Tracking the politics of fear....  

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30 April, 2004


Interesting comment from a reader about Quiggin's unsubstantiated claim that the great majority of climate change sceptics are also creationists:

Wow is this guy off base! I have yet to meet a creationist (I used to share an office with one) that believed the world was older than a few thousand years (varies from 5000-50,000). Given that much of the climate data, such as the graph used, spans a far longer period, the size of the group of people who are A) Creationist and B) Believe in an Earth of over a 100,.000 years is so small a group they would probably fit in this guys bathroom.


Chinese farmers growing genetically modified rice produced larger crops, saved money on pesticides and were less likely to get sick from exposure to poison intended for insects. An analysis of dozens of farmers growing two strains of rice modified to resist insects showed they used much less pesticide than those using conventional rice. None of the farmers using only the genetically modified (GM) crop was sickened by exposure to pesticides.

In contrast, 8.3 percent of farmers in the study growing only conventional rice reported pesticide-related illness in 2002, while 3.0 percent of them did so in 2003, researchers report in Friday's issue of the journal Science. "Small and poor farm households benefit from adopting GM rice by both higher crop yields and reduced use of pesticides, which also contributes to the improved health of farmers," said Carl Pray, an agriculture, food and resource economics professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Pray and researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of California at Davis studied farmers using two rice strains that had been modified in different ways to make the plants resistant to rice stem borer and leaf roller. In 2002, researchers studied 40 farmers using modified rice on all or part of their farms and 37 farmers using only conventional varieties of rice. In 2003, they looked at 69 farmers who were using modified rice on all or part of their farms and 32 who were growing conventional varieties. The farmers were not paid for their effort and were not assisted by technicians. They made their own decisions about using pesticides by studying their fields. On average, farmers working with genetically modified rice used pesticides once a year while those with conventional varieties applied pesticides 3.7 times annually. The researchers found that the total amount of pesticides used was eight times to 10 times more for the conventional farmers than those with the genetically modified crop, saving the farmers with the new strains a lot of money. Yield for the insect-resistant rice averaged 14,033 pounds per hectare compared to 13,563 pounds per hectare for the conventional crop. A hectare is about 2 1/2 acres.

The researchers said they included pesticide-related illness in their study because it is common in developing countries. They asked farm family members if they experienced any headaches, nausea, skin irritation, digestive discomfort or other health problems during or after spraying pesticides on their farms, and whether they had visited a doctor, gone home to recover or taken other actions to deal with the symptoms. If they had, it was recorded as a case of pesticide-induced illness.

Although China has commercialized cotton modified to produce a natural pesticide against the bollworm, it has not developed any genetically modified food crops for the commercial market, the researchers said. In the United States, genetically modified soybeans, corn and canola are in use as well as squash at some times of year and papaya from Hawaii, according to the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

This Chinese study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Chinese Academy of Science.



"Peak oil" is the name for the ever-popular but constantly-disproved theory that our oil supply has "peaked" and will hence soon run out. The following post is lifted whole from the libertarian blog The arguments are familiar to anyone who knows anything about economics but there are regrettably few of those and this post does access some nice graphs:

"People are getting worked up about peak oil theory. I'll reply to some of the deluge of mail in the next day or two but first, three things:

(1) Lawnorder, the blogger at Daily Kos who I wrote about in "Oil and Instinct," has written a follow-up posting ("Peak Oil Myth and the Easter Island ecological disaster") in which she corrects a previous (and unintentional) misrepresentation of my perspective on peak oil theory, while still disagreeing with my perspective. I guess this shows that it actually is possible to have a polite blog debate.

As to Lawnorder's new arguments: I'll repeat that societies that include significant levels of self-ownership and private property, along with a low-friction exchange system ("money") tend to have a "price mechanism" that creates incentives for producing, conserving and replacing scarce and desired commodities. Unless the economies of Easter Island and North Korea included this price mechanism they're not counterexamples. And North Koreans didn't starve because of a shortage of national natural resources. There may even tend to be an inverse relationship between natural resources and wealth-creation; see for example The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria:

"Wealth in natural resources hinders both political modernization and economic growth. Two Harvard economists, Jeffrey D. Sachs and Andrew M. Warner, looked at ninety-seven developing countries over two decades (1971-89) and found that natural endowments were strongly correlated with economic failure. On average the richer a country was in mineral, agricultural, and fuel deposits, the slower its economy grew -- think of Saudi Arabia or Nigeria. Countries with almost no resources -- such as those in East Asia -- grew the fastest. Those with some resources -- as in western Europe -- grew at rates between these two extremes. There are a few exceptions: Chile, Malaysia, and the United States are all resource rich yet have developed economically and politically. But the basic rule holds up strikingly well."

(2) Reader Philip Brydon (letter below) has brought to my attention an article by geologist David Deming, "Are We Running Out of Oil?," that makes some of the same arguments that I've made but that contains information that I didn't know. Everyone interested in the subject should read this short and readable article.

(3) Republicans, Democrats and peak oil theorists seem to agree that "dependence on foreign oil" hurts Americans. As in Bush's: "Our dependence on foreign energy is like a foreign tax on the American Dream -- the tax our citizens pay every day in higher gas prices, higher cost to heat and cool their homes -- a tax on jobs. Worst of all, it's a tax increasing every year."

The Theory of Comparative Advantage is hard to understand but how hard is it to understand that oil companies import oil into the USA because foreign oil is cheaper than domestic? If oil companies depended on only domestic suppliers (all things being equal) oil would be more expensive for American consumers, so depending on foreign suppliers is like a tax rebate."


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


29 April, 2004


For some reason, the old theory that oil is a "fossil" fuel is still generally accepted in the Western world (though not in Russia). I guess it helps scare us about oil running out to think is the product of some relatively small-scale process. American physicist Thomas Gold and others, on the other hand, say that oil comes up from deep in the earth as the result of purely physical processes and is not the product of biological activity at all. Louis Hissink notes below a recent find that requires some squirming from the fossil theorists. Another difficulty for the fossil freaks that I have noted previously (on 17th) is here

"The small Norwegian oil company DNO finished drilling the Nabrajah-2 in Yemen's Block 43, at a TD of 8,350 ft. The well confirmed oil in the Qishn interval, which is the main reservoir. However, well logs indicated that at there was hydrocarbon further downhole, at TD, in the lower basement. A subsequent production test in the basement interval flowed 3,000 boe per day (15.2 MMcfgd and 313 bpd condensate). Nabrajah-2 is the first of two appraisals to determine the size of the Nabrajah oil discovery reported earlier this year. The second appraisal, drilling in the western area of Tasour field in Block 32, spudded on September 2. When the Nabrajah-2 test is combined with the results from earlier Nabrajah-1 basement tests, there are indications that the hydrocarbon discovery could be of significant size. DNO is the operator of both Block 43 (56.67%) and Block 32 (38.95%)

Basement is generally considered to be composed of igneous and metamorphic rock and in some cases, other types of very low intergranular-porosity rock, with very different properties from the overlying rock. It is a loosely defined term that usually means the surface below which there is no current exploration interest, since there are no sediments at or below basement. However, hydrocarbons are sometimes found in basement, possibly due to downward expulsion or some other mechanism. Oil is produced from basement in both Block 14 operated by Nexen, some 25 mi from the Nabrajah structure, and Block 10 (operated by Total).

Oil in Basement? Shock Horror, but not to the scientifically literate - after all oil CANNOT be produced from dead fish, dinosaurs or vegetable matter for thermodynamic reasons, so this oil being discovered in the basement is NOT misplaced oil from sediments further up in the sequence, but oil being continuously produced in the upper mantle, known as the Russian-Ukrainian Abiotic Oil theory here"


Huber, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute's Center for Legal Policy, specializes in technology. He also holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering from MIT and a law degree from Harvard. Mills holds a BS degree in physics from Queens University and was a consultant to the White House Science Office. They argue that our society thinks there is an energy "problem." The authors see energy as a "solution," and thus inject fresh air and counter-conventional thinking into a debate dominated by buzzwords and slogans such as "energy efficiency" and "don't be fuelish." Huber and Mills state, "Everything we know about 'running out of energy' isn't just muddled and wrong; it's the exact opposite of the truth. The more energy we capture and put to use, the more readily we will capture still more."

The authors advance seven "heresies" that are in direct juxtaposition to how our society has come to view energy. For example, "The more efficient our technology, the more energy we consume." The more efficient technology the more people will do at a faster pace, creating more demand for energy.

The authors also explain why the federal government raised corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards and required that automobile manufactures build fuel-efficient vehicles to meet the new mileage standards. The reasoning by Congress and the regulators held that fuel-efficient vehicles reduce energy consumption. Thirty years of experience with CAFE standards prove the opposite. Andrew Kleit, an Energy Economics professor at Pennsylvania State University, wrote that the "CAFE standard increases affect only new vehicles and do nothing to reduce driving. In fact, they tend to encourage increased driving as costs per mile driven decline."

(CAFE standards, which require smaller and lighter cars, have become the norm. But for the last three decades it has been known that heavier vehicles inflict damage on the lighter, presumably more energy-efficient models.) Of course, materials are being developed that are lighter weight and strong enough to prevent serious accidents.

To "waste" energy horrifies many people, but not Huber and Mills, who argue, "It is only by throwing most of the energy away that we can put what's left to productive use." Converting energy into fuel is compared to a Ponzi scheme, in which useless energy is discarded while higher grade energy is refined and converted into power.

At the turn of the 20th century, consumers deemed the incandescent lamp to be valuable because it provided heat and light, and offered more light than a candle or gas lamp. Similarly, a pickup truck requires more gallons of gas than a car but conserves more energy when transporting heavy tools and construction equipment. Bear in mind that only 2% of the oil extracted from beneath the ocean will be developed to propel your pickup. On the other hand, it sure beats using a horse and wagon.

The authors (acknowledging the work of Century French engineer Sadi Carnot) hold "[t]o structure, organize, move and increase order -- of anything, anywhere -- you have to add high grade energy at one end, and then discard some fraction of it are enormous and have proven true when placing a log on a fire or boosting a rocket into outer space." Concentrated fuel is required to propel a car because the heaviest objects are the engine and the fuel tank, not the passengers. Politicians and environmental groups long have advocated the research and development tax and government mandates to produce energy-efficient cars run on electricity.

Huber and Mills make clear that more energy-efficient vehicles are being manufactured, but not because of mandates issued by the states or the federal government or the European Union or the United Nations. Silicon chips are being used to replace conventional brakes with electro-hydraulic brakes and belt-driven radiator cooling fans with silicon-controlled electric cooling. Car engines eventually will become smaller and be more fuel-efficient because of the silicon chip.

The authors foresee the manufacture of electric cars that indeed are efficient and economical. "It will take heavy-duty wiring and substantial silicon drives and electric motors to propel a hybrid-electric SUV down a highway at 70 mph - but they'll be far smaller than the steel structures in today's power train. Cars will shed many hundreds of pounds, and every key aspect of performance will improve considerably." It remains to be seen what kind of energy best will power car motors, but in the view of Huber and Mills the best thing government policymakers can do is to do nothing. Let the auto manufacturers and consumers -- not regulators -- decide what works best.

Another heretical belief cited by Huber and Mills holds that there remains a supply of fuel to be drilled and mined. That belief may be taken for granted by many people but there is certainly not a shortage of self-proclaimed experts warning of energy depletion, particularly oil. Believe it or not, our State Department warned Americans in 1951 that global oil reserves would be depleted within thirteen years. We experienced an energy crisis in the 1970s and during the last few months but no one truly can say there is not a drop of oil left....

Their book is not written for the layman, but their complex message is one that realistic thinkers, policymakers and journalists should consider carefully and disseminate its message in simple language. We've seen the mileage the Left has gotten from such wrong-minded thinkers as Ehrlich. It's time we start pumping up our volume to counter their nonsense. The ideas presented in this book can provide the jolt of sound reasoning we need.

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


28 April, 2004


In political circles, it is common knowledge that Democrats at all levels rely on generous financial support from plaintiffs' lawyers. Indeed, during the last election, the American Association of Trial Lawyers (ATLA) gave more than $2.1 million to Democrats. And contributions to Democrats at all levels from individual members of the plaintiffs' bar probably totaled more than $100 million. So when ATLA recently threatened to postpone and curtail its fundraising efforts for Democrats, it sent a clear and powerful signal: ATLA is scared to death. What has the nation's leading assemblage of ambulance chasers quaking in their wing tips? It's the proposal now in the Senate to create a trust fund, paid for by manufacturers and insurers, not taxpayers, to consider and settle asbestos-related claims.

As we've argued before, such a fund will ensure swift justice for real asbestos victims and provide certainty for companies now facing an endless number of claims and the infinite payouts that accompany them. Most important, the asbestos trust fund will remove claims from the courts where plaintiffs' lawyers have created a cash cow for themselves that yields buckets of money in legal fees. And that's why the ATLA and its members are now in high freak.

The trial lawyers' obvious fear, manifested in their highly unusual public threat, ought to send an equally clear signal to Senators who are still pondering whether or not to support the trust fund proposal. ATLA's threat makes it painfully obvious that the plaintiffs' bar will resort to even the most drastic measures to preserve the current system and its never-ending gravy train. Of course, that means that more companies, many of which have nothing to do with asbestos, will be driven into bankruptcy, costing thousands of jobs and putting retirees' pension and 401(k) benefits at risk. Meanwhile, trial lawyers will continue clogging the courts with frivolous ? and sometimes fraudulent ? asbestos claims.

The trial lawyers can't bear the thought that their jackpot of asbestos cash might disappear, even though the fund will ensure that real victims are compensated fairly and quickly for their illnesses without having to hand over a third or more of their settlement to a lawyer. To be sure, real problems remain with the asbestos trust fund proposal. For example, the current draft provides that if the fund runs out of cash, claims would be returned to the courts. Some businesses and insurance companies are concerned that the fund is too large. Some conservatives argue that creating the fund will amount to a massive expansion of government and a federal grab of state judicial authority. And at this point, it is Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee who are holding up the legislation because they are not yet sufficiently comfortable with the trust fund plan.

These Senators ought to take comfort in ATLA's fear. Surely a proposal that elicits unprecedented public anxiety from the trial lawyers is one that legal reformers can get behind. And those interested in partisan politics ought to consider that with their asbestos cash spigot turned off, ATLA and its members will have less money available to fund their pet political projects. No matter what the rationale, it's time for the Senate to fix the remaining problems with the bill and move it forward. Doing nothing simply isn't an option. Allowing asbestos cases to continue to clog our courts denies justice to real victims and threatens our economy. Meanwhile, only the lawyers get rich. Of course, that's exactly what they want.



Post lifted whole from Matter of Opinion:

Now, considering where I work, I know a lot of climate change skeptics. So this nuanced side note by John Quiggin blindsided me.

"Fun Factoid: As I’ll argue in a bit more detail later on, the great majority of climate change sceptics, globally speaking, are also creationists".

Oh, you'd better argue that later on. He leaves us cold with that gem of scholarship. As far as I can tell, the clearest link between creationists and climate change skeptics is that they are despised by the left.

The strongest argument that skeptics have - in my mind - is that the increase in temperature over the last hundred years is within the natural variation. The reason we argue this is because we can see enormous changes over the geological record of temperature, well before the invention of the SUV.

For instance, have a look at this extraordinary graph which appears to show that the earth is plummeting rapidly into an ice age, rather than the opposite:

(Available in a very entertaining powerpoint presentation here - ignore the Russian and scroll down to the text “The Kyoto Protocol: an Assault on Economic Growth, Environment, Public Safety, Science and Human Civilization". Or just click on the PPT. 3+ megs)

I tried to follow the source on this a little while ago, but gave up when I read the abstract. My final conclusion was "science is hard".

I can't possibly intrepret the extremely technical nature of modern science. And this is why I'm not about to ignore the scientists who dissent from the scientific "consensus" on climate change. What we need to do is emphasize that this is a debate, not ignore - or in Quiggin's case, vilify - those who disagree.


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


27 April, 2004


This story was uncritically reported in ALL the mainstream newspapers that I know of. Below is a demolition of it. See the original report here for the graphics mentioned

Last week on Earth Day, AP newswire led with a real scare story: "Study Shows Antarctic Glaciers Shrinking." In doing so, the press, yet again, predictably distorted a global warming story.

By "Antarctica" they actually meant the Antarctic Peninsula, which comprises about 2% of the continent. It's warming there and has been for decades. But every scientist (or for that matter, everyone who has read Michael Crichton's "State of Fear") knows that the temperature averaged over the entire continent has been declining for decades.

The underlying science behind the AP story was published in the April 22, 2005 issue of Science magazine, under the more appropriate (and accurate) title, "Retreating Glacier Fronts on the Antarctic Peninsula over the Past Half-Century." A research team led by Alison Cook of the British Antarctic Survey carefully measured the historical position of 244 glaciers as determined from a 60-year collection of images including aerial photographs and satellite pictures. By comparing the position of glacier termini over time, the researchers were able to determine the timing and speed of glacial changes.

The results presented in Science weren't even based on the entire Peninsula, but rather the northern portion. While a more comprehensive continent-wide investigation of coastal glacier changes is underway, only the results from the Peninsula were written up.

Figure 1 shows the temperature trends from 1966-2000 over Antarctica as reported in a study by Peter Doran and colleagues and published in Nature magazine in 2002. The region that encompasses all 244 of the glaciers in the Science study is highlighted. While it is clear the there has been warming in the localized region around where the Antarctic Peninsula glaciers are located, it is also clear that the majority of the rest of the continent has been cooling. Just how much has been cooling was also calculated by Doran (Figure 2), and shows that about 2/3rds of the continent outside of the Peninsula has been cooling over the past 35 years or so.

Furthermore, studies have been made investigating the overall status of sea ice around Antarctica. NASA announced the results of their study in 2002 with a press release headlined "Satellites Show Overall Increases in Antarctic Sea Ice Cover." While there are regional variations from this trend, including a decline in sea ice around the Antarctic Peninsula, the area of sea ice around much of the remainder of the continental margin has been increasing, at least over the past 25 years. Obviously, a story proclaiming "Antarctic Sea Ice Rapidly Diminishing" and focusing on the Peninsula region would paint an incomplete and unfair picture of the actual circumstances there.

The fact that a report that glaciers are melting over one extremely small portion of Antarctica that is showing warming, while the rest of the continent is cooling, grabs not only newspaper headlines but finds its way without a regional perspective into a prestigious publication like Science is troubling. If objectivity, rather than scariness were the purpose, Cook et al. would certainly have referenced Doran's work for background. Or perhaps the editors at Science could have asked for it?

The general cooling of Antarctica is highly scientifically significant because climate models run under increasing levels of greenhouse gases predict that the Antarctic continent as a whole, not just the Peninsula, should be rapidly warming. This is clearly a model failure and no amount of going on and on about the impact of warming in the Peninsula, is going to change that fact.

There's a 2004 book that details the repetitive nature of global warming exaggeration, called Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media. If it were still being written, the sad story of Earth Day, 2005, would have surely merited a chapter.

Even simpler: If the facts don't fit, make them up

"An email from Donna Martinez alerted me to a press release sent out yesterday by a group called The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, calling on people to show up and protest George Bush's Earth Day visit to the Smoky Mountain National Park.

In the release the SACE stated that “last year, ozone levels in the Smokies rivaled those in major cities such as Atlanta and Los Angeles.” I immediately asked one of our trusted interns to call the contact number on the release to ask where the data for this claim came from. After apparently being hung up on the first time he called back and politely noted that he somehow got disconnected. He then asked his question once again and once again was hung up on.

So I decided to do a little fact checking myself. In 2004 for 9 ozone monitors in the North Carolina Mountains there was an average of .22 high ozone days per monitor. This covers everything from Boon to Cherokee, including the city of Asheville. The average number of high ozone days per monitor in the LA SMSA was 15 and for the Atlanta SMSA it was 3. This means that Atlanta area ozone was 13 times greater than the NC mountains and LA area ozone was 68 times the NC mountains.

Yep, ozone in the Smokies rivaled LA and Atlanta last year".



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


26 April, 2004


A recent email from Helen Mahar (

When I was eight, my parents moved from the city to a farm. In my new school I clearly remember being told that farmers had a moral duty to clear the land to grow food to feed a hungry world. It felt good to know that my parents had a valued place in the wider scheme of things. Of course we were just being fed the official government line, to take home to our parents in case they had not got the message. To clear, develop, and increase production. Most farmers, encouraged by tax concessions, got the message. Those who hesitated to clear everything in sight were thought lazy.

I married a farmer, and my children also went to a country school. But the message from the teachers had changed. Farmers had over-cleared, and were to blame for massive environmental degradation. For my children and their friends, their parents were social undesirables. No pride in their parents’ occupation for them.

We got the message, continually. But when you boiled it down, farmers were being blamed for respecting, trusting and listening, to past advisers. And for failing to foresee the environmental consequences those past advisers had not foreseen. Farmers needed to admit their faults and mend their ways - by listening respectfully to a new generation of experts, authorities and advisers.

Many of my children’s generation have left the farms, in part, seeking occupations with higher social esteem. For those who remain, a plethora of conservation laws have reduced property rights and legal rights (right of appeal), making them second class citizens. The effect of these laws has been to shift the cost of community conservation expectations onto landowners.

From these second class citizens a first class conservation effort is now expected, at their own cost (and without encouraging tax concessions). This is not a sustainable arrangement; economically, socially, or environmentally. Guess who will be blamed for the current bunch of experts and authorities’ failure to foresee the consequences of their policies and conduct? Australian conservation laws are founded on blame-shift and cost-shift.


(Post lifted whole from Carpe Bonum)

There is some interesting news about childhood Leukemia. But parents should read the reports very carefully and consult experienced professionals before taking any actions.

Researchers in the UK have completed the world's largest childhood cancer study and have made these findings:

* Leukemia is caused by the combination of two factors: a genetic defect which occurs in one out of 20 children, and an infection which triggers the cancer.
* Leukemia is not caused by power lines or electromagnetic fields
* It is not caused by radiation from nuclear power plants
* Exposure to radon gas does not increase childhood cancer risk
* Leukemia is not caused by vitamin K injections

And very interesting is that it seems to be possible to break the cancer cycle by exposing very young infants to infections. In theory, this strengthens their immune systems and prevents subsequent infections from triggering the cancer. But infections after three months of age do not have the same effect and can even increase the Leukemia risk.

So what should parents do as a result of these reports?

First of all, like any popular media report on scientific findings, there is a lot of room for misinterpretation and inaccuracy. For example, both media reports linked below strongly imply that sending children to day care centers can help save them from Leukemia. This may be true, but only before three months of age. Parents who want to decide for themselves must be sure to read as much of the source material as possible and must not rely solely on popular media reports.

Next, it is very important to let the scientific process play out. Other epidemiologists will look at these studies, their methodologies, data, conclusions and the logic used. They will conduct their own studies to try to duplicate the results. One such study is the Northern California Childhood Leukemia Study. If these conclusions are valid, a consensus will form.

This has not happened yet.

Finally, the public must beware of junk science in all its forms, especially regarding children's health. How many of these to you recognize? How many are true?

* Mercury-based preservatives in vaccines cause autism.
* Power lines cause cancer.
* Cell phones cause brain cancer.
* Oats prevent cancer.
* Chicken-pox parties are a good idea.

Don't get me wrong. This is an important result and could be a huge advance. But let's not get too excited too soon. As Professor Pat Buffler, School of Public Health, University of California Berkeley comments, the real news is:

For the first time in the long history of research into the causes of childhood leukemia we now have the biological and epidemiological foundations to begin a consideration of preventive measures.

So do your own research, read deeply, and check with a professional before you rush off to day care!


* A very brief overview of the UK Childhood Cancer Study
* Press Release from the Institute of Cancer Research

Hat tip to Joe Gandelman, The Moderate Voice, who points to articles in The Independent and Reuters.

Also covering:

* Outside the Beltway: "Hobbsean choice"
* HealthLawProf Blog: "Good news"
* Childcare by Judy Lyden: "Kids need to get dirty"

UPDATE: Betsy Newmark says, "Just do what I do - have a filthy house." Thanks for the link, and welcome Betsy's page readers! Also, welcome Mudville Gazette open post readers!


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


25 April, 2004

Email just received from Keith Burgess-Jackson: "I grew up in Michigan. It rarely snowed after my birthday, which is 7 April. You guessed it: It's snowing like mad in Michigan. It must be that global warming the liberals are always warning us about."


How absurd that the world's biggest industrial country has been forced to look overseas for much of the refinery capacity it needs!

Arizona regulators have granted an air permit for a proposed oil refinery that could be the first US plant of its kind built since the 1970s, the company planning to build the plant said Thursday. The permit, which sets emissions limits, was granted by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. The permit was first applied for in 1999. It removes a major obstacle for the proposed $2.5 billion, 150,000 barrels-per-day refinery. Arizona, one of the fastest growing states, has seen gasoline price spikes several times in recent summers, particularly in 2003. It currently relies on California refineries for its fuel supply.

The plant, which would be built by Phoenix-based Arizona Clean Fuels on desert land 100 miles southwest of Phoenix, still must obtain several more permits. "We will now focus on securing the remaining permit necessary in order to begin construction and ultimately begin serving the growing demand for fuel products in the Southwest," Ian Calkins, a spokesman for Arizona Clean Fuels, said in a statement.

The refinery would also need large amounts of water in a dry state and the proposed site may harbor significant Native American archeological remains, according to the science magazine Nature. Arizona Clean Fuels plans supply the plant with Mexican crude oil which would be transported in a yet-to-be-built pipeline to Arizona.



A new MTV series features Hollywood celebrities praising the developing world's primitive lifestyles as earth-friendly -- despite those poor nations' high infant mortality rates and short life expectancies. The eco-tourism show, called "Trippin'," premiered on March 28 and was heavily promoted in the runup to Earth Day. The show encourages environmental awareness and lauds traditional tribal lifestyles, which lack running water, electricity and other basic infrastructure. The MTV series features actress Cameron Diaz and a rotating crew of "her close, personal friends [who] think globally and act globally." They tour developing nations, including Nepal, Bhutan, Tanzania, Honduras and visit remote villages in Chile.

Actress Drew Barrymore, who reportedly earns $15 million a film, told MTV viewers in one episode that after spending time in a primitive, electricity-free Chilean village, "I aspire to be like them more." Barrymore, apparently enthralled by the lack of a modern sanitary facilities, gleefully bragged, "I took a poo in the woods hunched over like an animal. It was awesome." The 32-year-old Diaz, who earns a reported $20-million a movie, boasted that the cow-dung slathered walls of a Nepalese village hut were "beautiful" and "inspiring," and she called the primitive practice of "pounding mud" with sticks to construct a building foundation "the coolest thing." Diaz also criticized the lifestyles of many Americans after visiting an indigenous village in Chile. "It's kinda gotten out of hand how much convenience we think we need," she said.

Despite the celebrities' praise for the primitive life, "Trippin'" shows them flying on multiple airplanes and chartering at least two helicopters and one boat to reach remote locations over the course of the first four episodes. The series also showed the celebrities being chauffeured to the airport in a full-size Chevy SUV -- despite several on-screen, anti-SUV factoids noting how environmentally unfriendly SUVs are. Diaz, who starred in "Charlie's Angel's" and "There's Something About Mary," travels the world "in the name of the Mother Earth" with a host of different celebrities including Barrymore, actresses Eva Mendez and Jessica Alba, rapper Redman, and rocker Kid Rock.

Environmental groups such as the World Wildlife Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council also are featured in the series, to provide commentary and analysis on environmental issues.

The first four episodes of the MTV series made scant mention of the difficult economic and social conditions of the countries visited. Bhutan, a country that received particular praise from Diaz for its environmental policies, has one of the highest infant mortality rates (103 infant deaths per 1,000 live births) and lowest life expectancies (54 years) in the world. By comparison, the United States, which Diaz described as having too much "convenience," has an infant mortality rate of only 6.6 per 1000 and an average life expectancy of more than 77 years.....

Diaz lauded the Nepalese villagers' practice of slathering cow dung as a form of wall plaster used to coat the walls: "Nothing goes to waste. It is beautiful. It is inspiring," she said. "It is incredible to see how in tune these people are with the environment; they are completely self-sufficient, Diaz added. Daily routines of the local citizenry are featured on the series, including pounding mud with large sticks for hours -- for the foundation of a new monastery in Bhutan. "I am going to go pound some mud, baby! Mmm," Diaz said to the cameras. "It was the coolest thing to be a part of," she added. As video of mud-pounding filled the TV screen, Diaz explained, "They (Nepalese villagers) continue to live in harmony with the world around them. It's a way of living very different than what we are used to. It seems to work."

But MTV viewers were not informed that Nepal has an infant mortality rate of nearly 69 deaths per 1,000 live births, about ten times the infant death rate in the U.S. Nor did they hear that life expectancy in Nepal is 59 years.....

A critic of the environmental movement condemned the new MTV series. "There's something perverse and immoral when multi-millionaire Hollywood celebrities head off on junkets in the jungle - and then preach to us lesser mortals about the joys of the simple life, and how we should protect the Earth, conserve energy, prevent global warming, and help the poorest people on our planet continue 'enjoying' their poverty, malnutrition and premature death," Paul Dreissen, author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power/Black Death told Cybercast News Service. "Life in these developing countries is still nasty, brutish and short. And that there is a reason our parents and grandparents worked so hard to create modern homes and hospitals and technologies, so they could leave behind the unsafe water, dung fires, pollution, rotted teeth, infant mortality and life expectancies half or ours," said Driessen.

"This entire MTV series totally glosses over the hardships and premature death that is right before their eyes. Even mentioning these facts would obviously get in the way of their ideological message, and their determination to turn [MTV viewers] into little ventriloquist's dummies for the sustainable development movement," Driessen explained.

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


24 April, 2004


In 1955, then Soviet Premier, Nikita Krushchev ordered April 22nd be designated a day to celebrate Communism. In 1970, it was chosen to be Earth Day by Gaylord Nelson, one of the founders of the event. Those founders had 365 days from which to choose. They chose Lenin's birthday.

When Communism was imposed on Russia in 1917, the first thing it did was to outlaw the ownership of private property. Under Communism, the State owns all property and all natural resources. In recent years in the United States, the Clinton-Gore Administration has declared millions of acres of mineral and oil-rich areas to be national monuments. The U.S.government already owns more than forty percent of the nation's landmass. Individual States own property as well, bringing the total closer to fifty percent. There are measures in Congress right now that would provide a dedicated stream of funding to insure that States will purchase still more property to put off limits to any use or development. The keystone of Capitalism is the ownership of private property. The Founding Fathers felt so strongly about this the Fifth Amendment protects this right, stating that no private property shall be taken for public use without just compensation. Across the nation, however, the government has effectively "taken" private property through such devices as the Endangered Species Act that denies the use of any property on which a listed species is found. Owners of such properties effectively lose them to government control. Wetlands legislation has a similar effect on owners of private property, denying them the use of their property if it is designated a wetland. These are environmental laws.

The similarities between the philosophy and programs advocated by the Greens and totalitarian forms of government are numerous. What better way to undermine the economy of this nation than to deny its citizens the benefits of its natural resources? Even access and use of national parks is being increasingly restricted.

Today, fully a third of all federal laws and regulations are devoted to the so-called "protection of the environment." They impact property ownership and the use of all energy sources. Vast areas of the U.S., despite known, huge reserves of oil and coal, have been put off limits. Virtually no structure can be built without an environmental impact study being undertaken. Right now, there are Administration efforts to destroy dams providing hydroelectric power in the northwest, ostensibly to save salmon. In countless ways, so-called environmental laws impact our lives, even down to the amount of water one can use to flush a toilet!

Leading voices for environmental and related causes express views comparable to the Communist philosophy of total government control. In his book, "Earth in the Balance," Vice President Al Gore, Jr., has written that "Adopting a central organizing principle means embarking on an all-out effort to use every policy and program, every law and institution, every treaty and alliance, every tactic and strategy, every plan and course of action to use, in short, every means to halt the destruction of the environment." He has called for "a wrenching transformation of society" to achieve this goal of total centralized government control, the hallmark of the former Soviet system.

More here


I confess it took me a long time to realize that much of what passes for the environmental movement or environmentalism involves imposing restrictions that (1) destroy economic growth and (2) often destroys lives. A perfect example of both these Green objectives is the utterly vile efforts of the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) that have been directed of late against major financial investment companies such as Citicorp and Bank of America. Both ceded their lending decisions to RAN in 2004.

Their latest target has been J.P. Morgan whose CEO, William Harrison, has been under siege in his home in Greenwich, CT. As Steve Milloy of has noted, "RAN wants to dictate J.P. Morgan Chase's lending policies for the developing world, especially with regard to energy projects and logging. As an extremist group railing against oil, wood, and meat consumption, RAN wants to block lending to projects it claims may contribute to global warming or involve logging in `sensitive' areas."

One of my personal heroes, Niger Innis, the national spokesman for CORE, has said "RAN does not deserve a seat at the table of any bank, and certainly should never been given veto power." He criticized the World Bank, Citigroup, and Bank of America for having "shamefully compromised" their lending policies as the result of RAN's threats. An Ugandan, Diana Koymuhendo, asks, "What right do they have to tell poor people they must settle for whatever crumbs Rainforest Action tosses to them?"

Without an investment in the provision of energy in Third World nations, they are going to remain mired in poverty. Nothing happens in this world until you flip a switch and a light turns out, a water pump starts up, or anything else we associate with the modern world begins to function. Life without electricity condemns people to a life of poverty, disease, and premature death. Would you believe that, worldwide, two billion people still have no electricity? If RAN manages to intimidate J.P. Morgan, that condition will continue because it will elect not to support the changes needed to truly create a global economy. With other banks having already caved in to these outrageous demands, poor Third World countries will have nowhere to turn for financing. Which, of course, is RAN's agenda; for them they will all remain traditional, indigenous, and impoverished, requiring few if the Earth's "finite" resources, and keeping their populations in check through disease, malnutrition, and starvation.

That means 800 million people will be chronically undernourished with 14 million Africans facing starvation in southern Africa alone. More than 230 million children will continue to suffer from Vitamin A Deficiency and a half million of them go blind every year. Two million will continue to die from problems directly related to VAD.

None of this is necessary. Modern biotechnology can save lives while preserving wildlife and habitats. It would let farms grow more food on less land, but RAN and other Greens declared war on biotechnology years ago. They cry out that it requires widespread use of pesticides, but that is just another Green lie. Biotech crops can withstand insects and viruses without heavy use of pesticides. Some crops have been created to grow better in saline and nutrient-poor soils. Others can thrive despite severe droughts. Meanwhile, RAN and its allies spend $35 million a year battling the introduction of biotech crops....

There is something obscene to the opposition of Green organizations to anything that would improve the lives of the very least among us, the poor and the starving masses of the Third World, but that is their objective. Their concern is for wildlife or for forests that anyone knows can replenish themselves. Cutting down a tree does not mean another will not grow in its place, but not cutting down a tree often leaves people without ground on which to grow crops or an income from that tree when sold as lumber....

More here


Note how the "water-polluting gasoline additive" is immediately brought up without the slightest attempt to say HOW polluting or how dangerous the polluting is. I think we can guess why

"The House passed a long-awaited, much-disputed $8.1 billion energy bill Thursday, allowing for drilling in an Alaskan wildlife refuge and protections for producers of a water-polluting gasoline additive.... The Senate last year voted down a House energy bill that included plans to open Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, to oil drilling.

The bill also offered multibillion-dollar protections for companies that produce methyl tertiary butyl ether, or MTBE, a water-polluting additive in gasoline that helps it meet clean-air regulations. The new House bill includes both, though Democrats fought hard to have the provisions dropped. According to published reports, some Senate Democrats vowed to filibuster the bill if ANWR was included.

Platts echoed President Bush, who has repeatedly called for a broad energy package, in calling for a comprehensive plan focused on conservation and alternative energy. Like Bush, however, Platts admitted the bill would not curb high gasoline prices right away. "Getting an energy bill done will not change things overnight," he said. "But the longer we wait, the longer we won't get to a solution."

The White House promoted the energy plan despite some initial differences over tax breaks and incentives. The bill grants more than $8 billion in tax breaks to the energy industry over 10 years and calls for $2 billion more for deep-sea drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


23 April, 2004


A group of Greenie crooks just printed their own paper certificates and sold them to dupes

But it is the carbon credits, devised for the Kyoto Accord that could be described as the biggest scam of all time that leads to the Canada Free Press lead, "We've been had". The accord may have been engineered in Kyoto, Japan but it was manufactured in sunny Costa Rica. The blueprint can be found in a May 9, 1997 Earth Council media release, First Global Environment Commodity Goes to Market. It happened at Braulio Carillo National Park, Costa Rica and was launched by former U.S. President Bill Clinton. Clinton welcomed Costa Rica's launch of "the world's first formal program to curb global warming through an international market in greenhouse gas emission reductions".

"President Clinton's remarks followed an announcement by Costa Rican President Jose Maria Figueros that his country would be introducing Certifiable Tradable Offsets (CTOs TM) to the international market. Each issued CTO TM represents the halted or reduced emission into the atmosphere of one metric ton of carbon."

Like carnival hucksters, the Earth Council and friends were selling carbon credits that were the equivalent of thin air. Proceeds from CTO TM sales would help finance Costa Rica's further efforts to preserve and regenerate its tropical forests, with the specific intent of offsetting emissions from cars, industry and the burning of forests. According to the Earth Council media release, "a portion of future sales proceeds will also go towards the development of an "Earth Centre" in Costa Rica. A project of the Earth Council, the Earth Centre will be an environmental, education, science and entertainment facility envisioned as a "gateway" to Costa Rica's national parks."

How could this possibly be when the Earth Council took flight from Costa Rica? "The carbon certificates created by the Costa Rican government and U.S. companies provide a new way to finance these investments," President Clinton said. President Figueros saw the carbon certificate scheme as the creation of "the first tradable commodity of global benefit". The CTO TM program was introduced to the market through a strategic alliance between Costa Rica's government, the U.S-based Centre Financial Products Limited and the Earth Council. "To initiate the market today, Centre Financial made the first U.S. purchase of CTOs TM in the amount of 1,000 metre tons of carbon (equaling the average carbon emissions of 900 U.S. cars," stated the Earth Council media release. The CTO TM creators said their credibility would be ensured by "an independent certificate process being developed with technical assistance from the World Bank."

More here

London's 'zero emission' buses

I liked the post below -- lifted from The Commons

I just noticed today that Transport for London is testing fuel cell buses on a certain route (RV1 - Covent Garden to Tower Gateway). The buses visibly advertise "zero emissions" -- right above a tailpipe which is clearly emitting something...

This emission is water vapour, as stated on the TFL website:

The only emission from the fuel cell bus is water, which forms a vapour cloud as it leaves the exhaust and enters the atmosphere.

And we all know, water vapour is one of the most potent greenhouse gases. Perhaps someone should contact the UK's Advertising Standards Agency with regard to the false claims made on these buses...


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


22 April, 2004

Today is Lenin's birthday -- a.k.a. "EARTH DAY"

I put up a useful summary to mark the day yesterday.


The fact is, oil is still relatively inexpensive. By one measure tracked by Dow Jones, we are still far from matching an April 1980 spike in US oil prices. The $39.50 per barrel price that month exceeds $90 in today's dollars. We remain a long way from that, with oil easing below the $50 mark in trading Monday.

That's not to say that energy costs aren't hitting families and corporations in the pocketbook. Even as oil prices have softened in recent days, there's been new concern about energy dampening economic growth. But a broader view - looking at oil over a longer period and against other goods and services - puts the impact in a less dire perspective. "Gas is actually cheap right now," says Timothy McMahon, editor of "Up until a year ago, oil was at a historic low, and they were giving this stuff away. And so to go from $20 a barrel to $50 a barrel looks like a big increase in a small period of time. But if it were spread out over those 25 years, nobody would say a thing."

Even with the rising costs, economists say, energy still makes up a small percentage of a family's budget, about 4 percent. That's half what it was in the early 1980s.

Jeff Stepanik, for instance, says gas prices over $2 a gallon have not had any impact on his family's budget (or lack thereof). He is still tinkering around with motorcycles and his wife is still happily hitting the mall. "We don't live any differently than we did before," says the Houston account manager. "It's not like we're going without a meal because of gas prices." But he is considering a life with routinely higher gas prices - as witnessed by his family's most recent purchase.

Three weeks ago, Mr. Stepanik sold his wife's "gas-guzzling" Ford Expedition and bought a hybrid Nissan. "This vehicle made more financial sense, because we are not going to stop driving," he says. He estimates that gas prices would have to exceed $10 a gallon before he considers changing his driving patterns.

That's not an uncommon attitude in the United States. Even during the oil embargo of the 1970s, it took a while before consumers began buying smaller, more fuel-efficient cars or moving closer to where they worked.....

Michael Solomon, consumer behavior expert at Auburn University in Alabama, calls the frenzy over rising gas prices "a tempest in a teapot," considering the amount of money people spend on small indulgences. "The same people who are complaining about gas prices don't blink when they pay $3.50 for a latte," he says. "That's different somehow."

More here


Friday, the D.C. circuit court of appeals hears oral arguments in Commonwealth of Massachusetts et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Plaintiffs, who include the attorneys general (AGs) of 12 states, are suing the EPA for rejecting an October 1999 petition by the International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA) and several other environmental groups to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from motor vehicles. In effect, plaintiffs demand that EPA impose the Kyoto Protocol - a non-ratified treaty - on U.S. automakers. They hope via litigation not only to substitute their will for that of the people's elected representatives, but also to price and regulate millions of Americans out of the market for large, safe, high-performance vehicles.

Carbon dioxide is the inescapable combustion byproduct of gasoline and other carbon-based fuels. Larger, heavier vehicles use more fuel per mile driven, and consequently emit more grams of CO2 per mile. If plaintiffs prevail, EPA will have to require automakers to downsize and/or restrict production of SUVs, large passenger cars, and other high-CO2-emitting vehicles - the very vehicles that are Detroit's biggest sellers. So at a minimum, a victory for plaintiffs will restrict consumer choice and further erode the competitiveness of U.S. automakers.

Even more damaging is the precedent that the plaintiffs hope to set. If the court compels the EPA to classify CO2 as a regulated pollutant, it will unleash a torrent of copycat lawsuits. Future suits will demand that the EPA both curb CO2 emissions from other sectors and continually tighten the controls. Even though President Bush, significant congressional majorities, and most voters oppose the Kyoto treaty, the flood of litigation would establish a national energy-rationing system indistinguishable from Kyoto.

The good news is that plaintiffs are going to lose, because CO2 regulation is patently illegal under both the CAA and the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA).

To see why plaintiffs' suit is without merit, it suffices to ask two simple questions: Why was the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act, which seeks to cap CO2 emissions from all U.S. economic sectors, arguably the most controversial piece of legislation to come to a vote in the 108th Congress? And why is the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which would require more stringent CO2 emission reductions, arguably the most controversial treaty to be debated by U.S. policymakers in the past nine years?

The answer is that both Kyoto and McCain-Lieberman would fundamentally alter U.S. law and regulatory policy on the production and use of energy. The federal government has never regulated CO2 emissions - that is hardly surprising. Carbon dioxide is the intended combustion byproduct of the carbonaceous fuels - coal, oil, and natural gas - that supply roughly 85 percent of all the energy Americans use. The power to restrict CO2 emissions is literally the power to cripple U.S. productivity, competitiveness, and growth.

The Senate preemptively rejected Kyoto as too costly and unfair to the United States when, in July 1997, it passed the Byrd-Hagel resolution by a 95-0 vote. The Senate similarly rejected McCain-Lieberman by 55-43 on October 30, 2003. Yet the AGs and their allies claim that EPA has a mandatory duty to regulate CO2. Their lawsuit implies that Kyoto and McCain-Lieberman, in substance if not detail, are already the law of the land - a preposterous opinion. What the plaintiffs are really trying to do is usurp Congress's lawmaking power. They are attempting, through not-very-clever legalisms, to install an energy-rationing regime that Congress never approved.

More -- much more -- here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


21 April, 2004


Where can you make $2,000 a day, with no real effort? In San Mateo County, California. Before you start packing your bags to head there, you should know that the average homeowner in San Mateo County saw the value of his property increase by $2,000 a day over the past month. The median price of a single-family home in the county reached $896,000. But, if you don't already own a home in San Mateo County, you don't get the two grand a day.

Someone from outside California might think that people must be building a lot of new mansions in San Mateo County. But, in fact, there is very little building going on there because most of the county is off-limits to building. These bans on building are known by the more politically appealing name of "open space" laws. These housing bans are the reason for rising home prices.

As for mansions, there are very few of those in San Mateo County. There are some nice homes there and many very modest homes. They just cost the kind of money that people pay for mansions elsewhere across the country. Who can afford to live in such a place? Fewer people apparently. The population of the county declined by about 9,000 people over the past four years. Who's leaving -- and who is coming in? By and large, young adults who have not yet reached their peak earnings years are finding it harder to afford housing in San Mateo County and in other such counties up and down the peninsula from San Francisco to San Jose. So they are leaving.

Schools have had to be closed because there are not enough children. The number of children is declining because people young enough to have school children are increasingly unable to afford the sky-high housing prices in communities that ban the building of housing.

People who are sufficiently affluent can afford to move into places with severe restrictions on building. Those who bought their homes years ago, before these housing restrictions were enacted, are able to stay while the value of their homes rise. Among other things, this means that many young adults cannot afford to live near their parents, unless they actually live in their parents' home. This isolates the elderly from their children, which can be a growing problem as the infirmities of age set in and their contemporary friends die off.

None of this just happened. Nor is it a result of market forces. What has happened essentially is that those already inside the castle have pulled up the drawbridge, so that outsiders can't get in. Politically, this selfishness poses as idealism. Much of this exclusionary agenda is pushed by people who inherited great wealth and are using it to buy a sense of importance as deep thinkers and moral leaders protecting the environment. The foundations and movements they spearhead are driving working people out of areas dominated by limousine liberals, who are constantly proclaiming their concern for the poor, the children and minorities.

Meanwhile the poor, the children, and minorities are being increasingly forced out of the vast area of the San Francisco peninsula by astronomical housing prices and are moving out into California's interior valleys. But they are not safe there either. The same wealthy busybodies who have made it an ordeal for less affluent people to try to live on the San Francisco peninsula are now pursuing them out into the interior valleys, where the environmentalist foundations and movements are trying to get the same housing restrictions imposed.

This is not sadism -- at least not in intent. These are green activists buying an artificial significance for themselves that they would never have had as mere inheritors of fortunes earned by others. This is ultimately not about the environment but about egos. As T.S. Eliot said, more than fifty years ago: "Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm -- but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves."

From Sowell


Earth Day is nothing more than a propaganda tool used to scare the public. As evidence, CEI cites the following advances, many of which go well beyond the 30-yr. history of "Earth Day."

* There is no "scientific consensus" that global warming will cause damaging climate change. In fact, global average temperature is only about 0.6o higher than a century ago. Outlandish claims that our earth is warming at an extreme rate mischaracterize the scientific research by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the National Academy of Sciences. The world is not in severe danger from rising sea levels. Research from Nils-Axel Morner of Stockholm University demonstrates that current sea levels are within the range of sea level oscillation over the past 300 years. And extreme weather conditions have no provable link to Global warming. Research by German scientists have demonstrated that the devastating floods in central Europe in 2002 were quite normal. And don't blame climate on the growth of vector-borne diseases such as malaria. World experts agree that "other factors" are more important when it comes to the spread of diseases.

* Alarmists such as Paul Ehrlich made hysterical predictions 30-plus years ago about the world running out of food. However, worldwide, the amount of food produced per acre has doubled over the past 50 years. In the United States alone, more than three times the amount of people are fed on 33 percent less farmland than in 1900. In addition, death from famine dropped during the 20th century, despite the world's population quadrupling. Advances in agricultural technology and liberalization of global trade have had an impact on alleviating the food shortage. In recent years, one very important component of the food supply-fish, has come under attack by scare mongrels that tell us rising levels of mercury in fish are putting people at risk. In fact, according to data taken from the Smithsonian Institute, mercury levels found in fish are no higher today than they were 100 years ago.

* The on-going belief that using pesticides will cause cancer has never been proven and in fact, has led to the spread of serious health risks, including the West Nile Virus and malaria. Both diseases are controllable and have been drastically reduced in communities and countries that allow the spraying of DDT. In addition, credit pesticide use and artificial fertilizers for creating a worldwide boom in the production of food. The word "chemical" instilled fear in many people during the last century. However, according to a researcher, chlorine, used to disinfect drinking water, ranks right up there with the discovery of antibiotics as one of the major public health accomplishments of the 20th century.

* A popular environmental concern warns us that air quality is getting worse and is making us all sick. However, statistics show over the last 20 years, carbon monoxide levels have dropped 58 percent, despite an increase in vehicle miles traveled; ozone concentrations have decreased by 17 percent; and the ambient concentration of lead has plummeted 96 percent.

* "Tree huggers'" claims of mass de-forestation are completely unfounded based on the numbers. In the early part of the twentieth century, people cut down twice as many trees as they planted; now the United States grows 36 percent more trees than it harvests. Some researchers believe tree numbers are larger today than when Columbus arrived in 1492! In fact, less dependence on wood for fuel and construction has led to a decrease in wood consumption by half since 1900. Look to private conservation efforts, not federal government, for the 86 percent increase in reforestation, which helps create habitat for endangered species.

More here

Divided Greenies. Old Left under threat: "One year after failing to win control of the Sierra Club in a bitterly contested election, advocates of stricter immigration limits are back, arguing that the venerable conservation group can best protect the environment by reducing population growth. The club's 750,000 members are voting this month on whether the 113-year-old organization should push for tighter restrictions on immigration, and on five seats on the 15-member board of directors, which sets club policy and commands the $100 million annual budget."


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


20 April, 2004


Plans to build luxury homes on a mesa overlooking the Bolsa Chica wetlands in Huntington Beach won approval Thursday from the California Coastal Commission, ending a 30-year battle that saved the salt marsh from development. Hearthside Homes will build 349 houses and a park on 105 acres overlooking the 1,100-acre Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, which is undergoing a $65-million restoration - the largest such undertaking in Southern California. The project - which has been reduced in size and scope over the years - represents what is expected to be the final skirmish over the wetlands after the fight to preserve it and its mesas.

In 1980, developers planned to build at least 5,700 homes, several marinas and hundreds of acres of commercial buildings on the site, regarded then by builders as little more than degraded mudflats that were better off being developed. Meeting here Thursday, the Coastal Commission voted 11 to 1 in favor of the project, adding more than two dozen conditions the developers must follow.

Though the vote was a landmark moment in the preservation battle, some environmentalists were disappointed by the decision to finally allow development in the Bolsa Chica area. "It's a bitter pill to have the proposed development be approved," said Flossie Horgan, a founding member of the Bolsa Chica Land Trust, which fought to preserve the upland areas of the wetlands. "While we're not excited about it, we are proud that we worked so hard with so many people to do what we've done," Horgan said. Environmentalists expect that the decision will also clear the way for the state to buy 103 acres of the mesa and preserve the land as part of the reserve.

Ed Mountford, Hearthside senior vice president, said 96% of Bolsa Chica was now in public hands and set aside as open space. "I've spent 12 years of my life on this, and I'm very gratified to have the commission finally approve a plan, one that we can live with," he said. Twice Hearthside has submitted and withdrawn plans for the mesa. In October, the company took back its proposal after commissioners raised questions about public access to trails and protecting environmentally sensitive habitat for the southern tar plant, the burrowing owl and eucalyptus trees. As a result, Hearthside dropped its proposal for a gated community to allow the public to drive and park on subdivision streets.

Plans for a private recreation center were scrapped in favor of preserving the southern tar plant. The developer also agreed to filter storm water on site rather than build retention basins that would have interfered with burrowing owl habitat. The biggest debate Thursday was over how much buffer space should be required between the planned homes and the ecological reserve. The commission staff had recommended at least 328 feet, but commissioners balked, instead settling for a range of 150 to 382 feet. "There's no point to having habitat if there's no protection of the immediate surroundings," said Dave Carlberg, a retired biologist and past president of Amigos de Bolsa Chica, the original environmental group that fought to preserve the Bolsa Chica.

As part of the plan, Hearthside's parent company - California Coastal Communities - is expected to sell the 103 acres next to the reserve for $65 million. The purchase would be funded by Proposition 50, a 2002 initiative providing $3.4 billion for environmental projects.



A new reconstruction of past changes shows that the level of the oceans varied more dramatically during between ice ages than was previously thought, implying that the global climate during these intervals was not as stable as most scientists think.

One of the best ways to document the rising and falling of the oceans over time is by coral dating. Coral thrives in shallow waters with plenty of sunlight; as sea level rises, however, coral grows in stacks from the murky sea floor, forming terraces to reach the rays nearer the surface. The age of the coral in a terrace is determined by monitoring the rate of decay of radioactive uranium, which is present in the corals, into the element thorium. But coral readily exchanges uranium with seawater, thereby complicating the dating process. To correct for this, William Thompson and Steven Goldstein, of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, developed a new method for determining the age of coral to generate a record of past sea levels, which they report in this week's issue of Science..... Using their new dating system, Thompson and Goldstein reassessed past measurements of uranium decay, and reconstructed sea-level changes from between 70,000 and 240,000 years ago. And what they found was very surprising, explains Thompson. "This record shows high-frequency changes that are very consistent and persistent."

"It is the first time that such variability has been accurately dated with so many corals," says Mark Siddall, an oceanographer at the University of Bern, Switzerland.

Large variations in sea level of up to 100 metres are caused by the growth and melting of global ice sheets. These changes are commonly thought to occur on a maximum 100,000-year timescale based on variations in Earth's orbit. Thompson and Goldstein, however, uncovered sea-level changes of as much as 30 metres that occurred at intervals of 3,000-9,000 years - relatively rapid oscillations. "The real punchline is that sea level changes more frequently than has been previously thought," says Thompson. What's more, sea-level change can help to explain the overall climate system. This means that global climate is more variable than has been thought, he adds.

In addition, the time period from 240,000 to 70,000 years ago was an interglacial, or period between ice ages, similar to the one we are currently in. Experts had previously thought that sea level remains constant during such intervals. "This raises the question as to the future stability of sea level during our own interglacial," explains Siddall.

More here

California: Mormons vs. environmentalists in mountains: "Mormons in the tiny Southern California mountain town of Running Springs have been trying for seven years to build a new church, but environmentalists keep putting up roadblocks. The 12,000-square-foot church would be located in a remote area of the San Bernardino Mountains right near Lake Arrowhead. Environmentalists worry it will ruin the scenic views of the area and encourage future growth, possibly threatening the natural habitat of endangered species such as the California spotted owl and the southern rubber boa."


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


19 April, 2004


Post lifted from My Aisling

Greenpeace: Brush your teeth, get cancer and die. That's the story proffered in the Brit's Evening Standard. The theory is that triclosan reacts with water to produce chloroform gas. Chloroform gas is, apparently, a known carcinogen.

Here's the first indication of a problem with the reporting: "If inhaled in large enough quantities, chloroform can cause depression, liver problems and, in some cases, cancer." Yeah, so can oxygen - in large enough quantities. Ever see rust? That's caused by oxygen. Oh my. Imagine what it's doing to your lungs!!!

Here's the only other indication of a problem we need: "[The manufacturer of the products] Marks & Spencer confirmed today it was removing products containing triclosan from all its stores and has been working with Greenpeace to develop alternative products." Ahhh, that leading cancer research institute and toothpaste expert organization Greenpeace. I feel so much safer knowing they are on the job. And I was just about to commit Harry Carey (sing baseball songs while brushing) over the prospect of losing my teeth whilst I fretted about inhaling chloroform gas. Whew, that was a close one!! I always get the order mixed up and say "get me some Crack Jack and peanuts" then I just stop singing. Could you imagine doing that with a mouthful of toothpaste and desparately trying to constantly exhale? I would probably choke and die. Greenpeace, thank you!!!

I wish that were all of the bad news, but it get's worse. Artfully hidden among pictures of skin cancer, Heart Spring shares this tidbit: "The U.S. EPA recently stated that 'Due to chlorine and showering, virtually every home in America has a detectable level of chloroform gas in the air.' When chlorine vaporizes in steam, and combines with other organic compounds in the air, it converts to chloroform. Chloroform is a strong respiratory irritant and causes fatigue." So, if I shower and inhale chloroform gas I may get tired and want to go back to bed.

Just to be safe, until these issues are resolved, I am not going to brush my teeth or shower. But wait - that's silly. Although if I stopped writing now, my son would print this out and put it on my bedroom door with the note, "Please read. I agree. Kindly reinstate allowance until further studies are completed, peer reviewed, and published."

Let's learn more about chloroform:

"Chloroform is a clear colorless volatile liquid with an ethereal scent that is nonflammable and does not form explosive mixtures at atmospheric temperatures and pressures. It is miscible with most organic solvents, and is slightly soluble in water. Chloroform evaporates quickly and in its concentrated gaseous form, it will tend to settle to the ground before dispersing." So it won't explode in my mouth and I can reduce my risk if I brush my teeth standing up. That's a good tip.

"Pyrolysis of chloroform vapor occurs at temperatures above 450 oC, producing tetrachloroethylene, hydrogen chloride, and minor amounts of other chlorocarbons." So if you put a lit match to it, it produces something like ethylene. Don't they use that to power cars in California? This may be a whole new industry. Brush your teeth, spit into the gas tank, and drive to work. Think of all those healthy gums as people run out of gas and begin to brush their teeth. It may increase roadside deaths, but it would be a boon to forensic dentistry. Maybe the drool cup industry would be revitalize, too (although I understand that the fad of tongue piercings has had a positive effect).

OK. Enough silly stuff. Here's the meat: "Cancer: No information is available regarding cancer in humans or animals after inhalation exposure to chloroform. Chloroform has been shown to be carcinogenic in animals after oral exposures resulting in kidney and liver tumors. The U.S. EPA has classified chloroform in Group B2: Probable human carcinogen, with a potency value of 2.3 x 10-5 (microgram per cubic meter)-1. The U.S. EPA estimates that if an individual were to breathe air containing chloroform at 0.04 µg/m3, over a lifetime, that person would theoretically have no more than a 1 in 1 million increased chance of developing cancer (U.S. EPA, 1994a). The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified chloroform in Group 2B: Possible carcinogen based on inadequate evidence in humans and sufficient evidence in animals (IARC, 1987a)."

Inadequate evidence. One in one million - in theory.

I have a higher probability of dying in a car wreck (1.62 per million) - and that is actual deaths based upon data.

In fact, when you consider that the overall death rate is 49.16 per million, and the cancer survival rate is ever-increasing (over 50% almost ten years ago!), I think that a one in a million risk sounds pretty good.

I'm gonna go brush my teeth and shower - a long hot shower. Maybe I'll floss, too.


There is a short PDF here from a marine scientist that says climate change can only be understood by taking into account data from very long periods of time. He summarizes the important geohistory data as follows (Note points 5 & 6 particularly):

"1. That 5 million years ago (Ma) planetary temperatures were several degrees warmer than today.

2. A gradual decline in temperature has occurred since. Superimposed on this decline since 2.5 Ma have been substantial glacial and interglacial climate fluctuations. These resulted from the waxing and waning of ice-sheets over high latitudes in both northern and southern hemispheres, the timing of which (20, 41 and ~100 thousand years (ky) spacing - termed Milankovitch frequencies) was controlled by changes in the earth's orbital geometry.

3.. For about the last 0.6 million years, the glacial-interglacial oscillations have occurred on the 100 ky-scale. For more than 90% of that time earth's mean temperature has been cooler, and often much cooler (~5-10 degrees), than today. Warm interglacial periods comprise less than 10% of the time, and on average lasted only ~10 ky. Civilisation and our modern society developed during the most recent warm interglacial period (the Holocene), which has already lasted 10 ky.

4. Superimposed on these longer term climatic cycles are (i) shorter-term cyclic oscillations on all scales between the 11-yr sunspot cycle and ~1, 2 and 5 ky cycles of unknown origin; and (ii) episodes of abrupt climate change, when climate changed across almost the full glacial-interglacial range in a period as short as a few years to a few decades; the causes of abrupt climate change also remain largely unknown.

5. Changes in temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide, which can be measured in ice cores, occur in close parallelism. In detail, however, over both annual and longterm glacial-interglacial periods, changes in temperature PRECEDE changes in carbon dioxide. Thus carbon dioxide cannot be a primary forcing agent for temperature change.

6. Compared with the ancient climate record, and especially that of the last 20 ky glacial to interglacial change, modern temperatures are neither particularly high nor particularly fast-changing. Indeed, temperatures in Antarctica for the three interglacials which precede the Holocene [i.e. last 10,000yrs] were respectively about 5, 4 and 6 degrees warmer than today."


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


18 April, 2004


Tommy and Leona are having sex on a tree stump in the middle of a Norwegian clear-cut. Leona, with a mop of brown dreads and a lip ring, looks dreamily across the demolished forest as Tommy, a little shaggy in nothing but a knit hat, works his magic. A few minutes earlier, Leona and Tommy stood at the same spot lecturing about the evils of industrial forestry. But now they're moaning in feral ecstasy, overcoming the powerful negativity of the place -- the broken branches and dried-out logs -- with the juices of the life force itself.

Welcome to (FFF), a porn site with a difference. Along with raw, explicit images and videos with scenes like the one described above, FFF is well stocked with facts about the world's forests. On the Web site, naked sylphs share space with graphs of forest loss over time and exhaustive lists of the benefits tropical rain forests provide to society. It's a novel approach to eco-activism, certainly, but one the duo hopes will help save the planet. Indeed, in its first year of operation, this unlikely project has raised nearly $100,000 for rain forest protection through the sale of paid memberships. "Everyone must try to create something good using what they have," Tommy told me by phone from the apartment the couple shares in Berlin. "We had nothing, just our bodies." With backgrounds in progressive and green theater and teaching troubled teens, Leona Johansson, 21, and Tommy Hol Ellingsen, 28, wanted to do more than just protest the state of the world -- they wanted to make a difference. To them, eco-porn is the obvious choice. "Porn makes really, really a lot of money," Tommy continues in his soft Norwegian accent, "so why not use that money for good?"

Easy enough, right? But, so far, the pair's biggest challenge has been giving the money away. It's a conundrum they didn't anticipate when they got their start in their native Norway, where they managed to obtain seed funding from the federal government. "We said we were starting an alternative environmental organization," says Tommy.

Most of the material on FFF features the gentle Burning Man-esque couple and/or their friends romping in every imaginable combination. The great outdoors is a favorite setting, of course, but scenes are also set in apartments, photo studios, sex clubs and elsewhere. The sex runs the gamut from couplings involving vegetables used as sex toys to performances by scary-looking shaven-headed German Goths and is unflinchingly graphic. Like those of most porn scenarios, the plots of the video segments are vestigial at best, but in written material and between the scenes, Leona and Tommy share their feelings for the forest with visitors to the site.

But even Norway has its limits. In front of 5,000 people at a music festival last summer, the couple delivered a brief talk about human impacts on natural forests. Shedding his clothes, Tommy asked the crowd, "How far are you willing to go to try to save nature?" He and Leona, grinning, then launched into a raunchy live demonstration of precisely how far they'll go for the forest. Front and center on top of a speaker, the pair ground into each other while a local band played a heavy metal dirge called "Go Forth and F--."

Leona and Tommy, along with the band, were charged by authorities in Kristiansand, Norway, with staging a public sex show. When Tommy dropped his pants in the courtroom, the couple was fined the equivalent of $1,500 each, but they refused to pay. Instead, they moved to more liberal-minded Berlin, where FFF is now produced....

But not everyone shares this enthusiasm for FFF's brand of environmental education. In one session featured on the site, Leona, in a blue wig, starts the lesson by flogging another woman with a huge leek. This unorthodox approach hasn't ingratiated FFF to mainstream environmental organizations, who Leona and Tommy feel are too prudish to embrace the potential of porn -- or even to accept its money. "WWF (formerly known as World Wildlife Fund) Norway didn't want to speak with us -- they pushed us out of the office," says Tommy. "We wrote to WWF in the Netherlands; they said they couldn't take our money, either. After the court case, suddenly, nobody wanted to talk to us at all."

More here


First of all, the UN IPPC's (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) propensity to self-delusion could be mentioned. In IPCC's beauty parlour, curves have occasionally been 'corrected' to better fit the man-made global warming hypothesis. The infamous hockey stick is of course the most notorious example of this practice. As early as November 2003, Steven McIntyre and Ross McKitrick published their bombshell article on the flaws in the reconstruction of the Northern Hemisphere temperatures by Mann, Bradley and Hughes, in Energy & Environment. But the article was initially ignored. Only after that the updated version of the article appeared in the Geophysical Research Letters, in February 2005, it started to dawn on the established climate science community that something was wrong. The latter article had been preceded by a paper by Hans von Storch (climate specialist at the GKSS Research Center in Geesthacht near Hamburg - not a climate sceptic), et al, in Science, October 2004, with a similar message. Hans von Storch went even so far as to qualify the hockey stick as 'Quatsch' (rubbish).

But the hockey stick is by no means the only example of 'creative' data handling within IPCC circles. Another intriguing case has been highlighted by Zbigniew Jaworowski (Chairman of the Scientific Council of Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection, Warsaw). In his written statement for the Hearing before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, March 19, 2004, ( he revealed the 'correction' of the dating of ice core measurements in order to obtain a smooth alignment with the - more recent and more accurate - Mauna Loa (Hawaii) observatory record. As Jaworowski explained:

'The data from shallow ice cores, such as those from Siple, Antarctica, are widely used as a proof of man-made increase of CO2 content in the global atmosphere by IPCC. The problem with Siple data is that the CO2 concentration found in pre-industrial ice was 'too high'. This ice was deposited in 1890 AD, and the CO2 concentration was 328 ppmv, not about 290 ppmv, as needed by man-made global warming hypothesis. The CO2 atmospheric concentration of about 328 ppmv was measured at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, as later as in 1973, i.e. 83 years after the ice was deposited at Siple. An ad hoc assumption, not supported by any factual evidence, solved the problem: the average age of air was arbitrary decreed to be exactly 83 years younger than the ice in which it was trapped. The 'corrected' ice data were then smoothly aligned with the Mauna Loa record, and reproduced in countless publications as a famous 'Siple curve'. Only thirteen years later, in 1993, glaciologists attempted to prove experimentally the 'age assumption', but they failed.'

Against the background of these practices it is surprising that we have often been told that 'the science is settled' and 'all scientists agree'. This is simply not true. Tens of thousands of bona fide qualified scientists have expressed their reservations as regards the man-made global warming hypothesis (see: But it could perhaps be argued that most of them were not meteorologists and/or climatologists. What about this latter category? At a recent climate change seminar, organised by the (classical liberal) Friedrich Naumann Foundation, together with the Society for the Freedom of Science, in Gummersbach (near Bonn), Prof. Dennis Brays presented the results of a survey among some 500 German and European climate researchers. They showed that the much-repeated claim of a 'scientific consensus' on anthropogenic global warming is not correct. According to the results, some 25% of European climate researchers who took part in the survey still doubt whether most of the moderate warming during the last 150 years can be attributed to human activities and CO2 emissions.

But perhaps these climate researchers are not connected with the IPCC. There will surely be a consensus within the IPCC? Again, no. Even within the IPCC there are differences of view. John Christy is one of the lead authors of the IPCC. He is professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He is a specialist in satellite temperature measurements. Together with his colleague Roy Spencer of the same institute, he wrote a paper, 'Global Temperature Report 1978-2003', (, dismissing much of the scare-mongering by his IPCC colleagues.

Difference of opinion and a free exchange of views are the life blood of scientific progress. Somehow, their value seems to be forgotten in climate science these days. The reactions of his colleagues to Hans von Storch's critique of the hockey stick offer an illustration of the suffocating atmosphere prevailing in those circles. People like him are occasionally being treated as defectors by their colleagues, which is a somewhat embarrassing attitude for scientists who are supposed to be committed to the search for truth. Von Storch: 'They tell me, you cannot say this because it will be immediately misused. Among them there are even people who are really suffering from paranoia and see climate sceptics everywhere.'

Among many of his colleagues Storch even notices a sort of self-censorship: 'The outcome of scientific investigation is being filtered, thus placing public opinion under tutelage. That means that this politically important research is in crisis. It does no longer distinguish between those who make politics, and those who advise on politics, that is: offering policy options.'

Von Storch believes that Michael Crichton's best-seller book 'State of Fear (Harper Collins Publishers, New York 2004) provides an accurate description of the interaction of scientists, governments and mass media in climate policy. He warns that the 'spiral of exaggeration' used by climate alarmists to catch people's attention will undermine the credibility of science.

His colleague, Karin Labitzke (a stratospheric expert of the Free University of Berlin), shares Von Storch's uneasiness. She adheres to the school which believes that the sun is the main driver of global warming. She complains about a ban on free thought ('Denkverbot') imposed on them by the supporters of man-made global warming hypothesis. Labitzke: 'The influence of the sun has been tabooed. When we talk about it, colleagues immediately reproach us for being against energy conservation.'

All this is contrary to good scientific practice. It is high time that climatologists return to old-fashioned sound science, keeping an open mind for alternative hypotheses, and keeping all kinds of distorting political and social influences at bay. They could certainly also benefit from business experience, especially as regards due diligence.

More here

Nation descends into mercury madness: "Mercury is all over the news these days, which is appropriate for an element named after the messenger of the gods. At some Maryland high schools, hazmat teams rush in to remove mercury that had gone unnoticed. In Washington D.C., a broken thermometer causes a school to close. And across the nation, environmental groups denounce the Environmental Protection Agency's new proposed rules for reducing mercury emissions from power plants as inadequate to protect children. All this seems rather odd to those of us who played with mercury in science lessons at school. The fact is that the health effects of mercury have been dramatically overblown."


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


17 April, 2004


Eugene Island is an underwater mountain located about 80 miles off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico. In 1973 oil was struck and off-shore platform Eugene 330 erected. The field began production at 15,000 barrels a day, then gradually fell off, as is normal, to 4,000 barrels a day in 1989, Then came the surprise; it reversed itself and increased production to 13,000 barrels a day. Probable reserves have been increased to 400 million barrels from 60 million. The field appears to be filling from below and the crude coming up today is from a geological age different from the original crude, which leads to the speculation that the world has limitless supplies of petroleum.

This really interested some scientists. Thomas Gold, astronomer and professor emeritus of Cornell held for years that oil is actually renewable primordial syrup continually manufactured by the earth under ultra hot conditions and tremendous pressures. This substance migrates upward picking up bacteria that attack it making it appear to have an organic origin, i.e., come from dinosaurs and vegetation. As best I have found so far Russian scientists support his position, at least that petroleum is of primordial origin. There is now plenty of evidence around proving the presence of methane in our universe. It is easy to see it as a part of the formation of the earth. Under the right conditions of temperature and pressure, it converts to more complex hydrocarbons.

Roger Andersen, an oceanographer and executive director of Columbia's Energy Research Center proposed studying the behavior of this reservoir. The underwater landscape around Eugene Island is weird, cut with faults and fissures that belch gas and oil. The field is operated by PennzEnergy Co. Andersen proposed to study the action of the sea bottom around the mountain and the field at its top and persuaded the U S Dept of Energy to ante up ten million which was matched by a consortium of oil giants including Chevron, Exxon, and Tex Corp. This work began about the time 3-D seismic technology was introduced to oil exploration. Anderson was able to stack 3D images resulting in a 4D image that showed the reservoir in 3 spatial dimensions and enabled researchers to track the movement of oil. Their most stunning find was a deep fault at a bottom corner of the computer scan that showed oil literally gushing in. "We could see the stream," says Andersen. "It wasn't even debated that it was happening."

Work continued for five years until funds ran out and they were unable to continue. With the world having 40 years of proven reserves in hand it is difficult to interest the major oil producers in much exploration, let alone something done merely for research, and so far from the current accepted theory of a fossil origin for oil. Similar occurrences have been seen at other Gulf Of Mexico fields, at the Cook Inlet oil field, at oil fields in Uzbekistan, and it is possible this accounts for the longevity of the Saudi Arabian fields where few new finds have been made, yet reserves have doubled while the fields have been exploited mercilessly for 50 years.

Not only can the doom and gloomers not show us running out of the natural resources we recycle, but now there appears to be good odds of a limitless supply of petroleum working its way up to where we can capture it. A caveat: Gold's theory is not yet accepted by all scientists, probably all the more reason to trust it.



Proclaiming itself as the "pre-eminent provider of weather information," The Weather Channel may appear politically passive and objective to most of its viewers. Yet, the network has become an aggressive force in the battle against "global warming," even sending its sole climatologist to a recent Capitol Hill news conference to defend the science behind the climate change theory and to promote economic solutions to the problem.

The Weather Channel (TWC), which boasts on its website that it "understands and cares about the connection between weather and people's lives," also served as a consultant and allowed the use of its name and logo in the 2004 "global warming" disaster film, "The Day After Tomorrow." That's the same film that was heavily hyped by former Democratic Vice President Al Gore and the liberal group

On March 15, TWC's climatologist Heidi Cullen appeared at the U.S. Senate Dirksen Building to support a disputed scientific report that asserted human activity was causing a catastrophic warming of the North Pole..... Cullen also appeared to reveal her personal ideology when she joined Hollywood actors at the May 2004 premier of "The Day After Tomorrow," the politically charged and heavily publicized film that cost $125 million and provided what Gore called "a rare opportunity to have a national conversation about what truly should be seen as a global climate emergency."

As the celebrities arrived and posed for the paparazzi that night, a mock snow machine overhead churned out snow flakes on the celebrity carpet. Paul Iaffaldano, the senior vice president for network sales at The Weather Channel, also shared "the downy walkway with the stars," at the New York premiere of the film, according to Advertising Age magazine. "[The Weather Channel] acted as consultants. They used our hurricane graphics in the movie. And they (the movie) showed the Weather Channel reporting, factually, what was going on around the world," Iaffaldano was quoted as saying in the June 7, 2004 edition of Advertising Age.....

"The Weather Channel has evolved from a station providing pure weather information to one providing what they perceive to be entertainment," said Patrick J. Michaels, an environmental sciences professor at the University of Virginia, in an interview with Cybercast News Service. "I am not surprised that [The Weather Channel's] take on global warming has gone from neutral to more lurid," said Michaels, noting that the network's emphasis on climate change is consistent with its "foray into the genre of tragedy television." The Weather Channel has in the past offered up such programming as "Tornado Week" and "Storm Stories." ....

Cullen joined the The Weather Channel in July of 2003. In December of that year the network announced that it was officially taking a position that "a significant portion of the current warming is a result of human activities." Following the announcement, titled, "The Weather Channel Position Statement on Global Warming," Cullen began a regular segment called "Forecast Earth," to focus on climate change and other environmental issues. The TWC statement went even further by asserting that "humans are also changing the climate on a more localized level" through the eradication of "vegetation by buildings and roads.....

Michaels criticized Cullen for her appearance on the same stage as the authors of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment report, who he said "were certainly alarmists." Michaels added that climate change is an issue that "prospers in a culture of exaggeration and politicization." He noted that the earth has seen much warmer periods than the present. "The earth was warmer than it is now for three millennia between 4 and 7,000 years ago. Alaska was warmer than it is now by two degrees between 9 and 11,000 years ago and that is when human cultures up there began to flourish," Michaels said.....

Ebell of CEI said TWC should stick to what it does best. "The Weather Channel does a good job giving accurate weather forecasts, but forecasts aren't very exciting. It looks like their global warming features are intended to add a little excitement, but they wouldn't do that if they weren't alarming," said Ebell. "So instead of just giving the facts about global warming, they are featuring scare stories," he added.

More here


I think overwhelmingly what we have is a kind of a fixation on carbon dioxide particularly. If we start with looking at what the risks that we face are, it’s not necessarily the case that focusing our attention on CO2 is the best way to tackle the problem. It’s certainly the case that CO2 is the largest single anthropogenic greenhouse gas, but there are others that…James Hanson, who some people would call the father of global warming, has suggested that there are other greenhouse gases that can be tackled technically much more simply, and economically at much lower cost, or that have co-benefits if we tackle them first. So, in fact, we’ve got a much broader range of choice to respond to a problem that is much more uncertain than certain people who are pushing the issue would have us believe.

I’ve been studying environmental politics and policy for 35 years, and I hadn’t done much work on climate change policy until the mid-90s, but I’d done a lot on energy planning and so on, and I was always fascinated because the theory of CO2 forcing of the climate, it’s been around since the 1890s, at least, and I was fascinated as to what had led it into a problem from the mid-1980s onwards. If we look back now, we can see, for example, in Germany, Helmut Kohl quite deliberately talked up climate change as a problem because he wanted to compromise the Social Democrats and the Greens who, at that stage, from the time of the German federal election then, were actually arguing for a phase-out, an end to the nuclear program and an expansion of coal as the basis for German energy. Kohl thought he had the perfect problem because this compromised their opposition to nuclear energy by suggesting that their proposed alternative, namely accelerated coal production, had environmental problems. That’s typical of the way in which those who had particular agendas thought that here was a problem which suited their solutions, and that’s what the ‘garbage can theory of organisational choice’ is about. It says that problems and solutions kind of float around out there, they meet each other in the garbage can where they’ve been discarded, and it’s not just that we start with clearly defined problems to which we seek solutions; there are always those who have solutions looking for problems.

I first encountered this—I did a study of electricity planning, including here in Tasmania, the good old Hydro Electric Commission in the old days—and the logic was much the same; they would produce forecasts of future demand which were then taken as immutable, and then they would try and justify particular policy responses to those. In the case here it was with hydro dam construction. But we’ve got much the same thing with the climate change problem, because all of the projections of future greenhouse gas levels and so on all depend on economic scenarios projected off into the future, which are now looking somewhat dubious after some good critiques—from Ian Castles, particularly, at ANU—somewhat unrealistic. All of those scenarios assume that we’ll do nothing to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, and then on that basis we’re then supposed to be hostage to this future which is an entirely virtual future, rather than one in which we have a number of choices, a number of ways in which to respond to highly uncertain social science which, in fact, drives the natural science. The natural scientific models themselves are, of course, inherently uncertain. We’re talking about coupled, non-linear systems which are inherently uncertain. We can’t have certain knowledge about the future. The way in which we should respond is exactly the same as we should respond in electricity planning and that is flexibly and not necessarily locking ourselves into courses of action that might be extremely costly should the high scenario, the doomsday scenario, not be shown, in the course of a hundred years, to be justified.

There’s a fairly well-accepted adage in political science that where you stand depends on where you sit, and the problem of course looks different, and decarbonisation looks different depending on where you sit. One of the problems with Kyoto and one of the reasons the United States and Australia have been reluctant to ratify and come on board, is that it is the least harsh on those two nation states which have the largest historic contribution to the problem, which is the United Kingdom and Germany. CO2 lingers in the atmosphere, we think, for around 100 years, so this is not a problem which is just about what emissions of nation states were in 1990. It’s about who’s contributed what the past 100-or-so years. If we look at that as…the Brazilians were mischievous enough to suggest this as a possibility in the Kyoto negotiations…if we tried to actually assign responsibility for who’s caused the problem we’d look at who’s contributed over the past 100 years and the two biggest contributors are the United Kingdom and Germany.

Both of them are let off most lightly by the selection of 1990 as a base year for emission reduction targets. The Germans, because German reunification occurred that year and the following 12 months was a 30 per cent collapse in the East German economy which produced a substantial windfall reduction in CO2 emissions. In the United Kingdom’s case, Thatcher privatised the electricity sector that year. She’d been after the coal mining unions for years. She was able then to start closing pits. The European Union the same year relaxed the prohibition on burning natural gas for fuel, so we had a so-called ‘dash for gas’ in the next five years, and a 12.5 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector in the UK.

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


16 April, 2004


In ancient times, priestesses at the Oracle at Delphi often answered important political questions with enigmatic predictions derived from dreams, signs, casting lots or reading animal entrails. Today, in the realm of climate change, that function is served by scientific priests and priestesses who offer forecasts of dubious value, derived from computer models.

Investing in the stock market, like planning next summer's vacation, is a dicey proposition. But if someone offered to eliminate the uncertainty - by using computer models to pick surefire investments and perfect weather windows at idyllic resorts - few would jump at the chance.

Most people know complex markets and weather defy such predictions. Computers certainly help understand and analyze these systems; they can even forecast trends, if they've been tested against actual data. However, even predicting tomorrow's IBM closing price or hurricane path is iffy, and attempts to do so months or years in advance are meaningless. Thus the rapt attention that certain academics, journalists and policymakers give to climate models is truly astounding.

The latest example comes from Columbia University, where the Earth Institute asserts that its new "Climate Change Information Portal" will enable people to assess, avoid and adapt to "the problems that climate change and variability can cause" - and can even do so years into the future for regions as small as the tri-state New York metropolitan area. The Institute begins by assuming that human-induced global warming of alarming proportions is a fact. It then offers computer-driven guidance as to how we should respond.

Several computer models have presented "scenarios" of what might happen if temperatures really do increase 5 or 10 degrees in 100 years. These dire projections garner extensive coverage. However, the models fail miserably when tested against actual data, and there is simply no evidence to support theories of catastrophic climate change. Indeed, satellite and weather balloon measurements have found little or no warming over the past 25 years, and other climate models project only modest warming - a degree or two over the next century. Such warming would be mostly beneficial, by bringing us longer growing seasons and lower heating bills. This kind of change people and planet can readily adapt to.

World-class geologists and climatologists emphasize that Planet Earth has been buffeted by numerous natural climate shifts for millions of years. The shifts often come in 50, 500 and 1,500-year cycles, they say. For instance, our Earth went through a 500-year Little Ice Age - then warmed about a degree since that era ended around 1850. Nearly half of this warming occurred before 1940 - long before carbon dioxide began building up in the atmosphere. Other past climate swings also show there is little cause for alarm.

Wild weather whipsawed Detroit awhile back, according to news accounts. Six snowstorms hit during April of '68, frosts in mid-August of '69, ice in mid-May and a 98-degree heat wave in June of '74, and ice-free lakes in January of '77 and '79. But that was 1868 to 1879! New England saw average annual temperatures increase by about 2.5 degrees F over a half century. But that was 1904-1954.

Arctic temperature increases between 1971 and 2003 might spell trouble if they continued, even though the rise was below what computer models had predicted: 1.4 degrees F per half century. However, between 1938 and 1966 average annual arctic temperatures fell 6 degrees F. Had that trend continued, temperatures would have plummeted 10.7 degrees F in 50 years!

Moreover, the CO2 that is supposedly causing "catastrophic" warming represents only 0.00035 of all the gases in the atmosphere (1.25 inches out of a 100-yard football field), and proposals to control this vital plant nutrient ignore a far more critical greenhouse gas: water vapor.

There are at least three reasons the debate has nonetheless focused on carbon dioxide - though some are now talking about dandruff as a possible source of global warming! CO2 is easy to measure, villainize and regulate. It would be extremely difficult to sequester water vapor, without draining the Great Lakes and turning the planet into a vast Sahara Desert. And water vapor doesn't come out of tailpipes, smokestacks and chimneys. It isn't an unwanted bastard child of the hated fossil fuel industries that radical greens want to relegate to the ash heap of history.

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Prior to becoming the acting EPA administrator in January of this year, Mr. Johnson was directly in charge of implementing the nation's pesticide, toxic substances, and pollution prevention laws in the Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances (OPPTS). He knew, as a scientist, that it would be useful to try to gather toxicity data from human exposures, rather than from the animal experiments upon which the EPA has always relied. The animal data has been found wanting as a basis for assigning human risk. The tricky part: how to gather human data ethically: i.e., without knowingly exposing humans to toxic substances. The answer: just by observing kids in their "natural habitats," since it is known that the large majority of families in the proposed study area use household chemicals and pesticides routinely. Why not just observe them and gather data?

Indeed, just to be completely secure, Johnson requested an opinion from the National Academy of Sciences on the ethics of collecting human data in such circumstances. Their committee's conclusion was that it was acceptable to gather and utilize such information if appropriate safeguards and standards were adhered to. That seemed to be a go-ahead for the CHEERS study. Johnson made two serious blunders, however: he offered to compensate the study families, and he arranged to get funding support from the American Chemistry Council.

Environmental activists went ballistic -- even more so than usual. The EWG asserted that a study done on humans in which people could not derive any health benefits was ipso facto taboo. And worse: partnering with a chemical group? In a study on children? Are you kidding -- not on my watch! (Even though the EPA routinely works with regulated industries to assess environmental risks, often with funding from those same industries.)

The environmentalists' real gripe is somewhat less likely to be articulated in the media: these groups have fought tooth and nail against using human toxicity data because they know quite well that such data will show no evidence of harm to humans from the so-called "toxins" in our environment. Their dependence on the "Precautionary Principle," wherein a lack of data mandates restrictions out of "safety" concerns, would finally be shown for what it is: an excuse for agenda-driven regulation.

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Driving around in the Patagonian Andes in December, my wife and I were enchanted by the masses of luminous blue lupines and brilliant yellow scotch broom lining many of the roads. We stopped frequently to take photos of the floral abundance. How insensitive of us! Both, it turns out, are evil foreigners. Lupine is from North America and scotch broom hails from Europe.

Since 1992, the nations of the world have been waging a war against such foreign invaders under the Convention on Biological Diversity. In the United States the public regularly reads anguished stories about the "damage" being caused by alien invaders such as zebra mussels and purple loosestrife. Environmentalist groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the National Wildlife Federation fiercely denounce these foreign intruders, urging Americans to band together to force these invaders from our shores.

In response, Congress passed the National Invasive Species Act and the executive branch has adopted a National Invasive Species Management Plan aimed at closing our borders to alien species. NASA warned recently, "Non-indigenous invasive species may pose the single most formidable threat of natural disaster of the 21st century." But is all this jingoistic furor justified? Some biologists and other analysts are beginning to doubt it.

For example, University of California-Santa Barbara biologist, Daniel Botkin, points out in his article "The Naturalness of Biological Invasions," that "[b]iological invasion is a natural process everywhere, requisite for the persistence of essentially all species on Earth over the long term. Being able to seek new habitats and survive in them is essential in an environment that changes at all scales of space and time."

In the May 2005 cover article for Discover, senior editor Alan Burdick asks the startling question, "Are Invasive Species Really So Bad?" (not yet available online). The article concludes, "Fifty years of invasion biology has failed to identify a clear ecological difference between an ecosystem rich in native species and one chock-full of aliens. Invasions don't weaken ecosystems-they simply transform them into different ecosystems, filled with different organisms of greater and lesser value to us." (To be immodest, this is exactly the point I made in my "Bioinvaders" article nearly 5 years ago.) Introducing new species generally boosts the total number of species dwelling in any given ecosystem.

What about the claim that invasive species pose "the single most formidable threat of natural disaster"? It is certainly the case that some introduced species have detrimental effects. Think West Nile virus and Norway rats. We should take steps to prevent the introduction of disease organisms and parasites that show a high likelihood of harming species that we value.

But even the NRDC admits that over the past two centuries, only one in seven of the thousands of introduced species have caused environmental, health, or economic harm. In fact, most, such as wheat and cows, have provided people with far more benefits than harms. And while some species are threatened with extinction by the introduction of outside species-most infamously the case of the brown tree snakes that killed off several bird species on the isolated island of Guam -in fact, fewer than 6 percent of species considered endangered are menaced by non-native species, according to Burdick.

Ecologists had assumed that introducing alien species would be detrimental because these species would disrupt ecosystems in which species had co-evolved for millions of years. Species from different ecosystems would harm tightly functioning "natural" plant and animal communities. This assumption has recently been called into question by the creation of an "accidental rainforest" on Ascension Island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. As New Scientist (subscription required) points out, Ascension's bare central peak once called White Mountain is now covered with an extensive cloud forest consisting in guava, banana and wild ginger, bamboo, the white-flowered Clerodendrum and Madagascan periwinkle, Norfolk Island pine and, eucalyptus from Australia and is renamed Green Mountain. This new rainforest, less than 150 years old, is an affront to conventional ecological wisdom that species must co-evolve in order to function together. Instead the Ascension rainforest supports the dissident notion that species engage in "ecological fitting." That is, species make the best of what they have.

Ascension's rainforest is evidence that nature is super resilient and that moving species around the globe is unlikely to cause wide-scale ecosystem collapses. Ecological puritans loathe the new Ascension Island rainforest as a pastiche and lupine and scotch broom in Patagonia as sinful aberrations. However, less conservative temperaments welcome foreign species as fascinating scientific and aesthetic experiments that can enrich landscapes such as Patagonian roadsides. Ultimately, the battle against exotic species is a cultural and aesthetic war, not one compelled by scientific evidence.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


15 April, 2004


The Greenies' own study contradicts them .... not that you would ever guess from the publicity

Spin: Perchlorate found in human breast milk
Unspin: Study finds perchlorate in breast milk NOT from drinking water!

Once again a major environmental health study gets top billing in the headlines of the San Francisco Chronicle only to get the story all backwards. The headline "Rocket fuel contaminant found in women's breast milk" (Feb. 23) merely regurgitates press releases from politicians and environmental activists posing as scientists and fails to tell the true story behind the recent report that perchlorate was found for the first time in human breast milk. So how did this story get spun in the media as just the opposite of what the study found?

Perchlorate does not cause cancer nor is it a poison. Perchlorate, a salt, was used in ancient Chinese fireworks and modern day rocket fuel as a catalyst or oxygenating agent. Potassium perchlorate in very high concentrations (1,000 parts per billion or ppb) was once used to treat thyroid gland disorders, which are now treated with radiation. The fear is that perchlorate inhibits iodine from the thyroid gland resulting in mental retardation in infants and children. But why does the public fear infinitesimally small doses of perchlorate in drinking water when it now appears, as the Texas Tech study states, that "a comparable control population with no perchlorate exposure may be mythical?" One reason is that "all reality is media reality," as one of the characters states in Michael Crichton's new environmental novel State of Fear. ..

.... curiously no mention is made in any of the newspaper articles of the two major findings of the study (quote): (1) "perchlorate in breast milk does not appear to be well-correlated with the water the respective mothers are consuming;" and (2) "If we take all the available data, there is no meaningful correlation between the perchlorate and iodide levels in breast milk." The researchers further hypothesized that perchlorate consumption comes primarily from food rather than from water! Moreover, perchlorate has been mysteriously found in Massachusetts, Texas, and New Mexico in places not associated with rocket testing, military bases, or munitions or fireworks plants and can occur in high concentrations (up to 3,741,000 ppbs) in natural rock deposits (see U.S.G.S. Open-File Report 03-314).

In other words, despite that the Pentagon may spend up to $165 billion to clean up perchlorate from contaminated drinking water supplies (GAO), and many local water agencies have been nearly financially insolvent due to perchlorate clean up costs, there is no evidence in a sample of mothers with traces of perchlorate in their breast milk that it came from the water they were drinking. Other recent studies have tentatively suggested the same. This startling finding should have been the headline pasted across the newspapers rather than "perchlorate found in breast milk."

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As we all prepare to celebrate Earth Day on April 22, let us hearken for a moment to Steven Hayward, who is one of nature's rare creatures -- two parts scholar, one part troublemaker. As author of well-regarded biographies of both Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchill, Hayward is a man always worth hearkening to, even if, like me, you aren't completely sure what hearken means. I want you to hearken to Hayward because many people who should be, aren't. Hearkening, I mean.

In addition to his work in historical scholarship, Hayward does research in environmental law under the auspices of the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco. For several years now he has been releasing an annual Index of Leading Environmental Indicators. It's his own way of celebrating Earth Day. And sure enough, for several years now, the leading lights of the environmental movement have been pretending Hayward and his index don't exist. Why? Hayward is an optimist. His index of environmental indicators is a collection of good news. And, for the professional pessimists of the green movement, too much good news is bad news.

In last year's index, for example, Hayward and his colleagues cheerfully noted that levels of ambient air pollution in the U.S. had dropped dramatically, beginning in 1976. By 2002, ozone was down 31 percent, sulfur dioxide 70 percent and carbon monoxide 75 percent. Lead, once one of the deadliest, scariest and most ubiquitous pollutants, had dropped 98 percent. U.S. water quality, though much more difficult to measure consistently over so large an area, has also shown steep improvement. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the percentage of the U.S. population served by community water systems with no reported violations of health-based standards has grown from just under 80 percent a decade ago to nearly 95 percent today.

This year, when Hayward releases his new index, the EPA data will be even sunnier: U.S. air quality, measured in levels of particulates, is better than it has been since such measurements were first made. Environmentalists downplay the happy news for understandable reasons, not all of them cynical. It is true that professional activists of every ideological coloration thrive on trauma and trouble, according to the general principle that a frightened citizenry is a generous citizenry -- at least when it comes to offering money to professional activists. At the same time, a true-believing environmentalist might sincerely worry that over-attention to successes in the fight for a clean environment will lead to a risky complacency and false optimism.

Yet, not all optimism is false. Hayward's optimism is grounded in reason and experience -- particularly in his belief that technology, know-how and the entrepreneurial spirit, prompted by the market and urged on by government, will overcome our environmental difficulties. His index suggests he has history on his side.

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Environmental groups have been threatened with the loss of their tax deductible status if they engage in political advocacy. The federal Minister for the Environment, Ian Campbell, sent a letter to environmental groups at the end of February in which he made it clear that a tax deductible status was dependent on organisations working on "the conservation of the natural environment and not for any other purpose, such as political activity".

Some groups have had their Federal Government funding cut by tens of thousands of dollars, forcing them to consider letting staff go. The director of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW, Cate Faehrmann, said her organisation had lost $85,000 in federal grants, or about 20 per cent of its annual budget. "It's the ongoing silencing of any voice of dissent," she said. "This money is vital to environment groups, and the Government knows it."

Senator Campbell announced on Friday that grants to environmental groups would now be capped at $10,000 and directed towards organisations doing practical work, such as tree planting and water quality projects. "I've got no doubt that, right across the country, we're spending far too much on bureaucracy and administration, and we need to make sure [that] more of it gets to the pointy end," Senator Campbell said yesterday. "Many groups are missing out [on grants]. There are hundreds of groups who apply for funds who don't get it, and we thought if we had a cap on it we'd be able to give far more support to small, local volunteer groups."

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Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


14 April, 2004

Living in Harmony with Nature

Post lifted from Cafe Hayek

During our time in Orlando, my family and I visited Sea World. At the manatee exhibit we were shown a brief film whose opening scene showed an American Indian paddling his canoe through pristine waters while the announcer informed the audience that the Indians "lived in harmony with nature." Of course, the film implies that we moderns don't live in harmony in nature, and one consequence of our inharmonious existence is the manatees' near-extinction.

I'm not here to comment upon the manatee. I'm here to do my part to make extinct the notion that modern, civilized human beings live less harmoniously with nature than did pre-Columbian Indians. We moderns live more harmoniously - much more harmoniously - with nature than did our primitive ancestors. To live harmoniously with nature is to understand and accept natural forces. The greater this understanding and acceptance, the greater the harmony. Because we know so much more today than we did before about physics, chemistry, meteorology, biology, physiology, metallurgy, and on and on with our ologies and urgies, we live so much more harmoniously with nature.

Pre-Columbian peoples lived simply, to be sure, but let's stop mistaking ignorance and poverty with harmony. It's an utter myth - we might say an urban myth - that primitive peoples lived with nature harmoniously. Nature devastated them. Nature battered them into early graves. Their ignorance of nature prevented them from achieving much material wealth. To dance to imaginary rain gods or to chant and pray for a child dying of bacterial infection is not to live harmoniously with nature; it is to live most inharmoniously. Nature is doing its thing - failing to water the crops, growing bacteria within a child's lungs - while human beings who are as ignorant of nature as nature is of human beings, moan, chant, pray, dance, build totems, burn leaves and twigs, all in fruitless, inharmonious efforts to solve the problems.

It is we today, with our knowledge of how to irrigate fields using science and engineering, and how to make and administer antibiotics, who live harmoniously with nature. We don't demand miracles. We don't expect nature to change its logic simply because we arrogantly wish it to do so. We accept nature's logic and work with it. Natural forces are what they are. Praying for miracles is fruitless; these forces will do what they do. Only people who understand these forces and how to counteract or reinforce or sustain or alter them with other natural forces can be truly said to live harmoniously with nature. It is science - rational thought, skepticism, critical inquiry - that furthers greater harmony with nature.

A Global Warming Debate Down Under

Last week the post-Kyoto future was debated in Australia during three conferences. The British Government and the US-based Pew Centre supported conferences urging extension of the Kyoto model to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Energy companies backed the third conference which contrasted the strategy of development of low emission technologies favored by the Bush Administration and the Howard Government in Australia with the Kyoto-style model. Science featured prominently in the discussions. For the first time in Australia, Australia's leading advocates of the Kyoto model were required to publicly defend the "official" UN science supporting Kyoto to their peers. They were not successful. Doubts about the UN science are increasing in Australia.......

Undeterred, pro-Kyoto advocates reverted at the conference in Melbourne to threats of cataclysm from global warming. The British aired a report which the Hadley Centre, an arm of the official British meteorology bureau, released recently arguing that we now face "dangerous" climate change. The argument is similar to the claims made by the World Wildlife Fund a few months earlier that "trigger points" are emerging where small increases of CO2 in the atmosphere will "trigger" major shifts in the climate. There is little scientific about either concept, except that scientists signed off the Hadley report. And for that conference yet another Pacific Island Leader was produced who warned that global warming will deluge their territories.

The debate at the Canberra conference was far more significant. Three of Australia's most prominent supporters of Kyoto-style regulation made the case in front of peers. No room for cataclysmic pronouncements here. It revealed serious doubts about the "official" science. Dr. John Zillman, former head of Australia's meteorology bureau and Australia's leading scientific member of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) argued its processes were as good as you would get and its science sound. Ross McKitrick from the University of Guelph, Ontario, took the conference through the detail of research which demonstrated as unsupportable the analysis which produced the famous "hockey stick" chart. This chart demonstrated the twentieth century is the hottest on record. It was endorsed by the IPCC which headlined it to support the case that human activity was causing global warming. McKitrick's analysis that the modeling was fundamentally flawed and the data unrepresentative is now regarded as correct. The work behind the chart was not checked before the IPCC endorsed and headlined it.

The case made by IPCC also depends on results from several climate models. Professor Garth Paltridge from the University of Tasmania argued the models were skewed to show warming. They depended on artificially constructed inputs which would just as easily produce a negative result. Another former official of the meteorology bureau, Bill Kininmonth, pointed out the models disregarded the transfer of energy between the poles, a major determinant of climate change, and focused solely on radiation in and out of the atmosphere.

Dr. Roger Beale, the former head of the Australian federal environment department, conceded the IPCC numbers for possible increases in global temperature (the notorious range of 1.4 C degrees to 5.8 C degrees by 2100) were numbers from scenarios, not predictions. He contended that a "probabilist" projection of temperature increase was 2 C degrees. He drew this conclusion from a couple of studies. Dr. Brian Flannery, ExxonMobil's chief environment and safety advisor observed in passing that there was little basis for probabilist numbers and observed that there was a great deal more we needed to know about the science. He cited several leading US institutions as sharing that view.

Professor Bob Carter, a geologist from the University of Townsville, then put the discussion over the IPCC climate change science into an Earth science framework. He considered it suspicious that the IPCC work only used the last 1000 years as the frame of reference. He demonstrated that in a million year timescale we were in one of the few interglacial warming periods and the next expected long term development in climate should be a cooling possibly leading to an ice age. He also produced analysis which showed that the historical pattern is that levels of CO2 in the atmosphere rise after temperature increases, not the other way around, as is supposed in the "official" science of greenhouse warming which presumes increases in carbon dioxide are causing global warming. In passing he debunked the conventional claim that most scientists are agreed on the "official" science......

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


13 April, 2004

Who's to blame for high gas prices?

"Gas prices are at record highs again. Many think oil companies are to blame. In fact, a May 2004 poll showed that 77 percent of Californians believed this to be true. However, this just shows the media have failed to properly inform people about who's causing high gas prices. One thing is certain: oil companies are not to blame for high gas prices. These companies are responsible for producing the gasoline we need. In California, where gas prices are among the nation's highest, the oil industry has been repeatedly investigated to find evidence of "price manipulation" and none has ever been found.

Although there are other causes of high gas prices, such as high gasoline taxes, the primary cause is environmental regulation. For example, environmental regulation has significantly restricted drilling for oil in Alaska and on the continental shelf. More drilling will increase the gasoline supply (up to 10 percent from greater Alaskan drilling alone) and thus lower prices.

Further, there are currently 18 different gasoline formulations in use across the United States, making it much more costly to produce and distribute gasoline. These blends aren't needed due to requirements of automobile engines, nor are they required by oil companies. The blends, including different ones used at different times of the year and in different geographic areas, are forced on Americans by environmental regulations. Among other things, the regulations force refiners to incur greater costs in switching from the production of one blend to another. They also force refiners to produce a more costly "summer blend," which is partially responsible for the current rise in price.

The situation is worst in California, where environmental regulations are strictest. For example, California was one of only three states to require the removal of the octane booster MTBE in January 2004. This reduced the gasoline supply by almost 10 percent...... It's no accident that gas in California is generally 30 to 40 cents above the national average.

From drilling to refining to distribution, environmentalists have done everything they can to raise the price of gasoline. The above raises a question: Why do environmental regulations exist?

One might think they exist to protect consumers, but the evidence doesn't show this. For instance, MTBE was banned based on claims that it causes cancer. However, it has never been shown to be a danger to humans in the amounts to which they might be exposed. Claims that it "causes cancer" are based on experiments in which mice were fed doses almost 70,000 times larger than to what humans might be exposed. No scientist worthy of the title would make claims based on that kind of extrapolation.

Environmentalists are not actually concerned with the well-being of man. Their real motive is to sacrifice man to nature by stopping industrial activity. This is what they explicitly state. For instance, Adam Kolton of the Alaska Wilderness League states, "Drilling the wildest place in America is objectionable no matter how it's packaged." David M. Graber, a research biologist with the National Park Service, states, "We are not interested in the utility of a particular species, or free-flowing river, or ecosystem, to mankind. They have ... more value – to me – than another human body, or a billion of them." "

More here


In her new book The Truth about Hormones, published this week, Parry seeks to provide some 'perspective and sanity' on the discussion about hormones. We know that both natural and manmade chemicals with hormone-like actions are ubiquitous. They are in the water we drink, the air we breathe, the food we eat and 'in the very fabric of our daily lives, in cosmetics, plastics and household chemicals'. These endocrine disruptors - or 'gender benders' as they are commonly called - can block or disrupt the actions of human hormones.

This may sound scary, but as Parry tells me, 'every mouthful of food that we have has some "endocrine disrupting" activity - without harm. Our bodies are evolved to have a large amount of "endocrine disruption" going on'. She explains that plant foods contain at least 12,000 chemicals - produced for structural, attractant, chemoprotective and hormonal purposes. Cabbage contains 49 natural pesticides. Although eating cabbage may inhibit the action of oestrogen, Parry says 'such food has been part of the human diet for centuries and common sense suggests that we need not fear them'.

Some chemicals with oestrogen activity, such as phthalates, were banned in Europe in 2004. However this chemical is 'five orders of magnitude [100,000] times less potent than the oestrogen in your own body, and a hundredfold less potent than the phytoestrogens found in food which you eat all the time'. Parry says: 'We worry about the tiniest levels of hormones, believing they may cause major threat - when we have got walloping levels of hormones onboard internally. It doesn't make sense.'

She finds it rather curious that some natural hormone disruptors are viewed as good while synthetic chemical disruptors are viewed as bad - especially given that 'the [scientific] work that has been done shows that natural and synthetic chemicals turn on exactly the same genes'.

Synthetic chemicals are blamed for everything from the falling age of puberty and declining sperm counts to increasing rates of testicular and breast cancers. But take the age of puberty: falling from around 17 years of age in the mid-nineteenth century to around 11 years of age today. This may seem 'unnatural' to us - that 11-year-old girls are developing breasts, for instance. But as Parry says, 'part of the reason for this is simply that we are better fed and are healthier. It is curious thing, isn't it? People want to say that chemicals are all terrible and horrible, and we are all going to hell in a handcart, but at the same time we are living longer than ever before - which is kind of an inconvenient fact.'.....

And surely there cannot be a biological explanation for the expansion of adolescence in Western societies? Parry recognises this. 'My parents' generation was pretty much out of the nest and working at 16', she says. 'If I get mine out of the nest [she has two adolescent boys] by 25 I'll be lucky - and that's probably how most parents feel. That's partly because of a cultural shift. We want them to stay in education longer - recognising they need this period of adjustment and experimentation at being an adult.'

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


12 April, 2004


"An explosion last week at a British Petroleum (BP) oil and gas refinery in Texas killed fifteen workers and injured seventy others, five critically. As usual, myopic media accounts blamed BP and its allegedly unsafe work conditions – and called for more intense government regulation and fines. Not even BP was willing to assign proper blame for the accident. According to one media account:

[The deadly explosion] has increased scrutiny of the safety record at BP PLC, which has been dogged by a spate of accidents . . . The British oil giant said the cause of the blast was still unknown . . . It will start an internal investigation and will cooperate with outside investigators, including U.S. workplace safety regulators. . . . The incident could lead to increased regulatory scrutiny for BP . . . The company may also face hefty liabilities in any civil suit brought by the victims, family members of dead workers or businesses affected by the blast.

Why is this account myopic? It focuses on penultimate causes and ignores the ultimate cause. It is equivalent to those outrageous PBS-style documentaries which appeared after September 11th – the ones that claimed the World Trade Center towers fell due to faulty construction and safety features.

The alleged “solution” to the Texas blast, according to industry critics, is still more regulation, even though regulation was the ultimate cause of the accident (and many others that have occurred in the industry). Fact: not a single new oil and gas refinery has been built in the U.S. since 1976; the last one built was in Garyville, Louisiana that year. Worse, today there are 54% fewer oil and gas refineries in the U.S. (149) than there were in 1981 (321). Why? Not only have environmentalists lobbied government to block new refinery construction; they’ve also lobbied to have refineries decommissioned. Moreover, environmental regulations have materially raised the cost of operating refineries, making many of them unprofitable. It has been estimated that today it would take seven years, 800 permits and $2.5 billion to build a new refinery; nearly half of that cost is due entirely to the arbitrary and unnecessary costs imposed by environmentalists and their obstructionism. The National Petrochemical and Refiners Association reports that environmentalist-related costs have totaled $47 billion over the past decade; that’s enough to have built 19 new refineries (even at today’s bloated cost of $2.5 billion per unit), or 13% more refineries than exist in the U.S. today. ......

How do these facts relate to accidents, deaths and injuries at refineries? A steadily-declining number of refineries, coupled with an ever-growing demand for the products of refineries, means companies must push their plants to the limit; many today operate at 95% of capacity, well above the norm for industry in general. That leaves little time for the maintenance, repair or upgrade of existing plants. This necessarily leads, in turn, to less-safe equipment and less-safe operations. Obviously, more regulation and more fines cannot possibly solve this problem. They caused it. The restraint we need today is not restraint on oil companies (let alone more restraint); that approach has been tried – and it’s been both deadly and economically costly. What we need is restraint on the destructive environmentalists and their lap-dogs at the EPA. If lawsuits are to be filed and fines imposed, let them be filed and imposed on the real enemies of production and safety: the environmentalists.

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The hot air convention: Kyoto

"The latest ceremony of signing the Kyoto Protocol at the UN, and the taking of yet another opportunity to attack the US (and Australia) for not signing it too, was a pretty limp affair. Some of the UN officials, such as Kofi Annan and the High Commissioner for Refugees, seem to have had more important personal matters on their minds.

The missing chairs at the ceremony included those of the developing nations, some of whom are rapidly joining the league of major polluters; but who are exempt from Kyoto. China, just getting into her stride as a leading world manufacturing power, already equals Europe as a polluter. But there is not a word of reproof.

For one thing, she would be no more likely to accept checks on her behaviour here than in any other of her activities, and would resist - successfully - any proposals for inspection, or enforcement. Yet the China lobby in the West isn't going to speak out and risk some financial penalty from Beijing, while our Greens are being similarly circumspect.

India, without any fanfare, is expanding at a remarkable rate. I have just seen a plan to mass-produce cars in India for $6,000 a car, then later, for $2,500 a car - which should prepare us for some really hard-core pollution.

But Kyoto wasn't supposed to be about seriously tackling pollution worldwide. It was about attacking the United States, while the Left could attack capitalism. Not industrialism, or the car industry, or urbanisation - for these vital parts of the problem are off-limits, just as are the breakneck industrialisation and transport plans of China, India, and possibly Brazil.

It is tragic that such momentous issues should be politicised and truncated in this way. The Greens - both opportunistic and pusillanimous - have failed the test of showing the way, or even of explaining the issues. Not that the case for global warming has been established.

As Andrew Bolt concluded (Melbourne Herald Sun, February 25), having gone through the arguments and considerations put forward in favour of there being an unmistakable, open-ended and world-wide process of global warming in train: that case has not been made out".



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


11 April, 2004

Land for Food

(Post lifted from Cafe Hayek. I couldn't be bothered writing anything on this nonsense myself seeing that the world's chronic agricultural problem is food SURPLUSES)

In an earlier post, I commented on the fear that we are overcultivating the earth, suggesting that such fears are exaggerated. Here's the way the worriers word it:
More land was converted to agriculture since 1945 than in the 18th and 19th centuries combined.
That does sound scary. It seems alarming. But I have no idea if it is or it isn't. I'm also not sure how we could know such a thing. Who gathered that data from the 1700s? I did finally find some recent data from the UN, here. According to these data, arable land and permanent land under cultivation (which appears to be equal to all land that is cropped) has risen 13% since 1961, from 1.366 billion hectares, to 1.541 billion hectares. Is that alarming? I report. You decide. You can go here and go country by country or region by region. In the US, for example, arable land has declined from 182 million hectares to 178 million hectares.

Is the World Using Up Its Resources?

One of my readers also sent in the following thoughts:

Recently newspapers carried several reports about a new United Nations study with the headline "Two-Thirds of World's Resources `Used Up'" . The report warns that humans are living beyond their means:

* More land has been claimed for agriculture in last 60 years than in the 18th and 19th centuries.
* Human water consumption has doubled in last 40 years, using 40% of all available freshwater.
* Fishing stocks are overharvested.
* Mangroves and coral reefs have been badly degraded.

This study parallels other popular books about the depletion of oil, such as Paul Robert's book The End of Oil, Kenneth Deffeyes' book Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage and David Goodstein's Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil. To solve this world resource shortage, governments and even corporations such as Duke Energy, have recently proposed a "carbon tax" or global warming tax. But are these reports true? Are resources static? Consider the following:

* In 1920 600,000 acres of land in the U.S. were covered by forests; in 1994 740,000 acres were covered by forests according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a 23% increase (see Dunn & Kinney cited below).

* The area planted in trees in the U.S. increased by 2000 percent from 1930 to 1991; Canada up 28% from 1976-1988; Western Europe up 143% from 1950 to 1991; Mediterranean Europe up 87% from 1950 to 1991; USSR up 4,540,000 hectares a year in the 1980's; Turkey up 82,000 a year in 1980's; and South Africa up 63,000 hectares a year in the 1980's (according to reliable statistics summarized in by Dunn & Kinney, cited below).

* One cubic mile of continental crust contains the following percentage of world annual demand: aluminum 1,010,563,000 tons or 5,550% of world annual demand; Iron 633,932,00 tons or 90%; magnesium 259,788,000 or 4,600%; Potash 314,000 tons or 1,290%, silica 7,463,000,000 or 7,800% (see Dunn & Kinney, p. 139 cited below). There are sufficient resources in just one cubic mile of the earth to sustain it for the foreseeable future.

* The price of oil is not based on any shortage but the amount that is extracted from the earth relative to demand (i.e., supply & demand).

* There is no shortage of water for the earth's ecology relative to the vast amount of water in the oceans and even freshwater. Much of the indigenous water in urban areas flows to the sea without being captured by the environment or humans. Even in Southern California only about 20% of water is used for the essentials of living (e.g., cooking, drinking, industry), as most of the remainder goes back into the man-made green environment of lawns, gardens, golf courses, and settlement basins (see Pincetl below).

* Fish aren't being over-harvested as much as there are no firm property rights for the fishing industry, so the resource may be exploited.

For a more balanced view of the global resource problem see TCS

Sources: James R. Dunn, John E. Kinney, Conservative Environmentalism: Reassesing the Means, Redefining the Ends (Quorum, 1996)
Stephanie Pincetl, Water in California, Is it really scarce? U.C.L.A., unpublished.

UN: The sky is falling : "Malthusian alarmism is back in the news again, with the United Nations Environment Program claiming on Wednesday that humanity has already used up two-thirds of the world's resources. 'They're at it again. This is simply the latest in a series of doom-mongering underestimates of resources coupled with a stubborn refusal to recognize the role of human ingenuity in solving such problems,' said CEI Senior Fellow Iain Murray. Previous examples include the Club of Rome's 1970 screed The Limits to Growth and Paul Ehrlich's prediction of massive starvation, The Population Bomb."


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


10 April, 2004


"Unlike the burning of fossil fuels, nuclear power does not emit carbon dioxide. Fears about global warming have raised interest in nuclear power, with the government's chief scientific adviser Sir David King recently giving support to an expansion of nuclear on the basis that it is 'carbon-free'. He called for more investment in nuclear fusion research, and said that a new generation of existing fission technologies should be an 'option'.

But while politicians are comfortable talking about nuclear power as an option, they are less happy about it as a solution. Nuclear power does not fit easily into an environmental worldview. So long as global warming is understood as a morality tale about the evils of industrialisation there is little hope that it will inspire a nuclear renaissance......

The refusal to discuss nuclear power shows up the endless consultation and 'public participation' initiatives as the worthless exercises they really are. The Committee on Radioactive Waste Management, whose latest consultation prompted in part the most recent round of discussion, is obsessed with transparency and openness. Although more openness sounds like it could only be a good thing, in practice it leads to a devaluing of expert judgement for fear of alienating the public. Arriving at a conclusion is subordinated to a process of inclusiveness. Consultations appear to set up a self-sustaining chain reaction, with each round leading to recommendations for a further, grander round.....

It is easy to see how the nuclear industry found itself in this mess. In the 1980s and 90s the industry found that putting forward scientifically sound arguments about safety and efficiency was not sufficient to make its case, at a time when environmentalist ideas were growing. As a result of this experience NIREX shifted the focus of its research away from physics and geology toward sociology. It drew the conclusion that an expert consensus that does not carry public acceptance is practically useless, and so started to elevate inclusion over science.

Unfortunately consensus cannot be forged using the tools of inclusion - focus groups, citizen's juries or even public consultations. These forms of debate are unable to contain a real clash of ideas - unlike public political debate, they are suitable only for small-scale fudges, accommodations and adjustments. The marginalisation of science makes consensus harder still - with fewer objective facts more is left to subjective disagreement.......

The idea that nuclear power has a role to play in reducing greenhouse emissions makes sense only if we disregard the mythic dimension of the global warming discourse. Science has established that rising concentrations of greenhouse gases are likely to lead to warmer temperatures. The 'myth of global warming', however, goes beyond those facts, interpreting them through a story of man's arrogant attempts at mastery leading to a revenge of nature. There is no place for nuclear power as a hero in this myth. Rather, nuclear power is the original villain - the hi-tech, scientific, large-scale solution to economic development.

Seen in this light it is apparent that while a higher profile for global warming might give nuclear power a boost, in the end it will hold nuclear energy back. A substantial revival of nuclear power could only occur if the case was made for science and technology contributing to social progress. Without that case being made nuclear technologies will remain hedged in with restrictions, and society will be unable to realise their potential".

More here


Amusing that one Greenie scare (the danger of global warming) could knock off another Greenie scare (the dangers of nuclear power)

If there was one thing that used to be crystal clear to any environmentalist, it was that nuclear energy was the deadliest threat this planet faced. That's why Dick Gregory pledged at a huge anti-nuke demonstration in 1979 that he would eat no solid food until all nuclear plants in the U.S. were shut down. Mr. Gregory may be getting hungry.

But it's time for the rest of us to drop that hostility to nuclear power. It's increasingly clear that the biggest environmental threat we face is actually global warming, and that leads to a corollary: nuclear energy is green. Nuclear power, in contrast with other sources, produces no greenhouse gases. So President Bush's overall environmental policy gives me the shivers, but he's right to push ahead for nuclear energy. There haven't been any successful orders for new nuclear plants since 1973, but several proposals for new plants are now moving ahead - and that's good for the world we live in. Global energy demand will rise 60 percent over the next 25 years, according to the International Energy Agency, and nuclear power is the cleanest and best bet to fill that gap.

Solar power is a disappointment, still accounting for only about one-fifth of 1 percent of the nation's electricity and costing about five times as much as other sources. Wind is promising, for its costs have fallen 80 percent, but it suffers from one big problem: wind doesn't blow all the time. It's difficult to rely upon a source that comes and goes. In contrast, nuclear energy already makes up 20 percent of America's power, not to mention 75 percent of France's.

A sensible energy plan must encourage conservation - far more than Mr. Bush's plans do - and promote things like hybrid vehicles and hydrogen fuel cells. But for now, nuclear power is the only source that doesn't contribute to global warming and that can quickly become a mainstay of the grid.

Is it safe? No, not entirely. Three Mile Island and Chernobyl demonstrated that, and there are also risks from terrorist attacks. Then again, the world now has a half-century of experience with nuclear power plants, 440 of them around the world, and they have proved safer so far than the alternatives. America's biggest power source is now coal, which kills about 25,000 people a year through soot in the air. To put it another way, nuclear energy seems much safer than our dependency on coal, which kills more than 60 people every day. Moreover, nuclear technology has become far safer over the years. The future may belong to pebble-bed reactors, a new design that promises to be both highly efficient and incapable of a meltdown.

Radioactive wastes are a challenge. But burdening future generations with nuclear wastes in deep shafts is probably more reasonable than burdening them with a warmer world in which Manhattan is submerged under 20 feet of water......

More here

Dispelling the myths about nuclear power: "The benefits of nuclear energy are real, while the risks are mostly hypothetical. When decisions are made concerning future sources of electric power in the United States, facts, not fear, should be the basis for appraising the nuclear industry's place in the mix, says Larry Foulke, the immediate past president of the American Nuclear Society, and H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis. The events at Three Mile Island (TMI) were serious. However, rather than proving nuclear power plants are inordinately dangerous, TMI showed that redundant safety measures built into the reactor worked, say Foulke and Burnett ..."


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


9 April, 2004


Its all they've got

"Ad hominem" arguments say that something is true or false because of the person who said it. So if Hitler said vegetarianism makes you healthier (which he in fact did say) then that proves that vegetarianism does not make you healthier. Such arguments constitute one of the famous "informal fallacies" of elementary logic and are of no intellectual worth whatever. For an argument to be of any scholarly merit it has to look at the evidence for or against the proposition, not at who put forward the proposition. So note in the article below how often an oil company (oil companies are only a tiny step below Hitler for Leftists) is associated with the anti-Kyoto argument. An oil company is in fact the very first thing mentioned. And also note that no mention is made of any ulterior motive that pro-Kyoto spokesmen might have (such as the need for government research grants).

And note the contrast in that the pro-Kyoto conference is described as sponsored by "U.S. philanthropic foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts" -- without mentioning how Left-leaning that organization is!.

But perhaps most amusing is that the headline claims that the anti-Kyoto group are arguing against "facts" -- and then, although the article is a long one, it proceeds to give not a single one of such "facts"! All it reports are assertions. I have marked the "ad hominem" bits in red.

Kyoto Sceptics Try to Debunk Global Warming Facts

"A major oil producer ExxonMobil has sponsored a seminar featuring leading Australian and global sceptics disputing the science behind the Kyoto Treaty, ahead of two important international conferences this week backing the need for substantial reductions in greenhouse emissions.

Richard Dennis, the Deputy Director of the Canberra-based think tank The Australia Institute, dismissed the ExxonMobil-sponsored seminar in Parliament House on Monday as designed ''to muddy the waters'' over climate science in the eyes of key decision makers. ''The explicit strategic objective of these companies is not to win this debate but to postpone it ... For people who want to get another 10 or 20 years benefits out of existing policy setting then the easiest way to go about that is to sound entirely rational saying that we need more precision,'' he said.

Organiser of the seminar Alan Oxley, chairman of the pro-free trade Australian APEC Study Centre at Monash University in Melbourne, described the sceptics' seminar as a ''reality check'' on last week's announcement by Australian state governments that they would bypass the national government and their own national system to regulate and trade greenhouse gas emissions. Co-sponsoring the seminar were Xstrata Coal, which operates over 30 coal mines in Australia and South Africa, and Tech Central Station (TCS), a conservative U.S. commentary website which is published and funded by the Republican aligned lobbying firm DCI Group and its clients. Oxley hosts the Asia-Pacific pages of TCS. While Oxley emphasized the importance of his seminar, other than the speakers, it only managed to attract approximately 40 participants.

Before Russia ratified the Kyoto Treaty late last year bringing it into effect this February, critics complained that it should be opposed because it excluded developing countries such as India and China. China is the world's second largest source of greenhouse gases - the main cause of global warming and the International Energy Agency in Paris predicts that the increase in greenhouse gas emissions from 2000 to 2030 in China alone will nearly equal the increase from the entire industrialised world.

Oxley is now seeking to woo developing countries as potential allies in an effort to ensure the Kyoto Treaty lapses at the end of the first implementation period in 2012. In a backgrounder for the conference Oxley argued that the treaty ''will constrain efforts of governments in the developing world to raise living standards.''

The Kyoto Treaty came into force on Feb. 16, seven years after it was agreed. The accord requires countries to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Some 141 countries, accounting for 55 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, have ratified the treaty, which pledges to cut these emissions by 5.2 percent by 2012.

But the world's top polluter - the U.S. - has not signed up to the treaty and neither has Australia. Prime Minister John Howard said the international protocol would undermine the country's industries with ''no environmental gain to Australia''. ''Were Australia to ratify, investment would go to those countries with no greenhouse restrictions,'' Howard said on the website of the Office of the Prime Minister.

The U.S. government's chief climate change negotiator, Harlan Watson dismissed the Kyoto agreement as too inflexible at the seminar. ''It's certainly not something the United States is going to be willing to go forward with, nor do we believe a number of large developing countries, including India and China (will do so)'', he told the 'Australian Financial Review' daily.

While a special fund, the Clean Development Mechanism, has been established to finance projects that reduce greenhouse emissions in developing countries, Oxley complains that ''the approval process will deter investment and the conditions on projects (controlled by donors) will make them less attractive to developing countries than either ordinary foreign investment or normal aid projects.''

The Australia Institute's Denniss dismisses this argument. ''If there is a problem with the approval process then he should identify how to simplify it. Even if his concerns are valid that doesn't mean that it's not going to work,'' he told IPS.

While many of the presenters at Oxley's conference were critical of the science underpinning the Kyoto Treaty, scientist John Zillman defended the quality of the process and the integrity of its projections which government negotiators drew upon in the formulation of the Kyoto Treaty. Zillman, who for a decade was Australia's lead negotiator to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change advising governments on climate science, describes himself as being ''on the conservative side of the IPCC consensus'' estimate. He said that he was ''not aware of any other mechanism with anything like the same pressures for objectivity. So my answer is that the IPCC assessments are the most reliable source of information on climate change that yet exists.'' Zillman also expressed his concern that in recent years the work of the IPCC had been hampered by a range of factors including some governments ''representing their political agendas as scientific argument'' and individuals identified as lead authors being co-opted to review comments that were based ''much more on ideology than science''.

On Wednesday a conference in Melbourne will hear from British scientists emphasizing the need for major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of the century. A third conference will be held in Sydney on Thursday and Friday with support from the major U.S. philanthropic foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts and with the involvement of environment departments from both Australia and New Zealand.

Dennis argues the ExxonMobil-sponsored seminar was designed to shield the Australian government from public criticism expected to emerge from participants at the other conferences later this week. ''The Australian government is pretty lonely in the climate change debate ... and there aren't many people who are passionately in favour of banging out more emissions into the atmosphere. So I think the government just needs a little bit of cover,'' he said. While the manager of ExxonMobil's Science, Strategy and Programs, Brian Flannery, acknowledged that the climate science demonstrates ''the existence of risk that may be serious for society and ecosystems'' he argued that the most appropriate action was to pursue further climate research ''to improve the understanding of risks.''

It is an argument that Denniss has little time for. ''Let's face it what money market trader can predict interest rates to four decimal places in fifty years time. None. Does this mean we don't employ monetary policy today? Of course not. You make decisions based on the available information,'' he said. ''Yet when it comes to something like climate change, apparently until we know what the weather is going to be like on Tuesday, Mar. 16, 2074 the climate change sceptics think it would be irrational for governments to act,'' he said."



Paul Volcker's report last week on the oil-for-food scandal uncovered shocking incompetence and venality at the United Nations. But if Congress really wants to reform the agency, the place to start is the World Health Organization (WHO), which, in the latest absurdity, has embarked on a campaign to drive baby formula underground -- and, eventually, off the face of the earth. The big losers if the WHO is successful will, of course, be the world's poor -- the same victims of WHO blunders in fighting HIV/AIDS and malaria.

With AIDS, the WHO got a black eye for placing 18 Indian-made ripoff medicines on its list of approved drugs. Those medicines turned out to be uncertified copies of the patented HIV drugs from which they were copied. With malaria, the WHO has refused to encourage the use of DDT and other proven insecticides and has engaged in what a group of scientists, writing in The Lancet, called "medical malpractice" in its use of a poor regime of anti-malarial drugs.

A U.N. agency that was set up in 1948, the WHO, more and more, has come under the influence of radical health and environmental activists, who push a bitterly anti-enterprise ideology. Congress should insist that the WHO stick to the basics. Instead, having botched campaigns against the two worst epidemics in the world, the WHO, incredibly, is focusing its attention on the bottle-feeding of infants.

You probably remember the infant-formula imbroglio -- a real blast from the left-wing past. Promoters of breast-feeding managed to smear the use of healthy formula to nourish babies and discourage marketing of bottle-feeding products. Now, breasts are back.

In January, the WHO recommended the adoption of an extreme anti-bottle-feeding resolution at the 57th World Health Assembly -- the WHO's annual meeting, set for mid-May in Geneva. The immediate objective of the resolution is to force infant-formula packages to carry warning labels akin to those on cigarettes or liquor. The ultimate goal is to scare mothers into abandoning bottle-feeding.

There's a deep irony here. The WHO wants to discourage the use of baby formula, whose efficacy and safety have been established over many decades -- while at the same time, the WHO has been approving untested anti-AIDS drugs. Certainly, there is no questioning the benefits of breast-feeding. But many women lack the time or, in some cases, the health to feed their babies from their own breasts. For them, infant formula is an excellent substitute. For example, if a woman wants to pursue an active career outside the home, breast-feeding is often impractical. Infant formula provides the freedom that many women want, and deserve. Trying to make formula anathema is to thrust such women back to the Dark Ages. This question of choice for women is especially compelling in developing nations, where economies are beginning to draw females, as well as males, into the work force in key positions.

But radicals advocate a double standard for the poor -- in feeding babies as well as in HIV therapy.

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


8 April, 2004


Is this a world-first? (Anything rather than build more power stations)

"Electric hot water systems will be banned in new homes under a State Government plan to relieve Queensland's beleaguered electricity network. New dwellings will have to opt for more costly but more energy efficient gas, solar or heat pump systems. Some building groups claim it could add thousands of dollars to the cost of building a new home at a time when affordability is slumping.....

Research by the Government has identified hot water as the biggest energy user in homes, responsible for 34 per cent of household electricity consumption. A series of reviews has found Energex and Ergon struggle to meet current demands and cannot cope in summer when air-conditioning use soars. The Government estimates that if 35,000 houses were built in Queensland during the next 25 years the new hot water systems would be the equivalent of taking 250,000 cars off the road or a 17 million tonne carbon reduction.....

But the Master Builders says some natural gas options cost up to twice as much in running costs over a 10-year period and gas was not widely available in areas where new homes were built. "No matter what option you choose there will be an increase in cost," Master Builders housing director Peter Osterhage said.

More here


Excerpt from comments by Tim Worstall at Tech Central

So far we have a report detailing a problem, we understand what the root of the problem is, and I've still not told you what is shocking about it. It's that this UN report takes the economically sensible path to the solution. Yes, I know, almost unbelievable isn't it? Instead of taking the social route they advocate taking the private one, to my utter consternation, meaning that I may have to regard at least part of that corrupt and grubby organization as being useful.

There are four alternative routes to a solution offered, one of them described thusly:

More specifically, in Global Orchestration trade barriers are eliminated, distorting subsidies are removed, and a major emphasis is placed on eliminating poverty and hunger.

That is, that environmental degradation would be best reduced by more trade, more economic growth and less taxation and interference by Governments. It's almost as if these people have been reading Iain Murray of these pages or something, actually agreeing with the point that free market environmentalism actually works, indeed, works better than the alternatives.

A few more almost random quotes to show they way they are thinking:

....[a]wide range of opportunities exists to influence human behavior to address this challenge in the form of economic and financial instruments. Some of them establish markets; others work through the monetary and financial interests of the targeted social actors; still others affect relative prices.

Elimination of subsidies that promote excessive use of ecosystem services

Greater use of economic instruments and market-based approaches in the management of ecosystem services

Payment for ecosystem services

Mechanisms to enable consumer preferences to be expressed through markets

Now that's what I call shocking and almost unbelievable, that 1,300 scientists from 95 countries, working under the auspices of the United Nations, seem to have drunk the free market Kool-Aid. The end result of this years-long investigation is that us free market tree hugger and greenie types are actually correct in our contention that it is not the presence of markets, or the failure of markets, that leads to the devastation, it is the absence of markets. Just as we have had to, in centuries gone by, work out a system of laws that allows markets to flourish, thereby leading to the most efficient usage of resources, so now the task is to do the same for those areas of life where there are no markets. In water, pollution, fishing quotas, tropical forestry, in, in fact, all those sectors where we face the Tragedy of the Commons.

Many of us writers here at TCS have said so before, there now being a terrible temptation to say "we told you so", but I really don't think that any one of us ever believed that the United Nations would come out and say it. We now actually have a sensible framework for how to solve these problems, let's get to it, eh?


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


7 April, 2004


No day goes by without another story regarding global warming, and the latest news has scientists throughout the world scratching their heads about climate change. A team of scientists reports in the prestigious journal Science that dandruff levels in the atmosphere are surprisingly high, and the load of biological aerosols from flaking skin, fur, and pollen can make up between 25% and 80% of the aerosols in the atmosphere. These aerosols are important building blocks for clouds, and clouds remain the greatest mystery in the global warming debate. If our future has more high clouds, any greenhouse warming will be amplified, but if our future has more low clouds, their ability to reflect away solar radiation will dampen any warming caused by elevated concentrations of greenhouse gases. Clouds are widely recognized to be the wild cards in the greenhouse debate, and at present, clouds are notoriously poorly represented in numerical models of climate. The latest news about dandruff has implications for future clouds, and the results from the German team mean more uncertainty in predicting the future climate.

In 1990, concern over global warming prompted the United Nations to publish its first major scientific assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Almost all of that assessment dealt with the climate impact of elevated atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Only two years later, the IPCC released an amended report that included the effects of sulfate aerosols, which come from fossil fuel burning, and once in the atmosphere, reflect sunlight, brighten clouds, and make clouds last longer. Sulfates have a cooling effect that must be considered in predicting future temperatures of the Earth. By 1995, the IPCC scientific assessment was expanded to include the global and regional climatic effects of various greenhouse gases, stratospheric ozone, tropospheric ozone, sulfate aerosols, fossil fuel soot, biomass burning, mineral aerosols, and variations in solar output. The IPCC scientists added black carbon, organic carbon, jet contrails, and land-use changes to the list in 2000. This all lead Dr. James Hansen, a prominent greenhouse scientist with NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, to write in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences "The forcings that drive long-term climate change are not known with an accuracy sufficient to define future climate changes."

The global warming scientific debate at times seems to be a squabble regarding how quickly the Earth is warming (or if it is warming at all), where the warming is occurring, the time of year of any warming, whether the warming is good or bad, or most importantly, whether policy actions would have any impact on the warming. The latest report from the German scientists about dandruff, fur, and pollen is a reminder that our knowledge of controls on the climate system is far from complete, and as we see in the IPCC reports, new "forcings" of climate are added in each major assessment. Even if we had perfect temperature records of the Earth and numerical models that accurately simulated the climate system, we do not know enough about how the various "forcings" will impact the climate system over the next 50 to 100 years.

We are all itching to know what will happen to the climate system over the next century, and year after year, scientists make discoveries that further complicate predicting climate into the future.

More here

Can We Afford to Squander Our Resources Through Our Reliance on Junk Science?

Asbestos and Alar are only two of many instances where vast sums were spent on hypothetical risk while science was ignored.

In the past we used our natural resources freely. We took great pride in our ability to convert resources into products with a direct benefit to the public. We turned trees into houses, coal and iron into automobiles. Today we hear that we must stop using our economic resources. Scale back! Harvest fewer trees. Drill fewer oil wells. Use less fertilizer. Build no new power plants.

Encourage the government to buy back land it once offered to its people, even though the government already owns one third of our land base.

Clearly the future of this nation depends on the proper and wise use of all our resources. How do we distinguish between the proper use, the misuse or the failure to use our resources.

A few years back EPA caused a national panic by saying that exposure to a single fiber of asbestos would cause children to have lung cancer. Congress appropriated money to test schools, and school districts spent 200 billion dollars to rid their buildings of asbestos.

Tests before the removal showed about .0001 fibers per cubic centimeter in the air. After the removal, tests showed several hundred fibers per cubic centimeter. Now that the money is spent, the EPA tacitly admits what science panels in both England and Canada had already concluded; asbestos in buildings was not a health hazard. However the asbestos left loose after the removal may well be dangerous. Why did we spend this money in this way? One answer is that we practice bad science when it comes to risk assessment, and too much public policy is made by headlines.

We may well squander ten times that amount on technically unsupportable global warming assumptions being pressed upon us by a scientific community receiving $4 billion a year to prove the unprovable, the United Nations wishing to expand its power, big business desiring to drive small business out of business, foreign nations desiring to shackle our economy, environmental zealots wishing to undermine our capitalistic economy and a co-conspiring news media which thrives on all manufactured crisis.

The management of all our resources-- natural, financial, human -- must be undertaken with an understanding that they are limited, and our decision to spend them must be better researched and better understood. Money already spent on asbestos removal can not be spent on new classrooms.

The dilemma we face does not arise from any lack of understanding of industry. The nation's attention is being diverted from concerns of research, management and production. When we do discuss expanded production of any kind, we hear immediately from a vocal minority who oppose any economic growth, especially if it is anywhere near their backyard.

Obviously some things should not be built, but in our personal experience we can think of few cases when a proposed factory, generating plant, waste facility, commercial complex, housing development, road or recreational facility has not produced a visible, sophisticated, and often effective opposition.

We also see farmers and farming coming under attack from some of these same elements -- whether it is a demand for the unlimited preservation or wetlands, the banning of pesticides and fertilizers, creeping residential development bringing regulations against dust and noise, or the animal rights movement. Any farmer who is paying attention has a right to be concerned; but his concern had better lead to some action.

We are not against wetlands or in favor of dust and noise. We believe in the regulation or our natural resources. We don't think anyone has the right to spray poison anywhere he likes, and we acknowledge the need for community involvement. What we are concerned about, however, is how in this climate of the politicization of trivia, we make decisions about our resources. How do we conduct the debate that leads to public policy and law? The answer we fear is "not very well."

We talked about asbestos and the EPA. Let us use an older example, one we all know: the controversy over Alar which led to its removal from the market. Alar was not initially banned by the government. It was not found by any scientific body conclusively to be harmful. And yet it was forced off the market by a well organized well financed scare campaign which cost apple growers and others millions of dollars. This happened at the sad beginning of our now flawed political process which says "the focused concerns of a minority will always prevail over the unfocused concerns of the majority." Well organized, well financed groups with a focused agenda are able to use the media to scare the wits out of an uninformed public, most of whom learn their science from television's talking heads.

Asbestos and Alar are only two of many instances where vast sums were spent on hypothetical risk while science was ignored. More and more public policy is decided this way. The scare and reaction method has become a staple of fund raising and a primary element of decision making in this country.

This is how the public learns of hazards of pesticides. Where does it learn about insect-borne diseases which are prevented or the food that is saved from pests to feed millions of people? Any cause that involves moral righteousness and impending disaster can be used to raise large sums of money. Saving almost anything -- rain forests, seals or an endangered species -- is very effective in raising money.

Many advocacy groups now have multi-million dollar annual budgets and beautiful new headquarters in New York, Washington and San Francisco. Last year the top 12 environmental groups alone took in $2 Billion in revenue.......

The politics of trivia are not cheap; morally righteous disputes sap our energy. Washing oil-soaked birds, scrubbing rocks and curb side recycling may make us feel better, but is it worthwhile? Saving the world from Radon, Asbestos, arsenic, ozone and CO2 is great for raising funds, but what is the real cost to the nation's industry? Wetlands, wilderness and unobstructed views are vital to us all, but where, how much and at what cost?

If we are to solve our dilemma, we must address each of its dimensions: misinformation, government by unelected special interests. a willingness to ignore science, and the myth that the imagined needs of raw nature stand as equals to the needs of mankind. Only then will we assure that the dilemma, the loss of economic strength, will not prevent us from using our resources to insure survival of our democratic society, and America's leadership in the world.

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


6 April, 2004


"A spike in the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere between 2001 and 2003 appears to be a temporary phenomenon and apparently does not indicate a quickening build-up of the gas in the atmosphere, according to an analysis by NOAA climate experts. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is released into the atmosphere by the burning of wood, coal, oil and gas. Increases in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere are of special interest to scientists because carbon dioxide is a significant heat-trapping greenhouse gas.

As measured in air samples collected from more than 60 sites in the NOAA Global Cooperative Observing Network, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere increased by nearly 5 parts per million (ppm) between 2001 and 2003. The increase in 2002 was 2.43 ppm; the increase in 2003 was 2.30 ppm. In other words, more than two additional carbon-dioxide molecules were added to each million molecules of air each year during that period. [Wow! Two in a million! That's really got me worried!]. The annual increase was higher than the long-term average annual CO2 increase of approximately 1.5 ppm......

However, according to David Hofmann, director of the NOAA Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., the rate of carbon-dioxide increase returned to the long-term average level of about 1.5 ppm per year in 2004, indicating that the temporary fluctuation was probably due to changes in the natural processes that remove CO2 from the atmosphere......

Most of the variability in the year-to-year CO2 uptake is related to natural processes, including droughts and fires as well as such factors as global temperatures, rainfall amounts and volcanic eruptions.

Understanding these processes is key to forecasting annual CO2 increases, thus providing important information for future CO2 management. NOAA's Carbon Cycle Research Program, which includes surface-, ocean- and space-based measurements of CO2 and other important atmospheric gases, is aimed at developing a comprehensive picture of how CO2 is stored and released. The carbon-cycle studies are a part of NOAA's Climate Program, an integral part of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program.

"Reducing scientific uncertainties of carbon sources and sinks is a priority for the Climate Change Science Program.... Atmospheric CO2 levels have increased from about 315 ppm in 1958 to 378 ppm at the end of 2004, .....[And now comes the politically correct dogmatism that totally ignores the lack of full understanding so far mentioned:] which means human activities have increased the concentration of atmospheric CO2 by 100 ppm or 36 percent."

More here

The Big Business of Climate Change Research

In the climate change debate, or more generally for any environmental issue, there exists a widespread assumption that funds provided by "big business" are used to promote falsehoods, while funds going to environmental organizations represent the grassroots will of the people. The people are like David going up against an industrial Goliath, hoping to spread truth in the face of insurmountable odds. There is little doubt that the vast majority of the citizens who donate to environmental causes view the situation in this way. But a new report released today by the Marshall Institute, a Washington-based science policy group, looks at the major donors to environmental groups for climate-related activities. It finds that the vast majority of those donors represent and promote left-leaning causes.

Historically, those causes often involve lobbying Congress to promote a specific agenda. A startling example of this is the recent report of a former officer of the Pew Charitable Trusts admitting that Pew heavily funded a number of private interests to make it look like there was a grassroots movement in favor of campaign finance reform, which was later passed by Congress.

A wide variety of charitable foundations fund organizations whose very existence depends upon environmental crises. Does anyone really believe that organizations such as Environmental Defense, Natural Resources Defense Council, and World Resources Institute would breathe a collective sigh of relief if the balance of evidence were to show that global warming was going to be relatively small, benign, and even beneficial?

I know at least two climate scientists that have received MacArthur Fellowship "genius grants", large no-strings-attached monetary awards, for their work on raising awareness of the threat posed by climate change. I wonder if there will ever be a MacArthur Fellowship for any researcher that finds evidence for a much reduced threat to humanity from human-induced climate change?

While new environmental regulations might be an annoyance for private industry, the fact is that the bulk of any new environmental-related costs to those industries are simply passed on to the public through more expensive goods and services. In contrast, spearheading environmental issues is the only reason for the existence of environmental organizations. Since all organizations have self-preservation as their number one priority, it is the environmental groups that are the most vulnerable to a loss of public interest, and thus funding. Environmental awareness is a luxury of the world's wealthiest countries, and its funding depends on (often apocalyptic) fear. An electric utility, in contrast, will continue to experience a demand for electricity (even from the homes of environmentalists) no matter what environmental regulations are passed by congress that affect that utility.

In my experience, industry is reluctant to fund environmental research in support of their views, deferring instead to the federal government to fund what is, one hopes, a balanced and impartial environmental research program. The U.S. government funds a whopping $2 billion per year in climate-related research.

While the distribution of these funds to universities and private companies might be expected to be policy-neutral, the real situation isn't quite so simple. Government agencies that disperse research funds have an infrastructure that depends upon congressional support for their existence. Their level of continued support depends upon the level of the threat perceived by the public, which then justifies the expenditure of tax dollars.

I'm not questioning the potential threat that climate change presents -- it is indeed an issue worthy of the investment. I am questioning, however, the perception that environmental organizations, and federal funding, are policy- and politically-neutral.

Someone once said, it's not a matter of who is biased (because everyone is) the real question is, which bias is the best bias to be biased with? I'm thankful that we have the freedom which allows the open exchange of ideas, and the competition between alternative philosophies and worldviews. The more money we spend on specific environmental threats, the less there is to devote to other issues. Therefore funding decisions must be based upon well informed citizens and policymakers. But let's not be naive about unbiased motives. They simply do not exist.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


5 April, 2004


A conservative legal foundation filed twin federal lawsuits Wednesday challenging federal protections for 42 species, 15 of which live only in shallow seasonal pools across much of California and in far southern Oregon. The Pacific Legal Foundation says the critical habitat designations that together cover 1.5 million acres in 42 counties drive up housing costs and taxes and harm private property rights without doing much to save species.

The suits, filed simultaneously in Fresno and Sacramento federal courts on behalf of building and agriculture associations, also challenge critical habitat designations for 27 other species, 21 of which are rare plants. The suits claim the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's designations are haphazard and impose "huge social and economic costs" on property owners. The Sacramento-based legal foundation has filed other suits challenging what it says are flawed Endangered Species Act protections for hundreds of species.

Center for Biological Diversity policy director Kieran Suckling responded that research shows species with designated critical habitat are twice as likely to recover. He accused the foundation of shopping for a conservative judge by filing similar suits in two federal courts.

The critical habitat provisions in particular have been criticized by the Bush administration and others who say changes are needed in the Endangered Species Act. The wildlife service itself has said the habitat designations often are of minimal value to protecting species. The designations guide projects that involve federal funds, but don't bar development or other environmental damage. The regulatory requirements for most private property owners are no greater than under the Endangered Species Act itself, which prohibits the killing or removal of a protected species or its habitat. But foundation attorney Reed Hopper said the designation gives the federal government "veto power over any use of that property, whether it is public or private."

More here


Flak is coming because the fear Crichton is questioning is fear of global warming. And as Crichton told me, "people's feelings about the environment are very close to religion." Global warming, of course, is not a faith that brings comfort. We interviewed people who seemed almost hysterical about it. One said, "Greenland is melting!" Another warned that "places like Los Angeles and New York will be underwater!" One person went even further off -- should I say it? -- the deep end: "I'm thinking it's like the end of the world."

It's natural for people to worry because there's been so much media hype. A U.S. News & World Report cover story claimed that within 50 years, the ocean "could" be checking in at the glamorous hotels of South Beach, Fla., while Vermonters "could" get malaria and Nebraska farms "could" be abandoned because of drought.

Crichton himself used to worry about global warming. But then he spent three years researching it. He concluded it's just another foolish media-hyped scare. Many climate scientists agree with him, saying the effect of man and greenhouse gases is minor.

Many people believe the weather is already getting worse -- that the earth is experiencing bigger storms than ever before. That U.S. News & World Report cover screamed "Scary Weather." But it's not true that there are more storms today or that weather is "scarier" than it used to be. As Crichton says, "It's something that almost nobody actually goes and checks."

Sadly, he's right. When "scare stories" fit reporters' preconceptions, we rarely check with the skeptics. On the subject of global warming, reporters often listen to alarmists and don't take the trouble to survey the scientists who really know. And even if they do, it's a mere fig leaf of fairness. U.S. News, for example, buried its one skeptical voice under a shrieking headline, after paragraphs predicting disaster, and between two quotes from alarmists -- astoundingly presented as voices of reason -- dismissing dissenters.

Crichton got his medical training at Harvard, where he paid his way through college by writing thrillers. When he wrote "The Andromeda Strain," the story of an organism from outer space that threatens to wipe out mankind, Hollywood called, and his medical career was over. He's gone on to write book after book that anticipated the future. "Jurassic Park" introduced cloning before others really talked about it. "Disclosure," about a man who's sexually harassed by a female boss, also raised issues that were ahead of their time. "State of Fear" may be his biggest risk, because he's taken on environmental groups that some Americans revere with religious fervor. Crichton says, "Environmental organizations are fomenting false fears in order to promote agendas and raise money." He points out that the even the scientists who study global warming have an incentive to exaggerate the problem. If you say, "there isn't a big problem," you're less likely to get grant money.

"State of Fear" is already being attacked, he says, by activists who didn't even read his book. "We seem to be very ready to think it's all coming to an end," Crichton says. And there are consequences to that kind of thinking. It can be quite difficult to oppose new laws, however much freedom and money they will take away from you, when you believe they are the only thing that can stop major cities from being lost to a sea swollen by melting icecaps. But we're not on the way to disaster, except in the form of more laws. "State of Fear" will give you new perspective on "global warming." Then, when someone tells you "it's like the end of the world!" you can say: "Give Me a Break."



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


4 April, 2004


"This is a story about a small town in New Zealand I visited over Easter, whose river is threatened by the unintended consequences of the Kyoto global warming treaty. The Waitahuna River runs through one of the prettiest and most pristine corners of the world, the green rolling hills of Otago, in the deep south of the South Island. Even after recent heavy rainfall, it is little more than a creek which flows for about 30 kilometres into a bigger river, the "mighty Clutha", but it irrigates the local sheep-and-deer farming district and marks a natural boundary between farms. Locals catch big, juicy trout in its deep waters, and in summer, social activity revolves around its willow-lined banks.

But last November, strangers from the North Island came to the Waitahuna town hall bearing pavlovas and sandwiches. The representatives of the energy company TrustPower had arrived to present their plans to "steal our river", says local deer farmer Steven Martin. "We might be simple country people, but we're not stupid." TrustPower wants to pump the headwaters of the Waitahuna River and nearby Bungtown Creek uphill out of the valley and over two ridges into a lake to feed the existing Waipori hydro-electric power scheme. Martin says the proposal makes little commercial sense, except that it is subsidised by valuable carbon credits the New Zealand Government has awarded for the project and a similar but smaller one near the North Island province of Taranaki.

Unlike Australia and the US, New Zealand has signed the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty negotiated in 1997 and ratified by 141 nations, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 5 per cent by 2012 compared with 1990 levels. The treaty came into force last month, a few weeks after a European Union system of carbon trading that began on January 1.

Carbon credits or "emission units" have been called the world's newest commodity. They are a measurement of the amount of carbon dioxide a company or country is allowed to emit into the atmosphere each year under the treaty. They can be traded, and companies, such as TrustPower, can be awarded carbon credits for investing in "clean" energy projects that replace greenhouse gas-producing projects, such as those fired by coal or gas. They can then sell these credits on the world market.....

So the New Zealand Government, in an effort to meet its Kyoto target, effectively uses carbon credits to subsidise companies that invest in "clean" electricity generation schemes that would not otherwise be commercially viable. TrustPower's pumping proposals for Waitahuna and Taranaki have won it a reported 114,258 carbon credits, worth almost $2 million on today's prices....

Many residents of the sparsely populated South Island, which generates two-thirds of the nation's hydro-electricity, blame the crisis on power-greedy Aucklanders with air-conditioners. They say the solution is a nuclear power station in Auckland, not squeezing the last drop of hydro capacity out of South Island creeks. But nuclear power does not have a place in the green, nuke-free New Zealand of the Labor Prime Minister, Helen Clark.

In any case, there is no consensus that the Kyoto Protocol is anything more than an expensive feel-good exercise. When caught up in the complex game of carbon trading, it may lead to the opposite outcome to those that its framers intended.....

For New Zealanders, being ostentatiously green makes sense, as much as a marketing tool as a lifestyle choice. They have a pristine country on the edge of the world, with a small population, dwindling number of sheep and growing number of tourists who drive around in Winnebagos. But the threat to the Waitahuna River is a cautionary tale of how the best intentions can backfire. In an attempt to play the virtuous global citizen and enhance its green image New Zealand risks hurting its backyard."

More here

Duuhhh.. I read it in The Guardian...

Eugene Underground has some more derisive comments about the latest Greenie scare:

Does anyone actually read The Guardian?

A whole mess of un-tenured wannabees have signed on to a report that predicted the end of the world yet again. After their litany of meaningless statements, they propose a solution: Lots of Socialism and a planned economy. (No suprise there)

I'm really scared. I hope people will stop doing anything until all the future generations get their share of resources.

Here are some of the more idiotic points:

Because of human demand for food, fresh water, timber, fibre and fuel, more land has been claimed for agriculture in the last 60 years than in the 18th and 19th centuries combined.

Is that a bad thing? How much more? One hectare? Three million? Advanced technology allows us to raise food on formerly unproductive land, feeding Billions more souls, while actually using fewer inputs. -Relax

Water withdrawals from lakes and rivers has doubled in the last 40 years. Humans now use between 40% and 50% of all available freshwater running off the land.

We all know that, once it is used for human purposes, "water running off the land" disappears. Poof! Annihilated! I expect all of Europe to be a lifeless desert by next year.

At least a quarter of all fish stocks are overharvested. In some areas, the
catch is now less than a hundredth of that before industrial fishing.

No more yummy fish!?!?!? Somebody do something!!!! Not to worry though, "overfishing" always solves itself. People don't risk the massive investment necessary to seek fish where they are not. The remaining, clever, fishies make lots of little fishies, and everybody is happy again.

Markets and free choice will solve all the world's ills. -Not a bunch of self-anointed experts.


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


3 April, 2004


Farmers have begun harvesting a vast crop of genetically modified cotton that has allowed them to slash the heavy use of pesticides for which they have long been been criticised. With NSW and Queensland farmers free for the first time last spring to plant as much GM cotton as they liked after nine years of caution, about 80 per cent of the 300,000 hectares sown was genetically modified to resist herbicides and fight the crop's enemy, the helicoverpa moth.

While cotton growers such as Bourke's Ian Cole would normally spray his crop up to 18 times each growing season to kill off pest insects, this season he only sprayed three times after choosing to grow a GM crop. Those three sprays were targeted to attack sucking insects such as mites and did not wipe out the "beneficials" - spiders, wasps and ladybirds - as the powerful, broad-spectrum sprays for helicoverpa used to. "I'm a big believer in technology being able to solve problems for us in agriculture," Mr Cole said. "Technology has solved a huge problem for us in cotton."

Over the years, traditional pesticides had became stronger and were applied more frequently as insects built immunity. Helicoverpa moths lay their eggs into the boll, or fruit, of the cotton plants and when the larvae hatch they eat the fruit.

GM pioneer Monsanto first won permission for Australian farmers to grow its Ingard GM cotton in 1996. Ingard contained a gene found in soil bacteria that enabled the cotton to produce a protein that killed the grubs when they ate the plant. But because there was a risk of the helicoverpa developing immunity to the single-gene product, planting of Ingard was limited to 30 per cent.

Now Monsanto has replaced Ingard with Bollgard II, which uses two genes and produces two deadly proteins. The chance of insects developing immunity to Bollgard is "extremely small", according to Mark Buckingham, a Monsanto spokesman. Ingard enabled farmers to more than halve the amount of pesticide spraying they needed to do and Bollgard requires 85 per cent less pesticide than conventional cotton.

As an ongoing safeguard, farmers planting Bollgard must also plant a "refuge crop" of pigeon pea. The theory is that any moths that do develop an immunity to Bollgard would mate with moths that have fed on the nearby pigeon pea and have not developed immunity. Their offspring would also not have immunity.

Apart from carnations, cotton is still the only GM crop allowed to be commercially grown in Australia because of strict government regulations and strident opposition from environmental and consumer groups.

Mr Cole said that as well as being great for the environment and the workplace safety of his staff, Bollgard saved farmers a lot of money because they do not have to spray as much and can devote more time to other matters such as improving water efficiency. Cotton's thirst for water is the industry's other public relations problem.

Globally, the area planted with GM crops rose 20 per cent last year to 81 million hectares - 5 per cent of the Earth's cultivated crop land. More than 8 million farmers in 17 countries planted GM crops in 2004 and 90 per cent were in developing countries. When commercial GM crops were first planted in 1996, there were 1.7 million hectares.



Excerpt from Cafe Hayek. See also my comment of April 1

"Look at that last item again:

Deforestation and other changes could increase the risks of malaria and cholera, and open the way for new and so far unknown disease to emerge.

That is not science. That's scare-mongering. Or wild-guessing. Or something else. But it's not science. Is that from the journalist or the report? Alas, it's more or less from the report. Here's how the press release words it:

The degradation of ecosystem services could grow significantly worse during the first half of this century and is a barrier to achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals. In all the four plausible futures explored by the scientists, they project progress in eliminating hunger, but at far slower rates than needed to halve number of people suffering from hunger by 2015. Experts warn that changes in ecosystems such as deforestation influence the abundance of human pathogens such as malaria and cholera, as well as the risk of emergence of new diseases. Malaria, for example, accounts for 11 percent of the disease burden in Africa and had it been eliminated 35 years ago, the continent's gross domestic product would have increased by $100 billion.

When you read the actual press release rather than the news story, you realize that we've left the realm of science and are somewhere else. 'Could grow worse.' 'Four plausible futures.' (Only four?) And they're worried about malaria's impact on GDP? But we could have saved millions of lives from death by malaria by using DDT. But that's bad for the environment. So is that good or bad?

Look at the first two items:

Because of human demand for food, fresh water, timber, fibre and fuel, more land has been claimed for agriculture in the last 60 years than in the 18th and 19th centuries combined.

An estimated 24% of the Earth's land surface is now cultivated.

Sounds scary. But why go back 60 years? Is 24% the critical number where the whole system is going to collapse? Why? Where's the evidence? I'm trying to find a reliable source on the web for what has happened since 1960. Most sources suggest that land under cultivation has risen from 1.3 billion hectares in 1960 to about 1.4 billion hectares today. (In the meanwhile, I'm searching for a reliable link.) If true, not so scary.

Water could be a problem down the road. It's a problem now around the world due to poorly run thugocracies around the world, but that's not what the report is referring to. The world's fisheries are probably mismanaged. But where's the evidence that we're standing on the edge of a precipice? There isn't any.

I plan to sleep well tonight, though I am worried about the state of science.


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


2 April, 2004


Only smart for the rich and childless

Today's Times had an entertaining article called, "Priced Out of Public Service," about a Half Moon Bay councilman who is giving up his seat and moving out of town because he can't afford to live there any more -- a problem that has afflicted more than one California community. Right where the article jumps to B8, however, the reader learns that Sid McCausland is a leader of the anti-growth faction in the city's bitter politics. In his parting shot, he argued that "the pro-growthers, which includes the local paper, routinely distort every issue and twist every fact in an effort to undermine the credibility of those of us who support controlled growth." Controlled growth? Could it be that such government controls have limited the supply of new housing, thereby pushing up the prices of existing homes? Could that be why people like McCausland are being priced out of their town? Is it any wonder that the parts of the state with the toughest growth controls (the Bay Area, the Central Coast, etc.) have the highest home prices?

Here's my beef with the New Urbanism/Smart Growth: This movement typically embraces growth controls (although some New Urbanists argue for their design ideas in a market context) to help create the right aesthetic. But their policies end up creating nice-looking cities that function in a bizarre manner. Often, the New Urbanism paradises (Portland, Santa Barbara, etc.) are worlds of childless Yuppies, with costly boutiques and trendoid restaurants. They look like old-time cities, but don't function like them. Try raising a family in these places. The New Urbanists accuse suburbanites of living in soulless sprawl. They have a point about the bland, look-alike nature of much of suburbia. But they are creating a soulless urbanism, a form of urban living that is devoid of families and true diversity because -- getting back to Half Moon Bay -- the cost of entry is so high thanks to their policies that artificially inflate the cost of housing. They are creating a world where only the wealthy, and only those with the right political connections, can start businesses, build houses, live the American Dream. More on this in a forthcoming column.

Source (Post of March 29)


Critics of the glitch-plagued Las Vegas Monorail might consider the transit line a piece of junk. Now, bonds that helped pay to build the system really are junk. About $455.8 million in bonds were dropped to "speculative" grade, or "junk" status, by Moody's Investors Service on Wednesday amid concerns over lagging ridership and revenues to date. The bonds, which covered a large chunk of the $650 million system's price tag, had been "investment" grade by the global credit ratings firm. Although the downgrade has no effect on the monorail's day-to-day operations, it's a financial black eye for a system that's suffered a string of service pratfalls in 2004. "The downgrade is our way of indicating to investors the prospects of timely payment of debt service are a little riskier now," said Anne Van Praagh, a Moody's analyst who prepared the company's monorail report.....

"The downgrade is based on the actual revenues to date being lower than the original forecast, which is due in large part to the late opening and subsequent shutdown of operations," Moody's said in its report. "The negative outlook anticipates that the system will be required to continue to achieve a significant ramp-up in ridership and revenues in order to achieve financial self-sufficiency," the report said. "While the ramp-up period ridership through the first quarter of 2005 has shown positive growth, more operating history will be needed to fully assess credit quality," Moody's said. .....

In January and February, the monorail averaged around 23,000 riders per day and roughly $66,000 in daily revenues, well below what was needed to break even. Monorail officials have said they expect over 30,000 daily riders this month. It's key that the monorail build on those numbers. Moody's noted that annual operating costs are around $21 million, almost $5 million more than originally expected. That means the monorail needs $51 million a year in advertising and farebox revenues annually to cover its day-to-day costs and pay off its bonds, Moody's said. "With $6 million in advertising revenues currently committed, the monorail would have to raise $45 million in farebox revenues" each year, said Moody's, which projects fares will bring in $34 million this year. Monorail officials expect almost $37 million. "In Moody's view, this represents a significant challenge that will depend on continued system safety and availability and the success of ongoing marketing initiatives," the report said.

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


1 April, 2004


You will only have to read the first sentence of the latest "news" report below to know that you have heard that sort of thing many times before. The excerpt below is from The Washington Post but a similar one also appeared in The Guardian, of course. Why do they keep repeating the same old fairy-tales? I guess they just like the publicity that the Left-leaning media give them. And I guess there are always young readers who have NOT heard it all before. For the benefit of young readers therefore, let me point out that the same sort of claims were being made 30 years ago and the predictions of doom made then have all been just about the reverse of the truth -- since that time we have got greatly better off and have even more resources than we ever did before. How do I know such claims were already common 30 years ago? Because I wrote a book over 30 years ago that included extensive debunking of such claims. See the relevant chapters here and here and here and here and here. And if anybody does not know about the bet that Julian Simon had with Paul Ehrlich, the full story is here. And note that the latest "report" is put out by what is probably the world's most corrupt organization: The United Nations -- though The Guardian does not mention that for some strange reason

"Many of the world's ecosystems are in danger and might not support future generations unless radical measures are implemented to protect and revive them, according to the most comprehensive analysis ever conducted of how the world's oceans, dry lands, forests and species interact and depend on one another. The new report collates research from many specific locales to create the first global snapshot of ecosystems. More than 1,300 authors from 95 countries participated in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, whose results are being made public today by the United Nations and by several private and public organizations. "Only by understanding the environment and how it works, can we make the necessary decisions to protect it," said U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan in a statement marking the report's release. "Only by valuing all our precious natural and human resources, can we hope to build a sustainable future."

The effort brought together governments, civil society groups, industry and indigenous people over a four-year period to examine the social, economic and environmental aspects of ecosystems. The report was assembled by the U.N. Environment Program and included scientists from many universities and organizations, including the World Bank. Jonathan Lash, president of the nonprofit World Resources Institute, which helped put together the report, said it "created for the first time a set of leading ecosystem indicators."

Although food production is up, the report said, many other benefits that humans obtain from ecosystems are threatened, and some environmental changes can produce sudden, unexpected deteriorations in water quality, climate and health. "Human actions are depleting Earth's natural capital, putting such strain on the environment that the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted," the authors said. The report cites widespread and growing problems such as the collapse of fisheries in some parts of the world because of over-exploitation, the creation of "dead zones" around the mouths of some rivers because of nitrogen runoff from farms, and environmental degradation in some dry-land ecosystems.......

Environmental advocates such as Nadia Martinez, a research fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, a nonprofit think tank, applauded the report's findings but said she is concerned that governments could implement its market-based recommendations while ignoring its caveats. For example, she said, imposing a cost on clean water would disproportionately affect the poor."


It's only massive exposure to asbestos that has ever been shown to be harmful

El Dorado County's chief of environmental enforcement says federal officials will release unnecessarily alarming findings about baseball and other sports activity kicking up levels of naturally occurring asbestos on some local playgrounds. Among those alarmed by Jon Morgan's statements in a "special notice/press release" Tuesday were the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials who conducted the study of the El Dorado Hills playgrounds.

The EPA fired back a press release denouncing Morgan's press release. "The claims Jon Morgan makes in his press release are irresponsible, false, and display a lack of understanding of the complex nature of the challenges posed by asbestos," said Dan Meer, who supervised the EPA study. The battle of the press releases comes as the EPA and other agencies prepare to release studies assessing risks of asbestos exposure from everyday activities in foothill communities laced in places with the fibrous minerals. The EPA designed the air tests in October particularly to gauge the asbestos exposure of children at play.

Government contractors in protective jumpsuits with respirators and wearing air monitors played sports that could raise dust containing the invisible, cancer-causing fibers from native rock churned up by development. Sampling of the air and soil occurred on dirt baseball diamonds and the children's playground at the El Dorado Hills Community Center, and on sports fields at Jackson and Silva Valley elementary schools and Rolling Hills Middle School.

Morgan, who alternately has criticized and welcomed the EPA's help, said in his press release Tuesday that the soon-to-be-released test results "may unnecessarily scare the daylights out of every man, woman and child in El Dorado County. EPA lacks accountability, common sense and fails to communicate to the people of El Dorado County," Morgan said.

Meer said the results completed to date should "concern" residents but not "scare" them. Meer said EPA officials gave Morgan and other county officials a "sneak peek" at some of the preliminary test results earlier this month in preparation for their public release in late April, after the federal agency has received and validated all test results. Accurately interpreting and communicating the test results will be difficult, he said.

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

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