Monday, June 18, 2007

Uganda's Director of Health Services, Dr. Sam Zaramba: Give Us DDT

Though Africa's sad experience with colonialism ended in the 1960s, a lethal vestige remains: malaria. It is the biggest killer of Ugandan and all African children. Yet it remains preventable and curable. Last week in Germany, G-8 leaders committed new resources to the fight against the mosquito-borne disease and promised to use every available tool. Now they must honor this promise by supporting African independence in the realm of disease control. We must be able to use Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane -- DDT...

In 2006, Uganda worked with President George Bush's Malaria Initiative to train 350 spray operators, supervisors and health officials. In August 2006 and again in February 2007, we covered 100,000 households in the southern Kabale district with the insecticide Icon. Nearly everyone welcomed this protection. The prevalence of the malaria parasite dropped. Today, just 3% of the local population carries the disease, down from 30%.

This exercise pays for itself. With 90% fewer people requiring anti-malarial medication and other public-health resources, more healthy adults work and more children attend school. When we repeated the test program in Kabale and neighboring Kanungu district this year, our spray teams required little new training and were rapidly mobilized. Our health officials at every level were able to educate our communities, implement spraying programs and evaluate operations. With each passing year, it will now be easier and less expensive to run the programs.

But DDT lasts longer, costs less and is more effective against malaria-carrying mosquitoes than Icon. It functions as spatial repellent to keep mosquitoes out of homes, as an irritant to prevent them from biting, and as a toxic agent to kill those that land. The repellency effect works without physical contact. And because we will never use the chemical in agriculture, DDT also makes mosquitoes less likely to develop resistance...

Africa is determined to rise above the contemporary colonialism that keeps us impoverished. We expect strong leadership in G-8 countries to stop paying lip service to African self-determination and start supporting solutions that are already working.


U.S. space monitoring of warming cut back

If you need satellites to detect it, I think that tells you how negligible the warming is

The Bush administration is drastically scaling back efforts to measure global warming from space, just as the president tries to convince the world the U.S. is ready to take the lead in reducing greenhouse gases. A confidential report to the White House, obtained by The Associated Press, warns that U.S. scientists will soon lose much of their ability to monitor warming from space using a costly and problem-plagued satellite initiative begun more than a decade ago. Because of technology glitches and a near-doubling in the original $6.5 billion cost, the Defense Department has decided to downsize and launch four satellites paired into two orbits, instead of six satellites paired in three orbits.

The satellites were intended to gather weather and climate data, replacing existing satellites as they come to the end of their useful lifetimes beginning in the next couple of years. The reduced system of four satellites will now focus on weather forecasting. Most of the climate instruments needed to collect more precise data over long periods are being eliminated. Instead, the Pentagon and two partners - the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA - will rely on European satellites for most of their climate data.

"Unfortunately, the recent loss of climate sensors ... places the overall climate program in serious jeopardy," NOAA and NASA scientists told the White House in the report. They said they will face major gaps in data that can be collected only from satellites: about ice caps and sheets, surface levels of seas and lakes, sizes of glaciers, surface radiation, water vapor, snow cover and atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Rick Piltz, director of Climate Science Watch, a watchdog program of the Washington-based Government Accountability Project, called the situation a crisis. "We're going to start being blinded in our ability to observe the planet," said Piltz, whose group provided the AP with the previously undisclosed report. "It's criminal negligence."

Bush has repeatedly cited his administration's record on researching global warming as a response to criticism of his opposition to forced reductions in the greenhouse gases blamed for it. The administration has been spending about $5 billion a year on global warming: $2 billion on climate research and $3 billion on technologies for combating it. Bush requested $331 million for work on the scaled-back satellite system next year in his fiscal 2008 budget proposal. Congress has yet to act on it.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academy of Sciences have both cautioned that downsizing the satellite program will result in major gaps in the continuity and quality of the data about Earth gathered from space. NASA and NOAA agreed in April to restore sensors that will enable the satellites to map ozone. NOAA Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher said that would give scientists a better idea of the content and distribution of atmospheric gases. But seven other climate sensors are still being eliminated or substantially downgraded by lower-quality equipment to save money, according to the report to the White House. Most of the satellites, which were scheduled to launch starting next year, have been delayed to between 2013 and 2026.

White House science adviser Jack Marburger, for whom the report was intended, acknowledged that climate scientists had been depending greatly on the planned satellites. "We're obviously very concerned about this," he said. "It got in trouble and we couldn't fit all those instruments on it ... leaving us with a number of problems and questions: How do we maintain our momentum in this very important area of science?"

Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., who chairs the House Committee on Science and Technology, called for a hearing later this week on the satellite program. The committee wants to hear from Marburger and the satellite program's director, Air Force Brig. Gen. Susan Mashiko, and to receive an update from congressional investigators. "You're looking at a program that's roughly $6 billion over budget with no hope of recovery," said Alisha Prather, the spokeswoman. "They can't even tell us when different pieces of the puzzle may be functional. ... It's failed leadership."

NASA spokeswoman Tabatha Thompson said a final version of the "impacts" report was delivered to Marburger on Jan. 8. It was not made public because it is "a pre-decisional document within the administration," she said.


Greenie war on dishwasher detergents

Guess what phosphate and CO2 have in commen? They are both great fertilizers for trees and crops. Yet the Greenies hate both. Perhaps we should call the Greenies the Brownies -- they're infantile enough. Of course, less effective detergents will mean you have to run your dishwasher longer -- thus using more power and maybe more water -- so we have the usual self-defeating Greenie policy that does nothing other than make life more expensive and difficult for everyone -- but that is the real Greenie aim anyway.

Environmental activists in a handful of states are about to remove the phosphate lurking under your sink. Chances are the dishwasher detergent you stow there now is one of the leading name brands-- Procter & Gamble's Cascade or Reckitt Benckiser's Electrasol. Both contain phosphates. But the big-name manufacturers are racing to develop and market new, phosphate-free or "P-Nil" products by July 1, 2010. "There's an ironclad commitment on the part of industry to meet this date," says Dennis Griesing, the Soap and Detergent Association's vice president for government affairs. "That's my charge to my members. Whoever gets there first has a great marketing advantage."

The industry didn't exactly rush to make a commitment. Griesing's organization vigorously fought the move to phosphate-free until Washington State passed a law in March 2006 limiting the amount of phosphates in household dishwasher detergent sold in that state to 0.5%, or a trace amount, effective July 1, 2010 (in most of the state). Now, with other states racing to jump on the phosphate-free bandwagon, the soap association has conceded the larger battle and is focusing on ensuring consistent regulations across the states. Mainly, it wants to make sure the bans are limited to dishwasher detergents for household use, and that they won't go into effect until July 1, 2010.

"The detergent industry realized they were going to face a patchwork of state laws," says Martin Wolf, director of product and environmental technology for Seventh Generation, which has made a "green" non-phosphate dishwasher detergent since 1997. (Seventh Generation is itself a member of the Soap and Detergent Association.) "Once the first domino fell, it was only a matter of time before the rest would fall, so they're trying to pass uniform bills." In just the last six weeks, Maryland, Vermont, Minnesota and Illinois have followed Washington state's lead. (The Illinois bill is on the governor's desk.) Massachusetts and Michigan are likely to follow this year.

To the industry's dismay, Maryland pols one-upped their Washington counterparts by making their law effective six months earlier, on Jan. 1, 2010. They also instructed the state's department of environment to research the "prospective availability" of low-phosphate alternatives for the commercial market (including schools and factories) and report back by Dec. 1, 2008. "I'll be back in Annapolis next year to ask Maryland to change its effective date from January to July," says Griesing of the Soap and Detergent Association. And, he says, the association will continue to defend phosphate use in commercial markets, because there would be technical problems with extending the ban to commercial dishwashers, which run at higher temperatures and on shorter cycles.

Does the industry really need those six extra months to come up with new consumer products? After all, the move to phosphate-free dish detergent has been a long time coming. Environmentalists got phosphates out of laundry detergent in the late 1980s. Back then, the Soap and Detergent Association got an allowance for up to 8.7% phosphate content in dishwasher detergent in state legislation covering laundry detergent, based on its claim that phosphates were needed to clean dishes that had been used for starchy foods, like macaroni and cheese.

Since then, phosphate-free "green" brands made by Seventh Generation, Trader Joe's and Ecover have hit the market. They cost a little more and have just a 1% market share. But in a 2005 report, Consumer Reports concluded they do the job just fine, giving all three brands its top rating of "excellent." With the cleaning success of those products and the current surge in environmental activism on the state level, it was inevitable that the issue would be recycled. The impetus for the Washington state ban was the Sierra Club's efforts to clean up the Spokane River, says Craig Engelking, legislative director for the Sierra Club's Cascade chapter. He handed out Ecover tablets to state legislators to prove there is an effective non-phosphate alternative.

The Soap and Detergent Association originally tried to defeat the Washington bill. But with state Senate majority leader Lisa Brown, whose district encompasses the Spokane River, backing it, the industry couldn't stop the bill. It did, however, get the ban delayed in most of the state until July 1, 2010, instead of the July 1, 2008, date the sponsors wanted. The 2008 date was kept for three counties in the Spokane area. Earlier this year, state legislators defeated an industry attempt to delay the 2008 start date in those counties.

So what's the problem with phosphates? When discharged into waterways, they cause excessive growth of algae, which can smell bad and which robs the water of oxygen that fish need to survive. Dishwashing detergent is hardly the only culprit. Levels of phosphates in fresh waterways can be much higher than normal because of contamination from municipal and domestic wastewater, whether you're hooked up to a sewer or have a septic system, says Helen Suh MacIntosh, an associate professor in environmental health at Harvard University. Fertilizer runoff from farms and lawns contribute to the problem. So, if you want to help the trout stream that runs through your vacation property, Macintosh recommends making the switch to phosphate-free detergent and organic lawn fertilizer.

In Maryland, scientists estimate that the change on the household dishwasher front will reduce phosphorus pollution to the Chesapeake Bay by 3%. "Every little bit counts," says Jennifer Aiosa, a senior scientist at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Annapolis, Md. If you eat a lot of macaroni and cheese and like clean plates, what should you do? Under the new laws, stockpiling detergent with phosphate for use after the ban takes effect isn't illegal. "There are no phosphate cops kicking down [homeowners'] doors," Griesing assures consumers. Or, you could just try rinsing your plates before the macaroni hardens on them. Just like your mom told you to.


March of the Lemmings: Media Shuns Climate Change Report's Good News on Sea Levels

Remember the headlines last summer, spurred by the release of Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth, warning that massive amounts of Antarctica's ice sheets are melting, threatening to raise sea levels 20 feet worldwide and wipe out Antarctica's Emperor penguins and polar bears? And alarming reports that Greenland's glaciers are shrinking so rapidly that a third of Florida and the lower part of Manhattan could be swept away within the next 200 years?

Well guess what? The long awaited Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report summary released early in February threw some badly needed cold water on that over-heated hype. According to the IPCC, based on the work of 2,500 scientists around the globe, Antarctica's ice sheets will "remain too cold for widespread surface melting," and "is expected to gain in mass due to increased snowfall."1

The report summary also says there is no scientific consensus that Greenland's ice caps are melting enough to contribute to increased sea levels.2 And while the writers do acknowledge unknowns, including some observed variability and local changes in glaciers in the polar regions that could contribute to future increased sea levels, it states that overall "there is no consensus on their magnitude."3

In spite of recent criticism by some complaining that the IPCC is "too conservative," its conclusions are consistent with the findings last month in Science. The article's authors, scientists with the Polar Science Center at the University of Washington and the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado, observe that two among the largest glaciers in Greenland thought to have been melting rapidly and flowing into the sea, have now actually stabilized, bringing their rate of discharge back to previous levels. The scientists discovered that Greenland's second and third largest glaciers, which have been making headlines recently for doubling the amount of discharge between 2000 and 2005, have over the past two years reversed course and actually increased in mass.4

The authors attribute inaccurate assessments of the glaciers' activity to "snapshots" scientists have been taking in the region: "Our main point is that the behavior of these glaciers can change a lot from year to year, so we can't assume to know the future behavior from short records of recent changes."5

What does all this mean for future sea levels? The IPCC estimates seas globally will rise somewhere between 7 and 23 inches by the next 100 years, a lower estimate than presented by the IPCC in 2001,6 and a far cry from Al Gore's 20- to 40-foot prediction in An Inconvenient Truth.

To put the IPCC's estimate in context, the average global sea level rise during the 20th century was 6-8 inches, and 3-7 inches during the 19th century, although it is difficult for scientists to be precise.7

But none of these factoids really matter. Our lawmakers and the media continue to warn us to head for the hills. Senator Feinstein calls the sea level estimate "catastrophic," warning that "low-lying nations and coastal communities will be lost to flooding."8 ABC's Good Morning America asks viewers via a graphic, just prior to the report's release, "Will billions die from global warming: new details on thirst and hunger."9 And numerous articles and news programs fabricate doom by highlighting what's not in the IPCC report. As Bill Weir of ABC's World News comments, "what we didn't hear as much about... [in the] grim report about... a looming climate catastrophe is rising water. And... that may be the scariest part of all."

Even some print-media are inventing stories about climate change where none exist. A recent front-page article in The Washington Post blares in its headline: "Climate Change Is Linked to Damage, Destruction of Old Sites Around Chesapeake." The article tells a disturbing tale of cemeteries along the Chesapeake Bay being washed away by rising bay waters. The inside page of the article reveals the main cause as a geological quirk that is causing the land in the region to sink and the soil to erode. But the front page attributes the gravesites' damage to "rising water levels - an old problem, apparently accelerated by climate change." [Emphasis added]. The author provides no evidence to this claim, just a non sequitur that the IPCC reports sea levels are expected to rise up to 23 inches.10

The good news is, the IPCC news isn't so bad. The bad news is, you wouldn't know it reading news reports. Climatologist Patrick Michaels got it right when he predicted "what's not new in today's IPCC report - that humans are warming the planet - will be treated as big news, while what is new - that sea levels are not likely to rise as much as previously predicted - will be ignored."11 The march of the media lemmings will continue. With hope, the rest of us will manage to keep our cool.


Climate change behind Darfur killing?

This is on a par with the accusations that the Jews are to blame for the civil war among Arabs in Gaza. Available land in Africa was shrinking (mostly due to population growth and overgrazing by goats) long before global warming was noticed

THE slaughter in Darfur was triggered by global climate change and that more such conflicts may be on the horizo, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says in an article published today. "The Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis, arising at least in part from climate change,'' Mr Ban said in a Washington Post opinion column.

UN statistics showed that rainfall declined some 40 per cent over the past two decades, he said, as a rise in Indian Ocean temperatures disrupted monsoons. "This suggests that the drying of sub-Saharan Africa derives, to some degree, from man-made global warming,'' the South Korean diplomat wrote. "It is no accident that the violence in Darfur erupted during the drought,'' Mr Ban said in the Washington daily.

When Darfur's land was rich, he said, black farmers welcomed Arab herders and shared their water, he said. With the drought, however, farmers fenced in their land to prevent overgrazing. "For the first time in memory, there was no longer enough food and water for all. Fighting broke out,'' he said. A UN peacekeeping force may stop the fighting, he said, and more than two million people may return to rebuilt homes in safe villages. "But what to do about the essential dilemma: the fact that there's no longer enough good land to go around?'' "Any real solution to Darfur's troubles involves sustained economic development,'' perhaps using new technologies, genetically modified grains [Whoa there boy! That's not allowed!] or irrigation, while bettering health, education and sanitation, he said.

Khartoum agreed this week to accept 23,000 UN and African Union peacekeepers after four years of fighting, which has killed at least 200,000 people. Yesterday, the Australian Government said it was considering sending some peacekeeping assistance to Sudan despite fears it would overstretch the defence force. The UN has formally requested Australia to contribute as many troops as it can. "If there's anything we can do, perhaps in terms of some very small technical assistance to the United Nations force that's going to go to Darfur, then we might be able to do that," , Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said yesterday.



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 generally 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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


No comments: