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Archives - November 2002

November 27, 2002

"Midwest Plants Don’t Cause Northeast Smog" - "The Bush administration announced last week that it wants to allow aging, coal-fired power plants to upgrade their facilities without installing costly air pollution-control equipment.

Environmentalists, politicians from Northeast states and their allies on Capitol Hill and in the media are going nuts. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said, "the Republicans new motto was to regulate softly and carry a big inhaler."

It’s an amusing comment, but the real joke is the notion that the controversy is about clean air and public health -- it’s not." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Playing the blame game" - "Today’s New York Times features an interview with Dr. Barry Schlenker, a University of Florida psychology professor. The Times describes Schlenker’s area of expertise as the study of “people’s attempts to evade or diminish their responsibility for the irresponsible, thoughtless, inadequate, stupid or hurtful things they do -- in other words, the art of making excuses.”

In light of our recent cultural fascination with overeating -- and with attempts by some unscrupulous trial attorneys to capitalize on their clients’ bad choices – Dr. Schlenker’s insights are telling. Excuse-makers, he says, “undermine crucial aspects of the social contract and suggest that the excuse maker is not a reliable participant in society.”

As the Burger Wars continue to resemble the Tobacco Wars, a cast of high-profile enablers is emerging, eager to help America’s overweight place the blame for their predicament anywhere but on their own shoulders.

First, of course, there’s the trial lawyers, who insist that they’re suing fast-food restaurants because of “serious issues” -- presuming, of course, the existence of a cause more dire than a thin wallet. Tobacco warrior John Banzhaf’s personal reinvention has caused some to suggest that his anti-smoking group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) should be renamed to “Action on Smoking and Snacks.”

Next comes the public health community, eager to blame a few loosening belts on a “fast food culture” that needs to be controlled through warning labels, punitive taxes, and even government restrictions on advertising. Take professor and author Ellen Ruppell Shell as an example. She told National public Radio this month that overeating “is not a character flaw,” preferring to blame the food industry for “working as hard as possible to get us to consume as many… products as possible.”

Finally, of course, a range of nonprofit hucksters, from PETA to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), all play the blame game, focusing their malice alternatively on restaurants, school lunch menu planners, or just about anyone with the temerity to serve beef or milk. CSPI blames “food porn” for Americans’ expanding waistlines, while radical animal rights activists promote the lie that meat and dairy are the sole recipe for obesity.

Dr. Schlenker has valuable advice about these responsibility-deflecting messages. “The short-term gain of self-deception,” he says, is “rarely worth the long-term cost.” (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"And now, a bit of common sense" - "The Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter weighs in this month on Acrylamide, that pesky substance, supposedly carcinogenic, that apparently forms when sweet or starchy foods are baked or fried at very high temperatures.

On the heels of news that humans may be immune to Acrylamide’s effects, the Tufts Letter notes the following:

“While the final verdict on Acrylamide is far off, many of the grain-based foods that have been so far identified as containing it have been consumed for centuries, with the human life span only getting longer during that time.”

Meanwhile, the immodestly self-named Center for Science in the Public Interest is claiming in its newsletter that acrylamide “causes several thousand deaths in the U.S. each year.”

We’re still waiting for CSPI to offer something resembling proof for this statement." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Pulling a Fast One" - "I once attended a lecture about cholesterol in which the lecturer, a cardiologist, claimed (without any substantiation) that eating a Happy Meal from McDonald's was the biological equivalent of smoking two cigarettes.

New York attorney Samuel Hirsch must have attended a similar lecture. Hirsch, you might have heard, is the lawyer who is using the success of the tobacco lawsuits as a primer for a legal assault on the fast food industry. He first made news a few months ago when he filed suits against McDonald's claiming that their food made several of his adult clients obese, and thus caused their health problems. Those suits have yet to show any profit for Mr. Hirsh. Of the four cases involving adults, three of them have been dismissed.

Not one to give up easily, Hirsh has turned to children as his weapon of choice against the fast food giants." (Sydney Smith, TCS)

"Quorn Flakes" - "If you think Tony Soprano is one bad dude, you'll love the hit man of the food activism underworld, Michael Jacobson. He's the Capo di tutti capi of the so-called Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), and now "the family" is trying to whack a popular meat substitute that's the epitome of a health food." (Michael Fumento, TCS)

"No Corporate Wolf at the Environmental Door" - "As the dust settles from the electoral explosion detonated by voters on Nov. 5, Washington is abuzz over what the Republican romp means for the legislative agenda of the incoming 108th Congress. While Democratic spin-meisters try to minimize the import of the thrashing they received on Election Day, their interest group allies are already waxing hysterical over the long, dark night that is supposedly settling across political America - and nowhere will that political night supposedly prove darker than on the environmental policy horizon. Light no candles, however. The sun, for better or worse, will indeed come out tomorrow." (Jerry Taylor, Cato Institute)

"NEW REPORT OUTLINES THE ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT OF 146 NATIONS; Humanity's Consumption Exceeds the Earth's Biological Capacity by 20 Percent" - "OAKLAND, Calif.—Redefining Progress' Sustainability Program today released its latest Ecological Footprint of Nations report that outlines the ecological impact of 146 of the world's nations. The issue brief shows to what extent a nation can support its resource consumption with its available ecological capacity. It also illustrates the degree to which a nation could reproduce its consumption at a global level. The issue brief also outlines the significant improvements and refinements made to the Ecological Footprint accounts since last year's report. The report is available for download in pdf format at www.RedefiningProgress.org/publications/ef1999.pdf." (Press Release)

"Analysis: Brussels defuses threat to chemicals policy" - "IS THE European Commission finally wriggling free of the green grip? A new committee meets today in Brussels and a close reading between the lines of its agenda suggests its true purpose might be to cut back some of the legislative bindweed that is strangling European industry.

The Competitiveness Council, set up in June this year, sounds deeply dull and among the matters it will discuss today is “Sustainable Development (including a sub-point on Chemicals)”.

Readers will be aware that sustainable development is the objective of all multinational enterprises big and ugly enough to have a website. It is the gospel in both government and industry and, like motherhood, no criticism is tolerated. The pursuit of profit is no longer sufficient — business must save the planet as well as pay a dividend.

Can I detect a trace of doubt in Memo/02/265 from the Commission? After a dutiful bow to sustainable development being “high on the political agenda” the memo notes that “the deteriorating economic and industrial situation in the European Union makes it urgent to pay attention to EU competitiveness and jobs”. Key items for discussion will be Emissions Trading and Environmental Liability Directives and, of course, the EU policy on chemicals." (Carl Mortished, The Times)

"Research lab prompts new animal rights flap" - "LONDON - Scientists and animal rights campaigners are heading for a showdown over plans to build a medical research laboratory in Britain that would experiment on primates' brains. A public inquiry was launched Tuesday into Cambridge University's bid to build a world-class, $37.5 million research center into diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Leading scientists insist the facility, which has already received backing from Prime Minister Tony Blair, is a test case that would signal to the rest of the world Britain's willingness to conduct key medical research. But they have met ferocious opposition from animal rights activists who say scientists will be pointlessly butchering thousands of primates." (Reuters)

"Hypocrite Society of the United States" - "Americans are hearing a variety of anti-turkey messages this Thanksgiving, mostly from in-your-face animal rights groups like PETA and Farm Sanctuary. These radical activists make no bones about their position -- no meat of any kind, and no room for compromise.

In this context, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) tends to slip through the cracks, passing itself off as a more moderate voice. HSUS vice president Wayne Pacelle told the Associated Press this morning that his organization is only trying to convince Americans to forgo supermarket turkeys in favor of “free-range” birds. “We’re not trying to rain on anyone’s holiday.” Pacelle insisted.

Funny -- just last night on CNN, Crossfire co-host Bob Novak cornered Pacelle with a simple question: “Are you against killing chickens for food?” After the requisite hemming and hawing, Pacelle finally conceded “Well, I’m against it,” acknowledging that the HSUS is just as extreme as PETA.

HSUS is the single richest animal rights group in the world, with over $100 million in the bank,. And it has absolutely no connection to your local “humane society” or ASPCA animal shelters.

The current issue of Worth magazine rates HSUS among the worst-managed U.S. charities. “We’re not saying they’re crooked,” offers Worth writer Reshma Memom Yaqub, “but we do take issue with some business practices of these charities, especially when they spend too much money on fundraising.” Worth notes that HSUS took in over $65 million in 2000, yet spent more than half of it to raise more money." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"OZONE: Treaty Parties Consider Spending $500M-$900M On Phase-Outs" - "As about 100 countries meet in Rome this week to decide on 2003-05 spending through the Multilateral Fund of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, U.N. Environment Program Executive Director Klaus Toepfer today called the complete phasing-out of chlorofluorocarbons the top priority under the protocol." (UN Wire)

"Hungry Cambodia at the Mercy of Climate Change" - "PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, November 26, 2002 – Cambodia, already one of the most disaster prone countries in Southeast Asia, is now going through cycles of drought and flood due to global climate change, according to the Cambodian director for the United Nations World Food Programme. Some 670,000 Cambodians will need thousands of tons of food aid in the next five weeks because their crops have been wiped out, the agency said Monday." (ENS)

"Faulty forecasts" - "With more and more scientists questioning the real cause of recent global warming, rushing to ratify the Kyoto accord is ridiculous in the extreme" (Madhav L. Khandekar, National Post)

[Dr. Madhav L Khandekar, a former research scientist with Environment Canada, holds a PhD in meteorology and has worked in the fields of climatology, meteorology and oceanography for over 45 years.] | Letter to PM: delay Kyoto (Calgary Herald)

"May target soot in climate change work - US official" - "WASHINGTON - The United States may put more stress on controlling carbon soot as a speedy way to respond to global warming, White House science advisor John Marburger said this week.

Marburger used carbon soot as an example of how the United States could act while refining its overall plan on climate change. Administration officials who joined him at a news conference said it was too early in the budget-writing process to say how much money the administration would seek for climate change in fiscal 2004." (Reuters)

"Arctic Meltdown" - "The year-round ice in the Arctic Sea could be gone by the end of the century, say National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientists. A NASA study finds that perennial sea ice in the Arctic is melting faster than previously thought, at a rate of 9 percent per decade. At that rate, the Arctic's "perennial sea ice" could disappear in a few more decades." (CBS)

"Guest Editorial" - " In the wake of our 30 October 2002 editorial criticism of Irakli Loladze's Trends in Ecology & Evolution paper and his 20 November 2002 response to that criticism, we make some additional remarks about the subject in this week's Main Editorial (How Will Future CO2-Enriched Air Affect Human Health?), after which we present a Sub-Editorial we have written in collaboration with Loladze in which we jointly address areas of significant overlap in our individual views on the important subject of human well-being in a CO2-enriched world (Researchers Must Pay More Attention to The Role of CO2 in Human Nutrition and Health)." (co2science.org)

"Effects of Ozone on Plants (Tree Species)" - "Summary: A brief review of some of the recent scientific literature suggests that the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content is just the antidote plants need to ward of the deleterious effects of increasing tropospheric ozone concentrations." (co2science.org)

"Streamflow (Recent Trends)" - "Summary: Will the world as we know it be washed away as a result of global warming-induced increases in streamflow? Or will it dry up and blow away? Or will it somehow muddle along pretty much as it has in the past?" (co2science.org)

"Carbon Sequestration Commentary" - "Summary: Global Warming: How It May Impact Soil Carbon Storage by Reducing the Frequency and Severity of Freezing: New research shows that more frequent and more severe freezing leads to more CO2 being released to the atmosphere when soils thaw. In a gradually warming world, therefore, there is a tendency for less CO2 to be released to the atmosphere each year, as freezing events become less numerous and less severe." (co2science.org)

"Solar Forcing of Climate: Is It Significant?" - "Summary: It has been very important in the past and will likely be very important in the future. Astronomische Nachrichten 323: 203-212." (co2science.org)

"The Little Ice Age at the Bottom of the World" - "Summary: If the Little Ice Age was merely a regional phenomenon experienced by countries bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, as climate alarmists would have one believe, why does it appear in ice core records as far away as Antarctica? Journal of Geophysical Research 107: 10.1029/2000JD000317." (co2science.org)

"How Imminent Is the Collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet?" - "Summary: Obviously, nobody knows for sure. But if it's never happened before, it's a good bet it won't happen anytime soon. Geo-Marine Letters 22: 51-59." (co2science.org)

"Court reinstates Illinois incinerator subsidy" - "CHICAGO - Illinois can no longer deny subsidies for a trio of bond-financed waste-to-energy incinerators in the state, a judge said this week in a ruling that may allow the incinerators to seek monetary damages against the state and an electric utility." (Reuters)

"BP Solar drops thin film solar cells, up to 260 US jobs" - "NEW YORK - BP Solar, one of the world's largest solar power companies, will cut as many as 260 jobs in the United States in an effort to keep its solar panel sales growing at an annual rate of 30 percent, a spokeswoman said this week." (Reuters)

"Feed the Hungry Food, Not Fear" - "Famine has once again struck the African subcontinent. Who cares? Certainly the United States does. Certainly the World Food Program does. The United Nations says it does. But who else?" (James Nicholson, U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See)

"Hunger and resentment" - "IT SOUNDS preposterous, even outrageous. Zambia recently rejected international emergency aid, even though food had already been shipped to that African country, where 3 million people are faced with starvation. The reason: The president described genetically modified corn as "poison." (The Baltimore Sun)

"To Eat or Not to Eat" - "As Zambia starves, the U.S. and the E.U. battle over genetically modified food aid in Africa

Sometime in the next few days the United Nations World Food Program will carry out one of its most unusual shipments ever. Under police guard to prevent looting by desperate locals, WFP workers in Zambia will load 18,000 tons of maize into waiting trucks. The trucks, which are normally used to ferry grain to refugee camps or emergency feeding stations, will then carry the precious food out of the drought-stricken southern African country and away from 2.9 million people facing starvation." (Time Magazine)

November 26, 2002

"The More Things Change, the More Milkophobia Stays the Same" - "America's food supply is among the safest and most abundant in the world, thanks in part to a variety of technologies used to safeguard it. Nonetheless, in the last decade or so there has been an increasingly vocal minority that claims our foods are simply not as healthful or nutritious as they used to be. One of their targets is milk." (Ruth Kava, ACSH)

Blast from the past: "Meet Sassafras Herbert, Nutritionist Dog" (ACSH)

"Amity Shlaes: A rush to get fat on McDonald's" - "Every now and then, America draws a cartoon of herself for the amusement of the rest of the world. This week's fat lawsuit against McDonald's is one of those occasions.

The New York suit against the fast-food company alleges that a McDonald's store on the Bronx's Bruckner Boulevard is responsible for the size of a 270 lb-child from the neighbourhood and for that of her equally corpulent fellow plaintiffs. The corporation itself is also responsible, by extension, for childhood obesity across America. By failing to label its fries and Big Macs, McDonald's tricks Americans. McDonald's therefore, and not families, is to blame for children's overeating. So now the company must pay huge sums to any number of parties. Or so goes the argument.

The professional cartoonist could not do better. Where else to find three hard-and-fast stereotypes - Americans are enormous porkers, eat fast food to excess and launch crazy lawsuits - united in one picture?

But Pelman v McDonald's is newsworthy beyond its entertainment value. The lawsuit also reveals the consequences of half a century of incremental changes in US common law that have undermined the culture of individual responsibility. They have also established the notion of the civil action as a vehicle of general economic redistribution." (Financial Times)

"UK Study finds no connection between Gulf War and veterans' neuromuscular symptoms" - "As in the United States, United Kingdom veterans who were deployed to the Gulf War in 1990 to 1991 have reported a higher prevalence of neuromuscular symptoms than soldiers who served elsewhere. Much debate and several medical studies, as well as conspiracy and cover-up theories, have commenced over the years regarding troops' exposures to potentially hazardous substances during the Gulf conflict." (American Academy of Neurology)

"UK still lags behind on looking after environment" - "Britain still lags behind in key areas of pollution control, waste management, prosecuting environmental criminals, and protection of important wildlife areas, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said yesterday.

In the first significant report on Britain's environmental performance in eight years, the OECD said the government's record had shown improvements in many areas but much more needed to be done.

Michael Meacher, the environment minister, agreed yesterday Britain's record was patchy. "We acknowledge that we still have much work to do and continue to focus on how we can overcome the problems we face." (The Guardian)

"Every Breath You Take" - "Last week the Bush administration announced new rules that would effectively scrap "new source review," a crucial component of our current system of air pollution control. This action, which not incidentally will be worth billions to some major campaign contributors, comes as no surprise to anyone who pays attention to which way the wind is blowing (from west to east, mainly — that is, states that vote Democratic are conveniently downwind).

But this isn't just a policy change, it's an omen. I hope I'm wrong, but it's likely that last week's announcement marks the beginning of a new era of environmental degradation." (Paul Krugman, New York Times)

"States seek tougher 'right to know' on toxics" - "GENEVA - Negotiators from Europe, Central Asia and North America began talks yesterday to finalise an international pact to strengthen people's right to know about the presence of chemical waste and toxic pollutants." (Reuters)

Hmm... one wonders if this will do anything other than assist whacko groups and professional fear-mongers terrorise a largely ignorant population, and perhaps those of even more malicious intent. After all these years I'm seriously beginning to wonder whether people don't fare better when told only what's good for them to know.

Wisely: "U.S. Backs Out of Pollution Register Treaty Group" - "GENEVA, Switzerland, November 25, 2002 - The United States today pulled out of a United Nations conference to finalize an international agreement that will provide the public with greater access to information about sources of pollution. The treaty will require participating countries to collect and publish information on the quantities of pollutants released from certain industrial sources." (ENS)

"Grim greens -- and greenbacks" - "The 12 biggest environmental pressure groups in the United States enjoy combined annual revenues of US$1.9-billion, according to the latest Internal Revenue Service figures. Not bad --that's $3-billion Canadian. Only 91 of Canada's two million businesses enjoy revenues as big. Similarly, only 725 of some 20 million U.S. corporations can boast such magnificent cash flow.

Among the green dozen are some -- Nature Conservancy (US$731-million) and the Wildlife Conservation Council (US$311-million) -- that are merely left-of-centre. But there are also genuinely extreme organizations -- the World Wildlife Fund (US$118-million) and the Sierra Club (US$73-million) -- that militate aggressively against the free market and attack property rights to the detriment of the economy and the majority of ordinary people.

The greens' resources ought to be mentioned frequently, perhaps in news reports when they launch campaigns, comment on legislation, or denounce some hapless company that is doing nothing worse than going about its lawful business selling goods or services.

Given the greens' immense resources and influence, they deserve greater scrutiny, and should not be allowed, as now, to sell green extremism as though it were self-evidently good, like motherhood or apple pie. (Come to think of it, they don't much like motherhood -- it produces humans who are, of course, a plague upon the Earth.)" (Hugo Gurdon, National Post)

World Climate Report, Volume 8, number 6, November 18, 2002 (GES)

"Canada's Oil Sector Fights Pollution Plan" - "TORONTO, Nov. 25 — When Canadian oil executives get together with politicians and investors these days, the talk is less likely to be about drilling results or royalties than about climate change. The oil executives have become the most outspoken critics in Canada of plans by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 pact that calls for developed nations to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which most scientists consider the main cause of global warming." (New York Times)

"DOE Gauges Interest in Climate Change Technology Initiative" - "WASHINGTON, November 25, 2002 - The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a "Request for Information" to solicit ideas and Statements of Interest by those who may wish to participate in the President's National Climate Change Technology Initiative. The responses to this request could be used to develop the scope, content, and other attributes of a future "Request for Proposals," should one be issued." (EarthVision Environmental News)

"USDA sets farm, forestry carbon sequestration meetings" - "WASHINGTON - The U.S. Agriculture Department said yesterday it will hold two meetings in January to develop accounting rules to estimate and report greenhouse gas offsets from U.S. farmland and forests." (Reuters)

"Just a nod and a wink for the Kyoto accord" - "Parliament is expected to vote on ratification of the Kyoto Protocol within days, and Prime Minister Jean Chrétien has made it clear he will brook no opposition from his restless back bench. But it doesn't really matter. Canada's approval of the international treaty to combat greenhouse-gas emissions will be a symbolic gesture only.

Ottawa's latest version of its Kyoto plan, released last Thursday, looks increasingly like no implementation plan at all. It looks like the first step in a made-in-Canada alternative to Kyoto, one that would still reduce the country's production of the gases believed to cause global warming.

The Liberal government won't admit that, of course. It will continue to pay fealty to the common good of combatting this environmental problem multilaterally. When skeptical Liberal cabinet ministers are asked about the logic of proceeding with Kyoto, they often fall back on the rationale that Canada is supportive of global treaties generally. In other words, this one may appear to make less sense than many, but we'll do it because it's good for global governance." (Globe and Mail)

"Cullen sees carbon taxes as way to cut emissions" - "The Government must "bite the bullet" on carbon taxes to avoid hundreds of millions of euro in fines for breaching the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, according to the Minister for the Environment, Mr Cullen. Speaking on the publication by the Environmental Protection Agency of a major report on the effects of climate change here, he said a carrot-and-stick approach was needed to encourage industry to switch to cleaner fuels." (The Irish Times)

"Green taxes, suppliers, wipe out German power savings" - "FRANKFURT - Green taxes and the domination of only two suppliers have robbed German electricity consumers of the savings made by the market liberalisation of 1998, analysts and users say." (Reuters)

"Report questions future of British Energy" - "British Energy's nuclear power stations could be closed over the next two or three years without danger of the lights going out, according to research carried out by Ilex, an independent energy consultancy. But the document, commissioned by Greenpeace the environmental campaign group, also puts a price on such a decision, saying that wholesale power prices would probably rise by about 50 per cent by 2004/5." (Financial Times)

"'Apollo Program' for Energy" - "When business mixes with environment, public-relations stunts and cynicism abound.

Many companies talk big but do little. Others shamelessly and fruitlessly pander to extreme groups that hate the free-market system. But a few businesses - very few - get serious. They invest the money and the effort to improve the environment and, at the same time, they stick to principle: a strong belief in sound science, technology, honesty and competition.

The best example of this kind of environmental seriousness we have seen in years appeared Wednesday when Stanford University announced that ExxonMobil Corp., General Electric Co. and Schlumberger Ltd. and other sponsors were contributing about $225 million to fund a giant research project to find commercially viable, high-tech systems for energy that have the capability to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Europe's largest privately owned energy service provider, E.ON, has indicated it will also join the project, along with other academic and corporate sponsors around the world." (James K. Glassman, TechCentralStation)

"From designer milk to 'green' cows: predictions for milk and dairy products in the next 50 years" - "Old MacDonald will be surprised when he sees what's headed for his dairy farm: specially bred cows that naturally produce low-fat milk, designer milk that boosts the immune system, and "green" cows -- engineered to produce less methane to help stem global warming. All are among the changes predicted for the future of the milk and dairy industry over the next 50 years." (American Chemical Society)

"Bioengineering in your refrigerator" - "The traditional Thanksgiving dinner many of us will enjoy this week likely contains some hidden ingredients. The fields of corn that yielded that cornbread stuffing may have been altered to contain agents that fend off harvest-destroying pests without frequent spraying." (Arizona Daily Star)

"GM rice can tough it out" - "A new genetically engineered variety of rice, which can grow in all types of conditions, has been developed by scientists in the United States and Korea. The researchers added sugar genes from a bacterium to create their improved plant. The genes allow the rice to maintain yields even it is stressed by cold, drought and high salt levels. The sugar leaves the chemical composition of the rice grains unchanged. It is hoped the new crop will help farmers in developing countries be more productive on poor land, increasing yields by up to 20%." (BBC News Online) | Sugar gene helps rice tolerate drought, salt, cold (Cornell University News Service)

"Got GM?" - "The menu at Solana Beach's Pamplemousse Grille on Thursday night wasn't the typical fare. Diners feasted on crispy tofu with Chinese long beans, grapefruit sorbet, roasted duck with gnocchi, white corn, porcini mushrooms and papaya tarte tatin. All the entrees had in common a flavorless ingredient: controversy. Food on the right side of the plate was organic, while food on the left side of the plate was genetically modified. Organizers of the dinner were trying to prove to a crowd of nearly 90 state legislators, scientists and media that so-called "Frankenfoods" can look, taste and be as safe as their organic counterparts." (San Diego Daily Transcript)

"Transgenic rice for human benefit: a religious perspective" - "A paper to be published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by A. K. Garg and R. J. Wu, "Trehalose accumulation in rice plants confers high tolerance levels to different abiotic stresses," shows the promise of biotechnology in the service of humanity, according to a religion scholar." (Science and Religion Information Service)

"Illinois farmers-Bio-corn growth could threaten EU sales" - "WASHINGTON - U.S. plantings of new biotech corn varieties not approved by the European Union should be avoided because it would threaten American shipments, including $400 million worth of corn gluten, an Illinois farm group declared yesterday." (Reuters)

November 25, 2002

"Report finds against Gulf war syndrome" - "ARMY veterans who claim to have suffered brain damage from so-called Gulf war syndrome are to be told their symptoms were not caused by exposure to chemicals during the conflict.

As Britain’s armed forces prepare for a possible second assault on Iraq, the biggest neurological study of Gulf war veterans in Britain has concluded the problems — including fatigue, muscular pain and loss of senses — were not caused by gases or vaccines encountered during the war.

The report by the government-supported Gulf War Illness Research Unit (GWIRU) will dismay thousands of veterans. The 35,000 veterans suffering illness that they claim resulted from their war service have lobbied for years for detailed scientific studies into their problems." (The Sunday Times)

"Top perfumes linked to cancer scare chemical" - "SCIENTISTS have found high levels of a chemical blamed for causing infertility in some of the best-known perfumes and cosmetics. Chanel No 5, Christian Dior’s Poison, Eternity from Calvin Klein, and Trésor by Lancôme, were among 34 toiletries found by a Swedish study to contain di-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) or other phthalates. The European commission is proposing a ban on the use in cosmetics of two of the most potent forms of phthalates amid fears they are responsible for genital abnormalities affecting up to 4% of male babies." (The Sunday Times)

"Revealed: The dirty way in which trees are killing each other" - "Air pollution comes from trees," Ronald Reagan declared more than 20 years ago, soon after the start of his presidency. The remark earned him widespread derision as proof of his ignorance of environmental issues.

But now new scientific research is showing that the former Hollywood B-movie star was at least partially right all along. For studies in both Britain and the United States have shown that some trees do indeed emit pollution and may even be killing forests downwind." (Independent)

"Wild Cities: It's a Jungle Out There" - "For most of her career, Christine Padoch did her environmental research in distant, exotic locations like the rainforests of Amazonia and Borneo, while Steven Handel studied evolution in the Galapagos Islands. Now Ms. Padoch, an ecological anthropologist, takes the subway from her job at the the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx to count exotic vegetables at the green markets of Queens, while Mr. Handel, a professor of evolutionary biology at Rutgers University, is studying the vegetation that grows along the tracks of the New Jersey transit railway — a true test, if ever there was one, of the survival of the fittest.

Their projects are examples of the new frontier of environmental studies: urban ecology.

Until recently, the only real environments thought worth studying were in "pristine" nature, remote areas as far as possible from the footprint of human beings. Cities, by contrast, were seen as unnatural, nonenvironments, whose parks and gardens, ornamental plants and scraggly sidewalk trees and weeds were of as little interest to ecologists as house cats and lap dogs are to big game hunters.

Now, though, ecologists are finding that cities are interesting, legitimate environments, with surprisingly high levels of biodiversity, and what's more, that understanding and protecting them may be crucial to our environmental future." (New York Times)

"The shoddy sentiment that puts Courtney the gibbon above human health" - "It is entirely moral, humane and proper to place electrodes in the brains of primates, as part of the search for a cure for such terrible diseases as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. What is really sick is that so many seem to doubt it. (Mick Hume, The Times)

"As Andean Glaciers Shrink, Water Worries Grow" - "The glaciers of the central Andes are vanishing because of global warming, driven at least in part by pollution." (New York Times)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT November 22, 2002 Vol. 3, No. 34" - "On November 18, 2002 the Los Angeles Times published another installment in its irregular series called "Vanishing Ice." This time Usha Lee McFarling breathlessly reports about the melting of glaciers in Glacier National Park. Her article is part of a body of work that claims to be "investigating the effect of global climate change on the Arctic and high mountain regions, fringes of the Earth that have experienced the most dramatic warming in recent decades."

Reading her more than 2400 words could bring tears to the eyes of even the most unsentimental of curmudgeons. What we read here concerns the disappearance of nature’s beauty, glaciers forever gone, experiences our grandchildren never can have, and lost memories of our own sweet youth – all because of humanity’s pernicious industrial activity.

On and one the litany extends: melting glaciers, changing patterns of stream flow, heightened danger of wildfire, and altered landscapes which threaten native animal populations. Grizzly bears will be forced to browse for huckleberries in different locations. If the reproductive cycles of damsel and caddis flies change, so will the feeding behavior of trout and, thus, the angling techniques of those who fish for them. On and on until about word 1850, when something interesting emerges from the bathos.

It is revealed that a detailed analysis of the temperature history at the nearby town of Kalispell, Montana indicates local temperatures around Glacier National Park have not significantly changed during the last century. But hold on, Usha Lee, isn’t that the time when the glaciers’ retreat has been greatest?" (GES)

"Global warming may have caused icebergs to drift off South Atlantic coast" - "Global warming is being put forward as a possible explanation for seven icebergs found drifting off Argentina's South Atlantic coast. The largest block of ice, measuring about 700 metres long and rising 50 metres above the waves, was spotted by a fisherman this week off the beach resort of Mar del Plata.

The Argentine navy has located another six icebergs that apparently broke away from Antarctic ice shelves hundreds miles to the south. Coast guard chief officer Osvaldo Aguirre said it was extremely unusual to find icebergs so far north, and said global warming was one of the theories to explain the phenomenon." (MediaCorp News)

"Rockies' Early Snow Bodes Well for Summer; Powder Dump Welcomed by Skiers and Officials Concerned About Drought, Forest Fires" - "COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. -- Long lines formed at the chair lifts.

Blankets of fresh snow covered the slopes. And the hillside echoed with the traditional mating call of a familiar mountain species, the red-booted North American ski bum: "Pow-DER! Pow-DER!"

In short, there were classic mid-winter scenes in recent days at Copper Mountain and other ski areas across the Rocky Mountain West. But this year, that scenario is playing out many weeks earlier than usual, thanks to the biggest autumn snowfall anyone can remember.

The premature powder dump is good news for skiers and snowboarders, and even better news for the resorts that sell them lift tickets at prices stretching past $60 per day. But the snows of autumn may have much broader implications, suggesting that the severe drought and forest fires that plagued the region last summer may not be repeated in 2003." (Washington Post)

The Gray Lady's in hand-wringing mode this morning:  "Environmental War Clouds" - "The environmental community, already battered by two years of struggle with the Bush administration, is expecting the perfect storm when the 108th Congress convenes in January.

For starters, the chairmanship of two key Senate committees will pass from two reliable conservationists to men with deplorable records on energy and the environment, James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Pete Domenici of New Mexico. Second, the election results are likely to encourage the administration's quiet but lethal efforts to undermine environmental law through administrative rulemaking and judicial negotiation. Finally, and most depressingly, it is hard to imagine a scenario in which this group comes up with any new and imaginative initiatives to deal with problems that badly need attention, especially global warming. Most people who care about such things will be so busy preventing further rollbacks that the idea of moving forward will seem hopelessly farfetched." (New York Times editorial)

Hmm... the old girl's editorials seem to be written by redundant soap opera scribes these days.

"Sir Robert May annotated" - "The deluge of global warming propaganda in the establishment media appears to derive its authority from a paper by Sir Robert May, President of the Royal Society. He has every right to dabble outside his field, as did his greatest predecessor, Sir Isaac Newton, who devoted much of his time to alchemy. His paper is considered so important by the politico-scientific establishment that it has pride of place on the web site of the Office of Science and Technology, which is the body through which Government exercises iron control over what used to be the free pursuit of scientific research.

After five years, it seems appropriate to provide some annotations to this report indicating where there might be grounds for dissension. This is done at risk of being thrown into the Tower for lese majesty, as the author is a knight of the realm and therefore on equal ranking with such luminaries as Sir Mick Jagger and Sir Elton John. Nevertheless, it seems worthwhile to do this in the (short?) time left during which dissension is still legal." (John Brignell, NumberWatch)

"Pan Evaporation" - "At many weather stations in the world, the usual temperature and rainfall measurements are supplemented by `pan evaporation’ measurements. Simple water filled open pans are used, and the loss of water to evaporation over a specified period of time provides a measure of the evaporation rate.

Evaporation is important in predicting climate change because if the atmosphere warms as claimed by the global warming theory, then the rate of evaporation should increase. The evaporated water vapour is itself a powerful greenhouse gas, and so any greenhouse warming from CO2 would then be supplemented by further warming from the evaporated water vapour. This knock-on effect, or `positive feedback’, is then claimed to warm the atmosphere much more than CO2 on its own could do. In fact, current theory promoted by the greenhouse industry suggests that CO2 alone can manage about 0.8°C of warming if it’s atmospheric concentration is doubled from its pre-industrial level. At recent rates of increase, it will take about 130 years or so from now to reach that doubling point.

A warming of 0.8°C by the year 2130 does not sound like too much to get excited over, but the theory all along has claimed that added water vapour to the atmosphere, plus a few other minor feedbacks will blow out that warming to many degrees celsius, as much as 5°C or so." (John L. Daly, Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Business seeks more on Kyoto" - "CALGARY -- Corporate Canada yesterday hailed Ottawa's revision to its blueprint for greenhouse gas reductions as a step forward, but said it needs more concessions and clarity before it can endorse ratification of the Kyoto Protocol." (Globe and Mail)

"Ottawa blinked and took right step" - "There's no denying it: Ottawa blinked on Kyoto. Whether it was Alberta Premier Ralph Klein's success in building consensus on the issue among the provinces, the fear of what he might say while talking to the Wall Street crowd next month or the earful received by Federal Finance Minister John Manley on his Western tour last week, yesterday's new plan to tackle climate change has to be viewed as a step in the right direction." (Globe and Mail)

"Kyoto obligations will be met despite concessions: Ottawa" - "OTTAWA and EDMONTON -- The federal government has offered major concessions to placate corporate Canada as it prepares to ratify the Kyoto Protocol next month, but insists it will still be able to meet its targets under the treaty." (Globe and Mail)

"Kyoto plan like 'lipstick on a pig'" - "OTTAWA and EDMONTON - Provincial politicians and business leaders were more than skeptical yesterday toward Ottawa's updated Kyoto plan, slamming a strategy they say was cooked up secretly and sprung on them through the media. "It's a clear breach of trust," Lorne Taylor, Alberta's Environment Minister, said, describing the plan as "lipstick on a pig." "They're not working in collaboration with the provinces when they release to the press and the public without even discussing it [with the provinces]." (National Post)

"Taking control of climate" - "Institutional investors have long accepted the conventional industry "wisdom" that corporate "sustainability" - superior performance on environmental and social issues - can only be achieved at the cost of either higher risk, lower financial returns, or both. A corollary to this is that since environmental and social factors are - at best - irrelevant to the risk/return equation and - at worst - harmful to them, pension fund trustees and other fiduciaries are precluded from considering them. But it turns out that both conventional wisdom and the corollary are quite wrong-headed." (Matthew Kiernan, Financial Times)

Hmm... if your assets happen to reside in the same virtual world created by the "climate models" then they could well be at risk of enhanced greenhouse-forced "climate catastrophe." Since we cannot control real-world climate it would appear that it's Matthew Kiernan's piece that is quite wrong-headed.

"UK carbon emissions prices slide on oversupply" - "LONDON - Prices in the UK carbon emissions trading market slumped this week after rising steadily since its start over seven months ago, as more participants gained credits to sell, brokers said. The market traded down to 4.40 pounds ($6.95) on Thursday, after having climbed to 12.50 pounds ($19.74) in the past month." (Reuters)

"Perverse Incentive" - "An article in the 28th October edition of New Scientist draws attention to one major flaw in the Kyoto Protocol, one which creates a perverse incentive for participating countries to wantonly destroy their own natural forests. New plantation forests are net sinks of CO2, that much is known. But what of mature natural forests? They release as much CO2 as they absorb and so are not net sinks. As such, they cannot be used to claim lucrative carbon credits (The Canadian taxpayer is likely to be the primary source of those funds - if Canada ratifies the protocol)." (John L Daly, Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"E.P.A. Says It Will Change Rules Governing Industrial Pollution" - "WASHINGTON, Nov. 22 — The Bush administration today announced the most sweeping move in a decade to loosen industrial air pollution rules. The administration said the changes would encourage plant improvements that would clean the air. But critics denounced the changes as a retreat from tougher rules now in place that require factories to make costly investments in pollution control equipment when they modernize." (New York Times)

"Great Smog is history, but foul air still kills" - "For five days, banks of dense yellow fog smothered London, paralysing transport, choking homes, offices and cinemas, and triggering an epidemic of respiratory disease that killed thousands. The Great Smog of London - 50 years ago on 7 December - remains the nation's worst single air pollution disaster. It led to a major clean-up of city air quality, but scientists warn that atmospheric pollution remains a widespread killer - a point to be underlined this week with the publication of several reports. One will highlight the inadequacy of government funding to tackle air pollution. Another will warn that tens of thousands of Britons die every year because of the air they breathe." (The Observer)

"... tens of thousands of Britons die every year because of the air they breathe." Really? How many would survive if they stopped breathing?

"Smog laws 'save lives immediately'" - "Cutting air pollution will start preventing illness almost straight away, according to a study which looked at death rates in Hong Kong. In 1990, the then UK colony introduced regulations to reduce sulphur emissions from cars. Researchers from the Universities of London and Hong Kong tried to gauge the impact of this. (BBC News Online)

"US renewable energy use falls to 12-year low" - "WASHINGTON - U.S. consumption of energy produced by solar, wind and other renewable sources last year hit its lowest level in 12 years, supporting the Bush administration's claims that America can't rely on such sources for a big chunk of its energy supplies for a long time." (Reuters)

"US gov't, industry see no alternative for oil soon" - "HOUSTON - No single renewable energy product can immediately replace oil, but a combination of hydrogen, wind and agricultural by-products may be able to cut U.S. dependence on one of the nation's most-coveted resources in the next 10 to 20 years, government and industry officials said." (Reuters)

"Greenpeace wins right to challenge UK nuclear aid" - "LONDON/BRUSSELS - Environmental group Greenpeace won the right to challenge state aid for stricken nuclear generator British Energy Plc last week, but the case may be undermined by a European move to approve the bailout." (Reuters)

"Winds of change will mean giant sea turbines" - "DOZENS of wind farms, each with hundreds of turbines up to 500ft high, are to be given the go-ahead off the coast between Scotland and Wales, around the Wash in East Anglia and in the Thames Estuary. Yesterday’s announcement was welcomed by some environmental groups; others have given warning that it will ruin views and damage sea life. Fishermen have said that they will be forced out of business." (The Times)

"Wind farms may make UK overcapacity worse - Ofgem" - "LONDON - Britain's push to to build new wind farms could exacerbate current problems of overcapacity in the electricity industry, energy regulator Callum McCarthy said. The crisis in the sector, triggered by low power prices, sent TXU Europe - once one of the UK's main electricity suppliers - into administration on Tuesday and has left nuclear generator British Energy on the verge of bankruptcy." (Reuters)

"Subsidies boost German solar energy industry - study" - "FRANKFURT - Germany's solar energy equipment industry will have received private sector investment totalling $1 billion in 1998-2004, raising sales in the industry five times from 2001 levels, a study showed. International energy majors such as Shell , RWE and Vattenfall have solar energy-related production ventures in Germany, taking advantage of state subsidies aimed at boosting alternative sources of energy." (Reuters)

"Unseen power" - "Dr Craig Venter does not shrink from science or shy away from publicity. Best known for championing commercial interests to sequence the human genome, Dr Venter casts his new role as God. The American scientist announced last week that he would solve global warming by manufacturing microbes to guzzle carbon dioxide in amounts hitherto unknown in nature. With an ambition unhindered by doubt, once climate change had been dealt with Dr Venter would design new single-celled bugs to produce commercial quantities of hydrogen - and thus fuel the post-oil age. Not only would he be creating life from scratch but he would, in his own words, "save the world". Is the hype justified by the science? Not really." (The Guardian)

"Post-Colonial Oppression" - "What my colleagues Chistopher DeMuth and Steven Hayward have christened "romantic environmentalism" - the view that protecting the environment must override all other concerns - emerged as a big loser at the giant U.N. Earth Summit in Johannesburg during September. The winner was economic development.

After all, decades of academic research shows that clean air and water are byproducts of prosperous economies. In Johannesburg, poor countries said they wanted to get rich. To get there, they need cheap, abundant energy - not the windmills and solar cells the Europeans want to foist on them. Expensive, exotic energy sources are fine for Denmark and France, but not - at least now - for Mozambique and Bangladesh." (James K. Glassman, TCS)

"Hi-tech crops 'will not save poor'" - "With plenty of food available to feed the hungry of the world, claiming that bio-technology or free trade is needed to solve the problem is a deliberate distortion, a distinguished Indian expert will tell the World Conference on Food and Farming in London today. The conference, timed to coincide with the Royal Smithfield Show, is sponsored largely by the bio-tech industry to promote their products but Devindar Sharma, chairman of the Forum for Biotechnology and Food Security in New Delhi is using his paper to attack the industry and politicians who promote it." (The Guardian)

"Weather could heat up Southern Africa food crisis" - "JOHANNESBURG - Southern Africa's food crisis could spread beyond the 14 million people now threatened with starvation if global weather patterns cut the coming seasonal rains needed for summer crops, aid workers said." (Reuters)

"Scientists condemn new gene technique" - "Researchers have developed a technique to speed evolution by inserting human cancer-causing genes into animals and plants. Hundreds of mutant breeds - which would normally take nature millennia to produce - could be developed in months by the method, known as hypermutability. But the technique - designed to improve production of new animal and crop breeds - has shocked many scientists and environmentalists. Some say the process could result in organisms with human cancer-causing genes being released into the environment. Others worry that attempts to accelerate evolution could be dangerous." (The Observer)

"US appears split over biotech food case - EU" - "WASHINGTON - The Bush administration appears to be split over whether to bring a trade case against the European Union for blocking imports of genetically modified crops, EU officials said. "It's ... clear that not everybody in the U.S. government agrees on a WTO case," said one EU official. While the U.S. Trade Representative's office appears eager to bring a case against the EU before the World Trade Organization, "it's quite clear the State Department is much more cautious," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity." (Reuters)

"U.S. Presses EU on Corn Aid to Zambia" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium - Warning about the potential for famine, the United States urged the European Union to do more to convince Zambia that trade relations will not suffer if it accepts U.S. food aid that includes biotech corn. "We've got a humanitarian problem," Under Secretary of Commerce Grant Aldonas said after meeting with officials at the European Commission, the EU's executive arm. About 30 percent of the population in Zambia faces starvation due to drought. Zambia's government decided in August to reject donated corn from the United States because some of it was genetically modified. Aid organizations are scrambling to find alternatives, but the United States is by far the largest donor." (AP)

November 22, 2002

"Drugged Driving Hopes" - "Federal officials announced a new effort to target motorists driving under the influence of illegal drugs. This may sound like a good idea to some, but it’s half-baked with a bizarre twist -- the feds have paid researchers to test "drugged drivers" in real traffic." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Asteroid impact factor less than thought: scientists" - "LONDON, ONT. - Objects that can flatten large areas of the Earth hit the upper atmosphere less often than scientists thought. A revised estimate says such impacts happen about once every 1,000 years. Earlier, scientists thought the collisions could occur every 300 years. But after reviewing more than eight years of military satellite data, Canadian and American researchers have downgraded the estimates. The new estimate suggests a massive near-Earth object that could alter the Earth's climate comes only once every 700,000 years." (CBC News)

"Non-native earthworms may be wiping out rare plants" - "Most of us don't pay much attention to earthworms but maybe we should. New research suggests that non-native earthworms are radically changing the forest floor in the northern U.S., threatening the goblin fern and other rare plants in the process." (Society for Conservation Biology)

"Pesticides linked to amphibian declines" - "California is a hotspot of amphibian decline – half of the state's frogs and toads are in trouble -- and new research suggests that agricultural pesticides may be one of the biggest reasons." (Society for Conservation Biology)

"Hatchery salmon may endanger wild cousins" - "Wild salmon in the Pacific Northwest are in trouble -- 26 populations are listed as threatened or endangered -- and many conservationists fear hatcheries are a big part of the problem. In support of this belief, new research suggests that hatchery-reared steelhead are a threat to wild chinook in the Snake River." (Society for Conservation Biology)

"Finding Surprises in the Garbage" - "The idea that America's output of garbage rises ever skyward — more trash, year by passing year — has become one of the great unchallenged assumptions about how the world works. The sun rises, the swallows return to Capistrano and our moldering mountain of refuse grows higher. The disposable society, like the tide, sweeps all before it." (New York Times)

"White House to fund greenhouse gas removal projects" - "WASHINGTON - The Bush administration will devote up to $90 million to develop new methods to combat global warming by taking carbon dioxide out of air and "locking" it in trees and grasses, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said yesterday." (Reuters)

"Oil chief warns of Kyoto suits: 'Divisive disaster': EnCana's Morgan sees 'years and years' of legal battles" - "CALGARY - Gwyn Morgan, the chief executive of Canada's largest energy company, warned yesterday Ottawa faces a "divisive disaster" and "years and years" of court battles if it moves ahead with its current plan for the Kyoto Protocol." (Financial Post)

"Challenging Kyoto from West to East" - "Every province and territory in Canada, from British Columbia to Newfoundland and Labrador, is committed to addressing the challenge of climate change. And no country in the world is better positioned to develop the solutions needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We have the talent, the resources, the innovation and the resolve to succeed.

That's why Canada's Premiers have unanimously called on the federal government to work with provinces and territories in developing a truly Canadian plan for tackling climate change -- one that is fair and affordable, respects provincial and territorial jurisdiction, recognizes the leadership our industries have already taken and maintains our economic competitiveness." (National Post)

Book Review: "A Page-turner on Economics (!?)" - "Why Energy Conservation Fails by Herbert Inhaber

Why Energy Conservation Fails is, in many ways, the most readable book on economics you will ever read. It is so innovative and fascinating in its approach that it is a page-turner.

Dr. Inhaber uses basic economic theory coupled with our well-known human nature to prove in dozens of ways that no artificial coercive strategy aimed at conserving anything can ever succeed. Through simple prose, supplemented with detailed illustrations and ample calculations, he makes his premise as certain as the law of gravity.

In making his case, Inhaber stands on the shoulders of giants of the past. These truths have been illustrated and handed down for centuries ... and yet the folly of coercive conservation runs rampant even today. Sadly, those who do not study the failures of the past are destined to repeat them, and that we do again and again." (Jay Lehr, Heartland Institute)

"Bush auto fuel efficiency plan criticized" - "WASHINGTON - Auto makers and environmentalists this week criticized a draft Bush administration plan to raise fuel economy standards for sport utility vehicles and other light trucks. An administration source said the proposal under development would boost fuel standards for that popular class of vehicles by 1.5 miles per gallon between the 2005-2007 model years. The total would be realized in half-gallon annual increases." (Reuters)

"Markets can reduce greenhouse gases - Bush adviser" - "HOUSTON - One way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is for American consumers to buy newer products, said President Bush's senior environmental adviser. "It requires getting more capital into U.S. industry so people can purchase newer products," said James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. "That's what's needed in the United States." (Reuters)

"Canada Softens Kyoto Plan, Reaffirms Ratification" - "OTTAWA - Canada softened plans for implementing the Kyoto climate-change accord on Thursday in a bid to placate unhappy provinces and industry groups that fear cutting greenhouse gases would cause serious economic damage. But the federal government insisted it would ratify the accord this year, even though the United States has decided against it and some of Canada's provinces continue to object." (Reuters)

"Ottawa's new Kyoto plan emphasizes individuals" - "OTTAWA - In its latest Kyoto plan, the federal government wants every Canadian to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions by one tonne a year. The revised plan was tabled in the House of Commons on Thursday. It calls on individuals as well as industry and government to play a role in implementing the accord. Each Canadian should reduce emissions by 20 per cent by conserving energy and through other means, the plan says." (CBC News)

"Reviews of Canada's Climate Change Plan Mixed" - "OTTAWA, Ontario, Canada, November 21, 2002 - Environment Minister David Anderson and Natural Resources Minister Herb Dhaliwal today released the government's latest Climate Change Plan for Canada. The plan outlines how Canada can meet the greenhouse gas reduction target it set for itself under the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change." (ENS)

"Canada's Top Kyoto Minister Admits He Has Two SUVs" - "OTTAWA - So what does Canada's natural resources minister drive when he's not pushing ratification of the Kyoto climate change protocol? Minister Herb Dhaliwal confessed that, well, he has two Volvos and two sport utility vehicles -- General Motors 4x4s, to be precise. One pair for Ottawa and one pair for his home in Vancouver. He was one of two cabinet members unveiling Canada's plans to implement the Kyoto climate change accord to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, which included calls to citizens to buy smaller fuel-efficient vehicles." (Reuters)

"EU issues ship emissions bill, fuel price to rise" - "BRUSSELS - The European Commission yesterday unveiled a bill to reduce air pollution from ships that could push up fuel prices for ship owners by up to 45 percent. The bill, which requires the approval of EU governments and the European Parliament, is aimed at cutting sulphur and other emissions from ships operating in European waters in order to reduce acid rain and smog pollution." (Reuters)

"FEATURE - Will the neon lights go out in Tokyo?" - "TOKYO - If they're unlucky, Tokyo residents could be huddling for warmth under blankets this winter. If they're really unlucky, the city's bright neon lights may dim and residents may swelter without air-conditioning next summer. The capital of the world's second-largest economy could face a power crunch in coming months as its largest utility, Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc (TEPCO), struggles to keep supplies flowing with more than half of its nuclear capacity shut for checks." (Reuters)

"Nature Conservancy settles oil royalties suit" - "The Nature Conservancy of Texas has quietly settled for $10 million a nasty lawsuit brought by a group that claimed it was deliberately cheated out of royalties from an oil and gas well on a patch of Texas City prairie." (Houston Chronicle)

"EPA to announce US farm manure, clean water rule" - "WASHINGTON - The Environmental Protection Agency said it would announce on Dec. 16 final rules to regulate the vast amounts of manure produced by large U.S. livestock farms, one of the nation's leading causes of water pollution. The EPA's final rules will detail how farms with hundreds or thousands of hogs, cattle and poultry - known in the industry as concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs - must control manure run-off and meet federal clean water requirements." (Reuters)

"Serving method and portion size affect the amount of food consumed at a single meal" - "Rolls et al. studied the effects of portion size on overall food intake, and concluded that large portions typically served in American restaurants or self-service during family meals may significantly affect the risk of obesity." (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition)

"Photosynthesis analysis shows work of ancient genetic engineering" - "Over the past few decades, biochemistry has deciphered most of the complex chemical systems involved in photosynthesis, but the question has remained how such a complex process could evolve. A new whole genome study of five diverse groups of photosynthetic bacteria has now yielded an answer – horizontal transfer of genes involved in metabolic pathways – with implications for biotechnology and astrobiology." (ASU)

"Anti-GMO Scientists Accused of Bias As Tempers Flare At Bio-Tech Conference" - "TEMPERS yesterday flared on the sidelines of the bio-technology and food security conference as scientists in favour of genetically altered foods accused fellow experts opposed to the technology of misleading consumers." (The Times of Zambia)

"Doctors slated over call to halt GM crops" - "SENIOR doctors were yesterday accused of adopting a policy of "stagnation" after demanding an immediate halt to genetically modified crops. Professor Tony Trewavas from the Royal Society of Edinburgh said yesterday if we had always adopted such a "precautionary attitude" progress would never have been achieved. Addressing the Scottish Parliament’s health committee, he said: "The precautionary principle which says do nothing until you know everything about anything is in fact a recipe for total stagnation. We would never have developed electricity, gas or aeroplanes or trains or anything if we had ever taken that principal to heart in life." (The Scotsman)

November 21, 2002

"Teenagers' Suit Says McDonald's Made Them Obese" - "Jazlyn Bradley loved her McDonald's Super Sized. A McMuffin in the morning and the Big Mac meal with an apple pie in the evening was standard operating procedure. Ashley Pelman was more of a Happy Meal girl. She liked the prizes. Ms. Bradley is 19 years old, 5-foot-6 and 270 pounds. Ms. Pelman, 14, is 4-foot-10 and weighs 170. Now, the two teenagers are suing the McDonald's Corporation and the two Bronx franchises they frequented for damages related to their obesity. Yesterday, a judge in United States District Court in Manhattan heard a motion to dismiss the case presented by lawyers for McDonald's." (New York Times)

"McDonald's fights obesity case" - "NEW YORK - A lawyer for McDonald's has argued that consumers know that hamburgers and French fries are fattening and urged a federal judge to throw out a suit blaming the company for obesity and diabetes in children. His arguments were made at the first federal court hearing in the controversial case aimed at holding McDonald's responsible for children's health and weight problems. Although other suits have been filed over the issue, lawyers said this is the only one that is actively being litigated. US District Judge Robert Sweet said he would decide later on Wednesday whether to dismiss the suit. "The plaintiffs' lawsuit asks the court to abandon common knowledge, common sense," said Bradley Lerman, a lawyer representing McDonald's." (Reuters)

"Rounding the curve on eco-terrorism?" - "Eco-terrorists are in the news once again. This time Earth Liberation Front (ELF) operatives have been implicated in a recent vandalism spree in central Virginia — the targets of which included SUVs parked outside residents' homes, fast-food restaurants, a housing development, a shopping mall and road construction equipment. For far too long, the ELF has sabotaged, vandalized, firebombed and harassed with impunity. They have instilled genuine fear in a number of communities nationwide." (Kelly A. Stoner, Washington Times)

"Fur special: The skin trade" - "Fur is back. Top designers are unafraid to use it, despite the animal-rights campaigners' graphic adverts and headline-grabbing demonstrations. Has there been a resurgence in the trade? Who wears fur? And can it be morally justified? Paul Vallely reports" (Independent)

"Experts Debate Global Warming" - "HOUSTON -- Opening a conference on global warming, a top environmental adviser to President Bush defended the administration's rejection of an international climate treaty as too costly for industry. James L. Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council of Environmental Quality, said Wednesday the 1997 Kyoto protocol on global warming -- which calls for the mandatory reduction of emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide -- is ``fundamentally flawed'' and unrealistic until science and technology become more advanced." (AP)

"Climate change is natural" - "The Kyoto Protocol assumes humankind causes global warming, but climate has always changed. For two million years, the Earth has been in an ice age marked by more than 30 glaciations, during which ice sheets covered most of North America to a depth of several kilometres. In the past 800,000 years, the pattern has been 100,000 years of extensive glaciation, interspersed with brief, warmer interglacials of 15,000 years. The next glaciation is less than 5,000 years ahead." (Globe and Mail)

"Study: Warming Will Deplete Water" - "LOS ANGELES -- Global warming will have a devastating effect on water availability in the western United States, a new climate forecast predicts. The report, released Thursday, involved more than two dozen scientists and engineers from around the country who undertook the study as a test of a national climate forecasting effort." (AP)

"Kyoto is only about politics" - "When measured against other decisions from which the Liberal government has backed away, the Prime Minister's desire to ram through the Kyoto Protocol is a massive anomaly. This is the same government that has been unable to make up its mind on a rich variety of important national issues. On medicare, agricultural subsidies, missile defence, terrorism, or the looming war with Iraq, the Liberals delay, prevaricate, and postpone. Only with the "Clarity Bill," which was the brainchild of Stéphane Dion in any event, has Chrétien shown anything like the decisiveness he now is demonstrating on Kyoto. So why the unseemly haste? Why the steely resolve?" (Barry Cooper and David Bercuson, Calgary Herald)

"Martin suggests Kyoto delay to try to get provinces onside" - "OTTAWA and EDMONTON -- The federal government should consider holding off ratification of the Kyoto Protocol in order to first try to reach more of a consensus with the provinces on how to implement it, former finance minister Paul Martin suggested yesterday. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien is determined to see Canada ratify the agreement before the end of the year, but has been unable to get most provinces to sign on to a strategy to implement its greenhouse-gas cuts." (Globe and Mail)

"Exxon-Led Group Is Giving a Climate Grant to Stanford" - "Four big international companies will give Stanford University $225 million over 10 years for research on ways to meet growing energy needs without worsening global warming." (New York Times)

"Stanford seeks greenhouse solutions" - "The oil company ExxonMobil is giving $100m to Stanford University in California, US, to find technical solutions to global warming. Substantial contributions from General Electric ($50m) and Schlumberger, a global technology services company ($25m), and other European sponsors will lift the total funding to $250m over 10 years. The money will pay for what the university is calling its Global Climate and Energy Project (G-Cep). It will be led by Dr Lynn Orr, who is the dean of Stanford's School of Earth Sciences." (BBC News Online)

"Industry must explain" - "MANUFACTURERS of farm crop chemicals have been told to spend more time and effort in explaining the need for their products to the general public. Failure to address this area could leave the way open to further attacks on the industry, said Hugh Oliver-Bellasis, the president of the British Crop Protection Council. "Whether we like it or not, science has become discredited and the public - our consumer customers - do not trust the person or the findings," he told the council’s Brighton conference. "The public does not understand the need for plant protection and is persuaded by our critics that sufficient food can be produced without their use." (The Scotsman)

"The Verdict Is In: Bt cotton works just fine. Do regulators?" - "The misapprehensions expressed over the non-suitability of Bt cotton for Indian conditions have proved to be unfounded. As farmers vouch for savings made on expensive pesticides and a yield advantage over conventional hybrids, the nation can put to rest fears that ranged from Bt cotton being appropriate only for temperate regions and/or large farms, to the assertion that pesticide savings won’t make up for high seed costs. Dry macro-economic variables aside, Bt cotton is quite remarkably transforming other aspects of the kisan’s life. Take, for instance, the Gujarat khedut who was only half-kidding when he told FE that “if this carries on, the farmers would be more than happy to pay income tax”. Or, the tale unfolding in the Vidarbha cotton belt wherein a Bt cotton bumper harvest and a non-Bt outcome of debt and poverty, thanks to a drought-induced crop failure, has become the difference between life and voluntary death for farmers. To be sure, the adoption of biotechnology will not rid Indian agriculture of all its evils, but genetically modified (GM) crops — in so far as they augment the farmers’ ability to overcome systemic weaknesses — do offer tremendous potential." (Financial Express editorial)

"Conference on GM food in Zambia recommends greater labeling" - "LUSAKA, Zambia - A conference on genetically modified food ended Wednesday with proposals for greater food labeling and renewed low-tech efforts to fight hunger in Africa. However, some accused the three-day conference of being hijacked by activists opposed to genetically modified food. An estimated 2.9 million Zambians, nearly 30 percent of the population, are in danger of starvation in the coming months." (Associated Press)

November 20, 2002

"Asbestos Fraud" - "Every law school should offer a course in legal ethics called "How Lawyers Abuse the Law." The first case study would be asbestos litigation, which shows how the thirst for profits has led a small group of trial lawyers to erode the rights of legitimate victims while driving dozens of companies into bankruptcy and -- worst of all -- corrupting the court system. If Congress does not fix this problem, shame on it." (Robert J. Samuelson, The Washington Post)

For the latest in upmarket tinfoil: "Hat to combat cell phone health worries" - "OSLO, Norway - A Norwegian-based group launched a novel baseball-style cap this week to shield users of mobile telephones from radio emissions that some people fear can trigger cancers." (Reuters)

"UF study suggests schools boost empty calories to raise test scores" - "Faced with ever-increasing pressure to boost state-mandated test scores, some school districts have sought an advantage by pumping up their pupils with extra calories from junk food, a study conducted at the University of Florida suggests." (University of Florida)

Hmm... junk + food = brain + food, therefore junk = brain? That'd be right...

"Omega-3: benefits outweigh the risks" - "19/11/02 - Healthy people should eat omega-3 fatty acids from fish and plant sources to protect their hearts, according to updated recommendations from the American Heart Association published in today's Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association." (FoodProductionDaily.com)

"Hormone therapy, vitamins don't help heart: study" - "NEW YORK - Antioxidant vitamins, either alone or in combination with hormone replacement therapy (HRT), do not appear to provide any heart health benefits to postmenopausal women, researchers said Tuesday." (Reuters Health)

"Council for Responsible Nutrition questions WAVE study conclusions" - "The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), a leading dietary supplement industry trade association, questions the Women's Angiographic Vitamin and Estrogen (WAVE) Trial investigators' conclusions and considers the design flawed and conclusions as based on statistically insignificant data. "Even those statistics that appear significant are, in actuality, the exact pattern that would randomly occur if no treatments had been administered, and as the authors state, this could be a 'chance finding'," said John Hathcock, Ph.D., vice president, CRN." (Council for Responsible Nutrition)

"U.S. cosmetics panel allows use of disputed chemical" - "WASHINGTON — Regulators from within the American cosmetics industry voted Tuesday to allow the use of a chemical ingredient in perfumes and beauty products which critics have linked to birth defects in animals. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel ruled that three phthalates, chemicals used to make fragrances last longer, posed no health threat to cosmetics wearers." (Reuters)

"Most Catalogs Spurn Recycled Paper" - "WASHINGTON, DC, November 19, 2002 - The catalog industry produces billions of copies of catalogs each year, printed exclusively on virgin paper, finds a new report by the New York based conservation group Environmental Defense. Of the 42 companies surveyed for the report, just three use recycled paper in the body of their catalogs, while at least 20 - including many designed to cater to nature enthusiasts - use no recycled paper at all." (ENS)

"Environment commissioner endorses climate change evidence" - "TORONTO - Global warming is happening, greenhouse gases are increasing and people are causing the problem, Ontario's environmental commissioner said Tuesday. Gord Miller reviewed scientific studies from around the world, including those compiled by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change and the National Research Centre in the U.S." (CBC News)

"How many kinds of sweet flowers grow in an English country garden? Not many now" - "The English cottage garden with its delphiniums and lupins and the suburban obsession with creating the perfect lawn is passing into history to be replaced with citrus fruits, pomegranates and even bananas, according to gardening and climate experts. Many of the important plant collections in the care of the National Trust and the Royal Horticultural Society will have to be moved hundreds of miles north if they are to survive, and existing showcase gardens redesigned with different plants. The two organisations, along with experts from the UK Climate Impacts Programme, yesterday launched the first definitive study in the world on the problem." (The Guardian) | Gardeners urged to grasp climate nettle (Financial Times)

It does not appear to be the lawn-growers who are in need of therapy. Methinks these imaginative souls need to wake up & smell what they're shovelling 'round the roses.

"Guest Editorial: Elevated CO2 Will Affect Human Nutrition" - "Summary: In the interest of fairness, we relinquish our editorial space this week to Dr. Irakli Loladze of Princeton University, who responds to our Editorial of 30 October 2002, where we criticized several aspects of a paper of his that was recently published in Trends in Ecology & Evolution." (co2science.org)

"Effects of Ozone on Plants (Agricultural Species)" - "Summary: Elevated tropospheric ozone concentrations cause devastating crop production losses on a global scale. Can the rising CO2 content of the air do anything to ameliorate this sad situation?" (co2science.org)

"Streamflow (Historic Trends)" - "Summary: Will the planet's hydrologic cycle begin working overtime, increasing the flow rates of rivers and streams the world over, as the air's CO2 content continues to climb? Or will it do just the opposite and bring us devastating droughts? Or will it do about as it has in the past?" (co2science.org)

"Thirteen Thousand Years of Storminess in the Northeastern United States" - "Summary: Has storminess in this part of the world varied significantly in the past? And if it has, does the historical record provide any support for climate-alarmist claims of current or imminent CO2-induced increases in either storm frequency or intensity? Nature 419: 821-824." (co2science.org)

"Temperature Extremes in a Warming World" - "Summary: Will they be closer to or farther from the mean? Climate Research 22: 205-213." (co2science.org)

"Alberta introduces bill it says will give it control of greenhouse gases" - "EDMONTON -- Alberta fired another shot at Ottawa over the Kyoto climate change treaty Tuesday with legislation it says will give it control over its greenhouse gas emissions. "The Alberta government is opposed to the Kyoto protocol," said Environment Minister Lorne Taylor in announcing Bill 32, the Climate Change and Emissions Management Act. "The act clearly reinforces our position that the government of Alberta, on behalf of Albertans, owns and is responsible for the exploration, development and production of natural resources in our province." Under the act, carbon dioxide and methane -- key components of greenhouse gases -- would be considered non-toxic natural resources under provincial jurisdiction." (CP)

"Exxon, GE, Schlumberger Invest in Energy Project" - "IRVING, Texas - Exxon Mobil Corp. on Wednesday said it would join with General Electric Co. and Schlumberger to fund a research project at Stanford University to develop alternative energy sources. The project, under which Exxon Mobil will invest $100 million, GE $50 million and Schlumberger $25 million, is the Stanford University Global Climate and Energy Project. Exxon said the project would accelerate the development of low greenhouse gas emission technologies." (Reuters) [Complete]

"Factory chickens safer than organic" - "ORGANIC and free-range chickens are more likely to carry a bacterial infection that can cause food poisoning than those reared in factory farms, according to research for the Food Standards Agency (FSA). Preliminary findings by scientists at Bristol University showed that the water-borne bacterium campylobacter, which is linked to more than 60,000 food-poisoning cases a year, was found in all organic chickens compared with 58 per cent of birds reared in sheds." (The Times) | Food-poison warning over organic chickens (Independent)

"Biotech companies agree to stricter rules on Biotech corn" - "WASHINGTON - U.S. biotech companies, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, said they agreed to prohibit U.S. producers from growing certain gene-spliced corn if they fail to comply with government regulations two years in a row." (Reuters)

"France's Bove Gets Jail for GM Crop Attacks" - "PARIS - Militant French farmer Jose Bove, a star of the world anti-globalization movement, faced 14 months in jail for attacks on genetically modified crops Tuesday after France's top court threw out his appeal." (Reuters) | A Star of Anti-Globalization Has Fallen (New York Times)

November 19, 2002

"Studies Conflict on Common Herbicide's Effects on Frogs" - "Is the herbicide atrazine harming amphibians in the wild? After a flurry of new results, scientists have still not reached a consensus." (New York Times)

"New buzz on coffee: It's not the caffeine that raises blood pressure" - "People who enjoy the occasional decaf latte may be getting more of a lift than they know, scientists report in today's rapid access issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association." (American Heart Association)

"Lifestyle may be to blame for rise in asthma - study" - "SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Living in the so-called First World could be bad for your health.

An expert at the annual convention of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology said on Friday a rise in asthma cases may be linked, in part, to cleanliness and abundance.

"In the best countries in the world, the ones that have the cleanest air, the best food, the best vaccinations, the incidence of allergy and asthma is at its highest," said physician Bob Lanier, the organization's president.

"And in fact the places in the world that have the lowest quality of life issues - dirty air, pollution, unvaccinated, not enough calories, poor - they have the lowest incidence," he said." (Reuters)

"'BSE-resistant' sheep succumbs to disease in lab test" - "Plans to protect Britain's 40 million sheep from BSE-like diseases have suffered a potentially serious setback after a sheep supposedly resistant to such conditions was reported to have been infected in a laboratory test. The sheep succumbed more than 33 months after being injected in the brain with brain material from a BSE-contaminated cow. Further tests are being done to confirm the diagnosis, but it appears the first time such disease has been caused, albeit artificially, in a sheep of this type. Others with less genetic resistance have succumbed far more rapidly." (The Guardian)

"Armageddon Can Wait: Stopping Killer Asteroids" - "Increasingly, those scientists who study asteroid hazards say that a subtle, quiet, slow approach might be called for." (New York Times)

"Ocean robots watching our climate" - "A new array of ocean robots has begun working deep in the Indian Ocean to help scientists understand Australia's changing climate.

"This is a key region for the global climate system and installation of the robots will provide our best coverage to begin to understand how the Indian Ocean affects our climate," says CSIRO's Dr Gary Meyers.

Cycling between the surface and a depth of two kilometres every 10 days, the ocean robots are sampling conditions in a region thought to be a source of southern Australian rainfall." (CSIRO)

"Can the WTO and the Kyoto Protocol Co-exist?; Some assert that, in shunning the climate agreement, the U.S. gets an unfair advantage, according to a new study" - "New York, N.Y., November 15, 2002 – Is the Kyoto Protocol on curbing greenhouse gas emissions compatible with international rules under the World Trade Organization? A paper issued today by a leading industry group raises troubling questions concerning recent WTO rulings and their possible application to climate policy.

The study, by the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), asks whether countries might decide the U.S. has an unfair trade advantage by not adhering to Kyoto. USCIB cites statements by the European Union, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth suggesting that U.S. exports might be sanctioned under WTO rules as the result of U.S. non-compliance with Kyoto, since U.S. energy costs would presumably be deemed "unfairly" low.

"This issue has the potential to cause an absolute train wreck in the rules-based international trading system," said Timothy E. Deal, USCIB's senior vice president in Washington, D.C. "There is a crying need for WTO members to come to grips with the intersection between multilateral environmental agreements like Kyoto and established WTO rules to liberalize trade." (USCIB)

"Martin may not vote for Kyoto" - "OTTAWA - Paul Martin will make "every honest effort" to implement Kyoto should he become prime minister, his advisors say. However, the former finance minister has still not decided whether he will support ratification of the agreement in an upcoming Commons vote." (National Post)

"Martin favours Kyoto but calls for consensus" - "OTTAWA - The leading candidate to replace Jean Chrétien as Liberal leader has come out in favour of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change – but with one condition. Paul Martin told reporters Monday that he has always supported the climate-change agreement and is inclined to vote for ratification. But the former finance minister also says he would prefer to see national consensus on the accord. "I think that every effort should be made to sit down and see if a consensus is possible. I think Canadians are entitled to know the benefits and the costs." (CBC News)

"Japan to test gas emissions market from January - report" - "TOKYO - Japan's Environment Ministry will conduct a trial run from January of a greenhouse gas emissions market the government plans to start nationwide as early as 2005, Kyodo news agency said. The market is part of Japan's efforts to meet its Kyoto Protocol target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by six percent from 1990 levels." (Reuters)

"Greenpeace seeks Australia 10% rise in green power" - "MELBOURNE - Environmental group Greenpeace said yesterday a study has found Australia could raise its increased renewable energy target to 10 percent by the end of the decade without driving up power prices. Australia in 2001 mandated a two percent rise in the share of renewable energy in electricity use by 2010, but potential investors and green groups want a more ambitious target set following a scheduled review of the legislation next year." (Reuters)

"Arson and Earth First! and ALF -- Oh My!" - "It’s been a busy few weeks for activists who try to make their feelings known through violence, theft, and vandalism. Here’s a sampling:

In the wake of 12 indictments handed down last week against members of the violent animal rights group SHAC, Boston television station WHDH aired a segment Monday night about animal-rights extremism. Speaking about SHAC members who stalk, terrify, and sometimes physically assault people connected to medical research on animals, Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly stated the obvious. “Those are crimes,” he said. “That is criminal behavior. Are they acts of terrorism? Yes they are.”

This morning’s Providence Journal carries an opinion piece by Center for Consumer Freedom research director David Martosko, who points out the connections between SHAC thugs and “mainstream” animal activists from groups like PETA. “We ask nicely for years and get nothing,” PETA president Ingrid Newkirk complained earlier this year. "Someone makes a threat, and it works.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that eco-radicals have claimed “credit” (read: “guilt”) for a fire that gutted a laboratory belonging to the U.S. Forest Service. Susan Stout, the lab’s head of research, told the Inquirer: “We are having to learn, and our families are having to learn, to deal with the fact that somebody has chosen to identify us as targets for personal violence. We have had to think differently about how to conduct our lives.” Pittsburgh TV station WTAE described the arson as causing $700,000 in damage.

The Earth Liberation Front is claiming responsibility for a rash of vandalism attacks in Virginia. Violent activists have slashed SUV tires, etched their calling card (“ELF”) into truck windshields and restaurant windows, and even destroyed two vehicles with hatchets. A New York Times story this morning points out, correctly, that ELF is an offshoot of the “Earth First!” movement, which still operates above ground and, seemingly, beyond the reach of law enforcement.

In Great Britain, animal rights activists are being blamed for an arson attack on a beef processing plant. The fire swept through two trucks, causing over $47,000 in damage before firefighters could get it under control. While it’s clear that animal rights activists are involved, there’s no word yet on whether this crime is linked to a series of similar arsons, vandalisms and break-ins that have caused over $8 million in damage since June 2001.

A McDonald’s restaurant under construction was set ablaze in Eastern France last week. According to the Ananova news service, the fire “blew out windows, collapsed the building’s roof and shattered much of its interior.” It was set to open in December.

Elsewhere in France, the Associated Press reports that animal rights activists broke into a mink farm on Sunday, “liberating” over 1,000 animals. The farm’s owner estimated his loss at over $30,000.

In Oregon, the FBI is searching for an Earth Liberation Front (ELF) eco-terrorist who goes by the pseudonym “Tre Arrow.” He has been the subject of a federal arson warrant since July. Like many of his compatriots who hide behind ski masks and the cover of night, Tre Arrow is turning out to be quite a coward. Three Portland State University students, described in court documents as his disciples, have been in custody for months, yet Arrow is nowhere to be found.

The Portland Oregonian says that Arrow’s partners in crime were turned in after one of them told his girlfriend about the crime. The ELF arsonists apparently set “eight homemade incendiaries made of gallon milk jugs” underneath log trucks and a front-end loader. The whistle-blowing girlfriend is the daughter of a deputy state fire marshal. Bragging to her about committing arson was probably not the smartest thing to do." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"'ORGANIC' BEEF SCAM" - "November 18, 2002 -- The upscale organic-food chain Healthy Pleasures has been scamming customers by repackaging conventional meat and passing it off as organic and natural, a Post investigation has found." (New York Post)

"GMO focus for Finland" - "The Board of the Academy of Finland announced this week that it has taken the decision to launch seven new research programmes in 2003 – one of which will focus on the societal and health effects of genetically modified organisms." (NutraIngredients.com)

"The covert biotech war" - "The president of Zambia is wrong. Genetically modified food is not, as far as we know, "poison". While adequate safety tests have still to be conducted, there is as yet no compelling evidence that it is any worse for human health than conventional food. Given the choice with which the people of Zambia are now faced - starvation and eating GM - I would eat GM.

The real problem with engineered crops, as this column has been pointing out for several years, is that they permit the big biotech companies to place a padlock on the food chain. By patenting the genes and all the technologies associated with them, the corporations are manoeuvring themselves into a position from which they can exercise complete control over what we eat. This has devastating implications for food security in poorer countries." (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

"Undeniable Truths About Biotech Food" - "As more and more people begin to understand the measurable benefits (and immeasurably tiny risks) associated with genetically improved foods, some activists will stop at nothing to try and turn the tide against those responsible for this latest agricultural revolution.

Few facts about feeding the world are clearer than these:

Still, activists march on in their quest to spread infectious ignorance. Last week, Greenpeace convinced Trader Joe’s, a US-based grocery chain, to remove genetically improved ingredients from all of its store-brand food products. Greenpeace has said that it will use this victory in order to pressure other grocery chains to follow suit.

Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser is insisting on taking his anti-Monsanto crusade all the way to the Canadian Supreme Court. Schmeiser has been claiming for years that biotech canola in a field five miles away “contaminated” his crop. A court of law, however, found that over 90 percent of his field contained genetically modified canola -- which could only happen if he had planted the biotech seeds himself. Activist groups like the Council of Canadians (roughly equivalent to Ralph Nader’s scare-mongering Public Citizen organization) are already hedging their bets, conceding that Schmeiser might be lying but calling it “irrelevant.”

The coup de grace comes from activist groups like Consumers International and the Institute for Food and Development Policy. Along with anti-scientific activists like Vandana Shiva* and Mae Wan Ho, they are setting up a phony “African Consumers Conference” -- in Zambia, of all places -- in order to present the illusion that sub-Saharan Africans would rather starve than eat biotech grain. So far, the spin may be working: the Christian Science Monitor reports that “misinformation has clouded the debate.” One typical comment from a Zambian who has swallowed a little too much activist propaganda: “The problem is with the GM poison. It shortens human life. I would not eat it -- for I could die.” (Center For Consumer Freedom)

* See The Villainous Vandana Shiva, A False Environmental Prophet by Michael Fumento

November 18, 2002

"British Crop Group Speaker Claims Organic Farming on a Global Basis Would be an Environmental Catastrophe" - "Nobel Laureates, World Leaders and Even Greenpeace Founder Prefer High-Yielding Conventional Agriculture

Churchville, VA, November 15, 2002 - Dennis Avery, Director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Global Food Issues (CGFI) will present a speech at the British Crop Protection Council Conference this Monday, November 18th, during their symposium, "The Global Challenge - Sustainable Food Production." (Full schedule at http://www.bcpc.org).

With the rallying call of "Growing More Per Acre, Leaves More Room for Nature," Mr. Avery will address the need to increase global food supplies for a world population expected to reach 9 billion by the year 2050 while simultaneously protecting the earth's biodiversity. Mr. Avery will discuss the benefits of modern farming practices, which have allowed mankind to increase food production on limited amounts of land, and he will challenge public misperceptions often created by the organic food industry." (CGFI)

"Environmental Health Hazards to Be Studied" - "BERKELEY -- A new center run by UC Berkeley and UCLA will study associations between disease and environmental pollutants, including air pollution and pesticides. It will also help state and county health departments better monitor these links. "For the first time in this state, we have both the northern university and UCLA in the south working to develop better approaches to tracking environmental health hazards," said John Froines, head of the UCLA scientists and a professor of toxicology in the university's School of Public Health." (Los Angeles Times)

Meaningless figure du jour: "Dioxins in babies at 85 times safety limit" - "Newborn babies have been taking in 85 times the recommended limit of dioxins in their mothers' milk, the Government admits. Dioxins are among the most dangerous of chemicals, and the Government says it has no idea when it will be able to bring them down to safe levels." (Independent on Sunday)

"No Natural Paradox" - "The U.S. climate science community has been asked by the Bush Administration to help plan its research agenda for the next few years. The goal is to define, reliably, the human effect on global climate change resulting from anthropogenic emissions of, for instance, carbon dioxide, methane, aerosols and soot that would interfere with natural climate change. Present estimates of the human impact abound with uncertainty, and the objective of continued research is to reduce that uncertainty." (Sallie Baliunas, TCS)

Pure, objective science? "Key to global warming prediction within reach" - "The search for a Holy Grail of climate science may be nearing an end, if an MIT-led project is launched by NASA to measure soil moisture—data needed to predict global change, assess global warming and support the Kyoto Protocol.

That measurement has been missing from the array of clues—rainfall, atmospheric chemistry, humidity and temperature—used by scientists to predict change in the local and global climate. Using soil moisture, they can calculate evaporation—the process that links the water, energy and carbon cycles—giving them a better understanding of global change." (MIT)

I particularly enjoyed the part about "... data needed to predict global change, assess global warming and support the Kyoto Protocol." [em added] So comforting to rest assured that science is not being corrupted to fit any predetermined agenda.

"Emissions pact 'goofily concocted theory'" - "Vancouver - Alberta Premier Ralph Klein made a spirited defence of his made-in-Canada approach to global warming Friday, calling the Kyoto Protocol on climate change a "goofily concocted theory" that doesn't make sense for Canada. Klein, spearheading opposition to the federal government's plan to ratify Kyoto by the end of the year, warned Alberta would fight the accord to the last ditch." (The Halifax Herald)

Desperation time: "Critics of Kyoto try to scare Canadians: Anderson" - "TORONTO - Canadian firms opposed to the Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gases are making false claims to try to win public support, according to Environment Minister David Anderson." (CBC News)

"Ottawa to brush aside provinces' Kyoto concerns" - "OTTAWA and VANCOUVER -- The federal government is preparing to start the Kyoto Protocol ratification process with a parliamentary debate on the matter in two weeks or less, even as hopes dim for a final meeting to patch up differences between Ottawa and the provinces over the accord." (Globe and Mail)

"Kyoto chills hopes of developing world" - "The recent United Nations Conference in New Delhi, India, concerning what to do about global warming did not go as Western environmentalists had hoped. Leaders of developing countries are wising up to the con game environmentalists have been playing for too many years. On the one hand, environmentalists have argued that environmental quality and economic progress can go together. That is true. On the other hand, they've claimed developing countries can develop economically without adopting the technologies that have improved the lives of people in industrialized countries. This is false, and Third World leaders are beginning to realize it." (H. Sterling Burnett, Washington Times)

"UK minister says NETA thwarts CHP power, green goals" - "LONDON - Britain's environment minister said the country's power trading reforms were a threat to its energy-efficient combined heat and power (CHP) sector and goals to cut polluting greenhouse gas emissions." (Reuters)

"Tax carbon use, says Royal Society" - "One of the central planks of the government's strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is flawed and should be replaced by a tax on carbon use, Britain's academy of science, the Royal Society, argues today." (The Guardian)

"Cost of electricity 'must rise 15% to fight global warming'" - "Electricity bills and petrol prices should rise by more than 10 per cent to force homeowners and motorists to contribute to the cost of fighting global warming, Britain's premier scientific body recommends today. The Royal Society said that the climate-change levy on businesses, which has been criticised for penalising manufacturing industry, should be replaced by a wider carbon tax that covers households and motorists." (Independent)

"Japan industry minister proposes coal tax" - "TOKYO - Japan's trade and industry minister, Takeo Hiranuma, proposed last week introducing a tax on coal in part to fund environmental policies to reduce gases that cause global warming." (Reuters)

"Review riles renewable energy sector" - "The call by the Parer review of energy markets for the scrapping of the mandatory renewable energy target scheme has alarmed the sector, which says it would destroy the industry." (The Melbourne Age)

"Scottish windmills to power London" - "THE government plans to turn Scotland into the renewable energy powerhouse of Britain, with dozens of new wind farms and hydroelectric dams supplying London and other English cities with electricity. The scheme, drawn up by Brian Wilson, the energy minister, would see tens of thousands of acres in Scotland dotted with wind turbines or submerged behind dams. It will be laid out as part of a government white paper on energy which is due for publication shortly." (The Sunday Times) [Subscription may be required]

"Top scientists seek tax break for nuclear plants" - "BRITAIN’S most respected scientific body is to call on the government to support the expansion of nuclear power, writes Jonathan Leake." (The Sunday Times) [Subscription may be required]

"Rash of Vandalism in Richmond May Be Tied to Environment Group" - "RICHMOND, Va., Nov. 17 — The authorities are investigating whether vandals who have swept through here in recent months, slashing tires, defacing businesses and damaging construction equipment, were members of the Earth Liberation Front, an environmental organization considered by the F.B.I. to be one of America's most prolific domestic terrorist groups." (New York Times)

"Eco-radicals escalate threat of violent acts" - "IRVINE, Pa. - For the employees at the U.S. Forest Service lab here, the scariest moment might not have been when their building went up in flames before dawn. That occurred a few weeks later, when a radical environmental group took credit for the fire with an anonymous "communique" posted on the Internet. "While innocent life will never be harmed in any action we undertake, where it is necessary, we will no longer hesitate to pick up the gun to implement justice," said the statement, from a group called the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). Some experts on extremist groups say those words, posted in September, signal a new, more violent approach by "ecoterrorists." (Philadelphia Inquirer)

"Trying to Engineer Heart Cells From Skin, Muscle and Blood" - "CHICAGO, Nov. 17 — In a line of research called promising, scientists reported today that they were trying to develop treatments for heart disease by taking skin, muscle and blood cells from a patient, engineering them in a laboratory and then injecting them back into the patient.

The hope is that the engineered cells will transform into heart cells to make failing hearts pump more effectively and extend the lives of many people with heart failure, researchers said as the American Heart Association's annual scientific meeting opened here today." (New York Times)

"Meet the cloned cash cow - coming soon to a farmyard near you" - "Replica DNA developed in US will arouse anger if sold in Europe" (The Guardian)

"Zambian debate over GM food has set back hunger relief efforts, WFP says" - "JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - The Zambian government's lengthy debate over whether to accept genetically modified food aid has hampered efforts to relieve that nation's hunger crisis, World Food Program officials said Friday." (AP)

November 15, 2002

"Salt Assault" - "Processed food and restaurant meals should contain 50 percent less salt, says the American Public Health Association. The APHA passed that resolution this week at its annual meeting.

It’s too bad the APHA resorted to a recommendation based on 1970s-think and self-interest rather than current scientific research." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

Book Review: "The Cholesterol Myths" - "How refreshing! What a delight! When your self-imposed ordeal is to read reams of bad science, written in bad English by dullards, it is like a tropical holiday in midwinter to read something that is the very antithesis.

Most of us of the sceptical persuasion were aware that the heart-diet theory did not hold water, but here is chapter and verse to prove it. It is certainly rare to come across a work of true scholarship these days and you don’t get them coming out of universities, where the pursuit of grants from bureaucrats has taken priority." (John Brignell, NumberWatch)

"Ad links meat-eating, Pickton case" - "VANCOUVER - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a radical animal-rights group, is launching a new campaign against animal abuse hinged on allegations that accused serial killer Robert Pickton murdered 15 women at his pig farm. An ad for the campaign asks readers to pay tribute to Mr. Pickton's alleged victims by becoming vegetarians." (National Post)

"Jury orders gun seller to pay widow: Company found 5% responsible in Lake Worth teacher's death" - "In a landmark ruling that stunned gun-industry experts, a Palm Beach County jury Thursday ordered a firearm distributor to pay a teacher's widow $1.2 million in a case that targeted ``Saturday night specials.''

The verdict, split three ways, marked the first time a gun distributor was found liable in a death, according to attorneys for Pam Grunow, whose husband Barry was shot and killed by Nathaniel Brazill, one of his students, on the last day of school in 2000. It was also the first time a case combined claims that an inexpensive handgun is inherently defective and should be sold with safety locks.

Both sides claimed victory -- the gun distributor was found 5 percent responsible in the slaying -- and both say they plan to appeal." (The Miami Herald)

"NASA SATELLITE FLIES HIGH TO MONITOR SUN’S INFLUENCE ON OZONE" - "In October, the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) completed the first measurement of the solar ultraviolet radiation spectrum over the duration of an 11 year solar cycle, a period marked by cyclical shifts in the Sun’s activity. This long measurement record by two instruments aboard UARS will give researchers better insight into how fluctuations in the Sun’s energy affect ozone and the Earth’s climate. In turn, the data set gives scientists tools to document the influence of man-made chemicals on ozone loss." (NASA/GSFC)

"New Study Warns of Threats to Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park; Famed Glaciers Vanishing Under Current Warming Weather Trend" - "FORT COLLINS, Colo., Nov. 14 -- Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, more than a million acres of mountain and forest wilderness straddling the Continental Divide on the Montana-Alberta border, is threatened by global pollution, inadequate funding for basic park operations, and haphazard development on surrounding private lands, according to a new study released today by the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA)." (U.S. Newswire)

"Kyoto: myths and science" - "A group of senior scientists and engineers yesterday released what it called nine Kyoto myths and urged Ottawa not to ratify the protocol because the science behind it is unproven. The National Post asked Andrew Weaver, who heads the climate modelling group at the University of Victoria, to respond." (National Post)

"Kyoto not binding, Manley says" - "CALGARY, OTTAWA and EDMONTON -- Canadians shouldn't worry about international penalties if the country falls short of the Kyoto Protocol's targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, Finance Minister John Manley said last night. Mr. Manley, also the deputy prime minister, said Canada should take its Kyoto obligations seriously if the pact is ratified, but added that the accord is not a legally enforceable contract. Some anti-Kyoto advertisements have compared the accord to a contract. "But the bailiff isn't going to arrive to seize our property. There is no international Kyoto court that can seize our assets or force us to pay a fine," said Mr. Manley, in Alberta yesterday to gather input for the next budget." (Globe and Mail)

"Kyoto Protocol relies on Russian support" - "Whether the Kyoto Protocol to curb greenhouse gas emissions comes into force will be decided in Moscow. For the treaty to become binding it has to be ratified by nations responsible for 55 per cent of developed-country carbon dioxide emissions in 1990, Kyoto's baseline year. The United States and Australia, at 36.1 and 2.1 per cent respectively, have said they will not be ratifying. But Japan and 23 European countries, including the 15 members of the European Union and most recently Poland, have ratified, representing just over 40 per cent. So Russia's 17.4 per cent is both necessary and sufficient to reach the critical mass of ratification." (New Zealand Herald)

"Paying the price to keep cool" - "New Zealand is on track to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty to curb emissions of the "greenhouse" gases blamed for global warming, by the end of the year. On Wednesday night, Parliament passed the Climate Change Response Bill, the legal framework for ratification of the protocol. So New Zealand is headed for a future in which the right to emit greenhouse gases is no longer free." (New Zealand Herald)

"New Zealand to ratify Kyoto Protocol by Christmas" - "WELLINGTON - New Zealand said yesterday it would ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change by Christmas now that the government had received final legal authority." (Reuters)

"Tokyo to make CO2 cuts mandatory for major firms" - "Factories and offices in Tokyo will be required by law to curb carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in an unprecedented move to achieve Japan's pledge under the Kyoto Protocol, sources said Wednesday. The Tokyo metropolitan government will revise a local environment ordinance as early as fiscal 2003 to force leading CO2 emitters to cut their emissions, the sources said." (The Asahi Shimbun)

"Sharp to set up first US solar power plant" - "MEMPHIS, Tennessee - The U.S. unit of Japanese electronics giant Sharp Corp. said this week it will open its first overseas solar product assembly plant in January at its facility in Memphis, Tennessee." (Reuters)

"Europe wind energy sector grows 40 pct yr/yr-study" - "LONDON - Europe's wind energy industry grew by 40 percent over the last year mainly as a result of new wind farms in Germany and Spain, a European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) study showed." (Reuters)

"UK nuclear liability fund gets go-ahead" - "LONDON - Britain said this week it would go ahead with plans to put its 48 billion pounds of state nuclear clean-up liabilities into a special fund, a move that could open the way for a new round of nuclear privatisation." (Reuters)

"Toxicologists Weigh In on GM Foods" - "The Society of Toxicology is a well-respected professional organization of scientists who study human, animal and environmental health. In September 2002 it issued a position statement on genetically modified foods. The Society pointed out that the term genetically modified foods is misleading because conventional breeding and crop modification also leads to genetic alterations.

The paper makes four main points: 1) Evidence shows that potential adverse effects from GM foods are no different from conventional foods; 2) The concept that GM foods are substantially equivalent to conventional foods is supported; 3) Safety to consumers of GM foods is no different from other foods; and 4) The changes in composition of GM foods are quite limited. The report is available here

HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: This group concurs with virtually every other scientific report that genetically modified foods should not be considered substantially different from other foods. The fourth point about limited changes is quite relevant for GM foods intended for consumption. There are plants being tested to provide vaccines or proteins, but these would never be used for food purposes. A company would get much more money for the former than the latter." (Nutrition News Focus)

"US soybean group says biotech snafu won't hurt trade" - "WASHINGTON - The possible contamination in Nebraska of a batch of U.S. soybeans by genetically-modified corn is not expected to hinder soybean exports, the head of the American Soybean Association said." (Reuters)

"Famine and the GM debate" - "Amid the efforts to cope with a famine threatening 30 million Africans, a row is raging over genetically modified (GM) food aid. Zambia is refusing to accept any assistance that includes it, and its neighbours have agreed to accept GM grain only if it is milled before distribution. These countries are concerned that letting in food aid containing genetically modified material will lead to the planting of seeds and the contamination of domestic crops." (BBC News Online)

November 14, 2002

"An atomic-powered plan to end sleeping sickness" - "Forgotten amid the headlines about AIDS, a feared and ancient scourge - sleeping sickness - is again on the march in Africa. And, bereft of new ideas on how to fight it, UN scientists are about to embark on a hugely expensive, high-risk plan to obliterate the disease by wiping out the fly that carries it. They want to cause a crash in the continent's tsetse fly population by spraying the bush with billions of sterilized male flies.

Many biologists think the idea is ill-advised. The only successful trial of the project cost an estimated $500 per dead fly. But the United Nations is backing it, along with many African governments." (Boston Globe)

"Alcoholic haze" - John Brignell looks at media hyperventilation generated by meta analysis-suggested breast cancer RR 1.06. (NumberWatch)

"Inflammation Triggers Heart Attacks" - "BOSTON -- Despite their seemingly healthy cholesterol levels, new research shows many people are at high risk of heart attacks because of painless inflammation in the bloodstream. The inflammation comes from many sources and triggers heart attacks by weakening the walls of blood vessels, making fatty buildups burst. A large study published Thursday concludes it is twice as likely as high cholesterol to trigger heart attacks." (AP)

"EPA and Environment Groups Reach Deal on Smog" - "WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reached an out-of-court agreement with environmental groups on Wednesday to activate a 1997 program to cut smog-causing ozone. The consent decree requires the EPA to determine which areas of the United States fail to meet national ozone standards by April 2004, and then make plans for reductions. Environmental groups said 38 states will likely be out of compliance. Individual states must now tell the EPA which areas within their boundaries violate its ozone level standard, set in 1997, of 0.08 parts per million over an eight-hour measurement period. The agency has never enforced the standard because of court challenges from industry claiming the measures were too strict. EPA applauded the decree, filed in the U.S. District Court in Washington." (Reuters)

"'Rubbish trading' scheme to cut waste at landfill sites" - "'Rubbish trading' is the Government's latest response to Britain's waste crisis. Local councils will now have to buy and sell permits among themselves if they want to dump rubbish. This will provide an incentive to cut waste councils send to landfill: Council A has got its waste down and has permits to spare, so sells them to less successful Council B. The scheme, to be brought forward in a new Waste Bill, is thought to be the first of its kind in Europe." (Independent)

"FEATURE - EU firms fight "blank cheque" eco-liability law" - "BRUSSELS - European companies are fighting new EU rules to make them pay for damaging the environment, under a draft liability law they say would force them to write a blank cheque to nature. The liability directive is one of three of major new European Union environmental policy proposals that industry is desperate to soften, along with a plan to cap "greenhouse gas" emissions and new rules on testing chemicals." (Reuters)

"New evidence that El Niño influences global climate conditions on a 2,000-year cycle" - "El Niño, the pattern that can wreak havoc on climate conditions around the world, is like a beacon, pulsating through time on a 2,000 year cycle, according to a new study by scientists from Syracuse University, Syracuse, N.Y.; Union College, Schenectady, N.Y., and from the NOAA Paleoclimatology Program, Boulder, Colo., that is being published in the Nov. 14 issue of Nature." (Syracuse University)

"Large-scale climate change linked to simultaneous population fluctuations in arctic mammals" - "The first study to show that changes in a large-scale climate system can synchronize population fluctuations in multiple mammal species across a continent-scale region will be published in the journal Nature in a study of caribou and muskoxen in Greenland. It illustrates how Arctic specie, which are expected to be among the first to show the effects of the Earth's changing climate, can give early warning signals for the rest of the world." (Penn State)

"Experts Urge Canadian Government to Delay Kyoto Protocol Ratification" - "A group of Canadian and international climate science and energy specialists has urged the Canadian government in Ottawa to delay ratifying the Kyoto Accord until further consultation is undertaken with the scientific and energy community, according to The Globe and Mail.

In "The Devolution of Kyoto Power", Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies Pat Michaels, one of the eight specialists in Ottawa, wrote that "the entire Kyoto Protocol, if adopted worldwide, wouldn't change global temperature enough to even be measured in the average lifetime of everyone on earth today. Instead, if you want to have a significant affect on the earth's temperature, you have to somehow legislate people to reduce their total energy use by about 50 percent in the next 50 years, even as the number of people using energy will nearly double in that time. That works out to about 25 percent of today's energy running tomorrow's house, car and economy." (Cato Institute)

"Foes of Kyoto Protocol aim to stir up doubts" - "OTTAWA -- Foes of the Kyoto Protocol, including Imperial Oil and Talisman Energy, are sponsoring a gathering in Ottawa today of scientists skeptical of the treaty as part of a last-ditch effort to derail Canada's ratification of it.

Organizers have rounded up approximately 25 scientists and engineers who are prepared to assail the scientific premises underlying Kyoto in an attempt to raise public doubts about the need for the treaty.

Eight will be on hand in Ottawa to speak to reporters, and other academics and engineers will be available by phone to attack what organizers call the "fatal flaws" of Kyoto and the "myths of climate change" that they say have so far been ignored in debate over the treaty." (Steven Chase, Globe and Mail)

"Greenhouse gases barely impact climate: scientists" - "OTTAWA - Greenhouse gases barely impact climate change, scientists told a news conference sponsored by the energy industry on Wednesday. Scientists from Canada and the United States said the Kyoto Protocol is bad science." (CBC News)

"Carbon Sequestration in Farming Could Offset Carbon Dioxide Emissions" - "As farmers and ranchers struggle to earn a profit selling commodities in the ailing U.S. agricultural economy, many of them are looking for alternative ways to derive an income from the land. One promising new opportunity could be carbon sequestration. That's the technical-sounding name for a plan to reward producers whose crops take carbon dioxide - a greenhouse gas - out of the air and store it, as carbon, in the soil. Sequestration provides a small but valuable counter to the industrial carbon dioxide emissions many experts believe are causing global warming. The Bush administration is funding more research into carbon sequestration and its potential role as part of a farmland soil conservation program, although critics say the White House policy on global warming may limit any economic benefits to America's farmers." (VOA News)

"Environmental groups fail to sway Govt on Kyoto" - "The Federal Government has again rejected calls for the ratification of the Kyoto protocol on climate change at a meeting with environmental non-government organisations." (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

"US "energy lite" bill omits wind, renewable fuels" - "WASHINGTON - A Republican proposal for a last-ditch U.S. energy bill is limited to interstate pipeline safety and nuclear power plant insurance and does not include incentives for wind power and other renewable fuels." (Reuters)

"Environmentalists Level Charges Against Citigroup" - "NEW YORK - A California-based environmentalist group on Wednesday ran a big print ad claiming Citigroup Inc., the No. 1 U.S. financial services firm, has been funding companies whose activities have hurt the environment. A full-page display ad in Wednesday's New York Times, replete with pictures of fire-ravaged forests and smoking industrial chimneys, posed the question: "Did you know that someone is using your Citigroup credit card without your authorization?" The ad placed by Rainforest Action Network is part of a campaign against the financial firm, launched a couple of years ago, which charges that Citigroup used customers' dollars to profit from projects that destroy endangered forests, displace local communities, and accelerate global warming. (Reuters)

"Imperial Backlash" - "THE HAGUE - In the Third World the hostility against ecoimperialism from the West is growing. This ecoimperialism in practised both by western governments and western NGOs.

In international trade negotiations, for instance, western governments urge the developing countries to adopt high environmental standards, based on the argument that the playing field of worldwide competition must be level. Developing countries reject these standards as a luxury they cannot afford. In their current stage of economic development, growth comes first." (Hans H.J. Labohm, TCS)

"Genetically Modified Food Debate Erupts at UN" - "GENEVA, Nov 13 - The storm surrounding genetically modified (GM) organisms has burst onto the scene at the United Nations, where the debate is focused on the use of genetically altered foods in providing relief to Southern African countries threatened by famine. The U.S. representative before the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Sichan Siv, this week exchanged some sharp words with the Human Rights Commission's special rapporteur on the right to food, the Swiss-born Jean Ziegler, clearly marking their differences on the issue." (IPS)

"Some Africans prefer hunger to a diet of gene-altered corn" - "This is not the same old story of drought equals famine in Africa. This time, there is hunger in the huts for reasons that have little to do with the weather. Christian Science Monitor correspondent Danna Harman and staff photographer Andy Nelson spent three weeks travelling in southern Africa, delving into the causes of growing food crisis. Amid the desperation they also found a determination to address the primarily manmade problems. This is the third in a four-part series." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"An argument that keeps Africa hungry" - "Southern Africa is on the verge of a catastrophe. Famine is coming and, although the US is doing everything in its power to help, I am not sure it can be stopped." (Tony Hall, Financial Times)

"Pakistan Hopes 'Pragmatic' Tack to GM Imports Works" - "ISLAMABAD, Nov 13 - Seeing how hard it is to curb the smuggling of genetically modified (GM) seed, Pakistan hopes that its new approach - lifting a ban on the importation of GM seeds and going for better regulation instead -- will give it more control of the use of genetically altered products. Officials at the department of agriculture say that by the end of this month, the government's ban would be lifted on genetically modified seed imports that have been deemed legal in their countries of origin." (IPS)

"Corn Near Gene-Altered Site to Be Destroyed" - "Federal regulators said Wednesday that they had ordered the destruction of an Iowa cornfield surrounding a test site for gene-altered crops." (New York Times)

November 13, 2002

"The Tort Lawyers Lose" - "We can't quite believe it ourselves, but an underreported story in last week's election is that the forces of legal reform won. Not in Washington, at least not yet, but in pivotal races around the country protectors of the plaintiffs' bar took a beating from the voters.

Start with Mississippi, where tort claims are so rampant that doctors are fleeing and 71 insurance companies have stopped writing policies in the state. Voters woke up to the danger last week and ousted Justice Chuck McRae, who was set to become chief of the state Supreme Court and whose rulings had helped make the state a honey pot for out-of-state trial lawyers. Mr. McRae came in last in a field of three candidates, and even lost his home county. Trial lawyer candidates also lost in two key state appeals-court races." (The Wall Street Journal) [Subscription required]

"Doctors issue 'telly belly' alert" - "British doctors are warning of a new virus spreading throughout the country. The so-called 'telly belly' virus appears to be infectious and is clogging up GP surgeries up and down the land. According to doctors, the condition occurs immediately after watching a health item on television news or a health storyline in a soap opera. 'Telly belly' sufferers believe they have similar symptoms and turn up at their local GP surgery seeking medical assistance." (BBC News Online)

"MALARIA: U.N. Opposition To DDT Criticized Ahead Of POPs Talks; More" - "U.N. Environment Program pressure on African countries to abandon large-scale use of the pesticide dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) increases the threat of malaria outbreaks, South African health activist Richard Tren wrote in a commentary carried yesterday by United Press International. The comments came ahead of a UNEP-World Health Organization meeting this week in Pretoria, South Africa, to discuss the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

After South Africa stopped using DDT to kill malaria-bearing mosquitoes in the 1990s, cases of the disease rose by over 1,000 percent, said Tren, the director of Africa Fighting Malaria. "Highly selective" reintroduction of the pesticide in 2000 cut the incidence by 80 percent in one year, he said." (UN Wire)

"Ecotourism Is All Very Well, but $3 a Day Isn't" - "JUNÍN, Ecuador — Even now, many people in this remote patch of Andean cloud forest celebrate the day in 1997 when they burned down the mining camp and ran its owners out of town. "We had tried for months to get them to listen to our concerns about things like contaminated water," said Alirio Ramírez. "Once we had a pile of ashes, the mining guys were suddenly interested in talking. But by that point, the time for negotiations was over." Today, this village of 46 families is trying to reinvent itself as a shrine to ecotourism. But a growing number of villagers are questioning whether they took a wrong turn." (New York Times)

"Air pollution linked to increased medical care and costs for elderly" - "A new study of elderly Americans shows a strong link between air pollution and higher costs of medical care, both inpatient and outpatient, and especially for respiratory ailments." (Center for the Advancement of Health)

Gasp! "Bracelets 'fail to give pain relief'" - "Magnetic bracelets do not provide relief from muscle or joint paint, according to doctors. Research carried out in the United States suggests ionized bracelets are no more effective than 'dummy' versions." (BBC News Online)

"Pacific Ocean temperature changes point to natural climate variability" - "Analysis of long-term changes in Pacific Ocean temperatures may provide additional data with which to evaluate global warming hypotheses. "Abrupt changes in water temperatures occurring over intervals of up to 25 years suggest that global warming may result as much from natural cyclical climate variations as from human activity," said Benjamin Giese, oceanography professor in the College of Geosciences." (Texas A&M University)

"Government Outlines Plan for Research on Warming" - "The Bush administration, saying there are still many uncertainties about threats posed by human-caused climate change, has outlined a years-long research agenda on global warming." (New York Times)

"Kyoto agreement costly for families: taxpayer's org." - "OTTAWA - The cost of the Kyoto Protocol has been pegged at $2,700 per family in Canada, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. The amount is based on the federal government's planning document released Oct. 24. "Canadians have been kept in the dark as to the real costs," said CTF federal director Walter Robinson. Robinson says the federal government hasn't conducted independent reviews of the science or cost estimates behind Kyoto." (CBC News)

"Reducing Chilling Injuries in Plants: The Role of Elevated CO2" - "Summary: There are several reported instances of atmospheric CO2 enrichment enabling plants to better withstand the deleterious consequences of exposure to low temperatures. We discuss two closely related mechanisms by which this phenomenon might be explained, together with some of its potential ramifications." (co2science.org)

"Subject Index Summaries: Alpine Ecosystems" - "Summary: As atmospheric CO2 concentrations continue to rise and as air temperatures do whatever they do in response to, or independently of, this phenomenon, what is happening, or what can be expected to happen, to earth's alpine ecosystems?" (co2science.org)

"Subject Index Summaries: Sea Ice (Arctic)" - "Summary: Is it melting away before our very eyes?" (co2science.org)

"Carbon Sequestration Commentary: Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment: Its Impact on the Abundance of Soil Organic Matter" - "Summary: There are two ways to increase the size of any dynamic reservoir: increase the rate of inflow to the reservoir or reduce its outflow rate. So it is with the organic carbon that is deposited in the world's soil bank: if the store of carbon is to grow (and thereby temper the rate of global warming), carbon must either be deposited faster or withdrawn slower. How fortunate we are that the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content promotes both of these processes." (co2science.org)

"The Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age in Tropical South China" - "Summary: Once again, far from the region of the North Atlantic, multiple evidences of both the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age testify to the global reality of the recurring millennial-scale climatic oscillation that is likely responsible for the current Modern Warm Period. The Holocene 12: 511-516." (co2science.org)

"The "Good Old Days" of Little Ice Age Climate Instability" - "Summary: Climate alarmists seem to want to turn back the clock to earlier cooler times in earth's history, fearful of what a little extra warmth could do to the planet. Paleoclimatic data derived from a lake in southern Greenland, however, clearly demonstrate that warmer times are not only natural but much to be preferred. Quaternary Research 58: 149-159." (co2science.org)

"Dying from Heat and Cold in Germany" - "Summary: Not only does cold kill more, heat kills not at all. Climate Research 21: 91-103." (co2science.org)

"To the Big Bleaching and Back Again" - "Summary: The authors recount how reef-flat corals of Japan's Ishigake Island suffered, and then recovered, from the massive 1997-98 El Niño-induced bleaching episode, which they describe as the most extensive and severe ever recorded. Marine Ecology Progress Series 239: 93-103." (co2science.org)

"FEATURE - New emission rules to cost snowmobile industry" - "NEW YORK - As if the possibility of another winter of scanty snowfall wasn't enough bad news for snowmobile enthusiasts, now the vehicles themselves may cost more as stringent air pollution controls go into effect." (Reuters)

"Stop cluttering my Constitution" - "I guess back then I was too young to know better. Or maybe my teachers at Morven Elementary School had misled me.

But back then, during the early '60s, I spelled constitution with a capital C. It was sacred. The Constitution was America. It was the core around which everything else was wrapped. It was the reason I would have opportunities my parents didn't. It was the rudder keeping the country headed in the right direction no matter what idiotic ideas might be in the head of the person at the wheel." (Elijah Gosier, St. Petersburg Times)

"Environmental groups label food tractor logo a marketing con" - "Government attempts to relaunch the "little red tractor" logo yesterday to help revive British farming were attacked by environmental and animal welfare groups as a "marketing con." (The Guardian)

And 'Organic' labels are... ?

"The West helps, and harms, as Southern Africa seeks food" - "Editor's note: Monitor staff correspondent Danna Harman and staff photographer Andy Nelson spent three weeks in southern Africa, looking at the causes behind widespread food shortages facing six nations. This is the second in a four-part series." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"UN food body issued GM food in Zambia despite ban" - "JOHANNESBURG - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) fed U.S. maize, which could include genetically-modified (GM) supplies, to refugees in Zambia last week despite a government ban on GM food aid, it said." (Reuters)

"FDA Orders Destruction of Soybeans" - "WASHINGTON - The government is ordering a biotechnology company to destroy 500,000 bushels of soybeans rather than sell them for food because they were contaminated with genetically engineered corn once grown in the same field. None of the soybeans made it into the food supply, so there is no risk to the public, said Food and Drug Administration Deputy Commissioner Lester Crawford." (AP)

November 12, 2002

"Thanksgiving menu stuffed with healthy choices" - "There's more than just a bountiful feast to be thankful for at Thanksgiving. From the main course to dessert, the traditional Thanksgiving meal is stuffed with healthy food choices, particularly those rich in disease-fighting antioxidants. Here is a sampling of recent research findings about the health benefits of some favorite foods featured on many Thanksgiving menus, courtesy of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society." (ACS)

"Positively False" - "A recent National Academies panel report on the effectiveness of lie detectors highlighted one of the biggest problems we face when dealing with data. Polygraphs, the panel concluded, were not sophisticated enough to help in screening out potential risks to national security. If there were ten security risks in a pool of 5,000 people to be screened, then a test designed to catch as many of them as possible - eight out of the ten - would also flag up over a thousand innocent parties as security risks. If the polygraphs were set to minimize the number of innocent parties misidentified, then while they would only find about 40 such cases, they would also find only two of the real risks.

In data-gathering terms these errors are known as false positives - where the test is set to find the presence of something, but finds it where it does not exist - and false negatives - where the test fails to find actual examples of what it is looking for. These errors bedevil the understanding and usefulness of data." (Iain Murray, TCS)

"No Prescription for Antibiotics? No Problem" - "Jose Martinez, a 29-year-old Dominican immigrant who runs a bodega on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, almost always manages to find whatever his customers need on his store's bulging shelves. When asked for medicine for an infection, Mr. Martinez often reaches for a box of pills called Ampitrex, a brand name for the antibiotic ampicillin." (New York Times)

"Jeff Astle killed by heading ball, coroner rules" - "Jeff Astle, the former England footballer famed for his ability in the air, died from dementia brought on by repeatedly heading the ball, a coroner ruled yesterday. Astle, 59, who died in January, often said that heading a football was like heading "a bag of bricks". In a verdict that could provoke a rush of compensation claims from former players, Andrew Haigh, the coroner, said that repeated contact with the heavy leather ball used in the 1960s caused trauma similar to that of a boxer." (The Daily Telegraph)

"Out of Control, Deer Send Ecosystem Into Chaos" - "FRONT ROYAL, Va. — In Posey Hollow, tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains, Dr. William J. McShea was inspecting a forest primeval — 10 acres of oaks, wild yam vines, seedlings and shrubs that made an ideal home for nesting songbirds and scurrying small mammals.

But he had to look through an eight-foot deer fence to see it. Where he stood, the forest was trimmed from eye level to earth as if by an army of obsessive landscapers. Mature trees stood unharmed, but oak seedlings were nipped in the bud. The only things thriving were Japanese barberry and other nonnative flora, plants that deer cannot digest.

In the last decade, from the Rockies to New England and the Deep South, rural and suburban areas have been beset by white-tailed deer gnawing shrubbery and crops, spreading disease and causing hundreds of thousands of auto wrecks.

But the deer problem has proved even more profound, biologists say. Fast-multiplying herds are altering the ecology of forests, stripping them of native vegetation and eliminating niches for other wildlife." (New York Times)

"Deer Draw Cougars Ever Eastward" - "The mountain lion, an ambush predator that was long trapped and poisoned as a varmint, has been resurgent since the 1960's when many Western states categorized it as big game, with limited hunting seasons. No one knows how many there are, but a recent estimate by wildlife ecologists put the number at over 31,000 in 12 Western states. There may now be more mountain lions in the West than there were before European settlement, said Dr. Maurice Hornocker, a senior scientist at the Wildlife Conservation Society." (New York Times)

"On Thin Ice?" - "How soon humanity will have to move inland to escape rising seas depends in great part on how quickly West Antarctica's massive ice sheet shrinks. Scientists are finally beginning to agree on what controls the size of the sheet and its rate of disintegration." (SciAm)

Okay... so what conclusions have been drawn from said "agreement"? This piece continues for another couple of paras suggesting that something might happen - if something happens. An appallingly deficient puff-piece even by the pop-science rag standards to which SciAm has decended.

"Dried rice makes less gas" - "Asia's increasing water shortage is threatening agriculture, but it may have a happy side-effect. It is reducing the amount of the greenhouse gas methane that rice crops release into the atmosphere, new research suggests. Changes in rice cultivation over the past two decades may have cut the methane paddy fields emit by around 12 percent, say scientists from China and the USA. Methane is one of the most important contributors to global warming. There is about two hundred times less methane than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; but methane has a warming effect about 20 times stronger. But there are many different methane sources, so there is no single best way to reduce it. It is produced, for instance, when waterlogged organic matter decays in wetlands. Natural-gas pipelines, landfills and cattle rearing also pump out the gas. Rice cultivation produces about 40 million tonnes of methane every year." (Nature Science Update)

"World Bank Continues to Back Polluting Incinerators" - "WASHINGTON, Nov 11 - The World Bank Group continues to fund projects around the globe that include highly polluting incinerators, while it maintains that it is pouring money into plans to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases, civil society activists say." (IPS)

"EPA: Small Financial Impact From Power Plant Pollution Cuts" - "CHICAGO - The Bush administration's "Clear Skies" plan to cut power plant pollution should have a fairly minor financial impact on the industry, and isn't likely to force the early retirement of much coal-fired generation, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official said Monday. The EPA has said the Clear Skies plan, submitted to Congress this summer, would produce greater health and environmental benefits than the cadre of complex rules under the EPA's Clean Air Act." (Dow Jones)

"Study warns of 500-mile radiation spread" - "A catastrophic meltdown in the spent fuel pool of a nuclear power plant could cause fatal, radiation-induced cancer in thousands of people as far as 500 miles from the site, according to a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission study.

The analysis of spent fuel pool meltdowns also states that millions of people within such a 500-mile zone might have to be evacuated for periods ranging from 30 days to one year and that people living within 10 miles of a nuclear plant might never be able to return to their homes.

It also cites the potential for "prompt fatalities" from radiation poisoning that would occur in areas close to a plant site, where many radioactive particles would be expected to fall." (The (Westchester, N.Y.) Journal News)

"Protesters reject Shell's slick change of face" - "Environmental campaigners are to converge on Shell's London headquarters this morning to highlight the company's "shocking" pollution record. The move coincides with the publication of a new book, Riding the Dragon: Royal Dutch Shell and the Fossil Fire, which catalogues more than 50 years of environmental and public safety spills." | Seed corn for potter, baker, candle maker (The Guardian)

Doh! "Move to increase charity donations 'has backfired'" - "A scheme set up to persuade companies to give more money to charity has backfired spectacularly, according to new research. Gordon Brown, the chancellor, promised in his 2000 Budget that changes to tax relief on corporate giving would boost charitable donations. But, within a year of the changes, corporate donations dropped by £78m. The figures provide an insight into the mounting pressures on the charity sector, which is already suffering from the collapse in the stock market." (Financial Times)

Um... you don't reckon a global slowdown and diminished profits could have something to do with it?

"Focus falls on science to solve farming issues" - "Scientists, biotechnology companies and environmentalists have reached an unprecedented agreement to co-operate on assessing how science can best help solve the problems faced by world agriculture in future decades." (Financial Times)

"The Dead Hand" - "Europe's food and agriculture policy dominates the policies of developing nations and it is turning into an economic and humanitarian disaster. The current humanitarian crisis in Africa only serves to highlight how damaging European regulations truly are." (Andrew Apel and C. S. Prakash, TCS)

"How one country created its own food crisis" - "First in a four-part series looking at six African nations on the brink" (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Cancer-fighting tomatoes get U.S. consumer vote" - "WASHINGTON, Nov 11 - Cancer-fighting tomatoes and bananas that protect against sexually transmitted diseases top the list of advancements being made in biotech food, according to Americans surveyed by an industry group." (Reuters)

"Australia seen growing first GM canola in 2003" - "SYDNEY - Australia is still on track to produce its first commercial genetically modified (GM) canola crop in 2003 despite a temporary freeze on two applications, a spokesman for U.S. agrochemical group Monsanto Co said." (Reuters)

November 11, 2002

"Rethinking Ballistic Fingerprints" - "Forensic scientists are all the rage on television these days. In real life, too, ballistics experts have become crime-fighting stars in the Beltway sniper case, where they linked most of the bullets to a single gun — the rifle later seized from John Muhammad — through their distinctive markings. But the frustrations encountered in trying to find the sniper have sparked calls, by this page among others, for a computerized national database of bullet and cartridge-case markings for all guns sold in the United States. Such a tool could help police track down a criminal more quickly.

The potential for solving crimes through such databases seems breathtaking. But another look at the science involved has convinced us that first, the government must get an authoritative judgment on how feasible the project really is. There is no point in setting up a system that might fail." (New York Times editorial)

"Panic caused by 'dirty bomb' more lethal than radiation" - "DIRTY bombs sound dangerous, but radiation experts say that the greatest danger they present is panic and disruption, not lethal doses of radiation. High-grade and medium-grade radioactive material in the United Kingdom is kept securely stored and it is unlikely that terrorists would be able to get their hands on it. However, radioactive material used in hospitals or by industry is less securely controlled. Suppose that terrorists did get hold of a powerful source of radioactivity, such as a rod of cobalt-60 used for food irradiation, or the iridium-192 source used in gamma-ray weld testing, and wrap it in plastic explosive." (The Times)

"Report highlights dangers of dioxins" - "Reducing some of the most deadly environmental poisons to safe levels for children could take at least 20 years, a Government report reveals. Eradicating dioxins - linked to cancers, infertility and poor brain development - from the UK could cost industry a staggering £10 billion. A consultation document for Ministers says that lowering the dietary intake of dioxins for toddlers below tolerable levels is unlikely to happen for the 'foreseeable future'." (The Observer)

Yep, the situation's so grim that human lifespan and health are still increasing, age-adjusted cancer rates are static or declining and the observable effect of environmental dioxins on the population is... exactly nothing. "Eradicating dioxins" effectively means preventing all combustion and convincing volcanoes not to erupt, a most interesting proposition.

"US agency rejects Greenpeace petition to ban PVC" - "The US Consumer Product Safety Commission Friday announced that it rejected a petition filed by Greenpeace to ban PVC used in the production of toys. The CPSC made its decision Sep 18, but the documents were released Friday when commission made its formal recommendation. Greenpeace filed its petition in August 2002. The debate was not over PVC but rather on phthalates (plasticizers) used in PVC processing during toy production. The committee first studied the issue, particularly potential safety hazards of diisononyl phthalate, in 1997." (Platts)

"Tobacco warning for cannabis smokers" - "Smoking pure cannabis is just as harmful to lungs as tobacco, a health charity is warning. A study by the British Lung Foundation found that just three cannabis joints a day cause the same damage as 20 cigarettes. And when cannabis and tobacco are smoked together, the effects are dramatically worse. Evidence shows that tar from cannabis cigarettes contains 50% more cancer causing carcinogens than tobacco." (BBC News Online)

"The Not-So-Crackpot Autism Theory" - "Reports of autism seem to be on the rise. Anxious parents have targeted vaccines as the culprit. One formerly skeptical researcher now thinks it's an issue worth investigating." (Arthur Allen, New York Times Magazine)

"Row over coffee advice for diabetics" - "Coffee drinkers are half as likely to develop diabetes as adults, research has found. The study has caused controversy as caffeine is known to reduce the body's sensitivity to insulin, the hormone diabetics need to treat their condition. But the Dutch team behind the work say other components in coffee, such as magnesium and chlorogenic acid, could help prevent people developing Type 2 diabetes." (BBC News Online)

For card-carrying brothers & sisters: "Florence builds a bridge to a brave new social paradise" - "Anti-globalisation is not a nine-day wonder that ended on September 11" writes John Vidal (The Guardian)

"An Animal's Place" - "Animal rights advocates present a compelling vision of a more moral world. But this vision is ecologically foolhardy — and based on a naive definition of animal happiness." (Michael Pollan, New York Times Magazine)

"Judge Reverses Plan for a Huge Habitat for Threatened Frogs" - "SACRAMENTO, Nov. 9 — A federal judge has formally reversed the federal Fish and Wildlife Service's plan to designate more than four million acres as critical habitat for the threatened California red-legged frog." (New York Times)

"El Nino to affect U.S. winter weather, forecasters say" - "It's still no record-breaker, but the current El Nino will continue to make its mark this winter over much of the United States, government forecasters said Thursday. Sea surface temperatures were nearly 4 degrees Fahrenheit above normal across parts of the equatorial Pacific during October, and subsurface changes also pointed to a continued warming trend in water throughout the ocean basin. "We expect the waters in the eastern equatorial Pacific to continue to warm, and mature El Nino conditions will prevail through February 2003," said Vernon Kousky, senior meteorologist at the national Climate Prediction Center." (Scripps Howard News Service)

Uh-huh... "Warming Waters and Dying Lobsters" - "STONY BROOK, N.Y. — The first clue that something had once again gone seriously wrong in Long Island Sound was the color of the blood being spilled. Lobsters are not supposed to bleed orange.

But it was the timing that really piqued Alistair D. M. Dove's interest. Orange-blooded lobsters began showing up in his pathology lab here at the State University of New York in mid-August, the very week researchers reported a sudden increase in the Sound's water temperature after a year of record-breaking warm weather." (New York Times)

Last week it was pesticide spraying, wasn't it?

"Sun's rays to roast Earth as poles flip" - "Earth's magnetic field - the force that protects us from deadly radiation bursts from outer space - is weakening dramatically. Scientists have discovered that its strength has dropped precipitously over the past two centuries and could disappear over the next 1,000 years. The effects could be catastrophic. Powerful radiation bursts, which normally never touch the atmosphere, would heat up its upper layers, triggering climatic disruption. Navigation and communication satellites, Earth's eyes and ears, would be destroyed and migrating animals left unable to navigate." (The Observer)

"Paradise for Peckham gardeners?" - "LONDON - Green-fingered Britons could soon be growing bananas and avocados instead of lupins and rhododendrons as a result of climate change, according to leading horticulturists. Long-term forecasts on climate change suggest gardeners could face Mediterranean weather with hotter summers, droughts and warm, wet winters with the risk of flooding, the Sunday Times newspaper reported." (Reuters)

"On Global Warming, States Act Locally" - "At Odds With Bush's Rejection of Mandatory Cuts, Governors and Legislatures Enact Curbs on Greenhouse Gases" (Eric Pianin, Washington Post)

"Information about Kyoto insufficient" - "OTTAWA -- Nearly two-thirds of Canadians say they do not have enough information about the Kyoto Protocol to say whether they support or oppose the international treaty that would fight global warming, a poll suggests. Sixty-three per cent of respondents polled by Ipsos-Reid for The Globe and Mail and CTV agreed with the phrase: "I don't think I have enough information about the Kyoto Protocol to say whether I support or oppose it." (Globe and Mail)

"Questions lurk beneath surface of ads on Kyoto" - "While Alberta Premier Ralph Klein v. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien may be the main bout in the Kyoto boxing ring, equally interesting are the associated scraps pitting pollster against pollster, advertising campaign against advertising campaign." (Hugh Windsor, Globe and Mail)

"Use head, not gut, to judge Kyoto debate" - "It must be galling for Canadian celebrities to be bombarded with images of their world-famous and very wealthy American colleagues -- Woody Harrelson, Martin Sheen, Susan Sarandon, to name a few -- denouncing U.S. foreign policy, picketing power plants or swaddling themselves in hemp for the greater good. Hollywood activists have the whole American empire to rail against. Here, by contrast, there's only Ralph Klein.

Perhaps that explains why a small flotilla of prominent Canadian artists, including writers Pierre Berton, Michael Ondaatje and Farley Mowat, as well as musicians from the Tragically Hip and Barenaked Ladies, lent their names this week to the Sierra Club of Canada's petition urging quick ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, which Mr. Klein, the Alberta Premier, has sworn to scuttle.

It couldn't be, after all, that these luminaries have studied the text of the 1997 protocol itself, or the 1992 Convention on Climate Change that preceded it or the many independent analyses of climate change done since." (Michael Den Tandt, Globe and Mail)

"Environmentalist issues apology and retraction for comments on poll" - "TORONTO -- A high-profile environmentalist issued an apology and a retraction Friday for comments he made earlier this week about the work of one of the country's best-known polling companies." (CP)

"Going for a Sunday Drive; Evangelical Campaign Focuses on Environmental Awareness" - "The Rev. Jim Ball has come up with a question he hopes will make millions of church-going Americans think twice before buying another SUV. It's: "What would Jesus drive?" (The Washington Post)

All those disciples & their gear; need to reach beyond sealed roads... have to be an Excursion or maybe a Hummer wouldn't it?

"Protesters target SUV fuel use; At auto showcase, SUV's grab interest despite drawbacks" - "Nine members of the Sierra Club garnered little notice as they stood outside the Bayside Exposition Center with placards and pleas urging people to at least consider buying a fuel-efficient automobile. For most, they may as well have been selling tofu burgers at a Texas barbecue." (Boston Globe)

"'We Know Where You Live' Part II" - "Students of history may recall Leon Trotsky, the founder of the Russian Red Army. Because of his importance, he had an inconvenient habit of appearing close to Vladimir Lenin in photographs. When Joseph Stalin became dictator of the Soviet Union, he was irritated that his rival, Trotsky (later assassinated by Stalin's helpers), was shown so close to Lenin. A simple solution: Trotsky's face was simply erased from pictures in which he appeared with Lenin. He wasn't mentioned in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia, the fount of what passed for wisdom in that country. Voila! Problem solved." (Herbert Inhaber, TCS)

"Dutch energy firms slam planned green subsidy cuts" - "AMSTERDAM - The Dutch federation of energy companies last week criticised new government proposals which trimmed subsidies for clean energy and shifted payments to producers from consumers." (Reuters)

"Are organics really safer?" - "08/11/02 - Are organic foods better for us? This is the question on the lips of many a consumer, food manufacturer and scientist. For what, exactly, is the consumer paying a higher price? The US Institute of Food Technologists took a refreshing, no-nonsense position this week on the issue of organic foods when it stated: “Organic foods are not superior in nutritional quality or safety when compared against conventional foods.” “Yet,” the non- profit organisation added, “organics do have the potential for greater pathogen contamination. Thus, purchasing organically grown produce is not necessary for safety or nutritional reasons.” With the above words the IFT has introduced a new issue into the organic forum. "Consumers need to understand that organic production does not mean pesticide-free and pathogen-free production," stressed IFT food science expert Carl Winter, the director of the FoodSafe Program at University of California at Davis." (FoodNavigator.com)

"AUSTRALIA: Danger of long-term losses if GM technology is not expanded" - "Australia’s farmers and trade will suffer if the country turns its back on genetically modified crops, according to a new report. The Productivity Commission report found that in the long term Australia’s production and exports would be adversely affected because the country would lose market share to the US and Canada if it did not expand its use of GM technology. With Canada and the US expanding their use of GM crop technology, the report warned that if consumers begin to embrace GM foods, Australia may find it hard to compete on the wheat and canola markets in future because of the greater cost of producing non-GM crops." (just-food.com) [Complete]

"Bond Actor Moore Urges Zambia to Accept GM Food" - "LUSAKA - Former James Bond actor Roger Moore urged Zambia Saturday to reconsider its decision to reject genetically modified (GM) food aid to ease severe shortages affecting three million of its people. "The situation is very serious because children cannot learn on empty stomachs. The hunger situation in the southern province is very alarming. I think GMOs could ease the problem," Moore, a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. Children's Fund, said." (Reuters)

"Advisers brand Blair's GM debate a sham" - "Tony Blair's strategy on genetically-modified foods is in crisis after a series of extraordinary attacks by Whitehall's own communications arm and a panel of independent advisers. The Prime Minister had hoped a national debate on GM crops would soothe widespread anxieties over their safety, paving the way for their commercialisation in the UK. But The Observer has learnt that this process is on the brink of collapse, making it almost impossible for the Government to allay public suspicion about the technology." (The Observer)

"USTR Zoellick links EU biotech ban to Africa hunger" - "WASHINGTON - The top U.S. trade official last week said EU prohibitions on biotech food were contributing to starvation in Africa as at least one country in that continent barred food aid grown from genetically modified products." (Reuters)

"GM food will not ease hunger" - "Britain's top aid charities have told the Prime Minister that genetically modified foods will not solve world hunger, but may actually increase poverty and malnutrition. Their intervention – in a joint submission to the Government's official debate on GM crops and foods – strikes a devastating blow at a central plank of its support for the controversial technology." | Zambians starve in row over GM food | Monsanto breaks bread with GM protesters (Independent)

"Blood vessel clue offers bypass hope" - "Patients could 'grow their own arteries', eliminating the need for bypass surgery, thanks to research looking at how blood vessels form. Scientists at the University of Birmingham are focussing on a key protein which could be responsible for the formation of networks of vessels. Gene therapy based on the research could provide an alternative for people needing treatments such as coronary artery bypass grafts." (BBC News Online)

"Gene hope in cancer fight" - "Scientists in Scotland believe they have taken an important step in the fight against cancer. Researchers at the Beatson Institute in Glasgow have narrowed down the location of a gene which may cause cancer cells to die. They hope the development will eventually lead to new treatments to combat a number of forms of the disease." (BBC News Online)

November 8, 2002

"Freaky-Frog Fraud" - "Frog sex malformities linked to weedkiller, study says" was a popular media story last week. University of California junk scientist Tyrone Hayes once again tried to link the widely used herbicide atrazine with deformed frog sex organs and allegedly declining frog populations.

Hayes' one-page write-up of his latest scary "research" appeared in the Halloween issue of the pre-eminent journal Nature. No doubt the article was a treat for publicity-hungry Nature and anti-chemical activists (the sponsors of the study).

For the rest of us, though, it was just another of Hayes' tricks." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Some Tidbits From Our News File" - "The Wall Street Journal picks apart a new book by obesity warrior Ellen Ruppel Shell, saying that her argument “rejects any possibility of personal responsibility and thus denies dignity to the very group it is attempting to help.”

Joyless eating maven Marion Nestle tells the Seattle Times today that food marketers, schools, and Uncle Sam are all to blame for the perceived “epidemic” of obesity in America. Meanwhile, parents in New Mexico have figured out that energy output is just as important a piece of the puzzle as food intake. Asked about the junk food debate in the local schools, one Albuquerque dad said: “Our time would be better spent finding PE teachers.”

Veterinarians and wildlife officials in Illinois tell the Associated Press that chronic wasting disease (called “mad deer disease” by food-scare activists) “poses no threat to people.”

Another one for the “campaign finance abuses” file. A food co-op in Corvallis, Oregon is being investigated on charges that it illegally gave discounts to customers who worked for the campaign to enact “Measure 27,” the biotech food labeling initiative that was defeated on Tuesday. Oregon law forbids giving away anything of value in order to influence people’s political choices.

The “Campaign to Label GE Foods” announced this morning that it is “creating turn-key templates” for activists to use in “the next round” of biotech labeling fights. “Our goal over the next two years,” says The Campaign’s Craig Winters, “is to get hundreds of city and county resolutions passed in support for labeling of genetically engineered foods. And we want to get labeling bills introduced in dozens of states.”

In the aftermath of Florida’s “pregnant pig” constitutional amendment, the Humane Society of the United States told the Washington Post this morning that they “expect to put this measure on several more state ballots in the future.” The smart money is on Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina, where an activist victory could cripple the pork industry and result in much higher meat prices for consumers.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has waded back into piggy politics, this time telling a Canadian audience that pork farming is “a devastating industry.” Check out our profile of Kennedy’s Water Keeper Alliance for the scoop on why he does what he does.

David Suzuki, Canada’s answer to Carl Safina, is telling his countrymen that they must eat less meat in order to save the planet. Echoing the upcoming “Meatless Mondays” campaign, Suzuki urges Canadians to “choose at least one day a week to eat meat-free meals.”

Ralph Nader’s group Public Citizen is still whipping up a frenzy of fear over irradiated meat, even though the USDA supports its inclusion in school lunches and grocery stores are struggling to keep up with demand.

In a rare moment of sanity, the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Michael Jacobson told the New York Times recently that “the general food supply is basically safe.”

And speaking of CSPI, the group is taking advantage of next week’s Harry Potter movie release to re-hash last year’s attack on soft drinks. Coca-Cola is committed to spending $150 million dollars on child literacy programs, using the Harry Potter phenomenon as a hook to attract kids to reading. CSPI says shame on them. You be the judge.

The government of Zambia is reportedly furious at aid workers in a refugee camp who have been distributing biotech corn to starving people. Aid workers said that 125,000 people are depending on that food to survive, and that riots will ensue if the maize is taken away.

A Michigan State University professor has launched the nation’s first comprehensive web site dedicated to “animal rights law.” (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Testing appeal of irradiated meat" - After recalls, supermarkets try again to tempt consumers

Nov. 7 — Giant Food Inc., an East Coast grocery chain, is running an unusual ad campaign this week: “Introducing Irradiated Fresh Ground Beef.” (The Wall Street Journal)

"Europe considers banning tests on animals" - "BRUSSELS - The European Union is set to ban animal testing in cosmetics and will stop imports that do so. Many cosmetics such as mascara, perfume, soap, deodorant, lotions and lipstick are tested on animals to see if there are side effects. Some tests are done in test tubes but others are done to check for dangers such as allergic reactions or even cancer." (CBC News)

"Drinking coffee linked to lower diabetes risk: study" - "AMSTERDAM - Coffee addicts may be reducing their risk of developing diabetes, a new study suggests. Coffee contains compounds that seem to help the body to metabolize sugar, which may lower the risk of diabetes, Dutch researchers said." (CBC News)

"Conservation Groups Fear Republican Congress" - "WASHINGTON, DC, November 7, 2002 - Forest protection groups are holding rallies and other events across the country today to protest Bush administration plans for fire management on public lands. The groups fear that Tuesday's elections, which boosted Bush's power to make policy, will lead to the undermining of forest protections - a fear shared by many environmental groups as Congressional power shifts away from some of conservation's strongest advocates." (ENS)

"Why Naomi Klein needs to grow up" - "THE battle to save the world is an arduous and paradoxical one. Today's most visible scourge of globalisation and brands is herself an inexhaustible globetrotting brand: a 32-year-old Canadian journalist, armed with little more than a portable computer, a plane ticket and Internet access. Naomi Klein is the pre-eminent figure (she would deplore the term “leader”) in a worldwide protest movement against companies, free trade and global integration—in effect, against capitalism—that has no name or organisation, but is the most vigorous expression of leftist sentiment since the 1960s." (The Economist)

"Pollster threatens to sue environmentalist over fraud comments" - "TORONTO -- One of the country's best-known polling companies is threatening to sue a high-profile environmentalist for suggesting at a news conference earlier this week that a survey on the Kyoto greenhouse gas agreement was concocted.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Ipsos-Reid demanded an immediate retraction and apology from Bob Hunter, a co-founder of Greenpeace and commentator for Toronto's Citytv.

The poll, conducted last week and published Nov. 1, was commissioned by the Alberta government. It found that of 1,000 people polled across the country, 44 per cent favoured ratifying the protocol, while 45 per cent preferred a made-in-Canada plan to reduce emissions." (CP)

"Greenhouse pollution rate increasing, data reveal" - "As Canadians wrangle over whether to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the latest government figures show that they pump out more greenhouse gases faster than at any time since 1994.

In 2000, emissions catapulted to 726 megatonnes from the benchmark of 607 megatonnes in 1990; Canadians produced 19.6-per-cent more greenhouse gases in 2000 than in 1990.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, Canada must reduce emissions to 6 per cent below 1990 levels by about 2010. That makes this report from Environment Canada's greenhouse-gas division a midterm emissions assessment." (Globe and Mail)

World Climate Report Volume 8, Number 5, November 4, 2002 (GES)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT; November 4 , 2002 Vol. 3, No. 32" - "There usually is very little "science" embedded in a Greenpeace press release. For that reason we typically refrain from comment on their nonsense. But the latest Greenpeace conceit is associated with the 8th Conference of the Parties (COP-8) to the Rio Treaty that took place in New Delhi, India. It generated a fair amount of press coverage, so we will seek to inoculate the credulous via a Virtual Climate Alert.

Greenpeace climate policy director Steve Sawyer claims a massive sea-level rise brought on by anthropogenic global warming will inundate major world cities (including New York City) by the year 2080 if the world fails to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels. But there is not a single shred of scientific evidence that supports this ludicrous notion. Greenpeace just makes this stuff up and, sadly, many a press outlet feels little shame in echoing it via prominent coverage." (GES)

"Emperor penguin colony struggling with iceberg blockade" - "The movements of two gigantic Antarctic icebergs appear to have dramatically reduced the number of Emperor penguins living and breeding in a colony at Cape Crozier, according to two researchers who visited the site last month." (NSF)

"India Considers Allowing Gene-Altered Mustard" - "NEW DELHI - Indian government officials postponed Thursday a decision on whether to allow cultivation of genetically modified mustard, which supporters say could boost yields by 25 percent. A unit of German multinational group Bayer AG, Pro Agro Seed Company Ltd., has asked the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee for permission to grow genetically altered mustard. India is the fourth largest producer of mustard after China, the European Union and Canada." (Reuters)

"Zambia 'furious' over GM food" - "The Zambian Government has summoned aid officials working in a refugee camp to ask them why they have been distributing genetically modified (GM) maize, despite a government ban. A senior government official held what is described as a "furious meeting" with aid agency staff at the Makeba refugee camp in North-Western province. Aid workers say they have nothing to replace the GM maize, which is currently feeding 125,000 refugees in five camps, and fear that riots will break out if they attempt to remove it." (BBC News Online)

November 7, 2002

"New study shows no evidence vaccine causes autism" - "NEW YORK - A nationwide study following all children born in Denmark since 1991 found no evidence that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine causes autism in children.

The investigators followed 537,303 children from birth, noting who received the MMR vaccine and when, and who developed autism. Dr. Kreesten Meldgaard Madsen of the Danish Epidemiology Science Centre and his colleagues found that unvaccinated children were just as likely as those given the MMR vaccine to develop autism, and autistic children who had been vaccinated were just as likely to develop the condition before the vaccine as after." (Reuters Health)

"Environmental 'Magna Carta' law under fire" - "A law that subjects all federal projects to an environmental-impact study faces review." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"NASA JOINS INTERNATIONAL OZONE STUDY IN ARCTIC" - "NASA researchers will join more than 350 scientists from the United States, the European Union, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Norway, Poland, Russia and Switzerland this winter to measure ozone and other atmospheric gases using aircraft, large and small balloons, ground-based instruments and satellites." (NASA News)

"OCEAN TEMPERATURES AFFECT INTENSITY OF THE SOUTH ASIAN MONSOON AND RAINFALL" - "Warmer or colder sea surface temperatures (SST) may affect one of the world's key large-scale atmospheric circulations that regulate the intensity and breaking of rainfall associated with the South Asian and Australian monsoons, according to new research from NASA." (NASA/GSFC)

"One large, overlooked factor in global warming: tropical forest fires" - "Forest fires have become a wildcard in the global-warming game. New research shows that, under the right circumstances, they can emit carbon dioxide at a rate to rival fossil-fuel emissions of the heat-trapping gas. This is a factor that computer simulations of climate change cannot yet take into account." (The Christian Science Monitor) | Burning bogs belch carbon (NSU) | Wildfires blamed for greenhouse gas rise (BBC News Online)

"Scripps research gives tiny phytoplankton a large role in Earth's climate system" - "The ecological importance of phytoplankton, microscopic plants that free-float through the world's oceans, is well known. Among their key roles, the one-celled organisms are the major source of sustenance for animal life in the seas. Now, in a new study conducted by researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, our understanding of the significance of phytoplankton has been taken to a new level." (University of California - San Diego)

"Kyoto backer lambastes Klein, Eves; Premiers labelled 'ecological criminals' as campaign pushing ratification begins" - "TORONTO -- The premiers of Ontario and Alberta were labelled "ecological criminals" yesterday by a co-founder of Greenpeace, one of more than 150 prominent Canadians urging the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.

Among well-known figures backing a Sierra Club of Canada push for the protocol that aims to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions are long-time environmental activists such as geneticist broadcaster David Suzuki and NDP leadership candidate Jack Layton.

Others lending their voices to the pro-ratification campaign include members of the bands Tragically Hip and Barenaked Ladies; authors Pierre Berton, Michael Ondaatje and Farley Mowat; comedians Cathy Jones and Greg Malone; cyclist Clara Hughes; and actor Gordon Pinsent.

Bob Hunter, a Greenpeace co-founder and environmental reporter for CITY-TV, a Toronto station, was one of a handful of people attending a TV-studio news conference yesterday where the campaign was launched." (Globe and Mail)

"PM takes hits from all sides" - "OTTAWA -- By Sunday it had become clear beyond debate that, in the national interest, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien should step down as soon as practically possible. He will not. In consequence, the government now faces 15 months of virtual policy paralysis.

The weekend went badly for the Prime Minister. As provincial governments consulted with each other about solidifying a common front against ratification of the Kyoto accord on global warming, a national advertising campaign by corporate anti-Kyoto interests arrived on television screens. (I've seen it six times, and I don't watch much TV.) The ads will help to shift volatile public opinion into opposition to the protocol.

Then, on Sunday, two Liberal MPs publicly predicted that more than 20 Liberal MPs would side with the opposition, ensuring Mr. Chrétien's defeat, and that Paul Martin would be one of them." (John Ibbitson, Globe and Mail)

"Alberta university says no to one-sided Kyoto panel" - "EDMONTON - The University of Alberta has backed out of a forum on the Kyoto Accord with the federal government. Business school dean Mike Percy said the university decided to pull out because Environment Minister David Anderson refused to include anti-Kyoto speakers on the panel." (CBC News)

"Kyoto Plus will fail to tackle climate change" - "Climate change abatement will not be achieved without fixed maximum atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases, a global emissions budget shared between countries and timetabled reduction targets, according to a new report.

The New Economics Foundation’s report, Fresh Air: Options for the Future Architecture of International Climate Change Policy, examines eight proposals for structuring the next stages of climate change negotiations, including a continuation of the Kyoto approach. All but one is predicted to fail." (Edie News)

Where were you? The attempt to 'control' the climate by tweaking a few variables can ONLY fail.

"U.S. Signs U.N. Plant Gene Treaty" - "ROME -- The United States on Wednesday became the 76th country to sign an international agreement governing the genetic code of plants, reversing a decision to abstain from the treaty when it was approved last year. The treaty is intended to preserve plant diversity and thus food supplies by safeguarding the genetic materials. In addition to promoting genetic diversity, the treaty recognizes farmers' rights to seeds and other plant resources and establishes a system of access and benefit-sharing for 64 crops and plants that are considered to be fundamental to food security. Though many nations have signed the pact, it must be ratified by at least 40 before it can go into effect. The U.S. Congress must still ratify it." (AP)

"Oregon genetically engineered food label bid fails" - "PORTLAND, Ore. - Oregon voters this week roundly rejected a ballot initiative that would have required labels on food containing genetically engineered material, handing a victory to big food producers and biotechnology researchers." (Reuters)

"Experts discuss genetically modified crops for developing countries in UN lecture series" - "6 November – United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today hosted a lecture featuring experts on genetically modified crops, the second in a series of talks in New York dealing with issues outside the normal range of UN topics and focused on matters at the forefront of both the humanities and natural sciences." (UN News)

November 6, 2002

"Court told of DVT flight dangers" - "Deep vein thrombosis can leave airline passengers crippled or dead, the High Court has heard. Fifty-six people are fighting a landmark legal case against 28 airlines for failing to warn them or their relatives about the risk of DVT, also known as economy class syndrome. Counsel Stuart Cakebread told the court in London there was a "profound" impact of flying for long hours in cramped conditions." (BBC News Online)

'Hand-wringer' du jour: "People and climate change place hex on Australia" - "CANBERRA - The "lucky country" is unlikely to be so fortunate in the next 100 years as Australia's big cities sprawl even further and the warming Earth dehydrates its resources, hammers health and lashes the continent with a 21st-century equivalent of fire and brimstone. Two new studies, on population growth and climate change, predict the nation will have a harder time preserving its standard of living as plague, pestilence and disaster increasingly become part of life." (New Zealand Herald)

"Denmark to Control Phthalates in Older Kids' Toys" - "COPENHAGEN, Denmark, November 5, 2002 - Danish retailers and toy importers have been given one year to suggest how phthalate plasticizers could be removed from toys for children aged three to six. Announced Monday by Environment Minister Hans Christian Schmidt, the initiative is thought to be the first in Europe aimed at items for children over three. Schmidt's action keeps Denmark at the forefront of European moves to restrict the use of phthalates, which can leach into children's saliva if toys are sucked." (ENS)

"Airborne Toxic Pollutants Collect in Arctic Peoples" - "BROOKLIN, Canada, Nov 5 - The Inuit of Canada and Greenland have the world's highest exposures to some toxic chemicals, with levels high enough to affect children's mental and sexual development as well as their immune systems, says a new report on pollution in the Arctic." (IPS)

"FEATURE - Australia's losing battle against wild pests" - "Some 3.5 million kangaroos are culled each year, supporting a A$200 million ($112 million) industry based on the meat and skins, but numbers keep swelling. The kangaroo may be a national emblem, standing with pride on Australia's coat of arms, but with more than 58 million "roos" it is now in record plague proportions, damaging the environment and competing with livestock for scarce food." (Reuters)

"The three-and-a-half pound microchip: Environmental implications of the IT revolution" - "Microchips may be small, but a new study shows that their "environmental weight" is much larger than their size would suggest. Scientists have estimated that producing a single two-gram chip — the tiny wafer used for memory in personal computers — requires at least 3.7 pounds of fossil fuel and chemical inputs." (ACS)

"The Greening of the Earth Continues" - "Summary: Both intentionally and unintentionally, man has wrecked great havoc on the planet's vegetation, as have the natural vagaries of weather and climate. Nevertheless, fueled by the aerial fertilization and water conservation effects of the historical and still-ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content, the terrestrial surfaces of the globe grow ever greener." (co2science.org)

"Sea Ice (Antarctic)" - "Summary: Is the sea ice of the Southern Ocean gradually disappearing in response to global warming?" (co2science.org)

"Soil Water Status" - "Summary: A review of the recent literature demonstrates that earth's soils will likely experience increases in their moisture holding capacities as the CO2 content of the air continues to rise, thereby enabling plants to better cope with drought stress and grow in regions from which they currently are excluded due to limited soil moisture availability." (co2science.org)

"Simultaneous Little Ice Age Glacial Advances in Europe and Antarctica" - "Summary: They stand as a significant testament to the global scope of the most recent cool interval of the millennial-scale climatic oscillation that alternatively ushers in several-hundred-year periods of relative warmth and coolness. The Holocene 12: 619-627." (co2science.org)

"Getting Better at Taking the Heat" - "Summary: One of the many hypothesized impacts of global warming is higher human mortality rates during times of peak summer heat. This study clearly demonstrates that economic-driven advances in technologies of all sorts have the capacity to thwart that prediction. In fact, it demonstrates that in many parts of the United States, this potential has already become reality. Climate Research 22: 175-184." (co2science.org)

"Chretien compares fight over climate change with acid rain crusade" - "ST. JOHN'S, Nfld. -- Prime Minister Jean Chretien made a passionate appeal Monday to those opposed to the Kyoto protocol on climate change, saying Canada faced similar challenges when it banned leaded gasoline and passed laws to reduce acid rain." (CP)

Considerable difference there Jean, there's purpose in, and definable benefit from removing lead from gasoline.

"Klein pushes premiers' Kyoto talks" - "OTTAWA and EDMONTON -- Some premiers are getting ready to hold 11th-hour talks on the controversial Kyoto Protocol without Ottawa, Alberta Premier Ralph Klein says. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien has rejected a call by premiers to hold a first ministers meeting before Canada ratifies the treaty, as planned, by year-end. Mr. Klein said he expects premiers will meet to discuss their concern about the treaty's terms "within probably the next month or so," though no date has been set. "We're giving as strong a signal as we possibly can that the Kyoto Protocol as it's now written is the wrong way to go," he said. "That there are other ways that are just as effective, more effective perhaps, but won't have such a serious negative impact on the economy." (Globe and Mail)

"Canadians want Ottawa, provinces to get together on Kyoto: poll" - "OTTAWA - Most Canadians apparently want Ottawa to delay ratifying the Kyoto climate change deal until the federal government works out its differences with the provinces, a new poll shows." (CBC News)

"UK green power boost will raise costs sharply - report" - "LONDON - Boosting the amount of power Britain generates from renewable energy could add hundreds of millions of pounds a year to electricity system costs, a report by consultants ILEX to the government said." (Reuters)


Starting Monday Nov 4 at 9 am, OPIEU local 343 (Greenpeace Door Canvass) will be peacefully protesting their illegal lockout by Greenpeace (GP) management in front of their office at 250 Dundas St. W., just west of University. This will be an information picket with banners, placards, and leaflets.

This is a call for justice in solidarity with the union movement and all social justice movements in general. Those who founded Greenpeace sought to address wrongs by drawing attention to them. Sadly, 30 years later, it is wrongs commited by Greenpeace that we must draw attention to. We hope that our actions will bring about much needed change at GP." (A-Infos News Service)

"Florida approves move to protect pregnant pigs" - "MIAMI, Nov 5 - Florida voters on Tuesday resoundingly approved a state constitutional amendment that would prohibit commercial hog farmers from housing pregnant pigs in cages too small to turn around in. The proposal, placed on the ballot by animal rights activists, passed 55 percent to 45 percent, state election tallies showed." (Reuters)

Pigs made it into the Florida constitution? Enswined, I suppose...

"U.N. food agency seeks new home for genetically modified corn" - "GENEVA - The U.N. food agency is looking for a country to store thousands of tons of genetically modified corn that has been rejected by the Zambian government despite the country's deepening hunger crisis, a spokeswoman said Tuesday." (AP)

"Oregon rejects initiative to make state first to label genetically modified foods" - "PORTLAND, Oregon - Oregon voters overwhelmingly rejected an initiative to make the state the first in the country to require labeling of genetically modified foods." (Associated Press)

November 5, 2002

"Bountiful Harvest: Technology, Food Safety, and the Environment" - "DeGregori has written a book that should be ‘must’ reading for anyone interested in advancing the conditions of civilization. He exposes the myths and disinformation espoused by anti- technology elitists to denigrate the human ingenuity that has added so much to our quality and quantity of life. His effort to set the record straight on DDT is particularly commendable." —Steve Milloy

"A Bloody Shame" - "The American blood supply is in a stranglehold. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Red Cross continue to tighten their rules on who can donate blood. Both aim to ensure blood safety, but seem unable to balance competing risks. Blinded by fears that infection by the human version of mad cow disease, new variant Creutzfeldt Jakob disease (nvCJD), might spread through blood, they have neglected the problem of a shrinking blood supply, which their regulations exacerbate. In their rush to ensure the safety of blood, they risk leaving us no blood at all." (Howard Fienberg)

"How about 'Truthless Tuesday'?" - "Next month the School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) will unveil a national “Meatless Monday” campaign, which it says resulted from a partnership “with a major national public health program.” The initiative will encourage Americans to abstain from all meat at least one day per week, ostensibly to promote “healthy dietary alternatives.”

JHU’s supposed powerhouse of a partner is identified in a press release as “The Meatless Monday Campaign, Inc.” This is an outfit that just about nobody has heard of -- yet. But from what we’ve been able to learn, calling it a “major national public health program” is typical of the kind of falsehoods that usually accompany anti-consumer food crusades.

The Meatless Monday campaign already has its own website, which Internet domain registries show was set up by Sidney Lerner, an officer of the “Molly Lou Foundation.” In 2001, this foundation gave $900,000 to the $100-million Humane Society of the United States for an animal-rights program targeting lifesaving medical research protocols that use animals.

And just who is Molly Lou? We’re not sure, but her foundation was set up by Helaine Lerner (nee Heilbrunn), a New York socialite who already has her hands in plenty of anti-meat and “sustainable” agriculture propaganda.

In 2000, Helaine Lerner’s other foundation (the Helaine Heilbrunn Lerner Fund) gave JHU’s School of Public Health over $546,000. This money went to JHU’s “Center for a Livable Future,” an environmental program that targets industrial livestock agriculture and tries to convince restaurants and grocery chains to abandon their modern, efficient meat suppliers.

The Lerner Fund also gave more than $1.4 million in 2000 to the Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (GRACE), an activist group that publishes not-in-my-backyard pamphlets on how to “confront” livestock farmers. And federal tax records show that Lerner wrote personal checks to GRACE totaling $2.6 million between 1997 and 2000.

GRACE, like JHU’s Center for a Livable Future, owes more than 80 percent of its total operating budget to Helaine Lerner’s checkbook. Now it appears that the upcoming Meatless Monday program is just another Lerner pet project. Consumers beware: it would appear that the Johns Hopkins name and its presumed respectability is for sale, and Helaine Lerner is the highest bidder." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Fiscal Accountability Concerns Come to Conservation" - "Conservation biology has long been driven by a mission to save all the pieces at whatever cost. But just as questions about accounting are shaking up the financial world, conservationists are beginning to pay much closer attention to results. They are looking for more bang for the buck — not just financially but biologically, too.

In recent months, scientists from diverse conservation groups have been meeting to discuss principles and accounting standards for auditing environmental projects. Two of the largest conservation groups, the Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund, are leading the effort, with help from the nonprofit Foundations of Success, which specializes in measuring results.

Government agencies and the people and groups that finance the projects are watching closely to see if greater accountability can be achieved." (New York Times)

"NGOs Alarmed by Annan's Call to Reshape Ties with U.N." - "UNITED NATIONS, Nov 4 - Secretary-General Kofi Annan's call to member states to take fresh stock of the United Nations' relationship with civil society has alarmed some groups, who hope that the world body does not give in to pressures from governments to limit their participation." (IPS)

"Battle with malaria losing ground" - "Despite impressive scientific breakthroughs in the battle against malaria, too little is being done on the ground to fight the disease, World Health Organisation officials told the United Nations on Monday. Last month scientists announced that they had deciphered the complete genetic codes of the microscopic parasite that causes the disease and of the mosquito that transmits it to humans. But a WHO progress report on the $700m (€702m, £452m) Roll Back Malaria campaign says little has been achieved in practical terms since the malaria campaign was launched at an African summit at Abuja, Nigeria, two years ago." (Financial Times)

"Media Bias?" - "In late October the top story under health on the BBC Web site was entitled "Food additives 'cause tantrums'" and referred to "research carried out by the independent watchdog, the Food Commission." We were told that the study "suggests" that "additives in popular snacks can cause hyperactivity and tantrums in young children." The BBC was doing a little sleight of hand, however, as the facts show." (Thomas R. DeGregori, Cato Institute)

Unfortunately, it wasn't just the beeb: Food additive link to tantrums in 25% of toddlers (The Times); Ban sought on 'harmful' additives to children's food (The Guardian)...

"TRANSITION FROM EL NIÑO TO LA NIÑA AFFECTED VEGETATION" - "NASA scientists using satellite data have shown that shifts in rainfall patterns from one of the strongest El Niño events of the century in 1997 to a La Niña event in 2000 significantly changed vegetation patterns over Africa." (NASA/GSFC)

"Warmer Winters Threaten Polar Bears" - "Nov. 4 — Polar bears that roam the Hudson Bay area in the great Canadian North are impatiently waiting for ice to form, and as the winter shortens year by year their lives are becoming increasingly threatened." (AFP)

"Fiery ice from the sea" - "Jokes about swamp gas, and cows in warm barns aside, ONR thinks you ought to be thinking about methane hydrates. There are mega-tons of the stuff at the bottom of the ocean and in the permafrost and it is the cleanest and most abundant source of energy in the world. When burned, it releases less carbon dioxide pollution than anything else around." (Office of Naval Research)

"George Monbiot: Why Blair is an appeaser; Britain plays poodle partly because the US is stitching up the world's oil supplies" - "Tony Blair's loyalty to George Bush looks like slow political suicide. His preparedness to follow him over every precipice jeopardises Britain's relationships with its allies, conjures up enemies all over the world and infuriates voters of all political colours. And yet he never misses an opportunity to show what a trusting friend he is.

There are several plausible and well-established explanations for this unnatural coupling. But there might also be a new one. Blair may have calculated that sticking to Bush is the only way in which our unsustainable economy can meet its need for energy." (The Guardian)

Oh dear! Been stalked by any black helicopters lately Mr Monbiot? Do you believe aircraft contrails to be secret drug spraying of the populace perhaps? Does your research material come from here, here or maybe here?

"'Direct Action': Invade, Explode, Burn, Break, Destroy" - "“Direct action” activists of various stripes have shown no sign of slowing down their attacks since a dozen violent animal rights protesters were indicted on extortion and stalking charges last week in Massachusetts.

SHAC, the radical group whose disciples will face those charges, has continued to terrorize American citizens with any connection to Huntingdon Life Sciences, a medical research lab that uses animals in its search for cures to cancer and Parkinson’s Disease.

In Princeton, New Jersey, SHAC has been posting leaflets accusing a local resident of being a “puppy killer.” In an airport in Germany, a group of SHAC activists chained themselves to desks at an Air France terminal, while their partners in crime caused (in their own words) “untold destruction” to the airport. And in California, a group of SHAC criminals disrupted Halloween by throwing bloodied stuffed-animals at a family whose dad works for Huntingdon’s stockbroker.

The Earth Liberation Front (ELF) has struck again, this time in Virginia. The Washington Times reports that ELF is apparently responsible for recent attacks on construction vehicles, restaurants, homes under construction, and more than 25 sport utility vehicles. The SUV attacks were perpetrated with hatchets, causing over $8,000 in damage to each vehicle. The Richmond Times-Dispatch notes in its coverage that ELF members caused over $1 million in damage by torching SUVs at an Oregon dealership in 2001. Virginia State Police say that the attackers of a home construction site left behind a burned American flag, in addition to an unspecified ELF “calling card.”

Actions against genetically improved food products continue as well. In the UK, three protesters were found guilty on Friday of trying to cut down a field of biotech canola. Closer to home, two activists in Georgia were arrested last week when they refused to leave a grocery store where they were trying to forcibly “educate” shoppers about “Frankenfoods.” And according to the Hartford Courant, nearly a dozen Greenpeace activists “invaded” a Hartford area supermarket with bullhorns and stickers. The Courant notes that “dozens” of similar protests happened all over New England last week. Connecticut activists told reporters: “We’re going to be at their stores until they stop selling genetically engineered foods.” (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Researchers close in on natural solution to PCB contamination" - "A research team has identified one of the key stumbling blocks that prevent microorganisms from decomposing PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). The discovery could eventually show researchers how to teach microorganisms to break down PCBs into ecologically safe molecules, a process known as bioremediation." (Purdue University)

"Oregon's Con Game" - "What do the residents of Oregon share in common with a corrupt African kleptocracy? We're about to find out.

Last week, the starving people of Zambia were told by their President that they could not eat GM food aid from America because it's "poison." This week, Oregonians will vote on Measure 27, a proposal for mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods sold in the state. Oregon's Measure 27 would require that food or drink sold in the state for humans and animals must be labeled if ingredients amounting to over 0.1% of the product have been genetically modified. The decision by the people of Oregon will send an important message to those facing starvation in Zambia and elsewhere." (Jessica Melugin and Roger Bate, TCS)

"Brazil non-GM soy seen threatening rain forests" - "LONDON, Nov 4 - Green groups have praised Brazil's rejection of gene-modified (GM) soybean production but fear the policy will take a heavy toll on the Amazon rain forests. "Soya farming really is emerging as the critical driver of Amazonian deforestation," William Laurance of the Panama-based Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute told Reuters. Andy Tait of the Greenpeace environment group added: "Ironically, Brazil's choice to produce non-GM soya is resulting in huge tracks of land being cleared." (Reuters)

November 4, 2002

"Demonising drink" - "The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans. The French eat a lot of fat and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans. The Japanese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans. The Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. What kills you is speaking English." (Dr Michael Fitzpatrick, sp!ked)

"Scientists probe if wasting disease can spread from deer to cattle" - "MILWAUKEE - Scientists will soon inject brain tissue from deer infected with chronic wasting disease into the brains of healthy cattle to see whether the cows develop a similar disease. Scientists in Ames, Iowa, will begin later this month to try to determine whether the fatal disease can cross from one species to another, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Sunday." (Associated Press)

"Killer flu 'on the way'" - "Experts say governments across Europe need to plan for a virulent flu outbreak that could claim hundreds of thousands of lives. Although the last two winters have brought only mild strains of flu to the UK, the viruses are constantly mutating and scientists say it is only a matter of time before a powerful strain emerges." (BBC News Online)

"Government to increase research funds for Gulf War illnesses" - "WASHINGTON - The Department of Veterans Affairs' plan to sharply increase funding for research into Gulf War illnesses marks a turning point in how the government perceives the problem, the leader of a veterans group said Friday." (Associated Press)

"California Regulators Resist Ban on Dry Cleaning Solvent" - "DIAMOND BAR, Calif., Nov. 2 — Southern California's air-quality regulators on Friday backed away from a proposed ban on the most commonly used dry cleaning solvent. If adopted by the board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the plan would have made the greater Los Angeles region the first jurisdiction in the nation to ban perchloroethylene, or perc." (AP)

The animals uber alles brigade is suffering something of a reversal at present: "Supermodels wrap up warm for a fur revival" - "FUR is back. After decades of rejection by the fashion world and consumers on the grounds of political incorrectness a growing band of style icons — including Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell, who all once took part in anti-fur protests — are decking themselves out in sable and mink. Sales to mere mortals are also climbing." (The Sunday Times) [link may require subscription outside UK]

and "‘Veggies’ turning back into carnivores" - "ONE-FIFTH of vegetarians have returned to eating meat or fish in the past two years, according to a survey showing that the effects of BSE and other food scares of the 1990s are fading from public consciousness. Women lead the change, comprising 500,000 of the 600,000 Britons who are estimated to have abandoned vegetarianism since 1999." (The Sunday Times) [link may require subscription outside UK]

but the 'food police' will still be smiling: "Restaurants may be forced to show calorie counts" - "EVERY restaurant and fast food outlet in Britain will be forced to list the calorie content of each item of food and drink they sell under legislation being proposed by the Food Standards Agency. The rules could oblige every caterer — from top restaurants to fish and chip shops — to inform their customers about the fat, additive and calorie contents of their meals. The agency, which is pushing for the new labelling proposals to be introduced Europe-wide, believes the move would have a dramatic long-term impact on the nation’s health. Critics, however, see it as a prime example of unnecessary government interference and warn that the red tape involved in operating such a system would result in many small businesses going under.

Tony Barnett, professor of medicine at Birmingham University who specialises in treating people with obesity-related diabetes, said: “Foods that are high in calories, fat and sugar should have a government health warning, like cigarettes.” (The Sunday Times) [link may require subscription outside UK]

"Australia posts driest seven months for 100 years" - "SYDNEY - Australia's drought has become the most severe for any seven-month period since records began more than 100 years ago, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said." (Reuters)

"Chilly October sets Prairie records" - "CALGARY - Temperatures inched a little higher on the Prairies Saturday, but a recording-setting cold snap was expected to linger for another two weeks. Early winter weather in the region has shattered records for October, 2002. In parts of Alberta, the temperature plunged to -30 C for the first time ever at this time of year. People in Saskatchewan shivered in the coldest October since 1925. Manitoba beat that, with its coldest October in 150 years." (CBC News)

"Level With Me" - "We're talking of about the submergence of islands, submergence of Shanghai, the submergence of Bombay, the submergence of New York City… Manhattan would be under water."

- Greenpeace climate policy director Steve Sawyer.
"Scientists estimate that by the year 2040 sea level might rise from two inches to one foot higher than today. If it rises one foot, a major storm surge would push the Potomac River over its banks, flooding the park along the river and the Reflecting Pool. The Jefferson Memorial would become an island. By the year 2075, sea level might rise from four inches to two feet higher than today. If it rises two feet, a major storm surge would nearly encircle the Washington Monument and completely surround the Internal Revenue Service, the National Museum of Natural History, the National Gallery of Art and neighboring structures. Muddy waters would even reach the grounds of the U.S. Capitol."
- Dr. Janine Bloomfield, Environmental Defense Fund
The implications of these comments are obvious. If we don't stop emitting lots of greenhouse gases, the planet will heat up. If the planet heats up, sea levels will rise. And if sea levels rise, say goodbye to New York, Washington, Shanghai, Bombay, and other major global cities. So let's get to work on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Such claims are common enough these days. Recently a very distinguished physicist warned of a rise in the level of Lake Michigan by 100 meters over two years, so that most of Illinois would be covered with saltwater while only tenants above 30th story of the Sears Tower could be spared. The physicist went on to suggest that "[m]aybe the worriers about global warming have a point."

But do they? Just because claims are commonly made - or alarming - doesn't necessarily mean they're true. So let's see what the science tells us." (Willie Soon, TCS)

"UN-backed climate change meeting urges action to limit greenhouse gas emissions" - "1 November – Senior officials from some 170 countries attending a United Nations-backed meeting in New Dehli today adopted a Ministerial Declaration urging action to stem global climate change.

The Declaration stresses that in addition to mitigation, high priority must be given to adapting to the adverse impacts of climate change. It reiterates the importance of implementing the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and calls for early ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, which contains binding targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The Declaration also urges governments to promote the transfer of technologies that can help reduce those emissions." (UN News)

Finally: "Climate Talks Shift Focus to How to Deal With Changes" - "The global climate is changing in big ways, probably because of human actions, and it is time to focus on adapting to the impacts instead of just fighting to limit the warming. That, in a nutshell, was the idea that dominated the latest round of international climate talks, which ended on Friday in New Delhi.

While many scientists have long held this view, it was a striking departure for the policy makers at the talks — the industry lobbyists, environmental activists and government officials. For more than a decade, their single focus had been the fight over whether to cut smokestack and tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

Many environmentalists had long avoided discussing adaptation for fear it would smack of defeatism.

Experts espousing the views of industry were thrilled with the shift in New Delhi." | Proposal to Reduce Greenhouse Gases Loses Momentum (New York Times)

For many years those who so correctly point out that the climate will do what the climate will do and that the only means of dealing with that is adaptation have been shouted down by strident wannabe social engineers. There has never been a 'stable climate' and we have no ability to engineer one. It may now be possible to scrap the misanthropic 'impoverish people to control the climate' position Big Green has long espoused and concentrate on development and enrichment as protection for those who suffer disproportionate ill from a hostile environment. Green imperialism threatens the third world to an extent industrialisation never could.

"Dissent Clouds Delhi Climate Declaration" - "NEW DELHI, India, November 1, 2002 - Negotiators at the United Nations conference on climate change emerged from last minute discussions today with consensus on a final resolution, but there is concern that the heated debate of the past 10 days has resulted in little progress.

The flurry of debate over the final declaration illustrates the deep divisions between developed and developing countries, a gulf some believe the United States has helped to widen at the conference in New Delhi." (ENS)

"Rich gave in at climate talks to protect Kyoto pact" - "NEW DELHI - Rich countries, led by European Union members, said they agreed not to press poor nations to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases after a disagreement threatened to derail the process of tackling global warming." (Reuters)

"Greenhouse trade needs US mandate to grow - Entergy" - "NEW YORK - Chemical company Dupont Co. made a demonstration trade of a greenhouse gas this week to utility Entergy Corp., a business that Entergy said could grow if the United States had an emissions trade mandate." (Reuters)

"Red Tape Rash: Action to tackle pollution leads to more piles of tangled rubbish" - "Chocolate snacks KitKats and Penguins are treated differently for the climate change levy, says Ian Peters of the Engineering Employers Federation. Making one qualifies for the 80pc discount by being in a trade that has an official agreement to reduce carbon emissions and the other does not. A major factory may find the paint shop qualifies for the discount while the assembly line part of the plant does not.  And those are true anomalies since the snacks factories and the manufacturer portion are both reducing pollution." (Daily Telegraph)

"Oslo seeks non-polluting gas power plants by 2006" - "OSLO - Norway's government proposed allowing natural gas-fired power plants from 2006 this week even though they would stoke pollution in the Nordic nation that depends on non-polluting hydro-power." (Reuters)

"Ministry eyes energy tax overhaul" - "The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry is set to impose taxes on coal energy sources, currently tax-free, at the rate of about 700 yen per ton from October, ministry sources said. The revenues from the taxation scheme are expected to amount to about 60 billion yen a year, the sources said. At the same time, the sources said, the ministry plans to increase the tax on gases. As a result, the taxation on liquefied natural gas, which is currently 720 yen per ton, will increase to a little over 1,100 yen per ton, and the tax on liquefied petroleum gas will be raised to about 1,200 yen per ton from the current 670 yen." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

"CSIRO warns of drastic curbs on the good life" - "Radical lifestyle changes, such as halving household consumption and imposing energy quotas on individuals, could be needed if Australia is to overcome its greenhouse gas problem in the next 50 years. A controversial CSIRO report to be released by the Federal Government this week argues that without lifestyle and economic changes and "exacting" technological innovation, Australia will struggle to rein in - let alone reduce - harmful carbon dioxide emissions believed to contribute to global warming." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

"Detroit's Hottest Seller Is Its Biggest Gas Guzzler" - "DETROIT, Nov. 1 — Detroit can't seem to sell enough cars or trucks these days without piling on rebates and free financing. With one exception.

Three months into an experiment to bring a smaller and cheaper version of the militaristic Hummer vehicle to a broad audience, General Motors has struck a chord. Put aside the difficulty of selling a $50,000 sport utility vehicle in a bear market and stagnant economy, or of marketing an automobile that gets about 11 miles a gallon when there is renewed focus on oil consumption." (New York Times)

"UK scientists to turn fish vegetarian" - "British scientists are developing the means to turn fish vegetarian in an attempt to preserve dwindling stocks in oceans around the world. Farmed salmon, trout haddock and cod are fed on smaller wild fish. And as they can consume up to five times their own weight, the industry is rapidly becoming unsustainable. But now government scientists at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Agriculture Science in Lowestoft believe they have discovered a chemical to make farmed fish eat vegetable matter. Dr Andy Moore told BBC News: "This will revolutionise fish farming world-wide." (BBC News Online)

"Organic farming shunned by food watchdog" - "Britain's top food safety watchdog has defied ministers for months by refusing to back a government drive to promote organic food and farming, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. Michael Meacher, the minister for the Environment, has written to Professor Sir John Krebs, chairman of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), asking him to explain why it has failed to issue a statement endorsing the environmental benefits of organic food.

Last week Sir John added fuel to the fire by claiming that manure caused much more air and water pollution than do chemical fertilisers. After delivering the annual St Andrew's Prize Lecture in London, he explained that his purpose had been to "undermine" claims that organic farming is more environmentally friendly than conventional agriculture." (Independent on Sunday)

"Hypocrisy at the heart of eco-pesticides" - "SPRING is pretty silent in the vast oil-palm plantations thousands of miles away in Malaysia, where the Scottish organic movement obtains the palmitic acid it requires for one of its safe, sustainable, environmentally friendly pesticides, potassium palmitate.

Few insects survive the chemically drenched atmosphere and nothing grows under the dense foliage. Of the rich, varied ecology of the jungle, with its myriad wildlife and abundant bird calls, nothing remains; the plants and trees have been eradicated and the wildlife slaughtered to make way for the monoculture of the oil palm, whose fruit is an essential ingredient in the Soil Association-approved pesticide." (John Stewart, The Scotsman)

"Invest in Technology, Reap Benefits" - "At several environment conferences over the years, we have seen environmentalists trying to block any progress on the farm front by raising fears about the negative impact of genetic modification (GM) technology, mechanisation of agriculture, construction of irrigation dams and other issues. They are seeking to set farming in poor and developing nations back by many years by romanticising a past that did not produce enough output to feed a growing population." (Times of India)

"No Food for You! The dark side of the precautionary principle" - "The government of Zambia — with three million people facing death by starvation — on October 29 gave its final refusal to distribute U.S. grain already stored there to help feed its starving population. Zambia's Agriculture Minister Mundia Sikatana invoked the "precautionary principle" as his rationale — that is, since the grain was produced through the use of modern biotechnology, it has not been proven to be perfectly safe and may present some future risks to people or the environment. The Zambian government also said it fears European Union countries would refuse imports from Zambia since their crops might run the risk of "contamination" from the genetically modified grain. Currently the EU has a moratorium on approvals of GM crops and will soon be establishing rules requiring traceability and labeling of foods produced through biotechnology." (Frances B. Smith, NRO)

"Roger Beachy: Using Science to Make A Difference in the World" - "In a world where critics often complain that biotechnology research is being driven to make profits for big corporations, Roger Beachy is defying the stereotype." (Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology)

"Food's Fear Factor" - "Technology shapes and transforms all businesses and industries, and agriculture is no exception. The future of farming is in technology, in the ability to use science - including genetic modification - to help do two important things: feed the world and heal the world. Let's take these two in turn." (Nick Schulz. TCS)

"INTERVIEW - US says Zambia to blame if people starve" - "ROME - The United States said Zambia would be accountable to the world if its rejection of U.S. biotech maize caused people to starve to death." (Reuters)

"Biotech drug cited for causing deadly anemia" - "PHILADEPHIA, Pa. - A genetically engineered drug hailed as a dramatic advance in the treatment of kidney disease has been found to cause a sudden upsurge in cases of potentially life-threatening anemia among kidney patients around the world, researchers reported Saturday." (UPI)

November 1, 2002

"Global Warmers Admit No Solutions" - "No treaty will prevent global warming, says a key scientist who believes manmade climate change is happening. That's bad news for the United Nations' bureaucrats who are meeting in New Dehli to conclude a treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Perhaps instead of alarming the public about global warming, the international "climatocracy" should sweat its own dim prospects." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"The International Climatocracy"
Dictating your energy use, redistributing your wealth.

"CLIMATE CHANGE: U.S., EU Square Off Over Growth, Emissions; More" - "With a stormy meeting of parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change approaching its end tomorrow in New Delhi, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky told delegates today that economic growth is the key to environmental protection. European representatives responded by calling on the United States to agree to greenhouse gas emissions limits." (UN Wire)

"U.N. climate meet hammers out draft reference to Kyoto pact" - "NEW DELHI, Oct 31 - A U.N. climate convention revised a draft declaration on Thursday to include mention of the Kyoto accord on reducing global warming after some leading groups strongly objected to its absence. "Parties that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol should strongly urge parties that have not already done so to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in a timely manner," the revised draft cited as one of many steps needed to deal with climate change." (Reuters)

"Russia to discuss Kyoto pact in parliament - report" - "NEW DELHI - Russia will discuss the Kyoto pact in parliament before it ratifies the agreement seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, the Press Trust of India. "We are moving towards ratification of the Kyoto Protocol but many members of the Russian Parliament have reservations on the issue," Alexander Kosarikov, deputy minister of the Russian committee for ecology, said at a climate convention in New Delhi." (Reuters)

"Climate change levy under attack" - "Britain's recession-hit manufacturing sector was dealt a fresh blow by the government's energy tax, the climate change levy (CCL), which has cost it £143m" (The Guardian)

"Carbon emissions up under Labour" - "Britain's emissions of carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming, are higher now than when Labour came to power in 1997, according to Government figures. The provisional figures, found deep in a Government website by Friends of the Earth, suggest that Labour would struggle to meet its manifesto commitment of cutting 1990 carbon dioxide levels by 20 per cent by 2010." (The Daily Telegraph)

"Just so much hot air" - "Any hope that this week's climate change talks in New Delhi would produce a meaningful outcome has virtually disappeared, writes Luke Harding." (The Guardian)

"Canada surplus doesn't account for health, Kyoto" - "OTTAWA - Canadian Finance Minister John Manley said this week that future budget surpluses he was predicting did not take into account possible spending on the public healthcare system or on implementing the Kyoto climate change accord." (Reuters)

"Contortions on Kyoto: A country divided about greenery" - "TO MOST Canadians, the signs of climate change are all too obvious. Two decades of above-average temperatures have left prairie farmers counting crop losses from droughts. In the Arctic region, melting sea-ice and permafrost portend an altered life for northerners—and bring new anxieties over national security as new sea-lanes open up. A rise in summertime smog has brought an increase of asthma among children. This summer, when families escaped to their cabins beside lakes and rivers, they again found water levels far below childhood memories.

So Canada, it might seem, has every reason to back measures to halt global warming. Yet the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien, the prime minister, is struggling to win agreement among provincial premiers and even its own MPs to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change by the end of the year, as he pledged to do at the Johannesburg summit in September." (The Economist)

"International researchers propose advanced energy technologies to help quell global warming" - "In an effort to stabilize climate and slow down global warming, Livermore scientists along with a team of international researchers have evaluated a series of new primary energy sources that either do not emit or limit the amount of carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere." (DOE/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

"Alternative energy sources needed to mitigate global warming, scientists say" - "Regulations alone will not stabilize atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and curb global warming, an international team of climate and technology experts says. What's needed is the further development of alternative energy technologies that permit worldwide economic development while simultaneously stabilizing carbon dioxide levels and controlling climate change." (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

"Scientists tackle the question: 'What will it really take to stop global warming?'" - "A team of researchers, led by Martin Hoffert at New York University, has conducted what may be the first comprehensive study of non-carbon-dioxide-producing energy sources to evaluate how to stabilize the Earth's climate while meeting the world's energy needs. The study, to be published Science, found that no existing alternative energy source, nor combination of sources, currently exists that could adequately replace the energy produced by fossil fuels." (New York University)

Green posturing not going too well? "Shell pumps up pressure on BP" - "Anglo-Dutch group pours scorn on British rival's repeated production revisions - Shell yesterday turned up the heat on stumbling rival BP by reporting a 9% increase in production volumes and better than expected net profits over the third quarter. The Anglo-Dutch company rubbed BP's nose in its 3% output failure, announced this week, by saying hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico had made an impact on Shell's business - but that this was nothing out of the ordinary in itself. Lord Browne, the BP chief executive, on Tuesday blamed the same inclement weather for blowing off course his whole company's output." (The Guardian)

"FEATURE - Cape Cod wind farm plan stirs up controversy" - "BOSTON - The image of a thicket of 40-storey wind turbines humming in the breeze off the coast of Massachusetts' Cape Cod, a futuristic environmental paradise to some, may soon be a daily reality for locals used to postcard-perfect seascapes. A plan to build the United States' first offshore commercial wind-powered electricity generator in cape waters has sparked a fierce debate over nearly every aspect of the project, driving a wedge among New England environmentalists." (Reuters)

"US oil, car industries can meet clean diesel rule" - "WASHINGTON - U.S. petroleum refiners and diesel engine manufacturers should not have problems meeting new federal standards to cut the amount of sulfur in diesel fuel, an Environmental Protection Agency review panel said." (Reuters)

"Europe's dirty air 'still a killer'" - "The air in many European cities is still so polluted that thousands of people are dying premature deaths, scientists say. They describe the damage done by poor air quality as "a significant threat to public health." (BBC News Online)

"No significant rise in cancer deaths in 3-Mile Island residents over 20 years, says Pitt" - "In a 20-year follow-up of mortality data on residents living within a five-mile radius of Three Mile Island, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health found no significant increase overall in deaths from cancer. The findings were published Nov. 1 on the Web site of Environmental Health Perspectives http://ehis.niehs.nih.gov, a journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The paper will appear in the March 2003 issue." (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center)

"Depressingly Low Scientific Standards" - "Few drugs inspire more animosity among people who don't use them than Prozac and its antidepressant cousins. On the one hand, they're derisively described as "happy pills," capable of slapping a smiley face on anyone. Actually, decades of research have shown that only those suffering true clinical depression benefit from them. Even then, the pills merely bring patients up to the level of non-depressed persons." (Michael Fumento, American Outlook)

"The Missing Link" - "Schizophrenia is a frightening mental disease, afflicting more than 25 million Americans. New drugs can treat the problem with fewer side effects than ever before, but recent research has shown these medications to have their own disastrous side-effects, including diabetes and even death. Does this mean the cure is worse than the disease? Given certain deficiencies in the data, there is no reason to think so." (Howard Fienberg, TCS)

So, now it's Grandpa's fault: "Grandpa's diet hits descendants; Effects of nutrition could be carried down generations" - "Grandfathers who overeat might ruin their grandchildren's health, say Swedish researchers. The study suggests that diet, which does not change genes, can nevertheless influence future generations." (NSU)

"Not enough fish in the sea, study finds" - "KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- The world's growing population and overfishing will mean around one billion people in developing countries will face shortages of fish, their most important source of protein, within 20 years. According to analysis released by the Malaysia-based WorldFish Center and the International Food Policy Research Institute, only strong growth in fish farms will save the world from an even more critical situation." (Reuters)

"Uncooked, Unhealthy" - "Eating closer to nature" has become the latest imperative of the food faddist. To some, this means eating food raw (and not irradiated) whenever possible, which carries considerable risks. Raw can be dangerous, since the largest source of salmonella in the United States is uncooked sprouts, which cannot be rendered safe by any means (except irradiation). Some heating is allowed by the nature-eaters, as long the temperature does not exceed 118 degrees — which is a marvelous temperature to multiply most microorganisms. A dedicated food faddist may make reservations four months in advance and pay $69 or more per person for a meal at an uncooked-foods restaurant. There are even uncooked foods cookbooks." (Thomas R. DeGregori, ACSH)

"Scary Vegetables and Friendly Vegetables" - "The Bill Moyers PBS show NOW got one important thing right about genetically-modified crops. "There's no scientific evidence that eating these ingredients hurts our health," says narrator Mark Schapiro in the segment "Seeds of Conflict," which aired earlier this month. Even Moyers' introduction muted the usual "Frankenstein foods" tone of such stories, contrasting "the surprises of nature" with "the precision of science." (Todd Seavey, ACSH)

"Food Scientists Face Farmer Anger, Water Warnings" - "MANILA, Philippines, October 31, 2002 - Farmers' marches and a street conference protesting the corporatization and genetic engineering of foods have confronted the World Bank funded Consultative Group on Agriculture Research (CGIAR) at its annual general meeting in Manila this week. Inside, the researchers heard dire water shortage warnings. Hundreds of farmers from 10 countries are demanding that the current system of agricultural research be dismantled and replaced with farmer led, farmer centered approaches." (ENS)

"The Grim Reaper" - "Where it comes to global public policy, there is one issue that pulls all developing countries together, and nearly everyone in the rich world too - the misery caused by Western agricultural subsidies. But things may be improving since the poor nations have had enough of Northern country protection of its farmers. Regardless of the recent and obscene US farm bill, there has been a continual, if slothful, move in the North to reduce farm subsidies, since issues of food security (which was the main justification for subsidies in the first place) have receded.

But not all food subsidies are so obviously odious. Many subsidies funded by the world's taxpayers are designed to increase access of the poorest of the poor to basic nutrition." (Roger Bate, TCS)

"Biotech Boogeyman" - "There's an initiative on the ballot in Oregon this fall that deserves to be labeled scary - and not just for the people of Oregon.

Measure 27 would require any product containing at least one genetically modified ingredient to carry an ominous label: "Genetically Engineered." As a state law, it would only affect food sold in Oregon. Its backers, however, have grander ambitions. They want to stigmatize healthy genetically modified foods everywhere by making them sound like freakish inventions. But the facts resist caricature. If you ate corn flakes this morning, put cheese on your burger at lunch or popped open a soda, you almost certainly consumed a product that was derived from bioengineering." (Dean Kleckner, TCS)

Letter of the moment: "African food for thought" - "Zambia's president would like to protect his nation from the "poison" of GM maize (Zambia slams door shut on GM relief food, October 30). Unfortunately, corpses don't talk, so we'll never know if the famine victims of Mwanawasa's irresponsible policy agreed with him. Some citizens voted with their feet by looting over 500 bags of GM grain from a shortage shed in Mumbwa. ..." (Dr Roger Bate, The Guardian)

"Biotech Rule Roils Iowa Campaign" - "Leaders of the Biotechnology Industry Organization thought they were defusing a controversy, not starting one, when they announced a plan to limit the growing areas for new genetically manipulated crops designed to produce pharmaceutical and industrial compounds.

But the policy, which the Washington trade group disclosed last week, has provoked a furious response in Iowa, where Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) is locked in a tight reelection battle with Republican challenger Doug Gross. The policy would prohibit plantings in Iowa of certain corn varieties. With Iowa farmers fearing the loss of what some see as a potential economic boon, the candidates are competing to denounce the BIO policy." (The Washington Post)