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The Week That Was
(Mar. 19, 2005)
brought to you by SEPP
New on the Web: Poor people in developing nations need electricity to allow economic development, says Paul Driessen. So-called sustainable energy is a recipe for sustained poverty, misery, disease and premature death. (See also in www.sepp.org)
Alden Meyer of the Union of Confused Scientists (UCS) sent us the momentous summary of a momentous conference, discussing all of the big problems facing the world. Yes, poverty is one of them, according to the assembled ministers from 20 nations. But topping all is climate change. (Read all the blaah-blaah in Item #1)
So here is our modest proposal: Instead of GH warming, likely to be only about half a degree by 2100, let us use our resources to tackle the menace of seasonal climate change which reaches 30 degrees or more in our latitudes. After all, if we can send a man to the Moon
But there are folks who really believe all this blarney, including the students at Middlebury (Vermont) College who have been exposed to scientificallychallenged professors and then set up the Flat Earth Award. I just learned about it two weeks ago when the Rutland (VT) Herald called to tell me that I am one of three nominees, running against Rush Limbaugh and Michael Crichton. (See Item #2)
I am actively campaigning for the award. Thanks to you, my friends, I have gone from 18% to 32% in 10 days. Passed Michael Crichton and closing in on Rush. Need only about 200 more votes. But I need your help.
PLEASE VOTE FOR ME! Ask your friends and relations to vote.
Results to be announced on April 1. NO TIME TO LOSE!
Please check http://www.flatearthaward.org where you can vote and read the comments of those who voted. You will have a good chuckle. And it will confirm your faith in NON-warming.
And while you are at it, why not cast your vote for the Adam Smith Institute at
In a strong attack, Lord May accuses the White House of being confused about climate science (Item #3). Current president of the Royal Society and former chief scientist (the post now held by Sir David King), Lord May is himself confused by relying on the 1991 IPCC conclusions about Global Warming. He also quotes for support the June 1991 US National Academy report to the White House, which simply regurgitated the IPCC Summary. But by now most of the IPCC Summary has been scientifically discredited. It's time for May and King et al to listen to other voices.
Not all is lost in Britain, however. Lord Dick Taverne's new book, The March of Unreason, serves to restore some balance. (Item #4)
Nuclear energy is coming back in Europe: now Poland (Item #5). Will Austria ever open its mothballed reactor?
Hormesis is gaining ground (Item #6). And Canada could still get out of the Kyoto Protocol (Item #7).
1. Summary of Proceedings: Energy and Environment Ministerial Roundtable. London, 15-16 March 2005
Ministers from 20 countries and representatives from international organisations, business and non-governmental organisations participated in this innovative event. Ministers with responsibility for energy, economic and environmental issues from both developed and developing countries considered the challenges and opportunities for investment in sustainable and secure energy systems in a lower carbon world.
It was clear that despite different national circumstances, Ministers shared many common goals of energy and environment policy, including creating the conditions for economic development and poverty eradication by improving the accessibility and affordability of modern energy services; providing security of supply with energy systems that are resilient, reliable and diversified; and protecting local and global environmental quality, including addressing greenhouse gas emissions.
In his keynote speech, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, said: If our economies are to flourish, if global poverty is to be banished, and if the well-being of the world's people enhanced not just in this generation but in succeeding generations, we must make sure we take care of the natural environment and the resources on which our economic activity depends. And we now have evidence that climate change is the most far-reaching and almost certainly the most threatening of all the environmental challenges facing us.
2. Vermont Students Launch 'Flat Earth' Award
Rutland Herald, Published Mar 13, 2005
Rush Limbaugh is surely accustomed to accolades by now. Three times he has been named the syndicated radio personality of the year by the National Association of Broadcasters for his hugely popular radio program, "The Rush Limbaugh Show," which reaches about 20 million listeners each week.
Soon, Limbaugh may need to find more room on the mantelpiece, because another less-coveted award may be coming his way: the Flat Earth Award.
Limbaugh leads in online voting for the dubious honor, which was created by three Middlebury College students this winter to expose a prominent public figure for "denial of the facts of global warming." The project was one outcome of a January term class at the college entitled, "Building the New Climate Movement," in which students collaborated with six companies and nonprofit organizations to find new ways to focus public attention on the global climate crisis.
"It's not a serious award, but it's a serious issue," said sophomore Makely Lyon, who created the award with sophomore Minna Brown and senior John Hanley. "We wanted to find something that would catch someone's eye whether they believed in global warming or not, and lead to an educational opportunity. Hopefully people will go to the Web site and learn more about global warming."
The three students developed the award in conjunction with the Green House Network, a Portland, Ore., nonprofit that supports education, outreach and lobbying efforts to promote a clean energy future.
As of March 10, Limbaugh had garnered 45 percent of the 3,200 votes cast in six weeks of polling at the Web site (www.flatearthaward.org). He was nominated by the award's creators for his repeated high-profile insistence that the evidence for global warming is merely the "hysterics of a few pseudo-scientists."
The other nominees for the inaugural award are Dr. S. Fred Singer, president of the Science and Environmental Policy Project, a think tank on climate and environmental issues in Washington, D.C., and author and film director Michael Crichton. Singer has been a leading skeptic of global warming within the scientific community for decades, but is drawing just 18 percent of online votes for the Flat Earth Award.
Crichton was nominated on the basis of the appendices to his 2004 best-selling novel, "State of Fear," in which he dismisses the idea that human production of greenhouse gases will significantly warm the planet and offers selective evidence to support his position. The novel itself tells the story of eco-terrorists who provoke natural disasters to perpetuate a hoax that catastrophic global warming is taking place. Crichton is running second in online voting for the award with 36 percent.
Neither Crichton nor Limbaugh was available for comment, but Singer responded cheerfully to his nomination for the award.
"I feel honored, of course, to be in the company of these two gentlemen," he said, but added that he does not deny that global warming is happening. "I believe that the climate is currently warming as a result of the increase of greenhouse gases. The greenhouse effect is real. However, the effect is minute, insignificant and very difficult to detect. There is a discrepancy between what we expect from theory and the facts, and we need to explain that. That's what we're all working on."
Singer also said that if he were to win the award, he would be happy to collect it in person, so long as his travel expenses were paid and he "didn't have to wear a tuxedo." In fact, Singer proposed that the award finalists be invited to Middlebury to make presentations on global climate change for the student body. "Then they can vote and we can collect our prizes," he said.
But Brown said she wasn't interested in Singer's proposal. "It would have been fun, but the point of the award wasn't to say, 'Here's the other side, and they're wrong.' It's not even a question anymore." As evidence, she pointed to a 2001 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a highly respected body of scientists that was created by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme in 1988. The report predicts that the earth's surface temperatures will rise by an average of 2.4 to 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100, due to rising concentrations of greenhouse gases.
Similarly, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences concluded in a 2001 report that "temperatures are, in fact, rising" around the world, and that a continuation of current trends could produce rising sea levels, increased rainfall and increased susceptibility of semi-arid regions to drought in the future.
This year's Flat Earth Award winner will be announced April 1 at a ceremony at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon. Dr. Jonathan Isham, assistant professor of economics at Middlebury, who taught "Building the New Climate Movement," said it is essential that people begin to understand the opportunities that will come from climate change. "Some of the solutions to global warming are going to be great for society," he said. "There will be millions of new jobs created. We'll have cleaner air in our cities. It's not smoke and mirrors. It's real."
Isham said several other projects completed by students in the climate movement class were also highly successful. One group collaborated with Environmental Defense, the New York-based nonprofit environmental group, to map out a strategy to persuade New Hampshire Sen. John Sununu to support federal legislation on greenhouse gas reduction. Another group worked closely with representatives at Ben and Jerry's to help steer marketing efforts for the company's new ice cream flavor, "Fossil Fuel," which was created in part to raise awareness about global warming.
Perhaps most exciting, Isham said, a team of students began working to create a new coalition of Vermont organizations that will push for action at the state level to slow global warming.
Isham is already acting on some of the recommendations from Hand's group. He is working this spring with another group of students forming a coalition to support legislation recently introduced in the Vermont House that would establish a state climate crisis commission and create goals for greenhouse gas reductions in the state. Passage of the legislation would be one of the first concrete steps toward fulfilling the Climate Change Action Plan that former Gov. Howard Dean embraced at a 2001 summit of New England governors and Eastern Canadian provincial premiers.
3. US Government out on a limb over climate change science, says Lord May
Royal Society press release 15 Mar 2005
Lord May of Oxford, the President of the Royal Society, called on the US Government to make its position on climate change science clear following comments by James L. Connaughton, senior environmental and natural resources adviser to President George W. Bush.
During an interview this morning on the 'Today' programme on BBC Radio 4, Mr Connaughton was asked: "So you accept that carbon emissions and global warming are linked? And that global warming is a threat. Is that now the administration's position?"
Mr Connaughton replied: "I want to be careful about your word choice. We are still working and the issue is serious. We see warming temperatures and we are still working on the issue of causation, the extent to which humans are a factor, that they may be, as well as our understanding of what effects that may result from that over the course of the next century."
Later in the interview, Mr Connaughton claimed that greenhouse gases "do not have present effects" but suggested that emissions "will be reduced substantially over time".
Lord May, who was chief scientific adviser to the UK Government between 1995 and 2000, said: "Mr Connaughton's comments demonstrate how confused the US Government is on climate change. Although there are still some uncertainties about aspects of climate change, the Bush administration does not appear to accept the scientific consensus, which was clearly expressed in the Third Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2001. At no point in his interview did Mr Connaughton refer to the IPCC, which the global scientific community recognises as the most authoritative source of scientific information on climate change and the effects of greenhouse gas emissions."
Lord May added: "The Bush administration appears to be out on a limb on climate change and in disagreement with its own scientific advisers. The President commissioned the United States National Academy of Sciences in 2001 to assess the current understanding of global climate change. The report of this study, published in June 2001, stated: 'The IPCC's conclusion that most of the observed warming of the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations accurately reflects the current thinking of the scientific community on this issue.' Yet Mr Connaughton's comments today appear to suggest that he remains uncertain about the scientific consensus."
"It also appears that because the Bush administration remains confused about the science of climate change, it does not accept the case for taking urgent action to cut emissions of greenhouse gas emissions. We hope that the US Government makes rapid progress in improving its understanding of the science behind climate change in the next few months and that it accepts that the case has been made by the time of the G8 summit in Gleneagles in early July."
4. The March Of Unreason: Science, Democracy, And The New Fundamentalism
By Dick Taverne
Oxford University Press, 318 pages, Price: L 18.99 (Hardback)
Controversial and thought-provoking: Taverne argues that emotional and irrational responses have begun to displace public belief in scientific progress, and that this trend risks losing many of the benefits offered by science.
Wide-ranging: covers topics of international importance such as organic farming, GM crops, environmentalism, the precautionary principle, and the anti-capitalism and anti-globalization movements.
Authoritative: every section has been thoroughly reviewed and checked by experts from relevant scientific fields.
Dick Taverne is a high-profile political commentator, regularly debating issues of democracy and science in magazines and the broadsheet press.
The March of Unreason is a scientific complement to Will Hutton's famous critique of society and politics in Britain, The State We're In, and covers many issues of worldwide importance, such as GM crops and the anti-capitalism movement.
Our daily news bulletins bring us tales of the wonders of science, from Mars rovers and intelligent robots to developments in cancer treatment, and yet often the emphasis is on the potential threats posed by science. It appears that irrationality is on the rise in western society, and public opinion is increasingly dominated by unreflecting prejudice and unwillingness to engage with factual evidence.
From genetically modified crops and food, organic farming, the MMR vaccine, environmentalism, the precautionary principle and the new anti-capitalist and anti-globalisation movements, the rejection of the evidence-based approach nurtures a culture of suspicion, distrust, and cynicism, and leads to dogmatic assertion and intolerance.
In this compelling and timely examination of science and society, Dick Taverne argues that science, with all the benefits it brings, is an essential part of civilised and democratic society: it offers the most hopeful future for mankind.
5. Poland's nuclear age?
by Michal Pakulniewicz a href=mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org mailto:email@example.com
Warsaw Business Journal
Tomasz Podgajniak, the Deputy Environment Minister, has called for the development of nuclear power facilities in Poland. The minister's words are in reaction to the European Union's targets to cut air pollution. Brussels wants to drastically limit CO2 emissions in Europe by 15-30 percent before 2020, and then by 60 percent before 2050. The European Commission is demanding that Poland reduce its plans for 2005-2007 CO2 emissions by 16.5 percent. This means that Poland needs to find sources of energy other than coal, which currently dominates the energy industry.
Renewable sources of energy could supply around 10 percent of Poland's energy needs by 2020, but that still means that a new robust, clean source will be needed to provide the bulk of the country's power. Developing nuclear-power facilities is described as one of the targets of the government's energy policy until 2025, which states that the first nuclear power plant should be opened by 2022.
Nuclear energy has been considered before, but as Dr Stanislaw Latek of the National Atomic Energy Agency said: "Podgajniak is the first to admit that there is no alternative to nuclear energy." What's more, Latek adds that because Poland's dependence on coal will continue to conflict with EU policy, "we might be forced to develop nuclear energy even sooner than the 2020s."
There are 439 nuclear reactors in the world, the bulk of which are in Europe, producing roughly 16 percent of global electricity. Most CEE countries have nuclear reactors - in 2003, 80 percent of Lithuania's electricity came from nuclear plants, while in the Czech Republic and Hungary they account for about one-third of electricity output.
6. Toxicological awakenings: the rebirth of hormesis as a central pillar of toxicology.
Environmental Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts,
Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2005 Apr 1;204(1):1-8.
This paper assesses historical reasons that may account for the marginalization of hormesis as a dose-response model in the biomedical sciences in general and toxicology in particular.
The most significant and enduring explanatory factors are the early and close association of the concept of hormesis with the highly controversial medical practice of homeopathy and the difficulty in assessing hormesis with high-dose testing protocols which have dominated the discipline of toxicology, especially regulatory toxicology.
The long-standing and intensely acrimonious conflict between homeopathy and "traditional" medicine (allopathy) led to the exclusion of the hormesis concept from a vast array of medical- and public-health-related activities including research, teaching, grant funding, publishing, professional societal meetings, and regulatory initiatives of governmental agencies and their advisory bodies.
Recent publications indicate that the hormetic dose-response is far more common and fundamental than the dose-response models [threshold/linear no threshold (LNT)] used in toxicology and risk assessment, and by governmental regulatory agencies in the establishment of exposure standards for workers and the general public. Acceptance of the possibility of hormesis has the potential to profoundly affect the practice of toxicology and risk assessment, especially with respect to carcinogen assessment.
7. There's Hope for Canada
Ian Clark, Professor of Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa
Letter to Ottawa Citizen
Article 27 of the Kyoto Protocol states: "At any time after three years
from the date on which this Protocol has entered into force for a Party,
that Party may withdraw from this Protocol by giving written notification.
Any such withdrawal shall take effect upon expiry of one year from the
date of receipt ... of the notification of withdrawal ..."
That would mean that on Feb. 16, 2008, Canada can withdraw from the
Canadian columnist Mark Steyn, in the Washington Times. March 21, 2005:
It doesn't matter if there is any global warming or, if so, whether Kyoto will do anything about it or, if you ratify Kyoto, whether you bother to comply with it. It only matters that you sign on to the transnational articles of faith.
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