The Week That Was
August 2, 2003










2. Hydrogen Cars Not the Answer

An article published in the July 18 Science, "Rethinking Hydrogen Cars," was largely critical of the claims made for hydrogen cars in the areas of air quality, climate change, energy security and hydrogen's role as a transportation fuel.

Authors David Keith of Carnegie Mellon University and Alexander Farrell of the University of California, Berkeley, found that other current technologies appear more cost-effective than hydrogen cars. They mention, for instance, that the National Academy of Sciences found that increases in the fuel-economy of light-duty vehicles paid for themselves (although they neglect to mention the 2,000 or more lives lost each year as a result).

The authors also point to the disparate motives of those involved in promoting hydrogen cars, calling them "an unusual coalition-from environmentalists and futurists to auto executives, oil barons, and nuclear engineers." They conclude that, "Transportation R&D should be broadly based, and should focus on basic enabling technologies rather than on a rush to deploy hydrogen cars."

Nature also addressed the potential hydrogen economy in its July 10 issue (see New on the Web above), with Paul Grant of the Electric Power Research Institute arguing that, "The only practical and clean way of extracting hydrogen from its most readily available source, water, is nuclear energy. In addition, it will be many years before the infrastructure for using hydrogen power is complete and meanwhile we will need clean energy from somewhere. A rebirth of the nuclear power industry could be the best option." Grant summed this up as "a world where 'atoms for peace' would prevail, creating a clean energy source independent of any geographically accidental richness of fossil reserves."


3. Lomborg gets another bum review - badly flawed
Letter sent to the Editor, The Economic Journal

Sir, In his review [EJ, June 2003] of The Skeptical Environmentalist [Lomborg, 2001], Matthew Cole is guilty of the very same sins for which he faults Bjorn Lomborg. Cole uses "highly aggregated data" and he quotes "selectively," omitting well-known references that might have detracted from his arguments. In the process, he fails to make a case for the "litany" of environmental groups that things are getting worse and thus confirms Lomborg's main thesis.

I will focus my comments on Climate Change, a topic of my personal expertise. Cole admits that he is "no expert on climate science," but I would expect him to be at least aware of the fact that there is no consensus about whether human influences are currently producing a warming. The US National Academy of Sciences published a report [Jan. 2000] pointing to the serious disparity of current climate data, with surface thermometers showing an upward trend while both weather satellites and weather balloons show no appreciable atmospheric warming. This is in contradiction to theoretical climate models based on conventional greenhouse theory. Certainly, with greenhouse forcing having increased by about 50 percent, one would expect to see clear warming effects by now.

Cole's claim that an article on climate change in the Scientific American attacking Lomborg constitutes a "rigorous examination" shows a certain bias. So does his labeling of carbon dioxide as a "pollutant."

Cole quotes half a dozen references, all claiming that a warming would have negative economic consequences. While these authors may agree in the aggregate, they disagree with each other when examining individual economic sectors. The reader is invited to view an intercomparison [IPCC, 1996, Vol. 2] and will find that, while one author sees damage to agriculture, another fixes the main damage to the coastlines. None of the authors, including Cole, seems to be aware, however, that sea-level rise has been ongoing for some 18,000 years and has not accelerated during the 20th century. A geological perspective is often useful - even for economists.

What is inexplicable in Cole's review is his omission of the most recent and well-founded analysis of the economic consequences of an assumed doubling of carbon dioxide and a stipulated concurrent warming. A group of 23 economists under the editorship of Yale economist Robert Mendelsohn concluded that the consequences would be positive and increase GDP [1999]. While their study is confined to the United States, there is good reason to believe that similar results would apply elsewhere. This hashes up a lot of attempts at cost-benefit analysis, of course, but it is comforting to know that we are headed in the right direction. I am sure that Professor Hubert Lamb of the University of East Anglia, the father of historic climatology, who described the hardships of the Little Ice Age (ca. 1400 -1850), would have been pleased.

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 former Director of the US Weather Satellite Service. <>


4. WHO Provides Chlorine to Stem Cholera Spread in Liberia

As civil war continues to plague Liberia and tens of thousands of people converge in Monrovia's city center in search of refuge, the World Health Organization (WHO) is supporting the Liberian Ministry of Health with cholera control measures. Poor sanitation and a lack of clean drinking water have set the stage for the cholera outbreak. The WHO is providing mass chlorination in and around Monrovia, and chlorine to nongovernmental organizations working in the city, such as Medecins sans Frontieres. Although exact numbers of cases and deaths are difficult to obtain, as of July 6, the WHO reported 1,630 cholera cases, including 15 deaths, from health facilities still operational in Monrovia.


5. A petition to HPS Board of Directors on health effects of radiation
(see Taiwan incident in TWTW of July 26, 2003):

"NOW BE IT RESOLVED: The Health Physics Society Board of Directors believes such studies (both epidemiological and cell) [on the Taiwan people exposed to Co60 over the years] should be performed and requests the President of the Society to develop a program of actions by the Society the purpose of which is to ensure the studies are performed in a timely manner. The actions may include

1. Requesting the DOE through its Low Dose Radiation Research Program to solicit performance of appropriate cell studies on the exposed Taiwan population,

2.Requesting the US State Department to work with the government of Taiwan to cause the studies to be funded and staffed,

3. Requesting the US Congress to direct the DOE to include such studies (including epidemiological studies) in its Low Dose Research Program,

4.Requesting contacts in Taiwan to assist the government of Taiwan to cooperate in performing the studies,

5.Requesting IAEA to participate in funding the studies,

6.Enlisting the assistance of other scientific organizations (particularly the IRPA) and governments in the world in the funding of the studies, and

7. Publicizing information about observed effects (particularly any beneficial effects) throughout the nuclear industry and elsewhere."


6. Kyoto: Command and control is the wrong approach
Letters to Financial Times, 17th July 2003

Sir, I must disagree with Michael Grubb and Yuri Safonov ("Why Russia is dragging its feet on Kyoto", July 14) that Russia's tardiness over ratifying the Kyoto protocol is to be regretted. Indeed, I believe Russia is to be congratulated for having a vigorous debate about the long-term value of the protocol. It is not insignificant that a number of well-respected Russian scientists have recently raised serious doubts about, from the Russian point of view, both the validity of the science and the efficacy of the economics involved. This debate has led to a number of critical articles in the press, including, in Pravda , the "Kyoto protocol is not worth a thing" and, in Nezavisimaya Gazeta, "The warming that never existed". The Russian Federation has now called a major international conference in late September to review the whole issue.

In the meantime, we should use the space Russian questioning is affording us to consider the best way economically to approach inexorable climate change, whatever its complex causes. Should we be maintaining strong adaptive economies that can adjust to climate change whatever its direction or should we be tilting at windmills in trying to manage the unmanageable by fiddling at the margins with just a few of the millions of factors involved in climate change?

For me the answer is clear. The "command-and-control" approach of the Kyoto protocol is dangerously misguided. It will work neither climatically nor economically. And even worse, as with the UK government's recent windy edicts on energy policy, it could eventually undermine our ability to adapt to change without providing any predictable control of climate. Russia's prevarications may ultimately benefit us all.

Philip Stott, Gravesend, Kent DA12 1LD (Professor Emeritus of Biogeography, University of London)

Sir, Michael Grubb and Yuri Safonov ask why Russia is dragging its feet on Kyoto, especially as it has emissions allowances to sell. Hopefully it is because their scientists have caught up with scientific knowledge. Two minutes on would inform your contributors of current debate. Little is known about the causes, effects and extent of climate change. Weather satellite and balloon measures conflict with surface climate measures so the assumption of climate warming in Kyoto is in question and scientists strongly disagree.

Carbon may not be the main culprit. Kyoto reduces carbon only 5 per cent below benchmark in 100 years. The enormous cost will reduce economic growth in coming decades when it promises to be elusive, with great pain for poor countries.

Dr. Alister McFarquhar,
Downing College
Cambridge. CB2 1DQ


7. Modeling used by U.N., EPA questioned at Press Briefing
By Lauren Miura, Greenwire reporter (based on press briefing by Independent Institute of July 28 -- see TWTW of July 26)

A panel of researchers attacked the science used to help guide global and U.S. climate change policy yesterday, as representatives from both sides of the debate geared up to testify on the issue during a Senate committee hearing.

At issue are the models used to predict how much temperatures will rise, particularly the model that produced the so-called "hockey stick" graph showing a sharp rise in Northern Hemisphere temperatures during the past two decades. That model, and the study that produced it, is widely cited as evidence that 1990-2000 was the warmest decade in the last millennium. It has been featured in reports from United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Clinton Administration's 2000 report Climate Change Impacts on the United States and subsequently, U.S. EPA's 2001 Climate Action Report.

But with the release of a new report <>
yesterday, the free-market-oriented Independent Institute charged the IPCC-favored "hockey stick" graph is faulty, in part because the model is based on a "severely limited" sample and assumes a wide margin of error. The IPCC panel, made up of thousands of scientists from around the globe, estimated in 2001 that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) have increased by almost one-third since 1750 to their highest level in at least 420,000 years and possibly as long as 20 million years.

A member of the IPCC was scheduled to testify today to support Sen. Jim Jeffords' (I-Vt.) view that manmade CO2 emissions from industrial plants, electric utilities and motor vehicles are the leading contributor to climate change. Meanwhile Senate Environment and Public Works Committee chairman Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) contends that the Earth's warming climate is not caused by manmade emissions but is instead determined by a more far-reaching set of historical trends (Environment & Energy Daily <>, July 28).

"The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change used a temperature record for the last 1,000 years that can only be called a scientific outlier," said Patrick J. Michaels, a professor of environmental science at the University of Virginia and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Michaels said the "hockey stick" model is outside the scientific norm because it does not acknowledge what scientists refer to as "the Little Ice Age" ending in the late 19th century and a "Medieval Warm Period" before that, as "hundreds and hundreds" of other studies do.

Further, the Independent Institute says satellite data show an upward global temperature trend of 0.06 degrees Celsius per decade, "several times less than what was forecast by computer models that served as the basis for the original 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change." "Climate models cannot take into account the very complicated feedbacks in the atmosphere, specifically clouds and water vapor," said Independent Institute research fellow and former EPA official S. Fred Singer.

Even if the computer models were right, Michaels said, the average temperatures would increase only 1.6 degrees Celsius over the next 100 years. "If something appears to be moderate and you couldn't stop it anyway, shouldn't that be the end of the issue?" Michaels asked.

Environmentalists downplayed the report's reliability. Jeff Fiedler of the Natural Resources Defense Council described the Independent Institute's scientific panel as "pretty much a who's who of the remaining climate skeptics out there," adding that most of the panelists are outside the mainstream of climate research.

Click here <> to download a copy of the report.


8. Latest News -- August 2050

Ozone created by electric cars now killing millions in the seventh largest country in the world, California.

Spotted Owl plague threatens northwestern United States crops & livestock.

Baby conceived naturally.... Scientists stumped.

Authentic year 2000 "Chad" sells at Sotheby's for $1.6 million.

Castro finally dies at age 120; Cuban cigars can now be imported legally, but President Chelsea Clinton has banned all smoking.

George Z. Bush says he will run for President in 2054.

Postal Service raises price of first class stamp to $17.89 and reduces mail delivery to Wednesday only.

50-year study: diet and exercise are the key to weight loss.

Massachusetts executes last remaining conservative.

Supreme Court rules punishment of criminals violates their civil rights.

Upcoming NFL draft likely to focus on use of mutants.

Average height of NBA players now nine feet, seven inches.

Microsoft announces it has perfected its newest version of Windows so it crashes BEFORE installation is completed.

New federal law requires that all nail clippers, screwdrivers, fly swatters, and rolled up newspapers must be registered by January 2046.

Congress authorizes direct deposit of illegal political contributions to campaign accounts.

IRS sets lowest tax rate at 75%.



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