Tracking the politics of fear....  

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31 July 2005


As recently as last month, NASA had been warned that foam insulation on the space shuttle's external fuel tank could sheer off as it did in the 2003 Columbia disaster - a problem that has plagued space shuttle flights since NASA switched to a non-Freon-based type of foam insulation to comply with Clinton administration Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

"Despite exhaustive work and considerable progress over the past 2-1/2 years, NASA has been unable to eliminate the possibility of dangerous pieces of foam and ice from breaking off the external fuel tank and striking the shuttle at liftoff," the agency's Return-to-Flight Task Force said just last month, according to The Associated Press. But instead of returning the much safer, politically incorrect, Freon-based foam for Discovery's launch, the space agency tinkered with the application process, changing "the way the foam was applied to reduce the size and number of air pockets," according to Newsday. "NASA chose to stick with non-Freon-based foam insulation on the booster rockets, despite evidence that this type of foam causes up to 11 times as much damage to thermal tiles as the older, Freon-based foam," warned space expert Robert Garmong just nine months ago.

In fact, though NASA never acknowledged that its environmentally friendly, more brittle foam had anything to do with the foam sheering problem, the link had been well documented within weeks of the Columbia disaster. In February 2003, for instance, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported: "NASA engineers have known for at least five years that insulating foam could peel off the space shuttle's external fuel tanks and damage the vital heat-protecting tiles that the space agency says were the likely 'root cause' of Saturday's shuttle disaster."

In a 1997 report, NASA mechanical systems engineer Greg Katnik "noted that the 1997 mission, STS-87, was the first to use a new method of 'foaming' the tanks, one designed to address NASA's goal of using environmentally friendly products. The shift came as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was ordering many industries to phase out the use of Freon, an aerosol propellant linked to ozone depletion and global warming," the Inquirer said.

Before the environmentally friendly new insulation was used, about 40 of the spacecraft's 26,000 ceramic tiles would sustain damage in missions. However, Katnik reported that NASA engineers found 308 "hits" to Columbia after a 1997 flight. A "massive material loss on the side of the external tank" caused much of the damage, Katnik wrote in an article in Space Team Online. He called the damage "significant." One hundred thirty-two hits were bigger than 1 inch in diameter, and some slashes were as long as 15 inches. "As recently as last September [2002], a retired engineering manager for Lockheed Martin, the contractor that assembles the tanks, told a conference in New Orleans that developing a new foam to meet environmental standards had 'been much more difficult than anticipated,'" the Inquirer said. The engineer, who helped design the thermal protection system, said that switching from the Freon foam "resulted in unanticipated program impacts, such as foam loss during flight."

Source. (Some more choice comments on the matter at Pardon my English)


Some recent history

In the years between the Challenger and Columbia explosions, NASA lent its name and prestige to many green crusades, particularly those of Gore for "spaceship Earth." And ironically, critics say, in the early 1990s the politicians at the agency curried favor with the left by playing a crucial role in hyping the ozone scare that led to actions partly responsible for the predicament it found itself in with the Freon-free foam. In February 1992, for instance, NASA announced that satellite and other measurements showed chlorine-monoxide molecules thought to be derived from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and to destroy ozone were increasing inside the arctic polar vortex. At a press conference, NASA raised the specter of a rapidly approaching hole in the ozone layer, which deflects the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays.

"We believe now that the probability of significant ozone loss taking place in any given year is higher than it has been before," said James Anderson, the NASA project leader. Media stories immediately followed with horrific scenarios predicting hundreds of thousands of cases of new skin cancer resulting from ultraviolet exposure. Then-senator Gore, who chaired a Senate subcommittee responsible for NASA funding, captured the moment to warn that there soon would be an "ozone hole over Kennebunkport," the Maine summer home of then-president George H.W. Bush, if Congress didn't rapidly phase out Freon and other CFCs. Spooked by an international campaign to bless all this as indisputable and scientific, the Senate passed a resolution 95 to zero to phase out CFCs by 1995, five years sooner than the 1987 Montreal Protocol required, and Bush issued an executive order requiring a phaseout by this date.

But, as Micah Morrison documented in Insight [see "The Wizards of Ozone," April 6, 1992], many prudent scientists, including some who worked for NASA, dissented from the dire predictions. They noted that natural factors such as storms, winds and volcanoes affect ozone measurements. When chlorine monoxide went back to normal levels in a few weeks, NASA stood silently by without issuing so much as a press release to put the anomalous "crisis" in perspective. "We aren't going to put out [another] press release until we have a complete picture and a complete story to tell," NASA spokesman Brian Dunbar told Morrison.

In the Insight article, Morrison noted that NASA, which in the early 1990s was "concerned to preserve its share of the federal budget and carve out a new role for itself ... reaped a bonanza of publicity as guardian of the ozone." After Gore became vice president, no doubt with an eye on its appropriations, NASA continued to raise the alarm for various environmental scares. "Earth is a planet on fire! The Earth is burning," proclaimed NASA senior research scientist Joel Levine in a 1995 speech quoted by the the Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk.

So when its own foam was declared to be environmentally unfriendly, NASA officials apparently rushed to change it, even minimizing some of the safety consequences, according to some critics. "They wanted to be super-green," says S. Fred Singer, the atmospheric scientist who invented the ozone-meter device to measure the ozone layer in the 1950s. He now is a critic of environmental alarmism as president of the Science and Environmental Policy Project.

More here


Bob Carr, Premier of Australia's most populous State (NSW), has just resigned. (An Australian State Premier is similar to an American State governor)

In the past few days the one area of Bob Carr's premiership that has received almost nothing but praise has been his environmental achievements. It's interesting that Carr was both an environmental and a fiscal conservationist, and that these were two of his strengths. They were also, as is often the way, among his weaknesses. His environmental record is worth a closer look.

In his diary for November 30, 1999, Carr proudly recorded how cabinet had discussed creating more national parks and "how our controversial land-clearing restraints . were now vindicated, with Queensland having to act under pressure". Soon after, a train crashed at Glenbrook, killing seven people. In the subsequent inquiry, Justice Peter McInerney found that train safety had declined since Carr had became Premier.

In January 2003, another train crashed, at Waterfall, also killing seven people. In the same month, a fire that started in the Brindabella National Park in NSW spread to Canberra, killing four people and destroying about 500 houses. Fires in Kosciuszko National Park at the same time burned out three-quarters of the park area, an environmental holocaust that destroyed millions of plants and animals.

These conjunctions raise two interesting questions about the green achievements of Carr's premiership. To what extent did the environmental focus influence - and distract from - his other actions? And, while we now have an enormous number of national parks, how extensive is the damage that's been done to them and their neighbours through poor management of fire and other problems?

Carr's passion for the environment influenced his premiership in more ways than you might think. Consider water: his curious failure to build a new dam. Or housing: his failure to release enough land to meet housing demand, which caused so much suffering for so many people. The dream of the quarter-acre block has been denied many, and the struggle to meet inflated house prices has dramatically affected family life. Carr's reluctance to extend the city into the bush and farmland around Sydney has had profound social and cultural effects.

His environmental policies have had different, but equally disturbing, effects on the country. Carr's last major achievement as Premier was spending an estimated $30 million earlier this month to buy the 80,000-hectare Yanga Station near Hay and turn it into a national park. Yanga is reputedly the largest freehold farm in the state. In May, Carr announced the permanent conservation of 348,000 hectares of woodlands in the Nandewar and Brigalow belt in the state's west, at a cost of about $80 million. This and the Yanga decision will destroy hundreds of jobs. There have been announcements of transition programs and hoped-for income from eco-tourism, but this needs to be compared with what has been destroyed - real jobs and real communities, in some cases going back five generations.

The Government has been uncharacteristically quiet about the purchase of Yanga. One reason for this could be that nationalising the means of production was removed from the ALP platform some time ago. Another might be that the National Parks and Wildlife Service recently released its State of the Parks 2004 report, revealing its failure to care for most parks adequately. Which leads to the obvious question of why the Government has burdened it with new responsibilities. Money desperately needed to look after existing parks has been blown on yet more expansion.

The lack of emphasis on management stems partly from philosophical confusion. Many environmentalists believe, and have persuaded city people to believe, in the notion of pristine wilderness - a state to which nature can be returned by creating national parks. In their excellent book Going Native, Michael Archer and Bob Beale note that the NSW Wilderness Act 1987 (passed when Carr was environment minister) defines wilderness as an area that is "in a state that has not been substantially modified by humans and their works or is capable of being restored to such a state". According to Archer and Beale: "This might apply to the surface of Pluto or the centre of the Earth, perhaps, but it would be arrogance or ignorance to presume that there is any place on Earth that hasn't, at some time in the past, been managed or substantially affected in some way by humans."

The problem with the pristine wilderness concept is that it ignores history. Much of our landscape was managed by Aboriginal people for maybe 60,000 years, through hunting and the use of fire. This management was sufficiently intrusive for it to have affected the distribution and density of many plant and animal populations. After the Aboriginal people were dispossessed, white people continued to manage much of the land that is now national park, with fire and logging. As with Aboriginal use of fire, the aim was to keep the land open, to avoid the vegetation thickening, and also to keep animal populations at certain levels through hunting. So, traditionally, people have been a part of nature, not separate from it.

Creating a national park and then, as this Government has done, largely letting "nature take its course", means this history stops. Gradually the vegetation thickens, the fuel load grows, the animal populations expand, and weeds proliferate. The park becomes a sort of toxic ecological volcano, spewing out fire, kangaroos, weed seeds, and feral animals such as wild dogs into the surrounding countryside. It takes a few decades to reach this point. A lot of our national parks were created in the 1970s and 1980s, which is why these problems started to become acute in the 1990s.

We can expect these problems to occur at Yanga, where (according to the station's website) the environment of two endangered species - the Australian bittern and the southern bell frog - depends on keeping the red-gum forests open by logging, which will now cease. Biodiversity in the Brigalow forest, so attractive to environmentalists, will change substantially now the timber cutters have been removed.

The existence of major problems in national parks is beyond doubt. The State of the Parks 2004 report shows that staff responsible for 87 per cent of the total parks area believe pest animals are so severe as to be a threat to park values. For concern about weeds, the figure is 91 per cent.

The attempts to counter these threats are minuscule, involving just $17 million last year for what was then about 7.5 per cent of the state's land mass. The report notes proudly that this constitutes a 1700 per cent increase in the level of funding over the past 10 years, and the Environment Minister, Bob Debus, is fond of explaining how much the parks budget has increased. But all this means is that spending a decade ago was a joke. It says nothing about the adequacy of the levels now. A recent report by the Institute of Public Affairs estimates that in 2003 NSW had only one ranger for every 22,700 hectares of park - and many of those were involved in non-maintenance activities.

The State of the Parks 2004 report says that in more than 90 per cent of affected parks, attempts to manage weeds and pest animals are non-existent, non-effective, or producing only a slow change. Disturbing as this is, it only covers the impact of poor management in the parks themselves. Many of the animal and plant pests, like the fires, leave the parks and create major problems for neighbours. This has reached crisis point for many farmers, who have been forced to abandon parts of their farms, and has produced an inquiry by Federal Parliament.

Under Carr, the proportion of the state occupied by national parks increased from about 5 per cent to 8 per cent. Much adjacent farming land is unusable for the above reasons. When you add to this all the private land effectively turned into nature reserves by native vegetation laws, the real figure for land taken by government for conservation purposes is probably more than 10 per cent.

Carr's approach seems to have been to lock up as much land as possible, as cheaply as possible, and leave the problems this creates to the premiers of the future. He has demonstrated an emotional blind spot for the immense suffering this has imposed on so many country people. On the whole, this moral blindness is shared by many people who live in our cities, who are better able to empathise with refugees in the outback than farmers whose property rights have been taken and whose lives are being shattered just a few hundred kilometres away.

In his book Thoughtlines, Carr wrote: "The challenge for people who feel the desperate case to save the natural world, to stop the retreat of nature, is to persuade our fellow Australians that we need to make sacrifices to do it." The record suggests Carr and his environmentalist supporters made no sacrifices. Rather, these were imposed on others: on the kids in Sydney growing up without backyards, the parents with massive mortgages, and the farmers who saw parts of their land nationalised and over-run by wild dogs. And then there's what the policies were supposed to help: all the animals and plants destroyed through the mismanagement of our national parks.



The NZ National Business Review has a big wrap up of the new climate pact led by the USA and Australia. I enjoyed this scream of rage from a Greenie:

"Many Kyoto activist groups were livid about the lack of targets and goals in the pact, and the absence of punitive measures. "It doesn't have anything to do with reducing emissions. There are no targets, no cuts, no monitoring of emissions, nothing binding," Steve Sawyer of Greenpeace told Reuters".


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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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.


30 July 2005


Yesterday, the United States and five Asia-Pacific countries; Australia, India, China, South Korea and Japan reached an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions which are largely viewed as contributing to global warming. Unlike the Kyoto Protocol this agreement to reduce emissions is purely voluntary. Reached after months of secret negotiations, the six countries agreed to develop technology to cut down on the amount of greenhouse gases that are currently being spewed into the atmosphere.

The major difference between the agreement that was reached on Wednesday and Kyoto is that China and India are part of the new agreement. Both these countries, which are major polluters, were exempted from requirement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol because they are developing nations. The theory was that since the United States and other countries were allowed to pollute as much as possible to achieve first world status, the same rights should be given to China and India.

It didn’t take long for the environmentalists to come out against the six nation agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Sky News in Britain quoted a spokeswoman from Greenpeace Australia as saying, "No doubt the Australian government has been cooking this scheme up for a while to cover up their failure to ratify Kyoto, and to try and prove that developing countries are abandoning Kyoto." Criticisms have also been levelled by environmental groups over the fact that the newly reached agreement is voluntary and that voluntary deals just don’t work.

The reaction of these leftist environmental groups is proof positive that their main objective is not the environment or "saving the planet" as they so lovingly like to claim. The point of the Kyoto Protocol is for developed countries such as Canada to be unable to meet their targets. Countries that cannot meet their Kyoto obligations will then be required to "buy" credits from countries that have met their targets; targets that are either low or non existent. The Kyoto agreement is nothing more than a scheme by the one worlders at the United Nations to redistribute wealth from the developed world to developing countries.

If reversing the global warming trend was really the goal of the environmental left, China and India would have to be included in any plan to reduce emissions. Both China and India are heavy polluters that are in a stage of relative rapid development. The notion that they should be able to pollute as much as is necessary because the United States and other first world nations were allowed to do so when they became heavily industrialized, makes no sense if the number one goal is to save the earth from the dangers of increasing temperatures.

The environmentalists are also in effect saying that China and India should not be reducing their carbon emissions even when both of these countries have now agreed to do so. By taking this position, the enviros are looking down on these backward nations and telling them that they should not be reducing carbon emissions. This elitist attitude is more proof that the main aim of the environmental left is not to reduce emissions; it is to cause economic damage to industrialized nations such as the United States; countries that the left detest for more than just the Iraq war.

There is nothing surprising in the fact that some radical environmentalists were so quick off the mark to condemn the climate pact. After all, to the left, hating countries such as the United States and Australia is a greater priority than protecting the environment.



A fun email from a reader:

"If wetlands are the largest source of methane, which is a "greenhouse gas" several orders of magnitude greater than CO2 in effect, why are wetlands so fervently protected by the same persons who want CO2 emissions regualted and reduced? There are even advocates for massive increases in the size and extent of "wetlands" which would be funded by the US Goverment. In effect-the current "restoration" of the Florida Everglades is nothing more than a "wetlands" project."


Fred is of course a pioneer in the development of rocket and satellite technology, he holds a Ph.D. in physics from Princeton and happens to be the guy who devised the basic instrument for measuring stratospheric ozone. He is the one giving the answers below

Q: Here’s a line from a recent Mother Jones article: "There is overwhelming scientific consensus that greenhouse gases emitted by human activity are causing global average temperatures to rise." Is that true?
A: It’s completely unsupported by any observation, but it’s supported by computer climate models. In other words, the computer models would indicate this. The observations do not.

Q: What’s the best argument or proof that global warming is not happening?
A: The best proof are data taken of atmospheric temperature by two completely different methods. One is from instruments carried in satellites that look down on the atmosphere. The other is from instruments carried in balloons that ascend through the atmosphere and take readings as they go up. These measurements show that the atmospheric warming, such as it is, is extremely slight -- a great deal less than any of the models predicts, and in conflict also with observations of the surface.

Q: An epic New Yorker series said unequivocally that the permafrost, the Arctic sea ice and the Greenland glaciers are all melting. Is that true and is it because of global warming?
A: The Arctic temperatures have been now measured for a long time. They vary cyclically. The warmest years in the Arctic were around 1940. Then it cooled. And it’s warming again, but it hasn’t reached the levels of 1940. It will continue to oscillate. That’s the best prediction.

Q: What is the most dangerous untrue "fact" about global warming that’s out there in the media-sphere?
A: The rise in sea level. Again, the observations show that sea level has risen in the last 18,000 years by about 400 feet and is continuing to rise at a uniform rate, and is not accelerating, irrespective of warming or cooling. In fact, sea level will continue to rise at a slow rate of 8 inches per century, as it has been for the last few thousand years.

Q: If you had a 12-year-old grandkid who was worried about global warming, what would you tell him?
A: I would tell them that there are many more important problems in the world to worry about, such as diseases, pandemics, nuclear war and terrorism. The least important of these is global warming produced by humans, because it will be insignificant compared to natural fluctuations of climate.

Q: How did you become "the godfather of global warming denial"?
A: That’s easy. Age. I organized my first conference on global warming in 1968. At that time I had no position. It was a conference called "The global effects of environmental pollution." At that time I remember some of the experts we had speaking thought the climate was going to warm and some thought it was going to cool. That was the situation.

Q: Climate is extremely complicated -- is that a true statement?
A: Immensely complicated. Which is a reason why the models will never be able to adequately simulate the atmosphere. It’s just too complicated.

Q: Give me a sample of how complicated just one little thing can be.
A: The most complicated thing about the atmosphere that the models cannot capture is clouds. First of all, clouds are small. The resolution of the computer models is about 200 miles; clouds are much smaller than that. Secondly, they don’t know when clouds form. They have to guess what humidity is necessary for a cloud to form. And of course, humidity is not the only factor. You have to have nuclei -- little particles -- on which the water vapor can condense to form droplets. They don’t know that either. And they don’t know at what point the cloud begins to rain out. And they don’t know at what point -- it goes on like this.

Q: Is this debate a scientific fight or a political fight?
A: Both. I much support a scientific fight, because I’m pretty sure we’ll win that -- because the data support us; they don’t support the climate models. Basically it’s a fight of people who believe in data, or who believe in the atmosphere, versus people who believe in models.

Q: Is it not true that CO2 levels have gone up by about a third in the last 100 years?
A: A little more than a third, yes. I accept that.

Q: Do you say that’s irrelevant?
A: It’s relevant, but the effects cannot be clearly seen. The models predict huge effects from this, but we don’t see them.

Q: Why is it important that global warming be studied in a balanced, scientific, depoliticized way?
A: It’s a scientific problem. The climate is something we live with, and we need to know what effect human activities are having on climate. I don’t deny that there’s some effect of human activities on climate. We need to learn how important they are.

Q: Why is it important that global warming be studied in a balanced, scientific, depoliticized way?
A: It’s a scientific problem. The climate is something we live with and we need to know what effect human activities are having on climate. I don’t deny that there’s some affect of human activities on climate. Cities are warmer now than they used to be. We have changed forests into agricultural fields. That has some affect on climate. We irrigate much of the Earth. That affects climate. And so on. We are having some influence on climate, at least on a small scale. So we need to know these things. We need to how important they are.

Q: And global warming is something we should study but not get panicky about?
A: The thing to keep in mind always is that the natural fluctuations of climate are very much larger than anything we can ascribe – so far – to any human activity. Much larger. We lived through a Little Ice Age just a few hundred years ago. During the Middle Ages the climate was much warmer than it is today. So the climate does change all the time. We need to understand the scientific reasons for natural climate change. Most of us now think it’s the sun that is the real driver of climate. It has something to do with sun spots, but the mechanism is not quite clear. That’s what’s being studied now.


Foreign Policy has now made the debate between Bjorn Lomborg and the Green Pope freely available. I commented on the debate on 22nd.


"We heard earlier this week that a short paper we had started on during last year's hurricane season has now been accepted for publication in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society after successfully completing peer review. With the paper we seek to provide a concise, largely non-technical, scientifically rigorous, globally inclusive, and interdisciplinary perspective on the state of current understandings of hurricanes and global warming that is explicitly discussed in the context of policy. As new research findings are reported in peer-reviewed journals on tropical cyclones (hurricanes) and climate change (global warming), and a corresponding public debate undoubtedly continues on this subject, we thought that it may be useful to provide a forest-level perspective on the issue to help place new research findings into a broader context.

The paper can be found here: Pielke, Jr., R. A., C. Landsea, K. Emanuel, M. Mayfield, J. Laver and R. Pasch (2005) "Hurricanes and global warming" Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. (PDF). Below is an excerpt:

"... claims of linkages between global warming and hurricanes are misguided for three reasons. First, no connection has been established between greenhouse gas emissions and the observed behavior of hurricanes (IPCC 2001; Walsh 2004). Yet such a connection may be made in the future as metrics of tropical cyclone intensity and duration remain to be closely examined. Second, a scientific consensus exists that any future changes in hurricane intensities will likely be small in the context of observed variability (Knutson and Tuleya 2004, Henderson-Sellers et al 1998), while the scientific problem of tropical cyclogenesis is so far from being solved that little can be said about possible changes in frequency. And third, under the assumptions of the IPCC, expected future damages to society of its projected changes in the behavior of hurricanes are dwarfed by the influence of its own projections of growing wealth and population (Pielke at al. 2000). While future research or experience may yet overturn these conclusions, the state of knowledge today is such that while there are good reasons to expect that any connection between global warming and hurricanes is not going to be significant from the perspective of event risk, but particularly so from the perspective of outcome risk as measured by economic impacts.""



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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005


Field evidence shows that sea levels in the low-lying Maldive Islands of the Indian Ocean have been FALLING in recent years. Because the scientific establishment cannot explain that, they are denying the existence of the fall. Immediately below is the abstract of the establishment response followed by comments from one of the team who discovered the fall:

Have there been large recent sea level changes in the Maldive Islands?

By: Philip L. Woodworth

(Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory, Joseph Proudman Building, 6 Brownlow Street, Liverpool L3 5DA, UK)


The Maldive Islands are often used as case studies within research into the impacts of potential future sea level change. Therefore, if such studies are to be realistic, it is important that the past and future variations of sea level in the islands are understood as well as possible. That objective led a fieldwork team to the Maldives, and resulted in a conclusion that sea level in the islands fell by approximately 30 cm during the past few decades.

In the present paper, the suggestion of such a fall has been examined from meteorological and oceanographic perspectives and found to be implausible. A number of met-ocean data sets and regional climate indices have been examined, at least one of which would have been expected to reflect a large sea level fall, without any supporting evidence being found. In particular, a suggestion that an increase in evaporation could have caused the fall has been demonstrated to be incorrect. Without any real evidence for a hitherto-unrecognised process which could lead to a sea level change as significant as that proposed by the fieldwork team, one concludes that a rise in sea level of approximately half a metre during the 21st century, as suggested by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Third Assessment Report, remains the most reliable scenario to employ in future studies of the islands.

Doi (permanent) address for the above paper here

Emailed comment by Nils-Axel Moerner (

In 2004, we published a short paper on our new findings with regard to recent sea level changes in the Maldives (Moerner et al., 2004). We said: (1) sea level is not rising at present, and (2) in the 1970s there even was a sea level fall.Our short report generated (1) a visit to some of our sites by an Australian team (Kench et al., 2004), (2) the active destruction of one of our field evidence by "some persons", and (3) a long report trying to neutralise our sea level fall (Woodworth, 2005).

It is quite remarkable what our 6-page article could set up. It is also remarkable that this 6-page article could give rise to a 30-page discussion of climatic-oceanographic variables in the region, and that this paper could be accepted, especially as our major presentation is still in preparation. What Woodworth (2005) writes is one thing, what we recorded is something completely different. Our findings stay untouched by his criticisms, which apply to surrounding climatic-oceanographic variables, not our field evidence. And why can he not wait for our full scientific presentation?

With respect to sea level changes in general (A) and our Maldives record in particular (B), I refer to a number of papers; viz A: Moerner, 2002, 2004a, 2005a, B: Moerner et al. 2004, Moerner, 2004b, 2004c, Moerner & Tooley, 2004 and C (climate and sea level): Moerner, 2005b.

Finally I quote the below paragraphs (from Moerner, 2005b).

"In the global warming concept, it has been constantly claimed that there will be a causal rise in sea level; a rise that already is in the accelerating mode, in the near future to cause extensive and disastrous flooding of low-lying coastal areas and islands. "It will be the death of our nation", says the President of the Maldives, and the people of Tuvalu in the Pacific claim that the flooding has already commenced. Is this fact or fiction? It is true that we are flooded by this information. But what lies behind this idea? And, especially, what do the true international specialists think? The recording and understanding of past changes in sea level, and its relation to other changes (climate, glacial volume, gravity potential variations, rotational changes, ocean current variability, evaporation/precipitation changes, etc.) is the key to sound estimates of future changes in sea level.

The international organisations hosting the true specialists on sea level changes are to be found with the INQUA commission on sea level changes and the IGCP special projects on sea level changes. When I was president of the INQUA Commission on Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution, 1999-2003, we paid special attention just to this question; i.e. proposed rise in sea level and its relation to observational reality. We discussed the issue at five international meetings and by Web-networking. Our opinion is illustrated in Fig. 1.


In view of the Fig. 1 prediction, I have later revised the estimate for year 2100 to: +5 cm +15 cm. Fig. 1. The sea level rise by year 2100 according to IPCC and its evaluation by INQUA.


Kench, P.S., Nichol, S.L., McLean, R.F., 2004. Letter to the Editor. Global Planet. Change.
Moerner, N.-A., 2005b. Facts and Fiction about Sea Level Changes. House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, Report, 6 pp.
Moerner, N.-A., 2005a. Sea level changes and crustal movements with special reference to the eastern Mediterranean. Z. Geomorphology, N.F., Suppl.Vol. 137: 91-102.
Moerner, N.-A., 2004d. Changing Sea Levels. In: Encyclopedia of Coastal Science (M. Schwartz, Ed.), p. 284-288.
Moerner, N.-A., 2004c. Sea level change: Are low-lying islands and coastal areas are under threat? In: "The impacts of climate changes. An appraisal for the future", p. 29-35. International Policy Press.
Moerner, N.-A., 2004b. The Maldives Project: a future free from sea level flooding. Contemprary South Asia, 13 (2), p. 149-155.
Moerner, N.-A., 2004a. Estimating future sea level changes. Global Planet. Change, 40, 49-54.
Moerner, N.-A., 2000b. Sea level changes in western Europe. Integrated Coastal Zone Management, Autumn 2000 Ed., p. 31-36, ICG Publ. Ltd.
Moerner, N.-A., 2000a. Sea level changes and coastal dynamics in the Indian Ocean. Integrated Coastal Zone Management, Spring 2000 Ed., p. 17-20, ICG Publ. Ltd.
Moerner, N.-A. & Tooley, M., 2004. Reply. Global Planet. Change.
Moerner, N.-A., Tooley, M. & Possnert, G., 2004. New perspectives for the future of the Maldives. Global Planet. Change, 40, 177-182.


The first snowfall on this part of the world has claimed one life and caused extensive damage to properties. Puntland, northeastern part of Somalia has never recorded snowfall before last night when snow storms with high winds destroyed homes in Rako town. The storm left a blanket of snow on the ground, something residents had never seen in their lives before. Aside from this unexplained snowfall on this tropical land, Somalia has experienced very strange weather in the past few months. Floods killed people and forced rivers to overflow banks in almost all parts of the country. Many cities from Hargeisa in the north to Baladweyn in central were affected badly by heavy rains and floods. Many people were killed and thousands of livestock washed away by this strange weather. The country is still struggling to recover from last month's killer weather. With no effective central government, Somalia doesn't have weather prediction or climate monitoring systems in place. Somalis think this unusual weather and last night's previously unheard of snowfall are part of the global warming phenomena.



I live on a small portion of the Earth in North Kent, England, with one of the longest archaeological records in the world exhibiting continuous human occupation and industrial development. The internationally-famous skull of 'Swanscombe Man' (actually a woman), dating from 400,000 BC, was discovered in Thames gravels just four miles away, associated with working flint tools. Industry was already with us then. At Baker's Hole, some 2 miles away, there are the flint axes of 'hunter-gatherers' who inhabited the area around 180,000-200,000 BC. Other finds tell us of late-Palaeolithic and Mesolithic peoples (c.10,000 BC).

Then, from around 3,000 BC, we have the remains of a Neolithic agricultural settlement, which produced a distinctive decorated-pottery known as 'Ebbsfleet Ware'. Bronze Age and Iron Age ditches and enclosures finally give way to the remains of an important Roman religious settlement, Vagniacis, which flourished at Springhead on the local river between the 1st and 3rd centuries AD. Large burial grounds, many temples, mosaics, and a villa give testimony to the thriving economy of this Romano-British centre. Then, from Saxon times, there are the remains of a water mill, and so on, and so on. There is even a very special link with the New World, with North America, the high Algonquin princess, Pocohontas, daughter of Chief Powhatan of the Algonquin Nation, lying buried with great honour beneath my local parish church in Gravesend. And the story progresses - the site now carries the exciting, brand new and rather beautiful Channel Tunnel Rail Link to Paris and to Brussels.

Throughout this long, long, long tale, climate and sea-levels have changed over and over again, sometimes slowly, sometimes dramatically, with sub-tropical interludes, ice ages, permafrost, temperate floods, and drought. The vegetation has swung between forest and heath, open meadow, swamp land and sea, between chilly tundra, boreal forests, mixed deciduous forests, and grassland.

And, of course, the Earth never came to a crunching halt. Of course, humans have gone on, adapting and altering their lives, growing stronger, healthier, and older throughout. Today we live longer and with less hardship than any of these, our doughty ancestors.

I find it pathetic - I am ashamed - when we go into a funk over a little climate change - currently, at most, 0.7 degrees Celsius over 200 years! It is nearly obscene, with all our resources, to think that we shall not be able to adapt once again - unless, that is, we have lost our evolutionary dynamism and drive. Going back in time has never been an option, or part of the great story.

Just as Swanscombe woman could have no possible idea of the Roman wonder that was Vagniacis, neither have we about Virtualia, the city of the next 400,000 years.

Our present funk over climate is an insult to the men and women of our past.



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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005


Never one to avoid leaping on a bandwagon I am going to tell you about Harry Potter. Or rather, how others who cannot see a passing wagon without similarly leaping aboard have managed to get their facts a little, umm, confused. The perpetrators are our old friends, Greenpeace International, who have decided that US readers should boycott the local edition of the latest Harry Potter and buy the Canadian one instead. The reason is, you see, that the US version is not printed on recycled paper:

"The US publisher Scholastic is one of the largest Harry Potter publishers globally," said our resident book wizard Judy Rodrigues. "If they had printed the book on 100 percent recycled paper, like Raincoast, its 10.8 million print run could have saved 217,475 mature trees."

We can leave aside all those inconvenient little facts about the paper industry, like people go out and plant the trees that they later turn into books, that paper recycling itself produces waste (including, it is said, dioxins) and that the collection of paper to be recycled is highly energy intensive. Indeed, if we try and pick our way through the claims and counterclaims of which is best for the environment or the economy, virgin or reused, we will no doubt end up as deranged as a Greenpeace member.

Fortunately we don't have to. We already have a simple and convenient system for measuring whether one process or another uses more or less resources. It's called the price. This is exactly what markets do, they aggregate all the costs of production into one single set of digits. A lower number means less resources used, a higher one more.

The National Geographic report on this matter tells us that: Markets Initiative says that it cost Raincoast some 5 percent more in production costs to use recycled paper-a cost that may be reflected in the Canadian edition's higher cover price.

Total production costs are of course a great deal more than just the costs of paper. So we can see that recycled paper costs substantially more than virgin, and thus must be using more resources. As Greenpeace goes on to say: Haven't bought Harry Potter yet? Consider buying a Canadian edition of the book, printed by Raincoast books, which is on 100 percent Ancient Forest Friendly paper.

Well, yes, why not? Let's promote the idea of copyright theft (Scholastic having paid a very large sum for the rights to sell the book in the US), and the wasting of resources eh? Great ways to save the planet!

One might even go a little further on this. Bulk transport is undoubtedly more fuel efficient than piecemeal. So our bearded loons are actually suggesting that instead of buying a book from the mountain inside every bookshop in the country, it would be better for a three pound brick of paper to be sent individually from another nation. Genius, eh?

I have to admit that my own seven volume, 3,000 page magnum opus is still mouldering in the slush piles of various publishers in London. Everyone agrees that the basic idea is sound, even desirable: that there should be a school where environmentalists go to learn economics. But no one is quite willing to believe that there is sufficient magic in the world to make it actually work. My premise is, therefore, not sufficiently believable. Evidence of this can be seen in this decade old report on paper recycling from Friends of the Earth:

The recent report from Coopers & Lybrand and CSERGE gives further support to the economic benefits that paper recycling can provide [55]. And by actively promoting a UK paper recycling industry, jobs will be created in collection schemes, sorting plants, recycled paper mills, and the design, marketing, advertising and distribution of recycled paper products.

Sigh. The creation of jobs in this manner is not an economic benefit. It is an economic loss. If we do not recycle paper then these people will go off and do something else, perhaps invent the cure for AIDS, build houses for the homeless or bake the perfect apple pie. The very fact that a process "creates new jobs" means that it is more inefficient than the previous method of doing the same thing and therefore makes us poorer.

I'm told that the next book will be the last in the series. A pity really, as it would be interesting to see if Ms. Rowling could be prevailed upon to write something called Harry Potter and the Half-Wit Prigs. (* prig, n, a sanctimonious person, certain of his or her blamelessness and critical of other's failings).


Hot Volcanic Eruptions Could Lead To A Cooler Earth

So let's get some real global warming going to counteract it!

Volcanic eruptions may be an agent of rapid and long-term climate change, according to new research by British scientists. Vincent Gauci and co-authors Nancy Dise and Steve Blake of the Open University simulated the volcanic acid rain from one of Europe's largest historical eruptions, the Icelandic Laki eruption of 1783, which caused widespread crop damage and deaths around Europe. Their findings are scheduled for publication in the American Geophysical Union journal, Geophysical Research Letters, later this month.

Gauci says, "we know that volcanic aerosol [airborne] particles reflect the Sun's rays back out to space and also create more clouds that have the same effect. It all helps to cool the planet for a year or two. These simple physical relationships have been known for a while. "Our findings show that volcanic eruptions have another, more indirect, effect: the resulting sulfuric acid from the volcano helps to biologically reduce an important source of atmospheric greenhouse gases. At the extreme, this effect could cause significant cooling for up to 10 years or more."

Blake says, "The amount of sulfur dioxide put out by Laki in nine months was ten times more than the amount that now comes from all of western European industrial sources in a year. That would have caused a major natural pollution event."

The researchers found that such eruptions create a microbial battleground in wetlands, with sulfate-reducing bacteria suppressing the microbes that would normally produce the powerful greenhouse gas methane. In other words, the sulfate-loving bacteria are victorious over the microbes producing methane, leading to a cooling effect. "We did the simulation on a peat bog in Moray in northeast Scotland, an area we know was affected by the volcanic fallout from the Laki eruption," adds Gauci, "and found that the reduced methane emission lasts several years beyond the end of the acid rain. Our calculations show that the emissions would take many years to recover - far longer than volcanoes are currently understood to impact on the atmosphere."

The researchers now think that volcanoes may exert a more powerful influence over Earth's atmosphere than was thought. Volcanoes may even be a more important regulator of wetland greenhouse gases than modern industrial sources of acid rain. "Wetland ecosystems are the biggest source of methane and for the most part are located in areas of the world that are remote from industrial activity. But many of Earth's wetlands seem to be located in volcanically active regions such as Indonesia, Patagonia, Kamchatka, and Alaska. Even some wetlands that are quite far away from volcanoes, such as those in Scandinavia or Siberia, will be regularly affected by Laki-like pollution events from Icelandic eruptions" says Gauci.

Gauci adds that there was a period of Earth's pre-history when this effect may have created important climate changes. "This interaction may have been particularly important 50 million years ago, when the warm greenhouse climate of the day was due, in large part, to methane from the extensive wetlands that covered the Earth at that time. During that time, large volcanic eruptions could have been real agents of rapid climate change due to this mechanism."



Would you take medications that could cause anemia, nausea, diarrhea, hair loss – even increased risk of infection and fetal defects? Most people with terminal cancer would jump at the chance to take such risks. And if an activist “stakeholder” tried to prevent them from undergoing chemotherapy – because of “ethical” concerns about its “dangers” or a preference for “more appropriate” alternatives like surgery, broccoli or hospice care – their response would be fast and furious.

Africa faces a similar situation. Only instead of cancer, the killer is malaria. Instead of chemotherapy drugs, the interventions are insecticides. And in addition to activists, patients must contend with healthcare agencies that often oppose insecticides and promote largely ineffective alternatives.

Malaria infects up to 500,000,000 people a year – more men, women and children than live in the United States, Canada and Mexico combined! It kills 2,000,000 every year – the population of Houston, Texas. The vast majority live in sub-Saharan Africa, and nearly 90% are children and pregnant women. In 2002, malaria killed 150,000 Ethiopians, 100,000 Ugandans and 34,000 Kenyan children. Victims become so weak they cannot work for weeks on end. Many are left with permanent brain damage – and immune systems so enfeebled that they die of AIDS, typhus, dysentery or tuberculosis. Malaria costs impoverished Africa $12 billion in lost productivity every year.

However, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, U.S. Agency for International Development, wealthy foundations and environmental activists still insist that African nations rely on inadequate bed net, drug and “integrated vector management” programs – and avoid pesticides, especially DDT.

If the United States had rates akin to Africa’s, 100,000,000 Americans would get malaria every year and 250,000 children would die. Its hospitals would be overwhelmed, its economy devastated, and citizens would demand immediate action – using every pesticide and other weapon in existence. But the United States and Europe (over)used DDT to eradicate malaria. They then banned the pesticide and now generally oppose its use. Nevertheless, a few African nations still spray DDT in tiny amounts on the walls and eaves of cinderblock or mud-and-thatch houses. For six months, it repels mosquitoes, kills any that land on walls and irritates the rest, so they don’t bite. No other pesticide, at any price, is this effective, and even mosquitoes resistant to DDT’s killer talents succumb to its repellent properties. Used this way, virtually no DDT gets into the environment. Most important, it’s safe for humans. Hundreds of millions of people – American GIs, Holocaust survivors, and parents and children all over the USA, Europe and Asia – were sprayed with DDT, with no significant ill effects.

Indeed, the worst thing Greenpeace and other activists can say is that “measurable quantities” of DDT and its DDE metabolite are “present” in human fatty tissue, blood and mother’s breast milk. Some researchers, they claim, “think” DDE “could” be inhibiting lactation and “may” therefore be “contributing” to “lactation failure” around the world. In fact, lactation failure results mostly from malnutrition and disease. The problem is minor compared to the effects of chemotherapy – and irrelevant compared to the risk of losing more children to malaria. “African mothers would be overjoyed if DDT in our bodies was their biggest worry,” says Ugandan farmer and businesswoman Fiona Kobusingye. They’d be thrilled if Greenpeace and others would show greater concern for the lives of African mothers and children, by supporting insecticide use.

South Africa’s DDT household spraying program cut malaria rates by 80% in 18 months. The country was then able to treat a much smaller number of seriously ill patients with new artemisinin-based drugs, and slash malaria rates by over 90% in just three years!

Mozambique trains a few people in each community, and sends them out to spray every house twice a year, in a successful and inexpensive program. Zambia has a similar program. However, when Uganda announced earlier this year that it was going to use DDT to control malaria, the EU warned that it might ban all agricultural exports from the country, if even a trace of DDT was found on them!

Last year, USAID spent $80 million “on malaria.” But 85 percent of this went to consultants, and 5 percent to promoting the use of insecticide-treated nets. It spent nothing on actually buying nets, drugs or pesticides. Too often, USAID, WHO and UNICEF emphasize ultra precaution about alleged risks from pesticides – at the expense of millions of deaths from diseases that pesticides could prevent. They proclaim insecticide-treated bed nets a success for reducing malaria rates by 20% – but say DDT was a failure because it did not completely eradicate the disease. Worst, until just a year ago, they were providing Africans with anti-malarial drugs that they had known for years fail 50 to 80% of the time. No wonder malaria rates have risen 10% in the seven years since their Roll Back Malaria campaign promised to cut rates in half by 2010.

DDT will never control malaria by itself. However, it is a vital weapon against a disease carried by different parasites and many species of mosquitoes, some of which can breed in hoof prints during the rainy season. Decisions about which weapons to use, where and when, should be made by health ministers in countries with malaria problems – not by anti-pesticide activists and bureaucrats in air-conditioned, malaria-free offices in Washington, Geneva or Brussels. These health ministers need a precautionary principle that safeguards families from real, immediate, life-threatening risks – instead of condemning them to poverty, disease and premature death, to prevent minor, conjectural risks from pesticides.

Most important, African and other malaria-endemic countries need progress NOW – not 20 or 50 years from now, when (hopefully) a vaccine has finally been developed, sufficient artemisinin drugs are available for every victim, mosquito breeding areas are controlled, and communities have modern homes and hospitals (with electricity, window screens and running water). Access to life-saving pesticides is a basic human right. We wouldn’t ban chemotherapy because those potent drugs present risks, or prohibit Florida and New York from using insecticides to protect people, horses and birds against West Nile virus. We must stop preventing African nations from using DDT and other insecticides to control diseases that kill millions of their citizens annually.

President Bush and many members of Congress support major funding increases to combat malaria and break Africa’s perpetual cycle of disease, famine and poverty. However, this money will do little to reduce disease if it is spent on more consultants, conferences, reports and bed nets – and only insignificant amounts are directed to pesticide and other programs that actually work. The President and Congress need to ensure that health agencies’ financial practices are open to scrutiny, their misguided policies and priorities are corrected, and they are held accountable for the success or failure of their programs. They need to ensure that insecticides and household spraying with DDT are restored to the world’s arsenal for combating malaria. Otherwise millions will continue to die on the altar of politically correct ideologies.



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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005


Critics of Rep. Richard Pombo's Endangered Species Act reform initiative -- critics such as the Center for Biological Diversity -- are simply wrong when they claim it would gut the Endangered Species Act, says The National Center for Public Policy Research. "Richard Pombo's bill, if unchanged, could give the ESA alarming new powers," said David Ridenour, vice president of The National Center and a long-time activist on land issues.

Pombo's proposal is called "The Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2005" and, until recently, was expected to sail quickly through the House Resources Committee. Rep. Pombo chairs the Committee. "Property rights advocates are voicing concern about a provision that would extend the ESA's reach into so-called 'invasive species' -- never before regulated under the law," said Ridenour. Under an Executive Order signed by President Clinton, invasive species are "any species, including seeds, eggs, spores, or other biological material capable of propagating that species, that is not native to that ecosystem." "By this definition," says Ridenour, "almost any living thing could be considered an 'invasive species,' thereby giving federal bureaucrats broad new powers to regulate human activity -- where we live, what we plant in our yards, and where and how we vacation. Rep. Pombo may have been attempting to create a more narrow definition of invasive species," he said, "in an attempt to pre-empt more onerous regulations. If so, he should be applauded for his good intentions. But good intentions or not, such regulations could do more harm than good."

"Extending regulations to cover invasive species is a Pandora's Box that once opened may never be closed," Ridenour continued. "We won't need to wait for its ill-effects: Since equestrians, dirt bikers and ATV enthusiasts can carry seeds on or in their clothing, equipment and horses, these regulations can immediately be used as a pretext for kicking recreationists out of our national parks and other public lands."

The draft legislation also includes a compensation provision for property rights losses due to the ESA. But it would only kick in after a landowner loses 50 percent or more of the affected portion of his/her property value. Many small landowners can't afford a 25 percent loss of their farmlands, homes, ranches and investment property, much less 49.9 percent. And even those who hit that magic 50 percent trigger may never see any money, as property owners would still be required to jump through costly and time-consuming bureaucratic hoops that can make it uneconomic to file a claim.....

More here


Dear Students of Middlebury College: I thank you for nominating me for the Flat Earth Award, along with Michael Crichton and Rush Limbaugh. I am truly honored to be in the company of these two gentlemen who are able to communicate the truth about global warming to millions of people. According to your website (, you created the award as a humorous effort "to highlight the denial of global warming by prominent public figures." You claim that "despite an overwhelming scientific consensus that human-induced carbon-dioxide emissions are altering the global climate, some deniers remain. They are trying to convince the public and our government that a massive peer-reviewed international research project conducted by thousands of scientific researchers is bogus!"

Well now. As you undoubtedly realize, there is no consensus within the scientific community about global warming. And even if there were such a consensus, this is not how science progresses. Remember: There was once a consensus that the sun revolves about the earth, that humans could not travel faster than 25 m.p.h., that manned flight was technically impossible, and that rockets could not operate in the vacuum of space.

What matters are facts based on actual observations. And as long as weather satellites show that the atmosphere is not warming, I cannot put much faith into theoretical computer models that claim to represent the atmosphere but contradict what the atmosphere tells us. A computer model is only as good as the assumptions fed into it. I hope that this does not come as too much of a shock for you. As for the claimed consensus - as published by Naomi Oreskes in the Dec. 3, 2004, issue of Science: A colleague of mine completed an audit of the material used by Professor Oreskes but did not duplicate her result. I expect that her paper will be withdrawn. You may want to drop the link to her article on your website.

And while we are at it, here are other corrections for your website. I continue to publish in peer-reviewed journals; there were two papers in the July 9, 2004, issue of Geophysical Research Letters. Also, The Science and Environmental Policy Project is certainly not industry-funded (not that this would matter). But as a matter of policy, we rely on private donations and do not solicit support from either industry or government. And finally, get rid of that awful picture in my bio.

So what's the real scoop on global warming? I do not deny the principle of global warming. As I told the Rutland (Vt.) Herald, "I believe that the climate is currently warming as a result of the increase of greenhouse gases. "The greenhouse effect is real. However, the effect is minute, insignificant, and very difficult to detect. There is a discrepancy between what we expect from theory and the facts, and we need to explain that. That's what we're all working on."

And beyond this, competent economists conclude that a modest global warming is good for you - and agriculturists know that more CO2 is good for crops and forest growth. And now, an announcement, inspired by your efforts: The Science and Environmental Policy Project will sponsor the prestigious Chicken Little Award. The award will include some tangible benefits, consisting of a sculpture or painting of a chicken, a certificate, and a voucher for dinner at Kentucky Fried Chicken. I invite you and anyone else to send your nominations to and our Selection Board will announce the winning nominees. So again, thank you - and may the next Ice Age be long in coming.



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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005

Where are the Greenies when you need them? Another "Planning" disaster is underway in Britain

Shouldn't people who believe in conservation be furiously protesting this wanton destruction of hundreds of thousands of perfectly good homes in Britain? They don't seem to be. I think it shows that harassing ordinary people is their real agenda -- not conservation. The policy of the present British government is appalling. Our only hope is that the Prince of Wales may be able to do something. When I was in Glasgow in the 70s I could not believe that the beautiful old stone buildings of "slum" suburbs like the Gorbals had been bulldozed. When I was there, there were enough of them left to see what had been lost. The same buildings in Australia would have been snapped up for gentrification and sold at an enormous profit. The former workingmen's terrace houses of Paddington in Sydney and Carlton in Melbourne are now regarded as enormously desirable and change hands for enormous sums. And the present British government wants to bulldoze hundreds of thousands of the same sort of houses!

"John Prescott has had a busy month. Ten days ago, at a symposium in a hotel near Accrington, his department reaffirmed its determination to flatten thousands of Victorian houses in northern England. On Monday Prescott announced changes to the planning system that would nullify local democracy and accelerate the building of 1.1m homes in London and the southeast. On Wednesday, against the opposition of his own advisers, he gave permission for the tallest block of flats in Europe to be built over shadowing Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

Even by his own standards this has been a virtuoso performance of sustained insensitivity. As an arbiter of taste Prescott ranks alongside an East German municipal planner of the 1950s. As a guardian of the environment he has the discrimination of an earthquake. Not since the ill-starred slum clearances and march of the tower blocks in the 1960s have English towns and villages lived in such fear. The north has had the worst of it. Prescott's now notorious "Pathfinder" regeneration schemes threatened the demolition of 400,000 homes in working-class areas across the land from Liverpool to Newcastle.

In prospect it sounded like a new age of enlightenment: investment in run-down urban areas; new administrative networks; consultation with local people; replacement of unsafe or unwanted buildings; new infrastructure. All this, and more, was promised.

However, there was a snag. To earn their Pathfinder grants, local authorities would have to "deliver" demolition quotas. To meet Prescott's aim of creating "sustainable communities", people would have to have their homes knocked down. The more typically northern a street - terrace houses, corner shops, pubs - the more certainly it faced the wrecking ball.

Cash-hungry councils immediately issued compulsory purchase orders on grids of historic Victorian terraces. This blighted local markets and created the very conditions - rock-bottom property prices and zero demand - that were supposed to trigger the clearances in the first place. Owners were offered compensation at current market rates which, being depressed by the threat of demolition, gave them no hope of affording another house.

At Nelson in Lancashire it took two public inquiries and the concerted opposition of English Heritage, the Prince's Foundation, Save Britain's Heritage, the Victorian Society and others before Prescott backed off and local people felt secure in their homes again.

At nearby Darwen, owners of recently refurbished properties, some of them newly mortgaged with unblemished structural surveys, were informed that their homes were unfit for habitation. It made no difference that English Heritage, the government's own official adviser, suggested that in general it was more cost- efficient to restore Victorian houses than to replace them; or that Brian Clancy, a past president of the Institution of Structural Engineers, examined in detail a sample of eight condemned Darwen houses and could find nothing wrong with them. One was "an ideal little first-time buyer house"; others were "an absolute palace" and "an absolutely wonderful property"."

More here

Greenie fanatics in the Federal bureaucracy say that land is a waterway!

Don't mow your lawn without calling a lawyer first - the Army Corps of Engineers might come after you

Developer John Rapanos should be a classic example of the American Dream. Instead, he became the target of a government vendetta that dragged him through a dozen years of litigation and pushed him to the brink of bankruptcy. His story is a cautionary tale about how the Clean Water Act really works.

Rapanos is the son of Greek immigrants who escaped war-torn, socialist Europe to make a better life in Depression-era America. As a boy, John Rapanos played in a hallway spattered with blood and bullet holes. Broke and struggling, the family finally fled from their rough Chicago neighborhood to Midland, Mich., two hours from Detroit. Though they arrived with nothing more than a carload of possessions and their own wits, the Rapanos family prospered, despite anti-immigrant sentiment.

Rapanos' entrepreneurship began at an early age, when he set up a candy stand outside the town's largest employer, Dow Chemical Company. The business succeeded until one of Dow's employees attacked him for being a "dirty Greek" and overturned his stand. Rather than slinking away, Rapanos sought out the chief of police and demanded that the worker apologize. He did.

As a young man, John scraped together all the money he could find in order to buy some real estate. After preparing the property for development, he sold it at a profit, and Rapanos Investments was born. Since then, Rapanos has married, raised six children, and made a fortune, all the while helping Midland grow from a factory town to a "City of Science and Culture." His sons are also developers, but they don't work for him; Rapanos has made them earn their own way.

Unfortunately, the story doesn't stop there. In the 1980s, Rapanos bought a 175-acre cornfield across from the old Dow plant and prepared it for development by leveling the property. When his grading equipment hit the concrete foundation of an old farmhouse that had been on the site, he took a natural sand pile and spread it over the concrete. That incident 20 years ago is why John Rapanos now faces jail time; that's why his family and companies face bankruptcy, and why the property remains undeveloped.

This startling story is just another chapter in Clean Water Act (CWA) enforcement. Passed over President Nixon's veto in 1972, the CWA prohibits the "discharge of any pollutant into navigable water" without a federal permit. The language seems reasonable enough, but the statute has become a charter for federal control over the most local of decisions: real estate development, road building, driveway construction, even farming operations. The law doesn't seem to apply to John Rapanos' land, which consists of cornrows and a damp forest 20 miles from the nearest navigable waterway. But contorted interpretations of terms like pollutant and navigable water have made Rapanos' property as "navigable" as the mighty Mississippi.

The pollutant Rapanos discharged wasn't oil, or nuclear waste, or chemical sludge: just sand. But the Clean Water Act doesn't distinguish between "pollutants," and it covers everything from solid waste to rock, sand, and even heat. In one case, federal regulators required Oregon ranchers to plant trees to block sunlight - which is a pollutant under the CWA.

You might figure that Rapanos' cornfield is not "a water." But, under the CWA, it's not necessary for property to contain any water on its surface to qualify as "a water." A piece of ground need merely meet the definition of "wetland" in the Army Corps of Engineers' "1987 Wetlands Delineation Manual." Legally speaking, if the soil one foot below your property is "saturated" with water for 5% of the growing season - usually eight or ten days between spring and fall - you own "water," not land.

By discharging a "pollutant" into "water," you've taken two steps towards becoming a felon. The third step is whether the "water" is "navigable." Here, the legal issue is more complicated. In the 1824 case Gibbons v. Ogden, the Supreme Court held that Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce extended to ferries providing transportation between New York and New Jersey. In keeping with Gibbons' reasoning that the federal government's power over navigation derives from the Constitution's commerce clause, federal power over American waterways in the 19th century was limited to those used (or capable of being used) as "highways for commerce, over which trade and travel are or may be conducted."

This continued until the 1890s, when Congress passed a series of Rivers and Harbors Acts, making it unlawful to "cast, throw, empty, or unlade" anything into a navigable waterway that might obstruct navigation. Despite these small steps toward federal suzerainty, the government stayed focused on commercial navigation throughout the late 19th and most of the 20th century. But beginning in the 1960s, the focus shifted from protecting waters for navigation's sake to protecting waters for their own sake. This change started with public officials touting rivers as national scenic treasures, and soon took off with an aggressive wave of legislation in the late 1960s and early 1970s. One of these laws was the Clean Water Act.

But even this new rush of laws - aimed at pollution instead of navigation - was limited to "navigable waters," which the law defined simply (if vaguely) as "waters of the United States." In keeping with 150 years of law and tradition, the Army Corps of Engineers, which enforces the CWA, initially applied it to the same waters that the Rivers and Harbors Act covered: waters subject to the ebb and flow of the tide, and waters that were being used or could be used for interstate or foreign commerce. As late as 1974, federal regulations emphasized that federal jurisdiction was determined by "the water body's capability of use by the public for purposes of transportation or commerce."

It was only when environmental fanatics at the Natural Resources Defense Council sued the government, complaining that this definition was too narrow, that things really changed. Judge Aubrey Robinson, Jr., an unabashedly liberal Johnson-appointee, sided with the NRDC and struck down the rules, finding that the term navigable waters "is not limited to the traditional tests of navigability" but requires "federal jurisdiction over the nation's waters to the maximum extent permissible under the Commerce Clause."

Rather than appeal this ruling, the Army Corps of Engineers adopted new rules in 1975, asserting a breathtaking federal authority over everything from "traditionally navigable waters" and "tributaries of navigable waters" to "intrastate waters from which fish were removed and sold in interstate commerce" and any other waters the Corps "determines necessitate regulation" to protect water quality. Efforts to turn back this regulation passed the House of Representatives, but died in the Senate, and the modern age of federal regulation over virtually all water in the nation began.

In 1985, the Supreme Court removed what few limits were left when it ruled in United States v. Riverside Bayview Homes that the CWA could control wetlands "adjacent to" and "bound up with" any navigable river. With the Supreme Court seeming to confirm the "anything goes" version of the law, the Corps pushed its interpretation even further, adopting a new "clarifying" rule extending jurisdiction over any "waters" that might be used by traveling migratory birds, or that might provide habitats for endangered species. These new rules even hinted that the CWA might extend federal control to irrigation ponds, ditches, and swimming pools.

Only in 2001 did the Supreme Court again wade into these muddy waters to restore some limits, in Solid Waste Authority of Northern Cook County v. Army Corps of Engineers. There, the Court struck down the "Migratory Bird Rule," and definitively declared that the CWA does not "extend to ponds that are not adjacent to open water." Anything else, the Court said, would probably render the CWA unconstitutionally broad under the Commerce Clause. The ruling was a relief, but in the four years since, federal courts have sharply disagreed over its meaning. Today, the CWA means one thing in Michigan and Maryland but another thing in Mississippi. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals had held that the CWA is limited to "navigable-in-fact" waters and immediately adjacent ponds, but the 4th, 6th, and 9th Circuits are ready to allow the federal government control over any body of water from which a single molecule of H2O might end up in a navigable-in-fact water. If a water molecule can seep from your backyard and eventually reach a navigable waterway, then mowing your lawn could be a federal crime. Walking, biking, or driving a vehicle through a protected wetland is considered a felony.

People have no way to tell which interpretation of the law will apply to them; they must either cross the government and risk prosecution, or take federal bureaucrats at their word and submit to what is probably an illegal application of the CWA. Neither is particularly appealing. For a project like leveling a cornfield, it takes a little over two years and costs more than $270,000 to get a permit - assuming no delays. But proceeding without a permit can be even more expensive: a criminal violation of the Clean Water Act brings with it a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail and a $1 million fine; a civil violation means a fine of $32,500 per day of violation, which the government counts as every day that the "pollutant" remains in the "navigable water." Anything left in a wetland for one year could cost an offender almost $12 million - and ignorance is not a defense.

So, when John Rapanos covered the troublesome farmhouse foundation by moving sand from one end of his land to the other, state and federal environmental officials accused him of filling dozens of acres of wetlands with more than 300,000 yards of sand. Former Michigan environmental chief Russ Harding says he's walked every inch of the property and drilled dozens of holes at least five feet deep without finding any evidence that wetlands ever existed there or that fill was brought in, and 300,000 yards of fill would require thousands of truckloads of dirt, something the employees across the street at Dow Chemical would probably have noticed. What's more, the evidence in the government's criminal and civil charges against Rapanos, filed in two separate cases, shows that the government doesn't even agree with itself about where the wetlands are or what portions of the property were filled.

None of this mattered to the federal courts. After 13 years of criminal litigation and 12 years of civil litigation - which has included four appeals to the Supreme Court and more than a half-dozen trips to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals - John Rapanos was convicted of CWA violations and sentenced to 10-16 months in federal prison for polluting his so-called wetlands, which connect to a 100-year-old man-made drain, which flows into a non-navigable creek, which, finally, flows into the navigable Kawkawlin River, 20 miles away.

How did events ever get this far? In the opinion of at least one Sixth Circuit judge who heard Rapanos' case, the government engaged in "prosecutorial overkill," in which federal prosecutors compared him to "the devil" and compared "his treeless property . . . to the Warsaw ghetto without Jews." According to federal District Judge Lawrence Zatkoff, who presided over Rapanos' trial, the government came after him because he is "easy to dislike, [and] had the audacity and the temerity to insist upon his constitutional rights."

Judge Zatkoff found that "the average U.S. citizen is incredulous that it can be a crime for which the government demands prison for a person to move dirt or sand from one end of their property to the other end of their property and not impact the public in any way whatsoever," and noted with irritation that prosecutors had claimed Rapanos' act was worse than the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The judge sentenced Rapanos to probation - but the government has asked the Supreme Court to intervene and increase his sentence.

As former Supreme Court Justice Byron White put it,"[o]n a purely linguistic level, it may appear unreasonable to classify 'lands,' wet or otherwise, as 'waters.'" It's even more unreasonable to ruin John Rapanos. A less principled man would have backed off long ago to close the deal, putting expediency ahead of property rights. But Rapanos didn't build a successful life by giving in. The Supreme Court is now considering whether to take his case. For John Rapanos, the case represents an opportunity to win justice and avoid financial ruin and, as with the candy stand from his youth, he won't stop until he's vindicated. For the rest of us, this case is an opportunity to restore sanity to federal power, clarify the meaning of the Clean Water Act, and end absurd federal meddling in local land use.


MTBE: A Regulatory Pitfall or Cause for Legal Action?

See also my post of 19th

While the gasoline additive MTBE was a relatively small element of the federal government's efforts to address air pollution more than a decade ago, it now occupies center stage as a key issue related to our energy policies, environmental protection, and the fairness of our legal system. MTBE, or methyl tertiary butyl ether, was originally put in use in 1979 when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved it as a way to replace lead content and promote cleaner-burning gasoline.

Despite MTBE's role in fighting smog in traffic-congested cities, the chemical has a downside that EPA recognized long ago: When spilled, its water-soluble properties can cause it to seep into groundwater. Use of MTBE expanded greatly in the 1990s after EPA named MTBE one of several gasoline additives approved for use in meeting Clean Air Act mandates. At that time, both EPA and members of Congress recognized that cost and availability factors meant MTBE would be selected to comply with the clean air regulations. Regrettably, as use of MTBE increased in recent years, so did detections of the substance in water supplies.

Let's be clear: No one wants to see MTBE causing problems with water resources. Significant contaminations, which can affect the smell and taste of water and can affect property values, need to be cleaned up by the responsible parties. But companies that merely produced and used MTBE in compliance with the federal laws and regulations should not be dragged into court on the issue.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a provision in its 2005 energy bill that protects energy producers from lawsuits that are being filed over adding MTBE to gasoline, because the producers' actions were taken to comply with federal law. The Senate should pass the same provision. We are seeing too many exaggerated claims in the media about MTBE today--about the extent of the problem, health impacts, the purpose of the House safe harbor provision, and the ability of responsible parties to clean up spills.

How big is the problem? A January 2005 EPA study found only 16--less than one-half of 1 percent (0.4%)--of 3,776 public water systems in the U.S. have MTBE levels that may require corrective action. How harmful is MTBE to humans? The World Health Organization and National Toxicology Program are among those to report MTBE is not a known or probable carcinogen.

Does the House safe harbor provision of the energy bill take away the responsibility to clean up spills? Absolutely not. Nothing in the House energy bill prevents lawsuits seeking to force responsible parties to clean up MTBE spills. Moreover, a 1999 study by EPA found more than 95 percent of spills are being cleaned up by the responsible parties, often service station owners with underground storage tanks that leaked.

Plaintiffs' lawyers and water suppliers are pinning their legal hopes on having MTBE declared a defective product in court. If they succeed, this fuel additive may become the subject of the next wave of massive litigation reminiscent of the asbestos and tobacco lawsuits. In fact, it's not surprising the MTBE lawsuits are being led by some of the same plaintiffs' lawyers who profited handsomely from asbestos and tobacco lawsuits.

Forging a national policy solution to MTBE would be better than unleashing a flood of MTBE-related lawsuits focusing on details of specific legal claims rather than broad national interests. As lawsuits drag on, policy issues, spills, and clean-up might languish for years.

Important issues surrounding our energy supplies and the environment, including MTBE, need to be addressed. Clearly, the solution should not be found through filing myriad lawsuits against those who were complying with the law.



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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005

Noctilucent Clouds and Global Warming

A "Letter to the Editor" of a British newspaper (Daily Post, Wales):

Your correspondent suggests that noctilucent clouds (NLC's) over N Wales are a sign of "man-made" global warming. NLC's were first noticed in 1885 following the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa: spectacular sunsets and NLC's were seen globally and NASA scientists now tell us links with global warming are "speculative"

When carbon dioxide (CO2) levels began rising again early last century, the planet cooled. This led to anti-capitalist claims in the Seventies that industrial pollution was precipitating the next Ice Age, though CO2 levels are currently very low historically. If NLC's were seen when the planet was cooling, it is difficult to see how they are only associated with warming. Man-made global warming was a theory supported by flawed virtual-world computer models and is now discredited by hard climate science.

Earth needs vegetation for survival; every molecule of CO2 removed by plants during vital photosynthesis is converted into sugars and oxygen, yet politicians and others have convinced the gullible it is a pollutant which must be taxed. A tax on air? What a silly and dangerous game this man-made global warming nonsense is.

(From the current Junk Science front page)

Revealing quotes from Environmentalists

They cannot help admitting their deep misanthropy at times. Most of the quotes below are well-documented but there may be one or two exceptions. As they say: "You can't make this stuff up". There are more here. I have picked out only a few of them. I end my selection with the most amusing ones -- from Paul Ehrlich, of course. Rather amazingly, he is still a great hero to Greenies. Being hopelessly wrong clearly does not matter to them as long as you hate people enough

"The right to have children should be a marketable commodity, bought and traded by individuals but absolutely limited by the state. -Kenneth Boulding, originator of the "Spaceship Earth" concept (as quoted by William Tucker in Progress and Privilege, 1982)

We have wished, we ecofreaks, for a disaster or for a social change to come and bomb us into Stone Age, where we might live like Indians in our valley, with our localism, our appropriate technology, our gardens, our homemade religion-guilt-free at last! -Stewart Brand (writing in the Whole Earth Catalogue).

Free Enterprise really means rich people get richer. They have the freedom to exploit and psychologically rape their fellow human beings in the process.. Capitalism is destroying the earth. -Helen Caldicott, Union of Concerned Scientists

We must make this an insecure and inhospitable place for capitalists and their projects.. We must reclaim the roads and plowed land, halt dam construction, tear down existing dams, free shackled rivers and return to wilderness millions of tens of millions of acres of presently settled land. -David Foreman, Earth First!

Everything we have developed over the last 100 years should be destroyed. -Pentti Linkola

If you ask me, it'd be a little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy because of what we would do with it. We ought to be looking for energy sources that are adequate for our needs, but that won't give us the excesses of concentrated energy with which we could do mischief to the earth or to each other. -Amory Lovins in The Mother Earth-Plowboy Interview, Nov/Dec 1977, p.22

The only real good technology is no technology at all. Technology is taxation without representation, imposed by our elitist species (man) upon the rest of the natural world. -John Shuttleworth

What we've got to do in energy conservation is try to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, to have approached global warming as if it is real means energy conservation, so we will be doing the right thing anyway in terms of economic policy and environmental policy. -Timothy Wirth, former U.S. Senator (D-Colorado)

I suspect that eradicating smallpox was wrong. It played an important part in balancing ecosystems. -John Davis, editor of Earth First! Journal

Human beings, as a species, have no more value than slugs. -John Davis, editor of Earth First! Journal

The extinction of the human species may not only be inevitable but a good thing....This is not to say that the rise of human civilization is insignificant, but there is no way of showing that it will be much help to the world in the long run. -Economist editorial

We advocate biodiversity for biodiversity's sake. It may take our extinction to set things straight. -David Foreman, Earth First!

Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental. -Dave Forman, Founder of Earth First!

If radical environmentalists were to invent a disease to bring human populations back to sanity, it would probably be something like AIDS -Earth First! Newsletter

Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, is not as important as a wild and healthy planets.Some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along. -David Graber, biologist, National Park Service

Cannibalism is a "radical but realistic solution to the problem of overpopulation." -Lyall Watson, The Financial Times, 15 July 1995, Poverty For "Those People"

Every time you turn on an electric light, you are making another brainless baby. -Helen Caldicott, Union of Concerned Scientists

To feed a starving child is to exacerbate the world population problem. -Lamont Cole

The continued rapid cooling of the earth since WWII is in accord with the increase in global air pollution associated with industrialization, mechanization, urbanization and exploding population. -Reid Bryson, "Global Ecology; Readings towards a rational strategy for Man", (1971)

The battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines. Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. Population control is the only answer. -Paul Ehrlich, in The Population Bomb (1968)

I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000. -Paul Ehrlich in (1969)

In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish. -Paul Ehrlich, Earth Day (1970)

How humanity is to defend itself against eco-swindlers and believers in supernatural phenomena

Polish scientist, Przemyslaw Mastalerz takes on a whole range of eco-myths and "alternative" beliefs:

They are not many, those swindlers who cheat by spreading falsehoods disguised as scientifically proven facts. There are perhaps not more than several thousands of them, or a few millions at most if we count also those of the tiniest caliber, but they are noisy and, eagerly supported by the media, they are very well heard everywhere. There are two categories of scientific swindlers. One category includes all sorts of doomsayers who insist that something very bad is going to happen if we disregard their warnings. To this category belong those who warn against global warming, genetically modified food, cell phones and other electric appliances, pesticides, waste incineration, mineral fertilizers, atomic power plants and other alleged dangers. It is convenient to call them eco-swindlers because in their teaching they always refer to the environment. They are a rather new phenomenon, which appeared only about 50 years ago, together with the growing public awareness of environmental issues.

The second category includes astrologists, dowsers, homeopathic doctors and other kinds of healers. It is an ancient category. There were always astrologists and all kinds of shamans.

Swindlers of both categories claim that all their teachings have a strong base in physical sciences. This is their biggest lie, which needs to be opposed very strongly by scientific community. My purpose is twofold. The first is to argue that all the claims propagated by scientific swindlers have long ago been disproved by science, although only few people seem to be aware of that fact. My second purpose is to propose measures which we should take to defend ourselves against the avalanche of falsehoods coming from newspapers, radio and television.

"Global warming"

The claims that global warming is coming and will have dire consequences to all mankind are based on the unquestionable facts that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising and that carbon dioxide is able to warm the atmosphere by preventing infrared radiation to escape into space. These facts are true but the environmentalists are making the grave error of assuming that carbon dioxide is the most important factor governing the temperature on our planet. With that assumption, they totally disregard other powerful factors, which were shaping the climate in the past. There is no reason to assume that these factors ceased to operate.

The history of the planet Earth is divided into periods of glaciations with permanent icecaps in polar regions and much warmer periods with no permanent ice cover. It follows that some powerful factors were always changing the climate on Earth. We are now living in a cold period of glaciation which begun about two million years ago. During that time there were fluctuations of temperature and of the size of polar icecaps but no evidence was found for a corresponding variation of carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere. By accident we are living in one of the warmer periods which is about to end with a new ice age as did similar periods in the past two million years.

The last ice age ended about 15 thousand years ago when ice cover retreated from Central Europe and Scandinavia. Since then there was a series of alternating warmer and colder periods. The weather was cold when the Roman empire was collapsing but later, during the Middle Ages, the climate was warm with vineyards growing in England. Later the weather cooled so much that the period between 15th and 18th centuries is known as the Little Ice Age.

It thus appears that it does not make much sense to invoke carbon dioxide as the most important factor of climate change as do the proponents of global warming. Nevertheless, the environmentalists were extremely successful in convincing the general public and state administrators in most countries that the threat of global warming is real, imminent and serious and that nations must undertake urgent actions to decrease the emission of carbon dioxide. The infamous Kyoto agreement demonstrates the strength of eco-swindlers and the weakness of the scientific community.

The dangers of global warming are now widely believed because of incessant propaganda in numerous internet papers and in all media. Even the textbooks for all levels of education are infected with false stories of what will happen if we do not limit the combustion of fossil fuels.

Genetically modified foods

Foods produced from genetically modified plants are being met with heavy opposition in Europe. The reasons of European opposition are purely political. There are no scientific reasons for stopping genetic modification of plants or animals.

Cell phones and other electric appliances

The environmentalists claim that electromagnetic radiation emitted by electric appliances may cause cancers and other diseases. This is a particularly silly claim because billions of people were exposed to such radiation for many years and no single case of any disease related to electric appliances was ever found. It is impossible to explain why articles warning about the danger of radiation emitted from electric power lines, cell phones or TV sets continue to appear in scientific journals. Perhaps it is a case of dishonesty of some scientists.


The pesticides are chemicals used to exterminate crop-damaging animals and plants. The weed killers are known as herbicides while the insecticides are used to exterminate insects. The herbicides were never seriously attacked by environmentalists while strong attacks were directed against many insecticides. For reasons which are difficult to explain without referring to historical details, the most vehemently opposed is DDT, which is the most efficient and the safest of all insecticides. DDT was banned after a long campaign involving evidently false claims that it is toxic to humans. nThe number of lies related to DDT is truly amazing.....

Municipal waste incineration

Very few industrial procedures were opposed with such vehemence as the incineration of municipal waste. Several years ago the eco-swindlers were able to achieve the closure of many existing incineration plants and to prevent building of new ones but lately the common sense together with the economics are prevailing and incineration is becoming the method of choice for getting rid of garbage. However, the environmentalists still insist that segregation, recycling and composting are more friendly to the environment. They do not accept the fact that nothing is more friendly then clean combustion which produces only carbon dioxide, water vapor and harmless ash.

Mineral fertilizers

One of the most frequent manifestations of chemophobia is the claim that mineral fertilizers are dangerous to our health and that the only way to grow healthy food is through organic farming, which permits only the use of manure. It is difficult to understand why animal feces should be more healthy to humans than the phosphates and nitrates present in mineral fertilizers. Phosphates and, to lesser extent, also nitrates are natural components of human bodies. It follows that it does not make sense to try to eliminate phosphates and nitrates from our food by abstaining from the use of mineral fertilizers. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with organic farming except for the fact that the high yields necessary to feed the growing population can be achieved only through intensive farming with heavy application of mineral fertilizers.

Atomic power plants

The heavy opposition against electric power generation in atomic plants appears to be fading away with growing realization that atomic plants are safer than plants fired with coal because of the high death rate in coal mines. In addition, electricity from atomic plants is cheaper and its supply is more reliable than in the case of wind turbines and solar cells. In the past decades, when the fear of radiation prevailed, no new atomic power plants were built and the demolition of existing ones was considered but this seems to be over now. The fear of radiation is also decreasing with growing realization that low radiation doses are harmless or even beneficial to living creatures.


Aggressive and fraudulent advertising persuaded millions of sick people that homeopathic drugs bring relief or even heal all diseases even when the drug is pure water and nothing more. The homeopaths developed their trade into a semblance of science and thus increased the confidence of patients who willingly pay dearly for nothing but false hope. A law is needed which would force homeopaths to provide unequivocal evidence that their drugs are more effective than placebos.


Dowsing is the procedure of searching for water, oil and lost persons or things using a rod, pendulum or other devices which by their movements indicate the presence of the sought objects. Dowsing is a very old trade with millions of ardent believers in the whole world. The facts is, however, that no dowser was ever able to demonstrate his talents under controlled conditions. The most convincing evidence against dowsing is the fact that a prize of over one million dollars is offered to anybody who will demonstrate his or her ability to detect underground water by dowsing and the prize is not yet taken. Other arguments provide the dowsers themselves who claim to be able to detect underground water or oil by letting pendulums swing over maps. It is an evidence against dowsing because such ridiculous claims cannot be accepted as true unless we believe in miracles.


Astrology is the study of the positions of stars in the belief that they affect human fate. It is difficult to understand why astrology is believed by many even now in the era of science. It would be very easy to show that the stars are not able to tell anything about our affairs but nobody seems to care and astrological swindle will be with us for many years to come. Astrology is not very harmful but the fact of cheating for money should not be tolerated.

How to oppose the frauds disguised as science

The scientist are not able to provide successful opposition because most of them do not care enough to voice their protest whenever they see a publication which is against science and reason. In addition, even if they wanted to speak up they would have problems with finding an opportunity to publish their protests because the media prefer to publish scaremongering enunciations rather than cool scientific statements.

To counteract the spread of falsehoods presented in a scientific disguise we need a better educated society. The scientists should pressure the educators to change the science curricula at all levels of education by introducing topics related to scientific swindles and insuring that the new topics are taught in accord with science and reason and not in accord with pseudoscientific beliefs. The changes need not be many but the new topics should be repeated many times at all levels. Here we should follow the example of eco-swindlers who owe their successes in convincing the public only to endless repetition of their claims.... I am fully aware that the attempts to introduce the new teaching would be met with a vehement opposition of eco-swindlers and that their protests would be very difficult to overcome but one has to try.

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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005

Lawyers Challenged on Asbestos

Plaintiffs' lawyers, long accustomed to public criticism and lawmakers' wrath, now face a new and more dangerous adversary in federal prosecutors. The latest evidence that the government may be increasingly willing to pursue these lawyers comes in the bankruptcy of a company overwhelmed by asbestos claims. Recently filed court documents show that federal prosecutors in Manhattan may have begun to investigate the conduct of three law firms.

The documents - which surfaced in the bankruptcy case of G-1 Holdings, formerly the GAF Corporation, a manufacturer of roofing material - show that lawyers for G-1 have met with prosecutors from the United States attorney's office in Manhattan in recent months. The documents also show that the company's lawyers have turned over records of extensive interviews with former employees of the three plaintiffs' firms in which some employees described coaching potential claimants and noted efforts to influence doctors' diagnoses.

The investigation is potentially explosive because asbestos litigation has been a hugely costly problem for companies and an almost inconceivably profitable business for plaintiffs' lawyers. About 730,000 people have filed claims for asbestos-related injuries, costing a total of $70 billion as of 2002, according to the RAND Corporation, which estimates that a little less than a third of the total went to plaintiffs' lawyers. And since 1976, asbestos liability has contributed to the bankruptcy of more than 70 companies, including Bethlehem Steel, Owens Corning and W. R. Grace.

"Our system of justice depends on lawyers processing cases and making representations that are based on their sound judgment about the facts," said Stephen P. Younger, a lawyer at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler in New York. "As a result, if lawyers are charged with inflating or falsifying claims, it is a bad day for the legal profession."

The current criminal investigation is the latest example of a new willingness by prosecutors to look into the conduct of plaintiffs' lawyers. Last month, the United States attorney's office in Los Angeles announced the first indictments related to a three-year-old investigation of Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman, a law firm known for its frequent shareholder class-action lawsuits.

The interviews of former employees were conducted by investigators from Kroll, which was retained by G-1 to gather evidence in its three-year-old civil lawsuit against three plaintiffs' law firms: Baron & Budd of Dallas; Ness, Motley, Loadholt, Richardson & Poole of Mount Pleasant, S.C. (a law firm in the process of disbanding); and Weitz & Luxenberg of New York. Last month, Kroll investigators, after receiving a subpoena from prosecutors, turned over their findings; the subpoena suggests that prosecutors are interested in the asbestos claims. Lawyers say at least one insurance company has also received a subpoena.

A spokeswoman for the United States attorney's office declined to comment on the matter, as did a spokeswoman for Weitz & Luxenberg. Steven Storch, a New York lawyer representing Ness, Motley, Loadholt, Richardson & Poole, said, "We would've expected that if there were anything of any interest, we would've heard about it during the course of civil litigation, and we didn't hear anything." Frederick M. Baron, of Baron & Budd, said that he knew documents had been provided to the United States attorney's office, but that the same documents had not proved persuasive in the civil case by G-1 against the firm. "We have received no information that the U.S. attorney's office has done anything other than accept documents that the lawyers from G-1 have asked them to." Mr. Baron said the judge in the civil case had reviewed the documents and not found them credible. "The Kroll affidavits are bogus in the extreme," he said.

G-1 was driven to seek Chapter 11 protection in 2001 as a result of some 150,000 asbestos claims. The court filings, in which lawyers describe the activities that generated their bills, indicate that lawyers for G-1 have spoken or met with assistant United States attorneys several times in recent months.

The United States attorney's office in Manhattan is also pursuing an investigation into thousands of claims filed on behalf of people who said they were injured by exposure to silica, another dangerous material. Some of the same law firms that brought those claims also brought asbestos claims, some of the same doctors who diagnosed silica injury in claimants also diagnosed asbestos injury in claimants - and many of the same people claiming they were hurt by silica previously claimed they were harmed by asbestos.


Climatologist: Denver 'not getting hotter'

Marvellous the difference that a bit of history makes

Don't be fooled by the heat wave and Wednesday's record-tying high: Denver summers are not getting hotter, State Climatologist Roger Pielke Sr. said. Wednesday's high temperature of 105 degrees tied the all-time Denver record set Aug. 8, 1878.

"Denver is not getting hotter in the summer, and one measure of that is the number of consecutive days above 90 degrees," Pielke said. "There were longer stretches of days above 90 degrees back in the early part of the 20th century and the end of the 19th century," he said. "So we are in a heat wave right now, but we're not in an unprecedented heat wave." A 12-day stretch of 90-or-above highs ended Sunday, when the mercury in Denver peaked at 86.

The city's longest streak of 90-or-higher days is 18, which has happened twice: in July 1874 and July 1901. Those early temperatures were measured near Union Station in downtown Denver, said Kyle Fredin, a National Weather Service meteorologist. Later, official Denver temperatures were recorded for decades at Stapleton airport. In 1995, the official site moved to Denver International Airport.

Those station shifts complicate efforts to analyze long-term temperature trends in Denver, Fredin said. In addition, different types of thermometers have been introduced over the years, as technology has advanced. There's also the so-called urban heat-island effect. The highs in downtown Denver can surpass airport highs because the city's concrete and asphalt holds onto the heat.

July is Denver's hottest month. On average, since record-keeping began in 1874, July 25 is the hottest day of the year. "I don't think you can draw any conclusions from this latest hot streak about whether we're getting warmer or not" due to global warming or some other cause, Fredin said. "At 105, we're just kind of bumping up against our threshold of how hot Denver can get," he said. "I would be getting excited if we hit 108 or 110. That would really be something."

More here


"California's forests were far more fire resistant 100 years ago than they are today. I have published scores of historic photos side-by-side with modern retakes from the same locations that show how much less dense Sierra Nevada forests were about a hundred years ago. Our current forest conditions differ greatly with the historic norm - as detailed in my book "Fire in Sierra Nevada Forests: A Photographic Interpretation of Ecological Change Since 1849." California's forests have experienced massive increases in tree cover resulting from human activities, particularly the suppression of natural fires. Similar changes are evident in vegetation throughout the West.

As a wildlife biologist, I know evidence strongly suggests that increasingly dense forests are detrimental to wildlife, including numerous songbirds, rabbits, squirrels, and deer. Historically, wildlife populations adapted to ecosystems that were subjected to frequent low-intensity fires. Today, thicker forests burn in high-intensity crown fires. Yet, despite this disparity, current conditions often are the primary reference point for biologists making wildlife habitat assessments. We have a tendency, therefore, to essentially preserve wildlife habitat in its present state of decay and high risk of catastrophic wildfire. That must change.

The Forest Service plan for the Sierra Nevada emphasizes retention of forest canopy. To meet the presumed habitat requirements of featured species, Forest Service biologists recommend 50 to 60 percent retention of crown cover. But are high levels of crown closure best? Tree crowns are often so dense that sunlight does not reach the ground and small plants are shaded out.

There is an inverse relationship between the amount of tree cover and the abundance of shrubs, grasses and flowering plants on the forest floor. As trees increase, other green plants decline, primarily from shading and competition for water and nutrients. Wildlife populations also decline because most forest species are dependent not on trees but on low-growing vegetation.

High tree densities and closed canopies pose another threat to wildlife populations: too many trees mean more fuel for catastrophic wildfire. Scientists from Cal Poly State University and elsewhere have noted that high-intensity wildfire has a far greater impact on the environment than any forest management activities could under California's forestry laws. Catastrophic fires lead to increased erosion, devastate watersheds, pollute the air, and destroy even protected habitat.

The Forest Service has proposed fuel reduction in the Sierra Nevada because it believes that continuing to severely suppress tree harvesting on public lands will increase dramatically the incidence of catastrophic wildfire. With its proposed thinning, the Forest Service expects to reduce the acres lost to catastrophic fire by 30 percent over 50 years and increase the number of old-growth stands. Yet activists oppose cutting even a miniscule number of trees. The plan they are objecting to calls for harvesting only two tenths of 1 percent of the medium-sized (20-30 inches) trees standing each year. That thinning could save lives and precious habitat.

History can help provide a more accurate view of the natural composition of Northern California landscapes and a more realistic benchmark for understanding the relative condition of wildlife habitat. A historic perspective would also foster a cry to thin forests not just for fire safety, but also for biological diversity."

More here (HT Cheat-Seeking Missiles)

Energy bill follies : "With great fanfare, the Senate passed a $35 billion energy bill earlier this month that has been characterized as a somewhat wiser and greener bill than that passed by the House a few months ago. Although conservatives claim to find much therein to embrace, virtually every section of the bill represents a rejection of free markets and limited government. The most obnoxious aspect is the ten-year, $18.4 billion in tax breaks and incentives for various energy investments. While conservatives like to argue that if you subsidize something, you'll get more of it, that observation is generally used as an admonition against -- not as a rationale for -- government intervention. In this case, the Senate proposes to subsidize investments that have been unable to attract as much private capital as proponents would like. But what are the chances that 100 senators using other peoples' (taxpayers) money will make better investment decisions than investors using their own money?"


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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005


Multidistrict Suit Created `Phantom Epidemic,' She Says

A Texas federal judge has issued a blistering 249-page order and sanctioned a high-profile plaintiffs law firm, accusing the plaintiffs bar of manufacturing a "phantom epidemic" of the lung disease silicosis. And at least one legal expert suggests a similar finding might come if courts look closely at recent absestosis litigation. Judge Janis Graham Jack, in a June 30 ruling, noted that more than 9,000 plaintiffs in the multidistrict litigation case had been seen by about 8,000 physicians who diagnosed and treated them for every other health problem, but never noted the presence of silicosis. The silica illness diagnoses came from just 12 doctors, most of whom were in the employ of various mobile-screening operations, doing what she called "assembly-line diagnosing." In Re: Silica Products Liability Litigation, No. 1553 (S.D. Tex.).

Jack issued the order after 20 months of pretrial proceedings in the Corpus Christi, Texas, court, including a special Daubert-style analysis to determine whether doctors' testimony should be entered as evidence. The judge ordered 90 of the 111 cases, which covered more than 10,000 individual plaintiffs, remanded for lack of subject matter jurisdiction to the Mississippi Supreme Court, and recommended that another case be remanded to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

Jack approved the start of discovery for 19 cases that were recently transferred into the MDL case. For the case of Alexander v. Air Liquide America Corp., in which she retained jurisdiction, Jack tossed out testimony and diagnoses from two of those mobile-screening physicians and ordered sanctions against Houston's O'Quinn, Laminack & Pirtle. Jack tentatively set the sanction at $8,250 to cover the Alexander defendants' proportionate share of costs incurred during the Daubert hearings, but allowed time for O'Quinn to challenge the amount. She said the O'Quinn firm, which brought more than 2,000 cases, micro-managed the diagnostic process "to inflate the number of plaintiffs and overwhelm the defendants and the judicial system ... in hopes of extracting mass nuisance-value settlements."

Lawyers from the O'Quinn firm were not available for comment. Name partner John O'Quinn is considered one of the most influential lawyers in America. In response to the judge's order, the O'Quinn firm filed a statement with the court saying it would not contest the judge's estimate of Daubert expenses, but it would like to be heard on the issue of whether sanctions should be imposed.

Jack's rulings on sanctions and excluding doctors' testimony in the remanded cases "are reserved for consideration by the appropriate state court." The Mississippi Supreme Court must decide how the state courts will deal with its cases. Jack stayed the effective date for remand to allow time for the court to consider the issue.

The MDL defendants had previously removed the Mississippi cases to federal court, asserting there was diversity subject-matter jurisdiction. But the judge said there was not complete diversity of citizenship between plaintiffs and defendants.

Silicosis is caused by inhaling silica dust, the primary element of sand. Jack, a former registered nurse, wrote that most of the plaintiffs were employees of foundries, or worked as sandblasters or in other trades that exposed them to sand. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted a steady decline in the number of silica-related cases. According to CDC numbers, Mississippi has a very low number of silicosis deaths. So when Jack looked at the numbers in the multidistrict silica litigation, she said she couldn't understand why Mississippi plaintiffs filed more than 20,000 silicosis claims between 2002 and 2004. "Despite diagnosing a serious and completely preventable disease at unprecedented rates, not a single doctor even bothered to lift a telephone and notify any governmental agency, union, employer, hospital or even media outlet, all of whom conceivably could have taken steps to ensure recognition of currently undiagnosed silicosis cases and to prevent future cases from developing," Jack wrote.

Jack suggested the reason for the discrepancy was that "these diagnoses were about litigation rather than health care."

Danny Mulholland of Jackson, Miss., represents one of the silicosis defendants. He says that about 65 percent of the silicosis claims came from "recycled plaintiffs" who had previously filed asbestosis claims. While Jack did not cite that percentage, she did write that at least 6,000 of the plaintiffs had made prior asbestosis claims.

After Mulholland began deposing the silicosis-screening doctors, several of them withdrew their diagnoses. One of those doctors had screened several thousand cases and said he thought he had been asked only to give second opinions on degenerative lung diseases related to silica exposure.

The doctors' withdrawal caught Jack's attention. She then ordered that the remaining screening doctors be deposed in her court. "It's a completely different dynamic when you're deposing a witness with a federal judge sitting there on the bench," Mulholland says. "A lot of the dancing around just doesn't happen." Mulholland says he has petitioned the Mississippi Supreme Court to administer the cases remanded to it on a consolidated basis. This has never been done in Mississippi before, but he claims "this is a peculiar set of circumstances that cry out for this type of remedy."

Lester Brickman, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, has been closely following the silicosis litigation. Earlier this year, he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on "double-dipping" by asbestosis plaintiffs who had previously made silicosis claims. He's concerned that the plaintiff-friendly Mississippi courts could reject Jack's findings and resurrect these claims. "One should not assume that just because there is massive evidence of fraud, that they will not be processed through the same Mississippi system," he says.

Brickman, who published a 137-page law article on asbestos litigation for the Pepperdine Law Review, says the significance of Jack's order goes far beyond the silicosis cases. Given that asbestosis cases used the same techniques to recruit plaintiffs and used the same medical screeners, Brickman says, he's "confident that if the same level of discovery were permitted with respect to asbestosis claims, the same kind of evidence of fraud on a massive scale would be uncovered."

Brickman finds it remarkable that "despite the overwhelming evidence of fraud uncovered" in the silicosis cases, no state prosecutor has ever launched an investigation. A representative of the Mississippi attorney general's office, Special Assistant Attorney General Jacob Ray, says he cannot confirm or deny that his office is investigating the silicosis cases.



(Another academic journal excerpt. From: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology (2005), In press)

Bolide summer: The Paleocene/Eocene thermal maximum as a response to an extraterrestrial trigger

By: Benjamin S. Cramer a), and Dennis V. Kent b), c), a) Institute of Geology and Paleontology, Tohoku University, Sendai, 982-0262, Japan b) Department of Geological Sciences, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA c) Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, NY 10964, USA


The standard paradigm that the Paleocene/Eocene thermal maximum (PETM) represents a threshold event intrinsic to Earth's climate and connected in some way with long-term warming has influenced interpretations of the geochemical, climate, and biological perturbations that occurred at this event. As recent high-resolution data have demonstrated that the onset of the event was geologically instantaneous, attempts to account for the event solely through endogenous mechanisms have become increasingly strained. The rapid onset of the event indicates that it was triggered by a catastrophic event which we suggest was most likely a bolide impact.

We discuss features of the PETM that require explanation and argue that mechanisms that have previously been proposed either cannot explain all of these features or would require some sort of high-energy trigger. A bolide impact could provide such a trigger and, in the event of a comet impact, could contribute directly to the shape of the carbon isotope curve. We introduce a carbon cycle model that would explain the PETM by global warming following a bolide impact, leading to the oxidation of terrestrial organic carbon stores built up during the late Paleocene. Our intention is to encourage other researchers to seriously consider an impact trigger for the PETM, especially in the absence of plausible alternative mechanisms.

1. Introduction

At the Paleocene/Eocene boundary, 55 Ma, a catastrophic event produced dramatic changes in Earth's biogeochemical systems. Global temperatures abruptly warmed by 4-5 oC at the same time when a perturbation to the biogeochemical carbon cycle led to a > 4? decrease in atmospheric and surface ocean d13C values and soon thereafter a 2.5? d13C decrease in the deep ocean (e.g., Kennett and Stott, 1991). Major changes in community structure are recorded in marine microfossils (planktonic and benthic foraminifers, calcareous nannoplankton, dinoflagellates, ostracodes), including an extinction of 30-50% of species of bathyal-abyssal benthic foraminifers (e.g., Thomas, 1998). Terrestrial faunas were also affected, with the first appearance of most modern mammalian orders occurring at the P/E boundary (e.g., Maas et al., 1995). In seeking the causes of this catastrophic event, most researchers have focused on the large decrease in d13C values, which seemed too large and too rapid to be easily explained within the context of standard carbon cycle models. This led to the proposal that the large decrease reflected the input of substantial quantities of isotopically light methane from thermal dissociation of seafloor clathrate deposits (Dickens et al., 1995 and Matsumoto, 1995).

As discussed below, the documented rapidity of the onset of the event and lower estimates of the size of the methane hydrate reservoir indicate that this cannot be the major source for the carbon isotope excursion (CIE). Kurtz et al. (2003) showed that the late Paleocene was a time of increasing terrestrial organic carbon-rich deposition and suggested that the d13C may have resulted from the burning of large peat deposits. With several coauthors, we have recently presented evidence that an extraterrestrial impact occurred at the onset of the PETM (Kent et al., 2003a), which would provide a trigger of sufficiently large energy to account for the rapidity of the onset of the event. In this contribution, we explore the mechanisms by which an impact could trigger a "bolide summer:" the prolonged interval of warmth during the PETM. Our discussion focuses mainly on evidence for changes in the carbon cycle during the PETM, which we believe has been obscured in the literature by the emphasis on methane hydrate. As background, however, it is useful to summarize the published evidence for an impact at the P/E boundary and for a major perturbation to biological systems, although only benthic foraminifers suffered a mass extinction during the PETM.


4. Summary

While extraterrestrial impact has received serious consideration as the trigger for "instantaneous" environmental perturbations at other geologic boundaries, the possibility of an impact trigger for the PETM has received very little attention. Instead, most authors have focused on the magnitude of the 13C decrease and the hypothesis that this resulted from dissociation of methane hydrates. However, analyses now show that the methane hydrate reservoir was unlikely to have been large enough to account for the carbon isotopic perturbation, and that physical limitations to the rate at which thermal dissociation of hydrate could occur make it an implausible mechanism to account for the extremely rapid initial decrease in ?13C values, especially given the evidence for stable pre-CIE temperatures at intermediate water depths where hydrate would have existed. Furthermore, methane hydrate as a sole source for the CIE cannot explain the extreme variations in climate and ecological perturbations that occurred: the very low d13C value of methane hydrate minimizes the amount of carbon needed to account for the CIE, while the thermal dissociation mechanism requires that the documented warming preceded and was independent of the perturbation to the carbon cycle. It is more reasonable to assume that the 4-5 oC temperature increase resulted from the perturbation to the carbon cycle that is reflected in the decrease in d13C values.

The instantaneous onset of the PETM, the top-down progression of environmental changes in the oceans, and the extreme perturbations to the surface environment are all consistent with a bolide impact. There is already tantalizing independent evidence that an impact occurred at the time of the PETM and the "bolide summer" hypothesis makes specific predictions that should motivate further investigations: we expect (1) normal climate variability prior to an abrupt onset of the event; (2) tracers of an impact corresponding to the abrupt initial climate perturbation; (3) a much larger decrease in carbonate preservation than that predicted by the hydrate dissociation hypothesis; (4) evidence for widespread terrestrial fires as a source of carbon; (5) a global net reduction in export productivity. To our knowledge, none of these predictions has been disproven, while some of them are supported by available data. Researchers involved in studies of the P/E boundary should consider whether their data are consistent with the idea of an impact trigger for the event.

2 Although there are no mass extinctions among planktonic organisms at the PETM, in contrast to the K/T boundary, we take the perspective that this more likely resulted from a difference in severity and character of perturbations to the surface environment rather than a difference in the ultimate cause of the changes. The perturbation in the surface-ocean environment at the K/T boundary was severe enough that pre-existing species were unable to maintain any ecological niche during the aftermath; as a result, the post-perturbation community was made up of the few survivors and newly evolved species. At the P/E boundary, pre-existing species were able to maintain viable populations in refugia, although at many sites they were temporarily absent or greatly reduced in abundance. The transient nature of these changes should be interesting from an evolutionary perspective: the P/E boundary may represent an event nearly serious enough to cause a global mass extinction, but the severity of the kill mechanisms fell somewhat short, allowing pre-existing communities to become reestablished and diversify following the climatic perturbation.

In contrast, the major changes in ocean carbonate chemistry and export productivity evidently did lead to the mass extinction among benthic foraminifers at the P/E boundary. In conclusion, we invoke a (cometary) bolide impact to explain the established extremely rapid surface environment warming and carbon cycle perturbation at the onset of the PETM. We believe that this initial warming would have led to widespread burning of terrestrial peat deposits, as hypothesized by Kurtz et al. (2003), producing an extended period of high atmospheric pCO2 and the warm climate of the PETM. The already extremely detailed documentation of the PETM may provide an excellent opportunity to examine the environmental and biological perturbation and recovery following a bolide impact.

Doi (permanent) address for the paper here


Neil Craig wrote the following letter to his local paper in Glasgow:

Your 13th July edition contained an item about a lobby group, the Sustainable Energy Partnership, approving our local MP's support of micro-generation (essentially covering our rooftops with windmills).

55% of Scotland's electricity is provided by 2 nuclear plants, the more extensive of which, Hunterston, is to close in 2011.

Windmills only provide 0.3% of our power & micro-generation , as the name suggests, can do only a small fraction of even that. This is not a serious solution.

Nuclear is reliable, non-polluting, CO2 free & at 2.3p per unit (or less for new reactors) easily the most economical power source.

According to Help the Aged figures 24,000 pensioners die each year in the UK from fuel poverty. If we do not replace our current nuclear plants with at least equal capacity we are going to have massive blackouts & even more deaths. Our MPs have a duty to do something serious about this not playing around with token & subsidised windmills unnecessarily pushing up our electricity bills.

Lenin once said that socialism would be achieved by "Soviet power & the electrification of the whole country" - it is unfortunate to see the present generation of "socialists" instead embracing Ludditism to usher in a new dark age.

Hilarious: CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Officials at the state Department of Environmental Protection are in an ethical quandary. They need to rid the agency’s headquarters of an insect infestation but they don’t want to use pesticides. “In the days of old we would’ve just got some bug spray or let the exterminators kill them,” spokeswoman Jessica Greathouse said. “But we’re the Department of Environmental Protection, and we have the first environmentally friendly building in the state, so we want to try every alternative we can.” Thousands of tiny winged insects called midges have invaded the building in the past six weeks. “They’re a nuisance. They get in my office and in the hallways,” said Cap Smith, chief of administration and building manager. “And they’re in the way.” Berry Crutchfield, an entomologist with the Department of Agriculture, said eradicating the insects will be difficult unless the department determines their source. “That’s the great mystery,” Smith said. “Where are they coming from?”


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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005


Michael Mann has finally buckled to pressure from Congress and has released to the public a version of the FORTRAN program he used to calculate his "hockey stick" reconstruction of the earth's climate. It looks like the program released is a modified version of the original rather than the original itself. No doubt Mann will say that the original is "lost". I modify my FORTRAN programs almost every time I run them so that is not entirely implausible. But even what has been released is damning. It shows that Mann reported only those statistics which suited his conclusions and suppressed other statistics that threw his conclusions into serious question. As Steve McIntyre notes:

However, the newly-archived source code demonstrates clearly that MBH did calculate the cross-validation R2 statistic (pages 28-29 in my printout). Accordingly, I can now assert that the information was withheld in the original SI.

At this point, we also know that the values of the cross-validation R2 were very insignificant (~0.0) in the controversial 15th century reconstruction. One can reasonably surmise that this information would have been very detrimental to widespread acceptance of the MBH98 reconstruction had it been disclosed. The IPCC assertion that the MBH98 reconstruction “had significant skill in independent cross-validation tests” is obviously not true for the withheld cross-validation R2 statistic. I previously discussed this inaccurate disclosure by IPCC as illustrating the potential conflict of interest between an author in his capacity as an IPCC review author and in his capacity as the author of the underlying study.

While I anticipated that the code would demonstrate the actual calculation of the cross-validation R2 statistic, there was a bit of a surprise in the form of another discrepancy between statistics calculated in the program and statistics reported in the original SI.

The program shows that a verification period RE statistic was calculated for the Nino index; however, the original SI only reported a verification period R2 statistic – reversing the reporting pattern for the NH temperature index. In this case, I presume that the verification RE statistic for the Nino calculation will be adverse. However, I have not attempted to replicate the MBH98 Nino calculations and this is merely a surmise at present.

I strongly believe that the authors had a responsibility to report adverse statistics, such as the cross-validation R2, and were not entitled to withhold this information. This also applies to Wahl and Ammann, who similarly do not report a cross-validation R2 statistic. In their case, their code as published does not even include the calculation of cross-validation R2 statistics in their calculations , but I would be astonished if they had not calculated these values at some point and later edited the step out of their code.....

It’s late in the day to be arguing these matters after positions have been taken and locked in. I have no doubt, as I’ve mentioned recently, that, if the IPCC had reported that the MBH98 reconstruction had a cross-validation R2 of ~0.0 (rather than claiming that it had “significant skill in independent cross-validation tests”), the MBH98 hockey stick graph would not have been featured in IPCC. If it had been reported in the original publication, it’s possible that the original article would not have been published in the first place. It will be interesting to see what the various learned societies and individuals will make of this.

So the whole global warming scare is shown to be largely based on a scientific fraud.

More here


There was a recent debate between Bjorn Lomborg and Carl Pope (head of the Sierra Club) about the state of the environment in Foreign Policy magazine. Below are the last two posts (out of 8) in the exchange, followed by my comment on the debate

Don't Treat the Earth Like Enron

Carl Pope responds

If you look back to the beginning of this exchange, I did not say that mercury was a higher priority than particulates. I did not focus on U.S. power plant emissions alone. You did. I cited the oceanic mercury problem as a symbol of our failure of leadership and the resulting problems that failure creates.

You keep posing artificial choices such as the one between cookers and wind turbines. Both are more desirable and more economical than backyard coal furnaces. It is simply not the case that the world-or the United States-does only one thing at a time. Leadership doesn't mean picking the lowest-hanging fruit, one at a time. It means acting on our wiser, not our greedier, instincts.

Where do we get the money? Let those who take from the global commons foot the bill. If the companies that emit mercury were to pay damages, they would be forced to clean up, and the world would be healthier and more prosperous. Current U.S. carbon emissions now top 1.5 billion tons per year-about 25 percent of total global carbon emissions. Scientists' mid-range estimates are that planetary sinks-plants, trees, and other elements that absorb carbon-can handle about 5.5 billion tons without an unacceptable increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. With 5 percent of the world's population, a fair U.S. share of global carbon emissions is 275 million tons a year. At a modest value of $50 per ton, U.S. carbon emitters owe the world's poor nations at least $66 billion for this year alone.

So, Bjorn, if U.S. carbon emitters and those in Saudi Arabia, Europe, and Japan pay for what they pollute, we could fund clean drinking water, clean village stoves, wind turbines, and solar cells in India. Of course, if we started making carbon wasters in the United States pay, Economics 101 suggests they will emit much less. Instead of a massive transfer of wealth, charging fairly for carbon emissions would reduce pollution in the United States, generate cash for development in China, Africa, and other developing regions, and reduce climactic instability. This system won't increase poverty. It may hurt the oil companies. So what? Henry Ford was bad for buggy makers.

You ask for my priorities. We should stop cooking the books, make those who take from the global commons pay, and invest that revenue as wisely as we can. The result of these steps will not be Dr. Pangloss's "best of all possible worlds." But I am shocked that anyone believes we will get better results by continuing to treat the Earth as if it were Enron.

Less Charming, but Honest

Bjorn Lomborg responds

We agree that wise investments will make the world better. But what proposals does that actually include? The question was answered last year by the Copenhagen Consensus project. Thirty specialists from a broad range of fields joined forces with eight top economists, including three Nobel laureates, to make a global priority list. Their top goals were to prevent HIV/AIDS, end agricultural subsidies, and fight malnutrition and malaria. That is where we can do the most good per dollar. The Copenhagen Consensus concluded that substantial responses to climate change (your favorite) would do little good at high cost.

You say we should make polluters pay. That's an excellent idea. But you get a bit too excited. Most analyses show that the carbon damage cost is less than $10 per ton, suggesting a much lower tax and revenue stream. Moreover, just as money is a scarce resource, so too is political will. Given the world's immense reluctance to enforce carbon taxes and trade liberalization, we should focus on getting the best one-trade-done first. Your Economics 101 suggests that carbon taxes would have a big impact on emissions and climate change, but real economic models show the exact opposite. Carbon taxes would have little impact on emissions or climate change.

No matter how much money we raise, we should still spend it wisely. If investing in cookers is more cost effective than windmills, we should do the cookers first. It really isn't more complicated. Advocacy groups understandably want to focus on headline-grabbing issues, such as mercury, mangroves, and global warming. But when we emphasize some problems, we get less focus on others. It has been hard to get you to say what the world should not do first. Such a strategy is, naturally, less charming. But if we really want to do good in the long run, it is more honest to put those terms on paper.

You end by repeating your claim that we are cooking the environmental books. No. We know there are environmental problems. But we face other challenges, too. Let's tackle the ones where we can do the most good first. The rich world is dealing with many of its environmental problems because it can afford to. If the poor world became wealthier, they would follow suit. Tackling pressing issues such as disease, hunger, and polluted water will do obvious good and give the poor the chance to improve the state of their world.

My comment on the debate:

Lomborg has done such a first-rate job of opposing level-headed rationality to the Green Pope's hysteria and disregard for what is possible that he has in my view left little for anyone to say. I do however have two points to make that I think supply context to this debate: About psychology and history.

From Malthus to Paul Ehrlich, Greenies have been enormous false prophets. They are always prophesying imminent doom and always getting it completely wrong. Explanations of why Malthus was wrong used to appear in basic economics textbooks in my student days so I will not insult people's knowledge by saying anything about him and if anybody does not know about the hilarious false prophecies made by Paul Ehrich, here would be a good place to start reading. So anybody who knows anything about the history of Greenie prophecies would take the Green Pope and his cohorts with a large grain of salt.

Some recent history is relevant too. The 1987 Montreal treaty was one of the great Greenie triumphs of the 80s. It banned the best refrigerant we have (freon) to "save" the ozone layer. Yet the great bellwether of the state of upper-atmosphere ozone -- the Antarctic "hole" -- continues to fluctuate between large and small just as it always did -- with some of the largest holes observed in recent years. As is reported here, the hole was at its biggest in 2000 -- well after CFCs had been banned. Even more interesting, however was that in 2002 the hole shrank so much that it disappeared -- being replaced by two much smaller holes. Then in 2003 it was back at its second largest size ever. So that was a false prophecy too -- albeit one that nobody bothers about now.

And the no. 1 Greenie cause of today -- that wicked carbon dioxide which is supposed to be causing global warming -- now seems to have passed its tipping point too -- with even that great booster of global warming -- Tony Blair -- having just declared himself to be a climate "heretic". In retrospect, however, historians will probably see the breaking of Michael Mann's "hockey stick" by McKitrick and McIntyre as the crucial event that killed off the global warming scare.

So why do Greenies constantly bother us with one nonsensical scare after another? Any mother would understand it. It is just attention-seeking behaviour. "Mommy, look at me!" is something most kids say from time to time. One suspects that Greenies had mothers who did not look.


Another academic journal excerpt. Madhav Khandekar (, and co-authors T. S. Murty & P. Chittibabu both from Ottawa, Canada, have concluded that the dissenting view of the Global Warming science appears much more credible than the IPCC view of the cause and impact of global warming. They have also concluded that there is no link between global warming and world-wide extreme weather events. Article published in "Pure and Applied Geophysics", Volume 162, Numbers 8-9 Date: August 2005 Pages: 1557 - 1586

The Global Warming Debate: A Review of the State of Science

By: M. L. Khandekar [1] , T. S. Murty [2] and P. Chittibabu [3]. (1) Consulting Meteorologist, Unionville, Ontario, Canada (2) Department of civil engineering, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada (3) W.F. Baird & Associates Coastal Engineers Ltd, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


A review of the present status of the global warming science is presented in this paper. The term global warming is now popularly used to refer to the recent reported increase in the mean surface temperature of the earth; this increase being attributed to increasing human activity and in particular to the increased concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) in the atmosphere. Since the mid to late 1980s there has been an intense and often emotional debate on this topic. The various climate change reports (1996, 2001) prepared by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), have provided the scientific framework that ultimately led to the Kyoto protocol on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (particularly carbon dioxide) due to the burning of fossil fuels. Numerous peer-reviewed studies reported in recent literature have attempted to verify several of the projections on climate change that have been detailed by the IPCC reports. The global warming debate as presented by the media usually focuses on the increasing mean temperature of the earth, associated extreme weather events and future climate projections of increasing frequency of extreme weather events worldwide. In reality, the climate change issue is considerably more complex than an increase in the earth's mean temperature and in extreme weather events. Several recent studies have questioned many of the projections of climate change made by the IPCC reports and at present there is an emerging dissenting view of the global warming science which is at odds with the IPCC view of the cause and consequence of global warming. Our review suggests that the dissenting view offered by the skeptics or opponents of global warming appears substantially more credible than the supporting view put forth by the proponents of global warming. Further, the projections of future climate change over the next fifty to one hundred years is based on insufficiently verified climate models and are therefore not considered reliable at this point in time.

Doi (permanent) address for the paper 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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July, 2005


Chop down those trees!

Changing environmental conditions in the Canadian Rockies are stifling the mating choices of butterflies in the region, say University of Alberta researchers. Smaller and less abundant alpine meadows--largely the result of human activities--are diminishing the alpine butterfly gene pool, creating a pattern that could lead to the butterflies being less able to survive, said Dr. Jens Roland, a biological scientist at the University of Alberta and an author of a paper on the subject that has been published recently in Molecular Ecology.

Working with colleagues in the U of A Department of Biological Sciences, Roland and doctoral student Nusha Keyghobadi used samples of butterfly dispersal and genetic variability taken from the Kananaskis region in Alberta to show a correlation between less genetic diversity and smaller meadows. According to Roland, the altitude of the tree line in the Canadian Rockies is rising--likely due to global warming--and, outside of national parks, forest fires are usually suppressed. These factors are combining to create larger forests and smaller alpine meadows. This is bad news for butterflies in the Rockies, such as the Parnasissus, which Roland studies, because they require two things that they can easily find in meadows: sunlight and stone crop.

Butterflies need sunlight to elevate their body temperatures in order to fly, and forests are generally too shady for them to travel through with quickness and ease. Parnasissus also need stone crop, a plant that grows in meadows and is the only suitable host for alpine butterfly larvae. Therefore, alpine butterflies do not generally travel beyond the meadows they are born in, and the shrinking meadows could lead to inbreeding and the decreased diversity in the gene pool, Roland said. "In general, inbreeding leads a species to be more vulnerable to a variety of mortality factors that lower survival rates," Roland explained. "This has been demonstrated for other species of butterflies."

Only a few species of butterflies are threatened in the Canadian Rockies, but many more are threatened in Europe, where the problem of shrinking alpine meadows is older and more acute. Roland believes the results of his study can inform conservation biologists in Europe to help them save their butterflies.

As for protecting the butterflies in the Canadian Rockies, Roland would like to see more prescribed burning of forests to increase the number and size of alpine meadows. However, unlike the park areas, the unprotected land areas are often used for commercial purposes and are therefore less likely to be allowed to burn. "They do prescribed burning in the national parks for general maintenance, but they also do it to increase the meadow areas, which animals such as sheep and elk like to inhabit. The offshoot is that it also helps smaller animals, such as the butterflies," Roland said.


Kyoto is dead let it be buried

The following article by economist Alan Wood appeared in yesterday's edition of Australia's national Daily, The Australian. It includes a useful summary of the recent House of Lords report:

Showing what a skilful politician he is, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in his role as president of the G8, managed to simultaneously read the burial service for the Kyoto Treaty while declaring the corpse still breathed. In a sense, though, he is right. The issue of global climate change and how to deal with it is still very much alive. What is dead is Europe's attempt to impose its highly regulated socialist model of climate control on the rest of the world, striking a calculated economic blow at the US in the process.

So the need to ensure what Blair calls "a new dialogue" on reducing greenhouse gas emissions proceeds on a transparent and well-informed basis is crucial. It is by no means obvious that it will. According to Australia's Minister for the Environment, Ian Campbell, the challenge is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 50 per cent "some time this century". England has a target of a 60 per cent reduction by 2050. This would involve a substantial rise in the cost of energy, particularly carbon-based energy.

Yet the reaction of the Australian and other governments to rising petrol prices is to deny all blame and emphasise their policies are helping to prevent an even bigger rise. These are the people who will cut emissions by 50 per cent to 60 per cent?

I chose this example because it conveniently links in to the report of the select committee on economic affairs of the Britain's House of Lords on the Economics of Climate Change. The report was released on July 6, obviously to coincide with the G8 meeting, where climate change was one of the main issues put on the agenda by Blair. The report deserves attention, because it raises serious questions about the way the global warming issue is being handled by governments and about the reliability and probity of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - the key international body behind the global warming forecasts governments rely on. The first chapter of the report dismisses Kyoto and says the public needs to be told of the costs that will be imposed on it if the far more telling initiatives needed to tackle climate change in any significant way are introduced.

"The fuel protests of 1999-2000 [when the Howard Government dropped the indexation of petrol excise] are testimony to the sensitivity of the public to even modestly rising energy prices," the report says. "Substantial increases in energy prices must be an integral part of any policy for reducing carbon emissions." It wants the British Government to come clean on the cost of its emission target, but there is no sign it or any other government is keen to do that. Equally important, the report raises serious questions about the integrity of the IPCC, with the clear implication that a dangerous amount of politics is being mixed in with the science of global warming projections.

One example it picks up is what it calls the Henderson/Castles critique. David Henderson is a former chief economist at the OECD and Ian Castles is a former commonwealth statistician and senior Australian policy adviser. Henderson and Castles have criticised the economics behind some the key IPCC scenarios on global warming that are driving government policy on greenhouse in many countries, including this one. The IPCC's response has been personal denigration of Henderson and Castles and an attempt to dismiss their arguments as of no consequence.

In contrast, the Lords committee found that they had performed a valuable public service, commenting that without them the debate now swirling around the emissions scenarios would never have taken place. All the witnesses other than the IPCC's own supported Henderson and Castles. And they aren't the only ones questioning the IPCC's work. The British Treasury, for example, doubted the growth figures used in the scenarios. The committee was incredulous to find the IPCC had no intention of reviewing its scenarios before their next assessment of climate change. It said that in the light of the serious questions raised, the IPCC should urgently review its emission scenarios.

The committee was also highly critical of the involvement of political representatives in drafting policy summaries. It quoted one witness who said government sensitivities meant wording that suggested costs of climate control would be large, for example, might "upset" governments who were claiming they would be small and easily bearable, and only agreed wording was used. The committee said it not only could see no justification for this government involvement, but it opened the way for climate science and economics to be determined, at least in part, by political requirements rather than the evidence.

The committee also found some evidence that scientists who did not agree with mainstream scientific consensus on the IPCC were dropped from its panels and less qualified experts substituted. One case was an expert on malaria, Paul Reiter, nominated by the US Government and rejected by the IPCC. "We cannot prove that Professor Reiter's nomination was rejected because of the likelihood that he would argue warming and malaria are not correlated in the manner the IPCC reports suggest. But the suspicion must be there ... It seems to us that there remains a risk that [the] IPCC has become a 'knowledge monopoly', in some respects unwilling to listen to those who do not pursue the consensus line."

Kyoto is dead, but there is a high risk what follows it will also be deeply flawed if governments uncritically accept, as they now seem to, that the IPCC's projections on climate change are a sound basis for future policy. As the committee concludes: "The science of climate change leaves considerable uncertainty about the future". Action against the risk of global warming is prudent. But governments and their citizens need untainted scientific and economic evidence about the extent of global warming and the costs and benefits of various responses before they can react sensibly.


Malaria hasn't resurfaced in the United States since DDT was banned. But it remains one of the most potent killers in tropical regions, including parts of Central and South America and especially in Africa. An estimated 300 million people contract malaria every year, and at least 2 million of them die, mostly African children under the age of 5. Until 1999, malaria was a far deadlier plague than AIDS. Even those who survive malaria may suffer brain damage.

There are no effective vaccines against malaria, and drugs needed to treat it are prohibitively expensive. Several prominent health and relief organizations have tried other methods to keep malaria in check, such as dousing bed netting with less harmful chemicals, but they haven't worked very well.

However, a handful of nations, including South Africa, have had remarkable success controlling malaria by spraying small amounts of DDT on interior walls in homes, where it kills or repels the specific mosquito species that transmits the disease when it bites.

Still, the World Health Organization and USAID, which receive funding from the American government, will not pay for DDT treatments because of American prohibitions on its use. That ban ought to be lifted — or eased.

Last month, scientists in London announced that they'd discovered two types of fungi that kill malaria-carrying mosquitoes but which are harmless to humans. That's hopeful news, but it could take up to five years before the fungi could be synthesized for use against malaria. Until then, limited and closely monitored applications of DDT may help hasten the day when malaria in Africa and other parts of the developing world is little more than a memory — as it is here.

More here


One of my readers writes as follows with reference to my post of yesterday:

"The precautionary principle is an anti-progress, anti-technology ideology that would cause the health of our nation to stagnate instead of steadily improving. "

Is it just me or is this massive irony. The same people who are terrified of technological progress advocate every kind of social and personal experimentation.

Genetically modified corn -- It's been tested on animals and had its molecular constituents examined, but who knows there might be something we don't know about.

Nuclear energy -- we can't use it because we can't be absolutely sure about it's storing its waste products for a million years.

Same sex marriage -- never occurred before in any known civilization, no problem. Let's do it, kumbaya.

Multiculturalism -- ceaselessly attack the dominant and successful culture and urge the adoption of the values of failed cultures. No problem, all cultures are equal (except in the ability to earn money, which is unimportant compared to other cultural abilities, like body piercing).


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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005


We would never get out of bed if we applied the "precautionary principle" consistently. Heaps of everyday activities (like driving a car or dining out) are far more dangerous than the things Greernies fuss about

Once again, proponents of the precautionary principle have tried to convince us that we are always "better safe than sorry." Dr. Bruce Barrett recently published an article in favor of using this poorly defined doctrine to govern public health issues, making it in effect an institutionalized "fear factor."

The UN Rio Declaration of 1992 states that "In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation." As applied, the principle would cause various scientific activities and technologies to be banned, even after tests have failed to show demonstrable harm. It turns out that there may actually be more risk in using this principle than in not using it, as it often leads to rejection of the same technological advances that have enhanced human health and longevity.

Advocates of the precautionary principle make arguments that reveal their stance as ideological and anti-technological. Barrett dramatically claims that due to under-researched chemicals and industrialization, "humanity now threatens the existence of hundreds of species, and perhaps the long-term health of the planet as a whole." He argues that there are "ethical responsibilities" to interrupt even alleged and potential threats posed by humans. He should remember, though, that we also have an ethical responsibility to use technological resources to move humanity forward and save lives. Barrett calls for more regulation and "better science." Clearly, though, "better science" comes only from research and innovation.

Proponents of the precautionary principle must know that nothing is completely risk-free. Of course, risks must be evaluated for any new product or technique, but limits must be set as to how much proof of risk is necessary before innovations are banned. No matter how many risks we prove untrue there will always be unknowns, and focusing on these minor or hypothetical threats will greatly impede productive activities. The risk of inaction must also be considered when bans are placed on the development of potentially groundbreaking procedures and practices -- banning them can produce risks in itself. ACSH president Dr. Elizabeth Whelan cites the examples of pesticides and pharmaceuticals in a 2000 editorial and uses the case of chlorine to counter the precautionists. Chlorine, while poisonous at high exposures, is needed to disinfect our water supply, to make necessary pesticides, and to create lifesaving medications. While there are no proven harmful effects from appropriate use of chlorine, and while it has proven to be lifesaving, precautionary principle advocates still argue against chlorine because of hypothetical risks. Further examples can be found in the cases of blood transfusions and organ transplants, both undeniably major advances in medical therapy. Furthermore, had the precautionary principle been used fifty years ago, virtually no pharmaceuticals would be available today. Had it been in effect one hundred years ago, the automobile and air travel would never have been developed.

In addition, fearing all of the possible minor risks of a product or activity takes up time, money, and resources that should be used instead on research, prevention, and treatment efforts -- such as water chlorination.

The precautionary principle is an anti-progress, anti-technology ideology that would cause the health of our nation to stagnate instead of steadily improving. Proponents of this principle are blind to the benefits of technology and want amateur critics to have ultimate power to inhibit the work of qualified scientists -- "just in case."



What have they got to hide?

Top scientists have reacted angrily to a US Congressman who has demanded to see the full financial and research records of three climate experts. The Congressman, Joe Barton, says questions have been raised about a study the experts did on climate history and which is at the heart of the current understanding of global warming.

The dispute surrounds a pair of papers written by Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes at the end of the 1990s suggesting that the past decade was probably warmer than any other in the last one thousand years.

A graph from the papers, showing a sudden up-turn in temperatures in the 20th Century, has been dubbed the "hockey stick" diagram, and has become an icon of global warming.

As such, it has drawn much of the fire aimed at climate science from sceptics. The strategy, in the words of one scientist, appears to be guilt by association: if the hockey stick is wrong, then other science indicating global warming must also be suspect.

Republican Congressman Joe Barton waded into the controversy late in June. In his capacity as chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Mr Barton wrote to Mann, Bradley and Hughes.

He demanded they should send details from the whole of their careers, covering sources of funding, whereabouts of raw data, and full computer codes. His letters also talk of "methodological flaws", "data errors", and of questions about the authors' willingness to share their data. To quote:

" recent peer-reviewed articles in Science, Geophysical Research Letters, and Energy & Environment, researchers question the results of [the hockey stick] work. As these researchers find, based on the available information, the conclusions concerning temperature histories - and hence whether warming in the 20th Century is actually unprecedented - cannot be supported by the Mann et al studies... ".

Mr Barton also wrote to the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which reproduced the hockey stick in its 2001 scientific assessment of global warming, and to the director of the National Science Foundation, which funds much of the climate science done in the United States.

The letters were also signed by the Republican chairmen of the Sub-committee on Oversight and Investigations - a body that has previously looked into the Enron and oil-for-food scandals. The committee is concerned, the BBC was told, that a climate policy that could cost trillions of dollars must be seen to be based on solid data.

Many scientists have reacted with astonishment at the aggressive tone of the letters, and the extent of their demands.

Henry Waxman, a Democrat member of the committee, wrote to Mr Barton asking him to withdraw them. "Some might interpret them as an attempt to bully and harass climate experts who have reached conclusions with which you disagree," he wrote. Now, the three scientists are making their own formal responses.

Raymond Bradley, with only a hint of irony, welcomes the Congressmen's interest in "the basis for President George Bush's recent statement" acknowledging the consensus on global warming and mankind's role in it. He adds that "it's absurd" to think the conclusion of the IPCC's assessment on global warming rested on any one figure or table.

Dr Bradley told BBC News he thought the intent behind the letters was to undermine confidence in the IPCC which is currently working on its next assessment due to be published in 2007.

Dr Thomas Crowley, of Duke University, whose own climate reconstructions resemble those of Mann et al argues there is a more general intent to intimidate climate researchers. He warns about the direction Mr Barton's detailed requests could lead.

"For example, requests could be made to palaeontologists and molecular biologists for all data and files supporting evolution," he writes in EOS, the house journal of the American Geophysical Union. Likewise, radiochemists could be entrained into pseudo-scientific debate because of all the massive and magnificent geochronological data that have been gathered over the last few decades."

The issue became even more complex over the weekend when Representative Sherwood Boehlert, chairman of the House Committee on Science, declared a turf war with Mr Barton. As well as saying the Committee on Energy and Commerce has no jurisdiction over climate science, he admonishes the intervention as "at best foolhardy", and argues that the tone of the original letters reflects on the committee's "inexperience" in matters of science.

And support for Mann, Bradley and Hughes has come from the American Association for the Advancement of Science; from the newly appointed president of the US National Academy of Sciences; from the European Geophysical Union; and from a clutch of individual experts, including Nobel Laureate Mario Molina.

But others are standing up for Congressman Barton. Myron Ebell, of the Competitiveness Enterprise Institute and a prominent global warming sceptic, told BBC News: "We've always wanted to get the science on trial", and "we would like to figure out a way to get this into a court of law", adding "this could work".



The notion that a zero pollution objective is not necessarily ideal policy is one of the more difficult concepts for environmental economists to convey. After all, if pollution is bad shouldn’t we design policy to completely eliminate it? Many of us are drawn to the field based on a genuine concern for the environment and the belief that economics provides a powerful tool for helping solve environmental problems. Yet we are often in the position of recommending policies that appear on the surface to be anti-environmental. How can these observations be reconciled? The answer lies in understanding scarcity: we have unlimited wants, but live in a world with limited means. Economists in general study how people make decisions when faced with scarcity. Scarcity implies that resources devoted to one end are not available to meet another; hence there is an opportunity cost of any action. This includes environmental policy. For example, funds used by a municipality to retrofit its water treatment plant to remove trace amounts of arsenic (a carcinogen) cannot also be used to improve local primary education. Environmental economists are tasked with recommending policies that reflect scarcity of this type at the society level. For both individuals and societies scarcity necessitates tradeoffs, and the reality of tradeoffs can make the complete elimination of pollution undesirable. Once this is acknowledged the pertinent question becomes how much pollution should be eliminated. How should we decide? Who gets to decide? To help provide answers economists use an analytical tool called cost-benefit analysis.

Cost-benefit analysis provides an organizational framework for identifying, quantifying, and comparing the costs and benefits (measured in dollars) of a proposed policy action. The final decision is informed (though not necessarily determined) by a comparison of the total costs and benefits. While this sounds logical enough, cost-benefit analysis has been cause for substantial debate when used in the environmental arena (see the online debate between Lisa Heinzerling, Frank Ackerman, and Kerry Smith). The benefits of environmental regulations can include, for example, reduced human and wildlife mortality, improved water quality, species preservation, and better recreation opportunities. The costs are usually reflected in higher prices for consumer goods and/or higher taxes. The latter are market effects readily measured in dollars, while the former are nonmarket effects for which dollar values are not available. In addition to complicating the practice of cost-benefit analysis (dollar values for the nonmarket effects must be inferred rather than directly observed) this raises ethical issues. Should we assign dollar values to undisturbed natural places? To human lives saved? To the existence of blue whales and grey wolves? If we decide such things are too ‘priceless’ to assign dollar values we lose the ability to use cost-benefit analysis to inform the decision. What then is the alternative? How do we decide? Who gets to decide?

Environmental economists tend to favor cost-benefit analysis in the policy arena because of the discipline and transparency it provides in evaluating policy options. It is easy to evaluate absolutes. Most would agree that reducing nitrogen contamination of groundwater wells, limiting the occurrence of code red ozone alerts, and preserving habitat for grizzly bears are worthy goals. Determining the relative merits of any one of these compared to the others, or compared to non-environmental goals such as improving public education, is much more daunting. Because policy making is ultimately about evaluating the relative merits of different actions some mechanism is needed to rank the alternatives. Without the discipline of cost-benefit analysis it is not clear how the interests, claims, and opinions of parties affected by a proposed regulation can be examined and compared. Criterion such as ‘moral’ or ‘fair’ do not lend themselves well to comparison and are subject to wide ranging interpretation. Who gets to decide what is moral or fair? Cost-benefit analysis is far from perfect, but it demands a level of objectivity and specificity that are necessary components of good decision making.

To begin this post I described an apparent contradiction: environmental economists who consider themselves ‘environmentalists’ will on occasion recommend environmental regulations that do not seek to completely eliminate pollution. Hopefully it is now clear that this is really not a contradiction. Environmentalists come in many forms, including activists, lobbyists, spokesmen, natural scientists, and even economists. Economics provides a structured framework for evaluating outcomes absent hype and advocacy. Cost-benefit analysis is a part of this. By using the tools of their field environmental economists can contribute unbiased information that can lead to better policy decisions, and ultimately better environmental outcomes.


Big legal victory over climate alarmists: "In a key decision for the future of national energy policy, a federal court upheld the Environmental Protection Agency's refusal to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. The Federal District Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit concluded that, even if the EPA possesses the authority to regulate carbon dioxide (an issue the Court did not attempt to resolve), EPA acted within its legal discretion in declining to regulate carbon dioxide. 'This is a great victory for American consumers, who do not have to worry that EPA, under the pretext of unscientific climate alarmism, will force automakers to downsize the average vehicle or make costly modifications pricing larger, safer cars out of their reach,' said Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis, Jr."


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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005


What a laugh!

Many people concerned with oil consumption, including President Bush and members of Congress, are pointing to hybrids - vehicles with electric motors as well as internal combustion engines - as a way to reduce fuel use and dependence on imported oil. The first ones to reach the market did that; the two-seat Honda Insight, introduced in December 1999, was rated at 70 miles per gallon, and it was followed by the five-seat Toyota Prius, also built for reduced fuel consumption. Those cars have no nonhybrid equivalents. Then came the Civic hybrid, designed to perform almost as well as the original, only using a lot less gasoline.

But the pendulum has swung. The 2005 Honda Accord hybrid gets about the same miles per gallon as the basic four-cylinder model, according to a review by Consumer Reports, a car-buyer's guide, and it saves only about two miles a gallon compared with the V-6 model on which it is based. Thanks to the hybrid technology, though, it accelerates better. Hybrid technology, it seems, is being used in much the same way as earlier under-the-hood innovations that increased gasoline efficiency: to satisfy the American appetite for acceleration and bulk.

Despite the use of hybrids to achieve better performance with about the same fuel economy, consumers who buy the cars continue to get a tax credit that the Internal Revenue Service allows under a "clean fuels" program that does not take fuel savings into account. And the image of hybrids as fuel-stingy workhorses persists. In a June 15 speech at an energy forum, Mr. Bush proposed a tax credit of up to $4,000 to "encourage people to make right choices in the marketplace that will make us less dependent on foreign sources of oil and to help improve our environment."

But some hybrids save hardly any fuel, energy efficiency advocates say. "The new ones are all being used for power," said Kateri Callahan, the president of the Alliance to Save Energy, a nonprofit advocacy group based here. Hybrids should be encouraged, Ms. Callahan said, because their electric components some day could be useful in an all-electric car, perhaps running on a fuel cell. But she added that the government should be careful about which hybrids it subsidizes through tax benefits. Now, she said, the car companies are "building to the high-end market. They think people want performance."

More here


An email from John McLean ( to Benny Peiser:

Is the Earth warming? You would think so from all the media comments in the last few months and especially last week but it's a claim that's far from certain. Data from the UK's CRU shows that temperatures peaked in 1998 (due to a very strong El Nino according to general consensus), dropped sharply in 1999, dropped further in 2000, climbed in 2001, peaked again in early 2002, albeit lower than 1998, and since then the monthly global average temperature anomalies have not exceeded those of the first three months of 2002. Sure there have been the usual fluctuations but no consistently warm period has come close to the temperature levels just over 3 years ago.

A graph of those monthly temperature anomalies here is open to interpretation as to whether the trend is flat or decreasing, but there is no way that the trend over the last 39 months of the graph can be regarded as increasing. This lack of recent warming and the temperature decreases in 1999 and 2000 raise another important question. If the temperature is not increasing while the level of carbon dioxide increases annually, then what effect does atmospheric CO2 really have on temperature? No influence at all or only a negligible influence? Either way it doesn't matter much because both raise very serious questions about the merit of the Kyoto Agreement and, for that matter, any other steps to limit the emission of carbon dioxide.


Baron's 80-member law firm has made hundreds of millions keeping asbestos litigation alive and kicking -- including kicking dozens of businesses into bankruptcy. His ethics to win cases have been called into question, particularly after the unearthing of a remarkable memo in 1997. As Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., described it, the B&B paralegals memo went "well beyond what one would think necessary to refresh the memory" of a client that had worked with an asbestos product. When Baron himself asked about whether his firm implanted memories, rather than just refreshed them, he defiantly said: "Do we implant memories? Yeah, probably we do. Is that something that is wrong? I don't believe it is." So, witnesses should just be puppets for legal ventriloquists? Yet, such answers apparently made him a hero to the trial bar, which named him president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America in 2000.

And B&B has invested wisely in politicians. Baron and his firm were the largest contributors to Sen. John Edwards, a fellow trial attorney, in his presidential bid; they gave hundreds of thousands to other candidates (only $15,250 to Republicans), and Baron himself co-chaired the Democratic National Committee's Kerry Victory '04. Such generosity was one reason Baron could joke at an asbestos bankruptcy conference for lawyers in June 2002 about a legislative solution that would have provided a trust fund for victims without going through lawyers: "Lastly, there is another reason [the legislative solution] won't happen. I picked up my Wall Street Journal last night . and what did I learn? 'The plaintiff's bar is all but running the Senate.' Now, I really, strongly disagree with that, particularly the words 'all but.'''

Now, Baron "all but" hopes his Senate muscle will keep open his pipeline to what he believes is another financial windfall -- municipal lawsuits over MTBE water contamination. The House has passed an Energy Bill that would exempt MTBE makers from liability in suits claiming their product is defective. The Senate has no such provision. Baron wants to keep it out and prevent any compromise such as one now proposed to create a trust fund to deal with contamination from the bill. Why? Not public health, nor municipalities' interests. It's money for him and his firm; they are involved in more than half the 90 outstanding MTBE suits.

MTBE stands for methyl tertiary butyl ether. It became an additive in gasoline as a replacement for toxic lead to eliminate engine knock in 1979. But MTBE really became pervasive when Congress, in the Clean Air Act of 1990, ordered gasoline contain 2% oxygenates by volume in those areas that had carbon monoxide and smog problems. There were really only two such oxygenates available, MTBE and ethanol. And MTBE became the additive of choice because it cost less, could be easily mixed and refined into gasoline and then shipped by pipeline for distribution. Most important, it was available in sufficient quantities so there would be no supply disruptions. Any other choice at the time would have required a major shift in agricultural practices and left drivers paying higher prices and in long gas lines.

As far as the clean air benefits, MTBE delivered them. According to EPA back in 2000, the reformulated gasoline, 90% of it blended with MTBE, cut smog-forming pollutant emissions by more than 17% -- 64,000 tons of harmful pollution -- the equivalent of taking 10 million vehicles off the roads. It was particularly effective in cutting emissions of benzene, a known human carcinogen, by some 43%. But while good for the air, MTBE proved bad for the water in a small number of places with leaky underground gasoline tanks.

The same thing that made it good in blending in gas, unfortunately also made it spread faster than other gasoline components in water. And even at levels as low as 20 to 40 parts per billion -- far less than the proverbial drop in a bucket -- it could produce water that smelled of turpentine and tasted the same, although such contamination remained 20,000 to 100,000 times below what studies had shown for MTBE to have an adverse health effect on rodents.

But P-U is P-U, and no one wants to hold his nose when he drinks water. And when the South Tahoe Public Utility in California found some of its water wells contaminated by MTBE, it hired trial lawyers to get the water fixed. But they didn't target the gas stations with the leaking tanks. Those mom and pop places didn't have deep enough pockets to attract high powered lawyers. The lawyers went after the oil companies instead.

Never mind that MTBE did what it was supposed to do -- clean the air. Never mind that Congress "all but" mandated it. Never mind that gasoline distributors can't deny sales to independent dealers without violating antitrust. Never mind that gas stations are licensed to operate by states and localities for safety and health purposes. And never mind that, as Robert Hirsch, associate director for water at the U.S. Geological Survey, told Congress, "MTBE is primarily an aesthetic (taste and odor) problem," not a serious health concern.

The lawyers argued MTBE was a defective product because of its water solubility, and as such the oil companies were strictly liable -- meaning they had to pay no matter the culpability of others or the benefit that MTBE provided.

And they got a well-vetted San Francisco jury to agree with them. Only before the jury could make an award, the oil companies settled: Tahoe got $69 million -- and the trial lawyers got a whopping $23 million for their work.

The oil piggy bank got bigger in the next case in Santa Monica, Calif. Santa Monica in 1996 found MTBE in the highest concentrations in its wells of any place in the country, about 610 parts per billion in one place. Still not hazardous to health, but smelly. The oil companies offered to ship water in until a solution was found, but Santa Monica wanted to keep its water self sufficiency. After years of going back and forth, it hired Baron & Budd in 2000.

The case never went to trial. But with the jury's defective product finding in the Tahoe case hanging heavy over the oil companies, a settlement was finally reached in 2003. The oil companies agreed to a total of $121 million in cash payments plus a new water treatment plant -- estimated cost over $300 million.

And for this effort, how much did Baron & Budd and their co-counsels bill Santa Monica? "[A]s much as $66 million in public funds," the city reported, after it recovered from the shock at the price tag and filed a suit against the attorneys. That suit alleges that the trial lawyers had caused or permitted delays that "increased the amount of attorney's fees . by tens of millions of dollars." In short, Santa Monica claims it could have gotten its money and clean water sooner if the lawyers it had hired hadn't held things up. The lawyer for the attorneys claims the fees are covered by the cash payment and that the city has no legal defense. A trial conference is scheduled for Aug. 1.

Santa Monica provides a warning flag to other communities about jumping on this toxic tort train. It also should inform politicians' actions.

In opposing the provision to limit defective product claims against oil companies, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., intoned: "It is bad public policy to put special interests above public health concerns. Companies need to be held accountable when their product or their misconduct causes the public harm." Will Boxer, who received $909,033 from lawyers and law firms for her 2000 election run, including $5,500 from Baron & Budd, now apply that standard to Baron & Budd and support a compromise creating a trust fund to clean up the water that would serve everyone but the lawyers? Will other senators? Or will they simply hold their noses at the smell and implant this memory on drivers and local communities, who ultimately will pay these lawyers' bills?



Summary of another academic paper showing natural fluctuations in glacier size. From CO2 Science Magazine, 13 July 2005

"What was done

Physical parameters of glaciolacustrine sediments retrieved from two glacier-fed lakes and a peat bog north of the ice cap of northern Folgefonna, the seventh largest glacier in Norway, were used to derive a long-term history of glacier equilibrium-line altitude (ELA).

What was learned

The authors note that their ELA reconstruction reveals both century- and millennial-scale glacier expansions along with some less extensive decadal-scale fluctuations over the past 2300 years. Most notable is: (1) the ELA minimum of the first Subatlantic glacial event that preceded the Roman Warm Period (RWP), (2) the dramatic rise of the ELA at the start of the RWP, which peaked between 2000 and 1800 years before present (yr BP), (3) the subsequent steep but jagged ELA decline throughout the Dark Ages Cold Period (DACP) that extended from approximately 1800 to 1200 yr BP, (4) the rapid rise of the ELA at the commencement of the Medieval Warm Period, which prevailed from 1200 to 500 yr BP, (5) the return of the ELA to DACP levels during the Little Ice Age, which prevailed from 500 to 100 yr BP, and (6) the development of the Modern Warm Period over the final century of the record.

Also of interest is the fact that although the current ELA of the glacier is higher than the ELA that prevailed during the Medieval Warm Period, it is lower than the ELA that prevailed during the Roman Warm Period, indicative of the fact that the region's current temperature has not yet risen to the level of warmth that prevailed in that part of the world two millennia ago.

What it means

Independent of whatever the atmosphere's CO2 concentration may be doing, earth's climate oscillates on a millennial time scale that brings recurrent alternating multi-century cold and warm spells to all parts of the planet, as illustrated in this study for a portion of western Norway.

Bakke, J., Lie, O, Nesje, A., Dahl, S.O. and Paasche, O. 2005. Utilizing physical sediment variability in glacier-fed lakes for continuous glacier reconstructions during the Holocene, northern Folgefonna, western Norway. The Holocene 15: 161-176.


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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005

Protecting California tiger salamander to cost $367 million, study says

Is this a good use of the people's money?

Protecting the California tiger salamander as a threatened species will cost the state $367 million in lost development opportunities over the next two decades, federal wildlife officials said Friday. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service analysis estimated the economic impact of designating about 382,000 acres in 20 California counties as the salamander's "critical habitat" where development would be restricted.

The critical habitat designations for the California tiger salamander's central population - which includes populations in the San Joaquin Valley, Central Coast and San Francisco Bay area - were proposed in August last year, and a final rule is due by Aug. 10. The Fish and Wildlife Service sent the analysis, prepared by Oakland-based Charles River Associates, to the Federal Register, opening a public comment period that will end Aug. 3.

According to the study, about 94 percent of the projected economic loss would be in urban counties with fast-rising housing prices. Critical habitat designations would cost $131 million in Alameda County, $91 million Contra Costa County and $67 million in Monterey County. Santa Clara, San Benito and Fresno counties would also face significant economic loss.

Scientists say the tiger salamander, a terrestrial amphibian that lives mostly underground in grasslands and woodlands, has lost 75 percent of its native habitat to urban sprawl and the invasion of nonnative species.



For years, Democrats and their environmentalist allies have been accusing the Bush administration of "ignoring the science" they claim shows humanity is warming the planet.... What's not debatable is the utter hypocrisy of the Democrats, who ever since the Clinton administration have successfully forced pesticide regulators at the Environmental Protection Agency to ignore the science when establishing pesticide regulations. They nearly derailed the appointment of the new EPA Administrator this spring over this issue and now they're advising the Bush administration to defy a 2003 Federal Appeals Court order requiring that the EPA consider human toxicity data if available.

Without reliable exposure and human toxicity data, EPA regulators must rely on worst case assumptions and are required to apply additional 10-fold "uncertainty factors" to their risk calculations. All too often this means elimination of specific uses of pesticides, hurting farmers and consumers by making it harder and more expensive to protect our food supply and homes from pests.

To fill our knowledge gaps, the EPA had been planning a two-year study of Florida families to assess exposure to pesticides in and around the home. The agency chose Florida because of the tropical climate and abundance of termites and other creepy crawlies, hence residents have a greater exposure to pesticides than other states. Participant households were to be paid less than $1,000 and given a video camera with which to record their families' activities. Not surprisingly, the New York Times misreported that this "would have paid parents for allowing tests on their children." Rather, the study would only have assessed the family's current exposure to pesticides and would not have required or encouraged any additional pesticide use.

The Democrats apparently could not tolerate the possibility of less-restrictive pesticide regulations, so they placed a hold on the nomination of EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson until he cancelled the planned study in April. Then in early June, California Democrats Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Henry Waxman released a report objecting to the EPA's consideration of data from already-conducted human testing of pesticides when assessing their risks -- data that the Federal Appeals Court said the EPA must consider. Sen. Boxer said the report "proves the Bush administration is encouraging dangerous pesticide testing on humans with no standards."

The reality is that these tests are not dangerous. They only occur after the chemicals have been exhaustively tested in several other animal species and the purpose is merely to confirm the pesticides are as non-toxic to humans at a specific dose (called the No Observable Adverse Effect Level) as they are in the test animals. The Democrats would prefer that the regulators be kept in the dark to ensure overly stringent regulations.

More here


By Philip Stott

Since the Rio Conference in 1992, the Greens and their camp-following Guardianistas have tried, with Cromwellian zeal, to employ the threat of 'global warming' to induce Protestant guilt in us all, to cap growth, to change lifestyles, to attack the car, industry and the Great Satan of America. Now it is surely time to face the facts: there isn't a snowflake-in-hell's chance of this altering real life. Indeed, it would be disastrous for the developing world, the other plank of the G8 agenda, if it did. Without increasing demand in the countries of the North, there is no way in which the poorer countries of the South will be able to grow out of their poverty. The attempt to cap growth through the environmental proxy of 'global warming' is a sleight of hand too far. Luckily, it appears that the general public has no intention of being conned.

But the failure of the Greens is not just with the public. While playing the climate-change card at the G8 Summit, the final Gleneagles' declaration shows that the leaders of the developed world have no intention of sacrificing growth and economic success for an ascetic 'global warming' religion.

First, there is the clear recognition that global energy demand is expected to grow by 60 per cent over the next 25 years, especially in China and India, and that this will require the maintenance and development of 'secure, reliable and affordable energy sources' that are fundamental to economic stability and development, because 'rising energy demand poses a challenge to energy security given increased reliance on global energy markets'. The declaration also correctly acknowledges that around two billion people lack modern energy services. As the document states: 'We need to work with our partners to increase access to energy if we are to support the achievement of the goals agreed at the Millennium Summit in 2000.'

Secondly, the idea of capping 'greenhouse gas' emissions is cleverly replaced by an emphasis on technological innovation and imaginative development. The Kyoto Protocol is effectively dead. To quote Michael McCarthy, the environment editor of the Independent: 'The failed agenda that Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, the World Wide Fund for Nature and others were complaining of - that the US has still not agreed to cut its carbon dioxide emissions - was the green groups' own agenda, not the British government's. Tony Blair never remotely saw this meeting as an occasion where George Bush would rejoin the Kyoto protocol.'

The new emphasis is thus to 'promote innovation, energy efficiency, conservation, improve policy, regulatory and financing frameworks; and accelerate deployment of cleaner technologies, particularly lower-emitting technologies', working with 'developing countries to enhance private investment and transfer of technologies, taking into account their own energy needs and priorities'.

Thirdly, and perhaps most important of all, there is a clear shift in emphasis from the control of 'global warming' to the socioeconomic adaptation to climate change: 'Adaptation to the effects of climate change due to both natural and human factors is a high priority for all nations, particularly in areas that may experience the most significant change, such as the Arctic, the African Sahel and other semi-arid regions, low-lying coastal zones, and small island states also subject to subsidence. As we work on our own adaptation strategies, we will work with developing countries on building capacity to help them improve their resilience and integrate adaptation goals into sustainable development strategies.' This is something that I, and many other scientists and economists, have been arguing for a long time, and it is rewarding to witness the move in this direction.

Indeed, the whole Gleneagles climate statement is encouraging. Its true focus, quite rightly in my opinion, is on energy rather than on climate change, and the document even concludes with the statement: 'We welcome the Russian decision to focus on energy in its Presidency of the G8 in 2006 and the programme of meetings that Russia plans to hold.' It would thus appear that neither the public nor their leaders have been taken in by 'global warming' hysteria. There will be no capping of dynamic growth for mistaken and misguided environmental aims. Instead, there will be a much-needed reappraisal of nuclear power and of clean coal, the latter a genuine Canadian contribution....

Luckily, the Green dogma has failed and common economic sense is beginning to prevail. Perhaps, quite unexpectedly, the Gleneagles Summit may prove to have been a turning point. In the words of an editorial in The Australian on 13 July: 'As the G8 Gleneagles summit proved, there is no consensus on how to combat global warming today or tomorrow but the bell now tolls on a decade of illusion.'

More here

China to build more nukes: "A state-owned utility plans to build 10 nuclear power plants in eastern China as the country tries to reduce its reliance on coal, a state newspaper reported Friday. Six of the 1,000-megawatt reactors will be built in Shandong province in the east and four in Liaoning in the northeast, the China Daily said, citing Liu Changqing, a senior director of the state-owned China Power Investment Corp. China is struggling to meet surging power demand amid economic growth that exceeds 9 percent a year, while also trying to cut its heavy reliance on dirty coal, which has left cities choked in smog. Construction dates for the new power plants are still unknown, the China Daily said. No decision has been made on what technology the reactors will use, Liu was quoted as saying. China's first commercial nuclear reactor began operation in 1991."


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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005


A major source of chemical contamination in the Arctic turns out to be bird droppings. Wind currents and human activities long have been blamed for fouling the pristine Arctic. But a study by a group of Canadian researchers found that the chemical pollution in areas frequented by seabirds can be many times higher than in nearby regions. Researchers led by Jules Blais of the University of Ottawa studied several ponds below the cliffs at Cape Vera on Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic. Scientists report in Friday's issue of the journal Science that the ponds, which receive falling guano from a colony of northern fulmars that nest on the cliffs, have highly elevated amounts of chemicals.

"If long-range transport was the only thing bringing these chemicals north, we would expect to see a very even distribution," Blais said in a telephone interview. But the chemicals are concentrated in some places, he said, "and we have found a reason ... they can follow biological connections." Blais calls it the boomerang effect. "These contaminants had been washed into the ocean, where we generally assumed they were no longer affecting terrestrial ecosystems. Our study shows that sea birds, which feed in the ocean but then come back to land, are returning not only with food for their young but with contaminants as well. The contaminants accumulate in their bodies and are released on land," Blais said.

The guano that falls into the ponds includes bits of fish, carrion, squid and other marine creatures eaten by the fulmars. Research team member John Smol of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, said "the effect is to elevate concentrations of pollutants such as mercury and DDT to as much as 60 times that of areas not influenced by seabird populations." Todd O'Hara of the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks said the report adds new detail to "the role of biotransport in bringing contaminants to the Arctic with clear local impacts. "Certainly, I believe biotransport is an underestimated process and for subsistence users it clearly indicates the need for local assessments of food sources and not to generalize about Arctic contamination," said O'Hara, who was not part of Blais team.

Chemicals such as PCB and DDT are no longer being released into the environment in North America, Blais noted, but were designed to last a long time and are doing so. In addition, he said, other chemicals still in use are toxic and also can last in the environment. Perhaps the lessons learned from PCBs should be applied to other hazardous chemicals too, Blais said. The area of the study is one of the most desolate on Earth, Blais said, and the local food chain is dependent on the guano from the seabirds. Their droppings encourage the growth of mosses and plankton in the ponds, which feed lots of insects, which in turn support small birds called snow buntings, he said. If the seabirds were to disappear the whole ecosystem would disappear, he said.

More here


The four giant oil fields, operated by BP PLC and located under thousands of feet of water off the coast of Louisiana, are just beginning to pump their first barrels. At their peak rates later in the decade, they'll produce some 500,000 bbl. per day, an amount akin to floating a small Middle Eastern country such as Syria or Yemen into the Gulf of Mexico. "Add them together, and it's a massive step change," says David Eyton, BP's vice-president for deepwater in the Gulf. "The investment we're making will more than offset declines we're seeing in Alaska and the Continental Shelf."

It may seem today as if the world is running out of oil. The price of crude has hovered around $57 a barrel, in part on fears of a supply crunch in the fourth quarter. Chevron and China National Offshore Oil are battling for control of Unocal. The Senate on June 28 passed the latest version of an energy bill stuffed with $18 billion in tax incentives to encourage energy production. Even legendary oilman T. Boone Pickens is predicting $3-a-gallon gasoline within a year. The national average now: a pricey $2.22.

No doubt, the energy industry is in a precarious position. Two decades of falling prices in the 1980s and '90s discouraged investment. With many of the easy-to-find fields already on the map, big oil producers have been forced to look for new sources in ever-more-hostile environments: not just under thousands of feet of water but also across frozen tundra and in countries rocked by political unrest. As a result, production has risen sluggishly in recent years, while energy demand, particularly from the booming China and India, has exploded. Last year global oil consumption rose 3.4%, to 80.7 million barrels per day, the largest volume increase since 1976.

From that snapshot the oil situation doesn't look good. But there's little reason to assume that the next five years will simply see a continuation of current trends. Thanks to a combination of higher prices, increased exploration and production spending, and improved technology (page 32), oil supplies are poised to grow much faster than they have in recent years. Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA), a respected energy consultant, sees 20 or more major new fields coming on line each year through 2010. Altogether those fields could boost worldwide production capacity 15%, from 87.9 million barrels per day to 101.5 million by the end of the decade, CERA estimates. As a result, supply should exceed demand by 7 million bbl. per day, a huge leap from the current cushion of 1 million bbl. That should take pressure off prices. "OPEC countries have the potential, and [most] are increasing production," says Peter Jackson, a CERA researcher. "Non-OPEC production has increased at quite a lick compared to the 1990s."

Where is the new supply coming from? Pretty much across the globe. After hiking its exploration-and-production expenditures by 50% since 2000, to $12 billion a year, Exxon Mobil Corp expects to add more than 1.2 million bbl. per day of new supply by 2007 from 27 projects, including ones off the coast of Angola and Russia's Sakhalin Island. Chevron Corp. expects its Big Five fields in West Africa, Australia, the Gulf of Mexico, and Kazakhstan to generate 800,000 more bbl. per day by 2009 -- a third of its current production. "We've got that pretty well mapped out," says Chevron Vice-Chairman Peter J. Robertson. "Projects are more complex now. They take a little longer. There's still plenty of oil in the world."

Not everyone agrees, of course. For starters, CERA's projections don't take into account the possibility of political instability, natural disasters, or other unforeseeable events that are facts of life in the oil business. What's more, despite all the new fields coming on stream, some experts argue that they won't be enough to compensate for the declining output of existing fields, which are being depleted at a rate of 5% per year. Since 1960 only four super-giant oilfields have been found outside the Middle East -- in China, Russia, Mexico, and Alaska -- and all except China's Daqing field are in steep decline. "Discovery size is going down," says J. Robinson West, chairman of consultant PFC Energy. "Decline rates are a problem."

Even mighty Saudi Arabia's ability to increase output substantially has come into question. The world's biggest oilfield, Saudi Arabia's Ghawar, has been producing for more than 50 years and is showing signs of age, with increasing amounts of water leaking into the oil, according to technical papers by Saudi Aramco engineers cited in a new book, Twilight in the Desert.

Certainly, global energy producers are struggling to clear all sorts of hurdles as they respond to rising demand. The number of rigs drilling for oil and gas worldwide is up 35% since the start of the decade, to 2,500. That's putting pressure on the prices of oil-field services. Operating costs at major oil companies now average $13.75 a barrel, a 33% increase since 1999, according to brokerage firm A.G. Edwards Inc. Even CERA believes that oil production could hit a plateau around 2020. If that happens, the world economy could face a major setback. Fuel prices would soar and energy-dependent sectors would be seriously crimped. Opening new reserves can be painstakingly complex and slow. BP's operations in the Caspian Sea illustrate the challenges. The company and its partners first signed a production-sharing agreement for the 5-billion-bbl Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli field there in 1994. Discovered by the Soviet Union in the 1970s, the Baku crude is relatively easy to tap. The hard part: agreements to build, and then building, a $3.2 billion pipeline to carry the oil to tankers in the Mediterranean Sea. That took years of negotiations with the governments of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, and neighboring states. The first crude began flowing through the pipeline last month. By 2008 the project should reach its peak capacity of 1 million bbl. per day.

Moreover, much of the new supply expected in the next few years will come from what the industry calls "unconventional sources" -- fields that require additional technologies to harvest their hydrocarbons. These include heavy- sulfur oil that must undergo additional refining before it can be turned into fuels, as well as coal-bed methane fields, where oil and natural gas is drilled within coal deposits. Two other potential energy strikes are tight sands and shale oil, where rock must be fractured using high-pressure water or chemicals to loosen up the reserves. Another major source: offshore deepwater fields.

Unconventional fields cost more to develop than traditional ones do, but their potential is huge. Estimates of the reserves trapped in Canada's oil sands, where oil is mined like coal from big deposits, top 175 billion bbl. -- larger than those of Iran or Iraq. Producers such as Suncor Energy Inc. and Imperial Oil Ltd are expected to spend $38 billion over the next 10 years there, taking already fast-growing production in the country from 1 million barrels per day to 2.6 million.

Such sources will account for 30% of all supplies in 2010, up from just 10% in 1990, according to CERA. ExxonMobil figures the world contains some 7 trillion bbl. of heavy oil, oil sands, and shale-oil reserves alone, an amount roughly equal to those of all conventional reserves. If just 20% of those were recovered, ExxonMobil figures that would top the 1 trillion bbl. of conventional oil produced on the planet to date. If numbers like that prove to be accurate, today's worries over oil supplies could seem like a distant memory in just a few short years. Let's hope the optimists are right.


Male fertility not harmed by phthalates

The California phthalate freaks will be SO disappointed

Contrary to earlier reports, everyday exposure to phthalates -- chemical plasticizers used extensively in household products and in certain medical products -- may not have harmful effects on fertility in young men, a new study shows.

Previous studies suggested that low levels of phthalate exposure could adversely affect human semen, the authors explain in a report in Epidemiology, a medical journal, but high doses of phthalates are required to provoke male reproductive toxicity in rats.

For their study, Dr. Bosse A.G. Jonsson from Lund University Hospital, Sweden, and colleagues looked for associations between phthalate metabolite levels in urine and semen quality and reproductive hormone parameters in 234 young Swedish men entering the military. There was "no clear pattern of associations" between any of the phthalate metabolites and any of the biomarkers of reproductive function measured. In fact, exposure to phthalic acid seemed to be associated with improved reproductive function, as measured by several markers.

"I do not think it is clear whether phthalate constitutes a risk for the male fertility," Jonsson told Reuters Health. "More studies must be performed." "We plan to study biological samples stored in biobanks from pregnant mothers and study the fertility in their grown-up male children," Jonsson added.



Efforts aimed at saving one of the world's rarest birds of prey from extinction may be too late, a genetic analysis by researchers at the University of Michigan and The Peregrine Fund suggests. The last remaining Cape Verde Kites, considered by some to be the rarest raptors in the world, are not Cape Verde Kites at all, but more common Black Kites, the research shows. The real Cape Verde Kites apparently disappeared some time ago and never were a uniquely different species.

The finding, recently published online in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, adds a new twist to the ongoing debate about how species are defined and how those definitions are used to guide conservation efforts, said David Mindell, a professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and director of the U-M Museum of Zoology. "It's important to recognize distinctive species as the focus for scarce conservation funds, but as this example shows, there are cases in which species that were recognized over 100 years ago actually aren't valid species," Mindell said. "In such cases, funds might be redirected to species in dire need."

The birds known as Cape Verde Kites live only on the Cape Verde Islands, about 300 miles west of the African country of Senegal in the Atlantic Ocean. Conservationists have been concerned that habitat loss, widespread use of rodent-killing chemicals and other factors were driving those birds to the brink of extinction and threatening other types of wildlife on the islands. In 2002, biologists captured five birds thought to be Cape Verde Kites and considered starting a captive breeding program. "That's an expensive proposition, so we wanted to take a look at the Cape Verde Kite to get an idea of how distinctive it was genetically-whether it really was something unique that would justify the effort," Mindell said. Working with U-M postdoctoral fellow Jeff Johnson and Richard Watson of The Peregrine Fund, Mindell performed a genetic analysis on material from contemporary Black Kites, Red Kites and historical Cape Verde Kite museum specimens collected between 1897 and 1924 as well as the five kites captured on the Cape Verde Islands in 2002.

"The bottom line," Mindell said, "was that the few kites that are out there now are not Cape Verde Kites; they're Black Kites, which are widely distributed throughout the Old World and are not in danger. Further-and this was even more surprising-the historical specimens of Cape Verde Kites don't even hold together as a distinct group." On the genealogical tree the researchers constructed, the museum specimens originally identified as Cape Verde Kites are not one another's closest relatives; they're scattered within a larger group of Red Kites. Cape Verde Kites, Red Kites and Black Kites are closely related, medium-sized birds of prey, similar in size to red-tailed hawks. Their plumage is mainly brown and reddish, and their tails are forked. All are opportunistic predators, feeding on insects, small vertebrates and carrion.

The researchers' conclusions don't mean that all conservation efforts in the Cape Verde Islands should be called off. Other species on the islands, such as the Raso Lark and the Cape Verde Warbler, are at risk, Mindell said. In the long view, Mindell believes studies such as this one bolster the credibility of conservation biologists by showing that the scientists are unbiased and willing to accept results that run counter to expectations. "We're taking a neutral approach by consistently applying criteria for determining what are distinct evolutionary entities, and the results can go either way," Mindell said. "Sometimes we'll find genetically unique populations that are well-justified for conservation efforts. But we might also find some that were misidentified initially, where people thought that because populations were out on some islands or in unique habitats they were reproductively isolated and genetically distinctive. We're very much in favor of conserving species, habitats and ecosystems; but when it comes to recommendations for particular groups of organisms, we need to carefully assess their status as distinctive species."

The University of Michigan Museum of Zoology collections, housed in the Ruthven Museums Building, include about 15 million specimens, representing mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles, fishes, mollusks, mites and insects. Researchers study the materials to learn about and analyze biological diversity and to discover the processes and principles of evolution.



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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005


For years, Sir David King, science advisor to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, has stated that "climate change is a far greater threat to the world than international terrorism." In fact, King has been so effective with this hysteria that Blair has repeatedly said that global warming and terrorism are the two most important issues confronting mankind. In doing, so, he has espoused the United Nations' Kyoto Protocol on global warming, which does nothing measurable about planetary temperature, but would cost the U.S. 1-2% of its GDP per year.

Last week, the London Telegraph reported that Blair's environment ministers are proposing an individual personal allotment of energy, because of global warming, which would make Cuba, North Korea, and England the only nations on earth that ration fuel. Each personal allotment would take the form of an "energy card" against which a withdrawal would be made everytime someone purchases energy, such as buying gasoline or an airplane ticket. When you use your allotment, the price increases (hopefully) inducing you to use less.

One would hope that recent events in London might add some needed perspective. Compare and contrast global warming and terrorism.

* Terrorism kills innocent people. It makes no one live longer.

* As the earth warmed in the last 100 years, life expectancy in developed nations doubled.

* Terrorism consumes enormous amounts of private capital. 9/11 trimmed 20% off the value of the Dow. People who cleansed their 401-K's in that free-fall have never recovered.

* The planetary warming since 1900 has seen per capita real GDP increase from $4,310 to $35,790, or 830%.

* Terrorism imposes a substantial and continuing cost, in the form of increased security, lost productivity, and allocation of finite tax resources and public service personnel.

It's not known whether global warming even extracts a net cost. Carbon dioxide, the emission that many think is the main cause for warming in recent decades, makes most agricultural plants grow better. There are literally thousands of experiments documenting this in the refereed scientific literature. It a reasonable estimate that between 5 and 10% of the global increase in agricultural yield in the last half of the 20th century was a direct result of industrial carbon dioxide emissions.

Terrorism is specifically targeted at rich nations because that gets worldwide attention. Global warming does little if anything to the rich, while it may (emphasize "may") be a net-negative in poor societies. Consider the slight rise in sea level, a few inches at best, concurrent with the warming of the last 100 years. There are now few (if any) deaths from oceanic surges in affluent and hurricane-prone North Carolina, while a mere tropical storm will kill tens of thousands in Bangladesh.

Finally, one can mitigate (but not entirely stop) terrorism. It has not been lost on the citizens of the United States that there has been no serious incident since 9/11, and there hasn't been a single suicide bomber. But one can't do a measurable thing about global warming. If every nation on earth met the Kyoto protocol, the amount of warming that would be prevented is too small to measure on the time scale of fifty years. These futile attempts to diminish warming cost society dearly. In general, the European nations that are most vocal about Kyoto have the worst economies. In addition, devoting bureaucratic attention to warming takes political support from agencies and institutions whose roles are to combat terrorism.

Finally, there's the social cost of those energy rationing cards, issued because global warming is such a threat. Make no mistake: when people can't afford energy, they will use less. Their urban homes will be warmer, and harder (and more expensive) to cool in the next summer heat wave. Power for air conditioning was unavailable because of a thunderstorm in Chicago's 1995 heat wave, and hundreds died. In France, two years ago, a cultural distaste for air conditioning in Paris cost thousands. Overall, in the United States, heat-related mortality in cities has declined dramatically because of abundant energy powering ubiquitous air conditioning.

Let's get it straight. Terrorism costs innocent lives, and massive amounts of social and individual capital. Global warming can't even be demonstrated as a net negative, and putting it on the same plane as terrorism only serves to wastefully divert resources. That analysis could have been made prior to July 7, but should seem painfully obvious now.

From World Climate Report, 12 July 2005


Extract from an academic journal article appearing in "Quaternary Research". Volume 64, Issue 1 , July 2005, Pages 83-99 and showing that the Antarctic is COOLER now than it once was

Late Quaternary climate-driven environmental change in the Larsemann Hills, East Antarctica, multi-proxy evidence from a lake sediment core

By: Dominic A. Hodgsona, , , Elie Verleyenb, Koen Sabbeb, Angela H. Squierc, Brendan J. Keelyc, Melanie J. Lengd, Krystyna M. Saunderse and Wim Vyvermanb a) British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK b) Lab. Protistology and Aquatic Ecology, Ghent University, Krijgslaan 281-S8, Ghent B-9000, Belgium c) Department of Chemistry, University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5DD, UK d) Natural Environment Research Council, Isotope Geosciences Laboratory, British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham NG12 5GG, UK e) Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 77, Hobart, TAS 7001, Australia


Little is known about the response of terrestrial East Antarctica to climate changes during the last glacial-interglacial cycle. Here we present a continuous sediment record from a lake in the Larsemann Hills, situated on a peninsula believed to have been ice-free for at least 40,000 yr. A mutli-proxy data set including geochronology, diatoms, pigments and carbonate stable isotopes indicates warmer and wetter conditions than present in the early part of the record. We interpret this as Marine Isotope Stage 5e after application of a chronological age-depth model and similar ice core evidence. Dry and cold conditions are inferred during the last glacial, with lake-level minima, floristic changes towards a shallow water algal community, and a greater biological receipt of ultraviolet radiation. During the Last Glacial Maximum and Termination I the lake was perennially ice-covered, with minimal snowmelt in the catchment. After ca. 10,500 cal yr B.P., the lake became seasonally moated or ice-free during summer. Despite a low accumulation rate, the sediments document some Holocene environmental changes including neoglacial cooling after ca. 2450 cal yr B.P., and a gradual increase in aridity and salinity to the present.

Doi (permanent) address for the paper here

Left-Leaning Donors Skewing 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 report released on April 1 by the George C. Marshall Institute, a Washington-based science policy group, looks at the major donors to environmental groups for climate-related activities. It finds 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 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 a belief in 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 who 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. By 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, by 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 its 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 in research. 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? The more money we spend on specific environmental threats, the less there is to devote to other issues. Funding decisions will be best when made by well-informed citizens and policymakers. But let's not be naive about unbiased motives. They simply do not exist.



Blair has just said that more research is the way to go with global warming so this one should get him in the goolies

Britain's oil giants should get cash help from the Government so they can work towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the chief executive of BP said today. Lord Browne said his firm was working on a pioneering reduction technology, but argued that companies would need the lure of subsidies to take up on the technique, called "carbon capture", which experts claim can reduce greenhouse gases significantly.

The call is likely to anger motorists, who are facing increasing petrol costs on the forecourt, and MPs, many of whom have been urging the Government to slap a windfall tax on the oil companies which have seen profits soar on the escalating prices of oil, which has risen by about 40 per cent a barrel this year.

"If carbon capture and storage is to succeed, we are going to need subsidies to encourage companies to take up this technology," Lord Brown said. He said that given the investment needed and the higher costs involved, a subsidy was needed "in order to be able to compete". Lord Browne justified his claim by saying that other renewable energy projects, such as wind, attract a subsidy. The call puts the Government on the back foot, since it has signed up to the Kyoto agreement - which came into force last year - to reduce greenhouse gases. ...

From The Scotsman, 12 July 2005


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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005


Pity if you want to turn on your lights at night, though

Both inventors and investors are betting that flexible sheets of tiny solar cells used to harness the sun's strength will ultimately provide a cheaper, more efficient source of energy than the current smorgasbord of alternative and fossil fuels. Nanosys and Nanosolar in Palo Alto -- along with Konarka in Lowell, Mass. -- say their research will result in thin rolls of highly efficient light-collecting plastics spread across rooftops or built into building materials. These rolls, the companies say, will be able to provide energy for prices as low as the electricity currently provided by utilities, which averages $1 per watt.

While all three companies provide prototypes for large corporate research labs and government agencies, company representatives and investors are reticent to predict when nanotechnology-powered solar systems will be commercially available. Industry watchers, however, say that achieving mass production of these products may take five years or longer. "We take the long view, although we're not averse to having products very quickly," said Bryan Roberts, general partner at Venrock Associates in Menlo Park, a leading Nanosys investor. "Whenever you're developing a novel technology platform, you're looking at a four- to six-year time frame rather than a three- to four-year time frame."

A study released by the Energy Foundation in March suggests that the United States could produce 2,900 new megawatts of solar power by 2010 -- enough to power 500,000 homes -- if the cost is significantly reduced. Solar energy ranges between $4 and $5 per watt. The report suggests market expansion will require $2 to $2.50. If the price breakthrough occurs, says Wooley, the report's assumed price structure represents a $6.6 billion annual market opportunity. The Energy Foundation report also says that solar energy could furnish much of the nation's electricity if available residential and commercial rooftops were fully utilized. According to the Energy Foundation, using available rooftop space could provide 710,000 megawatts across the United States, whose current electrical capacity is 950,000 megawatts.

High production costs are among the reasons solar energy hasn't become a major source of electricity. The black, glasslike photovoltaic cells that make up most solar panels are usually composed of crystalline silicon, which requires clean-room manufacturing facilities free of dust and airborne microbes. Silicon is also in short supply and increasingly expensive to produce, so high manufacturing costs are the main reason behind high wattage prices. As a result, the cost of panel installation typically equals four to five years of expensive energy before production costs are recovered and systems begin paying for themselves. With nanotechnology, tiny solar cells can be printed onto flexible, very thin light-retaining materials, bypassing the cost of silicon production.

If the technical hurdles can be cleared, the biggest money will be found atop buildings. According to Matthew Nordan, vice president of research at New York's Lux Research, "The ultimate prize is rooftop distribution applications," in which residential and commercial buildings would generate most of their own power.

"The problem is distribution. Nanomaterials could provide a way to transmit energy as well as capture it." Until the distribution issue is solved, Nordan says, solar energy will not be able to meet its potential of supplying vast amounts of power.

More here


A coalition of environmental and liberal lobbying groups is planning a boycott of Exxon Mobil products to protest the company's challenges to warnings about global warming and its support for oil and gas exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The boycott is part of a public relations campaign to brand Exxon Mobil, the nation's biggest oil company, as an "outlaw," the groups say.

A spokesman for Exxon Mobil said in an e-mail message that the company did recognize the risk of climate change. The spokesman, Russ Roberts, said Exxon Mobil had committed to "investments and strategic planning that address emissions today, as well as industry-leading research on technologies with the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the future." But the company has also supported groups like the Competitive Enterprise Institute, whose work has challenged some generally accepted scientific models that predict the speed of climate change and the severity of its consequences.

On the question of Arctic drilling, Mr. Roberts wrote, "We believe that with more than 30 years of industry experience on Alaska's North Slope and with recent technological advancements, ANWR can be developed with little threat to the ecology of the coastal plain."

Energy enterprises have long provoked environmentalists' opposition over specific projects. But it has been a long time since one has been the target of a nationwide boycott. Lee R. Raymond, Exxon Mobil's chief executive, has been an outspoken skeptic about the widely held view among climate scientists that human activity is responsible for the current warming trends.

Among the groups involved in the campaign, scheduled to begin on Tuesday with nationwide press conferences and a new Web site,, are the U.S. Public Interest Group, Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Union of Concerned Scientists and Political Action. Carl Pope, the Sierra Club's executive director, said the goal was either to get Exxon Mobil to change or "to encourage other oil companies" to improve their environmental stewardship. The company was chosen, organizers said, because its record is worse than its competitors'. "The other oil companies have aspirations" for environmental performance, Mr. Pope said.



A new study should help move the debate over living near asbestos veins from whether the situation is potentially dangerous to how people should best respond to the hazard, the study's lead scientist said Tuesday. Dr. Marc Schenker, a UC Davis public health scientist, said the findings strongly support the hypothesis that low-level, non-workplace exposures to naturally occurring asbestos cause mesothelioma, a rare and highly lethal cancer of the lining of the chest. While the odds of getting the disease are low, they are comparable to the risks of getting lung cancer from breathing secondhand tobacco smoke [i.e. negligible], a hazard that has captured much more attention from public health officials, he said.

Mesothelioma kills at least 2,500 people a year in the United States, compared with an estimated 3,000 deaths attributed to secondhand tobacco smoke, Schenker said. "Public efforts should now shift to understanding the (mesothelioma) risk, and how we can protect people from this preventable malignancy," said Schenker, who chairs the UCD Department of Public Health Services.

The scientist joined fellow researchers and lung health advocates at a university press conference in Sacramento on Tuesday to speak in detail for the first time about a study that links living near asbestos-bearing rocks in California with higher rates of the rare cancer. In areas closer to rocks that frequently contain asbestos - mainly serpentine - the researchers found more cases of mesothelioma, while farther away, they found fewer and fewer. In California, serpentine, a greenish rock with a waxy surface, occurs mainly near earthquake faults in the Sierra foothills, the Coast Range and the Klamath Mountains.

Many of the asbestos areas are in the path of some of the most rapidly growing areas in the state, creating a potential hazard as housing and road construction tear into the veins and release fibers, which are small enough to reach deep into the lung, yet large enough to lodge there for life and cause cancer 20 to 40 years later. Schenker called for more aggressive efforts in educating the public, reducing exposures and pinpointing where the most dangerous types of asbestos occur.....

EPA officials said the findings support the agency's decisions in recent years to investigate El Dorado Hills and other areas of the country laden with asbestos-containing rock. "The study by a respected researcher who is unaffiliated with the EPA underscores and reinforces our concern about the potential risk to environmental exposure to naturally occurring asbestos," said Dan Meer, an EPA official who supervised air test studies at schools and parks in El Dorado Hills.

EPA test results released in May showed that bicycle riding, playing baseball and other everyday recreational activities at the town's Community Park kick up fibers of a particularly toxic type of asbestos in concentrations many times higher than if there were no activity in the area.

One thing the study does not do, Schenker said, is provide enough information to tell a young family whether to live near naturally occurring asbestos. "The risk to any individual is actually quite low," the scientist said, so families would have to weigh what risks they might face in other locations, as well as the exact nature of the mineral near their homes and their own personal risk tolerance...

The latest, peer-reviewed asbestos study by Schenker, UC biostatistician Laurel Beckett, and others from UC Davis and Harvard University was posted online last month by the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, and is expected to be printed in the journal this fall. Researchers looked at almost 3,000 California cases of mesothelioma and compared their geographic distribution with pancreatic cancer - a control strategy to designed to rule out such risk factors as genetics and lifestyles.

Other scientists who track the issue have called the work provocative, but not conclusive. So far, most asbestos research in the United States has focused on exposures on the job, such as to insulation workers handling asbestos- containing materials or, more recently, on asbestos exposures to people living near mines and mineral processing plants.

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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005

Vaccine fearmongering and "intellectual prostitution"

By MichaelFumento

Mark Sircus, head of something called the International Medical Veritas Association, needs to learn a bit about the meaning of "Veritas." In a commentary titled "Intellectual Prostitution," he calls a whore anybody who disagrees with the proposition that childhood vaccines containing the preservative thimerosal (half of which is ethyl mercury). They're all on the take; that's the only possible explanation for their positions no matter how authoritative and detailed their arguments may be. I am one of the named prostitutes. Commenting on a column of mine that appeared in Townhall and another piece in the Wall Street Journal, our three-ring Sircus says, "Mr. Fumento's [sic], of the Hudson Institute, recently published essays on thimerosal, [which] like many of the others, were bought and paid for by the pharmaceutical industry so one should read his and many of the current articles proclaiming the safety of known poisons with salt."

Does he have the least evidence that I was actually paid? No. It's supposed to be guilt by association, but it turns out to not even fit that.

"When it comes to the Thimerosal [sic] debate and Fumento's opinion it is not a coincidence that the Hudson Institute [where I'm a senior fellow] is based in Indianapolis, home of Eli Lilly, the pharmaceutical giant that holds the patent on Thimerosal [sic]," he writes. He also ties Dan Quayle and former OMB Director Mitch Daniels to both Lilly and Hudson.

Aside from not being able to spell "thimerosal," Sircus seems ignorant that Lilly patented the preservative in 1930 and therefore must have its rights half a century ago. Hudson is not based in Indy, but Washington, D.C. It moved a year ago, which is to say a year before I wrote my pieces. Hudson formerly received major funding not from Lilly the pharmaceutical company but from the Lilly Endowment, which truly has a Chinese wall between it and its drug company donors. In any event, the Endowment focuses heavily on Indiana projects and stopped funding Hudson when it moved.

But this isn't to say Sircus knows nothing about intellectual prostition. He makes his living running a clinic in Brazil that uses "chelation therapy," a fraud denounced by many medical organizations. Far from extracting "toxins" as claimed it merely extracts green material from the pockets of gullible parents of autistic children (and sufferers of countless other illnesses). It is the money trail behind the "vaccines cause autism" hysteria, the conspiracy behind the conspiracy theory if you will.



"Smart-growth" policies, which became popular nationwide during the 1990s, are regulations designed to reduce suburban sprawl and control growth. They encourage people to live close together within walking distance of shops and offices. One goal is to reduce the use of the automobile. Another is to create neighborhoods full of interesting "streetscapes." A third is to cluster people in high densities in order to preserve large areas of open space. Today, smart-growth policies seem to be in retreat. Setbacks have occurred in Maryland, Virginia and Oregon, and new census information suggests that the public does not really embrace the smart growth way of life.

One sign of smart growth's weakness comes from Maryland, where former Gov. Paris N. Glendening unveiled a statewide policy in 1997 to manage growth. The idea was to restrict the use of public funds for development to areas where public infrastructure was already being supplied. Counties were to submit plans to the state showing where they wanted growth to occur. These "priority funding areas" would be eligible for state infrastructure financial assistance, but projects outside these areas would not. The policy was hailed as a milestone. But as Peter Whoriskey reported last fall in a series of articles in the Washington Post, Glendening's initiative has yet to make a significant dent in Maryland's sprawling land-use patterns. "A review of key state and local planning records shows no significant shifts in Maryland's development patterns since the passage of Glendening's smart growth package," wrote Whoriskey. "Growth still takes place where there was nothing, rather than where it has gone before." ....

In addition, some local officials viewed Glendening's efforts as too much state intrusion and so they circumvented the law. Some officials designated as growth areas far more land than was needed to accommodate growth over the next two decades.

In another setback, the Virginia Supreme Court has thrown out Loudoun County's slow-growth zoning regulations, which had blocked home building in the western part of the nation's fastest-growing county. Loudoun County, on the periphery of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, has been a battlefield between the forces of development and advocates of smart growth for years. Its population almost tripled in 15 years, from 86,000 in 1990 to 248,000 in 2005. This growth spurred the election of a "smart growth" slate of officials in 1999. Traditionally, Loudoun's zoning law had required three acres for each new home built in the semirural western part of the county. The board of supervisors changed the zoning rules in January 2003 to require 10 or 20 - and in some cases 50 - acres per house, depending on the property location.

A new board elected in 2003 dismantled many of the growth curbs but left the restrictive zoning law, which faced numerous legal challenges filed by aggrieved property owners. On March 3, 2005, Virginia's highest court declared the 2003 zoning law invalid. The court did not rule on the issue of property rights but on procedural grounds. Loudoun officials, said the court, had not given proper public notice concerning the zoning hearings and had not clearly specified the boundaries of land to be rezoned. Potentially, the court ruling clears the way for more than 50,000 additional houses on the 300 square miles of western Loudoun County that had been closed to dense development.

One of the most surprising changes occurred in November 2004. By a majority of 61 percent, Oregon voters approved a ballot initiative, Measure 37. It states that the government should compensate property owners when government-imposed land-use restrictions reduce the value of their property. If the government cannot or will not pay, property owners can develop their land as they see fit. In the words of the ballot initiative, "Governments must pay owners, or forgo enforcement, when certain land use restrictions reduce property values." Because the state has set aside virtually no money to pay landowners, Measure 37, it is feared, will lead to a rash of suburban-style subdivisions outside Oregon's urban boundaries.

To be sure, anti-sprawl legislation had already lost some of its political momentum. In the early 1990s, a number of states - Florida, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi - passed property-rights laws to protect landowners from monetary losses caused by restrictive zoning. But none of these measures has had the political and psychological impact of the Oregon initiative. The Seattle Times thought Measure 37 "may have mortally wounded Oregon's strong land use planning system." Others considered it a public repudiation of the principle of growth management, a policy that Oregon pioneered 30 years ago. Smart-growth advocates fear that the new law will strengthen the property rights movement. "If it can happen in the progressive state of Oregon, it could happen in any number of other states," one planning official remarked.

More -- much more -- here


Huge expenditures for little or no result

Sometimes, when Rob Cramer works in his seventh- floor office at the state Department of Administration, the lights in the room turn off. Cramer, who runs the state's inventory of 6,000 buildings for DOA, stands up and waves his hands in front of a motion sensor, and the lights flick back on. The sensor in Cramer's spacious office overlooking Lake Monona is a tiny part of the Wisconsin Energy Initiative, a nearly $100 million program started 13 years ago to install energy-saving equipment in state-owned buildings. WEI is wrapping up this year with a final energy retrofit at UW- Oshkosh.

But like the motion sensor, WEI hasn't quite worked out as planned, critics of the program say. They believe the state has spent too much money on energy-efficient lighting, temperature controls, high- efficiency motors and low-flow plumbing fixtures without gauging whether those improvements pay for themselves as promised under the program. "It's one of those programs where the intent of it is good, but nobody's monitoring it closely enough," said Tom Wright, facilities director of the Northern Wisconsin Center for the Developmentally Disabled in Chippewa Falls.

In fact, energy use in state buildings continues to rise, not decline, since WEI started. DOA figures show energy use per square foot in state buildings has risen by 11 percent in the past 13 years. The rate isn't rising as fast as per capita energy use, which increased 19.4 percent in Wisconsin from 1992 to 2003. That suggests WEI has had some success. But it has failed to reduce energy use as promised when it was launched by Gov. Tommy Thompson.



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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005


Tony Blair has defended the achievements of the G8 summit at Gleneagles and said yesterday that "very substantial progress" had been made on aid to Africa and climate change.... Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme, he said that African leaders must "abide by the proper rules of governance" or risk throwing the package into jeopardy. He also said that he took a "heretical view" on climate change - because he believes that the United States is not necessarily the massive block to progress that many commentators allege.

The G8 meeting was condemned for producing a stalemate on climate change, with the only concrete proposal for Britain to host a meeting in November to "assess progress". Through the summit, President Bush barely shifted the US position at all. Mr Blair said: "The ambition I had for this summit in respect of climate change was limited. But in my view it offers a better way forward. "It is to get people to accept there is a problem, agree we had to act urgently and most important of all to agree a process of dialogue that would involve not just America but also China and India and the emerging economies."

More here


The official communique of the G8 leaders on global warming represents a significant victory for President Bush. There are no targets or timetables, no ominous declarations of immediate global catastrophe, and no calls to reduce world energy consumption. Instead, the statement recognizes that the threat is long-term and stresses the need for adaptation to deal with the challenges. Moreover, there is recognition that the world actually needs to increase power consumption to help the 2 billion people who have little or no access to energy. In effect, the G8 has adopted the American position on global warming as the consensus position (even the language about science comes straight from Administration documents). This statement relegates global warming to its proper place in world affairs - one to keep an eye on, and work to mitigate with appropriate, low-cost strategies, but not an immediate priority. It also means that the Kyoto treaty, mentioned almost as an afterthought, is effectively dead, yesterday's solution to yesterday's conception of tomorrow's problem. The Europeans are still bound by it, however, and unless they have the courage to admit that it is the wrong course, they will continue to struggle with it until it collapses as a result of its own contradictions.

Tony Blair's role in securing the President's victory should also be acknowledged. Although his instincts are those of the left, he can see the right path, in his own Gladstonian way, when someone is courageous enough to put the case forcefully, as the President has done. Without his efforts, I'm not sure this victory would have been as complete as it has been.



Read the garbage below and then take note that the IPCC says that the temperature in the Himalayas region has actually been FALLING. The glacial cover CANNOT therefore be getting smaller because of warming. It is probably getting smaller because of reduced precipitation (snowfall). So that actually leads to LESS flooding

Deluge, drought, disease: if the experts are right, then the misfortune facing Asia will be like a biblical catastrophe. It will begin with overflowing rivers, which will wash away homes and fields in China, India and South-East Asia. After a few decades will come drought, as the same rivers dwindle to a trickle. And then will come the second deluge — immense walls of water, like mountain tsunamis, which will break through thin walls of frozen earth, washing away bridges, dams and Himalayan communities. Countless people will drown or die from the inevitable epidemics and food shortages. Many more will lose their livelihoods and be condemned to poverty in some of the most densely populated areas of the world. And, most alarming of all, it may be too late to do anything about it.

Those are the potential consequences of one of Asia’s most serious environmental problems — the melting of the Himalayan glaciers, the vast moving mountains of ice that grind imperceptibly along the valleys of the Tibetan Plateau. According to an increasing number of environmentalists and climate scientists who have studied the glaciers, there is no doubt that they are melting as a result of global warming, with incalculable consequences for countries as far apart as Pakistan and Cambodia.

In China alone, more than 700 people died and almost three million were displaced last month when rivers in the south and east of the country burst their banks. Climate scientists say that it is difficult to make a clear connection between the melting of the glaciers and these recent floods, [You bet it is] which were also the result of heavy rain. But rising temperatures in the Himalayas are only going to make such disasters bigger and more frequent....

But the average temperature in the Himalayas has risen by 1C since the 1970s, and the glaciers are in retreat. The Khumbu Glacier in Nepal, where Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay began their ascent of Everest, has retreated more than three miles since they climbed the mountain in 1953. According to a report published in March by the WWF, a quarter of the world’s glaciers could disappear by 2050.

(Excerpt from "The Times" of July 12th)


Twelve months ago Germany's Greens were at the peak of their power. With 13 percent support in polls-their highest ratings ever-they had become the party of choice for a broad, educated elite. Observers saw their handwriting all over the policies of the government they had formed with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats in 1998: new mandates for renewable energy and recycling, an agreement to phase out nuclear power, a modern citizenship law that did away with ancient blood-based rules, even gay-partnership rights. Their leader, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, was easily the most popular politician in Germany.

Just a year later, the Greens are floundering. In May elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, voters kicked them out of the last of five state governments where they once shared power. Fischer is under investigation in a scandal involving human trafficking from Eastern Europe-critics say he approved a controversial 2000 directive abolishing background checks on foreign visitors, and refused to make changes despite having been informed of massive abuse. Support for both the party and its leader has taken a nose dive, and Schroeder's decision to call early elections for Sept. 18 has caught them at the worst possible moment. A weakened Social Democratic Party (SPD) could conceivably join up with the conservatives in a "grand coalition." But virtually no one can envision a scenario in which the Greens-who have no other allies than the hemorrhaging SPD-stay in government.

The party may thus be the most direct victim of Schroeder's political woes. The question is whether it's experiencing a temporary setback, or is in terminal decline. "The Zeitgeist has turned," says Thomas Petersen, an analyst at the Allensbach polling institute. With 12 percent unemployment-and seemingly endless economic stagnation-spreading anxiety deep into the middle class, the national debate has shifted from things like global warming to the hard issues of jobs, money and welfare. Last week Schroeder's SPD unveiled an "election manifesto" that promises a new "rich-people tax" to help pay for its social programs. The conservatives will follow with their own platform this week, expected to focus on labor-market deregulation and the cutting of payroll taxes. Classic Green issues like the environment, pacifism and feminism now seem like indulgences to many. "Green worries are luxury worries," says Petersen. "When there are no jobs, the ozone hole no longer matters."

Ouch. As if overnight, the Greens have turned from the darlings of the German establishment to emblems of what ails the country. goodbye eco-freaks, the Financial Times Deutschland headlined last week, predicting the advent of a long conservative era. With their neglect of hard-hitting economic issues, the Greens have turned themselves into "the feel-good party of the urban academic milieu," sneered even Berlin's Tageszeitung, a historically leftist paper. Critics see Fischer's visa scandal as the embodiment of what's wrong with the Greens: do-good policies-in this case, opening Germany's borders in the name of "multiculturalism"-paired with an arrogant disregard for the cost to the country. A similarly high-minded policy to subsidize wind power has drawn protests from citizens angry about thousands of giant wind turbines that now sully once pristine landscapes. Even Schroeder has lashed out at his erstwhile political allies, suggesting in a recent interview in the weekly Die Zeit that sharing power might have been a mistake.

To be fair, Schroeder's own party, not the Greens, bears greater responsibility for the chancellor's demise. His left wing has rebelled against even modest economic reforms-hence the SPD's new soak-the-rich platform. In fact, on the issue of urgently needed economic reforms, the Greens have been more pro-market than Schroeder, calling for an end to rust-belt industry subsidies and less red tape for entrepreneurs. Rightly or wrongly, the Greens even credit their environmental policies with creating jobs. "Look where the new jobs are in Germany," says Anna Luhrmann, a Green M.P. in Berlin, noting the 70,000 positions created in the renewable-energy sector. Wind- and solar-power companies have been among the fastest growing in the country, and a high-tech recycling industry has begun expanding abroad.

Yet a boom in wind and garbage may matter little in the face of a broad cultural shift. If Cologne University sociologist and Greens expert Markus Klein is right, Germany is in the grip of a "values rollback," away from the post-materialist values of the comfortable 1970s and '80s-including concern for the environment and minority rights-to a more conservative emphasis on achievement, responsibility, family, career and, to a small extent, even religion. Young Germans who grew up in the economically insecure 1990s, he says, worry about jobs and education, not the second-tier issues with which the Greens are identified. Already, says Klein, Green voters are concentrated in the 40-to-49 age bracket, while young voters are increasingly flocking to conservative and liberal-democratic parties. "The Greens are a one-generation project," says Klein. "Their core voters will just die out."

That probably underestimates the Greens' resilience, and the persistence of the issues they address. As last week's G8 meeting in Scotland showed, "soft" issues such as climate change and developing-world aid are hardly ephemeral. "If even George W. Bush talks about the need to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, then I'm not going to worry about the future of the Greens," says Luhrmann. And as intransigent as their reputation might be, the Greens have shown a remarkable capacity for change. Once in office, peacenik Fischer passionately supported sending German troops to Kosovo and Afghanistan. And the once anarchist Greens have had no qualms about abolishing an array of privacy rights-like confidentiality in banking-only loosely connected with the fight against terror. An "ecolibertarian" wing of the Greens even wants to ally with Angela Merkel and her Christian Democrats.

Such hard-nosed realism is not likely to save the party come September: the latest polls show the Greens garnering only 7 percent of the vote. But four years in opposition may give them enough time to figure out how to adapt to Germany's new reality



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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005

The hurricane hullabaloo

Given the recent onslaught of Hurricane Dennis on Cuba and the Gulf Coast, it seems appropriate to look at the most recent discussions of hurricane causes. With clockwork regularity, Greenies of course blame every adverse weather event on global warming and hurricanes are far too juicy a phenomenon for them to be unconnected to global warming. But are they? One of America's most eminent hurricane experts -- Chris Landsea -- recently resigned from the IPCC because they ignored all his evidence about hurricanes in favour of politicizing them. His boss (Trenberth) at the IPCC does now however seem to have had something of a change of heart and recently wrote an article that concedes many of Landsea's points. That is however not at all the spin that the media have put on the article concerned. I reproduce below first Landsea's original announcement, then one of the more sober media comments on Trenberth's paper, then a scientific comment from one of Landsea's colleagues:

Open letter from Chris Landsea:

"After some prolonged deliberation, I have decided to withdraw from participating in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). I am withdrawing because I have come to view the part of the IPCC to which my expertise is relevant as having become politicized. In addition, when I have raised my concerns to the IPCC leadership, their response was simply to dismiss my concerns. With this open letter to the community, I wish to explain the basis for my decision and bring awareness to what I view as a problem in the IPCC process.

The IPCC is a group of climate researchers from around the world that every few years summarize how climate is changing and how it may be altered in the future due to manmade global warming. I had served both as an author for the Observations chapter and a Reviewer for the 2nd Assessment Report in 1995 and the 3rd Assessment Report in 2001, primarily on the topic of tropical cyclones (hurricanes and typhoons). My work on hurricanes, and tropical cyclones more generally, has been widely cited by the IPCC.

For the upcoming AR4, I was asked several weeks ago by the Observations chapter Lead Author - Dr. Kevin Trenberth - to provide the writeup for Atlantic hurricanes. As I had in the past, I agreed to assist the IPCC in what I thought was to be an important, and politically-neutral determination of what is happening with our climate.

Shortly after Dr. Trenberth requested that I draft the Atlantic hurricane section for the AR4's Observations chapter, Dr. Trenberth participated in a press conference organized by scientists at Harvard on the topic "Experts to warn global warming likely to continue spurring more outbreaks of intense hurricane activity" along with other media interviews on the topic. The result of this media interaction was widespread coverage that directly connected the very busy 2004 Atlantic hurricane season as being caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas warming occurring today. Listening to and reading transcripts of this press conference and media interviews, it is apparent that Dr. Trenberth was being accurately quoted and summarized in such statements and was not being misrepresented in the media. These media sessions have potential to result in a widespread perception that global warming has made recent hurricane activity much more severe.

I found it a bit perplexing that the participants in the Harvard press conference had come to the conclusion that global warming was impacting hurricane activity today. To my knowledge, none of the participants in that press conference had performed any research on hurricane variability, nor were they reporting on any new work in the field. All previous and current research in the area of hurricane variability has shown no reliable, long-term trend up in the frequency or intensity of tropical cyclones, either in the Atlantic or any other basin. The IPCC assessments in 1995 and 2001 also concluded that there was no global warming signal found in the hurricane record. Moreover, the evidence is quite strong and supported by the most recent credible studies that any impact in the future from global warming upon hurricane will likely be quite small.

The latest results from the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (Knutson and Tuleya, Journal of Climate, 2004) suggest that by around 2080, hurricanes may have winds and rainfall about 5% more intense than today. It has been proposed that even this tiny change may be an exaggeration as to what may happen by the end of the 21st Century (Michaels, Knappenberger, and Landsea, Journal of Climate, 2005, submitted).

It is beyond me why my colleagues would utilize the media to push an unsupported agenda that recent hurricane activity has been due to global warming. Given Dr. Trenberth's role as the IPCC's Lead Author responsible for preparing the text on hurricanes, his public statements so far outside of current scientific understanding led me to concern that it would be very difficult for the IPCC process to proceed objectively with regards to the assessment on hurricane activity. My view is that when people identify themselves as being associated with the IPCC and then make pronouncements far outside current scientific understandings that this will harm the credibility of climate change science and will in the longer term diminish our role in public policy.

My concerns go beyond the actions of Dr. Trenberth and his colleagues to how he and other IPCC officials responded to my concerns. I did caution Dr. Trenberth before the media event and provided him a summary of the current understanding within the hurricane research community. I was disappointed when the IPCC leadership dismissed my concerns when I brought up the misrepresentation of climate science while invoking the authority of the IPCC. Specifically, the IPCC leadership said that Dr. Trenberth was speaking as an individual even though he was introduced in the press conference as an IPCC lead author; I was told that that the media was exaggerating or misrepresenting his words, even though the audio from the press conference and interview tells a different story (available on the web directly); and that Dr. Trenberth was accurately reflecting conclusions from the TAR, even though it is quite clear that the TAR stated that there was no connection between global warming and hurricane activity.

The IPCC leadership saw nothing to be concerned with in Dr. Trenberth's unfounded pronouncements to the media, despite his supposedly impartial important role that he must undertake as a Lead Author on the upcoming AR4. It is certainly true that "individual scientists can do what they wish in their own rights", as one of the folks in the IPCC leadership suggested. Differing conclusions and robust debates are certainly crucial to progress in climate science. However, this case is not an honest scientific discussion conducted at a meeting of climate researchers. Instead, a scientist with an important role in the IPCC represented himself as a Lead Author for the IPCC has used that position to promulgate to the media and general public his own opinion that the busy 2004 hurricane season was caused by global warming, which is in direct opposition to research written in the field and is counter to conclusions in the TAR.

This becomes problematic when I am then asked to provide the draft about observed hurricane activity variations for the AR4 with, ironically, Dr. Trenberth as the Lead Author for this chapter. Because of Dr. Trenberth's pronouncements, the IPCC process on our assessment of these crucial extreme events in our climate system has been subverted and compromised, its neutrality lost. While no one can "tell" scientists what to say or not say (nor am I suggesting that), the IPCC did select Dr. Trenberth as a Lead Author and entrusted to him to carry out this duty in a non-biased, neutral point of view. When scientists hold press conferences and speak with the media, much care is needed not to reflect poorly upon the IPCC.

It is of more than passing interest to note that Dr. Trenberth, while eager to share his views on global warming and hurricanes with the media, declined to do so at the Climate Variability and Change Conference in January where he made several presentations. Perhaps he was concerned that such speculation - though worthy in his mind of public pronouncements - would not stand up to the scrutiny of fellow climate scientists. I personally cannot in good faith continue to contribute to a process that I view as both being motivated by pre-conceived agendas and being scientifically unsound. As the IPCC leadership has seen no wrong in Dr. Trenberth's actions and have retained him as a Lead Author for the AR4, I have decided to no longer participate in the IPCC AR4".

One media summary of Trenberth's most recent article:

A new scientific report about the potential effect of global climate change on Atlantic hurricanes appears likely to fuel debate over whether nastier storms are looming. A perspective article published Thursday by Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in Boulder, Colo., argues that a warmer, moister climate over the Atlantic is almost certain to make future hurricanes more intense and perhaps more frequent.

Writing in the journal Science, Trenberth continues an argument that garnered considerable media attention - and drew attacks from many experts - during last fall's intense battering of Florida and the Gulf Coast. Most hurricane experts insist that there's no clear link between an increase in tropical storms since 1995 and any long-term change in global temperatures, which scientists think have been rising gradually for the past century.

"There is no reasonable scientific way any such interpretation of this recent upward shift in Atlantic hurricane activity can be made," said Colorado State University tropical-storm researcher William Gray, who predicted the recent surge in storms and expects them to continue. Gray's culprit isn't greenhouse gases and global warming, but a long-term change in the salinity and deep-ocean currents of the North Atlantic that results in warmer surface temperatures and makes hurricanes more likely to form.

Trenberth contends in his paper that statistical models used in most hurricane forecasting simply don't capture the impacts of global warming. "Trends in human-induced environmental changes are now evident in hurricane regions," Trenberth wrote. "These changes are expected to affect hurricane intensity and rainfall, but the effect on hurricane numbers remains unclear. The key scientific question is how hurricanes are changing." Trenberth points to several computer simulations done for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in recent years that show hurricanes gaining intensity with an 80-year buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. He notes that sea-surface temperatures in the North Atlantic over the last decade have been the warmest on record, and water vapor over oceans worldwide has risen by about 2 percent since 1988. Both conditions supply more potential energy for the showers and thunderstorms that fuel hurricanes, he said.

However, Trenberth concedes that no one knows for sure whether global warming will enhance or impair wind-circulation patterns in the tropics that can either support or discourage hurricane formation. For instance, cold-water "La Nina" events in the Pacific set up trade-wind patterns that make for fewer hurricanes. Nor, he writes, is there any solid evidence that a warmer world will include more weather patterns that steer hurricanes landward. It was a high-pressure system that parked off the East Coast last fall and kept pushing storms into the Caribbean and Florida.

In a letter to key lawmakers last fall attacking the global warming/hurricane link, a group of climatologists led by James O'Brien of Florida State University made a case for fewer severe tropical storms in a warmer world.

Most climate-change experts agree that more pronounced warming will occur in polar regions. And it is the difference in temperatures between tropics and poles that sets up circulation patterns to guide storms. "Warmer polar regions would reduce this gradient and thus lessen the overall intensity or frequency or both of storms - not just tropical storms, but mid-latitude winter storms as well," the climate scientists wrote. Studies of long-term climate change seem to bear this out. "In the past, warmer periods have seen a decline in the number and severity of storms," they said.

Trenberth argues there's uncertainty on that point, too. "There is no sound theoretical basis for drawing any conclusion about how (human-induced) climate change affects hurricane numbers or tracks, and thus how many hit land," he wrote.

Comment on Trenberth by Roger Pielke:

"There is no sound theoretical basis for drawing any conclusions about how anthropogenic change affects hurricane numbers or tracks, and thus how many hit land." (K. Trenberth, Science, 17 June 2005).

Last winter, Chris Landsea caused a flap when he resigned from the IPCC claiming that Kevin Trenberth, the lead author of the IPCC chapter that he was contributing to, had made unfounded statements about hurricanes and global warming in a press conference organized by Harvard to allege a connection between the U.S. hurricane damages of 2004 and human-caused climate change. (Disclaimer: As most regular readers know, Landsea is a long-time collaborator of mine.)

In this week's Science, Trenberth has an essay on hurricanes and climate change that should put this issue to rest. Trenberth's essay clearly vindicates Landsea's actions, and, in my option, it would not be inappropriate for IPCC officials who failed to support Landsea (Rajedra Pachauri and Susan Solomon) to issue him a public apology. But don't hold your breath.

Let's take a quick look at Trenberth's essay and explain why it vindicates Landsea. Trenberth confirms in his Science essay what Landsea has claimed, that -- based on what is known today -- "there is no sound theoretical basis for drawing any conclusions about how anthropogenic change affects hurricane numbers or tracks, and thus how many hit land." None. There is no basis for claiming as Trenberth did that the hurricanes of 2004, much less their damages, could be attributed to human emissions of greenhouse gases/global warming.

Earlier this year, Trenberth said that his participation in the Harvard press conference was "to correct misleading impressions that global warming had played no role at all in last year's hurricane season." It is good to see this claim corrected. Trenberth confuses the issue by calling into question the role of hypothesis testing in science (one wonders what this apparently new found perspective on hypothesis testing means for the rest of climate science, but I digress), and some discussion of variables that clearly have some effects on hurricanes (i.e., ENSO), but in the end he concludes "it is not yet possible to say how El Nino and other factors affecting hurricane formation may change as the world warms."

A more comprehensive review of current understandings of hurricanes and global warming can be found in this peer-reviewed paper, forthcoming in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society: Pielke, Jr., R. A., C. Landsea, K. Emanuel, M. Mayfield, J. Laver and R. Pasch, in press. Hurricanes and global warming, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. (PDF: here)

Bottom line: Landsea and Trenberth are scientifically on the same page, and the perspectives now being espoused by Trenberth are (in my interpretation) entirely consistent with what Landsea argued at the time he stepped down from the IPCC. Because of Trenberth's change in perspective, Landsea should feel completely vindicated. The IPCC should be big enough to note this and invite Landsea back into the fold.

A final note, NCAR's press release and those who approved it apparently learned little from the controversy as the press release irresponsibly muddies the issue by making it look like there is in fact a clear global warming-hurricane connection and that there is new information in the Trenberth paper. If the Trenberth paper is cited in the media as supporting a hurricane-global warming connection (and we'd welcome any links to media coverage), then I place full responsibility on the unnecessarily obfuscatory NCAR press release which sets the stage for a further mischaracterization of this issue, on which scientists who once differed, now agree. That is the real story.


Allegations of research misconduct reached record highs last year - the Department of Health and Human Services received 274 complaints, which was 50 percent higher than 2003 and the most since 1989 when the federal government established a program to deal with scientific misconduct. Chris Pascal, director of the federal Office of Research Integrity, said its 28 staffers and $7 million annual budget haven't kept pace with the allegations. The result: Only 23 cases were closed last year. Of those, eight individuals were found guilty of research misconduct. In the past 15 years, the office has confirmed about 185 cases of scientific misconduct. Research suggests this is but a small fraction of all the incidents of fabrication, falsification and plagiarism. In a survey published June 9 in the journal Nature, about 1.5 percent of 3,247 researchers who responded admitted to falsification or plagiarism. (One in three admitted to some type of professional misbehavior.)

Some cases have made headlines:

-On July 18, Eric Poehlman, once a prominent nutrition researcher, will be sentenced in federal court in Vermont for fabricating research data to obtain a $542,000 federal grant while working as a professor at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. He faces up to five years in prison. Poehlman, 49, made up research between 1992 and 2000 on issues like menopause, aging and hormone supplements to win millions of dollars in grant money from the federal government. He is the first researcher to be permanently barred from ever receiving federal research grants again. In 2001, while he was being investigated, Poehlman left the medical school and was awarded a $1 million chair in nutrition and metabolism at the University of Montreal, where officials say they were unaware of his problems. He resigned in January when his contract expired.

-In March, Dr. Gary Kammer, a Wake Forest University rheumatology professor and leading lupus expert, was found to have made up two families and their medical conditions in grant applications to the National Institutes of Health. He has resigned from the university and has been suspended from receiving federal grants for three years.

-In November, 2004, federal officials found that Dr. Ali Sultan, an award-winning malaria researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health, had plagiarized text and figures, and falsified his data - substituting results from one type of malaria for another - on a grant application for federal funds to study malaria drugs. When brought before an inquiry committee, Sultan tried to pin the blame on a postdoctoral student. Sultan resigned and is now a faculty member at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, according to a spokeswoman there.

While the cases are high-profile, scientists have been cheating for decades.

In 1974, Dr. William Summerlin, a top-ranking Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute researcher, used a marker to make black patches of fur on white mice in an attempt to prove his new skin graft technique was working. His case prompted Al Gore, then a young Democratic congressman from Tennessee, to hold the first congressional hearings on the issue. "At the base of our involvement in research lies the trust of American people and the integrity of the scientific exercise," said Gore at the time. As a result of their hearings, Congress passed a law in 1985 requiring institutions that receive federal money for scientific research to have some system to report rulebreakers.

"Often we're confronted with people who are brilliant, absolutely incredible researchers, but that's not what makes them great scientists. It's the character," said Debbi Gilad, a research compliance and integrity officer at the University of California, Davis, which has taken a lead on handling scientific misconduct.

David Wright, a Michigan State University professor who has researched why scientists cheat, said there are four basic reasons: some sort of mental disorder; foreign nationals who learned somewhat different scientific standards; inadequate mentoring; and, most commonly, tremendous and increasing professional pressure to publish studies.

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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005

Carcinogens on the Playground?

The PCB scare has hit the news yet again. A Westchester County school district is about to spend $100,000 to remove soil next to an elementary school, because the soil contains PCBs from window caulking. PCBs, used for their insulating and fire-resistant properties, were banned in 1977, when high-dose animal tests revealed an association with cancers and developmental problems. However, there is no evidence that tiny exposures from environmental contamination cause any health effects in humans. Indeed, studies in the most highly exposed groups -- workers who handled PCBs for decades -- showed no evidence of increased rates of cancer or developmental issues.

The cleanup plan is fueled by a number of alarmist claims. Dr. Daniel Lefkowitz, a father at the elementary school, requested testing of the caulking after reading a Harvard study that linked PCBs to health problems and compared PCBs to lead paint, which has in fact been shown to be a toxin at levels encountered in the environment -- unlike PCBs. While PCBs have had adverse health effects on laboratory animals, these occur only after long-term exposure at extremely high doses, which is in no way comparable to human environmental exposure. There has been no consistent, convincing evidence of health risk at levels such as those found in this caulking, according to the Westchester County Health Department.

EPA regulations are based on animal test findings, and use of such tests to predict adverse effects on humans, including cancer, is not scientifically valid. One cannot reliably predict human health effects based on rodent tests, as even mouse tests cannot predict results in rats. When natural substances found in everyday foods, such as broccoli and grapes, are tested using the same animal tests, they are found to cause as much disease in rodents as synthetic chemicals, which would mean that under a consistent regulatory scheme even "all-natural" foods served in the school cafeteria should come under attack.

Education and public health officials should also be concerned when one person's fears are taken seriously enough to result in wasting large sums of money on soil removal. Ironically, Dr. Lefkowitz has been lauded by school district personnel for placing them at the "forefront" of this issue, but since this scare has been refuted numerous times, why be proud of such an "accomplishment?"

It seems even more ironic, then, that a school district that has declared itself short on money is able to spend $100,000 on this cleanup effort. Surely, this money would be better spent on more urgent public health concerns, such as AIDS education, vaccine information, and even drivers' education, as these do involve real heath risks. Even testing for lead, a valid concern, has been put on the back burner. This school is teaching the wrong health priorities.



Australia has the largest coral reef in the world and Greenies are constantly finding something that "threatens" it. Such claims have been grossly exaggerated, argues Prof. Walter Starck, one of the world's pioneering investigators of coral reefs.

For over 50 years, Professor Walter Starck has done extensive research world-wide on over-fished reefs, sustainably-fished reefs and unfished reefs. His work has involved the discovery of much of what scientists now know about reef biology. In a recent Institute of Public Affairs Backgrounder, 'Threats' to the Great Barrier Reef (May 2005)*, Prof. Starck says:

"Over the years, we have been told that coral-eating starfish, oil pollution, over fishing, fertiliser run-off, silt, agri-chemicals, sewerage, anchor damage, people walking on the reef, ship groundings and global warming were each imminent threats to the reef. "None of these prophecies of doom, however, have become real and the GBR continues to be a vast and essentially pristine natural region where measurable human effects remain rare or trivial."

But because the reef is underwater, remote and inaccessible to the public, scientific prophets of doom capture the media's attention.

"Almost all of the so-called experts given credence by the media are office-workers with academic credentials but very limited direct experience of reefs. Their claims often amount to hypothetical explanations for very limited observations that, more often than not, describe entirely natural conditions, or are based on computer models that predict imaginary futures," says Prof. Starck.

Since the 1960s, Crown-of-Thorn starfish has been described as a major threat to the reef. Early blame for destructive outbreaks was laid on collectors taking Triton's trumpet shell, a natural predator of the starfish. However, this theory collapsed when it was realised that there were never enough trumpet shells to combat large outbreaks of Crown-of-Thorns. Eventually, it was realised that large Crown-of-Thorns outbreaks were a natural phenomenon, the product of millions of eggs from each spawning female, favourable temperature, currents and other oceanic conditions.

In fact, large outbreaks can be beneficial. When coral regenerates after a tropical cyclone destroys a reef, fast-growing branching and plate-like corals crowd out other slower-growing corals. An outbreak of Crown-of-Thorns thins out the fast-growing corals, which they prefer, allowing the slower-growing corals to compete.

Prof. Starck says concern for oil spills damaging the reef was "conjured up to oppose oil exploration in GBR waters." He points out: "Oil floats, coral doesn't and oil has never caused extensive damage to reefs anywhere." The worst oil spill in history was during the Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein released 6-8 million tons of oil into the Persian Gulf, contaminating numerous local reefs. Comprehensive surveys were done, but there was no clean-up operation. Within four months most of the oil had naturally degraded, and within four years the affected reefs were "largely to fully recovered". Oil is not very toxic to reefs and it has been repeatedly found that the "clean-up efforts are not only ineffectual but actually result in worse damage than where nothing is done." The threat of oil pollution to the GBR is remote.

Then there is the claim of over-fishing. There have been hundreds of surveys of the most fished species on the GBR, coral trout. These involved actual counts of the number of fish, not estimates or figures from mathematical models. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) won't publish these studies.

Says Prof. Starck: "These studies show that coral trout are abundant everywhere, and that there is little to no difference between the most frequently fished reefs near population centres and remote rarely visited ones, nor between reefs which are open to fishing and those closed to it. "The figures clearly indicate that our most heavily fished species is, in fact, being only lightly harvested. They also strongly imply that no environmental benefits whatever should be expected to accrue from the recently increased restrictions on fishing ... "

Most disturbing of all, the existence of this exceptional body of knowledge and its total disregard by GBRMPA raises serious questions about the factual basis, scientific quality, and, indeed, even the integrity with which GBRMPA's management of the reef is being conducted" - i.e., the steady closure of more and more reef area to commercial and recreational fishing...... Prof. Starck concludes that "the statistics leave the claims of over-fishing without a shred of credibility ... Where is the evidence? ... There isn't any." The claim of unsustainability, he says, "is beyond ridiculous. It is incompetent. It amounts to claiming that the GBR is the most unproductive reef area in the world with less than one per cent of the productivity of other reefs."

Another claimed threat to the reef is land runoff containing fertiliser, silt and agri-chemicals, together with sewage from island resorts and boats. Several years ago, the GBRMPA funded an extensive study that involved pumping various concentrations of nutrients onto a reef. Even when the nutrient levels reached many time natural levels, there were no algal blooms or damage to the reef. While plans for the experiment received a lot of publicity, the good outcome, that nutrients were not damaging the reef, received only scant notice in the national press.

Recently, it has been realised that there are frequent surges of nutrients over the outer face of the reef from the deep ocean, raising nutrient levels to many times that being washed off the Queensland coastal region. "Far from being damaging to the reefs, it is now thought to enrich them," Prof. Starck says. Despite this evidence, he says that young marine biologists are still being brainwashed into telling visitors to the reef not to urinate in the seawater for fear of raising nutrient levels, without seeming "to notice that swarming sea-bird colonies on nearby reef islets can be excreting as much urea as a thousand humans do every day with no noticeable ill effect."

Prof. Starck says that overall estimates of human-attributed nutrient to the GBR are, at most, only a few per cent, which would not be harmful to the reef. It would be beneficial to reef health. As an example of extreme "ecological correctness", he recounted how GBRMPA officials decided to ban tourists on Green Island from feeding their food scraps to a large resident fish population that gathered for a daily feed of tourist leftovers. Officials decided that this procedure was "unnatural". Instead, the scraps were taken back to be disposed of at the Cairns dump, once a mangrove area, that has been flattened and filled in.

The scraps contribute to breeding clouds of flies, and "in the wet season, putrefying water regularly overflows into the adjacent inlet, resulting in fish kills. An elegant solution has been replaced by an idiotic one."

What about the claim that farmers cropping and grazing, and land-clearing for houses, have caused siltation that can kill inner reefs? Prof. Starck says that pre-European aboriginal burning of large coastal areas was a source of erosion, and natural hill-slope erosion in rain-forests is quite high because of the lack of forest ground-cover. In contrast, pasture and sugar-cane can actually reduce erosion, as can introduced weeds, as these provide better ground-cover than sparse native vegetation......

The prevailing views have led to the winding down of the Queensland reef fishing industry, and the substitution of an easily sustainable fishing industry with imported seafood from already over-exploited marine resources, particularly in developing countries.

Finally, Professor Starck says that at the heart of the problem is the misuse of science, its degeneration "into a peculiar quasi-religious blend of new-age nature worship, science, left-wing political activism, and anti-profit economics ... "Science, by becoming advocacy, has made itself and its practitioners part of the problem. As a result, it has greatly weakened its power to provide real solutions for real problems

Even more here

The Importance of Population

Below is yet another attempt to talk facts to the simplistic thinkers who claim to know all about population. The nonsense has been going on ever since Malthus but the know-alls never seem to notice how their prophecies don't work out. I myself pointed out how nonsensical overpopulation scares were over 30 years ago. See here and here. And if you don't know about it already, click here for the story of the second greatest population false prophet of them all -- Paul Ehrlich. Greenies think that people are pollution but the truth is that people are resources

Dr. R. T. Ravenholt was Director of USAID's Population Program from 1966 to 1979. His letter in today's New York Times gives some hint about why foreign "aid" programs have been so unsuccessful. Dr. Ravenholt wants more emphasis on birth-control for Africans. Here's his punchline:

Resources divided by the population equals the human condition.

Dr. Ravenholt believes that there's a fixed amount of stuff (and stuff to make stuff) to go around. This view, of course, is widespread. If it were true, Dr. Ravenholt would be correct that fewer people would mean more material wealth. Birth control would then be key to economic prosperity. But Dr. Ravenholt's belief is mistaken. Evidence against this belief is under our noses. Compare Manhattan to Mississippi.

Probably the richest 23 contiguous square miles on the planet is Manhattan. It is also a speck of earth that is among the worlds most densely populated, with each square mile, on average, packed with 67,000 residents. More than 1.54 million people live on Manhattan and some 2.12 million people work there all amidst the millions of visitors who flock to that island every year.

According to conventional belief, Manhattanites should be among the earths most destitute and wretched peoples. Yet despite the fact that Manhattan has no forests, farms, pastures, fisheries, or mines, per-capita income there is a sky-high $73,000.

Compare Manhattan to the 46,907 square miles that are Mississippi, a state boasting a great deal of fertile farm land, bountiful lakes and rivers, and thick forests. Mississippi is also blessed (if conventional belief is valid) with a human-population density less than 1/1000th that of Manhattan (61 Mississippians per square mile compared to 67,000 Manhattanites per square mile). According to conventional belief, Mississippians should be much wealthier than Manhattanites. But instead they're much poorer. Per-capita income in Mississippi is less than $16,000, a mere 22 percent of that of Manhattan.

After I first published these paragraphs in November 2003, I received a good deal of e-mail informing me that my comparison is invalid - the chief complaint boiling down to "you simply can't compare Manhattan to Mississippi." Why not? If those (like Dr. Ravenholt) who believe that "resources divided by the population equals the human condition" are correct, then why are Manhattanites so much more materially wealthy than Mississippians? Why should such an obvious and central truth not be in evidence when looking at Manhattan compared to Mississippi? I asked this question to all my correspondents. The reply to my question was, in effect, "other things are happening to create this difference in material wealth."

No doubt `other things' explain the wealth difference between Mississippians and Manhattanites. But an overlooked factor is not found elsewhere; it's found smack-dab in the population numbers themselves. Manhattan is a rich place in large part because it's densely populated with a lot of free people. People create wealth. Julian Simon's lesson cannot be repeated too often: free human beings are the ultimate resource. When people are reasonably free, it's more correct to say that "resources times population equals the human condition."


The Government is vowing to stick to its climate-change obligations despite a $1 billion botch-up over the extent of its greenhouse gas emissions. Opposition parties are calling for New Zealand to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol after a shock report yesterday found that the Government's calculations of New Zealand's net greenhouse gas emissions were out by millions of tonnes. The recalculation of New Zealand's liabilities means that the Government may have to pay more than $500 million in carbon charges in 2012. Previously, officials believed New Zealand would hold a $500m credit by 2012.

Officials have been asked to come up with drastic new measures to reduce New Zealand's carbon emissions, which could include a ban on older Japanese imported cars, increased use of biofuels and a new forestry planting programme. Pete Hodgson, convener of the Ministerial Group on Climate Change, told Parliament last year that New Zealand would be a net seller of carbon credits in the first commitment period and stood to gain economically and environmentally from ratifying the treaty. In 2002, when Parliament agreed by 61 votes to 56 to ratify the protocol, Hodgson told The Press: "We will make some money out of Kyoto - not a lot, but a few hundred million dollars a year." But Hodgson told a parliamentary select committee yesterday that far from meeting its target with 32.6mt CO2e (carbon dioxide units per million tonnes) to spare, fresh forecasts showed New Zealand would fall short by 36.2mt CO2e. Officials calculating New Zealand's obligations under the protocol appear to have counted some forests twice, by adding plantations that were scrub in 1990 - the year countries that have signed the protocol use as a benchmark for reducing their emissions. They also failed to take account of the rapid increase in vehicle emissions arising from New Zealand's booming economy.

The latest revaluation is a huge embarrassment for the Government, which has battled to convince the public that its decision to become the first developed country to ratify the treaty was a wise move. Business groups and farmers have also opposed ratification, arguing the protocol will undermine New Zealand's competitiveness in key export markets, particularly with many competitors in Latin America and Asia excluded from the first target period between 2008 and 2012. New Zealand's top trading partners, Australia and the United States, are refusing to ratify the protocol.

National said yesterday that it was reviewing its policy on the protocol in the wake of the shock announcement. National has said previously it will pull out of Kyoto in 2012 unless Australia and the US join, but environment spokesman Nick Smith said the party may now bring this forward. Smith said Hodgson should go over what he termed a "$1b cock-up". "The scale of this error cannot be explained by changes in forest plantings or increased emissions," Smith said. "The reality is that Labour has made a gross miscalculation that will cost New Zealand dearly in jobs and incomes. "This shocking revelation exposes the folly of Labour's decision to rush in and ratify Kyoto ahead of Australia and the US."

Labour also faced a chorus of jeers from ACT and from its support party, United Future, which called the Kyoto Protocol "stupid" and demanded New Zealand abandon it immediately. "It's time for ideological purity to be shunted aside and common-sense policies to be implemented," said United Future environment spokesman Larry Baldock......

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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005


If the many past mistakes and follies of science were better known, people would be much less likely to accept uncritically the pronouncements about environmental matters coming from scientists. And even physicists are not immune from folly. On some of the most basic issues in physics, positions are held which are a poor fit to the evidence. Even theories about the origin of the solar system are clung to in a quite amazing way. As I noted on Dissecting Leftism on July 5th., the conventional theory that comets are "Dirty snowballs" is a part of the current dogma and it is a dogma that the recent bombardment of comet Tempel 1 by NASA has thrown into considerable disarray. The following email to Benny Peiser from Max Wallis ( of the Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology, Cardiff University, UK supports my view of the Tempel 1 results as disconfirming the current theory. Wallis puts forward an alternative theory which in layman's terms proposes that comets are mostly a heap of gravel but other explanations of the results are of course possible

"Deep Impact has surely smashed the Icy Conglomerate paradigm. How did Deep Impact's science team get caught out over the unexpectedly bright outburst and large cloud of ejecta from comet Tempel 1? NASA's website description as a "ball of dirty ice and rock" was evidently wrong. The idea of pristine ices (of water, ammonia, CO2, CO etc.) is no better, as ices can be as hard as rock.

Peter Schultz told the Press Conference it shows the comet is a "soft" target, though the team's Don Yeomans had earlier suggested explaining the big ejecta plume as the result of releasing subsurface pressure on puncturing the comet's crust. Project scientist Mike A'Hearn claimed on the other hand "it rules out really porous structures where you tunnel very deeply".

He's wrong, for the metre-sized impacter may have tunnelled to tens of metres before exploding. What the large cloud of ejecta has ruled out is the porous ice models (used for impacts on icy satellites) in which impact energy is absorbed in crushing the crystalline structure. What's needed is a little theory on hypervelocity impacts. Theory has established the principle of energy scaling, as Keith Holsapple explains in his basic review "The Scaling of Impact Processes in Planetary Sciences" (Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci. 1993.21.'333 73):

Problems of the effects of nuclear explosions, and, to a lesser extent the effects of conventional explosives, are physically almost identical to those of hypervelocity impacts. In both cases, there is a deposition of energy and momentum in a very small initial region that subsequently is redistributed in a very large region. Ultimate effects and the remaining signature are determined by the physics of that flow and the physics of the material behavior.

Scaling theory has identified a gravity regime and a strength regime. However, 'Deep Impact' could correspond to a third - the "dynamical regime". When gravity is negligible and material strength is low, the blast energy goes very largely into dynamical energy of the crater material, apart from the energy to latent and thermal heating.

If the icy conglomerate paradigm is out, because of low density and low structural energy, what's the alternative? Rather than dirty ice, our competing concept has long been "icy dirt", which still fits the established constraints on elemental abundances. By icy dirt, we mean a loose aggregate dominated by organics and mineral dust (components of carbonaceous chondrites) with chemically bound water or amorphous water ice. The crust and subcrustal material of such a comet model must differ from the loose (pristine) interior, as it has been thermally and chemically processed, and thereby toughened and consolidated ( But being a skin only a few cm thick on Tempel 1, it could scarcely have disturbed Deep Impact. What's surprising is that Halley's comet told us in 1986 that comets have an extremely dark crust that gets hot (greater than 400 K in its case) in sunlight. That was surely enough warning that talk of snow and iceballs is misleading. But it's taken 'Deep Impact' to smash the icy conglomerate model.

Some history: Recent Global Warmth Is Natural, Benefits Humans

The current ice age, called the Pleistocene, became severe approximately two million years ago. One trait of the ice age is its pattern of glacial and interglacial periods, the harsh and cold glacial period persisting roughly 100,000 years, followed by a moderate interglacial period lasting only approximately 10,000 to 15,000 years. Around 10,000 years ago, the cold abated and marked the onset of the present interglacial period, called the Holocene, as massive ice sheets at middle to high latitudes shrank, subsequently raising sea levels and inundating the extended, continental boundaries previously defined by the glacial conditions. The next glacial is expected to begin within several millennia.

Discussions on enacting caps like the Kyoto Protocol on carbon dioxide emissions arise from forecasts by computer simulations of climate conditions centuries in the future. Simulations contain substantive uncertainties and unknowns and are essential scholarly tools; they cannot accurately reproduce major features of climate. Indeed, measurements and analyses of relevant climate parameters suggest so far a much smaller enhanced greenhouse effect than the computer simulations do.

While there was a warming trend in the last decades of the early twentieth century, coinciding with and possibly caused at least in part by the enhanced greenhouse effect, there was a prior warming trend of equal magnitude early in the twentieth century apparently not primarily caused by the enhanced greenhouse effect. If the recent warming trend, observed to be roughly 0.15-0.17§ C per decade, is assumed to be caused entirely by the enhanced greenhouse effect, it is somewhat lower than projections from most computer simulations, indicating the forecasts are still uncertain.

Regarding natural climate variability, it should be noted that the nineteenth century was the end of a well-documented, centuries-long cold period in many areas of the world. Hence, the period of unusual cold at the start of the instrumental record may bias the casual observer to believe the second half of the nineteenth century displayed "normal" temperature, and the twentieth century is "abnormal" in warmth.....

Response by humans and ecosystems to the retreat of the glacial period and onset of a more stable and warm climate was swift. With the development of agriculture, human civilization expanded and sculpted extensive, artificial landscapes. Compared to so great a change of the glacial termination, the last one thousand years look fairly calm. But significant fluctuations in local conditions did occur, driving notable ecosystem and human responses.

A broad period of equable climate reached parts of Western Europe as early as the ninth century C.E. and persisted in some areas though the twelfth century. Peoples in Western Europe could grow familiar crops at more northerly latitudes or higher altitudes than had been possible in prior centuries.

By the twelfth to thirteenth centuries, a series of harsher periods set in, some appearing seemingly abruptly. Economies had benefited from agriculture and sea trade; the onset of the climate deterioration eroded economies and shocked cultures. Called the Little Ice Age, it persisted in areas of Western Europe into the nineteenth century. Life expectancy in England, which had gained approximately 10 years during the Medieval Warm Period, fell back to roughly 38 years, according to climatologist Hubert Lamb, by the mid-fourteenth century.

Unusual weather calamities continued to strike in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. One diarist noted that in Smolensk (Central Europe) in 1438 the starvation was so bad "the wild animals ate people and people ate people and small children." Survival meant cannibalism.

In terms of extreme weather, the twentieth century's storminess seems unexceptional. In the example of Western Europe, storminess was very severe four centuries ago. The solution to weather catastrophes--a fear of which is hard-wired in humans--is not to implement ineffective policies out of a vague concept of precaution, but to strive for scientific facts.

More -- much more -- here

The Asbestos Answer

Of all the selfish exploitation schemes that greedy trial lawyers have perpetrated on our justice system, their abuse of asbestos litigation is certainly the worst. Use of asbestos essentially ended more than 30 years ago, yet trial lawyers are still soliciting and bringing countless claims, many of which are frivolous or downright fraudulent. They are clogging the courts and driving good businesses ? many of which had little or nothing to do with asbestos ? into bankruptcy.

To be sure, there are real victims of asbestos, and the extent of their suffering is hard to comprehend. About 2,000 people each year develop the hideous lung disease mesothelioma, a form of cancer that causes unbearable pain. It has only one known cause: asbestos exposure. No one would doubt for a moment that these victims deserve justice. But thanks to the trial lawyers, legitimate victims of mesothelioma are having a harder and harder time getting it.

You see, many years ago, trial lawyers saw a gold mine in mesothelioma claims. The problem was that there weren't enough actual victims. So they started bringing lawsuits on behalf of people who might someday get the disease. Over time, asbestos claims became an industry as lawyers set up "mass screenings" anywhere they could park a mobile X-ray and woo potential plaintiffs with the promise of an easy settlement. After assembling a suitably huge group of plaintiffs, the trial lawyers filed their lawsuits and tried to strong arm the defendants into settling. Most defendants and their issuers usually obliged in order to avoid costly court battles.

Today, asbestos claims from people who do not have any kind of cancer make up 89 percent of all claims filed, according to a RAND Institute study. RAND also reports that more than 300,000 claims are now pending. Meanwhile, the real victims ? those actually afflicted with mesothelioma ? are receiving only a tiny fraction of the awards and having to wait years for justice because so many frivolous and dubious asbestos complaints are clogging the courts.

At the same time, asbestos claims are driving company after company out of business. Nearly one hundred companies have been forced into bankruptcy as a direct result of asbestos liabilities. As many as 60,000 jobs have been lost, with hundreds of thousands more projected to disappear in the coming years. The bankruptcies are also jeopardizing retirees' pension and 401(k) benefits. And the problems are getting worse.

Having driven nearly all of the asbestos manufacturers out of business, trial lawyers turned to other deep pockets. There are now more than 8,400 companies defending against asbestos claims, many of them small businesses. Nearly all these employers never made or installed asbestos. But they have money, so the trial lawyers have put them on the hook.

No one -- except the trial lawyers -- doubts that asbestos litigation has become a crisis that cries out for a solution. Fortunately, there is now a proposal before Congress to create a fund with money from businesses and insurers, not taxpayers, large enough to handle current and future complaints. Such a fund will ensure swift justice for the real victims and provide certainty for companies now facing an endless number of asbestos claims and the infinite payouts that accompany them.

The fund will also mean an end to the wasteful trial lawyer gravy train. Since claimants would only need to show that they are sick with an asbestos-related disease in order to collect from the fund, they won't even need to hire an attorney in order to obtain compensation. At the same time, the fund plan includes medical and exposure criteria to eliminate the fraud that plagues the current system and ensure that money goes to actual victims. The fund will also guarantee that there is money available down the road for those victims who don't yet know that they are sick. Best of all, victims won't need to prove that a particular defendant caused their illness. That will end the complexities and lengthy delays that have become common in the current system. Victims will be able to collect their compensation fast, and the trial lawyers' asbestos jackpot will finally be eliminated.

Some conservatives have condemned the trust fund, asserting wrongly that it will be supported by a tax on businesses. That's simply wrong. In fact, the major corporations and a number of insurers are the strongest supporters of the trust fund. They have concluded that backing the fund will save consumers and investors money in the long run over the current system with its infinite liability. And most small businesses will contribute nothing at all.

Some have also argued that the fund helps trial lawyers. Wrong again. Maintaining the status quo, with its reliance on the court system, mass tort actions, and strong armed settlements is the trial lawyers' most pleasant dream. The defeat of the trust fund proposal would see that dream come true. Granted, no conservative is anxious to see the federal government take action. But just as our country's class action system cried out for national reform, so does asbestos.

Victims shouldn't wait another year. Neither should the countless U.S. employers who will crumble under the weight of asbestos liability, putting hundreds of thousands of American jobs and millions in pension benefits at risk. It's time for Congress to take the next step on legal reform and pass this badly-needed legislation. The asbestos fund is the best way to repair our legal system, ensure justice for victims, and protect our economy ? while ending the trial lawyers' asbestos bonanza. And that would be justice, indeed.


From Tim Blair, 4 July 2005: "John Quiggin believes the Kyoto Protocol is good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news! So did New Zealand, which anticipated hundreds of millions of dollars in carbon credits. But now New Zealand faces a massive carbon-trading debt, kind of like that predicted by Bjorn Lomborg (who Quiggin has argued against). It might run to billions. By one estimate, the bill for each New Zealand family will be $900. Which is a little unjust, as Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O'Reilly points out: "New Zealand produces only 0.2% of world greenhouse gas emissions yet is being penalised as if we were big time polluters." Just shut up and pay your billions, New Zealander! Remember, Kyoto is good news! Except if you want to build the Taiwanese economy or grow trees: "Some forests planted before 1990 are being cut down early because owners are worried about Kyoto liabilities".


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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005


The following report shows that, in return for GWB saying that global warming is a problem, Blair has endorsed the American approach to it -- research only. No-one for many years has done as much as Blair has to draw the USA and the UK closer together. As it was in ancient times, an intervening stretch of water has become more a highroad than a barrier

"Disputes over climate change will not be resolved by renegotiating the Kyoto treaty, said British Prime Minister Tony Blair. He said the only way to move ahead was to try to achieve a new international consensus that included the US along with China, India and other large emerging economies. He added that it would be right for China and India to be at future G8 summits, although he acknowledged that restructuring talks to accommodate other nations was difficult. 'What I hope at this summit is that we can set a different direction of travel that gives us the possibility -- when Kyoto expires in 2012 -- (to) get an international consensus that will include America and include also China India and the big emerging countries,' Blair said.

'If you can't get agreement between these countries, you will never tackle this issue. It's too easy for people just to point the finger at America. China and India will be major consumers of energy.' 'We're not going to get America to come to the summit and say: 'We're now going to sign up to the Kyoto treaty.' There's no way that was ever going to happen. Nor is the G8 the place to go and negotiate a new treaty.'

Blair said campaigners had taken the easy option of 'pointing the finger at America', because the US did not sign up to the Kyoto accord. 'Let's be quite clear about this. America spends more on research and development on climate change than anybody else. It's not as if they don't recognise that these are issues,' he said. 'The key thing is is to try to set in place a process that allows us to get an agreement in future, because if we don't...then we are in big trouble in future years.'

Blair warned that a move to cleaner fuels would not come at the expense of economic growth. 'No-one is going to damage their economy in trying to tackle this problem of the environment. There are also huge business opportunities in clean technology. There are ways that we can tackle this problem fully consistent with growing our economies.' "



What happened to British moderation? I suspect that they see it as a now-rare opportunity to strut the world stage

The press release by the Royal Society is just another example of the long string of manipulative and obfuscatory practices that have defined the climate debate and in which pro-Kyoto British scientists have played such a prominent role.

The most notorious example is perhaps the behavior of the British delegation at a climate conference in Moscow in July 2003. According to Dr. Madhav L. Khandekar, a Canadian environmental consultant and research scientist, the UK delegation, led by Sir David King, chief scientific advisor to the British government, "behaved in a most obstructionist and unprofessional fashion throughout the event. The U.K. Delegation vehemently opposed allowing any of the experts who disagreed with the Kyoto science to even present our work."

More particularly he complained: "In an attempt to deny dissenting scientists the time to speak, the UK delegation did not arrive until 11 a.m. on July 7, although the seminar was supposed to start at 9.30 a.m. Dr. King then insisted on delivering a long presentation that forced dissenting speakers to significantly shorten their talks. Even though we met until 7 p.m., the schedule for the first day had to be completed the following morning and, even then, Dr. King tried to bump us by speaking next morning for almost 40 minutes.

The UK group refused to answer many of the questions of [Kremlin economic adviser Andrei] Illarionov and others. Professor Paul Reiter of Institute Pasteur in Paris questioned Dr. King's assertion that global warming has reduced the snow/ice cap on Mount Kilimanjaro. Prof. Reiter, whose studies reveal that there has been no temperature change at the base of the mountain in the last decade, pointed out that ice cap changes could easily have been due to reasons other than global warming. Dr. King did not answer and instead suddenly walked away on the pretext that he had to meet a government official." And so he goes on.

One can only wonder whether there are any checks and balances to temper the excessive zeal of some scientists, especially those who are acting in some official capacity, to impose their views concerning climate change onto science and politics. All those who value impartiality and open-mindedness of science and its institutions will undoubtedly be utterly embarrassed by these practices. It is not only damaging for the reputation of the individual scientists involved, but also the institutions which they claim to represent. Moreover it may blot the reputation of science at large

More here


But the criticisms don't stick -- of course

Last week, an Environmental Protection Agency scientific advisory panel expressed concern about the safety of a chemical, PFOA, used to make Teflon, the nonstick coating on everything from frying pans to clothing to pizza boxes. The panel relied solely upon the fact high doses of PFOA cause cancer in mice and rats. Under the EPA definition of "cancer-causing agent," this is enough to classify the chemical as a "likely human carcinogen" -- though (a) there is not a shred of evidence either Teflon or PFOA poses a human cancer risk and (b) a full spectrum of naturally occurring chemicals also cause cancer in lab animals, just as PFOA does.

Radical environmental groups immediately seized upon the opportunity to move in for the kill. On Wednesday, Richard Wiles of the Environmental Working Group opined on NBC's "Nightly News" that "it has now been determined to be a likely human carcinogen. That ranks up there with DDT, PCBs, dioxin as a very serous hazard. It needs to be banned."(Apparently, Mr. Wiles is unaware the regulated, approved use of the three much-maligned chemicals he cited never made anyone sick.)

A ban on Teflon? Now that would be the ultimate environmentalist victory. Teflon, probably more than any industrial product, is the poster child of modern technology, one that has made our lives easier and more enjoyable. Ever since DuPont's Dr. Roy J. Plunkett accidentally discovered Teflon in his lab in 1938, it has proven miraculously useful, first in machine and military applications in the 1940s -- and dramatically changed cooking and cleanup in the 1960s when first used as a nonstick surface for pots and pans.

Teflon's stellar success story makes it a very ripe target for those who spew chemical-phobia in their crusade to eliminate the tools modern industrial chemistry has given us -- pesticides, pharmaceuticals, food additives, and more.

We can all hope the trumped-up charges against Teflon do not pan out so we consumers continue having access to the safe and useful products that contain it. But don't count on it. Those in the environmental camp, who still tenaciously argue a rodent is a little man, will insist on purging all such "carcinogens" no matter the cost or loss of benefits. Unless scientists emerge from their classrooms and laboratories and express their outrage that junk science like this is used to set public policy, the EPA will continue to "protect" us from cancer risks that do not exist -- and pass the extraordinarily high costs on to us.



"In his new book Collapse, Jared Diamond begins with a chapter on my home state of Montana. Although painting a romantic picture of "Big Sky Country," he decries environmental tragedies including toxic mining waste, forest fires, soil exhaustion, water shortages, and invasive species. Diamond blames these environmental perils on miners, loggers, and farmers who "behaved as they did because the government required almost nothing of them" and because they were business people maximizing profits.

Reading his gloom and doom chapter, one wonders why Ted Turner, Charles Schwab, and friends are buying land in Montana. The reason is that Montana's environment is not as trashed as alarmist Diamond would have us believe. Here are the facts about Montana. You can drink from almost any stream without concern for toxic wastes, though you might worry about giardia from burgeoning elk herds. You can view millions of acres of spectacular forests-many on private lands. Farms remain productive, and lands mined at the turn of the century are being reclaimed. In short, Montana's environment is getting better not worse.

The same holds generally in the developed world. From 1970 to 2000, for example, concentrations of carbon monoxide fell by 75 percent in the United States and by 95 percent in the United Kingdom. From 1975 to 2000, nitrogen oxides declined by 35 percent in the United States and by 40 percent in the United Kingdom. (Also on aBE: "People, Progress, & Our Planet".)

Furthermore, we in the United States are actually sequestering as much carbon through improved agricultural techniques, healthy forests, and sealed landfills as we are adding to the atmosphere's greenhouse gasses Why is this so? First, as incomes rise, people demand and can afford a healthier environment. Study after study confirms that "wealthier is healthier". (Read how this hypothesis has been offered in economics, aBE Core Concept: "Environmental Kuznets Curve".)

Second, societies with a strong rule of law, private property rights, and market systems have better environments that those that do not. As more countries have adopted these institutions following the fall of the Iron Curtain, incomes and environmental quality have improved.

Diamond has it backward when he blames environmental problems on a lack of government regulation and too much private enterprise. On Montana's frontier, cattlemen formed voluntary associations to prevent overgazing of the range. Farmers developed water rights to efficiently allocate water. In addition, mining companies compensated landowners if the companies' pollution spilled across their boundaries".



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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005


Befuddled by the fog of Kyoto, Britain's environmental policy is a costly shambles based on dubious predictions about the future

The Government has not the foggiest notion what Britain's self-imposed and hugely ambitious target of cutting C02 emissions to 60 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050 will cost. The estimates range from anywhere between 60 and 400 billion pounds in today's money - and the lower figure assumes, totally implausibly, that costs up to 2020 will be negligible because the emissions targets can be met merely through more efficient use of energy.

Gordon Brown has correctly observed that finance ministries need to be involved as deeply in climate change policy as are environmental departments. Yet in Britain, Defra rules OK; and the approach of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is that the anticipated reduction in UK growth rates is trivial, by comparison with the (presumed) returns in reduced environmental risk. As the committee observes, "no other item of government expenditure is treated in this way. If it were, it would be easy to justify almost any large scale item." The Treasury has not even done an overall cost-benefit analysis of the returns to be expected from the emissions-reduction strategy - and because Britain's emissions are a minute fraction of the global total, the truthful answer would be high cost for zero benefit, should other countries not follow "the British lead". No wonder the report calls for a complete overhaul of government policy.

Mr Blair should, however, swallow hard and push this report as hard as he can into the international domain, because it poses questions of the first magnitude about the faulty and, in some cases seriously misleading economic "scenarios", produced by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), on which not only Britain's but other countries' policies are being based. The committee accepts that the uncertainties that still surround the science of global warming do not constitute a justification for doing nothing; "the issue is how to behave in the face of that uncertainty", and it must be right to take out insurance against the worst risks. But not "at any cost" - particularly when the estimates of the impact of global warming vary enormously, are even more highly speculative than the science of climate change and may heavily overestimate the damage, particularly when some parts of the world would actually benefit from a warmer climate - something that the IPPC has consistently underplayed.

The major point this report makes is that the links between economic growth and global warming have "not been sufficiently rigorously explored". Put less gently, some of the IPPC "scenarios" - including the ones that predict global warming in excess of 5C - are based on fantasy.

Climate change modelling involves combining scientific data, observed and projected through models, with economic forecasts. Assumptions about per capita emissions of greenhouse gases, for example, are critically affected by things such as the future size of the world's population, global growth rates, energy efficiency, and the prospects of developing new technologies that reduce future reliance on fossil fuels. The IPPC's "high end scenarios" assume not only that carbon and methane emissions rise steeply, when they are currently stable or actually shrinking, but artificially inflate the magnitude of global warming by assuming that the world's population will be half as large again 2100 as it is expected to be. The IPPC also consistently factors in global growth rates that are far higher than those historically recorded.

These "worst-case scenarios" are constantly cited, erroneously, as forecasts, and they are seriously distorting policy. It is urgent to arrive at more realistic estimates, to be clearer about the trade-offs involved and to be more honest about the high costs that generations now living will asked to bear, for benefits that lie far in the future.

More thought, the report says, also needs to be given to the merits of adapting to climate change, given that some measure of global warming is unavoidable. Adaptation is "the Cinderella" of climate change policy. "Nearly all of the public debate . . . is about mitigation - reducing emissions - rather than about . . . assisting the most vulnerable societies in the world to adapt to the risk they may face." With or without global warming, for example, water scarcity may affect as many as six billion people by 2080.

How might governments get themselves off the Kyoto hook? By focusing on incentives rather than imposed targets. The goal should be to make carbon-free energy economically viable, and that will require heavy investment in such technologies as solar photovoltaics, carbon sequestration and hydrogen technology. Governments need to get away from targets and penalties, and concentrate on maximising the potential of research. Because this is what the Bush Administration has been saying, the Gleneagles summiteers will not want to admit that Kyoto is a bankrupt strategy. But the issue is too important for pride to trump common sense

Chirac vs. the Anglosphere: At the G8 Summit, Chirac will again beat a dead horse

When French voters rejected the draft European Union constitution drawn up by former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing, his successor Jacques Chirac reverted to the cornerstone of French policy for the past 400 years: Blame it on "les Anglo-Saxons." His people had rejected the constitution not because of its limits on French sovereignty, he decided, but because the constitution was too liberal, imposing free markets and other elements of the dreaded Anglo-American economic system on an unwilling French public. Ignoring that his country had just plunged the EU into a crisis, he immediately precipitated another one by attacking Tony Blair very publicly at the recent EU summit. The bell will sound for round two of the fight at the G8 summit today. This time, however, he will be throwing a few punches at President Bush as well.

The issue in question will be global warming. Jacques Chirac long ago hailed the Kyoto Protocol as "the first component of an authentic global governance." By authentic, he presumably meant dirigiste, as its prescriptive demands for limitations on greenhouse-gas emissions that would artificially suppress the energy use that powers economic growth are certainly not Anglo-Saxon in intent. When Tony Blair announced that he would be making "climate change" a focus of the G8 summit in Scotland, Chirac could have been sure that Kyoto would be mentioned.

Yet it has not worked out that way. The U.S. Senate recognized early on in the process that Kyoto was not so much an environmental treaty as an economic one, on the basis that if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck — whatever name others give to it. Now Tony Blair has realized that Kyoto is a dead duck. While Britain is striving mightily to live up to its commitments under the treaty, the rest of Europe isn't. Nor, for that matter, is Canada. Or Japan. The only difference between these nations and America is that the U.S.A. is honest enough to say it isn't going to comply.

Indeed, European ministers have been quietly shelving the idea of binding energy-reduction targets. On June 29, the EU Council of Ministers scrapped every binding element of a proposal to increase energy efficiency. The EU Commission had proposed a binding target of a 9 percent decrease on retail energy consumption by 2015. The parliament had increased that to 11.5 percent. Yet the Union's energy ministers took out those provisions and replaced them with a nonbinding target of 6 percent reductions over a six-year period starting at some undisclosed date.

Faced with the president's principled opposition to and the EU's unprincipled disregard of the Kyoto agreements, Blair appears to have decided to concede defeat. According to British officials speaking off the record, the G8 communiqué on global warming will not include any reference to targets for emissions reduction or to Kyoto itself. Environmental groups will be horrified, and will presumably go through denial, anger, and depression before finally accepting that their Kyoto dream is dead.

Jacques Chirac, on the other hand, will see this as a perfect opportunity for a fight. He told French officials that he would hold out for a mention of Kyoto in the communiqué text and also a concession that the warming problem requires urgent corrective action (presumably of the sort Europe has been unwilling to take). Indeed, Chirac seems to believe that he can use Britain's membership in the EU as a bargaining chip. A senior French figure told The Times of London on July 1, "[Mr. Blair] can fudge the issue by coming up with a compromise between ourselves and the Americans which suggests we agree when we don't. And that will not fly. The other possibility is to say, without generating any crisis: 'Britain, as a member of the EU, cannot say that we agree when we don't.' Blair has an opportunity to show that he is a good European and that, on a matter like climate change, he will not give up and have a compromise at any cost."

This tactic is unlikely to work. Having attacked Tony Blair and Britain itself at the recent EU summit, Chirac has inadvertently driven Blair towards a Euro-skeptic position, something that has proved very popular in the U.K. As the Jacques attack was completely unprovoked, it is unlikely that the prime minister will be in conciliatory mood. In fact, Chirac's attacks at the EU summit and the G8 seem to have driven the Anglosphere allies closer together still. If the prime minister and president play this right, they will be seen as forward-looking, advancing an agenda and acting with global vision. (The British have now joined the Americans in conceding that the Chinese, Indians, and Brazilians must be involved, although somewhat eccentrically they are claiming credit for bringing the parties together.)

Chirac, on the other hand, should be seen as the reactionary, stuck in the past, advocating failed solutions while ignoring inconvenient facts. In that, at least, he is reflecting the views of the French people.

From Iain Murray


Another excerpt from an academic paper -- this one showing that variations in the activity of the sun could lie behind a lot of climate change. And the sun has indicated that it will not sign the Kyoto treaty either. From "Advances in Space Research" Volume 35, Issue 3 , 2005, Pages 451-457 Doi address here

Influence of solar 11-year variability on chemical composition of the stratosphere and mesosphere simulated with a chemistry-climate model

By: T. Egorova a), b), E. Rozanov a), b), V. Zubov c), W. Schmutz b) and Th. Peter a) a) Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, Hoenggerberg HPP, ETH, Zurich CH-8093, Switzerland b) Physical-Meteorological Observatory, World Radiation Center, Dorfstrasse 3, Davos 7260, Switzerland c) Main Geophysical Observatory, 7 Karbyshev street, St. Petersburg 194021, Russia


An understanding of observed global chemistry and climate changes caused by solar activity changes is a high priority in modern geosciences. Here, we discuss the influence of the ultraviolet spectral irradiance variability during solar cycle on chemical composition of the stratosphere and mesosphere with chemistry-climate model that fully describes the interactions between chemical and thermo-dynamical processes. We have performed several 20-year long steady-state runs and found a significant influence of solar irradiation on the chemical composition in the stratosphere and mesosphere. An enhanced photolysis during solar maximum results in destruction of methane, nitrous oxide and CFCs providing an increase in the chemical activity of the atmosphere with more pronounced effects in the mesosphere. In the mesosphere, an increase of HOx caused by more intensive water vapor photolysis results in significant ozone depletion there. More intensive methane oxidation gives statistically significant rise to the stratospheric humidity. The influence of dynamical perturbations has been identified over high latitude areas. The response of OH is found to be in a good agreement with observation data. The response of the other species is hard to validate, because of the lack of theoretical and observational studies.


In this paper, we document the response of several important atmospheric species (CH4, N2O, H2O, CF2Cl2, OH, HO2, NO2 and ClO) to the observed increase of the solar irradiance from minimum to maximum of the 11-year solar activity cycle simulated with state-of-the-art CCM SOCOL. The response of ozone, temperature and dynamics to solar irradiance variability have been analyzed by Egorova et al. (2004) and here, we concentrate only on chemical aspect of the issue. Our results confirm that solar variability has significant influence on the chemical composition of the stratosphere and mesosphere. We found substantial changes in the concentration of several source gases as well as reservoir and radical species that are responsible for ozone destruction in the atmosphere. Enhanced photolysis rates during solar maximum lead to additional destruction of methane, nitrous oxide and CFCs providing an increase in the chemical activity of the atmosphere with more pronounced effects in the mesosphere. In the mesosphere, an increase of HOx caused by more intensive water vapor photolysis results in substantial ozone depletion there. More intensive methane oxidation gives statistically significant rise to the stratospheric humidity. The application of the fully coupled CCM allow tracing of dynamical changes influence, which appear as a pronounced decrease of source gases over the high latitude area.

However, from our CCM results, it is impossible to distinguish between chemical and dynamical influence with high level of confidence. An additional run of the same model in off-line mode (i.e., with prescribed dynamics and temperature) may provide the solar signal solely due to chemical processes and subsequent comparison with interactive run can help to elucidate the dynamical contribution. It should be also noted that the model is not capable of simulating transport effects properly because of the steady-state approach used in this study. It is particularly true for long-lived trace species, which have transport times of several years within the middle atmosphere. We will address this issue using the results of our ongoing transient runs.

However, we think that the presentation of the solar signal using steady-state approach is necessary step forward in our understanding of the atmospheric response to the solar irradiance variability. It helps to comprehend the chain of physical and chemical processes responsible for the formation of the solar signal in the atmosphere and provide a basis for future analysis of the solar signal obtained from the transient simulations. Simulated response of the hydroxyl radical is in a reasonably good agreement with theoretical prediction and observation data presented by Canty and Minschwaner (2002). The ozone response does not agree well with the solar signal in ozone extracted from observational data (Egorova et al., 2004). The responses of the other species to solar flux variability (while they are close to the theoretical expectations and qualitatively agree with previous estimations) are hard to validate, because almost no observational studies are available at the moment. We hope that in the nearest future such studies will appear and we will have reliable data to validate our model results. This investigation will help to answer the question why simulated ozone response is far from the observational evidences and which process could be missing in the model.


Unfortunately, the dreadful Kelo v. City of New London ruling isn't the only nightmare facing property owners this summer, the American Policy Center (APC) reported today. According to draft language obtained by the Center, the "Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2005" (TESRA 2005) is a major sellout to property rights advocates nationwide. Appropriately, the Center has dubbed the bill "Kelo II." "I can't believe what I'm looking at," said APC president Tom DeWeese referring to the draft language. "Just as the Supreme Court's decision on Kelo has strengthened local governments' ability to run roughshod over the Fifth Amendment, TESRA 2005 strengthens the federal government's ability to steal private property under the Endangered Species Act." According to the documents obtained, the TESRA 2005 language was produced by Congressman Richard Pombo's House Resources Committee office.

The language states that the federal government can take up to 50 percent of a landowner's property before it ever has to pay the landowner a dime. "This is a sellout to property rights advocates, plain and simple," said DeWeese. "Stealing 50 percent of a person's lifeblood is out and out theft, but Congressman Pombo wants to make it federal law." A particularly frightening provision in the Act "provides new authority to protect listed species from harmful invasive species." DeWeese calls this "an outrage," noting that radical environmentalists have sought regulatory authority over so-called invasive species for years. Property rights advocates have fought such authority tooth-and-nail, as it would lead to property rights abuse far and above even what the current Endangered Species Act allows. "If this is Congressman Pombo's idea of help for property owners, I'd hate to see his idea of hurt," said DeWeese.

According to an Executive Order signed by President Bill Clinton in 1999, invasive species are broadly defined as "any species, including seeds, eggs, spores, or other biological material capable of propagating that species, that is not native to that ecosystem." DeWeese notes that Kentucky bluegrass and English ivy, found on most lawns and golf courses, are just two examples of common invasive species that could open the door to government regulation of a person's property.

The Endangered Species Act has a thirty-year history of shredding Americans' constitutional protection of private property, and it has ruined countless lives in the process. DeWeese warns that the Pombo plan to reaffirm the Act's unconstitutional power to take private property, and give the federal government the additional power to regulate invasive species, is an absolute disaster for anyone who owns land. He gives it an emphatic two thumbs down. "Like most sequels, it would have been much better if Kelo II [TESRA 2005] had never been made."



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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005


The House of Lords has always been known as a reservoir of expertise on many subjects and Tony Blair's reforms have (perhaps ironically) enhanced its authority. So the latest report of a Lords expert committee will carry enormous weight in Britain. And we know from the hunting ban that getting legislation past an unwilling House of Lords is still an enormous political obstacle too. Basically, the new report endorses the approach of one George W. Bush! The Lords report certainly blows the "consensus" myth out of the water if it does nothing else. There has been such a big movement towards realism about climate change recently that I suspect that we have just passed a tipping point. The following summary is from The Scotsman of 6th. July.

* Lords report finds Kyoto targets will make little change to global warming
* Report echoes US criticisms of ecological treaty's economic damage
* White House chairman predicts compromise on climate issues at start of G8

Key quote:
"The Kyoto Protocol makes little difference to rates of global warming and has a naive compliance mechanism, which can only deter countries from signing up to subsequent tighter emissions targets"

Story in full:
The Kyoto Protocol has been rubbished by a heavyweight committee of peers, on the day that Tony Blair opens the G8 summit with a focus on global warming. A cross-party House of Lords report today finds that the Kyoto targets will make "little difference" to the pace of global warming and has called for Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, to calculate how much it is costing Britain. The report will deal a damaging blow both to Mr Blair's attempt to present a "consensus" behind global warming, and demands that the United States agrees to Kyoto in a G8 declaration tomorrow.

In a report seemingly timed to have maximum impact on the G8, which is due to release its climate change communique tomorrow, the peers said that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations-backed environmental watchdog, is tainted by "political interference".

Policymakers were too focused on mitigating climate change, rather than adapting to it, they said.

Lord Lawson, a former chancellor and committee member, was critical of the way that Kyoto targets for greenhouse gas emissions had been "subcontracted" to the IPCC, which he described as "very, very flawed". An issue so central to Britain's economy should be decided by the government, he said. "I can tell you that I was astonished when the Treasury witness said that the Treasury really wasn't involved in any serious way in this at all," he said. "When I was chancellor, it would have been unthinkable on a matter as important as economic affairs - important in public expenditure terms - that the Treasury was not making a very thorough analysis of the issue."

The committee expressed sympathy with the United States, whose Senate voted unanimously against any climate-change treaty that could damage the economy without imposing conditions on developing countries. Instead of trying to coerce the US president, George Bush, into signing up to the Kyoto Protocol, the UK should abandon the treaty and explore alternatives based on agreements over carbon-free technology. "We are concerned that the international negotiations on climate-change reduction will be ineffective because of the preoccupation with setting emissions targets," the report said. "The Kyoto Protocol makes little difference to rates of global warming and has a naive compliance mechanism, which can only deter countries from signing up to subsequent tighter emissions targets."

Since the Kyoto Protocol was signed in 1997, scientists have established that it would simply mean global temperature rising by 2.35øC rather than 2.5øC by 2100.

The House of Lords called for a carbon tax to replace the climate-change levy, while warning that policies such as saving energy and renewables were based on "dubious assumptions".

The report was angrily attacked by environmental campaigners yesterday. Duncan McLaren, the chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said there was no obsession with targets. "The idea that we will make progress on tackling climate change without having some sort of targets is ludicrous. Without targets, there is no incentive."

Meanwhile, Mr Bush has come a long way towards agreeing with campaigners on some of the basic issues. He said in an ITV interview on Monday that the planet is warming and "obviously" man is partly responsible. He is likely to repeat this in a G8 declaration tomorrow, in what may be described by UK ministers as a significant concession. But in Washington, aides have rounded on the European consensus on Kyoto. The president's top environmental adviser yesterday attacked European countries for their "narrow" view of global warming. Jim Connaughton, the chairman of the White House, predicted that the G8 summit starting today in Gleneagles will end without narrowing the gap between the US and Europe over climate change and the Kyoto Protocol, to cut emissions.

Pre-summit talks to prepare the ground for a final declaration are heading towards division, the adviser said. "There's a reflection of the fact that a number of the countries are proceeding with Kyoto and some other countries are pursuing their own strategy," Mr Connaughton told US journalists before the president took off for Scotland.

Climate change and its causes is a contentious issue, dividing nations and scientists. One puzzling anomaly is the Franz Josef glacier in New Zealand, which has been growing, rather than receding, at a rate of 12ft a day, apparently bucking the expectations that glaciers would recede in a warmer environment.

The British government has argued that there is a clear consensus, which the US must accept. But the implementation of Kyoto four months ago has revived the debate, showing that the facts remain in dispute.

The G8 will discuss climate change tomorrow. The draft communique, which has been widely leaked, simply restates the general principles - and speaks of the need to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Ministers are hoping that the US will agree to an ongoing dialogue with India and China, who in 1997 were considered too poor to sign Kyoto. There will also be agreement on the importance of new fuel technologies.


As the world seeks to address the threat of climate change, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will make a strong pitch for nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels at the summit of the eight industrial democracies this week at Gleneagles, Scotland. Along with the top leaders of China, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa, Singh will be joining the leaders of G-8 in Scotland to discuss practical ways to deal with the challenge of global warming.

Amidst the intense trans-Atlantic squabble over global warming, there is an interesting congruence of views between India and the developing countries on the one side and the US on the other. While the Europeans emphasise on regulations and quotas for the worldwide reduction of carbon-dioxide emissions, the Bush Administration's focus is on development of new options like nuclear power, clean coal technology and the use of hydrogen fuel for the transportation sector.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair is desperately trying to bridge the divide and put together a new global consensus to address the threat posed by the burning of fossil fuels that emit carbon dioxide and raise global temperatures. The earlier consensus on reducing carbon emissions, the Kyoto Protocol, has been rejected by the Bush Administration.

Singh will insist that the principal responsibility for the reduction of global emissions of carbon dioxide rests with the advanced countries. The G-8 countries-the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan and Russia-account for 65 per cent of global GDP and 47 per cent of world's carbon emissions. While underlining the importance of "common but differentiated responsibility" between the developed and developing countries, Singh would argue that answers to global warming must not come in the way of economic development. Nor should the regimes of global warming restrict the use of energy use by developing countries.

This was the point President Bush was making last week when he quoted former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to say poverty and underdevelopment were the greatest sources of pollution. The practical way to go beyond the Kyoto Protocol, India recognises, lies in deploying new energy technologies that will help both developed and developing nations to reduce carbon emissions.

The renewed worldwide interest in nuclear energy comes at a time when Delhi has stepped up its diplomatic campaign to remove the current international restrictions against atomic energy cooperation with India. As Singh presses India's case of nuclear energy development, President Bush has been promoting nuclear energy at home and has talked of sharing it with fast growing economies like India.

Even the powerful environmental movements around the world, once sworn enemies of nuclear power, are beginning to have second thoughts. The G-8 summit is expected to broadly endorse greater use of nuclear power. That sentiment, however, will not be enough for India. It needs a change of current rules to allow civilian nuclear cooperation with India. This issue will figure prominently in the meeting between Singh and Bush at the White House on July 18.

From NewIndpress, 5 July 2005


From "Pravda", 5 July 2005

The G8 summit is set to take place in Europe this week. The global climate change on the whole and the Kyoto Protocol in particular, are expected to become one of the central subjects of the international discussion. US President George W. Bush used the occasion to crack down on the ideologists of Kyoto agreements. Russian scientists prepare their own scandal too: they want Russia to withdraw its signature from the British report on the global warming.

Russia approved the Kyoto Protocol in September of 2004, whereas the administration of the US president is rigidly determined not to participate in such a doubtful venture. George W. Bush stated on the threshold of the G8 summit that the US administration viewed the Kyoto Protocol as a form of international fraud. Bush strongly excluded an opportunity for the USA to ratify a treaty, the essence of which would be similar to the Kyoto climate change treaty. The US economy would be ruined, if the USA met the conditions of the climate change document, Bush clarified.

It is worth mentioning that the USA joined the protocol in 1997, although it later pulled out from the treaty four years later, when American experts analyzed all advantages and disadvantages of the decision. According to the standpoint of the US administration, one should not restrict the economic development and assign huge funds for the struggle with carbonic gas in poor states. One should deal with such problems independently, investing in energy-saving and ecologically pure technologies, Bush believes.

It is hard to accuse the USA of greediness and unwillingness to acknowledge ecological problems. The Bush's administration launches new projects of nuclear and alternative energy, to gradually reduce the share of hydrocarbon-powered thermal power stations in the future. Pragmatic Americans kill two birds with one stone: they reduce the amount of harmful emissions in the atmosphere and strengthen their energy security from politically unstable fuel exporters. One has to acknowledge the fact that the USA does not need any external pressure at this point: whether it comes from the Kyoto Protocol or another similar agreement.

The dynamically growing India and China do not need it either. Russia apparently needs the protocol despite its ambition to double the GDP. The treaty stipulates Russia and former republics of the Soviet Union should cut the emission of greenhouse gases by over 30 percent during the forthcoming years and by 90 percent by 2050. It means that the economic activity on the territory of the Russian Federation is supposed to drop by 70-80 percent, whereas the GDP growth for Russia and former Soviet states must reduce two or three times by 2050. To crown it all, global warming restraining programs are evaluated at up to 47 trillion dollars.

Russia already suffers losses from the ratification of the climate change treaty. The idea, which permeates through the Kyoto Protocol, is connected with the myth of the global warming. However, Russia's congresses, addresses and most prominent scientists were trying to prove to the world that the actual reasons of the global climate change were still unknown. Russian specialists repeatedly said that the problem needed to be developed and studied further. It is noteworthy that Russian scientists were not allowed to participate in international discussions on the matter.

They are not going to give up fighting, though: a delegation of Russia specialists reportedly prepares a scandal for the G8 summit. Russian scientists disliked the fact that the British report about the global response to the climate change issue (the report will be presented at the G8 summit in Scotland) was signed by the president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Yury Osipov (in addition to eleven signatures made by foreign academicians). The chairman of the climate change and Kyoto Protocol council of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Yury Israel, said that the collective discussion of the document prepared by British specialists started only [last week]. As a result, members of the council asked Yury Osipov to withdraw his signature from the report. "Russian academicians have not changed their stance regarding the Kyoto Protocol," Israel said at yesterday's press conference. Russian scientists still consider the Kyoto Protocol scientifically ungrounded and inefficient in terms of achieving the goal of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

In addition, specialists are certain that the Kyoto Protocol is harmful to the Russian economy. It is an open secret that the ice of the Antarctic acts as an indicator of the global climate change. Kyoto Protocol champions persistently emphasize the threat of the Antarctic thawing. A group of Russian scientists, who have recently returned from their mission to Antarctica, presented a sensational report to the Academy of Sciences. Having conducted a series of meticulous experiments on board the Krasin ice breaker, the scientists concluded that the biggest part of the Antarctic continent had become colder with time. Yury Israel said that the recent mission could only prove that there were too many uncertainties left in climate change forecasts. The phenomenon itself is obvious, although modern science does not have a definite explanation to it yet. Trillions of dollars seem to be a huge sacrifice at this point: the USA, China and India are aware of it.


Abstract and Discussion from an academic paper in "Earth and Planetary Science Letters". Article in Press, Corrected Proof here. The article points to another apparently strong NATURAL influence on climate change that does not figure in the usual Greenie "models" -- variations in earth's magnetism. Doi address for the paper: here

Does Earth's magnetic field secular variation control centennial climate change?

By: Yves Gallet a), Agnes Genevey b) and Frederic Fluteau a), c) a) Laboratoire de Paleomagnetisme, UMR CNRS 7577, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, 4 Place Jussieu, 75252 Paris cedex 05, France b) Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musees de France, UMR CNRS 171, Palais du Louvre-Porte des lions, 14 quai Francois Mitterrand, 75001 Paris, France c) UFR des Sciences Physiques de la Terre, Universite Denis Diderot Paris 7, 2 Place Jussieu, 75251 Paris cedex 05, France


We obtained new archeointensity data from French faience potsherds dated from the 17th to 19th century. These results further document the occurrence of sharp changes in geomagnetic field secular variation in Western Europe over the past three millennia. The intensity variation curve shows several maxima whose rising parts appear to coincide in time with the occurrence of cooling events documented in this region from natural and historical data. This coincidence suggests a causal link between enhanced secular variation of the geomagnetic field and climate change over centennial time scales, challenging the role of solar forcing as the sole factor provoking these climatic variations. We propose that the archeomagnetic jerks described by Gallet et al. [1] [Y. Gallet, A. Genevey, V. Courtillot, On the possible occurrence of archeomagnetic jerks in the geomagnetic field over the past three millennia, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 214 (2003) 237-242.] may engage the mechanism for centennial climate change....


Should the temporal concordance underlined above not be fortuitous, we may propose a connection between the geomagnetic field and climate change over centennial time scales. The apparent relationship between rapid intensity increases and the occurrence of cooling periods, while the subsequent decreases in intensity might correspond to the return toward warmer conditions, suggests that enhanced secular variation of the geomagnetic field may have had a significant influence on the climatic variations observed in Western Europe during the past millennia. The main problem is to identify a plausible mechanism which could efficiently link geomagnetic field and climate. This also raises the question of the origin of archeomagnetic jerks. Do they correspond to periods of rapid dipolar field variations? Could the axial dipole field contribute less to geomagnetic field during these periods? Genevey et al. [27] and Gallet et al. [1] noticed that geomagnetic field intensity variations were largely consistent over a large geographical area, at least from Western and Northern Europe to Central Asia [15], during the past millennia. This suggests that the intensity variation curve is strongly dominated by the lower-degree (dipolar?) geomagnetic terms. Several sedimentary and archeomagnetic records also show strong and sudden departures from axial dipolar directions around the 8th century BC, called the "Sterno-Etrussia" geomagnetic excursion by Raspopov et al. [29] (see also [30]), at the time of our older detected archeomagnetic jerk [1].

The fact that the same magnetic signature is observed for all archeomagnetic jerks detected so far in Western Europe pleads in favour of a common cause. If archeomagnetic jerks are global features, they may correspond to short periods of strong equatorial dipole field moment (i.e. of strongly inclined dipole) that would have been repeatedly directed, at least during the past three millennia, toward the Western Eurasian hemisphere. If not global, they may be caused by a sporadic (high-field) non-dipole structure located in the core below the Western European region. The axial dipolar nature of the geomagnetic field likely contributes to a persistent global geometry of magnetospheric and ionospheric currents produced by the interactions between solar activity, galactic cosmic ray flux and the geomagnetic field which protects Earth from charged particles. The flux of these particles breaking through the magnetic shield and penetrating the atmosphere may play an important role in the Earth's atmospheric dynamics, such as variations in cloud and aerosol production and cloudiness radiative properties which control the Earth's radiation budget, and consequently on climate (e.g. [9], [10], [31], [32] and [33]).

A first hypothesis would be that the smaller the geomagnetic dipole moment, the larger the flux of particles penetrating the atmosphere and the cloud production, resulting in cooler conditions. Dergachev et al. [10] have proposed to associate in this way the Netherlands cooling event with a significant decrease in geomagnetic field intensity. However archeomagnetic data fail to reveal an intensity minimum during the first three to four centuries of the first millennium BC; in contrast, this period probably exhibited the largest geomagnetic field intensity of the entire Holocene [27].

Another hypothesis is to assume that the incoming charged particles are deflected toward the poles, where the overall low-humidity level due to cold temperatures limits cloud formation. If archeomagnetic jerks indeed correspond to periods of strongly inclined dipole, then the charged particles would interact with more humid air from lower-latitude environments, leading to significantly larger cloud production and cooling [10]. Although tentative, this mechanism might be more efficient than the one induced by the variations of the axial dipole moment, which otherwise may contribute to longer-term (millennial-scale) climatic variations [9]; the data from Fig. 2 do not support a simple relationship between geomagnetic field strength (again assuming that the archeointensity record from Western Europe does reflect global, dipolar variations) and centennial climate change.

Note that if archeomagnetic jerks are due to sporadic strong non-dipole anomalies, their climatic impact might be more regional. Additional well-dated archeomagnetic data are clearly needed to substantiate whether most centennial climate variations observed during the past millennia have been driven by the secular variation of the geomagnetic field. It would be particularly fascinating to imagine that the history of human civilisations, which strongly depended on climatic fluctuations, could have been influenced by the geomagnetic field generated in the deep Earth. We therefore think that the following hypotheses merit further consideration and testing: i) Centennial climatic changes could be triggered by enhanced secular variation, in particular by archeomagnetic jerks. As a consequence, the role of solar forcing in explaining these climatic variations should be reconsidered; ii) The geomagnetic field could have a smaller axial dipole component during archeomagnetic jerks, which could be responsible for centennial climate change.


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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005


Environmental groups have been angered by a decision by the European Commission to shelve its long-term environmental strategy because of concerns that it would constrict Europe’s economy and destroy too many jobs. In an unprecedented change of direction in EU policy, José Manuel Barroso, the President of the Commission, ordered the suspension of the air-pollution strategy after he saw an assessment that showed that although it would help to prevent 350,000 premature deaths annually, it would cost businesses and consumers nearly €15 billion (£10 billion) a year. After a fractious meeting between pro-environmentalist and pro-business commissioners, Senhor Barroso ordered a review of six other strategies due out shortly, on water quality, waste, soil, natural resources, pesticides and the urban environment. The strategies, which have taken years to prepare, propose detailed environmental policies that would have entailed a series of new regulations.

“There has to be a balance between the benefits for the environment and the overall costs,” Françoise Le Bail, his spokeswoman, said, adding that the problems were not the reports’ “objectives, but more the way they are implemented”.

Senhor Barroso, an economic liberal, had previously made clear that he thought the European Union was already doing well on protecting the environment and needed instead to pay more attention to boosting its economy. The shelving of the environment strategies marks a triumph for the British Government, which has called on the Commission to stop producing regulations that damage businesses. An impact assessment had suggested that the air- pollution strategy alone would cost between €5.9 billion and €14.9 billion a year from 2020.

Senhor Barroso was supported by Günter Verheugen, the Industry Commissioner, and Charlie McCreevy, the Internal Market Commissioner; Peter Mandelson, the Trade Commissioner, is thought to be sympathetic. One Commission official said: “The more you curb pollution, the greater the costs and the less the benefits. This has to be seen in the context of the Commission programme to relaunch the economy.”

It is a humiliating defeat for Stavros Dimas, the Environment Commissioner, who, hours before Senhor Barroso had shelved the strategies, said that they were ready to be announced. One of his officials said: “We are disappointed. But we have support from a number of commissioners.” Campaigners fear that the environment is being sacrificed as the Commission responds to growing political tension over the EU’s 20 million jobless total [I wonder why?]. Tony Long, director of European policy at the World Wide Fund for Nature, said: “It’s very worrying. The political signal is that the environment is not a priority for this Commission. It’s as though everything that smacks of green policy is bad.” The WWF, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace issued a joint letter advising the Commission not to cave in to “powerful business lobby interests”.

Senhor Barroso ordered an “orientation debate” for the Commission to agree the direction of environmental policy. Mme Le Bail said: “The Commission had not discussed the environment. It is a subject on which the President wants to find a consensus.” The Commission said that it had not cancelled its strategies, merely suspended them before the debate.

From The Times

HIV-AIDS should be the top priority

It's more urgent to fight malnutrition and malaria than to tackle climate change, writes Bjorn Lomborg.

In the run-up to the G8 meeting in Scotland, the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has called on the international community to set the right global priorities, which he has unequivocally stated should be Africa and global warming. Blair is right in challenging us to set priorities. But his choice is probably wrong. While we should accept his challenge, we should also get our priorities right.

Political leaders rarely espouse clear priorities, preferring to seem capable of giving everything to everybody. They must work with bureaucracies, which are naturally disinclined to have their efforts prioritised, lest they end up as anything less than No. 1. Whenever we prioritise, we not only say where we should do more (which is good) but also where we should not increase our efforts (which is regarded as cynical).

But not talking about priorities does not make the need to prioritise go away. Instead, the choices only become less clear, less democratic, and less efficient. Refusing to prioritise, dealing mainly with the most publicised problems, is wrong. Imagine doctors at a perpetually overrun hospital refusing to perform triage on casualties, merely attending patients as they arrived and fast-tracking those whose families made the most fuss. Refusing to prioritise is unjust, wastes resources and costs lives.

So what should be our top global priorities? This question was addressed in a groundbreaking project involving a long list of the world's top economists at the Copenhagen Consensus last year. A dream team of eight economists, including three Nobel Laureates, confronted the basic question: if the world had an extra $US50 billion ($66 billion) to do good, where could that money best be spent? The top priority turned out to be HIV-AIDS prevention. A comprehensive program would cost $US27 billion, but the potential social benefits would be immense: avoidance of more than 28 million new cases by 2010. This makes it the best investment the world could make, reaping social benefits that outweigh the costs by 40 to 1.

Similarly, providing micronutrients missing from more than half the world's diet would reduce diseases caused by deficiencies of iron, zinc, iodine and vitamin A with an exceptionally high ratio of benefits to cost. If we could only find the political will, establishing free trade could be achieved at a very low cost, with benefits of up to $US2.4 trillion a year. Fighting malaria pays off at least five times the costs. Mosquito nets and effective medication could halve the incidence of malaria and would cost $US13 billion.

The list goes on to focus on agricultural technologies to tackle food production and hunger, as well as technologies to boost the supply of clean drinking water and improve sanitation. Given these problems are most acute in Africa, Blair's priorities have some merit.

But the Copenhagen Consensus showed us not only what we should be doing, but also what should not be done - at least not right now. The experts rated responses to climate change extremely low on the to-do list. In fact, the panel called these ventures - including the Kyoto Protocol - bad projects because they cost more than the good they do.

This does not mean that we should ignore climate change. Global warming is real. But the Kyoto rules will make an almost imperceptible difference (postponing temperature increases from 2100 to 2106) at a substantial cost (about $US150 billion a year). Given scarce resources, we must ask ourselves: do we want to do a lot of good now, or a little good much later?

Far from suggesting a policy of laissez faire, this question addresses the pressing problem of prioritisation head on. Why did thousands die in Haiti during the recent hurricanes and not in Florida? Because Haitians are poor. They cannot take preventive measures. Breaking the cycle of poverty by addressing the most pressing issues of disease, hunger, and polluted water will not only do obvious good, but also make people less vulnerable.

The G8 meeting has put global prioritisation on the agenda. Now is the time to get our priorities right. The urgent problem of the poor majority of this world is not climate change. Their problems are more basic: not dying from easily preventable diseases; not being malnourished from lack of simple micronutrients; not being prevented from exploiting opportunities in the global economy by lack of free trade. We can prevent HIV by handing out condoms and improving health education. We can prevent millions from dying from malnutrition simply by distributing vitamin supplements. These are not space-age technologies, but staple goods that the world needs. Doing the best things first would be a great investment in the planet's future. If we are serious about solving the world's most serious challenges, we owe it to ourselves to set the right priorities.



San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is on board. So is Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown. And the mayors of Seattle, London, Taipei, Delhi, Melbourne and Moscow. But a list of 53 cities whose mayors have endorsed a high-profile set of 21 goals to improve the environment in their cities won't include the capital of Silicon Valley. San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales has said he will not sign the agreement because, while laudable, some of the goals are not achievable.

Unveiled June 5 in San Francisco at the United Nations World Environment Day, the list, known as the United Nations Urban Environmental Accords, includes goals for protecting groundwater, expanding parks, reducing garbage and cutting emissions of greenhouse gases. ``Ron believes that when you sign up to do something, the goals should be reachable and doable,'' said David Vossbrink, a spokesman for Gonzales. ``Otherwise you breed false expectations and disappointment. Let's focus on those things we can do.''

The decision isn't sitting well with environmentalists, and some leaders in business and government. They say San Jose risks losing out on an opportunity to showcase substantial environmental gains already made, and to set an example for other cities around the world. ``Not achievable? That sounds like a very bureaucratic excuse for not joining with other world leaders to make an important stand,'' said Ted Smith, founder of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition.....

Vossbrink said a staff member for San Jose's Environmental Services Department reviewed the U.N. accords. The city already is doing at least eight of the goals, Vossbrink said, including encouraging ``green building'' standards, promoting high-density growth and taking steps to protect its drinking water. But other items are not realistic, he said. He cited one goal urging cities to provide a park within half a kilometer -- or about a quarter-mile -- of every resident by 2015. ``We'd have to raze large numbers of buildings,'' he said.

Other goals that Vossbrink said are not achievable for San Jose include reducing waste going to landfills to zero by 2040, or offering menus with 20 percent organic food at city-run cafeterias and snack bars in seven years, he said....

The San Jose City Council still may take the issue up this summer. ``I'm disappointed that he feels this isn't something the city should be on record as supporting,'' said San Jose Councilwoman Linda LeZotte, who spoke at the U.N. event. Already, San Jose has one of the cleanest wastewater treatment systems in California. Its recycling rates are higher than nearly every U.S. city's. It is the largest American city with an urban growth boundary protecting open space. ``We're the 10th-largest American city,'' said Lezotte. ``We're an environmental leader. This list is a goal. You sign on and start achieving things. You lead by example.''

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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005


Fred Singer notes:

"We are learning that the much-hyped "consensus" of the G-8 (plus 3) Science Academies is not solid. In a Letter to The Scientist (SFS/7/1/2005) I pointed out that the press release from the Royal Society (London) gives the impression of unanimity about need for action to stem global warming. But on July 1 a group of Russian academicians with climate expertise called on the president of the Russian Academy of Science to withdraw his unauthorized signature from a Climate Statement that had been initiated by the Royal Society. [RIA Novosti, 1 July 2005. ] According to this report (Item #1)

"Russian scientists said they still considered the Kyoto protocol was scientifically ungrounded and would be an ineffective way to try to achieve the aim of the UN convention on climate change."

The "Joint Science Academies Statement" had been engineered by Lord Robert May, president of the Royal Society. He tried this maneuver a couple of years ago, but then the US-National Academy of Sciences did not go along. I don't know why NAS president Bruce Albert went along with it this time, but his term just expired on June 30. We do have e-mail from him in which he states:

"But we definitely did not approve the Royal Society press release, and I have sent a letter to Bob May expressing my dismay at his misleading and political statements there.""

Benny Peiser comments:

"It's quite a feat for Lord May to antagonise both the Russian and the U.S. National Academies of Sciences. I'm afraid this is the prize he is paying for dabbling in political tomfoolery. The repute of the Royal Society and its integrity has suffered accordingly, while the political crusade orchestrated by climate alarmists will simply fall on deaf ears at the G8 summit. It would appear that all the apocalyptic shouting and screaming has come to nothing. I don't want to brag .... but it wasn't that difficult to predict this was going to happen".


If you have small kids, you may have heard dire warnings about the perils of childhood vaccinations. The clamor has been driven lately primarily by an article from Natural Resources Defense Council (inventors of the Alar scare) attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. A new book called Evidence of Harm, Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic makes similar hysterical claims. Ignore them. The life you save may be your child's - or somebody else's.

Some of these fearmongers mean well but are woefully ignorant. Others are so obsessed with bringing others into the conspiracy-theory fold that they will say and do anything. For example, they claim childhood vaccines cause the neuro-developmental disorder autism because they contain a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal. Never mind that production of childhood vaccines with thimerosal ended several years ago, or that the fearmongers are also rabidly against the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, which NEVER contained thimerosal.

The only relationship they can really draw between these vaccines and autism is that the disorder appears by age four and the shots are given before then - the hoary old fallacy of "after this, therefore because of this." But every actual argument they make, however sensible it may first seem, crumbles like a vampire exposed to sunlight. Here's what the vaccine fearmongers and the over 150 Web sites they operate won't tell you.

The most comprehensive review of the medical literature appeared last year in a 214-page report from the Institute of Medicine concluding "The evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism." The European Medicines Agency and the World Health Organization have also given thimerosal a clean bill of health. The most recent review of the published work appeared in the September 2004 issue of Pediatrics. It concluded "Studies do not demonstrate a link between thimerosal-containing vaccines and Autistic Spectrum Disorders." It also said the way and speed in which the body absorbs and disposes of ethyl mercury [that which comes from thimerosal] "make such an association less likely." It rejected epidemiological studies from the father-son team of Mark and David Geier "that support a link" to autism, citing "significant design flaws that invalidate their conclusions." Some major foreign studies have even shown autism rates climbing AFTER thimerosal use ended.

The IOM review also dismissed the findings of the Geiers, darlings of the conspiracy theorists who make their living as expert witnesses and consultants for lawyers filing claims under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Pumping out studies alleging the dangers of thimerosal keeps them in business. Other health professionals (and often federal courts) have also harshly dismissed their work, with the American Academy of Pediatrics condemning them for "numerous conceptual and scientific flaws, omissions of fact, inaccuracies, and misstatements."

The conspiracy theorists stop at nothing. Thus in his June 21 appearance on MSNBC's Scarborough Country, Kennedy told Joe Scarborough, "We are injecting our children with 400 times the amount of mercury that FDA or EPA considers safe." He thereby confused the ETHYL mercury from thimerosal and for which there is no evidence of harm and no EPA standard with a different chemical, "METHYL mercury. Worse, he ignored the correction to his piece appended five days earlier by the publications that co-published it, Rolling Stone and "The article also misstated the level of" mercury infants received, it stated. It was "40 percent [or 0.4 times], not 187 times, greater than the EPA's limit for daily exposure to methyl mercury." Thus having been caught overstating exposure by almost 500 times he then doubled even that for Scarborough!

The real conspirators here are the Kennedys of the world, the 150 websites, and all those desperate to kill off childhood vaccinations. Sadly, they're also killing off kids. As more frightened parents refuse to have their children vaccinated, "`hot spots' are cropping up across the U.S.," observed a recent article in the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, such that "outbreaks of measles, whooping cough, mumps, rubella and diphtheria are reoccurring, costing hundreds of lives and hospitalizing thousands more."



Recently, a World Wildlife Fund press release was picked up by Reuters. "Himalayan glaciers are among the fastest-retreating glaciers globally due to the effects of global warming," the advocacy group announced.... WWF is especially interested in the Gangotri glacier, in the Indian Himalayas. The glacier is retreating an average 75 feet yearly.

Glaciers are in steady state when the annual snowfall and summer melting rate are roughly in balance. Actually, this is rare. When glaciers melt too much in the summer, they retreat. And if it snows more in the winter than normal, they advance.... High-altitude glaciers melt during the summer. The IPCC has June-August temperatures for the Gangotri region back 1875. The net decline in temperature over the last 130 years is striking. In fact, at 1.2 degrees (C), it is one of the largest summer coolings on Earth. That's right: cooling. In contrast, the temperature for the Northern Hemisphere as a whole increased 0.8 degrees during the same period.

Still, no one doubts the Gangotri glacier is receding. It was expanded far beyond where it is today when the cooling was first noted more than a century ago. Temperatures reached their low in 1990 and have popped up a bit, to the long-term average for the last 130 years. Perhaps this has something to do with Gangotri's recent more rapid retreat. But that it has been in such a decline as overall century-scale temperatures have cooled tells us much about the long-term fate of glaciers away from polar regions: They are relics of the Ice Age, destined to melt.

Another place with an ice history that resembles Gangotri is our own Glacier National Park in Montana. There were 147 glaciers in the park 150 years ago, near the start of the Gangotri temperature record. Today there are only 37. What happened to summer temperatures? Unlike Gangotri, they didn't cool. But temperatures remained fairly constant, with no significant warming since records began in 1895.

Most scientists think the mid-19th century marks the end of a multicentury period known as the "Little Ice Age," though a small but vocal core of skeptics maintain a view known as the "Hockey Stick" history - one in which temperatures do not change for nearly a millennium and then shoot up in the last 100 years, producing a graph that indeed resembles a hockey stick. This view has been pretty much marginalized in a number of papers in scientific literature over the last year. Indeed, glaciers went into retreat at the end of this cold period. Gangotri is even more tenuous, receding even as local temperatures continued declining.

Incidentally, the Northern Hemisphere's largest ice mass - the Greenland icecap - is in retreat in the southern part of the island, where temperatures also show a substantial net cooling for the last 75 years. All this leads to an obvious conclusion. Southern Greenland, Glacier National Park and the Himalayan glaciers are on their way out, with little or no nudging needed from people. They're relics of the Big Ice Age that ended 11,000 years ago. It's too bad, though, that in the fight to hype global warming, the truth is also rapidly becoming another relic.

The above author makes reasonable points but ice mass is most influenced by precipitation (the amount of snow that falls) where temperatures are low so a graph of precipitation would probably reveal a drop in precipitation as the main causative factor

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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005


The world is going corn-crazy and maize-mad . . . again. Five years ago, there was near-hysteria over "contamination" of yellow corn and products made from it-chips, tortillas, taco shells and the like-with tiny amounts of a gene-spliced variety called StarLink. Federal regulators, who had approved the variety for livestock, but not human consumption, initiated a massive recall of more than 300 perfectly safe corn products, costing StarLink's producer more than $100 million and disrupting U.S. corn exports.

History is repeating itself. In March, it was reported that between 2001 and 2004 the Swiss agribusiness company Syngenta had inadvertently mislabeled and sold to American farmers small amounts of an unapproved corn variety called Bt10, as Bt11, an approved variety. The European Union and Japan are demanding that corn imported from the United States be tested and found to be free of Bt10.

However, except when sophisticated genetic tests are employed, Bt10 is indistinguishable from another government-approved and widely planted, insect-resistant variety, Bt11; the two differ only by the presence of an antibiotic-resistance gene and by a handful of nucleotides (the building blocks of DNA) in an inert region of the newly introduced gene that confers resistance to an insect called the corn borer-far less than the differences between various commercial varieties of corn. Moreover, both StarLink and Bt10 are actually far less likely than thousands of other products on the market to cause allergic or other health problems.

Predictably, anti-biotech groups have made a meal of this mishap, blaming both Syngenta and inadequate government regulation. As usual, they've missed the point. Syngenta is certainly culpable for having sold a variety that had not yet been approved-and the company deserves to be sanctioned-but the fundamental problem with both StarLink and Bt10 lies not with the industry or its products but with the Enivronmental Protection Agency's wrong-headed regulatory policies toward gene-spliced plants. The furor over such inconsequential incidents amounts to a monumental-and terribly costly-hoax.

Why costly? Even after it was obvious that StarLink posed no harm to consumers, EPA failed to establish tolerance levels for its presence in food-which, in turn, required FDA to recall harmless but technically "adulterated" foods that contained minuscule amounts of StarLink, subjecting the producer to legal liability. Although this situation was of no more concern than the presence of tiny amounts of non-iodized salt in boxes of the iodized variety, a class-action lawsuit alleging that consumers ate food unfit for human consumption resulted in a settlement against Aventis, StarLink's producer. In other words, the distribution of crops not approved for human consumption presents the risk of legal liability even if no consumer has suffered any toxic, allergic, or other health-related harm. What ever happened to the concept of "no harm, no foul?"

These kinds of kerfuffles are the inevitable result of regulations that treat gene-spliced products as though they pose some inherent, systematic, unique risks, when it is clear that they do not. Gene-splicing is an extension, or refinement, of less precise and predictable techniques for genetically improved products with which consumers and government regulators have long familiarity and comfort.

Gene-spliced food and other products are actually safer than those made with less precise techniques, but EPA holds gene-spliced foods to a higher standard than other similar foods. For gene-spliced crop and garden plants such as corn, wheat and tomatoes that have been genetically improved for enhanced pest- or disease-resistance, regulators require hugely expensive testing that actually exceeds what is required for toxic chemical pesticides. This policy fails to recognize that there are important differences between spraying synthetic, toxic chemicals, and genetic approaches to enhancing plants' natural pest and disease resistance.

EPA's policy is so damaging and outside scientific norms that it galvanized the scientific community. A consortium of dozens of scientific societies representing more than 180,000 biologists and food professionals published a report almost a decade ago warning that unscientific regulatory policy would discourage the development of new pest-resistant crops and prolong and increase the use of synthetic chemical pesticides, increase the regulatory burden for developers of pest-resistant crops, limit the use of biotechnology to larger developers who can pay the inflated regulatory costs, and handicap American companies competing in international markets. All of these misfortunes have come to pass.

Scientists worldwide agree that adding genes to plants does not make them less safe either to the environment or for humans to eat. Even so, activists and regulators have leveled their sights on gene-splicing, which is more precise, circumscribed and predictable than other techniques and can better exploit the subtleties of plant pathology. For example, both StarLink and Syngenta's Bt10 varieties were made by splicing into corn a bacterial gene that produces a protein toxic to corn borer insects, but not to people or other mammals. The gene-spliced corn not only repels pests, but when harvested is less likely to contain Fusarium, a toxic fungus often carried into plants by insects. That, in turn, significantly reduces the levels of the fungal toxin fumonisin, which is known to cause fatal diseases in horses and swine that eat infected corn, and esophageal cancer in humans. Thus, gene-spliced, insect-resistant corn is not only cheaper to produce but is a potential boon to public health; and, by reducing the need for spraying chemical pesticides on crops, it is environmentally friendly.

Policy makers have ignored a fundamental rule of regulation: that the degree of scrutiny of a product or activity should be commensurate with the risk. Instead, for agricultural research and development the degree of oversight of gene-splicing is inversely proportional to risk, but there is virtually no impetus from any quarter for rationalizing this deplorable status quo.

Flawed regulatory policy ensures that StarLink- and Bt10-like debacles will continue to occur. American farmers, companies and consumers will all reap what government regulators have sown



On 28th. last, I mentioned a conclusion by some Scottish scientists that said that Antarctic would get more icy while the Arctic warmed up. It now seems that a group of U.S. scientists have arrived at a similar conclusion. That simplistic old GLOBAL warming theory sure is taking a beating!

Predicted increases in precipitation due to warmer air temperatures from greenhouse gas emissions may actually increase sea ice volume in the Antarctic's Southern Ocean. This finding from a new study adds evidence of potential asymmetry between the two poles and may be an indication that climate change processes may have varying impacts on different areas of the globe. "Most people have heard of climate change and how rising air temperatures are melting glaciers and sea ice in the Arctic," said Dylan C. Powell, lead author of the paper and a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. "However, findings from our simulations suggest a counterintuitive phenomenon. Some of the melt in the Arctic may be balanced by increases in sea ice volume in the Antarctic."

For the first time, the authors of the paper, published this month in the Journal of Geophysical Research (Oceans), used satellite observations from NASA's Special Sensor Microwave/Imager to assess snow depth on sea ice and assimilated the satellite observations into their model to improve prediction of precipitation rates. By incorporating satellite observations into this new method, the researchers say they achieved more stable and realistic precipitation data, to counter the great variability in precipitation data sets typically found in the polar regions. "On any given day, sea ice cover in the oceans of the polar regions is about the size of the U.S.," said Thorsten Markus, a co-author of the paper and a research scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "Far-flung locations like the Arctic and Antarctic actually impact our temperature and climate where we live and work on a daily basis."

According to Markus, the deep and bottom water masses of the oceans make contact with the atmosphere only at high latitudes, near the poles. Polar processes, such as sea ice formation, are driving a huge, global, ocean heat pump, called thermohaline (or saline) circulation. To a large extent, this heat pump impacts the climate at lower latitudes. Typically, warming of the climate leads to increased melting rates of sea ice cover and also increased precipitation rates. With increased precipitation rates and consequently deeper snow, the snow load on the Antarctic sea ice becomes heavy enough that it suppresses the ice below sea level. This results in even more and even thicker sea ice when the snow refreezes as more ice.

The paper indicates that some climate processes appear to actually be counterintuitive. "We used computer-generated simulations to get this research result. I hope that in the future we'll be able to verify this result with real data through a long-term ice thickness measurement campaign," said Powell. "Our goal as scientists is to collect hard data to verify what the model is telling us. It will be critical to know for certain whether average sea ice thickness is indeed increasing in the Antarctic as our model indicates, and to determine what environmental factors are spurring this apparent phenomenon."

Achim Stoessel of Texas A&M University, the third co-author on this paper, advises that "while numerical models have improved considerably over the last two decades, seemingly minor processes like the snow-to-ice conversion still need to be better incorporated in models as they can have a significant impact on the results and therefore on climate predictions."

Powell, D. C., T. Markus, and A. Stoessel (2005) Effects of snow depth forcing on Southern Ocean sea ice simulations, J. Geophys. Res., 110, C06001


Post lifed from NumberWatch, 1 July 2005

When a campaigning newspaper carries a red front page banner proclaiming "The truth about...", it is a pretty good bet that you are about to be told some whoppers. When the paper is the Guardian and the subject is Global Warming, betting does not come into it.

The Guardian supplement, coincidentally out just before the G8 summit, is one of the most masterful examples of mendacious propaganda you are likely to come across. There are thirty six pages featuring every technique in the book. There are barely a couple of incontestable paragraphs in the whole production (and they were contributed by Fred Singer).

A fine example of selectivity is the historical account, which seeks to provide a smooth progression from the work of Arrhenius to the modern age when "scarcely a week goes by without a major study of climate change." Unless you were looking for it, you would not notice the lacuna between the 60s and 80s, which was when environmentalists were trying to sell us the new ice age. Of course, according to believers that never happened. Pity about the printed record!

There is a whole page of graphics illustrating unsupportable predictions: Not only are we going to have both drought and floods (as if we had not had them before) but we are supposed to forget that malaria once was endemic, right up to the Arctic Circle (including Britain in the Little Ice Age)

Here is a superbly crafted example of the false comparison:

Water Vapour accounts for 60% of the natural greenhouse effect..Carbon dioxide accounts for 62% of human induced global warming.

The strange world of Moonbat et al. is revealed in all its glory. It has often seemed that George Monbiot lives on a different planet from the rest of us. Here is his view of the media attitude to the Warmers:

they broadcast furious attacks on environmentalism, such as Channel 4's series Against Nature and BBC2's Scare Stories. Most of the newspapers, with an eye on the interests of their proprietors and advertisers, followed their example.

On the back page Oliver James seems to have had a similar experience:

In the case of Anglo-Saxon peoples, for example, we live in a rose-tinted bubble of positive illusions, highly defended from reality.

Somehow that does not seem to accord with the unrelenting gloom and scaremongering that the rest of us experience, a tiny fraction of which has been reported in these pages. Note the way that the word reality is used to represent what is at best pure conjecture.

A clever move was to give Fred Singer the opening piece in a page of personal opinions and follow his sweet reason with no fewer than seven avid pieces from true believers. It made Fred look like a lone eccentric lost in a consensus. It is always notable that so many of the experts, always the first to throw about ad hominem attacks of financial interest, actually owe their living to the faith. Paid acolytes to a religion are unlikely also to be good servants of science. One could go on, but it is almost all there on the web site for your delectation.


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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005


They seem to have lost their mojo. Is it the defeat of their constitutional referendum or the reality that they are not meeting various targets anyway? Or is it Tony Blair's new realism?

Just days after the Commission suggested ambitious EU energy savings plans, national governments scrapped every binding element of a related earlier proposal aimed at increasing energy savings on the retail side. The proposed directive for energy end-use efficiency and energy services was tabled as part of the Commission's energy package in December 2003. It is aimed at increasing savings when energy is sold to end-users - whether private households or the public sector. Energy services covered would range from electricity supply, to fuel heating to the petrol sold at the station. The draft is part of EU initiatives to reduce CO2 emissions under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

Binding targets to increase energy savings when gas, electricity or petrol is sold to customers at retail points were entirely stripped out of a Commission proposal on 28 June as the bill was submitted for approval to national energy ministers from the EU. The vote comes as a serious blow to the Commission just days after it put forward an ambitious energy efficiency proposal that it claimed could save Europe some 20% energy consumption by 2020. Earlier this month, MEPs had backed the proposal and even tightened up the Commission draft by setting higher energy saving targets for both the public sector and for private users. Under the draft voted on by Parliament, energy consumption by private and public end users was to be cut by an overall 11.5% between 2006 and 2015. The Commission had initially proposed a 9% overall cut by 2015 (1% per year on average).

But according to a press statement from the Luxembourg Presidency, the ministers rejected the proposals and replaced them with indicative targets only. In some way though, member states would be "obliged to take measures" to achieve a 6% reduction in energy consumption over a six-year period starting at an undisclosed date. Moreover, ministers also scrapped the Commission's suggestion to set higher targets for the public sector - at 1.5% per year - and replaced it with an assertion that governments ensure the public sector plays an exemplary role in fulfilling the directive's requirements.

A leaked version of the political agreement - seen by EurActiv - states: "Even though Member States commit themselves to make an effort to achieve the target, the national savings target is indicative in nature and entails no legally enforceable obligation for Member States to achieve the target figure of 6%." Luxembourg's Economy Minister Jeannot Krecké, whose country holds down the rotating EU presidency until the end of June, could only partly hide his disappointment: "All of us have commitments in the context of Kyoto and in terms of supply safety and improvements in competitiveness. All of us must make a firm commitment in the same direction."


The latest nonsense from the "modellers": "Fossil records show that around every 26m years, a mass extinction occurs on Earth, wiping out millions of species and leaving only a few hardy survivors. Many scientists have blamed these regular catastrophic culls on meteorite bombardments. But now a paper in Physical Review E suggests that the cause could lie much closer to home. Adam Lipowski, a physicist from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland, has developed a computer model which shows that periodic mass extinctions could be caused by the evolution of a "super-predator". Most of the time, the model is populated by medium efficiency predators, but every so often genetic mutations lead to the evolution of a highly efficient beast. "This super-predator is a fast-consuming species and it quickly decimates the population of preys, which in turn leads to its own decline," he explains. Any creatures that survive this destruction gradually mutate to fill the new ecological niches and the cycle starts afresh. So are humans the latest super-predator? "It is the feeling that we have, but our model is too abstract to say this for sure," says Lipowski".


Still reeling from the Supreme Court decision Kelo v. City of New London, property rights advocates are bracing themselves for another betrayal of private property rights - this time from the GOP-controlled Congress - according to The National Center for Public Policy Research.

In its June 23rd decision, the Court ruled as Justice Sandra Day O'Connor noted in her dissenting opinion that, "Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party... The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations..."

Business interests may again benefit at the expense of small property owners through Endangered Species Act reform, if leaked draft language obtained by The National Center from a journalist is any indication.

One of the purported provisions calls for compensation when ESA regulations diminish the value of a person's property - but only if it is devalued by at least 50 percent.

"There are a lot of folks who have a problem with letting government take 49.9 percent of their property - a civil right - before anybody cares," said David Ridenour, Vice President of The National Center for Public Policy Research. "Those with large landholdings may be able to afford this, but the little guy just can't. If you're a small property owner, I don't know how you can look at this as anything but a betrayal."

It is doubtful that even this modest level of compensation would end up in a final bill. Even if it does, compensation may still be out of reach for many property owners - including those whose property diminishes in value by more than half -- because they simply can't afford the costs of all the bureaucratic hoops they must jump through in order to file a successful claim.

Another purported provision would vastly expand the scope of the ESA to regulate so-called "invasive species." If true, this would represent a major assault on private property rights.

Invasive species are species that have expanded beyond their normal distribution. Under this definition, almost anything could qualify for regulation. Tall fescue, for example, a grass commonly used by homeowners for their lawns, could qualify.

Any regulation of invasive species - never before regulated under the Endangered Species Act - would be a step toward the government telling Americans what they can use for their lawns, what flowers they can have in their flowerbeds and what vegetables they can plant in their gardens.

R.J. Smith, a noted conservation expert, says this will extend the reach of the ESA to draconian lengths, giving almost unlimited power to regulate land, since almost all private and public land in America contains non-native species.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, businesses frequently advocate more regulation, rather than less. Sometimes they do so to gain advantage over their competitors. Sometimes they do so to eliminate uncertainty: If they have clearly defined regulations for which they can calculate costs, they can simply pass on those costs to their customers.

"It's clear why corporate special interests like this provision. It permits them to better calculate their costs of doing business. And once they do so, they can simply build these costs into the price of their products," said David Ridenour. "Those of modest means would be the biggest losers as they have to eat the entire costs themselves."


The Brazilian experiment with ethanol (industrial alcohol) as fuel for cars

Below is an extract from a huge article in Wikipedia that tells you all you never wanted to know about ethanol. The excerpt gives some real-life facts on how gasoline could over time be replaced by ethanol with little disruption and with a number of beneficial side-effects. If the price of crude oil goes much higher and stays there, this could be happening all around the world soon. I have highlighted some of the advantages in red and added a few comments in italics to indicate some ways in which the Brazilian experience is not universal

In Brazil, ethanol is produced from sugar cane which is a more efficient source of fermentable carbohydrates than corn as well as much easier to grow and process. Brazil has the largest sugarcane crop in the world, which, besides ethanol, also yields sugar, electricity, and industrial heating. Sugar cane growing requires little labor, and government tax and pricing policies have made ethanol production a very lucrative business for big farms. As a consequence, over the last 25 years sugarcane has become one of the main crops grown in the country.

Sugarcane is harvested manually or mechanically and shipped to the distillery (usina) in huge specially built trucks. There are several hundred distilleries throughout the country; they are typically owned and run by big farms or farm consortia and located near the producing fields. At the mill the cane is roller-pressed to extract the juice (garapa), leaving behind a fibrous residue (bagasse). The juice is fermented by yeasts which break down the sucrose into CO2 and ethanol. The resulting "wine" is distilled, yielding hydrated ethanol (5% water by volume) and "fusel oil". The acidic residue of the distillation (vinhoto) is neutralized with lime and sold as fertilizer. The hydrated ethanol may be sold as is (for ethanol cars) or be dehydrated and used as a gasoline additive (for gasohol cars). In either case, the bulk product was sold until 1996 at regulated prices to the state oil company (Petrobras). Today it is no longer regulated.

One ton (1,000 kg) of harvested sugarcane, as shipped to the processing plant, contains about 145 kg of dry fiber (bagasse) and 138 kg of sucrose. Of that, 112 kg can be extracted as sugar, leaving 23 kg in low-valued molasses. If the cane is processed for alcohol, all the sucrose is used, yielding 72 liters of ethanol. Burning the bagasse produces heat for distillation and drying, and (through low-pressure boilers and turbines) about 288 MJ of electricity, of which 180 MJ is used by the plant itself and 108 MJ sold to utilities.

The average cost of production, including farming, transportation and distribution, is US$0.63 per US gallon (US$0.17/L); gasoline prices in the world market is about US$ 1.05 per US gallon (US$0.28/L). The alcohol industry, entirely private, was invested heavily in crop improvement and agricultural techniques. As a result, average yearly ethanol yield increased steadily from 300 to 550 m3/kmý between 1978 and 2000, or about 3.5% per year.

Sucrose accounts for little more than 30% of the chemical energy stored in the mature plant; 35% is in the leaves and stem tips, which are left in the fields during harvest, and 35% are in the fibrous material (bagasse) left over from pressing.

Part of the bagasse is currently burned at the mill to provide heat for distillation and electricity to run the machinery. This allows ethanol plants to be energy self-sufficient and even sell surplus electricity to utilities; current production is 600 MW for self-use and 100 MW for sale. This secondary activity is expected to boom now that utilities have been convinced to pay fair price (about US$10/GJ) for 10 year contracts. The energy is especially valuable to utilities because it is produced mainly in the dry season when hydroelectric dams are running low. Estimates of potential power generation from bagasse range from 1,000 to 9,000 MW, depending on technology. Higher estimates assume gasification of biomass, replacement of current low-pressure steam boilers and turbines by high-pressure ones, and use of harvest trash currently left behind in the fields. For comparison, Brazil's Angra I nuclear plant generates 600 MW (and it is often off line).

Presently, it is economically viable to extract about 288 MJ of electricity from the residues of one ton of sugarcane, of which about 180 MJ are used in the plant itself. Thus a medium-size distillery processing 1 million tons of sugarcane per year could sell about 5 MW of surplus electricity. At current prices, it would earn US$ 18 million from sugar and ethanol sales, and about US$ 1 million from surplus electricity sales. With advanced boiler and turbine technology, the electricity yield could be increased to 648 MJ per ton of sugarcane, but current electricity prices do not justify the necessary investment. (According to one report, the World bank would only finance investments in bagasse power generation if the price were at least US$19/GJ.)

Bagasse burning is environmentally friendly compared to other fuels like oil and coal. Its ash content is only 2.5% (against 30-50% of coal), and it contains no sulfur. Since it burns at relatively low temperatures, it produces little nitrous oxides. Moreover, bagasse is being sold for use as a fuel (replacing heavy fuel oil) in various industries, including citrus juice concentrate, vegetable oil, ceramics, and tyre recycling. The state of Sao Paulo alone used 2 million tons, saving about US$ 35 million in fuel oil imports.

Most cars in Brazil run either on alcohol or on gasohol; only recently dual-fuel ("Flex Fuel") engines have become available. Most gas stations sell both fuels. The market share of the two car types has varied a lot over the last decades, in response to fuel price changes. Ethanol-only cars were sold in Brazil in significant numbers between 1980 and 1995; between 1983 and 1988, they accounted for over 90% of the sales. They have been available again since 2001, but still account for only a few percent of the total sales.

Ethanol-fuelled small planes for farm use have been developed by giant Embraer and by a small Brazilian firm (Aero lcool), and are currently undergoing certification.

Domestic demand for alcohol grew between 1982 and 1998 from 11,000 to 33,000 cubic metres per day, and has remained roughly constant since then. In 1989 more than 90% of the production was used by ethanol-only cars; today that has reduced to about 40%, the remaining 60% being used with gasoline in gasohol-only cars. Both the total consumption of ethanol and the ethanol/gasohol ratio are expected to increase again with deployment of dual-fuel cars.

Presently the use of ethanol as fuel by Brazilian cars - as pure ethanol and in gasohol - replaces gasoline at the rate of about 27,000 cubic metres per day, or about 40% of the fuel that would be needed to run the fleet on gasoline alone. However, the effect on the country's oil consumption was much smaller than that. Although Brazil is a major oil producer and now exports gasoline (19,000 m3/day), it still must import oil because of internal demand for other oil byproducts, chiefly diesel fuel (which cannot be easily replaced by ethanol).

The improvement in air quality in big cities in the 1980s, following the widespread use of ethanol as car fuel, was evident to everyone; as was the degradation that followed the partial return to gasoline in the 1990s.

However, the ethanol program also brought a host of environmental and social problems of its own. Sugarcane fields are traditionally burned just before harvest [only in the Third World, not in Australia or anywhere else where mechanical harvesters are used] , in order to remove the leaves and kill snakes. Therefore, in sugarcane-growing parts of the country, the smoke from burning fields turns the sky gray throughout the harvesting season. As winds carry the smoke into nearby towns, air pollution goes critical and respiratory problems soar. Thus, the air pollution which was removed from big cities was merely transferred to the rural areas (and multiplied). This practice has been decreasing of late, due to pressure from the public and health authorities. In Brazil, a recent law has been created in order to ban the burnings of sugarcane fields, and machines will be used to harvest the cane instead of people. This not only solves the problem of pollution from burning fields, but such machines have a higher productivity than people. [Australian cane-farmers use mechanical harvesting almost exclusively now]

The ethanol program also led to widespread replacement of small farms and varied agriculture by vast seas of sugarcane monoculture. This led to a decrease in biodiversity and further shrinkage of the residual native forests (not only from deforestation but also through fires caused by the burning of adjoining fields). The replacement of food crops by the more lucrative sugarcane has also led to a sharp increase in food prices over the last decade. [All agriculture is monoculture. We should be used to that fact by now]

Since sugarcane only requires hand labor at harvest time, this shift also created a large population of destitute migrant workers who can only find temporary employment as cane cutters (at about US$3 to 5 per day) for one or two months every year. This huge social problem has contributed to political unrest and violence in rural areas, which are now plagued by recurrent farm invasions, vandalism, armed confrontations, and assassinations. [Australian cane-farmers use mechanical harvesting almost exclusively so such problems do not arise in developed countries]

I should add to the above that sugar production (and hence ethanol production) could be ramped up very quickly. Most sugar-producing countries are so restrained by EU, U.S. and Japanese import policy that they are producing way below capacity. Australia, for instance, could double its production within a year just by being allowed to. The crushing mills are so under-used these days that a lot have shut up shop. And there is a huge area in Western Australia (the Ord) that is suitable for cane that could be brought into production as soon as mills were built. It takes only one year for a cane crop to go from planting to maturity. So the Greenie scare about running out of oil is nothing like the problem they pretend. If American cars were kept going by tankers of ethanol from Australia rather than tankers of oil from the Middle East, what's the problem? You would have a lot more price stability that way too.


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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005


Wisconsin regulators acted properly in granting permits for a coal-fired power plant outside Milwaukee, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in rejecting a challenge by environmentalists and the state of Illinois.

Environmentalists seeking to stop the $2.15 billion project argued the Public Service Commission did not do a complete review of the Wisconsin Energy proposal and failed to study whether cleaner-burning natural gas was a viable alternative to coal.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan also intervened in the lawsuit, saying Lake Michigan and the states around it would be exposed to toxic mercury emissions and other pollution. Madigan said the coal-burning technology planned for the facility is banned in Illinois. Chicago is 80 miles from the plant. The Supreme Court voted 4-2 to reject those arguments, saying the PSC followed the law when it gave its blessing to the project.

The twin-boiler plant along the Lake Michigan shore at Oak Creek, a Milwaukee suburb, would add enough electricity to power 615,000 homes. It is part of plant operator We Energies' $7 billion, 10-year Power the Future plan. The plant would run 24 hours a day, seven days a week.



Greenpeace also campaigns against the use of agricultural biotechnology, including "Golden Rice," which could help with the severe Vitamin A deficiency that afflicts hundreds of millions in Africa and Asia-including 500,000 children who lose their eyesight each year.

Scientists developed Golden Rice using the gene that makes daffodils yellow. The gene makes the rice rich in beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A.

But as pointed out by Greenpeace co-founder and former President Patrick Moore, now a vociferous critic of the activist group: "Greenpeace activists threaten to rip the biotech rice out of the fields if farmers dare to plant it. They have done everything they can to discredit the scientists and the technology.

"A commercial variety is now available for planting, but it will be at least five years before Golden Rice will be able to work its way through the Byzantine regulatory system that has been set up as a result of the activists' campaign of misinformation and speculation, " Moore said. "So the risk of not allowing farmers in Africa and Asia to grow Golden Rice is that another 2.5 million children will probably go blind."

More here

Radical Green Theology at work

Only superficially Christian

Austin Ruse, President of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, the only Catholic lobbying group at the United Nations in New York, reports that there are a number of troubling groups circling around the UN. One such group is fairly new and as yet little-reported movement called the United Religious Initiative (URI), now active in 58 countries and 33 states in the U.S. It has been described as "an exclusive, decentralized organization, a spiritual partner of the United Nations." URI positions support population control, environmental extremism, and are radical on sexual matters. A new document signed by URI's President Reverend Charles Gibbs called The Religious Declaration in Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing, opposes "unsustainable" population growth and supports homosexual marriage, artificial contraception and abortion. There is a heavy emphasis on New Age ideology in the URI, and many of its strongest proponents are New Age writers and thinkers such as former UN official Robert Muller and writer Neal Donald Walsh. URI and its supporters consider the presence of "fundamentalists" as a major stumbling block. Muller says the UN should lead "vigorous actions" against "religious fundamentalism." The Vatican promotes religious ecumenism but disapproves of URI. "Religious syncretism is a theological error. That is why the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue does not approve of the United Religions Initiative and does not work with it." [Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, Friday Fax, July 21, 2000]

Other evidence of strange alliances is the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE), composed of several large religious bodies: the National Council of Churches, the U.S. Catholic Conference, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, and the Evangelical Environmental Network. In May of last year, the NRPE announced a ten-year $16 million initiative designed to "assure that the next generation of religious leaders in America advance care for God's creation as a central priority for organized religion." Planners encourage church sermons that condemn the use of fossil fuels. Clergy are being instructed to tell the members of their congregations that they have a moral obligation to support the policies advanced by the environmental movement. It is suggested that affluence is like influenza - a disease ("affluenza"). ["Saving Faith From The Environmentalists, Acton Institute," Eco-Logic, Spring 2000] Although not a full partner, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is identified in a special consultative relationship, and the NRPE has established an office in the UCS headquarters. The NRPE has mailed "education and action kits" to thousands of religious congregations.

The education kits contain resources on environmental issues that have been distributed to thousands of churches, including every Catholic parish in the U.S. Each kit contains a reader entitled "And God Saw That It Was Good" produced by the NRPE/USCC, and a video entitled Renewing The Face Of The Earth, produced by the Union of Concerned Scientists. The video contains images that are manipulative: animals are depicted as cute or majestic, the scenery is beautiful and contrasted to pictures of human overcrowding, pollution, bulldozing, etc. The video also espouses a revisionist Scripture - Noah's flood is retold in such a way that the flood is not a punishment of God for sin, but an environmental issue concerning "preservation of the species"; a passage in Genesis is translated as "Adam was asked to serve the garden." Resource Kit #1 appears to provide a confession of environmental sins: "How many species must we abuse and extinguish. . . for our sins and failings, O God, we ask forgiveness."

Resource Kit #2 includes two disturbing articles: the first one, "Environmental Hazards and Children - Born and Unborn," attempts to draw on the moral outrage against abortion and apply it to pollution. The second article, "Naysayers and Doomsayers," asserts that truth is determined by consensus and strongly politicizes science.

Resource Kit #3 suggests a "Call to Solidarity and Global Environmental Stewardship". . . "the church has as one of its primary functions the educative role of helping believers and other people of good will form their consciences so that they can see environmental issues as having a moral content." [Commentary on the U.S. Catholic Conference, "The Environment" by Stephanie Block, Wanderer Forum Foundation, Winter 2000]

The National Religious Partnership for the Environment is highly organized. The education and action kits are prepared for each denomination; sermons and Sunday school materials are written to fit into the individual church and orthodoxy; religious leaders from churches across the country are brought into training seminars; summit meetings are held; environmental curriculum has been prepared. They are covering all the bases to force the Partnership's ideology into all aspects of Christian/Jewish thought and action. Most of the pastors, priests and rabbis who respond to the NRPE probably believe they are taking responsible action to help protect the environment, but NRPE materials and goals do not accurately represent the relationship between mankind, nature and God, and present highly controversial perspectives as scientific "facts." Therefore, it seems imprudent for these large religious bodies to collaborate with the NRPE. Forcing environmental issues into a spiritual package requires churches to scrutinize the information for doctrinal validity. [Commentary on the USCC, Stephanie Block, WFF]

Paul Gorman, Executive Director of the NRPE, says, "How people of faith engage the environmental crisis will have much to do with the future well-being of the planet, and, in all likelihood, with the future of religious life as well." [Insider's Report, "Radical Greens" by Tom DeWeese, published by American Policy Center, October 1998, Vol. 5] Gorman's church, New York City's Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine, is the secretarial office of the NRPE - the home of the Temple of Understanding and the Gaia Institute, an earth-worshipping pagan "religion" called Gaia. The main objective is the transformation of social order into a global society organized around the notion that the earth itself is the giver of life, and that all of the world's religions are evolving into a state of enlightenment, which recognizes Gaia as the true source of life and spirituality

Earth Day is becoming an almost-holy day with the Green Theologists. Samantha Smith, the reliable author of The Trojan Horse and Goddess Earth, attended an Earth Day celebration in April 1995 sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas and the Stewardship Office of the Episcopal Church, and offered these observations:

"A North American Indian prayed to God, then prayed to the Grandfather Spirit and to spirits of the Four Directions to bless the earth and oversee the Conference;

"California Senator Tom Hayden offered an Earth Day prayer, claiming the earth was speaking through him. Celebrate that ancient spirits are born again in us, spirits of eagle vision, of coyote craft, of bear stewardship, of buffalo wisdom, of ancient goddesses, of druids. . .

"An entertainer explained that he had gone into a forest and taped exchanges of howls between his saxophone and a wolf. With his sax he demonstrated the sound, then asked the audience to join him in a 'Howl-le-lu-ia Chorus.' Nearly 200 people howled back, expressing their oneness with the wolf." [Samantha Smith, "The Pagan Howl-le-lu-ia Chorus," The Eagle Forum, Winter 1995, Vol. 15]

These are the people who are helping to create the material delivered to thousands of churches in America.

Another controversial figure is Reverend Thomas Berry, a Catholic priest, friend and mentor of the discredited Matthew Fox, and a devotee of evolutionist Teilhard de Chardin. He is the author of The Universe Story, which explores a "natural theology" of and Dream of the Earth in which he never uses the word "God" but instead refers to a supernatural force in the universe. The Florida Catholic describes Berry as "perhaps the leading figure in the movement to preserve the environment." The newspaper's February 14, 1992 issue quotes Berry: "We must rethink our ideas about God, we should place less emphasis on Christ as a person and redeemer. We should put the Bible away for twenty years while we radically rethink our religious ideas." Berry contends that Christianity promotes "deep cultural pathology of human greed and addiction." He claims the earth is disintegrating and that Christianity is mostly to blame. He believes that we are entering an era of "earth consciousness" and he boasts of a new era he calls the "Ecozoic Age" that will transcend God. Berry contends that, "the world is being called to a new post-denominational, even post-Christian belief system that sees the earth as a living being - mythologically as Gaia, Mother Earth - with mankind as her consciousness."

Also involved in the Temple of Understanding, which is an official UN non-governmental organization (NGO), is Maurice Strong, Secretary-General of the 1993 UN Earth Summit, and number two man at the United Nations. Strong owns a ranch, called the "Baca Grande" in Colorado where he built a Babylonian sun-god temple. The ranch is a hotbed of a variety of New Age religious activities and has become a mecca for mystics. Strong is also a prime mover in the World Peace Summit, which has its roots in the World Parliament of Religions.

Strong is also active in the controversial Earth Charter, a project of Communist leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Steven Rockefeller, which proponents have dubbed "a new Ten Commandments." Henry Lamb, editor of Eco-Logic magazine, states that instead of protecting the earth for future generations, the Earth Charter protects resources from human use. Phyllis Schlafly, President of Eagle Forum, calls it a charter for submission to global dictators possessing unprecedented powers. Among the Charter's demands are: United Nations management of water, soil, forest products and marine life; universal access to health care that fosters reproductive health; efficiency and restraint when using energy; eradication of poverty; equitable distribution of wealth within and among nations; gender equality and elimination of discrimination in sexual orientation; and demilitarization of national security systems. (See the September 2000 Mindszenty Report.)

More here

Coburn to the rescue!: "Much has already been said about Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R., Tenn.), a heart surgeon, and his credibility when battling trial lawyers. But there's another medical doctor, freshman Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.), who will also play a significant role in the coming debate on asbestos-litigation reform. Aggressive trial lawyers continue to cash in on asbestos lawsuits, bankrupting American businesses and siphoning off hundreds of millions of dollars that would be better used to compensate victims of asbestos-related illness. It's a classic case of the legal system serving lawyers first and real victims last. Congress needs to fix the problem."


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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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 July 2005


Dairies cause more smog than cars, according to the San Joaquin Valley air district. Recent science shows milk cows produce at least 60 percent more smog-forming chemicals than previous estimates, which were based on aging studies, valley air officials say. And that's "likely to be an underestimate," said Rick McVaigh, director of permit services for the air district, which released a draft pollution-per-cow estimate Monday.

Dairy industry representatives are outraged that the district would rely on incomplete and irrelevant science, they say. "It's unbelievable what they've come up with," said Michael Boccadoro, spokesman for a dairy lobbying group known as Community Alliance for Responsible Environmental Stewardship. "It's a joke."

That the air district hasn't calculated exactly how many tons of pollution dairies produce didn't stop it from announcing that milk cows are once again the valley's largest source of smog-forming gases. State regulators had moved milk cows from first to sixth place last month -- behind trucks, cars, oil and gas production, pesticides and consumer products -- when it recalculated 1930s data. But stakeholders now have a new generation of data to haggle over. Some admire the district's chutzpah, and others criticize its estimate as inflated by foreign studies completed under circumstances far different from those at California dairies. "It's critical they get the number right (or we'll be) chasing emissions that don't exist," said Boccadoro. "(The district) has managed to mess it up." Last week the state air board declared emissions data from dairies incomplete, prompting it to regulate dairies by size rather than total emissions. That was prudent, he said, this was not.

But others say the district is right to be protective, and to look outside California for answers if it must. "I think (the district's number) reflects additional research of the literature," said Bakersfield resident Bill Descary, who sat on a panel advising the district on dairy emissions. "We don't want dairies to invest in equipment that's not needed, (but) if it is needed, it's critical." That panel, which included dairy people and environmentalists, couldn't agree on the science. The district's announcement broke their tie. Last week's state air board action dealt with existing dairies, establishing which ones will have to upgrade their facilities to cut pollution. The district's latest announcement mostly affects new dairies, which will likely have to change the way they handle manure and possibly cover lagoons, among other precautions, district officials say.



The New York Times gave huge coverage to what one doctor called "voodoo science" by helping further the cause of anti-mercury activists. The Times' June 25, 2005 edition devoted one-fourth of its front page and a full page inside to widely criticized claims that there is a link between autism and mercury.

The article is the result of the anti-mercury crusade that also led to a recent ABC report. The Times article titled "On Autism's Cause, It's Parents vs. Research" focused on a group, Safe Minds, which asserts that a mercury-containing preservative called thimerosal may increase the likelihood of autism in children, despite numerous scientific studies that found no such link.

Both autism stories focused on the widely discredited claims of anti-mercury extremists while admitting that such beliefs were unsubstantiated. Both ABC and the Times reported the link between thimerosal and autism as a "debate" even though numerous studies have found no such link. The two Times reporters who authored the story, Gardiner Harris and Anahad O'Connor, said "But the debate over autism and vaccines is not likely to end soon."

In fact, of the six studies the Times cited only one asserted that there was a link between thimerosal and autism. This study, however, was widely disregarded due to methodology. One doctor quoted in the story even called it "voodoo science," while others said it was "uninterpretable."

Also, in line with ABC story, the Times included Robert Kennedy, Jr.'s position using an excerpt from an article he wrote in "Rolling Stone" magazine where he accused public health official of conspiring with drug makers to hide the dangerous of effects of thimerosal. However, the Times made no mention of Kennedy being an environmental activist and lawyer, not a doctor or scientist.

Kennedy is president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, which, as was reported in "ABC's Mercury Straw Man," is an environmental group that started an anti-mercury campaign to combat what it sees as a risk posed by mercury in waterways. Neither ABC nor the Times mentioned that Kennedy has also worked as the senior attorney for the left-wing Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a radical environmental group that also has an ongoing campaign against mercury in waterways and vaccines.

Neither the Times, nor ABC bothered to report the full story about the mercury complaint. This is just the latest round of attacks on carbon-based energy companies, in this case, coal plants. According to an NRDC press release from Oct. 7, 2004, that called for administration support for a global treaty limiting mercury use: "There are alternatives for most all mercury uses," said Michael Bender of the Mercury Policy Project and a representative of the Ban Mercury Working Group, a global coalition of 28 organizations. The release went on to claim that "The biggest sources of mercury in the United States include coal-fired power plants."

Even the Web site for the Waterkeeper Alliance made the same claim, but neither news organization bothered to report it. According to the site: "Complaint links power plant emissions with widespread mercury contamination." The release claimed that the group "has formally requested a response from the US government to allegations that its failure to enforce provisions of the US Clean Water Act against coal-fired power plants violates international agreements."



Not being satisified with posting to seven daily blogs of my own, I also post regularly to Majority Rights -- a group blog that is heavily infested by antisemites. I am a sort of "token nigger" there. I regularly contradict everything the antisemites say. But they are nonetheless tolerant enough to put up with me for all that. Tolerant antisemites? The world is stranger than you can imagine, as some physicist once said. But having one bee in your bonnet is not always enough, it seems. Some of the other posters there have got their knickers in a knot about the "peak oil" theory (i.e. oil will run out and we will all be doomed). So I have also been having a few shots at them over that. Below I reproduce my latest salvo in that campaign. If anyone is interested in the economics and technology of ethanol production, I would be interested to hear from them

I don't know how much simpler I can make this for the peak oil ratbags but it seems that I need to: Sugarcane is a huge grass that grows like mad in the tropics and somewhat less insanely in the subtropics. It is thus growable on a huge slice of the earth's surface. One year after planting it has huge stems which are absolutely full of sugary juice. And the technology for getting the juice out is prehistoric. You just crush the stems and the juice flows out. In most of the tropics (though not in Australia) there are vendors who will sell you for a few rupees (or whatever the local currency is) a fresh drink of very palatable cane juice which they produce by feeding cane stems through a little hand-powered crusher. So a sugar mill is a very simple thing. The only complexity arises out of the need to extract granular sugar out of the juice.

If however cane-sugar were to be used solely for ethanol production, the sugar-production step would not be needed. You could just feed the freshly-crushed juice to yeast bugs in a nice warm environment (and the tropics ARE warm) and they will excrete alcohol as a waste product of their metabolism. And since alcohol has a different specific gravity from water, it is very easily separated out. And that alcohol can go straight into an internal combustion motor and will make the motor roar like a lion -- which is why racing cars use it.

The only reason ethanol is not widely used is cost. When crude oil was $30 a barrel, ethanol cost about twice as much to produce as gasoline. All those cane-farmers had to be paid. But crude is now touching $60 a barrel so if that price stays there fairly permanently, I suspect that you are going to see ethanol-compliant engines going into mass-production. There ARE a few adjustments needed to run a car on pure ethanol for any length of time -- mostly to do with corrosion control if I remember rightly.

Brazil already of course has such engines. Because they are such a big producer of cane-sugar, Brazil long ago set in train moves to run everything on ethanol rather than gasoline. They were rightly criticized at the time for making motor fuel more costly than it needed to be (when crude was at $30 a barrel) but they seem to be having the last laugh now.

And producing ethanol from cane is extremely "sustainable". It needs no complex inputs or technology and cane can be grown on the same soil year after year as long as there is a suitable input of nitrates. And the nitrates can come either from superphosphate application or from rotating the crop with legumes (beans and peas). Australian sugar farmers do both -- and have been doing so for around 150 years. So there are no mysteries or significant problems with it.

So I do hope the peak oil ratbags will now move on to some other fallacy. Jew-bashing perhaps?


The quote I had in mind above was: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine" -- attributed to Sir Arthur Eddington, English astronomer (1882 - 1944)


The whole charade is just to make politicians look good

Almost a decade ago I suggested that global warming would become a "gushing" source of political hypocrisy. So it has. Politicians and scientists constantly warn of the grim outlook, and the subject is on the agenda of the upcoming Group of Eight summit of world economic leaders. But all this sound and fury is mainly exhibitionism -- politicians pretending they're saving the planet. The truth is that, barring major technological advances, they can't (and won't) do much about global warming. It would be nice if they admitted that, though this seems unlikely.

Europe is the citadel of hypocrisy. Considering Europeans' contempt for the United States and George Bush for not embracing the Kyoto Protocol, you'd expect that they would have made major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions -- the purpose of Kyoto. Well, not exactly. From 1990 (Kyoto's base year for measuring changes) to 2002, global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, increased 16.4 percent, reports the International Energy Agency. The U.S. increase was 16.7 percent, and most of Europe hasn't done much better. Here are some IEA estimates of the increases: France, 6.9 percent; Italy, 8.3 percent; Greece, 28.2 percent; Ireland, 40.3 percent; the Netherlands, 13.2 percent; Portugal, 59 percent; Spain, 46.9 percent. It's true that Germany (down 13.3 percent) and Britain (a 5.5 percent decline) have made big reductions. But their cuts had nothing to do with Kyoto. After reunification in 1990, Germany closed many inefficient coal-fired plants in eastern Germany; that was a huge one-time saving. In Britain, the government had earlier decided to shift electric utilities from coal (high CO2 emissions) to plentiful natural gas (lower CO2 emissions).

On their present courses, many European countries will miss their Kyoto targets for 2008-2012. To reduce emissions significantly, Europeans would have to suppress driving and electricity use; that would depress economic growth and fan popular discontent. It won't happen. Political leaders everywhere deplore global warming -- and then do little. Except for Eastern European nations, where dirty factories have been shuttered, few countries have cut emissions. Since 1990 Canada's emissions are up 23.6 percent; Japan's, 18.9 percent. We are seeing similar exhibitionism in the United States. The U.S. Conference of Mayors recently endorsed Kyoto. California and New Mexico have adopted "targets" for emission cuts, reports the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. All this busywork won't much affect global warming, but who cares? The real purpose is for politicians to brandish their environmental credentials.

Even if rich countries actually curbed their emissions, it wouldn't matter much. Poor countries would offset the reductions. "We expect CO2 emissions growth in China between now and 2030 will equal the growth of the United States, Canada, all of Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Korea combined," says Fatih Birol, the IEA's chief economist. In India, he says, about 500 million people lack electricity; worldwide, the figure is 1.6 billion. Naturally, poor countries haven't signed Kyoto; they won't sacrifice economic gains -- poverty reduction, bigger middle classes -- to combat global warming. By 2030, the IEA predicts, world energy demand and greenhouse gases will increase by roughly 60 percent; poor countries will account for about two-thirds of the growth. China's coal use is projected almost to double; its vehicle fleet could go from 24 million to 130 million.

Like most forecasts, these won't come true. But unless they're wildly unreliable, they demonstrate that greenhouse emissions will still rise. Facing this prospect, we ought to align rhetoric and reality..... If we can't predict the stock market and next year's weather, why does anyone think we can predict the global climate in 75 years? Global warming is not an automatic doomsday. In some regions, warmer weather may be a boon.

What we have now is a respectable charade. Politicians and advocates make speeches, convene conferences and formulate plans. They pose as warriors against global warming. The media participate in the resulting deception by treating their gestures seriously. One danger is that some of these measures will harm the economy without producing significant environmental benefits. Policies motivated by political gain will inflict public pain. Why should anyone applaud?

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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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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