Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A New Theory to Explain the Frog Declines??

Rampant dishonesty about frog populations

Scientists around the world are worried about frogs. Many frog populations are in decline, and we don't know why. We've found some small clues: something called the ranovirus is hampering efforts to restore leopard frog populations in Alberta, Canada, where they were once abundant. The chytrid fungus, which has caused frog die-offs in Australia, Africa, and Central America, has also been found in the United States.

Some false leads have also been run down. When Minnesota school kids found deformed frogs in some local ponds, the finger of accusation was pointed at pesticides. Now, the deformities have been traced to a natural parasite, the trematode, which burrows into the just-forming leg joints of tadpoles.

The absence of yellow-legged frogs in some California mountain lakes had been blamed on pesticide-laden dust rising from the intensively farmed San Joaquin Valley. However, when the fish management teams stopped stocking the mountain lakes with hungry trout, the frogs returned in large numbers.

Pesticides are still a favorite bogyman of concerned frog lovers on Internet blogs, however, and there's no shortage of funding--or publicity--or researchers blaming frog declines on farm chemicals. Guilt is a powerful human motivator, and we love to flog ourselves over the ways in which the modern world feeds itself. That may explain the latest in a long string of publications by Tyrone Hayes from the University of California/Berkeley. Hayes' article in Environmental Health Perspectives, April, 2006, is titled: "Pesticide Mixtures, Endocrine Disruption, and Amphibian Declines: Are We Underestimating the Impact?

Hayes tested Boston-pedigree frogs with the extremely low-concentration mix of nine pesticides (each at only 0.1 part per billion) that they might encounter in midwestern farming areas. He says in the abstract of the paper that frogs exposed to his dilute pesticide cocktail took longer to metamorphose to adults (by about two weeks), but "most significantly" that frog larvae "that took longer to metamorphose were smaller than their counterparts that metamorphosed earlier." That sounds ominous. Hayes suggests this could be a big factor in frog declines. Hayes' previous ominous suggestions have been enough to get him interviewed on National Public Radio, filmed by the BBC, quoted by the New York Times, and featured in the Los Angeles Times.

In the body of this paper, however, Hayes reveals that the relationship between the time to complete metamorphosis and the frogs' size at emergence was either not statistically significant (when measured by length) or only barely so (weight)! It gets worse. Hayes has no real-world evidence for any breeding-related conclusions. Why not? Neither he nor anyone else has ever solved the mystery of getting frogs to reproduce in a laboratory without injecting them with artificial hormones that would automatically ruin Hayes' hormone-centered experiments.

Worst of all for Hayes' argument: He found frogs "present by the thousands" in 2001 in a drainage ditch between two irrigated cornfields in York County, Nebraska. That's where he also found the pesticide mixture he says causes problems. Hayes then shows a photo of the same ditch two years later, after the farmer stopped planting corn and therefore stopped irrigating the field--"causing 100 percent failure of the [frog] population at this site."

Hmm. Hayes says exposing Boston-pedigree frogs to a super-low concentration of nine pesticides in a lab delays their development and might make them smaller, all of which might add up to population crash in the real world. But the real-world Nebraska frogs thrived in the pesticide-tinged irrigation ditch until the farmer cut off the water. Meanwhile, frogs have been disappearing in lots of remote places where no pesticides are used. Do we need a new theory on frog declines?



(From NCPA, 15 May 2006)

By David R. Legates, Ph.D., C.C.M. (Dr. Legates is the Delaware State Climatologist, among other distinctions)

Executive Summary

Scientific debate continues regarding the extent to which human activities contribute to global warming and what the potential impact on the environment might be. Importantly, much of the scientific evidence contradicts assertions that substantial global warming is likely to occur soon and that the predicted warming will harm the Earth's biosphere.

The Earth's climate began a warming trend after the "Little Ice Age" ended in the mid-1800s, long before global industrial development led to substantial increases in greenhouse gases beginning in the middle of the 20th century. About half of the warming during the 20th century occurred prior to the 1940s, and natural variability accounts for all or nearly all of the warming.

To assess future climate trends, climatologists rely upon General Circulation Models (GCMs) that attempt to describe Earth's climate. The many climate models in use vary widely with respect to the variables they include and in the assumptions they make about how those variables interact. Yet some official reports, including the U.S. National Assessment published in 2000, report only the most extreme predictions, ignoring others that project only moderate warming in the 21st century.

Global warming alarmists have attributed increases in hurricanes, floods, droughts, tornadoes, hail storms and heat waves to global warming caused by human activities. However, the evidence does not support their claims. In recent months, for instance:

The unprecedented destruction caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita was blamed on climate change - but experts say recent, more powerful storms are part of a natural cycle, and greater hurricane damage in North America is due to increased coastal populations and development rather than more severe storms.

Similar claims have been made about other weather phenomena in North America ; but, in fact, there is no evidence of an increase in the frequency or severity of floods, droughts, tropical cyclones, tornadoes, hail storms or other severe weather events.

Some have attempted to link the present warming trend to secondary effects, such as species extinction. However, the relationship between species extinction and climate change is even more tenuous. For example:

Recent claims that polar bear populations are threatened by global warming ignore the fact that only two polar bear populations are declining, others are increasing in numbers and the majority have stable populations.

Recent claims that coral reefs are "bleaching" (losing color and dying off) due to warming oceans ignore the evidence that bleaching appears to be a healthy response in which corals expel one symbiotic species of algae for a better-adapted species that allows corals to thrive in warmer waters.

It has also been claimed that low-lying coastal areas are endangered due to rises in sea level as the Arctic pack ice, glaciers and the mile-thick Greenland Ice Sheet melt in a warming climate. However, the evidence does not show this is occurring:

* The fact that parts of the Arctic Ocean are ice-free in the summer is said to be evidence that sea ice and the pack ice along the Arctic coast are disappearing; but changing wind patterns pushing the ice around, not rising temperatures, are responsible for navigable Arctic waters.

* In Alaska, home to many glaciers, several decades of increasingly colder temperatures in the middle of the 20th century preceded a more recent return to the average temperatures of the early 20th century.

* Temperatures at the peak of the Greenland Ice Sheet show it is actually growing colder.

* Sea levels have been rising - in fact, they have been rising since the end of the last ice age 20,000 years ago - but there is no evidence of an accelerating trend.

The complexity of the climate and the limitations of data and computer models mean projections of future climate change are unreliable at best. In sum, the science does not support claims of drastic increases in global temperatures over the 21st century, nor does it support claims of human influence on weather events and other secondary effects of climate change.



It was five years before the turn of the century and major media were warning of disastrous climate change. Page six of The New York Times was headlined with the serious concerns of "geologists." Only the president at the time wasn't Bill Clinton; it was Grover Cleveland. And the Times wasn't warning about global warming - it was telling readers the looming dangers of a new ice age. The year was 1895, and it was just one of four different time periods in the last 100 years when major print media predicted an impending climate crisis. Each prediction carried its own elements of doom, saying Canada could be "wiped out" or lower crop yields would mean "billions will die."

Just as the weather has changed over time, so has the reporting - blowing hot or cold with short-term changes in temperature. Following the ice age threats from the late 1800s, fears of an imminent and icy catastrophe were compounded in the 1920s by Arctic explorer Donald MacMillan and an obsession with the news of his polar expedition. As the Times put it on Feb. 24, 1895, "Geologists Think the World May Be Frozen Up Again."

Those concerns lasted well into the late 1920s. But when the earth's surface warmed less than half a degree, newspapers and magazines responded with stories about the new threat. Once again the Times was out in front, cautioning "the earth is steadily growing warmer."

After a while, that second phase of climate cautions began to fade. By 1954, Fortune magazine was warming to another cooling trend and ran an article titled "Climate - the Heat May Be Off." As the United States and the old Soviet Union faced off, the media joined them with reports of a more dangerous Cold War of Man vs. Nature. The New York Times ran warming stories into the late 1950s, but it too came around to the new fears. Just three decades ago, in 1975, the paper reported: "A Major Cooling Widely Considered to Be Inevitable."

That trend, too, cooled off and was replaced by the current era of reporting on the dangers of global warming. Just six years later, on Aug. 22, 1981, the Times quoted seven government atmospheric scientists who predicted global warming of an "almost unprecedented magnitude."

In all, the print news media have warned of four separate climate changes in slightly more than 100 years - global cooling, warming, cooling again, and, perhaps not so finally, warming. Some current warming stories combine the concepts and claim the next ice age will be triggered by rising temperatures - the theme of the 2004 movie "The Day After Tomorrow."

Recent global warming reports have continued that trend, morphing into a hybrid of both theories. News media that once touted the threat of "global warming" have moved on to the more flexible term "climate change." As the Times described it, climate change can mean any major shift, making the earth cooler or warmer. In a March 30, 2006, piece on ExxonMobil's approach to the environment, a reporter argued the firm's chairman "has gone out of his way to soften Exxon's public stance on climate change." The effect of the idea of "climate change" means that any major climate event can be blamed on global warming, supposedly driven by mankind.

Spring 2006 has been swamped with climate change hype in every type of media - books, newspapers, magazines, online, TV and even movies. One-time presidential candidate Al Gore, a patron saint of the environmental movement, is releasing "An Inconvenient Truth" in book and movie form, warning, "Our ability to live is what is at stake."

Despite all the historical shifting from one position to another, many in the media no longer welcome opposing views on the climate. CBS reporter Scott Pelley went so far as to compare climate change skeptics with Holocaust deniers. "If I do an interview with [Holocaust survivor] Elie Wiesel," Pelley asked, "am I required as a journalist to find a Holocaust denier?" he said in an interview on March 23 with CBS News's PublicEye blog. He added that the whole idea of impartial journalism just didn't work for climate stories. "There becomes a point in journalism where striving for balance becomes irresponsible," he said.

Pelley's comments ignored an essential point: that 30 years ago, the media were certain about the prospect of a new ice age. And that is only the most recent example of how much journalists have changed their minds on this essential debate. Some in the media would probably argue that they merely report what scientists tell them, but that would be only half true. Journalists decide not only what they cover; they also decide whether to include opposing viewpoints. That's a balance lacking in the current "debate." This isn't a question of science. It's a question of whether Americans can trust what the media tell them about science.

Business and Media Institute, May 2006

The expensive legacy of Greenie correctness in Queensland, Australia

Greenies set up such a howl whenever a dam is proposed that few politicians have been game to risk it. Now vastly more costly private water storage is needed

Rainwater tanks would be mandatory in new Queensland homes and households would be offered cash rebates to be water wise, under a plan by the State Opposition. A coalition government would also fast-track $500 million in southeast Queensland water infrastructure, including dams, as part of a plan to tackle the state's growing water crisis. Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg today plans to detail his party's water policy, which will include a $100 million kitty to fund "green rebates" for Queenslanders who install tanks and other water-friendly devices in their homes.

A cornerstone of the policy is the requirement for rainwater tanks to be installed in all new homes built where there is a reticulated water supply. "It will take the pressure off the supplies and people will become a little more self-sufficient. It's a commonsense way of being able to get more water quickly," he said. "It will take years to build dams . . . but one of the ways you can actually start conserving water is to catch what's falling off people's roofs." Mr Springborg said the proposal could save billions of litres and would be rolled out first in southeast Queensland.

Rebates would also be offered to Queenslanders who purchased other water-saving devices such as AAA-rated showerheads, water-efficient washing machines, swimming pool covers, dual-flush toilets and water flow regulators. The Opposition estimates the installation of these devices as part of the rebate scheme could save more than 150,000 litres of water each year. Mr Springborg said it was essential to implement short-term water-saving policies while longer-term projects such as dams would take time being built. "We know that we need dams . . . but we're still looking at five years down the track and we've got a water crisis that's going to be hitting in a few months," he said.

Today's policy will be the first major infrastructure announcement by the Coalition and is expected to detail significant water projects. The $500 million in water infrastructure is likely to include dam sites other than those already flagged by the Beattie Labor Government on the Mary River at Traveston and near Rathdowney. The Opposition has already promised it will fast-track construction of the Wyaralong Dam, between Boonah and Jimboomba, southwest of Brisbane. It is expected to build on the $1 billion in dams planned by the previous Coalition Government eight years ago, but has confirmed it could not resurrect the Wolffdene dam.



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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