, from the economic (point of view), is heat," said Bertus de Graaf, a veteran of the Australian gold industry and now managing director of Geodynamics Ltd..

"To our knowledge, the Cooper Basin is the hottest spot on earth outside volcanic regions," he said of the area where Geodynamics now has a known energy resource equivalent to 50 billion barrels of oil.

By comparison, proven U.S. oil reserves amount to about 30 billion barrels, while Australia has roughly 3 billion.

Using conventional drilling technology and standard oil engineering techniques, Geodynamics' ultimate goal is to produce geothermal energy from its hot fractured rock (HFR) resource by heating water in the Cooper Basin's 250 degree Celsius granite and then converting it to electricity." (Dow Jones)

"Food scare could end practice of grazing sheep in orchards" - "A scene that epitomises the bucolic tranquillity of rural England - sheep grazing peacefully in the shade of a fruit tree - may be erased by the Government's food regulator. Under plans being considered, livestock may be banned from grazing in orchards amid fears that their dung causes food poisoning." (Daily Telegraph)

"Smoke Chemical That Causes Seed Germination Found" - "SYDNEY - Australian scientists have identified the chemical in smoke that makes plant seeds germinate after bushfires, a discovery that could reap huge benefits for the agricultural sector.

A team of Australian scientists has become the world's first research team to pinpoint the previously unknown chemical, called a butenolide, which induces germination in a range of plant species including celery, parsley and echinacea.

"This discovery represents one of the most significant advances in seed science with benefits in the natural, agricultural, conservation and restoration sciences," said Geoff Gallup, science minister in Western Australia state, on Friday." (Reuters)

"GMO-Food Foes Turn to Film" - "Last March, the food-safety organization GMO Free Mendocino did something no group had ever done: It ushered through a law banning genetically engineered crops and livestock.

It was a David-thrashes-Goliath victory. Opponents of the legislation, led by the agricultural trade group CropLife America, outspent the anti-GMO activists by a nearly 10-1 ratio. But GMO Free Mendocino had a secret weapon: a film, then a work in progress, called The Future of Food.

The new documentary, created by Deborah Koons Garcia, uses archival footage and interviews with farmers and agriculture experts to argue that GMO foods are jeopardizing our food safety. During the past 10 years, the film tells us, genetically engineered crops have infected our food supply and undermined cultivation methods that have been refined over thousands of years.

The Future of Food lays out a detailed case against genetically engineered crops. Exploring a gamut of issues from so-called suicide seeds to lax food-safety enforcement laws, and from the controversy over patented genes to infected cornfields, the film is a comprehensive and chilling example of anti-GMO rhetoric." (Jason Silverman, Wired News)

"Bioengineered beer gives Europe the shakes" - "COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Spurned across the continent by food-fastidious Europeans, the biotechnology industry has turned in its quest for converts to the ultimate ice breaker: genetically modified beer.

A consortium of the world's largest biotech companies led by Monsanto Co. helped fund a Swedish brewer's new light lager that's produced with the usual hops and barley -- and a touch of genetically engineered corn.

Brew master Kenth Persson hopes to profit from the notoriety his biotech brew is generating, while biotech companies hope it can gently sway consumers as European regulators slowly reopen the continent to genetically altered foods.

But those are tall orders to fill.

A series of food-related health scares in recent years, from mad cow disease to poisoned poultry, have stoked fears among many Europeans about so-called GM foods." (AP) | Kenth – The Ordinary Beer That’s Out of the Ordinary… (tvabryggare.se)

"Seed dealership operator favors GM wheat" - "MANHATTAN, Kan. - Betty Bunck believes it is in the best interest of Kansas wheat producers to accept genetically modified wheat.

Bunck, who operates a certified seed dealership and 2,700-acre farm in extreme northeastern Kansas, takes the same stance as the Kansas Wheat Commission and supports ongoing research for the release of GM wheat.

Bunck will be in Bismarck this weekend to attend the U.S. Wheat Associates board of directors summer meeting. The meeting begins Saturday and concludes Tuesday. She expects GM wheat will be a topic of discussion. The board will consider adoption of policy favoring biotech research in wheat." (The Minot Daily News)

"Designer meat" - "IN MANY countries, biotechnology and food are uneasy bedfellows. The wholesale rejection of genetically modified crops by consumers in much of Europe might have been expected to cause caution among firms interested in turning an honest buck from agricultural biotech. But as proponents of genetic modification are wont to point out, GM is as old as agriculture itself—for what is selective breeding for better plants and animals if it is not a form of genetic modification?" (The Economist)

"GMOs to Eradicate Poverty, Says Dept" - "The National Department of Agriculture says the use and application of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) will play a crucial role in eradicating poverty. However, the department has raised concerns that there are risks involved inthe application of biotechnology." (BuaNews (Pretoria))

July 8, 2004

"Silent Spring: RIP 2004" - "Summary: The fact that DDT saves lives might account for part of the hostility toward it." (Walter Williams, Capitalism Magazine)

"U.S. military preventing return of Baghdad Boil" - "It's hot in the Southern Iraqi desert and sand flies are returning. They bring with them "Baghdad Boil," a nasty disease, more properly known as cutaneous leishmaniasis." (Roger Bate, The Hill)

This is a study now? "Cough medicines 'have no benefit'" - "Two active ingredients in many cough medicines do little to speed recovery, US researchers have suggested." (BBC News Online)

100 kids with colds, split into 3 groups for 1 night, with 1 'treatment' and with results anecdotally reported. Right...

"Dope on a rope" - "In the battle against pseudoscience, the Advertising Standards Authority is another cheerfully toothless government body. But there is room, at least, for one man to worry a big corporation with a humiliatingly public rap on the knuckles. Teacher and Bad Science reader David Andrews complained to the ASA about the preposterous claim Cussons made about its Carex soap: that it can tell the difference between "good" and "bad" bacteria. Whatever they're supposed to be." (Ben Goldacre, The Guardian)

"A victim of its own success" - "Aspirin's ability not just to kill pain, but to prevent heart attacks and cancer too, is putting new research on its potential uses in danger, writes Diarmuid Jeffreys" (The Guardian)

"Blame lifestyle for myopia, not genes" - "Australian scientists have debunked the common perception that genetic susceptibility is the underlying cause of epidemics of short-sightedness in east Asia. They argue that increases in myopia are due to changes in lifestyle, as kids spend more time indoors on computers or watching TV. They say we could soon see similar levels of myopia in many western countries, as lifestyles there change." (New Scientist)

"Action urged on animal activists" - "Animal rights activists who use terror tactics should be prosecuted under the terror laws, Shadow Home Affairs Minister Jacqui Lait has said." (BBC News Online)

"Toxic Activism" - "According to the latest results from EPA's Toxics Release Inventory toxic releases rose 5 percent in 2002 when compared with the previous year. Environmental activists are practically jubilant, claiming this is the smoking gun showing that the Bush administration has rolled back environmental regulations and stopped enforcing the few that remain.

But reports of the death of environmental regulation are premature. The apparent increase in toxic releases results from emissions reported by a single copper smelter. The facility shut down in 2002, and dismantling it created "waste" required to be reported in the TRI. Excluding that one facility, toxic releases actually declined 3 percent in 2002." (Joel Schwartz, TCS)

"What Ernst Mayr Teaches Us" - "Ernst Mayr, the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology, Emeritus, at Harvard just turned 100 years old. He reaches this honorable age as one of the greatest evolutionary biologists of the 20th century. With his uncommonly lucid descriptive power, Mayr also writes graciously of modern biological sciences for the educated layperson.

Mayr clears away the mysticism protecting a speculation in biology, called Gaia, so that it can be cast as a testable, falsifiable scientific hypothesis." (Sallie Baliunas, TCS)

"New space-borne instrument to track greenhouse gases, ozone destroyers, and other pollutants" - "A powerful new instrument heading to space this Saturday is expected to send back long-sought answers about greenhouse gases, atmospheric cleansers and pollutants, and the destruction and recovery of the ozone layer. Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), University of Colorado, and University of Oxford developed the space-bound instrument." (National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research)

"EU Countries 'Dragging Feet' on Emissions" - "The EU head office said today only five EU states are ready to implement a 1997 United Nations accord next year limiting carbon-dioxide emissions and chided other members for dragging their heels. “I am disappointed some member states are slow in taking the measures necessary to ensure a smooth start,” EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom said in Brussels." (PA News)

"Kyoto Protocol: EU plan for carbon trading clears key hurdle" - "European Union ambitions to start trading in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions next year to help meet targets under the UN's global warming pact cleared an important hurdle in Brussels on Wednesday, the European Commission said.

The EU executive announced it had approved eight national plans for sharing out emissions for energy-intensive industrial plants, a vital preparatory step for setting up a "carbon market" next January." (EU Business)

Bog science: "Peat bogs harbour carbon time bomb" - "The world’s peat bogs are haemorrhaging carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, accelerating global warming, warns a UK researcher. And worse still, the process appears to be feeding off itself, as rising atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are triggering further releases from the bogs." (NewScientist.com news service)

"Arctic peat bogs still frozen, evidence suggests" - "WASHINGTON -- Water flowing down Arctic rivers contains mostly young carbon, evidence that ancient northern peat bogs haven't started thawing in recent high temperatures, a team of researchers has found. However, if temperatures continue to rise, the vast bogs will probably start dumping carbon. When combined with oxygen, that could boost atmospheric carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, according to the team's report." (Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)

"CO2: The Debate Heats Up" - "Is carbon dioxide an air pollutant? That will be the key issue in any legal challenge to California's proposed rules to reduce CO2 in auto exhaust. Carmakers argue that carbon dioxide is naturally occurring and nontoxic. That, they say, means it's not a pollutant -- which, more importantly, means California can't cite its clean-air laws to restrict CO2. They point, too, to an Environmental Protection Agency ruling last summer in which the agency reversed a Clinton-era rule declaring CO2 a pollutant and said that it had no business regulating it." (BusinessWeek Online)

"A warm welcome to the attitude change on global climate change" - "A couple of weeks ago, a speech on climate change was delivered at the Council on Foreign Relations, the New York think tank and publisher. "It would be too great a risk to stand by [and] do nothing," the speaker said. Fighting climate change later, when it becomes a serious problem, instead of now, while there's still some chance it can be controlled, could be "so disruptive as to cause serious damage to the world's economy." (Eric Reguly, Globe and Mail)

Much meaching and great gumming (Number Watch)

"California emissions plan irks carmakers" - "Some in Congress see proposal as state's attempt to regulate fuel economy of autos" (Detroit News)

"Go-ahead for offshore wind farm" - "Welsh Assembly Members have backed controversial plans for a large wind farm off the south Wales coast. After a public inquiry, the assembly's planning committee has approved the proposals for thirty 400ft turbines at Scarweather sands off Porthcawl. Opposition group SOS Porthcawl said its members were "distraught" at the recommendation, which may now have to be supported by the full assembly." (BBC News Online)

"Engineers aim to take the buzz out of air travel" - "Airport neighbours can look forward to the quiet life. David Hambling reports" (The Guardian)

"Mixed marriages: Cross-pollination produces fruit 'children' that aren't quite the same as mom and dad" - "Don't call these fruits mutants, clones, Franken-fruits or -- heaven forbid -- genetically modified. Hybrid is more acceptable. The industry prefers that you think of them as, well, exotic." (Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

"Opinions on biotech changing in Europe; more work to be done" - "A group of US Grains Council (USGC) and National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) leaders recently toured the European Union and Russia to gauge attitudes toward biotechnology. NCGA President Dee Vaughan says those attitudes have changed since a similar tour four years ago.

"We've seen some incremental progress, especially with the governments, but there is still much work to be done," Vaughan says. "These governments argued before that biotech acceptance was a food safety issue, but now most of them appear to understand that isn't the case. Now they're arguing that biotech crops can't co-exist with organic crops, so now we're addressing that concern."

While countries like Russia and Poland seemed more open to biotechnology, other nations like Austria appear as unreceptive as ever, according to Vaughan." (Agriculture.com)

"Bid to quell fears about GMOs in South Africa" - "The agriculture department sought to dispel fears about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in South Africa.

All GMOs in the country had gone through a rigorous assessment process taking into account human, animal and environmental safety factors, the department's director of genetic resources, Julian Jaftha, said in Pretoria.

"All GMOs that are available have gone through the same process and we are confident that all concerns have been adequately addressed," he told the Agricultural Writers Association.

"Not everything is just approved and put out there."

Jaftha described in detail how GMO licensing applications are processed, saying the emphasis was on access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food and the sustainable management of the country's natural agricultural resources.

The government believed biotechnology could play an important role in eliminating poverty and hunger, but also recognised the potential risks, he said." (Independent Online)

"Research finds GM cotton can cut pesticide use by half" - "New research has found genetically modified cotton can cut pesticide use by half, while boosting the crop's biodiversity. The CSIRO study shows over six years, growers who planted the Bt cotton variety reduced the need to spray for cotton's major pest, the helicoverpa moth.

Dr Gary Fitt says a new variety of Bt cotton is about to hit the market, which should reduce pesticide use even further. "With two-gene cotton, that reduction will be even more dramatic; in fact around 80 per cent reduction compared to conventional cotton. So growers are certainly saving a lot on pesticide costs. The last few years has certainly seen growers getting an economic benefit from Bt cotton. But I think the argument that's most important is that the environment has been benefiting right from the start, with much reduced pesticides." (Australian Broadcasting Corporation National Rural News)

"UK govt urged to set new rules for biotech crops" - "LONDON, July 8 - A parliamentary committee of ministers told the British government on Thursday that it cannot allow genetically modified (GMO) crops to be grown until it introduces concrete rules on planting. The government is expected to launch a consultation exercise on the issue over the next few weeks." (Reuters)

"Understanding public resentment towards biotech" - "It is too easy to blame the media, and its tendency to dumb down and sensationalise scientific discoveries, for the apparent public hostility towards biotechnology, say Italian researchers. They asked the question: if it isn’t scientific illiteracy and media alarmism causing this distrust, what or who is?" (Europa)

"One in two Slovaks think genetically modified food harms health" - "HALF of polled Slovaks think that genetically modified food has a negative effect on people’s health, the TNS agency told the SITA news wire.

The agency carried out the survey in May on a representative sample of 1,015 respondents to monitor the attitude of Slovaks towards modified foods. Slovakia's EU membership has automatically allowed the use of some genetically modified foods on Slovak territory.

The view that genetically modified food has a detrimental effect on health was held more often by younger people between the ages of 18 to 29 and 30 to 39, people with higher levels of education, and respondents living in larger cities - in Bratislava and Košice." (The Slovak Spectator)

July 7, 2004

"Political Games" - "Legislators around the country are trying to ban violent videogames as immoral. According to this AP report in Wired News:

"Pediatricians and psychologists have been warning us that violent video games are harmful to children," said Mary Lou Dickerson, a Democratic legislator in Washington state who wrote a law now being challenged in federal court -- banning the sale of some violent games to kids. 'I'm optimistic that the courts will heed their warnings.'

"Lawmakers in at least seven states proposed bills during the most recent legislative session that would restrict the sale of games, part of a wave that began when the 1999 Columbine High School shootings sparked an outcry over games and violence."

Actually, other psychologists disagree regarding videogames and violence. And why we should care what pediatricians think is beyond me -- what do they know about this stuff?" (Glenn Harlan Reynolds, TCS)

"The Good News About 'The Bad News' on Rx" - "Two stories appeared in the news recently that tried create alarm about modern therapeutic methods -- but had the opposite effect on me, and should on you too." (Gilbert Ross, ACSH)

"Retired judge to probe Gulf War illnesses" - "LONDON - A retired judge has launched a privately funded probe into why veterans of the 1991 Gulf War have become ill, but the government has not yet decided whether it will participate.

Lord Lloyd of Berwick, a former Law Lord, said yesterday an anonymous private donor had funded his inquiry to "assess the circumstances that have led to the ill health and in some cases death of over 6,000 British troops following deployment to the Gulf." (Reuters)

"Croatian skeletons reveal changing status of cancer in Europe across the centuries" - "Cancer incidence rates in the developed world are increasing each year and developing countries are also now showing an increased incidence of the disease. But how much were our ancestors affected by the disease? Research by Dr. Mario Slaus (Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts) suggests that the disease was very uncommon even in our recent ancestors, reinforcing the concept that cancer is a 'modern' disease, largely a consequence of our greater longevity." (Federation of European Cancer Societies)

"Vitamins Linked to Asthma; Activist Groups Silent" - "We noted in May that antioxidant vitamins may sometimes be harmful for the heart. In June, we reported that vitamin C use was linked to arthritis. Now, a study published in the July issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, tells us that multi-vitamin use within the first six months of life is associated with a higher risk for asthma in black infants. It also found that vitamin use at age three was associated with an increased risk for food allergies." (Jeff Stier, ACSH)

"Mountain tension" - "Under new EU law, vehicle manufacturers will be responsible for disposing of old cars from 2007. Meanwhile, as the government drags its feet on what happens in the interim, will the poorest people be forced to pay? By Paul Brown" (The Guardian)

"Recycling levels begin to droop" - "Recycling is so routine in America that many people don't think about it — or even do it at all. After recycling numbers soared for the past two decades, several states are cutting back, spending less money on programs and seeing participation level off for the first time." (USA Today)

Probably because there are more lucrative returns available for propaganda dollars - why spend on trash when you can really scare a donation out of people with threats of cooking the planet? No loss either - the whole 'emergency' was contrived and environmental 'benefit' almost entirely illusory (though some metals are cost/energy-effective to recycle).

By remarkable coincidence, hot sun, warm Earth: "Sunspots reaching 1,000-year high" - "A new analysis shows that the Sun is more active now than it has been at anytime in the previous 1,000 years. Scientists based at the Institute for Astronomy in Zurich used ice cores from Greenland to construct a picture of our star's activity in the past. They say that over the last century the number of sunspots rose at the same time that the Earth's climate became steadily warmer." (BBC News Online)

"US opposition to climate change is shifting -Blair" - "LONDON, July 6 - British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Tuesday he believed U.S. opposition to addressing the problem of climate change was softening, although London and Washington were still at odds over the issue.

Blair also said the United States was not the only culprit on climate change, singling out China and India as countries that need to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels." (Reuters)

"The Economic Hardship Act" - "Although the Senate defeated the McCain Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act last October by a vote of 43-55, Sen. McCain believes in a never say never legislative strategy. He has been campaigning, cajoling and coercing leadership, supporters and opponents in an effort to get his Act passed this summer. Just last week both McCain and Sen. Lieberman took their message to a conference on climate change that was jointly sponsored by Brookings Institute and Pew Center.

The central goal of the Climate Stewardship Act is a reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 2000 levels by 2010. This is a milder version of the international treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, which would reduce emissions to 1990 levels. It would presumably have correspondingly milder benefits in terms of global warming reductions in the next fifty years." (Roy Spencer, TCS)

"Challenging global warming consensus" - "Minnesota Senate committee recently held a hearing on global warming. But rather than provide diverse viewpoints — what I thought was the purpose of any legislative hearing — committee chairwoman Ellen Anderson, DFL-St. Paul, proclaimed the “scientific community’s consensus” exactly one minute into the two-hour hearing.

The declared “consensus” was global warming is a dire and impending threat. The “scientific community” was four University professors, who might as well have been the four horsemen of the apocalypse given all the doom and gloom they preached." (Bill Gilles, The Minnesota Daily)

Desperately seeking treatment for tinnitus , apparently: "Time to tackle industrial emissions" - "We write as former environment ministers to call upon the government to take tough measures to tackle the increasing threat of global climate change. The alarm bells are ringing loud and clear, and cannot be ignored." (Michael Meacher and John Gummer, The Guardian)

?!! "Eco sounding: Dutch courage" - "At last, a long overdue initiative on climate from the Dutch environment secretary, Pieter van Geel. He says his government will use its EU presidency to try to restart the international negotiations on further reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The Dutch would like the international community to declare it is in favour of a 30% reduction by the year 2020, compared to 1990 levels. Dutch industry was naturally horrified at the announcement but Van Geel was unmoved. His plan is the first positive proposal on climate change since the euphoria over the bogged down and yet to be ratified Kyoto agreement in 1997 (which would cut emissions from the developed world by 5.5% by 2010)." (Paul Brown, The Guardian)

Good grief! Where do they find these "environment secretaries/ministers"? Same place as Guardian enviro-scribes, it would appear. No word on what planet they're on but it sure doesn't seem to be this one.

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"The Disappearing Ice Fields of Glacier National Park" - "Are they really wasting away for the reason Al Gore once said they were, i.e., because of greenhouse gas emissions?  Or is that simplistic notion but a tunnel-vision expression of seriously myopic thinking?" (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Snow (Europe)" - "Real-world observations of snowfall trends in Europe are incompatible with IPCC and United Nations pronouncements regarding CO 2 -induced global warming and its effects on the continent's winter weather." (co2science.org)

"Tannins" - "What are they?  How are they influenced by CO 2 ?  Why do we care?" (co2science.org)

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: Downy Oak, Myrtle Oak, Norway Spruce and Yellow Birch." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"Climate Models: Are They Improving?" - "One would certainly hope so; but we must not forget the alternative: they could possibly be getting worse." (co2science.org)

"A 141-Year History of Annual Levels of the U.S. Great Lakes" - "Do the data provide any evidence of the catastrophic consequences typically predicted by climate alarmists to accompany what they describe as the unprecedented global warming of the past century?" (co2science.org)

"Fluxes of Water to and from the Sea" - "How well are they constrained by data and theory?  And what do they imply about changes in global sea level?" (co2science.org)

"Calcification Response of a West Atlantic Coral to Global Warming" - "Do rising temperatures and CO 2 concentrations retard the coral's calcification rate?  Or do they enhance it?" (co2science.org)

"CO 2 Enrichment Effects on a Plant-Herbivore Association" - "Which benefits more, the plant or the herbivore?" (co2science.org)

"European framework needed for emissions trading" - "Brussels, Belgium - WWF calls for a wider European framework to meet its Kyoto commitments to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions dramatically. This comes as the European Commission meets today to approve the National Allocation Plans (NAP) on emissions trading of seven EU countries. The global conservation organisation warns, however, that current plans allowing significant increases in CO2 emissions allow industry to contribute further to global warming." (WWF)

"Blair reignites nuclear debate" - "American lobbying adds to pressure as PM battles to keep controversial energy option on climate change agenda" (The Guardian)

"Storm of protest over planned windfarm" - "Up to 400 people protested yesterday against plans for one of the biggest windfarms and some of the tallest turbines ever planned for England, staging walks to show how the scheme will blight views from two national parks.

If a planning inspector agrees at an inquiry due next year, 27 wind turbines, each 115 metres (337ft) high, will rise on a ridge close to the M6 near Tebay, between the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales national parks." (The Guardian)

"Poor Lao farmers pin hopes on hydropower" - "NAKAI PLATEAU, LAOS – Three houses remain in this village where 100 families once lived and the scrubby forest is already beginning to reclaim the abandoned land. The other households have moved to a new village built from scratch.

Siang Song, a rice farmer, is about to join the exodus. A pinewood house and a plot within a paddy field await his family of nine. Like the others, Mr. Song plans to demolish his old house and haul the timber to the new site. "With assistance from the government, my poverty should be reduced," he says.

That's the promise held out by the developers of a giant hydroelectric dam on Nam Theun River, a tributary of the Mekong, that is slated to begin construction here next year. In the works for more than a decade, the Nam Theun 2 dam is designed to deliver 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy to Laos and Thailand, and earn much-needed currency for Laos, one of Asia's poorest countries." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"SUVs face tax attack" - "Hulking four-wheel-drive vehicles have come under fire in the United States for safety and fuel-efficiency issues. Now they are taking some heat in Europe - and politicians are listening.

France, Europe's fourth-biggest car market last year, is preparing to slap a tax of as much as €3200 ($5500) on cars that emit gases believed to contribute to global warming, a move that has stirred official calls for similar levies in Britain, Europe's second-largest car market. In recent weeks, London mayor Ken Livingstone called motorists who use four-wheel-drives in his city "complete idiots", while the Paris City Council has called for banishing the so-called sport utility vehicles to improve traffic flow.

The potential backlash in Europe comes two years after environmental and other advocacy groups in the US targeted SUVs as wasteful gas-guzzlers whose size and weight represent a safety threat in accidents. If carried out, Europe's new taxes could dash the plans of several car makers, including Volkswagen's Audi division and General Motors' Opel unit, which are preparing new SUVs to meet Europeans' increasing interest in the roomier vehicles, while fetching higher profit margins for car makers." (Stephen Power, Wall St Journal)

"ETHIOPIA: Meles defends genetically modified crops" - "ADDIS ABABA, - Africa should not reject genetically modified (GM) crops as a means of tackling its massive hunger, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said on Monday.

Speaking after an international summit on hunger, Meles said traditional technology and
biotechnology could be used in tandem. "Should we rule out GM crops or biotechnology as a weapon in our arsenal? No. Why should we rule out any technology? GM technology is like every [other] technology," Meles told journalists. "It could be used well, or it could be misused. The issue is how to use it well. I think it can be used well if is used safely and if it does not increase the already big power of huge multinationals at the expense of the small-scale farmer."

Prof Jeffrey Sachs, the special adviser to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs), agreed. "I think agro-biotechnology is an important tool that can add a lot to the food security and incomes of African farmers," Sachs said." (IRINnews Africa)

July 6, 2004

"French mad cow disease cases went undetected" - "A mad cow disease epidemic in France went completely undetected and led to almost 50,000 severely infected animals entering the food chain, according to a shocking report by French government researchers.

More than 300,000 cows contracted BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in the past 13 years, 300 times more than the number of officially recorded cases, say researchers at France's official Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm).

Their report reveals that while blustering French politicians blamed Britain for the emergence of the disease - and attempted to create a cordon sanitaire by banning imports of British beef - they failed to adopt measures to prevent a hidden epidemic at home.

Only in June 1996 was potentially dangerous bovine offal banned in France, almost seven years after Britain. Just four years ago, as France ignored a European Union ruling that British beef was safe again, infected cattle were still entering the food chain, the researchers say." (Sunday Telegraph) | The unrecognised French BSE epidemic - Abstract

Hmm... The Brits report some 200,000 cases of BSE and about 100 allegedly variant CJD cases while France supposedly had 300,000 'mad' cows, without restricting the beasts from the human food chain for an additional seven years. Number of so-called nvCJD cases in France, virtually none. Dose-response? Causation? Hmm... again.

"Universal mad-cow testing about politics, not science" - "Perhaps more than any state in the union, Washington knows the hysteria that can occur in connection with a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or "mad-cow disease."

As an animal scientist who has followed this issue and recognizes the near-zero risk that BSE poses in the U.S., it is troubling to consider all of the money and energy being diverted toward BSE instead of diseases that pose real risks, like influenza, which has killed thousands just in the U.S., and malaria, which affects millions worldwide.

The fact is, while it is important to be vigilant against animal diseases, there is no evidence that BSE is a cause for concern among Americans. Moreover, mandatory testing of all cattle for BSE, as some have proposed, will divert resources from more-productive uses and provide no additional safety assurance." (Jan R. Busboom, Seattle Times)

"What Journalists Want: Nine Things for Scientists to Think about Before Talking to Reporters" - "When I was in Seattle a few months ago at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Association of Science Writers, I asked a number of seasoned reporters what advice they have for scientists who speak with the press.

Here are some of their responses." (Jason Socrates Bardi, Scripps Research Institute)

Hysteria is contagious? "European Environmental Rules Propel Change in U.S." - "BRUSSELS - When Darcy White of Raytown, Mo., chose to breast-feed her baby daughter two years ago, she had never heard of brominated flame retardants. But after randomly participating in a study, she learned that her breast milk carried unusually high levels of the chemicals.

Since then, the Environmental Protection Agency has announced an agreement with chemical manufacturers to phase out the worst of these toxic compounds, which are present in a wide variety of consumer goods like furniture and computer monitors, and Congress is considering legislation to make the ban permanent.

But it was only after the chemicals had been banned here in Europe that sufficient political pressure built for a phaseout in the United States." (New York Times)

"Early vitamin use link to asthma" - "Children who take multivitamins may be at a greater risk of developing asthma and food allergies, research suggests. Researchers from the Children's National Medical Center in Washington say the reason for the apparent link is unclear. They believe vitamins may cause cell changes that increase the odds of an allergic reaction, but say as yet there is no proof this is the case." (BBC News Online)

"Bacterial toxin may protect infants from asthma" - "Children whose homes contain high levels of endotoxin, a bacterial compound that collects in house dust, may be less likely to develop eczema during their first year of life, according to a study led by a Children's Hospital Boston investigator. The study corroborates other recent work that supports the controversial "hygiene hypothesis." (Children's Hospital Boston)

[Gasp!] "Lazy Britons shun health warnings" - "Britains are leading increasingly sedentary lives and taking less exercise despite rising concern about obesity, campaigns to boost people's fitness and billions of pounds spent building sports centres, a survey reveals.

Fewer people are spending time walking, cycling, swimming or playing sport, prompting fears that the growing trend towards physical inactivity is behind the increase in the number of people who are seriously overweight." (The Observer)

"Fat: The Secret Life of a Potent Cell" - "They are the building blocks of flab, the wages of cheesecake, the bloated little sacks of grease that make more of us - more than we can fit into our pants. Scorned and despised, they are sucked out surgically by the billions from bulging backsides, bellies and thighs. But they are not without admirers." (New York Times)

"Animal research suggests plant estrogens in soy do not increase breast cancer risk" - "Research in monkeys suggests that a diet high in the natural plant estrogens found in soy does not increase the risk of breast or uterine cancer in postmenopausal women." (Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center)

Something that should (but almost certainly will not) quieten the 'endocrine disruptor' hand-wringing brigade. Why? Because phytoestrogens tend to be significantly more potent (often by many orders of magnitude) than the synthetic compounds causing such angst.

Doh! It just gets worse and worse! "Stone-eating bugs present monumental challenge" - "World-famous buildings in London once ravaged by acid rain are facing a new threat from bacteria and insects, flourishing in the capital's cleaner air, that eat into stone and wood." (Independent)

"CBI says 'sloppy' environmental laws are costing industry £4bn a year" - "Business leaders have attacked the government for landing industry with a £4bn annual bill through the introduction of "sloppy" environmental laws. A new report to be published today by the Confederation of British Industry claims that too many of the regulations aimed at protecting the environment are badly designed and poorly implemented." (The Guardian)

"As Humans Alter Land, Infectious Diseases Follow" - "MADISON - As people remake the world's landscapes, cutting forests, draining wetlands, building roads and dams, and pushing the margins of cities ever outward, infectious diseases are gaining new toeholds, cropping up in new places and new hosts, and posing an ever-increasing risk to human and animal health.

Writing this month (July 2004) in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, an international team of experts warns that widespread changes in the global landscape are providing new opportunities for dozens of infectious diseases, including scourges like malaria, dengue fever, Lyme disease, yellow fever, cholera, influenza, foot and mouth, and hemorrhagic fevers.

"Evidence is mounting that deforestation and ecosystem changes have implications for the distribution of many other microorganisms, and the health of human, domestic animal and wildlife populations," according to the report compiled by the Working Group on Land Use Change and Disease Emergence, an international group of infectious disease and environmental health experts." (University of Wisconsin)

High sticking: "Corrections to the Mann et al (1998) Proxy Data Base and Northern Hemisphere Average Temperature Series" - "UPDATE: July 1 2004: The Corrigendum in Nature today (July 1, 2004) by Professors Mann, Bradley and Hughes is a clear admission that the disclosure of data and methods behind MBH98 was materially inaccurate. The text acknowledges extensive errors in the description of the data set. Even more important is the new online Supplementary Information (SI) site, which concedes for the first time that key steps in the computations behind MBH98 were left out of (and indeed conflict with) the description of methods in the original paper.

These items were published on the instruction of the Editorial Board of Nature in response to a Materials Complaint that we filed in November 2003. That our complaint was upheld and the Corrigendum was ordered represents a vindication of our view that, prior to our analysis, there had been no independent attempt to verify or replicate this influential but deeply flawed study, something which was forestalled, at least in part, by inadequate and inaccurate disclosure of data and methods.

This is only the first step in resolving the dispute we initiated last fall. The Corrigendum and the SI contain the gratuitous claim that the errors, omissions and misrepresentations in MBH98 do not affect their results. If this were true, then a simple constructive proof could have been provided, showing before and after calculations. This is conspicuously missing from the Corrigendum and the new SI. We have done the calculations and can assert categorically that the claim is false. We have made a journal submission to this effect and will explain the matter fully when that paper is published.

Further, detailed comments on the Corrigendum and new SI will be released shortly." (Steven McIntyre Toronto, Ross McKitrick)

"Belching cattle and rotten bogs versus those SUVs..." - "How much are Green politics really about the politics of envy? This little piece from The Sunday Telegraph (July 4) might help you to SUV it out: 'Let's ban all the methane machines':" (EnviroSpin Watch

From Aussie's favourite bunch of hand-wringers, the Wentworth Group: "Greenhouse gases -threaten Australian way of life'" - "SYDNEY - Australia's easy-going beach lifestyle could be at risk if it fails to take immediate steps to significantly reduce greenhouse gases which feed global warming, scientists and environmental groups say.

Australia, already in the grip of a 100-year drought, must slash fossil fuel emissions or face huge agricultural and economic losses, said a report by the World Wildlife Fund and the Insurance Australia Group yesterday." (Reuters) | Australia warned of water crisis (BBC News Online) | Scientists ring alarm on climate (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Nothing really new in this scam as insurance companies try to offload risk to the public purse - in collusion with the usual suspects.

"Purdue global warming center emits hot air, BSU experts say" - "MUNCIE - Climate experts at Ball State University respectfully disagree with some of the global warming statements being made by scientists at the newly created Purdue University Climate Change Research Center." (The Star Press)

Oh dear... "The Years After Tomorrow" - "WASHINGTON — President Vladimir Putin's recent announcement that Russia will move to ratify the Kyoto Protocol received little attention, but may signal that the agreement will finally become legally effective.

That would be welcome, not because Kyoto is a perfect agreement, but because, even with its imperfections, the protocol has several elements that will contribute to a sensible long-term solution to global warming. Foremost among these is Kyoto's recognition that emissions trading — an American invention now embraced by Europe — can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions at low cost." (Stuart E. Eizenstat and David B. Sandalow, New York Times)

Letter of the moment: "No Realistic Way to Stabilize CO2" - "Sir, "Energy rationing without tears"—that should have been the title of Lord Browne's column ("Small steps to limit climate change", June 30). He imagines that the world's nations, via a series of "small steps", could stabilize atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) at 500 to 550 parts per million by 2050 "without doing serious damage to the world economy". This is pie in the sky. A study in the November 1, 2002 issue of the journal Science, co-authored by 18 energy and climate experts, including several who worry about global warming as much as Lord Browne, examined possible technology options that might be used in coming decades to stabilise atmospheric CO2 concentrations, including wind and solar energy, nuclear fission and fusion, biomass fuels, efficiency improvements, carbon sequestration and hydrogen fuel cells." (Marlo Lewis, The Financial Times)

Sadly misguided: "Church backing for climate plan" - "The Church of England has declared its support for a challenging proposal to tackle the threat of climate change. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, says the plan, known often as "contraction and convergence", offers a way to act justly towards the poorest. The idea, hatched by the Global Commons Institute, says all the Earth's people have equal rights to cause pollution." (Alex Kirby, BBC News Online) | Climate change threatens species, says archbishop (The Guardian)

Firstly, CO2 isn't a 'pollutant' and, secondly, the path to a cleaner/greener environment lies down greater enrichment of all and most definitely not in impoverishing the societies already diverting surplus beyond sustenance needs to buffing and polishing said environment.

"Jackets come off in land of rising sun" - "Japan's buttoned-up politicians and executives are dressing down this summer in the latest bid to fight global warming.

With temperatures topping 30C (86F) and humidity edging towards unbearable, bureaucrats and businessmen have agreed to do the sensible thing by removing jackets at the office - something of a revolution in Japan's ministries and corporations.

The idea is to stay cool naturally rather than use energy by cranking up air conditioning.

Ministers hailed the new dress code as a sign that they are serious about achieving Japan's pledge to cut carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases by 6% from 1990 levels before 2012." (The Guardian)

"U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rise" - "WASHINGTON — A colder winter in 2003 helped boost the amount of U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions spewed last year by 0.9 percent to 5,788 million metric tons, the government said on Thursday.

Broken down by fuel type, petroleum accounted for the largest share the emissions at 2,500 million metric tons, followed by coal at 2,166 million tons, and natural gas at 1,169 million tons, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The Energy Department's analytical arm said colder weather last year meant more fuel was used for home heating, increasing emissions. In addition, high natural gas prices in 2003 caused industries to switch to cheaper fuel such as coal and petroleum that produce more emissions per unit, the agency said.

Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions account for 82 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions that many scientists believe cause global warming." (Reuters)

"Editorial: A Green Pragmatism" - "AT THE END of its long march from the fringe to the mainstream, the international environmental movement confronts a challenge. Now that the world has accepted the basic message that the environment matters, campaigners have to move beyond denouncing everything that has an environmental cost; they have a duty to say which costs are most serious and how the expense of mitigating them should be apportioned. The difficulty of rising to this challenge is illustrated by the fractious relationship between the environmental movement and the World Bank. The most recent clash between the two sides -- centering on the bank's lending to extractive industries, especially oil -- shows that some environmental groups continue in a utopian, denounce-everything mode. The bank is rightly fighting them." (The Washington Post)

"Aviation growth 'risk to planet'" - "The rise in demand for air travel is one of the most serious environmental threats facing the world, a study says. The University of York report says government plans for airport expansion are in direct conflict with targets to reduce greenhouse gases." (BBC News Online)

Always provided you view GHGs as inherently risky, which they are not, or consider a burgeoning biosphere an 'environmental threat', which I suspect most would not. Otherwise, there's not much to this, is there.

"Industry fears over EU scheme to cut greenhouse gases 'ill-founded'" - "Industry's fears about the competitiveness threat posed by the European Union's controversial emissions trading scheme are largely ill-founded, a study says today.

But one sector, aluminium, could be severely hit by electricity price rises expected under the scheme, which begins next January. Profits are likely to fall and smelters could close, according to the study by the Carbon Trust, a government-funded company that promotes emissions reductions." (Financial Times)

"Renewable Energy Not Always Sustainable" - "SANTIAGO, Jul 2 - Ten percent renewable sources of energy, established as a worldwide goal for 2010, is already a reality in Latin America, but that has been achieved mostly through big hydroelectric dams, which environmentalists argue are not sustainable.

When the region assumed that goal in 2002, it already used nearly 26 percent renewable sources, but 15 percent were hydroelectric dams, according to figures from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), a regional agency of the United Nations.

Renewable does not mean sustainable, say activists and experts who want to see fewer gigantic dams and more regulation of the use of firewood (the source of 5.8 percent of energy used in the region in 2002), and incentives for non-conventional sources." (Tierramérica)

"Bringing UK energy policy down to earth..." - "The 'Summer' Issue (July, 2004) of Country Illustrated magazine (just out) carries my very serious article entitled 'Blueprint for filling the energy gap'. In my opinion, the UK Government's energy policy will prove a lethal Achilles heel for 'New Labour'. Here, below, I summarise an alternative policy for truly energising Britain for the future:" (EnviroSpin watch)

"New stock fund to eye alternative energy sources" - "NEW YORK - Guinness Atkinson Asset Management LLC said it has started a Global Energy Fund which will invest in traditional fossil fuel companies and also look for investments in alternative energy sources.

"In the early days virtually all of it is going to be in the traditional fossil fuels," Jim Atkinson, chief executive of Woodland Hills, California-based Guinness Atkinson, said in a telephone interview. "Over time it is going to move into alternative energy." (Reuters)

"Scandal emerges over Japan's nuke program" - "TOKYO -- It was supposed to help revive Japan's troubled nuclear program -- and curb the country's heavy reliance on energy imports. But as Tokyo considers long-term plans to switch to an experimental, recycled nuclear fuel, it is also facing new allegations that officials misled the public in the past about less pricey alternatives.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry acknowledged Saturday that a study it conducted in 1994 showed that reprocessing radioactive waste into a plutonium-uranium fuel would cost twice as much as burying it at a disposal site.

The study wasn't publicly released until after reports about it surfaced Saturday in the national Asahi and Mainichi newspapers." (Associated Press)

"Poor Proposals" - "Of all the editorial responses to expensive gasoline, the strangest is easily The Washington Post's call to raise the gas tax. That's right -- gasoline has been in the news precisely because its price is high, yet the Post's editors want to see it go higher!" (Ben Lieberman, TCS)

From moonbat corner: "Driving into the abyss" - "We must tackle the environmental nightmare of 4x4s by taxing them off the road" (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

"Beware Agrarian Utopians" - "On the grounds of Versailles lies Marie-Antoinette's "Hameau" (hamlet) – at once lovely and pathetic. It comprises about 20 fairy-tale cottages and small buildings. The Austrian-born queen never felt at home in her adopted land. And so during her free time, accompanied by her ladies-in-waiting, she pretended to be a milkmaid.

The Hameau is a timber and thatch metaphor for what's called "agrarian utopianism." Its devotees look back with longing on the time when people lived in tiny villages, and virtually everybody was somehow involved in farming. They believe that if we all just hooked a plow to a pair of oxen and eked out a living on a few acres of soil the world would somehow be a better place.

The best-known agrarian utopian today is another monarch, Prince Charles of Britain. While Marie-Antoinette played a milkmaid, Charles plays farmer. He has his own plot of organically grown fruits and vegetables that he pays others to oversee. Like Marie Antoinette, he can go there whenever he likes, do what he likes, and then slip off his designer boots to become again a pampered prince." (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

"Annan Calls for Green Revolution to Feed Africa" - "ADDIS ABABA - U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan yesterday called for a "Green Revolution" to feed Africa's hungry, saying the world's poorest continent must kick-start food output if it is to achieve long-term peace.

Annan told a food conference ahead of this week's African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital Africa was unlikely to reach its target of halving hunger by 2015, leaving millions doomed to chronic poverty and vulnerable to everything from natural disasters to the global AIDS epidemic." (Reuters)

"Reaping what biopharming sows" - "Want safer, cheaper drugs? Don't we all. Well, biotechnology applied in an ingenious new way might be the answer — if activists and regulators don't get in the way." (Henry I. Miller, The Washington Times)

"GM bacteria boost cancer therapy" - "Designer bacteria have been genetically engineered to bolster the body's immune response against tumours. Researchers in Leeds added a gene to a strain of bacteria that is harmless despite being related to the bugs that cause tuberculosis. The extra gene makes the bacteria produce a molecule that boosts the immune system's ability to identify and kill cancer cells." (BBC News Online)

July 2, 2004

"Science 'Integrity' Award a Laugh Again" - "I was much amused last year at this time when the junk science-fueled Center for Science in the Public Interest announced that the University of Pittsburgh's Herbert Needleman would be honored with CSPI's inaugural "Rachel Carson Award for Integrity in Science."

The recently-announced honoree of the second annual "Integrity in Science" award is no less comical — Theo Colburn, co-author of the infamous 1996 book, "Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence and Survival." Her book's theme is that man-made chemicals are causing a myriad of diseases and conditions ranging from cancer to infertility to attention deficit disorder." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Science's Barry Bonds" - "A fresh-faced medical intern greeted his new patient with a breezy, "So what's your problem?" "Oh, just a touch of leukemia," the pallid fellow answered.

But that was in the mid-1950's when there was no such thing as "a touch" of leukemia or any other cancer. We knew almost nothing about the disease -- its cause, or how to prevent, treat or cure it -- except that it was a death sentence and a gruesome end. The incident is burned indelibly in the memory of that intern, who afterwards regretted his cavalier attitude; and it shaped the course of his professional life.

That doctor, now graying at seventy years of age, is Philip Leder, chairman of the department of genetics at Harvard Medical School and one of the all-time giants of American science." (Henry I. Miller, TCS)

"Cheap Indian AIDS Pill as Good as Pricey Brands" - "LONDON - A cheap three-in-one generic AIDS pill from India is just as good as more expensive branded medicines and should be widely used in developing countries, researchers said Friday. Lack of scientific evidence about the clinical effectiveness of such generic fixed-dose combinations has until now caused some international AIDS donors to refuse to fund their use. But a team from the French national agency for AIDS research and Swiss charity Medecins sans Frontieres said Cipla's Triomune performed as well as brand drugs in the first open clinical study in a developing country." (Reuters)

"Coffee doesn't seem to affect heart attack deaths" - "NEW YORK - Coffee drinkers probably don't have to worry that they might not fare well if they have a heart attack. Self-reported coffee consumption does not appear to affect the risk of dying after a heart attack, researchers have found." (Reuters Health)

"Egg Story Unscrambled" - "For over twenty years, eggs have been considered dietary demons by many because of their high cholesterol content. Since high levels of cholesterol in the blood have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, the thinking was that limiting dietary cholesterol by limiting egg consumption would be a step in the right direction. Current dietary recommendations are to restrict cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams per day—one large egg yolk contains about 213 milligrams—to decrease the risk of heart disease. But, as with most simple solutions to complex problems, this egg-phobic approach is incorrect." (Ruth Kava, ACSH)

"'Western' Diet Raises Stroke Risk - U.S. Study" - "WASHINGTON - Add stroke to the list of health problems caused by a Western diet rich in red meat, white flour and sugar, researchers said on Thursday. A study of more than 71,000 nurses found those who ate a "prudent" diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, legumes and whole grains were less likely to have strokes than nurses eating a more typical American diet." (Reuters)

"Scientists make arsenic water link" - "Scientists in the United Kingdom say they have made a significant step forward in understanding why drinking water in Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal is contaminated with arsenic." (BBC News Online)

"Alaska Natives Say Warming Trend Imperils Villages" - "ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A warming climate is bringing expensive and potentially dangerous erosion and floods to Native Alaskan villages, representatives of those communities told federal officials this week. Storms tear off chunks of beach once shielded by permafrost or Arctic pack ice. Buildings are in danger of toppling into the sea, and many have already been moved, at great expense. Airstrips are swamped and ice cellars that once stored food in the permafrost are filling with water, residents say." (Reuters)

"Low-lying Dutch fear rising seas" - "MAARSSEN, Netherlands, July 1 - Global warming and rising oceans will have an "unthinkable" effect on the Netherlands where half the population lives below sea level, Dutch Environment Minister Pieter van Geel said." (Reuters)

"Iron Seeding Just Doesn't Pay" - "Two experiments show that inducing phytoplankton blooms is too expensive to end global warming" (Sam Jaffe, The Scientist)

"Getting in a paddy about 'global warming'..." (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Interview: US climate expert seeks solutions beyond the Kyoto Protocol" - "In short: Speaking to EurActiv, climate change expert Eliot Diringer says future climate policies need to look beyond Kyoto if the US and major emerging countries are to be brought in." (EurActiv)

"GlobalWarming.org live chat transcript: Economic impact of McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act with Dr. Margo Thorning" - "Dr. Margo Thorning is senior vice president and chief economist with the American Council for Capital Formation and director of research for its public policy think tank. Thorning is an internationally recognized expert on tax, environmental, and competitiveness issues." (GlobalWarming.org)

"Large-Scale Air Quality Study Launched" - "DURHAM, N.H. -- A multinational team of climatologists embarked yesterday on what it says will be the most extensive study of air quality ever conducted, providing valuable data about the origins and content of pollution as it moves across North America and the Atlantic Ocean. Scientists leading the project, slated to last until late August, said it will improve their ability to forecast poor air quality as easily as they predict the weather, and to better understand how pollution produced in one region affects air quality in other places." (Washington Post)

I believe "as easily as they predict the weather" is supposed to be confidence inspiring - go figure!

"Environmentalists reach settlement on pesticide data" - "A long-running legal battle over pesticide data, which pitted Bayer CropScience - part of the German chemicals group - against environmentalists has been settled. Friends of the Earth had been fighting for information about safety data on pesticides, including the "glufosinate ammonium" weedkiller that can be used with genetically-modified crops. The campaign group called the agreement "a major step towards lifting the veil of corporate secrecy that surrounds pesticide approvals."

Antis are successfully chipping away at the protections that support innovation and development in the hope that companies will eventually abandon R&D altogether. All humanity will suffer if these back-to-the-Stone-Age zealots get their way.

"The self-inflicted wound of EU bio-tech rules" - "WARSAW Soccer fans know the worst thing that can happen is an "own goal" - a self-inflicted wound. Sadly, that is exactly what the European Union's new regulations governing the approval, sale, labeling and importation of food and feed derived from biotechnology will do. By putting political pandering ahead of prudent policy and sound science, the regulations will result in higher prices and fewer choices for European consumers, without a single health or environmental benefit." (Terry Wolf and Dee Vaughan, IHT)

"East African farmers hungry for GM crops" - "Kenya has stepped to the forefront of African agricultural biotechnology with the inauguration of a 'level II biosafety greenhouse' in Nairobi that will allow containment of genetically modified crops at the experimental stage.

Neighbouring Uganda also has a biotechnology laboratory, which is now carrying out tissue culture of bananas, coffee and other crops. Ugandan scientists are preparing to carry out research experiments involving genetic modification at the Kampala laboratory. However, Kenya and South Africa are the sub-Saharan countries to possess the high-security level II biosafety greenhouses." (SABC)

"New Zealand: Zero GM tolerance no good - Maf" - "Agriculture and Forestry Ministry staff have questioned the practicality of New Zealand's zero tolerance policy to genetically modified seed imports after an accidental release of minutely contaminated maize seed.

But Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said the standards should be retained and were practical if border controls were good enough.

The seed was inadvertently planted in the Waikato and other regions after a US testing company failed to report the contamination level of 0.05 per cent or one seed per 2000 as it considered it to be too small to be relevant." (Waikato Times)

July 1, 2004

"Shock horror – potatoes cause heart attacks" (Number Watch)

"About Those Nobel Laureates..." - "Should anyone expect a plumber to know about electrical work; a gynecologist to know about brain surgery? I think not. Nor should anyone expect a Nobel Laureate to be knowledgeable outside his/her field of expertise." (David Douglass, TCS)

"Doctors demand child food ad ban" - "Doctors have called for a ban on all food advertising aimed at children under 12. The British Medical Association annual conference in Llandudno heard the measure was needed to tackle soaring rates of obesity." (BBC News Online)

"Functional Foods?" - "Calcium-fortified orange juice, special fortified margarine, nutrient enhanced salad dressings, and other "functional foods" are advertised everywhere these days. Is there a scientific basis for the claims made on these products -- and should they be used by everyone? There is no across-the-board answer to this question; whether these foods are beneficial depends on several factors." (Rachel Kleinerman, ACSH)

"A royal mess" - "I always thought the monarchy was there to remind us that inherited wealth and privilege are alive and well, and to stop us falling into the American trap of imagining that we live in a meritocracy: but apparently it's there to set the health research agenda." (Ben Goldacre, The Guardian)

"When Alternative Medicine is No Longer 'Alternative Medicine'" - "When ACSH writes about bloodsucking creatures, you might expect to read an article about plaintiff's attorneys suing over multiple chemical sensitivity. But this time, we are writing about the actual aquatic animal, the leech, which is almost synonymous with pre-modern medicine." (Jeff Stier, ACSH)

"Fair prospects for all..." - with bonus UK DNOC Quiz! (EnviroSpin Watch)

"EPA's Make-Work Project" - "According to EPA administrator Mike Leavitt, reducing fine particulate matter is "the single most important action we can take to make our air healthier." Leavitt's proclamation accompanied EPA's determination that 243 counties, home to 100 million people, are likely to be designated in November as Clean Air Act "non-attainment" areas for fine particulate matter (PM2.5).

Environmentalists have used EPA's announcement as an opportunity to create the impression that PM2.5 levels are high and that nothing is being done to clean them up. For example, in a Reuters story on the EPA announcement, Vicki Patton of Environmental Defense declared "EPA needs to take swift action to cut the dangerous pollution from power plant smokestacks or millions of Americans will be left gasping for clean air." (Joel Schwartz, TCS)

"Anthrax Amnesia" - "Members of the ACSH staff this week attended a continuing education seminar for health professionals on the subject of preparedness for biological, chemical, and nuclear emergencies. The seminar was based on an excellent publication prepared for the Medical Society of the State of New York, which reviewed salient facts about a full spectrum of potential terrorism agents—including smallpox, anthrax, ricin, plague, and sarin." (Elizabeth M. Whelan, ACSH)

"Poll: Fishermen see discard as major threat" - "BOSTON -- Fishermen say the practice of dumping unintentionally-caught fish overboard is a major industry threat, but they have little trust in environmentalists who also want to stop the waste, according to a new poll. The fish, called "bycatch," was seen as a major problem by 61 percent of New England fishermen, according to the survey of 500 commercial fishermen commissioned by the environmental group Oceana. Bycatch was second only to government regulation, which 72 percent of fishermen viewed as a major problem. The survey also showed that fishermen blame government regulators and environmentalists far more than themselves for the waste. In addition, 75 percent of those surveyed agreed that environmentalists are more interested in stopping them from fishing than helping them." (Associated Press)

While fishermen (and everyone else) have good reason to suspect environmentalists they should be aware there are some who genuinely desire to help (I met one, once).

"LSU researchers examine 100+ years of hurricane hits along East Coast, Gulf Coast" - "Three LSU researchers have examined more than 100 years of data on hurricane strikes from the coast of Texas to New England and they've found that, historically, the "hottest" region for hits is South Florida, followed by North Carolina and the Northern Gulf Coast, from East Texas to the Florida panhandle. Trend study shows major decline in activity for the South Florida coast and a marked increase in activity for North Carolina." (Louisiana State University)

"Changes in water cycle through the Australian landscape" - "The first reported analysis of evaporation trends in the southern hemisphere has identified significant changes in the cycle of water through the Australian landscape over more than 30 years. A report of the study, by Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Accounting scientists Dr Michael Roderick and Professor Graham Farquhar, has been published by the International Journal of Climatology." (Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Accounting) | Sunburnt country is not so dry now, despite rising temperatures (The Sydney Morning Herald)

"Deserts and rainforests are equally productive during drought" - "A team of researchers led by Melinda Smith at Yale and Travis Huxman at the University of Arizona report that, from desert to rainforest, during drought conditions, the maximum rain use efficiency (RUEmax), or effective productivity of plant growth per unit of precipitation converges to a common value. Their data indicates that growth production sensitivity depends on the extent to which water is the limiting resource and the variability in rate of precipitation." (Yale University)

"Floating university expedition to unravel ocean bed secrets of rapid climate change" - "Researchers from Cardiff University, UK, have sailed into Cardiff Bay, returning from a major research expedition to to unravel the complex history of ice-ocean and climate change over the past 50,000 years." (Cardiff University)

"Giant Hippos Roamed Britain in Warmer Past" - "LONDON - A huge find of fossils in Eastern England has revealed a pre-glacial period when the area basked in temperatures now more closely associated with the African savannah, scientists said on Thursday." (Reuters)

"Dutch minister confident Russia will sign Kyoto" - "MAARSSEN, Netherlands, July 1 - The Netherlands, which assumes the EU presidency on Thursday, believes Russia will sign the Kyoto protocol on climate change because it wants to be part of the European community.

Dutch Environment Minister Pieter van Geel told Reuters in an interview late Wednesday that he would work hard at getting Russian President Vladimir Putin to commit to the 1997 U.N. pact aimed at curbing global warming. "It's very difficult to look into the Russian soul ... but I'm confident because I think that Russia wants to be a member, not of the EU, that's another distinction, but wants to be part of the European community," Van Geel said." (Reuters)

"Lamy rejects call to act against non-Kyoto states" - "New calls for trade sanctions against countries that spurn the Kyoto global warming treaty have been rejected by Pascal Lamy, the European Union's trade commissioner. Such action would risk sacrificing the EU's long-term climate goals "for uncertain and short-term benefits", he said." (Financial Times)

"Promises, Promises" - “Scientific research based on fact—not ideology” is what the Democrat’s presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) promises. But there are some pertinent facts about global warming we can probably count on him ignoring." (co2andclimate.org)

"Stop Global Warming? California's Dreaming" - "California's newly released regulatory initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new cars sold in that state represents the triumph of symbolism over substance. It's an ill-considered gesture that ought to annoy partisans on both sides of the global warming fence." (Jerry Taylor, Cato)

"Baked Big Apple" - "Will heat-related deaths dramatically rise in 21st-century New York City? That’s the message of an interim report on a study by Columbia University Earth Institute.

According to coverage on the pre-released report by Greenwire, we are told to expect the study projects deaths in “the Big Apple” and its environs will increase more than fifty percent above the current baseline by 2025 — and more than triple sometime around 2080. Heat is expected be the primary culprit because climate models predict increasingly long and more intense heat waves. That sounds pretty dire." (co2andclimate.org)

"McCain Amendment May Threaten Class-Action Reform Bill" - "A group that lobbies on behalf of small businesses says it is "deeply concerned" about a greenhouse gas amendment that may torpedo a larger Senate bill dealing with class-action lawsuit reform. The Senate is expected to debate class-action reform bill when it reconvenes on July 6. But if Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) attaches his Climate Stewardship Act to the class-action reform bill, the entire thing may sink, according to United for Jobs, which describes itself as a project of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business Survival Committee, and USA Next, a grassroots organization of the United Seniors Association." (CNSNews.com)

"Wind farms 'blowing Scotland off course'" - "SCOTLAND needs to invest more in green energy but the focus should shift away from large onshore wind farms to wave, tidal and solar power, MSPs said yesterday. The call came in a report from the cross-party Enterprise Committee in which it called on the Scottish Executive to develop a more balanced Scottish energy policy with Westminster to meet future electricity needs. The MSPs voiced concern that financial incentives offered to energy companies to introduce eco-friendly electricity meant that wind power, the most technologically advanced and therefore the cheapest, was squeezing out other renewable sectors." (The Times)

"Firm shuts British project on GM crops" - "The last big biotechnology company working on genetically modified crops in Britain is to transfer its efforts to the United States. Academics said the departure of Syngenta, with the loss of 100 jobs, marked the final nail in the coffin for GM research in Britain. They blamed the Government as much as environmental groups and gave warning that a brain drain might follow. "If you are looking for a symbolic moment, this is it," said one professor of plant genetics. "It is the end of big plant biotech in the UK. But, then again, can you blame them?" (Daily Telegraph)

"Reclaim The Commons: BIO 2004 offered adventures through a polarized looking glass" - "The San Francisco Chronicle ran a story in its Sunday, June 13 edition on the BIO 2004 conference that moved through town earlier that week. The story was cleverly written, describing the world of biotech as a kind of Wonderland, full of promises that, like the Cheshire Cat, evaporate into thin air. The writer compared the angry protesters that besieged the Moscone Convention Center on the previous Tuesday to the Queen of Hearts screaming, “Off with their heads!” (Rick Mullin, Chemical & Engineering News)

"Brazil court says CTNBio can regulate use of GMOs" - "SAO PAULO, Brazil - A federal court ruled that Brazil's National Technical Committee on Biosafety (CTNBio) has the power to regulate genetically modified products, but left in place a previous court ban on Monsanto Co's GMO Roundup Ready soybeans." (Reuters)

"Japan brewer Suntory creates genetically modified blue roses" - "TOKYO : Major Japanese brewer Suntory on Wednesday unveiled the world's first genetically modified blue rose which it hopes will hit markets within four years." (AFP)