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Archives - October 2000

October 31, 2000

Trick or treat? Leading the Halloween edition, the UK rushes to blame enhanced greenhouse for a storm: Environment Agency says storms will become more common | More tornadoes likely as global warming sends weather haywire | Wild weather 'a sign of climate change' (Ananova) | Are storms the result of global warming? | Britain hit by worst storms for 13 years | We've got to fix those cars (environment minister Michael Meacher) | Global warming: it's with us now | No, no November (Guardian) | We need a sea change in our attitude to global warming | The day Britain took a battering (Independent) | Raging planet | In times of shortage, fill up with humanity | Why the Great Storm was not as bad (each way bet from The Times) | BBC Online left well alone and simply reported the weather with Storm chaos across Britain.

That left the Telegraph almost alone in debunking enhanced greenhouse hysteria with Britain takes a battering | Divine displeasure? | Acid test, surprisingly supported by The Express with This fuel furore will not help to save the planet.

"Disaster, disease caused by global warming" - "Dhaka, Bangladesh - Frequent natural disasters and the return of diseases previously eradicated in Bangladesh are the results of global warming, experts say. A study by the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) showed an "alarming" rise in sea levels of "up to 10 millimetres (0.4 inches) at some points in some countries, including Bangladesh," Abdul Musawwir Chowdhury of the government's Bangladesh Space Research and Remote Sensing Organisation (SPARRSO) said." (News 24)

Fenton Communications' latest foray: Scientists declare global warming and human impacts are combining destructive forces on coral reefs (check out NoMoreScares.com for more on Fenton et al)

"China to become biggest polluter" - "Beijing - China, on track to become the world's number one emitter of carbon dioxide, will not sacrifice its economic development to the battle against global warming, officials said. Beijing will approach an international global warming conference in The Hague in November ready to torpedo any proposal which seeks to impose restrictions on developing countries' pollution emissions, as has been suggested by German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin. "The issue of cutting developing countries' carbon gas emissions should not be revived again," said a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman." (News 24)

"Warm and Warmer" - "One of these days, probably after some catastrophe in which hundreds of people are killed, we'll start to take global warming seriously. Every few months we get a scary update on this phenomenon and there's a sense of "Well, gee, we really should be doing something about this." But the story quickly fades and we turn our attention back to "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," or the second coming of "Survivor," or whatever. There's always something more pressing than global warming." (Bob Herbert at it again in NY Times) The Washington Post believes it too.

"New Climate Scares Are Politics As Usual" - "It's Halloween time, and things are starting to get scary on the environmental front. In two weeks at The Hague in the Netherlands, hundreds of scientists and government officials will gather at the Sixth Conference of the Parties to hammer out rules and regulations to deal with global warming. Appropriately acronymed COP-6, this United Nation's conclave aims to police and eventually arrest the emission of greenhouse gases from human activity." (James K. Glassman, Reason Online)

"Canada has done 'nothing' since Kyoto" - "Suzuki says government has sought 'loopholes' in greenhouse gas deal." (Ottawa Citizen)

"Clean, Green and Secret" - "... But the Vice President's views here are worth revisiting, because they have clear implications in a critical area of executive power: regulation. Now we've all heard Mr. Gore contrasting his own abstract projections of a cleaner, greener America against what he paints as the scarred and uncaring landscape of Governor Bush's Texas. All the more reason to look at what it would mean if Mr. Gore's brand of caring ever made it out of his books and town hall meetings and into government. For in the past month the Administration has given us a good taste of the bitter medicine he has in mind. ... Given his own more "populist" and antibusiness agenda, we can expect Mr. Gore to take this practice to the next level. On the TV circuit, of course, Mr. Gore's views on everything from health care to the environment have become a regular staple of late-night monologues. As executive orders, they won't be so funny." (WSJ)

"Halloween Safety: Safety Alert" - "A few safety tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission can protect children who plan to go trick-or-treating this Halloween." (CPSC) [Study says Halloween's real peril is cars, not razor blades]

"Be afraid, it is good for your health" - "Halloween ghouls and monsters are good for you, scientists believe. Some of the world's prominent academics and neuroscientists say fear offers big therapeutic benefits, and too little may even do you harm." (National Post)

"CELTIC LEGACY" - "Halloween naysayers warn that, if little Peter dresses up as the devil on Tuesday, he runs the risk of meeting the real Satan, who considers the holiday a tribute. But the only things remotely satanic about All Hallows' Eve are strange--and rather harmless--folk rituals: They involve young Irish girls' underwear and apple peeling." (Chicago Tribune) [Halloween, When Candy's Bad Rap Takes A Holiday]

"Fatty diets 'not linked to breast cancer'" - "Scientists have produced evidence to debunk the widely held belief that a high fat diet increases the risk of breast cancer in older women." (BBC Online)

"Scientists find bras a pain and a possible cancer risk" - "WEARING a bra exposes women to a "statistically significant" risk of increased breast pain, cysts in the breast and might even be linked to the development of cancer, according to a study." (Telegraph)

Well, actually, no they don't:

"Claims of bra link to cancer dismissed" - "A British surgeon has denied claims that his study into breast pain has found any link between wearing a bra and developing cancer." (BBC Online)

"Wild for chocolate?" - "Forget about lollipops, and don't even think of buying peppermints. As Halloween draws near, many discerning trick-or-treaters agree there's only one sweet worth getting: chocolate. On the brink of one of chocolate's biggest nights of the year, environmentalists are asking to spare a thought for where this treat comes from -- the world's tropical forests, where the main ingredient in chocolate is grown." (USA Today)

"You Can't Make That Decision For Yourself" - "What's this? Massachusetts diners can't choose to eat sushi unless it has been frozen or cooked because of the infinitely small chance of it making them sick. The Boston Herald comments on this and other inane outcomes of the nannies' latest attempt to save us from ourselves. Meanwhile, New Zealand nannies are attempting to "save" us by taxing high-calorie foods so that we can't afford to buy them, as proposed in this country by the Center for the Science in the Public Interest. "The public health community seems reluctant to learn the lessons from the history of tobacco and alcohol control in New Zealand: price is a key factor affecting behaviour. A tax, applied at source, on the saturated fat content of manufactured meat and dairy products seems feasible," doctors in support of a fat-tax wrote in the country's Medical Journal." (GuestChoice.com)

"Hospitals 'beating the superbugs'" - "Hospitals appear to be winning the war against so called superbugs, according to a team of scientists in Edinburgh. The deadly infections are picked up by patients in hospitals and are resistant to nearly all antibiotics. But the Edinburgh scientists have discovered that the levels of resistance have stopped rising for the first time - meaning doctors may now be able to treat them." (BBC Online)

"GE boon to medical safety, inquiry told" - "Seven New Zealanders are known to have died from Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (CJD), some of them after using a natural growth hormone drawn from humans, the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification was told yesterday. But the deaths linked to the hormone taken from humans had stopped when a genetically engineered product was substituted." (NZ Herald)

"Enzo Biochem Says Drug Suppresses Liver Cancer in Mice" - "DALLAS - Biotechnology company Enzo Biochem Inc. Monday said its immune regulation product had reduced mortality and completely suppressed HBV-associated human liver cancer in laboratory mice." (Reuters)

"Australia GM laws seen helping to ease public fear" - "CANBERRA - An Australian group supporting genetic technology in agriculture said yesterday tighter regulation could help soothe public concerns about genetically modified (GM) crops, but push up the costs of compliance." (Reuters)

"Common Kidney Disease Has a Genetic Basis" - "Researchers have located a gene that causes immunoglobulin A nephropathy (IgAN), one of the most common kidney diseases. IgAN, which was not previously recognized to be an inherited disorder, affects up to one percent of the population worldwide and 100,000 people in the United States. In discovering that the development of IgAN is influenced by a gene on chromosome 6, the scientists have opened the way to better understanding of the cause of IgAN and the possibility that treatment aimed at the molecular cause of IgAN may one day prevent kidney failure in patients with the disorder." (HHMI)

"Study: Potato Vaccine May Work Against Hepatitis" - "WASHINGTON - Researchers said on Monday they had taken a step closer to making an edible vaccine against hepatitis B, a virus that infects billions of people and that can lead to liver disease, cancer and even death." (Reuters)

"Genes May Affect Susceptibility To Lead Exposure" - "Genes may in part determine how lead is handled by the body and how it collects in the blood and the bone. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health have found evidence suggesting that genetic factors may significantly influence how susceptible a person is to lead exposure. The study appears in the October 2000 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives." (UniSci)

"Everyday electrical appliances may threaten fertility" - 'Women who are exposed to low level radiation from everyday electrical appliances may be lowering their chances of having children. ... Dr Michael Clark, from the radiation watchdog, said that appliances in the home had electromagnetic radiation levels much lower than those used in the study. "Turning this into advice for women on contraception, I think, is taking it too far," he said. "Although other work in this area has shown no effect on reproduction in mice, we will look at this latest research very carefully and refer it to our advisory group." (Independent) [BBC Online]

"Wetlands and federal power" - "Case before the Supreme Court will shape how much say Uncle Sam has in local conservation." (CSM)

"Economic realities depleting arsenal of antiparasitic drugs" - "While resistance may be reducing the effectiveness of our medicine chest, we have another force to fear: economics. Many drugs still effective against parasitic diseases are either no longer available, no longer manufactured or in danger of being pulled from the market simply because they are not economically viable, say researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at a presentation during the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene." (ASM)

"'Death toll from CJD could rise to millions'" - "The death toll from CJD could rise to thousands or even millions, scientists warned yesterday." [Fears of new CJD 'cluster' after two die in same street] (Independent)

October 30, 2000

"THE HOT AIR CANDIDATE" - "Citing a draft U.N. report claiming pollution may cause the Earth's temperature to rise by 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century, Gore said at a rally last week, "My opponent says on global warming, he's not sure what the cause is, and maybe we shouldn't do anything about it or just study it . . . I have never backed down or given up on the environment and I never will in my whole life. I guaran-damn-tee-it!" So why has Gore scarcely mentioned the issue during the campaign - even though the draft report was released last April?" (Steven Milloy in the New York Post)

"The Cell-Phone Scare" - "When fear is the opponent, science doesn't stand a chance." (Gary Taubes in Technology Review)

What a circus: "COP6 organizers will premiere Imax film on climate change" - "Back in March of this year, as preparations for the Sixth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework on Global Climate Change (COP6) started to gather steam, Jan Pronk, the Dutch Environment Minister who is chairman of the event, said he wanted its opening ceremony to be truly special. To that end, he decided that the curtain raiser would be an Imax film to be seen on a giant 7,500 square foot (700 square meter) screen. The conference organizers at the ministry rushed to consult world experts on the feasibility of the project. They were quickly told that an Imax movie would require extensive funding and two years of work." (Earth Times)

"Climate change warning for 'tornado Britain' - Meacher" - "World climate change could be one of the factors causing this weekend's storms and tornadoes, says Environment Minister Michael Meacher. After visiting the scene of a tornado which ripped through Bognor Regis, West Sussex, Mr Meacher said the role of pollution and its effect on the global atmosphere was one of the reasons people were seeing increasingly varied weather." (Ananova) [South braced for more storms]

Really? This from Professor Philip Stott:

Gilbert White of Selborne: his Naturalist's Journal for the Year 1770:- "Oct. 18, 1770: Vast floods on the Sussex rivers: the meadows all under water. Vast flood at Houghton... The Sussex-rivers are very liable to floods, which occasion great loss & inconvenience to the Farmers.
Oct. 29, 1770: Trees carry their leaves well for the season.
Nov. 8, 1770: Heavy rain for 24 hours.
Nov. 9, 1770: Floods: torrents & cataracts in the lanes."

Comment: sounds familiar? So much then for 'global warming' causing the 'extreme' events of this year in Sussex! The cynical use of such normal non-equilibrium climatic events by environmental extremists to try to frighten people into believing in human-induced 'global warming' is just immoral.

"Global warming may devastate Pacific nations - report" - "WELLINGTON - Rising sea levels and sea temperatures caused by global warming may devastate the economies of several small South Pacific nations over the next 20 years, according to an economic report released on Friday. The report, commissioned by the environmental group Greenpeace, estimated that a rise in the sea level of 12-20 cm (4.7-7.8 inches) would cost nine small Polynesian and Micronesian nations A$4-5 billion ($2.0-$2.6 billion) over the next 20 years." (Reuters)

"South Pacific sea levels seen needing more study" - "TARAWA, Kiribati Sea levels may be rising but there is no evidence yet to suggest this is being accelerated by global warming, the director of an environmental monitoring project for South Pacific islands said on Saturday. ... Scherer said he was confident a report by the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, due for release in February, would also show no acceleration in sea change. "It will recognise that on the historical data, even on a global basis, there is no evidence of accelerations," he told Reuters following the briefing, adding that as a contributor he had seen some sections of the report." (Reuters)

"We're all `polluters,' a nebulous term" - "Vice President Al Gore has long been in the front rank of the crowd predicting environmental disaster from global warming. Now he's implying that ``the big polluters'' are behind it all - and of course, supporting his opponent. As Pogo said in the famous comic strip: We have met the enemy and he is us. The ``polluters'' in Gore's latest resort to demagoguery are mostly the cars we all drive and the power plants that generate electricity we all use." (Boston Herald editorial)

"Pollution makes Chinese men impotent" - "BEIJING - Heavy pollution is contributing to soaring rates of impotence among men in China, the China Daily reported on Saturday. Some 20-30 percent of all adult men in a total population of 1.3 billion suffer from sexual problems, including impotence and sterility, the newspaper said without giving the source of its statistics." (Reuters)

"No Subsidies for Hybrid Autos" - "Taxpayers finally won a round in Washington last week when congressional Republicans rejected yet more subsidies for “alternative-fuel” vehicles. A similar scheme is the central element of Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore’s energy policy. But there’s no way to justify spending billions of taxpayers’ dollars on unmarketable cars. The congressional measure would have made available a tax credit worth up to $3,000 on the purchase of a hybrid vehicle — which combines components of a conventional internal combustion engine and an electric motor to improve fuel efficiency. The actual credit would be calculated on the amount of power derived from the rechargeable energy source — a formula perfectly tailored for regulatory overreach." (Detroit News)

"Straw orders police to be more forceful with fuel protesters" - "Police and army drivers have been put on standby by the Government to break up any future fuel protest and keep petrol tankers on the road. Hundreds of army drivers are receiving emergency training so that they are licensed to drive petrol tankers past picket lines. The Home Secretary has also instructed the police to intervene more forcefully to break up any future fuel protest. Jack Straw has told police chiefs to take a more assertive stance towards pickets than during last month's protests which brought much of Britain to a halt." (Independent)

"$10 Oil?" - "... Now 70, Yamani is chairman of the Centre for Global Energy Studies, a think tank in London he founded a decade ago. And he is making another prediction that will not be popular within the royalty of OPEC: He sees the price falling from the current $34 to as low as $10 a barrel by the end of next year. "I would be happy if I was wrong, but I know, as sure as a-b-c, that it is coming," he says." (Forbes)

"Industrial efforts required to cut gas emissions: NGO" - "Japan can meet its international pledge to fight global warming by forcing its industries to cut energy consumption, a nongovernmental organization proposed at a symposium in Tokyo on Sunday." (Japan Times)

"Denmark says confident will meet CO2 emission goal" - "COPENHAGEN - The Danish Energy Agency said on Friday it was confident Denmark would meet its tough target to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 21 percent in line with a global strive to curb greenhouse gases." (Reuters)

"Govt plan to cut greenhouse gases in doubt over definition of 'forest'" - "A disagreement over the definition of "forest" means that Japan may have difficulty fulfilling its commitment to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol adopted during the Third Conference of Parties to the U.S. Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Kyoto in 1997." (Daily Yomiuri)

"Americans refuse to pay more for 'green' power" - "Nearly half of American consumers remain cool to the idea of paying more for electricity to help mitigate global warming, according to a new survey. The survey of 600 American households sponsored by Deloitte & Touche found more than 33 percent were ''not willing at all'' to pay a 20 percent premium for electricity derived from cleaner fuel technologies and another 14 percent said they would rather not pay extra." (Boston Globe)

"Taiwan opposition to mull action on nuclear plant" - "TAIPEI - Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian's closest rival in the March, 2000, presidential vote, James Soong, said on Sunday he would meet with other opposition leaders to fight the government's decision to scrap a nuclear power plant. "These discussions will not be limited to a vote of no-confidence in the cabinet or impeaching the president, but forming a consensus among opposition parties," said former provincial governor Soong, who heads the People First Party." (Reuters)


"Too clean for our own good?" - "Why don't children who live on farms develop many allergies while those who live in cities have a 40 to 50 percent risk of becoming allergic to something? Why do children who start day care before 6 months of age have little risk of developing asthma—an allergy—while the disease is epidemic among rich, middle-class and poor children who enter child care later? Why can children growing up in Jamaica eat all the peanuts they want while Jamaican children growing up in London develop peanut allergies?" (Chicago Tribune)

"Fat-tax plan to reduce disease" - "Beef burgers and creamy milkshakes could hit New Zealanders' hip-pockets as hard as their waistlines if policymakers swallow a "fat-tax" proposal from doctors." (NZ Herald)

"Fraudulent Marketers Capitalize on Demand for Sweat-Free Diets" - "... Since fenfluramine, part of the popular prescription drug combination known as fen-phen, was pulled from pharmacy shelves in 1997 for causing dangerous and potentially fatal side effects, dieters have scrambled for a substitute that offers the same dramatic results with as little effort. In their search, they have turned quick-fix, over-the- counter weight loss products from a tiny sliver of the diet industry into its fastest-growing segment." (NY Times)

"USDA seeks advice on its role in bio-grain segregation" - "WASHINGTON - The US Agriculture Department will publish a notice in November asking grain exporters, farm groups, food manufacturers and others if government rules are needed to ensure the strict segregation of gene-altered crops, such as StarLink corn." (Reuters)

"Few in Asia worried about US bio-corn - trade" - "SINGAPORE - Few if any Asian corn buyers outside Japan seem concerned about the controversy surrounding US Starlink biotech corn, but prices might be affected if Japan turns away from US supplies, traders said on Friday." (Reuters)

"No need for EU alarm over StarLink corn - EU aide" - "WASHINGTON - A European Union official said on Friday he saw no threat to the health of European consumers from a biotech corn variety that has caused controversy in the United States and Japan." (Reuters)

"Mice protected by vaccine in GM potatoes" - "THE day when a tablet of potato or sun-dried tomato replaces vaccination injections for deadly diseases has moved a step closer. Scientists have successfully tested a genetically modified potato with a built-in vaccine for hepatitis B on mice, according to a report published today. The oral vaccine passed through the animals' stomachs without being broken down and stimulated the production of antibodies against the disease." (Telegraph)

'We can rebuild him....' - "Scientists are developing new ways to treat previously incurable conditions by tapping into the body's remarkable ability to renew itself. Until recently, it was thought impossible to re-grow human tissue but, as the BBC television programme Superhuman reports, many doctors now think it can be done - and some are making dramatic breakthroughs. The key is to identify the genes involved in self-repair and stimulate them to regenerate new cells, tissues and even organs." (BBC Online)

"MEDICINE'S BIBLE LOSING ITS AURA OF GOSPEL TRUTH" - "A new broom sweeps clean, but when those being swept are regarded as the guardians of the medical profession's highest scientific and moral standards, the broom seems a sad sign of dangerous times. A flurry of house-cleaning has befallen the world's most esteemed medical publication--the patrician New England Journal of Medicine, which since 1812 has been giving doctors the information they need to take care of the sick." (Chicago Tribune)

"Scientists closer to arthritis 'cure'" - "A new arthritis treatment by British scientists may lead to a cure for the crippling disease. Initial trials of the drug treatment have exceeded all expectations with only two out of 20 patients showing no benefits." (BBC Online)

"Alcoholic liver disease may be genetic" - "DALLAS, TEXAS – A new study released at the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) 2000 Annual Meeting in Dallas, October 29 – 31, suggests that genetic factors play a role in the development of advanced alcoholic liver disease (ALD) in heavy drinkers." (K-M Communications)

"Are libertarian ideas catching on" - "IN THE LAST century, the principles of individual liberty and small government were often declared dead and obsolete. Yet as the new millennium begins, these ideals still have powerful appeal. While some - including Al Gore - would give the government credit for our unprecedented prosperity, most Americans remain skeptical. A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 60 percent would rather have a smaller government with fewer services than a bigger government with more services. (While men are more likely to take this view, it is endorsed by more than half of women.)" (Cathy Young in the Boston Globe)

"Is the Steller sea lion Alaska's spotted owl?" - "In the 1970s a rare, finger-length fish, the snail darter, famously halted work on a huge federal dam project in Tennessee. In the early 1990s the federal government put millions of acres of Pacific Northwest timber off-limits to loggers because of a bird, the spotted owl. Now, in Alaska, another animal is gaining notoriety because of its status as an endangered species." (Anchorage Daily News)

"Wild flowers disappearing from the countryside" - "Britain's common wild flowers are growing scarcer in every county, apart from a few species which are flourishing at the expense of the rest, according to a new report from the conservation charity Plantlife. ... It is happening, the report says, only partly because of habitat destruction, development, the drainage of wet places and the decline of woodland management. Another major reason, so far unappreciated, is the overall increase in Britain's soil fertility, as a result of nitrogen enrichment from years of chemical fertilisers being used in farming, and from nitrogen deposits laid down by road-traffic pollution." (Independent)

October 29, 2000

"For my next trick, I'll save the world" - "... Dad's big speech on the environment earlier in the week also featured a guest appearance by Euan, though this was less of a surprise. It is ever the Prime Minister's habit to deploy his children as a token of his sincerity about saving the world. He suggested that it was his son who opened his eyes to the importance of the environment when Euan butted into a discussion with a colleague and sat up debating with them 'into the late hours'. The Prime Minister expresses himself 'stunned' by how 'interested and knowledgeable' his son's generation are about the threat to the planet. This may tell us less about the young's grasp of the issues as Blair senior's lack of it." (Andrew Rawnsley, Observer)

Hmm... a youth, completely lacking life experience and hardly expected to be discerning when it comes to evaluating fact and dogma, sways UK politics. If true, this is a dramatic demonstration of just how much trouble the world is in. And true it may be for our young are 'educated' by perpetual juveniles who have never emerged from the school system, lack any real world experience due to a totally cloistered existence and are highly susceptible to dogma dissemination. It is no accident that anti-capitalists and conservationists recruit so heavily among the young in universities, colleges and schools because they follow the spirit of Goebbels (Paul Joseph Goebbels, 1897-1945, Nazi politician; minister of propaganda 1933-45), who said "Give me the child until he is 5 and I will give you the man for life." Apparently, the spirit of this lesson has been learned well by the nature uber alles brigade for a huge amount of dizinformation is distributed via schools and the eduction system, leaving our younger generations and educators believing that the world is terminal and worsening and that people are to blame. That this works well is evidenced by the success of such bizarre and patently absurd scares as enhanced greenhouse, trace chemical exposure, cell phone and/or power line radiation, crop enhancement ...

If policy is indeed being influenced by a know-nothing kid, self-described as 'the family drunk' and under the influence of eco-flakes then the UK is in very deep trouble - and so are the rest of us.

Pre-COP6 hype & book promotion: "Beating the Heat, a Practical Manual of Climate Change" - "BERKELEY, California, October 27, 2000 (ENS) - Scientists charged with forecasting global temperature increases due to climate change have almost doubled their worst case scenarios since their last assessment for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1995. The latest projections to the year 2100 range from a 1.5 to 6 degrees centigrade increase in global average temperatures." (ENS [who, as every schoolboy knows, are sponsored by IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)])

Beating the Drum Heat comes with pre-publication comments from: John Adams, co-founder and President, Natural Resources Defense Council; Lester Brown, President, Worldwatch Institute; Ernest Callenbach, author of Ecotopia and Ecology: A Pocket Guide; and Stephen Schneider, Stanford University; Editor, Climatic Change. Quite a collection of serial disaster prognosticators. Perhaps best summed by citing Stephen (was "Ice Age/Global Cooling", now, "Global Warming") Schneider: "To capture the public imagination, we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we may have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest." - Discover Magazine, Oct 1989.

"Global warming 'worse than feared'" - "A draft report prepared for the world's governments says that the earth may heat up much more than current forecasts suggest." (BBC Online's Alex "G. W." [for "Global Warming"] Kirby gets into the act) [NY Times too]

"Pacific sea levels not rising: New research" - "TARAWA, Kiribati - The latest scientific research has shown Pacific Ocean sea levels are not rising, it was announced today. Dr Wolfgang Scherer, director of Australia's National Tidal Facility, told journalists covering the Pacific Islands Forum here that data gathered over the past nine years showed no evidence of sea levels increasing. Under an Australian aid programme in association with the South Pacific Regional Environment Program, automatic sea level and climate observation stations installed in 11 island countries had been feeding data via satellite back to his project base in Adelaide. While there was mounting evidence of oceans warming to some extent, he said no evidence existed of sea levels rising." (AFP)

?!! "Global warming to blame for monsoon rains here, study finds" - "... According to many scientific studies, the Earth's atmospheric temperature has risen by about 2.5 degrees Celsius over the last century." (Haaretz Daily)

I've seen figures ranging from +0.3°C to +0.6°C over the past century but +2.5°C is certainly a new one. Perhaps they mean since the latter 17th century - the depths of the LIA (Little Ice Age)? Even then they could be rather stretching a friendship.

"Tories favour N-plants" - "A new generation of nuclear power stations is being mooted as a solution to serious doubts about the UK's ability to meet targets for the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. Conservative trade and industry spokesman David Heathcoat-Amory believes construction of up to eight new-generation pressurised water reactors - the technology used in Britain's most modern plant at Sizewell B in Suffolk - should be considered as a possible solution to Britain's energy problems." (Observer)

"DDT maker agrees to settle pollution lawsuit" - "LOS ANGELES (October 28, 2000 7:29 a.m. EDT http://www.nandotimes.com) - A pollution trial ten years in the making has ended with Montrose Chemical Corp. and two other companies agreeing to pay an undisclosed amount to compensate Californians for damages linked to a large DDT deposit in the ocean off Los Angeles. The deal came Friday after nearly a week of testimony in what was one of the nation's largest and longest-standing environmental cases. The government was seeking roughly $150 million in damages." (AP)

Interesting. Just because you are obeying the law of the day doesn't mean you behave legally. Judge Real should also get real and check out 100 things you should know about DDT

"Toxic fumes from refuse ovens could kill 9,000" - "Government plans to burn household waste in incinerators rather than recycle it will produce so much toxic pollution it will cause almost 9,000 deaths." (Observer)

Gummint replaces Ben & Jerry's?

"Study shatters television myth" - "Experts have debunked the theory that watching television leads to bad behaviour in children." (Sunday Telegraph) [Observer]

"Scientists lose sleep over endocrine disruptors" - "In the early 1980s, British scientists studying aquatic life in the Thames River system discovered several fish with a confusing gender issue. Some fish that were supposed to be male according to their genetic code had, in fact, developed as females. This hermaphroditic condition was traced back to environmental contaminants now known as endocrine disruptors." (ENN)

Curious, very weak hormonally active agents such as detergents and plastics are specifically cited yet there is no mention of actual hormones which abound in human effluent. Shouldn't effort be directed more at the real McCoy rather than pathetically weak mimics?

"Conundrum of the hereditary component of testicular cancer" - "No reason has been found for the tenfold increase in incidence of testicular cancer in industrialised countries during the twentieth century1 beyond the bland notion that there is very likely to be an environmental cause. It is ironic therefore that the largest case-control study, done at the end of that century, should show that the greatest risk factor for testicular cancer was hereditary.2,3 Several statistically significant environmental factors were also found--testicular maldescent (as usual), early onset of puberty, increased sexual activity, sedentary lifestyle, reduced exercise, and being a first-born child--but these effects were small. However, patients with testicular cancer were four times more likely than controls to have a father, and eight times more likely to have a brother, with the same cancer.2 Elsewhere these risks were found to be 4 and 10, respectively.4 These levels of risk are much higher than in almost all other cancer types, most notably breast cancer, for which a familial pattern of disease has gained so much attention." (The Lancet)

"How sleep can save your life" - "Ten million Britons are not getting enough time in bed, sleeping. They run the risk of strokes, obesity, depression, and even cancer, reports Anthony Browne" (Observer)

"Study: Environment Not to Blame for Asthma" - "FRIDAY, Oct. 27 -- Hold the dust mop: A new study shows that exposure to cat fur and dust mites doesn't necessarily cause childhood asthma. Researchers at Humboldt University in Germany say the seven-year study shows routine contact with such microscopic elements around the house doesn't cause childhood asthma. Rather, they say, the lung condition is determined by an array of independent factors. Those results, published in the Oct. 21 issue of The Lancet, contradict the findings of other asthma researchers who say environmental factors like dust and exposure to cat dander and secondhand smoke have an influence on the development of asthma, which affects 17.3 million people in the United States. Those figures have jumped 80 percent over the past 20 years, experts say, and asthma is especially a problem for inner-city children." (HealthScout)

"More to smoking and lung cancer than meets the eye?" - "... Using the International Agency for Research on Cancer p53 database, Rodin and co-workers analysed p53 mutations in cancers accessible to smoke (for example, lung, oesophagus, oral cavity). No significant differences were found either in the frequency or types of p53 mutations in smokers compared with non-smokers. Furthermore, there was no difference in the frequency of tumours with silent p53 mutations in smokers compared with non-smokers." (The Lancet)

"After BSE: a crisis for science" - "BSE is the latest crisis to dent public faith in those who should know better" (Guardian)

"Travel and risk of venous thrombosis" - "In 1998 the term economy class syndrome was coined to describe the association between travel and thrombosis. A fair risk estimate, however, has not been done. We report the results of a prospective study, in which we kept the effect of bias to a minimum. We compared travel history in 788 patients with venous thrombosis with that of controls with similar symptoms but in whom the disease had been excluded. For air travel alone, the odds ratio was 1·0 (95% CI 0·3-3·0); also, no association was recorded for other methods of transportation. We have shown that, there is no increased risk of deep vein thrombosis among travellers." (The Lancet)

"Blast fishing competes with reef conference" - "A week-long, international gathering of coral reef experts that concluded Friday in Bali has done much more than generate new scientific insights and management strategies to protect the ocean environment. The symposium has already had an inadvertent, explosive impact on coral reefs in Indonesia." (ENN)

"Private Property Scorecard Released" - "The League of Private Property Voters (LPPV) released its annual scorecard today, covering the most important votes of the 1999-2000 106th Congress." (ALRA)

October 28, 2000

"Preparations continue for climate change conference" - "... With the total number of participants estimated at 10,000, the task at hand is of almost epic proportions. The Statenhal, a massive 60,000 square-foot hangar-like structure inside the Netherlands Congress Center, will house 17 offices for the country delegations, United Nations officials, NGOs and journalists." (Earth Times)

Add in the emissions from all those millions of air miles travelled by 'parties', subsidiary transport, catering, additional electrical generation to support the circus etc., etc. and you come with a very impressive greenhouse emission budget all for the sake of these 'parties' gathering to emit hot air about, well... hot air.

"Apocalyptics for Gore" - "As the presidential campaign enters the final stretch — and Vice President Al Gore grows more desperate to edge out George W. Bush — various "October Surprises" can be expected. One surprise showed up Thursday, when the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Global Climate Change (IPCC) released a new report "confirming" humanity's impact on "global warming" — a favorite topic of Mr. Gore's." (Washington Times)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT #37" - "Every five years, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assesses the state of global warming science. And every five years, The New York Times publishes dramatic revelations from a draft copy of the report slipped to them before the peer review process is complete. This year’s newspaper storyline says the United Nations has dramatically increased the upper limit of its forecast of this century’s climate change from 4.5°C to 6.0°C. This largely is based on illogical scenarios generated by the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University." (GES)

"Professor warns of 'greenhouse politics'" - "A Welsh physics professor has warned that global warming will "dominate world politics" if action is not taken by governments soon." (BBC Online)

I sincerely hope the professor was wildly misquoted:

"Dr Phil Williams said evidence of global warming and and holes appearing at the North Pole should be enough to prompt world leaders to respond."

New York Times retracted in great embarrassment when it emerged that open water in the Artic is normal during summer, when 24 hour sunlight can push air temperatures into the +40°F - +50°F range for months on end. As Captain Dave Hearding, Director for Operations of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet reports: "As submariners know who have been going to the Arctic and NP since 1959, during the summer we expect to find open water at or near the pole – we use the Russian word polynya to describe it – and we look for these areas to surface more easily..."

"The Greening of the American West" featuring CRAIG D. IDSO, FREDRICK D. PALMER, BECKY NORTON DUNLOP will be web telecast 10:00 a.m. EDT, October 30. (The Heritage Foundation) THF is also asking you to Help Stop a Global Tax Hike

"Environmental Minister criticized for holding back information" - "Environmental Minister Siri Bjerke has been criticized for withholding vital information about the CO2 effects on the environment by the planned Norwegian gas fired power plants, Dagbladet reports. Statistics Norway (SSB), which was contracted by the Government to evaluate the possible effects on the environment by the gas powered plants, claims that Bjerke only presented the information favourable to the Government's point of view." (Norway Post)

"HALLOWEEN 13" Global Warming Horror Movies - "What makes a horror movie so terrifying? It's not just the plotline, script and score. It’s being in a dark theater with hundreds of other people who are just waiting to be scared half to death. It's the audience’s willingness to suspend logic, and enter the producer’s make-believe world. But perhaps most of all, it’s the incredible special effects – the incendiary power of Carrie, the horrifying monsters of Aliens, the rampant destruction of Independence Day. Modern effects masters practically convince us it’s all REAL. So it is with the supposed apocalypse of global warming. Aided by clever box office promotion and friendly media, alarmists have marshaled enough science, junk science and scary scenarios, to craft a persuasive horror story." (Paul K. Driessen, Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Prepare Now for Next El Nino, Says UN/NCAR Study" - "BOULDER, CO — Now is the time for vulnerable countries around the globe to begin preparing for the next El Nino, according to a United Nations (UN) preliminary report issued today. The report presents the results of a 19-month study of 16 countries that examined what worked and what didn't in national responses to the forecasts and impacts of the 1997-98 El Nino. Dubbed the "El Nino of the Century," that event's worldwide impacts took hundreds of lives and left behind at least $32
billion in damages. The report suggests ways to improve societal responses to extreme climate events." (UCAR)

Yesterday, as a lead for an ozone depletion item, I facetiously ran: "Green Party Rival Mocks Feinstein" - "Radio commercial lays blame for hole in ozone layer on her hair spray." (San Francisco Chronicle) There has been some concern expressed that people may believe terrible Americans are irresponsibly using CFC-propelled hairspray. In fact, CFCs haven't been used in American aerosol propellants for decades. Here's an old CAPCO release with info and further links.

"Gore goes Green" - "Oct. 27, 2000 | DAVENPORT, Iowa -- As if the Earth's poor ozone layer weren't threatened enough from greenhouse gases, Vice President Al Gore released his own special brand of hot air into the atmosphere Thursday. Bashed by the left as being too willing to compromise on the environment and by the right for being a tree-hugger, Gore is launching a "practical," New Democrat, Greenish assault, defending his environmental record from the threat posed by Green Party candidate Ralph Nader and spewing forth further emissions on Gov. George W. Bush's horrendous Texas environmental record." (Salon.com)

"Utah attorneys awarded $64.85 million in tobacco fees" - "NEW YORK -- Attorneys representing the state of Utah in the 1998 states settlement with the tobacco industry will be paid $64.85 million in compensation fees by the tobacco companies, the Tobacco Fee Arbitration Panel said Wednesday. The fees are separate from the $1 billion Utah will receive over the next 25 years from the settlement and any additional payments in perpetuity, the panel said in a statement." (Reuters) [States Share Blame for Tobacco Lawyers' Greed]

"Eco-Friendly Firm Wasn't Seen as Toxic Threat" - "RICHMOND -- The latest industrial explosion and fire to billow toxic fumes over Richmond neighborhoods came from an unlikely source: a recycling plant recently awarded for keeping tons of plastic out of landfills. ``It was considered a green business,'' said Richmond Mayor Rosemary Corbin. ``It was not on anybody's radar as a potential threat." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"SOLUTION TO OUR LATEST ENERGY CRISIS" - "Soaring gasoline prices at the pump, natural gas prices rising with winter approaching, electricity customers burning utility bills in California--feel like you've seen this movie before? Some say these shocks may add up to an energy crisis that rivals those of 1991, 1978 and 1973. Once again, surging oil prices get top billing, but there's an additional story line this time. The cost of natural gas has doubled this year and newly deregulated electricity markets in California and New York have suffered supply shortages and sharp price volatility. If it's not yet a crisis, it's certainly a problem. The solution? We need a national energy policy that capitalizes on all the natural resources that are abundant in the U.S." (Chicago Tribune)

"Sara Lee Says Customers Not Concerned Over GMO Foods" (Summary) - "According to Reuters, Sara Lee's president and CEO, C. Steven McMillan, said at a news conference following the company's annual meeting. "We do not get questions or complaints or concerns from GMO foods at all." According to the company, US. consumers do not seem concerned about the use of bioengineered ingredients in food, despite recalls related to a certain strain of gene-spliced corn." (TKC)

"Lives depend on GE drugs" - "Saying 'no' to gene technology could be deadly for some disease sufferers, medical researchers told the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification this week. ANNE BESTON reports. People with serious illnesses, from diabetics to leukaemia sufferers, rely on genetically modified drugs to keep them alive, the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification was told this week." (NZ Herald)

"FDA plans to ban poultry antibiotics" - "WASHINGTON (October 27, 2000 2:00 p.m. EDT http://www.nandotimes.com) - The Food and Drug Administration is planning to ban two antibiotics widely used by poultry farmers because of a risk that humans could become infected with germs that resist treatment. It would be the first time the government has pulled any drug to combat infections that have grown resistant to antibiotics." (AP)

"The danger of being too careful" - "... Everyone knows that life is risky and that we constantly take risks that affect both ourselves and others. We also know that scientific development can be risky and that rail accidents do occur. But, because of BSE and the spate of recent rail tragedies, the public is increasingly demanding risk-free solutions from state regulations. Understandably, this is particularly the case in areas over which the public has no control. Yet there are two obvious dangers in such an approach." (Financial Times)

"High fat diet not associated with increased estrogen in postmenopausal women" - "There’s no evidence that a high fat diet predisposes older women to breast cancer, researchers from Harvard Medical School report. It has long been thought that dietary fat can increase production of sex hormones, including estrogen, which could put women at risk for breast cancer, especially older women. But this study of 381 postmenopausal women – the largest and most detailed of its kind – found just the opposite. The researchers found that women in the study who ate less fat than typical actually had higher levels of estrogen in their blood, making it unlikely that eating a low fat diet will lead to lower levels of estrogen." (ASCO)

"Herbal remedy combats prostate cancer" - "A herbal remedy has been shown to provide real benefit to men suffering from prostate cancer. Researchers from the University of California in San Francisco tested the impact of the Chinese preparation known as Pc-spes. Pc-spes consists of extracts from eight different Chinese herbs and is sold in health food stores. Pc stands for prostate cancer, while spes is Latin for "hope"." (BBC Online) [UCSF release]

"Villagers' mobile mast pledge" - "Angry villagers in Perthshire say they will continue their occupation a planned mobile phone mast site next to a primary school until BT "come to their senses". (BBC Online) [The Cell-Phone Scare - "When fear is the opponent, science doesn't stand a chance"]

"Warning: you're risking death by being alive" - "IT was the kiss that did it. Not Al Gore's smooch, but the headlines this week saying: "Cot death linked to kisses from mothers". I kiss my baby 20 times a day: now a doctor says that there is "substantial evidence" that bugs in saliva play a part in cot death. So I could be poisoning my child 20 times a day. It's amazing more babies don't die. Or perhaps other mothers aren't so stupid as to kiss their sons without first sterilising their mouths." (Daily Telegraph)

"The lesson of BSE" - "BSE has caused a harrowing fatal disease for humans. As we sign this Report the number of people dead and thought to be dying stands at over 80, most of them young. They and their families have suffered terribly. Families all over the UK have been left wondering whether the same fate awaits them." So begins the 16 volume report by Lord Phillips on the handling of the BSE / vCJD issue - the 'crisis' which has led to deep suspicions about the food we eat and to a loss of faith in the scientists and government officials who are responsible for advising us about health risks." (Social Issues Research Centre)

"Study: Oregon River Water Causing Fish Deformities" - "PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) - Deformed fish found for years in a stretch of Oregon's Willamette River were damaged by something in the water, not by genetic defects as had previously been believed, according to a new study released on Friday. Scientists, who called their findings "shocking," said they were working to determine the exact cause of the problem, and investigating whether there were health risks associated with eating the deformed fish found in a 30-mile section of the river. "It could be chemical, bacterial, parasites, high river temperature, low oxygen levels, a variety of things," said Steve Ellis, a scientist with EVS Environment Consultants, the Seattle-based firm that conducted the study." (Reuters)

"Constructed wetlands: They’re being used, but are they useful" - "The place for constructed wetlands in the wastewater industry—granted there is one—is in small communities, trailer parks, and cul-de-sacs—places where it's difficult to tie into wastewater pipes." (Pollution Online)

"Can't Lose Marketing Scheme" - "Greenpeace UK president Peter Melchett has decided that since most of the English public is now terrified of genetically improved foods because of Greenpeace's activism, it is in his best interest to step down as Greenpeace president. Melchett is planning to capitalize on the fear he's created by selling the public organic foods from his farm." (GuestChoice.com)

"Globalization: Can there ever be too much of a good thing?" - "Capitalism is so powerful an organizing principle of economic and political life that its expansion to global dimensions has many people flummoxed. Street battles and academic cat fights break out like the flu whenever globalization comes into the limelight, as we saw again this week in Montreal. There are many issues in dispute, but one thing is surprisingly not: Just about every protagonist in the globalization debate shares the same orientation -- they want more globalization rather than less. The struggle is over just what kind." (GAM)

"Of boiling frogs and globaloney" - "For its opponents, "globalization" is a bogeyman term. The mythology -- that is, the collection of misperceptions -- that surrounds it has been the subject of two recent significant lectures. Last Monday, in Toronto, Professor John Helliwell of the University of British Columbia gave the C.D. Howe Benefactors Lecture on "Globalization: Myths, Facts, and Consequences." Earlier this month, in London, David Henderson, former chief economist for the OECD, delivered the Wincott lecture, "Anti-Liberalism 2000." The difference in the approach of the two papers is stark. From the perspective of Mr. Henderson, Prof. Helliwell appears to promote more myths than he explodes." (National Post) [Trade Winds]

"It's Clinton to the rescue as Gore struggles" - "AFTER months watching his constant companion struggle in the electoral tide, President Clinton has finally slipped his leash and will bound to Al Gore's rescue next week." (Telegraph) [Henry Payne comment]

"Micro Scooter injuries soar" - "The growing craze for Micro Scooters is generating an increasingly serious public health problem. Latest figures from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission show that the number of Americans seriously injured while riding Micro Scooters has risen 15-fold since the spring." (BBC Online)

Has the number of Micro Scooters risen by a similar amount or has there been a disproportionate rise in injuries?

October 27, 2000

New York Times, World Wildlife Fund ad steers kids to telephone sex - "The New York Times should take action immediately to withdraw a paid advertisement on its op-ed page from the World Wildlife Fund that directs callers to a "telephone sex" phone number, according to Jeff Stier of the American Council on Science and Health and Steven Milloy of Junkscience.com. Stier and Milloy call on the Times to issue an immediate apology and assure the public that such an error won't recur." (PR Newswire)

PR Newswire refused to issue our media release with the phone numbers, so here they are. The number in the ad is 1-800 End-POPs (1-800-363-7677). That number will steer you to 1-800-400-TALK (1-800-400-8255) -- the telephone sex number.

"Plutonium Pandemonium" - "Anti-nuclear activists are pleased the plans to send a deep-space probe to explore Pluto have been shelved for now. To their horror, though, the Pluto-Kuiper Express has been sent back to the drawing board for the "wrong" reason -- cost instead of safety. But the activists are lucky the mission’s cost is so high. Their alleged safety concerns won’t make it off the launch pad." (Steve Milloy at FoxNews.com)

"Biotech treats or treats" - "Anti-biotech activists are urging their followers to take advantage of Halloween to spread fear about biotech foods. The tactic advocated is so-called "viral marketing" -- inducing Internet users to pass on false and misleading "marketing" messages to other web sites and users, creating exponential growth in the messages' visibility and effect. The message in this case is fear, not facts." (Steve Milloy in the Washington Times).

"The CMA's journal promotes environmental cancer scares" - "After nearly 40 years of hysteria, I'm still waiting for scientific evidence that any percentage of cancers are related to the environment." (Steven Milloy in the National Post)

"West pays Russia to close ozone destroying plants" - "MOSCOW - Russian enterprises which have almost half the world's remaining capacity to produce ozone depleting substances are to be closed using money from the World Bank and Western governments, the World Bank said yesterday." (Reuters)

"Green Party Rival Mocks Feinstein" - "Radio commercial lays blame for hole in ozone layer on her hair spray." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Arctic ozone damage 'likely by 2020'" - "One of the three British scientists who discovered the Antarctic ozone hole says similar damage is likely soon in the Arctic. The scientist, Jonathan Shanklin, says the Earth's ozone layer is cooling, which makes its recovery more difficult. The cooling is the result partly of ozone loss itself, and also of a little-noticed effect of global warming." (BBC Online)

Stratospheric cooling would be consistent with ozone loss because ozone is a greenhouse gas in its own right, it has a narrow absorption band right in the middle of the main radiation window between 9 and 11 microns. Certainly cooling is evident in the global stratospheric anomaly chart - perhaps the upper atmosphere is too clean because the obvious warming events are the result of the El Chichon and Mt Pinatubo volcanic eruptions. Not that this is definitive because, prior to the El Niño- induced heat spike, the tropospheric temperature trend was also negative, albeit slightly.

Back in April we had THESEO 2000 (Third European Stratospheric Experiment on Ozone) releases like this, which hit the mass media on the 6th & 7th. THESEO's lead of 60% ozone depletion in the Arctic (due to 'exceptionally cold conditions' and 'a lack of atmospheric disturbances') was dutifully trumpeted by the media and few bothered to look at EP/TOMS graphics, where they would have seen this on the 6th - total columnar ozone in the "hole" significantly higher than two-thirds of the planet (UVI on the 5th). Just a quirk? Maybe not - here's the 1st (UVI) and here's a week earlier still (UVI). Certainly appears to be a lot more atmospheric ozone in the northern hemisphere during the "depletion" than there is in the southern hemisphere "normal" autumn.

The significance is always in surface UV strength rather than columnar ozone levels and you can see the latest UVI (UltraViolet Index) estimate here. If your bandwidth can stand it, here's the year to date animation - good luck to you in picking any increase in UV radiation levels in the northern hemisphere during the much-hyped "depletion". As for the "huge" southern depletion event of this year, for a day or so, Punta Arenas (Chile) received similar UV radiation as might be expected in the temperate zone in spring or autumn - big deal. According to Ozone Al, this will lead to 'blind Patagonian Sheep' and 'blind rabbits in our backyards' - sure Al.

"Climate change, fishing, alter salmon abundance" - "FAIRBANKS, Alaska-- Clues left by decaying salmon at the bottom of five Alaska lakes point to climate change and over-fishing as two causes of the state's boom and bust salmon runs, according to a study by Alaskan and Canadian researchers published today (October 27) in the journal, Science. "The lakes we studied on Kodiak Island and near Bristol Bay often had similar patterns of salmon abundance that corresponded to climate changes over the last three centuries," said Dr. Bruce Finney, the study's lead researcher and associate professor of marine science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Institute of Marine Science. "That's consistent with the belief that climatic and oceanographic changes are driving the sockeye populations up and down in sync over decades-long time scales." ... Scientists then were able to link abrupt changes in the size of sockeye runs with large-scale climate shifts in the North Pacific Ocean, as indicated by sea surface temperature records and tree ring analysis. In general, sockeye runs were larger during periods of warm climates, and smaller during cold periods." (NSGCP release) [NOAA release]

"Gore to Take Global Warming Message to Upper Midwest" - "KANSAS CITY - Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore on Thursday will take an environmental message to the Upper Midwest, warning of global warming dangers in an area where Green Party candidate Ralph Nader may be a threat. Gore will give speeches on global warming in the Quad Cities area of Iowa and Illinois and later in Madison, Wisconsin. He is expected to compare his work to fight global warming against what his campaign said was Republican rival George W. Bush's lack of interest in the issue." (Reuters)

"Another Gore Whopper" - "In one of the most preposterous claims of the political season, Vice-President Al Gore this week declared himself the candidate of smaller government and pledged not to add a single worker to the federal payroll if elected president. Mr. Gore has committed to $1.3 trillion in new federal spending during the next decade, an average of $130 billion a year. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, estimates Mr. Gore’s proposals would add a minimum of 200,000 new workers to the current 2.7 million federal workforce. But even if he can launch all his new government programs without adding government employees, that’s not really the point. It’s not how many people government employs that’s important. It’s how much government spends." (Detroit News)

"Gore attacks Bush on global warming, environment" - "DAVENPORT, Iowa - Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore accused Republican rival George W. Bush yesterday of ignoring the dangers of global warming as he took an environmental message to the Midwest." (Reuters)

"Warming will ruin economies, report says" - "Global warming could cause a massive economic decline across at least 13 tiny Pacific nations in the next 20 years, a new Greenpeace report forecasts. The report, due to be released officially today, warns that if global warming continues as predicted by United Nations carbon dioxide emission modelling, the Pacific will lose most of its coral reefs before the end of this century." (The Age)

No - but Kyoto sure will.

"The Record: Just How Green is Gore?" - "October 26 —  Al Gore has written the book on environmental issues—literally. His 1992 best-seller “Earth in the Balance,” reissued this April with a new foreword, was a 400-plus page paean on environmental action and served as a public signal of Gore’s dedication to his signature cause. It’s a topic Gore continues to talk about." (Newsweek) [October surprise?] [The NY Times, however, is a little unhappy: Mr. Nader's Electoral Mischief] [Nader, Facing Democratic Fire, Attacks Gore's Record]

"REALLY SORE LOSERS" - "Are American voters just too dumb to choose the best man for president? Al Gore's supporters apparently think so. With George W. Bush now leading in most polls of likely voters, the liberal establishment has come up with an explanation. "If [Gore] loses," The New Republic sniffs, "it will not simply set America on an ideological course that we consider perilous and unworthy of our best traditions. It will be a sign that we are not living in a serious age." That's right. If the voters prefer Bush's vision to Gore's, there must be something wrong with the voters." (Linda Chavez in The Chicago Tribune)

"Report Finds Kids Safer at School" - "WASHINGTON — Despite recent headline-making occurrences of school violence, the number of such incidents is falling and children are more likely to be hurt off-campus, the government reported Thursday. ``America's schools are safe places,'' said Attorney General Janet Reno, releasing the report by the Education and Justice departments. It said schoolchildren are twice as likely to be victims of serious violent crime away from school." (AP)

"Officials Scramble to Limit Biotech Corn Fallout" - WASHINGTON - The White House called a meeting of top biotech food policymakers on Thursday to work out a strategy to address Japan's concerns about the possibility of its imported U.S. grain being contaminated with a gene-spliced corn not approved for human food." (Reuters)

"Internet plays healthy role in managing StarLink concerns" - "The Internet is playing a major role in getting out information on StarLink corn concerns -- and this information should be adequate to prevent the kind of consumer panic which set in across Europe and Britain in earlier food scares, or in the U.S. when advocacy groups sought to trigger a scare over Alar in apples or pesticides on grapes. For example, anyone can read the Aventis data which documents that the possibility of an allergic reaction to this particular kind of Cry9C protein is virtually nil. Just follow the link for the complete application which was hand-delivered Oct. 24 to EPA." (AgWeb.com)

"Regulators Are Urged to Permit Bioengineered Corn to Be in Food" - "The food and biotechnology industries are stepping up pressure on U.S. regulators to permit the use of an unapproved variety of genetically modified corn in food as the corn is being discovered in more and more products. The U.S. food industry, upset over the product recalls and production disruptions caused by the Starlink corn debacle, wants the Environment Protection Agency to temporarily allow the sale of food containing the genetically modified corn, which was approved in 1998 for consumption by only livestock and for making ethanol fuel. ``We think this is a solution that makes sense,`` said Gene Grabowski, a spokesman for Grocery Manufacturers of America, an industry trade group." (WSJ)

"EPA Has Learned Their Lesson re: StarLink Corn" - "The Senate Biotech Caucus held a hearing today to find out what regulators were doing to resolve the issues surrounding the StarLink corn situation. From what an EPA representative told the panel, it appears the agency has learned their lesson. The rep said the agency is unlikely to approve another crop such as StarLink corn for use as animal feed but not for human consumption." (AgWeb.com)

"Inquiry rejects outright belief that disease is 'sheep scrapie in cattle'" - "One of the most intriguing aspects of the Phillips inquiry is that it throws open the question about the exact origin of BSE and why Britain should have been so badly affected. Lord Phillips said that the investigation had rejected the view of the scientific establishment, which for years had proposed that the disease was, in effect, sheep scrapie in cattle." (Independent) [Report on UK's 'mad cow' epidemic clears ex-ministers] [Government urged 'to listen' to experts]

"£500m-a-year green fuel fund sought" - "Chancellor Gordon Brown is under pressure to create a Green Fuel Fund of £500 million a year to protect the climate and human health by promoting alternatives to oil. The call comes from Greenpeace and the RAC Foundation which want the fund to promote the use of road fuel gases, increase the use of electric vehicles and start work on a hydrogen distribution system." (Ananova)

"Calif. consumer group backs Silicon Valley power unit" - "SAN FRANCISCO - A California consumer group, often at odds with the state's electricity industry, has endorsed a controversial 600-megawatt (MW) generation plant to be built in power-starved San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley, the group said late Wednesday. San Francisco-based The Utility Reform Network (TURN) endorsed the proposed natural gas-fired Metcalf Energy Centre in a letter to state regulators, saying it believed the power plant would help avert blackouts and ease power prices in the state." (Reuters)

Consumers realise silicon technology is driven by "lectrickery" - imagine that...

"German power law may be illegal - EU court adviser" - "BRUSSELS - A German law requiring power firms to use a minimum amount of energy produced from renewable sources does not break state aid rules but may undermine the European Union's single market, an adviser to the bloc's top court said yesterday." (Reuters)

"Melchett quits Greenpeace to spend more time with his crops" - "Lord Melchett, executive director of Greenpeace UK for the past 12 years, is to leave it to concentrate on running his organic farm. The 52-year-old peer is leaving at the point when his recent court acquittal after leading a raid to destroy genetically modified (GM) crops had given him the highest profile of any British environmental campaigner since Sir Jonathon Porritt quit as director of Friends of the Earth 10 years ago. His retirement will leave a gap in green politics that will not easily be filled. Greenpeace staff were shocked when told the news yesterday at their headquarters in London." [Melchett's parting shot: 'Keep whacking them'] (Independent)

"Greenpeace accused of dioxin blunder" - "Greenpeace is being accused of making a blunder by identifying Tauranga Hospital as a source of dangerous dioxin pollution. Campaigners from the environmental group have been in the Bay of Plenty talking about the dioxin issue - and have identified a number of polluters in the region. Greenpeace claims the hospital's incinerators have been producing dioxins from the burning of medical waste." (NZ Herald)

Uh... there are no incinerators at Tauranga Hospital - haven't been for a few years.

"Threat of Unconventional Terrorism Is Overstated, Study Says" - "The threat of terrorism involving chemical and germ weapons has been highly exaggerated, and much of the federal government's response to this small, but growing challenge is wasteful and ill-conceived, according to a new study of the administration's domestic emergency preparedness programs by a Washington-based research center." (NY Times) [UniSci]

"Where There's Smoke, There's Fire" - "Fenton Communications, the firm behind the thoroughly debunked Alar scare and other "fear marketing" campaigns, is continuing its campaign to limit what types of seafood you can eat. Its first attempt was to (needlessly, according to the government) limit swordfish consumption, a campaign run through SeaWeb with help from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Chefs Collaborative. Fenton's new anti-choice campaign is being run directly through Chefs Collaborative with help from Environmental Defense." (GuestChoice.com, Oct 26)

"I can't remember the brain injury, but somehow I gained weight" - "Scientists who research obesity have reached a depressing new conclusion about being fat. Our brains regulate how much we weigh. Dieting has far less to do with whether we walk around in roomy pants than hormonally influenced brain chemistry. I noted this (rather morosely) in last week's New York Times. According to Dr. Jeffrey Flier of Beth Israel Medical Center in Boston, the body maintains a certain weight range entirely of its own devising, with no respect whatsoever for beauty ideals, and it keeps us within that range by regulating our appetite." (Patricia Pearson, National Post)

"Long Flights Do Not Increase Blood Clot Risk-Study" - "LONDON - International airlines have come under pressure to do more to prevent passengers from developing blood clots due to cramped conditions, but Dutch researchers said long-haul flights did not increase the risk of clots occurring. The potentially fatal "economy class syndrome" -- blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) -- hit the headlines earlier this week after a 28-year-old British woman died from the condition at the end of a 20-hour flight from Australia." (Reuters)

"Folic acid message 'unheeded'" - "Many women are still unaware that taking folic acid during pregnancy can help to minimise the risk of birth defects, researchers have found. Folic acid has been proven to help prevent neural tube defects in unborn babies, including spina bifida. ... However, a Mori survey for the charity Action Research found that one in five women of childbearing age was completely unaware of the potential health benefits of folic acid." (BBC Online) [Vitamin Against Birth Defects Reaching U.S. Women]

"Lawsuit reactivated over 'Kennewick Man' skeleton" - "PORTLAND, Ore. (October 25, 2000 7:41 p.m. EDT http://www.nandotimes.com) - A federal judge, setting in motion a case that could redefine the term "Native American," is allowing a lawsuit to proceed over one of the oldest and most complete human skeletons ever found in North America. U.S. Magistrate John Jelderks on Wednesday reactivated a 1996 lawsuit by scientists who want to continue studying Kennewick Man, a set of 9,000-year-old bones that have already forced anthropologists to rethink theories about the origin of Native Americans. Five American Indian tribes have claimed him as an ancestor, and have said study of the bones would violate their religious traditions." (AP)

"Beautiful people 'ruin' lives" - "Beautiful people are ruining others' chances of happiness." (BBC Online)

"Green rating of Singapore flawed: ENV" - "World Wide Fund for Nature ranking overlooked fact that many imports here are re-exported, ministry says" (Straits Times)

October 26, 2000

Pre-COP6 hype of the day: "Pollution Adds To Global Warming" - "WASHINGTON — New evidence shows man-made pollution has ``contributed substantially'' to global warming and the earth is likely to get a lot hotter than previously predicted, a United Nations-sponsored panel of hundreds of scientists finds. The conclusions by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the most authoritative scientific voice on the issue, is expected to widely influence climate debate over the next decade. The report's summary, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, was being distributed to government officials worldwide this week." (AP) [MSNBC]

This is about the political summary, not TAR 2000 (Third Assessment Report) - and that was not treated too kindly by sceptic scientists either. From this report:

David Wojick, who chaired one of the panels, sums up the event saying "if these scientists are right, then the IPCC's errors and omissions are disgraceful." He notes that the 1000 page TAR itself, at the very end, says "In sum, a strategy must recognize what is possible. In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-liner chaotic system, and therefore that the prediction of a specific future climate state is not possible." Wojick quips that - "The IPCC should read its own last chapter."

"El Nino Less Frequent in Mid-1800s" - "A study of coral reefs suggests El Nino occurs more frequently now than it did in the mid-19th century, before global warming. Exactly what role, if any, is played by global warming is still unclear, however. The study of core samples taken from coral reefs dating to 1840 indicates El Nino happened only about once every 10 years in the mid-1800s, compared with about once every four years now. But there was also evidence of cycles as short as three years from the late 1800s to about 1920. The cycles settled into their current pattern around 1955." (AP) [Reuters] [BBC Online]

The SAPA-AFP item carried by News 24 concludes that the faster ENSO cycle rate of the early 20th century (prior to significant atmospheric CO2 change) and the subsequent cycle slowing as Earth temperatures ceased their decline around 1975 (although all other reports say the observed cycle slowing occurred in the 50s), is indicative that enhanced greenhouse increases El Niño event frequency. Interesting hypothesis but totally unsupported by the UC study about which they write. Nick Nutter in The Times ran a similar line, with ozone depletion thrown in for good measure.

See also: Recent Strong El Niños Nothing New; In Search of Past El Niños; El Niños and Global Warming; A 1400-Year Record of ENSO Variability; A 300-Year Examination of "Persistent" ENSO Events

"Predictions of dying reef rejected" - "Australia's reef management body has rejected a report which claims the Great Barrier Reef could be dead in 50 to 100 years. Queensland Professor, Ove Hoegh-Guldburg, raised the theory at an international symposium on coral reefs being held this week in Bali. Speaking from the conference, the head of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Virginia Chadwick, said she has great respect for the professor, but can not accept his prediction. "It is true that we have had some global warming, we have some coral bleaching and some hot spots a couple of years ago, that was not widespread, and, though it is a cause for concern for us all, I genuinely do not believe that in 50 years all of the reef will be dead," she said." (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

"Pollution drives increase in rainfall" - "Air pollution is distorting weather patterns across the world and could be causing increased rainfall in Victoria and some other parts of Australia, according to a computer model developed by the CSIRO. Dr Leon Rotstayn, a climate researcher at the CSIRO's Aspendale laboratory, said yesterday that fuel fumes and forest burning over the past century had enlarged clouds and changed world rain patterns." (The Age) [CSIRO release]

"Scientists slam Indonesia" - "NUSA DUA, Indonesia (AP) -- Half of the once vast coral reefs that surrounded the world's largest archipelago have been lost and international aid is needed to save the rest, Indonesia said Tuesday. ... Kusmaatmadja told hundreds of scientists at an international coral reef symposium said that many reefs had been devastated by poor fishing practices, including the use of explosives and poisons. However, industrialized countries must also accept responsibility for damage caused by global warming, he said." (AP)

"Expert claims diet may prevent Alzheimer's" - "A visiting United States authority on Alzheimer's disease says consuming less fat and more fruit and vegetables might help in reducing the instance of the disease. Professor George Perry from Case Western Reserve University says some studies have shown a link between caloric intake and Alzheimer's. Professor Perry says with the rapid ageing of the population, 30 per cent of the population will experience some form of Alzheimer's. He says early signs of the disease are apparent for many years and there are steps people can take to prevent the onset of the disease, such as having anti-depressants in their diet. "Taking anti-inflammatories, like an aspirin a day, can have a major effect in decreasing Alzheimer's disease as well as most age-related diseases," he said." (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Quite topically, in a section of Michael Fumento's forthcoming book where he is looking at anti-inflammatories and cancer prevention, Fumento notes: "Many people can't tolerate this because to varying degrees all of these chew up the stomach lining, causing discomfort at the least and bleeding ulcers at the worst. A New England Journal of Medicine study found that over 16,000 Americans die each year from ulcers caused by traditional pain relievers, while 107,000 are hospitalized. So people were left with a choice: terrible aching and stiffness or a stomach that ends up like Shredded Wheat." Fortunately, biotechnology looks like coming to the rescue with anti-inflammatories which are not anti-stomach lining. I look forward to that and Michael's completed tome.

"Uninformation and the choice paradox" - "One of the few unifying features of the genetic food fight in industrial nations is that a majority of consumers appear to support mandatory labeling for products of genetic modification (GM) technology. Proponents of mandatory and indiscriminate GM food labeling congregate under the banner of "informed choice." They argue that if DNA is introduced into foods using recombinant DNA technologies, people ought to be able to know about it. Unfortunately, the problem with mandatory GM labels is that they inform no one and they diminish consumer choice." (Nature Biotechnology)

"Concerns Over Biotech Corn Spread Overseas" - "Concern is growing that genetically modified corn not approved for human consumption has made it not only into the American food supply, but also into products being sold abroad." (Washington Post)

"Seconds out, round two" - "IF YOU live in Europe it is easy to believe that genetically modified crops are finished. Skilful media campaigns by activist groups have made these "frankenfoods" about as popular as nuclear power stations. Supermarkets and restaurants proudly announce themselves "GM free" and protestors trample fields of test plantings of modified crops with impunity. In North America too, despite earlier acceptance, a backlash is under way. With GM crops on the ropes, it seems a strange time to announce that they could have a really bright long-term future. But if you read the signs, honestly assess the world's future food needs, and look at the safer, greener, genetically modified crops we could produce, then the conclusion is exactly that." (New Scientist editorial)

"Make them safe" - "The Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) has issued a set of guidelines telling companies how to use the latest advances in biotechnology to minimise any risks of gene flow--the first time a regulatory body has offered such advice. "We're not saying that they are unsafe," says Brian Johnson of the government conservation body English Nature, a member of ACRE. "We're saying, yes, you could reduce the risks even further, especially the risks to biodiversity." (New Scientist) [More at: www.environment.detr.gov.uk/acre/bestprac/index.htm]

"The next revolution" - "OF ALL the emerging technologies that could be used to improve the safety of genetically modified crops (see opposite), perhaps the most promising is one that would let crops clone themselves, as many wild plants do already. This phenomenon, called apomixis, could not only slam the door on accidental gene transfer, it could also benefit farmers--especially the poorest ones--because they could save seeds each year from the same elite plants and replant them." (New Scientist)

"GEO debate ignores science" - "PUBLIC debate on genetically engineered organisms ignored science, because no scientific evidence existed that gene technology in food had any adverse effects, an international biotechnology company says. And resistance to gene technology was primarily coming from affluent countries. Giving evidence to the Tasmanian select committee on gene technology, Pioneer Seeds, a United States biotechnology company, said science had been largely forgotten in the political, ethical and social debate about genetically engineered or modified organisms." (Mercury)

"Parents can transmit SIDS-linked germ: study" - "A team of British researchers has raised alarm by suggesting parents can transmit an infection linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome by kissing their babies." (National Post)

"Cot deaths: who do we listen to?" - "Experts have many theories about infant deaths. But are they any closer to finding a cause?" (Independent)

"West Nile Virus Passed Between Birds in Lab Study" - "WASHINGTON - The West Nile virus passed from bird to bird in a laboratory test, a finding that raised new questions about how the virus spreads in the wild, scientists said Wednesday. Researchers had thought the virus, which has killed eight people in the United States, was transmitted only through mosquito bites." (Reuters)

"West Nile virus, and pesticides, in U.S. to stay" - "As the mosquito-borne West Nile virus spreads down the East Coast of the United States, so has public concern over the use of pesticides intended to control the infected pests. Possible health hazards of exposure to pesticides include nausea, dizziness, skin irritation and breathing difficulties. Over the long term, some pesticides may increase a person's risk of developing cancer or hormonal problems, said Jay Feldman of Beyond Pesticides/ National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides in Washington." (UPI)

"Resistance is useful" - "Mosquitoes resistant to insecticides might turn out to be friends, not foes, in the war against killer diseases such as malaria and yellow fever. Researchers have turned received wisdom on its head with their discovery that resistant mosquitoes are the least likely to transmit disease when they bite someone." (New Scientist)

"Politicians Foil DHMO Legislation" - "During this election year in the United States, and even moreso as the election grows near, politicians are avoiding dealing with difficult DHMO legislation. Several theories ranging from the influence of big oil to the "special interests" abound, but recently new evidence has come to light." (DHMO.org)

"Organic farmers 'can't meet soaring demand'" - "Farmers in Britain cannot keep up with demand for organic food, MPs were told yesterday. In many cases, they can produce only small quantities, which in turn cost more to transport to the few plants certified to process chemical-free food." (Independent)

"Japanese Heart-Disease Study Focuses on Iron Role" - "WASHINGTON - Japanese researchers said on Wednesday they may have figured out why high iron levels in the blood are linked with heart disease, and it may all boil down to rust." (Reuters)

"Human Form of Mad Cow Disease Mystifies Doctors" - "LONDON - More than four years after British scientists discovered a link between "mad cow" disease (BSE) and its human equivalent, doctors are still mystified by the illness for which there is no treatment or cure." (Reuters)

"Disease and uncertainty" - "Doctor downplays fears that patient has 'mad cow'" (Boston Globe)

"PM’s attempt to cultivate Green vote is doomed to wither under GM onslaught" - "ONE in five Scots are members of environmental or conservation groups. And you’d have to live in a test tube to avoid the effect of green issues. Traffic snarl-ups and poor public transport, the availability of GM-free food, the cost of organic produce, the dramatic effects of global warming and poor air quality all come under the heading of environment policy. So it seems surprising that Tony Blair has taken more than three years to make his first major speech on such a crucial, vote-winning subject as the environment." (Scotsman) [Blair unveils 100 mln pound battle against global warming]

"GOP: Green group broke law" - "The state Republican party filed a complaint Tuesday with the Alaska Public Offices Commission accusing a conservation group of giving too much money to a political candidate and raising a broader question about the source of the group's funds. Republican Party of Alaska chairman Randy Ruedrich said the Alaska Conservation Voters has funneled more than $100,000 from its general operating account into its political account since May without saying where that money was raised. He said that violates the spirit, if not the letter, of campaign reform laws requiring disclosure of campaign contributions. "Where's the money coming from? Who knows? We believe the source of these funds to be the out of state environmental extremist groups, including Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund," Ruedrich wrote in his complaint." (Anchorage Daily News)

"Cheney discusses alternative fuel" - "Talking up alternative energy sources is classic Al Gore, but Dick Cheney took up the cause Tuesday in Washington state, where environmental concerns could be an election key." (AP)

"Blair defends his decision to raise duty on petrol" - "Tony Blair yesterday denied it had been a mistake to raise petrol duties earlier this year, stressing the need for sustained investment in public transport." (Independent)

"Turning the hose on gas price myths" - "Yesterday the Conference Board of Canada released its draft discussion paper on the workings of the gasoline business. There doesn't appear to be much to discuss. As with many other studies, the board's research has found that gasoline retailing is fiercely competitive, and that gouging is a myth." (National Post)

"Conservatives worry Bush is too green - "If Republicans awake on Nov. 8 to find they have reclaimed the White House, they will feel joy and relief. Their next sensation, however, is likely to be one of apprehension." (Thomas J Bray, Detroit News)

"Get Bush's Environment Record Straight" - "Texas, according to the Gore campaign and the environmental lobby, is nothing short of a post-apocalyptic ecological hell. Little children choke on the country's deadliest smog and are cruelly denied health insurance. Toxic pollution has turned the countryside into a barren wasteland. Pollution controls are, believe it or not, voluntary. Reactionary yahoo Texans might think this is A-OK, but do the rest of us really want to live in such Dickensian squalor? This attack on environmental quality in Texas is flagrantly dishonest. It's also a perfect illustration of why people of goodwill cannot have a civil discussion about environmental policy: The political atmosphere is too poisoned by demagoguery for reasonable debate." (Jerry Taylor in the LA Times)

"Internet becomes the new family hearth" - Contrary to popular belief, Net doesn't alienate families. It brings them together." (CSM) [UCLA Study Monitors Impact of Web on Society]

"Al Gore's Eco Store" Saving the environment from people -"Al Gore's Eco-Store is an internet showcase of some of the fine environmental options available from Al Gore. Created with the best of intentions, these products will relieve the guilt you should feel for being a member of modern society. The best thing of all? They are all available to you at zero cost! No matter their cost to society, you needn't feel guilty for wanting a pure, pristine environment without paying for it. That's what the taxpayers are for: they should care about the earth, and the way they should care is by paying taxes. Individuals make silly decisions. We can't save the earth without regulations, mandates and subsidies." (EarthInTheBalance.org)

Or, if you prefer more compassionate clicks, try Social Issues Research Centre's Hunger Site feature.

October 25, 2000

"EPA chief accused of allowing racial discrimination" - "It wasn't the way Carol Browner had envisioned her final Congressional hearing as the Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Instead of facing off against industry representatives and their Capitol Hill allies over EPA's latest regulatory crackdown, Browner was confronted by angry black EPA employees backed by a representative from the NAACP. The pollution under discussion was not at some abandoned waste dump out in the sticks, but inside the agency Browner has headed for nearly eight years." (Earth Times)

Environmental Justice at Carol Browner's EPA?

"'Ignorance' of Greens berated by scientist" - "An independent scientist revered by Green groups attacked them this week for their stance on nuclear power and GM food." (Daily Telegraph)

"Blame is Ford’s ‘Job One’" "The hysteria that has swept across the nation since August and prompted the recall of 6.5 million Firestone tires is finally dying down, as Firestone forecasts completion of the recall by the end of November. It now appears, however, that the hysteria was more a result of junk PR than junk tires - and that attention should really be focused on the Ford Explorer." (By Steve Milloy)

"We Think the Scientist Doth Protest Too Much" - "In "An Open Letter on Global Warming" dated 15 October 2000 and posted on the web, NASA's James Hansen complains about what he considers to be the negative spin put on a paper that he and several colleagues wrote, which was published in the 15 August 2000 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (see our Journal Review Then Again … Rethinking Climate Change).  He objects to the interpretations of several journalists, science writers and the leadership of the Union of Concerned Scientists, who suggest his most recent work provides fodder for climate realists (such as us) who say there is no need to reduce the burning of fossil fuels to prevent potential global warming.  Hansen's own assessment of the implications of his paper, however, is perhaps the most egregious misinterpretation of them all." (co2science.org)

"Chill out, 'normal' winter will return" - "The recent stretch of record warm winters may be a thing of the past in the United States, according to indicators in the National Weather Service's 2000-2001 winter weather forecast. "We've probably forgotten over the past three years what a normal winter is like," said NOAA Administrator James Baker. "With La Niña and El Niño out of the way, normal (defined as the period from 1961 to 1990) winter weather has a chance to return to the U.S. this year." (ENN)

"Big Government Scores High with League of Conservation Voters" - "WASHINGTON, DC — Today’s announcement of the League of Conservation Voters’ (LCV) “National Environmental Scorecard” demonstrates that the LCV is more an advocate of government control than of sound environmental policy. The scorecard consistently favors greater federal regulation and demonizes human activity and private initiative. “Despite its claims of non-partisanship, the LCV has become little more than a front group for the Democratic Party philosophy of more governmental control over people’s lives and economic activity,” said Myron Ebell, Director of Global Warming Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute." (CEI)

"Will real Gore please stand up?" - "Now that the three debates are over, it is pretty clear that the American people should be asking themselves whether they want George W. Bush or one of the three Al Gores we saw during the three debates. Unfortunately, we don't know which is the real Gore." (USA Today)

Here he is - no, here - or here - here? - perhaps? - maybe? - kind of - like - no, no, HERE's Al

"UK government urged to be firm on climate tax" - "The British government has been urged by environmentalists to crack down hard on companies that seek to delay the introduction of the controversial climate change levy next spring." (Financial Times)

"Issues: gun control" - "One "difference between us" that Democratic presidential contender Al Gore did not take pains to elucidate during the three debates with Texas Gov. George W. Bush is his stand on the issue of gun control. Aware that the issue is a political loser that might antagonize undecided and swing voters who value their Second Amendment rights, Mr. Gore has been busy the past few days trying to efface statements made earlier in the campaign in favor of stringent new controls on the sale, possession and use of firearms." (Washington Times editorial)

"Election Day Issue" - "The Arizona Sierra Club will have an anti-growth initiative on the November ballot. Provisions include mandatory growth boundaries for cities and public votes on all projects of 20 acres or more. If it passes, the Sierra Club will likely try the same in other states. Click here to learn how you can help defeat the initiative." (Pit & Quarry magazine)

"WHO Pushes for Tough Anti-Tobacco Rules in Africa" - "NAIROBI, Kenya - The World Health Organization Tuesday urged tougher anti-tobacco policies in Africa, but the OAU is worried the drive could undermine political and economic stability if farmers are not given alternatives. Parliamentarians and health experts from 21 African English-speaking countries are meeting in Nairobi as the WHO whips up support for its tobacco control campaign." (Reuters)

"Radiation therapy may be safe after all for women with breast cancer gene mutations" - "Women with breast cancer who carry a genetic mutation that heightens their risk of the disease might not have to fear having radiation therapy as previously thought, according to a new study led by University of Michigan researchers." (UMHS)

"Lithuanian PM nominee favours new nuclear reactor" - "RIGA - Lithuania's former Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas, who is tipped to lead a new government, said yesterday that he supported the construction of a new nuclear reactor." (Reuters)

"POLL - Czechs firmly behind Temelin N-plant launch" - "PRAGUE - Support among Czechs for the launch of the controversial Temelin nuclear power station is increasing despite vehement protests from neighbouring Austria that it is unsafe, an opinion poll showed yesterday." (Reuters)

"ANALYSIS - Proposed tax hikes may strangle Norway's power industry" - "OSLO - Further tax hikes in the Norwegian government's 2001 draft budget could exacerbate the struggle the country's electricity sector faces when competing against its Nordic rivals, analysts and the industry said yesterday." (Reuters)

"Study says Halloween's real peril is cars, not razor blades" - "The risk from razors pushed into apples and candy -- the most talked-about Halloween hazard -- is so exaggerated it borders on being an urban myth, a Canadian medical journal reports. There is likely more risk of children getting diarrhea and flatulence from the artificial sweetener in Gummi Bears and eye injuries from thrown eggs than suffering medical problems from foreign objects purposely placed into Halloween treats, according to the Canadian Medical Association Journal." (National Post)

"Farmers Worried About Modified Corn" - "PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - Responding to concerns about genetically modified corn reaching the food supply, industry officials say farmers and operators of grain elevators can take steps as simple as improving their communication to keep separate the grain's varied strains. Such steps could help better serve consumers who demand specific types of a grain and reduce the chances of a situation like the one encountered recently when a prohibited genetically modified variety of corn found its way into food items such as tacos." (AP)

"Consulting Firm Sees Biotech Responsible for Large Reductions in Chemical Usage by 2009" - "Projections by Kline & Company, Inc. in their Biotech 2009 Business Analysis, suggest that biotechnology-based row crops will be responsible for a 13-million-lb.-a-year reduction in insecticides and a 45-million-lb. reduction in herbicide use." (AgWeb.com)

"Rice Plant To Acquire A New Look" - "The rice plant will soon have a new look. In fact, it will turn into a wholly new plant, producing more and better rice. The uppermost grain-bearing portion, called panicle, which is much smaller compared to the height of the rest of the plant now, will be a lot bigger in the new plant to accommodate more grains for higher overall yield. And the plant would be much sturdier, immune to several common diseases which take a heavy toll of paddy output each year." (TKC)

"Scientists fear consequences of GE ban" - "New Zealand's incidence of liver cancer, diabetes and anaemia will rise if gene-based therapies are banned here, say medical researchers. The potential of such technology is enormous, and it is "inconceivable" that New Zealand would shun it, the scientists told the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification yesterday." (NZ Herald)

"Genetically altered food not your basic mutant anymore" - "You're spoiled - just admit it. You want great coffee without caffeine, trees without pollen, beans without . . . well, methane. And Steve Henikoff, a geneticist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, wants to oblige. He just wants you to accept - no, embrace - mutants. "All we're doing is taking a natural process and speeding it up," Henikoff explained as he sat in his office, speaking slowly to emphasize the point. "There's nothing to worry about just because it's a mutation." (Seattle Times)

"Food-Logistics Databases Take On New Urgency Amid Mad Cow Fears" - "PARIS -- Tracking produce from the farm to your refrigerator isn`t the most glamorous business to be in, but France`s Tracing Server sees a growing demand for the information its databases can provide. With more and more Europeans concerned about the origins of the food products they buy, the French logistics-services company believes a product`s history -- including, for example, which cattle farm a package of hamburger comes from -- can be as valuable as the product itself. European consumers` desire for more information about where produce comes from has been spurred in part by the sharp increase in cases of mad-cow disease this year." (WSJ)

"Americans 'super-sizing' their way to obesity" - "NEW YORK: For Americans seeking to shed a few pounds, the first step might be to push aside the 32-ounce mug of soda and triple-layer hamburger being set down at lunch tables across the US, a report suggests. With more than half of all Americans clinically overweight and one out of four obese, results of an American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) survey indicate that lack of appreciation for the importance of portion size is a significant factor." (Times of India)

"More Food You Can't Eat" - "The Center for the Science in the Public Interest has found a new type of restaurant food to disparage. This time, it's Greek food. CSPI already says you shouldn't eat most Chinese food, Mexican food, Italian food, and fast food. Now these food nannies say forget the Greek salad, moussaka, and gyros too. Where in the world can we get something to eat?" (GuestChoice.com)

"Watching Volunteers Eat, Psychiatrists Seek Clues to Obesity" - "In a small room on the ninth floor of St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan, volunteers come to eat in the name of science." (NY Times)

"The truth about fat" - "FAT seems to be the scourge of the Western world; the enemy which many battle constantly. The rise in eating disorders and the popularity of slimming clubs, gyms and low-fat ready meals are symptoms of our fixation with this so-called evil. However, scientists are now realising that fat benefits our bodies, and without adequate fat stores, our lives would be much less healthy." (Scotsman)

"Navigating the food-label maze" - "American's food supply is the safest and most varied on the planet. But confusion persists over what to eat, how much, and how to judge nutrition facts against manufacturers' claims." (CSM)

"Don't get anxious, get angry" - "The Independent seems to going through a very welcome phase of balanced reporting and rational debate. Following on the heels of Cherry Norton's coverage of the polio vaccine scare, which was the subject of a SIRC 'Naming and Praising' award, comes a nicely crafted and well argued piece by the paper's columnist Natasha Walter: Let us be angry, and not fearful." (Comment from the Social Issues Research Centre)

"Russians Getting Sicker, Dying Younger" - "MOSCOW - Officials painted a worsening picture of Russians' health Tuesday, blaming poor social conditions and too much drinking and smoking. "This year passed under the sign of Russians' health getting worse and forces us, doctors, to talk about a national catastrophe," Interfax news agency quoted Oleg Shchepin of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, as saying." (Reuters)

"Cheerleading Getting Dangerous" - "Injuries up 400 percent in 20 years" (HealthScout)

"Extinction Turns Out to Be a Slow, Slow Process" - "Scientists studying the planet's stressed-out rain forests, rivers, reefs, deserts and islands are increasingly confronting a new kind of species — the living dead. They are extant, but, in almost every way, are already extinct." (NY Times)

"Vietnam says US has moral duty over war aggression" - "HANOI - Vietnam said yesterday it hoped a historic visit by President Bill Clinton next month would improve ties with the United States but Washington had a moral duty to deal with consequences of its "aggression" in the Vietnam War. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Phan Thuy Thanh said this included real help in alleviating suffering caused by Agent Orange, a toxic defoliant U.S. forces used in the War to deny communist guerrillas cover." (Reuters)

"Clinton Urged To Protect Consumers From Bio-Corn Contamination" (Greenpeace)

"Gene Boosts Football Players' Brain Damage Risk" - "NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Football players with a genetic variation linked to Alzheimer's disease are more vulnerable to the damaging effects of head injury, new research suggests." (Reuters Health)

"Belgium to Boost Organic Farming" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium - Belgium said Tuesday that it wanted to increase the number of organic farms by 60 percent annually over the next four years." (Reuters)

"Hong Kong's green crusade gathers pace" - "Hong Kong - Hong Kong may be a latecomer to the eco-movement but the mushrooming numbers attracted to the green crusade reflect growing dissent with government inaction over the environment. Since it set up in Hong Kong in 1997, Greenpeace has seen its membership explode from 750 to 11 000 in July, 2000. Friends of the Earth (FoE), which has spent nearly 20 years campaigning against excess consumerism, has grown from just a handful of volunteers to more than 1 500 paid-up members." (News 24)

"For thermometers, mercury is falling" - "WASHINGTON -- The glass mercury thermometer, one of the most basic tools of medical care, is slowly vanishing from store shelves and disappearing into history. Environmental groups concerned about the toxic heavy metal and consumers making the gradual switch to digital thermometers are combining to make the 150-year-old mercury thermometer a relic." (USA Today)

"Storm hits Nessie 'fishing' plan" - "A man who plans to hook a piece of the Loch Ness monster has caused waves of discontent among Nessie fans and animal-lovers." (BBC Online)

"Blair provides new impetus for green agenda" - "Tony Blair embraced the environmental cause yesterday for the first time since he took office in a major speech that set out his Government's green agenda. The Prime Minister acknowledged – in a way he has never done before – the scale of a whole range of environmental problems, from global climate change to the over-exploitation of fish stocks and the extinction of wildlife, and pledged to "re-engage the political system on the importance of the environmental challenge"." (Independent)

He's been given a sign! (and panicked when he found it read 'exit')

"Asteroid estimates 'too low'" - "Current predictions for the number of potentially dangerous asteroids have been under-estimated by at least 20%, say astronomers. According to recent estimates, there are between 750 and 900 asteroids circling the Earth with the potential to cause devastation on impact." (BBC Online)

October 24, 2000

Here's a couple more things McKie forgot to mention on Sunday: "Europe's biggest glacier shrinks" - " ... "The glacier has been shrinking for most of the 20th century," Dr David Evans, of Glasgow University's Geography and Topographical Science Department, told CNN.com. ... But he dismisses panic theories that the loss of the glacier is man-made or even permanent. "It really is not a human-induced situation," he said. "This glacier is receding from the coast because it advanced to the coast during what is known as the Little Ice Age. "Relatively speaking, things have become warmer, but they were warm before the Little Ice Age." Evans says that 300 years ago the coastal land around Breidamerkurjokull was ice-free and used for farming by local people. Then, in the early decades of the 18th century, the climate grew colder and giant rivers of ice spread out from the Vatnajokull sheet, including the Breidamerkurjokull glacier. These moved miles down to the coast, covering pastures and crushing farmhouses that lay in their path. "The Little Ice Age lasted almost 200 years, reaching its peak, in Iceland, in 1890, when Breidamerkurjokull got closest to the sea," said Evans. "That mini-ice age is over now, and the climate has been getting warmer for the past 100 years. Hence the shrinking and disintegration of the glacier." (CNN)

"New York Baseball Is Hot, Its Climate Is Not" - "As the New York Yankees and New York Mets face-off in another historic "Subway Series," New York baseball and Senatorial politics make New York a hot topic in national conversation. That combination must be nirvana for someone of George Will’s sensibilities. But "hot" as New York is in Autumn 2000, the Big Apple’s climate definitely is not heating up." (GES)

"Kyoto climate debate heats up" - "In London, Paris and Berlin, governments have been licking the wounds inflicted by the recent oil protests. The governments survived the demonstrations but efforts to stop global warming - in particular the Kyoto Protocol, keystone of the inter-national community's efforts - may not. ... With negotiators set to reconvene at the Hague next month to decide rules for administering and enforcing the Kyoto pact, this greener- than-thou pose can no longer mask the lack of deep public support for the EU's position. The oil protests have made it embarrassingly clear that the EU has overestimated the mandate from its citizens to fight global warming by means of higher energy taxes." (Financial Times)

"Paint may keep cities cooler" - "NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A little more green and white instead of black can help keep Louisiana's capital of Baton Rouge cooler, federal scientists say after analyzing infrared photographs of the city. A NASA-Environmental Protection Agency study showed that white roofs, lighter-colored pavement and trees providing shade to parking lots and streets can reduce heat and pollution in cities that can be 2 to 8 degrees hotter than the areas around them." (AP)

"Global warming a factor in coral reef crisis" - "NUSA DUA, Indonesia (October 23, 2000 1:19 p.m. EDT http://www.nandotimes.com) - More than a quarter of the world's coral reefs have been destroyed by pollution and global warming, experts said Monday, warning that unless strong measures are taken, most of the remaining reefs could be dead in 20 years. In some of the worst hit areas, such as the Maldives and Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean, up to 90 percent of coral reefs have been killed during the past two years due to rises in water temperature." (AP)

Hmm... seems to be basically a rerun of this Greenpeace-sponsored report by Ove Hoegh-Guldberg.

Hoegh-Guldberg won one of Australia's premier scientific awards for his study on the causes of coral bleaching in the world's reefs and the fact that Greenpeace commissioned the report in no way invalidates it. It is contentious, however, due to its reliance on a simple laptop- version GCM and the hypothesis of catastrophic warming induced by anthropogenic greenhouse emissions. 

Contentious too, is the damage done by the El Niño-induced bleaching event. Of the Great Barrier Reef, AIMS (Australian Institute of Marine Science) senior principal research scientist Terry Done said "an odd hectare here or there" of the Reef had been devastated, but most had suffered no lasting impact. (Recovering Reef beats the bleach) According to their media release of November, last year, most reefs in the GBR World Heritage Area showed a 2% increase in hard coral growth and, according to this media report, again showed net growth - "AIMS reef monitoring programme leader Hugh Sweatman said yesterday that public pessimism about the reef was not supported by the past five years of data." Surprising? Perhaps not, GBRMPA (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) representatives pointed out that, while sudden warming can certainly damage and even kill corals, corals also flourish in the Mediterranean, where water temperatures are +4°C higher than those experienced in the GBR. The Maldives also seem to exhibit significantly better recovery than doomsayers had predicted.

There have been many causes postulated for observed changes in the world's coral reefs, ranging from African dust to fluvial eutrophication and on to observation bias (people hadn't been observing and recording bleaching events until very recently). We also know that corals have survived both warmer and cooler oceans. What we don't know is whether there are any significant current trends in ocean temperatures and we won't for some time. Only now are we beginning to deploy submersible buoys to get an idea of oceanic temperatures and that data will not yield trend information for decades.

"The Consequences of Banning Useful and Safe Chemicals" - "To the Editor: The woeful condition of Los Angeles' public school playgrounds is a predictable result of the nonsensical banning of safe and effective herbicides in that city ("Tangled Up in Green," page A1, Oct.5). There is no reliable scientific evidence to link the approved use of herbicides or pesticides to any human disease. Three decades of use should be sufficient evidence for the lack of adverse health effects of these chemicals." (Dr. Gilbert Ross in The Wall Street Journal)

"Critically Ill Infants Most at Risk From Plastic Softener" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium, October 23, 2000 (ENS) - An international health care coalition claims that premature infants and newborns treated in neonatal intensive care units are likely to be exposed to significant amounts of a chemical suspected to cause reproductive and developmental problems in humans. Health Care Without Harm, which represents more than 290 organizations in 27 countries, released its report in Brussels, Monday, to coincide with the European Commission's public hearing on environmental issues of polyvinyl chloride (PVC)."

Health Care Without Shame - again. Media Lose Message; Save plastic IV-bags so they can save you; Safe Plastics, Poisonous Journalism; Potshots from the Purveyors of Plasticizer Panic.

"PVC makers plead against laws as EU drafts strategy" - "BRUSSELS - Makers of the plastic polyvinyl chloride (PVC) told European Union law makers yesterday they would improve their environmental performance on their own and did not need any new legislation. The PVC industry is combatting a barrage of calls from environmental and consumer groups to ban or restrict its products because of concerns they can pollute the environment and damage health." (Reuters)

"Living under an invisible threat" - "Every year at around this time, an ozone hole opens up over the Antarctic - but this year it has opened up to record levels. For a few days it has also spread to the southern tip of South America. This area includes the small town of Puerto Williams - the southernmost settlement in the Americas." (BBC Online) [The deadly fire in the sky (Vancouver Sun)]

"NASA, NOAA in PR Slugfest" - "In the 1960s, NASA's clear purpose was to forge the exploration of space. When Congress tired of spending billions to mine moon rocks that look no different from Earth rocks, NASA changed its priority to forging the exploration of Earth. Thus most remotely sensed data have fallen under NASA's bailiwick. Lately, NASA's primary purpose is to forge the domination of the airwaves. Nary a day goes by without some major press release from NASA on some new nondiscovery about the latest ill to plague our Fragile Planet." (WCR)

Northern high-latitude temperatures have drawn a lot of interest recently, so:

"Lessons from Lapland" - "The Lapland is a vast area in northern Finland that extends northward from the Arctic Circle to the shores of the Barents Sea. It is home to several hundred thousand humans and an even greater number of domesticated reindeer. It also is home to a relatively long historical temperature record used by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to calculate Arctic and global temperatures." (GES)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT #36" - "The third televised Presidential debate turned the spotlight onto the Arctic again. The debate about the merits of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge can rage at other websites. Let’s examine Vice President Al Gore’s assertion of the existence of "a recent study" suggesting that the polar icecap could melt within the next fifty years. By our rough calculation Hell will freeze over within the same timeframe. No such study exists. But if Arctic temperature studies are what are scaring you into the voting booth, consider a major paper recently published in the International Journal of Climatology by Dr. Rajmund Przybylak of the Nicholas Copernicus University in Poland." (GES)

"CO2 plan partially rejected" - "A Japanese government plan to attain up to 3.7 percent of its total 6 percent carbon dioxide reduction target through forest absorption has been partly rejected, a document released on the Web site of a U.N. body showed Monday. The decision came during preparatory negotiations for a U.N. conference on climate change slated for November. The document compiled by the chairman of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice, a body under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, excluded Japan's demand to reduce its carbon dioxide cut target by 0.3 percent by planting trees on land where forestry industries had cut down forests." (Japan Times)

"Meacher is rebuked for floating fuel tax escalator" - "Downing Street and the Treasury yesterday issued a joint rebuke to the environment minister, Michael Meacher, after he floated the idea of restoring the fuel duty escalator. Government spokesmen said that ministers had no intention of bringing back the escalator which was abolished by Gordon Brown in his budget this year. (Guardian) [No plan to use the fuel escalator, insists Brown] [CBI urges Brown to cut fuel tax]

"Flames on the fuel" - "SO now we know: the fuel protests were orchestrated by a tightly knit group of politically motivated men. As the protesters' deadline of November 13 approaches, Labour and its allies in the media are determined to discredit the instigators. They are, say government sources, Right-wing extremists bent on the destruction of Tony Blair: "a popular front of Poujadist small businessmen" (Polly Toynbee in the Guardian); "men drunk on the praise of William Hague" (Nick Cohen in yesterday's Observer). Last week, a propos of nothing in particular, the BBC's Today programme conducted a "special investigation" which pushed the Government's line that the pickets had got their way through intimidation - a conclusion since disputed by police. This is not the first time that Labour has resorted to blackguarding its opponents." (Daily Telegraph) [Brown on defensive over fuel escalator] [and from their environment editor, defending sacred cows from motorists: Why Blair chose the car and failed the country] [and from The Scotsman: Stealth taxes slow down economy]

"The Biotech Boom" - "The Greens, now part of the political mainstream, are no longer against genetics. On the contrary, they are presiding over a dizzyingly rapid expansion in Germany’s biotechnology industry." (Newsweek)

"Genetic Engineering May Be A Slice Of Life Or Frankenfood" (Summary) - "According to the Houston Chronicle, scientists are now envisioning the full potential of genetic engineering. Currently the technology has been helping farmers to ward off pests, control weeds, and prevent rot, but now scientists are aiming to make drugs more affordable, medicines easier to dispense, and food more nutritious." (TKC)

"Congress puts off decision on federal funds for stem-cell research" - "WASHINGTON (October 23, 2000 7:36 a.m. EDT http://www.nandotimes.com) - Congress will wait until next year to decide whether to remove key restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research that advocates say could lead to cures for Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and other diseases." (AP)

"Women's worry about being at risk for certain cancers not as high as expected, study finds" - "WASHINGTON — It has been thought that women at high risk for breast and ovarian cancer who do not take the now-available genetic tests are not taking the tests because of their fear of the results. But, this is not the case. According to new research, these women neither worry about the risk nor suffer from psychological distress as much as previously thought. These findings are reported in the October issue of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology." (APA)

"Report: Water Systems in Trouble" - "EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Fresh water systems around the world are so environmentally degraded they are losing their ability to support human, animal and plant life, according to a report released Saturday. Their decline will mean increased water shortages for people and rapid population loss or extinction for many other species, the World Resources Institute predicted." (AP) [China planning nuclear blasts to build giant hydro project] [Gigantic Scheme Mooted To Bring Water From Congo]

"Peru logging ban: Saving trees but boosting poverty" - "A new law, touted as the most advanced forestry law in Latin America, has its share of critics in Peru." (CSM)

"An Ingredient Under Fire" - "October 30 issue —  Where’s the aspirin? Executives in the $18 billion over-the-counter drug industry developed a huge headache last week when a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel declared that an ingredient found in dozens of popular decongestants and diet drugs was unsafe." (Newsweek)

"Let us be angry, and not fearful" - "A culture of anger can help us to regain control over our lives. A culture of fear sends us striving pointlessly for a risk-free life." (Natasha Walter in The Independent) [Wanted: a vaccine to fight fears over the health of children]

"We Say Toe-may-toe, Nannies Say Toe-mah-toe, So Let's Call An Expert" (GuestChoice.com) - "Contrary to nanny claims, there is nothing better about organic foods. Organic, conventional, or genetically engineered, it just doesn't matter, says David Klurfeld, chairman of the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at Wayne State University in Detroit. "There is no evidence that organic foods are more nutritious. The benefit you are getting is from any fruits and vegetables. The more you eat, the healthier you will be - you'll have less chance of cancer, heart disease and obesity. If it is pesticides that are harming us, you would be much worse off if you ate lots of fruits and vegetables, but that is not the case." ("Organic the way to grow?," Washington Times, 10/22/00)

"Scientists warn over 'dangerous remedies' for asthma" - "Trials fail to show that herbal 'cures' have any success – instead, they could trigger reactions including blood clots, bleeding and nausea. Herbal remedies used to "cure" asthma are neither effective nor safe and are a "waste of money" in most cases, scientists said yesterday." (Independent)

"Genetic test tells which smokers become addicted" - "Scientists have discovered that genes determine how many cigarettes people smoke each day, and who will become addicted." [Research unpublished] (Independent)

"Conference discusses African tobacco use" - "NAIROBI, Kenya (October 23, 2000 3:51 p.m. EDT http://www.nandotimes.com) - Tobacco-related diseases will probably become the biggest killer in Africa in the next two decades, an official with the U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday. Projections indicate tobacco will cause more deaths than AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, maternal mortality, automobile crashes, homicides and suicides combined, CDC official Lawrence Green said." (AP)

"No Time for Napping in Today's Kindergarten" - "It's only October, but already Nicky Beldoch is exhibiting symptoms of student ennui. The other day, when his mother asked him the best thing about school, he said lunch. Most boring? Art history. No surprise, given that he has homework every night and has been anxious about an oral report he has to deliver in science. But Nicky is 5, and he is in kindergarten. And while his mother, naturally, says that he is smarter than the average kindergartner, his day at Public School 9 on the Upper West Side of Manhattan looks much like the average day in kindergartens across the country." (NY Times) [Outstanding preschool boosts brain activity (USA Today)]

Right... Wasn't the result of parents and institutions pushing kids' learning very early an increase in student suicides in Japan?

"Flamingo Population Increases in Kenyan Park" - "The once flagging Flamingo population at Kenya's renowned Lake Nakuru National Park in the Rift Valley Province, has now increased to 1.8 million birds, according to a survey by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). Jackson Asila, KWS officer in charge of game census at the park, told PANA Monday that the figure indicating a high growth of the bird's population was obtained following a special count Saturday. He said the number was one of the highest and was still going up due to the current drought that has restored the salinity of the Lake water. Flamingos feed on algae that would only flourish in alkaline water environments." (AllAfrica.com)

"Evidence of 'life after death'" - "Scientists investigating 'near-death' experiences say they have found evidence to suggest that consciousness can continue to exist after the brain has ceased to function. However, the claim has been challenged by neurological experts." (BBC Online)

October 22 - 23, 2000

Junkscience.com special award:

A very well deserved "Big J" junk science reporting award goes to The Observer's 'science editor' Robin McKie for:

"Now Europe's biggest glacier falls to global warming" - "Europe's biggest glacier is about to disintegrate. The mighty Breidamerkurjökull in southern Iceland is breaking apart and will slide into the north Atlantic in the next few years. Researchers' discovery of the imminent destruction of this gigantic river of ice demonstrates starkly that global warming is now making a serious impact on the northern hemisphere, threatening to melt ice caps and raise sea levels round the world."

Now this is truly alarming. If Europe's biggest glacier shows signs of imminent collapse, surely that proves the enhanced greenhouse effect is real and that the planet is undergoing catastrophic warming. Uh... just where is Breidamerkurjökull? In fact, it is the largest outlet glacier that drains Vatnajökull on the south-eastern part of the ice cap.

Any scientist worthy of their parchment and any science editor naturally checks local temperature trends to verify local warming - in this case most particularly summer warming because that's when we anticipate ice melt. From our previously referenced regional map we note Höfn is adjacent and has a half-century temperature record available graphically here. Oops - no apparent warming over 50 years.

Hmm... the Vatnajökull ice cap has been in the news several times over the last five years or so - why was that... time for a quick Google search. Oh! More than 1,000 references, mostly about the subglacial volcanic eruptions of 1995, 1996 and 1998. Nice pictures of the collapsing ice sheet as it's melted from below by geothermal activity and of the ash discolouration of the previously white ice cap (meaning that it is less able to reflect solar energy and thus more likely to suffer some surface melting).

So... no apparent trend in local surface temperature, recorded subglacial volcanic activity and "the imminent destruction of this gigantic river of ice demonstrates starkly that global warming is now making a serious impact on the northern hemisphere, threatening to melt ice caps and raise sea levels round the world." Quod erat demonstrandum enhanced greenhouse causes volcanic activity?

Congratulations Robin McKie, verily you are a truly deserving winner of the "Big J" award of the moment for junk science reporting. A very special mention also for The Observer for publishing your baseless regurgitation of misanthropist media releases rather than insisting you actually did your job and some simple homework. A great team effort.

Volcanic activity demonstrates anthropogenic warming... Sheeeesh!

John L Daly (Still Waiting For Greenhouse) has assembled a nice little pictorial essay on the topic. Be sure to check out 'The Greening of the American West' at the top of John's "Stop Press" section.

"Yes, global warming did cause the floods" - "THE floods that have ravaged Britain in recent weeks are the result of global warming, according to a senior government minister. In the first official admission that climate change was to blame, Environment Minister Michael Meacher said: "Anyone who lives in Kent and Sussex knows the truth of the matter." (Daily Express)

Curious, his own EPA said it was a result of building on floodplains. As far as increasing flood damage goes, a recent NCAR release says: Population and Wealth, More than Climate, Drive Soaring Costs of U.S. Flood Damage. The Sunday Times also carried Ministers ignored flood-risk warning, a feature on decaying flood defences and building on floodplains.

"Never mind mellow fruitfulness: autumn leaves refuse to go brown"

Check the item on English growing seasons (para 2) Troubling Climatic Developments

"Internet in the balance: Al Gore's regulatory threat" - "A few weeks back, Al Gore, mocking his own penchant for hyperbole, bantered with David Letterman's Late Show audience: "I gave you the Internet -- and I can take it away." This is no joke. While Republicans waste time with captious critiques of the straight-arrow Gore's credibility and character, the real threat posed by the Democratic candidate is utterly ignored. Mr. Gore's policies would impose an energy, tax and regulatory garrote on the Internet. The Kyoto Treaty alone would be devastating to the Net. At a time when global temperatures are significantly lower than they were 1,000 or 3,000 years ago, Mr. Gore would impose an energy clamp on the U.S. economy over the next decade. Yet billions of new Web servers and Web devices are scheduled to come onto the Net during this period, while billions of now-poor Asians will also be drastically increasing their energy usage. With each Web device draining as much as a megawatt-hour a year, a billion always-on Internet computers -- together with the factories that build them and scores of billions of watt-hungry embedded processors -- will account for an estimated total of four thousand trillion watt-hours, or close to half the world's current electricity use. With the restrictions negotiated in Kyoto, a global broadband Internet cannot happen." (George Gilder in the National Post)

"IT'S THE ENVIRONMENT, STUPID!" - "DOWN by two to five points in most polls, the debates he was supposed to win already over, outgunned financially, what's Al Gore to do? The man needs an issue. He's lost the battle of character and the duel of personality. America would rather have George W. Bush as president. But they agree more with Gore. What Al needs is an issue so clear and so important that he can make voters turn down the more popular candidate and vote for him. The environment, the issue that brung him, is Gore's way back into this race. Voters under 45 put the environment way up top among their list of concerns. Polls indicate they deeply believe that global warming, climate change, and ozone depletion threaten their futures as intimately and directly as nuclear weapons darkened the lives of their parents."  (Dick Morris in the New York Post)

I didn't find much in the way of US polls and global warming. There's an online poll on something called "Hot Planet" that allows you to view results suggesting a margin of 2:1 voted against their question of "Do you think that human influence is a factor in global warming?" I have no access to the program and so have no idea how information was presented nor do I know whether there is any voting restriction effective - it could be that more opinionated people could vote repeatedly. What interested me about this particular poll is the question. Had I responded I would has answered yes, human influence is a factor (urban heat island effect, less-cold nocturnal and winter extremes due to slower re-radiation etc. ...) although I don't perceive greenhouse as a problem. Curiously, when I looked, there had been roughly 26,000 affirmative and 56,000 negative responses, plus a few undecided. It's only one poll, with a dubious question and of unknown integrity, but it sure doesn't lend any support to the claim that people "deeply believe". If they did you'd expect a greater motivation to click "yes" wouldn't you?

"Drug Companies Defend Use of Ingredient in Cold Products" - "Facing potential restrictions on a major ingredient in some of their best-known brands, pharmaceutical companies staunchly defended the safety of their products yesterday and accused the Food and Drug Administration of placing an unwarranted amount of faith in what they called a questionable study." (NY Times)

"Bottled water bad for teeth" - "The health fad for drinking filtered and bottled water is raising dentists' concerns that a generation of young people are doing serious damage to their teeth. Leading dentists fear that an increasing number of children and teenagers are inadvertently cutting fluoride from their diet by replacing tap water with bottled and filtered varieties. There is also concern that constant sipping of sport drinks is causing an "acid attack" on the teeth of the young." (NZ Herald)

"Corn Woes Prompt Kellogg to Shut Down Plant" - "The Kellogg Co. has been forced to shut down production at one plant because the company could not find corn guaranteed to be free of a genetically modified grain approved only for animal consumption, food industry sources said yesterday." (Washington Post)

"Bio-corn tests disrupt Kellogg plant in Tennessee" - "CHICAGO - Cereal giant Kellogg Co. said on Saturday that operations at its Memphis, Tennessee, plant were disrupted this week while a grain supplier set up tests to screen for StarLink corn, the same type of genetically altered corn that last month forced a recall of taco shells. "While our supplier was putting these steps in place, we experienced a minor disruption at one of our plants. We expect to be back in full operation early next week," Joseph Stewart, Kellogg senior vice president for corporate affairs and chief ethics officer, said in a statement." (Reuters)

"Tyson stops buying StarLink gene-altered corn" - "CHICAGO - Tyson Foods Inc., the world's largest poultry producer, said on Friday it has stopped feeding its chickens with a gene-altered corn approved for use only as animal feed but turned up in taco shells and flour." (Reuters)

"EC questions if US biotech food regulations adequate" - "WASHINGTON - The European Commission on Friday expressed concern about whether U.S. regulations are adequate to stop bioengineered grains from getting into exports to nations concerned about gene-spliced foods." (Reuters)

"GM virus 'cure' for heart disease" - "Scientists are preparing to infect heart disease patients with genetically engineered viruses. The modified microbes would kickstart the patients' hearts into manufacturing life-saving proteins and so restore their health, say the researchers." (Observer)

"Mobiles will carry health warning" - "THE government is to issue leaflets to everyone buying mobile telephones warning that those under 16 should use them only for essential calls", writes Jack Grimston in the Sunday Times.

"Sierra Club lawsuit targets Hawaii tourist trade" - "The organization filed a lawsuit with the Hawaii Supreme Court in January, saying that before the Hawaii Tourism Authority spends millions of dollars to promote tourism in the state, it must prepare an environmental impact statement." (ENN)

"Thousands Face Eviction to Conserve Kenya's Tana River Mangabey" - "NAIROBI, Kenya, October 20, 2000 (ENS) - Conservation of an endangered monkey found only along the Tana River in Kenya may be the cause for the eviction of thousands of residents who have been encroaching on the animals' habitat." (ENS)

"Environment is for humans" - "Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman has been claiming that God wants you to be an environmentalist. And he would know that because . . .?" (Boston Herald)

"Blair attacks 'dogma' of the Greens" - "Tony Blair will rebuke environmentalists this week for putting "dogma and prejudice" before science, and indicate that the Government is determined to press on with trials of GM crops. The Prime Minister will deliver the rebuff – which will further infuriate campaigners who claim that he has failed to keep his environmental promises – on Tuesday, in the first wide-ranging speech on green issues he has made since coming to power in 1997." (Independent)

"Blair to make 'partnership plea' to green groups" - "Tony Blair is to urge green lobbying groups to play a more constructive role in helping to formulate environmental policy." (Ananova)

"Oil release to give winning bidders quick windfall, study says" - "Tapping the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve was intended to help consumers avoid home heating oil shortages this winter, but it appears likely to help some big oil companies even more. Al Gore, who frequently rails against "Big Oil" on the campaign trail, helped give a handful of oil dealers a quick windfall profit when he pushed President Clinton last month to release oil from the reserve to stave off a winter heating crunch. A new study by Britain's Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, which is affiliated with Oxford University, concludes that the winning bidders for the SPR's 30 million barrels of oil — including divisions of BP Amoco, Marathon Ashland, Shell and Texaco — together could make nearly $100 million on the transaction. Market analysts couldn't confirm the exact figure, but they agreed with the study's general conclusion. "It was a sweetheart deal, no doubt about it," said Phil Flynn, senior markets analyst at Alaron Trading Corp., a Chicago-based futures brokerage." (Knight Ridder)

"Strategic Feel-Good Reserve" - "STOCKPILED IN A GRIMY TERMINAL IN NEW HAVEN, CONN. IS A 1-million-barrel reserve of heating oil belonging to the Department of Energy. The DOE owns another 1 million barrels stored in New Jersey. The government bought this oil, which it calls the Northeast Heating Oil Reserve, in late August by trading in 2.8 million barrels of valuable crude and taking the hit for a nasty refining markup. The refiners got a good deal because they have a seller's market--they are already running at 96% of capacity. The government is also going to spend $7.2 million a year to store the heating oil. The notion is that, if any wicked oil companies try to gouge consumers, the DOE can unleash its reserve and force down prices. But it appears that the government's action is perversely having the effect of exacerbating the problem it is supposed to solve." (Forbes)

"Energy Independence" - "... Dr. Dale M. Meade, head of advanced fusion concepts at Princeton, speaking by phone from Rome, said he marveled at the scale of the Forum, the aqueducts and the Coliseum: "Amazing what people were able to do 2,000 years ago when they put their will to it." There is some hope today that the will can be summoned, even as oil prices, for the moment, moderate. The reason lies with a term that almost nobody had heard in the 1970's, much less tied to emissions from fossil fuels: global warming." so thinks James Glanz in the NY Times. But then, the NYT also thought the North Pole was melting back in August. Their subsequent embarrassed retraction caused Letterman to provide them with an alternate slogan. Instead of "All The News That's Fit To Print," slogan is "Stuff We Heard From A Guy Who Says His Friend Heard About It" in his "Top 10 List"

"Brown considers fuel-duty cuts for all drivers" - "GORDON BROWN is considering a cut in fuel duty for all motorists in his November 8 pre-budget report. The chancellor is finalising his plans amid a new political row over so-called stealth taxes. Brown's report will follow across-the-board rises in pump prices that were imposed by the oil companies last week and will come a week before the 60-day deadline set by fuel protesters in September. The Treasury has had extensive consultations with the haulage industry but has been frustrated by the lack of a clear message from the transport lobby." (Sunday Times)

"Sweden risks greater dependence on fossil fuels - IEA" - "STOCKHOLM - Sweden risks becoming more reliant on fossil fuels should it decide to phase out nuclear power in the near future, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a report on Sweden's energy policy on Friday. Sweden has decided to close a second reactor at nuclear power plant Barseback before 2003 provided that power consumption is cut and the energy lost can be replaced by renewable energy such as wind, biomass, solar and small hydropower. "Should nuclear power be phased out, Sweden would have to become more reliant on imports based on fossil fuels," Robert Priddle, executive director at the IEA, told Reuters after a briefing to present the report." (Reuters)

"Ohio Residents Target Gore's Broken Promise On Controversial Incinerator" - "WASHINGTON, D.C. — Protest group heads to Washington — EPA Report Imminent. Calling on Vice President Al Gore to fulfill his promise to shut down the most controversial hazardous waste incinerator in the US, Ohio activists and residents are headed to Washington, D.C. where they are prepared to engage in civil disobedience next week." (Greenpeace)

"Morning sickness may be due to ulcer bug" - "Women who suffer from severe morning sickness may be carrying the bug that causes stomach ulcers, scientists claim. A study of 90 pregnant women in Puerto Rico found that those who experienced severe nausea and vomiting were 10 times more likely to have the Helicobacter pylori bacterium in their stomachs than women who did not feel sick." (BBC Online)

"Animal rights activists blamed for car bombings" - "Animal rights activists are believed to be responsible for two devices which were planted under vehicles belonging to huntsmen." (Ananova)

October 21, 2000

"Earth's Fidgeting Climate" - "Is human activity warming the Earth or do recent signs of climate change signal natural variations? In this feature article, scientists discuss the vexing ambiguities of our planet's complex and unwieldy climate." (Science@NASA)

Is this the consensus?

"DOE officials toe Clinton line, back oil reserve release" - "… The only folks who benefit will be a few large oil companies and a few speculators who hit the jackpot," said Frank H. Murkowski, Alaska Republican and committee chairman. Murkowski said that less than a day's worth of heating oil for the domestic market would result from the release and that much of the oil would go to foreign markets — all "at a considerable risk to national security." (ENN)

"A pall over Texas" - "HOUSTON —  Viewed from atop a monument to Texas independence, the metropolis named for the state’s favorite son, Sam Houston, is the very picture of Big Oil. The city teems with refineries and chemical plants — an ample measure of prosperity in the view of Republican Gov. George W. Bush and many fellow Texans. But the progress has had a cost: Last year, Houston displaced Los Angeles as the nation’s smog capital. Critics say that is just one result of Bush’s decision to put the environment a distant second to his ties to the oil industry." (MSNBC)

Al's Environmental Whoppers

"Al Gore, polluter?" - "Although Al Gore frequently hammers George W. Bush about Houston's air pollution being the worst in the nation, Gore neglects to mention that in a recent study the Environmental Protection Agency found Tennessee's water pollution to be the second-worst in the nation. And Gore especially avoids mentioning that he is directly responsible for some of that water pollution. In fact, starkly contrasting with his passionate speeches or warnings in his best-selling book, "Earth in the Balance," about ozone depletion and other urgent environmental topics, Gore has a long-standing reputation for polluting the environment in Tennessee." (World Net Daily)

"Costs and Decision Making" - "Of all the ways of making decisions, one of the most ridiculous is putting decisions in the hands of third parties who pay no price for being wrong. Yet that has been one of the most fashionable -- and most disastrous -- methods used in this century in countries that embraced socialism. Now that communism and other forms of socialism have been discredited by their failures around the world, you might think that the assumptions and methods of such economic systems would also be discredited. But you would be wrong. Third-party decision-making is alive and well in America today. There was even shock when it suffered a minor setback in California recently." (Thomas Sowell, Creators Syndicate)

"Al Gore’s Economics Hurts Detroit" - "We are the enemy,” Al Gore claims, a society rendered wholly “dysfunctional” by our “addictive consumption” of Earth’s natural resources. Only the controlling hand of government, he maintains, can preserve our future. " (Detroit News) [A position also touted by WWF]

"Fuel costs threaten economic boom" - "High energy prices pose a danger to the long-running economic expansion, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said yesterday, though they have not yet created a wider inflation problem or hurt consumer spending. In a speech at the Cato Institute that focused for the first time on the broad implications of the threefold increase in oil prices since last year, Mr. Greenspan said the central bank is increasingly preoccupied with OPEC, the Middle East and the ups and downs of oil prices. "Policy-makers will need to be on the alert for oil-driven — indeed, energy-driven — risks to our expansion," he said." (Washington Times)

"Car use over environment for motorists" - "Most motorists value being able to use their car more than any environmental considerations, according to a new survey." (Ananova)

"Societal Changes, Not Rains, Cause Flooding Loss Rise" - "U.S. annual flood losses, adjusted for inflation, rose from $1 billion in the 1940s to $5 billion in the 1990s. But societal changes, much more than increased precipitation, spurred the increase. In fact, the steep rise in flood-damage costs in the United States over much of the past century comes from population shifts, according to a new study published October 15 in the Journal of Climate. "Climate plays an important but by no means determining role in the growth of damaging floods in the United States in recent decades," write the authors, Roger Pielke Jr. and Mary Downton, both of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. NCAR's primary sponsor is the National Science Foundation." (UniSci)

"The Week That Was October 21, 2000 brought to you by SEPP" - CARBON AT 20 MILLION YEAR HIGH; THE HYDROGEN ECONOMY - A READER'S SOBER COMMENT; TAXES HIKE GASOLINE PRICES (Science and Environmental Policy Project)

"Drugs in the dock" - "Only the very brave will get involved in the battle between natural childbirth advocates and women's groups over the use of painkillers in pregnancy. Yet many women, particularly those who are pregnant, may have been worried by yesterday's report linking drug abuse among children to painkillers given to their mothers in childbirth. They should not be. Virtually nothing can be drawn from such a small study." (Guardian)

"It's time to flaunt the fat" - "Welcome to spring and the perennial shock of squeezing into last summer's trousers followed by the inevitable nightmare of pulling on the swimsuit. Yes, it's the time of year the lucrative diet industry loves best." (NZ Herald)

"U.S. Diet Doctors Go Round Over Fat Fight" - "DENVER - The diet doctors went to war on Thursday. Dr Robert Atkins recommended his high-protein, meat-rich diet to the American Dietetic Association's annual meeting but Dr. Dean Ornish, a supporter of low-fat diets, told the group that Atkins' method can give a person bad breath and body odor. A high-level U.S. Department of Agriculture official was also on hand, advising against quick-fix diets. And the fat, or at least the barbs, flew." (Reuters)

"Polio vaccine withdrawn over BSE contamination fears" - "A polio vaccine that has been given to millions of children and adults was withdrawn by the Government yesterday amid fears it could be contaminated by mad cow disease. The Medical Control Agency ordered GPs to return all unused doses after the finding that it had been produced using foetal calf serum from the UK." [A few drops that let the Western world forget polio] [Wanted: a vaccine to fight fears over the health of children] (Independent)

"UK Report Into BSE Crisis Scheduled for Release Oct 26" - "LONDON - British Agriculture Minister Nick Brown will unveil next Thursday a long-awaited report into mad cow disease -- a public health crisis which shook the nation." (Reuters)

"Indoor Allergen Exposure Not Asthma Cause" - "LONDON - Early exposure to indoor mite and cat allergens does not cause asthma in children but they can trigger an asthma attack in people with the disease. New research by German scientists reported in The Lancet medical journal found no evidence of a link between the allergens and the development of the disease." (Reuters)

"Research Results Forecast Another Wave Of Exorcisms" - "Couple the re-release of "The Exorcist" and the upcoming Halloween broadcast of "Possessed," a TV documentary about a purported exorcism in a mental hospital, and you've got a prescription for a sudden jump in the number of reported demonic possessions. "Quite a number of people who watch these exorcism films will be affected and develop symptoms of hysteria. These films will be a full-employment bill for exorcists," said Elizabeth Loftus, a University of Washington psychologist and memory expert." (UniSci)

"Debate over cutting public forests engulfs logger" - "Logging on public land is nothing new. For years, the U.S. Forest Service has sold loggers the right to cut timber on public land, generating millions of dollars for the federal government. Some of the money is given back to local forest services. But the practice has come under intense scrutiny in recent years. Many say it's destructive, robbing taxpayers of money, compromising habitat and exploiting a natural resource." (ENN)

resource: n. a source of economic wealth, esp. of a country (mineral, land, labor etc.)... If a resource is rendered inaccessible, is it still a resource or has it been managed out of existence?

"Back-to-front blues" - "Crime rates are down, employment is up, so why won't people accept that things are getting better? ... Why is the prevailing noise a whinge, so much scare and fear, outrage and indignation? Human nature, says a pessimistic colleague. But the people are confronted with such a barrage of misinformation, encouraged to complain, to sue, to blame its leaders. Grudge is the general climate of discourse. Why?" asks Polly Toynbee in The Guardian [Around my table]

Could it have anything to do with scaremongering press and activist doom and gloom coverage?

"Caesareans safest, says breech birth study" - "Women facing childbirth with a baby in the breech position, feet first, should always have a planned caesarean delivery, according to a new study in the Lancet medical journal. Proponents of natural childbirth will be dismayed. Caesarean rates have been rising in Britain, and the recommendation from clinicians in Canada may push them higher." (Guardian)

"These Guys Are Getting Scary" - "The GE Food Alert Coalition is launching an internet-based “viral marketing campaign” against genetically improved foods. It should come as a surprise to no one that the folks behind this Halloween-themed “fear marketing” campaign are (once again) major organic food companies and Fenton Communications. Other participants include the Maharishi cult, the Natural Law Party and the Organic Consumers Association. Expect the worst." (GuestChoice.com)

"New diseases threaten humans and wildlife" - "Many rare species are being pushed towards extinction by exposure to human illnesses, scientists say." (BBC Online)

"Professor wins EPA ozone award" - "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will present Yasuko Matsumoto, an assistant professor at the Science University of Tokyo's Suwa College, with an award for her role in protecting the Earth's ozone layer. Matsumoto, who was in charge of air pollution issues for Greenpeace International Matsumoto from 1990 to 1998, is receiving the award for her contribution toward raising public awareness of the issue and promoting the diffusion of advanced technology utilizing substances not destructive of the ozone layer." (Japan Times)

"Mouse mats withdrawn over fungus fear" - "Greenpeace has recalled promotional mouse mats after it discovered they may contain a fungus from the Brazilian Amazon that could cause an allergic reaction." (BBC Online)

"Dead Bodies Increase Pollution Problem" - "The Japanese practice of cremating the bodies of deceased persons is found to be a major contributor to dioxin contamination in major cities. Adding to the problem is the practice of placing various mementos, such as golf clubs, plastic dolls and even pacemakers of the deceased person into the coffin, to be cremated together with the body." (Japan Update)

October 20, 2000

"Environmental Clapp-Trap" - "After nearly 40 years of hysteria, I’m still waiting for scientific evidence that any percentage of cancers are related to the environment. [But] Boston University’s Dr. Richard Clapp once again has sounded the alarm about cancers caused by the environment..." (Steve Milloy at FoxNews.com)

"Foggy logic threatens Hansen's Kyoto alternative" - "Climate change guru Jim Hansen's recently announced plan of action -- an alternative to the Kyoto Protocol -- took a major step forward this week with the first meeting of climate researchers and U.S. government officials to openly discuss Mr. Hansen's strategy. Held in Washington, D.C., at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, the meeting included a number of prominent planners from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as Mr. Hansen himself. ... With the Kyoto Protocol negotiations coming to something of a head next month in The Hague, Mr. Hansen's alternative scenario proposal has been contentious, to say the least. In fact, the environmental community has gone ballistic over it. In his opening remarks, Mr. Hansen said he had been so misquoted and maligned that he would soon publish an open letter to his many critics, something a scientist does not often do." (David E. Wojick, National Post)

"Weather ‘not a threat’" - "WORLD prices, supplies of oils and minerals and deteriorating drainage systems are probably a bigger threat to the future of Scotland’s arable farming than weather, say scientists. Farmers who have struggled with this year’s wet harvest might disagree with that conclusion, but the handbook Crop production in the East of Scotland points out that late summer rainfall on the east coast has varied greatly over the past 40 years. That includes very dry years in the 1970s and 1990s and very wet ones in the early 1960s and 1985." (Scotsman)

"Kawaguchi justifies CO 2 effort" - "Environment Agency chief Yoriko Kawaguchi has praised Japan's global warming measures and hinted at the need for more action by the United States going into international climate change negotiations next month in the Netherlands." (Japan Times)

"Caught napping" - "The United States must break the OPEC cartel and contain the surging cost of fuel. It is now clear that these rises in energy costs could throw us into recession. The most important result of this election may turn out to be whether the United States continues the irrational Clinton-Gore policies that have reduced domestic production or whether we act decisively to tap our own large reserves in an environmentally safe manner." (Peter Sessions, Washington Times)

Affordable energy, yes - but don't forget there's such a thing as too cheap. If there's inadequate profit in supply of the commodity then no one's going to supply it. There's profit available now and:

"Oil prices have US scrounging for supplies" - "Almost every drilling rig in the nation is in use as industry redoubles exploration." (CSM)

"Fueling the Internet’s factories" - "TUKWILA, Wash., Oct. 19 —  At the key crossing points of the Internet, bundles of cable branch out into office buildings and weave their way through cabinets packed with servers and routers and switches. These are the factories of the New Economy, gobbling up megawatts of power to support millions of dollars worth of e-commerce. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the New Economy doesn’t make the environmental dilemmas of the manufacturing era disappear. In fact, the market for 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week data services is growing rapidly, and managing these huge new electrical appetites is a major challenge." (MSNBC)

"U.S. says has enough heating oil for East Coast" - "U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said today Washington believes it has enough heating oil stocks to avert supply problems on the East Coast this winter. Heating oil stocks in the U.S. Northeast — the biggest regional user of the fuel — are 70 percent below last year, while national inventories are off 36 percent." (Reuters)

"Natural gas prices could jump by 20%, experts warn" - "A cold winter could send natural gas prices "through the roof," consumer advocates are predicting. Natural-gas users have already been dealt four significant price hikes since 1999 -- including a 33-per-cent increase in July -- but BC Gas is hinting there may be another increase on the way. Residents should brace themselves for a 20-per-cent hike, warns Richard Gathercole, executive director for the B.C. Public Interest Advocacy Centre. Gathercole -- a lawyer who has represented pensioners, consumers and other groups at B.C. Utility Commission hearings over the past 15 years -- expects the increase to hit the Lower Mainland by January.

Here's something you don't see in print very often:

"Right now, everyone in the natural gas industry is crossing their fingers, hoping that global warming works and we have a warm winter," Gathercole quipped. "If we have a cold winter, the prices are really going to go through the roof." (Vancouver Sun)

"Gore and Bush vie for the car vote" - "DETROIT —  Nowhere would the prospect of sharply higher gasoline prices and mandated cuts in greenhouse gas emissions have a more direct impact in the United States than in Michigan, where 274,000 people work in the auto industry. Michigan is not only the home of the U.S. industry, its 18 electoral votes make it crucial to Al Gore and George W. Bush in the presidential election." (MSNBC)

"Al Gore’s Global Auto Plan" - "Al Gore is the first presidential candidate to regard the automotive industry as a threat to civilization. According to his 1992 book Earth in the Balance, our minivans and sport utility vehicles, light trucks and sedans, represent “a mortal threat to the security of every nation that is more deadly than that of any military enemy we are ever again likely to confront.” (Detroit News)

"The Hypercar trip to energy neverland" - "Amory Lovins first achieved fame in the 1970s as the guru of small, renewable, decentralized energy: the "Soft Path," a windmill on every rooftop, a biogas digester in every backyard. By the year 2000, he predicted, the United States would produce 35% of its commercial energy "softly." How wrong was he? Calculated generously, by a factor of 10. Mr. Lovins continues to be hired as an advisor by numerous multinational corporations, national governments and international agencies. But his emphasis has changed. He has gone from anti-nuclear Luddite to technological fantasist. In particular, he is father of the "Hypercar," a concept he liked so much that he slapped a trademark on it." (Peter Foster, National Post)

"Anti-pollution program costs soar" - "It seemed like a good idea in Arizona where the capital city's skyline is almost always obscured by a brown cloud of pollution. The state would sweeten existing incentives to encourage Phoenix residents to buy vehicles that use so-called clean fuels, such as natural gas, propane or electricity, and help clean the air. But the program proved too popular: So many residents rushed to take advantage of the tax breaks offered by the state that the program's costs have spiraled nearly out of control." (AP)

"One in Three Americans Would Pay More for Clean Power" - "WASHINGTON, DC, October 19, 2000 (ENS) - A significant minority of Americans are willing to pay an additional 20 percent for clean energy, according to a survey by the consulting firm of Deloitte & Touche. One third of respondents in a national survey said they are "not willing at all" to pay a premium, while 14 percent said they are "very willing" and 12.2 percent answered that they are "somewhat willing" to pay an extra 20 percent." (ENS)

CV (Contingent Valuation) surveys may not provide much useful information. Hypothetical willingness to pay tends to greatly exceed actual willingness: Green space no guarantee of greenbacks.

"US bill to boost ethanol, ban MTBE appears dead" - "WASHINGTON - With just a few days left in Congress, a bill to ban the controversial fuel additive MTBE and potentially triple demand for ethanol appears to be dead, industry and congressional sources said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"GM foods debate rages on" - "Denver - Supporters liken genetically-engineered foods to superheroes poised to obliterate disease and make the world a better place. Skeptics call these products "Frankenfoods," a reference to the infamous experiment gone awry. Regardless of their point of view, scientists gathered at the American Dietetic Association's annual meeting here agreed that genetic engineering will dramatically alter the way food is produced, utilised and consumed around the globe." (News 24)

"Dinosaurs, dodos ... crop-dusters?" - "On a breezy afternoon here in the heart of the Corn Belt, the only thing flying at Agri-Tech Aviation is the orange wind sock. The grass landing strip, cut between fields of soybean and corn, is empty, and two of the company's three spray planes sit idle in hangers. The third is in Texas - the first time Iowa's oldest and largest crop-dusting operation has had to send an aircraft out of state for business. The nose dive wasn't caused by any of the usual suspects - drought or low prices, although they played a role - but by a high-tech invader: genetically altered crops." (CSM)

"Seeds of dissent" - "Is the party over for genetically modified crops? Some scientists are afraid it might be. But molecular biologist Richard Jefferson thinks the GM revolution is only just warming up. Jefferson heads CAMBIA, a non-profit plant biotechnology research centre in Canberra. Thirteen years after conducting the world's first release of a transgenic food crop, Jefferson, 44, is turning conventional ideas about plant genetics on their head. For instance, he says you can get top-quality GM crops without introducing foreign genes into plants. Or, wait for it, that sequencing genes of plants like rice or maize is a waste of time. Ehsan Masood spoke to the man who's challenging researchers to think smarter." (New Scientist)

"Behind the biotech push: world hunger" - "On the face of it, farming's biotech revolution is wavering. As hearings on reapproval of genetically engineered crops begin this week in the United States, protesters have stepped up their attacks. Farmers have slowed the rate at which they're adopting the new crops. And industry missteps, such as the widening scandal over nonapproved modified corn showing up in taco shells and other food, has done nothing to reassure consumers. But quietly, another biotech push is gathering momentum that may prove unstoppable. Universities and nonprofit research organizations are pressing ahead to genetically engineer hardier crops and more nutritious food for the world's poor. And while the US and Europe bicker over how to regulate these new crops, several developing countries are forging ahead with research that could lead to dramatic transformation of agriculture in poor countries." (CSM)

"Monarchs Fluttering Through World of New Perils" - "As millions of butterflies head for wintering grounds, scientists argue over the effects of bioengineered corn and other modern developments." (LA Times)

"Stop This Butterfly Nonsense!" - "Greenpeace and the Center for Food Safety intend to sue the Environmental Protection Agency "for its failure to protect endangered species from gene-altered crops." Greenpeace says, "EPA has had its head in the sand since it learned that genetically engineered corn could be killing monarch butterflies. There are at least 20 other endangered or threatened butterflies that could be at risk from the unexpected side-effects of genetically engineered crops. But, instead of listening to scientists' warnings, EPA just burrows its head deeper." Of all the nanny attempts to disparage genetically improved foods, this one has to be the most ridiculous. First, genetically engineered corn is not killing monarch butterflies. According to the University of Kansas' "Monarch Watch" program, the monarch population actually increased from 66.6 million in 1998 to 108.6 million in 1999. Second, even the scientists who did the research on monarch butterfly deaths as related to genetically improved corn say the conditions of the test would never actually occur in nature, only in a laboratory. Further field tests found a minimal risk if any to monarchs or other type of butterflies. Third, monarch butterflies are not endangered. They aren't even listed as candidates for the endangered species list. It's time for the nannies to leave the butterflies alone." (GuestChoice.com)

"Biotech Corn in Various Foods" - "Millions of bushels of genetically engineered corn approved only for animal use have made their way into the human food supply chain, officials said yesterday, raising the possibility that the corn will be found in a wide array of foods. As a result, industry and federal officials are working to find the corn and buy it back before it's made into more taco shells and chips, corn flakes and other corn products." (Washington Post)

Taco Terrorism

"Business As the Target" - "Vice President Al Gore apparently believes he has hit upon the formula that will propel him to the presidency: take credit for a prosperity he didn't create while viciously attacking the institution that did, American business. In fact, despite today's historic business-led expansion, three out of four candidates--Ralph Nader, Pat Buchanan and Al Gore--have made business-bashing themes the centerpieces of their campaigns." (Thomas J. Donahue, Washington Post)

"FDA Panel Urges Ban on OTC Drug Ingredient" - "GAITHERSBURG, Md. - An ingredient in cold remedies and weight-loss drugs used by millions of Americans is linked to a higher risk of strokes and should be banned from over-the-counter drug products, a U.S. advisory panel said Thursday. The ingredient, phenylpropanolamine (PPA), is used in dozens of products such as Dexatrim for weight loss and cough and cold medicines such as Dimetapp. The panel, a group of experts that advises the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said the low risk of strokes in people age 18 to 49 appeared elevated, although still small, among people who took products containing PPA." (Reuters)

"Born addicts" - "THE more painkillers a woman gets during labour, the more likely her child is to abuse drugs later in life. Karin Nyberg of the University of Gothenburg and her colleagues looked at medication given to the mothers of 69 adult drug abusers and 33 of their siblings who did not abuse drugs. They found that 23 per cent of the drug abusers were exposed to multiple doses of opiates or barbiturates in the hours before birth, compared with only 3 per cent of their siblings without drug problems (Epidemiology, vol 11, p 715). If the mothers received three or more doses, their child was nearly five times as likely to abuse drugs." (New Scientist)

"Cyclists get scrotal trauma warning" - "Male mountain-bikers, who spend hours cycling over rough terrain are suffering a painful problem that could leave them at higher risk of testicular cancer, researchers have found. A study published in The Lancet today shows 96 per cent of mountain-bikers suffered from scrotal abnormalities and were also three times more likely to suffer from sperm containing cysts than non-cyclists." (Independent)

'Green tea "lowers cholesterol"' - "CSIRO studies have shown that antioxidants in green tea can lower cholesterol in rabbits by increasing the amount of a liver protein that works to clear cholesterol from the blood. Although research overseas has already linked green tea consumption with lower cholesterol levels, the CSIRO results are the first to identify the mechanism responsible. Senior Research Scientist Dr Paul Roach says green tea's high concentration of strong antioxidants called catechins increase the liver's LDL receptors, a major mechanism for cholesterol control." (CSIRO)

"Children likely to live shorter lives than their parents" - "The life expectancy of some of today's children will be years shorter than their parents' if current trends of poor diet and lack of exercise continue, Yvette Cooper, the Public Health minister, will warn today. Ms Cooper, who is speaking at the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association Conference in Harrogate, will outline the Government's increasing concerns about the poor state of children's health and diet. "The health problems that children have in their early years can haunt them for the rest of their lives," she will say." (Independent)

"As Children Grow Fatter, Researchers Try to Find Solutions" - "... The statistics on fat children are not encouraging. From 1976 to 1980, the National Center for Health Statistics reported, 6.5 percent of children ages 6 to 11 were overweight, defined as heavier than 95 percent of children of the same age in population studies in the 1960's and 1970's. A decade later, that fraction had nearly doubled. From 1990 to 1994, the center said, 11.4 percent of children in that age group were overweight." (Gina Kolata, NY Times)

"'Growing fears' over mad cow disease" - "Concern about contracting the human form of mad cow disease has risen sharply in Scotland over the past year, according to new research." [UK beef safer than French?] (BBC Online)

"EU proposes tough new livestock processing laws" - "BRUSSELS - The European Commission yesterday proposed banning all animal materials except those fit for human consumption from use in livestock feed, drugs and other industrial products. Under the plans, which must be approved by EU governments and the European Parliament, potentially diseased animal carcases could not be processed into feed, pharmaceutical products or used for other purposes, such as the manufacture of glue, a Commission official said." (Reuters)

"Eczema treatment found to head off onset of asthma" - "Treating young children who have eczema with large daily doses of a certain antihistamine could stop many of them going on to develop asthma, a worldwide study has found. About 70 per cent of babies with atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, will go on to develop asthma by the age of five, a separate Melbourne study has found. But the first study found that when such babies were treated with two daily doses of the antihistamine cetirizine, only half of them went on to develop asthma." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Bare-breasted poet takes on loggers" - "A California performance artist has launched what she hopes will be a new women's movement against logging ancient redwoods — baring her breasts and reciting poetry to stunned timber crews." (Reuters)

October 19, 2000

"Ontario may doom climate-change deal" - "A key federal-provincial accord on climate change may now be worthless after Ontario, the biggest emitter of the greenhouse gases believed to cause global warming, refused to sign the deal. Officials from other jurisdictions were furious with the province, having argued late into Monday night to try to bring it onside. Environment Minister David Anderson said Ontario's refusal to sign puts the country in a tough position heading into a key conference next month in The Hague." (GAM) [Montreal Gazette]

But David, not everybody wants to drive the economy over a cliff.

"Canada fails in reducing emissions" - "TORONTO -- A national attempt to reduce industrial emissions of greenhouse gases has "utterly failed," says a global-warming watchdog group. Just 115 of the more than 700 industries and utility companies registered with a federal government "voluntary challenge" have reported up-to-date information on greenhouse-gas emissions, says a report by the Pembina Institute, obtained in advance by the Toronto Star. In many cases, emissions have actually gone up among program participants." (CP) [Environmentalists blast Ontario]

Well gosh! They're just like the rest of the industrialised world after all.

"Canada offers one-off relief for heating expenses" - "OTTAWA - Canadian Finance Minister Paul Martin said yesterday Ottawa would provide a one-off tax relief package worth C$1.35 billion ($890 million) to help lower-income families cope with higher heating costs this winter. ... "The quality of our individual lives is deeply rooted in the quality of the environment we share - in clean air and clean water," he told Parliament." (Reuters)

Forgot one bit - the quality of our individual lives is deeply rooted in not freezing our butts off in the dark. Affordable energy is immensely important to quality of life and Kyoto has no function other than to deny that.

"Lieberman holds environment dear" - "Democratic vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman said today that to him and Al Gore, protecting the environment is "a matter of faith." (AP)

Yes and it's precisely the quality of evangelical zealotry that makes it so terrifying.

"Al Gore’s Reckless Auto Agenda" - "Never before has a presidential election carried such enormous consequences for the automotive industry. Al Gore is the first major party candidate to make environmental regulation a central organizing principle of his political agenda. His election threatens to expose Detroit to unparalleled government interference." (Detroit News)

'Clearing the air' - "In July 1997, Vice President Al Gore thought he had just the right setting to speak up for the environment and its human inhabitants. With a heat wave for a backdrop and an asthmatic Takoma Park boy as a prop, he strode to a White House podium to support new rules reducing smog. "[W]e're moving forward on our greatest challenge," he said, "and that is to provide a better and safer and healthier world for our children and their children to come." Neither he nor his protégé at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Carol Browner, mentioned that there was little scientific evidence to justify the rule. Nor did either mention that just the day before, the Clinton administration had turned down the request of a Virginia environmental official that could have reduced smog levels during the heat wave: Call off the federal government for a day. Let nonessential federal workers stay home and off the highways, much as the feds do during snow emergencies. The federal government declined, saying it would cost taxpayers $73 million to give workers the day off. So much for the health of asthmatic children." (Ken Smith, Washington Times)

"Researchers uncover secret to mass extinction events" - "ANN ARBOR---Some 34 million years ago, almost 90 percent of the tiny, shell-bearing sea creatures living along the U.S. Gulf Coast were wiped out and replaced by completely new species of shellfish or mollusks. The same pattern was occurring worldwide, marking the largest global mass extinction since the dinosaurs disappeared. Until now, the cause behind the mass extinction event was a mystery. Using a new technique that is revolutionizing the way scientists study ancient climate and temperature change, researchers at the University of Michigan and Syracuse University showed that colder winters along the Gulf Coast resulted in the mass extinction at what is known in geological time as the Eocene/Oligocene boundary." (Syracuse University News Services)

Oh-oh, mass extinction from global climate change. No, not global warming - cooling killed them off.

"Penguin poo points to climate shift: scientists" - "Chinese scientists sifting through ancient penguin droppings believe the Earth went through a deep chill that lasted more than a thousand years." (AAP)

"Cold From Little Ice Age Also Chilled Caribbean Sea" - "The "Little Ice Age," a six-century-long cold spell over most of Europe, also chilled the tropical waters of the Caribbean Sea more than scientists previously thought, according to a new study of corals. The study of chemical isotopes trapped by tropical corals as much as 300 years ago may also show that the tropical climate is less stable and more prone to wide, long-term swings of natural warming and cooling than previously supposed. Research results published this week in Geophysical Research Letters show that during the heart of a cold spell known as the "Little Ice Age," the Caribbean Sea around Puerto Rico was as much as two to three degrees Celsius (from 3.6 to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) cooler than at present. This is surprising, says Dr. John Christy, because other recent research had suggested to climate scientists that effects of the Little Ice Age were largely limited to Europe and the area around the North Atlantic. "Our result would tend to indicate that the effects of the Little Ice Age were much more widespread than previously thought, extending all the way into the tropics," said Christy, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). "The paleoclimate models have always assumed that in the tropical part of the world the climate is very stable, and that natural climate changes from one century to the next were very small." (UniSci)

Christy's a very polite fellow isn't he? In fact, the attempt to redefine the LIA as a localised phenomenon has been hotly contested and flies in the face of proxies derived in the Antarctic, Australia, South America, Central America, Sargasso Sea (Central Atlantic), East Africa, China, Siberia and Greenland. That's localised - they're all places on planet Earth. Here's a graph of the Sargasso Sea surface temperature reconstruction over the last 3,000 years from Science Journal - four years ago.

"Germany sees pioneer role on global warming" - "BERLIN - Germany announced new measures yesterday to ensure it becomes one of the few industrial nations to fulfil promised cuts in the "greenhouse gases" blamed for global warming, and urged the rest of the world to follow. "We shall make sure Germany maintains its top position on climate protection," Environment Minister Juergen Trittin said, forecasting that Germany would meet its pledge of cutting emissions 21 percent from 1990 levels by 2010. Trittin urged governments meeting at a United Nations environment conference in the Hague next month to ensure they kept promises contained in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide." (Reuters)

Oh dear! All the easy "emission cuts" resulting from the closure of old and "dirty" former East German industry following reunification are long behind them and yet, according to reports, Germany has no hope of meeting its "commitments". Perhaps it's just as well that Kyoto has no real prospect of meeting the 55/55 rule required to bring it into binding force.

"The greenhouse effect isn't so bad after all" - "The widespread view that global warming is a major threat to mankind has some fundamental flaws, writes Larry Mounser." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Germany aiming to wean itself from oil dependence" - "BERLIN - Germany wants to reduce its exposure to rising oil prices by sharply reducing its dependence on oil-based fuels by 2005, Environment Minister Juergen Trittin said yesterday. The world's third largest economy relies on oil for around 40 percent of its energy needs. Recent surges in the price of oil have prompted the government to look at ways it can offset potential economic damage from long-term price rises. Trittin, a leader of the ecologist Greens party, said the government was committed to improving energy efficiency and promoting renewable fuel forms that would result in a corresponding drop in its oil reliance by 2005. "It will fall very, very strongly during this period," Trittin told a news briefing detailing targets for use of "green" power forms and presenting a multi-billion mark (dollar) nationwide building insulation scheme. He declined to quantify what proportion of Germany's total energy needs would be covered by oil by then." (Reuters)

Zo, we expect to see wind-powered vehicles whizzing along the Autobahn then Juergen?

"Big regulations for the big rigs" - "For most of this year, American consumers have been battered by record increases in the price of oil — paying more for gasoline at the pump, more for airline tickets, and soon more for home heating oil. But never fear — Congress has finally taken action. Rejecting such common-sense ideas as reducing fuel taxes or easing costly regulations, the House of Representatives last week passed legislation requiring trucking companies to pass on the increased cost of fuel to their customers. Yep, that's right. After months of deliberation, the House finally zeroed in on the real problem — some companies just aren't charging their customers enough money." (James Gattuso, Washington Times)

Is the world running out of oil? Alan Caruba thinks not in this week's Warning Signs.

"Trial Over Huge Offshore Deposit of DDT Begins" - "Kicking off one of the largest and longest-delayed environmental trials in the nation, government and industry attorneys battled Tuesday over who is to blame for DDT that has been harming bald eagles and marine life off Southern California for the past five decades." (LA Times)

Hmm... see 100 things you should know about DDT; Facts versus fears: DDT

"Sheep dip 'victims' told to drop action" - "FARM workers who claimed that they had been injured by exposure to sheep dip have been advised by their lawyers to drop their legal action against employers and manufacturers of the insecticide. Patrick Allen, their solicitor, said the claimants had been unable to prove the link between their symptoms and the organophosphates contained in the dips, which are designed to kill mites, lice, ticks and other parasites. He advised them that their claims had "poor prospects of success". (Telegraph)

Translation: definite proof against - tort crashes and burns.

"Pesticide Awareness Grows in The UK, So Do Complaints" - "LONDON, United Kingdom, October 18, 2000 - Complaints over the use of pesticides have soared by 70 percent in the UK, according to figures released by the Health and Safety Executive on Tuesday."  (ENS)

If they're all so fired up about pesticides it makes you wonder why they aren't a lot keener on biotech-enhanced crops.

"Inquiry warned over milk from GM-fed cows" - "A scientist giving evidence at a public inquiry into a genetically modified (GM) maize intended for animals has said he would not drink the milk of cows fed on it." (Independent)

Uh... just what lab tests were done on any of the forage crops introduced to the UK over the last couple of centuries? Weren't there "statistically significant" differences between these and native forage - oh, no one could know could they? There are "statistically significant" differences between all varieties of maize and even the same variety grown in different soils or under different conditions but that doesn't mean the milk from cows eating it is suspect.

Like all living creatures, humans are chemical engines and we survive by ingesting, rearranging and excreting a wide variety of chemical compounds. Many of the compounds we ingest are toxic to some degree but we have evolved mechanisms to deal with this. If changes in the composition of foodstuffs were particularly hazardous then we would not have survived seasonally available food for example. We have evolved as opportunistic omnivores, able to take advantage of almost any food resource and thrived because we have the ability to utilise different resources. Just because we are now able to detect minute differences in resources doesn't make us any less able to utilise them. What a peculiarly fearful age we live in.

"GM inquiry starts on sensible note" - "The keenly awaited Royal Commission on Genetic Modification has begun in the best possible way. On the first day of hearings, two of the "big six" multinationals doing genetic research conceded there could be no absolute guarantee of safety. There was, they pointed out, no such guarantee in any human endeavour. It ought to go without saying - but it needed to be said, and said right at the outset of this inquiry, because a great deal of popular distrust of science and technology has been whipped up by impossible demands for absolute assurance of safety. Fears of everything from cereals to cellphone towers have been fanned because responsible scientists will not deny that even negligible harm can happen." (NZ Herald)

Sigh... "Govt. Said To Violate Species Act" - "WASHINGTON — Groups opposed to genetically engineered crops accused the government of violating the Endangered Species Act in considering whether to renew licenses for gene-altered crops that are toxic to insects. The groups, which notified the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday of their intent to sue the agency, said the crops may harm a number of endangered insects such as the Karner Blue butterfly, sometimes found near corn fields. Registrations for several varieties of genetically engineered corn and cotton are due to expire next year. The EPA has been gathering research data and consulting with a panel of scientists about the impact of the crops on human health and the environment. In a preliminary assessment released last month, the agency concluded there was little risk to butterflies or any other insects which the toxin is not supposed to harm. A three-day meeting by the agency's scientific advisory panel began Wednesday in Arlington, Va. Under the Endangered Species Act, the EPA would be required to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service and to take actions to protect the threatened species from the crops." (AP)

The comparison is not (or rather, should not) be between plants engineered to express another pesticide and an absence of pesticides but between pesticide sprayed and engineered crops to determine relative risk to the pretty butterflies. Looking at the wrong data won't help will it?

Why did I say express another pesticide? For good reason actually. Any plant not eaten out of existence must be expressing some defences against predators. Defences against insects mostly fall into two groups, toxins - to poison consumers - and gums to foul and obstruct the "chewing gear" of consumers. Consumers are constantly adapting their efforts to defeat plants' defences and plants that survive the assault and propagate are those with the most effective defences. 99.9% of the pesticides in our diet are all-singing, all-dancing, all-natural plant-expressed product.

"FEATURE - Austria and its untapped "white gold"" - "VIENNA - If you believe that water will join oil as one of this century's most valuable commodities, then Austria and its bottomless reserves will be the next Saudi Arabia. With the world's population forecast to explode to 8.5 billion in the next 25 years from six billion now, drinkable water is becoming scarcer as worldwide demand increases twice as fast as population growth. Apocalyptic statistics already paint a bleak picture - every three seconds a child dies from an illness caused by insufficient water supply, according to the United Nations." (Reuters)

That water quality is a huge problem in the developing world is quite true and the toll is horrendous. Moves to alleviate the problem are not well received though: India Court Ruling a Blow to Dam Protesters. Despite significant opposition, China is bringing its Three Gorges project online and has just announced the opening of one of the main electricity transmission lines. Reliable water and energy supplies enable wealth generation, which is good for both the society, for obvious reasons of being able to support its citizenry, and the environment, because only societies able to generate surplus beyond their immediate needs can afford the luxury of environmental protection and repair. Regrettably, this is a point lost on the conservation fraternity.

Real environmental disaster: "Brazil's coffee flowering causes increased concern" - "RIO DE JANEIRO - Persistent dry weather across Brazil's coffee areas is harming the development of next crop's flowers whose first appearance on trees last month was already less than impressive, farmers said yesterday." (Reuters)

"Africa's emerging virus threat" - "Many of the most frightening illnesses to emerge in the modern era appear to have originated from Africa. But scientists are still unsure why these previously unknown illnesses have emerged from different parts of the continent." (BBC Online)

"Ford passed up chance to improve Explorer" - "LOS ANGELES -- Ford Motor Co., whose Explorer sport utility vehicles have endured a rash of tire-related rollover accidents, passed up a chance to improve the vehicle's stability during a major redesign in the mid-1990s, according to a newspaper report. A new suspension system installed in 1995 and later model Explorers could have lowered the vehicle's center of gravity by lowering the engine height, according to memos by Ford engineers obtained by the Los Angeles Times. The company decided to keep the original engine position, in part, to hold down redesign costs and to preserve profit margins of nearly 40 percent on the popular Explorer, documents said." (AP)

"Safety concerns arise over in-car 'telematics' systems" - "DETROIT (October 18, 2000 9:30 a.m. EDT http://www.nandotimes.com) - As the auto industry rushes to sell car buyers on the marvels of in-car computers and Internet access, questions about the safety of such systems have yet to be answered. ... "At this point, safety and human factors efforts lag far behind electronics development," wrote Paul Green, a senior research scientist at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, in a paper being presented Thursday. "If action is not taken a significant number of information system-related deaths and injuries will result." (AP)

Ah yes, the ol' "human factors"... Better mandate the reengineering of people then.

"Side-effects worry over drug to quit smoking" - "A spate of people having fits and seizures while taking the new anti-smoking drug Zyban has raised concern among doctors about its safety. The Department of Health said it was monitoring all adverse effects of the drug, and seizures were one of the known side-effects. The non-nicotine drug, which helps smokers give up, has been available in Britain since June." (Independent) [Telegraph]

"Junk food report" - "Build food banks for the poor and they will come. That is the real lesson to draw from two new studies purporting to show that Canada suffers from epidemic rates of hunger seen only in the Third World. The first study, published by the Canadian Association of Food Banks (CAFB), sought to show that traffic at more than 700 food banks across the country this past March rose 1.4% from the year before. That is interesting but hardly worth fretting about. Canada's population grew 0.8% in the same time period. The 0.6% difference is marginal -- and much of it can be attributed to the fact that the number of food banks has skyrocketed in recent years. The vast majority of universities in Canada -- whose students reflect a significantly higher socio-economic income than the country at large -- now boasts a food bank. This despite the fact that bursaries for poor students have risen substantially in the last five years to aid the poorest students. And even if there are more people visiting food banks, that does not mean they visit them more frequently than in the past." (National Post)

"Wrinkle cream is pap, says Roddick" - "THE notion that anti-ageing creams can remove wrinkles is "complete pap", Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop empire, said yesterday. She accused the cosmetics industry of perpetuating a "scandalous lie". Mrs Roddick said that moisturisers made the skin more supple. But it was nonsense to suggest that the antidote to ageing could be found in a pot of cream." (Telegraph)

"U.S. Declares 500,000 Acres Critical Habitat for 2 Species" - "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared Tuesday that more than 500,000 acres of prime Southern California real estate stretching from Los Angeles to the Mexican border is critical habitat for the tiny California gnatcatcher bird and the San Diego fairy shrimp. The ruling means developers and road builders will face another layer of government scrutiny that could cause delays and add possibly billions of dollars in new costs. The long-fought decision follows years of legal battles and appeared to satisfy no one." (LA Times)

"Gulf War illness 'rank related'" - "Gulf War veterans from the lower ranks are more likely to have suffered poor health since their return, according to research." (BBC Online) [BMJ release]

October 18, 2000

By the numbers, fall ill! "Gulf war syndrome 'hits lower ranks'" - "LOWER-RANKING Gulf war veterans are more likely to suffer ill health than colleagues who served above them, doctors say today. Privates were 20 per cent more likely to report poor health than non-commissioned officers and 70 per cent more likely to do so than officers. ... Explaining the reasons for this association, Dr Ismail pointed to socio-economic factors, which reflect the health trends seen in the civilian population where ill health is greater among the less affluent. She said: "It is unlikely that rank is a proxy for exposures such as organophosphate pesticides, chemical weapons or immunisations as most personnel, regardless of rank, could have been exposed where there was any exposure. "It is more appropriate to consider rank as a proxy indicator of socio-economic status, which is associated with both psychological and physical morbidity in civilian populations." (Telegraph)

"AC Vs DC Current, GM Vs Non-GM Crops" - "In the last two years, the debate over the value of GM foods has turned into a war of sentiment, where the scientific perspective is often lost in an overload of calculatedly shocking imagery. These tactics, though, are not particularly novel. In the 1880s, Nikola Tesla first developed alternating current (AC), a safer and more economical means of delivering electricity than direct current (DC). Thomas Edison, who had invested heavily in the development of DC, began a campaign to demonstrate the "hazards" of AC use. He electrocuted small animals using AC in public demonstrations and later designed the first electric chair, which also used AC. Eventually, Tesla was driven out of business, and Edison became a key player in the commercialization of AC." (BKC's global roundup October 2000)

"Power Plant Pollution Linked to 30,000 Premature Deaths Each Year" - "WASHINGTON, DC, October 17, 2000 - Pollution generated by U.S. power plants is responsible for cutting short the lives of over 30,000 Americans each year, more deaths than are caused by murderers or drunk drivers." (ENS)

Who says?

"Clear the Air, a national clean air campaign funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, was one of several environmental groups to spearhead the drafting of the report. Also involved were the Clean Air Task Force, the National Environmental Trust, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and the National Campaign Against Dirty Power."

Oooh... 'nough said.

Air quality is always a big talking point - so, where was the world's greatest amount of smoke and particulate "pollution" early October? Click here to find out.

"Ironing out global warming" - "An international research team headed out to sea last year and sprinkled 8,663 kilograms of iron into the waters southwest of Tasmania. The eight-kilometre-wide patch of the Southern Ocean blossomed -- or bloomed, as oceanographers put it -- as tiny algae and phytoplankton flourished in the enriched waters. A month later, the bloom was visible by satellite as a green ribbon 150 kilometres long and four kilometres wide. By the time it dispersed two weeks later, the organisms had sucked as much as 3,000 tonnes of carbon into the sea from the atmosphere." (National Post)

Uh... great experiment fellas - worked real good... it's just... well, why are you doing it? Increase, or, more correctly, recovery in atmospheric carbon dioxide is responsible for at least 10% of global crop yield increase and this is particularly important to impoverished regions exhibiting dramatic population growth. Taking CO2 out of the atmosphere is stealing food off their plates. Like I said, great experiment - just, well... don't do it any more, alright?

Oh dear! "Global warming may cause a threat to aviation: expert" - "KARACHI (October 18) : A senior Pakistan research scientist and expert in aviation field, Dr Pervez Habibullah, said here on Tuesday that global warming can cause dangers to aviation all over the world including Pakistan. Talking to APP here on Tuesday, the Pakistani expert, with a background in the aviation field said that he has started a research project to evaluate the effects of global warming on aviation. "The variation of wind speed will affect the lift on which the aeroplane glides, so in next half century either the design of the plane has to be changed or a new means of air transport is to be discovered," he argued." (APP)

Ahem... granted aviators don't appreciate hot-and-high airfields because less-dense air means you need to fly faster to achieve the same lift with a given airframe. Even at the extreme end of the IPCC's fantasy scenarios, we're talking maybe +4.0°C mean temperature rise, almost none in the tropics but more in cooler regions. So, any airplane capable of flying from say, Boston to Miami without falling out of the sky now would be a perfectly suitable design even if the dreaded warming did occur. It must be hoped that there are HUGE translation errors in this piece.

"Let's Get Serious? Let's Get Real!" - "The world needs to get serious about managing the exponential growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide."   So begins the directive from on high.  No, it is not Deity speaking; it is the opening salvo of the first of two Policy Forum articles devoted to the subject of Climate Change in the 29 September 2000 issue of Science magazine (Morgan, 2000; Baer et al., 2000). The way the double-barreled commandment is presented, it sounds as if the exponential growth of atmospheric CO2 were a self-evident truth that can only be neglected at the peril of the world.  But is this claim factual?   Or is it just another example of the gospel of deceit?" (co2science.org)

"Climate Change Shifts Frost Seasons & Plant Growth" - "COLLEGE PARK, Md. - An off-season "Jack Frost" is nipping life away from some plants in many regions of the country according to a recent University of Maryland paper featured in this month's issue of Ecology Letters. David Inouye, Maryland's professor of biology, has found that global climate change influences early and late frost events, which inhibit growth and possibly damage many plants. Climate change has also impacted animal populations that depend on plants that suffered frost damage. Inouye, who has studied global climate change impact on animal and plant life for over 20 years, suggests there is great evolutionary significance of frost in context of global warming that warrants further research." (UM)

Here's a good one. The enhanced greenhouse hypothesis (rightly) says that the effect will manifest itself as higher minimum nocturnal and winter temperatures (effect on maxima is small to non-existent for the simple reason that pushing more energy into a warm air mass increases vibrational excitation, reduces air density to the point that overcomes Earth's natural inversion layer and cooler, more-dense air above displaces less-dense warm air, convection takes over and, via a chaotic exchange, thermal energy is vented to space - i.e., hot air rises [duh!]. This is why the current contention that the atmosphere, showing no significant warming, is causing dramatic surface warming is such a crock - "bizarre misapplication of physics" works for me.) anyway, the crux of the effect is that cold air won't get so cold. Knowing this, the contention of earlier and later frosts is suggestive of a cooling rather than a warming and, indeed, may indicate global climate change - just not the dreaded "global warming" so over-hyped by media and scaremongers.

Do growing seasons vary? Sure, remember this? "... farmers have seen their growing season decline by about two weeks since 1950." ["The Cooling World" Newsweek, April 28, 1975, Pg. 64]. Since the mid-70s, growing seasons have extended by about 11 days, so things have recovered to roughly what they were in the 50s. Oh doom and gloom - the world is ... average?

"Carmakers and Gore differ on future of clean autos" - "WASHINGTON -- No exaggeration -- Al Gore really believes that Detroit automakers are "itching" and "raring" to start building cars and trucks with super-efficient and super-clean new powertrains. That, at least, was what his campaign said following last week's presidential debate, when the Democratic candidate twice said that new engine technologies will help save fuel, cut air pollution and relieve global warming." (Detroit News) [Henry Payne's comment]

"Mining global warming for votes" - "The latest presidential debate revealed to 40 million viewers that global warming is an issue on which the candidates have clear differences, both on policy and in the veracity of their responses. Gov. George W. Bush argued that "some of the scientists . . . have been changing their opinion a bit on global warming" and that we need a "full accounting" of the issue before creating policy." (Part Michaels in The Washington Times)

"High Cost of Gore’s Enviro Proposals" - "Al Gore’s proposal to force the nation to comply with the radical Kyoto Protocol could increase the price of gasoline another 66 cents a gallon and disrupt the U.S. economy. As winter sets in and Americans struggle to budget for extraordinarily high fuel costs at the gas pump and for home-heating oil, Vice President Al Gore, the Democratic presidential nominee, tells voters he is looking for a solution to the crisis. “I think that we need to get serious about this energy crisis, both in the Congress and in the White House, and if you entrust me with the presidency I will tackle this problem and focus on new technologies that will make us less dependent on big oil or foreign oil,” he told a national TV audience during his first debate against GOP presidential nominee George W. Bush. But “Presidential-Promises” Gore and “Environmental-Guru” Gore have a hard time meshing their messages." (Aimee Welch, Insight Magazine)

"The perverse puzzle of Kyoto" - "The bitter fruits of signing on to the scientifically dubious and practically impossible Kyoto Protocol are becoming ever more clear. Yesterday and today, federal and provincial environment ministers are meeting in Quebec City to point fingers over, assign blame for, or simply cover up our economy's inevitable failure to move toward the rash commitments of Kyoto, which would have Canada reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 6% below 1990 levels by 2012 (they are currently up by 13%)." (National Post)

"EU likely to miss Kyoto target, study claims" - "The European Union will miss a legally binding target to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions because it lacks the necessary policies to combat the greenhouse effect, a study published today said. The report by a Dutch and a German research group estimated the EU's CO2 emissions will increase by 7-8 percent of 1990 levels by 2010, compared to the eight percent reduction the EU agreed to in the 1997 U.N. Kyoto Protocol on climate change. The research bodies Ecofys and the Fraunhofer Institute looked at the likely impact of existing and planned environmental policies in six EU countries and found only one — Britain — was likely to meet its target. [ENDS]" (Reuters)

"Bush takes centrist stance on utility emission limits" - "Texas Gov. George W. Bush, striking a centrist stance on a key environmental issue, is proposing first-ever curbs on the emissions thought to cause global warming at the same time he rejects deep international emissions cutbacks negotiated by his rival for the presidency, Al Gore. Tucked away in the Republican nominee's comprehensive energy policy is a proposal to cap the carbon dioxide emissions of the nation's electric utilities for the first time — something that Mr. Gore so far has not proposed because of strident opposition to such restrictions in Congress." (Washington Times)

"The Need for Long-Term Glacier Mass Balance Data" - "The authors begin by noting there are over 200 glaciers for which mass balance data exist for at least one year.   When the length-of-record criterion is increased to five years, this number drops to 115; and if both winter and summer mass balances are required, the number drops to 79.   Furthermore, if ten years of record is used as a cutoff point, only 42 glaciers qualify; and more stringent requirements result in much lower numbers.   At the extreme record length of 50 years is the Storglaciaren of northern Sweden, which exhibited a negative mass balance of little trend for the first 15 years of record but which then began to trend upward, actually becoming positive over about the last decade." (co2science.org)

Now you know why we're so severe on claims of glacial meltdown - there is near-total absence of data on which to stake such claims and that which does exist is ambiguous.

"Six Thousand Years of Sea Level Change in the Southern Hemisphere" - "In the words of the authors, "whether or not sea level has been subject to low-amplitude fluctuations during the late Holocene (the last ~ 6000 years) is a subject that has taken on increased importance in view of claims of possible sea-level rise associated with human-induced global warming."   If, for example, sea-level has oscillated somewhat over this period (the authors say it could have had an oscillatory amplitude of one meter or more!), it is possible the sea-level's current rising mode may be nothing more than a small portion of a natural oscillation having nothing to do with the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content.  The authors' finding that this type of sea-level behavior is just as likely to be true as not thus casts a pall of suspicion over climate alarmist claims that the continued burning of fossil fuels will lead to the inundation of low-lying coastal areas and islands." (co2science.org)

"Scientist, Activist, Yogi?" - "IN 1994 A MOLECULAR BIOLOGIST named John Fagan made a few headlines when he returned a $613,882 grant from the National Institutes of Health rather than proceed with his genetic research at a little-known university in Fairfield, Iowa. Fagan said he feared the results of his genetic research could, in the wrong hands, be used to manipulate human DNA. Over the next two years Fagan wrote a book warning against the perils of genetic engineering, and toured the world speaking out against the use of genetically modified organisms in food. Genetically altered foods amounted to "a dangerous global experiment in which we are the guinea pigs," he told the Irish Times in 1996." (Forbes Magazine)

"Genome-health link explored in new study" - "Scientists call them "snips," short for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), the small differences in the human genome that make one person different from another. Researchers at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center are launching an extensive examination of those variations and how they affect our susceptibility to common health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure and asthma." (Seattle Times)

"Chemical Chameleon" - "IMMUNEX CHIEF EXECUTIVE EDWARD Fritzky thought he had a winner five years ago when he saw the first test results for a new drug for severe arthritis. He was right. Sales of the drug, Enbrel, are expected to hit $600 million in its second year on the market. But arthritis was just the start. Enbrel is now in tests for two dozen other diseases, from chronic heart failure to psoriasis to Alzheimer's and even some cancers. If a few pan out, Enbrel could become a world-class blockbuster. "This probably has the broadest potential of any biotech drug," Fritzky says." (Forbes magazine)

"Protesters try to halt rise of fast-food giant in Italy" - "Riot police were mobilised yesterday to protect McDonald's restaurants as thousands of demonstrators in 20 Italian cities declared war on the fast-food chain." (Guardian)

"Souped-up flu fighter" - "Good old-fashioned chicken soup - like your granny used to make - could have hidden powers to help cold and flu sufferers. According to a chest specialist from Nebraska, US, the broth has anti-inflammatory powers which could stem the flow of mucus that accumulates in the lungs and nasal passages." (BBC Online)

"Fatty diet helps cause breast cancer by killing nutrient, study shows" - "... A review of research on causes of breast cancer, by Dr Richard Wiseman, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, concludes that a diet high in fat is not likely to be a direct cause of the disease. But the indirect effect of such a diet depletes the breast of a protective factor. The main cause of breast cancer remains unknown. The American Public Health Association lists obesity, age over 30 at birth of first child, childlessness and radiation as the chief predisposing factors, but together they account for only 26 per cent of the risk." (Independent)

Hmm... the cause of three-fourths of breast cancers is unknown. There might be a single causal agent - but we don't know what it is... How, then, did Wiseman's study demonstrate that a fatty diet depletes an essential nutrient and that this is, in fact, causal? I must have missed something here.

"Smokers' wives have no increased breast cancer risk, study says" - "WASHINGTON (October 17, 2000 5:58 p.m. EDT http://www.nandotimes.com) - Smokers' wives are no more likely to become victims of breast cancer than are the wives of nonsmokers, according to a study of more than 146,000 women. The study, the largest ever to address the question of breast cancer death and second-hand smoking, contradicts some smaller studies that had suggested environmental tobacco smoke was a risk factor for breast cancer death." (AP)

"Breathless and unsettled" - "For years, there has been widespread recognition that the tort system is failing asbestos victims as well as the growing number of companies targeted in asbestos suits. This past March, the House Judiciary Committee approved "The Asbestos Compensation Act of 2000" — legislation that would finally reform out-of-control asbestos litigation. The bill would provide victims with fair and timely settlements while ensuring that company resources are not drained by illegitimate claims. The legislative clock has all but run out on moving the reform bill through Congress this year, which is bad news for victims, the defendant companies, and their employees whose jobs hang in the balance due to the financial uncertainty of companies targeted by asbestos lawyers. But the bad news has recently gotten worse as real reform is threatened by a very different approach that is currently gaining ground in the Congress." (Washington Times)

"Rising allergic problems concern doctors" - "LUCKNOW: Doctors have expressed concern over the rising allergic problems among the people worldwide, with 10 to 20 per cent of the population in the world suffering from such afflictions, on the occasion of the first ever `World Allergy Awareness Day' on Tuesday announced by the World Health Organisation (WHO)." (Times of India)

"Vacuuming battles asthma in the home" - "... It's the idea that something about home environments is responsible for the increasing prevalence, increasing severity, of asthma," explained Dr. Peyton Eggleston of Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University. "If we could change those home environments, could we reduce the asthma?" That sounds like a no-brainer: Determine your allergies, cleanse away triggers and surely you'll feel better. Hordes of "anti-allergy" products claim to do just that. Yet aside from dust-mite-resistant bed covers that are proven allergy aids, few of those unregulated products have been tested and some that have don't work, scientists say." (AP)

"If Diet & Exercise Fail, Blame Restaurants" - "The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is blaming obesity on the marketing practices of restaurants. "Value marketing has confused Americans about what a normal and appropriate portion of food should look like," said an AICR spokesperson. AICR called on consumers to force restaurants to change their marketing. "Food makers, marketers and restaurants are going to continue to compete for the American dollar. That means that portion sizes are going to continue to get bigger, and, unless we take action, so will we. At this point, the only way to inject a little sanity back into the discussion is for consumers to stand up and demand it. Tell them you don't want more for less. Tell them you want less for less -- less food for even less money." (GuestChoice.com)

"Set Olestra Free" - "The Detroit News editorializes that it is time for the Food and Drug Administration to remove warning labels from products containing olestra because there is no danger from the fat substitute. The only group that seems to be against removing the labels is the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Does the $20,000 CSPI received from the Helena Rubinstein Foundation in 1997 to vilify Olestra have something to do with its position? (GuestChoice.com)

"The National Nanny Serves Breakfast" - "RECENTLY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BEGAN AN experiment to test whether providing all children of all income levels a free breakfast at school will improve children's academic performance. The proponent of the study, Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), hopes its results will persuade her colleagues in Congress to approve a national free-breakfast program for public schools. Would it make me seem a curmudgeon to want to snatch the cereal bowl from the fingers of hungry children? So be it. I think this breakfast freebie is a rotten idea." (Jennifer Roback Morse, Forbes Magazine)

"Macabre Anti-Choice Message" - "People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals isn't waiting till Thanksgiving to start promoting its anti-meat holiday meals campaign, as it has in years past. The group is cranking up its anti-choice message with a tasteless Halloween commercial." (GuestChoice.com)

"Oil history 101: Price controls don't work" - "Now for a few words about oil prices and some helpful memories from the days of Richard Nixon as president, now almost three decades ago." (Ben Stein, USA Today)

"Road rage, reading - it's all part of driving" - "New York - There has been a lot of talk lately about the danger of talking on a cellphone while driving. But that is just one of the distracting things people do while behind the wheel. In a survey, 69 percent of the respondents confessed to eating while driving, and seven percent said they sometimes read a book or newspaper while on the move." (IOL)

"Firestone tire recall broadens" - "WASHINGTON - Firestone, a subsidiary of Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., yesterday recalled an additional 1.4 million tires, bringing the total in a series of recalls to almost eight million since the scandal broke. At least 150 deaths have been linked to Firestone tires, many of which were original equipment on the Ford Explorer. The recall is part of an agreement with 48 states and two territories. The fatalities have been mostly in warm weather states of the southern United States. Although tires are being recalled in Canada, there have been no fatalities linked to tire separation." (Financial Post)

"Memo: Ford Had Wrong Tires in Mideast" - "NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Ford Motor Co. has blamed Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. for equipping its vehicles with unsound tires, but the automaker shipped thousands of Explorers and Mountaineers to the Persian Gulf with tires that were not intended for that market — without the tire maker's approval, according to internal Ford documents. At least seven people in the Gulf region died in rollover accidents involving the sport utility vehicles with Firestone's 16-inch Wilderness AT tires, made for use on North American roads, before Ford quietly began replacing them last year with Goodyear tires." (AP)

"Cow's milk diabetes evidence mounts" - "More research suggests that certain children may be vulnerable to diabetes later in life after exposure to cow's milk while very young. The Finnish study looked at children who already have one close relative with type I diabetes." (BBC Online)

Evidence? Vaguely suggestive perhaps. All this says is that infants of diabetics are more likely to develop insulin antibodies but doesn't tell us whether exposure to bovine insulin is causal. We have no way of knowing whether this is a transient effect or whether it will later correlate to individuals who eventually develop type I diabetes.

"It is possible that in some genetically susceptible children, a continuous, even small-dose early exposure to bovine insulin in cow's milk may lead to loss of tolerance to insulin." True - it is also true that treatment of diabetics and improvement of their general health to the point they are able to have families is increasing the pool of genetically susceptible people and that cow's milk may be entirely irrelevant. To call it "evidence" is drawing a pretty long bow though.

"How the West was seized" - "Vice President Al Gore — Mr. Environmentalism, Mr. Encyclopedic Mind — went blank during the second presidential debate last week when challenged on one of the most alarming land issues facing the nation. Highlighting the difference in their approaches to environmental policy, Texas Gov. George W. Bush noted that the Clinton-Gore administration "took 40 million acres of land out of circulation without consulting local officials." They acted unilaterally out West, Mr. Bush said. Twice, he lodged the complaint. Twice, Mr. Gore blinked and grimaced and sat there speechless for a brief but telling moment. He had no sob stories to relate, no policy minutiae to spin, and no controlling legal authority to cite in defense of the White House's monumental federal land grab. Mr. Gore says he doesn't believe in command and control. Sigh. That is exactly the method of environmental preservation he and President Clinton have perpetrated over the past eight years." (Michelle Malkin in The Washington Times)

"French honey makers in a buzz over pesticides" - "PARIS - French honey makers yesterday demanded a ban on pesticides which they alleged were decimating the local bee population by making plants so toxic that even the slightest contact could damage the insects' nervous system." (Reuters)

"European Union Urged to Deal With Unsustainable Tourism" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium, October 16, 2000 (ENS) - Tourism is harming the environment across Europe according to a coalition of citizens' groups who want the European Union to form a sustainable tourism strategy. The coalition led by Austrian based Friends of Nature International issued a memorandum on Saturday, proposing charging by the kilometer for road use, increased landing and takeoff charges for flights under 800 kilometers (500 miles) and a tax on jet fuel."

Let's see... we get rid of those nasty extractive industries because tourism is so much nicer and is oh-so sustainable. We kill employment, get government money (they can always tax greedy capitalist citizens some more) to set up tourism ventures as a replacement for the employment lost when enterprise was removed... and then we set up punitive taxation schemes to discourage all those nasty tourists from going there. Presumably, this makes sense to someone.

"Physicians need to counsel patients about online health information" - "More people are using the Internet to find health information on their own and physicians and other medical professionals need to take a more active role in helping patients evaluate such online data, according to a study by doctors from Duke University Medical Center and an Illinois clinic. "What this tells me is more patients are getting information from the Web than physicians realize, and this should serve as a wake-up call to health care providers," said Dr. J. Barry O'Connor, a Duke gastroenterologist." (DUMC)

"Beating Hunger - The Biggest Prize" - "Last weekend in Des Moines, Iowa, two scientists were awarded the World Food Prize for creating a high-protein, high-yielding corn. Said that way it sounds a little boring. But the accomplishment is hardly dull. Five million children a year have a better chance to live because of what biochemist Evangelina Villegas of Mexico and plant geneticist Surinder Vasal of India have done." (James K. Glassman, Reason magazine)

"Childbirth Kills Angolan Mothers" - "LUANDA, Angola - At 22 with four children, Maria Ana Pinto had neither home nor husband. Survival pushed her to trade sex for protection and food. Unwanted pregnancy, abortion, infection, then death: Maria is a statistic in Angola, home to one of the world's highest maternal mortality rates and a decades-old civil war. She was one of 32 women who perish each day giving birth. Angola'a maternal mortality rate is about 1,850 for every 100,000 live births, one of the 10 worst in the world. The rate in western Europe is about seven per 100,000." (Reuters)

Makes you wonder what the developed world whinges about doesn't it?

"If you try to be happy, perhaps you will be" - "WHAT a gloomy bunch we are. According to a survey published on Monday, 10 per cent of us believe that we would be better off dead, a quarter see no hope for the future and no fewer than a third of us would describe ourselves as "downright miserable". Whatever is the matter with us? You would think that we should be happier than at any time in our history. All the figures tell us that Britons are living longer and healthier lives than ever before. We are eating better, we are richer and better housed, we have more and more machines to take the drudgery out of our work, and books, films, television programmes and foreign holidays galore to keep us amused." (Daily Telegraph)

See "Britons are miserable - it's official" in yesterday's postings

"The Great American Textbook Scandal" (David McClintick, Forbes Magazine)

October 17, 2000

"Alarming Discovery of a Harmful Chemical" - "A freshman at Eagle Rock Junior High urges people to sign this petition demanding strict control or total elimination of the chemical “dihydrogen monoxide” (Canola Country Newsletter - March 2000) See also the DHMO Homepage

"CDC to report on chemical exposure in U.S." - "Are chemicals leaching from toys and causing dangerous hormonal changes in American children? Are tiny traces of dioxins threatening the virility of American men? Will spraying pesticides to kill mosquitoes lead to an epidemic of cancer in future decades? A report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), due out in a few months, aims to start answering some of these questions. The National Exposure Report Card will tell scientists and the public how many Americans — and which ones — have unusually high levels of lead, pesticides and other undesirable substances in their blood. "We don't have anything remotely like this," Dr. James Pirkle, who is helping direct the study, told reporters. "It's like going from tricycles to Hondas." (Reuters)

Hmm... "US EPA advisory board calls diesel "soot" a carcinogen" - "WASHINGTON - A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency science advisory board has agreed with the agency's characterisation that diesel fuel exhaust is a "likely human carcinogen," according to an EPA official yesterday. The decision by the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee comes a few months before an expected decision by the EPA to make a final rule drastically cutting diesel pollution." (Reuters)

This could get interesting. Particulates determined LHC so a smoking truck driver with lung cancer couldn't claim smoking causal since it may have been the particulates (or simply bad lack). Then again, smokers may be more likely to spend time on the highway, or at barbeques or wherever and so have a higher exposure to particulates. Wonder how long before Big Tobacco lawyers catch on and start counter suits against Big Oil, Big Government ...

"Truths and myths: the cancer report" - "50 things you need to know about The Big C" (Observer)

"Court seeks views on waste compact" - "The Supreme Court sought the Clinton administration's views today on whether a regional compact should be allowed to sue North Carolina in the nation's highest court over its failure to build a low-level radioactive waste facility." (AP)

"Germany must ensure nuclear waste transport - lobby" - "FRANKFURT - Germany must persuade France to accept nuclear waste shipments to avoid plant closures and ensuing power imports from suppliers with less stringent nuclear safety laws, the German Atomic Forum said yesterday." (Reuters)

"Italy can cut fuel needs in half by 2020-greens" - "ROME - A leading Italian environmental protection group yesterday proposed changes to Italy's energy policy which it said could cut the country's dependence on petroleum by half in 20 years. Legambiente said boosting the use of renewable energy, capping domestic consumption and encouraging water and rail transport over roads, could save the state approximately 45 trillion lire ($19.67 billion) by 2020." (Reuters)

"Capping domestic consumption"? Sounds suspiciously like fuel rationing doesn't it. I see Alan Caruba has a section on oil in this week's Warning Signs.

"Hands off the oil trade" - "Some members of Congress are upset that heating oil refined from the recent release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve could be shipped overseas. It seems that prices are higher in Europe than they are here. It would be a big mistake for Congress to embargo exports. There is one market for petroleum and its products, and it extends around the world. Short of war or other national calamity, we are all better off if traders are free to buy and sell anywhere. That's because the flow of products can go both ways. It isn't widely known, but in the depths of last winter, European refiners shipped heating oil to the United States to grab our high prices. Of course, the arrival of all those tankers helped push prices down. There could easily come a time when we'd want to buy heating oil overseas again, and fairly soon, too. Other nations are not likely to permit it if the United States panics and tries to prevent overseas sales now." (Boston Herald Editorial)

"Energy gap threat to new economy" - "THE new economy across Europe may soon suffer a meltdown due to the lack of an essential tool to keep it running - energy. In Holland the first signs of an energy gap for internet companies is beginning to show. Electricity demand in Amsterdam, the most hi-tech of cities, has been pushed to the limits, forcing energy suppliers to warn of the possibility of the old economy bringing the new one to its electronic knees." (London Evening Standard)

"ANALYSIS - Humbled greens vow to outflank UK fuel tax revolt" - "LONDON - In the fight against global warming, the toughest of Britain's green campaigners are ready to risk life and limb for the sake of the planet. Usually, that is. But veterans of confrontation with supertankers on the high seas or underground sit-ins against new roads were dealt a humbling lesson in direct action from a fuel tax revolt last month." (Reuters)

"Indian Ocean haze traced to biomass burning" - "NEW DELHI: Aerosol emission from a variety of sources such as fossil fuels and biomass burning are the most significant contributors to the thick haze extending over some 10 million sq km, detected over the Indian Ocean early last year. Rural cooking practices in this region, especially wide use of fuel wood, cattle dung, charcoal and agricultural waste, leads to major biomass burning, scientists told reporters on Monday." (Times of  India)

"INTERVIEW - Norway's Statkraft backs gas power despite prices" - "OSLO - The head of Norwegian state-owned utility Statkraft said yesterday he still backed investments toward new gas-fired power plants even if current electricity prices are too low to turn a profit on such production." (Reuters)

"Before we commit billions of dollars to fix the atmosphere we had better first make sure we know it's broken and figure out exactly what broke it." - "'Industrial activity is affecting climate by causing an increase in average temperatures." This idea is now widely accepted and reported as fact. While debates about the existence, extent and possible consequences of human-induced global warming continue among scientists, many politicians, bureaucrats, environmentalists and members of the media believe urgent action is required to address "the greatest environmental threat facing mankind." An international bureaucracy has been mobilized to deal with this threat. Three years ago, representatives from Canada and 160 other countries met in Kyoto, Japan and agreed to targets for reducing greenhouse gases. Later this week, Canada's federal, provincial and territorial ministers of energy and the environment will meet in Quebec to grapple with how to meet our Kyoto commitment to reduce greenhouse gases to six per cent below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. Next month, international representatives will gather once again, this time at The Hague, to hammer out the details of complying with Kyoto. These meetings proceed as if debate among scientists was over. Two recent studies, however, remind us that nothing could be further from the truth." (Laura Jones in the Vancouver Sun)

"Monsanto bullish on Bt cotton" - "Monsanto has seen the future and believes it is in transgenic cotton in Asian countries such as Pakistan." (ENN)

Fairly wild piece this one. It furthers the illusion of "Monsanto's Terminator Technology", which will probably come as a surprise to quite a few - not least Monsanto. I think TPS (Technology Protection System, a.k.a. "terminator") is a project of the USDA and the Delta and Pine Lands Co. (Delta Pinelands?). Monsanto's only (near) connection was that they made an offer (subsequently rejected) for the company. The piece also cites Vandana Shiva, whose main claim to fame is that she thinks the green revolution causes starvation in India and the population should shift to totally organic agriculture.

Going by this McSpotlight picture, Shiva is certainly not on intimate terms with starvation. I suspect, however, that this has more to do with her wage as a professor of physics in an obscure Indian university than it does with organic gardening.

"INTERVIEW - Brazil plans to grow gene-altered crops" - "CHICAGO - Brazil will soon lose its billing as the only country in the western hemisphere that is not commercially cultivating gene-altered crops, its Agriculture Minister Marcus Vinicius Pratini de Moraes said yesterday. "We will soon commercially cultivate genetically modified crops, especially cotton, soybeans and corn," he said at the sidelines of a business conference in Chicago. "We have invested substantial amounts (of money) to research GM crops to fully understand GMOs (genetically modified organisms)," he told Reuters in an interview. He said Brazil's objective was to produce "what the market wants". "If the market wants nongenetically modified crops, the market will have to pay...a premium. The big question is whether the market is going to pay a premium." (Reuters)

"Any risks negligible, say GE giants" - "The world's first substantial inquiry into genetic modification began in Wellington yesterday, with a concession by GE giants that it was impossible to guarantee containment. But the two members of the "big six" multinationals of genetic engineering that put their case on the first day of the 14-week Royal Commission of Inquiry into the new technology, emphasised that they said this only because absolute guarantees were impossible in any endeavour. Any risks, they said, were negligible." (NZ Herald)

"U.N. unveils new study on hunger" - "Somalia, Afghanistan and Haiti rank as the hungriest countries in the world, according to a new measurement introduced today by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. In an effort to better quantify hunger as the world struggles to reach goals set at the 1996 World Food Summit, the FAO unveiled a "depth of hunger" measurement in its annual food security report." (AP)

"ATK Awarded $13.5 Million Contract to Produce Environmentally Friendly Ammunition" - "WASHINGTON, Oct. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- ATK (NYSE: ATK) (Alliant Techsystems), said it has been awarded a $13.5 million contract from the U.S. Army Operations Support Command, Rock Island, Ill., to produce lead-free 5.56mm training ammunition as part of a U.S. Army initiative to move to "green ammunition" in the 21st century." (Hoovers)

"Britons are miserable - it's official" - "Britons are more miserable and down-trodden than anyone previously dared believe, a survey has said. A quarter of the population fear a "hopeless future", one in three feels "downright miserable", and one in 10 thinks he or she would be better off dead." (BBC Online)

400 self-selected respondents to an online survey and Britain is diagnosed miserable? Hmm... what could be so depressing - the environment? Hardly. The Thames has been transformed from the fetid, lifeless sewer it had been for two centuries to a breeding haven for fish and wildlife over the last thirty years - as have the majority of their water courses. Over the last 50 years they have gone from killer fogs to more than acceptable city air quality. Wildlife species are generally recovering and some are being reintroduced after absences of centuries. Can't be the environment. Britain has gone from post-war austerity to an era of plenty over the past 50 years, people have sufficient disposable income and a wealth of toys and entertainment available, they can choose from a bewildering array of foods from all parts of the globe - enough to suit even the most jaded palate. Transport has improved to the point where Britains can slip over to Paris for lunch if they want to. The twentieth century has seen a shift from open sewers and wood and coal cooking and heating to flick-of-the-switch convenience. Healthy lifespans have increased literally by decades over the same period and infectious disease reduced to a fraction of the threat it once posed. There doesn't seem a lot here that should indicate cause for misery. So, 400 sad sacks fill out an online questionnaire and "it's official". Right...

"Graveyard Shift May Cause Heart Disease -- Study" - "WASHINGTON - Shift work may not only make people grumpy, but it could put them at a higher risk of heart disease, Italian researchers said on Monday." (Reuters)

"One Million British Women in Hormone Study" - "LONDON - One million British women have enrolled in the largest study ever of the impact of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) on women's health, doctors said on Monday. The Million Women Study is investigating the effect of different types of HRT on the risk of developing breast cancer." (Reuters)

"Setback for Antibiotics as Heart Treatment" - "Taking an antibiotic for three months failed to reduce the risk of new heart attacks and death among people with coronary artery heart disease, a Utah study has found. The study, which is being reported today, counters findings from two earlier, smaller studies from England and Argentina that found a benefit from a shorter course of an antibiotic. The surprising findings from the earlier studies contributed to a widespread hope that antibiotics would be an effective therapy for coronary artery disease." (NY Times)

"Savage sea lion feast shocks scientists" - "New Zealand sea lions dine out on their pups, to the surprise of Department of Conservation scientists. DoC marine biologist Dr Ian Wilkinson and his team discovered the cannibalism during a study of the Hooker's sea lions early this year. The scientists were amazed to see 300kg males attacking pups on shore, dragging them into the sea and eating them." (NZ Herald)

Not sure why this purportedly "shocks scientists" since "nature" is not all sweetness and light (despite precious libber delusions and Disney-style nature shows on the tube) and cannibalism is a widely reported phenomenon.

"Plasticisers say PVC health concerns unjustified" - "BRUSSELS - Makers of chemicals used to soften PVC plastic yesterday defended the safety of their products following concerns raised by the European Union about potential risks to human health and the environment from PVC." (Reuters)

They're probably right too. Even the EU's own scientific advisory group said there was nothing to worry about but the EU went ahead anyway. Readers may remember Times' extraordinary volte-face on their Poisonous Plastics? piece - if not, here's Michael Fumento's report and a companion piece on the ol' "endocrine disrupter" myth Hormonally Challenged. See also: Ban Luddites, Not chlorine; Phthalate Scare is Fear-Based, Not Fact-Based, Says Consumer Alert; Phthalates study; IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans (Volume 77) (15–22 February 2000)

"Many Cancer Trials More Complicated Than Necessary" - "Nobody doubts that new drugs need to be thoroughly tested before being brought into routine use. But a leading cancer trial specialist from the UK warned a conference today that many clinical trials are far more complicated than they need to be. The results of this over complexity are higher costs, longer trials (which potentially delays successful drugs from reaching patients) and too few patients for reliable results. Speaking at the European Society for Medical Oncology conference in Hamburg, Germany, Professor Richard Gray, Director of the Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Birmingham, called for a move towards more simplicity and directness in the planning and organization of trials. And, in a further cautionary note, he pointed out that draft European legislation in the pipeline could create an even more difficult climate in which to carry out independent clinical trials." (UniSci)

October 15 & 16, 2000

"Al's Environmental Whoppers" - "Does one need to lie about the environment to protect it? In last week's debate, moderator Jim Lehrer asked Vice President Al Gore if he still believed what he wrote in his book, 'Earth in the Balance': that 'we must make the rescue of the environment the central organizing principle for civilization.' Gore said he did - and then wandered away from the truth..." (Steven Milloy & Kay Jones in the New York Post)

"Tropics once felt chill of Ice Age" - "WASHINGTON -- While Europeans were shivering through the Little Ice Age, natives of the Caribbean were also facing a cooler climate, researchers report. Made famous by the winter-scene paintings of Pieter Brueghel, the Little Ice Age stretched from the 14th century to the 19th, cooling the northern hemisphere and bringing heavier than usual snow and ice. The impact of this cooling on tropical areas, however, has been less clear." (AP)

Report of yet another confirmation of this climate history. Despite having a concurrent event appear in proxies derived in at least the Antarctic; Tasmania; the Argentine; the mid-Atlantic; China; Greenland; and Siberia to my knowledge, which suggest a global event, the IPCC is currently trying to promote the illusion that the LIA (Little Ice Age) was a localised perturbation and global temperatures largely static. (This is how they come up with the patently farcical notion that the 1990s were "the hottest decade of the hottest century of the millennium".) Sorry guys, but that dog just won't hunt and you'll have to come up with something better to protect your gravy train.

Readers may have heard of the infamous "hockey stick" graph being promoted recently. It's called that because it presents a scenario of Earth's temperature being stable for a sustained period (the flat "handle of the hockey stick") and then rising suddenly and precipitously in recent times (the sudden rise representing "the blade of the hockey stick") due to human action. Such a scenario suggests that Earth's climate has binary states - either one low temperature during a glaciation or another, higher temperature during interglacial periods - but little or no variation within those states. "Absurd" works for me. Click here for an impression of how "stable" Earth's climate has been.

The obvious question to ask is: why are they pushing such an illusion? Here's a few clues. The thermometric record (actual temperature recordings) commenced following invention of the thermometer (duh!) which occurred probably in the late 16th or early 17th century - early devices were filled with brandy (alcohol). The longest known contiguous record of air temperatures commenced in the 1660s in London, England and, coincidentally, at about the coldest period in Earth's contemporary history. Other European records were begun over the next century and we have roughly 250 years of historical temperature records in some locations. Beyond all doubt the Earth has warmed over the last 300-odd years and thus global warming is real - it just happens to represent a natural and fortuitous event. Recognising the LIA doesn't suit the enhanced greenhouse industry, however, for then global warming merely represents a recovery from an unusually cool period of the Holocene (current interglacial period) rather than a "problem" to be addressed. Unfortunately, there's no money and no gravy train to be had "saving" us from a perfectly normal and advantageous event - thus the gloom and doom industry declaring it "abnormal" and "a crisis".

Current global temperatures are pretty ordinary when looking at the whole of the Holocene. If temperatures do change in the longer term then a warming would be much more advantageous to life on Earth than would a cooling. Current temperature perturbations are well within the established range of normal variability. Recent temperature trends appear to associate well with solar variability but not with GCM projections. Recent trends do not correlate with atmospheric GHG (greenhouse gas) levels, the European temperature increment stopped prior to 1940 and the continental US composite record shows a dip and partial recovery since the 1930s. It's time to derail the IPCC gravy train and turn our attention to genuine problems.

"Canada antes up to cut emissions" - "Canada’s federal government has earmarked up to US$300 million in next year’s budget for measures aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 65 megatonnes a year — one third of the way toward its Kyoto Agreement goal." (ENN)

With great fanfare, December 9, 1999, Canadian Press carried: Canada forgives Bangladesh debt - "OTTAWA (CP) -- Bangladesh doesn't have to pay the C$600,000 it owes Canada, Ottawa announced Thursday. The country is the first to benefit from a debt-relief plan designed to support poverty reduction in the world's poorest countries." Well whoopee duck! Canada has a population of about 31 million and a per capita GDP (purchasing power parity) of US$22,400 (1998 est.), so it is unlikely that Canadians will suffer from the per capita cost of less than C$0.02. Bangladesh, on the other hand, has a population of about 127 million, GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—US$1,380 (1998 est.). [Source: World Fact Book] The per capita debt relief is then less than C$0.005. Not exactly news to have Bangladeshis dancing in the streets is it?

Less than a year later, here's Canada throwing around US$300,000,000 to limit emissions of an essential trace gas. One which, incidentally, is of great benefit to impoverished nations by boosting crop yields (plants thrive with higher CO2 levels) - for free! And why are they doing this? To address a "problem" that exists only in the virtual world of computer games and an increasingly shaky hypothesis.

Well done... bloody well done.

Breathless drivel of the day: "Lethal floods ravaged Stone Age Britain" - "Scientists are unearthing the long-lost secrets of Britain's own Atlantis – a vast area of former dry land under what is now the North Sea. The investigations are revealing how ancient Stone Age communities were wiped out by a series of apocalyptic floods which, scientists believe, are a stern warning of the devastation that global warming and rising sea levels can cause. After the last Ice Age, melting ice caused the southern half of the North Sea to rise by some 65ft in 2,000 years, submerging an area in the North Sea the size of modern Britain." (Independent on Sunday)

Imagine that - as the great glaciation receded (including mile-thick ice caps over northern regions of Europe and the British Isles) the sea rose once more. True? Sure - scallop trawlers have dredged up a lot of woolly mammoth skulls from the floor of the North Sea - used to be one of their grazing grounds during the last ice age.

The "apocalyptic floods" to which the Indy alludes is simply a demonstration that increased land-borne ice equates to lower sea levels and vice versa. With one-third of the planet's land mass covered in ice, less water was available to make up sea volume and sea levels declined, only to recover as the ice retreated. Variation in floating ice shelves and the Arctic ice cap have no bearing on sea levels because they already displace the same volume of sea water as they would make up if melted.

"How many deaths are truly criminal?" - "Green presidential candidate Ralph Nader said this week that someone could be criminally charged for the deaths suffered by occupants of Ford Explorers equipped with Firestone tires whose treads separated. It is an interesting point to ponder. The alleged defects have been blamed for 101 deaths over several years — a horrible toll. A Harvard-Brookings Institution study estimates that the downsizing of vehicles caused by fuel economy standards results annually in 2,200 to 3,900 deaths — which is more ghastly. Consumer advocates like Mr. Nader support these fuel efficiency standards and want them increased, which could kill more people. The question becomes: Should certain consumer advocates be accused of criminal neglect?" (Detroit News Editorial [Oct 14])

Henry Payne's cartoon comment of the 12th would seem equally applicable.

"Clean-air rhetoric a preview of election" - "... But Mr. Anderson warned that the Ontario government, which he hinted is filled with running dogs of capitalism, might fight the deal. If it did, the Environment Minister warned, he was prepared to invoke the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to enforce the accord." (GAM)

"Medical research protocols should be completely overhauled" - "The ethical criteria for medical research need to be completely overhauled. They are out of step with the shift towards evidence based medicine and new developments in technology and genetics, suggests an analysis in the Journal of Medical Ethics. Furthermore, the protocols rely too heavily on unchecked assumptions about the integrity and judgment of the individual investigators, says the author." (BMJ)

"Greenpeace gets in bed with its foes" - "Greenpeace has struck a controversial alliance with the marketing services group run by Lord Bell, adviser to Monsanto, British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) and General Pinochet, among others." (Independent)

Foes? The `peas are tarts who'll do anything for a dollar - check out Greenpeace or Gr$$npeace?

"A Colder, Snowier, Fuel-Burning Winter Ahead" - "WASHINGTON, Oct. 14 — Winter in the Northeast this year is expected to be colder and snowier than in recent years, the National Weather Service says, raising the prospect of significantly higher heating bills for consumers even as oil prices have already been rising. In major cities across the region, temperatures are expected to drop two to five degrees below the average of the last three winters, which were unusually warm, the service said. That drop could contribute to heating bills that are as much as 25 percent higher than last year for consumers of heating oil, and 45 percent higher for consumers of natural gas, says the Energy Information Administration, a branch of the Energy Department. "What they are saying is the winter will be normal, and normal means a lot more demand for heating fuel because last winter was warm," said David Costello, an economist at the energy agency." (NY Times)

Can't trust the weather can you? This is just such a bad time for Ozone Al to have the the damn weather behave normally!

"Blair rejects EU plan to fix petrol prices" - "Tony Blair was forced on to the defensive yesterday over an EU bid to stop governments cutting fuel tax. The French-backed proposal to harmonise pump prices throughout Europe, which would have tied Britain's hands in the current petrol dispute, prompted a sharp Anglo-French clash. The plan to level out excise duties in countries and give Brussels control over member states' oil reserves was meant to prevent future fuel protests against national governments." (Observer)

You have to admire the diligence displayed by the EU as they try to usurp the sovereign powers of member states. Perhaps the Danes had this in mind when, as the only member state to allow a popular vote on the matter, they told the EU to put the Euro (struggling common currency) where the sun doesn't shine. Ceding control of your energy supply to an outside authority is to relinquish your sovereignty - sounds a lot like the UN and Kyoto doesn't it.

"Brain cells grown in lab give hope for Parkinson's" - "Scientists have discovered how to grow human brain cells in the laboratory. They have isolated neurones from several key areas of the cortex and plan to transplant them into patients suffering from epilepsy and strokes, as well as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. Transplants of human brain cells have already been demonstrated in clinical trials. However, each requires neurones that have been taken from at least six aborted foetuses. Scientists believe their breakthrough research has solved this crucial problem of supply. 'We could satisfy the demands of every Parkinson's patient in Europe and the United States with cells grown in one small laboratory,' said Dr George Foster, of Cardiff University. 'That's the immense potential of this technology.'" (Observer)

"Health fear over GM cattle feed" - "Deputy Agriculture Minister Joyce Quin told the House of Commons last December: 'Ministry-funded work has confirmed that DNA is degraded during the processing of most animal feed.' But the new disclosure that genetic material remains in the food chain will raise widespread concern. More than two million tonnes of GM crops are imported into the UK for animal feed." (Observer)

Pretty much a lot about nothing much. Ever heard of digestion? Although chickens eat corn they don't "cut and paste" corn DNA as new chicken cells and chickens aren't corn. Livestock are no more likely to be "contaminated" by biotech-enhanced grain than you are likely to develop an irresistible urge to spend several years at sea and then return to a river to spawn because you have eaten salmon - it just doesn't work that way. Starlink™ corn hasn't been approved for human consumption because the Cry9C gene expressed can remain intact for a few seconds (in an artificial gut), a property similar to that of some known allergens and so it isn't yet "proven safe". Think about that for a moment. DNA considered "safe" is destroyed in the gut in less than a second. If it's destroyed - how can it "contaminate" the stock that consumed it?

"Ending World Hunger. The Promise of Biotechnology and the Threat of Antiscience Zealotry" - "During the 20th century, conventional breeding produced a vast number of varieties and hybrids that contributed immensely to higher grain yield, stability of harvests, and farm income. Despite the successes of the Green Revolution, the battle to ensure food security for hundreds of millions miserably poor people is far from won. Mushrooming populations, changing demographics, and inadequate poverty intervention programs have eroded many of the gains of the Green Revolution. This is not to say that the Green Revolution is over. Increases in crop management productivity can be made all along the line: in tillage, water use, fertilization, weed and pest control, and harvesting. However, for the genetic improvement of food crops to continue at a pace sufficient to meet the needs of the 8.3 billion people projected to be on this planet at the end of the quarter century, both conventional technology and biotechnology are needed." (Norman Borlaug in Plant Physiology Online)

"Food tests miss GM ingredients" - "GENETICALLY modified ingredients could be getting onto supermarket shelves undetected because of serious flaws in the product testing system. The first performance check of commercial testing methods has revealed that nearly 20% of laboratories failed to recognise the presence of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in their analyses. The investigation, by the government Food Analysis Performance Assessment Scheme (Fapas), found that another 60% of laboratories claimed to have found positive signs of GMOs when there was none." (The Sunday Times)

Check out The Week That Was brought to you by SEPP

"Tobacco debate rages in developing world" - "GENEVA: Almost 70 per cent of all tobacco-related deaths in the world will occur in developing countries within the next 30 years, according to the World Health Organisation." (Times of India)

Isn't that also where 70% of the world population happens to be?

"War against smoking goes worldwide" - "In Nigeria, tobacco companies aren't allowed to advertise, yet smoking among young people is growing, in part because of sponsorship of radio shows and sports teams. In Vietnam, until recently, "cigarette girls" in miniskirts gave free samples to young men. Such promotion has helped tobacco use soar worldwide. Today, there are 1.1 billion smokers - 80 percent in the developing world. Now, for the first time, health leaders are meeting in Geneva at the World Health Organization (WHO) to discuss ways to slow the international smoking onslaught." (CSM)

"Austrian Protests Will Not Stop Nuclear Plant" - "PRAGUE, Oct 15, 2000 -- Nuclear energy "is firmly implanted in Europe," Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman asserted Saturday, rejecting Austrian protests over the start-up of a controversial nuclear plant.: (Agence France Presse)

"EPA: Hands Off State Farms" - "The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making a bid to impose costly and unjustified new regulations on Michigan’s livestock farmers. The move could damage agriculture, which, after auto manufacturing, is one of Michigan’s leading industries. The federal agency has handed the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), its state enforcement arm, an ultimatum: Force the state’s livestock farms to obtain the same type of water pollution permits that city sewage plants and heavy industry must get — or be stripped of control over the state’s water quality program." (Detroit News)

Dub-yah raises the real issue? - image from this Detroit News Q & A session with Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush. Readers may want to check back to this National Review article. Of course, Debra Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle doesn't think the Veep really believes what he's shovelling and says so in Gore's Greenhouse Gas.

"U.S. federal official says oil prices a serious matter" - "A Federal Reserve official Saturday said the run-up in energy costs had to be taken seriously for the U.S. inflation outlook, but he noted that many private-sector observers think oil prices may already be hitting their peaks. "We have to take the overall inflation rate seriously," William Poole, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, told reporters after a lecture at Brown University." (Reuters)

"Families sue government over high fuel costs" - "Three families who live in rural areas of north Wales are among a group of six who plan to sue the government in an attempt to bring down the cost of fuel. Using the new Human Rights Act, they intend to argue that petrol is one of life's essentials and that Ministers have acted illegally by taxing it beyond their means." (BBC Online)

"Big business answers 'Climate Savers' call" - "Johnson & Johnson did it. So did IBM Corp. And now Polaroid Corp. is following suit. All of these companies have answered a call from the World Wildlife Fund and the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by a set date." (ENN)

Doesn't look like I'd fit in at ENN, I'd have written this up as: PC businesses feed delusion, increase consumer costs to grab market share. Investor caution advised as stocks likely to suffer with declining temperature and rising energy costs.

"Deer population posing problems" - "The national deer population, now estimated at 25 million to 30 million, has been growing for decades. Not only have deer adapted to encroaching suburbia, but they have benefitted from a series of mild winters, an increase in newly developed areas being declared off limits for hunters and a decline in hunting in some parts of the country." (AP)

Interesting. The US, roughly the same land area as Australia although greatly more fertile and better watered, has nearly as many deer as we have kangaroo. The larger macropods have prospered greatly over the last couple of hundred years since European settlers introduced permanent stock watering points over vast areas of the country and water is the great limiting factor here. Curiously, your congress has frequently acted to help the whacko brigade's campaigns to inhibit trade in 'roo product, even though we are forced to cull millions of them every year to contain environmental degradation. Deer are becoming "public enemy number one" in various US regions and there are efforts to increase the cull. Some inconsistency here you think?

"Delicate flower foils rail progress" - "The flowering of Britain's new modern railway is being stunted by the arrival of Dianthus armeria, the humble Deptford pink. This delicate plant grows in 30 different sites throughout Britain, protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act. But on one particular site near Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, it is preventing the testing and introduction of rolling stock, urgently needed to alleviate the misery of travellers crammed into old carriages." (Guardian)

And the English say Only in America...

"Monkey study finds cannabis addictive" - "Squirrel monkeys have become addicted to marijuana in laboratory tests, according to research published today in a science magazine. The findings will be a blow to campaigners who argue that cannabis is non-addictive and should be legalised. "These findings suggest that marijuana has as much potential for abuse as drugs such as cocaine," Steven Goldberg, from the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, reports in Nature Neuroscience." (Guardian) [AP]

"What Is the Matter With Mary Jane?" - "SEATTLE -- The medicinal use of marijuana has scored some smashing victories at the polls in recent years, winning approval by voters in seven states, and it's on the ballot in two this fall. But in Alaska, an important test is at hand for those who use images like "Trojan horse" and "camel's nose under the tent" to argue that medical marijuana's advocates are really out to clear the way for the legal recreational use of the drug. Just two years after Alaska's voters backed a measure allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana for medical purposes, they are being asked whether the state should become the nation's first to legalize it, period. The measure is sweeping, allowing use by anyone 18 or older, giving amnesty for anyone ever convicted of growing or possessing marijuana, and even moving toward restitution for them." (NY Times)

"Trust Seeks to Harvest 'Carbon Credits' From Forests" - "In some places, firms pay to preserve trees' ability to absorb the substance as a way of offsetting pollution created elsewhere. Group wants to bring the idea to California." (LA Times)

If you're really so worried about carbon sequestration then log the old trees, turn them into some durable (house frames or whatever) and plant new trees that require vast amounts of CO2 to grow - that's the only way that the same area of forests really dramatically increase their carbon sequestration. A few cautionary points however. With global temperatures again in decline and a growing realisation of the societal costs involved in pandering to an illusion, the prospects of Kyoto being ratified sufficiently to meet the 55/55 rule to bring it into force are declining by the day. Even worse from the enhanced greenhouse proselytisers' perspective, indications are that both the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation are switching to cool phases, meaning that Earth is likely to exhibit 2-3 decades of declining temperatures. Global warming? We could wish! Taken in conjunction, these trends suggest that "carbon credits" will be absolutely worthless and a lot of gullible enterprises are going to get burned by falling temperatures. Extreme scepticism advised!

"Doctors on the green to put Coalition in rough" - "THE Court Government's relations with the medical community deteriorated further yesterday as a group of doctors produced detailed allegations of mismanagement of the state's old-growth forests." (The Australian)

So... MDs believe they know more about forestry management than do the biologists, ecologists and foresters who established the forest management plan over years of (peer reviewed) study and extensive survey and assessment. Tell you what guys, I won't have thoracic surgery performed by anyone who uses a chainsaw because tree surgeons just don't inspire too much confidence that I may survive the procedure - I don't think they're suitably specialised in an appropriate discipline. Perhaps you should recognise that human health and forest health are not interchangeable disciplines and butt out!

"Girls' lifestyle puts next generation at risk" - "Young women who do not eat properly or exercise regularly are storing up health problems for the next generation as well as themselves. Experts speaking at a major women's health conference in London on Monday will warn that girls need to take care of their health to stop their babies going on to develop heart disease, strokes and diabetes." [Pupils 'starving' to stay thin] (BBC Online)

"Shark cartilage cancer cure fishy says expert" - "BRUSSELS - Cancer patients buying shark cartilage capsules as a treatment for the disease are wasting their money, a cancer expert says. Dr Lene Adrian, of Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, said that the health supplement had no effect when it was tested on Danish breast cancer patients. "There was no evidence that the therapy had any benefit. "I would not advise patients to use it," she told the European Breast Cancer conference." (New Zealand Herald)

"Redefinition of `heart attack' may bring benefits - and grief" - "More Americans than ever soon will be having heart attacks - because the definition of this terrible event is changing. That may bode ill for insurance coverage, but also bring about healthy lifestyle changes, doctors say. Cardiologists recently broadened the definition of a heart attack to include many cases of angina, chest pain caused by lack of blood to the heart. A diagnosis of a heart attack, they hope, will make people take their conditions more seriously. (Seattle Times)

"Blair broke pledges, says 'green guru'" - "TONY BLAIR'S new environmental adviser has accused him of breaking his election promises on green issues by a failure of leadership. In an interview in The Telegraph today, Jonathon Porritt, chairman of the Government's Sustainable Development Commission, said Labour had put its obsession with the "spin doctor focus group approach" above the values it set out in opposition." (Telegraph)

Jonathon... no democratically elected government can really indulge green fantasies because, well, voters get pretty upset by policies that kill off substantial portions of the population. This is very bad for a government's re-election chances. (You'll have to forgive Porritt - he used be chairman of the Greens and director of Fiends of the Earth)

"Things can only get wetter"

Buried in the bowels of this article you get down to the real reason:

 - "... The Halls received another visit this weekend: Dr John Boardman, an academic from the Environmental Change Institute in Oxford who has witnessed countless examples of human misery caused by flooding in the past 25 years. Too often, said Dr Boardman, the chaos that he studies could easily have been avoided. He said: "This is not so much a climate-change issue as a land-use issue. The flooding has been caused by the excessive cultivation nearby of winter cereals on steep slopes. The methods of cultivation used have led to run-off and erosion." (Telegraph)

"A green and pleasant land" - "Imagine an economy modelled on an ecological system. First and foremost, there would be no such thing as pollution because nothing would be produced that could not be reused, reconstituted or recycled either by industry, households or natural ecosystems." (The Age)

Oh Claire (Claire Miller, The Age's token flake), nature doesn't have totally closed systems any more than humanity does. In fact, "nature" is the original sea dumper, which is where "nature" eventually dumps all salts, toxics, a huge tonnage of silts, excess nutrients, natural halides, natural organochlorins, natural dioxins (extraordinary volume compared with anthropogenic production), heavy metals, radionuclides, and... well, everything you can imagine and often blame people for really.

?!! "Analysis: Ozone hole larger but improvements to come" - "WASHINGTON, Oct. 15, (UPI) -- The hole in the protective ozone layer over the South Pole reached a record size in September, but it won't be a yearly thorn in Earth's side forever, according to environmental experts. "This is the largest geographical size on record and comparable to the area of North America," said Lawrence Flynn, a physical scientist associated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Moreover, NOAA reported that the September decline in ozone occurred about six days earlier than in any previous year and "as observed in other recent years, ozone was totally destroyed between about 9 and 13 miles altitude." However, natural processes will restore the ozone layer eventually, pointed out David Hofmann, director of NOAA's Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory, in Boulder, Colo." (UPI)

October 14, 2000

Desperate claim of the day: "Flooding 'shows urgent need for climate change action'" - "Flooding in south east England is another warning about the need for urgent action to curb the pollution causing climate change, according to environmental campaigners. Brenda Pollack, regional campaign co-ordinator at Friends of the Earth, said the Government had to take a lead and push for cuts in carbon dioxide emissions at next month's international talks in The Hague. "People's homes and lives are at risk if we don't take action soon. The people of Kent could be feeling the effects of climate change lapping at their doorways." [It will get wetter, say climate experts] (Ananova) [Housing built in high-risk areas]

Oh, so this is a novel event due to enhanced greenhouse? Perhaps proponents of this contention should check the UK Met. Office's extremes page. The Guardian speaks of "unheard of" deluges - 5" (125mm) in 12 hours - slight problem here because the met office extremes list indicates more than twice that in 24 hours in 1955; one and one-half times as much in 3hrs (1960); 155min (1975); 120min (1989); almost as much in 90min (1967); two-thirds as much in 60min (1901) and half as much in just 30min (1953). The Independent more accurately stated that southern England was in the grip of its worst flooding - for thirty years. Interestingly, thirty years ago puts us near the end of Earth's most recent cooling phase (C1945-1975) when we had all the gloom and hand wringing over imminent ice age. The Times actually got it right when they said building in flood-prone areas is asking for trouble: "Only nature can determine how much rain falls on our land. But only man can be so foolish as to ignore the law that water finds its level." Said!

Climate is the sum of all weather events over an extended period and there are always measures at, near or exceeding the bounds of expected range - partly because we have been recording weather events for such a short time and are not yet aware of where the bounds actually lie. There are expected "abnormal" events, the exceptional that occurs once in 50, 100, 250 or even 500 years which we must anticipate and plan for. That's why dams, for example, are built to tolerances allowing for the say, 1 in 500 event - we may not have witnessed such an event but the geological record tells us that they do occur, have done in the past at an average interval of X years and commonsense tells us they will again. That one or even a series of these events occurs over a specific timeframe doesn't tell us that there is anything unusual occurring with the climate but rather that we happen to be in a climatic phase where these events occur.

One other thing that claims like the above tell us - proponents of the enhanced greenhouse hypothesis are getting really desperate. What a crock!

"Boffins battle against flatulent flocks" - "Dunedin - New Zealand and French scientists may have fallen out over nuclear blasts in the past, but they are now pooling their ingenuity to deal with a different kind of explosion. Flatulent sheep, and the damage their emissions are causing to the atmosphere, have brought scientists from opposing hemispheres together in a collaborative bid to perfect a burp-less, fart-free diet for sheep." (IOL)

Actually not as bizarre as it first sounds, this research has useful application in animal husbandry by improving the feed conversion efficiency of ruminants. Methane-producing microfauna are actually stealing some of the ingested food and not providing benefit to the host animal, displacing them is of benefit to the host, the farmer and the environment by reducing the input requirement to achieve the same carcass/fibre/milk output.

It is an unfortunate artefact of our times that funding requests for useful research must be couched in terms of the absurd in order to have any chance of success and quite sincere scientists are forced to resort to the greenhouse myth to further their research. Rate of increase in the atmospheric levels of methane has been in decline for over a decade and methane is expected to be in atmospheric equilibrium (as much consumed as produced) by 2004. Will fart-free sheep save the world? No - but the research will eventually be of great benefit to impoverished farmers around the world. I'm certain that my colleagues across the Tasman are just waiting for me to make a crack about researching sheep etiquette but I'll let it pass - this time.

"Our reservoirs are plumbing the depths of insanity" - "... The depth of the insanity of this hydroelectric dam has only recently emerged. Built 13 years ago to provide "green", pollution-free electricity, it in fact produces eight times more greenhouse gas than a typical coal-fired power station with a similar generating capacity." (Independent)

"NOAA ISSUES NATION'S OFFICIAL WINTER OUTLOOK" - "October 12, 2000 — The nation's top climate and weather experts at NOAA today announced the winter weather outlook for the United States, saying that the recent string of record warm winters may be over, as normal winter weather returns. "We've probably forgotten over the last three years what a normal winter is like," said NOAA Administrator D. James Baker. "With La Niña and El Niño out of the way, normal (defined as the period 1961-1990) winter weather has a chance to return to the U.S. this year." (NOAA)

"Rights for Rodents Is a Bad Rx" - "On the same day the U.K. announced that it had enacted a Bill of Rights for Britons, the USDA announced one for Americans. American laboratory birds and rodents, that is. In a move quickly denounced by both the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR) and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the Agriculture Department agreed to a legal settlement expanding its regulation of research animals under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to birds and, far more importantly, rats and mice. Since rodents comprise about 95 percent of all test animals, the expansion will be dramatic. And horrendous, according to AAMC President Dr. Jordon Cohen." (Michael Fumento)

"New Report Dispels Myths about Breast Cancer and Points Out the Real Risk Factors" - "New York, New York—October 2000. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women. In the year 2000 alone, approximately 183,000 new cases are expected and over 40,000 U.S. women will die from this disease. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but are people really aware of what makes one woman more susceptible to developing breast cancer than another?" (ACSH)

"Better Sunscreens From DNA" - "NEW YORK - The molecules that contain our genes may hold the secret to better sunscreens, according to Ohio State University chemists. The investigators discovered that nucleosides, the molecules that make up RNA and DNA strands, can turn potentially dangerous ultraviolet (UV) rays into harmless heat energy very quickly. In fact, these molecules transform UV light in less than one pico-second, or less than one trillionth of a second, explained lead researcher Dr. Bern Kohler." (Reuters Health)

"GM food recall causing ripple effect on food retailers" - "CHICAGO, Oct 12 - The spreading impact of the recall of foods containing gene-spliced corn could portend a wave of scrutiny of U.S. food makers, their manufacturing and their suppliers, industry watchers said on Thursday." (Reuters)

"Case Illustrates Risks of Altered Food" - "The genetically engineered corn that is linked to a widening web of food recalls has not been approved for human consumption because it contains a protein that is not normally part of the human food supply and that shares some characteristics of known food allergens. But there is no evidence that the corn actually does cause allergies, and some experts say that consumers need not worry about eating products that might contain the corn." (NY Times)

"Survey: Taco shell recall not having profound effect on consumer buying patterns" - "A national survey conducted by the Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) concludes that U.S. consumers are increasingly aware of ag biotechnology, but have not changed their food consumption behavior, despite publicity over the recall of taco shells allegedly containing unapproved biotech corn." (AgWeb.com)

"Japan corn imports seen unharmed by US food recall" - "TOKYO, Oct 13 - Another recall of foods containing gene-spliced corn in the United States has rekindled concern about food safety among Japanese importers, but traders said on Friday it may not hurt Japan`s appetite for U.S. corn." (Reuters)

"World Food Prize panelists: Ag biotechnology part of the long-term solution" - "Des Moines, Iowa - At the 2000 World Food Prize International Symposium today, a panel discussed the trends in genetically modified crop usage. A key talking point among the panel was increasing the use of the crop technology is developing countries." (AgWeb.com)

"FDA official: Biotech foods safer than hybridization" - "Des Moines, Iowa - At the World Food Prize Symposium on biotech foods, and FDA official told participants that biotech foods pose fewer health risks because there is less genetic change than hybridization. "When you are dealing with biotech crops, you are changing just one or two genes of the plant's structure. With hybridization, there are more genes involved and more uncertainty," said Dr. Bernard Schwetz, acting Deputy Commissioner, FDA." (AgWeb.com)

"Biotech Crops As 'Health Food?'" - "Genetically engineered food—is it potentially a good thing, or not? Opponents call it "Frankenstein food," unsafe and untested. But, as CBS News Correspondent Wyatt Andrews reports, there are others who say it has the potential to be the greatest "health food" the world has ever seen." (CBS)

"Scientists differ on view of feeding hungry Africans" - "Des Moines, Iowa - During a panel discussion of the role genetically modified foods can play in developing countries, two scientists who have witnessed first-hand accounts of hunger in Africa presented differing approaches to solving the food shortage there." (AgWeb.com)

"Give biotech a chance to feed world, ag chief says" - "TUSKEGEE - Despite fears of genetically altered soybeans, corn and other crops, people will have to rely more and more on genetic engineering and other advances in science and technology to feed the world, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman said Tuesday. He said some critics want to stop research on genetically altered foods, but such a halt would be dangerous." (Birmingham News)

"Nobel prize winner challenges students to help fight world hunger" - "... Borlaug said the world's population has increased dramatically since he grew up on a farm in Cresco. He is credited with developing crop management practices that spurred the "Green Revolution." Borlaug said improved agricultural practices have helped increase world food production, but problems remain. "We need to distribute that food equitably," Borlaug said. "And there's where we run into the problem of poverty and lack of purchasing power." (Des Moines Register)

'World losing war on hunger' - "ROME: The international community is ''way behind'' its target to halve world hunger by 2015 in line with a pledge made at a 1996 food summit, the director-general of the United Nations' world food body has said. ''We are reducing the number of hungry people by eight million a year, but the necessary investment that has to go into agriculture is just not there,'' Jacques Diouf, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, told Reuters." (Times of India)

"Miracle Maize Creators Win World Food Prize" - "DES MOINES, Iowa, October 12, 2000 - The $250,000 Millennium World Food Prize has been awarded to biochemist Dr. Evangelina Villegas of Mexico and plant geneticist Dr. Surinder Vasal of India. Dr. Villegas is the first woman ever to receive the World Food Prize." (ENS) [Prize winner defends biotech crops]

"Food Prize GMOs" (Summary) - "According to the Associated Press, Alan Larson, U.S. undersecretary of state for economic, business and agricultural affairs stated that biotechnology 's role in agriculture is an important foreign policy issue and is a top priority to ensure that the fears about the safety of GMOs "do not hinder the technology's use in parts of the world that need it." (BKC)

"Genes Determine Health Benefits of a Drink a Day" - "PHILADELPHIA - Many studies have found that a moderate intake of alcohol--be it wine, beer or spirits--can reduce the risk of heart disease. Now, new study findings suggest that variations in a certain gene may give some alcohol-drinkers an advantage over others." (Reuters Health)

"Food for thought" - "For decades scientists have known that severely reducing food intake can extend the lives of species ranging from yeasts to rats. But no one has known why, or whether, a 30 to 40 percent reduction in calories would also have this effect on humans. ... In addition to low body temperature, some humans on the diet also report reduced libido. Researchers might expect to find few persons willing to miss out on sex, even to live to 130. The doughnuts and Big Mac folks can comfort themselves with Professor Guarente's hope that the magic drug might just be 10 years or so in the future." (Boston Globe) [Ups and Downs for Diet Guinea Pigs]

"Canada, U.S. smog deal" - "OTTAWA -- Canadian and U.S. negotiators have reached an agreement to limit smog-causing pollution that drifts across the border. The deal will primarily benefit Ontario and Quebec and adjoining states. The deal -- officially known as the ozone annex to the Canada-U.S. Air Quality Agreement -- will require a 50 per cent reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions from fossil-fuel power plants in southern Ontario. That requirement could cause friction between the federal and Ontario governments. Environment Minister David Anderson has indicated he is prepared to force emission reductions on Ontario if necessary." (CP)

"The Indignation Industry has no interest in righting wrongs" - "THE famous cry of the legendary Dr Heinz Kiosk: "We are all guilty!", needs updating. We were all guilty, of course, as Peter Simple's wonderful comic creation pointed out so long ago, and we are all guilty still, but we are now something else as well." (Minette Marrin in The Daily Telegraph)

"Routine screening for endometrial cancer unnecessary for tamoxifen users" - "NEW YORK, October 15, 2000 -- Women taking tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer receive no benefit from routine screening for endometrial cancer, a known risk associated with the drug. In an eight-year study conducted at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 111 breast cancer patients were screened with an endometrial biopsy (EMB) at the beginning of their treatment with tamoxifen with additional biopsies over a five-year period. The researchers reported no benefit to routine screening in their study published in the October 15, 2000 Journal of Clinical Oncology." (MS-KCC)

"Scientists detect mom's influence on obesity and diabetes" - "Nature and nurture go hand in hand, say scientists who study obesity and diabetes. In this month's issue of Genome Research, Edward Leiter and colleagues (The Jackson Laboratory) report that an animal's 'maternal environment' acts together with genetics to increase the risk of obesity and obesity-related diabetes. Type II diabetes particularly afflicts obese individuals. Numerous genes and environmental factors, like sedentary lifestyle, interact to produce a predisposition for diabetes (diabesity), making it difficult to tease out individual suspects. In the current report, Leiter and colleagues perform an ingenious experiment to identify specific gene-environment interactions affecting diabesity." (CSHL)

"Nannies Go Global" - "The Economist reports on efforts of the World Health Organization (WHO) to make international laws that would damage the tobacco industry and prevent people from choosing to smoke. As WHO says, "The success or failure of this approach provides a test case for the more active involvement of the public-health community in international law-making." Could global attacks on alcohol and fatty foods be far behind?" (GuestChoice.com)

"Call to develop GM 'terminator' genes should be developed" - "Genetically modified (GM) crops with terminator genes, which will be unable to flower or reproduce without being "switched on", should be developed further by scientists, a committee of senior government advisers is to recommend. The controversial advice, from the Department of the Environment's expert body on GM crops, will infuriate environmental groups who claim plants with "junkie genes" should be banned. The report, to be published later this month, will suggest that there should be more research into "terminator" style technology. It will say that the potential of the technology has not yet been fully explored and is still in its infancy. The government advisers also want scientists to do further work to create infertile crops to stop them reproducing themselves. The report by the sub-group on Best Practice in GM Crop Design, part of the Advisory Committee on Releases into the Environment, will argue that such technology has great potential to protect the environment and stop the creation of cross-breed crops." (Independent)

"Trading Obesity's Dangers for Surgery's" - "Obesity is now one of the United States' worst public health problems. It greatly increases the risk of illnesses that are among the nation's leading causes of death, including diabetes, heart disease, respiratory problems and some forms of cancer." (NY Times)

"Ironic Processing" - "How Al Gore’s pursuit of "central organizing principles" winds up slicing us into ever-narrowing interest groups." (Virginia Postrel, Reason Magazine)

"Fibre - the pendulum swings" - "... Perhaps it is not always food itself which makes us ill. Perhaps it is the fear of food, and the anxieties that people currently experience about eating 'correctly', which will turn out to be the bigger villains." (SIRC)

"Asia's thirst for oil pushing up prices" - "HONGKONG -- Cathay Pacific Airways is adding flights to accommodate extra passengers. In China, cars and lorries are logging more miles. And in South Korea, the nation's giant steel mills are boosting production in response to stronger demand. Asia's economies are shaking off the effects of the 1997 financial crisis more rapidly than almost anyone expected. But as it rumbles back to life, this region is gulping oil again, boosting worldwide demand for energy and making it much easier for oil-producing nations to maintain higher prices. Just as the implosion of booming Asian economies three years ago triggered a glut that drove the price of crude oil down to around US$10 (S$17) a barrel, the region's comeback has played a key role in pushing prices to above US$37 a barrel last month." (Straits Times)

"Doctors alarmed as more patients consult internet" - "DOCTORS are being undermined by people turning to the internet for self-diagnosis, says a report." (Telegraph)

Great - people should always seek knowledge - just be very aware that about nine-tenths of what you find on the 'net is composed of fraudulent fears, hypochondria and utter garbage. How do lay people tell the difference? Here's a very rough guide:

  1. if they want any fees then go somewhere else;
  2. if the site accepts donations - forget it, it's probably trying to frighten you into giving them money (many do sell information booklets for a nominal fee and that's quite different - these cost money to produce and some profit to support the site may be reasonable);
  3. if it's a conservation or "public interest group" get out immediately because they're pushing an agenda and you're just a tool;
  4. if they don't recommend that you see your physician if you have any doubts whatsoever then they are definitely disingenuous;
  5. if the site causes you fear or anxiety then it is definitely worthless;
  6. if the site suggests it can perform online diagnoses then it is utter garbage for no web page can do so.

On the other hand, if:

  1. the site is generally reassuring;
  2. it contains easy to understand information in general terms;
  3. the site links to government documentation, peer reviewed journals and/or hospital outreach services for further information;
  4. it recommends that you see your own physician or trusted health professional under either specific circumstances or any  personal doubt,

then congratulations - you may have found a worthwhile resource (don't bet on it though). Remember, there's a very good reason medical personnel spent years in training and it isn't usually because they had nothing better to do at the time.

October 13, 2000

"The Tail End of the Fiber Myth" - "If you've been shoveling down high-fiber cereals every morning in hopes of preventing colon cancer, you can stop. The 30-year-old notion that cereal fiber reduces colon cancer risk is turning out to be yet another government-sanctioned myth. It may be time for the Food and Drug Administration to butt out of our colons." (Fox News)

"No Vaccine For Stupidity" - "Terrorists have once again destroyed what they think were genetically improved crops on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. The activists say they are concerned with this "wave of biotech research which is being used to insert drugs and vaccines into our food supply." But what these criminal activists fail to take into account, according to the American College of Nutrition's Stanley Wallach, is that "to the world's malnourished populations, biotechnology advances are literally a life-and-death proposition and hold out the promise for millions to live longer, healthier and more productive lives." (GuestChoice.com)

"Americans Say World Hunger is More Urgent Than Pollution, Disease or Global Warming" - "Americans believe hunger and malnutrition are more urgent global problems than disease, pollution and global warming, finds a new poll released today at the World Food Prize awards in Des Moines, Iowa. According to the survey of 1,000 adults, conducted for the Alliance for Better Foods, hunger and malnutrition are considered an urgent problem by 75 percent of American adults, compared with the 68 percent who feel disease and epidemics are urgent problems; 66 percent for pollution and environmental damage; and 43 percent for global warming." (AgWeb.com)

Pre-COP6 hype: "Alarming rise in CO2 concentrations presents continuing global challenge" - "Paul G. Falkowski, a professor at Rutgers' Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences (IMCS) with a joint appointment to the geology department, is the lead author of an article in the Oct.13 issue of Science that shows that in the course of the last 200 years, humans have significantly altered the global carbon cycle." (Rutgers)

Indeed we may have. Uh... all this carbon we're liberating to atmosphere from fossil fuels - where'd it come from before being bound in these deposits?

Let's see. Coal is the remains of trees and vegetation that's been buried and compressed for a very long time so these old plants would have derived their carbon content basically from atmospheric CO2. Oil is the remains of ancient plankton that also sourced its carbon from atmospheric CO2. Hmm...

In Termination of global warmth at the Palaeocene/Eocene boundary through productivity feedback (Nature 407, 171-174), Bains et al, ascribe huge reduction in available CO2 to biological activity, stating: The unusually rapid return of 13C to values similar to those before the methane release and the apparent coupling of the accumulation rates of biogenic barium to temperature, suggests that the enhanced deposition of organic matter to the deep sea may have efficiently cooled this greenhouse climate by the rapid removal of excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

It is also true that regions which were carbon sources a few decades ago, e.g. Arctic tundra, have increased biological activity and are now carbon sinks. This suggests that the biosphere's limiting parameter may be the availability of atmospheric carbon coupled with lower bound temperature and that biological activity will expand and decrease according to the limits of that availability under conditions of adequate warmth. Further, it suggests that enhanced biological activity will not permit our rather puny efforts at atmospheric carbon enhancement to exceed certainly tightly constrained bounds. This may explain why increases in atmospheric CO2 are slowing while emissions of CO2 are increasing.

While it appears that human action is facilitating an increase in life on Earth, it seems we'll have to work a lot harder at carbon liberation if we really want to see the biosphere prosper.

"Return to Colder Winter Weather Expected" - "WASHINGTON - U.S. government weather scientists announced on Thursday that the recent string of record warm winters experienced by the United States may be over, and forecast a return to normal colder temperatures for the upcoming season. "We've probably forgotten over the last three years what a normal winter is like. With La Nina and El Nino out of the way, normal winter weather has a chance to return to the U.S. this year," said D. James Baker, who heads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In its winter outlook, NOAA forecast that the Northeast region could see average temperatures 4 degrees Fahrenheit colder than during the last three winters." (Reuters)

"Jet stream pattern anchors rainfall over Britain" - "Scientists are divided as to whether global warming is making depressions of this sort worse, Mr Clarke said. “There are models that suggest that as the climate gets warmer, the increasing volume of water vapour in the atmosphere will make depressions more intense, giving them extra energy,” he said. “Not everyone agrees with this, though. Changes to the ice caps could also interfere with the jet stream, making intense depressions less likely.” (The Times)

"Yielding Positive Results; Gene Revolution As A Farming Aid" - "In recent times, there have been a flurry of arguments against making the fruits of biotechnology available to India's farmers. Biotechnology which benefits private companies cannot possibly be good for the farmer or consumer, goes a popular argument. Indeed, the reasoning goes that biotechnology be denied to farmers since it is sure to bring about their ruination. This kind of convoluted logic was acceptable in the pre-1991 socialistic period when merit was elitist, big was bad and consumer goods were considered a sinful luxury from the decadent West. Such arguments are considered mediaeval today. In the past, such logic would have gone unchallenged. Not any more. It is these kinds of arguments by those who are unaware the reality on the ground that have led to farmers being denied the fruits of development more than 50 years after independence." (Times of India)

"Genetic engineering creates rice with 26% higher yield" - "Korean scientists have created a strain of genetically altered rice that they claim could boost output by up to 26 percent. Experts say the development sets a new milestone in global efforts to use bioengineering to address food shortages." (Korean Herald)

"Genetic Engineering News Reports Biofirms Make Strides in Neuron Repair" - "LARCHMONT, N.Y.--Oct. 11, 2000--Biotechnology companies are challenging the paradigm of the past that nerve cells cannot regenerate once damaged, reports Genetic Engineering News (GEN) (www.genengnews.com). A number of firms are showing that a shift is on the horizon in that damaged neurons may be repaired and several current difficult-to-treat neurological conditions may be amenable to novel therapies, according to the October 1 issue of GEN." (BW HealthWire)

"Bioengineered Corn Withdrawn" - "WASHINGTON - A type of genetically engineered corn that is not approved for food use was withdrawn from the market at the government's urging Thursday after the crop showed up in additional brands of taco shells. ... The health risks from the corn, ``if any, are extremely low,'' the EPA said in a statement. But because ``Aventis was responsible for ensuring that StarLink corn only be used in animal feed, and that responsibility clearly was not met, today's action was necessary,'' the agency said." (AP) [Engineered Corn Found in More Tacos]

"Cracking up over taco shells" - "Kraft Foods has recalled all Taco Bell Originals taco shells because samples of the product contain a strain of gene-spliced corn not approved for human food use. The recall followed a report that tests of the taco shells had detected genetically engineered corn containing a protein called Cry9c. This bacterial protein, introduced into corn with gene-splicing techniques, has not been approved for human consumption because of a theoretical possibility that it could cause an allergic reaction. For that reason, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has authorized the use of the corn only in animal feed. Under the circumstances, Kraft's voluntary recall is appropriate damage-control by a company that may be in violation of approval granted by a regulatory agency, in this case the EPA. There is more to the story, however." (Henry Miller in the Washington Times)

"New agreement prevents Starlink corn planting - EPA" - "WASHINGTON - Starlink corn, a genetically-modified variety of corn not approved for human consumption that has been found in grocery store taco shells, will no longer be planted in the United States for any agricultural purpose, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said yesterday." (Reuters)

"Taking The Road Already Traveled" - "The anti-biotech activists at Genetic ID are making headlines again, reporting that they've found more taco shells with traces of genetically improved corn, this time in Safeway-brand taco shells. This comes as no real surprise, since, as the New York Times says, "Mission Foods, the Safeway supplier, is owned by the same Mexican company, Gruma S.A., that owns Azteca Milling. Azteca's mill in Plainview, Tex., was determined to be the source of the corn flour used in the Kraft Tacos and the mill is also a supplier to Mission Foods." So this is just the same story with a slightly different twist. As Henry Miller of the Hudson Institute writes in the Washington Times, what's the big deal anyway. "What we need is not to punish [food companies] for marketing taco shells that contain an improved, insect resistant, low-fungal-toxin, potentially more healthful corn, but to 'craft' federal regulation so that biotech's shackles are removed. Regulation would then make more sense, cost less, offer greater benefits to the consumer and stimulate innovation." (GuestChoice.com)

"Little evidence that GMO's unsafe" - "Cape Town - There is little scientific evidence that genetically modified plants and foodstuffs have a negative effect on human or animal life, Parliament's environmental affairs portfolio committee heard on Wednesday. Briefing the committee, department of agriculture registrar Dr Shadrack Moephuli said that, on the contrary, the technology relating to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) held great advantages for South Africa's developing communities. "We are battling to try and find evidence that GMOs... have a negative impact on the environment or human health," he said. (News24)

"ANALYSIS - Asia farming on horns of a dilemma over GMO" - "SINGAPORE - Asia, home to three fifths of the world's people, faces a dilemma - how to feed a growing population without disrupting traditional farming methods that help social and political stability. The U.N.'s world food body, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), said in a recent report biotechnology could make a huge contribution to reducing world hunger and reverse a trend towards disappointing crop yields. But lobby groups and environmentalists in Asia say biotech poses potential risks for food safety, intellectual property rights and traditional farming methods." (Reuters)

Check out the next line

"The interests of those propagating genetic engineering are the same as those that brought us the green revolution - they want to make farmers dependent on multinational companies," said Von Hernandez, Greenpeace campaign director for Southeast Asia.

So... the green revolution, which saved millions from starving to death and improved the quality of life for almost one-third of the global human population, is supposed to be a bad thing?

Assuming that there are some out there who value animals and "nature" more than people (actually I know so because I interact with plenty of them daily), what about wildlife and habitat? Consider this piece: The importance of high farm yields to wildlife conservation

"Indian scientist wins world food prize" - "WASHINGTON: Indian plant geneticist Surinder K Vasal has been awarded the prestigious Millennium World Food Prize along with Mexican biochemist Evangelina Villegas for lifetime work to develop a higher-yielding, protein-rich corn that could help prevent malnutrition in millions of people." (Times of India)

"Entire Genome Of One STD-Causing Bacterium Sequenced" - "Scientists have sequenced the entire genome of a sexually transmitted bacterium, Ureaplasma urealyticum, that infects an estimated 60 percent to 80 percent of adults and, if passed on to newborn infants, can cause in them meningitis, pneumonia, and even death. "The results of this project add to the rapidly growing list of pathogenic microbes whose genomes have been sequenced," says Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which helped support the research. "This breakthrough will lead to a much better understanding of how U. urealyticum causes disease, and should allow scientists to devise better treatments against it." (Unisci)

"Growing up too soon?" - "Overall, the age at which menstruation begins (currently between 12 and 13) hasn't changed in about 50 years, statistics show. But the initial signs of puberty - breast ''buds'' and pubic hair - are showing up earlier than the age that pediatricians long believed was the threshhold of normal puberty. ... Scientists say there's little proof for one popular explanation for the physical changes: that hormone-like chemicals in milk, meat and the environment have accelerated puberty. More likely, they say, the epidemic of childhood inactivity and obesity, especially pronounced in African-American children, has triggered earlier puberty." (Boston globe)

"Fat Chance!" - "National Public Radio gives a thumbs-up review of the no-calorie, no-cholesterol fat-substitute Olestra. However, the Center for Science in the Public Interest appears in the story, citing questionable statistics that disparage a product that millions of consumers could benefit from. Does the $20,000 CSPI received from the Helena Rubinstein Foundation in 1997 to vilify Olestra have something to do with its position?" (GuestChoice.com)

See also: Afflicted with acute activist agonies

"IF ELECTED, GORE HAS IT IN FOR YOUR AUTOMOBILE" - "With all the focus on female voters in this year's election, it's a wonder no one has mentioned the presidential candidates' positions on a woman's right to choose--her mode of transportation, that is. For millions of women, especially mothers, the private automobile represents freedom. Yet, one candidate sees the automobile as enemy No. 1: "a mortal threat to the security of every nation that is more deadly than that of any military enemy we are ever again likely to confront," warned Al Gore in his 1993 treatise "Earth in the Balance." (Linda Chavez in the Chicago Tribune)

"Smoking harmful, but still a right, tobacco firm tells WHO" - "GENEVA, Switzerland -- One of the world's leading tobacco companies defended the right of adults to smoke, even as it admitted cigarettes are harmful." (CNN)

"Investigational drug study may determine if lung cancer is preventable in cigarette smokers" - "CHICAGO --- Researchers at The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University are seeking participants for a study of an investigational drug that may prevent cigarette smokers from developing lung cancer. Cigarette smoke contains chemicals that become carcinogens when initially metabolized by the human body. The National Cancer Institute-sponsored study will determine if the experimental drug may be able to decrease the amount of carcinogens produced from inhaled cigarette smoke." (NU)

"European Ministers Weaken Ozone Initiative" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium, October 12, 2000 - Environment ministers have watered down the European Commission's measures to deal with ozone pollution, said the region's largest coalition of pressure groups, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), today. The Council of Ministers from the 15 member countries of the European Union met in Luxembourg on Tuesday to discuss the European Commission's proposal for a law, known as a directive, on ozone concentrations in ambient air." (ENS)

"Ontario seeks federal support in smog battle" - "The Ontario government has demanded that federal Environment Minister David Anderson stop criticizing the province's record on air pollution and demand stronger commitments from the United States to fight toxic emissions going into the atmosphere. However, the action comes as an environmental watchdog group says the provincial Tories are failing miserably to reduce smog-causing emissions in the province." (GAM)

"The big tire blowout" - "Add common sense to the casualties from the Firestone tire fiasco. A Washington Post analysis of Florida crash statistics published Monday sought to show that the Ford Explorer has a higher rate of tire-related accidents than other sport-utility vehicles, even when the SUV is fitted with Goodyear tires. The Post concludes that Ford design flaws, and not Firestone tires, may be to blame for the largest product recall since Tylenol. ... Alarmed by the Post analysis of the Explorer, MPs in Ottawa called for a similar study to be done in Canada. But there are some obvious flaws in the Post study. First, it is wrong to compare the accident rate of Explorers with the entire universe of SUVs, which can range from two-seaters to leviathans. Second, the sample used in the Post analysis was so small that the findings could have resulted from a statistical fluke. Third, if you look at accidents during the entire decade of the 1990s, not the 1997-to-1999 period the Post used, you will find Explorers enjoy a lower fatality and rollover rate than comparable SUVs." (National Post)

"Flying high on fumes" - "THE British Aerospace 146, a popular passenger and cargo jet, makes its occupants sick, a Senate committee found yesterday. The Senate Transport References Committee, which has been investigating claims of toxic fumes in the aircraft since November last year, yesterday opened the way for victims to claim compensation." (Sydney Daily Telegraph) [MPs hit out over oil fumes in jets]

"Deadly threat of transport pollution" - "Londoners are more likely to die from traffic pollution than in a road accident, according to a new report. Experts have concluded that there are around 380 deaths a year linked to air pollution from transport in the capital - 150 more than die in road accidents. Their report, commissioned by the NHS Executive in London and backed by the Greater London Authority also concludes that transport-related pollution puts another 1,200 people in hospital every year." (BBC Online)

Hmm... on the night of December 4/5, 1952, thick fog rolled into London. This persisted 4 days until a new weather system arrived and blew the air clear. At least 4,000 and possibly as many as 12,000 people died in London as a result of what became known as "killer fog" - it was certainly neither the first nor the last instance but perhaps the most dramatic and best publicised. At least a half-million people suffered respiratory distress from that one instance. The cause? A combination of 4 days of cold, windless weather and reliance on wood and coal for domestic heating.

Now, almost 50 years on, despite having a significantly larger population, with an older mean age and massively increased traffic volume, there might be as many 400 deaths per year associated with air pollution in the capital (doubtful).

Question: has generation of affordable baseload electricity (mainly from fossil fuels), the affordable availability of oil and gas domestic heating fuels and technological improvement in motor vehicles led to a decline in London's air quality?

I suspect these reporters wouldn't recognise a deadly threat if it leapt up and bit them on the butt.

"EU transport pollution cut, Auto-Oil results show" - "BRUSSELS - Most types of pollution from road transport in the European Union will be reduced to 20 percent of 1995 levels by 2020, the European Commission said in a report yesterday. The calculation was made in the EU's "Auto-Oil II" programme, the second research and consultation process aimed at finding the most cost-effective ways to reduce emissions from cars and other road vehicles." (Reuters)

"Animal welfare cannot be a trade weapon - Cairns Group" - "BANFF, Alberta - The Cairns Group of agricultural exporting countries expressed anger yesterday that animal welfare issues had become part of their trade fight with the European Union and the United States. Ministers of the 18-country alliance wrapped up a strategy session in this scenic Rocky Mountain town, claiming also to have growing support in the Third World for their attempt to end what it believes are unfair restrictions on agricultural trade." (Reuters)

"Birth defects 'not due to radiation'" - "THE children of men working in the nuclear industry are not at greater risk of genetic defects, a new study suggests. A survey of more than 13,000 workers found no link between a father's exposure to low-level radiation and congenital disease in his offspring." (Telegraph) ["Fetal death and the nuclear industry" - 'We found no evidence of a link between exposure to low-level ionising radiation before conception and increased risk of adverse reproduction outcome in men working in the nuclear industry']

?!! "Control gene pool, says ethicist" - "The state of a nation's gene pool should be subject to government policies rather than left to the whim of individuals, a World Health Organisation ethicist told a symposium yesterday." (The Age)

"Farm slump threatens environment" - "THE familiar British landscape of cultivated fields and tended hedgerows could be reduced to heath and scrubland as a consequence of plummeting farm incomes. Vast tracts of the uplands could return to wilderness if the worsening rural recession continues to drive farmers off the land and forces people back into towns, according to accountants Deloitte & Touche who yesterday revealed that farm incomes were down 90 per cent from five years ago. Without profits, farmers cannot afford to spend spare cash on environmental schemes, hedges, paths, bridleways or even the general upkeep of their farms." (The Times)

But... profits are supposed to be really bad and farmers environmental vandals - at least according to the conservation fraternity. Now we find that farmers actually need to make a living wage and make a profit in order to protect the environment? What'll they think of next...

"Possible Association Between Agent Orange And Diabetes"

New evidence supports the possibility of an association between chemicals used in herbicides during the Vietnam War and adult-onset (Type 2) diabetes, but it stops short of making a clear link, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies. (UniSci) [Herbicides, Diabetes Linked in New Study]

Vietnam Flashback – Does Agent Orange Cause Diabetes?

U.S. veterans groups have long considered Agent Orange, the controversial herbicide used to defoliate jungles during the Vietnam War, a bigger villain than Ho Chi Minh and Henry Kissinger combined. Agent Orange exposure has been blamed for virtually any disease Vietnam vets and their offspring have ever suffered since the soldiers finished their tours of duty. These include everything from recurring rashes, dizziness, nausea, migraine headaches, stomach aches, and clinical depression to a plethora of cancers and birth defects.

JUNK of the day: Agent Orange and Diabetes - The most recent U.S. Air Force report on the personnel exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War reports "a significant and potentially meaningful adverse relation between serum dioxin levels and diabetes." CNN | AP | MSNBC

But the alleged "adverse relation" is weak and statistically insignificant. Moreover, cholesterol and triglyceride levels were reported to increase with serum dioxin levels -- meaning the observed diabetes was likely a result of obesity, an established risk factor.

Why did the Air Force draw an unwarranted conclusion? Politics. It wants to show Congress that, indeed, Air Force scientists were sufficiently diligent in finding some harm caused by Agent Orange exposure -- even if that harm had to be fabricated.

"Agent Orange and Diabetes: Diving Into Murky Depths" - Gina Kolata reports in The New York Times about the new Agent Orange study. Kolata points out, "The study compared the health of 859 veterans of Operation Ranch Hand, in which the defoliant Agent Orange was sprayed on much of the landscape during the Vietnam War, to that of 1,232 who did not spray the chemical. There was no difference in the incidence of diabetes in the two groups -- 16.9 percent of the Ranch Hand group was diabetic and 17 percent of the control group was diabetic." Note the quotes from Mike Gough.

BEN & JERRY'S MOMENT of the day: "Air Force study further supports Agent Orange, diabetes link" - "A study to be released Wednesday by the U.S. Air Force provides more data supporting a possible link between exposure to the defoliant Agent Orange and adult onset diabetes, according to Pentagon sources." (CNN)

The good news for Ben & Jerry's, whose ice cream is chock-full of dioxin, is that the reported association in the Air Force study is probably artefactual rather than causal. Other studies of human populations heavily exposed to dioxin have not reported statistically significant associations with diabetes.
  • "A cross sectional study of workers employed > 15 years earlier in the manufacture of 2,4,5-trichlorophenol or one of its derivatives at two United States chemical plants was conducted. The referent group consisted of people with no occupational exposure to phenoxy herbicides and were recruited from the neighbourhoods where the workers lived... A total of 281 workers and 260 unexposed referents participated... Overall, the prevalence of diabetes mellitus was not significantly different between the workers and referents. Also, there was not a significant positive trend between prevalence of diabetes and increasing serum TCDD concentration." [Occup Environ Med 1999 Apr;56(4):270-6]
  • "We did cohort mortality analyses involving 5132 chemical workers at 12 U.S. plants by use of life table techniques (U.S. population referent) and Cox regression (internal referent). We conducted exposure-response analyses for 69% of the cohort with adequate work history data and adequate plant data on TCDD contamination... Diabetes (any mention on the death certificate) showed a negative exposure-response trend." [J Natl Cancer Inst 1999 May 5;91(9):779-86]
  • No significant increase in diabetes among males or females in the highest exposure zones of the 1976 Seveso industrial accident. [Occup Environ Med 1998 Feb;55(2):126-31]
  • No statistically significant association between dioxin exposure and diabetes reported in workers and sprayers included in an international study comprising 36 cohorts from 12 countries followed from 1939 to 1992. [Environ Health Perspect 1998 Apr;106 Suppl 2:645-53]
Another recent study of the Air Force veterans reported a nonsignificant association between serum dioxin levels and diabetes that was further attenuated by adjusting for serum triglycerides. [Epidemiology. 2000 Jan;11(1):44-8]

It could be that obesity -- an established risk factor for diabetes -- is the actual causal factor while the dioxin-diabetes association is an artefact of obese personnel having higher dioxin levels because they have more dioxin-harboring fat tissue.

October 12, 2000

"Asia Weather - Heavy rains sign of climate shift" - "SINGAPORE - Heavy rains and flooding in southern parts of Asia this year coupled with drought across swathes of Central Asia may be a sign of more profound climate change, according to a top U.N. weather expert. ... He stopped short of tying the phenomenon directly to global warming, but said it would not be "inconsistent" to link heavier rainfall in some areas and drought in others to rising world temperatures." (Reuters)

Global Tropospheric temperature anomaly graph, Global Stratospheric temperature anomaly graph. What global warming?

"Global-warming 'loopholes' hit" - "The Clinton administration is proposing "loopholes" in the global-warming treaty that are so big the United States could get away with doing almost nothing to comply, environmentalists say." (Washington Times)

Wait for it - here's my favourite bit:

"Several leading environmental groups, including Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund, are threatening to withdraw support for the treaty if the loopholes are approved."

I have pondered this and think it means we're supposed to be upset they might not support the rotten thing. Ooooh!

"Second guess on the gas" - "For 20 years global efforts to curb climate change have concentrated on finding ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from industry and transport. But could that approach be fundamentally wrong?" (Guardian) [Sinking feelings]

"Group skeptical of Australia reaching greenhouse emission targets" - "The Mining Council of Australia says the Federal Government must acknowledge it will not reach greenhouse gas emission targets set by the 1997 Kyoto agreement. The council also says the current terms of the agreement are ineffective and unfair. The Mining Council says a new study shows there will be falls in employment of up to 11 per cent in areas of regional and rural Australia if terms of the Kyoto Protocol are met." (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

"JAPAN: MITI TO CONSIDER MARKET MECHANISMS TO CUT CO2 EMISSIONS" - "TOKYO, Oct 11 -- The International Trade and Industry Ministry will begin exploring Friday what kind of market mechanisms Japan should introduce to attain its reduction target for greenhouse-gas emissions under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, ministry officials said Wednesday. The ministry envisions such mechanisms as an emission trade and an environment tax on fossil fuels, the officials said." (Oana-Kyodo)

"Polluters plant rain forests to earn eco rain checks" - "We've struggled for years to find a value of living forests that's greater than the value of clearing them for lumber or slash-and-burn agriculture," says Tia Nelson of The Nature Conservancy, the Arlington, Va.,-based land trust that's brokered several large forest-protection projects in Latin America. "Suddenly investors and decisionmakers are recognizing the value forests play in climate change." (CSM)

Great - I love trees - in fact, my home's made from ex-trees. Uh... this "pollution" they're talking about... that's an odd reclassification for an essential trace gas like carbon dioxide - virtually all life on Earth is dependent on its availability. Strange.

Plant trees because you like 'em or you want the product and that's great - they're no global thermostat though and it's silly to use a non-existent "problem" as your motivation.

"‘Geritol’ not likely a warming cure" - "Oct. 11 —  The global warming “Geritol” experiment off Antarctica — essentially adding iron to the ocean to reduce a key greenhouse gas — works but it might not be such a good idea in practice, scientists report in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature." (MSNBC) [New Scientist]

" Reef dust phenomena attracts Aussie scientists" - "Australian scientists are eager to learn more about controversial research which shows dust from the African desert is rejuvenating reefs in the Caribbean. The study has been done by Florida scientists using satellites to track dust from dust-bowls in Africa, across to the Carribean ocean. It will be raised at an International Coral Reef Symposium in Indonesia later this month." (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

It's rejuvenating Caribbean reefs now? How things change...

July 3, 1999 "Coral Grief" - "DUST FROM AFRICAN DESERTS may be spreading disease across the world's coral reefs, say researchers who also blame the fallout for a global rise in respiratory infections. Dick Barber of Duke University in Beaufort, North Carolina, says that prolonged drought in the Sahel region of Africa since the mid-1970s has increased the amount of atmospheric dust fivefold. Blown high into the atmosphere and carried around the world by winds, the dust contains bacteria, viruses and fungi that can kill coral. It is also rich in iron, which can fertilise algae that smother reefs, Barber told a meeting of the US Global Change Research Program in Washington DC last week. Coral reefs are being blighted with epidemics including white band and black band disease and a bacterial infection known as "coral plague". Outbreaks of these diseases--and others that were previously unknown--have coincided with years when the dust load in the atmosphere was highest, according to Gene Shinn of the US Geological Survey's Center for Coastal Geology at St Petersburg, Florida. The Caribbean is particularly badly affected, as roughly a billion tonnes of African dust settles there each year. The strongest evidence linking African dust and coral disease is the spread of a soil fungus called Aspergillus in the Caribbean. It first appeared in 1983, an exceptionally dusty year. Since then it has killed more than 90 per cent of the Caribbean's sea fans--a form of soft coral."

"Bill would extend energy tax credit" - "Washington -- Alaska Sens. Frank Murkowski and Ted Stevens on Tuesday introduced legislation to extend a tax credit to promote more energy development. The Republican senators said the bill is important not only for the country, but will help promote development of billions of additional barrels of oil from Alaska's West Sak field in the Prudhoe Bay area. The Clinton-Gore administration for several years has been seeking to end the credit, which doesn't apply to any facility built after July 1, 1998, Murkowski said in a statement." (AP)

"Reactors Draw American Interest" - "US Power utility Peco Energy is set to apply for a US licence to build up to 10 mini nuclear reactors at a cost of about 120m each, boosting hope of an export market for the SA technology on which the reactors are based. Peco president and CEO Corbin McNeill said in an interview yesterday the licence application would depend on the outcome of a feasibility study being conducted on the pebble bed reactor, but it showed "enormous potential"." (AllAfrica.com)

"Ozone alert" - "Record levels of UV radiation in South American cities could be repeated in northern Europe." (New Scientist)

At least this NS item mentions that Punta Arenas has indeed seen the edge of the "hole" before and that it is not a particularly big deal, lasting about a day. The question, of course, is whether or not the annual Antarctic Ozone Anomaly is a new phenomenon or simply a normal event that humanity has only just discovered.

Maybe it's not so new: June 21, 1999 Sun to blame for ozone hole, not people claim scientists - "The hole in the ozone layer in the South Pole is due to the Sun, not people, according to research by a Chinese scientist, Xinhua news agency said today. Yang Xuexiang, a professor of geological sciences at Changchun University of Technology, believes the damage is caused by solar winds, a current of high-energy particles, rather than the use of freon, the official news agency said."

Could the professor be right? We don't have records of measurements to check and suitable proxies are difficult to find on the frozen continent, so we must settle for whatever clues we can find. But what?

Back in February, NS reported that plankton seem to be holding their own, despite the "new" threat of increased UVB from the "hole": The hole story? How are these critters managing with such "radical change"?

From the Australian Antarctic Division: Cunning crustaceans beat ozone hole. Hmm... local creatures produce and accumulate their own sunscreens and engage in defensive behaviours. Did these creatures spontaneously develop these defences at the first appearance of the AOA? That would seem biologically implausible. It seems Antarctic creatures, from algae to krill, have evolved defensive strategies to protect themselves from excessive solar radiation, these strategies are distributed across the population and it seems logical to assume that these strategies must have been developed over millennia rather than decades. This certainly does not constitute any form of proof but may provide some supportive evidence for the hypothesis that the AOA has been occurring for millennia.

Incidentally, how great was the UV bombardment of the oft-mentioned Puntas Arenas? "The amount of ultraviolet radiation reaching the ground on that day was about the same as the average amount that hits Washington, DC on the first day of spring or fall." See also Virtual Climate Alert #35

"Studded tyres cause serious air pollution" - "Studded tyres, used on vehicles in Finland during the winter months, have now been cited as a major cause of airborne particles, scouring out as much as 200,000 tons of asphalt pavement annually. The amount is a great deal larger - by a factor of several times - than the particle emissions sent into the air from chimneys at all of those Finnish industrial and energy-generating plants required to report their emissions. The particle emission figures from traffic and industry have declined in recent years, but the spread of wood-burning stoves threatens air quality in built-up areas. Around half a million Finns suffer either temporarily or on a regular basis from health problems caused by airborne particle emissions." (Helsingin Sanomat, Finland)

Dateline Canada - Pot calls kettle black: "Greenpeace accuses food agency of bias" - "OTTAWA -- The federal government kept the public from hearing the full range of opinions on genetically modified foods in a commissioned article that appears in this month's Canadian Living, says Greenpeace." (CP)

"Starlink Corn Found in Second Food Product - Group" - "WASHINGTON - A biotech corn variety found last month in Taco Bell taco shells and intended only for use as a livestock feed has been detected in a second human food product, a consumer advocacy group said on Wednesday. Genetically Engineered Food Alert, a coalition of health, consumer and environmental groups, said it would announce the product at a news conference on Thursday. ``It'll be a product that people have heard about,'' said Matt Rand, biotechnology specialist for the National Environmental Trust and co-coordinator of the GE Food Alert campaign." (Reuters)

How quaint - pre publicity teasers for "alerts". Obviously so concerned about the "issue" that they indulge in media and self-promotion games.

"Environmental Group Seeks UK Biocrop Criminal Charges" - "LONDON -- The U.K. environmental group Friends of the Earth is calling for a criminal investigation into a gene-modified crop trial that took place in the southwest in 1998, the group said in a press release Tuesday. FOE submitted a dossier to the U.K.`s Director of Public Prosecutions that alleges ``possible criminal offenses`` by a manager from seed marketing company Advanta, and by an officer from the National Institute for Agricultural Botany. FOE said illegally planting a GM crop, making a false statement and perjury may have been committed. The charges stem from the FOE`s belief that Advanta and NIAB officers made statements that misled the public into thinking all of the GM trial site in Devon was destroyed, following the destruction of part of a site in 1998 by protesters." (Dow Jones Newswires)

Today's "Oh good grief!": "GM giant 'will threaten seed supplies'" - "Four groups concerned at the potential impact of genetically-modified (GM) plants say a planned new company will threaten farmers in developing countries." (BBC Online)

"EU Publishes Interim Biocrop Import Monitoring Measures" - "LONDON -- The European Union Tuesday published interim measures for dealing with the adventitious presence of genetically modified seed in conventional seed, the U.K. Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food said in a press release Tuesday. The measures follow the discovery of gene-modified seed contamination in imported rapeseed from Canada. The E.U. then agreed a clear framework was needed for future cases." (Dow Jones Newswires)

"Some Brazilian farmers still find a way to raise Roundup Ready soybeans" - "It's going to be increasingly difficult for Brazil to assure export buyers in Japan and Europe that soybeans coming from the southern ports of that country are really GMO-free. Despite a strong opposition to transgenic beans -- Roundup Ready varieties -- in the states of Parana and Rio Grande do Sul, that sentiment isn't share uniformly in other states. And certainly not by many farmers." (AgWeb.com)

'"Biotech will not feed the world" say Oxfam Canada, Greenpeace and CUSO' - "OTTAWA, Oct. 11 /CNW/ - Three Canadian advocacy and development agencies warned today not to look to genetically engineered food to solve the problem of world hunger. Oxfam Canada, Greenpeace and CUSO are releasing new studies on biotechnology and food security in anticipation of the 20th anniversary of World Food Day, October 16th, an international day of hunger awareness." (CNW)

"Get The Real Scoop" - "The New York Times glosses over the conflict of interest readily apparent concerning the ownership of a genetically improved food testing company by John Fagan, an anti-genetically improved food activist. We've been following this story since last year and we've got the scoop on what the Times didn't tell you." (GuestChoice.com)

"ADM testing for presence of StarLink corn at all elevators and processing plants" - "Senior vice president of corporate affairs, Larry Cunningham, says StarLink corn will not be accepted at any of their facilities. He says he is not aware that any of their buyers have requested the move." (AgWeb.com)

"Gene barrier in corn may boost trade, environment" - "MADISON -- Working with teosinte, a wild cousin of maize, a University of Wisconsin-Madison scientist has found a molecular barrier that, bred into modern hybrid corn, is capable of completely locking out foreign genes, including those from genetically modified corn." (UW-M)

"WRAP: Judge orders Ford to recall as many as 1.7 million vehicles" - "New York--Oct 11--A California judge on Wednesday ordered Ford Motor Co. to recall as many as 1.7 million vehicles, saying the company lied to federal regulators when it claimed there were no problems with the ignition equipment on cars made from 1983 to 1995. The auto manufacturer, facing its second major recall in just over two months, said it would appeal the decision--the first time a court has ordered a recall of a vehicle." (Bridge News)

"Asthma inhaler OK for kids, study finds" - "ATLANTA, Georgia -- A widely used inhaled-steroid treatment for children with asthma works well and has no long-term effects, according to the largest ever controlled study of treatments for childhood asthma." (CNN)

"Bill would delay regulation of research rats" - "WASHINGTON -- Lawmakers are moving to prevent the government from implementing a settlement with animal rights activists aimed at regulating the care of laboratory rats and other small research animals." (AP)

"New home owners breathe toxic cocktail" - "Occupants of new Australian homes may be exposed to up to 20 times the maximum allowable limits of indoor air toxics an Australian first study has found. The CSIRO study shows that the National Health & Medical Research Council's (NHMRC) maximum limits of total volatile organic air toxics may be exceeded in such houses for at least ten weeks after completion." (CSIRO)

"Snowmobiles to get boot in Yellowstone, Teton" - "Oct. 11, 2000 - WASHINGTON - Snowmobiles will be banned from Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks by the winter of 2003-04 under a controversial National Park Service plan made public Tuesday. The proposal had been widely expected, but its release left few people around the popular parks happy. There were predictions of economic chaos for the scores of private outfitters that have created a huge industry of renting the machines to winter tourists. Some environmentalists praised the ban, but all of Wyoming's three members of Congress denounced it. Rep. Barbara Cubin, R-Wyo., charged that the review process had been "a farce," adding "the outcome was predestined by the Clinton-Gore administration and its extremist environmental cohorts." (Denver Post)

"Antibiotics upset nature's delicate balance" - "... Because bacteria has a short generation time — from minutes to hours — they can respond rapidly to changes in their environment. When antimicrobial agents are introduced into the environment, bacteria respond by becoming more resistant." (ENN) [Scientists Uncover Genome of Baby-Danger Bacteria]

True, short generation and greater exposure equals faster evolution of resistance traits. What is required - and is virtually inevitable with advances in genetics and biotechnology - is that we should constantly develop new antimicrobials to avoid inevitable resistance. This is why pathogens are being DNA sequenced, so new attack pathways can be found and, hopefully, pathways offering reduced opportunity for development of resistance.

Instead of worrying so much about the use of antibiotics, which has done so much for our health and living standards, we need to encourage the growth and expansion of genetic sciences - our future safety depends on it.

"Idaho closes down nuclear waste incinerator" - "The INEEL's incinerator that burns low-level waste will never be fired up again, following the state's decision Tuesday to deny a hazardous waste permit. The Department of Energy wasn't able to prove the incinerator, which has burned radioactive paper, clothing, plastic and garbage for the last 16 years, could operate safely and meet environmental laws, state officials decided." (Post Register)

Getting to be a fearful world isn't it? People are too frightened to allow the burning of paper. Australia is currently going through a painful process of deciding exactly where to store low-level rad-waste but most people don't know what that is. For the record, we're talking about luminous watch dials (the kind Grandpa may have strapped to his wrist for many decades and which a lot of people still have as keepsakes and heirlooms), luminous instrument dials, filter paper, disposable coveralls and really quite innocuous stuff.

"Warning system needed for threat of catastrophe" - "Britain should help to set up an international early warning system for mega-disasters, such as giant volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tidal waves, Britain's geologists have told the Government. Such events could severely threaten the British Isles and pose a much greater risk than that of asteroid impacts, which the Government has recently evaluated, according to the Geological Society." (Independent) [Action urged over giant wave threat]

"Chefs Serving Up Anxiety Pie" - "The Los Angeles Times blasts "Bitter Harvest," a new book by Chefs Collaborative board member Ann Cooper. Cooper and her co-author Lisa M. Holmes try to convey the Chefs' "eat organic, eat locally produced food, eat in season" message along with all of the group's unfounded fears of corporate agriculture and biotechnology. The Times says, "In their bombardment, they fail to make one convincing point about one subject. Rather, they serve us anxiety pie." (GuestChoice.com)

"The inside threat to global growth" - "There is one puzzling aspect of the recent round of physical attacks on the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Many well-intended but naive youngsters believe they are protesting to close down these organizations as instruments of Capitalism. The more sophisticated orchestrators and supporters of protest, however, are much more concerned with using both deeply flawed institutions to further their own leftist agendas." (Peter Foster in the National Post)

WHO, Big Tobacco to Face-off in Geneva - "GENEVA - The world's top cigarette makers and their arch rival, the World Health Organization, face off in unprecedented public hearings in Geneva on Thursday and Friday to debate a potentially industry-hobbling anti-tobacco pact." (Reuters)

"Fusion jam tomorrow" - "THE dream of tapping the enormous power released when hydrogen isotopes fuse together never seems to get any closer. Ever since research into nuclear fusion began fifty years ago, the promise of endless energy has always been "decades away". Now physicists say the very earliest a power-producing reactor could be built is 2050." (New Scientist)

"Danish grid Eltra raises tariffs for green power" - "OSLO - Western Danish electricity grid operator Eltra said yesterday it planned to increase transmission tariffs on renewable energy in 2001 to help cover a sharp rise in green energy prices." (Reuters)

"Mexican environmentalists protest U.S. modified corn" - "MEXICO CITY - Environmental activists wearing white overalls and mime-like white masks entered an upscale Mexico City supermarket Yesterday and boldly labeled mainstream corn flour products that contain genetically modified corn with stickers bearing a giant "X," for "X-perimental." (Reuters)

"Eco protest 'creating waste peril'" - "Tons of dangerous medical waste is threatening to cause a health hazard at London hospitals as eco protesters occupy the top of a giant chimney at the only incinerator in the capital that can deal with it." (This Is London)

"Bill Rider Would Nullify Animal Rights Legal Victory" - "A last-minute amendment to the agriculture appropriations bill would kill a successful legal challenge by animal rights activists that was about to force the Department of Agriculture to promulgate new rules on the use of rats, mice and birds in research." (Washington Post)

October 11, 2000

"Developing nations key to COP6" - "Environment Agency Director General Yoriko Kawaguchi said Tuesday that financial and technical support for developing countries in tackling global warming is the key to ensuring the success of the upcoming sixth Conference of Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP6)." (Japan Times)

But we don't want to ensure the useless thing is ratified. Even if human activity is capable of inducing planetary warming, the Kyoto Protocol is of no value. NCAR senior scientist Tom Wigley calculated the "saved" warming that would accrue if every nation met its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol at -0.07°C by 2050 - and that assumes a saving from the extreme warming as project by the IPCC. Pat Michaels arrived at a similar figure under similar assumptions (see Kyoto Protocol: a useless appendage to an irrelevant treaty).

So, is something better than nothing? Not at this price. The global tropospheric mean temperature anomaly (departure from long-term average) April 1998 was +0.74°C (NB - I'm cheating. I deliberately selected the highest data value in the series at the height of the El Niño-induced heat spike. All good scares rely on selective use of data and you need to look at the complete series to see what trends, if any, can be validated. I'm not using this anomalous figure to claim a trend but simply as a coarse and very obvious example) April 1999 was 0.00°C and so Earth demonstrated a net tropospheric cooling of -0.74°C in one year - a natural variation 10 times the total available from The Protocol over 50 years. Are you prepared to lower your living standard to achieve 2% of natural variation? And that's if the planet is genuinely warming and if the warming is as large as the computer games project.

Incidentally, prior to the 1997/98 El Niño, the tropospheric temperature trend was a cooling and, as we get further from that event, the trend value is again declining.

"Bush and Gore on Global Warming: Sizing Up the Candidates" - "In the October 2000 issue of Physics Today, there is a Special Report entitled "Presidential Candidates Speak Out on Science Policy," wherein ten questions are posed to Texas Governor George W. Bush and U.S. Vice President Al Gore.  The fourth of the questions deals with Global warming; they are asked if they see global warming as a threat, and if they do, what they would do about it if elected President of the United States." (Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change)

"Even in Frigid North, Hints of Warmer Temperatures" - "But even here, on Ellesmere Island, North America's northernmost tip, the inhabitants think they can see hints of climate change. Glaciers are receding. Winter rains are blamed for declining populations of Peary Caribou. And guides who regularly lead skiing expeditions to the pole say spring temperatures are rising." (New York Times)

Really? From the same article:

"Analysis of half a century of temperature readings collected since Alert's weather station opened in the spring of 1950 show barely any changes in recorded temperatures, said Henry Hengeveld, the science adviser on climate change for Environment Canada, a federal government ministry based in Ottawa."

"University Of Texas Austin Biologist Develops New Evidence For Global Warming" - "AUSTIN, Texas -- Dr. Camille Parmesan, an assistant professor of biology at The University of Texas at Austin and an expert on non-migratory butterfly species, has worked with world climate experts to document new evidence of global warming." (Science Daily)

Wake me when they bring in an ornithologist to testify that they heard the hoot owl in the far woods - a sure sign of climate change.

As far as the slight warming over the last century goes, that's a given. Earth really only emerged from the Little Ice Age about 1880 and has recovered to some extent - certainly it's not as cold as it was in the LIA. Claims of increasing extreme weather events are difficult to reconcile with NOAA's climate disasters of the twentieth century list.

"Pill linked to breast cancer in daughters" - "The oral contraceptive pill may increase the risk of breast cancer being passed down the generations, researchers have found. An American study of 426 families in which at least one member had been diagnosed with breast cancer has shown that the daughters and sisters of the women affected were three times as likely to develop the disease if they had taken the Pill than daughters and sisters who had not taken it." (Independent)

Very alarming and very catchy as a journalistic grab. It doesn't, however, quite fit the facts. What was really released was a finding that women with a strong family history of breast cancer, i.e. a genetic predisposition to this affliction, who had taken the contraceptive pill - notably the early generation pill of a quarter-century and more ago - may have a heightened risk of breast cancer. Loses a bit without the journo-speak doesn't it. Here's the Mayo Clinic release: Early oral contraceptive formulations linked to breast cancer risk

"Study pins accidents on Explorer, not its tires" - "A new study says the Ford Explorer, Canada's best-selling sports utility vehicle, may be partly responsible for a spate of accidents over the past three years that have been blamed on defective Firestone tires. The three-year analysis, which examined national crash statistics in the United States and a larger database of accidents in Florida alone, found that the Explorer has a higher rate of tire-related accidents than other sport utility vehicles -- even when fitted with tires made by another company." (National Post) [Ford Explorer 'may have a stability problem,' a report claims]

"Proposals go too far" - "There they go again! In a rush to place blame and to ''just do something'' to address the Firestone disaster, some in Washington may do more to slow future recalls than to accelerate them. Regulatory authorities need updating, but not at the expense of safety. Let's stop playing the blame game. The problems with Firestone tires have nothing to do with Reagan-administration budget cuts and regulatory reform two decades ago. The only budgets that were cut were state grant programs and pie-in-the-sky research projects, not motor-vehicle-safety activities." (USA Today)

"Hospital waste warning as chimney protest continues" - "Hospitals are warning of tonnes of medical waste building up as Greenpeace begins its second full day blocking Britain's largest incinerator. Operators of the plant in Edmonton, north London, claim rubbish could start piling up in the streets if the protesters keep the lid on. The five activists from the environmental group, however, have warned their sit-in at the top of the 100ft-high outlet could last at least a week. The Londonwaste Ltd furnaces normally burn 16 tonnes of medical waste a day along with 1,800 tonnes of rubbish." (Ananova)

What was the gag in that silly movie: "Officer, Officer - can you get my activist off the chimney?" "Why sure Ma'am" BOOM! Oh, that was "... kitty out of the tree" wasn't it - never mind...

Since Greenpeace obviously have something of a bee in their bonnet about the safe disposal of medical waste, perhaps Londonwaste should simply deliver it to Greenpeace's UK offices and let them safely dispose of the biohazards involved.

"Curse of convenience food" - "THE struggle to get into a milk carton or a packet of foil-wrapped ham can be dangerous as well as infuriating. More than one in three people say that they have been injured by so-called convenience foods, a survey says today. About 45 per cent say that they avoid certain types of food and drink because they are too hard to open. Some 37,000 people went to hospital in 1998 after accidents involving tins, cartons and wrapping." (Telegraph)

Uh-oh! The nannies won't like this: "Caffeine myths exploded" - "CALCUTTA: Whether in tea, coffee, cola or in the new crop of 'energy drinks', caffeine, the omnipresent ingredient of all beverages is infamous for triggering off more than one ill. But recent research proves just the contrary. Breaking long-held myths on the health hazards of caffeine, the World Health Organisation and Singapore-based Asian Food Information Centre (AFIC) say it is neither addictive nor cancer-inducing and not even responsible for shooting up one's cholesterol levels." (Times of India)

"Unauthorised GM seed found in crop trial" - "A seed company could face prosecution after unauthorised genetically modified seed was found in crop trials. An investigation was launched after seed company Aventis told the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions that two small GM sugar beet trial sites had been found to contain a tiny amount of a second and unauthorised seed. The two trial sites found to contain the 0.5% of the unauthorised GM beet seed were at Shelford, Cambs, and Abingdon, Oxon, which were among 10 experimental sites planted in England this spring." (Ananova)

"Zinging Both Sides In Altered-Food Tiff" (Summary) - "The author claims that opponents take the precautionary principle too far. He constitutes that there is nothing wrong with being careful but that "you also have to weigh the cost of not acting." He continues to explain that if this extreme precautionary mindset had been dominant in years past, the Spanish Coast Guard would have detained Christopher Columbus in 1942 because "sincere people were convinced his ships would fall off the edge of the world." (BKC)

"Why our global phobia hurts poor nations the most" - "Almost any dispassionate analysis of the evolution of the world economy will find that the past few years have seen better economic performance by almost all measures; that the past 50 years have increased wellbeing of a larger percentage of the world's population by a greater increment than ever before; and that the recent changes in the structure of the world economy do not really appear to be all that different from rapid paces of change in some earlier eras. It is therefore a puzzle that globalisation is being blamed, and that protests seem to be the order of the day." (Anne Krueger in The Age)

"Scientists research next-generation nuclear energy system" - "(10 October 2000) Chinese scientists are currently undertaking preliminary research on the new generation of nuclear energy system—the accelerator-driven clean nuclear system, reported the Oct. 3 Xinhuashe" (Xinhua News Agency).

"EU agrees measures to combat ground-level ozone" - "LUXEMBOURG -- European Union governments agreed on Tuesday to set strict limits on ground-level ozone pollution, in an attempt to cut respiratory health problems like asthma which can be triggered by the traffic-related pollutant." (Reuters)

"Scientists divided over ozone hole depth" - "... What the agencies do agree on is that variations in the meteorological conditions in the stratosphere influence the size of the ozone hole, its depth and its lifetime. "Year-to-year fluctuations in the geographical size of the ozone hole and the timing of the ozone reduction are believed to be related to meteorological factors such as temperature and winds, rather than further increases in ozone-destroying chemicals in the atmosphere," said Hofmann." (ENN)

"Shoot The Messenger" - "Since they couldn't challenge the research that supports the health benefits of chocolate, anti-choice nannies complain that the studies were funded by the chocolate industry for use as marketing material. One of the main attack dogs cited in the article is the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). According to its 1999 annual report, CSPI spent 3.7% of its budget on nutrition-related studies and activities, 4.8% on alcohol, 3.1% on food safety, and a whopping 41.5% on trying to market its newsletter, which features the results of CSPI's studies and activities. So what's the difference between the chocolate industry's and CSPI's strategies?" (GuestChoice.com)

"Firm claims weed-control benefits of GM sugar beet" - "Irish crop trials on genetically modified sugar beet have shown that pesticide usage could be reduced by 40 per cent on the GM variety because of its weed-control benefits, according to the biotechnology company, Monsanto. The field trials were carried out by the US company whose trials were disrupted by anti-GM protesters last year." (Irish Times)

I habitually ignore MSNBC's resident airhead, Francesca Lyman, but this has drawn some comment, so: "Concerns over chemicals in cosmetics" - "Oct. 4 —  Beauty is only skin deep, but a new study suggests that some common cosmetic products leave traces of “plasticizing” chemicals in our bodies that could cause an array of health woes. Such research is adding momentum to a movement calling for better monitoring of environmental toxins and any harm they could be causing to our health." (MSNBC)

IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans (Volume 77) (15–22 February 2000) - "DEHP was downgraded from Group 2B to Group 3, not classifiable as to carcinogenicity to humans. In making its overall evaluation of the possible carcinogenicity to humans of DEHP, the working group took into consideration that (a) DEHP produces liver tumours in rats and mice by a non-DNA-reactive mechanism involving peroxisome proliferation; (b) peroxisome proliferation and hepatocellular proliferation have been demonstrated under the conditions of the carcinogenicity studies of DEHP in mice and rats; and (c) peroxisome proliferation has not been documented in human hepatocyte cultures exposed to DEHP nor in the livers of exposed non-human primates. Therefore, the mechanism by which DEHP increases the incidence of hepatocellular tumours in rats and mice is not relevant to humans." Translation: this phthalate's activity is well understood and not applicable to humans - it's about as carcinogenic as say, water.

Undoubtedly we'll get a recycling of the old "endocrine disrupter" - excuse me, I keep forgetting, they're now "Hormonally Active Agents" because no one can demonstrate disruption of the human endocrine system from HAAs - anyway, this will all be raked over - again. So, how do phthalates and some of the plastics chemicals so-often mentioned compare with oestradiol (primary human oestrogen)? In a word, weakly, by in vitro receptor binding assay: p-Nonylphenol - about 1:5,000; phthalate plasticisers - about 1:10,000; Bisphenol A - about 1:15,000 - they are virtually inactive for in vivo responses. Compare that with say, coumestrol (a phytoestrogen - an estrogen like compound found in plants) - about 1:77. So, when eating your greens you are being blasted with perfectly natural hormonally active agents that are significantly more potent than plasticizers. And what about all that terrible hormone-like stuff afflicting baby leaching from their bottle? Insignificant compared with the natural bombardment they get from Mom's milk and a case of "so what?"

Following on from the above: "More to fruits than vitamins" - "Oct. 7 —  One of the most common assumptions about why fruits and vegetables are important to our health is beginning to be challenged. Because research links fruits and vegetables to lower risk of both cancer and heart disease, many people think they can compensate for their low fruit and vegetable consumption with vitamin supplements. Yet a growing number of studies suggest another, very different group of natural substances in fruits and vegetables holds the most significant keys to health." (MSNBC)

"Phyto" as a prefix, indicating a plant or vegetation - thus "plant chemicals." Loses a little with a more mundane name I suppose. Curiously, among these "plant chemicals" are the phytoestrogens I mentioned above. Called "synthetic" or "non-human" hormones they'd probably be terrifying but, as natural substances, these more-potent hormonally active agents are considered quite beneficial for our health. Very weakly active agents are supposedly a health-risk - more potent agents perceived a health-benefit. Terrified of pathetically weak hormone mimics, chemophobes promptly tuck into tofu turkey - go figure.

"I may be wrong, admits sheriff in Trident case" - "A SHERIFF who ruled that Britain's nuclear deterrent was illegal under international law admitted that she could have made a mistake, a court was told yesterday. Margaret Gimblett ordered a jury to acquit three peace women charged with damaging part of the Trident nuclear submarine programme after their defence claimed that they were acting to prevent a greater crime of mass destruction." (Telegraph)

"Pollution from Asia threatens West Coast" - "Pollution wafting out of factories and chemical plants in Asia can blow across the Pacific Ocean in less than 10 days and drop on mountaintops, forests and cities in Western Canada and the United States, according to a report in the current issue of the journal Science." (National Post)

"Male orgasm 'fights' breast cancer" - "Men with a low sex drive are more likely to develop breast cancer, according to new research. The study reveals that the fewer orgasms a man has the greater his risk of being diagnosed with the disease. Although breast cancer is rare in men, the mortality rate is high: around 250 cases are reported in the UK each year, with around 100 deaths." (BBC Online)

Catchy headline. Irrelevant - but catchy. It could equally have said "men well enough to have normal libido at lower risk of breast cancer" but that just doesn't quite grab the same attention does it.

"Sex 'key' to staying young" - "A Scottish psychologist has produced more research which points to regular vigorous sex as a way of looking up to seven years younger." (BBC Online)

Must be getting cold in the UK - the Beeb seems to be running a bit of a theme here

"Higher Fuel Prices Do Little to Alter Motorists' Habits" - "Few people have sharply cut back on their driving or have begun shopping for cars based primarily on fuel efficiency, according to interviews around the country and data from the government and auto industry. The nation is on pace to use almost the same amount of gasoline as it did last year, which was the most ever. Sport-utility vehicles and other trucks continue to gain market share slowly." (NY Times)

"Clinton tells of his 'great achievement' over Monica" - "PRESIDENT CLINTON claimed yesterday that defeating the effort to remove him from office over Monica Lewinsky was one of the "great achievements of my administration"." (Telegraph)

"Canadian negotiators prepare for anti-tobacco talks in Geneva" - "OTTAWA -- Canadian anti-smoking groups are high on the potential for an international agreement to combat tobacco use as they prepare to join hearings in Geneva this week. Tobacco will be the greatest cause of premature death in the developing world by 2030, outstripping malaria, AIDS, tuberculosis and childbirth combined, a coalition of anti-tobacco lobbyists predicts." (CP)

"'Insider' Wigand receives anti-smoking prize" - "GENEVA, Oct 10 - Jeffrey Wigand, the former tobacco company executive made famous in the film The Insider starring Russell Crowe, was awarded a prize by a Geneva-based group today for helping to prevent smoking." (AFP)

"The Insider":Whistling Blowing or Sucking Wind?

"Hospitals' tobacco suit rejected in appeals court" - "PHILADELPHIA (October 8, 2000 11:34 p.m. EDT http://www.nandotimes.com) - A federal appeals court has refused to revive a lawsuit by hospitals seeking reimbursement from tobacco companies after they treated poor patients for smoking-related ailments." (AP)

"Sounds train fish to swim into net" - "FISH in fish farms are being trained to swim toward sounds rather like sheepdogs are called by a farmer's whistle. The plan is to let them into the sea to grow naturally, then use the call sound to entice them back into fishing nets one last time." (The Times)

Not featured to poke fun at the science, for fish do respond to stimuli and may indeed have long-term memory - certainly salmonids return to specific locations after years for example. I gave this a run because it ventures into the realm of conservation through property rights and I believe fisheries property rights are rather topical in the US at present. A few years ago R.J. Smith produced a monograph for the Center for Private Conservation on this issue. I didn't just find an electronic copy of it but the executive summary is here. You can reach CPC here if you want to find out more.

"Gardeners are environmental vandals, says biologist" - "SYDNEY: Gardens are a greater threat to Australia's environment than factories, farms and mines, a leading biologist said on Tuesday. Consultant and author Tim Low rated nurseries, pet shops and gardens more damaging to biodiversity than greenhouse gases, industrial pollution and ozone depletion." (Times of India)

October 10, 2000

"Tricky Temperatures" - "MONDAY, Oct. 9 -- Scientists are looking for answers to why the lowest layer of Earth's atmosphere is warming more slowly than our planet's surface. They hope their ongoing research leads to a better understanding of global climate change. "This is a significant issue because, in global warming theory, the lower atmosphere is supposed to warm more rapidly than the surface, not less rapidly. There is something going on that we don't understand, which could significantly alter our estimates of how much global warming there will be in the future," says Roy Spencer, senior scientist for climate studies, Global Hydrology and Climate Center (GHCC), at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center." (HealthSCOUT)

To slightly misquote that fictional mentor, when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, is the solution.

To date, no one has found a plausible mechanism by which a warming atmosphere could cause surface warming to an extent greater than that experienced by the atmosphere. (Crude example - if the air in your convection oven is exactly 100 degrees it can't heat the contents to 110 degrees) That hypothesis remains firmly affixed to the "impossible" shelf. The two remaining possibilities then are that the atmospheric temperature record is wrong or; the surface record is wrong. (Note that there is no single record but actually a series of data collections and none are in perfect agreement)

The atmospheric record derived from MSUs (Microwave Sounding Units) mounted on 9 TIROS-N series polar orbiting satellites has been subjected to rigorous examination and determined accurate to one one-hundredth of one degree centigrade. This record is in good agreement with the results from readings taken by weather balloons. These independent and mutually verifying records preclude the possibility of gross error in the atmospheric temperature.

The remaining possibility then is that the surface record is wrong and the planet is not, in fact, heating abnormally. What could be wrong with surface readings? Actually, rather a lot. The surface record(s) has/have not been subjected to the intense scrutiny applied to the MSU record. Surface measures are basically only taken on land and close to human habitation. The recording sites have often been moved, thus inducing a multitude of discrepancies by local effect. Many of the rural recording sites have been closed which applies a bias toward city temperatures. Add to this small sample of potential error entry points the fact that land-based surface measures represent only a small portion of the land surface, Earth's total land surface represents less than 30% of total surface and that the accuracy of measures where they are taken tends to be, uh, variable, and you begin to see the difficulty in determining whether there is any unusual surface warming at all.

Click here for a graph showing the divergence in satellite, balloon and two surface data sets (set to common zero in 1979). Quite some disparity between the surface sets isn't there? Perhaps this possibility is not so improbable after all.

As a sidebar, some readers have written to ask why I am so pedantic about the enhanced greenhouse hypothesis rather than theory or effect. Similarly, I decline to call GCMs models but rather refer to them as computer games. Click here to see if you can work it out.

"Global Climate Scare: Fools Rush In" - "... But the National Assessment is not about science and about evidence. It is about politics and about laying the groundwork for taking drastic steps that will almost certainly raise energy costs and put downward pressure on the standard of living in the United States ­ not to mention in developing countries. For decades, bad science has been placed in the service of political ends. But nothing like this. Fools in Washington are rushing in ­ with drastic solutions -- to tackle a problem that science cannot confirm, let alone accurately assess." (James K. Glassman, Reason Online)

Obligatory pre-COP6 hype: "Heat is on for global warming talks" - "The heat is on for governments to agree on action at a major climate change conference in the Netherlands next month to reduce greenhouse gases that cause global warming. Unless countries resolve their differences and reach an agreement at the Hague meeting in November, climate experts at an eight-day environmental conference ending Wednesday in Amman said the consequences could be disastrous. Without firm government commitments to cut emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases, predictions of melting ice caps, soaring temperatures and rising sea levels will become a reality." (Reuters)

"Covering up the breast" - "This is a story about breasts. And about a federal agency going out of its way to not alert journalists to a major publicly funded cancer study." (Salon.com) [Silicone Breast Implants Are Not Linked to Breast Cancer Risk]

"Long distance food 'causing world farming crisis'" - "The global food economy - in which products travel thousands of miles around the world from source to consumer - is sparking a huge farming crisis, according to a new report. ... The report is by Helen Norberg-Hodge, director of the International Society for Ecology and Culture, a non-profit making organisation concerned with the protection of both biological and cultural diversity." (Ananova)

So... net food importers shouldn't eat so much then... Uh... and growing produce in regions to which it is best suited is more environmentally destructive than creating artificial environments to grow crops to meet local consumer demand?

Impoverished regions frequently rely of agricultural export to generate capital to fund development and incidental infrastructure - frivolous things like health care, education, water reticulation, sanitation... stuff like that. ISEC thinks this is very bad for them - wonder if the developing world shares their perspective.

"Protesters to spend night on chimney at waste incinerator" - "Greenpeace activists are vowing to continue their protest overnight at Britain's largest waste incinerator, which they earlier shut down. Spokesman Matthew Spencer said five activists would be spending the night at the top of a 100m high exhaust chimney at Londonwaste Ltd's plant in Edmonton, north London, which they had earlier partially closed-off." (Ananova)

There's an Australian colloquialism for misguided people, we say they're "up a wattle" - I guess up a chimney's close enough.

Ironic that anti-technology activists readily adopt the internet, mobile phones and international travel etc., while campaigning against the technologies that drive them and the economies that support them. Very rational.

"It's Not Oil vs. Beauty in the Arctic" - "WASHINGTON — Clinging to a position that would prevent America from developing some of the most promising of its domestic energy resources, Al Gore and Joseph Lieberman have repeatedly stated their opposition to oil exploration in a tiny sliver of the Arctic Coastal Plain. They say it would yield only a six-month supply of oil, and only at the cost of the destruction of a pristine wilderness. In suggesting that we must choose between Arctic oil and environmental protection, they are presenting a false choice. What is at stake here, according to the latest estimates of the United States Geological Survey, is 16 billion barrels of oil — an amount sufficient to replace all of our imports from Saudi Arabia for the next 30 years. And it can be extracted and moved to consumers in the "lower 48" states without harming the wildlife that inhabits the coastal plain at various times of the year. More than 25 years of experience at nearby Prudhoe Bay, a region that has supplied America with roughly 25 percent of its domestic oil production since the late 1970's, have shown that energy production and environmental protection can coexist." (Senator Frank Murkowski, (R) Alaska, in the New York Times)

"All Things Bright And Beautiful" (Summary) - "Robin Young of The Times of London, reported that as organic food sales are rising at a rate of 40 per cent each year, so are the "big-time professionals in the gentle art of consumer deception." Eco-activists have managed to convince millions of people that organic food is healthy and good, just as assuredly as genetically modified foods must be dangerous and undesirable." (Biotechnology Knowledge Center)

Who do we blame weather on now? - "LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Floods in Southern California? Blame it on El Nino. Drought from the Great Plains to the southeast? Sounds like La Nina. Nervous climate forecasters? Must be "La Nada."" (AP)

"Researchers find link between depression and heart disease" - "ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- In fairy tales princes and princesses sometimes die of broken hearts. New research shows there might be some truth in that old myth. A study in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation found a link between depression and heart disease -- a link that's being "increasingly recognized," according to cardiologist Steven Manoukian." (CNN)

But which comes first - the chicken or the egg? Are people developing cardiac problems because they're unhappy or are they becoming depressed as their health declines?

"Fukuyama was right about the rise and rise of capitalism" - "THE fall of Slobodan Milosevic has proved that Francis Fukuyama's theory, that we are moving towards "the End of History", was truer than most of us thought at the time he propounded it in 1989. Back then, it was dismissed by reviewers as "mindless", "hopelessly naive", and even "mad". Yet events have eerily borne out his contention that global capitalist liberal democracy is the end-state of the historical process, and that this "final form of human government" might even be reached in our own lifetimes." (Andrew Roberts in The Daily Telegraph)

"Global disease traced to tropical logging" - "Logging and the accessibility it offers to remote forests and to wider hunting opportunities may play a central role in the emergence of new diseases that imperil human health, according to a new study by researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health." (ENN)

"Government to set up National Seeds Board to check misuse of GM seeds" - "New Delhi, Oct 8: The Central Government has decided to set up the National Seeds Board (NSB) with a view to restrict the misuse of those genetically- modified(GM) seeds which are considered to be hazardous to human health and ecologically harmful." (Financial Express)

"Congress Steps In to Animal Welfare Act Fray" - "The fight over changes to the Animal Welfare Act and the future of laboratory testing in America has taken on broader dimensions, with Congress stepping into the fray. Sen. Thad Cochran, a Mississippi Republican and influential member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, on Friday added language to a bill outlining the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2001 budget that effectively blocks the agency's recent settlement with an animal-rights group." (Fox News)

"Airline radiation threat to be assessed" - "The risk that airline passengers and staff face from cosmic and solar radiation is to be measured by scientists. Radiation from the sun and other sources, is mainly absorbed by different layers of the atmosphere when it hits the earth. However, at higher altitudes, the atmosphere is thinner and offers less protection. Previous studies into the potential health effects of frequent exposure have been contradictory." (BBC Online)

Actually measuring exposure - what a novel idea. I have seen studies suggesting that aircrews are at greater risk from solar radiation but, never having seen one that controls for aircrews' greater opportunities for sunbathing in exotic locations, have never found them particularly compelling.

"Radiation Alert Under Ozone Hole in Southern Chile" - "PUNTA ARENAS, Chile - A wide swath of southern Chile was on alert Monday as dangerous levels of ultraviolet radiation hit peaks because of the depletion of the protective ozone layer over the Antarctic. ... The ozone hole over the Antarctic this year has reached its deepest since scientists began measuring it 15 years ago, with more than 50 percent depletion being recorded throughout most of the hole, United Nations experts said Friday." (Reuters)


"Scientists Find Way to Program Key Cells" - "WASHINGTON - Scientists said on Monday they had taken a first step toward being able to control stem cells -- master cells that have the ability to become any kind of cell in the body. Doctors hope one day these cells can be directed to grow into organs or tissues for transplant, used to test drugs and potentially toxic chemicals, and studied to give insights into basic human biology. But first they have to learn how to control them." (Reuters)

"Biotech firm concedes 'immorality' of patent plan" - "An Australian biotechnology company has been forced to concede that its bid to patent the insertion of human DNA into a pig cell was "contrary to morality". However, Melbourne-based Stem Cell Sciences denied that it was trying to create a human-animal hybrid, or chimera, as charged by the environment group Greenpeace." (AAP) [New Scientist coverage]

"Raising the dead" - "Cloning extinct or endangered species is now possible, but is it useful?" (New Scientist)

"FEATURE - Uneasy calm as Finns ponder fifth nuke reactor" - "HELSINKI - At a time when countries like Sweden and Germany are turning their backs on atomic energy, plans to build a new nuclear reactor in Finland are threatening to spark heated public debate and inter-governmental friction." (Reuters)

"No need to change German "eco-tax" - Schroeder" - "BERLIN - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder stood yesterday by government plans to raise "ecology taxes" on energy use, proceeds of which are earmarked to help meet the cost of the welfare state." (Reuters)

Alas, poor Germans... I knew them, Horatio.

"EU commissioner says still committed to energy tax" - "BRUSSELS - European Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein said yesterday he remained committed to introducing an EU-wide energy tax based on minimum excise duty rates on a range of energy products and sources. "The recent fuel crisis has not changed my view on the need for minimum levels of energy taxation. The current level of fuel prices is due not only to excise duties on mineral oils but also to the current high level of world prices," Bolkestein said in a speech in Barcelona, a copy of which was released in advance." (Reuters)

 "OMNIUM GATHER-UM: Summum Bonum?" - "If data are good, then is having more data better? A campaign for a new “national strategy” on health called HealthTrack raises this question. Recently launched through a series of full-page advertisements and editorials in national newspapers, the campaign argues that Americans need a federally funded “national system for tracking, monitoring and responding to health threats caused by environmental factors.” As the executive director of HealthTrack put it in the Wall Street Journal (Aug. 3), the program would track diseases and their relationship to environmental factors through the “sophisticated use of computer programs and mapping.”" (Statistical Assessment Service)

Dredge enough data and you are guaranteed to find "associations", "clusters" and other activist delights. Do they mean anything? It's the old story, garbage in - garbage out. By that I mean that no analysis is better than the raw data on which it is based and, just because we now have the computer processing power to torture very large data sets, does not mean there is value adding in the process.

Data is a bit like medicine - appropriate medication, in the correct dosages, is very good - but more isn't better. (Example, giving a child an appropriate dose of paracetamol to treat a fever may preclude febrile fits and thus be highly beneficial but giving them 10 times as much will almost certainly kill them.) With data, quality counts for much more than quantity. If you can get more high quality data then analysis may be more certain - pollution with junk is lethal to data sets though.

"Monsanto's Transgenic Cottons Can Make Gonorrhoea Untreatable" - "Monsanto's Transgenic Cottons Can Make Gonorrhoea Untreatable According to UK Government Sources" (Accion Ecologica, Ecuador, Institute of Science in Society, UK, and Grupo de Reflexion Rural, Argentina)

Recycling of this piece apparently. "Off-the-wall" is an appropriate description.

"'Put 10p tax on burgers to reduce levels of obesity'" - "FATTY hamburgers should be taxed to stop Britain's obesity levels reaching American proportions, a leading academic said yesterday." (Telegraph)

Fat police brutality?

"Scientists discover diabetes gene hope" - "Scientists at Geelong's Deakin University laboratories have discovered a gene they hope may lead to new treatments for diabetes. The gene, which they have named Tanis, is involved in the body's response to fasting and the regulation of glucose. The scientists believe it may be used in the development of a drug treatment for non-insulin dependent diabetes." (The Age)

"Coral reefs weather the storms of change" - "THE world's largest living thing also seems to be one of its toughest, with the Great Barrier Reef returning a surprisingly positive report card for 1999. The reef has recorded another year of net coral growth despite the three "C's" of cyclones, coral bleaching and crown of thorn starfish, according to the Australian Institute of Marine Science's annual status report. AIMS reef monitoring programme leader Hugh Sweatman said yesterday that public pessimism about the reef was not supported by the past five years of data." (Courier-Mail)

"Blast won't last for most in USA" - "The blast of cold that stunned much of the country over the weekend won't last, as temperatures are expected to climb back to normal by midweek. ''This was just an early touch of winter, if you want to call it that,'' says Tasos Kallas, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Green Bay, Wis. ''Just a little heads-up of what's to come.'' Kallas says the record low temperatures in the Plains and a foot of snow dumped around the upper Great Lakes can be blamed on cold air stuck over Canada for the past month that finally escaped." (USA Today)

Probably accounts for a fair bit of this then. A few, well several people actually, have written to ask why release of Strategic Petroleum Reserve stocks did not return fuel prices to what they were before the "crisis" and, while I appreciate the vote of confidence, the economy is not exactly my field. Having said that I suppose I am privileged in that several hundred releases and media items cross my desk each day and, with EVAG not being antagonistic to commercial enterprise, industry representatives are prepared to talk candidly about what we can and can't practically do to achieve a common goal, so I'll see if I can put things in perspective for you.

Now, 30m barrels sounds like a lot of oil to put on the market and it likely did calm the market speculators by signalling a willingness to engage in intervention strategies but there are a lot of checks involved in this balance.

To begin with, two-thirds of this release simply displaced offshore purchases, so additional supply is not 30m but actually 10m barrels. That puts 67% of the effect out the window to start with. Crude oil does not yield a 1:1 ratio of end product or even of high-value product, that's only a percentage of a mixture that ranges from bitumen, the "glue" we use to bind road aggregate, through lubricant oils, heating and fuel oils, gasoline and a range of plastics feedstock and outright junk of no value to man or beast to name but a few outputs. Not all crudes are equal and the mixture varies considerably. A percentage of Opec's additional pumping doesn't suit the US fuel supply either, which requires "sweet" (low sulfur content) crudes. In addition, the US has a most extraordinary range of fuel specifications, so fuels refined to suit one region can't just be relocated to supply a shortfall. Then there's the little matter of actually handling the additional supply - the biggest refiners didn't bid for the release for the simple reason that crude oil supply is not really the problem, that's basically a refining and distribution bottleneck. Even had the big refiners purchased the additional stock they couldn't release it in refined form until retail prices were high enough to meet refining costs, distribution etc. over and above the relatively high purchase price. Current prices are due more to quite bizarre "boutique" fuel specifications and a policy of discouraging infrastructure spending by refiners and distributors than they are with genuine supply and demand.

So, release of a few percent of the SPR may have damped the market speculation slightly but it will have no real effect on US domestic supply. It was not a donation, since it must be "repaid" (replaced). Perhaps calling it a "campaign loan" from Slick Willy to Ozone Al is about the most accurate description. Your oil industry has been hobbled for years, now, if you have a cold winter, you'll pay the price. Sorry.

"Liberals seek an issue to make rivals green with envy" - "VICTORIA - As usual, David Anderson is up to something creative. The problem is that all is not clear what the federal environment minister means when he says Ottawa wants to "encourage" the consumption of "green energy." The green energy part is easy. This is the shorthand phrase for anything but petroleum. Wind power, solar power, fuel cells, you name it -- any energy source to substitute for refined crude oil products. This is obviously the Lord's work Mr. Anderson is on about here. The goal would be to reduce consumption of fossil fuels -- coal and oil essentially -- in favor of easily renewable and less-polluting energy sources. What is not evident, yet, is how this policy will be financed. Although Mr. Anderson did not use the word "subsidy," the implication is plain. Canadian citizens are not using alternative energy sources now. Therefore, they will have to be encouraged to do so." (Vancouver Sun)

October 8 & 9, 2000

"Explorer Has Higher Rate of Tire Accidents" - "From the beginning of the Firestone tire recall, Ford Motor Co. officials have insisted that the accidents that killed 101 Americans, most of them in Ford Explorers, are a Firestone tire problem. "There are more than 3 million Goodyear tires on Ford Explorers that have not had, as far as we know, one tread separation problem," Ford President Jacques Nasser told Congress. "So we know that this is a Firestone tire issue, not a vehicle issue." A Washington Post analysis of national and Florida crash statistics shows, however, that the Ford Explorer has a higher rate of tire-related accidents than other sport-utility vehicles, even when the popular SUV is equipped with Goodyear tires. The finding suggests that something about the Explorer may be contributing to these accidents, auto analysts said." (Washington Post)

"Sun Studies May Shed Light on Global Warming" - "Just as world leaders are preparing to try to come to grips with global warming, a small but persistent group of scientists has revived an unsettling thought: What if much, or even most, of the warming seen so far--about 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century--was not the result of civilization's cumulative spew of 'greenhouse gases'?" (Washington Post)

"Genetically Modified Crops Are Good for Public Health and the Environment" (PDF) - "ST. LOUIS — August 14, 2000 — Genetically modified crops would increase the quantity and nutritional quality of food supplies and hold the promise of improving public health and reducing mortality rates worldwide, according to a study released by the Center for the Study of American Business at Washington University in St. Louis. By comparison with conventional crops, cultivation of “GM” crops would be more protective of habitat, biological diversity, and carbon stores and sinks, thus improving the environment, too." (CSAB release) [Applying the Precautionary Principle to Genetically Modified Crops (PDF)]

"Red wine may balance a fatty meal" - "A glass or two of red wine could cancel out some of the ill-effects of a fatty meal, a recent study has found. The South American study found that red wine could reduce some of the ill effects on arteries of a high-fat diet - at least in the short term. Reported in the latest edition of Choice Health Reader, the study of 11 men looked at the endothelial function (EF) of the subjects, a measure of the effect of fatty foods on arteries. Half the group were given two glasses of red wine a day with their less than healthy diets while the other half were not. "When the red wine was drunk regularly with the meal there were no adverse EF effects of the fatty diet," the researchers said. "This suggests that the wine may counteract the effects of a high-fat diet, a finding which has been previously unrecognised."" (Yahoo)

"Zero Tolerance Turns Silly" - 'An 11-year-old is suspended from sixth grade when school officials declare the chain on her Tweety Bird wallet a weapon. A 12-year-old is labled a “drug trafficker” for sharing a prescription inhaler with a fellow student. Four kindergarten students are bounced for using their tiny hands as make-believe guns. A small pocketknife found in his glove compartment gets a 16-year-old in trouble. One school orders the psychological evaluation of a 9-year-old who threatened to use a rubber band on a fellow tyke. And this one: A 6-year-old in Pennsylvania was suspended for 10 days for bringing a toenail clipper to school." (Detroit News)

"Crop Stalk Turns to Be Environmentally Friendly" - "The world's headache of dealing with crop stalks has been tackled by a Chinese researcher in east China's Shandong Province. Crop stalks are now being transformed, using a especially made "reactor," into carbon dioxygen which helps red grapes in the fruit gardens conduct photosynthesis at Kongcun Town in Pingyin County, Shandong. The transforming system was invented by Zhang Shiming, a Shandong technological worker who had carried out scientific study over the past 15 years. In the pilot field, carbon dioxygen density is 54.3 percent higher and photosynthesis efficiency 354 percent higher than in the contrast field. About 1,900 kilograms of fruits are yielded per mu (0.07 hectare) in the experimental field, or more than five times higher than in the ordinary orchard, according to survey results by scientists from Zhengzhou Fruit Tree Research Institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences." (People's Daily)

Let me think... what is that formula for carbon dioxygen? Hear about it a lot - not normally in positive terms though... Environmentally friendly carbon dioxygen...

"Conservation lessons: Marine Mammal Act shifts burden of proof" - "... But lack of concrete data should not hinder species conservation, according to a recent report in the October issue of Conservation Biology." (ENN)

As in "any guess can prove guilt unless you can prove a negative"? I'm not particularly fond of the "guilty until proven innocent" regimes.

"Give 'em credit: biodiversity worth saving" - "Carl Binning, an economist with CSIRO Wildlife and Ecology, believes that "biodiversity credits" could play an important role in addressing the major environmental problems that Australia faces. "Biodiversity credits are a way to measure the important role of natural areas on private and public land toward meeting conservation objectives," said Binning. ... For example, householders in Sydney might pay landholders in the Sydney water catchments to establish vegetation buffers to act as filters along streams, naturally improving water quality."

That landholders should not be responsible for meeting the costs of other people's agendas is quite true - determining just whose agendas are of real value is the tricky part.

"In lieu of rising fuel costs, firewood sales soar in California" - "The market is hot this season for — what else? — firewood. A sampling of firewood vendors showed that some are reporting sales are way up way early this year from what seems to be fears that natural gas prices are expected to soar this winter because of nationwide shortages. "I've sold more wood in September than I ever have before," said Dave Smith, a firewood seller east of Stockton. "When they call they say they need to stock up because of the natural gas prices, and they don't want to get left out because there might be a wood shortage." (The Record)

Good to see green energy policy is so conservation friendly. Burning wood, sourced from, well, trees actually, vents inter alia particulates and dioxins to atmosphere. "Green" taxes on fossil fuels are justified on the basis of limiting emissions of, inter alia, uh... particulates and dioxins... This is good for air quality and is conservation and environment friendly.

From the Suzuki Recycling Center: "Politics cloud facts of global warming study" - "Climate science isn't easy for most of us to understand at the best of times, but it seemed to become even more confusing recently after a climate expert released a controversial new paper on the topic." (ENN)

CNEWS Science, Sept. 13: Climate paper twisted by contrarians. David's got his knickers in rather a knot over this Terrence Corcoran piece in the National Post. Jim Fulton, executive director of The David Suzuki Foundation, followed up the boss' piece a week later with Global warming revisited. So, what did Hansen actually say? Hansen: Alternative to Kyoto.

Terrence Corcoran had another tilt at Kyoto on Saturday in Pork Barrel Plan 2000, commenting on Government of Canada action plan 2000 on climate change.

"Prairie today, desert tomorrow?" - "Ottawa finally unveiled a plan yesterday to cut greenhouse gases, but nothing, Earth Sciences Reporter ALANNA MITCHELL writes, will stop global warming from having a profound impact on Canada's breadbasket. Some experts look ahead and see the West as just an apocalyptic dust bowl. Others are much less gloomy and predict the dawning of a new agricultural age." (GAM)

"Global warming to leave UK out in the cold" - "Global warming will not result in a warmer Mediterranean-type climate for Britain, according to a new study from the Public Marine Laboratory in Plymouth. Instead it will get much colder, with Cornwall becoming a centre for winter sports, ports around the country ice-bound for much of the year and icebergs a frequent sight around the western coast. In an even more extreme scenario American scientists are predicting that the UK could develop a climate similar to that of Spitsbergen, the island 400 miles north of Norway's mainland and just 780 miles from the North Pole." (Independent)

See John L Daly's comments in Have we got a global warming catastrophe just for you! (I know it's not new - but recycling is supposed to be so good for the planet.)

"Revealed: secret GM crop trial" - "Top Secret trials of GM crops are under way in five British counties despite repeated government promises that it would never allow them to take place. The secrecy surrounding the experiment is so tight that even Michael Meacher, the Environment minister in charge of GM crops, has been kept in the dark." (Independent)

"Extinction could be a thing of the past" - "Scientists are on the brink of revitalising an endangered species using cloning – and have plans to bring extinct animals back to life. An ordinary cow named Bessie on an Iowa farm is now carrying the embryo of a breed called the gaur. The humpbacked cow-like jungle animals, native to India and Burma, are officially listed as endangered." (Independent)

"Scientists predict slightly warmer winter" - "LOS ANGELES (October 8, 2000 1:38 p.m. EDT http://www.nandotimes.com) - For the first time in three years, the tropical Pacific Ocean isn't running unusually hot or cold, and the neutral conditions are leaving climatologists with fewer pieces of the puzzle. Gone are the heady days of confident predictions months into the future. "There comes a time when you have to admit your understanding is not complete and not to say more than you know," said William Patzert, an oceanographer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "It's hard after three years of being a hotshot. It's really hard." Unlike El Nino and La Nina years, nothing appears strong enough to dominate the complex climate system. That means the effects of relatively small forces such as the moisture of an individual storm could determine whether an area is wetter or drier or warmer or cooler than usual." (AP)

What's wrong with these guys? Ozone Al and the IPCC can forecast the weather 50-100 years from now. If Al can do it why can't climatologists predict a coupled non-linear chaotic system just a month or two in advance?

"Cancer 'linked to' excess light" - "A US doctor claims exposure to high levels of nocturnal light may be linked to an increased risk of breast cancer." (BBC Online)

"China Rushes to Adopt Genetically Modified Crops" - "SHAHEXIN VILLAGE, China — Until Monsanto introduced a genetically altered cotton plant here in the buckle on the Chinese Cotton Belt three years ago, farmers like Ma Yuzhuo sprayed their fields with tons of organophosphate pesticides to kill bollworms, grubs that feed on immature cotton bolls. So toxic is the compound, which is similar to the basic ingredient of nerve gas, that many people die from exposure to it each year, though the government will not disclose the number of fatalities." (NY Times)

"Court Says Lab Rats Deserve Special Care" - "In what is seen as a significant victory for animal rights advocates, a federal court ruled yesterday that the most commonly used laboratory animals — mice, rats and birds — will have to be given care under the relatively stringent rules of the Federal Animal Welfare Act. Until now, the act was interpreted by the government as applying to large animals like dogs, cats and monkeys, but not to the most commonly used research animals. Animal rights groups sued the Agriculture Department last year to expand the welfare act to the smaller animals." (NY Times)

"Gene scientists disable plants' immune system" - "Scientists working for Swiss food giant Novartis have developed and patented a method for 'switching off' the immune systems of plants, to the outrage of environmentalists and Third World charities who believe the new technology to be the most dangerous use so far of gene modification." (Observer)

"Test-tube antibodies will fight killer bugs" - "A drug that mimics the human body's primary defence against disease is about to be tested on British patients. Scientists have developed synthetic human antibodies in a bid to counter deadly fungal infections that kill hundreds of hospital patients every year." (Observer)

"Shoppers buy value, not values" - "Fair trade chocolate and coffee may be a familiar sight on household shelves. But a new study has found the British do not practise what they preach when it comes to 'green' groceries. The most in-depth research ever undertaken into ethical consumerism has found that, although most people claim to take environmental and social issues into account when filling their shopping basket, such discrimination largely evaporates before they reach the checkout. The study also found that, far from being regarded as a positive or fashionable description, younger people dislike the label of 'ethical consumers'." (Observer)

"Weak-willed smokers can blame genes" - "Light up, take a puff and blame your parents. Smoking, apparently, is in the genes. In a snub to those who blame peer pressure, rock stars and Formula One, an American study has proved for the first time that the habit of smoking regularly is largely inherited." (Observer)

"Owens Corning Chapter 11 filing" - commentary and links about one of the biggest trial-lawyer-induced bankruptcies yet (Overlawyered.com)

"Enough uranium for N-power for up to 300 years - IAEA" - "LONDON - There could be enough uranium in the earth to keep the world's nuclear power stations operating for almost 300 years, the world's nuclear watchdog said on Friday. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said known uranium resources of four million tonnes should last for about 65 years but that estimates of potential, undiscovered resources could add 16 million tonnes, increasing the time period to almost 300 years." (Reuters)

"INTERVIEW - GM food fear to pass, Monsanto Argentina contends" - "ZARATE, Argentina - The fear of genetically modified (GM) food is just a phase that will pass when more scientific evidence is made available, the head of agribusiness giant Monsanto's Argentine wing contends." (Reuters)

"Setback for "human-pig" fusion patent bid" - "BERLIN - The European Patent Office said on Friday it had deemed as "contrary to morality" methods described by two firms in a cloning process in which they fused human and pig cells. The fusion was described by Australia's Stem Cell Sciences and U.S.-based BioTransplant Inc. in a patent request to the Munich-based agency for a process aimed at trying to find alternatives for organ transplants." (Reuters)


"Energy Policy in the Presidential Election Campaign" - "... Added to these woes, U.S. refinery capacity is stretched to the limit; so even bringing in more crude oil will not alleviate supply shortages. Foreign refiners cannot fill the gap. The problem here stems from the Environmental Protection Agency: Extreme "clean-air" regulations have stopped the building of new refineries, while at the same time requiring special compositions for gasoline for different geographic regions. EPA mandates for "boutique" gasolines also means that a shortage in one place cannot be made up by importing it from another region. Consumers in the Midwest learned this bitter truth earlier this year when gasoline prices rose sharply because of purely local supply shortages." (Fred Singer in The Washington Times)

"Mobiles are getting on our nerves" - "A former chief medical officer for Telstra claims to have found that exposure to microwaves through the use of mobile phones can cause changes to nerves behind the ears." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Animals' rights could make an ass of Swiss law" - "AFTER the tug of love comes the pug of love. The rights of pets in divorce cases would be similar to those of children under proposals in Switzerland, where campaigners have 250,000 signatures for two petitions demanding substantial new rights for pets and other animals." (Sunday Times)

"Pesticides found in supermarket vegetables" - "MARKS & SPENCER has be-come a market leader - in pesticides. More than two-thirds of the fresh fruit and vegetables on sale in its stores contain residues of the chemicals, according to new government figures." (Sunday Times)

"Children learn better when they sit in lines" - "CHILDREN'S classroom work rates can be doubled if they sit in rows rather than around a table, according to new research. A report based on 20 years of observation of classroom behaviour has quantified for the first time the comparative benefits of traditional seating arrangements over group set-ups. It argues that pupils waste valuable hours chatting when they should be working. The findings, due to be published next year, could revolutionise primary school classrooms, where generally children are placed in groups of four to six." (Sunday Times)

Ya mean kids learn better with fewer distractions in an organised environment? Doh...

"Bellamy calls for culling of hedgehogs" - "THE renowned naturalist David Bellamy has called for the return of the death sentence - for hedgehogs. The prickly mammal, loved by gardeners because of its appetite for slugs, is becoming a voracious pest in some of Britain's most important conservation areas, where Bellamy accuses the beasts of wiping out rare birdlife. The animal is highly efficient at finding the eggs and young of ground-nesting birds such as dunlin, redshank and ringed plover." (Sunday Times)

Total protectionism doesn't work? Imagine that...

"McDonald's sued over hot pickle" - "An American woman who claims she was permanently scarred after a hot pickle from a McDonald's hamburger fell on her chin is suing the restaurant for more than $US110,000 ($A187,000). Veronica Martin claims in a lawsuit filed in Knox County Circuit Court, Tennessee, that the burn caused her physical and mental pain. Her husband, Darrin Martin, is seeking $US15,000, because he "has been deprived of the services and consortium of his wife". (AP)

Which was in an unsafe operating condition - the burger or the consumer?

"Happiness 'contributes to suicide'" - "Suicide rates among young men are highest in countries where young people are most content, according to new Australian research." (The Age)

Some months ago I saw a piece on impoverished farmers topping themselves by drinking insecticides - the method of choice by virtue of affordability, availability and sufficient toxicity to do the job. The thrust of the article was that pervasive poverty and general melancholy was increasing the suicide rate. Before that, there were a series of articles on poverty and despair increasing the suicide rate in the former USSR. According to this research, impoverished regions must be excessively happy. I'm having a little trouble with this picture.

"Is Ptarmageddon Day looming for many of Scotland’s rare birds?" - "SOME of Scotland’s most beautiful and rare breeding birds could be forced north to Scandinavia and Greenland by global warming. Bird-watchers yesterday issued a warning to the Scottish executive that birds like the ptarmigan, snow bunting and dotterel could migrate to Norway, Greenland and Iceland if CO2 emissions are not reduced." (Scotsman)

For your next question: why are they and their niche habitats rare in Scotland to begin with?

October 7, 2000

"Extreme Weather on the Rise as Climate Changes" - "A climate model is like a huge wok with a lot of stir-fry ingredients," says [NCAR global warming proselytiser Gerald] Meehl. "We throw in solar variability, ozone changes, greenhouse gases, and many other items in the form of equations. If the model's past climate matches fairly well what's already happened in the real world, we get some confidence in the recipe." (NCAR/UCAR release)

Time for a new recipe for the ol' stir fry Gerry, because your computer games crash and burn when run just 30 years into the past. Like all computer programs they produce the results they're programmed to produce and GCMs are programmed to produce warming when forecasting - meaning they produce cooling when hind casting. Herein lies the problem, for Earth was in a cooling cycle from about 1945-1975 (remember all the cries of impending ice age?). Models, however, completely miss the warm period around the 1930s (see contiguous US mean temperature track) and, if allowed to continue, produce major ice age conditions just a few centuries ago. Real world agreement Gerry?

Here's some more comment on GCM virtual world fantasies from the World Climate Report: Proving the Negative. There's a good graph (with explanation) of Earth's recent past climate in Millennial Climate in the same issue. Looking at other models and their efficacy, see how well models (don't) fare trying to forecast a relatively well understood phenomenon like the ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation).

When trying to guesstimate coming climatic trends we may find better clues in the oceanic oscillations. Check out this piece on the PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation). The second graphic displays the monthly PDO index since 1900, note the concurrence between the last major negative phase and Earth's cooling between about 1945 and 1975. Coincidence? Maybe - but look where the PDO is now. Residing in Brisbane, heating is not of great concern to me - but if I lived in the northern or eastern US or Canada, I'd be looking closely at heating oil stocks about now.

"U.S. consumers to see 25 pct. heating price hike" - "American consumers should brace for a jump of at least 25 percent in prices of heating oil and natural gas this winter, with a even bigger leap in store if temperatures are colder than usual, the U.S. government's Energy Information Administration said today. The new predictions for the coming winter fuel season were issued two days after the Clinton administration finalized plans to loan 30 million barrels of the government's stockpiled crude to energy companies." (Reuters)

"Only one-third of emergency oil will be additional supplies" - "WASHINGTON (AP)-- Only about a third of the 30 million barrels of oil being released from the government's emergency reserve will result in additional oil going to refineries, an Energy Department report acknowledged Friday." (Canoe)

"BP thinking big on Slope" - "BP is planning its most aggressive exploratory drilling effort on the North Slope in more than a decade, a top executive said Thursday. The effort this winter will include testing a geologic structure in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska that could hold significant amounts of oil." (Anchorage Daily News)

Unsubtle reminder - oil must be expensive enough to allow sufficient profit and generation of risk capital in order to encourage exploration, development and infrastructure spending. Where consumers are badly hurt is when Big Government engages in price gouging, charging 100-300% taxation, this merely kills economies and impoverished people while suppressing producers and shortening supply.

"Environment minister OKs emissions hike" - "Labor's Environmental Minister will allow Naturkraft to release an extra million tons of CO2 per plant as part of their gas energy project. Environmental groups and centrist parties promise to fight." (Aftenposten, Norway)

"Will this really be the "ag biotech age".... or the "ag litigation age?"" - "The ongoing controversy over the degree to which StarLink corn may be blended into the mainstream of commercial corn trade adds more weight to a comment which Iowa State University law professor Neil Harl made to us this morning: "A lot of people expected this to be the 'biotech age' in agriculture. I'm not so sure anymore. This could be the age of lawyers and lawsuits." (AgWeb.com)

Caffeine addicts greening the planet?  "Nearly 11 Million Coffee Trees Added in the Southern Region" - "The agriculture bureau in the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional state says over 10.7 million coffee seedlings have been transplanted in the state during the current Ethiopian production season." (AllAfrica.com)

"Wind power threatens fishermen" - "Plans for the world's biggest wind power park have made waves for fishermen who say the 200 wind turbines designed to be built in the Baltic sea off Germany would destroy their industry." (Ananova)

"Climate change 'endangers rare birds'" - "Some of Britain's rarest birds could become extinct in their native Scotland due to the climatic changes resulting from global warming, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds." (Ananova)

Which birds? Those specialised to near-arctic habitats. Where are these habitats in the UK? Clinging to mountain tops. Why? Because they're remnant fragments remaining from the retreating glacial age and have been thawing since. Will these habitats survive? Only if another glaciation begins before they thaw. This is genuine climate change - been happening for millennia - not to be confused with the global warming scare.

"Warming confusion" - "It's been seven weeks since NASA scientist James Hansen published Global Warming in the 21st Century: An Alternative Scenario. His message, while not exactly crystal clear on delivery, was nonetheless simple: The Kyoto global pact to halt climate warming by dramatically reducing fossil fuel and carbon dioxide emissions might be too risky, and even ineffective. A less costly alternative, he said, might be to tackle other emissions -- methane, nitrous oxide, black carbon soot and others. It was a shocker to activists, many of whom have been in denial ever since. In an article nearby, Richard Littlemore and Thomas Pederson attempt to argue that Mr. Hansen really intended to propose a two-track effort. They say he actually called for "Kyoto plus an aggressive campaign against non-C02 GHGs." It's a good try, but it doesn't stand up. The Hansen article makes it clear that a one-track Kyoto assault on carbon dioxide would be extremely costly and, worse, wouldn't work." (Terence Corcoran, National Post)

"Survey Highlights Confusion Over Genes, Health" - "PHILADELPHIA (Reuters Health) - In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (news - web sites) (CDC) have attempted to gain information about how the public views the importance of genes and health. The investigators found that many Americans incorrectly believe that genes are the most important factor regarding one's health."

"Toxic mold a growing legal issue" - "Toxic mold, which can cause health problems in homes and the workplace, is the focus of a growing number of legal cases across the country, according to a newspaper for lawyers. The Lawyers Weekly USA said in this week's edition that claims for personal injury and property damage caused by mold growing inside buildings are on the rise, and one of the "hottest areas" in construction defect and toxic tort law. "I view these mold claims as similar to asbestos 30 years ago," Los Angeles lawyer Alexander Robertson told the Boston-based newspaper." (UPI)

"Court to Decide if Snowmaking Harms Colorado River" - "DENVER, Colorado, October 6, 2000 (ENS) - Attorneys representing the U.S. Forest Service went to court Thursday to defend the agency’s 1999 decision to permit snowmaking on about 125 acres of terrain at Summit County’s Arapahoe Basin. The resort is one of the few Colorado ski areas without the ability to augment nature's precipitation with artificially made snow."

"Europe Tells Car Firms More Emissions Cuts Needed" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium, October 6, 2000 (ENS) - The European Commission says its strategy to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from cars is working after a report released today revealed emissions fell by 5.6 percent between 1995 and 1999."

"New report says antimicrobial resistance an ecological issue" - "Washington D.C. -October 6, 2000 -Antimicrobial agents are used for everything from fighting disease to protecting crops to producing food animals, and not enough is understood about the impact of resistance on the environment as a whole. A new report from the American Academy of Microbiology, "Antimicrobial Resistance: An Ecological Perspective," takes a broad view of the problem of increasing resistance to antimicrobials and its consequences for human, animal, and environmental health." (ASM release)

Now you can see the value of genetics research in speeding the development of new antimicrobials and locating pathways less prone to resistance development.

"Water fluoridation reduces risk of bone fractures" - "Community water fluoridation, bone mineral density, and fractures: prospective study of effects in older women" [Water fluoridation: benefits should be considered alongside risks] (BMJ)

"Bribing the Elderly: Bush and Gore Push Free Drugs in Bid for Key Votes" - "I don't dislike the elderly. Both of my parents are old and I hope to be a geezer myself someday. But when it comes to transferring money from young worker to old non-workers, we need to start asking ourselves when is enough enough? The answer so far is "never."" (Michael Fumento in Investor's Business Daily)

"Drugs in sports: why the fuss?" - "People think drugs give athletes an unfair advantage. So do big coaching budgets and high-tech outfits, says coach IAN RITCHIE. Let's rethink this one" (GAM)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT No. 33" - "Remember those "cynics" who said that the Kyoto Protocol is a stalking horse for policies to make energy less available and more expensive? It’s just a bunch of right-wing, paranoid nuts who claim the global warming agenda is to dial coal (our most abundant domestic energy source) out of our energy stream, right? Consider, then, The New York Times’ October 2nd lead editorial "The Politics of Fuel."" (GES)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT No. 34" - "Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman couldn’t get more mileage out of a recent USDA study if he dragged it behind a Honda Insight. The study kicked up more dust again, this week, trumpeting how scientists discovered that levels of ragweed pollen are rising because of the increasing atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide. Gesundheit! Here’s a revelation, it’s not just ragweed. All plants (including the world’s major foodcrops) are doing better because of CO2 fertilization. This fact is attested to in literally thousands of articles in the scientific literature. It has been estimated that crop yield has increased by about 10 percent as a consequence of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions." (GES)

"Campaigning For The Money" - "The Dallas Observer sheds some light on the wacky ideas of the Natural Law Party and its candidate for president, John Hagelin. As we've pointed out before, the Natural Law Party is an anti-choice vehicle for the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his followers, who stand to make a profit from the party's fear mongering campaign. For example, while the party's presidential candidate calls for the labeling of foods containing genetically improved ingredients, fellow Maharishi follower John Fagan makes his living by testing for genetically improved ingredients in food." (GuestChoice.com)

"BASF to put 700 mln euros into GM plant research" - "HAMBURG, Germany, Oct 6 (Reuters) - German chemicals group BASF AG will spend 700 million euros over the next 10 years on research into genetic modification (GM) of plants, a company official said on Friday."

"ANALYSIS: Among parents, backlash builds to Ritalin" - "(October 5, 2000 8:03 p.m. EDT http://www.nandotimes.com) - One day last year, a social worker came knocking on the door of Michael Carroll's home in West Berne, N.Y. The trouble: The father of four had been reported to Child Protective Services for putting his seven-year-old son, Kyle, at risk. Stunned, Carroll asked what he'd done. The answer infuriated him and put the Carroll family at the center of a heated debate about the educational system and the larger culture's increasing use of psychotropic drugs, such as Ritalin, to cope with difficult kids. Carroll's supposed misdeed was not abusing the drugs, but refusing them. He'd been reported by the local school district for taking Kyle off Ritalin. The stimulant, whose use in the United States has increased 700 percent in the past decade, had, Carroll says, turned the once-rambunctious boy into a withdrawn insomniac with no appetite. And his reading level, which was the original cause of Carroll's concern, had not improved. "The school never objected, it just immediately called child protection, without any contact with me whatsoever," he says. "It was crazy." (CSM)

"Diet drug case settled for $200 million" - "JACKSON, Miss. (October 6, 2000 12:51 p.m. EDT http://www.nandotimes.com) - Penny Luckel clung tightly to a heart-shaped pillow as her attorneys won a $200 million settlement against the maker of the diet drug fen-phen. ... The settlement was reached Tuesday in the same Jefferson County court that last year yielded a nearly $400 million settlement involving a different set of plaintiffs and the drug maker." (AP)

"Owens Corning files for bankruptcy due to asbestos claims" - "TOLEDO, Ohio (October 5, 2000 11:10 a.m. EDT http://www.nandotimes.com) - Owens Corning filed for bankruptcy protection Thursday to help it cope with asbestos-related lawsuits that have cost the company $3.1 billion. The supplier of building and industrial materials estimated in July it faced another $3 billion in asbestos payouts even though it stopped selling asbestos products more than 25 years ago. (AP)

"White House Environmental Policy Office Under Fire" - "WASHINGTON, DC, October 6, 2000 (ENS) - A lawmaker who decades ago spearheaded the establishment of the White House Council on Environmental Quality introduced legislation on the floor of Congress this week to abolish the agency."

"Arctic oilfields or pristine poverty" - "Prime Minister Jean Chrétien recently sent a "strongly worded" letter to President Bill Clinton opposing petroleum exploration in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR). If Bill Clinton had sent such a letter to Jean Chrétien, Canada would be up in arms, but no doubt Jean checked it out with Bill first. Maybe it was even Bill's idea." (Peter Foster, National Post)

Cell phones - the latest health aid: "Mobile phones cut schoolgirl smoking?" - "Mobile phones could be a surprise weapon in the health education campaign to cut smoking among young women." (BBC Online)

I love this one - what a quandary for the nannies. Schoolgirls on the phone find their hands and mouths too preoccupied to smoke.

Continue the cell phone scare or deny Big Tobacco some market opportunity? What to do? What to do?

"Fertility threat for dioxin babies" - "Men who were still in the womb during a mass dioxin poisoning scare in the 1970s are showing signs of damaged fertility. Hundreds of families ate rice cooked with contaminated oil in 1979 in Taiwan, many with pronounced health effects." (BBC Online)

Hmm... as I recall this case (and I admit I haven't dug out the reports), people were sold cheap industrial oil in lieu of cooking oil and this resulted in a number of poisonings. That pregnant women were among the poisoning victims is even more unfortunate for the long-term health of the foetus can also be impacted. It is not particularly surprising then to find that some of the victim's children may exhibit responses to their mother's trauma at an unfortunate time (not that there is any particularly fortuitous time to suffer trauma). Whether noted "abnormalities" (lower average height, reduced spermatozoon motility) is a result of foetal exposure to a particular compound or simply the effect of maternal ill-health during pregnancy is moot.

This study is of very limited sampling size (12 individuals), carries the caveat of being inconclusive (major understatement) and should be treated with some caution - not that that will prevent chemophobes trying to build it into something it's not.

"Amendment Would Strip A Top Official of His Powers" - ""The main deal here and what we have heard consistently from the agriculture community is that the E.P.A. is the enemy, and you don't sit down with the enemy," said an Agriculture Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. ... "I have no respect at all for the E.P.A. under the leadership they have today," Mr. Berry [Democrat, Representative Marion Berry of Arkansas] said. "I think they are an out-of-control political agency."" (New York Times)

Well said, that man!

"EPRI study investigates association between health, air pollution" - "Scientists with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) revealed preliminary findings from a two-year, US$7 million, state-of-the-art study on air quality and human health at the Air Quality II conference in McLean, VA, held late last month." (Power Online)

"Prize for science's Ig Nobel thinkers" - "An Australian woman who believes people don't need to eat was among 10 winners from eight countries honored in this year's "Ig Nobel" awards. Jasmuheen, formerly Ms Ellen Greve, of Brisbane, won the award for her book Living on Light, which holds that although most people eat food, they don't need to. They just need to breathe and get the proper amount of sunlight." (The Age)

"American adult smoking holds steady at one in four" - "ATLANTA: The number of American adults who smoke held steady in 1998 at one in four - a rate that hardly budged during the 1990s despite anti-tobacco campaigns and new kick-the-habit aids like nicotine gum and the patch. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday that 24.1 per cent of Americans 18 and older smoked cigarettes in 1998, the latest year for which figures are available. The rate was 24.7 per cent in 1997 and 25.5 percent in 1990. The numbers fall far short of the CDC's goal of cutting the adult smoking rate to 15 percent by 2000." (Times of India) [Cigarette Smoking Among Adults --- United States, 1998]

After how many billion dollars and how much punitive legislation and they still don't get it? No, not smokers,  mean the anti-choice nannies.

Here's a tip for you guys. PEOPLE make lifestyle choices - not governments or nanny organisations. And it won't matter how many warning labels and advertising restrictions are applied. After a certain point, apparently about this one, "forbidden fruit" effect kicks in and the restricted substance becomes more desirable and there's nothing the lifestyle police can do about it.

You've done your thing, expressed your disapproval, poked your nose where it's not wanted and infringed on everyone's personal choice - now take a hike!

"Tobacco lawsuit could die - $23 million needed to continue, Reno says" - "WASHINGTON -- The federal government will abandon its massive lawsuit against the tobacco industry unless Congress provides $23 million to pay for it, Attorney General Janet Reno said Thursday. ''We do not see how we can proceed without the funding,'' she said." (USA Today)

You can't afford to proceed with a corporate shakedown? I'd like to see that!

"Congressman links son's suicide to acne medicine" - "WASHINGTON -- Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., whose 17-year-old son killed himself in May, called Thursday for studies to determine whether an acne medication the teenager was taking, Accutane, can cause suicidal thoughts." (USA Today)

"Activists raise $1 million in bid to end forest eco-wars"

"Environmental activists have backed up their claims they want peace on B.C.'s central coast by raising $1 million to develop a plan to end the eco-wars that have wracked the coastal forest industry for over a decade. The Sierra Club, along with Greenpeace, the Rainforest Action Network and the Coastal Rainforest Coalition, raised the money from foundations and individual members, marking a radical shift away from protesting against B.C. companies to seeking solutions. "This doesn't mean the fighting is going to stop on all fronts. The environmental movement around the world will continue to make noise," said Wareham. "But we feel you can't just keep screaming and saying the sky is falling. We have to figure out a way to end the decline in environmental quality. We are looking at building a solution on the coast and we know that solution is going to require credible conservation science, a new way to do logging and a new economy that creates jobs and community stability," said Smith. "And that's going to require money."" (Vancouver Sun)

Hmm... not running around screaming that the sky's falling is good, so, too, is the bit about credible science. Whether this lot are capable of such a volte-face remains to be seen. I find it very difficult to imagine for the simple reason that the introduction of sound science removes all reason for their existence in the first place.

Call me cynical, but I suspect there may be elections brewing and that the green alliance are putting on a facade of responsibility. I'd love to be proven wrong but just don't see them developing that kind of maturity.

"Volvo Gore, Porsche Bush" - "Would you buy a used car from this man?" (Washington Post)

October 6, 2000

'Fat Police' Brutality - "'Fat's where it's at,' sang 1980s rocker Root Boy Slim. Root Boy didn't know he hit upon the theme for the ever-expanding waistline of the public health bureaucracy -- where lifestyle choices transform into public health issues and no level of disapproved behavior is too small to be called an epidemic." (Steve Milloy at FoxNews.com)

"Mixed Message" - This sidebar to the article "Do Cell Phones Need Warnings?" (Time, Oct. 9) quotes cell phone hysteric George Carlo saying, "No one study allows you to make a definitive determination about public health." True enough. But immediately proceeding Carlo's quote, Time reports, "... Carlo launched a series of studies that ended last year, including one he claims shows a link between cell phone use and a rare type of brain tumor. That report's principal author has said the correlation could be due to chance, but Carlo is undaunted." No wonder the sidebar is titled, "Mixed Message." "Undaunted" is not the right adjective for describing Carlo; "unscrupulous" fits much better.

"How Environmentalism Kills The Poor" - "Donor agencies and the UNEP should beware of denying Africans DDT -- it will kill thousands and delay development. But given that African health officials are unlikely to risk losing aid money by speaking out, and that the left-leaning media cannot bare to say anything positive about DDT, they will probably get away with it." (WSJ Europe)

"Cracking Up" - "Why Is the Ross Ice Shelf Shedding So Many Icebergs?" (ABCNews.com)

I freely admit I thought this would be another loopy COP6 global warming promotion - not so. Full marks to Amanda Onion for including: "Although satellites haven’t captured much iceberg activity at the Ross Ice Shelf before this year, Stan Jacobs of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory has pieced together early descriptions of the shelf since it was first discovered in 1841. These records, he says, suggest it may have been long due to shed some icebergs. “Early records at the beginning of the century show the region to be much further south than it is now,” Jacobs says. “It may have gone 75 to 90 years without a large calving event.”"

"The National Assessment on Climate Change" - "The misuse of science for political purposes has reached new depths with the National Assessment on Climate Change." (Myron Ebell, Intellectual Ammunition)

"EU's tobacco advertising ban is illegal" - "PLANS to restrict tobacco advertising in Europe were declared unlawful yesterday by the European Union's own court. The European Court of Justice overturned an EU directive banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship from 2001, saying that Brussels had no legal basis for introducing the law. But the ruling does not stop member states bringing in their own legislation and the Government said that it would not be deflected from its manifesto commitment to ban tobacco advertising." (Telegraph)

"TAKING SENSITIVITY A BIT TOO FAR" - "It must be the silly season, what else explains the following news items? "A 6-foot Mr. Potato Head statue, one of dozens dotting Rhode Island as part of a tourism campaign, will be taken down because of complaints that the grinning, brown-skinned figure appeared racist," reports the Associated Press. Who knew vegetables had racial identities?" (Linda Chavez in the Chicago Tribune)

Cartoon of the moment: Henry Payne's comment (Detroit News, Oct 5)

"Vatican faces radio pollution trial" - "THREE executives at Vatican Radio will be tried in Rome over its allegedly harmful electromagnetic pollution. The decision follows a magistrates' inquiry after the Vatican said that it was not answerable to Italian law. Assisted by lawyers including Eugenio Pacelli, a nephew of Pope Pius XII, the Vatican said that there was no proof. The inquiry began after it was shown that in a three-mile radius of the station's antennae at Santa Maria di Galeria, Rome, the percentage of tumours and leukemia among the 30,000 inhabitants was well above average. Two Jesuits, Father Pasquale Borgomeo, the radio's director general, and Father Roberto Tucci, its president, with Costantino Pacifici, technical director, will be charged with "dangerous throwing of things" in the absence of a law on electromagnetic radiation." (Telegraph)

"Public trusts farmers' assessments of biotech, says Iowa State researcher" - "When it comes to biotechnology, an Iowa State University researcher says that providing the public with unbiased, balanced, educational information will influence whether biotechnology becomes a vital part of the next modern revolution in food production." (AgWeb.com)

"Probe finds researcher fabricated lab results" - "Dr. Evan B. Dreyer was an up-and-coming researcher at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in the mid-1990s when he developed some experimental data that seemed just a bit too good to be real. But, when colleagues challenged Dreyer in early 1997 to repeat the experiment - a search for a cause of a severe hearing disorder - he neatly produced more results that supported his original findings. It turns out, according to a federal inquiry recently made public, Dreyer faked the results of both experiments and apparently never did the work at all." (Boston Globe)

"Government by anecdote" - "Ask Vice President Al Gore a question and he invariably has an anecdote designed to drive home his point. And so it was time and time again during Tuesday night's debate. Asked a question about public education, Gore told of a letter he received that very day ``as I left Sarasota, Fla.,'' from Randy Ellis about his 15-year-old daughter Kailey, a sophomore at Sarasota High School. ``Her science class was supposed to be for 24 students. She is the 36th student in that classroom. They can't squeeze another desk in for her so she has to stand during class,'' Gore said. It's a touching story. But it is just that - a story. The high school's principal says the class was short one desk for one day, and now Kailey Ellis has a desk to call her own. Now have you heard the one about Gore's mother-in-law and his dog?" (Boston Herald Editorial)

"Energy secretary rips Gore" - "Energy Secretary Bill Richardson took issue Wednesday with Vice President Al Gore's characterization that the country is in an "energy crisis" and that "big oil" is to blame. In remarks before the National Press Club, Richardson said the "political campaign" was behind Gore's accusations against oil companies and that a surge in demand for oil in the United States and abroad is the real reason gasoline, heating-oil and natural-gas prices have soared this year. "We are not in an energy crisis," Richardson said, adding that the problems driving up prices are "short-term" and will be worked out in time." (Washington Times)

"MTBE use rises in California despite ban deadline" - "The use of the additive MTBE to help gasoline burn cleaner has been targeted for elimination in California by 2003 and may yet face a similar ban nationwide, however a report released Wednesday indicates that MTBE use in California has actually been rising." (UPI)

"Presidential nominees share views in Science questionnaire" - "Washington, D.C. - United States presidential nominees Governor George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore, Jr. agree that increased federal investment in research and development and improvements in the quality of American education should be top science and technology priorities in the country's next Administration, according to a questionnaire submitted to the two candidates by the journal Science." (Science release) [The Presidential Candidates on Science Policy]

"Environment taking backseat in election" - "Environmentalists are failing to make clean air and water front-burner issues in Michigan's Nov. 7 election, despite polls showing voters are worried about them." (Free Press)

Check out GuestChoice.com's Daily headlines

Wonder why the food & lifestyle police don't like their site - I do.

"American Chiropractic Association Supports Regulation Of Genetically Modified Plants" - "ARLINGTON, Va., Oct. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- A new policy statement urging strong and effective regulatory control of genetically modified plants was one of many resolutions passed by the American Chiropractic Association's (ACA) House of Delegates during the 37th annual business meeting in Denver, CO, September 6-10. Other positions were taken on issues ranging from seat belts in public transportation systems and a "Calcium Initiative" to promote the importance of calcium in the diet, to a policy statement on fraud and abuse in the nation's health care system."

I'll have to revise my view of bone-crunchers - I didn't know they were so well versed in tissue culture and genetics issues, or even biology and/or ecology generally that they're qualified to take any position on genetic engineering.

"Willy isn't so free after all" - "Iceland - Keiko, the killer whale and star of the Hollywood hit, Free Willy, may finish his life in captivity as he has not taken to life in the wild, his caretakers said on Thursday. "It is likely that he will remain in captivity until the end of his life," said Hallur Hallsson, spokesperson for the Ocean Futures organisation, which has been caring for Keiko in Klettsvik Bay off the southern coast of Iceland." (IOL)

"Ford predicts end of car pollution" - "The 100-year reign of the polluting internal combustion engine is coming to an end, Bill Ford, chairman of the Ford Motor Company, said yesterday. It will soon be replaced in motor vehicles by the hydrogen fuel cell, which emits no pollution whatsoever and so can reduce the build-up of greenhouse gases causing climate change, Mr Ford, great-grandson of the company's founder, Henry Ford, told the Greenpeace Business Conference in London."

Got any Ford shares? I'd sell before Bill does any more damage.

The Greenpeace Business Conference... Probably no wonder I didn't get an invitation - I'd probably have written it up as: Wealthy Multinational Hosts Business Conference - screening process for next extortion targets called 'great success'.

"Junk food blamed for the return of rickets" - "Thousands of young children are not being taught to chew or swallow solid food at the right age, leading to serious diet deficiencies endangering their long-term health, doctors said yesterday. Experts told a conference on child nutrition there had been a worrying rise in the number under the age of three suffering from anaemia and rickets because they were being fed convenience foods rather than a proper balanced diet. Doctors are starting to see scurvy, caused by a lack of vitamin C." (Independent)

"Tests Find High Chromium 6 Levels Throughout County" - "Tests of tap water at 110 Los Angeles County government facilities showed levels of chromium 6 at up to 8 parts per billion--more than 40 times the suggested limit, according to a study to be released today." (LA Times)

So... people in these regions shouldn't breathe the water then? What is it with Americans and Cr(VI)? It's non-toxic and benign unless aspirated.

Silly me - I've just done a web search on Chromium 6 in the US - and come up with Hollywood - should've guessed. The search also turned up some interesting pieces by Michael Fumento and, when I checked, they were linked from www.fumento.com. Recommend you start with those since he provides source details and you can see the originals.

"Genetic clues to obesity" - "Scientists have uncovered more evidence that some people may be genetically predisposed to obesity." (BBC Online)

"Government stalls on water fluoridation" - "A major study has found that adding fluoride to water supplies does have significant health benefits. The long-awaited research, by the NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (CRD) found that water fluoridation was linked to a reduction in tooth decay. It also found no evidence that it was linked to any health problems - despite previous claims of a link to cancer, Downs Syndrome and the bone disease osteoarthritis." (BBC Online)

"Lovers risk dehydration" - "Many British couples run out of steam after having sex because they fail to drink enough water, according to a study. Doctors say the finding could explain why many people develop headaches or become lethargic after intercourse." (BBC Online)

You're wrong! I'm not going to say anything.

"Greenpeace warns fuel protesters" - "Greenpeace is preparing to campaign head to head against fuel protesters, if blockades of oil refineries go ahead next month. The environmental group said it would send teams to each blockaded venue to argue the green case for maintaining the current level of fuel duty. The tax is "justified to stop climate change and improve air quality," the group said." (BBC Online)

Now this could get entertaining. Note to Greenpeace: I really don't think protesters fighting for their livelihoods are likely to be intimidated by your announced intentions - or by your off-the-planet theories.

"Greenpeace Says Firms Have Produced 'Human-Pig' Hybrid" - "BERLIN - Two firms seeking a patent on an embryo cloning process have performed an experiment in which they created a "human-pig" hybrid embryo, environmental lobby group Greenpeace said on Thursday. A spokeswoman for the companies involved in the patent application confirmed that laboratory cells of human origin had been used in the experiment but denied that what resulted was a human hybrid, and said Greenpeace had misunderstood the case." (Reuters)

"New Food Guidelines for U.S. Stress Overall Diet" - "NEW YORK - The American Heart Association dished out new dietary guidelines on Thursday, stressing for the first time obesity prevention and overall eating patterns instead of recommendations on percentages of fat or nutrients. The association's first diet update since 1996 said that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fish, lean meats and poultry was still the basis for its guidelines to help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, the No. 1 killer of men and women in the United States." (Reuters)

Remember what Grandma used to say? "A little of everything and not too much of anything" remains sound advice for omnivores such as humans.

"Don't Blame Deregulation" - "Fed up with crowded airplanes and airports?  Blame the system's socialist infrastructure, not deregulation." (Virginia Postrel, New York Times)

"Man's Arm Muscle Cells Used to Treat Heart" - "NEW YORK - Working with surgeons and cardiologists from Temple University in Philadelphia, researchers from a Massachusetts company have taken the first step in what they hope will be a new treatment for damaged heart muscle." (Reuters Health)

"Scientists Find Child Cancer Treatment Target" - "LONDON - US scientists said on Wednesday they had found a potential new target for the treatment of childhood cancers. The scientists from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, said in a study published in the journal Nature that they had found a specific gene that contributed to the development of neuroblastoma--a form of lethal malignant tumour that affects children." (Reuters)

Enviro Policy Quagmire - "The Everglades restoration plan demonstrates what's wrong with federal environmental policy." (Brian Doherty Reason Magazine)

"U.S. food firms hail biofood label ruling" - "WASHINGTON - U.S. foodmakers on Wednesday praised a court ruling upholding the Food and Drug Administration's eight-year-old policy that biofoods are not materially different from conventional foods and do not need special labels." (Reuters)

"Workers unwittingly take home toxins" - "Employees endanger their loved ones when invisible but poisonous substances cling to their belongings" (USA Today)

If I'm reading this correctly, workers exposed on the job are unaffected but law suits contend that traces of "contaminants" transported on workers' clothes, shoes, hair and even folders in their briefcase, are decimating family members. Why aren't directly exposed workers affected when indirectly exposed cohabitants apparently are? There's something wrong with this picture.

"Reno Appeals for Funds to Continue Tobacco Suit" - "Attorney General Janet Reno warned today that the Justice Department will be forced to drop its multi-billion dollar lawsuit against the major tobacco companies unless spending bills moving through Congress are amended to provide funding." (Washington Post)

"Mutations Linked to Miscarriages Late in Pregnancy" - "NEW YORK - Mutations in the genes for two blood clotting factors can triple the risk of a miscarriage in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, results of a study suggest. ... Because of the 16% likelihood of blood clotting factor gene mutations in women who have late miscarriages, Martinelli and colleagues conclude that screening for such mutations should be done for women who experience this complication of pregnancy." (Reuters Health)

"Researcher clarifies misconceptions about biotech crops used in livestock feed" - "“Biotechnology” is term that has become so widely used today, and yet so often misunderstood, that it can be somewhat confusing to farmers, as well as the general public, according to an Iowa State University dairy researcher." (AgWeb.com)

October 5, 2000

Gone with the Wind, EPA-Style? - EPA was compared to a plantation yesterday in a congressional hearing on racial discrimination at the agency. EPA massuh Scarlet O'Browner reportedly was on the verge of tears during the hearing. Don't cry, Miss Scarlet. After all, tomorrow is another day. In the meantime, let's all sing the first verse of Dixie -- pre-1860 style, of course...

I wish I was in de land ob cotton,
Old times dar am not forgotten,
Look away! Look away!
Look away! Dixie Land.

Of course, that would be "pesticide- and GMO-free cotton" in the year 2000 version of Dixie.

"Study Finds More Hazards at Paducah" - "Workers at the Energy Department's Paducah, Ky., uranium plant were exposed to deadly metals at levels far higher than previously believed, including radiation exposure up to 20 times the legal limit, according to a draft study." (Washington Post)

Oops! Not even Junkmen get 100% for homework.

As part of a climate posting yesterday, I included mention of a Gallup poll of which I had been reminded by an August editorial in The Vancouver Sun. While the poll exists it is old and the figures likely meaningless today - so please don't rely on them and don't cite them. If I can find some current data I'll post a supplemental.

In the words of Thomas H. Huxley: "The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin." Well, I let down my guard of scepticism and posted information likely inaccurate - mea culpa! I'll try not to let it happen again. -- Barry Hearn

'INSTITUTE SUES THE PRESIDENT OVER "JUNK SCIENCE"' - "Washington, DC, October 5, 2000 - The Competitive Enterprise Institute announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against President William J. Clinton. Joining CEI as co-plaintiffs are Representatives Joseph Knollenberg (R-MI) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Consumer Alert, 60 Plus Association, Heartland Institute, and David Wojick. The parties seek the federal court in Washington, D.C., to declare a $14 million compilation of global warming scare stories as unlawfully produced in violation of three federal laws. The document in question is the National Assessment Synthesis Report, or "National Assessment on Climate Change." Requested by Congress no later than 1994, the requested Assessment was required to detail the state of the science and the uncertainties surrounding the theory of man-made global warming." (Competitive Enterprise Institute)

"Eek! Attack of the Perfectly Harmless Tacos!" - "It took Kraft about two days to begin carting back millions of taco shells believed to have been slightly tainted by a genetically-modified corn variety not yet approved for human consumption. But before succumbing to hysterics, we should consider what`s already in the taco supply. In every 50 grams of cornmeal (the primary ingredient in tacos) the FDA will allow one ``whole insect,`` 50 insect fragments, two rodent hairs, or one ``rodent excreta fragment.`` Similar standards apply to other foods such as Macaroni, a package of which may contain 225 insect fragments and 4.5 rodent hairs per 225 grams." (WSJ)

Scare du jour: "Sinister side of sunscreens" - "SUN-LOVERS beware: sunscreens could be toxic. A chemical commonly used in sun lotions to protect against ultraviolet radiation kills animal cells, Norwegian scientists have discovered. And it may become more deadly after a few hours out in the Sun." (New Scientist)

Lest anyone think they can circumvent the dreaded "ozone loss" by use of sun block, the nannies have a scare just for you. If the UVB doesn't get you, the sun block will!

Just before we get too excited, let's review a few relevant pieces. Yesterday, I featured Air pollution may cause vitamin D deficiency - cause: inadequate UVB exposure - possible consequences: rickets, osteoporosis... . The Sunday Times ran Sun-shy children lack vitamin D about a month ago and, back in April, at the the annual conference of the Australian Rheumatology Association, Dr Jones, a researcher at the Menzies Centre for Population Health Research in Hobart, was cited in this article in The Age thus: "Public health authorities have gone too far in their warnings about getting skin cancer from the sun and were putting people at greater risk from other diseases and injuries, a Hobart rheumatologist said yesterday. Dr Graeme Jones said that apart from melanoma, which could be predicted accurately in some groups, skin cancer killed virtually no one. But Australians, and particularly Tasmanians, needed more vitamin D from the sun to reduce the risk of fractures, colon cancer and other diseases."

Parenthetically, there is some indication that long-term use of sunscreens actually stimulate T-cell production and provide a boost to immunity, but we'll never know because it's simply not practical to follow a group of users and a control group of non-users (of sunscreens) for decades from birth to prove the situation one way or the other.

The bottom line is that you should avoid sunburn - that's definitely not good for you - and you should get adequate UVB exposure for your health's sake. Finally, if you're an animal cell in a Petri dish, perhaps lay off the sunscreen a bit.

Now, if everyone will excuse me, I'm going out to catch some rays - osteoporosis is a lot bigger risk for me than melanoma.

"Greenpeace finds 13.7 mln Britons prefer GMOs" - "London--Oct. 3--A survey commissioned by Greenpeace indicated that 13.7 million people in the United Kingdom would prefer meat or dairy products from animals fed on genetically modified crops, compared with animals raised on non-GMO feed. That's not what the environmental organization highlighted in reporting the survey results last week, but it showed how many Britons support GMOs in the food chain--and, for the first time, how many back their use strongly." (Bridge News)

The indoctrination continues: "New Website Helps Journalists Cover Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals" - "WASHINGTON D.C. Oct 4, -/E-Wire/-- The authors of the groundbreaking book on hormone-disrupting chemicals have launched a new website, OurStolenFuture.org, to provide journalists with background and up-to-the-minute information on the subject."

Oooh! Yeah, this'll help soooo much. For a dose of reality try: Our Swollen Future - the 60 minuts interview. For something a little more profound: Endocrine Disrupters: A Scientific Perspective.

"Judge nixes label for altered crops" - "A U.S. federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by critics of agricultural biotechnology who want the government to require labels on foods made with genetically engineered crops. The lawsuit challenged the Food and Drug Administration's 8-year-old policy that considers gene-altered crops to be essentially the same as those produced by conventional breeding methods and thus not subject to the same regulatory controls as food additives. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, in a ruling Sept. 29, said the biotech critics failed to prove that FDA violated procedural and environmental laws in establishing the policy or that the agency should mandate labeling of the foods." (AP)

"BIO Applauds Court Ruling on FDA Biotech Policy" - "WASHINGTON, Oct. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) today applauded the summary dismissal in federal court of a lawsuit challenging the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) regulatory policies governing foods and crops derived through biotechnology. ``Dismissal of the case against the Food and Drug Administration is a huge victory for FDA and consumers. The summary dismissal of this case upholds existing FDA policies based on a science-based regulatory system for reviewing and labeling foods improved through biotechnology,'' said Michael J. Phillips, BIO's executive director for food and agriculture." [Judge Upholds F.D.A. Policy on Genetically Altered Foods]

"Court rules to dismiss lawsuit challenging the way FDA regulates biotechnology" - "Today's ruling by a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) regulatory policies governing food and crops derived through biotechnology is bringing criticism from some and praise from others. The judge upheld FDA policy on genetically modified food and rejected the Alliance for Bio-Integrity's attack that the lack of labeling and mandatory safety testing violated safety laws." [Biotech group applauds court decision to uphold FDA policy] (AgWeb.com)

"The Precautionary Principle, DDT, and GM-Food" - "Sir—D R Roberts in his viewpoint(1) and your July 22 editorial and commentary(2) made abundantly clear the profoundly harmful effects of the restrictions on and banning of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) on public health in the regions least able to tolerate them. The real tragedy is that there is not, and never was, any valid reason for these measures, which have caused so much human suffering. They are the unfortunate legacy of the self-styled environmentalists, whose bible remains Carson's Silent Spring." (Dr Gilbert Ross in a letter to The Lancet)

"Extreme weather 'warning' to world leaders" - "Friends of the Earth says weather-related disasters should be a warning sign to the world's leaders that climate change threatens the livelihoods of millions of people." (Ananova)

Fiends of the Earth are at it again - this time trying to associate weather events with a climate trend. In fact, going by NOAA's climate disasters of the twentieth century list, there is an inverse correlation between atmospheric greenhouse gas levels and climate disasters.

See also: A Five-Century Rainfall Record for the Canadian High Arctic - "This study, like many others, contradicts the story promulgated by climate alarmists relative to the effects of global warming on extreme weather events and weather variability, both of which are typically claimed to increase with an increase in air temperature.  Here, however, in a part of the planet predicted to be most impacted by CO2-induced global warming - the Canadian High Arctic - a warming of the climate is demonstrated to reduce weather extremes related to precipitation, even in the face of a slight precipitation increase associated with the long-term warming."

Media monitors & junk science junkies - take a pat on the back: "FESSING UP TO QUESTIONABLE REPORTING" - "WASHINGTON -- What would you do if you were an editor, and you came to understand that some important work done by your newspaper had been flawed? For many an editor, the answer has been: little or nothing. A good teaching editor might discuss the work internally, hoping the staff would learn from it. But to let the public in on an acknowledgment of error? At best--assuming a cold hard fact was indisputably wrong--there might be a stinting, largely impenetrable correction (perhaps passed off under the not-so-mea-culpa heading, "clarification"). But to address publicly the truthfulness of the work as a whole? To assess its fairness and balance? To discuss what should have been written that wasn't? It is rarely done. Which is why The New York Times made news--and set a precedent--with its Sept. 26 piece bylined "The Editors," about coverage of the Wen Ho Lee case. ... My hunch is that the presence of the Internet--where much of the criticism first appeared and where the rest of it was widely reported--was a key reason the Times went public with this response. Which makes me hopeful that we'll be seeing this Net effect more broadly--and for many years to come." (Chicago Tribune)

"Food poisoning bugs thrive in crop sprays" - "PESTICIDE sprays encourage life-threatening bacteria to grow on crops, a researcher in Canada has discovered. The bugs could pose a threat to people eating raw fruit and vegetables such as strawberries, raspberries and lettuce." (New Scientist)

Oh, so biodegradable pesticides are a hazard because they don't kill bugs - too target-specific and not enough uh... collateral damage. We'd better hurry up with our proliferation of bioengineered crops then - for safety's sake.

"Jesus Was No Vegetarian, Author Says; Animal-Rights Campaign Ignores Gospel Accounts of Christ's Diet" - "DALLAS, Oct. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Recently, the animal-rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) chose the image of Jesus on the Shroud of Turin as its new "poster boy," launching a massive advertising campaign claiming that Christ was a member of a Jewish vegetarian sect. Not so, says Dallas-based Kevin Orlin Johnson, Ph.D., author of Why Do Catholics Do That? (Ballantine), The Shroud and the Apocalypse (Pangaeus Press), and many other books on Christian beliefs and practices. "The Gospels -- the most detailed records we have -- say explicitly that he ate fish and lamb regularly."" (Entertainment News Daily)

"Study says red meat can reduce heart disease risk" - "Red meat, once condemned for its artery-clogging cholesterol, is now being called an acceptable part of a heart-healthy diet. New research, which was published in a recent issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, shows that consuming lean red meat or lean white meat for an extended period of time provides significant health benefits. It effectively reduces the so-called "bad" cholesterol and raises "good" cholesterol concentrations in people with elevated cholesterol levels, according to the research." (AgWeb.com)

"Govt urged to accept GM food products" - "The government should accept genetic modification of food crops as there is no substantiated argument to the contrary, says an international authority. The issue has been clouded by irrational arguments against genetic modification (GM) claiming that the process is unnatural or unsafe to human health and the environment, according to Professor Marc van Montagu from the University of Ghent in Belgium." (Bangkok Post)

"Forums find low gene knowledge" - "New Zealanders are showing a high level of confusion about genetic modification in the lead-up to a formal inquiry. The Royal Commission on Genetic Modification begins formal hearings in Wellington this month but for the past two weeks it has been holding informal public meetings around the country. About 70 people were at a Hamilton meeting yesterday. A meeting will be held in Rotorua today. Commission media liaison officer Sarah Adamson said it had emerged that most people had a poor understanding of the scientific issues involved." (New Zealand Herald)

"Brazil Greenpeace to launch anti-GM food site" - "SAO PAULO - In a bid to heighten consumer awareness of genetically modified (GM) foods, Greenpeace in Brazil is launching a new web site entitled "Transgenics on my plate, no!", said its Brazilian campaign director yesterday. The new site, (http://greenpeace.terra.com.br/transgenicos) will feature a section devoted to cyber-activism in which visitors can participate in virtual campaigns against food companies that use GM products in their products, said Delcio Rodrigues of Greenpeace." (Reuters)

"U.S. biofood industry plans advisory panel" - "WASHINGTON - The U.S. bio-food industry, under closer scrutiny since the recent contamination of taco shells with unapproved biotech corn, has said it would create an advisory panel with consumer groups, farmers, food makers, grain exporters and other groups." (Reuters)

"NASA finds largest-ever ozone hole" - "GREENBELT, Maryland (CNN) -- Scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center said they have located the largest ozone hole ever recorded, an area approximately three times the size of the United States." (CNN)

Put another one on the board for Pat Michaels: An October Environmental Surprise? and, if you haven't already, check out News on the ozone front.

"NASA Scientist Predicts Less Climate Cooling From Clouds" - "Don't count on clouds to come to the rescue if the Earth's current climate-warming trend continues. That's according to new NASA research published in the October 1st issue of the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate. Heating and cooling of the Earth are influenced by cloud cover. Clouds can act as a natural sun shield by reflecting light back into space. But clouds can also coat the skies like a blanket, trapping warmth." (NASA/GSFC)

Just because computer games climate models can't cope with cloud albedo (reflection of solar radiation) is no reason for all you cynics to believe this is simply pre-COP6 propaganda - leave that to me.

At this stage of climate knowledge, current weight of hypotheses is that the net balance of cloud effect is a cooling influence. That not all clouds behave similarly is perfectly true - as a general rule of thumb, high clouds constitute a warming influence while low cloud is a daytime cooling influence (no clouds are night time cooling influences for the simple reason that there is no sunlight to reflect).  To date, cloud observations (yes, there are people who spend their lives watching clouds) have found no change in cloud formation, type, cover, proportion or persistence - making a case for altered albedo untenable.

"Opportunities for Australia in climate change response" - "Observations are providing reliable evidence that the Earth has warmed by about 0.6°C through the twentieth century and that warming is clearly visible in Australian measurements, Queensland MPs were told at a CSIRO Science Briefing today. Dr Graeme Pearman, Chief of CSIRO Atmospheric Research, told the MPs that computer models of the climate provide a reliable indication of the global warming expected as a result of current and future changes in greenhouse gases." (CSIRO release)

Oh, so climate models are reliable now are they? Check out Assessing the impossible - "In general, while some models are pretty close to the zero line (no error) in some regions, in general there is oodles of scatter. In some cases the temperature error is more than 5 degrees and the precipitation errors approach 200 percent but are generally less than 100 percent, at least from June to August. No one model does much better than any other across all regions".

Want to know how the 1st Presidential Debate was viewed overseas? Here's a link to The Daily Telegraph leader.

"Global activists need dose of reality" - "Last week, Prague became the stage for the latest anti-globalization protests, occasioned by the meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. San Francisco Chronicle editorial writer Ruth Rosen hails them as champions of equality, justice and human rights. But in many ways, their fight is more like a big tantrum against the modern world." (Cathy Young in The Detroit News)

"Energy agency seeks more heating oil to ease tightness" - "The industrialized world's energy watchdog, the International Energy Agency, today urged oil companies to try to supply more heating fuel to alleviate what it called an unusually volatile market. But the IEA signaled its members were ready to release strategic reserves only in the event of significant supply disruption, explaining producers were pumping enough crude to meet world demand despite the market's short-term tightness." (Reuters)

"EPA relaxes lead paint removal rules" - "Federal environmental officials have relaxed rules for removing lead paint from homes in Massachusetts, a first-in-the-nation move that aims to reduce lead poisoning in children by making disposal cheaper. An agreement reached Monday between the Environmental Protection Agency and state and city officials would allow lead paint debris to be classified as household waste that can be disposed of in ordinary landfills." (AP)

Conspiracy theory of the day: "State of California helped cause blackouts in June, group says" - "A Sunnyvale consumer group accused California state energy officials Monday of helping cause the June 14 blackouts in the Bay Area to justify new power plant construction and "drive up the price of electricity" at the behest of power generating companies." (San Jose Mercury News)

"Battle occurs over attempt to change EPA diesel rule" - "WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and oil industry are engaged in a battle over a proposed amendment to a spending bill before Congress which the agency says would gut plans to clean-up diesel pollution from heavy trucks." (Reuters)

"U.S. will have problems selling oil, OPEC president says" - "The United States will have difficulty selling crude oil from its emergency stockpile, despite prices near their highest level in a decade, the president of the OPEC cartel said today. The White House announced plans to release oil from its huge Strategic Petroleum Reserve last month as the country faces the threat of heating oil shortages just as its citizens elect a new president in November. "They will have some problems placing the strategic reserves because several companies invited to bid for them are not participating in the auction," Rodriguez, who is also Venezuelan Energy and Mines Minister, told a radio interview. Some big companies such as Royal Dutch/Shell , Texaco Inc. , BP Amoco Plc and Conoco Inc. have submitted bids for the 30 million barrel offer in November, but No.1 oil company Exxon Mobil Corp., Phillips Petroleum Co. and Coastal Corp. all declined. "I insist the problem is not crude oil availability, but refining capacity, refinery utilization," Rodriguez added." (Reuters)

"Rubbish is not for burning, says Byers" - "THE Government is to cut incineration from its green energy programme, to the delight of environmentalists and residents who claim that rubbish-burning power stations are a health hazard."

Yup, gotta use biofuels - just keep all that organic stuff out of it.

"GREEN POWER SUPPLIER LAUNCHES "ADOPT-A-WINDTURBINE" PROGRAM" - "TRUCKEE, California, October 4, 2000 (ENS) - Customers of renewable energy electricity can have their name etched on a wind turbine in California. The Adopt-A-WindTurbine Program is open to all flat rate plan customers of TenderLand Power Company who want to have their name placed on one of the towers being installed as part of the Alta Mesa Wind Energy Project in Palm Springs."

Wow! Conservation is becoming really specialised - now you can adopt a white elephant.

"Emus making tracks for our medicine cabinets: WCH researchers unravel the mysteries of emu oil" - "As early as 1860, a London academic publication described how the Aboriginal people and early Australian settlers used emu oil to heal wounds, reduce pain and relieve various muscular disorders." (Adelaide Women's & Children's Hospital release)

Wonder when they'll get around to snake oil - or have they?

"Helping energy conservation projects survive the budget axe" - "Companies considering energy conservation measures must balance each measure's price tag with the expected energy savings. Conservation projects that don't offer a quick investment return won't survive the budget axe. Now, energy engineers reveal that a more comprehensive analysis of the company’s energy costs could increase the value of the project, allowing the company to carry out conservation plans that might otherwise appear too expensive." (INEL release)

Alternate title: Creative Accounting for Conservationists

"CDC's Battle of the Bulge: Escalating Obesity in U.S." - "In a letter to be published today in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. calling obesity "a critical public health problem," officials at the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged sweeping new policies that they believe could make a difference." [CDC Outlines Ten Top Public Health Challenges]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention... they're your infectious disease epidemic monitoring and response group yes? So, if I stood next to an obese person I could, like - catch fat?

"Greenpeace Issues 'Shopping List' of Biofoods" - "WASHINGTON - The anti-biotech group Greenpeace issued a "shopping list" on Wednesday outlining thousands of brand-name cereals, snacks, frozen dinners and other foods that contain genetically-altered corn, soybeans and other ingredients." (Reuters)

"Little gem" - "AUSTRALIAN engineers have invented a device that blasts the noxious gases in car exhausts with microwaves, eliminating up to 70 per cent of harmful emissions. Better still, the process can double as a source of industrial-grade diamond." (New Scientist)

Cool! Now we know what to do with emissions - nuke 'em!

"Radiation revelation" - "A study on wheat grown close to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant has found a DNA mutation rate three times higher than expected. "This was a very big surprise," says Yuri Dubrova of Leicester University, UK. "Our results point to as yet unknown effects of low-dose chronic exposure to ionising radiation, which make it substantially more mutagenic than previously thought," he says." (New Scientist)

Well gosh! Radiation can accelerate mutation. Wonder if that's why it's used to force crop plant mutation as in the UN's rice cultivar project in China? Curiously, the New Scientist article did not include such caveats as:

"Kovalchuk cautioned that her team studied only less-critical and less-stable segments of DNA known as microsatellites."

"Marlis Frankenberg-Schwager, who studies the effect of radiation on yeast at Germany's University of Gottingen, said it is too soon to say if the higher mutation rate holds for critical genes in wheat. She added, ``This mutation rate is still so low that you need not worry about it probably.''"

After all, these caveats are from the AP release on the same study and some mutation is normal anyway. There is nothing in this preliminary study which tells us whether the identified mutation rate is detrimental, beneficial, benign or even persistent. Makes you wonder why the press is so excited about it.

"UK electricity suppliers face 'green' goals" - "Stephen Byers, UK trade secretary, will on Thursday tell power companies to treble their use of wind power and other renewable energy sources within 10 years or face financial penalties."

Make consumers pay more to install more bird mincers. Good thinking - TWIT!

October 4, 2000

"ATTACKS ON IRRADIATION HINDER EFFORTS TO SAVE LIVES, ENHANCE FOOD SAFETY, SAYS GMA" - "WASHINGTON, DC, October 3, 2000 - Ideological attacks on food irradiation hinder efforts to save lives and enhance the safety of the food supply, the Grocery Manufacturers of America said today. In response to the latest series of orchestrated attacks on irradiation led by the group Public Citizen, GMA said the scientific evidence supporting the benefits of food irradiation is overwhelming." (GMA release)

"Repetition and Pain: Data Are Incomplete" - "Your Sept. 18 page-one article "Proposed OSHA Rules ..." highlights how liberal our country has become. Many things about medicine have changed in my 20 years as a doctor (10 as a hand surgeon), but making conclusions in the face of incomplete data is still wrong. Yet this is the current American situation with "repetitive motion injuries." ... As I watch the Olympics, I'm reminded of the Australian experience with this problem. When proof of cause and effect between workplace repetition and pain could not be established, the Supreme Court of Australia found that repetitive strain injury was not an injury, the employer  was not liable, and the plaintiff had to pay all costs. Their epidemic was over. Maybe some of our nation's attorneys and bureaucrats should go "down under."" (Letter to the Editor, WSJ)

"Climate feels the Sun's effects" - "Recent reports that global warming is caused "mainly by the Sun" have been dismissed by leading scientists. The reports claimed that research by the European Space Agency (ESA) and others showed that computer models had severely underestimated the Sun's impact on the climate. But a conference sponsored by the ESA and the European Union has heard that the evidence is far more complex. ... Dr Mike Hulme, executive director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, UK, said the so far unquantifiable contribution of the Sun is consistent with climatologists' understanding of what is happening. He told BBC News Online: "The case argued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a carefully-worded judgement. "Most scientists say it is fairly guarded, and is supportable. It allows both a substantial role for the Sun, and an inconsequential one. All the evidence suggests that it's greenhouse rather than solar forcing that's the problem, but the IPCC leaves the door open. It is this range of uncertainties that makes future predictions so difficult."" (BBC Online)

"In sum, a strategy must recognize what is possible. In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-liner chaotic system, and therefore that the prediction of a specific future climate state is not possible." -- Final chapter, Draft TAR 2000 (Third Assessment Report), IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

"The forcings that drive long-term climate change are not known with an accuracy sufficient to define future climate change." -- James Hansen, whose alarmist presentation to congress more than a decade ago did so much to set all this nonsense in train.

"The consensus is that major advances are needed in our modelling and interpretation of temperature profiles . . . and their analysis by the scientific community worldwide." -- David Parker, Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, Berkshire.

(*** This maintained for historical accuracy only - the mentioned poll is old and should not be cited: [A Gallup poll of members of the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society finds only 18 per cent believe global warming is demonstrable. Half said flatly it hasn't happened.] ***)

In fact, more than 17,000 scientists, the majority with advanced qualifications and, more importantly, scientists in appropriate disciplines rather than "concerned proctologist" or whatever, have put their names (and careers) to a petition stating:

We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan in December, 1997, and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.

There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.

This leaves me agreeing with Fred Palmer:

"At this point in the debate, it is intellectually dishonest and borders on fraudulent to continue to maintain that there is any reasonable basis to fear a coming climate apocalypse. Yet the scientific establishment continues to grind out tortured "studies" to prove black is white. Those involved in this charade are doing lasting damage to science and the reputations of scientists. Hell, you are no different than the worst lawyers - you will say whatever people want you to say so long as you are paid." -- Fred Palmer, president of the Greening Earth Society.

"Cost of running a car 'too low'" - "Road transport costs in the UK are not too high but too low, a Labour peer has suggested, citing an estimated 19,000 deaths a year from air pollution." (Ananova)

Ah, yes - creative accounting and the pollution "victims".  What is modern city air quality like compared with say, 50 years ago? Does the term "killer fog" ring any bells? Average human lifespans have increased by roughly 20 years in the industrialised world since the proliferation of the terrible automobile - an obvious indicator of extirpation.

"Dieting Athletes Put Fertility at Risk" - "MONDAY, Oct. 2 -- An inadequate diet -- not physical exertion -- may be the trigger that shuts off menstrual cycles in some female athletes." (HealthSCOUT)

"Global Air-Cleaning No Easy Task" - "Researchers at the National Energy Technology Laboratory in West Virginia are working to find ways to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and pack it away so it can no longer contribute to global warming. The goal: to permanently store CO2 inside certain minerals, use it to beef up weak soil and grow trees and inject it deep into rocks at the bottom of the ocean. Carbon dioxide, ever-present in daily life, is the largest component of greenhouse gases. Generated by cars, power plants and other industries, the warmth it helps create may contribute to melting glaciers, rising sea levels and other ecological problems." (Fox News)

Carbon dioxide is also produced by forests, oceans, babies and cute furry animals - so what? It doesn't "create" warmth but can absorb infrared radiation.

The enhanced greenhouse hypothesis speculates that increases in atmospheric content of the minor greenhouse gases (water vapour is the major greenhouse gas) could lead to atmospheric warming, in turn, leading to surface warming. Bit of a problem there because the atmospheric temperature is not reflecting changes in greenhouse gas levels.

Little or no warming is predicted for the tropics (because the tropical atmosphere is already saturated) while massive warming is touted for polar regions simply because that is where the warming potential exists. Well, levels of the minor greenhouse gases (combined) have increased by nearly 50% over pre-industrial levels and we would then expect change to be evident by now. Another problem for warming proselytisers - scientists have been monitoring the South Polar temperature at the Amundsen-Scott base since 1957 (getting chilly isn't it), while analysis of Northern high-latitude temperatures show them the same now as they were in the 1930s. Oops.

Check out John Daly's Stations Page on his excellent Still Waiting For Greenhouse site for a terrific selection of temperature tracks from rural and remote weather stations. Not too much warming in evidence.

This raises another interesting point. The atmosphere is not warming beyond normal variability and yet the 'surface' record appears to indicate significant warming. As far as I know, no one has postulated a plausible mechanism by which a warming atmosphere could cause surface warming while demonstrating an absence of atmospheric warming. How could this be? The answer may lie here.

"Anti-GM vigilantes marshal forces in India, push for 10-year moratorium" - "NEW DELHI -- They have come from different parts of the world and have different professions, but they have one common enemy -- genetically engineered products and one common cause -- to "save" India from the disastrous end of " genetic pollution"." (Xinhua News Agency)

"China says GM crops are answer to future food supply" - "CHANGCHUN, China -- Genetic technology, instead of chemical fertilizer, will help realize an increase in the amount of corn produced in China in the coming years, expert said." (Xinhua News Agency)

"Biotech group pledges to "increase public understanding"" - "The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) today issued the following statement concerning safety and channeling of its products to appropriate uses." (AgWeb.com)

"Law review hint after GM protesters cleared" - "Shadow Agriculture Minister Tim Yeo has accused the Government of "losing public confidence over GM crops". Mr Yeo was replying to concerns at a Conservative Party fringe meeting in Bournemouth, over a recent court case involving Greenpeace protesters who were found not guilty of damaging a GM crop trial in Norfolk. Mr Yeo told the meeting organised by the Country Landowners Association that: "It was a most extraordinary decision and does have very alarming implications. There will have to be a review of the law if it appears this was a correct interpretation which is likely to be repeated. " He added: "The Government has completely lost the confidence of the public in the handling of the whole GM issue."" (Ananova)

"Stakes raised in Europe's GM food fight" - "LONDON, England -- Across Europe, from the grocery aisle to the fields, consumers and environmentalists are stepping up the pressure on governments, scientists and biotechnology companies in a genetically modified food fight with global implications. Showing a flair for grass-roots consumer activism, the more strident critics of bio-engineering brand gene-altered crops "Frankenfoods." By conjuring a ghoulish image of mutated fruits and vegetables on dinner plates, opponents have helped galvanise a consumer backlash against GM food." (CNN)

"GM Maize Opponents Struggle at Hearing" - "LONDON - A former dental surgeon, a wildlife expert and a Welshman opposed including GM maize on the UK's National Seed List on Tuesday at an unprecedented hearing sent reeling by the producer's refusal to offer witnesses. Campaigners forced the government to hold what could turn into a 10-week hearing by exploiting little-known provisions in seed legislation to fight a bid by biotech company Aventis to register the seed variety, Chardon LL, for marketing. But on Monday, the first day, lawyers for Aventis said the company would send no representatives for cross-examination. They argued the seed variety had passed all necessary tests." (Reuters)

Companies don't want to give the technophobes a free kick? Imagine that...

"USDA Agrees to Alter Animal Welfare Act" - "In a move biomedical researchers say could undermine lifesaving experimentation in this country, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has granted legal protection to mice, rats and birds under the Animal Welfare Act." (Fox News)

"Cleansing The Land For Milk And Honey" - "Former Naval Academy Farm to Be Purified and Reborn as Organic Dairy
If you've ever wondered about media bias, that Washington Post headline says it all. It's going to be very difficult to get the truth about organic agriculture out (i.e. that it's no more healthful - just less productive - than conventional farming) with media bias like this." (GuestChoice.com)

"Brazen Terrorists" - "In light of members of Greenpeace UK being released without criminal charges following their destruction of genetically improved crop fields, American eco-terrorists are stepping up their activities. One anti-choice group has even gone so far as to provide video footage and still photographs from their latest terrorist attack on genetically improved crops being tested at the University of California-Davis." (GuestChoice.com)

"London road-tests paving stones that 'eat' pollution" - "The streets of London may never be paved with gold, but they may soon be paved with stuff that sucks up pollution. Westminster City Council is demonstrating its determination to improve air quality by becoming the first city in Europe to test a groundbreaking pollution-eating paving stone. Pioneered by Japan's Mitsubishi Materials Corporation, the paving blocks break down pollution from car exhausts. They contain titanium dioxide, the council said yesterday, which uses sunlight to absorb harmful nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere and convert them into harmless nitrogen and oxygen. The chemical reaction works in both wet and dry conditions, it said." (Independent)

"DDT Injured Eagles, Falcons, Judge Rules" - "A federal judge ruled Monday that DDT pollution on the ocean floor is responsible for decades of injuries to bald eagles and peregrine falcons on the Channel Islands." (LA Times)

Check out 100 things District Judge Real should know about DDT and Facts Versus Fears: DDT

"New studies differ on flu vaccine's value" - "CHICAGO (October 3, 2000 10:23 a.m. EDT http://www.nandotimes.com) - A new study suggests flu vaccines could help children stay well and reduce the use of over-prescribed antibiotics. But while the vaccine could also help keep adults under age 65 healthy and reduce missed work days, a cost-analysis conducted in another study found no savings in giving the flu shots to those adults." (AP)

"The National Anxiety Center's 'Warning Signs'" - Check out Alan Caruba's latest column

"Anthrax Shots, Illness Linked, Congress Told" - "WASHINGTON - The military's mandatory anthrax inoculations are making people sick and should be halted or made voluntary, a series of witnesses who became ill after taking the shots told Congress on Tuesday." (Reuters)

"Study: Dioxins in Arctic Canada Linked to South" - "NEW YORK - Cancer-causing dioxins polluting Canada's Arctic region have been linked for the first time to specific incinerators and smelters thousands of miles south in the United States, Canada and Mexico, a study released on Tuesday said." (Reuters)

Ben & Jerry's strikes again?

"GAS PRICES: GORE'S ACHILLES' HEEL" - "IF George W. Bush wants to score big tonight, he should hit Al Gore hard on energy prices -specifically, on Gore's strong support for the international Kyoto Protocol, which the Clinton-Gore Energy Department says would drive up gasoline prices by 53 percent, and home-heating costs by 147 percent. Gore has long backed many policies that drive up energy costs: He has a firm belief they should be higher. In his book "Earth in the Balance," the vice president makes no bones about his belief that "higher taxes on fossil fuels ... is one of the logical first steps in changing our policies in a manner consistent with a more responsible approach to the environment." In other words, Gore specifically advocates a policy of raising taxes on fossil fuels to the point where consumers are forced to use less. And if Gore gets his way and enacts the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty to restrict emissions of carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases believed to contribute to global warming, things will get a whole lot worse." (Ben Lieberman in the New York Post, Oct 3)

"Debate Rises Over a Quick(er) Climate Fix" - "A sharp new debate has sprung up among atmospheric scientists over where to aim efforts to stave off the prospect of global warming from the buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Some say the main target should be carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas, while others say the most practical solution is to focus first on less common, but more powerful, substances possibly influencing climate, like methane, ozone and soot." (New York Times)

If it ain't broke - don't fix it!

"New Efficiency Standards Proposed for Appliances" - "WASHINGTON, Oct. 2 — Central air-conditioning and heat pumps would have to do the same amount of work on 20 percent to 30 percent less electricity under standards that will be proposed on Tuesday by the Energy Department as part of a broad effort to reduce consumption by appliances to cut air pollution, fuel use and strain on the electric system. The added costs for central air- conditioning and heat pumps would be greater than the cost of the energy saved, officials said, but the reduced need for new power plants might make up the difference." (New York Times)

First, they were in your toilets with mandated low-flush...

"Suspended fines for French anti-GMO campaigners" - "FOIX, France - A French court yesterday handed down suspended fines to four environmental activists for destroying an experimental crop of genetically modified rapeseed last year." (Reuters)

"US EPA head says no decision on mercury-utilities rule" - "WASHINGTON - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Carol Browner said yesterday no decision has been made on whether the agency would begin regulating mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants." (Reuters)

"Air pollution may cause vitamin D deficiency" - "NEW YORK: A haze of polluted air may cause vitamin D deficiency in young children, British investigators reported here at the 22nd annual meeting of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. Concerned that air pollution and related haze might block ultraviolet B radiation from sunlight, Dr. Zulf Mughal, a consultant pediatrician at the University of Manchester, England, worked with researchers at the University of Delhi, in India, to measure haze in Mori Gate, located in the central part of Delhi, and Gurgoan, on the city's outskirts." (Times of India)

"Maine clergy tackle global warming" - "PORTLAND, Maine, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Mixing religion and politics, a coalition of Maine clergy has urged its congregations to take the initiative in halting global warming. The clergy called for parishioners to lobby their senators to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement that would reduce the burning of fossil fuels." (UPI)

God flush the Kyoto Protocol

October 3, 2000

"Uphill fight for GM trials" - "SPOT the difference between the following two approaches to biotechnology:
Example one: "Farm-scale crop trials, possible accidental gene transfer and genetic modification of animals are top of the agenda for a new commission."
Example two: "Genetic modification could lead to zombie farm animals programmed to feel no pain or stress, government advisers warned yesterday."

Example two, from the Daily Mail, went on to warn of animal vegetables and "Frankenstein farmyards". The warnings, suitably dressed up for front page treatment, came from two members of the agricultural and environment biotechnology commission established in June to advise government. ... But only those which agree with the Daily Mail that the implications of biotechnology have not moved on since Mary Shelley invented Frankenstein and his monster two centuries ago have any chance of being printed.

The views of Matthew Freeman, a senior researcher in molecular biology, and Ben Mepham, executive director of the food ethics council, passed the Mail’s test. What Dr Mepham actually said was that it might become "technically possible" to produce "animal vegetables" which were highly prolific and oblivious to their physical and mental status. Dr Freeman warned: "Animal GM has not yet hit the public consciousness in the way that plant GM has ... but as a controversial issue this has all the right elements."

It certainly has, given the Mail treatment. The fact that Drs Freeman and Mepham both say that the benefits of some genetic modification of animals could revolutionise medicine and prevent much human pain and suffering is mentioned at the end." (The Scotsman)

"Science award winners hope to dispel GM fears" - "The winners of the Prime Minister's Science Award say the recognition should help dispel fear about genetic modification techniques. The Prime Minister will present CSIRO scientists Jim Peacock and Liz Dennis with his award tonight for their discovery of the gene that controls flowering in plants. The research can be used to boost the world's food supply by making crops less susceptible to bad weather.
Dr Peacock hopes the award will show the benefits of such technology and convince the community to dismiss some opponents of genetic modification. "Greenpeace is among them, Gene Ethics is another group that often uses shoddy and often misleading information to try and grab the headlines against us," he said. "The organic farming groups in Australia I think have been conned actually into taking a position quite contrary [to what]...they really should be taking. This is a very positive thing for organic farming." (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

"GM protestors complain they missed destroying a "secret" test plot" - "Just when you think the GM controversy in Britain can't get more bizarre, it does. The objectors used to demand total proof of GM safety before such crops are used in human food... but lately they've pledged to destroy any trials to create that proof. In this story, the outrage is that the vandals missed destroying a trial because the government didn't point out where it was." (AgWeb.com)

"Malians Consume 6.5 Million Tons of Firewood Annually" - "Firewood accounts for close to 99 percent of Mali's domestic fuel needs, a study conducted by the National Energy Bureau in Bamako says. According to a survey for 2000, each Malian uses an average of 1.5 kg of firewood per day or 6.5 million tons each year among a population of more than 11.9 million. This amount represents the equivalent to around 464,285 hectares (1.15 million acres) of forested areas, the study indicates." (Pan African News Agency)

But Greenpeace told me restricting power generation was good for the planet - unlike those rapacious loggers who, uh... destroy forests.

"Top-level fuss over tobacco billions" - "With the control of billions of dollars at stake, Beacon Hill power brokers are engaging in a furious, behind-the-scenes struggle over who will manage the assets, award the lucrative investment contracts, and dole out the high-paying jobs to run the newly created tobacco trust. State Treasurer Shannon P. O'Brien is challenging Governor Paul Cellucci over how best to manage and invest the hundreds of millions of dollars that the cigarette manufacturers are giving to Massachusetts for each of the next 25 years under a 1998 national tobacco settlement." (Boston Globe)

So good that this is not about money...

"Agribiz Firms Seen To Focus Next On Consumer Needs In Development Of Gene-Altered Food" - "After developing genetically modified crops that primarily benefit farmers, big agribusiness firms will soon be concentrating on genetically altered food crops that will benefit consumers, a scientist noted last week. US-based Dr. Channapatna S. Prakash, a professor of plant molecular genetics at Tuskegee University in Alabama, said he sees multinational agribusiness companies focusing next on developing food crops that will respond more to the needs of consumers. He said such effort will be fuelled by greater market demand for products that bring more benefits to consumers rather than producers." (Business World)

"FDA to Test Other Foods for Biotech Corn --Green Group" - "WASHINGTON - The Food and Drug Administration plans to test some snack foods, breakfast cereals and other foods containing corn flour to see if they contain the same unapproved variety of biotech corn found in taco shells, a coalition of anti-biotech groups said on Monday." (Reuters)

"Press critics note media’s favoritism toward Al Gore" - "On Tuesday, George W. Bush will go head to head with Al Gore in the first presidential debate. Will the referees be wearing gloves also? The referees are Washington’s press pack, which has dictated the campaign’s direction for a month. In a capital press corps lacking ideological diversity — reporters voted 89 percent for Bill Clinton and just 7 percent for George Bush in 1992, according to a Roper-Freedom Forum poll — that direction has decidedly favored Democrat Gore. So glaring has the press interference been, it has caught the attention of both GOP partisans and respected media critics like the National Journal’s Charlie Cook, Fox News’ Brit Hume and the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz. (Henry Payne in The Detroit News)

"Renewable energy: good for the world, better for the bottom line" - "The search for clean alternatives to fossil fuels has held Canada’s public imagination for more than three decades, yielding some remarkable technologies since the early days of the ecology movement. But they haven't produced much in the way of sales. So the pitchmen and the pioneers of the clean energy trade have shaken themselves from the dream of greening the planet with good intentions. Forget about pollution and climate change; the masses aren’t interested." (ENN)

To be viable, "renewables" need to be practical, reliable and affordable. Solar suffers from a disadvantage due to the sun's unfortunate habit of being on the wrong side of the planet half the time, meaning it can only be a supplement to baseload generation or you must have some storage medium for electricity and that's both expensive and has environmental cost. 

On the point of "greening the planet", check out Greening Earth Society or Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change - you might get a surprise about just how much coal fired generation does for the greening of the planet.

See also the above item on Mali's use of biofuel. Doing a lot for their local environment you reckon?

Here's a different perspective on wildfires: "Wildfires spark gains for loggers" - "But for Joseph, a town of 1,300 in remote northeastern Oregon, the $2.6 million the Forest Service spent fighting the fire over one week — much of it spent locally on everything from bulldozers to sack lunches — was more than three times the annual payroll of the one shift still working at the town's last surviving sawmill. "It's sad to say everybody gets excited when the fires burn," Zacharias says. "It's about the only boost in our economy anymore." (ENN)

"Dumb & Dumber" - "Who do you call when you need someone to rail against something that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, World Health Organization, and American Dietetic Association say is not only safe, but is a potential lifesaver? In their campaign against food irradiation, Ralph Nader's Public Citizen turns to Dr. Samuel Epstein, who was ranked last among a group of scientists in terms of confidence in level of expertise on environmental cancer by the American Association for Cancer Research. Sounds like desperation time…" (GuestChoice.com)

"Organic Food Claims Rebuffed" - "In Britain the food faddists are having a field day. Sales of organic produce are rocketing, partly due to food safety scares I described in March. Supermarkets report an 18% increase in 12 months. Vegetarianism is up 7% since 1998. The claims made by European protagonists of organically-produced food seem to have got out of hand. Four of five claims recently have been publicly slapped down by Britain’s government-backed advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)." (National Hog Farmer)

"Paradise image hides deadly chemicals" - "Auckland - They might look like picture-postcard paradises but the South Pacific’s smallest nations are being threatened by their own bewildering array of wastes, a new report says. Many of the nations cited for making a mess of themselves are critical of industrial nations which, they claim, are going to swamp them through global warming and a rising sea level."

"Chilling tale for icepack addicts" - "People who use a packet of frozen peas to bring down the swelling on a bruise or strain could be risking frostbite, say doctors." (BBC Online)

"Smoking May Lead to Teen Depression, U.S. Study Finds" - "CHICAGO - Contrary to the notion that depressed teen-agers were more likely to take up smoking, a study found that young people who became smokers were more likely to become depressed, researchers said on Monday." (Reuters)

"Swiss cabinet rejects time limits on nuclear plants" - "BERNE - The Swiss government decided yesterday against putting time limits on the operation of nuclear power plants. Citing economic reasons and the need to cap carbon dioxide emissions, the government took the decision as part of preparations for a new nuclear energy bill which it plans to present in parliament next March at the earliest." (Reuters)

"US Grains-Corn exports unhurt by tainted tacos" - "CHICAGO - The discovery of corn not approved for human consumption in taco shells has raised eyebrows but not affected U.S. corn exports in the 10 days since the incident was made public, exporters said yesterday. There have been no cancellations or reschedulings of export orders since Kraft Foods, the largest U.S. food company and a unit of Philip Morris Cos. Inc. , said on September 22 it was voluntarily recalling Taco Bell taco shells nationwide." (Reuters)

"Goodbye, Joel Klein" - "Joel I. Klein, leader of the government's antitrust crusade against Microsoft Corp., announced recently that he will resign as chief of the Justice Department's antitrust division. Goodbye, Joel, and good riddance. I say that without an ounce of personal animosity. I like Joel Klein and actually consider him a friend. He is a smart, dedicated, personable guy. But, in filing an unwarranted lawsuit and pursuing it with typical Kleinian fervor, he did enormous damage -- not just to Microsoft itself, but to the entire high-technology sector, and to the economy. He has been, in short, a menace to the New Economy." (James Glassman in Reason Magazine)

"Peering into the Ozone Hole" - "Concentrations of ozone-destroying gases are down, but the Antarctic ozone hole is bigger than ever. It turns out there's more to ozone destruction than just CFCs." (NASA release) See also News on the ozone front

Drunk Driving Limit Hits Hill Roadblock - "Just as Congress appears poised to impose a national drunk driving standard for the first time, opponents are launching a furious, last-minute lobbying campaign to derail the measure." (Washington Post)

"A LOOK AT . . . Patents & Biotech" - "But the real story here is one of complexity, not scandal--and we shouldn't be too quick to denounce Elan or companies like it. In an era when the pharmaceutical industry estimates the average cost of successfully developing a new drug to be more than $500 million and biotech companies as a group lost $5 billion last year, one thing is clear: Companies cannot afford to get involved in innovative research without the possibility of profit. Patents give companies a fighting chance of recouping their enormous investment costs, and of making money for shareholders. Without that protection, they could not raise the funds necessary to pursue new lifesaving drugs or therapies at all." (Washington Post)

"Letting Down Our Reserves" - "Only the innocent could believe that President Clinton's decision to release 30 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve wasn't driven mainly by politics. Whatever the stated justifications, the essence of this act is to provide a roughly $1 billion federal subsidy to Al Gore's campaign. (This values the oil at about $33 a barrel.) As politics, the gambit may play well. Americans don't like high gasoline and heating oil prices. They don't like OPEC. Clinton's action--at Gore's urging--aims to cast George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who criticized the move, as patsies for the oil moguls. But as energy policy, it's a bad idea of strained legality." (Robert J. Samuelson in the Washington Post)

October 2, 2000

"The fuzzy goals of antiglobalization activists" - "THIS PAST WEEK the Czech capital, Prague, became the scene of the latest of post-Seattle antiglobalization protests, occasioned by the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Many people who undoubtedly disapprove of the protesters' violent rampage still believe they have a message that needs to be heard. San Francisco Chronicle editorial writer Ruth Rosen hails them as champions of equality, justice, and human rights. But in many ways their fight is more like a big tantrum against the modern world." (Cathy Young in the Boston Globe)

"NEW ICEBERG IN THE ROSS SEA, NATIONAL ICE CENTER REPORTS" - "September 29, 2000 — A new iceberg, 345 square miles in area, has splintered away from Antarctic's Ross Ice Shelf in the Ross Sea, the National Ice Center in Suitland, Md., reports." (NOAA News)

Ice shelves are the result of glacial snow and ice accumulation. When gravity overcomes ground friction glacial creep occurs and the glacier eventually runs out of land surface, extruding out to sea. Tidal motion and currents conspire to fracture the unsupported structure and ice bergs are calved.

Given the current hype over global warming, how long before some fool tries to claim this as evidence of the dreaded warming? Try Friday - last Friday:

"Large iceberg breaks free from Antarctica" - "...The Ross Ice Shelf, on the part of Antarctica closest to Australia and New Zealand, is one of two massive ice fields on the continent that have been the site of increased "calving" of huge icebergs. While Iceberg B-20 is large, it is dwarfed by others that have separated from the Ross and Ronne Ice Shelves in recent years. Many scientists have speculated that the increase in the separation of ice from the Antarctic continent is caused by human-induced global warming, ..."

Had to happen. In case anyone's forgotten about the events of last May:

"Three giant bergs calved in Antarctic" - "... It is unlikely that these calving events are the result of regional climate warming. With the loss of these three icebergs, the front of the Ronne Ice Shelf returns to about the same position it occupied in the 1950s. Large Antarctic ice shelves advance slowly and calve icebergs periodically."

Translation: after a half-century of growth, the ice shelves are over extended and unstable. Current calving events are returning them to about the same boundary as they were prior to intensive fossil fuel use and significant change in atmospheric levels of so-called greenhouse gases (GHGs).

Parenthetically, "greenhouse" is an appalling analogy for the infrared absorbency of these gases. The glass on a greenhouse interrupts thermal convection, reducing energy transfer to the wider atmosphere (you remember - warm air rises, hot air balloons...) and would not work if it was infrared opaque. Since GHGs do not prevent atmospheric mixing they most certainly do not act like the glass on a greenhouse.

"Catalytic Converters May Cause Pollution" - "SATURDAY, Sept. 30 -- The same devices credited with clearing up vehicle air pollution around the world may in fact be polluting the atmosphere. Researchers at the University of California, (UC) Berkeley, say that catalytic converters -- considered so essential in reducing auto emissions -- appear to produce large quantities of ammonia, which can result in the heavy layers of brownish haze that blanket many urban areas. (HealthSCOUT)

"World Conservationists Meet to Set Global Agenda" - "LONDON - Environmentalists, politicians and scientists will hammer out a global agenda to save endangered species and preserve the world's ecosystems at an international conservation conference in Jordan this week. The World Conservation Union (IUCN) said its eight-day congress will bring together 2,500 delegates from 140 countries in the biggest gathering of its kind in the Middle East and one of the largest since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit." (Reuters)

Gee, wonder why have we had all those release on species endangerment lately?

"Scientists puzzled by study showing pollution rises at night" - "HOUSTON – Scientists say they are in the dark about an air-quality study showing that smog-related air pollution in Texas' smoggiest city climbs at night. Scientists involved in the recently completed Texas 2000 Air Quality Study also discovered that Houston sometimes has "ozone episodes" or occasions when ground-level ozone pollution skyrockets without an apparent cause. Study scientists say they have yet to determine what such observations may mean, the Houston Chronicle reported in Saturday's editions. The findings "hit us in the face," said Peter H. Daum of the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y." (AP)

"Protesters demand end to using nuclear energy" - "TOKYO, Japan – Anti-nuclear activists, some dressed in funeral black, called for an end to nuclear energy in a noisy demonstration Saturday, a year after Japan's worst nuclear accident killed two people and exposed hundreds to radiation. More than 100 demonstrators shouted through bullhorns outside the Science and Technology Agency, demanding the government pull the plug on Japan's nuclear power industry. Nuclear power generates about a third of electricity in this resource-poor country."

Today's Gore-ing 1: Henry Payne's comment in the Detroit News October 1.

Today's Gore-ing 2:"Midwest, meet Al Gore unplugged" - "Republicans throughout the Midwest are privately expressing frustration that George W. Bush hasn’t gone after Al Gore more aggressively on his extreme environmental views, including his pledge to phase out the internal combustion engine. Michigan GOP leader Rusty Hills speculates that Bush officials “just don’t believe people will believe the things Gore has said about the subject.” (Thomas J Bray in yesterday's Detroit News)

"Sue Everywhere" - "The European Commission has proposals on the table to make product liability laws in Europe more consumer-friendly. If you're doing business there, you'd better pay attention." (Forbes)

"Voodoo Investing" - "In science, a little knowledge really is a dangerous thing." (Michael Fumento in Forbes)

"Nothing Comes Between Me And My SUV" - "... Which is more dangerous, a bicycle or a nuclear power plant? The statistics say that bicycles are the killers--773 deaths in 1998. Nukes didn't kill anyone. But people's hunches run the other way. They worry more about tornadoes (130 deaths a year) than crossing the street (2,708 deaths), more about commercial jets (0.03 deaths per 100 million passenger miles) than about driving at night (16,480 between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m.)." (Melanie Wells and Robyn Meredith, Forbes)

"Locking Up Greenhouse Gas Studied" - "MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Researchers at the National Energy Technology Laboratory use big words to explain their work, words like ``terrestrial carbon sequestration'' and ``gigaton.'' Perhaps that's because of the scope of their task: Cleaning up the Earth's air is a big job. Scientists here are studying ways to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and lock it up so it can no longer contribute to global warming." (AP)

That's great fellas. Uh... ever noticed that there's no indication that carbon dioxide is, in fact, contributing to global warming? Or that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide are responsible for about 12% of the yield increases in global food crops? That increased forest productivity from this source has preserved even more wildland and wildlife habitat? It could be that liberating a portion of sequestered carbon is the most biosphere-friendly thing humans have ever done. After all, the carbon released from the burning of fossil fuels was originally sourced from the atmosphere by thriving biological activity, activity which declined as its carbon resource was depleted. Are we really sure we want to undo our good work?

"Direct action against another's property: is it ever justifiable?" - "Yes - Bruce Kent: 'It should be self-evident that those who own land have no right to do what they like with it' (!?)
No - Ann Mallalieu: 'Peaceful demonstration within the law is far more effective than trashing a field of maize'
" (Debate in UK's Independent on Sunday)

"Millions of trees felled in UK forestry crisis" - "Britain's forestry problems have been aggravated by the actions of conservationists, industry figures say, even though groups like Greenpeace oppose the indiscriminate felling in the virgin forests of developing countries. The creation of commercially sustainable forestry in the UK has been frustrated by interest groups concerned about the impact on local wildlife. Michael Harvey, managing director of Maelor Nurseries, believes the opposition is misconceived." (Independent)

"'Secret test' threat to GM crop trials" - "The row centres on a GM trial site at Dartington, in Devon, which became a cause célèbre two years ago after a farmer claimed it could contaminate his organic crops. After the farmer unsuccessfully appealed to the High Court to stop the trial, the field was invaded by local protesters who uprooted the plants.

The National Institute of Agricultural Botany, which was carrying out the trials, had agreed to supply information about it to the Farm Association, one of its main opponents. But after the invasion, its director, John MacLeod, wrote to the association to say he could no longer provide the information because of "the total destruction of that trial".

...But yesterday the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Maff) said there had been a second GM crop on the site which had not been destroyed. It said the letter to the Soil Association had been carefully worded because the institute had not wanted to "volunteer information that could have caused another crop to have been destroyed"." (Independent)

"Scottish salmon farming revolution that has left the seas awash with toxic chemicals" - "Environmentalists have accused the salmon farming industry of poisoning shellfish stocks, thus creating toxic algal blooms around the coast which threaten the survival of wild salmon stocks. Fish farms have also been accused of using illegal toxic chemicals, leading to criminal inquiries by environmental regulators. Mass escapes of farmed fish have also led to claims that these will irrevocably damage the country's wild stocks." (Independent)

"Workers in contaminated homes" - "A study has revealed that Dounreay Nuclear Plant workers have been contaminating their homes with radioactive particles from their clothes." (BBC Online)

"Forget fruit, toast is the 'healthy' breakfast" - "LONDON - One slice of toast is better than fruit and yoghurt first thing, say French scientists. And as for a fry-up, forget it. For years nutritionists have been telling us to make sure we start the day with a substantial healthy breakfast. "Breakfast like a king," is the often-repeated mantra. But research by French scientists published in the British Journal of Nutrition has found that the advice may be misplaced. They say a humble piece of buttered toast is a much healthier petit daacéjeuner than bread, yoghurt and fruit, as the latter is likely to lead to weight gain." (New Zealand Herald)

Gee, I wonder how this will go with the Just say No! to toast campaign?

"Poverty cuts years off NZ lives" - "Poverty cuts nine years off the lifespan of New Zealand men and more than six years off women's lives. The stark statistics presented by health researchers are some of the sharpest indicators of the links between poverty and health." (New Zealand Herald)

"Finland seen set to boost its nuclear power" - "HELSINKI - Finland may soon become the only European country to increase its dependence on nuclear power." (Reuters)

"Standards for websites on health coming" - "NEW YORK: A Washington-based organisation, better known for accrediting managed care organisations, is preparing to put its stamp of approval on purveyors of e-health. URAC, formerly called the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission, announced on Thursday that it has appointed an advisory committee to begin developing standards for accrediting health websites. Draft standards will be tested and released for public comment in the coming months. Final standards are expected to be completed by Spring 2001 for implementation later that year." (Times of India)

"Stressed Out About Combat" - "Poor Francoise Monnin. The widow of Jean-Denis, a navy mechanic who died in 1996, was about to have her husband declared the first official French Gulf War syndrome victim when a surprise turn around occurred at her September hearing before a pensioners commission. The French government produced military records that said Monnin never served in the Gulf during the war with Iraq. Finally, a conclusive diagnosis." (Washington Post)

October 1, 2000

It's October and junk science minds naturally turn to witch hunting - either that or they thought yesterday was Halloween:

"Watch out, diet cooldrinks can kill you" - "Diet cooldrinks and sweeteners contain an ingredient that could be harmful to consumers, with side effects ranging from headaches, mental confusion and seizures to a risk of cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
This is the warning from international researchers and anti-food toxin activists who say there are 9 000 products on the market that contain aspartame - a sweetener which they claim can lead to 92 documented symptoms, even leading to coma and death. They warn that people have suffered disorders with doses as small as a single stick of chewing gum." (Saturday Star, S.A.)

You have to admit, they practice what they preach as far as junk recycling goes. MPI airhead Betty Martini is apparently following the lead of Greenpeace, et al, in taking their venomous scares to impoverished regions in order to find sufficient undereducated people among whom they can whip up some hysteria. See also: ACSH Debunks Internet Health Hoax; Aspartame and the internet; NutraSweet and Brain Tumors; Saccharin May Be Delisted From NIH's Carcinogen List; Sweetener Is Safe, Government Panel Says

"Co. To Buy Back Biotech Corn Crop" -
"WASHINGTON (AP) - The government wants to make sure that a variety of gene-altered corn linked to a nationwide recall of taco shells doesn't get into the food supply again. Aventis CropScience, the company that produces the corn seed, agreed Friday to buy all of this year's crop, worth an estimated $68 million. Federal officials say there is no known health risk from the corn, known as StarLink, but it has not been approved for human consumption because scientists are unsure whether it might cause allergic reactions." (AP)

Cartoon of the moment: "Campaign in the balance" - Larry Wright in yesterday's Detroit News. See also Henry Payne's comment on the 26th.

"Five million acres wanted for 5-inch frogs" - "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is moving forward to declare more than 5 million acres of California land critical habitat for the endangered California red-legged frog." (ENN)

Pre-COP6 hype of the day: "Global warming portends more heavy weather" - "As much as the world tries not to warm up to heat-trapping greenhouse gases, it continues to warm up from them. Climate change is already causing an increase in the number and intensity of natural disasters, according to a study released Friday by the World Wildlife Fund. The report, "Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events," concludes that as concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continue to rise, so, too, will the intensity of rainstorms, floods, droughts and other extreme weather events." (ENN)

The World Wide Font of Nonsense with their latest contribution to global warming hysteria. We can expect a lot of disaster prognostication over the next month or so as the IPCC gravy train prepares to meet again at The Hague in November. The global warming hysteria brigade are becoming quite desperate as their carefully contrived scare comes unstuck. Earth steadfastly refuses to behave as the computer games climate models insist that it should. Click here to see the monthly atmospheric mean temperature track - doesn't bear any relation to the near linear increase in the minor greenhouse gas CO2 does it. You can see mean Earth temperatures split by hemisphere here.

Interestingly, in last week's Sunday Times article, Stronger sun is blamed for global warming, science editor Jonathan Leake was commenting on the Tenerife conference THE SOLAR CYCLE AND TERRESTRIAL CLIMATE. Citing Dr Paal Brekke, Soho's deputy project scientist: '"Taxing carbon-based fuels may be good for other reasons but our evidence suggests it will not be much help in keeping the Earth cool," ... Scientists previously calculated that the sun radiates only 0.7% more energy than 150 years ago, causing about a tenth of global warming. Brekke and others say the models underestimated the 3% UV light increase over the same period, generating extra ozone that locks more heat into the atmosphere.' They may well be right for there seems a strong correlation between solar activity and global temperature.

Speaking of increasing stratospheric ozone, Professor Pat Michaels raised a warning flag about NASA's anticipated political science in an article on Saturday: An October Environmental Surprise?

NASA says ozone's depleting, ESA (European Space Agency) says it's increasing. So which is it? EVAG collated a series of graphics from NASA's Earth Probe Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (EP/TOMS) in an effort to clarify the situation: News on the ozone front (be aware that the file contains almost 240kb of graphics). Stratospheric ozone is apparently highly variable and appears to exhibit seasonality but depleting? Hmm...

"Native Americans zero in on bioengineering schemes" - "Native American beliefs hold that all life is sacred and should not be tampered with. That's why Native activists from around the nation are taking aim at bioengineering projects that clone animals, create new plant species, and splinter human genes into their tiniest fragments." (Indian Country Today)

"Nuclear waste went to faulty drums" - "YAKIMA, Wash., Sept. 30 —  High-level nuclear waste at the Hanford nuclear reservation was buried decades ago in bottomless containers less than four miles from the Columbia River, the Energy Department said Friday. The agency said that may be why the level of radioactive tritium in area groundwater is 400 times higher than the federal safety standard." (AP)

Much alarm and wringing of hands. Is it a serious problem? Should we be spending more on nuclear safety ... or maybe we already spend too much? Here's Dr Herbert Inhaber in Nuclear News:

"Are We Paying Too Much to Reduce Radiological Risk?" - "The linear-no-threshold theory of radiation has generated strident debate ringing down the halls of ANS (American Nuclear Society) meetings for years. Detractors of the theory claim that it costs the public truckloads of cash due to excessive regulation of nuclear power and related industries. ... Prof. Zbigniew Jaworowski of Poland has been a delegate to UNSCEAR (the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation) for decades. In a widely circulated article in Physics Today last year, he said that the theory has cost the world billions of dollars for little effect, and is one of the greatest scientific scandals of the twentieth century."

"Horror grass threatens devastation" - "AUSTRALIAN weed-control agencies are racing against time to retrieve an exotic grass, imported as seeds into Australia through the internet, before it escapes from gardens and devastates the country's grazing industry. ... Weed experts in Australia regard Mexican feathergrass as potentially an authentic "superweed" – a genuine and enormous threat to the environment and to agriculture, as opposed to the hypothetical risk posed by a weed that may arise from genetically modified crops." (Sunday Herald Sun)

"Weight on the mind" - "LONDON: Stress, not diet, may cause women to pile on the kilos around their stomachs, a study reveals. Experts claim cortisol, the hormone produced by stress, can make otherwise slender women accumulate fat around their abdomen. The finding threatens to overturn the traditional perception that suffering stress causes, if anything, weight loss." (Sunday Telegraph)

"Fifth CJD victim in 'cluster'" - "A fifth person has died of suspected new variant CJD in a small area of Leicestershire. The man, who died on Thursday evening after months of illness, is believed to have been a farm worker with links to the village of Queniborough, just north of Leicester. The village is being investigated by the Department of Health over its high incidence of the new variant CJD - the human form of 'mad cow disease' BSE - after four people living within a five-mile radius of each other, died of the disease." (BBC Online)

"On the Trail of Genetically Altered Corn Flour From Azteca" -"... Mr. Lynn said the company's tests for StarLink, performed by outside laboratories, were inconclusive. Sometimes the corn tests negative and the flour tests positive. Sometimes multiple samples from the same lot of flour give different results. The company is about to begin testing corn arriving at the mill for the presence of StarLink, using a new test introduced this week by Strategic Diagnostics. Shipments of yellow flour should resume soon. The whodunit, however, might remain unsolved. "I'm not sure we'll ever know what happened," Mr. Lynn said, "if it happened."" (New York Times)

"Eating the greens" - "Electronics giants such as Sony are using the internet to hit back at troublesome eco-warriors" (The Observer)

Probably very wise to keep an eye on the eco-worriers. Bet the biotech industry wish they'd had similar foresight rather than being blindsided by technophobes.


"AA says fuel tax helps to cut pollution" - "THE fuel tax escalator helped combat pollution and congestion, according to an AA report yesterday." (Telegraph)

Uh-huh... Fuel tax rise will not cut pollution - report "The clear conclusion from the report is that technology, and not taxes, will be the key to reducing pollution from Britain's road traffic, said AA spokesman John Dawson." (Ananova, Friday) Given that these comments are on the same Glaister report, commissioned by the same Automobile Association, we can assume that one or more of these reports reflect the biases of the reporters.