Tuesday, January 31, 2006


The email that I added as an update to my leading post yesterday said of NASA that they "would rather kill astronauts than use Freon blown foam". That was not my wording but I think the substance of it is correct. It appears that the new "green" foam was not responsible for the Challenger disaster but it was involved in the near-disaster with Discovery.

As it says here (From August 3, 2005):

"Discovery's external fuel tank was the first to fly with a new insulating foam custom-made to satisfy environmental bans on chemicals suspected of depleting the Earth's ozone layer. NASA is investigating why a 1-pound chunk of the foam peeled off Discovery's tank two minutes after launch July 26, missing the shuttle's right wing as it climbed toward orbit. The incident prompted NASA to ground the shuttle fleet even as Discovery was on its way to the International Space Station. "We are treating this very seriously. We are going to fix this before we go fly," said John Shannon, a senior shuttle manager at Johnson Space Center.

Indeed, Discovery's tank shed four pieces of foam large enough to cripple the shuttle if the pieces had hit it, and NASA records show at least two of those pieces were applied manually using the new formula of foam.

NASA officials will not discuss any emerging theories about why the foam continues to come off the tank. A team of experts from NASA and tank-builder Lockheed Martin are studying possible reasons. The main focus is on a pillow-sized piece of foam that broke free from a ramp that runs next to fuel pipes and cables, protecting them from turbulent airflow on the violent ride to space. Alterations or repairs made to that ramp are being looked at as a possible contributor to the foam loss, as is is every other change made to the tank.

The change in the chemical make-up of the foam is unrelated to the redesign ordered by the Accident Investigation Board in the wake of the fatal 2003 Columbia accident. Instead, NASA made the change as part of an ongoing bid to meet U.S. and international environmental bans dating to the 1990s. That's when the federal government started trying to ban ozone-depleting types of freon present in the chemicals used to spray and mold plastic foam for everything from refrigerators to furniture to rockets.

Most of the inch-thick orange foam that covers the tank is sprayed on by robots at a sprawling factory east of New Orleans. A freon-based chemical is used in that process. For robot-sprayed portions of the tank, NASA's contractor originally used a formula called CFC-11, long since banned. By 1996, NASA had switched to a more acceptable chemical, HCFC-141b, for all but one of the four kinds of foam it was using on the tank at the time. Then, on three flights in the late 1990s, popcorn-sized bits of the new, environmentally safe foam flaked off in record amounts. A frightening number of dings and gouges on the orbiters' heat shields got NASA's attention.

The freon-free foam was blamed. NASA found a quick fix, changing the way the new foam was applied to the tank to reduce -- but not eliminate -- the popcorning. It's unclear whether the environmentally friendly foam remained a factor in the continuing loss of small fragments of foam on subsequent missions, but NASA records show the agency knew it did not stick to the tank as well as the original foam.

When Columbia disintegrated over Texas in 2003, some blamed the environmental change. That wasn't the case. The big piece of foam that smashed the hole in Columbia's wing was made from the old foam containing the long-banned freon blowing agent. The old substance was called BX-250. NASA and its contractors were trying to develop a freon-free version of that foam, which workers used to manually craft the aerodynamic ramps and hand-made patches of foam applied once the robots are done spraying that initial layer. The space agency was still flying the old foam because it had won exemptions to the EPA rules and was making only progressive steps in changing the foam.

In records obtained by FLORIDA TODAY under the Freedom of Information Act, NASA told the EPA that it could not switch the foam formula faster "without jeopardizing the safety of NASA's human spaceflight program." Years of tests were needed on promising new formulas because "qualification testing must be performed to ensure that the material meets all of the requirements for mission success and human flight safety." The records note the agency's struggle with the initial change, and the resulting damage, as evidence it needed more time.

In 2003, as investigators were reviewing the Columbia accident, NASA did certify a replacement for the BX-250 foam that did not include the freon-based agent. The new foam, called BX-265, was ready for the fuel tanks for NASA's first two post-Columbia shuttle missions and is the foam under investigation.

So despite having record problems with the new foam, NASA still risked the lives of the Discovery crew with it and only good luck prevented another disaster.


Anybody who has ever heard of radiation hormesis will not be as surprised as these doctors were

Lung cancer patients were given new hope yesterday, thanks to an Australian breakthrough... The good news came in the form of a study published in the journal Cancer which found that low doses of radiation, given every weekday for one or two weeks, could improve outcomes for non-small-cell lung cancer. The cancer was one of the deadliest and most common forms of lung cancer, according to radiation oncologist Michael Mac Manus from Melbourne's Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

Associate Prof Mac Manus and his colleagues were amazed to find that some patients with advanced tumours lived for as long as five years with the new treatment. Usually they would have been expected to live less than six months. "All experienced doctors will have come across an occasional case where a patient has survived for a long time when they shouldn't have, so we thought we would look at a very large database of patients with incurable lung cancer to see how many of them survived," Prof Mac Manus said. "We were surprised to find that 1.1 per cent survived for five years. Some of them survived for 10 years and (one of) the patients appears to have been cured. "The long-term survival was an unexpected effect of the radiotherapy. "We expected it to be virtually zero."

The study looked at more than 2000 patients diagnosed with lung cancer who were at such an advanced stage their illness was considered incurable. All had received low doses of radiation to relieve pain and other symptoms but the average survival for such patients was generally less than six months. Prof Mac Manus was "very surprised and amazed" to find about one-in-100 actually lived for five years or more after radiotherapy.

He was now hoping to extend the research by comparing the molecular biology and genetics of the tumours in a bid to identify in advance the patients most likely to survive with less intensive treatment. "If we can understand what the mechanism is, we might be able to develop some new treatments based on that," he said. Although more research was needed, he said cancer specialists might be reluctant to leave radiation out of the treatment package for late-stage lung cancer patients in future because of the findings. "The bottom line is that even patients generally considered as having incurable disease have some hope," Prof Mac Manus said.

More here


They would have nothing to say if they did

In a bid to restore popularity to the green movement, a coalition of British environmental groups declared this week that it was time for new attitudes and tactics. Speaking at the launch of an inaugural "Green-Engage" report, written by dozens of "key thinkers" in academia and politics, activists conceded they had achieved limited successes in winning over the general public or understanding how ordinary people think. Hence there was a need, they said, to move beyond a "doom and gloom" theme favored by their core audience, in order to bring about a mass swing in behavior world-wide.

Stephen Hounsham, a spokesman for Transport 2000 - a group working to reduce the environmental impact of transportation - explained that the green movement needed to retune its message, becoming more positive and more realistic in dealing with the public. On issues such as climate change, Hounsham said, groups like his had tended to be needlessly highhanded, or to relentlessly predict disaster resulting from global warming. While that approach may resonate with activists, it caused wider audiences to tune out or became apathetic. "We assume that everybody is like us, with a thirst for environmental disaster [A revealing confession!] and a thirst to do something about it before they go to bed at night," he said.

When dealing with an issue like reducing emissions from automobile use, Hounsham said activists focused on getting people out of their cars and onto public transportation. That failed to take into account how much people love their cars, valuing them for the freedom they offer and their boost to personal identity. "We're not appealing to their core values," Hounsham said. "We're asking them to drop their core values and adopt ours." The green movement should start adopting messages tailored for each issue, emphasizing how citizens can gain immediately from tackling a specific problem, he said. Activists could move away from the image of "lefty hippie people with beards."

Solitaire Townsend, managing director for Futerra, a London public relations agency that specializes in environmental issues, said much soul searching was going on among activists. A new generation of younger campaigners did not wish to be an alternative to the mainstream but part of the mainstream, she said. In the past, organizers had been comfortable with being in permanent "protest mode," constantly fighting those in power. Her generation was tired of being marginalized and wanted to be in power themselves. [Indeed!]

"We don't want to chain ourselves to things, we want to engage with our peers," she said. Adopting a negative attitude when dealing with the media often translated into unhelpful articles. When activists focused on bad news, reporters in turn produced depressing features. In a survey of 320 articles on climate change in British newspapers between August and November last year, Futerra found that 59 percent focused completely on the negative effects of global warming, and offered no possible solutions. As a result of going through this "meat grinder of guilt and recrimination," many people simply decided to ignore the whole issue, Townsend said.


Vigilantes let air out of Europe's SUV boom

European eco-vigilantes are fighting the popularity of four-wheel-drive vehicles - by deflating their tyres. They seem to be getting away with it. Having studied the law, the environmentalists concluded that it was legal if the vehicles were not damaged. The movement began in Paris late last year and has since spread to other cities in France, Belgium and Holland. However, Sian Berry, of the British Alliance Against Urban 4x4s, was worried about the tactic, saying: "If just one person needs to go to hospital in a hurry and their 4x4 has a flat tyre, the joke won't seem so funny. The campaign will be finished." The Association des Constructeurs Europeens d'Automobiles, Europe's leading motor trade association, says the number of 4WDs in the EU more than doubled between 1998 and 2004. The activists compete for who can let down the most tyres in a night. In December, 14 Belgians deflated tyres on 137 cars. To avoid the possibility of owners driving off with flat tyres and putting lives in danger, campaigners leave notes explaining what they have done.



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 blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Monday, January 30, 2006


There is a recent NYT article that has been getting a lot of play from the Left which says that a NASA man is being silenced by the Bush administration because of his views on global warming.

No doubt the administration will be replying to the accusation soon so I am not going to say much about it here other than to say that since the source of the story is the NYT, it is bound to be a distortion.


A reader has emailed me as follows:

NASA - that fine organization that came aboard for the proven dishonesty and plain bad science of "Nuclear Winter" and for the farcical "Ozone Hole over Kennebunkport" and that would rather kill astronauts than use Freon blown foam. That NASA.

Wind turbines have caused the deaths of four white-tailed eagles on isolated islands off the Norwegian coast. Thirty other eagles have failed to return to their nesting sites within the wind farm area on Smola, 9.6km (six miles) northwest of Norway, according to wildlife campaigners. The dead birds were found between August and December last year. Two had been sliced in half, apparently by a turbine blade. Post-mortem examinations, however, attributed the birds' deaths to multiple trauma caused by a heavy blow.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is concerned that wind farms in Britain could exact a similar toll on native and migrating wild birds, especially as the white-tailed eagle, the largest eagle species in Europe, is beginning to thrive at last in the Western Isles of Scotland after a 30-year reintroduction project. This area has also been earmarked by developers as prime land for the construction of wind farms. Campaigners are already lobbying against a proposed 234-turbine project on peatlands on north Lewis because of the threat it poses to eagles.

The effect of the wind turbines on white-tailed eagles has been revealed after research by the RSPB in collaboration with the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA) and the Norwegian Sea Eagle Project. Work concentrated on Smola because it is listed by BirdLife International as an important area and because it has one of the highest breeding figures for the bird in the world. It is possible that other deaths have gone undetected because much of the wind park is rarely visited. Mark Avery, conservation director at the RSPB, said: "These findings are shocking, yet may only be the tip of the iceberg. Research on Smola is being stepped up and, if more dead birds are found and even fewer are able to breed, we will be doubly determined to fight wind-farm plans that could cause similar destruction in the UK."

The 68-turbine wind farm on Smola was built by Norway between 2001 and 2005, despite an environmental assessment giving warning that it would pose a threat to the eagles. BirdLife International took the case to the Berne Convention, but the decision was upheld. Conservationists are to increase checks on the wind farm to determine the extent of the casualties and the numbers of birds being bred this spring. Researchers have not drawn up final conclusions on the impact on the birds because of a wide variation in their breeding numbers from year to year. There was also intensive construction work at the wind park during the past two years.

Arne Follestad, a research scientist at NINA, said: "Breeding results on Smola have been strikingly poor compared with the 30 years before the wind farm was built. We are only halfway through the research, yet, despite their site faithfulness, we are not confident that white-tailed eagles will adapt to the turbines. As older birds die, we do not know if new birds will occupy nest sites within the wind farm."

Stuart Housden, the director of RSPB Scotland, said: "The news from Norway is of great concern to us. If white-tailed eagles have died because of wind-turbine collisions, there are major implications for our own eagle populations here in Scotland. We are campaigning hard against the proposed 234- turbine wind farm on north Lewis partly because of the great danger it poses to Scotland's eagles." He said that the peatlands were an environmentally sensitive site protected under European law.

The Department of Trade and Industry said in a statement that it was aware of the Norway study but that there was no evidence that turbines in Britain have been responsible for any major adverse effect on birdlife. A spokesmann added: "Wind farms help to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate against climate change, which is an ever greater threat to birdlife."



The following phrases, frequently found in technical writings, are defined below for your enlightenment:

Phrase......................................... Translation

It has been long known............... I haven't bothered to check the references

It is known.................................... I believe

It is believed................................. I think

It is generally believed...................My colleagues and I think

There has been some discussion... Nobody agrees with me

It can be shown........................... Take my word for it

It is proven................................... It agrees with something mathematical

Of great theoretical importance...... I find it interesting

Of great practical importance........ This justifies my employment

Of great historical importance....... This ought to make me famous

Some samples were chosen for study... The others didn't make sense

Typical results are shown............ The best results are shown

Correct within order of magnitude.... Wrong

The values were obtained empirically. The values were obtained by accident

The results are inconclusive......... The results seem to disprove my hypothesis

Additional work is required.......... Someone else can work out the details

It might be argued that.............. I have a good answer to this objection

The investigations proved rewarding.. My grant has been renewed


Thanks to the Montreal talks, penalties have become discretionary and emissions reductions have become merely foreign aid

The worldwide press hailed the December negotiations in Montreal over the Kyoto Protocol for producing an "historic climate agreement." As the London Independent put it, "The fight against catastrophic global warming scored its greatest success to date yesterday, when negotiators from more than 180 nations unexpectedly agreed to develop far-reaching measures."

The agreement truly was historic as the greatest modification of Kyoto's terms since its inception in 1997 -- although not for the reasons The Independent and other hailers proclaimed. The agreement effectively guts Kyoto's claim to being "legally binding" and its potentially onerous provisions.

The touted achievements were, in fact, nothing more than already-agreed promises to meet again later. Less heralded, but the most substantively important development in Montreal, was adoption of the 2001 Marrakech Accord.

As drafted and originally agreed at the 2001 Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention (COP-7), these sanctions, among other things, disqualify Kyoto parties that violate their 2008-12 quota from employing the mechanisms of "joint implementation" and trading emission credits in any subsequent round.

In Montreal, the Kyoto establishment, while congratulating itself for adopting Marrakech penalties, actually neutered them. They are now no more binding or enforceable than the voluntary United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), or the nascent alternative to Kyoto, the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate.

Here is how, in brief detail. In the "Procedures" document (Section XIII), parties added an extra year, give or take, to avoid violation of their emission quota by purchasing or otherwise arranging for greenhouse-gas credits from others. This administrative ploy did not add another year to the period for mandatory reductions, but merely allowed the credits obtained after expiration of the five-year compliance period to be applied retroactively. Parties also established an intricate enforcement end-around neutering Marrakech's bold, plain language via a rhetorical web weaved in Sections V, VI, X and XV.

As a result of the latter, Kyoto's penalties are now in fact discretionary. A board of insiders may choose simply not to proceed against a violator, or may invoke an escape hatch for undefined de minimis violators. Other waiver and reinstatement provisions all ensure that the vaunted penalties will never be seriously invoked against any of Kyoto's growing queue of likely scofflaws.

Marrakech had actually constituted Kyoto's long-missing element -- something resembling an enforcement mechanism and "teeth." In Montreal, in addition to gutting this, delegates openly ignored Kyoto's requirement that these penalty procedures and mechanisms be formally adopted, in the form of an amendment requiring ratification.

This explains why the decision ("Procedures and mechanisms relating to compliance under the Kyoto Protocol") received little fanfare as compared with the heralded vows to talk again. This effort, with one other adopted item detailing the nature and scope of Kyoto's key "mechanisms," quietly weakened Kyoto's annual emission-reduction promises by 20% and eviscerated the touted enforcement provisions. On their face, these appear mandatory and costly, while in reality they have become, at best, mere discretionary incentives.

The final chapter in this coup d'etat ensuring that Kyoto will never be the "legally binding" pact its supporters tout is that, by design, technically even these ersatz enforcement provisions do not exist. Kyoto's Article 18 requires that any binding consequences, such as the "procedures and mechanisms" agreed in Marrakech, be adopted at the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (MOP-1 in Montreal) and that in order to be binding they must be amendments to the protocol.

Noting this requirement, Saudi Arabia proffered such a plan. Canada hinted that this requirement threatened a two-track treaty; that is, ratification actually codifying lofty Kyoto rhetoric is no sure thing. In response, Europe cautioned that ratifying such enforcement provisions might take some time. Its curious solution, accepted by the MOP in the name of expediting things, was to put off consideration of whether to formally adopt these penalties for two more years until literally the eve of Kyoto taking effect.

The other much-ballyhooed accomplishment of the Montreal COP-MOP -- the humbling of the United States -- was also wildly off the mark. The United States did not, in fact, alter its long-standing position against seeking ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. It merely agreed with all other parties to the Rio UNFCCC treaty to continue discussing voluntary greenhouse-gas abatement. Kyoto parties agreed to agree later, as was previously agreed. This time, however, the parties expressly agreed that these talks could not lead to binding commitments.

Kyoto's ultimate truth is that after eight years, nine negotiations and scores of triumphalist press releases, the rest of the world remains wildly uninterested in joining its rationing scheme. Such a revealing fact is apparently not worthy of coverage, or concern. After all, the legacy of the Montreal COP-MOP is that no obstacle is too great to impede claims of victory in the Kyoto context.

Already, a proposal has been tabled to allow "voluntary" quotas for countries such as India and China, the exempt majority. The purpose would be to facilitate claims of Kyoto success by the covered few, who will, again, not need to actually reduce emissions, but can then, instead, buy the right of future growth from these dirtier states, in the form of emission credits. The progression is to merely redefine and merge Kyoto and foreign aid. This will prove Montreal's legacy as the beginning of the end for Kyoto, when its parties realized they could not and would not try to match rhetoric with action.

Financial Post, 26 January 2006


Readers might find the following correspondence interesting. The first email (one that I personally find most unconvincing) is from Oliver Morton (O.Morton@nature.com) of "Nature" and Benny Peiser's reply follows:

Dear Benny

In response to your idea that we sought deliberately to undermine a research letter in Nature by choosing to highlight one in GRL that said the opposite, it's worth bearing in mind how different the papers are, and how utterly they fail to contradict each other.

The Nature paper by Raper and Braithwaite deals specifically with contributions to sea level rise from two second-order sources, glaciers and icecaps, saying nothing about the rise that may be expected from the Greenland and Antarctic icesheets or from the thermal expansion of the oceans, which are likely to be the major sources of sea level rise.

The GRL paper which we wrote about on the News@Nature website looks not at the sources of sea level rise but at the historical trends, by using the period over which satellite data and tide gauge data can be compared to reassess the tide-gauge only era. The GRL paper was about new measurements of the global trend which seem to conform to model predictions that were made some time ago. We thought it was a pretty significant contribution to the debate.

The reality of constrained resources means that every week papers are published in Nature which, though excellent, we do not cover in the news pages or on our website. This time, as happens quite often, we chose to write about a paper elsewhere on a topic related to that of a paper in Nature that we weren't covering. To see this as a deliberate undermining suggests an overly cynical approach to life.

For what it's worth, I categorically deny it.

Best as ever,


Benny replies:


Thanks for your clarification. I accept your assurance that Nature did not deliberately try to undermine the paper by Raper and Braithwaite on their revised estimates for sea-level rise that you published on Jan 19. Nevertheless, by choosing to highlight the Church and White GRL paper instead, you did inadvertently prejudice the tenor in the coverage of the two papers. Just compare your Jan 19 headline ("Sea-level rise is quickening") with that of the MMU press release that Raper and Braithwaite issued on the same day ("Scientists play down rising seas").

Needless to say that, in spite of your rather alarmist news story, there remains a conspicuous lack of consensus about whether or not there is reliable evidence of accelerating global sea-levels. A more balanced and up-to-date summary of the current state of research and the lack of consensus on many sea-level-related research issues can be found here. I suggest it would have been wiser for Nature to provide unprejudiced coverage of the latest research papers in the context of these evident uncertainties.



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 blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Sunday, January 29, 2006


Global warming advocate produces data to support global warming

I am sure there will be more expert comments than mine forthcoming but I just want to point out what seem to me to be some of the more obvious implausibilities in the latest Australian research (GRE 2006) that reports a study of sea-levels from 1870 on. I reproduce the Abstract hereunder:

Multi-century sea-level records and climate models indicate an acceleration of sea-level rise, but no 20th century acceleration has previously been detected. A reconstruction of global sea level using tide-gauge data from 1950 to 2000 indicates a larger rate of rise after 1993 and other periods of rapid sea-level rise but no significant acceleration over this period. Here, we extend the reconstruction of global mean sea level back to 1870 and find a sea-level rise from January 1870 to December 2004 of 195 mm, a 20th century rate of sea-level rise of 1.7 ¤ 0.3 mm yr?1 and a significant acceleration of sea-level rise of 0.013 ¤ 0.006 mm yr?2. This acceleration is an important confirmation of climate change simulations which show an acceleration not previously observed. If this acceleration remained constant then the 1990 to 2100 rise would range from 280 to 340 mm, consistent with projections in the IPCC TAR.

There is a popular summary of the research here. A few excerpts:

What we found is that sea levels are rising and increasing with time," the CSIRO study's co-author John Church said. "It means there will be increased flooding of low-lying areas when there are storm surges. "It means increased coastal erosion on sandy beaches. We're going to see increased flooding on island nations." ... Greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced by 50 per cent by 2050, Mr Church said. "If not, climate change will continue and increase in magnitude," he said.

By examining tidal data, Mr Church said sea levels rose by 19.5cm between 1870 and 2004. The increases accelerated with time, averaging 1.7mm a year in the 20th century and 1.8mm in the past 50 years. Mr Church said sea increases were previously based on climate change models. He said his team's research was the first to document rises based on extensive historical tidal data, allowing predictions on sea-level increases to be made with greater precision.

Many island nations are already feeling the impact of rising seas. In Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea, increased sea levels have forced hundreds of islanders to abandon vulnerable coastal homes for higher ground, according to the United Nations and news reports.

So they report that sea levels have risen nearly eight inches between 1870 and now! That for a start seems to me to be a nonsense. Such a large rise in relatively recent times would surely have led to worldwide comments about what was once land now being swamped and I know of no such widespead comments or examples of flooding. Land does rise and fall for various reasons (e.g. in coastal California and Eastern England and perhaps the Maldives) but flooding due to sea-level rise has just not happened as far as I can see. And while sea-levels in some Pacific islands may have risen (though the Vanuatu claim is a fraud), in others the levels have fallen! (See here and here).

And how do Church et al. reconcile their "reconstruction" of sea-levels with the actual evidence provided by John Daly's `Isle of the Dead' (Tasmania), tide gauge from 1841 -- which shows a sea-level that is HIGHER than today? No doubt the actual 1841 observation was "wrong" and the modern reconstruction is "right"

In view of Church's obvious enthusiasm for global warming theory, we should also perhaps keep in mind this report:

When a trial of 908 volunteers found that using anti-inflammatory drugs could reduce the risk of mouth cancer, it caused considerable excitement among cancer researchers. The Harvard School of Dental Medicine described the study as impressive, claiming it might lead to earlier identification of pre-cancerous cells. Conducted by Dr Jon Sudbo, a previously-published researcher and cancer expert from the well-respected Radium Hospital in Oslo, Norway, the study was published in The Lancet, one of the world's most respected medical journals. So it came as a shock when revealed earlier this month that Sudbo's study was fiction, based on 908 patients who did not exist.

To make matters worse, the fraud was not discovered by The Lancet or his colleagues, but by Camilla Stoltenberg, a director of epidemiology at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo. Sudbo said the study was based on information collated from a public health database. Stoltenberg, responsible for the database, knew it did not contain the sort of information Sudbo cited. Confronted, Sudbo admitted he falsified the data. He also admitted that other studies on oral cancer, in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2004 and The Journal of Clinical Oncology in March last year, were also fake.

The scandal comes less than a month after the Science retracted two papers by leading stem cell researcher Hwang Woo-suk after it was revealed he faked most of his ground-breaking work on cloning. The scams are by no means the only examples of fabricated research (see next page). However, the breathtaking nature of Sudbo's actions has raised questions about the effectiveness of peer review and journal editors' ability to identify misleading research.....

Professor Judy Black, chair of the National Health and Medical Research Council's research committee, agrees peer review has limitations. "When you get an article to review, you go on the data in front of you. You can look at the researcher's methods and see if you can detect differences between your methodology and theirs, but if two people do the same experiments and get different results, it doesn't mean one is fraudulent."

Black believes fraudulent research may also go unnoticed because peer reviewers and colleagues are reluctant to "dob in" fellow researchers. "People don't necessarily speak up about it. There is research that people know is fabricated, and they haven't dobbed the person in because everyone knows what happens to whistleblowers." However, Black says reviewers have no choice but to assume researchers' work is legitimate. "The onus is on the researcher to be honest and not falsify research."

Initial results from what might be the largest study of the practice of peer review ever conducted shows this faith may be misplaced. Three medical journals, The Lancet, the British Medical Journal and the Annals of Internal Medicine, have allowed a team of researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, to attend editorial meetings, look at reviewer comments and follow the progress of more than 1000 articles from submission to rejection or publication. The team hasn't released its final report, but initial findings indicate authors frequently fail to disclose funding sources and potential conflicts of interest in submitted manuscripts, until asked to do so by journal editors.

Black says the pressure to have work published in a high profile journal may tempt some researchers to take shortcuts with their research. "There's no doubt that being published in a high profile journal has a big impact. More and more people are going to be judged on their productivity and the number of studies they have published, and that determines funding. "If you get a research grant and if you have a lot of publications in high impact journals out of that grant, then your likelihood of getting another grant is increased." As a result, the competition to be published is intense....

Last year Richard Smith, editor of the BMJ for 25 years, wrote an editorial saying he suspected fraud "is probably happening on quite a large scale, and we just have inadequate mechanisms for sorting this out." Last year the US Office of Research Integrity, a federal agency responsible for investigating scientific misconduct, received 265 allegations of falsified research.

Michael Callaham, vice-president of the World Association of Medical Editors, says there is little anyone can do to eliminate fraud: "Journals could ask for all sorts of corroborating materials, but reviewers, who are mostly unpaid, and editors, who are mostly underpaid, would not be able to confirm their authenticity, and would not have the time to review them." ....

Jefferson says there is very little evidence that peer review is effective - a fact editors are reluctant to consider.... Jefferson says the medical publishing industry requires "radical change." "The first thing that needs to happen is that editors who maintain that peer review is infallible need to understand that, at best, it's untested. There are also far too many journals and some of them are publishing irrelevant or misleading research.

And despite the angst, research is still coming out in some of the world's leading scientific journals that should never have passed even the limited barriers of peer review. Note the summary below of the latest gem from The Lancet:

"Eating your greens will do more than please your mother: new evidence shows five servings of fruit and vegetables a day can slash your risk of having a stroke by 26 per cent. A review of previous studies, conducted by British and Australian experts, found that even eating between three to five 80g servings a day cut strokes by 11per cent, compared with people who ate fewer than three servings a day. The authors said that while a reduction in stroke from fruit and vegetable consumption was already known, this was the first time researchers had been able to quantify the benefit. The findings suggested that heeding recommendations on fruit and vegetable intake could save lives and prevent thousands of strokes a year.... Their review, published yesterday in The Lancet, looked at the results of eight previous studies that together involved more than 250,000 people who were followed up for an average of 13 years....

The study authors conceded their results might be affected by observational bias. People who ate a lot of fruit and vegetables were probably likely to share other characteristics known to reduce stroke risk - being less likely to smoke or be overweight, and more likely to exercise and to have lower intakes of salt and saturated fat.

The second paragraph as excerpted above shows, of course, that the study proves precisely nothing.

And I suppose that it is just too curmudgeonly of me altogether to point out that one third of what is published in even the most prestigious journals subsequently turns out to be wrong.


There is a thoroughly dishonest and fact-free article here that uses accusations alone to support a claim that the "Gutted EPA fails to protect kids" from exposure to harmful pesticides. The author is Marc Lame, who teaches at Indiana University and is the author of "A Worm in the Teacher's Apple: Protecting America's School Children from Pests and Pesticides." I guess the main point of the article is to sell the book. The basic accusation in the article is that the EPA has been pressured by "the pesticide industry" not to enforce bans on pesticide. No evidence is offered for the accusation nor is it considered that the EPA could have rational reasons for its policies. The article is, in a word, just a run-of-the-mill Green/Left attempt to create a baseless scare. There are far too many such rubbishy screeches to take note of here but one of my readers has written a rejoinder so I reproduce that below.

Marc Lame should be ashamed of himself for putting his name to so much misinformation and mixing science issues with political shenanigans. Everything the general public knows about DDT is a lie and he has to know that. As for the "truth" of Rachel Carson's book Silent Springs, the word truth and Rachel Carson or her book should never appear in the same sentence unless that sentence notes the lack of it.

Rachel Carson's book is full of misinformation and in one case she deliberately misrepresented the facts. None of what she presented as "science" has stood the test of time and it is unfortunate that she did not live long enough to see real scientists using real science shred her information. There is a reason her book first appeared as excerpted installments in New Yorker Magazine rather than being peer reviewed by scientific journals.

This same pattern has been followed by every junk scientist every since. Write a book making broad unprovable claims. Get the public all worked up. Demand regulations to correct the problem and intimidate everyone into going along with the program. The facts of the matter regarding DDT is that there never was and still isn't any scientific information to prove any of the claims made by the Mother of Junk Science, Rachel Carson or her acolytes in the environmental movement. Tom DeLay isn't making "claims" that millions (currently believed to be in the neighborhood of 90 million since 1972) have died as a result of Bill Ruckelshaus (An environmental activist who was the first director of EPA) decision to ban DDT; he is making a statement of fact that is supported by real science. He even admitted it two years later saying that he made the decision based on political considerations because there was no science to support that decision -- even overriding the Federal Magistrate, Judge Sweeny who heard seven months of testimony and concluded that very same thing and ruled there was no reason to ban DDT.

It is true Tom DeLay was an exterminator and apparently a good one. He supported pesticide application industries because he is acutely aware of the tremendous pressure brought to bear by the environmental activists to promote blatantly unscientific programs. The Abramoff issue is merely a smear tactic that allows Marc to avoid having to present any science to prove his points. DeLay's position had nothing to do with any pro pesticide cabal of ideologues. If there was any ideologue in Marc Lame's article it was Marc himself.

Parents of children in the third world would be thankful to have their children be exposed to what Marc calls toxic substances because so many of them would not be dying as a result of a lack of them. Most of the victims of malaria in the third world are children. As for those that survive, a substantial number of them have permanent brain damage. This baloney spewed out by Marc Lame and all of the other environmental movement ideologues is nonsense. They claim to be so concerned about children's health, but consistently take stands against programs that would same millions of lives in the third world.

They even stand against basic issues such as genetically modified foods which would save millions from starvation and the diseases that go along with malnutrition. Golden Rice would save the eyesight of 500,000 children in the third world every year by adding much needed vitamin A to their diets. Environmental activists are fighting this with all their strength and have thrown up so many road blocks that it will take up to 5 years for this much needed product to come to the market place.

What I would like to know is this. If Marc and his allies are so concerned about children's health here in the developed world, why do they hate the third world children so badly? Marc, you should be ashamed.


After dropping for about 15 years, the amount of sunlight Earth reflects back into space, called albedo, has increased since 2000, a new study concludes. That means less energy is reaching the surface. Yet global temperatures have not cooled during the period. Increasing cloud cover seems to be the reason, but there must also be some other change in the clouds that's not yet understood. "The data also reveal that from 2000 to now the clouds have changed so that the Earth may continue warming, even with declining sunlight," said study leader Philip R. Goode of the New Jersey Institute of Technology. "These large and peculiar variabilities of the clouds, coupled with a resulting increasing albedo, presents a fundamental, unmet challenge for all scientists who wish to understand and predict the Earth's climate."

Earth's albedo is measured by noting how much reflected sunlight in turn bounces off the Moon, something scientists call earthshine. The observations were made at the Big Bear Solar Observatory in California. The findings will be published Jan. 24 in Eos, a weekly newspaper of the American Geophysical Union. On any given day, about half of Earth is covered by clouds, which reflect more sunlight than land and water. Clouds keep Earth cool by reflecting sunlight, but they can also serve as blankets to trap warmth. High thin clouds are better blankets, while low thick clouds make better coolers.

Separately, satellite data recently showed that while the difference between high and low clouds had long been steady at 7-8 percent, in the past five years, for some unknown reason, the difference has jumped to 13 percent. High, warming clouds have increased while low clouds have decreased. Research shows condensation trails, or contrails from jet airplanes, fuel more high-altitude clouds. But they have not been shown to account for all the observed change.

Earth's albedo appears to have experienced a similar reversal during a period running from the 1960s to the mid-1980s. Goode's team says there may be a large, unexplained variation in sunlight reaching the Earth that changes over the course of two decades or so, as well as a large effect of clouds re-arranging by altitude.

How do the findings play into arguments about global warming and the apparent contribution by industrial emissions? That's entirely unclear. "No doubt greenhouse gases are increasing," Goode said in a telephone interview. "No doubt that will cause a warming. The question is, 'Are there other things going on?'" What is clear is that scientists don't understand clouds very well, as a trio of studies last year also showed. "Clouds are even more uncertain than we thought," Goode said.



Full of baseless assertions, of course

One of Britain's leading environmentalists will today sound a doomsday warning to the world: humanity's very existence is under threat from climate change and, even if we survive, the population will crash to about a third of its current level.
Sir Crispin Tickell, the man who convinced former prime minister Margaret Thatcher that global warming was a real problem, predicts that, in 200 years, there could be as few as 2.3 billion people because rising sea levels and temperatures will make some areas uninhabitable and, coupled with social factors, depress birth rates.

But he also says our survival is "not guaranteed" and that the presence of humans on the planet could be "no more than a somewhat messy episode in the history of the Earth". Advances in genetics, he believes, could possibly result in the creation of different sub-species of humans, conjuring up the HG Wells nightmare of the Eloi and the Morlocks.

Sir Crispin, a former British ambassador to the United Nations who is now chancellor of Kent University and director of the Green College Centre for Environmental Policy and Understanding, is the third major figure in the field this month to sound a warning of massive changes in the years ahead. The others were James Lovelock, who developed the Gaia theory of the planet as a living organism, and Chris Rapley, the director of the British Antarctic Survey.

Sir Crispin, who is due to give a lecture on this subject tonight, said: "The human impact on the Earth has slowly and then rapidly increased, most of all in the last 250 years. "The resulting transformation of the environment is unsustainable. The main factors are human population increase, degradation of land, consumption of resources, water pollution and supply, climate change, destruction of other species ... "Most of the solutions to the problems we have created, including the widening division between rich and poor, are well known but few want to confront them, singly or together. To do so we have to rethink our value system."

He pointed to recent droughts in Mediterranean countries and the increasing severity of hurricanes in the Caribbean - caused by a rise in sea temperature - as some of the signs that global warming is starting to get out of hand. Sir Crispin has tried to forecast what is in store for humanity "supposing we can cope with the natural hazards" over the next two centuries. But he warned: "Our survival in one form or another is not guaranteed."

If humanity survives, what could emerge will be far removed from the US-dominated world of today. "We will find the hubs of power, wealth and culture are very different with a greatly reduced human population," Sir Crispin said. "Sea levels will rise, meaning coastlines will be different. "I don't think climate change by itself is going to do anything [politically], but it is one of a number of factors that will alter the balance of power."

There are about 6.3 billion people on the planet and this is predicted to rise to nine billion this century. "I think we just cannot go on like that. Perhaps the ideal number would be 2.3 billion," he said. "Population growth has now stopped in parts of the world. Other parts are going to be affected by climate change. People's propensity to breed will be much less." ...

The report said there were 370 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and this was growing at two parts per million towards the danger level of 400, giving 15 years to turn this around. It found changing lifestyles and travel patterns was more effective than concentrating on technological advances such as alternative fuels.

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 blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Saturday, January 28, 2006


I have been studying and writing about Greenies for over 30 years and the thing that stands out most in them to me is their hysterical tone -- usually accompanied by vast exaggeration and selective attention. They are constantly issuing declarations of imminent doom -- none of which, of course, ever come to pass. The bet between Simon and Ehrlich is of course the classic instance of that. At the moment, the chief Greenie doomster appears to be James Lovelock -- whose predictions are so extreme that you would have to have a religious need for panic in order to take them seriously. I have of course recorded quite a few potshots at Lovelock's absurdities on this blog in recent weeks.

It seems of interest, however, to point out that scaremongering is not confined to the Greenies. It is a trait general to Leftists. People of all political stripes support environmental causes. I support some myself (prevention of soil erosion, for instance). But there is no doubt that Greenie activists and Leftist activists have a lot in common these days and are often allied. So the following examples of extreme doom-mongering from a Leftist source should come as no surprise. It is excerpted from Taranto and the sting definitely is in the tail.

Moonbatting Back in Time

This Usenet posting, from one Moussaoui C. Abdenacer, will seem unremarkable, but bear with us (quoting verbatim):

George Bush's whole administration has all the earmarks of a well prepared nazi-type regime! They are working on it tooth and claw! The only thing they need now is an internal terrorist threat, or civil disorder growing from anti-war protests to justify declaring a National Emergency with its protests to justify declaring a National Emergency with its legally sanctioned suspension of Constitutionally protected rights. Concentration camps for hard-core anti-war activists will be supported by the stupidity silent majority with their brainless, moronic, imbecilic, blind and bigoted moral retardation. Hence idiotic flag-waving becomes a substitute for rational analysis, and Jerry Falwell Bible Thumping a means of conditioning the rah rah war crowd to perceive anti-war protestors as low-life scum and traitors who need to be locked up or shot by loyal, awesomely patriotic volunteers like Marino Sicki of Arch-hate-a, Calif. who has publicly proclaimed his desire to kill protestors.

So I have a feeling that by this Spring civil unrest and economic turmoil will exacerbate domestic problems sufficiently to permit administrative type detention policies to be implemented by the Tyrant Bush with the complete support of all war-loving red, white, and blue American zombies. This demented hard-hat mental disease was prevalent during the Vietnam war era and those that don't learn from history eventually get a rude awakening. The economy is going to be so bad: the whole situation is going to be so bad; more oppressive measures will be imposed. They're already establishing special camps for those deemed a threat to national determination of your subversive potential rather than on any overt acts you may have committed.

OK wait, one more and then we'll get to the point. This is from Rick Burgess:

Impeach George Bush! Call your Congressperson and demand it!

How much more blatant and obvious does the information have to be? We've got a President who very obviously came into power under very corrupt circumstances. . . . This is not just another Republican administration run amuck! Impeach George Bush Now!

What's interesting is the dates on which these ravings were posted: Abdenacer's was on Feb.17, 1991, and Burgess's on April 19, 1991. Yes, they were talking about the first President Bush. Well, plus la change

Similar Bush=Nazi shrieks are of course regularly heard from Leftists all the time these days but it is amusing to look back and see that such shrieks have been with us for a long time. And if the past shrieks have been shown by events to have been false prophecies, it should be yet another reason to believe that the present shrieks are false prophecies too.


Below is a plain-English summary from "Science" magazine followed by the abstract of one of the two papers mentioned. It is impressive that even using the moronic corn-sugar route, ethanol production has a positive energy balance. With half a dozen co-authors of the paper, however, it is pretty amazing that none of them seem to be aware of the enormously cheaper and more environmentally friendly method of producing ethanol directly from sugarcane.


With fossil-fuel supplies steadily waning, recent research has focused on using plant-derived materials as a renewable substitute (see the Editorial by Koonin). Ragauskas et al. (p. 484) review progress in this area, ranging from plant genetics research for enhancing supply to enzymatic and other catalytic methods for breaking down the biomass into practical fuels and fine chemical precursors. Some of the economic challenges and benefits of changing the production infrastructure on such a large scale are also addressed. Ethanol is a renewable resource already in use as a liquid fuel, but its production from corn and cellulose is energy intensive, and some analyses have found that the overall process uses more energy than it creates. Farrell et al. (p. 506) rigorously analyzed a variety of relevant investigations, and found that the studies reporting negative net energy values are flawed. All of the studies show that current corn ethanol technologies reduce petroleum use significantly relative to gasoline. However, new production methods are needed if fuel ethanol is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly.


Ethanol Can Contribute to Energy and Environmental Goals

Alexander E. Farrell, Richard J. Plevin, Brian T. Turner, Andrew D. Jones, Michael O'Hare, Daniel M. Kammen

To study the potential effects of increased biofuel use, we evaluated six representative analyses of fuel ethanol. Studies that reported negative net energy incorrectly ignored coproducts and used some obsolete data. All studies indicated that current corn ethanol technologies are much less petroleum-intensive than gasoline but have greenhouse gas emissions similar to those of gasoline. However, many important environmental effects of biofuel production are poorly understood. New metrics that measure specific resource inputs are developed, but further research into environmental metrics is needed. Nonetheless, it is already clear that large-scale use of ethanol for fuel will almost certainly require cellulosic technology.

Silly Seattle's recycling: Exposing the facts about the High Church of Recycling

Elias Rohas is a garbage hauler in Seattle. He works for Rabanco/Allied Waste Industries and his beat is Magnolia, the city's tony westernmost neighborhood. According to the Seattle Times, Rohas has been on the job 14 years. He slowly cruises Magnolia streets, using his truck's mechanical arm to lift and dump curbside garbage bins. Since the first of the year Rohas has enjoyed a new responsibility, one shared by Seattle policemen: he can officially determine who is breaking the law, and issue a ticket.

On January 1, placing more than 10 percent recyclable materials into a garbage bin became illegal in Seattle. An offending bin is tagged with a bright yellow slip that announces, "Recycle. It's not garbage anymore." The un-emptied bin is then left at the curb in hopes that the homeowner will learn the lesson and remove the reusable material by next week's collection. Businesses that offend three times are fined $50.

Seattle's proudly progressive leaders were alarmed when, almost two decades after voluntary recycling programs were initiated in the city--recycling rates had stalled at about 40 percent of the total amount of waste. Too many bottles and too much paper were still finding their way to the eastern Oregon landfill that receives Seattle's garbage. So after a year-long $450,000 television, radio and newspaper education campaign, the mandatory recycling law went into effect at the first of the year. The goal is to raise the percentage of recyclables to sixty percent of total waste. Seattle is not alone, of course; many other cities, from Philadelphia to Honolulu, also have mandatory recycling programs. But these laws are based on myth and followed as faith.

RECYCLING FEELS RIGHT. Echoing widespread Seattle sentiment (85 percent of the city's citizens approve of curbside recycling), the Seattle Times editorial board has concluded that "Recycling is a good thing." After all, using a bottle twice must be better than using it once, saving resources and sparing the landfill.

The truth, though, is that recycling is an expense, not a savings, for a city. "Every community recycling program in America today costs more than the revenue it generates," says Dr. Jay Lehr of the Heartland Institute. A telling indicator is that cities often try to dump recycling programs when budgets are tight. As Angela Logomasini, director of risk and environmental policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, points out in the Wall Street Journal, every New York City mayor has attempted to stop the city's recycling program since it was begun in 1989. Mayor David Dinkins tried, but changed his mind when met with noisy criticism. Rudy Giuliani tried, but was sued by the Natural Resources Defense Council, which won the case. Mayor Bloomberg has proposed temporarily ending the recycling program because, as Logomasini notes, it costs $240 per ton to recycle and only $130 per ton to send the material to a landfill. The numbers for other areas are roughly comparable. The net per-ton cost of recycling exceeds $180 in Rhode Island, while conventional garbage collection and disposal costs $120 to $160 per ton.

The funds go for trucks and collectors and inspectors and bureaucrats. Clemson professor Daniel K. Benjamin points out that Los Angeles has 800 trucks working the neighborhoods, instead of 400, due to recycling. Radley Balko at aBetterEarth.Org, a project of the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University, writes, "That means extra wear and tear on city streets, double the exhaust emissions into the atmosphere, double the man hours required for someone to drive and man those trucks, and double the costs of maintenance and upkeep of the trucks." Jerry Taylor of the Cato Institute says costs include "the energy necessary to deliver the recyclables to the collection centers, process the post-consumer material into usable commodities for manufacturers, and deliver the processed post-consumer material to manufacturing plants." Franklin Associates, which provides consulting services for solid waste management, estimates that curbside recycling is 55 percent more expensive, pound for pound, than conventional garbage disposal.

City budgets aren't the only victims of recycling. Citizens also have a significant cost--their time. Seattle Public Utilities researchers (in collaboration with University of California, Davis) conducted a survey in 2005 that indicated 98 percent of Seattle households participate in the curbside recycling program, and that 16 minutes are spent recycling per household. The city contains 260,000 households, which means each week Seattleites spend almost 8,500 work days recycling. Working days lost in traffic jams are commonly cited by proponents of HOV lanes, bike paths, and light rail. Nary a word is heard about lost time when the topic is recycling.

And what are those 16 minutes spent doing? Sorting, extracting, rinsing, bundling, and stomping. In Seattle, household batteries can be put into the garbage, but not rechargeable batteries. Plastic soda bottles can be recycled, but not plastic flower pots. Plastic shopping bags go into the recycle bin (bundle them first), but not plastic produce bags or plastic freezer wrap bags. Plastic cottage cheese tubs, yes, but not plastic six-pack rings. Frozen food boxes go into the recycle bin, but not paper plates. Cardboard, sure, but not if a pizza came in it, and make sure to flatten the box. And remove any tape. Cereal boxes, yes, but pull out the liner. Typing paper, of course, but sort out the paper punch holes, as those little dots can't be recycled. Hardback books, okay, but wrestle off the covers. Metal hangers, yes: aluminum foil, no. Tin cans, you bet, but rinse them, and push the lid down into the can. No loose lids can go in the recycle bin. And no confetti.

So at least it's a fun 16 minutes. There are out-of-pocket expenses, too: Rod Kauffman, president of the Building Owners and Managers Association of Seattle and King County, says this sorting will add 10 percent to a building's janitorial bills.

IF WE WEREN'T RECYCLING, wouldn't the landfills soon overflow? Al Gore certainly thinks so, as he claimed we are "running out of ways to dispose of our waste in a manner that keeps it out of either sight or mind." Nonsense. Clemson Professor Daniel K. Benjamin notes that rather than running out of space, overall capacity is growing. "In fact," he says, "the United States today has more landfill capacity than ever before." He adds that the total land area required to contain every scrap of this country's garbage for the next 100 years would be only 10 miles square. The Nevada Policy Research Institute's numbers are even more dramatic: an area 44 miles square and 120 feet deep would handle all of America's garbage for the next millennium.

America's image of landfills was fixed decades ago, and is that of Staten Island's Fresh Kills, a vast swampy expanse of detritus, with huge Caterpillar tractors trundling over it, and clouds of seagulls obscuring everything above ground. Fresh Kills received New York's garbage for 53 years before it was closed in 2001. Modern landfills have nothing in common with the place. Benjamin says that new landfills are located far from groundwater supplies, and are built on thick clay beds that are covered with plastic liners, on top of which goes another layer of sand or gravel. Pipes remove leachate, which is then treated at wastewater plants. Escaping gas is burned or sold. A park or golf course or industrial development eventually goes over the landfill.

Fresh Kills also looked dangerous, a veritable soup of deadly poisons and nasty chemicals, seeping and dissolving and dispersing. But that's not the case with new landfills. Daniel Benjamin writes, "According to the EPA's own estimates, modern landfills can be expected to cause 5.7 cancer-related deaths over the next 300 years--just one death every 50 years. To put this in perspective, cancer kills over 560,000 people every year in the United States."

But what about saving precious resources by recycling? Almost 90 percent of this country's paper comes from renewable forests, and to say we will someday run out of trees is the same as saying we will some day run out of corn. According to Jerry Taylor, we are growing 22 million acres of new forest each year, and we harvest 15 million acres, for a net annual gain of 7 million acres. The United States has almost four times more forested land today than it did 80 years ago.

Are we running out of that other staple of recycle bins, glass? All those wine and beer bottles are manufactured from silica dioxide, the fancy term for sand, which Jay Lehr points out is the most abundant mineral in the earth's crust. Nor will we ever suffer a shortage of plastic, which is made from petroleum byproducts. Today more petroleum reserves are being discovered than are being used up. And plastics can now also be synthesized from farm products. Lehr concludes, "We are not running out of, nor will we ever run out of, any of the resources we recycle."

Why then do we go to all this trouble for so little--or no--reward? Lehr says it's because "we get a warm and fuzzy feeling when we recycle." Richard Sandbrook who was executive director of the International Institute for Environment and Development, said, "Environmentalists refuse to countenance any argument which undermines their sacred cow." The Seattle Times concludes, "Recycling is almost a religion in Seattle." An irrational religion, says Professor Frank Ackerman, who specializes in environment policy at Tufts University. But his arguments cut little weight here in the Northwest. We attend the church of recycling, where perfervid faith compensates for lack of factual support.

More here

Enviros' agenda is selfishness and greed: "In some cities, housing prices have actually declined as the housing supply has expanded. None of this is rocket science. It is supply and demand. Why then are there particular places where housing costs have skyrocketed? In those places, much of the land is prevented by law from being used to build housing. These land use restrictions are seldom called land use restrictions. They are called by much prettier names, like 'open space' laws, laws to 'preserve farmland' or prevent 'sprawl,' 'greenbelt' laws -- or whatever else will sell politically. People who already own their own homes don't worry about whether such laws will drive housing prices sky high. Somebody else will have to pay those prices while existing homeowners see the value of their property rise by leaps and bounds. Meanwhile, land that might otherwise provide homes for others becomes in effect free park land for themselves, while such upscale communities use 'open space' laws to keep out the masses. The crowning touch is that such self-interest is depicted as idealism."


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 blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Friday, January 27, 2006


The Bush administration would allow some limited pesticide testing on children and pregnant women under controversial rules set to be made final as early as this week. After fielding some 50,000 public comments on its earlier human-testing proposals, the Environmental Protection Agency is setting out final rules that officials call tough and fair. But California Democrats and environmentalists are raising an outcry, and courts could remain busy sorting it all out. "The fact that EPA allows pesticide testing of any kind on the most vulnerable, including abused and neglected children, is simply astonishing," Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said Monday.

The new rules would prohibit regulators from using so-called "intentional exposure" research that involved children or pregnant women. But under what regulators described as "narrowly defined circumstances," such research could still be used - if the researcher hadn't originally intended to submit the results to the EPA. The new rules require researchers to document their compliance with ethical guidelines, but exempt certain overseas tests. Testing on adults could proceed, following review by a new Human Studies Review Board that could "comment on" but not stop a proposed experiment. "EPA does not want to ignore potentially important information," the agency says in its final rule. "At the same time, the agency's conduct should encourage high ethical standards in research with human subjects."

On Monday, Boxer and several California colleagues were one step ahead of the EPA, which hadn't yet formally released the final rules protecting human subjects. But a leaked draft of the new rules, spanning some 100 pages, spells out both the new regulations and how they will be presented to the public. "Message: the ethics and scientific value of human studies are topics of high public interest, and the agency has been deliberating its position," the EPA's written "communications plan" states. EPA officials could not be reached for comment Monday.

The issue is particularly important in California, where farmers and others applied 644 million pounds of pesticides in 2003. It's also closely watched by church and environmental groups, which raise red flags over human testing, as well as by manufacturers, which can rely on testing to secure necessary approval permits. "Humans process some substances differently from animals," the EPA notes in its final rule, scheduled for publication in the Federal Register. "Studies of this kind can provide essential support for safety monitoring programs. Animal data alone can sometimes provide an incomplete or misleading picture of a substance's safety or risk."

The 50,000 comments received by the EPA since September showcase the level of public interest, although regulators noted that 99 percent of the comments were part of an e-mail or organized letter-writing campaign.

More here


Comment from Benny Peiser on the religious fanatics running "Nature" magazine:

I noticed the paper by Raper and Braithwaite in which the authors come to the conclusion that the projected "sea level rise due to melting of mountain glaciers and icecaps to be 0.046 and 0.051 m by 2100, about half that of previous projections."

Half as bad as predicted - well, that's good news to anyone concerned about the potential impact of rising sea levels. So what do the editors of Nature decide to do with this piece of good news? They decide to undermine the paper as much as they can. Instead of writing up a feature or news story about their own paper, they publish an online story about a paper published in GRL that essentially contradicts their own authors.

The GRL authors say "the acceleration they have detected since 1870 matches up nicely with model predictions: if the acceleration continues as expected, by 2100 the seas will lap the shore about 31 centimetres higher, on average, than they did in 1990. That matches what has been forecast by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)."

So, there you have it: An anti-alarmist paper published in Nature on Jan 19 estimates that global average sea-level rise due melting glaciers and icecaps by 2100 will be just 0.05 m (or half of what previous models have predicted) - accompanied by a news story on Nature's website that claims that sea-level rise is accelerating, a finding that "matches what has been forecast by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)." Nature's news service highlighted the IPCC-confirming GRL paper while it failed to even mention the model-revising paper in the same Jan 19 issue. It would have been prudent for Nature to provide a balanced report on the two conflicting papers. Needless to say that the claim of an accelerating global sea-level is highly contentious.


(From Proceedings of the Royal Society A, January 2006)

Empirical evidence for a nonlinear effect of galactic cosmic rays on clouds

By R. Giles Harrison and David B. Stephenson


Galactic cosmic ray (GCR) changes have been suggested to affect weather and climate, and new evidence is presented here directly linking GCRs with clouds. Clouds increase the diffuse solar radiation, measured continuously at UK surface meteorological sites since 1947. The ratio of diffuse to total solar radiation-the diffuse fraction (DF)-is used to infer cloud, and is compared with the daily mean neutron count rate measured at Climax, Colorado from 1951-2000, which provides a globally representative indicator of cosmic rays. Across the UK, on days of high cosmic ray flux (above 3600X10^2 neutron counts hK1, which occur 87% of the time on average) compared with low cosmic ray flux, (i) the chance of an overcast day increases by (19+/-4)%, and (ii) the diffuse fraction increases by (2+/-0.3)%. During sudden transient reductions in cosmic rays (e.g. Forbush events), simultaneous decreases occur in the diffuse fraction. The diffuse radiation changes are, therefore, unambiguously due to cosmic rays. Although the statistically significant nonlinear cosmic ray effect is small, it will have a considerably larger aggregate effect on longer timescale (e.g. centennial) climate variations when day-to-day variability averages out.


5. Discussion

This study has found a small yet statistically significant effect of cosmic rays on daily cloudiness regionally that supports the global results from satellite data (Marsh & Svensmark 2000). The method used is independent of the satellite results, and uses data from different surface sites extending over a longer period. Likely physical mechanisms have been previously hypothesized (Carslaw et al. 2002; Harrison & Carslaw 2003), firstly ion-induced formation of aerosol and cloud condensation nuclei (Yu & Turco 2001) and, secondly, electrically enhanced freezing of supercooled droplets (Tinsley et al. 2000; Tripathi & Harrison 2002).

In a previous detailed case study using data from Kew, increases in DF and Climax neutron data occurred simultaneously with ion growth, which was associated with the first physical mechanism (Harrison 2005). The nonlinear behaviour in figure 2a supports this, as, in the low aerosol limit (Harrison & Carslaw 2003), ion number concentration n varies with ion production rate q as nfq1/2. Assuming linear relationships between (i) X and q (Aplin et al. 2005), (ii) aerosol formed and n (Vohra et al. 1969) and (iii) DF and aerosol amount (Unsworth & Monteith 1972), DF in the non-overcast case would vary as X1/2. A power law fit to the Jersey data (for 3800X10^2 hK1 and DF!0.9) gave DFfX0.5G0.1. The transient DF response shown in figure 4 occurs within the daily timescale resolved: this is consistent with the modelling work of Yu & Turco (2001), who showed that the growth of ions to particles sufficiently large to act as cloud condensation nuclei had a timescale of about 8 h.

The possibility that rainfall influences particle formation was suggested in 3b. Aerosol and trace vapours are scavenged by precipitation and frequent precipitation events will prevent substantial aerosol populations forming (Carslaw et al. 2002). Charged aerosols are also preferentially removed over neutral aerosol (Tinsley et al. 2000; Tripathi & Harrison 2002). The effect of precipitation processes may be evident in the DF response to cosmic ray changes, as Eskdalemuir, where the effect is small (1.2%), has substantial annual rainfall, but the sites showing the biggest DF sensitivity have much lower rainfall (Cambridge 552 mm yrK1 and Jersey 860 mm yrK1).

Changes in DF and the frequency of overcast days represent changes in the weather and the atmospheric energy balance. The decrease in the proportion of direct solar radiation associated with an increase in DF will lead to a local reduction in daytime surface temperature. Further, because the net global effect of cloud is cooling (Hartman 1993), any widespread increase in the overcast days could also reduce temperature. At Reading, the measured sensitivity of daily average temperatures to DF for overcast days is K0.2 K per 0.01 change in DF (for 1997-2004). Consequently the inverse relationship between GCR and solar activity will lead to cooling at solar minimum. This might amplify the effect of the small solar cycle variation in total solar irradiance, believed to be underestimated by climate models (Stott et al. 2003), which neglect a cosmic ray effect.

In summary, our data analysis confirms the existence of a small, yet statistically robust, cosmic ray effect on clouds, that will emerge on long time scales with less variability than the considerable variability of daily cloudiness.


(From CO2 Science Magazine, 25 January 2006)

With this issue of CO2 Science, we launch our Medieval Warm Period Project, wherein each week we describe, analyze, tabulate and plot (on both graphs and maps) the findings of a different peer-reviewed scientific journal article that describes this multi-century period of significant warmth that occurred about a thousand years ago.

Why did we institute the project?

Climate alarmists claim that temperatures over the latter part of the 20th century were higher than those experienced at any other time over the past one to two millennia, based primarily on the work of (Mann et al. (1998, 1999) and Mann and Jones (2003). Their reason for doing so is to use this claim to support their related claim that anthropogenic CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels have caused dramatic global warming, which if allowed to continue will produce a number of catastrophic consequences. We intend to disprove the first of these claims, so as to remove support for the second claim, by demonstrating that about 1000 years ago, when there was approximately 25% less CO2 in the atmosphere than there is currently, temperatures throughout the entire world were equally as high as (or even higher than) they were over the latter part of the 20th century. This real-world data-based fact should conclusively demonstrate that there is nothing unnatural about the planet's current level of warmth, and that it is likely caused by the recurrence of whatever cyclical phenomenon created the equal or even greater warmth of the Medieval Warm Period.

What elements comprise the project?

The first element of our Medieval Warm Period Project is a tabular listing of all Study Descriptions and Results, which are organized under separate subheadings for each of the world's seven continents. Within each of these subheadings there are (or ultimately will be) three tables: one for Level 1 Studies, one for Level 2 Studies, and one for Level 3 Studies. The first of these categories is comprised of studies where the scientists who conducted the work (not us) provide quantitative data that enable one to determine the degree by which the peak temperature of the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) differed from the peak temperature of the Current Warm Period (CWP). The second category is comprised of studies where the scientists who conducted the work provide qualitative data that enable one to determine which of the two periods was warmer, but not by how much. The third category is comprised of studies where the MWP was evident in the study's data, but where the data did not provide a means by which the warmth of the MWP could be compared with that of the CWP.

The second element of our MWP Project is a graphical representation of the quantitative results of all Level 1 studies, where we present a plot of the frequency distribution of all MWP-CWP Temperature Differentials. The third element is an Interactive Map and Time Domain Plot of all of the studies' results. The map, which can be viewed at different degrees of magnification, pinpoints the locations of all studies in the project's database, identifies each study's level of sophistication (1, 2 or 3), and provides a link to each study's particulars in the Study Descriptions and Results part of the project, while just below the map is a graph of the frequency distribution of the time intervals over which the MWP was determined to have occurred. Last of all, the fourth and fifth elements of the project are simply enumerations of all of the scientists and research institutions involved with the work of the several studies, which comprise, respectively, our List of Participating Scientists and List of Participating Research Institutions.

What will be accomplished by the project?

Our Medieval Warm Period Project will ultimately host a readily-accessible collection of totally independent databases that far exceeds the number of databases employed in the long-term temperature reconstructions that are used by climate alarmists to promote their claim that the latter part of the 20th century was warmer than any other similar period of the past one to two millennia. And from what we already know, based on information currently in our possession, our Medieval Warm Period Project will clearly demonstrate the invalidity of this claim, as the evidence we present continues to accumulate ... week after week after week.


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 blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Thursday, January 26, 2006


As Wok Hughes will tell you. Or see my post of 24 Dec. 05

Last year was the warmest in a century, nosing out 1998, a federal analysis concludes. Researchers calculated that 2005 produced the highest annual average surface temperature worldwide since instrument recordings began in the late 1800s, said James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The result confirms a prediction the institute made in December. In a telephone interview, Hansen said the analysis estimated temperatures in the Arctic from nearby weather stations because no direct data were available. Because of that, "we couldn't say with 100 percent certainty that it's the warmest year, but I'm reasonably confident that it was," Hansen said. More important, he said, is that 2005 reached the warmth of 1998 without help of the "El Nino of the century" that pushed temperatures up in 1998. Over the past 30 years, Earth has warmed a bit more than 1 degree in total, making it about the warmest it's been in 10,000 years, Hansen said. He blamed a buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. Jay Lawrimore of the federal government's National Climatic Data Center said his own center's current data suggest 2005 came in a close second to 1998, in part because of how the Arctic was factored in. But he said a forthcoming analysis "will likely show that 2005 is slightly warmer than 1998."



A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of a U.S. Forest Service logging project near Meadow Valley, handing the agency a crucial legal victory in its efforts to implement federal legislation designed to provide jobs and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire. In a decision filed Thursday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the Forest Service properly evaluated the environmental impacts of logging more than 40 million board feet of timber around the community five miles west of Quincy. The ruling rejects an appeal filed by four environmental organizations seeking to force the Forest Service to study more fully the combined effects of the Meadow Valley and adjacent logging, much of it in the planning stages.

The judges said the Forest Service "took the requisite 'hard look'" at the cumulative effects of the logging - past, present and future. The agency's environmental study adequately analyzed the risks associated with logging debris, and the direct and indirect effects on the California spotted owl, the judges said. The appeals court also found that the Forest Service did not arbitrarily or capriciously restrict the scope of its cumulative impacts review.

The ruling affirms a May 9 decision by U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. that found the agency's analysis of both specific and cumulative effects of the project adequate under federal regulations. England refused to halt logging during the appeal process.

Plumas Forest Supervisor Jim Pena said the recent ruling allows him to carry out the mandates of the 1998 Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery Act, inspired by a coalition of local timber industry, civic and environmental leaders. "Tremendous amounts of work and effort have been accomplished in the planning and implementation of the Meadow Valley project. We are pleased to be able to continue this important work," Pe¤a said.

Craig Thomas, director of the Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign, one of the plaintiffs, said he was disappointed by the decision. The Forest Service victory does not resolve the complex issues and the threat of environmental damage involved in the Quincy Library Group logging, he said....

The Meadow Valley project is part of the Quincy legislation's plan to log about 1.4 billion board feet of timber on the Plumas, Lassen and Tahoe national forests in the northern Sierra Nevada. At least six other projects are in the planning process, most of them employing a controversial tactic that removes all trees less then 30 inches in diameter within plots up to 2 acres.

The environmental plaintiffs have challenged three projects in addition to Meadow Valley. They forced the Forest Service to revamp two of them, one on an appeal that was upheld by the agency's regional office. The environmentalists lost a third appeal and are considering whether to file legal action, Thomas said Monday.

Plumas County Supervisor Rose Comstock called last week's appeals court decision "great news" for the Meadow Valley area, which she represents. "This decision is truly a win-win situation for our local economy, the environment and the communities who are surrounded by national forests in need of management," said Comstock, a member of the Quincy Library Group.


Snowstorm Closes Hawaii Volcano To Tourists: Rare Event Causes Concern, Surprise

It's all due to that global warming, I tell you

Officials closed the summit of Hawaii's Mauna Kea volcano to the public after a snowstorm shut down access for the first time this winter season. Clouds blanketed Hawaii's tallest peak this weekend. A blanket of snow forced everyone to evacuate, including park rangers. "We've got to make sure and keep everybody healthy and safe on the summit. So, I'm closing it," Mauna Kea ranger Kimo Pihana said.

The heavy snowfall was a rare sight, even for those who are up there almost every day. The snow began to accumulate very quickly and we had to evacuate to prevent being trapped on the summit," telescope operator Paul Sears said. A California family was at the summit when the snow started falling, before the road was shut down. "Did you ever think you'd see snow in Hawaii?" a reporter asked. "Wasn't really expecting to see snow in Hawaii," said Bob Nyman. "So it's a nice treat on your vacation?" the reporter asked. "Oh absolutely. It was great," Nyman said.


(HT Mike Jericho)

Global "warming" now killing lots of people across Europe

Plummeting temperatures and icy winds have claimed up to 300 lives across Europe as Russia’s big freeze spreads westwards. The Arctic chill has closed schools, frozen out hospital wards, cracked railway lines and immobilised motorways, airports and river traffic. The worst-hit country is Poland where 161 people have died as a result of the weather. But the freezing temperatures have caused problems as far west as France. Even the Acropolis in Athens has been closed because of ice.

Northern and Central Europe are used to harsh winters, but even these weather-hardened regions were struggling yesterday to stave off chaos. Public transport has broken down in many parts of Poland, where some temperatures fell to minus 35C (-31F). Bus drivers clambered under their vehicles with blow torches in a vain attempt to defreeze their fuel tanks. From Moscow to Berlin, would-be motorists tried to thaw the frozen locks of their cars with cigarette lighters.

A surge in demand for heating fuel has distorted energy supplies. Russia is consuming so much gas that supplies to other Eastern European countries are being restricted. The cold is also causing problems in nuclear plants, where vital instruments are freezing over. One reactor block has been closed down in the Temelin power plant in the Czech Republic.

Coal, heating oil, petrol and even firewood are in short supply. In Cracow in southern Poland, the authorities have been piling up coal in parks to keep the population supplied. Moscow is experiencing its coldest winter since 1978. When temperatures plunged to minus 22C in Podolsk, a city outside Moscow, the district heating system collapsed. Pipes carrying heat to 26 high-rise buildings froze, leaving 12,000 people stuck in apartments that were colder than most refrigerators.

Rescue services are at breaking point in the Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary as radiators crack and power cuts trap residents in lifts. Hypothermia is the biggest threat. More than 400 people have been treated in hospital in Ukraine. The death toll in Eastern Europe was climbing yesterday as quickly as the temperatures were dropping. More than eighty people have been reported dead in Russia, dozens in the Baltic republics and Ukraine, five in Germany and sixteen in Romania since the beginning of the cold spell. In France, a homeless man was found frozen to death in Joinville-le-Pont, southeast of Paris.

Countries used to gentle winter temperatures are reeling. Snow and high winds in northern Greece brought air traffic to a standstill. In Istanbul, car owners have been told to leave their vehicles at home as snow and ice have led to too many crashes.

Most of the victims are the homeless and the isolated elderly. Charity workers have been trawling the underground tunnels of Berlin and taking the homeless to shelters as temperatures dropped to the lowest for 64 years. Banks are turning a blind eye to tramps spending the night in their foyers.

City authorities in Warsaw have urged wealthier Poles to help the poor with food and clothing. Braziers are being set up at street corners. “The problem is, there is nowhere really warm to go,” Wojciech Brylski, the head of a Warsaw photo agency, said. “It is cold at work — people are sitting in fur hats and coats — it is cold at home, and those buses and trams still running are like ice boxes.” In Russia, a circus in Yaroslavl is warming elephants with vodka, rubbing brandy into the chest of a performing lion and spooning wine into monkeys. The authorities in Russia, Germany and Poland have warned humans against a similar remedy. “Many of the casualties in Eastern Europe so far have been drunks,” Frank Zander, a campaigner for the homeless in Berlin, said. “They are less sensitive to the cold — and then it suddenly hits them, with fatal effects.”



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 blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.