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Archives - May 2004

May 28, 2004

"Anti-Meat Activists Target School Lunches" - "A health scare over school lunches is brewing. The driving forces behind the junk science-fueled scare are the usual suspects -- anti-meat and environmental activist groups, and politicians who do the groups' bidding." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Uganda's New War" - "KAMPALA, Uganda - "It's a war, and we need the best weapons." As he is a soldier, it comes as no surprise that Uganda's Minister of Health, Brigadier Jim Muhwezi, describes his country's efforts to control malaria thus. But using one of the most effective tools against malaria, DDT, isn't going to be easy, particularly when one considers the pressure against its use." (Richard Tren, TCS)

"Dishing It Out, But Not Taking It" - "When it comes to criticism, Morgan Spurlock, director of "Super Size Me," can dish it out, but he sure can't take it. Ask him a tough question, and he turns to blubber. Suddenly, journalists are beginning to catch on to the fact that his documentary, which has received fawning reviews, is actually a repulsive and dishonest piece of puerile entertainment -- vomit and rectal exams tarted up with sociology and politics. On Monday, Maria Bartiromo nailed him on CNBC. He was reduced to a fool. It was beautiful to watch." (James K. Glassman, TCS)

"Out to Lunch" - "Sometimes one reads serious press releases from the European Commission and wonders whether to laugh or cry. Take this one: On May 22 David Byrne, the Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner (a wonderfully Orwellian title), announced that it is "time to take on obesity." (Helen Szamuely, TCS)

Gosh! "Published research contains 'high level of statistical errors'" - "Evidence based practice is currently in vogue, and basing medical practice on published evidence is clearly a good idea, but what if the published findings are inaccurate? An article published this week in BMC Medical Research Methodology shows that a large proportion of articles in top science and medical journals contain statistical errors, 4% of which may have caused non-significant findings to be misrepresented as being significant." (BioMed Central)

"New Surgeon General's Report Expands List of Diseases Caused By Smoking" - "WASHINGTON, May 27 -- U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona today released a new comprehensive report on smoking and health, revealing for the first time that smoking causes diseases in nearly every organ of the body. Published 40 years after the surgeon general's first report on smoking -- which concluded that smoking was a definite cause of three serious diseases -- this newest report finds that cigarette smoking is conclusively linked to diseases such as leukemia, cataracts, pneumonia and cancers of the cervix, kidney, pancreas and stomach.

"We've known for decades that smoking is bad for your health, but this report shows that it's even worse," Dr. Carmona said. "The toxins from cigarette smoke go everywhere the blood flows. I'm hoping this new information will help motivate people to quit smoking and convince young people not to start in the first place."

According to the report, smoking kills an estimated 440,000 Americans each year. On average, men who smoke cut their lives short by 13.2 years, and female smokers lose 14.5 years. The economic toll exceeds $157 billion each year in the United States -- $75 billion in direct medical costs and $82 billion in lost productivity." (U.S. Newswire) [Surgeon General's Report]

"Conclusively linked"... smoking is "conclusively linked" with socialising too but causation? That's a horse of a different colour, isn't it.

"Ecological science for a crowded planet" - "Ecologists must take their science in bold new directions if humans and the natural systems on which they depend are to coexist in the future. So states the Ecological Society of America's (ESA) plan, "Ecological Science and Sustainability for a Crowded Planet." Prepared by a 20-member ESA committee the report calls for greater use of ecological science in decision-making, research targeted at sustainability of a human-dominated Earth, and cultural changes within ecology." (Ecological Society of America)

"How do you rank world misery?" - "At Copenhagen Consensus, economists devise a Top 10 list of which global problems should be addressed first." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"'Earthshine' fall heats global warming debate" - "A new study of earthshine, the sunlight reflected back onto the Moon from our planet, suggests that falling cloud cover could explain the warming of the Earth's lower atmosphere seen over the last 20 years.

The idea presents a highly controversial alternative to most scientists' prime suspect for the warming - rising levels of greenhouse gases. However, although other researchers say the technique could produce useful data in the future, they argue the current study is simply not strong enough to draw meaningful conclusions." (NewScientist.com news service) | Scientists look at moon to shed light on Earth's climate (NASA/GSFC)

Couldn't resist the way this one's written up: "Unexpected changes in Earth's climate observed on the dark side of the moon" - "Scientists who monitor Earth's reflectance by measuring the moon's earthshine have observed large climate fluctuations since 1984. By combining eight years of earthshine data with nearly twenty years of partially overlapping satellite cloud data, they have found a gradual decline in the Earth's reflectance that became sharper in the last part of the 1990's, perhaps associated with the accelerated global warming in recent years. Surprisingly, the declining reflectance reversed completely in the past three years." (New Jersey Institute of Technology)

Just love the ominous inclusion of "perhaps associated with the accelerated global warming in recent years." But wait! there's more: "Surprisingly, the declining reflectance reversed completely in the past three years." No worries then, Earth's got better, eh!

Et tu, BMJ, et tu? "Global warming: a formidable challenge to health" - "Global warming is a real concern to health experts, according to a senior scientist in this week's BMJ. His comments come as global warming gets the Hollywood treatment in the disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow." (BMJ-British Medical Journal)

"'Tomorrow's' forecast: bad science on the big screen" - "If this were the Weather Channel, who would watch anything else? Four simultaneous tornadoes rip through L.A. Hail like grapefruit pelts Tokyo. Snow blankets New Delhi. Continent-sized storms plunge North America, Europe, and Asia into an ice age.

Welcome to the world according to "The Day After Tomorrow," Hollywood's latest natural-disaster offering. At heart, it's a polemic on climate change with blockbuster special effects and a few plot twists from past disaster movies - teen love forged in struggle and workaholic scientist saves neglected son.

But even if the movie gets passing marks for entertainment and is stirring the political caldron, it flunks Climate 101. And in the process, it runs the risk of trivializing as mere entertainment a problem that many researchers say is quite serious." (The Christian Science Monitor) | 'The Day After Tomorrow' is a disaster movie in every way (David Sterritt, The Christian Science Monitor) | Review: 'Day After Tomorrow' a wreck (Paul Clinton, CNN Reviewer) | A disaster, indeed (Toronto Star) | 'Tomorrow' is an expected, unimpressive end to the world (Tom Long, Detroit News) | Movie about global warming is just ludicrous (Steven F. Hayward, Houston Chronicle) | 'Day After Tomorrow' just senseless (Christian Toto, The Washington Times) | What a Disaster! (Stephen Hunter, Washington Post) | The Day After Tomorrow is full of hot gas (David Edelstein, Slate) | 'The Day After Tomorrow': Cloudy, chance of frosty reception (Mike Clark, USA TODAY) | “Ecozilla” (Scott Holleran, Box Office Mojo) | Disaster film has scientists laughing (Sandi Doughton, Seattle Times)

Don't forget to vote on How big a howler is The Day after Tomorrow?

Uh-huh... "An idea whose time has come" - "By tackling global warming, Blair can show he is not a US poodle." (Larry Elliott, The Guardian)

"UK: Awareness of Global Warming 'Is Low'" - "Public understanding of climate change and the international political agenda to tackle this issue is low, according to a poll out today. Half of Britons have never heard of the Kyoto Agreement – the deal legally binding countries to reducing greenhouse gases and ratified by Europe, Japan and the developing nations. The findings by Mori Social Research Institute, come on the eve of the release of the Hollywood blockbuster “The Day After Tomorrow.” The report shows the British public may be out of step with Prime Minister Tony Blair’s opinion, that climate change is the most important issue facing the world today. It also reveals a level of ignorance and scepticism over environmental issues." (PA News)

"UK: Anger at 'gag' on pollution report" - "The suppression of damaging statistics on large increases in greenhouse gas emissions from transport was condemned by MPs and environment groups yesterday, when they demanded the independence of the Office of National Statistics (ONS) should be safeguarded.

A report from the ONS due to be published last week showed pollution from air transport rose 85% between 1990 and 2002, from 20.2 million tonnes to 37.3 million tonnes, and that from freight transport rose 59% from 15.8 million tonnes to 25.1 million tonnes." (The Guardian)

"More energy from smokestacks" - "Two inventors have come up with a simple idea to harvest waste heat from industrial smokestacks, and turn it into electricity. The pair calculate that their system would boost the efficiency of power stations using the same amount of fuel. This would drastically cut CO2 emissions, and reduce the amount of toxic pollution released into the atmosphere." (New Scientist)

"Biomass Could Reduce CO2 Emissions, Report Says" - "BRUSSELS - Using biomass, a type of fuel made of materials such as wood and manure, instead of coal to generate electricity could lower the world's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and create jobs, a report said Thursday. The World Wide Fund for Nature, which wrote the report with the European Biomass Industry Association, said in a statement that production of biomass would create hundreds of thousands of jobs while helping to reduce CO2, which contributes to global warming." (Reuters)

"Is nuclear power really the answer to climate change?" - "It's not a solution that will find much support. Twenty-five years ago most of the world thought James Lovelock had taken leave of his senses with the Gaia hypothesis. Just when his theory that the earth is like a giant super-organism that can cure its own imbalances has finally found wide scientific acceptance, he has set off at an even more controversial tangent.

The 84-year-old independent scientist and environmentalist is backing nuclear power as the solution to climate change, while most of the rest of the world has decided to look to renewables.

Lovelock is unlikely to win the argument. Despite gratitude from what most consider a dying industry, his long-term green admirers must wonder how this distinguished scientist came to such a strange conclusion.

He talks of the potential collapse of civilisation if the world fails to address climate change, which he says is much faster than cautious mainstream science claims." (The Guardian)

"Attitude Adjustment Needed" - "Just as wild packs of ravenous wolves prey upon the weakest members of the herds they hunt--the old, the young, and the injured--the enemies of biotechnology are trying to push their political agenda in specially selected locales. Their latest victory comes in Vermont, where the governor has just signed a bill requiring seed manufacturers to label genetically modified seed, starting in October. All sales will be reported to the state agriculture secretary as well.

That may not sound like much. After all, when we talk about Vermont we’re talking about a state with a population smaller than the total number of legal immigrants who came to the United States last year.

Yet some people hope this political cherry picking is only a start. As the website of one anti-biotech group proclaims, Vermont’s new labeling obligation “is an important first step toward enacting more stringent regulation later.”

What the activists really want, of course, is for their “stringent regulation” to strangle agricultural biotechnology right out of existence. This elitist attitude may come to affect people who won’t ever set foot in Vermont. As a new report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization makes clear, farmers in the developing world have the most to gain from advances in biotechnology." (Bill Horan, Truth About Trade and Technology)

"GMO rice trials on in Asia, crop three years away" - "BANGKOK - Asian countries are getting good responses from the field trials of genetically modified rice, but the first commercial crop may be at least three years away, the head of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) said on Thursday. Director-General Ronald P. Cantrell said on the sidelines of the Thailand Rice Convention 2004 field trials were going on in China, India and the Philippines and the governments were studying the benefits closely before taking the plunge. "Field trials are on but it could be three years on the lower side and five years on the higher side to see the first genetically modified rice crop," Cantrell told Reuters. The debate surrounding biotech grains has intensified, with non-governmental organisations mounting protests worldwide as they argue such crops pose health hazards. Supporters say they help boost productivity and lower production costs in addition to boosting nutritional content." (Reuters)

May 27, 2004

"Many Nursing Programs Ignore Merit in Admissions" - "SACRAMENTO, CA – If you enter a hospital, do you want to be attended by a nurse who was admitted to a nursing program based on merit or on a random lottery system? Most Californians would naturally say merit. It would, therefore, shock people to learn that many nursing programs in California ignore the qualifications of applicants in favor of a luck-of-the-draw lottery." (PRI)

On the Helena 'miracle' - BMJ rapid responses: "Additional Information on Acute Myocardial Infarctions in Helena, Montana" - "Dear Sir, The report by Sargent et al. is interesting, but it is premature to attribute the reduced hospital admissions for acute myocardial infarction (AMI) in Helena, Montana during the period June-November 2002 to the concurrent smoking ban in that city. The observations are consistent with random variation that occurs among groups of incidence statistics based on small numbers." (Brad Rodu, University of Alabama at Birmingham) | Secondhand Misimpressions... (Michael J. McFadden) | To Kathleen S Cheney (Craig Anctil) | Sample too small to form a conclusion (Ben Hirsch) | When results look too good to be true, they probably are (Geoffrey C Kabat) | Science Blinded by Wishfull Thinking (Henry F Mizgala) | These dramatic findings warrant a more objective view of the study's limitations (Linda N Phillips) | How strong is the evidence that the observed incidence is attributable to the public smoking ban (Kofi O Ofuafor, Dr A Oladipo)

"First, Do No Harm Reduction?" - "Half a century of tobacco regulation has had dramatic effects on smoking behavior in the United States. But at the beginning of the twenty-first century, according to the Center for Disease Control, a definable "hard core" of cigarette smokers persists in the addiction. Approximately twenty-five percent of Americans, about 47 million people, remain smokers and that percentage changed little over the past thirteen years. Despite massive and expensive admonitions on the part of public and private agencies, so-called "quit rates" remain all but impervious (at only a three percent success rate in most studies) to "cold turkey" solutions and recalcitrant to many of the standard aids to cessation." (Robert B. Ekelund, Jr., TCS)

"Allergies May All Be in the Gut, Study Finds" - "WASHINGTON - Bugs in the gut may be causing many allergy symptoms felt in the head, from runny noses to trouble breathing, researchers said on Wednesday. And antibiotics could be to blame, the researchers told a meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. The findings could help explain the puzzling rise in asthma and allergies across the developed world in recent decades, the University of Michigan researchers said." (Reuters)

"Animal rights activists get day in court" - "Animal rights activists and laboratory researchers are to battle it out in the High Court after a senior judge decided yesterday that the issues raised by the campaigners were of such importance that they demanded a public hearing." (Independent)

"Seven Animal Rights Advocates Arrested" - "NEWARK, May 26 - Seven animal rights advocates were arrested on Wednesday on charges of trying to disrupt the work of a New Jersey pharmaceutical testing company and threatening its employees and those of six companies doing business with it, the authorities said." (New York Times)

Twaddle: "Too little done to cut obesity" - "The government's record on tackling obesity has been described as "woefully inadequate" by MPs, the BBC has learnt. A report by a House of Commons cross party committee of MPs is due to be published on Thursday. A late draft, seen by BBC Radio 4's Today programme warns the £3.5bn annual cost of obesity could threaten the end of a publicly funded health service. It also severely criticises government ministers in dealing with what MPs call an epidemic of obesity." (BBC News Online)

If you parse the headline it's absolutely accurate - people generally do too little compared with their energy intake and so gain weight. The rest, however, is total garbage. Fatsos are not force-fed and so must be responsible for their own choices. Pig out and get too fat - your problem, not society's and one only you can solve!

Governments provide a societal service overseeing reasonable safety standards in the food supply but most definitely do not belong in people's pantries. Get a life before we end up with bootleg choccies and speakeasy candy joints.

With apologies to Humphrey Bogart and Casablanca fans: Of all the candy joints in all the towns in all the world, she waddles into mine - just doesn't cut it.

Either we take personal responsibility or cry 'Havoc!' and let slip the dogs of food police.

Sir John disagrees: "Like the dinosaurs, they are doomed" (John Krebs, The Guardian)

Good: "Face it: it's all your own fat fault" - "The more the state tries to take responsibility for the problem, the less soluble the problem will become, and the more people will indeed feel that they are the "victims" of an affliction, when it is nothing but their own fat fault. The more the state prescribes the diet of children, the more it takes away responsibility from parents, and the less chance there is of genuinely persuading a child to cut down on Pringles or play more football.

Rather than introducing more NHS-funded "walking strategies", it would be far better if ministers launched a blistering attack on the compensation culture that is so inimical to sport in schools; and it would be better still if the Government did something to arrest the sale of school playing fields, which has been accelerating with almost every year since Labour came to power." (Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph)

Bad: "Panel Recommends Changes to Fight Obesity" - "LONDON - Food companies should use a "traffic light" system of red, orange and green symbols to help shoppers quickly determine how healthy their products are, a British parliamentary committee recommended Thursday. In a report that criticized the government, food manufacturers and advertisers for failing to do enough to fight obesity, the House of Commons Health Committee recommended the industry be given three years to voluntarily implement measures including the informational symbols. If companies fail to do so voluntarily, the government should require them to, the lawmakers said." (Associated Press)

Somewhat better: "Diet Experts Tell Fat U.S.--Turn Off TV, Eat Smart" - "WASHINGTON - Increasingly overweight Americans should turn off the TV, get some exercise and eat "a wide variety of foods," a panel of dietary experts said on Wednesday, giving a cold shoulder to the craze for high-protein diets.

The 13-member panel, commissioned to update the Dietary Guidelines for Americans -- the government's tipsheet for healthful eating -- said Americans need to balance food intake with their activity level to avoid gaining weight." (Reuters)

Banzhaf, of course: "Tobacco Foe Says Fat Suits May Target Sweetener Makers" - "NEW YORK - The makers of a corn sweetener used in foods like soft drinks and ice cream may be the next targets of lawsuits accusing the food industry of making people fat, according to a prominent anti-tobacco attorney.

The warning by attorney John Banzhaf about obesity litigation against the makers of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) comes on the heels of a high-profile lawsuit, twice dismissed in federal court, in which teenagers accused fast food chain McDonald's Corp. of making them obese." (Reuters)

"Food Scares - fact or fiction?" - "At the beginning of the twentieth century milk had a dubious safety record.

Many people became ill and often died from milk-borne bacterial infections. Pasteurization solved the pathogenic bacterial problems and milk became a safe healthy choice for consumers. But if one reads the newspapers of those days, many people claimed the pasteurization process was un-natural, would create poisons or would destroy the essence of the milk. Some still proclaim that today. Fortunately regulators don't believe such quaint rhetoric.

Modern day food scare marketing began in earnest in 1989 when a particular communication company and lobby group persuaded the media that a pesticide used on apples (Alar) was carcinogenic and killing our children. The media blitz was huge and soon that pesticide was removed from the market. But real research showed that, in fact Alar was not the toxic nightmare it was portrayed to be. One would have to drink 13,000 litres of apple juice a day to increase the risk of cancer." (Robert Wager, Globe and Mail)

"French split over green charter" - "France is proposing to make a historic change to its constitution by giving environmental issues as much weight as human and social rights. The controversial Environment Charter, initiated by President Jacques Chirac, will enshrine the right of all French people to "live in an environment which is balanced and respects their health." (The Guardian)

Balanced with what, I wonder?

"The Domino Theory, Redux" - "Exactly 50 years ago, the idea of the "domino theory" first found its way into popular discourse in the context of Communist aggression in Southeast Asia. While it sounds a bit like a Cold War relic today, the phrase remains useful to explain certain events. Consider the activist Rainforest Action Network's (RAN) recently concluded four-year campaign against Citigroup, one of America's most respected financial institutions." (Neil Hrab, American Enterprise Online)

"NZ: Warm and wet weather... blame the blob" - "Scientists have found an extraordinary "warm blob" in the oceans around New Zealand that sent temperatures soaring to record levels in the late 1990s. The blob, from north of New Zealand northwest to the Solomon Islands, raised the average sea level about 5cm above normal. It raised the average temperature in the top 800m below the surface of the Tasman Sea by 1.2C - producing extra heat equivalent to between 5000 and 10,000 times New Zealand's daily use of electricity. Dr Philip Sutton, of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa), said it was the biggest change observed in the heat system. "We are very excited about it because it's a huge signal and it could well happen again." He told a climate change seminar organised by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology in Wellington yesterday that the Tasman started to warm in 1996, peaked in 2001 and was now cooling." (New Zealand Herald)

"Russia's Vacillations on Kyoto" - "For more than a year the Kremlin has been dithering about signing the Kyoto Protocol, which aims at curbing CO2 emissions in order to counter purported man-made global warming. During that period many prominent Russian opponents of Kyoto have amply aired their objections against the Treaty. After the recent Russia/EU summit, however, President Putin announced on May 21 that Russia would join Kyoto after all." (Hans Labohm, TCS)

"Australia: We won't sign Kyoto Protocol: PM" - "Prime Minister John Howard says Australia will not sign the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, even though implementation of the world agreement is edging closer." (AAP)

"Global warming is as big a threat to the world as terrorism" - "Two-thirds of MPs think global warming is at least as big a threat to the world as terrorism, shows a survey that displays cross-party concern about Government priorities." (Independent)

Which proves that voters do not select parliamentary representatives by any criteria including scientific literacy.

Woohoo! "A modest proposal to save the planet" - "Our leaders are finally waking up to the fact that climate change, far from being a 'green' fantasy, is a real, imminent and potentially catastrophic threat to humanity. Yet preventative action seems to be as remote as ever. Isn't there something we could be doing? In an extract from his acclaimed new book, Mayer Hillman advocates radical changes to the way we conduct our daily lives that would ensure a future for our children." (Independent)

A ForTheChildren plea to SaveThePlanet® by, (how else?), purchasing Hillman's book (naturally).

"GlobalWarming.org LIVE CHAT 2pm EDT Thursday" - 'The Kyoto Protocol and its future' -- with Iain Murray: Join us live online to have your global warming questions answered by the experts.  Mr. Murray is a Senior Fellow at CEI, specializing in global climate change and environmental science. Mr. Murray edits Cooler Heads, the biweekly newsletter of the Cooler Heads Coalition, and writes regularly on scientific and statistical issues in public policy." GlobalWarming.org)

"Thank Poor Al Gore" - "Poor Al Gore. First he blows an election, failing to carry his home state. Then he backs Howard Dean. Next, he goes to New York to promote the Kyoto global warming treaty, and it turns out to be the coldest day in decades. And now this!" (James K. Glassman, TCS)

"A Film That Could Warm Up the Debate on Global Warming" - "Even as a summer disaster film, "The Day After Tomorrow" does not rank with the greats of yesteryear. Its dialogue is overwrought, its symbolism sophomoric, its subplots annoyingly irrelevant and its relationship to scientific reality tenuous at best." (Robert B. Semple. Jr., New York Times)

New Poll on EnviroSpin Watch: "'The Times' critic howled with laughter when he saw 'The Day after Tomorrow'. How many howls does the film deserve? (5 = one of the worst 'science' films ever)."

"Not The real Day After?" - "Experts agree movie is bad science, but disagree about global warming.

Christy, though, holds his own as he petitions Congress to direct global warming funds to a different cause.

"Enacting any of these noble-sounding initiatives to deal with climate change through increased energy costs might make wealthy urbanites or politicians feel good about themselves," Christy said, "but (such initiatives) would not improve the environment and would most certainly degrade the lives of those who need help now." (The Decatur Daily)

Fagan: "We Have to Think of the Future" - "Could a tidal wave really swamp New York? One expert says that some of the scary climate changes envisioned in ‘The Day After Tomorrow,’ aren't as far-fetched as they may seem." (Newsweek)

"Remember, at the end of the day, it's only a movie" - "The upcoming release of the global warming disaster movie ''The Day After Tomorrow'' reminds me of the noted global warming alarmist Stephen Schneider. In a Discover magazine interview in 1989, he was explaining how climate scientists handle communicating with the public: ''To capture the public imagination, we have to offer up some scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and little mention of any doubts one might have. Each of us has to decide the right balance between being effective, and being honest.''

Well, this tactic is about to come to a movie theater near you. Tornadoes in L.A., a wall of ocean water invading New York City, snow in tropical locales and an abrupt ice age in New England and Europe -- and all before the weekend." (Roy W. Spencer, Chicago Sun-Times)

"Bjorn Lomborg: Entertaining discredited ideas of a climatic catastrophe" - "AUSTRALIANS have two reasons to be disappointed by Hollywood blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow.

Sure, the special effects make for 125 minutes of excitement. As sudden climate change threatens to extinguish life on Earth, breathtaking catastrophes abound: a 30m tidal wave engulfs New York, Manhattan is buried in 30-storey snowdrifts and Los Angeles is hit by 400km/h tornadoes. The story-line is fun, too – a fearless paleoclimatologist played by Dennis Quaid straps on snowshoes to trek from Washington, DC, to New York to rescue his son, who is enjoying a teenage romance and burning the public library's books to stay warm.

The first disappointment will come from the fact that the world's sixth largest land area has been left on the cutting-room floor. Although promotional images show the iconic Sydney Opera House buried in ice, the closest this movie gets to the southern hemisphere is Mexico, which reluctantly accepts North American refugees fleeing from the new ice age.

The second let-down is more fundamental: none of the movie's thrilling developments could happen." (The Australian)

"Greenhouse critic to quit" - "CONTROVERSIAL Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg revealed yesterday that he would retire to academia at the conclusion of the international environment conference he was hosting in Copenhagen this week." (The Australian)

"Myron Ebell Debates LCV's Deb Callahan on Hannity and Colmes" (PDF) - "Ebell Dismisses 'Science' behind The Day After Tomorrow" (CEI)

"Spray cans warming planet, one dust-busting puff at a time" - "Sprays for cleaning computers and cameras contribute to global warming. Like a man-made butterfly effect, a ``harmless'' blast of air can have a far-reaching impact on the entire planet. It isn't a typhoon whipped up halfway around the world by the stirring of a tiny wing. It is actually something far worse-and even preventable. Each gust of air from an aerosol can-to blow dust, say, from a computer keyboard-releases a gas into the atmosphere linked to global warming. Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC), an industrial gas, is an alternative to banned fluorocarbon gases such as chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs), which eat away the protective ozone layer far above the Earth's surface. The impact of HFCs is quite alarming. One 500-gram spray can is estimated to contribute as much to global warming as the carbon dioxide an average person causes to be released by consuming energy in the home for six months." (The Asahi Shimbun)

"UK: Officials try to hide rise in transport pollution" - "Official figures showing sharp increases in gases responsible for climate change from air and freight transport were removed from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) report on the environment last week after pressure from the Department for Transport.

In a week when Tony Blair was insisting the issue of climate change was "very, very critical" and Margaret Beckett, the environment secretary, claimed the UK was a world leader in reducing emissions, official statistics would have shown an 85% increase in pollutants from the airline industry and 59% for freight transport since 1990.

Instead, the announcement was withdrawn and another substituted which did not mention transport emissions at all." (The Guardian)

"We are finally running out of cheap gas — good" - "As gas prices loft into the stratosphere, likely never to come down, we can expect to hear much doomsaying about how this will end the world as we know it. Let's hope so.

Our long-standing addiction to cheap oil has cost us dearly in terms of health, global security, human rights and a changing climate. It has also long stifled investment and innovation in alternative energy sources and technologies. Maybe we should look at expensive gas as an opportunity rather than a crisis." (Mitchell Anderson, Toronto Star)

"Are We Out of Gas?" - "With gasoline oil prices seemingly rocketing to Jupiter, and with newly-published books like "Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil" and "The End of Oil," it seems fair to ask if the world's fuel tank needle isn't finally tilting towards "E." (Michael Fumento, TCS)

"Nuclear jet crash 'could kill millions'" - "Fears that the UK's nuclear plants are vulnerable to a 9/11-style attack or accident are growing. Evidence is emerging that the no-fly zones around nuclear plants are regularly breached by both military and civilian aircraft. And a report for the UK parliament leaked to New Scientist says that such an attack might kill millions." (New Scientist)

"Organic-labeling rules allowing limited pesticide use withdrawn" - "WASHINGTON -- The Agriculture Department is dropping new organic food guidelines that allowed limited use of pesticides and antibiotics and drew criticism from some consumer groups and organic farmers.

Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman announced the action yesterday after critics said the guidelines made the organic label seem less meaningful. The department's Agricultural Marketing Service, which oversees the guidelines, will work with industry representatives to clarify the standards, she said." (Associated Press)

"Risk assessment methodologies for the effects of GM crops on human/animal health and the environment" - "The European Commission's Environment DG has published a call for tenders relating to the definition of risk assessment methodologies for the cumulative long term effects of genetically modified (GM) crops on human and animal health and the environment." (Cordis)

"South Africa: Ordinary citizens protest against GMOs" - "The main entrance leading to Parliament was turned into a cereal when protesters campaigning against genetically modified organisms (GMOs) emptied a bag half-full of yellow maize and substitute milk to highlight their concerns today. The protest, organised by the Environmental Justice Network Forum (EJNF), was in support of Biowatch." (SABC News)

"Syngenta decides not to market GM product in the EU after all" - "The Swiss company Syngenta has announced its decision not to market its genetically modified (GM) sweetcorn, BT11, despite the recent authorisation of the product by the European Commission.

Syngenta's decision not to place its product on sale to consumers for the time being is due to the reluctance of the European food industry to add GM corn to its product range. Consumer opposition is also very high, as evidenced by a petition handed in to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on 25 May.

In an interview with the French newspaper 'Les Echos', André Goig, the Director General of Syngenta, explained that the food industry has clearly announced that, at the present time, it will not commercialise GM corn." (Cordis)

"Argentina's GMO soy raising environment concerns" - "BUENOS AIRES, May 25 - Argentina's whole-hearted embrace of genetically modified soybeans is wreaking environmental havoc because of certain pesticides used on the altered crop as well as a jump in the amount of forests being cleared for soybean planting, critics charge.

Over 90 percent of Argentina's 30 million tonnes of soybeans are engineered to resist glyphosate, a comparatively benign herbicide that some green groups and researchers say creates resistant weeds and kills soil bacteria.

Government scientists and biotech backers fiercely dispute those claims. But no one denies that Argentina's feverish planting of modified soybeans to the exclusion of other crops, and in areas once forested, raises environmental concerns." (Reuters)

May 26, 2004

"UCT finds more effective way to treat malaria" - "University of Cape Town (UCT) researchers have found a more effective way of killing malaria parasites than quinine, offering new treatment hope to people with severe malaria in remote areas.

With about 3 000 people dying daily from malaria, most of them children, the new treatment promises far-reaching health implications, especially in sub-Saharan Africa where almost all (90 percent) of malaria cases occur." (Cape Argus)

"Can we restore wetlands and leave the mosquitoes out?" - "Wetlands provide humans with benefits, but are also breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes. Creating or restoring wetlands in an ethical manner requires explicitly addressing mosquito control as part of wetland restoration." (University of Arizona)

"Indoor mold, building dampness linked to respiratory problems and require better prevention" - "Scientific evidence links mold and other factors related to damp conditions in homes and buildings to asthma symptoms in some people with the chronic disorder, as well as to coughing, wheezing, and upper respiratory tract symptoms in otherwise healthy people, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies." (The National Academies)

"Panel Finds Mold in Buildings Is No Threat to Most People" - "A government panel of experts found no evidence of a link between mold and conditions like brain or neurological damage, reproductive problems and cancer." (New York Times)

"With one in four children overweight, the experts explain what can be done about it" - "A tough blueprint for tackling Britain's growing epidemic of obesity and weight problems is to be published tomorrow." (Independent)

"Vampire bats kill 22 in Brazil" - "Up to 22 people may have died after being bitten by rabies-carrying vampire bats in Brazil's Amazon state of Para, scientists said today after discovering a second affected area." (Reuters)

"Brazil Says Foreign Media Distort Amazon Destruction" - "BRASILIA, Brazil - Brazil's government accused foreign media and nongovernmental organizations on Tuesday of trying to undermine Brazil's farm boom by distorting the facts and linking it to destruction of the Amazon jungle.

Environmentalists have charged that burgeoning Brazilian soybean production has contributed to growing deforestation of the world's largest tropical jungle as farmers seek new land.

Brazil's Agriculture Ministry said the foreign reports of these charges showed a lack of knowledge about the Amazon and that farming there represented a tiny fraction of the jungle's total size." (Reuters)

Shriek!!! "Nanny madness - What's so terrible about the nanny state, anyway?" - "The government is at pains to avoid being accused of "nanny statism" - the current code for unwelcome interference in personal freedom. I have not heard a single speech by a health minister in recent months without this terrifying prospect being wheeled out. "We must guard against charges of nanny statism," says the minister, who goes on to remind the audience that individuals are responsible for their own actions and only they can choose to be healthy. The nanny slur crops up regularly in the media, too. Invariably, the reference is to "fears" of nanny-like behaviour, or the risk that this or that measure will be tarred - by persons unspecified - with the nanny brush." (Anna Coote, The Guardian)

She has to ask?

"What Europe Doesn't Understand: Neoconservatism is neither neo nor conservative. It's just American" - "Americans working and living in Europe are often struck by the preoccupation in defense and security circles with the pernicious influence of "neoconservatives" on U.S. foreign policy. There is a pervasive sense that American foreign policy is being driven down a radically new path by a small band of ideologues who have virtually hijacked the policymaking process." (Opinion Journal)

"Volcano 'drove up UK death toll'" - "Volcanic eruptions in Iceland probably caused an unusual rise in deaths in England during the summer of 1783. UK experts suggest a cloud of volcanic gases and particles sweeping south from the Laki Craters event of that year may have killed more than 10,000 people." (BBC News Online)

"Humans, fire and climate change..." - "One of the many areas in which ecologists and climate scientists tend to make totally unsupported assumptions is in their assessment of the potential contribution of biomass fires to modern climate change. They have no sense of the ecological history of the last 18,000 years to 1 million years. I therefore welcome this excellent (and how often can we say that!) report in today's The Independent (May 26): 'The burning issue': "Israeli researchers have pushed back the date at which humans harnessed fire by half a million years." (EnviroSpin Watch)

"The Kyoto End-Game Begins" - "On Friday May 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced to the world that, in order to gain EU backing for Russia's entry to the WTO, he would "speed up movement towards ratification of the Kyoto protocol." Many have interpreted this as a sign that the internal debate in Russia over what to do about Kyoto is over (e.g. The Boston Globe - "Putin promises to ratify Kyoto treaty"). But others have been far more cautious. The others are probably right." (Iain Murray, TCS)

But the 'peas don't like Iain Murray: "Big screen vs big oil" - "Anybody who has watched an X-wing fighter explode in a luminous fireball in the vacuum of space knows that Hollywood is fast and loose with science. But if Hollywood has an iconic specialty, it's aiming the spotlight. And if the climate-change disaster film premiering worldwide next week, The Day After Tomorrow, makes more people think about and act upon the real dangers of global warming, we'll give it two thumbs up." (Greenpeace)

"Will Tomorrow Ever Come?" - "No greater aim has science fiction -- or any form of fiction -- than to make big money. Profit and drama rank highest, well ahead of any science learning. Indeed, the science in science fiction is often just a ghostly presence in alien scenery, technical babble and jaunty costumes.

Roland Emmerich, producer and co-writer of the $200 million weather-horror movie, The Day After Tomorrow, due for release May 28, says (Spiegel Online, April 26), "I went very far in order to provide viewers with lots of scientific information."

Nonsense. Beloved science fiction concerns the most self-absorbed creatures known in the Galaxy -- Homo sapiens. TDAT is all about us, and it certainly isn't about science education." (Sallie Baliunas, TCS)

"Editorial: More political bunk from Hollywood" - "Responsible scientists are not the only ones acknowledging the virtual impossibility of the outcomes depicted in the film. Greenpeace, former Vice President Al Gore, and even the screenwriter who wrote it concede that, at the very least, the climate changes depicted in the movie could not happen as fast as shown. Nonetheless, they all back the film as a political propaganda tool, saying people should see it and consider the harmful effects of global warming.

That’s like saying, “I know that, technically, alien life has not been proven to exist, but I think everyone should see ‘Independence Day’ and ‘Signs’ so we can think about how to prepare for an alien invasion.” It’s not much of an argument. But if you don’t have science on your side, you may as well enlist Hollywood." (The Union Leader)

More about that premiere (and Al Gore's 'Town Hall Meeting'): "Help Us, We're Melting. Melting!" - "There was a big premiere for the global warming disaster movie, "The Day After Tomorrow,'' the day before yesterday. The film shows LADY LIBERTY up to her neck in tidal waves, and New York City in the grip of an ice age so intense that the grid of Manhattan is turned into a giant ice cube tray. So, in keeping the mood alive, the film's promoters judiciously decided to bank the arrival line with piles of snow.

The red carpet in front of the American Museum of Natural History was white and banked by piles of the stuff; green oak leaves had been painted white. All very lovely, of course, but tragically, this global warming thing is more advanced than even the filmmakers thought: The snow was melting, the Astroturf carpet drenched.

"Who do we sue if we get electrocuted?'' asked the Reuters television reporter SAMIRA NANDA, who periodically stepped off the carpet to try to dry her feet.

Then, just as the chilly, wet scene couldn't get much more uncomfortable, three black limos pulled up in front of the museum, the cue for the snowblowers to be turned on. A collective groan from the press corps, as cameramen rushed to their vehicles for lens caps and soapy, white wet blobs hit reporters' notebooks." (New York Times)

"Blair outlines strategy to cut global warming" - "Tony Blair committed the Government yesterday to taking measures to tackle global warming one of the priorities for Britain's presidency of the G8 from January." (Independent)

"Global warming prognose: hundreds of new species of animals and plants to appear on the Earth" - "Scientists believe that global warming will result in creating hundreds of new species of animals and plants, Reuters reported. The idea of global warming as a catastrophe might be wrong." (Pravda)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"Is the Growth of Phytoplankton Limited by the Current Low Concentration of Atmospheric CO 2 ?" - "The question has historically been difficult to answer.  Recent experiments, however, suggest an affirmative response that has important real-world ramifications." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Urban CO 2 Dome (Phoenix, Arizona, USA)" - "What is the Urban CO 2 Dome?  What causes it?  What modifies it?  What effects does it have on urban climate and biology?  Your questions answered here, based on data from the city where the concept was first elucidated." (co2science.org)

"Acclimation (Chaparral and Desert Species)" - "Although it often occurs in chaparral and desert plants, acclimation of photosynthesis is typically accompanied by sizeable reductions in stomatal conductance that enhance water use efficiency and enable plants to perform better, and longer, under droughty conditions." (co2science.org)

Plant Growth Data:
"This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: European White Birch, Onion, Soybean and Spring Wheat." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"The Climatic Consequence of a CO 2 -Induced Freshening of the North Atlantic Ocean" - "In the event of such an occurrence, would we likely see (a) another major ice age, (b) another Little Ice Age, (c) no change in climate or (d) an actual warming of high northern latitudes?" (co2science.org)

"Spurious Warming Signal Detected in USHCN Temperatures" - "They are some of the most respected temperature data in the world, but they still have their problems." (co2science.org)

"Reconstructed Warm-Season Temperatures of Nome, Alaska" - "As ever more long-term temperature histories become available, it is becoming ever more clear that no significant part of the 20th century was warmer than any comparable period of the preceding one to two millennia, in striking contrast to the unremitting claims of climate alarmists." (co2science.org)

"Plant Heat Tolerance: Adapting to Warmer Temperatures" - "Is it possible for plants to adjust their physiology to cope with global warming and survive the higher temperatures predicted for the future?" (co2science.org)

"Isoprene Emissions from Hybrid Poplars Exposed to Elevated Concentrations of Atmospheric CO 2 " - "What do they portend about future tropospheric ozone pollution and methane-induced global warming?" (co2science.org)

"Brussels safety rules 'will raise car prices by £3,000'" - "A new car could cost at least £3,000 more over the next four years because of European Union safety and environmental directives, manufacturers said yesterday.

They accused Brussels of imposing "contradictory" obligations on designers, which were likely to push up prices on best-selling models by 25 to 35 per cent." (Daily Telegraph)

"A Nanotechnology Turnaround?" - "I've written some pessimistic columns on nanotechnology lately. In essence, my concern was that the nanotechnology industry was pursuing an ostrich-like strategy, trying to deny the potential risks posed by nanotechnology in the hope that nobody would notice. The industry was even going so far as to alienate a lot of its natural supporters, as it tried to argue that the kinds of advanced nanotechnology that might spur popular fears were impossible, and that those who felt otherwise were (despite being pioneers in the field) some sort of kooks." (Glenn Harlan Reynolds, TCS)

"Last Word on Organic Standards, Again" - "The Agriculture Department's interpretation of the laws governing the National Organic Program has fed a fierce debate on what should be allowed in organic products." (Marian Burros, New York Times)

"Feed starving masses, not irrational fears" - "Some 842 million people -- 13% of the world's population -- don't have enough food to eat each day. Millions of them face starvation in Africa because of droughts and armed conflicts in countries that include Sudan, Angola and Uganda.

In one sense, that's an old story -- so old, it makes even sympathetic eyes glaze over. But it could have a new happy ending that, remarkably, has yet to be written. While the script promises a reliable, cheap food supply for all who are hungry, some fear that outcome the way villagers were terrified by Mary Shelley's Frankenstein monster." | Techniques date back centuries (USA Today) | Biotech is not the answer (Brent Blackwelder, Friends of the Earth)

"Extreme Precautionary Regulation Prevents Use of Green Biotechnology in Public Projects" - "What are the consequences of the extreme precautionary regulation of green biotechnology for public research towards food security in developing countries? There are numerous scientists and institutions in developing countries who have the capacity, motivation, and often even funding to work towards scientific progress in the areas of pest-, disease-, drought-, heat-, cold-, saline-, heavy metal resistance with the potential to rescue harvests and to expand agricultural productivity to hostile environments; to improve photosynthetic efficiency and to enhance the exploitation of natural resources to increase productivity; to enhance nutritional content to reduce malnutrition with regards to micro-nutrients such as vitamin A etc.

Very few of those, however, have the financial and mental capacity to transform a scientific success into an applicable "product", which is the first prerequisite for benefit of the poor from a scientific advance. Probably no scientist nor institution in the public domain, however, have the resources, experience, and determination to carry a single GMO product across the hurdles of to days extreme precautionary regulatory procedures. Regulatory authorities in developing countries are less experienced, more insecure, and therefore, more stringent than their colleagues in developed countries.

Even with support from the experienced private sector deregulation of a novel GMO product has become a gigantic task. It is, therefore, very obvious that, if we continue with the present regulatory standards, the potential of green biotechnology will not reach the poor." (Ingo Potrykus, BioVision Alexandria 3-6 April 2004)

"Consumer resistance puts GM corn on hold" - "In short: Despite the Commission's recent authorisation of the GM corn Bt-11, the producer has announced that it will not commercialise it for the time being due to strong consumer resistance." (EurActiv)

"Monsanto and caveat formator" - "No matter where you lived in Canada, it seemed you could hear the whoops and whistles from the opponents of genetically modified everything when the Monsanto Corporation decided to withdraw its GM wheat from the market two weeks ago.

On its behalf, the company offered the most detumescent of explanations for why they were walking away from a research effort costing hundreds of millions of dollars.

They weren't ultimately abandoning their plans, they were just ”deferring” the herbicide-resistant wheat's introduction.

And they were doing this because, Monsanto's company chairman said, ”our buyers were saying they did not want this.” It was an interesting turn of events and worthy of a new Latin catchphrase – Caveat formator (Let the maker beware) – but what the Monsanto decision doesn't tell you was why wheat, of all human foodstuffs, cries out to be genetically engineered, and why GM engineering of it is all be inevitable." (Stephen Strauss, Globe and Mail)

"Masked activists petition WTO to stay out of GM rows" - "GENEVA - A group of activists wearing chemical protection gear and face masks handed a petition of more than 106,000 names to the World Trade Organisation, urging it to stay out of rows over genetically modified (GM) food.

About 35 representatives from Friends of the Earth International gathered in front of WTO headquarters in Geneva to accuse the global trade body of enabling giants such as the United States to force their GM goods into other markets in defiance of public opinion, thanks to its dispute settlement process." (AFP)

"Partial surrender on 'Frankenfood'" - "The European Union recently surrendered to sound science in the debate over genetically modified foods (GMOs). Specifically, EU commissioners lifted the six-year moratorium on GMOs by allowing the Swiss-based Syngenta to sell its sweet corn. David Byrne, the EU commissioner for health and consumer protection, said the corn "has been scientifically assessed as being as safe as any conventional maize. Food safety is therefore not an issue, it is a question of consumer choice." (The Washington Times)

May 25, 2004

"Nigeria: The War We Are Losing" - "Malaria parasites have become increasingly resistant to existing drugs and casuality figures from its attacks are daily on the rise." (Newswatch)

"The Real Health Care Robbers" - "The medical diagnostic representative told me, "No, the story isn't true."

The "story" was one I'd overheard at an American Enterprise Institute forum in the capital on access to AIDS drugs in developing countries the week before. It had seemed incredible. An African country had demanded exorbitant duties -- equal to 30 times the actual price -- for low-cost kits that diagnose a particularly virulent disease in the country and were being donated for free.

After 30 years in journalism, if something seems too incredible, you always go to check the original source. And from the initial response, it seemed another anecdotal horror story seemed to hit the dust.

But not quite." (Duane D. Freese, TCS)

"Right on Science?" - "Papers are getting it right on science," crowed the Globe and Mail, citing the results of a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) (Picard, 2004). But even in covering a study about media accuracy, the Globe and Mail got the story wrong -- What the CMAJ study actually showed was that more than one-third of newspaper stories about scientific studies held exaggerated claims, while nearly one-fifth held scientific and technical inaccuracies (Bubela and Caulfield, 2004)." (Kenneth Green, TCS)

"CSPI Not Sweet on Sweeteners" - "The Center for Science in the Public Interest's flagship publication, Nutrition Action Health Letter is a prime fundraising tool for the Food Police. On its face, it looks like a well-written and visually appealing newsletter with health tips and recipes. But to the trained eye, it's not so pretty, at least from a scientific perspective." (Jeff Stier, HealthFactsAndFears)

"Ban artificial food colourings" - "Artificial food colourings should be banned in the interest of public health, say UK experts. A team of researchers from Southampton University said removing these substances from foods could cut hyperactivity rates in young children. They are extending their research to see whether additive-free diets have a positive effect in older children too. The research on 300 three-year-olds appears in the journal Archives of Diseases in Childhood." (BBC News Online)

"Pollution 'increases twin births'" - "Women who live in areas with high levels of pollution are more likely to have twins, research suggests. German scientists found the rate of twin births in areas with high environmental pollution were double that of other areas. The rate was highest among women living near a toxic waste incinerator, the authors say in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine journal." (BBC News Online)

At the same times as, what were they: reduced fertility; low sperm counts; male feminisation...?

"The Moore's Last Laugh" - "Michael Moore did his usual schtick of playing the humble, surprised little guy who out of nowhere got the Cannes film festival's most coveted prize.

"What have you done? I'm completely overwhelmed by this. Merci," he told the crowd when he received the Palme d'Or. We are not so sure that even the adulating audience that gave him another standing ovation really bought this act. Ever since film jury president Quentin Tarantino said that "politics be damned" and that Fahrenheit 9/11 will be judged on its merits, we knew Mr. Moore's "docu-fiction" was a shoo-in.

Mr. Moore's distortions have all been exposed in print but he has yet to be exposed on film. Luckily, such a project is just under way. Young American filmmaker Michael Wilson is working on a film to be released on August 27.

"Mr. Moore paints this vision of America that we are all doomed to servitude," Mr. Wilson told us on the phone from Minneapolis. "I want to show that in America, you can go as far as you can dream."

Mr. Wilson has been trying for over a year now to get an interview with Mr. Moore but the mighty filmmaker, usually so eager to show his large frame on celluloid, hasn't called back yet. Mr. Moore doesn't seem to like it when he doesn't control the environment and can't manipulate his audience.

Mr. Wilson is still in need of some funding to finish his film, but he's set up a Web site where readers can view a trailer and learn more about his attempts to land an interview with Mr. Moore. It can be found at http://www.michaelmoorehatesamerica.com/" (The Wall Street Journal) [Subscription required]

"U.S. agency calls for closer look at drugs in animals" - "WASHINGTON — Federal agencies looking at the issue of antibiotics in livestock need to focus their efforts, work faster, and back up any recommendations with better research, congressional investigators said Monday.

Antibiotics make livestock such as cattle and chickens grow better and are commonly fed to them at low levels. This effect is above and beyond anything that can be accounted for by preventing disease.

But studies have shown the practice can aid the development of drug-resistant "superbugs" — especially when antibiotics similar to those used to treat humans are given to animals.

The issue is highly controversial and many farmers are resisting efforts to reduce their use of antibiotics." (Reuters)

"Antibiotic resistance risk from triclosan questioned" - "New research suggests that the risk of bacteria developing antibiotic resistance after exposure to the biocide triclosan may not be as great as previously believed. Researchers from the University of Manchester present their findings today at the 104th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology." (American Society for Microbiology)

"Rare steak 'is safe to eat'" - "Eating rare steak will not cause food poisoning if kitchen utensils used to cook it are kept clean, it is claimed. University of Nottingham scientists spiked steak samples with E.coli bacteria, then cooked them rare. The bacteria only survived where the steaks were touched by utensils that were not cleaned after being used to handle raw meat, researchers found. The study dispels the myth that eating rare steak is in itself unsafe, the Meat and Livestock Commission said." (BBC News Online)

"Measuring Santa Monica's Feet" - "Back at the turn of the month Santa Monica City Council proudly announced that they had reduced the ecological footprint of their pleasant urb by 167 square miles. As the city occupies only 8.3 square miles, perhaps a little investigation is in order?

The concept of such footprints comes from a paper in PNAS in 2002, edited by one Edward O. Wilson of Harvard (a name and place to send shivers down the spines of the economically literate). In essence, an attempt is made to add up all the land needed to support various lifestyles and then compare that to the amount of land on the earth. As always with the ecologically correct the answer is that we ran out of land a decade ago and will all be dead by next Tuesday. Amazingly enough they do reach one vaguely correct conclusion via a series of woeful misunderstandings." (Tim Worstall, TCS)

"Nature broadcasters in island row" - "Two UK giants of nature broadcasting have clashed over how tourists should best enjoy the Galapagos Islands. Professor Bellamy, president of the Galapagos Conservation Trust, wants a monorail built to take visitors around and bring in some much-needed money. But Sir David Attenborough said that would "destroy the islands" and thinks the existing boat service works well." (BBC News Online)

"Maverick environmentalist's conference to list solutions to global ills" - "COPENHAGEN, Denmark — A maverick environmentalist brought together eight prominent economic experts recently for a conference aimed at finding cost-effective solutions to the world's most urgent woes, including climate change, conflict, disease, and malnutrition." (Associated Press)

"Climates of opinion, or questions, questions, questions..." - "In 2000, Professor S. Fred Singer listed a large number of queries about climate change (see: 'Global warming: unfinished business').

Interestingly, few of these serious questions have been satisfactorily answered during the intervening period. Indeed, many have even been bolstered by recent scientific and economic research. However, the idea that there is a scientific consensus over climate change remains a dangerous myth. Good science above all admits what it does not know. In the light of the current hysteria over 'global warming' in the UK, therefore, I am repeating some of the more interesting questions that Fred raised here (with a few small additions of my own). Moreover, this is timely, because Fred is due to be interviewed about the dire film, The Day after Tomorrow, on the ever-excellent The Jeremy Vine Show (BBC Radio 2) this coming Friday. Do not miss it (around 12.30 pm, I believe)." (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Russia says ‘da’ to Kyoto" - "Moscow has announced Russia is heading for approval of an international climate change treaty. The news came after the EU pledged to back Russia’s World Trade Organisation membership bid. Russian president Vladimir Putin announced on Friday a tit-for-tat Moscow rethink on the Kyoto climate change accord. “The EU has met us half way in talks over the WTO and that cannot but affect positively our position on the Kyoto protocol,” he said." (EUpolitix)

"Japan welcomes Putin’s statement on Kyoto protocol" - "TOKYO, May 24 – The government of Japan has welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statement made on Friday, May 21, in which he expressed support of the Kyoto protocol on limitation of emission of green house gases into the atmosphere,” a spokesman for the Japanese Environment Ministry declared on Monday." (Itar-Tass)

"An Ambitious Russia Won't Trade Growth for Green" - "Russia, what a tease. First it dithers on ratifying the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. Next, its bad-boy diplomats humiliate the blue suits from the European Union by continuing to dither — even after they beg. As of this weekend, Russia was closer to ratifying — but still dithering." (Amity Shlaes, Los Angeles Times)

"Disappearing Act" - "The truth about species evolution and extinction is that humans neither are the question nor the solution." (GES)

The weekly Whipple: "Climate: Why can't we just all get along?" - "BOULDER, Colo., May 24 -- You can't follow the issue of global warming for very long without wondering what are the facts the climate debate, and where those facts leave off and interpretations begin." (Dan Whipple, United Press International)

"Britain Could Be Plunged into Ice Age in Single Lifetime" - "Global warming could flip Britain’s climate into a new ice age in the space of a single lifetime, a scientist claimed today. Professor Marshall McCabe has found evidence that implies the nightmare scenario depicted in the new Hollywood blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow could be scarily close to the truth." (PA News)

"Computers help study global warming" - "Scientists - most of them, anyway - agree that nobody understands global climate well enough to fiddle with it.

They also agree it's too late to intervene. Human activities have already altered the chemical makeup of the atmosphere by pumping various substances into the air since the Industrial Revolution.

Exactly how that's changing the global climate and whether people can do anything to fix it remains a mystery, experts say." (Sue Vorenberg, The Albuquerque Tribune)

"U.S. and Brazil Will Cooperate on Climate Change" - "WASHINGTON, DC, May 24, 2004 - The United States and Brazil have announced their intention to improve scientific and technological cooperation in order to address global climate change.

A joint statement by the two countries released Friday by the State Department says the U.S.-Brazil Workshop on Cooperation in Climate Science and Technology, held in São José dos Campos, Brazil May 18-20, was "the initial step in identifying joint projects of mutual interest."

The joint statement said the two delegations discussed ways to further improve cooperation in "climate science and modeling; energy and technology; land use, land use change, forestry, and agriculture; emissions inventories and modeling; and impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change." (Environment News Service)

"Japan: Nation must implement basics of Kyoto Protocol" - "Japan has failed to curb domestic emissions of greenhouse gases that cause global warming. We need to return to the basics of the Kyoto Protocol and seriously consider how to implement the required measures.

According to the government's Global Warming Prevention Headquarters, greenhouse gas emissions in Japan during fiscal 2002 increased 2.2 percent from the previous year.

The Kyoto Protocol obliges Japan to cut emissions by 6 percent from the level in 1990. Instead, however, they have increased 7.6 percent from fiscal 1990." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

"Japan mulls market to let companies trade rights to pollute" - "TOKYO — Japan is considering setting up a market that would let companies trade the right to pollute, as Tokyo looks for ways to lower overall emissions and meet its targets for the Kyoto treaty on climate change." (Associated Press)

"Fast Arctic thaw portends global warming" - "OSLO - Global warming is hitting the Arctic more than twice as fast as the rest of the planet in what may be a portent of wider, catastrophic changes, the chairman of an eight-nation study has said." (Reuters)

Uh-oh... "'Day After' and $200 Million Short" - "The press was banned from the after-party for Roland Emmerich's "The Day After Tomorrow" last night — a bad sign, and a sure sign that the movie was no good. Even this reporter, who gets his paycheck from the same company which made the film, 20th Century Fox, was unceremoniously booted from the Museum of Natural History as everyone else who'd endured the two-hour-plus ordeal filed by for the free food and cocktails. A publicist for Fox — who bragged about my expulsion later to paparazzi — actually said to me, "It sounds like you're going to blackmail us. If you don't get into the party, you'll say the movie was bad."

Ah, well: No amount of edible swag could save "The Day After Tomorrow," a $200 million disaster film that is quite the disaster, indeed. (Although, let's face it, a shrimp and a diet Coke couldn't have hurt at that point.) Hilariously awful in most places, with an incoherent script and questionable acting, "Day After" will come on Friday and the question will be: Can innumerable, mind-numbing special effects, nearly all of them created on a computer and placed in what can only be called a random order, overcome sheer inanity?" (Roger Friedman, FoxNews.com)

"Outside View: Storm warning" - "WASHINGTON, May 24 -- Those of us old enough to remember the 1970s sometimes think of it as the era of the bad disaster movie. Well, get ready for some cinematic déjà vu." (Ed Feulner, UPI)

"'Day After Tomorrow': A lot of hot air" - " As a scientist, I bristle when lies dressed up as "science" are used to influence political discourse. The latest example is the global-warming disaster flick, The Day After Tomorrow." (Patrick J. Michaels, USA Today)

"Wishing MoveOn Would Move-On" - " MoveOn.org’s wants its volunteers to meet-up over the Memorial Day weekend at theaters showing The Day After Tomorrow and to hand out Bush-bashing fliers to folks standing on (or in) line. Like the movie itself, the flier is a work of science fiction.

What follows is an accounting of the scientific fictions promoted by MoveOn.org and or science-based response to each. Each “Moveon.org Problem” or “MoveOn.org Solution” directly quotes their flier." (GES)

"Refiners Profit as Green Rules Pump Up US Gasoline" - "NEW YORK - Oil companies supplying the sizzling U.S. energy market are reaping windfall returns while drivers foot the bill, and they owe those profits to the new green fuel rules they had originally protested." (Reuters)

"Business as usual at Exxon meeting" - "DALLAS -- ExxonMobil shareholder activists will once again try to get a slew of proposals passed at the company's annual meeting Wednesday in what looks to be a business-as-usual event for the oil and gas giant.

All the proposals brought by shareholders last year failed." (Lisa Sanders, CBS.MarketWatch.com)

"Environmental Battle Rages Over Power Plants" - "NEW YORK - America may be waging a war on terrorism overseas, but there's one war at home for which President Bush has shown less enthusiasm, some state officials and environmental groups say.

To them, Bush is on the wrong side in the never-ending battle over air pollution, which saw a new skirmish last week pitting four eastern states against one of America's premier power generating companies." (Reuters)

"James Lovelock: Nuclear power is the only green solution" - "We have no time to experiment with visionary energy sources; civilisation is in imminent danger" (Independent)

"Heated row over nuclear power call" - "A SENIOR academic last night rejected calls by a veteran environmentalist for a massive expansion in nuclear power to tackle global warming.

Professor Tariq Muneer, an expert on renewable energy based at Napier University in Edinburgh, spoke out after Prof James Lovelock argued that global warming was happening at a much faster rate than originally feared." (The Scotsman)

"Scientist's plea to use nuclear energy starts new climate change debate by green groups" - "A former Labour energy minister and the nuclear industry both welcomed the call by the scientist James Lovelock yesterday for a massive expansion of the nuclear industry to combat global warming.

They also forecast that Professor Lovelock's dramatic call, in yesterday's Independent, would force more environmentalists to consider whether nuclear power really posed a greater threat to humanity than climate change - and that they too would eventually agree with the celebrated scientist." (Independent)

"Earth to Bob Carr: nuclear not a no-no" - "PREMIER Bob Carr is concerned about global warming and wants Australia to sign the Kyoto Agreement.

In these pages yesterday, Mr Carr said the "perfect balance" the world had once enjoyed had been disturbed by changes wrought during the Industrial Revolution when there was large-scale clearing for farms and cities and extra carbon dioxide was pumped into the atmosphere, overloading the system.

He put forward the doomsayers' view of the ecosystem but didn't mention that many of those now preaching global warming were predicting the exact opposite – global cooling leading to a global winter – just 30 years ago." (Piers Akerman, Daily Telegraph)

Not the kind of statistics you look up: "Conserving hydrocarbons would save $438 billion" - "Just as low-carbohydrate diets are trimming the American waistline, more judicious use of hydrocarbon-based fossil fuels would reduce the United States' energy consumption by 33 percent and save consumers $438 billion a year by 2014, according to an analysis by Cornell University ecologists." (Cornell University News Service)

"EU Is out of Step over Regulation of Modified Products" - "Sir, The premise of Steven Druker's rant that the US criticises Europe's application of the precautionary principle yet uses it itself ("America's hypocrisy over modified produce," May 18) is absurd. The example he invokes to prove his case, the requirement in US law for the review of food additives before they are sold, proves exactly the opposite." (Gregory Conko and Henry I. Miller, Financial Times)

"France risks EU biotech spat" - "Paris could be on a collision course with Brussels over its attitude to genetically modified food, according to comments from the French government. French farm minister Hervé Gaymard on Monday said that France would always take the word of national food safety authorities over the European Commission. Gaymard told French daily Le Figaro that when it came to GM authorisations France would act “in every case according to the opinion of our food safety body, AFSSA – whatever the opinion of the commission may be”. “I have never been the strongest advocate of GMOs and France is firmly committed to remaining very vigilant.” But a commission spokesman told Eupolitix.com that in the case of a crunch decision the last word always rests with the EU's own advisory panel EFSA. And she pointed out that a similar course of action by the Elysée two years ago landed France in serious trouble." (EUpolitix)

"Group seeks order to force govt to reveal GMO information" - "Pretoria: Environmental lobby group Biowatch sought a Pretoria High Court order yesterday compelling the government to divulge details of all genetically modified organisms (GMOs) brought into or manufactured in the country to date.

The body is seeking an order directing the state to make available a list of facts concerning each permit, approval and authorisation granted for all GMO imports, exports, field trials and general releases to date.

This included, in each case, a description of the GMO, its purpose, the name and address of the permit applicant, the area where the GMO would be used, plans for its monitoring, emergency measures in case of an accident, and the relevant environmental impact studies.

It also sought particulars of applications still pending." (The Mercury)

May 24, 2004

Slightly better than none: "Correction" - "An article on April 11 about DDT and its effectiveness in controlling malaria in developing countries misstated the position of an international health organization on it. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria indeed plans to finance some DDT spraying, in Somalia." (New York Times)

"Brainwashing on campus?" - "Ben Shapiro attended the University of California at Los Angeles and came out dismayed by much of what he heard and saw. Professors there, he laments, routinely spouted liberal propaganda and rarely had their biases challenged. Conservative thinkers, on the contrary, Mr. Shapiro says, were generally shrugged off as not too bright.

As a columnist for UCLA's student paper The Daily Bruin, he was able to voice his outrage until, he claims, he was fired for his views.

Now - having already graduated from UCLA at 20 - Shapiro has written "Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America's Youth" (WND Books), alerting the world to what Shapiro sees as the sorry state of US higher education." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"WHO Agrees to Launch Anti-Obesity Campaign" - "GENEVA - The United Nations' health agency agreed Saturday to launch a global campaign against obesity, blamed for an increase in deadly chronic diseases worldwide.

The Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health was backed by the policy committee of the World Health Organization's annual assembly, and its formal adoption by the full body later in the day was a formality, diplomatic sources said.

The plan, under negotiation for two years, recommends people limit intakes of fats, sugar and salt -- blamed for a surge in cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers." (Reuters)

"Why Britain's children have a bad case of outdoor play phobia" - "Britain's streets are becoming no-go areas for increasing numbers of young children with many too scared to play outside, according to research.

Ten- and 11-year-olds say that their worries about traffic, trains, terrorism and even being kidnapped are keeping them trapped indoors." (The Independent on Sunday)

"'Stranger danger' drive harms kids" - "Children choose to stay indoors watching TV and playing computer games because they are terrified of the world outside, fresh research reveals.

In a high-profile launch this week, Education Secretary Charles Clarke will announce the findings which disclose that young children carry a daily expectation of being kidnapped by a stranger, sexually abused by a paedophile or becoming a victim of terrorism.

'We are not just failing to give children the opportunities to explore the real world,' said Di McNeish, director of policy and research at Barnardo's, which carried out the study with the Green Alliance, 'but are actively dissuading them by making them over-anxious about their external environment." (The Observer)

"Malformed Proteins Found in Sheep Muscle" - "Prions, the misfolded proteins that are widely believed to cause brain-wasting diseases, have been found in sheep muscle, scientists announced yesterday - the first time they have been discovered in animal flesh that many humans normally eat.

But the scientists emphasized that the finding did not mean that lamb or mutton posed a danger to humans.

"The risk of transmission from sheep to humans is very, very low," said Olivier Andréoletti, a prion specialist at the National Veterinary School in Toulouse, France, and lead author of the study, which was published yesterday in Nature Medicine." (New York Times)

"The Nine Months of Living Anxiously" - "Dozens of foods and activities and procedures, whether their danger is overblown or not, are now believed by some pregnant women to be threatening to fetal health." (New York Times)

"Environmentalists losing battle over foresting" - "The government has won 17 straight court cases involving cutting timber." (The Associated Press)

"Environmental Web Site Removes an Ad It Deems at Philosophical Odds" - "The banner advertisement from the Pacific Research Institute did not remain on the Web site of E/The Environmental Magazine for long. Posted a little before 9 a.m. on April 30, the notice was gone by 1:15 p.m.

The reason for the abrupt disappearance is that the institute receives money from the Sarah Scaife Foundation and the John M. Olin Foundation, groups whose conservative orientation is so pronounced that their names are anathema to many environmental groups. The magazine, published by the Earth Action Network, a nonprofit group, told the institute's advertising agency in an e-mail message that "the interests of those funding P.R.I. and their environmental policies are at odd with our criteria for accepting advertising.'' (The New York Times, May 10, 2004)

"One Man's Cuddly Critter Is Another Man's Varmint" - "DO you love the idea of wild wolves howling in the woods? If you answer yes, the odds are you don't live in the woods, argues Lenore Hardy Barrett, a Republican state representative from Challis, Idaho, who thinks wolves were banished from the West for good reason. Ms. Barrett, and many ranchers in the region, are fighting the federal government's reintroduction of breeding pairs into Idaho, Montana and Wyoming." (New York Times)

"Animal rights extremists step up attacks" - "Animal rights extremists are launching an increasing number of violent attacks and making greater use of intimidation methods, figures show. The number of instances of damage to public and private property by the fanatics more than doubled in the first three months of the year compared to the similar period in 2003." (Independent)

"Two big wry smiles on The Day after Tomorrow..." (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Way paved for Russia to join world trade pact" - "The Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, presided over the signing yesterday of a long-awaited deal between the European Union and Russia that could speed Moscow's accession to the World Trade Organisation and persuade the Kremlin to back the Kyoto Protocol on combating climate change." (The Irish Times)

"Putin throws the planet a Kyoto lifeline" - "MOSCOW - Russia's President Vladimir Putin has thrown a lifeline to the U.N.'s Kyoto protocol on restraining global warming after a U.S. pullout but experts say that hurdles still remain.

"This is a very welcome and positive signal," Klaus Toepfer, head of the U.N. Environment Programme, said after Putin said he favoured moving towards ratification of the 1997 Kyoto pact after years of delays and indecision.

"It is vital that the Kyoto protocol enters into force as a first step towards stabilising the global climate," he said in a statement via his spokesman. "We know that ratification by Russia is the last crucial step needed to make Kyoto operational."

Russia has a casting vote on the fate of the entire Kyoto protocol after a U.S. pullout in 2001.

But Putin, speaking after winning a deal from the European Union on terms for Russian entry to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), did not set any timetable for ratification by the Russian Duma, which has the formal final say." (Reuters)

"Russia Signals Change of Course on Kyoto; NCPA Experts Say Decision Based on Economic Horse-Trading, Not Science" - "DALLAS, May 21 -- In an apparent reversal, Russian President Vladimir Putin signaled today that Russia would speed up ratification of the Kyoto accord on global warming following an announcement by the European Union on Friday of its backing for Russia to join the World Trade Organization. Experts from the National Center for Policy Analysis' (NCPA) E-Team said that while this news is disappointing, it is certainly not surprising." (U.S. Newswire)

"US isolated as Russia moves to back Kyoto" - "President George Bush's bid to stop international action to combat global warming faces failure this weekend, as he is left more isolated than ever before both at home and abroad." (Independent on Sunday)

"Kyoto heat as Russia 'ratifies'" - "The Howard Government has come under renewed pressure to sign the Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gas emissions after Russia's surprise announcement at the weekend that it intends to ratify the deal.

When Russia signs the protocol it will become international law and leave Australia and the United States the only two developed countries opposing the international agreement to combat global warming." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

"Climate Change Rises on Global Agenda" - "The "greenhouse effect," climate change, has languished on the world's agenda since the 1970s, a seemingly distant threat. But year by year, inch by inch, it is rising to the top -- as ocean islets flood, glaciers retreat, Arctic permafrost melts, and leading voices raise new alarms.

"We may already be seeing -- in the increased incidence of drought, floods and extreme weather events that many regions are experiencing -- some of the devastation that lies ahead," U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in March, when he urged all governments to ratify the Kyoto Protocol to reduce the world's "greenhouse gas" emissions.

That long-stalled 1997 accord is opposed in Washington, where U.S. government and industry object that emission controls would handicap the U.S. economy. Now only ratification by Russia can revive it, making this a critical year on the political front in a long, difficult debate over what to do about climate change." (AP)

"Great Lakes could drop by 1 metre within 50 years" - "Findings linked to climate change. Communities downstream, like Montreal, would be greatly affected by low water levels." (CanWest News Service)

"Guru who tuned into Gaia was one of the first to warn of climate threat" - "Twenty-five years ago, he conceived the most radical way of looking at life on Earth since Darwin, and became a hero to the emerging environmental movement. Now, because he believes nuclear power is the only answer to the growing threat of climate change, some Greens may see him as the enemy. But that will not worry 84-year-old James Lovelock, CBE, FRS, who all his life has been a maverick, Fellow of the Royal Society or not." (Independent)

"The ice is melting much faster than we thought" - "Two recent climatic events are warning signs that climate change may be proceeding much more quickly than previously thought, James Lovelock claimed." (Independent)

"Climate change is a great opportunity" - "Independence Day was an archetypal boys' movie. It boasted some fabulous special effects, as the aliens zapped the White House before Will Smith turned the tables.

Of course. Even after watching Independence Day, there were mercifully few who were convinced that the aliens are out there, lurking on the far side of the moon for their moment to strike. The Day After Tomorrow, though, will find many more believing it really could happen. Their number will be swelled by the activities of the we're-all-doomed lobbyists, who plan to hand out leaflets to departing cinema-goers.

In practice, the film's premise is so absurd that it is more likely to raise a laugh than to raise environmental concerns, so perhaps we shouldn't worry. Nevertheless, some people are going to be convinced, especially since the likes of Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace are no slouches when it comes to their own special effects." (Neil Collins, Daily Telegraph)

"Nuclear power is the only green solution" - "We have no time to experiment with visionary energy sources; civilisation is in imminent danger." (James Lovelock, Independent)

"Only nuclear power can now halt global warming" - "Leading environmentalist urges radical rethink on climate change" (Independent)

"Powergen boss hits out over emissions targets" - "Paul Golby, chief executive of energy group Powergen, has called on the Government to scale back the target it has set for industry to reduce carbon emissions.

When the European Union emissions trading scheme kicks in on 1 January next year, under the Government's national allocation plan, UK industry must cut emissions by 15.2 per cent.

This is the highest target set so far by a member state. By contrast, Austria and Italy will allow their industries to increase emissions. The UK's target is also higher than its commitment under the Kyoto Protocol, where it agreed to cut 1990 levels by 12.5 per cent." (The Independent on Sunday)

"S&P issues report on UK wind power sector" - "NEW YORK - The positive momentum achieved in the U.K. wind power sector in 2003 has been overshadowed in the first quarter of 2004 by uncertainty regarding planning requirements, infrastructure, and grid access costs, according to a report released today by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services." (Reuters)

"NIMBY pressures ... and oil slicks" - "As you contemplate those numbers spinning by on the gas pump, here is another number to remember: 1976.

That was the last time an oil refinery was built in the United States, thanks largely to the Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY) syndrome cultivated by an environmental movement that has successfully anathematized all things chemical and carbon." (Tom Bray, The Washington Times)

"World pays heavy price for global airline boom" - "SYDNEY: In Sydney airport's crowded international terminal, passengers make last-minute passport checks or fret over toddlers in pushchairs as they wait in the snaking queue to check in for the 23-hour flight to London.

But few of the 400 passengers crammed on to each jumbo jet taking off over Botany Bay ever consider the environmental impact of their 17,000-km (10,500-mile) intercontinental trip.

Passengers will consume at least 1,600 meals in plastic containers, but each plane travelling to London will guzzle more than 200 tonnes of jet fuel and pump out more than 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide, as well as other greenhouse gases." (Reuters)

"Stardom is a gas for Brad and Leo" - "Hollywood stars are easing their consciences by planting forests to make up for the pollution they cause. Robin McKie reports" (The Observer)

"The larder is almost bare" - "After four consecutive meagre harvests, the result of heat waves, droughts and pestilence, the world's stockpile of grain is perilously low. Is it a harbinger of 'gastronomical Armageddon?' Martin Mittelstaedt reports" (Globe and Mail)

"A Call for a Gene Revolution" - "Few scientific developments have provoked more shouting than genetically modified foods. Plenty of people, especially in Europe, call them Frankenfoods and argue that we do not know if they cause cancer or fatal allergy. Genetically modified crops, which carry transplanted genes from other species to make them easier to grow or more nutritious, should indeed be the subject of intense debate — just not this debate.

Are these foods safe to eat? The evidence is overwhelming that they are, a conclusion endorsed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization last week in its 2004 annual report. The report's main contribution is that it focuses on the real problem with genetically modified crops: they are not aimed at helping the world's hungry." (New York Times)

"Monsanto wins Canada seed battle" - "Monsanto has won a legal battle against a Canadian farmer it accused of growing a form of genetically-modified rapeseed it had patented without paying for it." (BBC News Online)

"Francis Wevers: Time to stand up to anti-GM thugs" - "Call me naive if you like, but I'm really at a loss to work out why Greenpeace has decided to focus its New Zealand anti-GM campaign on genetically modified soybean meal fed to chickens.

The Rainbow Warrior sailed into Auckland recently, bedecked in banners proclaiming the guilt of Inghams, the chicken producer that has sourced a shipment of non-GM soy but can't make promises about the future.

Also caught in the Northern Hemisphere green raider's sights was burger chain McDonald's.

So why does Greenpeace take on the one crop in the world where the transgene has been so successful in raising yields that within the next 18 months to two years it will be all but impossible to find secure supplies of non-GM varieties? It's inexplicable." (New Zealand Herald)

May 21, 2004

"Lawsuits, Alcohol Advertising and Money" - "Is alcohol advertising targeted at underage drinkers? Does advertising cause alcohol abuse? Should alcohol companies be liable for underage drinkers who harm themselves or others while under the influence?" (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Brood X and Other Election-Year Pests" - "WASHINGTON, D.C. – Around these parts it has been impossible to escape the news that this is one of the years for the 17-year cicada, called magiccicada septendecim by scientists, but known better simply as “Brood X.” This particular species of cicada is larger than most, with bulging red eyes, a smooth sloping forehead, and a deafening roar." (Steven F. Hayward, Pacific Research Institute)

"Still Bogus after all these Years" - "A woman earns 76 cents for every dollar earned by a man, and Latina women earn 52.5 cents for every dollar earned by a white man. Women from all racial and ethnic backgrounds earned 67.5 cents for every dollar earned by white men. Asian American women, though the best paid, earn 25 percent less than men. This all means that women are still victims of gender and race discrimination and they will not achieve pay parity for more than 50 years. And so on." (Sally Pipes, Pacific Research Institute)

"Report: No Evidence That Cleaning Leads To Allergy Rise" - "WASHINGTON, D.C., May 20, 2004 – A landmark report by the London-based International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene (IFH) on the so-called hygiene hypothesis finds “no justification” for claims that cleaning and hygiene contribute to an increase in allergies.

The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) says the 224-page report “reiterates what we’ve known all along: good hygiene equals good health.” Established in 1926, SDA is dedicated to advancing public understanding of the safety and benefits of cleaning products.

“In very simple terms, good hygiene saves lives,” said Ernie Rosenberg, SDA President and CEO. “Cleanliness has a highly beneficial effect on our health by combating the spread of many kinds of contaminants, infectious agents and allergens.” (Press Release)

"Poverty, Not Patents" - "It’s time for a reassessment of public policy on medicine access." (Roger Bate, NRO)

"Scientists fear hidden epidemic of vCJD" - "The prospect of a hidden epidemic of vCJD - the human form of "mad cow" disease - has been raised once again with tests suggesting that several thousand people might be incubating the brain disease." (Independent)

This leap of pessimistic faith is extrapolated from, wait for it, 3 possible positive tests from 12,674 tissue samples (mostly appendix, with a few tonsils thrown in). Of these, 2 appear different from samples taken from vCJD cases, leaving us with just one maybe. From this 1 we are presented with scenarios of 1,300-16,000 incubating cases.

It has been dryly noted that the study lacks statistical power.

"Pull Mercury from Mouths of Dead" - "STOCKHOLM - Amalgam tooth fillings made with mercury should be pulled out before people are cremated to cut emissions of the highly toxic metal, a Swedish government agency report proposed on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"Vitamin D Deficiency Called Major Health Risk" - "Many Americans, particularly African Americans, may be suffering from unrecognized deficiencies of a key nutrient -- vitamin D -- that increase the risk of bone problems and perhaps a host of other diseases, a growing number of scientists say.

Pediatricians scattered around the country have been surprised to see children suffering from rickets, a bone disorder caused by vitamin D deficiency that had been largely relegated to a bygone era. A few doctors have come across adults who were disabled by severe muscle weakness and pain, sometimes for years, until they were treated for undiagnosed vitamin D deficiency. And recent studies suggest low vitamin D may be putting the elderly at higher risk for the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis and life-threatening falls and fractures.

But beyond bone and muscle problems, some evidence suggests a dearth of vitamin D may be associated with an array of more serious illnesses, including many forms of cancer, high blood pressure, depression, and immune-system disorders such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes.

In response, many scientists have begun pushing to sharply boost the official recommendations for how much vitamin D everyone should get daily, either by taking supplements, by eating more food that contains the nutrient or from the sun -- a major source of vitamin D.

Suggestions that people get more sun exposure, however, have sparked an unusually intense, and sometimes bitter, debate." (Washington Post)

Environment & Climate News June 2004 (The Heartland Institute)

"Could global warming mean less sunshine and less rainfall?" - "New research, led by Dr. Beate Liepert of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, shows new findings that a warmer world may mean a dryer and dimmer world." (The Earth Institute at Columbia University)

"Climate Change Boom or Bust for Biodiversity?" - "JOHANNESBURG - Will climate change trigger mass extinctions or will new life bloom in its wake?" (Reuters)

"Russia Undecided on Kyoto on Eve of EU Summit" - "MOSCOW - Russia will resist European Union pressure and will not agree to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on the environment at Friday's summit with EU leaders, high-ranking sources said Thursday.

A government source said Energy and Industry Minister Viktor Khristenko had asked for an extra three months to draw up a report on the pact, which can only come into force if Russia approves it.

It was now "highly unlikely" that Russia would make any announcement at the EU-Russia summit. Another high-ranking source said the issue would not even figure on the agenda." (Reuters)

"As Kyoto Struggles, Smaller-Scale Initiatives Push Ahead On Global Warming" - "Russian scientists this week delivered what could turn out to be a fatal blow to the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. They advised President Vladimir Putin to reject Kyoto -- and if he heeds their advice, it will deal the final blow to the seven-year-old pact. But even as the fate of the protocol looks increasingly grim, a growing number of local groups, governments and businesses are willingly adopting Kyoto-like measures to cut harmful gas emissions." (RFE/RL)

Figures... "Environmentalists sue over Medicine Lake geothermal plans" - "SACRAMENTO - Environmental groups have sued the federal government over geothermal projects it has approved in the remote Medicine Lake Highlands region considered sacred by Indian tribes.

The suit, filed Tuesday and announced Wednesday, challenges approval of the first two geothermal power plants proposed by Calpine Corp. Both would be built within the Medicine Lake caldera, the remnant of an ancient volcano 30 miles east of Mt. Shasta and 10 miles south of the Lava Beds National Monument in northeastern California.

The four environmental coalitions that filed the suit in Sacramento federal court contend the power projects at Fourmile Hill and Telephone Flat would turn an otherwise scenic natural area into "an ugly, noisy, stinking industrial wasteland." (Associated Press)

"Fears of dwindling oil supply unfounded" - "CLAIMS that the world’s oil reserves are running low and a loss of petrol supplies is imminent have been laid to rest in a new report. According to Dr Leonardo Maugeri, the world is not running out of oil, and the reality is that there are abundant supplies for years to come. In his report Oil: Never Cry Wolf - Why the Petroleum Age Is Far From Over, he says that rather than being fixed, oil reserves are often larger than first thought because of increasing knowledge about specific deposits and advances in technology for recovering the oil. In addition, estimates of proven world oil reserves have been increasing since the 1940s, a trend he says is likely to continue." (The Scotsman)

"Assembly approves car labels revealing global warming gases" - "SACRAMENTO -- New cars sold in California would have to have labels telling potential buyers how much global warming gases the vehicles produce if a bill approved Thursday by the state Assembly becomes law." (AP)

"As Nanotech Grows, Leaders Grapple With Public Fear And Misperception" - "NEW YORK, May 20, 2004 – As the NanoBusiness Alliance’s annual conference concluded Tuesday, lawyer Daniel Ritter came to this conclusion: "These are the best of times, and worst of times for nanotech.”

The good news, said the attorney who represents the Alliance in Washington, D.C., is that nanotech businesses are growing and the government has made the science a U.S. strategic priority.

But with growing media coverage about nanotech's potential risks, and a movie version of Michael Crichton’s nano-horror novel "Prey" in the works, Ritter and other leaders wrestled with how the industry should respond to critics." (Jack Mason, Small Times Correspondent)

"Breakthrough may bring life to barren earth" - "Scientists say 'eco-friendly' genetic manipulation will provide the answer to agriculture's greatest challenge." (The Guardian)

"Gene firm pioneers desert crops" - "The prospect of crops that can be irrigated with sea water and grown in hostile environments such as deserts has been promised by a group of American scientists whose genetic modification business was quietly floated on the London stock market yesterday.

FuturaGene, a company formed to protect patents over a series of gene discoveries, has pooled the work of plant experts at three US agricultural research institutions.

The scientists claim to be pursuing a new type of "eco-friendly" genetics which has allowed them to develop prototype tomato and rice plants able to thrive in salt-rich soils and hibernate in conditions of extreme cold or drought." (The Guardian)

Biotech Poll: Is the EU right to lift its ban on GM food? (EUbusiness)

Got an opinion? You're only a couple of clicks away from expressing it and it's FREE! Not only, it will also display a bonus results page once you've voted.

"Reaping What Biopharming Sows" - "Want safer, cheaper drugs? Don't we all. Well, biotechnology applied in an ingenious new way might be the answer -- if activists and regulators don't get in the way." (Henry I. Miller, TCS)

"Evidence-Based Scientific Research?" - "One of the lovely things about being a Green preacher is that the media usually lets you get away with being a sanctimonious hypocrite.

The Australian media recently reported the righteous anger of one David Risstrom -- a candidate for the Green party in Australia's national elections expected later this year -- who recently criticized Australia's premier national scientific research organization, CSIRO, for hiring a former spokesman for Big Tobacco. Risstrom thundered that someone capable of telling such untruths for tobacco companies is "wholly unsuited to represent CSIRO and the high standards of evidence-based scientific research it represents'."

This is a very reasonable point to make, but the question is: was Risstrom quite the man to make it? It's odd to hear him now defend "evidence-based scientific research'', when this is the same man who only last month praised the Government of the State of Victoria for its wholly unscientific ban on commercial crops of genetically modified canola -- a ban that Nobel prize laureate Peter Doherty and former CSIRO chief Adrienne Clarke both condemn as anti-reason and against all the evidence that such crops are safe and useful." (Andrew Bolton, TCS)

"TRANSCRIPT, 7.30 Report: GM debate continues to confuse" - "KERRY O'BRIEN: The debate over genetic modification has seen most Australian States ban commercial GM crops until at least 2006. But these attempts by the states to declare themselves GM-free are proving increasingly meaningless. In fact, it's not clear if those who use the term are even aware that genetically modified soy feed from the US is being fed to Australian chickens. While some scientists say there's absolutely no evidence that the practice has any health implications for consumers, anti-GM activists say it's too early to tell. Mick Bunworth reports." (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

"New Zealand: Greenpeace claims victory in GE battle with McDonald's" - "Greenpeace is ending its campaign against McDonald's restaurant chain in New Zealand because the fastfood chain has asked its chicken suppliers to use feed that is not genetically engineered (GE).

"McDonald's has given us a position statement consistent with the stance the company has taken in Europe which urges its chicken suppliers to source non-GE soy feed," Greenpeace GE campaigner Steve Abel said today." (NZPA)

"Consumers still wary of GM products" - "The benefits of genetically modified agriculture need to be examined in the context of potential risks to human health, biodiversity and the environment, Jacques Diouf, director-general of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in Beijing yesterday.

Governments and populations should have access to information they need to make decisions and to put controls and protection systems in place, Diouf said." (China Daily)

"GM Food and Crops: What Went Wrong in the UK?" - "Genetically modified (GM) crops are now being grown extensively in North and South America and China, although not in Europe. Food produced from these crops has become a part of the normal diet in North and South America and in China, but not in Europe, where contention continues despite the fact that millions of US citizens eat GM soya without any ill effects in a very litigious society, and many Europeans have eaten GM soya while in the US without any adverse consequences." (Derek Burke, EMBO Reports)

May 20, 2004

"Overmatching the Gods" - "Against stupidity," Friedrich Schiller wrote, "the very gods themselves contend in vain."

The world is full of examples of this phenomenon, but today I'm going to mention just one: the wave of anti-vaccination sentiment that has led to the reappearance of pertussis, a disease that once seemed old-fashioned, but that now, thanks to stupidity (and a helping hand from avarice), is back in style." (Glenn Harlan Reynolds, TCS)

"Acrylamide damage to offspring unlikely, experts say" - "ALEXANDRIA, Virginia - A chemical known as acrylamide that is found in fried and baked goods is unlikely to cause reproductive problems in humans who consume it in their food and water, an expert panel concluded Wednesday." (Reuters Health)

"Sugar industry threatens WHO's anti-obesity strategy" - "Vigorous behind-the-scenes lobbying by the sugar industry threatens to derail a landmark anti-obesity strategy due to be adopted this week by the World Health Organisation, despite expressions of support for the strategy from US and European food groups.

Health activists and officials said the sugar lobby had succeeded in mobilising sugar-producing countries, notably in the Caribbean and in Africa, to oppose the WHO plan. They have been joined by some other poor nations to argue that a focus on obesity threatens to overshadow their immediate concerns of hunger and malnourishment.

"There's a real chance that the sugar lobby could sabotage this. We're very worried," said one health official. Under WHO procedures, adoption of the strategy requires consensus of the 192 member states attending the annual world health assembly in Geneva this week." (Financial Times) | WHO in crisis talks over diet strategy (United Press International)

"Thought for food" - "THE US DEPARTMENT of Agriculture is besieged by corporate interests as it revises the dietary guidelines that are supposed to encourage Americans to eat nutritious but not fattening meals. It's time to take this task away from the USDA and put a disinterested authority in charge of these important recommendations." (The Boston Globe)

"Claim made for new form of life" - "Doctors claim to have uncovered new evidence that the tiny particles known as "nannobacteria" are indeed alive and may cause a range of human illnesses." (BBC News Online)

"Pondering Animals" - "In the 1960s and 1970s, amid reports of sign-language-using chimpanzees and big-brained dolphins, an expansive picture of animal intelligence took hold in public opinion and among parts of the scientific community. The view that some nonhuman species possess considerable capacities for reasoning, language and self-awareness remains popular today, and has been a factor in the rise of the animal-rights movement." (Kenneth Silber, TCS)

"We're Doomed Again - Paul Ehrlich has never been right. Why does anyone still listen to him?" - "Environmentalist Paul Ehrlich has proved himself to be a stupendously bad prophet. In 1968 he declared: "The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines--hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death." They didn't. Indeed, a "green revolution" nearly tripled the world's food supply. In 1975, he predicted that, by the mid-1980s, "mankind will enter a genuine age of scarcity," in which "accessible supplies of many key minerals will be facing depletion." Far from it. Between 1975 and 2000 the World Bank's commodity price index for minerals and metals fell by nearly 50%. In other words, we abound in "key minerals." Naturally, Mr. Ehrlich has won a MacArthur Foundation genius award--and a Heinz Award for the environment. (Yes, that Heinz: Teresa Heinz Kerry is chairman of the award's sponsoring philanthropy.)

So why pay him any notice? Because he is a reverse Cassandra. In "The Illiad," the prophetess Cassandra makes true predictions and no one believes her; Mr. Ehrlich makes false predictions and they are widely believed. The gloomier he is and the faultier he proves to be as a prophet, the more honored he becomes, even in his own country." (Ronald Bailey, Opinion Journal)

"Putin's aide: Kyoto Protocol is totalitarian" - "Ideology on which the Kyoto Protocol is based, is a new form of totalitarian ideology, along with Marxism, Communism and socialism, Andrey Illarionov, Economic Adviser to President Putin, told the BBC. “For 70 years, Russia suffered from Communism and Marxism, and it incurred huge losses. And now they want us to accept another form of totalitarian ideology,” he said." (Gateway to Russia)

"Russia Kyoto decision unlikely at EU summit" - "MOSCOW, May 20 - Russia is unlikely to give in to European pressure and agree to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on the environment at Friday's EU summit, a government source said on Thursday. The government source said Energy and Industry Minister Viktor Khristenko would ask Thursday's government meeting to postpone the deadline for a decision to August 20. "Mr Khristenko has signed a request to the government to extend the deadline for examining Kyoto by three months," the source told Reuters. Previously, the government was to decide by Thursday. "There will be no unified position so it is very unlikely that there can be an announcement at the summit." (Reuters)

He's ba-ack... "'Kyoto-ism', or Russia and Kyoto: from the samovar's spout..." (EnviroSpin Watch)

"The Day After 'The Day After Tomorrow'" - "Everyone loves to talk about the weather, and leave it to Hollywood to capitalize on our fascination with the atmosphere. Some of the greatest movie scenes of all times have featured incredible lightning, hurricanes, droughts, tornadoes, blizzards, floods, dust storms, heat waves, and every conceivable (and inconceivable) perfect and imperfect storm. Kevin Costner's 1995 Waterworld warned of a sweltering world of rising seas and reduced land areas thanks to elevated levels of greenhouse gases. But now, Hollywood has decided to entertain (or scare) us with a fascinating twist to the global warming apocalypse -- this time around, our greenhouse gases cause a disruption to ocean currents, and the Earth abruptly plunges into unthinkable meteorological calamities and an immediate ice age." (Robert Balling, TCS)

"Drought Doubt" - "Is the five-year-long drought in the western U.S. linked to human-induced global warming? A masthead editorial in the May 10th edition of The New York Times suggests it is. If you think of this as a scientific hypothesis instead of editorial comment, it’s one you easily can test. All it takes is about ten minutes and a few mouse clicks to gather data from the Internet. We even suggested this to the Times, only to be ignored." (co2andclimate.org)

"Look forward to a darker world - 'Global dimming' may stop the Earth overheating" - "It's official: the world is getting darker. Scientists now agree that as cloud cover and particles in the atmosphere increase, the amount of radiation reaching us from the Sun is falling. And although they are nervous about raising the idea, they think the effect may help protect us from global warming." (NSU)

In the virtual world: "Climate change heralds thirsty times ahead" - "Fresh water will be in ever shorter supply as climate change gathers pace. A that increasing temperatures will dramatically affect the world's great rivers. While flows will increase overall, with some rivers becoming more swollen, many that provide water for the majority of the world's people will begin to dry up. Some of these predicted changes are already happening. A second study shows temperature changes have affected the flow in many of the world's 200 largest rivers over the past century, with the flow of Africa's rivers declining over the past 10 years." (New Scientist)

"Eat dust, and soak up carbon" - "Just as lawns need fertiliser to flourish, so do phytoplankton in the oceans. But nitrogen by itself is not enough: for years marine biologists have argued that some other mineral shortages must limit growth in the oceans, and keep the deep seas blue rather than green with chlorophyll." (The Guardian)

"Study: Earth has been gradually cooling" - "Contrary to the new global catastrophe film, Earth's climate system won't flip in a matter of days. But a new analysis of the ocean bottom changes the timetable for onset of the latest ice age.

Oxygen isotopes captured in sediments tell scientists that the planet has been in a gradual cooling trend for the past 35 million years or so. But even up until about 2 million years ago, the climate was significantly warmer than today, sea levels were higher, and ice sheets at the poles were much smaller.

Animals and plants existed hundreds of miles farther north into the Arctic region than many of their relatives do today, although the Antarctic stayed ice covered throughout the era. Some scientists believe that if global warming continues, the world's climate and environment will eventually look like this again." (Scripps Howard News Service) | New findings on climate show gradual shift to modern but increased sensitivity to perturbations (NSF) | Gradual shift led to modern climate mode with increased sensitivity to perturbations (University of California - Santa Cruz)

"Thaw of Icy Gas May Worsen Global Warming - Report" - "OSLO - A thawing of vast ice-like deposits of gas under oceans and in permafrost could sharply accelerate global warming in the 21st century, British-based scientists said yesterday.

Rising temperatures could break down buried mixtures of water, methane and other gases - called gas hydrates - and release them into the atmosphere where they would trap the sun's heat, they said.

Gas hydrates could be a "serious geohazard in the near future due to the adverse effects of global warming on the stability of gas hydrate deposits," the Benfield Hazard Research Center said in a report." (Reuters)

"Study to examine how climate change melts permafrost under Arctic roads" - "YELLOWKNIFE - The federal and territorial governments will study how global warming could affect the North's attempts to develop its resources even as climate change begins to melt the permafrost under Arctic roads and runways.

"We need to learn more about how climate change will affect our roads, will affect our runways, will affect our infrastructure," N.W.T. Resources Minister Brendan Bell said Wednesday as the two-year, $425,000 study was announced.

Federal Resources Minister John Efford, who was in Yellowknife for the announcement, said the study will be used to determine how best to mitigate the effects of climate change." (Canadian Press)

"The Connecticut Con" - "Despite the valiant efforts of a few state legislators to bring fiscal responsibility back into government, the Connecticut state legislature's recent passage of a controversial bill is best described as an exercise in rational ignorance." (Sandy Liddy Bourne, TCS)

"New report examines agriculture's complex role in climate change" - "WASHINGTON (05/17/04) -- The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) has released a comprehensive new report that analyzes agriculture's complex, pivotal role in the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Written by a task force of 15 authors, Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Mitigation: Challenges and Opportunities for Agriculture (CAST Report No. 141) highlights the complexities of policy options, implementation, and future monitoring and verification of GHG mitigation." (Capitol Reports)

"Six EU states face action over CO2 emissions plans" - "The European Commission is to start legal action against six European Union states for not submitting plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

Margot Wallström, the environment commissioner, yesterday said her preliminary analysis of plans submitted was that many were too generous in allocations to companies. "Too many allowances and a resulting low price will create little incentive to change behaviour," she said.

Ms Wallström also said only three of the 10 countries that joined the EU on May 1 had filed their national plans, but since they were given a later deadline they would also benefit from an unspecified "grace period" before facing infringement proceedings.

The national plans are needed before the planned launch of an EU-wide emissions trading scheme next January. The scheme will force companies that exceed their allocations to buy extra allowances from more efficient companies or face heavy fines." (Financial Times) | National emissions trading plans: Member States too late and over-allocating (EurActiv)

Letter of the moment: "Fairness of 'fair trade'" - "Sir, Oliver Kamm (Thunderer, May 19) is in my view correct to question the inherent “fairness” of “fair trade”. “Fair trade” is a market distortion that benefits a small, chosen group of poor farmers to the disadvantage of the rest, many of whom are more efficient." (Professor Emeritus Philip Stott, The Times)

"Dead Moratorium" - "The moratorium on authorizing new genetically modified (GM) products for the EU market is about to end as the European Commission announced its approval of the GM maize product known as Bt-11. The Bt-11 corn, produced by the Swiss biotech corporation Syngenta, has been genetically modified to produce its own insecticide.

The EU's agriculture council failed on April 26 to either reject or adopt the Commission's proposal to authorize the maize. Nevertheless, the Commission decided this week to adopt it single-handedly. This means imports can start immediately.

This is good news for all friends of progress in Europe -- even if the Greens are worked into a frenzy, issuing press releases with headlines screaming of impending doom. The moratorium has been in effect since 1998 (a small eternity when it comes to discussing biotechnology with its rapid pace), held back by both the greens and the special interests but also a widespread anxiety among European consumers." (Waldemar Ingdahl, TCS)

"European Union lifts GM food ban" - "A six-year moratorium on genetically modified food has been lifted by the European Commission. Commissioners backed a bid by Swiss-based Syngenta to sell Bt-11 sweet corn for human consumption. The decision fell to the Commission after EU governments failed to reach agreement on whether to lift the ban, which had been challenged by the US." (BBC News Online)

"US keeps pressure up on biofoods" - "The US said yesterday it would maintain its challenge against the European Union over restrictions on imports of genetically modified products, even after Brussels approved its first GM food in more than five years." (Financial Times)

"'Good science' behind lifting of EU's GM ban: commissioner" - "BRUSSELS - The European Commission's decision to lift a five-year EU ban on bio-engineered food was based on good science rather than ideology, health commissioner David Byrne revealed. Public hostility to genetically modified food will abate as it becomes clear that the European Union has "the safest food legislation in the world", the Irish official told a news conference Wednesday." (AFP)

"Europe's okay for GM corn sparks row over democracy, safeguards" - "A fresh row over genetically-modified food erupted in Europe on Wednesday after the European Commission declared the EU would allow its first imports of a bio-engineered crop, tinned sweetcorn for human consumption, in over five years.

Outraged, Europe's green lobby accused the European Union executive of flouting public opinion and the so-called precautionary principle, by which a GM product must be proven safe before it goes on sale.

"The European Commission is gambling with the health of consumers. Member states remain divided over the long-term safety of this GM sweetcorn, yet the commission wants to force it down our throats," said Friends of the Earth campaigner Adrian Bebb.

"But the public won't swallow this. Hostility to GM food and crops is likely to grow, and the public's confidence in EU decision-making is likely to be damaged."

Greenpeace accused the commission of kowtowing to "American farmers and agribusiness".

"It is irresponsible to authorise a product for human consumption when such doubts persist on its safety," said anti-GM campaigner Arnaud Apoteker." (EUbusiness)

"GM food: welcome to Europe?" - "Wednesday saw the European Union lift its six-year-old ban on genetically modified crops. The European Commission took the decision following the recent and renewed failure of the EU's agriculture ministers to reach agreement on the pros and cons of the foodstuffs produced by the world's biotech industry.

Is maize that has been altered in a laboratory to become resistant to insects safe for human consumption? According to the European Commission, the answer to that question now reads in the affirmative." (Radio Netherlands)

"Editorial: Breakthrough on biotech" - "The door just swung open for genetically modified foods to alleviate world hunger. A United Nations report endorsing biotechnology for poor farmers in developing countries should be a call to action for public and private initiatives that could improve life for millions." (Des Moines Register)

"Editorial: Genetically Engineered Wheat: Luddites triumph" - "MONSANTO'S DECISION to not market genetically modified wheat represents another triumph of baseless fear over science. It's one more reason for Monsanto to hurry the day when genetically modified crops improve consumer health as well as crop yields." (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

"Narrow Path for New Biotech Food Crops" - "LOS ANGELES, May 19 - As a research scientist at the world's largest vegetable seed company, David Tricoli used genetic engineering to create a virus-resistant melon, something that conventional plant breeders had been unable to develop.

But the company, Seminis, dropped the melon project and most of its other work on biotech vegetables because of the high costs of obtaining regulatory approval and perceived consumer resistance.

"There are things that growers need and want, but it's just too difficult to get them out," said Mr. Tricoli, who left Seminis in 2001 after the cutbacks and now works at the University of California, Davis. "In biotech, we have a solution to the problem, but it's just sitting there." (New York Times)

May 19, 2004

"Cancer Risk Rises With Greater Soda Consumption " - "WASHINGTON - Too much soda could raise your risk of getting esophageal cancer, which is usually fatal. Researchers presented several studies at a meeting in New Orleans Monday. According to Reuters, a team at Tata Memorial Hospital in India found a strong relationship between the rise in per capita consumption of carbonated soft drinks in the past 50 years and a documented increase in rates of esophageal cancer in the U.S." (WTOP News) | GI Health Affected By Consumption Of Coffee And Carbonated Drinks [PDF] (DDW)

Response To Esophageal Cancer Paper in New Orleans:

The paper presented by Professor Mohandas K. Mallath from Mumbai India in New Orleans, Louisiana this weekend temporally correlates the increase in adenocarcinoma of the esophagus in American white males with the increase in consumption of soft drinks from 1974 to 2000.

  • This is not a peer review publication; it is a correlation study that cannot even imply causality.
  • Any factor which is increasing in prevalence over time (use of video recorders, cell phones, various medications, consumption of pizza, etc.) would correlate with the rising incidence of adenocarcinoma of the esophagus.
  • Although the rate of adenocarcinoma of the esophagus is increasing in the U.S., the rates of this type of esophageal cancer are very low compared to the major cancers in the U.S. Thus, even a small increase in rates will be a large percentage increase. Better diagnostic procedures are also undoubtedly responsible for some of the increased incidence reported.
  • The known risk factors for adenocarcinoma of the esophagus are tobacco use, total fat intake, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and perhaps salty foods.
  • Dietary factors may be involved in esophageal cancer, but studies in areas of the world at exceptionally high-risk of esophageal cancer, such as in parts of North Central China, suggest that consumption of fluids (other than alcohol) tends to be associated with decreased rather than increased risk.
  • The explanation of acid in soft drinks associated with esophageal cancer defies logic as citrus beverages such as orange juice and grapefruit juice are also acidic and consumption of these beverages begins at an early age, and intake of fruits and fruit juices has been linked to decreased rather than increased risk of this cancer.
  • Per-capita soft drink consumption is known to be very high in Mexico and Mexican Americans, yet rates of esophageal adenocarcinoma are lower among Hispanic than non-Hispanic whites in California, New Mexico and other areas of the United States. (see e.g., Kubo A, Am J Gastroenterol 2004; 99: 582-8; Wu AH, Cancer Causes & Control 2001: 8: 721-32; Vega KJ, Am J Gastroenterol 2000: 95: 2352-6).
  • All ingredients in soft drinks are approved as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"Group seeks to ban type of fat from foods" - "WASHINGTON - A U.S. consumer group asked the government on Tuesday to bar restaurants and food manufacturers from using a type of artery-clogging fat found in pastries, cookies, crackers and deep-fried foods.

The ingredient, called partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, is formed when food makers harden liquid oil to make it solid. It is the main source in Americans' diets of trans fat, which raises the "bad" cholesterol, LDL, and increases the risk of heart disease.

Removing partially hydrogenated vegetable oil from the food supply could save between 11,000 and 30,000 lives each year, the consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest said in a petition to the Food and Drug Administration." (Reuters)

"Crunch time for crisps?" - "The headlines seemed surprising - sales of snacks and fizzy drinks have slumped, they said. Not true, says Felicity Lawrence. We are consuming more than ever." (The Guardian)

"Diet, Alcohol Linked to Nearly 1/3 of Cancer Cases" - "HARROGATE, England - Diet is second only to tobacco as a leading cause of cancer and, along with alcohol, is responsible for nearly a third of cases of the disease in developed countries, a leading researcher said on Tuesday." (Reuters)

Figures... "Smoking ban hits Ireland's hotels" - "BUPA, the private health company, has abandoned plans for a conference in Dublin because of the Irish ban on smoking in public places. It has now decided that the annual event will go ahead on British soil, where staff will not be forced to leave the building for a cigarette. Almost half the nurses, doctors and administrators who work for BUPA, which has spent millions on anti-smoking promotions which dominate its literature, are smokers." (The Times)

"Advocates Fear Obesity Strategy Blockage" - "GENEVA - Anti-obesity advocates said Tuesday they fear that a bloc of developing countries, led by Brazil, could derail the adoption this week of a global strategy to fight obesity and other diet- or exercise-related diseases worldwide." (AP)

"Vaccine, Preservative Do Not Cause Autism - Panel" - "WASHINGTON - Neither the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine nor a mercury-based preservative used in many childhood shots cause autism, a U.S. health panel said on Tuesday." (Reuters)

They're from the non-government, they're here to... "Tagged penguins turn up too late for a date" - "WOULD-BE do-gooders are doing no good at all to penguins, turning them into late arrivals at the ball who miss all the best pick-ups. Researchers studying the work of other researchers supposedly concerned for penguins’ welfare have found that attaching a tag to a penguin’s flipper impairs its swimming ability." (The Times)

"Scientists hand Putin weapon to kill Kyoto treaty" - "Leading Russian scientists told President Vladimir Putin yesterday that the Kyoto emissions treaty discriminates against Russia, would damage its economy and would not significantly reduce global warming, increasing the chance that the Kremlin will refuse to ratify the agreement." (The Guardian)

"Analysis: Putin's Kyoto 'nyet'" - "MOSCOW May 18, 2004 - With Russia expected to announce its decision on whether to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, advice being given to President Vladimir Putin suggests the Kremlin will confine the pact to the dustbin of history." (UPI)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"Elevated CO 2 Reduces Fluctuating Asymmetry of Oak Leaves" - "So how good or bad is that?" (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Roman Warm Period (South America)" - "Did the Roman Warm Period extend into the Southern Hemisphere?  As in the case of the Medieval Warm Period that followed it, climate alarmists unanimously say no.  Real-world data, however, say yes." (co2science.org)

"Nutrients x CO 2 Effects on Plants (Nitrogen - Trees: Spruce)" - "How does the degree of soil nitrogen availability impact the aerial fertilization effect of atmospheric CO 2 enrichment on the growth of spruce trees?" (co2science.org)

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

Journal Reviews:
"Synchronous Millennial-Scale Climatic Oscillations of the tropical Pacific and north Atlantic Oceans" - "The case for a worldwide millennial-scale oscillation of climate grows ever stronger, demonstrating that the global warming of the 20th century was not a consequence of the concomitant rise in the air's CO 2 content." (co2science.org)

"Interior Alaska Temperatures: Are They the Canary-in-the-Coal-Mine of CO 2 -Induced Global Warming?" - "Since every other high-latitude place we have searched for the feathered harbinger of anthropogenic-induced climate change has proven clueless, perhaps this one will at last deliver the goods." (co2science.org)

"The Longevity of Amazonian Rainforest Trees" - "What are their upper age limits?  And what are the implications of that knowledge for tempering predicted CO 2 -induced global warming via biological carbon sequestration?" (co2science.org)

"Effect of Atmospheric CO 2 Enrichment on Isoprene Emissions from a Globally Ubiquitous Grass" - "Are they increased or decreased?  And why do we care?" (co2science.org)

"Free Radical Scavenging Capacities of Winter Wheat" - "How may they be altered by global warming?  And why do we care?" (co2science.org)

"Cooler Heads newsletter, May 18, 2004" Adverse impacts of warming have been exaggerated; Earth more resistant to climate change than assumed; McCain vows another vote on energy rationing bill; Romney unveils climate protection plan for Massachusetts; EU emissions trading scheme threatens electricity blackouts; Hybrid cars' miles per gallon falls short (globalwarming.org)

"The Day After Rupert Murdoch Takes Over America" - "Fresh off the contrived controversy of Michael Moore accusing Disney of censorship for refusing to distribute his anti-Bush celluloid screed comes another politically charged film. The Day After Tomorrow, a flick that purports to warn about destruction wrought by global warming, crashes into multiplexes across the land on May 28. Already, Al Gore and the lefty Internet clearing house MoveOn.org are planning to exploit the movie's New York premiere with a rally the same day. MoveOn.org is calling it "the movie the White House doesn't want you to see." (Ivan Osorio, The American Spectator Online)

"It's a hell of a town" - "Climate change freezes New York in a new Hollywood blockbuster. John Vidal finds out what scientists and activists think about The Day After Tomorrow." (The Guardian)

"Relax: Day after tomorrow will be fine" - "Hollywood, the spear carrier for the left, is doing its usual election-year thing. Propagandist Michael Moore got cheers last week at a film festival in France about President George W. Bush’s “lies” about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And later this month Hollywood jumps aboard the global warming bandwagon with an ideologically loaded flick titled “The Day After Tomorrow,” which hypothesizes the flash-freezing of New York City after those nasty oil-besotted Republicans refuse to take action to stabilize the climate." (Thomas Bray, The Detroit News)

"Lib Dems produce more hot air on environment" - "MARGARET BECKETT MP, Labour’s Secretary of State for the Environment, today categorically rejected Charles Kennedy’s claims about the Prime Minister’s international leadership in tackling climate change, and Labour’s environmental record.

Labour’s Margaret Beckett MP said: “Charles Kennedy’s comments are absurd and demonstrate an alarming ignorance of international climate change negotiations.

“Tony Blair is renowned and respected across the world for his leadership on international climate change, and there is enormous enthusiasm for his decision to make this a top priority for our G8 Presidency." (labour.org.uk)

In the tabloids: "A Summer To Die For" - "TO us the changes are imperceptible. The slight shifts of our seasons that barely warrant comment beyond a casual remark that spring seems to be springing earlier these days.

But to British wildlife, the reality of climate change is dramatic - and in many cases devastating.

It is estimated that more than a million species around the world will be wiped out in the next 50 years, and Sir David King, the government's chief scientific officer, has warned that climate change is a bigger threat to the world than terrorism." (Daily Mirror)

"Greenpeace Accuses Esso over Kyoto" - "A new advertising campaign from oil giant Esso was condemned by environmental campaigners today. Esso is running adverts in newspapers and on television to raise consumer awareness about energy use and to promote its environmental credentials. Greenpeace dismissed the adverts as corporate PR and accused the company of “running scared” of the Stop Esso campaign in which it is heavily involved. Greenpeace claim Esso used its “wealth and power” to lobby the United States to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty designed to reduce emissions of gases that cause global warming." (PA News)

"Survey Finds More Corporate Attention to Climate Change" - "Many of the world's largest companies appear to be paying greater attention to the business risks and opportunities posed by global warming and climate change, according a group of institutional investors who will release their second annual survey on the subject today.

The survey generated more descriptions than last year of projects to curb the emission of climate-changing gases, to offset business risks related to climate change, or to develop business opportunities related to climate change." (New York Times)

"Syngenta May Struggle to Sell Gene-Modified Corn in Europe" - "May 19 -- Syngenta AG, the world's biggest maker of crop chemicals, will have a hard time getting European retailers and consumers to accept its gene-modified sweet corn, which the European Union is poised to approve for import today, analysts and supermarket companies say.

``We will avoid gene-modified food because consumers don't want it,'' said Urs Peter Naef, spokesman of the Federation of Migros Cooperatives, Switzerland's biggest retailer with annual sales of 20 billion Swiss francs ($15.6 billion). The Syngenta corn, known as Bt11 sweet maize, is resistant to the corn borer pest and is already approved in Switzerland." (Bloomberg)

May 18, 2004

"Convention Okays DDT" - "THE use of DDT will not be banned for the next 20 years. A global campaign to eliminate the 12 most dangerous chemicals has okayed the use of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), which is listed among the eight most hazardous drugs, to eliminate mosquitoes in developing countries until 2025." (New Vision (Kampala))

"What Patent Problem?" - "As the world's health experts gather in Geneva today for the World Health Assembly, it is time to assess the main AIDS debate that has raged for all of this decade. Without clarity on the problems of the spread of HIV AIDS there can be no hope of a solution." (Roger Bate, NRO)

"Why Bother Moving An Asteroid?" - "Astrobiology Magazine -- Testimony of Edward Lu, B612 Foundation, before the Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space of the Senate Commerce Committee, 7 April 2004, before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space dealing with defense against asteroid impacts." (RedNova)

Probably be cheaper (more practical, and provide more jobs) to mandate that everyone must wear hats fitted with airbags... scratch that - Nanny's way too intrusive already.

"Pollution link to cot deaths" - "Up to a sixth of cot deaths may be directly attributable to pollutants from motor vehicle exhaust fumes, it has been revealed. Scientists discovered clear evidence linking unexplained infant deaths in the United States with sooty particles generated by traffic and power stations. Their findings indicate that 16% of normal birth weight baby cot deaths can be blamed on the fine particles, known as PM10s." (Daily Mail)

"Dirty homes bug hygiene scientists" - "People 'misled' by theory of protection through exposure to germs." (The Guardian)

"The Lowdown on Sweet" - "Sugar has definitely gotten a bad rap over the years. It has been blamed for causing (among other things) tooth decay, obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Furthermore, it is common knowledge as reported by parents, teachers and other experts that children become hyperactive after they eat candy and other sugary foods. Indeed, the dangers of sugar have become legendary. Its damaging effects have even been compared to those of another white powder by a well-known consumer advocate group, and an entire industry -- non-sugar sweeteners -- has grown up around the fear produced by the legend. What is it about this wonderful-tasting stuff that inspires such trepidation?" (Jon Robison, TCS)

Uh-oh... "Two studies weigh in on low-carb diets" - "Two randomized trials reported in the May 18, 2004, issue of Annals of Internal Medicine compared low-carbohydrate diets with low-fat diets. Both found that people on the low-carb diets lost weight and had improved triglyceride levels and slightly improved HDL ('good') cholesterol levels. Changes in LDL ('bad') cholesterol levels were not significant." (American College of Physicians)

Zealots (and producers of higher-carb offerings) tend to get pretty steamed over anything which does not paint low-carb diets as totally bad.

"Health agency presents global plan to fight obesity" - "After years of debate, representatives of countries around the world will decide as early as Wednesday whether to approve the first global plan to fight obesity.

The World Health Organization — meeting this week in Geneva — has negotiated with nations and food industries, trying to reshape its recipe for a solution to the growing obesity epidemic.

The WHO strategy is to ask governments to discourage food and beverage ads that exploit children; tax less-healthy foods; limit high-fat, high-sugar foods in schools; and review agricultural policies that may contribute to obesity and related diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer." (USA TODAY)

So, it's true. WHO now stands for "Wallowing Hopelessly Off-mission."

"Frogs and Fish: Not the Best of Friends" - "The worldwide decline in frogs and other amphibians has been well documented, though the reasons for it are less clear. Scientists have suggested many possible factors, including climate change, disease and increased exposure to ultraviolet radiation and pesticides.

But for some species, a major reason could simply be that they are being eaten — by predators introduced into their habitat." (New York Times)

And another business ran: "RAN Moves Bank of America To Set New Industry Best Practices for Climate Change and Forest Policies" - "Charlotte, NC and San Francisco, CA - Bank of America and Rainforest Action Network today announced that Bank of America will lead the financial services industry by setting new industry best practices for the environment. The bank will enhance its environmental programs with climate change and forest policies that take significant new steps in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, protection of intact forest ecosystems and transparent public reporting to all stakeholders." (Rainforest Action Network)

"Government urged to make new buildings more eco-friendly" - "All public buildings should be built to a single new sustainability code to avoid a repeat of the environmentally "disastrous" 1960s construction boom, a government taskforce recommends today." (The Guardian) | Sustainable Buildings Task Group report (pdf)

"Global Catastrophe, With Popcorn" - "Does Disaster Movie Trivialize Environmental Issues?" (ABCNews.com)

Not to put too fine a point on it, it's way past due for the "issue" of "global warming" to be returned to the trivial, where it belongs.

  • Could we deliberately manage a complex, coupled, non-linear, chaotic system by tinkering with a few minor variables such as atmospheric levels of a few trace gasses?
    Oh puh-lease! We don't even know what a lot of driving forces are, let alone how they interact.
  • Is catastrophe likely?
    There's no apparent reason to suspect so. If the recovery from the Little Ice Age continues - excellent! A warmer world has always been more biosphere-friendly.
  • Even if we could knowingly control the climate, is it more cost-effective to do so than to utilise the resources to adapt?
    Silly question really, since we can't knowingly control the climate we must simply adapt to whatever it does.

What a silly distraction from real-world problems.

"Unnatural Weather, Natural Disasters: A New U.N. Focus" - "As 1999 drew to a close, two weeks of continuous rain drummed down the sides of the Ávila Mountains in northern Venezuela. The soil was so saturated that landslides and mudflows careered down the mountain, washing away towns, dams and bridges and claiming thousands of lives.

Although this was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recent decades, it was far from unique. Last year, 700 floods, storms and other weather calamities claimed 75,000 lives worldwide and caused about $65 billion in economic damage. By far, most of the victims - about 98 percent - were in the poorest nations.

But officials at the World Meteorological Organization, the world's weather agency, say that in the future that toll can be cut in half. The little-known United Nations agency, with 187 member countries, began a drive in March to improve early weather warnings and disaster preparations, and to build up weather agencies in developing countries." (New York Times)

"Russia holds veto on Kyoto treaty" - "State agencies face a May 20 deadline to give advice to Putin, who remains undecided." (The Christian Science Monitor)

Thank heavens someone's still looking at the science: "Russia's top scientists tell Putin to kill Kyoto" - "MOSCOW, May 17 - The Kyoto Protocol to limit greenhouse gases has no scientific basis and puts the Russian economy at risk, Russia's leading scientists said in official advice to President Vladimir Putin.

In the document, obtained by Reuters on Monday, the Russian Academy of Sciences said the global treaty would not stabilise greenhouse gases even if it came into force.

The Academy drew up the summary after a request from Putin, who has the power to kill off the treaty worldwide by refusing to pass it to parliament for ratification. Some diplomats hope for a decision on the matter by the end of the week.

"The Kyoto Protocol has no scientific foundation," said the first of the Academy's conclusions, adopted in a closed session last Friday." (Reuters)

"Kyoto Protocol pledge looking hard to keep" - "According to an estimate by the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, the amount of carbon dioxide emissions produced as a result of Japan's consumption of energy in fiscal 2010 will increase by 5 percent over fiscal 1990 levels, despite anticipated progress in the nation's campaign against global warming.

This estimate was contained in a report submitted to the Advisory Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, an advisory body to the economy, trade and industry minister that has put together a report on projections of long-term energy supply and demand." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

Whipple's weekly worry: "Climate: Sitting in the catbird seat?" - "BOULDER, Colo., May 17 -- One of the advantages of being the world's only superpower is it seems to bestow a relative immunity to the prospective ravages of global warming.

Or does it?

The Pew Center of Global Climate Change's report, "A Synthesis of Potential Climate Impacts on the United States," finds the country as whole has a high capacity to adapt to anticipated climate change, although the effects to natural systems, different economic sectors and different regions will vary.

This could be viewed as another case of the rich getting richer, because the study also says the impacts of climate change on poorer developing countries "are likely to be negative, even at lower levels of warming." (Dan Whipple, United Press International)

"Arctic temperatures warming rapidly-polar explorer" - "OTTAWA, May 17 - Summer temperatures in the Arctic have risen at an incredible rate over the past three years and large patches of what should be ice are now open water, a British polar explorer said on Monday." (Reuters)

"Arctic peat still frozen" - "WASHINGTON--Water flowing down Arctic rivers contains mostly young carbon, evidence that ancient northern peat bogs haven't started thawing in recent warm temperatures, a team of researchers has found.

However, if temperatures continue to rise, the bogs will probably start dumping carbon, which, when combined with oxygen, could boost atmospheric carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, according to the team's report. That in turn could worsen global warming trends, though no one is sure by how much.

Ron Benner, a University of South Carolina professor, sampled the dissolved carbon in the Ikpikpuk and Kokolik rivers on the North Slope in 2002. A colleague looked at water from several Siberian rivers.

The researchers found that most of the dissolved carbon in the Arctic rivers comes from plants that grew in the past several decades, not millenia, Benner said in an interview earlier this month. That rules out the peat bogs as a source.

The peat bogs are just one factor in the worldwide carbon cycle that scientists are trying to understand so they can pull it all together into a reliable climate change model." (Fairbanks News-Miner)

Darker! No, brighter! Ah, who knows... "Sun on the run? Not in the Northwest" - "Global warming may be drawing the solar shades on some parts of the world, but the sun is shining brighter than ever in the Pacific Northwest.

Solar energy researcher Frank Vignola at the University of Oregon says he's documented a 10 percent increase in the amount of sunlight shining on the Northwest over the past 10 years. That runs counter to recent findings that suggest that rising pollution has spurred a "global dimming" that has cut sunlight worldwide during the latter half of the 20th century." (The Register-Guard)

"Rude Awakening for Hybrid Dreamers" - "Hybrid-electric cars are the flavor of the moment for environmental campaigners. Activists like Arianna Huffington, Larry David and Leonardo DiCaprio urge us all to "break the chain" and drive them. Al Gore, meanwhile, used the previews last week of the scientifically-implausible disaster film The Day After Tomorrow to commend them, saying "I think the new fuel-efficient vehicles represent ethical choices." Yet there are a few problems with this dream of a hybrid tomorrow. Surveys show that people are highly resistant to them; their owners are starting to realize that they aren't quite as fuel-efficient as advertised; and when it comes to their expense, a new study suggests that lack of access to affordable cars hurts minority employment." (Iain Murray, TCS)

"Canada's top court to rule on Monsanto case Friday" - "OTTAWA, May 17 - A high-profile legal case over whether a Canadian farmer infringed on biotech patents held by Monsanto Co. will be settled once and for all by Canada's top court on Friday, officials said on Monday.

The seven-year fight between Monsanto and Percy Schmeiser has turned the Saskatchewan farmer into a poster-boy for farmers around the world who want to stop the proliferation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)." (Reuters)

"The gene revolution: great potential for the poor, but no panacea" - "17 May 2004, Rome -- Biotechnology holds great promise for agriculture in developing countries, but so far only farmers in a few developing countries are reaping these benefits, FAO said in its annual report 'The State of Food and Agriculture 2003-04', released today.

Basic food crops of the poor such as cassava, potato, rice and wheat receive little attention by scientists, FAO said.

"Neither the private nor the public sector has invested significantly in new genetic technologies for the so-called 'orphan crops' such as cowpea, millet, sorghum and tef that are critical for the food supply and livelihoods of the world's poorest people," said FAO Director-General Dr Jacques Diouf." (FAO)

"BIO Lauds United Nations Report on Biotechnology and Needs of the World's Poor" - "WASHINGTON, May 17 -- Dr. Michael J. Phillips, vice president for food and agriculture, science and regulatory policy, of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), issued the following statement in response to a new report issued today by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, "The State of Food and Agriculture 2003-04." (PRNewswire)

"Farmers Organize Group to Advocate Biotech Wheat" - "Valley City, N.D. – Citing the need to tell a more complete story surrounding the potential benefits and opportunities of biotechnology in wheat, grain farmers from North Dakota and Montana have organized a new group. Growers for Wheat Biotechnology Inc. (GWB) intends to advocate the research, development and acceptance of biotechnology in wheat." (GWB)

"GM food protesters invade Sainsbury's HQ" - "LONDON - Greenpeace activists have invaded the headquarters of Sainsbury's in a protest over supermarket sales of milk from animals fed with genetically modified ingredients." (Reuters)

These days it seems it doesn't matter what it is, Greenpeace are "agin it". Perhaps they'd be happy if we all munched Soylent Green?

"GM Decision 'Will Distance EU Public'" - "BRUSSELS, May 17 - The European Union will face increased public hostility if it approves import of a genetically modified sweetcorn, leading environmental groups warn. The European Commission, the European Union (EU) executive, is due to give the go-ahead Wednesday to the Swiss firm Syngenta to import BT-11 sweet corn into the EU. Friends of the Earth Europe (FoEE) says the Commission will face ”increased public hostility” over the approval." (IPS)

May 17, 2004

"The Real Obstacles to Treating AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis in Developing Countries" (James K. Glassman, TCS)
Editor's note: Links to remarks delivered by James K. Glassman at a recent conference at the American Enterprise Institute.

"Malaria Malpractice" - "Doctors accuse Western health officials of pushing cheap drugs instead of a more effective alternative." (Tom Masland, Newsweek)

"U.N. chemical blacklist from May 17 said too short" - "OSLO, May 16 - A "dirty dozen" of industrial chemicals blamed for causing deaths and birth defects will be outlawed from Monday by a U.N. pact with many experts wanting other poisons added to the blacklist." (Reuters)

"Solar wind to shield Earth during pole flip" - "Hollywood now has one less disaster scenario to worry about. The Earth, it seems, will be safe when its magnetic field falters during the next reversal of its magnetic poles. A new model of the way the Earth interacts with the solar wind indicates that a replacement field will form in the upper atmosphere during the switch. Scientists had previously thought that the planet would be left without a protective shield to stop lethal radiation from space reaching the surface." (New Scientist)

"[UK] Smoking at work 'kills hundreds'" - "Second-hand tobacco smoke at work kills hundreds of Britons each year - including almost one hospitality industry worker a week, a study says. Thousands more are dying from passive smoking at home, according to researchers at Imperial College London.

The figures were released ahead of a conference on smoking in London. Doctors said they highlight the need for a workplace smoking ban, but pro-smoking group Forest called for hard evidence passive smoking was a killer.

Professor Konrad Jamrozik looked at the number of people who died from lung cancer, heart disease and stroke in England and Wales in 2002. He then calculated how many of these would have died as a result of being exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke using a special mathematical formula." (BBC News Online)

"Super Size Thanks" - "Everyone talks about obsessive, self-destructive behavior like it's a bad thing. Not so! Sometimes, the compulsive twitchings of certified idiots illustrate the advantages of restrained, rational behavior, even as they underscore the oft-neglected point that some people are dumber than a sack of doorknobs. Gluttonous eating is a chronic problem here in chubby extra-extra large America, so for sanity to be restored, a fool of breathtaking stature must climb to the summit of Mount Moron, and plant a bright flag on its peak." (Doug Kern, TCS)

"Research targets biologic profile of obesity" - "Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in America due to a number of factors including increased technology and the rise in consumption of prepared and preserved foods. Finding a solution has been a major challenge for researchers, but according to two studies presented today at Digestive Disease Week in New Orleans, significant progress has been made in finding the underlying characteristics of obesity." (American Gastroenterological Association)

"Beyond Personal Responsibility" - "This June, Time magazine and ABC News will host a three-day summit on obesity. ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, who last December anchored the prime time special "How to Get Fat Without Really Trying," will host. Judging by the scheduled program, the summit promises to be pep rally for media, nutrition activists, and policy makers -- all agitating for a panoply of government anti-obesity initiatives, including prohibiting junk food in school vending machines, federal funding for new bike trails and sidewalks, more demanding labels on foodstuffs, restrictive food marketing to children, and prodding the food industry into more "responsible" behavior. In other words, bringing government between you and your waistline." (Radley Balko, TCS)

"Fast food industry accused of using Charles" - "Campaigners say prince is unwitting front for attempt by multinationals to question causes of obesity" (The Guardian)

However apt "unwitting" may be when describing Charlie, the above article is truly bizarre.

"Men prize Rab's beer belly over 'puny' six pack" - "HEALTHY eating campaigns are doomed to failure because many Scottish men would rather have a figure like Rab C Nesbitt than Ewan McGregor, according to new research. Scientists found that a large number of the Scottish males they interviewed prized their beer bellies because it meant they did not look weak. The trend was so pronounced, according to the study, that some men of ‘normal’ weight even wanted to be fatter." (Scotland on Sunday)

"Critical Habitat Reform Act Pits Greens Against Business" - "WASHINGTON — More than three decades after the passage of the Endangered Species Act, some congressmen are calling for its reform, saying the "critical habitat" designation for these protected species is too broad and unclear." (Peter Brownfeld, FoxNews.com)

"Editorial: Saving Wild Salmon" - "Such a step may be good politics for the Bush administration. But it is bad science and bad news for wild salmon. Hatchery-raised fish represent a narrowing of the genetic diversity present in wild runs of salmon, and are makeshift at best. Few scientists believe that hatchery-raised fish can make a serious and lasting contribution to protecting wild salmon runs, which have been crashing under the pressures created by habitat destruction in the coastal streams where they breed. Indeed, this new policy has nothing to do with protecting salmon. Its only purpose is to circumvent the Endangered Species Act, without whose protections the wild runs will almost surely vanish." (New York Times)

"U.S. to Continue Protecting Most Salmon" - "GRANTS PASS, Ore. - All but one of the 26 runs of Pacific salmon listed as threatened or endangered species are likely to retain federal protection, the Bush administration told Congress Friday.

The decision comes despite a proposal to count hatchery fish as equivalent to wild ones, even though biologists have long warned that fish introduced in the wild from hatcheries are harmful to the salmon gene pool." (Associated Press)

"Apocalypse Soon?" - "On March 13, the Guardian newspaper of London, beating the American networks by nearly eight months, called the U.S. presidential election -- for Sen. John F. Kerry. The Democrat would win, the paper declared, not because of his plan for Iraq, or his proposals for the economy, but because of . . . a movie." (Patrick J. Michaels, The Washington Post)

"Here Comes Tomorrow - Al Gore gets his science wrong" - "The fatuous new special-effects extravaganza The Day After Tomorrow (which, judging from the plot summaries so far released might just as well have been called Love in a Cold Climate) seems to have spurred Al Gore to think he's Roger Ebert. Ignoring both the movie's offenses against the laws of physics and the fact that it will simply make Rupert Murdoch (owner of the distributor Twentieth Century Fox) richer, the former vice president has called on Americans to see the film.

Al's reasoning is not that he's been bought by Murdoch (he's actually working with MoveOn.org, financed by another billionaire, George Soros) but that he's terribly worried about the potential damaging effects of climate change. He claimed that there would be "more vulnerability to tropical diseases like dengue fever and malaria in higher latitudes, rising sea levels and areas threatened by storm surges that have not been in the past." All of these are terrible consequences if true. But, the trouble is, the scientific evidence for these effects just isn't there." (Iain Murray, MRO)

"Blair urges Bush to tackle global warming" - "President Bush's closest ally in the war on terrorism, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, is sounding increasingly dire warnings that there is another equally important threat the world must tackle -- global warming.

Blair has long been among the most aggressive world leaders in insisting that dramatic action to reduce the greenhouse-gas emissions responsible for climate change cannot wait.

In recent months, Blair and other key British government leaders have intensified their calls for action, comparing the importance of global warming to terrorism and urging the Bush administration to take the issue more seriously." (Scripps Howard News Service)

"Straw urges U.S. to join global warming fight" - "WASHINGTON - Britain has urged the United States to join urgent efforts to combat global warming even though President George W. Bush has rejected cooperation under the U.N.'s Kyoto protocol." (Reuters)

"Japan says won't meet Kyoto targets reducing greenhouse gases without policy changes" - "Japan, a staunch advocate of the Kyoto protocol on global warming, may not meet its targets for cutting pollution unless it takes drastic action." (Associated Press)

"EU sees Russia ratifying Kyoto - environment mins" - "WATERFORD, Ireland, May 16 - The European Union sees Russia ratifying the Kyoto Protocol on global warming soon in connection with its efforts to enter the World Trade Organisation, EU environment ministers said at the weekend.

Though the ministers declined to draw a specific link between Russia's WTO entry and its support of Kyoto, they said the two issues were clearly important to Moscow.

"From their perspective, the whole WTO process and Kyoto obviously have a symmetry about them," Irish environment minister Martin Cullen told Reuters after an informal meeting of EU environment ministers in Ireland, current holder of the rotating six-month EU presidency." (Reuters)

"Russia dithers on Kyoto deal as Arctic melts" - "MOSCOW -- The Siberian permafrost is beginning to melt after three decades of steadily warmer winters, threatening to swallow up roads, buildings and pipelines, Russian experts say. But Russian President Vladimir Putin, who holds the power to make or break the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to combat global warming, has refused for years to make any decision about bringing Russia into the accord." (CP)

"Australia: Impasse on global warming deepens" - "Big business has effectively ruled itself out of the climate change debate after failing to agree on central strategies or facts, including whether global warming exists.

Coal and aluminium producers within the Business Council of Australia, which represents Australia's largest 100 companies, beat plans to back the Kyoto protocol on climate change last year.

There was heated debate about whether the protocol was the best way to combat global warming.

Under its president, Hugh Morgan, the council now appears to have abandoned the climate change debate altogether.

"You won't find a uniform view that global warning exists, Mr Morgan said. "I'm not sure the BCA will ever resolve it."

The Federal Government has opposed the protocol and recently quashed moves to institute an alternative carbon trading system that would have reduced greenhouse emissions by forcing producers, and consumers, to pay a price for them." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

"Corporates warm to climate change - Response to carbon survey increases threefold" - "Climate change is racing up the corporate agenda and has even touched ExxonMobil, according to an institutional investors' survey due out next week. Almost three times as many firms responded to this year's annual survey from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a group of institutional investors holding assets worth $10,000bn (£5,700bn), the same as the US gross domestic product." (The Guardian)

"Editorial: Romney's climate change" - "MASSACHUSETTS by itself is never going to counteract the country's production of the greenhouse gases that are causing global warming. Still, it is encouraging that Governor Romney has come up with a climate protection plan that, if pursued aggressively, would make the state a national leader in reducing emissions of the principal greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide. That's a big if. Romney says he is not sure greenhouse gases are causing climate change. And the plan would mobilize action a lot more if it still had a long-term deadline. An earlier draft set 2050 for its most ambitious goal: reducing carbon dioxide emissions to 75 to 85 percent below the 1990 level." (Boston Globe)

"Increasing Ozone over the Atlantic Ocean" - "Max Planck Scientists discovered that ozone smog is increasingly a global problem" (MPS)

"£1bn cost of green power" - "ENERGY giants Scottish Power and Scottish & Southern Electricity have approached the utility regulator with proposals to charge customers an extra £1 billion to help meet government targets for renewable energy." (The Scotsman)

Appeasement never works, Bill: "Ford responds to grassroots pressure and pledges to build greener cars" - "LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Ford Motor Co. Chairman and CEO Bill Ford Jr. — responding to criticism from environmentalists — told company shareholders Thursday that the automaker is committed to spending 50 percent of its research budget on technology designed to boost fuel economy and reduce harmful emissions." (Detroit News)

"China could become world power in wind energy, Greenpeace says" - "BEIJING - China could reap enormous benefits from wind power and has the chance of becoming a world leader in the coming "energy revolution," the environmental group Greenpeace said.

"China is on the verge of a major breakthrough," Steve Sawyer, director of Greenpeace's policy and business unit, said in a statement. "If it acts now, it could be the major player in the global energy revolution."

The Greenpeace comment came as China prepares to draft its first law on the promotion of renewable energy." (AFP)

"Water Wars loom in Africa" - "When water affairs ministers from countries along the Nile met recently to discuss the fate of the river, Boutros Boutros Ghali was not in the room with them.

But the lingering memory of his comment that future wars would be fought over water probably was." (AFP)

"Nobel Peace Laureate to Discuss Tools for Battling Hunger" - "Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday, May 18th, Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Norman Borlaug will address a Newsmaker Breakfast sponsored by the National Press Club on the efforts of he and his colleagues to fight famine in Africa and around the world with new agricultural methods. Dr. Borlaug will also address activist opposition to new technologies that could be the key to feeding billions more in the decades ahead." (CEI)

"Poor missing out on benefits of GM food - UN body" - "ROME, May 17 - The world's poor are missing out on big benefits from genetically modified (GM) food because the technology is concentrated on lucrative cash crops rather than staples, the U.N.'s food agency said on Monday.

"Biotechnology holds great promise for agriculture in developing countries, but so far only farmers in a few developing countries are reaping these benefits," the Food and Agriculture Organisation said in a report on world farming.

The world will have an extra two billion mouths to feed in 30 years' time, a challenge biotechnology could help face, the report said. But as yet, little progress has been made." (Reuters)

"Oil-rich GM plant may ease pressure on fish stocks" - "A genetically modified plant that produces all the healthy fats found in oily fish has been developed by British scientists. The weedy type of cress was changed to make it rich in polyunsaturated fats known as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The fats are believed to help reduce heart disease and, according to some scientists, improve brain function and mood." (The Guardian)

"Greenpeace Health Police" - "Greenpeace has been increasing its pressure tactics ahead of the European Commission's key meeting on genetically modified (GM) food set for 19 May. At this meeting, the Commission will decide whether to give the go-ahead for an application by a Swiss company to import GM corn. The European Union has had a virtual moratorium in place on GM food since 1998.

The decision could open the EU market to a wide range of GM products. But not if Greenpeace campaigners get their way. Greenpeace would like to prevent the importation of GM food and this week Its activists have set up blockades to impede the delivery of GM products at Italian ports." (Dominic Standish, TCS)

"Why Monsanto's Shredded Wheat?" - "There's dancing and singing in the streets of the Land of Biotech Bashers. Monsanto, the world's largest seed company, has announced it will delay commercialization of gene-spliced wheat.

"This is great news for the environment, for farmers and consumers," gushed Greenpeace spokesman Ben Ayliffe. It's "the end of genetically modified" food, Tony Juniper, director of the green group Friends of the Earth crowed to Reuters. "It is the final nail in the coffin."

All of which brings to mind Mark Twain's famous remark upon reading his own obituary that "Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated." (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

"Organic crops not at risk from GMO neighbours - study" - "BRUSSELS - Genetically modified (GMO) crops can grow beside other varieties with no significant risk to traditional and organic farmers, a new report said on Friday, criticising green groups for exaggerating their anti-GMO stance.

The issue of how to separate crop types is a huge issue in the European Union, which is set next Wednesday to grant its first approval since 1998 of a GMO food product, a sweet maize to be eaten straight from the can.

But getting approval for "live" GMOs to be planted in Europe's fields will be much trickier.

For this, EU member states first have to agree legislation on purity levels for seeds and set out national laws for the physical segregation of crops, an issue known as co-existence.

A study compiled by UK-based PG Economics said there was no risks for farmers growing biotech crops near non-biotech varieties and no economic risk from cross-contamination: one of the most controversial areas for the EU's 25 member states.

"GM crops can co-exist with conventional and organic crops in the EU without causing any economic or marketing problems," it said. "Claims by anti-GM groups that GM and non-GM crops cannot co-exist are exaggerated." (Reuters)

"GM corn crop to be approved" - "One variety of genetically-modified corn will be approved by the EU next week ending a six-year moratorium on new biotech crops that the United States has challenged at the World Trade Organisation.

European Commission spokesman Reijo Kemppinen said Swiss-based Syngenta company’s application to sell Bt11 sweet corn for human consumption would be approved at the commission’s meeting on Wednesday, after member governments repeatedly deadlocked on it.

The decision will be valid in all 25 EU countries for 10 years, he said.

The insect-resistant corn had been approved as animal feed and its derivatives, such as corn syrup, were approved for human consumption before the EU halted its approval process in 1998.

The new approval would allow companies to sell canned sweet corn from the Bt11 strain directly to consumers. Cultivation by farmers would still be forbidden." (Ireland Online)

"German Parliament Approves Gene-Food Law" - "The controversial law allows the growing of genetically-modified crops in Germany while at the same time imposing strict penalties for possible violations of food-safety regulations." (Deutsche Welle)

"New Zealand: GE lobbyists take watchdog to court" - "Genetic engineering campaigners say a King Country farm that has been sold for more than $3 million after being used for genetic engineering experiments should be monitored for the next 15 years.

Claire Bleakley, a Featherston farmer who has argued against carrying out GE experiments outside laboratories, said she expected to file a legal action this week over the farm at Whakamaru, 37km southwest of Tokoroa, and its proposed "sign-off" by regulatory agencies.

Mrs Bleakley has raised questions over the failure of the regulatory watchdog, the Environmental Risk Management Authority (Erma), to require monitoring of the property for survival and transmission of altered DNA from more than 3000 GE sheep slaughtered on the property, or for the transmission of other organisms, such as prions, which cause the disease scrapie." (NZPA)

May 14, 2004

"Monsanto Caves to Activists on Biotech Wheat" - "Is it better to feed the poor and make money, or appease Greenpeace and do neither?" (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Editorial: Shredded wheat" - "Monsanto has blinked. This is good news for the Canadian Wheat Board, but, in the circumstances, resist a celebration." (Globe and Mail)

"Seeds of doubt over the Monsanto decision" - "On Monday morning, Monsanto Corp. blinked. After more than three years of an increasingly tense debate over its genetically modified (GM) Roundup Ready (RR) wheat, the company announced that it has suspended all further research and commercialization efforts, in all countries, effective immediately. While it has not withdrawn its current applications with Canadian and U.S. regulators, the company states that they will not proceed in the foreseeable future." (Peter Phillips, Globe and Mail)

"Bayer to keep Australian GMO canola venture" - "SYDNEY: Chemicals giant Bayer AG said yesterday it has no plans to abandon its Australian breeding and testing operations of genetically modified canola. The news stands in contrast to that of competitor Monsanto Co which said it was giving up on its genetically modified (GMO) canola operations in Australia because of crop trial restrictions by state governments. "For the time being Bayer remains committed to (GMO) canola as a global crop," said Susie O'Neill, general manager of the science division in Bayer CropScience Australia." (Reuters)

"Some genetically modified foods have become hot potatoes" - "A decade ago, amid much fanfare, the Food and Drug Administration approved for supermarket sales the first of what promised to be a new generation of genetically modified crops: an ordinary-looking tomato called the Flavr Savr.

Now, 10 years after that May 18, 1994, decision, the Flavr Savr is nowhere to be found on market shelves. Neither are any of the other genetically modified strawberries, squash, lettuce and potatoes that won government approval after millions of dollars spent on research and development.

Kent Bradford, director of the seed biotechnology center at the University of California-Davis, said the commercialization of gene splicing for lucrative horticultural crops has come to a virtual stop in recent years - although there still is a thriving market for genetically engineered crops like soybeans, corn, canola and cotton." (Lance Gay, Scripps Howard News Service)

"EU set to lift five-year-old ban on GM foods: officials" - "BRUSSELS - The European Union is set next week to lift a five-year-old ban on bio-engineered food by approving the sale of a genetically modified corn, officials said. The EU's executive commission is likely to vote next Wednesday to approve the Swiss firm Syngenta's application to import BT-11 sweetcorn into the 25-nation bloc, sources said." (AFP)

"Canadian company hopes for approval for fast-growing salmon" - "ST. JOHN'S, Newfoundland -- A Newfoundland company is producing Atlantic salmon that will grow at a faster rate, but the genetically altered fish won't be landing on dinner plates until they go through a lengthy regulatory process." (AP)

"Ban on biotech crops planned for ballot" - "Activists today are launching a referendum for the November ballot that would bar cultivation of genetically altered crops in Marin County. "We really do feel like it's a huge thing for humanity - it even transcends Marin," said Mark Squire, co-owner of Good Earth Natural Foods in Fairfax. "It's the classic big corporation money versus the people - and we're going to boot 'em out." (Marin Independent Journal)

"Watchdogs focus on GM food in SA" - "The next two weeks will go a long way in determining the response the South African government will adopt with regard to genetically modified organisms (GMOs), with an appeal being heard on Tuesday and a court application later in the month." (iafrica.com)

"SADC approves guidelines on handling GMO's" - "Dar-Es-Salaam – The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) has approved guidelines on handling aid in terms of Genetically Modified Food (GMO’s) following recommendations by its advisory committee on Biotechnology and Biosafefy formed last year.

According to a brochure entitled Guidelines on Biotechnology and bio safety obtained by ZANA at the on going SADC Summit on Agriculture and Food Security, member Countries recommended that the sourcing of food aids should preferably come from the SADC region.

SADC further recommended that the region should develop and adopt a harmonised transit information and management system for Genetically Modified Aid designed to facilitate trans- boundary movement in safe and expeditious manner." (Zambia News Agency)

"GM maize can be solution to Zambia's hunger: UNICEF official" - "Genetically modified (GM) maize can be a solution to Zambia's hunger situation if farmers pledge not to plant it, said the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) goodwill ambassador in Lusaka on Sunday.

Briefing the press after a two-day tour of the country's orphans and underprivileged projects, Roger Moore, popularly known for his movie role as James Bond, said the hunger situation in Zambia needed a quick solution.

He expressed concern at the hunger disaster affecting millions of people in southern Africa." (Xinhua News)

"Set for Ban, DDT Lingers in Battle Against Malaria" - "OSLO - Few poisons have ridden such a rollercoaster through environmental history as DDT." (Reuters)

"Things That Go Buzz in the Night" - "After the sun slinks behind the horizon, bands of female anopheles mosquitoes rise from their fetid breeding grounds to wage war on the human species. An insatiable lust for blood ensures the continuation of their type, but their victims can face a consequence more ominous than a sting and an itch.

The four species of anopheles often enjoy an intimate relationship with critters far smaller but infinitely more fearsome: plasmodium, the species of bacterium responsible for malaria." (Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg))

"Bloodthirsty Bedbugs Stage Comeback in U.S., Europe" - "Sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite." This old saying may be becoming newly relevant. Bedbugs, which feast on human blood at night, are biting back in developed countries around the world. The current invasion of North America, Australia, and Western Europe is highlighted in a new study published by the Institute of Biology, London. But it's still unclear why the parasites are returning to cities where they were exterminated some 50 years ago." (National Geographic News)

"Researchers: Pollution Could Affect Unborn Children" - "WASHINGTON - Soot and other types of air pollution can not only affect animals and people, but their unborn children, too, researchers reported on Thursday.

They found that genetic mutations known to be caused by some pollutants can be passed through sperm to baby mice. Presumably, the same thing could happen to human beings, they report in Friday's issue of the journal Science." (Reuters)

"Atlanta air, asthma links murky at best" - "The picture of air pollution, asthma and other respiratory diseases has been imprinted as a clear image on the minds of Georgians, especially in metro Atlanta. High ozone days bring on warnings to people subject to asthma and other respiratory conditions to curtail their outdoor activities." (Harold Brown, The Citizen News)

"Experts worry about indoor air pollution in developing countries" - "TIANJIN, May 13 -- Statistics show that indoor air pollution has doubled over the past 15 years in surveyed cases in some developing countries and regions like China and India, according to a visiting Danish environment expert.

Each day about 5,000 people die of indoor air pollution, P. OleFanger, an expert from the Technical University of Denmark, said here Thursday at an ongoing international seminar on architecture and urban environment." (Xinhuanet)

"Flame Retardant Chemicals Found in Household Dust" - "OAKLAND, California, May 13, 2004 - U.S. researchers have found high levels of chemicals used as flame retardants in household dust within every home they sampled. The human health impacts of the chemicals, known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), are not well known but scientists have found they cause neurological damage in laboratory animals.

PBDEs are added to plastics, electronics, textiles, and construction materials as components of a common fire retardant.

In the first national tests for PBDEs in household dust, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found the average level from nine homes was more than 4,600 parts per billion (ppb), well above the average in any previous U.S. dust study." (Environment News Service)

"Chronic fatigue syndrome and Gulf War veterans - Genes may be linked to medically unexplained fatigue" - "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is nearly four times as common in veterans of the first Persian Gulf War as in nonveterans, according to a new study. The study, to be published May 14, 2004 in the online edition of Muscle & Nerve, examined the possibility that genetic factors may play a role in developing the disease. The full study will be available via Wiley InterScience at http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/jissue/89014836." (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.)

"Satellites see shadows of ancient glaciers" - "Great ice sheets covered Canada and the central and eastern parts of the United States 18,000 years ago. Today, long after the glaciers melted, an international research team led by Northwestern University geologists using the GPS satellites can "see" the land moving as the earth rebounds in response to the ice that once pushed the land down. They report that while sites in Canada are rising, U.S. sites south of the Great Lakes are sinking." (Northwestern University)

"Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide promotes algal growth" - "It is usually thought that unlike terrestrial plants, submerged plants like algae will not show any response to an increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide. This view may be biased by neglect of the effects of plants themselves on water chemistry. In Ecology Letters, June, Schippers, Lürling and Scheffer of the Wageningen University show that, if this effect is included, productivity may double due to a doubling of the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration." (Blackwell Publishing Ltd.)

"California Dreamin’" - " Time and again, researchers publish papers that use global climate model output at the regional scale to make august pronouncements about our future climate, despite scientists recently quoted by Nature as saying “privately” that regional climate models (even those applied to areas as large as the lower 48 states) are “oversold.” (The Greening Earth Society)

"Businesses update standards to measures greenhouse gas emissions" - "The WBCSD has issued new guidelines for industries to measure greenhouse gas emissions. The updated guidelines come as a complement to recent EU reporting and inventory rules." (EurActiv)

"NS Essay - Global warming: is it already too late?" - "A forthcoming film that shows New York drowning may be based on dodgy science. But as the world gets hotter, climate change really could run out of control and we would be powerless to stop it." (Mark Lynas, New Statesman)

"A hard rain's a-gonna fall" - "The Day After Tomorrow has Earth ravaged by a flood and an ice age. Environmentalist George Monbiot gives his verdict on the controversy it has stirred." (The Guardian)

"The 'Pay-Day After Tomorrow': Greens and others cash in" - "Gravy train following latest Hollywood blockbuster proves too enticing to refuse." (International Policy Network)

"An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario - Implications for US National Security" - "As part of the World Resources Institute's WRI Briefings 2004 series, Peter Schwartz will discuss the findings of his report, "An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario - Implications for US National Security" at WRI on Monday, May 17, 2004 from 12:15pm to 2pm. The report resulted in a "climate change scenario that although not the most likely, is plausible, and would challenge US national security in ways that should be considered immediately." (World Resources Institute)

"'Alternative power? 'Wind is a load of hot air'" - "MANY of us take filling up our car or turning on the light switch for granted in this modern day and age. Alex Wright spoke to ExxonMobil's senior economist and world energy expert, John Constable, about the future of global energy and the implications it has for us." (icSurreyOnline)

May 13, 2004

"Publish or perish" - "If you visit the Royal Society - even women are allowed in, contrary to what you may have been told - you'll see their motto proudly on display: "Nullius in verba" or on the word of no one. And what I like to imagine they're referring to, in my geeky way, is the importance of publishing proper scientific papers, if you want to be trusted. This obviously comes as a surprise to most journalists and alternative therapists, so I'll explain exactly why." (Ben Goldacre, The Guardian)

"Baghdad Boil to Return?" - "It's heating up in the Southern Iraqi desert and sand flies are returning. They bring with them "Baghdad Boil," a nasty disease, more properly known as cutaneous leishmaniasis. They go about their ghastly business of extracting a blood meal and laying its eggs in human skin. In the previous 12 months there have been over 650 cases of the disease. Poor planning, imprudent regulations and military incompetence mean the Boil will be worse this summer than it otherwise should. It is unfortunate that young men, fighting for their country and being shot at on a daily basis, are contracting a largely preventable disease." (Roger Bate, TCS)

"Take One Large Dose of Capitalism - The only long-term hope for a dreadful disease" - "Walk into an increasing number of quarantined hospital wards in England and the United States and see patients with hacking coughs, fevers, and the look of death. Propped up in beds, these unusual patients are taking drugs to help fight their infection — the age-old disease of tuberculosis. At least for the majority, they are responding to treatment, but some have multi-drug resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB). All patients have to stick with six months of treatment, but for the MDR-TB sufferers, the future is less certain." (Dr. Roger Bate, NRO)

"Corn syrup linked to diabetes - Epidemic reflects rise in refined sugars" - "The startling rise in diabetes is perfectly mirrored by our mounting consumption of refined carbohydrates, a new analysis reveals. The study adds to evidence that sugary foods should be eschewed and that public health advice to cut back on fat may have backfired." (NSU)

"Lawsuits Chipping Away At Food Choices " - "PETA front-man Neal Barnard deemed an expert witness in an obesity lawsuit? Litigation-happy John Banzhaf finding a single judge and jury who agrees with his argument that restaurants should be liable for their customers' weight gain? Think it's impossible? Think again. In March we told you about one of the top five ridiculous lawsuits of 2003 -- courtesy of the legal reform group Common Good -- where the Illinois Court of Appeals determined that parents could sue a Chinese restaurant for a hot tea burn, even though their child caused the burn by spinning a lazy Susan. Now Common Good has drawn our attention to a 9-year legal assault on Doritos, in which the chips were charged with being too darned hard." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

Rifkin & his desire to return the world to the stone age: "A precautionary tale" - "The EU plans new regulations for scientific risk-taking, based on the principle of sustainable development. US big business is furious." (Jeremy Rifkin, The Guardian)

"Co-op to ban group of perfume chemicals" - "The Co-op supermarket chain announced today that it has removed certain chemicals from a range of its household products. The chemicals have been linked to cancer, fertility problems and environmental damage, it said. The move came as the supermarket published details of an opinion poll, carried out by NOP, which found that six in 10 shoppers are ready to boycott goods which are ethically unsound. The chemicals being replaced by the Co-op - artificial musks and phthalates - are found mainly in the perfumes of products such as fabric conditioners." (The Guardian)

"Environmentalists Want Beetle Protected" - "PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- Environmentalists want emergency federal protection for the Casey's June beetle, one of the rarest insects in the world that lives on only 600 acres south of the city and is threatened by the desert building boom." (Associated Press)

"Whales, seals or men? Who stole all the fish?" - "Debates over whether fishers or whales and seals are depleting precious fish stocks have raged for years. Now, the first global study of the habits of marine mammals and fishing fleets has some surprising answers. Provisional results suggest that marine mammals and fishing fleets rarely prey heavily on the same fish stocks." (New Scientist)

"Model shows long-held constant in ocean nutrient ratio may vary as ecological conditions change" - "New research shows that what was once considered a universal constant in oceanography could actually vary in the future – depending on the ecological scenarios that affect competition for resources among microscopic marine plants, which play a role in global climate" (Georgia Institute of Technology Research News)

Varied opinions from the UK: "Disaster Movie Makes Waves" - "While the movie's producers acknowledge that details in the film are exaggerated, they emphasise that human activity could trigger a sudden ice age. "We pushed the time period in which an ice age could occur for dramatic purposes," says producer Mark Gordon, "but the theory that global warming could cause an abrupt climate shift is gaining mainstream attention."

The director and co-writer Roland Emmerich, who also made Independence Day, still wants his film to be taken seriously as a climate scenario. "My secret dream is that this film will move politicians to act," he told Spiegel Online earlier this month.

At a preview screening yesterday, the audience's reaction to the hammier sections of the film's dialogue did not augur well. Their derisive laughter may scupper Emmerich's ambitions for political leverage." (NSU) | Never mind the weather overkill: scientists praise Hollywood's global warning (The Guardian) | Can a film change the climate of opinion? (The Guardian) | Leader: Apocalypse wow (The Guardian) | Ice age movie is realistic, says Britain's chief scientist (Independent) | Chief scientist praises climate film (Daily Telegraph) | Climate film 'flawed but useful (BBC News Online)

Hmm... Britain's Left-leaning broadsheets seem to like 'Tomorrow' anyway. Bit of a worry if the Indy's banner is correct and Sir David King finds the impossible "realistic" though. Even the formerly-great and currently psychotic journal Nature wrote up the derisive laughter garnered by the latest Hollywood planet-trasher.

"Climate: Seasonal message from the Eemian" - "The climate of the last interglacial period was as warm or even warmer than today, but what the seasonal cycle was like at that time is not well known. Information on past climate from annually banded fossil corals from the Red Sea now shows colder winters and warmer summers than today for the Eemian interglacial period, some 125,000 years ago. Combining these data with climate model simulations gives a glimpse of the distribution of changes throughout Europe and the Mediterranean region; the emerging pattern resembles today's North Atlantic Oscillation/Arctic Oscillation, widely discussed in the context of global warming and the prospects of improvements to long-range weather forecasts." (Nature)

"Globe Grows Darker as Sunshine Diminishes 10% to 37%" - "In the second half of the 20th century, the world became, quite literally, a darker place.

Defying expectation and easy explanation, hundreds of instruments around the world recorded a drop in sunshine reaching the surface of Earth, as much as 10 percent from the late 1950's to the early 90's, or 2 percent to 3 percent a decade. In some regions like Asia, the United States and Europe, the drop was even steeper. In Hong Kong, sunlight decreased 37 percent." (New York Times)

"Global Warming's Latest Hot Topic Causes Yet More Nasty Arguments" - "Climate change research is a giant scientific sandbox. The subject is so complex, the data sources spread across so many disciplines, and the analytical tools so new and powerful that just about any scientist can stick in his shovel someplace and come up with a new -- and probably plausible -- result. There even remains -- in the United States, at least -- controversy over whether global temperatures are rising and, if so, how much." (Dan Whipple, UPI)

"Urban Flash Floods 'Could Be Big Climate Change Hazard'" - "Flash floods which “overwhelm” drains dating from the Victorian era in built up areas are one of the biggest hazards of climate change, MPs were warned today.

An inquiry by the all party Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee was considering a report into how the risks of flooding and coastal erosion could change in the UK over the next 100 years.

The report – the Foresight Flood and Coastal Defence Project – also explored the best options for government and the private sector for responding to the challenges." (PA News)

"Inuit "poisoned from afar" due to climate change" - "TORONTO, May 12 - The Inuit living in the Arctic region are being "poisoned from afar" as climate change takes its toll on the area and threatens their existence, the head of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"Carbon tax part of 'carrot-and-stick' policy - Ahern" - "The proposed carbon tax is just one element of a wider "carrot and stick" approach to encouraging more efficient energy use, the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources has said." (ireland.com)

"Let's make a deal, with CO2" - "FRANKFURT It's not quite "green" travel, but individuals and corporate executives who feel that their trips may be contributing to global warming can purchase carbon dioxide-emissions offsets from a number of environmental organizations. The groups help travelers compensate for the CO2they create on business and leisure trips." (IHT)

"Oil supply 'cannot match demand'" - "The perception that oil supply cannot keep up with demand has fuelled another jump in prices around the world." (BBC News Online)

"The Fuel-Cell Future" - "It's great when spokespeople for giant corporations point out basic environmental truths. In calling for patience in the efforts to build the hydrogen energy economy, Scott Foster, a General Motors spokesperson on advanced technology vehicles, points out that the 70 million cars on American roads could double to 140 million by 2025. These cars would also double the number of miles traveled. So if we're dependent on hybrid technology as our green savior, we'd need every hybrid to be 62 percent more efficient than the best hybrid today just to stay where we are now with fuel economy. Scary, isn't it?" (Jim Motavalli, E/The Environmental Magazine)

Note to Ford: appeasement never works: "New Ads Depict Ford As “America’s Oil Addict”" - "San Francisco – Global Exchange and Rainforest Action Network today revealed plans to intensify “Jumpstart Ford,” the national grassroots campaign to compel Ford Motor Company to improve its fleet-wide fuel efficiency to 50 MPG by 2010 and eliminate tailpipe emissions by 2020. According the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Ford fleet ranks the worst in average fuel efficiency of all major U.S. automakers for model-year 2004. To confront Ford about its out-dated fleet of gas-guzzlers, activists will hold a “Day of Intervention” at the company’s annual shareholder meeting." (Press Release)

"Plants purify poisoned water" - "Water contaminated with arsenic can be cleaned by growing ferns in it, US scientists say.

Mark Elless of the Edenspace Systems Corporation in Dulles, Virginia, and his colleagues have found that a species of fern called Pteris vittata will suck arsenic out of tainted water. The plants reduce the concentration to below the safety limit set by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in less than a day.

The procedure, called phytofiltration, could provide a cheap way to remove arsenic from water supplies. The ferns would be grown directly in the water, similar to the reed-bed systems currently used to remove organic waste." (NSU)

"Branching Out" - "Technology is proving to be a goose that lays golden eggs for Africa. Trends being adopted in Africa are catalyzing the continent's social, economic and political development. What remains to be seen is how soon and fast Africans can adapt to these technologies so that they can benefit from them." (Stephen Mbogo, TCS)

"Buying Into Gene-Altered Foods" - "Mark up a big victory for agro-Luddites: The biotech giant Monsanto said this week it had shelved plans to sell the world's first genetically modified (GM) wheat." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Radicals For Hunger" - "Environment: Special interest groups believe the battle against genetically modified foods has turned in their favor. Mark it as a loss for reason and responsibility." (Investor's Business Daily)

"GMO question to be answered" - "The European Commission will get the last word in a long-running debate on authorising a new genetically modified crop for sale in the EU next Wednesday. And the head of the commission’s environment department implied that the biotech corn BT-11 has now won over even the traditionally cautious environment chief Margot Wallström." (EUpolitix)

"GM wheat 'delayed, not abandoned'" - "Both sides in the bitterly contested debate over genetically modified crops are making the utmost of Monsanto's decision to stop marketing GM wheat." (Alex Kirby, BBC News Online)

"Minnesota wheat farmers disappointed by Monsanto biotech decision" - "Minnesotans in the agriculture industry had mixed reactions to the news that Monsanto is shelving plans for genetically modified wheat that would have been grown mostly in the Upper Midwest. Dave Torgerson, president of the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers, said most of Minnesota's wheat farmers were disappointed by the decision, which was announced Monday." (Associated Press)

"Monsanto Abandons Transgenic Australian Canola" - "CANBERRA, Australia, May 12, 2004 - Two days after announcing a moratorium on its genetically engineered wheat, biotechnology company Monsanto has indicated that it will close its program to introduce genetically modified canola to Australia, according to the Grains Council of Australia.

Grains Council President Keith Perrett says moratoriums on commercial biotech crops in most states are at the root of Monsanto's decision to pull out of genetically modified canola. The canola plant, also known as rape, is valuable for its oily seeds." (Environment News Service)

"Dairy farms urged to cut out GM feed" - "The British dairy industry, which imports hundreds of thousands of tonnes of GM soya and maize for cattle feed every year, could go completely GM-free for less than 1p extra per litre of milk, according to a study by Greenpeace.

Switching to GM-free animal feed would not only be politically and socially popular says the report but would reduce dependency on imports and stimulate better farming. But any extra costs should be borne by the major supermarkets almost all of whose own-brand milk comes from cows fed on GM feed imported from the US and Argentina, it says.

The report, produced with the rural campaign group Farm, urges farmers to give their cows non-GM soya and other imported feed and, in time, to move to growing lupins and other high protein crops for home-grown food." (The Guardian)

May 12, 2004

"The WHO must drop old-style politics and get back to saving children's lives" - "Next week the World Health Assembly begins in Geneva. The annual meeting of the World Health Organisation is sure to be a splendid affair, with much self-congratulatory speechmaking, but underneath the WHO is getting increasingly politicised and is failing to combat the diseases of poverty, preferring to look at fashionable western problems, notably obesity and smoking." (Roger Bate, Daily Telegraph)

"What's Wrong With Choice?; CSPI Attacks Variety in School Vending Machines; Mischaracterizes Amount Students Drink From Machines" - "WASHINGTON, May 11 -- The new survey on school vending machine content issued by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) grossly mischaracterizes student beverage consumption and ignores important student nutrition data that conflict with it.

The survey erroneously contends that 75 percent of the beverages offered in middle and high school vending machines constitute "less healthful options." CSPI considers whole and two-percent milk, sports drinks, juice drinks, lemonade, iced tea, and soft drinks to be "nutritionally poor options." (PRNewswire)

New Blog: "The Commons" - "Named in honor of the concept of The Tragedy of The Commons, this blog is dedicated to showing how environmental quality is best defended by free markets and property rights. The authors are all experts in free market environmentalism and bring many different areas of expertise to this common space.

If comments are invited, please remember you are a guest on private property. We shall defend the environmental quality of this blog as staunchly as we would defend any stream, forest or animal we own."

"Chernobyl's legacy: 20 years after the power station exploded, new cases of thyroid cancer are still rising, say experts" - "Cases of thyroid cancer in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus are climbing steadily nearly 20 years after the Chernobyl disaster, according to new figures published by the Red Cross. It estimates the annual number of thyroid cancers caused by radioactive iodine released during the explosion at the nuclear power plant in April, 1986, will peak in 2 years' time. Past reports by the UN and other agencies have cast doubt on the connection between the disaster and high rates of cancer in inhabitants of the contaminated zone around Chernobyl. But doctors working for mobile diagnostic laboratories (MDLs), run by the International Federation of Red Cross and Crescent Societies, say there is a causal link between the two." (The Lancet)

"Socialist Capitalists" - "It's not easy to explain the anti-globalization movement's attraction or its successes. Much of the writing on the movement's growth, ideology, and influence veers into impenetrable thickets of post-modern theory (e.g., Naomi Klein's indigestible No Logo), so non-stoned readers often find it tough sledding, and give up. But that may be an altogether unfortunate response." (Neil Hrab, American Spectator)

"Jennifer Marohasy: Howard goes with flow on Murray" - "LAST month, Prime Minister John Howard reaffirmed his Government's commitment to saving the Murray River, despite having dismissed the findings of a report that says the scientific evidence does not support claims that the river is dying.

The interim report by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry -- which included seven Coalition and three Labor members, with one Labor member dissenting - was issued after the evidence had been carefully assessed, yet it was subsequently strongly condemned by many politicians, scientists and environmental activists.

I looked for the evidence to support the claims of declining water quality, declining native fish stock and dying red gums. Instead, like the committee, I discovered junk science supporting predetermined agendas." (The Australian)

"Gore promoting climate change discussion from 'The Day After Tomorrow'" - "WASHINGTON -- Former Vice President Al Gore says people should see the upcoming movie "The Day After Tomorrow," in which global warming suddenly creates a new ice age that freezes entire cities." (The Associated Press)

"'Day' talk heats up" - "HOLLYWOOD -- In the brewing political tussle over Fox's global-warming disaster pic "The Day After Tomorrow," Al Gore used the pic Tuesday to blast President Bush.

"The Bush administration is in some ways more even more fictional than the movie in trying to convince people that there is no real problem, no degree of certainty from scientists about the issue," the former vice president said in a conference call organized by MoveOn.org.

Gore is headlining a campaign put on by a group of environmental and liberal orgs that are trying to use "The Day After Tomorrow," which 20th Century Fox will release May 28, to rally public support for combating global warming." (Variety)

"If the land gets sick and dies, so will the people" - "The Climate Group, a new body bringing together big business and government, meets in Toronto to find ways to save the environment." (The Guardian)

"Two water testing methods could prove useful in predicting effects of global climate change" - "Ohio State University geologists and their colleagues have used two water-testing methods together for the first time to help a Gulf Coast tourist community manage its water supply. The two methods could prove useful for gauging how rising sea levels -- one of the possible effects of global climate change -- might cause salt water to infiltrate drinking water along coastal areas in the future." (Ohio State University)

"Get used to wild weather, experts say" - "Canadians should brace themselves for weather that will become more violent and extreme, according to an unreleased report produced for Environment Canada.

The draft report of the Canadian Climate Impacts and Scenarios Project, a working group of climate experts funded by the federal government, says to expect everything from spiking temperatures that may usher in periods of drought and increase the frequency of massive forest fires in Western Canada, to unpredictable bouts of heavy precipitation that will heighten the risk of flooding in areas of Quebec.

Sifting through reams of data from computer simulations by Environment Canada and others, the authors predict that, by 2050, temperatures across Canada will regularly hit record-breaking extreme highs and lows.

And they say that Kyoto protocol targets the federal government has committed to for reducing greenhouse gas emissions will do little, if anything, to diminish the future harmful effects of global warming in Canada." (CanWest News Service)

"Three Views on Global Warming" - "Research, and Life Experiences, Put Scientists at Odds" (NPR)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:
Guest Editorial:

"Biased Towards Extinction" - "David R.B. Stockwell of the University of California's San Diego Supercomputer Center describes some serious shortcomings of a study published earlier this year in Nature, which suggests that CO 2 -induced global warming is rapidly pushing much of earth's plant and animal life towards the brink of extinction." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Roman Warm Period (Europe)" - "How does the warmth of today's Europe compare with the warmth of the Europe of two thousand years ago, when the atmosphere's CO 2 concentration was 100 ppm less than it is currently?" (co2science.org)

"Nutrients x CO 2 Effects on Plants (Nitrogen - Trees: Pine)" - "How does the degree of soil nitrogen availability impact the aerial fertilization effect of atmospheric CO 2 enrichment on the growth of pine trees?" (co2science.org)

Plant Growth Data:
"This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Black Poplar, Cordgrass and Seaside Alkaligrass." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"Large-Scale Treeline Advances in the Circumpolar Northern Hemisphere" - "They appear to be a response to 20th-century global warming, particularly that of the last half-century; but they reveal that the Modern Warm Period has yet to achieve the level of warmth characteristic of the Medieval Warm Period." (co2science.org)

"Riverine Transport of Dissolved Organic Carbon to the Arctic Ocean" - "What does it tell us about the climate-alarmist claim that the Arctic, acting as a climate-change canary in a planetary coal mine, will be the first and foremost place on earth to experience unprecedented CO 2 -induced global warming, which, as they also claim, is already occurring?" (co2science.org)

"The Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age in New Zealand" - "Did they really exist?  And were they as extreme as what occurred contemporaneously in regions bordering the North Atlantic Ocean?" (co2science.org)

"Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi: Their Responses to Long-Term Atmospheric CO 2 Enrichment" - "Are fungal symbionts benefited by higher levels of atmospheric CO 2 ?  And if they are, what are the consequences for the plants that host them on their roots?" (co2science.org)

"Response of a Tropical Legume Tree to Elevated CO 2 " - "A group of scientists from Brazil investigate the effects of atmospheric CO 2 enrichment on one of the most important trees of the tropical forests of the Americans." (co2science.org)

Major Report:
"The Specter of Species Extinction: Will Global Warming Decimate Earth's Biosphere?" - "Climate alarmists say yes.  We suggest just the opposite..." (co2science.org)

"Australia: Climate change targeted" - "The government has allocated $248.3 million during the next three years to fund a climate change strategy, including more than $20 million to help influence the international community, budget papers have revealed. Under government plans the $248.3 million will be used to reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions. The funding is in addition to the $215.2 million that will be used by the Australian Greenhouse Office to maintain existing programs over the next four years. "The strategy is designed to ensure that Australia remains on track to meet the 108 per cent Kyoto emission target in the period 2008-2012," according to the papers." (The Age)

"Green gurus row over wind farms" - "TWO prominent international environmentalists are butting heads over whether wind farms should be set up across Australia. Renowned British botanist David Bellamy has become a strident anti-wind farm activist, denouncing them as pointless, expensive, ugly and dangerous to birds. Bellamy says wind farms will not lead to the closure of power stations and we should focus on properly insulating houses to conserve energy. He has called the advocates of wind generated power liars and in an Australian newspaper recently described wind farms as "weapons of mass destruction". Now Canadian geneticist, broadcaster and environmental guru David Suzuki has attacked Bellamy's stance, saying it makes no sense." (AAP)

"EU's pollution rules a choker for UK" - "THE Government has launched an independent investigation into anti-pollution programmes amid concerns British businesses will be hurt by lax standards elsewhere in Europe. Environmental consultant Ecofys has been called in by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to pick apart EUuropean Union members' plans for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from industrial plants. The Government wants to use its findings to make Brussels take tougher action against those not doing their fair share. Transgressors are thought to include Germany, Italy, Austria and Denmark." (Evening Standard)

"No 10 'has failed' over green energy" - "The Government has failed to do enough to harness biomass energy - generated from wood, specially-grown crops, straw, chicken litter and park tree cuttings - the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution said yesterday.

In the battle against global warming, environmentalists have pressed for greater use of biomass because it differs from other renewable energy sources in two respects: it is controllable and can provide heat as well as electricity." (Daily Telegraph) | Power new homes with sticks and straw, says commission (The Guardian)

"Green revolutionary blasts opponents of biotechnology" - "In an era of war and global terrorism, Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug sees agriculture as an instrument of peace.

Though he's revered as a peacemaker, this pugnacious 90-year-old is quick to wrestle with procrastinating bureaucrats in third-world countries, and he's worked tirelessly to convince kings and presidents of the value of his agricultural advancements.

These days, Borlaug is speaking out against those who fervently oppose biotechnology, referring to them as "extremist greenies" who have never seen the misery and hopelessness that he's seen up close." (Star Tribune)

"Dig more coal, the hybrids are coming" - "Plug-in hybrid cold displace 200M barrels of foreign oil" (Peter Huber and Mark P. Mills, Forbes)

"Farming is not like any old business" - "The dogma of profit led to GM crops; it could spell global disaster" (Colin Tudge, The Guardian)

"Environmentalists Rejoice at Monsanto GM Decision" - "LONDON - Environmentalists claimed a victory and the death knell for genetically modified crops on Tuesday as U.S. chemical giant Monsanto declared it was giving up on the GM wheat it had hoped would smash consumer resistance.

"This is the end of GM. It is the final nail in the coffin. I am sure the companies will come back with more proposals in the future but basically the damage is done," Tony Juniper, director of green lobby group Friends of the Earth said." (Reuters)

"Is this the end for GM food?" - "Monsanto's abandonment of GM wheat isn't necessarily the victory some campaigners might see it as, writes Sue Mayer." (The Guardian)

"Syngenta says no plans to halt GM wheat programme" - "ZURICH, May 11 - will continue with plans to develop genetically modified wheat, the agrochemicals maker said on Tuesday, despite a decision by rival Monsanto to suspend its own programme after protests." (Reuters)

"Biotech foods keep coming despite Monsanto setback" - "KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Move over Roundup Ready wheat. Here comes the biotech banana.

While opponents of genetically modified, or GMO, crops and foods around the world celebrated Monsanto Co.'s decision on Monday to shelve its launch of the world's first GMO wheat, food industry analysts note that other biotech food crops continue to edge closer to commercialization.

Next in line is Syngenta AG, a Basel, Switzerland-based seed and biotech crop-engineering company that rivals Monsanto. The company has its own GMO wheat variety slated for release as early as 2007. It also has a genetically modified banana it plans to launch in 2006.

Syngenta says it is undeterred because its biotech projects have more of a consumer and food company appeal. Monsanto's wheat is dubbed Roundup Ready because it would allow farmers to spray Roundup weedkiller on fields without hurting the crop, but it would offer no benefit to the consumer." (Reuters)

"EU set to approve GMO maize, battle looms on seeds" - "KILLARNEY, Ireland, May 11 - The European Union, poised to lift its five-year ban on gene-spliced foods, will now open the next battle in its biotech saga and try to agree purity levels in seeds, the European Commission said on Tuesday. Rules for how much GMO material may occur in non-modified seeds before they must be labelled has been a thorn in the side of EU governments, and the Commission, for months if not years. It will be the last major piece of biotech legislation to put in place before the bloc can discuss authorising new applications for GMOs where the requested use is cultivation." (Reuters)

May 11, 2004

"Roll Back Malaria: a failing global health campaign" - "Only increased donor support for malaria control can save it." (BMJ editorial)

"Disease, starvation stalk southern Africa" - "Malnutrition, disease and starvation are stalking more than 16 million people in southern Africa. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, already have died, and if the world doesn't respond quickly enough, the World Health Organization says, 300,000 people could perish from hunger-related illnesses before March's harvest of corn, the region's staple food." (Knight Ridder Newspapers)

"Million Mom Dud" - "Here's more evidence that a million ain't what it used to be. On Sunday the Million Mom March ended up attracting between 2,000 and 3,000 women to the West Lawn of the Capitol. Though organizers tried to put a brave face on the paltry turnout, it was quite a comedown from Mother's Day four years ago, when the same event attracted hundreds of thousands and was cheered on from the Clinton White House.

The ostensible purpose of this year's march was to kick off a campaign to secure bipartisan Congressional support for the extension of the federal ban on assault rifles, which expires in September. But who are we kidding? This was a rally that featured speakers such as Al Sharpton and the Reverend Jesse Jackson. The real agenda here was illustrated by the mannequin of George W. Bush that, as the Washington Post reported, "people were invited to pummel." So what if Mr. Bush supports an extension of the ban and has said he'll sign an extension if it reaches his desk.

The founder of the Million Mom March is Donna Dees-Thomases. Back when she first dreamed up the event, she liked to pass herself off as an ordinary New Jersey housewife appalled by the gun violence she saw on TV. Later it emerged that Ms. Dees-Thomases just happened to be the sister-in-law of longtime Friend of Hillary Clinton, Susan Thomases.

It tells you something about where this issue is heading politically that now-Senator Clinton didn't bother showing up this year. We can appreciate that she must have had better things to do on Mother's Day." (The Wall Street Journal)

"Food displays, food colors affect how much people eat" - "Variety may be the spice of life -- and a key contributor to an expanding waistline, says a University of Illinois researcher who challenges the conventional notion that a person's ability to control eating and stick to a successful diet has solely to do with willpower." (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

"A super-size portion of half truths" - "My anti-McDonald's credibility is very high. I have a satirical "McDeath" logo, sent to me by litigants in the famous British "McLibel" lawsuit, hanging on my office wall. In January 2003, I put together a package of stories headlined "Burgergeddon," which speculated about the "twilight of the fast food hamburger." (Alex Beam, Boston Globe)

"Discoveries Show How Obesity Kills" - "Research into the biology of fat is turning up some surprising new insights about how obesity kills. The weight of the evidence: It's the toxic mischief of the flesh itself.

Experts have realized for decades that large people die young, and the explanation long seemed obvious. Carrying around all those extra pounds must put a deadly strain on the heart and other organs.

Obvious but wrong, it turns out." (AP)

"Fatness vs. fitness" - "CU professor says cultural hysteria fuels war on obesity." (The Daily Camera )

"Air-fresheners cause a stink" - "A potentially harmful smog can form inside homes through reactions between air-fresheners and ozone, say researchers at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The reactions generate formaldehyde, classed as a probable carcinogen, and related compounds that many experts believe are responsible for respiratory problems." (NSU)

Yawn... "Many U.S. Residents Carry Toxic Pesticides Above 'Safe' Levels" - "SAN FRANCISCO—Many U.S. residents carry toxic pesticides in their bodies above government assessed "acceptable" levels, according to a report released today by Pesticide Action Network North America (PAN). Chemical Trespass: Pesticides in Our Bodies and Corporate Accountability, makes public for the first time an analysis of pesticide-related data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a study of levels of chemicals in 9,282 people nationwide. The report reveals that government and industry have failed to safeguard public health from pesticide exposures." (Press Release)

"Godwin's Law Meets Environmentalism" - "Back in 1990, Mike Godwin, then legal counsel for the advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, noted that online discussions on the various USENET fora suffered from a problem. After a while, many discussions would involve someone posting a comparison to the Nazis or to Adolf Hitler. He decided to do something about it." (Iain Murray, TCS)

"The world is getting wetter as it warms" - "A meeting of almost 100 greenhouse research scientists from throughout Australia has concluded that - contrary to popular perceptions and despite lower rainfall in many regions - the world is on average getting wetter as it gets warmer through climate change.

In a Communiqué issued from the Annual Science Meeting of the Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Accounting, the scientists said that the global water cycle has changed in response to greenhouse emissions. "Rainfall, on average, is increasing (though decreasing in some regions in Australia and elsewhere)," they said in their Communiqué.

"The CRC for Greenhouse Accounting's scientists have confirmed that, contrary to widespread expectations, potential evaporation from the soil and land-based water bodies like lakes is decreasing in most places." (Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Accounting) | Earth gets wetter to fight global warming (The Australian)

"Curbing global warming" - "This year Beijingers had to shed their warm winter woollies and switch to skirts and short-sleeved T-shirts in early April. Statistics show Beijing's average temperature from April 7 to April 16 was 18.8 C, 5.2 degrees higher than the figure for the same period last year and the highest since 1951. Although meteorologists have given reasonable explanations for the occurrence of such high temperatures, climatic change is becoming more and more a matter of public concern." (China Daily)

"Indian Ocean Could Lose Coral Islands in 50 Years" - "VICTORIA, Seychelles - The Indian Ocean could lose most of its coral islands in the next 50 years if sea temperatures continue to rise and reefs badly damaged by global warming do not recover, a marine scientist said Monday." (Reuters)

"Time for the climate doomsters to face reality" - "WHEN disaster strikes or a threat looms, our natural human response is to take drastic action. Instead of examining our options we embrace the first reasonable-sounding idea and rush to implement it. If somebody asks us to stop and consider another way, we are exasperated. “This isn’t the time for consultation or lengthy decision-making”, we reply. “We’ve got to do something.” (Bjorn Lomborg, The Times)

"U.S. Says Misunderstood on Climate Change Policy" - "BRUSSELS - The United States is committed to fighting global warming even if it has rejected the Kyoto treaty, the U.S. climate change negotiator said Monday.

President Bush's decision in 2001 to reject the Kyoto pact on cutting carbon dioxide emissions, believed to cause global warming, prompted fierce criticism around the world and hurt international relations on environmental issues. "We use every opportunity that we can in many fora around the world to get our message out...We feel that people don't hear all that we are doing," senior climate change negotiator Harlan Watson told reporters ahead of a conference.

"We need to get our message out better," Watson added." (Reuters)

"US struggles with climate change" - "Washington is stepping up a diplomatic offensive to challenge its tarnished international track record on tackling climate change.

The USA is pushing through emissions reductions measures equivalent to taking 70 million cars off the roads over the next ten years, a senior Washington official told journalists in Brussels on Monday.

But while the plans may sound radical, in reality the reduction would make little difference to the Kyoto targets on climate change that aim to reduce emissions by four per cent on 1990 levels by 2012." (EUpolitix)

"Tokyo gov't to give businesses a break over CO2 emissions" - "The Tokyo Metropolitan Government will give up forcing companies to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions because of strong opposition from business circles, sources said Monday.

The move is a major turnaround after the national government ratified the Kyoto Protocol in June 2002 and began asking companies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions." (Mainichi Daily News)

"A green certificate market may result in less green electricity" - "A worst-case scenario is that a green certificate market could have the opposite effect of what was intended and actually result in a reduced production of green electricity, points out economist Eirik Schrøder Amundsen." (Cicerone)

"Go-ahead for wind farms 'will bring sea collision'" - "A COLLISION between a ship and an offshore wind farm is inevitable because turbines are being built close to busy shipping lanes, a cross-party committee of MPs said yesterday. The group claimed that the Government had failed to heed warnings from the shipping industry when deciding on the location of future wind farms. The MPs also said that ministers had ignored repeated warnings about the hazards in their rush to increase the amount of energy generated by renewable sources. The report by the Commons Transport Select Committee concluded that the Government had “woefully mishandled the development of offshore wind energy”.  It said that the way the policy had been drawn up had “shown departmental government at its worst.” (The Times)

Letters of the moment: "GM deserves our support" (The Guardian)

"Domesticated tree crops may be the 'future of forestry'" - "The trees of the future may stem from advances in gene discovery research at Purdue University that could lead to domesticated trees, the forestry equivalent of crop plants like corn and soybeans." (Purdue University)

"Tests show biotech corn rules need revision" - "Corn pollen carrying the Bt gene can move 100 feet into non-Bt corn fields. Guidelines to delay the evolution of Bt resistance in insects will need to be revised, UA researcher says." (University of Arizona)

"Corn cuts the carbs - Low-sugar, high-protein maize may help the malnourished" - "A genetically engineered breed of corn with half the usual amount of carbohydrates but double the fat and protein has been created by researchers in California.

If the prototype corn can be grown commercially it could find a market among the crowd following low-carbohydrate diets, for whom standard sweetcorn is not allowed.

But creator Daniel Gallie’s main hope is that the new corn breed will supplement protein-deficient diets in Africa and South America. It might also prove a boon to farmers who want high-energy corn for their pigs and chickens." (NSU)

"Call for 'second-generation' GM crops" - "THERE is a desperate need for the creation of "second-generation" bio-technology products to demonstrate real consumer advantages, says a government farm policy adviser." (The Scotsman)

"Monsanto Suspends Biotech Wheat Program" - "KANSAS CITY, Mo - Biotech crop pioneer Monsanto Co. on Monday suspended plans to introduce what would be the world's first biotech wheat, bowing to a storm of protest from around the world over the company's scientific tinkering with a key food crop.

Monsanto said it had reached the decision after "extensive consultation" with customers in the wheat industry and would continue to monitor the desire for crop improvements to determine "if and when" it might be practical to move forward." (Reuters)

"Canada Wheat Board Cheers Monsanto GMO Decision" - "WINNIPEG, Manitoba - Canada's wheat exporter lauded Monsanto Co.'s decision on Monday to shelve its genetically modified wheat -- a crop the Canadian Wheat Board said would hurt its markets.

"I think Monsanto has made the absolutely best decision at this time given the information available to them," said Patty Rosher, senior program manager at the Canadian Wheat Board, one of the world's largest wheat exporters." (Reuters)

"France lays out plans for new GMO crop trials" - "PARIS, May 10 - France published plans for eight sets of new field trials of genetically modified crops (GMOs) on Monday and invited comments from the public ahead of a decision on whether to authorise the research at the end of the month." (Reuters)

"Greenpeace paralyzes Italian ports to protest genetically-modified soya" - "ROME - Activists from the environmental organization Greenpeace blockaded two Adriatic ports in a bid to stop imports of genetically modified soya into Italy, the organization said.

Seventy activists from six European countries blocked warehouses on the docks of Ravenna to keep GM soya from being loaded from the depots for transport around the country.

"Ravenna is the principal point of entry for genetically modified crops into Italy and we are hereby declaring Ravenna's port an anti-GM zone," said Greenpeace activist Federica Ferrario." (AFP)

"Chinese public wants labelling of GM food" - "Chinese consumers would like more information about whether the food they buy contains genetically modified (GM) ingredients, and more would prefer to buy non-GM food than GM food if given a choice.

These are the recently released results of an opinion poll of attitudes to GM food in China, commissioned by Greenpeace and carried out in February this year by Research International.

Eighty seven per cent of 600 people interviewed in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou agreed with the suggestion that GM products should be labelled. More than two-thirds said that they would lose confidence in a brand if its products were found to contain GM ingredients.

Forty per cent said they would have increased confidence in brands that committed themselves to a non-GM policy." (Hepeng Jia, SciDev.Net)

May 10, 2004

"No Mad Cow Cluster at NJ Racetrack, Officials Say" - "WASHINGTON - There is no evidence that people who ate at a New Jersey racetrack have become infected with a rare human version of "mad cow" disease, U.S. health officials said last week.

An investigation of a possible cluster of cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease related to the now-closed racetrack showed no one had been infected by tainted beef and there were no more cases of CJD than would have been expected naturally." (Reuters)

You don't say: No Mad Cow at New Jersey Racetrack

"FDA to Probe Cancer Potential of Furan" - "WASHINGTON - The Food and Drug Administration will investigate whether a chemical that can cause cancer at high doses in mice and rats can pose a risk to people at the very low levels in which it is found in many common foods." (Associated Press)

"U.S. Probing Safety of Chemical in Some Heated Foods" - "WASHINGTON - U.S. scientists are studying whether a chemical found in certain canned, jarred and other foods may cause cancer in people, officials said on Friday. The chemical, called furan, is produced at low levels in some foods when they are heated, the Food and Drug Administration said." (Reuters)

"Herbal Drug Widely Embraced in Treating Resistant Malaria" - "After years of hesitation, world health agencies are racing to acquire 100 million doses of a Chinese herbal drug that has proved strikingly effective against malaria, one of the leading killers of the poor. The drug, artemisinin (pronounced are-TEM-is-in-in), is a compound based on qinghaosu, or sweet wormwood. First isolated in 1965 by Chinese military researchers, it cut the death rate by 97 percent in a malaria epidemic in Vietnam in the early 1990's. It is rapidly replacing quinine derivatives and later drugs against which the disease has evolved into resistant strains. To protect artemisinin from the same fate, it will be given as part of multidrug cocktails." (New York Times)

"Sympathy for the Mosquito?" - "Save Our Mosquitoes," isn't a plea one expects to see these days with the mosquito-borne West Nile Virus killing hundreds and making thousands of people sick. But someone posted that very appeal on a sign in Chargin Falls, Ohio. These "poor bugs" were indeed at risk as the town was debating whether to spray pesticides that year. Residents decided to show their mercy; they gave the mosquitoes a stay of execution. No spraying in 2002." (Angela Logomasini, TCS)

"Air pollution kills thousands a year, says French agency" - "PARIS — Air pollution, much of it caused by cars, kills 5,000 to 6,000 people a year in France, a state agency said Thursday.

"Tobacco still kills more people than pollution, but that is no reason to abandon the efforts to decrease pollution," said Michele Froment-Vedrine, director of the Agency for Environmental Health Safety.

A report by the organization estimated the death toll also proposed corrective action, such as a tax on cars based how much they pollute, and better regulation of emission limits for cars, buses, and trucks." (Reuters)

"Obesity Becoming Major Global Problem" - "It's a bitter truth to swallow: About every fourth person on Earth is too fat. Obesity is fast becoming one of the world's leading reasons why people die. In an astonishing testament to globalization, this outbreak of girth is occurring just as doctors everywhere but sub-Saharan Africa are winning the fight against infectious diseases from smallpox to malaria.

Now a new enemy is emerging in the 21st century — our appetite. Around the globe, about 1.7 billion people should lose weight, according to the International Obesity Task Force. Of those who are overweight, about 312 million are obese — at least 30 pounds over their top recommended weight." (Associated Press)

"Who's to Blame for Global Obesity Woes?" - "It's all America's fault, right? In the global give and take, it seems only fair that the blame for bloating the world go to the nation that gave it rivers of Coke, mountains of Big Macs and an endless fitness-quashing entertainment feed from Hollywood. But not so fast.

America may have led the world down a path lined with fast food and soft drinks that has left 1.7 billion people battling the bulge, but experts say there's plenty of blame to go around." (Associated Press)

"Tipping the Scale" - "When I saw Morgan Spurlock at the Washington, D.C., International Film Festival last Sunday, the first thing I noticed was that he's thin again, having shed the 25 pounds he deliberately gained during the month-long McDonald's eating binge featured in his film Super Size Me. Spurlock's disappearing gut tends to undermine his argument that we cannot really control how much we weigh because sneaky corporations manipulate us into overeating." (Jacob Sullum, TCS)

"Children 'at risk of skin cancer'" - "Over a third of parents say their children have suffered sunburn, a survey reveals. The poll also reveals that 41% like to see their children with a tan. Cancer Research UK ,which commissioned the survey, said the findings showed many parents were failing to take skin cancer warnings seriously." (BBC News Online)

"Is 'global dimming' under way?" - "WASHINGTON — Scientists call it "global dimming," a little-known trend that may be making the world darker than it used to be. Thanks to thicker clouds and growing air pollution, much of Earth's surface is receiving about 15 percent less sunlight than it did 50 years ago, according to Michael Roderick, a climate researcher at Australian National University in Canberra." (Knight Ridder Newspapers)

It's darker now than it was in the era of "killer smog"? Right...

"Warming up: the debate over a movie that claims to be a vision of the future" - "The storyline begins with a chunk of ice the size of Scotland falling into the Antarctic sea. It continues, at breathtaking speed, with hailstones as big as grapefruit battering Tokyo, hurricanes pounding Hawaii, snowstorms in Delhi and tornadoes whipping through Los Angeles. New York and London are plunged into a new ice age.

Welcome to the latest Hollywood blockbuster, The Day After Tomorrow, which depicts climate change as a dramatic series of disasters sweeping across the world." (Independent)

"These Hollywood special effects may cost the world $15 trillion" - "In the final minutes of the Hollywood doomsday spectacular The Day After Tomorrow, which opens in Britain at the end of the month, the US president makes a ludicrously over-the-top State of the Nation speech. It is a great deal less realistic than the performance by the undoubted star of this $125 million blockbuster of a film: a 100 ft high tidal wave that engulfs New York.

Indeed, the film loses any credibility long before that. This is not because of any one of the far-fetched incidents that occur in the course of its 125 minutes. It isn't the flash freezing of a presidential motorcade, or even the escape of man-eating wolves from New York Zoo. No, this extremely enjoyable film has been let down by the simple fact that it has got its science all wrong. None of it could happen." (Sunday Telegraph)

"Blast-Frozen Nonsense" - "In 1993, CBS aired a miniseries of preposterous exaggeration about global warming, The Fire Next Time. A smart writer--okay, me--wrote of the show" (Gregg Easterbrook, TNR Online)

Confused hand-wringer du jour: "Thaw could spell doom for wildlife boom" - "The penguins are making a comeback on Heard Island. But it's not necessarily good news. The glaciers are retreating. Andrew Darby reports." (The Age)

"Summer heat will cause deadly ozone" - "Thousands of Britons may be forced to wear charcoal masks and stay indoors this summer to avoid deadly fogs of ozone that will pollute the country during heatwaves, scientists have warned.

They have discovered that last August's heatwave caused plants and trees to release waves of a chemical called isoprene, which contributes to the production of ozone in the air. Scientists now believe ozone killed up to 600 people last summer.

'Temperatures topped 100F (37.7C) last summer for the first time since UK records began, and similarly intense heatwaves will become increasingly frequent as global warming intensifies. Current projections suggest they could happen ten times more often,' said Professor Alan Thorpe, of the Centres of Atmospheric Science. 'Among all our other problems, we are going to deal with severe ozone pollution.'" (Robin McKie, The Observer)

"The Arid West" - "While there is some comfort in learning that periodic droughts are a part of natural climate change, the fact is this drought is occurring at a time when climate change is being driven by unnatural global warming. Drought may be normal, and yet there may be nothing historically normal about this drought." (New York Times editorial)

"Manitoba lauded for action on climate-change targets" - "WINNIPEG—Manitoba Premier Gary Doer, for long a lonely voice among Canadian political leaders on the need for action against global warming, feels the mainstream is beginning to move his way. The election of an Ontario Liberal government committed to measures to cut greenhouse gases is going to help, he said in an interview last week. "The cost of doing nothing is too great for Canada," said Doer, the keynote speaker at an international conference on climate change being held in Toronto this week. Government representatives from Britain, Australia and the United States are among those attending the conference sponsored by the Climate Group, a newly formed world-wide consortium launched two weeks ago by British Prime Minister Tony Blair." (Toronto Star)

"China, Canada kick off emissions project" - "Yinchuan, , May. 9 -- China and Canada launched their first cooperative clean development project Sunday in the Ningxia Hui Region in western China.

Xinhua, China's official news agency, reported the effort is the first by the two countries under provisions of the Kyoto Protocol. The 1997 international agreement allows developed countries to work off part of their greenhouse gas reduction commitment by assisting developing countries." (UPI)

"EC urged to hold back on anti-pollution push" - "The European Commission is facing calls from industry groups to delay the launch of its controversial carbon-emission trading scheme.

The initiative, which is aimed at cutting pollution, is set to begin on 1 January. But Jeremy Nicholson, director of the Energy Intensive Users Group which represents heavy industry in the UK, believes the EC runs the risk of setting up a "botched" scheme if it goes ahead with the timetable." (Independent on Sunday)

"Evolution of a hydrogen revolution - BP's hopes for a carbon-free future face big test in Essex" - "Tomorrow BP will try to kick-start a faltering hydrogen revolution in Britain when it makes a last-ditch attempt to win planning permission for the first refuelling station of its kind in Europe, at Hornchurch, Essex.

Despite government hopes that hydrogen and fuel cells could offer a carbon-free future after the oil runs out, local residents have stopped BP's plans, fearing a Hindenburg airship-style explosion." (The Guardian)

"Saving a million drops to feed a billion mouths" - "Enhancing water productivity will not only help the poor, who suffer the most during scarcity, it also makes economic sense in the global food market.

IT could not have come at a better (or worse) time. With the water scarcity looming large as ambient temperatures soar in most of the densely populated south, a recent report warns that if water productivity is not enhanced, the poor of the world will suffer the most.

Aptly titled Water: More Nutrition Per Drop, the report presented at the meeting of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development in New York warned that if present food production trends continue, the Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of undernourished people by year 2015 will remain a dream." (Sudhirendar Sharma, Hindu Businessline)

"Farmers hit out at GM seeds bungle" - "One thousand genetically engineered canola seeds were planted in western Victoria after being sent by mistake to the Department of Primary Industries by a Canadian seed producer, State Government documents show.

By the time the bungle was discovered, the seeds had sprouted to the three-leaf stage. They were immediately pulled from the ground by department staff and destroyed amid concerns that they might contaminate surrounding crops.

One of the families whose farm was used by the department was astonished when told it was growing genetically modified plants, which is banned in Victoria and most other states." (The Age)

"[UAE] GM food labelling law a must: ESCP" - "SHARJAH - The Emirates Society for Consumer Protection (ESCP) is urging the country's relevant authorities to amend the existing food labelling law to include a statute concerning genetically modified (GM) food labelling, according to an ESCP official.

"A wide selection of genetically modified crops are available in the UAE market such as potatoes, tomatoes, corn, rice and some other crops. People are buying them without knowing that scientists are still studying their effects on human health and have not yet proven whether or not they cause some harmful effects on health," Engineer Hassan Al Katheiri, Chairman of the ESCP, told Khaleej Times." (Khaleej Times)

"Greenpeace blocks alleged GM shipment in Italy" - "ROME, May 9 - Environmental activists from Greenpeace blocked a cargo ship carrying what the group says are genetically modified Argentine soybeans from entering the northern Italian port of Chioggia on Sunday.

A Greenpeace vessel blocked "Keoyang Majesty" as it was trying to enter the port just south of Venice, and four activists chained themselves to the ship carrying some 40,000 tons of soybeans, a spokeswoman for Greenpeace said.

"The soybeans, which are going to be used in animal feed, are genetically modified. We can't let them through," the spokeswoman said." (Reuters)

"[Brazil] Greenpeace blocks GM beans" - "A Greenpeace activist stopped a ship Monday that was carrying genetically modified soybeans into the southern port of Paranagua.

The Global Wind arrived Saturday from Argentina loaded 30,000 metric tons of genetically modified soybeans. It was to pick up 10,000 metric tons of non modified soybeans before sailing to Turkey.

A Greenpeace activist managed to stop the ship by tying himself to the anchor while it was still a few miles (kilometres) away from the port.

"Our idea is to prevent Brazilian non-GMO soybeans from being contaminated with the GMO beans," Mariana Paoli a Greenpeace spokeswoman said by phone. "We want to protect the commercial advantage Brazil has as the world's largest producer of non-GMO soybeans."

Despite a decision by Brazil's federal government to allow the farmers to plant and sell genetically modified soy this season, the state government in Parana - where the port is located - has banned its loading and unloading." (Associated Press) [Complete]

May 7, 2004

"Enviros Exploit Mother's Day With Mercury Scare" - "As many wish their mothers a "Happy Mother's Day" this week, environmental activists have a different message — "one in six moms needs to be worried about toxic mercury." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Health Experts Propose New Anti-Malaria Strategy" - "LONDON - Public health experts proposed on Friday a new strategy to halve malaria deaths by 2010 and said linking malaria with other disease control programs in Africa could save lives and money.

Instead of various programs focusing on a single illness, David Molyneux, of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in northern England, and Vinand Nantulya, of the Global Fund for AIDS (news - web sites), Tuberculosis and Malaria, said combining programs would be more efficient.

"We have to think radically and to act differently," Nantulya told a news conference." (Reuters)

"Faith-Based Activism on Patents?" - "The international debate over how best to combat deadly diseases in the developing world such as HIV/AIDS just got more interesting courtesy of new research that argues that "poverty, not patents" imposes a greater restriction on access to treatments and medicines." (Nick Schulz, TCS)

"Sediments in many Central Valley streams contain toxic levels of pyrethroid pesticides" - "Pyrethroid pesticides such as permethrin, sprayed around the home and increasingly on many crops, have been replacing the more restricted organophosphate pesticides, but are they more benign? A new study of stream sediments throughout California's Central Valley shows that many contain toxic levels of pyrethroids sufficient to kill indicator organisms such as amphipods and midge larvae." (University of California - Berkeley)

"All talk and no action on obesity" - "The government was accused of rhetoric and inaction yesterday over ways to help people adopt fitter lifestyles as ministers searched for more ideas on improving diet and exercise. Consultations on diet and exercise launched at an obesity summit in London invited industry, pressure groups and the general public to comment on "key goals", from reducing salt, fat and sugar in foods to encouraging employers to "engage and motivate staff" to be more active. Instead they drew hostile reactions from consumers demanding more regulation of food and its advertising, particularly to children, and from Tories who feel the government is still flirting with the nanny state." (The Guardian)

Groan... "Lawsuits may be tool for fighting U.S. obesity" - "WASHINGTON, May 6 - Lawsuits may be the only way to force U.S. foodmakers to produce healthier foods or curb ads that encourage over-eating, speakers at an obesity conference said on Thursday.

Two-thirds of adult Americans are overweight or obese. Poor diet and inactivity is now the No. 2 cause of preventable death, killing about 400,000 Americans each year, the government says. Fifteen percent of U.S. children are overweight.

Some speakers at an annual Consumer Federation of America conference on food and nutrition lamented that restaurant menus did not carry calorie counts and there were no restrictions on aiming advertisements for sugar-rich food at children or minimum-nutrition standards for children's food.

"Trial lawyers and (state) attorneys general can be extremely helpful," said Michael Jacobson, head of the consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest, by "filing innovative suits" that prompt foodmakers to produce healthier foods." (Reuters)

"Second Hand Joke" - "Smoking is a filthy habit. It causes bad breath. It stains the fingers and the teeth. It rots the lungs and it takes the breath away. Spend a day in any doctor's office and you can quickly spot the long time smokers, such is its impact on the body. And death by tobacco is a truly horrible death, with the final days spent gasping for breath and drowning in ones own secretions while the doctors look on helplessly.

And yet, as loathsome as smoking is, it's hard not to feel sorry for smokers. Every morning I pass small clusters of them in front of the hospital, just around the corner from the "No Smoking" sign, like high school hoodlums who smoke just a step away from school property. Some of them are hospital employees, puffing off job stress during their breaks. Others are patients, with nothing but flimsy hospital gowns and robes to protect them against the elements while they seek solace in tobacco. It seems cruel to make them smoke outside. The hospital has a special room for prayer. Couldn't they have a special room for smoking?

But then, the world has become a cruel place for smokers. Not only must they huddle outside at work to indulge, they increasingly must also huddle outside when they're enjoying a night on the town. Over a hundred cities in the U.S. have banned smoking in public places such as bars and nightclubs. Last month, Ireland banned smoking in pubs. Now Scotland is under pressure to do the same, and the EU is flirting with its own ban." (Sydney Smith, TCS)

About time, too: "UK go-ahead to more waste burning" - "The UK is likely soon to see a large and controversial expansion in the building of huge waste incinerators. Many people are opposed to the idea of waste incineration, because they think it is liable to damage their health. But the government says any impacts are likely to be slight, and Environment Minister Elliot Morley says there is no health reason for not building them." (Alex Kirby, BBC News Online)

Parenthetically, activist efforts to choke consumption by trying to make waste disposal difficult, if not impossible, didn't do much for the planet did they? What we ended up with are situations like this: Plastic fibre a 'major pollutant' - now incinerate it, you dopey beggars!

"The Greening of Higher Education" - "This May a conference in New York City titled Integrating Environmental Ethics into Environmental Studies: Ethics, Science, and Civic Responsibility will bring together faculty from higher education institutions to discuss how they can "incorporate an understanding of environmental ethics and values into their research and teaching". The conference sponsors -- the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs, the Center for Humans and Nature, and the Environmental Conservation Education Program at New York University -- suggest that current environmental science courses in colleges and universities that combine scientific knowledge with an awareness of geographic, cultural, political and economic realities, have neglected the ethical dimensions of environmental issues. One of the conference objectives will be to develop "ecological citizenship" as a component of environmental science. Ecological citizenship, they propose, extends the idea of public engagement to obligate students to take an active interest in environmental issues.

Another project, Second Nature (also supported by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching), seeks to extend environmental ethics across the whole higher education curriculum. It describes its mission thus: to make the principles of environmental sustainability central to the curriculum of the nation's colleges and universities. Sustainability (not compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs) may mean different things to different people, but in practice it frequently means putting environmental concerns above human needs." (Alex Standish, TCS)

"Hot air and dirty tricks" - "A new study reported in Nature magazine makes the large claim that final proof has been established for man-made global warming. As the Times reports, the study by Seattle scientists -- funded by the US government -- is said to demolish the chief argument by global warming sceptics: ...

It is instructive that only now is it being admitted what the climate warming proponents have previously totally ignored -- that the warming detected in surface temperatures has not been replicated in the, er, climate. Even if the Seattle findings are correct, however, this still does not prove that man-made carbon dioxide emissions are the culprit; nor does it negate the point about inevitable warming having taken place after the end of the Little Ice Age. The unsustainable leap of logic from the simple calculation made in Seattle to the absurd claim that this demolishes the powerful sceptic arguments suggests that once again an ideological agenda is at work here rather than cool scientific objectivity.

And anyway, are the Seattle findings correct? Dr Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama, a former NASA scientist who won the American Meteorological Society award for his work on measuring atmospheric temperature, has totally demolished the Nature paper -- and called into question Nature's whole process of peer review." (Melanie Phillips's Diary)

"New climate study finds 'global warming' by subtracting cooling that wasn't there" - "HUNTSVILLE, AL (May 5, 2004) -- A new study of global temperature data reports this week the discovery that significant global warming can be found by subtracting from the temperature record more cooling than was actually there." (John Christy, University of Alabama at Huntsville)

"New Group Battling to Beat Climate Change" - "WEYBRIDGE, England - Environmental activist Steve Howard hopes to work himself out of a job within a decade. As head of the newly formed Climate Group, Howard's mission is to divert the planet from the path of seemingly inevitable self-destruction due to global warming and climate change. "I would like to see in 10 years' time that things have moved on so much that we are redundant," he told Reuters in an interview at the group's British headquarters in Weybridge, some 20 miles southwest of London." (Reuters)

Congratulations Steve Howard! You got your wish (the 'Climate Group' is certainly redundant) - and a decade early too!

"Romney hedges on global warming" - "As he introduced a new state policy to combat global warming, Governor Mitt Romney had a surprise for the environmentalists gathered along the Charles River Esplanade yesterday: Personally, he's not sure global warming is happening." (Boston Globe)

"Blair under fire for CO2 retreat" - "Greenpeace yesterday accused Tony Blair of retreating on his commitment to fight global warming after the government scaled back its plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 16.3%. Margaret Beckett, the environment secretary, said the final plan submitted to the European commission would see an initial cut in CO2 emissions of 15.2% on 1990 levels by 2010. The proposal, one of the most ambitious in Europe, comes in advance of a CO2 emissions trading scheme designed to help Europe meet its Kyoto commitments on reducing greenhouse gases and due to come into effect on January 1." (The Guardian)

"Global warming threatens beaches" - "Miles of British coastline and dozens of beaches are under threat from rising sea levels, environmentalists warned today. Global warming is threatening to inundate beaches, marshes and mudflats along the south-east coast, threatening the habitat of hundreds of species of birds and animals. Several popular tourist resorts are also at risk from rising waters and erosion of the coastline. In a bid to warn the public about the danger of rising sea levels, green activists will this weekend stage dozens of North Sea and English Channel beach events." (Evening Standard)

"Climate variation in the tropical Pacific: coral provides proof" - "IRD scientists have revealed, in an article just published in Nature, that the cooling event known in the Northern Hemisphere as the Younger Dryas (about 12 000 years B.P.) was expressed in the Pacific by the absence of any South Pacific Convergence Zone activity and the movement of tropical waters closer to the Equator. This observation shows the interaction which occurs between the low and high latitudes and provides boundaries relevant for building ocean-atmosphere climatic models." (Institut de Recherche Pour le Développement)

"Impact of climate change is serious" - "A leading climatologist has warned that the government should take a long-term view of changing climate conditions, or face potential consequences that could "seriously compound" the existing challenges facing South Africa.

"We are still building society around what is considered to be normal climate, in for example water usage and infrastructure. But we increasingly need to take the changing characteristics of climate into consideration," Prof Bruce Hewitson of the University of Cape Town's environmental and geographical science department told Sapa.

Using tangible examples of the effects in the change in frequency and intensity when experiencing local climatic change, Hewitson said some parts of the interior were getting drier, while some parts such as the KwaZulu-Natal coastline were getting wetter." (Sapa)

"An ill wind?" - "It was supposed to be a green solution to the environmental crisis. But Britain's 'wind rush' - the world's fastest expansion of renewable energy - has split the green lobby and whipped up a storm of protest from a powerful coalition of countryside groups. So are wind farms the answer to global warming - or merely a blight on the landscape? John Vidal reports" (The Guardian)

"Is the Oil Spigot Running Dry?" - "In 1914, the U.S. Bureau of Mines predicted American oil reserves would last merely a decade. In both 1939 and 1951, the Interior Department estimated oil supply at only 13 years. "We could use up all of the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade," declared Pres. Jimmy Carter gloomily in 1977. In fact, the earliest claim that we were running out of oil dates back to 1855 – four years before the first well was drilled!" (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

"Nanotech: Beyond the Hype -- and Fear" - "In recent years, an eclectic band of scientists has mapped out a new frontier known broadly as nanotechnology. Though they're from different traditions and methods, these explorers, who include biologists, chemists, physicists, chipmakers, and computational experts, have tackled the same basic question: how to control the building blocks of matter from the bottom up." (BusinessWeek Online)

"Angolan refugees face hunger at home" - "Unless it gets more funding, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) will not meet its aim to provide food to thousands of Angolan refugees returning home this year, the organisation said on Thursday. "The food component of the repatriation exercise is essential to ensure people prosper when they return," said James Morris, executive director of the WFP." (Mail & Guardian)

"Panel touts cost-effectiveness of agricultural biotech" - "The world's leading agricultural biotech companies invest heavily in research and development but know that the next breakthrough could come from an entrepreneur, a university or the developing world, their executives say.

"When you place a bet of $400 million a year, you stand a good chance of finding something (with internal research). ... But we also spend a lot of time trolling" for technology in startup companies and academia, said Hugh Grant, president, chairman and chief executive of Creve Coeur-based Monsanto Co. He was among panelists addressing the future of agricultural biotech at the BIO Mid-America Venture Forum." (Post-Dispatch)

"Biotechnology now offers a new golf course grass" - "Teeing off soon at a golf course near you: a new fight over grass. Two multinational companies want to make millions selling a high-tech grass that they say will resist weeds and be safe for the environment. Thousands of greenskeepers like St. Louis Country Club superintendent Tim Burch are eager to buy the new turf, called Roundup Ready Creeping Bentgrass. He wants to use the new grass to win the war against a weed called annual bluegrass that plagues golf courses around the country." (Post-Dispatch)

"New Zealand: GM crops spread fear" - "An overwhelming majority of submissions to the Otago Regional Council's draft long-term council community plan have called for the council to act to prevent damage to the region's economy from the release of genetically modified (GM) crops." (Otago Daily Times)

"New Zealand: Councils seek to control GE releases" - "North Island councils are seeking a say in the extent to which land should be used for genetically engineered crops and animals. Whangarei District Council today called for changes to the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act that would give councils have more say on the release of GE organisms in their areas." (New Zealand Herald)

"Pro-GM lobby institute closes" - "A think-tank set up by New Zealand's leading paid lobbyist for research on genetically modified organisms has closed down because of "insufficient support." (New Zealand Herald)

"China clears GM corn" - "06/05/2004 - US-based Dow Agro Science has confirmed that its grain corn containing an insect resistant trait has received regulatory approval for import into China, reports Simon Pitman.

Corn with the company’s patented Herculex I trait has already received full food, feed and import approval from Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan and the Philippines, as well as the US, Canada, South Africa and Mexico.

The Herculex I trait, a Bt gene, is the first in a new generation of in- plant insect-protection traits for corn. This family is being developed in a research collaboration between Dow AgroSciences, a global leader in providing pest management and biotechnology products, and Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a leader in seed technology and seed products." (FoodNavigator.com)

May 6, 2004

Whoops! Nature lays another egg: "Satellite data confirms climate change" - "For years, climate researchers have struggled with an apparent discrepancy in the data on global warming: temperatures in the lower atmosphere have been rising far slower than models predict, given how fast the Earth’s surface is heating.

The discrepancy has been central to the arguments of sceptics about global warming. But according to a study in this issue of Nature it can be explained by interactions between the troposphere - the first 11 km of the atmosphere - and the stratosphere above it." (Nature Science Update)

Note to Nature: this was examined and invalidated over a decade ago. Even if content to repeal the laws of physics there's still the conflict with balloon sonde measures. Didn't any of this trouble peer reviewers? If not, why not? Do they not understand the field or do they not exist at all? What is going wrong with the publication of a formerly-great science journal?

Sadly, Mark Henderson led the British press in championing this sloppy propaganda piece with: Scientists claim final proof of global warming (The Times). And he originally showed such promise as a science reporter... Seattle Times' Sandi Doughton did somewhat better with: Hotly disputed UW analysis makes a case for warming

Here's where Fu, et al and Nature went wrong: "Satellite, Balloon, & Surface Temps: Assault From Above " - "It’s common knowledge that for twenty-five years the satellite-based temperature record of the lower atmosphere shows much less warming than surface observations or climate model predictions. The big question is, “Why?” A new study in Nature by University of Washington’s Qiang Fu and colleagues claims the satellite measurements are in error because they include a cooling effect from the atmospheric layer just above it. But in formulating their case, the authors assume the impossible." (Patrick J. Michaels, CO2AndClimate.org)

More from Roy Spencer: "When Is Global Warming Really a Cooling?" - "Much media attention is focusing on the forthcoming big-budget climate disaster movie "The Day After Tomorrow" and how much scrutiny the "science" on which it is based deserves. But there are some developments in the world of serious climate science that certainly deserve greater scrutiny." (Roy Spencer, TCS)

"Clearing the Air" - "The first thing to be clear about is that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Rather, the presence of this trace gas in Earth's atmosphere is vitally important for the growth of plants. And in extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, plants in turn release the oxygen that is required for the respiration of most animal life forms, you and me included." (Bob Carter, TCS)

"Plankton may influence climate change says UCSB scientist" - "(Santa Barbara, Calif.) -- Plankton appear to play a major role in regulating the global climate system, according to new research.

David Siegel, professor of geography at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and director of the Institute for Computational Earth System Science, made the discovery with his former Ph.D. student Dierdre Toole, who is now based at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

In an article in the May 6 issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the scientists explain their research in the Sargasso Sea, approximately 50 miles southeast of the island of Bermuda. Siegel's research group has been making observations at this location since 1992.

Phytoplankton are tiny, single-celled floating plants. They inhabit the upper layers of any natural body of water where there is enough light to support photosynthetic growth. They are the base of the ocean's food web, and their production helps to regulate the global carbon cycle. They also contribute to the global cycling of many other compounds with climate implications." (University of California - Santa Barbara)

"State aims to cut greenhouse gases" - "Governor Mitt Romney plans to unveil a comprehensive agenda on climate change today, which officials said would make Massachusetts the first state to consider the impact on greenhouse gases when state regulators evaluate highway projects and other public construction plans.

Massachusetts, which was the first state to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, would go further by basing its transportation planning and funding decisions in part on the greenhouse gases that projects would produce. The plan also suggests giving the owners of hybrid cars tax breaks and the right to use high-occupancy vehicle lanes even without passengers." (Boston Globe)

"Blair Warned Against 'Watering Down' Climate Change Plans" - "The Government was publishing plans today to cut carbon dioxide – the chief global warming gas – from industry. But environmental groups said they feared targets for the EU Emissions Trading Scheme had been watered down since draft proposals for “carbon caps” were published in January." (PA News)

Cooler Heads Project Vol VIII, No. 9 (CEI)

"Leaving a Trail" - " Increasingly, observational evidence indicates local and regional processes such as changes in land use, urban heat island effects, and localized surface warming in industrialized regions are important factors in recent changes in global temperature. As alternative and contributing influences emerge, greenhouse gas increases from fossil fuel combustion play a diminished role compared to that previously assigned to them in reports such as those of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC, 2001)." (CO2AndClimate.org)

"Climate change menace: the ultimate water hazard" - "They get all excited at Augusta National golf club every year about the hazard that is a little puddle of a creek fronting the 12th green. Down in Doonbeg, Co. Clare, the puddle is the Atlantic Ocean. What makes this a hazard, given that it isn't exactly in play, is the phenomenon of global warming.

It might well be that the warming of the earth's climate brings benefits to some parts of the world, Ireland included. But it will also bring with it the kind of unwelcome changes that will put all, or most, of our political foibles in the shade. And yet, it seems to bother most of us very little. The nature of our near future world is lost in the humdrum of everyday everything." (Irish Echo)

"Media blamed for loss of trust in government" - "One of Tony Blair's closest advisers has warned that the government risks losing its legitimacy, partly due to a systematic failure of the media to report the truth." (The Guardian)

Letter of the moment: "Asthma and pollution" - "Sidney, B.C. -- The article Global Warming Linked To High Asthma Rates (Alanna Mitchell, April 30) asserts that "American cities blanketed with smog" are the cause of increased rates of asthma in preschool children that have occurred since 1978. This is not supported by the facts.

Since the 1970s, the levels of air pollutants in North American urban areas have declined by 35 to 65 per cent. It is one of the things we should have been celebrating this past Earth Day, and is inconsistent as a cause of increased asthma.

Asian cities have by far the worst air pollution in the world, and yet the incidence of asthma in small children is far below that in North American cities. If air pollution is the cause of children's asthma, how is this difference explained?

The authors cited for this study all seem to be medical doctors; who was the specialist in urban air quality? Allergies can be caused by any one of a hundred factors in the victim's environment, and it requires very sophisticated statistical analysis to sift through the data and isolate the causative factor.

Any statistician qualified to do this should rate mention as an author, and his or her apparent absence suggests that this vital analysis was not done at the level required to justify the conclusion." (Fred Langford, Globe and Mail)

" Stossel proudly labeled a 'scourge' " - " The press has called him a conservative, contrarian, prime-time propagandist, debunker and right-wing apparatchik — among other things." (The Washington Times)

Sigh... "Reaching for Control of Carcinogenic Chemicals" - "PARIS, France, May 5, 2004 - At UNESCO Headquarters on Friday, The French Association for Research on Treatments Against Cancer is convening a trans-Atlantic group of leading cancer specialists to present scientific evidence on the role of environmental pollutants as major causes of cancer and other diseases.

Foremost on the agenda is the proposed new chemicals policy for the European Union, known as REACH - Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals - an unprecedented complex of regulations for industrial chemicals.

First outlined by the European Commission in 2001, REACH was opposed by the European and U.S. chemical industries, and also by the Bush Administration. A weaker version was offered in 2003, but in view of the drastic rise in deaths from avoidable causes of cancer such as industrial chemicals, the distinguished scientists at this Colloquium will present evidence to show that REACH needs to be strengthened, not weakened." (Environment News Service)

"Vets demand recourse for 'abuse'" - "Korean War survivors: Soldiers doused in DDT denied pensions, dying 'far too young'" (National Post)

Enter Nanny, stage left: "Unhealthy food may be labelled 'high fat'" - "Unhealthy food may have to carry warnings that it is "high fat" or "high in sugar", as part of an attempt by the Government to tackle obesity.

Melanie Johnson, the Public Health minister, will warn manufacturers and fast-food chains today that they must cut the amount of fat and sugar in their meals or the Government will bring in compulsory labelling or laws curbing unhealthy ingredients.

At an "obesity summit" attended by the chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, and food manufacturers, Ms Johnson will urge food manufacturers to take responsibility for the nation's diet." (Independent)

"Greens vs. the Environment" - "In the March 2004 issue of Scientific American, National Aeronautics and Space Administration global-warming expert James Hansen notes that greenhouse gas emissions and global-warming projections are "consistently pessimistic." Hansen suggests that projections do not take into account the lower carbon dioxide and methane emissions that have resulted from technological advancements. He explains that the lower carbon dioxide emissions result from increased energy efficiency following the energy crisis in the 1970s and the lower methane emissions, from technological changes in agriculture.

Hansen's concludes on an optimistic note, saying "the main elements [new technologies] required to halt climate change have come into being with remarkable rapidity." This statement would not have surprised economist Julian Simon. He saw the "ultimate resource" to be the human mind and believed it to be best motivated by market forces." (Terry L. Anderson, Hoover Institution)

"The costly fraud that is organic food" - "Its main contribution will be to sustain poverty and malnutrition " (Dick Taverne, The Guardian)

"MPs say ministers ignored GM fears" - "The government is guilty of "wilful or careless misinterpretations" in ignoring the concerns of those who oppose the planting of GM crops in Britain, MPs said yesterday.

Members of the environment audit committee are angry that its scientific and social objections to the early introduction of GM crops were brushed aside by the government, apparently without considering them, just five days before the environment secretary, Margaret Beckett, announced the go-ahead for GM maize." (The Guardian)

"Grain harvest predicted to fall short of world demand" - "WASHINGTON — This year's world grain harvest will increase to a record level but will still fall nearly 60 million tons short of what 6.4 billion people and more than 1 billion livestock will consume, an environmental group predicted Tuesday." (Associated Press)

"Africa GM food aid claims are 'rubbish'" - "The United Nations's World Food Programme (WFP) has strongly refuted claims that it forces African countries to accept genetically modified (GM) food aid, a spokesperson said on Tuesday.

"We have never forced any country to accept GM food aid. The WFP does not dictate to any government what kind of food aid it must accept or give," said Michael Huggins, Southern Africa regional spokesperson for the WFP." (Mail & Guardian)

"GM Crop Trials Underway Throughout Germany" - "A field with genetically-modified wheat was destroyed by hoe-toting vandals Tuesday night. The local government responded with the revelation that GM crops are being tested in no less than seven of Germany's 16 states." (Deutsche Welle)

May 5, 2004

"Welcome To The Post-Bias Media" - "There's been a curious pattern of "me too-ism" visible on the left recently. Al Gore is launching a liberal cable TV channel to compete with Fox News. Al Franken launched Air America, his nascent liberal talk radio network, to compete with Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and other conservatives with successful national talk shows." (Edward B. Driscoll, Jr., TCS)

"Super Size Me a Super Sized Distortion of the Facts?" - "American Council on Science & Health Says Film Disregards Importance of Exercise and Balance.

NEW YORK, May 4 -- NEWS: American Council on Science and Health says this controversial new film is a profile in personal irresponsibility; Spurlock fails to recognize the basic tenants of health, nutrition and common sense." (PRNewswire)

"Injecting Mercury" - "Is Thimerosal the Missing Link to Autism and Developmental Problems?" (Annette Fuentes, E/The Environmental Magazine)

In a word, no.

"Hewitt's corporate rules disappoint lobbyists" - "A massive row is set to break out today as the government reveals new responsibilities for the business world that fall far short of what environmentalists, human rights campaigners and trade unionists have been demanding." (The Guardian)

Here's a newsflash: the business of business is, um... business - regardless of the wish lists ("demands") of the misguided.

Consequences? Imagine that... "Greenpeace ordered to pay loggers for lost work" - "VANCOUVER - The B.C. Court of Appeal says Greenpeace and two of its protesters must compensate loggers who couldn't work during a protest seven years ago.

Three appeal court judges were unanimous in throwing out the appeal by Greenpeace, Tzeporah Berman and Tamara Stark.

A lower court judge ordered that they pay four loggers more than $6,000 after the protesters chained themselves to logging equipment on Roderick Island on B.C.'s central coast.

The protesters claimed they can't be liable because they didn't know the loggers wouldn't be paid unless they worked.

In her ruling, Appeal Court Justice Mary Southin says the appellants knew that the loggers couldn't do their jobs and that's enough to order financial compensation." (Canadian Press)

"Traditional fishing destroys corals - new research" - "British scientists have found that primitive fishing methods (using spears, hook-and-line) are destroying coral reefs. They say the findings have implications for the international management of reefs as until now commercial fishing was believed to pose the main risk." (University of Newcastle upon Tyne)

"Fresh water fish stocks revived but climate change blamed for eel's decline" - "More fish are now found in greater numbers in rivers, lakes and canals in England and Wales than at any time since the 19th century. But one species, the eel, which had always been common, is disappearing.

In the first comprehensive report into fresh water fish stocks in England and Wales, the Environment Agency celebrates the increase in stocks because of reducing pollution but says there are worrying developments, and the demise of the eel is the worst.

Although the cause of the eel's population crash to around 1% of its former numbers is not fully understood, the agency believes that the weakening of the Gulf stream is a factor." (The Guardian)

"Second Opinion: Climate news is not all gloomy" - "Global warming has many degrees of danger,” by Dr. Jonathan Patz and Christine Hagerbaumer (Insight, April 6), had numerous inaccurate or misleading statements.

The writers make it sound as if Oregonians (and others) face a dire emergency because of carbon dioxide (which is actually an essential nutrient for plant growth, not an air pollutant)." (George Taylor, Portland Tribune)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"Response to a Critique of Our 14 Apr 2004 Editorial" - "The lead author of "Climate forcing by aerosols - a hazy picture" (Science 300: 1103) claims that our editorial analysis of this important study "distorts and misrepresents" it.  We think differently about the matter and explain why." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Roman Warm Period (Asia)" - "Far removed from the North Atlantic Ocean, Asia would appear to be an unlikely place for the Roman Warm Period to make its presence felt, if the parochial views of the world's climate alarmists are correct.  But, of course, they are incorrect, and so the Roman Warm Period flexes its climatic muscles there in spectacular fashion, as our brief review of the pertinent scientific literature clearly demonstrates." (co2science.org)

"Nutrients x CO 2 Effects on Plants (Nitrogen - Trees: Aspen)" - "How does the degree of soil nitrogen availability impact the aerial fertilization effect of atmospheric CO 2 enrichment on the growth of aspen trees?" (co2science.org)

Plant Growth Data:
"This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Rice, Soybean, Water Lily and White Poplar." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"Aerosol Infrared Forcing of Climate" - "How significant is it?  And how do state-of-the-art climate models handle it?" (co2science.org)

"The Role of the Wind in Maintaining the Ocean's Thermohaline Circulation" - "As long as the breezes blow, will the Gulf Stream ever slow?" (co2science.org)

"Down-Regulation of Photosynthesis in CO 2 -Enriched Air" - "What causes it?  And can it be altered by genetic manipulation to enable plants to take better advantage of the ongoing rise in the air's CO 2 content?" (co2science.org)

"Genetic Variation in Physiological Responses of Red Maple Seedlings to Atmospheric CO 2 Enrichment" - "How significant is it?  And what does it imply about the future growth response and evolution of the species as the air's CO 2 content continues to climb?" (co2science.org)

"Water Use Efficiencies of Northern European Trees: How Have They Responded to the Historical Rise in the Air's CO 2 Content" - "They have risen substantially, probably more than most of us would have guessed." (co2science.org)

"Scientists Embrace Plot for 'Tomorrow'" - "LOS ANGELES - A super storm envelops the globe, sending tornadoes skittering through Los Angeles, pounding Tokyo with hail the size of grapefruit and burying New Delhi in snow.

Brace yourself. After decades spent tackling volcanoes, aliens, earthquakes, asteroids and every other disaster imaginable, Hollywood has turned its attention to one of the hottest scientific and political issues of the day: climate change.

No one is pretending the forthcoming film "The Day After Tomorrow" is anything but implausible: In the $125 million movie, global warming triggers a cascade of events that practically flash freeze the planet.

It's an abruptness no one believes possible, least of all the filmmakers behind the 20th Century Fox release. "It's very cinematic to choose the worst-case scenario, which we did," said co-screenwriter Jeffrey Nachmanoff.

Nonetheless, scientists are embracing the movie, unusual for those whose stock in trade is fact.

"My first reaction was, 'Oh my God, this is a disaster because it is such a distortion of the science. It will certainly create a backlash,'" said Dan Schrag, a Harvard University paleoclimatologist. "I have sobered up somewhat, because the public is probably smart enough to distinguish between Hollywood and the real world."

He now hopes the movie will do for interest in global warming what "Jurassic Park" did for dinosaurs." (Associated Press)

"The Big Picture: Climate change too slow for Hollywood, too fast for the rest of us" - "It's always been hard to get people to take global warming seriously because it happens too slowly. Not slowly in geological terms -- by century's end, according to the consensus scientific prediction, we'll have made the planet warmer than it's been in tens of millions of years. But slowly in NBC Nightly News terms. From day to day, it's hard to discern the catastrophe, so we don't get around to really worrying. Something else -- the battle for Fallujah, the presidential election, the spread of SARS, the Jacksonian mammary -- is always more immediate, and evolution seems to have engineered us for a fascination with the sudden." (Bill McKibben, Grist Magazine)

Blast from the past: "Global Warming: How It All Began" (Richard Courtney, Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"That'll be £17 and 10 carbon points" - "It's 2025 and you've just filled the car with unleaded petrol and handed over your credit card. Nothing unusual so far. Now imagine you also hand over a second piece of plastic - let's call it a "carbon card" - for the attendant to swipe. It's not cash being debited this time, but "carbon units" from your personal allowance. Welcome to life under carbon rationing." (The Guardian)

"The Nuke Next Door" - "Do Cancers Cluster Around Atomic Plants?" (Trish Riley, E/The Environmental Magazine)

Again, no. There's never been a useful result although billions have been wasted investigating the heck out of alleged "clusters."

"As windmills spread, some Germans balk at 'asparagus fields'" - "BERLIN – They call him the Don Quixote of the Uckermark.

But unlike the Spanish literary figure, Hans-Joachim Mengel, a professor of political science at Berlin's Free University, isn't attacking imaginary "giants" in the Iberian hinterland. Rather, he is taking aim at the 400-foot windmills that blanket the German countryside.

Mr. Mengel is not alone. Hundreds of citizens' groups have sprung up in Germany to battle "Verspargelung der Landschaft" - a new phrase in the German lexicon - meaning "the transformation of the German landscape into an asparagus field."

While an overwhelming majority of Germans supports wind power as a step away from atomic and coal-generated electricity, a growing number of critics are railing against noise and visual pollution, inefficiency, and costliness. They say wind power does little to reduce carbon dioxide emissions while lowering property values near wind parks." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"I Love Humanity; It's People I Can't Stand" - "Part 1 of this series discussed the misconceptions and misrepresentations that are promulgated by anti-biotechnology NGOs. Their significant distortions and omissions of facts are not limited to statements about the nature or risk of the technology itself. The activists also attempt in invidious ways to create a presumption of genuine controversy (where none exists) over the safety and usefulness of gene-splicing techniques." (Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko)

"Africa in revolt over GM food" - "The World Food Programme (WFP) should stop forcing African countries to accept genetically modified (GM) food aid, various groups demanded on Tuesday.

"The groups are demanding that the WFP and USAID immediately desist from misleading the governments of Angola and Sudan with a scenario of no choice, and forcing them to accept GM food aid," a statement said.

More than 60 groups representing farmer, consumer, environmental and development organisations from 15 African countries sent an open letter of protest to the WFP on Tuesday." (SAPA)

"Petition calls for strict labelling of genetically modified seeds" - "BRUSSELS - European Union Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstroem was handed a 200,000 signature petition calling for the strictest possible labelling of genetically modified (GM) seeds.

The initiative, by a group calling itself "Save Our Seeds", comes as the commission is preparing to adopt a controversial directive authorising the "accidental or technically inevitable" presence of between 0.3 percent (for oil seed rape and maize) and 0.5 percent (for beetroot, potatoes and cotton) of GM organisms (GMOs) in batches of seed." (AFP)

"A Toast to the Prime Minister!" - "OTTAWA - Canadians upset that genetically modified wheat might one day find itself on their shelves now have a new way to vent their anger -- mail a slice of bread to Prime Minister Paul Martin.

Two groups of activists launched their innovative campaign in bakeries and grocery stores across the country Tuesday as a way to protest against what they say is Ottawa's plan to allow GMO products in Canada." (Reuters)

"Against the grain" - "Consumers don't want to eat GM products, so researchers are looking for non-food ways to use the crops. But cottons, golf courses and plastics aren't safe either, warns Sue Mayer" (The Guardian)

May 4, 2004

"Funds Hamper Those Who Need Malaria Drugs" - "Medicines to fight the rising malaria epidemic don't reach millions who need them because the money and the international commitment to supply the drugs are lacking, experts said at a conference here.

Although malaria kills more than a million people a year - most of them African children - national and international policy makers show a "lack of urgency and political will" to use new treatments in the face of drug resistance, conference organizers said in a statement. Sponsors of the two-day symposium, which ends Friday, were Columbia University, UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the medical aid group Doctors Without Borders." (Associated Press)

"600 million people need effective malaria treatment" - "More than 600 million people, most of them children living, in Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African coun tries, face the daily threat of death from malaria because they do not have access to new and effective treatments. To compound the problem, the existing cheaper medicines, which have been used for many years, are no longer effective in most places because the malaria parasite has developed resistance to them.

Nigeria last week promised to review the policy on use of malaria drugs. The decision to review the policy is based on the results of “Efficacy Studies” carried out in the country which showed that the therapeutic efficacy of chloroquine, the first line antimalaria drug, has become compromised and therefore inadequate." (Daily Times, Nigeria)

"Health Experts Fight Spread of Animal Diseases to Humans" - "GENEVA, Switzerland, May 3, 2004 - Ecological changes caused by human activity represent "by far" the most important factor in the emergence of diseases that jump from animals to humans, the World Health Organization said today. The United Nations health agency opened a three day meeting of international experts at its Geneva headquarters today with the twin goals of preventing and improving responses to such diseases.

When diseases cross from animals to humans they are called zoonoses, and the world has been plagued with these illnesses during the past two years. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and avian influenza outbreaks, and other illnesses, such as mad cow disease and its human form, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, will be on the agenda as the experts consider what lessons can be learned from the numerous outbreaks of zoonoses." (Environment News Service)

Bug-huggers win a round: "AUSTRALIA: Stealth Film Producers Shut Out of Blue Mountains Park" - "SYDNEY, Australia, May 3, 2004 - Environmental protesters have succeeded in shutting down production of the Hollywood action film "Steath" in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. The final scene shoot out was approved by the state for the Grose Wilderness in Blue Mountains National Park.

The Blue Mountains Conservation Society challenged the state's approval of the $130 million film in the NSW Land and Environment Court, saying local residents are concerned about the abuse and misuse of the Grose Wilderness, the Blue Mountains National Park and the World Heritage Area. The conservationists argued that the filming was inconsistent with the purposes and objectives of a wilderness area.

Justice David Lloyd agreed and Thursday set aside the state's approval of the film project, ruling that declared wilderness areas were "sacrosanct." He issued a restraining order against Environment Minister Bob Debus, who also serves as director-general of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), from granting any further licenses to film in the area.

Producers AFG Talon, backed by the NSW government, immediately appealed the ruling in the NSW Supreme Court. But Friday AFG Talon withdrew its appeal. "The film needs the certainty of a location this week," the company said in a statement, and could not rely on the timing of an appeal ruling." (Environment News Service)

which makes about as much sense as: "Swedes left with a monster problem" - "THE placing of a mythical monster on Sweden’s endangered species list, in an apparent fit of bureaucratic zeal, has caused an administrative problem for the country’s authorities." (The Scotsman)

"Transcript: Funding pulled for reef, rainforest research centres" - "ELIZABETH JACKSON: Two of Australia's best known research organisations are set to shut down because the Federal Government has refused to continue funding them.

The Reef and Rainforest Cooperative Research Centres in Queensland were set up by the Government to study topics of major environmental importance, like coral bleaching and climate change.

But the Federal Science Minister Peter McGauran says the CRC's have had their funding proposals refused because they have failed to commercialise their work." (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Actually, the cooperative part was supposed to be government-assisted research with commercial application, they were never intended as publicly-funded private playgrounds for misanthropic conservationists (which, sadly, is what the CRCs degenerated into).

"El Nino & the Indian Ocean Dipole" - "Scientists are beginning to suspect the hand of another seesaw ocean-atmosphere system, this time in the equatorial Indian Ocean, in influencing the Indian monsoon." (The Hindu)

"Climate: Global warming's dollar effects" - "BOULDER, Colo., May 3 -- A warming climate could bring either good news or bad news for the U.S. economy, depending on whether you are an optimist or a pessimist, according to a report from the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

The report, "U.S. Market Consequences of Global Climate Change," released last week, found global warming "has the potential to impose considerable costs or produce temporary benefits for the U.S. economy over the 21st century, depending on the extent to which pessimistic or optimistic outcomes prevail."

The decidedly equivocal report was written by Dale Jorgenson, a Harvard University economist, and three other authors. Its climate change projections incorporated the conclusions of the Bush administration's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which in 2001 predicted that average global temperatures could rise from 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit to 10.4 degrees F (1.4 degrees Celsius to 5.8 degrees C) during the 21st century, with average U.S. temperatures rising by as much as 30 percent.

The Pew team looked at three climate-change scenarios -- low, central, high -- and combined them with two sets of economic projections -- pessimistic and optimistic. The result was a set of outcomes to satisfy most every expectation." (Dan Whipple, United Press International)

"the Bush administration's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change"? You mean he's to blame for that now too?

Whatever, it's actually not too bad a piece, pointing out (eventually) that IPCC 'storylines' are based on entirely unrealistic projections of population, economic growth and complete lack of technical development. What is not explicitly stated is that this places the IPCC's 'storylines' firmly in the realm of The Day After Tomorrow, The Blob and others of the genre.

Moonbat has his followers it seems: "Letters: Climate-change nonsense" (The Guardian)

Oh dear... Morley doesn't appear much of an improvement on Meacher at all. Must be rather distressing for British environment ministers to find that the average punter is largely disinterested in claims of planetary toasting.

See also: "A skilful obscurantist" (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Republicans delay vote on climate change bill" - "HARTFORD, Conn. -- Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives succeeded Monday in postponing a vote on legislation designed to help reduce greenhouse gases, saying it would be a burden on businesses and may force some companies to leave the state. Their efforts came shortly after U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn, and a group of lawmakers, including a few Republicans, announced the legislation was headed for certain approval." (Associated Press)

What's to say, it's Mindy Lubber: "Global warming's bottom line" - "JUST AS ENRON and other off-sheet accounting debacles spelled disaster for many US investors, evidence shows that global warming could do the same. Without aggressive action to reduce the financial risks that global warming poses for companies, trillions of dollars of Americans' investments, many of them controlled here in Boston, will be jeopardized." (Mindy Lubber, Boston Globe)

"Asian pollution ill wind for U.S. - Giant brown cloud blows in from China" - "TRINIDAD, Calif. -- There are storms you can see here on California's far northern coast, and storms you can't.

When a big gale comes ashore at Trinidad, it's hard to miss. The heaving gray waters of the Pacific Ocean crash against the house-size boulders that litter the coastline, then shatter into white spray. A buoy lurches in the waves, its bell tolling a mournful warning, and a curtain of rain sweeps in from the sea.

But when a plume of pollution, known as the Asian brown cloud, blows in from China, nobody in Trinidad even knows it's happening. Add one more item to the long list of things Asia exports to the United States: air pollution.

The contaminated air that rides the jet stream to Trinidad is laced with the sulfates and soot from Asia's industrial smokestacks, and nitrogen oxides that emerge from tailpipes of Asia's rapidly growing fleet of automobiles. It contains particles from fires set to clear jungles for farming, and from the millions of households that burn coal, wood or animal dung for heating and cooking." (Chicago Tribune) | NASA satellites and balloons spot airborne pollution 'train' (NASA/GSFC)

"Court Rulings on Emissions Sharply Split Two Groups" - "WASHINGTON, May 3 — The Supreme Court on Monday, for the second time in a week, issued a decision on emission standards for power plants that cheered industry groups while upsetting environmentalists.

The two actions came in unrelated cases, the one on Monday involving the Tennessee Valley Authority and the other last Wednesday a regional air pollution control agency in Southern California.

Environmental lawyers, trying to gauge the impact of the decisions, said the cases seemed to reflect a certain hostility by the court toward aggressive steps intended to reduce air pollution." (New York Times)

"Bulgaria to build nuclear plant" - "Bulgaria will resume construction of its unfinished nuclear power plant at Belene on the River Danube, the authorities in Sofia have announced. Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg said his government would choose a private investor by the end of the year. Bulgaria's nuclear energy programme has been the focus of disputes with neighbouring Romania and the EU." (BBC News Online)

"California thirsty for seawater" - "Water is everywhere along California's thirsty midsection and south, but not a drop to drink. Or to do the laundry, water the garden or drive explosive residential development and a huge industrial base.

Yet as the unpotable Pacific sloshes up against the coast, a growing number of people are looking to the ocean to cure California's need for fresh water: take out the salt and you have a virtually inexhaustible supply." (Chicago Tribune)

The Indy using a phonetically-modified dictionary? "Troubled waters: flourescent (sic) fish spark GM row" - "A glow-in-the-dark fish sounds like something that would go down a treat at a party for five-year-olds. It is also the latest faultline in the ideological battle over genetically modified organisms.

A fluorescent zebra fish, known by its trademarked name GloFish, has been on sale in the United States since the beginning of the year and, thanks to the movie Finding Nemo, has enjoyed robust sales.

GloFish genetically modified with jellyfish glow green, while those mixed with coral genes have a reddish hue when exposed to black or fluorescent light. At $5 a pop, they are more than five times as expensive as non-glowing zebra fish. What makes them politically contentious, however, is the fact that they are the world's first genetically engineered species to be made commercially available." (Independent) | Pet fish trigger move in GM debate (BBC News Online)

"Biotech's Antagonists" - Editor's note: This is the first article of a two-part series. "Controversies continue to engulf the "new biotechnology" -- also known as gene-splicing or genetic modification (GM) -- applied to agriculture and food production. Perhaps pseudo-controversies would be a more apt term, given that every new supposed problem has turned out to be nonexistent or inconsequential, and biotech's benefits are proven: They include less use of chemical pesticides, higher crop yields and more environment-friendly farming practices. Yet each new scare story is given life by the half-truths and misrepresentations of biotech's vocal, well-organized opponents, who are heavy on lobbying and lawyering but light on science and scholarship." (Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko)

"Save Organic Food Coalition Launches Effort to Protect Organic Foods From Biocontamination" - "SEATTLE, May 3 -- The Save Organic Food coalition and web site (http://www.saveorganicfood.org) are officially being launched this week as The Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods (http://www.thecampaign.org) undertakes a new effort to protect organic food from contamination by genetically engineered crops." (PRNewswire)

"Green groups slam biotech proposal" - "Proposed new laws on permissible levels of genetically modified organisms in seeds are “illegal, unscientific, and unfair”, according to a green coalition.

Speaking in Brussels on Monday, the group of six NGOs hit out at a leaked draft proposal on GM thresholds for seeds, which would allow trace levels of GMOs in food with no labelling.

The proposal sets these levels at 0.3 and 0.5 per cent, depending on the crop, and follows on from laws establishing a 0.9 per cent GM level for food.

Benedikt Haerlin, group co-ordinator, said that allowing any GM contamination of conventional food was “like telling a vegetarian that 0.5 per cent sausage in his food was unfortunately unavoidable.” (EUpolitix)

"Greenpeace bars Argentine GMO soy from Brazil port" - "SAO PAULO, Brazil, May 3 - Environmental activist group Greenpeace said on Monday some of its members prevented a cargo ship carrying genetically modified Argentine soybeans from topping off its load in Paranagua, Brazil's main grain port, which has banned GMO soybeans.

"Greenpeace will not permit GMOs coming from other parts of Brazil or from the world to contaminate the unique GMO-free port of the country," Gabriela Vuolo of Greenpeace's movement against GMOs said.

A spokeswoman for the port of Paranagua was not immediately available for comment." (Reuters)

"NGO David takes on American food Goliath" - "A small non-governmental organisation has asked for a court order forcing American multinational Monsanto and the Department of Agriculture to reveal information on the safety of genetically modified food.

Biowatch South Africa says there are plans in the pipeline to make this the first country to commercially produce genetically engineered wheat, yet they could not obtain any information on its safety." (The Star, South Africa)

May 3, 2004

"WHO’s to Blame? When it comes to malaria, pointing fingers is the best medicine" - "The multilateral health agencies are at it again. Facing exposure for failing to combat a health problem — in this case, malaria — their only reaction is to try to pin it on someone else. When African kids die every minute from terrible diseases (like malaria), it is shameful that groups spend precious taxpayer resources deflecting blame." (Roger Bate, NRO)

"DDT: the story of a scandal that has killed millions" - "MICHAEL CRICHTON, the popular author, recently called environmentalism a religion that has killed millions. Lives — mostly African mothers and infants — were sacrificed at the altar of green political correctness. Strong stuff, just like the pesticide that at the heart of his claim, DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane). The story of how DDT — which may have saved more lives than penicillin — became so demonised is worth telling in the week of Tony Blair ’s Africa summit.

It is a story both ancient and modern, where a clean, safe First World buys into a Disneyfied fantasy of Mother Nature as kind, gentle, caring. Meanwhile, the tools that make that fantasy possible — such as DDT — are denied to poor countries. They live with an older, brutal version: Ma Nature and her Gang of Diseases, stalking humanity, exacting a terrible toll." (John Pollock, The Times)

[The author was a senior policy researcher at the Department for the Environment and is a consultant on development issues]

"In male monkeys, too much soy has adverse effects" - "While soy may be beneficial to women in a variety of ways, research in monkeys suggests that it could have an adverse effect on the behavior of men, according to researchers from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center." (Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center)

"Missing chemical important to air pollution estimates" - "Something is missing in the analysis of emissions of volatile organic compounds from a Michigan forest, and, according to a team of atmospheric scientists, what they do not know can have a large impact on air pollution in areas in and near forests." (Penn State)

"State of the Scare, Once Again" - "The American Lung Association may be the only institution in the country that still gives out failing grades, but you have to hand it to them -- they do it with gusto. "State of the Air 2004" continues ALA's five-year tradition of inflating air pollution levels and health risks in a so-far successful effort to maintain an unwarranted climate of public fear. ALA and other activist groups' tried-and-true strategy stands on three pillars: (1) exaggerate the frequency and extent of high air pollution, (2) take modest, rare, or nonexistent health risks and turn them into serious and pervasive ones, and (3) ignore positive trends and invent negative ones." (Joel Schwartz and Steven Hayward, TCS)

"Maldives Nurses Its Coral Reefs Back to Life" - "VABBINFARU, Maldives - Scientists in the Maldives watched spellbound under the full moon as reproducing corals ejected pink-orange eggs and bundles of sperm - proof the islands' endangered reefs are on the road to regeneration." (Reuters)

"‘Environmental refugees’ to rise" - "ENVIRONMENTAL activists from Pacific nations threatened by rising sea levels have called on Australia to recognise "environmental refugees" who try to escape the effects of global warming. The conservationists currently visiting Australia say climate change is raising sea levels and increasing the frequency of events like cyclones which will one day make some low-lying Pacific island nations uninhabitable." (Agence France-Presse)

Actually, misanthropic activists have been promising developing countries all sorts of funds and land grants etc. ('compensation', apparently) for ages, just so long as they subscribe to the enhanced greenhouse-driven looming disaster myth. Just make the right noises and the nasty rich developed nations will give you fortunes, they said. Reality time: empirical measures fail to support whacky green allegations and Australia, among others, will not yield to ridiculous extortion attempts, no matter how naïvely developing nations have allowed agenda-driven greenies to manoeuvre them into such an embarrassing policy position.

Island states might, however, find Greenpeace, FoE, et al, vulnerable to litigation having misguided said states, encouraging completely unsustainable "sustainable development" in so-called eco-tourism with the resultant over-extraction of groundwater and subsequent sand island subsidence (very local sea level rise). Ignoring commercial advice to trade a small portion of available resources (timber, fishing rights, whatever) to meet foreign exchange needs while following that of self-appointed 'experts' wearing green hats has been disastrous so far, why continue following these advisors to pursue unwinnable extortion cases?

What is this man smoking? "Why Antarctica will soon be the only place to live - literally" - "Antarctica is likely to be the world's only habitable continent by the end of this century if global warming remains unchecked, the Government's chief scientist, Professor Sir David King, said last week.

He said the Earth was entering the "first hot period" for 60 million years, when there was no ice on the planet and "the rest of the globe could not sustain human life". The warning - one of the starkest delivered by a top scientist - comes as ministers decide next week whether to weaken measures to cut the pollution that causes climate change, even though Tony Blair last week described the situation as "very, very critical indeed." (Independent on Sunday)

"The science behind climate change forecasts adds up to a lot of hot air" - "How would you react if fellow members of your profession were violating good practices of that discipline? What if the same people had massive amounts of taxpayers' money to develop flawed ideas, and wielded influence over public policies?

Most people would be appalled. Yet this is exactly what is happening with the climate scenarios developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the body charged with advising governments on the causes and consequences of climate change, which met in Geneva last week." (Martin Ågerup, Daily Telegraph)

[Martin Ågerup is a Danish economist, economic historian and scenario expert, and president of the Danish Academy for Future Studies]

"Climate Changes; Forests Struggle" - "Some blame global warming; others are unsure of the cause. Bark beetles take up where the climate leaves off, changing the West." (Angie Wagner, Associated Press)

"Charities 'spread scare stories on climate change to boost public donations'" - "Environmental charities are exaggerating the threat of climate change in an attempt to raise more money from public donations, according to a report by Oxford University academics. The charities, including WWF-UK, the world's biggest independent conservation organisation, claim that a quarter of the world's species are facing extinction by 2050. However, the report says that this is a "woeful misrepresentation of the underlying science." (Sunday Telegraph) | Activists accused of 'crying wolf' on climate (The Scotsman)

"Emissions plan goes to Brussels" - "Britain is to deliver its plan for cutting greenhouse gases to the European Commission on Friday. Business leaders say that industry must work with environmental groups to ensure the plan is workable. The CBI has warned that harsh limits will put British businesses at a disadvantage not only in the EU, but in the global economy." (BBC News Online)

"EU climate targets in trouble?" - "The European Union has been warned its efforts to curb the emissions linked to global warming are being put in jeopardy by its own governments.

Experts in the emerging market for climate-friendly investment fear a key scheme to cut the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) reaching the atmosphere could fail, because heavy industry is being offered little incentive to become cleaner.

The controversy centres on the EU Emissions Trading Scheme which comes into force next year, and forms a central plank of the policy to meet the targets set by the Kyoto climate change agreement." (BBC News Online)

"Climate change accelerates in Arctic" - "ANCHORAGE--Yes, shore ice is thinner, winter arrives later and spring comes sooner along Alaska's Arctic coast. But that doesn't add up to evidence of a warmer world for Charles Hopson, an Inupiat Eskimo whaling captain from Barrow.

"Everybody's talking about global warming. Where the hell is it? It's cold up here," the 60-year-old subsistence hunter said on a late March day when frigid winds pushed temperatures in the nation's northernmost town to 50 degrees below zero.

Hopson, who has spent his life noting weather conditions, considers global warming an unproven theory, possibly linked to natural factors such as the El Nino pattern of shifts in tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures." (Associated Press)

"Scientists say rising temperatures taking toll on species" - "HONOLULU--Whale Skate Island in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands was a tiny dot of land in the vast Pacific, about 10 to 15 acres in size. It was covered with vegetation, nesting seabirds, Hawaiian monk seals and turtles laying eggs. It no longer exists.

"That island in the course of 20 years has completely disappeared" with rising sea levels, said Beth Flint, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife biologist for the Pacific Remote Island Refuges. "It washed away."

And with it went habitat for the seabirds, seals and turtles, who had to find other islands or die, in one of the more dramatic illustrations of how global warming may be affecting Earth's species and their habitat.

Warming temperatures are melting away feeding grounds from polar bears, wiping out a small animal population in the western United States and choking the world's precious coral reefs, some scientists suggest." (Associated Press)

"Calls for wind farm moratorium" - "The Scottish Executive has been urged to impose a moratorium on future wind farm developments by protesters in Perth and Kinross. A public debate will take place on Monday night - with objectors saying the landscape could be spoiled by up to five new wind farms in Perthshire." (BBC News Online)

Making a case for biotech? "Families' lives poisoned by crop spraying" - "Pesticides industry and Government accused of risking the health of hundreds of thousands of people living near farms" (Mark Townsend, The Observer)

See also: Countryside constructs, or Aga Saga sensibilities... (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Pastures of plastic: how strawberries became a blight on the landscape" - "5,000 acres already under polytunnels as demand for soft fruit grows." (John Vidal, The Guardian)

Hmm... consumers want soft fruits, campaigners of various stripes want produce to be locally grown (everyone from nationalists to global warming hand-wringers worried about fossil fuel-powered transport) and said plastic shelters facilitate everyone's alleged desires and this is... bad?

"Truth In Labeling" - "When a new Swedish beer hit the European market earlier this year, activists from the radical group Greenpeace did their best to make sure nobody would drink it. Like a bunch of mobbed-up racketeers, they pursued delivery trucks around Copenhagen and urged storeowners not to stock Kenth beer, as it’s called. “We stayed up all night printing materials to hand out at the stores and arranging chase cars,” one of them confessed in the Wall Street Journal.

Arranging chase cars? So that’s what it’s come to for Greenpeace: High-speed intimidation to prevent consumers a full range of food choices.

The beer in question is no ordinary pilsner - its biotech beer, in which a portion of the barley is replaced by bt corn grown in Germany. It’s also clearly labeled as such. The EU has just adopted a complicated set of rules demanding special labels on food containing even trace amounts of biotech ingredients. Kenth beer became the first product to carry the label--and its maker is hoping the novelty will translate into sales.

It’s in our interest, of course, for biotech food in Europe to seem ordinary rather than extraordinary – which it’s not. With the EU’s new labeling regime just now going into effect, European consumers finally may have a chance to eat genetically enhanced food the way Americans do everyday. Perhaps when they discover that biotech food doesn’t look or taste any different from other kinds of food, they’ll begin to overcome the irrational fears that mischievous groups such as Greenpeace have instilled in them." (Dean Kleckner, Truth About Trade & Technology)

"Biotech crop ban effort meets signature mark" - "Advocates of a ban on genetically modified crops may have already gathered enough signatures to put a measure on the November ballot.

The Humboldt Green Genes Committee has collected more than 4,400 signatures, enough to qualify the ban for the ballot. The committee plans to collect a total of 7,000 signatures to turn into the Humboldt County Elections Office by July 7.

The drive started in late January. In March, Mendocino County voters widely passed a ban on biotech crops.

"We've been meeting and gathering force and steam since then," said Martha Devine, co-chairwoman of the committee.

Devine said she has high hopes that if the measure gets on the ballot, voters will approve it. The measure may "ride the wave" of the recent defeat of the recall effort against District Attorney Paul Gallegos, the ousting of Calpine Corp.'s liquefied natural gas terminal and other anti-corporate sentiment, she said." (The Times-Standard)

"For Mendicino County, natural's the only way to grow" - "Voters shun bioengineered foods, but not everyone in quircky Northern California region favors shutting out science ." (San Diego Union-Tribune)

"Push to ban biotech wheat in N.D. begins" - "Church pastor Karl Limvere will this week begin a statewide crusade to save North Dakota's wheat industry.

Limvere, pastor of Medina's Zion United Church of Christ, and 26 other members of a group called the Go Slow with GMO Committee will begin to distribute a statewide petition in hopes of slowing, if not stopping, the introduction of genetically modified wheat." (The Forum)