"Environmental pollution and degradation causes 40 percent of deaths worldwide, Cornell study finds" (9/30/98) Stanford University has Paul Ehrlich. Cornell University's resident-overpopulation-looney-tune is David Pimental. Here's the press release where he says "Life on Earth is killing us."
"Fungus rather than Pfiesteria microbe may be harming fish, researchers report" (9/30/98) Bad news for this EPA home page.
"The Week That Was September 21-27, 1998" (9/30/98) The weekly update from the Science & Environmental Policy Project.
"False alert on smog" (9/30/98) "Yet another billion-dollar EPA regulation based on junk science has just been enacted with little public furor. The [EPA] now is trying to stop what Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, New York Republican, calls "airborne terrorism."
New study: Caffeine and heart arrhythmia (9/30/98) A new study in the American Heart Journal (October 1998) reports that "excessive caffeine intake may be a factor in the genesis of arrhythmias associated with caffeine toxicity." But an accompanying editorial points out that "Other studies have not supported the speculation that higher doses of caffeine may affect cardiac conduction." The editorial concludes that "Indeed, common sense once again dictates that of coffee bothers you, don't drink it; otherwise why should we physicians, as we all do too often, modify life's pleasures without a sound basis of scientific accuracy to do so." Amen.
Should Stan Glantz be educating journalists? (9/30/98) [Click on "Current FACS Conferences"] The Foundation for American Communications' (FACS) mission "is to provide the knowledge and resources journalists and their sources need to effectively communicate information to the public through news." Supposedly toward this goal, FACS is holding a conference titled "Health Risks and Health Claims in the News and in the Courts," November 6-8 in Chicago during which anti-tobacco zealot and hypocrite Stan Glantz will be one of the featured speakers. Ask FACS how a presentation from the integrity-impaired Glantz furthers it mission.
"Tobacco lawyers says public knew of danger" (9/30/98) Testimony in the state of Washington tobacco litigation.
Rachel's Daughters (9/30/98) This is the real legacy of windbag Rachel Carson -- enviro propaganda.
Smoking and airlines (9/30/98) Mike Currie writes in the South China Post that "... by allowing smoking on flights, airlines have to turn on their ventilation system in full force. Fresh air has to be drawn in more frequently from outside [which is minus 40 degrees at least] and heated up before it reaches the passengers. That means the draining of fuel and of course money! Worse still, in some cases, because smoking is banned, the ventilation system is not functioning at full capacity, resulting in relatively poorer air quality in the aircraft."
Oliphant the sycophant (9/30/98) Boston Globe columnist Thomas Oliphant writes "a deep bow of respect is in order to Carol Browner, who runs the [EPA] the right way in an era when solving problems is more important than fighting ideological wars." Translation: It's acceptable for a public official to lie in the name of the environment. Respect for Carol Browner? Hah! For what? Being the most ruthlessly political and dishonest EPA administrator ever? E-mail your comments to the Boston Globe.
"Breathing easier: Who pays?" (9/30/98) The St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorializes in favor of the new EPA smog rules. E-mail your comments to the St. Louis Post- Dispatch.
"Scientists: Farmers must fight global warming with conservation" (9/30/98) Senator Bob Kerrey (D-Neb) says the federal government should pay off farmers who buy into global warming.
Journalistic meltdown at the Nashville Tennessean (9/29/98) In what can only be a scheme to boost circulation, the Nashville Tennessean is running a series of articles about "unexplained illness" in populations near nuclear facilities -- duping the unsuspecting into believing that whatever ails them was caused by them thar see-kret ay-tomik, new-klear ree-search saahtes. E-mail your comments to the Nashville Tennessean. While you're at it, cut-and-paste a copy for Craig Moon, the Tennessean's President and Publisher, and editor Frank Sutherland. For more info, click here for USA Today coverage.
"Health experts treat question of harm in mosquito spraying" (9/29/98) Sense beats Multiple Chemical Senselessness in Missouri.
"When Scientific Predictions Are So Good They're Bad" (9/29/98) On the eve of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, the New York Times' William K. Stevens pens a semi-level-headed article. Is he trying to atone for past sins -- i.e., his yellow journalistic series of global warming advocacy articles? I'm sure the New York Times will be flooded with letters from enviros claiming Stevens has sold out to the oil and coal industries. Then he'll really have some atoning to do.
"The greening of the classroom: Do kids learn junk environmentalism in schools?" (9/29/98) "Johnny can't read, write or do math. But he may know how to save the Earth."
"A victory for clean air" (9/29/98) That's what the New York Times editors call the new EPA rules on smog. Click here for the Junkman's letter to the editors. Background info is in the stories below. Submit your own comments to the New York Times. Don't forget to include your address and phone number so they can contact you about publication.
ETS and childhood cancer: Another theory up in smoke (9/29/98) The Associated Press report of this new secondhand smoke study quotes Columbia University's Frederica Perera (a member of EPA's Science Advisory Board and a trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council!) as saying "It's an important finding that requires follow-up study." If Frederica had done any follow-up (like read the study or familiarize herself with the literature), she probably wouldn't have wanted to be quoted by the AP on this study. E-mail Frederica your thoughts. Update (9/29): A similar, prior study by the same authors (not mentioned in the AP story) produced the opposite conclusion!
John McLachlan's new endocrine disrupter research: Dead-on-arrival (9/28/98) In 1996, research claims by Tulane's John McLachlan drove Congress to require the EPA to develop a testing program for so-called endocrine disrupters. A year later, McLachlan's research was shown to be junk science. He was forced to retract its publication. This time, his junk science has been pre-empted. Click here for an article about the recent New England Journal of Medicine study of humans reporting no association between DES and breast, uterine and ovarian cancers. Click here for the abstract of McLachlan's new rat study announced by NIEHS press release. E-mail your condolences over the DOA study to McLachlan.
"The Sierra Club and the Trial Lawyers: Two Peas in a Pod" (9/28/98) "The Sierra Club and trial lawyers have joined forces this election year for the simple reason that they have a great many things in common. Perhaps the most significant of these things is the love of money."
The Second-Hand Smoke Charade (9/28/98) "Congress should pull the plug on any EPA regulation that cannot be justified by evidence that is demonstrable, compelling, unequivocal and significant. None yet exists with respect to passive smoking."
Mike Gough on dioxin (9/28/98) Here's Mike Gough's letter-to-the-editor of the Los Angeles Times about this article.
"Questions about state's crusade to ban dioxin" (9/28/98) The Seattle Times editorializes that "The right question isn't when to ban dioxin - but whether, on which basis, and at what cost?" E-mail you compliments to the Seattle Times.
Bisphenol A: Setting the record straight (9/28/98) Here are letters-to-the-editor correcting the inaccuracies of Chemical and Engineering News' reporter Bette Hileman.
"Legislation Has Pesticide Firms Testing Products on Humans" (9/28/98) Beats me why anyone is concerned about consenting adults whose biggest risk is a subclinical change in blood chemistry. Click here for the Junkman's letter-to-the-editor of the Wall Street Journal.
"The price of Pataki's green sheen" (9/28/98) A great New York Post editorial on New York's disappointing governor.
"A look at the meaning of numbers: the capability of probability" (9/27/98) A Washington Post article by a statistics apologist. As a trained biostatistician, I recognize the value of probability and statistics in making decisions. But statistics and its children -- like epidemiology -- aren't science. Those who use statistics must stop representing it as science.
"Vietnam ends silence on issue of wartime exposure to Agent Orange; It has linked herbicide used by U.S. to deformities in babies; Hanoi is seeking help in finding solution" (9/27/98) Vietnam looks to shake down U.S. taxpayers based on junk science. What will our Vietnam-draft-dodging President do? E-mail your thoughts to the Los Angeles Times.
"Nations Meet Over Global Warming" (9/27/98) Countdown to Son-of-Kyoto -- the November meeting in Buenos Aires on global warming. Note the AP's mindless global warming mantra at the end of the article.
"Environmentalism can be an odd fit for churches" (9/27/98) If religion and environmentalism mix, will EPA administrator Carol Browner become Goddess of the Environment?
"Warming to get worse, U. geologist says" (9/27/98) The Deseret News Joe Bauman writes "... a University of Utah geologist who has taken the Earth's temperature and discovered a record of climactic changes..." A bit dramatic, don't you think. E-mail the Deseret News and tell them Bauman should write romance novels, not news reports.
"Experts debate the effects of a warmer world" (9/27/98) Houston Chronicle coverage of a global warming debate involving Richard Lindzen, Stephen Schneider and others.
Human influence on local climate (9/27/98) The Science and Environmental Policy Project discusses a recent article in the Arizona Republic about the "urban heat island effect."
Colder than average temperatures (9/27/98) The Science and Environmental Policy Project spotlights a recent article in the London Times about colder than average temperatures that haven't been making the news.
Smog Alert! (9/26/98)If you don't like EPA junk science, do something about it. Click here for news reports giving short shrift to the EPA junk science behind the new smog rules. E-mail your comments to these newspapers. Click here for a sample letter-to-the-editor.
"Poll shows Texans taking global warming seriously" (9/26/98) Houston Chronicle science writer based this claim on a poll taken by the Sierra Club -- hardly an objective group. E-mail the Houston Chronicle and tell them this is Sierra Club propaganda, not news.
"Mainers can act to cut global warming: Task force suggests car pooling, fee for gas guzzlers" (9/26/98) E-mail the Bangor Daily News and clue them in on global warming. Why would a "Mainer" oppose warmer weather anyway?
"Global warming could swamp N.C. coast, says EPA" (9/26/98) EPA tries to scare local officials. Can you imagine that EPA actually has a "sea-level rise project coordinator?" Who is the "sky-is-falling project coordinator?"
Facts versus Factions: The Use and Abuse of Subjectivity in Scientific Research (9/26/98) A new report from Robert Matthews of the Sunday Telegraph.
"Farmyard Follies" (9/26/98) ESEF's Roger Bate on antibiotic hysteria.
Defense Victorious in Nation's First Trial Over Norplant (9/26/98) "[P]laintiffs lawyers are chalking up the Brownsville case -- which one juror describes as a "ridiculous" grab for money -- as a learning experience.
"Study explains cancer link to power cables" (9/26/98) What link?
New CDC food safety statistics (9/25/98) Last month the National Research Council's food safety report set the media ablaze with misleading statistics about food poisoning. This new CDC report confirms how misleading the NRC report was. CDC estimates 8 million cases of food-related illness in 1997 -- a full order of magnitude less than the NRC report touted. The CDC figure is still a guesstimate. We really have no idea how many cases of foodborne illness occur.
"SLF: Court Unanimously Rejects Clinton Census Sampling" (9/25/98) "A special three-judge federal panel in Virginia today announced in a unanimous 3-0 decision that the Clinton plan to use statistical sampling rather than the "actual Enumeration" head count mandated by the U.S. Constitution violates federal law prohibiting the use of sampling for purposes of determining population for apportioning members of Congress among the states."
Spanish study holds secret to eternal life? (9/25/98) The abstract of a study by Spanish researchers concludes by saying "[This study] indicates that stopping smoking after age 65 reduces the risk of dying." [American Journal of Epidemiology1998; 148:575-80, September 15, 1998]. Perhaps something was lost in the Spanish-to-English translation?
Duped by lone researcher, CNN runs with security device/pacemaker scare (9/25/98) CNN falls for a classic junk science strategy. Tell CNN what you think of its shoddy journalism.
"Allergies and asthma -- it's enough to take your breath away" (9/25/98) Junk science journalist Molly Ivins confuses peanut allergy with MCS -- multiple chemical silliness. E-mail your comments to Molly Ivins and the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram.
Smoggy journalism (9/25/98) Coverage of the new EPA smog rules by the Chicago Tribune and New York Times is incomplete in that it does not mention the scientific debate over whether ozone transport is a significant contributor to smog in the Northeast. For more info, check out: this Detroit News editorial, this Plain Dealer article, this article by Joel Bucher of Citizens for a Sound Economy, this article from Electricity Daily, and this article from EM Online. E-mail your comments to the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times.
'Sudden' ozone depletion? (9/25/98) Chilean scientists have reported a "sudden" and "large" drop in the ozone layer over Chile. Reportedly, the ozone concentration over the city of Punta Arenas fell to under 220 Dobson Units (DU) -- the World Meteorological Organization scale for measuring ozone layer thickness. A DU level under 150 is considered to be an "ozone hole." Assuming there was no sudden, large release of so-called "ozone depleting chemicals," doesn't the "sudden" appearance of this "large" thinning detract from the theory that manmade chemicals are responsible?
"'Road Rage' Is Merely Media Mayhem" (9/25/98) Michael Fumento writes "Road rage has become a tremendous growth industry."
"We're not talking laughing gas" (9/25/98) Is cow flatulence a global threat? E-mail your comments to the Capital Times (Madison, WI).
"Excess regulation comes at a price" (9/25/98) Compliment the Houston Chronicle's Jim Barlow on this fine article.
EPA issues junk science-fueled smog rules (9/24/98) Click here for the news story. Click here for Vice President Al Bore's statement. Then check out this Detroit News editorial, this Plain Dealer article, this article by Joel Bucher of Citizens for a Sound Economy, and this article from Electricity Daily.
Beer and upper digestive tract cancer (9/24/98) This British Medical Journal study reports that beer/spirits drinkers run a greater risk of upper digestive tract cancer than wine drinkers. But this study is based on only 156 cancers. The comparisons in the study were based on even smaller groups, including as few as 6 cancers and as many as 35. Big conclusion, small study.
"The Cancer Drug Industry 'March' Seriously Misleads The Nation" (9/24/98) No doubt Samuel Epstein is nutty when it comes to his so-called "industrial carcinogens." Nevertheless even a madman can make a good point. Here, Epstein points out that the National Cancer Institute has squandered $25 billion over the last 25 years in the basically fruitless "war against cancer." An upcoming Washington, D.C.-march led by Gen Norman Schwartzkopf aims to double NCI funding. Instead of doubling NCI's funding, let's just reallocate NCI's current funding to more capable research institutions.
"Latest USDA Research Confirms Health Professionals' Recommendations to Choose Margarine" (9/24/98) I don't think so. At best, this research only compared the effect of margarine vs. butter consumption on cholesterol levels. The study did not measure the impact of margarine vs. butter on heart disease. Keep in mind that two recent studies, including the largest-ever study of heart disease, failed to link high cholesterol and other "traditional" risk factors with heart disease. This study also discusses "trans fats" -- the latest food fad. The trans fat research is junk.
Speaking of 'bad habits' (9/23/98) Cambridge University will spend nearly $500,000 researching why people with "bad habits" live long lives. But I happen to think that wasting taxpayer money on studies unlikely to benefit the public is a lot worse than excessive smoking, drinking and eating.
Mattel gives in to Greenpeace (9/23/98) Despite the new Dutch studying saying that soft plastic toys are not harmful to children who suck on them, toy maker Mattel bowed to enviro pressure and announced it will phase out the use of phthalates in certain toys. Caving into baseless enviro demands hurts us as consumers. E-mail your displeasure to Mattel.
Sunscreen and skin cancer (9/23/98) In a thinly-veiled effort to sell more sunscreen products, Johnson and Johnson Consumer Products Company issued this press release about a new study reporting that we get "more harmful UV rays than we might expect." While you may want to protect your skin from the sun, remember that sunscreens have never been clinically proven to prevent skin cancer.
Textbook Trash: The Polluting of Environmental Education (9/23/98) A new report on school textbooks which shows the misinformation and incorrect information about enviromental issues contained in school textbooks.
Highlights from Endocrine/Estrogen Letter (9/23/98) The latest developments in the wacky world of endocrine disruption.
Koop's Krazy Komments (9/23/98) At a meeting of the Maine chapter of the American Lung Association yesterday, former surgeon general C. Everett Koop called tobacco executives... "the most dishonest, underhanded, lying, cheating players in the sleaziest game in the country." He then said by the year 2025, more than 500 Million people will have died from tobacco-related illnesses. This statistic and many others used by the anti-tobacco industry are about as dishonest as it gets. There are only about 1.1 million lung cancer deaths worldwide annually and perhaps as many as 20 percent of these deaths occur in nonsmokers. Attributing other major causes of death, like heart disease, solely to smoking is specious. And speaking of sleazy, ask Koop why he agreed to support Hillary Clinton's ill-fated effort to revamp the U.S. healthcare system in exchange for a waiver to be buried at Arlington Cemetery. I thought Koop would go away after the state of Minnesota cut him and David Kessler a $200 million slice of the Minnesota tobacco settlement pie. I guess not. [Source: Yahoo News, 9/23/98.]
Goldman to leave EPA (9/23/98) The Daily Environment Report reports (9/23/98) that Lynn Goldman, chief of EPA's pesticides and toxics program, will leave EPA by the end of the year. Reportedly, she wants to "move on to new things." Of all Goldman's boneheaded acts, one of the most memorable is this quote about the 1996 Tulane University study reporting combinations of pesticides were potent hormone disrupters: "I was astounded by the findings. I just can't remember a time where I've seen data so persuasive as far as making an argument for synergy between chemicals. The results are very clean-looking." A year later the study authors were forced to retract these "clean-looking" results because no other scientist could replicate them. Good luck, Lynn. As a pediatrician, perhaps you should go back to treating runny noses. Leave public policy to the more level-headed.
EPA aided mill fighters: Flint prayer center affiliate gets $5,000 from agency to lobby local officials (9/23/98) Another Dave Mastio masterpiece.
Three Louisiana plants top national toxic polluting list, but experts say threat exaggerated (9/22/98) A PIRG report, "Troubled Waters: A Report on Toxic Releases into America's Waterways" says that Americans are "in the dark" about most corporate pollution. The study cites three fertilizer plants near Baton Rouge, LA that discharged 500 million pounds of "toxins" into the Mississippi River during 1992 to 1996. But the study fails to mention that these discharges are for the most part phosphoric acid -- a chemical found in every can of soda.
More bad news for EMF hysterics (9/23/98) A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology (9/15/98) reports no association between electric blanket use and breast cancer in women. The study involved almost 2,200 breast cancer patients.
One company settles Apollo radiation suit (9/23/98) The Associated Press (9/22/98) reported that Babcock and Wilcox has agreed to pay an out-of-court settlement to eight cancer victims in exchange for foregoing punitive damages in the Apollo, PA radiation lawsuit. Atlantic Richfield Co., the other defendant, has not agreed to settle. Last week, jurors fell for the plaintiffs' claim that radioactive dust from a nuclear fuels plant had caused their cancers.
Tobacco: Who Pays Whom? (9/22/98) Check out these letters to the editor of Science (published 9/18/98), including one from the Junkman.
"French traffic normal despite Green Party's 'Day Without Cars'" (9/22/98) Life under the Green Thumb?
Major heart disease news: New study supports MONICA (9/22/98) A new study (New England Journal of Medicine, 9/24/98) reports no change in the incidence of heart attack among a population of 352,481 during the period 1987-1994. The study and accompanying editorial both identify this result as a paradox give the decline in the prevalence of "causal" risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. This result is consistent with the World Health Organization's MONICA study which also could not associate heart disease with "traditional" risk factors.
The Week That Was September 14-20, 1998 (9/22/98) The weekly update from The Science & Environmental Policy Project.
Toxic imperialism (9/22/98) First world countries have signed a U.N. protocol to ban the export of a number of chemicals to the third world. The rationale is that the third world can't handle the chemicals safely. Of course, many of these chemicals helped make the first world what it is. Now, the third world will be denied their uses and benefits. Click here for further reading.
'Antibacterial' soaps may create new problems (9/22/98) USA Today's Anita Manning writes a scare story about hypothetical risks from anti-bacterial and liquid soaps. While the usefulness of anti-bacterial soaps may be hyped, so far, so is this new fear. Also, where are the supposed DEA-related cancers? DEA has only been used for about 30 years years. Send your comments to USA Today.
River pollution study finds hormonal defects in fish: Discovery in Britain suggests sewage plants worldwide may cause similar reproductive-tract damage (9/22/98) It's difficult to evaluate this report since the study on which it's based only appears as a news item in Environmental Science and Technology (September 15, 1998). Additionally, Theo Colburn, the Queen Mother of hormone hysteria, is used as a source. This report could be easily evaluated under controlled laboratory conditions -- especially since it claims that up to 100 percent of male fish exhibit some feminization. Tell the Los Angeles Times that a story built on no study plus Theo Colburn equals shoddy reporting.
EU votes to press U.S. Congress to ratify Kyoto Protocol (9/22/98)The vote occurred on September 17 and arose from concerns that the Kyoto Protocol might prove to be no more than "a meaningless gesture." A fitting fate for something based on meaningless evidence? [Source: Daily Environment Report, September 22, 1998.]
Life Expectancy Rises As Infant Mortality Drops In The Americas, PAHO Says (9/21/98) Good news from Latin America. But Gro Bruntland can't admit it.
Pesticides not linked with suicide by Canadian farmers; But are linked with hypothesis suicide (9/21/98) Researchers report in the American Journal of Occupational Medicine (October 1998) that exposure to pesticides was not associated with suicide among Canadian farmers. The theory was that exposure to nervous system-acting pesticides may cause behavioral changes that could lead eventually to suicide among depressed or anxious people. A statistical association was reported for herbicide use and suicide. But herbicides, obviously, aren't designed to act on nervous systems. On a more hopeful note, perhaps these results have killed this looney hypothesis.
Fight Nanny State efforts to restrict infant sleepwear choices (9/21/98) Grab your pitchfork. Time to contact Congress!
Hanford summary judgment document (9/21/98) Here's the summary judgment decision against the "Downwinders" who claim various health problems caused by past radioactive releases from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. An interesting document, but long.
CEI TV/radio campaign on global warming (9/21/98) The Competitive Enterprise Institute is conducting a TV/radio campaign that defends energy use and challenges the alleged scientific consensus on global warming. From this press release, you can link to still photos and listen to the audio from the TV ads.
"Ozone layer vs. inhalers: A tough call" (9/21/98) Hardly. Despite the Montreal Protocol, ozone depletion is an unproven theory. What's not unproven is that CFC-free inhalers don't work as well CFC-propelled inhalers. E-mail your comments to the Los Angeles Times.
"A corrupt defense of a corrupt policy" (9/21/98) "But their conclusions are only dimly related to the data. Bowen and Bok root around in the statistics in a desperate attempt to extrapolate implications to defend the affirmative-action policies that both of them have backed throughout long careers as college administrators."
"Public Clamor Puts Focus on 'Clusters' in Cancer Research" (9/21/98) The future of cancer epidemiology research is "cancer mapping" -- a last ditch effort by the junk science crowd to link environmental exposures to cancer. Cancer mapping is based on a classic junk science trick called the "Texas Sharpshooter" methodology.
"Pfiesteria May Affect Vision" (9/21/98) This Associated Press article omits mentioning a recent contradictory study that resulted in the reassignment of the researchers to less desirable duty.
"Study: Some skin cancers may increase future risk" (9/21/98) Look for this weak association to be dismantled when the study is published.
'Creative' local public health work? (9/20/98) Success in public health apparently has more to do with building bureaucracy than improving public health.
"Butter Said As Deadly As Cigarettes" (9/20/98) These New Zealand reseachers appear to be evidence that the brain disease scrapie may be communciated from sheep to humans.
Associated Mess (9/20/98) Check out this Associated Press article on China banning leaded gasoline. The article says "smog is blamed for tens of thousands of premature deaths a year" and "... auto emissions also play a part." Perhaps. But banning leaded gasoline will not reduce the smog problem.
Meryl Streep: Actress, not scientist (9/20/98) The St. Petersburg Times (9/18/98) quotes Actress Meryl Streep as saying "I think women look in the long-term, especially after we have children. We start wondering what's going to happen in 20 years. In terms of the pesticide issue, that's something that impacts slowly in the atmosphere and the topsoil, the run-off into our ground waters, the bigger life cycle. Women understand this." Pesticides and the atmosphere? Run-off into ground water? The bigger lifecycle? Huh?
Cow study stinks to pol's rival (9/20/98) "Call it Cowgate."
Surgeon General David Satcher: An old sheep? (9/19/98) Surgeon General David Satcher claims that "nearly half of the over 2.1 million deaths occurring in the U.S. each year are linked to unhealthy behaviors." I wonder if Satcher ever read the children's story Charlotte's Web? In the last chapter of the book, an old sheep says to Templeton, the corpulent rat, "You would live longer, if you ate less." Templeton sneers back "Who wants to live forever. I am naturally a heavy eater and I get untold satisfaction from the pleasures of the feast." He then patted his stomach, grinned at the sheep and went to lie down. As Jacob Sullum has pointed out, we should have the freedom to choose pleasure over longevity.
"Story ignored tobacco researcher's earlier studies" (9/19/98) "The public deserves to be exposed to all of the research data, not just that which meets a predetermined political agenda."
"Climate experts seek long-term view: Report urges national program for 'the generations to come'" (9/19/98) MIT oceanographer Carl Wunsch says "No one has the job of worrying about problems 20 years out." Aren't today's problems challenging enough for Wunsch?
"Life expectancy falls in Europe" (9/18/98) WHO claims that Europe's health is deteriorating for the first time in 50 years. But it's not as bad as it sounds. This is the first time the eastern European countries have been included in the statistics.
"Working hours and heart attack" (9/18/98) An argument for the 40 hour work week?
"Curricula on smoking subpoenaed: Big Arizona districts complain as tobacco firms pursue evidence" (9/18/98) "Tobacco attorneys are seeking the materials as they assemble a legal defense against the state's tobacco lawsuit. The suit, filed by Attorney General Grant Woods in 1996, claims that cigarettemakers misled the public about the hazards of smoking for decades and hooked thousands of youngsters."
"Revolt brews against EPA: Agency's civil rights policies squelch plant, threaten another; States plan lawsuits" (9/18/98) "The Environmental Protection Agency's policy linking pollution in minority communities with civil rights violations claimed its most visible national victim Thursday."
"Nuclear Plant Owners Ordered to Pay Pa. Cancer Victims" (9/18/98) A jury awards $36.5 million without evidence. There was no proof that cancer victims had been exposed to enough radiation to increase cancer risk. There was no proof that the cancers were anything other than chance occurrences. Plaintiff lawyers were able to make a big deal over the fact that 351 out of 1,895 people in Apollo, PA had some type of cancer. But half of U.S. men and 40 percent of U.S. women can expect to get cancer over the course of their lifetimes. Outrageous!
"Gore's environmental half-truths" (9/18/98) "When Vice President Gore recently declared that this year is the hottest in the past 400 years and that this increased heat was caused by mankind, there were a number of things that he failed to mention."
"Ford asks state appeals court to reduce award in Bronco trial" (9/18/98) The defendants claim the plaintiffs were allowed to use "junk science."
Chelation as 'junk science' (9/18/98) The Wyoming Board of Medicine should sanction a Gillette [Wyoming] physician whose reliance on "junk science" led her to misdiagnose patients, according to board attorney Don Riske.
Science advisors slam EPA air pollution monitoring (9/18/98) The EPA Science Advisory Board said computer models that are supposed to predict future emissions of particulate matter are seriously flawed. Recent, real-world downward trends measured by monitors conflict with model predictions of higher levels or smaller decreases in PM. The SAB said the models must be improved before EPA moves ahead with its assessment of the costs and benefits of air regulatory programs between 1990 and 2010, now being undertaken by EPA. [Source: Daily Environment Report, September 18, 1998.]
WHO claim contradicted by own study (9/18/98) Reuters reports (9/17) that WHO director-general Gro Harlem Brundtland called smoking the "biggest global health threat" and called for a total advertising ban. She said "By the year 2010 tobacco is going to be the biggest disease burden globally." But this statement is contradicted by WHO's recent World Health Report 1998. That report points out that of the 52.2 million deaths in 1997, one-third were associated with infectious and parasitic disease. In contrast, only 1.1 million were lung cancers. The report also said that among the "most disturbing" findings was that 20 million people per year die before age 50; 10 million of these are under age 5 -- deaths unlikely related to smoking. Brundtland's comments are an example of WHO's misplaced priorities.
"British Petroleum Sets Goal of 10% Cut in 'Greenhouse' Gases" (9/18/98) Let's help BP reduce emissions even more. Boycott BP and buy gasoline from someone else!
"Logging Protester Killed by Tree" (9/18/98) No comment.
"Secondhand lies" (9/18/98) A smashing letter-to-the-editor of the Detroit News from our own Anne Fennell.
"Scientists in Britain Say Sky May Be Shrinking; Outer Atmosphere Has Fallen 5 Miles" (9/18/98) AAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
"Putting public interest before party's interest; More Republicans must oppose the GOP's stealth attack on the environment" (9/18/98) This Los Angeles Times op-ed basically says that U.S. Senators who disagree with Defenders of Wildlife thinking are anti-environment. E-mail your comments to the Los Angeles Times.
"Can we survive a toxic world?" (9/18/98) Based on this Boston Globe column, I think a better question is 'Can we survive toxic paranoia?' E-mail your comments to the Boston Globe.
"Utah Climate Center" (9/18/98) "Any signals of global warming in Utah 'have been lost in the noise of other temperature fluctuations...It's hard to find any real evidence here because temperatures here have always bounced up and down.'"
"Climate treaty a very cheap insurance policy for U.S." (9/18/98) This Houston Chronicle op-ed says "The vast majority (about 2,000 to 5) of independent scientists think climate-change threats are real and require immediate action." The authors (one from the Union of Concernced Scientists) must not have heard about the petition with 18,000 scientist signatures against the Kyoto Treaty. Let's educate the Houston Chronicle.
"Professor predicts uncertain future for nuclear power" (9/18/98) "The administration has a really interesting struggle...The struggle is between those who hate nuclear and those who dislike nuclear but really want emissions controls."
Caligula suggests scientists become mentors (9/18/98) Nature (9/17/98) reports that President Caligula has suggested that every scientist on a federal grant should be a mentor to guide minorities, women and disabled people into careers in science and technology. The announcement was made last week at a ceremony to present the 1998 Presidential Awards for Execllence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. Caligula told awardees that he "couldn't think of a better subject" than scientific mentoring for him to address "during this process that I'm going through." He doesn't think that he was Monica's mentor, does he?
Cigarette Smoke Exposure and Hearing Loss -- Letters to the editor (9/17/98) Last June, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study reporting that smoking was associated with hearing loss. Among the study's many shortcomings, the most fatal was the finding that secondhand smoke was associated with greater hearing loss than smoking -- an odd finding given that smokers are also exposed to their own secondhand smoke! So here are the letters to the editor -- they're about as sharp as the original study.
Caligula issues order on recycling; Price no object (9/16/98) Possibly reacting to the Starr report being printed on virgin paper, President Caligula issued an executive order (No. 13101, September 14, 1998) requiring the federal government -- the nation's largest purchaser of paper -- to buy and use only recycled printing and writing paper. Caligula said this action would save up to 500,000 trees per year and curb greenhouse gas emissions. Under the order, federal agencies can no longer use price, availability or quality as reasons for not using recycled paper.
John Glenn claims the NCI botched the fallout study (9/16/98) The National Cancer Institute has botched a lot more than this non-problem -- like the unproductive $30 billion spent on the "war on cancer." Isn't it time yet for Glenn to blast off?
"Boundaries of 'Gulf War Syndrome' Widen; Study Finds Symptoms Among Soldiers Who Weren't There; Cause Still a Mystery" (9/16/98) "Some observers think that Gulf War syndrome represents the usual health problems in the population that have been magnified by widespread attention to a 'mystery' illness."
"Radon in Drinking Water Constitutes Small Health Risk" (9/15/98) "Radon in household water supplies increases people's overall exposure to the gas, but waterborne radon poses few risks to human health, says a new report by a committee of the National Research Council." Will this kill the EPA's efforts to compel municipal drinking water systems to spend billions annually to reduce radon levels in drinking water? Click here for the report.
The National Cancer Institute in Wonderland? (9/15/98) After announcing the results last March, the National Cancer Institute finally got around to publishing the actual study it touts as showing tamoxifen prevents breast cancer. But there's a twist. The study says "prevention" doesn't mean "prevention;" it means "a reduction in the incidence of breast cancer over the period of the study [only 5 years]... 'prevention' does not necessarily imply that the initiation of breast cancers has been prevented or that tumors have been permanently eliminated." So why use the term? Is this merely bureaucratic spin from a failed agency? This reminds me of Alice in Wonderland where Humpty-Dumpty says, "When I say a word, it means what I choose it to mean - nothing more, nothing less."
Farm animals and childhood brain cancer (9/15/98) In her never-ending quest to associate potential hazards with brain cancer, Susan Preston-Martin reports the following exposures (percentage increase) associated with childhood brain cancer: mother's exposure during index pregnancy to pigs (280 percent); to horses (120 percent); child's exposure to pigs (200 percent); and mother's prenatal exposure to pigs (300 percent). No other animals exposures were reported to be "consistently related to childhood brain tumors." I haven't seen the study (just the abstract), but the study doesn't sound like it reflects favorably on modern epidemiology. [Source: Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention 7, 797-802, September 1998.]
EPA to appeal secondhand smoke decision (9/15/98) EPA administrator Carol Browner announced today that the agency will appeal the recent North Carolina district court decision vacating much of agency's risk assessment for secondhand smoke.
"The search is on" (9/15/98) The Richmond Times-Dispatch editorializes on endocrine disrupters.
World Health Report 1998 (9/15/98) Bad news for Paul Ehrlich and his fellow doomsayers. The World Health Organization reports good news: "The 21st century offers a bright vision of better health for all. It holds the prospect not merely of longer life, but superior quality of life, with less disability and disease. As the new millennium approaches, the global population has never had a healthier outlook."
"The great health hoax" (9/15/98) A great article by Robert Matthews: "Many scientific 'breakthroughs' are nothing but mirages based on flawed research. They result in wasted taxes, false claims for drugs and damaging health scares."
"In Nurses' Lives, a Treasure Trove of Health Data" (9/15/98) The New York Times profiles the perpetual junk science machine known as the Nurses Health Study. Despite the article's self-serving statements from the Harvard scientists who make a mint in federal grant money off this data, studies based on the Nurses Health Study have two major drawbacks: (1) the data is not verified for accuracy; and (2) the data is not collected to test specific hypotheses -- so studies usually result from data dredging. As is often the case with the Nurses Health Study, these are fatal flaws when weak statistical results are reported. E-mail your comments to the New York Times.
EU may require carbon dioxide labeling (9/15/98) To help reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the European Commission has proposed legislation requiring fuel economy labeling on automobiles sold in the EU. Labeling would include fuel consumption rate as well as the amount of carbon dioxide emitted. [Source: Daily Environment Report, September 14, 1998]. Since the legislation would require labeling in promotion material, will BMW change its slogan from the "Ultimate Driving Machine" to the "Ultimate Green Machine"?
Food safety for $49? (9/15/98) September is National Food Safety Month. So Consulting Nutrional Services, the largest foodservice consulting agency on the West Coast, is offering consumers the CNS Professional Food Safety Kit at a "special" mail order price of $49 this month. What do you get for $49? Mainly a thermometer for testing refrigerator temps. How this constitutes a "food safety kit" is beyond me. While refrigerators should be operated at proper temerpatures, the "kit" certainly doesn't help ensure: meat is cooked to the right temperature, food is properly washed, or food preparation surfaces are clean. Perhaps they should rename this kit the "CNS Professional Global Warming Kit?" [Source: PR Newswire, September 15, 1998.]
EPA report shows drinking water is safe (9/14/98) According to the EPA report 1996 National Public Water System Annual Compliance Report and Update on Implementation of the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments, 86 percent of all U.S. citizens are served by water systems with no reported violations of health standards. The vast majority of violations (87 percent) involved monitoring and reporting, not health standards.
Heads up: "MADD House" (9/14/98) In the September 28, 1998 edition of the National Review, nationally syndicated columnist Eric Peters asks the question: "Is Mothers Against Drunk Driving out of control?"
"The big cooling off: New thermometer site should lower the highs" (9/14/98) "The National Weather Service has its thermometer on a roof where the sun hits and makes it too hot."
"The Week That Was September 7-13, 1998" (9/14/98) The weekly update from The Science & Environmental Policy Project.
"Report criticizes eco ed" (9/13/98) "Chicken Little is alive and well in grade-school textbooks, and he's doing more to prejudice U.S. students than inform them, claims a report released last week by a Denver think tank."
"U.S. Plans Rules to Curb Livestock Waste Pollution: Livestock Waste to Be Regulated" (9/14/98) This Washington Post article says that Pfiesteria has caused human health problems. But just last month a North Carolina Medical Journal study concluded that Despite misleading information presented to the public, no physician practicing in North Carolina has reported a North Carolina case of human illness plausibly attributable to [Pfiesteria]." That politically incorrect study got the two N.C. Department of Health physician-authors transferred to less desirable duties. Send your comments to the Washington Post.
"New look at causes of global warming" (9/14/98) Will the Pew (Phew? P.U.?) Charitable Trusts ask Eileen Claussen for its $50 million back?
"Hawking defends tests on animals" (9/14/98) "I think the fuss over the use of animals in medical research is ridiculous."
"Actions Are Needed To Promote Research Sharing" (9/14/98) A call for greater sharing of research data from the National Academy of Sciences, National Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Engineering. The accompanying brochure even cites the problem of the secret science involved in last year's air quality standards debate.
"A low-profile miracle" (9/13/98) The editors of the Seattle Times hit the nail on the head. E-mail your compliments to the Seattle Times.
"Study: The benefits of drinking tea" (9/13/98) If you're relying on tea to prevent cancer, I've got some terrific swamp land to sell you.
Global warming activist nominated for Energy post (9/12/98) Electricity Daily (9/14/98) reports the White House will nominate Office of Management and Budget official T.J. Glauthier to be deputy secretary of energy. From 1990 to 1993, Glauthier was the director of energy and climate change for the World Wildlife Fund, where he worked on the global warming agreement signed at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
Animal rights bomber convicted (9/12/98) The Associated Press reports (9/11/98) that Douglas Ellerman, a 20 year-old who pleaded guilty to the March 11, 1997 bombing and arson at the Fur Breeders cooperative in Sandy, Utah, will be sentenced to seven years in prison. Ellerman claimed he was a member of the Animal Liberation Front, an outlaw animal rights' organization. Ellerman was also a "Straight Edger" -- a movement whose members swear of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, casual sex, meat and leather -- but not explosives!
"Taking care of toxics" (9/12/98) The editors of the San Francisco Chronicle are blinded by misinformation about chemicals in calling for the dredging of San Francisco Bay. Even if the chemicals on the bottom of the Bay were dangerous, dredging would just make the situation worse. E-mail your comments to the San Francisco Chronicle.
"Greens corrupt science" (9/12/98) "The environmental industry, led by Vice President Al Gore, has decided that good science and facts should not stand in the way of their faith-based conclusion that certain human behaviors, like driving, building homes and recreating, must be stopped to save Mother Earth."
"Blowing the whistle on EPA" (9/12/98) "Top Clinton administration environmental officials apparently haven't gotten the message to stop harassing a senior government scientist."
Philip Stott on global warming (9/11/98) Here's Philip Stott's letter-to-the-editor of the Los Angeles Times responding to this editorial.
"The Paradox of Lead Poisoning Prevention" (9/11/98) This Science article says "The preponderance of studies demonstrate that low-level lead exposure [greater than 10 micrograms/deciliter] has serious deleterious and irreversible effects on brain function..." The statement is patently absurd. Most of us grew up in a time when blood lead levels were not considered to be dangerous until they exceeded 60 micrograms/deciliter). The references cited include those from the University of Pittsburgh's Herb Needleman and his cronies. Needleman was investigated for scientific misconduct for his lead studies. University and federal investigators essentially described his work as fraud. I'm sure the only reason he wasn't convicted of scientific misconduct is because lead is more politically incorrect than scientific misconduct. At the very least, Needleman's work cannot serve as credible scientific reference. E-mail your comments to the Science.
"Airborne Particulate Matter" (9/11/98) This Science editorial appropriately questions the sense behind a single national PM 2.5 air quality standard. But the editorial doesn't go far enough. It omits questioning the thinness of the science used by EPA to justify the need for any PM 2.5 standard. E-mail your thoughts to the Science.
"Possibility of BSE in sheep causes alarm" (9/11/98) Like the Energizer Bunny, mad cow disease just keep on going...
"Trends in smoking during pregnancy in England, 1992-7: quota sampling surveys" (9/11/98) The most remarkable thing about this report is the authors' claim that they had no conflict of interest. The report also states "This research was funded by the Department of Health as part of an ongoing contract with the Health Education Authority to contribute towards reducing the prevalence of smoking." No conflict there?
"I don't care about the lying, but I'm appalled at the behavior" (9/11/98) That's how the Washington Post quotes Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala at yesterday's meeting where President Clinton apologized to his Cabinet for the Monica Lewinsky mess. Clinton reportedly rebuked her and said if her logic prevailed in 1960, Richard Nixon would have been elected President instead of John Kennedy. This says a lot about the Clinton administration -- i.e., lying is acceptable conduct and the ends justify the means. Both have been primary tactics of the Clinton Administration on issues ranging from global warming to tobacco.
"Gore Announces New Data Showing Warmest August on Record" (9/11/98) Certainly this year has been pretty hot for staunch defenders of Bill Clinton. Gore says "How much more evidence do we need that global warming is real and here to stay?" Apparently, next-to-nothing is sufficient for the Veep.
Koop runs amok with numbers (9/11/98) This Atlanta Journal and Constitution article quotes C. Everett Koop as saying that by the year 2025 close to 500 million people worldwide will have died from a tobacco related disease, a rate of one death every 1.7 seconds. But such fantastic statistics depend on the assumption that if you smoke and you die then your death is "smoking-related" -- an assumption that is obviously flawed. E-mail your thoughts to the Atlanta Journal and Constitution.
"Politics corrupt science" (9/11/98) "It is strangely fascinating that so many things attempted by government end up with an outcome opposite to the one intended."
"Report says dioxin polluting San Francisco Bay" (9/11/98) Hysteria from the activist group Communities for a Better Environment.
"Implant issue giving good science day in court" (9/11/98) "Science finally appears to have trumped emotion in the bizarre lawyer-driven controversy about the safety of silicone gel breast implants."
Lobbying over science: Goldman calls for activism against chemicals (9/11/98) Speaking before an audience of women scientists and women's health advocates, EPA assistant administrator Lynn Goldman urged them to monitor and participate in several emerging chemicals policy issues; including endocrine disrupters, pesticide residues in food and community "right-to-know." Goldman said many crucial issues would not have garnered enough political support without specific-issue advocacy groups. [Source: Daily Environment Report (September 11, 1998).] But if Goldman really had the facts on her side and the need for action was manifest, she wouldn't have to plead for specific-issue activism.
CDC working on ways to detect metabolites of plasticizers (9/11/98) This effort is being led by the well-known anti-chemical activist who leads CDC's National Center for Environmental Health. The goal is to use these detection tests as part of epidemiology studies, such as analyzing the blood of newborns who have birth defects. [Source: Daily Environment Report (September 11, 1998).]
NIEHS to hold "town meetings" (9/11/98) National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences director Ken Olden says NIEHS will hold "town meetings" across the U.S. The goal is to design research programs to address environmental health concerns raised by the public. I'm going to attend and say that I'm worried about the presence of boogie men in the environment. [Source: Daily Environment Report (September 11, 1998).]
Simple diet change in cattle could control E. coli risk, study shows (9/10/98) Interesting results that may improve food safety and won't require a new bureaucracy.
CDC unveils $200 million plan to fight emerging diseases (9/10/98) A case of scientist workfare in the ever-expanding bureaucracy? And why does CDC need to research "mad cow" disease, anyway? Isn't there enough ongoing "mad cow" research that's going nowhere?
Controversial new rules over animal experiments in India (9/10/98) New rules governing animal experiments in India have been developed by a committee headed by Maneka Gandhi, minister for welfare and an "ardent animal activist." [Source: Nature, September 10, 1998.] According to the new rules, animals cannot be acquired and experiments cannot be conducted without the approval of Gandhi's committee. Indian scientists are fuming and want the legislation reversed.
A European CDC? (9/10/98) A group of international scientists will be meeting in France this week to advocate the creation of a European equivalent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Source: Nature, September 10, 1998.] European scientists are in favor of such a move -- it means more grant money for them. But political support for a centralized public health agency is missing. Individual countries don't want their national health systems scrutinized by a supranational body.
Medical expenditures attributable to smoking (9/10/98) This study seems to assume that nonsmokers never die... they just fade away.
"Scientists Say U.S. Forests are Dying" (9/10/98) While I doubt that air pollution is killing trees, I know that trees were murdered to print this book.
"Understanding breast cancer" (9/10/98) In this Seattle Times "Special Health Report," writer Marc Ramirez cites pesticides as a risk factor for breast cancer. I have no idea what scientific studies he's referring to. Recent studies have debunked the myth that DDT was associated with breast cancer. I don't think "understanding breast cancer" includes misinformation. Send your comments to the Seattle Times.
Global warming 'til the end? (9/10/98) As President Clinton's political life passes before his eyes, global warming remains a primary concern. In remarks to Florida Democrats yesterday, Clinton said "As you have seen in Florida, climate change and the warming of the planet is real." I'll bet it's real hot in his part of the world!
New fen-phen study: Jury still out on adverse effects (9/9/98) The New England Journal of Medicine reports three small studies on the diet drugs fenfluramine, dexfenfluramine and phentermine. The studies report a wide range of positive associations between the drugs and heart valve effects. But as one study concluded "The clinical significance and natural history of this type of valvular disease are currently unknown." So perhaps some smoke, but no fire yet. Click here for Wall Street Journal coverage.
Standardize the Junkman? (9/9/98) At a July 29, 1998 workshop on epidemiology and public policy sponsored by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, EPA assistant administrator Lynn Goldman (with whom I once served on an American Bar Association panel) "criticized persons who make a career out of writing op-ed pieces that point out well-known weaknesses in epidemiologic studies... Goldman called for applying a standard to how persons criticize studies." [Source: Epidemiology Monitor (Aug/Sep 1998).] Shouldn't we develop standards for DOING studies before we develop standards for criticizing studies?
Brill's Content hits Gina Kolata (9/9/98) The October issue of Brill's Content contains an article titled "Flawed Science at the Times." This is the latest in a series of attempts to intimidate and harass Gina Kolata and other Times' journalists (i.e., Keith Schneider and Jane E. Brody) who dare report on science rather than promote the agendas of the extreme environmental activists.
"Scientific terrorism" (9/9/98) "Science terrorism takes the following form. You isolate a small quantity of statistic, attach to it a lengthy fuse of language, and leave it in a public place for a politician to trip over. More disreputable practitioners then telephone a message to the press demanding a large sum of money for "more research", to be deposited in a named university."
"Food supply seen as factor in eagle reproduction" (9/9/98) I can't believe my eyes! An article that attributes bird reproductive problems to something other than DDT!
"It is a problem humans are not likely to solve; Global warming's vagaries" (9/9/98) The Boston Globe takes a break from a steady stream of global warming hype. Congratulate the Boston Globe.
"Beefing up food safety" (9/9/98) The Hartford Courant editorializes that we need to improve our food safety system, but uses bogus statistics in doing so. E-mail your comments to the Hartford Courant.
"Consumers Union Report/ Growers Can Produce Safer Food, Current Insecticide Use on Food Kids Eat Most 'Troubling'" (9/9/98) An upcoming report from the Naderites about pesticides.
"Koop, Kessler blast Congress on tobacco" (9/9/98) I don't understand what they're unhappy about. Just last week Koop and Kessler garnered $200 million that formerly belonged to tobacco industry shareholders.
"Common pesticide clobbers amphibians" (9/9/98) I haven't seen the study this Science News article refers to but I'm always suspicious of the "one-study wonder." Click here to send comments to Science News.
"EPA issues guidance on ozone, particulates rules" (9/9/98) A Chemical and Engineering News (9/7/98) article on implementation of last year's air quality rules.
"Government concentrates" (9/9/98) In case you weren't around last week, here is the Chemical and Engineering News (9/7/98) summary of government activities on nuclear fallout, Gulf War illness and endocrine disrupters.
"Deconstructing food allergies" (9/9/98) A Chemical and Engineering News (9/7/98) article on what makes an allergen an allergen and can foods be modified to avoid the problem.
"Secondhand smoke and cancer: Where's the proof?" (9/8/98) Scientists from the Chest Diseases Unit of the London Health Sciences Centre (London, Ont.) write in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that "Many studies involving secondhand smoke are not convincing, and answers about whether it causes lung cancer are far from established. Unfortunately, it has become customary to torture the data until they confess. We need more science, less hyperbole and less enthusiasm for unproven points of view."
"Agent Orange in Vietnam, 30 Years Later" (9/8/98) This New York Times editorial acknowledges that there is scant evidence to link Agent Orange with health problems in the Vietnamese population. But the editorial still recommends we spend money to study this possibility anyway. Tell the New York Times it can waste its own money on likely-to-be-fruitless research, not the taxpayers'.
"Global warming wildcard" (9/8/98) The Associated Press reports "If there is a strong sunspot-climate relationship, the notion that global warming is caused primarily by a buildup of carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse" gases could wipe out as dramatically as the surfers."
"UN Says Ozone Hole Above Antarctic" (9/8/98) The World Meteorological Organization says the "ozone hole" over the South Pole will be as large as ever. But if CFCs really caused the hole, how does this report jive with the WMO's claim?
"World-Leader Britain Halves Tobacco Death Toll" (9/8/98) Richard Peto's anti-tobacco rhetoric gets the better of him. He says "Smoking still kills about half of those who do it." But only a single-digit percentage of smokers get lung cancer. The smoking-heart disease link is specious. The most fanciful U.S. statistic -- 400,000 smoking-related deaths per year -- is from a population of about 90 million current and former U.S. smokers. Peto also says "It was British scientists in the 1950s who first demonstrated that tobacco was a killer." Actually, the Nazis did the first case-control study on smoking and lung cancer in 1943. The only thing Peto got right is this: "What actually matters is what journalists think is real."
"Watching Global Warming" (9/8/98) This article in the Sarasota Herald Tribune says "The shrinkage of permafrost and Arctic and alpine glaciers in Alaska in recent years has been anything but glacial and reflects the impact of global warming in ways unmistakeable to scientists who study such matters." E-mail your comments to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
"Government changes disability policy for GI smokers" (9/8/98) Hypocrisy at twelve o'clock high! As the U.S. government contemplates suing tobacco companies to recover "smoking-related" healthcare costs, veterans are denied disability payments because they "smoked on government time"-- even though the U.S. government supplied them with the cigarettes. Somehow, combat soldiers are "responsible" for their smoking, but the rest of us aren't? E-mail your comments to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Cancer Prevention, Cancer Risk (9/8/98) This Washington Post editorial has it right that the tamoxifen issue has become a mess. But the Post missed the National Cancer Institute's culpability. NCI has been touting tamoxifen based on a prematurely-ended clinical trial. The drug has not been shown to be effective in preventing breast cancer. But the NCI is desperate for a victory in the "war on cancer." As John Bailar pointed out last year in the New England Journal of Medicine, after 30 years and billions of dollars, the NCI has little to show in terms of progress. The tamoxifen "breakthrough" is great public relations for NCI, especially as it relates to breast cancer -- the cause of the second-most politically powerful health research lobby (after AIDS). Run that one past the Washington Post editors.
"View from the lab: Why trees must get the chop" (9/8/98) "Something must be done to stop the forests before it is too late. The message that the British Association should pass on to the ecology movement is clear: Save the Planet! Chop Down a Tree!"
Secondhand smoke and SIDS (Updated 9/7/98, original posted on 9/5/98) Click here for news of a study reportedly linking secondhand smoke with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Click here for the study abstract. Click here for why this study is junk science. Update: An earlier study by different researchers from the same institute reported "no significant difference in the percardial concentration of nicotine and cotinine between SIDS and non-SIDS victims." [Pediatr Pathol Lab Med 17(1):83-97 1997 Jan-Feb.] Interestingly, this earlier study was not even cited in the new study. Does studying secondhand smoke cause selective memory?
Availability of the Interagency Draft Report on Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) (9/6/98) The public has been invited to comment on this draft report.
"High birth rates could doom environment" (9/6/98) In this News and Observer (Raleigh, NC) article, a U.N. Population Fund official says high birth rates will lead to more terrorism. Send your comments to the News and Observer.
Global warming and the Bangladesh monsoon? (9/6/98) Today's New York Times front page reports about monsoon-related flooding in Bangladesh. "[Local officials]... wonder whether global warming is causing both the sea level to rise and snows to melt in greater volume in the Himalayas, feeding the rivers that rush into Bangladesh."
"Raptor revival" (9/4/98) This Atlanta Journal and Constitution "ScienceWatch" article erroneously blames the demise of the peregrine falcon on DDT. E-mail your comments to the Atlanta Journal and Constitution.
"Ventura County perspective: As summers get hotter will beaches survive?; Policy changes are needed to deal with global changes in climate" (9/6/98) Save the citizens of Ventura County from this Los Angeles Times op-ed authored by an "environmental sociologist." Is that what passes for scientific thinking in California nowadays? E-mail your comments to the Los Angeles Times.
"Windfall in Tobacco Lawsuits: Trial Lawyers' Huge Fees Going in Part to Finance Democrats" (9/6/98) No wonder 90 percent of Senate Democrats voted against an amendment to the tobacco bill (R.I.P.) to cap lawyer fees at $ 4,000 per hour.
Hunting, not DDT, depleted falcon populations (9/5/98) Here's Duane Johnson's letter-to-the-editor of the Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne, IN). Thanks, Duane!
Los Angeles Times editorial: "Kyoto's Faded Dream" (9/5/98) More like a faded nightmare. E-mail your comments to the Los Angeles Times.
Election year politics and the Hudson River PCB Controversy (9/5/98) New York Gov. George Pataki and a candidate for New York state attorney general try to make political hay of the Hudson River cleanup. Tell the Buffalo News (Fax: 716-856-5150) and Times-Union (Albany, NY) that transparent election year politics won't improve the environment.
Los Angeles amends secondhand smoke lawsuit to include dioxin exposure (9/5/98) City attorney Jim Hahn says dioxins are "among the most toxic chemicals known to mankind." Perhaps, if you are a guinea pig. But dioxins have not been shown to cause harm to humans -- other than acute exposures that cause severe acne.
"Group wants [Minnesota] state agency to study global warming or set up task force" (9/5/98) Even if Minnesota was warming at "twice the rate of the worldwide average," who in their right mind would complain?
"Residents split over whether TVA should spray aquatic weeds" (9/5/98) The TVA Clean Water Association tries to scare local residents about the Tennessee Valley Authority's use of aquatic weed killer. The Association implies weed killers are related to a claimed 49 percent increase in cancer deaths in surrounding counties.
"When science meets politics" (9/4/98) Roy Spencer writes "Even though I am a global warming skeptic, if global warming is proven to be a dire threat, I hope I am the one who proves it. But in today's politically correct climate, I can guarantee you no one will ever receive a Nobel Prize for proving it was not a threat."
"Growing number of children with cancer shows we need to limit the use of pesticides" (9/4/98) This op-ed from the Buffalo News is long on hysteria but short on facts. The scariest part is that the author is a public school teacher. You can't e-mail, but you can fax your comments to the Buffalo News at 716-856-5150.
"In reconsidering pesticides, EPA may overestimate risks" (9/4/98) "The EPA is in danger of falling into the old trap of exaggerating potential human risks from exposure to pesticides instead of using appropriate scientific data."
"Peregrine falcons on rise" (9/4/98) This Indianpolis News editorial erroneously blames the demise of the peregrine falcon on DDT. E-mail your comments to the Indianapolis News.
"The Gulf War Fog" (9/4/98) Washington Post editors say taxpayers should take care of Gulf War vets health problems even though no evidence backs up the existence of Gulf War Syndrome.
`Mad Cow' Update: "Surgical specimens to be tested for new variant CJD" (9/3/98) "The recent discovery of prion protein in the appendix removed from a patient in Torbay, who showed no clinical signs of nvCJD at the time of the operation in 1995 but who developed symptoms eight months later, raises the possibility of diagnosing patients before they are aware that they are infected."
"Ecological studies are a poor means of testing aetiological hypotheses" (9/3/98) But this didn't stop EPA from basing the new air quality standards on ecologic studies.
Hot dog! (9/3/98) A Journal of the National Cancer Institute study (9/2/98) reports the observed increase in childhood brain cancer during the period 1973-1994 may be best explained by changes in detection/reporting brain tumors during the 1980s. This is bad news for EPA administrator Carol Browner and her effort to convince Americans that children's cancer is caused by chemicals in the environment. It is also bad news for scientist Susan Preston-Martin who has been trying to link kids' brain cancer with consumption of cured meats.
Did the Masschusetts cigarette tax hike reduce teen smoking? (9/3/98) A new study in the American Journal of Public Health (September 1998) indicates that a $0.25 cigarette tax imposed in Massachusetts had no impact on teen smoking rates. The only statistically significant result reported was that the tax hike caused low-income teens to consider switching to cheaper brands. In true junk science form, though, the authors conclude "these results suggest that taxes on cigarettes, even if they are countered by tobacco industry price wars, serve to promote smoking reduction among... teenagers, especially from low-income households." Sure they do.
"How hurricanes may add to global warming" (9/3/98) While hurricanes may add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, it is quite a leap to claim this has measurable impact on climate. E-mail your comments to the Christian Science Monitor.
More bogus food safety statistics (9/3/98) In the Dayton Daily News' "Health Briefs," columnist Kevin Lamb parrots discredited food safety statistics. E-mail your comments to the Dayton Daily News and to Kevin Lamb.
"Trading Tropical Storm Earl for Exxon" (9/3/98) Greenwire (9/2) reports that "Green Party members in the European Parliament recently proposed that storms and hurricanes be named after Global Climate Coalition members like Ford, General Motors and Exxon, who deny that carbon emissions contribute to climate change. The Greens said the new names would change headlines to read, for example: "Exxon Kills 20 in Miami." Parliament rejected the measure." [Source: San Francisco Chronicle, August 31, 2, 1998.] What if we attribute malaria deaths to the banning of DDT? The headlines could read "Rachel Carson and the Environmental Defense Fund kill 2 million worldwide annually."
"Fears of Terrorism, Chemicals Clash as EPA Considers Web Site" (9/3/98) Under the guise of public safety, EPA administrator Carol Browner wants to put instructions for blowing up U.S. chemical facilities online. E-mail your thoughts to Administrator Browner.
FDA gives green light to tamoxifen for breast cancer prevention (9/3/98) I support fully the rights of individuals to do whatever they want to their bodies -- including taking unproven drugs. Based on the current state of science, there are only two beneficiaries from women taking tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer -- tamoxifen's manufacturer (Zeneca Pharmaceuticals) and its PR agency (the National Cancer Institute).
"Mr. Gore's Wild Warming Theory" (9/3/98) "Vice President Al Gore is no Willard Scott. After all, Scott found his true vocation as the nation's most famous weatherman after a stint as Bozo the Clown. The vice president is engaged in a similar though possibly opposite career trajectory."
"Cooling off on global warming" (9/3/98) A recap of the recent hearings on global warming before the House Committee on Small Business.
"DOT Rules That Law Protects Passengers Allergic to Goobers" (9/3/98) "Even though the agency couldn't find any cases of medical incidents resulting from airplane peanuts..."
"Researchers raise concerns about Viagra's role in health problems" (9/3/98) The Viagra trainwreck gets closer: "The potential health dangers of the anti-impotence drug Viagra, especially for men with heart problems, may be more extensive than warnings indicate, said researchers in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine."
"Government seeks female crash-test dummies" (9/3/98) I've got some suggestions. How about Devra Lee Davis and Theo Colburn for starters?
"Pfiesteria spares the Chesapeake Bay this year" (9/3/98) Does this mean that agricultural run-off was just a one-year phenomenon? Hmmm......
"World population to grow by 80 million a year, U.N. says" (9/3/98) "Despite the spread of birth control, world population will go on growing by about 80 million a year well into the next decade, the United Nations Population Fund predicted." I'm for fewer people, too. But let's start with the folks at the U.N. Population Fund.
"Mass Testing Opposed for Cancer From 1950s Fallout" (9/2/98) "The two panels concluded that the National Cancer Institute's estimate of 11,000 to 212,000 thyroid cancers caused by nuclear fallout is probably too high."
"Biotechnology and food" (9/2/98) "Food biotechnology's stakeholders (and others) will need to apply constant pressure to ensure that science will not be trampled by politics."
"Gore clobbers farmers" (9/2/98) "The alternative laid out by the Kyoto treaty is so awful, for both people and the environment, that we should require a very high degree of proof from Mr. Gore and his global-warming activists."
Earth to Bill (9/2/98) Here's an excerpt from President Clinton's remarks at Moscow State University yesterday: "One thing we need to do more together is prove that you can grow the economy without destroying the environment. A great man, looking at the condition of the environment, charged that humanity was a destroyer. He wrote, "Forests keep disappearing. Rivers dry up. Wildlife has become extinct. The climate is ruined. The land grows poorer and uglier every day." Chekhov wrote those words 100 years ago. Just imagine his reaction to the present environmental conditions, with toxic pollution ruining our air and water, and global warming threatening to aggravate flooding and drought and disease." Wake up, Mr. President. The ruble has turned to rubble. I'm sure the Russians care about global warming.
"Food production, population growth, and the environment" (9/1/98) This Science article is co-authored by Paul Ehrlich. Click here and here for some background on Ehrlich. Does Science have no standard for author credibility? E-mail your shock and horror to Science.
PM2.5 and Mortality in Long-term Prospective Cohort Studies: Cause-Effect or Statistical Associations? (9/1/98) Environmental Health Perspectives (September 1998) includes an article from John F. Gamble (Exxon Biomedical Sciences, Inc.) laying waste to the notion that PM2.5 has been linked scientifically with premature mortality.
Devra Lee Davis on breast cancer: Ready-fire-aim (9/1/98) Environmental Health Perspectives (September 1998) includes an article from my favorite hysteri-ette, Devra Lee Davis, who says we should follow the precautionary principle in the face of near-total uncertainty about the causes of breast cancer.
"The Week That Was August 24-30, 1998" (9/1/98) The weekly update from the Science & Environmental Policy Project.
Most Hanford "downwinder" claims dismissed (9/1/98) "What we had here was a lot of claims where ... credible evidence did not exist."
"Diesel gets new scrutiny" (9/1/98) This Dayton Daily News article omits mentioning the substantial scientific uncertainty surrounding the California Air Resources Board's decision to label diesel exhaust as cancer-causing. Click here for a recent quote from a National Cancer Institute scientist. E-mail your comments to the Dayton Daily News.
Koop, Kessler Kash-In (9/1/98) The Associated Press reports that former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and former FDA commissioner David Kessler will lead a new foundation for smoking cessation programs and tobacco control research called the Minnesota Partnership for Action Against Tobacco. The foundation will receive a cool $202 million from Minnesota's $6.1 billion settlement with the tobacco companies. Boy, do I feel stupid.
"Hot air vs. warm temperatures" (9/1/98) "...it turns out that Mr. Gore is really not talking about the globe's temperature after all, and the science he's peddling hasn't even been peer reviewed."
"Deep pockets, hot air" (9/1/98) "According to a budget analysis released by the Competititve Enterprise Institute earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency alone has handed out some $30 million in grants to promote fear of climate change."
"No conclusive evidence on cancer" (9/1/98) My letter-to-the-editor about PCBs in today's Bergen County Record.
"Panel Challenges Gulf War Syndrome" (9/1/98) "There is insufficient evidence at this time to prove or disprove that there was actual low-level exposure of any troops to chemical weapon nerve agents or that any of the health effects some veterans are experiencing were caused by such exposure."
Comments on this posting?
Click here to post a public comment on the Trash Talk Bulletin Board.
Click here to send a private comment to the Junkman.
Copyright © 1998 Steven J. Milloy. All rights reserved on original material. Material copyrighted by others is used either with permission or under a claim of "fair use." Site developed and hosted by WestLake Solutions, Inc.
Material presented on this home page constitutes opinion of Steven J. Milloy.