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Archives - May 2003

May 30, 2003

"Hormone Therapy, Alzheimer's Link Is Premature" - "Study suggests that hormone replacement therapies may be linked to dementia; is it a real threat or just more junk science?" (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"No Matter What the Data Say" - "There's no escaping the assault against obesity that's being waged by American public health advocates. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson has threatened unspecified punishment for fast food companies who fail to offer healthy alternatives to their profitable products. Public advocacy lawyers are on the attack, so far with mixed success. Although the attempt to sue McDonald's for individual obesity failed and the attempt to ban Oreos was given up in the face of ridicule, others are considering action on the grounds that fast food is addicting and that restaurants don't warn us about the fat content of their food. But, as earnest as the anti-fat crusaders may be, they're ignoring an important front in the war on obesity - exercise." (Sydney Smith, TCS)

"US eyes change in endangered species act" - "WASHINGTON - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service called for changes to the Endangered Species Act to allow the service to determine the needs for critical habitat to avoid delays caused by litigation. Environmental groups said the proposal amounted to an attack on the habitats that protect animals and plants in jeopardy of extinction. Craig Mason, assistant secretary for the Fish and Wildlife Service, said the agency needed to have the ability to determine which species required immediate attention, rather than having the courts decide." (Reuters)

"Gaia and Greenbacks" - "Under the auspices of concern for the health of the planet and its inhabitants, environmental groups have for years lobbied governments to adopt environmentally friendly regulations and pressured businesses to change their practices. They've advocated limiting greenhouse gas emissions, prohibiting genetically modified foods, purchasing eco-friendly recycled products, protecting biodiversity and other initiatives.

Some of their efforts to enact policy and business practice changes have been successful, as evidenced by Europe's continued moratorium on the use of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. But others - such as the Kyoto Protocol targeting global warming - have largely failed. These policy failures are usually attributable to the fact that the proposed regulations are prohibitively costly, based on unsound science, or both.

These days, greens aren't advocating change just for the good of the planet. They've figured out how it can be good business - big business - with big bucks involved. As it turns out, the profit motive so often derided by greens as leading to environmental destruction isn't in reality so bad: It just depends on who profits and what the motives are." (Nick Schulz, TCS)

"ActivistCash Profiles Pirate" - "We're pleased to unveil our newest ActivistCash.com profile -- on the group that gave some of the animal-rights movement's most infamous terrorists their start: The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS). The group's founder and president, "Captain" Paul Watson, is one of the fathers of environmental terrorism. Even Greenpeace, a group he helped to found, booted him for being too violent. Watson has been jailed numerous times and is currently under investigation in Costa Rica for attempted murder. Last year Watson told a group of animal-rights zealots that activists "really can't be too overly preoccupied" by the possibility that their violent tactics could cause human death." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Bracing for the Challenges of an Urban World" - "WASHINGTON, DC, May 29, 2003 - Over the next three decades the world's population is expected to grow by some 2.2 billion people and the majority of this growth will take place in urban cities within developing countries. This rapid and far reaching urbanization represents a major transformation for humanity, said experts at the Global Health Council's annual conference, and will have profound impacts on global health and the environment." (ENS)

"Hunting shown to help conserve natural habitats" - "LONDON - Field sports, such has fox hunting and game-bird shooting, help to conserve natural habitats in the countryside, scientists said. An independent study by researchers at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) at the University of Kent has shown that landowners involved in hunting and shooting conserved about 7.2 percent of their farm area as woodland cover, compared to only 0.6 percent among other landowners." (Reuters)

"Iraq's dried-out marshlands reviving, UN says" - "GENEVA - Water is returning to Iraq's southern dried-out marshlands, the U.N. said in a report on the home of a unique Arab culture almost destroyed by Saddam Hussein in apparent retaliation for an uprising. The United Nations' environmental agency UNEP said mechanical diggers had broken down barriers and levees built under Saddam, allowing water to flow into the area - believed by some archaeologists to be the Garden of Eden in scripture." (Reuters)

"GLOBAL WARMING: THE FRENCH CONNECTION" - "Inasmuch as June is around the corner and it's still winter, it is time to revisit the issue of "global warming." A sparrow does not a spring make, but in the Druid religion of environmentalism, every warm summer's breeze prompts apocalyptic demands for a ban on aerosol spray and paper bags. So where is global warming (news - web sites) when we need it?" (Ann Coulter)

"Cities and fields make the world seem warmer" - "Cities and agriculture make global warming difficult to assess, warns a new report.

Eugenia Kalnay and Ming Cai of the University of Maryland in College Park have found evidence that rising temperatures in the United States - about 0.13 ºC over the past 50 years - have been due to changes in land use, in particular the growth of cities and the spread of agriculture.

What's more, the daily difference in surface temperatures between the daytime maximum and nightly minimum has shrunk since the 1950s. This may be due in part to greenhouse warming, but about half of the effect is caused by urban and other land-use changes, reckon Kalnay and Cai.

Scientists have long known about these distorting effects on apparent temperature trends, and try to correct the temperature measurements made by meteorological stations accordingly. The new results show that these adjustments may have been insufficient." (NSU)

"rTu-r(max) = 1.42 log10(POP)-2.09" - "There's nothing so authoritative-looking as a mathematical formula. It proclaims exactness, precision, and appears more credible than mere words, even where the reader might not understand what the formula says.

This particular formula comes from a paper published in the Australian Meteorological Magazine (v.50, 2001, 1-13) titled `Urban Heat Island Features of Southeast Australian Towns', authored by Torok et al.  The formula is the outcome of a study by four researchers into the magnitude of heat island effects in four small towns in south-eastern Australia and states a general rule for estimating urban heat islands in such towns from local data.

The authors acknowledged that Melbourne (3 million+ population) had a maximum urban-rural temperature difference (Tu-r(max)) of 6.8°C based on a previous study, and that even Hobart with only 130,000 people had a  Tu-r(max) of 5.7°C. That effectively damns all large and medium size cities as credible places from which to detect the fractions of a degree changes needed for detection of genuine climate change.

But what of the small towns?  Torok et al. tested Hamilton (pop. 9,753), Colac (pop. 9,171), Cobden (pop. 1,477) and Camperdown (pop. 3,315).   The results showed differences between town and rural to vary between 1°C and 5.4°C. The researchers also found a significant difference between measurements taken over concrete and taken over grass, the heat island being moderated if the weather box is located on a grassy expanse.

These small towns have populations which would designate them as `rural' in the CRU and GISS datasets and yet have significant heat islands which would invalidate their use as places to detect climate change using local temperature data.  The data from all these towns would remain uncorrected for heat islands even though the phenomenon is running into urban-rural differences of whole degrees for all of them." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Europeans hoist on petard of Kyoto targets. New Zealand cannot meet emission goals either, writes Chris de Freitas" - "It's official and the news is upsetting: the European Union is falling behind in efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and meet targets set by the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement to combat global warming. There are stark lessons here for New Zealand, which in December last year formally signed up to Kyoto.

A recent report prepared by the European Environment Agency (EEA) shows that greenhouse gas emissions have risen in the EU for the second year running. In the most recent estimate, emissions in 2001 were 1% greater than in 2000.

The EU is committed to reducing emissions by 8% on its 1990 levels by 2012. On present trends, it appears to stand almost no chance of meeting the target.

BBC News Online quotes the prominent UK global warming sceptic Professor Philip Stott as saying: "One of the most galling things about the whole climate change debate has been European duplicity. While lecturing everybody else, especially America, on the morality of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it has been abundantly clear from the start that most European countries didn't have a snowflake in hell's chance of meeting their own Kyoto targets." (NBR Business Today)

"Transportation in US largest generator of CO2 emissions: study" - "WASHINGTON - The US transport system generates more carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than the entire economy of any country in the world except China's, according to a new study.

In fact, the study by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change found that the US transport sector alone produces nearly one-third of the country's entire CO2 emissions.

"The US is the owner of the world's largest transportation system, and reducing emissions from this system is critical to an effective GHG (greenhouse gas) reduction strategy," Pew Center president Eileen Claussen said in a statement." (AFP)

"Project pairs coal with fuel cells to create cleaner, more efficient power" - "Ohio University engineers are leading one of the first comprehensive efforts to examine how fuel cell technology could pave the way for cleaner coal-fired power plants. Supported by a $4 million U.S. Department of Energy grant, the project aims to find ways to use coal – the environmentally dirtiest but most abundant fossil fuel in the world -- to harness high-efficiency fuel cells." (Ohio University)

"China's Three Gorges dam a step closer to completion" - "BEIJING - After a decade of work, China will begin filling the reservoir for the Three Gorges dam on Sunday, a major milestone for the world's biggest hydroelectric project that critics say could bring ecological disaster." (Reuters)

"Debate still raging over organic food" - "IS ORGANICALLY produced food safer and healthier than non-organic? Yes, said Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association and Peter Melchett, its policy director. Not necessarily, said Professor Bill McKelvey, chief executive and principal of the Scottish Agricultural College and several farmers.

Should the consumer be happy to pay more for organic food? Certainly, said Holden; well, it’s about more than that said Wendy Alexander, MSP, and “You must be joking,” said Frances Clark of the Easterhouse Environmental Trust.

Another day, another debate on organic food, with its supporters showing no sign of relaxing their campaign to make British farming 100 per cent organic.

Holden said unrelentingly to a mainly sympathetic audience at Paisley University yesterday: “The worst economic crisis for farming in two generations is the result of globalisation and industrial farming, which has reduced the status of farmers to mere commodity producers and has precipitated a succession of food scares and loss of trust by the public.” (The Scotsman)

"CAL THOMAS: European governments - let starving Africans eat" - "If Americans need another reason to intensely dislike certain European governments that undermined American policy to liberate Iraq from the mass murderer Saddam Hussein, here is one. Those same governments are not only opposing the sending of donated American bioengineered food to starving African nations, they are spreading disinformation and lies so that African governments will not accept any." (Tribune Media Services)

"China to extend GMO measure, market awaits papers" - "SHANGHAI - China said yesterday it will extend to April 2004 a measure easing transgenic food imports, but wary traders are awaiting official documents before committing to importing soybeans later." (Reuters)

"Monsanto GMO wheat far from winning market okay" - "KANSAS CITY, Mo - A genetically modified wheat strain under development by Monsanto Co. remains a significant threat to the worldwide grain industry, and appears to be gaining little acceptance in the market, U.S. industry players said." (Reuters)

"CFIA denies GM bias" - "A Canadian Food Inspection Agency vice-president has rejected allegations from New Democratic Party MPs that the CFIA is biased toward the creator of a genetically modified wheat variety. Peter Brackenridge, vice-president for operations, recently told the House of Commons agriculture committee that the agency is a neutral, science-based regulator and not a promoter of corporate agendas. He was being questioned about a CFIA decision last year to remove market risk from the criteria that an advisory committee could use when looking at applications for registration of new varieties." (The Western Producer)

May 29, 2003

"Push to fund DDT in fight against malaria in Africa" - "JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – In the battle against one of Africa's deadliest diseases, some countries are fighting without their most potent weapon.

That's because the weapon, DDT, or dichloro-diphenyl-trichloromethylmethane, is also one of the most controversial. Western donors, the United Nations, and environmental groups acknowledge the pesticide's effectiveness in combating mosquito-borne diseases - it has been shown to reduce malaria by up to 90 percent. But they are wary of the chemical, whose widespread use was once said to cause cancer and blamed for environmental damage, such as the thinning of eggshells of the California condor.

Now, even as wealthy nations approve aid for Africa to fight malaria, critics say that by not explicitly authorizing the use of DDT, Western environmental standards are being applied to the developing world, where long-term, often unproven, risks take precedence over immediate needs - at a cost of thousands of lives." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Greenpeace policies cause deaths in Africa" - "Greenpeace, the radical international environmentalist group, recently came under attack from an unusual source, writes Richard Tren. The organisation that has spent decades attacking corporate interests and the institutions of capitalism wasn¹t attacked by the oil or chemicals industry, but by the New York based Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). In what is increasingly a black and white issue, CORE charges Greenpeace with being racist and keeping Africa poor, sick and underdeveloped." (Richard Tren, The Life Sciences Network)

"Geldof's praise for the US is criticised by aid agencies" - "Heedless of the dismay caused to international aid agencies by his support for Washington's Africa policies, Bob Geldof heaped more praise on the Bush administration yesterday.

The Live Aid founder, who is visiting Ethiopia for the first time in nearly 20 years to highlight the danger of another famine, hailed President George Bush's signature on a $15bn (£9bn) plan to fight Aids in Africa and the Caribbean, saying: "That is extremely radical and welcoming ... and will take the fight against Aids to new heights."

Earlier, Mr Geldof startled the aid world by describing Washington as one of Africa's best friends in its fight against Aids and famine. He compared Mr Bush favourably with his predecessor, Bill Clinton, who he said talked passionately about Africa, but did "f*** all". As for the EU, its response to Africa's humanitarian crisis was "pathetic and appalling." (Independent)

"Exploring the Link Between Health and Environment" - "WASHINGTON, DC, May 28, 2003 - The global environment is changing - with far reaching and complex consequences for human health - and the world's efforts to address global health issues will fall short unless policymakers embrace this link, say global health experts who have gathered in Washington for the 30th annual conference of the Global Health Council.

The theme of the four day conference, said the organization's president and CEO Nils Daulaire, is to bring the voice of the global health community "to the front lines of the ongoing dialogue about international environmental policy." (ENS)

"Clues to dioxin danger" - "A study may help scientists understand more fully why dioxin chemicals may be a risk to human health." (BBC News Online)

"Childhood asthma may be linked to chlorine in swimming pools" - "Chlorine in indoor swimming pools could be behind the massive increase in childhood asthma, research published today reveals. The study is worrying because children with asthma have been encouraged to swim, as it has been seen as a safe way to exercise without suffering breathing problems." (Independent)

"Is There Chlorine for the Jury Pool?" - " You have to admire John Banzhaf's tenacity, if not his opportunistic moral compass. Eager to follow through on his earlier promises that he would eventually find a sympathetic jury for his fast-food lawsuits, Banzhaf is setting out to grow that very jury from scratch." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"CANADA/USA: BSE scare sparks claims for natural, organic beef" - "Organic and “natural” beef purveyors exploited news of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in Canada to say their products are “a true alternative” for consumers worried about “mad cow” disease.

Organic cattle are “never fed rendered animal byproducts that could have been contaminated” with BSE, said Organic Valley Meats in Wisconsin. California’s Niman Ranch made similar claims.

But “it is against the law” to feed ruminant parts to all cattle, said University of Nebraska animal scientist Terry J. Klopfenstein. “It is incorrect to advertise one as better. I am not aware of any study that shows any difference.” BSE infected both organic and conventional cattle in the UK. (just-food.com) [Complete]

Gasp! "Physical inactivity rapidly increases visceral fat; exercise can reverse accumulation" - "In findings that should add to the national debate over rising obesity rates in the U.S., Duke University Medical Center researchers have demonstrated that physical inactivity leads to a significant increase in potentially dangerous visceral fat, while high amounts of exercise can lead to significant decreases in such fat over a fairly short time period." (Duke University Medical Center)

"SHAC Attack - Animal 'Rights' Activists Employ New Tactics" - "Imagine being awakened at 3 a.m. by sirens and bullhorns, finding your neighborhood covered with pictures of a "mutilated dog" the next morning and having your home and office telephone numbers posted on the Internet at a site inviting people to call at any time.

It all reportedly happened to a Los Angeles software firm executive who works for a company that sells software to Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), a U.K.-based animal-testing laboratory with facilities in the United States targeted by the animal rights activist group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC)." (CNSNews.com)

"Groups urge end to subsidies for fast forests" - "GENEVA - Key environmental and research groups called for an end to what they said were economically and ecologically damaging subsidies for fast-growing tree plantations, a major source of pulp for paper. In a joint report issued for a United Nations conference on preserving natural forests, they also said that richer countries would have to cut consumption of paper and packaging if the forestry industry were to survive in the longer term." (Reuters)

"Arid Italian spring spells disaster for farmers relying on parched Po river" - "Climate change, which has given Italy one of its driest springs on record, has reduced the nation's longest and most important river, the Po, to a stinking stream. For millions of farmers who depend on irrigation from the Po for their crops, especially maize, disaster is looming. "The great drought of the summer of 1976 will be nothing compared to what is threatening to happen," said Marco Ruffini, an expert on irrigation in the Po basin. "If we don't get at least 40mm of rain (<2"), we're going to face a very severe crisis." (Independent)

Uh-huh... climate change - and the last time such a situation existed was, um... at the height of the global cooling scare, eh? Figures!

Well duh! "Exxon Backs Groups That Question Global Warming" - "WASHINGTON, May 27 — Exxon Mobil has publicly softened its stance toward global warming over the last year, with a pledge of $10 million in annual donations for 10 years to Stanford University for climate research.

At the same time, the company, the world's largest oil and gas concern, has increased donations to Washington-based policy groups that, like Exxon itself, question the human role in global warming and argue that proposed government policies to limit carbon dioxide emissions associated with global warming are too heavy handed.

Exxon now gives more than $1 million a year to such organizations, which include the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Frontiers of Freedom, the George C. Marshall Institute, the American Council for Capital Formation Center for Policy Research and the American Legislative Exchange Council." (New York Times)

Well gorsh! Exxon isn't about to commit commercial suicide on the basis of an empirically unsupported hypothesis and NYT found out they actually like, give money, to groups that espouse a rational position! Good work Sherlo Jennifer 8! Just don't know how they do it...

"Half U.S. Climate Warming Due to Land Use Changes" - "COLLEGE PARK, Maryland, May 28, 2003 - The growth of cities and industrial agriculture is responsible for more of the rise in temperature across the United States than scientists previously believed, according to a new study by scientists at the University of Maryland. They found that land use changes may account for up to half of the observed surface global warming." (ENS)

"CropGen response to ActionAid Report" - "London, 28th May 2003 – Contrary to ActionAid's report, GM technology is delivering real results in the developing world right now. In 2001, 75% of all farmers who grew gm crops were small (two hectares or less) resource-poor farmers from the developing world." (CropGen.org)

"Quote of the Week" - " The U.S. Senate has unanimously passed a resolution expressing its support for the "United States' efforts in the World Trade Organization to end the unwarranted moratorium imposed by the European Union on the approval of agricultural biotechnology products." Here is Missouri Senator Christopher "Kit" Bond in support of that resolution:" (Center for Consumer Freedom)

"Canada Raps EU's 'Phony Science' Over GM Food Ban" - "ATHENS - Canadian officials on Wednesday angrily accused European Union members of using "phony science" and caving in to political pressure to justify a five-year-old ban on new genetically modified foods. Seven EU member states -- Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy and Luxembourg -- have maintained a de facto moratorium on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) since March 1998 on the grounds that the foods have not been scientifically proven to be safe." (Reuters)

"Monsanto undeterred as biotech wheat debate persists" - "KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Monsanto Co. said it will continue to seek regulatory approvals for the world's first genetically modified wheat despite allegations that the controversial product could devastate Canadian wheat exports." (Reuters)

"MGEX passes biotech wheat rule, KCBT mulls one too" - "KANSAS CITY, Mo. - With the world's first biotech wheat making its way through the regulatory approval process, the Minneapolis Grain Exchange this week approved a rule that allow companies to avoid biotech wheat deliveries." (Reuters)

May 28, 2003

Letter of the moment: "Nature not always what it may seem" - "A FRIEND was horrified when I said I often treated my vegetable patch with dihydrogen monoxide contaminated with a cocktail of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus and containing trace elements of magnesium, copper, zinc, boron, molybdenum, sulphur, as well as plant and animal excrement.

She was mortified when I admitted I also washed my hands in molecularly-accelerated dihydrogen monoxide laced with carboxylic acid dissolved sodium hydroxide.

She asked if I knew what such a chemical as dihydrogen monoxide did and I replied that it was a strong solvent, that it accelerated corrosion of most metals, is lethal if inhaled, can burn flesh in its gaseous state, is highly addictive, is found in tumours of all terminally ill cancer patients and is the major component of acid rain.

There followed a lengthy lecture about the evils of our chemical-dependant society and how we must get back to “natural” products and “organically” raised food." (The Border Mail)

"Traffic fumes shown to raise asthma risk in children" - "LONDON - Pollution from heavy traffic can make children more susceptible to asthma, wheezing and coughs, scientists said yesterday. Teams of researchers from Taiwan and Germany have shown that chemicals in vehicle exhausts lead to an increased risk of respiratory disorders in children living in heavy traffic areas." (Reuters)

"Immune to the facts" - "'Public duped by media over MMR' was the headline-grabbing claim emerging from a survey published on 19 May 2003 by the Economic and Social Research Council. On cue, the British press promoted yet another piece of junk science from the anti-MMR campaign.

According to research carried out at the Cardiff University School of Journalism, 53 per cent of those surveyed at the height of the media coverage of the MMR controversy in early 2002 believed that, because both sides of the debate received equal media coverage, there must be equal evidence for each. Though almost all scientific experts rejected the claim of a link between MMR and autism, only 23 per cent of those interviewed were aware that the bulk of evidence favoured supporters of the vaccine." (Dr Michael Fitzpatrick, sp!ked)

"Spain's Balearics expect end to eco-tax after vote" - "MADRID - Tourism in Spain's struggling Balearic Islands should receive a boost from regional election victory for the centre-right Popular Party (PP) in the Mediterranean archipelago, local officials said. The PP has pledged to eradicate a controversial green tax on tourists introduced last year that hotels, such as Mallorca-based Sol Melia, say has deterred German tourists, on whom they depend heavily." (Reuters)

World climate Report, Volume 8, Number 18, May 1q9, 2003 (GES)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT: May 20, 2003 Vol. 4, No.10" - "As further evidence that “the science of climate change” is anything but settled, we offer the following. Two papers, published within days of each other, contend the opposite of one another in the debate about aerosols providing more warming (or more cooling) than generally is assumed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, climate modelers, and others wrestling with how to characterize future climate." (GES)

"The 13 May 2003 Testimony of Dr. John Christy Before the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Resources" - "Summary: In the wake of the recent publication in Science of a paper that purports to provide evidence for the reality of human-induced global warming, one of the scientists who oversees the processing of the satellite data that play a crucial role in this discussion presented his ideas on the subject to the American public via written congressional testimony, which we reprint here for all to see." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Glacial-Interglacial Climate Cycles" - "Summary: Their study can provide us much food for thought about current climate concerns." (co2science.org)

"Long-Term Studies (Woody Plants - Pine Trees)" - "Summary: How will pine trees respond to the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content that began with the Industrial Revolution? Will our enriching of the air with carbon dioxide enable them to grow bigger and better or will it weaken them?" (co2science.org)

Current Journal Reviews:
"Millennial-Scale Climate Oscillations of the Last Glacial Cycle" - "Summary: Are they restricted to lands bordering the North Atlantic Ocean? What is their periodicity? How are they caused? Do they have anything to do with 20th century warming? A single paper answers many questions. Climate Dynamics 20: 257-267." (co2science.org)

"North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) Formation During the Holocene" - "Summary: On what time scales has NADW formation varied? How does its variability compare with that of earth's climate? What do the results suggest about the ultimate cause of NADW and climate variability? Nature 422: 277-278." (co2science.org)

"Wet-Dry Cycles of the Central and Southern Rocky Mountains, USA" - "Summary: Is there anything threatening, or extremely unusual, or even mildly unusual, about the way in which wet and dry periods have come and gone over the past century of what climate alarmists like to call "unprecedented global warming," which is supposed to lead (according to them) to all sorts of extremely bad things? Geophysical Research Letters 30: 10.1029/2002GL016154." (co2science.org)

"Effects of Elevated CO2 on the Abundance of Protozoa in Soil" - "Summary: How will the production of rice, which provides the main source of food for over half of the world's population, be affected by drought -- which will always occur somewhere, as it does now -- in a CO2-enriched world of the future? Plant and Soil 251: 13-21." (co2science.org)

"Not Every Plant Is a Winner at Responding to Elevated CO2" - "Summary: It may perhaps appear to some that we report only positive responses of plants to atmospheric CO2 enrichment. If so, it is only because most plant responses are positive. Once in a while, however, there is a non-positive-responder; and this is one of those times. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 33: 269-278." (co2science.org)

"EU to link emissions trading to rest of world" - "BRUSSELS - The European Union aims to link its greenhouse gas emissions trading system to the rest of the world so EU firms can buy pollution permits from other countries, its environment policy head said." (Reuters)

"Exxon mauled by green tiger protest" - "More than 30 Greenpeace protesters, some disguised as business executives and others in tiger suits, were arrested during a protest at the headquarters of Exxon Mobil in Irving, Texas, yesterday. They were protesting against what they claimed was the company's "extreme global warming policy" in advance of today's shareholders' meeting." (The Guardian)

"Research 'stunted by our culture of protest'" - "The UK is in danger of sliding back into the stone age unless the government tackles the growing anti-science culture, senior technology industry figures will warn today. Public opposition against high-technology and biotechnology companies has grown so strong that investors are no longer willing to back start-up companies commercialising genetic modification or working on animals. The stark warning comes in a survey of the UK's leading technology companies published today by Grant Thornton, the business advisers. Sue Staunton, head of technology at the firm, says only one in seven companies sees the UK as a centre for growth." (Financial Times)

"Doubts beset biosafety treaty" - "A key international agreement on protecting the Earth's myriad species against any risk from biotechnology will soon come into force. The agreement, the Cartagena Protocol, is part of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). It will allow countries to reject imports of genetically-modified (GM) goods if they can cite valid scientific reasons. But experts fear the protocol may clash with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules." (BBC News Online)

"No risk in GM food, say doctors" - "Medical body may change its advice, but public 'needs more information'" (The Observer)

"GMO research should be protected and respected, urges French government" - "Members of the French Senate's commission for economic affairs have unanimously adopted a report detailing the steps necessary to bring about a viable research and regulatory framework for the development of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)." (Cordis News)

"[Republic of Philippines] scientists back GMO promotion" - "Around 20 Filipino scientists from government and private sectors Monday trooped to the Department of Agriculture and expressed support to its position to promote and commercialize genetically modified (GM) crops, including the controversial Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) corn in the country.

The scientists said they believe and support the application of modern biotechnology as a tool to enhance agricultural productivity.

The scientists’ expression of support came after anti-GM advocates lifted their almost one-month hunger strike in front of the Department of Agriculture building in Quezon City to dramatize their opposition to the government’s giving a green light to the commercialization of Bt corn in the country, and demanded a moratorium." (abs-cbn.com)

"GM crops of no benefit to poor, says ActionAid" - "Widespread adoption of GM crops would not help feed the world as their promoters claim, according to ActionAid. So great are the dangers that GM crops will worsen the plight of the 800 million hungry people in the world that there should be a moratorium until more research is done, it says in a report published today. "Instead of focusing on risky technologies that have no track record in addressing hunger" policy should be directed to giving poor people land, credit, resources, and markets so they can feed themselves and sell their surplus crops." (The Guardian)

May 27, 2003

"Consensus Cons" - "It is a regrettable fact that most of the public is ignorant about science. Not just about current scientific theories and experiments, but about the scientific method in general. Yet science affects virtually every aspect of our lives. Nevertheless, we recognize this failure and have done something about it. As a society, we have delegated our duty to learn about science to the media. Yet when the media are pulled in other directions by other influences on them, we are left thinking that we know what's going on in the world when we don't. And that's a problem." (Iain Murray, TCS)

"Official: Gulf Syndrome 'is a myth'" - "Gulf War Syndrome does not exist, an official scientific report has concluded.

The Medical Research Council study found "little evidence" that multiple vaccinations were the cause of Gulf veterans' illnesses and declared: "There is no unique Gulf War Syndrome."

The report reviewed all scientific research into the condition and found no evidence of a link between the illnesses and the use of depleted uranium shells or nerve agents.

It is the second blow in a week for the veterans who recently lost a court claim for compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder. Last night, the veterans condemned the findings as "absolute rubbish." (Sunday Telegraph)

"Senators protest firing of EPA scientist over sludge safety" - "WASHINGTON — Two Senate committee chairmen are protesting what they described as the firing of a government microbiologist for raising concerns about federal standards on the use of treated sludge on soil." (Associated Press)

"Personal view: Be warned - fast food can make your lawyer fat" - "Now that the profits of the American tobacco companies have been transferred from the shareholders to the lawyers who sue those companies on a rotating basis, extracting huge sums but never quite bankrupting them (a fine and delicate balance, as marvellous in its own way as anything to be found in nature), it is the turn of shareholders in food companies to be shaken down and have their assets de facto expropriated by the litigation lawyers. (Theodore Dalrymple, Daily Telegraph)

Letter of the moment: "More anguish over food" - "In your leader (May 24) and report (Meacher rages at inaction on organic food, May 23), you failed to point out that the food standards agency is an independent non-ministerial government department and that I do not take instructions from ministers.

The agency was set up in the wake of the BSE crisis to separate consumer and industry interests. We have no vested interests other than those of consumers. Nor do we have any remit to promote agricultural production, organic or conventional. Our purpose is to protect public health and the interests of consumers in relation to food.

Organic food is an important addition to consumer choice, but no independent scientific evaluation has ever shown that it is any healthier. If we were to relinquish our independence and the scientific evidence on this and other issues, where would consumer safeguards remain? ..." (John Krebs, The Guardian)

"Chicken farmers reintroduce growth drugs despite public fear" - "One in five poultry companies that abandoned the use of antibiotics to make chickens grow faster are now using them again. Producers and retailers have quietly reintroduced growth promoters despite previously dropping them in response to public unease about the practice. The body that monitors production standards for 85%-90% of the industry is expected to sanction the practice for at least another year on the grounds that birds are falling ill without the feed additives." | Questions remain over growth drugs in chicken (The Guardian)

In a return to politically correct utterances: "Passive smoking 'makes pupils ill'" - "Children from homes where family members smoke take more time off school with coughs and colds, according to research. A study of almost 2,000 pupils at schools in southern California showed some were up to four times more likely to miss classes due to respiratory illness than those from smoke-free homes." (BBC News Online)

"Gadget keeps tabs on smoke" - "A device that allows people to monitor the damage passive smoking is doing to them could add fuel to the debate over whether smoking should be banned in public places. Dublin-based researchers at the Media Lab Europe are developing a wearable gadget that takes readings of the amount of carbon monoxide and other particles given off by cigarette smoke. It will allow people, especially those that work in smoky environments, to see how much damage passive smoking is doing them." (BBC News Online)

Perpetual hand-wringing from Worrywarts Inc.: "Earth's Vital Signs Show the Pain of Poverty" - "WASHINGTON, DC, May 22, 2003 - An examination of Earth's "vital signs" reveals alarming trends of poverty, disease and environmental decline that threaten global stability, according to the Worldwatch Institute's annual report on trends shaping the world's future. There is little for humanity to cheer about in the organization's "Vital Signs 2003," which outlines how the continued failure to address widespread poverty serves as a lightening rod for health, social and environmental problems across the world." (ENS)

"FEATURE - Australia drought puts kangaroo war in cross-hairs" - "SYDNEY - Starving kangaroos have been terrifying drought-stricken Australian communities for months, gathering in school yards, invading towns and risking bullets from angry farmers by raiding gardens. While downpours are beginning to cause traffic chaos in the big cities as the drought on the eastern seaboard ends in floods, mobs of the Australian national symbol are still bounding down main streets of parched country towns in search of food. In one reported case, kangaroos attacked and killed a dog. "Kangaroos are rife. Five shooters on a property don't make a dent. It's a massive problem," said an official with Queensland farmers group AgForce. The kangaroos' plight is desperate and millions of them are dying." (Reuters)

Some careful selective statements in this one: "There was enough grass in Australia at the time of European settlement to have supported 400 million kangaroos, he said." Possible, since Australia has huge dry savannah grasslands and completely irrelevant to stocking numbers. The limiting factor for kangaroos and livestock has always been available surface water and European settlement, along with the construction of wells and stock watering points have increased the range and available grazing enormously. Kangaroos are incredibly well adapted to this land of drought and sweeping rain (darn things are damned-near born pregnant) and in rare years of plentiful surface water (roughly every seven years ±50) would have rapidly bred up to perhaps 10 million animals in brief peaks. Indeed, it is natural for 'roos to die of thirst and starvation but I don't see 'natural' starvation and thirst of tens of millions of animals being somehow kinder than sustainable harvest limiting the numbers left to suffer. The drought probably killed off 30 million to 40 million, leaving 'only' 20 to 30 times the estimated 'natural' pre-European post drought survival. Are kangaroos endangered? Well, yes, but only by misguided dills who apparently enjoy seeing millions weaken and die in every El Niño drought.

"Delta blues: Louisiana's coast has eroded faster than previously thought" - "NEW ORLEANS — The erosion of Louisiana's fragile coast is even worse than previously thought, and one-third of the state's shoreline — home to the fabled Mississippi River Delta — could be wiped out by 2050 without urgent action, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Between 1932 and 2000, about 1,900 square miles of Louisiana's marshy coast washed away, up from the previous estimate of 1,500 square miles, said the USGS, an Interior Department bureau charged with safeguarding the environment." (Associated Press)

From the fevered brows: "Feedback could warm climate fast - Holistic model hints next century could get even hotter than we thought" - "The twenty-first century could see more warming, more quickly, than was previously estimated, hints a new approach to modelling the Earth's climate. Average global temperatures could be 5.5 ºC higher by 2100, the model estimates. That's around 1.5 ºC higher than one commonly accepted forecast." (NSU)

"Whitman - Bush 'hurt' by environmental decisions" - "WASHINGTON - A day after announcing she would quit as Environmental Protection Agency chief, Christine Todd Whitman said last week President George W. Bush had been "hurt" by his administration's inability to explain unpopular environmental decisions.

Whitman, who said her decision to leave was for personal reasons, voiced frustration over how the United States pulled out of the international Kyoto treaty on global warming and said an about-turn on cutting carbon dioxide emissions had also harmed Bush's image at home and abroad." (Reuters)

"The Green Old Party?" - "For example, I agree that the Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gases, as drafted, is incomplete. However, the United States could come back to the table and reshape the protocol. A sustained effort to make realistic and affordable United States greenhouse gas reductions, accompanied by mandatory monitoring and reporting of emissions by our utilities and other major emitters, would have the support of key United States companies. American re-engagement in Kyoto could also help prompt fast-growing developing countries like China, which are not now constrained by Kyoto, to sign on." (William K Reilly, New York Times)

Hmm... The most apt description I've seen for The Protocol is: "The most foolish possible way of not addressing a non-problem." Not much of an aspiration you have there Bill.

"Bank sees 2005 EU CO2 emissions trade at 10 euros/T" - "MANNHEIM - The right to emit a tonne of carbon dioxide may find a price range around 10 euros ($11.69) a tonne in the emerging European market for emissions certificates from 2005, a Dresdner Bank specialist said. "Brokers approach us with this price idea so we know it reflects market expectations," Armin Sandhoevel, head of Dresdner's corporate sustainability section, said on the sidelines of a finance symposium late last week. "I think it's not unlikely that this will be a feasible level for the first trading period of 2005 to 2008, and I believe 20 euros would be the upper limit," he told Reuters after leading a workshop on the subject." (Reuters)

"Romania seen as top supplier of greenhouse credit" - "NEW YORK - Romania is set to be the leading transition economy supplier of greenhouse gas credits in the emerging carbon market, industry analysts said. Countries in Central and Eastern Europe are seen as key carbon credit suppliers under possible future mandatory emission trading schemes, such as the European Union's and the Kyoto Protocol. Under the EU plan, companies in the oil refining, smelting paper and metals sectors would have to limit emissions or buy credits to pollute more." (Reuters)

"Austria to build 350 mln euro hydro plants in Bosnia" - "SARAJEVO - Austria plans to provide 350 million euro ($408.6 million) in funding for new hydro-electric plants in Bosnia in the next few years, an Austrian diplomat said. The projects would go ahead once Bosnia signs a memorandum proposed by Austria and based on the Kyoto protocol on cutting polluting greenhouse gases, said Michael Scherz, the commercial counsellor at the Austrian embassy in Sarajevo." (Reuters)

"Spain eyes turnaround in renewable energy policy" - "MADRID - Spain is studying changes in its renewable energy policy in a bid to bring more stability and visibility to the fledgling, high-risk sector, officials told an energy conference. Spain, with 4,830 megawatts of wind energy capacity installed, overtook the United States last year to become the second biggest wind energy producer after Germany, helped by government incentives. Currently the government sets a premium which renewable energy customers must pay on top of the price, aimed at compensating firms for the risks they run in an industry that demands high investment and promises limited profitability." (Reuters)

"SARS Vaccine Soon?" - "Back in 1984, Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler announced a vaccine for AIDS "will be ready for testing within two years." Today there's no AIDS vaccine approval in sight. Now with SARS it's the same silliness. But the new tools of biotechnology do bring hope of much faster vaccine development." (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

"Lessons from apple seeds, potato buds, and nutmeg junkies" - "In an era of intensive farming and global trade, we take our food plants for granted. But if our ancient ancestors had not learned to deal with such natural poisons as a cyanide-producing compound in cassava, our modern diet would be severely restricted. Unfortunately, farmers in some places now neglect ancient wisdom. So it is with cassava root, one of the most important food sources in tropical countries. It contains linamarin, a well-known cyanogen - a compound that produces cyanide when eaten. Rushing to get their crop to market, some farmers shortcut the traditional processing that removes linamarin. This puts millions of cassava eaters at risk for cyanide poisoning." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Biotechnology, Iraq and the Shape of Tomorrow’s World" - "The United States has, finally, filed a World Trade Organization suit against the European Union over its ban on biotech foods. Urban columnists quickly came to the EU’s defense, endorsing consumers’ right to choose whether to eat biotech foods or not.

Consumers have the non-biotech choice of buying organic, and there’s nothing preventing stores from labeling foods “biotech free.” But this is far more than a food fight." (Dennis Avery, CGFI)

"Scientists urge close scrutiny of GM crops' impact" - "The ecological impact of genetically modified crops must be closely monitored in the long term if commercial planting goes ahead in Britain, the country's leading science academy warned the Government today. The Royal Society issued the warning in a submission to the GM Science Review, one of three investigations set up by the Government to assess whether to introduce commercial cultivation of GM crops. The Society did not say who should pay for the monitoring process, which could add to costs for farmers growing GM crops that already fetch a lower market price than non-GM varieties." (Daily Telegraph)

"EU aides say Bush biotech crop attack unjustified" - "WASHINGTON - European Union officials accused President George W. Bush of misrepresenting the facts when he said European hostility to genetically modified food was hurting efforts to fight hunger in Africa." (Reuters)

"Green group says US exploits hungry in GM food row" - "BRUSSELS - A global environmental group hit back at a U.S. policy to export genetically modified (GM) food as aid, saying the crops pose potential health and economic risks to developing countries. Friends of the Earth (FOE) said the United States, which is fighting the European Union's ban on most GM foods, was exploiting famine-stricken populations by denying them the choice to avoid genetically engineered crops in aid shipments." (Reuters)

May 24, 2003

Media Marvel of the Day I - This morning's Washington Post has a front-page, above-the-fold news article written by Jonathan Weissman on the tax cut bill that just passed. Next to Weisman's news article is an article headlined as "Analysis," also authored by Weisman.

Should news and opinion be written by the same person?

E-mail Post Ombudsman Michael Getler.

Media Marvel of the Day II - The Washington Post strikes again with a Style section profile of Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV).

I found this paragraph noteworthy:

He was never a liberal hero. As a young man, he briefly belonged to the Ku Klux Klan. As a senator, he filibustered against the 1964 Civil Rights Bill, speaking for 14 hours. But he changed -- "he was maturing," says Haught -- and by 1976, he was mainstream enough to be elected Senate majority leader.
Could Post reporter Peter Carlson have better glossed over Sen. Byrd's shameful membership in the KKK? Imagine if a Republican Senator had a background in the KKK? Would the Post give it such an innocuous mention? Imagine you're a young reader or a recent immigrant reader who doesn't know what the KKK is? You'd completely miss a key part of Byrd's life.

E-mail Post Ombudsman Michael Getler.

May 23, 2003

"Mad Cow Mania: Where's the beef?" - "Mad cow disease was diagnosed in a Canadian cow this week, setting off a new round of predictable, but groundless panic.

The U.S. government promptly banned imports of Canadian beef and cattle. Investors dumped the stock of beef-related companies, notably McDonald’s (search), which lost $1.5 billion in market value.

And of course, what health scare would be complete without media hype?..." Full column. (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

May 22, 2003

"Mad Cow Scare 2003" - "Yesterday's announcement that a single animal in Canada had tested positive for mad cow disease (technically, "Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy," or BSE) was handled with a surprisingly level head by most agriculture officials and news media. The nation's food-scare activists, however, are gearing up for yet another long campaign of misinformation, aimed at convincing Americans to fear their food." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Mad cow risk with your beef? Nearly nil" - "So, just what are the chances that the burger you're about to flip on your Memorial Day grill is not safe to eat? That question is being posed after the confirmation of a single case of mad cow disease -- bovine spongiform encephalopathy -- in Canada. The answer, says Larry Hollis, beef veterinarian at Kansas State University, is "virtually zero." (The Wichita Eagle)

"Atkins’ dieters lose more and improve lipids over conventional dieters" - "In the first multicenter trial to look at the high-fat, low-carbohydrate Atkins' diet, researchers have found that at three and six months, the Atkins' diet produces significantly greater weight loss than a conventional low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet." (Washington University School of Medicine)

"Atkins diet shows surprising results, researcher says" - "A study led by researchers at the Weight and Eating Disorders Program of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine reports the results of the first controlled trial of the Atkins Diet. Despite the lack of differences in weight loss at 1 year, the Atkins dieters had significantly greater increases in good cholesterol (HDL) and greater decreases in triglycerides." (University of Pennsylvania Medical Center)

"Low-carbohydrate diet outperforms low-fat diet in VA study" - "Obese patients on a low-carbohydrate diet for six months lost more weight and fared better on certain cardiovascular and diabetes measures than patients on a low-fat, calorie-restricted diet, according to a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) study appearing in the May 22 New England Journal of Medicine." (VA Research Communications Service)

"UK children 'not couch potatoes'" - "British children may not be the couch potatoes many health experts have warned about, a survey has suggested." (BBC News Online)

"From Parody to Reality" - "Six years ago, after tobacco companies agreed to settle lawsuits filed by the states, the Wall Street Journal published what seemed at the time to be a hilarious parody by Mark Bernstein.

It was titled "A Big Fat Target." The parody claimed that junk food sellers would be next on the list for lawsuits, as well as Wisconsin Cheese Lords for clogging arteries and makers of exciting movies for encouraging a sedentary lifestyle. Bernstein concluded, "It is too hot to exercise. Dieting demands willpower, and why bother if you're just a victim? Come on, America. Get off that couch and sue." (James K. Glassman, TCS)

"Christie Whitman Resigns As EPA Chief" - "WASHINGTON - Christie Whitman resigned as Environmental Protection Agency administrator on Wednesday, weary after two and a half years of struggles with fellow Bush officials, Congress and business and environmental groups." (Associated Press)

"Mercury, Schmercury. Eat Your Fish" - "A new study published in the Lancet, an international medical journal, decisively demonstrates that there is nothing to fear from trace amounts of mercury in fish. In February, the California Attorney General sued five supermarkets for failure to warn customers -- especially pregnant women -- about the dangers of mercury for their babies. Last month he followed up with another suit against restaurants. Both lawsuits were driven by activist fear-mongers like the Sea Turtle Restoration Network, the Zero Mercury Campaign, and the Mercury Policy Project, none of whom have commented on the Lancet's findings." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Rich 'must pay to save nature'" - "Rich countries must pay much more to save endangered creatures and their homes from extinction, UK conservationists say." (BBC News Online)

"Model helps scientists home in on tropical climate controls" - "It has long been known that tropical climate influences weather in other parts of the world. It remains unclear, however, how much the tropics can be affected by higher latitudes. Now, with the help of a sophisticated computer model, scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have shown that vast atmospheric "bridges" and oceanic "tunnels," created by overturning air and water, link the high latitudes to the tropics and can warm ocean temperature near the equator." (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

"EU assembly to push for greenhouse gas trading deal" - "BRUSSELS - The European Parliament hopes to enact rules within weeks creating the world's first international greenhouse gas emissions trading system, the assembly's lead politician on the issue said. If parliament can get a deal with European Union governments without having to go into lengthy negotiations, from 2005 some 10,000 firms in the refining, smelting, paper and metals sectors will have to limit their emissions or pay to pollute more." (Reuters)

"UK to publish emissions targets in autumn - minister" - "LONDON - Britain said this week it would publish in autumn targets for reducing greenhouse gas pollution for industrial sectors covered by a European Union emissions trading scheme due to start in 2005. (Reuters)

"Vattenfall to invest SEK 15 bln in nuclear power - TV" - "STOCKHOLM - Swedish state-owned utility Vattenfall plans to invest 15 billion crowns ($1.9 billion) over the next 15 years to upgrade existing nuclear power plants despite a government decision to phase out atomic energy production, public service SVT television news reported this week.

SVT said the upgrades would add up to 600 megawatt of electricity production capacity. Nuclear power currently accounts for about half of Sweden's annual electricity production, which totals some 160 terawatt hours.

A Vattenfall executive told SVT the company expected nuclear power to remain an energy source in Sweden for some 30 years to come. The country's first nuclear power station began generating electricity in 1971. In 1980, Swedes voted in a referendum to phase out nuclear power." (Reuters)

"German official calls for end to EU biotech ban" - "WASHINGTON - A top German official this week sided with the United States in a dispute over the European Union's ban on new biotech food products. In a speech to the German American Executive Summit, German Economic Affairs Minister Wolfgang Clement said it was important for the world trading system that the United States and the EU resolve a number of outstanding disputes. "I am therefore arguing vigorously for Europe to end its de facto moratorium on genetically modified products and to open itself to American imports," Clement said." (Reuters)

"Bush says Europe's food genetics standards aggravate Africa's hunger" - "NEW LONDON, Conn. - President Bush accused Europe on Wednesday of aggravating hunger in Africa with restrictive trade policies on genetically modified food.

Bush's charges are likely to put new strains on trans-Atlantic ties already frayed by divisions over the Iraq war. The president made the accusations in a commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy before a trip to Europe late next week for a summit with allies.

The European Union has succumbed to "unfounded, unscientific fears" that make it harder for impoverished African and other Third-World farmers to sell their products in European markets, Bush asserted, escalating a fight over the Europeans' decision to close their markets to bioengineered foods. U.S. farmers, eager to sell to foreign markets, have a big stake in the outcome." (Associated Press)

"A food fight we should win" - "Until a few years ago, Canada exported nearly $200-million worth of canola annually to European Union countries. But in 1998, the EU imposed a moratorium on genetically modified foods. Since approximately 60% of our canola production comes from GM crops, our annual canola sales to the EU have dwindled to virtually zero.

The EU would have us believe that its ban is motivated purely by environmental and consumer safety concerns. But not once has it cited any real evidence that proves GM foods are a danger to anyone's health. Indeed, the only verifiable difference between regular and GM crops is that, because the latter are grown from scientifically engineered seeds, they require fewer chemicals to remain pest-free. That means farmers need to spend less time spraying and are able to increase their crop yields." (National Post)

"Biotech-Food Fight; Trade stoppers at home" - "The United States, Canada, Argentina and Egypt, supported by nine other countries, will file a World Trade Organization complaint in hopes of getting the European Union to lift its five-year moratorium on new gene-spliced, or genetically modified (GM), products, U.S. officials announced on Tuesday.

But even if the United States and its allies prevail at the WTO on the issue of the ban on new approvals, it is unlikely that the EU would revise the unscientific and discriminatory regulatory policies that underlie the moratorium; they are too entrenched, and have fomented too much public fear and antagonism towards gene-spliced foods." (Henry I. Miller, NRO)

May 21, 2003

"U.S. Bans Canadian Beef on Mad Cow Case" - "TORONTO - The United States banned all beef imports from Canada after a lone case of mad cow disease was discovered in the heart of Canada's cattle country on Tuesday. The discovery raised concern because Canada and the United States had put in place feeding practices authorities thought would prevent the infection from spreading in North America. Still, officials stressed it was an isolated case. "Information suggests that risk to human health and the possibility of transmission to animals in the United States is very low," U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said in a statement." (Associated Press)

"Environmental exposure in first year of life increases asthma risk" - "Exposure to cockroaches, the farming environment, wood smoke, pesticides, and herbicides increases the risk of developing asthma later in childhood, according to a study presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in Seattle." (American Thoracic Society)

Hmm... prior to affordable grid mains "electrickery", was the entire population not more extensively exposed to cockroaches, the farming environment, wood smoke and rather less-benign pesticides (sulphur compounds, lead arsenate...)? It would seem difficult to reconcile the above claim with allegations of increasing asthma incidence.

"New claim of MMR danger dismissed as 'flawed'" - " Concern about the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine was raised again yesterday when American research claimed to show a high incidence of neurological problems linked with the jab." (Independent)

"Supporting a risky water policy" - "As U.S. environmentalists push policies to phase out use of chlorine gas at water-treatment plants, humanitarians are lobbying for it. And UNICEF has been calling on coalition forces to get chlorine gas to Iraqi water-treatment facilities before supplies there run out. Inadequate chlorination of drinking water could produce far more deaths than did the war. In fact, more than 25,000 people die every day in developing nations from waterborne diseases." (Angela Logomasini, Washington Times)

"Defense Spending Bill Attacks Wildlife Protection" - "WASHINGTON, DC, May 20, 2003 - The House version of the 2004 military budget contains provisions that critics believe will gut the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Rather than just exempt the military from the two laws as requested by the Bush administration, House Republicans have included exemptions that could apply to other federal agencies and private industry." (ENS)

"Acid Rain Falls: UK emissions halve in 11 years" - "Emissions of chemicals that can cause acid rain fell by nearly 50 per cent in the UK between 1990 and 2001 to 3.4 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide equivalent. The largest fall was in the electricity, gas and water sector, which decreased by 70 per cent to 1.0 million tonnes in 2001. The large fall in emissions over the 11 year period reflects the decline in the use of coal for power generation in favour of natural gas. In 1990 the major power producers used coal equivalent to 48.9 million tonnes of oil (mtoes) compared to 0.01 mtoes of gas. By 1999 the major power producers used 24.5 mtoes of coal and 24.2 mtoes of natural gas." (National Statistics Online)

"Global climate set to flip into La Niña" - "Falling surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean are leading climate scientists to predict that La Niña is set to replace El Niño. But the rapid switch has highlighted the difficulty of modelling such changes in climate." (NewScientist.com news service) | See: Decadal-Scale Variations in El-Niño Intensity (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Who Killed Kyoto?" - "We've heard it now for so long that it's drummed into our heads. President George W. Bush soured relations with the E.U. by refusing to accept the Kyoto Protocol. In doing so, he took the U.S. into unilateralism and demonstrated his disdain for world opinion. That's what is at the root of the current divide between Europe and America. We're hearing that argument trotted out by various contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, most notably Senators Joe Lieberman and John Kerry.

The trouble is, it just isn't true. The Kyoto treaty was killed in November 2000, during the dying days of the Clinton-Gore administration. We didn't notice in the United States because something else was going on at that time. This is also why we didn't notice that it wasn't the Americans who killed it. It was the Europeans, most prominently (surprise, surprise) the French." (Iain Murray, TCS)

"NASA finds soot has impact on global climate" - "A team of researchers, led by NASA and Columbia University scientists, found airborne, microscopic, black- carbon (soot) particles are even more plentiful around the world, and contribute more to climate change, than was previously assumed by the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC)." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office)

"Christy's Testimony to Congress" - "The U.S. House Committee on Resources has recently held hearings into climate treaties, in particular the Kyoto Protocol. Among the witnesses was the Alabama scientist closely associated with the NASA satellite atmospheric temperature record, Prof John Christy (Professor of Atmospheric Science and Director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville). He is also Alabama’s State Climatologist and recently served as a Lead Author of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

In his testimony, Christy rejected the `revisions' suggested to the satellite record by Wigley, Santer, Wentz et al. citing the validation that record gets from the radio sonde balloon data. He also pointed out that in no way could carbon dioxide, or CO2, be regarded as a pollutant since all life on earth depends on CO2 for its very existence.

On climate models, he pointed out that while the models predict rapidly rising temperatures in the deep troposphere, the actual temperatures as measured both by satellite and sondes show a very modest rise only. He was equally dismissive of the `Hockey Stick' concept promoted by the IPCC, pointing out that recent studies have shown that indeed climate was warmer at times during the Medieval period - at a time before CO2 emissions were an issue." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

Goodness! Even the Globe allows space for this heresy! "Coaxing nature to reveal 1,000 years of the Earth's climate" - "The 20th century may not have been so extraordinarily hot after all, according to a climate study of the last thousand years, which confirms historical accounts of fig trees growing in Germany and early grape harvests in England during medieval times." (Larry O'Hanlon, Boston Globe)

"The Inexorable Greening of Earth's Arid Lands"
- "Summary: As the air's CO2 content rises higher and higher, nascent forests in arid areas gain the ability to successfully grow and reproduce where in centuries past it was simply too dry for them to do so." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Long-Term Studies (Woody Plants – Oak Trees)" - "Summary: Will the mighty oak become even mightier as the air's CO2 content continues to climb? Research conducted in Italy and the United States suggest that indeed it will." (co2science.org)

"Urban CO2 Dome" - "Summary: What is it? What causes it? What modifies it? What effects does it have? Your questions answered here." (co2science.org)

Current Journal Reviews:
"Mid-Holocene Ice Shelf Retreat" - "Summary: If it's happened before, it can happen again, right? Right. But is that any reason to worry about it? Geology 31: 127-130." (co2science.org)

"Human Impacts of Climate Change in Northwest Europe" - "Summary: The record of human enterprise in Northwest Europe reveals the dramatic negative human impacts of the Dark Ages Cold Period and Little Ice Age, as well as the equally dramatic positive impact of the Medieval Warm Period, thus bearing testimony to the reality and great significance of these alternating cold and warm nodes of earth's pervasive millennial-scale oscillation of climate, which follows its natural course totally independent of whatever the air's CO2 content happens to be doing. Quaternary International 105: 7-12." (co2science.org)

"Joshua Tree Distribution in a CO2-Enriched Warmer World" - "Summary: The natural distribution of Yucca brevifolia would be different than it is now under such conditions. But would its range be smaller or larger? Global and Planetary Change 36: 137-146." (co2science.org)

"Elevated CO2 and Drought Stress in Rice" - "Summary: How will the production of rice, which provides the main source of food for over half of the world's population, be affected by drought -- which will always occur somewhere, as it does now -- in a CO2-enriched world of the future? Environmental and Experimental Botany 49: 259-272." (co2science.org)

"Responses of Great and Blue Tits to Regional Warming" - "Summary: These European birds have got researchers scratching their heads when it comes to determining why they react as they do to changes in temperature. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 270: 367-372." (co2science.org)

"Air travel will breach Kyoto greenhouse gas targets" - "GOVERNMENT targets for the reduction of greenhouse gases, responsible for climate change, cannot be met without moves to curb polluting emissions from aircraft, according to a new report. Building new runways to cope with demand for more flights would only make things worse, the study by the independent think-tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research, claims." (The Scotsman)

"US wind power, with tax help, could grow faster" - "NEW YORK - Wind power in the United States could grow at levels closer to global rates if the government approved a smoother tax credit first enacted in 1994, industry executives said. "There are billions of dollars of investment waiting to pour into this industry if there are clear, longer term, signals about federal policy related to this industry," said Randall Swisher, head of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) by telephone from an Austin, Texas conference." (Reuters)

"Toyota to recall fuel cell cars due to tank glitch" - "TOKYO - In a setback to advancing fuel-cell vehicle (FCV) technology, Toyota Motor Corp said yesterday it would recall all six of its hydrogen-powered vehicles after it found a leak in the fuel tank of one of the cars." (Reuters)

"FEATURE - Delight and dismay as Tokyo tightens diesel rules" - "TOKYO - Shoichi Hatsuyama pulls the oxygen tube from his face and struggles for breath as he tugs on a pair of socks and a jacket for yet another trip to the hospital.

Once a salesman and keen amateur baseball player, the chubby 53-year-old developed asthma 17 years ago and is now virtually confined to his tiny apartment in Adachi, a shabby area of northeast Tokyo, where he lives alone.

A lifelong non-smoker, Hatsuyama is one of more than 500 plaintiffs pursuing the government and car manufacturers through the courts claiming compensation for respiratory illnesses they say are caused by vehicle exhaust." (Reuters)

"The New Holocaust Denial" - "One of the more odious tactics of today's historical revisionists is the outright denial of the Jewish Holocaust. Beginning with the Nazis themselves, and continuing through modern Hitler apologists, it has always been fashionable among the desperately anti-Semitic to claim that the six million exterminated Jews simply never existed. Now a similar deceit surrounds the tragedy of starvation in Africa. And judging from the "Biodevastation" protest event held during the past few days in St. Louis, the new Holocaust deniers are today's anti-biotech campaigners." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Australia protein find targets cotton bugs, drugs" - "SYDNEY - Australian scientists have isolated an unusually shaped protein that they say could produce major gains for multi-billion dollar-a-year crops and a breakthrough in pharmaceutical applications. First target is Australia's A$2 billion-(US$1.3 billion)-a - year cotton crop, a major source of world exports, which the scientists say could be saved from a destructive bug if the plant is injected with the plant protein." (Reuters)

"FDA reasserts oversight of genetic engineering of animals" - "The government is flexing its muscles with universities involved in genetic engineering, responding to a controversy this year in which investigators feared the offspring of transgenic pigs had entered the food supply. The Food and Drug Administration sent a letter to 70 university presidents and chancellors last week, reminding them that scientists who are genetically engineering animals that would otherwise be used for food are required to inform the FDA and document plans for the disposal of the animals when the research is done." (USA TODAY)

May 20, 2003

"Why No One Shoots Straight on Guns" - "Republicans have it both ways. Democrats are mum. And the gun lobby just gets stronger" (Time)

"Scientists predict swift end to vCJD epidemic" - "As few as 40 people over the next 80 years could die from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) as a consequence of eating BSE infected meat. Researchers from Imperial College, London published their new predictions in BMC Infectious Diseases." (BioMed Central)

"Public duped by media over vaccine, says report" - "Over half the British public wrongly believed that medical science was split down the middle about the safety of the Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine according to research from Cardiff University, UK." (Cardiff University)

"EPA agrees to review soot, ozone standards" - " WASHINGTON - The Environmental Protection Agency agreed Monday to review its standards for minimizing soot and smog, part of a proposed settlement of a lawsuit brought by health and environmental groups." (The Associated Press)

"People only slightly more likely to die after episodes of stagnant air" - "People are only slightly more likely to die of respiratory and cardiovascular problems when the air is increasingly stagnant, according to research by University of Washington scientists that will be presented today at the annual meeting of the American Thoracic Society in Seattle.

Researchers analyzed 28 years’ worth of weather reports in Seattle ending in 1995, and matched the weather data to mortality data. The study found 0.5 percent more deaths from cardiovascular events one day after an increase in stagnant weather, and 2 percent more deaths from respiratory problems and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease four days after an increase in air stagnation." (University of Washington)

"Overkill" - "[T]he global ocean has lost more than 90% of large predatory fish," according to a new study published in Nature. The more than decimated species include tuna, swordfish, marlin, cod, halibut and flounder among others. The world's major fisheries have been nearly swept free of their largest and most commercially valuable fish by overfishing." (Ronald Bailey, TCS)

"No Region Left Behind" - "In his play Lady Windemere's Fan, Oscar Wilde wrote of life's two tragedies - "not getting what you want, and getting what you want". This quip, although written in a very different context, perfectly describes the unsatisfactory outcome of the 2002 "Earth summit" conference held in Johannesburg." (Jack M. Hollander, TCS)

"New York parents sentenced for strictly limiting baby's diet" - "NEW YORK - Two parents convicted of nearly starving their infant daughter to death by putting her on their strict vegan diet were given prison sentences of five and six years Monday, prosecutors said." (The Associated Press)

"PETA's milk claims 'false'" - "A state representative says he plans to sue a national animal rights group for its advertising campaign that pits two state icons against one another. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals recently revived its "Drink beer, not milk" campaign in Wisconsin, urging college students to forgo dairy products in favor of alcoholic beverages. Milk, PETA says, is bad for the human body and the process of producing it is harmful to dairy cows. Rep. Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford, said he hopes to file a lawsuit in the next three months against PETA for violating false advertising laws. PETA's claim that beer is healthier than milk is crazy, he said, and it unfairly damages Wisconsin's dairy industry." (Marshfield News-Herald)

"Arctic sailors on climate trail" - "A group of artists is sailing to the high Arctic to try to make climate science accessible to everyone." (BBC News Online)

"Flight tax would cut pollution, says thinktank" - "The aviation industry should face higher taxes to help curb the environmental impact of aircraft pollution, ministers were warned today." (The Guardian)

"Cures On the Cob" - "Plants spiked with extra genes are being harvested for drugs. Could the wrong ones land in our food?" (Time)

"GM food ban would be 'illegal'" - "The government says it may be forced to allow farmers to grow genetically-modified (GM) crops in Britain even if the public does not want them. The environment minister Michael Meacher told the BBC a ban on GM crops would be illegal unless there is scientific proof that they harm people or the environment." (BBC News Online)

"EU law could prevent GM ban" - "European Union legislation might allow farmers to grow genetically modified crops in Britain even if there is overwhelming public opposition, the government admitted today." (The Guardian)

"Jury still out on GM crops" - "Genetically modified food could be being produced in Britain within months, but it still bitterly divides scientists and environmentalists, writes Paul Brown." (The Guardian)

"Who's listening?" - "Will public opinion on genetically modified crops make any difference to the government? Donald MacLeod reports" (The Guardian)

May 19, 2003

"Trial Lawyers Are Now Focusing on Lawsuits Against Drug Makers" - "After successful fights against asbestos and tobacco companies, some top plaintiffs' lawyers are taking on drug makers, claiming they hid the dangers of some of their pills." (New York Times)

"Parents 'misled' by media over MMR" - "People have been misled by media reports that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine could be unsafe, according to new research. A survey by Cardiff University claims that more than half of the British public wrongly believe that medical science opinion was split down the middle on the subject. But in fact almost all scientific experts rejected the claim of a link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism, said the research." (BBC News Online)

"'Our Final Hour': Global Warning" - "After considering bioterror, nuclear war, asteroids and nanoparticles, Martin Rees gives humanity only a 50-50 chance of surviving the 21st century." (New York Times)

"Who wants to live under a system of Organised Paranoia?" - "The New Labour government's policy towards issues such as bio-terrorism or SARS in the UK is now to be based on the principle of 'Organised Paranoia'. At least, that what was what Geoff Mulgan, head of the powerful Downing Street performance and innovation unit, told spiked's Panic Attack conference at the Royal Institution on Friday 9 May. Mulgan had a wry little smile on his face when he used those words. But he definitely was not joking." (Mick Hume, sp!ked)

"Activists attack use of toxic retardant to contain wildfires" - "Using fire retardant to stop the spread of wildfires is toxic to the environment, say activists who have filed a notice of intent to sue the federal government to stop the practice.

When air tankers release retardant to contain a fire, it can pollute streams and kill marine life, the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics (FSEEE) said in its letter of intent to the Forest Service.

The FSEEE wants the Forest Service to conduct studies and tests, particularly on endangered and threatened species, and acquire necessary permits before using retardant during future forest fires." (The Washington Times)

"Butterflies take flight as summers get too hot" - "Many of the best-known butterflies in Britain are disappearing from gardens, especially in the south of England." (Sunday Telegraph)

"Maldives Joins the Frenzy" - "For several years, the government of Tuvalu, egged on by GreenPeace activists, has led the international campaign over the `plight' of coral island nations like Tuvalu, warning they could sink below the waves due to `global warming'." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"The Virtual Earthers" - "IPCC proponents and environmentalists often like to characterise climate skeptics as akin to `Flat Earthers' - as if skepticism about the credibility of climate models were somehow equivalent to the denial of something so patently obvious as the spherical earth. The head of the IPCC recently used exactly that phrase in New Zealand.

That's just politics of course, much the same way as any political critic is demonised as a means to deflect attention from the criticism itself. While the term `Flat Earther' is obviouly mere political rhetoric, a much more accurate term can be applied to the IPCC and their supporters - `Virtual Earthers'." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Ocean sequestration of carbon dioxide could damage marine ecosystems" - "The injection of carbon dioxide produced by industry into the ocean would lower pH, at best reducing the calcification rates of coral reef and marine calcareous micro-organisms, and at worst having a profound effect on ecosystems, according to a scientist at the University of Toronto in Canada." (Edie.net)

"CLIMATE CHANGE: New Reports Analyze U.S. Options For Emissions Control" - "WASHINGTON -- The Pew Center on Global Climate Change yesterday released two new studies analyzing design options for a greenhouse gas emissions reduction program in the United States." (UN Wire)

"Cost of flexible mechanisms weighed up for Irish Kyoto target" - "The Kyoto Protocol’s flexible mechanisms could help Ireland meet its greenhouse gas emissions target under the agreement, a leading business association said this week. But pressure group Friends of the Irish Environment warned that use of such instruments could land the country with a massive bill, without even addressing the problem of the country’s burgeoning climate emission levels." (Edie.net)

"Choosing wind power or climate hell" - "Citing the escalating pace of global warming, Gov. Mitt Romney said recently he will import $100 million worth of clean energy into Massachusetts. That climate-friendly announcement follows the governor's proposed revenue-neutral tax on SUVs and corresponding tax waiver for highly-efficient hybrid cars.

In November, Attorney General Thomas M. Reilly put the state's muscle behind climate protection when he joined a multi-state lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce carbon emissions that drive global warming.

But, in a stunning display of hypocrisy, Romney and Reilly are opposing the proposed windfarm in Nantucket Sound, which would be the largest and most productive renewable energy project in the U.S." (The Standard-Times)

"US helping region to fight global warming" - "Washington – The United States is helping finance a project in conjunction with the World Bank’s Global Environment Facility (GEF) to counter the destructive effects of global warming in the Caribbean.

The “Mainstreaming Adaptation to Climate Change Project” will benefit 12 small island and low-lying countries in the region, the bank said in a recent statement. Those countries are: Antigua & Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. The bank said that throughout the Caribbean region, global warming is expected to cause significant changes both in sea temperatures and sea levels, and to intensify extreme weather events such as floods, heavy rains, and hurricanes." (Barbados Advocate)

"Japan power firms' fossil fuel use soars in April" - "TOKYO - Crude and fuel oil consumed by Japan's power industry surged in April due to the continued dependence of the nation's largest power utility on thermal power plants, industry data showed." (Reuters)

"Swiss vote to keep nuclear power" - "Switzerland has rejected plans to close down its nuclear power industry in spite of having one of the most plentiful supplies of hydroelectric power in Europe. Two-thirds of the Swiss electorate voted against a planned initiative calling for a phasing out of the country's five nuclear power plants by 2014. A less radical proposal, extending a moratorium on new nuclear power plants and favouring a complete exit in 40 years, was also rejected." (Financial Times) [Complete]

"Indian scientists produce salt from vegetable" - "NEW DELHI: Researchers at the Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute at Bhavnagar in Gujarat have produced salt from a vegetable plant.

"This is the first time salt has been produced from a vegetable source and we have filed an international patent," Pushpito Ghosh, director of CSMCRI, an institute under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research told PTI. The salt currently used for cooking worldwide is derived from seawater.

Named "saloni", it contains several important nutrients not normally found in sea salt and is therefore promising as a health salt, Ghosh said. Samples have been sent to some companies overseas to assess its commercial potential and "the preliminary feedback is encouraging”, he said.

"Our interest in salicorni cultivation was mainly to reclaim salty soil," said JB Pandya, coordinator of the project. India has around eight to 10 million hectares of salt-affected soils of which Gujarat's share is nearly 25 per cent.

Seeds from the plant contain 25-35 per cent edible oil, and the institute already has a process to extract the oil. "Now, our finding that the plant can also be a source of nutritive salt has made large scale saline soil cultivation an attractive proposition from the point of eco-restoration and making money from wasteland," Ghosh said." (Economic Times)

"Precaution Is for Europeans" - "Here's another example of how the United States has decided that Europe is stuck in the past. Bush administration officials are exasperated with Europe's belief in the precautionary principle, a better-safe-than-sorry approach to regulating everything from corn flakes to chemical plants.

As outlined in a treaty of the European Union, governments should regulate industries when they pose risks to public health and the environment — even before all the data about the threat has been collected.

In keeping with this precautionary approach, Europe has prohibited bioengineered crops and American beef treated with growth hormones, and is now crafting legislation that will require chemical companies to spend billions of dollars on safety tests of their products.

But what looks like a question of safety to the Europeans often seems more like protectionism to the United States. The Bush administration believes the precautionary principle is an unjustified constraint on business and does not even recognize the existence of the doctrine." (New York Times)

"UK Food Standards Agency issues reminder to importers after GM seeds reach France" - "The UK Food Standards Agency has written to UK Trade Associations and importers of foods from countries that grow GM crops to remind them of their responsibility to carry out appropriate checks for the possible presence of non-EU authorised GM varieties in food produce imported into Europe.

The Agency was informed that a consignment of brown mustard seed from the Canadian 2002 harvest, imported into France from Canada, has been discovered to contain low levels of seed from three varieties of GM oilseed rape: Roundup Ready, Liberty Link and Seed Link.

While the oil from these three varieties of GM oilseed rape is licensed by the EU for food use, approval for the use of the seed from the GM oilseed was not sought." (SeedQuest)

"Australia farmers support NSW stay on GM canola" - "SYDNEY - Australia's largest farmers' group welcomed a three-year ban on commercial genetically modified (GM) food crops in the state of New South Wales." (Reuters)

"Brazil militants invade Monsanto biotech test farm" - "SAO PAULO, Brazil - Militants of the Landless Peasant Movement (MST) in Brazil invaded a Monsanto Co. test farm last week in a bid "to expel" the U.S. biotech giant and set up an organic farm on the site." (Reuters)

May 16, 2003

"Kooky Cookie Lawsuit" - "Many are laughing at the just-withdrawn lawsuit to ban Oreo cookies as yet another example of frivolous litigation. But news reports have completely missed the lawsuit's fundamental deficiency — its basis in junk science." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

Wall Street Journal Attack on Sweeteners Leaves Bitter Aftertaste - Dieters, diabetics, and health-conscious folk take cover -- the tabletop sweetener police are back, and they’re after your diet soft drink.

In the latest round of attacks against artificial sweeteners, a May 14 Wall Street Journal column reels off a number of false (and tired) accusations against aspartame, the sweetener marketed as Equal and NutraSweet. (JunkScience.com)

"Money Where the Mouth Is" - "An epidemic is sweeping the world. It is not the nasty Chinese pneumonia, the Ebola virus or even AIDS, but obesity. According to Professor Philip James, chairman of the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF), an organization backed by the World Health Organization, "1.7bn people are obese around the world." Hundreds of millions suffer from debilitating illnesses and over 2.5 million people die every year because of their weight problem, says the United Nations." (Roger Bate, TCS)

"Environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality in a prospective study of Californians, 1960-98" - "Conclusions: The results do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality, although they do not rule out a small effect. The association between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease and lung cancer may be considerably weaker than generally believed." (BMJ-British Medical Journal) | [Associated editorial] Effect of passive smoking on health (BMJ)

"No detectable risk from mercury in seafood, study shows" - "An exhaustive study of 643 children from before birth to 9 years of age shows no detectable risk from the low levels of mercury their mothers were exposed to from eating ocean seafood, according to a study in the May 16 issue of The Lancet. Children born to mothers-to-be who ate an average of 12 meals of fish a week – about 10 times the average U.S. citizen eats – showed no harmful symptoms." (University of Rochester Medical Center)

"Out of limelight, environment resonates as an issue" - "Bush and the GOP could lose key swing votes on issues such as oil, global warming. Some Republicans stake out 'greener' positions." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"EDITORIAL: 13 steps to nowhere" - "... There's no question that science plays an important part in crafting environmental rules. The issue is how to achieve the proper balance when data are incomplete, inconclusive or subject to conflicting interpretations." (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Hmm... There's no question that science [should] plays an important [near-exclusive role] part in crafting environmental rules. Regrettably, emotion has largely displaced science to date. This situation must change, for the sake of the environment and humanity.

"Planet Earth 3000" - "Every society faces the important challenge of meeting its desires without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. Since we care about the well being of future generations, the question is, how do we best allocate scarce resources over the long term?" (Pete Geddes, TCS)

"E.P.A. Reintroduces Standards to Control Ozone and Smog" - "After six years of intensive wrangling over tighter smog standards, the Environmental Protection Agency reintroduced proposals yesterday for new standards. Some environmental groups said that the proposals were too lenient and that they subverted the original provisions of the Clean Air Act of 1990." (New York Times)

"New clues emerge about the fate of smog in Sierra Nevada forests" - "Smog ozone goes into the forest, but it doesn't come out. Not in the same form, anyway. Researchers at UC Berkeley now think they know what happens to the smog as it reaches pine forests in the Sierra Nevada. A study published in Geophysical Research Letters suggests that hydrocarbons emitted by the trees and plants in pine forests are reacting with the ozone to form aerosols, which can potentially affect human health and visibility." (UC Berkeley)

"Hidden in plain sight" - "Atmospheric aerosols, airborne particles that reflect the sun's heat away from Earth and into space, are part of everyday life. They are in the haze of air pollution, in plumes of smoke from forest fires and in ash clouds from erupting volcanoes. But a new study says the cooling effect of man-made aerosols could throw a monkey wrench into the current understanding of climate change." (University of Washington)

?!! "Scientists outline major climate changes in Ireland" - "DUBLIN - Ireland's climate is heating up and if the trend continues it will have a major impact on most aspects of life in the country, according to research data being presented at an environmental conference in Dublin.

Environment Minister Martin Cullen told the opening session of the two-day conference, entitled 'Pathways to a Sustainable Future,' that the research would assist in formulating policies to deal with the likely impact of water management, flooding, agricultural changes and coastal zone management.

Irish temperatures have been increasing at a quarter of a degree Centigrade per decade over the last century, according to Rowan Fealy, from the Department of Geography at Maynooth university, west of Dublin." (AFP)

A real hot spot, this Ireland, it's supposedly warmed at roughly 5 times the planet's rate and maintained that for the past century. Given that +2.5°C far exceeds realistic estimates of planetary warming over the next century, can we use Ireland as proof that warming is beneficial (thriving economy of recent times compared to the potato famines of the LIA)?

"Global warming to spawn more floods" - "POTSDAM - Global warming and over-development of flood plains and estuaries will spawn devastating flooding in years to come, according to findings of a team of German researchers. The scientists at the University of Cottbus, writing in the American journal Science, say both factors appeared to be at work in the flooding along the Elbe and Danube rivers last year which inundated large parts of Germany, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic." (Expatica.com)

"A New Roadmap for U.S. Greenhouse Gas Reductions" - "WASHINGTON, DC, May 15, 2003 - The Bush administration may be steadfast against adopting any mandatory greenhouse gas emissions program, but there is increasing interest among some in the U.S. Congress for policies that would force the nation responsible for one quarter of the world's greenhouse gases to curb its emissions.

And it is this discussion that the Pew Center on Global Climate Change hopes to influence with two new reports released today that analyze the best options available to tailor a mandatory greenhouse gas emissions program for the United States." (ENS)

"Swiss face vote on scrapping nuclear power" - "ZURICH - The future of Switzerland's five nuclear-powered electricity plants hangs in the balance as Swiss voters weigh whether to ditch atomic generators for other sources of power in a two-option ballot." (Reuters)

"Preserving a Precious Natural Resource" - "Only two good things came out of the "Dust Bowl days" of the 1930s when winds whisked away the nutrient-rich topsoil from drought-stricken American farms, forcing many farmers to simply abandon their land. One was John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. The other was herbicides, which helped make massive soil erosion a thing of the past even as it made food more affordable." (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

"GM foods: how the Government is failing everyone" - "The growing of GM canola by farmers must go ahead. Ignore the Luddites, writes Mike Nahan." (The Age, Melbourne)

"Brazil lower house clears genetically modified soy decree" -"BRASILIA - Brazil's lower house of Congress approved a government decree authorising the sale of genetically modified soy until March 31, 2004, instead of Jan. 31 as originally envisaged. Provisional measure 113 published on March 26, which must still be approved by Senate upper house, requires all soybeans harvested this year to carry a label saying that they may contain GM material." (Reuters)

"The GM gamble; The United States challenges Europe's block on genetically modified food" - "AMERICA has made no secret of its growing annoyance with the European Union's attitude to genetically modified (GM) crops. With many European consumers revolted by the thought of “Frankenstein foods”, the EU has refused to approve any GM products since 1998. The Americans consider this moratorium illegal under the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO); for months they have been threatening to bring a formal WTO complaint. Even so, the launch of such a complaint on May 13th came as a surprise, not least because of the risks it creates for already fragile world trade talks." (The Economist)

"U.S. right to fight modified foods ban" - "The United States couldn't have picked a worse time to launch its long-threatened trade challenge to the European moratorium on genetically modified foods. The dispute can only exacerbate transatlantic tensions, formed by the war in Iraq, that have barely begun to heal.

That being said, nothing can obscure the fact that in this case, the U.S. position is fundamentally sound. The fight having been joined, Canada had no choice but to jump aboard. The EU ban, now five years old, is scientifically indefensible and morally bankrupt. It is bad economic policy. It is the worst kind of protectionism, masquerading as public service. It is shamanism. It should never have been imposed in the first place." (Globe and Mail)

May 15, 2003

"Gun makers, distributors not responsible for violence, jury rules" - "NEW YORK - Handing a defeat to the NAACP, a federal jury on Wednesday cleared 45 gun manufacturers and distributors of allegations their marketing practices have stoked violence in black and Hispanic neighborhoods." (Associated Press)

"Democrats eye filibuster on gun bill" - "Democratic senators said yesterday they will attempt a filibuster to stop passage of a bill to prohibit lawsuits against gun manufacturers and distributors." (The Washington Times)

"GOP Will Let Gun Ban Expire; House Won't Act on Assault Weapons" - "The Republican-controlled House will not renew the federal ban on Uzis and other semiautomatic weapons, a key leader said yesterday, dealing a significant blow to the campaign to clamp down on gun sales nationwide. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) said most House members are willing to let the ban expire next year. "The votes in the House are not there" to continue the ban, he told reporters. His spokesman, Stuart Roy, said, "We have no intention of bringing it up" for a vote." (Washington Post)

"CDC says fourth of Americans get no exercise" - "ATLANTA - A quarter of all American adults are couch potatoes, getting virtually no exercise either at work or on the weekends, a government study found. Three-fourths of all Americans, though, engage in at least moderate activity three times a week or more, according to the report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." (The Associated Press)

"Study shows obesity costs U.S. $93 billion a year" - "WASHINGTON - Obesity is costing not only American lives, but dollars too. A study tallies that $93 billion per year goes to treat health problems of people who are overweight." (Associated Press)

"U.S. government changes blood pressure guidelines" - "WASHINGTON - Some 45 million Americans with blood pressure levels once considered normal or borderline actually have "prehypertension," say new government guidelines that urge them to exercise, avoid salt and make other changes to stave off full-blown high blood pressure." (AP)

"Stop The Eco-Manslaughter" - "Stop the eco-manslaughter," read the placard at Saturday's Greenpeace protest. The protest against Greenpeace, that is." (Center for Consumer Freedom)

"Angry, Radical Idiots Seek Subjugated America" - " Burning down buildings, vandalizing SUVs, and destroying biotech crop fields must have lost their allure for Craig Rosebraugh and Leslie Pickering, the so-called "spokesmen" at the center of the terrorist Earth Liberation Front. The Eugene, OR roommates have started a new organization -- and this time, they're targeting the U.S.A." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"THREE STATES AIM TO OUTLAW ECO-PROTESTS" - "AUSTIN, Texas, May 14, 2003 - A bill pending in the Texas state legislature that outlines penalties against criminal behavior by animal rights protestors has critics concerned that it would outlaw all environmental advocacy. Similar bills are pending in New York and Pennsylvania. "We could be considered an eco-terrorist organization under this bill because what we do is try to advocate for positive change at state levels," says Julian Zelazny, director of the State Environment Resource Center (SERC) in Madison, Wisconsin. SERC provides research and tools for state lawmakers." (ENS)

"E.U. Parliament backs tough new polluter-pays rules proposal" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium — The European Parliament sent member governments legislation Wednesday to force industry and others who pollute the environment to pay for the mess they make.

The European Union assembly, meeting in Strasbourg, France, voted 310 to 177, with 23 abstentions to approve a bill setting out rules to ensure that polluters be held "fully liable" for any environmental damage they cause. The polluter-pays bill — a first for Europe — has been in the works for 20 years and received fresh impetus from several oil spills in recent years causing huge damage to E.U. coastlines." (Associated Press)

"EU vote could cause a stink for polluting firms" - "STRASBOURG, France - European Union lawmakers will decide yesterday whether to get tough on firms that pollute the environment, under a new eco-liability regime industry fears could bring incalculable extra costs. The European Parliament is likely to approve a bill yesterday to make polluters pay for damage they cause to protected nature areas and species, but the severity of the law hangs in the balance." (Reuters)

"NASA finds soot has impact on global climate" - "A team of researchers, led by NASA and Columbia University scientists, found airborne, microscopic, black-carbon (soot) particles are even more plentiful around the world, and contribute more to climate change, than was previously assumed by the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC). The researchers concluded if these soot particles are not reduced, at least as rapidly as light-colored pollutants, the world could warm more quickly." (NASA NEWS RELEASE)

"Brian Fallow: Time to focus beyond Kyoto" - "The Kyoto Protocol has absorbed the world's attention for much too long, says Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

"There is an opportunity cost to that. We have lost a clear focus on the long-term problem of climate change and what should be done to solve it," he said in an address to the Energy Federation of New Zealand and the Institution of Professional Engineers in Wellington last Friday.

While the Kyoto Protocol was important, it would not be the end of the world if it did not come into force, Pachauri said. The protocol would come into force if, but only if, Russia ratified it.

But since the United States and Australia had declined to ratify it, the arithmetic of Kyoto had changed to the extent that the remaining countries with commitments could meet their targets by buying hot air and forest sink credits and not reducing emissions of greenhouse gases at all, he said." (New Zealand Herald)

Kyoto never made any sense from a climatic perspective. Then again, none of the "global warming" industry ever has.

"UK wind power under threat from policy uncertainty" - "LONDON - Britain's wind power industry said yesterday its future development is under threat as uncertainty about the government's long-term policy on green energy makes it difficult to secure financing for new projects." (Reuters)

"The Inoculated Mind | Making a better coffee bean" - "Since the last ice age, humans have been taking wild plant species and domesticating them, turning them into the crop plants that we have today. It was a slow process fueled by random mutations, until recently, when we have gained the ability to create genetically modified crops.

Agricultural soils are getting increasingly salty due to years of abuse by chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Insects and weeds are becoming resistant to the chemicals that we use on them, and no one wants to eat food that has been sprayed 10 times with chemicals. Organic enthusiasts argue that the solution is to put an end to this trend by going organic, not GM. But there is not necessarily an organic versus GM dichotomy. Imagine getting the best of both worlds — GM crops grown in an organic fashion." (The California Aggie)

"Biotech Warfare; A trade war over genetically modified food" - "The United States is about to lob its first salvo in a new trade war with the European Union (EU). Yesterday United States Trade Representative Robert Zoellick and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman announced that the U.S. is filing a case at the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the EU's five-year moratorium on importing foods made from genetically modified (GM) crops. The U.S. is joined in the suit by Canada, Argentina, and Egypt, who also want to export products made from plant biotechnology into Europe. The Bush administration has been under increasingly heavy pressure from members of Congress to file a WTO case against the EU, since the moratorium is costing U.S. farmers $300 million in export business each year." (Ronald Bailey, Reason)

"Invasion of the transgenics" - "The American government and other supporters of genetically modified crops are winning their battles against the opponents of so-called “Frankenfoods” (The Economist)

"TRADE: EU Defies U.S. in Row over Genetically Modified Foods" - "BRUSSELS, May 14 - The European Commission has condemned the U.S. decision to file a complaint with the World Trade Organisation against the European Union's de facto ban on genetically modified foods." (IPS)

"TRADE: U.S. WTO Dispute Could Bend Poor Nations to GMOs - Groups" - "WASHINGTON, May 14 - The U.S. decision to confront a European Union (EU) de facto ban on genetically modified (GM) food might knock down the world's main resistance to the controversial process and scare developing countries into opening their doors to GM crops, say analysts here." (IPS)

"NZ supports pro-GM case against Europe" - "New Zealand's decision to join a World Trade Organisation (WTO) disputes case against the European Union (EU) over its refusal to open its market to genetically engineered products has angered environmentalists." (NZPA)

"Tougher rules on labelling required, says Greenpeace: `Soft controls bad for country's reputation'" - "Greenpeace has warned that soft labelling regulations for food products with genetically modified ingredients could hurt the country's dream to become the world's kitchen.

Gerard Greenfield, genetic engineering campaign coordinator for Greenpeace International, said on Tuesday tougher labelling regulations were needed if Thailand wanted to become the world's leading food exporter.

The current requirement for food products to be clearly labelled if one of their three main ingredients contained more than 5% GM materials would make consumers abroad uncertain about Thailand's standard since most countries based their benchmarks at one per cent." (Bangkok Post)

May 14, 2003

"Senate Democrats vow to stop legislation to block gun lawsuits" - " WASHINGTON - Senate Democrats said Tuesday they would filibuster legislation, backed by the White House and the National Rifle Association, that would protect gun manufacturers and sellers from lawsuits arising from the criminal or unlawful use of their products." (Associated Press)

"Spectre of Fear" (James K. Glassman, TCS) - Editor's note: The following is a speech delivered to the Spiked.com "Panic Attack" conference sponsored in conjunction with TCS at the Royal Institution in London.

"Europe faces health crunch when economy turns" - "GENEVA - Europeans, especially children, will face new health dangers from air and water pollution once the region emerges from its current economic downturn, according to a report issued.

The European Environment Agency (EEA) said higher rates of cancer, allergies and intestinal diseases were likely unless governments work closer together to ensure that growth is not pursued regardless of its ecological effects.

Pollution had been cut over the past decade, partly because of economic recession and restructuring - the conversion of old state-run industry to more modern and efficient methods." (Reuters)

Yup, it'll be really bad if things get better alright! We'll all be rooned, said Hanrahan.

"Plant sap 'causes cancer'" - "The sticky sap of the African milkbush may be an important cause of Burkitt's lymphoma - the most common childhood cancer in much of Africa." (BBC News Online)

but, but... it's natural

"The Oyster Wars" -"The love affair Americans have with raw oysters may soon be a thing of the past, if special interest groups get their way. As sensationalized "death on the half shell" stories - such as this cover story from D magazine - intensify panic over oysters' safety, spark lawsuits, and call for mandatory post-harvest processing and bans on raw Gulf Coast oysters, consumers have become increasingly afraid to eat oysters and restauranteurs are becoming hesitant to serve them. As a result, the seafood and restaurant industries of the Gulf states have been turned upside down. Clearly, this is the food scare du jour for this summer." (Sandy Szwarc, TCS)

"A Suit Seeks to Bar Oreos as a Health Risk" - "CRITICS of food industry practices have been unable to persuade most manufacturers to abandon unhealthful ingredients, or to let the public know what is in their products, so they are going to court. Whether they are successful or not, they have turned the spotlight on some probable risks for obesity, heart disease and other health problems." (New York Times)

Marian Burros quotes all the usual suspects.

"Next On The Chopping Block: Circus Peanuts, Graham Crackers, and Marshmallow Peeps" - "If you thought the real dangers to children's health were smoking, drugs or drunk driving," opines The Wall Street Journal this morning, "you are clearly old-fashioned. The new threat is from Oreo cookies ... Apparently Americans aren't clever enough to figure out for themselves that cookies aren't as healthy as broccoli."

A threat from Oreos? Yesterday, The San Francisco Chronicle first reported that a California lawyer has sued Kraft, the maker of Nabisco products, in the hopes of permanently banning the sale of those crunchy, creamy goodies to Californians under 21 years of age.

As Austin Powers' Doctor Evil might say: "R-r-r-r-r-i-i-i-i-g-g-h-t." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

Meanwhile: "Blood pressure higher in Europe than U.S., Canada" - "NEW YORK - High blood pressure appears to be a bigger problem in Europe than the United States and Canada, with Germans at particular risk, an international research team reported Tuesday. They found that hypertension was 60 percent more common in the six European countries they studied compared with the U.S. and Canada. And as blood pressure rises, so do deaths from stroke, according to results published in the May 14th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Since most people from Europe, the U.S. and Canada share a common ancestry, the researchers said, non-genetic factors must be to blame for the higher prevalence of hypertension in Europe. But the precise culprits are unclear from this report." (Reuters Health)

Perhaps their hypertension stems from all that worry over non-extant problems (ecochondria over "global warming"; "GMO `pollution'"; synthetic chemicals; or even Gro's infamous cell phones and EMFs).

"Global warming's local crop impacts forecast" - "A new technique that can estimate local weather patterns 50 years from now could help poorer countries to prepare for shifts in agricultural productivity. "We hope to get to the point where, at the household level, we can decide which crops and livestock are most suitable for future climatic conditions," says economist Phillip Thornton of the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya." (NSU)

"Sustaining the World of Nature in the Face of Growing Human Pressures" - "Summary: Is it even possible? And, if so ... How is it to be done?" (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Long-Term Studies (Woody Plants - General)" - "Summary: What is the long-term equilibrium growth response of long-lived woody plants to atmospheric CO2 enrichment? The only way to address this question and have any confidence in the answer is to actually conduct long-term experiments under as natural conditions as possible." (co2science.org)

"Permafrost" - "Summary: Is global warming melting away earth's permafrost at an accelerated and unprecedented pace, thereby releasing ever more CO2 into the air as a consequence of the decomposition of vast amounts of organic matter that were previously locked away, i.e., frozen, in both space and time? Computer models and climate alarmists say yes. Real-world data say no." (co2science.org)

Current Journal Reviews:
"Intimations of Imminent Global Cooling" - "Summary: This is the third Journal Review we have published in recent weeks that describes real-world observations which suggest that the earth is about to commence a multi-decadal cooling trend. Geophysical Research Letters 29: 10.1029/2002GL015191." (co2science.org)

"ENSO in a Warmer World: Battle of the Models Resolved by Real-World Data" - "Summary: Would El Niños become more frequent and intense in a CO2-warmed world? Opposing models duke it out. And the winner is ... Science 299: 877-881." (co2science.org)

"A 125-Year History of Black Carbon Aerosols" - "Summary: What does the study of this old-fashioned air pollutant suggest about the way we should be approaching the "problem" of anthropogenic CO2 emissions? Geophysical Research Letters 30: 10.1029/2002GL016345." (co2science.org)

"Russia Key To Ratification Of Kyoto Climate Protocol" - "MOSCOW - As the host of a key global-warming conference this fall, and as a potential signatory with a swing vote on the contentious Kyoto Protocol, Russia has found itself at the forefront of the climate-change debate.

"We are looking forward to serious, interesting discussions," Yury Izrael, chair of the conference's organizing committee, told reporters Wednesday. "We are not going to create new contradictions but ... find out what is really going on on this planet - warming or cooling." (The St. Petersburg Times)

"Study: ExxonMobil Now the Only Giant Oil Co. Failing to Act on Global Warming Risks" - "IRVING, TX - ExxonMobil is now alone among the four “supermajor” oil companies in refusing to take meaningful action to mitigate the growing risks posed by global warming, according to a study released today by Claros Consulting of London, England. The Claros report notes that a host of global warming events and trends converging over the last year have “significantly increased” the climate-related risks to the wealth of ExxonMobil shareholders." (CSRwire)

At least they behave rationally, what excuse have the others for yielding to ecochondria?

"UK emissions scheme sees 7mln T CO2 change hands" - "LONDON - The first year of the voluntary UK emissions trading scheme saw around 900 companies exchange rights to emit over seven million tonnes worth of carbon dioxide, according to government figures released." (Reuters)

"EU calls for more effort on greenhouse gases" - "The European Commission has called on member states to intensify their efforts to deal with greenhouse gases after new research concluded that global carbon dioxide emissions in 2030 will be twice as much as those recorded in 1990. The study calls into question the long-term impact of environmental measures in cutting greenhouse gases and encouraging greater use of renewable sources of energy." (RTE News)

"More Equal Than Others" - "It is difficult to pick up a magazine or check out a website dealing with energy or electricity without finding an uncritical article extolling the merits of renewable energy. But, as George Orwell would have put it if he had lived long enough, not all kilowatt-hours (kWh) are created equal. Some are more equal than others." (Herbert Inhaber, TCS)

"Technology could make farming more profitable" - "GLENDALE, Ky. — John Wimp climbs into a planter and steers it toward a corn field in Glendale. But before the machine drops a single seed, Wimp pushes a small data card into an on-board computer. He waits as the planter's global positioning system connects to eight satellites hundreds of miles overhead." (AP)

"EU intransigence on GMOs hurts Africa, Asia: Congress members" - "WASHINGTON - By blocking the import of US-produced genetically modified foods, European countries are causing untold suffering among the Third World's starving poor, members of the US Congress said. "This science should be embraced and not banned, for it can help to provide answers to the problems around the world," said Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House of Representatives' Agriculture Committee." (AFP)

"International Scientists Endorse U.S. WTO Action Against EU" - "Washington -- A panel of international scientists May 13 endorsed the case against the European Union's (EU) moratorium on foods derived from biotechnology brought by the United States in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

"The European Union's refusal to license new biotech crops is a clear and blatant violation of its obligations under trade treaties it has signed and ratified," said Gregory Conko, director of food safety policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), which organized the meeting. The CEI had urged the Bush administration to take formal WTO action against the EU for several months, he said.

"More importantly, it [the moratorium] poses a genuine threat to the health and well-being of people throughout the developing world," he said. An end to "unwarranted restrictions" would help poor farmers in developing countries to fully engage in new technologies, he said." (Washington File)

May 13, 2003

"Teens' weight gains blamed on inactivity" - "WASHINGTON - Over two decades, teenagers have been getting fatter because they have been exercising less, not because they have been eating more, a study says. Researcher Lisa Sutherland of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill analyzed federal data on the diet, weight and physical activity of teens, ages 12 to 19. From 1980 to 2000, calories eaten rose 1 percent and obesity rose 10 percent, while physical activity dropped 13 percent. Those percentages show that teenagers must have been getting fat primarily because they burned fewer calories. "If caloric intake is flat and physical activity is declining, there is a cause and effect relationship there," Sutherland said." (Associated Press)

"Protest Planned Against Greenpeace's 'Eco-Manslaughter'" - "An African American civil rights group is planning a Saturday protest against Greenpeace, alleging that the environmental group has committed "eco-manslaughter" through its support of international policies limiting development and the expansion of technology to the developing world's poor." (CNSNews.com) | CORE blasts lethal Greenpeace policies (Press release)

Hmm... haven't seen any coverage of this event.

"Senate group seeks answers on Conservancy deals" - "Members of the US Senate Finance Committee said they are troubled by reports that The Nature Conservancy brokered deals, including the purchase of 215 acres of unprotected space in Martha's Vineyard, that allowed groups to benefit from tax breaks on charitable donations." (Boston Globe)

"Big Green Blues" - "IN ITS 52 YEARS, the Nature Conservancy has been a force for good in protecting the global environment. With its "bucks and acres" program to buy land and thereby promote biodiversity, the Conservancy -- with $3 billion in assets the world's richest environmental group -- has acquired millions of acres, and it manages millions more. Those good works notwithstanding, a series last week by Post reporters David B. Ottaway and Joe Stephens revealed a number of disturbing aspects about the Arlington-based group's operations." (Washington Post editorial)

"Economic growth threatens Europe's environment" - "More pollution, more waste and less wildlife - that is the future for Europe as countries expand their economies, according to a new report by the European Environment Agency (EEA). Cuts in pollution achieved over the last decade will be wiped out by new roads and more air traffic. Attempts to reduce the amount of rubbish being produced are failing, while levels of toxic waste are rising. And fish stocks, soil and important wildlife habitats are all being damaged. The report acknowledges that some environmental gains were made in the 1990s, such as reductions in emissions of the greenhouse gases that are causing climate change. But these were mostly the result of the economic recession and the decline of heavy industries in Eastern Europe." (NewScientist.com)

"Descent into 'deep-time': NSF workshop highlights earth's ancient paleoclimate" - "Earth's "deep-time" rock record preserves the results of multiple large-scale changes in the planet's environment, according to geologists. Although studies of recent climate can be conducted with a resolution lacking in deep-time observations, they fail to capture the breadth of climate-system behavior, say these geologists. Deep-time paleoclimatology encompasses the study of Earth's history at resolutions ranging from the million-year to millennial." (NSF)

"Confused States" - "Many states want to do their bit to combat climate change. Over two dozen, from Maine to New York to California, are planning to make their residents pay more for energy, subsidise energy conservation practices, and even push nuclear power. It's all an attempt, say State Legislatures, to try and reduce the emission of gases into the atmosphere.

But according to a new report from the Chicago-based independent Heartland Institute, existing measures adopted in the greenest states like California are already costing taxpayers millions of dollars and new proposed measures could bankrupt states. Furthermore, the authors of the report say that the evidence for man-made climate change is too flimsy to warrant even current programs, let alone those planned." (Roger Bate, TCS)

"FEATURE - The oil-consumption party is over, author warns" - "NEW YORK - Famine, disease, economic collapse, despotism, and resource wars. Sounds horrific, but that's what's in store unless the world cuts back fast on its energy consumption, according to a new book. In "The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies," author Richard Heinberg argues global oil output will peak in three to 12 years, and if an aggressive shift to include new energy sources, like wind, solar or fuel cells in the mix doesn't happen by then, grim consequences will result." (Reuters)

"Researchers get to the root of cassava's cyanide-producing abilities" - "Cassava is the third-most important food source in tropical countries, but it has one major problem: The roots and leaves of poorly processed cassava plants contain a substance that, when eaten, can trigger the production of cyanide. That's a serious problem for the 500 million people who rely on cassava as their main source of calories, among them subsistence farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa." (Ohio State University)

"Be the Shepherd not the Sheep - Greenpeace Urges EU Ministers to Ban Genetic Contamination" - "Highlighting the fact that the EU is facing a crucial decision about the future of its agriculture, Greenpeace today urged the European Union agriculture ministers to defend quality agriculture by banning genetic contamination. As an informal Agriculture Council meeting to discuss 'quality agriculture' was taking place on the island of Corfu, Greece, Greenpeace activists, holding flags of EU member states, presented the ministers with a cross-roads sign challenging them to choose quality as opposed to GE farming." (Greenpeace)

"Lorenzo stands up to Greenpeace" - "A few months ago a respected Nobel Prize-winning genetic scientist (sic), in a visit to the Philippines, made the startling disclosure that the pressure group Greenpeace has a slush fund of about $175 million for public relations and lobby work for its international campaign to stop the approval of the propagation of plant varieties that have gone through the biotechnology process.

US-based Dr. Channapatra Prakash (sic) warned that the Philippines is among the targets of the Greenpeace scare campaign in the wake of the then-expected approval by the Philippine government of the domestic propagation of a high-yielding biotech corn variety that produces high yield despite the use of little or no toxic chemical pesticides.

Local Greenpeace campaigners were quick to deny the existence of such a slush fund, but many people were skeptical about the Greenpeace disclaimer. It is easy to believe the existence of such a fund, especially since it appears that the environmental pressure group has no problem with money in their campaign against the courageous Filipino scientists who were brave enough to go against Greenpeace and endorse crops developed through biotechnology in answer to low farm productivity and high chemical use." (Alvin Capino, abs-cbnNews.com)

Note From Prakash:

I thank Alvin Capino for giving me the "Nobel Prize"!

But seriously, this "$175 million budget" of Greenpeace's anti-GM activism has been wrongly attributed to me repeatedly. While talking to the press in Philippines last year, I did mention that Greenpeace has a massive budget, some where along $135 million and of which about $10 million of that is spent on their anti-GM activities.

But these numbers are irrelevant to the above discussion. What Capino says here is right on the mark!

May 12, 2003

"Times Reporter Who Resigned Leaves Long Trail of Deception" - "A staff reporter for The New York Times committed frequent acts of journalistic fraud while covering significant news events in recent months, an investigation by Times journalists has found. The widespread fabrication and plagiarism represent a profound betrayal of trust and a low point in the 152-year history of the newspaper." (New York Times)

Hmm... the sad case of a young man who has indeed lost his way. And full credit to The Gray Lady for openly publishing such an embarrassing little saga. I am left to wonder, however, just how sincere is that once credible publication with this statement: "Every newspaper, like every bank and every police department, trusts its employees to uphold central principles, and the inquiry found that Mr. Blair repeatedly violated the cardinal tenet of journalism, which is simply truth."

If The New York Times adheres to "the cardinal tenet of journalism, which is simply truth", and one would certainly hope it so aspires, how does it justify its "global warming" reporting, for example? Is "truth" no more than the fanciful virtual world of computer models, which cannot even "predict" the past with any recognisable facsimile of history? It has long been The Times' editorial position that anthropogenic enhanced greenhouse-forced "global warming" is real and a problem that must be addressed and this is presumably founded in said "truth" - so when did an empirically unsupported hypothesis become "truth"?

Studies suggesting that increased atmospheric CO2 levels have historically followed but never demonstrably preceded increased global temperatures (one of myriad flaws in the hypothesis) should preclude Ol' Gray from presenting anthropogenic enhanced greenhouse-forced "global warming" as "truth" but, to date, there is no evidence of this. Will Jayson Blair's public transgression prompt The Times to clean up its act and drop the eco-theistic fear-mongering? We can only hope.

"Panel Urges Complete Ban on Products With Asbestos" - "Asbestos should be banned from all new products sold in the United States, according to a draft study from a panel that included doctors, business and government experts and union representatives. The use of asbestos, a heat-resistant mineral put in insulation, roofing tiles and brakes, has fallen drastically since the early 1970's, when it was conclusively linked to lung and other cancers. Asbestos mining ended in the United States last year. Still, more than 26 million pounds of asbestos, mainly from mines in Canada, was added to brakes, roofing materials and other products in 2001, compared with 1.5 billion pounds in 1972. An additional 90 million pounds of cement that contained asbestos was imported from Mexico or Canada in 2001, according to the study. The study, titled Asbestos Strategies, was conducted by the Global Environment and Technology Foundation, a nonprofit group that promotes environmentally friendly development, under a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. Its conclusions were reported this week by The St. Louis Post-Dispatch." (New York Times)

"Wildfire Bill Blazes Toward the House Floor" - "WASHINGTON, DC, May 9, 2003 - The House Agriculture Committee passed controversial legislation Thursday intended to protect the nation's forests from wildfire by speeding up the removal of underbrush and limiting legal challenges to federal forest thinning projects. The bill's supporters say it will promote the use of "sound science" in the nation's efforts to limit wildfires, yet critics insist the legislation will do little to address the threat of wildfires and is nothing more than another hand out to the timber industry." (ENS)

"Neighbors of Vast Hog Farms Say Foul Air Endangers Their Health" - "A growing number of scientists and public health officials around the country say they have traced a variety of health problems faced by neighbors of huge industrial farms to vast amounts of concentrated animal waste, which emit toxic gases while collecting in open-air cesspools or evaporating through sprays. The gases, hydrogen sulfide and ammonia, are poisonous." (New York Times)

"Woman hurts husband with perfume" - "A WOMAN was arrested for dousing herself with perfume, spraying the house with bug killer and disinfectant, and burning scented candles in an attempt to seriously injure her chemically sensitive husband, prosecutors said." (AP)

"Animals 'are moral beings'" - "Some animals can feel and think in ways not too dissimilar from us, welfare campaigners say." (BBC News Online)

"Animal activists win on chicken welfare" - "One of the world's largest food firms has bowed to pressure from animal rights activists over the treatment of its animals. KFC, formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken, has agreed to changes in the conditions of its chickens after campaigners threatened to picket its president's home and run a campaign suggesting KFC stood for Kentucky Fried Cruelty." (The Guardian)

Ozone 'hole' scare not cutting it? "Skin cancer risk 'still ignored'" - "Many people fail to protect themselves from the sun even though they know that they may be risking skin cancer, research suggests. A survey commissioned by the charity Cancer Research UK found that 75% of the 1,850 people questioned were aware that exposure to the sun could result in skin cancer. However, less than 30% use shade, and less than 40% bother to apply high factor sunscreen." (BBC News Online)

"Humanists vs. Naturalists" - "The tide is starting to turn in the debate over global warming. Challenges to the extremist Kyoto orthodoxy are coming from unlikely places. Consider a remarkable piece by renowned physicist Freeman Dyson in a surprising venue: the New York Review of Books, bible of the transatlantic liberal intelligentsia." (James K. Glassman, TCS)

"40 Years in the Wilderness" - "Well, not quite 40 years, more like 35 years. That's according to a scientific study by the Weizmann Institute (Israel), who studied the fate of the Yatir Forest, planted 35 years ago in - of all places - the Negev Desert of southern Israel. With `global warming' in the air, the forest should have shrivelled up with rampaging heat and desertification." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Greenhouse gas soaked up by forests expanding into deserts" - "Rising carbon dioxide levels may be helping forests to start reclaiming the world's deserts, scientists believe. The trend could explain why a forest planted on the edge of the Negev desert in Israel 35 years ago is expanding much faster than expected. It could also help account for the estimated seven billion tons of carbon dioxide that goes missing from the atmosphere each year. Scientists believe vegetation creeping back into arid lands could be soaking up the greenhouse gas." (Independent) Link

Here we go again, some think it may, some thing it might... "Australia to pay price for global warming - report" - "SYDNEY - Global warming may increase deaths and injuries due to flooding in Australia by as much as 240 percent by 2020, and cause a huge jump in the number of Pacific islanders whose homes could be washed away, a new report said." (Reuters)

And the EU Environment Commissar is scanning the darkening sky: "EU wants to see Russian action on Kyoto treaty" - "STOCKHOLM - The European Union wants to see Russia taking active measures to ratify the Kyoto protocol fighting climate change, Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom told Reuters in an interview last week. Under a complex weighting system, Russia's ratification is crucial for the protocol to come into force after the withdrawal of the United States, the world's top air polluter." (Reuters)

"Greens want Climate Change Strategy scrapped" - "The Green Party has called on the Government to scrap the National Climate Change Strategy. The call comes as new figures reveal that Ireland is the worst offender in Europe on Climate Change emissions. The figures from the European Environment Agency show that Ireland is already exceeding the targets set for 2008-2012." (RTE News)

"Maldives seeks help to battle extinction" - "COLOMBO - Visiting Maldives President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has called for global efforts to battle the rising seas that threaten to engulf his tiny atoll nation." (AFP)

"Humanity may not be to blame for global warming after all" - "LAST week, the European Environment Agency revealed that the EU was lagging, quite significantly, in achieving its targets for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases under the Kyoto Protocol, because of a particularly cold winter, which required consumers to use more energy. Based on a sense of dread, Europeans have been led to believe that drastic measures such as Kyoto are necessary to prevent the risk of negative outcomes from a changing climate. Unfortunately, it is more likely that resources are being misallocated to a problem which is not vetted in scientific facts." (The Scotsman)

Must see: Conference Report: 2020 Vision - Powering the UK's Future (Scientific Alliance)

"Curbs sought on 'lethal oil cocktail'" - "A campaign group today will call on governments to clamp down on big oil companies as it provides evidence of the damaging impact of the industry on the global economy.

The recommendations in a report by Christian Aid come as Britain and the US press ahead with plans to rapidly bring back on stream - and directly control - oil in Iraq. The report, Fuelling Poverty: Oil, war and corruption, warns that plans to rebuild the Iraqi economy with oil wealth could lead to greater poverty for the population, increased corruption and civil strife.

The charity calls for an international commission to be established "to review the overwhelming evidence that oil wealth is driving countries into poverty and to draw up new global regulations to reverse this injustice." (The Guardian)

"Guardian Focus: Food" - "Food is one of life's great pleasures. Shopping for it, preparing it and eating it has bound people together for centuries. Our food is more plentiful than ever before and a good meal nourishes not just the body but the soul. But something has gone wrong." (The Guardian)

"Sound Science, Not Silence: An Open Letter to World Leaders, Scientists, Media and other Stakeholders" - "Scientists fully engaged in research and examination of the potential impacts of biotechnology-derived crops have concluded that commercial biotechnology-derived crops and foodstuffs are as safe as conventional crops and foodstuffs, and deliver important economic and environmental benefits to farmers and society at large. Facing constant allegations that biotech crops are unsafe, anti-biotechnology groups are counting on those in the scientific community with experience and knowledge of 'genetically modified' or 'bioengineered' crops to be silent. Sound science not silence must prevail." (AgBioWorld.org)

"Swiss Biotech Crop Ban Passed by Lower House" - "BERNE, Switzerland, May 9, 2003 - Switzerland's lower parliamentary house, the Nationalrat, has approved a five year moratorium on the farming of genetically modified crops by inserting the ban into an agricultural funding bill voted through this week. Both parliamentary houses rejected the same idea last October. The rejection result angered green groups, and a coalition of environmental NGOs, small farmers and the Green Party launched a popular initiative to force a referendum on the issue. A recommendation to introduce the moratorium had been made by a special government commission." (ENS)

"Monsanto harvesting bad publicity; Farmer's case a rallying point for activists: Profits falling" - "The Supreme Court of Canada yesterday agreed to hear an appeal from Percy Schmeiser, a farmer in Bruno, Sask., who is in a legal battle with Monsanto over genetically modified seed.  Agricultural giant Monsanto Co. attracts a lot of attention. Trouble is it always seems to be the wrong kind. The latest public relations debacle centres around Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser, who Monsanto alleges used its genetically modified canola seeds without its permission. Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed to hear Mr. Schmeiser's appeal of a lower court decision last fall that found in favour of Monsanto. And so begins another round in a legal case that has become a rallying point for activists who oppose the company's push to market and create genetically modified foods. The optics aren't good: A small-time farmer pitted against one of the world's largest agricultural companies. Even if Monsanto wins the lawsuit, it could hinder its earnings." (Financial Post)

"National Trust bans GM crops" - "Thousands of National Trust tenant farmers have been banned from allowing genetically modified (GM) crops to be grown on its land. Dozens of controversial GM trials taking place across the UK are due to end this summer. Public consultation will then follow on whether these cops should be grown commercially. The government is due to launch a £500,000 "public debate" in the coming weeks. The move to ban the GM crops for the Trust's 2,000 tenant farmers has been welcomed by campaigners Friends of the Earth." (BBC News Online)

"The GM Jeremiahs" - "The West's mistrust of genetically modified crops means it is the Third World which is suffering" (Nick Cohen, The Observer)

"Brazil's rules for modified food alarms Argentina" - "BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Brazil's decision to postpone the application of new rules requiring that labels identify genetically modified goods failed to calm nervous exporters in Argentina, where use of the products is extensive." (Reuters)

May 9, 2003

"Chemical Plant Insecurity" - "To get chemical plant security right, first we have to disinfect a debate already contaminated by bad facts and bad intentions" (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Gulf War Syndrome - the sequel" - "Alex Izett, a former British soldier, has won what everyone is calling a 'landmark ruling'. The UK War Pensions Appeal Tribunal has ruled that there is a link between the vaccinations that Izett received in the run-up to the Gulf War of 1991 and his current osteoporosis. According to one report, the ruling shows that 'Gulf War syndrome really does exist'.

Does it? Izett's case seems to have raised as many questions as answers. According to Simon Wessely of the Gulf War Illnesses Research Unit at King's College London, the case highlights 'the ambiguities and difficulties that result from claims for ill health arising out of military service'. Wessely says that, while there are certainly side effects from the vaccines administered to protect troops from chemical and biological weapons, they do not prove the existence of a specific syndrome.

'Medical science has been unable to verify the existence of a unique Gulf War syndrome', says Wessely. 'Doctors who have no contact with the military are all familiar with sufferers from illnesses that are remarkably similar to so-called Gulf War syndrome, but which go under different labels such as chronic fatigue syndrome or multiple chemical sensitivity. It seems that you don't need to go to the Gulf, or even be in the military, in order to get Gulf War syndrome.'" (Brendan O'Neill, sp!ked)

"EPA faulted for cutting funds for study of environment and children's health" - " WASHINGTON (May 8, 7:37 p.m. EDT) - Children's health advocates Thursday protested the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to cut funding for a groundbreaking study of environmental influences on children's health." (Scripps Howard News Service)

"Burgers are 'as bad as heroin', activist claims" - "Fast food restaurants are facing claims that hamburgers can be as addictive as heroin in the next twist to the obesity lawsuits that threaten McDonald's and Burger King. John Banzhaf, the self-styled "legal terrorist" who pioneered tobacco litigation in the 1960s, yesterday unveiled the results of scientific studies suggesting that fast food can alter the brain in the same way as powerful drugs." (Daily Telegraph)

"Government won't force companies to produce healthier food" - " WASHINGTON (May 8, 5:50 p.m. EDT) - The Bush administration says the government can't force food companies to produce and promote more nutritious products in an effort to reduce obesity, although it is trying to encourage them." (Associated Press)

"Veterans' Nuclear Exposure Underestimated, Panel Says" - "Some veterans who developed cancer from exposure to radiation from 1945 to 1962 were denied compensation because the Pentagon grossly underestimated their doses." (New York Times)

"Nanotechnology: a slippery debate" - "According to newspaper reports, Prince Charles is worried that scientists risk turning the world into 'grey goo'.

This latest fretting has been prompted by a branch of science called nanotechnology. Charles' fears have rightly been ridiculed as absurd, but he is not alone in expressing such concerns. They are part of a wider anti-technology agenda promoted by environmentalists." (Joe Kaplinsky, sp!ked)

"Greenhouse gas might green up the desert" - "A group of scientists headed by Prof. Dan Yakir of the Weizmann Institute found that Yatir forest, planted near the Negev Desert 35 years ago, is expanding at an unexpected rate. The findings, published in Global Change Biology, suggest that forests in other parts of the globe could also be expanding into arid lands, absorbing carbon dioxide in the process. Their research may explain why 7 billion tons of carbon dioxide remains unaccounted for." (Weizmann Institute)

"UK 'will make bigger greenhouse cuts'" - "The UK is to make swingeing cuts in emissions of gases thought to cause climate change, the government says. The Environment Secretary, Margaret Beckett, held out the prospect of a 60% cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. The UK has already made deeper cuts in six gases than it promised to achieve. But emissions by the US are projected to rise massively on present trends." (BBC News Online)

"Rich countries' greenhouse gas emissions likely to rise 10%" - "Industrialised countries are likely to increase greenhouse gas emissions by 10 per cent by the end of the decade, according to figures from the United Nations yesterday. The forecasts underline the huge challenge facing countries that remain committed to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. Under the agreement, Japan has pledged to reduce emissions by 6 per cent between 1990 and 2010, while the EU aims to reduce them by 8 per cent." (Financial Times)

"Mercury Matters" - "Our American ways of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" don't just happen magically. They require certain material foundations and supports. Among those, perhaps the most easily taken for granted is our efficient delivery of cheap, abundant energy. For example, in 2000 U.S. power plants provided 3.8 trillion kilo-Watt-hours of electricity meeting steadily rising demands from the commercial, industrial and residential sectors.

Despite this, power plants are often the targets of many ill-considered regulations ostensibly designed to mitigate the world's environmental and climatic problems. But the proposed regulations will likely do more harm than good." (Willie Soon, TCS)

"Why the World Used to Have More Wars" - "Human prehistory was dominated by wars usually over critical resources such as hunting grounds, water, and good cropland. Why such a low percentage of war deaths today? We’re living in the first era when humans haven’t had to kill each other to protect food supplies for their families." (Denis Avery, CGFI)

"SPECIAL REPORT: Springtime in Luddite Land" - " We'll say this much about activists who devote their lives to opposing genetically modified (GM) foods: they don't let a little thing like reality slow them down. Despite a biotech crop boom in Asia, the continued acceptance of GM foods by U.S. consumers and European governments, a report from the UK's Royal Society that activists' "unfounded claims" have poisoned the public debate on biotech foods, and a grain-belt mainstream here at home that is increasingly savvy about tuning out these unscientific scaremongers, the lunatic fringe of the anti-biotech movement is ramping up its propaganda campaign. And the Center for Consumer Freedom can now reveal who is funding their efforts." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Genetic Food Patent Challenge to Hit Canada Court" - "OTTAWA - A farmer crusading against genetically modified grain won the right on Thursday to take the case to the Canadian Supreme Court to challenge the patent rights of biotech giant Monsanto Co.. In what began as a question of whether Percy Schmeiser had grown Monsanto grain without a license on his Saskatchewan farm, the case has broadened to what Schmeiser sees as a David-and-Goliath battle over genetically altered food. The Supreme Court agreed on Thursday to hear an appeal of lower-court decisions that Schmeiser had violated the Monsanto patent for canola modified to tolerate the herbicide Roundup." (Reuters)

"GM foods 'not harmful'" - "Britain's academy of science, the Royal Society, says there is no evidence that eating GM food is any more harmful than eating non-GM food." (BBC News Online)

"US to challenge EU's policy on GM foods in WTO" - "WASHINGTON - The United States has decided to challenge the European Union's de facto moratorium on genetically modified foods in the World Trade Organization (news - web sites), senior administration sources said. "We've been pushed against a wall here," a senior administration official told AFX News, a subsidiary of AFP, on condition of anonymity, adding that a case is expected to be filed by "mid-June" at the latest. "Sooner is probably more likely," the official said. Officials are still debating the timing of filing the legal papers. At issue is whether to file the case before or after the upcoming Group of Eight summit in Evian, France." (AFP)

"Australia GM canola hopes fade with state ban" - "SYDNEY - The Australian state of Victoria banned commercial genetically modified (GM) canola growing for at least a year yesterday, making it unlikely such crops will be planted anywhere in Australia this year." (Reuters)

"Brazil soy sector ignores government decree on GM soy" - "SAO PAULO, Brazil - Over one month after the government decreed that all genetically modified soy must carry consumer warning labels, Brazil's soy industry is going about business as usual without labeling, sector leaders said." (Reuters)

May 8, 2003

"Hysteria, Thy Name is SARS" - "Last week's covers of U.S. News & World Report, Time, and Newsweek were virtually identical: A terrified person wearing a medical mask emblazoned "SARS." The April 29 New Zealand Herald headlined: "SARS Surge Could Stretch NZ Says Annette King." Total confirmed New Zealand cases: one. "SARS could eventually kill millions," blared the New Scientist wire service, with no hint as to how this might happen. SARS "now threatens to plunge the world economy into freefall," declared the London Observer. The New York Times has printed over 330 articles mentioning the disease in the last 30 days, while even the staid Wall Street Journal published ten SARS articles on a single day.

University of Toronto Medical historian Edward Shorter calls SARS reaction "A media-fanned wave of mass hysteria," and "mass psychosis." But is he overstating the case?" (Michael Fumento, National Review Online)

"'Chocolate for sport' faces boycott threat" - "A SCHEME backed by the Government to swap chocolate wrappers for sports equipment was under threat yesterday after thousands of head teachers boycotted it. Union leaders representing most school heads said that the £9 million campaign by Cadbury Schweppes sent out the wrong message at a time when child obesity had reached record levels. David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, and John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads’ Association, said that a rebellion by nutrition-conscious parents had derailed the scheme. The move was a public relations disaster for the campaign, Cadbury Get Active, which would require a child to eat 5,440 chocolate bars before he or she could claim a free football net." (The Times)

Actually, no, this is not an individual consumption thing. A school that collectively gathers that number of promotional wrappers qualifies for the cited sports equipment. Given that my children attended schools with numbers ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 students, from about two-thirds that number of families, a few thousand wrappers over a period of weeks or, more commonly, months, was a real nothing ask.

Lemme guess, boycotting sports equipment supplied to schools for use by students in exchange for the wrappers from products said students and their families will consume anyway is ForTheChildren™, yes? Well, good thing we discouraged them from that little scam - next thing you know the kids would be risking sports injuries out on the playing fields using the darn equipment. Let's not encourage exercise or anything that could be dangerous. Best if we just sit them safely before the idiot box with a nice box of chocolates to keep them quiet, eh?

"House of Lords debates safety of corned beef cans" - "During debate in the House of Lords, Labour peer Lord Harrison has called for pressure to be put on food manufacturers to change the "inherently unsafe" design of corned beef cans." (just-food.com)

It's a dangerous world alright: "He added that it was not possible to protect the British public from all household risks – 73 accidents a year are caused by toothpaste and 823 by letters and envelopes."

"A bit of danger is good for you" - "Wherever you look in today's world there are things to be scared of - new diseases, the threat of terrorism, crime and crashes. But a conference this week claims that being prepared to risk a bit of danger is good for society. If it's not one thing we should be scared of, it's another. Every day there is a different threat - whether it's Sars, terrorist bombs, shootings, train crashes, MMR, bacteria on kitchen worktops, or disappearing pension funds. The world seems to be a dangerous place, and so the only responsible thing to do is to take care of yourself and your family, and keep your eyes open and fingers crossed. But could things have gone too far?" (BBC News Online)

"Vitamins can damage your health, says watchdog" - "Vitamin and mineral supplements could cause more harm than good, the Food Standards Agency will say today. It is calling for one supplement to be banned and says that six other substances could damage health irreversibly. The warning is issued as the Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals reports that several of the most popular supplements could have long-term health implications." (Daily Telegraph)

"Report warns of danger from pesticide drift" - "SAN FRANCISCO - A California environmental group said in a report released yesterday that pesticides used in agriculture are routinely being blown away from farms and towards nearby communities, where they are posing health risks. The report, by a group called Californians for Pesticide Reform, said that four of six pesticides studied were found far from farm areas in concentrations higher than safe standards." (Reuters)

"INTERNET CONSULT OPENS ON NEW EUROPEAN CHEMICALS LAW" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium, May 7, 2003 - The European Commission is using the Internet for public consultation on the new draft Chemicals Legislation, presented jointly by environment and enterprise commissioners today. The draft chemicals law intends to completely overhaul the European Union's regulatory system for chemicals, replacing 40 different pieces of current legislation." (ENS)

"Discovery of 'Asian Brown Cloud' Over Indian Ocean Sets Off Fight" - "LA JOLLA, Calif. -- In 1999, Indian scientist Veerabhadran Ramanathan led a team of researchers that discovered one of the largest bodies of pollution ever measured.

Using planes, ships, balloons and satellites, his multinational team of 200 scientists tracked a gritty brown blanket of soot, dust and smoke that was nearly two miles thick. It hung over an area of the Indian Ocean roughly the size of the U.S.

Quickly dubbed the "Asian Brown Cloud," the discovery opened a new frontier in atmospheric study. It suggested that man-made soot may be almost as critical a factor in causing climate change as the invisible layers of carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases emitted from power plants, factories and cars.

The study and subsequent research showed such clouds could blow thousands of miles, contributing to global warming and spreading harmful pollutants such as mercury and acid far from their point of origin. Last August a United Nations agency warned the cloud could lead to "several hundreds of thousands of premature deaths" from respiratory disease, as well as droughts and crop failures.

But now the research -- and prospects for further funding to advance it -- have been shrouded by a cloud of international squabbling." (John J Fialka, The Wall Street Journal)

"Some like it hot" - "Those who think the end of the world is nigh courtesy of global warming may have some lessons of history to learn. Or do they? Claire Miller reports." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Careful Claire, your much-vaunted "consensus opinion" may be exposed as seriously divided. People might even realise there are serious challenges to the absurd "hockey stick" hypothesis, hottest decade/century/millennium dogma, atmospheric CO2 being a driver of global temperature rather than a response to it, "discernable anthropogenic effect" ...

"Russia to stage climate conference, but undecided on Kyoto" - "MOSCOW - An international conference on climate change is to take place in Moscow from September 29 to October 3 at the initiative of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In March, Russian ecologists said the mooted conference could be the occasion for Russia to announce a decision to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases.

However "the conference will be purely scientific, and no political decision will be taken," Yury Izrael, head of the Academy of Sciences' Climate and Ecology Institute, told reporters Wednesday." (AFP)

"UK 'doing well on emissions'" - "The UK is doing better than many other countries at cutting greenhouse gas emissions, a group of UN experts says. Britain is well on track to meet Kyoto's target of reducing emissions by 12.5%, compared to 1990 levels, the experts say." (BBC News Online)

"Lieberman energy plan would slash US oil imports" - "WASHINGTON - Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Joseph Lieberman will unveil yesterday his national energy plan that aims to slash within a decade U.S. oil imports by almost two-thirds and in 20 years eliminate the need for foreign oil completely." (Reuters)

"Environmentalists: SUVs cause war" - "NEW YORK - Environmental groups launched a new attack on sport/utility vehicles and Detroit automakers Wednesday, charging that lack of progress on more fuel-efficient vehicles could be responsible for future U.S. wars in the Middle East." (CNN/Money)

"GM food is safe to eat, says Royal Society" - "FOODS that have been genetically modified pose no greater threat to human health than conventional varieties, Britain’s leading scientific institution said yesterday. There was no scientific evidence that foods made from GM crops were any more dangerous to eat than those that were not, the Royal Society said in its submission to the Government’s GM Science Review. The nutritional quality of GM foods and their potential for causing allergic reactions was no different from that of non-GM produce, and no credible study had yet found evidence that genetic engineering could harm human health. Claims by campaign groups that eating GM food was risky had no scientific basis whatsoever, the report said." (The Times)

"EU official sees boycotts if US files biotech suit" - "WASHINGTON - European consumers could boycott American goods if the Bush administration challenges the legality of the EU's moratorium on genetically modified foods and drugs, an EU official said. With U.S.-EU ties still strained over the war in Iraq, the filing of a World Trade Organization (WTO) complaint could provoke a consumer backlash in Europe that "could trigger a boycott of American food products," said Tony Van der haegen, a biotech policy expert at the European Commission office in Washington." (Reuters)

"Monsanto Brazil seeks royalties for illegal RR soy" - "SAO PAULO, Brazil - The Brazilian unit of U.S. farm products maker Monsanto Co. said it was seeking royalties for the illegal use of the firm's trademark genetically-modified "Roundup Ready" (RR) soybeans in Brazil." (Reuters)

May 7, 2003

"EU plans tough screening of toxic chemicals" - "BRUSSELS - The European Commission will today propose tough new controls on chemicals to curb the effect of toxic substances on humans and the environment in a bill that could influence lawmakers around the world. The new law would oblige chemical firms to register and test for safety 30,000 chemicals for a cost of up to seven billion euros ($7.86 billion) in the first 10 years, according to Commission estimates." (Reuters)

"Industrial development offers hope — and danger — for Brazil's vast wetlands" - "CORUMBA, Brazil — They come from as far away as Germany and Japan, eager to marvel at the alligators and to fish for rainbow trout in the tea-hued waters, to stand under skies busy with white storks and red-and-blue macaws. But the tourists don't come in the needed numbers.

If ever a place seemed made for ecotourism, it was Brazil's Pantanal, the world's biggest expanse of wetlands. For years, people in the region bet on its potential for economic development based on conservation. Not anymore. Tourism has failed to bring the hoped-for prosperity, and support is growing for old-fashioned industrial development — even if that means perhaps irreversible damage to the ecosystem." (Associated Press)

"Europe slips on greenhouse targets" - "Emissions of greenhouse gases from the European Union increased in 2001 for the second year running. The European Environment Agency (EEA) estimates they were 1% greater than in 2000. The EU as a whole is committed to reducing emissions by 8% on their 1990 levels by between 2008 and 2012. On present trends, it appears to stand almost no chance of keeping its promise. The 8% cut is the commitment made by the EU under the terms of the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement on tackling climate change. Not enough signatories have yet ratified the protocol to allow it to enter into force. Two years ago President Bush said the US would not ratify it, and Australia has followed suit." (BBC News Online) | Wintry Defeat for Kyoto (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

World Climate Report, Vol. 8, No.17, May 5, 2003 (GES)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT Vol. 4, No.9" - "May 5th’s edition of World Climate Report features our comments on an editorial by Science magazine’s chief editor Donald Kennedy. He claims that unlike what happens in the social sciences with issues like gun control, there’ve been no shenanigans in the climate sciences (see www.co2andclimate.org/climate/v8n17/feature.htm). While we thought him to be a bit naïve on that score, we should have held fire for a week; it turns out we were too generous in our assessment. The most recent edition of Science manages to up-end its chief editor’s claim." (GES)

"Splitting Hairs with a Hatchet: Climate Model Not Up to Task of Determining Real-World Tropospheric Temperature Trend" - "Summary: For some time, now, two groups of scientists have carefully massaged the same set of satellite-derived proto-temperature data in an attempt to determine how earth's near-surface air temperature and that of the atmosphere above may have varied over the past quarter-century. Their results differ ever so slightly, yet ever so significantly, for the economic and political consequences of who is the more correct are enormous. Hence, we here review the most recent development in this high-stakes field of atmospheric science." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Calcification in Coral Reefs" - "Summary: Climate alarmists say it should be declining. Real-world surveys say..." (co2science.org)

"Greening of the Earth" - "Summary: As the air's CO2 content rises, earth's plants assimilate ever more of the magnificent molecule and respond in a host of marvelous ways that promote vegetative productivity, which is the fundamental activity that makes possible the existence of nearly all forms of life on the planet." (co2science.org)

Current Journal Reviews:
"Six Decades of Sea-Level Extremes in the Northern Adriatic" - "Summary: With locally rising sea levels and "unprecedented" global warming that is supposed to promote storminess, extreme surges of the Northern Adriatic at Trieste must be becoming monstrous. Continental Shelf Research 23: 225-235." (co2science.org)

"Moisture Regimes of the Northern Prairies of North America" - "Summary: How do they vary? Let us count the ways! Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 100: 2483-2488." (co2science.org)

"Montreal and Winnipeg exchanges ponder carbon emissions trading" - "OTTAWA -- As Canada moves toward implementation of the Kyoto accord, the Montreal Exchange and the Winnipeg Commodities Exchange are eyeing a potentially lucrative business in carbon emissions trading. Such a system is seen as a way to encourage innovation among large industrial emitters and cut costs by letting the market determine where greenhouse gas emissions can be made most efficiently." (CP)

"US nuclear power snags may drain oil/natgas supply" - "NEW YORK - Extended summer shutdowns at U.S. nuclear power plants threaten to push up oil and natural gas prices this summer by straining already tight fossil fuel supplies, analysts said." (Reuters)

"Greens may delay Brazil Amazon hydro scheme" - "RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - The 1,087-megawatt Estreito dam in the Amazon basin is one of several hydroelectric schemes facing delay due to environmental lobbying, lack of government rules and financing problems, engineering and metals industry executives said." (Reuters)

"INTERVIEW - BP says taking cautious steps towards hydrogen fuel" - "MADRID - BP Plc, the world's third-largest oil firm, is taking a cautious approach to investing in hydrogen as a fuel, Vice President John Mogford said this week as the firm launched the world's first commercial hydrogen fuel cell-powered bus." (Reuters)

"Altered cold virus kills brain tumors in mice" - " WASHINGTON - Scientists have genetically altered a common cold virus so that it can destroy the most lethal type of brain tumor while not harming healthy tissue nearby." (AP)

"FEATURE - GM cotton gives more for less for South Africa farmers" - "HLOKOHLOKO, South Africa - Genetically modified crops have advocates and detractors, but for South African cotton farmer T.J. Buthelezi, the technology is a godsend." (Reuters)

"Experts Urge US To Propagate GM Technology" - "In the face of growing unacceptability of genetically modified (GM) food the world over, several policy analysts are urging the US to develop a pragmatic strategy for promoting GM crops, particularly in the Third World countries." (Financial Express)

"Looming ban for GM crops" - "GENETICALLY modified food crops could be banned in Victoria for at least another year. In a move sure to anger farming groups, the State Government is expected to bow to community concerns and announce a minimum 12-month moratorium on commercial GM food crops. Agriculture Minister Bob Cameron would not comment yesterday, but farming industry sources confirmed that a decision had been made and will be announced within days. New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania have already agreed to ban GM canola crops for at least this season, while the Queensland and the Northern Territory governments are still undecided on the issue." (Herald Sun)

"DA turns down Greenpeace bid to ban Bt corn" - "The Department of Agriculture (DA) will stand pat on its decision allowing the commercialization of the genetically-modified Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn, rejecting anew, calls for a moratorium on its production. Agriculture Secretary Luis P. Lorenzo Jr. said there is no sufficient scientific evidence that would warrant a moratorium on the commercialization of Bt corn. Non-govenrment organizations led by Greenpeace International are asking the DA to reverse an earlier policy that permits the commercial production of Bt corn, and in the process, revoke the license it issued late last year to Monsanto Philippines Inc. (MPI), the first company that began Bt corn production last January." (The Philippine Star)

May 6, 2003

"Alas, poor science, I knew thee well" - "Today, the Scientific Alliance is holding a conference, “2020 Vision — Powering the UK’s Future”, at the Royal Institution in London. The “grand narrative” of “global warming” will be cross-questioned in a debate on the science behind the myth and on its relationship to what passes for the Government’s energy policy. One keynote speaker is a formidable American scientist critical of the whole scenario. It will be fascinating to observe how her optimistic science fares in our doomsday world.

All last week, of course, we were bombarded by the Prince of Wales and his grey goo. I had hoped the noble Prince was inveighing against filthy chewing gum on our pavements; but, no such luck, it was just another everyday Post-Modernist tale of the end of the world, this time, not from “global warming”, but from nanotechnology and teeny robots.

Of course, we all have 1.4kg of “grey goo” between our ears, not to mention the staggering nanotechnology of 100 billion neurons. Some folk’s wrinkly matter, however, is gooier than others, and the Prince’s goo seems to be particularly sticky over science. Sadly, he, and far too many others who should know better, have become the genetically regressive symbols of a society frightened of its own shadow — nostalgic for a past that never was in an increasingly risk-averse world. Alas, poor science, I knew thee well. DVDs, antibiotics, dentistry, vaccination — how you have threatened us with constant disaster. How marvellous our lives would be if you had never been invented." (Philip Stott, The Times)

"New Legislation Would Protect Gun Industry From Lawsuits" - ""The gun industry, demonstrating its resurgent influence over Washington politics, is on the cusp of convincing President Bush and Congress to protect it from pending and future lawsuits," The Washington Post reports.

In "Gun Lawsuits Are No Business Of Congress," Senior Fellow Robert A. Levy writes that "the power to control frivolous lawsuits belongs to the states. When Congress' authority to regulate interstate commerce is misused to restrict gun lawsuits, we should not be surprised that it will also be misused to restrict gun possession and ownership." (Cato Institute)

"Ex-soldier hails landmark pension ruling in battle over Gulf war syndrome" - "A former soldier has won a landmark judgment that establishes a link between Gulf war syndrome and the cocktail of vaccinations given to troops before the conflict in 1991.

Alex Izett, 33, who served as a lance corporal in the Royal Engineers, said the ruling by the War Pensions Appeal Tribunal was a "watershed" in the fight to have the condition recognised. The father of two added: "I'm not only pleased for myself, I'm delighted for the Gulf war veterans as a whole.

"The inoculations should never have been given in the way they were given. They have taken my dignity, my livelihood but they are not going to take my life as well. I just hope that this opens the floodgates for more cases."

However, the Ministry of Defence, which has consistently claimed that there is no evidence of the existence of the syndrome, said that while it could not challenge the ruling, it did not agree with it." (Daily Telegraph) | MoD retreats on Gulf illness (The Guardian)

"Missing proof of cause and effect makes doctors sceptical" - "GULF WAR syndrome is a diagnosis that, because of the multitude of ill-defined signs and symptoms ascribed to it, will always excite some scepticism among doctors.

Before making a diagnosis they hope to find symptoms that can be measured objectively and for which there is a recognised causal agent. They also like to be able to show that if other people are subjected to the same conditions, they have the same or very similar symptoms.

Once cause and effect has been demonstrated, argument is over. However, it is difficult to prove a negative and therefore to be certain that a multitude of injections did not bring on certain troubles. While accepting the possibility, it is scientifically defensible to say that proof is weak." (Medical Briefing by Dr Thomas Stuttaford, The Times)

"Phytoestrogen impact on health?" - "05/05/03 - The UK’s independent scientific Committee on Toxicity (COT) is urging the government's health department, which has responsibility for infant health and feeding practices, to review its advice on the use of soya-based infant formulas. The recommendations are based on a new report on the impact of phytoestrogens in health, to be presented to the Food Standards Agency at its open meeting on 8 May. It is possible that phytoestrogens could adversely affect people with hypothyroidism, concluded the group, who found that despite many claims that phytoestrogens have a beneficial impact on health, the evidence does not convincingly support this view. Phytoestrogens are compounds produced naturally by some edible plants, most notably soya. In the body, they mimic or block the action of the human hormone oestrogen, although they are much less potent." (FoodNavigator.com)

Imagine that: "All foods can fit" - "People eating a mixed diet of lower-fat and high-fat foods consume more vitamins and minerals than those who stick to only lower-fat foods or high-fat foods, according to a study published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association." (American Dietetic Association)

You mean Granny's "A little of everything and not too much of anything" might have been right after all? And for omnivores too...

"Danish ban on antibiotics proves successful" - "05/05/03 - The complete ban on the use of antibiotics as growth promoters on Danish farms has not led to increases in food-poisoning bacteria as some feared. The Danish experience is seen as a test case for an impending European Union ban.

However, there has been a 50 per cent rise in the use of antibiotics to control disease since the Danish ban. "The bacteria don't care if you call them growth promoters or therapeutic drugs," said Wegener. Part of this increase is tied to secondary infections prompted by a viral epidemic in pigs. However, it seems some are also needed to control infections that would otherwise have been suppressed by growth promoters. Overall, though, antibiotic use is less than half what it was during the 1994 peak." (FoodProductionDaily.com)

"Study reveals textbook self-censorship" - "The classic children's story The Little Engine That Could has been banned in some U.S. jurisdictions because the train is male and The Friendly Dolphin rejected because it discriminates against students not living near the sea, according to a major study on education policy.

The study found officials who approve classroom materials want references to dinosaurs removed, because they prompt questions about evolution, and owls stricken as they are taboo for Navajo Indians.

Ketchup and french fries, bacon and eggs and ice cream and cake are also on the outs because of concerns over healthy eating habits.

Even birthday parties have been forbidden because they could upset children who do not get invited to them, says Dr. Diane Ravitch, author of The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn." (National Post)

"Food Fight" - "Hunger pains can apparently turn even the most upstanding diplomat into a looter. At noon on Friday, food workers at the U.N. headquarters walked off their jobs, calling a wildcat strike. The result: none of the U.N.'s five restaurants and bars was staffed. The walkout left thousands of U.N. employees scrounging for lunch — eventually, the masses stripped the cafeterias of everything, including the silverware." (Time)

"Fish Feel Pain When Hooked, Scientists in Britain Say" - "Animal rights activists now say they feel encouraged in their insistence that anglers should desist from their pastime." (New York Times)

"New mangrove forests threaten coral reefs" - "An audacious scheme to plant the world's desert coastlines with mangrove trees is being condemned by marine biologists as a potential disaster for coral reefs. The scheme is the brainchild of a retired US cell biologist, Gordon Sato. He wants to plant mangroves along hundreds of kilometres of coastline in Mexico, Arabia and elsewhere. His first 250,000 trees are already growing close to coral reefs on the shores of the Red Sea in Eritrea. "The object is to create whole new forests of mangrove trees in vast areas of the world," says Sato. He believes that mangroves will fight poverty by providing fodder for goats, and help combat global warming by absorbing carbon from the air. Sato estimates he could plant 50 million trees round the Red Sea alone, and 200 million on the shores of the Gulf of California in Mexico. If canals were used to take seawater inland, much of the Sahara, the Arabian Peninsula and the Atacama Desert of Chile could be planted, too. "Such forests would banish the problem of global warming," he says." (New Scientist)

"The Kyoto Cup" - "In the fourth overtime period of a recent Stanley Cup playoff game, I found my mind wandering to a different kind of hockey stick - the kind that UN scientists claim is sketched out by temperature records going back 1000 years or so. Since the first reports of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, UN scientists have used a reconstruction of past climates based on evidence from tree rings, coral, boreholes, and other proxy indicators that suggested the climate was mostly unchanging for the last 1000 years, with the spike of the last 150 years appearing to be clearly abnormal shooting upward like the blade of a hockey stick." (Kenneth Green, TCS)

"FEATURE - Los Alamos nuclear lab looks to build clean energy" - "LOS ALAMOS, N.M. - The birthplace of the atomic bomb, Los Alamos National Laboratory, is looking to embark on a new path that could make the preeminent nuclear weapons lab a leader in the clean-energy source of hydrogen fuel cells." (Reuters)

"Proposal Would Ease Rules of Livestock Farm Pollution" - "WASHINGTON, May 5 — The Environmental Protection Agency has been privately negotiating with large industrial livestock farms to offer them amnesty from the Clean Air Act and existing Superfund laws, people involved in the talks say. Instead of enforcing these environmental laws, the agency would monitor pollution levels at 30 or so large hog and chicken operations, under a plan circulated between agency officials and the industry." (New York Times)

"Green groups oppose exemption for US factory farms" - "WASHINGTON - Federal regulators should reject any proposals that would exempt huge "factory farms" feeding thousands of animals at a time from air pollution rules, six environmental groups said. The groups wrote to the Environmental Protection Agency one month after state and local air pollution officials voiced similar objections. The environmentalists said a decision was expected soon." (Reuters)

"Biotech Crops' Crossbreeding Targeted" - "WASHINGTON - Concerned that genetically modified plants will spread their genes to related crops in nearby fields, researchers have developed a system aimed at preventing such crossbreeding. It's a method they hope, with further refinement, will allow farmers to reseed crops yearly without worry about affecting nonmodified crops." (Associated Press)

May 5, 2003

"Government lawyers say burglars 'need protection'" - " Government lawyers trying to keep the Norfolk farmer Tony Martin behind bars will tell a High Court judge tomorrow that burglars are members of the public who must be protected from violent householders." (Independent)

What burglars need for protection:

  1. You have the right to remain silent.
  2. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
  3. You have the right to talk to a lawyer and have him present with you during questioning.
  4. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you, if you wish.
  5. You can decide at any time to exercise these rights and not answer any questions or make any statements.

I believe it's called Miranda Law.

What homeowners need for protection:

The right to keep and bear arms along with the inalienable right to protect home and hearth.

Hmm... sounds similar to: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." -- US Constitution: Bill of Rights: Second Amendment. [See also: Sources on the Second Amendment and Rights to Keep and Bear Arms in State Constitutions]

"HENRY I. MILLER: SARS and the misperception of risk" - "Americans are very risk-conscious. We buy muscular SUVs and spend billions on all manner of alternative medical therapies. Often, we learn about risks and remedies by relying on the media to interpret medical research and other data that purport to tell what is bad (or good) for us." (Scripps Howard News Service)

"Science, risk and the price of precaution" - "Imagine medicine without vaccines, penicillin, antibiotics, aspirin, X-rays, heart surgery, or the contraceptive pill.

Imagine scientific theory without Newton, Galileo, quantum mechanics, or the human genome project.

Imagine transport without aeroplanes, railways, cars or bicycles; power without gas, electricity or nuclear energy; agriculture without pesticides, hybrid crops or the plough. Imagine man had never been to the moon.

This is how scientists imagine history, had past developments been subject to the constraints of the 'precautionary principle' - the assumption that experimentation should only proceed where there is a guarantee that the outcome will not be harmful." (Sandy Starr, sp!ked)

Of fish and PCBs: "The lost boys in Never Never Land" - "The article is a festival of numerical prestidigitation with many fine examples of the art of misdirection but, as in the other example, nowhere does it actually mention the number of boys it is dealing with. Give them their due, however, at least they avoid the usual sex ratio scam and stick to the proportion of males, which for reasons of obscurity they call the secondary sex ratio. Perhaps the message is beginning to get through." (NumberWatch)

"Brussels to unveil chemicals risk assessment plan" - "Proposals for the most wide-ranging regulations ever for the chemical industry will be unveiled by the European Commission this week. The announcement on Wednesday will come after two years of fierce debate about the plan to oblige producers for the first time to submit risk assessments for almost all chemicals circulating within the European Union. At present, more than 90 per cent of such chemicals have not been registered, as they have been on the market since before 1981, when the current regime came into force. Environmentalists argue that much more information is needed about chemicals in the EU, particularly because of a rapid rise in allergies in recent decades. But industry and the US, which has trade concerns, warn that jobs are at risk and maintain it would have been better to focus on problem chemicals." (Financial Times)

"Tackling chemophobia" - "Nobody thinks routine daily exposure to synthetic chemicals causes cancer in humans.

Or rather, few who are experts in epidemiology, cancer etiology, or toxicology think so. But you wouldn't know that from the political and media debates on the topic, which often make it sound as if there's a greater than 50 percent chance that chemicals are responsible for an epidemic of cancer and other mysterious diseases." (Todd Seavey, sp!ked)

"Herbal tea 'damages teeth'" - "Drinking herbal tea may damage teeth, dentists have warned. Researchers at the University of Bristol Dental School have found these teas erode the enamel or protective layer on teeth. Some are even more harmful than orange juice, which is very acidic and is known to harm teeth. The researchers said the findings should act as a warning to people who regard herbal teas as a healthy alternative to other drinks." (BBC News Online)

Doh! "Natural 'cures' can be killers" - "STILLBIRTHS, lead poisoning, organ failure and unwanted pregnancy have been linked to complementary medicines, new research reveals. A review of studies into complementary medicine, obtained by the Sunday Herald Sun, warns of the dangers of unproven herbs and supplements, particularly to children and pregnant women.  It reveals thousands of cases of adverse health reactions or side effects." (Sunday Herald Sun)

Nanny super-state? Super nanny-state? "Smoky bacon crisps face EU ban" - "SMOKY bacon-flavoured crisps and other artificially smoke-flavoured foods are set to be outlawed under regulations being drafted in Brussels. The European parliament has declared that the chemical producing the distinctive taste, extracted from condensed woodsmoke, may contain cancer-causing agents. New rules would spell the end for artificially flavoured “smoked” foods from salmon to char-grilled burgers. Barbecue sauces such as those at McDonald’s and Burger King would have to be withdrawn." (The Sunday Times) [Subscription required outside UK]

Is it true that they didn't consider banning genuinely smoked articles because, even when they could get them rolled in rice paper, the darn things were too hard to light?

"Risk of Birth Defects Is Linked to Obesity" - "CHICAGO, May 4 — Obese and overweight women face significantly increased risks of having babies with heart abnormalities and other birth defects, according to a study to be published on Monday in the journal Pediatrics. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said their study also confirmed a link between pre-pregnancy obesity and neural tube birth defects, including spina bifida. Compared with women whose weight is considered normal, the study found, those who were obese or overweight before pregnancy faced double the risk of having babies with heart defects and double the risk of multiple birth defects." (AP)

"Bush Wages Legal Battle Against Environmental Law" - "WASHINGTON, DC, May 2, 2003 - An empirical study released today shows that the Bush administration has repeatedly used the federal courts to try and undermine the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a law environmentalists describe as the "Magna Carta" of U.S. environmental policy." (ENS)

"Bah, Wilderness! Reopening a Frontier to Development" - "SEATTLE — More than a century after historians declared an end to the American Frontier, the Interior Department made a somewhat similar announcement last month, with no fanfare. On a Friday night, just after Congress had left for spring break, the government said it would no longer consider huge swaths of public land to be wilderness.

The administration declared that it would end reviews of Western landholdings for new wilderness protection. As long as the lands had been under consideration for the American wilderness system, they had temporary protection from development.

With a single order, the Bush administration removed more than 200 million acres from further wilderness study, including caribou stamping ground in Alaska, the red rock canyons and mesas of southern Utah, Case Mountain with its sequoia forests in California and a wall of rainbow-colored rock known as Vermillion Basin in Colorado." (New York Times) | The End of Wilderness (New York Times editorial)

BIG GREEN : Inside the Nature Conservancy: "Nonprofit Land Bank Amasses Billions" - First of three articles "The Arlington-based Nature Conservancy has blossomed into the world's richest environmental group, amassing $3 billion in assets by pledging to save precious places." (The Washington Post)

BIG GREEN : When Conservation and Business Fail to Mix: "How a Bid to Save a Species Came to Grief" - Second of three articles "Eight years ago, Mobil Oil gave the Nature Conservancy what was one of the group's largest corporate donations, a patch of prairie that encompassed the last native breeding ground of a highly endangered bird." (The Washington Post)

Special Section: The Nature Conservancy (The Washington Post)

"A bleak corner of Essex is being hailed as England's rainforest" - "It is one of the more unlikely ecological finds in Britain in a generation. A derelict oil terminal beside a giant superstore in one of the unloveliest corners of Essex has been found to have more wildlife per square foot than any national nature reserve. It has been described as "England's little rainforest" and is becoming a place of pilgrimage for scientists." (The Guardian)

"EU worried about Kyoto treaty implementation" - "ATHENS - European Commission President Romano Prodi urged non-EU countries to ratify the 1997 Kyoto global warming treaty, with official sources saying the chief of the EU's executive was very worried about the slackening pace of the treaty's ratification process." (AFP)

"Japan, Russia at odds over plan to reduce CO2; Partners can't come to terms on who would get credit for emissions cuts under Kyoto Protocol" - "MOSCOW Japan and Russia are at odds over a possible agreement related to swapping credits earned for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, it was learned Sunday.

According to negotiators from both countries, the two are trying to work out an intergovernmental pact on the joint implementation of reductions as part of efforts to curb global warming.

The talks ran into rough waters after Russia reversed its position on an earlier agreement. It is now refusing to allow Japan to take all the CO2 emission-reduction credits in the envisioned Japan-supported energy projects in Russia, according to negotiation sources.

Japanese negotiators said they will continue attempts to reach an agreement, but Mukhamed Tsikanov, Russian deputy economic development and trade minister, said there is a possibility that Moscow may give up on concluding the pact if differences remain.

If concluded, the pact is expected to be the first full-fledged intergovernmental agreement on emissions reduction under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol aimed at curbing global warming. But negotiations will most likely continue for some time." (Kyodo)

"Future ozone levels could gravely threaten air quality of northern hemisphere" - "Global tropospheric oxone is likely to increase throughout the 21st century, and could increase by an average of 25% by 2030, according to a new study of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) ozone data. At worst, the increases could be of a magnitude that gravely threatens urban and rural air quality over most of the northern hemisphere." (Edie.net)

"Asthma rate may be stabilizing in US - CDC" - "ATLANTA - The number of American adults who suffer from asthma appears to have stabilized after soaring in the 1980s and 1990s, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said." (Reuters)

"Fuel Economy Hit 22-Year Low" - "DETROIT, May 2 — The average fuel economy of the nation's cars and trucks fell to its lowest level in 22 years in the 2002 model year, the Environmental Protection Agency reported today.

The technological and engineering leaps of the last two decades have been poured into everything but fuel economy, according to the agency's statistics. Since 1981, the average vehicle has 93 percent more horsepower and is 29 percent faster in going from 0 to 60 miles an hour. It is also 24 percent heavier, reflecting surging sales of sport utility vehicles." (New York Times)

"Scientists believe cancer a side effect of gene therapy" - "BIRMINGHAM, England - A revolutionary gene therapy treatment that cured 10 French boys of a deadly inherited disorder known as "bubble boy disease" gave two of them leukemia, scientists said Sunday." (AP)

"What Your Genes Want You to Eat" - "''Ultimately, the feedback you'll get will be continuous,'' says Wasyl Malyj, an ''informatics'' scientist at the University of California at Davis working with the new Center of Excellence for Nutritional Genomics, who is helping me blue-sky here. The appeal of this kind of laser-targeted diet intervention is hard to miss. If you turn out to be among the population whose cholesterol count doesn't react much to diet, you'll be able to go ahead and eat those bacon sandwiches. You'll no longer be spending money on vitamin supplements that aren't doing anything for you; you'll take only the vitamins you need, in precisely the right doses. And there's a real chance of extending your life -- by postponing the onset of diseases to which you're naturally susceptible -- without having to buy even a single book by Deepak Chopra.

This, then, is the promise -- and the hype -- of nutritional genomics, the second wave of personalized medicine to come rolling out of the Human Genome Project (after pharmacogenomics, or designer drugs). The premise is simple: diet is a big factor in chronic disease, responsible, some say, for a third of most types of cancer. Dietary chemicals change the expression of one's genes and even the genome itself. And -- here's the key -- the influence of diet on health depends on an individual's genetic makeup." (New York Times Magazine)

Pusztai again: "Scientist who pressed GM panic button raises new food health fears" - "A SCIENTIST who shocked the world with research claiming that genetically modified (GM) crops might damage human health is to release new findings supporting his warnings, writes Jonathan Leake." (The Sunday Times) [Subscription required outside UK]

"South Korean wheat buyers warn US against biotech" - "WASHINGTON - South Korean wheat millers, major buyers of American grain, delivered a blunt message that they would boycott U.S. wheat if genetically-modified varieties are approved by the Bush administration." (Reuters)

"Brazil clears GM Argentine corn import" - "SAO PAULO, Brazil - Brazil's environmental protection agency, Ibama, said it freed a 17,800-tonne cargo of genetically modified Argentine corn that had been blocked at the northeastern port of Recife." (Reuters)

May 2, 2003

"Waistline Police Pull a Fasting One" - "A new report from the American Cancer Society says obesity causes 14 percent of cancer cases in men and 20 percent in women, but the study data are utterly unreliable." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Mr. Corzine's Chemical Attack" - "Question: What does chlorine have to do with terrorism? Answer: Nothing much, but that isn't stopping New Jersey Democrat and world-class nuisance Jon Corzine from trying to ban it under the guise of homeland security." (The Wall Street Journal)

Uh-huh... "High-fiber diet studies strengthen colon-cancer theories" - "LONDON - New research has revived the notion that a high-fiber diet may protect against colon cancer. Long-standing recommendations for high-fiber diets have taken a hit over the last few years after a handful of carefully conducted studies failed to find a benefit. But experts say two major studies published this week in The Lancet medical journal - one on Americans and the other on Europeans - indicate previous research may not have examined a broad enough range of fiber consumption or a wide enough variety of fiber sources to show an effect." (AP)

See also: "Fibre link to cancer risk questioned" - "Advice that a high-fibre diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables and grains might protect against one of the commonest forms of cancer is questioned by US researchers. Their study, covering 45,000 women, between the early 1970s and late 1990s, suggests there is little evidence that those eating the most fibre are less likely to develop bowel cancer, the second most common cancer in British women and the third in British men.

They also point out that a large study of British male heart attack victims suggested, if anything, that death was "higher among those allocated to dietary advice aimed at increasing fibre consumption." (The Guardian)

"Cannabis 'could kill 30,000 a year'" - "Thirty thousand Britons a year might eventually die from cannabis smoking, doctors claimed last night. They called for a battle against the drug to mirror that belatedly waged against tobacco, saying that it too could soon pose a major public health hazard. Their warning, made in an editorial in the British Medical Journal, is the most high-profile attempt yet to alert authorities to public health difficulties that might result from an apparently more liberal attitude to the drug." (The Guardian) | Comparing cannabis with tobacco (BMJ Editorial)

"UK plans to lower EMF limits" - "The exposure of people in the UK to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) should be cut significantly, the government's radiation advisers say. The National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) says the UK should adopt international exposure standards. EMFs are given off by many industrial and domestic electric installations and appliances, including mobile telephones and wiring circuits. Some experts say deeper cuts are necessary to protect people's health." (BBC News Online)

Uh-huh... "This does not mean that the old guidelines were fundamentally flawed. It is simply asking the question, should we have even greater safety margins than we already have."

What's safer than "safe"?

"Language police edict is bad for your elf" - "SNOW White and the Seven Persons of Short Stature does not have the same ring to it. But according to the American thought police, the word dwarf is offensive and should be replaced with more acceptable language." (The Scotsman)

"Hot Dogs And French Fries And Cakes (Oh, My!)" - "Not content with attempting to ban soda, bake sales, and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches in schools, the food police now want your children to think there's no such thing as hot dogs or candy." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Four horsemen of the Apocalypse?" - "Infectious diseases are in the news. Here are reports on four of them (second report, third, fourth). First malaria, which kills ten times as many people a day as SARS has killed in total." (The Economist)

"NASA DISCOVERS A SOGGY SECRET OF EL NIÑO" - "NASA-funded researchers have discovered El Niño’s soggy secret. When scientists identified rain patterns in the Pacific Ocean, they discovered the secret of how El Niño moves rainfall around the globe during the life of these periodic climate events when waters warm in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The results may help scientists improve rainfall forecasts around the globe during the life of an El Niño, and may also offer new insights into how an El Niño develops." (NASA/GSFC)

"Livermore researchers discover uncertainties in satellite data hamper detection of global warming" - "Using a new analysis of satellite temperature measurements, scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have determined that uncertainties in satellite data are a significant factor in studies attempting to detect human effects on climate." (University of California - Berkeley) | New look at satellite data supports global warming trend (NCAR/UCAR)

"Science Steals a Base" - "Experimental models incorporating both anthropogenic and natural factors are consistent with the new analysis showing tropospheric warming," claims the press release heralding a new paper being published today in Science. This paper is supposed to be a knockout blow against the satellite dataset that has consistently and annoyingly (for the global warming alarmists) shown that the earth's atmosphere is NOT warming nearly as much as the computer climate models predict. The new analysis, meant to prove finally that dangerous man-made global warming is real, was done by a team led by long-time global warming proponent Benjamin Santer from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

So is it true? Have the satellites been wrong about global temperature trends? The paper it turns out is mostly hot air, adding nothing new to the climate change debate. Evidently, the strategy being used by Santer et al. is that if their models don't agree with the data, then change the data." (Ronald Bailey, TCS)

"'Trial of Kyoto' - or Trial of the CBC?" - "Biases in the editing of the CBC program "The Trial of Kyoto" have been reported by Envirotruth and raise serious questions about the objectivity, impartiality, and even the competence of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Black Hydrogen?" - "Coal is carbon, like charcoal or diamonds, right? Wrong - try to grill a steak over it and you'll notice there's more to it than meets the eye." (Russell Seitz, TCS)

"Demand for oil forecast to climb 50% by 2025" - "The US Energy Department on Thursday forecast the world will need more than 50 per cent more oil in 2025 than it does now, throwing into question governments' massive efforts to reduce the world's dependence on oil.

Most of the extra barrels will come from the Middle East, despite US, European and Asian governments' attempts to diversify their suppliers away from the volatile region. Opec's market share is expected to grow, with the cartel more than doubling its current 27m barrels a day production to 56m b/d.

Efforts to move to more environmentally friendly fuels are almost negligible, the department's annual report indicated. Total carbon dioxide emissions are projected to increase 59 per cent by 2025, while the share of energy that comes from renewable sources - such as wind, water and solar power - will remain unchanged at 8 per cent." (Financial Times)

"German bird lovers bid to block offshore wind farm" - "FRANKFURT - Environmentalists, trying to preserve endangered birds in the North Sea, said this week they had filed a complaint at the European Commission to stop the planned Butendiek offshore wind farm in Germany. Butendiek is one of two approved German offshore wind farms projects and if realised would be a first step towards the country's goal to build 25,000 megawatts (MW) of offshore capacity by 2030 from a current zero. "We have filed a complaint to the Commission, which will examine the case, and if it decided that we are right it could take Germany to the European Court of Justice," said Claus Mayr, environmental expert at national environmental group NABU." (Reuters)

"State of the Scare" - "On May 1, the American Lung Association (ALA) releases its annual "State of the Air" report on air pollution levels in American cities. Like previous "State of the Air" reports, the news is alarming. The ALA claims "nearly half of the US population" lives in areas with dangerous levels of air pollution. Metropolitan areas from New York to San Diego are given letter grades of "F" for air quality.

Before taking this year's ALA report at face value, reporters should ask the ALA report's authors a few questions to clarify the report's biases." (Joel Schwartz and Steven F. Hayward, TCS)

"Government to study how cell phone towers affect the environment" - "WASHINGTON — Federal regulators launched a broad effort Thursday to study and police how the growing number of cell phone and broadcast towers sprouting across the country affects historic sites, Indian land, and the environment." (Associated Press)

Answer: a whole lot less than the bird mincers (a.k.a. "cuisinarts") greens want proliferated (with significant taxpayer subsidy, of course).

"Critics Attack Plan To Put Military Above the Law" - "WASHINGTON, DC, May 1, 2003 - Congressional Democrats held a press briefing on Capitol Hill today to rally opposition against the Bush administration's proposal to exempt the U.S. military from five major environmental laws. The administration says the laws are compromising the military's training and readiness, but a growing coalition of Democrats, environmentalists, state officials and public health groups believe the proposal is unnecessary and ill conceived." (ENS)

"Environmentalists: False prophets of doom" - "WASHINGTON -"Between 1980 and 1989, some 4 billion people, including 65 million Americans, will perish from starvation ... civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind." These are actual predictions by environmentalists celebrating the first Earth Day -- April 22, 1970." (Christopher Burger, Knight Ridder/Tribune)

"Environmentalists dress like Tolkien's tree creatures for protest" - "VICTORIA -- Greenpeace used a scene from the popular Lord of the Rings movie trilogy Thursday to attack the B.C. government's new working forest policy. Protesters on stilts who were dressed up as moss-covered trees marched toward the B.C. legislature." (CP)

"Greenpeace ordered to pay loggers for lost time" - "Coastal loggers have claimed a victory against Greenpeace after the B.C. Supreme Court ordered the environmental activists to pay loggers affected by a blockade for lost wages. Greenpeace and two of its organizers, Tzeporah Berman and Tamara Stark, were found to have wrongfully interfered and prevented 25 loggers from going to work on Roderick Island on B.C.'s central coast in May 1997. The activists were among a group who chained themselves to logging equipment. "This decision is going to certainly raise the bar for future protests," said Darrell Wong, president of IWA Canada Local 2171. "Greenpeace is going to have to temper its actions against our members." (Vancouver Sun)

"Demand for wood may lead to forest growth, not decline, study says" - "Increased demand for forest products was a cause of increased forest cover in India during the last three decades, according to a joint study by researchers at Brown and Harvard University in the May 2003 Quarterly Journal of Economics. The finding contradicts the idea that economic development inevitably leads to deforestation." (Brown University)

"A movement to grant legal protections to animals is gathering force" - "Does a pig packed into a tiny factory cage waiting to be killed have any rights in the United States? Should it have? And what about the chimpanzee, who shares 99 percent of its active DNA with humans? Should anyone be allowed to "own" an animal with so many of our own attributes, including the ability to reason, use tools, and respond to language? Isn't that like slavery? The fight to give animals legal rights barely registers on the environmental agenda, but perhaps it should. This isn't simply an endless philosophical debate but a gathering global force with broad implications for our planet's future, including how we use our natural resources. If animals had rights, we probably couldn't continue to eat them, experiment on them with impunity, or wear their skins on our backs. Our fundamental relationship would change." (Jim Motavalli, E/The Environmental Magazine)

Fortunately Jim, there's no such thing as "animal rights" - never can be.

"GRRR... PETA Pitches Violence To Kids" - "If you've visited our sister site ActivistCash.com lately, you may have noticed an update profile of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Our new & improved look at PETA includes many of the group's most recent flirtations with bad taste and violent crime. It also points out an unpleasant fact about PETA's child-oriented magazine, called "GRRR! kids bite back." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Scientists work on drought-proof rice" - "LOCAL scientists are trying to develop drought-resistant rice for farmers in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. The University of Queensland (UQ) received a $1 million grant for the research, which attempts to identify the physiological characteristics that provide drought tolerance for the rain-fed rice systems in the Mekong region of Asia." (AAP)

May 1, 2003

"Cincinnati's Council Decides to Drop Suit Against Gun Makers" - "CINCINNATI, April 30 — The city today dropped a lawsuit that sought to hold firearms makers liable for gun-related crimes, conceding that a fight against the gun industry would be too expensive. The City Council voted unanimously to withdraw from the case on the advice of the lawyer representing the city, Stanley Chesley. He noted that proposed federal legislation would grant the industry immunity from all such suits and the cost of having police officers testify in the case. The lawsuit, filed four years ago, had put Cincinnati in the forefront of municipal efforts to hold gun manufacturers partly responsible for crimes committed with guns." (Reuters)

Ah, springtime... "Greenpeace warning on household chemicals" - "HOUSEHOLDERS are being exposed to potentially harmful chemicals from everyday items around the home, according to a report today by environment group Greenpeace. It conducted a study which found "substantial amounts" of certain chemicals used in everything from toiletries and furniture to electrical products and even toys. Greenpeace said while it cannot be certain the level of exposure is damaging health, the "widespread" presence of such additives raised serious questions." (Evening News)

"Massachusetts meeting to have scent-free zones" - "SHUTESBURY, Mass. - People who attend Shutesbury's upcoming town meeting will be segregated by scent to avoid disturbing those hypersensitive to chemicals and odors." (The Associated Press)

From the land of fruits and nuts: "California Mulls Testing Humans for Pollution" - "SACRAMENTO, California - California, land of cutting-edge environmental measures, is considering a new plan to test humans for minute traces of pollution and toxins, officials said on Wednesday.

Under legislation debated on Wednesday, the state could become the first in the nation to fund research to probe links between environmental toxins and chronic disease by testing human blood, urine, breast milk, and fatty tissue.

"We have a right to know what's in our bodies," said Jeanne Rizzo, executive director of the Breast Cancer (news - web sites) Fund. "Once we know what's showing up, we can start reducing our use of toxic compounds, and look more closely at the ones we don't know as much about." (Reuters)

How big was their budget deficit again?

"Pesticides linked with prostate cancer" - 'WASHINGTON — Farmers who use certain pesticides seem to have a high risk of prostate cancer, U.S. government researchers said Thursday. The researchers, who published their study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, confirmed other findings that show farmers have an unusually high risk of prostate cancer." (Reuters)

Occupational exposure RR 1.14 - hence the weasel construct "linked with..."

"U.S. monitoring troops for Gulf War Syndrome" - "WASHINGTON - The Defense Department, following a law meant to detect Gulf War Syndrome in returning troops, said Wednesday it will collect blood from soldiers leaving Iraq and then conduct more comprehensive health evaluations." (The Associated Press)

Doh! "Fibre link to cancer risk questioned" - "Advice that a high-fibre diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables and grains might protect against one of the commonest forms of cancer is questioned by US researchers. Their study, covering 45,000 women, between the early 1970s and late 1990s, suggests there is little evidence that those eating the most fibre are less likely to develop bowel cancer, the second most common cancer in British women and the third in British men.

They also point out that a large study of British male heart attack victims suggested, if anything, that death was "higher among those allocated to dietary advice aimed at increasing fibre consumption." (The Guardian)

"New study suggests that women eating PCB contaminated fish are less likely to give birth to boys" - "New research published in the open access journal, Environmental Health: a Global Access Science Source suggests that women exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls are less likely to give birth to boys. The results come from a study of mothers and fathers around the Great Lakes region of the United States who have eaten large quantities of contaminated fish." (BioMed Central)

"We should ignore this codswallop hook, line and sinker" - "If the piranha fish charged with the task of dispatching Dr Goldfinger’s adversaries could speak, their last words to Mr Bond would be: “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.” However much their gormless expressions might tempt us to think otherwise, fish can, and do, feel pain, according to Lynne Sneddon, head of animal biology at the University of Liverpool. She says she has found evidence of “pain receptors” in trout and proved that they work by injecting bee venom into the lips of the poor creatures and watching them writhe in agony." (Ross Clark, The Times)

"Activists 'Resist' Real Science on Antibiotic Resistance" - " As anti-consumer groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) carp about the health-promoting antibiotics that most farmers give to livestock, the real scientists have spoken. And for professional scaremongers, it's not a pretty sight." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Russia unlikely to ratify Kyoto Protocol" - "MOSCOW — A senior Russian official on Tuesday said Tuesday that Russia will not ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on global warming within this year for the pact to go into effect at an early date.

Mukhamed Tsikanov, vice minister of the Russian Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, the government agency in charge of evaluating the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on global warming, said, "It is unlikely that Russia will ratify the protocol within this year." (Kyodo News) [Complete]

"Fuel price hike could cut pollution" - "Big hikes in fuel prices and vehicle excise duty would have the greatest impact in reducing carbon dioxide emissions from traffic, according to an unpublished report commissioned by the UK Government. Increasing the price of petrol by 10% by the end of the decade and increasing road tax to £600 a year would be among the most effective ways of reducing pollution, says the report for the Department of Food, the Environment & Rural Affairs (Defra)." (BBC News Online)

"Capitalism is humanity’s most benign creation" - "Today is May 1, the International Day of Labour. It seems appropriate, therefore, to devote this column to the triumph of global capitalism. For if there is one social principle on which all economists, historians and politicians must now surely agree, it is that capitalism has done more than any other human construct to benefit working people around the world." (Anatole Kaletsky, The Times)

"Greenery on alert" - "Combating bioterrorism is no longer the domain of high-tech gadgets alone. A new breed of genetically engineered plants will soon be capable of functioning as "sentinels," detecting harmful chemical and biological agents in the atmosphere. Designed to turn fluorescent green or a sickly brown within minutes or hours of exposure, the plants could be used along airport runways or around military or industrial sites." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Anti-Biotech 'Tom'-Foolery" - " The Washington Post recently ran an epic, front-page article about genetically modified wheat, focusing on the story of Tom and Gail Wiley. The Wileys are described as "conventional, not organic, farmers" who slowly came around to opposing biotech crops after a few bad experiences. "I think all my life I've been an environmentalist," Gail Wiley told the Post, "even though you don't say that too loudly around here." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Australia farm groups opts for GM canola trial" - "SYDNEY - Australia's largest farmers' group yesterday passed a resolution supporting a three-year trial of genetically modified (GM) canola. The New South Wales Farmers Association executive council meeting voted to support a three-year trial of GM canola in the state up to a maximum of 5,000 hectares (12,360 acres) a year. The resolution shows that NSW farmers generally support the introduction of GM canola, which boosts yields, despite opposition from growers who fear loss of international markets." (Reuters)

"Brazil labeling plan for GM foods draws criticism" - "SAO PAULO, Brazil - The Brazilian government decree ordering labels to be put on all genetically modified foods drew criticism from both sides of the GM debate who said the decree was either confusing or insufficient." (Reuters)

"Greenpeace Guide designed to alarm rather than inform" - "TORONTO, April 30 - According to the Food Safety Network at the University of Guelph, today's efforts by Greenpeace to once again raise concerns about the safety of federally approved food products are designed to alarm rather than inform consumers. While agreeing that a voluntary labelling system, based on clear and consistent standards, for foods developed through genetic engineering (GE) would provide greater choices in the marketplace, FSN officials were adamant that GE food labelling would contribute nothing to food safety." (CNW)

"Between you and me, it's just a matter of when" - "The government says it will not rule on GM crops until after next month's public debate. But is that just spin? By Ian Sample." (The Guardian)