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Archives - October 2004

October 29, 2004

"Science-Politics Tension Dates Back Centuries" - "'Why is science seemingly at war with President Bush?' That's the question recently asked by a New York Times reporter in an article that begs for some perspective." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Blinded By Science" - "How ‘Balanced’ Coverage Lets the Scientific Fringe Hijack Reality" (Chris Mooney, Columbia Journalism Review)

Topping the 'outta da hat' category this day: "100,000 Excess Civilian Deaths After Iraq Invasion" - "Public-health experts from the USA and Iraq estimate that around 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the March 2003 invasion-the majority being violent deaths among women and children relating to military activity." (Lancet)

From the accompanying commentary: The number of population clusters chosen for sampling is small; the confidence intervals around the point estimates of mortality are wide; the Falluja cluster has an especially high mortality and so is atypical of the rest of the sample; and there is clearly the potential for recall bias among those interviewed.

So why extrapolate and headline wild guesstimates based on dodgy data? Sheesh!

"Moralizing Environmentalist Dogma Is Immoral: Deadly Consequences of Green Policies Often Ignored" - "With the presidential election only days away, John Kerry is getting a free pass as the more “environmentally-friendly” candidate. But voters need to take a much closer look at the credibility of organizations pushing that line before accepting it at face value." (E. Calvin Beisner and Daniel Lapin, MichNews.com)

"Asthma risk 'fixed before birth'" - "The chances of a child developing asthma or other allergies may largely be fixed by the time they are born, a study suggests." (BBC Online)

"Pollution May Be Reducing California Rainfall" - "SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Urban air pollution may be reducing rainfall in the Central Valley and along the heavily populated southern California coast, while trimming mountain snowfall that supplies much of the state's drinking and irrigation water and hydroelectric power, a Stanford University professor's study released Thursday shows." (Associated Press)

"Experts: New England's Fall Colors Could Vanish in 100 Years Due to Unchecked Global Warming" - "BOSTON, Oct. 28 -- As the fifth disappointing New England fall color display in as many years draws to a close, experts are warning that the region's once glorious autumnal forest leaf displays could disappear altogether in as little as 100 years if global warming continues on its current path. A University of New Hampshire professor said that climate- related factors already undercutting such traditional New England industries as maple syrup production also could end up making New England fall colors a thing of the past." (PRNewswire)

"China Welcomes Russian Approval of Kyoto Protocol" - "BEIJING — China welcomed on Thursday Russia's ratification of the Kyoto climate change protocol and urged countries that have not done so to follow suit." (Reuters)

Isn't that remarkable - China would like to maintain its competitive advantage as its citizens' wages and standard of living race toward developed world standards.

"The sun is more active now than over the last 8000 years" - "An international team of scientists has reconstructed the Sun's activity over the last 11 millennia and forecasts decreased activity within a few decades." (Max-Planck-Gesellschaft)

"Environmental Activists Suggest Bush Responsible for Hurricanes" - "WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 -- A coalition of environmental activists have purchased billboard advertisements in Florida, a region victimized by a severe hurricane season, that claim President George W. Bush's policies could result in stronger, more frequent hurricanes. H. Sterling Burnett, senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), responded that this was "one of the worst cases of junk science demagoguery in recent memory." (U.S. Newswire)

"Leader: Hot investment" - "Bjorn Lomborg, the controversial environmentalist, recently brought 38 top economists to Copenhagen to discuss the best ways of helping the world's poor. Most of their conclusions were commendable.

The sting was in the tail. Bottom of their priorities for the human race came climate change, which they dismissed as a problem for the future rather than today. Would it were so." (The Guardian)

"Researchers describe how natural nuclear reactor worked" - "It's been known for 30 years that Mother Nature once did nuclear chain reactions by her lonesome. Now, Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have analyzed the isotopic structure of noble gases produced in fission in a sample from the only known natural nuclear chain reaction site in the world in Gabon, West Africa, and have found how she does the trick. Picture Old Faithful." (Washington University in St. Louis)

"Proposal Restricts Appeals on Dams" - "The Bush administration has proposed giving dam owners the exclusive right to appeal rulings about how dams should be licensed and operated, a change that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the hydropower industry. The proposal would prevent states, Indian tribes and environmental groups from making appeals." (Washington Post)

"Nanotech Group's Invitations Declined" - "A new effort by industry leaders and others to engender public trust in nanotechnology has run into difficulties on the eve of its first meeting because of doubts the initiative will serve the public interest." (Washington Post)

October 28, 2004

"The Würst Kind of Logic" - "Renate Künast, Germany's consumer protection minister, wants to save a generation of Germans from obesity-related illness. She has told the Bundestag that 34 percent of all German children under 14 weigh too much for their size and age, and 8 percent are clinically obese. Some studies even show that German children are among the leanest of Europeans, but this is not the real issue.

Künast wants mandatory physical education and regimented school diet programs. Her plan to micromanage children's meals would even restrict the advertising of snacks and sweets on TV shows that cater to young audiences. In her world, only the government can save the children and only fast food and giant food companies are worthy of blame." (Joel Bucher, TCS)

"Federal Funds Fight the Fat" - "Florida's Pinellas County is a test case for nascent government efforts against obesity in kids, and the results have been encouraging." (BusinessWeek Online)

From the 'here we go again' files: "Update on an old warning: Beware the coming shortages" - "Dennis Meadows warned 32 years ago that the world would run short of resources within a century, putting the planet at risk of expanding hunger as well as economic and social disaster.

Today, that danger is more imminent, says Mr. Meadows, one of the authors of "The Limits to Growth," a book published in 1972 and now just updated." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Canada's environmental record bad-official report" - "OTTAWA, Oct 26 - The Canadian government is not doing enough to protect the environment because of a lack of leadership and political will, a senior official said in a scathing report released on Tuesday." (Reuters)

"Sunspots more active than for 8000 years" - "The Sun has been more active in the last 70 years than it has for the previous 8000, according to an analysis of tree rings dating back 11,400 years. But researchers say its recent bout of hyperactivity does not account for the rapidly rising temperatures recorded on Earth over the last three decades." (NewScientist.com news service) | Sunspot record reveals Sun's past: Solar history may have links with Earth's climate (News @ Nature)

Cooler Heads Project Vol VIII, No 21 (CEI)

Ah! The (negotiating) power of Putin's pen: "Russia's upper house backs Kyoto"- "Russia's upper house of parliament has approved the international Kyoto Protocol on climate change. The United Nations treaty now needs only President Vladimir Putin's signature for formal ratification." (BBC Online)

"Poor countries gather in Tanzania to prepare for climate conference" - "Representatives from more than 20 Least Developed Countries were Tuesday in Tanzania to meeting to draw up a joint approach ahead of a world conference on climate change, an official said." (Agence France-Presse)

"First things first" - "Climate change doesn't mean the end of the world - yet. Bjørn Lomborg says we should focus on the areas where we can really make a difference." (The Guardian)

"Brian Fallow: Hodgson's Kyoto cheque set to bounce" - "Two years ago, when the Government was selling the proposition that New Zealand should ratify the international climate change treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, it argued that it was in our interests - long and short term." (New Zealand Herald)

"Blair attacked over higher CO2 emissions" - "Factories and power plants will be able to pour more carbon dioxide - the chief greenhouse gas - into the atmosphere under allowances announced by the government today.

The move, part of the EU emissions trading scheme, was unveiled by the environment secretary, Margaret Beckett, amid complaints from green groups and MPs that the prime minister has bowed to demands from industry at the expense of the environment and the fight against climate change." (Press Association) | Anger at greenhouse 'climbdown' (BBC Online) | Kyoto sacrificed to competitiveness (The Guardian)

"Industry complains of unequal emissions targets" - "BRITISH industry gave warning yesterday that it would lose ground to European rivals even after ministers watered down targets for cutting carbon emissions.

Although the Government allowed factories and electricity generators to pollute more, the CBI said that ministers had imposed more stringent targets for cutting pollution.

Revisions to the scheme will leave British manufacturers trailing their European competitors. Italy, Greece, Hungry and Poland have yet to put forward plans for cutting carbon dioxide emissions. Most other European countries have lower goals for reductions." (The Times)

"Industries seek more clarity on EU emissions trade" - "AMSTERDAM - The European Union should unveil key details of the second phase of emissions trading as soon as soon as possible to clear up uncertainty that could undermine the scheme, analysts and traders said." (Reuters)

"A greenhouse gas goes underground" - "It may seem like sweeping the problem under the rug. But at a partially depleted oil reservoir in the flatlands of southeastern Saskatchewan, Canadian researchers have found a cheap solution to global warming: burial.

By injecting carbon dioxide (CO2) into the underground oil field, the researchers are not only cutting emissions of the greenhouse gas, they're also boosting oil production. The extra oil generates enough revenue to substantially offset the cost of burying the CO2." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"China Strapped by Energy Shortages as Winter Nears" - "BEIJING — China's booming economy is driving demand for coal, oil, power, and transport that far outstrips national supplies, potentially leaving millions nationwide in the cold, the China Daily said on Tuesday." (Reuters)

"Crude Awakening" - "Fresh evidence points to the possibility that the world is approaching the moment of maximum or "peak" oil output, beyond which no amount of drilling or investment will result in higher levels of production." (The Nation)

"Watts from wastewater: New device produces power while treating sewage" - "A new technology can turn raw sewage into raw power. The device, called a microbial fuel cell, not only treats wastewater, but also provides a clean energy source with the potential for enormous financial savings. The technology eventually could be used to run a small wastewater treatment plant, which would be especially attractive in developing countries. It also could be used to treat waste from animal farms, food processing plants and even manned space missions." (American Chemical Society)

"Manure energy quagmire" - "Amid smiles and handshakes, Lodi dairyman Larry Castelanelli's new methane-powered generator chugged to life last week. California's newest industry - a $7 million plan to make power from manure - finally was rolling. By the end of the year, 12 of 14 state-funded pilot projects on dairy power are expected to be operating, and three more dairy generators are planned next year for southern Sacramento County.

The stakes are high, as the state tries to reduce dairy odor, meet renewable energy targets and curtail emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming. But so-called biogas plants, already more than two years behind schedule in California, are not sure bets. The Central Valley's potential for manure-based energy could fizzle without more evidence about environmental benefits, cooperation from power companies and new incentives to turn pollution into power." (Sacramento Bee)

"Nanotechnology: Hell or Heaven?" - "Perhaps a little bit of both." (Ronald Bailey, Reason)

"Genetically modified cats for sale" - "A California biotechnology company has started taking orders for a hypoallergenic cat for pet lovers prone to allergies. The genetically engineered feline, which is expected to be available from 2007, is the first in a planned series of lifestyle pets, Los Angeles-based Allerca said in a press release." (CNN)

"Asian nations may have to be cautious on GMO rice" - "SINGAPORE—Genetically modified rice may help Asia take a step closer toward food self sufficiency but governments should move cautiously before giving the green light to commercial planting, a United Nations farm official said.

With China, India and the Philippines holding field trials after investing a lot of resources in bio-engineered rice, the debate has intensified on whether Asia is prepared to introduce genetically modified rice." (Reuters)

"Transnational companies pave way for Venezuelan transgenics cultivation" - "Brazilian journalist Claudia Jardim writes: Misinformation, lack of governmental control and good propaganda ... these are the elements that have favored the transnational producers of genetically modified seeds in Venezuela ... the producers claim that experiments with transgenic corn are already underway." (VHeadline.com Venezuela)

October 27, 2004

"The consequences of fear" - "Our modern world is a risky place and evokes many well-founded fears. But these fears themselves create a new risk for our health and well-being that needs to be addressed." (David Ropeik, EMBO Reports)

"Chemical Industry Funds Aid EPA Study" - "The EPA has agreed to accept $2 million from the American Chemistry Council to help fund a study exploring the impact of pesticides and household chemicals on young children, prompting an outcry from environmentalists." (Washington Post)

"Senator: atrazine ban merits a look" - "A scientist from California told a Minnesota Senate committee Monday that the herbicide atrazine can cause deformities in frogs, and a state senator called for a ban on the chemical." (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

"Call for 'fairer' green tax system" - "Green taxes are hitting low-income families harder than other social groups, says a new report which calls for reform of the environmental tax collection system." (The Guardian)

"Trans fat is linked to weak intellect" - "As if eating badly and being overweight weren't already harmful enough, research announced yesterday suggests that consuming too much of several kinds of fat can damage memory and intellect." (Baltimore Sun)

"Russia forced to ratify Kyoto Protocol to become WTO member" - "The Federation Council of Russia is to decide upon the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on Wednesday. Most likely, Russian senators will ratify the document. The situation, however, is still ambiguous. The protocol has more adversaries than proponents. In addition, the latter can not boast of having brilliant arguments." (Pravda.Ru)

"NASA: Bush Stifles Global Warming Evidence" - "IOWA CITY, Iowa - The Bush administration is trying to stifle scientific evidence of the dangers of global warming in an effort to keep the public uninformed, a NASA scientist said Tuesday night.

"In my more than three decades in government, I have never seen anything approaching the degree to which information flow from scientists to the public has been screened and controlled as it is now," James E. Hansen told a University of Iowa audience." (Associated Press)

"NCPA: Hansen's Climate Change Criticisms Contradict His Own Research; 'Dr. Hansen's Changed Position Prime Example of Scientific Uncertainty'" - "According to the New York Times, Dr. James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in Manhattan is set to criticize the White House's policy on climate change in a speech tonight in Iowa. Experts with the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) note that Dr. Hansen's criticisms are contradicted by his own research and demonstrate the folly of rushing to implement public policy based on uncertain science." (U.S. Newswire)

"London heat 'may match New York'" - "London's summers could be as hot as New York's by the end of the century if global warming does not slow down, according to a report. The UK capital's summer evenings are already warmer than surrounding areas' as the urban landscape absorbs solar energy, the Energy Saving Trust says. Rewards for energy efficiency to reduce climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions are called for by the Trust." (BBC Online)

Warmer than surrounding areas? Well, yes, it's called UHIE.

"Is the Hockey Stick Broken?" - "It's dubbed the hockey stick. It is a rather simple looking graph -- with a long, stable shaft and a fast rising blade -- that purports to represent averaged Northern Hemisphere temperatures over the last thousand years. More than that, in global climate reports -- particularly the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Assessment Report (TAR) in 2001 -- it's used as proof that mankind's industrial revolution has over the last hundred years started dangerously pushing up global temperatures, thus justifying restrictions on emissions of human produced greenhouse gasses.

But there's a problem. The hockey stick may well be broken." (Willie Soon and David R. Legates, TCS)

"More Action Needed to Tackle Climate Change - Supermarkets Told" - "Supermarkets should clear their shelves of environmentally-damaging products, Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett said today. Ms Beckett said businesses and shoppers had to do more to tackle climate change. She said shoppers should demand environmentally-friendly goods. “I challenge supermarkets to raise their game by only selling products that minimise environmental damage in their production and use,” she said." (PA News)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"Esper et al. (2002) Revisited" - "A meticulous reanalysis of the study that marked the "beginning of the end" of the hockeystick temperature history of Mann et al. reaffirms the reality of the major differences between them." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Climate Oscillations (Decadal Variability: Europe)" - "Decadal oscillations of climate are ubiquitous, appearing in all climatic parameters in essentially all parts of Europe and adjacent seas; and their impacts are very significant, even more so, in some situations, than predicted long-term human-induced global warming." (co2science.org)

"Great Barrier Reef" - "Climate alarmists have decreed, over and over (and over again), that Australia's Great Barrier Reef is destined to die as a consequence of projected increases in the air's CO 2 content and temperature.  What do real-world data suggest?" (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: Non-legume Dicot Component of a New Zealand Dry Sandy Pasture, Perennial Ryegrass, Subterranean Clover and White Potato." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"Baffin Bay Narwhals: Their Response to 20th-Century Climate Change" - "Survival in their winter quarters has become increasingly more difficult for these Arctic cetaceans over the past half-century, but not for the reason many might expect." (co2science.org)

"Temperature History of the Taimyr Peninsula" - "How does it compare with the temperature history of the Northern Hemisphere that was created by Mann and colleagues and endorsed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change?" (co2science.org)

"Winter Storminess in Southern Scandinavia" - "Climate alarmists generally contend that the world will become a stormier place as the planet warms.  A new study from Sweden sheds some light on this contention as it applies to southern Scandinavia." (co2science.org)

"Life-Long Exposure of Oak Trees to Elevated Concentrations of Atmospheric CO 2 Counteracts the Deleterious Effects of Concomitant Exposure to Major Sulphur-Based Air Pollutants" - "Studies performed in the vicinity of CO 2 -emitting springs and vents tell the story." (co2science.org)

"Aphid Responses to Elevated CO 2 and O 3 " - "Are they likely to be positive, negative or undetectable in the real world of the future?" (co2science.org)

"Soaring success" - "John Vidal meets Bjorn Lomborg, 'leftwing environmentalist' whose controversial views on climate change delight the right." (The Guardian)

"Carbon-dioxide emissions set to rise 62% by 2030: IEA" - "WASHINGTON -- If current government policies stay as they are, emissions of carbon dioxide from energy production activities will grow by about 60 percent between now and 2030, a report released by the International Energy Agency on Tuesday said.

Developing countries will be responsible for roughly 70 percent of the projected increase in energy-related carbon emissions during this period, as they resort more heavily on coal to meet energy demand.

By 2030, developing countries will account for 49 percent of annual world carbon emissions, up from 36 percent in 2002, the IEA's report said." (CBS.MW) | Worries over rising carbon dioxide emissions (The Guardian)

"The gamble for Detroit" - "Should Ford, General Motors and Daimler-Chrysler spend billions of dollars creating models that maximize fuel efficiency? And if they do, will Americans buy them?" (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Munching microbes could cleanse arsenic-contaminated groundwater" - "Microbial processes ultimately determine whether arsenic builds to dangerous levels in groundwater, say researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Remediation may be as simple as stimulating certain microbes to grow." (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

"Farmers, ranchers and tractors make their way through San Luis Obispo" - "Farmers and ranchers from across San Luis Obispo County took to the streets on Thursday to set the record straight on how they feel about the proposed ban on genetically modified crops.

Nearly 100 farmers and ranchers from the area drove their tractors, trucks, and farm equipment through downtown San Luis Obispo. The group protests the claim by Measure Q proponents that local farmers support the initiative. Protesters believe 99% of county farmers oppose Measure Q, and say they're trying to defeat a bad piece of rushed legislation." (KSBY 6)

"EU Commission Approves Latest In Series Of GMO Products" - "The European Commission today authorized the placing on the market of foods and food ingredients derived from genetically modified maize line NK603 in accordance with the GM Food and Feed Regulation. NK603 maize has already been approved for import and for use as animal feed and for industrial processing under Directive 2001/18/EC." (EU Newsweb)

October 26, 2004

"Malaria vaccine trial" - "Inducing an immune response is just one part of what a vaccine needs to do before it will protect against episodes of malaria." (Public Library of Science)

"Predicting infection risk of mosquito-borne disease" - "A modeling approach reveals that incorporating the demography and behavior of mosquitoes can substantially change estimates of the risk of infection from diseases such as malaria." (Public Library of Science)

"Basel Exposition" - "You might get the impression, reading this site regularly, that some of us writers are less than enamored with the United Nations. To balance things, to show the good things that can be and are done by this organization, I'd like to tell you about the meeting of the signatories to the Basel Convention last week in Geneva." (Tim Worstall, TCS)

"The dismal quackery of eco-economics" - "The notion that economic growth has to be curtailed is tragic when billions still live in dire poverty." (Daniel Ben-Ami, sp!ked)

"Hey, Feds, Weight a Minute..." - "The federal government recently ruled that taxpayers will foot the bills for weight loss surgeries and other weight loss treatments for Medicare patients, if medical evidence can demonstrates their effectiveness. This is the door opening to broader obesity-related coverages, as a September 30th New York Times article revealed. According to Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans, the national health insurance trade organization, everyone's premiums will be impacted if, as expected, private and employer-based health insurance plans follow suit. It's anticipated that as coverage becomes more readily available, more Americans will seek the surgeries and the numbers performed will skyrocket from this year's estimated 144,000 surgeries. So will the costs." (Sandy Szwarc, TCS)

"Olestra Redux" - "One thing that you can say about the folks at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) -- they're certainly tenacious about their food vendettas! Once a food or ingredient has made the CSPI hate list, it's apparently there forever, whether or not any scientific evidence supports their viewpoint. A case in point is the CSPI crusade against olestra, the fat replacement ingredient that is used in potato chips and other savory snack foods." (Todd Seavey, ACSH)

"Lifestyle MOTs fail the test" - "According to a leaked white paper, the government is planning to introduce free health checks for everyone. But there is little evidence that they will do any good, argues GP Margaret McCartney." (The Guardian)

"Alaska's summer fires found to be not all-consuming" - "Wildland fires not as destructive a force as once believed." (Juneau Empire)

"Swiss research finds El Niño affects Europe" - "Swiss research suggests that El Niño – a climatic phenomenon which causes changes to the weather in many parts of the globe – also affects Europe." (swissinfo)

The Week That Was Oct. 23, 2004 (SEPP)

Hmm... "NASA Expert Criticizes Bush on Global Warming Policy" - "A top NASA climate expert who twice briefed Vice President Dick Cheney on global warming plans to criticize the administration's approach to the issue in a lecture at the University of Iowa tonight and say that a senior administration official told him last year not to discuss dangerous consequences of rising temperatures.

... He will acknowledge that one of the accolades he has received for his work on climate change is a $250,000 Heinz Award, given in 2001 by a foundation run by Teresa Heinz Kerry, Mr. Kerry's wife. The awards are given to people who advance causes promoted by Senator John Heinz, the Pennsylvania Republican who was Mrs. Heinz Kerry's first husband.

... Dr. Hansen rose to prominence when, after testifying at a Senate hearing in the record-warm summer of 1988, he said, "It is time to stop waffling so much and say the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here." (New York Times)

"Kyoto 'not enough' to fix global warming" - "OSLO - Although saved last week with Russian help, the Kyoto pact on global warming offers too little to arrest climate change and governments should adopt more radical solutions, the top U.N. climate expert has said." (Reuters)

"Scientists: Bush global warming stance invites stronger storms" - "TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A coalition of scientists and environmentalists is putting up billboards in the crucial swing-vote region of central Florida saying President Bush doesn't understand that global warming means stronger hurricanes." (Associated Press)

"History Repeats Itself" - "Russia's ratification of Kyoto was expected. The question is why did President Putin do it? Kyoto will not reduce global emissions of carbon dioxide and accession could well be detrimental to Russia's economy. There are several theories. Here is a new one. The Russians have a fine eye for failing institutions. It has done this before." (Alan Oxley, TCS)

For the latest in extreme forecasts: "Britain faces crisis from climate change" - "LONDON - Britain faces a multi-billion pound flood catastrophe from climate warming unless people have a radical lifestyle change, an energy watchdog says.

The Energy Saving Trust (EST) said on Monday Britain could face damage to two million homes and 200 billion pounds of assets from flooding due to rising sea levels as early as 2050.

"Without a drastic reduction in the UK's energy consumption, emissions of carbon dioxide - one of the leading contributors to climate change - could have disastrous results for the UK," EST chief executive Philip Sellwood said." (Reuters)

"Global Warming Could Lead to Trans-Arctic Shipping" - "An international group of scientists predicts the Arctic Ocean could be largely ice-free by 2050, making trans-Arctic shipping a common practice." (Doug Schneider, AXcess News)

They'll probably even sell you shares in a (proposed) shipping line.

"Cars, not crops, should be chief targets in reducing greenhouse gases" - "Retiring croplands and switching to no-till agriculture can contribute in a modest way to reducing the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but doubling fuel efficiencies of cars and light trucks would achieve much greater results, according to two Duke University ecologists." (Duke University)

"Green Targets Will Push Up Power Prices, Tories Warn" - "Electricity bills will have to rise to pay for a switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources, the Tories said today. Spokesman Tim Yeo accused the Government of trying to con the public into believing it could meet green targets without hitting consumers in the pocket." (PA News)

"Farmers don't need a new superstar toxin to fight bugs" - "A new Michael Jordan of toxins isn't required to increase crop protection against bugs as long as the right genes are strategically placed to take their shots at destructive insects, researchers report." (Purdue University)

?!! "VIEW: The GMO debate" - "Biotechnology has already led to significant public health problems like Mad Cow Disease, a bovine health problem which also caused human fatalities in parts of Europe. Avian Influenza, a poultry health problem, also took its toll of human lives in Southeast Asia. The beef hormone issue with possible carcinogenic sequels has also been noticed as a public health problem by the World Health Organisation." (Syed Mohammad Ali, Daily Times)

"GAO – biotech foods safe" - "The investigative arm of the U.S. Congress says biotech foods pose no long-term health threats and that safety tests are adequate.

A recently published U.S. government report concludes that foods produced using biotechnology are as safe as conventional foods. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that they pose a long-term health risk to consumers, the General Accounting Office (GAO) report said.

The report — “Genetically Modified Foods: Experts View Regimen of Safety Tests as Adequate, but FDA’s Evaluation Process Could Be Enhanced” — recommends modest changes to the process used by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to evaluate new biotech foods.

A cross-section of experts — from consumer groups, research and academic institutions, regulatory bodies and industry — contributed to the report published by the GAO, Congress’ independent investigative arm." (Truth About Trade and Technology)

Must've been some meeting: "Scientists warn on provision of food for next generations" - "EUROPE must ditch GM crops and invest in sustainable agriculture now if it wants to provide enough food for future generations, scientists have warned.

Scientific evidence has turned decisively against genetically-modified crops and in favour of non-GM sustainable agriculture, according to a new publication, The Independent Science Panel Report, The Case for a GM Free Sustainable World." (Western Mail)

Scientists? Speakers included French farmer and radical anti-GM protester José Bové, representing Confédération Paysanne, Michael Meacher MP, former UK Environment Minister, and Edward Goldsmith, founding editor of The Ecologist. Mae-Wan Ho was there too, they just needed Vandana Shiva for the whole crap shoot.

"Coalition Petitions for Moratorium on Genetically Modified Organisms as Study Exposes Regulatory Troubles" - "Today in Ottawa Canadian and Québécois environmental, farm and civil society groups demanded a moratorium on new approvals of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), to support a petition signed by approximately 20,000 Canadians. The coalition Réseau Québécois Contres Les GMOs (which includes Les Amies de la terre de Québec, ACEF de Québec, l'Union des consommateurs, l'Union paysanne, Greenpeace, and Equiterre) presented their petition at a press conference on Parliament Hill where they were joined by The Council of Canadians, the Polaris Institute and the National Farmers Union." (CNW Telbec)

"Biotech Divide is a Sign of the Times" - "While India and China are stepping up their investment in biotechnology to solve problems of crop shortfalls and hunger, a radical French farmer is urging his country’s citizens to take to the streets to prevent the spread of biotech foods. The world remains divided over biotechnology, but this may be more indicative of the times than any problems with the science." (Stewart Truelsen, Farm Bureau)

October 25, 2004

Tim promotes his book: "Cosmetic changes will not bring peace in the food wars" - "The public health crisis demands a revolution in how we produce what we eat." (Tim Lang, The Guardian)

"Anti-Australian wool campaign snares US retailer" - "US retailer Abercrombie and Fitch has become the first to sign on to an animal rights campaign for a boycott of Australian wool products." (EthicalCorp.com)

Oh dear. Here's a case of severely misguided activists causing massive cruelty through ignorance or deception. Australia's Merino sheep (fine wool producers) are somewhat different from their northern hemisphere counterparts, not "smooth and round" but very "wrinkly and ugly." Australian sheep are also plagued by blowflies, necessitating various defensive measures to avoid a horrible death - literally eaten alive. One highly successful measure, not requiring repeated seasonal plunge or spray drenching with organophosphate pesticides, is called "mulesing" - the process of trimming excess folds of wrinkled skin around the lamb's anus at the same time as tails are docked and ram lambs castrated. While alternatives to this procedure are actively sought there is currently no alternative method of protecting Australia's fine wool flock from fly strike in Australia's vast arid pastoral regions.

"Scientists seek to save once-thriving hellbender" - "Scientists believe that the fate of North America's largest salamander could hold clues to the health of the human race. Hellbender numbers have plummeted because of reproductive failure that may be due to endocrine disruption." (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

"Europe cracks down on illegal exports of toxic trash" - "Proper waste disposal in the EU has become prohibitively expensive, leading to black market dumping." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Missing in Action" - "Environment not top issue for voters in upcoming presidential election." (Iain Murray, EU Reporter Online)

"Russia's Lower House Approves Kyoto Treaty on Emissions" - "MOSCOW, Oct. 22 - Russia's lower house of Parliament voted overwhelmingly on Friday to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, setting the stage for enactment early next year of the pioneering international treaty aimed at reducing emissions blamed for global warming." (New York Times)

"Moscow lauded for ratifying Kyoto" - "Environmentalists have hailed the Russian parliament's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change as a huge step forward. Russia's lower house, the State Duma, voted 334-73 to approve the treaty, meaning enough nations have signed up to bring it officially into force. "We'll toast the Duma with vodka tonight," a Greenpeace activist said. However Washington said it still does not intend to adopt the pact, which calls for cuts in greenhouse gases." (BBC Online)

"Political climate warms for Kyoto" - "The Kyoto protocol on climate change will come into force next spring. This is now certain after the Russian Duma ratified it on Friday. For reasons specific to the way the treaty was written, Russian approval has become key to its taking effect, and it will do so three months after Moscow completes all ratification formalities." (Financial Times)

"Potemkin Protocol" - "Today's Duma vote on the Kyoto Protocol is seen by realistic analysts as a sham -- or, in the Russian metaphor, as a Potemkin Village, a stage setting for a phony drama." (James K. Glassman, TCS)

"US rejects world calls to join Russia in ratifying Kyoto pact" - "The United States, flying in the face of snowballing world opinion, said Friday it would not follow Russia's lead and ratify the Kyoto protocol on global warming." (AFP)

"Minister spurns Kyoto" - "The Federal Government insisted yesterday that Australia was doing better without the Kyoto Protocol, as Russia gave the environmental pact the green light to go into practice." (Melbourne Age)

"Kyoto and CO2: The world's strangest market takes shape" - "They trade in something that is colourless and odourless, cannot be tasted or felt. And whether they buy or sell, no merchandise will ever change hands. But if all goes well, a decade from now these pioneers in the Kyoto Protocol's carbon market will be the commanding players in a business worth billions, possibly tens of billions, of dollars per year." (Agence France-Presse)

"Editorial: Kyoto climate change" - "THE HOPE that the world will curb global warming before it drastically changes weather, farming, and the spread of insect-borne diseases was buoyed by two developments this week. The Russian parliament approved the Kyoto Protocol yesterday, and petroleum prices persisted at more than $50 a barrel. Those prices give all countries a powerful motive to use less oil." (Boston Globe)

"Kyoto saved but bigger challenges from 2012" - "OSLO - After a painful birth with Russian help, the U.N.'s Kyoto protocol needs to enlist big-polluting outsiders like the United States, China and India or risk irrelevance in fighting global warming." (Reuters)

"From Garden State to Greenhouse State" - "The state of New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection appears to be following in the steps of California, ready to classify carbon dioxide as a pollutant in anticipation of future regulation of its production within the state. Carbon dioxide is the second most important "greenhouse gas", after water vapor, that helps keep the Earth habitable by retaining infrared (heat) radiation and warming the Earth. This is a natural process that occurs with or without help from humans. Additionally, life on Earth depends on carbon dioxide, which is used by the biosphere for food. The concern is that the extra CO2 produced by burning petroleum, coal, and natural gas will cause the climate system to react in negative ways." (Roy Spencer, TCS)

"California Salutes Global Warming Fighters" - "SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California has become the first state to reward landowners for leaving forests standing to help control global warming, under a program adopted this week by the California Climate Action Registry.

The voluntary program promotes conservation, improved timber management, and reforestation to keep carbon dioxide in trees and out of the atmosphere, where it's the most abundant greenhouse gas." (Associated Press)

Really? What about H2O?

"Global warming seen as security threat" - "A growing number of analysts argue global warming linked to greenhouse gas emissions might eventually top terrorism on the global security agenda, provoking new conflicts and inflaming old ones." (Reuters)

"£6m ad alert on global warming" - "A series of graphic warnings about the dangers of climate change and the £200 billion damage that could be caused by global warming will be launched next week as part of a multi-million-pound government campaign to urge consumers to use less energy." (London Observer)

"Dire warnings from global warming report" - "Daffodils, cod, Christmas trees and the Highlands' ski resorts could have become victims of global warming by 2050 according to an energy-efficiency report today. Warmer weather will, instead, introduce vineyards to Scotland, stingrays and more types of sharks in our coastal waters as well as termites, scorpions and mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus and dengue fever, the study - Forecasting the Future - says." (The Guardian)

"Global warming: Does doom loom?" - "Niggling little scientific observations, from atop Mauna Loa to subarctic Hudson Bay, are pointing to the very real possibility of a runaway greenhouse effect." (Stephen Hume, Vancouver Sun)

"Activists' hands tied for 7 years" - "Some of the protesters wore tiger suits; others wore brightly coloured T-shirts under business suits. They entered the front lobby or climbed on the roof of ExxonMobil's headquarters in Irving, Texas. The protest, involving more than 30 members of Greenpeace, the environmental activist group, was aimed at the world's largest oil company and its policies on global warming.

Now, almost 18 months later, Greenpeace has signed a court agreement that will prevent its supporters from staging any similar protests against ExxonMobil, not only in Texas but anywhere in the US, for seven years." (Financial Times)

Meow! "This is neither scepticism nor science - just nonsense" - "Why is Bjorn Lomborg's work on climate change taken seriously?" (Tom Burke, The Guardian)

[Tom Burke is a former director of Friends of the Earth and special adviser to Michael Heseltine, Michael Howard and John Gummer when they were environment secretaries; he is co-founder of Third Generation Environmentalism and advises the extractive industries]

"Western Japan faces increased flooding" - "The densely populated urban areas of Osaka and Nagoya as well as the western Kyushu region surrounding the Ariake Sea are at risk from rising sea levels resulting from higher oceanic temperatures." (Japan Times)

"Department of Energy official fights for Bush's record" - "President Bush's pick as the U.S. Department of Energy chief of power efficiency, David Garman, strongly defended Bush's record on tackling climate change at the Society of Environmental Journalists' annual conference on Friday in Pittsburgh." (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

"David Smith: The signposts point to more nuclear power" - "OIL at more than $50 a barrel concentrates the mind. What looked like a spike in prices is now taking on an air of permanence. Even when the price subsides, as it will, it will remain higher than seemed likely even a few months ago." (Sunday Times)

"Tony Juniper: Global warming can be averted without nuclear power" - "We must, with regret, accept Hugh Montefiore's resignation as a trustee of Friends of the Earth." | Global warming row goes nuclear as bishop quits Friends of the Earth (Independent)

"Green guru sets off nuclear explosion" - "THE growing row among Britain’s leading environmentalists over the “positive” benefits of nuclear power is set to be inflamed by the publication of a scientific paper by James Lovelock, author of the Gaia theory and one of the country’s most respected green thinkers.

Lovelock, 85, spoke out earlier this year to warn that the world must turn to nuclear power as the only realistic alternative to the fossil fuels that cause global warming.

Now he has written a paper for the journal of the Royal Meteorological Society in which he strengthens his views." (Jonathan Leake, Sunday Times)

"Battle brewing as RSPB objects to Lewis wind farms" - "POWERFUL conservation groups and energy multinationals are about to be pitched into battle over plans for the world’s biggest wind farm on the Isle of Lewis.

In an environmental clash to rival any that Scotland has seen, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Scottish Natural Heritage will be trying to stop British Energy and AMEC erecting 234 massive wind turbines across 40 kilometres of bog around Stornoway.

For the conservationists, the plan is a disaster because it would wreck the habitat of thousands of endangered birds. For the developers, it is a money-spinner that will rejuvenate the local economy and help combat climate change." (Sunday Herald)

"Britain seeks wave power" - "HAYLE - Denmark catches the most wind for power. Japan absorbs the most sun. Now Britain wants to rule the waves. Wave and tidal stream machines are the latest exploratory technology in the rush to find alternative energy sources to replace fossil fuels with soaring price tags." (Reuters)

"Bioterror threat is growing, say medics" - "The world faces a growing risk that terrorists will use new biological weapons created by genetic engineering, the British Medical Association will warn this week." (London Independent)

"Food Not Politics" - "Should California embrace the future or turn back the clock? That’s the question thousands of Golden State voters will face on November 2. No, I’m not talking about the presidential election. President Bush and Senator Kerry may not agree on a lot of things--Iraq, tax cuts, Social Security, etc.--but both of them support agricultural biotechnology, according to an American Farm Bureau survey. Activists in four California counties, however, are now trying to ban what Bush and Kerry endorse--a mainstream farming choice utilizing technology that’s accepted by scientists, conservationists, and the majority of men and women who work the land in my state, around the nation and across the globe." (Ted Sheely, Truth About Trade & Technology)

October 22, 2004

"Activists, Not Global Warming, a Third-World Threat" - "A coalition of environmental activists called this week for rich countries to do more to control global warming and to help poor nations cope with the alleged effects of climate change." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Russian Duma Set to Ratify Kyoto Environment Pact" - "MOSCOW - Russia's parliament was due to vote on Friday on ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, the last hurdle before the long-delayed climate change treaty comes into force worldwide.

Russian ratification would push the 126-nation U.N. pact, aimed at battling global warming through curbing greenhouse gas emissions, over the threshold of 55 percent of developed nations' emissions needed to make it internationally binding.

Friday's vote in the State Duma, controlled by pro-Kremlin parties, is the key to ratification, although if approved the bill still has to go through the upper house and be signed into law by its key advocate, President Vladimir Putin." (Reuters)

"Kyoto and the European Right" - "Cardinal Richelieu, the powerful chief minister of the French King Louis XIII, used to say that politics is the art of the possible. However cynical, he may be right, as Russian president Putin seems to have well understood. The State Duma is likely to ratify the Kyoto Protocol -- which was strongly opposed by Moscow until a few months ago -- as a political trade off. Approving the climate treaty is the bill Russia has to pay in order to get European Union's support for joining the World Trade Organization." (Carlo Stagnaro, TCS)

"Australian Government adamant it will not approve Kyoto" - "CANBERRA, Oct 22 - As Russia prepares to vote to ratify the Kyoto protocol and allow the global climate change pact to come into force, Australia's conservative government remained adamant on Friday it would not approve the treaty." (Reuters)

Oh, Epstein... "Global warming effects faster than feared -experts" - "WASHINGTON, Oct 21 - Recent storms, droughts and heat waves are probably being caused by global warming, which means the effects of climate change are coming faster than anyone had feared, climate experts said on Thursday." (Reuters)

"Some scientists say global warming could intensify hurricanes" - "As though this hurricane season hasn't been bad enough, several scientists warned Thursday that global warming could turbocharge future hurricanes -- making them stronger and wetter.

''The atmospheric composition is changing as a result of human activities,'' Kevin Trenberth, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., said during a conference call with reporters. ``The environment in which hurricanes form is changing.'' (Miami Herald)

"New 'El Niño' can bring Siberian winters" - "Climate researchers are warning that wide areas of Northern Europe can get much colder winters if a strong, new 'El Niño' effect takes root in the Pacific Ocean. Norway can end up with Siberian conditions." (Aftenposten)

"UK carbon output 'under-reported'" - "The UK government is misleading people by failing to report all the carbon emissions it is causing, campaigners say." (BBC Online)

"Trade in carbon credits takes off" - "Chilean pig manure carries a strange allure for the power generation sectors of Japan and Canada. This summer, Canada's Transalta electric utility and Japan's Tokyo Electric Power signed a ground-breaking deal with Agrosuper, Chile's leading pork producer. Pig products hold the key to helping the power companies fulfil their obligations to lower global greenhouse gas emissions and to do their part in slowing down climate change." (Financial Times)

"Experts see solar power competitive in next decade" - "Solar energy will become economically competitive in the next decade or so and supply a significant amount of the world's power after 2020, industry experts told a conference." (Reuters)

"Global warming row goes nuclear as bishop quits Friends of the Earth" - "He's the nearest thing Britain has to an eco-bishop, having campaigned on environmental issues for more than 30 years.

Yet now the Right Rev Hugh Montefiore, the former Bishop of Birmingham, has been kicked off the board of Friends of the Earth (FoE), the leading environmental group, for saying publicly that the fight against global warming should involve using nuclear power." (Independent)

"Hugh Montefiore: We need nuclear power to save the planet from looming catastrophe" - "I've been a Friends of the Earth trustee for 20 years, but I am told it is incompatible with being pro nuclear energy" (Independent)

"Gwynne Dyer: Warming world makes N-power look good again" - "The worst possible nuclear disasters are not as bad as the worst possible climate change disasters, the Centre for Alternative Technology in Britain declared recently. It urged "a modest revival of nuclear energy ... to sell the idea to the sceptics." (New Zealand Herald)

"Environmentalists battle use of ozone depleter" - "Environmentalists say action by two agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture, will cause an increase in production of a substance called methyl bromide." (Cox News Service)

"Australia biggest 'ecological footprint'" - "HUMANITY'S reliance on fossil fuels, the spread of cities, the destruction of natural habitats for farmland and the exploitation of the oceans are outstripping the planet's capacity to cope, the conservation group WWF said today.

The biggest culprits are residents of Australia, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, Kuwait and Sweden, who leave the biggest "ecological footprint", the World Wide Fund for Nature said in its regular Living Planet Report." (AP)

Indoctrination works: "Yomiuri poll shows growing environmental concern" - "More than 90 percent of respondents to a recent Yomiuri Shimbun survey said they felt concerned about the global environment, marking highest figure recorded in the four surveys taken since 1992.

Forty-five percent of respondents said they favored the introduction of environmental taxes to tackle global warming issues, outnumbering the 28 percent opposed to such a tax. The findings clearly show there is strong public support for measures to conserve the environment." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

"Calculating computing's environmental cost" - "The life-cycle costs of personal computers are surprisingly high, according to the most detailed analysis yet conducted. The 'materials intensity' of computer manufacturing is 10x higher than cars, which is especially troubling given their short useful lifetimes." (Environmental Science & Technology)

"The last post" - "One week ago Clark County was just another county in Ohio. Then came a campaign to pair Guardian readers with its undecided voters and suddenly the world knew its name. G2's editor, Ian Katz, looks back on seven days of email spleen, air-mailed letters, media frenzy and dodgy dentistry and asks: were we right?" (The Guardian)

Actually Ian, far from right. Your publication is viewed more along the lines of clinging-to-the-edge-of-a-flat-earth-by-your-fingernails, really big 'L' Left. The colossal arrogance displayed in presuming to interfere in another sovereign nation's democratic elections is a symptom of that same psychosis.

Oh, and Ian? Mrs Rosicka, director of the Clark County board of elections, would really appreciate The Guardian actually paying for the electoral role, as promised.

Oh dear... "Junkyard of toxins?" - "Consumption of hybrid varieties of food crops have transferred resistant viruses in our bodies, creating super viruses.

How else do you explain Sars, bird flu or mad cow disease. Till now diseases never travelled from plant to animals to humans. We have created a tunnel allowing movement of dreaded viruses." (Vandana Shiva, Deccan Herald)

"Re-Inventing the Flu Vaccine" - "If ya wanna make a flu vaccine, ya gotta break a few eggs. Actually, over a million. The current "hen oviduct bioreactor technology" (a.k.a., using eggs) takes up to nine months in its entirety. That means if health authorities goof in choosing the viral strains they think will be prevalent in the winter, or we have a flu-shot shortage like this year, it's too late to start a new batch. People get sick; people die.

But two biotechnology methods will change that. One is reverse genetics, which precisely replicates only the viral genes that must be grown into vaccine. The other is the multiply of that vaccine in mammalian cells. Both scramble the egg technique and slash manufacturing time, allowing a quick and life-saving turnaround in production of new doses." (Michael Fumento, TCS)

"Pharms Take Root in South Africa" - "CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- Most people probably wouldn't associate the leafy green tobacco plant with saving lives. But to Dr. Blessed Okole, the maligned cash crop is a potential gold mine of affordable medicine and vaccines for the overlooked diseases afflicting the developing world.

In the laboratories of the Council for Science and Industrial Research, or CSIR, South African researchers are honing techniques for turning genetically engineered tobacco and other crops into factories for producing drugs for HIV and tuberculosis. With a bit of genetic engineering, Okole says, plants' cellular machinery can be tweaked to produce antibodies on a large scale and far more cheaply than conventional drug-manufacturing methods allow." (Wired News)

"GM Foods May Be Healthier Than Conventional Food - New Report" - "GENETICALLY Modified food many be healthier than conventional food is the message presented according to a new report by the Union of the German Academies of Science and Humanities. The report, released in Cologne, Germany, during the AgBiotech International Conference (ABIC) boldly declares that “GM products offer the advantage that they have been exceptionally thoroughly tested with respect to health risks.” (Ahbfi.org)

"Politicians, professors and protesters target sustainable, GM-free agriculture" - "'We will continue with our fight against GMOs even if we have to be punished and even if we have to go back to prison,' José Bové, a leading French campaigner against genetically modified organisms, told a conference of experts and policy makers in Brussels on 20 October." (Cordis)

"Development: Boost Biotech in South, Report Urges" - "The science of biotechnology could save tens of millions of lives each year in developing countries if the technology is shared equitably, says a new report to the United Nations.

New medical tools that quickly and accurately diagnose diseases like AIDS and malaria top a list of 10 biotech breakthroughs that could dramatically improve health in developing countries within a decade, according to 'Genomics and Global Health', commissioned by the U.N.'s Millennium Project and released Oct. 8.

However, a new global institute to share and promote the health benefits of new technologies will be needed to ensure that the current "genomics gap" between developed and developing countries does not dramatically widen, the report adds." (Inter Press Service)

October 21, 2004

"A teaspoon of natural honey may poison you" - "An outbreak of "mad" honey poisoning from the Black Sea area of Turkey is reported in the Emergency Medicine Journal." (Independent)

"Car fumes and traffic stress trigger heart attacks" - "Travelling in traffic, either in a car or on public transport, almost trebles the risk of a heart attack for at least an hour afterwards, a study has found." (Independent)

"Court rules whales, dolphins can't sue Bush" - "The world's whales, porpoises and dolphins have no standing to sue President George W Bush over the US Navy's use of sonar equipment that harms marine mammals, a federal appeals court has ruled. The ruling was made by a three-judge panel of the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, widely considered one of the most liberal and activist in the country. It said it saw no reason why animals should not be allowed to sue but said they had not been granted that right." (Reuters)

"Risks from low-level radiation reassessed" - "The risk of getting cancer from tiny amounts of radioactivity inside the body could be 10 times higher than previously thought. The new finding could prompt a rethink of the international safety limits for exposure to such radiation." (New Scientist)

"Environmental Progress" - "Workshop examines whether voluntary actions or mandatory regulations are best for clean environment.

Overall, workshop participants came to no definitive conclusions about its title, “Global Environmental Health in the 21st Century: From Governmental Regulation to Corporate Social Responsibility.” But its discussions are likely to serve as a springboard for further explorations of the link between command-and-control regulations and voluntary industry actions on environmental protection." (Chemical & Engineering News)

"Rethinking atmospheric mercury" - "Instead of spending up to two years in the atmosphere, elemental mercury is being oxidized in a matter of months, according to a spate of recently published and soon-to-be-published studies. The new research is having a major impact on our understanding of the global mercury cycle, say the scientists involved." (ES&T)

"State cancels speech about frogs" - "A scientist from the University of California, Berkeley, was to be keynote speaker at an upcoming conference sponsored by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Then state officials learned the topic of his speech: his latest research linking the herbicide atrazine to frog abnormalities." (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

"How the Bush administration is helping forests" - "So-called environmentalists clog the system with lawsuits to restore misguided Clinton-era policies" (John Peterson, Pennsylvania Post-Gazette)

"Kerry wins fans abroad with global warming plan" - "OSLO, Oct 20 - Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry has won plaudits abroad for his promises to fight global warming but could find his hands tied at home if he wins next month's U.S. elections." (Reuters)

"Global warming shift gets cold shoulder" - "Aside from an occasional warning, such as the environmental horror film The Day After Tomorrow, concerns about carbon-dioxide-spewing cars and factories warming the Earth have been forgotten this election season. Perhaps for good reason. An international treaty to curb emissions of "greenhouse" gases had appeared dead. And the Bush administration, which opposes the treaty because of potential job losses, has taken a laissez-faire approach to the problem.

Now, the issue is suddenly front and center on the world stage, if not in the election. This month, Russia unexpectedly moved to join the Kyoto Protocol, which would limit emissions to 1990 levels for most industrial countries. With 126 nations aboard, the treaty can go into force." (USA TODAY)

"Kyoto is unfair to U.S." - "In July 1997, the Senate voted 95-0 for a resolution opposing any international treaty that would damage the economy by restricting energy usage, raising the cost of fuels for transportation, heating and electricity.

This unanimous vote included Sen. John Kerry, and Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., who are currently advocating just such restrictions. But the resolution was right. A treaty obligating developed nations but not China, India, Brazil and Mexico would produce huge U.S. job losses as industries moved overseas.

However, because of the initiative of then-vice president Al Gore, the U.S. signed just such a treaty, the protocol negotiated in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997. But President Clinton never submitted it for Senate ratification. And President Bush has consistently declared Kyoto "fatally flawed." (S. Fred Singer, USA TODAY)

"EU Approves Eight National Emissions Trading Plans" - "BRUSSELS - The European Commission moved forward with a landmark emissions trading system on Wednesday by approving eight national plans that allocate how much carbon dioxide (CO2) industrial plants are allowed to emit." (Reuters)

Whatever else is said about it, this sure caught the imagination of the media: "Up in smoke" - "The report, Up in Smoke, says that global warming threatens to reverse human progress, and make the international targets on halving global poverty by 2015, known as the Millennium Development Goals, unattainable." (Christian Aid)

Today's meaching: "Political will is needed to deliver Kyoto's goal" - "Russia's ratification of the Kyoto protocol - which could come as early as this Friday - is the breakthrough that makes the commitments of the signatory countries to the climate change agreement legally binding. It is great news. But is it enough?

The best the Kyoto protocol can now achieve, with the US still outside it, is a 2 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2010, compared with the 1990 baseline. Yet the scientists say we need a reduction of 60 per cent to arrest global warming. In fact, because developing countries, notably China and India, which are industrialising fast, are still declining to ratify the protocol, the greenhouse gas emissions of the planet as a whole are likely to increase by around 75 per cent by 2020." (Michael Meacher, Financial Times)

"Forget climate change, that's the least of our worries, say Nobel winners" - "Economists brought together by controversial scientist say money would be better spent on Aids, water and free trade." (John Vidal, The Guardian)

"EU to offer rewards to ‘good’ poor countries" - "The European Union is to open its markets as a reward to developing countries that adopt progressive environmental and labour policies in an example of the “soft power” it says is the mark of its approach to foreign policy.

Developing countries that implement the Kyoto protocol and other international treaties on human rights, labour standards and the environment will be rewarded with a lighter tariff burden, Pascal Lamy, the EU trade commissioner, announced on Wednesday." (Financial Times)

"Clean coal: A good investment?" - "NEW YORK - Big money is pouring into "clean coal" -- hyped as an environmentally friendly resource that can keep the lights on and break our dependence on foreign oil -- but some critics question whether the investment is worth it." (CNN/Money)

"$1bn for 'cleaner' gas-fired power" - "A major power generator will bet its money on a big increase in power prices or a new carbon tax regime by announcing plans for a gas-fired electricity plant in Victoria at almost twice the running cost of a coal-fired plant." (Sydney Australian)

"Greenpeace activists chain themselves to Spanish nuclear plant" - "Activists from environmental group Greenpeace on Tuesday blocked the entrance to the main Spanish nuclear plant, urging the government to honour its promise to abandon nuclear energy." (Agence France-Presse)

"Coppice willow fuels big UK power supply deal" - "LONDON, Oct 21 - UK utility RWE npower will start burning willow branches as well as coal at its Didcot power plant after signing the country's first major purchase order for renewable biomass supplies." (Reuters)

"NIGER : From Wood to Coal in an Effort to Stop Deforestation" - "NIAMEY, Oct 20 The competition between energy and environmental needs in Niger has taken centre stage of late, with authorities seeking to promote the use of coal in a bid to halt deforestation in the North African country." (IPS)

"Was 20th Century Unusually Wet?" - "The American Southwest is in the seventh year of a drought that could have a profound impact across the entire country and, in the end, stand as a stark monument to human exploitation of a land of limited resources." (ABC News)

"Incentives for US farmers reduce water waste" - "Subsidized "cheap water" for irrigating US crops encourages waste of an increasing scarce resource--60 percent of U.S. water intended for crop irrigation never reaches the crops--according to a report by Cornell University ecologists. (BioScience., October 2004)" (Cornell University News Service)

"Water scarcity: A looming crisis?" - "As part of Planet Under Pressure, a BBC News Online series looking at some of the biggest environmental problems facing humanity, Alex Kirby explores fears of an impending global water crisis." (BBC News Online)

"Organic chicken warning" - "Food safety officials were last night trying to establish how 23 tonnes of organic free-range chicken sold from stores around Britain and Ireland contained a cancer-causing chemical banned in livestock since 1995." (The Guardian)

"Human gene number slashed" - "Human genome researchers have said we have about 10,000 or 20,000 fewer genes than they originally estimated." (BBC News Online)

"Passage of GMO ban in San Luis Obispo would encourage use of harsh pesticides" - "Voters in San Luis Obispo County are being encouraged by the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) to vote "No" on November Ballot Measure Q. By banning the growing of genetically modified crops, Measure Q would encourage the continued widespread use of harsh chemical pesticides in farming." (Medical News Today)

"Biotech crops get a rave review" - "U.S. farmers who plant genetically modified crops are saving more money, reducing environmental damage and producing more per acre, a study released Wednesday shows." (Post-Dispatch)

"Organic, conventional farmers clash in GMO debate" - "EUREKA -- Technically, Tuesday night's debate over whether Humboldt County should ban genetically modified organisms was not a debate -- since even the ban's supporters have dropped support for the legally flawed Measure M.

But while the November ballot measure may be dead in the water, the issue of whether genetically modified organisms can help solve world hunger or permanently infect the world's food supply remains very much alive." (The Times-Standard)

October 20, 2004

"Vaccine efficacy: winning a battle (not war) against malaria" - "A comment in the Lancet celebrates the possibility of a malaria vaccine, but warns the world not to let to much ride on this one vaccine:" (AFM)

"Vaccine Policies Need a Booster" - "Infectious viral diseases are not the dreaded killers and cripplers they were a half-century ago, but they still exact a huge toll. Year after year in this country, influenza kills between 10,000 and 100,000 and requires the hospitalization of at least hundreds of thousands. During the past two years, the mosquito-spread West Nile virus has caused more than 11,000 serious illnesses and about 300 deaths. Almost four million Americans have been infected with Hepatitis C virus, and there are 25,000 new cases annually. Outbreaks of gastroenteritis caused by Norwalk virus continue to bedevil cruise ships, prisons, dormitories and other institutions.

American drug and biotech companies should be burning the midnight oil working on vaccines to prevent such diseases, but flawed public policy has discouraged vaccine development to such an extent that supplies of life-saving vaccines even for common infectious diseases are in jeopardy." (Henry I. Miller, TCS)

"Roger Bate: WHO needs reform, not more money" - "The World Health Organization, an embattled U.N. agency, has been fending off malaria and AIDS malpractice allegations and generic drug scandals most of this year. Yet this poor track record did not dissuade your newspaper from arguing in an Oct. 13 editorial that WHO deserves more money to fund its quixotic and rapidly disintegrating plan to treat 3 million AIDS victims by 2005 (" '3 by 5' / A daft but crucial dream").

Instead, Congress and health observers should be asking a simple question: How is it that what should be the world's premier health institution can be failing so badly in health?" (Roger Bate, Star Tribune)

"Whooping cough makes a national comeback" - "Commonly known as whooping cough, pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial infection that causes severe coughing and often masquerades as common ailments such as a cold or the flu. Recent outbreaks have prompted a growing concern in the public health community that parents and teens are not aware of these trends and may assume this highly contagious disease, which can be serious in infants, is just a cough." (Cohn & Wolfe)

"Danger From Depleted Uranium Is Found Low in Pentagon Study" - "WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 - A Pentagon-sponsored study of weapons made from depleted uranium, a substance whose use has attracted environmental protests around the world, has concluded that it is neither toxic enough nor radioactive enough to be a health threat to soldiers in the doses they are likely to receive." (New York Times)

"Lewis Wolpert: 'Doctors could play an important role in food irradiation'" - "Certain words from science have a negative effect. "Clone" is a good example. But worse is "radiation", which is associated with all sorts of evils, particularly nuclear power." (Independent)

"Tyranny of visions: Part III" - "Nowhere is the tyranny of visions more absolute than with issues involving safety. Attempts to talk about costs, tradeoffs or diminishing returns are only likely to provoke safety zealots to respond with something like, "If it saves just one human life, it is worth it." (Thomas Sowell, The Washington Times)

"Unseen comets may raise impact risk for Earth" - "Thousands of dark objects could be hiding in our Solar System." (News @ Nature)

For Gaia types: "Global climate change to kill Earth with ice and deserts" - "Planet Earth is a live organism, which reacts instantly to 'wounds'" (Pravda.Ru)

"Global warming a bigger threat to poor" - "Global warming threatens to reverse human progress, and make unachievable all UN targets to reduce poverty, according to some of the world's leading international and development groups.

In a report published today, Oxfam, Greenpeace, Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth, WWF and 15 other groups say rich governments must immediately address climate change to avoid even "obscene levels" of worldwide poverty." (John Vidal, The Guardian)

Presumably, their idea of "addressing climate change" involves energy rationing schemes like Kyoto and worse but there is no indication of how crippling the global economy will reduce poverty, as the article seems to imply.

They are correct, however, in stating the the poor are most severely affected by adverse events - the cure for which would appear to be cranking up the global economy with associated development and wealth generating opportunities to address poverty. Sadly, their "cure" for poverty is to make it worse and the already poor even more vulnerable. Go figure...

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"Carbon Sequestration by Grasslands in a CO 2 -Enriched World" - "Trees rank high on the list of schemes for sequestering carbon to mitigate global warming; but don't underestimate the potential of more mundane grasslands, which are slowly but surely being transformed into considerably more attractive carbon repositories by the ongoing rise in the air's CO 2 content." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Climate Oscillations (Centennial Variability)" - "Earth's climate, although typically described in terms of time-averaged statistics, is always in flux, varying simultaneously on a number of different timescales.  In this Summary, we discus the results of several peer-reviewed scientific journal articles that treat this subject at the level of century-scale variability." (co2science.org)

"Long-Term Studies (Woody Plants: Lifetime Exposure to Elevated CO 2 )" - "How have shrubs and trees growing near natural CO 2 springs and vents responded to the elevated atmospheric CO 2 concentrations to which they have been exposed throughout their entire lives?" (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: Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, Sweet Vernal Grass and White Clover." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"Atmospheric Temperature and Greenhouse Gas Concentration in the Vostok Ice Core Record" - "Can the similar temporal behaviors of the two parameters be finely enough resolved to reveal which plays the leading role in the oscillations they exhibit over the past four glacial cycles?" (co2science.org)

"North Atlantic Storminess" - "Will it worsen if the globe continues to warm?" (co2science.org)

"Old-Growth Forests: Can They Still Sequester Significant Amounts of Carbon?" - "Most organisms gradually lose their mid-life vitality as they grow ever older.  Trees of half a millennium in age, however, are exhibiting a striking stubbornness in not succumbing to this long-held expectation." (co2science.org)

"Ocean Productivity: Its Response to Global Warming" - "Climate alarmists often pontificate about the dire consequences they foresee for life in the world's oceans if the globe warms as predicted by state-of-the-art climate models.  So what is the real status of research into this subject?" (co2science.org)

"Elevated Levels of Atmospheric CO 2 vs. UV-B Radiation Stress in the Marine Environment" - "Can the biological benefits of the former do anything to alleviate the damage typically caused by the latter in marine phytoplankton?" (co2science.org)

"A Political Trade-Off" - "Russia has agreed to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in exchange for EU support for Russian WTO membership" (Alexander Koksharov, Gateway to Russia)

"Global quest for 'Mr Green' ends just down the road" - "The London mayor's new climate change agency has found its leader - the man who made Woking a pioneer of energy efficiency." (The Guardian)

"Falling emissions fail to stem calls for CO2 tax" - "The Federal Energy Office has warned that some kind of tax on carbon dioxide emissions is inevitable if Switzerland is to meet global and national targets." (swissinfo)

"Scientist envisions small-scale hydropower" - "A scientist says the United States could more than double its hydropower supply by harnessing the energy of smaller streams." (Associated Press)

"Bacteria are genetically modified by lightning" - "Lightning is nature’s own genetic engineer. By opening up pores in soil bacteria it allows them to pick up any stray DNA present, report Timothy Vogel, Pascal Simonet and their colleagues at the University of Lyon in France.

This hitherto unknown phenomenon might help explain why gene swapping is so common among bacteria." (New Scientist)

"Farmers Defend Engineered Crops" - "Ballot measures in four counties would ban genetically modified agricultural products -- 'Frankenfood' to foes." (Los Angeles Times)

"ASPB opposes proposed ban of GMOs in Humboldt county ballot measure M" - "Jailing of farmers, scientists for use of safe, innovative technologies is unjust, anti-science, and harmful to American agriculture" (American Society of Plant Biologists)

For the black helicopter crowd: "Greenpeace releases GM corn study" - "Environmentalists make public a report they say the U.S. and Mexican government are trying to bury." (The Herald Mexico)

October 19, 2004

"Experts debate benefits, dangers of chlorine in C&EN point-counterpoint" - "Two leading experts in the field of chlorine chemistry, Terrence Collins, professor of chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University, and C.T. (Kip) Howlett Jr., executive director of the Chlorine Chemistry Council and vice president of the American Chemistry Council, exchange views in a point-counterpoint debate about the benefits and dangers of chlorine in the Oct. 18 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society." (American Chemical Society)

"Environment fears over household chemical" - "New research was called for today over fears that tricoslan-- a common anti-bacterial agent used in soap, toothpaste, mouthwash and cosmetics-- might be having an effect on the environment and wildlife." (PA News)

"Air fresheners and aerosols may harm mothers and babies" - "Air fresheners and other household sprays could damage pregnant women and new-born babies, according to a study linking aerosols with a range of disorders in mothers and children." (Independent)

"Setback in search for Gulf war illness cause" - "Studies on monkeys designed to test whether the combination of vaccine jabs and tablets to protect troops against nerve agents might have contributed to illness among veterans of the first Gulf war have failed to establish any link, it emerged yesterday.

Results from the government-funded experiments on marmosets at Porton Down, Wiltshire, have yet to be published in peer-reviewed scientific literature, but a scientist overseeing the project, David Ray of Nottingham University, said yesterday: "Results do not indicate any clear interaction." (The Guardian)

"War syndrome 'will not be solved'" - "The causes of "Gulf war syndrome" are still not known and probably never will be, experts believe." (BBC Online)

"Passive smoking threat underlined" - "Breathing in secondhand smoke massively increases the risk of lung cancer and heart disease, an official report by medical scientists shows. Ministers have sat on the results for months amid fears it will fuel calls for a ban on smoking in public places, claim campaigners. They say there can now be no excuse for not introducing a total ban. The Department of Health said the report contained no new evidence and simply pulled together available data." (BBC Online)

"Regulatory Overdose: What's a drug good for? Don't ask the FDA, says this economist" - "Fans of the nanny state might prefer to bar the use of drugs for any patients or purposes the FDA hasn't approved. But George Mason University economist Alexander Tabarrok has a different idea: Abolish FDA-required efficacy testing altogether. Such testing is a big reason it typically takes 10 to 15 years from the time a new drug is discovered until the FDA approves it for sale. In Phase I trials a company studies how a drug moves through the body and its safety for human use. Then a drug enters Phase II and Phase III trials, which typically take years and focus on efficacy as well as safety. The long wait can cost lives and runs up new-drug costs--to an estimated $900 million per successful drug.

Tabarrok says this system makes little sense; the FDA demands costly, time-consuming efficacy tests for some uses and no tests for others. And while the FDA allows off-label prescribing by docs, it strictly limits the drugmakers' promotion of such uses to doctors and permits none at all to patients" (Ira Carnahan, Forbes Magazine)

"Knowledge is Health" - "You might think everybody in the West enjoys the right to free speech. But this is not necessarily true. At least in Europe.

If you are an executive of a research-based pharmaceutical company and want to pass along information to patients about treating what ails them, you either have to shut up or go to jail. An EU-wide law prohibits pharmaceutical advertising while at the same time allowing herbalists and makers of margarine to hawk the cholesterol-lowering benefits of their products. Paradoxically, the more scientific-based your information, the harder is to communicate it to the general public." (Carlo Stagnaro, TCS)

This week, good: "HRT may help to prolong women's lives" - "Fears over the safety of hormone replacement therapy may have been misplaced and the drugs could actually help to prolong a woman's life, research has found." (Independent)

"Bringing Together Nations to Check Earth's Pulse" - "To hear the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tell it, NOAA represents America's best bet for solving widespread problems including poor air quality and coping with an expanding global population." (Washington Post)

Well DUH! "Environmental issues lose political clout" - "President Bush has received an "F" rating from the Sierra Club, and the comparatively conservative National Parks Conservation Association has declared his administration an official threat to the parks. Other groups have declared Bush the worst president regarding the environment in recent history.

The League of Conservation Voters, in contrast, has given Democratic candidate John Kerry one of its highest ratings ever on environmental and conservation issues.

But to the frustration of environmentalists, their issues are having only marginal impact on a bitterly contested race that has been overwhelmingly dominated by the war in Iraq and the struggling economy." (Chicago Tribune)

Isn't that the darnedest thing? People engaged in a war against apparently deranged zealots who have the sole aim of destroying a culture and lifestyle are less inclined to fuss over the habitat requirements of the allegedly rare and endangered slightly-rusty VW Beetle, or whatever happens to be the current poster child of some pressure group in serious need of priority adjustment.

"France and Australia resume Southern Ocean carbon dioxide research" - "French and Australian scientists resume measurements of Antarctic waters south of Australia this week to assess their capacity as a massive oceanic sponge to absorb greenhouse gases and store them away for hundreds or perhaps thousands of years." (CSIRO Australia)

"Storms devastate bat population" - "Summer storms are being blamed for devastating Scotland's bat population prompting fears that global warming could jeopardise the future of the species." (Independent)

"Compromise on fluorinated greenhouse gases: reactions" - "In Short: European carmakers say they will be "challenged" by the decision to phase out HFC-134a in air conditioning. Producers of F-gases find it a "reasonable" deal while environmentalists are critical." (EurActiv)

"'Best practices' cited as Kyoto approach" - "Environment Minister Stephane Dion says he doesn't see any point in debating whether Canada can meet its Kyoto target for cutting greenhouse emissions." (London Free Press)

"Putin's party backs Kyoto Protocol" - "Moscow, Russia, Oct. 18 -- Russia's dominant United Russia party has agreed to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, the Interfax news agency reported Monday. United Russia supports President Vladimir Putin and has a majority of seats in the State Duma, the main chamber of the Russian parliament." (UPI)

"Russian parliament set to debate Kyoto treaty" - "MOSCOW - The Russian parliament will debate and possibly vote on the Kyoto Protocol on Friday, with ratification of the UN's global warming pact all but assured in the pro-Kremlin chamber." (AFP)

"Column: Four anti-GMO initiatives next month firefight leading to larger war" - "This anti-biotech movement is not about biotech — it is about right-to-farm. It is a free choice issue. Who is to say this group will stop at banning GMOs? What would be next; no tractors more than 10 horsepower in farming; everyone must plant a certain percentage of organic crops, regardless of the economic consequences; dairyman can milk only a limited number of cows per day. If these groups are only marginally successful, they will not stop at banning GMOs.

Or the most absurd of all, that farmers can be arrested for growing herbicide-tolerant corn. That is exactly what the anti-GMO measure would demand if passed in Humboldt County, one of four counties where anti-biotech measures are on the ballot next month. Humboldt has the highest percentage of biotech crops of any other county in the state. It is all herbicide resistant corn, and this group of anti-science whackos want to arrest farmers for growing biotech corn." (Harry Cline, Western Farm Press)

"Brazil GM move sparks row" - "Brazilian President Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva has provoked controversy by approving the temporary planting of genetically modified soya beans." (BBC Online)

"Spanish maize farmers prove the concept of co-existence, says biotech industry" - "Having strengthened its regulations on the traceability and labelling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the Commission has recently lifted the EU's de facto moratorium on the technology and begun authorising new varieties for sale in Europe.

Despite this clear political endorsement of GM food and feed products, however, many consumers and retailers remain opposed to the technology, and while millions of tonnes of genetically modified crops are grown and consumed in other areas of the world, Europe's countryside remains virtually GM free.

That is why the biotechnology industry in Europe is so keen to promote the example being set by maize farmers in Spain, where GM corn varieties have been grown alongside conventional crops for the last seven years. This year, some 60,000 hectares of Bt maize are being cultivated commercially around the country, representing around 12 per cent of Spain's total maize harvest." (Cordis)

October 18, 2004

"California's Stem Cell Scam" - "Proposition to allow stem cell research in California backed by those who would profit." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"High death toll from indoor smoke" - "Thick acrid smoke rising from stoves and fires inside homes causes around 1.6m deaths a year in developing countries, say experts." (BBC Online)

"Expert remedies to solve a whole world of problems" - "It's a task that would cow Hercules and a mission that has eluded world leaders. But now a group of economists has attempted to solve the planet's biggest problems.

They have produced a list of 17 projects - tackling disease, war, famine and corruption - which they claim are the best way for the world to spend its limited funds." (The Observer)

"Japan told to pay over mercury dumping" - "Japan's top court ordered the government yesterday to pay $703,000 in damages to be divided among victims of the Minamata mercury poisoning, 22 years after their case was filed over an industrial-pollution disaster that killed more than 1,700 people and caused some mothers to give birth to deformed babies." (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Today's "hand ringer"? "Your old mobile is destroying the planet" - "Governments from around the world will meet next week to tackle the latest toxic waste crisis - mobile phones." (Independent)

"Weather, herbicides blamed for smaller butterfly migration" - "Annual fall return of monarch butterflies smallest in 14 years, some experts say." (American-Statesman)

"New trees cancel out air pollution cuts" - "Industry has dramatically cut its emissions of pollutants, called volatile organic compounds. But those cuts have been more than offset by the amount of VOCs churned out by trees. The revelation challenges the notion that planting trees is a good way to clean up the atmosphere." (New Scientist)

Uh-oh... Ronald Reagan was Right

"Multi-species herbivore outbreak follows El Niño drought in Panama" - "Plant-eating insects inhabit all forest ecosystems, but sometimes their numbers explode, resulting in massive tree defoliation. In the October issue of the Journal of Tropical Ecology researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) associate a severe moth outbreak with drought conditions following the 1997-1998 El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event in a dry lowland forest near Panama's Pacific coast. If ENSO events become more common, repeated herbivore outbreaks might alter forest species composition." (Smithsonian Institution)

"Much Ado About Nothing" - "The British press lit up earlier this week with a story about an unprecedented and surprising ‘jump’ in the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide. But a check of data from Mauna Loa reveals nothing of the kind. Instead, recent fluctuations appear to be part of natural variability." (GES)

"The Chimera of Carbon Dioxide Increase" - "It never fails to amaze how the media gullibly makes every piece of greenhouse gas trivia into a feeding frenzy about global warming. A claim currently making the international media rounds is that for the past two years carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have been increasing at an annual rate greater than two parts per million (ppm). This is to be compared with previous rates of about 1.5 ppm, and described as a cause of concern. One report (The Australian, 13/10) closes with "A further fear is that extra human emissions … may be blunting the planets ability to absorb carbon dioxide -- which, in the worst scenario, could lead to runaway warming".

If this sort of reading is what regularly accompanies breakfast, it is no wonder that susceptible members of the community are racked by depression, turning to drugs for escape, or constipated from fear!

The sad fact of the matter is that the little gem of reporting is no more than speculation based on statistical spin. Some relevant numbers have been collated and interpreted for the media as something alarming. The truth is much more prosaic." (William Kininmonth, TCS)

"Global Warming Bombshell" - "A prime piece of evidence linking human activity to climate change turns out to be an artifact of poor mathematics." (Richard Muller, Technology Review) | Corrections to the Mann et. al. (1998) Proxy Data Base and Northern Hemispheric Average Temperature Series (Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick)

The Week That Was Oct. 16, 2004 (SEPP)

"Kyoto Protocol: Russia Does The Right Thing" - "Environmental and sustainable business coalitions unit to praise Russian l e adership for seeking ratification of Kyoto Protocol" (Sustainable Energy Coalition)

"Moscow's stance on Kyoto 'smart'" - "Russia is on the verge of putting the Kyoto treaty on global warming into force, but with a wink and a nod that reflects Moscow's belief, that the toothless pact is destined to sink from its own weight." (Patrice Hill, The Washington Times)

"South Africa: Scientist paints grim global warming scenario" - "The incidence of cholera and malaria in South Africa is likely to increase dramatically during the next 50 years because of the effects of global warming." (Independent Online)

"Flights of Fancy" - "The current British hysteria over global warming, which has seen party leaders Tony Blair, Michael Howard and Charles Kennedy all vying to see which one could sign up to the most of Greenpeace's economy-destroying agenda, has stalled in one important area. The UK's Department for Transport (where I used to work when it was simply a Department of Transport) has decided that if it is supposed to be for transport, it cannot in all conscience urge people not to fly." (Iain Murray, TCS)

"Amicus Warns Winters of Blackouts Loom" - "LONDON, October 18 -- Amicus, Britain's biggest private sector union, will today (18/10/04) warn that a looming crisis in the electricity industry will lead to a winter of blackouts and further electricity price hikes.

Amicus energy workers are raising there concerns that serious problems blighting the UK's generating capacity and that blackouts affecting large parts of the country are a real possibility as European Directives start to take effect in 2005/2006. Amicus General Secretary, Derek Simpson and the NUM are arranging an imminent meeting with Gordon Brown to warn of blackouts which will be compounded by colder winters due to global warming.

EU directives most likely to cause problems are the European carbon emissions trading directive, as they would curtail the lifetime of existing power stations." (PRNewswire)

"Rising fossil fuel prices boost prospects for renewable energy" - "With oil reaching a record-high $54 a barrel and natural gas doubling in price in the last two years, renewable energy is looking a lot better - not just on environmental merits but on price.

Wind, solar, geothermal and other green power sources have long been championed by people worried about smog and global warming, but until recently they were too costly to compete.

But the soaring cost of fossil fuels is changing the economics of the energy market." (Associated Press)

"Green energy firms ratchet up customers’ bills" - "GREEN energy companies have increased customers’ bills by up to 10% and blamed rising oil and gas prices — even though the power they supply comes from renewable sources.

The price hikes have surprised many environmentally conscious consumers, who assumed that buying green electricity would shield them from fluctuations in the fossil fuels market as well as tackling global warming." (The Sunday Times)

"NIMBY threat" - "GOVERNMENT targets to generate 10 per cent of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2010 are threatened by planning restrictions. Jason Scagel, a director of E.ON Energie, the German utility giant that owns Powergen, said the 2010 target was under threat because of "NIMBYism". Wind farm developers say the target cannot be achieved within the timetable because of delays in winning planning approvals. At present, just over three per cent of electricity is powered by wind. Warnings by environmental groups of global warming risks are being increasingly ignored as high-profile campaigns try to block onshore wind farms, arguing the giant turbines wreck the view." (The Scotsman)

"UK boost for biomass fuel crops" - "The UK is to encourage the production of biomass, crops grown specially for use as environmentally-friendly fuels. The government is setting up a task force to stimulate biomass supply and demand, and offering a range of grants. Ministers hope this will help the UK to meet its targets for using renewable energy, and that it will also boost farming, forestry and the countryside." (Alex Kirby, BBC News Online)

"Nuclear Energy Is Making a Global Comeback" - "PARIS, Oct. 17 — With uncertainties increasing about supplies of natural gas and oil, nuclear energy is making a powerful global comeback, prompting concerns about atomic terrorism in the post-Sept. 11 era.

A number of countries around the world, from China to Finland and the United States, are gearing up to build new reactors as demand for electricity grows. Governments are also viewing nuclear power as a way to curb emissions of greenhouse gases, given intensifying concern over global warming." (New York Times)

"Heat may evaporate salt water solution refusal" - "A looming long dry summer has forced the State Government to reverse its resistance to a desalination plant as a solution to NSW's water-supply problems." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Perilous Crop Uniformity" - "RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct 16 - The Irish famine of 1846-1850 claimed as many as one million lives and drove millions to emigrate. It began with a blight of the potato crop, which led to total crop failure.

The famine is just one of history's illustrations of the risks that humanity could face if it continues to destroy the world's biological diversity. In Ireland, only a few strains of potatoes -- which originally came from the Andes mountains in South America -- were planted, which facilitated the spread of the black rot.

Genetic diversity is indispensable in reducing the vulnerability of crops to pests, and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) theme for this year's World Food Day, commemorated Oct. 16, is "Biodiversity for Food Security." (IPS)

"African agriculture ministers discuss GM foods" - "Nairobi, Kenya, 10/17 - African ministers of agriculture meeting here Friday to brainstorm the continent's agricultural master plan have stepped up opposition to the use of the genetically modified (GM) foods.

The ministers said there is an urgent need to develop a continental capacity to determine the safety of GM foods while most institutions are allowed to develop their capacity to scrutinise the seeds.

"I am afraid of GMOs. Let`s not be in a situation where the whole of Africa will depend on one company producing the seeds," said Kenyan Vice President Moody Awori during the meeting of agriculture ministers." (Angola Press)

Letter of the moment: "Banning biotech may deny safer foods to developing countries" - "A vote to ban biotech crops in California counties could contribute to more babies being born with undeveloped brains or other neural tube defects.

That may seem like an outrageous statement for a couple of university professors to be making, but let's examine the facts. It is a well-established fact that neural tube defects (NTDs) such as anencephaly, hydrocephaly and spina bifida occur up to six times more often among babies born to women whose diets consist largely of corn.

A large and growing body of scientific evidence has established a link between these terrible and fatal defects and fumonisin, a toxin produced when insects feed on corn. Extensive research shows that biotech Bt corn, resistant to insects, has up to 90 percent less fumonisin." (Bruce Chassy and Drew Kershen, The Tribune)

"Pope hints at thumbs-down for GM food" - "In a message for Saturday's World Food Day, Pope John Paul II stressed the need for biodiversity, suggesting reservations about the production of genetically modified foods." (Catholic News)

"Asian giants India, China bank on GM technology to feed teeming millions" - "PATENCHERU, India - Asian giants India and China are accelerating investment in biotechnology research to fight the odds in agriculture and feed their teeming millions, say scientists and officials." (AFP)

October 15, 2004

True enough: "Breakthrough Vaccine Cuts Malaria in African Kids" - "A pioneering vaccine can protect a significant proportion of African children against malaria, scientists said on Thursday, boosting hopes that the mosquito-borne disease may one day be conquered." (AFM)

Hmm... "Malaria Vaccine Proves Effective" - "For the first time, researchers say, a vaccine against malaria has shown that it can save children from infection or death.

The vaccine, tested on thousands of children in Mozambique, was hardly perfect: It protected them from catching the disease only about 30 percent of the time and prevented it from becoming life-threatening only about 58 percent of the time." (New York Times)

Better coverage: "Malaria trials bring hope of effective vaccinations" - "A vaccine against malaria, which kills up to three million people a year, could be a reality by the end of the decade, scientists involved in one of the biggest clinical trials in Africa said yesterday." (Independent)

"Chemicals Sickened '91 Gulf War Veterans, Latest Study Finds" - "WASHINGTON, Oct. 14 - A federal panel of medical experts studying illnesses among veterans of the 1991 war in the Persian Gulf has broken with several earlier studies and concluded that many suffer from neurological damage caused by exposure to toxic chemicals, rejecting past findings that the ailments resulted mostly from wartime stress." (New York Times)

And they want you to foot the bill for indoctrinating your children: "Ecologists aim to change nature of learning" - "Environmental advocates yesterday called on state lawmakers to increase public funding for environmental education, saying it can improve test scores, reduce unruly school behavior and motivate students to learn." (Seattle Times)

"Global amphibians in deep trouble" - "Scientists believe the world's amphibians are facing an unprecedented onslaught of environmental threats." (Alex Kirby, BBC News Online)

"Bioaerosols: New element in climate mystery" - "It might sound like science fiction, yet a laboratory accident is what spurred Parisa Ariya's research on the affect of bioaerosols on our climate. Until now, no scientist has included bioaerosols in climate research, yet bioaerosols may change the course of climate science." (McGill University)

"Jumbo squid catch in B.C. fuels climate change fears" - "VANCOUVER - A jumbo flying squid surprised a fisherman in British Columbia, worrying scientists who say its appearance could be another sign of global climate change." (CBC)

So, now you know: "How to be greener – eat, drink and smoke less" - "CUTTING back on food, drink and cigarettes is not only good for your health – it will also help save the Earth from global warming, according to the latest figures on greenhouse gas emissions." (The Herald)

"Russian Parliament to Ratify Kyoto Oct. 22" - "A key committee of the Russian State Duma recommended Thursday that it ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change on Oct. 22. “The committee has heard from experts and government representatives. It recommends ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, and suggests doing it on October 22,” Reuters quoted Vladimir Grachyov, head of the State Duma Ecology Committee, as saying. Although other key committees have yet to discuss the ratification, the ratification on that date is likely because Grachov is a senior member of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party that has a majority in parliament." (MosNews)

"UK's Chief Scientists Doubts CO2 Problem" - "The U.K. government's chief scientific adviser said the current rise of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere may be just an aberration, not the start of a trend. Sir David King told BBC News Online the rise in CO2 - which, at 375 parts per million, is higher than at any time in recorded history, is likely to be an anomaly, which would not be unprecedented, and not the start of a trend, unless it is proved otherwise." (UPI)

"EU Wants to Cut Greenhouse Gases in Cars, Shoes" - "LUXEMBOURG - The European Union's battle against global warming will force companies to change automobile air conditioning systems and restrict the sale of air-cushioned sports shoes, European Union ministers said on Thursday." (Reuters)

"Low-cost climate-change insurance could help ensure better future" - "Doing a little now to mitigate long-term climate change would cost much less than doing nothing and making an adjustment in the future, say scientists whose paper appears in the Oct. 15 issue of the journal Science. Implementing a carbon tax of five cents per gallon of gasoline and gradually increasing the tax over the next 30 years is the optimal solution, the researchers report." (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Optimal solution to... what, exactly?

"EPA Official Predicts Federal Regulation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions: CEI Calls for Firing of Assistant Administrator Holmstead" - "Washington, D.C., October 14, 2004— On the same day Vice President Cheney reminded us of the jobs saved by the Administration's brave stance in rejecting artificial restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions, another administration official yesterday pulled the rug from under his feet by suggesting such restrictions are inevitable. Those remarks by Jeff Holmstead are a slap in the face for coal miners and auto workers across the nation. Greenhouse gas restrictions will mean seniors pay more for their heat in the winter, families pay more for transportation and business owners pay more in energy costs. Not only that, but they will do virtually nothing to abate a rise in temperature which may prove beneficial anyway." (CEI)

"Plans for Huge Wind Turbines Jolt Kansans" - "Across the Kansas Flint Hills, farmers and ranchers are up in arms over plans by wind developers to erect hundreds of spinning turbines astride hills and ridges that encompass the largest expanse of tallgrass prairie left in North America. Situated between Kansas City and Wichita, the Flint Hills are a weekend sanctuary for many city folks, an oasis of untilled land in the Midwestern Wheat Belt.

But that proximity to populated areas and the fact the Flint Hills is an extraordinarily gusty place have made the region a target for wind-energy developers. Over the past three years, developers have floated about two dozen wind-farm projects, each potentially containing as many as 100 wind turbines.

The issue has split the environmental movement: Local chapters of the Audubon Society and Nature Conservancy say the turbines would befoul the landscape and harm wildlife, while Kansas Sierra Club leaders argue that exploiting wind power here will help reduce America's reliance on fossil fuels. "The view that there should be none is elitist," says Charles Benjamin, a lobbyist for the Sierra Club in Kansas. Counters Ron Klataske, executive director of the Audubon of Kansas: "It's sad that the Sierra Club would mislead their membership that this is green energy, when it causes destruction." (The Wall Street Journal)

"Egyptian scientists produce drought-tolerant GM wheat" - "Scientists in Egypt have produced drought-tolerant wheat by transferring a gene from barley into a local wheat variety. The researchers, at Cairo's Agricultural Genetic Engineering Research Institute (AGERI), say their technique reduces the number of irrigations needed from eight to one, and that the wheat could be cultivated with rainfall alone in some desert areas. The AGERI team hope to develop their technique and address biosafety issues in order to commercialise the transgenic wheat seeds as the first genetically modified (GM) product on the Egyptian market." (SciDev.Net)

"Ghana lacks the capacity to undertake genetic engineering" - "Accra, Oct. 14, GNA - A National seminar on Genetically Modified Organisms and Food Security in Ghana: The Prospects and Challenges," opened in Accra on Thursday with a disclosure that the country lacked the capacity to undertake genetic engineering.

Professor E. Owusu-Bennoah, Director-General of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) told the seminar that Ghana "lacks the physical facilities, the human capabilities and competence to produce genetically engineered organisms."

"Russian Scientists Warn Putin of GM Food Threat" - "Russian scientists have warned about the dangers of genetically modified products in a letter to President Putin. Importing genetically modified foods is jeopardizing both Russia’s health and agriculture, they claim." (MosNews)

October 14, 2004

"Considerations for the Use of DDT in Malaria Control" - "The insecticide DDT has been very successfully used for many years in malaria control programmes around the world. We assess the validity of the allegations that DDT is harmful to human health and the environment and find that they lack credibility. This is particularly true when one considers the way in which DDT is used in malaria control and the risks that people face from malaria. Indoor Residual Spraying programmes can be sustained for many decades and have been shown to have a considerable impact on malaria morbidity and mortality. However any country considering using DDT or any other insecticide in an Indoor Residual Spraying programme to control malaria should ensure that the right regulatory mechanisms are in place and that the programme is well controlled with scientific and medical oversight." (AFM)

"DDT-The Bad Savior" - "The Finnish Broadcasting Company ran an excellent documentary on malaria, DDT and Kenya. If you don't read or speak Finnish, you can read the script in English." (AFM)

"DDT: An Accident Waiting to Happen" - "This is not the sort of article one reads to get an accurate summary of fact. This is sort of article one reads to play "Spot the Errors". There is so much misinformation in this article though that spotting errors is hardly a challenge. Let's hope for the sake of the people of Uganda the author does a much better job with his political investigations than he did in his investigation of the use of DDT in malaria control." (AFM)

"DDT: A Case Study in Scientific Fraud" - "The late Dr J Gordon Edwards exposes the scientific fraud behind the banning of DDT in this outstanding and well researched paper. Dr Edwards was a tireless campaigner for improved malaria control. He fought bad science and even worse politics and his is passing was a profound loss for malaria control." (AFM)

"In Africa, when it rains, it swarms" - "Continent struggles to contain worst locust swarm since 1980s. UN warns of danger greater than Darfur." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Military presses to exempt millions of acres from environmental laws" - "CAMP EDWARDS, Mass. — When soldiers from the Army National Guard show up here for artillery training, they fire their howitzers indoors — on simulators.

The EPA ordered a halt to live artillery training at Edwards in 1997 because munitions chemicals were leaching toward the aquifer that provides drinking water for all of Cape Cod — more than 500,000 people in summer.

Now the restrictions here are the Pentagon's Exhibit A in a controversial campaign for legislation that would exempt more than 20 million acres of military land from key facets of the Clean Air Act and the two federal laws governing hazardous-waste disposal and cleanup." (USA TODAY)

"Mobile phone use and acoustic neuroma" - "A study from the Institute of Environmental Medicine (IMM) at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, found that 10 or more years of mobile phone use increase the risk of acoustic neuroma and that the risk increase was confined to the side of the head where the phone was usually held. No indications of an increased risk for less than 10 years of mobile phone use were found." (Swedish Research Council)

"Carbon 'reaching danger levels'" - "The UK government's leading scientist says levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere already represent a danger." (Alex Kirby, BBC News Online)

By special request, here's the CO2 - GISTEMP - MSU graph with series mean values indicated:
CO2: 355.35ppmv; GISTEMP: +0.362 °C; MSU +0.02 °C.

Like all graphical representations it's a case of how much do you include before it becomes too cluttered? I should probably include at least shading for ENSO events since they are much more powerful drivers of short-duration temperature variation (witness the sudden spike in 1998), although a more-potent (by SOI value) 1982-83 event was almost completely masked by the El Chichon volcanic eruption of 1982 and, erupting in 1991, Mt Pinatubo almost completely masked a milder but more sustained (triple peaked) El Niño series. Thus influences on atmospheric albedo ('reflectivity') and opacity ('shading') would help determine what is happening - then there's cloudiness, solar irradiance, sea ice extent, percentage of snow-covered land, ... . Not really easy to squeeze everything onto one graphic and not necessarily instructive to do so. The variable under discussion is atmospheric CO2 content and, as indicated on the graph, simple trend in atmospheric CO2 is a lousy indicator of lower tropospheric and near-surface temperature.

"Greenhouse gas jump shows Kyoto vital - UK" - "BANGKOK, Oct 13 - A worrying rise in the levels of so-called greenhouse gases linked to climate change highlights the importance of the Kyoto protocol, British Environment Minister Elliot Morley said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"Stop global warming - at what cost?" - "The global-warming alarmists haven't managed (yet) to bring on the worldwide economic paralysis that would result from implementation of the Kyoto Treaty, but they are about to score a lesser victory that will result in the loss of thousands of human lives. (William Rusher, The Decatur Daily Democrat)

Oh dear... "Pressure points" - "The climate is changing. But where will we see the devastating effects first? Over the next three pages, Ian Sample reports on Earth's 12 most fragile places" (The Guardian)

"At Water's Edge, Creeping Peril" - "The reasons for rising sea levels are complex, officials say. Even setting aside theories about human causes of global warming, scientists say that Earth is in a naturally warm period, in which glaciers are melting and sea levels are rising about 1.5 millimeters per year worldwide.

In this area, the Chesapeake rose about one foot in the past 100 years. The land is also sinking because of a natural process called subsidence, lowering about one millimeter per year.

"The combination makes the Chesapeake have a higher rate of sea level rise than many other places," Halka said." (Washington Post)

Hmm... "Thames barrier getting busier" - "LONDON - Rising sea levels and increasing storms due to global warming have forced authorities to raise the River Thames barrier to stop London flooding 88 times in the past 20 years, official figures showed on Wednesday.

The barrier has been raised 54 times against surge tides and 34 times to stop high tides meeting heavy rainfall and inundating the city since it was completed in 1983, the Environment Agency said.

"The average is now about four times a year, which is roughly what was anticipated," barrier manager Andy Batchelor told Reuters. "We expected to be raising it 30 times a year by 2030." (Reuters) [em added]

Anyone seriously believe there'll be an 8-fold increase in Thames barrier need in the next 25 years? Me neither.

"Japan: Environment tax resurfaces" - "With the Kyoto Protocol expected to be implemented next spring, a proposal to introduce an environment tax is beginning to attract renewed attention as a means of helping finance measures against global warming.

The Environment Ministry hopes to introduce the new tax in the coming fiscal year, but with the business community strongly opposed to it, the two sides are gearing up for a showdown at year-end talks on taxation reform for fiscal 2005." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

Trading hot air and other things... "Australia could be eco-superpower" - "AUSTRALIA could become a "sustainability superpower" in the emerging market for ecological services.

That was the message at the launch in Sydney this week of the world's first online centre for the emerging trade in ecological services. The new push is to find market fixes for environmental problems.

"In addition to its ability to generate wind and solar power, Australia has vast areas that could be restored back to forests and in turn generate carbon, salinity and biodiversity credits for sale in emerging environmental markets," said Michael Jenkins of Forest Trends, a Washington-based non-government organisation." (The Australian)

"BT gets behind renewable energy" - "British Telecom has announced a three-year plan to get all of its energy needs from renewable sources - the biggest such project in the world." (BBC Online)

"Transgenics Gone Wild!" - "Why it's OK for transgenic plants and animals to spread" (Ronald Bailey, Reason Online)

October 13, 2004

"Gulf's 'Dead Zone' Less of a Mystery" - "HOUSTON - The oxygen-depleted "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico, long a subject of scrutiny by scientists, is only now becoming less of a mystery. Known by fishermen south of the Mississippi River for more than a century, the area gained scientific recognition in the 1970s but became a greater concern when it doubled in size to about 7,000 square miles about 20 years later." (AP)

In plenty of time for Halloween: "Have We Exceeded the Limits to Growth?" - "30-Year Update to Best-Seller Predicts Social, Economic, and Environmental Decline" (Press Release)

"Smog Hits a Record Low" - "A combination of continuing emission reductions and favorable weather explains the improvements. Weather is the single largest factor affecting year-to-year variations in smog levels. All else equal, cool, wet, and windy years will have less ozone than warm, dry, and calm ones. But weather is only part of the story. During the last 30 years most of the country has had several years that were cooler and/or wetter than 2004, but never have smog levels been anywhere near this low." (Joel Schwartz, TCS)

"A Step in the Wrong Direction on Arsenic" - "According to a study in the August 2004 issue of Chemical Research in Toxicology, arsenic could be toxic at much lower levels than previously thought, raising the alarm that the new EPA drinking water standard of 10 parts per billion (ppb), to take effect in 2006, might still be too high. But don't dump the glass of tap water yet; the conclusions of this newest study were based on an in vitro study of a rat cell line." (Aubrey Stimola, ACSH)

"Trial Lawyers Unlikely to Get Fat in Michigan" - "Restaurants -- fast-food and otherwise -- can breathe a sigh of relief, at least if they're located in Michigan. According to an AP story, Governor Jennifer Granholm signed a bill that bans civil lawsuits against restaurants and other parts of the food industry for serving or preparing foods that supposedly make people fat." (Ruth Kava, ACSH)

"Drilling for Africa's climate history" - "Ghana's Lake Bosumtwi is located in a million year old crater whose sediment holds a preserved record of the region's climate through the centuries." (BBC Online)

"High-flying airplane probing effects of clouds on climate" - "FAIRBANKS — Scientists are using a high-altitude airplane built by the designer of SpaceShipOne, the world's first privately built manned spacecraft, to study the atmosphere high over northern Alaska. A Proteus airplane, designed by Burt Rutan, is taking measurements to aimed at learning more about clouds. The data will be used in models of global climate change." (The Associated Press)

"Researchers find frozen north may accelerate climate change" - "NASA-funded researchers have found that despite their sub-zero temperatures, a warming north may add more carbon to the atmosphere from soil, accelerating climate warming further.

"The 3 to 7 degree Fahrenheit rise in temperature predicted by global climate computer models could cause the breakdown of the arctic tundra's vast store of soil carbon," said Michelle Mack, an ecologist at the University of Florida, Gainsville, Fla., and one of the lead researchers on a study published in last week's issue of Nature. It would release more of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the air than plants are capable of taking in." (NASA/GSFC)

Just for variety: "Stand by for cold snaps and a white Christmas" - "IT IS thought to outdo even the Met Office in the accuracy of its weather predictions. Now Metcheck.com, one of the only forecasters to have predicted the summer washout, has more bad news: it is to be the coldest winter in decades.

Starting next week, a series of cold snaps and plummeting temperatures will bring to an end all speculation of a late blooming Indian summer. Instead, bitterly cold winds in the South and even snowfall in the North will quash the hopes of the thousands who banked on global warming to get them through the year without central heating." (The Times)

"Putin Backs Kyoto Ahead of Duma Ratification" - "Russian President Vladimir Putin unambiguously backed the Kyoto Protocol Tuesday in his first public comments since his government sent it to the State Duma for ratification." (MosNews)

"Putin might cross European Union on Kyoto" - "Any attempt to discern Vladimir Putin’s real motives inevitably forces one to consider Winston Churchill’s famous pre-World War II remark that Russia is "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma."

At first blush, Churchill’s observation would seem to be the only explanation for Putin’s sudden embrace of the Kyoto treaty on global warming despite warnings from his key advisers that to do so would spell economic disaster. The draconian cutbacks in future energy consumption mandated by Kyoto certainly would thwart Russia’s lofty goal of doubling its gross national product by the end of this decade.

While Putin’s decision has received enthusiastic applause from the global environmental community, it also has touched off widespread speculation about his motives." (Bonner Cohen, The Columbia Daily Tribune)

"UK: Straw insists US being pressed over Kyoto treaty" - "LONDON - The government is "working hard" on the United States to pressure it into agreeing to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said. Despite continued "major disagreement" between London and Washington over US refusals to sign up to the treaty, signs were emerging that the US view was gradually shifting, Straw told parliament." (AFP)

"Chief British Scientist Says Act Now on CO2" - "LONDON - The world faces a surge in extreme weather events because of global warming and governments must act immediately to avert disaster, Britain's chief scientist said on Tuesday. "Already we are witnessing increased storms at sea and floods in our cities," David King said. "Global warming will increase the level and frequency at which we experience heightened weather patterns. "Action is affordable. Inaction is not," he told the third Greenpeace Business Lecture in central London." (Reuters)

Hmm... the correlation between atmospheric CO2 measures and satellite-measured lower troposphere temperatures is unclear.

"Claim natural events cause rise in Co2 levels" - "UNPRECEDENTED rises in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are "anomalies" that can be explained by physical events such as the forest fires which swept across Europe last year, a leading climatologist claimed yesterday.

Dr Richard Betts, the manager of ecosystems and climate impact at the Met Office’s Hadley Centre for Climate Change, said: "I would not be at all surprised if this increase in output of returns to normal levels consistent with the general pattern of the results."

His theory goes against that of Professor David King, the chief scientific adviser to the government, who warned last night that the unexplained increases in the quantity of the main "greenhouse gas" could not have been caused by natural events, and he called for global action to reduce carbon emissions." (The Scotsman)

"Global Warming - Next 30 Years are Critical" - "Amid the threat of rising oceans, increasingly extreme weather and recent reports that levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have leapt in the past two years, few would argue that addressing global warming is not a burning issue. But as the Government’s chief scientist Sir David King delivers a speech warning that urgent action must be taken, what form that should take – and its feasibility – is still the subject of heated debate." (PA News)

"Global Warming Becomes Hot News" - "LONDON, Oct 12 - New fears have arisen over global warming after some measurements pointed to an unusual rise in carbon dioxide levels over the past two years. The Guardian and The Independent newspapers in Britain ran first lead stories on the new measurements. Reports of rising carbon levels in the air became the lead story also on several television news channels. The reported rise in carbon dioxide levels was unusual, and it was matched by unusually prominent reporting of a global warming story. The reporting was some measure that global warming is coming home." (IPS)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"Twentieth-Century Warming of the Northern Hemisphere" - "Has it really been as phenomenal as climate-alarmists claim it has?  The answer to this question rests upon a single critical assumption." (co2science)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Climate Oscillations (Millennial Variability - Africa)" - "Was the warming that rescued the world from the debilitating cold of the Little Ice Age driven by anthropogenic CO 2 emissions, or was it merely the next "scheduled" phase of a millennial-scale oscillation of climate that has existed from time immemorial?  In this Summary, we review evidence relevant to this question that comes from the continent of Africa." (co2science)

"Long-Term Studies (Woody Plants: Spruce)" - "How do spruce trees respond to long-term atmospheric CO 2 enrichment?" (co2science)

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: Calophyllum longifolium, Honduras Mahogany, Tetragastris panamensis and Virola surinamensis." (co2science)

Journal Reviews:
"A New Ice Core from North Greenland" - "Some of the most basic features of the proxy climate record of the new ice core reaffirm some of the most basic aspects of real-world climate change, which are (not unexpectedly) rather different from what the world's climate alarmists continually preach." (co2science)

"Errors in Solar Activity and Terrestrial Climate Data" - "We suggest an alternative view of a new twist on an old subject." (co2science)

"A 7500-Year Proxy Climate Record for Finnish Lapland" - "How does the 20th century compare with all prior centuries of the record in terms of (1) absolute level of midsummer warmth, i.e., mean midsummer temperature, and (2) the rate at which midsummer temperature rose in attaining that level?" (co2science)

"Chinese Agricultural Productivity in a Warmer, Wetter World" - "Will what climate models predict for China in the way of future weather be a help or a hindrance to the country's ability to feed itself?" (co2science)

"Nitrogen Cycling in a CO 2 -Enriched Sweetgum Plantation" - "As the air's CO 2 content continues to climb, some scientists have supposed that many forests may not be able to respond positively in terms of increased productivity with the limited supplies of nitrogen currently believed to reside in their soils.  However, an impressive FACE experiment that has been churning out data for over six years suggests this supposition may be false." (co2science)

"Chart watchers eye $70 peak for oil" - "LONDON - Signals are growing that oil's price surge could push all the way to $70 a barrel, according to the technical analysts who forecast market trends by interpreting chart patterns." (Reuters)

"Battle lines drawn over giant wind farm plan for marsh" - "Rival environmental groups will square up to each other today in round one of a battle to build the South-East's first onshore wind farm. In one corner, the Green Party, Greenpeace, the WWF and Friends of the Earth will be arguing that alternative energy sources must be found to save animal and plant life on the planet from the imminent threat of climate change. The other corner is occupied by the likes of David Bellamy, English Nature and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which is - theoretically - in favour of renewables but not at the expense of a unique stretch of marshland on the South Coast that is home to thousands of birds." (Daily Telegraph)

"World Food Prize Foundation Chief Reviews History of Award" - "A foreign visitor recently asked, "What exactly is the World Food Prize?"

I usually respond to such inquiries by quoting the president of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr. Johannes Rau, who called the World Food Prize "The Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture." (Bureau of International Information Programs)

?!! "WHO urges Thailand to study further on GMOs" - "BANGKOK, Oct. 13 -- The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged Thailand to make further research on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in order to be fully prepared to cope with possible risks posed by transgenetic food.

"At this point, we have no evidence to say that it is dangerous to consume food products that contain GMOs, so we have to say that we don't know the adverse health effects of GM food," Bangkok Post newspaper on Wednesday quoted WHO Assistant Director-General Kertstin Leitner as saying at a food safety conference here." (Xinhuanet)

"GMOs and the Politics (Perils) of Precautionary Principle" - "Luddites will never tell the public that world scientific and medical community has wholeheartedly endorsed the technology and GM crops as safe or that GM crops have undergone hundreds and thousands of tests the world over." (biospectrumindia.com)

"Controversy rains on GMO crops" - "After the papaya ringspot virus threatened to destroy Hawai'i's papaya industry when it first appeared in 1992, genetically engineered papayas were released in 1998 as an attempt to stop the potentially-devastating virus.

The release of genetically-modified products has sparked controversy between organic farmers and those who opted to use genetically-modified seeds to save their crops." (Ka Leo)

"Planting-Time Soy Quandary for Brazil" - "BRASÍLIA, Oct. 11 - With the spring planting season just beginning in the Southern Hemisphere, Brazil, the world's leading exporter of soybeans, is in a quandary. The government has been unable to secure congressional approval for the planting of genetically modified seed stock, but farmers are ignoring the ban and sowing the seeds, many obtained illegally, anyway." (New York Times)

"Brazil clears GM soy rules" - "Ending months of delays the upper house in Brazil has cleared the biosafety bill, paving the way for new rules to regulate the planting and sale of genetically modified (GM) crops in the country." (FoodNavigator.com)

October 12, 2004

"Kenyan ecologist wins Nobel prize" - "Kenyan environmentalist and human rights campaigner Wangari Maathai has won the Nobel Peace Prize." (BBC Online)

"Maathai's view on Aids raises eyebrows" - "Washington - The United States on Friday congratulated Kenyan ecologist Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, but tempered its praise over her claim that HIV and Aids is a biological weapon aimed at wiping out the black race." (The Star)

"In Wartime, Critics Question Peace Prize for Environmentalism" - "OSLO, Oct. 9 - The decision by the five-member Nobel Committee to award this year's Nobel Peace Prize to an environmental activist prompted some prominent Norwegians to criticize the selection, saying the effectiveness of the prize in promoting peace, enhancing security and ending conflicts could be diluted." (New York Times)

"Florida's Other Disasters: Floods and Lawyers" - "Lake Griffin, Florida -- Like the dog that didn't bark, the most important and overlooked story of this year's record-breaking hurricane season may be the flooding that didn't happen in Florida.

Even most residents of the state seem to have forgotten, if they ever knew, that Florida has much in common with the Netherlands. The vast majority of South Floridians live in areas -- from Orlando through Ft. Lauderdale to Miami -- that would be largely uninhabitable without ubiquitous drainage canals and other day-to-day flood control measures. Where now live seven million people, it is unlikely that two million could live if the Florida peninsula were allowed to return to its natural state.

We, however, have grown so accustomed to being protected that many now accept and even support environmentalist ideologues who are trying to frustrate, through the courts, the state's ability to prevent flooding, as it successfully did this year. Nor will their impact, if they are successful, be limited to the Sunshine State -- as case precedent will provide a powerful new tool for activist litigators across the country." (Patrick Cox, TCS)

"Ensuring Healthy Forests" - "Last Fall, Congress passed the bipartisan Healthy Forests Restoration Act. The Act built upon the foundations of President Bush's Healthy Forests Initiative -- an effort to protect communities and restore forest health by selectively removing overly dense vegetation and tree stands. The Initiative is making a difference.

In just four years, federal agencies have nearly quadrupled the number of acres treated to remove hazardous, excess vegetative fuels from public lands. In 2004, federal agencies set a goal of improving land condition on 3.7 million acres -- a goal the agencies exceeded by removing hazardous fuels from some 4 million acres.

Make no mistake -- these efforts will help protect communities. They will enhance forest and rangeland health. And, as opportunities to use some of this vegetative material -- biomass -- emerge, they will generate economic opportunities. They are not -- as critics contend -- a ploy to expand logging or circumvent rules." (Lynn Scarlett, TCS)

"Vaccine development needs a booster shot" - "Every year in this country influenza kills tens of thousands and hospitalizes about a quarter-million." (The Washington Times)

"The Feds' Flu Shot Fiasco" - "Last year I penned a column dispelling myths about the flu vaccine and urged everyone to get it. Obviously people listened, since the entire stock sold out. (Or perhaps it had a bit more to do with false warnings that the 2003-2004 strain was especially harsh.) But this year, you can sneeze at my advice." (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

"Understanding Risk and Reward" - "Marcia Angell gets one thing right in her new book ("The Truth About Drug Companies") -- the level of profit for the pharmaceutical industry is above the average for the S&P 500. But as we saw last week with Merck's share price plummeting in response to the withdrawal of its product Vioxx, one reason for industry profitability is the extra risk inherent in the drug business." (Roger Bate, TCS)

Yeah, sure... "Eat your veg. It could be the next best thing to giving up smoking" - "Eating the wrong foods could be responsible for up to 30 per cent of cancers, but there is growing belief that 'superfoods' are the key to preventing it. Can broccoli really be that good for you? Andrew Purvis finds out." (The Observer)

Hmm... in The Guardian: "Climate fear as carbon levels soar" - "An unexplained and unprecedented rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere two years running has raised fears that the world may be on the brink of runaway global warming.

Scientists are baffled why the quantity of the main greenhouse gas has leapt in a two-year period and are concerned that the Earth's natural systems are no longer able to absorb as much as in the past.

The findings will be discussed tomorrow by the government's chief scientist, Dr David King, at the annual Greenpeace business lecture." (The Guardian)
[em added] | Surprise CO2 rise may speed up global warming (Independent) | How 'feedback' can suppress the earth's ability to remove greenhouse gases (Independent)

... but, according to Reuters: "Greenhouse gas jump spurs global warming fears" - "OSLO, Oct 11 - An unexplained jump in greenhouse gases since 2002 might herald a catastrophic acceleration of global warming if it becomes a trend, scientists said on Monday.

But they said the two-year leap might be an anomaly linked, for instance, to forest fires in Siberia or a freak hot summer in Europe in 2003 rather than a portent of runaway climate change linked to human disruption of the climate system." (Reuters) [em added] | Sharp CO2 rise divides opinions (BBC Online) | Global warming clock ticks faster (Daily Telegraph)

nwarm11big.gif (19930 bytes) I've only seen mass media items on this so far, making serious appraisal impossible. However...

The adjacent thumbnail links to the graphic being displayed by The Telegraph (quality of graph unknown without digital data) and there does not seem to be any dramatic change in slope evident.

Granted, similar increases have previously been observed either subsequent to or during El Niño events but, given the last year or two's volcanic and wildfire activity, a slight up tick in carbon dioxide emission seems a dubious cause for excitement. El Niño events have also occurred or persisted without similar associated increases in atmospheric CO2 levels.

GISS_MSU_annual_mean.gif (8786 bytes) The 'unexplained' (see also 'boffins baffled'...) part of the above stories is quite correct - we don't know for sure whether atmospheric CO2 increase causes or is a response to increased global temperature (or even both cause and effect).

One thing we are confident about - there's been no dramatic surge in fossil fuel usage to 'blame' for the recent increase so activists will need to find some other way to make it sound scary.

Interestingly, neither the GISTEMP- nor MSU-derived global mean temperature anomaly tracks indicate any immediate correlation between atmospheric CO2 and global temperature despite atmospheric CO2 increasing by about 10% over the period.

"Cooler Heads, Vol VIII, No 20" - “Forced” Russian Decision Puts Kyoto Protocol on Verge of Ratification; Distinguished Signatories Take On British Political Consensus; and more!" (CEI)

The Week That Was Oct. 9, 2004 (SEPP)

?!! "Editorial: Warming - Solid scientific fact" - "There can no longer be much debate as to whether global warming exists. It exists, and it threatens Planet Earth’s future. The only serious questions are how to prevent global warming from getting worse and, hopefully, how to reverse rising temperatures in polar regions, mountain glaciers, oceans and atmosphere." (The Charleston Gazette)

Oh dear! "Britain urges developing world to fight climate change" - "Britain called Saturday for developing countries to join the offensive against climate change by balancing their need for economic growth with protection of the environment. "Climate change is the world's greatest environmental challenge," British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott told a summit of Asian and European countries here. He said the international community had to build on the Kyoto protocol on climate change "to secure a long-term global consensus on sustainable development, encompassing both developed and developing nations." (AFP)

The weekly Whipple: "Climate: Worrisome Trends In Antarctica" - "The conventional scientific wisdom has been that while most of the world has gotten warmer, Antarctica actually has cooled a little, except on its peninsulas and coasts; but new research indicates the polar continent is facing dramatic changes that probably are the result of global warming." (Dan Whipple, UPI)

"James Flanigan: Industry Energized by Kyoto Pact" - "Global warming is suddenly looking like a hot business opportunity. With Russia's recent assent, an international treaty that had long threatened U.S. industry with onerous regulation is moving closer toward global ratification. The funny thing is nobody seems to fear the Kyoto Protocol anymore. In fact, some might even get rich off it." (Los Angeles Times)

"Carbon trading in Europe triples since Russian move on Kyoto" - "The amount of carbon dioxide being traded in Europe has almost tripled since Russia said it would ratify the Kyoto protocol on climate change at the end of last month. It underlines the opportunities for energy-efficient companies and brokers in a new offshoot of the commodities market. Russia's move boosted the embryonic carbon trading market because it represented the strongest indication yet that the Kyoto protocol would be ratified." (Financial Times)

"Tyndall Center Proposes Energy Rationing" - "Dr Kevin Anderson and Richard Starkey are developing a system called Domestic Tradable Quotas (DTQs). Under this system, every UK citizen would have a ration of carbon emissions which they could trade in a market." (Iain Murray, EU Reporter Online)

"Air travel sets a new course for green skies" - "THEY are a potent symbol of the jet age and a form of aerial artistry that decorates clear blue skies. With the massive rise in global air traffic, high-altitude aircraft condensation trails - known as contrails - are an increasingly familiar sight.

But airline passengers now face delays and longer flights under plans to reroute planes hundreds of miles around the giant weather systems that lead to contrail formation.

Scientific studies have shown that when contrails merge together they form the cirrus clouds that add to global warming. Eurocontrol, the Brussels-based European air safety body, is now working on plans to divert aircraft to prevent contrails forming." (Scotland on Sunday)

"EU jet fuel tax delayed" - "An EU tax on jet fuel has been kicked into the long grass after international aviation talks in Montreal. The assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation agreed to delay any introduction of kerosene tax until after the organisation's next assembly in 2007. EU capitals had wanted to keep an open door to taxes and charges in a bid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But US negotiators, backed up by Brazil, China and Russia blocked any world-wide moves towards an aviation fuel tax." (EUpolitix)

"The Dubious Debut of Africa's Parliament" - "The African Union's Pan African Parliament (PAP) has just completed its first session in Johannesburg. The PAP actually closed early because it didn't have any budget to pay translators. This led to demands for financing from the private sector. The shortage of funds may actually have been a blessing in disguise as the sooner we get away from this idea that endless talk among a few political elites will create development, the better: The African Union may have grand ideas of becoming something like the European Union, but it has a long way to go and some fundamental problems to fix first." (Richard Tren, TCS)

"Nanotroubles: Big questions about tiny particles" - "They're already proving useful but are the new, tiny miracle molecules safe? In the rush to commercialize there are unanswered questions, reports Rachel Ross" (Toronto Star)

"Switch of a gene turns cancer cells healthy in mice, Stanford scientists find" - "New research by Dean Felsher, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine (oncology) and of pathology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, suggests that cancer cells can be reformed. His work, published in the Oct. 10 advance online issue of Nature, could lead to new ways of treating the most common forms of cancer." (Stanford University Medical Center)

"Draft of cow 'life code' released" - "Scientists have released a first draft of the bovine genome - a run through of the genetic code that describes a cow. A fuller version will follow in 2005 but already researchers can use the data to compare bovine genes with those from humans and other animals. This is likely to aid our understanding of human genetics and disease, as well as improving the health and well being of cattle themselves." (BBC Online)

"BASF threatens transfer of plant research abroad" - "BASF has threatened to relocate research into 'green genetic engineering' to other countries if German law continues to restrict R&D into plant biotechnology, with applications as diverse as crop biomanufacturing of proteins and GM foods." (inpharma.com)

"Green Genes withdraw support for anti-GMO initiative" - "EUREKA -- The group that authored an initiative banning genetically modified organisms in Humboldt County is now urging voters to defeat the measure in November.

The Humboldt Green Genes, a coalition of organic farmers and environmentalists, easily gathered the 4,400 signatures to qualify the proposed ban for the November ballot. But the group is pulling the plug on its support after learning that the measure's language had some potentially fatal legal flaws." (The Times-Standard)

"Canadians cool to altered crops: Poll shows most favour labelling" - "OTTAWA—Unease over genetically modified food continues to rise among Canadians with three out of five saying such foods provide more risks than benefits, according to a recently released federal government poll.

This concern translated into a majority (53 per cent) of adult Canadians telling pollsters working for Ottawa that they were uncomfortable buying foods with genetically modified ingredients. Only 31 per cent gave the same answer in the first such survey five years ago." (Toronto Star)

"GM crops row splits Italian government" - "Silvio Berlusconi's conservative government was split last night on the issue of genetically modified crops, and farmers warned that delays in agreeing rules could lead to next year's Italian harvests being unintentionally "contaminated." (The Guardian)

"French research heads condemn destruction of GM crop trials" - "The heads of four leading French research organisations have condemned the destruction of field based trials of genetically modified (GM) crops, arguing that such research is needed in order to solve unanswered questions surrounding the technology." (Cordis News)

"Fields of fire" - "Why the secrecy surrounding the planting of genetically modified foods? Melinda Houston investigates both sides of the highly emotive debate." (The Age)

"African countries urged to say no to GMOs" - "Participants at an international workshop on eco-farming have called on African countries to say no to Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) that destroy livelihoods and biodiversity on the continent." (Accra Daily Mail Online)

"Consumer effort pushes for global GM moratorium" - "11/10/2004 - Evidence that the consumer backlash against GMOs is far from dying down comes as consumer groups consolidate to launch a global effort to push for a moratorium on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in seeds, crops and foodstuffs." (FoodNavigator.com)

"GM seeds make their way into 25% of farmland" - "NEW DELHI: It’s been a creeping acquisition. Genetically modified seeds are slowly but surely taking over larger chunks of farm land across the globe. For the first time, one out of every four hectares in the world growing food, feed and fibre crops is now using transgenic seeds.

To put that milestone in perspective, around 750 million acres, or one-third the total land area of China, is now under GM crops. In India itself, the area under Bt cotton has doubled within a year. By next year, the world is expected to grow GM oilseeds, cotton and maize on a whopping 100 million hectares." (Economic Times)

"GM crops on cards-Four types of crops selected as starter" - "Land-strapped Bangladesh is set to grow genetically modified (GM) crops to augment food production to meet the growing demand of a growing population.

To start with, four types of crops would be developed soon by applying biotechnology under the National Agriculture Research System (NARS). These are drought- and saline-tolerant rice, late blight resistant potato, fruit and shoot borer resistant eggplant and pod borer resistant chickpea." (The Daily Star)

October 8, 2004

"Bush, Kerry and the Environment" - "Sentiment regarding "the environment" doesn't seem to be a major factor in voters' minds as they weigh the decision whether to cast their ballots for President Bush or for John Kerry." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Prop. 71: the stem-cell sham" - "Why should state fund research when private research hasn't panned out?" (Steven Milloy, Orange County Register)

"Time for Congress to Investigate WHO" - "Aid packages sent to children in Sudan's malaria-plagued Darfur region "contain anti-malarial medicines that do not work," said Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) on Tuesday at a Congressional hearing on neglected diseases before an International Relations subcommittee. Brownback's assertion comes as no surprise to those who have followed global health issues lately. The United Nations agencies responsible for international health campaigns have made a series of tragic missteps in recent months." (Roger Bate, TCS)

"Chemicals linked to breast cancer" - "Half of all cases have some suspected environmental cause" (San Mateo County Times)

That's like saying: "Half of all children score below average in standardized tests." Just because someone 'suspects' environmental cause doesn't make that suspicion any more valid than suspecting birth month; lunar phase; space ships; striped paint; birthday cakes or black helicopters as causal.

"Area aids study on perils of household dust" - "Six urban areas in New York, including Rochester, are part of a new seven-state study of household dust intended to show the hazards of chemicals used in carpeting, furniture and other household goods." (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)

"Children as young as nine have potentially harmful chemicals in their blood, says study" - "Trace amounts of industrial chemicals have been found in the blood of children in a study carried out by the environmental pressure group WWF (World Wildlife Fund)." (Independent)

"Plastics components linked to allergies in kids" - "Exposure to phthalates -- compounds used in making plastics -- at levels commonly found indoors, appears to be associated with allergic symptoms in children, according to Swedish investigators." (Reuters)

"Army cuts take toll on environment projects" - "The Army’s largest major command is cautioning the Pentagon that its spending cuts could make it unable to comply with some environmental laws, putting the military at risk of having training sites shut down by activists? lawsuits." (Associated Press)

"Pesticide Persisting Beyond Scheduled Elimination Date" - "Under a treaty known as the Montreal Protocol, methyl bromide was to be banned for most uses by the end of this year." (New York Times)

"High court throws out county hog confinement rules" - "The Iowa Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that counties do not have legal authority to regulate livestock confinement facilities through public health ordinances, deciding a three-year dispute closely watched by farm groups and environmentalists." (Sioux City Journal)

"French schools' new bête noire: vending machines" - "BOURGES, FRANCE – France has a weighty problem with the Lycée Jacques Coeur. It is a public school, and public schools, French officials say, are making students soft.

Not due to lax academic standards, mind you. No, the problem with the Lycée Jacques Coeur lies in its stained-glass student lounge, where a flashy vending machine has become the symbol of an alarming rise in childhood obesity.

This summer, France voted to ban all vending machines that sell candy and soft drinks in schools. By next school year, an estimated 8,000 machines in France's middle and secondary schools must be removed." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Center refutes finding that added sugars displace vitamins and minerals" - "Added sugars have little or no substantive effect on diet quality, according to a new study by the Center for Food and Nutrition Policy. Released in the October issue of the Journal of Nutrition, the study refutes analyses in the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine draft report on Dietary References Intakes." (Virginia Tech)

"Drought in the West linked to warmer temperatures" - "Severe drought in western states in recent years may be linked to climate warming trends, according to new research led by scientists from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University." (The Earth Institute at Columbia University)

"Tree Rings Point to Historic Megadrought in West" - "While the Western states remain gripped in a severe drought, a group of researchers has studied the tree ring record and found that the current dry spell pales in comparison to the aridity of the same region during medieval times." (University of Arkansas)

"Hudson's warmer bay" - "ABOUT now, the polar bears arrive near the Canadian port at Churchill to await the winter freeze. Then they will walk north across the ice of Hudson Bay towards the Arctic. It was -6º C this week at the port, although a warmer world means the ice comes more slowly these days. That is bad news for the polar bears, but good news for shipping." (The Economist)

"We Don’t Live in a Model World" - "With an inevitable return to something more akin to normal hurricane activity along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts there’s increased grumbling that this year’s experiences either are a consequence of global warming or indicators of what’s to come. Despite renowned hurricane experts using actual observations to rebut this notion, the claim persists (www.co2andclimate.org/wca/2004/wca_24a.html). Why? Because climate modeling indicates our future will be one where tropical cyclones become slightly stronger as the atmosphere’s greenhouse gas buildup heats things up." (GES)

"Putin Sends Kyoto Protocol to Parliament for Ratification" - "Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent the Kyoto Protocol on climate change to parliament, bringing the pact one step closer to ratification." (VOA News)

"Russia Could Finish Kyoto Approval by Year-End" - "MOSCOW - Russia could ratify the Kyoto Protocol by the end of the year and kick-start global attempts to control climate change, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov said on Thursday." (Reuters)

"EDITORIAL: Kyoto Protocol comes to life" - "In a surprise move, the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to endorse the ratification of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Environmentalists worldwide hailed the move, which allows the Kyoto agreement to go into effect. In fact, the Russian decision owes less to environmental calculations than to political ones: Moscow endorsed Kyoto reportedly to win European Union endorsement for its own bid to join the World Trade Organization. Nevertheless, the move is a step forward in the battle to control greenhouse gasses that are contributing to climate change." (Japan Times)

"A Cold Shoulder to the Kyoto Protocol" - "The Russian cabinet's endorsement of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming [front page, Oct. 1] confirms that Kyoto is an economic treaty, not an environmental treaty.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's position regarding Kyoto has always carried a whiff of horse-trading. Ignoring the considerable opposition of his own economic adviser and most Russian scientists, Mr. Putin pressured his cabinet to endorse the treaty after the European Union endorsed Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization." (Sean R. Tuffnell, The Washington Post)

"Environment tax triggers heated debate" - "Debate is heating up in Japan over a ministry proposal to introduce a tax designed to help curb greenhouse gas emissions, whose restriction is required by the Kyoto Protocol." (Asahi Shimbun)

"Carbon tax should target users, not providers: official" - "Any new carbon tax should be imposed on consumers of fossil fuels, not their importers and processors, a senior Environment Ministry official indicated Wednesday." (Japan Times)

"Amendment to defense bill would stall Cape Wind project" - "A powerful Virginia senator has proposed a last-minute amendment to a national defense financing bill that would halt the Cape Wind energy project and freeze offshore wind power developments around the country." (Providence Journal)

"Where Our Energy Will Come From" - "The way we produce and consume energy hasn't changed much in decades. Sure, you might spot the occasional hybrid gas-electric car or a high-tech windmill. But research in the field hasn't been energetic. No surprise there: Except during the crises of the '70s, fossil fuels have usually been cheap and abundant. The next few decades promise to be vastly different. Driven by escalating prices, geopolitical instability, global warming, and pollution, governments and companies around the globe are stepping up the hunt for new ways to power the economy. The ambitious goal: plentiful, clean, and secure forms of energy and less wasteful ways to employ them." (BusinessWeek Online)

"BP's Russian find alarms campaigners" - "BP has struck lucky in Russia with a potentially massive new oil and gas find off Sakhalin Island in the far east of the country but the success has alarmed environmentalists." (London Guardian)

"New Finnish nuclear plant raises hopes and fears" - "OLKILUOTO, Finland - One of the world’s largest nuclear power plants is under construction in Finland, raising the long dormant atomic power industry’s hopes for a revival but evoking fears among opponents of lethal accidents and waste." (Reuters)

"Aussie, UK Scientists Claim Pest Control Breakthrough" - "SYDNEY - Australian and British scientists have achieved a technical breakthrough to help control insects that have developed resistance to common agricultural pesticides, the New South Wales state government said on Thursday." (Reuters)

"Butte biotech allies hold home-grown funding edge" - "Without taking money from biotech companies, Butte County farmers have raised more than $102,000 to defeat a November ballot measure that would ban biotech crops." (Sacramento Bee)

"Non-food GM: The men in white coats are winning, slowly" - "The non-food use of genetic modification is moving ahead on several fronts. But it still has obstacles to overcome, and far to go." (The Economist)

October 7, 2004

"FDA-Tobacco Regulation No Public Service" - "American public wins as measure that would allow FDA to regulate tobacco manufacturing and advertising is defeated." (CEI)

"Diabetes 'catastrophe' means twice as many will suffer from it by 2010" - "Britain is facing a huge increase in diabetes in what doctors are calling one of the greatest health catastrophes the developed world has seen." (Independent)

"On Obesity, What the Researchers Didn't Find" - "Several studies citing correlations between bad foods or sedentary habits and rising rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes have filled the news lately. The studies seem, at first glance, to confirm what "everyone knows" about why people are fat -- they eat too much "bad" food and exercise too little -- and what to do about it. But correlations can't hold water to sound clinical evidence." (Sandy Szwarc, TCS)

"Which? magazine warns on trans fats" - "A type of fat known to be damaging to health is present in many processed foods at dangerous levels, new tests carried out by Which? magazine show." (The Guardian)

"Trans-Fats and the World of Tomorrow" - "When it comes to fats, I call for eating a smart balance of different types rather than a complete abandonment, every three decades or so, of one type of fat." (Jeff Stier, ACSH)

"Plastics components linked to allergies in kids" - "NEW YORK - Exposure to phthalates -- compounds used in making plastics -- at levels commonly found indoors, appears to be associated with allergic symptoms in children, according to Swedish investigators.

"Although multiple factors likely are responsible for the increases in allergies and asthma that have been documented in developed countries over the past 30 years," the authors note in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, "it is striking that these increases have occurred during a period when plasticized products have become ubiquitous in the homes, schools, and workplaces of the developed world." (Reuters Health)

"Now, dangers of a population implosion" - "Concerned about projected population decline, some nations are encouraging citizens to have more children." (David R. Francis, The Christian Science Monitor)

Letter of the moment: "Carbon dioxide is your friend" - "Despite the concerns of green advocates, carbon dioxide is universal ... and beneficial." (Marlo Lewis, The Washington Times)

"How Might Hurricanes Change with Global Warming?" - "When watching science fiction, it is the plausibility of a story that allows us to imagine that what we are seeing is real. Sure, the aliens must speak English for us to understand them, and they usually have two arms and two legs, but we are fascinated by the possibility that what we are watching could be, or could someday become, reality.

Computerized climate models are a little like science fiction. They contain some of the physics we know of that describes how the atmosphere operates, they leave out other physics that computers are simply not yet fast enough to handle, and they (necessarily) ignore the things we haven't yet learned. Nevertheless, what comes out of the models fascinates us because, someday, those predictions might come true." (Roy Spencer, TCS)

"Debunking the Latest Hurricane Hype" - "Last week, The New York Times delivered the worrisome news that a team of scientists has concluded that maximum hurricane winds will increase 6 percent by the 2080s, thanks to global warming.

I was very upset to read that news, but not because I’m afraid my great-grandchildren will get blown away. My concern is what those scientists’ work says about the state of climate science." (Patrick J. Michaels, FoxNews.com)

"Prime Minister Fradkov Signs Russian Cabinet’s Approval of Kyoto Protocol" - "Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov has signed a resolution that approves Russia’s ratification of the Kyoto protocol, reported RIA news agency. The ratification was approved by the Russian cabinet on September 30th." (MosNews)

"Emissions pact goes forward" - "But tougher work of cutting greenhouse gases under Kyoto Protocol remains." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Labor to sign Kyoto protocol if elected" - "Federal Labor has launched its environment and heritage policy in Adelaide today. Opposition environment spokesman Kelvin Thomson says the party is focussed on saving the River Murray, the Daintree Rainforest and signing the Kyoto protocol. Mr Thomson says Labor still plans to establish a National Sustainability Council, which was also promised during the 2001 election campaign. "A body which will advise the Council of Australian Governments of the measures needed to ensure sustainability and to monitor our progress towards sustainability," he said." (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Not a large risk, apparently.

"Kyoto protocol is just the beginning" - "It has been a long wait since the Kyoto protocol was signed in the early hours of 11 December 1997. Next year, if Russia sticks to the commitment it made last week, the treaty will at last come into force. And that will allow the world to get on with what really matters: drawing up the successor to Kyoto.

For if ardent greens and out-and-out sceptics can agree on anything, it is that Kyoto will not even come close to solving the problem of climate change. It is, as the UN Environment Programme director Klaus Toepfer said in a statement last week, “only the first step in a long journey.” (New Scientist)

New Scientist wrong again - skeptics actually view Kyoto as a non-solution looking for a problem.

Virtually: "Study shows potential for Antarctic climate change" - "While Antarctica has mostly cooled over the last 30 years, the trend is likely to rapidly reverse, according to a computer model study by NASA researchers. The study indicates the South Polar Region is expected to warm during the next 50 years." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office)

Hmm... we know that atmospheric CO2 levels are rising over Antarctica, as expected in the well-mixed atmosphere, and that levels average about 368ppmv (we had all those press items about it a week or so ago - see, for example: Researchers detect rising carbon dioxide levels over Antarctica). We also know that the greatest enhanced greenhouse warming potential is to be found in the dry, super-cold polar air masses. According to the enhanced greenhouse hypothesis an increase of about 30% in atmospheric CO2 should be more than ample to demonstrate significant warming of the South Polar air mass and subsequent surface warming. With the notable exception of the Antarctic Peninsula, thrusting north of the Antarctic Circle toward Cape Horn, a cooling trend is evident across Antarctica. It appears either the hypothesis or Antarctica is in error and requires modification.

"Warming signs: thinner glaciers and saltier oceans" - "Earth has a message for global warming skeptics: Its effects are starting to appear where it really counts. Antarctic glaciers are melting faster than scientists had thought. The tropical "firebox" that drives the atmosphere's weather machine is running hotter. These two developments could significantly change our planet's weather patterns." (Robert C. Cowen, The Christian Science Monitor)

"Threat of future climate shift looms" - "Napa Valley is ideal for growing wine grapes. Each inch of rolling hill is covered in mottled vines turning red, orange and yellow for fall. The cool morning fog cover spills in from the coast.

But wine lovers beware - by the end of the century your coveted Napa Valley merlot may be a lot more expensive, and the rolling hills may look more like dry grassland.

A study by 19 scientists predicts that California's temperatures will rise 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, which could have devastating consequences for the wine grape and vegetable industries." (The California Aggie)

"Floating laboratory returns with dramatic finds from year-long Arctic mission" - "QUEBEC - The Canadian Coast Guard ship Amundsen returns to port on Friday laden with discoveries from a one-year scientific mission to the darkest corners of the High Arctic." (CP)

"Old bones unearth new date for giant deer's last stand" - "A new investigation into extinctions caused by climate change has revealed that the giant deer, previously thought to have been wiped out by a cold spell 10,500 years ago, instead survived well into the modern era." (University College London)

"Homes should be left to the sea, warns erosion report" - "It is not so much an orderly withdrawal but a rout. Several local authorities battling erosion by the sea have plans which will condemn hundreds of houses, businesses and acres of farmland to a watery grave, and cost many millions." (Independent)

"Wind energy gets updraft as Bush OKs tax credit" - "With the stroke of a pen, wind turbine projects nationwide were put back in motion Monday, including a Mid- American Energy project designed to become the largest in the country." (The Des Moines Register)

"In 50 years, we could cure our oil addiction" - "The technologies to deliver clean, sustainable energy already exist. So what is stopping us breaking the habit of a century, asks David L. Chandler" (New Scientist)

"Hydrogen fuel 'has high price'" - "Replacing gas guzzling cars and lorries with "environmentally friendly" hydrogen powered vehicles would require 100,000 new wind turbines or 100 new nuclear power plants, according to a new study.

The production of hydrogen consumes a vast amount of electricity. According to Prof Andrew Oswald, an economist at Warwick University, and Jim Oswald an energy consultant, the turbines would cover an area the size of Wales - or a six mile-wide strip around the entire coast of Britain.

"The enormity of the green challenge is not understood," said Mr Oswald. "Many people think that hydrogen is a simple alternative to oil, but in fact it will require a huge investment in either wind farms or nuclear plants." (Daily Telegraph)

"China's dependence on dangerous coal keeps growing" - "China is already the world's top producer of coal and is expected to pull 1.9 billion tonnes from the ground this year, up 10 percent from last year. In 2010, it aims to raise that to 2.2 billion tonnes." (Reuters)

"States join forces to ensure emissions cut" - "State officials from a dozen states are uniting in a groundbreaking way on behalf of cleaner air, flexing their muscles against powerful lobbying interests." (Chemical & Engineering News)

"Organic farming boosts biodiversity" - "Organic farming increases biodiversity at every level of the food chain – all the way from lowly bacteria to mammals. This is the conclusion of the largest review ever done of studies from around the world comparing organic and conventional agriculture." (New Scientist)

Great! Organic farming good for pests. Buy a bushel of wheat, get half a bushel of 'foreigns' (weed seeds, bugs...) - free!

"Bee decline may spell end of some fruits, vegetables" - "In the last 50 years the domesticated honeybee population—which most U.S. farmers depend on for pollination—has declined by about 50 percent, scientists say." (National Geographic News)

"Brazil moves closer to legalizing biotech soy" - "BRASILIA, Brazil, Oct 6 - Brazil's Senate on Wednesday passed a long-delayed biosafety bill that will regulate the planting and selling of genetically modified (GMO) crops like soy, corn and cotton, as well as human stem-cell research.

The basic text of the bill -- and those amendments that senators approve Wednesday afternoon -- will return to the lower house, which voted through an earlier draft in February, for clearance before being signed into law by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva." (Reuters)

October 6, 2004

"Fannie Mae's Problems Expose 'Corporate Social Responsibility' as a Smokescreen: CSRWatch.com Launched to Spotlight Anti-Business Movement" - "WASHINGTON--Oct. 5, 2004--CSRWatch.com announced today that the ongoing Fannie Mae scandal again exposes so-called "corporate social responsibility" (CSR) initiatives as merely superficial attempts to polish corporate image at the expense of fundamental business principles and practices." (BUSINESS WIRE)

"Happiness Is..." - "The International Labor Organization (ILO) has just released a new report stating that Sweden is the best country in the world for workers. In the Swedish media, the report is presented under the headline: "Swedish workers happiest in the world." The UN labor body's report is said to be about economic security and happiness. But in fact is it a mishmash of social democratic clichés." (Fredrik Segerfeldt, TCS)

"A Green Push to Keep Projects Safe for Vermin" - "New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer leads fight to prevent federal government from spraying pesticides in public housing ... a move that will bring increased illness among poor, minority children." (Angela Logomasini, The New York Post)

"Spray Now or Pay Later" - "Unless we deal with the locust invasion, the next swarm will soon take to the skies and wreak havoc across vast areas of Africa." (Jan Egeland, New York Times)

"Low oxygen caused lobsters to die off" - "STONY BROOK, N.Y. — Warmer weather and longer stretches of low dissolved oxygen in western Long Island Sound caused a massive die-off of lobsters there in 1999, while pesticides played a small role, if any at all, scientists said yesterday. The findings ran counter to the instincts of many lobstermen, who had seen warm weather and pollution in the past, but never saw traps filled with dead lobsters until after communities in the area sprayed insecticides to kill mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus." (The Journal News)

"Biodiversity: The sixth great wave" - "As part of Planet under pressure, a BBC News Online series looking at some of the biggest environmental problems humanity faces, Alex Kirby considers the current increase in extinction rates." (Alex Kirby, BBC News Online)

"The opposite of obesity: undernutrition overwhelms the world's children" - "A lack of calories and nutrients--or undernutrition--can worsen the effects of infectious disease, and thereby causes half of all child deaths worldwide, report public health experts at The Johns Hopkins University and the World Health Organization." (Environmental Health Perspectives)

This constitutes a study, apparently: "Green voters watch more porn" - "PORN-USERS are more than twice as likely to vote Green compared with the general population, according to the preliminary findings of a new Australian study. Almost one in four porn users also identified themselves as Coalition voters. More than 1000 porn users were surveyed for the Understanding Pornography in Australia study, led by Alan McKee. More than 16 per cent of those surveyed said they supported the Greens, more than double the 7 per cent the party scored in last week's Newspoll." (The Australian)

Odd way to write it up too, less than one-fourth of porn users vote Coalition (Australia's Federal political Center/Right), suggesting that three quarters of Australian porn users vote Left but only minority porn user groups rated a mention.

"Quaking in Our Boots: Can Humans Weather the Growing Wave Of Calamity?" - "Doom is a growth industry. There are credentialed scientists who talk of Atlantic hurricanes becoming as powerful as Pacific typhoons. They tell of Antarctic ice shelves disintegrating, glaciers melting everywhere and open water at the North Pole. Global warming could shut down the Gulf Stream, throwing Europe into its own private Ice Age." (Joel Achenbach, Washington Post)

You don't see this in print very often... "Polar research comes in from the cold" - "Switzerland has finally become a full member of the international Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), after 20 years of regular polar studies.

Scientists drilled three kilometres down into the ice cap to collect ice samples from the past 740,000 years. They found that there were eight ice ages during that period, separated by spells of global warming when the atmosphere contained as much carbon dioxide as it does today." (swissinfo) [em added]

I'm more used to seeing cavalier statements about current atmospheric CO2 levels being unprecedented/the highest for n millions of years... The Swiss team will not endear themselves to the enhanced greenhouse industry stating that current levels are common or [gasp!] normal during interglacial periods.

"Maldive islands could be sinking" - "Environmentalists are worried that the Maldive islands off the coast of India could be sinking as water levels rise because of global warming." (BBC Online)

"New perspectives for the future of the Maldives" - "Abstract: Novel prospects for the Maldives do not include a condemnation to future flooding. The people of the Maldives have, in the past, survived a higher sea level of about 50–60 cm. The present trend lack signs of a sea level rise. On the contrary, there is firm morphological evidence of a significant sea level fall in the last 30 years. This sea level fall is likely to be the effect of increased evaporation and an intensification of the NE-monsoon over the central Indian Ocean." (Nils-Axel Morner, Michael Tooley, Goran Possnert, 2004; Global and Planetary Change 40: 177–182.)

"China warns of 'ecological catastrophe' from Tibet's melting glaciers" - "BEIJING - An "ecological catastrophe" is developing in Tibet because of global warming, and most glaciers in the region could have melted away by 2100 if no efficient measures are taken. The stark message is the result of surveys performed by a group of 20 scientists from China and the United States over a 40-month period, the China Daily reported." (AFP)

"Japan: When it rains, it pours more than it used to" - "The incidence of heavy downpours caused by typhoons and rainy fronts has increased over the past 100 years, according to an analysis by the Meteorological Research Institute. While the total amount of annual rainfall has decreased, the incidence of torrential rains has increased nationwide. Such heavy rains tend to occur during summer pressure patterns. The results of the analysis will be announced at a Meteorological Society of Japan meeting to be held Wednesday in Fukuoka." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

"State Duma To Consider Kyoto Protocol Ratification In October, Says Gryzlov" - "MOSCOW, October 5 - The State Duma will consider the ratification of the Kyoto protocol in October, State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov told journalists on Tuesday. He specified that all necessary documents relating to the protocol ratification would be submitted to the State Duma soon. Mr. Gryzlov said that parliamentarians had different opinions on this issue. However, in his opinion, "most deputies will speak for ratification of the Kyoto protocol." (RIA Novosti)

"Why Putin is backing Kyoto again" - "Why did Russian President Vladimir Putin decide to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change last week, only six months after his top adviser, Andrei Illarionov, called it a "death treaty?" One reason is that the European Union offered Russians visa-free travel within the 25-country bloc plus EU support for Russia's membership in the World Trade Organization." (Gwynne Dyer, The Star Online)

"Emission quotas only first step toward better world" - "With the Russian government's approval of the Kyoto Protocol, industrialized countries must now maximize efforts toward reaching their goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

"Kyoto protocol will cool the global economy" - "The destruction caused by four hurricanes in Florida and the Caribbean this summer has provoked sensational claims of climate changes caused by the capitalist economic system. The ratification of the Kyoto protocol by the Russian government risks not only damaging and economic costs for the global economy that are not fully understood. The protocol itself is also based on highly contentious interpretations of scientific evidence that are the object of serious criticism. These are the conclusions of a report issued on Thursday 30 September by a Brussels based think-tank. The report titled Earth warming myth http://institutmolinari.org/pubs/note200410.pdf – published as part of the Institut Economique Molinari's Economic Notes series – examines the debate surrounding differing theories about global warming, and considers the costs of implementing the terms of the Kyoto protocol on the world economy." ( Institut Economique Molinari)

Ah, indoctrination... "Green pack taken into classroom" - "The effects of climate change on the Scottish environment are being taught to pupils using a new study pack." (BBC Online)

"Ironies Abound in Hockey Stick Debacle" - "Why are so many researchers concerned with reconstructing a thousand years of Earth’s climate history? Some will argue it’s actually a political debate; to the winner goes the spoils — passage of or withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol by governments worldwide." (GES)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"Coral Reef Decline: No Nagging Doubts About What Needs to Be Done to Stop It" - "We review some concerns raised by several coral reef researchers about the conclusions of a paper we discussed in last week's Editorial." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Little Medieval Warm Period" - "In addition to the voluminous evidence that continues to accumulate for the occurrence of higher-than-present temperatures during the Roman Warm Period of 2000 years ago and the Medieval Warm Period of 1000 years ago, a growing body of evidence is beginning to indicate there was a period of time some 500 years ago when temperatures were also warmer than they are currently." (co2science.org)

"Long-Term Studies (Woody Plants: Sweetgum)" - "Do mature sweetgum trees respond to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment as well as seedlings?  And if they do, can they maintain their initial growth response as time progresses, or do the trees eventually acclimate and exhibit a down-regulation of photosynthesis that gradually erodes the growth-promoting power of the elevated CO 2 ?" (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: Anacardium excelsum, Antirrhoea trichantha, Luehea seemannii and Spanish Elm." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"Reconstructing the Climatic History of the Northern Hemisphere Over the Past Millennium from Proxy Temperature Data: Problems with Mann et al.'s Methodology" - "The case against the infamous "hockeystick" temperature history of Mann et al. grows ever stronger." (co2science.org)

"Looking For Hockeysticks in Central Sweden …" - "… but coming up empty-handed." (co2science.org)

"Ten Years of Free-Air CO 2 Enrichment of Perennial Ryegrass" - "Were the results of year ten much different from those of year one?  And was the world-record ten years' duration for an experiment of this type sufficient to reveal what is needed to accurately predict the long-term consequences of the ongoing rise in the air's CO 2 concentration for generations to come?" (co2science.org)

"Water Use Efficiency of Sorghum in a CO 2 -Enriched World of the Future" - "How would it influenced by possible reductions in soil water availability?" (co2science.org)

"CO 2 Effects on the Palatability of Birch Seedlings to Mammalian Herbivores" - "Do tender branch tissues and the bark of young tree trunks become more or less appealing to North American rabbits and Eurasian hares as the air's CO 2 concentration continues to rise?  Or do they remain unaffected?" (co2science.org)

"Greenpeace Seeks Greener Pastures" - "Greenpeace pressured to do about-face in wake of the failure of its “Stop Esso” campaign." (Christopher C. Horner, EU Reporter)

"Geologists bury carbon dioxide in test" - "Geologists are burying compressed carbon dioxide beneath an old oil field to try to determine if the sandstone layer beneath the coasts of Texas and Louisiana would make a good reservoir for the greenhouse gas." (Associated Press)

"GUEST EDITORIAL: A Chicken Little law: Car buyers will pay for air board's empty gesture" - "In a few years, California motorists will be forced to spend $1,000 to $3,000 more for a new car, and might find their ability to buy minivans, station wagons and SUVs far more limited. That's because of a law signed by Gov. Gray Davis, and because of the foolish support of this past decision by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger." (The Orange County Register)

"The 'Peak Oil' cult" - "The idea that the world is about to hit some kind of oil crisis, on a grand and even cataclysmic scale, is not new. "Total future production limited to 5.7 billion barrels, perhaps 10-year supply," reported the U.S. government in 1914. Despite numerous and similar warnings of looming end-of-supply scenarios over the decades, by the 1960s the United States was producing that many barrels per day, before hitting 11.3 billion in 1970, and on to 10.6 billion a day in 1985.

It is all part of what Julian Simon called "The long-running running out of oil drama," a near-mystical ritual that has long galvanized global doomsters. We're always running out of something -- coal, oil, copper, trees, housing and land. The latest oil scare, gathering momentum over the last five years or so, is the "Peak Oil" movement. As the price of crude hit $50 a barrel, the idea that the world is on the brink of a major long-term confrontation with declining oil reserves is about to go mainstream." (Terence Corcoran, Financial Post)

Bellamy and the Moonbat: "Blow by blow..." - "David Bellamy and George Monbiot, two of Britain's leading environmentalists, have been arguing fiercely about climate change and wind farms. Their correspondence continues..." (The Guardian) | Earlier communications

"New wind power mecca? Quebec aims for it" - "QUEBEC - A $1.5 billion windmill power project unveiled by Quebec will more than double Canada's output of wind energy and install 660 turbines in the province. Quebec Premier Jean Charest said the announcement is just the beginning for the province, which has asked for new proposals to produce an additional 1,000 megawatts of wind power above and beyond Monday's numbers." (MSNBC News Services)

"Bat Deaths in West Virginia Could Threaten Green Image of Wind Power" - "Oct. 3—Bats and ridgetop wind turbines are a deadly combination, recent research at a Tucker County wind power site confirms. A second round of research this summer at the Mountaineer Wind Energy Center near Thomas shows that the 44 wind turbines there killed at least as many bats as scientists found last year, said Merlin Tuttle, director of Bat Conservation International in Austin, Texas." (The Charleston Gazette)

"China warns of more power cuts" - "China has warned that several of its key regions face more power shortages this winter and spring. China suffered shortages in the summer, as temperatures soared and air conditioning units used up energy. While cooler weather has temporarily helped, the need for heating and maintenance will soon mean facilities cannot meet demand, officials said. China's current power generation capacity is struggling to keep up with the country's rapid economic growth." (BBC Online)

"New Study Examines Business Impacts of Energy and Climate Choices" - "SYDNEY — Energy demand could double or triple by 2050, as population rises and developing countries expand their economies and overcome poverty, according to a new study." (GreenBiz.com)

"Show #412: The Proof in the Organic Pudding" - "Guests: Alex Avery, Hudson Institute's Center for Global Food Issues; Charles Benbrook, Organic Center for Education and Promotion;

Subject: We now spend over $10 billion a year on organic foods. And so its time to ask: "Is organic food better than food that is not organic?

Topics include the reasons behind the explosive growth of organic foods; what scientific evidence exists, or does not exist, as to whether organic foods are actually better; and what consumers can do to make up their own mind as to the veracity of organic foods." (Metro Farm) Listen Now (Click on for MP3 download)

"The Next Green Revolution" - "Given the possible rewards of an African Green Revolution, the price tag is small." (Pedro Sanchez, New York Times)

"Monsanto Victory Plants Seed of Privatisation" - "BROOKLIN, Canada, Oct 5 -- Canadian farmers' traditional right to save seeds is being threatened by proposals to collect royalties on virtually all such seeds following agribusiness giant Monsanto's victory over grower Percy Schmeiser." (IPS)

"Europe closes ranks on bioengineered food" - "GENEVA Some are smokers. Some drink too much. Some admit they love red meat. But virtually all shoppers here at the Migros Supermarket on the bustling Rue des Paquis are united in avoiding a risk they regard as unacceptable: genetically modified food. That is easy to do here in Switzerland, as in the rest of Europe, where food containing such ingredients must be labeled by law. Many large retailers, like Migros, have essentially stopped stocking the products, regarding them as bad for public image." (Elisabeth Rosenthal, IHT)

"More crop for the drop" - "Your morning espresso at Starbucks will soon be more expensive. Unless, that is, they find a way to make it without water or coffee, both increasingly in short supply." (Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko, The Washington Times)

"The Toxic Politics of Biotech" - "How far does grass pollen travel? Ask someone who has hay fever, and the response is likely to be "much too far." But unsatisfied with that answer, the folks at our Environmental Protection Agency decided they needed an elaborate experiment -- which they performed with a gene-spliced, herbicide-resistant grass. They found that the pollen spread more than a dozen miles downwind, farther than previously had been measured. Predictably, the results have been blown out of all proportion by hot air from anti-biotechnology activists." (Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko, TCS)

See also: Wandering Grass Genes? - Slow Growth Does Not Colonize Environment (Jussi Tammisola, AgBioView)

October 5, 2004

"Are Anti-Drug Ads a Big Waste?" - "The government has yet to prove that its $200 million-a-year media campaign is effective, leading to all sorts of carping." (David Kiley, BusinessWeek Online)

"The Fat of the Land: Do Agricultural Subsidies Foster Poor Health?" - "Critics are asking whether federal subsidies for crops such as wheat, soybeans, and corn are actually driving the U.S. epidemic of obesity." (Environmental Health Perspectives)

"Parental chemical exposures and childhood leukemia" - "Researchers report that parents' chemical exposures may be associated with distinct mutations (called ras mutations) in their children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia." (Environmental Health Perspectives)

Must be Fall: "Chemical heads" - "Those unpronounceable ingredients in hair-care products raise eyebrows about the effects on users and the environment." (The Inquirer)

"Certain types of schizophrenia may be linked to summer birth" - "Patients with deficit schizophrenia, a subtype of schizophrenia characterized by "negative" symptoms, such as blunted speech and expression, lack of emotional response, and apathy, are more likely to have been born in the summer months, according to an article in the October issue of The Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals." (JAMA and Archives Journals Website)

"Offspring at risk from maternal occupational exposure to solvents" - "Researchers at The Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids) and the University of Toronto (U of T) have linked maternal exposure to organic solvents in the workplace with poorer performance on measures of neurocognitive function, language, and behaviour in offspring. This research is reported in the October 2004 issue of the journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine." (University of Toronto) | Mother's exposure to solvents while pregnant is associated with negative effects on child (JAMA and Archives Journals Website)

"How clean is your air?" - "Pollution from traffic and factories is having an ever greater effect on our health. But as Clare Longrigg reports, it's not as simple as town v country" (The Guardian)

"Mutant fish prompt concern - Study focuses on sewage plants" - "When Colorado biologist John Woodling and a team of researchers pulled fish from the South Platte River and Boulder Creek two years ago, they found deformities they'd never seen before.

Some had both male and female sex tissue.

The fish, white suckers native to Colorado, were swimming in the waters downstream of the Denver area's largest sewage plants.

And the team found something else: Females far outnumbered males in these wastewater soups." (Denver Post)

"Birds lend wing to surprising findings in Mission Bay study" - "Swimmers and boaters at Mission Bay, where bacteria contamination has been a chronic problem, may be safer than previously thought." (San Diego Union-Tribune)

"End of lobster suit may be near" - "As scientists wrap up their research on what killed the lobsters in Long Island Sound five years ago, a federal lawsuit that lobstermen filed blaming pesticide companies for the die-off may be coming to an end." (White Plains Journal News)

"Fungus knocks a frog down but not out, raising questions about amphibian declines" - "The deadly chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis which has been implicated in massive declines and waves of extinction in Central America and Eastern Australia, has been found not to be universally lethal, a finding that may give important new clues concerning this pathogen's behavior in the wild, and point towards understanding how it spreads." (Arizona State University) | Endangered frogs coexist with fungus once thought fatal (Public Library of Science)

"Bark Beetle Numbers Declining" - "A mysterious decline in the bark beetle population and the prospect of a wet winter have biologists cautiously predicting that the infestation that has felled tens of millions of pine trees from San Bernardino to Baja California may be nearing an end.

"If we get a lot of rainfall this coming winter, odds are good the beetle population will stay down," said Tim Paine, an entomologist at UC Riverside. "If rainfall is very low, however, the trees will be back in the position they were before; there's too many trees, and these beetles are real opportunists." (Los Angeles Times)

[Gasp!] "New Research Questions Uniqueness of Recent Warming" - "A new analysis has challenged the accuracy of a climate timeline showing that recent global warming is unmatched for a thousand years.

That timeline, generated by stitching together hints of past temperatures embedded in tree rings, corals, ice layers and other sources, is one strut supporting the widely accepted view that the current warm spell is being caused mainly by accumulating heat-trapping smokestack and tailpipe emissions.

The authors of the study, published in the current issue of the online journal ScienceExpress, said they did not dispute that a sharp warming was under way and that its pace could signal a human influence. But they said their test of the methods used to mesh recent temperature records with centuries-old evidence showed that past natural climate shifts were most likely sharply underestimated.

Many climate scientists credited the new study with pointing out how much uncertainty still surrounds efforts to turn nature's spotty, unwritten temperature records into a climate chronology." (New York Times)

Another cat out of the bag (Number Watch)

"Arctic sea ice declines again in 2004, according to U. of Colorado study" - "Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder have found that the extent of Arctic sea ice, the floating mass of ice that covers the Arctic Ocean, is continuing its rapid decline. The latest satellite information indicates the September 2004 sea ice extent was 13.4 percent below average, a reduction in area nearly twice the size of Texas, said Mark Serreze of CU-Boulder's National Snow and Ice Data Center" (University of Colorado at Boulder)

September Edition of CEI's Monthly Planet (PDF) - Tech Regulation Done Right, by Braden Cox and Andrew Delaney; Ketchup, More than a Vegetable, by Sam Kazman; Confronting the Malaria Threat, testimony by Roger Bate; Review of Biz-War and the Out-Of-Power Elites: The Progressive-Left Attack on the Corporation, by Neil Hrab; Why the United States Should Remove Its Signature from the Kyoto Protocol, by Chris Horner and Iain Murray (CEI)

"African Conflict Is Seen Rooted in Environment" - "JOHANNESBURG — Many conflicts in war-torn Africa are rooted in increasingly parched and degraded land exacerbated by global warming, the first of a series of U.N. regional checkups of the planet's health found." (Reuters)

"The uberhysteria over climate change" - "Alarmists have all but hijacked the debate over global warming" (Dennis Byrne, Chicago Tribune)

"Kyoto Protocol nears approval without U.S." - "International adoption of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming is one short step from reality following the Russian Cabinet's endorsement Thursday.

However, treaty supporters cautioned that the pact is a first step, not a long-term solution.

"Kyoto is a first step - it only goes to 2012 - but bringing it into force sends a signal that the age of carbon limits has arrived," said Annie Petsonk, international counsel for Environmental Defense." (Joan Lowy, Scripps Howard News Service)

"Russian Expects Vote on Kyoto Treaty" - "Russia's parliament is moving toward a vote this month on the Kyoto Protocol, action that could bring the international treaty on climate change into effect after years of delay, the deputy prime minister said Monday.

A vote by the State Duma, or lower house, hadn't yet been scheduled, but First Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov said it was expected this month." (The Associated Press)

"Russia backs Kyoto, for now" - "MOSCOW - The decision by the Russian government to ratify the Kyoto Protocol is being widely seen as Moscow's strategy to benefit from emissions-quota trading and secure European Union support for its bid to enter the World Trade Organization (WTO). With Russia joining the protocol, aimed at curbing greenhouse-gas emissions, there will be enough signatories for it to become a United Nations treaty subject to international law.

Kyoto ratification by Russia will be discussed at the Russia-EU summit on November 11, Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov has said, adding that Russia would not use the issue as a bargaining chip in relations with the European Union. But many in the Russian media think otherwise, commenting that Moscow moved to back Kyoto yielding to European pressure.

But the government's stand on ratification notwithstanding, there still seems to be some consternation over backing it even within the administration." (Sergei Blagov, Asia Times)

From the 'all pain, no gain - but do it anyway" camp: "With Russia behind Kyoto Protocol, U.S. should be as well" - "Russia's move to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, if approved by the Duma, could mean carbon dioxide emission curbs could finally go into effect 13 years after they were proposed. But the Bush administration is not budging from its opposition to the treaty, and the United States will not be bound by it.

As a practical matter, the protocol will have minimal impact on worldwide carbon emissions. Developing nations among the 120 signers, including China, are exempt until industrial nations are in compliance. But as international environmental diplomacy, it acknowledges that pollution should be controlled to reduce climate changes." (The News Journal)

"Cold shoulder won't work" - "After years of delay, Russia appears poised to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty aimed at limiting emissions of greenhouses gases that contribute to global warming. While it's still to soon to celebrate, Russia's admittedly reluctant embrace of the treaty should spur the United States and other industrial nations to follow suit." (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Iain Murray's response to the preceding item: "Global warming not a cost-effective target" - "There's a scientific consensus, we're often told, that global warming is a problem — despite the opinion of qualified experts ranging from the Russian Academy of Sciences to the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT that it isn't.

Yet, even if those worried scientists are right, science can't tell us whether acting to prevent further global warming is worth the trouble. For that, we have to look to economics. And in that field there is a growing consensus that global warming is the least of our problems." (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

"Kerry's Strategic Ambiguity on Kyoto" - "Insert the term "Kyoto" into the internal search engine on the John Kerry for President website, and -- perhaps surprisingly for an issue on which President Bush has been so widely criticized around the world -- only five results appear." (Patrick Goodenough, CNSNews.com)

"Climate Changes Buffet Howard's Election Campaign" - "CANBERRA, Oct 4 - In the last week of the federal election campaign Australian Prime Minister John Howard's efforts to woo environmental voters suffered a setback with the revelation that the government promised an oil company financial assistance but only on condition that it sue the environmental group Greenpeace." (Bob Burton, IPS)

Public money invested to sue Greenpeace... better reason than most to pay so much tax, I guess.

"CO2 credit trading coming to a forest near you" - "The days in which the air we breathe is free look to be numbered.

With the Kyoto Protocol likely to take effect with the Russian government's decision Thursday to submit a bill for ratification of the Kyoto treaty, the creation of a market in which greenhouse gas emission credits are traded has become a real possibility." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

"Change in the Chinese Wind" - "The world's largest wind power project will begin construction this month near Beijing, bringing green energy and cleaner air to the 2008 Summer Olympics and city residents coping with some of the worst air pollution in the world.

The new wind power plant, located 60 miles outside Beijing in Guangting, will generate 400 megawatts per day, nearly doubling the electrical energy China currently obtains from wind. But that's just the beginning. Last summer at a climate change conference in Bonn, Germany, China surprised many by announcing it will generate 12 percent of its energy from renewable sources such as wind by 2020." (Stephen Leahy, Wired)

October 4, 2004

"Members of Parliament Support the Use of DDT" - "The Ugandan Parliament votes in favour of using DDT to control malaria - great news. Now if someone can convince the donor agencies and UN bodies to support this move it may actually mean that fewer Ugandans will die from this preventable disease. We will be keeping a close eye on Uganda so-called malaria partners." (AFM)

"Deformed frogs are less of a mystery, thanks to Washington U. researcher" - "Scientists have puzzled over the growing plague of abnormal amphibians ever since Minnesota schoolchildren found a pond full of deformed frogs in 1995." (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

"New tool to protect the Earth: Lawsuits" - "Lawsuits, whether they target government agencies or take the form of citizen suits against private corporations and alleged polluters, are becoming a more high-profile tool for environmental groups." (Portland Press Herald)

Well DUH! "Airtight homes eyed as mold issues grow" - "Since the 1970s, homes have been built increasingly airtight to save on gas and electricity. Some observers, however, believe the practice has increased problems with indoor air quality and resulted in higher incidences of household mold." (Los Angeles Times)

Of scares and scams (Number Watch)

"Warning: medical websites damage your health" - "Health obsessives will be breaking out in a sweat when they read the latest research: browsing medical websites can be bad for you." (Independent)

The Week That Was Oct. 2, 2004 (SEPP)

"The Summer of Scientifically Inconvenient Hurricanes" - "Climate report questions alarmist claims that global warming is causing increased number of hurricanes." (CEI)

"A warming hush in weather's wake?" - "If four hurricanes had blown through the Southeast in rapid succession at any other time in recent years, the phenomenon almost certainly would have been blamed on that all-purpose explainer for nearly every unexplainable natural phenomenon, global warming.

But there has been nary a peep about global warming. For one thing, this has been one of the cooler years on record, a huge disappointment to the climate-change enthusiasts." (Tom Bray, The Washington Times)

"U.S. Firms Look Ahead To Emissions Cuts Overseas - Whether Russia Ratifies Treaty Is Key" - "On Thursday, as news was leaking out that Russia was likely to ratify the Kyoto global warming treaty, a group of U.S. business executives was discussing climate policy as they lunched on chicken and avocado sandwiches in Washington's St. Regis hotel.

One of them, Lee Califf, government affairs manager for Alcoa Inc., said the news meant that he has to reassess what carbon emissions reductions Alcoa will have to make in countries around the globe where the company has plants.

"Nobody seems to have a very clear idea of what this means for the United States," Califf said later, adding that even in the absence of U.S. regulation to limit greenhouse gases thought to be fueling the planet's warming trend, "We're going to have to do some of this stuff." (Washington Post)

"Russia's 'Da' To Kyoto Hurts U.S." - "Environment: Vladimir Putin mustn't think much of Russia's economic future — and even less of its economic ties to the U.S. Why else would he sign off on Kyoto?

By agreeing to the Kyoto treaty to cut output of global warming gases, Putin sold his nation's economic soul. And for what? Membership in the World Trade Organization? Cozier ties with Europe? A little diplomatic breathing room for Russia's bloody war against Chechen separatists?

If Putin thinks Russia will benefit much, he is shortsighted and foolish. As his own top economic adviser, Andrei Illarionov, noted, Kyoto would "result in an economic holocaust for Russia." (IBD)

"The Never Ending Story" - "Hailing Russia's ratification that isn't." (Christopher Horner, TCS)

"Putin's numbers man criticises Kyoto sign-up" - "The chief economic adviser to the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has broken ranks with his own government, criticising the Russian cabinet's decision to approve the Kyoto treaty on global warming." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

"Kyoto: Russia hanging fire?" - "Contrary to most news reports, the Russian Government has not submitted the Kyoto Protocol to the Duma for ratification," said Benny Peiser, editor of scholarly electronic network CCNet (Cambridge Conference Network) from Liverpool John Moores University... Russia Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov actually said that the Protocol would be submitted to the Duma for ratification only after the government receives "further clarification of certain aspects" of the scheme." (National Business Review)

"Russia's Path to Kyoto" - "The Russian government has taken a historic step in the fight against global climate change. On Sept. 30, it announced that it will ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, sending the accord to the Duma for final approval." (BusinessWeek Online)

"Russia traded Kyoto for WTO: press" - "Russia has played one of its last political trump cards -- the Kyoto Protocol -- in hopes of winning European support for its membership in the World Trade Organization, the Russian press said Friday" (AFP)

Press review: "The pressure is now on Mr Bush" - "Russia's ratification of the Kyoto protocol will boost its position" (The Guardian)

"Federation Council divided over Kyoto Protocol ratification" - "Plans to ratify the Kyoto Protocol have provoked a mixed response among members of the Russian Federation Council, the upper chamber of parliament, and the Federation Council's debates on this document will not be a smooth process, Oganes Oganian, head of the Federation Council's committee for economic policy, told Interfax." (Interfax)

"Kyoto's Tipping Point" - "After more than a decade of diplomacy to create a global pact for reducing greenhouse gases, humanity will soon see if it can successfully reduce carbon dioxide emissions and curb its contribution to global warming." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"United States Correcting Climate Change Outside Kyoto Protocol" - "The United States has not changed its position on the Kyoto Protocol, despite approval of the protocol by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his cabinet, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said during his September 30 press briefing." (Washington File)

"Kyoto Flip-Flopper" - "Maybe the poor man doesn't remember his vote in 1997. Maybe he hasn't read the Democratic platform. At any rate, it was a bad choice. He grabbed another flip-flop." (James K. Glassman, TCS)

"Latest Episode of the Kyoto Soap" - "Despite opposition from leading scientific and economic advisors, Russian President Vladimir Putin has told key ministers to sign off on the documents necessary for ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and the State Duma may approve it in the next few weeks. Russia's support will clear the way for the treaty entering into force. Apparently, the Russians have decided that Kyoto's defects shouldn't stop it from being used as a bargaining chip with the European Union. According to Myron Ebell, Director of Global Warming & International Environmental Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute: "Russia's scientists have dismissed the faulty science behind the treaty and their economists have done the same with the rosy economic projections put forward by Kyoto's backers. The only thing left supporting ratification is pure politics." (Hans Labohm, TCS)

"Kyoto treaty becomes global law, flaws and all" - "The Kyoto Protocol on curbing global warming has been in limbo since 2001, when the United States rejected it outright, for valid reasons. And until last week, Russia sat on the sidelines, unsure whether compliance with stringent rules to control the emissions of greenhouse gases would hurt its economy.

But President Vladimir Putin's cabinet endorsed it Thursday and sent it to the Duma to be rubber stamped. With Russia's assent, the Kyoto Protocol will have enough signers to become a United Nations treaty, subject to international law.

This may seem like great news for the planet, damaged by climate changes brought about by global warming. But the measures that industrial nations must take to fulfill the terms of the treaty could spell trouble in a time of global recession." (Newsday)

"Russia's step toward ratifying climate treaty pleases Europeans" - "BERLIN — Europeans welcomed Russia's move toward ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, but environmentalists cautioned that the accord, rejected by the United States, can only be a "first step" toward negotiating deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions." (AP)

"Leader: Voting for Kyoto" - "It may have taken a few years to do so, but Russia's decision to ratify the Kyoto treaty on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions couldn't have come at a better time. At one stroke its decision has breathed new life into the protocol, which was widely regarded as being effectively in a coma since 2001. And by choosing to announce its decision this week, Russia's government has - unwittingly - put pressure on the developed world's two high-profile Kyoto refuseniks, the United States and Australia, which both happen to be in the middle of bitter election campaigns." (The Guardian)

"Korea: Is the Gov't Forgetting the Kyoto Protocol?" - "Russia has decided to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, an execution plan for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement to reduce the use of fossil fuels like coal and oil in order to prevent global warming. Burning fossil fuels emits things like carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. If Russia, the world's No. 3 emitter of greenhouse gases, ratifies the agreement, the protocol would officially go into effect next year." (EDITORIAL from the Chosun Ilbo)

"Japan: Environment tax ruffles corporate feathers" - "Corporate Japan is preparing to step up its criticism of a proposed tax aimed at curbing carbon dioxide emissions-an idea that was tabled years ago but only now looks likely to become a reality.

Calls for the environment tax will likely gain momentum following the Russian Cabinet's decision on Thursday to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, an international pact designed to stem global warming." (The Asahi Shimbun)

"Koike vows to sway business sector on carbon tax" - "Yuriko Koike, reappointed as the environment minister, says Japan needs a carbon tax to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"The problem of global warming is a pressing situation. (To cut emissions,) I will try to introduce a carbon tax by persuading related ministries and other parties," Koike said in an interview." (The Japan Times)

"Ford lays out a move to cut auto emissions" - "Top executives at the Ford Motor Company have privately endorsed an aggressive goal of reining in emissions from the automaker's vehicles by 2030, joining companies like BP and Toyota in approaching the issue as a business opportunity rather than a regulatory chore." (New York Times)

"California dreamin' no Mass. role model" - "California now has its own anti-global-warming policy, through regulations of the state's Air Resources Board that require motor vehicles to emit an average of 30 percent less of the principal ``greenhouse gas'' by 2016.

Two years ago the California Legislature passed a popular law requiring the board to do what it did in September. But popularity does not mean that letting constituents count themselves among the anointed - regardless of the effectiveness of the policy - is a good idea.

Massachusetts, alas, has fallen into some of the same ego-boosting policies. It requires power plants to reduce their emissions of the major warming gas, carbon dioxide. This time our state should not follow California's lead." (Boston Herald editorial)

"Scientists chew on idea of edible vaccines" - "Vaccines which can be taken just by having a drink or eating a snack could help patients skip the often-feared injections." (The Straits Times)

"Research shows antibiotics in genetically modified plants are a non issue" - "The probability that antibiotic resistance markers (ARMs) which are used in some genetically modified plants could transfer to bacteria harmful to humans is less than winning first prize in the national lottery three weeks in a row." (Medical News Today)

"Column: Anti-GE crowd spews distortions, lies at city hall, Farm Bureau" - "The lies and distortion continue from the anti-biotech crowd traipsing through California hiding behind their anti-corporate, socialist, anti-human agenda in opposing agriculture biotechnology." (Harry Cline, Western Farm Press)

"GM rice controversy boils over" - "Scientists and environmentalists continue to be at loggerheads over a genetically modified strain of rice developed in Switzerland." (swissinfo)

"There are ample facts to support biotechnology" - "CLIVE JAMES, chairperson, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications gives T V JAYAN and CLIFFORD POLYCARP his prescription for feeding the hungry world" (DownToEarth.org.in)

"Enriched rice a distant dream for India" - "Fears of environmental damage and food safety have held up India's plans to develop varieties of genetically modified (GM) nutrition enriched rice that could solve some of India's malnutrition problems." (Lola Nayar, IANS)

"Conference Looks at Genetically Modified Organisms" - "ROME, SEPT. 30, 2004 - Participants and press people alike found themselves highly stirred during a biotechnology conference held at the Gregorian University last week.

That's exactly what the organizers of the event were hoping for.

The U.S. Embassy to the Holy See and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences had joined forces to present the meeting entitled "Feeding a Hungry World: The Moral Imperative of Biotechnology?"

They aimed to investigate the complex moral debate surrounding the use of genetically modified foods or organisms, GMOs, as an answer to feeding the 1.5 billion people who suffer from hunger and malnutrition." (Zenit.org)

October 3, 2004

"A Quiet Anniversary" - "Have you adjusted your temperature data lately?

Historical temperature records usually include effects of various changes in the locations, and kinds of, thermometers, and of observer procedures, including times of day of observations, all of which can have "non-climatic" effects on the temperatures that get recorded.

Such "non-climatic" effects on recorded temperatures get considerable attention by researchers, and various kinds of methods have been devised to adjust the "raw" data so as to compensate for those effects." (Jerry Brennan, Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

For those yet unaware, Jerry Brennan is curator of the excellent site Still Waiting for Greenhouse. Jerry raises a most significant point, establishing the near-surface temperature is no trivial matter and establishing genuine trends is a fraught process indeed.

You would think that temperatures recorded in years past would be used as some form of baseline and hardly subject to change - and you would be wrong. See An Elastic U.S. Climate History - for more on the update see: Hansen et al. 2001

October 1, 2004

"Suburbs Don't Pose Health Risk" - "Suburbanites, watch out! The anti-sprawl mob is coming to rob you of the peace of mind you moved to the suburbs to get." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"'Obesity' lawyers licking chops" - "Very few Americans look to lawyers to save them from their Cheeto-munching selves. But that hasn't stopped the plaintiff's bar, in search of its next supersized payday, from fixing its sights on your waistline." (Richard Berman, The Washington Times)

"Asthma cases increase sixfold in 30 years in Japan" - "An increasing number of children are suffering from bronchial asthma in Japan. The rise has been so rapid that the number of cases has increased sixfold in the past 30 years." (Medical News Today)

Number of the month [of September] – one in a billion (Number Watch) [Scroll down]

Hmm... "O father, where art thou" - " There is evidence that environmental factors and maybe even an evolutionary deterioration of the Y chromosome are contributing to falling sperm production around the world, although Australian men appear to have been spared, so far." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Global climate treaty gets key boost from Russia" - "Russia all but ratified the treaty Thursday, lending it the support needed for passage." (The Christian Science Monitor)

Speaking of hot air: "Russia's CO2 promise will kickstart carbon trade" - "The decision by the Russian government to ratify the Kyoto Treaty on climate change yesterday promises to kickstart a multibillion-dollar global emissions trading industry - based in London." (The Guardian)

Hmm... "A Russian surprise" - "In doing good by the world's environment, Russia has delivered an unpleasant surprise to much of the American right. Thanks to a Russian decision to join, the Kyoto Pact on global climate change is finally assured of going into effect as international law.

So much for National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's 2001 declaration that Kyoto was "dead." (Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial)

We'll see. The um... non-male person of size has yet to sing and so more-experienced media scribes have noted that this 'gives the pact a boost' but it is not yet signed, sealed and delivered. Is this yet another 'so near and yet so far' negotiating ploy by the Russians? We hope that it is but only time will tell.

The Financial Times is a little more worldly: "Kyoto survives" - "After years of vacillation, the Russian government yesterday approved the Kyoto protocol to combat global warming and sent it to the Duma for the formal ratification that is the key to bringing this seven-year-old international treaty into effect.

It is too early to celebrate. Even though the Duma is now effectively President Vladimir Putin's puppet, it is just possible the same arguments for and against Kyoto that long divided Russia's government will resurface in its parliament." (Financial Times editorial)

"US stands firm on Kyoto rejection despite Russian move to ratify treaty" - "WASHINGTON - The United States stood firm in rejecting the Kyoto Protocol on global warming despite renewed pressure to yield after Russia ended years of hesitation by moving to ratify the treaty.

The State Department had no comment on the decision by the Russian cabinet to submit the document to the Duma for approval but said Washington remained committed in its own way to battling climate change." (AFP)

"Kyoto would hurt Australian industry: PM" - "The Prime Minister John Howard says he will not change his mind about the Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gas emissions after the Russian cabinet approved a new law ratifying the agreement. The law will be debated in the Russian Parliament but is expected to pass unhindered." (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) | Australia defies new pressure to sign Kyoto after Russia moves to ratify (AFP) | Australia would be "crazy" to approve Kyoto - govt (Reuters)

Letter of the moment: "Climate Change and Malaria" - "Sir David A. King's claim that "Climate change is the most severe problem that we are facing today--more serious even than the threat of terrorism" ("Climate change science: adapt, mitigate, or ignore?", Policy Forum, 9 Jan., p. 176) is based, in part, on UK government-sponsored impacts analyses that estimate that by the 2080s, because "of continued warming, millions more people around the world may in future be exposed to the risk of hunger, drought, flooding, and debilitating diseases such as malaria. Poor people in developing countries are likely to be most vulnerable" (p. 176). But the very studies underlying the latter quote, and which King cites, show that, for the most part, many more millions would be at risk in the absence of climate change. For instance, the population at risk of malaria (PAR-M) in the absence of climate change is projected to double between 1990 and the 2080s, to 8,820 million. However, unmitigated climate change would, by the 2080s, further increase PAR-M by another 257 to 323 million.

Thus, by the 2080s, halting further climate change would, at best, reduce total PAR-M by 3.5% [=100 x 323/(323 + 8,820)]. On the other hand, reducing carbon dioxide emissions with the goal of eventually stabilizing carbon dioxide at 550 ppm would reduce total PAR-M by 2.8% at a cost to developed nations, according to King, of 1% of GDP in 2050 (p. 177), or about $280 billion in today's terms. But malaria's current annual death toll of about 1 million could be halved at an annual cost of $1.25 billion or less, according to the World Health Organization, through a combination of measures such as residual home spraying with insecticides, insecticide-treated bednets, improved case management, and more comprehensive antenatal care. Clearly, implementing such measures now would provide greater malaria benefits over the next few decades than would climate stabilization at any level." (Indur M. Goklany, Science) [anyone lacking access to Science can see the full text, along with King's rather insipid 'response' here]

"Evidence Shaky for Sun's Major Role in Past Climate Changes" - "BOULDER, Colo., Sept. 30 -- Computer models of Earth's climate have consistently linked long-term, high-magnitude variations in solar output to past climate changes. Now a closer look at earlier studies of the Sun and Sun-like stars casts doubt on the evidence of such cycles, their intensity, and their possible influence on Earth's climate. The findings, by a solar physicist and two climate experts, appear in the Oct. 1 issue of the journal Science.

The authors write, "...long-term irradiance variations used in climate models in the past decade may be a factor of 5 [five times] larger than can be justified. The full impact of this changed outlook on attempts to explain past climate variations and estimates of climate sensitivity to external forcing remains to be seen." (AScribe Newswire)

"Models may underestimate climate swings" - "The climate may have varied much more wildly in the past than reconstructions from tree-rings and ice-cores suggest, say climate scientists who have studied 1000 years of simulated data." (NewScientist.com news service) | Past climate change questioned (News @ Nature)

Mann doesn't like this, perhaps because it makes his infamous 'hockey stick' look even worse.

He's still at it: "Thousands 'will face climate change floods'" - "GLOBAL warming will cause flooding misery for thousands of Welsh people living near rivers and coastlines, the nation's top climate expert warned yesterday. Sir John Houghton, one of the world's leading authorities on climate change, said urgent action is needed to save millions of lives and stave off a global catastrophe. Speaking to National Assembly members, Sir John, from Aberdovey, called global warming "a new weapon of mass destruction." (The Western Mail)

"Climate change plus human pressure caused large mammal extinctions in late Pleistocene" - "Humans have been blamed for the extinction of two-thirds of all the planet's large mammals between 50,000 and 10,000 years ago, but a new study shows that climate change played a key role too. According to Anthony Barnosky of UC Berkeley and colleagues, though the story varies from continent to continent, climate change and humans were the one-two punch that did in mammoths, giant ground sloths and other megafauna. Similar pressures threaten large mammals today." (University of California - Berkeley)

"Potential for enhanced sequestration of carbon in soils supports evaluations" - "Researchers led by Wilfred M. Post of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory describe in the September 2004 issue of BioScience an approach to assessing "promising" techniques for mitigating global warming caused by the greenhouse effect. Agriculturally-based options for reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by increasing sequestration of carbon in soils "should be evaluated to see how competitive they are in comparison with a variety of other options," according to Post's team." (American Institute of Biological Sciences)

"Global warming and insurance: Awful weather we're having" - "FOR insurers as for Floridians, the recent pounding from four back-to-back hurricanes, costing $20 billion or so, has been highly unusual, as well as unwelcome. Not since Texas in 1886 have so many hurricanes struck one American state in a single season. And Mother Nature seems to be fairly bursting with surprises. In Europe, last summer was the hottest on record and severe windstorms have been on the rise. On a ten-year view, the frequency of weather disasters has tripled since the 1960s and insured losses have risen ten-fold, according to Munich Re, the world's largest reinsurer.

Some might ascribe all this to global warming. In fact, this is far from being established—and hurricanes are especially hard to assess." (The Economist)

"Danger in Degrees: Warmer weather could hurt ski resorts" - "In early days of ski areas, business at Thanksgiving was always questionable. That was before snowmaking.

Now, if not necessarily powder, there's usually snow for sliding during Thanksgiving, giving ski area operators and the communities that depend upon skiing at least a four-month season.

But if predicted consequences for global warming are accurate, the bookends for skiing will move in, making the season shorter. Snowmaking will become more necessary and also more expensive. And there will be fewer powder days and more rain days, even in the Rocky Mountains." (Aspen Times Weekly)

"Five power companies defend against global warming lawsuit" - "NEW YORK -- Some of the nation's largest power companies on Thursday defended efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, saying a lawsuit accusing them of neglecting the threat of global warming seeks a "piecemeal response" to a worldwide problem.

In court papers filed in federal court in Manhattan, the companies, which include American Electric Power and Cinergy Corp. of Ohio, said the July lawsuit brought by eight states wants the court to usurp the policy-setting role that Congress and the president have in dealing with global warming.

"The Constitution does not entrust such policy decisions to the unelected judiciary," the power companies said." (Associated Press)

"Battle brews over California emissions rule" - " California recently made headlines by targeting global warning with the world's first regulations on tailpipe greenhouse gases." (Christian Science Monitor )

"Germans are in favor of building more wind turbines" - "A majority of Germans are in favor of building more wind turbines and increasing the country's share of renewable energy in its power mix, a poll by market researcher Emnid for the German Environment Ministry found." (Associated Press)

"Governor vetoes port smog curbs" - " Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday vetoed a bill to force the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to limit air pollution, angering environmentalists who said the health of surrounding residents was being threatened by dirty air from ships, trucks, trains and wharf equipment." (Los Angeles Times)

"Genetic mutations linked to the practice of burning coal in homes in China" - "According to a study directed by Phouthone Keohavong, Ph.D., associate professor, department of environmental and occupational health, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, individuals in Xuan Wei County, China, exposed to smoky coal emissions from cooking and heating their homes may carry genetic mutations that greatly increase their risk of developing lung cancer. The study is being presented Oct. 3 at the 35th Annual Meeting of the Environmental Mutagen Society in Pittsburgh." (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center)

"Dead zone' area shrinking, Texas A&M prof says" - "A team of Texas A&M University and Louisiana State University scientists conducted a research cruise in late August to the "dead zone" - a region in the northern Gulf of Mexico that suffers from low oxygen and results in huge marine losses - and much to their surprise, the "dead zone" area had either moved or had disappeared completely." (Texas A&M University)

"Canada rapped on environment" - "Canada spends less on pollution control than other rich countries, has more smog, protects less land and water, and even put a stop to reports that would let the public know what is going on with the environment, according to a bruising assessment from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development." ( Toronto Globe and Mail)

"Ending poverty 'requires US$70 billion in research aid'" - "The world's rich nations need to provide US$7 billion a year for the next decade to support research and development (R&D) relevant to the needs of developing countries, if they are serious about meeting a pledge to end extreme poverty by 2015.

This is among the recommendations contained in the draft of a summary report of the UN Millennium Project, an initiative carried out by an influential group of scientists, economists and public policy specialists convened by UN secretary general Kofi Annan." (SciDev.Net)

"Planning needed now for population boom - World Bank" - "WASHINGTON - Senior World Bank officials warned this week that a swelling population by 2050 required the world to spend more on science, technology and infrastructure." (Reuters)