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Archives - May 2005

May 31, 2005

"Which kills more: ideology or religion" - "Andrew Kenny writes compellingly of the ideological (fascist, communist and extreme environmentalist) harm done to Africa, compared to the potential harm and benefits brought by the Catholic Church." (AFM)

"Poor countries must remove tax barriers to key medicines" - "Campaigns to raise awareness can sometimes give the impression that all we need is for some glamorous celebrities to click their fingers for the problem to be solved. The campaign to get essential medicines for diseases such as HIV and TB to the poor has concentrated on pushing western drug companies to cut prices and western governments to increase aid. It has worked. Drug prices have fallen and aid has increased, but the poor's access to drugs has hardly improved, and there is a shocking stumbling block. Governments receiving essential medicines (donated or cut price) are loading on taxes before pharmacies sell them to patients. With the spotlight on Africa and "ending poverty", this issue should have been on the agenda at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, but it wasn't." (Roger Bate, London Telegraph)

Not the kind you look up: "Global warming? A small few non-believers say no" - "Rev up your SUV. Jump in a plane to New York for a morning meeting about how global warming is a "scam" and head back in the afternoon. When you return to your empty, centrally heated house, turn on that gas fire -- and toss a copy of the Kyoto treaty on the flames. This is the message from David Bellamy, still routinely dubbed one of Britain's "leading environmentalists." Global warming? Chill, baby, chill.

For more than a decade now, the climate change deniers have been in retreat, humbled by the thumping weight of scientific evidence. More than 10,000 reputable, peer-reviewed climate scientists believe the evidence that shows rapid shifts in global temperature are caused by human activity. Seven -- that's seven -- doubt it. But Bellamy's increasingly erratic outbursts over the past year have given the beleaguered band of anti-environmentalists a fresh gallon of petrol to fuel their flailing pro-carbon crusade." (Johann Hari, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Earth has 10,000 climate scientists? And just 7 doubt AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming)? Bray and von Storch, somewhat radically, actually polled climate scientists with the question: “To what extent do you agree or disagree that climate change is mostly the result of anthropogenic causes? A value of 1 indicates “strongly agree” and a value of 7 indicates “strongly disagree” (“The Perspectives of Climate Scientists on Global Climate Change, 2003”), receiving 530 valid responses. Here's how they describe the result:

Descriptive statistics are as follows:
Mean = 3.62; Std. Error of mean = .080; Median = 3.00; Std. deviation = 1.84; Variance = 3.386
1 [strongly agree] 50 (9.4% of valid responses)
2 134 (25.3% of valid responses)
3 112 (21.1% of valid responses)
4 75 (14.2% of valid responses)
5 45 (8.5% of valid responses)
6 60 (10.8% valid responses)
7 [strongly disagree] 54 (9.7% of valid responses)

These results, i.e. the mean of 3.62, seem to suggest that consensus is not all that strong and only 9.4% of the respondents “strongly agree” that climate change is mostly the result of anthropogenic causes. This is however, a slight rise in consensus of the same survey conducted in 1996. (See "The Not So Clear Consensus on Climate Change" [.pdf] for more)

So, according to Hari, 75 with no opinion and 152 of 159 who believed otherwise a year earlier have been converted to believers, leaving just 7 doubters. Given the increasingly rough ride experienced by such articles of faith as the hokey Hockey Stick Graph, studies indicating frenetic recent Solar activity and Hansen's downward revision of estimated climate GHG sensitivity, we find that rather difficult to believe. Gee whiz, Hari old chap, we think your use of statistics to be a trifle cavalier.

Actually, Hari is nearer the mark than he knows because catastrophic AGW is certainly a belief thing and it definitely does tend to resolve to a believer/non-believer demarcation (though somewhat less so among actual climate scientists). The real question is, naturally, what supports these beliefs? There doesn't appear to be any contention that Earth has warmed since 1880, that said warming is something less than 1 °C and that, should this trend continue, Earth will be about 1.5 °C warmer in 2100 than it was in 1880. (There should be enough approximations and conditionals in the statement that everyone should be able to accept it without argument.)

Where things become contentious is the views of the so-called "real-worlders" as opposed those of the "virtual-worlders."

Real-worlders look at empirical data, extrapolate estimated trends and derive, well, pretty ordinary numbers suggesting that the planet is not doing anything it has not done many times before - they see no emergency.

Virtual-worlders, on the other hand, view the output of GCMs as data and derive most extraordinary numbers, screaming 'crisis' as their virtual worlds self-immolate in ever more spectacular fashion.

Lest anyone have any illusions, JunkScience.com doesn't use the terms "real-worlders" and "virtual-worlders" in discussions but refers to the two camps as "historicals" and "hystericals" respectively (yes, that's derogatory and prejudicial but we have learned to view GCMs and their advocates with a very jaundiced eye). We have been challenged many times over our "lack of faith" in General Circulation Climate Models (GCMs), an interesting way of putting it since we see nothing spiritual in computer-generated gibberish (we're not including voodoo science as a religious experience). In fairness, good models are wonderful research and design tools - take, for example, models used to design components for the electrical gadgets so many of use as a matter of course, excellent models of fairly well understood phenomena that so emulate the real world that results can be used with moderate to high confidence. Unfortunately, climate models fall woefully short of this category - not for the want of skilled programmers but simply because we lack understanding of the hugely complex entity we are attempting to model.

Now, always ready to change our position if the facts should change, if anyone has managed to recreate say, Earth's global mean temperature track for the period 1880-2000 (we'd accept 1880-1979 or some reasonable facsimile) as GCM output then we'd love to hear from you - telling us precisely which model you used, which initialisation files and what forcing values you supplied (so we can indulge that repeatability thing - apparently a bad habit of ours). We are particularly interested in "frozen" versions to be used for upcoming IPCC AR4 simulations (GISS Model "E," for example).

Qualifiers: any track that manages to stay within ±1.5 °C (i.e. 2 to 3 times the estimated change since 1880 or roughly twice the error margin for the estimated global mean 1961-1990) of a recognised historical global mean temperature reconstruction (GHCN, N C DC...) will be deemed "accurate" provided it is reasonably consistent (i.e. not using the entire 3 °C range starting low and ending high but a similar track perhaps a degree or two high or low).

Note that approximating a 30-year average at some point in the 20th Century is meaningless unless you can demonstrate a reasonable facsimile of the whole century's annual mean temperature track (we've managed to generate "correct" mean temperatures with truly bizarre temperature tracks while probing some models' coded sensitivity to various forcings).

Failure to track falling Earth temperatures following explosive volcanic events will not disqualify.

Trend timing: There is some contention here since some of us believe ±5 years (spanning virtually an entire sunspot cycle) should be adequate to show response to trend-inducing forcings. However, since this is so far beyond the demonstrated capabilities of known GCMs a response timing of ±10 years will be deemed adequate, at least until we see if we can get some entries.

Note that we are only seeking a moderately accurate global mean temperature facsimile to start, we'll get around to such little aberrations as the American "Dustbowl" and Sahel drought events if anyone has a model that can establish a coarse temperature. So, as they say, "Our operators are standing by..."

"African Drought and Global Warming" - "A new climate modeling study presented this week at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in New Orleans suggests that much of Africa will experience increasing drought as global warming progresses in the coming decades. This has been the most difficult, and yet the most important, aspect of global warming to predict: how will climate change on a local and regional basis in the future? People are most affected by how weather will change where they live, not by how much the global average temperature is changing. And, on a whole, humanity is more sensitive to changes in rainfall than to temperature." (Roy Spencer, TCS)

The Week That Was May 28, 2005 (SEPP)

"Antarctic Ice: A Global Warming Snow Job?" - "Climate scientists have long suspected that warming the oceans around a very cold continent is likely to dramatically increase snowfall. Consider Antarctica. It’s plenty chilly, dozens of degrees below freezing, and it’s surrounded by water. The warmer the water, the greater the evaporation from its surface, and, obviously, the more moisture it contributes to the local atmosphere.

So, when this moisture gets swirled up by a common cyclone, do you think it’s going to fall as rain in Antarctica?

A recent study, no shocker to real climatologists (but perhaps to climate doomsayers), demonstrates this simple physics. It appears in the latest SciencExpress, and it shows that the vast majority of the Antarctic landmass is rapidly gaining ice and snow cover.

Obviously this moisture comes from the sea. And, being deposited in solid form on the land-way-down-under, this lowers the earth’s sea level." (World Climate Report)

Unspinning 'global warming' realities (EnviroSpin Watch)

Aha! So 'global warming' does create jobs - for the boys: "Aspen hires global warming manager" - "ASPEN - Dan Richardson, a Glenwood Springs city councilman and consultant in "performance building," has been named Aspen's new global warming project manager. The post was created in conjunction with the city's Canary Initiative, a multi-pronged approach to reducing global warming that the Aspen City Council unveiled in March. He'll earn $70,970 a year." (Vail Daily)

"Folly or not, theories aim to reduce storms" - "Scientists are undeterred as past failures take wind out of funding." (Houston Chronicle)

"Hurricane season could renew global warming debate" - "MIAMI - If hurricanes again pound the United States this summer, their roar is likely to be accompanied by the din of another storm -- an angry debate among U.S. scientists over the impact of global warming. Last season's $45 billion devastation, when 15 tropical storms spawned nine hurricanes in the Atlantic and Caribbean, prompted climatologists to warn of a link to warming temperatures. But hurricane experts say the unusual series of hurricanes, four of which slammed into Florida in a six-week period, was the result of a natural 15- to 40-year cycle in Atlantic cyclone activity." (Reuters)

"US told to face up to climate change" - "The environment secretary, Margaret Beckett, says Washington is not doing enough to help the fight against global warming." (The Guardian)

"Canada: Greenhouse gases growing faster than economy" - "Canada is losing ground in the climate change battle, with new federal government figures revealing that greenhouse gas emissions grew faster than the economy in 2003, the first time this has happened since 1996." (Toronto Star)

"Brussels focuses on effort to tackle climate change" - "The European Commission will step up attempts to tackle climate change this week amid concern that international progress is again being stalled by the US.

Uninterrupted by France's No vote, the European Union's executive will also consider prospects for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from aviation as part of “Green Week”, which this year will concentrate on climate change.

Stavros Dimas, the European Union's environment commissioner, said: “Climate change is one of our biggest environmental challenges and a major threat to our economies. Our aim in bringing together key players and stakeholders during Green Week is not only to listen but also to try to move towards workable and cost-effective solutions, particularly in view of the further efforts that will be needed to achieve global reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases.”

But Green Week, timed to lead up to the United Nations World Environment Day this Sunday, when mayors from around the world will adopt measures to create greener cities, will take place against a backdrop of uncertainty over the prospects for international action on climate change." (Financial Times)

"Summary Of The Twenty-second Sessions Of The Subsidiary Bodies Of The Un Framework Convention On Climate Change" - "The twenty-second sessions of the Subsidiary Bodies (SB 22) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) took place from 19-27 May 2005, at the Maritim Hotel in Bonn, Germany. The sessions were attended by almost 1600 participants representing 156 Parties to the Convention, one observer State, and numerous UN agencies, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs)." (IISD)

"The Climate Does Not Look Good" - "LONDON, May 30 - -The prospects for progress on climate change at the G8 summit in July do not look too good, going by the content of a leaked document." (IPS)

"G8 will not set targets to cut global warming" - "The G8 summit is to discuss the role of nuclear power in reducing climate change - but it is not preparing to set new targets or a timetable to reduce global warming, according to a leaked document." (London Independent)

"Leaked G8 draft angers green groups" - "A leak of the draft communiqué on climate change for the G8 summit has dismayed green lobbyists by failing to include a single target or timetable to achieve greater action.

The draft, which Downing Street said was only work in progress and was being improved, spells out the danger of inaction to combat global warming. It says: "If we miss this opportunity and fail to give a clear sense of direction, then we will be locked into an unsustainable future that will threaten our long-term security and prosperity." (The Guardian)

"Africa gains in carbon balance" - "The government has decided to invest in an African project to offset carbon dioxide emissions created by all G8 events, air travel, local transport and meetings." (The Guardian)

Big Warming captured by Bakuninites? "3m homes 'should be demolished' to cut global warming" - "Some 3.2 million homes must be demolished over the next 45 years to fulfil the Government's aspirations for tackling global warming, academics have warned. The report, by researchers at Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute and Heriot Watt University, is bound to re-ignite the controversy caused by the proposed demolition of 400,000 homes in the Midlands and the North." (London Telegraph)

Russian anarchist Mikhail A. Bakunin (1814-1876) delivered such gems as: The passion for destruction is also a creative passion. It's a shame these wannabe home-mulchers didn't read a little more about Bakunin, then they might have noticed another of his quotes: Idealism is the despot of thought, just as politics is the despot of will. Come to think of it, Bakunin had rather a lot to say about revolt, worms turning, the State and liberty, etc. that home-razing bureaucrats might want to consider with themselves as accessible symbols and representatives of said State.

"Wolves teach experts about global warming" - "Gray wolves could emerge as a "canary in the coal mine" of global warming by suggesting how climate change will affect species around the world, researchers say. "We're not so much looking at wolves as a predator but as an indicator," says environmental scientist Christopher Wilmers of the University of California-Berkeley. In the past century, average temperatures have climbed about a degree worldwide, and further increases of 2 to 10 degrees are expected by 2100, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says. More extreme weather could result, and winter is expected to shorten in some regions. That would affect animals and the entire environment." (USA TODAY)

"Small species back-up giant marsupial climate change extinction claim" - "Thinking small in a time when everything was big has helped Queensland researchers to unearth new evidence that climate change, instead of humans, was responsible for wiping out Australian giant marsupials or megafauna 40,000 years ago. Instead of only excavating 'trophy specimens' such as giant kangaroos and wombats, the researchers from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and Queensland Museum performed the first systematic analysis of a site in the fossil rich Darling Downs region of south-eastern Queensland. Reported in the journal Memoirs of the Queensland Museum tomorrow (Tuesday 31 May) they found smaller species, dependent on a wetter environment, had also disappeared. By systematically analysing a 10 metre deep section of creek bed, the team uncovered 44 species, ranging from land snails, frogs, lizards and small mammals to giant wombats and kangaroos including many species previously unknown to have occurred in the Darling Downs fossil record. The results suggest that the extinction of Darling Downs megafauna was caused by a massive shift in climate rather than by the arrival of humans who over hunted animals or destroyed habitats by burning the landscape." (Research Australia)

Despite this receiving reasonably broad coverage in Australia, including the portion about Australia cooling and drying over the millennia, it will do little to slow the "Global warming threatens drought" drumbeat. It's a pretty easy sell here since non-monsoonal regions have hot, dry summers and much of the population associates summer with warm, summer with dry and hence warm with dry. Being such an arid land makes drought a great scare threat here (well, in modern urban areas you could just about hold a reign of terror with a balloon on a stick in these days of media-driven hysteria but I digress) so drought is both easily associated with warmth and a very useful tactic to scare the populace about possible warming definitely being something to fear. Expect some fairly noisy activity by Australia's Big Warming branch offices before Australians get to thinking a return to warmer, wetter conditions and a more lush local environment may not just be too bad an idea.

Parenthetically, despite what you probably see in the media regarding Australian drought (the "normal" state 5 years out of 7 for the bulk of the country), the 20th Century saw Australia get slightly warmer and slightly wetter. Not that any realistically anticipated warming will save us from eventually having to bite the bullet and move water from the wet tropical north to where the major population concentrations are but that's for later, isn't it?

"Tony Juniper: Aviation is fastest-growing source of C02 emissions" - "To fly or not to fly? Many of us facing a long journey, or even a short one, would not even consider the question. Cheaper flights to ever-more destinations prove irresistible to the travelling public, while business travel is seen as inevitable in a global market place. But increased demand for flights threatens the future of our planet. Aviation is the fastest-growing source of carbon dioxide emissions, the biggest cause of climate change. And because the pollution is released at a high altitude, it has a greater impact. Extreme climate events have already become more frequent. In 2003, the heatwave in Europe resulted in 26,000 premature deaths and cost $13.5bn (£7.5bn). Around the world, climate change already kills 160,000 people every year." (London Independent)

"Revealed: The real cost of air travel" - "It might be cheap, but it's going to cost the earth. The cut-price airline ticket is fuelling a boom that will make countering global warming impossible." (London Independent)

"Plane speaking" - "Thanks to low-cost airlines and super-size jets, the world has got smaller. Unfortunately, it's also got hotter. Lucy Siegle becomes a carbon counter." (The Observer)

But wait! There's more... "Greenpeace in rift with US branch over free flights competition prize" - "The American wing of Greenpeace has been accused by its colleagues in Britain of sabotaging global attempts to combat climate change, by giving away flying holidays to remote parts of the world. To the dismay of its British counterparts, Greenpeace USA is offering holidays to Pacific islands and remote parts of South America as prizes for recruiting new members or campaigning against nuclear power." (London Independent)

"Greenpeace row over un-PC prizes" - "Greenpeace's reputation for fighting climate change has been damaged by an embarrassing row over the charity's US arm offering exotic foreign holidays as prizes in a global warming competition." (The Guardian)

"Hot air from green rockers Radiohead" - "THOM YORKE, the latest pop star turned green warrior, has himself been found wanting in his efforts to save the world from global warming. His band Radiohead are significant contributors to greenhouse gases, according to an environmental audit of their recent tour and record production." (John Elliott, Sunday Times)

"Climate change: Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of law" - "Governments, oil producers, coal-fired power plants or their corporate inheritors, even auto companies which make gas-guzzling SUVs -- all are tempting targets for climate-change lawsuits in the future, says a small but growing body of legal opinion." (Agence France-Presse)

Yes, M' Lud, 'tis indeed our contention that on or about the first day of June, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Three, the defendant did exhale the molecule of carbon dioxide which subsequently intercepted an unspecified quantum of Infrared Radiation from the Earth's surface and, in the excitation of its newly enervated state, said molecule precipitated the chain of events ultimately leading to the creation of the storm named as co-defendant and subsequent dousing of the plaintiff's cat.

"No more middle of the road: the crunch is coming for pollution" - "With Brits still buying gas-guzzling cars, the greens on the warpath and the Government missing its targets for slashing CO2 emissions, the financial climate for motorists may be about to change. Severin Carrell reports" (London Independent)

"Owners of gas-guzzling cars to be hit by five-fold tax increase" - "Motorists who drive fuel-hungry BMWs, people carriers and Range Rovers face a five-fold increase in road tax under radical plans to combat Britain's spiralling greenhouse gas emissions." (London Independent)

"U.S. reluctant to mirror Europe's high gas taxes" - "For decades, European countries have imposed high taxes on fuel to encourage conservation and fuel-efficient technologies while funding public transportation." (San Diego Union-Tribune)

"Coca-Cola to replace vending machines in Japan to go eco-friendly" - "The emblematic US firm Coca-Cola said Friday it will replace all its 980,000 drink vending machines across Japan in a bid to reduce gas emissions in line with the landmark Kyoto Protocol." (Agence France-Presse)

"World's mayors seek to fight global warming, make cities greener" - "SAN FRANCISCO - Mayors from some of the world's biggest cities are gathering here this week to forge a set of international guidelines for sustainable urban living - billed as a municipal version of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming that the United States never ratified. The Urban Environmental Accords, to be signed at the United Nations World Environment Day Conference, is the latest example of cities seeking to tackle climate change despite reluctance from their national governments." (Associated Press)

Something in the water out there? "State to tackle global warming" - "SACRAMENTO - Bucking the Bush administration, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is set to unveil an ambitious plan this week to combat global warming that would make California the largest state in the nation to set concrete goals for cutting greenhouse gases, the Mercury News has learned. Under an executive order Schwarzenegger plans to sign Wednesday, the governor will call on state officials to develop new ways to reduce greenhouse gases by 11 percent over the next five years, 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050." (Mercury News)

"Solar, wind energy fail Exxon profit test" - "IRVING, Texas - It's the economics, stupid. Or so says Exxon. The economics of solar and wind energy is why the world's largest publicly traded energy company is not making any bets on the environmentally friendly power sources now, and does not plan to any time soon.

"It's an uneconomic niche and our business is not built around the expectation of a bunch of subsidies to make a profit," said Scott Nauman, manager of the economics and energy division at Exxon. "We want a business that is robust on its own merits." (Reuters)

"Christopher Booker's notebook: Wicks betrays his ignorance of wind power" - "When Malcolm Wicks, our new energy minister, last week launched his crusade to build "2,000 more wind turbines" across the UK, he was guilty of such a stunning act of disinformation we can only believe he did so from ignorance." London Telegraph)

"Energy proposal divides Highland" - "The debate over the proposal to construct 19 wind-powered turbines on a western Highland County ridge has created an acrimonious rift among individuals who make environmental causes part of their life's work." (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

"Forget about wind farms. Nuclear power is the future" - "We are energy junkies, but there's a safe, clean answer to our cravings" (Max Hastings, The Guardian)

"Uranium mining boost" - "THE Howard Government has foreshadowed a dramatic expansion of Australia's uranium mining industry, identifying Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam as future export markets as South East Asia becomes a player in nuclear energy." (News.com.au)

"UPI Energy Watch" - "Russia will construct the world's first floating nuclear power plant, according to an official from the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy." (United Press International)

"Sweden to Go Ahead with Barseback Nuclear Closure" - "STOCKHOLM - Sweden will close its Barseback 2 nuclear reactor as planned on May 31, the government said on Monday. The decision to close the 600 megawatt reactor comes despite criticism that power is already short in the Nordic region and that power prices are likely to rise." (Reuters)

"New Climate Stewardship Bill Would Subsidize Nuclear Development" - "WASHINGTON, DC, May 27, 2005 - A new version of the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Bill includes financial subsidies for development of nuclear power, a provision that has drained environmentalist support from the measure to limit the emission of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the United States. With about five percent of the world's population, the United States emits roughly one-quarter of the world's climate warming greenhouse gases.

Senators John McCain, an Arizona Republican, and Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat, introduced a modified version of their climate change bill, the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act on Thursday. It includes the provisions of the Climate Stewardship Act of 2005 introduced in February, along with new provisions to promote the development and deployment of low or zero greenhouse gas emitting technologies." (ENS)

These guys don't get it. Greens aren't really worried about carbon or "global warming" - carbon is the stuff of life and the fossil record indicates Earth's biosphere positively booms during warmer periods - their problem is with people:

  • The world has a cancer, and that cancer is man. -- Alan Gregg, former longtime official of the Rockerfeller Foundation
  • Man is always and everywhere a blight on the landscape. -- John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club
  • Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental. -- Dave Forman, Earth First! and Sierra Club director (1995-1997)
  • Human beings, as a species, have no more value than slugs. -- John Davis, editor of Earth First! journal
  • Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun. -- Paul Ehrlich
  • The only real good technology is no technology at all. -- John Shuttleworth, Friends of the Earth manual writer
  • It would be little short of disastrous for us to discover the source of cheap, clean, abundant energy, because of what we might do with it. -- Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute
  • Isn't the only hope for the planet that the industrialised civilizations collapse? Isn't it our responsibility to bring that about? -- Maurice Strong, head of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and Executive Officer for Reform in the Office of the Secretary General of the United Nations.
  • A massive campaign must be launched to de-develop the United States. De-development means bringing our economic system (especially patterns of consumption) into line with the realities of ecology and the world resource situation. -- Paul Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich
  • The immediate source of ecological crisis is capitalism, which is a cancer in the biosphere. -- Murray Bookchin, Institute for Social Ecology
  • We can't let other countries have the same number of cars, the same industrialization, we have in the U.S. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are. -- Michael Oppenheimer, Environmental Defense Fund

The bulk of the above quotes from The Environmentalists' Little Green Book, ISBN 0-615-11628-0

"Senate panel orders study of offshore drilling" - "A Senate committee took a step Thursday toward lifting the federal moratorium on offshore energy drilling by directing the Interior Department to study how much natural gas is contained in the outer continental shelf." (Scripps Howard News Service)

Sounds like someone's been puffing the magic dragon anyway: "Grass-burning power station on the way" - "Britain's first major electricity plant to be fuelled by grass will begin construction later this year. The £6.5m power station in Staffordshire will be burn locally cultivated elephant grass and will be able to supply 2,000 homes with electricity." (The Guardian)

"UN killing trees in forest of reports" - "Bold statements about the need to save the world's trees poured into the United Nations last week at a massive conference called the Forum on Forests. And yet the world body produces so many reports daily it is known as the globe's most prodigious paper factory. Which wouldn't be so bad if someone were getting some benefit from all the printed words. Alas, most of the reports go unread, their shelf life being just a few days as they pass from racks marked "today's documents," to "recent documents," and finally to giant plastic bins for recycling. The UN conservatively estimates 700 million pages stream off its printing presses every year. Critics say the total is closer to 2 billion." (New York Daily News)

"UN forum on forest preservation ends in failure" - "UNITED NATIONS - Despite alarming global deforestation rates, estimated at approximately 9.4 million hectares per year, a UN conference on forest preservation ended with the conference chairman calling the event a "failure." "At the end, we didn't agree," said Colombian chairman Manuel Rodriguez Becerra. "It's a collective failure.... We were not able to agree in making decisions that are relevant for addressing the huge deforestation, the huge degradation of forests." The final resolution from the UN Forum on Forests held for two weeks at UN headquarters in New York, delayed all decision-making to the next conference scheduled for February 2006. Rodriguez Becerra blamed the failure on a fundamental disagreement between some Northern and Southern countries." (AFP)

"Fiddling while Siberia burns: 'lungs of Europe' under threat from forest fires" - "Russia's pristine forests are the lungs of Europe. But vast swathes are being destroyed by global warming and loggers' greed - and ill-equipped firefighters are powerless to act, reports Steve Connor" (London Independent) | Huge rise in Siberian forest fires puts planet at risk, scientists warn (The Guardian)

"Paving road may mean riches, ruin in Amazon forest" - "SANTAREM, Brazil - Brazilian soybean farmers expect a rutted, muddy road through the Amazon will turn into a highway of gold for them thanks to plans to pave it over the next three years, but environmentalists fear the project will hasten the region's deforestation." (Reuters)

"Coffee trial survives insects, but not vandals"  -"VANDALS have ruined the world's first and only outdoor trial of genetically engineered coffee. But it emerged last week that enough results were salvaged from the trial in French Guiana to show that an inserted toxin gene protected the GM coffee plants against moth larvae." (New Scientist)

"Kenya scientists plant trial GMO pest-proof maize" - "NAIROBI - Kenyan researchers on Friday began a trial planting of maize genetically modified to resist insects, saying it was a step toward reducing the 20 percent of crop lost every year because of pests. The Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) says it hopes the variety will resist the Stem Borer larvae which is blamed for the east African country dependence on maize imports, hitting the incomes of farmers and reducing food security." (Reuters)

"Japan plans to reassess import of genetically modified canola from Canada" - "TOKYO - Genetically engineered canola believed from Canada has been found growing in the wild in Japan, prompting concerns among farmers and environmentalists in a nation generally wary of such crops. The Japanese government says the import of canola seed from Canada is considered safe. But the agriculture ministry indicated Japan intends to reassess the situation soon. The conclusions could affect one of Canada's main exports to Japan, a key agricultural market." (Canadian Press)

"Genetically engineered (GE) crops contaminate fields and food around the world" - "Montreal, 30 May 2005 - Greenpeace, farmers' organizations and community representatives today called on delegates to the Biosafety Protocol meeting to urgently introduce strict liability regulations to make companies accountable for the contamination and damage caused by their GE products." (Press Release)

"Canada Rapped for 'Censoring' Biotech Critics" - "BROOKLIN, Canada - A top African scientist and advocate of strong regulation of genetically engineered seeds and crops is demanding punitive action against Canada if authorities continue to try to block delegates like him from taking part in U.N.-sponsored talks." (IPS)

"Italy calls for independent EU research on GMOs" - "BRUSSELS - Italy, known as skeptical about genetically modified (GMO) foods and crops, called on Monday for Europe's top food safety agency to use its own research when deciding if GMOs are safe -- not just that of the manufacturers. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is regularly asked for its independent scientific views on the safety risk of GMO products for entry into the EU's food chain, for consumption by humans and animals, and release into the environment as crops. EFSA's opinions are required by law if any country objects to a company's application to authorize a new GMO product on EU territory. The agency, set up in 2002, conducts its assessments based on data given by the biotech companies that make the GMOs." (Reuters)

"Fresh foods pesticide-free: study" - "Despite consumer concern about pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables, the great majority of such foods contain no detectable contamination, says a study based on federal data." (Canadian Press)

"Scientists Research Questions Few Others Would Bother to Ask" - "The proliferation of scientific journals and meetings makes it possible to publish or present papers whose conclusion inspires less "Wow! Who would have guessed?" and more "For this you got a Ph.D.?" (The Wall Street Journal)

"Nut allergy link to skin creams" - "Skin creams and soya milk have been linked to the massive increase in peanut allergy cases sweeping Britain, according to a UK government report. The report found that exposing infants to creams for eczema and nappy rash, and feeding them soya milk could both cause the potentially fatal allergic reactions." (Edinburgh Scotsman)

"'Developmental Reprogramming' Could Explain Cancer Risk" - "Researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center may have uncovered the reason why some people who are genetically predisposed to hormone-dependent cancers develop the disease as an adult, while others who are similarly susceptible don't." (Newswise)

"Scientists link plastic food containers with breast cancer" - "A chemical widely used in food packaging may be a contributing factor to women developing breast cancer, scientists have suggested." (The Guardian)

In the land of fruits and nuts: "Legislature Targets Toxic Risks in Products" - "Moving more assertively than lawmakers in other states, the California Legislature is stepping into a growing global debate over how to regulate potentially dangerous chemicals used in perfume, nail polish, plastic baby bottles, rubber ducks and thousands of other products." (Los Angeles Times)

"Vending Machines: Sweet Deal or Just Too Many Sweets?" - "Proponents, nearly all Democrats, argued that banning products of minimal nutritional value would help combat childhood obesity. But critics, mostly Republican, painted the bill as "feel good" legislation that would do little to fix the problem." (New York Times)

Guaranteed to light up tobacco nannies: "Tobacco control lobby is blowing smoke" - "CALLS for bans and restrictions on smoking in workplaces — particularly in bars and restaurants — are growing in strength. The tobacco control lobby promotes such measures as an important contribution to public health, through their impact on levels of exposure to “passive” smoke and the “denormalisation” of smoking. As an economist, I have no wish to argue this question. However, the debate has increasingly strayed on to “home ground” — the economic effects of smoking bans. Tobacco control groups claim that bans have no effect on, or are positive for, the economics of the hospitality sector, but that sector itself indicates strongly otherwise. Since the Government’s forthcoming Health Improvement and Protection Bill is likely to implement proposals for a restaurant smoking ban and pub smoking restrictions in the UK, where 600,000 workers earn their living in bars and pubs, it is worth checking carefully the quality of these claims." (Douglas McWilliams, London Times)

May 27, 2005

"PETA or Medical Research?" - "People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals launched a campaign last week against a drug testing company for alleged violations of animal welfare laws. It’s a smokescreen for animal rights extremists’ real agenda — a complete ban on the use of laboratory animals." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Call to use DDT to fight malaria" - "Mozambique's foreign minister speaks sense on DDT, calling for DDT to be used or for the rich countries that oppose it to come up with an equally good alternative." (AFM)

"Disease strike root" - "If this story is correct and the WHO is going to be using DDT to control malaria in India, we warmly welcome it. For far too long the WHO in Geneva (as opposed to the far more sensible WHO Southern Africa Malaria Control team in Harare, Zimbabwe) have advocated against DDT use. If they are now promoting it in India, more lives will be saved." (AFM)

"Despite Int'l Agreement, DDT Will Not Disappear Overnight" - "Nor should DDT disappear overnight - if it did, hundreds of thousands of people would be at risk from malaria and could die. Insisting on a phase out of DDT for malaria control would be disastrous and deadly." (AFM)

Oh boy... "Environmentalists shun tick time bomb" - "NEWTON -- Score one for the environmentalists in this first round of the battle against the ticks. A skirmish occurred after two city officials agreed to allow a private company to install small boxes containing a pesticide in a local park, until environmentally conscious neighbors put their foot down and squashed the idea." (Boston Globe)

"A new record for PBDEs in people" - "The newest data on polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants in U.S. residents include the highest concentrations yet reported in humans. The data reveal some disturbing trends, experts agree." (Environmental Science & Technology)

"Is your house a home to hidden health risks?" - "Indoor air can become a smog of synthetic chemicals, even in a well-maintained modern home." (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)

Today's eye-roller: "Toxin in plastics harming unborn boys" - "Scientists say chemicals have gender bending effect." (The Guardian)

Our Swollen Future

"A&E doctors call for ban on pointed kitchen knives" - "Long pointed kitchen knives should be banned to reduce violent crime and deaths from stabbing, say accident and emergency doctors in this week's BMJ." (BMJ-British Medical Journal)

... and sharp tools, fence pailings, ooh! rocks & house bricks - they're dangerous, cast iron frying pans, heavy books, golf clubs, any sports bats larger than ping pong paddles... Sheesh! It's not the implement guys, it's the dill wielding it.

"Obesity: Time bomb or dud?" - "Controversial new research suggests that extra pounds might not cost as many lives as previously believed." (USA Today)

"Study Tying Longer Life to Extra Pounds Draws Fire" - "The new federal study was challenged by scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health and the American Cancer Society as well as a heart disease researcher." (Gina Kolata, New York Times)

"EU Parliament waters down draft anti-obesity rules" - "BRUSSELS - Food high in salt, sugar and fat could still carry a healthy tag after the European Parliament voted on Thursday to water down key European Union draft rules to fight obesity. Consumer organisations criticised the vote while EU lawmakers blamed the decision on heavy lobbying by food firms opposed to tougher labelling requirements." (Reuters)

"France, Germany, Spain call for autonomous UN environment agency" - "BERLIN - The environment ministers of France, Germany and Spain called for a beefed-up United Nations environment agency, a proposal opposed by the United States. "The time has come: we need a strong UN organisation for the environment," said France's ecology minister Serge Lepeltier, Juergen Trittin of Germany and Spain's Christina Narbona Ruiz, in an open letter to appear in Friday's edition of the left-leaning Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper." (AFP)

Socialists sure love bureaucracies, don't they? Never seems to occur to 'em that the most socially and environmentally useful strategy might be to burn the damn edifice down and take a tax loss.

"Environmentalists bypass Washington to pressure corporations" - "After four and a half years of policy defeats at the hands of the Bush administration, some green groups are finding they can achieve greater success outside Washington by exerting pressure directly on corporations." (Scripps Howard News Service)

Without the puffery the above parses to: "pressure groups intimidate weakest individuals to bypass democracy" - known as "extortion" in the real world.

"Midday sun holds the key to good health" - "Scientists at The University of Manchester have today unveiled new research which claims that going out in the midday sun, without sunscreen, is good for you." (University of Manchester)

"The Discount for the Future" - "Even if there is to be a sizeable climate change over the next hundred years, is it worth trying to reduce it? What would be the long-term benefit relative to the short-term cost? One can draw some very broad conclusions on the matter." (Garth W. Paltridge, TCS)

"Alaska scientist warns of impact of permafrost thaw" - "ANCHORAGE - A warming climate has heated much of Alaska's permafrost to temperatures just below freezing and drastic changes are expected in the coming decades as that layer of frozen soil thaws, a prominent scientist said on Wednesday. Vladimir Romanovsky, an associate professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Geophysical Institute said the impact is already apparent. In Fairbanks a path has buckled into undulating waves, houses are slumping into thawed ground and stands of birch trees are toppling as dying forested areas melt into swamps." (Reuters)

"UN food agency warns sub-Saharan Africa risks most from global warming" - "ROME - A UN food agency warned that people in sub-Saharan African countries are most in danger of starvation and food security difficulties in the light of the latest findings on global warming. "Climate change threatens to increase the number of the world's hungry by reducing the area of land available for farming in developing countries," the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in a report." (AFP) | Climate change threatens crop losses, more hungry people - UN (UN News Centre)

"Draft G8 deal on climate change 'lets US off hook'" - "THE Prime Minister's aim of securing a breakthrough on climate change at the G8 summit appears destined to end in failure, according to a leaked document seen by The Scotsman. As Tony Blair launches a diplomatic offensive today to win support for Britain's aims on Africa and global warming during its G8 presidency, an official draft communiqué reveals how limited any agreement on the latter is likely to be. Mr Blair wants the leaders of the world's richest nations to agree man-made pollutants are causing the Earth's temperature to rise - something the United States, under pressure from the fossil fuel lobby, is reluctant to accept. But the document, written by British government officials after negotiations with the US and other G8 members, states only that mankind is "contributing" to global warming. It makes no reference to the US's refusal to sign up to the Kyoto agreement on reducing carbon emissions and fails to propose any targets for cutting pollution after the agreement runs out in 2012." (The Scotsman)

"UK: Industry chiefs' environment plea" - "A group of Britain's leading industrialists has written to the prime minister urgently demanding long-term policies to combat climate change. The heads of the 12 leading firms say climate change is a huge challenge that needs serious investment by business. But they say they cannot invest because they are not sure what future government policies on climate will be." (BBC)

Not quite. Hysterical fears of climate change pose a huge challenge to business and investment.

"Jobs Group Warns Workers: McCain's 'Climate Stewardship Act' Will Still Cost Over 600,000 Jobs" - "WASHINGTON, May 26 -- Today United for Jobs warned workers that the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act will cost the U.S. economy over 600,000 jobs and that new language in the bill dealing with nuclear power does nothing to reduce the economic impacts of the cap and trade provisions of the bill." (PRNewswire)

Hey lookit! algore's still at it: "Gore calls Hopkins graduates to activism" - "Former Vice President Al Gore asked graduates of the Johns Hopkins University yesterday to help avert an impending environmental crisis by working to raise the political will to act. "What is now staring us in the face is the prospect of an imminent crisis," said Gore, who championed environmental causes as a member of Congress and as vice president. "We can still avert the worst."

Gore warned the students that global warming is a "global emergency" and that "the relationship between human beings and the planet where we live has been inalienably changed." (Baltimore Sun)

"Who will power the future?" - "Who needs the government to assist when Toyota, Honda and the Once-Big Three all are working on their own fuel cell cars?" (Patrick J. Michaels, The Washington Times)

"Sir, what's biodiesel...?" (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Tempers warm at Southern meeting" - "Global warming dominated discussion at Southern Co.'s annual shareholders meeting Wednesday, with activists lining up at the microphones to accuse the power giant of foot-dragging. Southern Co. Chief Executive David Ratcliffe fielded the critique amiably but pointedly, while many in the audience of stockholders fidgeted, looked bored or — in one senior citizen's case — acted fed up." (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

"Nuclear power: a convert" - "Mark Lynas was sure it would be a disaster - and then he looked at the alternatives." (New Statesman)

What? "Nuclear power is wrong answer" - "WASHINGTON - The nuclear power industry and its allies in Congress are attempting to make the case that a revival of this deservedly moribund industry could help the world's efforts to combat the looming crisis of human-caused climate change. But like everything else in the nuclear industry, which is increasingly hidden from public view by homeland security concerns, the reality belies the surface impression. In fact, using nuclear power to address climate change would not only be ineffective, it would be counterproductive and would inevitably fail - hastening the global warming the world is trying desperately to prevent." (Michael Mariotte, Baltimore Sun) [my emphasis]

I must have missed something in this piece - Mike Mariotte claims nukes cause global warming?

"Clean coal: Soot gets another look" - "Energy analysts say evolving technologies such as hybrid cars could add to the demand placed on already-stretched electricity networks. That potential new demand, along with current trends among industry and consumers, is turning the spotlight on a sooty old friend: coal." (Toronto Globe and Mail)

Uh-huh... "Wind power: Taking energy from thin air" - "Wind power, as one of the world's fastest growing energy sources, is rapidly evolving and gaining mainstream support." (Toronto Globe and Mail)

"The fuel that's locked in ice" - "Canadian scientists are leading efforts to tap vast deposits of natural gas hydrates within the frozen earth, Patrick Brethour writes" (Toronto Globe and Mail)

"UK PM: We must accept risks" - "Britain was in grave danger of "blowing our chance" to become a world leader in biotechnology, Tony Blair warned as he called for a national debate on everyday risks faced by the public. The Prime Minister, pointing to concerns such as genetically modified foods and the MMR jab, said: "We are in danger of having a wholly disproportionate attitude to the risks we should expect to run as a normal part of life." (London Independent)

"Biotech food debate spices up US scientist meeting" - "KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Critics of biotech foods spoke of stomach lesions and dead lab rats while backers of the technology cited increased crop production and hopes for healthier foods in a debate before a group of U.S. scientists on Thursday. "We believe that the current version of genetically modified crops are unsafe... they should be banned," Jeffrey Smith, director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, told members of the Association of Official Analytical Communities (AOAC)." (Reuters)

"Disparate biotech crop rules confusing" - "A confounding patchwork of biotech crop policies from state to state -- and within California, from one county to another -- is growing nationwide in response to the fast-changing industry, a new study has found. The sometimes contradictory laws and other regulations noted in the study by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology are causing widespread confusion for consumers and businesses involved, some industry observers say. And as new advances in biotech food are developed, the battle over how to deal with them will probably continue to be fought at the local level, according to Michael Rodemeyer, the Pew initiative's executive director." (Knight Ridder)

"Ventria BioScience finds Missouri producers unwelcoming" - "There may be fewer environmentalists to spar with in the Missouri Bootheel, but farmers have proven a formidable substitute. Leaving California for the Show-Me State has yet to yield a grain of pharmaceutical rice for Ventria BioScience. And until the Gordian knot of GM rice and markets is untied, many Missouri rice producers vow to continue fighting the company to protect their businesses.

The latest turn on Ventria’s bumpy ride came in late April when, for lack of time to secure permits, the company announced it wouldn’t be able to plant in the state this year. That came shortly after the company agreed to move away from the Bootheel entirely. Now, Ventria may shift some of its production to the Southeast, where it has already obtained USDA permission to grow acreage in North Carolina." (Delta Farm Press)

May 26, 2005

Timely rerun: "Stumping for Stem Cells" - "The most recent poll on California’s Proposition 71 concerning state funding of embryonic stem cell research indicates that 46 percent of likely voters support the measure, 39 percent oppose it and 15 percent are undecided." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Can This Patient Be Saved?" - "You would think that it would be a time to review past successes and look forward to a progress- filled future of furthering global health. Instead, the 58th Annual World Health Assembly -- the policy setting body of the World Health Organization -- is once again a showcase of not only how badly dysfunctional WHO really is, but how deadly are the consequences of this institutional disarray for the world's poor." (John Luik, TCS)

Oh boy... "Bird flu virus 'close to pandemic'" - "Expert warns estimate of 7.5m global deaths is optimistic" (The Guardian)

From the breathless blurts on this today it's unfortunately easy to picture said 'expert' optimistically (wistfully?) predicting pandemic with like, ooh, buckets of deaths. Certainly I'm no cheerleader for the WHO, haven't been since they abandoned their mission and traipsed off into cloud-cuckoo land in pursuit of lifestyle issues like tobacco, obesity and now alcohol but WHO's distraction likely will not see a repeat of the 1918/19 'Spanish' 'flu epidemic. Why not? Because, although shifts (major mutations) and drifts (minor mutations) in the influenza virus are anticipated and inevitable, making more lethal and more infectious strains equally inevitable, we lack the essential preconditions that preceded that disaster. In 1918 millions of men leaving the horrors of the First World War's trench warfare were crowded in transports and demobbing camps around the world - these were hardly men in the peak of health but stressed, relatively poorly nourished and crowded. Additionally, they had no antibiotic support to combat opportunistic bacterial infections so, whether they were immuno-compromised first by bacterial infection or made worse after the fact with additional infection, potentially lethal 'flu complications were serious then but are reduced to near-insignificance now by modern medicine.

"Infant formula ambush" - "At the meeting of the World Health Assembly if national positions are to reflect good science, they will oppose inappropriate strictures and baseless attacks on baby formula." (Henry I. Miller, The Washington Times)

"New cancer warning on food mulled" - "State officials are considering a requirement that grocery stores, retailers and restaurants alert customers about acrylamide, a carcinogen created when starchy foods like potatoes and breads are baked, roasted, fried or toasted." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Top doctor calls for 'Big Mac tax' to fight cancer" - "Scotland's leading cancer specialist is calling for a special tax on Big Macs and other fast food to help in the fight against the deadly disease." (Edinburgh Scotsman)

"Canada not helping to clear the air" - "Canada accounts for 42 per cent of all lead air pollution in North America, a new study from the Commission for Environmental Co-operation said in an annual report." (Toronto Globe and Mail)

"Plan to Test Downtown Dust Draws Ire" - "An Environmental Protection Agency plan to look for hazardous dust in buildings near ground zero was criticized yesterday by residents of Lower Manhattan and environmental advocates, who said it was deeply flawed and unrealistic." (New York Times)

"Study Links Garden Pesticides to Parkinson's Risk" - "LONDON - Gardeners should wear protective clothing when using pesticides, say scientists who have concluded in a new study that the chemicals can increase the risk of Parkinson's disease." (Reuters)

"Afterlife for Old Computers Is Envisioned in Council Bill" - "So many outdated computers, television sets and other pieces of electronic equipment just get thrown into the trash in New York that the City Council is considering what would be one of the toughest laws in the nation to force manufacturers to take the discarded devices back." (New York Times)

"Solar fireworks signal new space weather mystery" - "The most intense burst of solar radiation in five decades accompanied a large solar flare on January 20. It shook space weather theory and highlighted the need for new forecasting techniques, according to several presentations at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting this week in New Orleans." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office)

"Scientists at Pt. Reyes study cloud pollutants" - "At a secluded site along the rugged West Marin coast in California, scientists are trying to unlock the affect of fossil fuel on wet clouds - and how that relates to global warming - by measuring the fog and mist that often envelopes the shoreline." (Marin Independent Journal)

"Nuclear approach may help climate researchers pinpoint volcanic eruptions" - "There's gold in them thar rings. Tree rings that is, and Penn State researchers are using the Breazeale Nuclear Reactor to measure gold and link the rings to volcanic eruptions." (Penn State)

"Burnt coal from the age of dinosaurs sheds light on today's global warming" - "Oceanic anoxic events," which precede global warming and mass extinctions, are triggered by vast underground coal fires set ablaze by molten rock releasing huge quantities of methane and carbon dioxide. "If the incredibly high global temperatures that occurred during the Toarcian oceanic anoxic event were caused by burning coal…it doesn't take much imagination to realize what will happen if we burn most of the Earth's remaining fossil fuels over the coming century," said the researcher." (Field Museum)

"Snowpack in a Greenhouse?" - "Several scientific articles have been published in recent years suggesting that western U.S. temperatures are rising, snowpack is declining, and that greenhouse gas emissions are largely responsible." (George H. Taylor, TCS)

What delicious irony: "World Needs More than Sea Walls to Stop Floods" - "NIJMEGEN, Netherlands - Building higher and stronger dykes will not be enough to protect the world's low-lying areas against rising sea levels and global warming, a conference heard on Wednesday." (Reuters)

A significant portion of The Netherlands (literally lowlands) has been reclaimed from the sea since the 19th Century and here's a conference pontificating on how the very sea walls keeping them dry are no good. Go figure...

"EU orders 9% cut in Italy pollution allowances" - "BRUSSELS European Union regulators on Wednesday ordered a 9 percent reduction in air pollution allowed by permits that Italy is giving industry, seeking to ensure companies buy some allowances as the EU emissions-trading market nears completion. Italy must cut carbon-dioxide allowances to 232.5 million metric tons a year on average from 255.5 million tons to become the 24th nation in the EU trading system for energy and manufacturing companies, the European Commission said. The ruling on Italy's plan leaves only Greece without an approved program for the 2005-2007 period. "Italy has accepted our arguments and significantly cut the number of allowances," the EU environment commissioner, Stavros Dimas, said in a statement." (Bloomberg News)

"General Rent Seeker" - "The CEO of GE recently committed the company to "define the cutting edge in cleaner power and environmental technology" through increased R&D spending. He also pledged significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 2012 and doubling the revenue earned by cleaner technologies to $20 billion by 2010.

A commitment to improved environmental stewardship is commendable but hardly dramatic. Many companies have already raised the bar for their environmental standards. Some are using their actions to shape their image with the public.

The motivation for GE's initiative is not completely clear. However, for a company of GE's stature it is fair to ask, why didn't you do this earlier and do it with shareholders instead of politicians and the media? The setting and timing justify a little skepticism. Since we live in a world where images drive perceptions, it is prudent to apply the Reagan maxim of "trust but verify." (William O'Keefe, TCS)

"No backing down on wind power" - "In his first speech as Energy Minister, Malcolm Wicks indicated that the Government would not be backing away from investing in wind power. The Government sees wind power as one of the best ways to meet its target of generating 10 per cent of the UK's electricity from renewable energy source by 2010. However, in recent years the locating of wind farms has become increasingly controversial with protests from local people, concerns about their effects on wildlife and with sea-based programmes upon shipping." (Politics UK)

"Grid Capacity Squeeze Holds Back Eastern Europe Power Trade" - "BUDAPEST - Europe's bid to create a single market for electricity has run into trouble in the east as a shortage of cross-border transmission capacity hinders trade in countries like Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic." (Reuters)

"CSIRO shines a light on mining's triple bottom line" - "A new report by CSIRO and University of Sydney has opened up the full production chain for Australian industries to reveal that some industries, like mining, are more sustainable than generally assumed." (CSIRO Australia)

"WTO Talks a Threat to Environment - NGOs" - "BRUSSELS, May 25 - Laws protecting the environment, social well-being and health are increasingly coming under attack at international trade discussions, according to new analysis from a leading environmental group." (IPS)

"INTERVIEW - Frozen Crop Seeds to Guard Food Supplies - Expert" - "OSLO - A U.N.-backed plan to freeze millions of seeds will help safeguard food supplies from future shocks and preserve a legacy of farming dating back to the Stone Age, the newly appointed head of the project says. "The goal is to ensure the diversity of crops -- what I'd argue is the world's most valuable natural resource for human beings," Cary Fowler said after his appointment as head of the Rome-based Global Crop Diversity Trust on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"Tainted Biotech Maize Impounded at Irish Port" - "BRUSSELS - A United States consignment of genetically modified corn gluten feed tainted with an illegal strain has been impounded upon arrival at an Irish port, the European Commission said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"Research body develops GM rubber — Variety tolerant to drought, environment stress" - "THE Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII) has developed genetically modified rubber plants that have better drought resistance and increased environment stress tolerance." (Hindu Business Line)

"India: 20 Bt cotton strains available to farmers for sowing this year" - "FARMERS in Andhra Pradesh will have the option to grow at least seven genetically modified cotton varieties despite the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) denying permission to Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Ltd (Mahyco) to sell two varieties in the State.

With GEAC giving its go-ahead for commercial release of two more strains, NCs-145 Bunny Bt and NCS-207 Mallika BT, last week, 20 Bt cotton varieties are available to the farmers for cultivation this year. This is against the availability of just four varieties last year.

The number of strains available for sale this year is up mainly since GEAC has cleared six Bt cotton varieties for commercial release in North India. Till last year, no variety had been approved for sowing." (Hindu Business Line)

May 25, 2005

"Saving Africa" - "The political left has for decades had a monopoly on defining Africa's problems. The poverty and misery there are blamed on capitalism, multinational companies, lack of foreign aid and an uneven distribution of the world's recourses." (Nima Sanandaji and Tomas Brandberg, TCS)

"'Balancing' Science and Pseudo-Science at the New York Times" - To review a book on homeopathy titled Copeland's Cure by Natalie Robins, the Times chose Liesl Schillinger, a New Yorker arts editor and a regular contributor to the Book Review. The book is described as being a "social history of the 150-year battle between conventional and alternative medicine in this country." The editors of the review must have rightly assumed that an expert on medical science might have a "bias" against homeopathy and consider it to be some form of quackery, so they got a reviewer who was not going to be inhibited by having any knowledge of the subject..." (Thomas R. DeGregori, ACSH)

"Researchers warn high levels of arsenic in mulch could pose hazard" - "Arsenic- contaminated mulch is being spread across South Florida's flower beds, gardens, parks and playgrounds at levels 10 to 71 times the safety guideline. The high amounts point to pressure-treated wood as the source." (South Florida Sun Sentinel)

"Supply of Oil-Based Paint Thins as New Rule Takes Effect" - "A largely unpublicized regulation restricting the sale of oil-based, or alkyd, paint in the mid-Atlantic region is aimed at reducing ground-level ozone pollution, but it's one that many consumers and painters were unaware of until oil paint just started vanishing." (Washington Post)

"Toxic shock" - "In the West, we are constantly surrounded by chemicals in the home and the workplace, in appliances and furniture, in carpets and the products we use to clean them." (London Independent)

Et tu, WSJ, et tu? "The Ingredients of Beauty" - "Hazards are lurking in your hair gel and hand cream, according to some environmental groups and politicians, who are pushing to remove chemicals known as phthalates from a wide array of beauty products." (Wall Street Journal)

"No strong evidence of an increased risk of cancer among personal hair dye users" - "A meta-analysis of the scientific evidence looking at the association between cancer and hair dye use has found no strong evidence of increased risk, according to an article published in the May 25 issue of JAMA." (JAMA and Archives Journals)

The greatest conspiracy in human history (Number Watch)

Right... "Global warming blamed as parched Chinese island sees rainless spring" - "For every rainless day that passes, Li Sunan and her family inch closer to economic ruin. The problem is, for two years now, there has not been a single typhoon, and global warming may be to blame." (Agence France-Presse)

Too many hurricanes/cyclones/typhoons? Global warming! Not enough? [All together now] Global...

"Arctic Leaders Appeal Over Global Warming" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium -- Indigenous leaders from Arctic regions around the world called on the European Union on Tuesday to do more to fight global warming and to consider giving aid to their peoples. In their first visit to EU headquarters, three leaders representing the eight-nation Arctic Council met with officials at the European Commission and several EU lawmakers to push their campaign, warning their way of life was at risk." (AP)

Hmm... Arctic Warming Update

"Warming: Famine or feast?" - "Mass famine and starvation due to a collapse of agricultural production ranks high among myriad catastrophes environmentalists claim human-induced global warming will cause. Fortunately, this is one global warming bogeyman that's easy to slay." (Dennis Avery and H. Sterling Burnett, The Washington Times)

The highest accolade: "Australia: Get serious about environment, sack Howard" - "Prime Minister John Howard is making Australia an "environmental bandit" by failing to sign the Kyoto protocol, award-winning scientist David Suzuki says." (Australian Associated Press)

When Suzuki hates it we know we're on the right track (-:

"Australia: Trees curb greenhouse gas rise, but we're not out of the woods" - "People driving their cars and switching on air-conditioners to relieve the summer heat are producing an increasing amount of the damaging greenhouse gas linked to global warming. The latest emissions figures, released by the Federal Government yesterday, show more greenhouse gases are being produced as people consume increasing amounts of energy. But the overall level of emissions has fallen slightly because land-clearing rates have declined, which means there are more trees and other vegetation available to soak up greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. The Minister for the Environment, Ian Campbell, said the figures showed the Government's national climate change strategy was working. "We are managing to grow the economy while keeping greenhouse gas emissions to a minimum," he said." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"U.S. official defends stance on environment" - "In an exclusive interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun, James Connaughton, one of the top men on the Bush administration's environmental team, explained the U.S. government's stance on global warming." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

"UK: CO2 registry opens this week" - "LONDON - Britain will open its registry for storing carbon dioxide emission allowances this week, allowing firms to take part fully in the European Union emissions trading scheme, the government said on Tuesday. Companies received confirmation of their allowances on Tuesday and will be able to start trading on a spot basis once the registry is operational later this week." (Reuters)

"UK: Support for law on CO2 emissions" - "Radiohead's Thom Yorke and three 'environmentally correct' politicians from the three mainstream parties are backing a new campaign which hopes to force the government to take action on climate change." (The Guardian)

Your taxes at work? "UK: Oil Firms to See Windfall From EU CO2 Scheme" - "LONDON - Oil firms are set to receive a windfall of millions of euros thanks to a new EU carbon dioxide trading scheme aimed at fighting climate change, official data showed on Tuesday. To the chagrin of environmentalists, figures released by the UK government indicated oil and gas producers in the North Sea will receive more allowances to emit CO2 than they need to cover current emissions." (Reuters)

"easyJet chief says green campaigners have a point" - "The no-frills carrier easyJet yesterday accepted there was legitimate public concern about the impact of flying on climate change and said it would welcome a dialogue with green campaigners." (The Guardian)

"Beyond Kyoto" - "The Kyoto Protocol on climate change only went into effect in February, but environmental experts from 190 nations are already looking ahead to what happens after the treaty's first commitment period expires in 2012. Host Steve Curwood talks with Jennifer Morgan, director of the International Climate Change Program for the World Wildlife Fund, about a recent conference on the post-Kyoto world in Bonn, Germany." (LOE)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"Global Warming and Mortality" - "People in all parts of the world die at increased rates during times of greatest relative heat and cold in their specific locations.  Which is the most dangerous of these extremes?" (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Volcanic Eruptions (Biological Impact)" - "Several recent studies suggest that volcanic eruptions may significantly enhance the photosynthetic activity of the biosphere." (co2science.org)

"UV-B Radiation (Effects on Marine Ecosystems)" - "How does UV-B radiation affect marine plant life, and how is this relationship affected by atmospheric CO 2 enrichment?" (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: Slender Oat, Soybean, and Understory vegetation of a sweetgum plantation." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"Thickness Trends of the Antarctic Ice Sheet" - "How did different portions of it vary over the last five years of the 20th century?" (co2science.org)

"Assessing the Sensitivity and Accuracy of State-of-the Art Climate Models" - "A new study describes what its authors say is "the best chance we have for a well-characterized, rigorous test." (co2science.org)

"The Roman Warm Period and Dark Ages Cold Period in China" - "New data confirm their existence and add to the voluminous evidence for the natural millennial-scale oscillation of global climate that has established the Modern Warm Period independently of the coincidental concomitant rise in the air's CO 2 content." (co2science.org)

"Effects of Elevated CO 2 on Aboveground Net Primary Production of Poplar Trees After Canopy Closure" - "It had long been thought by many that once canopy closure occurred, atmospheric CO 2 enrichment would no longer enhance the growth of forests.  Now, however ..." (co2science.org)

"Effects of Elevated CO 2 on the Isoflavone Content of Soybean Seeds" - "What are they?  And why do we care?" (co2science.org)

"New Environmentalism, Or Backdoor to Nuclear Power?" - "OAKLAND, USA - Mainstream U.S. environmental groups, injured by political defeats, public indifference and budget cuts, are weighing alliances with neo-conservatives -- improbable rightwing bedfellows in the struggle to rein in global warming who want to reduce U.S. dependence on Middle East oil. In the process, some greens are reconsidering their longstanding opposition to nuclear power." (IPS)

"Canada: Nuclear burial site urged" - "Millions of bundles of highly radioactive waste fuel should be moved from nuclear power stations, mostly in Ontario, and be buried in a deep underground mausoleum, an exhaustive federal review will recommend today." (Toronto Star)

Polly in full cry: "Capitulation to the nuclear lobby is a politics of despair" - "Fear of the people, their cars and flights is blocking creative energy policy" (Polly Toynbee, The Guardian)

See Philip Stott's response at EnviroSpin Watch

"Gasification may cut appeal of Wyoming coal" - "Wyoming coal, long desired because of its low sulfur content, might be less enticing to a new generation of power plants because of the deficiency of that element, an economic development official says." (Associated Press)

"Power giant warns of coming 'energy crunch'" - "Switzerland's largest electricity company Axpo says it has to act now to prevent a serious "energy crunch" that could develop over the next decade. The firm unveiled proposals at a news conference to invest more than SFr5 billion ($4 billion) in measures including the construction of new gas-fired power plants ? and tentative longer-term plans for a new nuclear plant." (Swissinfo)

"ANALYSIS - China's Coal Riches Could Ease Oil Insecurity" - "BEIJING - Turning China's abundant coal reserves into oil to help close a widening supply gap might once have seemed little more than a Maoist dream, but synthetic fuels may soon be a key part of the country's energy mix." (Reuters)

"Jump-starting hydrogen car dream" - "California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will advocate that California invest $54 million in public money to help build a network of up to 100 hydrogen fueling stations statewide within five years, according to details of his "Hydrogen Highway" plan." (Knight Ridder)

"Massive wind farm 'may harm eagles'" - "SCOTTISH Natural Heritage has objected to plans to build a large wind farm on Lewis because of fears it could harm two species of eagle. Up to 133 turbines, each 125 metres high, are planned for the Eishken estate, 40 of them in the South Lewis, Harris and North Uist National Scenic Area. SNH says the development would have an impact on the landscape. It is also concerned that golden and white-tailed eagles could collide with the turbines while the work could force them out of the area." (The Scotsman)

"Skye windfarm re-think possible" - "Councillors in the Highlands look set to re-consider the planning permission they gave for a controversial windfarm on the Isle of Skye. In 2002, international power company Amec was given permission to build 27 turbines at Edinbane, north of Portree. However, Highland Council may send the application back to the drawing board." (BBC)

"Eggs Over Easy? False Dawn for Stem Cell Cures" - "Many people focused on only one word in the banner headlines over news that Korean scientists have successfully cloned 11 embryos and created stem cell lines: cures. Spouses and parents of patients with diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and spinal cord damage must have felt elated that their loved ones will no longer have to suffer.' (Michael Cook, TCS)

"China's Second 'Great Leap Forward' With GM Crops?" - "BEIJING, May 24 - China is under mounting pressure to approve the commercial release of genetically modified rice but Beijing's leaders fear the social cost and potential international backlash might cancel out economic benefits of the move. Recent successful pre-production trials of GM rice in China have given Chinese leaders the scientific back up they need to go ahead with the commercialisation of the crop. Farmers growing genetically altered rice in field trials have reported an increase in crop yields by 10 percent, with pesticide use down by 80 percent - coupled with fewer pesticide-related health problems." (IPS)

May 24, 2005

"WHO’s numbers don’t add up" - "THE 58th Annual World Health Assembly began last week in Geneva, the headquarters of the World Health Organisation (WHO). The killers of malaria and HIV/AIDS, and the fact that half the world does not have access to essential medicines, should not just be on the agenda, but should dominate it.

But the WHO is a bit sensitive about these issues because its efforts are falling short. The Roll Back Malaria campaign, which aimed at halving incidence of the disease in 12 years, is halfway through and has overseen an increase of 10% or more. The campaign to get 3-million on HIV antiretrovirals by the end of this year looks to be falling short by about 75%." (Roger Bate, Business Day)

"WHO admits to "blundering around" in fight against avian flu" - "The World Health Organization has denied reports published online in the journal Nature that it is being thwarted in its attempts to combat avian flu by a lack of cooperation from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization." (British Medical Journal)

Guaranteed to upset the animal libbers: "A diet high in milk may cut heart disease and stroke risk" - "A diet rich in milk does not increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, and may even be protective, concludes research in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health." (BMJ Specialty Journals)

"New playground equipment safer" - "Researchers from the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children have confirmed that removal of hazardous playground at elementary schools in Toronto has reduced the number of playground injuries." (Canadian Medical Association Journal)

Corollary: little butterballs engaging in sedentary activities sustain fewer injuries.

"Bush sees fusion of science, nature" - "WASHINGTON – President Bush, in a first-ever visit to the Environmental Protection Agency, pledged Monday that science would be at the heart of the nation's air, water and land policies. Mr. Bush attended a ceremonial swearing-in ceremony for Stephen Johnson, the first career employee to take over the agency's reins. Mr. Johnson, a 24-year EPA veteran, also is the first administrator with a science background." (Associated Press)

Moonbat made certain he didn't lose his label: "A restraint of liberty" - "Faced with a choice between market freedom and human life, governments have chosen to preserve the former." (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

Car Wars: Episode III - The Revenge of the Suvs (2005) - "In a galaxy far, far away..." (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Half of Europe's plant species at risk from global warming: study" - "PARIS - More than half of Europe's plant species will be at threat or classified as vulnerable by 2080 as a consequence of global warming, a study said. The big losers will be the northern Mediterranean rim, southern Portugal and southwestern Spain and mountain regions, where vegetation will be badly hit by hotter weather and water stress, it warned." (AFP)

In the virtual world: "A continent split by climate change: New study projects drought in southern Africa, rain in Sahel" - "BOULDER - A new analysis of Africa's past and future climate shows that the Sahel region, which experienced catastrophic drought until rains returned in the 1990s, could experience wetter monsoons for decades to come. However, drought across southern Africa is projected to intensify further. Oceanic warming consistent with an increase in greenhouse gases appears to be a factor in these expected 21st-century changes to Africa's monsoons.

James Hurrell of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) will present the findings on May 24 in New Orleans at the spring meeting of the American Geophysical Union. The study, conducted with Martin Hoerling (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), was supported by NOAA and the National Science Foundation, NCAR's primary sponsor.

The analysis, which draws on 60 simulations of global climate from five computer models, provides new evidence linking drought in southern Africa to the warming of the Indian Ocean. However, it contradicts earlier studies that also connected the Sahelian drought of northern Africa to the Indian Ocean. Instead, the new results point to a late 20th-century cooling of the North Atlantic Ocean as having been key to Sahelian drought. A subsequent switch to North Atlantic warming, partly consistent with the impact of greenhouse gas increases, is the main factor behind the Sahel's recent swing from drought to moist conditions, the researchers believe." (NCAR/UCAR)

"Ocean Warmth Tied to African Drought" - "Few places are more vulnerable to drought than Africa. From the Sahel south of the Sahara to the southern lobe of the turbulent continent, there is a simple calculus, said Dr. Richard Washington, an expert on the region's climate at Oxford: "When the rains fail, people die." So a concerted effort has been made over the last five years to understand what drives dry spells there and what will occur in a future warmed by accumulating heat-trapping emissions in the atmosphere. Most climate experts now say that significant human-caused warming is inevitable. One new study bodes particularly poorly for southern Africa, indicating that a 50-year-long drying trend there is likely to continue and appears tightly linked to substantial warming of the Indian Ocean. The authors of the study say that the heating of that ocean, which lacks the natural variability of the Pacific and Atlantic, is one of the clearest fingerprints pointing to human-caused climate change." (New York Times)

The Indian Ocean lacks variability? Ever heard of the Equatorial Indian Ocean Oscillation (EQUINOO)? How about the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO)? The Southern Oscillation perhaps (hint: the 'significant other' in the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)? The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) at least should ring a bell for contemporary science reporters since it was only identified in 1999 although its occurrence can be traced through the coral record to at least the mid-Holocene period (i.e., more than 5,000 years before present).

Doesn't seem too hard to think of both inter- and intra-annual oscillations in the Indian Ocean does it? Surely reporters could do a quick search to get a bit clearer picture before making such silly statements. Tip: try searching for information on Indian summer monsoon rainfall (ISMR) - I suspect that would hit all kinds of known and speculative links to Indian Ocean variability.

Weekly Whipple: "Climate: A race through thick and thin ice" - "BOULDER, Colorado -- The interior of the East Antarctic ice sheet is gaining mass because of increased snowfall there, a development that should offset sea level rise from other sources around the globe. (Dan Whipple, UPI)

Hmm... "Selling climate change" - "The environmental movement is failing to put climate change on the political map. What’s going wrong? Jon Miller, a man who sells Coca Cola to China, says: forget polar bears - think house prices." (Jon Miller, opendemocracy.net)

Here we have a strategy paper, of sorts, suggesting that activists believe they talk and debate 'science' (I believe they are all emotion and rhetoric but that's beside the point) and that 'science' supports assertions of cataclysmic AGW (which actually only exists in virtual worlds called 'climate models'). It also suggests media don't publish 'environment' stories very often (more disagreement). Of course, I have met educated people who actually believe the apocalyptic prognostications of computer games but they tend not to have backgrounds in the physical sciences - mostly humanities and the odd 'puter jock - which leaves me with the impression that the 'scientific consensus' is a little self-delusion by believers, as is the 'science' supporting their assertions. No matter, it will be interesting to see whether activists listens to the lolly-water seller and refocus their silly campaigns.

Here's a nice piece of hopeful gibberish: "The science of prediction" - "The mathematics of climate forecasting can clarify the debate about global warming realities and futures, says Dave Frame." (opendemocracy.net)

When (if ever) climate models can reproduce a reasonable facsimile of Earth's known climate - say the period 1880-2000 - within a degree or two and with similar rising and falling trends (give or take maybe a decade?) having been fed known forcings (assuming we ever get those worked out reasonably well) then we could try a tentative 'prediction' for perhaps a year or two hence. Suggesting, as Frame does, that we can make reasonably confident predictions for 8 decades hence with a tiny handful of data is akin to determining by mathematical induction that all positive odd integers greater than 2 are prime numbers: 3 is prime, 5 is prime (looking good for proof by MI), 7 is prime and there we have it - proof by MI that all positive odd integers greater than 2 are prime numbers and that proof is rock-solid compared with our ability to model Earth's climate.

Another Mooney eye-roller: "The Courthouse Effect: How to win a global-warming suit" - "In his recent novel State of Fear, Michael Crichton centers his plot on a global-warming lawsuit that has been threatened by a leading environmental group on behalf of a small Pacific island nation allegedly menaced by rising sea levels. In Crichton's fictional universe, the science of global warming is a big joke, and the suit turns out to be a publicity stunt." (Chris Mooney, Slate)

"Climate-change fears prompt CIS rebellion at Exxon" - "A major British institutional investor will tomorrow oppose the re-election of Lee Raymond as chief executive of ExxonMobil on "ethical grounds" at its annual meeting. The challenge will be launched by the Co-operative Insurance Society (CIS) which says the world's biggest stock-listed oil company talks down links between man-made CO2 emissions and climate change. Exxon, under Mr Raymond's leadership, has lobbied against the Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gases and against the US government signing the treaty, the CIS believes." (The Guardian)

If Raymond is responsible for Exxon's position then that's all the more reason to hang on to him, if possible.

"Investors Bet on Change in German Nuclear Stance" - "FRANKFURT- Investors snapped up top utilities E.ON and RWE on Monday as they bet that a change in Germany's national government in an early election could also lead to a revision in nuclear energy policy." (Reuters)

What are they trying to say? "Wind farm expansion as manufacturer is shown to be Labour donor" - "As the Government prepares to renew backing for a huge expansion of wind farms, the owner of the world's biggest manufacturer of wind-turbine blades was shown yesterday to be a major donor to the Labour Party." (London Telegraph)

"Gene altered pollen worries organic farmers" - "Organic farmers have a headache. It's caused by the genetically engineered crops many of their neighbors grow. One concern is pollen. It can drift and bring unwanted genetic material into organic fields. Organic farmers have a system in place to control the problem, but many wonder if it's possible anymore to grow genetically pure crops. Some farmers are concerned overseas markets may close to U.S. organic producers if they can't." (Minnesota Public Radio)

I might even be sympathetic if 'organic' involved something more than primitive mysticism and baseless fearmongering but I find I just can't look kindly on a product whose entire business plan relies on terrorising the population regarding harmless contact with trace quantities of useful compounds.

"EU demands Monsanto's test results on controversial corn" - "ROME - Agribusiness giant Monsanto has been asked to provide all its research results into a genetically modified corn that may be a health risk, a leader of the European Union's food safety authority (EFSA) revealed." (AFP)

"Monsanto defends results of rat studies" - "KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Monsanto Co. on Monday discounted as insignificant European reports that the company's internal research had found variations in the health of rats fed Monsanto's biotech corn." (Reuters)

"Monsanto: European Regulators Reviewed Results of Studies on MON 863 YieldGard Rootworm Corn" - "ST. LOUIS, May 23 -- Monsanto reiterated today that, contrary to published reports, it supplied all required information to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) prior to EFSA's 2004 favorable scientific opinion on the company's MON 863 YieldGard® Rootworm corn.

"Published reports suggest that there is new information about MON 863 that has not been submitted to EU regulators. That is not the case," said Jerry Hjelle, vice president for Monsanto Worldwide Regulatory Affairs. "Monsanto has provided all required data and studies, including the subject rat study, to European regulatory authorities, and EFSA reviewed these studies before issuing its opinion." (PRNewswire-FirstCall)

"Special report: Global biotech battle heats up in Montreal" - " A transatlantic trade dispute over genetically modified food will come to the fore over the next 10 days in Montreal, Canada, where government, civic and business representatives are gathering for a second round of international negotiations on biotechnology." (FoodProductionDaily.com)

May 23, 2005

"JP Morgan's Pretend Investors" - "JPMorgan Chase's CEO, William Harrison, appeared to retreat on a major element of his company's capitulation to the radical environmental movement at the company's annual shareholder meeting last week." (Steve Milloy, New York Sun)

"In Africa, Lifting the Pall of Smoke From Cooking" - "In the highlands of Ethiopia, the temperature dips to an average 37 degrees at night. A typical family's one-room house has no chimney, and the stove consists of three stones supporting a pot over an open wood fire. The mother fixes dinner as her toddlers edge closer, trying to stay warm in the swirling smoke. And as they do, the air they breathe may be killing them. A recent study estimated that in the next 25 years, 10 million women and children in sub-Saharan Africa will die prematurely from the smoke produced by the most basic and comforting of sources: the family cookstove." (Washington Post)

"Double standards on disease control – Part 1" - "Human rights issues continue to dominate the world stage. Ending “degrading treatment" of terrorists, the death penalty for murderers, family violence against women and policies against indigenous languages top the list at the UN Human Rights Commission, European Court of Human Rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. The Euro Court alone has 78,000 rights cases on its docket. This February, President Bush met with the heroic, real-life manager of “Hotel Rwanda.” He later went to Latvia, to recall the millions who died in wars, concentration camps, killing fields and genocidal conflicts over the past 65 years. Meanwhile, the US Congress and media devoted endless hours to the tragic plight of one woman, Terri Schiavo, and Cameron Diaz raved about how “awesome” it is to live in poverty. But conspicuously absent from all these discussions is a fundamental human right: access to modern weapons – insecticides – that can effectively combat a disease that has killed over 50 million people since 1972." (Paul Driessen, MichNews.com) | Double standards on disease control –Part 2 (Paul Driessen, MichNews.com)

"House votes to ban human studies of pesticides" - "Federal officials have struggled for years with whether to use data from tests on people to set nationwide limits for pesticide exposure." (Washington Post)

"School buses spew pollution into young lungs" - "Reducing school bus emissions could be a cost-effective way to cut children's exposure to diesel fumes. Researchers reached that conclusion after finding that school bus passengers may inhale heavy doses of the vehicle's pollution." (Science News)

"Political push seen in health probes" - "Every year, Department of Public Health officials receive more than a thousand calls from worried residents who are convinced that something in the air, water, or soil is making them and their neighbors sick. But the reports of cancer clusters or tainted drinking water that the small staff of the Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment ultimately pursues often have more to do with politics than health priority. (Boston Globe)

"Sun warnings confuse the majority" - "Many people are confused by weather warnings designed to help them reduce their risk of developing skin cancer, research shows." (BBC)

"Vitamin D research may have doctors prescribing sunshine" - "Vitamin D increasingly seems important for preventing and even treating many types of cancer. In the last three months alone, four separate studies found it helped protect against lymphoma and cancers of the prostate, lung and, ironically, the skin. The strongest evidence is for colon cancer." (Associated Press)

Uh-huh. It's even possible that 'ozone layer' hysterics and the ridiculous UV scare are responsible for significant numbers of cancers and osteoporosis. Scares do incalculable harm but I've yet to see or even hear of one that does any good.

Meow! "Royal Society lazy, says Lancet" - "The Royal Society, the UK's academy of science, is lazy and rests on its historical laurels, a leading medical journal says. A Lancet editorial said the oldest scientific academy in the world had done little in the fields of medical science and public health lately. And the journal accused the Royal Society of being "self serving" and a "superficial cheerleader". But the Royal Society said the attack was inaccurate and ill-informed." (BBC) | Knives are out as Lancet and Royal Society trade insults (London Telegraph)

"Says Who?" - "Food manufacturers and supermarkets see the widespread confusion about nutrition in the grocery aisle as a rich marketing opportunity, and they are moving quickly to take on the roles of guide and educator." (Washington Post)

"Muddy waters" - "Much less sediment is reaching the world's river deltas because it gets trapped by thousands of dams. It means that delta lands are sinking, coastlines are retreating, and the local food web loses its nutrient-rich base, harming fisheries and the people who depend upon them." (Science News)

"Jeremy Clarkson: Nuts and dolts of an eco-boycott" - "When someone from Oxford Brookes University called recently to say its School of Technology wanted to give me an honorary degree — for championing the cause of engineering — I was thrilled. It had been only a couple of years since a similar honour was bestowed by Brunel University. So I would be Jeremy “two doctors” Clarkson, which isn’t bad for someone who barely managed O-levels. However, much to the delight of the BBC’s fanatically pro-fox, anti-car internet news service, my nomination is being boycotted. Because, in this day and age, it’s preposterous to honour someone who has a four-wheel-drive Volvo and a ride-on lawnmower." (The Sunday Times)

"Preaching the gospel of green" - "On such issues as global climate change, endangered species, and mercury hazards to the unborn, many evangelical Christians are parting ways with conservatives. They are embracing environmental protection as "stewardship" of God's creation." (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Granted, it does appear much easier to extort donations from the broader church of eco-theology and so there's a lot more money in it but these people seem to be confusing their religions somewhat.

Baby ones might look cute in the store but: "How great cracks from little acorns grow" - "It is the dream combination: a house in the country by a giant oak tree. But homeowners were warned yesterday to beware "the silent assassin" lurking in the garden." (London Telegraph)

"Indigenous Arctic leaders urge Europe to do more to fight global warming" - "COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Leaders of the Arctic region's indigenous people on Friday urged European countries to step up the fight against global warming, saying it is threatening their environment, economies and cultures. The eight-country Arctic Council said the annual average amount of sea ice around the North Pole has decreased about eight per cent in the last 30 years because of global warming fuelled by greenhouse gas emissions." (AP)

"Global warming could lead to crowding in Europe" - "COPENHAGEN -- The middle of Europe could become crowded with "climate-change refugees" escaping a thawing Arctic to the north and Mediterranean droughts to the south, the head of the European Environment Agency said yesterday. Indigenous peoples in the Arctic say global warming is a threat to their culture because it melts the ice on which their hunts of seals and polar bears depend. Other scientific models indicate southern Europe may get drier." (Reuters)

More Krupp: "Congress has the means to thwart global warming" - "Future generations may debate what finally moved America to confront global warming. Was it NASA's "smoking gun" evidence of a warming planet? Was it 132 mayors pledging to cap global warming pollution? Or was it leadership from senators like Joe Lieberman and John McCain, or the increasingly urgent calls by the faith community to uphold our moral responsibility to our children?" (Albany Times Union)

"Long-term climate change" - "I have just been reading an excellent, and most timely, review paper by Stuart A. Harris of the University of Calgary: 'Thermal history of the Arctic Ocean environs adjacent to North America during the last 3.5 Ma and a possible mechanism for the cause of cold events (major glaciations and permafrost events)' [Progress in Physical Geography 29 (2), pp. 218 - 237 (June 2005)].

In this, Harris points out that long-term climate change is the product of an immensely complex interaction between many cyclical (and non-cyclical) controls with different periodicities, periodicities that may vary in time, space, wave-length, magnitude, and predictability. A significant climate change occurs when enough of these are synchronized sufficiently for air temperature to cross a critical threshold - yet, this is itself dependent on local environments and latitude." (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Australia: PM warms to climate evidence" - "GLOBAL warming was real and was supported by scientific evidence, Prime Minister John Howard said yesterday. His comments came as Federal Cabinet considers new proposals tomorrow to help drought-stricken farmers.

"I don't believe it (global warming) is all a myth – no, I don't," Mr Howard said. "I have seen enough scientific evidence – I think some of the descriptions of it, some of the extreme manifestations of it, are mythical – but I do think there is a very strong case for controlling greenhouse gas emissions."

However, the PM still opposed signing the Kyoto protocol on climate change. And he would not comment on whether Australia's droughts were caused by global warming." (Sunday Mail)

"Measuring the reality of climate change" - "Scientists have reported worrying signs that the vast ice sheet over Greenland is melting. If the whole mass of ice disappeared, the world's sea level would rise by about 20 feet. David Shukman meets the Nasa team who study the effects of climate change on the ground." (BBC)

"The False Alert of Global Warming" - "Global warming became the environmentalists' cause celebre in the late 1980s. They had turned on a dime, for only a few years earlier global cooling had been their mantra. They didn't know what had caused that earlier "cooling trend," but its effects were sure to be bad. "The drop in food output could begin quite soon, perhaps only in ten years," Newsweek reported in 1975. "The resulting famines could be catastrophic." (Tom Bethell, The American Spectator)

"Will global warming impact tourism hotspots?" - "LURED by hot, sunny beaches or pristine, snow-topped mountains, tourists are drawn to the climate of certain resorts. But will global warming drive them to new tourist hotspots? Apparently not. A shift in weather will be just a minor bother for most destinations compared with the massive impact of economic development and population growth, according to a computer model." (New Scientis)

"Antarctic buffers sea level rise" - "The ice sheet covering the interior of Antarctica is thickening, researchers report in the journal Science. This bulge may temporarily buffer rising sea levels, they believe. Antarctica's "weight gain" is due to extra snowfall, caused by rising temperatures, the team thinks. However, scientists worry the overall mass of the Antarctic may be decreasing because ice near the coasts is melting, possibly at a greater rate." (BBC)

The claims of mass gain are credible - they agree with the balance of Antarctic research - the implication of general peripheral melting is not credible nor in agreement with published research - here's a quick recycle for you:

Antarctic climate and sea ice extent certainly seems to be changing - it's getting colder and sea ice is extending:

Comiso, J.C. 2000. Variability and trends in Antarctic surface temperature from in situ and satellite infrared measurements. Journal of Climate 13: 1674-1696

Over the entire period studied, it was determined that the mean rate of change of sea ice extent for the entire Antarctic region was an increase of 0.043 M km2 per year. The authors additionally concluded that "the increasing trend in the sea ice extent over the Antarctic region may be slowly accelerating in time, particularly over the last decade."

Liu, J., Curry, J.A. and Martinson, D.G. 2004. Interpretation of recent Antarctic sea ice variability. Geophysical Research Letters 31: 10.1029/2003GL018732.

Liu et al. report that "overall, the total Antarctic sea ice extent (the cumulative area of grid boxes covering at least 15% ice concentrations) has shown an increasing trend (~4,801 km2/yr)." In addition, they find that "the total Antarctic sea ice area (the cumulative area of the ocean actually covered by at least 15% ice concentrations) has increased significantly by ~13,295 km2/yr, exceeding the 95% confidence level," noting that "the upward trends in the total ice extent and area are robust for different cutoffs of 15, 20, and 30% ice concentrations (used to define the ice extent and area)."

Parkinson, C.L. 2002. Trends in the length of the southern Ocean sea-ice season, 1979-99. Annals of Glaciology 34: 435-440.

Over the 21 years of the study, most of the Ross Sea has, in the words of the author, "undergone a lengthening of the sea-ice season, whereas most of the Amundsen Sea ice cover and almost the entire Bellingshausen Sea ice cover have undergone a shortening of the sea-ice season," while "results for the Weddell Sea are mixed." Overall, Parkinson reports that "the area of the Southern Ocean experiencing a lengthening of the sea-ice season by at least 1 day per year over the period 1979-99 is 5.6 x 106 km2, whereas the area experiencing a shortening of the sea-ice season by at least 1 day per year is 46% less than that, at 3.0 x 106 km2."

Zwally, H.J., Comiso, J.C., Parkinson, C.L. Cavalieri, D.J. and Gloersen, P. 2002. Variability of Antarctic sea ice 1979-1998. Journal of Geophysical Research 107: 10.1029/2000JC000733.

For the entire Southern Ocean, sea ice extent was found to have increased by 11,181 ± 4190 square km per year, or by 0.98 ± 0.37 percent per decade. Sea ice area for the Southern Ocean was also shown to have increased by nearly the same amount: 10,860 ± 3720 square km per year, or 1.26 ± 0.43 percent per decade. Regionally, trends in sea ice extent were positive in the Weddell Sea, the Pacific Ocean and the Ross Sea; while they were nearly in balance to slightly negative in the Indian Ocean, and negative in the Bellingshausen/Amundsen Seas. In terms of variability, the interannual variability of the mean sea ice extent was only 1.6%; while monthly variability in sea ice extent was 4.0% over the first ten years of the record, declining to 2.7% over the last ten years.

Yuan, X. and Martinson, D.G. 2000. Antarctic sea ice extent variability and its global connectivity. Journal of Climate 13: 1697-1717.

Among a host of other things, it was learned that the net trend in the mean Antarctic sea ice edge over the last 18 years has been an equatorward expansion of 0.011 degree of latitude per year.

References and synopses by curtesy CO2 Science Magazine.

In fact, the only region where ice reduction is evident is the relatively insignificant fragment known as the Antarctic Peninsula - especially that portion which isn't even in the Antarctic.

"The mix master" - "An Australian businessman has invented an "eco-cement" which he says could help to dramatically reduce Australia's greenhouse-gas emissions. And if it can do that here, it can do it anywhere." (Melbourne Age)

"Oil's dirty future" - "Canadian oil sands: Vast reserves second to Saudi Arabia will keep America moving, but at a steep environmental cost." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Coal's return" - "Tennessee’s coal industry, spurred by skyrocketing coal prices, new technologies and the Tennessee Valley Authority's possible leasing of its mineral rights in Campbell and Scott counties, could be poised for a comeback. With the new activity comes renewed resistance." (Knoxville News Sentinel)

"Dirty Secret: Coal Plants Could Be Much Cleaner" - "ALMOST a decade ago, Tampa Electric opened an innovative power plant that turned coal, the most abundant but the dirtiest fossil fuel, into a relatively clean gas, which it burns to generate electricity. Not only did the plant emit significantly less pollution than a conventional coal-fired power plant, but it was also 10 percent more efficient. Hazel R. O'Leary, the secretary of energy at the time, went to the plant, situated between Tampa and Orlando, and praised it for ushering in a "new era for clean energy from coal." Federal officials still refer to the plant's "integrated gasification combined cycle" process as a "core technology" for the future, especially because of its ability - eventually - to all but eliminate the greenhouse gases linked to global warming. Since that plant opened, however, not a single similar plant has been built in the United States. Abundant supplies of natural gas - a bit cleaner and, until recently, a lot cheaper - stood in the way. " (New York Times)

YOUR VOTE REQUESTED: "Fast-breeding conspiracies" - "The 'New Statesman', by the way, is running a vote on the question of nuclear power (top right of page: 'Does nuclear power meet our future energy needs?'). Time to help the conspiracy along, I deem. EnviroSpinners, please do take a moment to vote there." (EnviroSpin Watch)

"France pushes nuclear option as the solution to global warming" - "THE French nuclear power industry is banking on high oil prices and global warming concerns to help an export drive for its third-generation reactors, as the world seeks new energy sources to maintain living standards." (The Business)

"Six sites finalists for nuclear power plants" - "A nuclear power plant hasn't been built in the United States in two decades, but that could change in the next few years after a consortium announced locations in six states as possible sites for a nuclear renaissance. Nuclear power consortium NuStart Energy on Thursday named the sites from which it will later pick two for which to apply for licenses to build and operate nuclear power plants." (MSNBC)

"2,000 more wind turbines in countryside" - "A massive expansion of wind power involving thousands of new turbines will go ahead despite increasingly bitter wrangling over claims that they are despoiling Britain's countryside. In his first speech since becoming energy minister, Malcolm Wicks, will offer unequivocal backing to the green lobby by insisting it is 'vital' the government rides out vocal opposition to windfarms and sticks with wind energy." (The Observer)

"Tilting at windmills: nation split over energy eyesores" - "Hundreds of turbines will be switched on this year, and the volume of protest is rising. Mark Townsend reports on the issue that will overtake hunting as a cause of rural unrest." (The Observer)

"British expert targets SUVs in war on warming" - "Sir David King, the chief scientific adviser to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, this week warned that the increasingly popular sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and 4x4s were helping to accelerate global warming." (Johannesburg Independent)

In the land of fruits and nuts: "California a role model for tackling pollution" - "California has led the world and irritated the car industry for more than 40 years in its fight against the atmospheric pollution that fouls its cities and is blamed for killing trees hundreds of miles away." (Financial Times)

"Nanoparticles might cause megaproblems" - "Even though buckyballs have been studied more widely than most nanoparticles, scientists still have much to learn. A new study suggests some caution may be in order." (Chicago Tribune)

"EU food agency says GMO maize type safe to grow" - "BRUSSELS - Europe's food safety agency gave a clean bill of health on Friday for the planting of a genetically modified (GMO) maize, its second positive assessment on the growing of biotech crops." (Reuters)

Tabloid format completely taking over? "Revealed: health fears over secret study into GM food" - "Rats fed GM corn due for sale in Britain developed abnormalities in blood and kidneys." (Independent on Sunday)

How long before they adopt a red banner and we see the likes of:

  • Revealed: Space Aliens abduct our editor
  • Revealed: Sailor elopes with mermaid
    - Exclusive wedding photos...
  • Revealed: Extreme weather due to Cold War-era Weather Weapon
  • Revealed: "Nessie" in love with RN Submarine...

May 20, 2005

"World's First Global Thermometer" - "As the Northern Hemisphere enters the summer season and natural global warming occurs, it’s a good time to consider the concept of global temperature — perhaps the most talked about, but least understood, component of the global warming controversy." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

Global Mean Temperature: Comparing results with National Climatic Data Center's global record

NCDC_absolute.gif (30882 bytes) As is our wont we have graphed the series from 12/78 onwards (for compatibility with the world's only truly near-global data set - the satellite-mounted MSU-derived anomaly set provided by UAH). Fascinatingly, there is a piddling warming trend over the quarter century displayed (y = 0.0014x + 13.93) - hardly unexpected given the lack of explosive volcanic events and solar activity allegedly its most frenetic in a millennium. Really makes you wonder how this has morphed into the biggest, baddest warming in oh, forever - and it's all humanity's fault too!

Compare that presentation with this one:

NCDC_anomalies.gif (25946 bytes) Hmm... looks very different doesn't it? And the magic numbers are [the envelope please]... y = 0.0014x + 0.0913.

Gosh! What a difference rescaling makes. We have already seen that in absolute temperature terms there has been well, insignificant global change and yet here we see a story of apparent rapid warming derived from exactly the same data over the same period. What's going on?


New datasets - NCDC and CRU - added to "Global Warming" At A Glance


Oh my! Kyoto's a killer! "Kyoto accord signals death knell for dinosaur era fish in Canada" - "The world's oldest, largest and arguably ugliest freshwater fish, already on the brink of extinction in North America, is now facing a new and highly unexpected threat to its survival in Canada -- the international Kyoto accord on the environment." (Agence France-Presse)

"Antarctica ice cap thickening" - "As glaciers from Greenland to Kilimanjaro recede at record rates, the central ice cap of Antarctica has steadily grown for the past 11 years, partially offsetting rising seas due to the melt waters of global warming, researchers said yesterday. The vast East Antarctic Ice Sheet -- a 2-mile-thick wasteland of ice larger than Australia, drier than the Sahara and as cold as a Martian spring -- increased in mass every year between 1992 and 2003 due to additional annual snowfall, an analysis of satellite radar measurements showed. "It is an effect that has been predicted as a likely result of climate change," said David Vaughan, an independent expert on the ice sheets at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, England." (Robert Lee Hotz, Los Angeles Times)

Told ya! Ice thinning? Global warming. Ice thickening? Global warming. Friday? Global blasted warming!

Seriously though, this is exactly the effect non-hysterical scientists have long held acts as a negative sea level feedback - i.e., mid-latitude glacial melt does not directly translate to rising sea levels simply because increased evaporation and water transport means more precipitation on land-borne ice shields simultaneously reducing sea volume.

Now, if we can just figure out how this is happening while the bulk of Antarctica is actually cooling and thus theoretically not able to support increased moisture transport to the super dry East Antarctic Shield...

On a touch o' gas, wind-powered teapots and the odd nuke (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Growing ozone hole 'hangover'" - "Despite a worldwide phaseout of CFCs and HCFCs under the 1987 Montreal Protocol, these ozone-depleting substances are still being emitted into the atmosphere at rates greater than anticipated, according to a new report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change." (Environmental Science & Technology)

Read: struggling to explain failure to fix what ain't broke...

"Air travel mars UK's green strategy" - "Greenhouse gas emissions from UK air travel has doubled in 13 years, damaging the government's claims to be a world leader in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Figures from the Office of National Statistics published yesterday show that total UK greenhouse gas emissions fell by 8.1% between 1990 and 2003, considerably less than the 13.4% fall claimed by the Department of the Environment. Nearly all the gains come from the closing of the coal mines under the Conservative government, and the switch from coal to gas for electricity generation." (The Guardian)

"British dreams" - "Britain's nuclear enthusiasts see hope in Tony Blair's re-election" (The Economist print)

"The nuclear charm offensive" - "We are all being taken in by a carefully planned public relations strategy. Its mission: to push nuclear power back on the political agenda, rebranded as the new "green" alternative." (Jonathan Leake and Dan Box, New Statesman)

"Hot air?" - "The Sustainable Development Commission claims the UK should put to use the best wind resources in Europe, despite concerns from people trying to protect the landscape. But amid the confusion, there's one certainty for many environmentalists, and the campaign to drive "gas-guzzling, climate-wrecking" 4x4s off our roads was stepped up a gear this week." (BBC)

"Senate Panel Rejects Better Mileage for Gas Guzzlers" - "The US Senate Energy Committee on Wednesday rejected a Democratic plan to require sport utility vehicles and minivans to become more fuel efficient and achieve the same gasoline mileage as passenger cars in six years." (Reuters)

"New York moves to adopt California vehicle emissions standards" - "New York will adopt California's tough standards for motor vehicle emissions later this year under new regulations being sought by Gov. George Pataki to cut down on air pollutants and greenhouse gases." (Associated Press)

"11 States Challenge Break on Mercury for Coal Power Plants" - "A coalition of 11 states, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, filed a lawsuit yesterday challenging a new federal rule that allows coal-fired power plants to buy pollution credits to avoid lowering their mercury emissions." (New York Times)

"Scripps Scientists Find Potential for Catastrophic Shifts in Pacific Ecosystems" - "Opening the door to a new way of understanding ocean processes and managing and protecting marine resources, a group of researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, has developed a groundbreaking analysis of the North Pacific Ocean and how dramatic changes can unfold across its waters." (University of California - San Diego)

"Is going green still worthwhile?" - "An Environment Agency report has concluded that, contrary to popular belief, the choice over using disposable or cloth nappies makes little difference to the environment. Is going green still worth our while?" (BBC)

Was the illusion ever worth anything?

"Feel-good factor" - "But will it save the planet?" (The Guardian)

If Vidal & Brown are seriously looking for an answer it's "No" - the good news, however, is that none of the "problems" these warm and fuzzy actions were supposed to address actually threatened the planet in the first place.

"Idaho governor lobbies Schwarzenegger to exempt potatoes from cancer warning" - "Gov. Dirk Kempthorne has met with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in an effort to exempt french fries from a California list of foods requiring warnings that they could cause cancer." (Associated Press)

"The Mad Fatter" - "Since the CDC recently disclosed that fat people live longer than those in "normal" weight ranges, and considerably longer than thin people, those who want to control what you eat are suggesting that whether or not being fat kills you, it will make you demented." (Sandy Szwarc, TCS)

"China ratifies GMO transparency treaty" - "China, one of the world's largest importers of GMO crops, said on Thursday it has ratified a U.N. treaty the U.S. has spurned that aims for more transparency and control over trade in genetically modified foods." (Reuters)

"EU fails again to break deadlock on GMO foods" - "BRUSSELS - The European Union again revealed its deep divisions over biotech foods on Thursday as national experts failed to agree on two separate requests to import genetically modified (GMO) maize, officials said. The two votes were the 11th and 12th consecutive occasions that the EU's 25 states, represented by environment and food safety experts, were deadlocked over a new GMO authorisation. Despite last year's lifting of an effective biotech moratorium by a legal default procedure, EU countries have not managed to agree by themselves on a GMO approval since 1998." (Reuters)

May 19, 2005

"The Real Bloodsuckers" - "DDT is often considered to be a relic of our industrial past -- but it also happens to be very effective at preventing malaria-carrying mosquitoes from transmitting the disease to humans. Although often eclipsed in the public eye by news about HIV/AIDS, malaria kills one million children and women each year and contributes indirectly to many more deaths. It also takes an often overlooked toll by incapacitating, for weeks every year, hundreds of millions of otherwise productive people.

A few months ago, though, EU representatives casually suggested to Ugandan ministers that if Uganda chooses to use DDT for malaria control, exporters will have to procure expensive equipment to ensure that their products do not contain any amount of residual DDT; otherwise they will face sanctions against their agricultural products. This negotiating technique is also known as blackmail.

Given the chemical's success at reducing the incidence of malaria in southern African nations, it is only natural that Uganda and other African countries are also considering using the chemical to battle one of their biggest human and economic scourges. "DDT has been proven, over and over again, to be the most effective and least expensive method of fighting malaria," said Ugandan health minister Jim Muhwezi. "Europe and America became malaria-free because of using DDT, and now we too intend to get rid of malaria by using it."

But thanks to the EU's not-so-subtle threats, many Ugandans have now second thoughts whether they can afford to save their people from dying. The country's $32 billion in annual agricultural exports to the EU are at risk." (Kendra Okonski and Niger Innis, The Wall Street Journal)

"Beware Deadly Pools" - "GENEVA -- Just when you may have thought that the global debate on the role that drug patents play in access to medicines had died down, it rose again in prominence at the 58th World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting in Geneva. The latest discussions, as with previous ones, unfortunately have less to do with improving healthcare than with politics and, in this case, power and are unlikely to bring any improvements in healthcare. The danger is that if taken seriously, these proposals could do actual harm." (Richard Tren, TCS)

"To stop evolution: New way of fighting antibiotic resistance demonstrated by Scripps scientists" - "A team of scientists at The Scripps Research Institute and the University of Wisconsin have demonstrated a new way of fighting antibiotic resistance: by stopping evolution." (Scripps Research Institute)

... or send the bugs to Kansas?

"Trumpeting vaccination may only entrench opposition" - "Extolling the safety and benefits of childhood vaccinations may only serve to strengthen and entrench the positions of those philosophically opposed to them, says new research led by University of Toronto scientists." (University of Toronto)

Oh boy... "The Age of Autism: Mercury ascending" - "A year ago, the prestigious Institute of Medicine slammed the door on the idea that mercury in vaccines bore any relation to autism." (United Press International)

"The Ratsbane of Our Existence?" - "GENEVA -- One of Shakespeare's characters sputters at an adversary, "I would the milk thy mother gave thee when thou suck'dst her breast had" contained ratsbane, a poisonous chemical. According to activists, it's not breast milk but infant formula that now may contain the infectious equivalent of ratsbane, so they are pushing for a worldwide ban on it." (Henry I. Miller, TCS)

Still hawking this nonsense: "Chemicals' toxicity debated" - "They're in soap. And hair spray. Baby toys. Hand lotion. Deodorant. Vinyl upholstery. Nail polish. And perfume. Chemicals known as phthalate esters are so prevalent, in fact, that most personal hygiene products and soft PVC plastics contain some -- and most Americans have traces of the compounds circulating inside their bodies, according to government reports." (San Jose Mercury News)

"No green winner in nappy debate" - "Whether parents use disposable or cloth nappies makes little difference to the environment, a report has concluded." (BBC)

"Animal defense seen as terror" - "COMMACK, N.Y. -- Last month, animal rights extremists followed the wife of a pharmaceutical company executive to her job, rifled through her car and stole a credit card. They used it buy $20,000 in traveler's checks, which they then donated to four charities. The actions by the radical Animal Liberation Front (ALF) appear to be the latest salvo in an ongoing battle that pits scientists, businesses and labs involved in animal research against those intent on stopping them." (AP)

"Terrorism by Activist Extremists Rising" - "WASHINGTON -- Environmental and animal rights activists who have turned to arson and explosives are the nation's top domestic terrorism threat, an FBI official told a Senate committee on Wednesday. Groups such as the Animal Liberation Front, the Earth Liberation Front and Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty are "way out in front" in terms of damage and number of crimes, said John Lewis, the FBI's deputy assistant director for counterterrorism." (Associated Press)

Uh-oh! "Marshes tell story of medieval drought, little ice age, and European settlers near NYC" - "Sediment layers from a tidal marsh in the Hudson River Estuary provide great details on the area's climate. They have preserved pollen from plants, seeds, and other materials. These past remnants allowed researchers from Columbia University, New York, N.Y. and NASA to see evidence of a 500 year drought from 800 A.D. to 1300 A.D., the passing of the Little Ice Age and the impacts of European settlers." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office)

But... the IPCC features Mann's hokey stick graph which indicates NASA/GSFC are highlighting events already airbrushed out of history. Someone hasn't got their memory holes straight.

Groan... "Does global warming kill 150,000 people a year?" - "That's our best guess. The dramatic statistic cropped up again on Monday when Greenpeace protesters chained themselves to half-built cars at the Land Rover factory in Solihull, West Midlands. "150,000 people are already dying every year as a result of the impacts of climate change including droughts, floods and storms. Yet Land Rover continues to make gas-guzzling vehicles, most of which will tackle nothing steeper than a speed bump," Greenpeace says. But where does the 150,000 figure come from? The answer, it turns out, is a World Health Organisation scientist, Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum." (The Guardian)

Oh boy. Even if (a really big if) it is reasonable to extrapolate an association of 5% increase in hospitalised diarrhoea cases in Peru with 1 °C temperature rise to a global mortality guesstimate it takes no account of the reduction in coronary and respiratory associated mortalities linked with colder weather. Are any of these hypothetical mortalities "excess deaths" that could be attributed to "global warming" and even if they are is it not both more expedient and more reasonable to address problems of sanitation, potable water supply, hygiene and poverty rather than horrendously expensive non-fixes to apparent non-problems?

According to the CIA World Fact Book, 54% of Peru's population is subsisting below the poverty line. Don't you suppose we could think of a few things to worry about before the phantom menace of "global warming"?

"Global Warming Kills Species, Endangers Humans - Scientists" - "BROOKLIN, Canada, May 18 - Global warming may now be the largest cause of soaring rates of species extinctions, which threaten the global ecosystems that sustain life on Earth, scientists say." (IPS)

"Climate Signals" - "Hardly a week goes by without somebody telling President Bush that his passive approach to global warming is hopelessly behind the times, that asking industry for voluntary reductions in greenhouse gas emissions won't work and that what's needed is a regulatory regime that asks sacrifices of everyone. He's heard this from his political allies here and abroad - from Tony Blair, George Pataki and Arnold Schwarzenegger, to name three - and now he is hearing it from the heaviest hitters in the business world, including, most recently, Jeffrey Immelt, the chief executive of General Electric." (New York Times)

Whoops! Immelt made a pitch for public money to bolster GE's bottom line (GE makes wind turbines and other products that would directly benefit from the public theft subsidy that seems to be demanded by climate hysterics). NYT wanting to pump public moneys into corporate coffers is certainly a new editorial direction for the Old Gray Lady.

"To track global warming, watch the water flow" - "Say 'climate change' and people tend to think global warming. But we also should think about water, specifically, the cycle of precipitation, evaporation, and river flow that is a key climate component. A little decline here, a little boost there, can have direct effects on how we live our lives." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Clinton: Beware of global warming" - "COPENHAGEN, Denmark -- Global warming is the biggest challenge the world faces, but too many people don't take it seriously, former President Clinton said Tuesday. Climate change "is the only problem that actually has the potential to end the way our civilization works," Clinton told reporters during a visit to Denmark. The former U.S. president also said wealthy nations face the challenge of maintaining social standards amid competition from low-wage workers in developing countries." (The Associated Press)

"'Action' call over climate change" - "Scotland is lagging badly behind the rest of the UK in the fight against climate change, it has been claimed. A report by the Scottish Parliament's environment committee says tough targets should be set to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It said these should include holding traffic at 2001 levels by 2021 and that some form of road user charging "must" be introduced." (BBC)

"Australia: Winter rainfall to desert the nation" - "National Climate Centre senior climatologist Grant Beard said warmer-than-average surface temperatures in the Pacific and Indian oceans pointed to a warmer and drier season ahead." (Sydney Australian)

"Drought 'no proof' of climate change" - "The Federal Government's chief scientist, Robin Batterham, says the current drought in Australia is not evidence of significant climate change. Dr Batterham says extreme weather conditions will be the first tell-tale signs of global warming. He says Australia is a country prone to long periods of drought and for the full effects of climate change, scientists need to look to other countries." (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

"New Zealand: Brian Fallow: Green and mean" - "Today’s Budget will include a new tax on the carbon content of fossil fuels. The rationale is to set up a means of sending price signals to consumers to conserve energy and to electricity generators to invest in renewables (or geological sequestration). But in the area where a price signal would do most good, forestry, the silence is deafening. Climate-change policy in that key sector is a shambles." (New Zealand Herald)

"Wind farm 'catastrophic' for isle" - "The environmental impact of the world's largest proposed onshore wind farm could be 30 times worse than expected, a peatland expert has warned. A report commissioned by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds says a massive wind farm on the Isle of Lewis could be "catastrophic." (BBC)

"Wind farms 'must take root in UK'" - "Wind power must be made to work in the UK in order to combat climate change, a report by the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) has said" (BBC)

"Utilities put cap on wind power" - "Just when it looked like smooth sailing for wind power generation, electric power companies, its main buyers, have placed limits on their purchases, citing the unreliability of the clean energy." (Asahi Shimbun)

"Climate change pushes N-power back on the agenda" - "LONDON - Nuclear power has surged back onto the agenda as a solution for global warming as leaders of the world's richest nations try to draw up a blueprint for staving off climate disaster. Nuclear may be emission-free but environmentalists say the new trend is poorly conceived, misguided and at worst dangerous. "Nuclear power is back on the agenda because the industry is lobbying powerfully," said Friends of the Earth energy specialist Roger Higman." (Reuters)

"Suddenly, a light shines on nuclear power" - "The mood in the nuclear power industry has dramatically brightened. Both in the United States and abroad, industry officials, dare we say it, radiate optimism." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Dawning of the New Nuclear Age" - "Professor James Lovelock's Gaia theory describes the earth as working like a giant living organism. According to Lovelock, Gaia -- derived from the Greek for goddess of the earth -- is physically and chemically entwined with life on this planet. For his work, Lovelock has been lauded as one the world's leading environmentalists. It may come as a surprise, therefore, to hear that the scientist is backing nuclear power as the energy source of the future." (The Business, London)

"Groups Seek Tougher EPA Rules on Mercury from Power Plants" - "WASHINGTON — Some of the nation's top environmental groups said Tuesday they will join the efforts of at least 13 states hoping to force industry to install mercury pollution controls tougher than those imposed this spring by the Environmental Protection Agency." (Associated Press)

"You can do the right thing" - "It's been just another week for Greenpeace executive director Stephen Tindale, arrested after chaining himself to a 4x4 production line in Solihull. He tells Aida Edemariam how he did it and why cheap air travel is the next target in the battle for the environment." (The Guardian)

It's doubtful Greenpeace would recognise "the right thing" if it leapt up & bit 'em on the butt.

"Citizens' jury to weigh up the case for nanotechnology" - "Greenpeace and scientists at Cambridge University have launched a public debate on nanotechnology, the science of the vanishingly small. The debate, taking the form of a five-week citizens' jury, was set up amid fears that without public consultation nanotechnology could suffer a backlash similar to that over genetically modified food." (The Guardian)

"Failure to create GM legislation is 'criminal'" - "[ENTEBBE] A former Ugandan minister for agriculture who is now a senior official at the International Food Policy Research Institute used a colourful speech last month to state that failure to accept GM crops in Africa is both unjust and based on irrational fears. Addressing a meeting on biotechnology and biosafety in Entebbe, Uganda on 18-20 April, Wilberforce Kisamba-Mugerwa said that delaying the enactment of laws that promote biotechnology to fight hunger is a glaring denial of justice to the poor." (SciDev.Net)

"Two-thirds Of Russians Unwilling To Eat Gm-food" - "MOSCOW, May 18 - According to a poll conducted by the All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM), about two-thirds of Russians say they are not ready to eat foodstuffs comprising genetically-modified (GM) ingredients." (RIA Novosti)

"GMO Coffee in Laboratories But No Sell-By Date Yet" - "LONDON - Researchers in countries such as Brazil, France and the US are trying to develop genetically modified coffee that is naturally caffeine-free, can be more easily harvested, or better resist drought, frost and disease." (Reuters)

May 18, 2005

"Fire-Resistant Mattresses Ignite Fear of Chemicals" - "The Consumer Product Safety Commission's January proposal to require mattress manufacturers to make their products resistant to open-flame fires has been in the making since the commission was created more than 30 years ago. And some wonder whether it was worth the wait." (Washington Post)

"Are mosquito repellents like DEET safe?" - "Some people still fear DEET because of 14 potentially DEET-related seizures over 40 years. (Boston Globe)

Relative to what - vector-borne disease?

"Who Needs WHO?" - "GENEVA -- The World Health Assembly began this week for many people with a long and boring wait in the rain in order to register. The queue that snaked along slowly was made up largely of hundreds of Taiwanese, waiting for the solitary WHO official on duty to grant them access to the meeting. Taiwan's efforts to become a fully recognised member of the WHO seem to have been thwarted by the People's Republic of China as it would conflict with that country's one China policy. One has to ask however, why Taiwan would even want to be part of the WHO as it seems to be doing pretty well without it." (Richard Tren, TCS)

"More Diseases Pinned on Old Culprit: Germs" - "Germs, scientists are learning, are probably the cause of many illnesses that were never thought to be infectious, and determining exactly how a germ contributes to disease is no longer simple." (New York Times)

"The Costly Diversion" - "GENEVA -- Critics of trade say it is heartless -- it delivers profit and growth but ignores the human dimension, like the HIV/AIDS crisis. Getting the World Trade Organization to focus on this dimension has been Africa's contribution to the Organization. Securing a guarantee that WTO rules on intellectual property would not deny AIDS-ravaged countries access to life-saving drugs at affordable prices was virtually Africa's pre-condition for supporting negotiations in the WTO to reduce trade barriers. They got the guarantee, but the whole issue has turned out to be fraudulent. The drugs in question were neither cheaper nor effective. HIV sufferers in developing countries are no better off and consumers in these poor countries have been denied for several years the opportunity to improve their lives by having access to cheaper imports." (Alan Oxley, TCS)

America, land of the... ruled and regulated? "Seattle tries to restrict vending near schools" - "Hoping to discourage back-of-the-van pizza peddlers from luring school kids with their greasy but delicious wares, the Seattle City Council yesterday voted to ban mobile vendors within 1,000 feet of public schools." (Seattle Times)

"Junk food a cash cow for schools" - "Is it time to kill the cheese zombie? That's the recommendation of well-meaning lawmakers in California. Concerned about the epidemic of obesity among school children, they have backed legislation to boot junk food off school campuses. The "zombie," a cheese-filled bread snack that has been popular at some East Bay schools for years, might be considered for extinction. Sounds like a great idea, doesn't it? And it is, except for one problem. It doesn't work. At least so far. The dirty little secret of school lunches is that all that awful stuff -- the cookies, burgers, potato chips, pizza and soda pop -- is paying the freight for those healthy school lunches we all say we want." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"For these kids, learning ABCs means apples, broccoli and carrots" - "As schools nationwide contend with an epidemic of obese kids, one preschool has been teaching children as young as 3 to choose fruit and veggies over junk food. (Associated Press)

They should stop eating TVs because: "Children grow fat on TV diet" - "Children spend more time watching television than exercising and are more likely to eat high-fat food than fruit and vegetables." (Sydney Australian)

"Global Warming May Halt Apple Farming in 100 Years" - "South Korea will become a land where apples cannot grow, if its yearly average temperature additionally rises 2 degrees Celsius, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said." (Seoul Korea Times)

"U.N. seeks climate 'roadmap' beyond Kyoto" - "BONN, Germany - The world should work out a roadmap this year for extending the U.N. Kyoto protocol on global warming beyond 2012 even though many rich states are far from complying, the U.N.'s climate change chief said on Tuesday. "There are a number of countries ... that are far from their targets" for greenhouse gas emissions, Joke Waller-Hunter, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, told Reuters during a two-day 190-nation seminar." (Reuters)

"What Can the World Expect Post-Kyoto?" - "Over 150 countries are meeting in Bonn, Germany to discuss the post-Kyoto Protocol era. One of the major calls is for the world's largest polluter, the United States, and developing nations to participate when the protocol expires in 2012." (Agence France-Presse)

No, duh! "Post Kyoto talks start in tough climate" - "Talks started on Monday to draw up a treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions after 2012, when the existing Kyoto Protocol to fight climate change runs out. Experts nominated by more than 100 governments met in Bonn, Germany, on the first lap of negotiations likely to last two years or more.

But the first day revealed a fault line between governments. Some want a second phase of the Kyoto Protocol, with a similar recipe of national emissions targets and trading in pollution permits. But others want to tear up the Kyoto blueprint and start again, with a different system of targets - or perhaps no legally binding targets at all." (NewScientist.com news service)

"US Doubts New Kyoto Climate Deal after 2012" - "BONN - Washington doubted the survival of the UN's Kyoto protocol on global warming beyond 2012 on Tuesday as many nations hailed the first UN talks on a long-term widening of the accord. "It's not clear that there's going to be a Kyoto effort beyond 2012," Harlan Watson, US senior climate negotiator, told Reuters on the second day of a two-day 190-nation seminar on ways to renew Kyoto beyond a first period running to 2012." (Reuters)

"Deep divisions remain as countries look for global warming solution" - "BONN, Germany - Deep divisions lingered at an international conference grouping the world's economic giants on how to combat global warming, which host country Germany warned was already starting to bite, threatening increased flooding, drought and famine. "Climate change is already a harsh reality," German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin told delegates on Tuesday." (AFP)

"Australia ready for 'long-term solutions' on global warming" - "BONN - Australia, which along with the United States has not ratified the UN's Kyoto Treaty on climate change, said it was ready to work on "long-term solutions" to the problem of global warming of the earth's atmosphere." (AFP)

"Climate change: risk and opportunity" - "British businesses are taking climate change very seriously, both as a potential commercial opportunity and a risk factor that could affect their markets, according to a survey published today." (The Guardian)

Gasp! Egad! "Queen's Speech Ignores Climate Change" - "Today's Queen's Speech has been condemned by Friends of the Earth for ignoring climate change completely. The Queen's Speech - one of the biggest ever with 50 Bills and draft Bills announced - includes no measures to restrict the emission of climate changing gases." (Fiends of the Earth)

"Payout idea to save rainforests" - "Developing nations should be paid to preserve tropical rainforests as part of a drive to slow global warming, according to suggestions made at a two-day climate seminar in Bonn yesterday." (The Guardian)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"Can Rising Atmospheric CO 2 Concentrations Prevent the Thermal Bleaching of Corals?" - "There are some incredibly pertinent experiments that appear to answer this question in the affirmative." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Glaciers (North America)" - "We present a brief review of Baked Alaska glaciers and other icy delights from adjoining territories." (co2science.org)

"UV-B Radiation (Effects on Terrestrial Ecosystems)" - "How might atmospheric CO 2 enrichment impact the deleterious effects of UV-B radiation on earth's terrestrial biosphere?" (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: Blackberry, Canadian Goldenrod, Nepalese Browntop and Radish." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"Problems with Global Climate Models: Cloud Representations" - "How bad are they?  And what does the answer to this question imply about the Kyoto Protocol and what its proponents propose should follow it?" (co2science.org)

"Negative Climate Feedback and Short Response Time Seen in Mt. Pinatubo Eruption" - "What do the results imply about current climate models and their predictions of CO 2 -induced global warming?" (co2science.org)

"Climate and Marine Fishing in Medieval Europe" - "An interesting study reveals how the two are, and are not, related." (co2science.org)

"Atmospheric CO 2 Enrichment Impacts Three Trophic Levels in a Study of Transgenic Cotton" - "A study of CO 2 effects on each level of a crop-herbivore-predator association reveals many interrelated impacts.  What is the bottom-line result?" (co2science.org)

"CO 2 Effects on Forest Understory Plants and Arthropods" - "Are they what one would expect in light of what we have learned from studies with fewer interacting biological entities?" (co2science.org)

But it is natural: "Big Island volcano is big polluter; health effects under study" - "Kilauea volcano, one of Hawaii's most popular tourist attractions, is also by far the state's worst air polluter. Researchers now are trying to determine if that also makes it one of the state's biggest health risks." (Associated Press)

"Scotland faces 40% slump in electricity supply" - "Scientists warned yesterday that Scotland will face a 40 per cent drop in its electricity generating capacity unless tough decisions are taken on replacing current nuclear power stations." (Edinburgh Scotsman)

"Plant life" - "Nuclear power is making a comeback in Britain - so the rumour goes. But who exactly is calling for its return, asks Tom Burke, and what of the coal option?" (The Guardian)

"Holding Experts to Account" - "Over the past several decades, governments in the developed world have delegated power to administrative and expert bodies to an unprecedented extent. In many more cases, credulous acceptance of "expert" advice in lieu of debate constitutes effective delegation. This trend, whilst inevitable, has accelerated to the point where it is undermining both democracy and freedom." (Alan Anderson, TCS)

May 17, 2005

"If Wishes Were Horse, This Would Be the Kentucky Derby" - "GENEVA, Switzerland -- The 58th World Health Assembly (the World Health Organization's policy-making body) under way here brings to mind the cliché about the contestants in the Miss America pageant who, when asked what would be their one wish if anything would be granted, all gave the same vapid answer, "World peace." Dozens of presentations and scores of pamphlets and documents here outline grandiose, wholly unachievable goals for the improvement of public health around the world." (Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko, TCS)

"Autism may be linked to difficult births - study" - "ATLANTA - A difficult birth or a history of mental illness in a parent may put a baby at greater risk for autism, according to a study that may provide clues to the causes of the devastating neurological disability. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday that in a study of 698 Danish children with the developmental disorder, researchers found a disproportionately high number had been born before the 35th week of pregnancy, had suffered from low birth weights and were in a breech position at birth. The children, all of whom were born after 1972 and diagnosed with autism before 2000, also were more likely to have a parent who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia-like psychosis before the autism was discovered." (Reuters)

"Rural mobile phone use 'riskier'" - "Using a digital mobile phone in rural areas may pose a greater risk of developing brain tumours than it does in urban settings, a study suggests. Researchers found using a mobile in rural areas tripled the risk of malignant or benign tumours compared to urban users. But the industry said the findings were not backed up by recent research." (BBC)

"UK: Tube air 'better than outdoors'" - "The Underground has much lower levels of pollution than the air around London's busy roads, say researchers. A study found the Tube has far lower levels of more dangerous ultra-fine particles, thought to be damaging to health, than are found on busy roads. The Tube has larger dust particles that are made of iron, rather than carbon. The team, writing in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found any harmful minerals were well below levels allowed in the workplace." (BBC)

"Europe's rules forcing U.S. firms to clean up" - "Europe has replaced the US at the vanguard of regulating toxic chemicals. And US companies, unwilling to surrender sales, are struggling to meet the EU's tough stand on toxics." (Los Angeles Times)

"Why puberty now begins at seven" - "In the western world children are reaching puberty at younger and younger ages - some girls at the age of seven. The reasons for this trend is unknown, although several theories have been suggested." (BBC)

"FREE No More" - "Judicial politics is in the news, so readers may want to know about the latest attack on the federal judiciary: No, not by Tom DeLay, but the assault from the left against judicial seminars.

These are events designed to let judges and law professors build their intellectual capital by taking a few days to learn about a subject at a nice locale. One of the most popular has been hosted for 14 years by the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment, or FREE, a Bozeman, Montana, group that promotes free-market environmentalism.

The FREE seminars are now under attack from something called the Community Rights Counsel, one of those highly litigious outfits that shouts "conflict of interest" at the drop of a hat. Chief agitator Douglas Kendall has run a campaign against the seminars because FREE "receives its funding from both corporations that litigate in federal court" and because the seminars include trips to "resorts where judges are wined, dined, and instructed on how and why to strike down federal environmental laws." His implication is that a week in the Montana air amounts to a re-education camp in which judges will emerge like Cambodians indoctrinated by the Khmer Rouge." (The Wall Street Journal)

Not so Green: "Australia: Young less environmentally aware: report" - "Young Australians are less environmentally aware than older people, a new report has revealed. The young are less likely to regard themselves as environmentalists, to be avid recyclers or to believe that urgent action is needed to avoid serious environmental damage, the Australia Institute report says. "It is often claimed that Australia's youth is more environmentally aware than other generations but the evidence shows that it is older Australians who are the most concerned," the left-wing think tank's deputy director Richard Denniss said in a statement." (AAP)

How disappointing for the Birkenstock-brigade - indoctrination just isn't what it used to be...

"NOAA: 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Outlook" - "SUMMARY: NOAA’s 2005 Atlantic hurricane season outlook indicates a 70% chance of an above-normal hurricane season, a 20% chance of a near-normal season, and only a 10% chance of a below-normal season. This outlook is produced by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center (CPC), Hurricane Research Division (HRD), and National Hurricane Center (NHC). See NOAA’s definitions of above-, near-, and below-normal seasons.

The outlook calls for 12-15 tropical storms, with 7-9 becoming hurricanes, and 3-5 of these becoming major hurricanes. The likely range of ACE index is 120%-190% of the median. This prediction reflects a very likely continuation of above-normal activity that began in 1995.

The predicted 2005 activity reflects 1) an expected continuation of conditions associated with the tropics-wide multi-decadal signal, which has favored above-normal Atlantic hurricane seasons since 1995, and 2) an expected continuation of warmer sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean than can be accounted for by the multi-decadal signal alone. The outlook also reflects the expectation of ENSO-neutral conditions (no El Niño or La Niña) during August-October, the peak months of the hurricane season. An updated Atlantic hurricane outlook will be issued in early August." (NOAA)

"NOAA: 2005 Tropical Eastern North Pacific Hurricane Outlook" - "SUMMARY: NOAA scientists are forecasting a 70% probability of a below normal tropical eastern North Pacific hurricane season during 2005, a 20% probability of near-normal season, and only a 10% probability of an above-normal season. This outlook is a joint effort of scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center (CPC), the Hurricane Research Division (HRD) and the National Hurricane Center (NHC). See Background Information for NOAA’s definitions of above-, near-, and below-normal seasons.

NOAA’s 2005 outlook for the tropical eastern North Pacific hurricane season calls for 11-15 tropical storms (average is 15-16), with 6-8 becoming hurricanes (average is 9), and 2-4 becoming major hurricanes (average is 4-5). This outlook reflects the ongoing multi-decadal signal that has been acting to suppress East Pacific hurricane activity since 1995, combined with the expectation of ENSO neutral conditions during much of the season.

This is NOAA’s first operational outlook for the eastern North Pacific hurricane region, which covers the tropical eastern North Pacific east of 140oW. Prior to this, NOAA issued experimental East Pacific outlooks for both the 2003 and 2004 hurricane seasons. There will be no updates to this outlook." (NOAA)

"Spring's start coming earlier, study blames global warming" - "WASHINGTON - Each spring, the robins are arriving in Wisconsin several days earlier than they did a decade ago. Endangered woodpeckers in North Carolina are laying their eggs about a week earlier than they did 20 years ago. And some of Washington, D.C.'s signature cherry trees bloom about a month earlier than they did a half-century ago. The first signs of spring are appearing earlier in the year, and a new study from Stanford University released Monday says man-made global warming is clearly to blame. Mother Nature has rushed spring forward by nearly 10 days worldwide, on average, in just 30 years, the study shows." (KRT)

... In England, farmers have seen their growing season decline by about two weeks since 1950, with a resultant overall loss in grain production estimated at up to 100,000 tons annually. -- Peter Gwynne, p64, Newsweek, April 28, 1975. (see .pdf image)

UStemp.gif (18879 bytes) Hmm... the NCAR temperature change graphic reproduced in the 1975 Newsweek article suggests peak temperature in the 1940s, the GISS graphic dating from 2000 suggests the 1930s were warmer, at least in the US (click thumbnail for larger image). If we make the possibly rash assumption that temperature and growing season are directly correlated and that the period 1950-1975 does not represent the total reduction in growing season (things apparently having been warmer in the '40s or even '30s) then it is plausible that there was a reduction of 20 days or more in the total growing season. If we further guesstimate that there has been a more or less even distribution of earlier thaw and late freeze we would then assume that a Spring thaw some 10 days earlier than 1975 (i.e. 30 years ago) would represent a return to conditions of, um... the 1930s/1940s (~60-70 years ago).

So, we'd be left with the hypotheses that the current growing season is somewhat similar to, if not identical to that of the 1930s/1940s; that current thaw occurs at a time similar to, if not identical to the 1930s/1940s and; according to Stanford University, 'man-made global warming is clearly to blame'.

Right... Who knew we were so terrible?

"Economics, not climate, the key" - "THE essayist and publisher Ernest Benn once wrote: “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it wrongly and applying unsuitable remedies.”

This came to mind when Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk recently claimed that malaria rates would quadruple in coming years and that nonmalarial areas such as Gauteng would become malarial because of global warming. Van Schalkwyk has not only wrongly diagnosed the trouble, but his solutions are potentially damaging.

The notion that global warming, or climate change, will lead to an increased spread of insect-borne diseases is not a new one. For years environmental groups have been claiming what Van Schalkwyk has just stumbled across, and they, too, are wrong." (Richard Tren, Business Day)

"Determining Climate Sensitivity from Volcanoes: Observations vs. Models" - "Recently there have been several papers published that have attempted to use the evolution of the earth’s temperature after big volcanic eruptions as a determinate of the earth’s climate sensitivity—that is, how much the average temperature changes with a change in climate forcing (i.e. a change of energy input). Having a good understanding of the climate sensitivity is key to having a good understanding of future climate change." (World Climate Report)

Trying to find a downside for a booming biosphere: "Increased carbon dioxide spurs plant, pollen growth" - "It may seem an odd connection, but allergies may be linked to fossil fuels." (Stamford Advocate)

"UK 'needs to do more' on climate" - "The Royal Society, the UK's academy of science, says the government's policies on climate change are not enough to combat the effects of global warming. It is warning that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions could increase if the UK becomes more reliant on fossil fuels." (BBC)

The Royal Society issues Papal Bull (EnviroSpin Watch)

"U.N. climate talks start hunt for Kyoto successor" - "BONN, Germany - A U.N. meeting took a tiny first step on Monday toward finding a successor to the Kyoto protocol on global warming, with calls for the United States and developing nations to take part after 2012. But India, China and Brazil told rich nations to do more to keep promises of cuts in their own emissions of heat-trapping gases before trying to widen the accord. They also urged the rich to provide more aid and non-polluting energy technologies." (Reuters)

Weekly Whipple: "Climate: Earth brightens up"  -"Boulder, CO, May. 16 -- The 25-year battle for clean air seems to be paying off in a brighter and possibly warmer Earth." (Dan Whipple, UPI)

"China warns of danger of melting Everest glaciers" - "BEIJING - Global warming is shrinking glaciers on the Tibet side of Mount Everest faster than ever, putting world water supplies at risk, Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday. Chinese scientists researching the world's tallest peak, which China refers to by its Tibetan name, "Qomolangma," had found clear evidence of increasing glacial melting, Xinhua said. "Global warming has resulted in glaciers melting fast in the Mount Qomolangma area ... threatening the balance of global water resources," it said." (Reuters)

"U.S. rejects airline climate taxes, EU considers" - "BONN - The United States said on Monday it would be too harsh on airlines to tax emissions of heat-trapping gases from their planes, even though the European Union reaffirmed it was considering measures. It would be "pretty difficult" to impose extra costs for airlines, said Harlan Watson, the senior U.S. climate negotiator, at a U.N. meeting of government experts to discuss ways to rein in global warming.

The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that aviation causes 3.5 percent of global warming, widely blamed on human activities, and that the figure could rise to 15 percent by 2050. In contrast with Watson, the European Commission expressed a willingness to include aviation, perhaps by imposing taxes or charges on aviation fuel or by widening the trading of emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide. "We believe that we need to tackle aviation emissions also in the future climate policy review after 2012," said Artur Runge-Metzger, head of the Commission's climate, ozone and energy unit." (Reuters)

"Storage proposal for carbon emissions" - "LONDON, England -- Carbon dioxide could be buried underground as a means of combating climate change, scientists have suggested. The scheme could see millions of tons of the greenhouse gas, which environmental experts say is the main cause of global warming, pumped into exhausted oil and natural gas reservoirs such as those underneath the North Sea. Professor Stuart Haszeldine, a geologist at Edinburgh University, told CNN that geological storage was an immediate and viable proposition for cutting carbon emissions." (CNN)

Pretty much says it all: "Greenpeace demo disrupts Land Rover plant" - "LONDON - A number of protesters from environmental group Greenpeace were arrested on Monday after disrupting production at a Land Rover factory in the English Midlands, police said. The group of 31 stopped production of Ford's Range Rover sports utility vehicles to protest their "gas-guzzling" fuel consumption. Police said 15 people were arrested for trespassing. "We're really pleased," a Greenpeace spokeswoman told Reuters, adding that the protest had been good natured. "We managed to stop production of Range Rovers for a whole day and we sent a very clear message to the company that it's completely unacceptable that they're making these gas-guzzlers, especially for urban use." (Reuters)

"Ceres power cell sets world alight" - "THE company developing a fuel cell that could provide every home with its own electricity will tell the stock market today that it has passed a series of industry tests with flying colours." (London Times)

"Is Britain's future really nuclear?" - "When the "father" of the environmental movement, James Lovelock, declared that nuclear energy was the only practical answer to the challenges of global warming he set off a chain reaction." (BBC)

"Cleaner coal could have role to play in cutting carbon emissions" - "In the debate over nuclear energy, wind farms and the need to cut carbon dioxide emissions, one fuel source has been largely overlooked: coal. Seen as dirty, inefficient and high in emissions, coal has been portrayed as part of the problem rather than of the solution to climate change. Even so, coal-fired power stations are an important part of the energy mix. However, it could provide a relatively cheap way to cut carbon output, according to Mitsui Babcock, the coal technology specialist. The company has produced a report claiming that reducing emissions by retro-fitting existing coal-fired power stations with more efficient technology, known as clean coal, would be less expensive than using gas and might be cheaper than wind turbines." (Financial Times)

"China to build wind farms offshore" - "BEIJING, China -- China has unveiled plans to make offshore wind farms a key part of its renewable energy program within two or three decades. The wind turbines, which would be built 50 kilometers (30 miles) out to sea, would be ideally situated to supply clean power to the populous and booming east coast area." (China Daily)

"Global wind map may provide better locations for wind farms" - "A new global wind power map has quantified global wind power and may help planners place turbines in locations that can maximize power from the winds and provide widely available low-cost energy. After analyzing more than 8,000 wind speed measurements in an effort to identify the world's wind power potential for the first time, researchers suggest that wind captured at specific locations, if even partially harnessed, can generate more than enough power to satisfy the world's energy demands." (American Geophysical Union)

"Deeply held values fuel debate over offshore wind power" - "Wind farms are nothing new to some parts of the United States, where tall, white wind turbines with their giant propellers tower over the landscape, generating electricity with every sweep of their blades. Now these windmills may be coming to an ocean near you -- but not without significant public debate and navigation of a "hodgepodge" of regulations, according to recent University of Delaware research." (University of Delaware)

Oh dear... "Rift shines spotlight on human and animal safety of rBST" - "A recent controversy in Tillamook County over the use of recombinant bovine somatotropin in dairy cows has raised the profile of the debate over whether milk produced from cows supplemented by the growth hormone is safe for human consumption.

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration determined in the early 1990s that there is no difference between milk from cows supplemented by the hormone and milk from cows free of the hormone, certain factions in the environmental and medical communities believe enough questions persist about the milk that its consumption should be banned.

“While there is not 100 percent proof that injecting cows with the growth hormone is increasing cancer rates among humans, there is significant scientific data that gives us cause for concern,” said Rick North, a project director for Physicians for Social Responsibility." (Capital Press Agriculture Weekly)

"Population growth may overcrowd global table" - "Global population growth of nearly 50 percent in the next 45 years will challenge policymakers around the world as never before, a leading agricultural figure said Monday. Speaking at the opening session of the World Agricultural Forum, James B. Bolger, former prime minister of New Zealand, said in the keynote address that "no issue will test the mettle of leaders more than accommodating and feeding an extra 2.6 billion people by 2050 - and alongside that, responding to the very challenging policy implications of aging and declining populations in the developed world." (Post-Dispatch)

May 16, 2005

"GE's Dangerous Gimmick" - "Environmental activists are cheering General Electric's new "Ecomagination" initiative. That's a hint that the rest of us should beware of the gimmicky-sounding program." (Steve Milloy, New York Sun)

"Govt Insists On DDT" - "More strength to Uganda. The government's decision to use DDT will save lives. Like the South African government did in 2000, they should challenge the unscientific opposition to DDT and concentrate on what works best for malaria control, a disease that kills thousands of Ugandans every year." (AFM)

"WHO Papers Over Problem" - "The health assembly is in danger of digressing from its essential task of promoting health by its focus on ways to discourage women from bottle feeding with infant formula. A proposal from the World Health Organization before the assembly to place new, dire warning labels on infant formula tins and packages emphasizes the wrong problem at the wrong time, while neglecting real actions that can save the lives of both parents and babies." (Duane D. Freese, TCS)

"Out of Africa: a baffling variety of diseases" - "Africa is now recognized as an ideal incubator for new pathogens: It has rapidly growing human populations and high biodiversity, along with widespread poverty, poor medical care and, in many countries, armed conflict that forces civilians to flee far from their homes." (Baltimore Sun)

Oo-ah! Celebrities is people too! "'Toxic chemicals' in celebrities" - "Potentially dangerous industrial chemicals were found in celebrities' blood tested for a health campaign." (BBC)

"Study connects banned pesticides to brain ailments" - "Evidence is mounting that farm chemicals designed to kill insects can damage people's brains" (Des Moines Register)

"Toronto pesticide ban upheld by court" - "Ontario's highest court has upheld the City of Toronto's general ban on pesticides, ruling that municipalities across the province have generous powers to pass bylaws for the health and well-being of their citizens." (Toronto Star)

"Irish Sea dolphins have five times EU toxin levels" - "Dolphins and porpoises stranded on Irish beaches have been found to contain high levels of a chemical used in the manufacture of polystyrene, according to a new study of Europe’s coasts." (London Times)

"Fat, Flabby and Forgetful?" - "They're back! Not long after the furor caused by the Centers for Disease Control's revised "figures" which showed that not 400,000 but about 26,000 Americans died annually from obesity and that being overweight might well be protective against premature death, the fat police are at it again with their scary headlines about the dangers of fat. This time the story is perhaps even more dramatic since it is about how middle age obesity "causes" late life dementia. So the supposedly bad news isn't just that being fat will likely kill you before you reach old age, it's also that if by some chance you do survive an early death you can worry about spending your golden years crazy." (John Luik, TCS)

Oh my! This is a bit much! "Global warming generates hot air" - "I've had a letter from Sir David Wallace, CBE, FRS. In his capacity as treasurer and vice-president of the Royal Society, he writes: "We are appealing to all parts of the UK media to be vigilant against attempts to present a distorted view of the scientific evidence about climate change and its potential effects on people and their environments around the world. I hope that we can count on your support."

Gosh! The V-P of the Royal Society! How could anyone not support such an eminent body, especially as Sir David warns: "There are some individuals on the fringes, sometimes with financial support from the oil industry, who have been attempting to cast doubt on the scientific consensus on climate change."

I say! A conspiracy as well. Definitely time to rally round, chaps, and repel fringe individuals. To help us do so, there's a "guide to facts and fictions about climate change written in a non-technical style" that even non-members of the Royal Society can grasp." (London Telegraph)

Let's see... what is that term when the authority du jour makes sure the media presents the approved establishment line? Now, hot on the heels of two previously eminent science journals refusing to publish dissenting letters or studies disputing the "fact" of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW), we have the Royal Society apparently becoming the new Ministry of Propaganda and urging media to sustain the officially approved mantra. Just think, once the Royal Society encouraged robust debate and some strange thing called rigorous science.

The media may be interested in another couple of quotes:

The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin. -- Thomas H. Huxley

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumoured by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.
-- Gautama Buddha

Meanwhile the Royal Society wants you to cast aside journalistic integrity, scepticism, observation and analysis and adopt their mantra in blind faith. So, do we still have an independent press or simple tools of the establishment?

"Climate-change contingent" - "Here is a most interesting analysis of anthropocentric views of climate change: 'A history of human perceptions of anthropogenic climate change in the past 1000 years' (Hans von Storch and Nico Stehr, Ånnaboda, 9-11 May 2005, .pdf):

"Concerns over extensive transformations of the earth's climate have been expressed since the 18th century enlightenment and earlier. And it is plausible that initial discussions contained strong religious elements. In the following we present a list of cases. It seems reasonable to speak of a 'history of anthropogenic climate changes'. Most of the cases were not real; as a matter of fact, none of them proved to be associated with significant impacts related to the suggested dynamical link. But all cases were associated with the perception of significant discontinuities; in most instances the apprehended change was seen as a threat; only rarely were they welcomed as a improvement."

Climate change - remember, it's always been our fault - and bad! "Oh Goddess, Gaia! Forgive our foolish ways!" (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Our Hot, Hazy Future: Global crisis calls for global solutions" - "The Earth is getting hotter, and fast. If the average temperature climbs just a few more degrees – the Environmental Protection Agency estimated in 2002 that it will rise from 3 to 9 degrees this century – we will be living on a planet warmer than any human being has experienced." (Dallas News)

"Bring on this year's scorcher - if only to give Dubya the hint" - "STOCK up on vest tops, swimwear, paddling pools and factor 30 because it’s going to be a long, hot summer, so the Met Office is tantalisingly ‘guesstimating’." (Scotland on Sunday)

The Week That Was May 14, 2005 (SEPP)

"Cool! Climate change and cosmic-ray (CR) intensity (again) " - "A fascinating new paper has just appeared in Advances in Space Research: 'Prediction of expected global climate change by forecasting of galactic cosmic ray intensity time variation in near future based on solar magnetic field data' (A.V. Belov, L.I. Dorman, R.T. Gushchina, V.N. Obridko, B.D. Shelting and V.G. Yanke, in press, Copyright © 2005 COSPAR Published by Elsevier Ltd., available online since May 3 - DOI = doi:10.1016/j.asr.2005.03.088):" (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Wildlife groups axe Bellamy as global warming ‘heretic’" - "PROFESSOR David Bellamy is likely to lose his role as the figurehead of two leading wildlife organisations because of his refusal to believe in man-made global warming. The television presenter and conservationist is the president of Plantlife International and of the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts. Both organisations have given warnings that wildlife faces a catastrophe because of global warming. They have been acutely embarrassed to discover that while they have been campaigning to raise awareness, their president has been leading seminars and writing articles in science magazines declaring that man-made warming is a myth." (Jonathan Leake, Sunday Times)

"Climate change policy in tatters: Urgent action needed to cut greenhouse gas emissions" - "The government's climate change policy is failing and urgent action is needed in this session of parliament if the UK's targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are to be met, the Royal Society says in a report out today. The society says all the gains brought about in the 1990s will be lost and carbon dioxide emissions will continue to rise unless tough political decisions are taken now. The scientists argue that a carbon tax on all users of fossil fuels, such as motorists and industry, and on domestic electricity and gas prices, is required." (The Guardian)

"Study: Climate change to swell, dry up rivers" - "Like oil in the 20th century, water could be the resource that triggers armed conflicts at the end of this century, according to experts forecasting changes in the world's major rivers caused by global warming. Big increases and decreases in the flow volume of the rivers will leave some areas parched while putting others under the constant threat of flooding, according to the research group." (The Asahi Shimbun)

Dopier by the day: "Rebuffing Bush, 132 Mayors Embrace Kyoto Rules" - "SEATTLE, May 13 - Unsettled by a series of dry winters in this normally wet city, Mayor Greg Nickels has begun a nationwide effort to do something the Bush administration will not: carry out the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. Mr. Nickels, a Democrat, says 131 other likeminded mayors have joined a bipartisan coalition to fight global warming on the local level, in an implicit rejection of the administration's policy." (New York Times)

These guys may not have noticed but EU member countries have already implicitly stated their intention not to be involved in any further energy restrictions post 2012 and virtually none have any hope of meeting their "commitments" under Kyoto. Pointless, self-destructive and stillborn and a bunch of third-tier bureaucrats want to sign the nation up to it by stealth.

"Drowning by numbers" - "Blair must convince Bush that carbon trading provides the best chance of dealing with climate change" (The Guardian)

Hmm... will hot air carbon trading ever amount to anything? Doubt it - see: "Europe Adds Headache to Blair's Post-Election Hangover" - "When Tony Blair was reelected British Prime Minister last Thursday, he was entitled to a celebratory glass of champagne. Despite all the sound and fury over the Iraq war, the British people returned him to office with a majority with which any Prime Minister would be happy. He has successfully ridden out the foreign policy problem that threatened to unseat him. Yet another problem awaits as Mr. Blair ascends center stage in the world's eyes when he hosts the G8 meeting and assumes the Presidency of the EU." (Iain Murray, TCS)

"ENVIRONMENT: Heat Rises Over Meeting on Climate Change" - "BONN, May 13 - Experts will review implementation of policies to contain climate change at a meeting in Bonn next week. A seminar of governmental experts to be held May 16-17 will ''review how governments are implementing the commitments they have already made,'' Carrie Assheuer from the office of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in Bonn told IPS. ''It will be an informal exchange,'' Assheuer said. The experts will also look beyond a review to consider other ''policies and measures that support implementation of measures over climate change.'' (IPS)

"U.N. to start marathon in Bonn to widen Kyoto" - "OSLO - A U.N. meeting in Germany next week will start a marathon bid to extend the U.N.'s Kyoto protocol on fighting global warming and persuade the United States and developing nations to take part from 2012. Government experts from almost 200 nations will attend a seminar in Bonn on May 16-17, the first formal U.N. climate meeting since the 150-nation Kyoto protocol entered into force on Feb. 16 after years of delays and hit by a U.S. pullout. The talks may give early clues to the level of enthusiasm about renewing Kyoto when it runs out in 2012. Kyoto is the main weapon in a fight against rising temperatures widely blamed on emissions of heat-trapping gases from cars, power plants and factories." (Reuters)

"Broken promises, hot air" - "A hastily assembled special negotiation of the Kyoto Protocol begins this week in Bonn, Germany, to try and define a future for a climate-change treaty that runs for five years (2008-2012) but already appears dead. This comes on the heels of European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas coming to Washington with the message that Europe is leading on climate change and America could cheaply comply. The public deserves some candor about Kyoto's, and Europe's, actual failure and the radical changes necessary if Europe sincerely believes that American involvement is "critical" in any next steps. What we are witnessing instead is a growing European Union effort for a U.S. bailout from the political corner into which its leaders have painted themselves." (Christopher C. Horner, The Washington Times)

"Seaweed to breathe new life into fight against global warming" - "REMEMBER the names sargassum and Sostera marina: if a group of Japanese scientists is to be believed, the fate of humanity may rest on colossal floating islands of the stuff. The team envisages 100 vast nets full of quick-growing seaweed, each measuring six miles by six miles, floating off the northeast coast of Japan. The seaweed in each net, growing to a weight of 270,000 tonnes a year, will absorb prodigious quantities of greenhouse gases and convert them to oxygen before being harvested 12 months later as a rich source of biomass energy." (London Times)

"Carbon trade-off" - "Oliver Balch considers the morality of industrialised countries buying greenhouse gas emission reductions from developing countries" (The Guardian)

What is the 'morality' of trapping people in poverty to not address a non problem?

"India: Making funeral pyres eco-friendly" - "Over 40 million trees are consumed annually in the conventional Hindu system of cremation, leading to the denudation of 1,500-2,000 sq km of forests. It also results in the emission of 7.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, adding to global warming and polluting surroundings with suspended particulate matter." (The Hindu)

"Importing power, fostering pollution: 4-state electric line encourages coal-fired plants" - "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has committed California to an interstate power project that environmentalists warn could help usher in a new era of electricity generation that will dirty the air and spoil the water for the next 50 years.

Schwarzenegger and the governors of three other states -- Wyoming, Utah and Nevada -- last month pledged support for a proposed 1,300-mile electricity transmission line imagined as a new highway for megawatts in a region starved for more power." (SF Chronicle)

"Government report gives new wind to green energy" - "Wind power is better than nuclear power stations for tackling global warming, the Government's official environmental advisers will tell Tony Blair this week. Their conclusion - after the most comprehensive study of wind energy in Britain - contradicts the Prime Minister's own opinion and could intensify the debate about building new nuclear power stations." (London Independent)

"Big California Wind Farm Wrestles with Bird Deaths" - 'SAN FRANCISCO - California's push to add more renewable electricity to the state's power grid is pressuring wind power developers to reduce the number of birds killed each year at one of the biggest wind farms in the United States." (Reuters)

"Solar Tower of Power" - "In a recent speech, President Bush addressed the need to start building more oil refineries, nuclear power plants, and natural gas terminals to meet the growing demand for energy in the U.S. While improved fuel efficiency for cars was also mentioned, the speech was met with disdain from environmentalists for its reliance on the further expansion of the fossil fuel industry infrastructure.

In today's world, and in the foreseeable future, it's impossible to not have foreign oil as part of the energy mix, but there are advances in new technologies that may make renewables a more viable option for future generations. For instance, in the next year or so, construction will begin in Australia's Outback on the most expansive, and tallest, manmade structure on Earth." (Roy Spencer, TCS)

"Nuclear power gains an edge" - "Alan Johnson, the new trade and industry secretary, raised the prospect of an early a commitment to build a new generation of nuclear power stations as he set a shorter than expected deadline for the government to complete a review of energy policy. While stressing that no decision had yet been taken, Mr Johnson told the Financial Times the government would examine its options "some time this year". A verdict would have to be reached "in plenty of time" to replace Britain's ageing fleet of nuclear stations, all but one of which will have reached the end of their lives by 2023." (Financial Times)

"Country 'needs nuclear power'" - "SCOTLAND’s chief scientific adviser has warned of the "extremely high risks" to power supplies if the country is forced to rely on wind farms and renewable sources for its energy. Professor Wilson Sibbett, who advises the Scottish Executive, declared that nuclear power will be needed to back up renewables, in order to guarantee energy supplies. Renewable sources such as wind, wave and tidal power should be exploited, he said, but warned that they are too inefficient to be relied upon as heavily as ministers plan." (Scotland on Sunday)

"Old Foes Soften to New Reactors" - "WASHINGTON, May 14 - Several of the nation's most prominent environmentalists have gone public with the message that nuclear power, long taboo among environmental advocates, should be reconsidered as a remedy for global warming." (New York Times)

Of all the reasons to consider nuclear power, 'global warming' isn't one of them. That hysterics are prepared to listen regarding nuclear power does not indicate a silver lining to the ridiculous toasted planet scare, rather it grades wailing over AGW as a more effective fundraiser than is being anti nuke.

"The cycle of life" - "Here's a neat comment on Friday's blog about 'Saint' Joan Bakewell and nuclear power ( 'Where have all the flowers gone? , May 13) from Jaime Arbona of the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez (posted with permission):" (EnviroSpinWatch)

"ENVIRONMENT-ARGENTINA: Clean Patagonian Energy from Wind and Hydrogen" - "BUENOS AIRES - A laboratory situated in the southern Patagonia region of Argentina is producing hydrogen from wind energy to supply power to a village -- and prove that it is possible to replace the polluting fuels derived from petroleum." (IPS)

"ENVIRONMENT: Dams Could Win OECD Support" - "BONN - The OECD took a controversial decision Friday to consider loans for large dams on favourable terms." (IPS)

"Pollution, resentment fester amid prosperity" - "This gloomy scene clouds the popular image of China as a rising juggernaut. The country's economic success is coming at a staggering cost to China's environment, including the poisoning of the air, water, land, food and people's livelihoods." (Baltimore Sun)

"Increase in 'dead zones' starving the world's seas" - "One sign of a rapidly growing crisis: this year's annual 'dead zone' in the Gulf of Mexico is earlier and bigger than ever. The number of similar dead zones in the world's seas has doubled every decade since 1960, as a result of increasing pollution." (London Independent)

Charlie won't like this: "Ads warn about alternative medicine" - "Irish people are to be given a strong warning that they should seek medical help before they turn to alternative therapists." (London Times)

"Court rules against farmers opposed to GM canola" - "SASKATOON – A group of Saskatchewan farmers who say genetically modified canola is hurting them financially has suffered a setback in the courts. A judge has dismissed the application of the organic farmers – called the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate – to have a lawsuit against two multinational chemical companies certified as a class action. The farmers were planning to sue Monsanto and Bayer Crop Science for financial losses. They say they lost the organic canola market after the companies introduced genetically modified canola to Canadian farmers." (CBC News)

"An Update on Golden Rice" - "Last year, designated by the United Nation as the Year of Rice, The Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture asked the two inventors of Golden Rice to talk about their discovery and about its future. We also asked Syngenta to clarify its role with the Golden Rice program. All three readily agreed, and in October 2004 in honour of World Food Day, together gave this Syngenta lecture in Basel, Switzerland.

Their remarks are included here in their entirety, except for minor editing to condense pauses and smooth transitions. Each part, including the question and answer follow-up with closing remarks of Syngenta Foundation Excecutive Director, Andrew Bennett, can be viewed on its own.

Among the questions addressed in the lecture; Why Golden Rice * What daily intake of Golden Rice is estimated to help reduce VAD * Who owns Golden Rice * Can farmers freely reuse seed * What is the taste of Golden Rice * Are there cultural issues with eating colored rice * What are the environmental effects * When and where will Golden Rice become available" (Syngenta Foundation)

"Report: Biotech corn in Africa can relieve hunger" - "Washington, D.C. — For years, the proponents of biotechnology have been telling us that genetically engineered crops could relieve hunger around the world. Now comes some evidence that biotech crops really could make a difference, at least in southern Africa. Corn is a staple crop throughout the region, including countries like Zambia and Zimbabwe, where production has been steadily declining. In some countries, people rely on corn for up to 60 percent of their diet. But corn yields are terrible by world standards, not to mention U.S. standards. The lack of commercial fertilizer is part of the problem, but so is the lack of pesticides to control the stalk-destroying insect larvae so familiar to U.S. growers. Farmers in South Africa have started using Bt corn, bioengineered to kill corn borers, and it is making a meaningful difference for both large, commercial farms and small-scale growers, according to a report by economists at the Agriculture Department and Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Yields on large farms have increased about 11 percent. Small-scale farmers also benefit, often more so. Yields for small farms shot up as much as 56 percent in two areas of the country, the report found. Increases in four other regions varied from 7 percent to 47 percent." (The Des Moines Register)

"Genetically Modified Crops Pose Dilemma for Developing Countries" - "May 12, 2005 Geneva - A new study by the UN Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD, highlights the dilemma for developing countries posed by genetically modified organisms. The study urges developing countries to balance the potential benefits and risks from genetically modified crops so as not to endanger the food supply for their populations.

The UNCTAD study reports genetically modified crops pose especially difficult choices for the world's poorer nations. On the one hand, it says farming based on genetically modified organisms may produce bigger and better crops, improve profits for farmers, ease domestic food shortages and facilitate the production of new quality products.

But, the study says developing countries have to weigh these benefits against the potential risks. It says the new technology could disrupt traditional agricultural practices, limit access to seeds, and pose unpredictable environmental and health problems." (Lisa Schlein, AXcess News)

"Firm asks to use altered algae" - "Big Island algae-farmer Mera Pharmaceuticals Inc. is likely to win state permission to bring genetically modified algae into Hawai'i for the production of pharmaceutical drugs." (Honolulu Advertiser)

"Scientists identify genes responsible for 'black rot' disease in vegetables" - "Scientists at four major genomics and plant pathology laboratories in China have collaborated on a project to characterize the causative agent of "black rot" disease, which is the most serious disease of vegetable crops worldwide. Their study, which represents the largest comparative and functional genomics screen for a plant or animal bacterial pathogen to date, is published online today in the journal Genome Research." (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory)

May 13, 2005

"PETA Gets to Your Kids" - "Radical animal-rights activists may be the last people you'd think would be planning school lessons for your children. Well, think again." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Absence of Evidence -- Evidence of Absence?" - "The alternative fringe has embraced a trendy catchphrase: "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." It's cute, it sounds impressively philosophical, and, technically, it actually is true. But it can be deceptive, misinterpreted, and misused. The alternative fringe, which interprets lack of evidence as positive support, in effect expands the slogan to mean: "Absence of evidence is evidence of presence." And the peddler of homeopathic nostrums (water imagined to contain a healing "magnetic resonance" of substances that were diluted in it) has it thus: "Absence of presence is evidence of evidence." But, as a practical matter, is it really true that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence? And is the slogan useful in critical scientific thinking?" (Dr. Marvin J. Schissel, ACSH)

"Global Health: A Kind of Insanity" - "Next week in Geneva, delegates from 192 countries will gather for the 58th annual World Health Assembly -- a giant confab that sets policies for the World Health Organization (WHO), an arm of the United Nations. The WHO faces a severe crisis. Its efforts to fight the two worst global epidemics -- AIDS and malaria, which together killed 4 million last year -- are failing." (James K. Glassman, TCS)

"Polio's Back. Why Now?" - "The fear of vaccines helped the virus spread from Africa to Indonesia. Could it reach the U.S.?" (Time Magazine)

"MMR vaccine does not increase risk of Crohn's disease" - "The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine does not increase the risk of Crohn's disease (chronic inflammation of the intestine), finds a study in this week's BMJ." (BMJ-British Medical Journal)

"Restaurant sales climb with bad-for-you food" - "Consumers may say they want healthier options, but bigger, badder food still sells better" (Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY)

"Home harbors strongest allergens" - "Allergens indoors tend to be more intense than allergens outdoors because they're more concentrated and people sleep with them." (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

"Whiff of new homes less likely to be so toxic" - "In Japan, a change in legislation to combat so-called sick house syndrome is having a radical effect, almost eliminating the number of new homes with high levels of toxic chemicals, including formaldehyde, a survey shows." (Asahi Shimbun)

"US mercury rule lets hazardous air pollutants off the hook" - "Although the debate over the rule focused on how best to control mercury releases, critics say that an opportunity to also regulate several other hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), such as dioxins, arsenic, and lead, may have been lost." (Environmental Science & Technology)

"Atmosphere may cleanse itself better than previously thought" - "The Earth's atmosphere may be more effective at cleansing itself of smog and other damaging hydrocarbons than was once thought. Scientists have learned that some naturally occurring atmospheric chemicals react with sunlight more effectively than previously thought to produce substances that "scrub" the air of smog." (Purdue University)

"Fish get hooked on cooler waters" - "Fish are shifting their homes northwards, according to an analysis of North Sea populations. The authors warn that climate change is probably to blame for the move, which could drive some commercially fished species out of the sea completely." (News @ Nature)

"Ice caps melt while EU cozies up to France" - "Like the sound of a door closing somewhere in the depths of the ocean came the echoing but neglected news this week that climate change has struck another pillar of our European meteorological stability. Scientists from Cambridge have been busy measuring the extent of the cold water sinks under the Greenland ice cap. They had expected to find twenty; instead they found only two and those were performing, according to their measurements, only half-heartedly.

This is not of academic relevance only, for by a process that need not detain us here, the cold water sinks of the Arctic are one of the engines of the Gulf Stream, that current of warm Caribbean water that keeps rivers, like the Liffy, the Thames and the Seine, from freezing over each winter." (Peter Sain ley Berry, EUobserver)

"Photoshopping the Apocalypse: The Gods Are Angry with Michael Crichton" - "The gods are angry with Michael Crichton. "State of Fear" has left global warming only marginally cooler than tossing virgins in volcanoes or serving parboiled PETA directors as hors d'oeuvres. But what's really put Gaia on Prozac is seeing science sacrificed on the altar of media hype.

The latest Earth Day burnt offerings are the New York Times / Discovery Channel's "Supervolcano" and PBS's "Strange Days On Planet Earth". They round out a quadraphonic post-Tsunami barrage of volcanic doom and gloom on educational and cable TV. It includes every eruption you've ever heard of, ranging from Thera to Tambora by way of Pompeii. Why is this 12-hour Gotterdammerung rally hogging PBS and Discovery Channel prime time?" (Russell Seitz, TCS)

"UK: If you can't stand the heat scare, stop reading leaflets from Whitehall" - "I HAVE ALWAYS considered the approach of summer a cause for celebration, and the warmer the better. It seems, however, that I have been dangerously deluded. A hot summer is now officially deemed a health hazard, and the Government’s latest advice is to stay indoors and shut the curtains." (Mick Hume, The Times)

"Feeling the heat: American bosses are starting to take global warming seriously" - "IT COULD have been some evangelical mega-church in red-state America. The faithful gazed fixedly at the pulpit. Devotees of special merit were pointed out and applauded. An expansive southerner stepped up, cried “God bless ya!” and launched into a rip-roaring sermon on the morality of... global warming.

In fact, the preacher was Al Gore, the church a hall in the United Nations building in New York, and the service a conference on May 10th organised by CERES, a coalition of investors and greens, to enlighten Wall Street about climate change." (The Economist)

Friday charivari... (EnviroSpin Watch)

"US to reject UK climate measures" - "The US will not agree to UK measures to tackle climate change, due to be discussed at the upcoming G8 summit, a US presidential negotiator has said. Tony Blair had hoped the US would agree to more investment in low-carbon technology and agreement on emissions. However, President Bush's chief climate negotiator, Harlan Watson, has told the BBC that the US will not agree." (BBC)

"Boost for climate change research" - "A research institute is being set up at the University of York to help scientists work out how the world can manage the impact of climate change." (BBC)

Finally, an honest response: "Southern Co. won't cut carbon output much" - "NEW YORK - Even if high taxes are imposed on emissions of greenhouse gases, it won't make Southern Co. cut back much on emitted carbon dioxide over the next 15 years, the giant coal-burning utility Thursday said in a report to shareholders. Atlanta-based Southern said the imperatives of generating power for its customers in the South, where economic growth is expected to exceed the national average, will mostly trump the added cost of failing to comply with theoretical limits on carbon dioxide emissions." (Associated Press)

"EU Emissions Trade Seen Suited to Planes, Not Autos" - "COLOGNE - Pollution from cars, buses and even farms would not be reduced by adding transport and agriculture to the list of sectors covered by the European Union's emissions trading system, experts said on Thursday." (Reuters)

"Global Fossil Fuel Consumption Surges" - "World use of oil—the dominant fossil fuel—surged by 3.4 percent in 2004, to 82.4 million barrels per day. This represents the fastest rate of increase in 16 years, according to Vital Signs 2005, a Worldwatch Institute report published today." (Worrywarts Inc)

"Buckyballs inhibit bacterial growth" - "There’s more cautionary news about buckyballs. At concentrations as low as 0.4 ppm, water-soluble nanocrystalline aggregates of C60 inhibit the growth of two types of common soil bacteria. They could have impacts on ecosystem health." (Chemical & Engineering News)

"EU postpones key vote on approving new "live" GMO" - "BRUSSELS - The European Commission has postponed a watershed vote of EU environment experts on whether to allow a new genetically modified (GMO) crop to be grown in Europe's fields, officials at the EU executive said on Thursday. There was no new date for the meeting, which was tentatively scheduled for June 6, they said - although in theory, the committee of experts is next due to meet in mid-September. It would have been the EU's first attempt to approve a "live" GMO for planting since 1998, before the bloc began its six-year ban on allowing imports of new GMOs." (Reuters)

"EU Prepares for Busy Timetable on GMO Votes" - "BRUSSELS - The European Commission has scheduled several meetings of EU ministers and member state experts in the coming weeks to debate approving new genetically modified (GMO) crops and foods, officials said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

May 12, 2005

New on CSRwatch.com:

  • CALPers makes the case for personal accounts
  • CBIS mistake computer games for real world risk
  • GE looks for government subsidy (your taxes in their pockets)
  • Governments look to already failed schemes and more...

"Best for Mothers, Best for Babies" - "New mothers are besieged by people telling them what is "best" for their babies -- and pressures to breastfeed have become among the fiercest of all. Ardent breastfeeding advocates once just made mothers feel guilty if they didn't breastfeed, accusing them of laziness or being unloving. Now, they've resorted to frightening vulnerable new moms with unsound scares about formula. They are pushing to restrict the capacity of women in developing countries to decide for themselves whether to breast or bottle feed. It's an agenda that jeopardizes the welfare of millions of mothers and babies." (Sandy Szwarc, TCS)

"Court Tells EPA to Stop Tracking Releases of Widely Used Chemical Solvent" - "WASHINGTON — The government can no longer require chemical makers and users to account for how much methyl ethyl ketone, a widely used ingredient in plastics, textiles and paints, is released into the environment each year. A federal appeals court Tuesday ruled in favor of the American Chemistry Council, which had petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to remove the chemical, known as MEK, from its annual Toxic Release Inventory List." (Associated Press)

"Weak Salmon Run Shuts the Northwest's Fisheries" - "Tens of thousands of adult salmon that were expected to swim up the Columbia River this spring are missing, and their mysterious absence has led state and tribal officials to shut down the commercial fisheries in the river, the Northwest's muscular thoroughfare, for the first time in five years." (New York Times)

"Conservation Begins at Home" - "Waiter! There's a federal scientist in my lobster bisque!" (Opinion Journal)

"Pesticide reaching streams, group says" - "The phasing out of two common household pesticides because of health risks appears to have had an unintended consequence: sharply increased sales of another pesticide harmful to fish that is showing up in increasing levels in Northwest streams, including Portland, Oregon's Fanno Creek." (Portland Oregonian)

"EPA: toxic pollution fell in 2003" - "Releases of toxic chemicals into the environment fell 6 percent in 2003, although the level of mercury, PCBs and dioxin rose, the EPA said Wednesday. Environmentalists expressed concern at the increases in three chemicals that do not easily degrade and work their way up the food chain." (Associated Press)

More Whipple: "Blue Planet: Humans bad for ecosystems" - "BOULDER, Colorado -- One can fret about global warming, nuclear proliferation, asteroid impacts or tsunamis, but for an ecosystem the worst thing that can happen is to have human beings move to the neighborhood." (Dan Whipple, UPI)

Audio comment

Hockey Stick or Slapstick? (Roundtable Slides as .pdf) by Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick (Marshall.org)

"Global warming could worsen malaria in South Africa" - "What nonsense! There is a close correlation between wealth and malaria, but over the long history of man and malaria, no relationship between climate and malaria." (AFM)

"Too hot to handle" - "Our success in cutting air pollution could be actually speeding up global warming. Steve Connor reports on an unexpected consequence of trying to save the planet." (London Independent)

"Can Earth take the heat of 'global brightening'?" - "Break out the Ray-Bans. The amount of sunlight reaching Earth's surface appears to be growing." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Kyoto heat waves hammer the poor" - "Recent articles about global warming in ultra “progressive” Mother Jones magazine reflect a meltdown in fundamental principles of science, economics, ethics and democracy.

The Earth has warmed slightly since the Little Ice Age ended 150 years ago, and humans today are no doubt exerting some influence on our climate. But aside from computer-generated worst-case scenarios about temperatures, storms, melting Arctic icecaps and rising sea levels, there is little to support theories of calamitous global climate change.

Models and clamorous claims of climate catastrophe are not evidence, especially when satellite and weather balloon data show only slight atmospheric warming. So MJ writer Chris Mooney offered a new tactic.

ExxonMobil Corporation’s “products and policies are a slow-moving assault on poor people of color,” who are “on the front lines of climate change,” he asserted.

Thousands of companies produce or burn fossil fuels to power our modern societies. Why single out ExxonMobil? Because the company has not been bullied into agreeing that a climate emergency exists, believes more research is needed, and supports public policy institutes that likewise perceive no evidence of a looming planetary disaster." (Paul Driessen, MichNews.com)

"Climate Models and Consensus Science" - "It is fairly easy to calculate the likely rise of global average temperature DT for the purely theoretical situation where atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is doubled but nothing else about the atmosphere is allowed to change. The answer is about 1.2 degrees Celsius, and it would take a couple of hundred years to complete the change. The problem is that, in the real world, all sorts of other atmospheric and oceanic processes that depend on surface temperature are happening. Many of them amplify or reduce the original change of 1.2 degrees caused directly by the CO2. They are called feedback processes, and in principle their effects need to be added up to give an overall value for the total 'feedback factor' F in the bottom line of the equation shown here for DT. Thus the calculated temperature change may be greater or less than 1.2 degrees -- this depending entirely on the value of F and on whether it is positive or negative." (Garth W. Paltridge, TCS)

"Global warming threatening 'roof of the world'" - "Beijing: Chinese scientists warn the fragile environment of the Tibet-Qinghai plateau, known as the 'roof of the world', is under serious threat from global warming and pollution. Covering more than 360,000 square kilometres, the plateau is the cradle of three key Chinese rivers -- the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang -- and home to many rare animals, plants and medicinal herbs. But a decades-long study by the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Study Institute of the Chinese Academy of Scientists warns the area is deteriorating due to climate change, overgrazing and increasing human activity, Xinhua state news agency said Wednesday." (AFP)

"Global warming spells out water shortage" - "BEIJING, May 11 -- A third of the world's population lives in countries that find it difficult or impossible to meet water needs, a proportion that could double by 2025, said Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Wednesday. In developing countries, about 14,000 to 30,000 people die each day in developing countries from water-related diseases, Pachauri said at a conference of the IPCC Working Group I for the Fourth Assessment Report held in Beijing, which will end on Thursday." (Xinhuanet)

"Climate Cycle or Climate Psychic?" - "In light of the general hysteria over global warming, it's nice, once in a while, to be able to couch our current and ongoing climate changes into some larger perspective. We keep hearing about historically warm years, warm decades, or warm centuries, uncharacteristically long or severe droughts, etc. for which mankind's striving for a high quality of life is to blame, via the internal combustion engine and its by-product, carbon dioxide. But in reality, in most cases, we have a tragically short record of good observations to really determine how much of a record we're even close to setting." (Robert Davis, TCS)

"Eco threat 'worse than Hitler'" - "THE advance of global warming is a greater threat than was the rise of Hitler in the 1940s, a leading supporter of renewable energy has claimed. Dr Jim Hunter, a former chairman of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), said alternative energy schemes were needed to tackle the problem, and he attacked those who opposed wind farms. His remarks mirrored those of Sir David King, the government’s chief scientific officer, who said recently climate change was a more severe problem than the threat of terrorism." (The Scotsman)

"UK 'yet to support climate funds'" - 'Britain has not yet contributed to two United Nations funds which are intended to help countries adapt to climate change, a think tank has said. The funds were set up with government agreement four years ago to primarily help poorer countries adapt." (BBC)

"Experts seek clean, green power" - "Scientists are due to take part in a brainstorming session to seek the future's clean, green energy sources. Energy experts from the world's leading economies will join a two-day workshop at Oxford University to find solutions to the global warming crisis." (BBC)

"Britain may need another generation of nuclear power plants: expert" - "LONDON - Britain may need one more generation of nuclear power stations to help meet a target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the fight against global warming, the government's top science advisor said. The comments by Sir David King in an interview with The Independent will anger green campaigners and raise concerns about a greater potential for nuclear accidents." (AFP) | Nuclear power may be the only way, says chief scientist (London Independent)

"Germany Shuts Second Nuclear Plant in Phase-Out Plan" - "May 11 -- Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg AG shut down its Obrigheim nuclear reactor, the second to close as the German government moves ahead with a promise to end the nation's dependency on atomic energy, the source of a third of its power. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, under pressure from his coalition partner, the Green Party, has pledged to end the use of nuclear power in the next two decades. A 30 percent increase in wholesale power prices in the past year won't slow the decommissioning, according to the Environment Ministry." (Bloomberg)

"Wave, wind, sun and tide is a powerful mix" - "Research at Oxford shows how renewables can plug Britain's energy gap, says Oliver Tickell" (The Guardian)

"California Taps High-Tech Meters In New Bid to Rein In Energy Use" - "Still smarting from its disastrous fling with electricity deregulation four years ago, California is pursuing another ambitious energy program that ultimately could set an example -- or serve as a warning -- for other states." (Wall Street Journal)

"Norway advocates 'zero-emissions' for Arctic oil" - "OSLO - Norway believes its "zero emissions" policy for oil and gas activity in the Arctic should be adopted internationally, the country's oil minister said on Wednesday before a visit to neighboring Russia. Norway and Russia share a sea boundary in the Arctic Barents Sea, which is believed to contain vast petroleum resources. Energy firms are increasingly turning their gaze north to the Barents as North Sea oil becomes depleted. Norway requires drilling in its part of the Barents to have "zero emissions" of oil, drilling fluids or chemicals. But environmental groups have said leaks this year by a Norwegian drilling rig show that industry cannot meet the demands." (Reuters)

"Ohio EPA calls coke plant mercury limits flexible" - "The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency could be on the verge of backing off a restrictive permit it issued last June for U.S. Coking Group's proposed FDS Coke Plant in Oregon by allowing the company to emit more harmful pollutants - including mercury - into the air." (Toledo Blade)

"Organic Industry's Phoney Star Wars" - "A flash animation produced by the makers of The Meatrix has been released today attacking conventional agriculture. Designed to coincide with the release of the latest Star Wars movie, Organic Trade Association (OTA)'s presentation claims that "an empire of pollution and pesticides- genetic engineering- has destroyed the planet" OTA's Store Wars presents conventional agriculture, represented by Darth Tater, as the "evil dark side of the farm--more chemical than vegetable" and encourages shoppers to chose organic over 'toxic conventional foods.'

Found at http://www.storewars.org/ the site also makes health, quality and taste claims comparing organic with conventional agriculture products.

While they cannot make any substantiated claims that organic food is healthier for your or better for the planet, their chief trick up their sleeve is to scare you about the conventional food. In this, they have done a very good job with this video which is funny. If only it was true..." (AgBioWorld)

"Super foods flex their clout" - "Unsuccessful at federal level, US opponents turn to states" (The Christian Science Monitor)

"The rise and fall of the GM debate in Zambia" - "Zambia made international headlines in July 2002 when it ordered the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to take back over 35,000 tonnes of food aid – just when three million Zambians faced hunger caused by a severe drought.

The government argued that the WFP’s consignment of genetically modified (GM) maize could harm Zambian agricultural exports if non-GM Zambian farms became contaminated. It pointed to studies conducted by scientists in the United States, Europe and South Africa which demonstrated that “insufficient evidence was available to demonstrate their (GM’s) safety.”

The US, the main food donor to the WFP along with the UN agency’s Lusaka office, tried its best to persuade the government to rescind the order, but Zambia remained adamant." (Business In Africa)

May 11, 2005

"Judge Not" - "While planning last week for my next seminar for federal judges, to be held in July by the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment, I was disheartened to read that several distinguished judges had felt obliged to distance themselves from the Foundation by resigning from its Board of Trustees. This will be my ninth seminar, over a period of five years and covering seven major topics, so I am confident that I know what happens at these seminars." (Thomas C. Schelling, TCS)

"Targeted for phaseout" - "Two pesticides and two brominated flame-retardant chemicals are under consideration for global phaseout through the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)." (Chemical & Engineering News)

"Soy Products and Breast Cancer" - "Few claims concerning food and health are more confusing than those about soy and breast cancer. Some studies suggest that soy may reduce the risk, while others have reached the opposite conclusion." (Wall Street Journal)

"Who Should Define What's 'Reasonable'?" - "Politicians are always looking for a new goose to pluck to win the political favor of their constituents. Today everyone from congressmen to city councilmen treat the drugmakers like a flock of geese. At least Congress has national jurisdiction. Not so the Washington, D.C. city council. But its members apparently believe that they, too, should regulate the pharmaceutical industry." (Doug Bandow, TCS)

"Reactions: Healthful Oil Can Become a Threat" - "A new study reports that when used to fry foods, the oils produce a toxic compound that has been associated with a variety of illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, and liver problems." (New York Times)

"Hatcheries in Washington may be releasing pollutants along with fish" - "When environmental regulators last winter tried to solve the mystery of how a toxic chemical wound up in the mountain-fed waters of Icicle Creek, they stumbled on a surprising potential culprit: a federal fish hatchery." (Seattle Times)

"Pentagon Is Asking Congress to Loosen Environmental Laws" - "WASHINGTON, May 10 - After three unsuccessful tries, the Pentagon is asking Congress again this year to loosen major environmental laws to allow military training exercises around the country to proceed unimpeded.

Military officials say the requested changes, which could be approved this week as part of the defense authorization bill for 2006, are essential to preserve the quality of training and to avoid lawsuits over possible violations of statutes that govern air, water and waste.

With more than 100,000 American military personnel in Iraq, training issues have taken on a heightened sense of urgency, giving the request a better chance of passing this year despite opposition from environmental advocacy groups and state and local governments." (New York Times)

"Officials want to strip Ohio EPA's say" - "Lobbyists for the chemical industry, manufacturers and other businesses want lawmakers to eliminate Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate hundreds of air pollutants." (Dayton Daily News)

"Study doesn't link mine to ill villagers, Indonesians admit" - "The Indonesian government's pollution charges against Newmont Mining Corp. further weakened after the South Asian government admitted its study of the area did not come up with conclusive findings." (Denver Rocky Mountain News)

"Satellites monitoring dust storms linked to health risk" - "Medical researchers are using satellites to track massive dust storms blowing across Africa's Sahel belt. The aim is to learn more about lethal meningitis epidemics that often follow in the dust's wake." (European Space Agency)

"Prescription drugs linked to 15,000 deaths each year" - "DRUGS prescribed to patients for a range of conditions may be responsible for as many as 1,200 sudden deaths a year in Britain. Antibiotics, antipsychotic drugs and those used to treat nausea and vomiting may all be involved because they have the ability to interfere with the electrical activity that controls the heartbeat.

The alarm was sounded by a study in the Netherlands that found that patients taking these drugs had nearly three times the risk of sudden cardiac death. The authors estimate that the drugs cause 320 deaths a year in the Netherlands. By extrapolation, that equates to 1,200 deaths a year in Britain and 15,000 deaths in Europe and the US as a whole." (London Times)

"Onion Gets It Right on TV Science Experts" - "The Onion features a very on-target parody of how networks choose scientists and health experts to appear on television. Instead of an astute, balanced, and informed -- but dry -- professor, the network chooses a glib former football player who has written a book about "America's Coming Nuclear-Power Holocaust." This too-close-to-home parody leaves us pondering some facts:" (Elizabeth M. Whelan, ACSH)

"Greenpeace guilty of criminal negligence" - "KETCHIKAN, Alaska - A jury found Greenpeace guilty Monday on two misdemeanor criminal negligence charges that were filed after the group’s ship entered Alaska waters for an anti-logging campaign without required paperwork." (Associated Press)

"Greenpeace's chief operating officer denies responsibility in violation of spill statute" - "The chief operating officer of Greenpeace Inc. said her organization bears no responsibility for a ship that operated under the organization's banner in Alaska waters without a spill prevention plan." (Associated Press)

"Spain tries Greenpeace five" - "Five Greenpeace activists went on trial in the southern Spanish city of Cádiz yesterday on charges related to a protest against the use of a Spanish port by US navy vessels heading for the Iraq war." (The Guardian)

"Queen Elizabeth to Face Anti-Fur Protest in Canada" - "LONDON - An animal rights group said on Tuesday it will follow Britain's Queen Elizabeth during her visit to Canada later this month to protest against the ceremonial bearskin hats worn by her Foot Guard regiments." (Reuters)

"Hook, line and sinker" - "Britain's anglers are taking on river polluters and the government's pollution watchdog - and every penny they win in damages is donated to conservation. Paul Evans reports" (The Guardian)

"Americans aren't planning for hurricanes" - "Most residents along the East and Gulf coasts don't plan to take even simple steps to protect themselves and their homes from hurricanes, despite the devastation caused by five hurricanes that struck the United States last year, according to a new poll." (Associated Press)

"Ocean climate predicts elk population in Canadian Rockies" - "Mark Hebblewhite can look at specific climate statistics from the north Pacific Ocean and tell you how the elk are doing in Banff National Park." (University of Alberta)

"Research cruise to understand major changes in Atlantic" - "Scientists at the University of Liverpool are embarking on a research cruise to help them understand recent major changes in the temperature of the Atlantic." (University of Liverpool)

"A space for climate change sceptics: response to David King" - "As long as science is uncertain about the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions in the Earth’s atmosphere, the public are justified in keeping an open mind, says Benny Peiser." (OpenDemocracy.net debate)

He's at it again: "Global Warming Is Biggest Threat to Wildlife - Top Scientist" - "Earth’s wildlife is facing four big dangers but global climate change is now the most serious, a top scientist warned today. It has become a greater threat to biodiversity than habitat destruction, invasion by non-native species and over-exploitation by human beings, according to the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir David King." (PA News)

"Global Warming: Something New Under the Sun?" - "That appears to be what is happening, judging from three papers in the May 6 issue of Science.

These three papers argue that the amount of incoming solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth has increased dramatically in the last two decades. While the values vary from paper to paper, in toto the new studies suggest that the increase in solar radiation absorbed at the earth’s surface had almost 10 times as much warming power during that time as the concurrent increases in carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas. Therefore, the warming observed over the past 20 years must have little to do with changes in greenhouse gases.

Before you kill the greenhouse effect, please note that we think this is a lot of hooey. But if you accept these results, that’s where you have to go." (World Climate Report)

Oh boy... "More Than €1 Billion in Capital at Global Carbon Fair" - "COLOGNE, Germany, May 10 — The Global Carbon Market Fair & Conference — in Cologne this week (May 11th -13th) will bring together more than one thousand high level government officials, business leaders, representatives from international organizations, and experts on the growing market of carbon emissions trading." (World Bank)

We'd have thought that, before signing up to billion-dollar deals, someone would have checked the fine print. Carbon trading was stillborn for the simple reason that the Kyoto Protocol precludes such mechanisms where countries/groups fail to achieve their designated "carbon reductions" - something absolutely guaranteed for the "EU Bubble," most individual EU countries and virtually anyone else involved that happens to have a growing economy. When these countries realize they will receive no benefit from purchasing hot air, how much will they pay for it? What a farce.

"Business, government debate climate change" - "UNITED NATIONS - In a daylong brainstorming "summit," a dozen U.S. state treasurers and hundreds of financiers and other major investors debated ways Tuesday to pressure more U.S. companies into dealing openly with the financial risk of climate change and with ways to reduce it." (AP) | Global Finance Community Joins UN to Tackle Climate Change (UNEP)

"Annan says Kyoto Protocol 'only a first step,' seeks framework beyond 2012" - "U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan stressed Tuesday that the Kyoto Protocol on global warming is "only a first step" and should be followed up by a new framework beyond 2012. In a video message to an Institutional Investor summit on climate risk at the United Nations headquarters, Annan urged investors to help slow down climate change and mitigate its worst effects." (Kyodo)

"NZ: Carbon taxes just a money-maker for Governments" - "The $15 a tonne carbon tax announced this month will bring windfall profits to the Government-owned hydro-power generators. Crazy as it might seem, electricity consumers will be paying carbon taxes on hydro power. What is more, it will do little to help New Zealand meet its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. The carbon tax paradox arises from the fact that under the electricity "market" all generators get the same price as the highest-priced station that is generating. When burning coal, the carbon tax will increase Huntly's costs by 1c for each kilowatt-hour. Whenever it is setting the price - and this will be most of the time - it will increase the payment to all generators by about 1c a kWh. If we assume that Huntly sets the price 60 per cent of the time, the carbon tax will cost consumers about $240 million a year. Of this, $150 million will be what is effectively a "carbon tax", which will be imposed on consumers for power generated from hydro and other non-carbon sources." (New Zealand Herald)

"UK: Council appoints first CO2 'tsar'" - "North Yorkshire County Council has become the first local authority in the UK to create a post with the sole aim of cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon reduction manager Kim Williams has been appointed to help the council meet its target of cutting CO2 output by 15% over the next five years. His initial three-year budget of £1m is split equally between the council and the government-funded Carbon Trust." (BBC)

"The Inuits and Kyoto" - "This is no dim and distant threat: for the Inuit people of Canada's far north - the real impact of global warming is happening right now. And they challenge the United States, claiming pollution is wrecking their environment and their way of life." (London Channel 4 TV)

"Lawmakers Heated Up Over Global Warming" - "Imagine a North Carolina stripped of the slender bracelet of the Outer Banks, its eastern farm fields turned to steamy coastland regularly battered by vicious storms." (Associated Press)

"Climate change is in the air" - "Scientists who monitor climate changes believe that increased rainfall is a sign of global warming." (Brunswick Times Record)

"Swiss put glacier under wraps to slow ice melt" - "Alarmed by the retreat of its Alpine glacier, a Swiss ski resort on Tuesday wrapped part of the shrinking ice-cap in a giant blanket in a bid to reduce the summer melt." (Reuters)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"Plant Responses to Free-Air CO 2 Enrichment" - "What does the most recent meta-analysis of the results of all FACE experiments conducted over the first fifteen years of the technique's application reveal about the responses of earth's plants to rising atmospheric CO 2 concentrations?" (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Dark Ages Cold Period (Asia)" - "Yes, there really was a Dark Ages Cold Period, sandwiched between the Roman and Medieval Warm Periods; and it was not restricted to lands bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, as this review of studies conducted in Asia clearly demonstrates." (co2science.org)

"Forests (Old)" - "Are forests merely a temporary carbon sink that by 2050 will have returned to the atmosphere a large fraction of the CO 2 they had removed from it to that point in time?" (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: Barley, Japanese Honeysuckle, Radish and Soybean." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"Update on Antarctic Sea Ice Extent" - "How has it varied over the period of accurate comprehensive satellite measurements?  And what do the results imply about global warming at the bottom of the earth?" (co2science.org)

"Droughts of the Canadian Prairies" - "Have they gotten any worse with the supposedly unprecedented warming of the 20th century, which climate alarmists claim should increase their frequency and severity?" (co2science.org)

"The Roman and Medieval Warm Periods in Georgia" - "There is no question about their existence and significance." (co2science.org)

"The Effect of Warming on the Carbon Balance of High-Arctic Tundra" - "Will it cause carbon to be released from the soil and returned to the atmosphere, thereby exacerbating the warming that caused it?" (co2science.org)

"Woody Plants Take Possession of Rangelands in Southern New Mexico, USA" - 'As the air's CO 2 concentration continues to rise, boosting the competitiveness of woody plants relative to that of herbaceous species, shrubs have largely replaced grasses on many southwestern U.S. rangelands." (co2science.org)

"Group faults Allete for using coal" - "An advocacy group wants Allete to reduce its reliance on coal, warning investors that the company's greenhouse gas emissions could become a liability." (Duluth News Tribune)

"Rapid return to nuclear power ruled out" - "The government's main scientific adviser on energy policy yesterday ruled out an immediate return to nuclear power. Sir David King, the government's chief scientist in charge of energy research and development, said speculation that nuclear power would make a comeback was premature." (The Guardian)

"Not in my Nama" - "FoE activists Tony Juniper and Ronnie Hall on environmental threats posed by the latest world trade talks" (The Guardian)

"It's Science, Not a Freak Show" - "The latest focus of apprehension over the headlong rush of biotechnology involves the creation of animal-human hybrids, known as chimeras. Distinguished groups of ethicists and scientists have been pondering what steps should be taken, if any, to head off the nightmarish possibility of a human brain's becoming trapped inside an animal form, silently screaming, "Let me out," or a human embryo's being gestated by mice. It is fascinating - some would say terrifying - to contemplate, but these weird, far-out possibilities should not distract us from welcoming more mundane experiments with chimeras that will be needed to advance science." (New York Times)

May 10, 2005

Oh the disappointment! For years the GISTEMP series has been in virtual lockstep with MSU readings - just racing ahead in the anomaly stakes. Last week UAH reported a month-on-month anomaly increase of ~0.12 °C (LTA +0.346 °C) and we awaited GISTEMP with trembling anticipation. Why? Well, last month GISTEMP reported just 0.09 °C below their highest ever recording (just 0.07 °C on the revised figures) so a result similar to the MSU readings would surely have been a banner-waver, setting a new all-time high (could also have been a tad difficult to explain without a strong El Niño and no heat waves, news reports of massive AGW-induced mortalities...). Alas, it was not to be. In a startling reversal, GISTEMP reports a cooling not evident in the satellite record and reducing the discrepancy in reported anomalies by ~0.25 °C. Guess we'll just have to be patient.

"Florida boosts gun rights, igniting a debate" - "A new law allows residents to employ 'deadly force' in public places - part of a new nationwide drive by gun lobby." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Vatican Radio officials convicted" - "A Roman Catholic cardinal and a priest in charge of Vatican Radio have been convicted of polluting the atmosphere with powerful electromagnetic waves. Cardinal Roberto Tucci and Father Pasquale Borgomeo were given suspended 10-day jail sentences. The Italian court also ordered them to pay damages and court costs." (BBC)

"Sunny May the month for suicides" - "Summer sunlight helps to trigger a seasonal rise in suicides, claim UK researchers. The Priory Group says more people take their lives in May than in any other month, which could be down to the climate. The extra sunshine, which helps combat depression, may also provide the people the energy they need to act on their suicidal feelings, they believe." (BBC)

People are so motivated and enervated they... kill themselves. Right...

"Two studies document rise of superbugs in the environment" - "As science gets wiser, so do the bugs. The rates of drug-resistant bacteria infecting patients in the community and in the hospital have been increasing steadily in recent years, according to two new studies in the June 15 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, now available online." (Infectious Diseases Society of America)

"Combating antibiotic resistance" - "The evolution of bacterial resistance to antibiotics presents a serious public health threat, but may be inevitable because mutation is stimulated by exposure to some antibiotics. Inhibition of mutational mechanisms should slow resistance, a study published in PLoS Biology reveals." (Public Library of Science)

"Study is seen as clouding risks to the overweight" - "The obesity study released last month by federal government researchers -- finding that excess weight causes about 26,000 American deaths annually, rather than as many as 400,000 according to previous estimates -- has provoked a messy fracas among scientists, government officials, and the food industry, while generating considerable confusion among Americans." (Boston Globe)

"New fat is needed to clear old fat from the system" - "Where fat comes from determines whether the body can metabolize it effectively. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that the "old" fat stored in the body's peripheral tissues -- that is, around the belly, thighs or bottom -- can't be burned efficiently unless "new" fat is eaten in the diet or made in the liver." (Washington University School of Medicine)

Recycling rates seem to be accelerating: "Limit portions of farm-raised salmon, experts say" - "NEW YORK - People should avoid eating too much farm-raised salmon, which contains significantly more of the chemical dioxin than is found in fish caught in the wild, new study findings show. After analyzing the dioxin content of farm-raised and wild salmon captured in different regions, a group of North American researchers found that farm-raised types contain between 3 and 10 times more dioxin than wild salmon. Using guidelines from the World Health Organization, the researchers calculate that consumers should eat fewer than 10 meals of farm-raised salmon per month, and limit fish that's raised on northern European farms to 4 times per month." (Reuters Health)

"The murky world of corporate research" - "A tenacious scientist has accused a scientific journal of "suppressing scientific information with the apparent intent of protecting the interest and profits of the corporate sponsor." The case rests on the journal's association with Dow Chemical." (London Times)

"Save the planet? That's so cool..." - "Gas-guzzling stretch limos are out, recycled lavatory paper is in, as the A-list embraces environmental righteousness. But is it really about reforestation, or just reputation? Oliver Bennett sorts the ego-tourists from the truly eco-friendly." (London Independent)

Moonbat does empirical investigation! "Junk science" - "It is hard to convey just how selective you have to be to dismiss the evidence for climate change. You must climb over a mountain of evidence to pick up a crumb: a crumb which then disintegrates in the palm of your hand. You must ignore an entire canon of science, the statements of the world's most eminent scientific institutions, and thousands of papers published in the foremost scientific journals." (George Monbiot, London Guardian)

Wow George! We are [very favourably] impressed - would you care to test your new-found numeracy on say, the infamous 'hockey stick'?

A couple of quick clarifications: I couldn't find any mention of "Bellamy and 555 glaciers", nor even "555 glaciers" on JunkScience.com; no mention of Bellamy's letter to New Scientist either. I did find Rebutting the new glacier research in the archives from 1998 but there are no embedded links for me to trace further.

You might want to check out: Glacier mass balance: the first 50 years of international monitoring Abstract: The paper reviews measurements of glacier mass balance in the period 1946-95. There are data for 246 glaciers but most records are quite short. The available mass-balance data are biased to Western Europe, North America and the former USSR with too few measurements from other parts of the world. The data are also biased towards wetter conditions with too few data from the dry-cold glaciers that are typical of many regions. There is no sign of any recent global trend towards increased glacier melting, and the data mainly reflect variations within and between regions. The 'direct method' of measuring glacier mass balance is with stakes and snowpits but it is a very laborious way of measuring long-term glacier changes. Stake/snowpit measurements should be more integrated in future with geodetic and remote sensing methods, especially laser profiling, and with modelling. [em added]

Position statement: as regular readers should be aware, JunkScience.com's position is that glacial thaw is occurring and has been doing so as a general trend since the end of the last great glaciation - we call this period the Holocene. This thaw is interrupted by events such as the Little Ice Age when there was some general advance and by seasonal and/or regional changes in precipitation (even when a region cools reduction in precipitation may lead to glacial retreat while warming associated with increased snowfall may cause advance - glacial mass balance is not merely an artefact of temperature). We are in no hurry to see general glacial advance.

On the whole a pretty good effort though George, one we're very pleased to see. Hopefully this indicates a new willingness to actually look for the facts (although that could cost you your "moonbat" title).

"Europe Adds Headache to Blair's Post-Election Hangover" - "When Tony Blair was reelected British Prime Minister last Thursday, he was entitled to a celebratory glass of champagne. Despite all the sound and fury over the Iraq war, the British people returned him to office with a majority with which any Prime Minister would be happy. He has successfully ridden out the foreign policy problem that threatened to unseat him. Yet another problem awaits as Mr. Blair ascends center stage in the world's eyes when he hosts the G8 meeting and assumes the Presidency of the EU." (Iain Murray, TCS)

"As world warms, vegetation changes may influence extreme weather" - "Extreme weather events, such as storms and heat waves, can vary substantially depending on how vegetation responds to global warming. This is believed to be the first study to indicate that as vegetation responds to climate change, those changes in ground cover may affect where and how often extreme weather events occur." (Purdue University)

Weekly Whipple: "Climate: A message from the plankton?" - "Boulder, CO, May. 9 -- In the long paleontological history of the planet, the evidence is climate change always seems to produce winners and losers. The difference between previous shifts and the one that seems before us now is that humans are in the game this time, and are taking more than a casual interest in the outcome." (Dan Whipple, UPI)

"Norway Aims to Become a Low Carbon Country" - "OSLO, Norway, May 9, 2005 - The Norwegian Government has appointed a commission to consider how Norway could become a low greenhouse gas emitting society. The commission will work on the basis that the national emissions of greenhouse gases should be reduced by 50 to 80 percent by 2050 to help limit global climate change." (ENS)

"UK likely to miss domestic CO2 cut goal - study" - "Britain will miss its domestic target of cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent by 2010 by a wide margin unless it takes drastic steps to curb air pollution, a study said on Monday." (Reuters)

"When It Comes to Replacing Oil Imports, Nuclear Is No Easy Option, Experts Say" - "Nuclear reactors produce about 20 percent of the electricity used in the United States and about 8 percent of the total energy consumed. Could a few dozen more reactors, in addition to the 103 running now, cut into oil's share of the energy market?" (New York Times)

"No New Refineries in 29 Years? There Might Well Be a Reason" - "In a remote Arizona patch, one man is attempting something that has not been done for 29 years in the U.S. He is trying to build an oil refinery." (New York Times)

Uh-huh, I think it's called "excessive regulation."

"Soak the Green: Oregon mulls a new tax that environmentalists and privacy advocates will hate" - "As gas prices continue to top $2 a gallon, all those drivers of fuel-efficient cars may not have reason to gloat for much longer. Oregon is worried that too many Honda Insights and Toyota Priuses hitting the roads will rob it of the cash it expects out of its 24-cent-a-gallon tax. So the Beaver State is studying ways to ensure that "hybrid" car owners pay their "fair share" of taxes for the miles they drive. That means allowing the taxman to catch up to hybrid owners just as often as he catches up to gas guzzling SUV drivers. And if Oregon goes ahead, it won't be long before other states follow." (Brendan Miniter, Opinion Journal)

"'Green' Practices Put Washington in the Red" - "SEATTLE — Seattle's new city hall and justice center have received awards for their environmentally sensitive design. But just two years after opening, both buildings are plagued with problems — and fixing them is going to cost taxpayers millions." (FocNews.com)

"New research raises questions about buckyballs and the environment" - "In a challenge to conventional wisdom, scientists have found that buckyballs dissolve in water and could have a negative impact on soil bacteria. The findings raise new questions about how the nanoparticles might behave in the environment and how they should be regulated." (American Chemical Society)

"Biotech reaches billion acre mark" - "One billion. As of today, that is the number of acres Pioneer Hi-Bred International estimates have been planted to biotech seed since biotech varieties were first introduced.

"Today, we have hit an amazing milestone - somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere, a farmer has planted the one billionth acre of seed containing biotech traits," Tom West, vice president of biotechnology affairs, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. said in a company statement today. "I believe we are witnessing one of the greatest technological changes in the history of agriculture." (Truth About Trade and Technology)

"CA County backs Bt" - "The board of supervisors in Kern County, Calif., the fourth largest agricultural county in the nation, has followed the lead of Fresno and Kings counties in the agriculturally rich San Joaquin Valley, passing a resolution supporting agricultural biotechnology.

In early April, Kern supervisors, in recognizing the importance of the county’s $2 billion agricultural economy, affirmed "the environmental and health benefits of biotechnology" as important to the long-term sustainability and enhancement of its agricultural industry and "the county’s way of life."

The resolution affirmed "the right for farmers and ranchers to choose to utilize the widest range of technologies available to produce a safe, healthy, abundant and affordable food supply, and that the safe, federally regulated use of biotechnology is a promising component of progressive agricultural production."

The unanimously passed resolution said the county "will make every effort to preserve the choice of using biotechnology in agriculture." (Western Farm Press)

May 9, 2005

"Wal-Mart's Union Problems" - "The success of retailing giant Wal-Mart is a problem for both its competitors and labor unions. But they're taking quite different approaches to solving their Wal-Mart dilemma." (Steven Milloy, New York Sun)

Pitifully small consolation: "Despite International Agreement, DDT Will Not Disappear Overnight" - "PUNTA DEL ESTE, Uruguay, May 5 - The signatories of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) pledged Thursday to search for alternatives in order to eventually eliminate the use of the insecticide DDT in the fight against malaria." (IPS)

Really bad idea: "U.S. Considers Joining Chemical Treaty" - "The United States is looking to join an international treaty calling for the phase-out of a dozen of the world's most hazardous pesticides and chemicals, a U.S. official said as delegates from 130 nations met here Thursday." (Associated Press)

The assault continues: "Four New Chemicals Proposed for Global Blacklist" - "PUNTA DEL ESTE, Uruguay, May 5, 2005 - Four new chemicals have been proposed for a global ban at the first meeting of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) now underway in Punta del Este. The Convention is an agreement to eliminate some of the world's most hazardous substances, and 12 are on the original list.

In addition to the 12 chemicals named when the treaty took effect last May, Norway has nominated the brominated flame retardant pentabromodiphenyl ether (penta-BDE) used in foam cushions in home furnishings.

Mexico is nominating a group of chemicals called hexachlorocyclohexanes (HCH), including the pesticide lindane, a member of that group.

The European Union is nominating two candidates for elimination under the treaty - the pesticide chlordecone, and the brominated flame retardant hexabromobiphenyl, used in machine housings and radio and TV parts.

In Punta del Este, more than 600 delegates from 98 countries are taking part in the conference. One of the delegates' tasks has been to establish a mechanism for adding new chemicals to the 12 now covered by the Convention.

Irish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Avril Doyle, who heads the group of MEPs in Uruguay this week said that goal has now been reached. A "key achievement has been to set up a POPs Review Committee to assess toxic substances to be added to the blacklists in the Convention," Doyle said." (ENS)

"Pesticide ban in works" - "The city is poised to begin drafting a bylaw that could ban the use of pesticides throughout Ottawa, including on private property, by this fall." (Canadian Press)

"Common chemicals avoid restriction: FDA study finds no risk from pthalates" - "WASHINGTON — Federal regulators have concluded that a common ingredient in shampoo and other personal-care products, which could be harmful to animals, poses no risks to humans. A Food and Drug Administration study of the health risks of a group of chemicals known as pthalates (pronounced tha-laytes) found that human exposures were low. “At the present time, FDA does not have compelling evidence that phthalates as used in cosmetics pose a safety risk,” the agency said in a statement Friday. The study concluded that regulation was unnecessary but that the agency would continue to monitor pthalate levels in personal-care products." (Kansas City Star)

"Veterans say war-related illnesses are overlooked" - "An increasing number of returning soldiers - about 30 percent - are found to be suffering from a range of neurological symptoms that have been traced to toxic chemicals encountered in Iraq, according to a recent study." (Orlando Sentinel)

"Do kids know how to go out and play?" - "Today's children are part of what one expert calls a great experiment - "the first de-natured generation." They are the first children who are more likely to experience the outdoors from a textbook or a TV program than from playing in the woods or helping around the farm." (Mobile Register)

Land of the FREE? Hardly... "Judges to Leave Environmental Group's Board" - "Two federal appeals court judges in Washington resigned yesterday from the board of an organization that opposes environmental regulations, ending an ethics controversy surrounding their roles." (Washington Post)

"Despite name, Texas Landowners Conservancy keeps developer ties" - "Start with the name: the Texas Landowners Conservancy. It evokes environmental groups, such as the Nature Conservancy and the Hill Country Conservancy, conjuring backgrounds as green and landscapes as lush as those on the Landowners Conservancy's Web site. Yet the group has created more ire and trepidation among Central Texas environmentalists, and some government officials, than any developer in a decade. In just three months of existence, the Landowners Conservancy has shown that is has deep pockets, powerful political connections and strong ties to developers, some of whom stand to reap bigger profits if the group can convince lawmakers that cities should compensate landowners for strict environmental regulations." (Austin American-Statesman)

"Virgin Trees in Kleenex: Greenpeace Lambasts Kimberly-Clark Fiber Sourcing" - "Between 15 and 30 percent of K-C tissue products fiber originates from the Canadian Boreal Forest, according to a Greenpeace report, and only 19 percent of its fiber is recycled." (SocialFunds.com)

resource: n available source of wealth; a new or reserve supply that can be drawn upon when needed

  1. resources The total means available for economic and political development, such as mineral wealth, labor force, and armaments.
  2. resources The total means available to a company for increasing production or profit, including plant, labor, and raw material; assets.
  3. Such means considered individually.

To "lock away" a resource - to make it unavailable - means it is no longer a resource, no? So by definition Greenpeace want to destroy a resource the size of Canada's boreal forest. Think about it.

"Dairy cows pass gas, but how much?" - "Dairy cows either: a) pollute the air a lot less than previously thought, b) a lot more than previously thought, or c) about the same as was thought." (Modesto Bee)

The Week That Was May 7, 2005 (SEPP)

"Britain faces big chill as ocean current slows" - "CLIMATE change researchers have detected the first signs of a slowdown in the Gulf Stream — the mighty ocean current that keeps Britain and Europe from freezing. They have found that one of the “engines” driving the Gulf Stream — the sinking of supercooled water in the Greenland Sea — has weakened to less than a quarter of its former strength. The weakening, apparently caused by global warming, could herald big changes in the current over the next few years or decades. Paradoxically, it could lead to Britain and northwestern and Europe undergoing a sharp drop in temperatures." (The Sunday Times)

"Too few global skeptics" - "Too many journalists belong to the First Church of Global Warming. In the late 1980s, when global warming was "discovered" and hyped by the mass media into a looming crisis for all mankind, most journalists were way too eager to accept the gospel of apocalyptic global climate change." (Bill Steigerwald, Tribune-Review)

"Global warming said to create 'islands of extinction'" - "Rare animals living in world's national parks and other protected areas will face extinction as climate change forces the Earth's temperature higher, renowned anthropologist Richard Leakey warned Friday." (Cox News Service)

"Fresh water may explain blue mussels' travels north" - "A few months ago, Dave Norton was up late listening to the radio when he heard a story that divers had found blue mussels in the high Arctic, a sure sign of global warming. Or was it? Norton, of UAF's School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, had lived in Barrow for a decade, during which time he'd roam the beach after storms and pick up mussels blown ashore. Though the Barrow mussels first seemed like newcomers to the area, Norton thinks the blue shellfish may not be the slam-dunk indicator of climate change that other scientists have claimed." (Anchorage Daily News)

"Turn up the heat now, or force generations to pay later" - "In 1983, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a report titled "Can We Delay a Greenhouse Warming?" The answer then was that some warming was probably inevitable. The only question was how much and how fast. Today, there is no longer any doubt that the Earth's climate is changing." (Dennis Tirpak, Chicago Sun-Times)

[Dennis Tirpak is chairman of the UK Conference on Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change]

"Sunny side up: More sunshine is forecast, but not everyone is happy" - "IF YOU have ever given in to the rose-tinted notion that the afternoons of your childhood lasted longer and that the sun shone more often, then at least one of these observations might actually be true. In recent years, researchers have confirmed a suggestion put forward in 1985, that the amount of sunlight falling on the Earth's surface is, as it were, falling—a phenomenon dubbed “global dimming”. So your childhood really was sunnier. But that might not be the case for your children. In this week's Science, two groups of researchers report that global dimming, which is believed to have started in the 1960s, came to a halt in the 1990s. In other words, it is now getting sunnier." (The Economist)

"Forum issues global warning" - "By 2020, the world's coral reefs could be wiped out. Around the same time, the glaciers atop Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the Andes in South America and other famous mountains could be completely melted, scientists say. Global climate change is poised to unleash widespread ecological damage, they warn, and this weekend 100 leading scientists and environmentalists, including some from as far away as China, met at Stony Brook University to debate ideas for saving the planet in the face of hotter summers, bigger snow storms and rising sea levels." (Newsday)

Back to the ol' "climate refugee" thing: "Before the Flood" - "Cambridge, Mass. —. One of the paradoxes of global warming is that developing countries, which were not responsible for most of the greenhouse gas emissions that are changing the climate and did not reap the benefits of industrialization, will bear the brunt of the consequences. One of these consequences will be rising seas, which in turn will generate a surge of "climate exiles" who have been flooded out of their homes in poor countries. How should those of us in rich countries deal with this wave of immigrants? The fairest solution: allowing the phased immigration of people living in vulnerable regions according to a formula that is tied to the host country's cumulative contributions to global warming." (New York Times)

"Global warming plus natural bacteria could release vast carbon deposits currently stored in Arctic soil" - "Increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will make global temperatures rise. By studying soil cores from the Arctic, scientists have discovered that this rise in temperature stimulates the growth of microorganisms that can break down long-term stores of carbon, releasing them into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. This will lead to further increases in global temperatures." (Innovations Report)

Oh boy... "AIDS offers lessons on facing climate problems" - "Climate change, like AIDS, has a prolonged asymptomatic period as the condition develops. It's followed by brutal, traumatic symptoms that appear only after the body's (planetary or human) natural ability to adapt is so eviscerated that we are left defenceless. In a very real sense, climate change is like AIDS in the ecology of the planet. Climate change, like AIDS, is almost impossible to cure once the symptoms emerge." (Glen Murray, Toronto Star)

"Pension funds face climate-change risks, says report" - "UK- The pensions industry needs to recognise the long-term impact of climate change and adapt their asset and liability management strategies accordingly or they face an uncertain future, according to a report by UK merchant banking group Climate Change Capital. The report ‘Impacts of climate change on financial institutions' medium to long term assets and liabilities’ argues that current financial models and assumptions do not adequately budget for climate change, leaving investments exposed to “significant” risks in the long term. It also says that climate change might influence the obligation on trustees and fund administrators to be prudent investors and suggests that the definition of their fiduciary duties be extended to incorporate climate change and related issues." (IPE.com)

A group calling themselves "Climate Change Capital" are trying to panic institutional investors over "global warming" - wonder why?

"Duke CEO not finding favor on his call for a carbon tax" - "Favoring a federal tax on carbon dioxide emissions has earned Duke Energy Corp. Chief Executive Paul Anderson a sharp rebuke from the powerful chairman of the U.S. Senate's main energy policy committee. "Duke Energy has fallen victim today to the scare tactics of the extreme environmental left on the issue of climate change," Sen. James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, said in a statement. "The United States Senate is standing on firmer ground than ever against mandating reductions of carbon dioxide, which would effectively throw our nation into an economic depression." (American City Business Journals)

"Exelon: We'll cut greenhouse gas emissions" - "Exelon Corp. said Friday that it will voluntarily cut its greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2008, joining dozens of companies concerned about climate change." (Chicago Tribune)

"GE to unveil environmental investment plan - WSJ" - "NEW YORK - General Electric Co., seeking to cash in on the push toward tougher environmental regulation, plans to unveil an investment, marketing and policy initiative that addresses issues like global warming and water shortages, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday." (Reuters)

"Oil-drilling protesters bring dessert: Huge baked Alaska is shared at Capitol" - "WASHINGTON -- Citing fears that the U.S. government may allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, about 100 protesters sought to melt their opponents' arguments with a Capitol Hill rally Friday featuring a gigantic baked Alaska." (CNN)

"UK: Emissions goal to be missed by big margin" - "The government is likely to miss its target for reducing carbon dioxide emissions "by a wide margin", according to analysis from Cambridge Econometrics. The analysis said policy changes would be necessary in order to meet the government's target of reducing emissions by 20 per cent by 2010. Rises in electricity demand and in emissions from transport would offset the improvements in industrial energy efficiency that the government had focused on in its initial efforts to reduce Britain's output of greenhouse gases, which cause climate change." (Financial Times)

"Poland Scraps Plan to Challenge EU Emissions Limit" - "WARSAW - Poland has scrapped plans to appeal against a European Union decision to lower the country's planned 2005-2007 limit for carbon dioxide emissions but will seek changes to the bloc's emission laws, a newspaper reported on Saturday." (Reuters)

"Labour's nuclear option" - "If Britain needs more Sizewell B-style power stations, the key will be winning over investors, writes Oliver Morgan" (The Observer)

"Beckett puts block on the building of new nuclear power stations" - "Margaret Beckett, the Secretary of State for the Environment, is blocking attempts by other government departments to pursue plans for a new generation of nuclear power stations, The Telegraph can reveal. In a confidential briefing to Alan Johnson, the new minister for energy, leaked to this newspaper, a leading civil servant has warned that Mrs Beckett will oppose any attempt to bring the nuclear option back onto the agenda." (London Telegraph)

"Nuclear power is already at the centre of the post-election debate" (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Nuclear advisers under pressure to quit after conflicts revealed" - "A third of the members of an important government nuclear committee have serious conflicts of interests, an Independent on Sunday investigation reveals today." (London Independent)

"Blair demands nuclear power to protect high 'living standards'" - "Tony Blair has ruled out making changes to "living standards" to tackle global warming, and is drawing up plans to build a new generation of nuclear power stations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions instead." (London Independent)

One way to get rid of it... "Italy makes mulch ado about our tree debris" - "Nearly 120,000 tons will ship from Port Canaveral to fuel that nation's electric plants." (Orlando Sentinel)

"'Green' energy another threat to grouse" - "Wind power, a clean energy source that is plentiful in western Oklahoma, presents a threat to a dwindling population of birds on the Great Plains, conservationists and researchers say." (Associated Press)

"Washington, activists argue a 'new' energy" - "With the nation paying dearly for its power consumption, large energy corporations would like to build 30 to 40 LNG terminals in the United States, mostly in coastal communities. But such ideas are meeting with resistance at every step of the way." (Christian Science Monitor)

"Washington governor signs bill requiring cleaner cars" - "Gov. Christine Gregoire signed a bill on Friday that will bring strict California car-emissions standards to Washington state." (Associated Press)

"Nanotechnology cures cancer!" - "Well, it might..." (The Economist)

"Developing Countries Have Well-Developed Biotech Programs" - "OMAHA -- Several developing countries now have well-developed biotechnology programs; they are approaching the leading edge of biotechnology applications and have significant research capacity, according to a new FAO assessment on the status of research and application of crop biotechnologies in developing countries." (DTN)

"Bill requires labeling genetically altered fish" - "Genetically altered fish will need to be labeled as such when products are to be sold in Alaska. That's the effect of Senate Bill 25, sponsored by Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, and Sen. Kim Elton, D-Juneau. The Alaska House approved the measure unanimously Monday." (Kenai Peninsula Online)

"Tasty threads" - "The fashion of the future could be corn - in the form of Ingeo, a new clothing fibre. But its GM provenance might prove a major snag, says Lucy Siegle" (The Observer)

May 6, 2005

"Obesity Hysteria Survives Despite Official Debunking" - "Obesity hysteria recently collapsed under its own weight. But the public health establishment, media and politicians are doing their best to revive it." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"What's in a number?" - "Does obesity kill 400,000 people a year, or 26,000? Do medical mistakes kill 98,000 patients a year, or far fewer? Whatever the subject, you can bet that the government, academic researchers or interest groups will pump out statistics about it. But which numbers are credible? Some figures have become part of the nation's vernacular, such as “the 45 million people without health insurance.” Often overlooked is that many of the numbers aren't actual counts but estimates or extrapolations that may be biased, flawed or dated. Comedians and statisticians joke that 62.38% of all statistics are made up on the spot. There may be more truth to that quip than they realize." (USA Today)

"Lawmaker launches strike against obesity lawsuits" - "Only two such lawsuits have been filed in the nation, both in New York against McDonald's. The litigation set off a flurry of legislation. Bills to prevent such lawsuits have been adopted in 18 states and are pending in 16." (Associated Press)

"Ex-smokers told to 'weight watch'" - "They found the health benefits of giving up smoking were reduced if too much weight was gained. The Kings College London team found many people who quit smoking piled on the pounds and this hampered lung health. They believe dietary advice should be provided by smoking cessation services. Their findings appear in the Lancet." (BBC)

"World Malaria Report" - "The World Health Organisation releases its World Malaria Report - claiming that "During the past 5 years real progress has been made in scaling up malaria control and prevention efforts" Funny sort of progress when malaria cases and deaths have INCREASED." (AFM)

Recycling: "Climate change will see malaria soar" - "Johannesburg - Climate change will quadruple the number of South Africans at risk from malaria by 2020, bringing the mosquito-borne disease south towards the country's commercial heartland, a minister said on Thursday. Mosquitoes carrying the malaria parasite are currently only found near South Africa's northern borders with Mozambique and Zimbabwe, but Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said this was likely to change." (Reuters)

"Haste Makes Waste of Resources and Lives" - "HIV is a hugely successful organism; it replicates rapidly and easily develops resistance to incomplete or inappropriate therapy. A resistant strain is vastly more difficult and expensive to treat. For this reason the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that, among other things, patients must be carefully assessed before treatment, as to the stage of disease they have reached (1 to 4) and whether they have already had some treatment and whether that treatment failed. When possible, no drug should be taken singly -- two and preferably three drugs taken in combination is best. In developing countries, where even clerical staff are hard to find and doctors trained in diagnosis and treatment of HIV/AIDS are desperately rare, fulfilling these exacting requirements is a challenge in itself." (Roger Bate, TCS)

Oh dear... "In Kansas, Darwinism Goes on Trial Once More" - "Kansas is poised to push through new science standards this summer requiring that Darwin's theory be challenged in the classroom." (New York Times)

Skepticism's a fine thing guys but evolution can be demonstrated - just look at acquired antibiotic or pesticide resistance for immediately obvious examples of selection-driven evolution - get over it. It's really quite remarkable what indoctrination can do to otherwise rational people.

"A Textbook Case of Junk Science: What our children is learning?" - "SEVERAL CENTURIES AGO, some "very light-skinned" people were shipwrecked on a tropical island. After "many years under the tropical sun," this light-skinned population became "dark-skinned," says Biology: The Study of Life, a high-school textbook published in 1998 by Prentice Hall, an imprint of Pearson Education.

"Downright bizarre," says Nina Jablonski, who holds the Irvine chair of anthropology at the California Academy of Sciences. Jablonski, an expert in the evolution of skin color, says it takes at least 15,000 years for skin color to evolve from black to white or vice versa. That sure is "many years." The suggestion that skin color can change in a few generations has no basis in science.

Pearson Education spokesperson Wendy Spiegel admits the error in describing the evolution of skin color, but says the teacher's manual explains the phenomenon correctly. Just why teachers are given accurate information while students are misled remains unclear.

But then there's lots that's puzzling about the science textbooks used in American classrooms. A sloppy way with facts, a preference for the politically correct over the scientifically sound, and sheer faddism characterize their content. It's as if their authors had decided above all not to expose students to the intellectual rigor that is the lifeblood of science." (Weekly Standard)

"Cancer risk guidelines factor in children's vulnerabilities" - "The U.S. EPA’s new cancer risk guidance addresses for the first time the likelihood that children are more susceptible than adults to mutagenic carcinogens." (Environmental Science & Technology)

?!! "Borneo's ancient jungles offer new insight into modern life: it sucks" - "MALINAU, Indonesia - Many of us suspect it as we trudge to work in the morning, but scientists studying some of the last primitive tribes in deepest Borneo say they now have proof -- modern life is, indeed, rubbish. A team of experts has spent months comparing the lives of the Punan people, who still live as hunter-gatherers in the forest of Indonesian Borneo, with those of tribe members who have been lured away by civilisation. Not surprisingly, many of the Punan's dreams are dashed on arrival in the big city, however the scientists say that even basics like food, health and quality of life also turn out to be much worse in town than the forest." (AFP)

Or: How to mistake lack of assimilation and absent skills set for a modern society quality parameter

"An Update on Endangered Species Act Reform" - "What are the prospects for a revamping of the Endangered Species Act? Myron Ebell investigates this question in light of recent calls by senior members for reform." (CEI)

"To preserve forests, some suggest cutting trees" - "WESTON, Mass. -- To understand the latest threat to one of the largest naturally reforested regions on the planet -- the Northeastern U.S. -- it helps to drop in on "volunteer day" in the town forest of this wealthy community outside of Boston." (The Wall Street Journal)

"Eco-groups seek to lift roadless-rule injunction" - "Conservationists argue in an appeals court that a U.S. judge misinterpreted the evidence and the law." (Denver Post)

"New Rule to Open National Forest to Roads" - "WASHINGTON - Governors are being given 18 months to change the Bush administration's plan to open up to 58.5 million acres of remote national forestland to road building, timbering and other commercial activity. In one of its biggest environmental decisions, the administration will let governors petition for more or fewer restrictions against developing nearly a third of the 191 million acres of national forests, according to briefing documents obtained by The Associated Press." (Associated Press)

"Small glaciers in Northern California buck" - "While glaciers around the world are shrinking and disappearing, presumably due to global warming, two small glaciers in the Trinity Alps of Northern California are holding their own. Richard Heermance, a UCSB Ph.D. student in geological sciences recently presented findings of his research on the glaciers at the western meeting of the Geological Society of America. His hypothesis is that these glaciers are being sustained due to higher precipitation, since global warming has an uneven effect on precipitation around the world." (University of California - Santa Barbara)

Help! The air's clearing! "Clear skies end global dimming" - "Earth's air is cleaner, but this may worsen the greenhouse effect." (News @ Nature) | Earth lightens up (DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) | Clearing smog has led to 'global brightening' (Fred Pearce, NewScientist.com news service) | Data Show Earth's Surface Is Brighter and Scientists Study Climate Link (New York Times)

Pretty funny isn't it? A short while ago we faced alleged agronomic disaster - due to global dimming as these papers, among others, suggested:

Stanhill, G., Cohen S., 2001. Global Dimming: A Review of the Evidence. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 107: 255-278

Roderick M., Farquhar G., 2002. The Cause of Decreased Pan Evaporation Over the Past 50 Years. Science 298:1410-1411

Liepert B., 2002. Observed Reductions of Surface Solar Radiation at Sites in the US and Worldwide. Geophysical Research Letters 29: 1421-1433

Now it's a disaster that it's supposedly not dimming because it'll let in (or out?) more thermal energy. They don't care what it is - as long as it's a disaster.

If we can't even agree on the sign of alleged change in solar radiation reaching Earth's surface how the blazes are we supposed to program GCCMs to extract a supposed subtle (imaginary?) enhanced greenhouse warming signal?

Meanwhile: "Scientists call for research aimed at better understanding Earth's energy 'balance'" - "In an article in this week's issue of Science, three leading climate and atmospheric scientists argue that scientific research is lacking in several core areas concerning Earth's climate and its fundamental energy system. In a "Perspectives" article in the journal, the scientists say that a significant gap exists in accounting for the amount of the sun's energy that is absorbed by Earth's atmosphere and surface and the amount reflected back into space." (University of California - San Diego)

II: "Earth's reflectivity a great unknown in gauging climate change impacts" - "Earth's climate is being changed substantially by greenhouse gases, but a group of leading climate scientists contends the overall impact is not understood as well as it should be because data are too scarce on how much energy the planet reflects into space. They are calling for restoration of programs to study Earth's albedo." (University of Washington)

"Global warming makes seal pups go hungry" - "Retreating ice in the Southern Ocean is making it harder for elephant seal mothers to feed their babies, say Australian researchers. Environmental scientists Dr Clive McMahon and Harry Burton of the Australian Antarctic Division in Tasmania say a warming climate is changing the ecology of the ocean, where the seals forage." (ABC Science Online)

Ahem: "Burton says the fall in the seals' food supply appears to be linked to an overall decline in the amount of pack-ice covering the oceans in Antarctica as the climate warms."

Antarctic climate and sea ice extent certainly seems to be changing - it's getting colder and sea ice is extending:

Comiso, J.C. 2000. Variability and trends in Antarctic surface temperature from in situ and satellite infrared measurements. Journal of Climate 13: 1674-1696

Over the entire period studied, it was determined that the mean rate of change of sea ice extent for the entire Antarctic region was an increase of 0.043 M km2 per year. The authors additionally concluded that "the increasing trend in the sea ice extent over the Antarctic region may be slowly accelerating in time, particularly over the last decade."

Liu, J., Curry, J.A. and Martinson, D.G. 2004. Interpretation of recent Antarctic sea ice variability. Geophysical Research Letters 31: 10.1029/2003GL018732.

Liu et al. report that "overall, the total Antarctic sea ice extent (the cumulative area of grid boxes covering at least 15% ice concentrations) has shown an increasing trend (~4,801 km2/yr)." In addition, they find that "the total Antarctic sea ice area (the cumulative area of the ocean actually covered by at least 15% ice concentrations) has increased significantly by ~13,295 km2/yr, exceeding the 95% confidence level," noting that "the upward trends in the total ice extent and area are robust for different cutoffs of 15, 20, and 30% ice concentrations (used to define the ice extent and area)."

Parkinson, C.L. 2002. Trends in the length of the southern Ocean sea-ice season, 1979-99. Annals of Glaciology 34: 435-440.

Over the 21 years of the study, most of the Ross Sea has, in the words of the author, "undergone a lengthening of the sea-ice season, whereas most of the Amundsen Sea ice cover and almost the entire Bellingshausen Sea ice cover have undergone a shortening of the sea-ice season," while "results for the Weddell Sea are mixed." Overall, Parkinson reports that "the area of the Southern Ocean experiencing a lengthening of the sea-ice season by at least 1 day per year over the period 1979-99 is 5.6 x 106 km2, whereas the area experiencing a shortening of the sea-ice season by at least 1 day per year is 46% less than that, at 3.0 x 106 km2."

Zwally, H.J., Comiso, J.C., Parkinson, C.L. Cavalieri, D.J. and Gloersen, P. 2002. Variability of Antarctic sea ice 1979-1998. Journal of Geophysical Research 107: 10.1029/2000JC000733.

For the entire Southern Ocean, sea ice extent was found to have increased by 11,181 ± 4190 square km per year, or by 0.98 ± 0.37 percent per decade. Sea ice area for the Southern Ocean was also shown to have increased by nearly the same amount: 10,860 ± 3720 square km per year, or 1.26 ± 0.43 percent per decade. Regionally, trends in sea ice extent were positive in the Weddell Sea, the Pacific Ocean and the Ross Sea; while they were nearly in balance to slightly negative in the Indian Ocean, and negative in the Bellingshausen/Amundsen Seas. In terms of variability, the interannual variability of the mean sea ice extent was only 1.6%; while monthly variability in sea ice extent was 4.0% over the first ten years of the record, declining to 2.7% over the last ten years.

Yuan, X. and Martinson, D.G. 2000. Antarctic sea ice extent variability and its global connectivity. Journal of Climate 13: 1697-1717.

Among a host of other things, it was learned that the net trend in the mean Antarctic sea ice edge over the last 18 years has been an equatorward expansion of 0.011 degree of latitude per year.

References and synopses by curtesy CO2 Science Magazine.

"Kyoto Protocol: Russia Will Have To 'count' All Its Tree Roots" - "MOSCOW-  A "Kyoto working group" has been set up by the Forestry Agency under the Ministry of Natural Resources. The working group has been tasked with drafting an action plan to develop the system to monitor sinks, emissions and the absorption of greenhouse gases in the forests. It is also to provide the regulatory-legal framework for these activities. The working group is made up of Forestry Agency employees, scientists, and representatives of non-governmental organizations." (RIA Novosti commentator Tatyana Sinitsina)

"Park's new boundaries may thwart giant wind farm" - "The board of the Countryside Agency yesterday agreed to extend the boundaries of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales national parks, a move which will embrace the proposed site of one of the biggest wind farms ever built in Britain. Precise boundaries have still to be decided but the eastern limit of the Lakes park will move towards the M6, taking in the Whinash site near Tebay in Cumbria where Chalmerston Wind Power wants to build 27 turbines, each 115 metres (377ft) high, on a windy ridge between Borrowdale and Bretherdale." (The Guardian)

"Activists Protest Bank's Plant Funding" - "Greenpeace activists wearing T-shirts with a red line through a smokestack protested Thursday inside a conference hall hosting the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank, objecting to the group's funding of coal-fired power plants." (Associated Press)

"Oil-hungry Europe is now in need of a new car revolution" - "NEXT from Brussels: the 62 mph speed limit. Andris Piebalgs, the EU’s Latvian Energy Commissioner, says that EU drivers ought to adopt the 100 kilometre per hour upper speed limit suggested at the Paris-based International Energy Association. He raised the idea suitably gently in Germany, where autobahn drivers like to drive twice as fast and have no rule to stop them." (London Times)

"Organic Farmers Finding Survival Difficult Despite Increased Demand" - "VANCOUVER - Organic farming has become slightly more popular in Canada says a recent Statistics Canada report, but often times the extra labor involved doesn’t pay off and farmers are forced to return to conventional farming practices." (The Epoch Times)

May 5, 2005

"Ugandan Mosquitoes Are Resistant to DDT - Study" - "SEVERAL mosquito varieties in Uganda have a strong resistant gene (kdr) against several insecticides including DDT, a new report has disclosed." (New Vision)

Given that this resistance largely takes the form of excitation causing the mosquitoes to avoid DDT and hence the dwellings so treated, this is still an effective means of protecting people. Since the object of the exercise is not necessarily to kill mosquitoes but avoid malaria transmission "resistance" in this form is not really a problem.

"Malaria call linked to drive on organic pollutants" - "The United Nations Environment Programme will call for more funding for a malaria vaccine this week as part of efforts to help governments and industry phase out some of the world's most dangerous chemicals." (Financial Times)

"Claiming Non-Medical Exemption from Childhood Immunization: a Pediatric Paradox" - "Fear of harm is the most common reason given by parents who choose not to have their children vaccinated against preventable diseases, according to an article in the May issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine." (Aubrey Stimola, ACSH)

"NASA & NOAA set to launch new environmental satellite" - "NASA is set to launch the new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite (POES), another critical link in the development of a global Earth-observation program." (NASA/GSFC)

On scientific censorship: “The scientific consensus on climate change” - "The letter Science Magazine rejected" (Benny Peiser)

"Where will they go when the sea rises?" - "THE average American emits five times as much carbon dioxide as a Mexican and 20 times as much as the average Indian. So the last thing the planet's already battered environment needs is more Americans.

That is the argument of a small but vocal faction of the environmental group the Sierra Club, who last week urged the club's 750,000 members to support a ballot calling for a cut in immigrants to the US, which now stands at around 700,000 a year. The ballot failed, but those who supported it are undeterred. "The size and rate of growth of the American population puts enormous stress on the global environment," says Sierra Club club member Dick Schneider, from Oakland, California.

Similar arguments have been put forward elsewhere. Environmentalist Tim Flannery, who is director of the South Australian Museum in Adelaide, has argued that at current consumption levels Australia can only support 7 or 8 million people sustainably, not the 19 million who now live there. This presents a "moral dilemma", he says, when it comes to receiving future immigrants who have been forced to move because of climate change, for example, Pacific islanders flooded by rising sea levels.

"If we take in these refugees, they immediately up their pollution 100-fold as Australian citizens. So we are making the problem worse," says Flannery. He believes the only solution is for rich countries to drastically reduce their emissions." (New Scientist)

"Kyoto emissions tax forces NZ power price rises" - "New Zealand household power prices will rise by at least 6 per cent because of a tax on carbon dioxide in an effort to comply with the nation's obligation to reduce emissions under terms of the Kyoto protocol, the NZ government said." (Australian Financial Review)

"Wind farm study blow to green hopes" - "WIND farms could have a devastating impact on Britain’s wild birds, conservationists have warned. Ducks and waders are among the species that could pay the ultimate price for green electricity. A worldwide review of previous studies into the effect of wind farms on the overall number of local birds paints a grim picture. It said: "Available evidence suggests that wind farms reduce the abundance of many bird species at the wind farm site." (The Scotsman)

May 4, 2005

"Much-Maligned DDT Still Has Supporters" - "MEXICO CITY, May 3 - DDT is one of the 12 substances known as persistent organic pollutants that the international community has targeted for urgent elimination. But this insecticide, which before falling out of favour prevented millions of deaths and inspired a Nobel Prize, may yet have a long life ahead of it. For many countries, DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) is still an ''effective and affordable'' weapon against malaria, according to United Nations agencies." (IPS)

"Despite Modest Advances, Malaria Still a Major Killer in Africa" - "GENEVA, May 3 - Despite the promising advances made in the prevention and treatment of malaria around the world, the disease continues to represent a major challenge in Africa, where the overwhelming majority of deaths now take place." (IPS)

"'Too early' for malaria verdict" - "It is "too soon" to say if an international initiative to combat malaria has had an impact, its leaders say. Roll Back Malaria, an international group of 90 organisations, was set up in 1998 to tackle malaria." (BBC)

"Lawsuit challenges a meat substitute" - "A group says Quorn, which is sold as a line of frozen meatless dinner entrees, causes some people to suffer severe allergic reactions, including violent vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps." (New York Times)

From our 'here we go again' files: "Chemicals in Food Containers Linked to Prostate Problems in Developing Mice" - "Fetal exposure to man-made chemicals found in oral contraceptives and some food containers can cause male mice to develop deformities in their prostate and bladder, a new study has found." (Scientific American)

"New emissions study to focus on kids' health" - "The Environment Ministry of Japan will conduct a five-year survey to examine the impact of vehicle emissions on human health." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

"Greenpeace charged with violating environmental law" - "ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Lawyers selected a jury Monday that will decide whether Greenpeace and its contract ship were criminally negligent by failing to have the proper oil spill response paperwork during an anti-logging campaign. The environmental activist group, the captain of the Arctic Sunrise and the ship's agent all are charged with misdemeanor criminal counts of operating a vessel without a spill contingency plan or proof of financial responsibility in case of a spill, as required by state law." (Associated Press)

"Rock hounds sleuth rise of Earth's atmosphere" - "CSI-like" techniques, used on minerals, are revealing the steps that led to evolution of the atmosphere on Earth. President of the Mineralogical Society of America, Douglas Rumble, III, of the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory, describes the suite of techniques and studies over the last five years that have led to a growing consensus by the scientific community of what happened to produce the protective ozone layer and atmosphere on our planet." (Carnegie Institution)

"In search of the cold, hard truth" - "Geologists began taking sediment samples from Antarctica in the late 1950s as part of investigations into the planet's origins. Over the past decade, the samples also have been scrutinized for clues about climate and global warming." (Tallahassee Democrat)

"World should look beyond Kyoto: climate expert" - "Debate about climate change needs to shift from the Kyoto Protocol to the level of global warming that is "dangerous", the head of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says. Rajendra Pachauri said the world urgently needed to decide the level at which greenhouse gases should be stabilised and work towards that goal." (The Age)

"New Zealand: Household bills to increase under carbon tax" - "The Government says household bills for power, petrol and other fuels will increase by $4 a week when it introduces a carbon tax in April 2007. The minister responsible for climate change policy, Pete Hodgson, confirmed this morning the carbon tax would be set at $15 per tonne. "This will add around one cent to the cost of a unit of electricity, about 4 cents to a litre of petrol and 46 cents to a 9kg bottle of LPG and 68 cents to a 20kg bag of coal," Mr Hodgson said in a statement." (NZPA)

"Companies Try Keeping Ice Cream Frozen, Emissions Down" - "Coke, the Good Humor man and McDonald's have a temperature problem: The same chemical that makes their products cold is making the atmosphere warm.

Coca-Cola Co. and Unilever PLC, whose ice-cream brands include Good Humor and Ben & Jerry's, have millions of refrigerated beverage machines and ice-cream freezers in locations world-wide. McDonald's Corp. has thousands of restaurants, each with big refrigeration rooms and sundae machines. All these contraptions, it now turns out, are global-warming hazards.

The machines use a chemical refrigerant called HFCs, or hydrofluorocarbons. When companies began rolling out HFCs as a refrigerant about a decade ago, they were supposed to be helping the environment. The chemical they were replacing -- CFCs, or chlorofluorocarbons -- had been linked to the big environmental issue of the 1980s, ozone-layer depletion.

Now, HFCs are being fingered as a culprit in today's environmental hot-button issue: global warming. One ton of HFCs does as much atmospheric damage as 1,300 tons of carbon dioxide, the better-known global-warming gas, according to the United Nations. As a result, companies are scrambling to phase out the HFCs they just phased in." (The Wall Street Journal)

"Capitals of smog" - "Given the air miles the party leaders have been blithely clocking up in the election campaign, it seems climate change has fallen off the political agenda; meanwhile, new reports suggest the Antarctic ice sheet is melting far more rapidly than we thought. We have global land temperatures expected to rise by at least 3 degrees by 2100, sea levels by 40cm by 2050, and chief scientist David King calling climate change a greater threat than terrorism. But the world's elected national leaders seem incapable of addressing the challenge." (The Guardian)

"Oh dear! Our bien-pensant 'journo bods' feel their concerns are being ignored... Weep! Weep!" (EnviroSpin Watch)

"UK: Hot air - Political silence on nuclear energy is indefensible" - "There is little in the Labour Party manifesto to remind voters of Tony Blair’s conviction that Britain’s destiny is to set an example to the world on global warming. There is remarkably little said about the matter at all, given the apocalyptic view that the Prime Minister apparently takes of the impact of climate change." (London Times)

"Irish greenhouse gas firm says to list in London" - "DUBLIN, May 3 - An Irish company trading in greenhouse gas credits said on Tuesday it planned to list on the London Stock Exchange in June. Dublin-based AgCert International, 43 percent owned by AIM-listed XL TechGroup , said in a statement it would offer shares to institutional investors in the UK and continental Europe. Industry sources said the company was seeking to raise up to 100 million euros ($128.7 million), taking its estimated market capitalisation to about 400 million euros." (Reuters)

Sounds a lot like the dot.bomb market doesn't it? As people attempt to capitalise on hot air it is, as Yogi Berra put it, déjà vu all over again.

"Nature Imitates Life!" - "If you just looked at the cover of April 21 issue of Nature magazine you’d see a hurricane apocalypse, as four major storms surround Florida. They are in physically impossible proximity. Hurricanes require an “outflow” of winds aloft to continue upward motion in their tight and deadly vortices. In the picture, the outflows of three storms are on top of each other. They would mutually squash each other within hours." (World Climate Report)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"Putting the Proactive Principle into Practice: The Case for Reducing Carbonaceous Aerosol Emissions in Southern Asia" - "The are many real-world problems vexing various parts of the world, the solutions to which would also provide the environmental benefits climate alarmists seek to obtain by counter-productive mandates." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Variability of Climate (Decadal Variability - Oceans: Pacific)" - "What is the history of Pacific Ocean decadal-scale climate variability; and what does it portend about the future?" (co2science.org)

"Thylakoid Membranes" - "How does atmospheric CO 2 enrichment alter their composition and functioning, and what are the ultimate consequences for plant photosynthesis?" (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: Cotton, Ponderosa Pine, Radish and Soybean." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"Indian Summer Monsoon Defies Climate Model Predictions" - "Model simulations of greenhouse gas warming generally depict an increase in the intensity of the Asian summer monsoon, but real-world data tell a vastly different story." (co2science.org)

"A History of Columbia River Basin Droughts Since 1750" - "How does it mesh with what climate alarmists tell us about the effects of global warming on these extreme events?" (co2science.org)

"Biological Impacts of Increasing Sea Ice in Baffin Bay and Adjacent Waters" - "In a world where global warming is demonized for its claimed potential to harm the biosphere, there are places where declining temperatures are harming it right now." (co2science.org)

"The Effect of Atmospheric CO 2 Enrichment on Ocean Carbon Uptake" - "According to the results of this model study, it has the potential to be very substantial." (co2science.org)

"The Carbon-Starved World of the Last Glacial Maximum" - "How did earth's trees and other C 3 vegetation fare during the last great ice age?  The title of our journal review pretty much provides the answer." (co2science.org)

"Energy Ministers Say Must Cut Oil Dependence" - "PARIS - The world's richest energy consuming nations on Tuesday called for measures to curb their dependence on unreliable and expensive imports as near-record oil prices show signs of stifling the global economy." (Reuters)

"Going nuclear after the election - the need to play politics" (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Siberia could become the world's atomic waste dump, warn greens" - "Furious environmentalists have accused Russia of plotting to turn vast swaths of Siberia into a repository for the world's unwanted nuclear waste in a multi-billion-dollar plan that puts profit before safety." (London Independent)

"Soil quality threat to EU farming" - "European farming is being threatened by declining soil quality, particularly in eastern states, according to a report. More than 16% of EU land is affected by soil degradation but more than a third is affected in eastern countries. Costly measures to boost soil fertility put pressure on the Common Agricultural Policy, the EU's farming subsidy system, says the Soil Atlas of Europe. Urbanisation, climate change, pollution and poor farming practices contribute to declining soil quality, it says." (BBC)

"New EU project assesses safety of nanoparticles" - "The nanosciences are considered by many as a key technology for the 21st century. However, the recent discovery that the exposure of animals to nanoparticles can lead to neurological damage means that research into safety is crucial." (Cordis News)

"Jefferson scientists create plant factories churning out antibodies against tumor cells" - "Scientists at Jefferson Medical College are using tobacco plants to produce monoclonal antibodies – tiny guided protein missiles – that can target and hunt down colorectal cancer cells. The plants promise to provide a cheaper, faster method of producing anticancer antibodies, raising hopes that the technology can one day be used in humans, and for a variety of cancers." (Thomas Jefferson University)

"Assembly panel rejects ban on pet cloning" - "SACRAMENTO – Should cats have more than nine lives?  An Assembly panel Tuesday wrestled with the complex moral dilemma posed by emerging technology that makes it possible to clone household pets, deciding in the end that the state should stay out of it." (Copley News Service)

"Animal to human transplantation, future potential, present risk, WHO" - "Transplantation of animal organs, living cells and tissues into humans is termed xenotransplantation. Recent experiments have shown that the transplantation of organs from genetically modified pigs into baboons can yield moderate to good results and this raises hopes for the future of organ transplantation from pigs to humans." (Medical News Today)

"Wild grasses and man-made wheats advance research capabilities" - "Getting resistance to the latest biotype of greenbug or rust in wheat may require some bridge building. Dr. Jackie Rudd, associate professor at the Texas A&M University System Agricultural Research and Extension Center and state wheat breeder, is looking at wild grass species and synthetic wheats for possible solutions. "We're looking for new unique sources of resistance to various biotic and abiotic stresses," Rudd said." (Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications)

"Not So Golden Silence on GM Rice" - "Recently, I posted a piece on the discovery of the potential for a serious allergenic response from a foodstuff that was being promoted as a non-genetically-modified (non-GM) alternative to GM soybeans. There was almost total media silence on this matter even though the research itself was published in a leading peer-reviewed medical journal. ACSH Nutrition Director Dr. Ruth Kava recently noted yet another case of media silence, but before I describe the parallels and differences in the two cases, allow me to conjure an imaginary scenario." (Thomas R. DeGregori, ACSH)

"South Africans not concerned with GM crops" - "Some South Africans may feel it is not such a big deal when Biowatch South Africa, a small non-profit organisation, secures a court application to gain access to information about how decisions are made about growing genetically modified (GM) crops in the country." (Independent Online)

"India: Bt cotton allowed in some States, not in AP" - "THE Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) on Tuesday renewed its permission for Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company (Mahyco) to market its three varieties of Bt Cotton hybrids - MECH-12Bt, MECH-162Bt and MECH 184Bt - containing Cry 1 Ac Gene for the Central Zone (consisting of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra) for another two years. The GEAC, however, did take a decision not to renew the permission for Mahyco to market Bt Cotton seeds in Andhra Pradesh. "The permission has not been renewed for any of the three hybrids for Andhra Pradesh," said official sources." (The Hindu)

May 3, 2005

New on CSRwatch.com:

  • Time Magazine advocates misanthropic investing...
  • Rainforest Action Network exposed...
  • Moonbat reads too many Frederick Forsyth novels...
  •

"WHO to report on malaria campaign" - "The World Health Organisation is to release its first global report on its Roll Back Malaria campaign. The campaign was launched five years ago and aims to halve deaths from the disease by 2010. But despite wide publicity for their campaign it hasn't attracted the attention or the funding of other health crises, such as HIV/Aids. The report is expected to reveal that without more funding the 2010 target will not be reached." (BBC)

"Weeding out the truth" - "In Iowa, high-stakes debate over the widely used weed-killer atrazine pits environmentalists who fear the herbicide causes cancer and harms wildlife against farmers who say there is no efficient substitute." (Des Moines Register)

"Food fried in vegetable oil may contain toxic compound" - "When highly unsaturated vegetable oils are heated at frying temperature (365 F) for extended periods--or even for half an hour--a highly toxic compound, HNE (4-hydroxy-trans-2-nonenal) forms in the oil." (University of Minnesota)

"Parents who don't vaccinate their children may believe vaccines cause harm" - "Concern that vaccines might cause harm was the most common reason given by parents who choose not to have their children vaccinated for preventable diseases, according to an article in the May issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals." (JAMA and Archives Journals)

"Quacky nutritionists cross the line" - "The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine recently celebrated its 20th birthday at a star-studded gala (and vegan dinner) attended by Alec Baldwin, Alicia Silverstone and Daryl Hannah. Supposedly, they were celebrating the group's record in promoting "preventive medicine, especially good nutrition - opposing unethical human experimentation and promoting alternatives to animal research." But a closer look at PCRM's record reveals a front for bizarre medical views and perhaps something more dangerous." (Iain Murray, Washington Examiner)

"Plastic material linked to prostate cancer" - "A chemical used to make water bottles and line tin cans could be the cause of surging prostate cancer rates in men, says a study." (London Times)

Oh boy, now Jonathan Leake's citing Freddy's mania as a study...

"State of the Scare" - "Reporting on air quality has improved, but not by nearly as much as air quality itself. The American Lung Association's annual State of the Air report has also improved, but not by nearly as much as air quality reporting. Despite unprecedented gains in air quality during the last two years, State of the Air continues to exaggerate air pollution levels and health risks. And despite a few positive headlines about air pollution trends, journalists continue to parrot ALA's claims with little or no critical review of their veracity. We still have a long way to go before activists' and journalists' claims match air quality reality." (Joel Schwartz, TCS)

Congressional Staff Seminar: “On Serious Mismeasures of the U.N. IPCC TAR’s 1000-year ‘Hockey Stick’ temperature history: What About the Science?” - "On April 6th, UCAR sponsored a Hill presentation defending the United Nation's IPCC Third Assessment hypothesis of the so-called "hockey stick" 1,000-year temperature record. The works of several "skeptics" were unfavorably characterized, including a number of published papers by Dr. Willie Soon. Dr. Soon will appear to present his own science-based research and views on this highly controversial and consequential topic, and answer questions." (Center for Science & Public Policy)

"Climate: Earth's heat balance in the red" - "Boulder, CO, May. 2 -- The latest finding by climate scientists is that Earth's heat budget already is in the red, meaning the planet is set on a steady course for warmer average surface temperatures." (Dan Whipple, UPI)

"Global Warming: The Smoking Gun?" - "Last week's publication of a new climate modeling study investigating the evidence for man-made climate change is destined to have more than the average impact on the global warming debate. The study's lead author, Dr. James Hansen, has been a central figure in global warming research and helped bring the issue into the public's consciousness with his congressional testimony in 1988." (Roy Spencer, TCS)

"Dustbowl Warning" - "Conditions in some parts of the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies are as dry as they were during the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s, and some models predict the dry spell could last up to 20 years." (Living On Earth)

"New Study Questions Emphasis on Climate Change" - "St. Charles, MO. A new study published by the Institute for Study of Economics and the Environment (ISEE) at Lindenwood University questions the center stage position being given to global climate change. In Is Climate Change the 21st Century’s Most Urgent Environmental Problem? Dr. Indur M. Goklany, a researcher with 30 years experience analyzing environmental and natural resource issues, examines the environmental threats posed by climate change versus other pressing concerns facing humanity. If we are concerned about where to best place our bets to improve humanity’s lot now and in the future, should we make large investments in attempting to mitigate (or reduce) greenhouse gas emissions or can we get more bang for the buck elsewhere?" (Press Release) | Is Climate Change the 21st Century’s Most Urgent Environmental Problem? (.pdf) (Indur M. Goklany, ISEE)

"Warmer Atlantic basin to strengthen hurricanes" - "After four hurricanes that walloped Florida last year stoked debate over whether the storms are gaining in intensity, dialogue invariably turned to global warming and its effects on the Atlantic basin, where many hurricanes form." (St. Petersburg Times)

"A sweet rice pudding: Genetically modified rice seems to deliver the goods" - "WHILE rich countries squirm, poor ones are acting. The fastidiousness with which people in many wealthy nations (though not, as yet, America) have reacted to genetically modified (GM) crops is in sharp contrast to the way they have been embraced in poorer parts of the world. And a paper in this week's Science shows why. Huang Jikun, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Beijing, and his colleagues, have been studying trials of two strains of GM rice that the Chinese government is hoping to commercialise. Their results show that in the hands of the small farmers who dominate the countryside these strains produce higher yields, consume less pesticide, and are better for the health of those farmers than non-GM strains." (The Economist)

"Rice with a Human Touch: Engineered grain uses gene from people to protect against herbicides" - "A human gene that Japanese researchers have inserted into rice enables the plant to break down a portfolio of chemicals now used on farms to kill weeds. The unusual breadth of that herbicide resistance could circumvent a major shortcoming of existing genetically engineered crops and also open new avenues for cleaning up contaminated soils. Some scientists, however, are concerned that weeds growing with the rice could eventually acquire the human gene and become herbicide-resistant superweeds." (Science News)

"Golden rice: The seeds of a biotech future" - "Golden rice, the much-publicised genetically-modified rice able to increase the vitamin A content of the diets of the under-nourished, could finally appear in farmers’ fields in 2006. It will be no “silver bullet” but could still make a useful contribution to tackling a global health problem which kills or blinds millions of children each year, its supporters argue." (Financial Times)

"Europeans gradually accepting more biotechnology" - "CARBONDALE, Ill. — Though European consumers still aren’t ready to embrace genetically modified agricultural products, there is real movement toward acceptance, according to a David Lightfoot." (AgriNews)

May 2, 2005

"JP Morgan Becomes Tool of Green Activists" - "JP Morgan Chase's chief executive, William Harrison, is a dream come true for Left-wing anti-business activists. Not only did Mr. Harrison announce last week that JP Morgan Chase would fully surrender to their demand that the bank adopt activist approved lending policies - he also announced plans to make the bank an active tool of the radical environmental movement. Following activist demands, JP Morgan will compel its borrowers to embrace the unsubstantiated hysteria about global warming - thus putting their businesses at significant financial risk." (Steven Milloy, New York Sun)

Somebody squealed! "Leading scientific journals 'are censoring debate on global warming'" - "Two of the world's leading scientific journals have come under fire from researchers for refusing to publish papers which challenge fashionable wisdom over global warming. A British authority on natural catastrophes who disputed whether climatologists really agree that the Earth is getting warmer because of human activity, says his work was rejected by the American publication, Science, on the flimsiest of grounds.

Dr Peiser is not the only academic to have had work turned down which criticises the findings of Dr Oreskes's study. Prof Dennis Bray, of the GKSS National Research Centre in Geesthacht, Germany, submitted results from an international study showing that fewer than one in 10 climate scientists believed that climate change is principally caused by human activity. As with Dr Peiser's study, Science refused to publish his rebuttal. Prof Bray told The Telegraph: "They said it didn't fit with what they were intending to publish."

Prof Roy Spencer, at the University of Alabama, a leading authority on satellite measurements of global temperatures, told The Telegraph: "It's pretty clear that the editorial board of Science is more interested in promoting papers that are pro-global warming. It's the news value that is most important." He said that after his own team produced research casting doubt on man-made global warming, they were no longer sent papers by Nature and Science for review - despite being acknowledged as world leaders in the field." (London Telegraph)

"Earth's energy balance" - "This article is mostly about the new evidence supporting global warming by Hansen et al. But let me start with an idealized energy budget of the Earth." (Luboš Motl)

"James Hansen's Increasing Insensitivity" - "It seems that the longer NASA scientist Jim Hansen studies the climate, the more insensitive he, or should we say, his interpretation of the climate, becomes." (Dr. Patrick Michaels, TCS)

Shrek for PM? "What the world needs now is a green superstar" - "Climate change is the gravest threat to our environment and economic security but, with only three days left until the general election, we have yet to hear about it. The government's chief scientific advisor may be shouting in our leaders' ears but the big three cower in the corner, convinced no one will vote to hibernate their car or restrict their Easyjet addiction." (The Guardian)

It would seem appropriate with that donkey constantly braying about "climate change."

"Was U.S. wise to reject Kyoto treaty on climate change?" - "Kyoto cutbacks in energy use would devastate America's economy by H. Sterling Burnett; America will be blamed for disasters that climate change will unleash by Wayne Madsen" (South Bend Tribune)

"Burying 'global warming'" (EnviroSpin Watch)

The Week That Was April 30, 2005 (SEPP)

"Salty staircase in the Atlantic provides clues to ocean mixing" - "Layers of salty ocean water mix with layers of fresher water, creating a salty staircase or layering driven by small-scale convection known as salt fingers. Although scientists have known about salt fingers since 1960, when they were discovered at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, they have not understood their role in ocean mixing and the ability of the ocean to absorb heat, carbon dioxide and pollutants from the atmosphere." (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

"Global Warming: Something to sneeze at?" - "The April 28, 2005 issue of Nature magazine contains a “News” story headlined “Climate change blamed for rise in hay fever.” It seems that a record number of Japanese are plagued with itchy eyes, runny noses, and annoying sneezes this spring. Somehow, in yet another “predictable distortion” of global warming, Nature managed to conflate all this snottiness with global warming: “Spare a thought for Japan’s hay-fever sufferers as they endure the highest pollen levels on record this spring. Global warming seems at least partly to blame and most experts agree the worst is yet to come.” Add 20 more million people to the list of climate change victims? Not so fast. Here is a story that that Nature left behind, from the New York Times." (World Climate Report)

In a hoarse whisper? "Redford, Rocky to host conference on warming" - "Actor and activist Robert Redford and Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson are playing host to a conference in Utah to which 100 mayors of North American cities will be invited to discuss local responses to global warming." (Salt Lake Tribune)

"Senate Climate Bill Drops Emissions Credit Proposal" - "Washington, D.C., April 28, 2005—This week Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) introduced a revised version of his climate bill, the “Climate Change Technology Deployment and Infrastructure Credit Act of 2005.” This version omits provisions to award regulatory credits for registered greenhouse gas emission reductions applicable to a future Kyoto-style cap-and-trade program. This system would inadvertently build a corporate clientele for Kyoto-type energy rationing, because the credits attain full market value only under a legally binding emissions reduction target or “cap.” (CEI)

"France, Germany call for more action on climate after Kyoto" - "France and Germany called Thursday on the world to expand on the base of the Kyoto protocol on global warming and bring on board the United States -- the biggest holdout on the landmark environmental treaty." (Agence France-Presse)

"Sea level may rise 10 inches a century" - "Oceans will rise at least 10 inches per century for several hundred years -- imperiling coastal regions worldwide -- even if emissions of heat-trapping "greenhouse" gases were capped at today's levels, according to one of the world's foremost climate-change researchers. Even if the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases being belched into the sky could be stabilized, sea levels would rise 10 to 20 inches per century for 400 years or more, said Tom Wigley, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. "We've already done so much to the atmosphere that sea-level rise is just going to keep going, and there's just not much that we can do about it," Wigley said. "We'd better learn to live with those future changes and develop strategies to reduce our vulnerability." (Scripps Howard News Service)

"Are dress codes key to global warming?" - "On Thursday, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told all his Cabinet ministers and central government bureaucrats to shed their neckties and jackets between June 1 and Sept. 30 as a means of reducing air conditioner use and thus saving energy." (Japan Times)

"Scots 'support' climate crackdown" - "Most people in Scotland back beefed up measures aimed at curbing greenhouse gases, according to a poll for environmental campaigners." (BBC)

A couple hundred people eh? What did they do - wander into a bar and holler "who wants a 'better' world"? What response do you suppose they'd get with a question like: "who wants to pay an additional $100 trillion in taxes to potentially reduce global mean temperature by perhaps 1 °C"?

"Greenhouse gases buried at sea" - "As governments grapple with global warming, the world's oil giants are planning to use new technology to store millions of tonnes of CO2 under the sea, reports Sylvia Pfeifer." (London Telegraph)

"Norway CO2 Injection Said Too Costly To Boost Oil" - "OSLO - Pumping greenhouse gases into oil wells off Norway is too costly as a way to boost oil output while easing global warming, Norway's Petroleum Directorate (NPD) said on Tuesday. "Technology and costs make CO2 (carbon dioxide) injection too expensive and risky for the licensees on the Norwegian shelf," the NPD said in a report to the Norwegian government." (Reuters)

"Rising number of greens ditch cheap air travel" - "Campaigners focus on environmental impact of flights." (The Observer)

"First green group attacks blight of giant wind farms" - "INDUSTRIAL-scale wind farms should not be allowed to ruin the Scottish countryside, according to one of the country’s most influential green pressure groups. The Ramblers’ Association, which represents thousands of walkers, says giant wind power stations with turbines more than 300ft high should not be used to tackle climate change at the expense of the landscape." (Scotland on Sunday)

"Interest in Building Reactors, but Industry Is Still Cautious" - "Electric companies have shown more interest in building nuclear reactors, but conditions are not yet right to induce companies and investors to make the gamble." (New York Times)

"The nuclear option" - "Nuclear energy is the future of Britain's energy needs that no one dare mention - or at least not during a general election campaign." (London Daily Telegraph)

"The Technology of Medieval Peasantry to the Rescue?" - "One of the delights about the way my life is currently working out (soon to be followed by the inevitable disaster, I am sure,) is that there is a neat connection between what I actually do for a living and where my intellectual interests lie. In the day job I deal with weird and wonderful metals and their compounds, something which has meant my keeping a close eye on developments in fuel cell technology and my intellect, such as it is, delights in deriding those who see the world as other than it is." (Tim Worstall, TCS)

"Particulates from afar visit Arctic as haze" - "Measurements from Barrow show that Arctic haze decreased from the 1980s to the 1990s, but has wavered in recent years." (Anchorage Daily News)

"Environmentalists' silence on the estate tax" - "NEW YORK – The US Congress has a real chance of scoring a major victory for wildlife habitat, open space, and reduced sprawl. But strangely, in this legislative battle, the major environmental organizations are nowhere to be found. At issue is the notoriously perverse incentive that forces people to sell their pristine land to developers: the estate tax." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"U.N. to review 'dirty dozen' chemicals" - "MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay - A U.N. meeting in Uruguay next week will review a convention banning a "dirty dozen" industrial chemicals. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are among the most dangerous of all man-made products or wastes, causing deaths, diseases and birth defects among humans and animals. The Stockholm Convention, which entered into force in May 2004, aims to ban or strictly control production, import, export, disposal and use of POPs. U.N. experts will meet in Punta del Este, Uruguay, from May 2 to 6 for a first review." (Reuters)

"UN Meet to Seek Safer Ways to Kill Insect Pests" - "OSLO - A UN meeting next week will seek new ways to kill mosquitoes and termites as part of a plan to bolster a 2004 ban on use of a "dirty dozen" toxic chemicals. Some pesticides on the blacklist of 12 industrial toxins are still in use to keep humanity's worst insect foes at bay even though they have been blamed for deaths, cancers or birth defects in humans and animals." (Reuters)

"Childhood obesity study alarms doctors" - "The scale of the obesity epidemic among young children was revealed yesterday in official figures which showed that more than a quarter of two- to 10-year-olds in England are overweight and one in seven is obese." (London Guardian)

Let's face it, pachydermal proportions best suit pachyderms. On the other hand, the obesity issue is in severe danger of being "enhanced greenhoused," if I might coin a term. The formula for body mass is unchanged: energy intake / (maintenance + exercise). If the result equals 1 then you have a balanced intake and output, your mass will not change; greater than 1 you'll put on the pounds; less than 1 and you'll lose them. There is no great mystery here, no new contagion, syndrome, disability, epidemic or crisis - just signs of relative affluence and abundance. Yet this most ordinary and mundane circumstance is being subjected to the same hysterical activist-driven media as the hypothetical enhanced greenhouse effect with the result that politicians and bureaucracies are responding to the shrill cries of crisis where no emergency exists. If people want to stuff themselves and their kids so they look like corpulent toads then that really is their business - same as having to buy two seats on an airplane is their problem, or they'll just have to walk, no?

"Blubber about obesity" - "When did the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention become more of a political than scientific agency? A good reference point could be when the CDC began creating "epidemics" like obesity that could only be "cured" with vast government resources. Last year the CDC captured headlines with a study that claimed 400,000 Americans die each year from obesity-related diseases, and CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding equated obesity with the Black Plague. Now, however, a new study conducted by researchers from the CDC and the National Institutes of Health places the estimated deaths at 26,000 -- one-fifteenth the earlier estimate." (The Washington Times)

"Europeans Say Ignorant About GMO Foods, Crops - Poll" - "BRUSSELS - Four out of 10 Europeans feel ignorant about genetically modified (GMO) crops and foods and a quarter of them are worried that gene-altered products used in farming will affect the environment, a poll showed on Friday." (Reuters)

"Biotech rice company moves again" - "A tiny Sacramento biotech firm that aims to revolutionize the production of medicine by growing it in rice said Friday it will end its quest to grow the crop in Missouri and instead plant a 5-acre experiment in North Carolina." (Sacramento Bee)