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Archives - September 2003

September 30, 2003

"Running Away From Safety" - "Remember Jim Fixx? Not many people do, and that's a shame. Fixx was a jogging guru who ran 60 miles a week. He popularized the sport of running, and his "The Complete Book of Running" became a best seller. Thanks to him, millions of Americans now run to keep in shape. But almost 20 years ago this summer, 52-year-old Jim Fixx died of a heart attack ... while running.

The tragic irony of Fixx's death would be compounded, however, if we failed to learn an important lesson from it: Even actions that have risks can make us safer.

We often like to view risk as a binary problem: that is, something is either safe or it's not. Unfortunately, the world just doesn't work that way. Even something as simple as getting out of bed in the morning can increase our stress level, making us more susceptible to illness. Showering exposes us to the risk of slipping in the tub. Then, of course, there's jogging. Our risk of having a heart attack increases while we run, but on balance, jogging makes us healthier.

Every choice is laden with risk. But so are the alternatives. After all, if we don't get out of bed in the morning, we risk losing our jobs. The moral of the story is that nothing is safe, but some choices, such as jogging regularly, can make our lives "safer." (Gregory Conko, TCS)

"Colin James: High price to pay for banishing risk from society" - "COMMENT A problem with genetic modification is that it invites us to take risks and the 20th century gnawed away our tolerance for risk gone bad. It doesn't help that insurance companies insure only fully calculable risk fully covered by premiums, so have refused GM cover. One big GM risk involves this complex calculation: will losing "GM-free" status lose food export markets? A deeper risk is the one science constantly courts as it opens up the unknown: what might it unleash? Paradoxically, the more science has opened up the unknown, the safer and longer our lives have become and the more we think life can be risk-free. To bring us new benefits now, science must battle its own paradox." (New Zealand Herald)

"These Elves Are Up to More Than Mischief" - "The Earth Liberation Front's war to "stop the exploitation of the natural world" has been escalating in recent weeks. A condominium complex being built in San Diego was destroyed Aug. 1, SUV/Hummer dealerships in Los Angeles County and Sante Fe, N.M., were attacked in August and early September, and last week six homes under construction were torched, again in San Diego County. Altogether the cost is estimated at $54 million, the most extensive damage in any two months since ELF began its campaign of economic sabotage in 1996.

The FBI calls all of this "domestic terrorism" and has even designated ELF as the nation's No. 1 domestic terrorism threat. But ELFers—or elves, as they sometimes call themselves—are not typical terrorists; they specifically declare themselves to be "against harming any animal, human or nonhuman." Their actions are aimed only at property, and in this they stand in a long tradition of sabotage as political and economic protest, going back at least as far as the Luddites in 19th century Britain. It's a tradition, though, that does not provide much support for the idea that they will achieve their goals, however much destruction they enact. (Kirkpatrick Sale, Los Angeles Times)

[Kirkpatrick Sale is the author of 10 books, including "Rebels Against the Future: The Luddites and Their War Against the Industrial Revolution"(Addison-Wesley, 1995).]

"Refugee warning to global polluters" - "Countries such as Britain which are destroying the environment of poorer nations by contributing to global warming and using tropical hardwoods should be prepared to take a fair share of the refugees they have created, says a thinktank report today.

The New Economics Foundation says the idea of being responsible for environmental refugees is an extension of the "polluter pays" principle. "People whose environment is being damaged and destroyed, and who are losing their lives and their livelihoods, should be recompensed and protected by those responsible," the report says." (The Guardian)

"2003 ozone 'hole' approaches, but falls short of record" - "This year's Antarctic ozone hole is the second largest ever observed, according to scientists from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Naval Research Laboratory." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office)

Upsetting the faithful: "President Has Not Decided On Kyoto" - "President Vladimir Putin said Monday that Russia has not made a decision on whether to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and that the government will not do so until it finishes studying the implications that ratification would have for the country.

Putin, speaking at the opening ceremony of the five-day UN World Climate Change Conference, left the future of the Kyoto Protocol in limbo with his remarks and disappointed some attendees, who had hoped he might use the event to announce a ratification date." (The Moscow Times) | Putin refuses to say if Russia will ratify Kyoto protocol (Independent) | Russia stalls on Kyoto ratification (CBC News Online) | Arctic Nations Find Cold Comfort in Putin Joke (Reuters) | Kyoto treaty in the balance (BBC News Online) | Putin attacked for Kyoto delay (BBC News Online) | Moscow may cause Kyoto collapse (New Zealand City) | Kyoto Killjoy (The Christian Science Monitor) | EU alarmed as Putin backtracks on Kyoto (The Guardian) | Russian Stance Leaves Fate of Global Warming Pact in Doubt (Washington Post) | Putin under Kyoto pressure from oil companies: WWF (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) | Putin snubs U.N. pleas to set date to ratify Kyoto (China Post) | Chirac presses Putin to ratify Kyoto (AFP) | UN climate official "encouraged" by Russia but regrets lack of signal (AFP) | EU presses Russia to ratify Kyoto protocol (AFP) | Canada stands by Kyoto, Anderson says (Canadian Press)

"Kyoto treaty bedrock of environmental protection efforts" (AFP)

Actually, The Protocol is a crock...

"The burned-dung cloud" - "The atmosphere is threatened by something as vast as an ocean, but so rhetorically inconvenient to so many that for all practical purposes its existence is suppressed. It is the "Atmospheric Brown Cloud," formerly known as the "Asian Brown Cloud." The United Nations officially changed the name after Asian nations complained that they were being stigmatized.

It's a vast cloud of soot, produced mainly by burning various things -- wood, soft coal, dung, among them -- for energy. It's the residue, to large extent, of hundreds of millions of impoverished Asians' cooking fires, as well as of very inefficient coal furnaces used by individuals and businesses." (The Providence Journal)

"Global Warming: U.S. Agriculture, Food Supply Face Major Dangers and Some Opportunities say U.S. Experts" - "Falling crop production resulting from extreme weather events, diseases and pest infestations increasingly will be fueled by global warming and create an uncertain future for U.S. agricultural production and the nation's food supplies, according to leading experts gathered here today at a Harvard Medical School Center for Health and the Global Environment briefing, made possible by the Civil Society Institute, the Energy Foundation and the National Environmental Trust. A news media event was followed by a congressional staff briefing sponsored by Sen. Harkin (D-IA), Sen. Brownback (R-KS), Sen. Bill Nelson (D-NE) and Sen. Lugar (R-IN)." (SRI Media)

"Planet could change if greenhouse gases are left unchecked, Annan warns" - "29 September – If the ever-increasing emission of greenhouse remains unchecked, the planet as we know it today could look very different by the end of this century, with many small islands gone and ecological life-support systems under stress as never before, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned today." (UN News)

"Mystery as Tasman Sea gets warmer" - "The Tasman Sea has been getting warmer and scientists do not know why. Average water temperatures increased by 1.2 degrees celsius between 1996 and 2001, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research says. The temperature rise was not caused by global warming, marine physicist Phil Sutton said. Nor did it result from warmer water originating from the Tasman's predominant east Australian current." (The Dominion Post)

"Taking the Oceans' Pulse, With Help From Robot Subs" - "Oceanographers can talk about the ocean like the climate, describing the arc of major currents and how phenomena like the warm waters of El Niño in the eastern Pacific evolve over months.

What they cannot do is talk about ocean like the weather, forecasting whether eddies in the currents will flow north or south today or when an upwelling of cold water from the depths will appear off the coast.

"The weather community is 20, 30 years ahead of us," said Dr. James G. Bellingham, director of engineering at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, Calif. "And it's a harder problem in the ocean."

Now, the rise of robotic submarines may help scientists open up some of those mysteries. By spending hours or weeks in the depths of the ocean, these subs are able to gather data of importance to studies as diverse as the health of fisheries and global warming." (New York Times)

"Offshore Wind Power Plans Blow Rift Through Cape Cod" - "When it comes time "to step up and support a possible wind generation complex, the self-avowed environmentalists who proclaim wind and other renewables as a panacea take a NIMBY and even BANANA" approach, says Melanie Lyons, a spokeswoman for the Nuclear Energy Institute. BANANA means "build absolutely nothing anywhere at any time." (Newhouse News Service)

"Town in La Mancha Battles Against Windmills" - "LUZAGA, Spain - Four centuries on, a new kind of windmill dotting the countryside of Spain's La Mancha region has led the people of this small town to take up Don Quixote's battle against the giants." (Reuters)

"Britain Set To Seal Future of GM in Europe" - "LONDON, Sep 29 The future of GM crops in Europe has been in the balance for some time, but that balance is now tilted more in favour of the anti-GM lobby following the results of a government-sponsored consultation process last week." (IPS)

"GM rice: A growing Philippines debate" - "Against the stunning backdrop of the Makiling volcano, pioneering scientists are working on new varieties of rice." (BBC News Online)

September 29, 2003

"Antibiotics may be useless in a decade" - "ANTIBIOTICS could be rendered useless in little over a decade because over-prescription is leading to increased resistance from disease, a leading expert has warned. Prof Hugh McGavock, a specialist in prescribing science, has claimed that an antibiotic crisis could lead to thousands of people dying from previously treatable illnesses by 2015. He said bacteria resistance to antibiotics is not just due to doctors prescribing them unnecessarily but also due to the use of antibiotics in the farming industry over the past 50 years." (The Scotsman)

On the latest from Misanthropy Inc.: "Alarm at plan to halve UK population" - "A group of prominent academics is behind controversial proposals to halve the number of people living in the UK over the next century, to help solve the environmental threat posed by the growth in the world's population.

The Optimum Population Trust, made up of senior figures from academia, the media and the environmental movement, was criticised last week for suggesting that one method of reducing population levels would be drastically to cut immigration." (The Observer)

"Longer-lasting anti-mosquito bednets in Africa could save millions of lives – UN" - "26 September – Two United Nations agencies today announced an international partnership that enables African countries to manufacture innovative anti-mosquito bednets that have the potential to save millions of lives on the continent where 90 per cent of the world’s deaths from malaria occur." (UN News)

Yeah... so can judicious use of DDT.

PC reversal du jour: "Study Finds Net Gain From Pollution Rules: OMB Overturns Past Findings on Benefits" - "A new White House study concludes that environmental regulations are well worth the costs they impose on industry and consumers, resulting in significant public health improvements and other benefits to society. The findings overturn a previous report that officials now say was defective." (Washington Post)

"Suncream is 'no protection against cancer'" - "Sunbathers who smother their bodies in lotions to block out harmful rays are not being protected against skin cancer and premature ageing, a new study has found.

Research published tomorrow will show that sunscreens, even when they are high factor and applied in the proper amounts, do not prevent dangerous changes in the skin's make-up which can promote the growth of cancer.

Although the lotions prevent burning they are less effective at blocking out UVA rays, which are believed to cause melanoma, the most dangerous skin cancer. Scientists are expected to warn this week that people must not be led by a false sense of security into staying longer in the sun because they are covered with high-factor lotions." (The Observer)

But, according to the EPA's Ozone Depletion Glossary: UVA: a band of ultraviolet radiation with wavelengths from 320-400 nanometers produced by the Sun

UVA is not absorbed by ozone. This band of radiation has wavelengths just shorter than visible violet light. NASA provides more information on their web site

So, there we have it, melanoma rates (and, by extension, most skin cancer mortalities) are not thought to have anything to do with alleged ozone depletion. Sure highlights the absurdity of past EPA claims regarding the supposed multi-trillion-dollar benefits of the Montreal Protocol due to saving all those lives from ozone depletion-induced melanomas. Nothing unusual of course, about the only thing the EPA is known to save the population from is fatter wallets.

"Climate wrangling moves to Moscow" - "Around 1,200 experts, officials and politicians from more than 40 countries are gathering in Moscow for the first World Climate Change Conference since the issue came to international attention in the late 1980s." (BBC News Online)

"Scant Sign of Kyoto Breakthrough at Moscow Talks" - "MOSCOW - There were scant signs Moscow would save the Kyoto protocol on curbing global warming as it prepared to host a climate conference from today." (Reuters)

"Russia Needs Cash Guarantee to Approve Kyoto - Source" - "MOSCOW - Russia will not approve the Kyoto Protocol - a step necessary to bring the environmental pact into force worldwide - until it receives guarantees of how it will benefit, a high-ranking Kremlin source said last week. Activists have watched the Kremlin for signs it would direct parliament to approve the pact, which aims to cut emissions of gases that cause global warming, before an ecological conference opens in Moscow on Monday. But the source dashed such hopes." (Reuters)

"Premiums up? Blame global warming" - "At this week's launch of a major report scrutinising the impact of corporate sustainability on a company's earnings IAG chief executive Michael Hawker set out in no uncertain terms how small changes in the weather directly affect the cost of insurance premiums.

Over the past 140 years, the cost and frequency of insurance claims have been steadily rising in line with global temperatures, Mr Hawker said. A 1 to 2.2 degrees celsius rise in temperatures can have a significant impact on the ferocity of natural disasters." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Nonsense! Far from increasing weather severity, this is simply an artefact of placing higher value assets in harm's way. The flood plains, on which people now build, exist because of future global warming? Right...

"Isabel may be gone, but need for caution lingers, scientists say" - "While coastal residents from Maryland to the Carolinas pick up the wreckage from Isabel, meteorologists are warning East Coast communities to prepare for busier hurricane seasons for the next 10 to 40 years.

Higher sea surface temperatures and favorable wind conditions in the Atlantic since 1995 have more than doubled the number of major storms roaring out of the tropics each year. Those affecting the Caribbean have quintupled, and the rare ones that strike in October or later have jumped tenfold.

"If you look back at the 1950s ... it was year after year of these major hurricanes ramming into the East Coast. And we would not be shocked to see that take place again," said Stanley B. Goldenberg, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's hurricane research division.

Population increases and intense coastal development since the 1960s are likely to produce a correspondingly higher toll in lives and dollars, he said.

Goldenberg was the lead author of a 2001 paper in the journal Science that first noted the return of higher hurricane activity in the Atlantic. The pattern, which began in 1995, is striking - and it has persisted.

"You have to be deliberately blind not to see that something is going on here," he said.

This is not the result of global warming. There is evidence that these long-term hurricane cycles - which can last up to 40 years from peak to peak - stretch at least to the 1600s, Goldenberg said." (The Baltimore Sun)

Just a note on the validity of Russia's alleged warming trend:  "Weatherman Warms to Climate Change" - "In the 1990s meteorologists faced funding cutbacks, which led to the shutdown of around one-sixth of Russian meteorological stations. Today, Bedritsky says the country has approximately 1,800 stations left, and two satellites operating for meteorological purposes.

"We used to get full funding from the state budget in Soviet times, and also some additional resources for research and development," he said. "Nowadays, the budget covers only 60 percent to 65 percent of our expenses." Paid-for forecasts for governmental organizations and companies working in aviation, shipping and agriculture covered the gap, he said.

Bedritsky admitted that the downsizing had taken its toll on weather forecasts, saying that over the past decade many weather hazards caught the meteorologists by surprise.

"In the early 1990s about 5 percent of hazardous weather phenomena weren't forecasted, and in the mid-1990s the figure reached 20 percent," he said. But he added the situation was improving, and that unforeseen weather hazards had been cut to 13 percent by 2002." (The Moscow Times)

Hmm... a meteorological service covering a very significant portion of Earth's land surface and less than two-thirds funded.

"Global warming a ‘weapon of mass destruction’" - "The government’s efforts to cut the pollution that causes climate change have been condemned as “timid” and “glacial” by a leading figure in the British building industry.

Terry Wyatt, president of the Chartered Institute for Building Services, has issued a dire and eloquent warning about the failure of ministers to tackle the worsening climate crisis. “The storm is coming and we’d better be ready for it,” he said.

“Politicians and the public seem to be in denial, enjoying the calm before the storm. They are simply not facing up to the changes we will have to make in the way we organise our economies.” (Sunday Herald)

"Climate change will kill off Scots skiing" - "Rising temperatures are driving a once-thriving Scottish industry to the wall" (Sunday Herald)

"Why the lights go out: free-market frugality, freakish weather, no standby power" - "Deregulation and global warming are among the reasons why recently blackouts have occurred from California to Kent, and now in Italy." (The Guardian)

"US companies face mounting bio-tech battle" - "NEW YORK - US biotech companies and critics of the genetically modified seeds they make are stepping up their battle over accusations that the firms used price-fixing.

Both sides have claimed victory after a district court judge, Rodney Sippel, ruled on September 19 to authorize an anti-trust case against Monsanto Co., Aventis CropScience, Bayer CropScience, Syngenta AG and DuPont Co. unit Pioneer Hi-Bred." (AFP)

"Seeds of dissent: Anti-biotech effort takes root" - "UKIAH -- A campaign to make Mendocino County the first in the United States to ban genetically modified crops is brewing inside a century-old building in downtown Ukiah.

There, at the nation's only certified organic brew pub, owners Allen and Els Cooperrider are collecting signatures for an initiative they hope will resonate in a region best known for artisans, aging hippies and alternative farmers.

Their goals are both local and global -- preventing genetic contamination of Mendocino County's robust organic produce industry and defying the seemingly unstoppable worldwide spread of genetically engineered crops." (The Sacramento Bee)

"BRAZIL : GM Soya Illegal, but Government Approved" - "RIO DE JANEIRO, Sep 26 Genetically modified soya is gaining ground in Brazil through an illegal channel that has now been given the green light by the government itself." (IPS)

"Hard Realities: Brazil Drops Resistance to Genetically Altered Crops" - "RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept. 27 — In barely 36 hours, Brazil's left-leaning government first announced that it would allow farmers to plant genetically altered soybean seeds, then reversed course, before changing yet again, late on Thursday.

The result is that Brazil, a bastion of global opposition to genetically modified organisms, has given in.

From the time President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva founded the Workers' Party more than 20 years ago, environmentalists have been an important constituency and their programs part of the party's platform.

Those commitments, though, have had to give way to the hard realities of politics and to Brazil's drive to increase exports. The country wants to become an agricultural superpower." (New York Times)

"GM crops could be new 'green' fuel" - "Biotechnology firms are pressing to be allowed to grow GM crops across more than a million acres of Britain to provide "green'' fuel for cars, as ministers become increasingly wary about licensing them for food, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.

GM wheat, sugar beet and oilseed rape could be converted into substitutes for petrol and diesel. The plan is being pitched as an environmentally friendly move that will help the battle against global warming. But environmentalists say it will avoid few of the main hazards associated with the technology." (Independent on Sunday)

"[UK] Genetically modified fudge" - "Faced by public fears, the government hopes it can dodge the GM issue" (The Guardian)

"Pull together ... protesters vow to root out GM crops" - "Professors, clergymen, politicians and professionals have signed a pledge to pull up any genetically modified crops that may be grown commercially in Britain, according to a new national group that is hoping to get 10,000 people to register their strong disapproval to the government. Buoyed by the 5 to 1 public rejection of the crops recorded in this week's national debate results, Oxford-based group Greengloves said it was hoping to get people to pledge to non-violently pull up the crops or to financially support others who do." (The Guardian)

"Top GM food company abandons British crop trials" - "A key GM crop developer, Bayer, has decided to halt UK trials of genetically modified plants. The move is seen as a major blow to the industry. Bayer was the last company carrying out GM trials in the UK, though it said yesterday it hoped to start up again soon when conditions were 'more favourable'.

The company blamed Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett for its decision. Her insistence that the locations of all trial sites be made public had forced its hand, a spokesman told The Observer.

Until last week, Bayer CropScience, Bayer's crop subsidiary. believed it was close to a deal that would allow GM crop test sites - which are regularly destroyed by protesters - to be kept secret. Instead of having to publish exact map references for fields, companies would only have to name the county in which it was holding a trial." (The Observer)

September 26, 2003

"Prohibitionists Write Federal Alcohol Report" - "A federal panel on underage drinking recently called for higher taxes on alcoholic beverages to reduce alcohol consumption by minors. While this recommendation may seem reasonable at first glance, it’s unlikely to work. Moreover, it’s part of an ongoing effort by neo-prohibitionists to reduce alcohol consumption in general." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Have parents behaved irrationally towards MMR?" - "Parents seem to neglect a real risk to their children (injuries from road crashes) but amplify an insignificant risk (autism caused by MMR vaccine), argues a senior researcher in this week's BMJ. But does this suggest that parents are irrational?" (BMJ-British Medical Journal)

"Gulf Vets Needn't Fear Lou Gehrig's Disease" - "For a decade, activists and the media have claimed to have found the smoking gun of so-called "Gulf War Syndrome" – scientific evidence that it really exists. And for just as long those guns have fired blanks. That noise you just heard about Gulf vets having higher rates of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called Lou Gehrig's disease? Yup, blanks again." (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

"Australia tackles ageing with health foods" - "25/09/03 - A new research programme, to improve the preventative healthcare offered to Australians, will see developments in new health foods and dietary plans.

The programme will develop new foods and diets which combat disease and promote well-being and also use genes and proteins to predict and prevent ill-health." (NutraIngredients.com)

Yeah, sure... but wait, there's more:

"Cancer causes evade nutritionists" - "25/09/03 - Eating a diet rich in vegetables, oils, poultry and fish is inversely associated with colon cancer in women, while a dietary pattern including processed meat and potatoes raises this risk, finds a European study, revealing the difficulty in assessing the role of diet in one of Europe's leading causes of premature death." (NutraIngredients.com)

No problem, just ask Aussie's CSIRO, they're going to do it by health minister's edict, apparently.

"New findings in yeast may reveal why growing older is the greatest carcinogen in humans" - "Scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research center have made a landmark discovery in yeast that may hold the key to revealing why growing older is the greatest cancer-risk factor in humans." (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center)

"Local Transmission of Plasmodium vivax Malaria -- Palm Beach County, Florida, 2003" - "The majority of malaria cases diagnosed in the United States are imported, usually by persons who travel to countries where malaria is endemic (1). However, small outbreaks of locally acquired mosquito-transmitted malaria continue to occur (2). Despite certification of malaria eradication in the United States in 1970 (3,4), 11 outbreaks involving 20 cases of probable locally acquired mosquito-transmitted malaria have been reported to CDC since 1992 (5--7), including two reported in July 1996 from Palm Beach County, Florida (Palm Beach County Health Department, unpublished data, 1998). This report describes the investigation of seven cases of locally acquired Plasmodium vivax malaria that occurred in Palm Beach County during July--August 2003. In addition to considering malaria in the differential diagnosis for febrile patients with a history of travel to malarious areas, health-care providers also should consider malaria as a possible cause of fever among patients who have not traveled but are experiencing alternating fevers, rigors, and sweats with no obvious cause." (MMWR)

Oh well, if malaria becomes re-established in North America at least India and China retain viable DDT production facilities, they'll probably be willing to work a deal.

"Are Small Particles Such a Big Problem?" - "According to the Environmental Protection Agency, small particles in the air pose the greatest threat that it or any other regulatory agency is currently addressing. A host of major rules currently control this pollutant and many more are in the works. The claimed benefits of these measures outweigh virtually all other benefits of the regulatory state combined. Nonetheless, the evidence strongly suggests that the problem posed by these particles has been greatly overstated." (Ben Lieberman, TCS)

From the virtual world: "Dust might drop: Model forecasts health benefits and global warming risk" - "The world could be a lot less dusty in the future, predicts a new model. This would bring health benefits for some but might also exacerbate global warming.

The model is based on how much of the Earth's surface is covered by deserts, how much wind is around to pick up dust, and rainfall. Natalie Mahowald and Chao Luo of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, who developed the model, used six different scenarios for future climate, vegetation cover and land use to come up with their estimates." (NSU)

"Northern climate, ecosystems driven by cycles of changing sunlight" - "Emerging geochemical and biological evidence from Alaskan lake sediment suggests that slight variations in the sun's intensity have affected sub-polar climate and ecosystems in a predictable fashion during the last 12,000 years." (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Climate warning du jour: "Weather changes: so should the forecasts of doom" - "I must issue an urgent climate change warning. This week Boscombe Down in Wiltshire suffered its coldest September night, at -1C, since 1931. This is serious, chilling even. We are plunging precipitously towards the next Ice Age and the Government must act now. Not to do so would be a mammoth mistake. We need more carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere as quickly as possible. Just think what will happen to all our wildlife, frozen in its burrows or fossilised in ice blocks along with our orc-like wind farms. And the poor purple emperor butterfly will have to go and live in Italy under S. Berlusconi. Cold comfort for us all." (Philip Stott, The Times) [Subscription required outside UK]

"Conference puts Russia`s Kyoto stance in spotlight" - "Russia's Arctic metals town of Norilsk is an ecological disaster, but its filth will be of minor concern to a Moscow conference on global warming where many delegates will urge Russia to back the Kyoto Protocol. Scientists at the international conference opening next Monday will focus on the treaty, which aims to cut emissions of the gases that cause global warming, primarily carbon dioxide. Some of the 250,000 residents of Norilsk, where plants cannot live in air so foul it sticks to the back of the throat, think Russia should use the conference to mark a final break from Soviet disdain for the environment.

Aleko Gabuchiya, deputy director of a giant Norilsk copper plant, said he thought Russian adoption of Kyoto was inevitable. "If the world is changing, then Russia has to change with it, and we as one of the world's biggest metals companies...must also change," he said. Enviromentalists' attention will focus on the Kremlin, and whether it will finally ask Russia's normally docile parliament to approve the pact and bring it into force worldwide." (Gateway to Russia)

"No timetable for Russian Kyoto approval-minister" - "Russia needs time to consider the Kyoto Protocol and has no schedule to approve it, Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Gordeyev said on Thursday, ensuring the environmental pact will not come into force for some time. But he repeated Moscow's support in principle for the landmark treaty, which aims to cut emissions of the gases that cause global warming." (Gateway to Russia)

"Divided EU to Debate Ways to Grow GMO Crops" - "BRUSSELS - EU agriculture ministers will lay bare their divisions over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) next week when they discuss guidelines on growing biotech crops in Europe's fields, officials said yesterday.

Austria and Luxembourg are pressing for tough EU legislation in a "one size fits all" approach, to limit the spread of GMOs from biotech crops to organic and conventional varieties." (Reuters)

"Brazil agrees to grow GM crops" - "Brazil, the last big country to resist GM crops, dashed the hopes of environmentalists yesterday and gave in to pressure from the US and its own big farmers to allow them to be grown for at least a year. After a day of protests, Greenpeace Brazil, the Brazilian Green party and non-governmental groups announced that they would seek to get the decision overturned in the courts." (The Guardian)

"[New Zealand] Scientist says new evidence supports GM ban" - "Scientists opposed to genetic modification say new evidence on contamination should make the Government rethink its decision to lift the ban on releasing genetically modified organisms next month. Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Genetics yesterday published a 14-page paper by Auckland University physicist Dr Peter Wills." (New Zealand Herald)

"[UK] Biotechs dismiss GM poll on 0.1% turn-out" - "THE apparent thumbs-down to commercial production of genetically modified crops, given in a report published this week, has to be qualified by the number of people who took part in the consultation, according to the biotech industry.

Although the results were seized on by the anti-GM lobby, including organic farmers and environmental groups, as clear evidence the government should reject GM technology, a majority of farmers say the results of farm-scale trials due next month must also be taken into account.

At the same time the European Commission ruling that "no form of agriculture - conventional, organic or GM - should be excluded from the EU" will be debated by farm ministers next week, following increasing pressure from the United States to accept the technology." (The Scotsman)

September 25, 2003

"Toxic Flame Retardant Found in Breast Milk" - "WASHINGTON - Several American mothers nursing their infants had high levels of potentially toxic flame retardant chemicals in their breastmilk, a U.S. environmental group said.

While the study by the Environmental Working Group was small and did not show any health effects in the babies, the group said it showed just how widespread the chemicals are.

The chemicals are bromine-based fire retardants and are used in a wide range of products including furniture, computers, television sets, automobiles, copy machines and hair dryers to make them less likely to catch fire. They can build up in the body over years." (Reuters)

Potentially toxic? All foods are 'potentially toxic,' so is water and virtually everything else you can think of - in sufficient dosage. So what are we to make of this? None of the babies in EWG's 'study' exhibited spontaneous human combustion (SHC) therefore traces of brominated fire retardants in breast milk makes baby SHC-resistant? Great! I'm all for not having people's little bundles of joy suddenly burst into flame.

"EC 'caved in to chemicals lobby'" - "Environmentalists accused the European commission of caving in to corporate and government lobbying from Britain and elsewhere yesterday after it emerged that EU legislation on the safety of industrial chemicals has been drastically watered down.

The legislation - which has already incurred the wrath of the British government and chemicals industry - is aimed at instigating a decade-long mandatory testing programme that would see thousands of chemicals found in everyday products tested to ensure they are safe for human health and the environment.

The cost of testing would be borne by the industry itself, which has claimed the law is unworkable and could result in up to 2m European job losses and see thousands of UK jobs exported to the Far East." (The Guardian)

"Green Groups Fear Environmental Review Changes" - "WASHINGTON - Green groups yesterday slammed recommendations from a Bush administration task force on ways to streamline federal environmental reviews, arguing that the public would be shut out of the process in key government agency decisions." (Reuters)

"Eco-worshippers? Church, state and nature's cathedrals" - "Being pro-environment, kind of like being pro-family, is a good way to score political points. Who can possibly be against environmental protection? Everyone wants to breathe clean air and drink clean water, and few of us would like to see every acre of wilderness paved over to make way for shopping malls and condominiums. The Republicans are perpetually vulnerable to charges of being anti-environment when they propose, for instance, to open a part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas drilling.

But is some environmentalism a radical ideology or even a form of religious fundamentalism in moderate clothing? This is a charge made by writer and journalist Robert Bidinotto on his new website with the provocative title ecoNOT.com and the equally provocative slogan "Individualism—not environmentalism." Explains Bidinotto, "Most people think of themselves as 'environmentalists.' But by that term, they mean something far different—and far more innocent—than do the most prominent philosophers, founders, and leaders of the modern environmentalist movement." (Cathy Young, Reason)

"Italy Portends the Population Implosion" - "ROME – To visit Italy is to be surrounded by some of the friendliest, most charming and most attractive people on earth. No, despite what you've heard, even Mussolini couldn't get the trains to run on time, but you soon adapt. The real problem is that Italians are starting to disappear." (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

"Oceans becoming more acidic" - "The world's oceans are slowly getting more acidic, say scientists. The researchers from California say the change is taking place in response to higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The lowering of the waters' pH value is not great at the moment but could pose a serious threat to current marine life if it continues, they warn." (BBC News Online) | Alarm over acidifying oceans (New Scientist)

"Climate Change -- A Major Business Opportunity" - "Climate change may seem to us a remote problem -- and the most tangible consequences could be up to 50 years away. However, there is a direct relationship between our day-to-day activities and this problem. The challenge is to adopt a rational approach.

Whilst we need to be concerned, we can find reassurance in the knowledge that there is a relatively straightforward answer to this problem. To stabilize the atmosphere and stop climate change, emissions of greenhouse gases -- particularly CO2 -- must be reduced. To reduce CO2 emissions there must be a shift towards a ‘low carbon economy’." (Tom Delay, GreenBiz.com) [Tom Delay is chief executive of the Carbon Trust]

"Thinning Ice" - "There has been no end of scholarly studies confirming the gradual rise in global temperatures over the past century. Yet nothing focuses the mind on global warming and its potential consequences quite so sharply as the occasional news flash from some remote corner of the globe documenting startling changes in landscapes once thought to be immutable." (New York Times editorial)

"Global warming means Russian winter isn't what it used to be: expert" - "MOSCOW Sep 24, 2003--Russia's top weather expert Wednesday confirmed what many Muscovites have felt in their bones for several years already: the Russian winter isn't what it used to be. "It's become warmer in Moscow over the past 30 years," the head of the Russian Weather Centre Alexander Bedritsky said. Three decades ago the mean winter air temperature in Moscow was minus 10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit), but this has now risen to an average of minus eight degrees (18 degrees Fahrenheit), Bedritsky said, as quoted by the ITAR-TASS news agency." (AFP)

"A Mayor Mistake" - " Editor's note: After Newton, Mass., Mayor David Cohen and Worcester, Mass., Mayor Timothy P. Murray published an op-ed in the Sept. 1 Boston Globe calling upon the Bay State to put in place a climate action plan to combat global warming, Mayor Cohen received the following letter from a resident of his community. " (Dr. Richard Lindzen, TCS)

New Scientist gets it right, again! "Special report on hurricanes" - "Last week, Isabel became the latest hurricane to strike the US, fueling predictions that hurricanes are on the increase. But a new analysis confirms there is no such trend. Historical records such as newspaper reports, diaries and shipping logs have been used to provide invaluable new data on the location, time and wind speed of past hurricanes. The database also reveals that certain states which have so far seen no storms are still at risk." (New Scientist)

"A Bug's Death" - "LONDON — Should we send the malaria mosquito the way of the dodo?

So far, genetic modification has been a tool of creation. We've made crops that grow faster or that are resistant to pests, we've made animals that produce useful hormones in their milk, we've even — presto! — made white rabbits that glow green under black light. But now another, more radical use for genetic modification is in the offing: the engineering of extinction." (New York Times)

"Brazilian farmers about to plant legal GM soy" - "SAO PAULO, Brazil - Farmers in Brazil will soon plant genetically modified soybeans legally, Vice President Jose Alencar said yesterday, adding that he would sign a decree authorizing GM soy while temporarily acting as president.

Until recently, Brazil has been one of the world's last major agricultural exporters to ban GM crops, although soy farmers have ignored the ban and smuggled in illegal transgenic soy seeds from Argentina for years." (Reuters) | Brazil to Lift Ban on Crops With Genetic Modification (New York Times)

"GM technology: As risky as life itself" - "Remember the monarch butterfly? You will if you worry about genetically modified (GM) crops. In 1999, US scientists said GM pollen was fatal to monarch caterpillars. It can be - but the story is a little more complex than that. And so the monarch has become a telling symbol of the need to think through our fears of GM technology before we condemn it altogether. Having thought them through, we may still decide against it, judging it an answer looking for a non-existent problem - and a risky answer at that. But those who say it deserves a hearing do themselves deserve a hearing, at least." (Alex Kirby, BBC News Online)

"British Public Says 'No' to GMO Crops" - "LONDON - A six-week national debate over genetically modified (GMO) crops and food has found that British people are still highly skeptical of the controversial technology and mistrust the government and the industry that has to power to introduce it.

This was the overwhelming conclusion from a report on this year's government-sponsored national dialogue, GM Nation? published Wednesday." (Reuters) | 5 to 1 against GM crops in biggest ever public survey (The Guardian)

"'GM Nation?… maybe. A public debate?… unfortunately not', says CropGen" - "London, 24th September 2003 - Like many scientists and farmers across the country, CropGen welcomed the Government's decision to initiate a public debate about GM technology and the commercial growing of GM crops in this country. The results, however, published today in the GM Nation? The Public Debate report, are rather disappointing, explained Professor Vivian Moses, Chairman of the CropGen panel of scientists:

"We had hoped that the debates might be an effective way of involving the wider public both in the science and in the other issues surrounding the new technology", he said. "Like other scientists, we saw them as part of our civic responsibility and as opportunities for people to participate, express their own views, hear those of others and so help them to a deeper understanding of the reasons behind decisions to come and the implications which will follow from them".

"Most would agree that this is a complex area and that it takes time and study to get to grips with the facts surrounding the many issues involved. Sadly, we found that the level of debate was confined to the information in the briefing material. For the most part it simply rehearsed the soundbites with which we are all now familiar; in-depth discussion of the evidence was missing." (CropGen.org)

"Brain drain threatens GM crop research" - "Public antipathy towards genetically modified crops is driving Britain's leading plant scientists to seek greener pastures abroad." (The Guardian)

September 24, 2003

"'Lay Values'?" - "The European Commission is introducing new precautionary procedures for all chemicals produced in volumes greater than one ton per year. The new regulations are known as REACH, which stands for the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of CHemicals. They propose a schedule lasting until 2012 to complete tests on all existing, unregistered substances." (Bill Durodié, TCS)

"Indoor air pollution presents high health risk to European citizens, claim studies" - "The results of two Joint Research Centre (JRC) studies have revealed a much higher health risk linked to indoor air pollution than previously thought.

The EXPOLIS and Macbeth projects examined the results from a recent measuring campaign in European cities, which compared the indoor concentrations of dangerous air pollutants to outdoor polluting components in a number of European cities. The results reveal very high levels of pollutants such as tobacco smoke, asbestos, and radon in people's houses, and in the case of benzene, overall exposure is found to be twice that of urban pollution levels." (Cordis News)

"Child cancers 'have common cause'" - "A common infection could cause brain and lymphatic cancers in children, researchers have suggested. They say that is the most likely explanation for the clustering of cases that they have seen. The finding means doctors will be able to now investigate common origins of the different cancers in children." (BBC News Online)

"Environment activist: violence increasing" - "LOS ANGELES, Sept. 23 -- A new report claims environmental activists are increasingly turning to acts of violence to make their point." (UPI)

"Extremist groups' actions put lives at stake" - "The madness of the Earth Liberation Front is nothing new in the annals of human fanaticism. In the shadow of every cause, there is a lurking fanatic who would destroy all else in the name of that cause. It has been a scourge of the civilized world through the ages.

The particularly frightening thing about fanaticism is that it's chronic and progressive. One car bomb or witch burning leads to another. And the fanatic will never try to do less the next time, only more.

So, while the Earth Liberation Front may be only a loosely knit band of anarchists, each member acting on the authority yammering inside his head, the actions of these fanatics are troubling because each attack can give rise to another. And the fanatics will be driven to make bolder statements each time." (Union Tribune)

"ENVIRONMENT : U.N. Minimising Tropical Deforestation - Report" - "tropical deforestation is much worse than the most recent surveys from the United Nations show." (IPS)

"Europe had hottest summer for at least 500 years: Swiss researchers" - "GENEVA - Europe this year experienced its hottest summer for at least 500 years, providing further evidence of man-made global warming, Swiss university researchers said.

During the crushing heat wave between June and August this year, which triggered several thousand more deaths than usual, average temperatures eclipsed the previous record set in 1757, according to a study by the University of Bern's geography department." (AFP)

Previous record set in 1757? So, how come the allegedly "hottest decade in the hottest century of the last millennium" didn't manage to pip pre-Industrial Revolution records? Current near-surface temperature measures are heavily corrupted by urbanisation, which makes the question of whether this has really been the hottest Europe for 500 years something of a moot point - regardless, why was the period once known as the Medieval Climate Optimum (MCO, ~950AD - ~1350AD) but now more commonly called the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), so warm? And, if the once-considered optimal warm period was natural (haven't seen anything about it being allegedly anthropogenic), what makes one warm summer "evidence of man-made global warming"?

From CO2 Science Magazine:

"Cosmic Rays vs. CO 2 : The Battle for Climate Change Primacy" - "As science progresses and ever more is learned about our place in the universe, the IPCC's myopic and anthropogenic-centered view of the role of atmospheric CO 2 in potential climate change looks ever more untenable." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Little Ice Age (Europe)" - "The Little Ice Age in Europe is evident in paleoclimatic records from all parts of the continent, just as the Little Ice Age in the rest of the world is evident in paleoclimatic records from all of the other continents." (co2science.org)

"Biospheric Productivity (Terrestrial - Regional: Eurasia)" - "How does earth's terrestrial vegetation respond to concomitant increases in atmospheric temperature and CO 2 concentration?  Historical data from Eurasia suggest it does quite well, growing ever better as both parameters have risen to ever higher levels." (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: Red Oat, Rice, Tomato and Wheat. (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"Century-Scale Variability of Holocene Climate in the Gulf of Mexico" - "Why do we care about it?  We care, because it is important to know the nature and understand the causes of past climate changes in order to properly identify the nature and causes of current climate trends.  Indeed, a knowledge of climate history is of vast importance, for the history of things climatic repeats itself with a fidelity far greater than that of human history." (co2science.org)

"ENSO Activity Over the Past Millennium" - "A new fossil-coral-based study from the tropical Pacific raises serious questions about the climate-alarmist claim that global warming will intensify both the strength and frequency of El Niño activity." (co2science.org)

"Woody Plants on the Move: A Biological Brake on Global Warming" - "Earth's biosphere exerts a significant influence on the planet's climate, helping to maintain surface air temperatures within hot and cold bounds that are conducive to its continued existence via a suite of negative biophysical feedback phenomena.  The research described in this Journal Review highlights one aspect of one of those processes." (co2science.org)

"Coral Bleaching Caused by Cold Temperatures" - "How does it differ from bleaching caused by warm temperatures?  Apparently, very little." (co2science.org)

"First Detection of Human Enteric Viruses in Coral Reefs" - "As man has made his planetary presence ever more prominent over the past few centuries, he has concomitantly increased the background stress level of earth's coral reefs, making them more susceptible to bleaching in response to a variety of natural phenomena that in earlier centuries were not as threatening to them." (co2science.org)

"Ozone Depletion’s Lessons for Global Warming" - "Depletion of the Earth’s ozone layer is slowing, according to a study scheduled for publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

At a press conference, the scientists who conducted the study hailed their findings as evidence the 1987 Montreal Protocol, the international treaty banning ozone-destroying chemicals, is successfully addressing the threat. “This is proof that the treaty is working,” said lead scientist Michael Newchurch.

Others have trumpeted the findings as evidence the Kyoto Protocol, a similarly designed treaty targeting carbon dioxide and other global warming gases, could be equally successful. “The Kyoto Protocol could work as powerfully as the Montreal treaty,” said Nobel-laureate Sherwood Rowland, who coauthored the ozone depletion hypothesis in 1974.

Stratospheric ozone depletion and the Montreal Protocol do in fact offer lessons that apply to global warming and the Kyoto Protocol ... but those lessons differ from what Newchurch, Rowland, and others have drawn." (Ben Lieberman, Environment News)

"[Ireland] State agency’s alternative to carbon tax" - "INDUSTRY commitments to reduce carbon emissions in return for tax relief could be more effective than levying a carbon tax, according to the State agency which advises on environmentally-friendly energy policies." (Irish Examiner)

"British wind projects seen as too risky" - "British wind power projects are an "excessive risk" and will not get financing unless there are greater incentives, a banker with expertise in the sector warned the government yesterday. Fabrizio Donini, head of energy at Dexia Credit Local, said the Department of Trade and Industry needed to make radical changes if official targets for reducing greenhouse gases were to be achieved. A regime of renewable obligations was needed after the targets expire in 2010, and a shake-up of the new electricity trading arrangements, which made it hard to sell interruptible energy supplies." (The Guardian)

"Ottawa gives extra cash to AECL" - "OTTAWA -- Ottawa has doled out an extra $46-million this year to Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. to help shore up development of new nuclear reactor technology -- cash that's on top of the more than $100-million in annual federal subsidies the Crown corporation already receives.

Critics assailed the government assistance to AECL as wasteful subsidies for a sector that they contend is dying as countries turn to so-called green power instead, from sources such as wind and solar energy.

"[Prime Minister] Jean Chrétien is leaving a legacy for the nuclear industry that's coming at the expense of the Canadian taxpayer," said Shawn-Patrick Stensil with the Sierra Club of Canada. "This is yet again more money being thrown at the nuclear industry when we've already thrown $17.5-billion over the last 50 years . . . and when nuclear power is on the way out."

But federal Natural Resources Minister Herb Dhaliwal defended the additional money for nuclear energy, saying he thinks atomic power will make a comeback as countries try to fight global warming by cutting their output of greenhouse gases emitted by fossil-fuel power plants. (Nuclear power does not emit significant amounts of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.)" (Globe and Mail)

"Organic Hypocrisy" - "Organic farmers' way of using manure — combined with their avoidance of most chemical pesticides and fertilizers — increases risks of E. coli contamination. Yes, non-organic farmers apply far more manure than organic farmers. But the use of animal manure by non-organic farmers is almost entirely on feed/non-food crops (i.e., feed corn, cotton, etc.) where the risks to the consumer from the manure pathogens is zero. (Just try to get E. coli poisoning from a bowlful of milled or processed field corn. People don't eat raw field corn, they eat only the processed and/or baked end product, so the E. coli and other nasty pathogens are long destroyed.)" (Alex Avery, HealthFactsAndFears.com)

"No GM food for thought" - "The recent tirade in parliament by African Christian Democratic Party MP Kent Durr against GM crops and calling on the minister of health to place a moratorium on the consumption of genetically modified (GM) food is the most shocking example of ignorance regarding the most advanced scientific research ever done on food production." (Cape Argus, ZA)

"Judge Allows Antitrust Case Against Seed Producers" - "CHICAGO, Sept. 23 - A federal judge on Friday let proceed an antitrust case that accused the Monsanto Company and other big agricultural seed giants of conspiring to control the world's market in genetically modified crops.

In a 13-page decision, Rodney W. Sippel, a federal district judge in St. Louis, dismissed part of a class-action lawsuit that was filed in 1999 by a group of farmers who said they had suffered huge losses because of global opposition to genetically modified crops.

But Judge Sippel allowed the antitrust portion of the case to proceed, possibly setting the stage for a court battle over whether the world's biggest producers of agricultural seeds got together in the late 1990's to fix prices and control the market for those valuable biotechnology seeds, which are now planted on more than 100 million acres worldwide." (New York Times)

September 23, 2003

"Two studies find Gulf War veterans have increased risk of ALS" - "New research finds that veterans of the 1991 Gulf War have developed ALS at approximately twice the rate of the general population, according to two studies in the September 23 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology. An editorial in the same issue questions the validity of the results." (American Academy of Neurology)

"Arctic's Biggest Ice Shelf, a Sentinel of Climate Change, Cracks Apart" - "The largest ice shelf in the Arctic — an 80-foot-thick slab of ice nearly the size of Lake Tahoe — has broken up, providing more evidence that the Earth's polar regions are responding to ongoing and accelerating rates of climatic change, researchers reported Monday." (Los Angeles Times) | Breakup of Ice Shelf Signals Climate Change, Scientists Say (New York Times) | Largest Arctic ice shelf breaks up, draining freshwater lake (AGU)

Thought to be an indication the Holocene thaw continues and that it is not as cold as the last great glaciation (no, duh!). Note that four-fifths of the Ellesmere northern ice fringe observed early in the 20th Century calved away by the end of the global cooling scare of the 60s and 70s, the recently demised 10% remnant persisted since the mid 80s.

"Deadly European Heat Wave May Repeat" - "PARIS -- It sounds like a freak disaster: a blistering heat wave hits a country known for mild temperatures, killing thousands and prompting a breakdown in one of the world's best health systems.

But experts say the factors behind France's heat wave this summer are common in Europe and North America -- and higher temperatures linked to global warming mean a similar disaster could easily happen again.

"We have to recognize that in the next years and decades, these episodes of heat waves will even be more frequent, sometimes even more severe," said Roberto Bertollini, an environmental health expert with the World Health Organization." (Associated Press)

"Schwarzenegger Says He Will Push Fuel Cell Cars" (Reuters)

That's nothing, with the current state of FC technology, most everyone has to get out and push fuel cell cars.

"Akinyi June Arunga: Smug WTO foes no friends to poor" - "THE TWO WOMEN seated next to me in the cab claimed to be my advocates. But as we traveled toward the World Trade Organization ministerial meeting, in Cancun, I found myself frustrated by their statements and doubtful that the policies they promoted could do anything to solve my people's poverty.

They were scholars from a Canadian university, in Cancun with a women's-rights group to protest the WTO. In the past, I'd felt gratitude toward such people, who invested time, money and energy -- even risking jail, by turning violent -- to fight for the poor of the world, a class to which most of my family and friends belong.

The more I learned about economics and world trade, though, the less I believed these women's rhetoric. Nonetheless, I thought that the cab ride would help me understand why these educated people would so oppose free trade and the economic reforms promoted by the WTO." (The Providence Journal)

September 22, 2003

"Official: Atkins diet can be deadly" - "The first official warning about the dangers of the Atkins diet has been issued by the Government amid concern about the rising number of people opting for the high-fat, high-protein regime.

The Food Standards Agency, which is responsible for all the Government's nutritional guidance, has published a statement alerting the public to the health risks of low-carbohydrate diets, including Atkins, claiming that they are linked to heart disease, cancer and even obesity.

In the past two months senior nutritionists have held talks with the Department of Health about the slimming fad and were asked to investigate the full risks of the diet." (The Observer)

"Hole in ozone layer bigger" - "This year's giant-sized ozone hole has put paid to any hopes of a slowdown in the annual thinning in the ozone layer above Antarctica. The ozone hole that began forming last month is bigger than last year's, reaching 27 million sq km in the second week of this month. But scientists do not yet know whether it will break the record set in 2000, when the hole reached 28 million sq km, four times the size of Australia. Last year's smaller ozone hole of 25 million sq km was due to meteorological conditions and not the result of bans on ozone-depleting chemicals, scientists say." (New Zealand Herald)

"Explorers to Make First Summer Crossing of Arctic Ocean" - "GRAND MARAIS, Minn., Sept. 19 -- In May 2005, the One World Expedition will embark on a four-month unsupported journey across the Arctic Ocean paddling and pulling their kayak through broken sea ice. Seasoned polar explorers Lonnie Dupre and Eric Larsen will travel from Henrietta Island, Siberia to the geographic North Pole, then on to Cape Morris Jessup, the northernmost point of Greenland.

The expedition hopes to highlight the growing crisis of global warming by completing the first ever summer crossing of the Arctic Ocean." (PRNewswire)

"Are We All 'Damn Fools'?" - "The accomplished British humorous songwriters Flanders and Swann (Donald Swann put JRR Tolkien's various Middle Earth songs to music for him) used to disparage the song 'There'll always be an England' by complaining, "There'll always be a North Pole, provided some damn fool doesn't go and melt it."

Yet today it is received wisdom that we are all damn fools, because global warming is causing glaciers to melt all over the world. Most of the attention that has been paid to this phenomenon expresses concern about the effects on sea level. On top of this there is a new concern spreading through the environmentalist community about the long-term effect of glacial melt on sources of drinkable water.

However, a review of the recent scientific evidence on glaciers suggests that, as is so often the case with global warming, much of the concern is overwrought, poorly based or simply alarmist." (Iain Murray, TCS)

"The 'Rights' of Future Generations" - "During the 1990s, "the greenhouse effect" became a sinister phrase. According to radical environmentalists, "excessive" economic growth is pushing up the earth's average temperature. They argue that this will determine a radical change in humanity's current situation. The effects will include desertification, worldwide tropical diseases, the loss of thousands of endangered species, and eventually the collapse of humanity. The normative inference from such a claim is that we should adopt global regulation to inhibit free trade, global population control, and some sort of "sustainable development" (which is, in essence, development without freedom to trade -- that is, no development at all).

In short, radical environmentalists claim that both humans and the environment would be better off if humanity got rid of capitalism. We will not address this claim. Rather, we'll contend that it is possible to define "net social benefits" (or costs) deriving from such "command and control" policies as the Kyoto Protocol." (Carlo Stagnaro and Alberto Mingardi, TCS)

"California Set to Sue EPA on CO2 Emissions, Source Says" - "LOS ANGELES - California's Attorney General Bill Lockyer looks set to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a bid to force the federal government to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, a source close to the case said last week." (Reuters)

"Bush covers up climate research" - "White House officials have undermined their own government scientists' research into climate change to play down the impact of global warming, an investigation by The Observer can reveal.

The disclosure will anger environment campaigners who claim that efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions are being sabotaged because of President George W. Bush's links to the oil industry.

Emails and internal government documents obtained by The Observer show that officials have sought to edit or remove research warning that the problem is serious. They have enlisted the help of conservative lobby groups funded by the oil industry to attack US government scientists if they produce work seen as accepting too readily that pollution is an issue." (The Observer)

The Guardian newspapers are either publishing for and on behalf of the 'peas or they are simply echoing 'peas claims. Last run:

Sept. 9: For the monobrows: "Greenpeace obtains smoking-gun memo: White House/Exxon link" - "Conservative front group may have thanked White House for help in suing EPA" (Greenpeace piece)

"Climate change may bring 'supercanes,' experts say" - "Hurricanes are one of nature's most powerful and frightening storms, but some experts worry that they could become even more fearsome in the decades ahead because of global warming.

The speculation that climate change could create strong hurricanes has even led to new names for these types of storms: supercanes or hypercanes." (Globe and Mail)

"Study: Forestry Waste Could Help Meet Kyoto Targets" - "TORONTO - European countries could help meet their Kyoto emissions requirements by using forestry waste products like left-over tree stumps and foliage to produce energy, scientists said on Sunday.

Stumps, branches, tree tops and other foliage left in forests by logging firms release carbon dioxide over time as they decompose. Using the material as fuel to produce electricity, or processing them into pulp and paper, could cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, the scientists said in a report released before a World Forestry Congress meeting in Quebec City.

"The idea is economically feasible and has a lot of potential," said Pekka Kauppi, a professor of environmental science and policy at the University of Helsinki." (Reuters)

September 19, 2003

"Snack Attack" - "The alleged 'epidemic' of childhood obesity is very difficult to support scientifically; the notion that kids everywhere must give up their cookies and chocolate milk is ridiculous." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"All it takes is one maverick scientist . . ." - "WHEN child mortality was 50 per cent, far too many had far too little to eat; dirt and disease were endemic; families of ten were squeezed into two rooms; whole tenements used one toilet; on farms, cattle had better housing than the workers, and staying alive was the goal and reaching 40 a genuine milestone.

As it still is in some countries. But not here, where we are better fed, have better health, live much longer and, most of us, are much better off than any previous generation.

And are we happy? Do we talk about how good things are, how healthy we are, what a choice of food we have, what a range of activities we can enjoy, what a good time it is to be alive? Ho, ho, my aching ribs." (Fordyce Maxwell, The Scotsman)

A case for DDT: "'Forgotten' Malaria Still Kills Millions" - "Malaria, the ancient mosquito-borne disease that was rolled back by medical advances in the mid-20th century, is making a deadly comeback.

Strains of the disease are becoming increasingly resistant to treatment, infecting and killing more people than ever before -- sickening as many as 900 million last year, according to estimates by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

More than 1 million people -- and as many as 2.7 million by some estimates -- of those victims died. The vast majority of the deaths were in Africa." (AP)

"Amazon rainforest was home to highly elaborate civilisation" - "The Amazon is known today as a rainforest whose natural resources are under threat from human incursion.

But before Europeans arrived in the 15th century it was home to dense populations served by a complex of public plazas, roads and canals.

Researchers from the University of Florida at Gainesville challenge the traditional view that it was a "pristine" habitat containing only small numbers of scattered villages. Michael Heckenberger, an assistant professor at the university's department of anthropology, says the jungle was being tamed and altered by humans well before Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World in 1492." (Independent) | Amazon was settled before Columbus' time (NSU)

"Study Shows Massive Tree Loss in Cities" - "SAN ANTONIO, Texas - U.S. cities have lost more than 20 percent of their trees in the past 10 years, due primarily to urban sprawl and highway construction, an environmental group said this week.

The vast tree loss contributes to environmental and health problems that have cost an estimated $234 billion, the group American Forests said in a study released at the annual National Urban Forest Conference." (Reuters)

"It's Europe's lungs and home to many rare species. But to Russia it's £100bn of wood" - "Sale of forests to private loggers could create ecological crisis" (The Guardian)

Russia's forests are "Europe's lungs"... they take O2 from the atmosphere and release to atmosphere CO2, water vapour...?

"Environmentalists Blame East Coast Hurricane on 'Global Warming'" - "As Hurricane Isabel bears down on the East Coast, environmentalists in Washington, D.C., are linking the caprice of Mother Nature to global warming.

"Weather-related disasters are occurring with ever-greater intensity and frequency around the world," stated a press release from the environmental group Worldwatch Institute on Wednesday.

Citing "clear connections" that global warming and Hurricane Isabel are inter-related, Worldwatch stated, "Heat in the atmosphere is the fuel that leads to stormy weather, and meteorological studies indicate that rising temperatures will tend to increase the frequency and intensity of extreme storms, particularly the violent thunderstorms that occur in some parts of the world."

But climatologist Patrick J. Michaels, a skeptic of what he terms "alarmist" global warming claims, refuted any attempt to link potential climate change to Hurricane Isabel.

"There is absolutely no evidence for an increase in frequency or severity of hurricanes worldwide and in the Atlantic basin," Michaels told CNSNew.com." (CNSNews.com)

"Greenhouse gases decrease" - "National greenhouse gas emissions decreased in 2001 but Australia will just miss meeting its Kyoto Protocol reduction targets.

The Federal Government yesterday released the national greenhouse gas emission accounts, which predict Australia's emissions in 2010 will be 110 per cent of 1990 levels - two percentage points higher than the negotiated level of 108 per cent.

The Environment Minister, David Kemp, said although Australia was making "real progress on greenhouse gas emissions" it was still opposed to ratifying the "flawed" Kyoto protocol." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

"Doom and gloom merchants report the end of skiing" - "Ifyouski recently saw the following doom and gloom merchants reporting the end of skiing. As we all know you get good snow years and bad snow years. The last few have generally been pretty good." (IfYouSki.com)

"Russia offered EUR 2 mln for Kyoto ratification" - "MOSCOW - The European Commission is ready to allocate EUR 2m to Russia within the framework of the TACIS program, Vincent Piket, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Commission in Russia, said at a press conference on Thursday. He said the money should be used for the support of the Kyoto Protocol program.

According to the members of the EC Delegation, countries that ratified this agreement should cut greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere starting on January 1, 2005, or they should buy gas emission quotas from the countries with greenhouse gas emissions below the allowed levels." (The Russia Journal)

"Russia MPs end hopes of ratifying Kyoto soon" - "Russian parliamentarians ended hopes they will ratify the Kyoto protocol soon, saying on Thursday that Moscow needed to approach the issue gradually and examine its impact on the national economy.

Russia's ratification of the protocol that aims to cut emissions of gases causing global warming is vital if the treaty is to come into force worldwide." (Gateway to Russia)

"UN agency teams up with insurer, medical school to study climate change impact" - "A United Nations development agency is joining a Swiss global insurer and a United States medical school in an innovative research partnership to evaluate health and economic damages from climate change and associated events, which currently run at $40 billion annually and are projected to reach $150 billion by 2010." (UN News)

"Sucking Away Our Rain" - "Australia's public broadcaster, the ABC, presented a new scare story titled `Drought Vortex' on their Catalyst science programme, using information from Dr David Jones of the Bureau of Meteorology, Dr James Risbey of Monash University, Melbourne, and Kevin Hennessy of the CSIRO Atmospheric Division.

The story was basically that Australia may be subject to much less rainfall in future due to a cooling Antarctic `sucking away Australia's rain' into the Antarctic vortex. This was described as `a revolutionary new theory' (yes, yes, another one) to explain how this was all to happen.

Another new set of predictions (correction - `projections') is nothing to be particularly concerned about, especially as these seem to change with each turn of the weather, more frequently even than theories about food nutrition. What was more significant about the story is the re-writing of past history that the `new revolutionary theory' requires." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Is the Ozone Layer Recovering?" - "The Montreal Protocol limits disease, as well as levels of ozone depleting substances, says latest status report

September 17, 2003—Without the Montreal Protocol, levels of ozone depleting substances in the atmosphere would have increased tenfold by 2050, which could have led to up to 20 million more cases of skin cancer and 130 million more cases of eye cataracts relative to 1980, according to the World Bank's Montreal Protocol Status Report, launched yesterday on the occasion of Ozone Day." (The World Bank)

"EPA releases annual air trends report and new acid rain data" - "WASHINGTON (09/18/03) -- The U.S. EPA has released its annual air trends report and new acid rain data, both of which, the Agency says show steady and significant air quality improvement. EPA pointed out that this environmental progress comes even as the country has experienced a 164 percent increase in gross domestic product, a 42 percent increase in energy consumption and a 155 percent increase in vehicle miles traveled." (Capitol Reports)

"French Maize Farmers Seen Embracing GM, Eventually" - "LE MANS, France - French maize farmers will be swift in adopting new genetically modified (GM) strains once regulatory hurdles are swept away under European Union law in the pipeline, officials from the main growers' association said yesterday." (Reuters)

September 18, 2003

"Row erupts over asteroid scares" - "Astronomers are so horrified by press scares of near-Earth asteroid collisions that they are toning down the scale they use to rate the threat posed by an asteroid. They say that the Torino scale tends to create anxiety rather than quantify the damage an asteroid will cause." (New Scientist)

"Oversize portions linked to cancer" - "Obesity and cancer experts yesterday called for a consumer revolt against supersize food portions and packaging, accusing the industry of enticing the unwary to eat far more than was good for them.

They blamed marketing ploys offering stacks more food for a little more money - such as oversize drink and popcorn containers in cinemas or "meal deals" in fast food restaurants - for helping to trigger a huge rise in cancers linked to weight gain, as many as 9,000 new cases a year in Britain alone.

The World Cancer Research Fund warned that a huge growth in the size of meals being consumed both inside and outside the home, had already coincided with rising obesity rates in the US and was now threatening Britain and Europe too." (The Guardian)

"Hooked on Havarti? Some foods may be addictive" - "Ever had an unexplainable hankering for a chocolate bar, a juicy steak or a hunk of sharp cheddar cheese?

Being drawn to those foods is not a matter of weak willpower but rather the addictive qualities of those foods. So says Neal Barnard, a doctor who, in his new book Breaking the Food Seduction, asserts that cheese, meats and sugar trigger the brain's pleasure center and tempt us into eating them over and over.

"Certain foods -- sugar, chocolate, cheese and meat -- trigger the release of opiate-like substances in the brain that are in the same class as heroin and morphine, but not as strong," Barnard said.

"With the right dietary and lifestyle modifications, we can kick the strongest food cravings." (The Salt Lake Tribune)

Reminds me of a story I heard while growing up in a farming community about an old guy who was convinced his horse's eating was merely a bad habit - almost trained it out of it too, sadly, the beast went and died before its training was complete.

"Salmon packed with pollutants: Decaying fish dump PCBs in Alaska's lakes" - "Salmon travelling to Alaska's lakes to spawn are carrying large doses of industrial pollutants with them, a study has shown." (NSU)

"Provincial control over environment law recipe for disaster: Robert Kennedy" - "EDMONTON -- Provincial and state governments aren't strong enough to protect the environment in the face of the power and influence of multinational corporations, says a prominent American environmental lawyer. Shifting responsibility for the environment to provinces and states -- a process long underway in both Canada and the U.S. -- will ultimately weaken clean air and water legislation, Robert Kennedy Jr. told an Edmonton business luncheon Wednesday." (CP)

New Scientist returning to the real world? "Comment and Analysis" - "We will never be able to predict climate change, let alone influence it by cutting carbon emissions alone ­ so action should be focused elsewhere, argues global warming sceptic Philip Stott" (New Scientist, print edition, p.25)

"Ancient relatives of algae yield new insights into role of CO2 in Earth's early atmosphere" - "Arlington, Va.--Awareness of the global warming effects of carbon dioxide (CO2) is relatively recent, but the greenhouse gas has been playing a critical role in warming our planet for billions of years, according to University of Maryland geologist Jay Kaufman and Virginia Polytechnic Institute geologist Shuhai Xiao." (National Science Foundation) | Atmospheric carbon dioxide greater 1.4 billion years ago (Virginia Tech)

"Indian Ocean 'heatwaves' spell disaster for coral" - "Vast areas of coral reef could perish within the next few decades in a procession of cyclic "heatwaves" in the Indian Ocean, a marine biologist warns today." (The Guardian)

"US Energy secretary defends climate change policy in Berlin" - "US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham Wednesday tried to persuade a European audience that the Bush administration's disavowal of the Kyoto Protocol and its reliance instead of a market-based strategy to address global climate change makes the most sense. Addressing the American Academy in Berlin, Abraham said US policy on climate change "is not sufficiently understood by large segments of the public, particularly here in Europe." He added, "The United States is neither ashamed of its position on Kyoto nor indifferent to the challenges of climate change." (Platts)

"Foods to fight asthma" - "An Australian study appears to support previous evidence linking diet to asthma outcome. Young adults whose diet included whole milk and fruits including apples and pears were significantly less likely to have asthma or show tendency toward developing it, the researchers from University of Tasmania and Monash University in Melbourne report. Soy drinks however were linked to an increased risk of the disease." (NutraIngredients.com)

"Americans' knowledge of genetically modified foods remains low and opinions on safety still split" - "Americans' knowledge of genetically modified (GM) foods remains low and their opinions about its safety are just as divided as they were two years ago, according to a new survey released today by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology. The survey also shows that knowing FDA reviewed and approved a GM product can increase public confidence and that public support for GM products decreases as uses of the technology shift from plants to animals." (Pall Corporation) Poll: Consumers Dislike Altering Animals (AP)

September 17, 2003

"The Killer Season: This summer was deadly, but winter could be even worse" - "This summer's murderous heat wave in Europe, which may have caused more than 11,000 deaths in France alone, is enough to make you look forward to the season of mittens, hot cocoa, and frostbite. Ah, for kind, crisp winter, when people aren't baked like blackbirds!

But not so fast: Demographically speaking, cold is actually a far bigger killer than heat. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Grim Reaper makes more house calls in December, January, and February, while — this year’s statistically anomalous summertime mortality excepted — he tends to take time off during July, August, and September (naturally, this is reversed in the Southern Hemisphere). One study calculated that in the United Kingdom in the 1990s, more than 80,000 people died of cold-related causes per year — or more than 100 times the figure for heat-related deaths. All bets are off in the developing world, where the hottest months (whichever part of the calendar they fall on) are more deadly." (Slate.com)

"Pollution policy drives technological innovation - Scientific solutions are spurred by government regulation" - "If they want to stimulate technological innovation, governments must do more than pour money into research, according to a new study. They should legislate in favour of the goal, it suggests. Regulation spurs technological development, say Margaret Taylor and colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania." (NSU)

Whether there is a net benefit, however, depends entirely on whether the goal is necessary or even desirable and whether addressing the alleged problem is economically feasible. Not much support there for past legislation.

Porritt prattle: "Shopping until you drop leads to misery" - "Shopping until you drop leads to debt and misery, and not to happiness, so policy must be altered to curb Britain's consumer society, the government has been advised.

Buying consumer goods, or "retail therapy", is driven by deep evolutionary forces such as sexual competition and the need to show off and increase social status, but does nothing to make people content.

Conspicuous consumption damages the environment and the quality of life for everyone, says the government's sustainable development commission.

Researchers call for schoolchildren to be taught the dangers of consumerism for their own wellbeing and for Britain." (The Guardian)

CASsAndra's corner: "Reducing Teen Smoking Can Cut Marijuana Use Significantly" - "WASHINGTON, September 16, 2003 – A 50-percent reduction in the number of teens who smoke cigarettes can cut marijuana use by 16 to 28 percent, according to a new report by the American Legacy Foundation® and The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA*) at Columbia University. The findings are based on a survey of 1,987 teens aged 12 to 17 and show a troubling connection between teens who smoke cigarettes and marijuana use." (CASA)

Right... CASA's last major media foray was their bizarre claim that 50% of all alcohol consumption was by underage/binge drinkers.

Dubious claim du jour award shared by: "Protecting The Ozone Layer And Reducing Health Risks" - "WASHINGTON, September 16, 2003—Without the Montreal Protocol, levels of ozone depleting substances in the atmosphere would have increased tenfold by 2050, which could have led to up to 20 million more cases of skin cancer and 130 million more cases of eye cataracts relative to 1980, according to the World Bank’s Montreal Protocol Status Report, launched today on the occasion of Ozone Day.

“By bringing down the release of ozone depleting substances in the atmosphere, the Montreal Protocol has set up a great example of the power of multilateralism in dealing with global environmental threats. This strong partnership of poor and rich countries, which has effectively reversed the health risks of a thinning ozone layer over our planet, has proven right the old saying that when there is a will, there is a way.” said Kristalina Georgieva, World Bank Environment Director." (World Bank)

"Ocean plant life slows down and absorbs less carbon" - "Plant life in the world's oceans has become less productive since the early 1980s, absorbing less carbon, which may in turn impact the Earth's carbon cycle, according to a study that combines NASA satellite data with NOAA surface observations of marine plants." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office)

"A Flood of Information" - "During the July 1997 flooding of the Oder River, tens of thousands were evacuated and about 100 died in Poland and the Czech Republic (Figure 1). In August 2002, severe flooding of the Elbe River in central Europe also took an enormous human and financial toll (estimated to be US$18.5 billion). During the 1990s, heavy and costly floods also occurred on the Rhine (1993), Meuse (1995) and Morava (1997) rivers." (Willie Soon and David R. Legates, TCS)

"Canada hasn't mended polluting ways: report" - "With only a decade left to cut greenhouse gas emissions to meet the Kyoto Accord, new data show that Canadians are moving in the opposite direction and releasing far more of the gases than they did in 1980.

The data, released by Statistics Canada Tuesday, show that throughout the 20 years before the year 2000 the amount of carbon dioxide emissions (commonly called greenhouse gases) released per Canadian rose an average of 0.25 per cent each year.

By 2000, the nation's total production of carbon dioxide was up to 564 megatonnes, an average of 18.3 megatonnes per person. By comparison, the average member-nation of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development had per capita emission levels barely two-thirds that of Canada's." (Globe and Mail)

Hmm... "...564 megatonnes, an average of 18.3 megatonnes per person" Let's see: 564/18.3 = ~31 Canadians... would've thought there were more 51st staters than that! Wouldn't have picked 'em as such massive CO2 emitters either. Given the above, convincing just a half-dozen Canadians to shift their emissions to a developing country will see Canada in compliance with The Protocol. Acquaintances from north of the 49th even went so far as to suggest that the emigration of just PM Jean Chretien and environment minister David Anderson would suffice to ensure a significant improvement in Canada's prospects.

This week on CO2Science.org:

"CO 2 , Soil Fauna, and Grassland Succession and Diversity" - "How does the rising atmospheric CO 2 concentration impact soil fauna?  And what does the answer to this question have to do with grassland succession and ecosystem species richness?" (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries
"Little Ice Age (North America)" - "As we continue our regional assessment of the global extent and impact of the Little Ice Age, we focus in this installment on scientific publications we have reviewed in recent years that pertain to North America." (co2science.org)

"Biospheric Productivity (Terrestrial - Regional: North America)" - "As the "twin evils" of the radical environmentalist movement (CO 2 and temperature) have risen to what its adherents typically describe as "unprecedented" levels over the past two centuries (and especially the past two decades), earth's terrestrial vegetation would be expected to be in a world of hurt right now.  Data from North America, however, suggest just the opposite." (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: Agave, Oats, Soybean, Wheat and Western Wheatgrass." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"Slow Variations in Solar Luminosity" - "Can they provide the missing link between solar activity and climate change on earth?  This is the question broached in a brief review of what we know -- and don't know -- about the behavior of the sun." (co2science.org)

"The Last Thousand Years of Climate Change in Antarctica" - "After a millennium of cooling, why are certain people so concerned that the icy continent might begin to warm a bit?" (co2science.org)

"The Little Ice Age on the Andean Altiplano" - "Buried in the sediments of lakes 4000 meters above sea level, evidence continues to come forth that testifies of the worldwide expression of the Little Ice Age." (co2science.org)

"Fifty Years of Forest Growth Enhancement in Europe" - "If the European public could only see what European forest scientists see, they would likely not be swayed by the demonstrably false view of ecological history promulgated by climate alarmists." (co2science.org)

"Biological Extraction of Methane from the Atmosphere" - "It provides a powerful brake on CO 2 -induced global warming." (co2science.org)

"Italy's Greenouts" - "This June's blackouts in Italy may not have been as newsworthy as those in the US and the UK, but they were just as serious for those Italians stuck in lifts and dark Alpine road tunnels. What difference switching off traffic lights made to Italian drivers is open to debate.

The more serious debate was over what had caused the first national power cuts for 21 years. Italy's largest power company, ENEL, had warned that the heat wave had led to a surge in electricity demand with more use of air conditioning and fans. Drought had also reduced the output of hydroelectric power plants." (Dominic Standish, TCS)

"Edible vaccines 'could end jabs'" - "Vaccinations could one day come in the form of a tasty morsel of fish, rather than via an injection, researchers have claimed." (BBC News Online)

"Biotechnology in the global communication ecology" - "Debates over biotechnology are part of a long history of social discourse over new products. Claims about the promise of new technology are at times greeted with skepticism, vilification or outright opposition — often dominated by slander, innuendo and misinformation. Even some of the most ubiquitous products endured centuries of persecution." (Calestous Juma, Economic Perspectives)

"Monsanto urges Brazil soy growers to pay royalties" - "SAO PAULO, Brazil - Monsanto Co. has urged Brazil's southern soybean farmers to pay royalties for future use of the firm's Roundup Ready (RR) soy technology, even though it may still be banned in Brazil." (Reuters)

"Mexican Village Plays Host to Fight Over Genetically Modified Food" - "Valle Verde, Mexico - An effort to promote the safety and benefits of genetically modified foods during the World Trade Organization meeting mushroomed into a clash between free market activists and environmental groups in a small-impoverished village outside of Cancun on Friday.

The event, sponsored by the free market group Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) degenerated in a shouting match, as environmental groups opposed to GM food technology crashed the event.

"We invited the media to come because we wanted this message to get out on the world stage," David Rothbard, the president of CFACT, told CNSNews.com.

CFACT distributed bags of food containing GM rice and beans, sugar, corn oil and pasta -- all of it bought at local stores. A local Catholic charity called the Foundation for the City of Joy aided in the food distribution effort.

Rothbard attacked the greens for what he sees as their efforts to keep the world's poor nations from using the latest technologies such as GM foods." (CNSNews.com)

September 16, 2003

"EPA sued over kids and pesticides; Coalition charges agency failed to protect children" - "NEW YORK, Sept. 15 — The Environmental Protection Agency was sued by four states and a coalition of conservation, public health and farmworker groups Monday for failing to protect children from unsafe levels of pesticide residue found in food. The plaintiffs, who filed two separate cases in Manhattan federal court, seek court orders forcing the EPA to comply with a 1996 law requiring that the agency set pesticide residue standards 10 times stricter than those considered acceptable for adults." (Reuters)

"Killer virus to wipe us all out!!" - "Ben Goldacre on the risks of reading health pages" (The Guardian)

"The Green-Gray Alliance" - "CANCUN, Mexico -- Could the Greens take over the World Trade Organization -- by using concepts from the late 20th century and tactics from the early 20th century?

"Sustainable Development," "Sustainable Trade," and "The Precautionary Principle" are the hip buzzwords of anti-WTO-ers, who would like to transform the WTO from within or conquer it from without. But to succeed in their effort, they are relying on tactics that summon up such old-time phrases as "entryism" and "dual unionism." Many decades ago, those tactics guided an earlier left-wing movement, Communism, in its bid for world power. Now we will see how today's Greens, using the same tactics, stack up against yesterday's Reds." (James Pinkerton, TCS)

Here we go again: "Kids at high risk from ozone decline" - "GENEVA, Sept 16 — Two United Nations agencies warned on Tuesday that children are most at risk of developing skin cancers as a result of the long-term decline in the earth’s protective ozone layer." (Reuters) | Two UN agencies and partners launch campaign to prevent over-exposure to sun (UN News)

If there were any lingering doubts about UHIE corrupting the near-surface temperature amalgam record, this should finish 'em off: "Experts: Temps' Range Changes on Weekends" - "WASHINGTON - Life is different on weekends, a distinction that seems to affect Mother Nature as well as people. Climate researchers studying records at thousands of locations have discovered that, in many communities, the temperature range between the daily high and low changes on the weekend. And, as with some people, there seems to be a little hangover of this weekend effect on Mondays. Piers M. de F. Forster and Susan Solomon of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Aeronomy Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., noticed the weekend effect while studying records in an effort to learn more about global warming." (Associated Press)

"`Baked Alaska'?" - "The New York Times is at it again. They spread a false story a few years ago (`Water at the North Pole') which they were later obliged to retract. Then they published a story about Alaska climate which was publicly repudiated by the Alaska Climate Research Center.

Now they have just published a story titled `Baked Alaska on the Menu?' (New York Times (NYT) 13 Sept. 2003) in which they have mounted similar falsehoods. Their story opens with a heart wrenching story about Kaktovik, an Alaskan village on the Arctic Ocean, where a robin built a nest last year (a pest invasion?), where willows have decided to grow on the nearby river banks (noxious weeds?), and where there are now three types of salmon in nearby waters where none previously existed. "We're not getting as many icebergs as we used to" says one 92-year old. Robins, willows, salmon, fewer icebergs, - life is getting really tough at Kaktovik.

Of course, that's all just newspaper hype and hyperbole, none of it verifiable. And NYT is not noted for its accuracy in reporting such stories as evidenced by recent scandals over plagiarism there." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Canada Vows to Stay Kyoto Course, Russia Regardless" - "OTTAWA - Canada will meet its commitments under the Kyoto climate change protocol regardless of whether Russia ratifies the landmark environmental treaty, bringing it into force, Environment Minister David Anderson said on Monday.

"Kyoto is about climate change," Anderson told Reuters. "We are assuming that whatever happens, we will proceed in Canada with a vigorous program regardless." (Reuters)

"[New Zealand] Tax will boost renewable energy, says investor" - "Bring on the carbon tax, says Wellington-based investment company Infratil. Without the tax, New Zealand was heading for more coal-fired electricity power plants, it said yesterday. Infratil has a controlling stake in electricity company TrustPower, which generates and sells electricity, and has wind power and hydro power schemes under consideration. An emissions tax would increase the cost of electricity but make renewable power schemes such as wind and new hydro schemes economic, Infratil said. Infratil electricity specialist Bruce Harker said that without the tax, new wind and hydro power could not compete. Coal-fired power generation would play a bigger role, resulting in huge amounts of carbon dioxide emissions." (The Dominion Post)

"Scientist defends GM food" - "Though some Canadians may be suspicious of genetically modified foods, a Kenyan expert says partnerships with Winnipeg companies specializing in that technology is the key to helping Africa's starving.

"The issues in Africa are different from in Canada," said Dr. Florence Wambugu, an expert in biodiversity from Kenya. "We have a food deficit there so this technology is a real opportunity for long-term food security." (Winnipeg Sun)

September 15, 2003

"IRAQ : Experts Warn of Radioactive Battlefields" - "NEW YORK, Sep 12 Concerns are growing about the presence of depleted uranium and other toxins in Iraq following a rash of illnesses among U.S. troops and the discovery by a reporter that radiation levels in parts of Baghdad are extremely elevated." (IPS)

"Mobiles 'make you senile'" - "Mobile phones and the new wireless technology could cause a "whole generation" of today's teenagers to go senile in the prime of their lives, new research suggests

The study - which warns specifically against "the intense use of mobile phones by youngsters" - comes as research on their health effects is being scaled down, due to industry pressure. It is likely to galvanise concern about the almost universal exposure to microwaves in Western countries, by revealing a new way in which they may seriously damage health." (Independent)

"Second-hand Smoke is Harmful to Science" - "Looking for a surer method of being ripped apart than entering a lion's den covered with catnip? Conduct the most exhaustive, longest-running study on second-hand smoke and death. Find no connection. Then rather than being PC and hiding your data in a vast warehouse next to the Ark of the Covenant, publish it in one of the world's most respected medical journals." (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

"Outlook for living to healthy old age improving" - "MANCHESTER, England - More people are living to a healthier old age with fewer disabilities and the trend is likely to continue, an expert in geriatric medicine said on Friday. "For the majority of old people, life has never been so good. Things could get even better," said Professor Raymond Tallis of the University of Manchester. Life expectancy at birth has risen by 4.7 years for men and 3.5 years for women in the last two decades of the 20th century, he added, and the perception of the elderly as a burden to society is very different from the reality. Many elderly people are in good health and enjoying a lifestyle that would have been unimaginable a few decades ago." (Reuters)

"Tourism a Huge Threat to Global Environment" - "DURBAN, South Africa - A boom in world tourism is posing a huge threat to some of the planet's most sensitive ecosystems, according to a study released last week." (Reuters) | UN agency warns of both blessing and curse in biodiversity tourism (UN News)

"Shanghai 'sinking' from skyscrapers" -"China's largest city, Shanghai, is to slash construction of new high-rise buildings to try and stop the city from sinking under the weight of all the concrete and steel." (BBC News Online)

"Antarctic Ozone Hole Biggest Ever" - "LONDON - The gaping, man-made hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica has hit record proportions for this time of year and could get bigger still within the next few days, a leading scientist said last week." (Reuters)

"Baked Alaska on the Menu?" - "KAKTOVIK, Alaska -- Skeptics of global warming should come to this Eskimo village on the Arctic Ocean, roughly 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle. It's hard to be complacent about climate change when you're in an area that normally is home to animals like polar bears and wolverines, but is now attracting robins." (New York Times)

"Hot Cities in Colonial America" - "A correspondent has drawn my attention to a book by William B. Meyer titled "Americans and Their Weather" (Oxford University Press 2000, ISBN 0 19 513182 7). That bane of weather station records, the `Urban Heat Island Effect' was recognized as early as the American colonial era in the horse and buggy days." (John L Daly, Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Tree Haze and Cool Days?" - "Record temperatures in Europe have the greenhouse crusade whipped-up in a frenzy about global warming. As Europeans and North Americans leave their hot, crazy cities and seek some cooler weather in the lazy countryside, they encounter the hazy days of summer.

Much of the haze comes from trees that emit a phenomenal number and total volume of hydrocarbons into the atmosphere. The dinosaurs saw the haze, Columbus saw the haze, and if you venture into the countryside, you will see the haze. The plant vapors are the topic of an interesting article that recently appeared in the prestigious Journal of Geophysical Research." (Robert C. Balling, Jr., TCS)

"Film stars ease their consciences with trees" - "The actor Leonardo DiCaprio has one in Mexico and the film director Bernardo Bertolucci has one in Scotland. The latest "must-have" for those in the film industry is a newly planted forest." (Daily Telegraph, UK)

"Millions live without water, gas or power" - "Millions of households are living without basic utilities, are under threat of disconnection or are amassing debts to pay their bills, a new report will claim next week.

The National Consumers Council claims to have uncovered the true scale of misery caused by millions of people struggling to pay for 'lifeline' services of electricity, gas, water and telephones.

The report, to be published tomorrow, also warns that the problem will increase when, as expected, charges go up to pay for investment in the utilities' infrastructure." (The Observer)

"Power cuts" - "Power cuts are in the news. The engineering and economics of power distribution systems are relatively simple. The politics are not." (Number Watch)

"EPA reviews soot guidelines" - "WASHINGTON — New federal health standards that limit the amount of soot in the air do not adequately protect the elderly and people with respiratory problems and should be tightened, according to an internal government report.

The findings could become the basis for additional pollution-control requirements to reduce the amount of microscopic soot emitted by diesel-burning trucks, cars, factories and power plants." (AP)

"Weeds Seen More Resistant to Herbicide" - "WASHINGTON -- Increased findings that weeds are developing resistance to Roundup, the world's most popular herbicide, have some scientists urging new planting practices. The product's manufacturer says the problem is being overblown." (AP)

"Precaution Into Law" - "CANCUN, Mexico -- September 11 will be remembered for many things, of course, but something that happened on 9/11/03 will also be remembered. The world may mourn -- or not -- the attack on the US two years ago, but the world environmental movement has definitely moved on. Here at the World Trade Organization meeting, the assembled multitude, both pro-trade and anti-trade, was confronted by the coincidence that Thursday marked the first day in which the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety entered into force. Right here, right now, there are more urgent issues for WTO-ers to discuss, but it won't be long before the Cartagena Protocol makes itself felt. So what is it, exactly?" (James Pinkerton, TCS)

"Biopirates of the Caribbean" - "CANCUN, Mexico -- 'Indian wheat must not be patentable,' said arch-protectionist and guru to the political left, Vandana Shiva, of the Indian Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology. In fact she said that no living organisms should be patentable - including, presumably, herself. Well you won't have any arguments from me that we shouldn't patent or indeed clone, Dr Shiva. But her rhetorical style of decrying the world's corporations for biopiracy certainly appeals to the few acolytes and members of the media, who hang on her every word. And they were there in attendance, if not in force, when she kicked off the TRIPS and Biopiracy NGO meeting at the Hotel Sierra's NGO center." (Roger Bate, TCS)

"[Ghana] Ministry moves to ensure safe, sound management of Biotech - Kasanga" - "THE MINISTER of Science and Environment, Prof. Kasim Kasanga, has said the government has formulated a National Science and Technology policy, which, among other things, endorses the use of innovative and pervasive technology, including biotechnology, as tools for development.

According to him, the government is convinced that biotechnology, as a tool for development, is not harmful to mankind. “Biotechnology has become a key issue in the international debate on sustainable development. The ministry is therefore developing technical capability to ensure the safe and environmentally sound management of Biotechnology in Ghana.” (Ghanaian Chronicle)

"Uganda's push for GM" - "President George W Bush has said Africa is losing out by not adopting GM, as his government battles with Europe over the sale of genetically modified products there.

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has also made clear that he is convinced of the logic for GM food." (BBC News Online)

"What Green Revolution?" - "Famine-torn Africa stands to gain the most from the biotech revolution. Why then have scientists ignored its staple crops?" (Newsweek)

"Why We Can’t Agree" - "To most Americans, farm country is an idyll, and food comes from a faraway land. Not so for Europeans" (Newsweek)

"Spanish Protesters Invade GM Maize Fields" - "ARANJUEZ, Spain - Spanish farmers and ecologists on the weekend invaded fields of genetically-modified maize to protest against cultivation of the crop in the only European country where it is grown on a commercial scale." (Reuters)

September 12, 2003

"Hillary's Sept. 11 Smoke Screen" - "Sen. Hillary Clinton says she’ll block President Bush’s nominee for chief of the Environmental Protection Agency because the EPA allegedly misled New Yorkers about health risks after the Sep. 11 attacks." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"What's with Which?" - "There is even more reason to be optimistic about life, after recent research showed that optimists live significantly longer than pessimists do.

Of course this gives pessimists something else to worry about, but those of us who see glasses half full rather than half empty have yet more cause for celebration. It is a paradox that the wealthier we become as a society, so there appear to be more and more things to worry about. Pessimism seems to have become the order of the day.

A good barometer of this rising tide of angst is that organ of the middle classes, Which, the journal of the Consumers' Association. Once upon a time it concerned itself with comparative tests of toasters and suchlike essentials of life, but nowadays it is much more than that. Increasingly it loves covering bad news, and uncovering things that we should worry about." (Geoffrey Hollis, sp!ked)

"Flawed study shakes faith in journal" - "THE credibility of one of the world’s most prestigious research journals was questioned by a leading British scientist yesterday after it was forced to retract a flawed study. Colin Blakemore, Professor of Physiology at Oxford University, said that the retraction of a widely reported paper linking the drug Ecstasy to brain damage had severely damaged the reputation of Science." (The Times)

"Brussels red tape 'strangling cancer research'" - "European regulation is strangling efforts to find new treatments for killer diseases such as cancer, a leading British medical charity warned on Thursday.

Dr Richard Sullivan, head of clinical programmes at Cancer Research UK, told the British Association Festival of Science in Salford that the EU had "become a regulatory superstate" hindering biomedical research. More than half the legislation affecting his charity came from regulations created by Brussels.

Preparing drugs for patient trials took five times longer than it used to, Dr Sullivan said. "I find it incredibly frustrating that whereas I could once go from developing a new drug to testing it on patients in a matter of months, it is now routinely taking more than two years. That kind of delay is undoubtedly costing lives." (Financial Times)

Get ready for the silence of the lambs: "Scientists investigate BSE tests on sheep; Urgent look at 'puzzling' results as farms fear new blow" - "Scientists are to urgently assess whether the nightmare scenario of BSE crossing from cattle to sheep on Britain's farms has already happened, it emerged yesterday. Experts are likely to meet within a fortnight to study "puzzling" and "interesting" results from a huge survey of samples from sheep brains that would - if confirmed - spell another disaster for public confidence in meat and British agriculture.

They are expected to order further laboratory tests but it might be months before any firm conclusions can be drawn about unexplained results in 28 of nearly 30,000 samples. European food safety authority advisers will also be involved." (The Guardian)

"[UK] Scrapie numbers show up higher than thought" - "TEST results from more than 30,000 sheep indicate that the brain disease scrapie might be more prevalent than previously thought.

But scientists warned that an apparent increase to 0.33 per cent of the UK national flock affected with the transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, and some apparently contradictory test results, should be treated with caution. As did Sir John Krebs, head of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), who reported the findings yesterday to his board.

There had been concern that Krebs might raise the possibility that scrapie in sheep, known for more than two centuries, might now be masking BSE, the lethal cattle brain disease which has been linked to the equally lethal CJD in humans. BSE in sheep has only been induced under laboratory conditions, but a suggestion that it might be found on farms sparked a minor media panic last autumn." (The Scotsman)

"Warming Study Draws Fire: Harvard scientists accused of politicizing research" - "A study by two Harvard researchers quietly published last January in a small research journal has set off a political storm that has led to debate on the senate floor and internal wrangling at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The study, co-authored by two scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, concluded that the 20th century has been neither the warmest century of the past millennium nor the one with the most extreme weather." (The Harvard Crimson)

Hmm... remember all that flack about the Whitehouse supposedly deleting the section about "global warming" from the state of the environment report? According to this report, the EPA allegedly deleted the section in order to suppress mention of the paper by Soon and Baliunas. Curiouser and curiouser, as Alice reportedly said.

New Sensationalist gets it right? "Severe floods in Europe not rising" - "Severe floods in central Europe are not becoming more common, say scientists in Germany who have compiled a historical record that stretches back almost 1000 years.

Even the devastating floods that left cities from Prague to Dresden awash with water in 2002 do not suggest an upward trend, Manfred Mudelsee at the University of Leipzig and his colleagues found.

Many reports at the time suggested that the floods were the kind of extreme weather event expected to become more frequent as a result of global warming. But "if they can't find trends, then there is no reason to attribute the flooding to climate change" says Mike Blackburn, a climate scientist at the University of Reading, UK." (NewScientist.com news service)

"Role of tropics in global climate change gains attention" - "The tropics are being recognized as an important element in the dynamic process of global climate change, according to a new study headed by David Lea, professor of geological sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara." (University of California - Santa Barbara)

"Lower atmosphere temperature may be rising" - "Controversial satellite data analysis fuels global warming debate." (NSU)

"Huge Climate Experiment Starts today - All Welcome" - "MANCHESTER, England - A climate prediction experiment which is expected to involve two million people around the world and produce a probable forecast for the 21st century will be launched today.

Anyone with a personal computer can join the project and will be expected to conduct their own unique version of Britain's Met Office climate model, simulating several decades of the Earth's climate at a time." (Reuters) | Distributed climate model aims for errors (NewScientist.com news service)

"Gearing Up for a Move to the 'Hydrogen Economy'" - "BRUSSELS - The European Commission said on Wednesday it would set up in the coming weeks an advisory body to help coordinate government, scientific and industry efforts to boost the alternative fuel hydrogen." (Reuters)

"UK removes maize over contamination fears" - "11/09/03 - The UK's food safety agency this week reported that two batches of maize meal have been removed from sale after tests showed that they contained unusually high levels of fumonisins, a group of 'undesirable' chemicals called mycotoxins which are derived from the growth of moulds on the grain.

The two products, Fresh and Wild Organic Maize Meal and Infinity Foods Organic Maize Meal, were tested as part of an on-going survey being carried out by the Food Standards Agency to check for levels of a range of mycotoxins in maize and maize products.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) added that results received so far in the survey for other maize-containing products, such as corn flour and polenta, 'are not a cause for concern'." (NutraIngredients.com)

"New technology makes farming more efficient, environmentally friendly" - "The advent of precision agricultural practices and global positioning systems that use satellites to more precisely map fields has helped introduce new farming practices helping producers become more efficient in their operations.

Another fairly new technology that Nebraska farmers have rapidly adapted to is the genetically modified corn and soybean varieties that give them an edge in tackling troublesome weed problems.

Jorgensen said new sprayer technology complements the use of those new genetically modified seed varieties by better applying weed-fighting chemicals, either pre-plant, post emerge, or late season.

With precision agricultural practices, producers can better apply weed-fighting chemicals to those areas of the field where it is needed instead of making a general application field-wide.

Jorgensen said with the use of field mapping systems, the new generation of sprayers can make variable applications of chemicals on a crop field.

"We variable rate the chemical and fertilizer according to soil testing," he said.

For precision agricultural practices to be effective, Jorgensen said, farmers do soil analysis of their fields to find out where applications are most needed. With that information fed into the on-board computer on the sprayer, along with the GPS mapping information, producers can apply fertilizer or chemicals at a variable rate, which adds to a producer's profitability, saving him money by not wasting fertilizer and chemicals in areas of a field where they are not needed." (The Grand Island Independent)

"Indian farmers target Monsanto" - "Angry farmers in southern India have stormed a building that formerly housed the global biotech giant, Monsanto. More than 40 farmers ransacked the corporation's former Bangalore facility on Thursday, after staging noisy demonstrations. They were protesting after more than 70 farmers committed suicide in the region in the last three months. Their deaths are being blamed on debt and drought - and on the introduction of Monsanto's genetically modified crops." (BBC News Online)

September 11, 2003

"Trade Center debris pile was a chemical factory, says new study" - "The fuming World Trade Center debris pile was a chemical factory that exhaled pollutants in particularly dangerous forms that could penetrate deep into the lungs of workers at Ground Zero, says a new study by UC Davis air-quality experts." (University of California - Davis)

"Taken at the floods" - "In August last year the big news was the severe flooding across central Europe, as the Elbe broke its banks in Dresden and other German cities, fed in part by floodwater from the Vltava river that had earlier flooded the Czech capital of Prague. Five years previously the Oder river had caused similar havoc in the Czech Republic, Poland and Germany. These well publicized events, together with evidence that globally, the incidence of severe flooding has increased in recent decades, have created the general impression that something malign — global warming is the favourite culprit — is afoot and that the situation can only get worse. But newly collated data, dating back to the year 1021 (for the Elbe) and 1269 (for the Oder), suggest that taking the long view, so far there is no upward trend in the incidence in extreme flooding in this region of central Europe." (Nature)

"Top US experts in Vietnam to talk about climate policy" - "HANOI - A delegation of US climate experts will arrive in Vietnam on Friday to discuss American climate change policy outside the Kyoto protocol with government officials, the US embassy said.

The tour aims to explain "the United States' commitment to the multilateral process under the United Nations (news - web sites) Framework Convention on Climate Change" (UNFCC) but outside of the context of Kyoto protocol, a statement said." (AFP)

"UGA researchers use transgenic trees to help clean up toxic waste site" - "Can genetically engineered cottonwood trees clean up a site contaminated with toxic mercury? The results of a new field test could make clearer the future of phytoremediation - a technique of using trees, grasses and other plants to remove hazardous materials from the soil. UGA scientists and city officials in Danbury, Conn., planted on July 16 some 60 cottonwoods with a special gene at the site of a 19th-century hat factory in that northeastern city." (University of Georgia)

"Precaution without principle" - "The European Parliament voted earlier this summer to change the way it regulates gene-splicing, or genetic modification (GM) technology, possibly opening the way for the lifting of the EU's 5-year-old moratorium on approvals of new gene-spliced crops and foods. The EU's spin is that this "progress" should induce the United States and other complainants to drop their World Trade Organization grievance against EU regulation.

This is no more than a negotiating ploy: The legislation makes the EU an even less hospitable environment for gene-splicing, not a better one." (Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko, The Washington Times)

"Canadian priorities wrong in refusing to ratify GMO treaty, says Greenpeace" - "MONTREAL -- The Canadian government is more concerned about business than health by refusing to ratify a treaty governing genetically modified organisms, Greenpeace said Wednesday. The Biosafety Protocol -- also known as the Cartagena Protocol -- was finalized in Montreal in January 2000 but Canada has yet to ratify it. The global treaty comes into effect on Thursday." (CP)

"US farmers hope for rich harvest if EU opens to GMOs" - "BRUSSELS - If the European Union opens its market to two new genetically modified (GMO) maize varieties, American farmers will grow the crops on a massive scale, a United States biotech analyst said this week.

The European Commission says it could be asking member states to drop their five-year de facto ban on most GMO crops and food products by the beginning of 2004 as tough rules ensuring the safety of biotech products will then be in place." (Reuters)

"USDA survey shows some farmers don't comply with EPA biotech rules" - "WASHINGTON -- The Agriculture Department found that almost 20 percent of the Midwestern farms growing a pest-resistant biotech crop have failed to comply with federal planting requirements.

Mark Harris, chief of the department's crop statistics branch, said Wednesday that "probably there are some individuals who may not have understood the rules and didn't follow their contracts precisely." (Associated Press)

"UK should delay GM crops decision, says research report" - "The UK should hold back on making a decision on whether or not to permit the commercial growing of genetically modified crops until more is known about the technology, a new report has said.

The major research report, compiled by academics at Newcastle University after six weeks of debate and analysis by two independent ‘jury’ panels, said there too little was known about the future implications of growing GM crops, reported Reuters.

The UK government has said it will probably make a decision later this year on whether or not to allow the commercial growing of GM crops." (just-food.com)

September 10, 2003

"Hyperactivity computer games link" - "Hyperactive children spend much longer playing computer games and watching TV than healthy children, researchers say." (BBC News Online)

"Hyperactive" children are "unhealthy"? Here's an alternate hypothesis: kids spending long hours playing video games and/or watching television (see "sedentary leisure") would benefit from more active pastimes. See also: Hyperactive? Just go to a park and climb a tree (The Times)

Uh-huh... "Yes, fiber is good for your heart" - "NEW YORK - The likelihood of developing heart disease is indeed lower with a diet high in fiber, especially water-soluble fiber, according to a study in the latest issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine, published by the American Medical Association.

The findings are based on data from nearly 10,000 subjects participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey I Epidemiologic Follow-up study. When they enrolled, the participants completed a 24-hour dietary recall questionnaire, which was used to calculate nutrient intake." (Reuters Health) [em added]

"More homes 'will boost wildlife'" - "Building new housing estates on farmland would actually improve the environment in many instances, English Nature told the British Association science festival here on Tuesday.

Intensive farming has sent many species like the yellow wagtail into a steep decline
Spokesmen for the government's wildlife advisory body said intensive agriculture had driven many plants and animals out of the rural setting and sensible property development might be the best way to get them back.

Dr Keith Porter said low-density developments with gardens and public open spaces would provide more favourable habitats for species than the giant pesticide-treated cereal fields that dominate much of the countryside now." (BBC News Online)

"[Ireland] Gilmore slams Fianna Fáil carbon tax document" - "Labour's Environment Spokesman Eamon Gilmore has criticised the Government's consultation document on proposals to introduce a carbon tax. He told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Environment that there is no mention of the impact that such a tax would have on greenhouse gas emissions. Deputy Gilmore said that he suspects the Government assumes the tax will have minimal impact on the environment. Fine Gael Senator James Bannon said the move was another attempt to introduce tax by the back door." (RTE News)

"Fatal sheep virus heads for UK" - "One of the most feared animal diseases in the world - second only to foot-and-mouth in terms of seriousness - is heading towards Britain because of global warming, a scientist warned yesterday." (Independent)

"Hopes grow that Russians will ratify Kyoto pact" - "Speculation that the Kyoto Protocol on climate change could come into force soon has heightened since an announcement that Russia has completed the documents necessary for the treaty's ratification.

Ever since the US decided to abandon the protocol in March 2001, Russia has held the key to the future of the agreement, which aims to curb greenhouse gas emissions from industrialised countries. The treaty, which needs the support of countries responsible for 55 per cent of the industrialised world's emissions, will come into force if Russia decides to ratify it.

But there is still uncertainty about Moscow's intentions. President Vladimir Putin announced in 2002 that Russia was preparing to ratify the protocol, but since then there have been conflicting comments from ministers and their deputies." (Financial Times)

CO2Science.org Editorial:
"Is the Global Warming Bubble About to Burst?" - "More and more data are beginning to suggest that it is, and that climate alarmists' worst fears will soon be realized, i.e., they will find their most strident predictions of impending climatic doom crushed by an uncooperative reality." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Little Ice Age (Arctic)" - "The Little Ice Age in the Arctic was likely the coldest period to date of the entire Holocene or current interglacial.  In some sectors of the region, in fact, temperatures and sea-ice extent appear to be still within the range of Little Ice Age climatic variability." (co2science.org)

"Biospheric Productivity (Global)" - "Mankind has wrecked havoc on many of earth's natural ecosystems over the course of the Industrial Revolution.  However, the gaseous "refuse" of our conquest of the planet is having a powerful redemptive effect on the vitality of the globe's vegetation." (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: Agave, Pansy, Rice and Wheat." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"Droughts of the Central and Southern Rocky Mountains" - "Is there any "rhyme or reason" to their occurrence; and, if so, what is it?" (co2science.org)

"Floods of the Tapi and Narmada Rivers of Central India" - "What can they tell us about the effects of global warming on the occurrence of extreme flood events?  Do they increase in frequency and intensity with increasing temperatures, as claimed by climate alarmists?" (co2science.org)

"Tuber Yield, Evapotranspiration and Water Use Efficiency of CO 2 -Enriched Potato Plants" - "A FACE study conducted in central Italy demonstrates how the ongoing rise in the air's CO 2 content can help us feed the world's growing population without consuming ever more land and water in the process, thereby leaving more of these important resources for earth's natural ecosystems." (co2science.org)

"Effects of Elevated CO 2 and O 3 Concentrations on the Yields of Wheat and Potatoes in Europe" - "The good and the bad fight it out across the continent, as the future ability of agriculture to feed humanity's growing numbers hangs in the balance." (co2science.org)

"Red Tides and Black Water: A Deadly Duo for Coral Reefs" - "With all the talk of global warming and coral bleaching nowadays, one could almost forget there are a large number of other major stressors of coral reef communities and that, more often than not, they are responsible for recent coral declines." (co2science.org)

"California wants new pollution rules" - "Briggs & Stratton Co. says it could be forced to move some manufacturing jobs overseas if California adopts new pollution rules on small engines used for lawn mowers, generators and other power equipment.

The rules would require Briggs and other small-engine manufacturers to put catalytic converters on their products starting in about 2008.

By 2020, the converters would cut California air pollution by 50 tons a day - the equivalent of taking 1.8 million cars off the road, according to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)

"The issue for Senator Feinstein is air quality," said her spokesman, Scott Gerber.

But money and jobs are the issues for Briggs & Stratton and some other members of Congress, including Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.)" (Journal-Sentinel)

"Sarawak opens rainforests to biotech study" - "KUCHING: Sarawak encourages foreign biotechnology experts to explore the abundant species of plants and animals in its rainforests, said Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

He said the large reservoir of natural assets required exploration and intensive study in research and development.

“There are benefits in biotechnology, such as cheaper and more efficacious drugs derived from natural resources; better therapies and higher crop production with improved nutrients, taste and quality; (and) better environmental conservation through research on natural resources, thus enhancing our quality of life,” he said at the opening of an international seminar at Crowne Plaza Riverside Hotel here yesterday." (The Star)

"Japan wheat buyers warn against biotech wheat in US" - "WASHINGTON - The premier export market for American wheat could be destroyed if the United States approved production of a genetically modified variety of the commodity, a Japanese industry official said this week." (Reuters)

"GHANA IN A FIX ... As America, Europe take opposing stands" - "As the transatlantic dispute over the acceptability of the Genetically Modified (GM) organisms and foods to reduce poverty and hunger in the world hots up, Ghana is torn between siding with the United States, which is promoting it and the European Union (EU), which is against it.

But the Scientific Secretary of the Food Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Mr. Robert Yawson, says the country will gain a lot rather than lose in terms of food security if she should embrace GM organisms and foods." (The Ghanaian Chronicle)

"Bt cotton: NGO blasts govt over regulating crop" - "New Delhi, September 8: As India prepares for the second harvest of the Bt cotton, a Delhi-based NGO has accused authorities of failing to profit from the genetically modified cotton that would see the technology through.

Today, Delhi-based NGO Gene Campaign released findings of the official report by Andhra Pradesh government on the performance of Bt cotton. According to the report, in North Telangana, net income from Monsanto’s Bt crop was five times less than the yield from indigenous varieties and in South Telangana, the difference was seven times.

What the NGO forgot to mention is the fact that the state had one of the worst droughts and Bt cotton being a resource-intensive crop does not survive drought. Secondly, last year the pest incidence was so low, it is difficult to make direct comparison with non-Bt varieties, a fact that is pointed out in the report itself." (The Indian Express)

"Govt, AL agree on pursuing biotech to up food output" - "The government has agreed to pursue agricultural biotechnology to raise food production, while the main opposition Awami League (AL) has pledged support for getting a biosafety act passed in parliament.

The government's policy standing and the opposition's commitment came at a dialogue held in the city yesterday on 'Sustainable Agricultural Growth in Bangladesh: Should We Go for Biotechnology for Rice Improvement?'" (The Daily Star)

"Brazilian court reimposes ban on transgenic soy" - "BRASILIA, Brazil - A Brazilian court this week knocked down a ruling that lifted a ban on the planting and sale of Monsanto Co. transgenic soy, after an appeal by Greenpeace and other groups that oppose its use.

The federal appeals court in the nation's capital Brasilia suspended an August ruling by a federal judge that temporarily lifted a long-standing injunction blocking Monsanto from selling GM Roundup Ready soybeans in Brazil.

A final decision on the use and sale of GM soy in Brazil has yet to be made. The debate on the issue continues in the nation's legal system." (Reuters)

"EU court says Italy may have grounds for GM ban" - "LUXEMBOURG - The European Union's top court ruled yesterday that Italy had the right to ban genetically modified maize that was allowed for use in the EU if it had solid grounds to suspect it posed a health risk.

The judgement means that the case, brought by Monsanto MON.N and other biotech firms against Italy's ban in 2000 of milled GM corn, now goes back to Italian courts to decide whether Italy's concerns were properly grounded." (Reuters)

"GMO import ban caught in crossfire" - "From tomorrow, countries will have a right under international law to ban imports of food containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that they think could be unsafe. Or maybe not.

The UN's Biosafety Protocol - which allows bans where governments fear imported GMOs in food may have an "adverse effect" on biological diversity or human health - comes into force on Thursday. But as it does, the right to impose bans is being attacked by a US action launched in August against the European Union." (NewScientist.com news service)

September 9, 2003

"Evicted fight back against nature parks" - "The era of evicting indigenous people from ancestral lands to make way for protected nature areas and parks will have to end, conservationists were told yesterday.

Pygmies, Bedouins and Bushmen, among others, said they would no longer accept being brushed aside by governments and environmentalists in the name of protecting world heritage sites.

Communities which feel betrayed by the conservation movement have mobilised to turn the 10-day world parks congress which opened in Durban yesterday into a platform for their grievances." (The Guardian)

In the virtual world: "'Super El Nino' could turn Amazon into dustbowl" - "The Amazon river could dry up and its lush vegetation turn into a dustbowl within 50 years because of global warming, British scientists warned yesterday.

The stark vision for the Amazon rainforest would result from a shift in rainfall patterns caused by changes in ocean currents in the Pacific, according to Dr Mat Collins, a senior research fellow at the Meteorological Office in Reading. "In our model, 50 years from now the Amazon dries up and dies," he told the British Association at the University of Salford yesterday." (Independent)

II: "Miramar, Pines, Davie may be beachfront properties by 2203, feds say" - "Over the next 200 years, if global warming predictions come true and nothing is done to prevent it, the ocean will surge into southwest Broward County. It will inundate Port Everglades and the million-dollar homes of Las Olas Isles. Fort Lauderdale's claim to be the Venice of America will become too true.

The South Florida Regional Planning Council on Monday released preliminary results of a study of the possible impact of rising sea levels on Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. The study is part of an attempt by the Environmental Protection Agency to help local governments learn what could happen if sea levels continue to rise and to make plans for dikes or other measures." (Sun-Sentinel)

"Warming warning for Antarctica" - "The face of Antarctica will change in the next 100 years as ice melts, glaciers retreat, penguins move south and green plants begin to colonise bare rocks of the Antarctic peninsula, researchers warned yesterday." (The Guardian)

"Tropical Cold" - "Darwin, the capital city of the Northern Territory and deep in the tropics, normally has daytime temperatures around 32 to 33°C all year round, with overnight temperatures typically in the low to mid 20s celsius.

But not this August or September. There were some of the coldest temperatures in decades during August and finally on 5th September, Darwin recorded the lowest September temperature since records began, 15.1°C., a real cold snap for a tropical location like Darwin. The previous lowest temperature was 16.7°C on the 9th of September 1963." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Russia unlikely to sign Kyoto Protocol in 2003 - deputy minister" - "Moscow, 8 September: It will be hard for Russia to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gas emissions this year, because Russia has a lot of questions about how it would work in practice, Russian Deputy Economic Development and Trade Ministry Mukhamed Tsikanov said on Monday [8 September]." (Prime-TASS news agency)

For the monobrows: "Greenpeace obtains smoking-gun memo: White House/Exxon link" - "Conservative front group may have thanked White House for help in suing EPA" (Greenpeace piece)

"Oil and wildlife 'can co-exist'" - "In a rare tribute to the energy industry, scientists have praised one company's record in exploiting an African oilfield. They say Shell's field has more wild creatures than the surrounding national parks." (BBC News Online)

September 8, 2003

"Doomsday postponed" - "Astronomers have issued the 'all-clear' about asteroid 2003 QQ47, suspected by some to be on a possible collision course with the Earth in just 11 years. If it were to have hit, the 1.2 kilometre-wide (0.75 mile) rock would have caused widespread damage and global climate change. But new data indicates the Earth will be safe on 21 March 2014. In fact it always was." (BBC News Online)

"The conspiracy-theory cynics only confirm their political ignorance" - "Am I being paranoid, or is there a plot afoot to spread conspiracy theories about absolutely everything? If there is, Michael Meacher must be in on it. Having informed us that GM food is a corporate conspiracy, the former Environment Minister now claims that America’s war on terrorism is really a “political smokescreen” concealing a secret right-wing plot.

Meacher suggests that the Bush Administration knew about the September 11 terrorist attacks but allowed 3,000 Americans to be killed in order to create “a convenient pretext” for the Washington hawks’ pre-planned wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The “overriding motive” for this alleged conspiracy was to achieve US domination of the globe and its oil supplies." (Mick Hume, The Times)

"Lester Brown: Deflating the Bubble Economy Before it Bursts" - "We are creating a bubble economy—an economy whose output is artificially inflated by drawing down the earth's natural capital," says Lester R. Brown in his new book, Plan B: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble.

"Each year the bubble grows larger as our demands on the earth expand. The challenge for our generation is to deflate the global economic bubble before it bursts," says Brown, President and Founder of the Earth Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based independent environmental research organization." (Press Release)

"Researchers develop faster, more accurate test for mad cow disease" - "As U.S. consumers seek reassurance that their hamburgers and steaks are free of deadly mad cow disease, researchers at the University of California-San Francisco say they've found a promising solution. They've developed a faster, more reliable test for identifying the disease, possibly even in living cows. Current tests can only detect the disease after the cow dies. The test will be described at the American Chemical Society national meeting in New York on Sept. 7." (American Chemical Society)

"UC Riverside study indicates mosquito coils may cause cancer" - "The mosquito coil made in some Asian countries that people often use to ward off mosquitoes may be releasing cancer-causing smoke, UC Riverside entomologists Bob Krieger, Travis Dinoff, and Xiaofei Zhang report in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The sampled coils were found to contain "S-2" or octachlorodipropyl ether, banned for sale in the United States." (University of California - Riverside)

"Bush quietly gives industry much on environmental list" - "WASHINGTON - The Bush administration eased a series of important environmental regulations in a quiet flurry of late-summer activity, delivering almost every rule change on corporate America's wish list.

In the past few weeks, the administration diluted federal rules governing air pollution from old coal-fired power plants; emissions that cause global warming; ballast water on ships contaminated with foreign species of plants and animals; sales of land tainted with PCBs; drilling for oil and gas on federal land; and scientific studies that underpin federal regulations.

In every case, the business community got what it wanted, and environmentalists got mad.

Administration supporters say the rule changes are in part attempts to eliminate unnecessary government edicts that curtail energy production, discourage investment, hinder the economy or cost jobs." (Knight Ridder News)

"Editorial: Curb CO2 emissions" - "The Bush administration once again is running from the global-warming issue.

The most recent example: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it won't classify carbon dioxide (CO2) as a pollutant, and so it won't regulate how much of the most worrisome greenhouse gas is emitted by factories, power plants and cars.

Parroting the rhetoric of car makers and electric utilities, the EPA essentially said carbon dioxide occurs naturally, so it isn't a pollutant. Yet the agency regulates human-caused emissions of many chemicals that also occur in nature." (Denver Post)

"Malcolm McPhee: Emotion and political noise create a climate of fear and more taxes" - "Gary Taylor's Perspectives article decrying farmers' protests at the planned flatulence tax was at it again - restating climate warming claims as scary facts, creating a climate of fear.

Even usually perceptive commentators such as Colin James seem bewitched: "Is the globe warming? Yes, say almost all scientists ... " (New Zealand Herald)

"All set for Russia to ratify Kyoto pact - minister" - "MOSCOW, Sept 5 - Russia has finalised the documentation needed to ratify the Kyoto protocol, a move that would bring the landmark environmental treaty into force and end years of speculation, a Russian deputy minister said on Friday." (Reuters)

"Nuclear university promotes atom power" - "A new international university has been set up to promote the spread of expertise in nuclear technology across the world. The World Nuclear University was inaugurated by representatives of the global atomic energy industry at a meeting in London, UK." (BBC News Online)

"Bugpower, the energy of the future" - "PARIS - Damnation... your mobile phone, on which your work and social life depend, has become a useless lump of plastic and silicon: the battery is dead.

No problem.

Just reach for the nearest bowl of sugar, flip open the phone, top up the battery with a wee spoonful, give it a little time -- and hey presto, you are connected to the world again.

This sci-fi scenario may lie in the not-too-distant future, thanks to a pair of US-based scientists who say they have invented the world's first efficient "bacterial battery." (AFP)

"Yes, We'll Still Have Bananas!" - "The media often go bananas over a sensational topic, but this time they literally did so. "Yes, We'll Have No Bananas: A Fungal Disease Could Make the Tasty Fruit Extinct Within 10 Years," one newspaper exclaimed. "Bananas In Crisis: We Unpeel the Truth," declared one punny headline, while another detailed: "Why Bananas Are Fighting To Save Their Skins." (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

September 5, 2003

"KFC Chickens Out to PETA" - "A fast-food company that sells fried chicken won't satisfy animal rights activists until they give up their business, yet KFC is still running scared from PETA" (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Judge throws out obesity suit against McDonalds" - "NEW YORK - A federal judge on Thursday threw out a refiled lawsuit against McDonald's Corp., blaming the fast food restaurant chain for obesity and health problems in children.

U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet dismissed the suit that accused McDonald's of misleading the plaintiffs through advertising and other publicity that its food products were nutritious. Sweet had thrown out an earlier version of the suit, but had allowed the plaintiffs to refile the case with new information.

The judge held that nowhere in the new complaint had the plaintiffs said they had seen any of the advertising cited in the suit.

He also said the plaintiffs failed to show an adequate connection between their consumption of McDonald's food and their alleged injuries." (Reuters) [Complete]

Oh dear... "Healthy Livin': Milk does a body good?" - “Got milk?” has become one of the most popular slogans. Rappers, models, athletes and entertainers are wearing the milk mustache to promote to us that milk does a body good. Why is it good for humans to drink another animal’s milk? And why cows’ milk? Why not dog, cat or horse? No doubt milk has calcium, and vitamin D is added to it, but is it healthy for the human body? Let’s see what’s really good with milk.

Growth Hormones (rBGH) – The bovine growth hormone is injected into cows to force them to produce more milk and to grow larger faster. This hormone makes the cows sick. Then they are given antibiotics (medicine). The milk from these cows is used in ice cream, yogurt, cheese, baked goods and many other processed foods. Not only are you consuming hormones, you are also consuming the medicine they are given. This causes weight gain, breast, colon and prostate cancers, early menstruation in girls and an increased chance of getting diabetes." (San Francisco Bay View)

"Pentagon spends millions seeking environmentally friendly bullets" - "The Pentagon is spending millions of dollars to develop "environmentally friendly" lead-free bullets for all of the US Armed Forces.

They will still kill you, the thinking seems to be, but the environment will not suffer so much. "[With lead bullets], there is a cost in health, human safety and clean-up," said Bob DiMichele, a spokesman for the US Army's environmental centre. "This is not a fire-and-forget kind of thing. Eventually, we have to pay somebody to go out there and clean up that lead." (Independent)

"Pity the poor, struggling middle classes: they've got a bad case of luxury fever" - "As maladies go, it does not, at first glance, appear the most difficult to bear. Even the name - luxury fever - carries a certain aspirational panache. But the desire of Britons to ape celebrity lifestyles while earning altogether more modest incomes is leading, according to research, to a perverse delusion: the belief we are poor when we have never had it so good.

Despite relatively high incomes, the majority of Britons consider themselves little better off than the struggling poor. In a study by an academic at the university of Cambridge, more than 60% of people said they could not afford to buy everything they really need." (The Guardian)

"Wilting in the heat: the woodlands in desperate need of foreign implants" - "Our native trees are unable to cope with dry spells, as shown by their yellowing leaves - and experts are preparing a drastic solution" (Independent)

No wonder they believe empirically unsupported hypotheses like enhanced greenhouse, The Indy still can't figure +5°C:

"... Only these heat-resistant trees can cope with the rigours of climate change that could see temperatures rise by 5C (41F) this century."

While ambient 5°C can indeed be expressed as 41°F, increasing ambient temp by 5°C equates to 9°F increase, not 41°F. The freezing point of water (at sea level) is 0°C but 32°F, which has apparently confused The Indy. So, here's the deal guys, you don't have to worry about such nasty complexities as C.9/5+32=F (which will convert °C ambient temps to the Fahrenheit scale) when figuring degrees change - just multiply °C by 1.8 and you have °F. Simple, isn't it? Come on fellas.

"Natural Global Warming" - "Earlier this summer, the Bush White House just directed a major rewrite of an Environmental Protection Agency report on global warming to emphasize the uncertainties surrounding climate change—thereby incurring both political and activist wrath. Why?

Because of new science that has arrived during Bush's term in office." (Dennis T. Avery, American Outlook)

"World weather prompts new look at Kyoto" - "KYOTO, Japan — While abnormal weather conditions play havoc around the globe, many residents of this ancient capital are calling for the early enforcement of a protocol to counter climate degradation." (The Washington Times)

"Governors and Greens Au Groton" - "Early this month the Maine Public Policy Institute is sending me down to the New England Governors/Eastern Canadian Premiers confab at the Mystic Marriott in Groton, Connecticut to test the state policy network motto: ideas have consequences.

I'm carrying a letter to the Governors and Premiers from a coalition of New England and Canadian free-market think tanks regarding continued efforts to implement the 2001 Climate Change Agreement (CCA). The CCA is an international and interstate agreement based on the unratified and Bush administration-rejected Kyoto Protocol. The CCA can be accessed at http://www.cleanair-coolplanet.org.  The reader may speculate as to why this official document is available on a green NGO site but not at http:///www.negc.org." (Jon Reisman, TCS)

"U.S. sets its own pace on climate" - "James R. Mahoney, Ph.D., director of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) and assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, spoke to reporter Takehiko Kambayashi about the CCSP program." (The Washington Times)

"Active Fungus May Affect Global Warming - Study" - "WASHINGTON - Tiny fungi that live under the Rocky Mountain snowpack get busy reproducing in the winter and may affect global warming, U.S. scientists said yesterday.

They said they found a winter wonderland of fungal species, including many new to science, under the snow of a high-altitude Colorado meadow.

Unlike most life, which hibernates or hunkers down in the winter, these fungi proliferate - creating measurable amounts of nitrogen and carbon dioxide, the researchers said." (Reuters) | New Colorado U. study shows increase in fungal metabolism under the snow (University of Colorado at Boulder)

"Plan to bury CO2 under North sea" - "Plan to bury CO2 emissions beneath North sea: Ministers are considering piping carbon dioxide waste from power stations and pumping it beneath the seabed in an attempt to meet greenhouse gas targets, reports David Adam. Green groups say the plan is expensive, hazardous, and the technology unproven." (The Guardian)

"Brazil GMO bill may go to Congress next week" - "RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - The government's long-delayed draft bill on genetically modified crops may be sent to Congress next week, but more time may be needed, government officials said yesterday." (Reuters)

September 4, 2003

"EPA urges look at lower soot limits" - "Scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency are urging the government to consider imposing stricter limits on the level of soot in the nation's air because evidence shows that soot contributes to sickness and death at its current level." (USA TODAY)

"Body offers obesity drugs clues" - "Scientists have identified two substances which tell the body to stop eating - and say they could be used to treat obesity. UK researchers say "topping-up" levels of a hormone produced by the gut could reduce the appetite of overweight people. A second study found a fatty acid is also involved in regulating hunger. But experts said the best way to lose weight was still to eat sensibly and exercise regularly." (BBC News Online)

"Study Casts Doubt on Theory of Vaccines' Link to Autism" - "A new study from Denmark tends to discount widely held fears that a mercury-based preservative formerly used in childhood vaccines may be responsible for the rapid rise in diagnoses of autism.

In the study, published this week in the journal Pediatrics, a team of Danish doctors counted all the diagnoses of autism in the country from 1971 to 2000. They found no decrease after 1992, when Denmark became the first country in the world to ban the preservative, thimerosal.

Rather, autism diagnoses continued to skyrocket on the same trajectory that began in the late 1980's, rising from less than one case per 10,000 Danish youngsters in 1990 to more than three a decade later." (New York Times)

"Protected Areas Can Pose Jumbo Problems" - "MARAKELE NATIONAL PARK, South Africa - Take a piece of the African bush, enclose it with a fence and let the world's largest land mammal reproduce as it pleases. After a while, you will have a jumbo-sized problem on your hands. Southern Africa has a major elephant issue and it's not one that animal welfare groups in the West like to highlight." (Reuters)

"Americans among most misinformed about global warming" - "Despite huge differences in all kinds of resources, citizens of poorer developing countries have essentially the same level of knowledge about the sources of global warming as citizens of richer developed countries -- and that level isn't very high." (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

How sad for the high priests of catastrophic anthropogenic enhanced-greenhouse (a.k.a. "global warming") that fewer than one-sixth of the US population accept the dogma of fossil fuel use toasting the planet. Despite the billions spent on indoctrination campaigns, that's no greater deluded proportion of the population than may be found in semi-literate least developed countries. Must be quite disheartening for the poor dears.

Here's a good one: "Just Hot Air" - "Jeffery Holmstead, the EPA's assistant administrator for air quality (and former chemical industry type), announced Thursday that his agency will no longer regulate the emission of Carbon Dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas fingered as a main cause of global warming. The announcement marks the latest environmental assault from the Bush administration.

The EPA's refusal to classify CO2 as a pollutant allows for the unrestricted emission of the gas by automakers, oil companies, and automobiles. Scientists and environmentalists were appalled by the decision. Andrew Gumbel of London's Independent quotes a climate change expert from the advocacy group Environmental Defense: "'Saying that carbon dioxide does not cause global warming is like refusing to say smoking causes lung cancer.'" (Mother Jones) [em added]

"Scientists sound new climate change warning" - "Climate change in the Alps, Africa and Asia is melting glaciers with serious effects for water supplies, according to a report today. Dr Stephan Harrison, from Oxford University, told the annual conference in London of the Royal Geographical Society and the Institute of British Geographers: “The recent heatwave in Europe has served to highlight once again the potentially devastating effects of climate change." (Ireland Online)

"Melting glaciers spell water crisis" - "Temperature changes and lack of snow are causing 90% of the world's glaciers to retreat and some to disappear completely, with potentially catastrophic consequences for communities." (The Guardian)

"Ocean may sponge up some warmth over next 50 years" - "NASA's improved global climate computer model, which simulates and projects how the Earth's climate may change, indicates that the oceans have been absorbing heat since 1951 and will continue to absorb more heat from the atmosphere over the next 50 years. This increasing ocean heat storage suggests that global surface temperatures may warm less than previous studies projected, while the ocean acts as a bigger heat sponge. Further, such additional ocean heating would likely change regional climate patterns." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office)

"Portugal Cuts Heatwave Death Toll" - "LISBON - Portugal's death toll during August's record heat was less than half an initial estimate of 1,316, the health minister said Wednesday. An examination of death certificates showed that only four people were confirmed as dying from the high heat, Health Minister Luis Filipe Pereira told parliament." (Reuters)

"Icy Weather a Sign of Climate Change?" - "THE icy weather that gripped SA last week caused by a cold front sweeping from Western Cape up the country could be a direct effect of global warming and an early sign of climate change hitting SA. Western Cape's winter this year was characterised by the late arrival of rain, temperatures of more than 30°C and snow. Scientists believe that these extreme fluctuations are consistent with the greenhouse effect." (Business Day (Johannesburg))

"States to sue EPA over carbon dioxide decision" - "HARTFORD, Conn. -- Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine are taking the Environmental Protection Agency to federal appeals court over the agency's decision not to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

The EPA said last week that it lacked authority from Congress to regulate the gases, and denied a petition by several organizations to impose new controls on vehicles' greenhouse gas emissions blamed for contributing to global warming.

The attorneys general of the three New England states said Wednesday that the new EPA ruling contradicts earlier statements and testimony by agency officials. They also said the ruling was made in the context of pending litigation." (Associated Press)

"Digging deep for an answer to global warming" - "NEW HAVEN, W.Va. - Concerned that carbon dioxide from power-plant smokestacks is causing global warming, scientists are studying an upside-down kind of solution: Pumping the gas deep underground. In the shadow of the towering Mountaineer plant here, workers last month finished drilling a hole nearly two miles deep into West Virginia sandstone. Elsewhere, researchers are looking at storing the problematic gas in the deep ocean, in unminable coal seams, and even in prairie grass. So in a sort of environmental symmetry, waste from burning coal, oil and other fuels would be sent back to the earth from which it came." (Philadelphia Inquirer)

"UK government commission wants airlines to pay for noise and pollution" - "In short: In a report to the British government, the UK Commission for Integrated Transport recommends the introduction of an EU-wide carbon dioxide emissions charge for European airlines." (EurActiv.com)

"Pollution looms, minister warns China" - "BEIJING — Pollution could kill substantial numbers of children if China goes ahead with an extraordinarily ambitious plan to quadruple its economy by 2020, Environment Minister David Anderson warned Chinese students yesterday.

At the start of a 10-day tour of the world's most populous country, the federal minister urged China to develop new technology to prevent a drastic worsening of pollution.

He joined a chorus of environmental experts who have voiced alarm at Beijing's official goal of quadrupling the size of its economy within the next 17 years." (Globe and Mail)

"Greenpeace/FOE report on GM corn in Spain" - "This recent report makes claims about the impact of using GM maize in Spain, some of which differ from the findings of the report ‘The farm level impact of using Bt maize in Spain’ (2002) by Graham Brookes.

Interested parties should note that the Greenpeace/FOE report does not accurately reflect mainstream commercial experience of using Bt maize by Spanish farmers." (BioPortfolio.com)

September 3, 2003

"Progress shown in death rates from four leading cancers decline in overall mortality has slowed" - "Death rates from the four most common cancers – lung, breast, prostate, and colorectal – continued to decline in the late 1990s according to new data from the "Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2000." For all cancers combined, the death rate began to stabilize in the late 1990s, showing neither an increase nor a decrease, while the incidence rate (newly diagnosed cases) began to stabilize in the middle of the decade." (NIH/National Cancer Institute)

"Test will show which smokers face lung cancer death" - "SCIENTISTS have solved the mystery of why some smokers get lung cancer while others escape — and developed a blood test to identify those most at risk.

They have found a genetic variation that makes some smokers ten times as likely as others to get the disease. It also explains why non-smokers are vulnerable. The explanation, says Zvi Livneh of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, is that some people are better at repairing smoking-related damage to their DNA than others.

The blood test, which could be available in three to four years, measures how good the repair mechanism is and determines the risks of contracting cancer. The figures are remarkable: a smoker with a poor DNA repair mechanism is more than 200 times more likely to get lung cancer than a non-smoker with good DNA repair. Among non-smokers, the weaker gene raises the risk by more than 13 times." (The Times)

"Markets Reward Eco-Terror. So Let's Fix Them" - "Eco-terrorists recently torched an auto dealership to protest big American cars. Unless intelligently countered, such economic terrorism might succeed in furthering the terrorists' environmental crusade.

Giving in to terrorists encourages them. Unfortunately, markets automatically respond to eco-terrorism by doing exactly what the terrorists want. If, for example, SUV dealerships were subject to a significant risk of arson, their insurance rates would rise, which would in turn raise the price of SUVs and therefore result in Americans driving fewer big cars.

We need to change economic cause and effect to stop the market from rewarding environmental terrorism. I propose that the government fully compensate individuals and businesses for all losses caused by eco-terrorists. The money for this compensation should come from the Environmental Protection Agency's business oversight budget or from selling federal land to mining companies. Under either financing plan, eco-terrorism wouldn't increase the price of goods the terrorists dislike, but rather would cause the government to act in ways they detest." (James D. Miller, TCS)

No silly season would be complete without: "Asteroid threat to future of Earth" - "A NEW asteroid threat has been identified by astronomers, in the shape of a giant rock, three-quarters of a mile wide, that could hit the Earth with the impact of eight million atomic bombs on 21 March, 2014." (The Scotsman)

More realistically: "The odds on Armageddon shorten to 909,000-to-1" - " An asteroid large enough to wipe out a continent could collide with the Earth in 11 years, astronomers said yesterday." ( Mark Henderson, The Times)

"Fluorinated gases: industry and NGOs disagree on the availability of alternatives" - "In short: First reactions from industry representatives and environmental NGOs on the Commission's regulation on fluorinated gases show differences of opinion on the use of alternatives." (EurActiv.com)

A 1200-Year History of Total Solar Irradiance: What can it tell us about the nature of the Modern Warm Period in which we currently live? (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
Medieval Warm Period (Europe): Climate alarmists have gone to great lengths over the past few years to try to convince the world that the earth is currently a much warmer place than it was at any other time during the past millennium.  The Medieval Warm Period is thus a major embarrassment to them; and they have consequently decreed that it never occurred over most of the planet, and that where it did occur, it was really not all that warm.  A growing body of real-world data, however, suggests otherwise; and in this summary we report on some of the recent pertinent results that have come out of Europe. (co2science.org)

Transpiration: How would earth's plants likely deal with water shortages in a CO 2 -enriched world of the future that might also be a bit warmer than it is now? (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: Cantaloupe, Kentucky Bluegrass, Paper Birch, Sugar Maple and White Potato. (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
The Incredible Regularity of Periodic Abrupt Climate Change: The author analyzes what he calls the "mystery 1,500-year cycle" of glacial-period Dansgaard-Oeschger warming events, which mystery, in his words, is "one of the key issues in climatology that needs to be explained."  His findings go a long way towards doing so; and their implications reach all the way to the ongoing debate about the climatic effects of the ongoing rise in the air's CO 2 content. (co2science.org)

Does Global Warming Enhance the Planet's Monsoon Circulations?: Climate models say it should.  Real-world data, however, suggest otherwise. (co2science.org)

Snow Water Equivalent of the Western Colorado Snowpack: How has it varied over the past several centuries? (co2science.org)

Growth and Root Chemistry Responses of Paper Birch and Sugar Maple to Atmospheric CO 2 Enrichment: What are they?  And what are their ramifications? (co2science.org)

The Photosynthetic Response of Muskmelon to Increases in the Air's Temperature and CO 2 Concentration: Studies conducted in China suggest positive responses to both of these environmental changes. (co2science.org)

"Brussels rejects bid for ban on GM crops" - "The European Commission set a new benchmark yesterday in the controversy over genetically modified food by refusing to allow a local ban on GM crops in Austria.

Upper Austria had applied for the ban, arguing that local farmers wanted to protect organic and traditional agricultural production and to avoid the risk of cross-fertilisation between GM and non-GM plants.

But in a ruling which could have implications for the whole of Europe, the EU executive said that EU law only allowed such a move if there was new scientific evidence or a specific justification by the place involved." (Daily Telegraph, UK)

September 2, 2003

"Scientists hook the identity of mercury in fish, Science study says" - "The mercury in our swordfish steaks and tuna sandwiches may not be as harmful as many people think, according to a new study. Many of the fish we eat collect mercury in a form that may be less harmful than the mercury compounds that are used to model the toxic properties of fish." (American Association for the Advancement of Science)

"Sprawling Cities, Higher Scales" - "NEW YORK - When cities spread out, so do waistlines and rear ends. For proof, you can visit Charleston, W.Va., or Fort Wayne, Ind.--the U.S. cities with the highest obesity rates, both with less than 3,000 people per square mile. Or you can refer to recent studies published in the American Journal of Public Health and the American Journal of Health Promotion.

These are the findings of a recent study that conclude that cities where people drive to work, school and the food court at the mall contribute significantly to obesity in America. While the results of the study may seem obvious, they do provide support for urban planners who have long argued that denser communities are healthier because they foster social interaction, because they are--despite appearances--more environmentally friendly, and because they encourage more day-to-day physical activity." (Dan Ackman, Forbes) | More sprawl means more weight and less walking (Center for the Advancement of Health)

And this would be because people in high density housing... ...shovel more snow? ...do more yard work/maintain larger gardens? ...have better access to walking/running trails? ...wait less time for public transport? ...have less disposable income with which to indulge themselves? ...are under such crowding stress that they lose weight? ...are considered more eco-correct?

Meanwhile: UNC study: Trails, places to exercise, streetlights can boost activity levels (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

"Chewing the fad" - "In death, as in life, Dr Robert Atkins cheated the po-faced medical community. Everyone wanted him to die of a huge coronary meltdown, but no, he slipped on the pavement and banged his head. Atkins-refuseniks had to admit that in the ultimate test case there is no retribution whatever for a carbohydrate-free life (apart from my friend, who mooted the possibility that there had been some butter on the pavement, and had there been a cracker underneath, Atkins would have been OK)." (Zoe Williams, The Guardian)

"EPA lifts ban on selling PCB sites" - "WASHINGTON — The Bush administration has ended a 25-year-old ban on the sale of land polluted with PCBs. The ban was intended to prevent hundreds of polluted sites from being redeveloped in ways that spread the toxin or raise public health risks.

The Environmental Protection Agency decided the ban was "an unnecessary barrier to redevelopment (and) may actually delay the clean-up of contaminated properties," according to an internal memo issued last month to advise agency staff of the change." (USA TODAY)

"Testicular Cancer Risk Set Early in Life" - "NEW YORK - The risk of testicular cancer is established in large part by environmental exposures early in life, results of a new study suggest, although the researchers admit that at this point they aren't exactly sure what type of exposures increase the risk." (Reuters)

This states unequivocally that the researchers lack a good hypothesis - I agree.

"PETA Gets Personal in Campaign Against KFC" - "NEW YORK - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is getting personal in its campaign to force fast-food chain KFC, a unit of Yum Brands Inc., to raise the living and dying conditions of the chickens it sells. PETA, known for its relentless and celebrity-heavy campaigns, has begun sending volunteers to meet with Chief Executive David Novak's neighbors, pastor, country club, even the manager at his local Italian restaurant." (Reuters)

"Analysis of stratospheric air resolves enigma of hydrogen balance in Earth's atmosphere" - "Scientists think they know all sources and sinks for hydrogen gas on Earth, from fossil fuel burning to soil microbes, but the numbers don't balance. Two different methods of measuring hydrogen give different answers. A new measurement of hydrogen isotopes in stratospheric air finally resolves the conflict and balances the Earth's hydrogen budget. This will help in assessing the impact of hydrogen leaking into the atmosphere if we move to a hydrogen fuel economy. (University of California - Berkeley)

"[Japan] TEPCO says not over power supply worries yet" - "TOKYO - Tokyo Electric Power Co, Japan's biggest power utility, said on yesterday the coolest summer in a decade had helped it avoid power shortages but continued nuclear shutdowns could keep power supply tight in coming months." (Reuters)

"Hot summer sparks global food crisis" - "This summer's heatwave has drastically cut harvests across Europe, plunging the world into an unprecedented food crisis, startling new official figures show.

Separate calculations by two leading institutions monitoring the global harvest show that the scorching weather has severely reduced European grain production, ensuring that the world will not produce enough to feed itself for the fourth year in succession, and plunging stocks to the lowest level on record. And experts predict that the damage to crops will be found to be even greater when the full cost of the heat is known.

They say that, as a result, food prices will rise worldwide, and hunger will increase in the world's poorest countries. And they warn that this is just a foretaste of what will happen as global warming takes hold." (Independent)

Really? The endlessly wet summer (The Star-Ledger); Happy ending to middling summer weather (Buffalo News); Indian Desert State Turns Green After Monsoon Bounty (Reuters); Rains spring a surprise, beat forecast by 7% (Economic Times); Cool summer could beget worst rice harvest since 1993 (Japan Times)... doesn't look like a hot Europe a planetary heatwave makes. In fact, it wasn't even the whole of Europe that was above average temperature.

"Son et Lumière Over French Heat Wave" - "With over 10,000 deaths ascribed in France to the recent European heat wave, the finger-pointing has begun. Many of these fingers are pointing at the French government, others at global warming. Yet when the issue is put in perspective, responsibility probably lies elsewhere and the solution, which would save many if not most of those lives, lies in learning, quelle domage, from America." (Iain Murray, TCS)

Misguided mayors: "State must protect our climate now" - "GLOBAL WARMING -- which is better termed climate change or climate disruption -- is the most critical environmental threat facing the planet. Despite the US government's failure to address the issue, in 2001 the Northeast Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers committed our region to reducing greenhouse gas emissions -- most important, carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels.

Under this agreement, Massachusetts must adopt its own climate protection plan, and this plan has been in process for years. It is past time for the state to release a document that meets our regional commitments and does our part in meeting the reduction target set by the international Kyoto Protocol." (David Cohen and Timothy P. Murray, Boston Globe)

Mann, of course: "Earth hits '2,000-year warming peak'" - "The Earth appears to have been warmer since 1980 than at any time in the last 18 centuries, scientists say." (BBC News Online) | Not just warmer: it's the hottest for 2,000 years (The Guardian)

"The new inquisition tightens its grip" - "The organised assault on doubters about the true religion is now reaching an extraordinary pitch. Last month we remarked on the double attack in The Times on Philip Stott, who had inadvertently been allowed to voice dissent in its Thunderer column. Even more ferocious was the aggression directed at Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas, who had the temerity to introduce scientific evidence into the discussion of the global warming dogma. The targets for character assassination included Chris de Freitas, the editor of Climate Research that published the paper, who was criticized for "having failed in his responsibilities of quality control", even though the paper passed an extensive peer-review process." (NumberWatch)

"Bjorn Lomborg's Groundhog Day" - "In the often hilarious movie Groundhog Day, a petty, narrow-minded character played by comedic actor Bill Murray lives the same day over and over and over again. He goes to sleep at night and when he wakes up in the morning, it's the same day: Every day is yesterday. The Danish academic, Bjorn Lomborg, author of the international best-seller, The Skeptical Environmentalist, seems caught up in a similar time vortex, only in his case it is brought on by the pettiness of his critics." (Nick Schulz, TCS)

Letter of the moment: "Climate change a continuous cycle" - "Regarding the letter "Global warming is real" (Aug. 20), David Mapes' statement that "the Earth has never encountered such dramatic changes in temperature" before now is incorrect." (Chuck F Wiese, The Oregonian)

"Global warmings before storm" - "CLIMATE change means insurance companies face paying out for a megastorm that could dwarf the 1999 Sydney hailstorm, the most expensive natural disaster in Australian history, Insurance Australia Group's risk manager Tony Coleman believes." (The Courier-Mail)

"US says CO2 is not a pollutant" - "The Bush administration has decreed that carbon dioxide from industrial emissions - the main cause of global warming - is not a pollutant. The decision by the Environmental Protection Agency - announced with minimal fanfare on the eve of the Labor Day weekend - reverses the stance taken under President Clinton and allows industry to increase emissions with impunity." (Independent)

"E.P.A. Says It Lacks Power to Regulate Some Gases" - "WASHINGTON, Aug. 28 — The Environmental Protection Agency said today that it did not have the legal authority to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases under the Clean Air Act. The act "does give us authority to do research on climate change, not to issue regulation," said Jeffrey R. Holmstead, the assistant administrator who oversees air programs. "Where there is a major public policy issue, Congress needs to decide." (New York Times)

"[Australia] Climate strategy essential: report" - "The economy will be hurt by the Howard Government's failure to implement an effective climate change strategy, according to a report to the Business Council of Australia. The report, which will be sent to Australia's top 100 companies this month for debate, says restricting greenhouse emissions would be less damaging to the economy than the "uncertainty" created by the Federal Government's current voluntary greenhouse reduction measures. At a cabinet meeting last Tuesday, Prime Minister John Howard rejected advice from Treasury and the Department of Environment to establish a national system of "carbon trading." (The Age)

"Pollution Cited as Factor in French Heat Deaths" - "PARIS - Air pollution may have been the cause of death for thousands of French people who died in a heatwave that struck Europe this August, an environmental official said yesterday." (Reuters)

"States to Fight Relaxation of Power-Plant Pollution Standards" - "A day after the Bush administration issued new rules that will relax pollution-control regulations for thousands of power plants and factories, environmental groups and state officials across the Northeast began preparing legal challenges to the policy shift." (New York Times)

"Dartmouth bioengineers develop humanized yeast" - "Bioengineers at Dartmouth have genetically engineered yeast to produce humanized therapeutic proteins to address the manufacturing crunch currently confronting the biopharmaceutical industry. Reported in this week's issue of Science, the researchers have re-engineered the yeast P. pastoris to secrete a complex human glycoprotein--a process offering significant advantages over current production methods using mammalian cell lines, according to the researchers." (Dartmouth College)

"Poll: NY residents split on biotechnology in food and agriculture" - "A survey of New York state residents on the use of biotechnology in food and agriculture finds the public almost evenly split between those who oppose its use, those who favor it and those who are undecided. The findings were among the results of a survey on biotechnology as part of the 2003 Empire State Poll, an ongoing poll of New Yorkers' views conducted by the Survey Research Institute at Cornell's School of ILR School." (Cornell University News Service)

"Farmers needs are key to acceptance of new crops" - "New agricultural crops stand a better chance of helping to fill the world's bread baskets, says a University of Maine economist, if plant breeders take farmers' needs into account early in the crop development process. A new research report by Timothy J. Dalton, assistant professor in the Dept. of Resource Economics and Policy, is one of the first to demonstrate farmers' preferences using a quantitative approach." (University of Maine)

"Few Filipino farmers know of the benefits of golden rice" - "It is not that Filipino farmers don't want to grow genetically engineered "golden rice." It's just that most have never heard of it, says a Cornell communications researcher in the latest issue of the journal Nature Biotechnology (Correspondence, Sept. 1, 2003)." (Cornell University News Service)

"WTO to probe Europe's GMO policy" - "The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has agreed to examine complaints about European restrictions on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), trade officials in Geneva have said." (BBC News Online)

"EU to rule on Austrian plan for GMO-free region" - "BRUSSELS - The European Commission will rule this week on Austria's request to ban farmers in one region of the country from growing genetically-modified (GM) crops, officials said yesterday." (Reuters)