The Week That Was
September 7-13, 1998

Last month President Bill Clinton went to Russia, where citizens were making a run on the banks, and spoke on the perils of global warming. He went to a September 10 Democrat Party fundraiser in Florida, where Democrats are in deep trouble, and spoke on the perils of global warming. With such insight into human concerns, perhaps it's no surprise that September is now shaping up as the hottest month on record, at least for Bill Clinton.

Vice President Al Gore, of course, made HIS regular announcement about the "hottest month on record" last week. This time it's August. Mr. Gore must be having a hard time peddling global warming. We've noticed that in recent months his office has been issuing these announcements through U.S. Newswire, a Washington-based commercial service that hires professional journalists to write up press releases as news stories, which it then puts out over the wire. The aim is for newspaper editors to pick up these canned stories and to print them, spin and all.

Mr. Gore has good reason to be anxious about controlling the message. Associated Press reporter Randolph Schmid did his own write-up of Gore's "August was the hottest ever" announcement and characterized it as a broken record. Schmid then tagged Gore as the "prime proponent" of man-made global warming and noted there was "disagreement on this theory in the scientific community." Worse, Schmid added some facts that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration prudently included in it's official press release on August temperatures, but which Mr. Gore left out--that the "wettest" January through August in the United States was in 1979; the "warmest" was in 1934.

More trouble in paradise. The Gas Research Institute sees the Kyoto Protocol, if implemented, boosting prices for natural gas by putting demand out ahead of supply. GRI analysts expect to nail down an exact figure over the next few months. New Scientist columnist Rob Edwards is already warning not to look to nuclear power for any backup. Nuclear is too expensive, he claims, and many of the processes that produce nuclear fuel use energy and thus create greenhouse-gas emissions. Edwards fails to note similar problems with so-called "renewable" energy, which he recommends.

British Professor of biogeography Philip Stott, of the University of London, is becoming a regular in the "Letters" section of U.S. newspapers. Responding last week to a Los Angeles Times editorial lamenting the Kyoto Protocol's "faded dream," Stott makes an important point: "The desire to criminalize human beings as the root cause of change, which is patently ridiculous in the light of the millions of factors controlling climate, is ultimately dangerous and deflects us from the ever-present need for humans to be ready to adapt to change, whatever direction it takes, warmer, cooler, wetter, drier."

Too true. International bureaucrats forget that humankind survived the last major Ice Age with little more in the way of resources than fire, spears, and animal hides. Today, the resources for adapting to climate are far greater, but nearly all of them--whether heating or air-conditioning systems--require energy, the use of which would be curtailed under Kyoto. Well, we could always go back to spears, but animal-rights activists would get after us on the hides. And no fire, of course. Releases CO2.

In other issues, the controversy over silicone gel breast implants--like the Alar scare, orchestrated by the activist PR firm Fenton Communications--has taken another hit. A prestigious panel of British physicians and scientists, formed last year to review all of the research on the issue, recently concluded that "risks to patients associated with the use of silicone gel breast implants are no greater than for other implants." Former U.S. Food and Drug Administrator David Kessler, now dean of the Yale University Medical School, concedes his ban may have been an overreaction.

Actually we remember the FDA press briefing on this issue, and the real thrust of it was that American women shouldn't "want" breast implants, which, it seems, is the government's stance on a number of other issues as well. Americans shouldn't "want" to smoke, drink, drive, eat junk/fatty foods, etc., so let's fund a study that supports a tax or, in this case, a ban. Although a bit late on the breast-implant issue, at least the science is now being considered more carefully.

Speaking of science considered more carefully, the science supporting secondhand smoke regulation has been panned again--this time in the September 8 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal by two physicians with the London Health Sciences Centre, Chest Diseases Unit. "We loathe and detest tobacco companies for their evasion, lies, and attempts to trick adolescents and others into taking up smoking," Drs. Dildar Ahmad and W. Keith Morgan write. "However, the rejection of truth and the acceptance of unproven hypotheses to further one's concept of ethics or social justice is wrong too. Many studies involving secondhand smoke are not convincing, and answers about whether it causes lung cancer are far from established. Unfortunately, it has become customary to torture the data until they confess. We need more science, less hyperbole, and less enthusiasm for unproven points of view."

Yet another blow to bureaucrats: New research announced last week indicates that simply switching beef cattle from corn to hay a few days before they are slaughtered virtually eliminates the risk of E. coli bacteria being transmitted to humans who eat ground beef. Imagine that. We can improve food safety without creating another regulatory agency.

Finally, a United Nations study released September 6 says that a bumper crop of twenty-somethings could lead to high birth rates, producing water shortages, famines, pollution, terrorism, and generally dooming the environment. This prompted CNN founder and Green activist Ted Turner, father of five and owner of several large estates, to intone that couples should limit themselves to one child to keep from overcrowding the planet.

Why is it that those who profess to be terribly concerned about overpopulation never seem to hold themselves responsible, either for the problem or the solution?

Someone should fund research on this. Until next week...

TW2 is compiled by SEPP Research Associate Candace Crandall

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