The Week That Was
June 19, 2004









2. Science Consensus Lacking On Global Warming

To Letters Editor, The Times of London

David Mattin`s article on Global Warming 19 May 2004 rightly emphasises the lack of consensus on predicted degree of global warming, its causes -- and indirectly the politicisation of science.

Some climate scientists seem to be suckered by simulation-a process in which plausible alternative assumptions in models lead to extravagant projections. The Meadows and Forrester Limits to Growth models, some 3 decades ago predicted disaster by pollution in a decade or so and exhaustion of natural resources by the simple assumption of exponential economic growth and linear progress in technology.

There is indeed a presumption of warming as we recover slowly from the Little Ice Age. But there is no clear trend in warming seen by weather satellites and balloons -cooling from 1940 to mid seventies and some warming since.

Some climate scientists think warming may be around 0.5 degrees, at most 1 degree by end of 21 Century and easily manageable []. Whatever; the Kyoto plan to reduce CO2 by 5 percent below 1990 baseline by year 2012 is perhaps not a hoax, as you say, but clearly a farce.

Dr Alister McFarquhar
Cambridge University


3. The Day After Tomorrow Came And Went

TDAT was clearly outclassed by the new Harry Potter film. Hard to tell which was more science fiction, but at least HP did not pretend.

We saw TDAT in Brussels on May 27 in the company of a like-minded group. There was great hilarity in the theater when New York was swept clean by a huge tidal wave and later when our heroic paleoclimatologist decided to walk 60 miles to NYC in snow shoes (stomp, stomp, stomp!). The audience missed the real significance when our hero warned the White House to evacuate the northern states and drew a line on a map, which looked suspiciously like the Mason-Dixon Line. "The South will rise again, boys!"

On May 28, the official TDAT release date, I had the pleasure of a mini-debate with Sir John Houghton (head of the IPCC science group) on BBC-2's Jeremy Vine show. Sir John allowed that the science of TDAT was "exaggerated." I said it was "junk" and it would backfire against the global warming scare. "First these scientists s tell us it's going to warm; now they tell us it's going to freeze. Can't they make up their minds? In the film, the scientist-hero first says that it may cool in 100 years; then his model tells him in a few months; and finally in 48 hours. These guys don't know what they are talking about!"

Now we learn that TDAT director faces plagiarism charges. (Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.):

June 12, 2004 - German-born director Roland Emmerich faces charges before a court in Germany this coming week that he plagiarised key elements of his big-budget movie The Day After Tomorrow, according to a published report. Cologne State Court has set a hearing for Wednesday on a complaint filed by Harvard University professor Ubaldo DiBenedetto, says the report in Der Spiegel news magazine, which hits newsstands across Germany on Monday.

DiBenedetto alleges key plot elements of Emmerich's film are "substantially identical" to the plot of a book he wrote in 1993 entitled Polar Day 9 under the pseudonym Kyle Donner. He is suing both Emmerich and the movie's distributors, Twentieth Century Fox Deutschland, for an as yet undetermined amount of damages, the magazine said.

Like the movie, the book describes how US officials ignore warnings by scientists that global warming could bring on a new Ice Age. Both the film and the book also both start at an Arctic research station and end with scenes of icy devastation in a major American city, his suit further alleges.

4. Petition to WMO on insecticides

Dear Colleague,

As you know, dengue, malaria and leishmaniasis are attaining almost unprecedented global dimensions. More than ever before, endemic countries need all available weapons against these diseases, but the World Health Organization has shown extreme reluctance to effectively combat these diseases. In order to change WHO's harmful policies, I and staff of Africa Fighting Malaria ( have decided to petition WHO to change its malaria control policies and strategies, but we need your help to persuade them to do so.

Let me be blunt. WHO opposes the use of insecticides for disease control, codifying its opposition in a 1997 World Health Assembly resolution (WHA50.13), which calls on "Member States to take steps to reduce reliance on insecticides for control of vector-borne diseases." WHO promotes use of insecticides treated nets (ITNs) as a veneer to protect people from malaria. WHO's emphasis on ITNs is itself a veneer behind which WHO hides as it pursues anti-insecticide policies. To again be blunt, I do not oppose use of ITNs or research to improve use of ITNs. However, even as WHO trumpets ITNs it supports the work of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to pressure countries to not use DDT and to reduce reliance on all insecticides for disease control.

Malaria control experts seem to have no participation in these globally orchestrated disease control initiatives. Unless we take a position and act, WHO will continue to oppose use of insecticides and ignore our advice and expertise. We must insist on being heard.

Specifically we are asking that you go to the website and click on the petition. Please, if at all possible, read and sign this petition.

Our short-term campaign goal is to gain freedom for countries to use DDT. Where countries have shown leadership and restarted use of indoor residual spraying, especially with DDT, they have achieved dramatic results. However, the larger, long-term goal is to counter the pressure to stop all public health uses of insecticides. We hold this goal because we believe insecticides are fundamental, necessary, safe, and cost-effective tools for preventing transmission of diseases. (In the interest of full disclosure, the insecticide industry has neither shown interest in nor provided support to this campaign.)

For these reasons, I am asking that you read and sign the petition. It will be equally helpful if you forward this notice to colleagues. If you cannot sign as an official of your organization, please consider signing as a private citizen. Thank you for your willingness to take a position on use of public health insecticides.

Donald R. Roberts, Ph.D


5. Japan Unlikely To Hit 2010 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Target:

On April 16, the Central Environment Council of the Environment Ministry released projections that Japan's emissions of greenhouse gases in 2010 would be four percent higher than those in 1990, far exceeding the six percent decrease the country committed to under the Kyoto protocol. The main reason for the projection is the greater than expected increase in energy consumption in homes, offices, and from various modes of transportation.

Scaled-back plans for new nuclear power plant construction are also a factor. To reduce the increase in greenhouse gases, the ministry proposed at the council meeting that power companies promote the use of natural gas even though it is more expensive than coal. If electric utilities increase the percentage of natural gas used in thermal power generation in FY 2010 from the current projection of 49 percent to 58 percent and cut coal use from 39 percent to 31 percent, carbon dioxide emissions are projected to drop by 19.2 million tons from the 1990 level. The environment ministry is expected to announce further measures to reduce emissions later this year.

6. Nuclear Report From Germany -- by Klaus Becker, Berlin

**Regarding the situation of nuclear energy in Germany, there are indications that things are beginning to change for the better. E.g. - a telephone poll of one of the better TV stations (N-TV, related to CNN) resulted in 75 % of the population in favor of new NPP in Germany. The Prime Minister of Bavaria and boss of the CSU party, E.Stoiber, calls for substantial NPP lifetime extensions and new plants, and the leading German newspaper FAZ (considered one of the three best worldwide) had a top editorial in response to all the renewable noise recently in Bonn with the title "The Bill from the Sun." to quote: "As long as the production of photovoltaic cells requires more energy to produce than they ever deliver, and every kWh has to be subsidized at ten times of the market price, the future will not belong to sun, wind, and biomass... In the last year, Germany spent about 6 billion Euros (74 bill. USD) in taxes, subsidies, etc. in the energy sector. The crucial test will be when oil and nuclear energy will not be available any more as the goose laying the golden eggs. Then the Sun will send a bill."

**According to the German Ministry of Environment, up the end of 2003 4.2 bill. € (5.1 bill USD) have been spent on the decommissioning of the former Soviet uranium mining areas in Saxony - with about 2 bill. € still to be buried there (atw 49, 2004/4, 282). In addition, several bill. have been wasted by 8 yrs of political delays in the completion of the Gorleben/ Konrad final waste repositories (atw 49, 2004/5, 380). Incidentally, in the recently added 10 new EU member countries, about half of the energy is fossil, and one third nuclear (atw 49, 2004/5, 379).

**You probably heard that the deadline for comments on the new ICRP draft "Protecting people against exposure in the aftermath of a nuclear attack" is approaching. Our friend Eike Roth drafted a long letter to ICRP-secretary Jack Valentin, basically complaining about the continued use of LNT in all their considerations. My feeling is that to shake these principles will, as we well know, not be easy, and a somewhat more pragmatic-subversive approach is more likely to get some results. Of course, IAEA and others are also busy on the dirty-bomb/orphan sources front. An example is the Emergency Preparedness and Response: Method for Developing Arrangements for Response to a Nuclear or Radiological Emergency, updating IAEA-TECDOC-953 (Oct.2003, 273 pages), and on Orphan Sources (IAEA/TECDOC 1388, 2004).

**It seems that the latest ICRP fashion of protecting everything for moral-ethical reasons, including the abiotic parts of our environment, will be further cultivated by holistic philosophers and other crackpots. There will be many good reasons for meetings in pleasant places to discuss all the complexities of such issues...


7. POPs Treaty Expected to Cost Billions:

As the Stockholm Treaty goes into effect, officials with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) predict that it will cost governments and businesses "many billions of dollars" to comply with requirements for elimination of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) by 2028. Representatives from governments, businesses, and donor agencies met recently to discuss ways to coordinate efforts on eliminating PCBs.

According to BNA's Daily Environment Report, governments have until 2025 to phase out existing equipment containing PCBs, and they have until 2028 to ensure the environmentally sound management of PCB waste. According to UNEP, "hundreds of thousands of tons" of PCBs have been manufactured since 1929, with annual world production peaking at 60,000 metric tons in the late 1960s.
9. Recommended Sites And Books
A Weblog monitoring environmental issues and science in the UK media -- by Professor Emeritus Philip Stott.
The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Prof John Brignell, our Numberwatch friend*, has written a new book "The Epidemiologists: Have they got scares for you !" It continues his highly successful book "Sorry, Wrong Number" Among other topics, he exposes the role of UK science adviser Sir David King ("climate change is a more serious threat than terrorism") in dealing with the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Britain in 2001. Before it was over, some 8 million animals had been slaughtered -- largely through the misuse of computer models.



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