The Week That Was
February 8-14, 1999

Remember, just yesterday it seems, being made to feel a failure because your kids were existing on a diet of burgers and fries? Well rejoice. Here's the same song, second verse. Consumer Reports, once an impeccable source of solid, fact-based information until it was taken over by Green activists a few years back, is now helping the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launch a new scare about pesticide residues on fresh fruits and vegetables. Consumer Reports (Feb. 18th issue) claims that even a single serving of some produce can exceed a child's safe daily limit of pesticides. Chiming in, the EPA (Reuters, Feb. 13) is urging parents to "wash, scrub, peel, and trim fresh produce" because "youngsters' developing nervous systems and organs can be affected by the large amounts of pesticides typically found on apples, potatoes and other foods."

"Large amounts" was not defined apparently, but one has to wonder if these pesticides are really all that effective in bumping off the kiddies. After all, life expectancy is continually being adjusted upward, which, as we noted just last week, has the population crusaders all atwitter about the "graying" of America and what a pain the old folks will be on the next generation.

But try not to look confused; it could be a "symptom." Just grab that broccoli spear out of Junior's hand, pay your taxes early, and nod at whatever the bureaucrats say is good for you--which, at the moment, is organically grown food (significantly increases the risk of serious illness from E. coli and salmonella bacteria), "alternative" medicine (forget antibiotics, take this herb), and the possibility that the religion of "native peoples" will help save the Earth from global warming.

They are quite serious. Just last fall the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) sought the counsel of several hundred "native elders" at a five-day get-together in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Called the "Circle of Wisdom Native Peoples/Native Homelands Climate Change Workshop," the purpose of the meeting, according to an op-ed by U.C Berkeley activist academics Patrisia Gonzalez and Roberto Rodriguez, was to "merge the wisdom and knowing of people who understand the responsibilities that humans have to the Earth and the knowledge of nonnative scientists."

Merge they did. The nonnatives prophesied a 5 to 15 degree Fahrenheit increase in northern hemisphere temperatures over the next 20 years. The natives prophesied a time when the people would be confused, the old and young would die first, the trees would die from the tops down, and the world would be in danger. Your tax dollars at work.

There's more. Rep. Dan Burton (R-Indiana. Who says Republicans aren't "trendy"?) has scheduled a hearing February 24th before the House Government Reform Committee to discuss "Patient Access to Alternative Medicine." Lead witness, according to Robert Park of the American Physical Society, will be actress Jane Seymour, who plays the title role in the television series "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman." Can there be any higher scientific authority?

That same global warming that is going to raise temperatures as much as 15 degrees F over the next 20 years was wreaking havoc all last week--heavy snow across large parts of Europe brought air, train, and automobile travel to a standstill; avalanches continued in the Alps and in Washington state's "Rumble Gully"; Puerto Ricans had to scramble to find sweaters as temperatures briefly plunged to 48 degrees F.

There is a silver lining, however. No one is whining about melting glaciers. Also, the avalanches may postpone plans by environmentalists with the Swiss Institute for Snow to study the alleged detrimental effects of artificial snow on the "fragile" alpine ecosystem--Round 1 in the activists' attack on the ski industry.

Coral bleaching--variously blamed on global warming, pollution, the El Nino, or even dust storms in the Sahara--may be part of a natural cycle, according to a report in Science magazine (vol. 283, p. 843). A team of scientists studied a coral reef off Mauritius from 1991 to 1997 and found that the symbiotic algae in the coral tips showed a strong seasonal cycle. The algae give the reefs their color, but their numbers in summer were sometimes so low that the corals simply "appeared" bleached. Go figure.

Meanwhile, President Clinton is meeting with Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo to discuss, among other things (including floating Mexico a loan to buy U.S. goods), joint efforts to combat global warming. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook is all set to unveil a new "green foreign policy" initiative designed to push "climate protection" higher up Britain's international agenda. A woman in New Zealand wants to file a lawsuit to stop global warming. (She doesn't need proof of global warming, she says, just a "good lawyer.") A mako shark was caught off the coast of Great Britain and promptly attributed to global warming. (Fish species from the extreme depths of the ocean occasionally turn up in fishermen's nets. Does that mean the ocean is inverting itself?) NASA just asked for $35.1 million to give Al Gore his heart's desire: a satellite that will constantly beam a picture of "fragile Earth" onto the Internet. Look out though: anti-technology activist Ted Kaczynski, a.k.a. the Unabomber, just landed a book deal and is seeking a new trial. Kaczynski, whose 16 package bombs killed three people and wounded 29, is reportedly considering the Clinton defense: It all depends on what you mean by "bomb."

Physicist S. Fred Singer gave his two seminars on global warming out at Stanford University last week. In the audience were dozens of Stanford faculty members, including Stephen Schneider, who changed his mind about attending. At the second seminar, there were also two female agitators who appeared to be reading from a prepared "script." Singer asked if they were Stanford students. They readily admitted they were not; they were being paid to attend, they said in front of the audience, by Brandon MacGillis of the Washington-based activist group Ozone Action. Smiles and nods all around. Singer said he'd be happy to send them better information than they were getting from OA. The young ladies left their addresses and phone numbers.

Finally, does anyone recall the research conducted in the late 1960s that purported to show that plants felt pain? A couple of scientists hooked tomato plants and other vegetables up to an EKG machine, then pierced them with a nail. They claimed they got a signal that looked amazingly like a heart attack. In fact, the plants responded negatively even if the scientists just "thought" about piercing them with a nail. It was really quite remarkable, though rather distressing news for vegetarians.

In Chicago, some citizens are quite sensitive to the pain felt by plants. A SEPP fan at the University of Chicago reports that the city recently had to cut down a hundred or so trees in an effort to halt an infestation by the Asian Longhorn beetle (No doubt attributed to global warming, not hitch-hiking on cargo planes). In response, a group of activists held a memorial service at a local church a few days ago, complete with slides of the trees before they were cut down, to help citizens come to terms with their "grief."

Ever get the feeling that some people have too much time on their hands?

Until next week...

TW2 is compiled by SEPP Research Associate Candace Crandall

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