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Archives - October 2003

October 31, 2003

"Enviros fan California's flames" - "Our forests are detonating like napalm bombs. We need to remove dead and dying bug-killed timber," said Rep. Wally Herger, R-Calif.

Is this Monday-morning quarterbacking spurred by the wildfires now raging in California? Hardly." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Scientists test Blair and find him wanting" - "More than 100 leading scientists have made a once-in-a-generation appeal to Tony Blair to save British science from a tide of neglect and abuse that is driving the brightest young brains abroad.

The academics, including a Nobel laureate and a host of Royal Society fellows, warned Mr Blair that government attitudes were causing some scientists to flee Britain and demoralising others whose work had been “misrepresented and sabotaged”.

In a letter delivered to Downing Street yesterday, 114 eminent researchers blamed Mr Blair for a “backward slide” in the climate for debate over technologies such as genetic modification." (The Times) | Scientists attack government handling of GM crops debate (Independent) | Scientists attack Blair over GM (BBC News Online) | Scientists complain GM debate was mishandled (The Guardian)

See the above-mentioned letter reproduced in full on EnviroSpin Watch

"Worried Warriors?" - "Have you got a minute for Greenpeace?" ask the enthusiastic young people who often waylay pedestrians on Washington, D.C.'s Farragut Square. Knowing a bit about the organization, I normally answer, "Not even a second." But the rainbow warriors might soon be facing several years to think about their actions.

A nonprofit watchdog organization, Public Interest Watch, after investigating Greenpeace's finances, recently filed a complaint with the IRS alleging that Greenpeace has "illegally solicit[ed] millions of dollars in tax-deductible contributions." As those young activists might say, "Uncool!" (Iain Murray, TCS)

"Epidemic fear in MMR boycott" - "Doctor warns of measles outbreaks this winter" (The Guardian) | MMR is safe, says expert who helped make autism link (Independent)

"Global warming, a sweetener for region's wines?" - "Future of Bordeaux, though, may give it cause to blush, study says. Global warming has been good for the world's wine, a climate scientist has determined, but things could go sour for many established wineries if temperatures continue to climb. It could be disruptive for France and California, iffy for Washington, but great news for British Columbia wine growers. "Grapes are quite fickle," said lead researcher Gregory Jones of Southern Oregon University in Ashland. "They generally don't like change." Unfazed by the fact that his work has been rebuffed by such prestigious journals as Nature and Science, Jones will formally present his findings in Seattle next week at a Geological Society of America meeting. The geological conference has devoted a session to winemaking, mostly focused on the soil of vineyards." (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

"Sun is in frenzy since '40: scientists" - "HAMBURG: German scientists who have created a 1,000-year- record of sunspots said on Wednesday they discovered the Sun has been in a frenzy since 1940 and this may be a factor in global warming. The research, based on the quantities of the isotope beryllium 10 found in ice bores from Greenland and the Antarctic, challenges the belief that carbon dioxide from cars and coal fires and other greenhouse gases are the only cause of recent warmer climates. The team from the Max Planck Institute for Aeronomy in Germany and Finland's Oulu University discovered a past phase of elevated sunspot activity between 1100 and 1250, though there were far fewer sunspots then than today. The earth was very warm at that time and Vikings were recorded as farming on Greenland." (Hi Pakistan)

"2003 set to be hottest on record for France" - "2003 is likely to be the hottest year in France since record-keeping began 150 years ago, the deputy director of the national weather service, Meteo-France, said in a press conference here Wednesday. Unless the weather is exceptionally cold until the end of the year, the average temperature in 2003 would be "nearly half a degree (Celsius) "higher than the average from 1900-2002, the official, Philippe Courtier, said. The increase, which is extremely high in meterological terms, was caused by a heatwave in July and August which drove the mean summer temperatures to four C (7.2 F) higher than the 1900-2002 average. Meteo-France believes "exceptional" heatwaves of this kind will happen five times more frequently by the end of this century because of man-made global warming." (AFP) [Complete]

"Both sides pleased by defeat of global-warming bill" - "WASHINGTON -- The Senate rejected a plan yesterday to curb global warming, but supporters and opponents of the measure both said they were happy about the results of the chamber's first vote on the issue in more than six years." (Associated Press)

"Aussies 'could sue' for global warming" - "GOVERNMENTS and companies in Australia could be sued for causing global warming, a lawyer said today. A report published by international law firm Baker and McKenzie warns people were laying blame for global warming. "The reality is that those who are going to be most exposed are the companies who have publicly taken an anti-climate change line," lawyer and report contributor Martijn Wilder told ABC radio. "The main possible actions are a government suing a government or an environmental organisation suing a company. "Or alternatively, as we're now seeing in the US, for governments or individuals suing the regulatory authorities for failing to deal with green house emissions." (AAP) [Complete]

"Antarctic ice shelf is melting rapidly, scientists warn" - "A giant ice shelf the size of Scotland is melting rapidly in the Antarctic, scientists have warned today. Two sections of the Larsen ice shelf collapsed in 1995 and 2002. Now satellite measurements have confirmed that it has thinned by as much as 18 metres more than usual in the past decade, because of a warmer ocean." (The Guardian)

"In Initial Finding, F.D.A. Calls Cloned Animals Safe as Food" - "Milk and meat from cloned animals are safe to consume, the Food and Drug Administration has tentatively concluded, a finding that could eventually clear the way for such products to reach supermarket shelves and for cloning to be widely used to breed livestock. The agency's conclusions, which could face some opposition, are being released today in advance of a public meeting on the issue on Tuesday in Rockville, Md. Agency officials said that after receiving public comments, they hope by late next spring to outline their views on how, if at all, cloning would be regulated, including whether food from cloned animals should be labeled. But if the preliminary conclusion stands, labeling would not be needed and there would be little regulation, Dr. Stephen Sundlof, director of the agency's Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in an interview. "If we consider them materially the same as traditional foods, the role for the F.D.A. would be minimal," Dr. Sundlof said." (New York Times)

"Borlaug Discusses Future World Food Production At Seminar" - "COLLEGE STATION – Dr. Norman Borlaug doesn't settle for mediocrity and the proof is in his work ethic, his colleagues say. Recalling an instance when he came into work early one Saturday to prepare for a meeting, Dr. Mark Hussey, head of soil and crop sciences at Texas A&M University, said he had just settled into his chair and heard a door open. Out came Dr. Borlaug, who had worked all night on a project and was just leaving for breakfast. "He has that fire in the belly," Hussey said, recalling one professor's assessment of Borlaug's tireless efforts to solve world hunger. Borlaug, a distinguished professor of international agriculture at Texas A&M and the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize winner, shared his views on food production for the next three decades with students and faculty at Wednesday's departmental seminar." (AgNews)

"Plants that Will Save Lives and Eyes" - "Over a third of the world's population suffers anemia for lack of iron. Half are at risk for numerous diseases because they get too little zinc. A fourth receive so little vitamin A that they suffer incredible rates of blindness and death. But with help from a $25 million Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant, a new international consortium called HarvestPlus will combat these afflictions by encouraging production of fortified crops." (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

"Spain's GM controls attacked" - "Environmental groups in Spain have criticized the government for expanding the production of genetically modified (GM) crops without carefully controlling and monitoring their impact on the environment. Spain is currently the only country in the European Union that allows GM crops to be grown on a commercial scale. Also, Spain imports millions of tons of corn and soy from countries that grow large-scale GM crops." (The Scientist)

"BRAZIL : Environmentalists Win One on the GMO Front" - "RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct 30 Environmental activists in Brazil have won a battle, but the war on genetically modified organisms continues in this country, a world leader in production of soya, which is increasingly a transgenic crop." (IPS)

"[Switzerland] Controversial GM crop trial approved" - "Scientists have received permission from the government to begin an outdoor trial of genetically modified (GM) wheat." (Swissinfo)

"Varsity Don Wants Africa to Use Biotechnology" - "Africa should use biotechnology to avert food shortage, health and security problems, a university lecturer said yesterday. Prof E.M. Njoka, an agronomist, said the continent could improve crop production through improved seed quality. Prof Njoka was speaking at a symposium on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), at Egerton University, Njoro, where Vice-Chancellor Ezra Maritim was the chief guest. The workshop was aimed at giving an overview on the use of biotechnology in the reduction of poverty in the continent." (The Nation (Nairobi))

"Help Resolve Row On Genetically Modified Foods, Don Urges Scientists" - "Kenyan scientists have been asked to help resolve the controversy surrounding genetically modified (GM) foods. Egerton University Vice-Chancellor, Prof Ezra Maritim, told the experts to advise the Government on the benefits and dangers of using GM foods. Maritim said Africa had been caught up in a debate that was going on elsewhere, with very little input from local scientists. The continent, he said, was waiting for the truth on the "seemingly wonder crops" so as to make informed choices." (The East African Standard (Nairobi))

October 30, 2003

"European chemical safety proposals could cost jobs" - "The European Commission has approved an ambitious plan to register and test for health risks tens of thousands of chemicals used in everything from car paint to clothing. The proposal faces fierce opposition from the European chemicals industry, which is worth more than €60 billion a year and directly employs 1.2 million people. A number of EU governments, including Ireland's, have expressed concerns about the plan. The leaders of Germany, France and Britain have called for an analysis of its economic impact." (The Irish Times)

"EU dilutes its plans for deadly chemicals" - "The European commission was accused of putting business above human health and the environment yesterday after it succumbed to lobbying from Tony Blair and others and watered down proposals to test thousands of potentially hazardous chemicals found in everyday goods. Environmentalists said that the plans which were formally approved by the commission were a sop to the British prime minister, the US government and Europe's powerful chemical industry. All three had lobbied hard to scale back the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (Reach) system." (The Guardian)

"First, Do No Household Harm" - "The Senate is set to vote Thursday on a bill that would impose mandatory restrictions on emissions of greenhouse gases, affecting practically every business and consumer in the country.

While supporters claim that the climate-change legislation, S.139, introduced by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), has been toned down in response to concerns about its negative economic effects, a new study by Charles River Associates finds that the impact would still be dramatic -- a cost of between $350 and $1,300 per family per year through 2020.

At a minimum, the study found, "refined petroleum product prices would rise by 12 percent to 16 percent" even under the milder, amended McCain-Lieberman bill. Under the most optimistic assumptions, "the associated consumer costs are estimated to be $350 per household in 2010, rising to $530 per household by 2020."

Coming on top of separate new research that shows clearly that the 20th Century is not the warmest period on record, the Charles River study should discourage Senators concerned about the uncertain U.S. economic recovery from approving McCain-Lieberman -- which would raise energy costs, reduce consumer spending, and kill jobs." (James K. Glassman, TCS)

"[Editorial] Climate change in the Senate" - "The Arctic ice shelf is breaking up, the snows of Kilimanjaro are receding and even the thick layer of denial in the U.S. government may be melting. This week the Senate finally will take up serious legislation to control the greenhouse gases responsible for global warming." (The Oregonian)

"[Editorial] Courage against the 'consensus'" - "Today and tomorrow, the Senate is expected to spend six hours of floor time debating the Climate Stewardship Act, co-sponsored by Sens. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Joseph Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat. Considering its doubtful mitigation effects and certain economic costs, Congress would do well to spend nothing more than time on the legislation." (The Washington Times)

"Lieberman-McCain Bill a Hidden Tax on Consumers" - "The Senate is poised this week to debate a bill, S. 139, sponsored by Senators Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and John McCain (R-AZ) to enact the first-ever mandatory restrictions on emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. This proposal would create a mechanism similar to that called for by the Kyoto Protocol, increasing the price of energy and setting the stage for even more stringent limits in the future.

"The cap-and-trade approach to rationing energy use would be a hidden tax on all Americans," said Myron Ebell, Director of Global Warming Policy at CEI. "The Lieberman-McCain bill is pointless political grandstanding and a shameless con game. They assure us that the initial costs will be low, but hope that we won't notice how expensive it quickly becomes. The Kyoto Protocol was always a dead-end approach and now it's dead, and Senators Lieberman and McCain need to get over it and move on to some other fashionable big government cause." (Competitive Enterprise Institute)

"Broken Hockey Stick!" - "In a stunning scientific paper just published in Energy and Environment, the infamous `Hockey Stick' as developed by Mann, Bradley and Hughes in 1998 has been comprehensively discredited - using the same data sources and even methodology used by the Hockey Stick's original authors." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Melting ice at the world's rooftop stirs concern" - "Arctic ice cap is shrinking 10 percent per decade, raising worries about global warming." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Signs of radical change in Arctic ecosystem" - "Shrubs are appearing where before there were none; gray whales are venturing farther north; clams and their predators, diving sea ducks, are less plentiful. The ice is melting.

These disparate phenomena are signs of a radical change in the Arctic ecosystem. Moreover, changes in the Arctic mean changes everywhere else. That consensus is part of a broad discussion among 400 Arctic scientists meeting in Seattle this week as part of a new multimillion-dollar effort to study the far-reaching changes occurring in the far north." (Seattle Times)

"Polar bears' habitat threatened by thinning of Arctic sea ice" - "The only natural habitat of the polar bear is under increasing threat as a consequence of the dramatic thinning of the Arctic sea ice. The link between the thinning of the ice and rising temperatures has been discovered by scientists at UCL and the Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research." (University College London)

"Study: Climate Change Threatens U.S. Farms" - "Oct. 29, 2003 — The closest look yet at climate change in the United States predicts trouble for many U.S. farmers. A new study by a broad group of researchers breaks the geography of the United States into smaller pieces to see a finer scale of changes that would likely occur if carbon dioxide — a global warming gas — continues on its course toward doubling by the year 2060. The picture isn't entirely rosy. "We're finding that (the finer model) certainly made a bigger difference than expected," said Linda Mearns, lead investigator on the project at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. "Agriculture didn't do as well." (Discovery News)

"EU Effort to Fight Global Warming Hits Money Snag" - "The European Union's fight against global warming may be stalling as some governments back away from a promise under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change to give aid to poorer countries, EU diplomats said, reports The Wall Street Journal Europe.

More trouble for the Kyoto treaty is coming from the European Parliament, which is delaying the first reading of a bill designed to regulate emissions trading. The move puts at risk a 2005 deadline for implementing the legislation." (World Bank)

"Australia GM cotton yields dwarf conventional cotton" - "SYDNEY: Trials of genetically modified (GM) cotton crops in a remote Western Australia region are producing yields eight times that of conventional cotton, government researchers said yesterday. The government's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation was conducting the GM cotton trials at Kununurra in the Ord River region on the far northern tip of Western Australia state." (Reuters)

"GM crops safe from Greenpeace" - "Greenpeace says it has no plans to pull out genetically-modified crops, but it believes people around the world may feel they have to take things into their own hands. The moratorium on the release of GM organisms expired at midnight. Greenpeace spokesman Steve Abel says the organisation's plans at this stage are focused on preventing the crops being planted in the first place." (NZCity)

"[New Zealand] GM saboteurs could be terrorists" - "Several protest groups, which have vowed to pull up GM crops if they are planted outdoors, could face prosecution under tough new terrorism laws. Criminal lawyer Philip Morgan QC says anti-GM saboteurs could face charges under new terrorism legislation. Justice Minister spoke about the new terrorism bill when it was in Parliament. "Other offences include harbouring or concealing a person that intends to carry out a terrorist act or has already done so; threatening harm to persons or property, and falsely communicating information about danger to persons or property with the intent of disrupting commercial or government interests," Goff said. The penalties under the Counter Terrorism Act range from seven to 10 years in jail and a $500,000 fine." (ONE News)

October 29, 2003

"Cleaners' increased asthma risk" - "Cleaners are at an increased risk of developing asthma and other breathing problems, a study has found. Researchers in Spain say domestic cleaners are at an increased risk because of the chemicals to which they are exposed. Writing in the journal Thorax, they said cleaners had twice the risk of women in other jobs." (BBC News Online)

And how did they determine this association? (we all ask in chorus) Wait for it:

Women were asked if they had experienced any respiratory symptoms and if they had been diagnosed or treated for asthma in the previous year.

They were also asked if they had ever been paid to clean somebody else's home.

Presumably, if you do clean somebody else's home but are not paid you'll be perfectly safe.

"Researchers question key global-warming study" - "An important new paper in the journal Energy & Environment upsets a key scientific claim about climate change. If it withstands scrutiny, the collective scientific understanding of recent global warming might need an overhaul." (Nick Schulz, USA Today)

"The man who mistook his bathtub for a hockey stick" - "Well, well! The pontiff of eco-theology, who has been choreographing the assault on infidels who doubt the true religion of global warming, has himself come under examination. He has been weighed in the balance and found wanting. A new paper by McIntyre and McKitrick of Ontario has probed into the inner recesses of the data that gave rise to the notorious hockey stick. What they found, in a masterly essay in academic understatement, is a considerable can of worms. Amid all the omissions, substitutions and amendments, however, there is one act of subreption that is so stark that it has all the appearances of downright fraud. Mann et al simply censored the data at the beginning of the series, which belong to the mediaeval warm period. Reintroducing them gives the lie to the claim, so forcefully prosecuted by the IPCC, that the past decade was the warmest in history." (Number Watch)

Read on beyond the above Number Watch piece to see where Europe's chemophobia is leading them. For those unable to see The Times' piece (subscription outside UK), this BBC item should fill in the gaps.

"Swedish Chemistry Lessons" - "STOCKHOLM -- The recent conference "Understanding chemicals control policies: an international perspective" held here highlighted the stark differences in how the US and the EU apply the "precautionary principle" -- especially when it comes to Europe's controversial new chemicals directive, REACH.

It's no accident that the conference was held in Stockholm, particularly since the EU's environment commissioner, Sweden's Margot Wallström, has been instrumental in drafting the Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals legislation. While the final version of that much-criticized directive is being toned down (by placing it under the jurisdiction of member states' ministries for industry rather than for the environment, and by giving more consideration to maintaining the competitiveness for European industry), it still is a matter of much concern, and not just to European businesses in the chemicals sector." (Waldemar Ingdahl, TCS)

"[UK] Government to champion environment at EU" - "LONDON - Britain will take the vanguard in tackling greenhouse gas emissions and promoting sustainable development which is crucial to world peace, Environment Minister Margaret Beckett says. She said Britain would use its presidencies in 2005 of the European Union and the Group of Eight industrialised nations as the platform for its big push on the environment. "First and foremost, our priority must be international action on tackling climate change," she told the 500 delegates at the Environment 2003 meeting in west London." (Reuters)

"Will Be Grim in 2020, Beckett Predicts" - "A grim picture of life in 2020 was being exposed today as the Government outlined the challenges ahead in the battle to curb climate change and reduce worldwide poverty and degradation." (PA News)

See also: Grim picture painted for 2020 (BBC News Online) - ends with a great quote!

"Threat of pests overrunning UK" - "National Audit Office warns that changing climate, trade and travel bring danger from exotic plant diseases and insects." (The Guardian)

"The Warming Is Global but the Legislating, in the U.S., Is All Local" - "WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 — Motivated by environmental and economic concerns, states have become the driving force in efforts to combat global warming even as mandatory programs on the federal level have largely stalled. At least half of the states are addressing global warming, whether through legislation, lawsuits against the Bush administration or programs initiated by governors. In the last three years, state legislatures have passed at least 29 bills, usually with bipartisan support. The most contentious is California's 2002 law to set strict limits for new cars on emissions of carbon dioxide, the gas that scientists say has the greatest role in global warming." (New York Times)

"Greens' blues over Bush off key" - "The Bush administration certainly doesn't need defending by one frequently frustrated at its tortoise-like pace in restoring balance and common sense to the nation's environmental and natural resource policies. Yet the coordinated and unrelenting attacks on President Bush's programs by hardcore environmental organizations this early in the 2004 presidential campaign suggests that Bush's "people-friendly" environmental agenda is causing them chronic heartburn." (M. David Stirling, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

"Polar winds are spinning faster; scientists would like to know why" - "Above the North Pole is a massive maelstrom of air, a "polar vortex," that University of Washington scientists have shown is speeding up and may explain some of the dramatic changes now being observed in the Arctic environment. "This is possibly also related to global climate change," said UW Arctic scientist James Morison. But then again, Morison noted, the increased rate of spin observed in this atmospheric whirlpool may also just be due to its natural cycle of variation." (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"The Role of Models in the CO 2 Emissions Reduction Debate" - "Mathematical computer-driven models of climate change and their predictions of catastrophic global warming have become the primary justification for laws and regulations designed to totally restructure the way the world does business and people live their lives, striking at the heart of individual and national liberties the world over.  They are, however, woefully inadequate to do what their creators and political cohorts desire the populace of the planet to believe they can do, but both groups refuse to acknowledge that obvious fact." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Sea Level (The Role of Greenland)" - "Is there any evidence that CO 2 -induced increases in temperature will result in the melting of enough Greenland ice to significantly impact global sea level?" (co2science.org)

"Decomposition (Woody Plants: Deciduous Trees)" - "How does the ongoing rise in the air's CO 2 content affect the decomposition rate of litter produced by deciduous trees?  And how does the result impact the theory of CO 2 -induced global warming?" (co2science.org)

Plant Growth Data:
"This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Barley, Garden Bean, Red Oat, Spring Wheat and Timothy." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"Trends in Arctic and Antarctic Sea Ice Extent" - "How are they progressing?  And what can they tell us about what climate alarmists call the unprecedented global warming of the latter part of the 20th century?" (co2science.org)

"Climate and Landslides in the Swiss Alps" - "Does more debris come tumbling down the slopes in cold wet periods or warm dry periods?  And what about natural history?  Does it repeat itself like human history?" (co2science.org)

"Ticked Off by Rising Temperatures" - "Certain species of ticks that serve as vectors of livestock pathogens in South Africa can't seem to take the heat of global warming.  What?  Can something good actually come of rising temperatures?" (co2science.org)

"Response of a Nutrient-Poor Low-Productivity Calcareous Grassland to Atmospheric CO 2 Enrichment" - "Can rising atmospheric CO 2 concentrations do anything good for grasslands that are low in soil nutrients, or do the negative implications of that strongly-limiting factor preclude a positive response?" (co2science.org)

"CO 2 Effects on Condensed Tannins in Leaves of Three Deciduous Tree Species" - "What are they?  And why do we care?" (co2science.org)

Carbon Sequestration Commentary:
"Demise of Earth's Tropical Forest Carbon Sink Greatly Exaggerated" - "In a recent paper in Nature, Phillips et al. (2002) suggest that increases in the air's CO 2 content are stimulating the growth of vines in Amazonian forests.  We can accept that.  However, we cannot accept their claim that this phenomenon is detrimental to trees and, therefore, that "the tropical terrestrial carbon sink may shut down sooner than current models suggest." (co2science.org)

"Russia To Ratify Kyoto Protocol End-2004 - Kyodo" - "TOKYO--Russia hopes to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on global warming toward the end of next year, a senior Russian government official said, Kyodo News reported Tuesday.

Speaking to selected Japanese journalists, the official said the timetable is realistic as Russia's ratification of an international treaty normally takes seven to eight months after the government decision and the state Duma election and the presidential election are scheduled for December and March next year, respectively.

Russia's ratification of the 1997 global pact is considered crucial because the Kyoto protocol will enter into force 90 days after it is ratified by 55 nations representing 55% of industrialized countries' carbon dioxide emissions in 1990." (Dow Jones) [Complete]

"UK natural gas futures jump 30% in 12 days" - "UK natural gas prices touched record highs on Tuesday on concerns of low storage levels combined with increased demand due to the cold weather. Gas futures have jumped 30 per cent in the past 12 days. The surge in prices comes at a time when energy prices have staged a dramatic ascent with electricity futures up 40 per cent, coal has doubled in recent months, as has the cost of shipping coal. "The whole energy complex has risen strongly, and shows no signs of falling," said one London-based gas trader. "If this rise continues it will have consequences elsewhere in the economy," he said." (Financial Times)

"ISU Institute will Evaluate Genetically Modified Organisms" - "Iowa State University will create the Biosafety Institute for Genetically Modified Agricultural Products to provide independent, science-based and third-party evaluations of genetically modified ag products. Specific focus will be on the risks and benefits to consumers and the environment, according to Manjit Misra, director of BIGMAP. Misra compared the new institute to the Underwriters Laboratories, which was established to restore public confidence in electrical safety when that energy source was in its infancy. BIGMAP will include social, economic and environmental issues of genetically modified products." (Iowa State University)

Mike's still at it: "Beckett accused of 'sweeping GM issue under the carpet'" - "Margaret Beckett, the Environment Secretary, has been accused by one of her colleagues of sweeping the issue of GM crops "under the carpet" after she failed to mention it in an important speech on the Government's environmental priorities yesterday.

Michael Meacher, the former environment minister, said he was surprised GM crops had not featured in the speech. He said: "GM is one of the biggest environmental issues facing our country and it needs to rank high on the Government's environmental agenda. The decision whether to go ahead with GM crops is a top-level environmental priority."

He added: "GM is a very important issue and must not be swept under the carpet." (Independent)

"New Zealand split as GM freeze expires" - "New Zealand's debate over Genetic Modification (GM) has returned to centre stage as a moratorium on releasing GM organisms into the environment expires. The New Zealand Government has said the moratorium's ending on Thursday would not mean a rash of GM releases. But in a nation dependent on agriculture and simultaneously proud of its green credentials, opposition is not fading away. Some protesters have gone to dramatic lengths to make their point." (BBC News Online)

"GM plants thoroughly tested" - "A scientist at Crop and Food Research says more is known about the possible environmental impact of genetically modified plants, than some other plants already being used in agriculture. The lifting of the moratorium on GM field trials at midnight on Wednesday night will allow Tony Conner to apply to the Environmental Risk Management Authority for permission to field test modified potato plants. Conner says the potential risks of trialing modified plants in the field have been exaggerated unnecessarily." (ONE News)

"[China] Nation steps up efforts to ensure biosafety" - "BEIJING, Oct. 28 -- China is taking a series of measures, including drafting laws and regulations, to ensure biosafety amid growing use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) technology in the country. "The State Environment Protection Administration (SEPA) is working with relevant ministries to draft the Law on Biosafety," said Wang Dehui, deputy-director of SEPA's Natural Resources Department at an international workshop on China's biosafety, which opened here Tuesday. He said the Chinese government placed great importance on the development of modern biotechnology while keeping a wary eye on possible risks that may result from the technology. Over the past 10 years, modern biotechnology has developed rapidly in China. One of the most visible and successful achievements is the development and commercial application of transgenic insect-resistant cotton." (Xinhuanet)

October 28, 2003

Gasp! Egad! "Toxic shocker" - "Whoever you are, wherever you live, chances are your body is a chemical dump. The Guardian's environment editor knows this for a fact - in a pioneering study, his blood was tested for pollutants, and the results were alarming" (John Vidal, The Guardian)

Woohoo! Previously undetectable nano-traces of chemical compounds are now detectable! A four-alarm fire at least, eh John?

"The myth of media watchdogs" - "Mainstream journalists and their publications themselves often suffer from the ethical lapses they so condemn in others when it comes to the truth, government, and large corporations, says William Anderson." (EthicalCorp.com)

"TCS Newsflash: Important Global Warming Study Audited -- Numerous Errors Found; New Research Reveals the UN IPCC 'Hockey Stick' Theory of Climate Change is Flawed" - "WASHINGTON--Oct. 27, 2003--Canadian business executive Stephen McIntyre and economist Ross McKitrick have presented more evidence that the 20th century wasn't the warmest on record. In their article for the journal "Energy and the Environment," McIntyre and McKitrick cited numerous errors in data used in Mann, et al. (1998), a temperature record that has been frequently cited by global warming alarmists.

Previously, Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1998) constructed a temperature history of the Northern Hemisphere for the period 1400-1980. The result was the well-known "hockey stick"-shaped graph suggesting that the 20th century was unusually warm when comparing it to preceding centuries. This graph has been widely cited by global warming alarmists and advocates of global warming legislation introduced by Sens. McCain and Lieberman (S. 139) now being debated in Congress.

"The particular 'hockey stick' shape derived in the Mann, et al. proxy construction -- a temperature index that decreases slightly between the early 15th century and early 20th century and then increases dramatically up to 1980 -- is primarily an artifact of poor data handling, obsolete data and incorrect calculation of principal components," stated the report." (BUSINESS WIRE) [For an overview of the study and link to the journal Web site, go to http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/trc.html]

"Russia needs the Kyoto treaty" - "TOKYO For the 1997 Kyoto treaty on global warming to come into effect, Russia's participation is crucial. So opponents of the Kyoto accord are jubilant over Russia's unexpected reluctance to ratify the treaty.

Their rejoicing is premature, however. It is still probable that Moscow will eventually join the treaty. But in the meantime the fate of this key agreement is hostage to the vagaries of Russian politics.

It was long assumed that Russian approval was a foregone conclusion, since Russia would be able to earn billions of dollars by selling to Western countries its unused capacity to emit greenhouse gases. But in recent months vocal opposition to Kyoto has risen in Moscow, spearheaded by Andrei Illarionov, President Vladimir Putin's contrarian economic adviser.

Illarionov argues that with the United States rejecting the treaty, there will be no buyers for Russia's "hot air," and that the exemption of India and China from the treaty gives their manufacturers an unfair edge. Moreover, ratification would be a snub to Putin's "good friend" President George W. Bush." (Alexey Kokorin and Peter Rutland, IHT)

"Twelve States Sue U.S. Over Utility Pollution" - "WASHINGTON - Twelve U.S. states and the District of Columbia sued the Bush administration on Monday to block Clean Air Act changes for coal-fired utility companies that the states say will weaken air pollution standards and harm public health." (Reuters)

"False Food Scare Liability Questions Surface" - "The major question to arise from the weekend’s false food scare in New Zealand is; who will bear the liability for the damage done to Yarrow’s and Subway’s businesses, the Chairman of the Life Sciences Network, Dr William Rolleston asked today.

“Those opposed to GM have seized on this issue to try to create some political capital leading up to the expiry of the moratorium. They have done everything they can to make sure the news media has run with the story, despite the fact there is no GE content in the dough and that the enzyme produced from a process using a genetically modified bacterial source has been pronounced safe by the regulatory and health authorities in many countries. In doing so they have tried to taint the Yarrow’s and Subway’s businesses in New Zealand by implication.

“Greenpeace has used this same tactic against Inghams, Tegel, McDonald’s, Fonterra and others. On the face of it their activities are very close to economic sabotage. Who’s going to be next?" (Press Release: New Zealand Life Sciences Network)

"GMOs with a kick" - "28/10/03 - Can the trend for foods with added health benefits turn the tide of consumer cynicism towards genetically modified foodstuffs? US researchers hypothesise that shoppers might just pay a premium for GMOs if they are told of the potential health benefits they may receive from eating those foods." (FoodNavigator.com)

"Brazil battle over biotech soy threatens top export" - "SAO PAULO, Brazil - Brazil's uncertainty on how to regulate genetically modified soy could put at risk a vibrant source of growth and trade revenues for the recession-beset economy, analysts said on Monday. As the federal government bickers over a long-awaited draft bill on biotechnology, the populist anti-GM governor of No. 2 soybean growing state Parana, Roberto Requiao, has effectively shut off Brazil's main soy port by declaring Parana GM-free. "The potential for loss under Parana's policy is enormous and the port may be greatly hurt," said grains analyst Flavio Franca Jr. of Safras e Mercado. "Most importantly though, this is going to be a problem for the entire country." (Reuters)

"[Ghana] GM Foods threaten food security and sovereignty - Action Aid" - "Accra, 27, Oct., GNA - The various aspects of modern biotechnology such as genetic engineering to genetically modify organic foods (GMO) affect the direction of food sovereignty, self-sufficiency and security, Ms. Anna Antwi, a delegate from Action Aid, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) said in Accra on Monday.

She said, " it is claimed that Genetically Modified Technologies will increase food production, reduce environmental degradation, provide more nutritious foods and promote sustainable agriculture and food security; however, research conducted on the viability of this position has shown otherwise.

"Research on the viability of GMO showed that, " poor farmers using GM seeds are not able to pay royalties, meet the cost of high inputs needed for use with those seeds and incur high indebtedness in the process.

"This causes reduction in anticipated yield, which in turn will put food security and sovereignty under threat." (GhanaHomePage)

"[Zimbabwe] Educate people on biotech — Muchena" - "Developing countries should not be used as dumping grounds for exhausted and irrelevant technologies and products, the Minister of State for Science and Technology, Dr Olivia Muchena, said yesterday. She said scientific and agricultural endeavours had always posed serious challenges to governments of developing countries. The minister said this when she officially opened a biotechnology workshop whose theme is "Can Biotechnology Benefit Developing Countries" in Harare. She said developing countries lagged behind in development of policy and scientific research. "Given that scenario, this workshop should look at the strategies required for developing countries to benefit from biotechnology." (The Herald)

"EU Delivers Biotech Setback, Delays New GMO Seed Rules" - "BRUSSELS--In a setback for agriculture biotech, the European Union Monday delayed until next spring voting on limits on the amount of genetically modified organisms in cereal and vegetable seeds. When regular seeds are produced, some GMOs accidentally get mixed in through cross pollination. European organic farmers feared their products would be contaminated. In order to protect them, the E.U.'s executive body proposed labeling the seeds if they contained between 0.3% to 0.7% GMOs, depending on the crop. But the biotech industry felt this low level was too restrictive. Green groups felt it was too generous. And without a consensus, the E.U. found itself deadlocked." (Dow Jones)

"Monsanto oil to cut the trans fat content" - "28/10/03 - Commercially savvy and biotech rich company Monsanto is waging a war on the waist, with impeccable timing. Following hot on the heels of new FDA rules requiring food manufacturers to imminently reveal the amount of trans-fat on food labels, the US kings of the gene-pickings will develop soybeans capable of producing oil containing less trans- and saturated fats." (FoodNavigator.com)

"Government subsidy cuts costs for GM applicants" - "The Government is using $2 million of taxpayers' money to subsidise the approval of genetically modified and hazardous substance projects. Speaking before the lifting of the GM moratorium tomorrow, Sustainability Council executive director Simon Terry said the subsidies completed a "cradle to the grave" state assistance programme for GM development. Laws passed this month meant developers were free of liability if things went wrong, as long as they abided by Environmental Risk Management Authority conditions, he said." (New Zealand Herald)

October 27, 2003

"The planet's polluters should be put in the dock" - "Only a world environment court can curb capitalism's excesses (Michael Meacher, The Guardian) [Michael Meacher was UK environment minister from 1997-2003]

Misanthropic Greens first, Mike, because courts are for people.

"Cutting Greenhouse Gases, or Not" - "In the international debate over how to deal with global warming, the United States and China occupy center stage. The United States has long been the dominant producer of carbon dioxide emissions and the other heat-trapping greenhouse gases associated with rising temperatures. China still lags far behind in total emissions, but its vast population and rapid rate of economic growth put it high on experts' lists of future sources of the warming gases. India is not too far behind. China is rapidly increasing its consumption of coal and oil to fuel an ever more electrified and mobile society. India is experiencing a similar energy surge for similar reasons, and like China, it hopes rapid growth will help to reduce widespread poverty. But if the United States, China and India are critical to meeting the threat of greenhouse gases, the question is: who goes first?" (New York Times)

"Carbon 'sinks' in doubt" - "Forests may not soak up as much, research shows Canada's Kyoto plan could be affected.

OTTAWA—Striking findings are emerging from research at the world's largest open-air climate-change experiment that will prove troubling to Canada's policy-makers and challenging for scientists.

The results strongly suggest that Canada's forests won't be able to soak up anywhere near as much excess carbon dioxide as the federal Kyoto action plan assumes.

Because higher carbon dioxide levels make plants grow faster, Ottawa was counting on our forests to soften the impact of greenhouse warming by taking in more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it for decades in the soil as organic matter and other forms of carbon.

By 2008, roughly one-sixth of Canada's Kyoto target reduction in carbon dioxide emissions annually is supposed to come from these forest and farmland "sinks." Federal officials have never made public the detailed studies to support that estimate.

Now, research warns that the projected carbon storage by our forests could be cut in half because of interference from ground-level ozone, a leaf-scorching gas that also comes from burning fossil fuels. And the forests could become a net source of carbon dioxide years sooner than projected." (Toronto Star)

"Same Old Arctic `Warming'" - "A new guest article by Willis Eschenbach reveals some major contradictions in the latest media stories about `recent Arctic Warming'. What is clear is that the Arctic was actually warmer during the 1930s - before satellites were around to record every fine detail. It is also shown that the temperature numbers being quoted are quite inconsistent with each other and that the old technique of making a tiny warming look alarming in graphics is alive and well." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Edward Wolf: Climate change impacts Oregon agriculture and Health" - "News bulletins of extreme weather events around the world tell the same story: The climate system is behaving in ways never seen since societies began keeping weather records." (The Oregonian)

"James Doane: Bill on climate stewardship could help the region's water supplies" - "A s a recently retired water system engineer and current Tualatin Valley Water District elected commissioner, I am concerned about the impact increasing levels of global warming pollution (greenhouse gases) will have on Portland-area water supply and demand." (The Oregonian)

"[Editorial] Testing the Senate's Mettle" - "There is a good test of senatorial courage coming this week. For the first time, senators will be asked whether they are prepared to do something serious about global warming. The question comes in the form of a bill by John McCain and Joseph Lieberman that would impose mandatory caps on industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases thought to be heavily responsible for warming the earth's atmosphere. The bill is a long shot. But it will provide the first true test of the sincerity of senators who say they care about the problem and have faulted President Bush for not doing enough." (New York Times)

"Posturing and Reality on Warming" - "For the first time, the Senate is about to vote on whether to restrict national emissions of carbon dioxide -- the respiration of our civilization and our economy -- in an attempt to control the world's uncontrollable climate. This legislation has absolutely no basis in science." (Patrick J. Michaels, Cato Institute)

"Bad Mileage: 98 tons of plants per gallon" - "A staggering 98 tons of prehistoric, buried plant material – that's 196,000 pounds – is required to produce each gallon of gasoline we burn in our cars, SUVs, trucks and other vehicles, according to a study conducted at the University of Utah." (University of Utah)

"The Organic Hoax" (PDF) - "Organic agriculture is being promoted as being healthier than conventional food production. There are many different production systems described as organic, but the central belief is that avoiding the use of artificial chemicals will produce healthier food and have less or no negative impacts on the environment. However, these claims are not backed up by facts." (Dr. Terrence Fullerton, Agro Services International)

"Consumers value genetically modified foods that directly benefit them" - "Consumers may be willing to pay a premium for certain genetically modified foods if they are told of the potential health benefits they may receive from eating those foods, according to a recent Purdue University study. The findings also indicated that a marketing survey method called "cheap talk" can be used in mail surveys to yield more accurate results." (Purdue University)

"Muesli bar quiz stumps researcher" - "Two-thirds of Aucklanders say they are willing to pay a premium for a genetically modified muesli bar that would be less likely to upset people with allergies.

Only four days before New Zealand is due to lift its two-year moratorium on releasing genetically modified organisms from containment, an "auction" staged by Crown research institute HortResearch suggests that some people may accept genetic modification in some cases.

The institute found that New Zealanders were willing to pay between 5c and $1 to exchange two genetically modified muesli bars for two ordinary ones.

But the study author, HortResearch consumer scientist Joanna Gamble, is unsure what to make of the results because people were also willing to pay the same prices to get rid of two GM muesli bars and get back two ordinary ones.

"What we make of it is that the procedure needs further development," she said." (New Zealand Herald)

Actually, it probably means that people are responding to the subconscious message that whichever items they do not have are more valuable since they are being asked to exchange their items plus an additional sum in order to effect a trade. Effectively, it demonstrates that the items' genetically modified status is irrelevant.

"GM blood 'could beat cancer'" - "Genetically modifying a patient's own blood could help them beat cancer, according to scientists in Australia. Their technique involves removing millions of white blood cells from the patient and boosting them with cancer-fighting genes. These genetically-altered cells are then injected back into the patient to identify and destroy cancer tumours. The technique has been tested effectively in mice and could be trialled in humans in just two years." (BBC News Online)

"GM: food for thought" - "New studies intensify the debate over whether genetically modified crops mean danger or dollars, writes Stephen Cauchi.

Call it a tale of two reports. This week, from Australia and Britain, came two landmark studies on that most polarising of issues: genetically modified crops.

For two countries taking their first, tentative steps into commercial GM food farming, neither report provided comfort.

The British report, from the largest-ever field trials, found GM crops would harm wildlife and further soured the hostile anti-GM mood in Europe. "Virtually every bullet in the (GM) industry's gun has been shown to be a dud," wrote the editor of Ecologist magazine, Zac Goldsmith, in The Observer. "Not by the green lobby, but by the research of a pro-GM government."

Contrast that with the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) study. It tipped falls in economic output for Australia, New Zealand and Europe if they continued to grow conventional crops, and a billion-dollar boom for developing countries that took up GM farming. "Biotechnology in crop production has the potential to generate substantial gains in global welfare," says the executive director of ABARE, Dr Brian Fisher. "But conservative attitudes resulting in bans on production and trade in GM products could erode those gains." (The Age, Melbourne)

"The science of all things Maori" - "Many Maori object to GE - but the opposition is far from black and white, reports Phillippa Jamieson.

"What happens when you transplant a Pakeha heart into a Maori?" asks writer and academic Ranginui Walker. Does it defile whakapapa? Does it disturb mauri, the life force? Maybe so. And yet Maori are having transplants.

Despite widespread Maori opposition to genetic engineering, Walker suggests that, over time, at least some uses of it may become more acceptable to Maori - just as transplants have.

Already, many are using GE technology every day, but may not realise it. Says associate professor Michael Walker, an Auckland University zoologist: "Where there is clear, demonstrable benefit, Maori will accept genetic recombinant technology, and in fact can't get away from it because many have diabetic family members dependent on insulin produced from genetically modified organisms." (Sunday Star-Times)

"A stride to biotechnology: Bangladesh included in USAID-funded consortium" - "Bangladesh has taken a step towards biotechnology -- with the lure of crops enriched with vitamins or resistant to certain pests -- by the country's inclusion in a consortium funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Enthusiastic officials say that recently developed "Golden Rice" enriched with vitamin A, and new varieties of rice, eggplant and potatoes resistant to major pests are already in their sights.

Next in line for possible development, according to Dr R H Sarker, a professor of botany at Dhaka University, are "salt-tolerant rice, fungus-resistant jute, virus-resistant papaya and tomato, and hybrid mustard." (The Daily Star)

"Blair will ignore public opposition to GM technology" - "Tony Blair has signalled that he is ready to ignore the public campaign against GM crops and to proceed with the technology. In language reminiscent of his pronouncements in the run-up to the Iraq war he said that his only interest was in trying "to do the right thing." (Independent)

"European Supermarkets Wary About Carrying GMO Foods" - "BRUSSELS - Supermarkets in Europe, wary of annoying their customers, are reluctant to stock up their shelves with genetically modified foods even though the European Union may lift its ban on most biotech crops, industry representatives say." (Reuters)

"[Japan] Chain pulls sandwiches with GMOs" - "Subway Japan Inc., the Japanese affiliate of the major U.S. sandwich chain Subway Restaurants, has stopped selling sandwiches after its import dealer learned that the bread dough contains an enzyme derived from unauthorized genetically modified microorganisms. Subway reported the findings to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and stopped selling sandwiches on Friday, Tokyo government officials said." (Japan Times) | [See also] GE enzyme found in NZ bread dough used in Japan (New Zealand Herald)

"[New Zealand] Govt baffled by GE scare, questions timing of revelation" - "The Government says it is mystified by a genetic engineering (GE) scare involving New Zealand-made bread dough which has erupted in Japan. Biosecurity Minister Marian Hobbs said officials were scrambling to discover the exact nature of the problem – which centres around an enzyme in bread dough supplied by Taranaki firm Yarrows to Japanese Subway restaurants. She also questioned the timing of the issue becoming public in New Zealand – on Wednesday the Government lifts a moratorium on (GE) material which will allow people to apply for permission to use GE material outside a laboratory. "If New Zealand – who is not a major producer of anything GM (genetically modified) except what it imports and then re-exports – is getting such publicity in Japan. . . that doesn't adjust against huge exports from Canada and the United States of genetically modified products into Japan," Ms Hobbs said. "I am beginning to smell something. . .that this is something that is set up from New Zealand causing a stir – I am aware for instance that Greenpeace rang newsrooms around New Zealand to check they had found out the story." When asked if she was questioning the timing of the story Ms Hobbs replied: "You bet I am." (The Daily News)

"Science ready for GMO change" - "The Royal Society of New Zealand is as ready as it can be for the removal of the moratorium on the release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the Royal Society of New Zealand says.

The Royal Society is the country's leading independent science advocacy body.

Chief executive Steve Thompson said yesterday that the society saw no scientific need for the moratorium to continue, given the requirement for the Environmental Risk Management Authority (Erma) to vet releases case by case." (The Press)

October 24, 2003

"Hit and Run Pesticide News" - "The New York Times reported this week that 'apples, peppers, celery and cherries top a list compiled by an environmental research organization of the 12 fruits and vegetables it considers the most contaminated by pesticides.'

The brief 201-word article is an excellent example of hit-and-run reporting designed to scare rather than inform readers." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"15 million Ethiopians at risk of contracting malaria this year, UN says" - "22 October – As many as 15 million Ethiopians face the threat of dying from malaria before the end of this year, prompting a call today by United Nations relief agencies for urgent funding to avoid a major humanitarian disaster." (UN News)

meanwhile: "U.N. Protocol Banning DDT, Other Pollutants Enters Into Force" - "A U.N. protocol on organic pollutants comes into effect today with the purpose of eliminating emissions from 16 pesticides, industrial chemicals and other contaminants." (UN Wire)

Should read 'Daft chemicals law...':  "Draft chemicals law 'strikes the right balance'" - "The acrimonious debate on enforcing stricter testing and registration rules for European chemicals has left the planned legislation more balanced and workable, according to Margot Wallström, the European environment commissioner.

The draft law is expected to be endorsed next week by the European Commission. Chemicals companies, backed by the leaders of France, Germany and the UK, have argued that more red tape could cripple industry and lead to mass job losses. The proposal was recently amended, leading to complaints from environmental groups that the Commission was bowing to business pressure and watering down the legislation.

"Everybody is unhappy - industry and environmental groups - which may be means that we have reached the right balance," Ms Wallström said in an interview. "The basic elements [of the legislation] are sound, the scope is the same and even improved, and I think we have made it a more practical system." (Financial Times)

"U.S. Outlines Steps to Study Animal Antibiotic Risk" - "WASHINGTON - Worried about the threat from drug-resistant infections, U.S. officials on Thursday outlined ways for makers of animal drugs to evaluate whether use of new antibiotics in livestock will harm people. The Food and Drug Administration, in final guidelines to the industry, said it wants companies to provide that information as part of their applications for approval to sell antibiotics for food-producing animals like cows and chickens." (Reuters)

"International conference on the public's perception of risk" - "The European Commission is organising a major international conference entitled 'risk perception: science, public debate and policy making', to take place on 4 and 5 December in Brussels.

The event will explore how the public's perceptions of risk are formed, and what effect this has in a complex democracy such as the European Union. Questions to be tackled include:
- What roles should scientists and politicians play in communicating risk to the general public?
- Can policy making based on scientific risk assessment be made more open, more understandable and more inclusive?
- How should communication and debate at national, EU and international level interact?
- How should science, industry, government and civil society interact in public debates about risk?

The conference will incorporate a stakeholder forum on risk perception in relation to genetically modified crops and food.

For further information, please consult the following web address: http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/risk_perception/" (Cordis News)

Uh-huh... "Road to ruin" - "America produces a quarter of the world's carbon dioxide emissions, the population has risen by 100 million since 1970 and when an area three times the size of Britain was recently opened up for mining, drilling, logging and road building, no one took much notice. What does the Bush administration do? It ignores all attempts to curb environmental damage. In a major investigation that took him from the Salton Sea in California to Crooked Creek in Florida, Matthew Engel reports on how America is ravaging the planet." (The Guardian)

"Columbia research sheds light on inter-ocean and ocean-atmosphere dynamics" - "Scientists at Columbia University have found that currents connecting the Indian and Pacific Oceans are colder and deeper than originally believed. This discovery may one day help climate modelers predict the intensity of the Asian monsoon or El Nino with great accuracy and with more lead-time than is currently possible." (The Earth Institute at Columbia University)

"New evidence of global warming in Earth's past supports greenhouse climate theory" - "Scientists have filled in a key piece of the global climate picture for a period 55 million years ago that is considered one of the most abrupt and extreme episodes of global warming in Earth's history. The new results from an analysis of sediment cores from the ocean floor are consistent with theoretical predictions of how Earth's climate would respond to rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere." (University of California - Santa Cruz)

"Rapid Arctic warming over past 20 years has scientists puzzled" - "CALGARY -- Satellite images show that the Arctic has been warming eight times faster in the past 20 years than in the past 100, according to U.S. researchers who said yesterday this rapid climate change is a worrying trend -- but they still don't know why it's happening.

Using satellite images to measure ground temperatures between 1981 and 2001, NASA scientist Josefino Comiso discovered that the temperature over Arctic sea ice rose on average by 1.22C per decade during Arctic summers.

The biggest temperature increases are occurring over North America, but he also found that the temperature over Greenland is cooling." (Globe and Mail)

"Recent warming of Arctic may affect worldwide climate" - "Recently observed change in Arctic temperatures and sea ice cover may be a harbinger of global climate changes to come, according to a recent NASA study. Satellite data -- the unique view from space -- are allowing researchers to more clearly see Arctic changes and develop an improved understanding of the possible effect on climate worldwide." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office)

"UK Joins Global Warming Challenge to US and Russia" - "Britain today joined forces with France and Germany to issue a challenge to the US and Russia over global warming. Environment ministers of the EU’s “big three” nations – including the UK’s Margaret Beckett – issued a joint declaration stating that climate change was a “real problem” which had been convincingly shown to result from human activities and urging other nations to back the Kyoto Protocol. They painted a nightmare picture of increasingly frequent droughts and floods if urgent action was not taken to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases." (PA News)

"FEATURE-Global warming, the quadrillion dollar question" - "MOSCOW, Oct 24 - With solutions costing up to a mind-numbing $18,000,000,000,000,000, it is among the most expensive questions in history -- "How do you stop people from causing dangerous global warming?" (Reuters)

"States Sue Federal Gov't Over Greenhouse Gases" - "LOS ANGELES - Twelve states, including California and New York, filed petitions on Thursday in federal court in a bid to force the Bush administration to regulate emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Several separate petitions were filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. asking it to review a decision by the federal Environmental Protection Agency that said it did not have the authority to regulate such emissions under the Clear Air Act." (Reuters)

"Buried losses: The journey from plant to coal wastes a lot of energy" - "ROMANTICS in the coal-mining industry (or, at least, their public-relations flacks) sometimes refer to the black rock that powered the industrial revolution as “buried sunshine”. As far as the energy in it is concerned, that is precisely true. It is all the result of photosynthesis. But, perhaps surprisingly, just how much photosynthesis it results from has never been the subject of enquiry.

That has now changed. Jeffrey Dukes, of the University of Massachusetts, in Boston, has attempted to do the sums and work out how much photosynthetic effort lies behind the useful energy that people are able to extract from coal, oil and natural gas—fossil fuels that ultimately derive from the bodies of long-deceased organisms." (The Economist)

"United Nations Day of Shame" - "UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan recently declared that the global pursuit of scientific endeavors is marked by inequality. Noting that developing countries invest much less on scientific research and produce fewer scientists, Annan warned that the resulting imbalance in the geographic distribution of scientific activity creates problems for both the scientific community in developing countries and for development itself. He urged scientists and scientific institutions around the world to resolve this inequity and bring the benefits of science to all.

How humanitarian. How enlightened. How hypocritical." (Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko, TCS)

"Farming On Trial" - "British farmers must be wondering if they've been transported to Alice's Wonderland. Suddenly, normal farm activities like combating weeds in the fields are akin to crimes against nature. Last week, the UK government released the results of its 3-year farm-scale evaluations (FSEs) supposedly examining the environmental impacts of genetically modified, or "GM" crops. According to the headlines in scores of UK newspapers, the results indicate that two of the three GM crops were "damaging to wildlife." (Alex Avery, TCS)

"GM may be good for you" - "Ross Clark says we should ignore the eco-brigade’s hysteria over genetically modified food." (The Spectator)

"[Vermont] Genetic seeds still generating debate" - "MONTPELIER — Critics of genetically modified crops are blasting efforts by Vermont’s agriculture secretary to come up with rules to protect organic farmers from contamination by genetically modified organisms, saying the goal is an unrealistic one. But Agriculture Secretary Stephen Kerr said the two sides must be able to coexist in Vermont and efforts to forge a compromise position would continue." (Rutland Herald)

"Canada should consider biotech wheat - economist" - "WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Oct 23 - Canada should keep an open mind to genetically modified wheat if it wants to keep its foothold in world grain markets, an agricultural economist told western Canadian farmers on Thursday. If competitors and buyers of Canadian wheat are quick to adopt the technology and reduce their weed-control costs, Canada could fall behind, Colin Carter of the University of California, Davis, told an agricultural trade symposium in Winnipeg. "I think the Canadian industry has to kick the tires" and explore whether GM wheat could provide benefits, Carter said." (Reuters)

"EU Rethinks Strategy on Agreeing Gene Seed Rules" - "BRUSSELS - The European Commission has delayed a decision on seed purity rules until 2004, hoping to plug legal loopholes in the EU's complex legislation on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), officials said on Thursday. In a last-minute turnaround after saying the EU's seeds committee would vote early next week on its proposed thresholds for GMO presence in organic and conventional seeds, the EU executive has now sought legal advice and changed its mind. EU legislation on GMOs is highly complex and interwoven, with different rules applying to seeds, food, feed, live GMOs for planting in fields, and GM ingredients in processed foods. Setting levels for permitted GMO content in seed for organic and conventional crop cultivation is one of the last obstacles to the EU ending its unofficial five-year ban on biotech crops." (Reuters)

"RUSSIA: All GM products must be labelled" - "The Russian government is to amend the federal law on the protection of consumer rights to include new clauses requiring that all genetically modified food products carry special labels. Tass reported that sources at the Anti-Monopoly Policies Ministry had confirmed that the draft amendments would be considered at today’s [Thursday] cabinet meeting. "The manufacturers of products containing genetically modified components will be obliged to state not only the expiry date, but also information about the composition, additives used and applicable restrictions, such as counterindications. "The special requirements for the information about products and forms of its presentation will agree with the European standards," the source said." (just-food.com) [Complete]

Promo: "BioEvolution" - "No area of science is moving faster nor will have a greater impact than biotechnology. BioEvolution is the first book to explain what biotech is all about and to describe the amazing scientific advances that have already been made." (Michael Fumento)

October 23, 2003

On cellphones and cancer - Once again highlighting the value of Daubert, Newman v. Motorola, Inc. has been affirmed by unpublished per curiam opinion, which you can read here (PDF).

On "epidemiology" and other expired parrots: see "Trendy" (Number Watch)

"Scientists Back Farmers in Klamath Basin" - "GRANTS PASS, Ore. - Voluntary steps to restore habitat, including removing dams, might be more effective in saving Klamath Basin fish than taking water from farmers, a federal report released Tuesday says. The report also says that funneling irrigation water to farmers in 2002 — which decreased Klamath River flows — was not clearly responsible for the deaths of thousands of salmon later that year." (Associated Press)

"Heebie gee-gees" - "Global geophysical events, such as huge tidal waves or volcanic super-eruptions, could devastate the planet - so why doesn't anybody care?" (Bill McGuire, The Guardian)

"Evidence for an Unusually Active Sun" - " According to James Hansen of NASA-GISS - "The Sun does flicker and the `little ice age' may have been caused, at least in part, by reduced solar output. Best estimates are that the Sun contributed about one quarter of global warming between 1850 and 2000." [Ref]. Note his acknowledgement that the LIA of the 17th century did actually happen, contrary to what the UN-IPCC and the industry it leads claims in their `Hockey Stick' scenario.

But can the role of the Sun be so casually dismissed?" (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Greens lose patience with oil giants" - "Attempts by BP and Shell to present themselves as "enlightened" oil companies mindful of climate change and human rights are running into trouble with protests planned at a talk being given by BP boss Lord Browne tonight. Rising Tide - a loose-knit group of green activists - is organising a rowdy reception for the oil executive when he arrives to give a speech on sustainable development at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London. Friends of the Earth - a mainstream environmental organisation - confirmed that it too is re-evaluating relations with BP and Shell due to their apparent failure to turn rhetoric into action." (The Guardian)

"GM Go-Ahead Would Be Based on Science – Blair" - "The Government is only interested in “doing the right thing” over genetically modified food and will not be swayed by prejudice, Prime Minister Tony Blair said today. Any decision to give the go-ahead for GM crops would be based purely on scientific evidence, he told MPs, but warned banning them could prove costly to British industry." (PA News)

"Monsanto Pull-Out May Help Anti-GM Indian Farmers: Campaigners" - "NEW DELHI, Oct 22 - Food and environment rights activists believe American biotech giant Monsanto's decision to partially withdraw from Europe will give a boost to an Indian campaign to free a wheat patented by the multinational company (MNC).

Groups such as the New Delhi-based Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology (RFSTE) and the global environment campaigner, Greenpeace, state that a Monsanto patent for a strain of wheat it claims to have invented is derived from a traditional Indian variety of the cereal.

"We expect Monsanto's withdrawal from Europe to strengthen our case," says RFSTE additional director Afsar H. Jafri. RFSTE and Greenpeace are planning to challenge the patent in the European Patent office in Munich before the year-end." (OneWorld)

"AGRICULTURE-BRAZIL : The Ever More Tangled GM Crop Debate" - "RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct 22 Genetically modified soya is running into new difficulties in Brazil, with hundreds of trucks blocked from transporting their soya shipments to port, and farmers without authorisation to use the herbicide indispensable for protecting this crop." (IPS)

"Country Proposes Transformation of GM Cereals" - "The National Committee for Food Code (Codex-Angola) will forward for discussion at the Cabinet Council soon a proposal on the transformation into flour of genetically modified cereals or grains imported by Angola with the view to avoiding them to be used by the populations as seeds.

The information was released today in Luanda to Angop by Codex-Angola chairman, Gomes Cardoso, according to whom the genetically modified cereals or grains like soya, maize and others have effects on human health and environment still Insufficiently known.

One they are used, they can damage or contaminate the arable lands of the country." (Angola Press Agency (Luanda))

October 22, 2003

Silly season again, already? "Greenpeace accuses Disney over toxic pyjamas" - "Children’s pyjamas were among products bought from Disney, Woolworth’s, Toys-R-Us and Mothercare that Greenpeace claims contain chemicals that could interfere with human DNA and affect sperm production in mammals. The environmental action group commissioned independent scientists to test various consumer products including toys, clothing, perfumes, paints and air fresheners.

Disney’s Tigger pyjamas contained the highest levels of phthalates, which were recently banned from teething toys amid fears they could cause liver, kidney and testicular damage. The chemical Nonylphenol was also found in pyjamas from Disney and Mothercare." (EthicalCorp.com)

"Cancer risk 'greater for airline staff'" - "Evidence that aircraft flight and cabin crew are at increased risk of some cancers is growing, an expert in monitoring occupational disease suggested last night.

Dr Elisabeth Whelan, of the US Centres for Disease Control, said more work was under way to assess whether the threat was posed by jobs rather than lifestyle.

The main problem, if any, is thought to come from airline crew getting consistently higher doses of cosmic ionising radiation. Other possible hazards are said to be irregular working hours and body clock disturbances.

A study by British Airways of 6,200 male pilots and 1,150 male flight engineers suggested their overall life expectancy was longer than the norm. The company said yesterday it showed no patterns of death that could be directly related to their jobs." (The Guardian) [Complete]

"Killing Turkeys Causes Winter" - "Fast food restaurants have grown as have our girths, therefore fast food restaurants have caused the obesity epidemic -- or so goes the legal argument of John Banzhaf, veteran attorney for the big tobacco settlements who's now targeting another very visible and lucrative industry: food.

Plenty of things that have increased in popularity over recent decades -- natural fiber clothing, running shoes and soccer to name a few -- but it would be nonsensical to say any of these have caused obesity. Association never proves causation, any more than killing turkeys causes winter.

Yet Banzhaf's case against fast food relies upon multiple associations." (Sandy Szwarc, TCS)

"China's Boom Adds to Global Warming Problem" - "ZHANJIANG, China — China's rapid economic growth is producing a surge in emissions of greenhouse gases that threatens international efforts to curb global warming, as Chinese power plants burn ever more coal while car sales soar.

Until the last few months, many energy experts and environmentalists said, they had hoped that China's contribution to global warming would be limited. Its state-owned enterprises have become more efficient in their energy use as they compete in an increasingly capitalist economy, and until recently official Chinese statistics had been showing a steep drop in coal production and consumption.

But new figures from Chinese government agencies confirm what energy industry executives had suspected: that coal use has actually been climbing faster in China than practically anywhere else in the world." (New York Times)

"Russia plans to ratify Kyoto accord, says Chretien" - "BANGKOK - After weeks of hinting that his country might not agree to the terms of the Kyoto accord, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in a one-on-one meeting today that he does plan to ratify the global treaty for climate change." (CP)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"The Role of Science in the CO 2 Emissions Reduction Debate" - "The National Research Council's expert witness at the McCain Senate hearing on The Case for Climate Change Action presented a rather even-handed assessment of where the science of the matter stands. Unfortunately, it did nothing to alter the Senator's biased views on the subject." (co2science.org)

Carbon Sequestration Commentary:
"Demise of Earth's Tropical Forest Carbon Sink Greatly Exaggerated" - "In a recent paper in Nature, Phillips et al. (2002) suggest that increases in the air's CO 2 content are stimulating the growth of vines in Amazonian forests.  We can accept that.  However, we cannot accept their claim that this phenomenon is detrimental to trees and, therefore, that "the tropical terrestrial carbon sink may shut down sooner than current models suggest." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Sea Level (The Role of Antarctica)" - "Antarctica holds the key to the potential for major changes in sea level.  However, data from the "bottom of the world" give no indication that anything major is likely to happen anytime soon." (co2science.org)

"Decomposition (Woody Plants: Conifers)" - "How does the ongoing rise in the air's CO 2 content affect the decomposition rate of litter produced by conifers … and why do we care?" (co2science.org)

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Rice, Selfheal, Sub-Tropical Tree, Tepary Bean and Winter Wheat. (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"Atmospheric Methane Concentration: No Longer Rising" - "In contrast to the theoretical projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and some of its most ardent supporters, real-world data from the last four years indicate the atmosphere's methane concentration has remained steady, neither rising nor falling. We, like others, predict this stasis will soon end; but instead of beginning to rise again, we predict the air's CH 4 concentration will actually begin to fall. Here's why." (co2science.org)

"Cyclical Climate Change in Iberia" - "In a stunning achievement for high-resolution pollen analysis, the authors of this important new study document "for the first time in NW Iberia" the existence of the Modern Warm Period, the preceding Little Ice Age, the preceding Medieval Warm Period, the preceding Dark Ages Cold Period, the preceding Roman Warm Period and the preceding first cold phase of the Subatlantic Period." (co2science.org)

"Effects of Warming on the Carbon Balance of Arctic Tundra" - "Do rising temperatures cause ungodly amounts of carbon to be released to the atmosphere from Arctic tundra, as climate alarmists have long claimed? Not in the real world, they don't." (co2science.org)

"Growth Response of a Closed-Canopy Sweetgum Forest to Atmospheric CO 2 Enrichment" - "Non-CO 2 -enthusiasts often claim that trees growing close to each other in real-world forests are too cramped for space to grow "bigger and better" and thus sequester more carbon than they do now in a CO 2 -enriched world of the future.  Carefully conducted CO 2 enrichment experiments, however, prove them wrong." (co2science.org)

"Effects of Increasing Atmospheric CO 2 Concentration and Temperature on Soybean Seed Quality" - "In a future warmed and CO 2 -enriched world - at least one of which states is almost assured to prevail - will the health-promoting qualities of soybean seed be enhanced or degraded?" (co2science.org)

Book Review:
"Climate Alarmism Reconsidered" - "A couple of weeks ago, Robert Bradley, President of the Institute for Energy Research in Houston, Texas, and a senior research fellow at the University of Houston, contacted us regarding a new book of which he is the author -- Climate Alarmism Reconsidered. Recognizing the topic of his book to be of potential interest to readers of CO 2 Science Magazine, we reproduce here the book's Back Cover Points, Table of Contents and Introduction with Robert's permission. We invite you to read this material and consider purchasing Robert's book, which is available from Laissez-Faire Books." (co2science.org)

"Blackout risk forces nuclear rethink" - "A government minister has made clear that nuclear power is back near the top of the energy agenda after the recent bout of electricity blackouts in Britain, mainland Europe and North America.

The comments from planning minister Lord Rooker come ahead of a report today saying the government is in danger of missing its targets to increase energy efficiency as part of its attempt to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The new interest in the atomic power sector was spelled out in a parliamentary debate and has delighted a nuclear sector which looked all but doomed by a negative energy review last spring." (The Guardian)

"EU could soon lift GM ban: Brussels" - "BRUSSELS - The European Union may soon lift a de-facto ban on bio-engineered foods after new rules on the technology went into force at the weekend. "The date isn't fixed yet but the Commission could make its proposals on the issue in November or December at the latest," a spokeswoman for the EU's executive arm said Tuesday. Member states would then be required to vote by a qualified majority on whether to agree to the Commission's proposals." (AFP)

"Swiss to vote on five-year GM ban" - "ZURICH, Oct 21 - Swiss opponents of genetically modified (GM) foods have forced a referendum, which, if successful, will ban GM products from Switzerland for the next five years, the Federal Chancellery said on Tuesday.

A coalition of environmentalists and farmers collected more than 120,000 votes to back a referendum to keep Switzerland GM-free. It would block the use of genetically modified animals, plants and seeds in the Alpine country.

Under Switzerland's strong tradition of popular votes, a referendum can be called on any issue as long as campaigners manage to collect 100,000 signatures.

In a 1998 referendum, Swiss voters rejected by a two-to-one margin a measure that would have outlawed production of transgenetic animals and forbidden the release of genetically altered plants and animals into the environment.

The Chancellery could not immediately say when the referendum would be held." (Reuters) [Complete]

"Experiment Winds Up Feeding Hungry" - "URBANA, Ill. -- An attempt to grow an ear of corn in the University of Illinois' orange-and-blue school colors failed miserably -- it turned out an ugly green. Yet out of that failure has come genetic research that is helping develop corn hybrids with higher levels of vitamin A, which could greatly help nutrition in developing nations. The potential of the vitamin-enriched corn has attracted attention from the U.S. Agency for International Development, which recently provided a $1.7 million grant to Illinois and six other institutions to develop hybrids that can be grown in sub-Saharan Africa." (AP)

October 21, 2003

^#$&$^! "Health Concerns Over Reintroduction of DDT" - "Harare -- Environmentalists and public health officials in Zimbabwe have warned that government plans to reintroduce the banned chemical dichloro-diphenyl-trichlorothene (DDT) in this year's anti-malaria spraying programme could do serious ecological damage.

The use of DDT was banned worldwide in the early 1990s after it was found to have adverse health and environmental effects.

According to Minister of Health David Parirenyatwa, the government has resorted to DDT because it was "cheap and more effective, with a longer residual killing power". But a senior health official told IRIN the government had turned to DDT, "despite the obvious dangers, because it has no money to buy prescribed, environmentally friendly spray chemicals." (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks)

"Scared silly" - "The public - and politicians - are being panicked by stories of health risks that are unlikely to affect them, research out this week claims." (The Guardian)

"Panel Endorses U.S. Exemption on Ozone Pact" - "An international panel of experts has approved the Bush administration's request for broad exemptions to a ban on methyl bromide, a pesticide that is popular with agricultural businesses but damages Earth's protective ozone layer.

The ban, which applies to industrialized countries, is scheduled to take effect in 2005 under the Montreal Protocol, the 1987 treaty to eliminate chemicals that destroy ozone. The panel, assembled by the United Nations, can recommend exemptions if it finds that substitute chemicals would be unsafe or too expensive." (New York Times)

"Kerry Environmental Plan" - "DURHAM, N.H., Oct. 20 — Senator John Kerry, who bills himself as the strongest champion of the environment in the Democratic presidential field, issued a six-point plan today calling for "environmental empowerment zones" and a "toxics task force" to ensure that federal money is spent on the highest-priority cleanup projects." (New York Times)

"No Niño, no Niña, no clear forecast - Winter weather likely to be a guessing game" - "A noticeable tremor sometimes passes through the voices of meteorologists when they talk about the coming winter. Forget their Doppler radar and their jet stream graphics. They're missing a key tool, and many are nervous about it. They don't have either of the twins -- El Niño and La Niña, two of the most powerful weather influences on the planet. For the first time in six winters, meteorologists have no edge. Will it be wet, dry or something in between? They're not sure." (The Fresno Bee)

The revisionists are back: "Medieval Climate Not So Hot" - "The idea that there's no need to worry about human-induced global warming because the world's climate in medieval time was at least as warm as today's is flawed, according to a recent analysis.

There's not enough evidence to conclude that the Medieval Warm Period was global, or that regional warm spells between 500 and 1500 A.D. occurred simultaneously, leading paleoclimatologists report in the Oct. 17 issue of Science.

"The balance of evidence does not point to a High Medieval period (1100 to 1200 A.D.) that was as warm or warmer than the late 20th century," the team wrote. They pointed out that temperatures during High Medieval time in the Northern Hemisphere were almost the same as they were from 1901 to 1970, a time period which was cooler than the last three decades of the 20th century by about one-third of a degree Celsius (six-tenths of a degree Fahrenheit)." (Science Daily)

"Nature behind melting ice" - "This past June, 46 distinguished climate scientists sent Paul Martin an open letter supporting environmental protection in general, but "strongly" disagreeing with the scientific rationale for the Kyoto Protocol. A copy given to the National Post was published, but the letter was otherwise generally ignored, both by Martin and most of the media." (National Post)

"Ottawa's Kyoto plan assailed" - "OTTAWA -- Canada's Kyoto accord plan includes financial support for a World Bank fund that pays people to plant eucalyptus trees in Brazil -- an initiative that environmentalists condemn as a bogus method of combating global warming.

"It's illegitimate," says Alex Boston, a climate-change campaigner with the David Suzuki Foundation, which plans to hold a news conference on Parliament Hill tomorrow to attack the plantation project. "It seems that the Canadian government wants to carry out all of these complicated and silly and ineffective ways of achieving its emission-reduction targets." (Globe and Mail)

"Kyoto treaty setback" - "Russian President Vladimir Putin recently chose prudence over public relations by postponing Russia's ratification of the Kyoto treaty on greenhouse gasses." (Washington Times editorial)

"Brazil president faces growing criticism on environment" - "RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — A growing number of conservationists are accusing Brazilian President Luiz Incio Lula da Silva of betraying them over environmental issues.

On Monday, the leaders of more than 20 environmental groups sent Silva a letter registering their dissatisfaction with plans to go ahead with 82 infrastructure projects in the Amazon rainforest.

They are particularly incensed about plans to build three large hydroelectric dams in the jungle and 200-mile-long (320-km-long) gas pipelines that would cut through the heart of the rainforest. The dams alone would displace 200,000 people and flood large swaths of virgin forest, the environmentalists claim." (Associated Press)

"[Australia/New Zealand] No GM would lose $A2.5b: report" - "The Australian and New Zealand economies would be $A2.5 billion worse off if farmers failed to adopt genetically modified crops, a new report has found. The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) report found Australia and New Zealand would still be at least $A1.7 billion worse off, even if the only bans were imposed by the EU and some developing markets." (ONE News)

"Genetically modified trees planted in Quebec" - "VAL CARTIER, QUE. - The federal government is funding a field trial of genetically modified trees near Quebec City. Researchers with the Canadian Forest Service say it will help protect the country's natural forests.

Researchers have planted a plot of 400 genetically modified spruce and poplars in the woods near Val Cartier.

Research scientist Armand Séguin of the Canadian Forest Service says it is the only field trial of transgenic trees in the country." (CBC News Online)

"Monsanto reacts to USDA's biotech infractions report" - "Following a Reuters report Friday that said USDA found 115 violations of the federal regulations on planting experimental genetically modified crops since 1990, Monsanto Company has released a statement on its field trial testing program and its commitment to compliance." (Agriculture Online)

"Value in a GM crop" - "When British scientists released the results of an intensive, three-year study of genetically modified crops last week, environmentalists could scarcely contain their glee. The study showed that the cultivation of two GM crops, oil-seed rape and sugar beet, could result in lower populations of some butterflies, bees and birds. Bugs like weeds, and crops that are genetically modified to resist herbicides can be grown with fewer weeds among them. Fewer bugs, in turn, could mean fewer bug-eating birds.

Aha, said the environmentalists. Here was proof positive that GM crops, which they have colourfully labelled "Frankenfoods," do irreparable damage to nature." (Globe and Mail)

"A Tale of Two Seeds" - "India and Brazil are continents apart, but human aspirations are universal. The experience of farmers in both these countries illustrates their common desire to access new technologies, improve productivity and reach new markets. Indeed, the future of agriculture biotechnology may rest on what happens in these two large agriculturally significant countries. The increasing demand for GM seeds by farmers is forcing the hands of the governments in both these countries." (Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, TCS)

October 20, 2003

"The Implant Axis" - "Silicone breast implants (SBIs) are back. A Food and Drug Administration committee recommended last week that the implants be available to women who want them. The real story, though, may be the stealthy efforts of some personal injury lawyers to prevent FDA approval. Based on new evidence of connections between activists and lawyers, it appears that the lawyers might be surreptitiously using anti-SBI activists to scare the FDA and public about SBIs." (Steven Milloy, Wall Street Journal)

"Frankenstein meets the Megababy" - "Shock horror 1. If you feed your baby 100 tons of proprietary baby food, it might get cancer.

Shock horror 2. GM crops do exactly what they were designed to do.

Two fatuous scares dominated the British media in mid-October and they typified the manic inconsequentiality of the genre. One was generated by a European report on “carcinogenic” baby food, while the other arose from the publication of the results of GM field trials." (Number Watch)

"Superweeds" - "SO NOW we know that the first generation of GM maize has more weeds in it than conventional maize, while rape and beet have less. (In the topsy-turvy world of modern farming, more weeds mean a more acceptable crop.) The anti-GM argument that they should all be banned to save the environment is therefore finished for good. But it will not stop many environmentalists opposing all GM crops, for they have two other arguments up their sleeve, both so specious, so hypocritical, that they must not pass unchallenged." (Matt Ridley, EnviroSpin Watch)

?!! "This should be the end for GM" - "The GM industry must have been scratching its head on Thursday morning following news that yet another of its key claims had been spectacularly demolished. Far from benefiting the environment, as Monsanto spent millions of pounds telling us it would, we now know that genetically modified crops are bad for diversity. That at least is the conclusion of the Government's long-awaited field trials." (Zac Goldsmith, The Observer)

Oh dear! Less crop productivity (reducing wildlife conservation set-aside) plus environmentally less-benign chemical regimes somehow equate to environmental benefit. Right...

"Up to 600 million GM plants could be grown in Britain every year" - "Up to 600 million GM crop plants could grow in Britain annually under plans drawn up by the European Commission to be considered next week.

The plans would in effect bring in GM agriculture by the back door, and seriously compromise organic farming across Europe. They could lead to European farmers growing more than six billion genetically modified crop plants every year, without realising it." (Independent on Sunday)

"Focus: No support from the public. No evidence. No case for GM" - "There have been striking similarities between the way the Government has handled the unfolding Iraq crisis and the controversy over genetically modified crops. In each case deeply unpopular policies have been zealously pursued by Tony Blair. The difference between GM and Iraq is that, following last week's unfavourable verdict on the GM crop trials, the truth has emerged before major damage has been done, writes Environment Editor Geoffrey Lean." (Independent on Sunday)

"Number 10's wildlife experts warn against GM damage" - "Tony Blair's chief wildlife advisers have dealt another massive blow to the case for genetically modified (GM) crops, warning that the technology will 'seriously degrade' swaths of countryside." (The Observer)

"Michael Meacher: Science backs consumers' rejection of GM food - are you listening Tony?" - "Last week's scientific study into genetically modified crops was a serious setback for those who want this science introduced to Britain. There were five aspects to the Government's testing of GM crops. Four have been complete, and not one has helped to advance the case. The only one still to come, a study into whether GM crops can coexist with organic farming and who is liable if organic farmers are driven out of business, could be the most difficult yet." (Independent on Sunday)

"UK unlikely to grow GMO crops before 2005 - government" - "LONDON - Genetically modified (GM) crops are unlikely to be grown in Britain before 2005 because of the long, drawn-out process involved in granting approvals, UK government officials said last week. "If the government decided to give the green light for (commercial GM crop) plantings in the next few months, it's highly unlikely that anything would be in the ground next year - even 2005 looks optimistic," a spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said." (Reuters)

"Crop waste seen as new resource" - "Biotech companies boast of turning cornstalks and husks into plastics and fuel." (Des Moines Register)

"[EU] Chemical reaction in reach" - "The social and environmental benefits of the controversial new European chemicals policy will far outweigh the €5.2 billion it will cost to implement, the European Environment Commissioner promised.

Margot Wallström, who was delivering the Greenpeace Business Lecture at the Royal Society of Arts in London last week, urged the industry to view the new regime, under which the industry will bear the cost of ensuring its products are safe, as an investment that would boost industry innovation and creativity rather than harm it." (The Observer)

"Cowboys, Indians, and land: an old saga's new twist" - "ASHLAND, ORE. – Environmentalists often cite native Americans as a model for protecting nature. The groups are working together to restore Maine's Penobscot River and oppose natural-gas exploration on Navajo lands.

But just as the 1854 speech attributed to Chief Seattle of the Suquamish tribe ("We are a part of the earth and it is part of us") is now considered a myth, the collaboration of environmentalists and Indians has been tenuous at best. And today it's being tested, as some tribes assert their rights to exploit - as well as preserve - natural resources." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"September 2003" - "The latest piece of mis-information from the Greenhouse Industry comes via AP, with a story titled `Warmest September on Record, Worldwide' dated 17th Oct 2003.  Their source was cited as the National Climate Data Center, who cited temperature data back to 1880. They further claimed that `the second and third warmest Septembers on record (again since 1880) occurred in 1997 and 1998'." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Sierra snow pack shrinking, study says" - "SACRAMENTO -- Global warming means epochal changes in the Sierra Nevada snow pack that supplies two-thirds of California’s water and most of the water for northern Nevada, says a study being released Thursday.

The snow pack will shrink and melt earlier in the year, reducing runoff in the dry spring and summer, predicts the Sierra Nevada Alliance. The snow line will climb 500 feet within decades as temperatures rise.

"We’re dealing with a situation where the problems could be very severe," agreed Doug Osugi, a state Department of Water Resources planner. One computer model predicts a temperature increase of 2.5 to 10.5 degrees over a century, bringing "major potential impacts for the Sierra snow pack." (The Associated Press)

"North Sea faces collapse of its ecosystem" - "Fish stocks and sea bird numbers plummet as soaring water temperatures kill off vital plankton." (Independent on Sunday)

"Global warming withers S. Africa's desert plants" - "RICHTERSVELD NATIONAL PARK, South Africa -- Photos taken in 1945 show the desert wilderness that is now Richtersveld park thick with forests of quiver trees, unusual aloes that rise high into the air on white trunks and then spread branches topped with spiky, succulent leaves.

A half-century later, Richtersveld's famed quiver trees are dying. Around Kokerboomkloof, a boulder-strewn outcrop overlooking the Orange River border with Namibia, nearly half of the hundred-some trees are now brown skeletons. Just as worrying, there are no young plants pushing up amid the gravel-and-sand soil.

"This one's just died in the last year," said ranger Rufus Hein, running a hand over one of the giant fallen aloes. "We have no answers for why it's happening. It's not just in the park. It's the whole region."

Researchers at South Africa's National Botanical Institute, however, say they believe the die-off at Richtersveld, and across much of arid western South Africa, is due to what once was just a theory: climate change." (Chicago Tribune)

"Rushing to Judgment" - "Is Earth warming? The planet has warmed since the mid-1800s, but before that it cooled for more than five centuries. Cycles of warming and cooling have been part of Earth’s natural climate history for millions of years. So what is the global warming debate about? It’s about the proposition that human use of fossil fuels has contributed significantly to the past century’s warming, and that expected future warming may have catastrophic global consequences. But hard evidence for this human contribution simply does not exist; the evidence we have is suggestive at best. Does that mean the human effects are not occurring? Not necessarily. But media coverage of global warming has been so alarmist that it fails to convey how flimsy the evidence really is. Most people don’t realize that many strong statements about a human contribution to global warming are based more on politics than on science. Indeed, the climate change issue has become so highly politicized that its scientific and political aspects are now almost indistinguishable. The United Nations Inter­governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), upon which governments everywhere have depended for the best scientific information, has been transformed from a bona fide effort in international scientific cooperation into what one of its leading participants terms “a hybrid scientific/political organization.” (Jack M. Hollander, The Wilson Quarterly)

"Activist and Spin-Doctor Bjorn Lomborg Calls for Copenhagen Consensus Conference" - "According to several Danish newspapers Director of the Environmental Assessment Institute, and author of The Skeptical Environmentalist”, Bjorn Lomborg teams with the Economist to gather the World’s foremost scientists and economists for four days at the “Copenhagen Consensus Conference”.

The conference is to be chaired by six Nobel Laureates and ten Professors out of which eight are from the US and one from Switzerland.

Lomborg and the Economist have selected ten subjects to discuss: Climate Change, Disease, Conflicts and Spread of Arms, Financial Instability, Lack of Education, Lack of Sewage and Water Quality, Corruption and Poor Governance, Lack of Workforce, Trade Barriers, and Hunger as the tenths subject." (h2cars.biz)

Hmm... read on, this hydrogen lobby site doesn't seem to like global warming sceptics overmuch (the title does rather give that away).

October 17, 2003

"Secondhand Smoke Scam" - "I could only laugh last April when I first heard about a study claiming that a smoking ban in Helena, Mont., cut the city’s heart attack rate by 58 percent in six months." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Kyoto veto will hurt Russia, says U.N. climate chief" - "OSLO, Norway — The head of the U.N. climate panel called on Moscow Thursday not to veto the Kyoto Protocol, saying it was wrong to assume global warming could help Russia and warning it would suffer politically if it killed the pact. "I don't think a negative decision on Kyoto would be in Russia's interest overall," said Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change." (Reuters)

"From Russia With Love" - "Russia's reputation has taken a hammering since it scrapped communism and tried capitalism. Organized crime runs the country, the once feared military machine is rusting and its goods are still regarded as shoddy. There has been a lot of sneering about Russia, no more clearly shown in some assessments of how it would treat the Kyoto Protocol." (Alan Oxley, TCS)

"Farmers blow away 'fart tax'" - "The Government has abandoned its plans for a flatulence tax in the face of fierce farmer opposition and international derision." (The Dominion Post)

"Warming doubles glacier melt" - "October 17: Glaciers in Argentina and Chile are melting at double the rate of 1975 because of global warming scientists said yesterday, after calculating that the ice lost between 1995 and 2000 was equivalent to a rise in sea level of about 0.105mm a year." (The Guardian)

Gasp! 0.105mm/year! That's like, oh, 10.5mm/century! (<0.5 inches over 100 years, for those not familiar with metric measures)

"Climate change and US agriculture: Benefits dwindle as the picture sharpens" - "Computer-based simulations of U.S. agriculture show that, by the year 2060, the benefits of climate change to American croplands could be less than previous work had indicated. A team of scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and several universities found that finer-scale simulations tend to reduce projected benefits and increase projected losses for a wide range of crops across most parts of the nation." (National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research)

"Kyoto oil-sands costs overstated, report says" - "Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Syncrude Canada Ltd. and other companies that produce synthetic crude should manage to weather the Kyoto climate change accord without incurring appreciable added costs, according to an analyst report released yesterday.

Estimates of how much it will cost companies to comply with the agreement are less than previously anticipated.

Oil and gas producers will probably face a cost of 5 cents to 30 cents a barrel because of the climate-change agreement. Earlier this year, some oil and gas officials predicted the deal would wind up costing synthetic oil producers as much as $3 a barrel." (Toronto Star)

"Hundred million dollar plan to enhance Third World crops" - "LAGOS - Crop scientists announced a 100 million dollar plan, partly funded by software tycoon Bill Gates, to breed a new, more nutritious generation of the developing world's favourite crops. Researchers from the Nigeria-based International Institute for Tropical Agriculture told reporters that the 10-year HarvestPlus plan would harness selective breeding and biotechnology to improve cassava, maize and yams." (AFP)

"Global Biotechnology Forum" - 2-5 March, 2004. Concepción - Chile (Español)

"The Farm Scale Evaluations of spring-sown genetically modified crops" - "A themed issue from Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences, Series B Volume 358 Issue 1439 29 November 2003" (The Royal Society)

"Momentous Day for British Agriculture" - "London, 16th October 2003 - The Farm Scale Evaluations show that, contrary to what campaigners have been asserting for years, GM technology, if managed properly, can benefit the environment as well as farmers and consumers. Today is a momentous one for UK agriculture. The implications of the FSEs are clear:" (CropGen.org)

"Crop trials fail to answer GM questions" - "IT HAS been the largest experiment of its kind - taking over four years to co-ordinate and leading to the destruction of many crops and a schism of public opinion. But the results of a £6 million investigation into GM crops, published yesterday, have proved inconclusive - prompting renewed anger from environmental campaigners and frustration in the biotech industry. The results of trials of three GM crops at over 200 farms across the UK, could give the European governments the ammunition to ban the commercial growing of some GM varieties if they can be shown to damage the environment. But whilst the environmental lobby claimed their opposition was vindicated by the results, scientists and farmers believe the reality of the situation is by no means conclusive. Rather than providing a clear indication of the choice that Westminster and the Scottish Executive will make, the mixed results are likely to leave many none the wiser." (The Scotsman)

"It is a giant stride forward" - "David Hill is a third generation Norfolk farmer. He grows conventional crops as well as running an organic operation and taking part in the GM sugar beet trials." (The Guardian)

"Consumers just don't want it" - "Gerald Miles, 56, is an organic beef, pork and cereal farmer in west Pembrokeshire, Wales" (The Guardian)

"Outright ban, caution or green light?" - "All sides draw comfort from report" (The Guardian)

"UK gene crop test results fuel demands for ban" - "LONDON - Results of UK field trials of genetically modified (GM) crops have brought fresh demands for the government to keep so-called Frankenstein foods away from already sceptical British shoppers." (Reuters)

"GM Crops Suffer Another Blow" - "LONDON, Oct 16 Genetically modified crops have proved a danger to wildlife in two out of three major experiments carried out in Britain." (IPS)

"Two GM crops face ban for damaging wildlife" - "Two GM varieties, oil-seed rape and sugar beet, face a Europe-wide ban after long-awaited field-scale trials showed that the crops damaged wildlife, and would have a serious long-term effect on bee, butterfly and bird populations." (The Guardian)

"Leader: Case not proven" - "No wonder Monsanto is leaving the country. Just a day after the US company closed its UK cereal business, the government's field trials into GM technology found that Monsanto's genetically modified sugar-beet product produces fields with fewer butterflies, bees and weed seeds than conventional crops. The results cannot be easily discounted. They also found that GM spring rape, this time sold by another multinational Bayer, reduced wildlife and wild vegetation where grown. The one piece of good news for the industry - that that GM maize might attract more wildlife than its unmodified equivalent - was undermined by the fact that more work was needed to confirm this. If the government wanted more reasons not to embrace commercial cultivation of genetically modified crops then it need look no further than yesterday's findings." (The Guardian) | GM crops: the arguments for and against | Biggest study of impact on environment gives critics a field day | From lab to table: how biotechnology breeds hopes, doubts and fears down the food chain | Proven: the environmental dangers that may halt GM revolution (Independent)

"GM test results already in doubt" - "Publication of the results of the UK's study of genetically modified crops, the biggest conducted anywhere in the world, has already sparked controversy. Scientists who tested three GM crops found more damage to wildlife from two, oilseed rape and sugar beet, than from their conventional equivalents. A third biotech plant, a maize, was better for wildlife than normal crops. But some of the researchers say part of the trials will need repeating, as a key herbicide used is being phased out." (BBC News Online)

"Decision on GM crops postponed until after election" - "MINISTERS are likely to delay any decision on the commercial planting of genetically modified crops until after the general election. Elliot Morley, the Environment Minister, last night ruled out biotechnology companies being granted any GM licences in Britain next year and said that the country was “some way” from reaching any final decision on the issue." (The Times)

October 16, 2003

"European food safety agency recommends change in baby food packaging for safety" - "LONDON - Europe's food safety agency recommended Wednesday that baby food manufacturers change the lids on their jars as soon as possible because of cancer concerns over a chemical found in some food packed in bottles and jars.

However, the European Food Safety Authority said there was no need for parents to stop using the infant food because any cancer risk would be extremely low and the jars have an excellent safety record for germs and other important contaminants." (Associated Press)

Fair enough coverage - states that the food industry discovered and self-reported semicarbazide leaching from seals into food products, any risk is assessed as disappearingly small but that everyone is happy to effect change as technology allows. No problems there. However, The Times needs a few lessons in non-hysterical presentation:

"Mothers told 'make your own babyfood' in cancer alert" - "SCIENTISTS have discovered a toxin linked to cancer in jars of baby food sold worldwide. Parents in Britain have been advised to start making their own food if they are worried.

The alarm was raised yesterday after experts at the European Food Safety Authority confirmed the discovery of semicarbazide, which can damage DNA, in a range of products, including baby food." (The Times)

Oh dear! Even The Indy was a little more reserved:

"Health warning over seal on jars used for baby food" - "Baby food producers have been told to change the jars they use over concerns about a cancer-causing chemical that seeps into food from the airtight plastic seal." (Independent)

Meanwhile, the Beeb thought better of its originally titled "Cancer fears over baby food jars" and settled for:

"Chemical found in baby food jars" - "Baby food manufacturers have been urged to change the way they package their products amid fears over cancer.

The European Food Safety Authority says it has found traces of a potentially dangerous chemical in some jars." (BBC News Online)

On the whole, a sadly typical, thoroughly pitiful effort disseminating information to the public.

Food fright feature: "Food fear is here" - "We've become afraid of what we eat, and so we should be, an author says" (Vancouver Sun)

"Antibiotics to Fail in 10 Years?" - "Canada has decided to take advantage of breaches in international patent agreements for AIDS drugs and announced it will allow its generic copy-cat producers to supply drugs to poor countries. This move is being hailed by activists as a great advance that will aid the poorest victims of this devastating plague. While the move may have some positive effects in lowering the price of drugs, it is also likely to prove a disincentive to drug innovation and development." (Roger Bate, TCS)

"New global treaty proposed to control climate change and improve health" - "A global treaty focusing on intercontinental air pollution could be a better approach to climate change than the Kyoto Protocol, according to a new study. By cooperating to control pollutants like ozone and aerosols, countries could address their own regional health concerns and keep their downwind neighbors happy, while reducing the threat of global warming in the process." (American Chemical Society)

"Ozone May Offset Capacity of Trees to Sop Up Carbon" - "Scientists have long identified forests as a potential buffer against rising concentrations of carbon dioxide, the main smokestack and tailpipe emission linked by most scientists to global warming.

Trees sop up the heat-trapping greenhouse gas through photosynthesis and stash it in soil. The more carbon dioxide there is in air, the more that forests, in theory, can lock up in the earth.

But a new experiment has shown that fairly common concentrations of ozone, the eye-stinging ingredient in smog, can sharply impede this process. Thus, one kind of air pollution common in the Northern Hemisphere appears to hamper natural absorption of another, said the researchers, who report their findings in today's issue of the journal Nature." (New York Times) | Down and dirty: Airborne ozone can alter forest soil (North Central Research Station)

"Putin stands with Bush against environmentalists" - "A largely overlooked, widely misinterpreted event in Moscow two weeks ago transformed the international conflict over the environment and growth. On Sept. 29, President Vladimir Putin was expected to open the World Climate Change Conference by announcing Russian ratification of the 1997 Kyoto global-warming treaty. Instead, he gave an opposite signal.

Russia's ratification is needed to enforce Kyoto's global requirements for reduced greenhouse gas emissions, with vast economic consequences. Global warming ''might even be good,'' cracked Putin. ''We'd spend less money on fur coats.'' But like Sherlock Holmes' dog that didn't bark, what the Russian leader left unsaid was more important. He didn't say: We shall ratify." (Robert Novak, Sun-Times)

" President Vladimir Putin was expected..." by whom? Some activists and assorted misanthropists perhaps but probably no one in the real world.

The hypothesis of an anthropogenic enhanced-greenhouse atmosphere crisis is a dog that just won't hunt. Despite squandering billions searching for a problem the best anyone has managed to find is creep in the near-surface temperature amalgam, "evidence" that shows every symptom of being no more than corruption of the data set induced by increasingly urban measurement. Atmospheric measures taken by radio-sonde balloons and confirmed by near-global satellite readings lend zero support to cries of crisis and impending doom.

Someone's surprised Russia is in no hurry to commit economic suicide in order to support a politically correct fantasy? All I can say is, thank heavens for Russian science!

"Brian Fallow: The stonethrower in the greenhouse" - "Since Danish statistician Professor Bjorn Lomborg published The Sceptical Environmentalist he has been demonised by the Green movement and at the same time lionised by those predisposed to believe that global warming is a myth and that the Kyoto Protocol will be the ruin of us.

His position is more subtle, more principled and more challenging than that.

But his bottom-line conclusion is that Kyoto is a thoroughly bad deal - "simply because the cost is now and the benefits are way into the future and very small." (New Zealand Herald)

"Changes in climate might affect area’s snowpack" - "In another warning that global warming has threatened water supplies, a report released today says snow elevation could rise by 500 feet in the next few decades as the population and water demands grow.

The report by the Lake Tahoe-based Sierra Nevada Alliance, citing studies by climatologists and university researchers, also predicts temperature increases between 2.5 degrees and 10.4 degrees during the next century, causing more precipitation to fall as rain at altitudes where it previously fell as snow. Rain at higher elevations would create more runoff flowing downstream in the winter, and the snowpack would release less water over the summer, when it is needed most, the report says." (Reno Gazette-Journal)

"Posturing and reality on warming" - "For the first time, the Senate is about to vote on whether to restrict national emissions of carbon dioxide — the respiration of our civilization and our economy — in an attempt to control the world's uncontrollable climate. This legislation has absolutely no basis in science." (Patrick J. Michaels, The Washington Times)

"Raking in the Green" - "The Kyoto Protocol has no real scientific basis. It is a geo-economic game between the US and EU. The time has come for Russia to pick a side." (Olga Vlasova and Tigran Oganesyan, Gateway to Russia)

Again with the models... "U.S. funded research team to study affect of climate change on air quality" - "BOULDER, CO (10/14/03) --The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and other institutions have launched a project to help the government keep polluted areas in compliance with Clean Air Act standards in the event of rising global temperatures. The three- year project, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, U.S. EPA, and U.S. Forest Service, will focus on modeling air quality in the United States in the middle of the 21st century." (Capitol Reports)

"Toxic Shock" - "From Ripley Today online news site we learn that on Saturday September 27, "Greenpeace campaigners" exchanged "what they described as genetically modified milk for the organic alternative, free of charge" at a booth in front of a Sainsbury's grocery store. This was allegedly for the purpose of food safety and informing and protecting consumers. Somehow Greenpeace always seems to have an uncanny ability to get things exactly opposite to the truth and in this case, once again they have not failed us in being egregiously in error." (Thomas R. DeGregori, TCS)

Good grief! "Innocents abroad?" - "Bill Gates's donation of $25m to fund GM research has led to criticism that his foundation is backing US corporate interests, not the poor" (John Vidal, The Guardian)

"Iowa Researchers Working on Corn Hybrids" - "DES MOINES, Iowa -- Plant scientists are working to develop corn fortified with beta carotene to help fight blindness, birth defects and malnutrition in developing nations. The research, under way at Iowa State University in Ames, also involves identifying known hybrids high in beta carotene. The substance is converted by the human body into vitamin A, which is essential for vision, cell division and growth. ``Corn is a good way of delivering vitamin A because you to deliver it with fats and oils that help in its uptake,'' said Stephen Howell, director of the university's Plant Sciences Institute." (AP)

"DEVELOPMENT : Can Technology Solve Hunger?" - "WASHINGTON, Oct 15 On the eve of World Food Day, the development community is divided over the best course of action to fight malnutrition and hunger, the leading causes of death and sickness worldwide." (IPS)

"GM crops giant Monsanto pulls out of Europe" - "Monsanto, the American pioneer of genetically modified crops, said yesterday it was pulling out of its European cereal seed business. The move was widely seen as a sign that it has given up hopes of introducing GM cereals in Europe. It announced its decision on the eve of today's publication of results of farm-scale evaluations of GM crops, the final and most influential part of the Government's investigation into whether to allow GM crops to be grown commercially." (Daily Telegraph)

"Awareness of GM foods increasing, while overall support slipping" - "Most Americans are unaware that they are already eating genetically modified (GM) foods, although awareness of GM foods is growing. This, according to a nationwide telephone survey of 1,200 randomly selected Americans, released on October 15 by the Food Policy Institute at Rutgers' Cook College. The study also found that while Americans seem to know more about genetic modification than most Europeans, American's overall knowledge about both GM foods and food production is relatively low." (Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey)

"Banning GM crops not enough to save wildlife" - "Genetically modified crops are now grown in more than 16 countries. In 2002, farmers around the world planted 60 million hectares of land with dozens of varieties of GM crops. Yet in the UK, the decision to approve or reject the technology could hinge on the results, out on Thursday, of four-year trials involving 280 fields of three GM crops. Although these farm-scale evaluations are being portrayed as a test of the environmental credentials of GM crops, it is really the weedkillers to which they are resistant that are on trial." (New Scientist)

"Weedkillers pose greater threat than GM crops" - "USE of weedkillers on conventional crops could pose more of a threat to the environment than genetically modified crops, a report has claimed. The day before publication of the results of GM trials carried out across the UK, a study in the journal New Scientist claims that soaring herbicide use on traditional crops may have a worse impact on farmland wildlife than conventional weed-killers on GM varieties. It also claims that if GM crops are banned, farmers may instead choose to cultivate non-GM crops that are bred to be resistant to more noxious weed-killing herbicides. As with GM, the report suggests that the herbicide resistance could then spread to other crops and weeds." (The Scotsman)

"Brazil soy growers criticize state ban on GM" - "SAO PAULO, Brazil - Soybean growers in Brazil's No. 2 producer state Parana said on Wednesday it would be difficult to enforce a law passed by the state legislature this week banning genetically modified soy until 2006. Brazil recently lifted the long standing ban on GM soy planting and sales on the national level but Parana's state government said it preferred to keep its official status as GM free." (Reuters)

October 15, 2003

"Hair raising report 'hopes to head off disaster'" - "Many cranial creatures, from head lice to scalp mites, are at risk from a worldwide loss of follicles, according to a World WorryWatch Institution (WWWI) Report, 'A Global Map of Follicular Ecosystems', issued today." (GreenSpin)

"Group argues EPA failed to study atrazine's link to cancer" - "WASHINGTON -- Activists want a judge to force the Environmental Protection Agency to thoroughly study the health effects of atrazine, a common weed killer.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, a Washington-based environmental group, filed a motion with U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Tuesday, arguing that the agency failed to comply with a court order requiring it to look at the link between atrazine and cancer. The order was issued two years ago." (The Associated Press)

"Questions on Irradiated Food" - "WHEN the European Parliament decided last year to put a moratorium on the irradiation of almost all food, it was influenced by studies suggesting that substances formed when fat is irradiated may promote colon cancer. But when regulators in the United States approved the irradiation of fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry and eggs, they did not consider that type of study, in which animals were fed concentrates of the substances. Irradiated food is now sold in some stores and restaurants, but it is not widely available." (Marian Burros, New York Times)

"Unnatural disasters" - "Global warming could create 150 million environmental refugees - but the countries responsible are in no hurry to carry their share of the costs ." (Andrew Simms, The Guardian)

Read: Lack of development will create countless environmental refugees - but the so-called environment groups continue to hinder development and misdirect societal effort and finance with bizarre scare campaigns.

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"The Role of the Insurance Industry in the CO 2 -Climate Debate" - "If the ongoing rise in the air's CO 2 content causes global warming, and if global warming increases the number and severity of natural catastrophes, insurance companies will be forced to increase the premiums they charge their clients for protection against these eventualities, will they not?  If you answer this question in the affirmative, do you think the nature of their business has anything to do with their claims that this chain of events is true, when a wealth of real-world evidence suggests it is false?" (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Sea Level (European Measurements)" - "Climate alarmists typically claim that 20th century warming was "unprecedented" over the past millennium and then some. On the basis of this claim they further claim that the past century's warming has caused sea levels to rise at unprecedented rates and extreme weather events to likewise become more frequent and severe.  Sea level data from Europe, however, suggest something quite different." (co2science.org)

"Biospheric Productivity (Terrestrial: Worldwide)" - "Between 1980 and 2000, the earth weathered two of the warmest decades in the instrumental temperature record, three intense and persistent El Niño events, and the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. Concurrently, the air's CO 2 content increased by 9%, while human population grew by 37%. It was a bad time for the biosphere. Or was it?" (co2science.org)

Plant Growth Data:
"This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Cherry Tomato, Rice, Soybean and a Sub-tropical Tree." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"Changes in Extreme Temperatures in China Over the Past Half-Century" - "How dramatic have they been?  And how have they impacted the health of the Chinese people?" (co2science.org)

"Cyclical Flooding in California, USA" - "What causes it? And what does it portend for the future?" (co2science.org)

"Cooling and Cold Temperatures Heighten Risk of Ischemic Stroke in Korea" - "This newest study is simply another example of the well-documented fact that cooling and cold temperatures heighten the risk of dying from any number of maladies most everywhere, and that a modest amount of global warming would actually be good for human health." (co2science.org)

"Effects of Elevated CO 2 on Legume Nitrogen Fixation in a Grassland Ecosystem" - "A study conducted at the Cedar Creek Natural History Area Long-Term Ecological Research site in Minnesota, USA, provides a fascinating window on the future with respect to the functioning of some of earth's natural ecosystems." (co2science.org)

"Response of Cotton to Elevated UV-B Radiation and CO 2 " - "Will the positive effects of atmospheric CO 2 enrichment on cotton growth and development outweigh the deleterious effects of enhanced levels of UV-B radiation that could occur in response to continued stratospheric ozone depletion?" (co2science.org)

Book Review:
"Climate Alarmism Reconsidered" - "A couple of weeks ago, Robert Bradley, President of the Institute for Energy Research in Houston, Texas, and a senior research fellow at the University of Houston, contacted us regarding a new book of which he is the author -- Climate Alarmism Reconsidered.  Recognizing the topic of his book to be of potential interest to readers of CO 2 Science Magazine, we reproduce here the book's Back Cover Points, Table of Contents and Introduction with Robert's permission.  We invite you to read this material and consider purchasing Robert's book, which is available from Laissez-Faire Books." (co2science.org)

"Is Exxon getting Kyoto-friendly?" - "Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest oil and gas company, may be slowly preparing to embrace the importance of renewable energy as it gets ready to name a new chairman and chief executive officer. The Irving, Tex.-based company's top health and environment official has been holding private meetings with various groups, saying the company wants to "listen first and not just talk." "We're constantly trying to improve our communications," said Tom Cirigliano, an Exxon Mobil spokesman. "We take the issue of global climate change seriously. We've met with a number of groups." (Globe and Mail)

"[Ireland] Livestock cuts would help Kyoto target, says expert" - "The environment could be one of the real winners if Ireland opted to completely remove the link between farm production and EU direct payments, according to the the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI)." (The Irish Times)

"Study Says Making Cars Lighter Would Cost Lives" - "DETROIT, Oct. 14 — Federal regulators, poised to overhaul fuel economy rules, released a study on Tuesday that asserts that reducing vehicle weights would have a deadly effect over all. But the study said that putting the heaviest Hummer-size vehicles on diets could save lives." (New York Times)

"Rural guardians warn against unleashing wind power" - "Countryside campaigners warn the government and the renewable energy industry today that relaxation of planning guidelines for onshore wind farms could "devastate" the landscape. But the wind power operators say the problem will not be too many turbines but too few, with financiers refusing to fund new schemes without more government support. "Truly sustainable solutions should mean the public don't have to choose between protecting the landscape they cherish and saving the planet on which they depend," the Campaign to Protect Rural England argues." (The Guardian)

"Gates Funds Nutritious Crops Initiative" - "WASHINGTON - A collaborative effort to get more nutritious food to the world's poor received a $25 million boost from a foundation set up by Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates. HarvestPlus, an alliance of research institutions and agencies, will use the money for a four-year project on biofortification, which crossbreeds crops with high nutritional value and those that are high-yielding and disease resistant, the organization's director, Howarth Bouis, said Tuesday. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said the goal of the initiative is to provide people in poor and developing countries with food already fortified with vitamins and mineral nutrients." (The Associated Press)

"$25m Gates gift to GM project under fire" - "Bill Gates is to donate at least $25m (£14.95m) to research into whether GM food can provide 840 million malnourished people with extra vitamins and micro-nutrients. But the first move by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world's largest private philanthropic organisation, into controversial food biotechnology for developing countries was yesterday criticised by development groups which said the research was "scientifically unnecessary." (The Guardian)

"GM Food And The Eye Of The Beholder" - "Summary: It seems that people most stridently opposed to GM crops are from places in the world where there is an abundance of food. Associate Professor Ian Godwin from the School of Land and Food Sciences at the University of Queensland tells us that wheat was genetically modified by farmers about 6 to 8000 years ago, probably somewhere in the fertile crescent area of what is now Iraq. 2000 years ago other grains were crossed to give us bread wheat and so it went on. There are 800 million or so malnourished people on our planet - is GM food the answer?" (ABC Radio National)

"GM FOODS : Mexican Maize Meets Banned Variety" - "BROOKLIN, Canada, Oct 14 Contamination of Mexico's maize by genetically modified (GM) varieties, including the banned StarLink, is much more widespread than previously reported, according to a new study sponsored by a coalition of indigenous and farmer groups." (IPS)

"Farmers Help Deliver Modified Crops to Brazil" - "SANTO ÂNGELO, Brazil - Brazil's decision in late September to legalize the planting of genetically modified soybeans may have infuriated environmentalists and some in the government, but it has caused much rejoicing and relief in the farming community here in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil's southernmost state, where farmers have been planting transgenic soybeans illegally for years.

Among those celebrating is Rafael Moreno, who for the last four years has been planting and harvesting genetically engineered soybeans on his 1,000-acre farm. "Everybody around here was doing it and it made economic sense, so I did it, too," said Mr. Moreno, 30, a resident of this sleepy town close to the Argentine border.

Such realities and the fact that Brazil - already the world's No. 2 soybean producer, after the United States - is working hard to become an agricultural superpower are crucial factors behind President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's changed stance on the planting of genetically modified crops." (New York Times)

October 14, 2003

"WHO's to Blame?" - "A group of medics recently warned that about 160,000 people die every year from the side-effects of global warming ranging from malaria to heatstroke, and the numbers will probably double by 2020. The experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) presented the study at a major climate conference in Moscow. The lead author, Professor Andrew Haines of the LSHTM, said that climate change was causing more child malarial deaths in developing nations. Furthermore, the changing climate doubtless caused the heat wave that brought 15,000 excess deaths to France this past summer." (Roger Bate, TCS)

"Journal Is Giving Science Back to the People" - "The inaugural issue of a new scientific publication appeared online today, its pages brimming with studies on elephants, biological clocks and thought-controlled robotic arms. Its publishers are hoping it will spark a revolution.

The journal, Public Library of Science Biology, can be read, downloaded and copied free by anyone with Internet access — distinguishing it from the vast majority of scientific journals, which charge annual subscription fees that can run into the thousands of dollars." (Los Angeles Times)

"Food standards body dismisses health scare" - "A health warning over the reuse of plastic soft-drink and water bottles is baseless, says Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). A widely circulating email warns that people can be poisoned through the reuse of the common sipper (PET) bottles." (The Press)

"UC scientists discover plant gene that promotes production of ozone-destroying methyl halides" - "A team of University of California scientists has identified a gene that controls the production by terrestrial plants of methyl halides, gaseous compounds that contribute to the destruction of ozone in the stratosphere." (University of California - San Diego)

"Research Into Changing Weather Is Urged" - "WASHINGTON - From ancient rain ceremonies to 19th century charlatans who fired cannon to bring down water, human attempts to change the weather have been varied and largely unproven.

Hoping to improve understanding of the field, the National Research Council renewed on Tuesday its recommendation for a concentrated research effort into both intentional and accidental weather modification.

Efforts to change the weather, mainly by cloud seeding, are under way in 24 countries and 10 states, but there is no current federally funded research.

It's a paradox, the council said, that while the federal government is unwilling to spend money to determine if and how well weather modification works, private firms and some local governments do spend money to apply unproved technology." (Associated Press)

"Prof discusses climate science’s limits" - "Geologist Henry Pollack said unpredictable social factors can affect scientific predictions.

Hundreds flocked to the St. Paul campus Monday to hear geological expert Henry Pollack discuss the key points of his recent book, “Uncertain Science ... Uncertain World.”

His message to students was the importance of recognizing how unpredictable social factors can affect scientific outlooks. For example, when studying global warming, scientists cannot account for social behavior in the future.

“Uncertainty in predicting climate change is partly a difference of social science uncertainty, and partly climate science,” he said. “There are many aspects to the climate change problem, each with its different uncertainties.” (The Minnesota Daily)

"US firms 'tried to lie' over GM crops, says EU" - "American biotech companies tried to lie to Europe in an attempt to force genetically modified crops upon them, Margot Wallström, the European environment commissioner, said yesterday. Far from developing GM crops to solve the problem of starvation in the world, as they claimed, the biotech companies did so to "solve starvation amongst their shareholders", said the European Union's leading green politician." (Independent)

"Russian indecision over Kyoto treaty" - "MOSCOW: Russia is wavering over whether to approve the Kyoto environmental treaty because of serious worries, not because it is stalling to win more cash, an administration source said today.

President Vladimir Putin dashed environmentalists' hopes two weeks ago by seeming to back away from the Kyoto Protocol, which aims to cut emissions of gases that cause global warming. Russia has the power effectively to veto the treaty.

Many commentators saw Putin's remarks as stalling for time to wring promises of cash investment from the European Union, Russia's top trade partner and a key backer of the pact.

"I do not know how clearly what he said was translated, but judging by the commentaries that appeared the words were interpreted as brinkmanship," the source, who declined to be identified, told reporters.

"This is not a game, it is a very serious question. . .about the theory that (the protocol) is based on, and a number of other questions such as the economic issue." (Reuters)

"Contamination fears to restrict GM crop trials" - "STRINGENT new conditions are to be imposed on any future genetically modified crop trials in Britain as research shows that GM pollen can spread to crops 16 miles away, eight times further than previously thought.

A study also found that after growing GM oilseed rape, it could take a farmer up to 16 years to grow a conventional rape crop that would comply with the maximum 1 per cent GM contamination threshold.

The findings were released by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs just three days before the results of the official farm trials and as about 1,000 anti-GM campaigners protested against the technology in Central London. Opponents of GM crops immediately hailed the findings as proof that the controversial process would damage the environment and dent farm profits." (The Times) | GM crops unlikely to remain contained, study shows (Independent) | Scientists uncover risks in GM oil seed rape (The Guardian)

"Rogue seeds infect more GM crop fields" - " MORE fields of genetically-modified crops in Scotland were found to be contaminated with rogue seeds, the Scottish Executive said yesterday. The discovery of further evidence of unauthorised GM material led campaigners to demand the prosecution of the German company that supplies the seeds. " (The Herald)

"[New Zealand] Scientists working on GE spuds" - "A pest-resistant potato crop could be one of the first ready for commercial release when the GE moratorium is lifted at the end of the month. The potatoes are genetically modified with a bacteria which makes the leaves toxic to moth pests. But scientists working on the Christchurch crop say it may still be years before the potatoes make it onto shop shelves." (One News)

"Fear GM is creating anti-science nation" - "The country's top scientist says campaigners against genetic modification have created a climate of "anti-science" in New Zealand." (New Zealand Herald)

"Scientist dismisses fear of GM 'superweed'" - "New Zealand can have no fears that superweeds will be created from cross-pollination between genetically modified rape crops and weeds, according to a Crop and Food Research scientist." (The Dominion Post)

"Stronger Stuff: Transgenics Can Help In Biofortifcation Of Foods" - "HYDERABAD: While research activities in agri-biotechnology and transgenics to improve resistance in crop varieties are gaining momentum, the tools for transgenics or rDNA (recombinant DNA) technology has opened up newer areas for research, such as biofortification of foods.

Transgenics or genetic variability is the basic raw material for all breeding programmes and the next generation in transgenics research includes enhanced nutritional content, functional foods and phytoceuticals, plant-derived plastics and polymers and plant-based vaccines, according to Dr William D Dar, director general of International Crops Research Institute for Semi Arid Tropics (Icrisat), Hyderabad." (Financial Express)

October 13, 2003

"Shots in the Dark: Gun control's shaky empirical foundation" - "In November 1988 The New England Journal of Medicine published a study that noted Seattle's homicide rate was higher than Vancouver's and attributed the difference to stricter gun control in Vancouver. Although the study had serious flaws, including the failure to take into account important demographic differences between the two cities, it received generous coverage in two major newspapers known for their sympathy to gun control." (Jacob Sullum, Reason)

"Typical Greenpeace Protest Leads to an Unusual Prosecution" - "Three miles off the Florida coast in April of 2002, two Greenpeace activists clambered from an inflatable rubber speedboat onto a cargo ship. They were detained before they could unfurl a banner, spent the weekend in custody and two months later were sentenced to time served for boarding the ship without permission. It was a routine act of civil disobedience until, 15 months after the incident, federal prosecutors in Miami indicted Greenpeace itself for authorizing the boarding. The group says the indictment represents a turning point in the history of American dissent. "Never before has our government criminally prosecuted an entire organization for the free speech activities of its supporters," said John Passacantando, the executive director of Greenpeace in the United States." (New York Times)

"FBI Sets Manhunt for California Vegan Bombing Suspect" - "SAN FRANCISCO - A California vegan activist is the prime suspect in recent bombings at offices of biotech company Chiron Corp. and Shaklee Corp., a maker of cosmetics and household products, the FBI said. Federal agents are searching for Daniel Andreas San Diego, 25, who is believed to have been involved in planting explosives at the two companies' offices to protest product testing on animals, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation." (Reuters)

"Of human frights" - "One of the favourite targets of the scaremongers is popular medications; and the more popular they are the harder they go for them. One of the reasons that real science does not accept RRs of less than three (or greater than 0.3) is the question of confounding factors. One confounding factor they like to ignore in this area is embodied in the assumption that it is the treatment and not the disease that is the cause." (Number Watch)

"Sierra Glaciers in Rapid Retreat" - "At the same time, ice slabs at Mt. Shasta have grown. A warming trend is responsible for both developments, researchers say." (Los Angeles Times)

"Get ready - the water's rising" - "It is the time of year when flooding issues rise rapidly up the agenda. The Environment Agency launches its annual flood awareness campaign on Tuesday. It is impossible to predict what will happen this year - but, in the worst scenarios, some homes will already be flooded by the end of October.

'I have no doubt that we will see some flooding this year,' says David Ross of insurer Norwich Union.

An estimated 1.7 million households are located in floodplains - with up to 200,000 of them thought to face a one in 75 chance of flooding (a once-in-a-lifetime risk), according to the insurance industry." (The Observer)

Let's see, floodplains are so named because... they fly over floods? No? Why are they called that...

From The New Sensationalist, complete with threatening 'superweeds': "Global warming to put gardens in bloom" - "Gardens across Europe and North America are set to bloom as global warming gathers pace, causing plant growth to dramatically accelerate.

Favourites from roses to rhododendrons will grow to unprecedented sizes and produce earlier and more abundant flowers. Autumn will become a new flowering season as gardens come to life after summer droughts, and winter flower beds are likely to be a riot of colour. Peach trees could even come to replace apples in northern gardens, and grape vines will flourish much further north than they do today.

Depending on how green your fingers are, this may strike you as either gardening utopia or a scene from John Wyndham's sci-fi classic The Day of the Triffids, in which giant plants take over the world. Either way, our backyards are in for a makeover courtesy of global warming, a conference in New England was told this week." (New Scientist)

"Early Bloomers" - "A 2001 study by the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History entitled "Earlier Plant Flowering as a Response to Global Warming in the Washington, DC, Area" indicated that flowers were now blooming earlier in the Washington DC area. The study compared conditions in 1970 with those in the present. Of 100 flower species studied, 89 of them were blooming earlier in the spring today than they were in 1970. Of course, as the title of the study states, this was directly attributed to `global warming'. " (Willis Eschenbach, Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

Oh dear... "We can do something about fierce weather" - "Climate: Droughts and killer storms are worsening as temperatures worldwide rise and energy use increases." (The Baltimore Sun)

"European heatwave caused 35,000 deaths" - "At least 35,000 people died as a result of the record heatwave that scorched Europe in August 2003, says an environmental think tank. The Earth Policy Institute (EPI), based in Washington DC, warns that such deaths are likely to increase, as "even more extreme weather events lie ahead." (NewScientist.com news service)

"U.S. government encourages nonprofits to study air pollution, disease link" - "WASHINGTON (Oct. 10 ) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences are inviting nonprofit institutions to apply for funding to study the role of particulate matter in cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States." (wastenews.com)

"Scientists Dispute Organic Farming Study" - "Researchers at the Rodale Institute in Kutztown say a long-term study has shown organic farming practices help retain carbon in the soil, improving soil quality and helping to prevent global warming. But two outside researchers have questioned the institute's findings, saying that conventional farming practices also can achieve ``carbon sequestration'' and that the numbers cited in the report far exceed those from other published studies. Scientists generally agree that ``carbon sequestration,'' or the retention of carbon in soil and organic matter, is a worthwhile goal. In addition to reducing carbon-dioxide levels that can contribute to global warming, soil rich in carbon is more productive and helps to retain moisture." (The Associated Press)

"[Editorial] Genetically Modified Food and the Poor" - "The real crime of genetic modification is not its risks but that it is squandering its promise, widening the gap between rich and poor." (New York Times)

"Flawed GM tests must start over" - "Test results expected to lead to the commercial production of genetically modified maize are invalid, said the former minister who set them up. An EU ban on a weed killer called atrazine means the three-year tests must start again, said former environment minister Michael Meacher. The results due on Thursday were expected to suggest weed killers used in GM farming were more eco-friendly. A government spokesman denied the ban meant the tests were flawed." (BBC News Online)

"[UK] How GM crop trials were rigged" - "In truth the GM trials, whose results will be reported on Thursday, were always more political than scientific. And their impact - despite being the biggest experiments of their kind conducted anywhere in the world - will be felt most in Whitehall, Westminster and the often disconcertingly plush offices of the big environmental pressure groups." (Independent on Sunday)

"[New Zealand] Anti-GM protesters to continue campaign" - "Anti-GM protesters do not plan to stop their fight once the Government's genetic modification moratorium is lifted on October 29, but refuse to reveal what they have in store. Police estimated about 15,000 marched in Auckland on Saturday, in one of several anti-GM marches around New Zealand. Organisers said the number of protesters in Auckland was closer to 35,000. Another 1500 people marched in Wellington." (The Dominion Post)

"[New Zealand] Legal bid to extend GE moratorium" - "A late legal challenge has been made to the Waitangi Tribunal to stop the lifting of the GE moratorium. Lawyers representing two groups of claimants made a late application to the tribunal on Friday to have their case against the release of GE heard before the moratorium is lifted." (Sunday Star-Times)

"[New Zealand] No chance of changing GE policy, Clark says" - "Prime Minister Helen Clark says the Government is not going to change its genetic engineering policy despite protests at the weekend." (NZPA)

"[New Zealand] Push on with genetic engineering, Wrightson urges" - "Rural services giant Wrightson used the platform of its annual meeting yesterday to issue a stern edict to the Government - do not back down on lifting the GE moratorium. In a highly political speech timed less than three weeks before the moratorium is lifted, chairman John Palmer said scaremongering and misinformation had caused the public to be woefully ill-informed on GE." (New Zealand Herald)

"[New Zealand] GE releases may endanger native life, says researcher" - "This month's expiry of the moratorium on commercial release of genetically engineered organisms will place native flora and fauna at risk, says a Maori researcher." (NZPA)

"LATIN AMERICA : The Conquest of Transgenic Crops" - "MEXICO CITY, Oct 11 - Genetically modified crops already cover more than 18 million hectares in Latin America, promoted by a handful of transnational corporations that impose prices and conditions, while the debate about their cultivation, trade and consumption is charged with threats, lawsuits and cash." (Tierramérica)

October 10, 2003

"Global Warming Litigation Heating Up" - "No one knows for sure whether the Earth’s climate is changing appreciably or whether any such change is due to humans. One thing that certainly is heating up, though, is the global warming litigation environment." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"States take the lead on global warming" - "Ten states are set to up the environmental ante, suing administration for tighter energy controls." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"U.S. Committed to Addressing Climate Change Challenge, Official Says" - "The United States takes the issue of climate change very seriously and remains committed to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change," said Harlan Watson, the State Department's senior climate negotiator, in a speech at the European Policy Center in Brussels October 8.

Disagreeing with what he said was the perception in Europe that the United States been acting "unilaterally" in its approach to climate change because of its rejection of the Kyoto Protocol, Watson said the United States is "actively engaged, both domestically and internationally -- and in particular with several EU Member States and the European Commission -- in a number of new climate change initiatives." (Washington File)

"Global Warming Shakeup in Moscow" - "Events at a recent scientific conference in Moscow represent an important and dramatic change in the worldwide debate over global warming. Several distinguished scientists who spoke at the World Climate Change Conference in Moscow last week shattered claims that the science is settled and any consensus that the Kyoto Protocol would serve any useful purpose." (Competitive Enterprise Institute)

"Analysis: Why Russia won't ratify Kyoto" - "WASHINGTON, Oct. 9 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement last week that his nation would not be ratifying the Kyoto protocol any time soon has sent environmental alarmists into shock and denial. They appear to have decided that this is merely a bargaining ploy by the Russians, looking for more concessions -- bribes, in other words -- from the West before the inevitable ratification. They could not be more wrong. It makes no economic sense for Russia to ratify Kyoto. The president's comments pay merely lip service to a European obsession. President Putin is no more likely to ratify Kyoto than is President Bush." (Iain Murray, UPI)

"Melting glaciers threaten Peru" - "Thousands of people in the Andes mountains of Peru are having their lives affected in both a practical and cultural way by global warming, which is causing the region's glaciers to melt. This is already having a major impact of some aspects of life for the people who live in the mountains - and the government of the country is worried that the situation could get much worse. In the last three decades Peruvian glaciers have lost almost a quarter of their area." (BBC News Online)

"Flu Misery and Myths" - "Most nursery rhymes may say little to us about history and present dangers. But this one, dating back to the horrific flu pandemic of 1918-1919, reminds us that influenza is highly infectious and can fly across the country with the speed of a bird. It's a reminder to get vaccinated against a preventable disease that reaps over 35,000 American lives a year." (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

"NIH told regular and moderate exposure to sunlight is the key to preventing chronic disease" - "The researcher who discovered the active form of Vitamin D, Dr. Michael F. Holick, a Professor of Medicine, Dermatology, Physiology and Biophysics at the Boston University School of Medicine, told the National Institutes of Health's symposium on "Vitamin D and Health in the 21st Century" that the nation faces "severe Vitamin D deficiency" which, if not properly addressed, will have profound far reaching health consequences." (Strategic Communications)

"Air pollution may increase stroke risk" - "High pollution levels may make people more susceptible to stroke, according to a report in today's rapid access issue of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association." (American Heart Association)

"Fat Wallets" - "On a recent NBC news broadcast, John Banzhaf -- the lawyer behind big tobacco settlements and currently trailblazing litigation against food companies -- declared, "Five of these so-called fat lawsuits have already been won." He continued to claim five wins at a conference on obesity at Boston University on October 3rd." (Sandy Szwarc, TCS)

"EPA's Space Odyssey" - "Many have already forgotten the relentless eco-babble and the environmental policy excesses that emanated from Vice-President Al Gore's office during the Clinton years. After then-Secretary of State Warren Christopher announced that environmental concerns henceforth would be "in the mainstream of American foreign policy" -- co-equal with national security and economic issues in U.S. foreign relations -- Gore enlisted the resources of the intelligence community. John Deutch, director of the CIA and the coordinator of all U.S. intelligence activities, signed on. "I intend to make sure that 'environmental intelligence' remains in the mainstream of U.S. intelligence activities. Even in times of declining budgets we will support policymakers." (Too bad he didn't pay more attention to anti-terrorism intelligence.)" (Henry I. Miller, TCS)

"Study reveals first evidence that GM superweeds exist" - "Cross-pollination between GM plants and their wild relatives is inevitable and could create hybrid superweeds resistant to the most powerful weedkillers, according to the first national study of how genes pass from crops to weeds. Its findings will raise concerns about the impact of GM crops. Next week the results will be published of farm-scale trials which have studied the impact on the countryside of three types of crop." (Independent)

"[UK] Milk returned in protest" - "SHOPPERS at Ripley Sainsbury's returned their fresh milk after being informed by Greenpeace that they'd unknowingly bought genetically modified milk. Local Greenpeace campaigners talked to customers last Saturday September 27, and offered to exchange what they described as genetically modified milk for the organic alternative, free of charge. Greenpeace said: "Customers were unaware that the supermarket gets its dairy produce from cows fed on American genetically modified maize." Janet Miller from Greenpeace said: "The response was good. We set up an exchange point at the store entrance and just told people where their milk comes from." (Ripley Today)

October 9, 2003

"Canadian forest fires affect mercury levels in the northeastern United States" - "Fires in the Canadian boreal forest may be contributing significant amounts of mercury to the atmosphere above the northeastern United States. New research from scientists at Yale and Harvard shows that a huge fire in northern Quebec in July 2002 sent a pulse of mercury to a site in rural Massachusetts, providing clear evidence that mercury was transported over long distances in the resulting plume of smoke." (American Chemical Society)

"Misinformed missteps on warming" - "There are few things more dangerous than a misinformed politician seeking to enact a politically correct regulation or legislation.

And there is nothing quite like presumed global warming to provoke politicians and journalists (and even some scientists) into expressing incoherent hysteria and alarm. A perfect example of both is the recent action by the mayors of Newton and Worcester, Mass., to curb global warming." (Richard S. Lindzen, The Washington Times)

"US, Europe still at odds over climate change: official" - "Europe and the United States still have a basic disagreement over how to counter global warming, a senior US official said Wednesday.

US climate negotiator Harlan Watson meanwhile said Washington was "indifferent" as to whether Russia signs the Kyoto protocol limiting green house gases, since the United States will in any case not change its policy.

"We're not trying to encourage or discourage Russia or any other nation with regard to the Kyoto protocol.. we made our choice based on international circumstances and it's up to each country to decide what to do," he said.

The US official said that Europe and America remained at odds over the "precautionary principle" -- that of agreeing to take action to head off a problem, without necessarily having all the evidence." (EUbusiness)

"Wheat: Out with the new, in with the old" - "In science, the old sometimes works as well as the new. Throw politics into the mix and the old starts to look a whole lot better. That's what appears to be happening with wheat breeders and their battle against a huge nemesis: the Hessian fly. It turns out that scientists have found the genes needed to make wheat more resistant to the plant-eating insect. The big question is how they get those genes into the wheat: through traditional plant breeding or genetic engineering? The experience in wheat is an example of the renaissance of plant breeding and could lead to better food without the politics." (The Christian Science Monitor)

October 8, 2003

Conspiracy theory du jour: "Are nukes making you fat?" - "Is America's nuclear policy making you fat? This is a deadly serious question. Nuclear materials emit radioactive iodine, which has been linked with thyroid damage. Thyroid disorders, recently discovered to occur twice as frequently as previously believed, are linked with weight gain. Therefore, this question: is U.S. nuclear policy adding inches to our waistlines?" (Penney Kome, Rabble News)

It's really very simple. The ability to store energy as fat is an evolved starvation defence. The recipe for fat is lack of calorie stress. In times of plenty, "spare" energy is banked as fat (weight gain), in times of deficit, reserves are drawn down (weight loss). [Those having difficulty with this should read slower - tricky part coming] Modern agriculture, transport infrastructure, processing and storage mean that we never have seasons of deficit (that means there's always plenty of affordable food available in our society). Perpetual time of plenty, plus evolved starvation defence, means we are always able to "bank" energy (add to fat deposits) but never need to draw on those reserves and that is the recipe for lard butt.

The magic formula for weight loss is: inducing an energy deficit over a sustained period (that means eating less, exercising more or some combination thereof).

The really cool part is that both recipes, lard butt and weight loss, work at all background radiation levels observed in residential areas.

"Asthmatic children react to "moderate" pollution" - "WASHINGTON - Children with severe asthma start suffering from symptoms even at what are now considered to be acceptable levels of air pollution, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday. Ozone, created by traffic, industry and oil refining, among other processes, is the prime offender, the researchers write in this week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. A study of 271 children with asthma living in Connecticut and Massachusetts showed those with the worst asthma started to suffer from shortness of breath, coughing and chest tightness at "good" air quality levels, as designated by the Environmental Protection Agency." (Reuters)

Interestingly, Exposure to low-level ozone exacerbates asthma (Reuters Health) specifically states that particulate levels were not associated.

"Kyoto breakthrough" - "Momentous happenings at the World Climate Conference in Moscow last week. World-shaking, one might say. After haggling about the minutiae of the Kyoto Protocol for the past six years, just how to control emissions of carbon dioxide from energy generation, it may all go down the drain in one big swoosh.

Of course, they won't let the Kyoto process itself die. Not if the United Nations bureaucracy can help it, plus the delegates from 180 nations who were so looking forward to carefree, taxpayer-supported careers attending continuous climate conferences in fancy locations. Expect to see the launch of a successor, the "son of Kyoto," — tough-sounding but equally ineffective." (S. Fred Singer, The Washington Times)

This week from CO 2 Science Magazine:

"The Role of Religion in the CO 2 Emissions Reduction Debate" - "Is there a place for religion in the heated debate over what to do about the ongoing rise in the air's CO 2 content?  You bet there is.  But it cannot be separated from the scientific quest for truth; nor can it be so narrowly focused as to not consider all factors pertaining to futurity and the ultimate welfare of both man and nature." (co2science.org)

Book Review:
"Climate Alarmism Reconsidered" - "A couple of weeks ago, Robert Bradley, President of the Institute for Energy Research in Houston, Texas, and a senior research fellow at the University of Houston, contacted us regarding a new book of which he is the author -- Climate Alarmism Reconsidered.  Recognizing the topic of his book to be of potential interest to readers of CO 2 Science Magazine, we reproduce here the book's Back Cover Points, Table of Contents and Introduction with Robert's permission.  We invite you to read this material and consider purchasing Robert's book, which is available from Laissez-Faire Books." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries"
"Little Ice Age (Regional: Asia)" - "From the shifting snows of Siberia to the sandy shores of the Arabian and South China Seas, evidence for the occurrence of the Little Ice Age in Asia is everywhere." (co2science.org)

"Soil Water Status (Field Studies)" - "Several field studies of the effects of atmospheric CO 2 enrichment on soil water status suggest that the historical rise in the air's CO 2 content should have increased the soil water contents of the world's terrestrial ecosystems; and a vast array of soil moisture data from around the globe indicates that that is precisely what has happened." (co2science.org)

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Barley, Pristine Tallgrass Prairie, Spring Wheat and Winter Wheat. (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"Extreme Precipitation Events in the United States" - "Have they followed the supposedly unprecedented warming trend of the last century or so, increasing in frequency in an equally unprecedented manner?  Or are they not much different now from what they were a hundred years ago?

"Extreme Floods of Central Europe" - "Are they getting worse or more frequent in response to global warming … CO 2 -induced or otherwise?" (co2science.org)

"Future Wheat Production in the Midwestern United States" - "How will it fare if the world warms as climate alarmists predict it will?" (co2science.org)

"Stomatal Frequency Responses of Conifer Needles to Atmospheric CO 2 Enrichment" - "How do they compare with those of woody angiosperm leaves?" (co2science.org)

"Direct Biological Effects of Elevated CO 2 on Coral Reefs" - "A study of CO 2 effects on macroalgae seeks to determine if the ongoing rise in the air's CO 2 content will tip the scales in favor of macroalgae over corals in the struggle for reef dominance in the years ahead." (co2science.org)

"French vandals destroy hopes" - "MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay There is no way of knowing how many children and young adults may die because some anti-biotechnology radicals destroyed a plot of pharmaceutical corn in France in August. Maybe none will die; maybe thousands will. One thing is certain: Much needed research has been delayed because of this treacherous vandalism, and desperately ill people cannot tolerate delays. The destroyed corn contained a pharmaceutical protein that holds great promise to treat one aspect of cystic fibrosis. Around the world, tens of thousands suffer from the disease, and each year thousands die as we desperately hope for a cure. In developed nations, the average lifespan of someone with cystic fibrosis is about 34 years." (IHT)

"Let a thousand GM crops bloom" - "HU VILLAGE, Henan Province, China In this small village in the heart of China's major cotton growing region, Zhang Yumei used to spend long summer days spraying toxic chemicals on cotton plants to prevent bollworms from chewing up her harvest. That was the only method she had available to combat the scourge - until she began planting a new genetically modified cotton variety that could do most of the job for her.

The novel cotton, known as Bt cotton, produces a substance that mimics the pesticide's effects. Farmers like Zhang now are not only better able to protect their health, but have also found time to pursue off-farm jobs or even start their own businesses.

Despite such early success stories, the future of genetically modified crops in China remains uncertain. China's biotech industry has burgeoned against a backdrop of increasing global speculation on the health and safety risks involved in planting and consuming genetically modified crops. Mindful of these concerns, China's health and environmental regulators have become hesitant to approve many GM crops - especially food crops - for large-scale commercial planting. Part of the concern is whether gene altered crops will be accepted in EU countries where public opposition has persuaded governments to ban genetically modified products." (IHT)

"No insurance cover for GM crops that 'could be like thalidomide'" - "The major agricultural insurance companies are refusing to insure farmers who intend to grow genetically modified crops, according to a survey that deals a further blow to Government hopes of approving at least one crop for commercial cultivation next year. The survey, conducted by working farmer members of Farm, a campaign group, found insurance companies unwilling to take on the risk of liability claims against farmers who grew GM crops." (Daily Telegraph, UK)

"How great is hybridisation risk?" - "07/10/03 - A corner stone of the current GM debate in Europe, as elsewhere, is the impact that genetically modified crops might have on their wild neighbours. Researchers in the UK claim to have come up with the right strategy to assess hybridisation risk." (FoodNavigator.com)

October 7, 2003

"Japan Reports New Form of Mad Cow Disease" - "TOKYO - A cow identified by Japanese experts as having mad cow disease has a new form of the ailment, farm minister Yoshiyuki Kamei told reporters Tuesday. Farm and health officials are puzzled over a Holstein cow which the Health Ministry said Monday had tested positive for mad cow disease, Japan's eighth case since September 2001. The ministry said Monday that the 23-month-old cow in Ibaraki prefecture, north of Tokyo, had an ``unusual'' form of the brain-wasting ailment, formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). Kamei told reporters: ``This is a new type of BSE, and we need to talk to experts and study this case thoroughly in order to get to the bottom of how it happened.'' (Reuters)

"U.S. Wants to Expand Farm Use of Methyl Bromide" - "NEW YORK, Oct 4 Methyl bromide, a hazardous pesticide that the industrialised world must phase out by 2005, could get a new lease on life if the George W. Bush administration has its way at a United Nations meeting next month." (Tierramérica)

"Adrift on the Seas of Knowledge, McCain and Lieberman try climate change" - "Senators John McCain (R., Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (D., Conn.) are deeply concerned about the issue of global climate change. So much so that they are cosponsoring the Climate Stewardship Act in the Senate this month, a Kyoto-like measure which would impose extra costs on greenhouse-gas-emitting industries such as energy and manufacturing, and will set up a whole new welfare agency to compensate those whose heating costs go up as a result." (Iain Murray, NRO)

"Decline in oceans' phytoplankton alarms scientists" - "Plant life covering the surface of the world's oceans, a vital resource that helps absorb the worst of the "greenhouse gases" involved in global warming, is disappearing at a dangerous rate, scientists have discovered.

Satellites and seagoing ships have confirmed the diminishing productivity of the microscopic plants, which oceanographers say is most striking in the waters of the North Pacific -- ranging as far up as the high Arctic.

Whether the lost productivity of the plants, called phytoplankton, is directly due to increased ocean temperatures that have been recorded for at least the past 20 years remains part of an extremely complex puzzle, says Watson W. Gregg, a NASA biologist at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., but it surely offers a fresh clue to the controversy over climate change." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Alaska's not-so-permanent frost" - "With winters warming eight degrees in three decades, Alaskans face a strange new landscape." (The Christian Science Monitor)

See Still Waiting For Greenhouse for commentary on the New York Times' equally ridiculous item.

"Pete Hodgson: Uncertainty doesn't mean paralysis" - "Uncertainty is often deployed as an excuse for inaction and it has become the mantra of those who oppose the Kyoto Protocol - or indeed any attempt to do something about climate change. Now it is said that there is fresh uncertainty about the viability of the protocol, arising from renewed speculation about whether Russia will ratify the treaty." (New Zealand Herald)

"Simon Carlaw: A nyet from Russia to NZ's benefit" - "The Kyoto Protocol has always been a flawed agreement. If it goes ahead - now a big "if" - it is unlikely to achieve much except constrain growth and place big chunks of the economy under central command. The benefits, if any, to be gained from the protocol will be dwarfed by the costs of imposing it." (New Zealand Herald)

"UCI study uncovers unexpectedly high air pollutant levels in southwest states" - "Atmospheric scientists have found that greenhouse gases released from oil and natural gas exploration and processing in Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas create regional air pollution levels similar to those found in large urban centers elsewhere in the United States." (University of California - Irvine)

"Fuel Cell Cars Will Make Hybrids Obsolete, GM Says" - "TOKYO - Less than a week after its biggest Japanese rival touted the economic and ecological benefits of hybrids, General Motors made a case of its own yesterday: only hydrogen-fueled cars will survive in the endgame." (Reuters)

"You have to be green to swallow the organic food myth" - "The Soil Association called yesterday for schools to provide organic meals. If you think this sounds wholesome, you are conning yourself. Every TV chef and lifestyle magazine tells us that organic food tastes better and is safer than other food. Supermarkets promote it and the Government subsidises farmers to grow it. Britain would, we are told, be healthier and our countryside would once again prosper if only we all went organic.

In fact the craze for organic food is built on myth. It starts with a scientific howler, has rules with neither rhyme nor reason, none of the claims made for it have ever been substantiated and if it grows, it will damage the nation’s health." (Dick Taverne, The Times) -- Subscription required outside UK

[Lord Taverne is chairman of Sense About Science]

"Children as policy pawns" - "As in many other public health false alarms, NGOs' condemnation of the new biotechnology — also known as gene splicing, genetic engineering, or genetic modification (GM) — is less about real concern for children's health than about environmental activists' willingness to exploit children's issues for their own benefit." (Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko, The Washington Times)

"Opening Up to Genetically Modified Crops; Vatican Prepares Statement as National Debates Continue" - "ROME, OCT. 4, 2003- The long-running debate over genetically modified crops is being examined by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Interest in what will be Rome's position on the subject is running high. Last summer the Italian newspaper La Stampa ran a series of articles on the matter, starting with an Aug. 3 story that said the Vatican was opening up to the idea of approving genetically modified crops.

The paper quoted the president of Justice and Peace, Archbishop Renato Martino, as saying that it is imperative to find a way to bring food to those who are starving. He also warned against taking extremist, ideologically based positions on the question, affirming the need for rigorous scientific examination of the subject." (Zenit.org)

"[UK] Force-fed a diet of hype" - "The verdict of the market means nothing to the GM industry and its government friends" (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

Letters of the moment: "Lawnmower threat to biodiversity" (The Guardian)

October 6, 2003

New, 'must-see' blog: "EnviroSpin Watch" - "A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient." (GreenSpin)

"Scientists take on the publishers in an experiment to make research free to all" - "In the highly lucrative world of cutting-edge scientific research, it is nothing short of a revolution. A group of leading scientists are to mount an unprecedented challenge to the publishers that lock away the valuable findings of research in expensive, subscription-only electronic databases by launching their own journal to give away results for free." (The Guardian)

"Diet and exercise 'do not affect' cholesterol" - "Exercise and a healthy diet are almost a waste of time for people with high cholesterol, a leading cardiologist claimed yesterday. After presenting research that showed even patients who were treated with drugs were struggling to bring their cholesterol levels down, Dr Adrian Brady, a consultant cardiologist, said lifestyle changes were not enough to tackle the problem. He said cholesterol-reducing drugs should be used more regularly and more effectively." (Independent)

"A Costly Obsession" - "What if after a 25-year moratorium, the government decided you could finally sell your house? The catch: It would falsely claim it has termites, is haunted, and is infested with rats larger than an obese cocker spaniel." (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

"Cigarette giant to deny cancer link" - "A giant British tobacco company is to take the unprecedented step this week of denying there is a proven causal link between smoking and lung cancer in the first case against a cigarette firm to go to a UK court. The unique defence, to be heard in Scotland's Court of Session, refutes decades of scientific proof of such a link, which was accepted by the Government in 1957." (The Observer)

"EU Scientists Legalize Controversial Herbicide" - "BRUSSELS - EU scientists agreed on Friday to legalize the controversial herbicide paraquat, to the fury of environmentalists who insist the chemical is acutely toxic for both humans and animals. "There was a vote and it was passed, so the European Commission can now adopt it (as a regulation). The Nordic states voted against...but there will be a lot of conditions," said an official at the EU's executive Commission. Paraquat became widely known when it was sprayed on Latin American marijuana fields in the 1970s as a defoliant. It is currently authorized as a weedkiller in 10 EU member states but Friday's ruling makes its use legal across the bloc." (Reuters)

"Duluth News Tribune | 10 04 2003 | Ozone hole lasting longer than usual" - "GENEVA - The ozone hole over the South Pole, as large as it has ever been, is also lasting longer this year, heightening concern about harmful ultraviolet radiation reaching the Earth, the United Nations' weather organization said Friday.

Compounding matters, the thinnest area is the largest ever measured, about two-thirds of the hole's total size, the World Meteorological Organization said.

"The ozone hole is getting larger, deeper and is lasting longer," said Michael Proffitt, a leading expert on the ozone hole at the U.N. agency. "It has never stayed this large, this late."

The "hole" is a thinner-than-normal area in the protective layer of gas high in the earth's atmosphere. It has formed in August every year since the mid-1980s, largely because of chemical pollution." (Associated Press)

What a bunch of hooey! It is frequently alleged that the "ozone hole" (actually a seasonal thinning of stratospheric ozone in the South Polar region and not a "hole" at all) was "discovered" in the 1980s, subsequent to significant use of anthropogenic chlorinated fluorocarbons in the 1960s through 1980s. This is simply not true.

Atmospheric ozone is measured in Dobson Units, named for the Oxford academic Gordon Miller Bourne Dobson (1889-1976), one of the pioneers of atmospheric ozone research and inventor of the Dobson Spectrophotometer, used to measure atmospheric ozone from the ground. During the International Geophysical Year of 1956 there was a significant increase in the number of these devices in use around the globe and the Halley Bay (Antarctica) anomaly was discovered. Yes, that's 1956, three decades prior to the allegedly alarming "discovery." There was a significantly different perspective then because interest was focussed on the November increase  - now called a "recovery" - in stratospheric ozone levels over Antarctica with the collapse of the South Polar Vortex.

In a paper titled "Forty Years' Research on Atmospheric Ozone at Oxford: A History" (Applied Optics, March 1968), Dobson described an ozone monitoring program that began at Halley Bay in 1956.

When the data began to arrive, "the values in September and October 1956 were about 150 [Dobson] units lower than expected. ... In November the ozone values suddenly jumped up to those expected. ... It was not until a year later, when the same type of annual variation was repeated, that we realized that the early results were indeed correct and that Halley Bay showed a most interesting difference from other parts of the world." [em added - so much for UN claims of the "hole" 'lasting longer', by my calendar it's but early October, so this appears little changed from half a century past. Cause for hand-wringing?]

Although South Polar temperatures do not appear to have been quite as low in 1957-58 as they have in recent years (a critical factor in ozone destruction) Rigaud and Leroy [Annales Geophysicae (November, 1990)] reported levels as low as 110DU observed at the French Antarctic Observatory at Dumont d'Urville [opposite side of the South Pole from Halley Bay] in the spring of '58. The South Polar Vortex, where ozone destruction is greatest, was reportedly centred over Dumont d'Urville that year, which suggests any observed differences may be well within the bounds of normal variability.

Is the "hole" a new phenomenon? Apparently not - it's existed as long as anyone has paid significant attention to stratospheric ozone levels in the region and quite possibly for millennia before that.

Is it of any particular significance to humans? Probably not - unless you intend sunbathing in South Polar regions in September. Even so, you would be risking (besides frostbite) sunburn but apparently not an increased melanoma risk, which is believed associated with UVA exposure and UVA, as every schoolboy knows, is not absorbed by ozone.

"Bjørn Lomborg: Environmentalist who exposed the Greens" - "With cruel rains and unforgiving storms walloping much of the country over the past week, the average New Zealander might be forgiven for wondering what has become of the much-ballyhooed greenhouse effect, which was supposed to be turning even the most miserable of winter periods into a sunny oasis.

Bjørn Lomborg, executive director of the Danish Institute of Environmental Assessment and an associate professor in the department of political science at the University of Aarhus, in Denmark, doesn't wonder anymore." (National Business Review)

"At the end of our weather" - "On an epic, sometimes hazardous, personal mission, Mark Lynas travelled the world for three years in search of climate change. In this powerful journal, he describes a planet where global warming is not a distant prospect - it is here and now." (The Observer)

"Climate talks end without result" - "The World Climate Change Conference in Moscow has ended inconclusively - and with bad-tempered recriminations directed at its organisers, the Russian Government." (BBC News Online)

"Russia balks at ratifying treaty" - "MOSCOW - President Vladimir Putin cast new doubts Friday on Moscow's willingness to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on curbing greenhouse-gas emissions, saying the pact will fail to achieve its goal of fighting global warming. "Even 100 percent compliance won't reverse climate change," he told a conference organized by the World Economic Forum. Putin noted ongoing disputes between scientists over the pact, which without Russia's backing cannot come into existence." (Associated Press)

"States Plan Suit to Prod U.S. on Global Warming" - "DETROIT, Oct. 3 — California plans to sue the Environmental Protection Agency over the Bush administration's recent decision that the agency lacked the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from tailpipes and other sources, state regulators said on Friday.

Nine other states, including New York, Massachusetts and Oregon, as well as environmental groups like the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council, are expected to join the suit. The legal strategy, an effort to prod federal action on global warming, sets up a battle between the Bush administration and the states over policy on climate change.

In California, the suit is also seen as an effort to stave off challenges to the state's plan to regulate automotive emissions of greenhouse gases." (New York Times)

"'The Discovery of Global Warming': Living in the Greenhouse" - "Eureka moments are rare in science. Achievements like the deduction of DNA's structure etch our imagination precisely because they are exceptional. In most fields, research is more akin to climbing a mist-shrouded mountain of unknown dimensions. Climate science, perhaps above all, has been a perpetual ascent toward understanding. A major achievement so far is a broad consensus that beginning in the industrial era humans, by burning ancient buried stores of carbon-rich coal and oil, have liberated billions of tons of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, warming earth.

Debate persists over the extent of human-driven warming and what to do about it. But recognition that in a short span our species has nudged the thermostat of a planet remains a momentous, and sobering, finding." (Andrew Revkin, New York Times)

"[Japan] Government to develop more efficient thermal generator" - "The Education, Science and Technology Ministry and the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry have decided to jointly develop technology in hopes of creating the world's most energy-efficient thermal power generator, according to sources.

The eight-year plan will begin next fiscal year, the sources said. In cooperation with the private sector, the ministries aim to develop a heat-resistant material--the key to improving thermal efficiency. The ministries hope to dramatically improve thermal efficiency from the current level of 30-40 percent to 60 percent, which would be the world's highest." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

"Power struggle" - "A forest of wind turbines is spreading across some of the most beautiful areas of Britain in a green energy revolution. Many critics say they are an ugly blot - and others believe they are an ill-conceived answer to a long-term problem. Ed Douglas reports" (The Observer)

"[UK] How Lakeland wind farm plan has environmentalists in a spin" - "On maps, you can already see it: a circle, almost a collar, clearly beginning to take shape on the borders of Britain's largest and most visited national park, the Lake District. It is a circle of steel, consisting of wind farms, working and planned: congregations of enormous windmills set on hilltops where they can catch the wind to produce electricity, and which are visible for miles." (Independent)

"[Precautionary Principle] Managing risk, the best approach for Europe?" - "03/10/03 - Precautionary principle expert Professor Ortwin Renn told participants in a lunch debate on 1 October that policy makers and scientists should use one of five risk management regimes to deal with scientific risk, reports CORDIS.

Speaking in the European Parliament at an event organised by AllChemE, Europe's chemistry and chemical engineering alliance, Professor Renn presented the results of EU funded research on the precautionary principle, a topic that has been the subject of debate since the publication of a Commission communication on the concept in 2000." (FoodNavigator.com)

"Philippines announces Vatican's approval of GM food" - "Filipino President Gloria Arroyo has used the Catholic Church's stance that growing and consuming genetically modified (GM) crops is not sinful to support her government's controversial policy to allow the cultivation of GM crops. According to Agence France-Press, Arroyo said in a statement following a meeting with Vatican State Secretary Cardinal Angelo Sodano that "what's important now for opposers [of GM crops] is that the Vatican said that GMOs [genetically modified organisms] are not immoral." The government's approval of GM seeds in the Philippines – a largely Roman Catholic nation – has met with strong opposition from environmental groups, as well as several Catholic bishops." (SciDev.Net)

"Government prepares to back down over GM crops" - "Ministers are ready to ban at least one of the three GM crops planned for Britain, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. They are preparing a compromise that would prohibit the growing of GM oilseed rape, the most damaging of the crops to the environment, while approving GM maize, which is thought to be the least hazardous, under strict conditions. They are also expected to postpone the introduction of GM sugar beet, whose cultivation has been found to endanger insects and other plants, pending further research." (Independent on Sunday)

"[California] Mendocino anti-biotech petitions are turned in" - "A landmark Mendocino County initiative to prevent the growing of genetically engineered crops moved closer to the March ballot Friday afternoon when backers submitted 4,147 signatures to county elections officials. The number is probably enough to surpass the 2,579 valid signatures needed to get the initiative on the ballot. It could take up to six weeks for officials to validate the signatures. If passed by voters, the initiative would make the county the first in the nation to ban biotech crops, none of which is known to be grown in the county." (Sacramento Bee)

"GE crop damages Canadian exports" - "Official papers show Canada may be losing export markets because of its production of genetically engineered canola. The Sustainability Council said Canada's experience flies in the face of the Government's claims New Zealand's overseas markets will not be affected by the lifting of the moratorium on GM organisms at the end of the month. The council wants the moratorium on the release of GM food products extended for five years." (New Zealand Herald)

"Brazil millers' opinions split on transgenic wheat" - "FLORIANOPOLIS, Brazil, Oct 5 - Brazilian wheat millers are deeply divided as to whether local consumers will accept genetically modified wheat being developed abroad and and which could soon be sold commercially. Brazil, one of the world's largest wheat importers, buys most of its wheat from Argentina and the United States. Both these countries grow genetically modified crops, notably soy and corn, on a large scale. This year, Brazil is expected to import around 6 million tonnes of wheat, down from 7 million tonnes in 2002, due to a bigger crop." (Reuters)

October 3, 2003

"Everglades Cleanup Exposes Environmentalists" - "Don’t tell me that so-called “environmentalists” are “for” the environment. The ongoing controversy over the cleanup of the Florida Everglades is further evidence that eco-activists are more interested in uncontested political power and dominating business interests than in workable environmental protection." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"U.S. report fails to link gun laws to violent crime" - "ATLANTA - A report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday found no conclusive evidence that gun control laws help prevent violent crime, suicides or accidental injuries in the United States. Critics of U.S. firearms laws, which are considered lax compared with those in most other Western nations, have long contended that easy access to guns have helped fuel comparatively high U.S. rates of murder and other violent crimes." (Reuters)

Blasted global warming! "Winter Comes Early to Great Lakes Region" - "Fall is less than 2 weeks old, but it almost felt like winter Thursday as it snowed in parts of the Great Lakes region and temperatures plunged as low as the teens and 20s. In Wisconsin, the mercury fell to 13 Thursday in the north-central town of Phillips, and traces of snow fell as far south as Fond du Lac, some 60 miles northwest of Milwaukee. Michigan was hard-hit with an overnight low of 23 degrees and 4 inches of snow since Wednesday in the Upper Peninsula town of Ironwood. One traffic death in the state was blamed on the weather. Arctic air from northern Canada caused the mercury to dip about 15 degrees below normal, said Stan Levine, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Buffalo, N.Y." (AP)

"Scientists use satellite to 'pond-er' melted Arctic ice" - "NASA researchers and other scientists used a satellite combined with aircraft video to create a new technique for detecting ponds of water on top of Arctic sea ice. Until now, it was not possible to accurately monitor these ponds on ice from space." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office)

"Medieval Warmth in Alaska" - "A new paper in Science (v.30, 26 Sept 03, p.1890) by Feng Sheng Hu et al, reveals that western Alaska enjoyed the full warmth of the Medieval Warm Period (850 AD to 1200 AD), based on cores from tundra lake sediments. There was also a previous warm period from 0 AD to 300 AD, the periods of warmth apparently following a cyclic pattern, consistent with changes in the Sun." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Antarctic ice may hold climate key" - "New Zealand scientists are to drill more than a kilometre under Antarctica to study ice sheet movement. New Zealand's Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS) said yesterday the five-year, $NZ40 million ($35 million) project would involve drilling two deep cores into Antarctica's sedimentary archives. By studying deposits from a time when Earth's climate was warmer and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were higher, researchers hope to improve predictions on ice sheet behaviour over the next two centuries." (AFP)

"Green fees: As confidence in the Kyoto Protocol grows, businesses are stocking up on emissions credits" - "With their bets placed on the Kyoto Protocol finally becoming a force to be reckoned with, a growing number of Japanese businesses are buying emissions credits for greenhouse gases while prices are cheap. According to Natsource Japan Co., the sole intermediary of emissions trading in Japan, the number of transactions involving Japanese firms since the beginning of 2003 has risen as fast as three times the pace of last year." (The Asahi Shimbun)

"[Russia] Scientists Say Warming Could Cut Crops" - "MOSCOW - Scientists said yesterday that global warming could slash Russia's crucial grain harvests if President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders refuse to endorse the U.N. pact. About 1,000 scientists at a World Climate Change Conference in Moscow ending on Friday were sharply divided over Putin's belief that Russians could benefit overall from a world with less bone-chilling winters. But some experts say that agricultural output in the key southern grain areas could be hit by a forecast decline in rains even though a warmer climate will extend growing areas further north as the permafrost thaws in Siberia." (Reuters)

"Putin aide says Kyoto may be economic millstone" - "MOSCOW, Oct 3 - A landmark U.N. pact on curbing global warming -- that hinges on Moscow's support -- could be a millstone for Russia's economy, a top aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday. "The Kyoto Protocol is discriminatory against Russia," Andrei Illarionov told the closing session of a five-day World Climate Change Conference, speaking of the accord that seeks to limit emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for driving up world temperatures." (Reuters)

"Russia cools on Kyoto, science questioned" - "MOSCOW -- An international conference on climate change wrapped up in Moscow yesterday with rising concern that the painstakingly crafted Kyoto Protocol may collapse after several senior Russian officials this week questioned the science behind the agreement." (Globe and Mail)

"Kyoto, Nyet!" - "Among those who have left a personal stamp on the current attention to climate issues, the most important is undoubtedly the American climatologist James Hansen. For that reason, he is known to some people as the "father of climate change." (Hans Labohm, TCS)

"Threat to wildlife enough to ban GM crops, MEPs told" - "A threat to British wildlife from GM crops would be sufficient grounds for the UK government to ban the growing of such crops, the European health commissioner said yesterday, after the Guardian's report on field trials of the crops. David Byrne was asked by MEPs on the European parliament's environment committee whether a threat to biodiversity would allow Britain to ban GM crops unilaterally. He said it would but he had not seen the results of the three years of trials reported in the Guardian yesterday." (The Guardian)

"UK's Royal Society says GMO report "speculative" - "LONDON - Britain's Royal Society yesterday distanced itself from a newspaper report saying government-backed experimental trials of genetically modified (GMO) crops have concluded that two of the three crops grown - rapeseed and sugar beet - appear to harm the environment. According to the newspaper, scientists who carried out the trials are expected to tell the government that growing GM crops damages plant and insect life. The society, which is due to detail the scientific results of the trials on October 16, described the report in Thursday's Guardian newspaper as "speculative." (Reuters)

"GM crops in Brazil: An amber light for agri-business" - "Brazilian farmers will embrace genetically modified crops, unless European consumers pay them not to" (The Economist)

"EU may start to lift GMO ban before year-end - EC" - "BRUSSELS - The European Union's food safety chief said yesterday the 15-nation bloc could begin to lift its five-year de facto ban on most genetically modified organisms (GMOs) before the end of the year." (Reuters)

"Greenpeace Protests 'Biohazard' Cargo in Vancouver" - "WINNIPEG, Manitoba - Greenpeace activists protesting Canada's genetically modified crops boarded a ship at the West Coast port of Vancouver yesterday and tried to stop it from loading with canola destined for Japan, an organizer said." (Reuters)

October 2, 2003

Legislating the EU's disastrous Precautionary Principle via the back door: "[California] Sweeping environmental-law reforms proposed; State EPA recommends shifting burden of proof" - "A state panel on Tuesday approved perhaps the most far-reaching set of environmental-justice policies in the nation, establishing guidelines that could color every California permit, regulation and program dealing with the environment and rewrite how the state assesses pollution.

The new guidelines essentially flip the scrutiny on emissions limits, shifting the burden of proof from communities to polluters. If approved by the secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency -- who has endorsed the blueprint -- facilities that pump pollution into the air, land or water would have to satisfy regulators that the discharges are safe, no matter the level." (The Argus)

Safe, no matter the level... for who and/or what must it be "safe"? "Shifting the burden of proof" is simply another way of saying that you are banning everything because demonstrating the potential for some harm to some one/thing, at some time, under some circumstance is simplicity itself while demonstrating the opposite is impossible. Consider a glass of water - drop it on someone's head and you have demonstrated the potential for harm but there is no way of proving that it can do no harm to any one/thing under any circumstance at any time. How about "... the discharges are safe, no matter the level"? Distilled water at 65°F might be considered safe at nominal discharge rate but what about larger discharge in a short time - enough to flood the neighbour's cellar, for example? Does that qualify under "no matter the level," however imaginary?

Wise up guys! You're giving misanthropists and their lawyers free reign to close any enterprise they don't like... and isn't that all of them?

"[UK] 'The Protection of the Foolhardy or Reckless Few'?" - "LONDON -- To an expatriate accustomed to the excesses of American trial lawyers and the courts that indulge them, it is a novel notion -- a panel of senior British judges says its high time people stop whining and start to take responsibility for their own actions.

In an opinion decrying the culture of blame and compensation creeping across the Atlantic, the judges said it's time to stop belly-aching when your coffee is too hot. Time to stop crabbing when you trip on a cracked sidewalk. It's time, they said, to stop suing at the drop of a hat.

The scolding came in an opinion in the case of John Tomlinson, who in 1995 was paralyzed when he ignored No Swimming signs and dove into a lake in Cheshire County. The judges agreed that Mr. Tomlinson suffered a terrible tragedy, but refused to accept the idea that the county was to blame and should pay up.

"It is not, and never should be, the policy of the law to require the protection of the foolhardy or reckless few (and therefore) to deprive, or interfere with, the enjoyment by the remainder of society of the liberties and amenities to which they are right entitled," the Appellate Committee from the House of Lords opined." (Scott Norvell, TCS)

"Environmentalist Attacks Hit Suburbs" - "SAN DIEGO - A sabotage campaign by the nation's most radical environmental group has moved from the countryside to the doorstep of the nation's biggest cities.

The Earth Liberation Front, a movement that originated in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, has claimed responsibility for a string of arsons in the suburbs of Los Angeles, Detroit, San Diego and Philadelphia in the past 12 months. No one has been charged in any of the attacks." (Associated Press)

"Giving the lie to all that greenie gloom" - "Some conservationists prefer guilt to the common sense of Bjorn Lomborg, argues Miranda Devine." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

"Some lie and some die" - "Though not always successfully, Number Watch attempts to maintain a certain level of dignity; a lofty, detached irony in face of the tomfooleries of this modern world. Every now and then, however, along comes a report so crass, so inane and so inherently absurd that moderate language seems hardly adequate. When the international network of number watchers began to buzz on the first day of October, it was a sign that an event of an unusual level of fatuity had occurred." (Number Watch)

"Huge Antarctic iceberg makes a big splash on sea life" - "NASA satellites observed the calving, or breaking off, of one of the largest icebergs ever recorded, named "C-19." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office)

"Alaska's climate: Too hot to handle" - "Alaska is warming up more than anywhere else on Earth. Climate researchers are now turning to regional models to find out why - and how to deal with it. John Whitfield went north to investigate." (NSU)

"Global warming could boost area’s water demand" - "Global warming appears to be driving up temperatures in the Sierra and could substantially increase the demand for water across the Truckee Meadows, a scientist told water experts Wednesday. Warmer temperatures could mean more rain in the mountains and less snow, meaning more runoff would flow downstream in the winter and the snowpack would release less water when it is needed most, John Tracy of the Desert Research Institute in Reno said." (Reno Gazette-Journal)

"Melting Matters" - "The largest ice shelf in the Arctic is breaking up and most of Europe just experienced a very warm summer. As expected, those professors, lobbyists and green protestors who make their living promoting the coming apocalypse due to global warming made a fuss about it. Canadian polar scientists are blaming accelerated regional warming for the ice shelf collapse and their European counterparts continue to make the most of the now dwindling European heat to further their agenda to promote the notion that climate change is dangerously sending us towards oblivion." (Roger Bate, TCS)

"Solar contribution to 'global warming' predicted to decrease" - "New research on the sun's contribution to global warming is reported in this month's Astronomy & Geophysics. By looking at solar activity over the last 11,000 years, British Antarctic Survey (BAS) astrophysicist, Mark Clilverd, predicts that the sun's contribution to warming the Earth will reduce slightly over the next 100 years." (British Antarctic Survey)

For the conspiracy theorists (and those who like to laugh at them): "Kyoto Protocol means dilemma for Russia" - "UNITED States President George W. Bush did not instantly kill the Kyoto Protocol on global climate change just by pulling the US out of the treaty in March, 2001, but it did mean every other major industrial country on the planet had to ratify it before it could come into effect. Mr Bush then proceeded to turn the screws on those who might be induced to defect, and this week in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin started to crack. If Russia pulls out, the treaty dies." (Gwynne Dyer, Otago Daily Times)

"Putin aide casts doubt on Kyoto climate science" - "MOSCOW - An aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin cast doubt on Wednesday on the scientific work underpinning a UN pact on fighting global warming that will founder without Moscow's backing. "We need answers," Andrei Illarionov, an adviser to Putin on economic affairs, said in posing 10 questions to a World Climate Change Conference that may help Moscow decide whether to ratify the UN's 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The pact, which seeks to curb emissions of gases like carbon dioxide released mainly by burning fossil fuels in factories and vehicles, will collapse if Moscow decides against ratifying." (Reuters) | Putin adviser questions Kyoto (AP)

"Business leaders see big benefits to Moscow from Kyoto" - "Business leaders on Wednesday urged Moscow to save the Kyoto Protocol to curb global warming, saying it could bring billions of dollars to Russia.

Moscow has put off a decision on the pact which seeks to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases from cars and factories blamed for driving up global temperatures. Russia wants cash guarantees before signing up to the pact which will fail without its backing. Soviet-era industries have collapsed, giving Moscow spare pollution quotas to sell abroad under Kyoto, which is meant as a first step to brake rising world temperatures that may trigger more floods, droughts, tornadoes and raise sea levels.

"Kyoto will probably mean Russia will be getting upwards of three or four billion dollars a year" by selling spare quotas, director of the International Emissions Trading Association Andrei Marcu said at the World Climate Change Conference. The association groups foreign companies including BP, Shell, Lafarge, Dupont and Tokyo Electric.

Asked about the possibility of governments or companies giving cash guarantees, he told Reuters: "I'm not sure anybody will be in a position to do that." (Gateway to Russia)

"Should Russia ratify Kyoto?" - "Moscow, October 1 -- - Experts say that the Kyoto Protocol would not prevent global warming but would undermine Russia's economic growth.

This week in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his economic adviser Andrei Illarionov, confirmed that Russia does not want to harm its economic prospects by implementing the Kyoto Protocol, an agreement that has questionable environmental benefits.

Experts from around the world agree that Russia should fully evaluate the costs and benefits of the Kyoto Protocol, which is only one possible way of dealing with climate change and may not be the best - or even effective.

Leading climate scientists believe that the Kyoto Protocol would not reduce global warming. Richard Lindzen, Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT (USA), commented: Leading climate scientists believe that the Kyoto Protocol would not reduce global warming. Richard Lindzen, Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT (USA), commented: "Climate change is inevitable as a result of natural processes, and regardless of human factors. The Kyoto Protocol or similar regimes will have an insignificant impact on climate. This is true even if one believes that climate change in the past century has been significantly affected by humanity, or that the model projections are correct." (PRNewswire)

"Parties urge action on climate change" - "The economy and health of Australians were at risk if urgent action was not taken to address threats posed by climate change, opposition parties warned. In an unusual step, Labor, the Australian Democrats and Greens have issued a joint statement urging the government to tackle the issue. Representatives from the three parties are meeting Robert Watson, former chair of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in Canberra." (AAP)

"'Too little' oil for global warming" - "Oil and gas will run out too fast for doomsday global warming scenarios to materialise, according to a controversial analysis presented this week at the University of Uppsala in Sweden. The authors warn that all the fuel will be burnt before there is enough carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to realise predictions of melting ice caps and searing temperatures." (New Scientist)

"Research shows little effect from Arctic offshore oil drilling" - "When the U.S. Dept. of Interior contracted with Florida Tech Oceanographer John Trefry to study the impact of recent offshore oil drilling in the Alaskan Arctic, the Florida Academy of Sciences gold medallist had some concerns about what he might discover. Instead of finding significant impacts, however, Trefry and his team of Florida Tech scientists were amazed by the discovery of a remarkable, thriving oceanographic system." (Florida Institute of Technology)

"Locke details plan to cut global warming" - "OLYMPIA -- Gov. Gary Locke, stepping up the state's effort to combat global warming, announced plans yesterday for what he called the United States' toughest siting standards for new power plants. The prime target is carbon dioxide, a major component of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. New power plants are the No. 1 source of the gas, and fossil-fuel plants in the United States account for 10 percent of carbon dioxide pollution worldwide, the governor said. Locke said future projects will have to offset fully 20 percent of their expected carbon dioxide emissions. Owners can plant trees, pay for natural gas-powered transit buses or pay mitigation experts to figure it out." (Associated Press)

"CHILE : Eco-Demands Give Way to Money" - "SANTIAGO, Oct 1 In the end, money has defeated democracy, says a disappointed Chilean environmentalist, referring to the million-dollar compensation that four indigenous women will receive for giving up their opposition to the construction of the Ralco hydroelectric plant in southern Chile." (Tierramérica)

"Maize products withdrawn over health fears" - "01/10/03 - Ten maize meal products have been voluntarily withdrawn from sale in the UK after tests showed that they contained high levels of toxins called fumonisins. The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) reports that thirty maize meal products in total were tested after two earlier samples of maize meal were found to contain high levels of fumonisins during a wider study of these toxins in maize-based products. Fumonisins have been shown to cause liver and kidney damage in animals after consuming high levels of them over a long period. It is possible that they could have the same effect on people." (FoodNavigator.com)

"Will Frankenfood Save the Planet?" - "Over the next half century genetic engineering could feed humanity and solve a raft of environmental ills—if only environmentalists would let it" (Jonathan Rauch, The Atlantic)

"UK government conference enjoys GM-free picnic?" - "01/10/03 - Former UK environment minister Michael Meacher is urging consumers to oppose US plans to use World Trade Organisation rules to force GM food and crops into the UK. Looking for maximum publicity for their 'bite-back' campaign, the environmental group Friends of the Earth organised a GM-free picnic during the Labour party conference in Bournemouth this week." (FoodNavigator.com)

"GM crops fail key trials amid environment fear" - "Two of the three GM crops grown experimentally in Britain, oil seed rape and sugar beet, appear more harmful to the environment than conventional crops and should not be grown in the UK, scientists are expected to tell the government next week. The Guardian has learned that the scientists will conclude that growing these crops is damaging to plant and insect life. The judgment will be a serious setback to the GM lobby in the UK and Europe, reopening the acrimonious debate about GM food." (The Guardian)

"Field trials raise pressure on government" - "With the US alleging restraint of trade, the latest in a long line of consultations and tests has only made a decision harder" (The Guardian)

"Judge: No Class-Action in Monsanto Case" - "ST. LOUIS - A federal judge has ruled against granting class-action status to a lawsuit accusing Monsanto Co. and some of its seed-marketing rivals of plotting to control genetically modified corn and soybean prices. U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel's ruling, released Wednesday, thwarts a bid by attorneys suing the companies to expand the 1999 lawsuit to include more than 100,000 farmers, not just the handful of farmers represented in the original lawsuit." (AP)

"Modified bacteria spot arsenic; Cheap test for tainted wells on trial in Vietnam" - "Gut bacteria genetically modified to glow when they sense arsenic could become super-sensitive sentinels for contaminated water.

In Bangladesh, India, Vietnam and Chile, arsenic is a major threat to public health - natural deposits contaminate groundwater. Long-term poisoning causes skin diseases and cancers. Existing chemical tests are unreliable, especially at low, but still dangerous, concentrations: field assays can wrongly label up to 44% of polluted wells as arsenic-free1.

A better approach is to exploit bacteria's natural sensitivity to arsenic, says Jan Roelof van der Meer of the Swiss Federal Institute for Environmental Science and Technology. "They allow us to detect much lower concentrations than existing tests." (NSU)

October 1, 2003

"3G mobile signals cause nausea, headache - survey" - "AMSTERDAM - Radio signals for the next generation of mobile phone services can cause headaches and nausea, according to a survey conducted by three Dutch ministries on the impact of tomorrow's data networks on health.

The study, the first of its kind, tested the impact of radiation from base stations used for the current mobile telephone network, against those for new third generation (3G) networks for fast data transfer - which will enable services such as video conferencing on a mobile device.

A base station, which usually covers a 'cell' area of several square kilometers, transmits signals to mobile phones with an electromagnetic field.

"If the test group was exposed to third generation base stations there was a significant impact. They felt tingling sensations, got headaches and felt nauseous," a spokeswoman for the Economics Ministry said.

There was no negative impact from the signals for current mobile networks." (Reuters)

"Baby study links antibiotics to asthma" - "Babies given antibiotics during the first six months of their lives are far more likely to develop asthma, according to a US study. Why is not clear, but the team claims antibiotics might be partly responsible for the steady rise in asthma cases in western countries.

A handful of studies have blamed antibiotics, but most are suspect because they relied on the memories of parents years after events. Instead, Christine Johnson's team at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit followed 448 children from birth to age seven, regularly checking on their health." (NewScientist.com news service)

"Icelanders find one gene makes you fat or thin" - "LONDON - Icelandic researchers said on Tuesday they had found a gene that in different versions determines whether people are predisposed to being obese or thin.

Scientists have long suspected a genetic link in determining how our bodies regulate weight. Now Icelandic biotechnology company, deCODE genetics Inc, says it has isolated a specific gene which, in different forms, tends to make us either overweight or underweight." (Reuters)

That'd be the Cheesey Poof gene would it?

"[New Zealand] Move to outlaw size discrimination" - "A Wellington woman tired of not being able to fit into standard seats wants size discrimination outlawed. Stacey Crutch, a political science student at Victoria University, is calling for changes to the Human Rights Act to make it illegal to discriminate against people because of their size." (The Dominion Post)

"Australia Damaged by Drought" - "CANBERRA, Australia, Sept. 30 - In a nation that calls itself the sunburnt country, it takes a mighty dry patch to reach the record books and knock farmers sideways. But the worst drought in a century - even kangaroos have strayed from nature reserves to graze on suburban lawns in Canberra - has throttled agriculture and undermined national wealth. The drought, which has lasted 18 months, slashed farm incomes almost in half, to 7.2 billion Australian dollars ($4.9 billion), in the year ended June 30, according to estimates by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics." (New York Times)

Guess what? My Country is something of a binary state land - there's either nought or plenty and plenty of both. Endemic creatures are well tuned to its wild vacillations, of course. Kangaroos, for example, breed prolifically to take advantage of sudden abundance with the population crashing back as millions starve or die of thirst with the inevitable onset of the next drought. That's normal here.

"Supercomputer climate model whips up a storm" - "Virtual hurricanes have appeared in computer models of the Earth's climate for the first time. The swirling storms are visible in the first results from the Earth Simulator in Yokohama, Japan - the world's fastest supercomputer." (NewScientist.com news service)

"160,000 Said Dying Yearly from Global Warming" - "MOSCOW - About 160,000 people die every year from side-effects of global warming ranging from malaria to malnutrition and the numbers could almost double by 2020, a group of scientists said yesterday. The study, by scientists at the World Health Organization (WHO) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said children in developing nations seemed most vulnerable. "We estimate that climate change may already be causing in the region of 160,000 deaths...a year," Professor Andrew Haines of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told a climate change conference in Moscow." (Reuters)

"Russian Kyoto veto "would threaten other projects" - "MOSCOW, Sept 30 - Any Russian veto of the Kyoto pact to fight global warming would jeopardise international environmental cooperation in other fields, the head of a U.N. commission said on Tuesday. On Monday, President Vladimir Putin backed away from a Russian promise to swiftly ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and one of his aides said at a World Climate Change Conference that Moscow doubted the science underpinning Kyoto. "If the Kyoto agreement doesn't enter into force it will be very damaging for international environmental work," said Boerge Brende, head of the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development." (Reuters)

"Kyoto climate pact discriminates against Russia: Putin advisor" - "MOSCOW - The Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gas emissions in its present form discriminates against Russia, President Vladimir Putin's leading advisor on economic affairs, Andrei Illarionov, said as experts met in Moscow for a conference on climate change.

Illarionov highlighted a "strange situation" in which, he said, Russia accounted for just six percent of global carbon dioxide emissions and yet will be obliged to reduce them, while countries such as the United States (25 percent) and China (13 percent) will be unrestricted.

On Monday, Putin announced that Russia had not yet reached a decision on whether to ratify the Kyoto protocol, thereby bringing it into force, but was still weighing up the pros and cons." (AFP) | Russia rows further away from Kyoto (BBC News Online)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"Effects of CO 2 on Forage Quality" - "As the air's CO 2 content continues to rise, what effect will it have on the quality of forage crops?  A team of scientists from the US, UK and New Zealand has conducted an experiment that suggests some detrimental consequences.  We, however, see evidence for just the opposite in their results." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Sea Level (Difficulties Predicting Change)" - "Climate alarmists are quick to make dramatic predictions of catastrophic increases in sea level, which they attribute to CO 2 -induced global warming.  A brief review of the pertinent scientific literature, however, suggests that seasoned researchers in the field are nowhere near as sure of themselves on this important point." (co2science.org)

"Soil Water Status (Growth Chamber Studies)" - "Does atmospheric CO 2 enrichment have any effect upon the soil water status of terrestrial ecosystems?  A number of growth chamber studies suggests that it does." (co2science.org)

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

Journal Reviews:
"Five Hundred Years of Drought and Wetness in the United States" - "What do they tell us about the highly-advertised claims of the world's climate alarmists relative to warming-induced droughts and floods?" (co2science.org)

"20th Century Warmth in Northern Swedish Lapland" - "Just how unprecedented was it?" (co2science.org)

"The Mortality-Temperature Relationship of People Living and Dying in Shanghai, China" - "Would further global warming lead to the deaths of more people in this populous Chinese city?  And what about the past?  How has the rising temperature of the last century likely impacted mortality in Shanghai?" (co2science.org)

"Soil Erosion: The Land's Carbon Conveyer Belt" - "Nature has a unique but long-maligned way of removing carbon from the atmosphere, transporting it, and then storing it in a reservoir where it can remain for long periods of time in a securely sequestered state." (co2science.org)

"The Increasing Sensitivity of Corals to Rising Temperatures" - "Do site-specific anthropogenic stresses predispose corals to greater suffering in response to increases in water temperature?" (co2science.org)

"US firms to trade greenhouse gases" - "The world's first 'voluntary' electronic trading market in greenhouse gas emissions has launched in the US city of Chicago." (BBC News Online)

"Study to examine how state forests can limit greenhouse gases" - "Washington state's trees might be able to earn some money for their natural ability to capture and store greenhouse gases.

The state Department of Natural Resources is taking part in an 18-month study examining the best way to use state-owned forests to reduce carbon in the air. The $3.5 million study, led by the U.S. Department of Energy and partly funded by oil and energy companies, will examine whether states might be able to sell "carbon credits" for managing public timberlands in a way that captures carbon." (AP)

"Bayer says GM maize ready for planting in Britain" - "LONDON - Genetically modified (GMO) maize could be grown in Britain within two years if biotech firms get government approval for commercial plantings, leading UK player Bayer CropScience said this week." (Reuters)