The Week That Was
April 26 - May 2

TWTW readers write: "My daughter couldn’t find . Was it just a joke?" MSG TO ALL FROG LOVERS: IT WAS SIMPLY OUR ERROR. The CORRECT Dept of Interior site is GET IT? ..FROG…WEB…NOW THAT’S SOME KIND OF A JOKE.

More FROG news: From the New York Times (4/30/99): "Parasites, not pollution, may produce frog deformities," like missing limbs or worse. The research, led by herpetologist Prof. Stanley Sessions will appear in the next issue of Science. But the pollution advocates are not about to quit; listen to Dr. Judy Helgen of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. In spite of the new study, she insists, "for us, chemicals are the leading hypothesis." THERE YOU GO, JUDY; INSTINCTS ARE ALWAYS BETTER THAN SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE. RIGHT? What about the "dwindling minority of scientific naysayers" (to use "Gorey" terminology) who still espouse ozone depletion? They won’t quit either, even in the absence of observed UV trends. And what about GLOBAL WARMING? Well, the Washington Post (4/15/99) found someone in Costa Rica who thinks that’s why frogs are croaking.

CORRECTION: Baxter International did NOT cave in to Greenpeace’s anti-PVC campaign, as reported last week. The Greenpeace release alleged this by distorting a Baxter announcement about its ongoing material development program.

Talking of PVC, Michael Fumento recently published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, criticizing Time magazine for a scary article about the safety of vinyl medical products. Time later ran a "clarification" of the story. Fumento cautioned that irresponsible reporting creates unnecessary public alarm: "One cheer for Time, for acknowledging its mistake, and two jeers for fomenting fear by running the story in the first place."

And now on to something quite different. Which government climate scientist should you believe? Rich Tinker at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center analyzed US data and found a cooling trend since 1966, running counter to what climate models have been predicting and many Americans have been reading. [Actually, winters have become warmer, but the average is still a cooling]. By contrast, his NOAA colleague, David Easterling, at the National Climate Data Center sees a U.S. warming, basing his study on longer-term data than Tinker’s: (His data go back to 1900, instead of 1941.) And finally, the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder announced that the world temperature will rise by 3 degree F in the next century because of increases in carbon dioxide emissions.

Give up? Here’s the answer: Easterling sees a warming trend because he includes the period 1900 to 1940, when there was a sharp recovery from the Little Ice Age. Tinker’s result is more significant since it covers the more recent period during which CO2 level increased rapidly. And what about NCAR? It boils down to this: Should one believe in the atmosphere or should one believe in theoretical climate model? We think that the atmosphere, which shows no perceptible warming, knows best what’s going on.

We have learned what happens to a government meteorologist who writes a politically incorrect research paper, showing that CO2 is not producing a significant greenhouse effect. According to an e-mail we received from his wife, word came down directly from the Administration that his paper was to be shredded… which it was. Thereafter he was continuously harassed until he retired last year. He was told that the evidence uncovered in his research was "not what NOAA is about."

Honda has become the first major automaker to pull the plug on its electric car production, angering the California Air Resources Board that mandated zero-emission vehicles. Another example of what is called "technology-forcing" regulation! Now the air-quality watchdogs are growling, claiming that the technology exists but the greedy companies won’t use it; or that the technology could be developed but the companies refuse because it would hurt their obscene profits. So the activists demand that the government "put [automakers’] feet to the fire." Then, they claim, the public will reap the benefits.

But Honda expects to market a "hybrid" electric car by the end of 1999, using a one-liter, three-cylinder gas engine. Its emission is minimal; it will get about 70 miles per gallon, and cost less than $20,000. But this technical achievement doesn’t impress the zealots: "They’re thumbing their noses at our air pollution laws," claims (with a straight face) the Union of "Confused" Scientists. Meanwhile, the Air Board is researching legal options to force Honda to make all-battery electric cars that the public doesn’t want.

Litigation in the Southern Hemisphere. The Dominion (Wellington, New Zealand) reports that an Auckland woman, encouraged by law suits against tobacco companies in the US, plans to take legal action against NZ power companies. She blames fossil fuel producers for global warming and recent flooding …but also for ozone depletion. "When people realise these companies are to blame for their skin cancer, for losing their homes… when we get enough victims…we will go and sue these people." Asked about standard of proof, she said: "We’ll get good lawyers. These companies won’t get away with lying." NO SIREE!

Just out. Bob Zelnick’s book "Al Gore: A Political Life" published by Regnery Publications. A lot of interesting material, including Gore’s interactions with and actions against several environmental scientists: Dr. Sherwood Idso of Arizona State University: Professor Will Happer of Princeton University; Dr. Henry Miller, now at the Hoover Institution at Stanford; the late Dr. Roger Revelle, whom Gore met at Harvard University, and Dr. S. Fred Singer, President of the Science & Environmental Policy Project.

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