|The Week That Was
January 15, 1999
NEW ON THE SEPP WEB
Prof. Patrick Michaels describes an egregious example of an attempt to censor scientific expression to enforce political correctness (a.k.a. the Kyoto Protocol.)
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As reported in Science (Dec 3. 1999), the EPA and the National Cancer Institute are involved in a bitter battle on the cause of childhood cancers. EPA claims that the rate of cancers among American children has been rising for decades. NCI had assumed that the rate was stable.
Not surprisingly, the EPA blames it all on air and water pollution and pesticides, reacting to the pressures from environmental groups and some scientists. NCI, on the other hand, goes along with scientists who find little evidence that environmental risks are causing the majority of cancers. This is not acceptable to Dr. Steve Galson, former science director of EPA's Children's Health initiative and now in EPA's pesticides office. The NCI team, however, insists that increases likely "reflect diagnostic improvements or reporting changes rather than the effects of environmental influences."
But some scientists disagree with NCI. Dr Philip Landrigan, who's been carrying on the battle for years, claims that children are not only more vulnerable but also more exposed because of eating more fruits. That will surely come as a great surprise to those who believe that fruits and vegetables have important cancer-fighting properties.
The December 9 issue of Nature carries a report that North Sea oil rigs are becoming the homes for thriving colonies of an endangered cold-water coral. They were discovered when the Brent Spar oil platform was recently decommissioned. Apparently, the coral colonies are not adversely affected by the operational discharges from oil platforms.
But rather than welcoming the discovery of the endangered coral, growing rapidly, Greenpeace argues that oil-producing areas licensed by the British government that may contain this coral should be designated as special areas of conservation. One can only marvel at the logic of this proposal
GERMAN GOVERNMENT BACKS DOWN ON NUCLEAR ENERGY
In a stunning turnaround last year, German Environmental Affairs Minister, Jurgen Trittin, of the radical Green Party, announced that he has eliminated from an earlier draft his proposal to ban all nuclear reprocessing by January 2000. [That was the date given in the anti-nuclear platform of the Green Party during the elections of September 1998.] Just in time, we say.
The main objection came from German nuclear workers, supported by nuclear workers in neighboring countries. But the fact that nuclear energy now supplies 34% of Germany's electricity may have also played a role.
TROUBLE IN GREENPEACE LAND
The board of Greenpeace USA has resigned for the second time in two years. According to the New York Times, the board has been having trouble with the current executive director. The problem seems to be related to money; there have been large cutbacks in staff since 1997. Part of the problem also is with Greenpeace International, which last year took $101 million from branches around the world to finance its activities.
DIOXIN IN ICE CREAM?
Restaurant owners are suing the US Department of Health and Human Services, which wants to list dioxin as a known human carcinogen. They are afraid that this will lead to food scares similar to those that occurred last year in Europe . This reminds us, however, that the Competitive Enterprise Institute has exposed the claims of Ben and Jerry's, stalwart Greens, of using dioxin-free containers. Unfortunately for them, their ice cream contains dioxin and that's what people eat, not the container.
Loggers are suing the US Forest Service for foisting the "religion" of Deep Ecology on Americans by adopting it a guiding policy for timber management.
The suit, filed in St. Paul, MN last October contends that the Forest Service accepts the Deep Ecology claim that trees have spiritual value. Therefore, restriction on timber sales violate the Constitution because the government is promoting Deep Ecology religion above others.
This case is not that far-fetched. For instance, a federal judge in New York held recently that a public school's Earth Day ceremony crossed the line into religious advocacy when students were asked to give gifts for Mother Earth and listen to prayers of a "Holy Earth Mother."