The Week That Was
June 10, 2000


Dr. Zbigniew Jaworowski ignited a firestorm of letters when he published on nuclear radiation risk in Physics Today (Sept. 1999, p.24). Read his interview on the BBC, touching on Chernobyl hormesis, and related matters.

The Week That Was June 10, 2000 brought to you by SEPP


A political ploy by DOE Secretary Richardson has been the push to compensate former workers in the nuclear-weapons program. He alleges that they are at greater risk for cancer and other illnesses (See the "amen-corner" in Chemical & Engineering News, p.10, 2/7/2000). But engineer John Glenn (, 4/20/00) reanalyzed the DOE data and showed that DOE production workers had "significantly lower age-adjusted death rates, compared to the US general population for all causes of deaths combined."


From an article in the Vancouver Sun (May 17):

Although you would never know it if you rely on most media in this neck of the woods, there is a spirited debate about the very existence of the global-warming phenomenon among a lot of highly regarded scientists and commentators. A few weeks ago, for instance, I listened to George Taylor, the president of the American Association of State Climatologists, debunk most of the scientific arguments supporting the theory. Forests come into this issue because, in order to grow, trees take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere at rather impressive rates. They use the carbon to make cellulose, or wood, and spit the oxygen back into the air. Global warming aficionados use the jargon "carbon sequestration" to describe this function.

The role of forests was not lost upon the folks gathered at Kyoto, and their protocol included provisions for taking a country's carbon sequestration into account in deciding if it is a good guy or bad guy under the terms of the agreement. Being one of the world's great forest countries -- as well as a leading producer of greenhouse gases -- Canada finds itself in an interesting position. We can grow huge volumes of timber, sequestering carbon like mad, then harvest and process it into lumber that will remain in buildings for longer than it takes to grow the next crop or newsprint that can be buried in landfills for centuries.

Most of this stuff we export, obtaining carbon credits along the way, and the debits are assigned to other countries that import it and are foolish enough to allow it back into the atmosphere. The country's forest sector is on to this prospect big time and, already, a market in carbon credits is developing. You pay me so much a ton for sucking carbon out of the atmosphere into trees that I cut and export, and you get to put carbon into the air with your sport utility vehicle.

Of course, the Greenies are having a hissy fit about this. They see global warming as just one more reason to prohibit the cutting of any trees whatsoever, and think we should meet our Kyoto commitments by parking our cars and walking to work. Their junk-science mills are turned up full throttle on this one. The possibility that the world is not warming or, if it is, is doing so for reasons beyond human control, is not one that either side of the debate wants to entertain. The global-warming industry, pro and con, is in an expansionist mode. The rest of us, who will be polled furiously by politicians wanting to know which bandwagon to jump on, might want to keep an open mind on the subject for a while.


British Nuclear Fuels wants to sell nuclear reactors to China; they are in competition with France and Canada. And the British government want to help - naturally - not only for export bucks (or pounds) but also for carbon emission credits under Kyoto's Clean Development Mechanism. Big objections from the EU, and most vociferously from Denmark's environment minister Svend Auken. The Greenies are beside themselves: Nuclear? Never! But Britain will persist…

Ford Motor's vice president for Europe really put his foot in his mouth. Carried away by sheer exuberance, here is what Wolfgang Schneider said: "The auto industry is no longer measuring itself by profits but by our contributions to society…" Quick rebuke from Detroit: Ford will not forsake profits (coming mostly from SUVs

House bill H.R. 4475 bans raising the CAFÉ standard for cars, daring Clinton to veto the $55 billion transportation appropriation. Nary a peep out of the White House but plenty of moaning from Michigan Democrats running for office this fall. They are getting it from both sides…


Professor Howard Hayden publishes a monthly newsletter promoting energy and technology. The June 2000 issue of "The Energy Advocate" explains in a cogent way why electric utilities are winners and why solar systems are losers. He makes it quite clear that Bill Clinton's "Million Solar Roofs Initiative" is doomed to failure. One million homes are less than 2% of the US total; even if they get all their domestic heat from solar collectors, it would amount to 0.2% of the US energy budget, a laughably small effect on global warming but at great expense to the tax payer.

Hayden explains that while the average home uses about 1,000 Watts of electric power, the requirements can jump by factors of 10 to 20 when clothes dryers and electric stoves are in operation. Electric utilities can handle such peaks because they average over many households. But a single household cannot afford to buy a 20,000 Watt generator (from any energy source) to handle its peak load. Nor can it afford to buy expensive storage batteries. And that is the problem with solar systems, which operate only during daylight on sunny days.

And just for fun, Howard Hayden relates the broadcast by KKTV in his hometown of Colorado Springs (5/26/00). It seems that there are more home runs this year than usual, and the cause is - you guessed it - global warming. Baseballs must bounce better when they are hotter. "Oh, the skill it takes to read such garbage from a teleprompter without retching!" By the logic of the mental basket cases at KKTV, the home-run leading teams would be in Southern states. "Pity the New York Yankees."


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