PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet TERRA 5/2003 -  21 January 2003
-------------------------------------


"Severe cold wave condition intensified further on Monday, making it
one of the longest and most fearsome spell experienced in the state in over
eight decades. Met officials said that the records they had since the
formation of the state met office here in Lucknow, no other severe cold
spell had been so long as it had been this year."
--The Times of India, 21 January 2003


"Between 1645 and 1715 (a period astronomers call the "Maunder
Minimum") the sunspot cycle stopped; the face of the Sun was nearly
blank for 70 years. At the same time Europe was hit by an extraordinary
cold spell: the Thames River in London froze, glaciers advanced in the
Alps, and northern sea ice increased. An earlier centuries-long surge in
solar activity (inferred from studies of tree rings) had the opposite
effect: Vikings were able to settle the thawed-out coast of Greenland in
the 980s, and even grow enough wheat there to export the surplus to
Scandinavia."
--NASA Science News, 17 January 2003


"The problem with predicting the course of global climate change...
is that global climate is too complex to be adequately modeled."
   --Robert Kirkman, Georgia Institute of Technology


(1) COLD BREAKS ALL PAST RECORDS
    The Times of India, 21 January 2003

(2) DEATH TOLL RISING AS SOUTH ASIAN FREEZE GOES ON
    CNN, 20 January 2003

(3) TEMPERATURES TAKE RECORD DIVE IN HUNGARY
    The Budapest Sun, 17 January 2003

(4) NASA STUDYING NATURAL CAUSES OF CLIMATE VARIABILITY
    NASA Science News for January 17, 2003

(5) THE TRIPLE WHAMMY: TWO EL NIÑOS AND A SOLAR MAXIMUM 
    www.john-daly.com, 19 January 2003

(6) IPCC SCIENTIST CHALLENGES UN CLIMATE PREDICTIONS
    Environment News Service, 18 January 2003

(7) CHINA AND U.S. AGREE TO COOPERATE ON CLIMATE CHANGE SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
    People's Daily Online, 17 January 2003

(8) WHY SOCIETIES COLLAPSE: JARED DIAMOND AT PRINCETON UNIVERISTY
    ABC Australia

(9) CLOUDY AND CLEAR STRATOSPHERES BEFORE A.D. 1000 INFERRED FROM WRITTEN
SOURCES
    Yvan Dutil <yvan.r.dutil@ca.abb.com>

(10) BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY? THE INHERENT RISKS OF THE PRECAUTIONARY
PRINCIPLE
     Tech Central Station, 17 January 2003

(11) GLOBAL WARMING AND COLD SPELLS
     Michael Paine <mpaine@tpg.com.au>

(12) AND FINALLY: CORRIGER LA FORTUNE AS FRANCE WANTS TO BURY CO2 EMISSIONS
     Environment Daily, 16 January 2003


=============
(1) COLD BREAKS ALL PAST RECORDS

>From The Times of India, 21 January 2003
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/cms.dll/html/uncomp/articleshow?artid=35000406

LUCKNOW: Severe cold wave condition intensified further on Monday, making it
one of the longest and most fearsome spell experienced in the state in over
eight decades. The bitter cold has claimed over 440 lives all over the
state, with Allahabad registering the largest number of 99 deaths so far.

In the past, prolonged spells of winter chill were experienced in 1962, 1973
and 2000, which had lasted around 15-20 days, when maximum temperature and
minimum temperatures were 7-10 degree below normal. However, this time the
formations of cold air pools are still persisting and they will further
intensify the cold wave, effecting more drop in minimum temperatures
statewide. Met officials said that the records they had since the formation
of the state met office here in Lucknow, no other severe cold spell had been
so long as it had been this year.

Met director RK Verma said that western disturbance, which was headed
towards the state and was expected to break the cold spell, had fizzled out
and fresh currents of icy continental winds, originating from Siberia, had
forced their way into the state.

These symptoms indicate that severe cold wave conditions would intensify in
the state, particularly the eastern part, he said. While the dense 2-3
kilometre vertical layer of fog is preventing rise in day temperatures by
barring the sunlight, the chill effect in the air is forcing the mercury to
drop in the night, resulting in more formation of fog. This cycle was
keeping the cold wave alive and fierce, he said.

===========
(2) DEATH TOLL RISING AS SOUTH ASIAN FREEZE GOES ON

>From CNN, 20 January 2003
http://www.cnn.com/2003/WEATHER/01/20/southasia.fog.ap/index.html
 
NEW DELHI, India (AP) -- Dense fog and poor visibility disrupted air and
rail services in northern India as chilly winds pushed down temperatures,
taking the death toll in South Asia's month-long cold spell to 1,600.

Forty-three people died overnight in Uttar Pradesh state from intense cold,
a state Home Ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

In neighboring Bihar state, nine people perished Sunday night, raising the
death toll in India to 819. No deaths were reported Monday from Bangladesh
or Nepal, where a total of 774 people have died of the cold since December
20.

The worst hit were the poor and homeless, who were fending for themselves as
government handouts of wood and blankets ran short....

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press.

===========
(3) TEMPERATURES TAKE RECORD DIVE IN HUNGARY

>From The Budapest Sun, 17 January 2003
http://www.budapestsun.com/full_story.asp?ArticleId={81559CBD395246E7999AD5E277E96BBF}&From=News

This week kicked off with record low temperatures in many parts of Hungary
after a period of heavy snowfall.

The daytime low temperature record -24.8°C was broken early on Sunday in
several parts of the north east of the country, with a new record of -30.9°C
registered in the village of Zabar in Nógrád county....

==========
(4) NASA STUDYING NATURAL CAUSES OF CLIMATE VARIABILITY

NASA Science News for January 17, 2003
http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2003/17jan_solcon.htm?list104104

January 17, 2003:  Our Sun may seem an enduring, unwavering beacon in the
sky, but in truth it has a "heartbeat" of sorts--a pulsation between dimmer
and brighter phases so slow that it only "beats" 9 times each century!

It's understandable that you might not have noticed. The pulsing is not only
slow, it's also subtle. The total energy coming from the Sun only varies by
about 0.1% over each 11-year cycle. For a long time scientists didn't notice
it either, which is why the Sun's intensity is called, ironically, the
"solar constant."

The intensity of the Sun varies along with the 11-year sunspot cycle. When
sunspots are numerous the solar constant is high (about 1367 W/m2); when
sunspots are scarce the value is low (about 1365 W/m2). Eleven years isn't
the only "beat," however. The solar constant can fluctuate by ~0.1% over
days and weeks as sunspots grow and dissipate. The solar constant also
drifts by 0.2% to 0.6% over many centuries, according to scientists who
study tree rings.

These small changes can affect Earth in a big way. For example, between 1645
and 1715 (a period astronomers call the "Maunder Minimum") the sunspot cycle
stopped; the face of the Sun was nearly blank for 70 years. At the same time
Europe was hit by an extraordinary cold spell: the Thames River in London
froze, glaciers advanced in the Alps, and northern sea ice increased. An
earlier centuries-long surge in solar activity (inferred from studies of
tree rings) had the opposite effect: Vikings were able to settle the
thawed-out coast of Greenland in the 980s, and even grow enough wheat there
to export the surplus to Scandinavia.

Researchers still aren't sure how small changes in the Sun's output nudge
Earth's climate in one direction or another. To find the answer, they need
to monitor our climate and keep a finger on the Sun's "pulse" for many
decades running.

"Consistency in this data record is crucial," says Alexandre Joukoff, a
scientist at the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium who studies the
solar constant. "Gaps or flaws in the record undermine our ability to use
statistics to draw strong conclusions about phenomena such as Earth's
climate."

Getting consistent measurements from the ground is tricky, explains Joukoff,
because Earth's changing seasons and weather cause sunlight hitting the
ground to wax and wane. On average, clouds and the atmosphere absorb or
reflect 51 percent of the incoming sunlight, and this can vary widely
between overcast and cloudless days.

The best place to measure the solar constant is high above the clouds--in
space. But there's a problem there, too: The typical design-life of most
satellites is only 5 to 10 years; after that, fuel runs out and the
satellite goes cold and quiet. They're not around long enough to measure the
solar constant for decades-long stretches.

When new satellites are launched to replace dying ones, it's hard to know if
a reading of, say, "10 units" from the new satellite truly equals "10 units"
measured by the old one, making the consistency of the data record
uncertain. Furthermore, satellite sensors degrade as they age--a result of
sustained exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation.

>From this patchwork of aging satellites and sensors, scientists somehow need
to assemble a continuous, consistent record of the Sun's intensity over 30
... 40 ... 50 or more years!

"SOLCON is what makes that possible," says Joukoff.

SOLCON, short for "Solar Constant radiometer," is a high-precision
solar-intensity sensor that Joukoff and colleagues keep at the Royal
Meteorological Institute of Belgium. By sheltering the sensor from UV
radiation and rarely using it, they spare this "gold standard" instrument
from most of the effects of aging, making it a dependable touchstone over
the years.

Every few years they fly SOLCON on a short mission into space to spot-check
the agreement of Sun-watching satellites in orbit at the time. In fact,
SOLCON is in orbit now. It's one of the 80+ experiments onboard the space
shuttle Columbia (STS-107), which left Earth on January 16th for a 16-day
research mission. Researchers will use the sensor in the days ahead to
spot-check two satellites: the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) and
ACRIM-3. Adjusted to match SOLCON, the separate records from these
satellites and others can then be stitched together into a continuous
history of our Sun's cycles of brightness--a kind of long-term "EKG" readout
for our pulsing star.

"This kind of data is invaluable because it helps us understand the past as
well as the future," notes Paal Brekke, the deputy project scientist for
SOHO. "Methods for estimating the Sun's intensity hundreds of years ago,
such as measuring the cosmic ray-generated carbon-14 embedded in the rings
of old trees, can be improved by comparing those clues today with a reliable
satellite record.

In principle, SOLCON is like an old-fashioned two-pan balance--but for heat
instead of mass. It consists of two identical chambers and a device between
them that detects any heat moving from one chamber to the other. One chamber
is opened to incoming sunlight via a very precise aperture. The other
"reference" chamber is kept closed and heated only electrically. To measure
intensity of incoming sunlight, the device adjusts the current to an
electric heater in the sun-exposed chamber until no heat flows between the
chambers--that is, until the "scales" are balanced. The amount of current
required to achieve a balance is a measure of the energy in the sunlight.
Most solar intensity sensors in orbit operate in this way.

Eventually, even SOLCON will need to be replaced. One candidate for its
successor is the Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM) built by the Laboratory for
Atmospheric and Space Physics in Colorado. TIM is very similar to SOLCON,
except that it uses four chambers instead of two for better internal
cross-checking of instrument aging.

The date has not yet been set, but when the day comes, the successor will
fly a single mission--probably a shuttle research mission like STS-107--in
tandem with the old instrument in order to assess the new sensor's accuracy.
After that, SOLCON will finally be retired.

The Sun, of course, will keep on going--but if all goes as planned, we won't
miss a beat.
 
============
(5) THE TRIPLE WHAMMY: TWO EL NIÑOS AND A SOLAR MAXIMUM 

>From www.john-daly.com, 19 January 2003

The last four years has seen the greenhouse industry in a state of frenzy
exploiting one climate event after another (all the `warm' ones that is, the
cooling ones like the recent northern freezes being hushed). We have had
droughts, floods, bushfires in various parts of the world, and people would
be forgiven for thinking that perhaps the `smoking gun' of global warming
really had arrived. In each case the industry has seized upon each event
either explicitly or implicitly as being caused by human agency, and using
selective statistics to show each event was somehow unusual or
unprecedented. And in all cases, the snake oil cure has been at hand - the
Kyoto Protocol, that piece of paper which conned the European and Canadian
governments, but not the U.S. or Australian.

So why has the climate been so active in the last four years? We can put it
down to Nature, not man.

It all began in 1997 with the onset of the second biggest El Niño event of
the 20th century. No two such events are identical, some moderate, some
severe, and 1997-98 was very severe indeed (the biggest was 1982-83 when 65
people were killed in Australia by massive bushfires on Ash Wednesday in
1983). El Niño happens about every 4 to 7 years and is a completely natural
event, with no human agency possible since it is a process involving
gargantuan cyclic ocean movements.

Once the 1997-98 El Niño had passed, with the associated residual warming of
the Pacific Ocean, less than a year had passed before we began to surge into
yet another big `Solar Maximum', that period when the sun develops massive
sunspots and radiates more energy. A solar max occurs every 11 years or so,
and has its greatest impact in warming of the oceans and ice caps and
glaciers.  (No-one has yet claimed that the sun's periodic outbursts are
caused by man). The current solar maximum was somewhat different to most in
that it has lasted longer and had two distinct peaks, in 2000 and 2001. The
longer it lasts, the more warmth accumulates in the oceans, impacting on
weather worldwide. (Solar maxima over the last 50 years have been the most
intense since records began in 1600 AD, and this current one was no
exception. Future maxima may well be weaker as the sun cannot and does not
maintain this level of intensity indefinitely. Between 1650 and 1710 AD, it
went very quiet, a period called the Maunder Minimum, with the result that
the earth experienced the `Little Ice Age' at exactly the same time).

Finally, last year in 2002, even before the solar cycle had started its
usual decline towards the cooler Solar Minimum, we saw the development of
another El Niño on top of an already stretched out solar maximum.  A Solar
Maximum happening concurrently with an El Niño, with no cooling volcanic
action for the last 10 years, is a potent combination climatically. And the
weather has been very active as a direct result of this combination.

But it will pass. These things always do. The solar cycle is now heading
down towards its expected solar minimum around 2006, while the current El
Niño is expected to wane in the next few months, possibly being replaced by
it's cooling counterpart, La Niña.

The greenhouse industry has thrived off Nature's climatic drama of the last
4 years, using a combination of public hysteria and bent statistics, but the
pickings will be leaner in the months and years ahead - until we reach the
next El Niño or the next solar maximum expected around 2012 (the same year
the Kyoto Protocol expires).

============
(6) IPCC SCIENTIST CHALLENGES UN CLIMATE PREDICTIONS

>From Environment News Service, 18 January 2003
http://ens-news.com/ens/jan2003/2003-01-17-09.asp#anchor6

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia, January 17, 2003 (ENS) - A climatologist from
Virginia State says global climate change will likely involve mild
temperature increases, rather than the most dramatic changes predicted by
the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The IPCC prediction includes a range of possible temperature changes. At the
high end is the potential for an average temperature gain of 5.8 degrees
Celsius by the year 2100. Virginia State climatologist Patrick Michaels says
the more likely scenario would result in a world that "looks more like the
same world as today."

Michaels, a member of the IPCC, has published a paper in the current issue
of the journal "Climate Research" that argues against the dire predictions
of rising sea levels and declining plant productivity that the high end IPCC
forecast has produced.

"The rate of warming will not be much different than it was over the last 30
years," said Michaels, a professor of environmental sciences at the
University of Virginia.

While most climate models produce a constant rate of future warming, that
rate varies. Michaels' research, designed to determine which of these rates
are more likely than others, uses nature as his model, comparing past real
temperature rates to those predicted in computer models.

"Nature has been integrating the response to greenhouse effect changes for
nearly a half-century, while models have been producing diverse
projections," Michaels noted.

Two years ago the IPCC produced its third assessment report, which indicated
a global rise in temperatures of 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius for 1990 to
2100. Michaels' new independent study suggests the most likely value is
around 1.6 degrees Celsius, near the low end of the IPCC range.

Michaels used an assortment of data to produce a range of possible
temperatures for the period, and all were less broad than the IPCC's range.
In one scenario, he used data from recent studies that examine the
assumptions made about climate behavior in the United Nations report, and
found a range of warming of 1.1 to 2.8 degrees Celsius.

When using data of actual climate change rates during the past 25 years of
greenhouse warming, and projecting it out to the year 2100, Michaels found a
range of 1.5 to 2.6 degrees Celsius.

"Almost all models produce a constant rate of warming," Michaels said. "So
why not let nature choose that rate?"

When he factored both aspects of his study together, Michaels found a range
of 1.0-1.6 degrees Celsius. By adjusting the averages of a range of climate
models to reflect actual observed changes in temperature in nature, he found
a warming range of 1.3-3.0 degrees Celsius, with a central value of 1.9
degrees Celsius.

"The consistency of these somewhat independent results encourages us to
conclude that 21st century warming will be modest and near the low end of
the IPCC's third assessment report projections," he said.

Michaels said that much of the data in the IPCC's report is based on older,
less accurate studies that take into account neither what has already
occurred during the past century nor the more refined and accurate
independent findings of more recent studies.

"Our paper looks at what should have been examined in the IPCC report," he
said. "We should be listening to nature talking."

Michaels also said society is producing more fuel efficient machinery and
will continue to do so throughout this century, further reducing the
likelihood of dramatic warming.

"This is why we shouldn't rush policy decisions before we have strong and
clear evidence that our projections are sound," Michaels said. "In this
study we demonstrate that the IPCC's evidence for intense warming
projections is weak, but the evidence for the low end of their range is very
strong."

The full article can be accessed at:
http://www.int-res.com/articles/cr2003/23/c023p001.pdf

=============
(7) CHINA AND US AGREE TO COOPERATE ON CLIMATE CHANGE SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

>From People's Daily Online, 17 January 2003
http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200301/17/eng20030117_110280.shtml

China and the United States Thursday agreed to cooperate on a broad range of
climate change science and technology activities at the end of the third
meeting of the China-US Working Group.

The three-day meeting of the working group was conducted under the February
2002 agreement between Chinese President Jiang Zemin and US President George
W. Bush to undertake consultations to explore common ground and areas for
cooperation on climate change.

According to sources with the meeting, both sides recognized the importance
of sustainable development in addressing the issue of climate change and the
key role of economic growth in this regard.

The two sides identified 10 areas for cooperative research and analysis:
non-CO2 gases, economic/environmental modeling, integrated assessment of
potential consequences of climate change, adaptation strategies, hydrogen
and fuel cell technology, carbon capture and sequestration,
observation/measurement, institutional partnerships, energy/environment
project follow-up to the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and
existing clean energy protocols/annexes.

The two sides further agreed to continue policy exchange and to review
results of joint project cooperation. The fourth meeting of the working
group will take place in the United States in May 2003.
 
Copyright 2003, People's Daily Online

=============
(8) WHY SOCIETIES COLLAPSE: JARED DIAMOND AT PRINCETON UNIVERISTY

>From ABC Australia
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/bbing/stories/s743310.htm

Produced by Kirsten Garrett
Sunday 12 January  2003

(This program was originally broadcast on 27 October 2002)

Throughout human history, societies, civilisations have prospered and
collapsed over time. The reasons, obviously, have lessons for the whole of
our intricately interlinked planet today. At Princeton University in
America, earlier this month, eminent professor Jared Diamond gave a speech
about the collapse of ancient societies. And today, Background Briefing will
broadcast that talk, edited and including some questions and answers at the
end.

FULL TRANSCRIPT at http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/bbing/stories/s743310.htm

============
(9) CLOUDY AND CLEAR STRATOSPHERES BEFORE A.D. 1000 INFERRED FROM WRITTEN
SOURCES

>From Yvan Dutil <yvan.r.dutil@ca.abb.com>

Hi Benny,

I have tough you might be interested by this paper.
http://www.giss.nasa.gov/gpol/papers/2002/2002_Stothers2.pdf

Yvan Dutil

-------
Cloudy and clear stratospheres before A.D. 1000 inferred from written sources
Richard B. Stothers
Institute for Space Studies, Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA, New York, USA
Received 16 January 2002; revised 13 August 2002; accepted 21 August 2002;
published 13 December 2002.

[1] How can observational information about stratospheric transparency in the
preinstrumental era be acquired today? It may be reasonably assumed that a high turbidity
in the stratosphere is almost always caused by light-scattering sulfate aerosols derived
from large volcanic eruptions. Historical reports of a dimming of the Sun, red twilight
glows, reddish solar haloes, and dark total eclipses of the Moon indicate a high turbidity;
contrariwise, a ruddy disk shown by the eclipsed Moon betrays a clear stratosphere. On the
basis of an extensive search of primary European and Middle Eastern written sources
pertaining to the ancient and early medieval periods, seven stratospheric dry fogs, in
addition to the four major ones already known, have been identified by using solar
observations, and five smaller ones have been detected from dark total lunar eclipses.
Seven of the eight most important dry fogs between 300 B.C. and A.D. 1000 can be either
definitely or plausibly correlated with high levels of sulfate acidity observed in Greenland
ice cores. An important conclusion is that this sample is probably very nearly complete
for major dry fogs during this period. A second conclusion is that the ratio of dark to
normal total lunar eclipses during early medieval times (A.D. 400-1000) appears to be
equal, approximately, to the ratio that has prevailed for the past 40 years.
These conclusions suggest that the frequency of volcanic eruptions, both large and
moderate, throughout the world may have remained statistically constant (on a long
timescale) since at least 300 B.C. INDEX TERMS:
0305 Atmospheric Composition and Structure:
Aerosols and particles
(0345, 4801); 0370 Atmospheric Composition and Structure: Volcanic effects
(8409); 1704 History of Geophysics: Atmospheric sciences; 1749 History of
Geophysics: Volcanology, geochemistry, and petrology;

Citation: Stothers, R. B., Cloudy and clear stratospheres before A.D. 1000
inferred from written sources, J. Geophys. Res., 107(D23), 4718,
doi:10.1029/2002JD002105, 2002.

===========
(10) BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY? THE INHERENT RISKS OF THE PRECAUTIONARY
PRINCIPLE

>From Tech Central Station, 17 January 2003
http://www.techcentralstation.be/2051/wrapper.jsp?PID=2051-100&CID=2051-0117
03N

by Hans Labohm

'Better safe than sorry.' This is the crux of the precautionary principle.
The application of the principle manifests itself everywhere. There are
crash barriers along the highway and handrails along the staircase.

But the ladder of the traditional window cleaner does not have a handrail.
And the same is true for the ladders in sluices, which may give rise to
hair-raising spectacles of a passing skipper using the ladder to take out
his St. Bernard dog. We do take part in traffic, although it may cost human
lives. We finance the fire brigade via our taxes, but not every house has a
sprinkler installation. And at the apogee of the Cold War, there were even
people who did not possess a nuclear free shelter in their backyard.

In other words, a risk-free world is unthinkable and there are limits to the
application of the precautionary principle. We believe that some risks are
too small to warrant additional expenditure. If we would spend more on them,
then we will have to forgo the satisfaction of other needs, including the
precautionary measures that will protect us against other risks that we
believe to be more likely. In short, the application of the precautionary
principle should be subject to the same simple cost-benefit analysis, which
we also apply in all other fields of human decision-making.

Stagnation

Over the last decade or so, the precautionary principle has been given more
priority than before, especially in Europe. Even to the extent that The
European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs, David Byrne, has
reluctantly raised the question whether Europe wasn't exaggerating a little
bit and had perhaps fallen victim to a certain degree of risk paranoia. But
his attempts to do something about it in order to remedy what he has called
the European 'GMO-psychosis' (GMO = genetically modified organisms), have
mainly faltered so far.

Also his colleague for trade, Pascal Lamy, is troubled by this phenomenon,
particularly because there exist important differences in risk appreciation
between the US and the EU. These give rise to trade tensions, for instance
as regards the use of growth hormones for meat and the use of GMOs in
vegetable food production.

In the US people have been eating GMO food for years without any health
problems. In Europe it is perceived as Frankenstein-food. This has a negative impact on
the mutual trade relations. Americans see this as the umpteenth proof of
European protectionism. This feeling is reinforced by the fact that European
cheese, wine and beer are being enriched with genetically modified enzymes,
without anybody bothering about it.

In a recent paper on the precautionary principle, Jaap Hanekamp of the
Foundation Heidelberg Appeal Netherlands (which aims at providing the
public, media and politics with objective information on the environment,
biotechnology and similar fields) notes that the precautionary principle is
ambivalent vis-à-vis scientific knowledge and capabilities. On the one hand
it emphasises that there are limits to scientific knowledge and that this
knowledge is fraught with uncertainties: the quintessence of the
justification of the precautionary principle! On the other hand, the
precautionary principle requires scientific demonstration of absolute safety
when new products or processes are being introduced. On balance, however,
overcautiousness suppresses scientific knowledge in favour of political
considerations, false beliefs and irrational fears. Excessive application of
the precautionary principle prevents action until there is complete
certainty that it will not produce any harm. But 100% safety can never be
guaranteed. The result is paralysis and stagnation.

Trial and Error

The precautionary principle, moreover, turns a blind eye to the costs or
damage of the preservation of the technological status quo. The risks of
existing products and processes are taken for granted and are not subjected
to the same rigorous tests. But economic growth is primarily due to
innovation and the development of technology. When these are obstructed,
economic growth will decline which will also entail risks.

There is no progress without risks. Excessive application of the
precautionary principle limits the possibilities for trial and error that
are critical ingredients of progress. An example where the application of
the precautionary principle has been harmful to society is the reduction of
the use of DDT in the Third World, which has led to the re-emergence of
malaria. The precautionary principle is also responsible for the impediments
concerning the application of GMOs in the food production of the developing
countries. These could promote the production of safer and cheaper food,
with more nutritional value, which contributes to the alleviation of hunger
in the world. Additionally, GMOs could contribute to stem worldwide
deforestation, because it raises the productivity of land already in
cultivation.

Ambition

In short, overzealous application of the precautionary principle may lead to
the stifling of innovation, impediments to trade, and the loss of human
lives. If the precautionary principle in the past would have been applied in
the same way as today, we would not have been able to enjoy amenities such
as motor cars, railways, aeroplanes, drugs etc., which make modern life much
more comfortable and interesting than life in ancient times.

As has been mentioned before, Europe takes a more strict stance than the US
as regards the application of the precautionary principle. At the same time,
the EU, at its Summit in Lisbon in 2000, has publicly declared its ambition
to become the most competitive, dynamic, knowledge-based economy in the
world in ten years time. It seems that Europe still has to considerably
readjust its current policies to close the gap between these two objectives.


Hans H.J. Labohm is senior visiting fellow at the Netherlands Institute of
International Relations, 'Clingendael, in The Hague.

Copyright 2003, Tech Central Station

============================
* LETTERS TO THE MODERATOR *
============================

(11) GLOBAL WARMING AND COLD SPELLS

>From Michael Paine <mpaine@tpg.com.au>

Dear Benny

"Fewer frost days, cold days and cold waves are very likely over nearly all
land areas."  (IPCC 2001)

The operative word is "fewer", which does not mean "less severe". The
current cold snap in the northern hemisphere is matched by a very severe
drought in the southern hemisphere and both are probably linked to the El
Nino effect in the Pacific. One of the predicted consequences of
global warming is greater extremes of weather.  This is clearly set out in
the following web pages (also from 2001): Higher ocean temperatures linked
to cooling in Midwest
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2001-01/UoIa-Hotl-1801101.php
The eastern U.S. keeps its cool while the world warms
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2001-01/NSFC-TeUk-1401101.php
This appears to be happening at present BUT one season does not prove a
thing one way or the other.

regards
Michael Paine

==========
(12) AND FINALLY: CORRIGER LA FORTUNE. FRANCE WANTS TO BURY CO2 EMISSIONS

>From Environment Daily, 16 January 2003
http://www.environmentdaily.com/articles/index.cfm

French environment minister Roselyne Bachelot yesterday said that carbon
sequestration in agricultural ground could be used as part of a national
programme to cut greenhouse gas emissions, news agency AFP has reported. The
announcement followed release of an official report concluding that up to 2%
of French carbon dioxide emissions could be stored underground, helping
France meet its Kyoto protocol commitment to maintain emissions at 1990
levels.

In its report for the environment ministry, France's national agricultural
research institute (Inra) suggests that between one and five million tonnes
of carbon annually could be stored in the ground over the next 20 years.

This method of carbon sequestration could make a key contribution to
France's climate change strategy, as it was by no means certain that the
country would meet its Kyoto target, Inra said. Similar uncertainty over the
French target was voiced last year by the national climate change
commission.

Nevertheless, Inra warned of major uncertainties over the predicted success
of the technology. As well as requiring major changes in current land-use
and agricultural practices, it did not offer a long-term solution to dealing
with increasing greenhouse gas emissions, it added.

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