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Archives - September 2005

September 30, 2005

"EPA Rules Raise Gas Prices" - "We’re all feeling pain at the gas pump these days. So that we don’t pay even higher prices in the future, President Bush and Congress should get a grip on the junk science-fueled Environmental Protection Agency." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

Free Enterprise Action Fund Warns Business Roundtable Member Companies To Focus On Real Business Growth Strategies, Not ‘Feel-Good’ Public Relations Stunts - “We are concerned that the BRT’s CEOs seem to be more interested in public relations exercises of little real value than tackling the tougher challenges of real business growth,” said Steven Milloy, managing partner of AFM and lead portfolio manager for the Free Enterprise Action Fund (FEAF). (PRWeb)

"Commercial motive hinted at in restrictions on DDT" - "The FT runs a piece based on AFM's recent media advisory which uncovers the fact that Bayer Crop Sciences supports EU protectionism which is stopping countries from using DDT in malaria control." (AFM)

"Why are the best malaria drugs not being used in Africa?" - "Despite changes in policy in many African countries, most cases of malaria are still treated with old drugs that often fail, say researchers in this week's BMJ." (BMJ-British Medical Journal)

"Pandemic 'could kill 150m people'" - "A leading United Nations official has warned there could be a new influenza outbreak at any time which could kill up to 150 million people. Dr David Nabarro said the influenza pandemic was likely to be caused by a mutation of the virus that is currently causing bird flu in Asia." (BBC)

"Shaky Science at Harvard: The School of Public Health goes Hollywood" - "Why is the Harvard School of Public Health bestowing its most prestigious award on Erin Brockovich? The dean of the school, Barry Bloom, says that it is "for her efforts on behalf of all of us, and especially the residents of Hinckley, California, whose health was adversely affected by toxic substances dumped by a utility company."

That certainly is the movie version (made in 2000) of the case in which California's PG&E utility company paid a $333 million settlement in 1996 after a lawsuit launched by the firm where Ms. Brockovich worked. Then, as now, she claimed that chromium 6 in the local water supply had sickened the inhabitants of Hinckley--even the "bunnies"--with results ranging from nosebleeds to cancer and death.

Yet the dean of the Harvard School of Public Health presumably does not rely solely on Hollywood for factual information about environmental poisoning. And so far the scientific literature reveals no studies that back up claims about the sickening effects of chromium 6 in the water of Hinckley or any other town. Indeed, the infamous lawsuit--which never endured the rigors of a trial--is regarded in serious circles as a classic example of junk science. With this particular award, the Harvard School's reputation for sound science is hovering over the Dumpster." (Opinion Journal)

"What's the Evidence for and Acrylamide and Cancer Link?" - "The major source of bad science on the issue of acrylamide and cancer has been the Center for Science and the Public Interest and its Executive Director Michael Jacobson. As the first word came out about the presence of acrylamide in America's food a few years ago, Jacobson said that acrylamide would be expected to "significantly increase the risk of cancer in humans." He also claimed that acrylamide was responsible for "thousands of cancers" and "thousands of deaths" annually." (John Luik, TCS) [Editor's note: This is part II in a series on the latest acrylamide and cancer scare. To read part I, click here.]

"PBDEs overtaking PCBs" - "The first evidence emerges that a substantial portion of the population may have higher levels of PBDEs than PCBs" (Environmental Science & Technology)

"Health services not meeting obesity challenge" - "LONDON - Healthcare systems have failed to come to grips with the global obesity epidemic and its serious health consequences, leading experts said on Friday. More than a billion people, 10 percent of whom are children, worldwide are obese or overweight. It is the sixth most important risk factor in the overall burden of disease. But there are no co-ordinated efforts among doctors, nurses, and nutritionists to prevent people from piling on the pounds or to help those who already have, the experts said. "No health-service system has yet developed a useful strategy for managing the huge numbers of overweight and obese people in the community," said David Halsam, of the National Obesity Forum, UK, and Philip James, of the International Obesity Task Force." (Reuters)

"Obesity may be advantage after heart attack" - "NEW YORK - Being overweight or obese, compared with being normal weight or very obese, appears to confer a survival advantage following a heart attack or near heart attack -- collectively called acute coronary syndrome." (Reuters Health)

"House Passes Bill That Would Revise Endangered Species Act" - "The House passed legislation yesterday that could greatly expand private-property rights under the Endangered Species Act, the 1973 law that is credited with helping keep the bald eagle from extinction but that has also provoked bitter opposition. By a vote of 229 to 193, lawmakers approved a revision of the act, perhaps the nation's most powerful environmental law. The law has led to battles over species such as the Northern spotted owl, the snail darter and the red-legged frog." (Associated Press)

Maud Barlow, et al? Sheesh! "And the Alternative Nobel Prize Goes To..." - "WASHINGTON, Sep 29 - Social activists from Mexico, Malaysia, Botswana and Canada have won the 2005 "Right Livelihood Award", an honour meant to celebrate groups and individuals who show outstanding vision and work on behalf of the natural world and its people." (IPS)

"Canada doing poor job on environment, watchdog says" - "OTTAWA - Canadians are being forced to drink unsafe water, fish stocks are endangered and national parks are under threat because Ottawa is doing a very poor job of protecting the environment, according to an official report issued on Thursday. The stinging document by Johanne Gelinas, Canada's environment commissioner, makes grim reading for a Liberal government already under fire for what critics say is its patchy environmental record. Gelinas said government initiatives on ensuring sustainable development were regularly undermined by bad management." (Reuters)

"Wild salmon stocks leap by 40%" - "THE King of Fish has made a dramatic comeback to Scotland's rivers just 12 months after wild salmon stocks were feared to be in irreversible decline. The total catch has gone from the worst on record since 1952 to the second-highest annual catch - a major boost for the country's £73 million angling industry." (The Scotsman)

"Katrina's $50bn bill is biggest in history" - "Hurricane Katrina is the costliest disaster ever, causing the insurance industry up to $50bn in losses, according to the chief executive of Brit Insurance." (London Independent)

Let's see, the insurance industry involves taking money against perceived risks (called "premiums"), does it not? And if the risks did not exist, neither would the industry, no?

"Global Warming Didn't Generate Storms" - "Activists who blame Katrina on global warming may gain short-term publicity, but risk losing long-term credibility." (CEI)

"Hurricanes Unrelated to Global Warming" - "That global warming is causing more intense hurricanes is rejected by the leading hurricane experts." (CEI)

"Satellites continue to see decline in Arctic sea ice in 2005" - "Researchers from NASA, the National Snow and Ice Data Center and others using satellite data have detected a significant loss in Arctic sea ice this year." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office)

"What About Antarctic Sea Ice Trends?" - "There is considerable media attention on Arctic sea ice trends, as we have discussed in our last few weblogs. The Independent highlights their latest news release as “Sea ice melts to record low because of global warming“. If this news article were accurate, and it is global warming (i.e., a global scale warming) that is causing the well below average summer ice cover in the Arctic, as documented at http://nsidc.org/data/smmr_ssmi_ancillary/regions/total_arctic.html#nsidc, we would also expect to see reductions of the Antarctic sea ice coverage (a large portion of which melts in the summer and then refreezes in the winter). For the period 1973-2002 we examined this issue and found no trend over time in Antarctic sea ice coverage (see Figures 8 and 9a in Pielke et al. 2004). A NASA press release from August 2002 reported on “Satellites show overall increases in Antarctic sea ice cover.”

Trend analyses to near the current time of Antarctic sea ice area and extent anomalies are available from The National Snow and Ice Data Center’s website . In their data, a continued increase in the areal coverage of Antarctic sea ice is evident!

Why is this not also reported by the media? In terms of a global warming effect, is the area reduction in the Arctic sea ice compensated by an area increase of sea ice in Antarctica?

The positive trend in the Antarctic, in contrast to the Arctic, raises questions about the causes of the sea ice trend. If it were a “global warming” signal (i.e., “global in extent”), we should expect similar behavior in both hemispheres. However, if warming is the reason for the reduction the area coverage of Arctic sea ice, it is a regional warming effect. As we have emphasized in our weblog, it is on the regional scale that we need to focus our attention with respect to human-caused and natural variations and long-term change of climate. The differences in trends between the Arctic and Antarctic emphasizes that we need a regional focus." (Climate Science)

"Europe braces for its winter of discontent" - "All the weather headlines these days seem to be about global warming. In the past week there have been dire warnings about the rapid shrinkage of the Arctic ice cap and the risk of more intense hurricanes as the world heats up. But there was also a reminder from the UK Meteorological Office that climatic fluctuations will sometimes produce a cooling effect, despite the overall warming. The Met Office warned its customers in government and industry – notably the National Health Service, the Highways Agency and energy companies – to plan for a “colder than average winter” in the British Isles and right across northern Europe into Russia. It would be the first winter for 10 years with temperatures below the long-term average." (Financial Times)

"One worried bear - an apt symbol of the grim news from the Poles from the planet's twin sentinels" - "The white wastes at the Poles are often called the planet's sentinels; they provide an early warning system that will reveal what is in store for the rest of the world. For decades, scientists have predicted that if the effects of global warming took hold, they would first be measurable at the frozen extremes, where the impacts would be felt with a rapidity and intensity unlike anywhere else." (London Telegraph)

"Regional meeting on carbon dioxide emissions ends with no agreement" - "PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A regional effort that would require power plants in the Northeast to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is still in the working stages, with no final agreement imminent, a participant said. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has been working since 2003 on what would be the first multistate plan in the nation to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, considered a leading cause of global warming. Representatives from nine Northeast states concluded two days of meetings on Thursday, and, despite reports that a final agreement may be ready, decided that discussions would continue." (Associated Press)

Sacré bleu! L'émissions des vache! "Belching cows join the Apocalypse" - "France's 20 million cows account for an astonishing 6.5 percent of national greenhouse-gas emissions, according to a researcher at the Climate Mission at the Caisse des Depots, a French state-owned bank." (Agence France-Presse)

"Panel backs offshore gas drilling" - "A House committee voted Wednesday to end long-standing moratoriums that have prevented opening new areas off the coast of California and other states to natural gas development." (Sacramento Bee)

"Picture of hope painted at global petroleum meet" - "The World Petroleum Congress has concluded on a note of reassurance and optimism, with experts sending out the message that there were still plenty of oil and gas reserves and also that efforts were on to reduce emissions. Painting a bright picture of the future, experts at the just concluded congress said countries like Canada and Venezuela still had undeveloped reserves that could be made available in the market at a reasonable cost." (IANS)

"Renewables targets to be set at 20%" - "In Short: Parliament has called for ambitious mandatory targets to increase the share of alternative energy sources in the EU to 20% by 2020. The report outlines specific initiatives to do away with unfair distortions in the electricity market." (EurActiv)

"Air Travel Could Pay the Cost of Polluting" - "BRUSSELS, Sep 29 - Leading environment groups are backing new European Commission proposals for taxing air travel to limit emissions." (IPS)

Yeah, we just bet they are.

"Airlines, US Cool to EU Emissions Trading Scheme" - "BRUSSELS - International airlines and the United States are giving a cool reception to the European Union's plans to bring aviation into its greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme." (Reuters)

"EU's anti-GM stance is unsustainable, says study" - "29/09/2005 - Europe’s opposition to genetically modified ingredients will significantly increase producers’ costs over the next three years as it becomes ever harder to secure GM-free supplies, says a new report." (FoodNavigator.com)

"Genetics may have saved corn crops" - "The corn harvest after this summer's drought may turn 2005 into a hallmark year in the genetic modification of plants, industry participants said Thursday.

If government predictions are correct, corn production this year will be the second-highest in U.S. history, despite the droughts in major corn-producing states, such as Indiana and Illinois. Corn experts give much credit to the widespread use of corn that has been genetically modified to protect from bugs, making them more resilient to adverse weather conditions." (Medill News Service)

September 29, 2005

Mr. Blair and the reality of globalisation (EnviroSpin Watch)

"German commercial interests kill African children: opposition to DDT increases malaria in Uganda" - "‘We fully support EU to ban imports of agricultural products coming from countries using DDT’ proudly claims Gerhard Hesse, of Bayer Crop Sciences, a division of Bayer AG, the giant German agrochemical and pharmaceutical company. Admitting that ‘DDT use is for us a commercial threat….it is mainly a public image threat,’ Dr. Hesse, business manager of vector control, then expounded a series of half-truths and downright falsehoods, mostly denigrating the use of DDT, in an email exchange with malaria scientists." (AFM)

"Ailing veterans blame their MS on Gulf War" - "As veterans of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, they are among perhaps 450 men and women across the country who blame their multiple sclerosis on that war's poisonous stew." (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

"Phantom Acrylamide Menace" - "Ever since California Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced that he was filing suit against McDonald's, Burger King, Frito-Lay and six other food companies to force them to put warnings about acrylamide on their French fries and potato chips, there has been a rash of stories about the supposed dangers of a chemical that most Americans can't even pronounce." (John Luik, TCS)

"Adult vaccinations are your best shot at staying afloat in a sea of dangerous germs" - "Many adults believe they don't need to worry about vaccinations for themselves. They're just for kids, they say. That attitude worries the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), particularly with flu season just around the corner. The CDC says some adults never got the shots or illnesses they think they had as kids. Their memories may be faulty, some vaccines weren't available back then and immunity to some diseases fades." (Seattle Times)

"Government has no right to discourage, tax or ban junk food: U.S. columnist" - "TORONTO - The amount of junk food Canadians eat, and the pounds they pack on as a result, are personal choices the government has no right to discourage - even if it means some lives will be shortened, a Toronto audience heard Wednesday. "People may very well choose to trade off years of their life, or the possibility of disease or injury, in exchange for the current pleasure, excitement, or stress relief they get (from food)," said Jacob Sullum, a syndicated columnist and senior editor at Reason, a U.S.-based libertarian magazine. "It's not for the government to say that's not a legitimate trade-off to make. Canadians need to question the idea that just because something implicates health that government intervention is justified." (CP)

"Animal activists target children's nursery" - "A children's nursery has become the latest target of animal rights threats, forcing it to stop providing child care vouchers to parents working for the animal testing group Huntingdon Life Sciences." (London Telegraph)

"Endangered Species Act gets listed" - "DAVIS, CALIFORNIA – The Endangered Species Act (ESA) has served the nation well as a last refuge for vanishing species since it was first enacted in 1973. But an effort to scuttle the act is now moving at breakneck speed through the US House of Representatives." (The Christian Science Monitor)

Hmm... sorry Holly, don't agree. No "critter über alles" Act can possibly be claimed to have served the nation well, nor the critters it aims to "protect." What it does is encourage the three "S" response to discovery of "endangered" critters on private land or even commonwealth land adjacent to private holdings. What's the 3S response, you say? Shoot, shovel and shut-up, of course, and a perfectly reasonable human response the way the Act exists. The ESA is a really crappy Act and deserves to be flushed.

"UK: School inspectors to enforce junk food ban" - "School inspectors are to be given a new role of enforcing a Government ban on junk food in schools. Vending machines selling crisps, chocolate and sugary fizzy drinks will be outlawed on school premises in England from next September. At the same time, schools will be banned from serving in canteens low-quality pre-processed burgers and sausages high in fat, salt and sugar." (London Telegraph)

"Ice age, Polar reversal, super volcanic activities, massive earthquakes, Tsunamis, hurricanes – we are in the middle of a deadly 11,500 year cycle" - "According to some geologists and scientists, we are in the middle of a deadly 11,500 year cycle when the ice age comes back. The start of the cycle is marked with Polar reversal, super volcanic activities, massive earthquakes, Tsunamis and nasty hurricanes. 11, 500 years back, the last ice age happened and what we have started experiencing – all happened." (India Daily)

"Venice 'will get protection dam'" - "Controversial plans to build an underwater dam to protect Venice from flooding will go ahead, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said. The 4.5bn euro (£2.9bn) project, dubbed Mose - the Italian name for Moses - is due to be completed by 2011." (BBC)

"Arctic ice 'disappearing quickly'" - "The area covered by sea ice in the Arctic has shrunk for a fourth consecutive year, according to new data released by US scientists. They say that this month sees the lowest extent of ice cover for more than a century. The Arctic climate varies naturally, but the researchers conclude that human-induced global warming is at least partially responsible. They warn the shrinkage could lead to even faster melting in coming years." (BBC) | Fears over climate as Arctic ice melts at record level (The Guardian) | Sea ice melts to record low because of global warming (London Independent) | Arctic ice cap 'will disappear within the century' (London Telegraph) | Sea Ice Decline Intensifies (NSIDC Release)

More on Arctic Sea Ice - The news media releases on Arctic sea ice continue, with caveats buried deep in the articles, if at all. An example of the latest release is from the BBC on September 28th entitled “Arctic ice ‘disappearing fast’.” No mention is made of the need to reconcile the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) Arctic sea ice information with that of the University of Illinois data (see http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/current.anom.jpg for their analysis of long-term trends). The University of Illinois shows the largest negative deviation from the long-term average in 1995. There is no question that there is a long-term decline in areal coverage (since 1973, as we have also documented in Pielke et al. 2003 , which is the time period we have reasonably robust areal coverage data from satellites), and that human climate forcings of all types must be playing some role, however, its temporal trends are more complicated than discussed in the BBC and other media articles. | Media Cherrypicking of the Areal Coverage of Arctic Sea Ice (Climate Science)

"Global warming: Death in the deep-freeze" - "As global warming melts the world's ice sheets, rising sea levels are not the only danger. Viruses hidden for thousands of years may thaw and escape - and we will have no resistance to them. Kate Ravilious reports." (London Independent)

"Air temperatures at Armagh Observatory, Northern Ireland, from 1796 to 2002" - "Abstract: Three independent mean temperature series for Armagh Observatory, covering the period 1796-2002 have been calibrated and corrected for the time of reading and exposure. Agreement between the three series is good in regions of overlap. With a short gap in the Armagh data from 1825 to 1833 filled by data from two stations in Dublin, the resulting series is the longest for the island of Ireland and one of the longest for any single site in the British Isles.

Over the past 207 years, we note that temperatures in Armagh, in all seasons, show a gradual overall trend upwards. However, there are seasonal differences: summer and spring temperatures have increased by only half as much as those in autumn and winter. This is partly due to the exceptionally cold winters and autumns experienced prior to 1820. Relative to the overall trend, warm periods occurred in Ireland, as in other parts of Europe, in the mid-19th century, in the mid-20th century and at the end of the 20th century. Relatively cool temperatures prevailed in the early 19th century, in the 1880s and in the 1970s. Thus, if the baseline against which current temperatures are compared were moved from the late 19th century to include the earlier warm period, the apparent warming at the end of the late 20th century would be correspondingly reduced.

A gradual decline in the daily temperature range at Armagh since 1844 may have resulted from higher minimum temperatures associated with increased cloudiness.

A 7.8 year periodicity is identified in winter and spring mean temperatures at Armagh, which is probably a consequence of the North Atlantic oscillation." (Royal Meteorological Society)

"Michael Crichton, Novelist, Becomes Senate Witness" - "WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 - His last book, "State of Fear," was published more than nine months ago, but the reviews were still pouring in on Wednesday, even as Michael Crichton folded his 6-foot-9-inch frame into a seat to testify before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works." (New York Times) | Novel take on global warming (The Guardian) | Audio: Full committee hearing. A hearing to discuss the role of science in environmental policy making. [requires RealPlayer] (EPW Multimedia)

"Dutch Answer to Flooding: Build Houses that Swim" - "The Dutch are gearing up for climate change with amphibious houses. If rivers rise above their banks, the houses simply rise upwards as well. Such innovation could be good news for hurricane and flood-stunned America. But are water lovers prepared to live on swimming family arks?" (Der Spiegel)

"Sea shells' beauty and peril" - "There's good news and bad news about sea shells. Studies of details as small as a billionth of a meter reveal a structure more sophisticated than any marine biologist had imagined. At the same time, a close look at what increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the air is doing to the sea foreshadows a deadly threat." (The Christian Science Monitor) | Acidic oceans threaten marine food chain (The Guardian)

"Green energy 25-30 pct of world mix by 2050-Shell" - "JOHANNESBURG - Growth in renewable energy sources is robust and they may account for a quarter of global consumption by 2050, an executive with Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

Perhaps - if nukes and hydro are called "green energy."

"Decision on UK nuclear power by end of 2006" - "The government will give a “yes or no” to nuclear power by the end of next year following a decision by Tony Blair to inject “greater urgency” into the nuclear debate." (Financial Times)

"Manure vs. Machine" - "The marketing of "organic" food is where environmentalists and hucksters converge. By most definitions an "organic" product must not contain genetically modified organisms and its production must not involve synthetic chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers. We are supposed to think that organic products are healthier and also better for the environment. However, there is little evidence to support either of those claims. It is true that farmers usually depend on toxic chemical substances in order to keep insects and weeds at bay and it is likewise true that traces of some of these compounds can be found in food and also in humans. However, there is no indication that the measured levels are harmful." (Tomas Brandberg, TCS)

"GM crop impact 'lasts two years'" - "A follow-up to the UK's major trial of genetically modified crops, the Farm Scale Evaluations, finds that impacts on wildlife can persist for two years. The original trial found that spring GM rape and sugar beet were harsher than their conventional equivalents in the short term, while GM maize was better." (BBC)

Wow! Not having a major weed problem means there's less weed seed bank persistent? Just don't know how they figure this stuff out...

"The UN's Biotech for Food Scandal" - "CHIBA, Japan -- John Bolton, the blunt and controversial U.S. ambassador to the UN, has promised "to advance American interests and ideals at the United Nations." During his first two months on the job, Bolton has denounced the United Nations Development Program for its "unacceptable" funding of Palestinian propaganda and publicly identified "countries who are in a state of denial" about the need for UN reform. He told a reporter that he feels "a little like Rod Serling has suddenly appeared and we're writing episodes from 'The Twilight Zone.'"

I'm having a similar experience in Japan as a member of the US delegation to a UN task force on biotechnology-derived foods. The group is a creature of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which sets food standards on behalf of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO)." (Henry I. Miller, TCS)

"Biotechnology debate must remain science-based, says Verheugen" - "The EU Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry, Günter Verheugen, has reiterated the need for an open debate on the benefits of biotechnology and the ethical questions surrounding it, but insisted that such a dialogue must remain science-based." (Cordis)

"Genetically modified rice set for go-ahead" - "China could be the first country in the world to approve genetically modified (GM) rice. The State Agricultural GM Crop Biosafety Committe, the technical body which evaluates GM rice for research and marketing, is likely to meet in November, according to insiders - and Chinese scientists are confident of the progress they have made." (China Daily)

September 28, 2005

Utterly disgusting: "ENVIRONMENTAL SUPERHEROES" - "Drama is a unique way to connect children with their textbooks. That's why a play on the achievements of Rachel Carson might be coming to classroom near you. The Great Lake Radio Consortium's Lisa Ann Pinkerton reports on how the life of one prominent environmentalist is teaching students about science:" (Great Lakes Radio Consortium)

This has to be some of the worst misanthropic propaganda we've ever come across. Rachel Carson's sole contribution to humanity has been the premature mortality of millions of third world mothers and babies and the morbidity of billions. Now there's a superhero for you! And this is the appalling crap with which they are filling the impressionable minds of our children. Shame! Hat tip Jon S.

For a few facts try DDT FAQ.

"German commercial interests kill African children: opposition to DDT increases malaria in Uganda" (MS Word format) - "‘We fully support EU to ban imports of agricultural products coming from countries using DDT’ proudly claims Gerhard Hesse, of Bayer Crop Sciences, a division of Bayer AG, the giant German agrochemical and pharmaceutical company. Admitting that ‘DDT use is for us a commercial threat….it is mainly a public image threat’, Dr Hesse, business manager of vector control, then expounded a series of half-truths and downright falsehoods, mostly denigrating the use of DDT, in an email exchange with malaria scientists.

Several developing countries with a high burden of disease and death from malaria use DDT to control the mosquitoes which carry the parasite. DDT is sprayed in tiny amounts on walls inside dwellings in carefully controlled programs which save countless thousands of lives, mainly children, every year. ‘It’s utterly disgraceful for a powerful company like Bayer not only to put commercial interests above human life, but also to lie in the process’ says Richard Tren, South African Director of Africa Fighting Malaria, a health advocacy group. Tren testifies on DDT to the US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) hearing today." (AFM) | Written Testimony of Roger Bate and Richard Tren to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on the role of science in environmental policy making, Wednesday 28th September, 2005, Room 406 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. (MS Word format)

"WHO Supports National Malaria Control Program -Conducts Health Facilities Based Survey" - "Major donor agencies continue to raise funds for malaria control efforts in poor developing countries but when will these funds be used in an effective IRS programme using DDT?" (AFM)

"NEW REPORT: The real determinants of health" - "This paper examines and elucidates the real determinants of health in lower-income countries. It challenges the widely-held view that income inequalities, globalisation and economic growth are the causes of ill health, disease and poverty. In fact, policies that seek to improve health by reducing inequality through the redistribution of wealth will be counterproductive, because they will undermine wealth creation and prosperity - the most significant determinants of health." (Campaign for Fighting Diseases)

"Niger's Famine: Another Green Debacle" - "Tragedy struck Niger, the former French colony of West Africa, over the summer. Millions were at risk of starvation. Political corruption, drought and poverty were the main causes for the lack of food, but over this past year West Africa has also been ravaged by a plague of locusts." (Roger Bate, FrontPage magazine)

"Animal rights activists in new wave of attacks" - "Animal rights activists have launched a fresh wave of attacks, targeting a senior pharmaceutical executive and an Oxford college. The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) claimed responsibility yesterday for a device left outside the home of Paul Blackburn, the corporate controller of Britain's biggest pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)." (London Telegraph)

"Five arrests in hunt for grave robbers linked to guinea pig protest" - "Police investigating the theft of the remains of an elderly woman from a grave in a Staffordshire churchyard yesterday arrested five people in the West Midlands and Manchester. Gladys Hammond, who died aged 82 in 1997, was the mother-in-law of Christopher Hall, who runs Darley Oaks guinea pig farm in Newchurch, Staffordshire, with his brother John. The guinea pigs are bred for medical research and the farm, its owners, employees and suppliers have been the subject of a prolonged and at times violent six-year campaign by animal rights campaigners." (The Guardian)

"Deadly Assumptions: Radiation and Risk" - "A new report tells us that the number of future cancer deaths as a consequence of the disaster in Chernobyl has been adjusted downward from tens or even hundreds of thousands to 4,000. But even this estimate may be way too high. It is quite likely that Russian health statisticians will one day have to register a cancer deficit among the people who were irradiated in 1986 -- that many people in the area do not have cancer as a result of their extra doses of radiation." (Theo Richel, TCS)

"Better Living, Sensible Regulation" - "The United Nations' Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) was discussed last week in Vienna. It seeks to internationalize a "precautionary principle" approach essentially similar to the EU's REACH proposal, which is causing great concern in the chemicals industry in Europe. It appears that the US State Department is considering the UN proposal, and there are fears that it might adopt it.

We strongly believe that the Bush Administration should continue to take a principled stand against international agreements based upon the precautionary principle, and continue to advocate the current international standard risk-based legislation. We have accordingly written as Members of the European Parliament to the US State Department, urging them to take this approach." (Roger Helmer, Chris Heaton-Harris, Martin Callanan and Ivo Strejcek, TCS)

A start, at least: "EU announces a 'bonfire of the red tape'" - "One-third of planned EU legislation was shelved yesterday in an attempt to ease burdens on business and shed the European Commission's image as a source of endless red tape. In an unprecedented initiative, the Commission named a host of draft laws which it intended to scrap following a comprehensive review. The announcement reveals the extent to which the tide has turned in Brussels since the heyday of Jacques Delors." (London Independent)

"Pesticide 'buffer zones' attacked" - "Calls by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (.pdf) for tighter controls of farm pesticides have failed to please farmers or safety campaigners." (Western Mail)

Said commission accepts "peer review" by Sam Epstein and Georgina Downs, 'nough said?

Vying for the title of 'King of the Credulous'? Whatever, here's another Vidal piece: "Unhealthy interests" - "Stavros Dimas, Europe's Mr Environment, has been to London bearing new and shocking health statistics to share with transport activists, the mayor of London and the government. By 2020, if nothing is done, says the EU commissioner, some 300,000 people - the equivalent of a city larger than Newcastle upon Tyne - will die prematurely each year across the 25 European commission countries because of air pollution alone. Many of the deaths, he says, will come from fine particulates emitted from cars, and the total cost to health services may be anything up to £400bn a year -about six times the cost of running the NHS." (John Vidal, The Guardian)

"UR study suggests mercury in fish not dangerous" - "Fifteen years have passed since medical researchers started scrutinizing the brains of 700 children from the Seychelles whose mothers ate great amounts of mercury-contaminated fish during their pregnancies. They continue to be the picture of health." (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)

"School lunches touted in fat fight" - "A coalition of farm, food and school groups Monday unveiled a publicity campaign to get kids to eat school lunches and stay fit." (Sacramento Bee)

"Study: Weight loss may signify Alzheimer's" - "Unexplained weight loss in older people might be an early signal of Alzheimer's disease, appearing several years before the memory lapses that define the illness, according to an intriguing but unproven new theory." (Associated Press)

"US Green Rules Seen on 'Chopping Block' Post-Rita" - "WASHINGTON - House Republicans on Wednesday will launch a rapid-fire assault against environmental protections on the pretext of helping the US oil and gas industry recover from hurricane damage, environmental groups charge." (Reuters)

"Warming gains converts" - "Three studies over the past year make the case that while the number of hurricanes is not increasing, the strongest ones are more intense -- and that this is just the pattern we should expect to see as the world warms." (San Jose Mercury News)

"Engineers seek to deflect asteroids on collision course with Earth" - "British scientists are set to go where only Bruce Willis has gone before: chasing after asteroids on a collision course with Earth. In a three-year £300,000 study funded by the government-backed Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, engineers will use computer simulations to work out the feasibility of changing the direction of asteroids." (The Guardian)

"The true cost of Katrina" - "If you repeat something enough times, people start to believe it. That's how one senator's off-the-cuff remark that Hurricane Katrina would cost the federal government $200 billion became the de facto estimate." (Kathleen Pender, SF Chronicle)

"Long-Term, L.A. Feels the Warmth" - "Los Angeles has heated up about 5 degrees since they started keeping records in 1878. Climatologists largely blame urbanization and global warming." (Los Angeles Times)

"Gov't: Effect of greenhouse gases rising" - "WASHINGTON - The effect of greenhouse gases on the Earth's atmosphere has increased 20 percent since 1990, a new government index says. The Annual Greenhouse Gas Index was released Tuesday by the Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory in Boulder, Colo.' (Associated Press)

"Climate change transforming Alaska's landscape" - "Ottawa, September 28, 2005 – Lakes and wetlands in the Kenai Peninsula of south-central Alaska are drying at a significant rate. The shift seems to be driven by climate change, and could endanger waterfowl habitats and hasten the spread of wildfires. In a paper published in the August 2005 issue of the NRC Research Press' Canadian Journal of Forest Research, Eric Klein and his colleagues document a significant landscape shift from wetlands to woodland and forest in the Kenai Peninsula Lowlands." (National Research Council of Canada)

"EU: Commissioner Dimas to hold first sectoral dialogue on climate change" - "Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas will hold talks on tackling climate change with politicians representing European and national associations of local and regional authorities at the Committee of the Regions (CoR) on Thursday, 6 October." (noticias.info)

"A change in the weather is no reason to get steamed up over gases" - "Simplistic science is behind the idea put forward by Tim Flannery and others that man is causing global warming, writes William Kininmonth." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Assumption Function" - "Is it possible the environmentalist movement is creating yet another doomsday myth out of global warming? After all, it has a history of false alarms, most notably the claim during the 1970s that we were going to experience a new ice age and therefore should cover the North Pole with ash (so our planet could absorb more sunlight), or that 25-50 percent of all animal species would die out between 1990-2000.

But let us stipulate that our planet is undergoing a long-term increase in average temperature, either due to the release of greenhouse gases or part of a natural temperature cycle. It is important to realize that the "small ice age", a period of unusually cold temperature that lasted from around 1600 to 1850, has recently passed, so an increase in average temperature is probably to be expected. Let us also for the sake of argument assume that natural variations don't have anything to do with the potential future temperature increase, which would be due to emission of greenhouse gases only. Would it then make sense to implement the Kyoto treaty?" (Nima Sanandaji, TCS)

"The death of the Kyoto Protocol" - "It passed by barely noticed earlier this month but a death occurred. That which expired was the Kyoto Protocol and its killer was one of the very nations that brought it into the world. On the first day of the Clinton Global Initiative on Sept 15, British Prime Minister Tony Blair publicly proclaimed what many of us already knew." (Steven Martinovich, Japan Today)

"NZ: Abandon protocol and dump Kyoto" - "British Prime Minister Tony Blair has had a change of heart about the efficacy of the Kyoto Protocol. New Zealand should follow suit, writes the Dominion Post in an editorial." (Stuff.co.nz)

"Climate change funding difficult to track, GAO report finds" - "Inconsistent bookkeeping has made tracking federal funds for climate change research “impossible”, according to a report released by the Government Accountability Office. The report criticizes the way that the Office of Management and Budget and the Climate Change Science Program report on federal funding for climate change." (Research Research)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

Effects of Very High CO 2 Concentrations on Ginseng Roots: How high must they be to be deadly?  And why would anybody care?

Subject Index Summaries
Health Effects (Temperature - Hot vs. Cold: Europe): A lot has been claimed about global warming being bad for people's health in recent years, especially in Europe.  Much more, however, has actually been learned about it being good for us, even throughout that vast land of climate alarmism.

Phenolics (Herbaceous Species): How do phenolic concentrations of herbaceous plants respond to increases in the air's CO 2 concentration, and what are the implications of the observed responses?

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: Leadplant, Roundhead Lespedeza, Sundial Lupine, and White Clover.

Journal Reviews
Two Hundred Years of Air Temperature Measurements from Northern Ireland: The longest temperature time-series in existence for the island of Ireland speaks volumes about late 20th-century warming.

Five Decades of Freezing Rain Days in the United States: What do they reveal?

Millennial-Scale Climate Cycles in the Pacific: Are they coherent with those in the Atlantic?

Carbon Contents of Nordic Forest Soils: How do they vary as a function of temperature?

Six Years of Soil Carbon Dynamics in the Duke Forest FACE Study: What do the data reveal about the ability of the forest's soil to sequester carbon over the long term? (co2science.org)

"UneasyJetters" - "If the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research has its way, the travel revolution that created the new class of "EasyJetters" across Europe will screech to a halt. The Centre has said that such travel must be curtailed if the UK is to have any hope of meeting its Kyoto treaty obligations. On top of this, the European Commission is considering environmental regulations that could add £55 to the cost of an airline ticket. These developments will be hailed by ailing national carriers and condemned by the successful budget airlines. That's because British Airways can absorb such a price increase, while the increase would destroy EasyJet's competitive advantage of low costs. Cheap holidays will be a thing of the past. The beaches of Bognor may be as crowded as those of Benidorm." (Fred L. Smith Jr. and Iain Murray, TCS)

"UK: Minister gives strong hint in favour of nuclear power" - "BRITAIN will have to build a new generation of nuclear power stations to meet lower carbon dioxide emissions targets, the energy minister suggested yesterday. Malcolm Wicks dropped a heavy hint about the government's thinking only hours before Tony Blair revealed that he will make the decision about new reactors next year. Nuclear power is carbon-free and is probably the only way for the UK to meet its environmental targets, Mr Wicks said." (The Scotsman) | Nuclear power 'will help combat global warming' (London Independent)

"Canada: Nuclear plants backed in poll" - "More than 40 per cent of Ontario residents believe the province should have more nuclear power plants, not fewer, according to an SES Research survey." (Toronto Star)

"Windmills a fatal attraction for bats" - "They send out sound waves to bounce off objects around them so they can navigate through life. It's a talent unique to only a handful of creatures, including the only flying mammals -- bats. So why, then, are bats incapable of navigating around the fast-spinning blades of windmills?" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

"Hybrid grass may prove to be valuable fuel source" - "Giant Miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus), a hybrid grass that can grow 13 feet high, may be a valuable renewable fuel source for the future, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign say." (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

"40% of global energy consumption to come from organisms in 2015" - "40 percent of the global energy consumption will come from organisms in 10 years, forecast Wang Tao, academician with Chinese Academy of Engineering, at a green forum of the First China Afforestation Exposition in Nanjing on Tuesday.

According to Wang Tao, biomass energy resources are from plants' photosynthesis by absorbing solar energy on earth. Through biomass energy conversion technologies, the energy can be utilized effectively to turn out various kinds of clean fuels for substituting mineral fuels, including coal, petroleum and natural gas, so as to minimize the dependence on mineral energy resources, preserve energy and reduce environmental pollution caused by energy consumption. So biomass energy is a kind of renewable energy resources." (People's Daily Online)

"Antibiotic Resistance Markers in GM Plants Not a Risk to Human Health" - "Antibiotic-resistance markers in genetically modified (GM) plants do not pose a substantial risk to human health, concludes a review." (Newswise)

"Hierarchical metabolomics demonstrates substantial compositional similarity between genetically modified and conventional potato crops" - "There is current debate whether genetically modified (GM) plants might contain unexpected, potentially undesirable changes in overall metabolite composition. However, appropriate analytical technology and acceptable metrics of compositional similarity require development. We describe a comprehensive comparison of total metabolites in field-grown GM and conventional potato tubers using a hierarchical approach initiating with rapid metabolome "fingerprinting" to guide more detailed profiling of metabolites where significant differences are suspected. Central to this strategy are data analysis procedures able to generate validated, reproducible metrics of comparison from complex metabolome data. We show that, apart from targeted changes, these GM potatoes in this study appear substantially equivalent to traditional cultivars." (PNAS)

"Fear the Reapers" - "Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have a notoriously bad reputation in France. In such a hostile environment, some people have not hesitated to destroy the few authorized fields of genetically modified plants in the name of the precautionary principle. This summer, three attacks occurred in the Puy-de-Dôme department, and responsibility for some of them claimed by the Collectif des faucheurs volontaires (or, "the volunteer reapers"). The company Meristem, French leader in the development of medicines made from genetically modified plants, was the target of this last wave of anti-GMO violence, without much media coverage." (Xavier Mera, TCS)

September 27, 2005

"Her home is her cottage" - "Defending property rights is essential to any democracy and to market-driven economies, and speaks to the freedom of individuals to prosper through ownership. Private property is so important that the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution says it can only be taken for "public use" and with "just compensation." (Christian Science Monitor)

"Which of These Foods Will Stop Cancer? (Not So Fast)" - "When it comes to cancer, eating well can't hurt. But for now, scientists say, the benefits remain hypothetical and elusive." (Gina Kolata, New York Times)

"Seaweed could make junk food healthier" - "Junk food could be made healthier by adding an extract of an exotic type of seaweed, say British scientists, who believe it will be a valuable weapon in the international battle against obesity, diabetes and heart disease and diseases such as bowel cancer." (University of Newcastle upon Tyne)

"Soft Drinks as Public Enemy #1" - "The self-appointed nutrition-nanny organization, the Ralph Nader-inspired Center for Science in the Public Interest, this week proclaimed that sodas -- both sugar-sweetened and diet versions -- pose a health hazard, particularly to children. The report "Liquid Candy: How Soft Drinks Are Harming America's Health" charges that soda consumption increases the risks of diseases ranging from heart disease to tooth decay, osteoporosis, cancer, obesity, and poor nutrition. In the course of proclaiming soda "junk food," CSPI has relied on rhetoric, emotion, and junk science. Consumers -- and particularly worried parents -- should put CSPI's charges in perspective." (Elizabeth M. Whelan, ACSH)

"In Heeding Health Warnings, Memory Can Be Tricky" - "The catchy strategy of public health campaigns listing the myths and facts of health risks may actually backfire." (New York Times)

"New-car smell emerges as auto safety issue with Japanese makers" - "That unmistakable new-car smell may soon be heading the way of the rumble seat: Recent research linking it to a toxic cocktail of harmful chemicals is spurring efforts by Japanese automakers to tone down the fumes." (Associated Press)

"Asthma and Air Pollution" - "The prevalence of asthma rose by about 75 percent overall between 1980 and 1996, and by nearly a factor of two in children up to 17 years of age. Prevalence seems to have leveled off since then. Roughly 6 to 7 percent of American children currently have asthma.

What caused this large rise in asthma over the last few decades? One hypothesis is that people no longer get as many infections and other immune challenges in childhood, and that this somehow makes them more susceptible to allergic diseases such as asthma. Obesity is also associated with a greater risk of developing asthma and the prevalence of obesity has been increasing. Increasing indoor exposures to allergens may also play a role, as people spend more time indoors and in buildings with better insulation from outside air. These hypotheses are the subject of continuing research." (Joel Schwartz, TCS)

"Air pollution linked to sperm damage" - "Air pollution can damage sperm, potentially leading to birth defects or miscarriages, according to research published yesterday. Scientists said the results were a warning of the number of chemicals commonly present in the air that can cause damage to human DNA." (The Guardian)

"Haze, daily deaths linked" - "Scientists have found what appears to be a significant association between the daily health-related death rate in Sacramento and other populous counties in California and the amount of haze in the air that day." (Sacramento Bee)

"In California, agriculture takes center stage in pollution debate" - "Most of the time the San Joaquin Valley is smoggy, filled with air that has fostered widespread respiratory disease. 15% of the region's children have asthma, three times the national average. Farming makes a big contribution." (Washington Post)

"Jay Gould Dead, Groundless Radiation Scares Alive" - "Anti-nuclear activist Jay M. Gould Died at age ninety, Friday one week ago. I was surprised, in a good way, that the New York Times obituatry gave attention to the criticism his work attracted. Obituaries, the first draft of the history of a person's life, usually offer generous views on the recently deceased. But New York Times science writer Anahad O'Connor appropriately addressed the flaws in Dr. Gould's work." (Jeff Stier, ACSH)

"ESA selects targets for asteroid-deflecting mission Don Quijote" - "Based on the recommendations of asteroid experts, ESA has selected two target asteroids for its Near-Earth Object deflecting mission, Don Quijote." (European Space Agency)

"Mapping the risks of hurricane disasters" - "The Natural Disaster Hotspots report released earlier this year showed that the U.S. Gulf Coast is among the world's most at-risk regions in terms of human mortality and economic loss due to storms like Katrina and Rita." (The Earth Institute at Columbia University)

Uncommon sense: "Forced Marsh" - "IN the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, there has been much talk of rebuilding Louisiana's coastal wetlands and barrier islands. This proposal, which could cost an estimated $15 billion, has been advocated by Louisiana scientists, engineers, politicians and environmentalists alike, who explain that the state is suffering the highest rate of land loss in the nation and imply that restoring this land would reduce the damage from future storms. As coastal scientists, we are excited to see the idea of wetlands restoration so widely discussed. Yet we think the Louisiana plan is ill conceived." (Robert S. Young and David M. Bush, New York Times)

"Gulf Currents That Turn Storms Into Monsters" - "In this stormy season, experts have been fixated on the loop current, a great ribbon of hot water meandering through the Gulf of Mexico." (New York Times)

"UK 'needs yearly climate updates'" - "Draft legislation just published in the UK would require the prime minister to make annual reports to Parliament on measures to curb climate change." (BBC)

Just what the world needs, more hot air reports, with additional bureaucracy to generate them and more to receive them - to no purpose whatsoever.

"Canada's environment minister: post-Kyoto deal to take 'several years'" - "MONTREAL - Canadian Environment Minister Stephane Dion doused expectations for an upcoming United Nations climate change conference, saying it will likely take years to hammer out a post-Kyoto Protocol deal." (AFP)

Hmm... Kyoto and its various incarnations appear rather Norwegian Blue-ish, no?

"Carbon storage could take in more than a third of world pollution by 2050" - "MONTREAL - More than a third of annual emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal gas blamed for global warming, could be stored underground by 2050, according to a report issued by a top UN scientific panel." (AFP)

Are they talking about pollution or carbon dioxide? If they are intending sequestration of pollution do they intend to use CO2 as a solvent or what? What an idiotic headline. Presumably what they meant was: CO2 Storage May Minimize Climate Change (UNEP), which has a small element of truth, at least. Whether it could or would make any measurable difference is another matter. Whether attempting to "control" or even influence climatic change via such asinine means as tinkering with a few very minor variables in a complex, chaotic, non-linear system is hardly worthy of discussion.

Genuinely dangerous CO2 - naturally: "Gas threat grows from Cameroon's lethal lakes" - "Perched among the highlands of western Cameroon, bordered by green mountains and cliff faces, Lake Nyos is a scene of breathtaking beauty. But the picture is deceptive. A detailed study reveals that without emergency measures, the lake could release a lethal cloud of carbon dioxide, capable of wiping out entire communities around its shores." (The Guardian)

"No one can say if warming caused Katrina, Rita" - "WASHINGTON - Scientists say it's not easy to tell if global warming caused hurricanes Katrina and Rita but on Monday they forecast more unpredictable weather as Earth gets hotter." (Reuters)

Hmm... more unpredictable? Just how good are we at predicting weather "normally"?

"Brussels to force EU airlines to join carbon emissions scheme" - "Controversial moves to add airlines to the EU's emissions trading scheme will be approved by the European Commission today in a move designed to force the aviation sector and its customers to pay more for the pollution that is generated. The plan, put forward by the EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas, follows months of debate over how best to make the airline industry more sensitive to mounting environmental concerns about carbon dioxide emissions." (London Independent)

"Bush Is Asked to Aid Energy Change" - "Rattled by recent spikes in gasoline prices, Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and other auto makers say they want the Bush administration to take more-aggressive action to reduce U.S. dependence on petroleum.

As Hurricane Rita bore down last week on U.S. Gulf Coast oil refineries, Ford Motor Chairman and Chief Executive William Clay Ford Jr. sent a letter to President Bush asking for an energy summit involving auto makers, suppliers, fuel providers, consumers and government officials to talk about what the auto industry can do to find solutions for alternative fuel resources and other issues. Mr. Ford said the recently signed $17 billion energy bill "is only the beginning." (Wall Street Journal)

"How U.S. Shifted Gears to Find Small Cars Can Be Safe, Too" - "A wave of new studies and technologies -- strong, light materials, better airbags and smarter designs -- are paving the way for regulators to revamp fuel-economy rules for SUVs and pickup trucks for the first time in three decades." (Wall Street Journal)

Creed of the moonbat - always scream crisis, one day you might be right! "It's better to cry wolf now than to wait until the oil has run out" - "Are global oil supplies about to peak? Are they, in other words, about to reach their maximum and then go into decline? There is a simple answer to this question: no one has the faintest idea." (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

"The hidden costs of biofuels" - "Concerns that the health and environmental impacts of biofuels haven't been properly examined have arisen following a recent Australian government report and a pledge to promote their use." (ABC Science Online)

"Tsunami Actually Aided Crops in Indonesia" - "MEULABOH, Indonesia — From atop the coconut tree where he fled to escape the onrushing water, Muhammad Yacob watched the tsunami turn his rice paddy into a briny, debris-strewn swamp. Nine months later, Yacob and his wife are harvesting their best-ever crop -- despite fears that salt water had poisoned the land. "The sea water turned out to be a great fertilizer," said Yacob, 66, during a break from scything the green shoots and laying them in bunches on the stubble. "We are looking at yields twice as high as last year." Rice, the region's staple food, is not the only crop thriving on tsunami-affected land in Indonesia's Aceh province, which suffered the worst damage and loss of life in the Dec. 26 disaster. Farmers say vegetables, peanuts and fruit are also growing well, spurring hopes that agriculture in the still devastated region will recover faster than expected." (Associated Press)

"Deal to share GM papaya benefits likely" - "The Agriculture Department will not hesitate to sign the planned benefit-sharing agreement over the co-invention of the genetically modified papaya and related inventions with a US foundation. Sophida Hemakhom, the department's legal affairs officer, said the department had considered this thoroughly and viewed that the agreement would have no negative impacts on the country." (Bangkok Post)

"Herpes 'could control' mice plagues" - "A GENETICALLY engineered herpes virus could help control plagues of wild mice, researchers said today. Preliminary research into the mouse cytomegalovirus has showed it rendered mice infertile for up to 250 days – equivalent to the breeding season in the wild." (AAP)

September 26, 2005

"A Textbook Case of How Bureaucracy Kills" - "I tend not to get too angry at whatever stupidities the various weasels, politicians and bureaucrats who rule us get up to, preferring to ignore them and exist in a susurration of "what did you expect?"s and "typical"s. After all, what are they for if it is not to spend our money for us? Think how insufferably rich and content we would be if they were not there to waste it?" (Tim Worstall, TCS)

"Cancer experts now back Seattle doctor's findings" - "Some of the nation's top cancer researchers have rediscovered what a Seattle naturopathic physician, Dr. Dan Labriola, reported more than half a decade ago -- that it can be dangerous to combine some cancer therapies and certain natural supplements." (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Just about makes the "No! Duh?" report of the day. Sadly, some people still do not realise that anything, "natural" or otherwise, containing "active" ingredients (compounds having some biological effect) might react differently in the presence of other compounds (e.g., grapefruit juice so enhances the activity of some statins that they should be mixed only cautiously, under controlled circumstance). This is nothing new but it seems people need reminding frequently.

"'Hygiene hypothesis' linked to heart disease risk" - "BUENOS AIRES - Early childhood viral infections might reduce the risk of developing heart disease later in life by as much as 90 percent, researchers from Sweden and Finland reported here on Wednesday at the IV World Congress of Pediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery. According to the investigators, "improved hygiene in early childhood might partially explain the greatest epidemic of the 20th century -- coronary heart disease." (Reuters Health)

Sigh... "Want chemicals with those fries?" - "French fries contain a chemical called acrylamide, which has been proved to cause cancer in laboratory rats and mice." (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

"WHO reports steep rise in obesity in poorer countries" - "A staggering one billion of the world's population of 6.45 billion is overweight, warns the World Health Organization. And rates of overweight and obesity are rising dramatically in poorer countries, not just wealthy nations." (New Scientist)

"Scientists try to help the poor get healthy" - "Scientists, doctors and government officials all over the nation are working on ways to get poor families to eat healthier food." (Associated Press)

"New Evolution Spat in US Schools Goes to Court" - "PHILADELPHIA - A new battle over teaching about man's origins in US schools goes to court for the first time next week, pitting Christian conservatives against educators and scientists in a trial viewed as the biggest test of the issue since the late 1980s. Eleven parents of students at a Pennsylvania high school are suing over the school district's decision to include "intelligent design" -- an alternative to evolution that involves a God-like creator -- in the curriculum of ninth-grade biology classes. The parents and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) say the policy of the Dover Area School District in south-central Pennsylvania violates the constitutional separation of church and state, which forbids teaching religion in public schools. They also argue that intelligent design is unscientific and has no place in a science curriculum." (Reuters)

Not infrequently, the question is asked as to why JunkScience.com does not weigh into the so-called debate concerning evolution/creation (there'll probably be trouble because I didn't capitalise that). The answer is simple: alleged ID and Creation (there, better?) are matters of faith with zero requirement for science nor proof. In fact, "He said it. I believe it. That's an end to it." leaves no room for debate, informed, reasoned or otherwise - it's faith and perfectly sufficient for believers. The bottom line here is that, if you believe, that's fine, as it is if you don't believe - just don't confuse belief with science. And no, we won't be answering e-mail on this. Parenthetically, I've had some nice people offering to pray for my soul because of my refusal to use science and faith interchangeably, which is rather charitable of them - just a small point or two, that's "Barry" with a "y" and there's no "e" on the end of "Hearn" but thanks anyway.

"Millions of animals face death sentence in Australia" - "SYDNEY - Millions of animals -- from camels to cane toads, horses and foxes -- face extermination in Australia under recommendations by a parliamentary committee. A population explosion of species introduced to this isolated continent since European settlement began more than 200 years ago is a growing threat to agriculture and native wildlife, the committee of inquiry has found." (AFP)

Despite the inevitable squeal from the loopy animal fringe this is a good thing - Australia carries a feral load probably considerably higher than domestic livestock, which seriously stresses the thin, weak ancient soil cover of this desiccated land.

"Imagine 20 years of this" - "Meteorologists argue that we have begun a new era of Atlantic storms pumped up by hot gulf waters, a cycle that oscillates in decades." (New York Times)

"The Gulf Coast: A Victim of Global Warming?" - "As evacuees galvanized by Katrina fled the Gulf Coast in advance of Hurricane Rita this week, only to sit idling for hours on clogged freeways, they had plenty of time to wonder who or what was to blame for the storm-tossed mess. But while many have attributed the size and violence of Katrina and Rita to global warming, MIT climatologist Kerry Emanuel says it would be wrong to blame the devastation caused by any individual hurricane on long-term climate change." (Technology Review)

"Our denial is at Category 5" - "Burning of coal and oil has turned Earth into ‘net importer of heat.'" (Ross Gelbspan, USA Today)

"Global warming activists turn storms into spin" - "Hurricanes feed off of warm water. So the one-two punch to the Gulf Coast from Katrina and Rita has naturally led many people to wonder: Is global warming to blame for back-to-back major hurricanes slamming into the United States?" (USA Today)

"Wales faces 'catastrophic hurricane'" - "THERE is a "one-in-one chance" of Wales suffering a direct hit by a major hurricane in the next few years, according to a leading climate change expert. But despite two hurricanes striking the US in the past month and the extreme likelihood of a huge storm hitting these shores, there is widespread complacency about the potential threat, according to Nigel Rhodes, chairman of Cardiff-based weather specialists Stormforce." (Western Mail)

"So Who Is Right in Debate on Role of Global Warming?" - "With an American city swamped by one great hurricane and then by another one less than a month later, with federal forecasters ticking down the annual list of 21 names for tropical storms at a record clip, it is no surprise that debate has flared over the role of global warming." (New York Times)

But wait, it's settled - Babs says so: "Barbra Streisand: 'Global warming emergency'" - "Despite statements to the contrary from the director of the National Hurricane Center, Barbra Streisand is declaring a "global warming emergency." (WorldNetDaily)

& so does Jan: "Is global warming to blame for Rita?" - "The devastation sweeping America's southern coast is a 'wake-up call' to the world about the dangers of global warming. This was the stark warning made yesterday by the UN emergency relief co-ordinator, Jan Egeland. Egeland said Hurricane Katrina, which led to the flooding of New Orleans last month, and Hurricane Rita, now battering Texas, are the result of climate change." (The Observer)

"INTERVIEW - Rita Could Herald Record Hurricane Year - WMO" - "GENEVA - Hurricane Rita, bearing down on the Gulf of Mexico coast, will wreak extensive damage and could herald a record number of ferocious storms over the Atlantic this year, the United Nations top expert warned on Friday." (Reuters)

"Texas survives hurricane but New York may be next" - "Texas breathed a sigh of relief as Hurricane Rita avoided the deserted city of Houston yesterday, but scientists now say the next target for a hurricane could be New York." (London Independent)

"Global Warming: The Culprit?" - "Evidence mounts that human activity is helping fuel these monster hurricanes." (Time Magazine)

"Are we in for something worse than Juan?" - "Experts say no but debate rages over impact of global warming." (Halifax Herald)

For Flannery fans only: "Ill winds that whisper the collapse of civilisation" - "Mankind is at the edge of an abyss, its very survival dependent on urgent action, warns an Australian scientist." (Sydney Morning Herald)

The Beeb doing much better: "Hurricanes and global warming - a link?" - "Here is a recipe for an explosive news cocktail.

Take the president of the world's most powerful nation. Add two intense and damaging natural storms which bring destruction to that country; then mix in the widely held view that the same nation's environmental policies are partially responsible for those storms.

In the polarised world of climate change, this cocktail has proved an irresistible temptation to organisations which campaign against President Bush's administration in support of enhanced action to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The latest to succumb was the British newspaper The Independent, which screamed on its front page: "This is global warming", above an alarmingly portentous graphic of Hurricane Rita's projected path." (BBC)

Philip Stott has taken time in his obviously busy schedule to make a few salient comments on EnviroSpin Watch: The BBC 10, The Independent 0...; Hurricane cycles and human hatred...; Mr. Blair quietly kills off the Kyoto Protocol.... He has also noted this on UK reporting: UK media in denial over the politics of climate change....

"Blair is accused of Kyoto U-turn" - "Tony Blair was accused last night of backing down on the Kyoto agreement to tackle climate change after he confessed to 'changing my thinking about this'." (Juliette Jowit, The Observer)

Ooh! Low blow Juliette, neglecting to even mention top-tier per capita emitter, Australia, in the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. Anyway, what kept you? James Pinkerton reported this a week ago and who hasn't seen this widely cited .pdf transcript of the Clinton Global Initiative Special Opening Plenary Session? Really! Don't denizens of the UK pay any attention to what their Prime Minister says?

"Blair signals he’s cooling towards Kyoto" - "TONY BLAIR has hinted Britain may pull out of attempts to draw up a successor to the Kyoto climate treaty because the economic price of cutting greenhouse gas emissions is too high." (Jonathan Leake, The Sunday Times)

"Blair falls into line with Bush view on global warming" - "Tony Blair has undermined the agreement he masterminded at the Gleneagles Summit  Tony Blair has admitted that he is changing his views on combating global warming to mirror those of President Bush - and oppose negotiating international treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol. His admission, which has outraged environmentalists on both sides of the Atlantic, flies in the face of his promises made in the past two years and undermines the agreement he masterminded at this summer's Gleneagles Summit. And it endangers talks that opened in Ottawa this weekend on a new treaty to combat climate change." (Geoffrey Lean and Christopher Silvester, Independent on Sunday)

"Why Kyoto will never succeed, by Blair" - "Tony Blair has admitted that the fight to prevent global warming by ordering countries to cut greenhouse gases will never be won. The Prime Minister said "no country is going to cut its growth or consumption" despite environmental fears. Mr Blair's comments, which he said were "brutally honest", mark a big environmental U-turn and will dismay Labour activists." (Patrick Hennessy and James Langton, Sunday Telegraph)

The Week That Was Sept 24, 2005 (SEPP)

"Bush Climate Policy More Fossil Than Fuel" - "BROOKLIN, Canada - Has the United States reached a tipping point on global warming, as yet another destructive hurricane uproots millions of its citizens?" (IPS)

"Early snowmelts heating Alaska Arctic-study" - "Spring snowmelt in Alaska's Arctic is occurring progressively earlier, accelerating the region's climate change and helping produce its warmest summers in at least 400 years." (Reuters)

Dang! Warmest summers since, oh, the depths of the Little Ice Age.

"MERIS monitoring tracks planetary photosynthesis levels" - "Daily multispectral observations from Envisat's MERIS sensor are being combined with a sophisticated processing algorithm and powerful Grid computing to reveal global photosynthesis activity on land. This permits researchers to trace the state of health of terrestrial plant cover, identifying areas under stress and assessing damage from drought or fires.

Much has been made (in the press) of heatwaves, poor vegetation growth and "global warming" so we thought we'd point out something they might have missed - check out the next sentence in this ESA release:

Grid-processed results shown here indicate a decrease in vegetation activity against the average for Spain and Portugal, due to unusually cold and dry conditions at the beginning of the year, leading to plant stress. In the past the effects of the 2003 European drought were detected in a similar way, but in the absence of any long-term continental-scale perspective on vegetation growth." (European Space Agency)

Note to press: "cold" is a major problem for life on Earth - it is not the ultimate in desired states any more than warming is necessarily a problem. Hat-tip ~Dave.

"Change in climate will see Ireland's rainfall increase 11% by 2050" - "BY 2050, Ireland's rainfall will have increased by 11%, a seminar on climate change heard in Dublin yesterday." (Irish Examiner)

Blasted empiricists! "Who said City’s getting hotter?" - "If you have been complaining constantly about Bangalore’s increasingly hot and stuffy weather, the complaint could just prove to be without a valid basis. Studies carried out by the Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic Science (CAOS) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, indicate that the City has become warmer over the century, but just by 0.5 degree Celsius." (Deccan Herald News Service, Bangalore)

"Seafaring scientists seek clues to toxin" - "From domoic acid on the West Coast to this year's record-breaking red tide on the East Coast, problems with toxic algae are increasing around the globe, and scientists are trying to figure out why. Pollution and global warming are suspects." (Seattle Times)

"California to save power: Utilities to set $2 billion aside for conservation" - "California's utilities will pour almost $2 billion into encouraging customers to cut the amount of electricity they use during the next three years, in what supporters call the nation's largest energy-efficiency program." (SF Chronicle)

"U.K. Favors `Clean' Fossil Fuel Over Nuclear Power, Morley Says" - "Sept. 26 -- The U.K., Europe's third-largest power market, should turn to technologies that remove carbon dioxide from fossil fuels rather than nuclear generation, Environment Minister Elliot Morley said." (Bloomberg)

"Aircraft Set to Jet Into EU Emissions Trading" - "BRUSSELS - Aircraft will join the European Union's emissions trading system -- the EU's key instrument to fight global warming -- under a proposal to be agreed by the EU executive Commission next Tuesday." (Reuters)

"Car-free day — yeah, right" - "Sept. 22, international car-free day? Little evidence of this yesterday at city hall, where car-free day was first declared in North America four years ago. Yesterday a lineup of fine cars graced the city councillors' exclusive parking lot under Nathan Phillips Square: a Lincoln here, a Benz there; over there an SUV and a Jag. You'd have thought our municipal leaders — men and women who sing the virtues of public transit, clean air and healthy lifestyles — would jump at setting a good example for the general populace. Y'know, walk, bike, take transit, carpool for a healthy Toronto. Think again." (Toronto Star)

"The high-performance hybrids" - "The auto industry has decided to drastically bulk up its hybrids. Can a car that goes from 0 to 60 in 4.3 seconds be good for the planet?" (New York Times)

"Reuters Summit - Diesels to Take on Hybrids as King of Green" - "DETROIT - Record-high prices at US pumps are giving hybrid cars a further image boost as the king of fuel economy, but many automakers are stepping up work on another major alternative to cut fuel consumption: diesel engines." (Reuters)

"Cars that guzzle grass" - "Plenty of scientists have their doubts about reaching the fuel-cell future, with cars powered by hydrogen." (New York Times)

"French Grain, Beet Areas for Ethanol Seen Surging" - "PARIS - Grain and sugar beet areas used for ethanol production in France will surge this decade as biofuel demand grows in line with ambitious new government targets, analysts said." (Reuters)

"Food Security Worries Could Limit China Biofuels" - "BEIJING - Worries about feeding the world's most populous nation could limit the growth of China's environmentally-friendly biofuels industry, officials and executives said on Friday." (Reuters)

"China to Spend $17 Billion on Six New Hydro Plants" - "BEIJING - China will spend $17.3 billion to build six more hydroelectric power plants on the Yangtze River as it tries to reduce its reliance on smog-producing coal, the China Daily said on Friday." (Reuters)

"Blocking the Wave of Privatisation of Water" - "MONTEVIDEO - The nations of South America must urgently take steps to guarantee that water is legally considered a social, not an economic resource, and to block the advance of transnational corporations, which are increasingly gaining control over public utilities in the developing South, warned the French foundation France Libertés." (IPS)

"Rich nations square up for WTO food aid fight" - "WASHINGTON - The world's richest countries are squaring up for a fight over food aid to the poorest, threatening an unfortunate sideshow amid international talks that aim to open up trade in order to combat poverty. The disagreement hit the spotlight this week after government officials from Washington and the EU held a series of meetings to try to agree on advancing a formula to cut farm subsidies. Progress on that front is seen as vital to save a World Trade Organization meeting in Hong Kong this December from collapse." (Reuters)

"Southern Africa faces years of food shortages-UN" - "JOHANNESBURG - Southern Africa, gripped by its second food crisis since 2002 after rains failed, faces more hunger in years to come as the death toll from AIDS devastates rural economies, the United Nations said on Friday. The agency is aiming to feed 8.5 million people across the region until the next harvest in April, but for many families the worst hardships are yet to come, U.N. World Food Programme Regional Director Mike Sackett told Reuters. "Out of the last four years, we have had two bad seasons and two mediocre to average seasons," he said." (Reuters)

"India: Biotech may be freed from govt’s clutches" - "NEW DELHI: The biotech industry may have reason to cheer. A government committee has just recommended freeing it from the clutches of environment ministry controls. It isn’t put as simply. But it would amount to this if the government acts on the recommendations made by a task force on speeding up clearances for gene-manipulated pharma products. “ 95 per cent of the industry would be freed,’’ says one source in government." (Times of India)

"France: A Project to Remodel Grape Genes Yields Mostly Outrage" - "COLMAR, France, Sept. 21 - Behind six-foot fencing, watched by unblinking video eyes, and guarded by motion detectors that set off bright halogen lights and a silent police alarm in the event of nocturnal intruders, there lurks what some people in this gentle wine-making region consider an unholy alliance between the noble grape and "Frankenstem": 70 grapevines grafted onto genetically modified rootstocks." (New York Times)

September 23, 2005

"Study Disproves Antibacterial Soap Scare" - "'Antibacterial Soaps Are Safe, New Study Says,' is not a headline that you should count on seeing anytime soon -- even though it’s true." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

Citigroup urged to diversify its 'Environment Partners' program - "We believe that Citigroup’s current Environment Partners program is philosophically imbalanced and appears to be restricted to policy organizations with anti-business social and political agendas, said Steve Milloy..." (PRweb)

Get involved...

Right... "This is global warming, says environmental chief " - "Super-powerful hurricanes now hitting the United States are the "smoking gun" of global warming, one of Britain's leading scientists believes.

The growing violence of storms such as Katrina, which wrecked New Orleans, and Rita, now threatening Texas, is very probably caused by climate change, said Sir John Lawton, chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. Hurricanes were getting more intense, just as computer models predicted they would, because of the rising temperature of the sea, he said. "The increased intensity of these kinds of extreme storms is very likely to be due to global warming."

In a series of outspoken comments - a thinly veiled attack on the Bush administration, Sir John hit out at neoconservatives in the US who still deny the reality of climate change. Referring to the arrival of Hurricane Rita he said: "If this makes the climate loonies in the States realise we've got a problem, some good will come out of a truly awful situation." (London Independent)

GlobalVarious2004.gif (26901 bytes) Just wondering, Sir John, is this the same climate change that caused major storms to strike both New Orleans and Galveston in the same year, just 90 years ago? (For the geographically challenged that's Louisiana and Texas in September and August of 1915, respectively.)

Sir John Lawton is allegedly a scientist and so presumably has the capacity to look up and understand data. As a scientist we can assume he also understands the necessity of so doing prior to drawing any conclusions regarding cause and effect. The information available to us:

  • there appears almost universal agreement that Earth has been on a generally warming trend since the depths of the Little Ice Age;
  • depending on ideological bent, Earth has been either warming or recovering since at least the end of the 19th Century;
  • hurricane statistics indicate that Earth is emerging from an anomalously quiet period of hurricane incidence;
  • of the warming trend since the great cooling scare to ~1975, fully two-thirds of that warming is associated with reduced hurricane incidence;
  • global temperatures appear to have been higher for at least the last three decades than they were the last time both Louisiana and Texas were struck by major hurricanes in the same year.

Sir John appears to be talking through his, uh... hat.

"Two Such Powerful Storms a Rarity, Their Cause a Mystery" - "The occurrence of two massive storms within a month has prompted a rash of speculation about the causes, whether global warming or simply cyclical changes in ocean temperature." (Los Angeles Times)

Rifkin... "Sorry, Mr President, homilies won't stop the hurricanes" - "We Americans need to get out of our SUVs and learn the harsh lesson of Katrina and Rita: we are all to blame." (Jeremy Rifkin, The Guardian)

"Coming to the Arctic near you: The longer, hotter summer" - "FAIRBANKS, AK--In a paper that shows dramatic summer warming in arctic Alaska, scientists synthesized a decade of field data from Alaska showing summer warming is occurring primarily on land, where a longer snow-free season has contributed more strongly to atmospheric heating than have changes in vegetation. Arctic climate change is usually viewed as caused by the retreat of sea ice, which reduces high-latitude albedo – a measure of the amount of sunlight reflected off a surface - a change most pronounced in winter. "Summer warming is more pronounced over land than over sea ice, and atmosphere and sea-ice observations can't explain this," said Terry Chapin, professor of ecology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Institute of Arctic Biology and lead author of the paper which appears in the September 22, 2005 advance online publication Science Express." (University of Alaska Fairbanks) | Lands surface change on Alaska tundra creating longer, warmer summers in Arctic (University of Virginia)

MSUNPolarSplit0805.gif (39955 bytes)

Looking at the available satellite data we see that there is little appreciable difference between land and ocean temperatures and decadal trends - except perhaps slightly faster ocean warming.

The longer perspective provided by near-surface measures suggests there's nothing unusual about recent warming.

HadCRGG75N0705.gif (22642 bytes)
GHCN64-90N2004.gif (21184 bytes)

Similarly, the entire frigid zone shows no net warming over more than six decades.

Readers may recall we had some discussion early in the year where we looked in more detail at apparent Arctic trends, discovering a steady and consistent rate over the available one and one-quarter century record - all bar the anomalous "global cooling" scare period.

Arctic1880-2004_5.gif (30718 bytes)

Of course, if in doubt about Alaska, ask the Alaskans: from the Alaska Climate Research Center we can see some fascinating regional history surrounding the 1976 phase shift:

The period post phase shift gives an entirely different impression of Alaskan temperatures and trends, no?

"EU sees no major post-Kyoto climate deal at talks" - "OTTAWA - The European Union does not expect a binding agreement to emerge from major talks designed to find a way of replacing the Kyoto climate change accord, the EU's environment commissioner said on Thursday." (Reuters)

"Climate change hurts Africa most: scientists" - "NAIROBI - Africa contributes least to global climate change, but is bearing the brunt of the phenomenon that is expected to exacerbate food shortages in the long term, scientists warned on Thursday." (Reuters)

"Report says global warming could spark conflict" - "CANBERRA - Rising world temperatures could cause a significant increase in disease across Asia and Pacific Island nations, leading to conflict and leaving hundreds of millions of people displaced, a new report said on Thursday." (Reuters)

"Full of Hot Air" - "A climate alarmist takes on “criminals against humanity”" (Sallie Baliunas, Reason)

"Marine bacterium suspected to play role in global carbon and nitrogen cycles" - "Scientists are now revisiting, and perhaps revising, their thinking about how Archaea, an ancient kingdom of single-celled microorganisms, are involved in maintaining the global balance of nitrogen and carbon. Researchers have discovered the first Archaea known to oxidize ammonia for energy and metabolize carbon dioxide by successfully growing the tentatively named, Nitrosopumilus maritimus, in the lab." (National Science Foundation)

"Encourage Supply: A Cure for the Public's Anger" - "An angry public wants quick relief from high prices" at the pump, says Business Week. That's hardly a surprise. Over the past year, the Energy Department reports, a gallon of regular gasoline has gone from $1.86 to $2.96. But even at less than bottled water, $3 gasoline hurts consumers and the economy as a whole. The question, however, is what to do?" (James K. Glassman, TCS)

Oh great! Now WHO's out to destroy drug development: "WHO Urges Nations to Bypass Patent Laws" - "NOUMEA, New Caledonia -- Countries facing severe HIV and AIDS epidemics should consider using domestic or international trade rules to circumvent patent laws on anti-retroviral drug therapies, a World Health Organization official said Friday. Dr. Bernard Fabre-Teste, WHO's adviser for the disease in the Western Pacific region, said the lack of low-cost AIDS drugs was ''a key problem'' for many developing countries. ''Which is why we need the possibility to have production of generic drugs by developing countries like India, China (and) Vietnam,'' Fabre-Teste told The Associated Press on the last day of a WHO conference in New Caledonia." (AP)

One step forward... "Rise in MMR vaccine uptake rate" - "The proportion of children who were vaccinated with the MMR jab increased in England last year. Statistics show 81% of two-year-olds were vaccinated in 2004/05 - up from 80% in the previous year. The rise is the first since doubts were cast on the safety of the vaccine - which protects against measles, mumps and rubella. Research which linked the jab to autism has since been discredited - but uptake rates remain below official targets." (BBC)

... and: "Pesticide protection 'inadequate'" - "The public needs more protection from farming pesticides, a report warns. The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution report said more research was needed into a possible link between pesticides and ill health." (BBC)

"Fears about exposure to crop spraying gain ground" - "Up to 1.5 million people who live near or visit fields sprayed with pesticides need better health protection and more information, says Britain's leading environmental body, which yesterday condemned government regulation as inadequate and flawed." (The Guardian)

"Breast-feeding still best despite environmental chemicals in human milk" - "The presence of environmental chemicals in human milk does not necessarily indicate health risks for infants, according to researchers." (Penn State)

"California's Policies Are Based on True Lies" - "It hasn't been the best of times for California's Arnold Schwarzenegger lately. So last week's Summit on Health, Nutrition and Obesity, finally provided the Terminator with a few minutes of celebrity filled photo-ops with the likes of Dr. Phil, SpongeBob SquarePants, Jared, and other deep thinkers about childhood obesity." (John Luik, TCS)

"Motor oil may up arthritis risk" - "Occupational exposure to motor oil and similar substances may increase the risk of arthritis, research suggests." (BBC)

"Genetically Altered Plant Attracts Bug 'Bodyguards'" - "A new genetically modified plant uses chemical signals to invite predatory bugs to dine on unwelcome guests munching on its leaves." (National Geographic News)

"EU farmers plant more genetically altered corn" - "PARIS Farmers in five European Union countries, including France and Germany, have begun commercial growing of genetically modified corn and industry officials said on Thursday that the trend would continue next year." (Reuters)

September 22, 2005

Citigroup urged to diversify its 'Environment Partners' program - "We believe that Citigroup’s current Environment Partners program is philosophically imbalanced and appears to be restricted to policy organizations with anti-business social and political agendas, said Steve Milloy..." (PRweb)

Get involved...

"Fighting malaria with DDT in South Africa" - "South Africa has substantially reduced its malaria prevalence rates by using DDT in indoor residual spraying programmes - when will its neighbours follow suit?" (AFM)

"Malaria Epidemic Threatening 6 Million Ethiopians" - "With more than 6 million Ethiopians, most of them children, threatened by a potential nationwide malaria epidemic, and polio continuing to spread, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned that it urgently needs nearly $22 million to ward off the danger of tens of thousands of additional deaths." (Press Release: United Nations)

"Earth Sense in the Balance: Is President Bush prepared to Make Al Gore’s vision a reality?" - "This week, Bush-administration officials are meeting in Vienna to discuss a United Nations plan to globalize environmental regulation. Dubbed the "Strategic Approach to Global Management of Chemicals" or SAICM, the program is anything but strategic. SAICM would attempt to regulate basically all substances in commerce — manmade and natural — and would attempt to manage all the world's solid and hazardous waste. And in time, it could easily spill into other areas — air and water." (Angela Logomasini, NRO)

"Judge Orders Study of Whether Pesticides Are Jeopardizing California Red-Legged Frog" - "SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge has ordered officials to study whether 66 common agricultural pesticides are harming a red-legged frog believed to have inspired a short story by Mark Twain. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White ruled Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency must consult with biologists to determine whether, as environmentalists allege, the pesticides are harming the frog." (Associated Press)

"Next phase in protecting species: living with them" - "Large predator populations are growing across the US, raising concerns over how to manage healthy biodiversity." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Top 10 Reasons Not To Put Cancer Warnings on Fries and Chips" - "For the past three years -- ever since Swedish scientists found the chemical acrylamide in food (particularly in high-starch foods cooked at elevated temperatures) -- there has been chatter among journalists and environmental advocates about the possible cancer risk of this chemical and the need to alert consumers to the possible dangers associated with eating French fries and chips." ( Elizabeth M. Whelan, ACSH)

"A danger that swirls in the air of Europe" - "A new report from the WHO says that the average European city dweller can expect to die a year before the end of his or her natural life span because of particulate air pollution." (International Herald Tribune)

Mad Margot's not going to be happy about this: "EC chief vows to scrap 'absurd' rules" - "The head of the European Commission vowed yesterday to hold a bonfire of "absurd" EU directives and rules, saying that Brussels should not be a "bureaucratic monster". Jose Manuel Barroso, a former Portuguese prime minister, who took office last year trumpeting his pro-business credentials, declared that crafting "better regulation" was one of the central themes of a strategy meeting this week of all 25 European commissioners. The group retired to a chateau in the Belgian countryside to debate ways out of the EU's current economic and political doldrums." (London Telegraph)

"Seeing the eye: Weather model advances hurricane intensity prediction" - "An advanced research weather model run by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is following Hurricane Rita to give scientists a taste of how forecast models of the future may predict hurricane track, intensity, and important rain and wind features." (NCAR/UCAR)

"Global warming cause of intense hurricanes? Ocean temperature could be the factor behind the record season" - "NEW YORK - In recorded history, two storms as powerful as Hurricanes Rita and Katrina have never hit the United States in one season. A coincidence, perhaps, but scientists say ocean temperature could be big factor." (NBC News)

"Hurricane link to climate change is hazy" - "Research may show why storms in different regions respond differently to global warming." (Nature)

"Katrina disaster may stir US awareness on climate change: green groups" - "Hurricane Katrina may encourage greater awareness of global warming in the United States, but the prospect of any policy shift by Washington can be ruled out in the near term, environmentalists say." (AFP)

Letters of the moment: "Baptists, bootleggers and global warming" - A couple of good responses to moonbattiness (The Guardian)

"Heatwave makes plants warm planet" - "A new study shows that during the 2003 heatwave, European plants produced more carbon dioxide than they absorbed from the atmosphere. They produced nearly a tenth as much as fossil fuel burning globally. The study shows that ecosystems which currently absorb CO2 from the atmosphere may in future produce it, adding to the greenhouse effect." (BBC)

"Heatwave study raises new global warming fear" - "Global warming could reduce harvests and plant growth, with a serious effect on farm productivity, scientists will warn on Thursday." (Financial Times)

"Heatwave of 2003 caused worst crop slump for 100 years" - "The heatwave that struck Europe two years ago caused the biggest fall in agricultural output for 100 years, a study is showing." (Telegraph.co.uk)

"Climate report: Warmer and drier in the West" - "Taking a broad look at the West's four major river basins the Columbia, Colorado, Missouri and Rio Grande climate researchers have concluded that changes in temperatures and precipitation patterns are threatening the region s snow and water resources." (Summit Daily News)

"New alert over global warming threat to cod" - "COD stocks in the seas off the west coast of Britain could be completely wiped out in 20 years as a result of global warming, a leading marine scientist claimed yesterday." (The Scotsman)

What a surprise: It's not that bad - it's worse! "Impact of global warming on weather patterns underestimated" - "The impact of global warming on European weather patterns has been underestimated, according to a new report published in Nature this week. The Northern Hemisphere Circulation study found that present climate change models – computer representations of the atmosphere, ocean and land surface - have underestimated the changes in air pressure, leading to an underestimate of the impact of global warming on weather patterns." (University of East Anglia)

"How to avoid severe climate change discussed at CO2 conference" - "The kind of devastation seen on the Gulf Coast from Hurricane Katrina may be a small taste of what is to come if emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) are not diminished soon, warns Dr. Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology in his opening remarks at the 7th International Carbon Dioxide Conference in Boulder, Colorado, September 26, 2005." (PhysOrg)

"No stopping deaths from climate change" - "Thousands of Australians are likely to die by the end of the century because of human-induced climate change, even if tough action is taken to reduce greenhouse emissions, predicts a report launched today. The report was commissioned by the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and Australian Conservation Foundation, and prepared by population health experts from Australia and New Zealand. "Regardless of the emissions policies taken by governments at this point in time, the climate over this century will continue to change as a result of human influence and additional health impacts will accrue as a result," says the report." (ABC Science Online)

"The greening of Howard and Bush" - "Hot news in the global carbon debate: Australia and the US are in it, writes Jon Stanford. THE recent agreement on climate change between Australia and the US, Japan, China, India and South Korea represents a welcome development in global greenhouse policy." (The Age)

Newsflash: they were never out of it, they just didn't blindly endorse utterly useless appendages to irrelevant protocols.

"Environment groups says ministers must work faster on pollution control" - "Some 340 environmental groups challenged Kyoto Protocol signatories to and set a new timetable to reduce pollution emissions being resisted by some countries." (AFP via Yahoo! News)

"Canada's reputation at stake: Environmentalists" - "OTTAWA -- Environmental groups are stressing that Canada's reputation will be on the line at the Climate Change conference to be held in Montreal this November." (Canada.com)

"International environment ministers launch new Kyoto talks in Ottawa" - "OTTAWA - Environment ministers from more than 30 countries will gather here this weekend to open what is likely to be a difficult and bitter new round of negotiations on climate change." (CP)

"Ministers' conference focuses on energy sustainability" - "Canada's energy ministers concluded their annual meeting in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, today and acknowledged the direct impact that higher energy costs will have on all Canadians and some sectors of the Canadian economy." (Natural Resources Canada)

"Japan Government may buy Heavy CO2 Credit Volume from 2006" - "TOKYO - Japan's government said it might begin to buy carbon dioxide (CO2) credits from next April on fears that voluntary efforts by industries may not achieve the country's target to cut greenhouse gases." (Reuters)

"Minister says tax could cut airline pollution" - "Environment minister Elliot Morley yesterday promised to press for increased taxes on air travel as a new report from climate scientists outlined the scale of greenhouse gas pollution produced by aviation. Mr Morley said including air travel in international carbon trading schemes remained his preferred option to limit emissions, but added that he supported interim measures such as raising airport tax to restrict passenger numbers." (The Guardian)

"A push to build new US refineries" - "It took one of the nation's worst natural disasters to do it. But momentum is growing to build new refineries in the United States after a 29-year hiatus." (Christian Science Monitor)

"Megatons to Megawatts Eliminates Equivalent of 10,000 Nuclear Warheads" - "The Megatons to Megawatts program has completed the elimination of weapons-grade uranium equal to 10,000 nuclear warheads, USEC Inc. announced today. Highly enriched uranium from former Soviet nuclear warheads once aimed at the United States has been converted, diluted and recycled into low-enriched uranium fuel purchased by USEC." (Business Wire via Yahoo! Finance)

"Clean car, but will its fuel be?" - "They're experimental and cost about $500,000 apiece. But if affordable hydrogen vehicles ever make it out of the lab and into the showroom, then the United States will breathe a bit easier. Replacing gasoline with hydrogen would reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil - and cut pollution. But even if all the technical hurdles are overcome, one big challenge remains: Where will that hydrogen fuel come from?" (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Asia must change age-old farming to stop disease: WHO" - "NOUMEA, New Caledonia - Asia must change age-old farming practices to reduce contact between people and poultry to limit bird flu and prevent new animal diseases infecting humans, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday. In launching a five-year plan to combat emerging diseases in the Asia-Pacific region, WHO said on average one new disease had occurred every year for the past 20 years, mainly in Africa and Asia, and eventually one will become a pandemic." (Reuters)

"New Crops that could Help Prevent Famine Launched" - "NAIROBI - A research group on Wednesday launched newly developed fast-maturing and drought-resistant crops it said could help prevent the type of food shortages experienced in West and Central Africa." (Reuters)

"Genetically engineered animals help in scientific research that may benefit children" - "The recent use of genetically modified mice and rats in combination with an animal model of obstructive nephropathy, a type of renal disease, has given researchers new insight in the development of kidney disease. This research is published in the September issue of Kidney International." (Blackwell Publishing Ltd.)

"Trial of French farmer on ripping up genetically modified crops draws to a close" - "The trial of France's highest-profile farmer, Jose Bove, a Green Party lawmaker and seven others facing prison terms for ripping up a field of genetically modified corn planted by an American company drew to a close Wednesday. Green Party lawmaker Noel Mamere and the other defendants each face up to five years in prison and a US$91,000 fine if found guilty. Bove, as a repeat offender, would face the stiffest penalty - 10 years in prison and a US$182,000 fine - for uprooting the corn on July 25, 2004, which belonged to a U.S. seed company that is a subsidiary of Dupont." (Pravda.ru)

September 21, 2005

"Academic medical centers face multiple challenges for conducting medical research" - "To maintain their effectiveness for conducting medical research, academic medical centers must face critical issues such as constrained funding sources, scientific integrity, recruiting physician-scientists, and the increasing costs of research, according to an article in the September 21 issue of JAMA, a theme issue on medical research." (JAMA and Archives Journals)

"Funding for biomedical research doubles in last decade" - "From 1994 to 2003, total funding for biomedical research in the US doubled to $94.3 billion, with industry providing 57 percent of the funding and the National Institutes of Health providing 28 percent, according to a study in the September 21 issue of JAMA, a theme issue on medical research." (JAMA and Archives Journals)

"Americans think commitment to health research should be stronger" - "Most Americans rate medical research as a high national priority and strongly support greater public and private funding, according to an article in the September 21 issue of JAMA, a theme issue on medical research. However, recent opinion surveys indicate that Americans also are increasingly dissatisfied with the nation's health care system and think the national commitment to health-related research should be higher." (JAMA and Archives Journals)

"A Fright Over Fries" - "The discovery of a substance in French fries that may cause cancer has led to a showdown over whether such foods should bear health warning labels." (New York Times)

Toil assoc. trying to create fear: "UK: High pesticide levels found in free fruit for schoolchildren" - "Free fruit and vegetables distributed by the government to children contain over 25% more pesticide residues than fruit and vegetables on sale in shops, according to an analysis by the Soil Association of the results of official tests. The tests, conducted by the government's pesticide residues committee, also show there are nearly 30% more instances of multiple pesticide residues in school fruit and vegetables than in retail samples." (The Guardian)

"Air pollution found to pose greater danger to health than earlier thought" - "In this study, USC scientists report that fine airborne particles in Southern California wield two to three times greater effects on health than scientists earlier believed -- causing significantly more early deaths, especially from ischemic heart disease (such as heart attack) and lung cancer. The research is based on the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study II, which policymakers have widely cited in setting national air-quality standards." (University of Southern California)

"Brussels bows to industry on plans to clean up air quality" - "Controversial plans to improve Europe's air quality have been diluted by the European Commission following protests from industry, reducing projected annual compliance costs from €12bn to €7.1bn. The proposal, expected to be approved by the EU executive today, aims to reduce the number of premature deaths caused by pollution in the EU from 370,000 a year to 225,000 by 2020. It would introduce tougher controls on particulate matter, or fine dust, which accounts for most premature deaths. But it would introduce less stringent emission ceilings for air pollutants such as nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and ammonia than had been envisaged before the summer." (Financial Times)

"Experts develop global action plan to save amphibians facing extinction" - "A summit of leading scientists have agreed to an action plan intended to save hundreds of frogs, salamanders and other amphibians facing extinction from familiar threats such as pollution and habitat destruction, as well as a little-known fungus wiping out their populations." (Conservation International)

"Survey: Why Pro-Environmental Views Don’t Always Translate Into Votes" - "The survey of 800 registered voters found that 79 percent favored "stronger national standards to protect our land, air and water," but only 22 percent said environmental concerns have played a major role in determining whom they voted for." (Duke News)

Nor is there any guarantee anyone's willing to pay for what they say they desire: Greenspace no guarantee of greenbacks (.pdf)

"Spain's greenhouse effect: the shimmering sea of polythene consuming the land" - "To grow food all year, Almería is cloaked in plastic. But soil-free farming is bringing prosperity and problems." (The Guardian)

"Heavy hurricanes due to weather cycles, NHC chief says" - "WASHINGTON - The current cycle of heavy hurricanes blowing across the Atlantic Ocean probably will continue for another 10 to 20 years as a result of natural weather patterns not global warming, the head of the National Hurricane Center told the US Congress." (AFP)

Boy, AGW must be something - now we're starting to toast the neighbours! "Mars getting warmer, may have quakes" - "LOS ANGELES - The climate on Mars is showing a warming trend and recent images have shown the first evidence of seismic activity on Earth's neighbor planet, scientists said on Tuesday." (Reuters)

"The Sun does not behave while the Earth is threatened by dust cloud - Even scientists are surprised at large solar outbursts" - "According to the forecasts everything must be peaceful and quiet on the Sun now", senior researcher at the Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics of the Russian Academy of Science, Sergey Yazev says. "The maximum of the solar activity in this cycle came in 2000. The minimum was will be in 2006. We've just observed abnormal burst of activity on the Sun. The reasons are unknown yet".

Looks like something unusual is going on. Yazev adds, "Scientists on Earth started watching the Sun from satellites and orbital telescopes only in the beginning of the 1970s. Since then there were no such anomalies. But that does not necessarily mean that this never happened at all. Maybe such outbursts happen once in fifty or hundred years. There are no reasons for panic. I think that earth dwellers will keep warm under the sun for the next couple of years." (Pravda.ru)

"Let's Be Brutally Honest: There Won't Be Any More Kyoto Treaties" (.pdf) - "MR. BLAIR: I think that – three points I would like to make here. The first is that I think, whether for reasons to do with concern over global warming or for reasons to do with concern over energy security and supplies, I think this issue is coming together in an important way. It’s there now on the agenda and I’m pleased about that. I think it’s very important.

The second thing, though, is that I think – and I would say probably I’m changing my thinking about this in the past two or three years. I think if we are going to get action on this, we have got to start from the brutal honesty about the politics of how we deal with it. The truth is no country is going to cut its growth or consumption substantially in the light of a long-term environmental problem. What countries are prepared to do is to try to work together cooperatively to deal with this problem in a way that allows us to develop the science and technology in a beneficial way. Now, I don’t think all of the answers lie in just – in developing the science and technology, but I do think there is no way we are going to tackle this problem unless we develop the science and technology capable of doing it.

And that really brings me to the third point, which is I think the point that you were really raising, which is, well, how do you create the forces that drive people then to develop the science and technology?... " (Clinton Global Initiative, Special Opening Plenary Session)

"Greenhouse gas controls bad business" - "Like many before them and no doubt many to come after them, Maine officials are currently working on a plan to regulate in-state greenhouse gas emissions. While their intentions are no doubt good, their efforts are misguided and would harm the state's economy if implemented. The move to limit greenhouse gas emissions - which come from many sources including factories, households, utilities, motor vehicles and livestock - grows out of a belief on the part of many that such gases contribute to global warming. While that issue is the subject of debate, what is hardly debatable is the fact that the plan now under consideration in Maine would be a setback to economic progress." (Bangor Daily News)

"Coral's discovery may yield 300 years of data" - "A huge cone of ancient coral has been discovered in the waters off Hollywood, offering scientists an unusual opportunity to learn about global warming, sewage pollution and the decline of the Everglades." (Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

The Importance of Caveats in Scientific Studies: They can reduce the significance of an experimental finding to little more than a grain of salt, as shown in the case of a paper recently published in Science.

Subject Index Summaries
Health Effects (Temperature - Hot vs. Cold: Asia): Would global warming have positive or negative consequences - or possibly none at all - for the health of the people of Asia?

Mammals: How are they affected by the "twin evils" of the radical environmentalist movement, i.e., rising air temperatures and CO 2 concentrations?

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: American Pokeweed, Perennial Ryegrass, Red Oat, and St. John's Wort.

Journal Reviews
Five Decades of Dust Storms in China: How have they varied, and what should we expect for the future?

Give Peace a Chance: Turn Up the Heat!: Which has been more closely linked to wars and societal unrest in China over the past thousand years: warm temperatures or cold temperatures?

China's Net Primary Productivity: 1982 to 1999: How far did it fall in response to concomitant increases in the air's CO 2 concentration and temperature, which climate alarmists describe as unprecedented over the past two millennia in the case of temperature and much, much longer in the case of CO 2 ?

Soil Carbon Contents of England and Wales: How have they changed over the past quarter century?

Historical Changes in the Water-Use Efficiencies of Tropical Trees: How have they responded to the anthropogenic CO 2 emissions of the Industrial Revolution? (co2science.org)

"Alberta firms studying ways to ship, sell CO2" - "CALGARY -- Major players in the oil sands of northern Alberta are in talks to form a consortium to turn carbon dioxide emissions from hot air into cold cash." (Globe and Mail)

"New blueprint for storing carbon" - "The world is set to get its first official blueprint on capturing and storing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide when a peak climate change organisation meets next week. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has brought together more than 100 scientists from around the world to put together the Special report on carbon dioxide, capture and storage, which examines a number of options including geosequestration. Dr John Bradshaw of Geoscience Australia is the lead author of two chapters in the 550-page report, which is awaiting review by the IPCC in Montreal, Canada on 26 September. If the IPCC adopts the report it will provide countries around the world with official guidelines for burying CO2 emissions, Bradshaw says. "This essentially will be a textbook on carbon dioxide capture and storage, the first to bring it all together," he says." (ABC Science Online)

"Aviation 'huge threat to CO2 aim'" - "If the rapid growth in air travel is not curbed UK households and businesses will have to cut carbon dioxide emissions to zero, a report has warned." (BBC)

"West's natural resources industries booms" - "Some two decades after the West's last oil bust, production of coal, natural gas, oil and uranium is on the upswing as the world's energy supplies dwindle and demand rises unabated. Even oil shale is getting a fresh look." (Associated Press)

"Standing Up" - "Just when you thought the enemies of biotechnology couldn’t sink any lower, they somehow manage to explore new depths of depravity. Consider the case of John Vidal, the environmental editor of The Guardian, an influential British newspaper. In a column earlier this month, he described what he called Hurricane Katrina’s “silver lining.”" (Dean Kleckner, Truth About Trade & Technology)

"UCR biochemist goes to Washington with high-protein corn" - "Daniel Gallie, professor of biochemistry at UC Riverside, will present his research on high-protein corn before a congressional committee in Washington, D.C., Sept. 23. The research holds promise for efficiently feeding such corn to people and livestock all over the world. Gallie's research on doubling the protein content of corn grain adds significant value to the crop, benefiting corn producers. Moreover, his technology nearly doubles corn oil, the most valuable content of corn grain, and significantly increases the grain's value." (University of California - Riverside)

Sigh... "Modified feed bad for South Africa's meat" - "South African meat and dairy producers risk losing European export markets if they feed their livestock on genetically modified crops, US author Jeffrey Smith said yesterday." (Business Day)

Doh! It just gets worse and worse... "Don't trust favourable GM reports - expert" - "An author on a mission to expose the dangers of genetically modified food has arrived in South Africa with tales of corporate espionage and biotech bullies. "If there was no deception in the United States (about GM food), I would not be here," Jeffrey Smith said on Saturday. The bestselling writer, who is at the forefront of the fight against GM foods with his international exposé Seeds of Deception, is touring the African continent, raising awareness of the dangers of GM foods." (The Star)

... and worse: "'Eat Safe, Eat Smart Buy-Cott' Puts Consumers' Mouth Where Their Money Is, Health Freedom Organization Says 'No' to GMOs" - " September 20, 2005 -- "Eat Safe, Eat Smart" means saying "No" to Genetically Modified Foods, according to the Natural Solutions Foundation (NSF), a leading Health Freedom organization. Unlike a Boycott, which tells people what not to purchase, a "Buy-Cott" is an affirmative action giving consumers positive options for their purchases." (PRWEB)

"EU farm ministers deadlocked over GMO maize approval" - "BRUSSELS - EU agriculture ministers fell short of a required majority vote on Tuesday to authorise imports of a genetically modified (GMO) maize, again revealing their deep divisions over biotech foods, officials said." (Reuters)

"S. Korean Gov't To Better Regulate Genetically Modified LMOs" - "SEOUL, Sept 20 - The government plans to tighten its controls on the import, distribution and production of living modified organism (LMO) products from the first half of next year, government officials said Tuesday." (Asia Pulse)

September 20, 2005

"Conservation groups want $404M for frogs" - "WASHINGTON - International conservation groups proposed a $404 million effort Monday to preserve frogs and other amphibians whose sensitive, porous skins often make them the first indicator of when nature goes awry. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Conservation International and other groups said they plan a series of emergency actions and long-term research that includes describing at least 1,000 new species, preventing future habitat loss and reducing trade in amphibians for food and pets." (Associated Press)

"Rethinking beachfront building after Katrina" - "As Gulf Coast residents assess the massive cost of rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina, shoreline specialists say it's a good time to stop beachfront rebuilding and move any future homes back away from the ocean. "If this doesn't tell us we shouldn't be there, and that we don't belong there - then nothing will," said Orrin Pilkey, a geology professor and director of Duke University's program for the study of developed shorelines. Pilkey said Katrina showed the problems that will reoccur in hurricane-vulnerable zones in Florida and on the Gulf Coast where construction has been booming since the Great Depression. "There seems to be some kind of societal madness for people to live next to the shore that is eroding or subject to storms," he said." (Scripps Howard News Service)

"Katrina has role in fight over environmental law" - "NEW ORLEANS — A controversial project to build a hurricane barrier for New Orleans 40 years ago and an environmental lawsuit that stopped construction have moved to the center of a political battle to change federal environmental laws." (Los Angeles Times)

"Comment on Webster et al. September 16, 2005 Science Article “Changes in Tropical Cyclone Number, Duration, and Intensity in a Warming Environment”" - "The September 16, 2005 article by Webster et al. in Science concludes that there has been a large increase in the number and proportion of hurricanes reaching Saffir-Simpson category 4 and 5 hurricanes over the past decade. They report that these increases have taken place while the number of tropical cyclones and tropical cyclone days has decreased in all basins except the North Atlantic." (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

We've had a lot of e-mail requests for a "simple" answer to the question of warmer oceans and more powerful storms, which we have been denying on the grounds the atmosphere is far from simple. However, the need appears great and growing, so, against our better judgement, we'll try to give the simplest possible response while staying (kind of) accurate.

"The papers have been full of recent studies saying hurricanes are fewer but more powerful because of global warming. Is this true?"

That there have been such statements in the media is true but the simple "warmer seas = fewer but stronger storms" statement is somewhat dubious. That severe tropical storms (hurricanes/cyclones/typhoons according to region) require warm sea surface temperatures (of at least 26.5 °C [80 °F]) is true and category 5 storms require temperatures of 28 °C (82.5 °F). Oceans do not suddenly leap to these surface temperatures however and, since they must warm (and cool) through lower temperatures suitable for the formation and sustenance of lesser storms, there is no obvious reason for a reduction in lesser storms just because temperatures peak a little higher over the season. If it was simply a correlation between sea surface temperatures and storms then warmer seas could be expected to provide suitable conditions for longer periods and produce more storms rather than fewer, so "warmer seas = fewer but stronger storms" is obviously an overly simplistic and broken proposition.

"Current Climate, Weather Scenario Not Seen for 50 to 100 Years" - "MIAMI, Florida, September 19, 2005 - Florida scientists and engineers studying extreme weather patterns this summer say that they are the result of the rare convergence of climatic and weather phenomena. The simultaneous occurrence of all current weather activity may not have taken place in the last 50 to 100 years or longer, they say. Dr. Jayantha Obeysekera, director of the Hydrologic and Environmental Systems Modeling Department at the South Florida Water Management District, said, “We are experiencing an uncommon event. South Florida climate varies in cycles, some that form patterns with long return frequencies. This certainly is an event of a magnitude that normally occurs once every 50 to 100 years." (ENS)

"Shock weather warning to send a chill down your spine" - "DUST down your overcoat and search out the gloves - chilly times are on the way. Ireland, in common with most of northern Europe, is in for a cold, cold winter, according to far-reaching forecasts which show the temperature is set to plummet. Using an experimental method comparing pressure differences across the oceans, forecasters have warned that Ireland is set to be notably colder than usual in late January and February. The British Met Office has warned power suppliers to be braced for the extra demand on gas and electricity." (Irish Independent)

"Dramatic rise in bloodsucking ticks predicted for Eastern Canada" - "OTTAWA - Bloodsucking ticks that cause Lyme disease can be expected to flourish in much of Eastern Canada as climate change brings milder winters, researchers say." (CP)

Makes you really appreciate Tony Blair: "New Tory initiative to cut greenhouse gases" - "The Government is under growing pressure to enter into a cross-party agreement on tackling climate change, as Britain's emissions continue to rise. The latest initiative comes from Oliver Letwin, the Conservative environment spokesman, who will propose this week that an independent body, like the Bank of England, should preside over the transition to a low carbon economy." (London Telegraph)

"Federal environment minister outlines progress toward climate change" - "VANCOUVER - Canada's environmental performance ranking in various categories varies from second to 28th among 30 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries and there is much work to do, federal Environment Minister Stephane Dion said Monday. The minister, who has been in his current portfolio for about a year, gave a sort of report card address on where Canada's stands in terms of its commitments to reducing harmful emissions as part of the Kyoto Accord." (CP)

"Climate Litigation Will Increase" - "The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California last month issued an order denying a motion for summary dismissal in the case of Friends of the Earth and others versus officers of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and Export-Import Bank, both wholly owned corporations of the U.S. government. While the immediate impact of this ruling is limited, it sets out some important precedents and illustrates the hurdles that would have to be overcome by plaintiffs seeking redress through the courts for the adverse impacts of climate change." (Oxford Analytica)

The latest in moonbattiness: "It would seem that I was wrong about big business" - "Corporations are ready to act on global warming but are thwarted by ministers who resist regulation in the name of the market." (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

More? Nope! Just The Indy trying to out-Guardian The Guardian - literally hysterically funny: "Your Planet: And how you can save it" - "The past 150 years have been a freakish epoch in human history. On the one hand, they have brought unprecedented prosperity; on the other, they have caused undreamt of - and potentially catastrophic- environmental change. Now, says Johann Hari, we must recognise the party is over and explains why our world is at a crossroads." | Save your planet | Your Planet: The green gourmet | Your Planet: Green deliveries | Clouding the atmosphere | Changing lives | The green directory | Gift of the green gab | Needs you | The case for rationing | The state we're in | The storm approaches (London Independent)

"Firms pressure Russia to adopt Kyoto mechanisms" - "MOSCOW, Sept 19 - Two top Russian firms, power monopoly UES and services group Sistema, pressed the government on Monday to pass laws needed to implement the Kyoto Protocol, saying a lack of clarity was endangering environmental projects. A year ago, Russia's ratification of the treaty, which seeks to stabilise emissions of greenhouse gases, was greeted with jubilation by green groups, who saw it as a key step in battling global warming. But since its ratification, which allowed it to come into force worldwide, Russia has done little to create the mechanisms needed to implement its terms." (Reuters)

Um, guys? Russian ratification was strictly a bargaining chip - surely you knew that?

Usual UN concept of 'economically' ... "Bury climate-warming gas, scientists say" - "PARIS - Deep underground storage of carbon dioxide could prevent between 20 and 40 percent of global emissions, largely responsible for global warming, between now and 2050, according to a report by UN scientists obtained by AFP. Between 220 and 2,200 billion tonnes of CO2 could be economically stored underground in geological structures such as empty oil and gas fields and in the deep ocean between now and 2100, the report said. This currently experimental process would involve collecting the carbon dioxide from large emitters such as power stations and heavy industry and then transporting it to selected sites and injecting it underground or into the ocean. Current cost estimates for this process range from 15 to 75 dollars per tonne of CO2." (AFP)

Dopey stunt du jour: "Greenpeace calls for a climate council" - "The environmental organisation Greenpeace is calling for a national climate council to introduce immediate measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions." (swissinfo)

"More Intense Heat Waves Could Slam California's Energy Grid" - "Climate change and rolling blackouts may be a package deal. More frequent and intense heat waves expected in California over the next 100 years could overburden the state’s electric utility grid, according to a study led by scientists in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory." (LBNL)

"Cost of keeping cool expected to heat up" - "Temperatures are starting to fall after one of Chicago's hottest summers, but prices for central air conditioners are forecast to climb. The reason? New federal energy regulations will make 90 percent of the systems now produced obsolete next year." (Chicago Tribune)

"Indian airspace buzzes with first-time flyers as budget airlines stage a revolution" - "Passengers leave the trains behind for fast, cheap but polluting travel by plane." (The Guardian)

"GAO Calls for More Oversight of Wind Farms" - "WASHINGTON - A government report urged federal officials on Monday to take a more active role in weighing the impact of wind power farms on bird and bat deaths, saying local and state regulators sometimes lack the necessary expertise. The report by the Government Accountability Office, Congress' investigative arm, found that the federal government offers minimal oversight in approving wind power plants, leaving decision-making at the state and local level. As a result, the GAO found, ``No one is considering the impacts of wind power on a regional or 'ecosystem' scale - a scale that often spans governmental jurisdictions.'' The GAO urged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to work with state and local officials to alert them about proposed wind farms' impacts on wildlife." (AP)

"Australia: GMO crop ban 'costing up to $6bn'" - "STATE bans on genetically modified crops will cost Australia up to $6 billion and hurt farmers targeting new markets, the nation's chief commodities forecaster said." (AAP)

"French maize farmer sees more GMO converts" - "PARIS - When Pierre, a 50-year-old French maize farmer, was offered the chance to grow his first genetically-modified (GMO) crops, he jumped at the chance and predicts many others will soon follow suit." (Reuters)

"EU Governments Block Approval of Monsanto Hybrid Corn Variety" - "A committee of European Union national experts blocked approval of a Monsanto Co. genetically modified corn variety for animal feed, passing the dossier on to ministers for further consideration." (Bloomberg)

"U.S. Military Buys Tomatoes, Lettuce From Davis, Calif., Farm" - "Sep. 20--The U.S. military, which runs dining halls around the world, is spending nearly $3 million to fund a Davis firm's quest for longer-lasting tomatoes and heads of lettuce. Arcadia Biosciences, a 3-year-old agricultural biotech firm, has won a $2.9 million Department of Defense contract to develop tomatoes and lettuce that can survive the rigors of long-distance sea shipping. The hope is that the seed money will fund research and commercialization of the produce, which the military could then buy and ship around the world." (The Sacramento Bee)

September 19, 2005
New Climate Graphics

Lots of requests have finally resulted in our producing zonal/regional graphics from UAH MSU (v 5.2) and Hadley Centre (HadCET & HadCRUG) datasets. These will not likely be the final set since some more desirable subsets are available and they may not remain in their current form. Nonetheless there are a couple of dozen new ways to view Earth's (or part of its) recent temperature trend, some dating back to the mid-1800s, with Central England back to the mid-1600s. Enjoy.

"The Millennium Development Goal Merry-Go-Round" - "This week the world's leaders are gathering in New York to discuss the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These goals were set in 2000 by the United Nations and aim to improve the lot of humanity on a whole host of fronts by 2015. But instead of setting goals, the UN and poor country governments should be concentrating on how to grow their economies and lift people out of poverty." (Richard Tren, TCS)

Utter rubbish: "Public needs better protection from pesticides" - "People are being poisoned by toxic pesticides because the government’s attempts to protect them are flawed and inadequate, advisers will warn ministers this week." (Glasgow Sunday Herald)

Much improved: "Poison experts attack 'hysteria' over chemicals" - "Britain's leading poison experts united last week to denounce pressure groups for mounting a 'hysterical, scaremongering' campaign about dangerous chemicals in the environment." (The Observer)

"On these report cards, 'F' might be for 'fat'" - "As they wait for their children's first report cards to come home this year, elementary-school parents across Pennsylvania also can expect to get a separate report on a key indicator of their children's health." (Associated Press)

"Pregnancy test link to frog fall" - "A disease threatening amphibians worldwide may have spread because of the use of frogs in pregnancy tests." (BBC)

One report... "Antarctic hole in ozone layer nears record size" - "GENEVA - The hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica has grown to near record size this year, suggesting 20 years of pollution controls have so far had little effect, the United Nations said on Friday." (Reuters)

... two slants: "U.N.: Ozone Hole May Shrink in 2005" - "GENEVA - The hole in the ozone layer this year will probably be slightly smaller than the all-time largest of 2003, signaling that depletion is still occurring but possibly at a slower rate, a U.N. agency said Friday." (Associated Press)

"Child clothes 'fail to block sun'" - "A quarter of children's clothing could be failing to give proper protection from the sun's harmful rays, experts have warned." (BBC)

Obligatory eye-roller: "The Dawn of the Hypercane?" - "BROOKLIN, Canada, Sep 16 - The number of super-powerful storms like Hurricane Katrina has nearly doubled and there will be even more in the future as the world's oceans continue to warm, scientists say." (Stephen Leahy, IPS)

algore... "Katrina shows effect of climate change, says Gore" - "Hurricane Katrina offered “a taste” of the disasters, and the response to them, that the US could expect as a consequence of climate change, former vice president Al Gore said on Saturday." (Financial Times)

"Global cooling: Seven steps you can take to fight warming of planet" - "Within days of Hurricane Katrina, it erupted into a national debate. Conservatives. Liberals. Radicals. Moderates. All of them (including Bill O'Reilly and Al Franken) were talking about a subject that usually ranks low in the media food chain (behind Iraq and Martha Stewart) but that now was on everyone's minds: global warming. Was it in any way to blame for the ferociousness of the weather system that devastated New Orleans? Scientists disagree about whether there was a connection (was Katrina more intense, for example, because of Gulf of Mexico waters heated by global warming?). Regardless, the tragedy has forced many people to rethink the threat -- and to ask how to combat a silent scourge that, like a slow-motion Godzilla, threatens to destabilize everything in its path." (Jonathan Curiel, SF Chronicle)

Here's a tip for you Jonathan, change is inevitable and we'd better hope it's a warming because a cooling globe will make feeding the world's human population much more difficult, with tragic consequences for wildlife.

"Global Warming and Hurricanes: Still No Connection" - "A scientific team led by Peter Webster of the Georgia Institute of Technology today published findings in Science magazine. The team claimed to have found evidence in the historical record of both more tropical cyclones, such as Hurricane Katrina, but also a higher percentage of more intense ones." (Patrick Michaels, TCS)

The Week That Was Sept. 17, 2005 (SEPP)

"State's climate goals praised" - "Governor's targets to slash greenhouse gas could have a broad impact worldwide. The chief scientist of Great Britain bowed to California last week for adopting one of the world's most ambitious goals to reduce emissions implicated in global climate change." (Sacramento Bee)

Oh dear... the land of fruits and nuts endorsed by a fellow who's been running around like a demented chook, making the most outrageous misstatements over enhanced greenhouse. There's an accolade for you.

Meanwhile: "Tony Blair Pulls the Plug on Kyoto at Clinton Summit" - "NEW YORK - Kyoto Treaty RIP. That's not the headline in any newspaper this morning emerging from the first day of the Clinton Global Initiative, but it could have been -- and should have been." (James Pinkerton, TCS)

From handwringer central: "UN Summit Fails World - No Action On Climate Change" - "The United Nations (UN) Summit, which ends today in New York, has been criticised by Friends of the Earth for failing to agree any firm action on climate change." (Press Release)

"Coalition of the Seething" - "The banner "STOP CLIMATE CHAOS" was unfurled in London earlier in September to announce a new coalition of eighteen social and environmental groups including Greenpeace, Oxfam, WWF, Friends of the Earth, People and Planet. What the banner should say is "STOP THE POLITICAL EXPLOITATION OF CLIMATE CHAOS." (Tim Ball, TCS)

algore-in-chief? "Clinton: why high oil prices are good thing" - "Bill Clinton revealed new "greener-than-thou" environmentalist credentials last week, privately suggesting to heads of government and industry leaders at his world forum in New York that they should celebrate the recent spike in oil prices as the best opportunity to begin weaning their nations from fossil-fuel dependency." (London Independent)

"The new Kuwait" - "A major fuel reserve in West Virginia is capable of gushing the equivalent of half the oil under the ground in Iraq, but no one is yet willing to build the refinery that will get the stuff tank-ready." (Charleston Gazette)

"If we don’t want to depend on oil, we must go nuclear" - "Britain did not come to a standstill last week — despite the predictions of the doom-sayers and the ministerial faint hearts. This time the fuel tax protesters did not halt the supplies to petrol stations. Nor is there any sign that they can force the government to its knees as they did in 2000. Sir Jonathan Porritt, who chairs the government’s Sustainable Development Commission, urged ministers not to give in to the protesters’ demands. He is right." (Sunday Times)

"US expansion of nuclear energy faces resistance" - "The US government has begun preparing the ground for a major expansion of civil nuclear power generation at home and abroad, but it faces serious problems and potentially stiff opposition in both aims." (Financial Times)

"China's new cotton strain to raise output by 25%" - "A major cotton breeding breakthrough has made China the first country in the world to commercialize a cotton strain that can resist bollworms and increase output by 25 per cent. The milestone advancement was pioneered by scientist Guo Sandui and his team at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. The breakthrough won wide acclaim from officials and experts over the weekend. Building on his success of insect-resistant, genetically-modified cotton, of which 2.3 million hectares was planted this year, Guo's research team in 1999 started to work out a molecular breeding system for hybrid cotton." (People's Daily)

September 16, 2005

"Senate Barely Squelches Mercury Panic" - "The Senate voted this week to reject an environmental activist-inspired challenge to the Bush administration’s new rules regulating mercury emissions from power plants. The vote (51-47) was a lot closer than warranted." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Tests find high mercury levels in some storebought fish" - "WASHINGTON - Store-bought swordfish and tuna in California and 21 other states contained mercury, with some showing levels above the legal limit in a study released Thursday by environmental groups." (Associated Press)

"Latest Fish-Mercury Scare Campaign Is All Wet, Says Consumer Group" - "WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 -- A report from environmental groups about mercury levels in tuna and swordfish misled the public, the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom said today. The report, issued by a coalition including Oceana and the Mercury Policy Project, claimed that store-bought fish contain levels of mercury that government officials say "may be hazardous to human health, particularly children." This is false." (PRNewswire)

"Experts say no human problem with pharmaceuticals in drinking water" - "After the 2002 publication in ES&T of monitoring data showing a wealth of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in U.S. streams, researchers scrambled to understand the significance of the findings. Now some scientists say the concerns were overblown." (Environmental Science & Technology)

"DBPs not associated with miscarriage" - "Disinfection byproducts (DBPs) in drinking water are not associated with miscarriages or other reproductive problems, according to a new study that contradicts an influential 1998 article." (Environmental Science & Technology)

"Junk food laws take aim at child obesity" - "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today is expected to sign the nation's most sweeping laws strictly limiting sales of soda and junk food on public school campuses." (Sacramento Bee)

"Federal Judge Dismisses Greenhouse Gas Lawsuit" - "A federal judge today dismissed a lawsuit brought by several states and environmental groups aimed at forcing major utility companies to reduce their emissions of greenhouses gases." (CEI) | Judge dismisses utility lawsuit brought by states (Associated Press)

"'Warming link' to big hurricanes" - "Records for the past 35 years show that hurricanes have got stronger in recent times, according to a global study. This fits with mounting evidence which suggests the biggest storms around the world - hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones - are intensifying." (BBC) | Hurricanes are getting stronger, study says (NCAR/UCAR) | Changes in Tropical Cyclone Number, Duration, and Intensity in a Warming Environment | Abstract (Science)

Hurricane_index.gif (29735 bytes) Uh-huh... either that or it's the more active phase of the expected cycle.

We repeat yesterday's US landfalling hurricane graphic with slight adjustment and thank everyone who wrote to point out a data entry error - the trend is actually slightly negative but still effectively nil.

I admit I hadn't expected so many requests for the hurricane data and our little thumbnail severity index but it does rather seem to have caught people's imagination - so, click here for the spreadsheet file (MS Excel format). Those with earlier distributions of the file should download this file or at least check that 1873 data is not spread over 2 data points (my bad).

We have also had correspondents inform us that data for the whole Atlantic would/should/does show a rising trend. Perhaps, but we are less confident regarding mid-Atlantic storm data from the 19th Century simply because there were no aircraft nor satellites and shipping tended to avoid storms where possible - consequently it seems likely that more is known of landfalling storms than those avoided if possible. In due course we hope to expand available datasets but there are always caveats.

"UCF researchers studying storm surge effects of hurricanes on Florida cities" - "Scott Hagen, an associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and graduate students plan to study the potential effects of storm surges on Florida's east coast, particularly Miami and Jacksonville. They are conducting early work on their own initiative with a long-term goal of helping the state become better prepared for hurricanes." (University of Central Florida)

"Tundra greener as Northern forests dry" - "Surprising scientists conducting a recent satellite survey, after an initial growth spurt triggered by rising temperatures and carbon dioxide concentrations, the greening of Northern forests had actually declined by 2003, suggesting one factor in the surge of summer wildfires over the past few years." (Anchorage Daily News)

"Massive loss of Arctic ice means global warming is now past the point of no return, say scientists" - "A record loss of sea ice in the Arctic this summer has convinced scientists that the northern hemisphere may have crossed a critical threshold beyond which the climate may never recover. Scientists fear that the Arctic has now entered an irreversible phase of warming which will accelerate the loss of the polar sea ice that has helped to keep the climate stable for thousands of years." (London Independent)

"Global warming could end Sahara droughts, says study" - "Global warming could significantly increase rainfall in Saharan Africa within a few decades, potentially ending the severe droughts that have devastated the region, a new study suggests. The discovery was made by climate experts at the Royal Meteorological Institute in De Bilt, the Netherlands, who used a computer model to predict changes in the Sahel region - a wide belt stretching from the Atlantic to the horn of Africa that includes Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti." (The Guardian)

Oh great! Now we'll have a bunch of flakes whining about endangered sand...

"Scientist: Global Warming Options Exist" - "BURLINGTON, Vt. - Global warming poses a threat to the earth, but humans can probably ease the climate threats brought on by rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, global climate specialist Richard Alley told an audience at the University of Vermont." (AP)

"Global Treaties Ineffective Against Warming, Experts Say" - "Wide-ranging international treaties like the Kyoto Protocol may not be the best ways to battle global warming, according to three California scientists. Arguing that global treaties are only as effective as their least willing signatories, the team says that climate change is better fought from the bottom up." (National Geographic News)

Always assuming "fighting" is an intelligent course at all...

"NASA Weather Satellites to Study Clouds" - "NASA is poised to launch two weather satellites next month to study the structure of clouds and learn more about how they affect weather and climate change. The CloudSat and Calipso satellites are set to launch no earlier than Oct. 26 aboard a Boeing Delta 2 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base." (AP)

"Car and Household Emissions Threaten UK's CO2 Goals" - "LONDON - Rising pollution from cars and households threatens to derail Britain's attempt to meet self-imposed targets on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, according to research published on Friday." (Reuters)

"Russia may earn $1.5 billion through CO2 emissions trading - UES" - "MOSCOW, September 16 - Russia will be able to receive $1.5 billion between 2008 and 2012 by selling its emissions credits for carbon dioxide emissions to other Kyoto protocol countries, an official from Unified Energy Systems (UES) said Friday." (RIA Novosti)

"Hydrogen power not just a dream, scientists assert " - "Researchers at a Danish university unveil a technique for safely storing hydrogen fuel in tablet form. If successfully developed, the hydrogen tablets could provide a much needed replacement for fossil fuels." (Copenhagen Post)

"Corn Is King" - "Four years in the making and 1,700-pages long, the energy bill Congress recently presented might well be called the “No Energy Lobbyist Left Behind Act.” An energy bill worthy of the name would remove political barriers to the production and distribution of affordable energy." (CEI)

"Food devours energy" - "Over the past thirty years, the European food industry has failed to make significant improvements in energy efficiency, says Dutch-sponsored researcher Andrea Ramírez. Her conclusion is based on an analysis of energy consumption, energy efficiency and developments in the food supply chain in 13 European countries." (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research)

"New greenhouses to grow tomatoes all year round" - "Tomatoes are to be grown all year round at the former ICI chemical plant at Billingham, near Middlesbrough, in a system using waste carbon dioxide and steam from nearby factories to create a "Mediterranean winter". First croppings are expected in December from trial plants in a nine-hectare (23-acre) complex of glasshouses, the biggest of its kind in Europe. The tomatoes were purchased by Sainsbury's to test against Spanish and Italian imports, which traditionally dominate the British market between November and April. Britons ate more than 6bn tomatoes last year." (The Guardian)

"EU to debate approving two new GMO maizes next week" - "BRUSSELS - Genetically modified (GMO) foods return to the European Union's menu next week when experts and ministers consider authorising two new GMO maizes and maybe break the EU's biotech deadlock, officials said on Thursday. Little progress is expected in either debate that would tip the balance of the EU's "pro" and "anti" camps, they said. This means that under EU law, the European Commission would eventually end up issuing a rubberstamp approval for both GMOs." (Reuters)

September 15, 2005

Celebrity Fool of the Day: - Actress and London resident Gwyneth Paltrow told The Globe and Mail that,

I just had a baby and thought, 'I don't want to live [in America].' Bush's anti-environment, pro-war policies are a dis..."
While we wouldn't characterize President Bush's policies as "anti-environment," they certainly seem to be anti-celebrity -- and any policy that rids us of Hollywood half-wits like Paltrow is A-OK with us!

"USAID's anti-pesticide policies hit Africa hard" - "Paul Driessen writes in the Financial Express about why indoor residual spraying with insecticides, particularly DDT, is essential to controlling malaria." (AFM)

"The march of the machines" - "The bureaucracies of the EU and UN have a life of their own: our leaders are incapable of taming them." (Camilla Cavendish, London Times)

Quote of the moment: "The insidious drip, drip of global governance fatally dissipates the energies of elected national leaders."

Hot air merchants don't get it: "World's top firms fail to tackle climate change challenge" - "Most of the world's biggest companies are failing to cut their carbon emissions even though the long-term cost of complying with tougher rules to tackle global warming could have a devastating impact on their profitability. An authoritative report published yesterday in New York also warns that climate change litigation could one day become as big a threat to big corporations as asbestos and tobacco lawsuits are today. The study by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), an initiative backed by institutional investors controlling more than $21 trillion (£12 trillion) of assets, warns there is a huge and worrying gap between awareness among big companies of the risks posed by climate change and action to combat it." (London Independent)

"Carbon constraint" by any other name is still energy rationing and a non-starter. CDP et al need to collectively get a life and move on to something constructive.

And the response is: "Stop wasting everyone's time" "Global companies snub survey on climate change" - "More than 100 of the world's largest companies have been accused of not facing up to global warming after they snubbed a global survey of corporate attitudes to climate change. Aerospace company Boeing, computer giant Apple, online retailer Amazon and News Corporation, which publishes the Sun and Times newspapers, are among the organisations that failed to respond to a survey from the Carbon Disclosure Project, which launched a report on its findings yesterday in New York." (The Guardian)

More useful report: "Living With Global Warming" - "Should we try to prevent global warming? Or should we use our resources to adapt to the consequences of warming? Climate change is projected to exacerbate existing problems -- but it is not expected to produce new ones. These problems are a particular concern for developing countries, which lack the economic and human resources needed to cope with them, says author Indur M. Goklany." (NCPA) | Press Release | Report (.pdf, 343Kb, 23pp)

"Last Exit to Kyoto" - "The European Parliament's Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety is releasing a new report on the European Commission's communication on "Winning the Battle Against Global Climate Change". The report, edited by Swedish MEP Anders Wijkman, is a vivid illustration of how the EU is going to ignore another chance to review its climate policies in light of the available science and a rational economic approach. It's not just that it's going to lose the battle; it isn't even fighting the right war." (Carlo Stagnaro, TCS)

"INTERVIEW - Global Futures Exchange for Kyoto Credits seen 2006" - "SINGAPORE - A futures exchange for Kyoto greenhouse gas credits could be launched by next year, allowing firms flexibility to benefit from emissions-cutting projects in the developing world, an industry leader said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"India Firms Eye $5 Billion from Carbon Credit in Seven Years" - "MUMBAI - Polluters in India, exempt from emissions cuts imposed on industry in Europe and elsewhere, plan to slash their greenhouse gas output anyway and sell the resulting credits for up to $5 billion over the next seven years." (Reuters)

Oh boy... "Climate change scientists search for practical solutions" - "SACRAMENTO - The global climate isn't the only thing warming up. The political climate has changed, too, as politicians warm to addressing what scientists have been warning for years is an inevitable rise in the earth's temperatures. "In the last year or so, this has really taken off like a freight train without brakes," said Philip Mote, a leading researcher with the University of Washington and Washington's state climatologist." (Associated Press)

We're agreed on one thing - the warming scare is a train without brakes - Mote views it as a freight train and we term it a gravy train but by any name a looming train wreck.

"Linking Katrina to 'Global Warming' Called 'Shameless'" - "Washington - Environmentalists seeking to form a link between Hurricane Katrina and any human-caused climate change are engaged in "shameless opportunism," according to a spokesman for the conservative National Center for Policy Analysis. "That is pure politics," the Center's Sterling Burnett told Cybercast News Service Wednesday, 16 days after the hurricane demolished Gulf Coast towns in Louisiana and Mississippi and breached levees in New Orleans, resulting in the flooding of almost the entire city." (CNSNews.com)

Linking hurricanes to warming is pretty ridiculous. At right we have a rough and ready hurricane season severity index (simply the year's sum of storms multiplied by their category number - it seems intuitively reasonable that everyone would classify both 15 category one storms (15 points on our index) and 3 category fives (also 15 points) as severe seasons). The trendline on our hurricane season severity index chart is to all intent and purpose dead flat. One and a half centuries of US land falling hurricane records essentially is without trend.

"Concrete's future looks lighter, greener" - "New varieties promise to be stronger, lighter, climate-friendly, and even 'smart.'" (The Christian Science Monitor)

"UK: Taxpayers’ subsidy of renewable energy ‘to top £6bn’" - "BRITISH taxpayers will subsidise wind farms and other forms of green energy to the tune of £6.5 billion by 2010, according to a report by a House of Commons committee. The bill for renewable sources of energy will continue to soar in years after that, rising to £12.5 billion by 2015 without any scrutiny from Parliament, the report says." (London Times)

"At Frankfurt Auto Show, a Reluctant Embrace of Hybrids" - "Although German carmakers said they would develop dual gasoline-electric engines, Europe's auto executives remain privately skeptical about hybrid technology." (New York Times)

"New plant finds in Andes foretell of ancient climate change" - "For the third time in as many years, glaciologist Lonnie Thompson has returned from an Andean ice field in Peru with samples from beds of ancient plants exposed for the first time in perhaps as much as 6,500 years. In 2002, he first stumbled across some non-fossilized plants exposed by the steadily retreating Quelccaya ice cap. Carbon dating showed that plant material was at least 5,000 years old." (Ohio State University)

Um... how do you "foretell" ancient events?

"Green Multiple Personality Disorder?" - "Has the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) finally acquired the mainstream respectability it craves? It has produced a new report "The Green Buck -- using economic tools to deliver conservation goals -- a WWF field guide;" which is posted on a new website: www.biodiversityeconomics.org. This all looks very mainstream. But, unfortunately, that is all it is. Just a new look." (Alan Oxley, TCS)

"Ventria on track to grow genetically modified rice in NW Mo." - "WASHINGTON - Five months after Ventria Bioscience was forced to scuttle plans to grow genetically modified rice in Missouri's Bootheel region, the company is focusing its sights on the northwest part of the state. Scott Deeter, president of the Sacramento-based company, said Wednesday he expects to file an application soon with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to grow the rice in one or more locations within 50 miles of Northwest Missouri State University, which is in Maryville. There were questions about whether the soil and climate in the region would be conducive to growing rice, but Deeter said test patches of edible rice grown this year in both the northeast and northwest corners of the state yielded positive results." (Associated Press)

September 14, 2005

"Free Enterprise Action Fund Questions GE Decision To Side With Global Warming Activists" - "Action Fund Management LLC (AFM), investment adviser to the Free Enterprise Action Fund (www.FreeEnterpriseActionFund.com), asked the General Electric Company (GE) to justify the company's recently announced alliance with anti-business activists." (Free Enterprise Action Fund, PR Web)

"Malaria, Tanzania’s biggest killer disease" - "Without a concerted fight against malaria, Tanzania’s biggest killer that takes hundreds of lives everyday and demands the presence of a reasonable amount of education and environmental awareness, the battle to control the scourge will be an uphill task." (Dar es Salaam Guardian)

"The Ultimate 'Public Health' Shield" - "A PETITION from the public health movement, including the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the American Public Health Association, the American Cancer Society, and of every organization generally connected to negating risk and choice at the expense of individual freedom and personal responsibility." (Radley Balko, TCS)

"White House, senators clash on mercury rules" - "The Bush administration clashed with senators Monday over new rules limiting mercury emissions from power plants, with the White House threatening a presidential veto of Senate legislation that would overturn those rules." (Associated Press)

"Britain Defends Changes to Big EU Chemicals Bill" - "European Union president Britain is defending its compromise proposal for a major EU chemicals reform which environmentalists say has been watered down to meet industry demands." (Reuters)

Surrendered sovereignty? Nah... "Brussels wins right to force EU countries to jail polluters" - "Brussels was given greater powers over the EU's 25 members yesterday, when the European court of justice declared that the union's rules can be enforced through criminal sanctions." (The Guardian)

"Pharma and Loathing in New York City" - "Last night I attended a book party for a colleague here in New York. In the course of mixing with other guests, I met the host's best friend from college -- let's call the friend Joe. Joe told me he was a film producer, a graduate of an Ivy League school, and a long-term resident of New York City. We talked about a variety of topics. He asked about ACSH and our interest in issues relating to food safety, environmental quality, pharmaceutical issues, and beyond. Out of the blue, Joe made a passionate statement: "I despise pharmaceutical companies." (Elizabeth M. Whelan, ACSH)

"Probe into dental ops vCJD risks" - "Scientists are to investigate whether the human form of mad cow disease can be passed on through dental surgery. The Health Protection Agency, a government advisory body, will use mice to see if vCJD can be passed on from contaminated dental instruments. They will also see if the mice show signs of the disease in the tissue in their mouths. The risk is thought to be small, but comes after concerns vCJD could be spread via donated blood and tissue." (BBC)

"Study reveals trends in US death rate, leading causes of death over 30 years" - "The death rate from all causes of death combined decreased by 32 percent between 1970 and 2002, with the largest decreases for heart disease and stroke, but with an increase in death rates for diabetes and COPD, according to an article in the September 14 issue of JAMA." (JAMA and Archives Journals)

"Study: sprawl, waistlines not linked" - "Don't blame urban sprawl for America's sprawling waistline, say two Oregon State University researchers." (Eugene Register Guard)

"Child TV hours obesity risk link" - "How much TV children watch accurately predicts whether they will go on to become overweight, a study suggests." (BBC)

"Warning for 'square-eyed' workers" - "British adults spend up to 130,000 hours during their lifetime sitting in front of a computer or TV, eye health campaigners warn." (BBC)

Same old crock: "Why Is the Ozone Hole Growing?" - "TORONTO - A huge ozone hole has developed over Antarctica for the second year running, exposing southern Argentina and Chile to high levels of damaging ultraviolet radiation from the Sun." (Tierramérica)

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

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

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

When the data began to arrive, "the values in September and October 1956 were about 150 [Dobson] units lower than expected. ... In November the ozone values suddenly jumped up to those expected. ... It was not until a year later, when the same type of annual variation was repeated, that we realized that the early results were indeed correct and that Halley Bay showed a most interesting difference from other parts of the world." [em added]

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

Is the "hole" a new phenomenon? Apparently not - it's existed as long as anyone has paid significant attention to stratospheric ozone levels in the region and quite possibly for millennia before that. "Normal" ozone levels for the region are entirely hypothetical. Seasonal variations are huge (click here to see a series of graphics from Earth Probe TOMS spanning from the beginning of the series to December 2003, which adequately demonstrate the volatility and seasonality of atmospheric ozone).

Doubtless we'll get more hand wringing over poor irradiated Punta Arenas but everywhere around the world between 45N and 45S, where the bulk of the planet's human population lives, receives more solar radiation on any normal day than does Punta Arenas on the most severely irradiated day or two every few years when a patch of ozone-reduced atmosphere passes between the tip of South America and the sun.

Is said "hole" of any particular significance to humans? Probably not - unless you intend sunbathing in South Polar regions in September. Even so, you would be risking (besides frostbite) sunburn but apparently not an increased melanoma risk. Why? Because melanoma and genetic damage is primarily associated with tissue-penetrating UVA (ultraviolet radiation in the 320-400 nanometer [nm] band) exposure and alleged ozone depletion is completely irrelevant to UVA levels experienced at surface - UVA is simply not blocked by atmospheric gases. UVB (270-320nm), which causes sunburn, is both blocked by ozone (O3) and, if allowed to penetrate the atmosphere, creates ozone lower down where it can be an irritant in photochemical smog. It is also blocked by water vapour to some extent with thick cloud acting as a complete shield and thin cloud only a partial shield. UVB powers your skin's production of vitamin D from its cholesterol precursor. UVC (<270nm), which would cause severe burns with short exposure, does not penetrate the atmosphere, blocked completely by atmospheric oxygen (O2) and ozone (O3).

What an extraordinary fuss over a phenomenon possibly older than the Holocene and which can affect virtually no one, if it does at all.

"Tropical Deforestation affects rainfall in the U.S. and around the globe" - "New research finds that deforestation in different areas of the globe affects rainfall patterns over a considerable region." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office)

"Storm frenzy is not an anomaly, but a phase" - "Back in 1995, surface waters in the north Atlantic Ocean warmed up a smidgen. The change was less than a degree, but it marked the first time in a quarter-century that waters were consistently warmer than average. Storm experts warned of more hurricanes. But nobody grasped the sweeping change that Mother Nature had signaled." (St. Petersburg Times)

"What is happening to autumn?" - "Sun worshippers won't want to hear it but autumn is spreading, eating into summer and winter. The result - blackberries in July and conkers in August." (BBC)

"Weather forecasters to warn Prescott over new homes plan" - "Meteorologists are to warn John Prescott that his plans for thousands of new homes could change weather patterns. The warning comes after the deputy prime minister linked America's refusal to tackle climate changes to the New Orleans flood disaster. Professor Chris Collier, president of the Royal Meteorological Society, will use his address to society's annual conference on Thursday to express concern about "heat islands" from urban areas." (The Guardian)

Influence of the 11-year solar cycle more significant than previously thought: "The influence of the 11 yr solar cycle on the interannual–centennial climate variability" - "Abstract: The monthly sunspot number (SSN) for January 1749–August 2004, the global sea-surface temperature (gmSST) and the regional SSTs in the northern N. Pacific (npSST) and the Nino3.4 (ninoSST) areas for the winters of 1870–2004 are analyzed by a wavelet transform to show their multi-scale nature. On the interdecadal timescales, both gmSST and npSST have similar variation tendencies with that of the intensity and cycle-length of the 11 yr SSN, with slight phase differences. The npSST and ninoSST are often out of phase on the decadal–interdecadal timescales. The ninoSST is predominated by the interannual timescales peaking around 3.8 yr. Moreover, the ninoSST exhibits an apparent 80–90 yr signal that is almost out of phase with that observed in SSN. Numerical experiments using a simple nonlinear system illustrate that the intensity of the seasonal forcing, modulated by the 11 yr solar activity, is likely an important factor causing different dominant timescales in regional SSTs. Even a small change in the “solar constant” by 0.04% on the 11 yr timescale may result in a regime change in the response (e.g. SST) with various dominant timescales, including the 77 and 88 yr signals that are similar to those of the “Gleissberg cycle” in observed SSN. The results show that part of the energy of the internal variability of the system is transferred to the forced variability that may have richer timescales than those in the forcing itself due to nonlinear resonance. This suggests that observed interannual–centennial climate signals are not purely internal, but also external because of the existence of the 11 yr solar activity cycle, which has changed the “solar constant” in the past and will continue doing so in the future. It also suggests that if the solar “Gleissberg cycle” is included in the forcing term, the 77 and 88 yr interdecadal signals and their subharmonics on centennial timescales may be more significant than what is shown here, which might have some implication to “global warming” research." (Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

Elevated Carbon Dioxide: Does It Boost Forest Growth?: A new report in Science is being touted by many as proof it does not.

Subject Index Summaries:
Greenland Temperature Trends: What does history teach us about the likelihood that the Greenland ice sheet is on the verge of melting away if anthropogenic CO 2 emissions are not soon reduced far below their current levels?

Lipids: How are they affected by atmospheric CO 2 enrichment, and what are the consequences of those responses?

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Rice, Robusta Poplar, Scots Pine, and Sugar Beet.

Journal Reviews:
Recent Trends in Northern Canada River Discharge Rates: Climate models predict enhanced precipitation and river discharge in response to global warming.  What do data from northern Canada reveal?

6200 Years of ENSO Activity Derived from Galápagos Data: What do the data suggest about the response of ENSO frequency to global warming?

Nile River Revelations: 1300 years of flow data reveal some important information regarding its discharge history.

The Photosynthetic Response of Managed Grasslands to Atmospheric CO 2 Enrichment: Does it decline with the passage of time?

Growth and N-Fixation Responses of Four Legumes to Atmospheric CO 2 and Soil Nitrogen Additions: Are the two processes helped or hindered by the atmospheric and soil fertilizations? (co2science.org)

"No Blood for Oil" - "With $3 and $4 gas in some markets, all sorts of bad ideas are making a comeback. Price controls are the worst, but not far behind are Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, known in the Beltway argot as CAFE. What proponents of this idea won't tell you is that they're in favor of trading blood for oil." (The Wall Street Journal)

Whadd'ya mean 'trade off'? "Aging Nuclear Power Plants May Affect Emissions Pact" - "WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 - A proposed agreement among nine Northeast states to cap greenhouse gas emissions from power plants casts a new light on arguments in New Jersey and Vermont about whether the licenses of two aging nuclear plants should be extended.

Community groups in both states are opposing the extensions of the licenses beyond their 40-year terms, but environmentalists are generally supportive of the proposed agreement among the governors to reduce these greenhouse gases, which contribute to global climate change. Shutting down the two reactors would mean immediate, substantial increases in the emissions, because it would increase reliance on fossil fuel plants, probably tripling emissions in Vermont and doubling them in New Jersey." (New York Times)

"EU governments take fuel action" - "Governments across Europe are taking action to curb fuel costs amid sporadic protests about rising petrol prices. France is to offer fuel tax rebates to farmers while President Jacques Chirac has called on petrol retailers to make meaningful cuts to pump prices. Retailers have cut prices in Austria after the government threatened a one-off tax on their profits. Belgium, Poland and Hungary have also announced measures to cushion the impact of rising prices on consumers." (BBC)

Guaranteed to light up wannabe energy-rationing Greens.

"European fuel union" - "There is a danger that history is about to repeat itself as calls for cuts in taxes on fuel grow in response to rocketing petrol prices. Five years ago, blockades by hauliers and farmers forced several European Union countries to make concessions. With similar protests now gathering strength, EU governments must present a united front to avoid costly appeasement in 2005." (Financial Times)

"Ecowarriors go into battle against 4x4s – with cycle pumps" - "DRIVERS who park gasguzzling 4x4s overnight in Paris are receiving an unpleasant surprise in the morning: flat tyres. A gang of young activists are deflating the tyres of what they regard as anti-social urban tanks which clog the narrow streets of the Left Bank." (London Times)

Eco-warriors? "Like the protesters in Britain, who harangue off-roading mothers on the school run, the campaigners seem driven as much by social and political animosity as concern over climate change." Sounds more like "envy-warriors," no?

"Dismay at Brown oil increase call" - "Environmental groups have condemned the chancellor's call for an increase in oil production, saying it clashes with the government's climate change policy." (BBC)

"MEPs caught up in hydrogen hype?" - "Several MEPs called on 12 September for a fundamental shift away from the oil era into the green hydrogen economy. But is their initiative based on science or inspired by political hype?" (EurActiv)

"Environmental activists target ExxonMobil" - "Sweltering on an unusually warm September day in a Santa suit, John Berkowitz, director of Vermonters for a Fair Economy and Environmental Protection, said the North Pole is melting due to global warming caused by ExxonMobil, the world's largest oil company." (Brattleboro Reformer)

... which they do with their secret weather machine, to which their evil technicians travel in black helicopters, right?

"Radical method may bury gas plant" - "THE science of burying carbon dioxide gas 2km beneath the ground has emerged as a significant hurdle in the $11billion Gorgon gas project's bid for environmental approval. The partners in the massive Gorgon project plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by injecting carbon dioxide, captured in the process of taking natural gas out of the ground, back into wells drilled deep below Barrow Island off the West Australian Coast. The controversial plan is the first attempt in Australia to use so-called geo-sequestration to offset greenhouse gas emissions - and environmentalists fear it will not work." (The Australian)

"Scientists Study How to Clean Salty Water" - "Scientists from Sandia National Laboratories have started a study to investigate how to best clean salty water to make drinking water." (Associated Press)

"Ultimate Environmentalism" - "How to save the environment? Not just from mankind, but ultimately from nature itself? Those are tough questions, but we have to start somewhere, and where better than with cute cats? And after we've cloned these cute critters, we have many more technologies to use to save nature. Yes, technologies to save nature. It's the forward-looking technos, not the backward-looking greens, who will literally immortalize the environment." (James Pinkerton, TCS)

September 13, 2005

"Weaving a safety net" - "AFM agrees with The Economist that the GFATM "... is one of the more innovative efforts. By pooling money from different donors, it attempts to cut aid free from at least some of the strings associated with individual donors' bilateral assistance. Its approach to proposals submitted by recipient countries allows those countries a strong role in their own development, rather than merely telling them how the money should be spent" (AFM)

"Common pesticide may reduce fertility in women" - "Methoxychlor (MXC), a common insect pesticide used on food crops, may interfere with proper development and function of the reproductive tract, leading to reduced fertility in women, researchers at Yale School of Medicine write in the August issue of Endocrinology." (Yale University)

"Airlift plan to save frogs and newts as deadly fungus spreads" - "Conservation experts are planning an audacious Noah's Ark-style rescue mission to save hundreds of amphibian species threatened by a mysterious killer fungus. Campaigners say a huge airlift of tens of thousands of the animals into captive breeding programmes may be the only way to save from extinction frogs, toads, newts and salamanders in the path of the rapidly spreading disease." (The Guardian)

Before people start typing their e-mail questions, yes, eco-tourism is a plausible mechanism for the spread of chytridiomycosis but we have no knowledge of papers documenting such dissemination/contamination. We have seen report of exactly one case where biologists recognised themselves as contaminating agents through inadequate sterilisation of their field equipment.

"Alaska Scientists: Volcano Harmed Salmon" - "ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- An overflow of volcanic ash, rocks, water and ice from Mount Chiginagak was the cause for a puzzling absence of fish in King Salmon River this season, scientists said." (AP)

There I was, thinking at least this one would go down to "natural causes" when an e-mail arrived informing me that this was anthropogenic too, although the precise mechanism remains unexplained (people make volcano god angry?).

"S.D. Scientists Document Land-Use Changes" - "HOWARD, S.D. -- Scientists from the EROS Data Center are leading a project to document changing landscapes in South Dakota and elsewhere by matching three decades of satellite images with what is happening on the ground. "The thing that the satellite images don't do is tell us what's underlying that change ... what's the story behind it all," said researcher Tom Loveland. "That's what we get from going out in the field." (Associated Press)

"Climate change brings openings for farmers" - "CLIMATE change will create new challenges for farmers and land managers but may also bring opportunities for new rural industries, said Margaret Beckett, the Environment Secretary, in London yesterday. The opportunities will include adopting new management systems and technologies, including further moves into energy crop production." (The Scotsman)

"Climate change bad news for boreal forest" - "Scientists are not able to predict the exact consequences of climate change, but some say they might not all be bad. Because Canada is a northern country, it is likely warmer weather will provide benefits such as a longer growing seasons and less demand for heating in the winter, Environment Canada reports in The Science of Climate Change." (NOB)

"Morphology of fossil salamanders reflects climate change" - "A fossil record of the Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) shows population-wide changes in body size and morphology in response to climate change over the last 3,000 years. The observed changes offer predictions about the response of the species to future climate change, and the impact on the ecosystem. The research is published in the open access journal, BMC Ecology. (BioMed Central)

Climate hasn't been 'stable' over the last 3,000 years? Gee, don't know how that's going to sit with AGWs...

"Climate researchers meet to simulate flight operations for storm cloud experiment" - "This week, a team of more than 25 international cloud climate scientists are conducting a three-day operations and planning simulation at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, California, to prepare for a complex experiment that will result in the most detailed data sets ever collected for tropical convection." (DOE/Sandia National Laboratories)

"Ocean instrument program led by Scripps set to achieve world coverage" - "An ambitious idea spawned more than 20 years ago to develop a new way to watch the world change has come to fruition. The Global Drifter Program (GDP), largely led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, and Scripps Distinguished Professor Peter Niiler, will meet its lofty goal of blanketing the globe on Sept. 18 when the program's 1,250th instrument is dropped in the ocean off Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada." (University of California - San Diego)

"Canada Doesn't see Breakthrough at Post-Kyoto Meet" - "OTTAWA - A major Montreal meeting charged with starting to draft a successor to the Kyoto climate change accord is unlikely to produce a breakthrough, a senior Canadian official said on Monday." (Reuters)

"Lawyers Now Suing Over Global Warming" - "The global warming controversy has just entered a new venue, as a federal judge in San Francisco (where else?) ruled that a lawsuit challenging two federal agencies, the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) could move forward. Judge Jeffrey White ruled that the radical environmental groups, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, along with the cities of Boulder, Colorado, Santa Monica, Oakland and Arcata, California, have standing to proceed with this suit, which was originally filed in 2002. The environmentalists may cite media figures, such as Miles O'Brien of CNN, as witnesses for their claims." (Roger Aronoff, AIM)

Putting the lie to malicious stereotypes: "Scotland to blame for UK's rising emissions" - "Scotland's poor record in tackling its greenhouse gas emissions has been cited as a major factor for the UK looking set to breach its Kyoto target." (Edie.net)

Scots freely and generously share aerial plant food with the world and still the allegedly-United Kingdom grizzles, go figure!

"UK: Business chiefs plead for cut in petrol duty" - "BUSINESS leaders have called on the Chancellor to make a temporary cut in fuel duty, which accounts for almost half of the cost of petrol at the pumps. Graham Leach, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, said: "This is a grossly distorted market already - 47p of the 97p pump price for fuel is going in taxation.

But the Chancellor has been keen to deflect attention away from his fuel tax policies. At the Trades Unions Congress in Brighton today, he will renew his calls for OPEC, the cartel of oil-producing countries, to produce more oil and thus lower prices. He will say he is doing this in sympathy with motorists. "It is because we understand the problems faced by hauliers, farmers and motorists at a time of doubling oil prices... that we must tackle the cause of the problem," he will say." (The Scotsman)

"Anger in Europe's streets over fuel" - "PARIS As truck drivers, farmers and others began taking to the streets, European leaders on Monday looked for new ways to respond to growing outrage over high fuel costs, from exhorting oil companies to further cut prices to putting off planned tax increases." (International Herald Tribune)

Curiously, they omitted mention of cutting current sky high fuel taxes - must've been a slight oversight.

"Nanotech material toxicity debated" - "A growing number of environmentalists are urging more regulation in the production and use of nanomaterials." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"The golden rice controversy: useless science or unfounded criticism?" - "Earlier this year, scientists disclosed in the journal Nature Biotechnology the development of a new Golden Rice, a genetically engineered form of the crop capable of producing 23 times more provitamin A (betacarotene) than a prototype announced in the year 2000 (Paine et al. 2005). However, rather than celebrate the potential of this breakthrough to alleviate suffering and reduce the number of deaths caused by malnutrition-in the millions, many of them children in developing countries- Greenpeace greeted the development with claims that Golden Rice is "not effective" and "superfluous" (Greenpeace 2005; see Maxeiner 2005 for a critical response). Organizations like Greenpeace rightly see this advance as threatening their antibiotechnology campaign, which lacks a scientific basis and has relied mainly on the manipulation of people's perceptions." (Checkbiotech.org)

"Argentina gets serious about biotech" - "New law could provide the long underachieving Argentinean biotech industry the incentives and funding to finally test its potential." (Nature)

September 12, 2005

Expert Quote of the Day: When asked by Fox News Channel's Alan Colmes [Hannity and Colmes, Sep. 8] about the devastation caused by Hurricance Katrina, the Rev. Jesse Jackson responded, in part,

...Global warming is real...

Now that the Rev. Jackson has unequivocally settled this point, can the Bush administration please stop wasting $2 billion per year of U.S. taxpayer money on climate research?

"Katrina's Aftermath: What Will it Take to Rebuild 'The Big Easy'?" - "As the relief effort continues in New Orleans, questions about how the city, and the state, will rebuild are already being debated." (CEI)

"Should New Orleans be abandoned as a city?" - "Should New Orleans now be abandoned as a city? This is a far more serious question than many might wish to admit." (EnviroSpin Watch)

"New Orleans drying out quicker than expected" - "BATON ROUGE, La. - Water-logged south Louisiana showed signs Saturday of drying out faster than expected as local officials began to clean up the mess, even as the death count from Hurricane Katrina inched up slowly. Dan Hitchings, an official with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, flew over New Orleans Saturday and said he was "astounded at how much more land area is exposed - is dry - than it was before." Some early estimates had called for floodwaters to remain in parts of the area as long as 80 days." (Knight Ridder)

"Subsidizing Disaster" - "Federally subsidized flood insurance encourages people to build homes in floodplains. It also encourages lenders to finance mortgages for these risky homes. Today, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) covers more than 4.5 million homes in more than 20,000 communities. But because of full-disclosure mortgage and insurance requirements, most of those currently insured were aware of their area's flood problems when they purchased or developed their properties, says Christy G. Black, a research associate with the National Center for Policy Analysis." (NCPA)

"Uprooted and scattered far from the familiar" - "Hurricane Katrina has produced a diaspora of historic proportions. Not since the Dust Bowl of the 1930's, or the end of the Civil War in the 1860's have so many Americans been on the move from a single event." (New York Times)

"The great Katrina migration" - "In just 14 days, the hurricane scattered as many as 1 million evacuees across the US, the largest dislocation in 150 years." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Flying Blind: The last thing Louisiana needs right now is mosquitoes" - "The six-year old U.S. outbreak of West Nile virus is a significant threat to public health and shows no signs of abating. Last year, there were more than 2,500 serious cases and 100 deaths. Still early in this year's West Nile virus season (there is a time lag during which animals are infected, mosquitoes convey the virus to humans, and the virus incubates until symptoms occur), the mosquito-borne virus has been found in animal hosts (primarily birds) in 44 states, and has caused almost a thousand serious infections and a score of deaths in humans in 36 states. As of September 6, Louisiana ranked fourth in the nation in human West Nile virus infections; but with most of New Orleans still under water and a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, there are likely to be far more cases. However, thanks to politically correct but egregiously flawed federal regulatory policy, the tools available to local officials for mosquito control are limited — and largely ineffective." (Henry I. Miller, NRO)

Hmm... "Cover-up: toxic waters 'will make New Orleans unsafe for a decade'" - "Toxic chemicals in the New Orleans flood waters will make the city unsafe for full human habitation for a decade, according to an EPA official. The Bush administration is covering up the danger." (London Independent)

The Indy seems to have a peculiar concept of 'safety,' worrying about toxics in a city below sea level. One cartoon I recall seeing since the flooding of New Orleans commented poignantly on risk perception with a series of panels depicting those at risk from hazards such as earthquake, fire, tornadoes and the like with repeated comment bubbles suggesting people shouldn't live in flood risk zones (my apologies to the unremembered cartoonist but I see so many publications each week I don't even recall where I saw it - feel free to remind me so the 'toon can be properly attributed). Whether you feel New Orleans should be rebuilt probably depends on whether you viewed the place as the Big Easy or the Big Sleazy but it must be recognised that all risks are relative. Yes, that particular location will be clobbered by severe hurricanes on average once or twice each century and, if sufficient effort is devoted and everyone knows they're going to need to just plain get out of the way every fifty years or so and then clean up the mess afterwards, the risk can be managed. Society just has to determine whether it's worth doing so. And The Indy needs to think about whether a few noxious compounds really rate on the scale of relative risk.

"The Case for a Cover-Up" - "At last there is a light in the darkness. Washington was slow to respond to Katrina's victims, but now Congress has finally sprung into action. It has bravely promised to investigate the situation. Unfortunately, the members haven't figured out exactly how, because Democrats want it to be done by outsiders. They say the Republicans will turn it into a cover-up. But why does that bother the Democrats so much? Shouldn't members of both parties want to cover this up?" (John Tierney, New York Times)

"Changing the Hurricane Culture" - "Accustomed to big storms, many Gulf residents have taken them for granted. Now they're realizing they shouldn't." (Time Magazine)

"Disasters waiting to happen" - "More than a thousand miles of levees stretch east from San Francisco Bay, levees that are deteriorating and raising the odds of a Katrina-like disaster for the nation's most populous state." (New York Times)

"Katrina-like storm in east unlikely" - "No hurricane the magnitude of Katrina has ever slammed into Connecticut — not as far as any records going back for at least the last two centuries or so, but that doesn't mean it can't or it won't happen here." (Bridgeport Connecticut Post)

"It could happen here - with far worse effects" - "Storm surges around Britain's coasts could cause twice as much devastation as the flooding of New Orleans, unpublished official estimates reveal." (London Independent)

"Katrina May Cost U.S. as Much as Two Wars" - "Although estimates of Hurricane Katrina's staggering toll on the treasury are highly imprecise, costs are certain to climb to $200 billion in the coming weeks. The final accounting could approach the more than $300 billion spent in four years to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq." (Associated Press)

"Fears grow for Katrina insurers" - "The Financial Services Authority has launched an inquiry into the effects of Hurricane Katrina on insurers as fears grow that a number face financial collapse." (London Observer)

"Reinsurance Price Hikes Inevitable, says Munich Re" - "MONTE CARLO - Price increases are inevitable across the reinsurance business in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the executive chairman of Munich Re, the world's largest reinsurer, said on Sunday. "(Premium) rates will go up everywhere," Nikolaus von Bomhard said. His company would see price rises across its book of business, he added. The disaster was "a wake-up call" to those in the industry that had begun to drop premium rates in the past year or two in an attempt to win more business." (Reuters)

"Prescott links global warming to Katrina" - "Britain's Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, sparked controversy yesterday by linking America's refusal to tackle climate change to the devastation of the New Orleans hurricane." (London Guardian)

"Prescott under fire for Kyoto jibe on Katrina" - "DEPUTY Prime Minister John Prescott was last night accused of opportunism after he linked the hurricane disaster in New Orleans with America's record on climate change." (Scotland on Sunday)

Oppie's going to tell us it's all our fault: "Katrina Climate Briefing" - "A key component of Katrina coverage includes the extensive environmental clean-up issues in and around New Orleans. Beyond those immediate environmental stories, there is another important story about the array of threats to our nation's coastlines from global warming." (Environmental Media Services)

"TCS Podcast: Are Global Warming and Katrina Linked?" - "Jim Glassman interviews three scientists about climate change and hurricane Katrina." (TCS)

"ANALYSIS - Katrina Fuels Global Warming Storm" - "OSLO - Hurricane Katrina has spurred debate about global warming worldwide with some environmentalists sniping at President George W. Bush for pulling out of the main UN plan for braking climate change." (Reuters)

"After Katrina, the climate just gets worse and worse" - "If the images of skyscrapers collapsed in heaps of ash were the end of one story -- the United States safe on its isolated continent from the turmoil of the world -- then the picture of the sodden Superdome with its peeling roof marks the beginning of the next story, the one that will dominate our politics in the coming decades of this century: an America befuddled about how to cope with a planet suddenly unstable and unpredictable." (Bill McKibben, SF Chronicle)

"Eco-extremists Abuse Katrina’s Devastation for Political Gain - Comments by NRDC Spokesman Kennedy Indefensible" - "Washington, DC – Sadly, the need for some in the so-called environmental community to play politics took a turn for the worst this week in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Among the foulest accusations to surface were the remarks by Robert Kennedy, Jr., on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Counsel, that somehow Mississippi and Louisiana were deliberately struck by Hurricane Katrina because of the anti-Kyoto protocol stance of certain southern political figures.” (CREA Release)

"Cult of global warming hit" - "A PROMINENT marine scientist is angry that global warming is being presented as fact. Prof Bob Carter, of the James Cook University in Queensland, who studies climate change over millions of years rather than decades, yesterday said there was no evidence that the small rise in temperature that occurred between 1970 and 2001 was unusual or dangerous. "I question why global warming has become a religion and is presented as a fervent belief," Prof Carter said. "It is relentlessly pushed by people who want to stir up alarm and who say there is consensus on the issue. "There is no scientific consensus yet as we are not even close to achieving a general theory of climate change." (Sunday Tasmanian)

'Recovery' good for diversity? "Warm welcome for returning butterfly" - "AN unusual butterfly which disappeared from the Lothians 150 years ago after a series of cold summers has been attracted back by warmer weather." (Evening News)

A return after unusual cold... wonder how they got that past the AGW impression police? If they're not careful people might get the impression less-colding could be good for critters. Simply won't do, won't do at all!

The Week That Was Sept. 10, 2005 (SEPP)

Watch out! Climate change could be ... pretty: "Autumn will set Britain ablaze" - "Experts say the changing climate here is creating the perfect conditions for a kaleidoscope of seasonal colour to rival the famous hues of north-east America. This autumn is already predicted to be the most colourful in living memory." (London Guardian)

"EU ministers discuss climate change impact on farming" - "The possibility of environ-mental disaster, which could tear the European Union apart and leave much of its farmland abandoned while the rich retreat to gated rural communities, will be presented to Europe's agriculture and environment ministers this weekend, to stimulate action on tackling climate change." (Financial Times)

Struggling to find a dark cloud for their silver lining, let's start with Jonathan Leake: "UK will be Europe’s breadbasket" - "BRITAIN is likely to become a a major bread supplier for Europe because climate change will lead to a surge in wheat production, a study has shown. The research, by the Met Office, aimed to find out how such change might disrupt food production across Europe. It warns that rising temperatures will eventually obliterate wheat crops in southern Europe — but that production in England, Scotland and Ireland and some other areas of northern Europe will rise sharply." (London Times)

... "Warmer Britain will grow sunflowers, sweetcorn and tea" - "While the UK and other northern European countries are expected to become one of the breadbaskets of the world, as climate change alters agriculture, further south landowners will struggle with water shortages and soil erosion." (London Guardian)

... "Olives and bananas thrive among the heather in warming Scotland" - "They have long been known for their luxuriant thistles, abundant heather and the most aggressive midges in northern Europe. But a more exotic future lies in wait for Scottish gardens, according to a major study by plant experts. Banana trees, olives and other heat-loving species can now survive as far north as Glasgow, they have concluded - further evidence that our climate is slowly but perceptibly getting warmer." (London Independent)

... found something, at last: "Forest fires set to increase, EU ministers told" - "More catastrophic forest fires like those that engulfed large parts of Portugal and Spain this summer will result from a combination of land abandonment and climate change, European environment and agriculture ministers were warned yesterday." (Financial Times)

"Scientists link warmer weather to beetle outbreak" - "When Scott Brandt-Ericksen read of Sen. Hillary Clinton's recent trip to Alaska and her alarm over bark beetles migrating north due to global warming, he burst out laughing. Then he got annoyed." (Anchorage Daily News)

"Global warming: Adapting to a new reality" - "When Dr. Giancarlo Icardi, health director for the Italian city of Genoa, got a call this summer that his young nephew was ill with a fever, headache and watery eyes after a day at the beach, global warming was not the first diagnosis on his mind. He suspected an out-of-season flu.

But 128 other beachgoers turned up at Genoa hospitals with similar symptoms that July weekend, forcing the closure of area beaches in the midst of a heat wave. Even though the health problems cleared up within a day, scientists quickly announced disturbing news about the culprit: a toxic warm-water alga that now grows in an increasingly warm Mediterranean Sea and had not previously bloomed in an Italian resort so far north." (International Herald Tribune)

"EU Commissioner urges U.S. climate change rethink" - "LONDON, Sept 10 - U.S. climate change policy is not succeeding in lowering greenhouse gas emissions, the EU's environment chief said on Saturday." (Reuters)

So, Stavros, remind us how the EU is doing on that front (241pp, 1.54Mb .pdf).

Meanwhile: "EU Demands More and Cheaper Oil" - "MANCHESTER - European ministers urged the oil-producing countries on Saturday to boost supplies rapidly to combat soaring fuel bills and told oil companies to reinvest more of their vast profits in exploration and refining." (Reuters)

"Shell shifts emissions load to India's SRF" - "Royal Dutch Shell has taken a stake in one of the world's largest greenhouse gas reduction projects to help counteract its soaring emissions as it shifts production towards more polluting oil sands." (London Business)

"Mad science" - "I enjoy a spirited, well-argued political argument as much as anybody, but in "The Republican War on Science," journalist Chris Mooney offers only a tiresome polemic. It makes one think of a debater who is assigned to one side or the other of a proposition on the basis of a coin flip: If it lands on heads, he has to argue that the Republicans are the bad guys." (Henry I. Miller, Washington Examiner)

"Crop spraying is health risk, say scientists" - "Farmers could be forced to curb spraying of toxic pesticides after a report from leading scientists warning that the chemicals could be poisoning tens of thousands of people living or working in the English countryside." (London Times)

"The Teflon Scare That Isn’t There" - "Trial lawyers regularly try to alarm the public about some new health scare, and the newest horror story they’re propagating involves an alleged threat from Teflon-coated cookware." (CEI)

"Get the lead out. Or else" - "Canadian electronics makers are racing to remove toxic substances by July. If they don't, their wares will be banned in Europe." (Toronto Star)

"Could Katrina kill the SUV?" - "Even before Hurricane Katrina tore through the southern United States, hampering a big chunk of the US oil industry, consumers were having second thoughts about gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles." (Agence France-Presse)

Cue frenzy from pure air and particulate groups: "Blast from the past more Vermonters will heat with coal due to fuel prices" - "As the prices of oil, gas and firewood continue to climb, coal dealers in Vermont say more and more people are returning to grandpa's heating fuel: coal." (Rutland Herald)

II: "Oil Spike Sends New England to Wood" - "Wood-burning stoves are selling out in stores, the price of split wood has jumped past $200 a cord and would-be woodsmen are filling up classes on lumberjack skills." (Washington Post)

... "Drive on to clear air in smoky Oakridge" - "Tired of being blamed for Lane County's poor showing in air-quality rankings, this community is lighting a fire under efforts to curb the wood smoke curling out of its residents' chimneys." (Eugene Register Guard)

"Ethanol plants among Iowa's polluters" - "Ethanol is supposed to be easy on the environment, but the plants that make the corn-based, clean-burning fuel have fouled Iowa's air and water, a Des Moines Sunday Register investigation has found." (Des Moines Register)

"Experts say Wyo. energy boom could go on for decades" - "How long will the energy boom that's buoying Wyoming's economy last? At least one expert says it could be 30 years or more." (Associated Press)

"Fuel crisis: drivers face rationing" - "UK ministers fear fuel supplies are on the verge of widespread disruption and have drawn up plans to deploy troops to guard refineries and introduce petrol rationing." (Edinburgh Scotsman)

"EU pushes biofuel to fight climate change, high oil" - "LONDON, Sept 11 - The European Union must increase the amount of biomass, a green fuel, in its energy mix as concerns about high oil prices and climate change mount, the EU executive said on Sunday. EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said the European Commission would develop a "biomass action plan" by the end of 2005, which would propose ways to increase the use of the alternative energy source. New "ambitious" biofuel policy proposals could follow next year, she said." (Reuters)

"Wildlife at risk in farm land grab for fuel alternatives" - "The EU's drive to convert farmland to grow agricultural alternatives to fossil fuels is in conflict with preserving disappearing species and the biodiversity of Britain, a conference in Oxfordshire was told yesterday." (The Guardian)

Not golf: "BA asks passengers to pay green fee" - "PASSENGERS of British Airways face a moral dilemma: from today, when they book they will be asked to pay a few pounds extra to compensate for the environmental impact of their flights. The airline will encourage all of its passengers to make a donation which will be invested in energy-saving projects." (London Times)

"INTERVIEW - World Seen Winning Battle of Water Scarcity" - "SYDNEY - The world is gradually winning its battle to overcome drinking water shortages through better resource management, an international conference on rivers held in Australia this week heard." (Reuters)

"EU to Consider GMO Crop-Growing Laws after April" - "LONDON - Europe's farm chief will wait until at least next April to decide whether to draft rules to tell farmers how to separate traditional, organic and genetically modified (GMO) crops, she said on Sunday." (Reuters)

"Philippines Now Requires All GM Foods To Undergo Testing" - "MANILA, Sept 9 - The national government now requires risk assessment of all genetically modified (GM) foods, in an effort to guarantee the quality and safety of products with genetically modified organisms (GMO). The Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) has assured Filipinos that before GM products are released commercially in the market, all goods will pass through the safety assessment of the agency, specifically its Scientific and Technical Research Panel." (Asia Pulse)

September 9, 2005

"Global Warmers Recruit Insurance Industry" - "Former Vice President Al Gore was scheduled to speak on global warming this coming weekend in New Orleans, but although Gore’s speech to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners had to be cancelled because of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, his allies are pressing ahead with efforts to enlist the insurance industry in the global warming alarmist army." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Action Fund Management Warns Insurance Industry Not to be Fooled by Global Warming Activists" - "Action Fund Management LLC (AFM), an investment advisory firm, warned the property and casualty insurance industry not to be fooled by environmental activist efforts to link natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, with global warming.

A new report scheduled to be released on Sep. 8 by Ceres, a coalition of environmental and investor activists, alleges that insurance companies are at financial risk from manmade global warming.

"Insurance companies aren't financially exposed because of any supposed global warming," said Steve Milloy of AFM. "They're exposed because they've spent decades writing policies for risky coastal development and not charging sufficiently high premiums," added Milloy. " (Action Fund Management, PR Web)

"Free Enterprise Action Fund Asks ConEd, PG&E to Disclose Involvement with State Global Warming Initiatives" - "Action Fund Management LLC (AFM), investment adviser to the Free Enterprise Action Fund (www.FreeEnterpriseActionFund.com), asked electric utilities Consolidated Edison, Inc. and PG&E Corp. to disclose their involvement in state efforts to establish Kyoto Protocol-like, mandatory greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions for electric power plants.

“With gasoline prices and other energy costs approaching all time highs, now is not the time to invent excuses to pile on more costs on to consumer's backs” said Tom Borelli of AFM" (Free Enterprise Action Fund, PR Web)

Hmm... this'll stir the possum a tad: "Methane gyrations last 2,000 years show human influence on atmosphere" - "Humans have been tinkering with greenhouse gas levels in Earth's atmosphere for at least 2,000 years and probably longer, according to a surprising new study of methane trapped in Antarctic ice cores conducted by an international research team that involves the University of Colorado at Boulder." (University of Colorado at Boulder)

So, the mid-2nd Millennium AD global cooling was caused or at least exacerbated by increased albedo from the clearing of vast European forests for agriculture, construction, shipbuilding etc. and the reduction of global atmospheric methane input due to decimation of indigenous populations and consequent reduction of their fire regimes in heavily forested regions. And current methane emissions are only similar to those of a thousand years before present. Oh my, all this without the vast herds of McBurgers-on-the-hoof, modern rice paddies, industrial agriculture and fossil fuels.

Time to remember Aaron Wildavsky (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Greens vs. Levees: Destructive river-management philosophy" - "A destructive river-management philosophy that took hold in the ‘90s, which was influenced by the Clinton administration, has had serious policy consequences." (John Berlau, NRO)

"New Orleans: A Green Genocide" - "As radical environmentalists continue to blame the ferocity of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation on President Bush’s ecological policies, a mainstream Louisiana media outlet inadvertently disclosed a shocking fact: Environmentalist activists were responsible for spiking a plan that may have saved New Orleans. Decades ago, the Green Left – pursuing its agenda of valuing wetlands and topographical “diversity” over human life – sued to prevent the Army Corps of Engineers from building floodgates that would have prevented significant flooding that resulted from Hurricane Katrina." (Michael Tremoglie, FrontPageMagazine.com)

"Katrina rings alarms on climate change: World Bank" - "WASHINGTON - Hurricane Katrina may serve as a wake-up call on climate change for developing nations, many of which are vulnerable to devastation from global warming, the World Bank's top environmental official said on Thursday. Ian Johnson, the World Bank's vice president for environmentally and socially sustainable development, told Reuters the storm's heavy damage in the southern United States would have important implications for poorer countries." (Reuters)

"Stronger Hurricanes? Researchers Debate Whether Global Warming Will Make Storms More Destructive" - "When it came to global warming and hurricanes, Kerry A. Emanuel used to be a skeptic. In fact, as one of the foremost theorists who studies such storms, Mr. Emanuel helped write a paper last year dismissing the idea that climate change would make hurricanes significantly more dangerous. That paper will soon be published in a meteorological journal. But Mr. Emanuel's name will not be on it." (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

Curious that Emanuel should make a sudden deal of increased storm activity by comparing a strong storm phase with a weak one, especially as it was recognised and anticipated without AGW required in the mix.

"Hurricane seasons warm up" - "Possible links between hurricane formation and global warming are a contentious issue in climate policy. And last week's Hurricane Katrina in the United States has fanned the flames." (Nature)

"Energy and Hurricane Katrina: Poison or Cure?" - "As modern technology has accelerated the diffusion of news, it has hurried the clamor to assign blame. And so it has proved with Hurricane Katrina. Little more than a day after wind and waves crashed down on the people of New Orleans, environmentalists around the world were seizing on the tragedy as evidence of the supposed evils of American energy use." (Chris Pope, TCS)

"Green Hotheads Exploit Hurricane Tragedy" - "The hurricane that struck Louisiana yesterday was nicknamed Katrina by the National Weather Service. Its real name was global warming." So wrote environmental activist Ross Gelbspan in a Boston Globe op-ed that one commentator aptly described as "almost giddy." The green group Friends of the Earth linked Katrina to global warming, as did Germany's Green Party Environment Minister.

Bobby Kennedy Jr. blamed Katrina on Miss. Gov. Haley Barbour for "derailing the Kyoto Protocol [on global warming] and kiboshing President Bush's iron-clad promise to regulate carbon dioxide."

Time for an ice-water bath, hotheads. If you'd bothered to consult the scientists (remember them?) you'd find they've extensively studied the issue and found no evidence that global warming – assuming it's actually occurring – is causing either an increase in frequency or intensity of hurricanes." (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

"EU lawmakers cite disasters in push on climate change" - "STRASBOURG - European Union (EU) lawmakers called for "ambitious world action" to halt climate change, lamenting the growing number of natural disasters fueled by changes in the earth's atmosphere. Without specifically mentioning Hurricane Katrina in the United States, the European Parliament reiterated its view that the Kyoto Protocol -- rejected by the Bush administration -- is the "central tool" in fighting climate change." (AFP)

"Global warming could hit India agriculture: study" - "NEW DELHI - Global warming will push temperatures in India up by 3-4 degrees Celsius by the turn of the century, hitting agriculture and infrastructure, a joint India-UK study said on Thursday. Rainfall will increase substantially in many areas while diseases such as malaria will spread, the report entitled "Investigating the Impacts of Climate Change in India" said." (Reuters) | Climate change set to affect Indian Agriculture, health and infrastructure (DEFRA)

"Blame wet weather on warmer ocean" - "The incredibly active hurricane season, a year of record rainfall and high levels of water in lakes and canals throughout South Florida all can be blamed on one thing, state scientists said Wednesday. A slight change in the average surface temperature of the Atlantic Ocean." (Port St. Lucie News)

"California may temporarily relax air standards" - "California air quality regulators want to temporarily relax gasoline pollution standards to help avert possible shortages and more price hikes stemming from the loss of petroleum imports from hurricane-battered Gulf states." (Los Angeles Times)

A win for gasbags 'murica? "New law would curb air pollution by school buses, garbage trucks" - "TRENTON, N.J. — A diesel engine emission reduction plan signed into law Wednesday could have New Jerseyans breathing easier in the years to come. But first, voters must approve a constitutional amendment in November that would put the program into effect." (Associated Press)

Wonder if New Jerseyans have figured out how much this'll cost them and for how little benefit (if any).

Loopy Lester's still at it: "China cannot afford to follow US example in economic development" - "Brown, president and founder of the Earth Policy Institute, based in the United States, called for the China to give up its model of economic development, which evolved in the United States and is characterized by inefficiency and pollution." (Xinhua News Agency)

"Astronomers re-assess comet threat" - "The Australian National University (ANU) has discovered the chances of a comet hitting earth are lower than previously thought. ANU astronomer Paul Francis says new research shows the previous estimates, which were based on work by amateurs, are actually more accurate than originally thought. He says this implies the chances the earth will be hit by a comet is seven times lower than previously expected." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.) | Comet collision 'Armageddon' unlikely (ANU) | Scientific Paper (pdf) giving full technical details (Dr Paul Francis, Australian National University)

"Are pesticide 'inerts' an unrecognized environmental danger?" - "Many environmental toxicologists say the EPA is largely ignoring the impact of 'inert' ingredients in pesticides." (Environmental Science & Technology)

"California's Congressional Calumnists" - "Often I find merit in the quip that we are, indeed, a two-party system -- the Stupid One (Republican) and the Evil One (Democratic). Recently, however, the overwhelmingly Democratic California congressional delegation seems to be poaching on the Republicans' turf." (Henry I. Miller, TCS)

"EU bans phthalates in children's toys" - "The European Parliament’s (EP) decision to approve a ban on the plasticizer chemicals used in children’s soft plastic toys signals the end of a bitter eight-year battle. The ban will come into force a year after new legislation is published, probably in the fall." (Environmental Science & Technology)

"The dangers of cuddly extremism" - "By their emotive rejection of all animal testing, the mainstream animal rights organisations are providing encouragement for the violent fringe, argues Ed Owen." (New Statesman)

"Forgive Us Our Debts: Why aren't conservationists fighting poverty?" - "It's a shame. Conservationists are sitting on the sidelines while the Big Game unfolds before our eyes. A major campaign is under way to change the terms of development, alleviate crushing debt, and help poor people around the world live better lives. Successes are being racked up. And conservation and environmental groups are nowhere to be seen.

There are 39 groups listed as partners in the Campaign to Make Poverty History. Not one of them is a conservation or environmental organization.

It's a shame, not just for the leaders of the conservation and environmental movements, but also for conservation and the environment. The changes happening now will shape the future of the poorest regions of the world, many of which are home to the earth's greatest biodiversity -- as well as its most desperate people." (Jon Christensen, Grist)

"Under the Spell of Malthus" - "Biology doesn’t explain why societies collapse" (Ronald Bailey, Reason)

"New Strain of Wheat Rust Appears in Africa" - "Biologists warned that a plant disease in East Africa could wipe out 10 percent of the world’s wheat production." (New York Times)

"Swiss GM crop trial yields positive results" - "A controversial outdoor experiment with genetically modified (GM) wheat has been hailed a success, says the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. But a lengthy legal battle and extra security needed to protect the site from protesters caused the project to burst its original budget threefold." (Swissinfo)

September 8, 2005

"Regional power emissions compact a gas " - "Nine politically "blue" northeastern states have reached agreement on a regional effort to freeze and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Three blue west coast states are poised to follow."(Jon Reisman, Portland Press Herald)

They all suffer from three rather embarrassing (and thus usually not mentioned) flaws:

  • The proposed reductions in GHG emissions will avert no detectable global warming. Advocates spin the benefits as small but an important first step. But if it's about symbols, not substance, why isn't President Bush's approach preferable?
  • The cost in terms of higher energy prices and lost output and income is unacceptably high, so high that advocates refuse to comment in public whether mandatory controls are worth the price. Averted warming and economic cost are directly related, so any effort to improve one worsens the other, which explains downplaying the possibility of 40 percent increases in electricity prices from this "first step."
  • Very few of those foolish enough to agree to such reductions have even come close to meeting their obligations... "

For the latest in green monobrow conspiracy theories: "IAEA deliberately downplays Chernobyl death toll to pave way for nuclear renaissance" - "Geneva, Switzerland, 7 September 2005 - Greenpeace, today, accused the International Atomic Energy Agency of deliberately trying to down play the death toll of the Chernobyl accident as part of the nuclear industry's continued attempt to portray itself as an acceptable future energy source." (Press Release)

"The Chernobyl Catastrophe Reassessed" - "Remember the nuclear "disaster" at Three-Mile Island? In 1979, a minor accident at the Pennsylvania nuclear plant led to the release of tiny amounts of radioactivity. The ensuing panic was out of all proportion to the actual health threat, which was zero.

Seven years later, a major release of radiation emanated from the Chernobyl plant in the Ukraine (it was then part of the USSR). The area in a twenty-mile radius around the plant was evacuated, including part of neighboring Belarus (also in the USSR at that time); winds blew radioactive dust towards Poland and Sweden, where radiation detectors first brought the accident to the world's attention. Fears ran rampant about the likelihood of tens or hundreds of thousands of deaths and illnesses from various cancers induced by the radioactive dust.

But recently, a report issued by a group called the Chernobyl Forum, a committee made up of several different UN-related organizations, gave a far less alarming assessment. While Chernobyl remains a far greater disaster than Three Mile Island, the new report estimates the eventual total death toll as a result of Chernobyl to be about 4,000 -- terrible, but far less devastating than the initial estimates (and some recent ones)." (Gilbert Ross, ACSH)

"We are scaring ourselves into crouching inactivity" - "To engage people in finding solutions, we need journalism that informs." (Jackie Ashley, The Guardian)

Oh boy... "Cleaning chemicals 'reach baby'" - "Chemicals found in perfumes and cleaning products can cross the placenta and reach the baby in the womb, research shows. Tests of umbilical cord blood shows many chemicals, ranging from those used to make plastics and artificial musks, are present. WWF-UK and Greenpeace who produced the report want to see regulations to ban such substances in every day products. But health experts said pregnant women should not be alarmed by the findings." (BBC)

"Bacteria in household dust may trigger asthma symptoms" - "New research shows that bacteria lurking in household dust produce chemicals that may trigger asthma and asthma-related symptoms such as wheezing. These bacterial chemicals, called endotoxins, particularly those found on bedroom floors, were linked with increased respiratory problems in adults. This study, supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), a part of the National Institutes of Health, is the first nationwide study of endotoxins in the household environment." (NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences)

The return to rationality begins with but a single step, albeit a tiny one: "Clean-air activists lose court suit" - "A federal appeals court Tuesday handed activists a rare defeat in their legal campaign for clean air, rejecting their challenge to the San Joaquin Valley, California cleanup plan for tiny specks of dust, soot and chemical particles." (Fresno Bee)

"Healthy food push 'contradictory'" - "The healthy eating drive is at risk of failing because the public is getting contradictory messages, a leading UK food expert says." (BBC)

"Activists to Banks: Behave Better in the Boreal" - "San Francisco – ForestEthics and Rainforest Action Network sent letters to the chief executives of Canada’s biggest banks asking them to cooperate with the environmental community and independent scientists to develop permanent policies that protect endangered forests, prevent climate change and promote human rights. The invitation follows similar ongoing collaborations between Rainforest Action Network and Bank of America, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase that have resulted in new best practices on the environment in critical areas including endangered forest protection, sustainable forestry, illegal logging, ecological no-go zones, carbon mitigation and reduction, renewable energy and indigenous rights." (Press Release)

Hmm... according to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, "resource" is defined as "a natural source of wealth or revenue" and "natural resource" as "industrial materials and capacities (as mineral deposits and waterpower) supplied by nature." If RAN and the rest of their misanthropist buddies have their way then the forest will cease to be a source of materials and/or revenue and the resource will then cease to exist - at least as a resource. They want to "manage" the resource out of existence. Why would any country or enterprise be so foolish as to do that?

Excessive protection presents its own hazards:  "Amazonians call for cayman cull to halt attacks" - "Brazil's caymans have found themselves in unusually hot water after an overly successful project to save them from extinction backfired, leading to an explosion in their numbers and uproar among river-dwellers who say they are terrorised by the creatures." (The Guardian)

"Can ancient rocks yield clues about catastrophes like Hurricane Katrina? Scientists find link between Earth's orbit and climate change 85m years ago" - "Scientists studying sediments laid down on the ocean floor during greenhouse conditions 85 million years ago have gained insights into the causes and mechanisms of climate change, which many people believe is the root cause of recent natural catastrophes including Hurricane Katrina." (University of Newcastle upon Tyne)

"‘Refugee’ vs. ‘Evacuee’: Media Abounds With ‘Apocalyptic-type' References in Coverage of Katrina" - "San Diego, Calif. September 7, 2005. In an exclusive analysis by The Global Language Monitor (http://www.LanguageMonitor.com), the worldwide media was found to abound in Apocalyptic-type terminology in its coverage of the unfolding disaster of Hurricane Katrina in the American Gulf States. Using its proprietary PQI (Predictive Quantities Indicator) algorithm, GLM found the ominous references to include: Disaster, Biblical, Global Warming, Hiroshima/Nuclear bomb, Catastrophe, Holocaust, Apocalypse, and End-of-the-World." (I-Newswire)

"Natural Risks Find New Scrutiny in Katrina's Wake" - "LOS ANGELES - Pick your cataclysm: A tsunami washes over Miami. A massive quake rips Los Angeles. Or the volcano under Yellowstone erupts, spewing ash across America and ushering in a new Ice Age. Surprised by Hurricane Katrina's destruction of New Orleans and the problem-plagued recovery, experts are revisiting with a new concern the risks posed by everything from killer asteroids to ocean-shaking landslides." (Reuters)

Can The Guardian sink any lower? (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Global Deaths & Death Rates Due to Extreme Weather Events, 1900-2004" - "We are constantly bombarded with claims that weather-related events will get worse over time, at least in part because of global warming. So one should expect that aggregate deaths and death rates due to weather-related extreme events worldwide would have trended upward in recent decades. But do they?" (Indur M. Goklany, The Commons)

"Counting the dead: 10,000 or as few as 200 to 300?" - "The mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, said that the total of dead left by Hurricane Katrina would "shock the nation". Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco said that people should prepare themselves for "thousands" of dead. But yesterday the total of those officially listed as dead in the state stood at 71. How many lives has Katrina really claimed?" (The Guardian)

algore: "Crowd flocks to hear Gore's warnings" - "The Democratic presidential candidate in 2000, who lost one of the nation's most controversial elections, has among other pursuits been busily touring the country with a slide show heavy on charts and graphs explaining global warming and its potential consequences." (Portland Oregonian)

"Norway failing to meet Kyoto goals" - "Norway's emission of greenhouse gases increased by nine percent from 1990-2003 and the nation is not on course to meet the environmental obligations laid out by the Kyoto agreement." (Aftenposten)

"Kyoto claims its first corporate scalp in Spain" - "Valencia closes glass factory for not complying with environmental treaty." (El Pais)

"Climate change will affect carbon sequestration in oceans, model shows" - "An Earth System model developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign indicates that the best location to store carbon dioxide in the deep ocean will change with climate change." (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

"Global warming causes soil to release carbon -study" - "LONDON - Global warming is causing soil to release huge amounts of carbon, making efforts to fight global warming tougher than previously thought, scientists said on Wednesday. A study in the journal Nature looked at the carbon content of soil in England and Wales from 1978-2003 and found that it fell steadily, with some 13 million tonnes of carbon released from British soil each year." (Reuters) | Earthy bacteria faced with climate rap. Carbon loss from soil may speed global warming. (Nature)

Hmm... only a portion of anthropogenic carbon ends up in the atmosphere (more is released from fossil fuel consumption than can be accounted for by measured increase) and now temperate regions soils are also supposedly dumping carbon to atmosphere. The implication here then is that anthropogenic carbon, at least from fossil fuel use, is an even smaller bit player than previously thought.

"Bigger airport 'flies in face of global warming worries'" - "Two of Scotland's leading environmental groups have called for Edinburgh Airport's expansion plans to be halted, claiming they will damage efforts to cut harmful emissions." (Edinburgh Scotsman)

"E.ON fears 'generation gap'" - "The government was warned yesterday that it needs to sort out its energy policy if it wants power generation companies to fund replacement capacity for ageing nuclear and coal fired stations." (The Guardian)

"Australia Uranium Sales Up as World Demand Rises" - "SYDNEY - Australian uranium export earnings grew dramatically in fiscal 2005 as global demand for the once-shunned metal pushed prices up sharply, government trade figures released on Wednesday showed." (Reuters)

As part of their ongoing misanthropic anti-energy campaign: "Greenpeace shuts down Europe's largest coal port" - "Rotterdam, The Netherlands. 8 September 2005 - The Greenpeace ship "Argus" today protested at Europe's largest coal import harbour in Rotterdam blocking cranes from unloading imported coal from South Africa, Indonesia, US and Australia. The international organisation urges European governments to immediately stop using coal to avoid climate change and to switch to renewable energy and move to a clean energy economy. In addition, teams of activists unfurled a banner reading 'coal fuels climate change' on a coal stockpile and occupied coal loaders." (Press Release)

"China: Trash burning good way to clean cities" - "About 200 Chinese cities are expected to have a new way to get rid of billion tons of garbage that have encroached 50,000 hectares of land." (Xinhua News Agency)

"States Sue US over Energy Efficiency of Appliances" - "NEW YORK - Fifteen states led by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer sued the US Energy Department on Wednesday for dragging its feet on setting efficiency standards for household appliances that would save enormous amounts of energy." (Reuters)

"China: Herders give way to Asia's 'water tower'" - "Since July 2004, China has moved people out of the Nangqian County region to repair the environment, hurt by global warming, overgrazing and increasing human activities." (Shanghai Daily)

"Measure M debate pits farmers versus environmentalists - again" - "Is the use of genetically engineered crops a technological fix or dangerous and untested science? That's the big question you are likely to hear over and over between now and the special November election when county voters decide on a 10-year ban on transgenic crops." (Sonoma West Times and News)

"Sales of Monsanto's Genetically Modified Cotton Seeds Rise 131 Percent in India" - "BANGALORE, India -- U.S. agribusiness giant Monsanto Co. said Wednesday that it had sold more than 3 million packets of its genetically modified cotton seeds so far this year in India, a 131 percent jump over last year's sales." (AP)

"Ukraine Agriculture Ministry Seeks to Ban GMO Soy Imports" - "KIEV - Ukraine's Farm Ministry said on Wednesday it would ask the government and the parliament to ban imports and planting of genetically modified (GMO) soybeans in the country." (Reuters)

September 7, 2005

"U.N. Report Calls Chernobyl Dangers Overstated" - "A team of United Nations researchers said the health dangers from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident were vastly overstated, resulting in a "paralyzing fatalism" among the 350,000 evacuees that proved to be the "largest public health problem." (Wall Street Journal)

Insufficient mortality and mayhem for Greenpeace: "UN experts present low death toll from Chernobyl but Greenpeace protests" - "Greenpeace and the affected nation of Belarus cast doubt on predictions of a relatively low death toll from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster." (Agence France-Presse)

"Animal model of Parkinson's disease reveals striking sensitivity to common environmental toxins" - "In findings that support a relationship between agricultural chemicals and Parkinson's disease, two groups of researchers have found new evidence that loss of DJ-1, a gene known to be linked to inherited Parkinson's disease, leads to striking sensitivity to the herbicide paraquat and the insecticide rotenone. The two studies were performed with the fruit fly Drosophila, a widely used model organism for studies of human disease, and shed new light on biological connections between inherited and sporadic forms of Parkinson's disease." (Cell Press)

"E.P.A. to Bar Data From Pesticide Studies Involving Children and Pregnant Women" - "Researchers will no longer be allowed to include children and pregnant women in studies examining the effects of pesticides to help set federal standards." (New York Times)

"UK: Action urged on eating habits" - "Health officials demanded tough new measures yesterday to limit the manufacture and sale of "unhealthy" food amid claims that the government's current strategies are failing. Britain's 10,000 environmental health officers say ministers may have to take steps such as imposing extra VAT on unhealthy pre-prepared products and banning adverts for junk food, particularly those aimed at children. The health officers say that the government should also consider health warnings on some food products, similar to those displayed on cigarette packets." (The Guardian)

"Snack attack" - "Last week the French banned school vending machines, but tackling childhood obesity is a far wider problem, reports Jon Henley." (The Guardian)

"Group: Population Numbers May Doom Salmon" - "GRANTS PASS, Ore. -- Too many people using too much energy and natural resources make it inevitable that wild Pacific salmon will become extinct over the next century without a major overhaul in the way people live their lives, a group of 30 scientists, policy analysts and advocates concluded." (Associated Press)

"UN's environment expert moots pact to protect resources" - "BERLIN - Klaus Toepfer, the director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), proposed a new worldwide pact to fight climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "Climate change is not a distant threat, it is a reality," Toepfer told the annual conference of the German council on sustainable development which brought together 1,000 experts on the environment, many of them from Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa." (AFP)

Sadly oh, so true: University Common Room Claptrap No. 1: 'The Sustainability Committee Rep' (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Vegetation growth may quickly raise Arctic temperatures" - "Arctic warming is stimulating the growth of vegetation and could affect the delicate energy balance there, causing an additional climate warming of several degrees over the next few decades. As the number of dark-colored shrubs in the Arctic tundra rises, the amount of solar energy absorbed could increase winter heating by up to 70 percent. Any change in vegetation and energy is thought likely to trigger a response in the Arctic carbon budget." (American Geophysical Union)

Ah! "Cool the planet - clear fell forests!" Somehow, we just don't see tree- and bunny-huggers pushing that campaign.

Interestingly, yesterday we had this:

Frigid zone warming coming to an end? "Using satellite observations to investigate 'greening' trends across Canada and Alaska" - "Recent results from scientists at the Woods Hole Research Center suggest that 'greening' has begun to decline in the high latitude forested areas of North America. The work represents an advance by incorporating the latest satellite observational record to document unique vegetation responses to climatic warming, and then projecting those trends forward in time. The research will be highlighted in upcoming issues of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and in Geophysical Research Letters." (Woods Hole Research Center)

Despite satellites and fast computers we still see through the glass but darkly.

"A New Paradigm for Assessing the Role of Agriculture in the Climate System and in Climate Change" - "We have had a paper accepted for a special issue of Agricultural and Forest Meteorology that is part of a collection of contributions resulting from a Workshop led by R. L. Desjardins, M.V.K. Sivakumar, and C. de Kimpe. The Workshop discussed the contribution of agriculture to climate and was held in Ottawa, Canada, from 27 to 30 September 2004. It was organized under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Environment Canada, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)." (Climate Science)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

Continued Accelerated Growth of Amazonian Forests: As ever more scientists have studied ever more of earth's tropical forests in ever more detail, something they never expected to find has become ever more difficult to deny.

Subject Index Summaries
Canadian Temperature Trends: What do proxy temperature data reveal about the nature of climate change throughout Canada during the Holocene and its relationship to the air's CO 2 concentration?

Life Span (Human): How has it varied since the inception of the Industrial Revolution?  And what has been responsible for the observed trends?

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: Paper Birch, Quaking Aspen, Sugar Beet, and Sugar Maple.

Journal Reviews
Abrupt Changes in the Asian Monsoon: How common are they?

Another Record of Asian Monsoon Variability: Ever more studies continue to document non-CO 2 -induced variability in this important climatic phenomenon.

Responses of Medicinal Substances in St. John's Wort to Elevated CO 2 : What are the substances of interest, and how do they respond to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment?

Effects of Atmospheric CO 2 Enrichment on Methane Emissions from Leaves of Wetland Plants: Does it enhance the process or reduce it?

Photosynthetic Response of Robusta Poplar After Five Years of Exposure to Elevated CO 2 : Was it as great as it was at the start of the experiment? (co2science.org)

"EU and China agree climate change partnership" - "The European Union (EU) will give China the technology to make coal-fired power stations that produce 'near-zero' emissions of the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change. The announcement was made in Belgium yesterday (5 September) during the 8th EU-China Summit. It is part of a wider partnership agreed this week to find ways to mitigate climate change, and to research its potential effects and ways of adapting to them." (SciDev.Net)

"Grass hailed as potential source of clean energy" - "DUBLIN - A tall, decorative plant that can be grown in Europe and the United States could provide a significant amount of energy without contributing to global warming, scientists said on Tuesday." (Reuters)

"FEATURE - Beaufort Sea Oil Plans Raise Hopes and Fears" - "ANCHORAGE - For years, the ice-choked waters off Alaska's Arctic coastline were considered too expensive, too forbidding and too controversial to deserve much oil industry attention. But now one major company, after dropping over $44 million earlier this year for exploration rights, is eyeing offshore oil prospects in the Beaufort Sea as the base for long-term and large-scale Alaska operations." (Reuters)

"Call for GM Crop Ban As Europe Over-Rules Its Ministers" - "The European Commission has approved the import of Monsanto's genetically modified oilseed rape, making it available for food and animal feed across the EU. The decision came despite the decision of the UK, and most EU Member State governments, not to support the application. And Friends of the Earth warned that approval could create GM hybrids in the wider environment. The environmental campaign group condemned the decision and called on the Government to impose a ban on the oilseed rape." (Western Mail)

"French farmers head for gene maize harvest" - "PARIS - French farmers are days away from starting work on a maize harvest that includes the first documented evidence of genetically modified (GMO) grain, the country's AGPM maize growers' association said on Tuesday. The AGPM said 500 hectares of authorised GMO maize had been planted, more than half of which was destined for commercial outlets and would be sold to the animal feed industry in Spain. While the GMO maize area is relatively small -- France has 1.7 million hectares devoted to all maize -- news that farmers have begun commercial production will surprise many in a country where test fields of gene-spliced crops are regularly destroyed by environmental campaigners." (Reuters)

September 6, 2005

"Malaria has many tricks up its sleeve" - "AIDS may command more headlines these days, but malaria still stands as the most persistent and lethal of the infectious diseases." (Toronto Star)

"Scientists need to reconnect with the people" - "Each September, a couple of weeks before the political class decamps to the seaside for the annual round of party conferences, Britain's scientists host a gathering of their own. The British Association Festival of Science has a distinguished history. It was here, in 1842, that the word "dinosaur" was coined. And in 1860 that Bishop Wilberforce and Thomas Huxley held their famous debate on evolution, when the former asked the latter whether he would prefer to be descended from an ape on his grandfather's or grandmother's side." (Financial Times)

"Chernobyl: The true scale of the accident" - "Up to 4,000 people could eventually die of radiation exposure from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (NPP) accident nearly 20 years ago, says a landmark report by an international team of more than 100 scientists. "Chernobyl's Legacy: Health, Environmental and Socio-Economic Impacts," assesses the 20-year impact of the largest nuclear accident in history." (International Atomic Energy Agency)

"Chernobyl radiation death toll 56 so far - U.N." - "The number of people killed by radiation as a result of the Chernobyl disaster, the world's worst nuclear accident, is so far 56, far lower than previously thought, the U.N. said on Monday. A report compiled by the Chernobyl Forum, which includes eight U.N. agencies, said the final death toll was expected to reach about 4,000 -- much lower than some previous estimates -- and that the greatest damage to human health caused by the incident was psychological." (Reuters)

"Too much pop, too little nutrition - Scourge or scapegoat? Sodas take the blame for excess pounds" - "Some people deride them as "sugar water," others as "liquid candy." Never favorites with dietitians or parents, sodas are receiving more and more nutritional heat these days — and the drumbeat to run them out of schools is growing louder." (LA Times)

"Chips to be rationed on school menus" - "Dozens of fatty foods, fizzy drinks and puddings are to be banned from school menus by the government in an effort to tackle obesity." (London Times)

"Obesity ops double as epidemic grows" - "The number of Britons resorting to drastic weight-loss surgery will double in the next 12 months, say medical researchers, in a further sign of the growing obesity epidemic." (London Independent)

"Millions of acres burn, but not in the usual way" - "The number of acres charred by wildfire across the West this year is almost double the 10-year average, but this summer's forest fires have neither been as big nor as devastating as those in past years." (Associated Press)

"No longer thinning, ozone may have improved at midlatitudes" - "The stratospheric ozone layer is no longer declining and may actually be improving in midlatitude areas, says a study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research (2005, 110, D16306)." (Chemical & Engineering News)

Sigh... "Climate change: The ultimate wake-up call" - "The evidence that global warming is making extreme storms like hurricane Katrina worse is becoming overwhelming" (Glasgow Sunday Herald)

"Voltaire and Hurricane Katrina" - "Perhaps the finest analysis to date of the misuse and abuse of Hurricane Katrina by commentators, religious zealots, and environmentalists comes from the pen of Niall Ferguson, Professor of History at Harvard University: 'Katrina rains down calamity...so we, of course, look for a scapegoat' (The Sunday Telegraph, September 4)." (EnviroSpin Watch)

"It is ludicrous to blame Bush" - "If you believe the recriminations flowing thick and fast in the trail of hurricane Katrina, President George Bush has an almost superhuman talent for calamity." (Tony Parkinson, The Age)

"Experts: Too many people in nature's way" - "The dead and the desperate of New Orleans now join the farmers of Aceh and the fishermen of Trincomalee, villagers in Iran and the slum dwellers of Haiti in a world being dealt ever more punishing blows by natural disasters. It's a world where Americans can learn from even the poorest nations, experts say, and where they should learn not to build future settlements like the drowned old metropolis on the Mississippi." (Associated Press)

"The High Cost Of Climate Change" - "To some researchers, Katrina looks like a harbinger of much more catastrophic weather to come." (David Stipp, Fortune)

Hmm, David Stipp - how did we mention him last... oh yes: "...pretend this (915Kb .pdf) GBN flight of fantasy, (also available here, here and sundry other locations), originally touted by David Stipp in Fortune Magazine, actually represents some ultra hush-hush Pentagon analysis. The first box on page one of the document kind of gives it away - it's entitled: 'Imagining The Unthinkable.'"

"Climate change to hit UK insurance premiums" - "The cost of home insurance in Britain could soar in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, insurance companies are warning. The Association of British Insurers said its members were concerned that the hurricane was part of a pattern of global climate change in which incidents of severe weather would become more common, both at home and abroad." (London Independent)

"Political Science" - "When Donald Kennedy, a biologist and editor of the eminent journal Science, was asked what had led so many American scientists to feel that George W. Bush's administration is anti-science, he isolated a familiar pair of culprits: climate change and stem cells. These represent, he said, ''two solid issues in which there is a real difference between a strong consensus in the science community and the response of the administration to that consensus.'' Both issues have in fact riled scientists since the early days of the administration, and both continue to have broad repercussions. In March 2001, the White House abruptly withdrew its support for the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, and the U.S. withdrawal was still a locus of debate at this summer's G8 summit in Scotland." (New York Times)

Slick Willy submitted the Kyoto Protocol for ratification? I must have missed that because I thought the Clinton administration "supported" The Protocol by lip service alone, all the while subjecting it to a "hip pocket veto" from signing to the expiration of said administration (meaning Clinton ignored it to death [despite it having been signed by algore], knowing the Senate had already voted 95:0 not to ratify any instrument failing to bind developing countries to meaningful emissions limitations).

Wow: "Grass growing one month longer" - "A British man who kept a detailed diary on his lawn mowing for the past 20 years, has had his information included in a study on global warming." (United Press International)

Gee, urban heat island has been warming cities and this is particularly true since the end of the recent cooling phase (mid-70s). This guy's lawn is not suffering the same cold stress? Imagine that...

Meanwhile: "Climate change raises risk of hunger - scientists" - "DUBLIN - About 50 million more people, most of them in Africa, could be at risk of hunger by 2050 due to climate change and reduced crop yields, scientists predicted on Monday. Roughly 500 million people worldwide already face hunger but rising levels of greenhouse gases could make the problem worse. "We expect climate change to aggravate current problems of the number of millions of people at risk of hunger, probably to the tune of 50 million," said Professor Martin Parry of the Hadley Center of the UK Meteorological Office. "The greatest proportion, about three-quarters of that number, will be in Africa." Parry told the British Association science conference that it would take huge reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases -- about 20 times those required by the Kyoto Protocol -- to avoid the additional risk of hunger." (Reuters)

Clumsy headline: "CO2 not certain to counter climate change" - "The world cannot count on the "fertilising" effects of carbon dioxide to counteract the adverse impact of global warming on crop yields, according to a paper presented to the British Association Science Festival." (Financial Times)

"CO2 rise threatens Britain's hope of meeting Kyoto target" - "Britain is burning so much oil, gas and coal it may miss its international target to reduce global warming gases, according to government figures which show carbon dioxide emissions rising by 2.5% in the first six months of this year." (London Guardian)

No? Duh! "China won't agree to target for cutting greenhouse emissions, says Dion" - "OTTAWA - Environment Minister Stephane Dion said China won't agree to a national target for cutting greenhouse emissions for years - not even in the post-2012 phase of the Kyoto climate pact. China is the world's second biggest greenhouse emitter after the United States. Its views could create major difficulties when Kyoto signatories meet in Montreal to discuss the next step in the Kyoto process. "It's very unlikely that for the coming future they (Chinese officials) would accept a national target, they are very clear about that," said Dion in an interview from Australia, following talks with Chinese officials earlier this week." (Canadian Press)

"Global warming is dictator's legacy" - "A bungled attempt to turn swaths of Indonesian peat swamps into rice plantations threatens to increase global warming on a massive scale, a scientist said yesterday. Susan Page, a geography researcher at the University of Leicester, said annual fires provoked by peatland drainage on the island of Borneo were releasing enough carbon dioxide to swamp worldwide reductions in greenhouse gas emissions agreed under the Kyoto protocol." (The Guardian) | Peat bog burning blamed for much of global warming (London Telegraph)

The Week That Was Sept. 3, 2005 (SEPP)

Frigid zone warming coming to an end? "Using satellite observations to investigate 'greening' trends across Canada and Alaska" - "Recent results from scientists at the Woods Hole Research Center suggest that 'greening' has begun to decline in the high latitude forested areas of North America. The work represents an advance by incorporating the latest satellite observational record to document unique vegetation responses to climatic warming, and then projecting those trends forward in time. The research will be highlighted in upcoming issues of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and in Geophysical Research Letters." (Woods Hole Research Center)

"Global warming ups downpours, draughts" - "The number of days when it either rains heavily or not at all in Japan has increased during the past 100 years, while the number of moderately rainy days has decreased, according to the Meteorological Research Institute." (Japan Times)

"UK: Firms look at switching production abroad" - "Warning that high energy prices will force big manufacturers to export jobs." (The Guardian)

And Kyoto-style energy rationing, ahem, create jobs?

Poor moonbat... "And still he stays silent" - "By hailing the failure of this summer's G8 summit as a success, Bob Geldof has betrayed the poor of Africa." (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

"Fresh water affected by salt from deicing roads" - "Scientists have found that fresh water systems from across the northeastern United States including Baltimore, Maryland the Hudson River Valley, New York and the White Mountains of New Hampshire are becoming saltier due to deicer use on roads during the winter. Not only are there more roads, but the amount of deicing that occurs is increasing and gradually adding salt to fresh water systems reports Sujay Kaushal and colleagues in the September issue of PNAS." (University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science)

September 2, 2005

"Katrina Kicks Up Storm of Global Warming Debate" - "No sooner had Hurricane Katrina moved inland to spawn tornadoes, flooding, misery and tragedy than it – or rather global warming alarmists and some in the media – began spawning junk science." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Hurricane Katrina and the need to hold on to Enlightenment values" - "The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina was not caused directly by God; nor was it caused by Mr. Bush, nor the Great Satan of America; nor was it a divine punishment of a wicked city steeped in vice and corruption." (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Deaths, Death Rates & Property Losses due to Hurricanes Hitting the United States: Trends from 1900 to 2004" (Indur M. Goklany, The Commons)

"Could the Tragedy Have Been Averted?" - "Everyone knows that weather forecasts are not totally accurate. For potentially destructive and life-threatening events such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods, forecasters necessarily err on the side of caution. This leads to over-warning, which in turn results in some level of complacency on the part of the public." (Roy Spencer, TCS)

"Nature outwits forecasters" - "Even with teams of geologists, meteorologists, physicists, engineers and statisticians, anticipating the wrath of Mother Nature is still as much art as science, as Eqecat's experience proves." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Who to Blame?" - "The blame game has always been a favorite American pastime, especially in Washington DC. Collecting hard facts, assessing real data, determining an actual cause and developing a proper course of action, be it pre-emptive or reactionary, requires a lot of non-partisan honest effort. Effectively fixing blame on the other guy is almost effortless and just as profitable, at least politically. Therefore, it is a much more popular tactic, hence, a much more common practice." (JB Williams, MichNews.com)

"How Gov't Can Help: By Getting Out of the Way" - "When the initial rescue efforts wind down in the ravaged Gulf Coast area, the much longer process of cleanup and recovery will begin. In this effort, while government will be involved, millions of people will be picking up -- literally -- the pieces of their lives. To be able to do this quickly they will need energy to power their trucks, cars, generators, and pumps -- and effective tools to ward off disease in the affected areas. To that end, federal and state governments need to think about how they can help these men and women get the energy and resources they need at the most affordable prices possible." (Iain Murray, TCS)

"Power Plant Pollution and Environmentalists' Power" - "New Rules Could Allow Power Plants to Pollute More" according to Wednesday's Washington Post. The Post story focused on a draft Bush-administration regulation that would make it harder to trigger New Source Review (NSR), a Clean Air Act provision requiring state-of-the-art pollution controls at new and upgraded industrial plants.

The Post article, which is based on internal administration documents leaked to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), is just the latest example of how public debate on air pollution continues to confuse regulatory arcana with actual emissions. Total power plant pollution has been dropping for years and declining pollution caps, unaffected by NSR, ensure these improvements will continue for years to come." (Joel Schwartz, TCS)

"Breath of the dragon: ERS-2 and Envisat reveal impact of economic growth on China's air quality" - "China's spectacular economic growth during the last decade has brought many benefits – and some challenges. Global atmospheric mapping of nitrogen dioxide pollution performed by ERS-2's GOME and Envisat's SCIAMACHY reveals the world's largest amount of NO2 hanging above Beijing and northeast China, as reported in Nature this week." (I-Newswire)

"Did Human Remains from India Cause BSE? – Study" - "LONDON - Mad cow disease may have originated from animal feed contaminated with human remains washed ashore after being floated downriver in Indian funerals, British scientists said on Friday." (Reuters)

"EPA unions call for moratorium on fluoride in drinking water" - "Eleven unions representing more than 7,000 workers at the Environmental Protection Agency are calling for a national moratorium on programs to add fluoride to drinking water, citing what they call a possible cancer risk." (Associated Press)

"Farmers Lose Klamath Water Fight" - "Environmentalists and fishermen who have been battling farmers over water in the sprawling agricultural basin on the California-Oregon border called the decision by Judge Francis M. Allegra of the U.S. Court of Claims a major victory." (Los Angeles Times)

"FEATURE-Water crisis looms as Himalayan glaciers melt" - "NEW DELHI, Sept 2 - Imagine a world without drinking water. It's a scary thought, but scientists say the 40 percent of humanity living in South Asia and China could well be living with little drinking water within 50 years as global warming melts Himalayan glaciers, the region's main water source." (Reuters)

When all else fails, ignore the data: "Scientist calculates Greenland warming" - "Los Alamos National Laboratory researcher has nailed a significant piece of evidence in the global warming puzzle. Petr Chylek of LANL's Space and Remote Sensing Science said climate models have predicted that temperature changes in Greenland should occur at a faster rate than global temperature changes. "But until recently there has been no confirmation that Greenland's long-term temperature changes are related to global warming or that they proceed faster than the global temperature change," Chylek said." (Los Alamos Monitor)

"Christians draw swords on climate" - "A new UK organisation hopes to combat climate change through harnessing the political power of the church. Stop Climate Chaos brings traditional environmental groups such as Greenpeace together with Christian development agencies like Christian Aid. It is asking the government to cut Britain's greenhouse gas emissions, and to ensure that overseas aid money is invested in clean technologies." (BBC) | The Biggest Climate Change Coalition Yet (IPS)

"Australia: Downer espouses nuclear virtues" - "Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has laid out the case for Australia taking the path to nuclear power generation, saying global warming is forcing a rethink on the issue." (Australian Associated Press)

"Kenya halts first field trials of GM crops" - "[NAIROBI] Kenyan authorities yesterday (31 August) began destroying the country's first genetically modified (GM) crops growing in open field trials. The government halted the research and ordered the destruction after discovering that a technician had sprayed a restricted pesticide on maize modified to resist attack by insects called stem borers. Wilson Songa, Kenya's agriculture secretary and chair of the National Biosafety Committee, said this could compromise the validity of the trial's results." (SciDev.Net)

September 1, 2005

"Katrina and Disgusting Exploitation" - "Katrina has nothing to do with global warming. Nothing. It has everything to do with the immense forces of nature that have been unleashed many, many times before and the inability of humans, even the most brilliant engineers, to tame these forces." (James K. Glassman, TCS) | Hurricane of Misinformation (S. T. Karnick, TCS)

"GERMAN CALLOUSNESS: Kicking Hurricane Victims While They're Down" - "Hurricane Katrina has cost the lives of hundreds and devastated the US Gulf Coast. But instead of aid donations and sympathy, the Americans have heard little more than a haughty "I told you so" from Germany. It's another low point for trans-Atlantic relations -- and set off by a German minister. How pathetic." | German Minister Stands Behind Criticism of Bush | Mr. Trittin, You've Got Mail! | Why Europe Hasn't Jumped to Help Katrina's Victims (Spiegel Online) | Katrina Holds Familiar Lessons (Deutsche Welle) | Conversely: 10 to 12 nations offer aid in wake of Katrina (Associated Press)

It should be pointed out that developed and wealthy America has the infrastructure to cope with these natural disasters and, while tragic and devastating at the personal level, such events have relatively little impact at the national level. Similar events in the developing world, however, are truly national disasters requiring significant humanitarian assistance. This is one of the reasons we find eco-obstructionism to third world development so offensive. It also illustrates the risk inherent in reducing development and wealth generation through energy rationing schemes such as the ill-advised Kyoto Protocol. Reducing emissions "just in case" they actually do cause global warming is not the least risk "precautionary" course. If anything, Katrina is a cautionary tale on why not Kyoto.

"US Rejection of Kyoto at Heart of States' Climate Pact" - "The Atlantic rarely seems a greater divide than when discussing climate change and the Kyoto protocol." (CEI)

"How the Wall Street Journal and Rep. Barton celebrated a global-warming skeptic" - "Why do so many U.S. business leaders and members of Congress doubt the scientific consensus on global warming? Consider the case of Stephen McIntyre, a semiretired businessman who received front page treatment by the Wall Street Journal." (Environmental Science & Technology)

Surely the more interesting questions would be why "reviewers" managed to miss the flaws exposed by McIntyre and McKitrick and why the IPCC so gleefully adopted a radical revision of established history. Paul D. Thacker seems to have something of a bee in his bonnet about this and he certainly seems to disapprove any sort of review or re-examination of props for his preferred "world is toasting and it's our fault" contention.

Meow! Here's another Thacker piece: "Skeptics get a journal" - "If the manuscripts of climate-change skeptics are rejected by peer-reviewed science journals, they can always send their studies to Energy & Environment. It is found in only 25 libraries worldwide." (Environmental Science & Technology)

"Global warming: A lot of hot air" - "The issue of global warming, which already is claiming an inordinate amount of attention, is well on its way to becoming the environmental movement’s rallying point over the next decade." (Harold Brown, The citizen)

"Worst seabird season on record" - "Seabird colonies in Scotland have suffered one of the worst breeding seasons on record, experts have warned." (BBC)

"Is autumn now starting earlier?" - "THE brambles are ripening across the central belt and the last swift of summer has departed for warmer climes. Autumn is advancing upon the country and experts are trying to find out if the season appears to be starting earlier. They suspect climate change may be responsible." (The Herald)

"Connecting Nature, Power and Poverty" - "WASHINGTON, Aug 31 - In a significant challenge to neo-liberal orthodoxy, a major Washington-based think tank is calling for greater local and democratic control over environmental resources as the most effective means to lift some two billion people out of rural poverty." (IPS)

"No allergy problems from GM corn or soy: study" - "NEW YORK - Despite concerns from some critics of genetically modified crops that the foods may raise consumers' risk of allergic reactions, a new study finds no evidence that this is the case. The study, by researchers in Portugal, adds to evidence that several widely used strains of GM corn and soybeans do not promote food allergies. All of the products -- three corn strains engineered to resist certain crop-ravaging insects and a soybean variety that tolerates a common weed killer --have been on the market since the 1990s. The new study looked at a group of allergy-prone adults and children who had consumed products containing the biotech foods at some point since their approval in Europe." (Reuters Health)

"Maize 'Super Seeds' Bump Up SA's Huge Surplus" - "Maize farmers' rapid adoption of high-yielding genetically modified crops has contributed to SA's surplus, Kobus Lindeque, MD for southern Africa of seed giant Monsanto, told Parliament yesterday." (Business Day (Johannesburg))