|The Week That Was
March 4, 2000 NEW ON THE SEPP WEB:
Science writer Bill Stevens of the NY Times has now joined the skeptics who had been unwilling heretofore to accept that weather satellites (and balloon-borne radiosondes) have shown NO atmospheric warming. He gives a fair account of the present status in the Feb 29 issue, but fails to mention that there are dozens if not hundreds of contrarians out there besides the half dozen he mentions in his article.
The Week That Was March 4, 2000 brought to you by SEPP
at Stanford University, where Teller is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution:
"Science will eventually succeed in achieving contained nuclear fusion in the laboratory" but Teller is pessimistic about commercial nuclear fusion. There are so many cheaper alternatives that already work. Nuclear fission reactors will remain as a safe and low-cost source of electric power. Even after low-cost uranium supplies run out, breeder reactors and thorium-based reactors will continue for many millennia and even longer. For those who insist on fusion energy there is always the politically incorrect possibility of exploding surplus H-bombs underground, exploiting the heat energy to make steam and advancing the cause of disarmament at the same time.
TRASHING BACKYARD TRASH
Household trash burned in one backyard barrel may release more dioxins, furans and other pollutants than tons of trash burned by a municipal waste incinerator serving tens of thousands of homes. These are the results of barrel-burn research conducted at Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) facilities and published in the February issue of Environmental Science & Technology. Although emissions varied considerably from barrel to barrel, the dioxins and furans released from burning barrels were found to approximate the amount released from a 200-ton-per-day municipal incinerator with well-functioning pollution controls that handles garbage from 40,000 to 120,000 households. In an interview with The New York Times, Dwain Winters, director of the EPA's Dioxin Policy Project noted that "with improved pollution controls on incinerators, backyard burning may turn out to be one of the largest sources of dioxins and furans to the air."
And now let's go after wood-burning fireplaces...
WETLANDS MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH
They are breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes. But they also present a problem for the Montreal Protocol and the folks that are trying so hard to ban the production and use of methyl bromide, the most effective fungicide used in agriculture and for the protection of stored grain. MeBr is supposed to destroy ozone in the stratosphere - so the theory says. According to the latest researches, as reported in Nature (Jan 20), MeBr is copiously produced by plants in salt marshes, in tropical coastal ecosystems, and even in the breakdown of organic matter in soil.
And talking of swamps, not long ago, Oregon State University ecologist Prof Andrew Blaustein was blaming the disappearance of amphibians on --of all things-ozone depletion and increased levels of UV. When faced with the fact that there was no observed increasing UV trend, he retreated to a fungus. Now the evidence is strong that parasitic worms produce strange deformities of limbs in amphibians. But Blaustein is still looking for a murder suspect According to a report in Science (Dec 24, 1999), he now has a new villain: fertilizers. Well if it isn't one thing ...
QUOTE OF THE YEAR
Patrick Moore, one of the founders of Greenpeace International, in an interview in the December 1999 issue of the New Scientist:
"The environmental movement abandoned science and logic somewhere in the mid-1980s...political activists were using environmental rhetoric to cover up agendas that had more to do with class warfare and anti-corporatism than with the actual science..."
But we have known this right along. It may have been the discovery of the Antarctic Ozone Hole (not predicted by the then current theory) that triggered all of the global climate concerns.
And now our candidate for 2000: Dr. Robert Watson, chairman of the IPCC (in the Feb issue of Chemistry in Britain):
"Al Gore truly understands the science behind global warming."
What a sense of humor!