The Week That Was
June 7, 2003

1. New on the Web: SALLIE BALIUNAS, IN THE SCOTSMAN, POINTS TO RESEARCH SHOWING THAT THE 20TH CENTURY WAS NOT THE WARMEST IN 1000 YEARS -AS CLAIMED BY THE UN-IPCC. See: Soon, Willie and Sallie Baliunas, 2003. Proxy climatic and environmental changes of the past 1000 years. Climate Research 23:89-110, January 31, 2003. Also: Soon, Willie, Sallie Baliunas, Craig Idso, Sherwood Idso and David R. Legates, 2003. Reconstructing Climatic and Environmental Changes of the Past 1000 Years: A Reappraisal. Energy & Environment, 14:233-296, March 2003.








2. Yet another modeling exercise predicts a future warming

WASHINGTON -- For the first time, scientists have incorporated multiple human and natural factors into a climate projection model. They predict that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, due to changes in the carbon cycle, combined with a decrease in human-produced sulphates, may cause accelerated global warming during the 21st century, as compared with simulations without these feedback effects.

The climate-carbon cycle experiment completed by Jones and his colleagues is the first to take a more comprehensive Earth-systems approach to climate modeling. This "all-forcings experiment," or ALL, incorporates carbon dioxide emissions, non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases, human-produced sulphate aerosol levels, the reflection of solar radiation associated with sulphate in the atmosphere (the "albedo effect"), atmospheric ozone levels, levels of solar radiation, the effects of volcanic eruptions, and climate-carbon cycle feedbacks.

Discrepancies between observed temperature trends in the 20th century and climate simulations that consider only a limited number of factors have hindered the ability of some models to predict future climate change. The ALL model was, however, able to recreate observed temperature records for the 20th century, illustrating the importance of including multiple factors in climate change projections. Also, the rise in carbon dioxide simulated by ALL more closely matches the observed carbon dioxide rise than did previous models. The researchers say that this indicates that mechanisms other than direct carbon dioxide emissions caused by human activity also contribute to the observed trend. Jones and his colleagues were also able to replicate estimates of the amount of carbon currently stored in the oceans and on land worldwide.

With regard to future climate predictions, ALL shows that predicted reductions in human sulphate emissions will cause a reduction in the cooling effect associated with sulphates in the atmosphere, or a net warming. The model predicts that the resultant warming will enhance soil respiration, meaning that the increased amounts of carbon stored in the soil during the 20th century will be released into the atmosphere, causing a faster rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide. By the end of the 21st century, the authors state, the increase in carbon dioxide and decrease of sulphates will cause a substantially higher global warming of 5.5 degrees Celsius [9.9 degrees Fahrenheit] compared with 4 degrees Celsius [7 degrees Fahrenheit] when these interactions are neglected.

Citation: Jones, C. D., P. M. Cox, R. L. H. Essery, D. L. Roberts, and M. J. Woodage, Strong carbon cycle feedbacks in a climate model with interactive CO2 and sulphate aerosols, Geophys. Res. Lett., 30(9), 1479, doi:10.1029/2003GL016867, 2003.


SEPP Comment on UK Met Office's New Computer Model Predicting Accelerated Global Warming

We view this as yet another pitiful and ultimately useless modeling exercise.

The predicted stronger future warming depends not only on uncertain predictions of future emissions of SO2. It neglects the indirect effects of sulfate aerosols (enhancing cloudiness) and other aerosols like black carbon (BC) and organic carbon (OC). As in the past century, climate is likely to be controlled by solar variability -- which is not yet subject to prediction.

As far as the alleged positive feedback from CO2 released by soil respiration: If it were really important, we would see it in the CO2 record of the early 20th century when the climate warmed strongly.


3. A critique of WSJ review of "Passive Smoking"
Letter to Editor, WSJ, by Natalie Sirkin

Your biased account of a new study of ETS, Environmental Tobacco Smoke ("Passive Smoke Doesn't Kill People-or Does It?" B1, March 16) better belongs in the New York Times than the Wall Street Journal. It gives four paragraphs to discussing the study and twelve to reporting attacks upon it by those who don't want to hear that ETS does not cause heart or lung disease.

The study it purports to review, published in the May 17 British Medical Journal, is "Environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality in a prospective study of Californians, 1960-98." Your attack says other medical journals declined to publish it, which if true may reflect not on the study but on their willingness to publish studies contrary to their view.

Your attack demeans "lead author" Enstrom's academic qualifications while omitting the name of co-author Professor Geoffrey Kabat, a member of EPA's Science Advisory Board on ETS. Professor Kabat's criticisms of the EPA report are quoted with approval by Federal District Judge Osteen, who overturned it.

Your article claims, "Recent studies have vastly different findings." Not so for the major studies. EPA's Science Advisory Board concluded, "We presently know little about causes of lung cancer in persons who have never smoked." The studies by EPA and WHO conclude that ETS is not even trivially linked to lung cancer (or heart disease, investigated by WHO). Epidemiologists regard relative risks of 1 to 2.5 as weak and meaningless. The EPA's relative risk is 1.19 of a non-smoking wife's getting lung cancer from a smoker-husband. WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer's relative risk is 1.18. Enstrom-Kabat's RRs are even smaller.

With the RR for electromagnetic fields at 3.0, EPA dismissed it, though many of the 40 EMF studies showed cancer risks nearly ten times larger than ETS's. The Enstrom-Kabat study finds RRs of 0.94 for coronary heart disease and 0.75 for lung cancer among 9,619 men; and among 25,942 women, 1.01 and 0.99 respectively. RRs below 1.0 mean that decreasing heart or lung disease is linked to increasing ETS--in other words, that ETS is a good thing.

Gori and Mantel have calculated that the average person exposed to ETS annually receives a chemical dose that is less than he would receive from smoking one cigarette dispersed over the course of a year.

Enstrom-Kabat conclude, "The association between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease and lung cancer may be considerably weaker than generally believed." Enstrom-Kabat, defying the rules of political correctness, must be duly squelched. With your article, the deed is done!


4. Study Casts Doubt on Environmental Breast Cancer Link in Marin County:

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco found that breast cancer rates in Marin County, California, which are among the nation's highest, are not correlated to how long women live in that area. This finding casts doubts on activist allegations that environmental factors are responsible for the elevated breast cancer rate.

Instead, researchers concluded that alcohol consumption is the risk factor most strongly correlated with breast cancer among those women. According to the Associated Press, women diagnosed with breast cancer were twice as likely to have consumed two drinks a day than women without cancer and four time mores likely than healthy women to consume three drinks a day. The Marin County study compared 285 women with breast cancer to 286 healthy women.


5. North Sea Study: Oil, Gas Emit More Radioactivity Than Nuclear
Nucleonics Week -May 15, 2003

North Sea oil and gas operations now contribute more man-made radioactivity to North European marine waters than the nuclear industry, according to the Marina II study, a European Commission (EC)-funded project undertaken by international experts to update data on the impact of radioactivity in the region's seas.

The study found that nuclear industry discharges to sea are back at the same level as the early 1950s, and that naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) now dominate doses to the European Union (EU) population from industrial discharges, both in terms of alpha activity and overall impact (collective dose).

Norway is the largest oil producer in the North Sea and is estimated to provide the greatest impact from current discharges. Norway is closely followed by the U.K., with Denmark and the Netherlands contributing relatively little. In 2000, according to the study, radioactive discharges from the non-nuclear industries were estimated to contribute more than 90% of the European population's total exposure from discharges into the marine region covered by the Ospar (Oslo &Paris) Convention.

Oil and gas operations contributed 35.3% and phosphates, 55.4%. This compared with the contribution to the collective dose rate from discharges of 3.8% from British Nuclear Fuels plc's (BNFL) Sellafield reprocessing complex, 1.7% from Cogema's La Hague facilities, 3.3% from weapons fallout, 0.2% from Chernobyl fallout, and 0.1% from nuclear power stations.

However, the overall impact of the discharges to the EU population can be gauged from the fact that, even at the discharges' peak, the collective dose rate was around a factor of 20 less than the annual collective dose from natural radioactivity in the marine environment. The Marina II results have been circulating within the expert community for some time and have been placed on the Internet and issued as a "Radiation Protection 132 Pre-Publication Copy," but the official report is not expected to be published for another month or so.

NORM is discharged as a result of phosphate fertilizer production, although such discharges have been reduced since the 1990s, and from the extraction of oil and gas from the continental shelf in the North Sea, mainly in the Norwegian and U.K sectors. NORM accumulates as scale inside pipework and valves at offshore oil and gas production platforms. It also gathers as sludge in separator tanks and other vessels. It is discharged in "produced water " and its radionuclides of radium--226 and Ra-228 and Pb-210 (lead) become available in concentrated form for consumption by marine biota.

The study was managed by U.K.-based NNC Ltd. under a contract with the EC's Directorate General for Environment. NNC worked with experts belonging to scientific institutions such as the U.K.'s National Radiological Protection Board, the Netherlands' Institute for Fishery Investigation and NRG nuclear consultancy, Denmark 's Riso National Laboratory, France's CEPN, Russia's SPA Typhoon, and Ireland's University College in Dublin. The team collaborated with Greenpeace, IAEA, the International Union of Radioecologists, Friends of the Earth, and the World Nuclear Association.

The study's results have been considered by the Ospar parties and resulted in a decision to recommend the reporting of discharges from the non-nuclear industries. The Ospar Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North East Atlantic was established in 1992. Its target is to ensure that radioactive discharges to the marine environment in the region are reduced to levels "close to zero" by 2020.

The Marina II data is expected to help establish a baseline against which progress in implementing the strategy can be evaluated. The Marina II study can be accessed at:


6. A hopeful comment on SARS

One remarkable feature was the rapid identification and characterization of the virus, taking only 10 days. Another positive development from the SARS epidemic was the active collaboration between scientists and laboratories from different continents. We may be thankful some day for having had this experience. If and when a new viral disease appears in future -- whether natural or manmade -- the world will be better prepared -- thanks to the SARS opportunity to test defenses.


7. More news from the UN Climate bureau

Just in: Celebrate he ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by Kyrgyzstan. And if Russia should finally decide that they have extracted all of the possible concessions from the European Union, they may ratify also. In that case, the score for CO2 emitters who have ratified will go from its present 43.9% to 61.3%. The magic number that activates Kyoto is 55%.

At the latest, Monaco and Liechtenstein are still holding out. Oh, of course, Australia and the US have not ratified either.



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