|The Week That Was
July 12, 2003
1. New on the Web: GLOBAL WARMING "SCIENCE" NEEDS TESTING.
Little is known about the causes, effects and extent of climate change,
says James Schlesinger, former secretary of energy under Jimmy Carter,
in an Op-ed in the Washington Post. In a counter-Op-ed, J.W. Anderson
agrees that the science is uncertain but nevertheless suggests action.
In his Letter to the WP, Fred Singer recommends that crucial uncertainties
be settled before embarking on costly and ineffective policies: "Look
before you leap."
2. COSMIC RAY FLUX ZAPS PRO-KYOTO TYPES: New Canadian-Israeli study puts paid to overheated theories on climate change.
3. MORE REACTION FROM CANADA AGAINST KYOTO: A lesson of great importance for the United States - and for Japan
4. DEMAGOGUES MAINTAIN ATTACKS ON CHORINE AND ITS COMPOUNDS - using anti-terrorism cover
5. TOXICOLOGY RETHINKS ITS CENTRAL BELIEF: DANGEROUS LEVELS OF TOXINS MISCALCULATED. We may be putting too much effort into cleaning our environments.
6. HOW TO HELP AFRICA -- for a fraction of the cost of the $15-billion AIDS program
2. Galactic Cosmic Rays can Account for Long-Term Climate Swings
It's the sun. And apparently the stars, too. But that shouldn't surprise anyone, since the stars after all are just other planets' suns. Fluctuating levels of solar and stellar radiation are the cause of climate change on Earth, not rising carbon dioxide levels.
Ebbs and flows in the sun's energy raise and lower Earth's temperature far more than CO2 ever could, according to an extensive new study by Jan Veizer, a University of Ottawa geologist and paleoclimatologist, and Nir Shaviv, an astrophysicist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Also, as our solar system passes through the galaxy's star nurseries -- the coiling, cloudy tentacles of the Milky Way where there are dozens of infant stars -- Earth absorbs unusually high levels of cosmic radiation. According to Veizer, ups and downs in this radiation -- a variation known as the cosmic ray flux -- "is linked to climate variability." At least 66 per cent of the swings in temperature, violent weather and precipitation to which Earth is periodically subjected "is likely due to solar system passages through the spiral arms of the galaxy."
These findings correspond to those reached by a growing number of scientists -- at Harvard University and the Smithsonian Institute, at the European Space Agency and the renowned Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, at the Schroeter Institute for Research in Cycles of Solar Activity in Nova Scotia and a variety of Canadian and international universities -- that all the warming Earth has experienced in the past 150 years can be traced back to the sun and its activities.
Most convincingly, Veizer and Shaviv reached the same conclusions before they even knew one another. Veizer was finishing off his research last September, when he received an e-mail from Shaviv suggesting they compare notes. Both had examined climate changes dating back as much as 500 million years, independently of each other. Yet when they met in Toronto last October and laid their graphs one on top of the other, they were "awfully surprised" by the near match.
In interviews, Prof. Veizer is quick to add that he does not rule out carbon dioxide as a "driver" of global warming. "There may be such an increase in CO2 that it may take over some time in the future ... I don't think so, but I don't know." His study is less equivocal, though. In it, he and Prof. Shaviv argue the "warming effect of CO2 ... is potentially lower" than predicted by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the so-called overwhelming majority of scientists that is said to believe in the CO2-warming theory.
Three years ago, after one of the most thorough studies ever of the possible correlation between CO2 and climate change -- one funded by our blindly pro-Kyoto federal government -- Veizer concluded that rising CO2 levels followed rises in the Earth's temperature, not the other way around. "Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were not the principal driver of climate variability," he wrote then. At most, Veizer and Shaviv calculate that CO2 might raise ocean temperatures by 1.9 C. Might. While that is a considerable warming, it is far from the 5 C to 8 C warming predicted by the global warming climate models cited by the UN and by Canada's own federal government.
Actually, most of the pro-Kyoto scientists claim CO2 will raise temperatures by only about as much as Veizer and Shaviv have predicted. The pro-Kyoto types are able to reach their hellfire-and-brimstone, call-in-the-UN-bureaucrats-to-save-the-planet levels of 5 C to 8 C, only because they control all the inputs on their elaborate computer models, so they have added things called "feedbacks" to their computations. The computer models -- which, so far, are the only places where global warming has been "proven" -- all rely on unknown mechanisms that magnify the CO2-forced warming they predict. Most of these supercomputer projections see a doubling of carbon dioxide by this time next century. This doubling raises global temperatures by less than 2 C, but the climate modellers then insist that this rise triggers some as yet unknown feedbacks (likely clouds and increased water vapour) that then raise temperatures an additional 3 C to 6 C. However, the increase in atmospheric CO2 witnessed since widespread industrialization has taken us nearly halfway to a total doubling of CO2. Yet warming in the past century and a half has been less than 1 C, when, if the modellers were correct, it should have been 2 C to 3 C.
Also this week, Dr. Madhav Khandekar, a former Environment Canada climatologist, revealed that "in the higher latitudes of the northeast, from Baffin Bay to Labrador, extreme cold spells have increased in the last 50 years." Far from warming, Canada's Arctic is at least maintaining its iciness. Although studying different phenomenon than Khandekar, Igor Polyakov of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks came to a related conclusion. By combing through every weather record he could find from remote weather stations, exploratory expeditions, Christian missions and police outposts, he and his team announced last December that the Arctic had actually cooled since the 1920s. Arctic snows, too, are increasing, and not decreasing as the climate computers had guessed. Thankfully, Ottawa seems to have lost its interest in Kyoto, because there are increasing doubts about the global warming science.
Lorne Gunter, Columnist, Edmonton (Alberta) Journal, 4 July 2003
CBC Radio One Commentary
3. Where's the Kyoto plan?
By Michael Fumento,
"War profiteers" are those who use military conflict to make a quick buck or push an agenda that would fail in peacetime. That describes various extremist environmental groups and their champion, Sen. Jon Corzine, New Jersey Democrat.
For more than a decade, these groups have tried to banish vital industrial chemicals, especially chlorine, with false and malicious claims about potential harm. Their effort failed. So now they have switched tacks and are trying to piggyback their agenda on the terrorist threat with Mr. Corzine's legislation and its alleged purpose of protecting "the public against the threat of chemical attacks."
For example, rather than giving the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sole charge of establishing and enforcing new chemical industry rules, Mr. Corzine would force the department to work in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency..
Yet the purpose of establishing the DHS was to pull agencies under a single authority for better coordination. Further, whom would you trust more to keep the bad guys out of a chemical plant, the FBI, CIA and the Coast Guard - or those "special ops" bureaucrats at the EPA? Parts of the Corzine bill look innocent enough unless you understand the parlance of anti-chemical legislation.
Thus, it calls for "high-priority categories" to be designated "based on the severity of the threat." The first term means "spending a bunch more bucks to reduce potential risks," which might not be bad except that "severity of the threat" is entirely theoretical. It's based on documents that environmentalists had earlier convinced Congress to force industry to prepare, called "Worst Case Scenarios."
Many of the presumptions for these scenarios are bizarre, such as the wind blowing in all directions at the same time. Neat trick, huh? Other presumptions include no obstructions such as buildings or hills, the perfect temperature for spread, and so on.
Yet the "reality scenario" is that in the past 80 years a billion tons of chlorine have been made in this country with no deaths outside any facility.
The bill also demands that, when feasible, facilities switch to "inherently safer technology." This is shorthand for drastically cutting the use of chlorine, about which Greenpeace's Joe Thornton told Science magazine in 1993, "There are no known uses... which we regard as safe."
Never mind that thousands of products and materials are made with chlorine, or that more than 98 percent of water supply systems that disinfect drinking water use chlorine because of its germicidal potency, efficiency and economy. It kills viruses, bacteria and fungi.
Without water chlorination, the number of U.S. deaths from horrible diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and dysentery would each day swamp the number killed by terrorists on September 11, 2001.
About 85 percent of all pharmaceuticals contain or are produced using chlorine chemistry, including Cipro and other drugs that combat anthrax and other bioweapons.
No chemical plays a more important role in the war on terror. Water chlorination prevents spiking reservoirs with germs. Chlorine disinfected the offices contaminated by the anthrax mailings. Chlorine is used to make the bullet-resistant Kevlar that protects our soldiers and police officers, as well as aircraft, missiles, and rocket fuel.
Osama bin Laden wants to destroy our economy. What better way to help him than irrationally slashing the use of chlorine products and their derivatives that contribute to 45 percent of the nation's gross domestic product?
Fortunately, Sen. James Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, has introduced alternative legislation that is superior in many ways to Mr. Corzine's.
The Inhofe bill emphasizes not the restriction or banning of various "evil" chemicals but rather taking "security measures" to "reduce the vulnerability of the source."
It also gives sole jurisdiction to the DHS, which is fine by the EPA. "It doesn't matter to us who takes the lead," Craig Matthiessen, associate director in the agency's Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Office told me. He notes that DHS would certainly employ EPA's expertise both in prevention and in emergency response because, "Once there's a discharge, it doesn't matter whether it was accidental or terrorist-caused."
Further, only Mr. Inhofe's bill pre-empts state open-records laws that might allow Osama and friends to discover exactly what safety precautions a facility has taken. Nobody would have access to secret information but the DHS itself and emergency response agencies - not even the EPA.
Why? As a July 2000 General Accounting Office report found, there are "serious and pervasive problems that essentially rendered EPA's agency-wide information security program ineffective."
That's whom Mr. Corzine wants to co-administer anti-terror regulations? Any congressman can introduce industry-bashing bills whenever he wants, but anti-terror legislation must be just that. You can't play around when the enemy plays for keeps.
Michael Fumento is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a nationally syndicated columnist.
Copyright © 2003 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.
HELEN R PILCHER , 13 February 2003
The levels at which potentially toxic substances such as mercury and lead are classified as dangerous may have been miscalculated, two US scientists are warning. Risk assessments and regulations on safe limits for these substances in medicine and the environment may have to be rethought. 
There are safe levels below which potential pollutants and poisons may actually be beneficial, say Edward Calabrese and Linda Baldwin of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. For the past 30 years, cancer-causing chemicals and X-rays have been viewed largely as dangerous whatever their level.
"The field of toxicology has made a terrible blunder," says Calabrese. "A lot of high-powered people need to take the time to explore this."
For example, dioxins, which are industrial by-products that at certain doses can cause cancer, can actually reduce tumour growth in some species. Similarly, small amounts of the toxic trace metal cadmium can promote plant growth.
"What we call 'toxic chemicals' is a misnomer," says cell biologist and UK government advisor Anthony Trewavas from Edinburgh University. "Mild chemical stress is beneficial."
Having identified over 5,000 similar examples, Calabrese and Baldwin are among a growing number of researchers who feel that the hazardous nature of toxic substances has been overstated. The levels used in studies are not comparable to those normally experienced by humans, Calabrese says. "This provides an interesting challenge for the clinical and pharmaceutical industries as they develop new medicines."
The point of toxicological testing is to determine the drug exposure at which undesired effects are observed
Britain's Medicines Control Agency (MCA) is more cautious. "The point of toxicological testing is to determine the drug exposure at which undesired effects are observed," a spokesperson said, adding that the new criticisms are, "unlikely to change the way in which the MCA or other regulatory agencies conduct product risk-benefit analysis."
The debate also raises the question of how clean our environment really needs to be. Some argue that billions of dollars are being wasted ridding the world of substances that are dubbed 'hazardous', when low levels could actually be a good thing.
"We don't need to spend large amounts of money on removing chemicals from the environment," says Trewavas. "Food contains lots of natural chemicals that are as damaging as synthetics. We consume lots of these all the time without harm. The public need re-educating in this."
But convincing people that 'safest' is a more meaningful description of risk than 'safe' and 'dangerous' is notoriously difficult.
1. Calabrese, E.J. & Baldwin, L.A., Toxicology rethinks its central
belief. Nature, 421, 691-2, (2003).
© Nature News Service / Macmillan Magazines Ltd 2003
See also this article, "A Little Poison Can Be Good For You:
The received wisdom about toxins and radiation may be all wet." in
the June 9, 2003 of Fortune magazine
6. Fighting Malaria in Africa
There is little doubt that AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria not only kill millions but also seriously undermine the economic vitality of African nations. But Prof. Jeffrey Sachs (NYT 7/9/03) omits an important fact: The scourge of malaria, a disease that kills children at the rate of one every 30seconds, can be virtually eliminated with DDT for a tiny fraction of the cost of the other diseases.
The New York Times in an editorial on Dec. 23, 2002 endorsed the plea of public-health specialists not to extend the ban of this most effective weapon against malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Poor countries in Africa and elsewhere cannot afford more costly chemicals and procedures, so millions die and many more become ill, sapping their strength and contributing to the continuing poverty of their nations. Yet even small quantities of DDT, applied to the walls of houses and to mosquito netting, can control the malaria problem.
With the growth in international air travel, it is only a matter of time before other insect-borne diseases are carried to our shores -- as the West Nile experience has taught us: Yellow fever; Dengue; Japanese viral encephalitis; (African) Rift Valley fever - all deadly and with no vaccine. As long as epidemics continue in poorer nations, we are not safe; witness the rapid global spread of flu-like lethal SARS.
S. Fred Singer, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, is President of the Arlington (VA)-based Science &Environmental Policy Project, and a visiting Wesson Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, CA
7. And for those who missed out on July 4 celebrations, PREPARE TO HAVE SOME FUN (courtesy of Alan Caruba)
"http://www.timstouse.com/liberty/liberty.htm" Happy Fourth of July!