Archives - May 2009

May 29, 2009

Weighing the risks of vaccinating children for whooping cough

Loving parents have a hard job. They want to protect their children from harm and make the best healthcare decisions for them, but with all of the health information and misinformation swirling around, it can seem impossible to know what to believe. One question for some parents is whether childhood immunizations are necessary anymore. With fewer children dying of childhood illnesses today, it can seem like the diseases are no longer serious and that the vaccines might be putting their children at needless risk.

Researchers, led by Dr. Jason Glanz, Ph.D., a senior scientist at Kaiser Permanente's Institute for Health Research, wanted to get parents the most accurate information possible on immunizations in order to help them make the best decisions for their children. They conducted a study, just published in the June issue of Pediatrics, looking at every case of pertussis infection identified in children in the Kaiser Permanente of Colorado health plan over more than a decade, between 1996 and 2007. They randomly matched each case to four controls and looked at the children’s vaccination records. The differences were striking. Only 0.5% of the healthy children had not been vaccinated, compared to 12% of the children who had gotten sick with pertussis.

That means, unvaccinated children are associated with a nearly 23-fold higher risk of getting the disease compared to vaccinated children. [Now this is a tenable correlation and real relative risk.] Deciding not to vaccinate children does not keep them safer from childhood diseases, but puts them at considerably greater risk. (Junkfood Science)


Sotomayor's Gun Control Positions Could Prompt Conservative Backlash

Earlier this year, President Obama's Supreme Court nominee joined an opinion with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that Second Amendment rights do not apply to the states. (


Bredesen will veto guns-in-bars bill; sponsor sees override

NASHVILLE - Gov. Phil Bredesen says he will veto a bill allowing patrons to carry weapons into Tennessee restaurants and bars.

The bill was to become law June 1. More than 30 states already allow people to carry guns into restaurants that serve alcohol. There are about 218,000 handgun permit holders in Tennessee. The bill would have allowed permit-holders to take guns into bars as long as they didn't drink. (Knoxville News Sentinel)


New pregnancy guidelines bad news for obese women

WASHINGTON - Obese women can safely gain just a small amount of weight when pregnant, but doctors need to do more to help women stay slim before they get pregnant, U.S. policy advisers said on Thursday.

Women who are obese should gain about 11 to 20 pounds (5 to 9 kg) while pregnant, the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council panel said in new guidelines.

"It had become clear that heavier women could gain less weight and still deliver an infant of good size," the report said.

With two-thirds of the population overweight or obese, the panel said, it is clear that new pregnancy guidelines must be geared toward heavier women. (Reuters)


Updated guidelines for pregnancy and weight gain are largely unchanged

The long-awaited revision of the 1990 recommendations puts a cap on the amount an obese mother should gain and places more emphasis on exercise. Some doctors wanted to see a lot more. (LA Times)


Obama says health care a must this year - or never

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama warned Thursday that if Congress doesn't deliver health care legislation by the end of the year the opportunity will be lost, a plea to political supporters to pressure lawmakers to act.

"If we don't get it done this year, we're not going to get it done," Obama told supporters by phone as he flew home on Air Force One from a West Coast fundraising trip. (AP)

Go with "Never" -- socialized medicine is a complete disaster.


A Bottle Bill That Will Rot Your Teeth

THIRTY-EIGHT years ago, Oregon passed America’s first bottle deposit law, leading the way for states like New York and Connecticut to enact their own bills to reduce litter from single-serving containers. Those first laws, aimed at soft drinks and beer, then the most prevalent canned and bottled beverages, succeeded spectacularly, generating redemption rates reaching 70 percent.

But today the average person disposes of nearly 300 pounds of other kinds of packaging every year, and we need to expand and update New York’s bottle deposit law to cover beverages like bottled water, tea and energy drinks. At the same time, we need to make sure that the law supports rather than competes with curbside recycling. (Robert F Kennedy Jr., New York Times)

Try: "none of the above". Curbside recycling is a waste of time, effort, energy and money. Why would anyone want yet more cost and bureaucracy when waste should simply be incinerated for energy and metals recovery?


EU reconsiders green laws to shore up industry

Sectors affected by the ongoing recession – including cars and the chemical industry – will be offered specific treatment under a revised industrial policy to be agreed by EU ministers today (28 May).

EU ministers responsible for industry, trade and research are due to agree a new approach to industrial policy that takes greater care of key sectors such as the chemicals and automotive industries as Europe battles through its worst economic recession since the 1930s.

Germany in particular reckons that all additional environmental legislation should be put on ice until economic conditions return to normal, according to one senior diplomatic source.

The REACH regulation on chemicals and the extension of carbon dioxide emission limits to light duty vehicles in the automotive sector were both cited as areas where industry will be offered special treatment.

The aim is to soften the impact of Europe's strict environmental rules as industries fight their way through the economic recession. (EurActiv)


EPA Green Lights First Antimicrobial Pesticide Against Anthrax

(Washington, DC - May 28, 2009) The Environmental Protection Agency has approved the first registration, or license, of an antimicrobial pesticide product to deactivate anthrax spores on hard surfaces. “Peridox with the Electrostatic Decontamination System” can decontaminate buildings, structures, vehicles, ships, aircraft, personal protective equipment, and other items infected with anthrax spores. Its use is limited to dry, precleaned, hard, nonporous surfaces. (Press Release)


Everglades Swamped With Invading Pythons

THE EVERGLADES - The population of Burmese pythons in Florida's Everglades may have grown to as many as 150,000 as the non-native snakes make a home and breed in the fragile wetlands, officials said Thursday.

Wildlife biologists say the troublesome invaders -- dumped in the Everglades by pet owners who no longer want them -- have become a pest and pose a significant threat to endangered species like the wood stork and Key Largo woodrat. (Reuters)


Slow U.S. Planting Could Tighten Corn Stocks Forecast

CHICAGO - Planting delays in key areas of the U.S. Corn Belt this spring could lead to tight supplies of corn during the next year, forcing prices higher and further threatening profit margins at ethanol plants and livestock companies.

The slow pace of corn planting east of the Mississippi River, including major production states such as Illinois and Indiana, could cut ending stocks by as much as 35 percent, according to Joe Victor, analyst for Illinois-based research company Allendale Inc.

"Our biggest concern right now is we do believe that USDA will have no choice (but) to reduce yield for the entire Midwest, reduce the planted acres (and) send stocks under 1 billion bushels," Victor said. "Worst case scenario, maybe we get end stocks ... more close to 750 to 800 million bushels." (Reuters)


These fools do far more harm than good: Climate change to claim 600,000 lives a year

CLIMATE change kills about 315,000 people a year through hunger, sickness and weather disasters, and the annual death toll is expected to rise to half a million by 2030.

A study commissioned by the Geneva-based Global Humanitarian Forum, estimates that climate change seriously affects 325 million people every year, a number that will more than double in 20 years to 10 per cent of the world's population (now about 6.7 billion).

Economic losses due to global warming amount to over $125 billion ($160 billion) annually - more than the flow of aid from rich to poor nations - and are expected to rise to $340 billion ($345 billion) each year by 2030, according to the report.

"Climate change is the greatest emerging humanitarian challenge of our time, causing suffering to hundreds of millions of people worldwide," Kofi Annan, former UN secretary-general and GHF president, said. (Reuters)

Why do they insist on misdirecting effort like this? What do they have against already suffering people?


This stupidity again: Refugees Join List of Climate-Change Issues

UNITED NATIONS — With their boundless vistas of turquoise water framed by swaying coconut palms, the Carteret Islands northeast of the Papua New Guinea mainland might seem the idyllic spot to be a castaway.

But sea levels have risen so much that during the annual king tide season, November to March, the roiling ocean blocks the view from one island to the next, and residents stash their possessions in fishing nets strung between the palm trees.

“It gives you the scary feeling that you don’t know what is going to happen to you, that any minute you will be floating,” Ursula Rakova, the head of a program to relocate residents, said by telephone. The chain could well be uninhabitable by 2015, locals believe, but two previous attempts to abandon it ended badly, when residents were chased back after clashing with their new neighbors on larger islands.

This dark situation underlies the thorny debate over the world’s responsibilities to the millions of people likely to be displaced by climate change. (New York Times)

Their problem is tectonic plate movement, not temperature.


The Prince of Wails, again: Prince Charles says world in 'last chance saloon' to stop climate change

The Prince of Wales has warned the world is in the "last chance saloon" in its attempts to prevent catastrophic climate change, with most people failing to appreciate the urgency.

Prince Charles, a long-term environmentalist, said that while global warming is set to cause "the extinction of millions of species and organisms", the majority of people are not willing to take action to prevent temperatures rising. (Daily Telegraph)

Oh Char-lie. Charlie? What critters depend on a specific global mean temperature? Can't think of any? Neither can we. In fact we don't believe there's a single one so dependent.

Fact is we don't believe the metric has the slightest value to any but those attempting to profit from the statistic (either financially or ideologically).

Since no one actually lives at "globally averaged" the hypothetical temperature there is completely meaningless.


White Roofs and Global Warming: A More Realistic Perspective

There has been quite a lot of buzz in the last day or so about Energy Secretary Steven Chu claiming that making the roofs of buildings white (and brightening paved surfaces such as roads and parking lots) would “offset” a large part of the warming effect of humanity’s carbon dioxide emissions. The basis for this idea – which is not new — is that brighter surfaces reflect more of the sunlight reaching the Earth’s surface back to outer space. I found a presentation of the study he is basing his comments on by Hashem Akbari of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab here. A less technical summary of those results fit for public consumption is here. (Roy W. Spencer)


Vitriolic climate in academic hothouse

IT is well known that many university staff list to port and try to engineer a brave new world. The cash cow climate institutes now seem to be drowning in their own self-importance.

In a wonderful gesture of public spiritedness, seven academics who include three lead authors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and a former director of the World Climate Research Program wrote to Australian power generating companies on April 29 instructing them to cease and desist creating electricity from coal.

In their final paragraph, they state with breathtaking arrogance: "The unfortunate reality is that genuine action on climate change will require the existing coal-fired power stations to cease operating in the near future.

"We feel it is vital that you understand this and we are happy to work with you and with governments to begin planning for this transition immediately.

"The warming of the atmosphere, driven by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases, is already causing unacceptable damage and suffering around the world."

No evidence is provided for this statement and no signatory to this letter has published anything to support this claim. (Ian Plimer, The Australian)


Hope, but No Advances, in China-U.S. Climate Talks

BEIJING — Five days of talks aimed at bringing China and the United States closer together on the issue of climate change did not yield substantial progress, according to a Congressional delegation that met with environmental officials and the country’s top leaders this week.

During a news conference on Thursday night, Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of House, said she was “hopeful” after meeting with a number of officials, including President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

But Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican who took part, said he was discouraged by the Chinese refusal to commit to greater cuts in greenhouse gases while insisting that developed nations do more to reduce their emissions.

“It’s business as usual for China,” said Mr. Sensenbrenner, the ranking Republican on the House Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming. “The message that I received was that China was going to do it their way regardless of what the rest of the world negotiates in Copenhagen.” (New York Times)


China pans US over climate demands

A LEADING Chinese strategist on climate change has declared "there will be a deal at Copenhagen" to replace the Kyoto Protocol, but he has belittled the carbon-reduction proposals of the Obama Administration and the Rudd Government as inadequate. (Sydney Morning Herald)


Scientist: 'There is no possible global warming threat for at least next 193 years' -- Predicts possible COOLING

Below is a reprint of a submission by Professional Geophysicist Norm Kalmanovitch of Canada to CCNet's Benny Peiser. (Marc Morano, Climate Depot)


The New MIT Climate Study: A Real World Inversion?

Considering that climate models are predicting global temperatures to be rising at a rate far greater than they actually are, you would think that the model developers would be taking a long, hard look at their models to try to figure out why they are on the verge of failing.

In fact, I would expect to soon start to see papers in the scientific literature from various modeling groups attempting to explain why their models have gone awry and to provide an accompanying downward revision of their projections of 21st century temperature change. After all, how long a period of no warming can be tolerated before the forecasts of the total warming by century’s end have to be lowered? We’re already into our ninth year of the 100 year forecast period and we have no global warming to speak of (Figure 1). (Chip Knappenberger, MasterResource)


Purists Who Demand that Facts be “Correct”

Over at Seed Magazine in a collection of views on “framing,” Penn State climatologist Michael Mann explains why it was necessary to misrepresent what the IPCC does on the cover of his co-authored book titled “Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming”:

Often, in our communication efforts, scientists are confronted with critical issues of language and framing. A case in point is a book I recently co-authored with Penn State colleague Lee Kump, called Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming. The purists among my colleagues would rightly point out that the potential future climate changes we describe, are, technically speaking, projections rather than predictions because the climate models are driven by hypothetical pathways of future fossil fuel burning (i.e. conceivable but not predicted futures). But Dire Projections doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. And it doesn’t convey - in the common vernacular - what the models indicate: Climate change could pose a very real threat to society and the environment. In this case, use of the more technically “correct” term is actually less likely to convey the key implications to a lay audience.

As one of those “purists” who would like to receive information that is technically “correct” I probably can judge that book by its cover.

In contrast, in another commentary on framing at Seed, ASU science policy expert Clark Miller suggests an alternative, richer view of framing:

Two competing models of framing exist. The first views framing as a tactical choice in communication. Spinning information to comport with culturally embedded narratives purportedly raises its credibility with target audiences. This model presumes an ignorant and uninformed public, with all the dangers that implies for democracy. I reject this model.

The second model views framing, instead, as how humans make sense of and give meaning to events in the world — the lens through which they interpret disparate observations, models, data, and evidence in light of their values. This model posits framing as an ineradicable element of reasoning, even in science, and a facility for rich, nuanced storytelling as a foundation for human community.

Both models recognize that humans structure their understanding of policy through narrative and story. Rather than exploiting this structure for political gain, however, the second model acknowledges that any specific policy frame is, at best, partial and incomplete. Any frame reflects only one way of looking at a policy problem, leaving out potentially critical pieces of knowledge and significance. (Roger Pielke, Jr., Prometheus)


Skeptical French Scientist Rebukes Climate Critics: 'We are not in the Soviet Union, we can contest a scientific thesis' - Reversed View of Warming To Become Skeptic - Ridiculed Gore's Film as 'Nonsense'

Washington, DC: Controversy continues to swirl around French President Nicolas Sarkozy's possible appointment of renowned geophysicist and former socialist party leader Dr. Claude Allegre – France's most outspoken global warming skeptic -- as the new super-ministry of industry and innovation.

Just one day after news reports revealed Sarkozy is close to appointing Allegre to a high government post, Allegre has fired back at critics upset that he has embraced a skeptical view of man-made global warming fears.

"We are not in the Soviet Union, we can contest a scientific thesis," Allegre retorted, according to a May 28, 2009 article in Nature's blog. (See: Claude Allegre back in French government? - May 28, 2009) (Marc Morano, Climate Depot)


Norway Bets On CO2 Capture, Storage Despite Risks

SLEIPNER PLATFORM, North Sea - Norway sees carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a leading weapon to combat climate change and says the Sleipner field where it has buried carbon for 13 years demonstrates the technology is safe.

Green groups are skeptical about storing millions of tons of carbon dioxide underground without risking leaks, even though the United Nations believes a fourth of the cuts in emissions needed to keep climate change under control can come from CCS. (Reuters)


Carbon feeds the whole world, Stupid!

Robert D. Brinsmead is a Horticulturist who has written an essay defending carbon and it's role in our lives on earth. We are a carbon based species. We consume carbon and we emit carbon. Without sufficient carbon in our diets we will all die. Yet our government wants to ban carbon (CO2) as a pollutant dangerous to our health. (Russ Steele, NC Media Watch)


Certainly audacious: Gore’s green groups kick into campaign mode to push climate legislation

Al Gore is drawing lessons from the Obama campaign as he works to rally support for the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill.

While the environmental movement will never have the cash of ExxonMobil and its fossil-fuel friends, it does have legions of grassroots supporters. Gore’s two groups—the Alliance for Climate Protection and The Climate Project—are putting thousands of “boots on the ground” in key congressional districts around the country to help build momentum for climate legislation.

“In order to win this struggle, we have to go to the constituents of the Congress,” Gore told Grist recently. “Just laying the facts on the table and playing an inside-the-Beltway game is not going to do it on this issue. We have to win the feelings and opinions of voters in the country as a whole ... We have to go to the grassroots.”

Gore founded the Alliance for Climate Protection and The Climate Project in 2006 with money he earned from An Inconvenient Truth and other ventures. He’s built them into “multi-hundred-million-dollar” organizations “aimed at getting the facts before the people,” he told Grist. Up to this point, their work has been largely separate: The Climate Project has trained 2,600 people to present versions of Gore’s famous slideshow, while the Alliance has run major advertising campaigns to convince Americans of the need to address the climate crisis.

But now the two groups are coordinating closely as they enter a new campaign-style phase with a focused mission: passing a solid climate bill.

The plan, according to Alliance CEO Maggie Fox, is to organize “the biggest mobilization that the climate movement has ever seen.” (Kate Sheppard, Grist)

I just love the inference: "the environmental movement will never have the cash of ExxonMobil and its fossil-fuel friends". Technically true but the enviros are outspending everybody by a huge margin when it comes to climate propaganda (is there any funding for climate realists?). Enviros do it, governments run climate propaganda campaigns and misdirect fortunes in research grants and who speaks against them? A few mainly self-funded voices are raised but I don't know of any organized resistance.


Hmm... Swiss Re Cuts Presence in Emissions-Trading Space

Swiss Re will no longer write coverage for the emissions trading market that targets climate change, a segment in which the global reinsurer had served as an early and key innovator. (Al Slavin, Best's Review)


Scientists proclaim climate change is natural

As the Rudd government geared up its push for a CO2 cap-and-trade emissions trading scheme (ETS), which would annihilate what’s left of Australia’s collapsing physical economy, a public symposium last Sunday heard evidence from several leading Australian scientists that climate change is a natural phenomenon.

The symposium, ignored by the lying mainstream media, was held at Monash University and convened by Emeritus Professor Lance Endersbee. Several scientists identified hard evidence that severe cooling is the biggest climate challenge that we face—and its cause is entirely natural.

Professor Lance Endersbee, former Pro-Vice Chancellor of Monash University, clearly pointed out that for thousands of years human civilisation has endured natural climate variation much greater than any climate change in the last century. When warm climate prevailed civilisation flourished such as in Ancient Greece, whereas cold climate led to crop failure and mass migration of people escaping the bitter cold, for example during the Dark Ages.

David Archibald, an expert in solar cycles identified the actual climate problem we face: “You haven’t seen any sign of the end of Solar Cycle 23 yet and the cooling over Solar Cycle 24 as a consequence may be as much as 2.8 degrees centigrade. We are due for a de Vries cycle cooling event every two hundred and ten years, and actually even a Bond event because the last one of those was in the Dark Ages. And severe cooling over the next twenty years is now a certainty.”

William Kininmonth, former head of the Bureau of Meteorology’s National Climate Centre pointed out that even if atmospheric carbon dioxide were to hypothetically double [an impossibility with forecast emissions and natural cooling—ed.], this would only provide 0.6 degrees centigrade of a warming effect—a small value when compared to the several degrees of historical natural climate change. (Press Release)


Tories punt climate change enforcement up to six years down the road

OTTAWA - Canadian rules limiting industrial greenhouse gas emissions won't even be developed until next year and will not take legal effect for up to six years, to match a proposed U.S. timetable, Environment Minister Jim Prentice said Thursday.

It's a far cry from the Conservative government's former "Made in Canada" climate change plan that was supposed to come into force just over six months from now.

And it further calls into question Prime Minister Stephen Harper's stated target for reducing Canada's greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent from 2006 levels by 2020. (CP)


New Solar Cycle Prediction: Fewer Sunspots, But Not Necessarily Less Activity

An international panel of experts has released a new prediction for the next solar cycle, stating that Solar Cycle 24 will peak in May 2013 with a below-average number of sunspots. Led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and sponsored by NASA, the panel includes a dozen members from nine different government and academic institutions. Their forecast sets the stage for at least another year of mostly quiet conditions before solar activity resumes in earnest. (


Use Of 500 Mb Anomaly Plots As A Diagnostic To Assess Tropospheric Temperature Anomalies In Real Time

In the assessment of weather predictions, I routinely access the excellent website RAP Real-Time Weather Data. There is one product on this site that is quite informative with respect to tropospheric temperature anomalies on multi-decadal time scale, and it is their “500 mb Z-Anomaly” plots on their GFS model plots. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)


Took 'em long enough... Big Oil Bites Back

After an all-out war on oil companies from the left in recent years, it bodes well for the future to see Big Oil now recognizing the attack it's under and its duty to fight back. Witness Chevron and Exxon Mobil.

Shareholder meetings can be pro forma affairs, but not for major oil companies, which have become a lightning rod for the anti-corporate sentiment gaining traction in U.S. political life since around 2006.

Wednesday, Chevron was descended upon by a zoo-full of San Francisco leftists pushing rain forest sentimentalism, Burma, and other pet causes dear to the no-soap crowd. They journeyed all the way to San Ramon, Calif. to shout "Shame on you!" and "No blood for oil" and worse yet to make demands on the company.

Among them, a vociferous crew calling on Chevron to settle quickly with an Ecuadorean activist group with a guerrilla-like name: El Frente de Defensa de la Amazonia.

El Frente has a $27 billion pollution lawsuit against Chevron. Its case is worthless. Chevron hasn't operated in Ecuador since 1992 and got a clean bill of health from Ecuador in 1998. Any pollution now is a product of Ecuador's mismanaged state oil company.

But that hasn't stopped the formidable publicity machine that's roped in the gullible media covering this case. The new demand, echoed in the press, is for Chevron to "settle" with El Frente.

Meanwhile, over at Exxon Mobil, the issue is why the company can't go "green." Another throng of activists tried to coax the company into scrapping its global leadership in oil production and instead to turn itself into genteel green farmers, tending corn and sugar and switchgrass in the name of biofuels.

But in both cases, something happened this time at the corporate meetings: The companies sharply rebuked these nonbusiness interests. It was a dramatic shift from the polite courtesies and kowtowings they've extended to these radicals in the past.

This time, they actually stood up for themselves and what they do.

Chevron's CEO bluntly told the radicals from "True Cost Of Chevron" that their waved-around propaganda "report" on the oil giant is so shoddy and false it actually "deserves the trash can."

Exxon Mobil's Chairman and CEO informed other radicals that oil and gas will continue to be dominant fuels, meeting some two-thirds of global energy needs until at least 2030. As such, it makes no sense whatever for Exxon to go into some other industry.

Better still, the shareholders of these companies smacked down every resolution designed to make the crazies feel good and the value of the companies go down. Maybe that's because these moves look like shakedowns in search of a payday.

Chevron's being sued by a registered nongovernment organization (NGO) in Ecuador, so its financing is a black box. Its lawsuit is reportedly paid for by trial lawyers in Philadelphia, a group not exactly known for respecting shareholder value. But who knows?

Exxon is beset by several groups that at least one shareholder thinks are tied to unions and activists:

"Resolutions to do things like . . . pursue renewables are really just attempts by environmentalists and unions to gain control of the company to advance various public-policy goals," Steven Milloy, managing partner at Action Fund Management, told Bloomberg News. "At the top of that list is climate change." Milloy should know: He's also publisher of the popular Web site.

The real aim of all these attacks is to end these companies' world leadership in oil extraction. The green groups want to put an end to what the oil companies do best, from finding oil in the world's most hostile climates like the Arctic Sea, to extracting oil from abandoned wells, to drilling oil 12 miles through salt walls under the sea.

The ultimate goal is less oil to power American industry and to maintain the quality of private life.

It looks like a new era is upon us. The push-back to defend our way of life has begun. (IBD)

EPA chief: US should take lead on clean energy

PARIS — The top U.S. environment official says it's time for the United States to shed its energy-wasting image and lead the world race for cleaner power sources instead.

After several years with a relatively low profile under President George W. Bush, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency "is back on the job," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told The Associated Press on Thursday during a trip to Paris.

What the EPA does domestically this year will be watched closely overseas. Nations worldwide are working toward a major meeting in Copenhagen in December aimed at producing a new global climate pact. The U.S. position on curbing its own pollution and helping poor countries adapt to global warming is seen as key to any new pact. (AP)


Forest carbon offers cheaper way to curb warming

WASHINGTON - Counting the climate-warming carbon dioxide locked up in forests could offer a cheaper way to curb the greenhouse gas than by considering only emissions from industry and fossil fuels, according to a new study.

Factories, power plants and petroleum-powered vehicles are likely to emit some 500 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere this century, according to the study released on Thursday in the journal Science.

By contrast, the world's forests hold some 2 trillion tons of carbon. As long as the forests stand, that huge amount of greenhouse gas stays out of the atmosphere, but if some of these woodlands are cleared for farming -- including biofuel crops like ethanol -- they start releasing carbon into the air, where it can add to the problem of climate change.

So even "green" fuels can have a carbon cost, said study co-author James Edmonds, an economist at the Energy Department's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Joint Global Change Research Institute in Maryland. (Reuters)


May 28, 2009

As Flu Retreats, Scientists Brace for Its Return - The H1N1 Virus, Strains of Which Have Circulated for Decades, Could Come Back in a More Virulent Form

Over the next several months, the new H1N1 flu virus is likely to continue to spread around the world, reaching into the southern hemisphere along with winter, then possibly staging a resurgence in the northern hemisphere come fall.

Hundreds of thousands of people could fall sick, and some will die. Public health officials will scramble to minimize the damage, as governments and drug makers continue to invest millions of dollars in a potential vaccine.

Yet the public, after an initial spasm of fear and concern, has turned its attention away from a strain that seems less serious than first advertised. The complacency is increasing the challenge for health officials who are trying to track and limit the spread of a disease that can still make people seriously ill even if it isn't deadly for most. (WSJ)


‘Underlying Conditions’ May Add to Flu Worries

In announcing this week that swine flu had been implicated in the deaths of two more New Yorkers, the city’s health commissioner, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, added a by-now familiar caveat: Both of them, he said, had “underlying conditions.”

He went on to enumerate a list of conditions that could aggravate the effects of swine flu and that characterize a large portion of New York’s population: diabetes, asthma, heart disease, lung disease, a weakened immune system and, possibly, obesity.

He did not even mention three other risk factors that alone apply to more than 1.2 million New Yorkers and 50 million Americans: pregnancy, being younger than 2, or being older than 65. (New York Times)


More human-to-pig flu transmission seen likely

PARIS - More cases of humans transmitting the swine flu story">H1N1 flu strain to pigs are likely to occur, but will not be a major concern as swine are not severely affected by the virus, the World Organization for Animal Health said Wednesday. (Reuters)


No new steps needed to protect pigs from swine flu

PARIS — The world animal health body says no extra measures are necessary to protect pig populations from swine flu because the virus tends to be mild in hogs.

Director General Bernard Vallat of the OIE World Organization for Animal Health says he expects to see more cases of human-to-pig contamination of the virus, like the recent case of a farm worker in Canada who passed swine flu to a herd of hogs.

Still, Vallat says that because the virus does not tend to prove deadly in pigs it does not make sense to recommend costly preventive measures. He spoke Wednesday at the general assembly of the OIE. (Associated Press)


Asia facing 'diabetes explosion'

New research suggests diabetes is becoming a global problem, with more than 60% of all cases likely to occur in Asia.

A study in the Journal of the American Medicine Association shows those hit in Asia are younger and less likely to be overweight than those in the West.

The study says numbers worldwide could grow by a third by 2025, with low and middle income countries worst hit.

The disease is expensive to treat and could hit Asian economies hard.

The study said trends of diabetes in Asia are influenced by everything from genetic and cultural differences, to smoking and rates of urbanisation.

While in the West, type-2 diabetes is often seen as a consequence of diet, age and obesity, researchers say those affected in Asia are relatively young and less likely to be struggling with weight gain. (BBC News)


'Obese bias' concern for patients

Patients who are obese may avoid seeking life-saving treatment as they fear being judged about their weight by medical staff, an expert has said.

Dr Pat Croskerry said some people avoid or delay treatments such as routine cervical screening examinations for fear of being judged about their size.

The professor said some who seek help do not always get treated because of "obesity bias" from clinicians. (BBC News)


EPA Strengthens Safety Measures for Soil Fumigant Pesticides

The Environmental Protection Agency is strengthening safety measures for soil fumigant pesticides. The safety measures will reduce fumigant exposures to bystanders—people who live, work, attend school, or spend time near agricultural fields that are fumigated—and increase overall safety of fumigant use by requiring greater planning and compliance.

“With new restrictions, we’re allowing the continued use of fumigant pesticides without risking human health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Full transparency and the best science shaped a plan to protect the economic interests of agricultural communities and the public health of farm workers and consumers.” (EPA)


The anti-chemical ratbags never let up: California farmland fumigants challenged

Grass-roots public health groups have opened a new front in their five-year battle against California over rules to curb smog caused by the use of fumigants on farmland.

In a lawsuit filed last week in Sacramento County Superior Court, groups from the Ventura and San Joaquin Air Basins charged that in adopting new regulations last month, the state failed to analyze reasonable alternatives or to minimize the impact of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from treating strawberries and other crops.

"Pesticides rank among the largest contributors to California's notoriously smoggy air," said Brent Newell, legal director of the San Francisco-based Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment. The center, which is funded by the California Endowment and various foundations, brought the suit on behalf of the Ventura-based Community and Children's Advocates Against Pesticide Use and three Central Valley groups, El Comite Para el Bienestar de Earlimart, Committee for a Better Arvin and the Assn. of Irritated Residents. (LA Times)


California toxic waste regulators target automobile recycling 'fluff'

The leftovers from car shredders have been used to cover trash at landfills, but state officials now say the practice has health risks and should be stopped. Industry officials say fluff is safe.

Reporting from Sacramento -- At a recycling plant in San Pedro and five other similar operations around California, giant shredding machines annually reduce 1.3 million junk cars, refrigerators and other appliances into fist-sized chunks of metal.

Valuable scrap that contains iron is separated so it can be turned back into steel. Hunks of aluminum, copper and other alloys are pulled out for reprocessing.

But the leftovers -- bits of glass, fiber, rubber, engine fluids, dirt and plastics -- are getting new attention from state toxic substance regulators, and the $500-million-a-year shredding industry is fighting back. (LA Times)


Pregnant Women Have No Right to Their Jobs

Sales consultant Holly Waters says she was a top performer for the drug maker Novartis. But when she was about go on maternity leave, she was fired.

"I was seven-and-a-half months pregnant. There was no way I was going to be able to go out and find a job at this point," she told me for my ABC special "You Can't Even Talk About It."

Waters knew the law is on her side. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act makes it illegal to fire, or not hire, a woman because she is pregnant. The law even restricts workplace speech. Employers are warned that in a job interview they must never ask questions like, "Might you start a family?"

If Congress thought the law would end claims of workplace discrimination, it was wrong, as usual. Companies are increasingly being sued. Even a maternity-clothing chain was sued.

Waters's lawyer, David Sanford, filed a class-action lawsuit against Novartis. "If you get pregnant, you're in trouble at Novartis," he told me.

Novartis denies wrongdoing and points out that Working Mother magazine named it one of America's 100 best companies for women.

Sanford claims that his $200-million lawsuit will teach Novartis and other companies not to discriminate.

But Carrie Lukas says such lawsuits do more harm than good. Lukas is also a working mom, vice president of the Independent Women's Forum.

"If my employer decides they no longer want me as an employee, then it should be their right to fire me." she told me. "I understand the desire for people to have government step in and try to protect women, but there's real costs to government intervention." (John Stossel, Townhall)


Economic Reality of 5 Million Green Jobs

In 1845, the French economist Frederic Bastiat published a satirical petition from the "Manufacturers of Candles" to the French Chamber of Deputies, which ridiculed the arguments made on behalf of inefficient industries to protect them from more efficient producers: (Tony Blankley, Townhall)


<chuckle> The Politics of Bait-and-Switch

After little more than 100 days in office, the Democrats, under the leadership of Barack Obama, have unleashed a slew of anti-environmental policies that would have enraged any reasonable conservationist during the Bush years. (Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank, Counterpunch)


Key reason to reject Sotomayor: Enviro groups like what they see in Obama's justice pick

Even though environmental issues have not been a major cog in Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's legal career, environmentalists have joined the chorus of left-leaning advocacy groups that have thrown their support behind President Obama's pick for the high court.

"Judge Sotomayor is well-qualified in light of her personal, academic, legal and judicial experience," said Glenn Sugameli, senior legislative counsel and head of Earthjustice's judicial nominations project. "Her knowledge, understanding and service as a federal trial and appellate court judge provide invaluable perspectives for deciding environmental protection and related issues."

Environmentalists primarily are pointing to a single 2007 decision by Sotomayor -- on U.S. EPA's use of cost-benefit analysis in the regulation of pollutants -- as a signal that the potential future justice may side with them on a number of issues. (Greenwire)


You might be an environmentalist if ...

Who are environmentalists? Demographically, they are urban middle to upper-class white, college-educated, secular and seemingly well-intentioned people with lots of time on their hands. Environmentalists have a romantic fixation on simplicity and passivity as rules for living in a complex and energetic world. Ironically, simplicity and passivity make life poorer, not greener. (Paul Taylor, LA Ecopolitics Examiner)


Newspapers Bristle at Thought of Liberalism Being Mocked in 'The Goode Family'

ABC’s new series "The Goode Family" poking fun at liberalism and political correctness has predictably been greeted with disdain by the establishment media.

The running theme in reviews of the series is that it is unoriginal, flat, and not funny. Not that the folks at the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle are able to laugh at themselves, anyway… (Mitchell Blatt, Newsbusters)


EuWGh's at it again: Seizing a Watershed Moment; USDA's Farm Conservation Program a Promising But Unfocused Remedy for Water Pollution and the Gulf 'Dead Zone'

WASHINGTON, May 27 -- Agriculture is a leading source of water pollution in the 10 states that border the Mississippi River. Agriculture is also the leading source of pollution causing the "Dead Zone" at the mouth of the Mississippi in the Gulf of Mexico. A new report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) finds that enrolling farmers into the voluntary federal Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is unlikely to result in cleaner water unless taxpayer funds are targeted to the highest priority locations and used in watershed-scale clean-up projects. (AScribe Newswire)


Brazil To Debut Rust-Resistant Soy

SAO PAULO - Brazil is set to begin commercial planting of a soybean variety with a gene that makes it resistant to the devastating Asian rust fungus, which is beginning to develop tolerance to conventional fungicides.

Local growers could markedly reduce production costs if the new variety, which was developed by the Fundacao MT in Brazil's No. 1 soybean state of Mato Grosso, proves effective.

The state and the whole center-west region, which puts out most of Brazil's soybeans, have climatic conditions that are often ideal for the spread of Asian rust.

"We have noticed in recent years that due to the successive sprayings of fungicide on the soy, some important, principal chemical compounds are losing their efficiency," said Dario Hiromoto, the director of Fundacao MT, a research foundation working on new varieties of soybeans and cotton. (Reuters)


A Sure-Fire Economy Killer

Some things virtually everyone agrees on. We all want a cleaner environment. We all want a booming economy.

Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a bill that’s being marketed as a way to give us a “better” environment. Unfortunately, the legislation, sponsored by Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman of California and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, would inflict tremendous economic pain for no discernable environmental gain. (Ed Feulner, Townhall)


Yet another idiot editorial: Forecast for climate change bill: cloudy - A buffeted measure passed a House committee last week, but faces more headwinds.

A climate change bill that escaped from a House committee last Thursday – and which Congress will confront again next month – has already seen some mighty wriggling from lawmakers forced to take a stand. Yet most realize that capping greenhouse-gas emissions is a subject they can no longer tiptoe around. (CSM)

The Christian Science Monitor needs to decide which religion it supports, at present it seems to be worshipping at the altar of the modern day church of gorebull warming.


U.S. climate change bill, radically bad law: John Kemp

The American Clean Energy and Security Act (HR 2454) that cleared its first hurdle last week when it was approved by the Energy and Commerce Committee of the House of Representatives is a radically bad piece of legislation.

But ironically the bill's many flaws are precisely what make it more likely to be approved.

Its arcane complexity and cartload of concessions to special interests is testament to the continuing and baleful influence of Washington lobbying firms. It typifies everything advocates of good government decry about the policy process.

In backroom negotiations, an unholy alliance of environmental groups, energy companies, Wall Street firms and regulators has been forged that will create a massive and arbitrary programme to reward favoured interests at the expense of the consumer and the taxpayer.

The result is a complex cap-and-trade system for reducing greenhouse gas emissions which legislators almost certainly do not understand and which will have unpredictable effects. Costs and benefits will be distributed unevenly to reward firms with the best connections and highest-paid lobbyists. (John Kemp, Reuters)


Oh. It's good for some business then: Climate conference sex boom

Copenhagen’s sex trade did brisk business during the recent business climate conference. (Politiken)


Sarkozy in climate row over reshuffle

President Nicolas Sarkozy's desire to appoint an outspoken climate-change sceptic to a new French super-ministry of industry and innovation has drawn strong protests from party colleagues and environmentalists.

Claude Allègre argues that global warming is not necessarily caused by human activity. Putting him in charge of scientific research would be tantamount to "giving the finger to scientists", said Nicolas Hulot, France's best-known environmental activist.

Mr Sarkozy wants to bring Mr Allègre, 72, a freethinking, former socialist education minister, into the government in a reshuffle after next month's European parliamentary elections. The president appears to reckon that appointing someone from outside his own centre-right party will help to counter perceptions that he is a polarising, sectarian leader who decides everything himself. Several portfolios are already held by figures from the left and centre.

Alain Juppé, the former centre-right prime minister, said the appointment would send a "terribly bad signal" ahead of international negotiations to secure a successor to the Kyoto treaty on cuts to carbon emissions.

One critic said that associating Mr Allègre with the government's ambitious environmental policy was like putting "organic farming alongside Chernobyl".

Mr Sarkozy is said to value Mr Allègre's experience, his plain speaking and his convictions on the need to free up the economy and shake up the public sector - particularly the university research establishment. (Financial Times)


Et Tu, Francois? Skeptical Scientist Who Mocked Gore's Nobel Prize as 'Political Gimmick' May Be Appointed to French Super-Ministry Post - Reversed View of Warming To Become Skeptic - Ridiculed Gore's Film as 'Nonsense'

Washington, DC: French President Nicolas Sarkozy's appears ready to appoint renowned geophysicist and former socialist party leader Dr. Claude Allegre – France's most outspoken global warming skeptic -- as the new super-ministry of industry and innovation. (Marc Morano, Climate Depot)


Climate Change "Morality" - Exposed Duplicitous Politics of Money, Power, Control. . . - The duplicitous politics of money, power, control and corporate rent-seeking

The climate "crisis" is a "moral issue that requires serious debate," Al Gore proclaimed in an April 27 blog post.

His conversion to the Anglo-American tradition of robust debate came a mere three days after the ex-VP refused to participate in a congressional hearing with Lord Christopher Monckton, former science advisor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Republicans had invited Monckton to counter Gore's testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

But Gore froze like a terrified deer in headlights, and Chairman Henry Waxman told the UK climate expert he was uninvited.

Their hypocritical cowardice simply reflects a recognition that their entire energy rationing crusade would collapse if they ever allowed real debate.

Monckton would have focused on the science. But it is morality that truly requires serious debate. Climate Armageddon claims are being used to justify malignant policies that have no rational basis. (Paul Driessen, Right Side News)


Commission faces revolt over 'carbon leakage' plans

European big business and environmental NGOs have disputed the data used by the European Commission to assess whether polluting industries are likely to suffer from foreign competition as a result of Europe's climate change legislation.

As part of the revision of the EU's emissions trading scheme (EU ETS), the Commission was required to compile a list of sectors and sub-sectors that are deemed to be at risk of carbon leakage, that is, relocation to third countries without any carbon constraints. These sectors will continue to receive their emissions allowances for free in the post-Kyoto Protocol period until 2020, up to a benchmark of the best-performing 10%. (EurActiv)


Germany set to cut industry power bills

Berlin is preparing to help domestic industries overcome the economic crisis by cutting the electricity bills of the country’s largest energy users.

Aluminium, copper and zinc producers are among energy-intensive industrial sectors that could benefit from the plans, which are set to be agreed ahead of elections in September.

Ministers have argued for months about how best to aid domestic industries and the chancellery has also intervened in the discussions, industry sources have told the Financial Times.

Any subsidies will be examined closely by competition authorities in Brussels and could prompt renewed criticism that Berlin is undermining European Union climate legislation. (Financial Times)


Eye-roller: U.N.'s Ban Says Climate Change Pace "Alarming"

HELSINKI - The impact of climate change is accelerating at an "alarming" pace and urgent action must be taken, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday.

"What is frightening is that the scientists are now reviewing their predictions, recognizing that climate change impact is accelerating at a much faster pace," Ban said, referring to the ongoing fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

"This is very serious and alarming. That is why I have been urging that if we take any action, we must take action now regardless of where you are coming from. Rich and poor countries, we must address this issue together," Ban told a seminar. (Reuters)


Whadda Charlie: Scientists urged to end hesitation

Hesitation in tackling climate change could have catastrophic consequences, the Prince of Wales has warned.

He told experts on global warming: "It seems to me that in many ways we already have some of the answers to hand.

"We know about energy efficiency, renewable energy, and how to reduce deforestation, to name but a few, but we seem strangely reluctant to apply them."

"I fear that this hesitation will have catastrophic consequences." (Press Association)


Ever more ridiculous: Climate concerns prompt lawsuit over lynx habitat

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is being sued by a coalition of environmental groups that says recent expansions to the Canada lynx's protected habitat are still insufficient to protect the endangered cat from climate change.

The suit is thought to be the first legal challenge of a habitat designation brought on the grounds of climate change. (Greenwire)


More calls for indoctrination: Climate change: Sir Harold Kroto calls for internet education

Fighting climate change will take more than a technological revolution, according to Professor Sir Harold Kroto. A new era of science education is also needed.

“There’s no point in looking for The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in the future. They’re already here, and climate change is only one of them,” Sir Harold told The Times. “There are two ways of solving the problem. One is scientific; the other is changing public attitudes.” (The Times)


German minister: Copenhagen climate summit heading for disaster

Paris - The much-anticipated UN Climate Change Conference scheduled to take place in December in the Danish capital Copenhagen is heading for disaster, German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Tuesday in Paris. "There is no movement," Gabriel complained just before the conclusion of a two-day preparatory meeting of ministers from 16 industrial nations in the French capital. "The expectations we all had... have not been fulfilled."

Gabriel said that participants at the Paris meeting did little more than repeat their old and well-known positions. (DPA)


Now the man in the White House says paint your house white

The solution to climate change could be as simple as a big bucket of whitewash, President Obama's energy guru claimed yesterday.

Steven Chu believes that painting the world's roofs, roads and pavements white would keep buildings cooler as temperatures rise and cut the need for air conditioning.

Dr Chu, the U.S. Secretary of Energy and a Nobel prize-winning scientist, said the low-tech solution would be as effective at reducing global warming as taking all the world's cars off the road for 11 years. (Fiona Macrae, Daily Mail)

So, black solar panels are really, really bad for the environment because they contribute to gorebull warming then, eh?


"So what?" of the day: World CO2 Up 39 Percent By 2030 Without New Policy: EIA

NEW YORK - Global emissions of the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide will jump more than 39 percent by 2030 without new policies and binding pacts to cut global warming pollution, the top U.S. energy forecast agency said on Wednesday.

Nearly 200 nations are set to meet late this year in Copenhagen to hash out a new agreement to control greenhouse gases as the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. (Reuters)


Wait! It's even worser: Tundra to become greenhouse gas source despite Arctic plant growth: report

Scientists say vast swaths of Arctic tundra could become massive sources of carbon dioxide despite increased plant growth spurred by warmer temperatures in the North.

"It's going to happen as a slow-motion time bomb," said Ted Schuur, an ecologist at the University of Florida, and the lead author of a paper that appeared Wednesday in the journal Nature. (Canadian Press)


Climate Deal Uncertainty Clouds Carbon Market: Survey

BARCELONA - Uncertainty that a global climate change deal can be reached at Copenhagen in December has dented confidence in the global greenhouse gas emissions market, a survey released on Wednesday showed.

The Greenhouse Gas Market Sentiment, published by the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) at a carbon conference in Barcelona, showed that over half of respondents expect a major climate pact to be postponed until further meetings in 2010. Out of 233 companies invited to take part in the survey, only 87 responded. Eighty percent of those were from Europe and the United States. The remainder were from Japan, Latin America, Africa and the rest of Asia. (Reuters)


What "environmental integrity"? Forest offsets give EPA regulators some tough nuts to crack

If a tree grows in a forest, does it make an emissions offset? What happens if it burns down? Both the integrity and the cost of the legislation working its way through Congress that would put a cap on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions hang on questions like these.

Experts have for the most part applauded the rigorous criteria for offsets in the far-reaching climate and energy bill passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week.

But while the bill, proposed by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), lays out a game plan, U.S. EPA would have to answer these and many other questions. The task could be one of the more complicated ones the agency has faced.

"Offsets are really going to allow this bill to get passed," said Shanna Brownstein, a policy associate with the Climate Trust, a nonprofit offset provider. "But implementation is critical, because it could very easily compromise the environmental integrity of the entire program." (ClimateWire)


Chu aims to seize climate initiative

The US remains determined to lead the world to a new global deal on climate change, Steven Chu, the energy secretary, said yesterday.

Even if China and other developing countries are reluctant to make commitments at December's UN climate change conference in Copenhagen, "President Obama has made it clear that the US should act first," Mr Chu said. "Using China as a reason not to act is no longer an option." (Financial Times)


They certainly know how to play these silly Westerners: China Praised At Climate Talks For Planned Curbs

PARIS - China won praise for moves to cap its surging greenhouse gas emissions at a meeting of major economies on Tuesday, even as Germany criticised the lack of progress towards a new United Nations climate treaty. (Reuters)


China Flexible On Rich Nations' Greenhouse Gas Cuts

BEIJING - Global negotiations late this year need not specify greenhouse gas cuts for the United States and other rich countries, as long as they set the right note for later talks, a Chinese climate policy official said on Tuesday. (Reuters)


The Geography of Carbon Emissions

No American city is among the top 50 cities in the world for air pollution according to the World Bank. (1) Another list, ‘The Top Ten of the Dirty Thirty,' compiled by the Blacksmith Institute of New York compared the toxicity of contamination, the likelihood of it getting into humans and the number of people affected. Places were bumped up in rank if children were impacted. No US or European sites made the list. Sites in China, India and Russia occupied six of the top ten spots. Some examples: at Linfen in Shanxi province-the heart of China's coal industry-industrial and automobile emissions put the health of 3 million people at risk. At Sukinda in the state of Orissa in India, 2.6 million people face the hazards of one of the world's opencast chromite mines. And in Dzerzhinsk, Russia, 300,000 people are exposed to toxic by-products from chemical weapons. (2)

Have you heard about this? Probably not. But there's more. Another report states that seven of the world's ten most polluted cities are in China. Of the ten cities in the world with the highest levels of air pollution, three are in India. (3). There are more reports but by now you probably get the point. Note that no US city has been mentioned. Steven Hayward in discussing the Blacksmith report makes an observation that could well apply to all of these documents: "Not surprisingly the media and green campaigners in the United States completely overlooked this report." (4) (Jack Dini, American Thinker)


Global Energy Demand Seen Up 44 Percent By 2030

WASHINGTON - Global energy demand is expected to soar 44 percent over the next two decades with most of the demand coming from developing countries such as China and Russia, the U.S. government's top energy forecasting agency said on Wednesday. (Reuters)


Emissions trading scheme stand-off could end in early election

AUSTRALIANS were yesterday threatened with a double dissolution election after the Rudd Government's failure to push through its controversial and costly emissions trading scheme (ETS).

The Daily Telegraph reports the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill was killed off yesterday when two independent senators joined the Opposition in announcing they would vote for its deferment, saying the scheme would mean major job losses. The Greens want the Bill scrapped completely, arguing it does not go far enough.

Yesterday's opposition to the ETS in its current form raised the prospect of an early double dissolution election on climate change.

The Government is determined to get the Bill to a Senate vote in June and if it is defeated bring it back before the end of the year. Deferment of the Bill would be the same as rejection and if a Bill is rejected a second time after a three-month interval the Government would be entitled to call a double dissolution election. (Daily Telegraph)

K.Rudd is widely expected to maneuver a double-dissolution trigger to precipitate an early election -- before the impacts of disastrous policy decisions are too widely felt -- in order to try to grab a second term in office.


Brief Overview Of Several Climate Science Research Findings

Our research group and collaborating colleagues have published several papers with major findings with respect to climate science. This weblog lists several of these findings, along with the peer reviewed papers in which they are based on: (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)


Heat-resistant Corals Ignore Climate Change Threats

Among the many catastrophes that are to befall our world due to global warming, the imminent demise of coral reefs is one of the worst. According to climate change proponents, as waters warm the ocean's reefs will bleach out and die, leaving the seas aquatic deserts, devoid of life. Now comes news that scientists have discovered live, healthy corals on reefs already as hot as the oceans are supposed to get 100 years from now, according to IPCC predictions. Looks like the corals didn't read the IPCC reports. (Doug L. Hoffman, The Resilient Earth)


New web site: Climate data information

Site Objectives
A lot of data on climate and climate change are available on the internet but they are not presented in a way which makes them easy to understand. Where climate data are available in a digestible form they are often being used to support one side or the other of highly polarised positions.

This site is based on a 3 simple assumptions:

* You are concerned about the environment,
* You want to know more about climate change,
* You want to be given the facts to allow you make up your own mind.

On this site we let the facts speak for themselves.

We are fully independent. We are self-funded. We are trying to prove only one thing: rational debate is possible when participants have access to the facts.


Scientists to Extend Antarctic Ice Records Back to 3 Million Years

ORONO, Maine – Scientists at the University of Maine have received a $436,546 grant from the National Science Foundation to extend climate records back to three million years using ice samples from the Allan Hills Blue Ice Area in East Antarctica.

Andrei Kurbatov, an assistant research professor at UMaine's Climate Change Institute, will lead the project, in cooperation with Princeton University, which aims to reconstruct details of past climate changes and greenhouse gas concentrations for certain time periods by applying emerging methods for absolute and relative dating of air bubbles trapped in the ice. (University of Maine)


Virtual world stupidity recycled, again: FEATURE-Climate health costs: bug-borne ills, killer heat

WASHINGTON, May 28 - Tree-munching beetles, malaria-carrying mosquitoes and deer ticks that spread Lyme disease are three living signs that climate change is likely to exact a heavy toll on human health.

These pests and others are expanding their ranges in a warming world, which means people who never had to worry about them will have to start. And they are hardly the only health threats from global warming. (Reuters)


Nope: Greenland Ice Could Fuel Severe U.S. Sea Level Rise

WASHINGTON - New York, Boston and other cities on North America's northeast coast could face a rise in sea level this century that would exceed forecasts for the rest of the planet if Greenland's ice sheet keeps melting as fast as it is now, researchers said on Wednesday.

Sea levels off the northeast coast of North America could rise by 12 to 20 inches more than other coastal areas if the Greenland glacier-melt continues to accelerate at its present pace, the researchers reported.

This is because the current rate of ice-melting in Greenland could send so much fresh water into the salty north Atlantic Ocean that it could change the vast ocean circulation pattern sometimes called the conveyor belt. Scientists call this pattern the meridional overturning circulation. (Reuters)

How sad for these modelers -- just a week after real scientists admitted the MOC model is completely wrong.


Sillier by the day: Why Global Warming Means Killer Storms Worse Than Katrina And Gustav, Part 1

Hurricane season officially begins June 1 -- though global warming will ultimately move that date up just as it is moving up the spring snowmelt. Indeed, some evidence suggests the hurricane season has been getting longer for decades (see here and below).

As Jeff Master, our favorite meteorologist and hurricane blogger, noted in November, "This year is now the only hurricane season on record in the Atlantic that has featured major hurricanes in five separate months" (see "A new record for the hurricane season of 2008"). Saturday, Masters explained that had "the large extratropical storm (90L) that has been pounding Florida" this week "spent another six hours over water, it very likely would have been declared a tropical/subtropical depression/storm" -- that is, it would have been "the season's first named storm." So I won't wait until June 1 to revise and update some posts from last year on why global warming will lead to much worse killer storms. (Joe Romm)


Is global warming responsible for a slow tornado season?

Stormchasers across Tornado Alley have been frustrated this spring by what seems to be a lack of tornadoes and severe weather. Indeed, VORTEX2, the largest tornado field study ever, has been running for more than two weeks now and has not seen one twister. Last week, Weather Channel Senior Meteorologist Stu Ostro speculated that global warming was the cause. (Tony Hake, Denver Weather Examiner)


Climate change makes birds smarter... Climate link to mockingbird songs

Unpredictable weather seems to stimulate chatter among birds - as well as humans - according to researchers.

A team of US scientists has found that mockingbirds living in variable climates sing more elaborate songs.

Complex tunes, sung by males to impress females, are likely to signal the birds' intelligence.

Published in Current Biology, the findings suggest that females seek mates with superior singing skills - smart enough to survive harsh climes. (BBC News)


Green Industry Demands Low-Carbon Dollars

COPENHAGEN - Top executives from companies likely to win from climate change policies demanded on Tuesday that governments turn away from fossil fuels when they sign a new climate pact, expected in December.

Seven months before the world meets to try and thrash out a new global treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, executives and investors called for tough targets to slash carbon emissions at a green business conference in Copenhagen. (Reuters)


Maersk CEO Wants Climate Deal For Shippers

COPENHAGEN - The head of shipping and oil group A.P. Moller-Maersk called on Tuesday on governments to reach a global climate deal for the shipping industry when they meet on a new climate treaty in December.

International shipping was not included in the Kyoto Protocol, a replacement for which the world will try to thrash out in Copenhagen in seven months. (Reuters)


Big Oil Warms to Ethanol and Biofuel Companies

JENNINGS, La. — For decades, the big oil companies and the farm lobby have been fighting about ethanol, with the farmers pushing to produce more of it and the refiners arguing it was a boondoggle that would do little to solve the country’s energy problems.

So why are technicians for BP, the giant oil company, now working at an experimental ethanol plant in this old Louisiana oil town, helping to make it more efficient?

The erstwhile enemies, it turns out, are gradually learning to get along, as refiners increasingly see a need to get involved in ethanol production. Ethanol, made chiefly from corn, now represents about 9 percent of the country’s market for liquid fuels. And the percentage is growing year after year because of federal mandates. With the nation’s thirst for gasoline, and the ethanol that is blended into it, expected to revive when the economy does, the oil companies want to be in a position to take full advantage. (New York Times)


EU May Extend Duties On U.S. Biodiesel Imports

BRUSSELS - The European Commission will call on Thursday for an extension of antidumping and anti-subsidy duties on imports of biodiesel from the United States by up to five years, the proposal seen by Reuters showed.

The European Union's executive arm -- which oversees trade policy for the 27-nation bloc -- will seek the approval of so-called "definitive" or permanent tariffs of up to five years by member states at a meeting of the EU's antidumping committee. (Reuters)


Colombian Ethanol Output To Surge In 2009

LONDON - Colombian ethanol output is expected to more than double to 2.42 million liters a day by the end of 2009 as new projects come onstream, Agriculture Minister Andres Fernandez Acosta said on Wednesday.

He told Reuters in an interview that Colombia, the number two ethanol producer in Latin America after Brazil, was seeking new investors to join projects to boost ethanol production capacity and create jobs in the South American country. (Reuters)


Stream Of Renewable Placements May Run Dry

FRANKFURT/OSLO - Recent share placements by renewable energy companies suggest the industry has passed through a financial bottleneck, but investor appetite for further stock sales could vanish as quickly as it surfaced.

Germany's Q-Cells, the world's largest maker of solar cells; Danish Vestas, the world's biggest maker of wind turbines; and U.S. solar panels maker SunPower all raised money by offering stock over the last few weeks.

Norwegian solar energy equipment maker Renewable Energy Corp also announced plans to raise 7-9 billion Norwegian crowns ($1.11-1.42 billion) by issuing new shares and debt, while Suntech Power last week announced it would issue 20 million new American Depository Shares.

Together with the recent surge in solar stocks around the world, this suggests that investors are buying back into the once-booming sector but the buy side is watching the fundamentals for the upsurge with some suspicion. (Reuters)


Wind Farm Opponents Want European Moratorium

BRUSSELS - Europe should halt the construction of any more wind farms until it has further examined their impact on wildlife, landscapes and the value of nearby houses, a new anti-wind farm group said on Tuesday.

"Wind farms represent the worst-case scenario," the European Platform Against Windfarms (EPAW) said in a letter to European Union commissioners and parliamentarians, in which it called for a moratorium on all wind projects.

"EPAW considers it unacceptable that European institutions should promote the despoiling of the European landscape ... with thousands of wind farms stretching from Lapland to Gibraltar," said the pressure group, founded in October.

But wind industry officials said EPAW had failed to take account of the true danger of climate change and the slow growth of other renewable alternatives to fossil fuels. (Reuters)

To a significant extent I agree with the anti-wind farm lobby -- these expensive and inefficient white elephants are being forced on communities in the name of "addressing" the phantom menace of gorebull warming.


Action on wind farm radar threat to aircraft

The body that monitors UK airspace is seeking a solution to the potentially disastrous problem of commercial and military aircraft disappearing in radar blackout zones caused by wind farms. (The Times)


Obama vs. The Beach Boys - Daddy's taking the muscle-car culture away.

How long before the midnight drag races return on dark and dusty roads?

When Barack Obama announced that the government will use its fist to wave onto the highways of America cars that get 39 miles to a gallon of liquefied switch grass or something, he said, "Everybody wins."

Everybody? What country has he been living in? This marks the end of the internal combustion engine as we knew it, and it is the way Americans have defined, designed and literally driven much of the nation's culture for as long as anyone can remember. Car culture is America's culture.

Mr. Obama is fond of giving people iPods as gifts. I've got a playlist for Mr. Obama's iPod. (Daniel Henninger, WSJ)


May 27, 2009

WHO mulls pandemic threshold as swine flu cases near 13,000

GENEVA — The WHO wants scientists to help clear up the criteria needed for declaring a pandemic as swine flu cases worldwide soared to nearly 13,000 Tuesday, spreading further in the Middle East.

"We are trying to see what kind of adjustments must be made to make sure that the definitions really meet the situation," said World Health Organisation interim Assistant Director General Keiji Fukuda.

The move follows appeals by several countries for more caution before moving up a step from the current phase five alert to declaring a pandemic for new A(H1N1) virus.

The virus has caused 92 deaths and infected 12,954 people in 46 countries since it was first uncovered last month, according to the WHO's latest figures. (AFP)


Mexico, US, Canada announce swine flu deaths

CHICAGO — Authorities in Mexico announced three more swine flu deaths and the United States and Canada one more death each as the world's largest vaccine maker signed a deal with the United States to produce a swine flu vaccine.

The World Health Organization says at least 46 countries have confirmed more than 12,950 swine flu cases. The Mexican death toll now stands at 83, and Canada's is two. The U.S. death is the 12th in the country. (AP)


Insensitive, perhaps but true: Swine flu victim's wife rips Mayor Bloomberg over 'lucky' gaffe

Lucky? The widow of the city's first swine flu victim blasted Mayor Bloomberg for saying New Yorkers should "consider yourself lucky" to get the virus.

"I'm not feeling very lucky. I'm sorry I can't agree with that," said Bonnie Wiener, whose husband, Assistant Principal Mitchell Wiener, died last week.

"My children are not feeling very lucky either," the widow added. "It's a very puzzling comment to make."

Bloomberg made the awkward remark a day after the city suffered its second swine flu death.

"In some senses, if you have H1N1 [virus], you should consider yourself lucky because it so far seems to be a milder flu than the garden variety," Bloomberg said Monday.

The mayor quickly explained that he wasn't downplaying the deaths. (NY Daily News)


Pills with consequences

The media has widely covered the Hydroxycut recalls issued by the FDA earlier this month, making it unnecessary to repeat the recall notices here in detail. JFS readers aren’t the customers for dietary supplements marketed as being for weight loss, as fat burners, as energy-enhancers, and as low-car diet aids. But one aspect of the news story hasn’t caught the attention of media and may provide a helpful cautionary note for readers. (Junkfood Science)


Governments must act on obesity epidemic - It's time to ban trans fats, regulate ads, get harmful foods out of schools

Trans fats are responsible for 3,000 cardiac deaths every year in Canada (Harvard School of Public Health estimates). It's past time to ban trans fats.

This could be a step forward in broader provincial policy development supporting healthy choices and reducing harmful choices promoted in the marketplace. (Edmonton Journal)

With all these deaths being "prevented" by "health advocates" how come people don't live forever? Cutting smoking was supposed to prevent, oh, like a bazillion deaths or something so how come people kept right on dying? You think our failure to prevent countless millions passing might have something to do with, um, exaggerated claims, maybe?


Redesign communities to help alleviate obesity

Part of the problem of children being physically inactive is the lack of safe neighborhood design that supports walking to school, parks, recreational facilities and walking just for the sake of exercise

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a startling policy statement Tuesday that will appear in the June edition of Pediatrics. According to this authoritative statement, the design of American communities negatively affects the health of our children. An “estimated 32 percent of American children are overweight and physical inactivity contributes to this high prevalence of overweight.” The AAP links this alarming figure to the design of the built environment. (Houston Chronicle)


Pandering to the anti-chemical wackos: EPA announces dioxin review, plans for Dow cleanup

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — The federal government will speed up a long-delayed assessment of how dioxins affect human health, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday.

Lisa Jackson promised the quickened timetable while announcing a revised strategy for planning the cleanup of one of the nation's biggest dioxin pollution zones: a 50-mile section of Lake Huron watershed near a Dow Chemical Co. plant in Michigan. Dow has acknowledged responsibility for the pollution. (AP)

Earth to EPA: the only known human response to massive dioxin exposure is chloracne (uncomfortable and unsightly to be sure, but not deadly nor even permanent).


Black Leader Urges Senate Scrutiny for Sotomayor Supreme Court Nomination - No Rubber Stamp for Controversial Nominee

Washington, D.C. - With President Obama's nomination of U.S. Circuit Court judge Sonia Sotomayor to the vacancy being created by U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter's impending retirement, Mychal Massie, chairman of the Project 21 black leadership network, is urging senators to take a very close look at her record before commenting on her fitness for the job.

"Of all the possible nominees suggested over the past few weeks, it appears Obama selected the most radical one," said Massie. "The U.S. Senate has a duty to scrutinize Judge Sotomayor's record to ensure she has the demeanor and aptitude to be elevated to such a solemn post."

Massie continued: "During the Bush Administration, it was common for liberal senators to demand a consensus nominee with broad political appeal. By selecting an avowed liberal in Sotomayor, it would appear Obama is not following the stipulation he and his former colleagues sought to impose upon his predecessor. This should open up the nomination to the scrutiny it justly deserves."

The Sotomayor nomination, Massie notes, is the perfect catalyst to begin a national debate on the appropriateness of "judicial activism" - when judges essentially cut lawmakers out of the legislative process and try to rule from the bench. For example, in a 2001 speech at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law, Sotomayor said it was appropriate for a judge such as herself to use her "experiences as women and people of color" to "affect our decisions." In 2005, she told a crowd at the Duke University Law School that the "Court of Appeals is where policy is made" - rather than by lawmakers beholden to voters.

Massie commented: "Considering Justice Souter's record, Sotomayor will not change the balance of the Supreme Court. But she will likely dramatically alter the temperament of the Court and the way in which it operates. Senators must keep this in mind as they take on the very solemn process of vetting her fitness." (Project 21)


Sotomayor Ruling Could Have Cost Consumers Billions

A decision rendered by Obama Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, fortunately reversed by the Supreme Court on April 1, 2009, could have been extravagantly costly to American consumers, according to the Steve Milloy's authoritative Junkscience.Com.

Charging that her nomination represents a potential threat to U.S. Consumers and to the economy in terms of energy and the environment, Milloy reported on her 2007 Second Circuit decision in Riverkeeper, Inc. V. EPA 475 F. 3d 83'

Milloy wrote that in her ruling Judge Sotomayor sided with "extreme green groups" who had sued the Environmental Protection Agency because the agency permitted cost-benefit analysis to be used in the determination of environmental protection technology for power plant cooling water intake structures.

Cost benefit analysis involves the balancing of the total expected costs of a proposal or project against its total expected benefits in order to determine its economic feasibility. Do the benefits outweigh or justify the cost? (Phil Brennan, NewsMax)


What’s a green job? Well, you need to know what sophistry means.

What, exactly, is a green job? Well, that depends on where you go to get the definition. Just Google ‘What, exactly, is a green job’ and you will see scores of websites offering their take on it and if you are like me and have a modicum of skepticism, you’ll soon discover that there really isn’t a standard definition. One of the common statements that I have come across states that ‘everyone understands what a green job is.’ In reality, you will get various definitions. Try it out some time and ask a complete stranger. (Steve LeMaster, Global Warming Skeptics)


NY Times: Knives Come Out for ‘The Goode Family’

In the closing sentence of her New York Times review, Ginia Bellafante damns Mike Judge’s new series, “The Goode Family” — which appears to mercilessly mock everything anyone employed at the Times holds dear — with the harshest of criticisms:  

Mr. Judge, who remains obsessed with the insanities of political correctness, still has his head very much in the Clinton years, and it is possible to watch “The Goode Family” feeling so thoroughly transported back to another time that you wonder where all the Monica Lewinsky jokes. Sometimes you’ve just got to move on.


In the world of pop culture-dom, to be accused of not being cutting-edge is bad enough, but the Times engages the nuclear option by dismissing the new series as passé, outdated, antiquated, behind the times… Pick your poison.

If the goal here is to strangle this ideological apostate of a cartoon in the crib, withholding outrage, confessing it’s funny and then burying it as dull and out of touch is a pretty genius way to go about it.

Most interesting is the sentence just before the closing haymaker:

But the show feels aggressively off-zeitgeist, as if it had been incubated in the early to mid-’90s when it was still possible to find global-warming skeptics among even the reasonable and informed. But who really thinks of wind power - an allusion to which is a running visual gag in the show - as mindless, left-wing nonsense anymore?

The politics here are obvious, as is the tactic. One of the great leftist propaganda tools is to repeat the lie until it sounds true. But all the better if a matter-of-fact delivery can be added for effect:  ”Ho-hum … water’s wet, the sky’s blue, and today the reasonable all believe global-warming is real…”

Now some may want to give the reviewer the benefit of the doubt. After all, she may live in one of those precious New York Times/Manhattan bubbles where such nonsense actually sounds true. Fine. But then you have to ask yourself when the left changed the rules about what is and is not “cutting edge.”

According to Bellafante, leftist environmentalism, which is personified by a belief in global warming, is now no longer a political issue - it’s now a conventional wisdom held by all reasonable Americans.

Well, if that’s the case, doesn’t that mean that what Judge is really doing with “The Goode Family” is mocking the mainstream values of a majority of Americans who share the same beliefs as his cartoon clan?

And if so, when exactly did the left stop defining the mocking of mainstream American values as the very essence of cutting edge? (John Nolte, Big Hollywood)


Commissioner Requests Rehearing On Ruling That Threatens Texas Agriculture

AUSTIN — Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples is joining the American Farm Bureau and dozens of other agriculture organizations across the nation in requesting a rehearing on a ruling regarding pesticide applications used in agriculture.

Recently, a three-judge panel from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that farmers and ranchers must obtain an additional permit prior to applying regulated and approved pesticides near water sources. Prior to this new ruling, agricultural producers already adhered to extensive regulations concerning licensing, registration and application of pesticides. Additionally, every pesticide product used in agriculture has been approved and regulated by the EPA with strict guidelines created to protect lakes, rivers, streams and other water sources. (CattleNetwork)


Still with this garbage? Climate change is the cholera of our era - The medical profession needs to wake up: we should be in the vanguard of the green revolution

In the 19th century, cholera outbreaks that escaped from the slums to kill rich and poor alike caused the great Victorian revolution in public health. Fear of cholera ensured that vast sums were spent on building sewers and ensuring that everyone had clean water. Climate change is the cholera of our era — fear of the havoc that climate change will wreak should stimulate a new public health revolution. And just as doctors led the Victorian campaign, so the medical profession should be in the vanguard of this new revolution in public health.

The front page of The Lancet of May 16 says it all: “Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century.” This prestigious journal, which usually gives no more than ten pages to vitally important clinical research, made space for a 39-page report. (Muir Gray, The Times)

This is Paul Reiter's e-mailed response:

I have just returned from Singapore. I am nauseated!

13 hours flight was expected, but one hour starting 0545h waiting for Customs Officers to stop arguing about something (will they strike?), another hour waiting for the back-up of baggages they caused (no baggage-handlers anywhere to be seen), and two hours getting home because of transport strike.

And now THIS!

The main article is a rehash of a similar load of garbage unloaded in 1996, plus (identical wording) other writings of the past, including, I suspect, IPCC. Same drivers too.

They have cherry picked without remorse.

What the hell can we do? I am flabbergasted that this can go on, and on, and on.

I have huge response to my article in Malaria Journal: yet these peddlers of garbage quote a 1998 model by two activists whose work is ridiculed by those of us who work in this field.

I explode!


I think that about covers it.


Ex-BBC science man slams corp: 'Evangelical, shallow and sparse' - Nonstop Thermageddon coverage risks ridicule

The BBC's environmental coverage has come under fire from a former science correspondent. Award-winning author and journalist David Whitehouse says the corporation risks public ridicule - or worse - with what he calls "an evangelical, inconsistent climate change reporting and its narrow, shallow and sparse reporting on other scientific issues." (Andrew Orlowski, The Register)


Gorebull warming causes less more Himalayan snowfall: Hundreds of Mt. Qomolangma trekkers stranded after heavy snowfall

KATHMANDU, May 26 -- Heavy snowfall and storm have hampered hundreds of tourists and trekkers in Mt. Qomolangma region with most of them stranded at the base camp, 5,365 meters on Tuesday.

According to Nishant Shrestha, field officer of Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee at Namche, Solukhumbu, more than 300 persons who were on their way to Lukla, were affected by the snowfall in the region.

Arun Pokharel, senior officer at the Mountaineering Department of the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, said that tourists and trekkers couldn't proceed to their destinations due to the storm and snowfall in the upper part of Mt. Qomolangma region including the base camp.

It is a very unusual phenomenon and the Himalayan range hadn't witnessed this kind of snowfall this season, said the general manager of Himalaya Expeditions, Satish Neupane.

  Senior meteorologist at department of metrology and hydrology Keshav Das Shrestha said that unusual snowfall in the Himalayan range is a direct effect of climate change. (Xinhua)


Dumb as it gets: CEOs Urge Clarity In Emissions Pact

COPENHAGEN -- Chiefs of some of the world's largest companies are urging global leaders to cut a strong deal this December to curb pollution, saying they need certainty on emissions targets to be able to make long-term investment decisions.

The World Business Summit on Climate Change, which brought together more than 500 business leaders, is being seen as a crucial milestone on the road to December's meeting here, at which governments will try to hammer out a successor agreement to the United Nations' Kyoto Protocol. Many of them said a global deal would provide the regulatory certainty and price signals they need to invest in renewable fuels and low-carbon technologies.

Business leaders said they were working on a draft statement that would call for emissions to be cut by at least 50% by 2050, an ambitious target also endorsed by the U.N. (Wall Street Journal)


Climate change summit hijacked by biggest polluters, critics claim

A vital meeting in Copenhagen this weekend that will help shape the agenda for the most important climate change talks since the Kyoto protocol has been hijacked by some of the biggest polluters in the world, critics claimed today.

Among those attending the World Business Summit on Climate Change is Shell, which has just been named by environmentalists on the basis of new research as "the most carbon-intensive oil company in the world".

There is concern that the big energy companies will be pushing carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a way of keeping the oil-based economy running.

At the meeting yesterday, the United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, and Nobel prize winner Al Gore urged more than 500 business leaders – including the chief executives of PepsiCo, Nestlé and BP – to lend their corporate muscle to reaching a global deal on reducing greenhouse gases. (The Guardian)

To a limited extent we agree -- businesses do need to honestly state, without garnishing, that gorebull warming is, pardon us, total crap. The much-prophesied carbon-dioxide-driven climate catastrophe is physically impossible -- can't happen and nothing people can do will meaningfully adjust the global thermostat even if there were a real risk. Business needs to stand up and tell the plain, unvarnished truth -- this is all-pain, no-gain rubbish and we won't pander to your ridiculous fantasies any more.


CO2 Memo: Ticking Time Bomb

On April 17, the administration spawned a ticking time bomb with its release of a proposed endangerment finding for carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases. This proposal finds that carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant that threatens the public health and welfare and therefore must be regulated under the Clean Air Act. This so-called “endangerment finding” sets the clock ticking on a vast array of taxes and regulation that EPA can impose across the economy, and all with little or no political debate or congressional control.

Just two weeks later, on May 12, we learned of a White House document marked ‘privileged and confidential’ buried deep within the docket of the proposed rule. It outlines some of the very same concerns shared by me and many of my colleagues, including Sen. John Barrasso (R.-Wyo.).

This document, allegedly a compilation of concerns from unnamed officials within the government as part of an inter-agency review of the proposed regulation, raises some very serious criticisms of the endangerment proposal. Chief among them are questions raised about the link between the EPA’s scientific argument for endangerment and its political summary. (Sen. James Inhofe, Human events)


Haven't achieved Kyoto so, try for Kyoto? Japan eyes 7 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions

The government is eyeing a 7 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels, it has emerged.

A rift has risen between citizens groups that are demanding a major reduction in emissions and the business community, which is demanding a relaxed target. Prime Minister Taro Aso said he will announce Japan's target as early as the first half of next month.

On Sunday, an informal meeting on global warming was held at the prime minister's office, with Toyota Motor Corp. adviser Hiroshi Okuda presiding, and the results of an opinion poll that the government conducted on 4,000 people between May 7 and 17 were announced. The poll showed that a 7 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels was the most popular of six government options on reductions, selected by 45.4 percent of respondents.

However, not all are in favor of a major reduction in emissions. A total of 15.3 percent selected a 4 percent increase in emissions compared to 1990 levels (equivalent to a 4 percent cut from 2005 levels) -- a target supported by the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren).

At the other end of the scale, 4.9 percent of respondents selected a 25 percent reduction compared to 1990 levels, which environmental organizations have been pushing for. (Mainichi Daily News)


Aussie's pre-Copenhagen scheme is dead: Coalition gives ETS ultimatum

THE Opposition will push the Government to defer its emissions trading legislation until the Copenhagen climate conference has been held.

But it will vote the scheme down if a delay is rejected. (The Age)


India's activists push their government to put a price on carbon

A coalition of Indian activists, academics and entrepreneurs is urging India's leaders to take a more aggressive stand on climate change.

In two days of talks with U.S. lawmakers and policy experts in Washington, D.C., the group said Indian society is starting a serious internal discussion about its role in addressing global warming.

"This is about recasting the debate," said Malini Mehra, founder of the Centre for Social Markets, a nonprofit based in India and the United Kingdom that promotes entrepreneurship and sustainable growth.

"The Indian government's agenda will not change until Indians want it to change," she told a U.N. Foundation forum. "I will not rest until we have a radically different position on the Indian government's side."

The United Nations is pushing for the creation of a new global emissions treaty to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, an agreement that may be determined in Copenhagen in December. U.S. lawmakers widely insist that America will only agree to a deal in which emerging nations like China and India also agree to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

India, meanwhile, argues that it is unfair to ask developing countries with historically low levels of emissions to take on a greenhouse gas reduction commitment. Instead, it has pushed for voluntary actions to boost renewable energy use and "decarbonize" its economy. (ClimateWire)


Uh-huh... Hay festival: Division between sciences and arts puts planet in peril, warns Richard Holmes

Speaking at the Hay festival today, biographer Richard Holmes has urged scientists and artists to work together in the face of global warming

... like, yeah man, you know how much money there is in this scam?


Oh boy... Carbon trading's inconvenient truth

In the face of unwavering Republican opposition, Californian Rep. Henry Waxman last week successfully guided a mammoth energy and climate bill through the House Energy and Commerce Committee that he chairs. This should be a thrilling moment for environmentalists. Nineteen years after the U.N.'s panel of scientists first reached consensus on the threat posed by global warming, the United States, for long the world's biggest polluter, is finally poised to take action. But unfortunately, the feeling among many climate-change campaigners is more of dashed hopes than delight. The good news, however, also comes from California in the form of AB1404. If Washington would follow the lead of this bill, it could close a gaping loophole in the proposed federal legislation.

Mainly to get the votes of coal-state Democrats, the federal bill, co-authored by Waxman and Ed Markey, D-Mass., includes hundreds of billions of dollars in giveaways to the coal industry and sets targets for renewable energy that are weaker than one could expect without the bill. The most serious is a medium-term cut in pollution that is only 4 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 - is weak compared with the 25 to 40 percent that scientists say we must achieve to have a decent chance of avoiding climate chaos.

Even this scarily inadequate target is illusory because the supposed pollution "cap" in the bill would be blown to pieces by allowing polluters to buy cheap "carbon offsets" or "carbon credits" instead of reducing their emissions. (Patrick McCully, SF Chronicle)


Rank stupidity: Climate-change action picks up on three fronts

Purposeful activity by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire indicate the momentum that has replaced debate on climate change.

THE climate-change debate has never lacked for passion and energy, but it has remained, despite various fits and starts, a debate. Until now.

A confluence of events, however coincidental in timing, point toward forward movement — real momentum — on reducing greenhouse gases and making it part of our daily lives. (Seattle Times)


Why I am a Climate Realist

In 1996 the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Second Assessment Report was released, and I was listed as one of approximately 3000 “scientists” who agreed that there was a discernable human influence on climate.

I was an invited reviewer for a chapter dealing with the economic impact of sea level rise on small island nations. In keeping with IPCC procedures, the chapter was written and reviewed in isolation from the rest of the report, and I had no input into the process after my review of the chapter draft. I was not asked if I supported the view expressed in my name, and my understanding at the time was that no evidence of a discernable human influence on global climate existed.

The chapter I reviewed dealt primarily with the economic consequences of an assumed sea level rise of 1 m causing extensive inundation. My response was that I could not comment on the economic analysis, however, I disagreed with the initial assumptions, particularly the assumed sea level rise in the stated time period. Further, there was good evidence at the time that sea level rise would not necessarily result in flooding of small island nations, because natural processes on coral atolls were likely to raise island levels.

The IPCC Second Assessment Report assessed sea level rise by AD 2100 as being in the range 0.20-0.86 m, with a most likely value of 0.49 m (less than half the rate assumed for the economic analysis). Subsequent research has demonstrated that coral atolls and associated islands are likely to increase in elevation as sea level rises. Hence, the assumptions were invalid, and I was convinced that IPCC projections were unrealistic and exaggerated the problem. (Willem de Lange, NZCPR)


Why it's easy to be a global warming skeptic

As with many political issues, society's efforts to deal with climate change may end up being directed by events that are not exactly scientific.

There is a debate going on about how much our emissions of CO2 will affect temperatures in the future. (The debate is not about the greenhouse effect, the existence of global warming, or that CO2 is a greenhouse gas--those questions have been settled for about a century). The debate is being influenced by the behaviour of the major players--certainly more than it should be.

If you look at the behaviour of the activists supporting major action to combat climate change, it is easy to understand why skeptics are so angry. To be blunt, sometimes the activists act like thugs. (Thomas Fuller, SF Environmental Policy Examiner)


Paint the world white: Compare and Contrast

Bjorn Lomborg, November 2007:

…although it may seem almost comically straightforward, one of the best temperature-reducing approaches is very simple: paint things white. Cities have a lot of black asphalt and dark, heat-absorbing structures. By increasing reflection and shade, a great deal of heat build-up can be avoided. Paint most of a city and you could lower the temperature by 10C.

Steven Chu, May 2009:

Professor Steven Chu, speaking at the opening of the St James’s Palace Nobel Laureate Symposium, for which The Times is media partner, said this simple and “completely benign” approach to “geo-engineering” could have a vast impact at low cost. By lightening all paved surfaces and roofs to the colour of cement, it would be possible to reduce carbon emissions by as much as taking all the world’s cars off the roads for 11 years, he said.

I ask you to compare and contrast because one of these men is an “evil delayer” (or worse), and the other a planetary savior.  Yet the savior is now adopting a policy advocated for two years by the “delayer.”

Perhaps there is hope for the global warming debate yet. (Iain Murray, OpenMarket)


Oh dear... Ecological Impacts of Climate Change

Life on Earth is profoundly affected by the planet's climate. Explore some of the ecological impacts of climate change that have already been observed—right in your own backyard.

Ecological Impacts of Climate Change This 28-page booklet is based on Ecological Impacts of Climate Change (2009), a report by an independent panel of experts convened by the National Research Council. It explains general themes about the ecological consequences of climate change and identifies examples of ecological changes across the United States.

Powerpoint Presentation Modules on Ecological Impacts

Powerpoint Presentation ModulesThese Powerpoint presentation modules were developed to assist educators, museum docents, and other interested parties in sharing information about the ecological impacts of climate change.

Presentations can be personalized to your geographic region. For your convenience, presenter notes are embedded in the Powerpoint files.

Step 1: Download Introductory Powerpoint Slides (5.8 MB)

Step 2: Download Powerpoint Slides for Your Region Step 3: Download Conclusion Powerpoint Slides (335 KB)

Step 4: Combine Powerpoint Slides into a Single Presentation and Enjoy!

If you prefer, you may download the Full Presentation (5.9 MB) including all geographic regions.

Explore Ecological Impacts of Climate Change Online

Browse the contents of this booklet online by navigating through the sections below. Figures from the booklet are also available for downloading here.

About These Products

The Ecological Impacts section of this website was developed by the National Academies based on Ecological Impacts of Climate Change (2009), a report by an independent panel of experts convened by the National Research Council. The report, its companion booklet, and the presentation modules were created with support from the United States Geological Survey. (National Academy of Sciences)


New Review of U.S. Climate Change Impacts

The U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has produced a brief summary of the state of knowledge regarding the potential impacts of climate change on the United States. The report emerges at a convenient time, with climate change legislation currently making its way through Congress. Having been requested by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, the report seems clearly designed to be a piece of political ammunition. Although as is customary with CBO reports, it stops short of specific recommendations, it does give some pages to discussing the implications of different energy and emissions futures for climate impacts. Yet the report is rather quiet on the issue of adaptation, stating only that it will be required for some sectors. (Adaptation Online)


New Article “Regional Climate Change In Tropical And Northern Africa Due To Greenhouse Forcing And Land Use Changes By Paeth Et Al 2009

Thanks to Jos de Laat of KNMI for alerting us to the paper Paeth, H., K. Born, R. Girmes, R. Podzun, and D. Jacob, 2009: Regional Climate Change in Tropical and Northern Africa due to Greenhouse Forcing and Land Use Changes. J. Climate, 22, 114–132. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)


Comments By Mike Smith of My Weblog “Debate Question For Professor Steve Schneider and Colleagues”

In response to my weblog Debate Question For Professor Steve Schneider and Colleagues Mike Smith and I have exchanged e-mails on these three hypotheses. With Mike’s permission, I have extracted the text from our e-mails and reproduced with minor edits below. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)


From CO2 Science this week:

The Third International Conference on Climate Change will be held in Washington, DC on June 2, 2009 at the Washington Court Hotel, 525 New Jersey Avenue NW. It will call attention to widespread dissent to the asserted “consensus” on various aspects of climate change and global warming. We encourage you to attend.

Earth's Incredible Dissolving Corals: New model calculations of coral calcification suggest that when the atmosphere's CO2 concentration reaches 560 ppm, all corals will cease to grow and start to dissolve; but real-world data indicate earth's reefs may have a different opinion about the matter.

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week:
Was there a Medieval Warm Period? YES, according to data published by 709 individual scientists from 412 separate research institutions in 41 different countries ... and counting! This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from Duck Pond, Yangmingshan National Park, Northern Taiwan. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary:
Ocean Temperatures (The Past Several Millennia): The really big picture gives us a really clear view of the relative non-dependence of earth's climate on the atmosphere's CO2 concentration.

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Alfalfa (Aranjuelo et al., 2009), Scots Pine (Alberton and Kuyper, 2009), Soybean (Matsunami et al., 2009), and Thyme (Vurro et al., 2009).

Journal Reviews:
Solar Activity and Global Climate Change: How does the former affect the latter?

Southern Scandinavian Storminess: How has it responded to 20th-century global warming?

Mosquito-Borne Diseases in Australia: A review of the complexities of their transmission suggests that climate change, as currently anticipated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, "is not likely to provide great cause for public health concern."

Chinese Locust Plagues of the Past Millennium: Were they in any way related to temperature changes of the past millennium?

Carbon Sequestration in a Poplar Plantation: Atmospheric CO2 enrichment enhances forest litter buildup and soil organic matter stabilization over the long term. (


Global Warming Now Audible, Study Says

Let's hope global warming doesn't go to 11. Now that climate change appears to be audible, that Spinal Tap-ian benchmark may someday be the ultimate gauge of climate catastrophe.

According to a new study, it's now possible to hear the rise of global warming in the form of more, larger, more intense storms—signs of climate change, many scientists say.

For decades, seismologists have been filtering out the sounds of massive, storm-driven ocean waves crashing into coastlines. The pesky noise was getting in the way of earthquake detection.

But now some experts are electronically filtering out the quakes—and turning up the volume on the storm waves. (National Geographic News)


Climate change amplifying animal disease

PARIS — Climate change is widening viral disease among farm animals, expanding the spread of some microbes that are also a known risk to humans, the world's top agency for animal health said on Monday.

The World Animal Health Organisation -- known as OIE, an acronym of its name in French -- said a survey of 126 of its member-states found 71 percent were "extremely concerned" about the expected impact of climate change on animal disease.

Fifty-eight percent said they had already identified at least one disease that was new to their territory or had returned to their territory, and that they associated with climate change. (AFP)


Adaptation Emerges As Key Part Of Any Climate Change Plan

After years of reluctance, scientists and governments are now looking to adaptation measures as critical for confronting the consequences of climate change. And increasingly, plans are being developed to deal with rising seas, water shortages, spreading diseases, and other realities of a warming world. (e360)


Rapid Climate Change Forces Scientists To Evaluate 'Extreme' Conservation Strategies

Scientists are, for the first time, objectively evaluating ways to help species adapt to rapid climate change and other environmental threats via strategies that were considered too radical for serious consideration as recently as five or 10 years ago. Among these radical strategies currently being considered is so-called "managed relocation." Managed relocation, which is also known as "assisted migration," involves manually moving species into more accommodating habitats where they are not currently found. (ScienceDaily)


AES and GE imitate Enron on coal and climate

A global power company that inherited some of Enron’s coal-fired power plants in Africa has also followed the late energy giant in the effort to profit from climate change legislation.

Virginia-based AES Corp. has partnered with General Electric Co. in peddling greenhouse gas offsets while lobbying for policies to make those offsets valuable — the same buy-low, lobby-hard, sell-high strategy tried by Enron. AES simultaneous expansion of coal-fired power in Asia, South America and Africa, however, highlights how environmental regulations can yield profit without necessarily yielding environmental gains.

Before it collapsed in late 2001, Enron was the leading corporate lobbyist for restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions. Former Chief Executive Officer Ken Lay called on both the Clinton and Bush White Houses to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, which one intracompany e-mail declared would be “good for Enron stock.” The company hoped to be the premier dealer in emissions credits that would be required after climate change legislation. Further, Enron’s natural gas pipelines would see increased demand as coal and oil would be made more costly.

At the same time, Enron owned coal-fired power plants in the developing world and was building more. Third World power plants are not covered by Kyoto, and pinching the developed world’s use of coal would make it cheaper to operate the coal plants in Nigeria.

When Enron died, its assets were scattered. Two heirs — taking up both Enron’s power generation and its climate change entrepreneurship — were General Electric and AES. GE got the windmills, and AES got floating coal-fired power plants off Nigeria’s shores. (Timothy P. Carney, Washington Examiner)


NWT communities call on Alberta to halt oilsands over water pollution fears

Concerned that the oilsands threaten their wildlife and rivers, northern communities want the Alberta government to shut down further activity until it works out an environmental deal with the Northwest Territories.

All 33 of the territory's cities, towns and hamlets - most of which are on water directly downstream from the oilsands - have approved a motion calling on the territorial government to start monitoring oilsands impacts and to take a tougher line with its southern neighbour. (CP)


Peter Foster: Climate change makes for strange bedfellows

The threat of climate change policy has unleashed a bout of interventionist aspiration unseen since the death of the Soviet empire

Alberta is concerned about being excluded from U.S. markets because of “dirty” oil from the oilsands, so it links up with an organization that contains Iran and Venezuela. It certainly is a mad, mad, mad, mad oil world. (National Post)


May 26, 2009

WHO chief warns H1N1 swine flu likely to worsen

GENEVA, May 22 - The world must be ready for H1N1 swine flu to become more severe and kill more people, World Health Organization chief Dr. Margaret Chan said on Friday.

A genetic analysis of the new virus showed it must have been circulating undetected for some time, in pigs or perhaps in other animals.

The WHO is poised to declare a full pandemic of the virus, which has infected more than 11,000 people in 42 countries and killed 86. And U.S. health officials released $1 billion for companies to get started on a vaccine in case it is needed. (Reuters)


Economy, not swine flu, sends chill thru New York City's tourism

The good news is that swine flu doesn't seem to be stopping the masses of visitors from flocking to New York City this unfolding tourist season.

The bad news is that the severe global downturn is expected to cause a 4% drop in tourist visits this summer.

"We do not think H1N1 will have any real impact on the number of visitors that will come in this summer," said Kimberly Spell, senior vice president at NYC & Company, the city's marketing and tourism organization. "Now, the economy - that's a different story."

Spell acknowledged "there was a great deal of panic" following the outbreak of swine flu here but, so far, only two student groups canceled trips. (NY Daily News)


Swine flu in New York: Fear of virus is bigger fight than illness in city

NEW YORK -- At a hospital in New York's south Bronx, 187 children flooded the emergency room in a 12-hour period. Only two had flulike symptoms, and those were mild. At a hospital in Queens, officials erected a tent outside to handle the crowd of visitors fearful of the H1N1 influenza virus, even though none had obvious symptoms.

They are part of what New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other city officials have dubbed the "worried well," whose epidemic of panic amid the swine flu outbreak is proving more problematic than the illness. (Tribune Newspapers)


Very disappointing: Lawrence Solomon: First do no harm

Those who question the safety of vaccines are being unfairly attacked. Vaccines do both harm and good. (Financial Post)

I had thought far higher of Solomon than this. Vaccinations do not involve a personal opt out clause precisely because far more than personal choice is involved -- societal safety through herd immunity allows no free riders. The bottom line is simple and absolute -- vaccinate or get out of the society your presence endangers. Note that vaccinate or leave still allows freedom of individual choice -- it's merely that it also carries consequence and appropriate perspective -- the real choice is between the small (some would say trivial) risk of vaccination and the near-death sentence of unvaccinated societies. Get some perspective here -- not that long ago in human history 7 of every 10 babies died in the first few years of life and only one of the remaining three survived to adulthood. Now, tell me again how great is the risk of vaccination.


'Miracle drug' called junk science

Powerful castration drug pushed for autistic children, but medical experts denounce unproven claims (Chicago Tribune)


Physician team's crusade shows cracks

Dr. Mark Geier and son David tout powerful drug Lupron, but scientists see serious flaws in their research (Chicago Tribune)


Autism doctor: Troubling record trails doctor treating autism

In the name of safety, Dr. Mayer Eisenstein's practice embraces home births and shuns vaccines, but parents' lawsuits tell a story of harm and death. (Chicago Tribune)


Dr. Peter Rosi places blame on some parents for their babies' deaths

Acquitted in 1980 of felony negligent homicide, Peter Rosi says others are out to get him (Chicago Tribune)


Peter Foster: Stealing drugs

Make medical patents less secure and you will get less innovation

There is no virtue — and considerable potential harm — in indulging social concern by “pledging” others to pay for it.

Last week, 39 activist organizations from across Canada, including Oxfam and UNICEF Canada, issued a statement bemoaning death from treatable diseases in the developing world. Their statement was designed to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the “Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa,” which is now known as the Canadian Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR).

The essence of the pledge was that legislation would make it easier to overturn the patent rights of major pharmaceutical companies in the name of helping the poor. This personally painless gesture followed changes in international trade laws that introduced “compulsory licensing” of medicines in cases of certain epidemic diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and malaria.

Not surprisingly, pharmaceutical companies fought such legislation, while generic manufacturers such as Canada’s Apotex tended to support it. But in fact it was a lousy idea to begin with. One might note that non-governmental organizations — who initially pressured the WTO to overturn intellectual property rights for drugs — were a good deal more enthusiastic about the initiative than poor countries themselves, which lack the means of safely distributing medicines. Big drug companies also resisted such moves because of concerns that corrupt governments would simply re-export cheap medicines. Finally, the initially gung-ho generic companies became less so — at least in private — when they realized that the NGOs didn’t want them to make any money either. Mr. Chrétien’s pledge has resulted in exactly one shipment of drugs from Canada in five years, to Rwanda.

Recently, following a battle between the repressive government of Thailand and Chicago-based Abbott Laboratories, the WTO, under NGO pressure, sided with Bangkok. A Thai government representative wrote that “Compulsory licensing is used to protect public health and save lives. Such matters should not be politicized.”

But expropriation is the most fundamental of political issues, with potentially disastrous long-term public health consequences. Medical patents — which give companies exclusive rights to sell new drugs for a limited period — are designed to encourage innovation. Make patents less secure and you will get less innovation. (Peter Foster, Financial Post)


No surprise for long-time readers: vCJD carrier risk 'overestimated'

Far fewer people may have the human form of mad cow disease in the UK than previously feared, Health Protection Agency researchers have said.

Previous calculations had suggested thousands of people could be incubating the disease.

But the new research, in the British Medical Journal, found no evidence of vCJD in 63,000 tonsil tissue samples.

The researchers said the results, reported in the British Medical Journal, were "reassuring".

A government advisor said the study suggested that the number of future cases would be low.

There has been much debate over how many people in the population might be harbouring vCJD. (BBC News)

The claims of looming catastrophe were always the idiot output of computer models programmed to produce idiot results (and more research funding). Note the similarities with the global warming farce: "We have no idea if any of this has the slightest foundation in fact but if we plug in these assumptions we can get really scary results!"


Hmm... must be excreting lots of potassium, or have diets deficient in it: Drinking large amounts of cola can cause paralysis, doctors warn

Drinking large amounts of cola every day can cause muscle problems, an irregular heartbeat and even paralysis, doctors have warned.

Chronic consumption of the drink can cause a condition called hypokalaemia, in which levels of potassium in the blood fall, in some patients. Symptoms can range from mild weakness and constipation to paralysis.

Researchers said that family doctors should look out for muscle problems in people who drink large amounts of cola, after finding that patients who drank between two and 10 litres a day developed the condition. (Daily Telegraph)


Monkey diet sheds light on origin of human obesity

SOME monkeys manage their diet in a similar way to humans, suggesting the origin of human obesity could go back earlier than previously thought, according to new research.

Annika Felton, who spent a year studying the individual feeding habits of 15 Peruvian spider monkeys as they moved around the canopy of the Bolivian rainforest, found the herbivore monkeys controlled their daily protein intake in a similar way to humans. The findings could shed new light on the ancient origins of human obesity.

Dr Felton found the monkeys, who travelled between 2 and 6 kilometres a day, had a consistent daily protein intake of between 11 and 12 grams regardless of the season or whether they ate fruit only or added higher-protein leaves and shoots to their diet.

"In the fruit season they can have a 100 per cent fruit diet and still get the protein they need but they do it by gorging themselves and eating [the low protein fruit] until they reach their protein target," she said.

Dr Felton said like humans, if a monkey's diet was poor in protein but rich in energy-dense carbohydrates and fats, monkeys will keep consuming food and energy until they reach their protein target. This can make for a high-energy diet, which can lead to weight gain. (The Age)


Study: Soda Tax To Make Little Dent On Obesity

That obesity has reached crisis proportions in the U.S. has been talked about ad nauseam. Still, people continue to get fatter.

To battle the nation’s bulges, the combat has begun—at the policy-making level. New York Governor David Patterson may have abandoned his attempt to levy an 18 percent tax on sugary drinks, but the idea has gained a greater momentum. The federal government is considering imposing a so-called “sin tax” on all sugary beverages to help defray the cost of extending health-insurance coverage to all Americans.

Supporters argue that the tax will act as a deterrent against excessive consumption of fizzy drinks. This in turn, will reduce obesity-induced health problems and shrink the government’s healthcare burden.

But that isn’t going to make people significantly skinnier, writes Josh Barro of The Tax Foundation, citing a study done by Emory University. The researchers estimate, he writes, “that a 1% increase in the soda tax rate decreases mean adult body mass index by 0.003. So, even if sodas faced a 58% tax rate (similar to the average effective tax rate on cigarettes) the authors estimate that mean BMI would fall by just 0.16 points. For contrast, mean American BMI has risen by 2.3 points between 1990 and 2006.” (Digital Journal)


New Zealand: Govt cuts off cash to obesity coalition

The Government has lopped another limb off Labour's "bureaucratic" public health tree, ending state funding for the Obesity Action Coalition.

The coalition, created under Labour in 2003 to promote measures to reduce obesity, confirmed yesterday it would close within months of its state contract ending on June 30, unless it could find new sources of cash. (New Zealand Herald)


Childhood: Food Allergies May Be Linked to Obesity

Reducing childhood obesity may have yet another benefit: lowering the incidence of food allergies.

Researchers studying more than 4,000 children ages 2 to 19 enrolled in a larger survey of childhood health found a significant association of overweight and obesity with allergic reactions to eggs, peanuts and other common allergens. For example, overweight and obese children were over 50 percent more likely than those of normal weight to be allergic to milk. Over all, the obese and overweight children were about 25 percent more likely to have one or more food allergies.

“While there’s nothing conclusive about our findings,” said Cindy M. Visness, the lead author, “this is one more motivation to try to prevent obesity in children.” Dr. Visness is an epidemiologist with Rho Inc., a company that provides research and statistical services for clinical trials.

The scientists also found an association between being overweight and levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation, which suggests that systemic inflammation may also play a role in the development of allergies. The authors acknowledge that their study, published in the May issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, does not prove that obesity causes allergies, and that other explanations for the association are possible. (New York Times)


Junkfood lowers children's IQ and other myths

Last week, more than 400 news stories in just two days reported that a study had found conclusive evidence that fast food makes children stupid and lowers their school tests scores. How many journalists do you think actually went to the original source and read the study?


How can we be so sure?

Because there is no published study. There was no ability for any educational or health professional, let alone a journalist, to examine the research and its methodology, data and interpretations. (Junkfood Science)


The new national school health policy — a look at the evidence

How much money does it take to buy your child’s educational curriculum?


That’s all it took to get curriculum standards for our nation’s schools published, as well as policies “to fight childhood obesity and promote healthy eating and physical activity” developed and mandated in schools by State Boards of Education… without any sound evidence that they are effective or safe. (Junkfood Science)


The Holy Grail Approach to Science

One can only wince at the razzmatazz and media hype that has surrounded ‘the coming out’ of our new debutante fossil, ‘Ida’, temporarily called ‘Darwinius masillae’ in honour of Charles Darwin and of the location of its discovery, namely Messel Pit, near to Darmstadt, Germany. I say “temporary” because not even its scientific name has yet been published legitimately according to the official rules of nomenclature. And, it may even come as a surprise to you to learn that the fossil was unearthed over 25 years ago, in 1983, and that it has been kept in a private collection for much of that time.

However, the most serious concern has been the attempt by much of our media, and, regrettably, even by some scientists, to refer to this fossil as ‘the missing link’ between today's higher primates (monkeys, apes, and humans) and more distant relatives. As Dr Chris Beard, renowned Curator of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, has most wisely argued, the over-egged publicity could well damage the true popularisation of science, especially if the ‘creature’ eventually turns out not to merit quite so much hype. It is unquestionably a beautiful fossil, dating from the Eocene Epoch [it is dated at 47 Ma, from the Lutetian Stage (48.6 ± 0.2 Ma to 40.4 ± 0.2 Ma)], and “a welcome new addition” to the world of early primates, but, as Dr. Beard adds, “I would be absolutely dumbfounded if it turns out to be a potential ancestor to humans." (Clamour Of The Times)


From Teflon To Tarzan, The '30s Proved Capitalism Never Sleeps

An intriguing aspect of today's economic mess is renewed interest in the Great Depression, the calamity that engulfed most of the world in the 1930s.

Since Jan. 1, 2008, the two-word soubriquet appeared in 753 New York Times articles, a fivefold increase over the previous 17 months.

To no one's surprise, nearly all this Great Depression talk centers on the darker side of down times — unemployment, falling prices, bank failures, foreclosures, dispirited stock markets, bread lines, soup kitchens and Hoovervilles.

The message rings loud and clear: We don't want to go there again.

Digging a bit deeper, though, we find there's more to the story of the U.S. economy in the 1930s. Telling it even briefly provides some messages relevant to what we're going through today.

The Great Depression took a fearsome toll, no doubt about it, but economic progress didn't grind to a complete halt. During the 1930s, some industries saw spectacular growth. Many households saw their living standards improve. Far-sighted entrepreneurs, undaunted by the hard times, introduced new products and created new companies. (W. Michael Cox, IBD)


<chuckle> It's not easy being green around eco-snobs

THERE is a new breed swanning around the inner city. You can see them at the farmers' markets in Northcote and St Kilda, at the organic grocery stores in Elwood and North Carlton. They are the eco-snobs, and although I am a vegetarian and do not drive a car, I fear them. Yes, they prioritise their life so they can afford organic groceries from a local farmer, but do they really have the right to look at the rest of us with such disdain?

Recently, I ventured into an organic grocery shop near my house in the inner north. I had expected to be greeted by smiling and welcoming hippie types; I had anticipated friendly employees ready and eager to share their vast knowledge about how to live the organic way of life. But instead of salutations and acceptance, I got scorn. Despite riding my bike to the organic shop, I soon discovered I was not as certifiably eco-friendly as I had imagined. At least not in the eyes of these people-unfriendly employees. (Wendy Zukerman, The Age)


The Crone finds things aren't as bad as we thought, which is apparently reason to worry: Gorillas and Now Leatherbacks

Last year, scientists were surprised to discover a large population of western lowland gorillas, a species close to extinction, in northern Congo Republic. Now there is news of another extraordinary find. In a multi-year survey of nesting sites along the coast of Gabon, scientists have found a startling number of leatherback turtles — possibly as many as 40,000 — enough perhaps to remove leatherbacks from the list of globally endangered species. This is very good news, especially coupled with the fact that most of the nesting sites were discovered within protected areas. (New York Times)


European Over-Fishing Began 1,000 Years Ago - Report

PARIS - Europeans started over-exploiting freshwater fish at least 1,000 years ago, according to historical studies that could help manage depleted modern fish stocks worldwide.

Whales teemed in waters off New Zealand in the 19th century and a now almost non-existent cod stock in the Gulf of Maine totalled a huge 70,000 tonnes a year in the mid-19th century, according to historical records.

Records reconstructed from everything from Russian monastery purchases to US schooner logs indicate that over-fishing has been happening in many parts of the world for centuries and that fish used to be more abundant, and bigger, than now.

"We see similar patterns of human impacts on the oceans pretty much everywhere, and in many cases real depletion," said Andy Rosenberg of the University of New Hampshire, a leader of a project called the History of Marine Animal Population (HMAP).

The findings, part of a 10-year Census of Marine Life due for completion in 2010, have widened from a few local anecdotes about fish abundance in past centuries, he told Reuters. He will chair a HMAP "Oceans Past" conference in Vancouver on May 26-28.

In Europe, a shift to eating marine fish species from locally caught freshwater fish happened about 1,000 years ago.

"The size of freshwater fish caught by Europeans started shrinking in medieval times ... likely caused by increased exploitation and pollution," an HMAP statement said, based on freshwater fish remains dumped in northwest Europe and England. (Reuters)


Artificial sweetener lingers in groundwater

The artificial sweetener acesulfame passes through our body into wastewater, survives treatment and accumulates in groundwater, Swiss researchers have found.

The researchers report in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, that they hope to use the sweetener as a marker to track the source of water pollution.

"Groundwater can be polluted by several sources, and it's sometimes not clear where that pollution comes from," says researcher, Dr Ignaz Buerge, an environmental chemist at the Swiss Federal Research Station in Schloss.

"We now have a marker of domestic wastewater which can be used in tracing pollution."

Contaminated groundwater is both an environmental and public health issue. Once run-off gets into the environment, though, it can be hard to know whether it came from industry, agricultural fields, traffic, homes or other sources.

Scientists have been looking for marker molecules that might help them track down and possibly reduce some of these inputs.

Previous candidates for markers have included caffeine, pharmaceuticals and components of personal care products.

Most of these chemicals, however, either break down quickly, appear in quantities too small to easily detect, or seep out of the water and into the soil. (Discovery News)


Pandering is not easy and appeasement never works: America's new green guru sparks anger over climate change U-turns

President Obama's energy secretary, Nobel prize-winner Steven Chu, arrives in Europe this week to discuss global warming. But his recent policy decisions on coal-fired power stations and hydrogen cars have angered many environmentalists (The Observer)


US CO2 goals 'to be compromised'

US Energy Secretary Steven Chu says the US will not be able to cut greenhouse emissions as much as it should due to domestic political opposition. (Roger Harrabin, BBC News)


INTERVIEW-US climate talks may skirt firm emission goals

OSLO, May 21 - U.S.-run talks on strategies for major nations to fight climate change may stop short of setting firm new targets and dates, such as 2050 goals for greenhouse gas emissions, Washington's top climate envoy said on Thursday.

Todd Stern said Washington wanted major economies including China, the European Union and Russia to seek more common ground on issues such as green technology, finance and emissions cuts at talks in Paris on May 25-26. (Reuters)


Ban says U.S. climate bill plan "not enough"

COPENHAGEN - A draft U.S. climate bill did not go far enough to cut greenhouse gases, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told Reuters on Sunday, three days after the plan won a key Congressional panel vote. (Reuters)


Waxman clueless about his cap&trade bill: “You’re asking me?!”

Democrat Henry Waxman, primary sponsor of the radical cap&trade/national eco-tax bill in the House, can’t answer basic questions about the legislation’s details. And his speed-reader wasn’t around to bring old Waxy up to speed in time to rescue him from this gasbaggy gaffe. (Michelle Malkin)


Waxman-Markey Climate Bill's Emissions "Cap" May Let U.S. Emissions Continue to Rise Through 2030

If fully utilized, the emissions "offset" provisions in the American Clean Energy and Security Act would allow continued business as usual growth in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions until 2030, leading one to wonder: where's the cap in the "cap" and trade? (Jesse Jenkins, Breakthrough)


Democrats may make trouble for climate bill

California Rep. Henry Waxman has spent most of the year catering to the concerns of other Democrats on his Energy and Commerce Committee.

Now it’s everyone else’s turn.

Waxman won a long-sought legislative victory Thursday night with committee approval of his sweeping climate-change bill. But the nimble chairman still has to get over some rocky terrain before the bill — or one like it — ever becomes law.

In the House, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel is threatening to sit on the legislation until his panel approves health care reform, and Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson is leading a rebellion by rural Democrats who believe the bill would create enormous new burdens for farmers and ranchers.

And the Senate is ... well, the Senate. (Politico)


House panels will make haste on climate bill, Hoyer says

Expect another fast-paced month of committee action on a sweeping global warming and energy bill ahead of possible floor debate in late June or early July, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said today.

"I think the speaker and I will both be urging the committee chairs to consider these quickly," the Maryland Democrat said in an interview, referring to eight panels with jurisdiction on a bill approved last night by the Energy and Commerce Committee. "Frankly, they've been considering them for some time now. It's not like it's a great surprise."

For most committees, the work will be swift, Hoyer said. "Their level of concern," he said, "is not high."

But there are two committees that want a piece of the debate: Ways and Means and Agriculture. Hoyer said he would work with the chairmen of both panels and did not expect much of a problem.

House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) wants significant concessions for farm-state lawmakers, and he threatens to bring between 40 and 45 House Democrats along to vote "no" on the bill if that does not happen. (Greenwire)


Pollution Politics and the Climate-Bill Giveaway

President Barack Obama was emphatic during his campaign and after his election: The best way to fight climate change is to cap carbon emissions and auction off tradable permits to emit carbon.

"If you're giving away carbon permits for free, then basically you're not really pricing the thing and it doesn't work -- or people can game the system in so many ways that it's not creating the incentive structures that we're looking for," he told the Business Roundtable in March.

His budget director, Peter Orszag, was blunter: "If you didn't auction the permit, it would represent the largest corporate welfare program that has ever been enacted in the history of the United States," he told the House Budget Committee in March.

This past week, Rep. Henry Waxman's House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a climate-change bill that gives away 85% of the emission permits until 2026. President Obama applauded, calling the bill "a historic leap."

Huh? (David Wessel, Wall Street Journal)


In the Economic Madhouse

The current percentage contribution of the UK to world carbon emissions = 1.87% [falling rapidly due to growth elsewhere in the world];

The most recent estimate by Ernst and Young of the cost of maintaining the UK energy supply while cutting UK carbon emissions by 34% by 2020 [the EU target] = £233.5 billion;

The cost of this per UK household, estimated at approx. 26 million households = up to £8,980 per household;

Approximate cost of forcing down the UK contribution to world carbon emissions by 0.1% = c. £38 billion/0.1% cut;

Predictable impact on climate change = Nil [the minuscule UK changes can have no predictable effect on climate change whatsoever, and they will be massively offset at the world scale, thus reducing the UK percentage contribution in any case]. (Clamour Of The Times)


Climate Change Act: Now the world faces its biggest ever bill

One of the mysteries of our time is how impossible it is to interest people in the mind-boggling sums cited by governments all over the world as the cost of the measures they wish to see taken to "stop climate change", observes Christopher Booker. (Daily Telegraph)


Big Business Says Needs Cash To Cut CO2 Emissions

COPENHAGEN - Industry needs financial backing to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change, business leaders told a climate conference on Monday, drawing criticism that they put profits before the environment.

The May 24-26 meeting of more than 500 business leaders will issue a call for governments to set clear long-term climate policies when they meet in Copenhagen in December to try to reach a new global climate pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

"The big constraint is funding," said Steve Lennon, managing director of South African utility Eskom, referring to the need to cut the cost of alternatives to fossil fuel energy.

"This is not about capability, it's about cost," said Tony Hayward, chief executive of British oil company BP. "The issue is the gap between the energy that is provided today and the energy that we're talking about and which today is more expensive." (Reuters)


Aarrgh!! CEOs Seek Global Deal on Climate - World Leaders Urged to Provide Guidance on Emission Targets

COPENHAGEN -- Chiefs of some of the world's largest companies are urging global leaders to cut a strong deal this December to curb pollution, saying they need certainty on emissions targets to be able to make long-term investment decisions.

The World Business Summit on Climate Change, which brought together more than 500 business leaders, is being seen as a crucial milestone on the road to December's meeting here, at which governments will try to hammer out a successor agreement to the United Nations' Kyoto Protocol. Many of them said a global deal would provide the regulatory certainty and price signals they need to invest in renewable fuels and low-carbon technologies.

Business leaders said they were working on a draft statement that would call for emissions to be cut by at least 50% by 2050, an ambitious target also endorsed by the U.N.

In a speech to the summit Sunday, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said that only a few businesses had made climate change a priority, with most sitting on the fence and others defending "the old order." "For those who are directly or implicitly lobbying against climate action, I have a clear message: your ideas are out-of-date and you are running out of time," he told delegates.

But in some respects the meeting only served to highlight the divisions in international business over climate change. Some companies have argued that setting deep emissions-reduction targets in the midst of an economic slowdown could jeopardize any recovery. (Guy Chazan, Wall Street Journal)

Hold the line ya dopey buggers! There is nothing good to come from this climate nonsense and it's collapsing under its own weight. Sit pat and the world wins.


France, Germany Urge More Flexible Climate Pact

PARIS - France and Germany suggested on Monday that rich nations should collectively guarantee deep cuts in greenhouse gases by 2020 while giving flexibility to laggards such as the United States to catch up later.

France said the idea, floated at talks among 17 top greenhouse gas emitters including China, United States, Russia and India, could help toward a new U.N. climate treaty due to be agreed at a meeting in Copenhagen in December.

"There can be more flexibility among us," French Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo told a news conference on the first day of the two-day talks among ministers, called by U.S. President Barack Obama to help work out a new climate treaty.

He said France and Germany reckoned that developed nations could collectively sign up to cut their overall emissions by 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 -- the level outlined by a panel of U.N. scientists to avoid the worst of global warming.

"There may be some who act faster and others who do more later," he said. A collective goal would undercut criticisms by developing nations, led by China and India, that the rich are not serious in fighting climate change. (Reuters)


Cash Seen Key To U.N. Climate Deal

PARIS - Tens of billions of dollars are likely to be needed to help poor nations curb greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change under a new U.N. treaty, European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said.

"Everybody agreed that additional money is needed and without money an agreement in Copenhagen will not be possible," Dimas told Reuters after the first day of a two-day meeting of 17 major greenhouse gas emitters in Paris on Monday. (Reuters)


Rudd climate envoy douses poor nations' aid hopes

DEVELOPING nations will have to "dampen" expectations of financial aid from rich nations for emissions reduction programs because of the financial crisis, Australia's chief climate change negotiator says.

In her first media interview, Louise Hand told The Age some claims by major developing countries for economic assistance were "unimaginable".

The next global agreement on climate change, which is to be finalised at a meeting in Copenhagen in December, will contain a financing program for developing nations, also known as the G77, to offset carbon emissions.

"Financing is a really tricky one because we all recognise it is a crucial part and it is not just a cynical thing thrown up by the G77," Ms Hand said.

"But the global financial crisis has to dampen the sense of expectation. And you have some quite soaring rhetoric at times from the G77 countries that just can't be fulfilled." (The Age)


The broken window fallacy -- destroying the economy creates "investment opportunity": Emissions scheme's $6bn boost to economy

THE Rudd Government's emissions trading scheme could deliver a massive investment surge that would add more than $6 billion a year to the economy, according to secret economic modelling work produced as Parliament considers the fate of controversial climate-change laws.

An internal report by National Australia Bank seen by The Sun-Herald suggests the emissions trading debate in Australia has been dominated by claims about the short-term costs, and scant attention has been paid to new investment opportunities.

"The average year-on-year investment created by the [Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme] could be up to 60 per cent greater than that committed for infrastructure in this year's budget," the report says.

It warns there has been "little consideration of the investment stimulus" that would be created as the economy becomes less greenhouse-intensive.

"This is unfortunate, as discussion of any costs should be balanced with an examination of the opportunities." (Josh Gordon, Sydney Morning Herald)


Al Gore’s New Marching Orders

The Climate Project began as a public education campaign. A foot soldier reports back from a recent summit, where Gore's environmental activists were issued a new directive.

Polling data leading up to last week’s summit of The Climate Project wasn’t exactly inspiring. The widely respected Pew Forum says the share of Americans who believe the Earth is warming is stuck at less than 50 percent, while Rasmussen Reports—often accused of Republican bias—shows that the number has fallen to 34 percent. Both polls have proven track records from the 2008 Presidential election.

As one of some 2,500 volunteers trained by former vice president Al Gore to present his Inconvenient Truth slideshow, I was discouraged to learn more than half of all Americans still deny the science that links human activities to global warming. Over the past two-and-half years, Gore’s volunteer army has delivered more than 50,000 slideshows to 75 million people worldwide in order to raise public awareness about climate change; I’ve given about 20 throughout western North Carolina. While the polls suggested failure, the mood at the summit—a reunion of 600 global warming foot soldiers in Nashville, TN, from May 14 through 16, 2009—was positively celebratory. As Peggy Lehmberg of Jasper, GA put it: “We’re doing this because we can’t possibly not do it.”

On the other hand, I spent much of the three-day gathering trying to reconcile these frustrating results with the self-congratulatory tone that filled Hutton Hotel’s sixth floor. Gore invited a number of global authorities on climate change to reinforce his message that we were responsible for the Congressional committee working on a bill at that very moment that would cap greenhouse gas emissions. “It seems incredible that we could change enough minds and put it on the agenda,” Gore told us. “It was really was An Inconvenient Truth that galvanized everything,” insisted Canada’s arch-environmentalist, David Suzuki. Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, declared us “missionaries,” who, “Collectively and individually can bring about change.” (James Hrynyshyn, Seed Magazine)


We Are Not Plebs, You See

So, Trudie Styler flies for the environment, while Robin McKie adores films and plays about ‘global warming’. Today, I offer the first ‘Scene’ of a new play (with deep apologies to Ibsen) that he and Trudie might well care to add to their ‘luvvies’ list: (Clamour Of The Times)


Comments On A New Paper “Seasonal Climate Change Impacts On Evapotranspiration, Precipitation Deficit by Harmsen Et Al. 2009″

There is a new paper which presents forecasts of regional climate decades into the future. Climate Science has been very critical of such papers since i) we have wait decades to validate the skill of the predictions, and ii) the multi-decadal global climate models have shown no skill in predicting regional climate events (such as drought) in the 20th century up to the present (e.g. see On the Credibility of Climate Predictions by Koutsoyiannis et al. 2008).

However, in contrast to many other such papers, this paper does recognize the serious limitations of this approach.

The paper is Harmsen, E.W., Miller, N.L., Schlegel, N.J., Gonzalez, J.E., 2009: Seasonal climate change impacts on evapotranspiration, precipitation deficit and crop yield in Puerto Rico. Agricultural Water Management, 96, issue 7, 1085 - 1095 (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)


Comments On “The Global Warming Debates: Stephen Schneider” In The May 24 2009 Issue Of The Examiner.Com By Thomas Fuller

There is part one of an interview with Professor Stephen Schneider regarding global warming and climate change issues published on on May 24 2009. It is titled “The global warming debates: Stephen Schneider” and is written by Thomas Fuller who is the San Francisco Policy Environmental Policy Examiner reporter. This interview is an excellent example of the failure to present a balanced presentation of the climate science issues.

The reporter asked the following question “More specifically, the principal skeptic websites (Watt’s Up With That, Climate Skeptic, Climate Audit and Climate Science) that I look at regularly seem to think they are winning the day. They think data is coming in that questions the established paradigm.”

First, the reporter erroneously presented my perspective as a “skeptic” website.

Steve Schneider, unfortunately, chose not only to fail to correct this error, but demeaned the scientific value of these websites (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)


Debate Question For Professor Steve Schneider and Colleagues

The weblog Comments On “The Global Warming Debates: Stephen Schneider” In The May 24 2009 Issue Of The Examiner.Com By Thomas Fuller included a statement by Professor Steve Schenider that If these guys think they are “winning” why don’t they try to take on face to face real climatologists at real meetings–not fake ideology shows like Heartland Institute–but with those with real knowledge–because they’d be slaughtered in public debate by Trenberth, Santer, Hansen, Oppenheimer, Allen, Mitchell, even little ol’ me. It’s easy to blog, easy to write op-eds in the Wall Street Journal.”

In the following, I propose a debate (on-line and in person) of the following:

  • The human influence is minimal and natural variations dominate climate variations on all time scale;
  • While natural variations are important, the human influence is significant and involves a diverse range of first-order climate forcings (including, but not limited to the human input of CO2);
  • The human influence is dominated by the emissions into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)


Response From Tom Fuller Of Examiner.Com

Yesterday, I posted a weblog with respect to an interview of Steve Schneider of Stanford University by Tom Fuller of (see). Mr Fuller replied last evening and his reply is posted below. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)


Is global warming caused by human activity?

A great number of facts and declarations are often presented with regard to global warming and Mankind's role in it. Most of these assertions are derived from the following clear and simple line of reasoning:

Fact: CO2 is a greenhouse gas whose presence in the atmosphere can cause Earth's temperature increase.

Fact: Since the beginning of the industrial age,

  1. human activity has produced large amounts of CO2
  2. atmospheric levels of CO2 have been increasing.
  3. global temperatures (on average) have been rising.

Based only on these facts, it is reasonable to conclude that post-industrial age human activity is the cause of recently observed global warming. It is also reasonable to speculate that continued production of CO2, at current or higher rates, will continue to drive the temperature still higher, perhaps to catastrophic results.

However, a conclusion based only on these facts is, in fact, a good example of how a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. To understand this, let's take a moment to consider how Science works and what is required of it to make a valid scientific conclusion. (Paul Drallos)


A Closer Look at Climate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is widely regarded in the media as the ultimate authority on climate change. Created by two divisions of the United Nations, and recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, its pronouncements are received as if they come down from Mount Olympus or Mount Sinai. The common presumption is that the IPCC has assembled the best scientific knowledge. Let’s take a closer look at this organization to see whether it merits such uncritical deference. (Mark W. Hendrickson, Townhall)


EDITORIAL: Uncertain climate - Throwing cold water on The Post's warming story

A person needn't be a buffoon or political hack to be skeptical of global warming. That would be news to The Washington Post's news desk, however.

A Post article on May 19 falsely reported that there is a "consensus" among scientists and a growing portion of the American public that human carbon emissions are causing a dangerous, long-term increase in worldwide temperatures. The facts, overwhelmingly, show no such consensus.

The Post's David A. Fahrenthold reported that Republican "warming skeptics" are becoming ever bolder on Capitol Hill even as "most" or a "consensus" of "scientists around the globe have rejected their main arguments - that the climate isn't clearly warming, that humans aren't responsible for it, or that the whole thing doesn't amount to a problem." He continued: "Public opinion has also shifted" in favor of warming's existence and importance.

The latter claim is risible. (Washington Times)


Northern Ireland Climate Change Committee hears Evidence "No Man-Made Global Warming"

On Thursday 21 May 2009, at Stormont, Belfast, Dutch scientist Hans Schreuder, who now lives in East Anglia, told the Northern Ireland Climate Change Committee that there is no evidence for global warming or climate change being man-made. Quoting from eminent scientists world-wide, Mr Schreuder dismissed the entire climate alarmist scenario. From his testimony, these quotes: (


Apparently not a joke: How desperate are these people?

Climate scientist Ben McNeil says if I use sunscreen I must believe in catastrophic man-made global warming.

True. Such is the state both of warming alarmism and our universities. (Andrew Bolt Blog)


Hmm... maybe McNeil's been overdosing on the sunscreen? Sunbathing 'could boost your intellect and prevent dementia'

Being a sun worshipper could make you cleverer in later life and ward off dementia, claim scientists. (Daily Telegraph)


How open is the bureau to cooling evidence?

When a senior Bureau of Meteorology official such as Darren Ray can belong to this kind of far-Left activist group, preach at this kind of far-Left activist conference and write this kind of far-Left alarmism on global warming, would he - or, indeed, his bureau - be really as open as a scientist should to evidence that the world has actually been cooling for at least seven years?

I might ask the same of Penny Whetton, the CSIRO’s climate change risk chief, whose former spouse and still housemate is a Greens candidate who calls her in for help. It was Whetton who said she “was really quite moved” by Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and claimed its ”scientific basis is very sound” - a year before a British judge found this global warming agit-prop was actually littered with nine inconvenient untruths. And that was being conservative. (Andrew Bolt Blog)


Shock news! Reef not dying!

How often has Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg warned us that the Great Barrier Reef is about to die any second now from man-made warming? Example:

...between 30 and 40 per cent of coral on Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef could die within a month.

And how often have his predictions proved wrong?

That hasn’t stopped him from being showered by millions and hailed by the ABC as a noble prophet. It hasn’t stopped his latest scare from being laughed out of court. But now, bit by bit, the evidence against his alarmist is building, even in the New Scientist:

In oceans around the world, heat-resistant algae are offering the prospect of a colourful future for corals. The reef-forming animals are upgrading their symbiotic algae so that they can survive the bleaching that occurs in waters warming under climate change.

“The most exciting thing was discovering live, healthy corals on reefs already as hot as the ocean is likely to get 100 years from now,” says Stephen Palumbi of Stanford University…

What’s more, during a heatwave on the Great Barrier Reef in 2006, an Australian team found that many corals that survived the hot period had swapped their algae for more heat-resistant ones… The heat-tolerant algae allow corals to survive 1.5 °C rises in temperature above their usual range. In some regions, this may be enough to survive through to the end of the century despite global warming. Palumbi says that other experiments in American Samoa suggest corals may have more tricks to survive in warmer seas. (Andrew Bolt Blog)

Nope: New Worries On Arctic Permafrost Thaw

OSLO - A rise in concentrations of a powerful greenhouse gas over the Arctic after a decade of stability is stirring worries about a possible thaw of vast stores trapped in permafrost, experts said.

Levels of methane in the atmosphere rose 0.6 percent in 2008, according to preliminary data from the Zeppelin station on a remote island in the Norwegian Arctic, after a similar 0.6 percent gain in 2007, Norwegian officials said.

The 2007 rise outpaced a global rise in methane of 0.34 percent to a new record high after levels had been stable for about a decade. World data for 2008 are not yet available.

"The biggest worry is that there are emissions from the permafrost, and also from wetlands in the northern region," said Catherine Lund Myhre, senior scientist at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research.

A thaw of permafrost, such as in Siberia or Canada, could release vast amounts of trapped greenhouse gases and in turn accelerate global warming. "There may be several causes for the rise. Currently it's not solved," she told Reuters.

Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas behind carbon dioxide, accounting for about 18 percent of the heat-trapping greenhouse effect from human activities that might trigger more heatwaves, floods or rising seas. (Reuters)

Actually Reuters failed to even mention the most important greenhouse gas, in fact they only one of real significance and that's water vapor. What makes it so significant is not merely its abundance, although there is more than sufficient water vapor to account for all of carbon dioxide's effect too, but that the precipitation efficiency of the atmosphere -- how quickly the atmosphere returns evaporated water to the surface -- controls net greenhouse effect. From a temperature perspective Earth really couldn't care less about a few more or less parts per billion of methane in the atmosphere.


Burping of the lambs blows roast off menu

GIVE up lamb roasts and save the planet. Government advisers are developing menus to combat climate change by cutting out “high carbon” food such as meat from sheep, whose burping poses a serious threat to the environment.

Out will go kebabs, greenhouse tomatoes and alcohol. Instead, diners will be encouraged to consume more potatoes and seasonal vegetables, as well as pork and chicken, which generate fewer carbon emissions.

“Changing our lifestyles, including our diets, is going to be one of the crucial elements in cutting carbon emissions,” said David Kennedy, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change.

Kennedy has stopped eating his favourite doner kebabs because they contain lamb.

A government-sponsored study into greenhouse gases found that producing 2.2lb of lamb released the equivalent of 37lb of carbon dioxide. (Jonathan Leake, Sunday Times)


“Shoddy Science on Animal Emissions”

A statement by Viv Forbes, Chairman of the Carbon Sense Coalition.
25th May 2009

Australian farmers pay livestock levies, research levies, marketing levies and taxes on every product they sell. These support an army of officials supposedly representing their interests – the Meat and Livestock Corporation, the Wool Corporation, CSIRO and the numerous state and federal agriculture departments and politicians. But not one of these has defended the industry from the obviously fraudulent claim that animal emissions play a significant part in causing global warming.

It does not take even high school science to understand that all animals are part of the natural carbon cycle that uses plants to take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and then uses solar energy to convert this to plant sugars and proteins. The carbon is then taken up by animals that live on plants, and finally returned to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and methane as these animals exhale, excrete or expire. Carbon dioxide is a harmless natural plant food. Methane is another harmless natural gas which is oxidised in the atmosphere to carbon dioxide and water. Then whole cycle starts again with no net addition to so-called greenhouse gases.

The phrase “ashes to ashes and dust to dust” expresses more understanding of the carbon cycle than all the failed computerised climate models that rate animal emissions as significant factors in climate change.

Animals and plants have always been cycling carbon dioxide and methane with no long term or permanent effect on climate. The wild herds of mammoths, aurochs, reindeer, wildebeest, zebra, bison, antelope, wild sheep, warthogs, horses, camels, rabbits and kangaroos have just been partially replaced by domesticated cattle, sheep, goats, buffalo and pigs. All are part of the natural world and none of them have any long term effect on the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

To threaten a carbon tax on animal emissions without recognising an equal credit for the carbon dioxide extracted by them from the atmosphere is shoddy science and shoddy accounting. Surely for all the taxes and levies they pay, farmers can get at least one government scientist, official or carbon accountant willing to state the obvious:

“Cattle and sheep are as green as grass and trees and should not be penalised by any future carbon tax on their emissions”.

Governments should state this clearly now and stop including animal emissions in their spurious carbon accounting.

For a longer article on Emissions and Agriculture see “The Great Carbon Dioxide Tax and Trading Game” at:

Viv Forbes
The Carbon Sense Coalition


Save the planet! Check termite farts


Attach “global warming” to any scientific topic, however obscure, and you have a grant:

The Australian Government’s effort to comprehensively account for all greenhouse gas emissions has now turned its attention to the tiniest of creatures - termites.

A CSIRO project in the Top End of the Northern Territory is measuring methane emissions from mound-building termites.

University of Melbourne Phd student Hizbullah Jamali says early results show termites emit very little when compared to animals like cows.

Would never have guessed. (Andrew Bolt Blog)


Being Green is not the job of the U.S. military

It was a momentous year. In 1973, CBS sold the Yankees to some guy named George Steinbrenner… the Supreme Court issued it Roe v. Wade ruling... America quit Vietnam.... President Nixon declared, “I am not a crook”… and, on Yom Kippur, the Arab states launched a short but vicious war against Israel.

The Arabs lost. In retaliation—and overnight—the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) doubled the price of oil.

Washington leapt into action and promptly made matters worse. New federal programs sprang into being. The best were ineffective; some were completely counterproductive. Spot shortages morphed into gas lines nationwide. Worst of all, price controls discouraged production. That led to shortages, which prompted calls for further government action to fix the shortages.

The lesson was clear: When governments trump markets, bad things happen.

Twenty-six years later, that lesson has been forgotten—at least by those whose hands control the levers of power in Washington. Government is itching to manipulate energy markets again, with laws and rules that will do everything from dictating what kinds of cars we can buy to taxing carbon emissions. The radical sheiks of 1973 have been replaced by rampaging Greens who preach that the only way to save Gaia is to drive up energy costs until we can’t afford to use fossil fuels.

The climate-change sheiks aren’t content with merely reshaping the nation’s energy and economic policies, however. Some in Washington want use the issue as an excuse to reshape national security as well. (James Carafano, Washington Examiner)


World oil markets over-supplied: Venezuela's oil minister

QUITO - Oil markets are currently oversupplied, but it is still too early to decide whether OPEC needs to cut production at its next meeting, Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said on Sunday.

He said OPEC's objective is to see oil prices at around $60 per barrel this year and at $70 per barrel next year.

Ecuadorean Oil Minister Derlis Palacios said later he saw no need for OPEC to cut output as world oil prices start to stabilize.

"I don't think it is necessary. Markets are more stable," Palacios told reporters.

OPEC members Saudi Arabia and Libya have said they believe oil prices will keep rising to eventually hit $75 a barrel, but acknowledged the weak world economy is keeping demand down. (Reuters)


The Next Oil Shock

A top expert tells Congress that oil will be around for a long time and high inventories and low prices are no excuse not to find more. Oil shock? How about a no-oil shock?

Be careful what you wish for, goes the old proverb. Well, as we all had hoped, energy prices have fallen — but only as part of the global decline in economic activity. This has been used as an excuse to further discourage exploration for and development of domestic oil resources. But if the economy does recover, that policy could provoke another recession.

Daniel Yergin, chairman of HIS-CERA, testified before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress last week that we have already experienced a "demand shock" with very high prices driven by rising global demand led by the economies of China and India.

We've also experienced what he calls a "recession shock" with flat or falling demand and low prices. But there might be another "long aftershock" in our future with high demand returning with a vengeance along with a global economic recovery, leaving those who buried their heads in the oil sands in the economic lurch.

The current recession has wiped out demand growth for the last four years. Oil prices have tumbled $100 a barrel or more from their high point. Spare production capacity is expected to be 6.5 million barrels per day through 2009. Anticipating a robust future, other countries such as China and Brazil have continued to look for oil while we continue to research . . . switch grass.

Interestingly, as Yergin notes, current spare capacity is equal to the combined total output of Iran and Venezuela — or the combined exports of Iran, Venezuela and Nigeria.

These are three of the most unstable nations on the earth, and two of them are implacably hostile to the U.S. This does not bode well for our economic and energy security.

While low prices and excess capacity sound good, they could vanish like the morning dew. The long lead times, up to a decade for a new field, needed to expand capacity and replenish supplies should compel us to drill like there's no tomorrow — for there might not be. (IBD)


Windy stories from Denmark

Greens leader Bob Brown says we should learn from Denmark and slash our wicked greenhouses gases just as it does:

Denmark’s wind generation industry already employs 9000 people, will nicet (sic) 10% of electricity demand by 2000, and is growing at 20% per annum. It’s a major export earner.

In fact, Denmark’s climate minister was in Australia last week, urging us to copy it, too. But then Terry McCrann checked the facts behind Denmark’s wind-powered fairy tale:

First, Denmark is only able to get as much as 30 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources, mostly wind, because it is hooked up to the grids of Sweden, Germany and Norway. Because when the wind don’t blow, it’s got to get power from somewhere… But the power from Sweden and Germany comes from nuclear and coal…

The second inconvenient truth is that with all its energy purity - for all that power from wind - Denmark has cut its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by all of . . .?

Well, actually, it hasn’t. The latest data from the European Energy Agency (EEA) - no evil right-wing climate sceptic - shows that in 2006 Denmark’s GHG emissions were 1.7 per cent above its base year emissions. Denmark has some work to do to get to the 21 per cent reduction over the 2008-12 period, it committed to under Kyoto.

And, of course, Danish householders must now pay the highest prices for power in Europe. (Andrew Bolt Blog)


Wind turbines 'killed goats' by depriving them of sleep

Late-night noise from spinning wind turbines on an outlying island of Taiwan may have killed 400 goats over the past three years by depriving them of sleep, an agricultural inspection official said on Thursday. (Daily Telegraph)


Rudd’s mad grab for power

KEVIN Rudd won’t even tell you what you already know about his record deficit.

So, no wonder he won’t tell you the truth about what you don’t know about the “largest solar power station in the world” that he vowed this week to build with another $1.36 billion of your money.

As in: it will produce only a fraction of the power Rudd claimed and cost more jobs than he said it would create.

As in: it will give us power more expensive than we can afford, to fix a problem that doesn’t actually exist.

As in: it’s the kind of project that a new study in Spain, now crippled by its own bid to be a world-beater in green power, warns is “terribly economically counterproductive”.

Oh, and as for Rudd’s boast that his will be the world’s “largest” solar project? Yet more of his spin, spin, spin.

You want a symbol of this Government’s mania for spin over substance? Here it is - and one day we’ll wonder how we could have fallen for such fakery. (Andrew Bolt, Herald Sun)


With Billions at Stake, Trying to Expand the Meaning of ‘Renewable Energy’

The definition of renewable energy seems clear cut: The sun continues to shine, so solar energy is renewable. The wind continues to blow, so wind turbines churn out renewable power.

But industries are now pushing to have a growing number of other technologies categorized as renewable — or at least as environmentally advantageous. They include nuclear power plants and the burning of garbage and even the waste from coal mines.

The lure of the renewable label is understandable. Federal tax breaks for renewable energy have been reauthorized, and quotas for renewable energy production have been set in 28 states, accompanied by extensive new grants, loans and other economic advantages. And legislation is moving through both houses of Congress to establish national quotas for renewable energy sources, including the climate bill passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday.

With billions of dollars at stake, legislators have been besieged by lobbyists eager to share in the wealth. (New York Times)


IEA: Recession Slams Clean-Energy Investment, Threatens Climate Targets

Ambitious targets to slash greenhouse-gas emissions over the next decade and the worst global economic downturn in 80 years are colliding in a big way.

One of the details from the United Nations climate change panel released on Wednesday is a plan that urges developed nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 45% by 2020 from 1990 levels—a much more ambitious target than Europe or the U.S. is even contemplating.

The details, reported by Japan’s Kyodo news agency, are part of a “negotiating text” released by the chairman of the U.N. panel ahead of countless meetings in the run up to the December Cophenhagen climate summit, meant to forge a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

The problem: The world is being urged to do more just as it has fewer means to do so. Case in point: The International Energy Agency says the recession is dealing a body blow to global efforts to rein in emissions. (Environmental Capital)


Getting Ethanol Right

Representative Collin Peterson is furious that the Environmental Protection Agency is doing its job. The Minnesota Democrat says the agency is trying to kill off the biofuels industry — to the dismay of the corn farmers and ethanol producers he represents. He has vowed to vote against any bill, including climate change legislation, that might require the involvement of the E.P.A.

What inspired this tirade was an E.P.A. draft proposal showing how it intended to measure the greenhouse gas emissions from corn ethanol and other renewable fuels. The agency said it will not make any final rules until it completes further research, but its preliminary findings were not flattering to corn ethanol. (New York Times)

Silly Crone -- ethanol doesn't just come in one "correct" variety -- you have your sippin' kind, your drinking kind, your barbeque swilling kind... and these are variously sourced from grains, fruits, tubers, cacti, palms... Ethanol is nuanced, it's "right" by timing and occasion -- what's "right" for a ball game is not "right" with dessert...


The Lithium Boom Is Coming: The New Bubble?

NEW YORK - New vehicle emission standards will likely be a boon for everything from aluminum to new plastics, but the producers of lithium -- a mineral used in batteries that power new generation vehicles -- could be the big winners.

But while the few public companies that mine lithium will likely see surging revenue, they will also face the pressure that comes with all booms -- making supply meet ever-tightening availability.

Companies that mine lithium should see a long-term boost to their business, analysts said, although there are questions about whether there is enough lithium for all customers.

And some energy experts see the irony in lithium batteries replacing carbon-burning gasoline, since they believe exploiting lithium could be just as destructive to the environment as pollution. (Reuters)


May 22, 2009

WHO's Chan "Will Not Shy Away" From Pandemic Alert

GENEVA - The head of the World Health Organization said Thursday she would not hesitate to raise the global pandemic alert to the top of the six-point scale if the new H1N1 flu is spreading globally.

But with pressure growing for her to factor in the severity of the newly-discovered disease as well as its spread, WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said she would take her time to weigh the options before sounding the alarm.

"When I see more signals coming from the virus itself or the spread of the disease, including severity, I would not shy away from making a very difficult decision. I would not compromise the world people's health," the former Hong Kong health director told officials at her United Nations agency's annual meeting. (Reuters)


UK's attempts to stop swine flu called flawed

LONDON — Flu experts are looking very closely at Britain — and some have decided that the U.K.'s swine flu-fighting tactics are seriously off the mark and may be hiding a much larger outbreak.

Since Britain has the most confirmed swine flu cases in Europe, how the outbreak develops here will have a significant influence on whether the World Health Organization decides to raise its flu alert to the highest level — a pandemic, or global epidemic.

British authorities have relied on an aggressive strategy to try to snuff out the virus before it spreads, blanketing suspect cases and anyone connected to them with the antiviral medication Tamiflu.

But experts criticize the strategy for wasting valuable medicine and say there's little point trying to contain swine flu, which the WHO says is at least as infectious as regular flu.

"Containment using Tamiflu is a flawed concept," said Michael Osterholm, a flu expert at the University of Minnesota. "It's like trying to maintain the integrity of your submarine with screen doors." (AP)


Some Older People May Be Immune to Swine Flu - Past Exposure to Other Variants of H1N1 May Be Protective, CDC Says

Older adults might have some pre-existing immunity to H1N1 swine flu, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lab tests showed that some adults, particularly those older than 60, had antibodies against the new strain, but Dr. Anne Schuchat of the CDC cautioned against reading too much into the finding.

"We don't know yet what that will mean in terms of actual immunity or clinical protection," she said on a conference call with reporters.

As the worldwide H1N1 flu outbreak progresses, evidence continues to point to a disproportionate number of infections in school-age children and younger adults.

Of the swine flu cases reported to the CDC, 64 percent are in 5- to 24-year-olds and just 1 percent are in individuals older than 65. That's an unusual pattern compared with seasonal influenza, which primarily affects the very young or old.

This has led to speculation that older individuals have at least some degree of pre-existing immunity to swine flu, possibly from years of immunization with seasonal flu vaccines, which contain different H1N1 viruses than the current outbreak strain, or previous infection. (ABC News)


Mexico City ends swine flu alert, no cases in week

MEXICO CITY — Mexico City lowered its swine flu alert level from yellow to green on Thursday, and the mayor said "we can relax" now that there have been no new infections for a week.

Mayor Marcelo Ebrard said the change means the risk of contagion is low, the situation is under control and the images of countless people wearing blue surgical masks in cars, sidewalks, restaurants and theaters can be consigned to history.

"There's no longer any need" to wear masks, Ebrard said. "Now you can come to the city without any risk." (AP)


With Flu Fears Rising, Japan Is in Crisis Mode

KOBE, JAPAN — It all began at a high school volleyball tournament on May 2 — or so this Japanese port city suspects.

Soon, volleyball players across Kobe were falling prey to swine flu, as early cases in a wider outbreak that has made Japan the worst-hit country outside North America in the global epidemic.

On Thursday, confirmed cases of the H1N1 flu virus in Japan hit 279, centered on Kobe and the neighboring city of Osaka, both in western Japan. As in most other places in the world, the bouts of flu here have been mild, and there have been no deaths. Still, Japan is in full-blown crisis mode: more than 4,800 schools have been shut down in the region, medical services are swamped, and testing labs are working round the clock. (New York Times)


Flu Closings Failing to Keep Schoolchildren at Home

Karla Rodriguez swept the sidewalk Wednesday morning outside the Glamour Hair Salon in Corona, Queens. Then Karla, a third grader at Public School 19 in Corona, took a seat in the back of the store, where her mother was shampooing a customer’s hair, and began playing Super Mario Brothers. “She’s bored here,” said her mother, Rosario Hernandez.

Jonathan Guerrero, who is 13, circled around a park on his scooter for hours, stopping only for ice cream. Marlene Telalyan, 14, spent an afternoon swanning around the Queens Center Mall with a pack of her girlfriends.

“My mom told me not to go out,” she proclaimed, giggling. “Too bad she’s at work and can’t see me.”

With swine flu still shuttering schools and more than 15,000 students granted an unexpected week off, they are scattering across Queens this week like new visitors to a planet called Weekday, somewhere between a snow day and a full summer vacation. Students have popped up among adults in stores, parks and libraries, places they are often forbidden to visit unsupervised.

At libraries in Queens, staff members normally accustomed to questioning truants have relaxed their rules to accommodate a sudden influx of children.

“It’s a weird week,” said Joanne King, a library spokeswoman. “As long as they’re not causing any trouble, we’ll let them stay there.”

But their newfound freedom was accompanied by some fear, as both students and parents worried about the flu’s continuing to spread.

“Right now, it’s like a panic,” said Rachel Park, the director of the Immanuel Genius Educational Center, a day care center in Flushing. She normally does not take children older than 5 and could not accommodate any walk-ins. “Most of the parents have to work, and they can’t take their kids with them,” Ms. Park said. “So they are keeping the kids at home alone.”

Thirty public and private schools have closed in the last week, including three more Queens public schools and a South Bronx charter high school on Wednesday, because of unusually high level of “influenza-like illness.” (New York Times)


Should The FDA Be Given Control Over Tobacco Ads, Products?

A U.S. Senate panel approved legislation that would allow the Food and Drug Administration to have oversight of the advertising and manufacturing of tobacco products.

The bill is to be voted on next week by the Senate. A similar bill went through the House of Representatives in April. The House and Senate would review any variations before sending it to President Barack Obama, who approves the bill.

The bill would give the FDA power over the multibillion-dollar tobacco business to prohibit advertising to kids, outline warnings and manage nicotine content.

"All of us believe the time has come to act to protect our nation's children ... Every day we delay another 3,000, 4,000 children begin to smoke," stated Senator Christopher Dodd to Reuters. (redOrbit)


FDA Should Oversee Tobacco, Senate Panel Says

The Food and Drug Administration should be given authority to regulate the advertising and marketing of cigarettes and other tobacco products, a U.S. Senate panel said.

If the Senate and the House formally adopt legislation that gains the approval of President Barack Obama, who is said to support the idea, the FDA would have new power over big tobacco, including the ability to restrict advertising of cigarettes to children, control nicotine content, and order changes to cigarette package warnings. (Attorney At law)


Treat obese like smokers, says expert

ADVERTISING bans, taxes on unhealthy products and junk food free zones are needed to get Australians to lose weight, an obesity expert says.

The Federal Government must abandon its current policies and take up a hardline campaign like those used against cigarettes and drink driving, Deakin University’s Professor Boyd Swinburn says.

“The Government action has been all about soft policies such as education programs and promoting healthy lifestyles, but that is not going to cut the mustard anymore,” Professor Swinburn said.

“They have to look to how other epidemics, like road injuries and tobacco, have been handled and almost always it has been through taxes and regulation.” (


New direction needed for obesity research, Deakin health expert claims

Most of the current obesity research is not proving helpful in finding solutions to the growing international epidemic, according to a Deakin University public health expert.

Professor Boyd Swinburn believes that research funding would be better directed at testing possible solutions rather than continuing to unpick what is causing the rise in obesity.

"It seems counter intuitive, but knowing the causes or mechanisms for weight gain does not always help with identifying the solutions," he said. (Research Australia)


NASS reinstates fruit pesticide survey - Agricultural and environmental groups both rely on data

The USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service has decided to reinstate its pesticide-use survey for fruits.

When the survey was discontinued in April 2007, the decision was met with opposition from agricultural and environmental groups, said Joe Reilly, associate administrator of NASS in Washington, D.C.

"It was found very quickly to be the only source of unbiased information," Reilly said.

The survey had tracked chemical usage in agriculture since 1990.

It was cut due to budgetary constraints, but the subsequent outcry convinced the agency to restore the program for fruits, Reilly said.

USDA wants to revive the full pesticide survey, which covered several crops on a rotating basis, Reilly said. (Capital Press)


The attacks on useful and protective compounds are relentless: Ventura County group joins suit over state's pesticide rules

A coalition of environmental and public health groups sued the California Department of Pesticide Regulation this week claiming the agency violated environmental laws when it implemented new regulations concerning pesticides that create pollution.

The groups, including Ventura-based Community and Children’s Advocates Against Pesticide Poisoning, claim among other things that DPR was supposed to cap limits on certain pesticides immediately but instead pushed the date until 2011.

“One of the things that is frustrating about DPR is their moving targets,” said Alegría De La Cruz, an attorney with the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment, which is representing the groups.

Emissions from pesticides used on crops such as strawberries can lead to the creation of smog. Environmentalists and farmers have been engaged in a battle for years about the use of the pesticides. Farmers say they have taken great strides to reduce the emissions.

DPR said it has done what is required.

“The revised regulations, which took effect April 20, improve air quality while balancing the ability of farmers to implement the changes necessary to reduce pesticide emissions,” spokeswoman Lea Brooks said. (Ventura County Star)


Report Shows Air Quality Improved During Bush Administration

A recent report from a Washington think tank shows that levels of numerous gases linked with air pollution, like carbon monoxide, have fallen off since 2001 and air quality in the U.S. has improved significantly over the last decade.

As the Obama administration considers further steps to fight air pollution, a recent report from a Washington think tank shows that air quality in the United States has improved significantly over the last decade.

The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research analyzed data collected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and concluded that levels of numerous gases linked with air pollution have fallen off since 2001.

Among the findings: Carbon monoxide decreased by 39 percent, ozone by 6 percent, and sulfur dioxide by 32 percent.

"Pick any category you want and pollution levels are generally lower than they were seven years ago," said Steven Hayward, the policy analyst who authored the report, titled "Index of Leading Environmental Indicators," for the conservative think tank.

"(Environmental groups) said air pollution was out of control, but this was always more about politics than it was fact," Hayward said.

Environmental groups agree that tremendous progress has been made since the 1980s, when cities like Houston and Los Angeles were thick with smog and acid rain devastated lakes and forests across the U.S.

But they add that the progress reflects "strong legislation," and they say the nation needs more of it. (James Osborne,


Battle over pollution credits sparks legislative, legal fight

The dispute between environmentalists and the South Coast Air Quality Management District has been overshadowed by public attention to the state budget meltdown, the special election and new federal fuel-economy standards. But it is developing into one of the year’s most important air-quality battles, pitting hundreds of local businesses and governments against environmentalists.

A legal battle over halting air-quality credits in the smoggy Los Angeles basin that ended in a court victory for environmentalists has shifted to the state Capitol.

The environmentalists’ core contention: The AQMD has banked and distributed emissions credits through a system that favors major polluters. The district rejects the allegation.

At stake are $4 billion, 65,000 jobs and hundreds of stalled projects, according to the district, which dispensed the permits. (Capitol Weekly)


Hospitals brace for shortage of medical isotopes

CHICAGO - Makers of medical isotopes used in scores of diagnostic imaging tests are scrambling to find new suppliers after Canadian health officials temporarily closed a nuclear reactor last week that produces a third of the world's supply.

Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd shut down its 50-year-old reactor at Chalk River, Ontario, after a small leak of heavy water, used as part of the nuclear reaction.

It expects the reactor to remain out of operation for more than a month but some analysts think it could be months.

Only five nuclear reactors in the world produce molybdenum-99 or Mo-99, which is used in diagnostic tests for cancer, heart disease and a host of other ills.

"It's going to cause a shortage and it's going to cause a price rise. Those are unavoidable negative consequences," Stephen Brozak, president of WBB Securities in New Jersey, said in a telephone interview.

For patients in North America, the shutdown will have a dramatic impact, said Robert Atcher, president of the Society of Nuclear Medicine.

"That reactor supplies about half of the clinics and hospitals in the United States," he said. "About 8 million of our studies are imperiled because that reactor is offline." (Reuters)


Even senile old crones can have moments of lucidity: Follow the Science on Yucca

The administration’s budget for the Energy Department raises a disturbing question. Is President Obama, who has pledged to restore science to its rightful place in decision making, now prepared to curtail the scientific analyses needed to determine whether a proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada would be safe to build?

It is no secret that the president and the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, who hails from Nevada, want to close down the Yucca Mountain project, which excites intense opposition in the state. The administration has proposed a budget for fiscal year 2010 that would eliminate all money for further development of the site, and Mr. Reid has pronounced the project dead.

But the administration at least claimed that it would supply enough money for the Energy Department to complete the process of seeking a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, if only to gain useful knowledge about nuclear waste disposal. Unfortunately, the budget released this month looks as if it will fall well short of the amount needed.

Money for the Yucca Mountain project, nearly all of which is used to support the licensing application, would fall from $288.4 million in 2009, the current year, to $196.8 million in 2010, a precipitous drop. And the agency intends to rely heavily on its own staff personnel rather than on more costly outside consultants from the national laboratories or private contractors. There is great danger that the department will lack the expertise needed to answer tough technical questions that emerge during the regulatory commission’s reviews.

These ramp-downs are occurring at the worst time. The regulatory commission is just beginning its licensing process, which is scheduled to take three to four years, and its relevant boards have ruled that at least eight intervenors can raise some 300 issues for technical challenges, an unusually high number. The cutbacks increase the odds that the agency will stumble in trying to justify a license — or that the hearings and evaluations won’t be completed within statutory deadlines.

Meanwhile, the administration, Congressional leaders and the nuclear industry are calling for a blue-ribbon panel to study alternative ways to dispose of nuclear waste. Surely it would be useful for any such panel to know whether the Yucca Mountain project was sound or flawed.

Before approving this truncated budget, Congress needs to ensure that it contains enough money to sustain a genuine licensing effort. We have no idea whether Yucca Mountain would be a suitable burial ground for nuclear wastes. But after the government has labored for more than two decades and spent almost $10 billion to get the site ready for licensing hearings, it would be foolish not to complete the process with a good-faith evaluation. Are Mr. Obama and Mr. Reid afraid of what the science might tell them? (New York Times)


Terminating the Terminator

Californians said "no" loud and clear; "no" to new taxes, "no" to the Terminator, and "no" to Gen. Colin Powell, who said that Americans simply lust after paying new taxes to finance their pet government programs.

"The hell we do," the majority of tax-weary Californians replied at the ballot box. (Michael Reagan, Townhall)


"Alien" Pests Wreak Vast Economic Damage: U.N.

OSLO - Many governments are ignoring alien invasive species such as weeds or rats that may be causing $1.4 trillion damage a year to the world economy, the head of the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) said on Friday.

"Time to get tough on alien species," UNEP head Achim Steiner wrote of insects, fungi, algae and other plants or animals often taken unwittingly by humans to new habitats, for instance in grain exports or in ships' ballast water.

Alien species may be "one of the least known threats to biodiversity and economies," he wrote in a statement to mark International Biological Diversity Day on May 22. (Reuters)


Brazil Regulator Approves Second Monsanto GMO Cotton Seed

SAO PAULO - Brazil's biosafety regulator CTNBio has approved the use of Monsanto's Bollgard 2 genetically modified cotton seed, the company said on Thursday.

The pest-resistant cotton variety must still be approved by Brazil's Agriculture Ministry before it can be planted in the country.

U.S.-based Monsanto has a total of six genetically modified varieties of cotton, soybeans and corn already approved for commercial planting in Brazil. (Reuters)


The Climate-Industrial Complex - Some businesses see nothing but profits in the green movement.

Some business leaders are cozying up with politicians and scientists to demand swift, drastic action on global warming. This is a new twist on a very old practice: companies using public policy to line their own pockets.

The tight relationship between the groups echoes the relationship among weapons makers, researchers and the U.S. military during the Cold War. President Dwight Eisenhower famously warned about the might of the "military-industrial complex," cautioning that "the potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist." He worried that "there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties."

This is certainly true of climate change. We are told that very expensive carbon regulations are the only way to respond to global warming, despite ample evidence that this approach does not pass a basic cost-benefit test. We must ask whether a "climate-industrial complex" is emerging, pressing taxpayers to fork over money to please those who stand to gain.

This phenomenon will be on display at the World Business Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen this weekend. The organizers -- the Copenhagen Climate Council -- hope to push political leaders into more drastic promises when they negotiate the Kyoto Protocol's replacement in December.

The opening keynote address is to be delivered by Al Gore, who actually represents all three groups: He is a politician, a campaigner and the chair of a green private-equity firm invested in products that a climate-scared world would buy.

Naturally, many CEOs are genuinely concerned about global warming. But many of the most vocal stand to profit from carbon regulations. The term used by economists for their behavior is "rent-seeking." (Bjorn Lomborg, Wall Street Journal)


The gorebull warming deception is working then: Americans support climate action: Polls

More than three-quarters of Americans want to see action taken to cut US greenhouse gas emissions, new opinion polls show.

The first, taken in March by the Mellman Group on behalf of the Pew Environmental Center, found 81 per cent of surveyed eligible voters agreed it is important or very important for “the United States to take action now to reduce its emission of gases like CO2 that cause global warming”.

A similar proportion, 77 per cent, said they favoured Congressional action such as the capping and trading of emissions currently being debated. Only 17 per cent said such action is not important. There was stronger support for action among Democrat voters (94 per cent) but there was a majority among Republican voters too (64 per cent).

When presented with the arguments against a cap and trade scheme, support for action fell but remained in the majority at 62 per cent. Those polled were told that opponents see the current cap and trade plan in Congress as no more than an energy tax of $1300 a year on the average American family, raising consumer prices and killing jobs.

Almost half, 44 per cent, would like to see government cap-and-trade revenues split equally between clean energy research & development and tax cuts to offset higher energy costs. The poll results also show voters accept that investing in clean energy is good for the economy - 59 per cent of voters believe efforts to tackle global warming will create new jobs. (Carbon Positive)


Cap-and-trade legislation to include ‘Global Warming Gestapo’

The House Energy and Commerce Committee continued its ongoing debate and discussion about the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (HR 2454). The act would cut greenhouse emissions by 17 percent over the next 11 years and by 83 percent by midcentury in an attempt to slow manmade climate change.

In an interesting turn of events during the debate yesterday, Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA) issued a warning saying, “we’re setting up a global warming Gestapo.” The comment was made in reference to Section 201 of the act which establishes a national building code. Under that code, the Secretary of Energy would have the power to assess civil penalties for buildings that do not meet the new code. (Tony Hake, Denver Weather Examiner)


House panel nears global warming vote

WASHINGTON — Democrats were close Thursday to pushing through a sharply divided House committee a sweeping global warming bill that would impose the first nationwide limits on greenhouse gases.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee was expected to take a final vote on the legislation later Thursday after considering dozens of changes over the past three days.

Republicans repeatedly sought to either kill or weaken the bill, but were rebuffed time and again in mostly party-line votes.

The legislation would require factories, refineries and power plants to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by roughly 80 percent by mid-century and would help wean the country off fossil fuels by forcing energy conservation and increased use of renewable energy. (AP)


Democrats backing away from cap and trade

U.S. President Barack Obama's cap and trade proposal is in trouble with Democrats in Congress.

The most recent Democratic deserter is the chairman of the powerful Agriculture Committee, Colin Peterson (D: Minn). Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) called cap-and-trade "the most significant revenue-generating proposal of our time."

Even scientists like James Hansen and John Lovelock - the leading climate alarmists in the world - oppose the cap and trade legislation. In their view, the cap-and-trade approach is both "ineffectual" and "verging on a gigantic scam." (Stephen Murgatroyd, Telegraph-Journal)


House panel advances global warming bill

WASHINGTON— Legislation imposing the first nationwide limits on the pollution blamed for global warming advanced in the House late Thursday, clearing a key committee despite strong Republican opposition.

The Energy and Commerce Committee approved the sweeping climate bill 33-25 after repeatedly turning back GOP attempts to kill or weaken the measure during four days of debate.

The panel's action increases the likelihood that the full House for the first time will address broad legislation to tackle climate change later this year. The Senate has yet to take up the issue.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the panel's chairman, said the bill represents "decisive and historic action" to increase America's energy security and deal with global warming. "When this bill is enacted into law, we will break our dependence on foreign oil, make our nation the world leader in clean energy jobs and technology, and cut global-warming pollution," said Waxman.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has promised to press for passage of climate legislation this year, but prospects remain uncertain, especially in the Senate. President Barack Obama has told Congress he too wants a bill this year, ahead of international climate talks in December. (AP)


Ambitious Energy and Climate Bill Clears a House Hurdle, but Others Remain

WASHINGTON — The House Energy and Commerce Committee, splitting largely along party lines, approved on Thursday the most ambitious energy and global warming legislation ever debated in Congress.

The bill’s passage, on a 33-to-25 vote, served as a bookend to a week that began with President Obama’s announcing a deal with auto manufacturers to impose tough new mileage and emissions standards for all cars and trucks sold in the United States starting in 2012.

With progress on this legislation and his own executive actions, Mr. Obama is assembling the pieces of a credible American package to take to Copenhagen later this year as United Nations negotiators gather for talks on a new global warming treaty.

But the energy legislation passed on Thursday still faces a tortuous path through several more House committees before it can be brought up for a vote later this year. In the Senate, leaders say they lack the votes to pass the bill as it is now written. (New York Times)


House Energy Committee Approves Landmark Climate Bill

WASHINGTON -- A landmark proposal to curb U.S. greenhouse gas emissions cleared a key congressional panel, bolstering prospects that the government will put a price on carbon for the first time and portending a major shift in how the country uses energy. At the same time, China's government asserted a new, tougher stance in the face of pressure to cut its emissions, underscoring the challenge that the Obama administration will face in trying to forge a global deal to combat climate change. (Wall Street Journal)


Weak medicine - Compromise has enfeebled America’s cap-and-trade bill. A carbon tax would be better

FOR those who believe that climate change is a serious problem, the decisions that America makes now are of momentous importance. In Copenhagen in December, the world will decide whether to reinvigorate or abandon its effort to avert serious climate change, and what America does between now and then will in large part determine the outcome. So the fact that Barack Obama clearly intends to turn America from being a laggard into a leader in this task is therefore encouraging.

Good intentions, however, are not enough. Moves in Washington over the past week have indicated the shape of America’s policy. And although impressively far-sighted by the standards of the Bush era, it looks disappointing when measured alongside what is probably needed to insure against the real-though-hard-to-quantify threat of serious climate change. (The Economist)


Cap and trade, with handouts and loopholes

The first climate-change bill with a chance of passing is weaker and worse than expected

Illustration by KAL

AL GORE calls it “one of the most important pieces of legislation ever introduced in Congress”. Joe Barton, a Republican congressman and global-warming sceptic, says it will put the American economy in a straitjacket. For something that practically no one has read, the American Clean Energy and Security Act provokes heated debate. It would establish a cap-and-trade system for curbing carbon-dioxide emissions, thus transforming the way Americans use energy.

President Barack Obama has long argued that America should join Europe in regulating planet-cooking carbon. But he has left the details to Congress. And the negotiations to craft a bill that might actually pass have not been pretty. The most straightforward and efficient approach to reducing carbon emissions—a carbon tax—was never seriously considered. Voters do not like to hear the word “tax” unless it is followed by the word “cut”.

So Mr Obama proposed something very similar to a carbon tax, albeit slightly more cumbersome. Industries that emit carbon dioxide would have to buy permits to do so. A fixed number of permits would be auctioned each year. The permits would be tradable, so firms that found ways to emit less than they were entitled to could sell some of their permits to others. The system would motivate everyone to reduce emissions in the most cost-effective way. It would raise energy prices, which is the point, but it would also raise hundreds of billions of dollars, most of which Mr Obama planned to give back to voters. Alas, that plan looks doomed. (The Economist)


EU, U.S. Plans Allow Most Carbon Cuts To Be Exported

LONDON - The United States and European Union can pay to transfer to developing countries more than three-quarters of proposed carbon cuts over the next decade, draft and approved rules show.

That reinforces how rich countries may agree in December to tough targets to beat climate change, under a new treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, but avoid costly action themselves.

Europe five months ago hailed as ground-breaking an agreement to cut the 27-nation bloc's emissions by at least a fifth by 2020 compared with 1990 levels.

But analysts say that the fine print of the complex agreement allows EU countries and companies to pay developing countries to make about 75 percent of the pledged emissions cuts from 2008-2020.

Carbon caps required under a draft U.S. climate bill, expected to pass its first legislative hurdle on Thursday [ID:nN21275973], can be met entirely with imported offsets until after 2020, analysts say. The scheme would run from 2012.

"This level of offsets is too generous," said Rachel Cleetus, climate economist at the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists, referring to the proposed U.S. bill drafted by Henry Waxman and Edward Markey. (Reuters)


Cap and Trade for Dummies - What Everyone Should Know

CAP AND TRADE, noun, [kap-and-treyd] — An environmental policy in which the government sets a “cap” on carbon dioxide emissions and then creates a financial market in which companies can trade permits to emit those gas.

A recent Rasmussen Reports survey found that over 75 percent of Americans don’t understand cap-and-trade. Given the high stakes of climate change, it’s imperative that we educate the public to clarify any points of confusion. To do that, the U.S. Climate Task Force has compiled the following ten-step guide to understanding the current federal climate change policy debate. (U.S. Climate Task Force)


Obama walks tightrope on climate change

WASHINGTON - U.S. President Barack Obama is walking a tightrope on climate change -- and so far appears to be achieving a delicate balance.

At Obama's urging, Congress is working on a bill to curb greenhouse gas emissions with a cap-and-trade system. The developed world is again looking to the United States to lead on the climate issue after eight years of Washington sitting on the sidelines.

The president is balancing those moves with efforts to address concerns of U.S. business and win support, including plans to give away most of the pollution permits under the program, rather than auction them as he first wanted.

Some major American corporations -- Duke Energy and Johnson & Johnson -- have come out for cap and trade

But despite these symbolic advances, nothing has really changed in U.S. climate policy so far except rhetoric. That has unsettled many in the U.S. business community, which may yet elbow Obama off the highwire. (Reuters)


Waxman-Markey: A completely futile legislative exercise

As we have discussed here, and as has been discussed elsewhere, it is straightforward to determine the likely climate impact from legislation aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Yesterday we showed how little climate impact the proposed national fuel efficiency standards would have, today we turn our attention to the climate impact of the proposed Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act—which despite the name, is squarely aimed at attempting to mitigate future global climate change.

What we are interested in is this: if the U.S. is successful in meeting the greenhouse gas emissions reductions as prescribed in the Waxman-Markey legislation (ultimately a 83% reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050), how much global warming would be averted? (WCR)


Good News: Last Year Saw the Steepest Drop in U.S. Carbon Emissions Since 1982

The bad news is that it took the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression to achieve the 2.8 percent reduction. As the Washington Post reports:

Environmentalists and climate experts said that the new figures shouldn't deter Congress from adopting measures to drive emissions down further. And the EIA estimated that total energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide in 2008 were still about 15.9 percent higher than in 1990, a benchmark year in international negotiations over climate regulations.

"This isn't a big shock given last year's economic downturn," said Frank O'Donnell, head of Clean Air Watch. "The real issue going forward is how to make sure emissions go down as the economy starts growing again . . . . We don't want a sick economy to be the solution to a sick planet."

Last year the economy grew at a sluggish 1.1 percent rate and total U.S. energy consumption slid by 2.2 percent.

Amusingly, the Washington Times quotes liberal Center for American Progress director of climate strategy Daniel Weiss as saying:

"If opponents of the House climate-change bill want to reduce pollution through unemployment and the economic decline, then that's their choice."

Evidently, Weiss believes that higher energy prices produced by the proposed cap-and-trade carbon rationing will somehow boost economic growth. It may be necessary to reduce carbon emissions because the costs of man-made global warming may outweigh the benefits of emitting greenhouse gases, but for Pete's sake, will proponents please stop pretending that carbon rationing won't increase the price of energy and the prices products or services that use energy. 

Whole Post article here. Whole WashTimes article here
(Ronald Bailey, Reason)


Oh well played, sir! China Tells Rich Nations To Cut Emissions By 40 Percent

BEIJING - Rich nations should cut their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels as part of a new global climate change pact, China said on Thursday, spelling out its stance ahead of negotiations.

The pact must ensure wealthy nations "take on quantified targets to drastically reduce emissions," said the statement, issued by the National Development and Reform Commission (, which steers Chinese climate change policy.

Developed countries should also give 0.5 to 1.0 percent of their annual economic worth to help other nations cope with global warming and curtail greenhouse gas emissions, China said in the document, laying down demands for a conference in Copenhagen in December meant to seal a new climate change pact. (Reuters)


NOAA predicts 'near-normal' Atlantic hurricane season

ARLINGTON, Virginia -- Forecasters predict the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season will be "near-normal," with four to seven hurricanes likely, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday, less than two weeks before the season begins.

"While we cannot prevent hurricanes, we can prepare, and we must," Commerce Secretary Gary Locke told reporters at Reagan National Airport, just outside of Washington.

The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through the end of November.

Locke said it is likely there will be nine to 14 named storms, with four to seven of those becoming hurricanes. Of the hurricanes, NOAA predicts that one to three will be major hurricanes -- storms classified as Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson scale of storm intensity -- with winds of 111 mph or higher.

In 2008, there were 16 named storms and eight hurricanes, five of which were major. It was among the busiest and costliest seasons to date, with about $54 billion in damages, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

The weather agency had predicted a total of 12 to 16 storms last year.

NOAA's predictions for 2009 are similar to those of four other organizations: AccuWeather, (13 named storms and eight hurricanes), Colorado State University, (14 named storms and seven hurricanes) WSI Corp. (13 named storms, seven hurricanes) and Weather Research Center (seven named storms, four hurricanes).

Competing climate factors are shaping the 2009 seasonal outlook, NOAA said, saying enhanced rainfall over West Africa, warmer Atlantic waters and reduced wind shear encourage greater storm activity.

Should El Nino develop in the equatorial eastern Pacific this summer, or if ocean temperatures in the eastern tropical Atlantic stay cooler, storm activity could be diminished, NOAA said.

The weather agency will release an updated hurricane outlook in August, ahead of what it says is historically the peak period for hurricane activity. (CNN)


Baby whirls: improved detection of marginal tropical storms

With the North Atlantic hurricane season officially starting in a couple weeks (June 1), but possibly getting a head start with a developing low-pressure system in the Bahamas, considerable attention will be paid by the media to each and every storm that gets a name. In the North Atlantic, a name is granted to a tropical or subtropical storm with sustained winds of greater than 34 knots AND when the National Hurricane Center declares it is so. It is these storm counts that are used for a variety of purposes including insurance rates and climate change research. (Climate Audit)


Global warming 512 times worse than previously thought

That's the summary of nine most recent reports that "global warming will be twice as bad as expected". The newest wave of nonsense in the media was sparked by an MIT article: (The Reference Frame)


New York Times runs interesting story about impacts of “global warming” around Juneau - Alaska but temperature data show no warming.

The New York Times reports how land is rising from the sea around Juneau and that this is due to glaciers melting. Whatever the relationships between these various phenomena - temperature data from NASA GISS - NCDC and University of Alabama at Huntsville satellite data for the lower troposphere - all point to there being no significant warming in the Juneau 2.5 degree grid box over 109 years 1900-2008. (Warwick Hughes)


FEATURE-In Brazil, extreme weather stokes climate worries

ILHA GRANDE - No one could say they hadn't seen it coming.

The sand dunes had been advancing for decades before, two years ago, they finally swallowed the houses of Raimundo do Nascimento and 12 other families in Ilha Grande, an island in the Parnaiba river delta in northeastern Brazil.

Standing on the 14-meter (46-feet)-high dune that now completely covers his old home, the 53-year-old Do Nascimento describes the landscape of his childhood -- cashew trees as far as he could see. Not a dune in sight.

"It is beautiful now, but beauty brings misery," he said. "The cause of this is natural, but it is man-made as well."

Experts blame deforestation and population increases for the huge dunes that are advancing by about 25 meters (82 feet) a year, threatening to wipe the town of 8,500 people off the map. But they and residents also blame stronger winds and drier weather in recent years. (Reuters)


Seminar On May 14 2009 By Roger A. Pielke Titled “Considering the Human Influence on Climate” At The George C. Marshall Institute

This past Thursday, May 14, 2009, I gave a presentation at the Army and Navy Club in Washington DC sponsored by the George C. Marshall Institute.

The talk is titled ”Considering the Human Influence on Climate” and the powerpoint slides are available (see). I appreciate the opportunity that the Marshall Institute provided to present my perspective on the climate issue, and to urge that independent assessments of climate science are very much needed. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)


Germany prepares for Mediterranean climate

Climate change is likely to offer a relatively kind fate to Germany, but the country is already preparing for the mixed-bag in store. Rising temperatures could prove problematic to some while others could benefit. (Deutsche Welle)


Gas Is Up; Drivers May Not Cut Back

Thanks to lower fuel costs and a proliferation of travel bargains, Americans are expected to hit the roads this Memorial Day weekend in bigger numbers than last year.

Last summer’s energy shock drove gasoline prices well above $4 a gallon and forced people to cut back on driving. Then oil prices plunged, and the stratospheric cost of a gallon of gas became a dim memory. But gasoline has been rising rapidly in recent weeks.

Gasoline is selling for an average of $2.33 a gallon, up from $2.06 just last month, according to AAA, the automobile club, and a steep rise from the recent low of $1.67 a gallon in December. A cutback in refining production and the expected rebound in driving this weekend are helping to push up prices at the pump.

Some analysts expect to see gas rise above $2.50 a gallon this summer.

The number of people traveling by car this weekend is projected to rise by 2.7 percent compared with 2008, to 27 million people, according to projections from AAA. Last year, road travel fell by 9.6 percent when prices surged, according to the automobile group.

“The bargains and the cheaper gas, combined with the stressed-out consumer who is ready for a break, will trump other concerns,” Robert L. Darbelnet, AAA’s chief executive, told reporters last week. “It is a slight uptick. In this economy, any uptick over last year is a positive sign.” (New York Times)


U.S. Gas Fields Go From Bust to Boom

CADDO PARISH, La. -- A massive natural-gas discovery here in northern Louisiana heralds a big shift in the nation's energy landscape. After an era of declining production, the U.S. is now swimming in natural gas.

Even conservative estimates suggest the Louisiana discovery -- known as the Haynesville Shale, for the dense rock formation that contains the gas -- could hold some 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. That's the equivalent of 33 billion barrels of oil, or 18 years' worth of current U.S. oil production. Some industry executives think the field could be several times that size.

"There's no dry hole here," says Joan Dunlap, vice president of Petrohawk Energy Corp., standing beside a drilling rig near a former Shreveport amusement park.

Huge new fields also have been found in Texas, Arkansas and Pennsylvania. One industry-backed study estimates the U.S. has more than 2,200 trillion cubic feet of gas waiting to be pumped, enough to satisfy nearly 100 years of current U.S. natural-gas demand.

The discoveries have spurred energy experts and policy makers to start looking to natural gas in their pursuit of a wide range of goals: easing the impact of energy-price spikes, reducing dependence on foreign oil, lowering "greenhouse gas" emissions and speeding the transition to renewable fuels. (Ben Casselman, Wall Street Journal)


Understanding the President’s CAFE announcement

(Editorial note: I was doing so well moving to shorter posts. I fail miserably in achieving that goal here. I went the comprehensive route instead. I promise to return to shorter posts in the future. Buckle up – this is a long ride. I hope you find it’s worth it.)

(Update: There’s an important correction in #3 below. The estimated job loss for the option I think most closely approximates the Administration’s proposal should be about 50,000 over five years, rather than about 150,000 over five years. I apologize for the error.)

There is not yet much data available on the President’s CAFE announcement. Luckily, we have a huge base of analysis that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) did in 2008 that allows us to infer a lot from what was announced. Here are the specific data points we have from the President’s announcement:

  • The average fuel economy standard will be 35.5 mpg in 2016. That’s a weighted average of all cars and light trucks sold in the U.S.
  • Assuming that the Wall Street Journal’s reporting is accurate, they would require cars to hit 39 mpg by 2016, and light trucks to hit 30 mpg by 2016.

These fuel standards are the implementation of a law proposed by President Bush in January 2007, and passed by (a Democratic majority) Congress and signed by President Bush in December, 2007. The Bush Administration developed rules to implement the law and brought them right up to the goal line, but did not finalize them before the end of the Administration. The Obama Administration has now significantly modified the Bush rules.

Technically the Administration is today announcing that they will release a new proposed rule. While the news coverage makes it sound like this is a done deal, this is the beginning of a regulatory process, not the end. Still, the starting point is extremely important. (Keith Hennessey)


Note the credentials of this article's author: Light Cars Are Dangerous Cars - And other unintended consequences of strict fuel-economy standards.

If something seems too good to be true, it usually is. Such is the case with President Barack Obama's proposed national fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks and a new tailpipe standard for C02 emissions. The national press has uncritically reported that the new standards will make cars "cleaner." In fact, the rules could impose substantial costs in terms of urban air pollution and human life.

The standards are designed to reduce C02 emissions from cars, with the twin goals of addressing climate change and reducing dependence on imported energy. Carbon dioxide is, of course, ubiquitous and relatively harmless on an everyday basis. It is only its long-term buildup that scientists posit will cause temperature warming. What are not so harmless in the near term are the "criteria air pollutants" currently regulated under the Clean Air Act -- ground-level ozone (or smog), particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and lead -- all of which have been shown by the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) own scientists to have an adverse effect on human health.

The great irony of Mr. Obama's fuel efficiency proposals is that they may worsen emissions of these harmful gases. By the White House's own calculation (which many observers believe to be quite conservative), the new rules, when combined with earlier proposed increases in Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, will increase the average price of a new car by $1,300. Herein lies the problem.

In today's automobile fleet, the majority of the pollution comes from the oldest, dirtiest cars. In fact, the dirtiest 10% of the cars account for more than 50% of smog and carbon monoxide. The dirtiest one-third of the fleet accounts for more than 80% of the pollution. That is because the U.S. government has, for 39 years now under successive versions of the Clean Air Act, required automakers to meet ever-tightening standards for tailpipe emissions from new cars. When it comes to smog, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particulates that new SUV is a lot cleaner than an old, poorly-tuned compact.

The Clean Air Act's requirements have sent emissions in the right direction. According to the EPA, since 1980 annual emissions of carbon monoxide are down 52%, emissions of ozone are down 41%, and emissions of nitrogen dioxide are down 37%. (Emissions of lead are down 97% thanks to taking the lead out of gasoline in the early 1980s).

The Obama plan could slow this progress. (Wall Street Journal)

Robert E. Grady is managing director of the Carlyle Group in San Francisco and a former trustee of the Environmental Defense Fund. He was involved as a senior White House aide in drafting the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, and helped craft Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Environmental Action Plan during his 2003 campaign.

When even he says: "My point is simply this: Mr. Obama's proposed fuel efficiency and CO2 tailpipe regulations should be subjected to rigorous cost-benefit analysis, as all federal regulations should be. Those at EPA charged by statute with regulating air emissions, and those at the Office of Management and Budget charged with reviewing the implementing regulations, should carefully assess whether the benefits of the president's fuel efficiency and carbon proposals outweigh their very real costs." it's probably fair to say this is not reactionary capitalism at work. There are really good reasons to resist CAFE and they have nothing to do with political leaning.


Ethanol Industry Sees Havoc In Land-Use Formula

WASHINGTON - The U.S. biofuels industry would be hamstrung if government regulators choose to use unfair and untested formulas that hold it responsible for greenhouse gases from crops overseas, ethanol groups said on Thursday. (Reuters)


May 21, 2009

So, the system works sometimes then: Advocates of Gun Rights Are Poised for a Victory

WASHINGTON — Advocates of gun rights are poised to win a Congressional victory that eluded them under a Republican president.

To the frustration and discouragement of many Democrats, House and Senate lawmakers and aides say it now appears likely that President Obama will this week sign into law a provision allowing visitors to national parks and refuges to carry loaded and concealed weapons.

The White House is lukewarm at best on the gun provision, which was added to a popular measure imposing new rules on credit card companies. But the Democrats who now control both Congress and the White House appear ready to allow it to survive rather than derail a consumer-friendly credit card measure that Mr. Obama is eager to sign as Congress heads off for a Memorial Day recess.

“Timing is everything in politics,” said Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma and the champion of the gun proposal.

A majority of Democrats in the House and Senate still typically come down on the side of gun control. But the fact that they have been outmaneuvered by Republicans on gun issues is rooted in the fact that recently swollen Democratic ranks include senators and House members who represent Western states and more rural areas where gun ownership is popular and deemed sacrosanct.

When those Democrats team up with Republicans, they constitute a clear majority in the House and Senate. (New York Times)


Was wondered how long it would be before this became an issue: Back to plastic? Reusable grocery bags may cause food poisoning

Get out your bleach and launder those reusable fabric grocery bags after each use. You're not clogging up landfill with plastic throw-aways, but your environmental conscientiousness could make you sick.

A microbiological study — a first in North America — of the popular, eco-friendly bags has uncovered some unsettling facts. Swab-testing by two independent laboratories found unacceptably high levels of bacterial, yeast, mold and coliform counts in the reusable bags.

"The main risk is food poisoning," Dr. Richard Summerbell, research director at Toronto-based Sporometrics and former chief of medical mycology for the Ontario Ministry of Health, stated in a news release. Dr. Summerbell evaluated the study results.

"But other significant risks include skin infections such as bacterial boils, allergic reactions, triggering of asthma attacks, and ear infections," he stated.

The study found that 64% of the reusable bags tested were contaminated with some level of bacteria and close to 30% had elevated bacterial counts higher than what's considered safe for drinking water.

Further, 40% of the bags had yeast or mold, and some of the bags had an unacceptable presence of coliforms, faecal intestinal bacteria, when there should have been 0.

"The presence of faecal material in some of the reusable bags is particularly concerning," Dr. Summerbell stated. "All meat products should be individually wrapped before being placed in a reusable bag to prevent against leakage. This should become a mandated safety standard across the entire grocery industry." (National Post)


U.S. officials consider bumping up flu shot season

WASHINGTON, May 20 - U.S. health officials said on Wednesday they are considering starting the vaccination campaign for seasonal flu earlier this year to make room for a possible second round of shots against the new H1N1 flu. (Reuters)


As Flu Suspicions Spread, Value of Test Is Weighed

A 16-month-old boy is brought to Elmhurst Hospital Center’s emergency room blue and motionless, and is pronounced dead 40 minutes later. A preliminary swine flu test is performed within hours — and turns out negative.

An 8-year-old, the son of a flu expert at Weill Cornell Medical College, runs a high fever and starts coughing heavily at 4 a.m. His mother, the flu expert and also a pediatrician, diagnoses it as swine flu without testing him.

These two moments, which played out within 24 hours of each other, illustrate the difficulties pediatricians all over New York City face as worried parents of sniffling children ask for the swine flu test — which most times cannot be done and which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is no need for.

They also illustrate how important the tests can be. (New York Times)


Advocacy groups deplore cuts to WHO talks agenda

GENEVA - H1N1 flu, while worrying, should not have been allowed to knock other health threats such as hepatitis and food safety from the agenda of this week's World Health Organization congress, advocacy groups said on Wednesday.

The U.N. agency's annual assembly was shortened to five days from nine to allow officials to compare notes on pandemic readiness then return home sooner to track the new strain that has killed 80 people and infected more than 10,000.

Campaigners for issues that were dropped, such as organ and tissue transplants, fake drugs, research standards and Chagas disease, bemoaned the decision to allow the virus that has caused mainly mild symptoms largely to eclipse the meeting. (Reuters)


All the World’s a Laboratory

DISEASE outbreaks like the swine flu epidemic present an unparalleled opportunity — and to us, as doctors, an imperative — to gain knowledge to better protect the public. The spreading H1N1 influenza, now found in 40 countries and confirmed in some 10,000 patients, provides the chance to learn more about the drugs we are counting on using against it.

In the United States, the Strategic National Stockpile contains two drugs for influenza — oseltamivir, known by the trade name Tamiflu, and zanamivir, called Relenza. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web site recommends that these drugs be given to selected patients who have the flu and be considered for other people in the patients’ households who are at risk of serious complications if they become infected. But there remain unanswered questions about how well the drugs work. (Andrea Meyerhoff and Paul Lietman, New York Times)


Editorial: Weighing the costs of obesity

Lansing lawmakers are being asked to amend the state school code to require a minimum amount of health and physical education in grades K-8. With childhood obesity and its attendant consequences rising at an alarming rate, the state should set some minimal physical fitness guidelines for students. (Grand Rapids Press)


Michigan Students May Be Forced To Be More Physical

The curriculum in the Michigan public school system may be getting a little more physical in the near future.

Attempting to stymie the increasing problem of childhood obesity, Michigan state Senator Tom George (R-Kalamazoo) has sponsored a piece of legislation that would require students in elementary and middle schools to participate in at least one hour a week of physical education. Citing the Legislature's constitutional power to promote and protect public health, Mr. George's bill would obligate schools to not only provide students in grades K-5 with 30 minutes of phys-ed twice a week and students in grades 6-8 with 45 minutes a day for one semester but would also require 15 hours a year of health education in grades K-5 and 50 hours a year in middle school.

With the current law only requiring schools to provide some level of phys-ed and allowing participation in extracurricular activities or athletics to count toward the requirement, only 70% of Michigan's elementary and middle schools would be in compliance with Mr. George's proposal. "Schools have gotten away from this because they feel a lot of pressure to meet testing standards and they feel more classroom time is helpful for that, but studies show that's not the case," he said in an interview. (Huliq News)


I'm sure someone thinks this is a good idea: Gym instructor balloons to 20 stone to understand obesity

A super-fit gym instructor who ballooned to 20-stone for an experiment admits he is hooked on sugar and fattening food.

Former model Paul 'PJ' James, 32, quit his usual healthy diet for fry-ups, kebabs and curries in an attempt to better understand the problems of obesity.

Now, nearly six months into the test, once trim PJ feels tired, lethargic, and with constant cravings for sweet things and high calorie snacks.

"The thing that shocked me most about this diet is its emotional effects," said PJ, from Melbourne, Australia, who plans to start losing the weight again on July 1. (Daily Telegraph)


Maybe, we'll wait & see how the work pans out: Tree leaves monitor pollution levels

Urban trees act as sentinels using their leaves to measure microscopic particles of pollution, say UK researchers.

They are so precise in this task that Professor Barbara Maher and a group of scientists at the University of Lancaster are turning to them as reliable, street-level pollution monitors. (Discovery News)


The Medicare Ponzi Scheme

Isn't it high time America did less for the elderly? A politically incorrect question for sure. But Medicare has an astounding $34-trillion unfunded liability. And because of rising unemployment, its hospital-stay program will go broke two years earlier than previously predicted.

For my recent ABC special "You Can't Even Talk About It", I spoke with residents of La Posada, a development in Florida that made Forbes's list of top 10 "ritzy" retirement communities. These folks are well off. And they get a bonus: You pay for most of their health care under Medicare.

The retirees love it. Everyone likes getting free stuff. And Medicare often makes going to the doctor just about free.

Why is this a good thing?

"What about those young people [who pick up the tab]? What kind of legacy are we leaving for them?" asks Harvard Business School Professor Regina Herzlinger. "We're really stealing from them." (John Stossel, Townhall)


Socialized medicine is always and everywhere a disaster -- just don't do it: Beer tax on tap for health care?

A new tax on beer is among the proposals to help pay for universal health insurance for all Americans. Details of the proposed tax are in a Senate Finance Committee document.

WASHINGTON — Consumers in the United States may have to hand over nearly $2 more for a case of beer to help provide health insurance for all.

Details of the proposed beer tax are described in a Senate Finance Committee document that will be used to brief lawmakers Wednesday at a closed-door meeting.

Taxes on wine and hard liquor would also go up. And there might be a new tax on soda and other sugary drinks blamed for contributing to obesity. No taxes on diet drinks, however.

Beer taxes would go up by 48 cents a six-pack, wine taxes would rise by 49 cents per bottle, and the tax on hard liquor would increase by 40 cents per fifth. Proceeds from the new taxes would help cover an estimated 50 million uninsured Americans. (Associated Press)


Europe's Frogs And Snakes In Danger: Study

BRUSSELS - One fifth of Europe's reptiles and nearly a quarter of its amphibians are in danger because of the threat humans pose to their natural habitat, according to a study carried out for the European Commission.

The tortoise family, vipers, wall lizards such as the Tenerife speckled lizard, and pond turtles are among those threatened, said the report by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

"Natural habitats across Europe are being squeezed by growing human populations, agricultural intensification, urban sprawl and pollution -- that is not good news for either amphibians or reptiles," said Dr Helen Temple, co-author of the Red List. (Reuters)


Cattle Rustling On The Rise As U.S. Recession Bites

TROY - When Chrissy and Benny Pinckard woke one morning in March on their small farm in Alabama to find two prized bulls stolen they were distraught.

They were also a statistic.

Cattle ranching is a multibillion-dollar industry in the United States and cattle theft is a small but growing problem as a recession bites and thieves realize that stealing cows is a relatively easy way to raise a quick buck. (Reuters)


Jumbo Squid Attack the West Coast

Researchers are using acoustics to track the population growth and territory expansion of the Humboldt squid.

A type of squid native to the Pacific coast of Mexico is attacking dolphins and tuna as the species expands into new waters as far north as Alaska. Now for the time marine biologists can watch these battles from a boat above, monitoring the squids' movements with acoustic technology similar to the equipment used by fisherman to follow school of fish.

Meanwhile, others debate why the squid’s habitat is extending in the first place.

Some, like George Watters of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), point to climate change. The first recent sighting of a Humboldt squid in California coincided with the strong El Niño event in 1997, a massive transfer of heat over the Pacific Ocean that changed weather patterns across North America. Though the squid are resilient to temperature variations, the warming oceans could have a bottom-up effect by changing the oxygen content of the water, the distribution of microorganisms, and thus the distribution of the food that the squid eat.

Other scientists, like Bruce Robison of MBARI, offer a "top-down" explanation instead that blames the over-fishing of large predatory fish. Tuna and billfish eat both Humboldt squid and the fish that the squid prey on. The depletion of these giant fish, which grow and mature over years, may allow the squid -- which mature in 6 to 8 months -- to rapidly movie into new niches. (Inside Science News Service)


Study Turns Back Clock On Origins Of Life On Earth

CHICAGO - A heavy bombardment by asteroids the size of Ireland was not enough to wipe out life on Earth 3.9 billion years ago, researchers said on Wednesday in a finding that turns back the clock of life by 500 million years.

Many scientists had thought the violent pelting by massive asteroids during the period known as the Late Heavy Bombardment would have melted the Earth's crust and vaporized any life on the planet.

But new three-dimensional computer models developed by a team at the University of Colorado at Boulder shows much of Earth's crust, and the microbes living on it, could have survived and may even have thrived.

"These new results push back the possible beginnings of life on Earth to well before the bombardment period 3.9 billion years ago," said Oleg Abramov, a researcher at the university whose study appears in the journal Nature.

"It opens up the possibility that life emerged as far back as 4.4 billion years ago, about the time the first oceans are thought to have formed," Abramov said in a statement. (Reuters)


Because everyone needs a laugh: Studies Reveal Exposure to Pesticides During Pregnancy Increases Risk of Premature Birth, Low-Birth Weight, Neurological Problems and Diabetes

The Organic Center draws conclusions from over 150 scientific studies: Balanced organic diet before and during pregnancy directly benefits childhood development

BOULDER, Colo., May 20 -- The Organic Center (TOC), a leading research institute focused on the science of organic food and farming, announced today that a balanced, organic diet -- both before and during pregnancy -- can significantly reduce a child's likelihood of being overweight, obese or developing diabetes. A synthesis of over 150 scientific studies, TOC report "That First Step: Organic Food and a Healthier Future" reveals that exposure to pesticides during pregnancy increases the risk of premature birth, low-birth weight, neurological problems and diabetes. Outlining six ways in which a balanced organic diet can contribute to healthy development, the report also examines how enzymes found in organic foods can slow -- even reverse -- aspects of the aging process. (PRNewswire-USNewswire)


Terence Corcoran: Capped, traded and scammed by fake markets

The Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill is worse than the Obama fuel standard

Not that we needed proof that the ideology of market mechanisms and carbon taxes as a cure to environmental problems is a total sham. We now have enough evidence to convict the perpetrators for first degree economic policy fraud. The evidence mounts around the world, but now mostly in the United States of America, where President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress are on the brink of burying real markets in energy and automobiles under the biggest command-and-control economic experiments since the great totalitarian regimes of the 20th century. (Terence Corcoran, National Post)


Waxman-Markey Cost-Benefit Analysis

There has been widespread agitation in the influential blogosphere for a cost-benefit analysis of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade proposal. This sure seems like a reasonable request to me, and you have to wonder why the sponsors and advocates of this bill — who are, after all, proposing an enormous commitment of resources — haven’t provided one. So I tried to do a quick version of it. I have a longer and more complete version of this coming in the next National Review, but wanted to get the bones of the analysis out for discussion as rapidly as possible. (Jim Manzi, NRO)


Carbon dioxide emissions drop in 2008

WASHINGTON — There is a positive note to the country's economic woes and last summer's $4-per-gallon gasoline: The nation in 2008 had a record decline in the amount of climate-changing carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.

The government reported Wednesday that energy-related carbon dioxide emissions declined by 2.8 percent last year compared to 2007, the largest annual drop since the government began regular reporting of greenhouse gas pollution.

The Energy Information Administration attributed the decline to a 2.2 percent drop in energy consumption, largely because of high gasoline and diesel prices last summer and the sharp economic decline in the last half of the year.

The government figures were released as members of a House committee continued a weeklong struggle to craft a sweeping climate bill that would impose limits on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

The dramatic drop in emissions last year demonstrates the effect of higher fuel costs on the pollution blamed for global warming. The premise behind the bill before Congress is that making pollution more expensive will drive down emissions. Even supporters of the bill acknowledge it will lead to higher energy prices, but greater energy efficiency, conservation and reliance on nonfossil fuels will offset much of those costs. (Associated Press)

There's no free lunch. The cost of enforced "efficiency" such as CAFE is measured in people's lives. That doesn't trouble the watermelons to be sure but I can't claim to be indifferent to it. How about you?


Democrats Reject Pollution Parity With China, India

Democrats debating climate-change legislation in the House Energy and Commerce Committee rejected Republican attempt to delay a cap on U.S. pollution levels until China and India adopt similar standards.

The committee also voted against an “emergency exit” amendment that would have lifted pollution caps if electricity rates rose more than 10 percent.

The votes were part of a weeklong effort to craft legislation that would set limits on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and allow companies to buy and sell pollution permits.

Republican Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri offered language to abandon a cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if electricity rates increase. Missouri utility regulators have estimated that the proposed legislation would increase electricity rates by as much as 40 percent, Blunt said.

“We must look at the real ramifications this bill will have on our already struggling economy,” he said. The committee rejected the amendment on 32-23 vote that broke largely along party lines. (Bloomberg)


China takes lead in EU talks

PRAGUE - China took the lead in talks with the European Union on Wednesday, warning Europe not to interfere in its internal affairs and promising to boost imports from the recession-hit bloc.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao easily shrugged off EU pressure to commit to cutting greenhouse gas emissions — although he was supportive of EU efforts to strike a global climate change accord this year. (Associated Press)


China working on further national plan to address climate change: official

BEIJING, May 19 -- A senior Chinese official told Xinhua Tuesday that the country is working on a national plan to further cope with the issue of climate change.

"We are working on a further national plan based on a longer term in a bid to strengthen the enforcement of international treaties about the issue," said Xie Zhenhua, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

The plan is aimed to better tackle the climate change and boost economic growth in the meantime, Xie added.

The Chinese chief climate negotiator did not elaborate the plan, only saying that the country eyes on accumulating useful experiences to establish a low-carbon economy through some pilot projects. (Xinhua)


Carbon windfall profits seen for EU industry

BRUSSELS - European Union moves to exempt industries such as steel, refining and cement from the cost of buying carbon permits risk handing them windfall profits and could blunt EU green investment, analysts say. Heavy industries in Europe and the United States are battling hard to avoid paying for permits to emit carbon dioxide, saying the added cost will harm their ability to compete with overseas rivals, for example in India and China.

EU leaders reached a deal in December to curb carbon dioxide emissions to a fifth below 1990 levels by 2020, but to clinch that agreement they were forced to promise some countries such as Italy and Germany opt-outs for sectors at risk from 2013.

That risk list of sectors is currently being fine-tuned in Brussels according to a complex formula that looks set to hand pollution permits from the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) worth billions of euros to the most polluting sectors -- steel, cement, and refining. (Reuters)


Another step towards new climate change pact taken with online UN publication

20 May 2009 – Progress towards achieving an ambitious new treaty on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is gathering pace, the top United Nations climate change official said today, announcing the online publication of the text to be negotiated by nations this December in Copenhagen. (UN News)

Ya think? Looks more like anyone with any brains is running away from it just as fast as they can go, paying due lip service, of course.


UN hopeful about climate change

The head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change says he has seen "encouraging developments" in recent climate change negotiations.

His comments come as the first "negotiating text" for the UN's December climate change conference is published on the UNFCCC website.

Yvo de Boer said this document marked "an important point on our road". (BBC News)


Climate-Treaty Draft Proposes Rich Countries Eliminate Most CO2

The United Nations’ first draft of a new treaty to stem global warming suggests goals such as the near elimination of greenhouse-gas emissions by mid-century in developed countries including the U.S. and Japan.

China, India and other emerging economies would have to aim for a 25 percent reduction of heat-trapping gases, under a separate option that would mark the first-ever target for developing nations. (Bloomberg)


CLIMATE CHANGE: 200 Days to Copenhagen

UNITED NATIONS, May 20 - With exactly 200 days to go before December’s crucial climate talks in Copenhagen, progress is steadily, though slowly, being made. Some issues, however - namely financing and the relative roles of industrial and developing countries - are likely to remain on the table until the end of the year. (IPS)


Bracket Time for Climate {Treaty}{Pact}

It’s bracket time in climate talks. The United Nations office that manages negotiations aimed at generating a new global climate agreement this December in Copenhagen has released a basic 53-page outline for 192 countries to supplement or whittle when the next round of talks begins in June in Bonn.

The draft text was shaped by rounds of comments and reams of proposed language submitted this spring by parties to the original climate treaty, the Framework Convention on Climate Change, which underpins everything from the Kyoto Protocol to whatever comes next in Denmark. (Andrew C. Revkin, New York Times)


GLOBAL: How much money for climate change adaptation?

JOHANNESBURG, 19 May 2009 - With barely six months left before countries have to clinch a climate change deal in Copenhagen in December, a call for more money - over and above development aid - to help poor countries adapt to climate change has been backed by a major report. (IRIN)


Cement Makers Eye Big Cuts To Greenhouse Gases

BRUSSELS - Nearly a third of the world's cement industry has united on a strategy to cut global warming gases in a way that will not slow a construction boom in poor countries, backers of the initiative said on Wednesday.

The cement sector contributes about 5 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions -- well ahead of other manufacturers except steel and refineries -- and is expected to double its capacity by 2030 amid rapid urbanization in developing nations. (Reuters)


Ooh! Wrong conclusion! Why Business Leaders Need to Get Over Al Gore

I saw an interesting piece by Michael Graham Richard on treehugger titled, "Let's Put This Meme to Rest: Global Warming ≠ Al Gore" (thanks to Will Sarni for tweeting it to me). It seems like a perfectly obvious point, but one that I agree needs to be repeated. And it's a point that I've been making in subtle, and not-so-subtle ways, everywhere I can in recent months.

I speak to business people from a very wide range of sectors and quite often to groups that are self-identified as conservative. I find myself facing real skepticism on climate change (and real dislike of Mr. Gore). I don't really spend time debating or presenting the science, though. I just try to impress on business people to accept one irrefutable point: climate change is now a political and business reality, regardless of what you think about the scientific merits. (Andrew Winston, Harvard Business)

Ignore the idiot inclusion of moonbat's climate refugee fraud (the facts: The Carteret Islands are sinking due to tectonic activity and associated volcanism because the Pacific Plate is sliding into the Bismarck and Solomon Plates, some of the islands in the associated Duke of York group are sinking 30 centimetres (11.8 inches) a year.), what's wrong with the conclusion drawn by the above?

If you said businesses need to grow a spine (or dig deep and find a pair) then I agree with you. The problem here is not that businesses need to meekly accept being put to the sword by anti-capitalists and Gaia cranks of many flavors but that they need to stand up and say "No! This is utter rubbish and we aren't doing it!"

Gorebull warming is complete and utter rubbish to which we must never yield.


On the Central Question of Climate Sensitivity

Lord Monckton’s response letter to Congressmen Barton and Upton on the central question of climate sensitivity. (Christopher Monckton, SPPI)


Why should modelers be the only make-believers to get all the money? Science alone will not save us

Changing behaviour will be as vital as new technologies in tackling climate change. So where is the funding for linguists, anthropologists and sociologists? Tariq Tahir reports

Naysayers aside, the world appears to have nudged its way towards the view that there is a scientific consensus that human activity has changed our climate. For many academics, the question is now about finding ways of dealing with the consequences of climate change. In that endeavour, natural scientists are increasingly being joined by other academics - most notably social scientists - in teams where many disciplines can interact.

But there is concern that a government desire to protect science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) subjects by ringfencing funding could, in the long term, affect the ability of these teams to conduct research.

For Professor Paul Wellings, chairman-elect of the 1994 group of smaller research-intensive universities, it is a question of getting together what he calls a "dream team", comprising not just scientists, but researchers from the social sciences and humanities, to deal with the nightmare scenario recently conjured by the government's chief scientist, John Beddington, in which the world is gripped by a "perfect storm" of war, starvation and mass migration. (The Guardian)

All the pretenders want some (and who can blame them?). Color me an old empiricist but I don't see a dollar's worth of science in the lot of 'em.


Points for effort. They managed to squeeze in two nonsense scares: Snorkel teams can assess climate impact on corals

WASHINGTON - Teams of snorkel-wearing scientists could be warriors against the ravages of climate change on coral reefs, the International Union for Conservation of Nature reported on Wednesday.

Small teams of observers, wearing snorkels, swim fins and masks and carrying underwater note paper or slates and measuring tape, could make rapid assessments of how coral formations are faring as the world's oceans get warmer, the group said at a briefing.

Warmer waters can contribute to the bleaching of coral reefs, a process in which microscopic plants that live on and nourish the coral are lost; without these plants, coral can die in a matter of weeks.

Coral reefs are also under threat from ocean acidification as a result of long-term emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. (Reuters)

No, corals are not really threatened by gorebull warming -- there are really good at exploiting any suitable growing niche and have survived extraordinary changes (warmer and cooler) since the Ordovician. Nor are they threatened by alleged ocean acidification -- note that coral evolved in periods when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were 10-15 times those of today and far higher than Man's puny efforts can ever manage to drive them. Silly scares based on truly absurd model assumptions.


Do you suppose he believes any of this nonsense? Global warming has local impact – and it’s happening now

On Thursday in Seattle, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is hosting one of only two public hearings in the country on its proposed finding that global warming pollution endangers public health and welfare.

While these hearings are national in scope, they provide an important opportunity for us to consider how the legacy of global warming is harming our own public health and welfare, not just in the future, but today – here in Washington state.

Evidence of global warming has been building for decades. The international scientific consensus is that warming of the Earth’s climate is unequivocal and that we humans are primarily responsible.

Carbon dioxide is the most significant global warming pollutant. If we don’t reduce our carbon emissions, we are putting public health – and our environment and economy – at risk Yet some people still ask: Is global warming real? Will the dire climate projections really come true? Won’t it be too expensive to reduce our emissions?

The fact is, we’re already seeing dire problems caused by global warming, both around the world and in our own back yard. You’ve undoubtedly heard about the polar bears and their melting Arctic habitat. Polar bears are literally clinging to thin ice, and are actually drowning as it melts around them. (News Tribune)


Oh dear, couldn't even get basic facts straight: Weatherwatch

Springtime creates a big stink around the Arctic. Bubbling away under the ice of Siberia and Alaska is methane, the smelly gas best known in marshlands. It is also a greenhouse gas 20 times more powerful at warming the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. As the climate in the Arctic warms, its permafrost - frozen ground - is thawing out. Dead vegetation laid down over 30,000 years ago that became frozen in ice is now thawing out. As the permafrost melts it also forms new lakes where microbes digest the old vegetation and give off methane. (Jeremy Plester, The Guardian)

Nope. Methane is colorless and odorless and is not "the smelly gas best known in marshlands" although marsh gas is mostly methane. And no, the idea of "runaway warming from methane released by thawing permafrost" has been examined and found wanting since only the top few feet thaw, leaving lower permafrost intact.


EPA to hear public comments on greenhouse gases

SEATTLE -- Gov. Chris Gregoire is among those who plan to urge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to finalize a determination that greenhouse gases threaten public health.

Nearly 200 environmentalists, businesses, government officials, students and others are scheduled to testify Thursday at the EPA hearing in Seattle, the second of two public forums nationwide.

In April, the EPA found that concentrations of six greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane, pose dangers to human health and welfare. Its finding could lead to regulating the gases under the Clean Air Act.

The agency won't make a final decision until after listening to the public comments.

Environmentalists and others say quick action is needed because climate change already is affecting human health and the environment.

"We've just really run out of time for anything but the most ambitious, focused, determined clean energy transition," said K.C. Golden, policy director for the environmental group Climate Solutions. Golden is scheduled to testify.

Hundreds are expected to rally at noon Thursday outside the hearing location to support the EPA finding. (Tri-City Herald)


Essential Readings on The Futility and Danger of CO2 Mitigation Schemes

A collection – including new papers – of essential readings on the policy, science and politics of CO2 mitigations schemes. Particular focus on the Waxman-Markey legislation as currently being “marked up” in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. None-the-less, the issues and conclusions are universal for any form of mitigation efforts: futile, wasteful, costly and dangerous. (SPPI)


Grantham’s Greenbacks

Jeremy Grantham is very rich and very worried. According to the Sunday Times, he has donated £24million to fund climate change research - £12million each to the London School of Economics and Imperial College:

Grantham believes climate change could lead to the collapse of Earth’s ecosystems and even threaten human civilisation.

So concerned is Grantham, 70, over this issue that he has set up the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, endowed with £165m of his own money, to fund environmental research and campaigns. From it he is funding the LSE and Imperial donations, and other grants to American groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund.

This is actually rather old news, which we reported on back in January. But it’s worth another look because, in his exclusive interview with the entirely credulous Sunday Times, Grantham is given full rein to expound on his personal fears and his political prescriptions: (Climate Resistance)


Genetically Modified Climate ‘Science’

Someone else who isn’t entirely wrong this week is Lord Bob May of Oxford. It’s quite refreshing to hear the former Royal Society president and government chief-scientific adviser having a go at Big Environment for a change instead of Big Oil:

Parts of the green movement have become hijacked by a political agenda and now operate like multinational corporations, according to two senior scientists and members of the House of Lords.

The peers, who were speaking at an event in parliament on science policy, said they felt that in some areas green campaign groups were a hindrance to environmental causes.

“Much of the green movement isn’t a green movement at all, it’s a political movement,” said Lord May

He’s certainly right that the green movement is a political movement. But it’s an observation from the realm of the startlingly obvious. It’s a movement. Take away the politics and it ceases to exist. May and his fellow peer Lord Krebs seem to be imagining some sort of ideal politics-free… erm… politics. (Climate Resistance)


Only partly right: U.S. Reliance on Oil an 'Urgent Threat'

Retired U.S. military officers say the real cost of fossil fuel, including transport and security, is as much as hundreds of dollars a gallon

A group of retired senior U.S. military officers has concluded that the country's reliance on fossil fuels undermines its capacity to defend itself. Citing a "serious and urgent threat to national security," the group has urged the Pentagon to take the lead in shifting to a new age in energy.

The dependence on oil-based fuels left the U.S. military seriously over-extended in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the officers' report, issued on May 18 by CNA, a military think tank based in Alexandria, Va. The 62-page report asserts that the true cost of fuel, including logistics and the military protection of sea lanes, can run to hundreds of dollars a gallon.

"Our energy posture is not sustainable. It can be exploited by those who want to do us harm," retired Air Force Lieutenant General Larry Farrell, a co-author of the report, said in an interview. Finding a suitable alternative fuel and scaling it up to the size of the U.S. economy "is a 30-year project," Farrell said. "We've got to get started now." (Steve LeVine, Business Week)

What is required, of course, is utilization of North American resources -- Shale, Continental Shelf, ANWR, Coal to liquids, Gas Hydrates and let's not forget nuclear, refurbished (not destroyed or removed) hydro...


The Crone favors killing people: The Earth Wins One

The nationwide automobile mileage and emissions standards announced by President Obama on Tuesday represent a huge step forward in the effort to limit greenhouse gases and reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. They also represent a departure from the Bush administration’s indifference on these issues and an important down payment on Mr. Obama’s pledge to fashion an aggressive and imaginative energy policy.

The standards, forged after weeks of negotiations orchestrated by Carol Browner, the White House coordinator on energy and environmental matters, may also mark the end of decades of wearying, unproductive legal and political combat between the automobile industry and environmentalists. (New York Times)

The NHTSA is fairly unequivocal, CAFE kills people. Mortality rates increase dramatically with smaller, lighter cars. Even Roger Pielke Sr spoke out yesterday, worried about the cost in human lives of such arbitrary measures. The math is not too hard, 35.5 mpg is 29% greater than 27.5 mpg -- to get a 2500 pound car to travel 29% further on a gallon of gas you make it 29% lighter, making it a less-safe 1775 pound car (a 3500 pound car has to lose over 1000 pound to do the same).

The U.S. already loses roughly 110 lives per day on the roads.

The Natural Resources Defense Council said that the 35.5 mpg standard would save about one million gallons of gasoline per day. Assuming an average price of $2.50/gal, that's $2.5 million/day. How many lives would you trade for that?

It is not accurate to say a 29% increase in CAFE will result in another 32 fatalities per day since larger cars are about four times safer than micros but it will be some portion of that number. Would you trade say, 8 lives to save $2,500,000 in gasoline? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency -- for the purposes of risk assessment -- values a single human life at $6,900,000. From a strictly pecuniary perspective then saving $2,500,000 in gasoline is equivalent to 0.36 lives and no one believes we can shave 29% off fleet average weight for the 'trivial' cost of 130 lives per year.

How many more people must be sacrificed on the altar of Green fantasies?

The Crone thinks it's a good idea though.


Obama’s Ban on Soccer Moms

Time for practice. Time to pile into the…Toyota Prius? Maybe the Yaris. Or surely the Smart Car will do. Those are three of eleven cars that meet President Obama’s new emissions standards that include “nothing larger than a midsize sedan, even when you include hybrids.”

We’ve pointed out how bad of an idea this is. Megan McCardle summarizes what the new emission standards will do: (The Foundry)


Coming to Your Garage: Le Car

Finally, Americans can start moving forward -- albeit in small, unsafe, state-mandated, subsidized pieces of junk.

We all remember a time when we drove around in nearly any variety of automobile desired. Well, thank goodness we're getting past that kind of anarchy.

Rejoice, my fellow citizens, in the forthcoming automobile emissions and efficiency standards, even if they happen to add more than $1,000 to the cost of your average car.

Just consider it charity or an "investment." Needless to say, you might as well pony up the dough; your tax dollars already are keeping the auto industry afloat. (David Harsanyi, Townhall)


The inefficiency of fuel-efficiency rules

President Obama’s move to toughen Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards is bipartisanship of sorts. CAFE standards were signed into law by Gerald Ford in 1975. George W. Bush, in a rare fit of environmentalism, raised them in 2007. Foreign policy realists and environmentalists alike support stricter standards. None of this alters the fact that CAFE is a deeply flawed policy.

Fuel efficiency is a worthy goal. It helps fight global climate change and it promotes energy independence. From an economic point of view, who can be against more efficiency? But CAFE is about the worst possible way to pursue it.

CAFE standards are inefficient because they block normal market mechanisms. To impose the same average standard on each manufacturer’s fleet of cars sold forces car companies to produce similar ranges of vehicles rather than specialise. Such command-style regulation can only hamper the effort to make the US car industry retrieve its long-lost commercial acumen. (Financial Times)


No Climate Impact from New National Fuel Efficiency Standards

Recently we worked through the steps required to derive a handy-dandy way to convert carbon dioxide emissions savings to global temperature savings and suggested a few ways in which to apply it. Our primary objective was to put into everyone’s hands a quick-and-easy way for the common man to do what most climate-change-through-emissions-reductions advocates won’t do themselves (or, rather, don’t want you to know the result)—that is, put a climate face on their proposed actions.

The reason that they don’t do this themselves, is that despite all the global warming bluster, their proposed actions have virtually no direct impact on the course of future climate change.

Such is the case with the recently proposed national automobile fuel efficiency standards. (WCR)


U.S. Lawmakers Reject Nuclear In Renewable Power Goal

WASHINGTON - U.S. lawmakers pushing to include greater recognition for existing nuclear power in a national renewable energy standard failed to win new breaks for the industry when a U.S. congressional panel on Wednesday voted down an amendment to a controversial climate change bill.

The sweeping bill, which seeks to cap greenhouse gas emissions, includes a renewable energy mandate that would require utilities to generate 15 percent of electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2020.

Under the legislation sponsored by Democratic Representatives Henry Waxman and Edward Markey, utilities' renewable mandate would be reduced in proportion to the portion of any electricity sales from new nuclear plants, but not existing nuclear plants.

Republican Representative Cliff Stearns of Florida, who offered the failed amendment, said the measure would have helped states meet the renewable electricity standard with a source that has no carbon emissions. (Reuters)


Government Funds To Boost Canadian Green Firms

OTTAWA - A group of Canadian green energy and technology companies pitched for investment on Wednesday, saying they are poised to flourish from government stimulus spending and tougher environmental regulations.

Governments around the world are plowing billions of dollars into renewable energy and energy-efficient products and services, said Vicky Sharpe, chief executive of Sustainable Development Technology Canada, which manages C$1.05 billion ($920 million) in Canadian federal government funding.

"Why are they doing this? Because green creates jobs," she said via webcast at an investor forum organized by her nonprofit agency and the Toronto Stock Exchange. (Reuters)


Green jobs often lead to more pink slips

Repower America, a green energy advocacy organization founded by Former Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore, is running television advertisements in northern Michigan to pressure U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) into supporting the American Clean Energy and Security Act, a major climate bill working through Congress.

The ads make some bold claims about the costs and benefits of fighting climate change. Almost none of them are true. (William Yeatman, Detroit News)

May 20, 2009

Individual Stress Linked To Adolescent Obesity

Stress may indeed be a direct contributor to childhood obesity. That's according to a new Iowa State University study finding that increased levels of stress in adolescents are associated with a greater likelihood of them being overweight or obese. (ScienceDaily)


Sodas a Tempting Tax Target

Sugar, rum and tobacco are commodities which are nowhere necessaries of life, which are become objects of almost universal consumption, and which are therefore extremely proper subjects of taxation.” — Adam Smith, “The Wealth of Nations,” 1776

That quotation, from the great philosopher of capitalism, appeared at the start of an article that ran a few weeks ago in The New England Journal of Medicine. The article argued for taxing Coke, Pepsi, Gatorade, Red Bull and any other sugar-sweetened beverage, largely to combat obesity.

The authors were Kelly Brownell, a longtime obesity researcher at Yale, and Thomas Frieden, the New York City health commissioner. Since the article appeared, President Obama appointed Dr. Frieden to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So one of the nation’s top public health officials is now a fierce proponent of a soda tax. Meanwhile, other Obama advisers and some Senate staff members have been talking about such a tax — which wouldn’t apply to diet soda or real juice — as a way to help pay for expanded health insurance. Among 15 options for paying for health care reform, a new Senate Finance Committee analysis lists a “sugar-sweetened beverage excise tax.”


Oh... Bingaman introduces obesity bill

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.  - U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman has reintroduced legislation aimed at fighting obesity, particularly among children and adolescents.

The New Mexico Democrat says obesity is a costly problem for the United States in terms of health care expenditures and the loss of life. (Associated Press)


Check out some of the fat marketing pitches: A charity walk is a charity walk is a charity walk ... right?

We frequently receive pitches for marathons, 10K runs, triathlons and walks to raise money and awareness for various charitable organizations. But a recent press release caught our eye. It read: "Please, Don’t Let Them Die Without Saying A Word."

Hmmm.... OK. Then we read further:

"You Report The News for a Living.... Don't You? So, why don't you say something? Would you say something if a loved one was abusing themselves as a smoker, a drug user or addict? YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND YOU NEED TO SPEAK UP!" (Emphasis theirs).

The pitch was for an upcoming fund-raising walk called The Walk From Obesity. Or, as the press release put it, "The Walk From Obesity To Raise Awareness In Memorial of Obesity Related Deaths." We read the attached release, which provided copious stats about the effects of being severely overweight. (LA Times)


New Research on Childhood Obesity by Mintel

When it comes to childhood obesity, what or who is to blame? Food, fitness or family? New research from Mintel -- a leading global supplier of consumer, product and media intelligence -- shows today's parents aren't sure, and they're feeling overwhelmed and worried as they try to prevent obesity in their own children.

In an exclusive consumer survey of American parents, Mintel found confusion over whether diet or exercise is most important for keeping kids at a healthy weight. Nearly three-quarters of parents (72 percent) believe kids have too much access to junk food, while 69 percent feel that a lack of exercise is more to blame for obesity. In addition, two in five parents (40 percent) are concerned that their children might develop obesity. (Gourmet Retailer)


and even: People not acting on cancer-obesity link

OBESITY'S role in causing cancer is not enough to convince South Australians to shed weight, the Cancer Council says.

In the lead-up to its major fundraiser, Australia's Biggest Morning Tea, on May 28, the Cancer Council says community awareness of the link between cancer and obesity has grown by almost 20 per cent in the past four years but obesity levels have continued to rise.

Cancer Council SA chief executive Associate Professor Brenda Wilson says weight loss is the new challenge when it comes to preventing cancer. (The Advertiser [how appropriate])


Carts & horses: Survey Finds Link Between Obesity and Flu Severity

A survey of people hospitalized because of swine flu in California has raised the possibility that obesity is as much of a risk factor for serious complications from the flu as diabetes, heart disease and pregnancy, all known to raise a person's risk. (Washington Post)

People with poor cardiac function usually retain fluid and usually have compromised exercise regimes, that is, they tend to be fatter because of their underlying condition rather than having the underlying condition because they are fatter. It is not weight that is associated with 'flu severity but general health.


The Obesity Paradox

Go figure: Thin cardiac patients fare worse than overweight counterparts.

Here's a quiz. While going for a walk, you notice a pair of your friends eating lunch while sitting on a park bench. They are approximately the same age. One is a very heavy man who is wolfing down a couple of hot dogs and a soda. The other man, who's eating a pizza with the works, is relatively fit and slender.

You're aware that both of these men have heart disease. Which one will live longer?

Obviously there's no way to know for sure, but most would guess that the thinner, healthier-looking man has a better chance of a long and happy life, despite his love of cheese, pepperoni, and sausage in a deep-dish shell.

According to a review article to be published in the May 26 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, most of us would guess wrong. This report suggests that obese patients with heart disease tend to live longer than leaner patients with the same severity of disease. (MSN Health)

Much of the alleged "paradox" stems from misclassification -- much of the weight range currently accused of being obese is not and being thin is not healthy. Some lean people can live quite healthy lives but that is not a consequence of their lack of weight but rather despite it.


Pesticide use is down - just count the dandelions

The congratulatory prose is sure to flow freely at today's board of health meeting, when officials report on the city's successful crackdown on "cosmetic" use of pesticides.

In an analysis of a bylaw approved in 2003, after a pitched battle between the chemical industry and environmentalists, and implemented in 2004, health officials conclude the new rules have "succeeded in reducing pesticide use and encouraging residents and companies to adopt more sustainable lawn and garden care approaches."

In 2007, 60 per cent fewer Toronto homeowners report using any pesticides on their lawn compared with 2004, while two-thirds of them now opt for lower-risk chemicals or natural methods, the report says. This year, the Ontario government imposed even tougher restrictions on cosmetic pesticides, effectively overtaking the city bylaw.

Funny, though, the health board report is silent on the bylaw's role in the annual spring battle with dandelions.

"They are all over the place," laments Councillor Doug Holyday (Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre), of the hardy yellow weeds that now blanket many of the city's parks.

He voted against the bylaw, which applies to city parks, and remains skeptical.

"There's no way of measuring what they have done here," he sniffs. "It is one of those things the environmentalists want to do because it downright feels good to do. It's another piece of tokenism." (Globe & Mail)


Weed Warrior: The Dandelion Roars Back To Life During Pesticide Ban

They have numerous medicinal properties, can be used to make wine, or just tossed into a salad, but most people look upon dandelions as little more than an annoying weed that can threaten to take over an entire lawn if not kept in check.

The latter seems a lot more likely now that an Ontario-wide pesticide ban is in full effect.

Without the harmful poisons at work, dandelions are flourishing, and to some, that's not bad news.

"Dandelions are not as harmful as having high level of pesticides in the environment, and there are ways you can deal with dandelions," said Dr. David McKeown, Chief Medical Officer of Health. (City News)

The world has been awash in pesticides long before there were people and will be long after. Heck, if you eat "natural" dandelions you are flooding your diet with pesticides but that has nothing to do with people. Just about all active ingredients in natural medicines are poisons distilled by plants in an effort to discourage consumption by critters or competition by other plants. How strange people are that they object to pesticides merely because people have borrowed them from "nature" (source of most of our pesticides, antibiotics, toxins and medicines) and synthesized them (and refined them, provide them in known and tested strengths and quantities...).


Green Roofs: Are They Worth the Expense?

Richard M. Daley, the mayor of Chicago, told a panel at the Harvard Club of New York on Monday that he aims to make his city the “most environmentally friendly city in the world.”

A key part of Mr. Daley’s vision involves “green roofs” — the idea of putting plants, and even a few trees, on top of buildings. Chicago already has more than 600 “green roofs,” the mayor said — including one over its City Hall, which even has a couple of beehives.

As well as giving workers from surrounding skyscrapers something pleasant to gaze at, green roofs help keep the city cool, and also filter stormwater so that it does not overwhelm drains.

New York has a few green roofs, but it has not prioritized them in the way that Chicago has (or Toronto, which is thinking of making green roofs mandatory for some new buildings).

The reason is cost, said Carter Strickland, a senior policy adviser in New York City’s long-range planning and sustainability office. “We found that street trees are more cost-effective than green roofs,” he told the panel. (Green Inc.)


FEATURE - US Corn Farmers In Muddy Race With Mother Nature

OPHIR TOWNSHIP - Farmer Monty Whipple held the problem of the eastern US corn belt in the palm of his hand: a ball of mud, densely compacted.

His nearly 400-acre farm, about 90 miles southwest of Chicago in LaSalle County, was filled with mud.

Several fields less than a mile down the country road had as much as a foot of standing water.

Farmers in the Midwest prefer to have their corn crop planted by now. The rule of thumb is that for each day planted after May 15, a bushel of corn is lost per acre. (Reuters)


UN Releases Post-Kyoto Negotiating Documents

Important negotiating documents for the successor to the Kyoto Protocol were released by the United Nations yesterday in advance of negotiating sessions scheduled for early June in Bonn. The documents are compilations of suggestions by various countries seeking to shape the international treaty expected to emerge out of the major negotiations in Copenhagen later this year.

It is interesting to see how these documents evolve during the months leading up to Copenhagen as they give the first concrete sense of many countries' negotiating positions. (TPM)


Uncle Sam Will Give You an Energy 'Allowance'

On Friday, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) released the closely-held details of his bill rationing energy use in the name of global warming, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES).

The details had been kept secret for two reasons. First, Waxman had been working desperately to buy off key Democrats on his own committee -- such as Virginia’s Rick Boucher and Michigan’s John Dingell -- whose states would suffer hugely under the “cap and tax” scheme, plus others with energy-intensive employers in their districts. He succeeded by, in short, giving energy use ration coupons to select employers for resale to some poor saps without Washington lobbyists.

And before those lawmakers were bought off with targeted limitations of the bill’s effects, it was impossible to assess the bill’s cost, leaving us only with the president’s guidance uttered when he let on to this agenda item: “Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”

That was an uncharacteristic expression of modesty because cap-and-trade actually will cause the cost of gasoline to skyrocket, too, and increase the cost of everything that uses energy in its production. Which is everything. And the only difference between Obama’s plan and Waxman’s is that Waxman bought votes by giving away many of the ration coupons; either way, Obama’s budget director Peter Orszag has serially admitted, it is you the consumer and ratepayer who will pay. (Christopher C. Horner, Human Events)


Cap and trade or coach and horses

Whether a climate change bill emerges from the US Congress this year is much in doubt. Most Republicans still oppose the very idea of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. Democrats are less than united in their commitment to it, once forced to consider the implications. The signs are that if a bill does somehow pass, it will be ugly.

A subcommittee of the House of Representatives has taken the lead in drafting a cap-and-trade plan – the approach promised by Barack Obama – but its initial efforts give one pause.

Under cap and trade, emitters require permits and the supply of these allowances is capped at a level that reduces total emissions. So long as the cap binds, the permits have a value and the system creates a market to trade them. This ensures that cuts in emissions happen where they can be made at least cost. As a result, cap and trade is much more efficient than decreeing a uniform cut regardless of the source of emission.

The problem is not with the basic idea. A well-designed cap-and-trade scheme, though lacking the simplicity and transparency of an outright carbon tax, can do the job nearly as well. Unfortunately, Congress seems keen to take the opportunities for gaming that cap and trade presents, and increase them tenfold. (Financial Times)


Let's Have Cap and No Trade

The adage that everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die is on display again as the House considers a massive 932-page climate-change bill, introduced by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), that would establish a "cap and trade" system for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. Its sponsors say it will keep low- and middle-income consumers whole while the United States cuts emissions 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050 and transitions to a clean-energy economy.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

On paper, the Waxman-Markey bill puts a cost on carbon dioxide by imposing a ceiling, or cap, on greenhouse gas emissions and then setting up a market for regulated industries -- such as the electric power sector -- to buy and sell allowances to pollute under that cap. As the cap is reduced each year, market participants will exchange allowances in a complex auction market.

If you liked what credit default swaps did to our economy, you're going to love cap-and-trade. Just read Title VIII of the bill, which lets investment banks, hedge funds and other speculators participate in the cap-and-trade market. They don't have emissions to cut; they have commissions to make. (David Sokol, Washington Post)


House panel tackles climate change bill

WASHINGTON - U.S. lawmakers began wrangling on Tuesday over a climate change bill aimed at reducing carbon dioxide and other pollutants, with Republicans arguing the legislation would burden the economy with higher energy costs. (Reuters)


Climate Bill: Plenty of Sound and Fury in Waxman-Markey Hearings

Surprise, surprise: There wasn’t much show of bipartisanship at the markup hearings on the big Waxman-Markey energy and climate bill today in the House. (WSJ)


Son of Waxman-Markey: More Politics Makes for a More Costly Bill

Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA) modified their global warming proposal from the draft version published on March 31. For the most part, the changes focused on the distribution of the allowance revenue--the equivalent of tax revenue.

There was also a slight easing of targeted emissions reductions for 2020, which resulted in a marginally lower economic impact. However, the new distribution of allowances created a less efficient pattern of government expenditures and more than offset the gain from the lower cap for 2020. (Heritage)


Conoco: Proposed Climate Change Bill Unfair For Refiners

HOUSTON -- ConocoPhilliips (COP) said Tuesday it's concerned that climate change legislation being discussed by the U.S. House of Representatives is unfair to domestic fuel producers and could increase consumption of imported fuels.

The proposed bill, called the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, would establish a cap on greenhouse gases emissions, and companies will have to submit allowances, or permits, to cover their emissions. The government would distribute some of these allowances to some industries without being subject to auction to reduce the economic impact of the cap-and-trade program on these industries and their consumers.

Under the provisions of the proposed bill, U.S. refiners will have a legal compliance obligation to purchase allowances for emissions from their manufacturing facilities, as well as allowances for consumer emissions associated with using refined petroleum products, such as transportation fuels.

"This means that U.S. refiners will be bearing the cost for roughly one-third of the nation's greenhouse gases emissions but only receiving 2% of the total allowances under the current proposal," ConocoPhillips said in a press release. (Dow Jones)


Better late than never, we suppose: Climate change: GOP turns on business

Senate Republicans have come up with a novel way to fight the climate change bill.

Senate Republicans have come up with a novel way to fight the climate change bill working its way through the House: Tee off on Big Business, and tie it around the neck of the Democrats.

In a strategy memo obtained by POLITICO, Republican staffers for the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works say Republicans should argue that Democrats are embracing “Wall Street traders,” “polluters” and “others in corporate America” who are “guilty of manipulating national climate policy to increase profits on the backs of consumers.

The Republican role-reversal may be counterintuitive — GOP candidates routinely describe themselves as “pro-business” — but Republicans say it reflects their party’s new reality.

“Business is not always going to be a good friend of the Republicans, and that needs to be reflected in our strategy,” said MWR Strategies President Michael McKenna, a Republican energy lobbyist. “The GOP business model is probably busted forever. It started to break apart on TARP, and it could permanently break apart on climate change.”

While the GOP tries to hold the line against a massive climate change bill, a number of major corporations — including Duke Energy, Johnson & Johnson and Shell Corp. — are backing cap-and-trade proposals by the United States Climate Action Partnership coalition, a group of environmental groups and businesses advocating legislation to reduce greenhouse gases.

The GOP memo accuses USCAP members of “blatant rent-seeking.” (Politico)

We've been pointing out rent-seeking behavior by the big end of town for ages, so where was everybody?


Ethanol formula, climate bill collide in House

WASHINGTON - Democratic leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives must change existing biofuel rules if they want to pass a bill to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, the House Agriculture Committee chairman said on Tuesday.

Rep. Collin Peterson, chairman of the panel, along with nearly four dozen other farm-state lawmakers, has sponsored a bill to amend the 2007 Energy law so indirect land use change will not factor into calculating greenhouse gas emissions from production of advanced biofuels.

For instance, the 2007 law penalizes makers of advanced biofuels such as biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol if farmers clear forest or grasslands for food crops to replace the crops devoted to biofuels.

Peterson and the bill's cosponsors say this unfairly makes it hard for ethanol and biodiesel makers to qualify as advanced biofuels under a federal mandate. Their bill also would make more land eligible to produce biomass for advanced biofuels. (Reuters)


U. S. Climate bill would be 'disaster'

Prentice urges D. C. to drop proposed sanction

Jim Prentice, the Minister of the Environment, yesterday warned U. S. lawmakers to drop proposed trade sanctions on imports from countries with higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions, saying the measure would be a "prescription for disaster" for the global economy.

In the Harper government's toughest critique yet of draft U. S. climate legislation, Mr. Prentice told a Washington audience a proposal to slap a "carbon-border adjustment" fee on foreign manufacturers violates the core principles of international trade.

In addition, any U. S. decision to impose such a trade tariff threatens the chances of reaching an international climate change deal later this year in Copenhagen, Mr. Prentice said. (Sheldon Alberts, Canwest News Service)


Gotta admit, China plays a really good game: China and US held secret talks on climate change deal

A high-powered group of senior Republicans and Democrats led two missions to China in the final months of the Bush administration for secret backchannel negotiations aimed at securing a deal on joint US-Chinese action on climate change, the Guardian has learned.

The initiative, involving John Holdren, now the White House science adviser, and others who went on to positions in Barack Obama's administration, produced a draft agreement in March, barely two months after the Democrat assumed the presidency.

The memorandum of understanding was not signed, but those involved in opening up the channel of communications believe it could provide the foundation for a US-Chinese accord to battle climate change, which could be reached as early as this autumn. (The Guardian)


meanwhile: China to focus on energy efficiency post-Kyoto: state media

BEIJING — China may pledge to improve its energy efficiency by a wide margin in the post-Kyoto years rather than commit to direct cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, state media said Friday. (AFP)


Kyoto Protocol overreach must not be repeated

To what extent should the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions be reduced by 2020? As the government is finalizing a mid-term goal on the issue, it is most important to set a realistic and achievable numerical target.

Prime Minister Taro Aso is to finalize the nation's mid-term goal in June. As the basis for discussions, a government panel has presented six options whose emission targets range from an increase of 4 percent to a decrease of 25 percent compared with the 1990 level.

A mid-term goal would be important since it would directly link to a new international framework on emission cuts that will succeed the Kyoto Protocol in 2013. Numerical targets that the government hammers out likely will become the minimum level that Japan is to take on under the post-Kyoto accord framework, for which talks are set to be completed by the end of this year.

The European Union has declared a mid-term goal of reducing emissions by 20 percent from the 1990 level. The United States hopes to cut its emissions to the 1990 level. Environment Minister Tetsuo Saito has said that Japan also needs to have "an ambitious goal."

But setting a goal that is too demanding likely would prove troublesome for the nation, as the Kyoto Protocol has shown. (Yomiuri Shimbun)


Additional complexities for Japanese mid-term target

Investing time into lengthy deliberations in order to construct a broad consensus is an inescapable step in Japanese decision-making. Yet it is also true that in the case of a deadlock concerned parties, rather than engaging in open confrontation, settle their differences in backstage negotiations. This is why the current public meetings on the country’s mid-term commitments for greenhouse gas emissions reductions are such an unusual phenomenon in Japanese domestic politics. (Alexandru Luta, International Politics of Natural Resources and the Environment)


INTERVIEW - EU Urges Deeper Carbon Cuts On Australia

SYDNEY - The European Union urged Australia on Monday to make deeper cuts to greenhouse gas emissions than it has committed to so far, saying the success of climate change talks this year depended on tougher action from rich nations. (Reuters)


Back in imagination land: Floods, Fires To Test EU Climate Response - Report

BRUSSELS - Flash floods, wildfires and heatwaves brought on by climate change could test Europe's ability to insure against and respond to natural disasters, a new report warns.

Flooding of the Nile Delta and further desertification of north Africa could also unleash a wave of migrants from Europe's southern neighbours, said delegates at the launch of the European Union-backed ADAM report. (Reuters)


From CO2 Science this week:

CO2 Truth-Alert

Dirty Old Fuels

In a recent Repower America ad, a young construction worker urges cutting our dependence on "old dirty fuels that are killing our planet" ...

Click here to watch additional CO2 Truth-Alerts on various global warming topics, to embed any of our videos on your own web page, or to watch them on YouTube in a higher resolution.


Cleansing the Atmosphere Spurs Global Warming: How so?

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week

Was there a Medieval Warm Period? YES, according to data published by 703 individual scientists from 408 separate research institutions in 40 different countries ... and counting! This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from Dulan, Northeastern Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, China. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary:

Range Expansion (Animals - Birds): Contrary to climate-alarmist claims, earth's birds will likely do just fine in the face of any global warming that may occur in the future.

Plant Growth Data:

This week we add new results of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Alfalfa (Aranjuelo et al., 2009), Ambersweet Orange Tree (Allen and Vu, 2009), Rice (Cheng et al., 2009), and Scots Pine (Alberton and Kuyper, 2009).

Journal Reviews:

Western North Pacific Tropical Cyclones: How have their characteristics varied over the past half-century?

China-Influencing Typhoons: How have their characteristics varied over the past half-century?

Two Millennia of Temperature and Precipitation Changes in Arid Central Asia: What did the data suggest about earth's recent past and it's future climatic evolution?

Evolutionary Response to Heat Shock: It can be extremely rapid in many species.

The Corn Ethanol Con: The U.S. government-subsidized corn ethanol industry appears to be a bust in terms of both its intended goal and the price to be paid for it. (


European studies claim no climate effect from 9/11 grounding

German and UK scientists have challenged the idea that the climate was significantly influenced by the absence of contrails when the US FAA grounded flights after the events of 11 September 2001.

According to US scientists who studied US skies after the temporary grounding, the absence of contrails triggered variations in the Earth's temperature range by 1.1°C each day.

But follow-up work by a number of scientists working independently has shown that the observed change in the daily temperature range was more likely to be a statistical quirk associated with the weather, and that contrails by themselves are likely to have had only a minor effect. (Air Transport Intelligence news)


Right... Global warming could be twice as bad as forecast

WASHINGTON, May 19 - Global warming's effects this century could be twice as extreme as estimated just six years ago, scientists reported on Tuesday.

Earth's median surface temperature could rise 9.3 degrees F (5.2 degrees C) by 2100, the scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found, compared to a 2003 study that projected a median temperature increase of 4.3 degrees F (2.4 degrees C).

The new study, published in the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate, said the difference in projection was due to improved economic modeling and newer economic data than in previous scenarios.

Earlier climate warming may also have been masked by the global cooling effect of 20th-century volcanoes and by the emission of soot, which can add to warming, the scientists said in a statement. (Reuters)

Now, I haven't kept strict count but, by my reckoning, this is about the ninth time warming is alleged to be "twice as bad", um... 29 is 512 isn't it? I guess warming's supposed to be about 500 times worse than, uh, someone, thought now then?

Guess what? If it keeps cooling it really might be!


More 'puter-generated 'disasters' Study: Climate change affects polar bears

WASHINGTON, May 19 -- A U.S. study refutes a publicized criticism of the negative effects of climate change on polar bears, supporting the listing of them as a threatened species.

The study -- conducted by scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Universities of Alaska and Maryland, the Canadian Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service -- refutes point-by-point the criticism of negative polar bear population predictions. The new study is said to reinforce the U.S. Department of Interior's May 2008 decision to list polar bears as a threatened species. (UPI)


'Climate change' book refutes government report

A new book on climate change is hitting shelves soon.

The book -- titled Climate Change Reconsidered -- is authored by scientists Craig Idso and Fred Singer. Joe Bast, president and CEO of The Heartland Institute, helped edit the book; he says the book is a response to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report on global warming.

"It is an authoritative, detailed, and completely scientific rebuttal of the claim that global warming is a crisis," Bast explains. (OneNewsNow)



CHURCHVILLE, VA—The Culbin Sands in Scotland are one of the famed historic storm sites in the world. In 1694, the area was rich farmland, with a manor house and numerous tenant farms amid the fields and orchards. Then a “western hurricane” struck the Firth of Moray, and in two nights the howling storm had buried the houses, orchards, and 14 square miles of fields under 30 feet of sand. The sand is there today, though now covered with Corsican pine trees planted in the 1920s to keep the sand from blowing onto neighboring lands. (Dennis T. Avery, CGFI)


Burn the trees to save the world?

Could reviving the ancient technique of charcoal making really solve the global food crisis, halt deforestation and lock up carbon dioxide for good? Chris Goodall sifts fact from myth on biochar. (Green Futures)


He's been bitten by Al Gore? Obama Sets Emission Rules

WASHINGTON — President Obama announced tough new nationwide rules for automobile emissions and mileage standards on Tuesday, embracing standards that California has sought to enact for years over the objections of the auto industry and the Bush administration.

“For the first time in history, we have set in motion a national policy aimed at both increasing gas mileage and decreasing greenhouse gas pollution for all new trucks and cars sold in the United States of America,” Mr. Obama said in remarks from Washington, flanked by officials from Michigan and California.

The rules, which will begin to take effect in 2012, will put in place a federal standard for fuel efficiency that is as tough as the California program, while imposing the first-ever limits on climate-altering gases from cars and trucks. (New York Times)

What are they trying to do, kill off the internal combustion engine? Sure looks like it: step one, nationalize/destroy the auto industry; step two, make vehicles unsafe and less useful; ...


Obama Says New Car-Fuel Rules Give Industry 'Certainty'

WASHINGTON-- President Barack Obama said new government rules designed to boost fuel efficiency and slash greenhouse-gas emissions will give auto makers "clear certainty" at a time when their business is enduring a "historic crisis."

"In the past, an agreement such as this would have been considered impossible," Mr. Obama said in a speech in the Rose Garden, where he was joined by auto executives, state governors and car-union officials.

"At a time of historic crisis in our auto industry... this rule provides the clear certainty that will allow these companies to plan for a future in which they are building the cars of the 21st century," the president said. (Wall Street Journal)


What utter rubbish! Automakers embrace fuel deal

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama announced a historic compromise on tough fuel economy rules among automakers, environmentalists and government agencies, saying a standard of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016 was a “harbinger of a change in the way business is done in Washington.”

The pact, hammered out just last weekend, was embraced by Detroit and foreign automakers for granting them national targets for the next eight years, rather than setting short-term goals. California, the nation’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, will defer its rules through 2016 in return for federal rules that match its goals.

The wild card remains consumers, who will be asked to pay about $600 more per vehicle in 2016. Obama said owners would pay off the extra cost in three years of driving and that over the vehicle’s lifetime, owners would save $2,800.

Auto executives said while the costs were high, consumers would embrace the changes once they saw the savings in fuel. (Free Press)

My family's lives are worth far more to me than is fuel economy, period. If I could afford it I would drive them around in an armored tank just like the president's fuel guzzler.

Why would I pay an extra premium to make them less safe in lighter, more frangible transport?


Comments On New Federal Vehicle Car Fuel Mileage Standard Of 35.5 MPG

Updated pm May 19 for clarity at the beginning of the first sentence of the paragraph below the bullets

Today, President Obama is announcing the establishment of a new car fuel mileage standard of 35.5 miles per gallon ( see Automakers, Obama announce mileage, pollution plan by Ken Thomas and Philip Elliot).  Their article includes the new framework for this standard where they report

“Historically, the program was a fleet average,” said Browner, who headed the EPA during the Clinton administration. “What we’re doing here is proposing standards for every category of car.”

This increase in the standard could be achieved by one or more of the following:

  • technology could improve the efficiency of the combustion process
  • technology could provide/permit the use of alternative energy sources such as hybrid and electric engines
  • vehicles could be made smaller and/or lighter

The first approach would use the current type of combustion engine and make it even more efficient than it is at present. The second method reduces tailpipe emissions of the combution products from the vehicle, although the emissions from the source of the energy (i.e. power plants) needs to be included in the assessment of mileage. The third approach could use lighter materials to build the cars and/or they could be made smaller.

I agree that the technology improvements in the first two bullets would be a win-win for both the environment and for the reduction of the import of foreign energy sources, and should be achievable without a reduction in safety.

However, if the approach is just to make cars smaller and/or lighter, the potential increase in injuries and deaths as a result makes this a poor approach; e.g. see

Another Example Of An Environmental Tradeoff - Reduced CO2 Emissions And Lower Fuel Cost Versus Personal Safety

Congress should require that the fuel standard not be achieved by simply reducing the size and/or weight of cars, but through technology improvements. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)


Only 11 of today's cars reach Obama's 35.5 mpg fleet average, EPA figures show

Sure, the Obama administration's expected announcement that automakers must reach a fleet average 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016 is guaranteed to win the hearts of environmentalists. But in the real world, it's stunning how few vehicles reach that level today.

Just a handful, a review of EPA fuel listings reveal. Nothing larger than a midsize sedan, even when you include hybrids. Poring over the list of 2009, here's the only ones we found that get 36 mpg or better on the highway. And that's if you count average highway driving mpg, not the generally lower city driving figure. Not all versions of the same model may make the grade. (USA TODAY)


Obama adviser unsure of car plan's ethanol impact

NEW YORK - President Barack Obama's assistant on energy and climate change said on Tuesday she did not know how a tough White House plan to raise the fuel economy of the U.S. car fleet would affect the ethanol industry.

"I don't know the answer to that," Carol Browner told reporters in a teleconference about the plan.

She said modelers had looked at the issue, but she did not know the answer offhand. (Reuters)



When CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards are put into effect, automakers will have about seven years to comply with 39 mpg cars and 26 mpg for trucks. (Steve LeMaster, Global Warming Skeptics)

China Unveils State Fuel Reserve Plan

BEIJING - China said on Monday it will boost state reserves of refined fuels, its first official plan to expand beyond its crude reserves, and help cut high inventories held by oil companies.

The world's second-largest oil user would accelerate the formulation of policies for such reserves, according to a post on the central government's website, only months after Beijing filled its first four crude reserve bases totalling 100 million barrels.

"(China should) take advantage of the current opportunities to raise government reserves of refined fuels, and accelerate in the formulation of policies for fuel reserves following the model of crude reserve," it said. (Reuters)


Peru Oil Pipeline Halted On Protests In Amazon

LIMA - Protesters in the Amazon basin have forced Peru's state energy company to shut its crude oil pipeline, a company official said on Monday as the government tries to end weeks of demonstrations over natural resources.

Indigenous communities have blocked roads and waterways to pressure the government to revoke investment laws Peru passed under a free-trade pact with the United States and to revise concessions granted to foreign energy companies.

Peru is encouraging investment as it tries to transform itself from a net oil importer into a net exporter. (Reuters)


EPA Greenlights 42 Mountaintop Removal Mining Permits

Environmentalists on Friday called on the Obama administration to intervene in the permitting process of 42 new mountaintop removal coal mining sites in Appalachia.

Representative Nick Rahall (D-WV) announced that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has given the green light to the Army Corps of Engineers to approve as many as 42 new permits for destructive mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia. If true, and if these permits--more than were even approved during recent years by the Bush Administration--were to proceed, this could mean certain destruction of hundreds of miles of Appalachian streams and hundreds of acres of America's oldest mountains.

"Because it appears that the EPA is unwilling to intervene, it is now imperative that the White House Council on Environmental Quality take immediate action to stop the bulldozers," Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope said in a statement. "The Obama administration should take swift action to fix the flawed "fill rule" that enables this type of devastating mining and should act decisively to save the mountains, rivers and communities of Appalachia." (SustainableBusiness)


More air pollution and destroyed car engines “common-sense solution”

In the Age of Obamius, what else would you expect? After all, coal plants need to be regulated into bankruptcy, domestic oil sources must be forgotten…this was just another step into a greener, friendlier USA:

An effort to raise the 10% limit on ethanol in gasoline has misfired with Wisconsin engine makers Briggs & Stratton Corp., Mercury Marine, and the maker of Evinrude outboard engines.

Testing has not yet shown whether higher levels of the fuel additive are acceptable and safe, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, a Chicago-based trade group, said Monday in a Washington, D.C., news conference.

Increasing the ethanol blend to 15%, currently being considered by the Environmental Protection Agency, could damage or ruin millions of small engines and possibly worsen air pollution, according to the engine manufacturers.

Engine performance and overheating are among the problems, since most boats, lawn mowers and other outdoor power products haven’t been designed to run on 15% ethanol.

It’s a common-sense solution to economic, energy and environmental challenges, according to Growth Energy, an ethanol industry trade group that’s petitioned the government for the change.

Testing also hasn’t yet confirmed whether current levels are safe, only that high dosages kill lab animals. Hey, if it’s to save the environment, it’s fine! Rats aren’t part of the environment, anyway. (Hot Air)


Brazil Hopes To Team Up With China In Biofuel

Media - BEIJING - Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will focus on renewable fuels during his visit to Beijing this week, hoping to team up with China to develop bio-fuels, the Caijing Magazine has reported.

Lula arrived in Beijing on Monday and will pay a state visit for three days.

"We will focus on renewable fuels, especially ethanol and bio-diesel," Lula told Caijing in an interview on Friday when asked about his priorities for his state visit. The two developing countries already have strong trade ties. (Reuters)


Car Scrappage Incentive Scheme Begins

LONDON - A scheme to give motorists 2,000 pounds to trade in their old banger for a new car comes into force on Monday.

The 300 million pound initiative, announced in April's budget, aims to boost the ailing car industry and give a boost to manufacturers.

Customers will get the discount when they scrap a vehicle that is at least 10 years old, with 38 manufacturers taking part covering all the major brands. (Reuters)

May 19, 2009

W.H.O. May Raise Alert Level as Swine Flu Cases Leap in Japan - The number of swine flu cases in Japan soared over the weekend, raising the likelihood that the World Health Organization will soon have to raise its pandemic alert level to 6, the highest level. (New York Times)

Preparedness is All - Swine flu is still out there, spreading sickness and notching up fatalities. There is no case for panic, but every need to remain alert to the danger

Whatever happened to swine flu? Remember it? The virus from Mexico was supposed to rampage through the world, preying on the young and the weak. But the prominence of recent reporting suggests that we are witnessing a modern medical miracle. MPs’ allowances appear to have cured swine flu.

Yet swine flu is still out there, spreading sickness and notching up fatalities. It has not yet reached pandemic status. But 39 countries have now reported cases of the flu. Four countries – Mexico, the United States, Canada and Costa Rica — have had fatalities from the disease. Yesterday, the UK Health Protection Agency reported 14 new cases here, taking the tally to 101. This weekend, two populous countries, India and Turkey, reported their first cases of the disease. Once we would have witnessed terror at this news and a run on face masks; instead the world has given a bored shrug.

Is this muted reaction all that swine flu deserves, a rational scaling-back of the panic that it engendered when Mexicans first started to die? Or are we delusional, caught up in a manufactured constitutional crisis while a deadly and malevolent disease stalks us? (The Times)

Adequate Supply of Swine Flu Vaccine Uncertain - U.S. has enough capacity for typical season; experts less sure about global outlook

MONDAY, May 18 -- The current swine flu outbreak is raising critical questions about the timing of bringing a new vaccine to market and the logistics of getting it to the people who need it.

If vaccine manufacturers shift gears immediately, it could cut into this fall's production of seasonal influenza vaccine, experts say. If they wait too long, the H1N1 influenza (swine flu) virus could become more virulent.

Global vaccine experts, as part of a series of meetings convened by the World Health Organization (WHO), met Thursday to weigh the evidence that will lead to a recommendation to manufacturers. (HealthDay News)

About time: Is everyone who's obese actually unhealthy? - Dr. Arya Sharma, a top Canadian obesity doctor, says it's time to stop treating all people who qualify as officially obese due to their Body Mass Index (BMI) as equally in need to weight-loss treatment.

One of Canada's top obesity doctors says it's time to stop recommending weight loss for everyone who meets official criteria for obesity.

Dr. Arya Sharma says being obese doesn't necessarily doom people to poor health and that weight loss recommendations should be targeted at those most at risk because of medical problems.

Many people who meet the body mass index criteria for obesity "are really not that sick at all," says Sharma, chairman for cardiovascular obesity research and management at the University of Alberta and scientific director of the Canadian Obesity Network.

"It's not unusual to find someone come into your practice whose BMI is 30 or 32 (technically obese). This might be someone who is physically active, who is eating a good healthy diet. If you followed the guidelines to the letter you would be prescribing obesity treatment when there's really no reason to do that, because they're not medically obese."

"It's not enough to just know how big someone is. In order to make medical decisions, you need to know how sick someone is." (Sharon Kirkey, Canwest News Service)

Distressingly for the fat police: Heart disease patients carrying extra pounds do better, live longer - Weight of evidence still points to purposeful weight loss, further research needed

Being overweight or obese is a leading contributor to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and associated risk factors; however, in patients with established CVD, obesity appears to play a protective role. In fact, data suggest obese patients with heart disease do better and tend to live longer than leaner patients with the same severity of disease, according to a review article published in the May 26, 2009, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"Obese patients with heart disease respond well to treatment and have paradoxically better outcomes and survival than thinner patients," said Carl Lavie, M.D., F.A.C.C., medical director of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Prevention, Ochsner Medical Center, New Orleans, LA and lead author of the article. "Although these patients have a more favorable short- and long-term prognosis, we don't yet understand the mechanisms for why this might be the case." (American College of Cardiology)

Bias against obese people increasing, study says - With more people becoming obese, it would stand to reason attitudes toward obese people should be getting more tolerant. But a major new study shows the opposite is true.

Yale University scientists who searched through medical studies on weight bias published between January 2000 and May 2008 found:

More than half of 620 doctors surveyed view obese patients as "awkward," "unattractive," "ugly" and "non-compliant." A third went further, painting the obese as weak-willed, sloppy and lazy. Even dietitians, personal trainers and doctors who specialize in treating obesity exhibit fat phobia. (Sharon Kirkey , Canwest News Service)

New York State proposes ‘fat’ tax - Currently bill number A02455 is before the New York Assembly. This bill, dubbed the ‘fat tax’ would add an extra tax to the sales of certain foods, beverages, video games, movies and video game equipment. This bill that, if approved, would implement additional taxes consumers would have to pay on specific products.

The first additional tax is a one-quarter of one percent sales tax on food and beverages (bottled water not included), sale and rental of video and computer games, and video game equipment and the sale and rental of video and DVD movies.

The second additional tax would add a one percent sales tax to admission to movie theaters and food and drink that are defined as sweets or snacks according to the US Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.

This bill also prevents corporations from deducting from their income their New York share of expenditures for advertising food, video games and equipment, and movies and videos or DVDs, on television shows primarily watched by children under eighteen. (Examiner)

New NYC health chief: Obesity is big fat problem - NEW YORK - The city needs to go beyond posting calorie counts on menus to seriously address its obesity problem, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's incoming health commissioner said Monday.

More than half of all adult New Yorkers are overweight or obese, and the city's law requiring chain restaurants to post calorie counts on menus may not go far enough in trying to improve New Yorkers' health, Dr. Thomas Farley told The Associated Press.

"I do think we need to take on obesity more seriously, and that's going to focus on dietary issues probably beyond calorie labeling," Farley said in an interview Monday after Bloomberg announced his appointment.

Farley said the specifics will come after he officially starts the job next month. (Associated Press)

Obese anti-dieting crusaders lead charge for overweight civil rights - Kate Harding has spent most of her life on one diet or another, losing weight but always gaining it back. Determined to improve her quality of life, she joined a fast-growing group of anti-dieting activists promoting overweight people's civil rights.

Launching an anti-dieting blog called Shapely Prose, Harding and other fat-acceptance advocates online — calling themselves the "fat-o-sphere" — are also educating one another about how to improve overweight people's health. (Reuters)

Does Wal-Mart Make You Skinny? - Surprising research suggests Wal-Mart can actually reduce obesity in low-income neighborhoods starved for affordable fresh food.

Growing alarm over the epidemic of obesity in the United States, particularly among the poor, has focused attention on the marketing of food in low-income neighborhoods. Some cities have sought to restrict the number of fast-food restaurants in certain areas, or ban them within walking distance of public schools. They argue that junk food is too cheap and available; healthier food too expensive and elusive.

They’re half right. It isn’t that low-income people can’t afford to eat healthy: A 2005 USDA study found that you can fulfill your requirement of fruits and vegetables for 64 cents per day—less than the cost of a candy bar. But access to healthy food in poor, urban areas really is a problem. There are stretches of U.S. cities where you’ll pass three Wendy’s and five convenience stores before you’ll find a produce stand.

In the popular imagination, a big-box store such as Wal-Mart is more often seen as part of the problem than part of the solution: We associate Wal-Mart with large women in stretch pants, fat kids sucking down tubs of soda, and morbidly obese men inching down the snack-food aisle in motorized shopping carts. The store makes candy, chips, and soda ridiculously cheap—so wouldn’t Wal-Mart contribute to the obesity problem?

That’s what economists Art Carden of Rhodes College and Charles Courtemanche of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro suspected. So they conducted a study to find out. Carden and Courtemanche have done a number of studies on Wal-Mart. Carden insists they get no funding from the company, directly or indirectly. Rather, he says, the two free-market economists have been intrigued by the Wal-Mart debate and wanted to test some of the more common criticisms of the store. Generally, they’ve found that the worst fears about Wal-Mart are unfounded, and that the stores have a mostly positive impact on their communities. (Radley Balko, The Daily Beast)

Pesticide in pools far above safe limit - PESTICIDE regulators will consider banning or restricting the use of a controversial chemical in swimming pool treatments after concerns were raised about potential harmful impacts on children who swim regularly.

Australia's pesticides regulator told The Australian it would review the use of the herbicide simazine, a common ingredient in swimming pool anti-algae treatments and suburban weed killers.

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority revealed it would consider imposing restrictions on its use, including in pools, while the review was being conducted. (The Australian)

All this because a fiends of the earth chemical crank came up with a hypothetical breach of a many order of magnitude safety level? Why? No one has been harmed nor is there the slightest realistic suggestion that they might be.

Kids being sickened or killed by inadequately treated pool water, however, is a serious risk.

Pesticides indicted in bee deaths - Agriculture officials have renewed their scrutiny of the world's best-selling pest-killer as they try to solve the mysterious collapse of the nation's hives. (Julia Scott, Salon)

It'd be a really neat hypothesis but for the fact it doesn't fit. These pesticides were in general use in years without colony collapse disorder and withdrawal of the pesticide does not influence its prevalence.

Why the honeybee decline? - Pesticides, stress, genetic changes in ticks all being tested as causes (Yomiuri Shimbun)

Desalination Plant Clears Final California Hurdle - LOS ANGELES - The biggest seawater desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere, north of San Diego, can begin construction by year's end after a six-year effort to win regulators' approval, the developer said on Thursday.

The San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board voted unanimously on Wednesday to approve permit revisions for the $300 million facility, which will produce 50 million gallons of drinking water daily, enough for 110,000 households. (Reuters)

Boston landfills - Anthony Watts writes about the artificial land created in Boston. It's a topic that I have always found amazing, so I can't resist to write this simple text. (The Reference Frame)

You can't see the danger for the trees - So fearful are many Blue Mountains residents at the prospect of a catastrophic bushfire to rival Victoria's February disaster that their MP, Phil Koperberg, has had to call two public meetings next week to address their safety concerns.

As experienced local volunteer firefighters warn that one of the most bushfire-prone areas in the world is a "time bomb" waiting to go off, with houses nestled in bushland and roads covered in trees, the focus is on large amounts of ground fuel and whether hazard-reduction burn-offs have been adequate.

A petition from 800 residents of Linden and surrounding areas condemning the NSW Government for failing to carry out enough burn-offs was tabled in Parliament last week. Angry residents cite one burn that has been held up for four years because of the objection of a single land owner.

"People used to say 10 tonnes of ground fuel per hectare was excessive," says Don Nott, 66, a Springwood real estate agent, life member of the Winmalee fire brigade and former group captain of the Blue Mountains Rural Fire Service (RFS). "Here we have 30 tonnes per hectare. We're living on a time bomb."

On Monday night in Springwood, he and fellow firefighters intend to "take on" Koperberg's meeting.

He says authorities and green groups pay only lip service to allowing local brigades to light controlled fires in the cooler months to burn off ground fuel - a process known as "hazard reduction" or "prescribed burning".

"Over the years the whole process of getting approval has become so bureaucratic and convoluted … with so much paperwork and so many restrictions about when you can light or can't light, it has made it virtually impossible."

Burn-offs occur only three or four days a year, he says, not nearly enough to reduce ground fuel to safe levels. (Miranda Devine, Sydney Morning Herald)

Bonnie Erbe: Starvation making a comeback? - America’s greatest generation, coming of age before and during World War II, was admonished to leave no spinach behind by parents who warned, “Children are starving in Europe.”

Boomers, postwar babies, were similarly taunted to eat food young children normally would avoid with the phrase, “Children are starving in India and China.”

I’m not sure to which region of the world parents of Gen X and Gen Y children turned to convince kids empty dinner plates were a sine qua non to a meal’s conclusion, except perhaps war zones such as Sudan or Rwanda. The last two decades have produced few if any mass starvations that were not driven by war.

Developing nations’ starvation-free status is a relatively new phenomenon. It only came about since the 1960s as a result of the so-called Green Revolution. Developed nations could not stand idly by as their farmers produced abundant surpluses, while Asian and African children perished for lack of rice or bread. So they exported irrigation, fertilizers, pesticides, high-growth seeds and a panoply of agricultural techniques that allowed Indian, Chinese and other farmers in starvation-ravaged states to increase yields exponentially. But the same Green Revolution that kept the world fed lo these past three decades is starting to splinter if not pulverize. (Bonnie Erbe, Scripps Howard News Service)

If we let watermelons and obstructionists have their way, certainly mass starvation looms as a threat. Note two things make make this a real possibility -- the antibiotechnology and anticarbon crusades by misanthropic greens hell-bent on "saving" Gaia from the parasitic infestation (or pathogen) of people.

The gorebull warmers are a huge threat to people and society.

Greenpeace in red - Christopher Webb says Greenpeace is now struggling to make a buck from eco-scares:

The latest accounts of Greenpeace Australia Pacific show it has slumped into the red after a big jump in personnel expenses. The company suffered a $1.5 million turnaround, losing $193,992 and ringing up a $438,475 deficit on the operating cash-flow front…

The personnel costs take a decent chunk of money raised from Greenpeace’s supporter base, which, over time, has been falling alarmingly. Six years ago the outfit had nearly 130,000 supporters but the latest accounts said the base was “approximately” 100,000.

The organisation has tried the Left’s typical we-know-best-how-to-spend-your-cash approach to meet the bill for the kind of over-manning you also expect from the Left:

Greenpeace recently copped flak for “auto-upgrading” some regular donations, without specific permission from contributors.

One reason expenses are so high is that Greenpeace is simply burning too much oil in trying to tell the rest of us to use less:

Travel looked to have soaked up a pretty penny, with Greenpeace personnel visiting Tokyo, Niue, Pohnpei, South Korea, Poland and Papua New Guinea, while Greenpeace vessel MV Esperanza toured seven east-coast Australian cities and treated more than 5000 visitors to its take on climate change.

Add this to other signs that stocks in Green Inc are falling. (Andrew Bolt Blog)

Disaster risk increasing, says UN - Climate change, environmental degradation and badly planned urban development are more likely to affect populations around the world.

The report warns that millions of lives are in jeopardy because proper risk assessment is rarely carried out, particularly in developing countries.

The UN says money spent on risk reduction is a cost-effective way to reduce deaths and injuries.

The Asian tsunami of 2004, or last year's earthquake in China are natural phenomenon which can't be prevented.

But the Global Assessment on Disaster Risk Reduction says there is a lot we can do to reduce our own risk - the problem is, we aren't doing it. (BBC News)

They weren't doing too badly until they got to:

We already know that climate change means more extreme weather events - but the UN's Assistant Secretary General Margareta Wahlstrom says most countries have failed to look at how that will affect their own towns and cities.

and there goes all their credibility since we know nothing of the sort.

Cloud Ice Crystals Carry Biological Matter - Research - CHICAGO - Ice crystals plucked from clouds and quickly analysed in flight show bits of biological material -- bacteria, spores and plants -- play a role in the formation of clouds, US researchers said on Sunday.

The finding, reported in the journal Nature Geoscience, offers the first direct evidence of airborne bacteria in clouds, they said.

Climate scientists typically rely on computer models to predict climate change, but until now it has been difficult to directly measure the composition of ice crystals in clouds, which are the very seeds that form clouds.

"By sampling clouds in real time from an aircraft, these investigators were able to get information about ice particles in clouds at an unprecedented level of detail," Anne-Marie Schmoltner of the National Science Foundation's Division of Atmospheric sciences, said in a statement. (Reuters)

Comparing Global Temperatures - THERE are four official global temperature data sets and there has been much debate and discussion as to which best represents change in global temperature.

Tom Quirk has analysed variations within and between these data sets and concludes there is 1. Substantial general agreement between the data sets, 2. Substantial short-term variation in global temperature in all data sets and 3. No data set shows a significant measurable rise in global temperature over the twelve year period since 1997. (Tom Quirk,

Quote of the week #8 – Monbiot: “looks like I’ve boobed” - The Guardian’s George Monbiot suffers (at his own expense) from excessive zeal in trying to disprove a statement by Telegraph Columnist, Christopher Booker, in his post: How to disprove Christopher Booker in 26 seconds (Watts Up With That?)

Comments On A New Paper “Global Ocean Heat Content 1955–2008 In Light Of Recently Revealed Instrumentation Problems” By Levitus Et Al. 2009

Thanks to Anders Vallard for alerting us to this paper.

Levitus S., J. I. Antonov, T. P. Boyer, R. A. Locarnini, H. E. Garcia, A. V. Mishonov (2009), Global ocean heat content 1955–2008 in light of recently revealed instrumentation problems,Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L07608, doi:10.1029/2008GL037155.

The abstract reads

“We provide estimates of the warming of the world ocean for 1955–2008 based on historical data not previously available, additional modern data, correcting for instrumental biases of bathythermograph data, and correcting or excluding some Argo float data. The strong interdecadal variability of global ocean heat content reported previously by us is reduced in magnitude but the linear trend in ocean heat content remain
similar to our earlier estimate.”

This paper is, of course, directly related to the recent guest weblog on Climate Science Have Changes In Ocean Heat Falsified The Global Warming Hypothesis? - A Guest Weblog by William DiPuccio

Climate Science has a few comments regarding the new Levitus et al. paper:

First, while they report on the longer term trend of upper ocean warming, which everyone agrees did occur, they are silent on the lack of recent warming, which was discussed in the paper Pielke Sr., R.A., 2008: A broader view of the role of humans in the climate system. Physics Today, 61, Vol. 11, 54-55 and on the weblog Update On A Comparison Of Upper Ocean Heat Content Changes With The GISS Model Predictions

Their plot of upper ocean heat content over time, which illustrates large multi-annual variations in trend back to 1955, is presented at, and is reproduced below.

Secondly, the authors did not covert their heat accumulation into Watts per meter squared.  This can straightforwardly be completed for each year. Since 2004 in the Levitus et al analysis given above, the global average radiative imbalance is close to zero which deviates significantly from

Hansen, J., L. Nazarenko, R. Ruedy, Mki. Sato, J. Willis, A. Del Genio, D. Koch, A. Lacis, K. Lo, S. Menon, T. Novakov, Ju. Perlwitz, G. Russell, G.A. Schmidt, and N. Tausnev, 2005: Earth’s energy imbalance: Confirmation and implications. Science, 308, 1431-1435, doi:10.1126/science.1110252

where they wrote

“Our climate model, driven mainly by increasing human-made greenhouse gases and aerosols among other forcings, calculates that Earth is now absorbing 0.85±0.15 W/m2 more energy from the Sun than it is emitting to space. This imbalance is confirmed by precise measurements of increasing ocean heat content over the past 10 years.”

Since 2004, this imbalance has not occurred. The longer this lack of radiative heating occurs, the lower will become the multi-decadal trend of radiative forcing diagnosed by fitting a linear trend in the Levitus et al data starting in 1955. Of course, if the heating resumes, than this lack of recent warming will attract less attention among the climate community. Until (and if) it does start warming again, however, there needs to be an explanation for this recent behaviour of the climate system.

Levitus et al do correctly recognize that

“Because of the importance of OHC as a major component of earth’s heat balance it needs to be accurately monitored. Analyses using independent data types such as those provided by Dickey et al. [2008] are important in evaluating OHC estimates.”

From the weblog Update On A Comparison Of Upper Ocean Heat Content Changes With The GISS Model Predictions, I wrote

“The observed best estimates of the observed heating and the Hansen et al. prediction in Joules in the upper 700m of the ocean are given below:

OBSERVED BEST ESTIMATE OF ACCUMULATION Of JOULES [assuming a baseline of zero at the end of 2002].

2003 ~0 Joules
2004 ~0 Joules
2005 ~0 Joules
2006 ~0 Joules
2007 ~0 Joules
2008 ~0 Joules
2009 —— 
2010 —— 
2011 —— 
2012 ——     

HANSEN PREDICTION OF The ACCUMULATION OF JOULES [ at a rate of 0.60 Watts per meter squared] assuming a baseline of zero at the end of 2002].

2003 ~0.98 * 10** 22 Joules
2004 ~1.96 * 10** 22 Joules
2005 ~2.94 * 10** 22 Joules
2006 ~3.92 * 10** 22 Joules
2007 ~4.90 * 10** 22 Joules
2008 ~5.88 * 10** 22 Joules
2009 ~6.86 * 10** 22 Joules
2010 ~7.84 * 10** 22 Joules
2011 ~8.82 * 10** 22 Joules
2012 ~9.80 * 10** 22 Joules

Thus, according to the GISS model predictions, there should be approximately 5.88 * 10**22 Joules more heat in the upper 700 meters of the global ocean at the end of 2008 than were present at the beginning of 2003.

For the observations to come into agreement with the GISS model prediction by the end of 2012, for example, there would have to be an accumulation 9.8 * 10** 22 Joules of heat over just the next four years. This requires a heating rate over the next 4 years into the upper 700 meters of the ocean of 2.45 * 10**22 Joules per year, which corresponds to a radiative imbalance of ~1.50 Watts per square meter.

This rate of heating would have to be about 2 1/2 times higher than the 0.60 Watts per meter squared that Jim Hansen reported for the period 1993 to 2003.

While the time period for this discrepancy with the GISS model is relatively short, the question should be asked as to the number of years required to reject this model as having global warming predictive skill, if this large difference between the observations and the GISS model persists.”

The new Levitus et al. 2009 paper, while not discussing this issue, further confirms that global warming, using upper ocean heat content as the metric,  has stopped, at least for now. Moreover, the rate of heating in the last 5 years falls significantly below the amount of heating predicted by the  IPCC models, as shown in the above figure.

Finally, they do cite an approach to assess ocean heating and cooling, which should be updated to the present (it is only to 2005 in the paper below). The paper is

Dickey, J. O., S. L. Marcus, and J. K. Willis (2008), Ocean cooling: Constraints from changes in Earth’s dynamic oblateness (J2) and altimetry, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L18608, doi:10.1029/2008GL035115. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

Trees boost air pollution--and cool temperatures--in southeast U.S.

Why is the southeastern U.S. getting cooler while the rest of the globe is warming? Thank the trees, say some researchers.

On sweltering summer days, trees and other plants emit volatile organic compounds, such as isoprene, which combine with manmade soot and other aerosols in the atmosphere to produce a cooling haze, says environmental scientist Allen Goldstein of the University of California, Berkeley.

Goldstein and his colleagues used satellite and ground sensor data to track air pollution. Over time, the cooling induced by the atmospheric haze has outpaced the warming due to rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, according to findings published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "Nobody realized until now that enough of these aerosols were forming to influence cooling over an entire region," Goldstein says.

Of course, it would require a constant spew of aerosols to mimic the effect elsewhere (or on a global scale), enough to turn the sky gray instead of blue and make it difficult to breathe. So plant-produced haze isn’t likely to become a geoengineering solution anytime soon.

But the results go a long way to explain why high temperatures in the southeastern U.S. are dipping even as global CO2 levels rise. It isn't that there are more trees per se, it's that scientists now have better ways of measuring pollutants and their effect on local temperatures. (David Biello, SciAm)

Image: © / Sebastien Windel

How they mocked when Reagan pointed out trees produce hydrocarbons and air pollution... Anyway, it is good to see we are learning a bit about the atmosphere and climate. Who knows, maybe one day it will be enough to kill the absurd carbon dioxide controls climate myth (but we're not holding our breath).

Conveyor Belt Model Broken - News has come that the famed ocean conveyor belt, subject of countless TV documentaries and science lessons, is not as simple as scientists believed. The 50 year old model of global ocean circulation that predicts a deep Atlantic counter current below the Gulf Stream has been called into question by an armada of drifting subsurface sensors. As shocking as this news is to oceanographers it is even worse for climate modelers—it means that all the current climate prediction models are significantly wrong. (Doug L. Hoffman, The Resilient Earth)

Death of a Civilization - Over the past several years we have learned that small groups of people can engage in mass suicide. In 1978, 918 members of the Peoples' Temple led by Jim Jones perished after drinking poisoned koolaid. In 1997, 39 members of the Heaven's Gate cult died after drugging themselves and tieing plastic bags around their heads. Unfortunately, history also demonstrates that it is possible for an entire civilization to commit suicide by intentionally destroying the means of its subsistence. (David Deming, LewRockwell)

US House Climate Bill Aims To Minimise Price Rise - WASHINGTON - Democrats in the US House of Representatives have negotiated a climate change bill that would give industries most of the pollution emission permits they would need, according to documents obtained on Friday.

President Barack Obama has made passage of a bill a top priority and wants demonstrable progress by December, in time for a UN climate change meeting at which nearly 200 countries plan to form a pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

In an attempt to ensure enough Democrats back the bill to have it win approval next week in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the authors agreed to allow oil refiners and natural gas distributors, among others, to enjoy the free permits, at least until 2026. (Reuters)

Way too little and far too late: Obama's climate plans spark lobbying boom by Shell, Boeing, 3M - President Barack Obama’s push for a climate-change law this year has set off a lobbying boom on Capitol Hill, where companies are registering to weigh in at a rate of about one every business day.

Representative Henry Waxman, the California Democrat crafting legislation in the House, and other lawmakers said they haven’t seen this much intensity since 1993, when the pharmaceutical companies and insurers lined up to combat President Bill Clinton’s proposal, championed by his wife, Hillary, to provide Americans with universal health care.

“We’ve certainly had a steady stream of people in to talk to our staff,” said Waxman, 69, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

So far this year, 82 firms, trade groups and companies such as Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Boeing Co and 3M Corp have signed up to lobby on climate change, Senate filings show. That’s more than four times as many as are registered to lobby on another issue that is mobilizing business, a law that would make it easier for workers to join unions. (Bloomberg)

Incredibly stupid if true: Industry leaders join Obama on emissions limits - Companies want to help shape global warming legislation in Congress, figuring the right plan could help profits. Their support could be key to pushing it through.

Reporting from Washington - Sprawling across about 9,000 acres of rolling farmland in southwestern Indiana is one of the world's biggest aluminum smelters, operated by Alcoa Inc. The maze of rectangular buildings and giant smokestacks consumes enough electricity to supply a city of 200,000 -- power generated by burning more than 2 million tons of coal a year.

So it may be surprising that company executives are pushing Congress to pass a version of President Obama's plan for combating global warming. After all, Obama wants to slap hefty fees on facilities like Alcoa's that pump millions of tons of carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the air. Those fees could raise costs for the company and leave it vulnerable to foreign competitors.

But a growing number of coal users have come to believe that, with the right tweaks, Obama's plan would not only help the environment but boost their profits.

"If we act wisely and swiftly," Alcoa global issues director Meg McDonald told a House committee last month, climate legislation "will assist in restoring growth and provide the means for America to be the global leader in low-carbon technology." (Los Angeles Times)

Idiots: Coal and climate: Industry seeks seat at table for climate talks, sees potential for making cap-and-trade plan pay - Some firms hope to make cap-trade plan work for them

Burning enough coal to power a city of 200,000 people, Alcoa's Warrick Operations aluminum smelting plant in southwestern Indiana is exactly the kind of energy hog that could face heavy fines under President Barack Obama's plan for combating global warming.

Yet Alcoa executives and other big users of coal are pushing Congress to pass a version of the plan. The reason? With the right tweaks, they say, Obama's plan could not only help the environment but boost their profits as well.

"If we act wisely and swiftly," an Alcoa official told a House committee last month, global warming legislation "will assist in restoring growth and provide the means for America to be the global leader in low-carbon technology."

In getting behind at least the broad outlines of climate legislation, corporations such as Alcoa are mirroring the strategy of their counterparts in the health and pharmaceutical industries that have joined the push for health-care reform: Having concluded that some government action is likely whatever they do, corporate strategists have decided they might fare better being at the table when decisions are made. (Chicago Tribune)

Indiana Says 'No Thanks' to Cap and Trade - No honest person thinks this will make a dent in climate change.

This week Congress is set to release the details of the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act, a bill that purports to combat global warming by setting strict limits on carbon emissions. I'm not a candidate for any office -- now or ever again -- and I've approached the "climate change" debate with an open-mind. But it's clear to me that the nation, and in particular Indiana, my home state, will be terribly disserved by this cap-and-trade policy on the verge of passage in the House.

The largest scientific and economic questions are being addressed by others, so I will confine myself to reporting about how all this looks from the receiving end of the taxes, restrictions and mandates Congress is now proposing. (Mitch Daniels, Wall Street Journal)

Oh dear... EPA urged to act on climate, not wait for Congress - ARLINGTON, Va. — The Environmental Protection Agency should not wait for Congress before taking steps to control the gases blamed for global warming, supporters of federal greenhouse-gas regulation said Monday.

The EPA hearing is the first of two public forums on the agency's April finding that concentrations of carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere pose dangers to human health and welfare — and that emissions from new motor vehicles and engines are contributing to the problem.

The proposal could eventually lead to regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, starting with emissions standards for motor vehicles.

"We must reduce greenhouse gas emissions now without further delay and without waiting for a perfect solution," said Navis Bermudez, speaking on behalf of New York Gov. David A. Paterson.

"While we also hope that Congress enacts comprehensive federal climate change legislation, we believe EPA can act now under the existing Clean Air Act without waiting for such legislation." (AP)

Complaints from left and right as House climate markup nears - The House Energy and Commerce Committee begins debate this afternoon on a major global warming and energy bill (pdf) amid protests from Republicans, the petroleum industry and far-left environmental groups. (Greenwire)

AFBF Opposes House Climate Change Bill - WASHINGTON, D.C., May 18, 2009 – Climate change legislation unveiled last week (H.R. 2454) “ignores the complex needs of a very diverse U.S. agricultural industry” and will draw opposition from the American Farm Bureau Federation. (American Farm Bureau)

NCGA Concerned With Contents Of Climate Change Bill - WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 18, 2009) -- The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) today sent a letter to Congressman Henry Waxman, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce regarding landmark climate change legislation, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454). NCGA expressed its concern with the current version, outlining the potential for negative economic impacts to the agriculture sector if a cap-and-trade system is not structured properly. (CattleNetwork)

Draft UN Climate Texts Mark Step Towards Treaty - OSLO - The United Nations took a step towards a new climate treaty on Friday by publishing the first draft negotiating texts to help bridge a "great gulf" between options for rich nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Two documents totalling 68 pages also laid out choices on controversial issues such as nuclear power, emissions trading, forests, shipping or aviation in a new UN global warming pact due to be agreed in Copenhagen in December.

"This is intended to move the negotiating process forward," John Ashe, Antigua and Barbuda's ambassador to the UN who compiled the texts as head of a UN group looking at future cuts in emissions by rich nations, told Reuters by telephone.

"There is a great gulf between the various numbers presented by parties," he said. "It won't be possible to please everyone. Everyone will be unhappy with the outcome in Copenhagen, but my hope is that what comes out will be good for the planet." (Reuters)

Crisis Making EU Environment Accord Harder - Sweden - STOCKHOLM - The financial crisis has made it harder for the EU to agree on an internal target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions as part of a global climate change deal, Sweden's environment minister said on Friday.

The Nordic country will take the helm of the European Union in the run-up to December's international climate conference in Copenhagen, which aims to unite the world behind drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions to prevent environmental catastrophe.

"There is a growing reluctance," Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren told Reuters on the sidelines of a news conference. "There is a risk that the EU will have problems (coming to an agreement)." (Reuters)

India gears up for battle on climate change funds - UN negotiating texts to be released this week; key issue is finances from developed nations for emission reductions (LiveMint)

China slams Rudd's climate 'U-turn' - CHINA'S top climate change official has accused the Australian Government of backtracking on international commitments by demanding action from China and India before it signs a new treaty to cut greenhouse emissions.

Su Wei said Australia was going against the spirit of earlier agreements — including the Kyoto Protocol and the "Bali roadmap" signed in December 2007 — by expecting major developing nations to take on binding emissions targets. (The Age)

U. S. Climate bill would be 'disaster' - Prentice urges D. C. to drop proposed sanction

Jim Prentice, the Minister of the Environment, yesterday warned U. S. lawmakers to drop proposed trade sanctions on imports from countries with higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions, saying the measure would be a "prescription for disaster" for the global economy.

In the Harper government's toughest critique yet of draft U. S. climate legislation, Mr. Prentice told a Washington audience a proposal to slap a "carbon-border adjustment" fee on foreign manufacturers violates the core principles of international trade.

In addition, any U. S. decision to impose such a trade tariff threatens the chances of reaching an international climate change deal later this year in Copenhagen, Mr. Prentice said.

"Trade protectionism in the name of environmental protection would be a prescription for disaster for both the global economy and the global environment," the Minister said in remarks at the State Department to the Conference of the Americas. (Sheldon Alberts, Canwest News Service)

Oil Refiners To Get Break Under US Climate Bill - WASHINGTON - Oil refiners would be given 2 percent of greenhouse gas emission permits under a proposed climate change bill that Democrats in the US House of Representatives are writing, according to a document describing that legislation.

The proposal, which could still change in coming days, would also give local natural gas distribution companies 9 percent of the emissions permits. Those companies would have to use the free permits to protect consumers from natural gas price increases, according to the document.

Oil refiners had been seeking to receive 5 percent of the permits. (Reuters)

Oil sands output could rise to 6.3-million barrels a day: U.S. report - TORONTO -- Output from Canada’s oil sands could rise to as much as 6.3-million barrels a day by 2035, a nearly five-fold increase above current levels, according to a landmark U.S. report released Monday.

It was one of the findings by energy consultancy IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) in a study called Growth in the Canadian Oil Sands: Finding a New Balance. The study, which took eight months to research and was produced in consultation with many different stakeholders, looks at how the oil sands have morphed "from the fringe to the centre" of global energy supply and the resulting economic and environmental implications. (Peter Koven, Financial Post)

Norway Group Tables Parliament Vote On Oil Sands - OSLO - A Norwegian opposition group said on Friday it would ask for a parliamentary vote next week over whether majority-owned oil producer StatoilHydro should withdraw from its $2 billion Canadian oil sands venture.

The move marks an escalation in a row between oil interests and the environment just four months before Norway -- the world's No. 4 oil exporter -- holds a parliamentary election.

Norway's Labour-led government said this week it would not back a resolution by environment activist group Greenpeace calling on Statoil to withdraw from the oil sands.

Without state support, the motion has no chance of passing at a Statoil shareholders meeting on May 19. (Reuters)

Oil sands crucial to energy mix: Imperial CEO - CALGARY -- Canada's oil sands represent such a large part of the remaining world oil resources it's unrealistic to exclude them from North America's future energy mix, said the CEO of Imperial Oil Ltd.

Despite a push to stop or contain their development, Bruce March said Alberta's deposits represent 40% of known oil resources in the world that are not under the control of national oil companies.

Imperial Oil, controlled by Exxon Mobil Corp., is one of Canada's top oil sands companies.

He said it's one of the reasons U.S. President Barack Obama seems to be looking for a pragmatic solution to the oil sands' environmental challenges, rather than rule them out as a supply of energy to the United States. (Claudia Cattaneo, Financial Post)

Developing oil sands to become even more costly: CERI - Even as oil briefly crossed above US$60 a barrel Tuesday, what's becoming increasingly clear is that Canada's oil sands won't be the Holy Grail everyone expected to meet the energy supply needs of the future.

As shown in a report Tuesday by the Canadian Energy Research Institute, the cost of complying with climate-change legislation that is being aggressively pushed in the United States will make Canada's oil sands, already the world's most expensive to develop, even more costly.

It will probably also make them the world's most regulated. (Claudia Cattaneo, Financial Post)

Obama and the Alternative Energy Fiasco - The president is wrong to block oil and gas production.

It's only a matter of time before President Barack Obama's vast popularity runs aground on his energy policies. In the name of saving the planet from global warming, he has delayed new oil drilling, an action that will have major political repercussions once the world economy recovers. Instead of using some the stimulus billions to produce more gas and oil, Obama's wild-eyed supporters dream of "renewable" energy derived from corn, wind, sunshine, and even grass. (Jon Basil Utley, Reason)

Is wind the next ethanol? - Repeating past mistakes has long been a part of Washington's energy policy, but Congress used to wait a while before making the same blunder again. Not anymore. New legislation requiring wind energy closely resembles the ethanol mandate that sparked a backlash just last year. (Ben Lieberman, Heritage)

Glasgow Looking To Freeze In The Dark - The Telegraph has an article today about the latest addition to the UK wind energy grid, described as “Europe’s largest onshore wind farm at Whitelee.” The article says :

When the final array is connected to the grid later this week, there will be 140 turbines generating 322 megawatts of electricity. This is enough to power 180,000 homes.

Assuming the turbines are actually moving. The problem is that on the coldest days in winter, the air is still and the turbines don’t generate much (if any) electricity. Consider the week of February 4-10, 2009 in Glasgow. (Watts Up With That?)

Foreign Firms Cry Foul Over China Wind Power Rules - BEIJING - China's drive into wind power has been a boon to the young industry, but foreign turbine makers say China has stacked the odds so firmly against them that its own clean energy goals could be in jeopardy.

China's wind power generation has doubled in the last year and is expected to surpass nuclear within a decade as China seeks to wean itself off cheap but dirty coal.

But Beijing is making it impossible for foreigners to compete for "national-level concession projects" aimed at lifting wind's share of the overall energy mix, said Paulo Fernando Soares, China chief executive of India's Suzlon Energy. (Reuters)

May 18, 2009

Letter of the moment: W.H.O. and Swine Flu

To the Editor:

Re “Managing a Flu Threat With Seasoned Urgency” (front page, May 10):

As the co-discoverer of one of the key enzymes of the influenza virus and as someone who has written extensively about H5N1 avian flu, I do not count myself among the “flu experts” who believe that the World Health Organization and Dr. Margaret Chan, its director general, “performed well” during the current outbreak of H1N1 swine flu. They were overly alarmist and precipitate: in particular, the decision to raise the pandemic flu threat to the penultimate Level 5, “Pandemic Imminent,” was unwarranted.

A warning system based solely on how widely a virus has spread but that does not consider the nature of the illness it causes is intrinsically flawed because it is prone to false positives: it would classify as “pandemics” the frequent but largely inconsequential outbreaks of virus-caused colds and gastroenteritis.

Dr. Chan does seem to have “been guided in her recent decisions by her experiences” with the 2003 outbreak of SARS — toward excessive risk aversion.

Henry I. Miller
Stanford, Calif., May 11, 2009

The writer, a medical doctor and a fellow at the Hoover Institution, was at the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration from 1977 to 1994.

New Virus Appears to Be a Factor in Extended Flu Season - The new swine flu virus is spreading rapidly around the United States, and more than half of the states are reporting unusually high levels of flu-like illness at a time of year when the respiratory disease usually disappears, federal health officials said yesterday.

About half of the people with flu are testing positive for the new virus, indicating it is playing a significant role in the unusual pattern of disease, officials said.

"We would be expecting to see the season to be slowing down or almost completely stopped," said Daniel Jernigan of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "But what we're seeing is there are some areas that actually have reports of the amounts of respiratory disease . . . that are equivalent to peak influenza season."

The unusual activity comes as two more U.S. deaths were reported from swine flu, bringing the total in the United States to at least five. A 33-year-old man succumbed in Corpus Christi, Tex., May 6, bringing that state's total to three, while a woman in her late 40s died last week in Maricopa County in Arizona, marking that state's first death. Washington state had previously reported a death. (Washington Post)

Age of Flu Victims Has Big Implications - Scientists Say Relative Youth of Ill People Is Evidence of Pandemic Potential

The swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) virus that burst into public consciousness a month ago is starting to behave like a mixture of its infamous, pandemic-causing predecessors.

It seems to have a predilection for young adults, as did its notorious ancestor, the 1918 Spanish influenza. Many of the young victims who have become deathly ill turned out to have other medical problems -- a phenomenon first clearly seen with the 1957 Asian flu. H1N1 is spreading easily in North America but sputtering in Europe, just as Hong Kong flu did in 1968. And as in the mini-pandemic of Russian flu in 1977, some people appear to have a degree of immunity.

Exactly how swine flu fits into the pantheon of flu pandemics will not be known for a while. It will take months -- and many more victims -- for its full personality and behavior to emerge. But one thing is clear: This is a lot more than just seasonal flu out of season. (Washington Post)

But it is not sourced from pig farms: H1N1 Virus: The First Legal Action Targets a Pig Farm - In an initial step toward what could be the first wrongful-death suit of its kind, Texas resident Steven Trunnell has filed a petition against Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork producer, based in Virginia, and the owner of a massive pig farm in Perote, Mexico, near the village of La Gloria, where the earliest cases of the new H1N1 flu were detected. Trunnell filed the petition in his home state on behalf of his late wife, Judy Dominguez Trunnell, the 33-year-old special-education teacher who on May 4 became the first U.S. resident to die of H1N1 flu. (Time)

Swine flu: Baxter to make vaccine for British government - Deerfield-based drugmaker also says 2 patient deaths not related to heparin blood thinner

Baxter International Inc. on Friday reported that it will make a swine flu vaccine for the British government and said the quality of its heparin blood thinner was not involved in two patient deaths in Delaware.

The United Kingdom Department of Health announced deals with Deerfield-based Baxter and British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline PLC to make up to 90 million doses of a vaccine as a precaution against the H1N1 virus, known as swine flu. Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed. (Chicago Tribune)

Science says isn’t always what science found - We haven’t covered a bird cage news story in awhile, so let’s test our critical reading skills with one that’s been in the news. It’s reported that researchers have found that women who take probiotics during pregnancy can ward off postpartum obesity. What tipped you off that this news story was worthy of lining your bird cage with the newspaper it was printed on?

More than 246,000 news stories about probiotics during pregnancy for reducing fat already appear on Google. The claim made its way around the world in nanoseconds and is well on its way to becoming a truism.

The headlines have become increasingly sensational this past week — reporting that probiotics “may help ward off” postpartum obesity, to probiotics “can” reduce obesity, to probiotics do “cut belly fat” and even telling the public that probiotics “could spell end to need for obesity treatment!” (Junkfood Science)

Environment to blame for obesity - An Australian expert who has measured the rising calorie load of the American diet says the developed world faces a "monumental" task to turn around poor eating patterns.

Professor Boyd Swinburn, working alongside American researchers, set out to gauge the differing roles played by diet and exercise as America's collective waistline expanded over the past 30 years.

He found diet alone could explain the 8.6kg increase in the weight of the average American adult since the late 1970s, and he says this would be difficult to turn around given the massive shift that has also occurred in the "food environment".

"If you think of how the food environment has changed over the last 30 years it has been quite remarkable," Prof Boyd, who is director of Deakin University's World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, told AAP.

Probably rightly: Food Companies Are Placing the Onus for Safety on Consumers - The frozen pot pies that sickened an estimated 15,000 people with salmonella in 2007 left federal inspectors mystified. At first they suspected the turkey. Then they considered the peas, carrots and potatoes.

The pie maker, ConAgra Foods, began spot-checking the vegetables for pathogens, but could not find the culprit. It also tried cooking the vegetables at high temperatures, a strategy the industry calls a “kill step,” to wipe out any lingering microbes. But the vegetables turned to mush in the process.

So ConAgra — which sold more than 100 million pot pies last year under its popular Banquet label — decided to make the consumer responsible for the kill step. The “food safety” instructions and four-step diagram on the 69-cent pies offer this guidance: “Internal temperature needs to reach 165° F as measured by a food thermometer in several spots.”

Increasingly, the corporations that supply Americans with processed foods are unable to guarantee the safety of their ingredients. In this case, ConAgra could not pinpoint which of the more than 25 ingredients in its pies was carrying salmonella. Other companies do not even know who is supplying their ingredients, let alone if those suppliers are screening the items for microbes and other potential dangers, interviews and documents show.

Yet the supply chain for ingredients in processed foods — from flavorings to flour to fruits and vegetables — is becoming more complex and global as the drive to keep food costs down intensifies. As a result, almost every element, not just red meat and poultry, is now a potential carrier of pathogens, government and industry officials concede. (New York Times)

New CDC director may focus on emergencies - WASHINGTON, May 15 - Dr. Thomas Frieden, the newly nominated director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is likely to take on a few public health fights.

Frieden, who is now New York City's health commissioner, has been best known for his expertise on on diseases such as AIDS and tuberculosis. His training was in infectious diseases but he has expanded his repertoire to tackle chronic diseases that can be blamed on smoking, obesity and poor diet. (Reuters)

Really? His recent history has been one of absurd nanny.

New York City Official Is Obama Pick for C.D.C.  - WASHINGTON — President Obama announced on Friday that he has chosen Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the New York City health commissioner, as the next director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Frieden, a 48-year-old infectious disease specialist, has cut a high and sometimes contentious profile in his seven years as New York’s top health official under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. He led the crusade to ban smoking in restaurants and bars, pushed to make H.I.V. testing a routine part of medical exams, and defended a program that passes out more than 35 million condoms a year. (New York Times)

Missed this before: The great malarial bed-net swindle - Ceri Dingle explains why her charity has made a film exposing the piety of the ‘Save Africa’ bed-net campaign.

In 2007, then US president George W Bush declared an annual World Malaria Day on 25 April. This year, to mark the event, Western campaigners who want to reduce the incidence of malaria have been working overtime to convince us that we can ‘save Africans’ by spending £5 on a bed-net.

Top in the bed-net-promoting PR stakes is ex-British prime minister Tony Blair’s Faith Foundation, which is distributing a patronising little film called The Story of a Bed Net (1). It is a sermon on how bed-nets will rid the poorest parts of the world of malaria, just so long as poor Africans are provided with clear and simple lessons on how to use them.

Increasingly outraged by these pious and misleading bed-net campaigns, young volunteers at the charity that I run, WORLDwrite, have produced a hard-hitting filmed riposte, Early to Bed-Net, which is currently showing on the charity’s news channel, WORLDbytes. (Ceri Dingle, sp!ked)

Too true: Failure to develop new pesticides could lead to public health disaster - Failure to develop new products and pests’ increasing resistance to existing products will increase the risk of vector borne diseases, delegates at a Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) and United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) conference will hear.

The International Public Health Pesticides Workshop will bring together countries, organisations and experts to address the challenges facing the development and use of public health pesticides.

CIEH President Dr Stephen Battersby said: “The World Health Organization has observed that gaining authorisation to use new pesticides is becoming more complex and costly.

“It is likely that the development of pesticides will be severely reduced by the economics of the approval process.

“This, coupled with the increased threat from pests because of changes in climate, could have serious repercussions for public health.” (Hannah Wooderson,

It's a shame they damaged their own credibility throwing in the near-obligatory "climate change" chestnut but the threat of failing to keep up robust pesticide development is real enough.

Haven't the foggiest: With heat comes mosquitoes. But the once conventional means used to eradicate them are now questionable.

OROVILLE — Mosquito-control officials still don't know what tools they can use to fight West Nile virus this year.

A federal court decision appears to restrict spraying of adult mosquitoes.

While a number of groups have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit, to reconsider its decision or at least postpone when it will take effect, no response has come from the court, said Matt Ball, manager of the Butte County Mosquito and Vector Control District.

Ball said he worries about the potential for more human illness and possibly deaths from the virus this year.

Two weapons the district uses against adult mosquitoes appear to be restricted by the court decision, Ball said. These are spraying pesticides from trucks in neighborhoods and spraying outlying areas from the air.

Both are vital to the district's operation, he said. (Chico Enterprise-Record)

Boom in tiny bedbugs is causing big trouble - WASHINGTON — The biggest bedbug outbreak since World War II has sent a collective shudder among apartment dwellers, college students and business travelers across the nation.

The bugs — reddish brown, flat and about the size of a grain of rice — suck human blood. They resist many pesticides and spread quickly in certain mattress-heavy buildings, such as hotels, dormitories and apartment complexes.

Two shelters have closed temporarily in Charlotte, N.C., because of bedbugs, a Yahoo chat group dedicates itself to sufferers and countless bedbug blogs provide forums for news, tips and commiseration. State inspectors say that more emphasis may be needed to tackle the creatures.

Federal officials have taken notice of the resurgence. Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency held its first-ever bedbug summit, and now a North Carolina congressman wants to take on the insect.

Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield just introduced legislation that would authorize $50 million that's already in the Department of Commerce budget to train health inspectors how to recognize signs of the insects.

The Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite Act of 2009 also would require public housing agencies to submit bedbug inspection plans to the federal government. It would add bedbugs to a rodent and cockroach program in the Department of Health and Human Services. It also would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research bedbugs' impact on public mental health. (McClatchy Newspapers)

?!! Three questions for state Sen. Fran Pavley - State Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills (Los Angeles County), is at it again, tackling powerful business interests. She's trying to pass a bill that would ban rigid plastic baby bottles and cups. These polycarbonate products are made with bisphenol A, a toxic chemical that can leach into milk. The bill, SB797, would ban it in cans or jars containing food and liquids meant for babies. If it passes, the big losers would be chemical and product manufacturers who depend on it and say it's safe. Pavley also was the impetus for the passage of two landmark global warming laws that clamped down on greenhouse gases from vehicles and industrial sources. Chronicle environment writer Jane Kay spoke to her at the state Capitol to ask what it's like to set a new course for the nation. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Should read: some loopy softballs for a raving lunatic.

What an appalling waste of time, effort and resources: Dredging of Pollutants Begins in Hudson - MOREAU, N.Y. — Twenty-five years after the federal government declared a long stretch of the Hudson River to be a contaminated Superfund site, the cleanup of its chief remaining source of pollution began here Friday with a single scoop of mud extracted by a computer-guided dredge.

Twelve dredges are to work round the clock, six days a week, into October, removing sediment laced with the chemicals known as PCBs. Mile-long freight trains running every several days will carry the dried mud to a hazardous-waste landfill in Texas.

An estimated 1.3 million pounds of PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, flowed into the upper Hudson from two General Electric factories for three decades before they were banned, in 1977, as a health threat to people and wildlife. In high doses, they have been shown to cause cancer in animals and are listed by federal agencies as a probable human carcinogen. (New York Times)

Reclaiming a River - A floating dredge lowered a clamshell bucket to the bottom of the Hudson River on Friday and pulled up a load of muck contaminated with PCBs — oily industrial lubricants that General Electric spent decades dumping into the river, and decades more fighting to keep there.

It was a big moment — the beginning, after years of legal, scientific and political wrangling, of one of the costliest and most complicated environmental cleanups in American history. It was testimony to the power of sustained advocacy, and a tribute to everyone — private citizens, environmental groups, scientists, politicians from both parties — who had fought to make it happen. (New York Times)

Actually it's a triumph of misguided hysteria.

Buying into an eco-mirage - It’s tough being green – especially if your new organic cotton T-shirt takes 2,500 litres of water to make. Daniel Goleman reports on hidden environmental costs in the high street

Do you: recycle your newspaper? Print on both sides? Take the train or a bicycle instead of a car? Turn out any and all lights you don’t need? All well and good. But the hundreds of ways we’re being urged to change what we do to help to save the planet don’t go near the mark. At least not if by focusing on what we do, we ignore the dire ecological consequences of what we buy.

The sad fact is that no matter how virtuous our eco-activity, if we were to put in one hand the total benefits to the environment of all that virtue, and in the other all the harm done by the stuff we buy, the harm would vastly outweigh the good. (The Times)

Well, they are right in one respect -- recycling is very rarely worthwhile (some metals excepted).

I don’t bait greens only for fun. I do it because they’re public enemy number one - Obviously there’s a part of me that kind of enjoys this. As Americans love Coca-Cola and Islamists love death, so I love baiting greens and liberals and most especially liberal greens. But I don’t do it just for fun, you know. In fact I don’t even do it mainly for fun. The reason I rail so often against so many tenets of the green faith — from biofuels to carbon trading to the ludicrous attempts to get polar bears designated as an endangered species — is because I sincerely believe they are among the greatest current threats to the advancement of humankind. Yes, that’s right: greens aren’t the solution. They’re public enemy number one. (James Delingpole, Spectator)

Will Corporate Social Responsibility Save Obama's Socialist Experiment? - It is rare that a news headline catches my attention these days. Most of them are simply variations on the same theme: “Isn’t it wonderful that Barack Obama descended from on high to become The Leader . . . blah . . . blah . . . blah!” However, I must admit that a recent BBC headline grabbed my attention while I was surfing the InterGoogle. In fact, I did a cyberspace double-take when the words, “Eco-sailors Rescued by Oil Tanker,” leaped from my laptop.

It turns out that three whale huggers set sail from Plymouth, England on a 5,000-mile carbon emission-free journey using solar, human and wind power. While the global warming cult they represent claims the ability to predict what will happen to our climate in 100 years, these three geniuses were apparently unable to predict that a 60 mph breeze might rip the solar panels and the wind generator off their vessel—which it did.

After their boat capsized three times, the ever-so-clever eco-sailors signaled S.O.S. and an oil tanker called the Overseas Yellowstone came to the rescue. I hope the Captain of that tanker planted a huge carbon footprint on their backsides for putting his ship at risk to save their hides.

What happened 400 miles off the west coast of Ireland could be viewed as a metaphor of sorts for the mindset of the leftists, eco-nannies and hardcore socialists who now run the federal government, dictate public policy and dominate the media in the good old USA.

In their heart of hearts, the Obamanistas may believe that if their grand experiment with Mussolini-style economics and radical environmentalism collapses under its own weight, businesses big and small will intervene to rescue the economy and save their butts from the pitchfork-toting mob that will surely congregate when the public discovers what these cretins have done to the country. (Nick Nichols, Townhall)

From a Theory to a Consensus on Emissions - WASHINGTON — As Congress weighs imposing a mandatory limit on climate-altering gases — an outcome still far from certain — it is likely to turn to a system that sets a government ceiling on total emissions and allows polluting industries to buy and sell permits to meet it.

That approach, known as cap and trade, has been embraced by President Obama, Democratic leaders in Congress, mainstream environmental groups and a growing number of business interests, including energy-consuming industries like autos, steel and aluminum.

But not long ago, many of today’s supporters dismissed the idea of tradable emissions permits as an industry-inspired Republican scheme to avoid the real costs of cutting air pollution. The right answer, they said, was strict government regulation, state-of-the-art technology and a federal tax on every ton of harmful emissions.

How did cap and trade, hatched as an academic theory in obscure economic journals half a century ago, become the policy of choice in the debate over how to slow the heating of the planet? And how did it come to eclipse the idea of simply slapping a tax on energy consumption that befouls the public square or leaves the nation hostage to foreign oil producers?

The answer is not to be found in the study of economics or environmental science, but in the realm where most policy debates are ultimately settled: politics.

Many members of Congress remember the painful political lesson of 1993, when President Bill Clinton proposed a tax on all forms of energy, a plan that went down to defeat and helped take the Democratic majority in Congress down with it a year later.

Cap and trade, by contrast, is almost perfectly designed for the buying and selling of political support through the granting of valuable emissions permits to favor specific industries and even specific Congressional districts. That is precisely what is taking place now in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has used such concessions to patch together a Democratic majority to pass a far-reaching bill to regulate carbon emissions through a cap-and-trade plan. (John M Broder, New York Times)

Took a lot of words to finally get down to it: from disastrous theory to political scam.

US Draft Climate Bill Could Spark House-Democrat Tussle - WASHINGTON--Draft climate legislation that reserves only 15% of allowances for auction by the government could touch off a struggle between two key House committees.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., proposed legislation that would give away up to 85% of the carbon allowances to industry and states, leaving only 15% to be auctioned off, and for the government to decide what to do with the proceeds.

Some Democrats on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee had pressed for a much larger percentage of allowances to be auctioned off. Giving away too many would mean less revenue to funnel back to consumers through tax rebates, they contend. (Dow Jones)

Or they could do something really radical and leave consumers in control of their monies in the first place!

Democratic Climate Plan Initially Gives Away Most CO2 Permits -- House Democrats writing a bill to cut U.S. greenhouse gases unveiled their formula for handing out the carbon dioxide permits created by a “cap-and-trade” program, with some sectors of the economy receiving many more than others.

All told, 85 percent of the cap-and-trade permits would be given away in the early years of a proposed climate-change program that House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, wants his panel to pass next week.

The biggest recipient, the electricity sector, would get 35 percent of the permits, also known as allowances or credits. (Bloomberg)

What part of the ballot covered politicians picking economic winners and losers when you voted?

U.S. Chamber of Commerce sharpens critique of House climate bill - Major climate and energy legislation moving through the House Energy and Commerce Committee would create an expensive, complicated, regulation-heavy system that would not spur developing nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce charges in a letter to lawmakers.

Even so, the nation's largest business association regards the cap-and-trade plan sponsored by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) as the lesser of two evils. U.S. EPA regulation of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases under the Clean Air Act would set off a "catastrophic cascade" of rules and lawsuits, R. Bruce Josten, the chamber's executive vice president for governmental affairs, warned in the letter sent yesterday.

"As Congress once again prepares to bang the gavel on a climate change policy debate, congressional leadership has a serious choice to make: continue to push the same costly, rigid ideas of the past two decades, or take steps to begin a workable process to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases," Josten wrote. (Greenwire)

How about "neither of the above"?

House bill seeks to regulate climate change trading - WASHINGTON - The U.S. regulator that oversees futures markets, such as the New York Mercantile Exchange, would also have jurisdiction over the trading of new derivative contracts based on carbon emissions, under a new bill introduced in the House of Representatives.

The bill, sponsored by Representative Bart Stupak, comes as the House Energy and Commerce Committee aims to pass next week separate legislation that would cut U.S. carbon emissions linked to global warming and require companies to have permits to spew their emissions.

Stupak told reporters on Friday that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission should oversee the carbon derivatives market that will be created from the climate change bill to prevent speculators from manipulating the market. (Reuters)

Playing for more than table stakes: China stance on climate talks firm - China will remain firm in its call for developed nations to cut emissions and for other nations to receive funding as the world attempts to formulate a post-Kyoto deal on climate change.

A climate change official said yesterday that China's long-held position had been detailed in a document that will be sent to the United Nations ahead of the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December.

The submission will be released to the public in two weeks. (China Daily)

Farming's big carbon hassle: Kyoto Article 3.4 - Australia currently can’t account for soil carbon its farms might sequester, but nor does it have to account for soil carbon lost to drought. Why? Article 3.4.

When it signed the Kyoto Protocol in 2008, Australia chose not to commit to Article 3.4, which covers management of crop and grazing land, revegetation and forest management.

That’s been a source of frustration to those who want to get moving on the potential to sequester soil carbon.

This won’t be possible until the current agreement expires in 2012—and only then if Australia signs on to the next version of Article 3.4.

But is this a good idea?

Ian Carruthers from the Department of Climate Change told the Australian Farm Institute (AFI) emissions trading conference this week that Australia didn’t adopt Article 3.4 “due to risks of emissions from natural disturbance and inter-annual climate variability”.

New figures from the National Carbon Accounting System show how accounting for land management might lead to some wild swings in emissions accounting, as the sequestering that occurs in wet years with big crops is lost to the atmosphere in dry years.

Mr Carruthers said the original objectives of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change—to reduce emissions resulting from human activities—has since been broadened to include emissions on "managed lands" rather than distinguishing between anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic emissions. (Stock & Land)

Global warming word games - Perhaps, before we 'fix' climate change, we should accurately define what it is

In a recent New York Times article, cheekily titled "Seeking to Save the Planet, With a Thesaurus," John Broder notes environmentalists today prefer "climate change" to "global warming."

He quotes Robert Perkowitz, president and founder of ecoAmerica, a non-profit environmental marketing and messaging firm, explaining: "When you say 'global warming' a certain group of Americans think that's a code word for progressive liberals, gay marriage and other such issues."

"Climate change," Perkowitz says, is an easier sell.

One would think so, given there hasn't been any "global warming" since 1998 in the technical sense that the Earth's average global temperature -- a pretty shaky concept to begin with -- hasn't gone up in the past decade. One hastens to add -- lest climate alarmists have a coronary -- this does not negate the theory of global warming, or, if you prefer, climate change, which involves long-term temperature trends and cycles.

Then again, "climate change" -- as it's used by politicians and environmentalists -- is also an inaccurate term.

The climate is always changing. It changed for billions of years before man arrived on Earth, so to use "climate change" when what is meant is "anthropogenic climate change" or "man-made climate change" is absurd.

Anthropogenic climate change is the change caused by man's burning of fossil fuels, as opposed to the natural emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere caused by, for example, erupting volcanoes, forest fires, all decomposing living matter and every one of us when we breathe out.

Then there's the issue of the word "change" in the phrase "climate change" because it begs the question -- "change" from what?

Fact is, we have no "natural" climate against which climate "change" or, more accurately, "anthropogenic climate change" can be measured.

The only climate we have is the one we influence, and yet the climate would keep changing even if all of us disappeared tomorrow, or if mankind had never existed at all.

The advantage of the phrase "climate change" to environmentalists and particularly climate alarmists, is they can then take any example of the weather -- hurricanes, floods, droughts, cold snaps, heat waves, heavy snow accumulation, light snow accumulation, wetter weather, drier weather and so on -- and call it evidence of "climate change."

This is nonsense. Indeed, one of the things I find most amusing is the many climate alarmists who write to the Sun fulminating that I must be deliberately blind to the existential threat posed by "climate change" because there is so much unusual weather these days. (Lorrie Goldstein, Toronto Sun)

Scientist says climate change isn't fueling hurricanes - FORT LAUDERDALE - Earth is warming, but not fueling the increase in Atlantic hurricanes this decade, according to new research by a top federal scientist.

Hurricane specialist Chris Landsea, with the National Hurricane Center in Miami, disputes theories that global warming has caused more hurricanes, in a study to be published soon in The Journal of Climate.

Since the mid-1990s, the average number of hurricanes per year has been almost double what it was during the few decades before, but about on par with hurricane activity in the early 20th century, Landsea's research shows.

"It's busy, yes, but not anything we haven't seen before," Landsea said at last week's Governor's Hurricane Conference. (Herald Tribune)

Lancet’s Cryoagnosia: Health And Climate Change Report Between Citation Amnesia And Chinese Whispers

cryoagnosia: from cryo- (Cool, freezing) and
agnosia (Loss of the ability to interpret sensory stimuli)

Is a major new report about “the health effects of climate change” that describes “Climate” as the “biggest health threat” for the 21st century actually based upon a convenient forgetfulness of parts of the literature, and the scientific equivalent of chinese whispers?

It may never be possible to answer that question in full and in full confidence. But there is one interesting, major detail that relates to something I just blogged about.

Today (May 14) the “Lancet and University College London Institute for Global Health Commission” launched a report titled “Managing the health effects of climate change” (Lancet 2009; 373: 1693–733).

I looked at the report in terms of cold- and warm-weather related deaths and this is what I have found: 

The Lancet/UCL 2009 report’s claim that warming is worse than cooling is based on a single book chapter from 2003 that forgets to mention two very relevant articles; and that disregards exactly the effect used in one of those two articles to demonstrate that cooling is worse than warming. (OmniClimate)

Great letter: What if a giant meteor... - What if a super volcano or two, what if a super flu virus, what if a super computer... What if we just stop making it profitable to say with authority, what if?

Pure political scaremongering based on, as usual, the premise that human emissions affect climate significantly and that reducing those emissions will cure all. There is no evidence other than funded biased opinion that CO2 emissions in any way significantly affect climate. There is plenty of real evidence that conflicts such opinion. Empirical data tells us that it is impossible to reduce human CO2 emissions in any case. European emissions have only increased year on year since the hugely expensive Kyoto nonsense, carbon credit scams, wind farms, biofuel, solar energy and penal taxes. Germany is building coal plants to replace nuclear. China is buying up oil options to protect their future. Idiot ideologists and governments in the West are sentencing our grand children to poverty if their wishes materialise. What if the whole West become a third world because of what if? (The Independent)

Comments On The EPA “Proposed Endangerment And Cause Or Contribute Findings For Greenhouse Gases Under The Clean Air Act” - I have generally supported most EPA actions which have been designed to support environmental improvement. These regulations have resulted in much cleaner water and air quality over the past several decades; e.g. see National Research Council, 2003: Managing carbon monoxide pollution in meteorological and topographical problem areas. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 196 pp.

However, the EPA Endangerment Findings for CO2 as a climate forcing falls far outside of the boundary of the type of regulations that this agency should be seeking.

The EPA on April 17, 2009 released this finding in “Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under the Clean Air Act”.  

This report is a clearly biased presentation of the science which continues to use the same reports (IPCC and CCSP) to promote a particular political viewpoint on climate (and energy) policy). (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

We have immense respect for Professor Pielke but don't share his somewhat shiny-eyed view of the EPA. Improvements in air and water quality, land use etc. were long underway before the creation of the obstructionists' favorite tool, the EPA. In fact the EPA has been so effective inhibiting human enterprise and essential wealth generation, which is the font of all environmental improvement, we think its creation is probably the worst thing Nixon ever did. Is the EPA environmentally friendly? We think not, merely misanthropic.

A formal statement of the Scientific Computer Modeling Method.

The Scientific Method

  1. Observe a phenomenon carefully.
  2. Develop a hypothesis that possibly explains the phenomenon.
  3. Perform a test in an attempt to disprove or invalidate the hypothesis. If the hypothesis is disproven, return to steps 1 and 2.
  4. A hypothesis that stubbornly refuses to be invalidated may be correct. Continue testing.

The Scientific Computer Modeling Method

  1. Observe a phenomenon carefully.
  2. Develop a computer model that mimics the behavior of the phenomenon.
  3. Select observations that conform to the model predictions and dismiss observations as of inadequate quality that conflict with the computer model.
  4. In instances where all of the observations conflict with the model, "refine" the model with fudge factors to give a better match with pesky facts. Assert that these factors reveal fundamental processes previously unknown in association with the phenomenon. Under no circumstances willingly reveal your complete data sets, methods, or computer codes.
  5. Upon achieving a model of incomprehensible complexity that still somewhat resembles the phenomenon, begin to issue to the popular media dire predictions of catastrophe that will occur as far in the future as possible, at least beyond your professional lifetime.
  6. Continue to "refine" the model in order to maximize funding and the awarding of Nobel Prizes.
  7. Dismiss as unqualified, ignorant, and conspiracy theorists all who offer criticisms of the model.

Repeat steps 3 through 7 indefinitely. (Roy Tucker, CCNet)

The trouble with model reliance: Why Economists Failed to Predict the Financial Crisis - There is a long list of professions that failed to see the financial crisis brewing. Wall Street bankers and deal-makers top it, but banking regulators are on it as well, along with the Federal Reserve. Politicians and journalists have shared the blame, as have mortgage lenders and even real estate agents.

But what about economists? Of all the experts, weren't they the best equipped to see around the corners and warn of impending disaster?

Indeed, a sense that they missed the call has led to soul searching among many economists. While some did warn that home prices were forming a bubble, others confess to a widespread failure to foresee the damage the bubble would cause when it burst. Some economists are harsher, arguing that a free-market bias in the profession, coupled with outmoded and simplistic analytical tools, blinded many of their colleagues to the danger.

"It's not just that they missed it, they positively denied that it would happen," says Wharton finance professor Franklin Allen, arguing that many economists used mathematical models that failed to account for the critical roles that banks and other financial institutions play in the economy. "Even a lot of the central banks in the world use these models," Allen said. "That's a large part of the issue. They simply didn't believe the banks were important." (Knowledge@Wharton)

How wrong can one man be? Empire of Carbon - I have seen the future, and it won’t work.

These should be hopeful times for environmentalists. Junk science no longer rules in Washington. President Obama has spoken forcefully about the need to take action on climate change; the people I talk to are increasingly optimistic that Congress will soon establish a cap-and-trade system that limits emissions of greenhouse gases, with the limits growing steadily tighter over time. And once America acts, we can expect much of the world to follow our lead.

But that still leaves the problem of China, where I have been for most of the last week.

Like every visitor to China, I was awed by the scale of the country’s development. Even the annoying aspects — much of my time was spent viewing the Great Wall of Traffic — are byproducts of the nation’s economic success.

But China cannot continue along its current path because the planet can’t handle the strain. (Paul Krugman, New York Times)

I usually ignore Krugman but sheesh! We wish junk science didn't rule anywhere but Krugman demonstrates just how potent its grip. And now he thinks he's some kind of visionary.

Paul, the biosphere thrives on carbon -- it is the very stuff of life, mate. Carbon does not "strain" the planet but feeds it (or rather, it feeds life on Earth). The alleged "danger" of atmospheric carbon dioxide is the epitome of junk science and you are one of its chief propagandists.

I Believe Professor Krugman Is Wrong About Climate Change and China - In my experience, any human being — no matter how brilliant — is sometimes wrong. I think that Paul Krugman has demonstrated this with his recent column on climate change and China. (Jim Manzi, Planet Gore)

News Report Interviewing John Christy Of The University Of Alabama At Huntsville - There was an informative news article on [May] 14 2009 at by Jon Birger that is worth reading. It is “What if global-warming fears are overblown?”. It has an interview with the internationally well-respected climate scientist Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama at Huntsville. Dr. Christy is the Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science and Director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

The CNN article is worth reading, as this is an excellent example of the type of media coverage we need more of. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

About time MSM began admitting this has always been a nonsense beat up: Experts: Maldives may last beyond this century - MAAYA THILA, Maldives — Since climate change fears first gripped the globe, tourists have flocked to the Maldives to enjoy the islands' spectacular vistas before they vanish.

Do they really have to rush?

Scientists have long warned that the Maldives, an archipelago nation of nearly 1,200 islands in the Indian Ocean, will be wiped out by rising sea levels in the coming decades. President Mohamed Nasheed is so convinced of his nation's demise that he has proposed moving all 350,000 inhabitants to other countries. On average, the islands are 7 feet above sea level, making them the lowest-lying nation on Earth.

Most experts agree that the Maldives have plenty to worry about: In the worst-case scenario, if global sea levels rise higher and faster than expected, the islands might indeed be swallowed up.

But some recent data challenge the widespread belief that the islands are destined to disappear, and a few mainstream scientists are even cautiously optimistic about their chances for surviving relatively intact beyond the next century. (Associated Press)

Falling Gas Prices Deny Russia a Lever of Power - MOSCOW — As energy markets shrink, the same tactics that the Kremlin used to build Gazprom, the giant energy company, into a fearsome economic and political power that could restore Russian influence in the world are now backfiring, slashing both its profits and its influence.

Throughout his eight years as president of Russia, Vladimir V. Putin pursued the strategic goal of dominating natural gas supplies to Europe and the pipelines that deliver them. His success was underscored in January, when for the second time in three years a pricing dispute with Ukraine disrupted the flow of natural gas, leaving hundreds of thousands in Eastern Europe shivering in the deep winter cold.

But in his zeal to monopolize gas supplies, Mr. Putin, who is now Russia’s prime minister, committed Gazprom to long-term contracts with Central Asian countries for gas at a cost far in excess of current world prices. Now that the world economic crisis has sharply curtailed demand for gas, Gazprom is saddled with a glut of expensive Central Asian supplies that it is forced to sell at a loss.

In a painful twist, the company also finds itself forced to close its own wells in Russia, which produce gas for a fraction of the cost of that from Central Asia, in order to balance its supplies with declining world demand. In effect, a strategy that made business and political sense in a time of high and seemingly ever rising prices is threatening to create years of losses and declining influence, if energy prices fail to rebound. (New York Times)

Climate Change: Garbage Gets Fresh Look as Source of Energy - HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Times change, and yesterday's environmental problem starts to look like today's solution. That is what is happening with trash.

Over the past two decades, the U.S. has shut down hundreds of pollution-spewing waste incinerators on the belief that burning detritus was a bigger environmental sin than burying it. Today, most American garbage is sent to landfills, some spanning hundreds of acres miles from the cities that generate the refuse. New York City, which tosses about eight million tons of nonindustrial trash each year, trucks much of it to big landfills in states such as Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Landfills have been convenient. But they are falling out of favor as improved technology and changing environmental priorities start to upend the old thinking about garbage.

Past orthodoxy held that burning trash was bad because it spewed toxic substances into the air. In an era when the big environmental threat was localized pollution like smog and cancer-causing plumes, landfills seemed the lesser evil.

Dirty air is still a concern, but now it has been eclipsed by fears of global climate change. In that calculus of environmental harm, recent research suggests, burning trash is better than burying it. (Jeffrey Ball, The Wall Street Journal)

Actually burning has always been better but the Gaia nuts strangled the waste stream in an attempt to stop people consuming (choke the cities in their own trash and Greenpeace remains active in the anti-incinerator game with completely absurd dioxin and anti plastic campaigns). It is no more and no less than a green misanthropy ploy -- get over it.

Down the road for biodiesel: Fewer plants, more use of fats - Washington, D.C. — Like many biodiesel producers, Jimmy Chiles is looking at using something other than soybean oil to make his fuel.

Soybean oil is now too expensive to use for biodiesel, and the government is proposing rules that would restrict the use of food crops such as soybeans to meet new mandates for biofuel usage.

So Chiles wants to use animal fats or waste restaurant grease in his family-owned biodiesel plant in Mississippi, but those products are far harder to find than soybean oil, and he still needs to find a supplier.

“The problem is that you have 150biodiesel plants that have already called all these guys. I’m not the first,” he said.

Other producers, such as Ames-based Renewable Energy Group Inc., say they have adequate supplies of fats or grease. But Jeff Stroburg, REG’s chairman, said the Environmental Protection Agency’s new rules will probably drive up the price of those alternative feedstocks, squeezing biodiesel margins further.

The rules could require producers to make at least 30 percent of their biodiesel from nonsoy sources, including fats, grease or the waste corn oil from ethanol plants. Forty percent of biodiesel is now being made from fats or grease, according to the National Biodiesel Board.

But the industry is in a deep slump, operating at half of last year’s production levels because of high soybean prices and new European Union duties that have cut off export sales. Fats and grease cost producers about one-fourth as much as soybean oil. (Des Moines Register)

EPA seeks more comment on ethanol blend rate - WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Friday it was extending for 60 days, until July 20, the public comment period on a proposal to increase the amount of ethanol that could be blended into gasoline to as much as 15 percent per gallon of motor fuel.

Ethanol is now approved to make up 10 percent of gasoline in cars and trucks. Producers are pushing the government to allow higher ethanol blend levels, as more ethanol will be required each year under federal law. (Reuters)

May 15, 2009

H1N1 infects 6,500 people but not a flu pandemic-WHO - GENEVA - The H1N1 flu strain has not yet taken hold outside the Americas region, but the outbreak is serious and requires close monitoring, a World Health Organisation official said on Thursday.

Keiji Fukuda, acting WHO assistant director-general, said the United Nations agency was maintaining its pandemic alert at the second-highest notch of 5 despite the virus having caused 6,497 infections in 33 countries.

"If we see changes in the severity we will let the world know about that," he told a news conference. "This is an event that is serious and that requires close monitoring."

The Phase 5 designation means a pandemic is imminent. (Reuters)

There is no support for such a rash claim: Tamiflu Developer: Swine Flu Could Have Come From Bio-Experiment Lab - World Health Organization Investigates Claims by Australian Scientist Adrian Gibbs

An Australian researcher claims the swine flu, which has killed at least 64 people so far, might not be a mutation that occurred naturally but a man-made product of genetic experiments accidently leaked from a laboratory -- a theory the World Health Organization is taking very seriously. (ABC News)

Swine Flu Not an Accident From a Lab, W.H.O. Says - The swine flu virus did not result from a laboratory accident, the World Health Organization said Thursday, working to debunk rumors started by an Australian virologist and circulated by news outlets all over the world.

“We took this very seriously,” Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the agency’s deputy director general, said of the virologist’s assertion. “But the evidence suggests that this is a naturally occurring virus, not a laboratory-derived virus.” (New York Times)

Study finds link between individual stress and adolescent obesity - Stress may indeed be a direct contributor to childhood obesity. That's according to a new Iowa State University study finding that increased levels of stress in adolescents are associated with a greater likelihood of them being overweight or obese. (Iowa State University)

Children's advisor on healthy eating told son is overweight - A children's advisor on healthy eating, Michala Forder, has been warned her son Zac is overweight and risking cancer because he is one pound over NHS guidelines.

Michala Forder is fuming after the NHS sent her a letter saying her son, Zac, is overweight Photo: INS NEWS

Health officials sent a letter to Mrs Forder telling her that Zac, who weighs 3st 5lbs (47 pounds), is in danger of health problems in later life including diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure because of his weight.

Mrs Forder, a pre-school practitioner who advises children about healthy eating, said she was furious at the letter and accused Oxfordshire NHS Primary Care Trust of labelling children and potentially pushing them into crash dieting. (Daily Telegraph)

This is getting seriously out of hand. BMIs are a really poor guide and they are being wrongly used anyway. The recommended adult BMI range of  20-24.9 isn't even the most healthy or longest lived, a crown which belongs to the 25-29.9 range -- just. The next two, virtually indistinguishable ranges are 20-24.9 and 30-34.9 and it is only outside the 20-35 range that some effects really become evident -- and being too skinny is just as harmful as too fat. To demonstrate just how wide is the "optimal" margin (where negligible health effects are manifest), a person 5'9" tall has a weight range of 135 -235 pounds in the 20-34.9 BMI range (that's equivalent to 185 ± 50 pounds or ± 27%). Weight obsession is just plain stupid.

Humans are evolutionarily adapted to an omnivorous diet -- get over it: Day of the lentil burghers: Ghent goes veggie to lose weight and save planet - On the bouncy play platform outside Ghent's 15th century slaughterhouse, the banana was thumping the beefsteak.

The two boys battled in the drizzle yesterday, the one in the fruity yellow costume serving up another veggie victory over his rival in bloody scarlet.

The parent onlookers laughed and munched another soya fritter. Mmm, yummy, said the man with a heart condition. They queued five-deep in the rain to dip their organic, wholegrain bread in the aubergine caviar, to smear their lips with eggless mayo. Another pure fruit vitamin cocktail under the marquee?

"This is pretty special, pretty unique," said Tobias Leenaert, an anti-meat campaigner. "An entire city proclaiming one day a week a veggie day."

Ghent embarks on a radical experiment today, seeking to make every Thursday a day free of meat and of the fish and shellfish for which the city is renowned. (The Guardian)

Weird, isn't it? Learning to hunt and acquire high-value, high-return foodstuffs like flesh was a huge advance for our ancestors and lead to our success. It's not as though other primates do not do so (we are hardly odd man out carnivores -- even the "peaceful bonobo" has now been discovered to actively hunt and consume monkeys). And now we have dills like these trying to turn our kids into rabbits.

I like animals. They're very tasty ;-)

Pesticides plus genetics increase risk of Parkinson's disease - Exposure to commonly used agricultural pesticides may increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, particularly among people who have certain gene types. The degenerative nerve disease can develop when dopamine levels in the brain are lower than normal. Without pesticide exposures, susceptible gene variants alone were not sufficient to increase risk. The increased risk to Parkinson's required both susceptible genes and pesticide exposure. (Environmental Health Sciences)

What makes these dredges so suspect: All the homes that an individual had lived in since 1974 were mapped and compared with state records that track all agricultural pesticide use in California. The authors were able to identify people who had lived within 500 yards of fields where the pesticides maneb and paraquat had been used at any time during the previous 35 years.

With criteria like that it might just as well be "have you ever read MAD Magazine..."

Science writer accused of libel may take fight to European court - One of Britain's leading science writers, who is being sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association, says he is considering fighting on, if necessary to the European courts, in spite of a preliminary court judgment against him and a bill already in excess of £100,000.

Simon Singh is co-author, with Professor Edzard Ernst of Exeter University, of a book on complementary medicine called Trick or Treatment. He wrote a piece for the Comment pages of the Guardian last year in which he criticised the association for supporting members who claim that chiropractic treatments – which involve manipulation of the spine – can treat children's colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying.

Singh described the treatments, for which he said there is not a lot of evidence, as "bogus" and criticised the association for "happily promoting" them.

Last Thursday in the high court, Mr Justice Eady gave a preliminary ruling on the meaning of the words used in Singh's piece. He held that the phrase implied the association was being consciously dishonest. Singh yesterday denied he intended any such meaning, but said such an interpretation made it very difficult for him to fight his case in court as he had planned. "If we go to trial it's almost impossible for me to defend the article, because it's something I never meant in the first place."

His options, he said, are to settle, with a bill for legal costs in excess of £100,000, or to appeal against Eady's interpretation. If the appeal court ruled against him, he might then have to go to Europe. (Sarah Boseley, The Guardian)

Poverty is green? Indians are world's 'greenest': Survey - WASHINGTON: That cold water bath many Indians have because there's no electricity...that 'matka' they use because they can't afford a fridge...and the long walk they take to work and back because private transport is expensive and public transport shoddy. There's an upside to the hard life.

Indians may be green with envy at the consumption-driven lifestyle in the West, but their own frugal ways and modest means have catapulted them to the top spot in the world's Green index, making them the most environmental-friendly denizens of Planet Earth.

No word on how stripping the countryside of any flammable for fuel and warmth is green. Nor, incidentally, is there mention of "flying toilets" (maybe that's green by virtue of recycling human waste as broadcast fertilizer?).

What a truly idiotic survey conducted by the National Geographic Society and international polling firm GlobeScan on "environmentally sustainable behaviour" and what a cockeyed set of criteria. Have they not noticed impoverished peoples view their environment from the perspective of whether something is edible, flammable or will provide some protection from the elements (can be worn or lived in/under)? Impoverished people tend to care little for aesthetics or obscure inedible critter habitat. Wealth is environmentally friendly but poverty is most assuredly not.

Does this mean National Geographic's senile dementia is even further advanced than the once-venerable Old Gray Lady's? (the Gray Lady is now better known as The Crone but what should we call NatGeo in its dotage?)

Killer whales face cull after finding taste for rare otters - FOR conservationists it is the ultimate dilemma. Marine biologists are discussing a cull of killer whales because the predators are destroying other endangered sea mammals.

They are concerned by new research linking a huge population slump in species such as sea otters, Steller’s sea lions and harbour seals to the changed feeding habits of some killer whales, or orcas, as they are also known. The main prey of these orcas has traditionally been great whales such as grey whales and sperm whales, but hunting by humans has cut the numbers of those species to far below their natural level.

Professor James Estes, an expert in the population dynamics of sea mammals at the University of California, Santa Cruz, believes that, faced with a shortage of food, some groups of Pacific orcas have altered their diets. Each killer whale is capable of eating several otters or seals a day.

Estes, whose research will be published in the Philosophical Transactions journal of the Royal Society, said: “Killer whales are the world’s largest carnivores. They are fast and effective killers and they need a lot of food to keep going. (Jonathan Leake, Sunday Times)

What a Little Vitamin A Could Do - I’m bouncing across West Africa in the back of a Land Cruiser with the winner of my “win-a-trip” contest, Paul Bowers, a student at the University of South Carolina, talking about wonky ways to tackle global poverty — such as vitamin A capsules.

Americans pretty much take vitamin A for granted, but many of the world’s poorest people lack it. And as a result, it is estimated that more than half-a-million children die or go blind each year. There’s a simple fix: vitamin A capsules that cost about 2 cents each. (Nicolas D. Kristof, New York Times)

Mandelson: Biotech to plant seeds for low-carbon chemicals industry - Use of genetically engineered plant materials vital to reducing emissions, says Lord Mandelson

Industrial biotechnology - the use of plants in producing materials and chemicals – has the potential to cut greenhouse gas emissions across the EU chemicals industry by five per cent by 2020, according to a government report released today.

The study, which also estimated that the sector could reduce its energy bill by more than two per cent through wider use of biotechnology, found that engineered biochemicals made from organic matter such as funghi and algae could replace many of the fossil fuels widely used by the chemicals sector.

The report – entitled Maximising UK Opportunities from Industrial Biotechnology in a Low Carbon Economy – recommends that the government step up support for the sector by encouraging greater knowledge transfer between research bodies and business, implementing public sector procurement policies to provide a market for products produced using biotechnology, and promoting the sector on the international stage. (Tom Young, BusinessGreen)

What if global-warming fears are overblown? - In a Fortune interview, noted climatologist John Christy contends the green crusade to fight climate change is "all cost and no benefit."

NEW YORK-- With Congress about to take up sweeping climate-change legislation, expect to hear more in coming weeks from John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at University of Alabama-Huntsville.

A veteran climatologist who refuses to accept any research funding from the oil or auto industries, Christy was a lead author of the 2001 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report as well as one of the three authors of the American Geophysical Union's landmark 2003 statement on climate change.

Yet despite those green-sounding credentials, Christy is not calling for draconian cuts in carbon emissions. Quite the contrary. Christy is actually the environmental lobby's worst nightmare - an accomplished climate scientist with no ties to Big Oil who has produced reams and reams of data that undermine arguments that the earth's atmosphere is warming at an unusual rate and question whether the remedies being talked about in Congress will actually do any good.

Christy's critics in the blogosphere assume his research is funded by the oil industry. But Christy has testified in federal court that his research is funded by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration and that the only money he has ever received from corporate interests - $2,000 from the Competitive Enterprise Institute for penning a chapter of a global warming book in 2002 - he gave away to a charity, the Christian Women's Job Corps.

His most controversial argument is that the surface temperature readings upon which global warming theory is built have been distorted by urbanization. Due to the solar heat captured by bricks and pavement and due to the changing wind patterns caused by large buildings, a weather station placed in a rural village in 1900 will inevitably show higher temperature readings if that village has, over time, been transformed into small city or a suburban shopping district, Christy says. (Jon Birger, Fortune)

Actually there's nothing controversial about UHIE at all. Check out Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's decade-old Los Angeles example. The "heat island group" is still going and about to hold their second international conference on countermeasures to urban heat islands. If UHIE is Christy's "most controversial argument" then the man is straight up and down mainstream (and as a side note I find he is also one of the most polite and courteous responders in climate research).

Enter next make-believe crisis: Enviros sue EPA over ocean acidification - SEATTLE -- An environmental group is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seeking to have Washington coastal waters listed as impaired because carbon dioxide is making the ocean more acidic.

The Center for Biological Diversity said the EPA has failed to consider how ocean acidification is adversely affecting water quality and marine animals.

The complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Seattle alleges the EPA violated the federal Clean Water Act by not listing Washington ocean waters as impaired, even though the group says research shows carbon dioxide in seawater is threatening marine ecosystems.

"The EPA has a duty under the Clean Water Act to protect our nation's waters from pollution, and today, C02 is one of the biggest threats to our ocean waters," said Miyoko Sakashita, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. (Associated Press)

Just what no one needs: NSF Releases Comprehensive Report on Global Impacts of Climate Change - Agency proposes to double climate research portfolio in 2010

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has released a report on global climate change, entitled "Solving the Puzzle: Researching the Impacts of Climate Change around the World," that describes how, over nearly 60 years, NSF-funded researchers have found signs of a changing climate in nearly every corner of the globe, from the icy expanses of Earth's polar regions to its equatorial ecosystems.

Climate change research and education has been identified as a Presidential priority area for NSF, and the report's release coincides with the recent announcement of the President's fiscal year 2010 budget for NSF, which includes an increase of approximately $250 million for climate research, which would double NSF's investment in climate research. (U.S.News & World Report)

New Paper “Satellite-based Modeling Of Transpiration And Evaporation Of Grasslands And Croplands In The Southern Great Plains By Alfieri Et Al 2009 - We have a new paper which provides further insight into land-atmosphere interactions. It is Alfieri, J., Xiao, X., Niyogi, D., Pielke, Sr., R. A., Chen, F., LeMone, M. A., 2009: Satellite-based modeling of transpiration and evaporation of grasslands and croplands in the Southern Great Plains, USA. Global and Planetary Change. 67, 78.86 (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

Climate change, water shortages conspire to create 21st century Dust Bowl - Dust storms accelerated by a warming climate have covered the Rocky Mountains with dirt whose heat-trapping properties have caused snowpacks to melt weeks earlier than normal, worrying officials in Colorado about drastic water shortages by late summer.

Snowpacks from the San Juan Mountains to the Front Range have either completely melted or will be gone within the next two weeks, said Tom Painter, director of the Snow Optics Laboratory at the University of Utah and a leading expert on snowmelt.

The rapid melting is linked to a spate of intense dust storms that kick up dirt and sand that in turn are deposited on snow-topped mountains. The dust darkens the snow, allowing the surface to absorb more heat from the sun. This warms the snow -- and the air above it -- significantly, studies show.

The problem has been particularly acute in the semiarid Colorado Plateau region encompassing parts of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. An unprecedented 12 large dust storms have occurred so far this year in the region, and at least two more are projected in the coming months, officials say.

"Already we have more than doubled the amount of dust we've typically observed during the last six years," Painter said. (Greenwire)

Arctic (Non) Warming Since 1958 - Guest Post by Steven Goddard

From time to time we hear that various places on earth have been “warming much faster than the rest of the planet – as predicted by “the models.” One of the places commonly mentioned in that list is the Arctic, based largely on 30 years of satellite data. Fortunately though, we are not limited by 30 years of satellite data, as the Danish Meteorological Institute has records going back to 1958 and GISSTEMP has even longer records. (Watts Up With That?)

Global warming regulation: next 1984

A good new video campaign by CEI, see a press release.

By the way, if you've never seen a film version of 1984, you should watch this Google Video with the U.K. film 1984 directed by Radford and shot in ... 1984. ;-) (The Reference Frame)

Pouring cold water on global warming - Global cooling has arrived. Global warming is dead.

There is now irrefutable scientific evidence that far from global warming the earth has now entered a period of global cooling which will last at least for the next two decades.

Evidence for this comes from the NASA Microwave Sounding Unit and the Hadley Climate Research Unit while evidence that CO2 levels are continuing to increase comes from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii.

Professor Don Easterbrook one of the principle speakers at the recent World Conference on climate change held in New York in March this year attended by 800 leading climatologists, has documented a consistent cycle of warm and cool periods each with a 27 year cycle. Indeed the warm period from 1976 to 1998 exactly fits the pattern of climate changes for the past several centuries long before there were any CO2 emissions. Greenland Ice core temperature measurements for the past 500 years show this 27 year cycle of alternating warm and cool periods. Recently the global temperature increased from 1918 to 1940, decreased from 1940 to 1976, increased again from 1976 to 1998 and has been decreasing ever since.

However throughout this time CO2 has been added to the atmosphere in increasing amounts. This point was brought out by at the New York conference by Vaclav Klaus the rotating President of the EU and President of the Czech Republic. If CO2 emissions cause temperature rises than why is it that every 27 years the earth climate switches to a cooling mode with decreasing temperature? Clearly there is another explanation that does not include humans. .

Nearly ten years into the 21 century it is clear that the UN IPCC computer models have gone badly astray. The IPCC models have predicted a one degree increase in global temperature by 2011 with further large temperature rises to 2100. Yet there has been no warming since 1998 with a one degree cooling this year being the largest global temperature change ever recorded. Nasa satellite imagery from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California has confirmed that the Pacific Ocean has switched from the warm mode it has been in since 1977 to its cool mode, similar to that of the 1945-1977 global cooling period.  (Terri Jackson, Belfast Telegraph)

Nonsense: Doctors warn of risks of climate change for the first time - Climate change is the biggest health threat facing doctors this century, the first medical assessment of the dangers of global warming has warned.

Until now the medical profession has not taken a position on climate change, considering issues such as world poverty, HIV and bird flu to be more pressing threats to human health.

However, a study by the University College London, published in the Lancet, concluded that the problems caused by climate change such as food shortages, heat waves and increased threat of tropical diseases such as malaria will kill billions of people. (Daily Telegraph)

Doctors groups and medical associations have long been inappropriately banging on about climate change and imaginary health effects, even forming such absurdities as "doctors for trees" and similar non-medical attention getters. And we've been kicking them just as long for their ridiculous faith in PlayStation® climatology and appalling historical ignorance. Human societies have always prospered in warmer episodes and suffered in cooler ones and that dichotomy will only be magnified by our ability to use air conditioning to limit harm from warmth and our continued (even enhanced) difficulty feeding maximal populations during cooler periods.

How many times must it be pointed out that malaria was endemic to the Arctic Circle and local engineering (draining malarial swamps), use of domestic insect screens, chemical vector control and a robust health care system beat the disease back.

Mean temperature is a trivial factor, get over it.

Dick Horton really is a fool: The NHS must wake up to climate change - Climate change will have a catastrophic effect on human health, but the NHS could do much to protect people from it

It's time for the NHS to wake up to climate change. Global warming is the biggest threat to our future health. This isn't a message that has yet seeped into the public consciousness. It isn't a message that most doctors and nurses think is relevant to health. But it's time that health professionals stood on the front lines of political debate to explain why climate change is the most serious danger to our wellbeing, even to our survival. (Richard Horton, The Guardian)

He must be a serious embarrassment to The Lancet. Remember the Arpad Pusztai saga where Horton dragged The Lancet into an anti-biotech fraud? What did we actually learn from all that nonsense (aside from rats not being particularly fond of raw potato, to the point they begin to starve)? Two things perhaps: 1) Pusztai was rightly fired for spouting activist pap unsupported by research (and doing so under his employer's name) and; 2) Horton is an irresponsible sensation-seeking twit who should not be permitted near the controls of a respected publication.

The NHS is already struggling with case loads and affordability issues -- misdirecting effort and wrongly focusing on the phantom menace is exactly what they should not do.

Fantasy leads to economic decline - I AM surprised at how so many people nowadays in Europe, the US and elsewhere have come to support policies underpinned by hysteria over global warming, particularly cap-and-trade legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and subsidies for "green" energy sources. I am convinced that this is a misguided strategy: not only because of the uncertainty about the dangers that global warming might pose, but also because of the certainty of the damage that these proposed policies aimed at mitigation will impose. (Vaclav Klaus, The Australian)

Congressional Climate Change, Act I - Representative Waxman's compromise on carbon caps may not sway Republicans, but it could bring Midwestern and Southern Democrats on board (John Carey, Business Week)

Just say vote "No": Ads Target Key Votes on Climate Bill - WASHINGTON -- Business and environmental groups are flooding the airwaves with advertisements targeting a dozen or so Democrats whose votes are seen as crucial on a controversial climate bill.

The outreach is intensifying as House Democratic leaders are gaining confidence that they have the votes needed to move the bill through the House Energy and Commerce Committee as early as next week. On Thursday, a key swing vote on the panel, Rep. Rick Boucher (D., Va.), announced he would support the measure, though he said he continues to harbor concerns about some of its provisions and intends to seek changes when it comes before the full House later this year.

It remains unclear how many Democrats will vote for the bill, which aims to cut U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions roughly 80% below 2005 levels by 2050.

Bowing to Democrats whose states depend on cheap, coal-fired electricity or on energy-intensive industries, the committee's chairman, Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.), agreed earlier this week to soften the proposal. It would require a cut of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, rather than 20% by 2020 as originally proposed.

Mr. Waxman also agreed to give away to electric utilities 35% of the emissions permits that would be created under the bill, rather than require them to pay for the permits. (Wall Street Journal)

Is an opt-out constitutionally possible? - Australia is a federation of states and the rights (and obligations) of states are legally protected from federal authority. I presume the same to be true for the U.S. as a union of individual states.

So, my question is:

could states believing they are likely to suffer harm from federal cap & trade regulations legislate their own opt-out from such federal interference (under commerce, trade or even tax sections of the constitution)?

If that's a possibility how would these states go about it?

What would it take for citizens to white-ant such a federally-imposed scheme, destroying it from within the states? --Ed.

William Watson: Carbon fracture - Quebec’s new cap-and-trade law authorizes the bureaucracy to do essentially anything it likes in setting up a permit system (Financial Post)

Climate change bill could end regional alliance - US plan might supplant one in Northeast

WASHINGTON - A landmark alliance that Massachusetts helped form is slated for elimination under a climate change bill being written in Congress, possibly depriving the Bay State of as much as $100 million it now collects from power companies each year to spend on energy efficiency programs.

The congressional measure, which is expected to be formally written next week, would impose historic new limits on pollutants from a wide variety of energy sources, with a goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 17 percent by 2020. The plan would give or sell allowances to industries to emit a certain amount of pollutants, and the proceeds would be used for a variety of programs aimed at cleaner and more efficient energy use.

The federal plan would probably supplant a similar program already underway by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which includes Massachusetts and nine other Northeastern states. But since the program would no longer be allowed to auction off allowances - essentially the right to pollute - the member states would also lose the cash they have been collecting from utilities since last year.

Conceptually, it makes more sense to have a common national standard rather than a hodgepodge of rules, said Ian A. Bowles, Massachusetts secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. But "we want to see there's no diminution of effort, no loss of funding for those energy efficiency [programs], as we make the transition," Bowles said in an interview yesterday.

Representative Edward Markey, a Malden Democrat and a lead negotiator on the bill, said he expected Massachusetts to receive ample federal funds to replace the revenue lost from the elimination of the RGGI program. Further, he said yesterday, the Bay State economy will benefit tremendously from investments in clean energy, since the state's universities and technology companies are leaders in the field. (Boston Globe)

Transcript: EPA's Smoking Gun? (Glenn Beck)

AP Interview: Gore, volunteers target Congress - Al Gore and a band of environmental volunteers are taking the congressional fight over climate change legislation to the home districts of undecided lawmakers.

The mission to spur congressional action marks a new phase for The Climate Project. The nonprofit group founded by Gore has trained about 3,000 people to deliver their own versions of the climate change message of the Oscar-winning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" that made Gore a star and a leading U.S. voice on global warming.

At a meeting this weekend in Nashville, Gore is urging the volunteers to sell voters on a "cap and trade" system, setting a ceiling on greenhouse gas emissions and taxing them, to counter the influence of industry lobbyists on members of Congress. (Associated Press)

Counter the influence of industry lobbyists? As far as we can tell most lobbying by industry is for mandated chunks of your money, they aren't lobbying against absurd climate actions at all. Everyone should be doing everything possible to kill it off but that's another story.

'Rebound effects' of energy efficiency could halve carbon savings, says study - Research urges governments and climate policymakers to look beyond simple energy solutions and consider the indirect and economy-wide effects when forming legislation

Using energy more efficiently might not be as effective at tackling climate change as people think, according to a new study. A team of economists has shown that so-called "rebound effects", where efficiency improvements are offset by behaviour changes, such as increasing demands for cheaper energy, could potentially slash future carbon and energy savings by half. (The Guardian)

Now THAT’S a commencement speech - This commencement speech is one of the most sensible and pragmatic ones I have ever read. Some in the crowd must have been ready to bust. But let us hope some of the graduates took away something from this other than a desire to pummel the speaker because it went against what they “know”. This is well worth the read. – Anthony (Watts Up With That)

Poorest need funds to combat climate change: report - UNITED NATIONS - Poor countries already suffering from the impact of climate change urgently need up to $2 billion to help adjust and cope, a new report submitted to the United Nations said on Thursday.

The funds are needed to help the most vulnerable countries, mostly in Africa and small island states, the Stockholm-based Commission on Climate Change and Development (CCCD) said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a meeting in New York on the CCCD report that effects such as droughts, floods, storms, forest fires and melting glaciers hit the poor most.

"Billions of people are at risk," he said. "That is why adaptation (to climate change) is a key element in the negotiations for a new climate deal." (Reuters)

No. What the poorest really need is development and that is exactly what the global warming scam is out to prevent.

Everyone wants to give your money away (with a little cut for themselves, of course): In need of climate change cash - A loose coalition of international aid organizations, religious groups, environmental advocates and some businesses are lobbying Congress to include billions for international aid in the forthcoming climate change bill.

The groups argue that helping developing countries cut greenhouse gases and protect against the effects of global warming is a key to success at the international climate talks scheduled for December in Copenhagen.

“The U.S. can’t go completely empty-handed to Copenhagen,” said Oxfam America President Raymond Offenheiser.

Existing problems of poverty and malnutrition in poorer countries have been exacerbated by climate change, experts say, as changing weather patterns and intensified storms hurt agricultural yields and infrastructure. (Politico)

Taking spin to an art form: UN official: Climate change agreement achievable at Copenhagen meeting - UNITED NATIONS, May 14 -- A new global agreement on climate change will be difficult to reach, but still achievable at the upcoming UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in December, the head of the UN's climate change body said on Thursday.

"Things really are becoming very urgent," with only 200 days left before the meeting, Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, told reporters at the UN Headquarters in New York.

But there had also been "encouraging" developments in the past 100 days, starting with a "very clear commitment" of the new U.S. administration to re-engage in international negotiations and put an ambitious domestic policy package in place, he said.

Also, "industrialized countries are finally beginning to give developing countries some credit for actions they are already taking on climate change," he said. "(There has been) A lot of encouraging reporting on China, India, Brazil, South Africa and other developing countries to address climate change." (Xinhua)

Of course there has been a lot of "encouraging reporting" on the topic -- the UN is the ultimate source of a huge number of press releases with exactly that focus, dutifully regurgitated by the media.

The gravy train has many stops... Green Week Conference 2009 - The biggest annual conference on European environment policy turns the spotlight this year on the multi-faceted challenges of climate change.

* What are the prospects for reaching a new global deal to control climate change at the crucial Copenhagen conference in December?
* How can we best 'climate-proof' our economies against the impacts of present and future climate change?
* How can we create a carbon-free society by 2050?
* How can we ensure action to address climate change best serves conservation of the ecosystems that support life on Earth?

These are some of the many questions Green Week 2009 will be examining in three days of discussion and debate between high-level speakers from Europe and beyond.

Green Week is a unique opportunity for exchanges of experience and good practice.

Some 3,500 participants are expected from EU institutions, business and industry, non-governmental organisations, public authorities, the scientific community and academia. (Europa)

... with incessant pre-conference conferences: The Politics of Climate Change Agreement - 6-7 July 2009 | Chatham House, London

Conference Overview

Join this high-level debate on the politics of reaching a multilateral climate change agreement in 2009, what the elements of a deal might be, and what the alternatives are if a deal is not reached. (Chatham House)

Of course they do: Study seeks to link HIV to climate change - An ongoing research at the Kenya Meteorological Department seeks to correlate climate change and HIV.

According to Pamela Kaithuru, Head of Counseling Unit Kenya Meteorological Department told Africa Science News Service that while it is still coincidental that highest rise in temperatures was in 1998, a year also that marked the peak of HIV prevalence, there was need for science to bring out the correlation.

She said almost 90% of the worlds disasters today are climate related and it is the intention of this work to find out any correlation between climate change and HIV.

She said direct impacts of climate change on health would be due to exposure to thermal extremes hence altering the rates of heat- and cold-related illness and death. (ASNS News)

Backing away from a losing non-issue? The public deserves the full picture on climate change - Simplistic stories and cliché pictures of polar bears have failed to engage people in the true debate, says Nasa scientist

Like many of the important issues facing society, climate change involves a complex intersection of science, culture and politics, and a huge array of consequences impinging on a wide range of vulnerabilities. Yet on all sides, people are bombarded with simplistic slogans, misleading headlines and soundbites shorn of the caveats that make them valid. (Gavin Schmidt, The Guardian)

Arrgh! 8,000 feet under: In Kentucky, quest to bury CO2 is halfway - HAWESVILLE, Ky. — Beside a cow pasture in Hancock County, scientists are drilling through 8,000 feet of rock, hoping to learn how to lock away forever an invisible gas that threatens Earth's climate and our way of life.

Science fiction? No, but it's a science experiment that, if it works, would be carried out on a scale never before seen. (Lexington Herald-Leader)

There is no environmental or human benefit in this!

These poor indoctrinated kids think living is bad: Students reflect on climate change - Ecothoughts • Sunnyside Environmental School contest

We’re being haunted. Not by a restless spirit, but by something even more upsetting and much more real.

We’ve awoken it, and unlike supernatural haunting, it’s our fault.

Climate change.

A fear, a promise that our lives (and world) will become drastically different in the years to come. We desperately need an exorcist, but in this case, it’s not as easy as mumbling incantations.

We’ve dug and drilled (and drilled) ourselves into quite a big mess. I’m surprised the tilt of the earth hasn’t changed from all the natural cycles we’ve thrown off. We’re throwing off the nitrogen cycle so we can become fatter, and the carbon cycle so our newly fat selves can sit around all day, and not lose the weight we spent so much effort gaining.

Eventually we’ll end up with a flood of problems, and our bailout system will consist of a sieve. (Pamplin Media Group)

Speaking of indoctrination: New Online Course Helps Meteorologists Explain Climate Change - New tool helps broadcasters communicate science to the public

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Broadcast meteorologists now have a new source of science-based information to help them answer their audiences’ questions about climate change.

“Climate Change: Fitting the Pieces Together,” was made available today by the National Environmental Education Foundation, in partnership with the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and the Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education and Training (COMET®).

The two-hour course – offered free of charge – provides a basic overview of climate-change science and answers questions about climate change frequently asked by television news viewers. An advisory committee with representatives from government, academia, the nonprofit world and media developed the course.

“We are committed to providing the public with knowledge to live by, and the issue of climate change is as important as it is complex” said Debbie Sliter, vice president for programs at the National Environmental Education Foundation. “This program helps train meteorologists –a trusted source of science – to answer the public’s many questions about climate change and what it means to their families.”

Keith Seitter, executive director of AMS, said the new resource comes at an important time for the field.

“One of the most important environmental issues facing the public is climate change, and this course will help the broadcast community learn about the latest advances in climate science so that they can effectively pass the information on to their viewers,” Seitter said.

Vickie Johnson, an instructional designer at COMET, led the creation of the online course. She said multi-media lessons and a broad array of resources make “Fitting the Pieces Together” not only engaging, but responsive to the needs of meteorologists. Many of the topics presented in the course directly respond to an Emory University survey of meteorologists undertaken last year to determine what climate change questions the public were asking.

“Animations, graphics and audio narration help to provide insight into the scientific process and conclusions related to climate change,” Johnson said. “It also features an extensive resource page that includes links that users can download, detailed references and a presentation that can be used during speaking engagements.”

The course’s six units include:

  • What Changes Climate? From the whirling of the Earth to combustion chambers of a V-8 engine, a look at what influences Earth’s climate. Plus, climate highlights of a few hundred million years of Earth’s history.
  • Is It Real? Warming air and oceans, beetle-ridden trees and thawing glaciers are sending a message. This unit examines the evidence for change and what we know about its probable cause.
  • How Do We Know? From old-fashioned thermometers to computers running mind-bending mathematical models, this is how we know what’s happening now, and what’s likely to happen in the future.
  • Why Should We Care? Why a few degrees warming should make us sit up and take notice, and why most of us in the U.S. may see the first effects of climate change in our mailboxes.
  • How Sure are Scientists? Learn about the buzzwords that describe IPCC scientists’ level of certainty about current and future climate changes. Also, a look at what climate scientists really think.
  • What Next? Don’t panic, but don’t get complacent either. Here’s what we as a society and as individuals can do, as well as how climate science is progressing.

For more information on “Climate Change: Fitting the Pieces Together,” visit:

Earth Gauge® is a free environmental information service for broadcast meteorologists in major US media markets, based on the 3-5 day forecast. The service is designed to make it easy to talk about the links between weather and the environment on-air with simple facts and viewer action tips. (Press Release from NEEFUSA)

Researchers scale back forecast of sea level rise - WASHINGTON -- The global sea level will only rise about 10 feet if the West Antarctic ice sheet collapses.

While that may not sound so great to residents of coastal cities like New York or Los Angeles, it's only about half the previously predicted rise.

Researchers led by Jonathan L. Bamber of the University of Bristol in Britain report their recalculation of the hazard in Friday's edition of the journal Science. (Associated Press)

U.S. Steelmakers Fear Burden In Climate Rules - NEW YORK - U.S. steel companies are not too happy with President Barack Obama these days.

Industry executives say that in the last 15 years, they have cut their carbon dioxide emissions by one-third. But now, they think the president's cap-and-trade rules, currently in Congress, would punish them for doing what they feel they have already done -- cut pollution.

And they argue that the industry, recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency for making big strides in cutting emissions, is being lumped in with utilities and other heavy industries, which pump out much more pollution.

"Cap and trade? We have not seen one (proposal) we can support right now," said Tom Gibson, president and chief executive of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), a steel industry trade and lobbying group. (Reuters)

Everyone should fear the burden of "climate rules".

Highlighting how ludicrous greenie oil opposition really is: Natural petroleum seeps dwarf Valdez spill - A new study by researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) is the first to quantify the amount of oil residue in seafloor sediments that result from natural petroleum seeps off Santa Barbara, California.

The new study shows the oil content of sediments is highest closest to the seeps and tails off with distance, creating an oil fallout shadow. It estimates the amount of oil in the sediments down current from the seeps to be the equivalent of approximately 8-80 Exxon Valdez oil spills.

The paper is being published in the May 15 issue of Environmental Science & Technology.

“Farwell developed and mapped out our plan for collecting sediment samples from the ocean floor,” said WHOI marine chemist Chris Reddy, referring to lead author Chris Farwell, at the time an undergraduate working with UCSB’s Dave Valentine. “After conducting the analysis of the samples, we were able to make some spectacular findings.”

There is an oil spill everyday at Coal Oil Point (COP), the natural seeps off Santa Barbara, California, where 20-25 tons of oil have leaked from the seafloor each day for the last several hundred thousand years. (R&D Magazine)

U.S. Gulf gas hydrate find most promising yet -DOE - HOUSTON, May 14 - A U.S. research team has found the most promising natural gas hydrate deposits yet under the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, improving chances the ice-like formations will become a major energy source, scientists said on Thursday.

"It's very encouraging. We consider this expedition a major shift in our understanding," said Timothy Collett of the U.S. Geological Survey, a leader of the research effort.

"What's unique about the Gulf of Mexico accumulations identified is this. It's the first time we've seen highly concentrated hydrates in conventional sand reservoirs that could be commercially producible," Collett said.

The program seeks to determine by 2025 how much producible hydrate exists in the United States and whether it can be added to society's energy options, said co-leader Ray Boswell of the U.S. National Energy Technology Laboratory. (Reuters)

Mandate of new EU energy department emerges - A significant part of European climate policy including responsibility for the EU's carbon trade scheme should be transferred to a new energy department being created in the European Commission, an internal task force is expected to recommend on Thursday.

The creation of a new directorate-general (DG) focusing on energy and climate issues has been on the commission's agenda since last summer. The EU executive has made no secret of its desire to split up its energy and transport department.

More controversial and less clear has been how much of climate policy could be moved out of the environment department into the new DG energy. The EU's emission trading scheme (ETS), currently part of the environment commissioner's portfolio, is very likely to become part of the new DG's remit, according to EU sources. (eceee news service)

MEPs alarmed by plans for new DG energy and climate - A new European Commission department for energy and climate "would not be best placed" to deliver sustainable climate policies, a cross-party group of MEPs who led last year's parliament debate on climate legislation said in a letter to the commission last week. (ENDS Europe)

And they think they'll be able to stop it? Good luck with that, guys.

China, Kuwait Ink $9 Billion Refining Deal - Kuwait and China deepened their energy ties on Monday when officials from the two countries signed a long-awaited deal to build a $9 billion refinery complex in southern China's Guangdong province. The deal -- sealed during a visit by Kuwaiti ruler Sheikh Sabah Al Sabah to Beijing -- will require Kuwait to export at least 500,000 barrels of crude per day to China when the refinery opens in 2013. (Lee Geng, Energy Tribune)

Japan's industrial seppuku? Japan power firms pay $1 billion for CO2 credits in 08/09 - TOKYO - Japan's power firms paid a combined 100.1 billion yen, or $1 billion, for carbon credits in the year that ended on March 31, their annual earnings reports showed, giving investors a rare glimpse into how much utilities are spending to offset their own carbon emissions.

The sector is one of the biggest buyers of carbon credits from abroad and is expected to buy more as it struggles to meet its voluntarily set targets, which were based on a model in which its carbon-free nuclear plants run at 80 percent or more of their capacity -- well up from 60 percent now.

The inclusion of carbon credit figures in earnings statements, effective from 2008/2009, gives investors information that is otherwise largely hidden, on how each firm strikes a balance among burning relatively cheap coal, funneling money abroad through carbon credits and investing in costlier but cleaner alternatives at home. (Reuters)

Clean Energy's Dirty Little Secret - Hybrid cars and wind turbines need rare-earth minerals that come with their own hefty environmental price tag. (The Atlantic)

May 14, 2009

Unfounded claim of the moment: Swine flu caused by human error? - The World Health Organisation (WHO) is investigating a claim by a researcher who said the swine flu virus may have been created as a result of human error.

Swine flu — officially called influenza A H1N1 — has infected 5,728 people and killed 61 in 33 countries.

Australian researcher Adrian Gibbs, 75, claimed the strain may have accidentally evolved in the eggs scientists use to grow viruses and make vaccines.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta dismissed the report, saying there is no evidence to support Gibbs’s conclusion. (Hindustan Times)

Doctor Falsified Study on Injured G.I.’s, Army Says - A former surgeon at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, who is a paid consultant for a medical company, published a study that made false claims and overstated the benefits of the company’s product in treating soldiers severely injured in Iraq, the hospital’s commander said Tuesday.

An investigation by Walter Reed found that the study cited higher numbers of patients and injuries than the hospital could account for, said the commander, Col. Norvell V. Coots.

“It’s like a ghost population that were reported in the article as having been treated that we have no record of ever having existed,” Colonel Coots said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “So this really was all falsified information.”

The former Army surgeon, Dr. Timothy R. Kuklo, reported that a bone-growth product sold by Medtronic Inc. had much higher success in healing the shattered legs of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed than other doctors there had experienced, according to Colonel Coots and a summary of an Army investigation of the matter.

Dr. Kuklo, 48, now an associate professor at the Washington University medical school in St. Louis, did not respond to numerous e-mail messages and telephone calls to his office and home seeking comment over the last two weeks. Walter Reed officials say he did not respond to their inquiries during their investigation. (New York Times)

'A Blatant Extortion' - A judge slams plaintiffs lawyers' torts-for-import game.

Court cases get dismissed all the time, but rarely are dismissals as significant as the two lawsuits against Dole Food and other companies that were tossed recently by a California judge. Among other good things, the ruling is a setback for tort lawyers who troll abroad seeking dubious claims to bring in U.S. courts.

The allegations against Dole, the world's largest fruit and vegetable producer, involved banana plantation workers in Nicaragua who alleged that exposure to the pesticide DBPC in the 1970s left them sterile. The only problem is that most of the plaintiffs had not worked at plantations and weren't sterile. In fact, there's no evidence that farm workers at Dole facilities were exposed to harmful levels of the chemical -- which was legal and widely used at the time -- or that the level of exposure they did experience even causes sterility.

"What has occurred here is not just a fraud on the court, but it is a blatant extortion of the defendants," said Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victoria Chaney in her oral ruling. More than 40 related cases involving thousands of plaintiffs from Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama and the Ivory Coast are pending in her court. And the ruling puts in doubt some $2 billion in judgments that plaintiffs lawyers have already obtained in Nicaragua.

Judge Chaney dismissed the cases "with prejudice" to prevent the plaintiffs from filing again on the same claims, and she denounced the lawyers who hatched the scheme. "This is a very sad day for me to be presiding over such a horrific situation," said the judge, who described a "pervasive conspiracy" involving U.S. plaintiffs lawyers and corrupt Nicaraguan judges. (Wall Street Journal)

We shouldn't poison our minds with fear of bioterrorism - Terrorists attacking our food supply is a nightmare scenario that has been given new life during the recent swine flu outbreak. Although it seems easy to do, understanding why it hasn't happened is important. GR Dalziel, at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, has written a report chronicling every confirmed case of malicious food contamination in the world since 1950: 365 cases in all, plus 126 additional unconfirmed cases. What he found demonstrates the reality of terrorist food attacks. (Bruce Schneier, The Guardian)

Cancer Patients Challenge the Patenting of a Gene - When Genae Girard received a diagnosis of breast cancer in 2006, she knew she would be facing medical challenges and high expenses. But she did not expect to run into patent problems.

Ms. Girard took a genetic test to see if her genes also put her at increased risk for ovarian cancer, which might require the removal of her ovaries. The test came back positive, so she wanted a second opinion from another test. But there can be no second opinion. A decision by the government more than 10 years ago allowed a single company, Myriad Genetics, to own the patent on two genes that are closely associated with increased risk for breast cancer and ovarian cancer, and on the testing that measures that risk.

On Tuesday, Ms. Girard, 39, who lives in the Austin, Tex., area, filed a lawsuit against Myriad and the Patent Office, challenging the decision to grant a patent on a gene to Myriad and companies like it. She was joined by four other cancer patients, by professional organizations of pathologists with more than 100,000 members and by several individual pathologists and genetic researchers.

The lawsuit, believed to be the first of its kind, was organized by the American Civil Liberties Union and filed in federal court in New York. It blends patent law, medical science, breast cancer activism and an unusual civil liberties argument in ways that could make it a landmark case.

Companies like Myriad, based in Salt Lake City, have argued that the patent system promotes innovation by giving companies the temporary monopoly that rewards their substantial investment in research and development.

Richard Marsh, Myriad’s general counsel, said company officials would not be able to comment on the lawsuit until they had fully reviewed the complaint.

The coalition of plaintiffs argues that gene patents actually restrict the practice of medicine and new research. (New York Times)

This is how nonsense scares are sustained and grown: Senator: Study water for drugs - Gillibrand asks evaluation for risks of medications like antibiotics in public supplies

ALBANY — U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand called Tuesday for a study to assess potential risks of trace levels of medications that have been found in drinking water supplies across the country.

Gillibrand said she is offering an amendment to Water Infrastructure Financing Act that will set a two-year deadline for such a study by the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal regulators.

She said her request was sparked by a 2007 investigation by the Associated Press, which found low levels of medications in drinking water supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas. Drugs detected included antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers, and sex hormones. (Times Union)

Antis goad the media into silly beat ups, grandstanding politicians adopt the "issue" and misdirect public funds into an "investigation" which must then produce a report which antis use to support claims of "concern" which they take to the media...

Monbiot’s Money Myopia - George Monbiot isn’t always entirely wrong. Writing in the Guardian yesterday:

Why is the Medical Research Council run by an arms manufacturer? Why is the Natural Environment Research Council run by the head of a construction company? Why is the chairman of a real estate firm in charge of higher education funding for England?

Because our universities are being turned into corporate research departments. No longer may they pursue knowledge for its own sake: the highest ambition to which they must aspire is finding better ways to make money.

Last month, unremarked by the media, a quiet intellectual revolution took place. The research councils, which provide 90% of the funding for academic research, introduced a requirement for those seeking grants: they must describe the economic impact of the work they want to conduct. The councils define impact as the “demonstrable contribution” research can make to society and the economy. But how do you demonstrate the impact of blue skies research before it has been conducted?

The increasingly cosy relationship between government, industry and the Academy (we’d throw activism in there, too) is certainly a problem. But that’s not to say Monbiot is entirely right. (Climate Resistance)

All you need is ‘love handles’ - Forget the hype about an ‘obesity epidemic’: the research shows carrying a little extra weight is harmless.

The idea that ‘fatness equals an early death’, promoted by the public-health community and the weight-loss industry, continues to dominate popular discussion of obesity and the thinking of regulators. This is despite the publication four years ago of two studies decisively refuting the claim that having the ‘wrong’ body mass index (BMI) increases one’s risk of premature death. But despite what the scientific evidence about fat, disease and death actually says, the scaremongering continues.

The two unimpeachable studies were by Katherine Flegal and her colleagues from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Jerome Gronniger of the Congressional Budget Office. Counter-intuitively, perhaps, Flegal et al found that overweight Americans were those most likely to live the longest. In the US population, Flegal found, there were more premature deaths among those with BMIs of less than 25 – the so-called normal weight – than those with BMIs in excess of 25. In fact, the lowest death rates were in the ‘overweight’ category of BMIs from 25-29.9.

In his study, Gronniger looked at weight and mortality for each BMI point rather than through simply comparing, as is usually done, mortality across broad categories such as underweight, normal, overweight, and obese. Gronniger found, for example, that: ‘Men in the “normal” weight category exhibited a mortality rate as high as that of men in the moderately obese category (BMIs of 30-35), and men in the ‘overweight’ category clearly had the lowest mortality risk…Normal-weight individuals of both genders did not appear to be relatively more long-lived than mildly obese individuals… whereas overweight people (BMIs of 25-30) appeared healthiest of all.’

Noting that his study and others ‘suggest that individuals who are overweight and mildly obese face no, or very little, increased mortality risk relative to normal-weight individuals’, Gronniger cautions that ‘it seems best to avoid exaggerating the mortality risks faced by individuals with BMIs below 35’. (Basham and Luik, sp!ked)

Health council OKs calorie count posting rules - Massachusetts consumers ordering a Big Mac at McDonald’s or a glazed doughnut at Dunkin’ Donuts will be able to see how many calories they’re about to down in a little more than a year and a half from now.

The Massachusetts Public Health Council today approved new statewide regulations that will require restaurant chains with 20 or more in-state locations to post calorie counts next to each item on their menus or menu boards, including those at drive-thrus.

The calorie-labeling requirements, which will apply to some 50 restaurant chains with a combined 5,800 locations, take effect Nov. 1, 2010. (Boston Herald)

Rise of the Soda Jerks - "And he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the Pepsi drinker!"

There has to be a statement about soft drinks tucked somewhere in Leviticus. I have assurances, after all, that such beverages are wicked.

Sin taxes normally are levied on so-called vices, such as drinking, smoking and gambling. Now Congress is "studying" a proposal to legislate morality by taxing sugary beverages -- which is to say, it is "studying" whether such a tax would be politically feasible.

According to the executive director of the Center for "Science" in the Public Interest -- a group that has been pushing this tax, along with a glut of other tragic nonsense -- "Soda is clearly one of the most harmful products in the food supply, and it's something government should discourage the consumption of." (David Harsanyi, Townhall)

Computers could be fuelling obesity crisis, says Baroness Susan Greenfield - Computer games, the internet and social networking sites may be promoting obesity by changing the way the brain works, Baroness Susan Greenfield has warned.

Lady Greenfield, director of the Royal Institution, said consistent computer use could be "infantilising" the brain.

While a child who falls out of a tree will quickly learn not to repeat the mistake, someone who goes wrong on a computer game will just keep playing.

As a result, people will eat too much, or eat the wrong foods, without thinking about the consequences.

She said this had led to the cutting of attention spans, and had stifled empathy and imagination, according to the Daily Mail.

This, in turn, meant that the parts of the brain that promote those attributes will not develop properly, she argued. (Daily Telegraph)

Animal obesity causes real suffering - Allowing animals to become overweight is cruel, and can land you in court. Why can't we stop over-indulging our pets? (The Guardian)

Actually lots of animals put on seasonal blubber, the difference here being that pets never suffer the lean seasons that would trim it back off.

More stupid than hard: Childcare centres shun 'too hard' obesity campaign - MORE than half of South Australia's childcare centres have shunned a Health Department obesity-fighting initiative, complaining the restrictions are too difficult to manage.

The Adelaide Advertiser reports that the State Government's Start Right Eat Right campaign – which severely restricts fatty and sweet foods from childcare centres – began in 2005 but only 149 of the state's 345 centres have been accredited.

The scheme encourages a diet of breads and cereals, dairy products, vegetables, fruit, lean meat and meat substitutes.

If a childcare centre is to be accredited, fatty foods can only be served once a week, vegetarian meals must be served twice a week and fruit with candles attached must replace birthday cakes. (The Advertiser)

Secretary Sebelius Statement on Food Safety Working Group Listening Session - WASHINGTON--Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today attended and delivered opening remarks at the White House Food Safety Working Group Listening Session. The listening session included stakeholders representing a diverse range of organizations. Sebelius' remarks as prepared for delivery are included below: (BUSINESS WIRE)

FDA To Promote Increased Smoking - The US Senate and the House of Representatives are pushing legislation that would empower the Food and Drug Administration to "regulate tobacco", a peculiar term that avoids the idea of regulating the manufacturers and ingredient suppliers of smoking products.

This legislation exposes its illegitimacy and idiocy in clear daylight. It allows the FDA to, among other things, require reduced levels of nicotine. That is the same trick cigarette makers have been allowed to get away with for decades with their "lite" cigarettes.

Lowered nicotine levels prompt smokers to smoke more, and more deeply, to get that "satisfaction". This has been a boon to both cigarette industry profits and to officials who crave regressive "sin tax" revenues to replace proper progressive income taxes. (John Jonik, OEN)

Still with the ridiculous Chernobyl hysteria: Britain's farmers still restricted by Chernobyl nuclear fallout - Environmentalists say controls on 369 farms highlight danger of plans to build nuclear plants around UK

Nearly 370 farms in Britain are still restricted in the way they use land and rear sheep because of radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear power station accident 23 years ago, the government has admitted.

Environmentalists have seized on the figures as proof of the enormous dangers posed by nuclear power as the UK moves towards building a new generation of plants around the country. (The Guardian)

Some rational analysis: Atomic Guests: CHERNOBYL: THE FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN? - This column was written by Dr. Zbigniew Jaworowski (Professor Emeritus of the Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection, Warsaw Poland). It was commissioned by a group that received the draft in February and then took so long to review it that they missed the deadlines imposed by traditional media outlets for publication during the "attention period" surrounding the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident. Though it may no longer qualify as "news" because it was a bit late, the information contained in the article is important, useful and interesting. Hope you enjoy it. (Atomic Insights)

'Nature' appears quite content: Wildlife defies Chernobyl radiation - It contains some of the most contaminated land in the world, yet it has become a haven for wildlife - a nature reserve in all but name.

The exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power station is teeming with life.

As humans were evacuated from the area 20 years ago, animals moved in. Existing populations multiplied and species not seen for decades, such as the lynx and eagle owl, began to return.

There are even tantalising footprints of a bear, an animal that has not trodden this part of Ukraine for centuries.

"Animals don't seem to sense radiation and will occupy an area regardless of the radiation condition," says radioecologist Sergey Gaschak.

"A lot of birds are nesting inside the sarcophagus," he adds, referring to the steel and concrete shield erected over the reactor that exploded in 1986.

"Starlings, pigeons, swallows, redstart - I saw nests, and I found eggs."

There may be plutonium in the zone, but there is no herbicide or pesticide, no industry, no traffic, and marshlands are no longer being drained.

There is nothing to disturb the wild boar - said to have multiplied eightfold between 1986 and 1988 - except its similarly resurgent predator, the wolf. (BBC News)

Water managers OK Big Sugar buyout for Everglades restoration - Calling the downsized deal more realistic and affordable, regional water managers Wednesday afternoon signed off on Gov. Charlie Crist's bid to buy a massive swath of farmland for Everglades restoration.

The deal would pay the U.S. Sugar Corp. $536 million for 72,800 acres of sugar fields and citrus groves, with the eventual goal of turning them into huge reservoirs and pollution treatment marshes to restore the flow of clean water to the River of Grass.

The governing board of the South Florida Water Management District, which agonized over a previous $1.34 billion offer for 180,000 acres before approving it by a single vote in December, voted 6-1 in favor of the latest deal. Mike Collins of Islamorada dissented.

Environmentalists, backed by Crist's chief environmental aide, sport-fishing groups and the Obama administration, have argued the deal was too good to pass up -- despite concerns that paying for it might delay or divert money from other Glades projects. (Miami Herald)

Green movement 'hijacked' by politics - Peers accuse organisations such as Greenpeace of being multinational corporations that peddle fear

Parts of the green movement have become hijacked by a political agenda and now operate like multinational corporations, according to two senior scientists and members of the House of Lords.

The peers, who were speaking at an event in parliament on science policy, said they felt that in some areas green campaign groups were a hindrance to environmental causes.

"Much of the green movement isn't a green movement at all, it's a political movement," said Lord May, who is a former government chief scientific adviser and president of the Royal Society. He singled out Greenpeace as an environmental campaign group that had "transmogrified" into one with primarily an anti-globalisation stance. (The Guardian)

Green Gone Wrong 2.0 - I’ve been a consulting environmental scientist for over 25 years, and have written and spoken about the environmental (green) movement for the last decade. Environmentalism has been called the most densely-organized political movement in human history. Environmentalism and its environmentalist adherents have been both prescient and peevish in their activist demands for environmental regulations beginning in the 1970s. Today, environmentalists are seen paradoxically as prophets or propagandists, as saviors or scoundrels, as futurists or fear mongers. And, the pop-cultural identity of the environmentalist continues to evolve. (Paul Taylor, LA Ecopolitics Examiner)

Eat the Tigers! - In India, China and Russia, there were once 100,000 wild tigers. Today, only a few thousand survive.

They've disappeared because poachers kill them to sell crushed tiger bone, which is made into a paste that is supposed to kill pain.

The usual solution is to ban the sale of these products. Actor Harrison Ford says in a public-service announcement, "When the buying stops, the killing can, too. Case closed!"

But the case isn't closed. The ban is 33 years old, yet the tigers still disappear.

"If we continue the current approach, ... the tiger is doomed," Terry Anderson of PERC, the Property and Environment Research Center (, told me for my ABC special "You Can't Even Talk About It" .

Anderson points out that governments have repeatedly failed to save animals by banning their sale. They've failed with the Colobus monkey in West Africa, the alligator in China and now with the tiger in Asia.

How do we save them? Here's an idea. Let's sell them! And eat them!

A hundred years ago, American bison were almost extinct. Why? Because no one owned them and had the incentive to protect them. People just killed them.

Then ranchers began to fence in the bison and farm them. Today, America has half a million bison.

Does America have a shortage of chickens? No. Because we eat them. I realize this is counterintuitive. Expand animal populations by letting people consume them? The conventional thinking seems so much more sensible -- and sensitive. (John Stossel, Townhall)

The Blame Game - After virtually every disaster created by Beltway politicians you can hear the sound of feet scurrying for cover in Washington, see fingers pointing in every direction away from Washington, and watch all sorts of scapegoats hauled up before Congressional committees to be denounced on television for the disasters created by members of the committee who are lecturing them.

The word repeated endlessly in these political charades is "deregulation." The idea is that it was a lack of government supervision which allowed "greed" in the private sector to lead the nation into crises that only our Beltway saviors can solve.

What utter rubbish this all is can be found by checking the record of how government regulators were precisely the ones who imposed lower mortgage lending standards-- and it was members of Congress (of both parties) and who pushed the regulators, the banks and the mortgage-buying giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into accepting risky mortgages, in the name of "affordable housing" and more home ownership. Presidents of both parties also jumped on the bandwagon. (Thomas Sowell, Townhall)

Monsanto Sees US Seeds Business Doubling - KANSAS CITY - Monsanto Co said on Wednesday that it expects its US gross profit from sales of seeds and traits to double by 2012 from the 2008 level, while its international businesses should grow by 85 percent. (Reuters)

INTERVIEW - US Forecaster May Cut Atlantic Storm Outlook - FORT LAUDERDALE - Colorado State University hurricane forecaster Bill Gray said on Wednesday he may reduce his next Atlantic season forecast because sea temperatures are cooling and a weak El Nino may appear by late summer.

"Things are looking better and better for fewer storms," Gray told Reuters in an interview at the Florida Governor's Hurricane Conference in Fort Lauderdale.

"Off the west African coast there's colder water. There's increasing high pressure in the Azores Islands that typically makes the trade winds stronger," he said. (Reuters)

We'll see. Fact is we're still pretty much rubbish at predicting ENSO events.

A New Paper “The Coupled Aerosol And Tracer Transport Model To The Brazilian Developments On the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (CATT-BRAMS) – Part 1: Model Description and Evaluation By Freitas et al. 2009 - There is a new paper which uses the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS) that was developed by our research group; see

Pielke, R.A., W.R. Cotton, R.L. Walko, C.J. Tremback, W.A. Lyons, L.D. Grasso, M.E. Nicholls, M.D. Moran, D.A. Wesley, T.J. Lee, and J.H. Copeland, 1992: A comprehensive meteorological modeling system — RAMS. Meteor. Atmos. Phys., 49, 69-91.

Cotton, W.R., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.L. Walko, G.E. Liston, C. Tremback, H. Jiang, R.L. McAnelly, J.Y. Harrington, M.E. Nicholls, G.G. Carrio, and J.P. McFadden, 2003: RAMS 2001: Current status and future directions. Meteor. Atmos. Phys., 82, 5-29.

The new paper, which is used to investigate one of the first order climate forcings (aerosols), is Freitas, S. R., Longo, K. M., Silva-Dias, M. A. F., Chatfield, R., Silva-Dias, P., Artaxo, P., Andreae, M. O., Grell, G., Rodrigues, L. F., Fazenda, A., and Panetta, J., 2009: The Coupled Aerosol and Tracer Transport model to the Brazilian developments on the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (CATT-BRAMS). Part 1: Model description and evaluation: Atmos. Chem. Phys., 9, 2843. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

Study finds surprising new pathway for North Atlantic circulation - Oceanographers have long known that the 20-year-old paradigm for describing the global ocean circulation– called the Great Ocean Conveyor – was an oversimplification. It's a useful depiction, but it's like describing Beethoven's Fifth Symphony as a catchy tune.

The conveyor belt paradigm says the Gulf Stream-warmed ocean releases heat to the atmosphere in the northern North Atlantic, leaving ocean water colder and denser as it moves north. The cold waters sink and flow southward along the "deep western boundary current" that hugs the continental slope from Canada to the equator. To replace the down-flowing water, warm surface waters from the tropics are pulled northward along the conveyor's upper limb.

But while the conveyor belt paradigm establishes the melody, the subtleties and intricacies of the symphony of global ocean circulation largely remain a puzzle.

Now, research led by oceanographers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Duke University have teased out a new piece of that puzzle, expanding our understanding of this circulation model. Using field observations and computer models, the study shows that much of the southward flow of cold water from the Labrador Sea moves not along the deep western boundary current, but along a previously unknown path in the interior of the North Atlantic.

The study by co-principal authors Amy Bower, a senior scientist in the WHOI Department of Physical Oceanography, and Susan Lozier, a professor of physical oceanography at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment, will be published in the May 14 issue of the research journal Nature.

"This new path is not constrained by the continental shelf. It's more diffuse," said Bower. "It's a swath in the wide-open, turbulent interior of the North Atlantic and much more difficult to access and study."

And since this cold southward-flowing water is thought to influence and perhaps moderate human-caused climate change, this finding may impact the work of global warming forecasters.

"This finding means it is going to be more difficult to measure climate signals in the deep ocean," Lozier said. "We thought we could just measure them in the Deep Western Boundary Current, but we really can't." (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

The Coming Ice Age - Those who ignore the geologic perspective do so at great risk. In fall of 1985, geologists warned that a Columbian volcano, Nevado del Ruiz, was getting ready to erupt. But the volcano had been dormant for 150 years. So government officials and inhabitants of nearby towns did not take the warnings seriously. On the evening of November 13, Nevado del Ruiz erupted, triggering catastrophic mudslides. In the town of Armero, 23,000 people were buried alive in a matter of seconds.

For ninety percent of the last million years, the normal state of the Earth's climate has been an ice age. Ice ages last about 100,000 years, and are punctuated by short periods of warm climate, or interglacials. The last ice age started about 114,000 years ago. It began instantaneously. For a hundred-thousand years, temperatures fell and sheets of ice a mile thick grew to envelop much of North America, Europe and Asia. The ice age ended nearly as abruptly as it began. Between about 12,000 and 10,000 years ago, the temperature in Greenland rose more than 50 °F.

We don't know what causes ice ages to begin or end. In 1875, a janitor turned geologist, James Croll, proposed that small variations in Earth's orbit around the Sun were responsible for climate change. This idea enjoyed its greatest heyday during the 1970s, when ocean sediment cores appeared to confirm the theory. But in 1992, Ike Winograd and his colleagues at the US Geological Survey falsified the theory by demonstrating that its predictions were inconsistent with new, high-quality data. (David Deming, American Thinker)

Back in the land of make-believe: Doctors' health warning on climate change - PARIS — Climate change will present the greatest threat to health this century, amplifying the risk of disease, malnutrition and homelessness through floods, drought and rising sea levels, a medical panel said on Thursday.

"Even the most conservative estimates are profoundly disturbing and demand action," said the report, compiled over a year by The Lancet medical journal and experts from the Institute for Global Health at University College London.

"Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century."

The commission drew much of its data from the landmark Fourth Assessment Report, issued in 2007 by the UN's Nobel-winning climate experts, the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). (AFP)

That would be the threat from the warming which is not occurring then?

Say what? Practical Steps to Save the Polar Bear - Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has upheld a Bush administration finding that the Endangered Species Act is not a suitable tool for restricting carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases threatening the polar bear and its habitat. We agree, with this codicil: There are steps Mr. Salazar can and must take under the act — steps that the Bush White House would not — to protect the bear. (New York Times)

The allegation was that thriving bear populations would eventually be placed at risk due to hypothetical global warming destroying their habitat -- there's no evidence of any current threat so why do they need 'protecting'?

Climate Debuts In India Polls, But Little Policy Impact - United Nations figures show close to 10 million people die a year in India, where 85 percent of the billion-plus population are Hindus who practice cremation, mostly using wooden pyres that release huge amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2).

That means felling of an estimated 50 million trees, half a million tonnes of ash and eight million tonnes of CO2 each year, according to Mokshda environmental group.

"This is our tradition, why should that change?" retorted Sailesh Bhagidar, a poor Indian farmer, when asked if he would consider an environment-friendly electric crematorium.

"Climate and all are for the rich people of the cities." (Reuters)

El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Obama de la USA, fighting against Global Warming CO2-Icicles

Idea: Burghard Schmanck
Cartoon: Goetz Wiedenroth
All rights reserved

Undercutting cap-and-trade? - The Obama administration is planning to use the Environmental Protection Agency’s finding the public health is endangered by carbon dioxide emissions which it can therefore regulate as a sledgehammer to get Congress to pass cap-and-trade legislation. If you don’t pass a bill, the threat is, EPA will impose much harsher regulation than you would like.

That threat, however, is at least somewhat undercut by this memorandum from the Office of Management and Budget, labeled “DELIBERATIVE—ATTORNEY CLIENT PRIVILEGE” which has made its way into the public domain. The memorandum is studded with acronyms which may puzzle some readers, but it makes a strong argument that the EPA finding is shoddy and may be indefensible in court. (Michael Barone, Washington Examiner)

Did Cap-And-Trade Die Today? - Did the Obama administration put a knife in cap-and-trade intentionally or was it just a government snafu?  (Tom Lindmark, iStockAnalyst)

Is Obama’s climate-change plan getting sabotaged from within? - UPDATED WASHINGTON — It looks that way, and environmentalists are worried after seeing today what White House Office of Management and Budget analysts are writing internally about the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposals. (Bill Lambrecht, Post-Dispatch)

Republicans Push Changes To US Climate Bill - WASHINGTON - Republicans in the US House of Representatives on Wednesday vowed to push for major changes to a climate change bill that could move through a key committee next week, including a proposal to count nuclear power as a clean energy alternative. (Reuters)

Congressional Climate Change, Act I - Representative Waxman's compromise on carbon caps may not sway Republicans, but it could bring Midwestern and Southern Democrats on board (John Carey, Business Week)

Doing better on climate change - LOS ANGELES -- Tackling global warming, we are often told, is the defining task of our age. An army of pundits tells us that we need to cut emissions, and cut them immediately and drastically. But this argument is clearly losing the battle for hearts and minds.

Global warming has now become the lowest-priority policy problem among Americans, according to a new Pew survey. Another Pew survey showed that China, the world's biggest emitter, cares even less than the US about global warming. Just 24 percent of Chinese regard global warming as a very serious problem, making China the world's least concerned country. In the UK, an Opinium survey shows that most voters think green taxes are mainly for raising cash rather than the environment, and seven out of 10 are not willing to pay more in taxes to combat climate change. (Bjorn Lomborg, Today's Zaman)

John Norquist: ILUVCENTRALPLANNING - In an effort to play the “energy efficiency” card on opponents of oppression-via-CO2-regulation, former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist concludes a piece entitled “Global Warming Skeptics Often Own Worst Enemy” with:

Is it a good idea to obsess on global warming as a threat to human life on earth? I don’t know, but as a supporter of free-market capitalism I do know that if we can produce the same or more wealth with less energy, we should do it. And if that also helps the environment, what’s the problem?

Norquist says he supports free-market capitalism yet he resorts to the collective — that is, “if we can produce the same or more wealth with less energy, we should do it.” Who is “we,” Mr. Norquist? The government? If so, count me out of we.

Has not the 20th century entirely debunked the concept of central planning? How many more people, Mr. Norquist, must suffer and/or die to prove the folly of central planning on a societal scale. (Steve Milloy, Green Hell blog)

COLUMN - Carbon Geography Of The United States: John Kemp - LONDON - Unless advocates of a cap-and-trade emissions scheme can design a credible and well-funded compensation mechanism to compensate the losers (including coal miners, heavy industrial workers, and their communities) carbon control policy risks becoming mired in the same controversy as trade liberalisation.

In a report published this month, Michael Cragg of the Brattle Group consultancy and Professor Matthew Kahn of UCLA Institute of the Environment illustrate how the "carbon geography" of the United States affects congressional votes on carbon control legislation.

While the basic conclusion is not surprising (representatives in states and counties with high carbon intensity are least likely to vote for tough control measures), the paper provides a wealth of supporting detail and comprehensive statistical analysis. (Reuters)

Really? And just how do we compensate life on Earth for short-changing it on return of that most essential and short-supplied resource, carbon?

From the climate poker tournament: China calls for deeper CO2 cuts by rich nations - BEIJING - China urged rich nations on Wednesday to sign up to tougher 2020 targets to cut carbon emissions, as U.N.-led negotiations intensify on a broader climate pact meant to rein in the pace of global warming.

An official with China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said rich nations must commit to cutting emissions by 25-40 percent by 2020 as well as ramp up funding for developing countries.

The comments come as Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives neared an agreement on Tuesday on a climate-change bill that they expected to approve soon.

Democrats had agreed to an emissions reduction target of 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels, said House Energy Committee chairman Henry Waxman. (Reuters)

Eye-rolling mix of false statements and journalistic fact-checking failure: Bill Clinton urges ‘strong’ climate change bill - The US Congress must pass a “strong” climate change bill before the global warming summit in Copenhagen this December if it is to have a chance of persuading China and India to sign up to a new treaty, says Bill Clinton.

“First of all if we don’t adopt a workable but a strong [cap and trade] bill then we can’t get them to sign up because we won’t have any credibility,” Mr Clinton told the Financial Times in an interview on Wednesday.

“They will dodge – they won’t play in that arena unless we are clearly there.”

The former US president, whose administration negotiated the Kyoto protocol in 1997, which failed to be passed by Congress because it largely spared the big developing countries from obligations, said China was in some respects ahead of the US on clean energy. (Financial Times)

EU urged to keep strong climate change goals - Two environmental experts say the EU must retain its climate change leadership, especially in times of global economic crisis, or else greenhouse gas emissions will not start coming down in 2015 as planned.

Chief U.N. climate scientist Rajendra Pachauri and Lord Nicholas Stern, a British expert, held talks with the European Union on Wednesday. Later they said the recession must push Europe to come up with new, clean technologies. (Associated Press)

US efforts on climate insufficient: experts - BRUSSELS — US plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions fall short of what is needed, climate change experts said after talks with the European Commission in Brussels.

"The US objectives are not strong enough, they have to make their commitments stronger," said Nicholas Stern, a British former world bank chief economist whose 2006 Stern Review put the economic case for green policies.

Lord Stern voiced optimism that the entry onto the world stage of US President Barack Obama could only help.

"I feel optimistic," echoed Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). (AFP)

Are they really this stupid? EU Targets Transport, Power For Next Climate Action - BRUSSELS - Eradicating greenhouse gases from power stations and cars, trucks and aviation must be Europe's next policy move to tackle climate change, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Wednesday.

The statement gives the first glimpse of what the 27-country bloc might do next as it moves towards a greener economy.

The European Union last year agreed to cut emissions of the main global warming gas, carbon dioxide, to a fifth below 1990 levels by 2020 -- the world's most ambitious climate policy.

It now aims to go further. (Reuters)

Some Aussie politicians obviously are: Historic emissions trading scheme bills tabled - The Federal Government has thrown down the gauntlet on emissions trading, tabling laws in Parliament to set up the scheme.

Parliamentary secretary Greg Combet quoted approvingly from an unusual source - Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull - as he urged the Coalition to pass the scheme.

Mr Turnbull had moved to set up his own emissions trading scheme (ETS) when the Coalition was last in Government and should follow it through, he said.

"With this bill, Mr Turnbull has the chance to see it through," Mr Combet said after quoting a comment the Opposition Leader made to Parliament in 2007. Now is the time for action."

The Government was determined to have the scheme enacted, Mr Combet said, urging all parties to support the legislation.

Opposition MP Wilson Tuckey heckled Mr Combet as he tabled 10 climate change bills, totalling more than 600 pages.

"You just sold out the workers of Australia who sent you here," Mr Tuckey said. (AAP)

Ocean conference: Not enough money for adapting to climate change - Manado, Indonesia - Efforts to battle the effects of climate change are short billions of dollars in needed funds, experts at an international conference focusing on the effects of climate change on the world's oceans said Wednesday.

Up to 1 trillion dollars are needed for mitigation and adaptation, said Al Duda, a water expert with the Global Environment Facility, at the World Ocean Conference held in Indonesia this week. (Asia-Pacific News)

Run Silent, Run Deep - America's "mainstream" media missed it, but April 17 was a red-letter day for its Deep Ecologists. Red letter because it was the day the Obama Administration declared that carbon dioxide and five other gases emitted by industry threaten "the health and welfare of current and future generations." This opens the door to regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency to "cap" emissions. The Deep Ecologists see this as the path to their cherished dream of a less populous nation with greatly reduced industrial production. It will also lead to a poorer (they would call it "simpler") standard of living. (Peter Hannaford, American Spectator)

Given the current negative warming this could be one very cold war: Russia warns of war within a decade over Arctic oil and gas riches - Russia raised the prospect of war in the Arctic yesterday as nations struggle for control of the world’s dwindling energy reserves.

The country’s new national security strategy identified the intensifying battle for ownership of vast untapped oil and gas fields around its borders as a source of potential military conflict within a decade.

“The presence and potential escalation of armed conflicts near Russia’s national borders, pending border agreements between Russia and several neighbouring nations, are the major threats to Russia’s interests and border security,” stated the document, which analysed security threats up to 2020.

“In a competition for resources it cannot be ruled out that military force could be used to resolve emerging problems that would destroy the balance of forces near the borders of Russia and her allies.”

The Kremlin has insisted that it is not “militarising the Arctic” but its warnings of armed conflict suggest that it is willing to defend its interests by force if necessary as global warming makes exploitation of the region’s energy riches more feasible. (The Times)

Charge your iPod, kill a polar bear? - The choice might not be quite that stark, but an energy watchdog is alarmed about the threat to the environment from the soaring electricity needs of gadgets like MP3 players, mobile phones and flat screen TVs.

In a report Wednesday, the Paris-based International Energy Agency estimates new electronic gadgets will triple their energy consumption by 2030 to 1,700 terawatt hours, the equivalent of today's home electricity consumption of the United States and Japan combined.

The world would have to build around 200 new nuclear power plants just to power all the TVs, iPods, PCs and other home electronics expected to be plugged in by 2030, when the global electric bill to power them will rise to $200 billion a year, the IEA said.

Consumer electronics is "the fastest growing area and it's the area with the least amount of policies in place" to control energy efficiency, said Paul Waide, a senior policy analyst at the IEA. (Associated Press)

And the lesson to be learned? Ramp up power supply, we're gonna need it!

Idiots: US Power Utilities Hail Carbon Bill Compromises - NEW YORK - US electricity generators support compromises being reached by Democrats in the House of Representatives on proposed climate legislation, saying the changes would soften the impact on power bills.

"It makes (the proposed bill) more reasonable and we've always said we would be willing to support a more reasonable cap-and-trade bill," said Melissa McHenry, spokeswoman for American Electric Power, the country's largest burner of coal for generating electricity. (Reuters)

There is nothing but harm in carbon constraint -- for people and the environment.

COLUMN - Renewables Roll Out Needs Price Guarantees: John Kemp - LONDON - Power generation from renewable sources such as wind turbines, solar cells and biomass plays a small but important part in satisfying total electricity demand around the world, and is growing at an exponential rate thanks to generous public subsidies and government support. (Reuters)

Read: horrendously overpriced guarantees, which tells us they are still nowhere near useful energy supplies.

'Cash for clunkers' bill hits speed bump - WASHINGTON—Legislation that would give car buyers a government voucher up to $4,500 when they trade in gas guzzlers hit a speed bump in the Senate amid concerns that a compromise between the White House and House Democrats doesn't go far enough to protect the environment.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who authored the "cash for clunkers" bill in the Senate, said Wednesday that she can't support the compromise announced last week after House Democrats met with President Barack Obama on global warming.

"Essentially what it means is that perfectly good vehicles would be scrapped, so that vehicles with below average fuel economy could be purchased," Feinstein said. (Associated Press)

Millions making big sacrifices to pay utilities bills, new research confirms - Warnings of pensioners going hungry in order to heat their homes weren't over-the-top, after all, new research shows

A new report has served to confirm the fears of many consumer groups and charities – that millions of UK households are having to cut back on their food bills and other essential simply to pay for their gas and electricity.

For several months now, organisations such as Help the Aged have been shouting Cassandra-like from the wings for the government to do more to help the most vulnerable in British society, particularly the elderly who are at the greatest risk from cold weather yet who are the least able to go online and switch utilities suppliers.

Now, such claims don't appear so sensationalist, with fresh research carried out by Consumer Focus revealing that 44 per cent of customers have been forced to cut back on essential items as the average combined fuel bill stands at £1,288.

What's more, the study also found that 65 per cent of those polled were "shocked" at the size of their most recent utilities bill, with around the same proportion far from optimistic that the recently-announced price cuts from the 'big six' suppliers will make any real difference to their personal finances. (UKNG)

World's largest wind farm finally gets go-ahead - The world's largest offshore wind farm is to be built 12 miles off the Kent coast in time for the London Olympics in 2012.

... However an international coalition of Germany's E.ON, Denmark's Dong Energy and the Gulf investment fund Masdar have decided to invest £2 billion together to go-ahead with the scheme after the Chancellor announced increased subsidies for offshore wind in this year's Budget. (Daily Telegraph)

Wasting more of our money: Global Solar Leaders and UNEP Outline Central Role for Solar in Climate Solution at United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poland - POZNAN, Poland, Dec. 8 -- Representatives from three leading international solar companies and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) -- Dr. Zhengrong Shi, Suntech's Chairman and CEO, Jeremy Leggett, Executive Chairman of Solarcentury, Mike Ahearn, Chairman and CEO of First Solar, and Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director -- gathered at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland to propose the rapid implementation and expansion of policies designed to support the growth of the solar industry and the global adoption of solar technology as a major contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction in support of global climate goals. (PRNewswire-Asia)

May 13, 2009

New virus "very unstable", more changes seen: expert - HONG KONG - A leading virologist has described the new H1N1 influenza virus as "very unstable", meaning it could mix and swap genetic material when exposed to other viruses.

The new virus, which has infected 5,251 people in 30 countries and killed 61, has displayed great efficiency in spreading among people, said Guan Yi, a microbiologist with the University of Hong Kong.

"This virus has been around only a few months, it is very unstable ... and we know that its presence is dramatically increasing in human population, so the chance of it meeting with H5N1 is actually increased," Guan said in an interview on Tuesday.

"Both H1N1 and H5N1 are unstable so the chances of them exchanging genetic material are higher, whereas a stable (seasonal flu) virus is less likely to take on genetic material." (Reuters)

New virus could still mutate, spark pandemic: WHO - GENEVA - The new H1N1 flu virus could still mutate into a more virulent form and spark an influenza pandemic that could be expected to circle the globe up to three times, the World Health Organisation said on Tuesday.

The impact of any pandemic would vary, as a virus that causes only mild illness in countries with strong health systems can become "devastating" in those with weak health systems, shortages of drugs and poorly equipped hospitals, it said.

The new virus, commonly referred to as swine flu, "appears to be more contagious than seasonal influenza" and nearly the world's whole population lacks immunity to the new disease, the WHO said in a document issued overnight entitled "Assessing the severity of an influenza pandemic".

"It attempts to explain different aspects of severity, not just the pathogenicity of the virus but its impact on health and social systems," WHO spokesman Thomas Abraham told Reuters. "It is in response to questions from the public and media." (Reuters)

Oh... Cleaner air from reduced emissions could save millions of lives, says report - Researchers predict that 100 million early deaths could be prevented by cutting global emissions by 50% by 2050

Tackling climate change by cutting greenhouse gas emissions could save millions of lives because of the cleaner air that would result, according to a recent study.

Researchers predict that, by 2050, about 100 million premature deaths caused by respiratory health problems linked to air pollution could be avoided through measures such as low emission cars. The economic benefits of saving those lives in developing countries such as China and India could also strengthen the negotiating hand of the UK and Europe at a crucial UN climate summit in Copenhagen this December.

Johannes Bollen, one of the authors of the report for the Netherlands Environment Agency, said the 100 million early deaths could be prevented by cutting global emissions by 50% by 2050, a target consistent with those being considered internationally." (Adam Vaughan, The Guardian)

... and how many more lives would be lost from lack of affordable electricity? What about from the loss of wealth-generation? After all, wealth is the greatest human health aid on the planet and always has been. These blinkered nutters make me sick.

You can trust us with your most private information — May 4, 2009

“The Virginia Department of Health Professions is currently experiencing technical difficulties which affect computer and email systems. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.”

“We hope this information is helpful to you and we sincerely regret any inconvenience this may cause you.” — H. Alan Rosenberg, LexisNexis Vice President, Investigations and Incident Response

Last Monday, 8,257,378 patient records and 35 million prescriptions were reported as stolen from the Virginia Dept. of Health Professions. An extortion note was posted on WikiLeaks, an online clearing house for leaked documents, demanding $10 million to return the prescription records to the State. Patients who went to the Virginia State website used by pharmacists, found the site down with the above “technical difficulties” message.

This didn’t make much news, perhaps because that would have meant it was news. (Junkfood Science)

Senate backs allowing guns in national parks - WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday backed an amendment that would allow people to carry loaded guns in national parks and wildlife refuges.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., sponsored the measure, which he said would protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. The amendment allows firearms in parks and wildlife refuges, as long as they are allowed by federal, state and local law.

"If an American citizen has a right to carry a firearm in their state, it makes no sense to treat them like a criminal if they pass through a national park while in possession of a firearm," Coburn said.

Twenty-seven Democrats joined 39 Republicans and one independent in supporting the amendment, which was attached to a bill imposing restrictions on credit card companies. The amendment was approved 67-29.

Groups supporting gun control, park rangers and retirees opposed the amendment, which they said went further than a Bush administration policy that briefly allowed loaded handguns in national parks and refuges. (AP)

Politically correct, factually dubious: Daily News: Boards of Education Publish Anti-Obesity Guide - In an effort to get schools involved in combatting childhood obesity, the National Association of State Boards of Education published “Preventing Childhood Obesity: A School Health Policy Guide.” The guide offers the latest policy updates and recommendations about how to promote physical education and activity and healthy eating policies in schools. According to NASBE, 16.3% of American children ages 2 to 19 are obese, and 31.9% are overweight. During the past four decades the obesity rate in children has more than quadrupled, the report states. Childhood obesity is estimated to cost $14 billion annually in direct healthcare costs.

Specifically, the report says, “If time is made for physical education and supervised recess, then kids are more physically active; and if they are more physically active, then they expend more calories and are closer to achieving an energy balance. If schools limit competitive foods and provide appetizing school meals that meet dietary guidelines, in appealing circumstances with sufficient time to eat, then they will consume appropriate calories and come closer to achieving an energy balance. If schools have a healthy environment for eating and physical activity, and community and family environments are also healthy, then children will achieve an energy balance and maintain healthy weight.”

Download the guide at (

Cheerios Cereal Isn’t So Wholesome as Package Claims -- Cheerios, the world’s best-selling cereal, isn’t so wholesome as its maker General Mills Inc. claims, U.S. regulators said.

Packaging and Internet advertising for the toasted oats violate federal law with promises to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, according to a warning letter posted on the Food and Drug Administration’s Web site today. General Mills, ordered to fix the issues or risk product seizure, said it would try to resolve the letter with the regulator.

The FDA allows food companies to make nutritional claims backed by scientific studies, and restricts wording. Health claims have helped food and beverage makers boost sales as more consumers struggle with obesity. Food companies are testing the regulator’s “relatively subjective view” of how much scientific proof is needed, said Christopher Shanahan, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan Inc. in Mountain View, California.

“We certainly don’t have any issues with the safety of Cheerios,” Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said in an interview today. “We just believe that the labeling on this particular product has gone beyond what the science supports.” (Bloomberg)

We assume the various 'vitamin water' and 'oxygen drink' sellers are heading for the hills then.

Soda Tax: From YouTube, to New England Journal, to Congress - One of the ideas for paying for health reform likely to be aired at a Senate hearing today: taxing sodas and other sugary drinks. Here’s a story from this morning’s WSJ.

This is an idea that’s been cropping up regularly lately — not that surprising, given that proponents argue it would reduce childhood obesity while raising money for strapped governments.

New York’s state health chief showed up on YouTube late last year, with a low-budget demonstration of how much sugar soda contributes to New Yorkers’ diets. But the health chief’s online performance wasn’t enough to save NYS Gov. Paterson’s plan to tax sugared drinks.

And, as we noted last month, a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine said sugary drinks “may be the single largest driver of the obesity epidemic” and argued that raising the price of the drinks would lower consumption.

But a soda tax would only pay for a fraction of health reform — the CBO has estimated that adding a tax of three cents per 12-ounce serving to these types of sweetened drinks would generate $24 billion over the next four years.

And the proposal would face plenty of opposition. The lobby that represents Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kraft and other companies said such a tax would unfairly hit lower-income Americans and wouldn’t deter consumption, the WSJ says.

Dummies: Beverage Industry Fighting Childhood Obesity by Helping Children Balance Calories - Cutting calories in schools reinforces skills for a lifetime; discriminatory taxes just raise revenue

WASHINGTON, May 12 -- Childhood obesity is a serious issue that requires comprehensive and thoughtful solutions, but discriminatory taxes on soft drinks and other beverages are the wrong public policy for such a complex problem, said Susan Neely, president and CEO of the American Beverage Association.

As Washington leaders begin discussing ways to improve health care in America, the beverage industry believes they need to focus on solutions that work when it comes to reducing childhood obesity. Solutions like the successful national School Beverage Guidelines, which cut calories in schools and help reinforce with children the importance of balancing calories. (PRNewswire-USNewswire)

Social engineering taxes are certainly wrong but so is capitulating to the nonsense that there are such things as "good" and "bad" foods.

Defeat the Soda Tax - During the presidential campaign of 2008, Barack Obama pledged that those making below $250,000 would not see their taxes go up one dime. He promised to cut taxes for the middle class and poor people. But if his friends in Congress get their way, President Obama will have a tough decision to make - whether to break his campaign pledge again in the form of higher taxes on soda and "sugary drinks" like Gatorade. (FreedomWorks)

Smoking may boost "fat-depleting" gene - NEW YORK - Offering clues to why smokers often gain weight after quitting, a new study suggests that smoking enhances the activity of a gene that helps break down body fat.

Researchers found that compared with non-smokers, a group of healthy smokers showed greater activity in a gene called AZGP1 in cell samples taken from their airways.

Because the gene is thought to be important in breaking down fat and controlling weight, the findings point to one possible reason that smokers tend to weigh less than non-smokers -- and why people often put on pounds after quitting.

Dr. Holly Vanni and colleagues at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York report the findings in the journal Chest. (Reuters Health)

Frequent Feedings May Be Making Babies Fat - TUESDAY, May 12 -- Mothers who fail to notice signs that their babies are full tend to overfeed them, resulting in excess weight gain when the infants are between 6 months and a year old, a new study has found. (HealthDay News)

They just have to attack every convenience: House Bill Seeks Bag Tax to Combat Pollution - WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) introduced a bill last month that seeks to cut pollution by placing a 5-cent tax on single-use plastic bags from drycleaners, grocery stores and other retailers.

“Our environment is literally choking on plastic bags,” Moran said in a statement, noting that oceans and rivers are clogged with plastic wastes. “Equally disturbing, as these plastics break down, toxic chemicals are being released into the environment.”

Dubbed the Plastic Bag Reduction Act of 2009, the bill would levy a 5-cent fee on single-use plastic bags to cut water pollution and garbage in landfills. Under the bill’s provisions, the tax would begin at 5 cents per bag on Jan. 1, 2010, and increase 5 cents per year to 25 cents per bag on Jan. 1, 2015. (Ian P. Murphy, American Drycleaner)

As 3M trial opens, harm from PFCs in dispute - Property values down, plaintiffs say - A group of Washington County residents finally got their day in court Monday — with opening arguments in the 3M Co. water pollution lawsuit.

"For decades, 3M and Washington County have had a pact, of sorts," attorney Martha Wivell said to a jury. By knowingly polluting the county's water, she said, "3M broke that pact."

Nonsense, said 3M attorney Cooper Ashley.

Ashley said that during the eight-week trial, he will show the Maplewood-based company acted responsibly at every turn, keeping the public informed about traces of chemicals in drinking water and spending millions to remove it.

The trial pits 3M against four Washington County residents — Gary and Karen Paulson, Brad Krank and Bill Henry.

Their earlier claims that the chemicals injured them were thrown out in December by District Judge Mary Hannon. Wivell told jurors Monday that 3M owes the four residents money because the chemicals depressed their property values by about 15 percent. In the cases of their three homes, damages would be about $100,000 total.

The lawyers also are asking for punitive damages — of an unspecified amount — for what they call 3M's negligence. (Pioneer Press)

FCI Responds to JNCI Study on Formaldehyde and Occupational Exposure - The National Institutes of Health has issued a press release concerning a new study about occupational exposure to formaldehyde and cancers of the blood and bone marrow. In turn, both USA Today and the New York Times have published stories on the results of the study.

The following is an official statement from FCI concerning the findings of the study. (Formaldehyde Facts) -- See also the Formaldehyde Council.

Carbofuran Pesticide Residues in Food Revoked - (Washington, DC – May 11, 2009) The Environmental Protection Agency has revoked regulations that permitted small residues of the pesticide carbofuran in food. Carbofuran is a toxic insecticide that does not meet current U.S. food safety standards. EPA’s action will eliminate residues of carbofuran in food, including all imports, in a move to protect people, especially children, from dietary risk. Ultimately, EPA will remove this pesticide from the market. (EPA)

FMC says EPA wrong about pesticide - FMC Corp. is taking a stand against a move by the Environmental Protection Agency to revoke all U.S. food tolerances for the pesticide carbofuran.

Based in Philadelphia, FMC is one of the main makers of the controversial pesticide, which is used to control insects on a range of variety of field, fruit, and vegetable crops. Carbofuran is absorbed through the roots of a plant and can be fatal once ingested by birds and other animals and has been determined by the EPA to have deleterious effects on humans.

“EPA has concluded that dietary, worker, and ecological risks are unacceptable for all uses of carbofuran,” the EPA said in a statement.

FMC said it “strongly disagrees” with the EPA and plans to file objections to this action by the EPA and to seek an administrative hearing. The chemical company said it has made voluntary changes to the pesticide’s label to meet the EPA’s dietary safety standards.

Under the EPA action, FMC will continue to sell and growers can use carbofuran until Dec. 31. (Philadelphia Business Journal)

Pesticide ban won't affect Bayer plant in Institute - CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A U.S. ban on the use of carbofuran in food won't affect production of the pesticide at the Institute chemical plant because most of the product is shipped overseas, officials said Tuesday.

FMC Corp. owns the portion of the Institute plant that makes carbofuran's active ingredient. But the unit is operated by Bayer CropScience, and carbofuran is one of four end products the Institute plant makes with its huge stockpile of the toxic chemical methyl isocyanate, or MIC. (WV Gazette)

Food Safety: Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty? - Last weekend the Sunday New York Times addressed a question that many Americans with misconceptions about the H1N1 flu virus are asking in the wake of recent food recalls: How safe is our food supply? The exact same article appeared in two different newspapers. The Times ran it under the headline “Outbreaks put worry on the table.” But the Cleveland Plain Dealer headline was noticeably less anxiety-inducing: “Health experts say food supply is safer today than a decade ago, but recalls raise new concerns.” Which was more accurate? (Center for Consumer Freedom)

Bills Zero In On Aerial Pesticide Applications - A legislative panel is making progress in its efforts to merge several bills designed to address the problems of drift and contamination from aerial pesticide applications. Proponents of the new restrictions want better notification before spraying takes place, as well as increased buffer zones and precise thresholds set to determine what level of contamination constitutes drift. Opponents maintain there haven't been enough cases of pesticide drift in the state to warrant the legislation. (A.J. Higgins, MPBN)

Salmon found only in PlayStation® environments are neither tasty nor nutritious -- don't worry about 'em: Efforts to save salmon may be undone by climate change - BOISE, Idaho -- The Pacific Northwest has spent two decades retooling dams, rebuilding damaged watersheds and restoring stream flows to keep salmon from disappearing.

The United States has invested billions in the effort - $350 million in 2004 alone - by far the most money spent on any endangered species.

But a new threat is more devastating than the gill nets that sent dozens of salmon runs into extinction. It is more deadly than the hydroelectric turbines that still kill millions of migrating smolts. In fact, it raises doubts about whether salmon will survive in the Northern Pacific at all.

Climate change already has made rivers warmer and spring runoff earlier, disrupting the life cycle of the fish that are an icon of the region.

No matter what actions the world takes to reduce greenhouse gases, river temperatures in more than half of the lower-elevation watersheds may exceed 70 degrees by 2040 - too hot for salmon.

"The only salmon that are going to survive the century mark are the ones in the large populations in the higher elevations that are still going to have snow and cold water," said Jim Martin, a former chief of fisheries for the state of Oregon.

But even these runs and those as far north as Alaska would be threatened if the world does not reduce gases like carbon dioxide over the next 50 years.

This means the hydroelectric dams that provide more than half of the electricity in the region - without emitting carbon dioxide - are more valuable than ever. (McClatchy Newspapers)

Real salmon, on the other hand, have benefited enormously from climate change (most salmon streams used to be under about a mile of ice until the "great warming" began about 15,000 years ago).

INTERVIEW - Hurricane Intensity Forecasting Still A Puzzle - FORT LAUDERDALE - People living in hurricane danger zones could have a long wait -- as much as 10 years -- for improved forecasts of rapid intensity changes in a hurricane, the top US hurricane forecaster said on Tuesday.

In the past 15 years, forecasters have cut their errors in predicting the track of a hurricane by half. But there's been almost no improvement in their ability to foresee a storm quickly revving up from a mild Category 1 to a destructive Category 5, National Hurricane Centre director Bill Read said.

US researchers are making a major effort to figure out the complex interactions inside a hurricane that might lead to explosive growth.

"Unless there's some Einstein out there that knows something none of us do, the prevailing thought among the researchers is that a good 24-hour forecast of intensity change is a goal, a stretch goal, that might be attainable (in 10 years)," Read told Reuters.

"But to say, here's a seedling off Africa that three days from now is going to blow up into a major hurricane, we're just not there," he said in an interview at the Florida Governor's Hurricane Conference in Fort Lauderdale. (Reuters)

Hurricanes pose special danger to Florida farm areas: blown pesticides, other toxic chemicals - FORT LAUDERDALE - South Florida's farming communities, such as Belle Glade, Homestead and Immokalee, face a hidden danger from hurricanes that can last long after the storm has passed: pesticides or other chemicals set loose by the storm.

"All those places are at risk," Roberta Perry, of the National Farm Workers Ministry, said during a workshop Tuesday at the Governor's Hurricane Conference at the Broward County Convention Center. "If it's a flood, those pesticides in the fields themselves, the runoff, can get very dangerous."

Farm workers' children may get sick playing in the contaminated mud of a chemical-laden field after a hurricane, Perry said. Because of a lack of knowledge, she said, doctors often misdiagnose the rashes, headaches and other chronic ailments brought on by the chemicals.

The danger comes from stored chemicals. Hurricane floodwaters can tip over pesticide containers in fields or breach storage tanks full of fertilizer. (South Florida Sun Sentinel)

Peter Foster: Unscientific American - Perennial doomster Lester Brown has been predicting a global food crisis for 40 years. So why does Scientific American believe him? (Financial Post)

Sticker shock in acting on global warming - Here's some news that might give many Americans sticker shock: The cost of cutting greenhouse gases by 15 percent would cost the average US household about $1,600, according to an estimate by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

Such unbiased estimates are emerging only late in a hot debate over global warming on Capitol Hill. Too bad. The numbers are pitting Democrats against one another when credible cost projections from neutral sources should have been clear long ago.

After years of hearing about the impact of doing nothing if atmospheric warming continues, the ruling party is only now struggling over forcing consumers and industries to pay for curbs on greenhouse-gas emissions.

With many Americans now in financial straits, the main climate-change bill in Congress is also in trouble. Polls show that a majority in the US are against setting caps on such climate pollutants. Concerns about global warming, once high, have dropped dramatically. Only 34 percent say they believe it is primarily caused by human activity.

A consensus draft bill may appear in coming days from a House committee, but it will probably be watered down. The original target of cutting carbon gases 20 percent by 2020 (from 2005 levels) could drop to 14 percent.

And instead of collecting some $624 billion in revenue from the selling of pollution permits to industry, most of those permits would be given away free of charge, in what is called a cap-and-trade system. There would be little money to fund clean energy or subsidize the poor for higher costs.

The US would look like a weak leader at this December's global summit on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark, if Congress passes a watered-down bill or none at all. India, China, and other nations would see little reason to act on their own.

The likely setback in revenues and in setting tough emission limits has the Obama White House scrambling to redefine the terms of this debate. It has consulted an ecomarketing firm that, among its proposals, suggests dropping the phrase "global warming" for "deteriorating atmosphere" and recommends using "the dirty fuels of the past" instead of citing carbon dioxide. (Christian Science Monitor)

There is not now and likely never will be any sound reason to wish to restrict supply or emission of an essential trace gas. The planet needs CO2 and we currently need to emit it as a byproduct of powering our society -- truly a win-win all round (probably why the watermelons hate it so -- can't have human endeavor seen as anything good now, can we). The bottom line is that the biosphere prospers with more CO2 and struggles with less. If you like life on Earth then emit CO2 -- it's as simple as that.

White House looks to re-brand ‘cap-and-trade’; announces naming contest

What’s in a name? Apparently, nothing conducive to green oppression if it’s “cap-and-trade.”

The White House is looking to replace the term “cap-and-trade” with something more exciting to the public, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. According to the Times,

Today, aides in Obama’s Council on Environmental Quality will meet with a research and marketing group that is promoting an alternative to the phrase “global warming,” which some pollsters say fails to capture the idea of greenhouse gases threatening the environment.

“There is value in trying to get the messaging right,” said a senior White House environmental aide, who was not authorized to speak on the record. “Because at the end of the day this is tricky policy. . . . We want to make sure we’re talking in a way that people understand.”

Let’s save the taxpayers some money.

E-mail your suggested alternative to “cap-and-trade” to

The best entry received by Monday, May 18, 2009 wins an autographed copy of Steve Milloy’s new book, Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them.

So put your thinking caps on — no recycling “cap-and-tax” or “cap-and-charade” — it won’t be easy to buff the cap-and-trade turd into a popsicle!

EPA's greenhouse gas ruling defies economic warning - The agency's declaration that emissions pose a health danger could have 'serious economic consequences' and lead to lawsuits against the government, an outside assessment concludes.

Reporting from Washington -- In ruling last month that greenhouse gases posed health and safety risks, the Environmental Protection Agency brushed aside a memo from other federal agency staffs warning that the move was "likely to have serious economic consequences" for small businesses and the economy overall, according to documents obtained today.

The EPA finding was considered an important step toward the Obama administration's goal of taking major new action against carbon dioxide and other emissions that scientists say contribute to global warming.

The EPA was not bound by the staff analysis, which administration officials said was at odds with White House policy, but it echoed concerns raised by many Republicans and industry groups.

The staff assessment, prepared under standard EPA policy, said the endangerment finding could open the door to lawsuits that might end up forcing the government to impose restrictions on such unrelated subjects as electromagnetic fields and even noise pollution.

The review team that prepared the assessment said the basis for the EPA's statement that greenhouse gases "overwhelmingly" endanger public health and welfare because they contribute to global warming was "especially weak."

Predictions of devastating climate change are "accompanied by uncertainties so large that they potentially overwhelm the magnitude of the harm," the report contended. (Jim Tankersley, Los Angeles Times)

Barrasso Asks Lisa Jackson About "Smoking Gun" OMB Memo

EPA Chief: CO2 Danger Finding May Not 'Mean Regulation' - WASHINGTON -- The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday a finding that greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are a public health danger won't necessarily lead to government regulation of emissions, an apparent about-face for the Obama administration.

The comments follow revelations of an administration document warning the EPA of potentially economically harmful consequences from an agency finding last month that proposes declaring greenhouse gases are a danger to the public. The document represents comments from various federal agencies, prepared by the Office of Management and Budget for EPA rulemaking.

An OMB spokesman said the document, however, doesn't represent administration policy. Statements in the document, however, are at odds with the EPA's reasoning for the "endangerment" proposal.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has previously said such a decision "will indeed trigger the beginning of regulation of CO2," echoing similar remarks by White House climate czar Carol Browner.

But speaking before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Ms. Jackson said Tuesday an endangerment finding "does not mean regulation." (Ian Talley, Wall Street Journal)

EPA Holding a Smoking Gun Memo - Barrasso Uncovers EPA Deception

"This is a smoking gun, saying that your findings were political, not scientific" - Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) (EPW)

White House memo challenges EPA finding on warming - WASHINGTON — An Environmental Protection Agency proposal that could lead to regulating the gases blamed for global warming will prove costly for factories, small businesses and other institutions, according to a White House document.

The nine-page memo is a compilation of opinions made by a dozen federal agencies and departments before the EPA determined in April that greenhouse gases pose dangers to public health and welfare.

That finding set in motion the regulation of six heat-trapping gases from cars and trucks, factories and other sources under the Clean Air Act for the first time.

The document, labeled "Deliberative-Attorney Client Privilege," says that if the EPA proceeds with the regulation of heat-trapping gases, including carbon dioxide, factories, small businesses and institutions would be subject to costly regulation.

"Making the decision to regulate carbon dioxide ... for the first time is likely to have serious economic consequences for regulated entities throughout the U.S. economy, including small businesses and small communities," the document reads.

A White House aide and Office of Management and Budget spokesman said the cost critique came from a single federal agency, and the document did not reflect the administration's view. They declined to identify which agency challenged the EPA proposal.

When the Bush administration unveiled its proposal to use the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases, it released full comments from each individual agency — many of which were critical. The Bush White House ultimately decided against using the Clean Air Act, saying it was an imperfect tool that would burden the economy. (Dina Cappiello, AP)

Proposed Endangerment Finding for Greenhouse Gases under the Clean Air Act (CAA)

Interagency memo prepared by the OMB as comment on the EPA's proposed endangerment finding for greenhouse gases. (9pp, 216Kb .pdf)

But wait, is that a cavalry bugle we hear? Clearing the Air - Media reports today are suggesting that OMB has found fault with EPA’s proposed finding that emissions of greenhouse gases from motor vehicles contribute to air pollution that endangers public health and welfare. Any reports suggesting that OMB was opposed to the finding are unfounded.

The quotations circulating in the press are from a document in which OMB simply collated and collected disparate comments from various agencies during the inter-agency review process of the proposed finding. These collected comments were not necessarily internally consistent, since they came from multiple sources, and they do not necessarily represent the views of either OMB or the Administration. In other words, we simply receive comments from various agencies and pass them along to EPA for consideration, regardless of the substantive merit of those comments. In general, passing along these types of comments to an agency proposing a finding often helps to improve the quality of the notice.

Perhaps more importantly, OMB concluded review of the preliminary finding several weeks ago, which then allowed EPA to move forward with the proposed finding. As I wrote on this blog on April 17, the "proposed finding is carefully rooted in both law and science." I also noted: "By itself, the EPA’s proposed finding imposes no regulation. (Indeed, by itself, it requires nothing at all.) If and when the endangerment finding is made final, the EPA will turn to the question whether and how to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new automobiles."

The bottom line is that OMB would have not concluded review, which allows the finding to move forward, if we had concerns about whether EPA’s finding was consistent with either the law or the underlying science. The press reports to the contrary are simply false. (Peter R. Orszag, Director, OMB)

Chaffetz pushes plan to ID climate-change fee hikes - Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz introduced a bill Tuesday that would require utility companies to identify any fee increases associated with a cap-and-trade emissions policy, which is now being debated in the House.

Democrats are pushing for the climate bill, which would cap overall emissions and sell credits to businesses. Less-polluting businesses could then sell their credits to higher-polluting businesses. Democrats believe this is a market-based system that will reduce greenhouse gases and spur growth in renewable energy.

But Republicans, like Chaffetz, have denounced the bill as a burden on businesses. They also say the cap-and-trade legislation will result in higher power bills. Utah GOP Rep. Rob Bishop, along with six other Republicans, have co-sponsored Chaffetz's proposal. (Salt Lake Tribune)

Waxman, Markey Announce Breakthrough on Climate Change Bill - Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have reached a deal on the most contentious aspects of cap-and-trade legislation for carbon emissions and plan to unveil the bill on Thursday, Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said Tuesday night.

“We have resolved a good number of the issues,” Waxman said after a meeting with committee Democrats, adding that the bill remains on track to clear his panel next week. Opening statements are planned for Thursday with a marathon markup beginning on Monday.

“I am optimistic. I believe we will have the votes to pass the bill [next week],” Waxman said. (Roll Call)

US set for compromise bill on emissions - Democrats in the US House of Representatives are expected to announce a compromise move on Wednesday that would give the go-ahead to a bill to tackle global warming. Success would beat expectations in a political climate increasingly hostile to cap-and-trade.

The bill, which will disappoint some environmental groups, is likely to give away more than half the carbon permits under the cap-and-trade system, and water down the original emission reduction targets envisaged by the two leading congressional sponsors, Henry Waxman of California and Ed Markey of Massachusetts.

However, moderate environmental groups say that any climate-change legislation would amount to a triumph during a severe economic downturn.

They point to a Pew Research Center opinion poll shortly after President Barack Obama’s inauguration, showing global warming at the bottom of the list of the public’s 20 highest concerns, with only 30 per cent of voters saying tackling the problem should be a top priority.

The issue came below “moral decline”, immigration, lobbyists and the military. “If you look at what is possible, then this bill is both environmentally effective and politically attractive,” said Tony Kreindler, a spokesman for the Environmental Defense Fund, an advocacy group. (Financial Times)

A compromise is not "better than nothing" -- where gorebull warming is concerned absolutely nothing beats nothing, which is precisely what must be done about the global warming boogeyman.

Why Support Waxman-Markey Now? - As Ed notes below, Lisa Jackson now says EPA won't regulate CO2.

My colleague Iain Murray suggests in an e-mail exchange that this could be a Machiavellian ploy to get Congress to pass Waxman-Markey — since the administration's reversal now leaves no backstop for action on climate change, absent legislation.

I see it otherwise. Without sufficient support from masochistic industry (to join the slavish rent-seekers actually behind the bill), Waxman-Markey won't pass Congress — maybe not even the House. So why should any fence-sitters support it now that the administration has backed off its CO2 regulation through EPA? Wasn't the principal argument in favor of Waxman-Markey that "you'd rather be at the table while Congress is writing this than let EPA regulation open some devil-you-don't-know can of worms" (an argument that was nonetheless hard to accept for anyone who actually read Waxman-Markey)?

Well, no longer. Not now, with the EPA coquettishly indicating it may not write such a scheme after all. Any rational actor would take their chances with an iffy EPA, and then in the courts — especially in light of internal administration revelations, and given the climate-alarmism industry's arbitrary and capricious reliance on unverifiable and now disproven computer models. (Chris Horner, Planet Gore)

House Dems scale back plans to curb global warming - House Democratic leaders are scaling back their plans to cut the gases blamed for global warming and to transition the country to cleaner sources of energy.

Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Rep. Henry Waxman of California announced Tuesday the outlines of a deal that they said would ensure the legislation will please both environmental and industry groups and have the support of moderate Democrats on the House Energy Committee.

But to do so, they had to lower targets for renewable energy and require a smaller reduction by 2020 in the emissions blamed for global warming.

The deal also calls for a portion of the permits to be given away to electric utilities and automakers, concessions pressed for by industrial-state Democrats. (Associated Press)

INTERVIEW - Greenhouse Gas Cuts Encouraging, Hope For More - UN - OSLO - Rich nations have outlined "encouraging" cuts in greenhouse gas emissions so far but the United States and others may be able to make tougher curbs, the head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat said on Tuesday.

"One of the main points from now on is to see how ... far the level of ambition can be increased," Yvo de Boer told Reuters, speaking of negotiations on a new UN pact to fight global warming due to be agreed in Copenhagen in December.

He said the marathon negotiations will get a spur from May 18, by when a first draft negotiating text is due to be published. The text will sum up submissions from governments in recent weeks. (Reuters)

Michel Jarraud: Global warming proof undeniable - The observed increase in global surface temperatures is unequivocal and a clear manifestation of global warming.

That conclusion comes in particular from 150 years of data collected by the 188 members of the World Meteorological Organisation through observing networks of tens of thousands of stations on land, at sea, in the air and from constellations of weather and climate satellites.

... the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, co-sponsored by the meteorological organisation, (WMO) has confirmed that based on observations and increasingly sophisticated and realistic numerical models, regional variability has increased and will continue to increase as global surface temperatures rise.

Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organisation in Geneva, responds to a recent article by Chris de Freitas questioning global warming. (New Zealand Herald)

The WMO annual report is of course the Hadley report rebadged:

In a preliminary report, released today on behalf of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the global mean temperature for 2008 is 14.3 °C, making it the tenth warmest year on a record that dates back to 1850.

Climate scientists at the Met Office Hadley Centre and the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at University of East Anglia maintain the global climate record for the WMO. They say this figure is slightly down on earlier years this century partly because of the La Niña that developed in the Pacific Ocean during 2007.

The close relationship between the Hadley Centre and the WGI of the IPCC arises from three factors: the active involvement of individual Hadley Centre scientists in the WGI, hosting of the WGI secretariat within the Hadley Centre, and Sir John Houghton's chairmanship of the WGI.

The brilliant consensus mechanism again. Keep creating different organisations with the same members and networks and you get authoritative sounding statements from from yet another "expert" body...

Copenhagen: Already dead? - The great global policy push for massive climate control laws and big fat taxes on carbon appear to be heading into a brick wall. From Australia to British Columbia, from Washington to Copenhagen, there are growing signs that the much anticipated replacement for the Kyoto Accord will be as dead as Kyoto before it arrives.

If signed, it will be called something like the Copenhagen Accord, after meetings later this year in that Danish city. But the global and national divisions over a new climate pact to reduce carbon emissions, visible everywhere, suggest there is little ground for common cause. Public support, for the science of climate change and the policies offered as a response, is shaky.

The usual pattern for these international agreements is that at the 11th hour -- and sometimes many months after the 11th hour has passed--members of the United Nations emerge with a half-backed compromise that could not be implemented even if they tried. That outcome is probably the most likely possibility, but as events seem to be unfolding right now, the dash for a new agreement seems to be winding down into a laboured effort to keep the thing alive. (Terence Corcoran, Financial Post)

The Green Wind Of Destruction - To say we're skeptical of the administration's claim that green jobs will bolster economic recovery is putting it mildly. It's much easier to believe that needless environmental rules will cause widespread job losses.

The White House has promised to create 5 million green-collar jobs over the next decade using the tax code to stimulate clean-energy programs. It's a proposal that has mass appeal, a hip idea from a cool president. Which should tell us a lot about its substance — or lack thereof.

Spain tried to green its economy and in the process lost jobs, according to Gabriel Calzada Alvarez, an economics professor at Juan Carlos University in Madrid, Spain. Alvarez, who authored a 41-page study on his country's experiment, said the U.S. should expect to lose nine jobs for every four that it creates through green stimulus programs.

That alone would be painful enough. But it's possible those job losses would be compounded by additional losses caused by regulation of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that eco-activists and politically aligned scientists claim is causing the Earth to warm. (IBD)

Canada Scolded Over Greenhouse Gas Estimates - VANCOUVER - Canada has overstated how effective its efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions will be, the country's top environmental watchdog said Tuesday.

The government has also not set up systems for accurately monitoring reductions in greenhouse gases or where the emissions are coming from, according to Commissioner of the Environment Scott Vaughan.

Ottawa is required to make annual reports on emission reductions, but Vaughan said the government's reports for the past two years lack key information needed to see if Canada is making any progress in cutting emissions of gases such as carbon dioxide, which are blamed for global warming.

"The expected emission reductions claimed in the plans are overstated, and the uncertainties related to these reductions are not disclosed," the report said. (Reuters)

Big questions linger around major source of carbon emissions - As environmentalists and politicians rally around the inclusion of avoided deforestation projects in an international climate change agreement, some big questions about forest and land ownership loom unanswered.

A new report (pdf) released yesterday by the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development aims to address some of those questions by promoting debate among reduced deforestation stakeholders about current land rights and institutions in countries with tropical rainforests, like Brazil and Indonesia. The goal is to find the answers before delegates meet in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December to negotiate a new international climate change treaty.

Uncertainty over land ownership, rights and access to natural resources are familiar problems in developing countries where deforestation is an issue, according to James Mayers, head of the natural resources group at IIED and co-author of the report.

However, the possible inclusion of "reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation," or REDD, projects in a post-2012 global climate change framework could mean exploitation of local communities who live in and around rainforests by governments or powerful private-sector stakeholders if land tenure has not been formally established, he said.

"We're trying to point out who decides and owns forest resources is going to be at the heart of any new set of arrangements for climate change as it is and has been [at] the heart of pretty much all other questions of governance and forest resource use," Mayers said yesterday about the report.

Mayers said he wants to initiate debate on the topic before the Copenhagen conference since that meeting will decide whether to include REDD or a similar avoided deforestation finance mechanism into a climate change agreement. (ClimateWire)

India Chooses Coal, Not Kyoto - With the rest of the world talking about carbon dioxide emissions and another Kyoto-style emission reductions plan, India continues to utilize the energy source that it has in abundance: coal.

India gets 51.4 percent of its primary energy from coal, making it the fourth-most coal dependent country in the world. And the primacy of coal will continue for decades to come as India has enough coal reserves to last for the next 100 years.

The result of all that coal use: India's carbon emissions are rising faster than nearly every other country on the planet. Between 1980 and 2006, the country’s carbon output increased by 341 percent. That’s a greater rate of increase than that of China (312 percent), Brazil (103 percent), Indonesia (238 percent), or Pakistan (272 percent). By 2006, India was the third-largest carbon emitter in the world, with nearly 1,300 million tons of carbon dioxide, behind only the US (5,902 million tons) and China (6,017 million tons). (Priyanka Bhardwaj and Robert Bryce, Energy Tribune)

CO2 Truth-Alert:
Getting Real About Coal and Oil: In a recent Repower America ad, a wizened old rancher, who's obviously spent too much time exposed to the wind and sun, decries the use of coal and oil as an answer to our energy problems ...

Click here to watch additional CO2 Truth-Alerts on various global warming topics, to embed any of our videos on your own web page, or to watch them on YouTube in a higher resolution.

The Amazing Amazon Rainforest: Not even a once-in-a-century drought could long curtail its inexorable positive growth response to the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content.

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week:
Was there a Medieval Warm Period? YES, according to data published by 699 individual scientists from 408 separate research institutions in 40 different countries ... and counting! This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from the Orco River Valley, Northwestern Italian Alps, Italy. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary:
Solar Influence on Climate (Cosmic Rays): How might solar-modulated time-varying fluxes of cosmic rays penetrating earth's atmosphere impact its climate? ... and how likely is the theory to be correct?

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Orchid (Yoon et al. 2009), Rice (Yang et al. 2009), Sago Palm (Pardo et al. 2009), and Sea Aster (Geissler et al. 2009).

Journal Reviews:
A 265-Year Reconstruction of Lake Erie Water Level: What does it imply about global warming and the volume of this important repository of life-giving water?

Fire as a Negative Climate Feedback?: How does it work?

Rapid Adaptation to Potential Effects of Climatic Change Via Natural Selection: One can learn a lot from a mosquito fish.

Helping Halophytes Combat Soil Salinization: Atmospheric CO2 enrichment enables salt-tolerant plants to more effectively reverse soil salinization and reclaim seriously degraded land, while simultaneously boosting their value as significant cash crops.

Greenhouse Production of Cucumbers: Even modest atmospheric CO2 enrichment can lead to significant increases in crop yield and water use efficiency, as well as decreases in fertilizer loss to waste water that would otherwise pollute surrounding land and waterways.

Conference: The Third International Conference on Climate Change will be held in Washington, DC on June 2, 2009 at the Washington Court Hotel, 525 New Jersey Avenue NW. It will call attention to widespread dissent to the asserted “consensus” on various aspects of climate change and global warming. We encourage you to attend.

Comments On The New Paper “The United States Historical Climatology Network Monthly Temperature Data – Version 2 By Menne Et Al 2009 - There is a new paper on the latest version of the United States Historical Climatololgy Network (USHCN). This data is used to monitor and report on surface air temperature trends in the United States. The paper is Matthew J. Menne, Claude N. Williams, Jr. and Russell S. Vose, 2009: The United States Historical Climatology Network Monthly Temperature Data – Version 2. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (in press). (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

Chuck It Yet Again Schmidt! - Yet again Gavin Schmidt, who writes the political RealClimate blog for “global-warming” alarmists that is promoted by two of the authors of the now-discredited “hockey-stick” graph falsely abolishing the medieval warm period, has inaccurately criticized me in his blog. This paper sets the facts straight. (Christopher Monckton, SPPI)

SPPI Monthly CO2 Report: April

Al Gore / AIT Index: Global temperatures have plunged .54°F (.30°C) since An Inconvenient Truth was released (Gore Lied)

Climate Change Driving Michigan Mammals North — Some Michigan mammal species are rapidly expanding their ranges northward, apparently in response to climate change, a new study shows. In the process, these historically southern species are replacing their northern counterparts. (ScienceDaily)

You 'muricans, driving everywhere! In the great land down-under we make our critters walk ;-)

All life on planet depends on CO2 - A belief is not merely an idea the mind possesses: it is an idea that possesses the mind. --Robert Bolton

The Possessive Belief: CO2 (CARBON) IS NOT CAUSING GLOBAL WARMING OR CLIMATE CHANGE. I can’t say it more boldly but it doesn’t seem to matter; the belief persists that CO2 is the cause and therefore a problem. The belief is enhanced by government policies and plans, which spawn businesses to exploit the opportunities they create.

A majority of the mainstream media pushes the belief because of political bias rather than understanding of the science. Evidence continues to show what is wrong with the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), but it is complex and so most don’t understand. The fact they hold definitive positions without understanding is disturbing. However, ignoring the fact that IPCC predictions are always wrong doesn’t require understanding of the science is completely unacceptable and proof of the political bias. (Tim Ball, CFP)

Scientists Discuss Climate Change at World Ocean Conference - Scientists and politicians have gathered in the Indonesian city of Manado for the World Ocean Conference. They are discussing the role of oceans in mitigating climate change and how climate change affects the world's seas, but their efforts are hampered by a lack of knowledge about the oceans. (VOA)

Translation: group wants paid holiday and slice of funds from gargantuan gorebull warming pie, makes wild statements based on zero knowledge for gullible media and easily herded politicians.

Obligatory sea level rise nonsense thrown in for dramatic effect: Disaster looms with rising sea levels: islands - MANADO, Indonesia — Rising sea levels that could wipe whole nations off the map and displace scores of millions of people are being overlooked in global climate change talks, island countries said Tuesday.

Major emitters are pushing for greenhouse gas emissions cuts that are too low to prevent devastating sea rises, representatives said at the World Ocean Conference in Indonesia's Manado city.

"Dealing with environmental refugees will have a much more serious impact on the global economy and global security in fact than what wars have ever done to this planet," said Rolph Payet, a presidential adviser from the African island nation of the Seychelles.

Other nations under threat from even small rises in sea levels include the Pacific island states of Kiribati and Tuvalu, while heavily populated low-lying areas such as Bangladesh's coastline would also go under. (AFP)

Recycled rubbish: Coral Triangle at risk from climate change - JAKARTA - Southeast Asia's biologically diverse coral reefs will disappear by the end of this century, wiping out coastal economies and sparking civil unrest if climate change isn't addressed, conservation group WWF said on Wednesday. The Coral Triangle, a reef network that spans Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and East Timor, has more than 76 percent of the world's reef-building coral species and 35 percent of its coral reef fish species. (Reuters)

Ove’s latest big scare (Andrew Bolt Blog)

Coral: Canary in the Coalmine - Reading nature's warning signs has never been so fun

Over the last few years, knowledge about the effects of rising heat and CO2 levels in the atmosphere on coral reefs, those bizarre, multicultural underwater gardens, has proliferated. One of the newest reports, published this past March, predicts that if atmospheric carbon levels reach double what they are now – 750 parts per million – coral reefs will start to grow so slowly that they won’t keep themselves from dissolving.

Coral has already been dubbed a canary in a coalmine, due to its sensitivity to temperature and acidity, which make it a kind of first warning for the environmental changes wrought by rising global temperature and atmospheric carbon. We dive in to that canary-like sensitivity, and the complex life of a reef, in this new PopSci Comic. (Molika Ashford, PopSci)

Oh boy... Global Warming Hazardous - On the sidelines of the Abu Dhabi Conference on "Climate Change: Financing Green Development,” organized by New York University and hosted by the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) from May 3 to 5, 2009, Dr. Michael Oppenheimer, a co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize and a leading scholar on global warming, sat down for an exclusive interview with the ECSSR Website to express his views on a number of important issues related to climate change and global warming with a focus on their implications for Gulf countries. He was impressed by the UAE’s experience on renewable energy and expressed his support for the UAE’s campaign to host the head office of the International Renewable Energy Agency. Following are excerpts of the interview: (ECSSR)

Penny-Wise And Megawatt Foolish - Among the Lilliputian cuts in the budget is the termination of the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev. Thus, a "shovel ready" renewable resource that emits no greenhouse gases is shoved aside.

As with missile defense, which also took a hit in the $17 billion worth of budget cuts that were like trimming the nose hair on a woolly mammoth, the future of nuclear power seems to be one of researching forever but building never.

The future of nuclear power is dependent on the safe storage of the spent nuclear fuel now used to generate nearly 20% of the nation's electricity. Yet the budget cuts recently announced cut off almost all funding for creating a permanent storage site for a large portion of the spent fuel in the Nevada desert. (IBD)

CASE FOR BIOFUELS WEAKENS FURTHER - CHURCHVILLE, VA—Biofuels are a terrible answer to the fuel problem.

They force consumers to bid against themselves on food and fuel, artificially driving up the prices of both.

Biofuels take huge amounts of land to produce each gallon—and land is the planet’s scarcest resource. Farmers know they must double food and feed production over the next 40 years to adequately feed the expected 8 billion people and we already use most of America’s good farm land.

If you believe atmospheric carbon is a problem, be aware that when grassland is converted to cropland to grow biofuels, we incur a “carbon debt” as the stored carbon in the soil gasses into the air. This aggravates greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere—for decades into the future.

The most urgent problem, however, is the staggering cost of biofuels. Government subsidies for oil and natural gas totaled just 10 cents per megawatt hour in 2007, according to the Energy Information Agency. Converted to electricity, corn ethanol and other biofuels got 19 times as much subsidy per unit of delivered energy—$19.52 per megawatt-hour.

Coal got 44 cents per megawatt-hour in subsidies during 2007, while wind turbines got $23.37 and solar panels got $24.34 per MW-h!

Nuclear power produces carbon-free electricity, and is subsidized at only $1.59 per MW-h. However, Energy Secretary Stephen Chu just announced that he won’t open the Yucca Mountain storage facility, so bye-bye to more nuclear power. (Dennis T. Avery, CGFI)

Stress-Testing Biofuels: How the Game Was Rigged - Last week, while the financial world was obsessing over stress tests for fragile banks, the environmental and agricultural worlds were watching the results of the Obama Administration's stress tests for renewable fuels. An outgrowth of the 2007 energy bill, the tests were supposed to document whether corn ethanol and other biofuels designed to replace fossil fuels would accelerate or alleviate global warming overall. But like the much-criticized bank checkups, these stress tests don't seem particularly stressful. (Michael Grunwald, Time)

Goodlatte wants increased ethanol blend proposal rejected - While saying he’s a “strong supporter of renewable fuels,” Congressman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia last week urged President Obama, Ag Secretary Vilsack and EPA administrator Lisa Jackson not to approve the current ethanol blend increase request. Goodlatte, the ranking member of the House Ag Committee, says “many other members of Congress” have joined him in a letter saying an ethanol blend above 10 percent in gasoline could “result in serious economic consequences that could negatively affect already struggling Americans.”

Goodlatte asserts that raising the blend would decrease fuel efficiency in automobiles and “increase food costs for all Americans.” (Julie Harker, Brownfield)

House subcommittee grills EPA on indirect land use - The U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy, and Research held a hearing May 6 to review certain aspects of the renewable fuel standard (RFS), including the impacts of indirect land use change and the definition of renewable biomass.

On May 5, the U.S. EPA released its proposed rule for the implementation of RFS2 and opened a period of public comment. As directed by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the proposed rule calculates the lifecycle emissions of each fuel, including emissions that result from all stages of production. While petroleum-based fuels are graded on direct emissions only, biofuels are also charged with emissions that result from indirect land use.

“EISA requires EPA to look broadly at lifecycle analyses and to develop a methodology that accounts for each of the important factors that may significantly influence this assessment, including both direct and indirect emissions, such as significant emissions from land use changes,” said Margo Oge, director of EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, in her hearing testimony. (Ethanol Producer Magazine)

Greenhouse Gas Emission Rules Fail to Follow Intent of Congress - The ethanol industry argues there's no legal requirement for the Environmental Protection Agency to count greenhouse gas emissions from foreign crops in its proposed renewable fuels rule. Renewable Fuels Association spokesman Matt Hartwig says the 2007 energy act is clear on what EPA must look at in measuring climate change emissions from making biofuels.

"It did not specifically say international land use change and look at factors that occur outside the borders of the United States," Hartwig said. "That is something that EPA read into the intent of Congress when they passed the law."

Hartwig points out that Congress also has the power to change EPA's final rule if it doesn't pass muster. However EPA's Air Quality Chief Margo Oge insisted before a House Agriculture Subcommittee last week that ignoring large foreign greenhouse gas emissions would make any analysis scientifically less credible. Hartwig disagrees.

"Perhaps the number one reason for clearing of the forest is hardwood floors and the construction of big mansions we've seen sprout up all over suburbia," Hartwig said. "We lose 2 million acres of farmland in the United States to subdivisions and shopping malls every year."

Also Hartwig says proposed schemes just to measure emissions from corn and soybeans here will lead to nightmarish scenarios that will only harm U.S. biofuels development. (Farm Futures)

The New Republic: Want To Fuel Your Car With Corn? Try Burning It. - May 12, 2009 · Corn-based ethanol has suffered a few whacks in recent months. First, new studies suggested that when you took indirect land-use effects into account, corn-based ethanol could produce more greenhouse-gas emissions than gasoline. (That is, when American farmers start planting corn for fuel instead of food, that drives up food prices, which spurs farmers abroad to cut down forests to grow their own corn.) Next, the Obama administration proposed new rules regulating ethanol emissions that were stringent enough to elicit snarls of outrage from Collin Peterson, chairman of the House agricultural committee. Plus, as Tom Lawasky reports, there's growing resistance to a potential EPA rule that would increase the amount of ethanol used in blended gasoline.

Now here comes another whack. Last week, Science published a new study showing that if you want to use corn or other crops to power your car, it's far, far more efficient—and eco-friendly—to burn them as biomass to produce electricity for battery-powered cars, rather than converting the crops into ethanol. How much better depends on various factors, but as an example, an acre of switchgrass could generate enough electricity to power a small, battery-powered SUV 14,000 miles on the highway, but it would produce only enough ethanol to drive a comparable internal combustion engine 9,000 highway miles. (Bradford Plumer, NPR)

Australia To Build Clean-Power Stations - CANBERRA - Australia's government will spend A$4.5 billion (US$3.4 billion) in partnership with private investors to build up to eight commercial power stations testing clean coal and solar technologies, Treasurer Wayne Swan said on Tuesday.

In one of few budget surprises, Swan said the leftist government would help fund between two and four new coal-fired power stations to test carbon capture and storage technologies, with each to be capable of generating up to 1,000 megawatts.

The money, which the government expected to be tripled to around A$13.5 bln by private investment, would also back construction of another 2-4 commercial-scale stations using rival solar or thermal technologies, also each with 1,000MW capacity.

"We are ... absolutely determined that our nation-building plans will create the low-pollution economy Australia needs for the future," Swan said in his budget speech.

Australia is the world's biggest coal exporter and has a huge interest in so-called "clean-coal" technologies, with up to 80 percent of the nation's electricity also coming from dirty coal-fired power plants. (Reuters)

And their point is? Car emissions exceed forecasts - New roads built in the UK since 2002 have led to double the increase in carbon emissions originally forecast by the government.

The data, which have not been publicised, could raise questions about official assumptions on road traffic emissions resulting from Heathrow's expansion.

Norman Baker - transport spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, who obtained the data - said the figures showed government concern for climate change was "little more than greenwash". (Financial Times)

China Keeps Lid On Motor Fuel - The Chinese government surprised oil traders last week by rejecting an oil product pricing proposal put forward by oil giants Sinopec and CNPC. The two companies were hoping the government would approve a price increase of nearly 10 percent on gasoline and diesel fuel, but regulators -- apparently worried about making any moves that might hurt the country’s slowing economy -- chose to keep prices flat. The government’s move was surprising and somewhat worrisome to analysts who now see the government moving away from promises to bring more market-oriented pricing to the booming oil products sector. (Lee Geng, Energy Tribune)

Counterpoint: Wind power works - Denmark gets around 20% of its electricity from wind power (Sigurd Lauge Pedersen, Financial Post)

Response: The myth of the Danish green energy ‘miracle’ - Wind power doesn’t reduce CO2 emissions, costs consumers more and kills jobs (Michael Trebilcock, Financial Post)

May 12, 2009

We stand accused: no longer interested in Junk Science - used to be a fun read. Now it's become a political megaphone for right wing hacks and mindless ultra right wing fascist twats. What a shame. Where will the mindless anti-Obama cancer migrate to next? (Forum User)

What do you think? Feel free to post your opinions over on the forum (self-register for your free account if you haven't already done so).

Meh... Mexico's Health Chief Receives Plaudits - MEXICO CITY -- The face of the flu outbreak in Mexico is all bushy eyebrows and droopy mustache, and it speaks in tones deeply somber but not quite funereal. The face belongs to a previously obscure gastroenterologist named José Ángel Córdova, the health secretary, who is now the second most powerful man in Mexico.

For 17 consecutive days, Córdova has been giving the nation and the world a daily diagnosis of an epidemic -- and explaining the tough measures that he and Mexico are taking to confront it.

The treatment appears to be working, and Mexico and Córdova are winning applause from global health experts for a swift, coordinated, transparent response that probably saved lives here and abroad. (Washington Post)

What scare? Europeans play down new flu - ROME - Just over two weeks since the outbreak of the H1N1 flu, some Europeans are asking whether danger was exaggerated, but the World Health Organisation warned against complacency and said the worse could be yet to come.

With all but five of the 53 deaths reported in Mexico, and public health experts saying the new virus appears less severe than a seasonal flu strain, lifestyles in Europe have gone back to usual, if indeed they ever changed. (Reuters)

Words, words, words

“That's an ill phrase, a vile phrase”

The scaremongering industry and its media hangers-on are very imitative of each other. New scary phrases catch on and rapidly become clichés. One of the most recent examples is “worse than previously thought”. What gives the game away is that the objective is almost always one of the favoured targets of PC scaremongers (alcohol, tobacco, coffee, adiposity, carbon etc.) Googling the phrase produces 36,600 hits. Often it means that that new guesses of disposable parameters in infinitely tunable models give scarier results. Global warming is, of course, always to the fore.

Latest to climb on this particular bandwagon are the alcohol zealots, who have worked themselves up into a frenzy over recent months. Now alcohol related dementia is WTPT. The article in the Telegraph is an interesting example of the genre. The word “worrying” appears four times, just in case you fail to experience the correct reaction. On the other hand you might come to the conclusion that it is just another piece of junk epidemiology and pour yourself a soothing drink. If so many things are WTPT, how comes there was so much incompetence shortly before, compared with the new wisdom?

Only those of us who have memories that go back to BC (Before Censorship) recall that it was once widely accepted that tobacco halves the risk of dementia. The knowledge went through the normal progression of the politically incorrect, first a stage of being a “paradox” and then disappearing off the face of the earth. That’s the way stuff happens these days. (Number Watch)

True, Australians are not given to chemophobia: Australia slow to ban toxic products - A LIST of highly toxic chemicals about to be deregistered or already banned in the European Union remain widely available in Australia and can be found in everything from pets' flea control collars to head-lice treatments for children.

An analysis of pesticide use in everyday products, conducted by the consumer advocate group Choice, found that a wide range of household surface sprays, cockroach baits, termite and ant treatments, mosquito deterrents, flea shampoos and pet accessories were still being manufactured here with eight chemicals it says are no longer registered in Europe.

One neurotoxin, chlorpyrifos, which is used as a household insect killer, has also been banned in the United States for almost a decade because of its suspected link to childhood leukaemia and effects on the reproductive and immune systems.

Another pesticide, permethrin, is still commonly found in commercial head-lice shampoos, lotions and sprays. The chemical is to be phased out in Europe from October, but it was only recently added to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority's list of chemicals scheduled for review, and it has been marked by the statutory body as a low priority. (The Age)

In fact our willingness in the land down-under to embrace useful chemicals is probably high on the list of reasons Australians are close to topping the global longevity tables. Disease vectors? Poison 'em! Pests of any description? Clobber 'em with the biggest chemical hammer available. Three or four different classes of chemical, if available, just to avoid resistance problems later. People come first, last and always, bugs don't count & critters are somewhere over near the bugs. Clear enough for you?

Plain stupid: UN-sponsored meeting bans nine chemicals – but not DDT - To protect the environment, as well as the health of people and animals, representatives of 150 countries have just agreed to add nine chemicals to a list of persistent organic pollutants, or POPS, that are prohibited under the Stockholm Convention, an environmental treaty that took effect in 2004. (CSM)

Pudge Police Coming — Part Two - Part One here.

North Carolina legislators voted to use discrimination to help bail out the State’s Health Plan. As troubling as that sounds, the legislation passed without much trouble, perhaps because it’s been easy to convince the public that certain people are costing them and to blame for having health problems. (Junkfood Science)

Quarter now obese, overweight draw level with healthy - THE number of overweight Australians is poised to overtake those of healthy weight, and the obese are not far behind.

The latest National Health Survey shows waistlines are expanding across all ages and that 25 per cent of adults are now officially obese, up from 19 per cent in 1995.

Another 37 per cent are overweight -- the same proportion of the population who qualify as "normal weight" (The Australian)

But Aussies reckon they're fit and well - AUSTRALIANS are becoming fatter, drunker and sicker, but are in denial, with most saying they are in excellent health.

More than a quarter of all adults are obese, with 65 to 74-year-old men the heaviest of all, figures from the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics health survey reveal.

According to body mass index, more than 60 per cent of men and 55 per cent of Australian women were classified as obese, a jump from 64 per cent and 49 per cent respectively in 1995.

The survey also revealed children were getting heavier, with the number of obese boys doubling since 1995 and more than 15 per cent of girls and boys classified as obese. (Herald Sun)

And yet with a life expectancy at birth of 81 years Australia is second only to Japan (82) in the WHO's global longevity tables.

New Anti-fouling Principle For Anti-fouling Paints: Almost 100 Percent Effective Against Barnacles — Researchers at the University of Gothenburg have been working with the Swedish Chemicals Inspectorate and paint manufacturers on a new, low-emission, environmental hull paint based on a new principle called Post settlement inhibition (PSI). The paint is almost 100 percent effective in keeping barnacles away. An extension of the new principle may be to further develop paints that will be effective against all hull-fouling, without damaging marine organisms in the open water and sediment. (ScienceDaily)

New report and materials from U.S. Senate Green Jobs and the New Economy Subcommittee Ranking Member Senator Kit Bond entitled "Yellow Light on Green Jobs." - The report, based on a review of materials overwhelmingly from green jobs, environmental and labor advocates as well as progressive policy groups, finds that green jobs require expensive taxpayer subsidies to create, pay low wages, and kill existing jobs to pay for creating new green jobs. This is in large part because green jobs advocates seek to fund their multi-billion U.S. dollar proposals through energy tax raising and job killing global warming legislation. The report's lessons for policymakers include: do not kill existing jobs to create green jobs, avoid expensive green jobs taxpayer subsidies, and promote only those green jobs that make economic sense. (U.S. Senator Christopher S. Bond)

Enviro-hysteria not rating? Newsnight hit in BBC News cuts - Two specialist BBC News science and environment jobs to be lost, and Newsnight's budget to be reduced by 15%

Newsnight is facing a 15% budget cut and two BBC environment and science reporters will also lose their jobs as part of BBC News's latest round of job losses.

BBC News insiders are said to be "horrified" by the proposals, which were put to the Newsnight and science and environment teams along with the rest of the division's staff earlier this week.

Newsnight is expected to make a 15% budget reduction as part of the cuts. (Ben Dowell, The Guardian)

America needs More Tort Lawyers According To Forbes Magazine - I didn't believe it when I read it: Forbes Magazine Calling for More Tort Lawyers? by Dan Firth. Wait!? That can't be true. That's like the Red Sox holding an appreciation day at Fenway for Yankee fans.

Dan Firth is a prominent tort lawyer in Roanoke, Virginia. I figured that he must be playing a late April Fools joke on us all. Forbes Magazine hates tort attorneys I am sure. But then I followed the link and there it is: (Wayne Parsons, Injury Board)

Never Right, But Never in Doubt - Famine-monger Lester Brown still gets it wrong after all these years

"Could food shortages bring down civilization?," asks environmental activist Lester Brown in the current issue of Scientific American. Not surprisingly, Brown's answer is an emphatic yes. He claims that for years he has "resisted the idea that food shortages could bring down not only individual governments but also our global civilization." Now, however, Brown says, "I can no longer ignore that risk." Balderdash. Brown, head of the Earth Policy Institute, has been a prominent and perennial predictor of imminent global famine for more than 45 years. Why should we believe him now? (Ronald Bailey, Reason)

Indoctrination video: A Cautionary Video About America’s ‘Stuff’ - The thick-lined drawings of the Earth, a factory and a house, meant to convey the cycle of human consumption, are straightforward and child-friendly. So are the pictures of dark puffs of factory smoke and an outlined skull and crossbones, representing polluting chemicals floating in the air.

Which is one reason “The Story of Stuff,” a 20-minute video about the effects of human consumption, has become a sleeper hit in classrooms across the nation.

The video is a cheerful but brutal assessment of how much Americans waste, and it has its detractors. But it has been embraced by teachers eager to supplement textbooks that lag behind scientific findings on climate change and pollution. And many children who watch it take it to heart: riding in the car one day with his parents in Tacoma, Wash., Rafael de la Torre Batker, 9, was worried about whether it would be bad for the planet if he got a new set of Legos. (New York Times)

US red ink to top $1.8 trillion, 4 times record; Gov't borrows 46 cents for every dollar spent - The shortfall -- about four times the record set just last year -- results from the deep recession, the Wall Street bailout, and the cost of President Barack Obama's economic stimulus bill. (Associated Press)

Spiders Getting Bigger -- Global Warming to Blame? - As if global warming isn't giving us enough to worry about, now scientists say it could lead to bigger—and possibly more—spiders of at least one species.

A group of Danish scientists wondered whether global warming would make the hairy, meat-eating wolf spiders of northeastern Greenland bigger, since longer summers mean more hunting time. (National Geographic News)

File photo (© Eight Legged Freaks)

Another eye-roller: Future Climate Change Likely To Cause More Respiratory Problems In Young Children — More children will end up hospitalized over the next decade because of respiratory problems as a result of projected climate change, according to a new study from Mount Sinai School of Medicine. (ScienceDaily)

Oh... Floods in Brazil point to climate change: Lula - BRASILIA — Flooding that has left 44 dead in northern Brazil and the worst drought in eight decades in the south of the country are signs of climate change, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Monday.

"Brazil is feeling climate changes that are happening in the world, when there is a deep drought in a place where there's never been one, when it rains in places where it never rains," he said in his weekly radio program. (AFP)

Attempt To Discredit Cosmic Ray-Climate Link Using Computer Model - Two computer modelers from CMU have written a program to simulate the interaction of cosmic rays with Earth's atmosphere. Because the model failed to predict significant increases in cloud cover, global warming activists are claiming the theory linking cosmic rays to climate change has been discredited. Climate models have failed to accurately predict the current downward trend in temperatures and now we are asked to accept a model as proof of how the Universe works. In truth, the paper cited is nothing more than a study of a computer program, and has nothing to do with the physical reality of how Earth's climate functions. (Doug L. Hoffman, The Resilient Earth)

Global Warming Causing Carbon Dioxide Increases: A Simple Model - Global warming theory assumes that the increasing carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere comes entirely from anthropogenic sources, and it is that CO2 increase which is causing global warming.

But it is indisputable that the amount of extra CO2 showing up at the monitoring station at Mauna Loa, Hawaii each year (first graph below) is strongly affected by sea surface temperature (SST) variations (second graph below), which are in turn mostly a function of El Nino and La Nina conditions (third graph below): (Roy W. Spencer)


A tax by any other name is just as odious: Buzzwords: Rephrasing Obama's lexicon - Scratch 'cap and trade' and 'global warming,' some Democratic pollsters tell Obama. They're ineffective. Republicans are also rethinking how to use words to their advantage.

In the debate over his top environmental goals, President Obama is backing away from "cap and trade."

Not the policy. It's the phrase itself, deemed confusing by Democratic pollsters, that has all but disappeared from the president's vocabulary of late.

Now when Obama talks about forcing companies to bid at auction for the right to emit greenhouse gases, he is more apt to mention "market-based" proposals and "clean energy jobs," hinting at a rich new employment source.

Control the language, politicians know, and you stand a better chance of controlling the debate. So the Obama administration, in its push to enact sweeping energy and healthcare policies, has begun refining the phrases it uses in an effort to shape public opinion.

Words that have been vetted in focus groups and polls are seeping into the White House lexicon, while others considered too scary or confounding are falling away. (Los Angeles Times)

House Dems edge closer to consensus on climate and energy bill - House Democrats are within sight of an agreement on key pieces of a major energy and climate change bill as the Memorial Day deadline for an Energy and Commerce Committee markup draws near.

Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) is trying to produce a draft of the legislation this week, and Democratic aides said Friday that the first of several consensus points may be unveiled as early as today. But they also urged caution considering several false alarms late last week when similar deals appeared imminent.

"We're moving well, making a lot of progress on these issues," Waxman said Thursday. "We're getting very, very close."

Although Waxman has pledged to stick to the Memorial Day deadline, it is unclear when he intends to begin a markup, let alone if he will maintain his intention of skipping the Energy and Environment Subcommittee and proceed directly to the full 59-member panel. (ClimateWire)

Editorial: Cap-and-trade stumbling in D.C. - Giant carbon tax plan to reduce global warming chills even some Democrats.

Democratic dissention, Republican opposition and growing public skepticism may derail Congress' potentially economy-crippling carbon cap-and-trade bill, perhaps saving Americans billions of dollars. (Orange County Register)

Which Big Corporations Are Working With Democrats To Pass Anti-Consumer, Gigantic Global Warming Tax? - Multiple large corporations are now working with Obama and Democrats to pass the infamous 'cap & trade' legislation, which will result in the the consumer and small businesses absorbing the trillions of dollars of direct/indirect costs it will generate. These big corporations are working behind the scenes for their own benefit, without regard to their customers or suppliers. (C3 Headlines)

Congress Pushes Cap and Trade, But Just 24% Know What It Is - The gap between Capitol Hill and Main Street is huge when it comes to the so-called "cap-and-trade" legislation being considered in Congress. So wide, in fact, that few voters even know what the proposed legislation is all about.

Given a choice of three options, just 24% of voters can correctly identify the cap-and-trade proposal as something that deals with environmental issues. A slightly higher number (29%) believe the proposal has something to do with regulating Wall Street while 17% think the term applies to health care reform. A plurality (30%) have no idea. (Rasmussen Reports)

Obama Budget Projects $624 Billion In Climate-Change Revenues - WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration projected on Monday in a detailed version of its fiscal 2010 budget proposal that a law to combat climate change would raise $624 billion over 10 years.

The White House said that most of the money - about $504 billion - would be used to make permanent a tax credit that provides working individuals as much as $400 and working families as much as $800. The tax credit was put into place earlier this year as part of an economic stimulus package, and starts to phase out when individual income reaches $75,000 or at $150,000 for married couples.

About $120 billion - or $15 billion a year - would be used to fund investments in clean energy research, development, adaptation and climate science, beginning in fiscal 2012. Any additional money raised beyond the $624 billion would be used to compensate vulnerable households communities, and businesses for increased energy costs, the administration said. (Dow Jones)

Nader on Energy, CO2 and Sustainability - Ralph Nader, the unflagging corporate gadfly, perennial presidential candidate, and long-time advocate for environmental and consumer protections, was a driving force behind the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the passage of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.

Green Inc. caught up with Mr. Nader recently to ask him about some of the most pressing environmental questions of the day — from carbon taxes and cap-and-trade programs to renewable energy and nuclear power — as well as his impressions of the Obama administration’s approach to these issues in its first 100 days. (Jared Flesher, Green Inc.)

Quebec to play tough with carbon emissions - Aims to introduce cap-and-trade system

Quebec is poised to become the first jurisdiction in North America to enforce a cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions with the tabling of a new bill Tuesday.

If adopted into law, the proposals could become the template used by the rest of Canada and even the United States, environmental experts said. (René Bruemmer, Montreal Gazette)

Climate change sinks out of sight as B.C. election sputters to close - When it comes to climate change, scientists are loud and clear: drastic action is needed now if we are to curb global warning. Politicians, on the other hand, have dithered to the point where it is almost impossible to know where any of them stand.

A perfect example is the B.C. election campaign, which is now sputtering to a close (voting day is Tuesday). The NDP started off with a promise to "axe the tax" -- a reference to rolling back the carbon tax introduced by the Liberals. (Kamloops Daily News)

Global warming alarmism vs. realism - What we like most about global warming alarmism is how it resembles 1950s Sci-Fi B-movies. Think Al Gore and Plan 9 from Outer Space, for example. (Mark Landsbaum, Orange Punch)

Earth likely to disappear in two centuries, warn experts - If the phenomenon of global warming is allowed to continue at the current rate, the human race is likely to be wiped out in about two centuries by disaster if not earlier by a nuclear war, Professor Syed Amir Ahmed Kazmi, former Director General, Pakistan Meteorological Services told The News.

Prof. Kazmi’s theory based on thorough research has been seconded by the renowned British Scientist Dr Stephen Hawking, who advised developed nations while addressing a press briefing in London in 2006 that “they should, within the next 50 years select a suitable planet or star for settlement of the next human race. USA has already taken initiative in this direction. The Kepler Telescope recently launched by National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) for a three-year period is meant to find a similar Earth-like planet in the Milky Way Galaxy with the right temperature and water for the survival of life.” (Perwez Abdullah, The News)

Late-breaking reports suggests Earth not disappearing, just overuse of really big Klingon cloaking device.

Nats will say no to emissions schemes - THE Nationals remain totally opposed to an emissions trading scheme (ETS) even though its Coalition partner says it'll consider supporting the federal Government's plan when it comes up in the Senate.

Nationals leader in the Senate Barnaby Joyce confirmed the party's stand on the ETS in an address to the National Press Club in Canberra today.

"The National party has stated its position. If you go forward with the emissions trading scheme that they've just put forward, the answer's no."

Senator Joyce said the Nationals would not support an ETS in any form. (AAP)

Agro-Forestry Study May Open Carbon Market To Poor - NAIROBI - International researchers launched a $12 million study on Monday intended to help many of the world's poorest farmers benefit from multi-billion dollar schemes to limit emissions of greenhouse gases.

The 18-month Carbon Benefits Project will examine rural sites in Kenya, Niger, Nigeria and China to see how much carbon is stored in trees and soil when land is managed sustainably. (Reuters)

Green hysteria kills rainforests: 'Green' power plants may burn palm oil - Use of fuel blamed for destruction of rainforest in South-east Asia

The operators of Britain's first "biofuel" power plants are considering burning palm oil, which is blamed for causing rainforest destruction in south-east Asia.

At least four new power stations are being planned around the UK to burn vegetable oils with the assurance that they will generate less pollution than burning climate-change-causing fossil fuels. Two that would power more than 50,000 homes, at Portland in Dorset and Newport in South Wales, are considering using palm oil. (The Independent)

In German Suburb, Life Goes on Without Cars - VAUBAN, Germany — Residents of this upscale community are suburban pioneers, going where few soccer moms or commuting executives have ever gone before: they have given up their cars.

Street parking, driveways and home garages are generally forbidden in this experimental new district on the outskirts of Freiburg, near the French and Swiss borders. Vauban’s streets are completely “car-free” — except the main thoroughfare, where the tram to downtown Freiburg runs, and a few streets on one edge of the community. Car ownership is allowed, but there are only two places to park — large garages at the edge of the development, where a car-owner buys a space, for $40,000, along with a home.

As a result, 70 percent of Vauban’s families do not own cars, and 57 percent sold a car to move here. “When I had a car I was always tense. I’m much happier this way,” said Heidrun Walter, a media trainer and mother of two, as she walked verdant streets where the swish of bicycles and the chatter of wandering children drown out the occasional distant motor. (New York Times)

That's their problem, don't try and make it ours.

Not convinced this has been thought through: US Southern Senators On The Fence On Fuel Reserve - WASHINGTON - Drivers in the US Southeast could get relief at the pump thanks to a proposed government-owned stockpile of gasoline to offset major supply disruptions, but lawmakers from those states have yet to back the legislation that would create the emergency fuel reserve.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday to review the bill, which would require the Energy Department to establish 30 million barrels of petroleum product reserves, such as gasoline and diesel fuel.

The panel's chairman, Democrat Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, introduced the legislation to help prevent the kind of gasoline supply problems and surge in pump prices that occurred in several southern states last year when hurricanes Gustav and Ike interrupted the fuel chain. (Reuters)

UK Files Claim To Seabed Around The Falklands - LONDON - Britain lodged a claim to a large swath of South Atlantic seabed around the Falkland Islands on Monday, setting the stage for a battle with Argentina for control of potentially rich oil and gas reserves in the area. (Reuters)

ANALYSIS - Venezuela Oil Service Grab Risks Output Slump - CARACAS - Leftist President Hugo Chavez's abrupt takeover of Venezuelan oil service companies risks reducing the OPEC nation's crude output by spooking investors and weakening crucial oilfield operations.

Last week's nationalization of foreign assets and a swath of small local companies puts state oil company PDVSA in charge of a range of key services as it is struggling to cope with low oil prices and growing debts with contractors.

The move may increase the perception that Venezuela is a risky place to invest as the nation seeks billions of dollars from private companies to develop new projects after a decade of underinvestment that has left oil output in a slump.

"In the long run, I think this will hurt Venezuela because some service companies may stay out of the country," said Roger Tissot, a consultant with Gas Energy Latin America. (Reuters)

Global warming policies make it harder on soybean farmers - WASHINGTON — Soybean growers are worried that the Obama administration's latest effort to control global warming could threaten the Midwest's biodiesel industry.

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed new rules that would factor in damage that American soybean production can inflict in faraway lands like Brazil, Malaysia and Indonesia. (Bill Lambrecht, St Louis Post-Dispatch)

ASA refutes EPA's land use rules - The American Soybean Association (ASA) has submitted comments to the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research regarding the impact of the indirect land use and renewable biomass provisions in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) expanded Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS-2).

ASA sees numerous potential flaws in the approach EPA is using for indirect land use changes in its proposed rule. Further, there are numerous factors that ASA believes refute the possibility that significant international indirect land use change would result from the relatively small increase in U.S. biodiesel production called for under the RFS-2. (Farm Press)

Every house to have smart meter under £9bn scheme - Every house in the country will have a smart energy meter installed over the next decade in a bid to save consumers at least £100 million a year, the Government will promise.

The ambitious scheme to be announced on Monday will cost up to £9 billion – £340 for every household – but both the Department for Energy & Climate Change and the energy companies insist consumers will immediately save money.

Smart meters are intelligent electronic electricity and gas readers. They will send accurate information to the energy companies about a household's consumption, scrapping the need for someone to come and check the meter.

As well as the meter under the stairs, householders will have a small screen – the size of a small paperback – which they can keep in the kitchen, or sitting room. This will allow companies to send messages to families about their bills, special offers or warnings about when their energy usages is unusually high. (Daily Telegraph)

May 11, 2009

Swine flu threat fades - for now - Almost as quickly as it appeared, swine flu has faded as a public health threat - for now. But that could change by winter.

Public health experts say the virus has a chance of returning in a new and more dangerous form when the influenza season picks up again in late November, and are deciding now how to protect people worldwide.

They are preparing even as an increasing number of infectious disease experts are saying that the swine flu does not show signs of reappearing in a more virulent form next winter. It could even disappear altogether or more likely, come back and join the other strains of usually mild flu that typically circulate among humans each winter, they say. (SF Chronicle)

Swine Flu Virus Lacks Killer Traits of 1918 Pandemic, Bird Flu -- The swine flu virus so far lacks the killer traits of the 1918 Spanish pandemic or the bird flu fatal to half those it infects, American scientists said.

The genetic blueprint of the new H1N1 virus sweeping the globe is “good news,” Anne Schuchat, interim deputy director for science and public health of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said today. Swine flu, now in 29 countries, may yet exchange genetic material with other viruses and mutate into something worse, Schuchat told reporters in a conference call from Atlanta.

As swine flu spreads, its symptoms have been less severe than Mexico’s first fatalities suggested. That could change, Schuchat said. How the virus behaves as the Southern Hemisphere flu season begins, and whether it comes roaring back in the U.S. in a nastier form later, depends in part on whether its traits hold steady, mutate, or mingle with the deadly H5N1 bird flu circulating in Asia, Schuchat said.

“The good news so far is that the virulence markers for the 1918 and H5N1 influenza viruses do not appear in the H1N1 strain,” Schuchat said. “What we don’t know is whether there may be other virulence markers. Remember the first wave of the 1918 virus was mild and the next wave was devastating.” (Bloomberg)

Other Illness May Precede Worst Cases of Swine Flu - Underlying conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease or tuberculosis appear to put swine flu victims at greater risk of hospitalization or death, doctors from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

Health officials emphasized that the observations were preliminary and based on discussion of only about 40 deaths in Mexico and half of the 57 hospitalizations in the United States. But a few trends have begun to emerge.

Some of the serious cases involve healthy young people, and the reasons for that are still unexplained. Many of the patients went into rapid decline and died of viral pneumonia, not bacterial pneumonia, said Dr. Sylvie Briand, a W.H.O. flu expert. Viral pneumonia may be a result of the “cytokine storm,” in which the body’s own immune reaction to a new virus floods the lungs with fluid. It can progress faster and be harder to treat than bacterial pneumonia. (New York Times)

Georgia lawmakers: Don’t waste money on swine flu vaccine - With worries about the H1N1 swine flu virus starting to subside, some in Congress — led by two Georgia lawmakers — are beginning to wonder whether it’s even worth it to develop a vaccine.

Republican U.S. Reps. Phil Gingrey of Marietta and Paul Broun of Athens — both physicians — say it might be a waste of taxpayer money to develop a vaccine, even though experts predict the virus could re-emerge this winter.

Instead, they suggest, the money might be better used on defense spending. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Officials Are Urged to Heed Lessons of 1976 Flu Outbreak - As U.S. health officials consider rolling out a plan to inoculate the nation against swine flu in the next several months, they are haunted by the events that unfolded the last time the government stepped in to head off a surprise flu outbreak.

In the fall of 1976, dozens of Americans died within 48 hours of receiving a swine flu vaccine. To allay the public fears that threatened to unravel the mass inoculation program, President Gerald Ford rolled up his shirtsleeve and received his shot in front of television cameras.

More than 40 million others followed his lead. But two months later, the campaign was abruptly stopped: More deaths had followed, and hundreds were reporting serious side effects, including paralysis.

Already, medical experts and vaccine watchdog groups are urging the Obama administration to apply the lessons learned 33 years ago. In a public statement last week, former health and human services secretary Mike Leavitt recommended that officials study the federal investigation of the 1976 program. Administration officials said they are keenly aware of the history. (Washington Post)

Americans heeding H1N1 advice, poll finds - Americans are taking swine flu worries to heart, a Harvard survey reports today, with two-thirds saying they are washing their hands more than usual and half planning to stay home if they or a family member should fall ill. But a smaller proportion are concerned about catching the virus than last week. (Harvard University)

What swine flu reveals about the culture of fear - As health officials tell us ‘all of humanity is under threat’, Frank Furedi provides a guide to today’s various species of scaremonger.

When Margaret Chan, head of the World Heath Organisation, raised the pandemic threat alert from four to five in response to the swine flu outbreak, she had no qualms about using the language of fear. ‘All of humanity is under threat’, she declared.

When, in the future, historians look back on this performance of fear, and on the swine flu panic more broadly, they will surely ask themselves: was Chan speaking as a public health official or as a moral entrepreneur? It is striking that Chan, like most fear entrepreneurs, does not perceive her behaviour as being in any way illegitimate or unduly alarmist. Indeed, she, like other fearmongers, qualified her warning with a reassuring statement: ‘Don’t panic.’

This combination of fear-promotion with the rhetoric of reassurance is a key aspect of the modern-day narrative of fear. Consider Chan’s warning that WHO is likely to raise its flu alert to the top of its six-point scale and declare a pandemic. This time she did not talk about the threat to ‘all of humanity’ and the danger of human extinction. ‘Level six does not mean, in any way, that we are facing the end of the world’, she said, before noting that ‘it is important to make this clear because [otherwise], when we announce level six, it will cause unnecessary panic’. (Frank Furedi, sp!ked)

Swine flu misperceptions hurting Wisconsin pork producers - Wisconsin pig farmers are taking it on the chops as swine flu is wrongly associated with pork products.

Since the outbreak, at least 16 countries have imposed bans or import restrictions on pork or pork products.

Demand has plummeted, and prices that already were low have fallen even further. (Journal Sentinel)

Flu? Don't blame the pig - H1N1, the so-called swine flu, probably came together thanks to a few unwitting human jet-setters, scientists say.

It looked like an open-and-shut case.

More than half the genes in the H1N1 virus behind the current flu outbreaks were traced to pigs. The first person known to be sickened with swine flu in Mexico, the outbreak's epicenter, lived near an industrial farm that produces almost a million hogs a year.

The virus was quickly dubbed "swine flu."

Officials in Egypt ordered destruction of all 300,000 of the country's pigs. Afghanistan's one known pig was quarantined. Pork imports were banned by some nations due to unfounded fears that the virus might linger in cooked meat.

But don't turn the pig into a scapegoat.

"The easy way out is to blame the pig," said Robert Webster, a virologist at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and a preeminent expert on influenza.

Though pigs provided a share of the raw material, he and others said, the viral bomb probably couldn't have been assembled without a small cadre of jet-setting humans carrying flu viruses across oceans, unwittingly mixing and matching them -- perhaps inside their own bodies.

"This is a human virus," Webster said. (Los Angeles Times)

Oh... Obesity 'causes 19,000 cancer cases every year' - Almost 19,000 Britons a year develop cancer because they are overweight, researchers say.

The toll is 50 per cent higher than any previous estimate, reflecting the current epidemic of obesity.

Adults are being warned to stay as slim as possible, without being underweight, to minimise their cancer risk. (Daily Mail)

Actually we can make a far stronger association with early death reducing cancer cases. In fact forensic examination of pre-European settlement remains from the Connecticut Valley suggests an average life expectance of about 20 years and almost no cancer! The message is clear, the war against cancer can be won if we just prevent people living so darn long...

Steaming-hot tea linked to throat cancer risk - NEW YORK - Green tea may not offer any protection against throat cancer, a new study suggests, and drinking the beverage piping-hot may actually raise a person's risk of the disease.

A number of studies have linked green tea -- with its high content of antioxidant compounds called cathechins -- to lower risks of certain cancers, including prostate, colon and breast cancers. Some studies have suggested this may hold true when it comes to cancer of the esophagus, but others have found no such benefit.

The new study, of 5,400 Chinese adults with and without esophageal cancer, found no evidence that those who regularly drank green tea had a lower risk of the disease.

There was, however, evidence that drinking tea at a high temperature may actually promote the cancer, the researchers report in the International Journal of Cancer. (Reuters Health)

The faces of child obesity - Australian parents are realizing that they’ve been deluded about an epidemic of childhood obesity. Lesson One — Never forget to ask the most important question of any health statistic: How is it being defined?

It’s easy to lie with statistics, graphs and scary marketing, and even to get people to believe the opposite of reality, such as in an epidemic of obese, unhealthy and sedentary children. As alarming claims are repeated and the most extreme examples are depicted as representative of the crisis, few people stop to question how a statistic is being defined. (Junkfood Science)

Congress Plans Incentives for Healthy Habits - WASHINGTON — In its effort to overhaul health care, Congress is planning to give employers sweeping new authority to reward employees for healthy behavior, including better diet, more exercise, weight loss and smoking cessation.

A web of federal rules limits what employers and insurers can do now.

Congress is seriously considering proposals to provide tax credits or other subsidies to employers who offer wellness programs that meet federal criteria. In addition, lawmakers said they would make it easier for employers to use financial rewards or penalties to promote healthy behavior among employees. (New York Times)

Eye-roller: Junk food children 'eating themselves into an early grave' - British children are 'eating themselves into an early grave', a leading obesity expert has warned.

Calling for a 'fat tax' on unhealthy foods, Dr Tim Lobstein said that hundreds of thousands were suffering from liver disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol while still in primary school.

He said a couch potato lifestyle and a growing appetite for junk food meant today's youngsters ran a real risk of being the first generation to die at an earlier age than their parents. (Daily Mail)

School exercise may not keep children fit - AMSTERDAM - Forcing children to exercise during school will do little to tackle childhood obesity, researchers told a conference on Friday.

Their study presented at the European Congress on Obesity suggests that, as with appetite, there may be some form of central control in the brain that controls exercise, they said.

This has implications for policy-makers considering how to tackle childhood obesity because simply scheduling more physical education may not do the trick, Alissa Fremeaux, of Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry in Britain said. (Reuters)

Study blames over-eating, not poor exercise for US obesity - AMSTERDAM — Over-eating, not a lack of exercise, is to blame for the American obesity epidemic, a new study claimed Friday, warning that physical activity could not fully compensate for excess calories.

"There is no evidence that a marked reduction in physical activity has been a contributor to this epidemic in the United States," study leader Boyd Swinburn told AFP on the sidelines of an international obesity conference in Amsterdam, where the research was unveiled.

"The increase in energy intake... virtually explained all of the weight gain." (AFP)

Innocence lost — health messages are not always healthful - The current focus on teaching children “healthy” eating is popularly believed to be so healthful, helpful and necessary, that confirmation bias cannot let us see the evidence that it isn’t. A major 3-year study found disturbing clinical evidence that children are being harmed by such initiatives… children as young as five. Yet, not only has the media not widely report this important study, even its authors missed the biggest story in its findings. (Junkfood Science)

Eat Quickly, for the Economy’s Sake - IF you eat rapidly, will your economy grow the same way?

Unlikely as it may seem, data released this week seems to indicate that the answer is yes. The relationship is not perfect, but it is persistent.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which includes leading developed countries, released a study about the living conditions of its members. The data included survey results in 17 of the countries regarding the amount of time each day people spent eating and drinking.

To no one’s surprise, France followed the most leisurely schedule of dining; those surveyed reported they spent an average of 135 minutes each day. The fastest eaters were in North America; the United States, Canada and Mexico were the only three nations to report fewer than 75 minutes a day devoted to eating and drinking.

As the accompanying chart shows, the 10 countries where people spend less than 100 minutes eating and drinking each day have, as a group, consistently shown higher economic growth than those that took more than 100 minutes to savor their daily repasts. (New York Times)

No surprise here: Shane Fitzgerald's Wikipedia hoax dupes newspapers - "WHEN I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head," Oscar-winning French composer Maurice Jarre once said, according to several newspapers reporting his death in March.

However, the quotation wasn't real. It was invented by an Irish student who posted it on Wikipedia in a hoax designed to show the dangers of relying too heavily on the web for information.

Shane Fitzgerald made up quotes and entered them on Wikipedia – an encyclopedia edited by users – immediately after Jarre's death was reported on March 30.

The 22-year-old sociology and economics student at University College Dublin said he had expected blogs and perhaps small newspapers to use the quotes, but did not believe major publications would rely on Wikipedia without further checks.

"I was wrong. Quality newspapers in England, India, America and as far away as Australia had my words in their reports of Jarre's death," Mr Fitzgerald wrote in an article in the Irish Times newspaper this week.

Britain's Guardian was one title that had to correct its obituary, saying the fake quotes appeared to have originated on Wikipedia before being duplicated on other websites.

"The moral of this story is not that journalists should avoid Wikipedia, but that they shouldn't use information they find there if it can't be traced back to a reliable primary source," said Guardian readers' editor Siobhain Butterworth.

The quote has since been removed from Jarre's Wikipedia entry. (

Bottom line is pretty much: "if it's Wiki, it's worthless" -- just don't do it.

Chemical Company Is Acquitted in Asbestos Case - A federal court jury on Friday acquitted the big chemical products company W. R. Grace and three of its former executives on all charges that they had knowingly contaminated the small Montana mining town of Libby with asbestos, then conspired to cover up the deed.

At least 200 people have died of asbestos-related diseases and hundreds more have been sickened in Libby, population about 2,600. And there is no doubt that the Zonolite Mountain vermiculite mine, owned and operated by Grace from 1963 to 1990, was the source of the asbestos.

But the jury in Federal District Court in Missoula, deliberating for less than two days after a nearly three-month trial, unanimously concluded that the contamination was not criminal.

The verdict was a repudiation of the federal government’s case, which portrayed Grace as a greedy mine operator, aware of the dangers created by its mining operations and then callously, criminally covering up its crime. (New York Times)

Lawyer faces contempt charges in pesticide case against Dole - A judge orders a hearing for Juan J. Dominguez after Nicaraguan plaintiffs testify that they were recruited and promised lavish payouts to pose as victimized banana farmers. (LA Times)

Misanthropists are relentless: Nine dangerous chemicals added to global banned list - GENEVA, May 9 - Nine dangerous chemicals used in farming and industry will be added to a list of banned substances whose presence in the environment causes serious health risks, more than 160 government agreed on Saturday.

The nine pesticides and industrial chemicals join 12 substances targeted for elimination under the 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

Trade in some of the chemicals can amount to billions of dollars a year, but countries at the United Nations conference agreed they are so dangerous that alternatives must be found. (Reuters)

A whole lot of angst and expense over nothing: Costly Superfund dredging set for Hudson River - SARATOGA, N.Y. — People look funny at David Mathis when he takes a dip off his dock in the Hudson River. Health officials have long warned people not to eat fish caught from this slow-flowing stretch south of the Adirondacks and swimming here is unthinkable to many.

The reason: tons of oily PCBs — probable carcinogens — have been packed in with the river mud so heavily that the federal government named the river a Superfund site in 1984. Environmentalists and local residents like Mathis say the only way to rid the river of PCBs is to dredge out 1.8 million cubic yards of contaminated mud — a job that could take six years and cost far more than $100 million a year. Opponents along the river are just as adamant that the river is cleaning itself and that dredging will be a gigantic folly.

The argument has gone on for a generation. (AP)

On guns and climate, the elites are out of touch - Many years ago political scientists came up with a theory that elites lead public opinion. And on some issues they clearly do. But on some issues they don’t. Two examples of the latter phenomenon are conspicuous at a time when Barack Obama enjoys the approval of more than 60 percent of Americans and Democrats have won thumping majorities in two elections in a row. One is global warming.

The other is gun control. On both issues, the elites of academe, the media and big business have been solidly on one side for years. But on both, the American public has been moving in the other direction. (Michael Barone, Washington Examiner)

Missed this last week: No natives allowed - Over the last century, the conservation movement has created some beautiful parks - and millions of refugees.

LAFAYETTE BUNNELL, AMERICAN explorer and wilderness romantic, first rode into the bucolic stillness of Yosemite on March 21, 1851. He was on a voyage of discovery. Once in the valley he thought he had arrived, if not in heaven, in Eden. "I have seen the power and glory of a supreme being," he wrote in his journal, and "the majesty of his handiwork."

Bunnell's attitude toward the people who actually lived in the valley was decidedly more ambiguous. At times he romanticized the lifeways of the Miwoks who had settled there some 4,000 years earlier. But he also said there was no room for them in the West, calling them "yelling demons" and "overgrown vicious children." The whole territory, he wrote, should be "swept of any scattered bands that might infest it."

Accompanying him that day was one of the most ferocious militias in western American history, the Mariposa Battalion, commanded by James Savage. A veteran of Indian wars, Savage was there with one blunt aim: to rid Yosemite of its natives. Bunnell, who is remembered today largely for his lyrical prose about nature, stood by and watched while Savage and his men burned acorn caches to starve the Miwok out of the valley. Seventy were physically removed. Twenty-three were later slaughtered at the foot of El Capitan, the towering granite obelisk that has become a totem of California wilderness. Although it took some years to complete the task of creating a fictional wilderness in Yosemite, all the valley's residents were eventually evicted, and in 1914 their land became a national park - no natives welcome.

This tactic became known as "the Yosemite model" and was replicated around the country, and eventually around the world. At most of the major parks created in America - Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Mount Rainier, Zion, Glacier, Everglades, and Olympic - thousands of tribal people were expelled from their homes and hunting grounds so the new parks could remain in an undisturbed "state of nature." In the century that followed, millions of tribal natives around the world were forcibly evicted from wildlife reserves and national parks such as the Royal National Park of Australia, Banff in Canada, and Tongariro in New Zealand. In East Africa, the Serengeti and Amboseli National Parks were formed this way; on the border of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest of Kenya, Batwa pygmy refugees still camp in hovels hoping one day to return to their forest homeland.

Refugees from conservation have never been counted; in fact they're not even officially recognized as refugees. But the number of people displaced from traditional homelands worldwide over the past century, in the interest of conservation, is estimated to be close to 20 million, 14 million in Africa alone. It is a sad history, and one that has forced conservationists to reevaluate the hero status of their movement's founders, and to reconsider the idea of protecting biological diversity by removing humans from the mix. (Mark Dowie, Boston Globe)

But this is a good time to run it. Compare the real human cost -- actual environmental refugees -- with the barking moonbat claims below of tectonic motion-caused island subsidence and relocation of residents mislabeled as "global warming" refugees.

Misanthropists win way too often: FNC: Drought-Stricken Farmers Lose Fight for Water to Endangered Fish - On Friday’s Hannity show on FNC, correspondent Ainsley Earhardt filed an in depth report on the plight of farmers in California who are starving for water, exacerbated by a federal court which ordered that one of their sources of water be shut down due to fears that irrigation would harm an endangered species of fish, the delta smelt. Earhardt began: "California's Central Valley is considered by many to be the richest and most productive farmland in the nation. But this land is being threatened by the small, harmless-looking minnow called the delta smelt. Recently, it has landed on the endangered species list, causing a federal court to shut down vital pumps to farmers to help preserve it."

A shot was soon shown of Earhardt walking on dry ground that used to be a canal full of water until environmentalists convinced a federal court to shut off the water supply: "This was a canal full of gushing water irrigating the farmland here in the San Joaquin Valley. But as you can see, it is all dried up. The pumps were turned off after environmentalists won a federal court case." (Brad Wilmouth, NewsBusters)

We're Wasting Riches Others Earned For Us - Today's Americans inherited the wealthiest nation in history — but only because earlier generations learned how to feed, fuel, finance and defend themselves in ways unrivaled elsewhere.

Lately we have forgotten that and instead seem to expect others to do for us what we used to do ourselves.

Take our plentiful, cheap and safe food supply. Long ago, Americans struggled to create farmland out of swamp, forests and deserts, and built dams and canals for irrigation to make possible the world's most diverse and inexpensive agriculture.

Now in California — the nation's richest farm state — the population is skyrocketing toward 40 million. Yet hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland this year are going out of production, and with them thousands of jobs.

Why? In times of chronic water shortages, environmentalists have sued to stop irrigation deliveries in order to save threatened two-inch-long delta fish that need infusions of fresh water diverted from agricultural use. And for environmental and financial reasons, we long ago stopped building canals and dams in the Sierra Nevada to find sources of replacement irrigation water.

So farmers are asked to produce more food for more people in a desert climate with less water — while environmentalists dream of returning to a pristine 19th-century, sparsely populated California of smelt and salmon in their inland rivers.

The result will be more imported food from less environmentally sound farms abroad. (IBD)

The “precarious state of the U.S. polar bear population” - Today’s MSM is woefully inept at catching mistakes. Worse, reporters are often woefully inadequate at getting facts straight in the first place. And, with instant electronic distribution, it is much like the imaginary Roman vomitorium; eat, regurgitate, rinse, and repeat.

Yesterday’s LA Times story on the Obama administration deciding not to use polar bears as a global warming tool that we covered on WUWT had this howler:

“…the precarious state of the U.S. polar bear population…”. (Watts Up With That?)

Green leek parrot endangers 1000 jobs in NSW - A PARROT is about to cost 1000 workers their jobs because the Federal Government has ordered a timber industry to be shut down to protect the bird.

The unprecedented government intervention will see the jobs cut within days.

The Daily Telegraph has learned Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett's department issued a stop-work order to the New South Wales Government 10 days ago, a move the industry claims could wipe out the entire town of Deniliquin in the state's south.

The Opposition says the move is overkill and has branded Mr Garrett a "warbling twit".

"There are a lot of them out there," Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt said of the parrots.

"As one person put it to me this morning, you've got the warbling twit protecting the green leak parrot but sacrificing 1000 jobs." (

Our would-be world masters are getting anxious: UN summit must send 'strong signal' to climate change negotiators – Danish official - 6 May 2009 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon must ensure that a high-level summit slated for September send a "very clear and strong signal" to negotiators aiming to reach a new United Nations climate change deal in Copenhagen this December, a top Danish official said today.

The 22 September meeting is being convened by Mr. Ban – who has deemed 2009 the "year of climate change" – ahead of a UN conference in the Danish capital during which countries will seek to agree on a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions, whose commitment period ends in 2012.

September's high-level summit is a time for political leaders "to be forced into the crunch issues" of climate change, namely financing for adaptation and mitigation strategies, Connie Hedegaard, Minister for Climate and Energy of Denmark, told a news conference in New York.

The meeting is the "last chance" for political leaders to push for unity in Copenhagen, thus setting the cue for negotiators in December, she added. (United Nations)

Another one: Countdown to Copenhagen: Canada Must Step Up - December 2007, the UN climate conference in Bali, Indonesia launched make-or-break negotiations on stepping up the fight against global warming. These negotiations are scheduled to wrap up in December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark, where governments have agreed to hammer out a final deal.

The “Bali Roadmap”

The Kyoto Protocol is the global climate agreement that requires industrialized countries to make an initial round of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission cuts from 2008–2012. Now, guided by a “roadmap” from the Bali conference, countries are negotiating “Kyoto II” [PDF]. In Bali, governments agreed that Kyoto II must be guided by scientific analysis of the deeper emission reductions needed to avoid dangerous climate change. They reiterated this commitment at the December 2008 climate meetings in Poznan, Poland.

Copenhagen: A fork in the road

Climate science tells us that, to avoid an unacceptable amount of global warming, the world’s GHG emissions must peak in just a few years — by 2020 at the latest. The new agreement to be reached at the Copenhagen conference, Kyoto II, will likely last until 2020. So the world’s fight against catastrophic warming could be won or lost based on the outcome in Copenhagen.

The building blocks of a strong Kyoto II have already been identified [PDF], and there are reasons to be optimistic about a successful outcome in Copenhagen. For example, at the Bali conference, key developing countries showed a willingness to take on new commitments after 2012. Unfortunately, the federal government’s current GHG targets and policies do not represent a fair share of the global effort ― and this increases the risk of failure in Copenhagen.


As the clock ticks down to Copenhagen, Canada has a shrinking window of opportunity to move from laggard to leader. The stakes have never been higher, and the costs of failure are all but unthinkable. (Pembina)

Oh, and they want your money, too: Money from richer countries may be the key to Copenhagen climate talks, Danish minister says - NEW YORK -- Developed countries must be able to deliver new and innovative financing alternatives for adaptation and greenhouse gas mitigation to the developing world if there's any hope that the conclusion of international climate change negotiations in Copenhagen this year will succeed, Denmark's climate and energy minister said yesterday.

Chatting with reporters during a break from her visit to New York for meetings with U.S. and U.N. leaders, Connie Hedegaard, Denmark's minister for climate and energy, said the key to a successful outcome at Copenhagen is to bridge the gap between the developed and developing world. That means committing to new financing structures to entice developing countries to make their own contributions.

"We must have truly additional financing on the table very soon," Hedegaard said. (ClimateWire)

Climate change: The elements conspire against the warmists - An international team of scientists has used the latest electro-magnetic induction equipment to discover that the Arctic ice is in fact "twice as thick" as they had expected, says Christopher Booker.

As the clock ticks down towards December's historic UN Copenhagen conference on climate change, the frenzied efforts of the warmists to panic us over all that vanishing Arctic and Antarctic ice are degenerating into farce. (Daily Telegraph)

NOAA: April Temperatures Slightly Cooler Than Average for U.S. - The April 2009 temperature for the contiguous United States was below the long-term average, based on records going back to 1895, according to an analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, NC.

The average April temperature of 51.2 degrees F was 0.8 degree F below the 20th Century average. Precipitation across the contiguous United States in April averaged 2.62 inches, which is 0.19 inch above the 1901-2000 average. (NOAA)

Blair: US-China deal key to climate change accord - THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The key to a new global climate change agreement will be a deal between the United States and China, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Friday.

Blair also said climate change negotiators must find a way to integrate the United States, which has fallen far behind on controlling greenhouse gas emissions, into an agreement with Europe and other wealthy countries that have been working to reduce pollution for years.

An accord regulating the emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants is due to be concluded at a meeting of 190 nations in December in Copenhagen, Denmark. (AP)

BARTON: Sending us back to 1875 - The war against global warming evidently starts at home, where President Obama says the price of electricity will "necessarily skyrocket" when the government caps carbon dioxide and issues emissions permits that utilities can buy and sell to one another.

The president and his allies have decided that man-made carbon dioxide is a witch's brew that's killing the planet, and they think that just because the cap-and-trade cure stings doesn't mean we shouldn't have to swallow it.

Their solution is embodied in the momentarily stuck Henry A. Waxman-Edward J. Markey global warming legislation, the goal of which is to banish one of the world's most ubiquitous elements from our lives. Its proponents call it "back to the future." They're not kidding, either.

Nobody understands exactly what the legislation means in dollars and cents - more on this later - but to experience how it would feel to lower your personal carbon footprint to the size this bill proposes, set the flux capacitor to 1875. That's the last time Americans' carbon emissions matched the goals set by the Waxman-Markey legislation.

What, the old DeLorean is up on cinder blocks in the front yard again? In that case you can test drive Waxman-Markey by sailing down to Haiti, because current CO2 emissions are where Waxman-Markey wants America's to be in 2050. Radical environmentalists think such a CO2 level will be heaven on Earth, but the place that has actually achieved it is a nation swimming in bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, typhoid fever, dengue fever and malaria, with 47 percent illiteracy and a life expectancy of 49 years. So excuse me if I remain unconvinced. (Joe L. Barton, Washington Times)

U.S. greens worry for B.C.'s carbon tax - U.S. environmentalists will closely watch B.C.'s election results Tuesday to track the fate of the continent's first carbon tax.

As with many B.C. green groups that back the Liberal-imposed carbon tax and have criticized NDP opposition to it, there's a sense south of the border the policy measure may become politically toxic if the Campbell government falls.

The Seattle-based Sightline Institute recently called the tax one of the best climate control policies in the world and said New Democrats have "systematically misrepresented the facts" by claiming it increases taxes for the average B.C. family and won't work to cut greenhouse gas emissions. (Surrey Leader)

The Crone: The Climate Debate Heats Up - Earlier this week, and not a moment too soon, President Obama put the weight of his office behind a bill that aims to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, tackle the rise in greenhouse gases and create millions of clean-energy jobs.

The bill has been stuck in a House committee: uniformly opposed by Republicans; feared by rust-belt Democrats who think it will hurt manufacturers; regarded with suspicion by some environmentalists who think it offers too many escape hatches.

Mr. Obama told Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee to work out a consensus, which they must do. Though flawed, the bill is an honorable start on a problem too long neglected. Fix it, but get on with it, in the certain knowledge that failure to act would almost certainly doom comprehensive climate change legislation for this year and, probably, for this Congress. (New York Times)

Waxman buys time with pledge to produce climate bill next week - Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) bought himself a little bit more time yesterday to produce a consensus on global warming and energy legislation amid a vocal uprising from within his party's moderate ranks to turn the Energy and Commerce Committee's attention over to health care.

Waxman pledged to produce a new version of draft legislation next week while again promising to pass the bill out of the full committee before the Memorial Day recess.

"We're moving well, making a lot of progress on these issues," Waxman said. "We're getting very, very close."

The chairman's optimistic tone came amid another busy day of closed-door talks with a cadre of moderate committee members who are seeking changes to the 648-page draft climate and energy bill.

Several lawmakers involved in those negotiations stayed away from specifics while still reporting progress. "I've seen numbers," said Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.). "I can't confirm what they are. But it's movement in the right direction."

Even as he works behind the scenes to produce a bill, Waxman faces some growing sentiment from within to put global warming legislation on the backburner. On Wednesday, House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) threatened to turn his anger against an U.S. EPA biofuels proposal into an all-out farm state revolt against cap-and-trade legislation.

Others have followed. (ClimateWire)

U.S. climate bill unlikely to pass this year: experts - NEW YORK - U.S. climate change legislation is unlikely to pass this year due to concerns about the recession and contention over the implementation of the program, according to energy and carbon market experts.

The current cap-and-trade proposal, introduced by U.S. Representatives Henry Waxman and Edward Markey, would cap carbon emissions and require industry to pay for every ton of greenhouse gases.

"I think there might be a window (for it to pass) in the last quarter of the year, first quarter of next year when the economy improves and people can relax a little bit and focus on other things," said Veronique Bugnion, managing director of Trading Analytics and Research at Point Carbon. (Reuters)

Obama Budget Sticks To Auctioning All CO2 Permits - WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama's $3.55 trillion budget, released on Thursday, retains his plan to cut climate-warming carbon dioxide emissions by auctioning off 100 percent of emission permits to industries.

That is at odds with some in Congress, including members of Obama's own Democratic Party, who are pushing for 50 percent or more of those emissions to be given away in the early stages of the plan to ease the transition to a lower-carbon economy.

Opponents fear that charging companies for the carbon they emit would put unnecessary pressure on an already struggling economy. (Reuters)

CO2 And You - While a bill that's intended to cut carbon dioxide emissions wends its way through Congress, an arm of the legislative branch is warning that doing so will have nasty economic consequences.

IBD Exclusive Series: The High Costs Of Carbon Caps

Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, told members of the Senate Finance Committee Thursday that "Under a cap-and-trade program, consumers" — not demonized corporations, we might add — "would ultimately bear most of the costs of emission reductions."

This is because industry and other groups (hospitals, schools, any institution that discharges carbon), forced under a federal cap-and-trade regime to buy government permits to release CO2, would pass on their costs to consumers.

Cutting carbon emissions by 15% through this method would cost each American household an average of $1,600 a year, the CBO found. In a worst-case scenario, the cost is $2,200 per household.

Current House legislation would carry even heavier economic penalties than the CBO's model suggests. (IBD)

GOP concerns about climate regs ensnare air nominee - A Republican senator blasted President Obama's nominee to lead U.S. EPA's air office yesterday for failing to outline a clear path for protecting small businesses from climate regulations under the Clean Air Act.

Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming has placed a "hold" on the nomination of Gina McCarthy to lead EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, saying the agency's proposed finding that greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare would lead to costly regulations of small sources.

EPA lawyers and environmental groups insist that any new rules would be flexible enough to avoid regulating emissions from small sources like hospitals and commercial buildings. But Barrasso and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce say environmental groups will likely sue EPA, pushing the agency to regulate the smallest sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

"Special interest groups are scheming to sue the EPA to prosecute hospitals, farms, nursing homes, commercial buildings and any other small emitter of greenhouse gases," Barrasso said in a statement. "These regulations are a dangerous loose cannon in the wrong hands." (Greenwire)

Another eye-roller: New Bill to Fund Climate Change and Public Health Preparedness Praised by Environmental and Health Groups - Legislation will support research, surveillance, planning and interagency coordination

WASHINGTON, May 8 -- Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Trust for America's Health (TFAH), and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) praised legislation introduced late yesterday to improve the public health response to climate change. The bill is sponsored by the Vice Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health, U.S. Rep. Lois Capps (CA/Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Ventura County), and cosponsored by U.S. Reps. Doris Matsui (CA/Sacramento) and Tammy Baldwin (WI/Madison, Beloit).

The bill introduction follows the official finding in April by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that climate change endangers human health and welfare, and the introduction of draft climate legislation, "The American Clean Energy and Security Act," by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and House Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-MA). Global warming is expected to worsen many health problems, including heat-related illness, diarrheal and other infectious diseases, and respiratory illness associated with ozone and allergens in the air. (PRNewswire-USNewswire)

NEPAL: Experts call for climate change adaptation plans - KATHMANDU, 8 May 2009 - Nepal is one of a number of South Asian countries directly affected by global warming, especially in mountainous regions which have seen rapid glacier melt: Local experts warn that climate change adaptation plans urgently need to be put in place.

Some organisations have been involved in small-scale community activities designed to promote sustainable agriculture, alternative energy and biodiversity conservation, but these are insufficient, they say. (IRIN)

Ward Loses Patience - Among the most absurd elements of climate change debates is the persistence of the issue of ‘funding’. Absurd because at the same time that science is held to give uncorrupted and incorruptible instructions about how to respond to a changing climate, it is also held - by the very same people - to be vulnerable to ‘attack’ and ‘distortion’ by financial interests. This form of argument has been deployed by alarmists to diminish the credibility of anyone challenging the ‘consensus’, whether or not they actually challenge ‘the science’. According to this logic, anybody who has any sympathy with any sort of contrary argument, if they aren’t part of the organised conspiracy to ‘distort the science’, have been brainwashed by it. (Climate Resistance)

No way these stations could measure warming - Meteorologist Anthony Watts has done what the professionals didn’t and checked the reliability of the US weather stations that reported global warming last century. His conclusions are devastating to global warming believers - not least because the US stations are reputedly among the most reliable in the world: (Andrew Bolt Blog)

NOAA: Mild Solar Storm Season Predicted - Although its peak is still four years away, a new active period of Earth-threatening solar storms will be the weakest since 1928, predicts an international panel of experts led by NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center and funded by NASA. Despite the prediction, Earth is still vulnerable to a severe solar storm.

Solar storms are eruptions of energy and matter that escape from the sun and may head toward Earth, where even a weak storm can damage satellites and power grids, disrupting communications, the electric power supply and GPS. A single strong blast of “solar wind” can threaten national security, transportation, financial services and other essential functions.

The panel predicts the upcoming Solar Cycle 24 will peak in May 2013 with 90 sunspots per day on average. If the prediction proves true, Solar Cycle 24 will be the weakest cycle since number 16, which peaked at 78 daily sunspots in 1928, and ninth weakest since the 1750s, when numbered cycles began.

NOAA SWPC Solar Cycle 24 Prediction: “weakest since 1928″ - The new cycle 24 solar forecast is hot off the press from noon today, published at 12:03 PM from the Space Weather Prediction Center. It looks like a peak of 90 spots/month in May of 2013 now. SWPC has dropped their “high forecast” and have gone only with the “low forecast” as you can see in the before and after graphs that I’ve overlaid below. Place your bets on whether that “low forecast” will be an overshooting forecast or not. It has been a lot of work getting this info out as the SWPC has had trouble with their web page today. (Watts Up With That?)

Our Current Minimum is More Maunder than Dalton - Guest Post by David Archibald

This is a plot of three year windows on the Maunder and Dalton Minimum and the current minimum:


What it is showing is how the start of the current minimum compares with the starts of the Maunder and Dalton Minima. The solar cycle minimum at the start of the Dalton was a lot more active than the current one. If you consider that very small spots are being counted now, the activities are very similar. This is how they look without the Dalton:


If you consider the [current sunspot] counting problem, they are actually a pretty good match.

David Archibald (Watts Up With That?)

Paper Titled “Regimes Or Cycles In Tropical Cyclone Activity In The North Atlantic” By Aberson 2009 - The January 2009 issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society had the very informative article Aberson, Sim D.: 2009: Regimes or Cycles in Tropical Cyclone Activity in the North Atlantic. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society Volume 90, Issue 1 (January 2009) pp. 39–43 DOI: 10.1175/2008BAMS2549.1 (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust: theory that Atlantic Ocean is warming due to climate change laid to rest - The North Atlantic is hotting up fast but it's not because of climate change, say scientists in the most recent edition of the journal Science. No, it's because there's less dust around to keep the water cool. (BBC)

The Australian - Michael Ashley reviews Ian Plimer's Heaven + Earth - The Weekend Australian publishes a dismissive review of Ian Plimer's book Heaven and Earth which has all the usual alarmist ingredients, in the following order: (Australian Climate Madness)

About turn! - The Sunday Times has long been the UK ’s main promoter of extreme environmentalism, particularly in extolling evidence of global warming while practising ruthless censorship of any contrary indications. It promotes anything favourable to the religion with complete disregard for contradictions, but this time it has come up with a whopper.

One of the areas of dispute has been the influence of the Urban Heat Island effect. Critics point out that most of the measurements purporting to support the hypothesis of man made global warming are thereby contaminated (see, for example, Watts up with that) while defenders say the effect is small and anyway it has been allowed for.

Wipe the slate clean! The scaremongers at the Met Office (you know, those people who cannot tell us what the weather is going to be in a couple of days time) now say that, because of the threat of the UHI effect coupled with global warming, city dwellers are going to roast.

To summarise, we now know two things about the UHI effect:

(a) It is too small to affect measurements that prove the existence of global warming

(b) It is so large that city dwellers are going to die because of the proven effects of global warming

That’s what we call HYCAEI. (Number Watch)

‘Why Al Gore is too chicken to debate me’ - Christopher Monckton, the Third Viscount of Brenchley and well-known climate change sceptic, tells spiked he was censored by Gore.

Imagine if a well-known British environmentalist - Zac Goldsmith, say, or the less well-off but just as eco-committed Prince Charles - was on his way to Congress in the US to take part in a debate about climate change, only to be told at the very last minute that he was no longer welcome. That he was being denied this prestigious public-speaking platform for unspecified reasons.

There would be uproar, and understandably so. There would be op-eds and email circulars telling us that probably oil-funded, behind-the-scenes men had intervened to silence the green voice and to allow the other side - the sceptical, denying, twisted side - to have free rein in the debate. Someone would mention the c-word.

Yet reverse the roles, and replace the ‘silenced environmentalist’ with ‘silenced sceptic’, and no one seems to mind. At the end of last month, one of Britain’s most controversial climate change sceptics - Monckton, the Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, or whom I prefer to call ‘Christopher Monckton’ - was invited by Republicans to testify on climate change at the House Energy & Commerce Committee, one of the oldest standing committees in the US House of Representatives, alongside a ‘celebrity witness’ offered up by the Democrats: none other than Al Gore. But something dramatic happened while Monckton was in the air. Upon landing in the US, he was told that he could not testify after all; that Democrats had vetoed his appearance; that, in the words of one Republican insider, Gore had ‘chickened out’ of debating him. (Brendan O’Neill, sp!ked)

Climate Change is Not Solved by Consensus - Following on from my earlier comment concerning Professor Mike Hulme of the University of East Anglia, the founding Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, I must bring to your attention an excellent article by Dr. Stuart Blackman reporting on an extremely important interview with Professor Hulme [‘Top British boffin: Time to ditch the climate consensus. Don't use science to get round politics, says Hulme’, The Register, May 6].

This is seminal stuff, and I would urge you to read Dr. Blackman’s piece in full. Hulme makes several crucial points that we should consider carefully. Here are a few key quotations from the article (but do read it all for yourself): (Clamour Of The Times)

Well, gosh... U.S. Curbs Use of Species Act in Protecting Polar Bear - The Obama administration said Friday that it would retain a wildlife rule issued in the last days of the Bush administration that says the government cannot invoke the Endangered Species Act to restrict emissions of greenhouse gases threatening the polar bear and its habitat.

In essence, the decision means that two consecutive presidents have judged that the act is not an appropriate means of curbing the emissions that scientists have linked to global warming.

The bear was listed as a threatened species under the act last May. But the special rule, adopted in December, said this designation did not give the Interior Department the authority to limit greenhouse gases outside the bears’ Arctic range. (Andy Revkin, New York Times)

Of course moonbat fell for it -- or pretended to: Climate change displacement has begun – but hardly anyone has noticed - The first evacuation of an entire community due to manmade global warming is happening on the Carteret Islands

Journalists – they're never around when you want one. Two weeks ago a momentous event occurred: the beginning of the world's first evacuation of an entire people as a result of manmade global warming. It has been marked so far by one blog post for the Ecologist and an article in the Solomon Times*. Where is everyone?

The Carteret Islands are off the coast of Bougainville, which, in turn, is off the coast of Papua New Guinea. They are small coral atolls on which 2,600 people live. Though not for much longer. (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

Guess what George? Relative sea levels are rising around these islands but this is not because the sea is getting taller, nor does it have anything to do with greenhouse gas or global temperature. The Carteret Islands are sinking due to tectonic activity and associated volcanism because the Pacific Plate is sliding into the Bismarck and Solomon Plates, some of the islands in the associated Duke of York group are sinking 30 centimetres (11.8 inches) a year.

By the way George, there has been zero (as in zip, nada, none whatsoever) known sea level rise in the region over the last 50 years, this is absolutely and purely an artifact of tectonic activity. This has been known for quite some time and claims this has anything to do with global mean temperature must now be viewed as outright lies.

Dopey buggers: NFU Expresses Climate Change Priorities - WASHINGTON (May 8, 2009) - National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson outlined in a letter to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., yesterday the necessary components of a meaningful cap and trade system. Johnson urged Waxman to support legislation that would enable America's farmers and ranchers to be key actors in combating climate change.

"Even before climate change legislation was introduced in Congress, NFU emerged as the leading voice for how agriculture can play a significant role in combating global climate change and supported a mandatory cap and trade program," Johnson said. "As the debate moves through Congress, it is vital for agriculture to have a seat at the table." (Cattle Network)

This is not the way. Everyone needs to stop scrambling for crumbs from the table and start standing against the entire fraudulent scheme.

Do Carbon Offsets Cause Emissions to Rise? - Michael Wara, a law professor and energy expert at Stanford’s Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, has cast new doubts on the efficacy of the European Union’s Emissions Trading System, which is the model for a carbon-capping system foreseen in the United States.

Mr. Wara wrote in an e-mail message to Green Inc. that European-based polluters were likely to have bought so many permits from carbon-reduction projects based outside the trade bloc that industries emitted roughly 1 percent more in 2008 than they did in 1990. (Green Inc.)

Not in my name! Entergy CEO: Climate change top issue for industry - Entergy Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive J. Wayne Leonard told shareholders Friday that climate change is the biggest issue the energy industry has ever faced, and that producers and policymakers have to come to agreement on affordable solutions.

Speaking at the New Orleans-based utility's annual meeting in Little Rock, Leonard said wind energy and other proposed alternatives are too expensive to be practical as replacements for coal and natural gas for generating electricity.

"We all would like to get to a place where we're not burning fossil fuels," Leonard said. "We're not going to get there in our lifetimes." (Associated Press)

Why? Why does he think we'd all "like to get to a place where we're not burning fossil fuels? I don't have any such desire. Do you? Personally I'm quite pleased to be feeding the biosphere every time I turn on a light or drive to Mom's place to cut the grass (yes, with a gas-powered lawn mower). Why wouldn't I be happy to return some carbon previously lost to the biosphere through its lossey, imperfect cycle? It's the best thing humans have ever done for the biosphere, albeit accidentally and I most assuredly do not want to get any place I'm not doing it.

Republicans seek FERC comment on coal/nuke remark - NEW YORK - Republicans in Congress on Friday asked Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff to explain his recent comments that new coal and nuclear plants may be unnecessary.

In a letter, Joe Barton (R-Texas), ranking member and former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, asked Wellinghoff to provide the committee with documents or analysis concluding there may not be any need for new nuclear or coal plants.

A spokeswoman at FERC, which has jurisdiction over the interstate transmission system, could not comment on the letter because she had not seen it.

She could not say how Wellinghoff would respond but noted that he is a proponent of renewables, energy efficiency and a smart power grid.

On at least a couple of occasions over the past few weeks, Wellinghoff has said renewable energy like wind, solar and biomass and energy efficiency could provide enough power to meet the nation's future energy needs and that new nuclear and coal plants might not be necessary.

In answer to questions in the past, Wellinghoff has said the cost to build and operate renewable energy is in line or even lower than traditional baseload power sources like coal and nuclear. (Reuters)

2050: An energy odyssey - Ottawa’s low-carbon energy projections leave Canada producing more energy from coal, oil sands, nuclear and forests. This is green?  (Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post)

Australia Govt Rejects Coal Compensation Report - CANBERRA - Australia's government shook off on Friday coal industry warnings that 10,000 jobs would be lost and 16 coal mines forced to close unless a planned national carbon emissions trading scheme was dramatically overhauled.

The centre-left government's exclusion of coal mining from compensation measures promised to the biggest polluting firms exposed to overseas competition was "seriously flawed", new research for the Australian Coal Association (ACA) said.

"It is effectively a A$10 billion (US$7.55 billion) claim for assistance," junior Climate Change Minister Greg Combet told Reuters by telephone.

Australia is the world's largest coal exporter.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd this week announced a one year delay to the world's most sweeping cap-and-trade scheme outside Europe, pushing the start of the scheme back until mid-2011.

Rudd also offered concessions to big industry in Australia, including a low fixed carbon price capped for a year at A$10 and increased eligibility for free emissions permits, including 95 percent for the heaviest export-oriented polluters. (Reuters)

China Emerges as a Leader in Cleaner Coal Technology - TIANJIN, China — China’s frenetic construction of coal-fired power plants has raised worries around the world about the effect on climate change. China now uses more coal than the United States, Europe and Japan combined, making it the world’s largest emitter of gases that are warming the planet.

But largely missing in the hand-wringing is this: China has emerged in the past two years as the world’s leading builder of more efficient, less polluting coal power plants, mastering the technology and driving down the cost.

While the United States is still debating whether to build a more efficient kind of coal-fired power plant that uses extremely hot steam, China has begun building such plants at a rate of one a month. (New York Times)

Yes, China is building modern, more-efficient plants -- as would America and Europe if the greenies weren't so hell-bent on preventing energy use and obstructing modernization of electricity generation.

Chavez to begin taking over oil industry contractors - State owned Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. PDVSA, will begin Friday taking over control of some oil-field services currently being provided by private firms, President Hugo Chávez said. (MercoPress)

Researchers Eye Better Use For Biomass Than Ethanol - WASHINGTON - Using switchgrass and other biomass to power electric cars is three times more efficient and more environmentally friendly than using ethanol to power traditional gasoline cars, US scientists have found.

Electric vehicles using biomass converted into electricity travelled 81 percent farther per acre of cropland than vehicles with internal combustion engines running on cellulosic ethanol, researchers in California found.

A small sport utility vehicle could do 9,000 highway miles (14,484 km) on the energy produced from an acre of switchgrass converted into ethanol. But converting that biomass into electricity allowed a battery-powered SUV to get 14,000 miles (22,531 km) on the highway, the study published in Science magazine said.

"One of the driving factors that lead to this result is that the electric motor is much more efficient than the internal combustion engine," said the lead author of the study Elliott Campbell, an assistant professor at the University of California, Merced.

"For the small SUV class of vehicles, the electric motor was 3.1 times the efficiency of the internal combustion engine vehicle," he said. (Reuters)

Spain Plans Changes To Renewable Energy Aid Rules - MADRID - Spain plans to change rules on state aid for renewable energy generators, an industry ministry spokesman said on Friday, arousing fears in the sector that its lucrative subsidies may shrink.

Under a new regulatory framework that has not yet been finally decided, the government could also change its targets for installed wind capacity, which are now at 20 gigawatts by 2012, rising to 40 GW in 2020, the spokesman said. (Reuters)

May 8, 2009

WHO says up to 2B people might get swine flu - GENEVA — Up to 2 billion people could be infected by swine flu if the current outbreak turns into a pandemic lasting two years, the World Health Organization said Thursday. WHO flu chief Keiji Fukuda said the historical record of flu pandemics indicates one-third of the world's population gets infected in such outbreaks. Independent experts agreed that the estimate was possible. (AP)

In any given year 5-15% of the population is infected in the annual 'flu epidemics (WHO Fact sheet N°211) and 15% of the global population times 2 (as in, over 2 years) amounts to a little over 2 billion cases. In other words the if/could/but/might case presented here is a perfectly normal high-side estimate of what happens each and every year.

Updated with some clarification: 2 Billion Infected? WHO Stokes Swine Flu Fear - Disease Experts Say Dedicated Swine Flu Vaccine Is Becoming More Likely

The World Health Organization may have inadvertently triggered a new wave of fear over the threat of a swine flu pandemic today by suggesting that up to 2 billion people could be infected if the current outbreak worsens.

"If the situation continues to evolve and the virus does become established in other countries, and we do move into a pandemic, we would expect the virus to infect many people," said WHO chief Keiji Fukuda at a press conference today. "Perhaps a third of the world's population could be infected with this virus, based on previous pandemic."

Fukuda quickly noted to reporters that he was making statement based on data from past pandemics and was not a predicting what would happen with the current swine flu outbreak.

"I do not want you to walk out of here saying that there is an estimate that 2 billion will get infected in the next year or so," he said. "Please do not interpret this as a prediction for the future."

The comment immediately ignited debate among infectious disease experts. (ABC News)

Was alarm on swine flu overblown? Some Americans say health officials 'cried swine' - CHICAGO — Did government health officials "cry swine" when they sounded the alarm on what looked like a threatening new flu?

The so-far mild swine flu outbreak has many people saying all the talk about a devastating global epidemic was just fear-mongering hype. But that's not how public health officials see it, calling complacency the thing that keeps them up at night.

The World Health Organization added a scary-sounding warning Thursday, predicting up to 2 billion people could catch the new flu if the outbreak turns into a global epidemic.

Many blame such alarms and the breathless media coverage for creating an overreaction that disrupted many people's lives. (AP)

Swine flu, part II: What's in store in the months to come -- With mostly mild cases of swine flu in the United States, swine flu fears are lessening. But viruses have a way of re-appearing. While nobody has a crystal ball, here are some thoughts about what the 2009 H1N1 virus might do in the months to come. (Elizabeth Cohen, CNN)

Swine flu victim had chronic respiratory condition - McALLEN, Texas — The first American swine flu patient to die also suffered from severe respiratory conditions, a county health official said Thursday.

Judy Trunnell, a 33-year-old South Texas special education teacher, died Tuesday while in a coma, days after giving birth by Cesarean section to her second child. Health officials said at the time that she suffered from chronic underlying health conditions that were exacerbated by the virus.

Cameron County epidemiologist Leonel Lopez wrote in an e-mail Thursday that Trunnell "had both chronic and acute respiratory conditions." (Associated Press)

Swine flu: Mexico imposes tough new rules - Mexican office workers are being forced to sit six feet apart and cinemas must allow a spare seat either side of each customer as tough new regulations are imposed after the peak of the swine flu outbreak. (Daily Telegraph)

Pork producer ad blitz no instant cure for flu fears - WASHINGTON - Fears of a global flu pandemic may be subsiding but a big sector in the already battered U.S. food industry will be left reeling for months to come as a result of the scare over "swine flu."

The H1N1 virus outbreak that spiked in Mexico in March and spread to the United States and beyond was originally dubbed "swine flu" and the impact on the pork industry was felt almost immediately.

Food safety officials have been clear that people can't get flu from eating pork. But that's not necessarily the perception of consumers made jittery by a string food scares that have raked America's giant agribusiness complex in recent months.

Pork sales and prices dropped in the United States while more than a dozen countries rushed to wall off their home markets from pork from infected countries. (Reuters)

USDA may help ailing pork industry hit by H1N1 - WASHINGTON, May 7 - The U.S. pork industry, battered by import bans by nearly two dozen countries worried about the H1N1 flu outbreak, could soon receive some help from the government, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Thursday.

"Clearly pork producers have suffered and will continue to do so until we get this turned around," Vilsack told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee. "We are looking at ways we can be of assistance or help," he said.

Vilsack did not go into details on what type of aid the industry might receive or when it would occur. (Reuters)

Arrgh! 40 Countries Will Try Fighting Malaria Without DDT - GENEVA, Switzerland, May 6, 2009 (ENS) — In an effort to rid the world of the pesticide DDT, used to fight the mosquito that transmits malaria, 40 countries are set to test non-chemical methods to combat the deadly disease, three United Nations agencies announced today.

The non-chemical techniques range from eliminating potential mosquito breeding sites and securing homes with mesh screens and bed nets to deploying mosquito-repellent trees and fish that eat mosquito larvae.

The goal is to achieve a 30 percent cut in the application of DDT worldwide by 2014 and a total phase-out by the early 2020s if not sooner, while staying on track to meet the malaria reduction targets set by the World Health Organization.

"WHO faces a double challenge - a commitment to the goal of drastically and sustainably reducing the burden of vector-borne diseases, in particular malaria, and at the same time a commitment to the goal of reducing reliance on DDT in disease vector control," said WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan. (ENS)

There is no benefit in eliminating DDT usage unless your goal is to eliminate more people. The misanthropists are relentless, coming back again and again in an effort to limit access to useful chemicals and health aids.

This is refreshing: Agencies dispute pesticide reviews - EPA questions ‘transparency’ of NMFS analysis

Judging from recent headlines, it would seem that federal scientists agree about the harmful effect certain pesticides have on fish, but records show that's not the case.

In fact, two federal agencies charged with developing new restrictions on these chemicals don't see eye-to-eye about the science behind recent conclusions.

Last year, a federal judge ordered the National Marine Fisheries Service to review 37 pesticides to determine if they harm endangered salmonid species in the Northwest.

Since then, NMFS has found that each of the six pesticides it has reviewed so far poses a jeopardy to the fish.

In a November 2008 biological opinion, NMFS proposed restrictions on the use of malathion, chlorpyrifos and diazonin. A second opinion released in April proposed similar restrictions for carbaryl, carbofuran and methomyl.

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to develop label regulations based on these proposed mitigation measures, but agency managers say they are confused about how NMFS arrived at its findings.

After receiving a draft of the most recent biological opinion, EPA's director of pesticide programs, Debra Edwards, wrote a response letter criticizing NMFS' approach.

"The draft biological opinion lacks a level of transparency necessary for EPA to understand NMFS' rational for its opinion that the use of these pesticides will jeopardize the continued existence" of the endangered fish, Edwards said in the letter, dated April 10.

NMFS seemed to use "conflicting approaches" in how it compiled the biological opinion, drawing conclusions about pesticide risk from uncertain and incomplete data, Edwards said.

The biological opinion also failed to explain why NMFS took certain studies into consideration but did not use other studies provided by EPA, she said.

Edwards also questioned how realistic NMFS was about pesticide use in agriculture. (Capital Press)

UK attacks European pesticide rules - New rules banning pesticides would seriously damage the UK’s agricultural output, the government said on Thursday in an outspoken attack on European plans.

Hilary Benn, secretary of state for environment and rural affairs, told a committee of MPs that the pesticides ban, voted in by the European Parliament earlier this year, would be a “serious problem” for British farmers.

He said: “These regulations could hit agricultural production in the UK for no recognisable benefit to human health.” The government estimates that agricultural yields could decline by up to 30 per cent as a result of the ban.

Robert Watson, chief scientist at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, was even more outspoken. Describing the limits on certain chemicals as a “wrongheaded policy”, he suggested the problem was that the European Commission and European governments lacked proper scientific advice.

“We are moving from a risk-based policy to a hazards-based policy, and that is very worrying,” he said, arguing that European legislators had failed to understand that the risks to human health from the pesticides were low. “If you’re going by what is a hazard you could ban most things. You wouldn’t have electricity in this room, because it’s a hazard.” (Fiona Harvey, Financial Times)

Bob Watson's opinion would carry a great deal more weight had he not abandoned all principle to promote the IPCC and gorebull warming. Even though he is quite right here why should anyone believe a gibbering apocalyptic climate nutter?

Bush EPA hid data on coal-ash risks, study shows - CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Bush administration kept secret for nearly five years data that showed increased cancer risks from drinking water polluted by coal-ash impoundments, according to a new report issued Thursday. (Charleston Gazette)

From the somewhat bizarre enviro 'report' it's a little difficult to unravel their methodology -- it appears they are basically trying to piggyback on cyanide hysteria and beat up a cancer relative risk of 2% (RR1.02), which is no risk at all. Looks like its raison d'être is to support the EPA's attack on affordable energy from coal:

EPA representative: Coal ash could be regulated - An Environmental Protection Agency representative is telling energy industry officials to expect regulations on how to handle ash from coal-fired power plants.

That could include classifying coal ash as hazardous waste, the EPA official said. Matt Hale, director of the EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, spoke Tuesday at the World of Coal Ash conference in Lexington. (Associated Press)

Implausible: Taking probiotics during pregnancy 'can reduce obesity in mothers' - Women who take probiotics during their first trimester of pregnancy may be less likely to suffer from the most unhealthy form of obesity after giving birth, according to research.

A study by scientists at the University of Turku in Finland suggests that manipulating the balance of bacteria in the gut may help to fight obesity.

Probiotics are bacteria that help to maintain a bacterial balance in the digestive tract by reducing the growth of harmful bacteria. They are part of the normal digestive system and play a role in controlling inflammation. (Times Online)

Twaddle: With Obesity Key Driver of Rising Health Care Costs, National Business Group on Health Urges Tax Code Changes - WASHINGTON, May 7 -- Underscoring the enormous strain that obesity places on our nation's health care system and economy at-large, the National Business Group on Health today released new data from Dr. Kenneth Thorpe documenting the staggering costs associated with obesity and called on Congress to make important tax changes to encourage employees to participate in employer-sponsored health and wellness programs. As part of the briefing, Dr. J. Brent Pawlecki of Pitney Bowes highlighted its innovative and nationally recognized strategies in combating obesity among its 35,000 employees. (PRNewswire-USNewswire)

Sleep deprivation? Maybe... Constant Sun -- Too Much Of A Good Thing? - LONDON - Too much sunlight in places like Greenland where long summer days often cause insomnia appears more likely to drive a person to suicide, Swedish researchers said Friday.

Despite a belief that suicides tend to rise in late autumn and early winter months because of darkness, the new findings suggest that places where constant sunlight in summer seasons is a fact of life may be just as dangerous.

"During the long periods of constant light, it is crucial to keep some circadian rhythm to get enough sleep and sustain mental health," Karin Sparring Bjorksten of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and colleagues reported in the BioMed Central journal BMC Psychiatry. (Reuters)

Leave it alone: Legislators speak out for polar bears, ask Salazar to revoke harmful Bush rule - In a remarkable show of support for the polar bear, 41 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 35 members of the California legislature submitted letters to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar requesting that he revoke a Bush administration rule limiting protections for the Arctic’s top predator under the Endangered Species Act.

Salazar has until May 9 to repeal the Bush polar bear rule pursuant to special authority granted to him by Congress in the Omnibus Appropriations Act. While Salazar and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced the repeal of a separate, nationwide Bush Endangered Species Act regulation on Monday, Salazar has yet to commit to revoking the damaging polar bear rule. (Center for Biological Diversity)

The bears are fine, it's people we need to worry about.

As wolves face the gun, flawed science taints decision to remove species from ESA - On Monday the gray wolf was removed from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in Idaho and Montana, two states that have protected the wolf for decades. According to the federal government the decision to remove those wolf populations was based on sound conservation science—a fact greatly disputed in conservation circles. For unlike the bald eagle, whose population is still rising after being delisted in 1995, when the wolf is removed from the ESA it will face guns blazing and an inevitable decline. (Jeremy Hance,

Hmm... whether there is any such critter as "sound conservation science" is debatable, to say the least.

Use it or lose it, dopey: Who Will Protect the Forests? - During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama strongly supported a regulation enacted near the end of the Clinton administration prohibiting commercial activity in nearly 60 million roadless acres of the national forests. Eager to open those forests to timber and oil companies, the Bush administration spent eight years trying to undermine the rule. It remains at risk, and President Obama should intervene now to save the rule and the forests it is meant to protect. (New York Times)

Activists blamed for deadly booby traps - Anti-logging protesters have been blamed for laying potentially deadly booby traps in Tasmania's Styx Valley.

The claim came as police moved on Monday to arrest a small number of activists in the nearby Upper Florentine valley, 100km west of Hobart.

MP Daniel Hulme claims activists have put lives at risk by setting up booby traps.

He said they were to blame for a trap in the Styx Valley, which Forestry Tasmania said could have seriously injured or killed a timber feller. (Australian Associated Press)

More deadly booby traps found as anti-logging activists escalate attacks - More potentially deadly booby traps have been found in a Tasmanian forest as police battle on two fronts to remove protesters from forestry exclusion zones.

Three anti-logging activists have been charged with assaulting a forestry worker at one of the protest fronts, in the upper Florentine River valley 100km west of Hobart. (Australian Associated Press)

Wilderness activists using violence and booby traps - Violence and new accusations of dangerous booby traps set for forestry workers marked another day of anti-logging protests in Tasmania's southern wilderness.

Police on Wednesday battled on two fronts to remove protesters from forestry exclusion zones, leading Greens Senator Christine Milne to say police were acting at the behest of a "spiteful and vindictive" state government. (Australian Associated Press)

Chump Change - $17 billion. That's the amount, out of a total $3.5 trillion in spending, that has been "cut" in the White House's latest budget. If this is some kind of joke, it isn't very funny.

After hearing the Democratic Party lay into President Bush last year for his "profligacy," "record spending" and "soaring deficits," we can't be blamed for expecting something else from the party now in power.

Instead, we get a 19% rise in domestic spending in 2010 from 2008 (2009 has been wildly inflated by stimulus spending), coupled with $17 billion in bogus "cuts" and record amounts of pork-barrel spending.

Even taking the $17 billion seriously, as Budget Director Peter Orszag says we should, that amounts to just 0.5% of total spending — not enough to make even a small dent in a federal budget deficit that will hit $1.2 trillion next year.

Even so, "$17 billion is not chump change by any measure," said Orszag. We disagree. It is chump change. And the average taxpayer is the chump. The new $3.5 trillion budget spends $11,475 for each American; the cuts amount to just $55. (IBD)

Genetically Engineered Mice Don't Get Obese, But Do Develop Gallstones - (May 6, 2009) — Obesity and gallstones often go hand in hand. But not in mice developed at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Even when these mice eat high-fat diets, they don't get fat, but they do develop gallstones. Researchers say the findings offer clues about genetic factors related to gallstones, and they believe better understanding of those factors may one day allow physicians to monitor people at risk and even, perhaps, to intervene before gallstones become a serious problem. (ScienceDaily)

HWGA: Argentine Herbicide Lawsuit Alarms Soy Farmers - BUENOS AIRES - An environmental group's push to temporarily ban a widely used herbicide in Argentina, citing a scientist's preliminary study, has sparked concern in the country's huge soy industry and generated disagreement within the government.

An environmental group filed suit in April before the Supreme Court, seeking a ban on glyphosate, a weed killer used with genetically modified soybeans that has helped fuel Argentina's soy boom by dramatically boosting yields.

The lawsuit cited potential health dangers of the herbicide signaled in an unpublished study by Andres Carrasco, embryology professor at the University of Buenos Aires and researcher at the National Scientific and Technical Research Counsel. (Reuters)

For Manbearpig awareness? Senate to vote on Gore, Hull statues at Capitol - NASHVILLE - A resolution urging the erection of statues on the Tennessee Capitol grounds of the state's two Nobel Peace Prize winners, Al Gore and Cordell Hull, is on its way to a full Senate vote.

The Senate State and Local Government Committee today advanced the measure supporting the privately funded statues on a 9-0 vote. The resolution previously passed in the House unanimously.

Gore was awarded his Nobel prize in 2007 for his work on global warming, while Hull received the award in 1945 for his role in creating the United Nations and improving international trade relations.

Both men served as a Democratic congressmen and senators from Tennessee before moving on to the executive branch, Hull as secretary of state and Gore as vice president. (Associated Press) --h/t Global Warming Skeptics

South Park Studio's Manbearpig Episode 1006 (Original Air Date: Apr 26, 2006)

Just What We Need Right Now - An Al Gore Statue

One final thought. Since global warming is now a religion, won't displaying the Gore statue in a public location be tantamount to displaying the ten commandments??? (The blogprof)

If It Makes People Believe, Is It Okay To Lie About Global Warming? - While reading an article on Gather, something struck me as odd. The piece described how global warming is destroying a native village in western Alaska called Newtok.

The article cited a CNN report lifted from the Warming Trends section of The New York Times. See Victim of Climate Change, a Town Seeks a Lifeline.

The same story was repeated in Discover Magazine, The Nation and across the blogsphere.

What I found odd is there is nothing odd about what's happening to Newtok and certainly nothing that qualifies a New York Times environmental reporter to declare its residents "the first climate refugees in the United States". (Greg Schiller, Gather)

Dealing with climate change in the context of other, more urgent threats to human and environmental well-being - Guest post by: Indur M. Goklany

In a series of posts (collected here) we saw that no matter how significant climate change may seem when viewed in isolation, it pales in significance when compared with other global problems, at least through the foreseeable future. This is hardly surprising: in the absence of context even the smallest molehill may be mistaken for a Mount Everest.

So how should we deal with climate change in the context of other more significant threats to human and environmental well-being? (Watts Up with That?)

The Work of Ferenc Miskolczi (Part 1) - OUR understanding of the natural world does not progress through the straight forward accumulation of facts because most scientists tend to gravitate to the established popular consensus also known as the established paradigm. Thomas Kuhn describes the development of scientific paradigms as comprising three stages: prescience, normal science and revolutionary science when there is a crisis in the current consensus. When it comes to the science of climate change, we are probably already in the revolution state. In particular there is growing concern that some of the physics underpinning the IPCC climate models may be flawed. The work of Ferenc Miskolczi is a case in point. (

The Climatically Saturated Greenhouse Effect: A Note from Christopher Game (This is part 2 of ‘The Work of Ferenc Miskolczi’) - IN recent years, a major advance in our understanding of the physical dynamics of the climate process has come from the work of Ferenc Miskolczi. For the present note I am calling his discovery the ‘climatically saturated greenhouse effect’. I use these words to mean that the ‘saturation’ of which I speak is not the classical static saturation of an isolated system, but is ‘saturation’ in a specially extended sense for an open system in a thermodynamically-non-equilibrium dynamic steady state. (

Developments in greenhouse theory - “…by explaining a simple idea in its simplest form, they may form the basis for further speculations.” -- K. Schwarzschild, 1906


  • The classical approach to the greenhouse effect is incomplete, neglects fundamental principles;
  • The underlying theory of global warming accounts only for a part of the involved physics;
  • The greenhouse effect on the Earth is constrained by powerful negative energetic feedbacks;
  • The atmosphere maintains a “saturated” greenhouse effect, controlled by water vapor content;
  • GHG emission has no direct consequence on the global mean energetic equilibrium;
  • Global warming theory seriously overestimates even the primary surface temperature sensitivity to greenhouse gas perturbations;
  • Including all energetic feedbacks, the long-term sensitivity is zero;
  • Earth’s greenhouse effect is working at its energetic top; further greenhouse warming is practically impossible;
  • Venus: completely different (CO2 atmosphere, closed cloud cover, volcanism) — no runaway greenhouse effect;
  • The Kiehl-Trenberth global mean energy budget, adopted by IPCC 2007, is inaccurate, mistaken;
  • Human activity may alter the absorbed solar energy by modifying planetary albedo (through aerosols, land use change etc.);
  • But is unable to alter the surface temperature directly by its GHG emissions.

An Independent Analysis of Global Warming

To: UN IPCC Committee
From: Dr. Heinz Lycklama (PhD in Nuclear Physics, McMaster University)
Date: May 4, 2009
Subject: Analysis of the Global Warming Issue

Earlier this year I started to look into the issue of Global Warming (GW) and attempt to understand why the issue had become such a controversial one. The general public has become attuned to the issue of GW and I (as an independent scientist) wanted to do my part in educating the public on the underlying science so that good public policy would be established. I assumed that science should be able to show the extent of GW and determine whether GW is due to man-made causes or to natural causes. Once we get the science right we would then know how to deal with GW. It turns out that things are a lot more complicated and unsettled than I thought they were. So I dug into the science behind GW much more thoroughly. (Heinz Lycklama, PhD in Nuclear Physics)

Ken Tapping: One year on into the minimum - This blog has quiet periods just like the Sun

I’ve just been in e-mail correspondence with Dr Kenneth Tapping, asking him to comment on the progress of the solar minimum and his opinion on the likely size of SC24 when it does deign to appear. (Solar Science)

Feedbacks And Risks Associated With Impact Of Modified Land Cover On Australia’s Climate” By McAlpine Et Al 2009 - The research group led by Clive McAlpine of the University of Queensland is one of the most preeminent climate science research groups in the world.

Climate Science has already weblogged recently on one of their papers (see), and another outstanding contribution is listed below which documents even more the major role of landscape change on climate. The paper is McAlpine, C.A., J. Syktus, J.G. Ryan, R.C. Deo, G.M. McKeon, H.A. McGowan, and S.R. Phinn, 2009: A continent under stress: interactions, feedbacks and risks associated with impact of modified land cover on Australia’s Climate. Global Change Biology, in press. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2009.01939.x (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

Cicada expert blames wakeup on climate change - CINCINNATI - An entomologist who has been studying cicadas for decades says something appears to be going wacky with the obnoxiously loud insects' body rhythms -- and he believes it's related to climate change.

Cicadas seem to be forgetting how long they're supposed to sleep and when they're supposed to emerge from the ground, he said. It's getting harder and harder to tell the broods apart. (Associated Press)

So, extra cold snaps in some regions mess up sap flow and cause perhaps 10% of these insect larva to miscount the years, blurring distinction between broods... and this is due to anthropogenic global warming (but only regionally).

Eye-roller: EPA: Budget creates jobs, protects climate - WASHINGTON, May 7 -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposed $10.5 billion budget would create jobs and protect the environment, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said.

"EPA's new budget reflects (President Barack Obama's) commitment to growing a clean energy economy while protecting human health and the environment," Jackson said Thursday. (UPI)

Will the EPA end the internal combustion automobile? - You have to give the Environmental Protection Agency credit for dreaming big. Believing that the agency can put a halt to global climate change is an awfully tall order since the globe's climate has always gone through change, but that is a task the EPA has cut out for itself by declaring that carbon dioxide emissions amount to a "public health danger" and therefore need to be regulated. Of course, climate change may or may not be caused by the emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and some of the most recent scientific thought on the issue suggests we might be in for a period of cooling rather than warming because of decreased activity from the sun, no matter what happens with carbon dioxide emissions. (Tom Ripley, Studio One Networks)

Wrangling threatens Waxman’s cap-and-trade timetable - Closed-door negotiations are continuing on a US federal cap-and-trade proposal after President Barack Obama urged Congressional Democrats to resolve key differences in the hopes of passing comprehensive climate change legislation this year.

Formal consideration of the proposal, known as a markup, has been delayed until next week as committee members continue to bargain over two main issues: allowance distribution and the proposed federal renewable portfolio standard. (Carbon Finance)

Dem centrists press Pelosi to shelve climate bill - Democratic centrists are pressing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to set aside a flagging climate change bill to focus on what they think is a more achievable goal: overhauling the nation’s healthcare system.

But those close to Pelosi (D-Calif.) say she is charging forward on cap-and-trade legislation, despite the potential defections of Democrats who represent states with industries that would be adversely affected by the bill.

Pelosi views the bill’s troubles as predictable and solvable aspects of the legislative process. (The Hill)

Obama Climate Bill Could Anger Greens - Eager to get a climate change bill out of committee, the White House is telling Democrats it will accept a deal on cap-and-trade legislation that gives away some — possibly even a large majority — of the carbon permits to business.

President Obama affirmed his support for the idea during a Tuesday meeting with Democratic members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee at the White House, lawmakers told IBD.

According to Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., a deal could involve giving away as much as 80% of the permits to industry, at least for the first decade.

The meeting was part of an effort to revive talks over climate change legislation that top Democrats had admitted were stalled. (Sean Higgins, IBD)

Peterson cries foul on EPA ethanol proposal, vows not to support climate change bill - House Agriculture Committee chairman Collin Peterson (D., Minn.) sent a message to the Obama Administration today not to count on his support for climate change legislation.

"I'm off the train," Peterson said May 6 during a strongly worded statement at a hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency's new proposal for assessing indirect effects of ethanol production on greenhouse gas emissions. Peterson predicted that the EPA proposal, combined with the climate change legislation under consideration, could "kill off corn ethanol."

Peterson said, "I will not support any kind of climate change bill -- even if you fix this -- because I don't trust anybody anymore. I've had it."

Peterson said his position was not negotiable. "I don't have any confidence. The only way I would consider supporting any climate change legislation would be if it was ironclad that these agencies had no ability to do any rulemaking of any kind whatsoever ... (that) we could be absolutely guaranteed that these folks would not get involved," he said. (Feedstuffs)

The story you want to read, but very nearly couldn't - HOW hard is it to smash through Australia's group-think? Consider the case of Professor Ian Plimer and the book he couldn't sell.

Well, couldn't sell until now, because Plimer's Heaven and Earth, debunking the great global warming scare, has become an instant best-seller.

It today gets its fourth reprint in little over a fortnight, bringing to 25,000 the number of copies now sold or ordered.

This, in a country where a best-seller is reckoned at some 8000 copies, so we're talking about a publishing hit.

But critics have wondered how Heaven and Earth came to be published by Connor Court Publishing, a mere husband-and-wife operation in Ballan, and some have hinted - as did the ABC's Fran Kelly - that it's to the discredit of Plimer.

In fact, the discredit belongs entirely to the bigger publishers who turned him down - ABC Books, Random House, Allen & Unwin, and East Street.

So sure in their global warming faith were these city publishers that they were unable or unwilling to see there was a big market of readers keen to hear the other side of a debate that the mainstream media had shouted for years was "settled".

It wasn't as if Plimer was a newcomer who couldn't write. He had a proven record of success as an author when he offered these four publishers his latest effort - a 500-page assault on the hottest gospel of our overheated times. (Andrew Bolt, Herald Sun)

ETS delay is not enough - AN old lesson all governments have to learn anew is that it is the election promises you keep that are likeliest to get you into trouble. It is a lesson Kevin Rudd is learning the hard way, with his ignominious retreat from his (always delusional) ambition to make Australia a world leader in its response to global warming.

It has been obvious for months that rushing ahead with a clearly flawed carbon trading scheme, one that would have serious adverse consequences for jobs and economic activity in the midst of what Rudd and Wayne Swan refer to, correctly, as the worst global recession since the Depression of the 1930s, was an act of national irresponsibility. However, the Rudd Government appeared to be living in a parallel universe. (Alan Wood, The Australian)

Breathing space for more cost-efficient ETS - THERE is no need to rush a carbon emissions scheme into law now that Kevin Rudd has delayed bolting it down until the economy has a chance to struggle out of recession.

The new breathing space should be used to more rigorously test whether the Government's proposed emissions trading scheme provides the lowest cost path to reducing carbon emissions. It is hard to be confident that the current ETS, with all its political and bureaucratic horsetrading, special pleading and carveouts, will do that. Rudd's retreat this week is an admission that the economic costs are significant enough to blow away a core election promise. (Michael Stutchbury, The Australian)

There is no such thing as a "cost efficient" cap on carbon emissions -- any such constraint is bad for the environment by restricting an essential resource in desperately short supply and bad for people by increasing the cost and availability of necessary energy supplies. It is  a classic example of exactly what not to do.

New U.N. Climate Deal: Not Much Bolder Than Kyoto? - OSLO - A planned new U.N. climate pact is shaping up to be a mildly tougher version of the existing Kyoto Protocol rather than a bold treaty to save what U.S. President Barack Obama has called a "planet in peril." (Reuters)

Nonsense: Pumping CO2 Underground Best Hope For Climate: Shell - NEW YORK - Projects to capture industrial emissions and store them in the earth's crust could cut CO2 pollution by up to 40 percent, according to officials from oil major Shell.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) -- gathering CO2 emissions at their source and pumping them underground -- faces steep cost hurdles, but may someday be worth hundreds of billions of dollars a year, a Shell executive said. (Reuters)

This is no more and no less than a criminal waste of biosphere resources.

Carbon Capture and Burial – a Stupid Answer to a Silly Question - The Carbon Sense Coalition today called on the Australian Federal Parliament to stop playing Global Warming politics and focus instead on the irresponsible damage being contemplated by the Cap-N-Tax promises.

In testimony this week to the New Zealand Parliamentary Enquiry into the ETS, the Chairman of Carbon Sense, Mr Viv Forbes, said that it was impossible to achieve the gigantic cuts in carbon dioxide emissions suggested by various western governments without a crash program of Carbon Capture and Burial (CCB). He expanded on those comments today:

“There is no evidence that CCB would provide any climate or environmental benefits whatsoever – just a huge misuse of investment capital and a massive increase in the cost of living for any society silly enough to tread this path.” (Carbon Sense Coalition)

Stotty with more uncharacteristic voting advice: Canny Canute, Loopy Labour - ‘South East Matters’, Edition #1, from “Labour’s MEP in South East England” has just dropped on to the door mat. There must be an election due! As you will notice, this is issue #1. How nice it has been to have been kept informed by one’s MEP throughout the last few years. Mind you, looking more like some drab 1950’s-style leaflet from a local evangelical church, it nearly got put straight in the bin. Unfortunately, we read it.

The section on ‘Keep Britain Green’ is horrendous. You will be glad to learn that “Labour MEPs are investing a lot of their time to reach a global agreement to control climate change.” How can one possibly vote for anybody who believes that they can “control” climate? The leaflet also witters on about “sustainably produced biofuels”, when even most ‘Greens’ are opposed to Europe’s daft biofuel policy.

Well, Peter Skinner, Member of the European Parliament for the Labour Party for South East England, I voted Labour last time; I can assure you that I shall not be doing so this coming June. (Clamour Of The Times)

An Irrational Fear of Carbon

Robert D. Brinsmead
August 2008

We appear to have entered a new age of unreason… It is from this, above all, that we really need to save the planet. Nigel Lawson

It is widely believed that the carbon emissions of our modern industrial civilization will cause catastrophic global warming. It is called anthropogenic [man-made] global warming (AGW). Media headlines and political chatter have become obsessed with carbon. There is endless talk of carbon emissions, carbon pollution, carbon footprint, carbon offsets, carbon rationing, carbon tax and carbon trading.

We need a new word to encompass all this alarmism about carbon. The word that readily suggests itself is carbophobia. It means “an irrational fear of carbon.” (Carbon Sense Coalition)

Dude, where's our money? India envoy: Not enough progress towards a climate deal - Despite the need to come up with a global climate deal by the end of the year in Copenhagen, diplomats involved in the negotiations are not making enough progress, India's special envoy on climate change, Shyam Saran, told EurActiv in an exclusive interview. (EurActiv)

Shrimp Said At Risk From North Atlantic Warming - OSLO - A $500 million North Atlantic shrimp fishery may be vulnerable to climate change that could disrupt the crustaceans' life cycle and mislead them into hatching when food is scarce, scientists said.

Any damage to stocks of the northern shrimp -- a small, sweet-tasting variety popular in salads -- could have knock-on effects in the ocean food chain ranging from algae to cod, according to a Canadian-led team of experts.

"The shrimp is the marine equivalent of the canary in the mine shaft. It's an indicator of climate change," Peter Koeller, the lead author of the study at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Canada, told Reuters.

Writing in Friday's edition of the journal Science, the scientists said that the shrimp timed mating so that their eggs hatch when algae that shrimp larvae feed on are most abundant. (Reuters)

And if it warmed the algae would be more abundant, end of imaginary problem...

The Bias Against Oil and Gas - Expanding any fossil-fuel production offends many Americans. But policies placating this prejudice aren't in our national interest. (Robert J. Samuelson, NEWSWEEK)

D'oh! Global climate deal needed to halt soaring coal production - More of the world's electricity was generated from coal last year, reveals a new industry report, pointing at the futility of unilateral EU moves to cut down CO2 emissions.

The 2008 market report of EURACOAL, the industry association representing the European coal industry, shows that global hard coal production increased by at least 200 million tonnes (Mt) last year, most of which was mined in China. Higher energy prices and technological advances make it even more profitable to use already abundant coal resources, the report published this week said. (EurActiv)

Obama budget rescinds energy industry tax breaks - WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama outlined a budget plan Thursday that would end $26 billion in oil and gas industry tax breaks, point to a new direction for dealing with nuclear waste and shift government aggressively toward helping to develop renewable energy sources. (AP)

Drill, Ivan, Drill - Oil prices have risen to a six-month high on the prospect of economic recovery. Russia plans floating reactors to power Arctic drilling. We plan to do nothing to increase supply. (IBD)

Porter Stansberry: Sea Change in U.S. Natural Gas Industry - As Stansberry & Associates Investment Research founder Porter Stansberry sees it, cap-and-trade legislation is sure to drive up the price of coal. Coal-bed methane wells are producing so much natural gas that the economic incentive of shutoffs to sustain prices has vanished. The upshot, he tells The Energy Report, is continued weakening in natural gas prices and thus continued strengthening for companies that use natural gas for power generation. (The Energy Report)

U.S. may short-change transit again: MTA head - NEW YORK - Mass transportation in the U.S. deserves a big boost in federal funding to help counter global warming and to meet the growing needs of riders, the head of the country's largest transit system said on Thursday.

But Lee Sander, chief executive officer of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said the upcoming federal transportation bill may not include enough money to meet the needs for transit systems nationwide. (Reuters)

Gorebull warming does not provide justification for anything and so is the very last thing NYMTA should be pinning its hopes on for a significant funding boost.

Obama Budget Seeks End To Yucca Nuclear Waste Dump - WASHINGTON - The Obama administration said Thursday it wanted to officially terminate the Yucca Mountain nuclear storage waste site and instead spend $197 million to phase out the project and "explore alternatives" for nuclear waste disposal. (Reuters)

Don’t Single Out Ethanol on Land-Use Changes, Says Trade Group Chief - Bob Dinneen, the president of the Renewable Fuels Association, an ethanol trade group, stopped by our New York offices today to discuss recent moves by the Obama administration that offer both good and bad news for the industry. (Green Inc.)

Biodiesel Makers Lash Out at E.P.A. Rule - Like their ethanol counterparts, biodiesel producers are chafing at the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed methods of calculating their fuel’s greenhouse gas emissions. (Green Inc.)

May 7, 2009

Make an H1N1 vaccine? Or not? - CHICAGO - Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on Tuesday U.S. health officials are working with vaccine makers to speed up production of the seasonal flu vaccine and get ready to make a H1N1 flu shot.

The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agree it is too soon to decide whether to go ahead with manufacture, but because making a flu vaccine is a long process, work needs to start now.

Vaccine makers grow the virus in fertilized chicken eggs in a process that can take four to six months.

Here are some factors health officials will be considering as they decide whether to make a swine flu vaccine: (Reuters)

WHO to weigh flu vaccine switch next week - GENEVA - World Health Organisation experts will meet next week to consider whether drug makers should switch from seasonal to pandemic flu production in response to the new H1N1 strain, an official said on Wednesday.

Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO director of the Initiative for Vaccine Research, told reporters that an expert committee would discuss a potential switch on May 14 in response to the flu outbreak that has raised fears of a pandemic.

"This group will be asked to provide advice to WHO on whether there is enough evidence for WHO to recommend ... that manufacturers should start to go large-scale manufacturing of Influenza A (H1N1) vaccine," Kieny said. (Reuters)

Second strain of flu may complicate picture - WASHINGTON - A second strain of influenza, one of the seasonal strains, may have mutated and may be complicating the picture in Mexico, Canadian researchers reported on Wednesday.

They have found a strain of the H3N2 virus that appears to have made a shift and could have complicated the flu picture in Mexico, epicenter of an outbreak of a new strain of the H1N1 swine flu virus. (Reuters)

Hog farmers brace for financial pain of swine flu - INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana hog farmers are among those pork producers nationwide stepping up health protection measures and bracing for the impact of swine flu on an already struggling industry.

Purdue University agricultural economist Chris Hurt says Indiana hog farmers have been losing money every quarter for the last year and a half, and it's gotten worse since the swine flu scare hit a few weeks ago.

Hurt estimated Indiana hog producers were losing about $5 a head on April 24; he said that number is now $20. Hurt estimates that in the week after the swine flu outbreak, the United States pork industry lost about $30 million.

Hurt says he expected prices farmers received at the market to bounce back this week amid assurances by the Agriculture Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that pork was safe to consume. But that hasn't been the case. (AP)

WHO casts wary eye on meat, blood of H1N1-infected pigs - HONG KONG - Meat from pigs infected with the new H1N1 virus shouldn't be used for human consumption, the World Health Organization cautioned on Wednesday, adding it was drawing up guidelines to protect workers handling pigs.

The WHO comments appear more cautious than those from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), which said import bans are not required to safeguard public health because the disease is not food-borne and has not been identified in dead animal tissue.

The WHO however said it was possible for flu viruses to survive the freezing process and be present in thawed meat, as well as in blood.

"Meat from sick pigs or pigs found dead should not be processed or used for human consumption under any circumstances," Jorgen Schlundt, director of WHO's Department of Food Safety, Zoonoses and Foodborne Diseases. (Reuters)

Flu Lockdown Spurs Quarantine Debate - HONG KONG -- The seven-day quarantine at a hotel here has reignited a debate over the effectiveness and fairness of a technique used by disease fighters, particularly in Asia.

No new cases of the A/H1N1 virus, also known as human swine flu, have emerged in Hong Kong since officials ordered nearly 300 people quarantined at the Metropark Hotel Friday, apparently vindicating the policy. Yet gaps in implementation suggest the city may have been lucky.

Government officials aren't boasting yet. "We hope that the measures we have taken would be able to contain this virus infection for the time being, but we cannot be complacent," York Chow, Hong Kong's secretary for food and health, said Tuesday

Fresh evidence suggests the danger posed by A/H1N1 may be less than originally thought, but the Metropark quarantine will likely be examined for lessons on handling disease outbreaks. (Peter Stein, Wall Street Journal)

Mexico City returns to normal as swine flu restrictions fade - Restaurants and offices reopened Wednesday. High school and university students return to school tomorrow.

Mexico City rubbed its eyes Wednesday morning, emerging from a five-day economic shutdown that authorities ordered to contain the swine flu – bringing a curious calm to one of the world's most frenetic capitals. (Christian Science Monitor)

UN agencies launch DDT-free anti-malaria initiative - 6 May 2009 – The United Nations today announced a renewed round of international efforts to combat malaria with a reduced reliance on the controversial synthetic pesticide Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane (DDT).

A number of projects, involving some 40 countries in Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and Central Asia, are set to test non-chemical methods of eradicating the deadly disease, ranging from eliminating potential mosquito breeding sites and securing homes with mesh screens to deploying mosquito-repellent trees and fish that eat mosquito larvae.

The new projects follow a successful five-year pilot programme using alternatives to DDT in Mexico and Central America, where pesticide-free techniques and management procedures have helped cut cases of malaria by over 60 per cent. (UN News)

Great! Now deploy pesticides and eliminate the remaining 40% of cases. Dopey buggers!

Ottawa’s mindless plasticizer plan - When it comes to issues directly affecting their citizens, countries usually want to determine their own futures. Not so with Canada when it comes to product safety, or so it seems.

Health Canada recently announced its intention to introduce a ban on the sale of some consumer products, including children’s toys made with a class of chemicals known as phthalates — “plasticizers” used to make plastic products soft and flexible. Phthalates are in everything from shoes to automobile seats, flooring, garden hoses and emergency room IV bags.

Following the lead of the EU, which placed broad bans on phthalates, Health Canada is moving forward with plans to implement its own ban. Problem is, just because the EU is going down a certain path doesn’t necessarily mean Canada should follow.

While the EU banned all phthalates ignoring its own scientific evidence, the U.S. Congress carefully considered the science and differentiated between classes of phthalates in the legislation. Canada is on the verge of following the lead of EU politicians, a road paved with politics rather than science, and one that could actually increase risks to children. (David Cadogan, Financial Post)

Experts weigh threat from coal ash - New regulations may consider it hazardous waste

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- A senior U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official told utility industry officials and academic researchers yesterday that national regulations on handling ash from coal-fired power plants are coming -- and they may include classifying the material as hazardous waste. (Courier-Journal)

Docs can sway parents' attitudes to vaccination - NEW YORK - Parents who are hesitant about having their children vaccinated might want to listen to their health care provider. Doctors can play a critical role by explaining the benefits and addressing concerns about risks, researchers report in this week's New England Journal of Medicine.

Vaccine refusal is a growing phenomenon, as indicated by the proportion of children exempted from school immunization requirements for non-medical reasons, explain Dr. Saad B. Omer, at Emory University in Atlanta and his associates. Between 1991 and 2004, exemption rates rose from less than 1 percent to more than 2.5 percent in states that allow exemptions for philosophical or personal beliefs.

Officials have also noted that some parents insist on delaying vaccinations or spreading them out over extended periods or skipping some shots, which may leave children vulnerable to diseases that can be prevented by vaccination. (Reuters Health)

Steroids Hysteria - With the return of baseball and a new book on Alex Rodriguez released this week, a fresh round of congressional posturing about steroids is upon us.

Why is it Congress's business?

I asked U.S. Reps. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., about that for my next TV special, "Don't Even Think about Saying That!," which will air this Friday on ABC.

"This is part of our duty," Cummings says, "to protect the American people." Steroids are "a serious public-health problem."

Stearns added, "Teenagers commit suicide."

And Congress will fix it all. (John Stossel, Townhall)

Wild claim of the day: Possible Link Between Childhood Obesity And Allergies — A new study indicates there may be yet another reason to reduce childhood obesity — it may help prevent allergies. The study published in the May issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology showed that obese children and adolescents are at increased risk of having some kind of allergy, especially to a food. The study was funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), both parts of the National Institutes of Health. (ScienceDaily)

The association here is about as compelling as the Apollo Program causing global cooling (don't laugh, the timeframe is perfect giving us a strong association from Saturn 1 through Apollo 17 with the cooling fears of the 60s and 70s -- heck, Sputnik may have started it all in October of 57 ;-)).

Fraud in Academia - Soon college students will come home and present parents with their grades. To avoid delusion, parents should do some serious discounting because of rampant grade inflation. If grade inflation continues, a college bachelor's degree will have just as much credibility as a high school diploma.

Writing for the National Association of Scholars, Professor Thomas C. Reeves documents what is no less than academic fraud in his article "The Happy Classroom: Grade Inflation Works." From 1991 to 2007, in public institutions, the average grade point average (GPA) rose, on a four-point scale, from 2.93 to 3.11. In private schools, the average GPA climbed from 3.09 to 3.30. Put within a historical perspective, in the 1930s, the average GPA was 2.35 (about a C-plus); whereby now it's a B-plus. (Walter E. Williams, Townhall)

What Green Means - The environmental left is conceding that its effort to "fight" global warming is in trouble because the public has tuned out the message. So the plan is to obscure the agenda even more.

An agenda that eviscerates property rights, enlarges the regulatory state, increases taxes and forces egalitarianism isn't an easy sell in a nation with a legacy of liberty and free markets.

But some time ago, eco-activists and their allies in Congress understood that they could march the country to the left by small degrees if they disguised socialism as environmentalism.

And thus the environmental movement was hijacked. (IBD)

You couldn't make this up... Eco-sailors rescued by oil tanker - An expedition team which set sail from Plymouth on a 5,000-mile carbon emission-free trip to Greenland have been rescued by an oil tanker. (BBC)

Teen Reads "Wrong" News, Film at 11 - The folks in one northern Michigan community can rest easy because it’s clear their high school computer teacher is on the ball. Last week in the computer lab, a student who had completed his video production assignment killed time by surfing the Internet on a school computer. But the teacher (unnamed in news stories), caught a glimpse of the screen and put a stop to the student’s consumption of vile and vulgar Internet content.

Just what despicable web site was the young man viewing? Here’s fair warning before you read on… consider sending the children out of the room or at least shielding your eyes.

He was reading

According to reports, when the student, a senior, was caught scanning headlines on his video production teacher publicly berated and belittled him for reading the “wrong” news.

Thank goodness there are teachers like this all across America, protecting our children from the dangerous influences of the Internet.

Not. (Marybeth Hicks, Townhall)

Better water use could reduce future food crises - If the overall water resources in river basins were acknowledged and managed better, future food crises could be significantly reduced, say researchers from Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University, Stockholm Environment Institute and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

The challenge of meeting future water needs under the impacts of climate change and rapidly growing human demands for water may be less bleak than widely portrayed. An analysis by a team of Swedish and German scientists quantifies for the first time the opportunities of effectively using both “green” and “blue” water to adapt to climate change and to feed the future world population. The study was recently published in the journal “Water Resources Research”. (Vetenskapsrådet (The Swedish Research Council))

Science a slave to expediency - THE notion that human activity has an alarming influence on climate is based on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports and spurious claims about a scientific consensus.

Independent scientists who question these claims are accused of being in the pay of the energy industry and of believing that the notion of man-made climate change is a conspiracy.

To the best of my knowledge, no climate conspiracy has ever existed. But another force has driven science into its present parlous state where the output of computer software is held in higher regard than observational data, where marketing spin is more important than fact and evidence, and where a trenchant defence of the notion of man-made global warming is seen as paramount. (John McLean, The Australian)

Climate Science Rules - Over at the Register, Stu has an interview with Professor Mike Hulme:

Just two years ago, Mike Hulme would have been about the last person you’d expect to hear criticising conventional climate change wisdom. Back then, he was the founding director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, an organisation so revered by environmentalists that it could be mistaken for the academic wing of the green movement. Since leaving Tyndall - and as we found out in a telephone interview - he has come out of the climate change closet as an outspoken critic of such sacred cows as the UN’s IPCC, the “consensus”, the over-emphasis on scientific evidence in political debates about climate change, and to defend the rights of so-called “deniers” to contribute to those debates… (Climate Resistance)

At least they are beginning to admit they don't know Sol's effect on climate: Little Ice Age Unlikely, Scientists Say - Some media reports and headlines recently suggested that the sun's present lack of activity could lead to another Little Ice Age, but many solar scientists say that's unlikely.

Yes, the sun has been quiet lately, with very little magnetic activity on its surface; strong activity would be signified by dark patches called sunspots. Until recently, this was to be expected: The sun goes through roughly 11-year cycles, and 2008 was a predicted trough of activity.

But so far, the sun hasn't seemed to pick up in activity as predicted — sunspots were seen on only 12 of the first 90 days in 2009.

"This reluctance of the new cycle to start has me and others wondering if we might be headed toward a grand minimum where the sun stops producing spots for decades," said NASA solar physicist David Hathaway.

Still, Hathaway does not think this is going to lead to major global cooling, or anything that will significantly alter the trend toward global warming. (Clara Moskowitz,

A New Paper “Impact Of Historical Land Cover Change On Daily Indices Of Climate Extremes Including Droughts In Eastern Australia” By Deo Et Al 2009 - High quality research publications continue to appear which document that land use change is a first order climate forcing. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

Event Invitation: Considering the Human Influence on Climate - Remarks by Dr. Roger A. Pielke, Sr.

Thursday, May 14, 2009
Noon, Lunch provided

Army-Navy Club
901 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006

Please RSVP by calling
(202) 296-9655 or email

Climate change may not spur wildfires - Although rising global temperatures could lead to much drier trees and forests around the world, that may not necessarily translate to an increased risk for wildfires, according to a new study in this month's issue of Ecological Monographs.

This somewhat contradicts other recent research, most of which has identified a link between global warming and the increasing likelihood of wildfires, including studies from Science in 2006 (Study links extended wildfire seasons to global warming) as well as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 (Is Earth near its 'tipping points' from global warming?).

These studies indicated that wildfires in many parts of the world will increase over the next century as climate change lengthens the fire season, decreases moisture and increases ignition rates.

In this month's study, however, scientists found that changes in vegetation trumped past climate changes in determining wildfire frequency, based on research into Alaskan forests. For example, although the researchers discovered a transition from a cool, dry climate to a warm, dry climate some 10,500 years ago in Alaska, wildfires actually declined at that time because of a vegetation change from flammable shrubs to fire-resistant deciduous trees.

The research team analyzed historical fire occurrence by studying sediments found in the bottom of lakes.

"There's a complex relationship between fuels and climate," said study author Tom Brown of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif. "Vegetation can have a profound impact on fire occurrences that are opposite or independent of climate's direct influence on fire.

" If all we did was look at rising temperatures and ignore the vegetation in the area," he added, "that wouldn't be a good predictor of the likelihood of wildfires in a particular region."

Other scientists involved in the research were from Montana State University, the University of Washington, and the University of Illinois-Urbana. (USA Today)

Catastrophic Climate Future: Are We That Stupid? - Most of us have heard the predictions: the meltdown of Arctic sea ice and mountain-top glaciers; extinction of species ranging from polar bears to coral reefs; catastrophic sea level rise that could eventually force the relocation of millions of coastal residents. Heat waves, malnutrition and famine, and wildfires would also be a greater risk to human communities if carbon dioxide levels in Earth's atmosphere are allowed to rise too high.

Specifically, these could be the characteristics of a world where carbon dioxide has risen to 1,000 parts per million by 2100, as described this week in a Nature opinion essay by Stephen Schneider of Stanford University. (Currently carbon dioxide is at about 384 parst per million.)

Reaching this level of carbon dioxide by the end of the century was presented as a worst-case scenario if nothing is done to curtail emissions in a 2000 special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

But "it's not the worst-case scenario," Scheider now argues. "The worst-case scenario could be worse."

Until the economic downturn late last year, actual emissions have been higher than those in the IPCC scenario. So without any mitigation, "that's the track we're on now," Schneider told LiveScience.

Apparently the answer is "No" -- not stupid enough to be taken in by the catastrophists, at least:

Sorry, Al Gore, but Public Cares About the Economy, Not Global Warming - He admits that it's counterintuitive, but Gallup Poll Editor Frank Newport says he sees no evidence that Al Gore's campaign against global warming is winning. "It's just not caught on," says Newport. "They have failed." Or, more bluntly: "Any measure that we look at shows Al Gore's losing at the moment. The public is just not that concerned." What the public is worried about: the economy. Newport says the economy trumps the environment right now, a strong indicator that President Obama's bid to put a cap-and-trade pollution regime into operation isn't likely to be politically popular.

That's not to say people aren't passionate about the issue. But it's the direction of their passion that will disappoint Gore. Newport says that some 41 percent believe global warming claims are exaggerated, and "that's the highest we've seen." Ask people to name their biggest concerns, and just 1 percent to 2 percent cite the environment. "The environment doesn't show up at all," says Newport.

"It's Al Gore's greatest frustration," says Newport. "We seem less concerned than more about global warming over the years. . . . Despite the movies and publicity and all that, we're just not seeing it take off with the American public. And that was occurring even before the latest economic recession."

He adds: "As Al Gore I think would say, the greatest challenge facing humanity . . . has failed to show up in our data." (Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers)

Why America Does Not Care About Global Warming - It is clear that concern in the United States over global warming is diminishing. In a Washington Whispers editorial, Paul Bedard quotes a Gallup Poll editor as saying Al Gore’s campaign to raise awareness of the “climate crisis” has failed. In one recent Pew Research Center survey, global warming rated at the bottom of a list of 20 domestic issues that Americans are concerned about.

Why is there so much apathy in the U.S. over something that threatens to transform the world by killing off thousands of species, flooding coastal areas, and making the world as much as 10 degrees F hotter? Do we just not care about the environment? Has the global warming message been oversold? Is the public experiencing ‘global warming fatigue’? Does the global warming problem seem so insurmountable to people that they just want to ignore it and hope that it goes away?

From my travels around the country and talking to people, the largest source of apathy is none of these. In my experience, people simply do not believe the ‘scientific consensus’ is correct. Most people do believe the Earth has warmed, but they think that warming has been largely natural. This was recently supported by a Rasmussen Reports poll which showed only 1/3 of American voters now believe global warming is caused by humans.

How can non-experts question the opinion of scientific experts? I believe it is because the public seems to have a better appreciation than the scientists do of a fundamental truth: There are some problems that science does not yet understand. There have been predictions of environmental doom before, and those have all failed. This has made people suspicious of spectacular scientific claims. As I have mentioned before, even Mark Twain over 100 years ago made fun of the predilection scientists have for making grand extrapolations and pronouncements:

There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture from such a trifling investment of fact.” --Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883) (Roy W. Spencer)

Winners of Environmental Prize Warn of Climate Problems - Two American scientists have received a major environmental award, the Tyler Prize, for their work in tracing global warming and chronicling the effects of pollutants on the atmosphere and ice sheets.

Richard Alley of Penn State University has traced climate change through the record left in the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica.

Indian American scientist Veerabhadran Ramanathan of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography has studied the effects of pollutants in shifting precipitation patterns. He and his colleagues have shown that so-called brown clouds, caused by carbon and other pollutants, are partly responsible for reducing crop yields in India, while also harming human health. (VOA)

Oh dear... Climate deal will depend on others, so why not call Rudd and Wong's bluff? - Whether the Great Barrier Reef survives global warming is now up to China and the US, specifically presidents Hu Jintao and Barack Obama. That is one of the few clear messages this week from Kevin Rudd and Penny Wong's backflip on their tortured climate policy, now in its third version. (Marian Wilkinson, Sydney Morning Herald)

... the only way the GBR's survival depends on China and/or the US is if one or both those entities decides it's worth the effort and expense on nuking almost 3,000 individual reefs and nearly 1,000 islands spanning some 1,500 miles off Australia's Queensland coast. It's one BIG complex spanning from the equator beyond the Tropic of Capricorn, about 10 °C mean water temperature and about 100 meters of water depth. In the depths of the last ice age it was largely dried out (the inner lagoon was a dusty plain with scrub and kangaroos) but significant global warming since that desperate time has seen the reef complex thrive.

Jim Hansen calls Cap and Trade the “Temple of Doom” - Note: this letter from Dr. Jim Hansen of NASA GISS is reprinted below unedited, exactly in email as it was received by me, including the title below. You can reference a PDF version on his Columbia U page here I’ll have to agree with Dr. Hansen though, Cap and Trade is about the closest thing to the “Temple of Doom” our economy would face. No word yet from Harrison Ford if he’ll play Jim in the movie. What is most interesting is who he didn’t mention in the last paragraph.- Anthony (Watts Up With That?)

EPA Nominee Suggests New CO2 Rules May Expose Small Emitters - WASHINGTON -- New federal greenhouse gas emission regulation could expose a raft of smaller emitters to litigation, a nominee for a key post in the Environmental Protection Agency told lawmakers Thursday.

The potential for smaller emitters to be regulated under the Clean Air Act is one reason why business groups warn that EPA regulation of greenhouse gases could create a cascade of legal and regulatory challenges across a much broader array of sectors. The Obama administration has said that isn't their intent. (Wall Street Journal)

Waxman under fire on climate change - As the clock ticks on a self-imposed deadline, Rep. Henry Waxman is facing fire from all sides over his landmark measure to curb carbon emissions.

After months of haggling, he still doesn’t have a deal that moderates will support. On Wednesday, he had to back off his threat from a day earlier to skip a key subcommittee vote after members raised a ruckus. And, to top it all off, the president and others are breathing down his neck to wrap up work on climate change so that Waxman can turn his focus to the blockbuster fight of the summer over health care reform. (Politico)

GOP Looks to Halt Cap-and-Trade - Republicans are revving their engines in the cap-and-trade debate, trying to stymie legislation that will probably reach the House floor before Memorial Day. (Jillian Bandes, Townhall)

Climate Impacts of Waxman-Markey (the IPCC-based arithmetic of no gain) - Editor Note: Using mainstream models and assumptions, Mr. Knappenberger finds that in the year 2050 with a 83% emissions reduction (the aspirational goal of Waxman-Markey, the beginning steps of which are under vigorous debate), the temperature reduction is nine hundredths of one degree Fahrenheit, or two years of avoided warming. A more realistic climate bill would be a fraction of this amount. The author will respond to technical questions on methodology and results and invites input on alternative scenarios and analyses. (Chip Knappenberger, MasterResource)

Emissions retreat just so Napoleon - DESPITE the Government announcing it has backed away from early action to reduce carbon emissions, the Prime Minister's website continues to say, "The cost of inaction on climate change will be much greater than the cost of taking action now."

Like others working for Kevin Rudd, his website managers can't keep up with his policy changes. Costs of "inaction on climate change" have just assumed a new meaning. At the very least the PM, in postponing the carbon trading tax, is acknowledging that immediate measures to reduce emissions would be costlier than doing nothing.

But his proposed watering down of the already diluted proposals has all the hallmarks of Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. (Alan Moran, The Australian)

Poor innocents... China ready for post-Kyoto deal on climate change - Dramatic reversal in US position under Obama has brought Beijing to the table on emission cuts, says UK climate secretary

China is ready to abandon its resistance to limits on its carbon emissions and wants to reach an international deal to fight global warming, the Guardian has learned.

According to Britain's climate change secretary, Ed Miliband, who met senior officials in Beijing this week, China is ready to "do business" with developed countries to reach an agreement to replace the Kyoto treaty. (The Guardian)

Ed Miliband's global warming law 'could cost £20,000 per family' - Laws aimed at tackling global warming could cost every family in Britain a staggering £20,000 - double the original forecast.

Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband admitted the bill for introducing legislation to cut greenhouse gases had soared from £205billion to £404billion between now and 2050.

But in figures quietly released to Parliament, the Cabinet minister claimed the benefits to the UK would be more than £1trillion - a tenfold increase on the £110billion predicted last year.

Last night Mr Miliband was accused of entering 'Alice in Wonderland territory' with the figures in an attempt to stifle concern about the price of bringing in the Climate Change Act. (Ian Drury, Daily Mail)

Really? Feds: Mountain-dwelling pika may need protection - SALT LAKE CITY — A tiny mammal that can't handle warm weather could become the first animal in the lower 48 states to get Endangered Species Act protection primarily because of climate change.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, responding to a petition from environmentalists, said Wednesday that it will launch an in-depth review of the American pika and submit findings by Feb. 1, 2010.

The agency acknowledged that there's "substantial information" indicating that climate change may threaten the pikas' habitat and range.

"The service knows that climate change is real. It is the biggest conservation challenge of our time," said Diane Katzenberger, a Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman in Denver. (AP)

Another indoctrination campaign: ACE Launches Multi-Media High School Program On Climate Change - Lower Your Emissions, Raise Your Voice: Thousands of Bay Area Students Engage Locally in a Global Movement. ACE (Alliance for Climate Education) formally announced today the launch of a multi-media educational program aimed at educating and empowering students to address global climate change. (PRWEB)

Plug-In Hybrids: More Hype Than Hope? - Seattle has outfitted more than a dozen Toyota Prius hybrids with new plug-in technology to squeeze even better fuel efficiency from the eco-wonder.

City officials were intrigued by data suggesting they could cut their fuel consumption in half by using batteries charged directly from the grid. If claims are to be believed, drivers would routinely see 100 mpg using readily available battery packs installed in the trunk.

Just over a year after performing the conversions, the city says it is thrilled with the cars. The plug-in Prius hybrids have used less gas and emitted less CO2 than their conventional counterparts. But the tests also have put a big dent in the plug-in promise.

Having racked up some 17,000 miles, the plug-in Prius hybrids are averaging just 51 mpg. That's raising uncomfortable questions about the value and effectiveness of plug-in technology, even as President Obama pledges to have 1 million of them on the road by 2015.

"Getting 51 miles per gallon sounds fine compared to most gas cars," railed Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat. "But it's a black eye for a technology that trumpets it will get twice that." (Wired)

Biodiesel from wastes commended by EPA, not so for soy-based fuel - Life cycle analysis of Greenhouse gas (GHG) for biodiesel is a new part of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) and, under the proposed parameters established by U.S. EPA, biodiesel made from waste vegetable oils or yellow grease is among the top performing environmental fuels. The National Biodiesel Board, the American Soybean Association and others, however, think the EPA proposed ruling for the implementation of RFS2 is potentially damaging to soy and virgin vegetable oil-based biodiesel. “I think it’s wonderful that waste grease performs so well under this ruling,” said Charles Neece of FUMPA BioFuels in Redwood Falls, Minn. “But it seems like they aren’t giving us any other options.” (Nicholas Zeman, Biodiesel Magazine)

May 6, 2009

Hyping hysteria - The alliance between politicians, their supporters with agendas and the news media is an unholy union, one that does not need elaborate conspiracies to consummate. Hysteria and alarmism in the news is a business-driven matrimony and, in spite of proclamations of safeguarding the public's right to know, it has little to do with knowing the truth.

For us westerners our press was supposed to be one of the main institutions that separated us from the rest of the world, made us be smug about the superiority of our political system. It was supposed to be different from totalitarian regimes where the press expresses no opinions other than the party line. Our newspapers and TV were supposed to be unbiased and objective.

But the situation today has become pitiful. It may be because of the evolution of the internet and the collapse of the traditional press; it may also be because pop culture has changed and the press is feeding on it. As William Allen White, the father of the American regional newspaper once said: "a newspaper is as good as the community it serves."

Tarting the news, mixing gossip and the salacious with serious issues, has destroyed much of the high road. It is hard to find common ground between Hollywood theatrics (and any pretensions of social concerns) with war and economics. Still, this can be shrugged off. Nobody forces one to read a particular newspaper and the TV channel changer is one of the most powerful tools of modern freedom.

Where the press has become dangerous, a disastrous influence, is the almost universal inkling towards alarmism, where the hysterias it spawns and the responses to them, grossly outweigh the dangers from the "crises" in the first place. It sells and, used by politicians, wins them elections and advances hidden agendas.

The latest, the swine flu, came in as an enormous dragon; just a week later it was reduced to a mere lion. Most probably it will go out as mouse, not even as a lamb.

Echoes of another flu scare, this one in 1976, when the US Congress mandated the vaccination of every citizen: 25 people died from the vaccine, one died from the flu.

The list of politicians/press-fomented scares is endless. (Michael J. Economides, American Thinker)

Flu virus cases may rise in southern hemisphere - HONG KONG - The new H1N1 flu virus is expected to surge in coming months in the southern hemisphere when the winter season begins, health experts said, calling for continued vigilance even if the virus appears to be mild.

Influenza viruses thrive in colder months. Winter is also a time when flu infections surge because people tend to crowd around in poorly ventilated settings.

"Yes, it is quite possible that more cases will be seen in the southern hemisphere as winter comes, that's really just starting now," said Bill Rawlinson, head of virology at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney, Australia.

"It does appear mild but every year in Australia, we have 1,500 to 3,000 deaths due to flu. When you get a new strain, even if it may not be as fatal as H5N1, it is still a serious event and you do see an excess of deaths due to new strains because people don't have immunity," he told Reuters by telephone. (Reuters)

Mexico says new flu no more deadly than usual flu - MEXICO CITY - The new flu virus that has killed dozens of people in Mexico is not more deadly than regular seasonal flu and does not appear to be more contagious, Mexico's top epidemiologist said on Monday.

At least 26 people have died in Mexico since a swine flu epidemic swept through the country and quickly spread around the globe. Scientists are still wondering why only one person outside Mexico, a Mexican toddler in Texas, has died.

The answer may be that the virus is not especially deadly, and Mexico was hard hit because the virus appeared there so much earlier than in other countries, catching Mexico off guard, said Dr. Miguel Angel Lezana, who is the head of the country's national disease alert center. (Reuters)

Why I'm Not Afraid of the Swine Flu - This week, we're supposed to be scared to death of coming down with the swine flu, but Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said we shouldn't call it that because it hurts the feeling of the pigs -- just like we're not supposed to use the word "terror" anymore, because it hurts the feelings of the jihadists.

Joe Biden almost single handedly wrecked the airline and mass transit system by telling a national audience none of the public conveyances were safe. Of course, his staff had to issue their daily clarification or apology later. He's giving a new meaning to the phrase: "Say it ain't so, Joe. Say it ain't so!"

I fly on planes about five days a week. I shake lots of hands, lots of hands. I meet lots of people, lots of people. I do wash my hands and use sanitizer frequently, but I'm not in a panic and I'll tell you why:

Before Joe Biden told us to be afraid of the flu, an average of 100 Americans a day died from the regular old flu. That's right, without even the attention the media is giving to this strain, flu was serious, especially to babies, old people, or sick people who already had weak immune systems. Other people lived, but they just didn't feel like they would. (Mike Huckabee,

Number of Swine Flu Cases Approaches 1,500 Worldwide - The World Health Organization said Tuesday that the number of confirmed swine influenza A-H1N1 cases worldwide is close to 1,500, marking an increase of more than 400 infections since the day before. Thirty people around the world have died from the disease. In the United States, health officials are no longer recommending that schools close because of swine flu. (VOA)

Officials Confirm Second U.S. Swine Flu Death - Health authorities today reported a second death in the United States from swine flu -- a woman in south Texas -- even as the federal government rescinded its recommendation that schools shut down if they have any suspected cases of the virus.

The Texas Department of State Health Services announced this afternoon that a woman from Cameron County, the southernmost county in the state, died earlier this week after contracting swine flu. It said she had "chronic underlying health conditions" but did not elaborate or provide any other details on the woman. (Washington Post)

Health Officials Begin to Ease Public Alerts About Swine Flu - Closing schools once a student falls ill with swine flu may no longer be worth the toll on students and families, because the illness will soon be present almost everywhere in the country and few cases have been severe, federal health authorities said Monday. (New York Times)

Hog prices rise as swine flu worries abate - MILWAUKEE — Prices for U.S. hogs and shares of the nation's largest hog and pork producer all soared Tuesday as concern about the international swine flu outbreak seemed to abate, relieving investors' fears that pork consumption would slump.

The trade group representing the nation's pork producers nonetheless asked the federal government to buy up $50 million in pork products to help bolster pricing, saying the industry is incurring accelerating losses due to the outbreak and dwindling exports.

The rise in prices for pork futures and shares of Smithfield Foods erased drops last week when investors worried about pork consumption plunging.

U.S. health officials have said the H1N1 virus, which causes swine flu, can not be contracted by eating properly cooked pork. The virus is transmitted among people, not from pigs or pork to humans, officials have said.

But the industry has noted consumption drops and closed export markets as countries and consumers grew leery of pork. (AP)

Obesity and the Fastness of Food - Yesterday, in posting some of the data from the Organization for Economic and Cooperative Development’s Society at a Glance report, I noted that the French spent the most time per day eating, but had one of the lowest obesity rates among developed nations.

Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.

Here I’ve plotted out the relationship between time the average person in a given country spends eating and that country’s obesity rate (as measured by the percentage of the national population with a body mass index higher than 30). (New York Times)

So, um... it's easier to starve where food service is poorest (slowest)?

Arrgh! Australia may pay for obesity surgery: report - MELBOURNE — Australia is considering government-funded lap-band surgery to curb rising rates of obesity, it was reported.

The plan would see taxpayers pick up the bill for the surgery, which involves attaching a band around the entrance to the stomach so patients feel full after eating only a little food, the Herald Sun newspaper reported.

It said a parliamentary inquiry was set to back the move next week after hearing evidence that the surgery could help obese patients lose up to 60 percent of their body weight.

The plan would reduce the burden placed on the public health system through weight-related conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, the newspaper reported. (AFP)

Oops... Energy-Efficient Lightbulbs Poison Hundreds of Chinese Workers - Chinese workers making energy-saving fluorescent lightbulbs for Western consumers have been sickened by the hundreds due to mercury poisoning.

While poor factory conditions in China shoulder most of the blame, the news does raise serious questions about just how “green” the mercury-rich fluorescent lightbulbs actually are. (Bryan Nelson, EcoWorldly)

The assault on useful compounds continues unabated: Experts Mull Global Ban On Commercial Chemicals - GENEVA - Experts and officials from some 150 countries started talks on Monday on banning production of nine chemicals considered potentially dangerous but still used in farming and for other commercial purposes.

If agreement is reached at the week-long meeting, under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the nine will join a list of 12 other so-called persistent organic pollutants, or POPS, long targeted for elimination. (Reuters)

Oh... Edmonton MP calls for global phase-out of chemical pesticide - OTTAWA - Linda Duncan, New Democrat Environment Critic, today called on Canada to support a full phase-out of the chemical pesticide lindane at international negotiations which begin in Geneva today.

“Lindane is dangerous, but we still slather it on children’s heads to kill lice, although other countries have been using safer alternatives for years. It is contaminating the environment, food and bodies of our Northern peoples,” said Duncan.

The fourth Conference of the Parties of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) meets May 4-8. The treaty sets targets for global phase outs of a number of toxic chemicals that build up in the food supply and accumulate in the tissue of humans and other animals. These toxic chemicals, persist in the environment for years, and travel the globe on wind and water currents.

“A key focus of the Geneva meeting will be adding other pollutants to the original list of 12 POPs,” said Duncan. “Lindane must be a priority.” (AlbertaTalks)

INTERVIEW - Arctic Thaw May Slow Crackdown On Toxic Chemicals - OSLO - A thaw of the Arctic linked to global warming may slow a drive to get rid of industrial chemicals that are harming indigenous people and wildlife, an expert said on Monday.

About 150 nations are meeting in Geneva this week to consider adding nine chemicals, including pesticides and flame retardants, to a "Dirty Dozen" banned by a 2001 UN pact partly inspired by worries about the fragile Arctic environment.

But an Arctic melt may be complicating the clean-up even though levels of some of the "dirty dozen" chemicals are falling in the region, said Lars-Otto Reiersen, Executive Secretary of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP). (Reuters)

Roads kill more than malaria, ignored by NGOs - ROME - More people die from traffic accidents than from malaria each year in the developing world but the problem of road safety is being ignored by aid groups and international institutions, a report said on Tuesday.

The study, entitled "Make Roads Safe: A Decade of Action for Road Safety," concluded that $300 million spent globally on improving roads, campaigns to raise public awareness, and more traffic police could save 5 million lives between 2010 and 2020.

At present, 1.3 million people die a year from traffic accidents globally, most of them in mid- to low-income countries. That is forecast to climb to 1.9 million by 2020.

"Aid agencies, development NGOs, philanthropic foundations and key international institutions continue to neglect or ignore this rapidly growing problem," the report said. (Reuters)

New Pesticide Could Hurt Honeybees, Groups Claim - MANHATTAN - Even as honeybees suffer widespread mortality from a mysterious disease, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved a new pesticide, spirotetramat, despite evidence that it could "cause serious harm to bees," the Natural Resources Defense Council says in Federal Court. (Courthouse News Service)

NZ: Carter rejects pesticide ban - Agriculture Minister David Carter has rejected a call to ban pesticides which put bees in jeopardy.

Green MP Sue Kedgley yesterday urged the Government to follow the European Union in phasing out pesticides that kill bees. But that would be impractical, Mr Carter said.

"Prohibiting all pesticides capable of killing bees would expose farmers and growers to the risk of significant crop losses," he said. (NZPA)

China's smoking stimulus: No butts: Officials to smoke or be fined - Officials in a county in central China have been told to smoke nearly a quarter of a million packs of locally made cigarettes annually or risk being fined, state media reports.

The Gong'an county government in Hubei province has ordered its staff to puff their way through 230,000 packs of Hubei-produced cigarette brands a year, the Global Times said.

Departments that fail to meet their targets will be fined, the report said.

"The regulation will boost the local economy via the cigarette tax," said Chen Nianzu, a member of the Gong'an cigarette market supervision team, according to the paper.

The measure could also be a ploy to aid local cigarette brands such as Huanghelou, which are under severe pressure from competitors in neighbouring Hunan province, according to the paper.

China has 350 million smokers, of whom a million die of smoking-related diseases every year.

More than half of all male doctors in China smoke, but the Government is now trying harder to get them to kick the habit in order to set an example for others. (AFP)

Higher fees to clean storm-water runoff are necessary - The City Council delayed a vote on the increase, but the public has to be educated on the need for pollution abatement.

Last week, the city of Los Angeles decided to postpone asking voters to pay higher fees to clean storm-water runoff. Given the economy -- and the recent failure of Measure B, a solar energy initiative -- the decision to not rush the vote was probably wise. But we can't put off raising fees forever. (LA Times)

New bottle deposit, bag tax bills touted for combating pollution - House Democrats introduced two bills yesterday aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions and curbing toxic pollution by requiring a 5-cent deposit on beverage containers and imposing a 5-cent tax on single-use plastic bags from grocery stores and other retailers.

Citing climate change concerns, Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Jim Moran (D-Va.) reintroduced legislation that would establish a national 5-cent deposit on plastic water bottles and other beverage containers. Markey, the chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, first introduced the "Bottle Recycling Climate Protection Act" in 2007.

Markey pointed to the energy and oil used in making plastic bottles in an attempt to rally support for the legislation this time around. "A national bottle bill can help America quench its thirst for imported oil," he said in a statement. "We can still have carbon dioxide in our fizzy drinks, while cutting down on heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere."

He also suggested the bill would encourage large-scale recycling of cans and metal and plastic beverage containers, giving the aluminum and glass industries easy access to cheap materials. (Greenwire)

Groups: Fermi 3 nuclear plant would create pollution - MONROE -- Environmental groups told federal regulators today that a new Fermi 3 nuclear plant is not needed and would cause new air and water pollution. That includes warm water and phosphorus that could add to algae blooms already happening in recent summers in western Lake Erie.

They’re also concerned about the destruction of wetlands and seven threatened or endangered species that live on the site where the new plant would be built, including the Eastern fox snake. (Free Press)

For Old Drugs, New Tricks - Advice Veers Away From Flushing Unused Pills - At the Leesburg Pharmacy, located in a Loudoun County strip mall, a big, round fish tank sits atop the prescription counter. There are no fish inside, not even any water: The tank is a repository for unused medications. People can drop off the Vicodin that didn't get used once the pain of a root canal subsided. Or the heart pills remaining after a grandmother's death. Or an asthma inhaler that had passed its expiration date. Or an antidepressant that turned out to have unpleasant side effects.

Once a week, the tank is emptied; the drugs are packed in cartons by pharmacy personnel and ultimately incinerated by a commercial waste firm.

"Our customers are thrilled because they had no idea what else to do with this stuff," said Cheri Garvin, chief executive of the employee-owned pharmacy.

These are customers who are trying to do the responsible thing. Over the years, Americans have been alerted to the dangers of a lot of problematic waste materials -- paint thinner, batteries, air conditioners. But leftover pills can seem so small, so easily disposable, that many people routinely flush them down toilets, wash them down sinks or throw them in trash that goes to a landfill.

And then they often end up in places where they shouldn't be, like the public water supply. (Washington Post)

Inuit hunters criticise EU over seal products ban - A Canadian Inuit delegation will make an eve-of-vote appeal to MEPs to reconsider plans for an EU ban on the commercial trade and importation of seal products.

The Inuit delegation, from Canada's Nunavut territory will have face-to-face meetings with MEPs ahead of Tuesday's plenary vote in Strasbourg, where deputies are expected to overwhelmingly back the ban.

Despite a limited exemption in the proposals aimed at protecting traditional hunting communities, the Inuit delegation are convinced that the wider scope of the ban will render the exemption meaningless. (The Parliament)

Climate Experts Warn That Short-Term Snapshots Of Temperature Data Can Be Misleading: Focus Instead On The Bigger Picture — In the hotly debated arena of global climate change, using short-term trends that show little temperature change or even slight cooling to refute global warming is misleading, write two climate experts in a paper recently published by the American Geophysical Union — especially as the long-term pattern clearly shows human activities are causing the earth’s climate to heat up.

Measured changes in global temperature show ups and downs, with some periods of a decade or more defying the long-term trend.
(Credit: Graphs provided by the authors, published by the AGU)

In their paper “Is the climate warming or cooling?” David R. Easterling of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center and Michael Wehner of the Computational Research Division at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory note that a number of publications, websites and blogs often cite decade-long climate trends, such as that from 1998-2008, in which the earth’s average temperature actually dropped slightly, as evidence that the global climate is actually cooling.

However, Easterling and Wehner write, the reality of the climate system is that, due to natural climate variability, it is entirely possible, even likely, to have a period as long as a decade or two of “cooling” superimposed on the longer-term warming trend. The problem with citing such short-term cooling trends is that it can mislead decision-makers into thinking that climate change does not warrant immediate action. The article was published April 25 in Geophysical Research Letters. (ScienceDaily)

Actually we agree with them but why limit themselves to such a trivial time series? Here's a much better one:

Too long? Maybe they'd prefer just the last 1,000 years or so from Greenland ice cores?

Gosh! Looks a lot like long-term cooling trends over 1,000 & 3,000 years, huh? They are so right -- short-term trends can be so misleading.

Review of the Congressional Budget Office “The Expected Impacts of Climate Change in the United States” by Roger A. Pielke Sr. January 14 2009 - The Congressional Budget Office release a report yesterday (May 4 2009) titled “Potential Impacts of Climate Change in the United States” (see for the full report).

In January 2009, I was asked to review the draft version of the report. Unfortunately, however, the report did not discuss the major substantive issues that I raised. While I was pleased to see land use change elevated to a first order forcing, the report, despite recognizing major remaining uncertainties with respect to our ability to skillfully predict the future climate, the report still perpetuates the erroneously narrow view of the IPCC and CCSP reports. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

Have Changes In Ocean Heat Falsified The Global Warming Hypothesis? - A Guest Weblog by William DiPuccio - Climate Science encourages guest weblogs from all perspectives of the climate science issue. Following is a guest weblog by William DiPuccio, who, although not a published climate scientist, has provided a view on the global warming discussion which is worth reading. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

They wish... US climate change denier James Inhofe joins Al Gore in fight against soot - In a surprise U-turn, the Republican senator has put forward a bill to review the dangers of black carbon to health and the environment

He has called global warming a hoax, compared the Environmental Protection Agency with the Gestapo, and over the years dismissed Al Gore as desperate and "full of crap". So it was startling when America's arch climate change denier came out ahead of the green curve in the fight to save the Arctic and other icy regions.

Could James Inhofe, a conservative Republican senator from Oklahoma, be the newest recruit to Barack Obama's green revolution? (The Guardian)

Gallup Poll Editor: Al Gore Is Losing Global Warming Debate - Any measure that we look at shows Al Gore's losing at the moment. The public is just not that concerned.

So said Gallup Poll editor Frank Newport about the Nobel Laureate's campaign to convince Americans that man's carbon dioxide emissions are destroying the planet. (Noel Sheppard, NewsBusters)

Rightly so because it is not "a debate" but rather an absurd and baseless scare.

Has the global sea ice decline stopped? - These are good times to be a climate change skeptic.

The planet has not shown substantial warming for a decade now. The Gore Effect seems to be holding. Some glaciers are advancing. And the Arctic Sea ice appears to have halted its decline, if only temporarily. (Eric Berger, SciGuy)

Has there ever been a good time to be a skeptic? Mostly it's very depressing, ranging from incredulity that people can be so easily frightened by trivial alleged change through to despair that they can. When and how is that good?

Worse, North demonstrates the model-dependency of current 'researchers', concerned not with what is really happening but what make-believe PlayStation® realms say might be (but only if the world can be constrained to the bizarre assumptions of modelers).

Meanwhile governments around the world are attempting to visit great harms on their citizens in the name of 'protecting us' from the imaginary menace.

How is this a good time to be a climate skeptic?

“Is The U.S. Surface Temperature Record Reliable?” By Anthony Watts - Anthony Watts, author of the weblog Watts Up With That, has completed an outstanding, clearly written report that documents a major problem with the use of the United States Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) to assess multi-decadal surface temperature trends. The report is Watts, A. 2009: Is the U.S. Surface Temperature Record Reliable? 28 pages, March 2009 The Heartland Institute. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

Critic proves Plimer, er, right - When Professor Mike Sandiford can write this in rebuttal, I’m even more convinced the case for warming alarmism is shonky: (Andrew Bolt Blog)

From CO2 Science this week:

Nine Years of Soil Carbon and Nitrogen Relations in the Duke Forest FACE Study: What has been learned about tree growth, soil carbon sequestration, and the role of nitrogen?

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week:
Was there a Medieval Warm Period? YES, according to data published by 699 individual scientists from 408 separate research institutions in 40 different countries ... and counting! This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from Pilkington Bay, Lake Victoria, East Africa. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary:
Solar Influence on Temperature (Northern Hemisphere): How strong has it been in the past? ... and might it be responsible for Earth's recent warming?

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Mediterranean Fan Palm (Pardo et al. 2009), Rice (Shimano and Bunce 2009), Soybean (Kretzschmar et al. 2009), and Wheat (Levine et al. 2008).

Journal Reviews:
Climate Change and North Atlantic Storminess: A study of sand drift and dune development along western European coasts provides a means by which to infer future trends in storminess if the world warms.

The Climatic History of the European North Atlantic Seaboard: What does it reveal about our current level of warmth?

A New-and-Improved 457-Year History of ENSO Variability: What does it reveal about the behavior of the phenomenon over the course of the Little Ice Age-to-Current Warm Period transition?

Finnish Bird Responses to Global Warming: Are they responding as predicted by climate alarmists?

Aquatic Herbivores in a CO2-Enriched World of the Future: Will they fare as well as they do today? (

US Says Wants To Cut Potent HFC Greenhouse Gases - WASHINGTON - The United States intends to work toward reducing emissions of potent greenhouse gases found in refrigerators and air conditioning systems but has not yet decided which international venue to use to advance the issue, US officials said on Monday.

In a letter to a UN agency, the US State Department said hydrofluorocarbons, known as HFCs, "pose a very significant further threat to the climate system because of their high global warming potentials." (Reuters)

Climate Law, Dumping Hurts Industry - US Steelmakers - NEW YORK - The US steel industry, hard hit by the global recession, urged Washington Monday to enforce trade laws against foreign dumping and warned THAT climate change legislation will further hurt domestic steelmakers. (Reuters)

Global Warming Scam estimated to cost each U.S. Family $6,400 per year, more for other countries. - Some Recent Estimates Of The Costs Associated With Green Power And Emissions Trading Legislation. . . . (Robert M. Carter, Right Side News)

Deadly Duo of Obama-Gore Deceit on Cap and Trade - The art of government is the organization of idolatry: George Bernard Shaw

To establish and maintain idolatry you must have someone do the dirty work. President Obama may claim he didn’t want idolatry but he did nothing to dampen excessive expectations fuelled by what conservative commentator Bernie Goldberg called slobbering of the mainstream media. He raised his own bar when he set out very precise definitions of openness and transparency for his administration.

A Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies issued by the White house says, My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration.

Notice this only applies to the Executive Branch Departments as division of powers in the US Constitution requires. This means the Congress is not bound by this dictum and so the Democratic majority in Congress can do the dirty work. The need to get the Cap and Trade policy through is a case in point. It’s essential to Obama’s plan to control carbon and energy, but also to provide over $625 billion of revenue for his budget. (Others say $634 billion, but what’s a billion here or there?) (Tim Ball, CFP)

On GE and Cap & Trade:

Is Carbon Trading or Cap and Trade Dying On The Vine?  - One of the Obama proposals to fight global warming and climate change may be up against the ropes. This is emissions trading, or what the media calls “cap and trade.” There are many who consider this type of emissions trading to be the Holy Grail, and there are many who claim it does nothing other than create a business expense or hidden tax. It could represent a huge new market for the IntercontinentalExchange, Inc. and the CME Group Inc., as well as Climate Exchange plc) as the owner of the Chicago Climate Exchange. Climate Exchange plc is an AIM listed company which owns the world’s leading environmental exchanges.

We think that it is probably too early to call “cap & trade” a dead idea. But what is looking more likely is that at best what will be headed to a Congressional vote is a greatly watered-down version of cap & trade. If a watered-down version does not come first, then we have many reasons to believe that this may be an issue to debate in 2011 rather than 2009.

The Australians have been thought of as being more economical and sensible on this issue than Americans, and now they appear to be struggling with cap and trade issue. The Australian government has now delayed its carbon emissions trading plan to 2010 after industry demands and pressure for more relief during a recession. (24/7 Wall Street)

Rep. Waxman hits back on climate change - Rep. Henry Waxman, fresh out of a White House meeting with President Obama on Tuesday, pushed back against those who have suggested climate change legislation might need to be put on the backburner.

Waxman (D-Calif.) said his Energy and Commerce Committee expects to mark up a climate change bill by the Memorial Day recess and present a bill for Obama’s signature by the end of the year. He also said Obama is fully supportive of that timetable. (The Hill)

Western Republicans rip climate change bill - Democrats say their climate change bill will reduce harmful emissions and create a boom in green-collar jobs that will help power the economy in the years to come.

But Western Republicans, led by Utah Rep. Rob Bishop, don't buy it. They held a news conference Tuesday to rail against what Bishop calls "government-dictated green jobs," which they argue will be unsustainable in the long run.

"Some of those jobs are as real as the Jolly Green Giant: it is a great ad concept, but it doesn't exist," Bishop said.

Fervent Republican opposition, combined with the reticence of conservative Democrats like Utah's Jim Matheson, has thrown into question whether President Barack Obama and House Democrats can deliver a major climate bill this year, as they have promised. Their legislation caps emissions and allows lower-polluting companies to sell their carbon credits to higher-polluting companies, known as a cap and trade system. (Salt Lake Tribune)

Australia carbon plan vital before Copenhagen: U.N. panel - NEW DELHI - Australia needs to declare its commitment to cut carbon emissions before the Copenhagen summit in December or risk weakening the outcome of global climate talks, the head of the U.N. climate panel said Monday.

Australia announced a one-year delay an major changes to its carbon trading plans Monday, citing the global economic recession for the need to delay the start date until July 2011 but the country may raise its target for cutting emissions.

"If you have even one or two developed countries not showing adequate commitment in this business, that would rub off on the others," R.K. Pachauri chairman of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"I think what's going to be critically important is that what it is going to do is announced before Copenhagen," he added. (Reuters)

It has been declared, Chucky, it plain ain't happening. Clear enough for you?

<chuckle> ANALYSIS - Australia's Tougher CO2 Target Good For Climate Talks - SINGAPORE - Australia has given UN climate talks a boost by saying it could toughen emissions targets by 2020, something developing countries want from richer nations as the world tries to seal a broader climate pact.

But the government also bowed to industry demands as it announced on Monday a delay to the start of emissions trading by a year until July 2011, raising doubts that fighting climate change was still top of the political agenda amid a recession. (Reuters)

At a guess that'd be the "K.Rudd says a lot of things, none of which will ever be attempted" "tougher target"?

Rudd’s warming fraud squad - WHY trust one more word from the professional fear-mongers of this spin-crazy Government?

Kevin Rudd’s decision to delay his emissions trading scheme for at least a year exposes his most brazen deceit.

For two years the Prime Minister and his crew warned there was not a day - an hour - to lose to save the planet from apocalyptic global warming.

So terrible was the cost of delay that if we didn’t back Rudd’s scheme to tax business tens of billions of dollars for emitting carbon dioxide right now we’d fry in hell or drown in red ink.

Bye bye the Reef. Good night Kakadu.

Remember their scares? (Andrew Bolt Blog)

Negotiations over rejigged emissions plan - THE calls started weeks ago and the covert trips to Canberra were made when Parliament was not sitting, when there were not as many people watching who was meeting whom.

The Minister for Climate Change, Penny Wong, started calling the heads of business, industry, unions and the environment movement looking for even a hint that they might support some kind of rejigged emissions trading system.

But it was not until last week that the final deal was nutted out and as late as Sunday night that the revised package was finalised. For business groups, the carrot was the year-long delay to the scheme's start date as well as a drastically reduced carbon price.

Treasury modelling assumed a price of $23 a tonne. Instead, on offer was a sale price worthy of any recession clear-out: a reduction of more than 50 per cent to $10 a tonne.

Things were harder for the three environment groups the Government was most confident it could bargain with: the Australian Conservation Foundation, WWF and the Climate Institute. (Stephanie Peatling, Sydney Morning Herald)

K.Rudd et al think they can negotiate with the greenies? They are even worse than we thought.

Australian carbon plan looks like key election issue - CANBERRA - Australia's prime minister offered a truce to both big business and greens on Monday over his hotly contested plan to cut carbon emissions, but hostilities are far from over and may end up running to the next election.

Kevin Rudd announced carbon trading would be delayed by 12 months to July 2011 and that big-polluting exporters would receive more compensation to help them adjust, citing the need to help business already dealing with global recession.

He also held out the prospect of tougher emission-reduction targets in the long term, as a gesture to the Greens party whose support he may need to push his amended plan through parliament.

But the reactions from both industry and the Greens on Monday showed Rudd was no closer to securing the political support required to push the carbon laws through the upper house Senate. In the end, Rudd pleased neither business nor green groups. (Reuters)

NZ Emissions Trade Scheme could be delayed - New Zealand Emissions Trade Scheme (ETS) may face further delays as Australia puts off the start date of its related legislation.

Prime Minister John Key told reporters it made sense for the New Zealand and Australian schemes to be aligned. (NZPA)

Book review: A load of hot air

A Blueprint for a Safer Planet: How to Manage Climate Change and Create a new Era of Progress and Prosperity
Nicholas Stern
Bodley Head, 246pp, £16.99

As a general rule, I do not believe in reviewing bad books. Review space is limited, and the many good books that are published deserve first claim on it. But climate change is such an important subject, and — thanks to heavy promotion by that great publicist, Tony Blair — the Stern Review of the economics of climate change has become so well known (not least to the vast majority who have never read it, among whom in all probability is Mr Blair), that anything from Lord Stern deserves some attention.

However, anyone looking for anything new in this rather arrogant book — all those who dissent from Stern’s analysis, his predictions, or his prescriptions are dismissed as ‘both ignorant and reckless’ (the word ‘ignorant’ recurs frequently) — will be disappointed. The first half of the book is a rehash of the original Stern Review, and the second half a rehash of his lengthy 2008 LSE study Key Elements of a Global Deal on Climate Change. This last is an exercise in political naivety which does not improve on its second outing; and the European Union leadership trumpeted by Stern (‘We can expect the EU and its member countries to continue to drive forward action on climate change’) has already collapsed with the back-tracking at the EU climate summit last December, after this book went to press. (Nigel Lawson, The Spectator)

Oh... Sugar coated consumerism or just plain crap? - I’m truly sorry for the title, but it says what I think about this succinctly. I tried half a dozen variations and kept coming back to the one word.

There are days when I think I just won’t see anything stupider cross my inbox. Then, today brings a new surprise on the winds of change. Carbon Free Sugar. Let me repeat that. Carbon Free Sugar - certified even. (Watts Up with That?)

Web providers must limit internet's carbon footprint, say experts - Soaring online demand stretching companies' ability to deliver content as net uses more power and raises costs

The internet's increasing appetite for electricity poses a major threat to companies such as Google, according to scientists and industry executives.

Leading figures have told the Guardian that many internet companies are struggling to manage the costs of delivering billions of web pages, videos and files online – in a "perfect storm" that could even threaten the future of the internet itself.

"In an energy-constrained world, we cannot continue to grow the footprint of the internet … we need to rein in the energy consumption," said Subodh Bapat, vice-president at Sun Microsystems, one of the world's largest manufacturers of web servers. (The Guardian)

Car ads 'should carry climate health warnings' - MP Colin Challen accuses motor manufacturers of not telling whole truth in green claims

JCar adverts should carry prominent climate change "health warnings" akin to those on cigarette packets, according to a Labour MP who is critical of the government's progress on climate change legislation.

Colin Challen MP, who is chair of the all-party climate change group, said that government warnings on car ads might force car companies to be more "honest". He said many cars are promoted as being "greener" when they are actually environmentally damaging.

He said the car industry was spending £800m a year on UK advertising prior to the recession, while the government's public education campaign ActOnCO2 cost just £12m over three years. "It's no contest," said Challen, writing in an online comment piece for the Guardian. He added that it is "wholly counter-intuitive to expect people to change their behaviour when most of the daily messages they receive tell them it's business as usual".

Car promotions should carry climate change message, said Challen, who is a member of the Commons Energy and Climate Change select committee. "You maybe have 25 or 35% of the space of any promotional material given over to a health warning. These warnings would be graded depending on the emissions from the vehicle, with the worst gas-guzzlers carrying the most severe warnings. "It would have to counter the impression given by some manufacturers that their vehicles are greener," Challen added. (The Guardian)

Survey: Execs say energy independence is unrealistic - A newly released survey states what energy industry insiders have been saying all along: Energy independence is a farce.

KPMG LLP’s Global Energy Institute released its annual energy survey this week. It polled 382 oil and gas executives in April, more than three-quarters of whom said energy independence is not attainable by 2030 or beyond.

Despite the fact that America’s energy consumption far outpaces its production, the survey — sent out to petroleum executives only — seemed to focus on energy independence as it pertains to renewables and alternatives.

“Despite the increased focus on domestic energy sources, energy infrastructure and alternative energy sources, a realistic assessment of technology and investment in the industry suggests energy independence is not realistic for at least two decades,” said Bill Kimble, executive director of the Global Energy Institute. “The executives’ perceptions of energy independence mirror their views on the viability of alternatives in the near-term as well.”

Some 52 percent of the executives said mass production of any alternative energy sources by 2015 would not be viable. In the 2008 survey that number was 54 percent; two years ago it was 60 percent. (San Antonio Business Journal)

FEATURE - Gas Drillers Battle Pennsylvania Pollution Concerns - HICKORY - US energy companies rushing to exploit Pennsylvania's massive natural gas reserves have launched a public relations campaign to calm fears the bonanza is contaminating water with toxic chemicals.

Drillers are holding public meetings to assure people the chemicals used to help extract gas from Pennsylvania's majority share of the Marcellus Shale cannot escape into drinking-water wells.

Though scientists have yet to find definitive evidence that drilling chemicals have seeped into ground water, there are dozens of anecdotal reports from around the state that water supplies in gas-production areas have been tainted.

The public outcry threatens to impede exploitation of the 44-million-acre (18-million-hectare) Marcellus Shale, which geologists say might contain enough natural gas to meet US demand for a decade. (Reuters)

Biofuels firms brace for impact of new EPA rules - SAN FRANCISCO, May 5 - Start-up biofuels companies say new regulations from Washington could have a big impact on which technologies prosper in a U.S. push for cleaner energy, and they are preparing to make their voices heard.

The Environmental Protection Agency unveiled on Tuesday a new draft Renewable Fuels Standard that accounts for overall carbon dioxide emissions, kicking off a long-awaited process that will let everyone involved have a say. (Reuters)

Energy bill to include plan offering cash for gas guzzlers - Obama and House Democrats agree to include payments for drivers who scrap older cars for more fuel-efficient models, but can't reach a deal on softening the impact of limiting greenhouse emissions. (LA Times)

EPA Proposes Changes To Biofuel Regulations - The Obama administration waded deeper into climate regulation yesterday, proposing new standards for alternative motor fuels and setting off a debate among ethanol producers and environmentalists about scientific assumptions that could be worth billions of dollars to industry.

The Environmental Protection Agency's proposed regulations are designed to curtail greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change and to make sure that alternative fuels, such as ethanol or biodiesel, do not have indirect effects, such as deforestation in other countries, that could inadvertently increase levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

But the administration did not take a position on key regulatory issues, instead inviting comment from scientific experts and businesses on how to measure carbon emissions from the full lifecycle of biofuels, from land use to fertilizer to manufacturing process to delivery. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson also said that existing corn ethanol distilleries or ones under construction would probably be "grandfathered," or exempt from the new regulations. (Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post)

EXCLUSIVE - Obama To Form Interagency Biofuels Group - NEW YORK - President Barack Obama will direct the heads of three US agencies to make the biofuels industry cleaner and encourage output of ethanol made from non-food crops, according to a draft memo obtained by Reuters on Monday.

The Biofuels Interagency Working Group, to be headed by the secretaries of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy and the Department of Agriculture, will be asked to identify policies that would make biofuels more environmentally sound and encourage production of "flex-fuel" cars that can run on either gasoline or fuel that is mostly ethanol, according to the memo.

In addition, Obama will ask Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to "immediately begin refinancing of existing investments in renewable fuels as needed to preserve jobs in ethanol and biodiesel plants, renewable electricity generation plants and supporting industries," according to the memo. (Reuters)

Parts of Obama's Green Energy Plan Fuel Discontent Among Environmentalists - Many local activists say the rush to renewables, backed by Obama, risks trading one power problem for another

A key part of President Obama's energy plan -- replacing fossil fuels with green alternatives -- is facing increasing opposition from an unlikely source: environmentalists.

Some environmentalists, who have successfully fought a wind farm on the border of Oregon and Washington, are trying to block a massive solar plant in the Mojave desert. And now an Oregon county is considering a ban on wind power in the foothills of the blue mountains. (Dan Springer,

EPA: ethanol crops displaces climate-friendly ones - WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency says that corn ethanol — as made today — wouldn't meet a congressional requirement that ethanol produce 20 percent less greenhouse gas than gasoline. But the agency said it is still more climate friendly than gasoline. (AP)

Environmental claims neglect human liberty - Two weeks ago, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies held an Earth Day conference on energy. Associating environmentalism with energy production is a tragedy, as environmentalism is profoundly anti-science and anti-energy.

The Sierra Club, who was represented at the Nelson conference, supports wind and solar power but opposes coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy. In other words, they oppose every viable source of energy. And even the use of wind and solar is opposed if they are shown to be visually unpleasant, harm birds or disrupt plants.

With such restrictions — and given the fact it takes tens of thousands of acres of wind or solar to match the output of one coal power plant — it is pure fantasy to believe these “renewable” sources will be a viable source of energy. Even after billions of dollars of government subsidies and decades of research, only 2 percent of the world’s power is supplied by “renewable” energies.

But producing energy is not the concern of environmentalists. Environmentalists oppose any technology that actually produces clean, abundant energy. (Jim Allard, BadgerHerald)

Mandated Flex-fuel Technology: Throwing Bad Regulation After Bad - One dumb government intervention in energy markets typically begets another, as special interests lobby to counteract the unintended (although not unforeseen) consequences of some previous intervention they championed. The federal ethanol mandate, also known as the renewable fuel standard (RFS), provides a recent example.

Thanks to this Soviet-style production quota system, which Congress created in 2005 and expanded in 2007, daily corn ethanol production in February increased by about 17,000 barrels to 647,000 barrels per day, despite weak motor-fuel demand and poor to negative profit margins for ethanol producers.

Unsurprisingly, inventories of unsold ethanol increased by 1.5 million barrels in February and about 20% of new capacity added last year is idle. An ethanol glut is one of the factors that have bankrupted several ethanol companies. Other factors include high feedstock (corn) prices in 2008–itself a consequence of the mandate—and the collapse of crude oil and gasoline prices in 2009.

To eliminate the glut, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) has petitioned EPA to increase from 10% to 15% the amount of ethanol that may be blended into regular gasoline. In other words, RFA proposes to increase by 50% the amount of ethanol you buy each time you fill up. The small-engine industry worries that gasoline containing 15% ethanol might damage lawnmowers, motor boats, generators, and even some cars. Significant research suggests that higher ethanol blends will increase air pollution (see here and here). None of this bothers RFA one bit. (Marlo Lewis, MasterResource)

Lawyers can't do simple arithmetic? PM, make our solar panels pay, say householders - BRISBANE environmental lawyer Jo Bragg and her partner, Gary Kane, spent $28,000 on three roof panels to generate solar power for their home in the inner Brisbane suburb of Highgate Hill.

After receiving a federal government rebate of $8000, they hoped to recover their investment in a cleaner planet within a few years by selling excess power into the mains electricity grid.

In the three months to April, they used 1384 kilowatt hours and produced 388 kilowatt hours of excess power, for which they received the princely sum of $12.96 after taxes.

"Governments are not being serious about reducing energy consumption with lousy amounts of money like that," Ms Bragg said. (The Australian)

Post-subsidy amortization of solar panels in Australia is about 350 years, no secret to anyone who managed to pass figurin' in grade school...

Actually disbelieving Aussies often write me wanting me to check their numbers when they find these wondrous 'savers' will cease to function centuries prior to returning their up front costs but it's true, domestic solar power is a flat out loser. Even if subjected to the bizarre gross overpayments for power generated of some European nations it is still hugely expensive down under because there are so few of us paying the taxes used to subsidize nuisance power feeds that we all lose. There is just no upside to this nonsense in the land of abundant high-quality coal.

China Aims To Advance Thermal Plant Closures Plan - BEIJING - China plans to close 15 gigawatts (GW) of small coal-fired power generators this year, as part of measures to improve energy efficiency and reduce pollution, the National Development and Reform Commission said on Monday.

If the goal is achieved, the country will close a total of nearly 50 GW by the end of this year that had been planned for the five years through 2010.

China is encouraging power companies to replace small thermal power generators with large ones in a nationwide campaign to improve power sector efficiency and curb pollutant emissions. (Reuters)

Nuclear-Waste Storage: Solve Radioactive Enigma - Taxpayers forked over a great deal of money to build the Yucca Mountain Nuclear

Waste Repository, which the federal government now has no plans to use. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., says taxpayers should get some of that money back.

In fact, Washington's decisions regarding high-level nuclear waste disposal have been so slow and so political that a bill such as Graham's is needed to force politicians to take responsibility for this safety issue for the generations.

The United States needs a place to store or dispose of its spent commercial reactor fuel. Nuclear power plants use up fuel. Those spent fuel rods are highly radioactive. Right now, they are simply piling up at the nuclear power plants that used them. (Ledger)

May 5, 2009

US flu tally jumps to 244 as labs catch up - NEW YORK — The tally of confirmed swine flu cases in the United States jumped Sunday to 244 in 34 states, but officials said that's largely from catching up on a backlog of lab tests rather than a sudden spurt in new infections.

The new count reflects streamlining in federal procedures and the results of tests by states, which have only recently begun confirming cases, said Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Because states are now contributing their results, and because there are many cases to analyze, "I expect the numbers to jump quite a bit in the next couple days," she told reporters Sunday.

Beyond eating into the backlog, the new number also reflects that "we do think this virus is fairly widespread," she said.

"Virtually all of the United States probably has this virus circulating now. That doesn't mean that everybody's infected, but within the communities, the virus has arrived." (AP)

Scientists trace ancestry of swine flu virus to 1998 outbreak - The new H1N1 influenza virus that continues to spread through the U.S. has ancestry in a swine flu outbreak that first struck a North Carolina hog farm more than 10 years ago, according to scientists studying the strain's genetic makeup.

The current strain hasn't shown up in surveillance of U.S. pigs, and it can't be caught by eating pork.

The finding about its genetic background illustrates how viruses mutate over time and in some cases jump among species.

"Until you look at that, you can't understand the epidemiology of it," said Peter Cowen, the animal disease moderator for ProMed, an online emerging disease early-warning system. "It's key to understanding what our challenges may be in the future and how the virus is acting in the population."

The current strain's eight genetic segments are all associated with swine flu, said Raul Rabadan, a Columbia University scientist studying the new H1N1 genetic sequence that was made public this past week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Two of the segments, Rabadan said, appear to come from Eurasia and are somewhat mysterious in origin. The other six can be traced to the North American pig outbreak, which turned out to include a combination of avian, swine and human flu.

"This virus was found in pigs here in the United States," Rabadan said in an interview. "They were getting sick in 1998. It became a swine virus." (McClatchy Newspapers)

Swine flu goes person-to-pig; What's next? - MEXICO CITY — Now that the swine flu virus has passed from a farmworker to pigs, could it jump back to people? The question is important, because crossing species again could make it more deadly.

The never-before-seen virus was created when genes from pig, bird and human viruses mixed together inside a pig. Experts fear the virus that has gone from humans back into pigs in at least one case could mutate further before crossing back into humans again. But no one can predict what will happen.

"Could it gain virulence? Yes," Juan Lubroth, an animal health expert at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, said Sunday. "It could also become milder. It could go in both directions." (AP)

Do ‘Factory farms’ trigger swine flu? - CHURCHVILLE, VA—Did “factory hog farms” trigger Mexico’s recent outbreak of “swine flu”? Not likely. In fact, today’s specialized hog and poultry farms actually minimize the potential for virus epidemics—and limit the public’s exposure to flu risks.

However, the Humane Society of the United States claims in the wake of the “Mexican” flu outbreak that “factory farms are the fast track to disaster.” They essentially are saying that confinement hog farms are the flu problem. If the HSUS is right, America’s big confinement farms should be the epicenter of the new virus outbreak. But, they’re not.

There is a big Mexican confinement hog farm near the village of one early flu victim. But that farm has neither sick pigs nor sick workers. Smithfield Farms says it has found no clinical signs or symptoms of the flu on its Mexican farms.

Is HSUS just railing against its favorite “factory farming” hate target?

We already knew that the H1N1 flu virus, which has been around for a while, contains genetic material from pigs, poultry, and humans. Flu viruses are biological sluts. But hog and poultry confinement farms are all “shower-in and shower-out” facilities, with protective clothing, disposable booties and the whole biosafety program. They’re off-limits to most visitors. They all prevent contact with wild birds and animals, and minimize the number of people interacting with the critters. The farmers do th