Thursday, March 16, 2006


As a regular Sushi eater, I take this seriously!

Ah, fish. Not only are they tasty and usually low-fat, they're chock-full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, high-quality protein, essential nutrients, and. poisonous levels of mercury?

After reading recent media reports, you'd think we all need to give up fish right now in order to avoid dying from too much mercury consumption. Eat too much sushi, and you might as well be the next one chopped up and dipped in soy sauce. But how much faith should we really put into these reports?

The problem is that two interest groups are fighting to control the debate. On the one side, industry-hating Greens are hyping the dangers of mercury as part of a campaign to insert more regulations into the Clean Air Act. After all, some of the mercury in the world's water supply is a result of contamination by power plants.

On the other side, the food industry is looking out for its own. Some of these groups are out to convince Americans that there's nothing to be worried about. In the end, consumers should be thoughtful and educated. By examining the facts and not overreacting, we can have our fish and eat it too.

The Facts

The Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency tend to lean on different sides of the fish debate - the FDA on the side of consumption, and the EPA on the side of caution. But in 2004, they issued a joint report for those most at risk of mercury harm (mothers-to-be, nursing moms, and young children). The agencies offered three common-sense recommendations that will allow women and children to "receive the benefits of eating fish and shellfish and be confident that they have reduced their exposure to the harmful effects of mercury." These recommendations are what doctors often hand to their pregnancy-minded patients.

In addition to heeding the recommendations in this report, we can look at the guidelines of what constitutes a risky level of mercury consumption. The environmental groups panic when tests show that mercury levels exceed the FDA and EPA's recommended limits - but those limits have a 1000% safety margin built into them. In other words, there's probably no reason to worry if you're above the limit - unless you're 800% over it. And you'll rarely find someone with that level unless her legs turn into fins in the bathtub.

The FDA has written that its mercury "Action Level" of 1.0 part-per-million "was established to limit consumers' methyl mercury exposure to levels 10 times lower than the lowest levels associated with adverse effects." The same goes for the EPA's recommended "Reference Dose." As David Martosko of the the Center for Consumer Freedom said about the recent sushi scare, "Sounding health alarms about mercury levels this low is like worrying about driving a car at one-tenth the speed limit."

Debunking the Hype

Armed with these basic facts, you'll be able to debunk most of the scare reports yourself. For instance, when you hear that a Greenpeace report has found that "one in five women of childbearing age that were tested have mercury levels exceeding the EPA's recommended limit," you'll be able to ask: "How much were the levels exceeded - 1% or 800%?"

Then, even if you didn't realize that Greenpeace only published part of that study that it had funded (and not the part that found that "the current results do not provide evidence of an increasing or decreasing trend. in mercury concentrations for a given amount of fish consumption), you'll still be one step ahead of any of your neurotic friends. Let's look at what else the media is missing:

* A new study of Seychelles Islands indicates that mothers who ate a lot of fish during pregnancy had children who outperformed other kids whose mothers ate less fish.

* Alaska's Public Health Department tested the hair of eight 550-year-old Alaskan mummies for mercury and found levels averaging twice the blood-mercury concentration of today's Alaskans. (I love the Center for Consumer Freedom's response: "Perhaps those paleo-Inuits should have spent their time picketing mercury-spewing undersea volcanoes instead of fishing.")

* Dr. Joshua Cohen of Harvard University believes the health benefits of fish outweigh any potential risk, noting recently on Good Morning America, "If people ate more fish, then the number of heart attacks and strokes would decrease."

Now, I'm not going to tell you to throw caution to the wind and adopt an "eat, drink, for tomorrow we die" mentality. Those of you who are pregnant, nursing, or thinking of becoming pregnant in the next year should follow your doctors' recommendations, since children are at the most risk of having brain development affected by high doses of mercury.

The rest of you, however, should be able to eat your sushi, crab cakes, shrimp cocktails, and tuna fish sandwiches in moderation and with clear consciences. No need to miss out on the tastiness and health benefits of fish and shellfish because of a few nervous ninnies in the media.



The National Grid, responsible for running Britain's gas and electricity pipes and wires, yesterday issued an unprecedented warning that the country was in danger of not having enough gas to meet demand. It issued its first-ever "gas balancing alert" to the market, telling traders that gas demand might have to be reduced, initially for businesses. The move sent wholesale prices spiralling up fourfold.

The British gas supply market has been caught out by unexpectedly cold weather and a technical problem: the country's only significant gas storage facility on the Rough offshore field in the North Sea is out of action due to a fire. Centrica, which operates Rough and runs the British Gas residential supply firm, said it could not be sure when it would get the emergency supply facility back into action.

Wholesale gas prices have risen to their highest level in four months, increasing the likelihood of further hikes in domestic gas bills which have already increased by a quarter in recent weeks. The gas crisis will restart the political debate in the European Union about the continental energy market. Despite a pending shortage of gas in Britain which could lead to some manufacturing companies having their supplies cut off, there has been little help from France, Germany or the Netherlands where supplies are still plentiful. The price of wholesale gas in Britain hit 250p a therm yesterday, three times more than in the Netherlands. Despite this, London gas traders said they were struggling to source new supplies. The newly-enlarged Interconnector pipeline from continental Europes was running only half-full, they said.

National Grid confirmed it had posted a gas balancing alert but insisted that this did not mean the country was about to run out of gas. "It is just a signal to the market that there is an increased possibility that there might need to be a reduction in gas demand," said a spokesman. He added that some large industrial users might have to forego supplies. Centrica, parent group of British Gas, claimed that more severe weather than had been anticipated by meteorologists had taken energy traders and suppliers by surprise. But a spokesman for the company said no further residential price rises were planned at this time."We pushed through substantial increases so we are not intending to introduce another one," the spokesman said.

British Gas, which has 53% of the residential gas market, hit consumers with a 22% rise from March 1. This followed a 14% increase in September last year and a 12% hike 12 months earlier. The company has been offering domestic users the chance to fix the price of their gas supplies for up to four years while many industrial gas users have switched to alternative fuels. PowerGen, another major gas supplier which is owned by the German utility E.ON, has just raised its gas prices for domestic customers by 24.4%. Electricity prices have been increased 18.4% by PowerGen while most other suppliers have increased their energy prices but by smaller amounts.

The inability of traders to obtain new gas in Europe will infuriate British politicians and give further ammunition to the European commission which last week called for faster deregulation of continental markets. A lack of transparency means it has been hard to discover exactly where the bottlenecks are and why suppliers on the continent are not switching gas to Britain. Yesterday the spot price of gas in the Netherlands had reached 70p per therm. But the Interconnector pipeline to Britain was handling only 8m cubic metres, when it could handle 16m.

From The Guardian, 14 March 2006. I note that "The Guardian" does not know the difference between "forgo" and "forego"


By Alan Caruba

In the interest of full disclosure, I need to tell you that, years ago in the 1980s, I worked for a producer of a particularly effective pesticide that was applied with nothing more toxic than water. It is now, like so many other pesticides, not available to pest control professionals because it was literally forced off the market by the Environmental Protection Agency that insisted millions of dollars of testing be repeated for its continued registration. The company decided it just wasn't worth it. I have served as the public relations counselor to a state pest management association that began in 1941 when its founding members decided they needed to better understand the science involved with combating one of the most ancient vectors of disease and property damage, the billions of insect and rodent Pests that besiege us to this day. Over the years since then, they have invited scientists to educate their members to better serve their customers.

So, when I read yet another anti-pesticide news story in my daily newspaper, my first reaction was to heave a sigh of disgust and turn the page. My next reaction was the same one that caused me to create The National Anxiety Center to dispute the endless environmental lies designed to influence public opinion and policy. I got angry. "The nation's streams and rivers, from the Midwestern corn belt to the Hawaiian Islands to the suburbs of New Jersey are infused with dangerous pesticides, the U.S. Geological Survey reported yesterday." If you read no further than that first paragraph you would, like millions of other Americans, conclude that your health was endangered. You would be wrong.

Like all such newspaper and other media stories that sound the warning klaxon, you have to read further to discover there is no danger. Further into the story, you would learn that, "To what degree the findings represent a threat to human health is not certain. Most concentrations detected did not exceed federal human-health benchmarks." That was paragraph eight. In the next paragraph, the article notes that, "How the compounds may interact in the human body is poorly understood."

And, if you read still further, you would find a quote from Jay Vroom, president of Croplife America, that "Normal water purification procedures used by municipalities.would remove most traces of pesticides." The key word here is "traces" because the measurements trumpeted in the first paragraph reflect a million parts per gallon and even a billion parts per gallon. Translation? So little presence of pesticides as to constitute no health threat whatever. Moreover, your local water company removes those trace elements before you ever drink them. So why then is the sidebar to the article titled "Drink at your own risk"?

To scare you. That is the single operational mode of all environmental organizations and the data they serve up to the mainstream media that cleverly puts the scare in the first paragraph, confident that you are not likely to read to the end of the story, nor even understand that the threat they are describing is non-existent.

In a similar fashion, the nation's leading science magazines have become so debased by their alliance with environmentalists that one can no longer trust their latest "news." A case in point is a recent issue of Science magazine that reported Antarctica is melting. Two weeks earlier, it reported that Greenland was also losing big chunks of ice. Run for your life, the sea level is about to swamp all the coastal cities of the world. As Dr. Patrick Michaels noted on Tech Central Station, however, "Natural variability is sufficiently large on yearly and multidecadal time scales that it is simply impossible to conclude that anything other than natural variability is at play in either of those two stories." In other words, a study based on the last three years of ice mass cannot possibly be taken seriously. Unless, of course, you are an editor for Science magazine. If you are a scientist who follows such variations, you would know that over the course of the past several decades, the ocean-land system of Antarctica has been experiencing a growth in the amount of snow and ice. The lies the environmental movement has put forth over the last few decades can and does fill entire libraries. They have been aided and abetted by the mainstream media that knows that scary news sells newspapers and attracts views and listeners.

Spring is right around the corner as I write and I guarantee you that billions of insect and rodent pests are about to debut once more to plague homeowners, apartment dwellers, and everyone else. It's a good time to keep the phone number of your local pest management firm on the speed dial.


The government looks set to provoke another damaging row with the European Commission over greenhouse gas emissions by deliberately missing the deadline for allocating emissions allowances to British businesses. Under the terms of the European Union's emissions trading scheme, all member states must submit drafts of their "national allocation plans", detailing the amount of carbon dioxide they propose to allow businesses to emit, for the second phase of the scheme by the end of June. The first phase of the scheme began in 2005, while the second will run from 2008 to 2012.

But the government said that it would miss the June deadline, submitting the plan later in the summer instead. This will infuriate the Commission, which is at loggerheads with London over the government's attempt to raise the amount of carbon dioxide British businesses could emit under the first phase of the scheme. Brussels is demanding that governments submit their plans by June to give enough time to complete its assessment by mid-2007, since the next trading period will start in 2008. It says that such a timetable must be kept, given that it took a year to assess the original plans. A spokeswoman for Stavros Dimas, the EU's environment commissioner, pointed out that Brussels launched legal proceedings against the countries that missed the deadlines for the first national plans. The Commission is concerned that other member states will try to bend the rules for the scheme if the UK succeeds in doing so.

The government is believed to want to submit its draft allocation plan after other member states because of a perception that Britain was disadvantaged in the first phase of the scheme when it was first to submit its plan, with a tight limit on emissions. Other member states then submitted their plans with looser limits on greenhouse gases than the UK's. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: "Following public consultation, we aim to submit a [national allocation plan] to the Commission in the latter part of the summer in time to meet the deadline for the final installation-level allocations by December 31 2006."

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

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