The Week That Was
January 18, 2003

1. New on the web: Fred Singer recounts some of the history in his ADVENTURES WITH GLOBAL WARMING, going back to 1968.



4. HOW CANADA SOLD KYOTO. But the debate must now address implementation. We can hardly wait.



7. THINGS ARE LOOKING UP - MALTHUSIANS TO THE CONTRARY. Here are the U.S. statistics for 1902.


2. Who is paying the Rolling Stones, asks David Wojick

According to The Washington Post, the Rolling Stones are tossing a free concert to "raise awareness about global warming." Global warming, of course, is code for the purported catastrophic, human-induced interference with the earth's climate as a direct result of our "over consumption" and the widespread use of energy (fossil fuels). The venue is Los Angeles, that global epicenter of leading a measured existence. After some deep consciousness-raising, Mick and The Boys have decided to tout a theory that many highly credentialed academics have called into doubt.

Somebody is paying really big bucks for this concert. I wonder who? In any case it might at least get some folks to think. Who am I kidding?


And here is the answer:
Free Stones Concert Will Highlight Global Warming

LOS ANGELES, California, December 23, 2002 (ENS) - The Rolling Stones will perform a special free concert to raise awareness about global warming on February 6, 2003 at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is partnering with the Rolling Stones to stage the landmark event, hoping to turn up the heat on the Bush administration's inaction regarding global warming. The partners also want to spotlight opportunities that exist right now to start addressing the problem.

"If you're a planet, too hot is bad. (Drought, disease, floods, heat waves.) But when it comes to turning up the heat to solve the urgent problem of global warming, there's no such thing as too hot," states the NRDC on its website. "That's why NRDC and the Rolling Stones are staging a free concert to raise awareness about global warming and spotlight existing opportunities to fix the problem. Then, with the flame of public attention burning, we can all turn up the heat on U.S. leaders (guess which country's the biggest global warming polluter?) to put solutions in place."

A private donor will be absorbing all expenses for the free concert. The NRDC will also have a limited number of tickets as part of their fund raising efforts.

The goal of the event is to encourage the public to learn more about global warming. The NRDC says that global warming is the toughest environmental challenge the world ever faced, threatening the health of people, wildlife and economies around the globe.

"The Rolling Stones' commitment will help build unprecedented support for NRDC efforts to fight global warming," said NRDC president John Adams. "The Rolling Stones deserve a standing ovation for putting the environment on center stage."

SEPP Comment: "Against stupidity the very Gods themselves contend in vain."


3. Nature brings us FEATURE OF THE WEEK:

One of the most divisive topics to face the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was that of the biological response to recent global warming. Two groups this week attempt to take the discussion a stage further by searching for a climate fingerprint in the overall patterns in studies of a wide range of plants and animals. Parmesan and Yohe present a meta-analysis of studies of more than 1,700 species, and find that there have been significant range shifts averaging 6.1km per decade towards the poles, and that spring has advanced by 2.3 days per decade. With 'very high confidence' (in IPCC'd terms), this means that climate change is already affecting living systems. Root et al. also detect a temperature-related 'fingerprint' in species from insects to mammals, and grasses to trees. The changes are most marked at high latitudes and high altitudes, where the largest changes are predicted.

Nature is happy to provide online access to this week's features free: simply click here

SEPP Comment: Wow! Four miles per decade! At that rate butterflies will be at the North Pole in about 10,000 years - in time for the next ice age. But seriously, guys. Don't use butterflies to measure temperatures; for this we use devices known as thermometers. And unfortunately, they don't show increases in the Polar Regions where models predict largest changes.

We once had a paperback from the Hollow Earth Society. You know, big hole at the North Pole. On the cover, this provocative question that was supposed to settle the issue: "Why do birds fly further north?"


4. How Canada Successfully Sold Kyoto
By David Wojick
From Electricity Daily, January 6, 2003

The successful Canadian federal campaign for Kyoto Protocol ratification is a case study in political deception. It should be studied by politicians everywhere. Environment Minister David Anderson, who ran the campaign, was brilliant.

Every policy campaign has the same basic strategy: hype the good aspects of the policy and downplay the bad. For the Kyoto accord this was particularly challenging.

On the good side, Kyoto has no benefits at all. It is a symbolic first step to greenhouse gas stabilization, assuming that is possible. The protocol is projected to have no effect on arresting climate change. Anderson occasionally tipped his hand, calling Kyoto the "first step in a long journey." The question he consistently ducked was, "first step to what?"

So there would appear to be nothing good to work with.

The economic studies all show that Kyoto is costly, if not downright wrenching. Paul Martin, likely the next prime minister, put it succinctly: "Canadians deserve to know that, in order to meet our Kyoto commitments as a nation, we will have to introduce fundamental changes in the way we manage our economy and in the way we live our lives." How do you downplay something like this?

Anderson pulled it off, creating massive benefits where none exist. He continually raised the specter of destructive climate change, as though Canadians had to choose between the cost of Kyoto and the cost of a worse climate. He adopted a litany --"The best estimates of climate-change scientists are that we will see more severe weather events, not fewer. We will see more people affected by floods or drought in this country. We will see more impacts on agriculture and our forests." Prime Minister Jean Chretien topped off this hype with the claim that Canadians would be dying from climate change in 30 years.

Kyoto does not reduce future damages. This was a false choice; Anderson and Chretien knew it. But it worked.

Then a more powerful benefits-concept slowly took over the issue. Kyoto became known as a "clean air" deal. In the last few months of public debate, the major papers were running several Kyoto stories a day. This necessitated the use of stock phrases to present the basics and "clean air" was ever present, much to the dismay of critics. Despite loud railing, they were never able to dislodge this insidious descriptor.

Of course, Kyoto is not about air quality; it is about climate change. But there was a tenuous element of truth to this concept, just enough to make it not quite a lie. One of the principles of policy campaigns is that half, quarter, or even eighth truths are okay, but try not to flat-out lie.

The truth is that some of the measures proposed to reduce GHG emissions also reduce pollution. Other measures could increase pollution. In any case, pollution is a separate issue, but that didn't matter. Kyoto became the "Clean Air Treaty." This was tactically brilliant. It relegated critics to the well-known losing position of arguing cost against health. Another false choice, but no matter. It worked.

So Anderson miraculously created the dual benefits of saving Canadians from the scourge of climate change and cleaning the air to boot. How did he handle those huge costs and wrenching life-style changes? He finessed them.

The federal government stonewalled the cost issue by refusing to say how it was going to be done. The so-called "Kyoto plans" were always vague wish lists. Transport might switch to hydrogen. People might insulate their homes. There were options. When pressed, they came up with more options. The advantage of this tactic is that no one actually faces a cost, just some vague possibilities. There were aggregate costs, but these are generally meaningless.

Then too there was a skillful counter-cost argument. Canada will develop Kyoto technologies that it will sell to the rest of the world. Everyone else is planning on doing that too, but no matter. Kyoto will make Canada rich, not poor. A stunning argument, and it worked.

So that's how Anderson did it. He hyped the benefits to astronomical levels, buried the costs in a morass of intangibility. I have seen this game played many times before, never so well.


5. Response to various critics of Policy Forum article

Our Policy Forum paper (Science, Sep 20, 2002) documents that engineering tests and analyses of radioactivity from molten nuclear fuels, with failed containment [of reactor], under realistic worst-case assumptions, would produce few, if any, casualties.

Commenters have made no attempt to answer the referenced reports that support this conclusion and refute their position. Commenters have questioned the use of Sandia tests that rocketed an aircraft into a concrete block. These tests were not intended to prove containment invulnerability, but to confirm calculations that impact energy disintegrates large aircraft, with little penetration. Containment damage itself cannot lead to reactor damage.

But we examined worse accidents or terrorist events that destroy redundant plant systems, inside or outside containment, or rupturing containment penetrations, producing ground-level, unfiltered releases. Even in this extreme situation, the radioactivity remains largely bound in the fuel. Condensing water and the physical-chemical properties of fuel retains most radioactivity in water and structures (as at Three Mile Island). Condensing water limits releases, which are not in readily dispersible forms, nor do they remain in respirable forms. This minimizes inhalation hazards (1).

Spent-fuel-pool radioactivity has lost the short-lived and most volatile products and has insufficient energy to disperse in hazardous forms. Even hypothesized zirconium fires would only burn cladding and structures, external to the fuel, adding little to the radioactivity release. In the worst-case scenario, near-plant contamination would warrant evacuation, but not urgently; there would be time for evacuation without significant public-health risk. Radioactivity dispersed widely has lower concentrations, in low-hazard forms.

Our Policy Forum documented [in notes (11-15)] that even ejecting Chernobyl radioactivity directly to the environment, burning for 10 days, without evacuation or interdicting contaminated food, caused few, if any, deaths or injuries among the public. (Most evacuated-area dose-rates remained below those of high natural-radiation areas.) The average effective dose (8.2 mSv in 5 million people) is small compared with doses from hundreds of millions of relevant medical exposures showing no adverse effects at much higher doses (2, 3). Brenner and von Hippel correctly note increased thyroid cancer rates from the Chernobyl accident (about 2000 cases) but do not acknowledge that the references we cited document that these cases are readily treated, producing few if any (none confirmed) fatalities, with expected normal health and life-span, with patients taking thyroid hormones. No other cancer increases have been identified.

Analyses that predict many deaths use invalid release quantities, materials characteristics, dispersion, dose estimates, and dose consequences. For example, the Department of Energy spent-fuel-cask missile-damage study assumes no cleanup and exposes "victims" for 1 year. Even so, the highest dose is tolerable, and if the "victims" walked away, it would be negligible.

Similarly, a Nuclear Regulatory Commission report falsely "predicts" radiation deaths 500 miles from spent fuel fires (4). Brenner concedes that the issues of nuclear terrorism relate to a very small individual lifetime risk, but he claims that multiplied by a very large number of people, it presents a significant public-health concern, using linear no-threshold (LNT) assumptions. Lyman similarly "predicts" thousands of deaths.

But there is no scientific basis for such predictions. NCRP-121 states, "Few experimental studies, and essentially no human data, can be said to prove, or even provide direct support for the concept... It is conceptually possible, but with a vanishingly small probability, that any of these effects could result from the passage of a single charged particle... It is a result of this type of reasoning that a linear non-threshold dose response relationship cannot be excluded." (5, p. 45). NCRP-136, cited by Brenner, states "It is important to note that the rates of cancer in most populations exposed to low-level radiation have not been found to be detectably increased, and that in most cases the rates have appeared to be decreased." (6, p. 6) The LNT fails at every level---molecular, cellular, microorganism, animal, and human. Organisms' responses produce beneficial, nonlinear health effects (7).

Natural radiation varies from below 1 mSv/year to 10 mSv/year, with local areas exceeding 100 mSv/year. Inhabitants of high radiation areas show average or better health and cancer rates (8). Following Roentgen's 1895 x-ray discovery, low-dose radiation (LDR) was found to produce immunological stimulation, curing infections and inflammatory diseases and enhancing physiological conditions (9); by the 1920s, it was found to prevent and cure some cancers (10).

We referenced [notes (21-22) in our Policy Forum] information that relevant mechanisms are being elucidated: Radiation produces consistent biphasic responses in vivo: on immune cells and molecules; transcription factors; and enzymes, genes, and intercellular communications; etc. LDR responses are consistent with medical and health benefits (7). Antibiotics have largely replaced LDR therapies (11), but positive LDR effects on biology and health remain. Oak Ridge hospital facilities successfully exposed patients at moderate dose rates for hours and low dose rates for days (12). LDR, including radon therapies, is applied worldwide, with physicians' prescriptions, and is covered by medical insurance.

Commenters objected to our asserting that LDR is essential to life. But relevant, confirmed, uncontroverted data show detrimental health effects and biological functions when organisms are "protected" from background radiation (13) and in experiments using potassium with potassium-40 removed, e.g., in the Oak Ridge calutrons (14).

The 17 authors are all members of the National Academy of Engineering, but this statement does not constitute an official statement of the Academy.



1.See, for example, M. Levenson, F. Rahn, "Realistic estimates of the consequences of nuclear accidents" (Electric Power Research Institute, , Palo Alto, CA, 1980), and the 48 references therein.

2.For example, R. S. Yalow, Mayo Clinic Proc. 69, 436 (1994).

3.For example, A. Berrington, S. C. Darby, H. A. Weiss, R. Doll, Br. J. Radiol. 74, 507 (2001).

4. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), NUREG/CR-6672 (NRC, Washington, DC, 2000).

5. Principles and Application of Collective Dose in Radiation Protection (Report 121, National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, Bethesda, MD, 1995).

6. Evaluation of the Linear-Nonthreshold Dose-Response Model for Ionizing Radiation (Report 136, National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, Bethesda, MD, 2001).

7.S. Kojima, H. Ishida, M. Takahashi, K. Yamaoka, Radiat. Res. 157, 275 (2002).This and other supporting research is available at J. Muckerheide, Ed., Low Level Radiation Health Effects: Compiling the Data (Radiation, Science, & Health, Inc., Needham, MA, ed. 2, 1998) (searchable by author and by topic, with annual update supplements).)

8. See M. Tubiana, Radiat Environ. Biophys. 39, 3 (2000), and other reports on variations in natural background radiation available at

9. See A. Richards, Science 42, 287 (1915), and other early 20th century low-dose studies on physiological responses described at

10. S. Russ, H. Chambers, G. M. Scott, Proc. R. Soc. London 92, 125 (1921), and other early LDR therapeutic data available at

11. LDR is still sometimes used when antibiotics and anti-inflammatories fail, e.g., in some arthritic conditions, and radon therapies are used extensively and successfully by medical direction in Europe, Russia, and elsewhere. LDR had 95% success treating gas gangrene, largely eliminating any amputation, whereas current practice is to amputate and use antibiotics, with 30 to 70% mortality (15).

12. Human radiation studies: Remembering the early years, Oral history of pathologist Clarence Lushbaugh, M.D., conducted 5 October 1994 (Report DOE/EH-0453; DE96-009839, Department of Energy, Washington, DC, 1995) (available at

13. H. Planel et al., Health Phys. 52, 571 (1987).

14. T. D. Luckey, Radiat. Res. 108, 215 (1986).

15. J. F. Kelly, D. A. Dowell, Radiology 37, 421 (1941).

16.. James Muckerheide, Director of the Center for Nuclear Technology and Society at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Massachusetts State Nuclear Engineer, contributed to authoring this response.


6. Thorium reactors in the future?

Uranium is still plentiful and cheap, but with the expected growth in nuclear power our present "once-through" use of U will soon raise its price. The use of U and Pu from US and Russian weapons will delay this price rise, as will the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel now in storage at reactor sites. But there is great enthusiasm for using plentiful thorium and converting it through breeders into fissionable U-233 (which yields no plutonium). Read about it in a study by Prof Michael Higatsberger of the Univ of Vienna, former head of nuclear research for the govt of Austria.


7. Here are U.S. statistics for 1902: For comparison.
Courtesy of Gary D. Sharp

1. The average life expectancy in the U.S. was forty-seven (47).

2. Only 14 Percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub.

3. Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone. A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars.

4. There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S. and only 144 miles of paved roads.

5. The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

6. Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California. With a mere 1.4 million residents, California was only the 21st most populous state in the Union.

7. The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.

8. The average wage in the U.S. was 22 cents an hour.

9. The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year.

10. A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

11. More than 95 percent of all births in the U.S. took place at home.

12. Ninety percent of all U.S. physicians had no college education. Instead, they attended medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and by the government as "substandard".

13. Sugar cost four cents a pound. Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen. Coffee cost fifteen cents a pound.

14. Most women only washed their hair once a month and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

15. Canada passed a law prohibiting poor people from entering the country for any reason.

16. The five leading causes of death in the U.S. were:
1. Pneumonia and influenza 2. Tuberculosis 3. Diarrhea 4. Heart disease 5. Stroke

17. The American flag had 45 stars. Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii and Alaska hadn't been admitted to the Union yet.

18. The population of Las Vegas, Nevada was 30.

19. Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn't been invented.

20. There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.

21. One in ten U.S. adults couldn't read or write. Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.

22. Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at corner drugstores. According to one pharmacist, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and the bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health."

23. Eighteen percent of households in the U.S had at least one full-time servant or domestic.

24. There were only about 230 reported murders in the entire U.S.

And we had malaria, typhus, TB -- and no DDT or .antibiotics. As they say, "We've come a long way, Baby!"



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