Monday, August 31, 2009

New skeptical paper from Germany

A big new scientific paper from Germany is just out. It's title is "Die aktuelle globale Wärmeperiode endet" (The current global warm period has ended). It is by physicist Horst Borchert. He attributes temperature fluctuations to the sun. I provide a rough translation of the intro below:

The simplest description of the climate is the study of the time course of the terestrial and sea-surface temperature. As modern climate change is generally understood, many areas of the earth in the past approx. 100 years showed a mean mean increase in temperature of an average of up to 0.9 ° C. These findings are based on measurements of meteorological stations on land and at sea as recorded and announced on the internet by such authorities as the NOAA.

The rise in temperatures in the twentieth century is not linear and is, as presented, often misleading, but shows two temporary temperature jumps: one from 1920 to 1940 (Climatejump 1) and then from about 1980 (Climatejump 2) to 2006. Between them is from about 1940 to 1980 a so-called "Little Ice Age" with a slight decline in temperature.

The signs of a cessation of the increase are there since about 2006. Only after the "Little Ice Age" of the eighties, has the general subsequent global temperature rise in the twentieth century become an alleged problem for humanity and the word "climate change" as a humanity threatening environmental phenomenon was introduced by the UN.

At this time, the IPCC was established (Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change) as a well-financed Research Institute of the United Nations to investigate the cause and effect of the modern increase in temperature and to ensure by government-backed measures to deal with the potential damage caused by this development. It was dogmatically determined that since 19th century, observed man-caused global temperature rise through the emission of so-called greenhouse gases is causing this increase and would adversely affect the quality of life on Earth by environmental catastrophes. This had been caused by man and therefore man had to compensate by appropriate life limitations.

More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

A thousand words

That’s what a picture is worth. The photo below is from a Willie Soon PowerPoint lecture. What you see is the same plant species cultivated under different CO2 conditions. It drives home the point that the current rising CO2 trend is beneficial. The plant is Devil's Ivy, the Idsos conducted this extensive experiment. Link here

Carbon Dioxide: a Cure for Male Impotence

I am not sure if the statements below are right but they are at least amusing

Two of the most profitable pharmaceutical drugs sold today are Sildenafil Citrate (Viagra) and Tadalafil (Cialis). Both drugs belong to a class of medications known as PDE-5 inhibitors, which are used to treat cases of male impotence (also known as erectile dysfunction). These drugs, which block the regulatory enzyme PDE-5, are both expensive and dangerous with many scary side effects and interactions with other drugs. There are better alternatives.

There are two factors that contribute to the inability to maintain an erection: the first is a reduced ability, due to poor nutrition and/or digestive problems, to produce the nitric oxide needed, for among other things, to dilate blood vessels supplying blood to the penis. This is accomplished in a fast, but risky, way by blocking the PDE-5 regulatory enzyme. However, a much cheaper and safer way to enhance nitric oxide production is to improve your diet and/or supplement with L-Arginine, a safe and inexpensive amino acid sold in health food stores and used by athletes for its many benefits. Note: this is a food supplement and, as such, should be used daily for best results and not just before performing, as directed for drugs. (Also, a note of interest: until the mid 90’s, nitric oxide was simply considered one of the pollutants in automobile exhaust fumes; since then it has been labeled marvel of the decade with many uses. Discovery of its functions and applications won the Nobel Prize for 3 scientists in 1998 for Advances in Physiology or Medicine. Maybe we should be more careful what we label as a pollutant.)

The second factor contributing to male impotence is a low arterial blood carbon dioxide level (another “pollutant”). Carbon dioxide is needed in the formation of nitric oxide from L-Arginine and, with a half life of only a few seconds, the nitric oxide level will quickly respond to changes in the carbon dioxide level. Carbon dioxide has long been credited with the ability to relax muscles but it is only recently understood that it does this through facilitating the formation of nitric oxide. Age and stress can be contributing factors to a low level of carbon dioxide. Both cause us to breathe faster than we should (hyperventilate) thus lowering our carbon dioxide level, which then results in a lower nitric oxide level.

Various methods have been used to restore proper carbon dioxide levels and, hopefully, reset unconscious breathing habits: a conscious slowing of our breathing as taught by various breathing methods (e.g. Buteyko method) as well as supplementing with medical gas for a few minutes can help. Other methods include breathing into a paper bag for a few minutes or using a breathing device such as the Samozdrav, a Russian prize winning device used to increase arterial blood carbon dioxide levels and to train people to breathe properly. People who use this device and learn to breathe properly, as a result, often report the improvement of many and varied symptoms.

Increasing nitric oxide levels with L-Arginine (5 grams daily) and, at the same time, raising arterial carbon dioxide levels, theoretically, should produce superior results to Viagra or Cialis alone. However, no drug company is ever going to do a double blind study based on this idea so don’t wait for one. Go ahead, give it a try. You have nothing to lose and the only side effects are beneficial ones. Who knows, you might improve your health AND your sex life, not to mention save a LOT of money if you presently use Viagra or Cialis.

For a better understanding, listen to this 20 minute lecture by a medical professional on the many benefits of maintaining proper carbon dioxide levels through proper breathing. While listening, just keep in mind that this lecturer hasn’t yet caught on to the indirect role of carbon dioxide in muscle relaxation rather than the implied direct role.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Sun spot frequency has an unexpectedly strong influence on cloud formation and precipitation

By S. Fred Singer

Climate modelers seem puzzled that small fluctuations in total solar irradiance (TSI) appear to have large influence on the climate. They feel it necessary to take recourse to complicated mechanisms.

For example, Gerald Meehl of the US-National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and his team [1] have been able to calculate how the extremely small variations in TSI bring about a comparatively significant change in the system “Atmosphere-Ocean” They try to explain how ‘sunspot frequency’ has an unexpectedly strong influence on cloud formation and precipitation, according to a press release from the GFZ (German Research Centre for Geosciences), the home of Katja Matthes, a co-author of the study. One suggested mechanism is a solar-UV enhancement of stratospheric ozone, leading to circulation changes in the troposphere, a possibility explored earlier by British researcher Joanna Haigh. Another complicated mechanism suggested is increased heating and evaporation from cloud-free regions of the ocean, with the additional moisture transported into the equatorial zone, followed by some kind of positive feedback.

But the answer may really be very simple: the tiny (~0.1%) variation of TSI during the solar cycle is only the ‘tip of the iceberg.’ The much stronger variability is that of solar activity (solar wind and magnetic fields), which explains the observed modulation of Galactic Cosmic Radiation (GCR); in turn, the GCR affect cloudiness in the lower troposphere (the ‘Svensmark mechanism’). And what makes me so sure about the GCR hypothesis? It is the observational evidence from isotopic data in stalagmites (shown in the NIPCC summary report [2] and used there to challenge the IPCC conclusions).

But the GCR explanation is not congenial to AGW alarmists, who have been brainwashed by the IPCC. The latest (2007) IPCC report ignores the cosmic-ray effects, and by focusing only on TSI, disingenuously considers solar influences on climate to be insignificant when compared to the forcing by GH gases.

In this sense then, the paper by Meehl et al constitutes some kind of conceptual breakthrough –even if it is not correct in all its conclusions. Professor Reinhard Huettl, Chairman of the Scientific Executive Board of the GFZ agrees: “The study is important for comprehending the natural climatic variability, which - on different time scales - is significantly influenced by the sun. In order to better understand the anthropogenically induced climate change and to make more reliable future climate scenarios, it is very important to understand the underlying natural climatic variability.”


International Greenland ice coring effort driven by ideology

See the last sentence below. That sentence casts a pall of doubt over any "findings" that appear to support Warmism. The sentence reveals a non-scientific mindset

A new international research effort on the Greenland ice sheet with the University of Colorado at Boulder as the lead U.S. institution set a record for single-season deep ice-core drilling this summer, recovering more than a mile of ice core that is expected to help scientists better assess the risks of abrupt climate change in the future.

The project, known as the North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling, or NEEM, is being undertaken by 14 nations and is led by the University of Copenhagen. The goal is to retrieve ice from the last interglacial episode known as the Eemian Period that ended about 120,000 years ago. The period was warmer than today, with less ice in Greenland and 15-foot higher sea levels than present -- conditions similar to those Earth faces as it warms in the coming century and beyond, said CU-Boulder Professor Jim White, who is leading the U.S. research contingent.

While three previous Greenland ice cores drilled in the past 20 years covered the last ice age and the period of warming to the present, the deeper ice layers representing the warm Eemian and the period of transition to the ice age were compressed and folded, making them difficult to interpret, said White. Radar measurements taken through the ice sheet from above the NEEM site indicate the Eemian ice layers below are thicker, more intact and likely contain more accurate, specific information, he said.

"Every time we drill a new ice core, we learn a lot more about how Earth's climate functions," said White, "The Eemian period is the best analog we have for future warming on Earth."

Annual ice layers formed over millennia in Greenland by compressed snow reveal information on past temperatures and precipitation levels and the contents of ancient atmospheres, said White, who directs CU-Boulder's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. Ice cores exhumed during previous drilling efforts revealed abrupt temperature spikes of more than 20 degrees Fahrenheit in just 50 years in the Northern Hemisphere.

The NEEM team reached a depth of 5,767 feet in early August, where ice layers date to 38,500 years ago during a cold glacial period preceding the present interglacial, or warm period. The team hopes to hit bedrock at 8,350 feet at the end of next summer, reaching ice deposited during the warm Eemian period that lasted from roughly 130,000 to 120,000 years ago before the planet began to cool and ice up once again.

The NEEM project began in 2008 with the construction of a state-of-the-art facility, including a large dome, the drilling rig for extracting 3-inch-diameter ice cores, drilling trenches, laboratories and living quarters. The official drilling started in June of this year. The United States is leading the laboratory analysis of atmospheric gases trapped in bubbles within the NEEM ice cores, including greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane, said White.

The NEEM project is led by the University of Copenhagen's Centre of Ice and Climate directed by Professor Dorthe Dahl-Jensen. The United States and Denmark are the two leading partners in the project. The U.S. effort is funded by the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs.

"Evidence from ancient ice cores tell us that when greenhouse gases increase in the atmosphere, the climate warms," said White. "And when the climate warms, ice sheets melt and sea levels rise. If we see comparable rises in sea level in the future like we have seen in the ice-core record, we can pretty much say good-bye to American coastal cities like Miami, Houston, Norfolk, New Orleans and Oakland."

Increased warming on Earth also has a host of other potentially deleterious effects, including changes in ecosystems, wildlife extinctions, the growing spread of disease, potentially catastrophic heat waves and increases in severe weather events, according to scientists.

While ice cores pinpoint abrupt climate change events as Earth has passed in and out of glacial periods, the warming trend during the present interglacial period is caused primarily by human activities like fossil fuel burning, White said. "What makes this warming trend fundamentally different from past warming events is that this one is driven by human activity and involves human responsibility, morals and ethics."


EU Chemical regulators have overreached

The costs — both in animal lives and euros — of the European REACH legislation on chemical testing are escalating. Thomas Hartung and Costanza Rovida argue for a suspension of certain toxicity tests.

More than 100,000 synthetic chemicals are used in consumer products. In 1981, both the United States and the European Union (EU) introduced comprehensive safety evaluations for novel chemicals coming on to the market. However, existing chemicals represent about 97% of those in use today and 99% of the production volume. Safety testing data are needed for most of these 'old' chemicals. Over the next decade, the EU's 2006 Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation aims to assess the toxicity of all chemicals sold in Europe in quantities of more than one tonne per year.

As toxicologists, we support the aims of REACH — it is the biggest investment into consumer safety ever. However, we feel that legislators have underestimated the scale of the challenge. Our report1, released today by the Trans-Atlantic Think Tank for Toxicology at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, is the first analysis of REACH costs to be published in 5 years. It is based, among other things, on the pre-registration of chemicals, which ended in 2008. It was expected that 27,000 companies would submit 180,000 pre-registrations on 29,000 substances. Instead, some 65,000 companies made more than 2.7 million pre-registrations for in excess of 140,000 substances. REACH aims to complete data collection on these substances by 2018. In recent decades Europe has tested some 200–300 new chemicals each year, making REACH an unprecedented challenge. Toxicologists do not have the appropriate tools — whether high-throughput methods or acceptable alternatives to animal testing — to meet these expectations.

Official estimates

When REACH was negotiated, between 2001 and 2005, several attempts were made to estimate the costs of the regulation, both financially and in terms of the number of animals used for toxicity testing. Officially, the EU is relying on estimates suggesting probable costs2 of euro dollar1.6 billion (US$2.3 billion) — range of estimate euro dollar1.2 billion–euro dollar2.4 billion — and 2.6 million animals3 (range of estimate 2.1 million–3.9 million). These estimates are based on data on chemical production from 1991 to 1994.

Our report relies on several new public sources of information that allow these estimates to be reassessed. Among the factors that have increased costs and animal numbers are changes to the final legislation, such as the inclusion of reaction intermediates, and changes to the guidance for industry on how to test. The EU also now contains 27 members (plus three non-EU countries that adhere to REACH), compared with the 12 members on which the 1994 data were based. Factors that could, in principle, reduce the costs of REACH include progress in the availability of alternative methods to animal testing and availability of safety data from other sources, such as voluntary industry databases.

The latest published list of REACH chemicals contains 143,835 substances that are supposed to be fully registered, each requiring a chemical-safety report. However, this figure is likely to be an overestimate because of redundancies or mistakes made in deposition. The final number will be somewhere between 143,835 and the official estimate of 29,342 substances2. We have re-evaluated the estimates for the number of in vivo tests required by REACH. The plausibility of our assumptions and calculations was checked by eight experts from industry, academia and regulatory authorities1.

We focused on the expansion of the EU and how that affects chemical production. Since 1994, the chemical industry in Europe has grown by about 5% per year, almost doubling its production and sales size by 2008, and the expansion of the EU further increases chemical production volume by 18%. This growth leads to an estimate of 68,000 chemicals falling under REACH, and this is the lower (optimistic) estimate in our study (see Fig. 1).

Estimates for the numbers of chemicals (a) and of animals (b) expected to be needed for compliance with REACH legislation. Our best-case estimates1 of 68,000 substances and 54 million animals are far above the official EU estimates.

Optimistic assumptions

These 68,000 chemicals were then modelled under REACH testing requirements. Total chemical production or marketing volume in Europe determines the testing requirements, which are then modified by the specific toxicity and usage profiles of the substances. In all cases, our modelling used the most optimistic assumptions (minimal animal numbers per test and neglecting the triggering of additional tests). We ignored the need for confirmatory retesting as well as tests that have not yet been defined for endocrine disruption, respiratory irritation, respiratory sensitization and developmental neurotoxicity. We also considered alternative approaches (including computational toxicology) far enough along in the validation and acceptance process to have an impact on the execution of REACH.

Our results suggest that generating data to comply with REACH will require 54 million vertebrate animals and cost euro dollar9.5 billion over the next 10 years. This is 20 times more animals and 6 times the costs of the official estimates. By comparison, some 90,000 animals are currently used every year for testing new chemicals in Europe, costing the industry some euro dollar60 million per year. Without a major investment into high-throughput methodologies, the feasibility of the programme is under threat — especially given that our calculations represent a best-case scenario. In 15 months' time, industry has to submit existing toxicity data and animal-testing plans for the first of three groups of old chemicals.

Disaster prevention

Our modelling shows that the studies contributing most to animal use and costs are from reproductive-toxicity testing — the effects of the chemicals on reproductive functions — representing about 90% of projected animal use and 70% of projected costs (see Fig. 2).

Reproductive-toxicity testing makes a huge contribution to the estimated costs (a) and the number of animals used (b) for compliance with REACH legislation.

In the short term, we recommend that testing requirements for reproductive toxicity are urgently reviewed with the goal of prioritizing the most suspicious chemicals, reviewing test strategies and allowing more time to carry out the programme.

Much of the projected increase in animal use is the result of the two-generation study for reproductive toxicity, in which toxic effects are studied in the offspring of exposed rats and then in a second generation. The EU animal estimate3 did not include offspring (despite their inclusion in EU animal-use statistics). This method consumes an average of 3,200 rats per chemical compared with 784 animals for a one-generation study with costs increasing five-fold. Moreover, changes to REACH introduced the unusual requirement of repeating the two-generation study in a second species, further increasing animal use and costs.

There are many limitations associated with the two-generation study in a second species (not least an increase in false positives) despite marginal gains in safety information4. A high number of false positives (perhaps as much as 40–60%) after REACH testing might lead to the expensive withdrawal of widely used chemicals, and cause unnecessary fears in consumers5. Over the past 25 years, only 2–3 industrial chemicals a year have been tested in two-generation studies — with REACH the challenge will be to test several hundred chemicals per year. We urgently need alternatives.

Despite concerted efforts, no acceptable alternatives to reproductive-toxicity testing have emerged, or are likely to be validated by 2018. Computational approaches are also limited by the complexity of reproductive toxicity and because half of the REACH chemicals are mixtures, inorganic, salts or contain metal atoms, rendering toxicity less predictable.

The only real alternative is an extended one-generation study, guidelines for which are under development by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This approach extends the observation period for the first-generation offspring with additional testing on developmental neuro- and immunotoxicity if triggered by test results.

We favour replacing the two-generation study with the OECD test, which would, in our estimation, reduce animal use for this test by 40–60% and overall animal use by REACH by 15%. We recommend a moratorium on reproductive-toxicity testing, or at least limiting testing to the most suspicious substances, until the OECD guidelines are completed and alternative strategies for screening lots of chemicals are available. There are political as well as technical barriers to overcome, however — two EU member states are against the extended one-generation study unless the additional testing is mandatory, which would eliminate any cost or animal saving.

In the medium term, a different approach is needed. An initiative similar to the euro dollar50-million partnership between the European Commission and the cosmetic industry (Colipa), for research into alternatives for systemic toxicity, is needed for reproductive toxicity. Colipa includes trans-Atlantic partners and the strong integration of computational and high-throughput approaches. The only serious EU investment into reproductive toxicity is the ReProTect project, which ends this year and should be continued.

In the longer term, regulatory toxicology needs to move into the twenty-first century5 — many core methods have remained largely unchanged for 40 years. The US Environmental Protection Agency understands this need. It introduced a new toxicity-testing strategy in March. The aim is to move to high-throughput methods based on identified pathways of toxicity with human cells, fish eggs, invertebrate species and computational methods. Instead of exposing animals to high doses and observing a multitude of possible effects, precise questions can be asked about whether sensitive physiological processes are disturbed.

REACH is not the only chemical testing programme coming online — others are planned in the United States, Japan and Canada — but it is the biggest and the first to come into effect. Lessons learned from REACH should be heeded by the others. Our report might be bad news for REACH as currently imagined, but it is also an opportunity. Given the EU's expansion, the growth in financial costs and animal use was inevitable — and would have been revealed in time as indicated by the pre-registration data. We are showing the challenges that lie ahead. Armed with this knowledge of the shortcomings of the current approach, regulators and industry can work together to protect consumer safety without using an excessive number of animals for toxicity testing

SOURCE (See the original for graphics)

Australia: Public transport outrage

Little girl abandoned on the side of the road over $1.20 bus fare. And governments want to get parents out of their cars??

A 10-YEAR-old girl was left by the side of a busy road in Mt Gravatt last month after she didn't have enough money for the bus, it has been revealed. The girl's mother told The Courier-Mail her daughter was directed to get off the 174 bus on Newnham Rd in late July after her Go Card had insufficient credit and she did not have enough change.

But Brisbane City Council yesterday denied the girl was told to leave, saying she was only told she had insufficient credit on her Go Card. The case breached the strict "no child left behind" policy employed by TransLink and Brisbane City Council, which states that a child cannot be left behind by a bus regardless of whether they have sufficient money for the trip.

The child's mother, who asked not to be named, said she was "horrified" and "disgusted" that her daughter, who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, was left behind by the bus. "She told me she was still at school and 'the driver told me to get off the bus'," the mother said. "She said: 'My bus card wouldn't work, and I looked in my bag and I didn't have enough change, and then the bus driver just said, 'Get off the bus'."

The girl's mother said she called a TransLink operator, who said the decision to leave her child behind was "up to the driver's discretion". "When I rang the first time the man said to me: 'Well, it is up to the driver's discretion'. "I said you cannot leave a child behind for the sake of $1.20 - along that road, it is a busy road, anyone could have stopped and grabbed her."

The mother later contacted TransLink again and was given an apology for the incident. The case is among four across the southeast that were investigated by TransLink this year, including one at Caboolture and one near Ipswich. A TransLink spokesman said the driver and the call centre operator had been disciplined.

"TransLink's [previously unknown, apparently] policy is that no child will be left at a bus stop under any circumstances and takes matters where a child is left at a bus stop very seriously," the spokesman said.



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


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