CCNet 8/2003 -  30 January 2003

          "Unfortunately, domestic tracking devices failed to register the meteorite when it  approached the planet or when it moved in the atmosphere. But an American satellite designed for missile launching registered the meteorite. As the space object wasn't registered in Russia, neither the RF EMERCOM, nor the Ministry of Defense or astronomers from Irkutsk warned local population about the meteorite approaching the Earth. The problem is that Russian network of optical space surveying is out of date. In fact, Russian astronomers and military men controlling movement of space objects cannot run effective control over the space above Russia's territory. The fact that Russian astronomers failed to register the large meteorite that dropped last September proves ineffectiveness of   Russian astronomic services."
                --Pravda, 28 January 2003

            "Mazanek leads NASA's Comet/Asteroid Protect System, a program that would expand on the Near-Earth Object Program to include the detection of long-period comets, as well as small asteroids and short-period comets that pose an Earth impact threat. The space-based system,  not to be in place for at least 25 years, would provide constant monitoring and a system to divert and modify the orbits of threatening objects."
                --Leslie Mullen, Astrobiology Magazine, January 2003

    National Geographic News, 28 January 2003

    Pravda, 28 January 2003

    Leslie Mullen, Astrobiology Magazine, 20 January 2003

    Paul Davies, 21 January 2003

    Peter Bond <>

    Mark Kidger <>

    Michael Paine <>

    Worth Crouch <>

    The Times, 30 January 2003

     Nature Science Update, 29 January 2003


From  National Geographic News, 28 January 2003

John Roach
Earth-bound asteroids grab newspaper headlines for good reason. Scientists say the fallout of an asteroid several city blocks wide smacking into the planet would be catastrophic. Mass extinctions, runaway infernos, erratic climate fluctuations, and devastating impacts on human civilization are just some of the scenarios imagined.

Why, then, does the threat of a comet impact with Earth-potentially as dire if not worse than an asteroid-rarely leak onto the pages of the popular press?

"Primarily because the rate of comet impacts on Earth is not as great as the rate of asteroid impacts," said Daniel Durda, a senior research scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

Most comets, and potentially some asteroids, have orbits that bring them close to Earth only once every 200 years or longer. Such bodies are known to astronomers as long-period objects.

The rate of long-period comet impacts on Earth is on the order of one every 32 million years, whereas the rate of comparably-sized asteroid impacts is more like one per every 500,000 years.

"When-note that I do not say if-we find a comet which has some potential to hit Earth, it might cause an even bigger sensation than potential asteroid impactors," said Robert Jedicke, an asteroid expert at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

The Threat

The consequences of comet and asteroid impacts on Earth are roughly comparable. Both would cause widespread destruction and loss of human life, said Jedicke.

"Big chunks of rock with a little ice, an asteroid, or big chunks of ice with a little rock, a comet, create a lot of damage when they impact Earth," he said. "[It's] like getting hit on the head by a stone with an icy coating or an iceball with a lot of rock in it-it's going to hurt your head."

A key difference is that long-period objects, like comets, will impact Earth with much greater speed than short-period objects, said Dan Mazanek, an engineer at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

"If we happen to come across a long-period object that is dense, it would not have to be large to produce the same kinetic energy of a one-kilometer [0.6-mile] near-Earth asteroid," he said. "To me, that seems like something worthwhile to investigate."

Consider this example. An asteroid 0.6 mile (1 kilometer) wide with a density of 187 pounds per cubic foot (3,000 kilograms per cubic meter) traveling at 12 miles per second (20 kilometers per second) would impact Earth with a force approximately 15 times greater than the world's total nuclear arsenal. A comet of just over half the size and one-third the mass traveling at 37 miles (60 kilometers) per second could achieve an impact of similar force if it were to strike Earth. "Size matters," said Mazanek. "But so does density and speed."


Some astronomers are working to safeguard the Earth from potential impact by comets or other near-Earth objects in orbit around the Sun. The Near-Earth Object Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, coordinates the study of these objects.

As near-Earth objects are detected, scientists perform calculations on their orbits to determine if or when they pose a threat to impact Earth. The hope is that astronomers can detect all near-Earth objects decades before they would potentially impact Earth.

Meanwhile, other scientists are busy trying to figure out how to throw such threatening objects off course, thus mitigating the pending doom.

Long-period objects like comets, however, are not easily detected until they enter the solar system.

"A long-period object by definition may not have any records of sightings in written history," said Mazanek. "If it came back into the solar system and it was on [an Earth-bound trajectory], we would not have much warning."

Mazanek leads NASA's Comet/Asteroid Protect System, a program that would expand on the Near-Earth Object Program to include the detection of long-period comets, as well as small asteroids and short-period comets that pose an Earth impact threat. The space-based system, not to be in place for at least 25 years, would provide constant monitoring and a system to divert and modify the orbits of threatening objects.

Confirmation of a long-period object on an impact trajectory would be possible at least a year before impact, allowing more time to take defensive action than current detection systems allow.

The problem is that not much could be done if a long-period object on an Earth-bound trajectory were detected today, said Durda.

"The worst scenario I can think of is a multi-kilometer-diameter, long-period comet discovered several months out on an impact trajectory as it is entering the inner solar system," he said. "There is absolutely nothing we could do about it at this point in time. Nothing."

Copyright 2003, National Geographic


From Pravda, 28 January 2003

Technique designed for astronomic observation has experienced a serious revolution. Thanks to it, and as a result of usage of charge transfer device matrixes as radiation detectors, even small amateur telescopes can register dangerous meteorites approaching the Earth before they hit the planet's surface. Unfortunately, this revolution had no effect for the Russian optical tracking complex; Russian specialists observing the near space and the Solar system are currently practically blind in this respect.

Large meteorites drop on the Earth rather often (sic). As is known, within ten years US's nuclear detection system and spy satellites registered about 250 strong explosions caused by pieces of asteroids, comets and large meteorites that dropped (sic) on the Earth. When such objects from space drop in densely populated areas, they can entail lots of troubles there. For instance, if the famous Tunguska meteorite had lingered for some time more, it would have dropped in Russia's European part, but not in Siberian taiga. It is not ruled out (sic) that the meteorite would have ruined the Russian capital completely. The latest object from space dropped on the Russian territory on September 25, 2002. When it dropped, a strong explosion sounded in Siberian taiga, near the city of Bodaibo in Russia's Irkutsk region, at 3:00 a.m. A special expedition is to be organized next spring for investigation of the explosion's consequences and for study of the object itself.

Unfortunately, domestic tracking devices failed to register the meteorite when it approached the planet or when it moved in the atmosphere. But an American satellite designed for missile launching registered the meteorite. As the space object wasn't registered in Russia, neither the RF EMERCOM, nor the Ministry of Defense or astronomers from Irkutsk warned local population about the meteorite approaching the Earth. The problem is that Russian network of optical space surveying is out of date. After the breakup of the USSR, many stations for optical surveying of near-Earth objects remained on the territories of newly established independent states: in Ukraine, in Central Asia and in the Caucasus region. The system for near-Earth space control, that was created on the basis of observatories at universities and teacher training institutes in 1957, is completely outdated. In fact, Russian astronomers and military men controlling movement of space objects cannot run effective control over the space above Russia's territory. The fact that Russian astronomers failed to register the large meteorite that dropped last September proves ineffectiveness of Russian astronomic services.

One of the reasons why a revolution took place in astronomy five years ago was that photoplates were replaced with charge transfer device matrixes as radiation detectors. Such matrixes are installed in all modern video cameras, digital photo cameras or control systems in large supermarkets. A telescope with the charge transfer device matrix allows to register and measure everything that the device detects. Surveying with the help of the charge transfer device successfully replaced time-taking photographic methods of astronomic observations. Unfortunately, attitude of the Russian government to domestic science produced an unfavorable effect: Russian astronomy is lagging far behind the world astronomy, as majority of telescopes in Russia are not equipped with charge transfer devices. And this is at the time when not only professional, but also amateur astronomers in other countries have such telescopes. As experience of cooperation between such amateurs and Russia's Pulkovo observatory shows, a well organized surveying system consisting of small and average telescopes with charge transfer devices is very effective for tracking of moving space objects. This experience can be used for bringing Russian surveying services to the level of effective operation.

For this purpose, a program for supply of new equipment to institutions of higher education has been recently launched. In connection with this program, it would be reasonable to produce domestic charge transfer device matrixes for those telescopes that are used in universities of Russia. Production of such matrixes can be financed partially at the expense of Russia's Ministry of Defense. This measure would kill two birds with one stone. On the one hand, astronomers in Russian universities would get an opportunity to organize lectures on a modern level and to attract youth more actively to scientific studies, searches of newest stars, movement of comets, asteroids and meteorites, for instance. On the other hand, this would allow the national defense surveying services to use wonderfully equipped telescopes for control of the space. For this very reason tracking stations are spread all over the territory of Russia.

Astronomers of the Pulkovo observatory could actively participate in solution of this problem, as the observatory developed methods for prompt definition of celestial orbits as a result of surveys involving charge transfer devices; the observatory also developed mathematical support for processing and control of the surveys. All these measures would make Russian astronomic services more effective and allow to register meteorites before they drop on the Earth.

Copyright 2003, Pravda


From Astrobiology Magazine, 20 January 2003

By Leslie Mullen

One of the tenets of astrology is that the positions of the planets affect us. For instance, the position of the planet Jupiter in your chart is supposed to indicate good luck for a certain aspect of your life.

In an eerie echo of astrology, some scientists are now saying that the position of Jupiter in our solar system was very good luck for life on Earth.

Jupiter is about 5 astronomical units (AU) away from the Sun - far enough away from Earth to not have interfered with the development of our planet, and yet close enough to gravitationally deflect asteroids and comets, limiting the number of dangerous impacts.

Impacts by asteroids and comets can create cataclysmic events that destroy life - witness the demise of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, widely believed to have been brought about by a "killer" asteroid impact. Without Jupiter, instead of being hit with a killer asteroid every hundred million years or so, we'd get one every 10,000 years. This reduction in impacts enabled the Earth to develop both simple and complex forms of life.

But gas giant planets like Jupiter don't always help in the development of complex life. Consider, for instance, that while Jupiter deflects many asteroids away from Earth, it also is responsible for most of the asteroids in the first place. When planetesimals were clumping together to form the terrestrial planets, the gravitational influence of Jupiter prevented a fifth planet from forming. Instead, today there is the asteroid belt that lies between Mars and Jupiter - a sad echo of the planet-that-never-was.

"Only a small fraction of the original material was left behind to become the asteroid belt," says Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. He says that Jupiter excited this material to high orbital eccentricities, causing much of it to collide with the Sun and the growing terrestrial planets.

"Jupiter does not prevent asteroid impacts on the Earth - it causes them," says Boss. "Asteroids can still be kicked out of their orbits and sent on paths that intersect the terrestrial planets."

Mars also was affected by Jupiter's gravity during the early formative years. Mars is only half the size and one-tenth the mass of Earth, prevented by Jupiter from accumulating enough mass to become an Earth-like world capable of sustaining complex life. The lower mass of Mars, in combination with its low magnetism, prevented the planet from retaining an atmosphere - a vital necessity for life to exist and thrive.

If Jupiter were a little more massive, or if it was closer to the Sun, the Earth might have suffered the same fate as Mars. If Jupiter were close enough to the Sun to reside in the habitable zone - 0.8 AU to 1.7 AU for our solar system, or roughly from the orbit of Venus to the orbit of Mars - then the Earth and the other terrestrial planets would never have formed at all. Jupiter's gravitational influence would have prevented rocky debris from coalescing into planets. The inner solar system instead would have become a barren asteroid belt.

"Habitable zones tend to be only a few AU in width, so if there is a Jupiter-mass planet inside the habitable zone, it is highly unlikely that another planet of any mass could form or exist so close by," says Boss. "Instead, the only hope for habitability in such systems would be on moons orbiting the Jupiter-mass planet."

Could it be that a solar system devoid of gas giants might have the best chance for developing life? If gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn had never formed in our solar system, three Earth-like planets might have developed instead of just one. Lacking the gas giants, Uranus and Neptune-like icy planets likely would have formed in the Jupiter-Saturn region. This system would have been relatively asteroid-free, since most of the rocky debris in the early solar system would've coalesced into planets.
But a Jupiter-free solar system would still have to contend with comets - small bodies of water ice that, in our solar system, come from places like the Kuiper Belt and the Oort cloud. Comet impacts can be as disastrous to life as asteroid impacts.

"In systems without asteroid belts, impactors come from the comet belts," says Donald Brownlee, an astronomer at the University of Washington in Seattle. "There is evidence that most stars form distant comet belts around them."

George Wetherill of the Carnegie Institution of Washington has suggested that without Jupiter and Saturn, there would be many more comets in the Kuiper Belt. These comets would wander into the inner solar system so frequently that the Earth would be struck by a major comet impact every 100,000 years.

Despite the devastation caused by asteroid and comet impacts, a solar system free of these bodies may not be the best thing for the evolution of life.

For one thing, comets may be necessary for life to emerge on terrestrial planets. It is thought that comets act as delivery systems for organic material and water, elements that were necessary for the origin and development of life on Earth. According to Brownlee, Jupiter's scattering of cometary debris probably delivered most of our oceans.

Although asteroid and comet impacts can destroy life, they also set the stage for new evolutionary life forms to emerge. By clearing a planet of the more dominant organisms, other life forms can move to fill in the recently vacated ecological niches.

"If Jupiter was not there, or if it was smaller or further away, then there might not be an asteroid belt and thus no asteroid impacts," says Brownlee, "This can be good or bad depending on the situation. The dinosaurs were certainly not fans of the asteroids, but then they might not ever have evolved without the asteroids."

The evolution of complex life on Earth owes a lot to happenstance situations like asteroid or comet impacts. Not only did dinosaurs probably owe their very existence to such impacts, but so too do humans. If the asteroid impact that killed the dinosaurs had never occurred, perhaps our ancestors would not have been able to evolve beyond the small rodents that constituted the Mammalian branch 65 million years ago.

Jupiter planets - rare or commonplace?

How often do gas giants appear in other solar systems? In our search for planets outside our solar system, all the planets discovered to date are gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn. This does not mean that all the planets to be found are gas giants, however. An inherent bias in the search method is that it can only detect very massive planets.

Almost all the extrasolar planets found so far were detected with the radial velocity, or "Doppler" technique. This technique looks at how stars are affected by the gravity of an orbiting planet. Over the course of an orbit, the planet will pull at the star from different sides. Scientists measure the Doppler shift of the starlight to tell when the star is moving slightly away from us or toward us, and from this they can roughly determine the mass and orbit of the planet that causes the shift.

Over 100 Jupiter-mass planets have been found to date, from a survey of over 1,000 stars - nearly all the solar-type stars within 30 parsecs. However, Jupiters that are further away from their stars take longer to complete an orbit, and therefore require longer periods of astronomical observation. These stars might harbor many more Jupiters that have not yet been detected.

Several extrasolar giants are extremely close to their stars, and many scientists believe, due to the conditions necessary for gaseous planet formation, that they must have formed further away from their stars and then migrated inward. Such behavior would be a death warrant for life on inner terrestrial planets like Earth, causing the planets to be flung outside of the solar system, away from the heat and light of their star. The highly elliptical orbits of many extrasolar Jupiters are thought to be caused by such orbital turf battles.

Estimating the number of Jupiter-mass planets in the galaxy greatly relies on our understanding of planet formation. For a long time, it was thought that gas giants formed the same way terrestrial planets did - by the slow accretion of matter over many millions of years. However, the accretion model has a fundamental problem - how do gas giants accumulate enough gas before the gaseous disk around a young star dissipates?

"(Jupiter-mass planets) are made of gas, and gas is lost very early in some solar systems due to intense ultraviolet irradiation from nearby stars," says Brownlee. "The success of Jupiter formation may vary with location and time due to the build up of heavy elements in the galaxy."

Boss's disk instability model suggests a different manner of gas giant formation. In his model, the disk of gas and dust that swirl around a young star develop points of instability. These disturbed areas become gravitational wells, accumulating more and more matter until they form the gas giant planets.

A recent computer model by Lucio Mayer and Thomas Quinn of the University of Washington, which was based on Boss's disk instability model, found that gas giants like Jupiter can form in only 1,000 years. Their computer simulation produced planets 2 to 12 Jupiter masses, with elongated orbits rather than the more circular orbits of the planets in our own solar system.

"If the disk instability mechanism can work, then most planetary systems should have gas giant planets," says Boss. "However, if core accretion is the mechanism that forms gas giants, then most planetary systems may only have failed cores that grew too slowly to accrete enough gas to become gas giants. In other words, they would be full of ice giants like Neptune instead. Only observations will prove which is right."
What's Next
Understanding the role that Jupiter plays in our own solar system can help astronomers narrow their search for habitable planets around other stars. While current planet search techniques are limited to the detection of very massive planets, finding a planet similar to Jupiter in mass and orbital distance might indicate places where Earth-like planets could be found.

After 15 years of observations, an extrasolar planet with an orbital distance similar to Jupiter's was detected in 2002. This planet, orbiting the star 55 Cancri in the constellation Cancer, orbits at approximately 5 AU. However, the planet has a mass about 4 times that of Jupiter, and this larger mass may affect the inner solar system in ways our own Jupiter does not.

In addition, this solar system contains two other Jupiter-mass planets in tight orbits around their star: one at .115 AU, the other at .241 AU. These inner gas giants suggest there probably aren't any terrestrial planets within the star's habitable zone.

Still, scientists are optimistic about finding other Jupiter-mass planets at similar orbital distances in the near feature. Such solar systems will be prime candidates for NASA's Terrestrial Planet Finder, a space-born telescope designed to take visual images of Earth-mass planets. The Terrestrial Planet Finder is due to be launched sometime between 2012 and 2015.

Copyright 2003, Astrobiology Magazine


From The Daily Telegraph, 21 January 2003

By Paul Davies

The recent discovery that exotic microbes teem in the rocks hundreds of metres beneath the floor of the Pacific Ocean looks set to fuel the controversy over where and when life began. And it will also considerably boost hopes for life on Mars.

When H G Wells wrote War of the Worlds in the 1890s, belief in life on the Red Planet was widespread. Astronomers even produced maps showing networks of canals they thought had been built by water-deprived Martians. These fanciful notions were knocked on the head in the 1960s when the first space probes to visit Mars revealed a barren, cratered terrain.

The coup de grace came in 1976 when the US space agency Nasa landed two Viking spacecraft on the surface to search for signs of biological activity. Data showed a freeze-dried desert bathed in ultra-violet radiation. Scooped up Martian dirt was analysed, and not a single bacterium was found. Mars was red and dead.

In recent years, however, sentiment has begun to shift. Several forthcoming Mars missions, notably Britain's Beagle 2 designed by Prof Colin Pillinger of the Open University, will seek out telltale signs that Mars has, or at least once had, some form of life. So what has changed?

Life as we know it requires liquid water, and photographs of Mars show river valleys and flood channels. There are hints of lakes and even a small ocean. All are dried up now, but results from the Mars Odyssey probe suggest an abundance of ice locked up in the form of permafrost. The water is still there, but frozen.

Three and a half billion years ago it was a different story. Mars had a thick atmosphere that created intense greenhouse warming. It also had extensive volcanoes. Running water was in abundance. Such warm, wet conditions were ideal for life. On Earth, the oldest microbes are found clustering around volcanic vents on the ocean floor. Mars probably had similar environments billions of years ago that could have hosted such organisms.

Another key factor in the reappraisal of Mars is the discovery that life on Earth extends deep into the crust. The new results by Prof Stephen Giovannoni and colleagues at Oregon State University, Corvallis, confirm the existence of a pervasive hidden biosphere that may be kilometres deep.

This subterranean life thrives without sunlight, exploiting dissolved gases and fluids percolating up from the torrid depths. The primary producers are microbes that can convert inorganic substances directly into living material using chemical energy alone.

The significance of this discovery for Mars is that, though the surface is hostile to life, the warmer subsurface may be more congenial. Miles down, liquid water aquifers might harbour hardy organisms of the sort found beneath the sea bed in the Pacific. And even if Mars is dead today, life could have clung on underground for billions of years.

In fact, Mars may even have been a more favourable planet than Earth for life to get going in the first place. For a start, it was spared the colossal impact that created the moon and melted Earth's crust. Scientists now recognise that cosmic impacts have played a major role in the story of life.

For the 700 million or so years that followed the formation of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago, a barrage of giant asteroids pounded the planets. On Earth, these impacts would have swathed the globe with incandescent rock vapour, boiling the oceans and sterilising the rock beneath.

On Mars, life could have been shielded from the bombardment by taking up residence in the deep subsurface. Being smaller than Earth, the Red Planet cooled quicker, rapidly dissipating the fiery heat of its formation. When Earth's crust was still a searing hell, the Martian subsurface could have been comfortable for heat-tolerant microbes of the sort now living near volcanic vents.

Ironically, the same impacts that threatened early life in the solar system might also have served to propagate it. A comet slamming into Mars would blast billions of tons of rocks into space. A few per cent of this ejected material will eventually hit Earth. A couple of dozen meteorites are known to have come from Mars, and estimates suggest that, on average, about one Mars rock per month reaches our planet.

It seems inevitable that, if there were once abundant microbes on Mars, some of them would have reached Earth by hitching a ride on Martian meteorites. Cocooned inside a large rock, they would be screened from the worst effects of radiation and protected from burning up as they plunged into the Earth's atmosphere.

Experiments using superguns in New Mexico and at the University of Kent confirm that bacteria could withstand the shock of being blasted off Mars. Moreover, the Martian meteorites collected so far were not subjected to lethal temperatures during their violent ejection. It seems likely that at least some resilient microbes could have made the journey unscathed.

This raises the tantalising prospect that Mars may be the cradle of terrestrial life. One of the puzzles about life on Earth is that it established itself so quickly after the bombardment abated 3.8 billion years ago. In Western Australia there are 3.5 billion-year-old rocks containing fossil bacteria. Nearby are stromatolites, thought to be the product of ancient microbial mat-building. There is even a hint of life in Greenland rocks as old as 3.85 billion years, although those claims are contentious.

Clearly life didn't spring into existence ready-made in the form of fully-fledged bacteria, so there must have been an extended even earlier period of evolution. But given the battering Earth's surface took from asteroids and comets, it looks more and more likely that this pre-history took place beyond our planet.

If life began on Mars and evolved to the point of bacteria by, say, four billion years ago, then it had plenty of chance to infect our planet. A rain of microbe-laden Martian debris would have fallen on Earth throughout the bombardment. Possibly Mars life took root here many times, only to be exterminated by the next big impact. Eventually, some of these incoming colonists would have flourished, probably by spreading into the sheltered subterranean depths where microbial life still lurks today. From this precarious niche, they evolved into the vast diversity of life we see today, from mouse to man.

If this theory is right, then history has turned full circle since H G Wells penned his alien scare story. Far from being our enemies, the Martians are our ancestors.

Paul Davies is in The Australian Centre for Astrobiology at Macquarie University in Sydney. This article is based on his Michael Faraday Prize lecture "The Origin of Life" to be given at The Royal Society on January 27, before scientists and media gather at an event sponsored by The Daily Telegraph and Novartis.

Mars, the appearance of aliens and fate of the human race will be discussed at the Cheltenham Festival of Science which starts on June 4. To order a brochure, call 01242 237377, email or visit

Copyright 2003, The Daily Telegraph


From Peter Bond <>


27 January 2003



On 27 January, Telescope Technologies Limited (TTL), a company owned by Liverpool John Moores University, received the prestigious China Export of the Year Award for 2002.  The Award was made in recognition of the achievement of TTL in winning a contract to build the largest astronomical
telescope in China.

The Award was presented by HRH The Duke of York, the UK's Special Representative for International Trade and Investment, at a ceremony in London to Mr. Aldham Robarts, Chairman of the Company.

TTL has pioneered use of advanced technology to build the world's largest robotic telescopes.  The telescope for China is being built for the Yunnan Astronomical Observatory, Chinese Academy of Sciences. It will have a mirror 2.4 metres in diameter and will take two years to manufacture.  It will be sited at a mountain Observatory 3200 metres in altitude near the historic city and tourist destination of Li Jiang in the Province of Yunnan. When installed, the telescope will be capable of unsupervised, fully autonomous operation for many nights of observations. The telescope is ideally suited to monitoring many hundreds of variable astronomical objects such as supernovae, gamma-ray bursters, and cataclysmic variable stars as well as searching for Earth-like planets in our Galaxy by observation of gravitational-lensing effects. The telescope in China will be capable of being linked to similar TTL robotic telescopes on La Palma, Canary islands; Hawaii; and Australia to form a global network for monitoring objects 24 hours a day and simultaneously at different wavelengths.

TTL is based at and owned by Liverpool John Moores University and has one of the world's most highly qualified and experienced telescope design teams (with expertise in mechanical, optical, software and control engineering). Staff come from both astronomical and industrial backgrounds.  The core members of the team originate from the Royal Greenwich Observatory. The company closely collaborates with the Astrophysics Institute of the University, whose staff have developed the robotic scheduling software (the most advanced of its kind) for the telescope.

Liverpool John Moores University, founded in 1823, is a large city-based university with over 20,000 students studying over 200 courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level. The University has played a vital role in the cultural renaissance of Liverpool and regeneration of the city. New advances in digital technology and science have placed the University at the forefront of exciting developments in areas such as multimedia and space exploration.

The China Export of the Year Award is given by the 48 Group Club who this year celebrate 50 years of building business relations between the UK and China. This organisation has, within its ranks, an unmatched pool of Chinese business expertise.



From Mark Kidger <>

Dear Benny:

I was interested in you item on Comet C/2002 X5 (Kudo-Fujikawa) yesterday.
Unfortunately, reality has caught up with this comet and although it is
moderately bright, it looks unlikely that it will get past magnitude 4. The
comet passes perihelion tomorrow and is just 2 degrees from the Sun. As far as
I am aware it has not been observed with the naked-eye, nor does it look likely
that it will be. In fact, as SOHO comets go, it will be reasonably bright, but
far from the most spectacular comet that SOHO has seen.

In contrast, there is a second comet that is approaching the Sun that will
reach perihelion at half the distance of C/2002 X5 and which has been behaving
in a very singular manner. Comet C/2002 V1 (NEAT) has received little publicity
because it appears to be a very small object and it was expected to fade out
before perihelion but, to everyone's surprise, it is now well inside the
Earth's orbit (current heliocentric distance 0.76AU) and still brightening,
according to the data that I am receiving, as a 6th power law, although this
still represents a significant decrease in the rate of brightening over
previous levels.

C/2002 V1 (NEAT) is now actually as bright as C/2002 X5 (Kudo-Fujikawa) and
could get much brighter still. Although a few weeks ago it had become
extremely difuse, visual observers are now showing the comet to be much more
condensed again, which suggests that it may even survive through to perihelion.

Nominally, C/2002 V1 (NEAT) would reach a magnitude around -10 if it were to
follow its current evolution and be a really spectacular object in the SOHO
images. I think that it is very unlikely that it will get this bright, but it
is quite unprecented that a small comet continues brightening so fast so close
to the Sun. Whatever happens, it will be extremely interesting to see how it
behaves from here on in. Will it be disrupted? When will its brightening
slow down to normal rates of a 2nd or 3rd power law? Whatever happens it is
likely that around perihelion on Fenruary 18th, the comet should be magnitude
0 or brighter and a much more spectacular object for SOHO-watchers.


Mark Kidger


From Michael Paine <>

Early Mars: Oceans Away?
"several researchers during the 1980s noted that large, early asteroid impacts "would induce hydrothermal phenomena and could produce small valley networks....If the impact scenario is correct, the river valley networks are not a good place to look for evidence of life, Toon says. "It's just not the right place; they are probably ephemeral." A better place, he says, are the much younger gullies, which were apparently fed by hydrothermal water. "They tapped into underground aquifers for a long life, maybe millions of years," Toon says.



From Worth Crouch <>

Dear Dr. Peiser,

Are we drinking Martian water in our mixed drinks that came our way by the comet express? Could cosmic collisions have knocked off the Martian oceans? Might we be the descendants of microbes from Mars, or do we just know people who have microbial Martian brains? Since NASA's Mars Global Surveyor sent pictures that showed valleys and gullies, which some believe were dug out by ice flows, floods, or even oceans the existence of water on Mars has excited people's imagination.

A few meteorites have been identified as Martian, because of their profile by US space probes, and one meteorite from Mars suggests the red planet had water.  On January 23, 2003 the Theodore Monod Consortium in France determined a Martian basalt meteorite had a crystallization pattern that conforms to the presence of ancient water.

The Augite in the basalt crystallized before pigeonite, and studies have shown this can only happen under high pressure in liquid magma when there is a significant quantity of dissolved water. Martian meteorites are believed to have been kicked off the surface of the planet by an asteroid or comet collision millions of years ago. And although meteorite, NWA 1669, which fell in the Western Sahara hasn't been dated its chemical profile matches that of Mars.

Mars was probably impacted by another comet or asteroid 16 million years ago and debris was sent hurtling into space, some of which reached Earth as another Martian meteorite ALH84001. This event must have been a major catastrophe on Mars; yet on Earth the resulting meteor was little more than a streak in the sky.  The catastrophe was probably significant enough to extinguish Martian life if it existed, and the existence of Martian life is not out of the question, since Rod-shaped structures found on the meteorite have been interpreted as tiny fossilized bacteria by some.

So there is evidence Mars had water and life. Also the indication that in the past liquid water created oceans and erosion on the Martian landscape brings the vision of an Earthlike atmosphere with clouds and rain.

However, the point isn't that Mars had water, or even life, or that Martian water and life might have been blasted to Earth millions of years ago. What is significant is, whatever Mars had it was blown off into oblivion by cosmic impacts and Earthlings could face the same fate if an asteroid/comet defense isn't established. After all shouldn't we Earthlings have a greater ability to defend our planet than the poor stupid Martian bacteria had defending theirs?


Worth F. Crouch


From The Times, 30 January 2003,,482-559907,00.html

THE real bond between the United States and Europe is the values we share: democracy, individual freedom, human rights and the Rule of Law. These values crossed the Atlantic with those who sailed from Europe to help create the USA. Today they are under greater threat than ever.

The attacks of 11 September showed just how far terrorists - the enemies of our common values - are prepared to go to destroy them. Those outrages were an attack on all of us. In standing firm in defence of these principles, the governments and people of the United States and Europe have amply demonstrated the strength of their convictions. Today more than ever, the transatlantic bond is a guarantee of our freedom.

We in Europe have a relationship with the United States which has stood the test of time. Thanks in large part to American bravery, generosity and far-sightedness, Europe was set free from the two forms of tyranny that devastated our continent in the 20th century: Nazism and Communism. Thanks, too, to the continued cooperation between Europe and the United States we have managed to guarantee peace and freedom on our continent. The transatlantic relationship must not become a casualty of the current Iraqi regime's persistent attempts to threaten world security.

In today's world, more than ever before, it is vital that we preserve that unity and cohesion. We know that success in the day-to-day battle against terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction demands unwavering determination and firm international cohesion on the part of all countries for whom freedom is precious.

The Iraqi regime and its weapons of mass destruction represent a clear threat to world security. This danger has been explicitly recognised by the United Nations. All of us are bound by Security Council Resolution 1441, which was adopted unanimously. We Europeans have since reiterated our backing for Resolution 1441, our wish to pursue the UN route and our support for the Security Council, at the Prague Nato Summit and the Copenhagen European Council.

In doing so, we sent a clear, firm and unequivocal message that we would rid the world of the danger posed by Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. We must remain united in insisting that his regime is disarmed. The solidarity, cohesion and determination of the international community are our best hope of achieving this peacefully. Our strength lies in unity.

The combination of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism is a threat of incalculable consequences. It is one at which all of us should feel concerned. Resolution 1441 is Saddam Hussein's last chance to disarm using peaceful means. The opportunity to avoid greater confrontation rests with him. Sadly this week the UN weapons inspectors have confirmed that his long-established pattern of deception, denial and non-compliance with UN Security Council resolutions is continuing.

Europe has no quarrel with the Iraqi people. Indeed, they are the first victims of Iraq's current brutal regime. Our goal is to safeguard world peace and security by ensuring that this regime gives up its weapons of mass destruction. Our governments have a common responsibility to face this threat. Failure to do so would be nothing less than negligent to our own citizens and to the wider world.

The United Nations Charter charges the Security Council with the task of preserving international peace and security. To do so, the Security Council must maintain its credibility by ensuring full compliance with its resolutions. We cannot allow a dictator to systematically violate those Resolutions. If they are not complied with, the Security Council will lose its credibility and world peace will suffer as a result.

We are confident that the Security Council will face up to its responsibilities.

Jos Mara Aznar, Spain
Jos Manuel Duro Barroso, Portugal
Silvio Berlusconi, Italy
Tony Blair, United Kingdom
Vclav Havel, Czech Republic
Peter Medgyessy, Hungary
Leszek Miller, Poland
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Denmark


From Nature Science Update, 29 January 2003

Trojan geography in Homer's Iliad matches sediment record of Dardanelles coastline.


Homer knew his geography, say US researchers. The ancient Greek writer's description of the war fought around Troy is consistent with a new reconstruction of the way the region looked about three millennia ago1.

In his Iliad, Homer recounts how the city of Troy was besieged and finally conquered by the army of the Spartan king Menelaus, who sought to reclaim his wife Helen from her abductor, prince Paris. This is thought to have happened around 1250 BC.

Homer's account of the siege and battles give several clues about the lay of the Trojan plain. Then, in the first century AD, the Greek writer Strabo expanded on the description in his book Geography, by which time Troy was known as New Ilium.

Ancient Troy is thought to have stood at a site called Hissarlik in present-day Turkey; archaeological excavations have revealed the remains of a city. There are, in fact, several different ancient Troys, as the settlement was built and destroyed many times since the third millennium BC. These ruins now perch on the edge of a plateau overlooking a river flood plain of sand, silt and marshland.

When Troy was first built around 3000 BC, say John Kraft, of the University of Delaware in Newark, and his colleagues, it was on the coast of a great bay that filled most of the plain.

Today, however, Troy's environs look very different. Little by little, silt from the Simois and Scamander rivers (today called the Dumrek Su and Kara Menderes), which flow into the bay, moved the Dardanelles coastline several kilometres north, leaving Troy high and dry.

The researchers tracked these changes back through time by radiocarbon dating the fossils in columns of sediment drilled from the rivers' flood plain. Their analysis revealed where, at different times, the ground was once a swamp, a brackish lagoon, or earlier still, a flooded bay. The investigation was begun in 1977 and has been directed by Kraft's collaborator Ilhan Kayan of Ege University in Izmir, Turkey .

The Greek army, Homer tells us, camped on the Aegean cost to the west of Troy, and drew up their ships "on the shore of the surging sea well away from the fighting". Kraft's team figures that this camp was situated on a promontory along the west of the former Bay of Troy, which the Greeks defended with a "deep ditch" to the south that prevented the Trojans from advancing up the narrow finger of land.

The researchers also located the "ford of the fair-flowing river" Scamander. Here, according to Homer, Achilles "broke the Trojan line" and forced many of the Trojans over the steep riverbanks into the deep, swift water. By Strabo's time, the plain was probably much farther north, so that the promontory was no longer evident and the two rivers were able to flow together before emptying into the retreating bay.

The team's findings show that Strabo's judgement was unfailingly acute when he spoke of the geography of the Trojan War. He realized that alluvial deposition had changed the coast since Homer's day, and he seems to have guessed rightly when he stated that the Greek camp and ship station were situated "20 stades [about 4 kilometres] from Ilium".

Kraft, J. C., Rapp, G., Kayan, I. & Luce, J. V. Harbor areas at ancient Troy: sedimentology and geomorphology complement Homer's Iliad. Geology, 31, 163 - 166, (2003). |Article|

Nature News Service / Macmillan Magazines Ltd 2003

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CCNet TERRA 7/2003 -  29 January 2003

"As an Arctic frost chills two-thirds the nation and kills hundreds
in Bangladesh, some answers may come from changes in the Arctic itself.
As several scientists have warned, global warming will be full of
surprises. Warming over the past half-century has already brought more
erratic and extreme weather. Some climatologists are increasingly concerned
about the stability of the climate system itself and the potential for
abrupt shifts - to warmer or even much colder states."
--Paul R. Epstein and James J. McCarthy, The Boston Globe,
28 january 2003

"In the southeastern U.S., we've had declining temperatures over the
past 110 years. Would this be evidence that human impacts are causing the
temperature to fall?"
--John Christy, University of Alabama in Huntsville

"With logic apparently in the deep-freeze, several global warming
apocalysts have stated that the outbreak of record-breaking low
temperatures in late January and early February [1996] is exactly
what we should expect as global warming kicks in. That's right-global
warming causes record cold."
--World Climate Report, February 1996

    Associated Press, 28 January 2003

    The Times of In dia, 29 January 2003

    Tech Central Station, 24 January 2003

    The Boston Globe, 28 January 2003

    World Climate Report, February 1996

    CO2 Science Magazine, 29 January 2003

    CO2 Science Magazine, 29 January 2003

    CO2 Science Magazine, 29 January 2003


     Andrew Glikson <>

     Max Wallis <>

     Nathalie Bugeaud <>

     Benny J Peiser <>


>From Associated Press, 28 January 2003

NEW DELHI (AP) - Cloudy weather and occasional sunshine have pushed
temperatures up in northern India, ending the worst South Asian cold spell
in 40 years, officials said Tuesday.

The frigid weather has claimed 1,935 lives in India, Nepal and Bangladesh
since mid-December. People began wearing light clothes in New Delhi as the
temperature reached 25 degrees Monday, five degrees above normal, an officer
at the weather office said. The day's low was 13.5.

No new deaths were reported in South Asia on Tuesday. The death toll stood
at 1,100 in India, 786 in Bangladesh and 49 in Nepal from the bitter cold
and icy Himalayan winds that lashed the region, officials said.

The three-week spell was the coldest in 40 years in the Indian states of
Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the weather
officer said. In the past, cold spells typically lasted seven to 10 days...


>From The Times of In dia, 29 January 2003
NEW DELHI: After a brief respite, Himachal was again in the grip of cold
wave with higher reaches experiencing heavy snowfall as sharp showers pelted
northern region breaking the prolonged dry spell.

The entire tribal belt and higher hills in Himachal had fresh snowfall while
rains coupled with icy winds lashed mid and lower hills reviving cold wave
conditions in the state.

>From Tech Central Station, 24 January 2003

By Nick Schulz
Does a frigid January mean the threat of climate change is over? As the
headline on the front of Wednesday's New York Daily News put it "Global
Warming, Huh?"

In the northeast and parts of the midwest, the temperature has not risen
above freezing since January 14. It's gotten so cold, the crime rate is down
in New York City - it's apparently too cold to burgle. Meteorologists expect
the cold front to last into next week.

But low temperatures this winter don't disprove the global-warming theory
any more than warm temperatures last summer confirm it. Despite this, we
often hear from some scientists, the media, and politicians how the 20th
century was the warmest on record and how greenhouse gases - in particular
those caused by human use of fossil fuels - are contributing to a
catastrophic global warming.

"The evidence of global warming keeps piling up, month after month, week
after week," said Vice President Al Gore, back in the hot summer of 1998.
"How long is it going to take before these people in the Congress get the
message? People are sweltering out here."

And just last summer, Europe was hit with bad flooding and the Danube
spilled over its banks. Rather than blame a fickle Mother Nature, some chose
to blame mankind. "This [flooding] definitely has to do with global warming.
We must change something now. Those nations that really are careless with
the environment should have to compensate," said Gallus Cadonau of the Swiss
Greina Foundation.

And when human beings aren't causing floods, they're apparently causing
droughts. "This is the first drought... where the impact of human-induced
global warming can be clearly seen," David Karoly, a former professor of
meteorology at Australia's Monash University said two weeks ago.

All of these assertions are cold comfort to people in many parts of the
world experiencing one of the worst freezing spells in recent memory.

"London was blanketed under more snow than it has seen in 11 years...
Freezing conditions enveloped the country," the Independent reported this
month. "The whole northern hemisphere, from Florida to Finland, Germany to
Japan, was in the grip of a cold snap that seemed more in line with a new
Ice Age," the Daily Telegraph revealed last week.

"As a monthlong cold wave hammers parts of India, Bangladesh and Nepal, it
is the poor who fare the worst in the daily fight against dropping
temperatures," the AP reported. The cold is already responsible for over 100
deaths in Bangladesh.

So what's going on? For starters, there's a lot of what climate scientists
call "natural variability" at work. That's a fancy way of saying that
climate has always changed and will continue to change on its own over time
- despite the inputs and influences of volcanic eruptions or the sun or
human-made greenhouse gases. This makes it difficult to predict what will
happen in the future or to ascertain precisely what factors - such as
greenhouse gases - will influence global climate and in what way.

Dr. John Christy of the Department of Atmospheric Science and Earth System
Science Laboratory at the University of Alabama in Huntsville points out
that "in the southeastern U.S., we've had declining temperatures over the
past 110 years. Would this be evidence that human impacts are causing the
temperature to fall?"

Of course not. Just as the current cold spell isn't proof that global
warming isn't happening. But neither is a flood, a drought, a melting
glacier, or a hot summer where "people are sweltering" proof that global
warming is happening.

The currently available climate science tells us that a lot of healthy
skepticism is in order anytime anyone says recent weather conditions and
climate changes point to global warming. In the mean time, good news could
be on the horizon for the shivering masses around the world. Britain's
Meteorological Office warned less than a month ago that 2003 is set to
become the hottest year on record. If the Office turns out to be correct,
just don't call it global warming.

Copyright 2003, Tech Central Station


>From The Boston Globe, 28 January 2003

By Paul R. Epstein and James J. McCarthy, 1/28/2003


As an Arctic frost chills two-thirds the nation and kills hundreds in
Bangladesh, some answers may come from changes in the Arctic itself.

First, if you had any doubts, we are in an unusually deep cold spell, with
snow and records falling across the South. Driving conditions are hazardous
(and sometimes tragic) as pedestrians and the homeless face bitter winds and
icy ''orthopedic weather.'' Ice dams are blocking Latvian ports, winds and
storms are battering Europe, Portugal is freezing, Vietnam has lost
one-third its rice crop, and the cold has caused close to 2,000 deaths in
usually temperate South Asia.

As several scientists have warned, global warming will be full of surprises.
Warming over the past half-century has already brought more erratic and
extreme weather. Some climatologists are increasingly concerned about the
stability of the climate system itself and the potential for abrupt shifts -
to warmer or even much colder states. Can we make sense of the present cold

Part of the explanation comes from changes to our north.

Warming causes ice to melt, forming cold fresh water. And increased input of
cold fresh water to the ocean can affect weather patterns as well as global
ocean circulation.

Recent warming in the Northern Hemisphere has melted a lot of North Polar
ice. Since the 1970s the floating North Polar ice cap has thinned by almost

A second source of cold fresh water comes from Greenland, where continental
ice is now melting at higher elevations each year. Some melt water is
trickling down through crevasses; lubricating the base, accelerating ice
''rivers,'' and increasing the potential for sudden slippage.

A third source of cold fresh water is rain at high latitudes. Overall ocean
warming speeds up the water cycle, increasing evaporation. The warmed
atmosphere can also hold and transport more water vapor from low to high
latitudes. Water falling over land is enhancing discharge from five major
Siberian rivers into the Arctic, and water falling directly over the ocean
adds even more fresh water to the surface.

The cold, freshened waters of the North Atlantic accelerate transatlantic
winds, and this may be one factor driving frigid fronts down the eastern US
seaboard and across to Europe and Asia.

It is too early to know how long the current cold spell will last, and time
and hindsight will be needed to reveal all the factors contributing to the
present chill. But the ice itself and pollen and marine fossils reveal that
cold reversals have interrupted warming trends in the past.

The North Atlantic Ocean can freshen to a point where the North Atlantic
deep water pump - driven by sinking cold, salty water that is, in turn,
replaced by warm Gulf Stream waters - can suddenly slow down. Some 13,000
years ago, when the globe was emerging from the last Glacial Maximum and
continental ice sheets were thawing, the Gulf Stream abruptly changed course
and shot straight across to France. The Northern Hemisphere refroze - for
the next 1,300 years - before temperatures jumped again in just several
years, warming the world to its present state.

In the past few years the northern North Atlantic has freshened, and since
the 1950s the deep overflow between Iceland and Scotland has slowed by 20

Since cold reversals occurred naturally, one may ask whether humans can
influence these cycles as well.

Natural variability and human influence together explain the observed
changes in the North Atlantic. Calculations (of orbital cycles) indicate
that our hospitable climate regime was not likely to end due to natural
causes any time soon. But due to the burning of fossil fuels, atmospheric
levels of carbon dioxide are now greater than at any time in the last half
million years. The recent buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases is
forcing the climate system in new ways and into uncharted seas.

The hopeful news is that unstable systems can be restabilized. But
substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions will be needed in the
next few years to stabilize the atmospheric concentrations and reduce the
human-generated forces pushing on the climate system.

In order to change directions, however, we must first slow down. And slowing
down means burning much less coal, oil, and gas and cutting far fewer trees.

Significant incentives will be needed to simultaneously solve the problems
of energy, the environment, and the economy. But clean development through
renewable energy can become the engine of growth for this 21st century and
provide the best insurance for a healthier, more stable, and more secure

Dr. Paul R. Epsteinis associate director of the Center for Health and the
Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. James J. McCarthy is professor
of oceanography at Harvard University and was co-chair of the IPCC 2001
Assessment, Working Group II.

This story ran on page A15 of the Boston Globe on 1/28/2003.
Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.


>From World Climate Report, February 1996

Taxpayers complain that scientists waste their hard-earned money because of
press releases like "A recent government study has shown that overweight
people consume more fat than people who are not overweight."  You don't need
a doctorate to grasp the obvious.

Similarly, the untrained but informed reader can often smell a rat (or a
rabbit). With logic apparently in the deep-freeze, several global warming
apocalysts have stated that the outbreak of record-breaking low temperatures
in late January and early February [1996] is exactly what we should expect
as global warming kicks in. That's right-global warming causes record cold.

Here, we'll instead examine the validity of the hypothesis that cold air
masses should get colder as levels of atmospheric trace gases increase.
Specifically, let's look at how polar and Arctic air masses form and how
these systems might change in an enhanced greenhouse world.

Figure 1.  Departure of average temperature from normal for the period Jan.
28 through Feb. 3, 1996 (from Climate Analysis Center).

Cold Air Mass Formation

The world's coldest air masses form over the high latitude continental
plains (and over the frozen Arctic Ocean) in winter. Air moves over an
extensive snow- and ice-covered surface and begins to cool by emitting its
warmth (longwave infrared radiation) both toward the ground and off into
space. As long as the air is warmer than the snowpack, it will continue to
cool until equilibrium is attained (the air and the surface reach the same
temperature). Simultaneously, the snow and ice are radiating away energy
(losing heat) to both the atmosphere and to space.  Since these
high-latitude climes are perpetually snow- or ice-covered in winter, they
serve as an ideal breeding ground for cold air masses.

But the weather has to cooperate to provide optimal conditions for cold air
mass formation. A high pressure system is a necessary ingredient.  This type
of system, characterized by calm winds and clear skies, provides the
conditions that are ideal for maximum radiative loss.

The final piece of the puzzle is residence time. The longer the air mass
remains in place over the snowpack, the colder it will get. Once the jet
stream configuration changes to allow the air mass to drift southward (which
it almost always does in winter), then the midlatitudes are primed for a
cold air outbreak like the one that chilled the eastern two-thirds of the
nation a few weeks ago.

So a strong cold air outbreak requires a high pressure system to be in place
for a substantial length of time (preferably one week or more) over an
extensive snow- or ice-covered surface. Certain configurations of the jet
stream allow for extensive and very cold air masses to form while others
move the systems out of the region every few days.

Cold Air and Global Warming

Greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, water vapor, CFCs, etc.) absorb radiation
emitted from the surface of the earth and then radiate this energy in all
directions (both to the surface and to space). As atmospheric concentrations
of these gases increase, we would expect an increase in the amount of
radiation from the atmosphere to the surface and less total loss of heat
from the snowpack to space.

So what should happen to these cold air masses in a greenhouse world? If
less radiation escapes from the snow and ice to space and the amount of
radiation from the atmosphere back to the surface increases, then these cold
air masses should be getting warmer over time. In fact, Larry Kalkstein's
research group at the University of Delaware believes they found some
evidence of warming within the coldest air masses in Alaska and Canada (see
Vol. 1, No. 8) but none in Russia.

Figure 2.  Top: The snow and ice lose a considerable amount of energy into
space (large arrow at right), which allows for rapid cooling to take
place-resulting in very cold air masses.  Bottom: The addition of carbon
dioxide reduces the energy lost from the snow and ice into space and
increases the amount absorbed by the atmosphere.  Under these conditions,
less cooling occurs-leading to warmer air masses.

There are other complicating factors, however. For example, if polar air
masses have longer residence times in these source regions, they will
typically reach a lower temperature before heading southward. Any historical
changes in residence times will affect the trends. In addition, systematic
changes in the atmospheric circulation will influence the air mass residence
times. Each of these topics will be explored in detail in later issues. But
here is the bottom line:  We find no trends in polar air mass residence
times, and the changes that have been observed in the atmospheric
circulation patterns are the opposite of what we would expect in a
"greenhouse-warmed" atmosphere.

So those of you who sniffed out this rat were right. In an enhanced CO2
atmosphere, cold air masses should be warmer than in the past. Global
warming should not cause the earth to be cooler. Of course, if a government
study produced that finding (which, incidentally, it did), it might make
some taxpayers really mad.


Kalkstein, L.S., P.C. Dunne, and R.S. Vose, (1990).  Detection of climatic
change in the western North American Arctic using a synoptic climatological
approach.  J. Climate, 3, 1153-1167.

Kalkstein, L.S., P.C. Dunne, and H. Ye, (1993).  Reply, J. Climate, 6,


>From CO2 Science Magazine, 29 January 2003

Has the "Unprecedented Warming" of the Last Century Had Any Effect on West
Antarctic Ice Sheet Dynamics?

Stone, J.O., Balco, G.A., Sugden, D.E., Caffee, M.W., Sass III, L.C.,
Cowdery, S.G. and Siddoway, C. 2003. Holocene deglaciation of Marie Byrd
Land, West Antarctica. Science 299: 99-102.

"The fate of humankind is linked to that of the remote West Antarctic Ice
Sheet (WAIS) through global sea levels." So writes Ackert (2003) in his
Science glaciology perspective on the report of Stone et al. (2003), who
describe trends of deglaciation over parts of this crucially important polar
ice sheet throughout the Holocene. Does their work reveal, as Ackert asks,
"the early stages of rapid ice sheet collapse, with potential near-term
impacts on the world's coastlines?"

If one pays any attention at all to the harangues of climate alarmists, one
might assume this question has already been answered - and answered in the
affirmative - especially in light of their oft-repeated claim that the
increase in mean global air temperature of the past hundred years is
"unprecedented over the past millennium." One might also assume the same in
light of the fact that climate alarmists typically do suggest we are
witnessing the early stages of West Antarctic Ice Sheet disintegration,
especially when a large chunk of ice goes "crack in the night," escapes from
its frigid homeland, and sets sail upon the Southern Ocean. The research of
Stone and his colleagues, however, goes a long way towards putting these
baseless claims to a well-deserved rest.

What was done
Working on western Marie Byrd Land, Stone et al. collected and determined
cosmogenic 10Be exposure dates of glacially-transported cobbles in elevation
transects on seven peaks of the Ford Ranges that are located between the ice
sheet's present grounding line and the Clark Mountains some 80 km inland.
Based on these ages and the elevations at which the cobbles were found, they
determined a history of ice-sheet thinning over the past 10,000-plus years.

What was learned
The scientists say their data show that "the exposed rock in the Ford
Ranges, up to 700 m above the present ice surface, was deglaciated within
the past 11,000 years" and that "several lines of evidence suggest that the
maximum ice sheet stood considerably higher than this." They also report
that the consistency of the exposure age versus elevation trends of their
data "indicates steady deglaciation since the first of these peaks emerged
from the ice sheet some time before 10,400 years ago" and that the mass
balance of the region "has been negative throughout the Holocene."

Continuing, Stone et al. say their results "add to the evidence that West
Antarctic deglaciation continued long after the disappearance of the
Northern Hemisphere ice sheets and may still be under way," and they report
that the ice sheet in Marie Byrd Land "shows the same pattern of steady
Holocene deglaciation as the marine ice sheet in the Ross Sea," where ice
"has thinned and retreated since 7000 years ago," noting further that "there
is strong evidence that the limit of grounded ice in both regions - and in
Pine Island Bay - is still receding."

What it means
As long contended by scientists who disagree with climate-alarmist claims
that we are witnessing CO2-induced "early stages of rapid ice sheet
collapse," the work of Stone et al. convincingly demonstrates that the
current thinning and retreat of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet are merely
manifestations of a slow but steady deglaciation that has been going on and
on and on, ever since the beginning-of-the-end of the last great ice age.
Although this phenomenon is unabashedly used by climate alarmists to scare
people into believing anthropogenic CO2 emissions are rapidly leading to the
demise of the WAIS, Stone et al. say something quite different, i.e., that
"the pattern of recent change is consistent with the idea that thinning of
the WAIS over the past few thousand years is continuing." Ackert makes the
point even plainer, when he says "recent ice sheet dynamics appear to be
dominated by the ongoing response to deglacial forcing thousands of years
ago, rather than by a recent anthropogenic warming or sea level rise."

So what's new with the West Antarctic Ice Sheet? Nothing. Nothing at all.

Ackert Jr., R.P.  2003. An ice sheet remembers. Science 299: 57-58.

Copyright 2003.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change


>From CO2 Science Magazine, 29 January 2003

In a recent review paper in Science, Carslaw et al. (2002) begin their essay
on "Cosmic Rays, Clouds, and Climate" by noting that the intensity of cosmic
rays varies by about 15% over a solar cycle, due to changes in the strength
of the solar wind, which carries a weak magnetic field into the heliosphere
that partially shields the earth from low-energy glactic charged particles.
When this shielding is at a minimum, allowing more cosmic rays to impinge
upon the planet, more low clouds have been observed to cover the earth,
producing a tendency for lower temperatures to occur. When the shielding is
maximal, on the other hand, less cosmic rays impinge upon the planet and
fewer low clouds form, which produces a tendency for the earth to warm.

The authors further note that the total variation in low cloud amount over a
solar cycle is about 1.7%, which corresponds to a change in the planet's
radiation budget of about one watt per square meter (1 Wm-2).  This change,
they say, "is highly significant when compared ... with the estimated
radiative forcing of 1.4 Wm-2 from anthropogenic CO2 emissions."  However,
because of the short length of a solar cycle (11 years), the large thermal
inertia of the world's oceans dampens the much greater global temperature
change that would have occurred as a result of this radiative forcing if it
had been spread out over a much longer period of time, so that the actual
observed warming is something a little less than 0.1C.

Much of Carslaw et al.'s review focuses on mechanisms by which cosmic rays
might induce the synchronous low cloud cover changes that have been observed
to accompany their intensity changes.  They begin by briefly describing the
three principle mechanisms that have been suggested to function as links
between solar variability and changes in earth's weather: (1) changes in
total solar irradiance that provide variable heat input to the lower
atmosphere, (2) changes in solar ultraviolet radiation and its interaction
with ozone in the stratosphere that couple dynamically to the lower
atmosphere, and (3) changes in cloud processes having significance for
condensation nucleus abundances, thunderstorm electrification and
thermodynamics, and ice formation in cyclones.

Focusing on the third of these mechanisms, the researchers note that cosmic
rays provide the sole source of ions away from terrestrial sources of
radioisotopes. Hence, they further refine their focus to concentrate on ways
by which cosmic-ray-produced ions may affect cloud droplet number
concentrations and ice particles. Here, they concentrate on two specific
topics: what they call the ion-aerosol clear-air mechanism and the
ion-aerosol near-cloud mechanism. Their review suggests that what we know
about these subjects is very much less than what we could know about them,
which further suggests that these areas are much deserving of funding for
future research, in view of the likelihood that new knowledge in these areas
may be the key to resolving the primary question asked in the title of our
Editorial; for as Carslaw et al. forthrightly report, many scientists
believe that "it is inconceivable that the lower atmosphere can be globally
bombarded by ionizing radiation without producing an effect on the climate

So, do solar-mediated changes in cosmic ray intensities influence climate on
centennial and millennial time scales? In a provocative plot that suggests a
positive answer to this question, Carslaw et al. depict a composite history
of cosmic ray intensities derived from four independent proxies, two of
which extend all the way back to 1700. Comparing this plot with what we
believe to be the most accurate temperature history of the Northern
Hemisphere, i.e., that derived by Esper et al. (2002), we note that for
almost all of the 18th century, cosmic ray intensity declined modestly,
while air temperature slowly rose. Then came a sharp rise in cosmic ray
intensity that was immediately followed by a sharp drop in temperature. This
change, in turn, was followed by a sharp decline in cosmic ray intensity
that was immediately followed by a sharp upturn in temperature. Thereafter,
the cosmic ray intensity leveled off, rose slightly and then declined in
undulating fashion to the end of the record, while temperature leveled off,
dropped slightly and then rose in undulating fashion to the end of the
record, as would be expected to occur in light of what is currently known
about the cosmic ray-cloud connection.

Commenting on the last century of change, Carslaw et al. point out that the
cosmic ray intensity declined by about 15% over this period, "owing to an
increase in the solar open magnetic flux by more than a factor of 2." They
further report that "this 100-year change in intensity is about the same
magnitude as the observed change over the last solar cycle."  In addition,
we note that the cosmic ray intensity was already much lower at the start of
the 20th century than it was just after the start of the19th century, when
the Esper et al. record indicates the planet began its
nearly-two-century-long recovery from the chilly depths of the Little Ice

Clearly, these observations strongly suggest that solar-mediated variations
in the intensity of cosmic rays bombarding the earth are indeed responsible
for the temperature variations of the past three centuries. They provide a
much better fit to the temperature data than do atmospheric CO2 data; and as
Carslaw et al. remark, "if the cosmic ray-cloud effect is real, then these
long-term changes of cosmic ray intensity could substantially influence
climate."  It is this possibility, they say, that makes it "all the more
important to understand the cause of the cloudiness variations," which is
basically the message of their paper, i.e., that we must work hard to deepen
our understanding of the cosmic ray-cloud connection, as it may well hold
the key to resolving what they call this "fiercely debated geophysical
phenomenon."  We therefore propose that funding for relevant research be an
integral part of the next five-year thrust of the U.S. Global Change
Research Program.

Dr. Sherwood B. Idso
Dr. Keith E. Idso

Carslaw, K.S., Harrizon, R.G. and Kirkby, J. 2002. Cosmic rays, clouds, and
climate.  Science 298: 1732-1737.

Esper, J., Cook, E.R. and Schweingruber, F.H. 2002. Low-frequency signals in
long tree-ring chronologies for reconstructing past temperature variability.
Science 295: 2250-2253.

Copyright 2003.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change


>From CO2 Science Magazine, 29 January 2003

How much of an influence the sun has exerted on earth's climate during the
20th Century is a topic of heated discussion in the area of global climate
change. The primary reason for differing opinions on the subject derives
from the fact that although numerous studies have demonstrated significant
correlations between certain measures of solar activity and various climatic
phenomena (Reid, 1991, 1997, 1999, 2000), the magnitude of the solar
radiative forcing reported in these studies is generally so small it is
difficult to see how it could produce climatic effects of the magnitude
observed (Broecker, 1999). Supporters of solar effects theories counter by
saying that various positive feedback mechanisms may amplify the initial
solar perturbation to the extent that significant changes in climate do
indeed result. In this summary, we highlight some of the recent scientific
literature that demonstrates the viability of such solar-climate linkages
and supports the emerging belief that small changes in the sun's energy
output produced the Medieval Warm Period, which was likely the warmest
climatic interval of the past millennium.

Many solar-climate studies utilize tree-ring records of 14C as a measure of
solar activity, because solar activity (including variations in the number
of sunspots and the brightness of the sun) influences the production of
atmospheric 14C, such that periods of higher solar activity yield a lower
production and atmospheric burden of 14C (Perry and Hsu, 2000).  This being
the case, it can be appreciated that as trees remove carbon from the air and
sequester it in their tissues, they are recording a history of solar
activity that could be influencing earth's atmosphere-ocean system.  Thus,
the history of 14C contained in tree rings has been examined by a number of
authors as a proxy indicator of solar activity and compared with various
indices of climate.

A good example of this type of work is the study of Hong et al. (2000), who
developed a high-resolution 18O record from plant cellulose deposited in a
peat bog in the Jilin Province of China (42 20' N, 126 22' E), from which
they report finding "an obvious warm period represented by the high 18O
from around AD 1100 to 1200" in which "the northern boundary of the
cultivation of citrus tree (Citrus reticulata Blanco) and Boehmeria nivea (a
perennial herb), both subtropical and thermophilous plants, moved gradually
into the northern part of China [where] it has been estimated that the
annual mean temperature was 0.9-1.0C higher than at present."  In comparing
their 18O temperature record with changes in atmospheric 14C derived from
tree rings, the authors report a "remarkable, nearly one to one,
correspondence," which led them to conclude that the temperature history of
this region was "forced mainly by solar variability."

Verschuren et al. (2000) also utilized a 14C record as a proxy for solar
activity, comparing it with a decadal-scale history of precipitation in
equatorial east Africa over the past 1000 years.  The results of their
analysis revealed that this region was significantly drier than it is today
during the Medieval Warm Period from AD 1000 to 1270.  Tropical Venezuela,
on the other hand, appears to have experienced higher precipitation during
the Medieval Warm Period, which Haug et al. (2001) attribute to variations
in solar activity.

Castagnoli et al. (2002) searched for solar-induced variations in the 13C
record of the foraminifera Globigerinoides rubber obtained from a sediment
core retrieved from the Gallipoli terrace of the Gulf of Taranto
(3945'53"N, 1753'33"E) over the past 1400 years, finding that this
parameter increased from about 0.4 per mil to 0.8 per mil during the
climatic transition from the Dark Ages Cold Period to the Medieval Warm
Period.  Comparing the 13C record with historical aurorae and sunspot time
series revealed it was "associable in phase" and disclosed "a statistically
significant imprint of the solar activity in [the] climate record."

In North America, an analysis of more than 700 pollen diagrams by Viau et
al. (2002) reveals the existence of a major vegetation transition that
"culminat[ed] in the maximum warming of the Medieval Warm Period 1000 years
ago."  In discussing the origin of this transition, the authors state that
"although several mechanisms for such natural forcing have been advanced,
recent evidence points to a potential solar forcing (Bond et al., 2001)
associated with ocean-atmosphere feedbacks acting as global teleconnections
agents."  The latter authors examined deep-sea sediment cores retrieved from
the North Atlantic and cosmogenic nuclides sequestered in the Greenland ice
cap (10Be) and Northern Hemispheric tree rings (14C), finding a dominant
solar-climate link over the past 12,000 years and concluding that the
Medieval Warm Period "may have been partly or entirely linked to changes in
solar irradiance."

Two additional papers, both model-based studies, also point to a significant
role for the sun in producing earth's Medieval Warm Period climate.  Using a
version of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies GCM, Shindell et al.
(2001) estimated climatic differences between the period of the Maunder
Minimum in solar irradiance (mid-1600s to early 1700s) and a century later,
when solar output was relatively high for several decades. The results of
their analysis led them to conclude that "colder winter temperatures over
the Northern Hemispheric continents during portions of the 15th through the
17th centuries (sometimes called the Little Ice Age) and warmer temperatures
during the 12th through 14th centuries (the putative Medieval Warm Period)
may have been influenced by long-term solar variations."

In the second of these studies, Perry and Hsu (2000) developed a simple
solar-luminosity model and used it to estimate total solar-output variations
over the Holocene.  The model output was well correlated with the amount of
14C in well-dated tree rings extending back through the Medieval Warm
Period, which finding, in the words of the authors, "supports the hypothesis
that the sun is varying its energy production in a manner that is consistent
with the superposition of harmonic cycles of solar activity."

So what specific changes in solar activity are responsible for producing the
mild climate of the Medieval Warm Period?  Some authors have targeted the
approximate 11-year sunspot cycle as a primary suspect (Parker, 1999; Rigozo
et al., 2001).  Compared to the cold Little Ice Age, the mean annual number
of sunspots observed during the Medieval Warm Period was nearly 40 times
greater (Rigozo et al., 2001).  Similarly, analyses of other solar
parameters by Rigozo et al. indicate that the strengths of the solar radio
flux, the solar wind velocity, and the southward component of the
interplanetary magnetic field were 1.89, 1.10 and 2.54 times greater during
the Medieval Warm Period than the Little Ice Age.

How do these small changes in solar activity bring about significant and
pervasive shifts in earth's global climate, such as the Medieval Warm
Period?  In answer to this question, which has long plagued proponents of a
solar-climate link, Bond et al. (2001) describe a scenario whereby
solar-induced changes high in the stratosphere are propagated downward
through the atmosphere to the earth's surface, where they likely provoke
changes in North Atlantic Deep Water formation that alter the global
Thermohaline Circulation.  In light of the plausibility of this scenario,
they suggest that "the solar signals thus may have been transmitted through
the deep ocean as well as through the atmosphere, further contributing to
their amplification and global imprint."

Concluding their landmark paper, Bond et al. say the results of their study
demonstrate that earth's climate system "is highly sensitive to extremely
weak perturbations in the sun's energy output," noting also that their work
"supports the presumption that solar variability will continue to influence
climate in the future."  Consequently, it is clear there is ample reason for
defending the premise that the Medieval Warm Period was a result of
solar-mediated phenomena that may once again be conspiring to return the
planet to a similar state of warmth.

Bond, G., Kromer, B., Beer, J., Muscheler, R., Evans, M.N., Showers, W.,
Hoffmann, S., Lotti-Bond, R., Hajdas, I. and Bonani, G. 2001. Persistent
solar influence on North Atlantic climate during the Holocene.  Science 294:

Broecker, W. 1999. Climate change prediction. Science 283: 179.

Castagnoli, G.C., Bonino, G., Taricco, C. and Bernasconi, S.M. 2002. Solar
radiation variability in the last 1400 years recorded in the carbon isotope
ratio of a Mediterranean sea core.  Advances in Space Research 29:

Haug, G.H., Hughen, K.A., Sigman, D.M., Peterson, L.C. and Rohl, U. 2001.
Southward migration of the intertropical convergence zone through the
Holocene. Science 293: 1304-1308.

Hong, Y.T., Jiang, H.B., Liu, T.S., Zhou, L.P., Beer, J., Li, H.D., Leng,
X.T., Hong, B. and Qin, X.G. 2000. Response of climate to solar forcing
recorded in a 6000-year delta18O time-series of Chinese peat cellulose. The
Holocene 10: 1-7.

Parker, E.N. 1999. Sunny side of global warming. Nature 399: 416-417.

Perry, C.A. and Hsu, K.J. 2000. Geophysical, archaeological, and historical
evidence support a solar-output model for climate change. Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences USA 97: 12433-12438.

Reid, G.C. 1991. Solar total irradiance variations and the global sea
surface temperature record.  Journal of Geophysical Research 96: 2835-2844.

Reid, G.C. 1997. Solar forcing of global climate change since the 17th
century.  Climatic Change 37: 391-405.

Reid, G.C. 1999. Solar variability and its implications for the human
environment.  Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 61(1-2):

Reid, G.C. 2000. Solar variability and the Earth's climate: introduction and
overview.  Space Science Reviews 94(1-2): 1-11.

Rigozo, N.R., Echer, E., Vieira, L.E.A. and Nordemann, D.J.R. 2001.
Reconstruction of Wolf sunspot numbers on the basis of spectral
characteristics and estimates of associated radio flux and solar wind
parameters for the last millennium. Solar Physics 203: 179-191.

Shindell, D.T., Schmidt, G.A., Mann, M.E., Rind, D. and Waple, A.  2001.
Solar forcing of regional climate change during the Maunder Minimum.
Science 294: 2149-2152.

Verschuren, D., Laird, K.R. and Cumming, B.F.  2000.  Rainfall and drought
in equatorial east Africa during the past 1,100 years.  Nature 403: 410-414.

Viau, A.E., Gajewski, K., Fines, P., Atkinson, D.E. and Sawada, M.C.  2002.
Widespread evidence of 1500 yr climate variability in North America during
the past 14,000 yr.  Geology 30: 455-458.
Copyright 2003.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change


>From, 25 January 2003

Recent publicity arising from a study by the Universities of Southampton and
Tasmania of an old sea level benchmark at Port Arthur, Tasmania, claims
`dramatic' sea level rise of about 13cm since the mark was first struck back
in 1841.

These claims are based primarily on statistical probability modelling and
are unsupportable when viewed in the context of physical and documentary
evidence available surrounding the benchmark. The study claims the benchmark
was originally set 44.5cm above the mean level of the sea (as it existed in
1841). Since it now sits at 31.5 cm above (see photo), the difference - 13cm
- is claimed to be evidence of sea level rise.
However, the man responsible for putting the mark there, explorer Sir James
Clark Ross stated explicitly and several times in his 1846 book that the
mark was placed at mean sea level (as he estimated it to be), not at a point
44.5cm above as claimed by the study. Other evidence surrounding the
original placing of the benchmark is less clear, but we do have one positive
measurement of where the benchmark stood relative to sea level taken in 1888
by the then Government meteorologist, Commander J. Shortt R.N. He found the
mark to be 34cm above sea level - only 2 cm different to its current

This suggests a sea level rise since 1888 of only 2cm, not 13cm as claimed
by the study. This small rise of 2 cm is fully consistent with a survey of
long-term tide gauges around the Australian coast carried out recently by
the National Tidal Facility in Adelaide, which found a sea level rise rate
of only 0.3 mm/yr, equivalent to a sea level rise of 3cm over a century.
Even the current sea level in the inner cove of Port Arthur itself is lower
than that indicated by a tide gauge which the study claims existed there in
the early 1840s.

The 1888 measurement by Cmdr. Shortt suggests sea levels rose an incredible
44.5 - 34 = 10 cm in only 47 years, at a time of global cooling when quite
the opposite should occur. While the study dismissed the Cmdr. Shortt
measurement as inaccurate, with no clear explanation given for that view, it
is much more probable that the study simply got the original benchmark
height wrong and that the 1888 measurement by Cmdr. Shortt was sound.

Complicating the issue further is the possibility, expressed by Cmdr. Shortt
himself, that numerous earth tremors in the early 1880s, unprecedented
either before or since, may have uplifted the land significantly. Indeed,
this was his stated reason for making the measurement in the first place,
having received reports of just such an effect from islands in the Bass
Strait. Land uplift from the 1880s tremors would displace the benchmark
upwards from its original position if the benchmark had indeed been placed
at mean sea level as stated clearly by James Clark Ross.

In addition, modern tide gauges located at Hobart and Spring Bay on either
side of the Port Arthur site, on the same coast, show no sea level rise at
all since their installation during the 1980s.

The weight of physical and documentary evidence shows that sea level rise
around Tasmania, and indeed Australia as a whole, is only very slight, and
that this study is seriously in error. The reason may well be the
over-reliance on statistical probability modelling at the expense of
physical and documentary evidence.

John L. Daly, Tasmania, 25 Jan 2003

(A full report on the above issue will appear on this website on Sunday 2nd
February 2003)



>From Andrew Glikson <>

Dear Benny

Thank you for your reply (CCNet, 15.1.02) to my communication "The Lomborg
case, the Washington-based World Watch Institute's statement and scientific
ethics" (14.1.03).

For the editor of a web bulletin dedicated to alerting mankind against the
"doomsday asteroid" it is surprising you are so critical of scientists
pointing to environmental degradation, not least since the current rate of
species loss has been compared to the effect of a large asteroid impact.

You refer to "doom-laden scientific, climatological or environmental
prognostication". However, it is thanks to warning by scientists over
several decades, despite opposition by vested interests, which ensued in
limited reduction in the production of CFC gases and hopefully arrest of
ozone depletion. Individuals researchers may include pessimists, optimists
or in-between, but in the majority of cases, thanks to the scientific peer
review system, their reports and publications represent the best assessments
of current processes available to us.

Discussions are colored by economic interests and ideological value
judgements: Asteroid defense schemes can be expected to be welcome by the
aerospace industry. The climate change issue is hardly welcome by the fossil
fuel industries. Many natural scientists, including myself, develop a sense
of reverence toward 4 billion years of terrestrial evolution and are
concerned with the destructive effects of Homo Sapiens acting as if it is

What are needed are rigorous risk assessments. Authority on terrestrial
ecosystems resides in the life sciences - botany, zoology, soil science,
marine science. Unfortunately contributions in these fields are relatively
rare in CCNet. Skeptics exist in all fields, some still question evolution
and plate tectonics. Once a majority scientific view is formed, the onus is
on the skeptics to advance relevant scientific arguments, or else there
skepticism may merely betray lack of familiarity with relevant evidence and

In your reply (CCNet 15.1.03) you write: "Which brings me to Andrew's most
astonishing proclamation: "either the terrestrial forests, hydrosphere and
atmosphere are being severely degraded, or they are not, both can not be
true (CCNet 14.1.03)". Your point is not understood since, inherently, due
to flow mixing the global hydrospheric and atmospheric systems are
intimately intertwined, as exemplified by ozone depletion, greenhouse gases,
pollution and the relation between deforestation and salination.

You quote "... the same disparity between the ecological problems of poor
and underdeveloped countries (which are mainly due to poverty, corruption
and political mismanagement) and significant environmental improvements in
wealthy and technologically developed countries is evident with regards to
forests, waters and atmospheric pollution."  However, severe environmental
degradation is not unique to poor underdeveloped countries, as shown in
Australia - a modern country, where the continental forest coverage rate
declined from 15 to 7 percent, salination claims over 20 percent of arable
land, top soils are thinning, mid-US-like dust bowl-type wind erosion is
increasing, the Great Barrier Reef is under strain due to coral bleaching
with rising water temperatures and pollution.

Local reversals occur, such as green-leafing of suburban dwellings or desert
irrigation schemes, which hardly compensate for global deforestation (over
30% in the Amazon).

The unfortunate reality of global warming has been confirmed, among other,
by the American Geophysical Union Council, stating "Present understanding of
the Earth climate system provides a compelling basis for legitimate public
concern over future global and regional scale changes resulting from
increased concentrations of greenhouse gases..." (Eos, 1999, 80, p.454)" and
by the Australian CSIRO - assessments based on hard science.

The cold snaps highlighted in CCNet are not necessarily evidence for global
cooling but more likely the short term reversals predicted in studies of
global warming.

I agree it is nice to have the occasional light touch on heavy issues. On
the other hand, the selective use of humor to ridicule opposing views can
only discourage balanced debate. The story you quote of the professor and
the "end of the world" has no relevance. The labeling of opposed scientific
views as "witch hunts" or "Moscow show trials" is not even funny - the
difference between the expression of scientific views by a scientific
committee and a "show trial" is the difference between scientific freedom
and a state execution.

I am glad to note the extensive subscription to CCNet, thanks no doubt to
its wealth of information and your own splendid efforts. It does not follow
that readers necessarily subscribe to the particular editorial views
promoted through prioritization, selective pre-ambling of favored views and
derogatory labeling of opposed views - an approach which, in my view, is
inconsistent with the objective spirit of true science.

Yours Truly
Andrew Glikson



>From Max Wallis <>

Dear Benny,

Andrew Glikson argued in CCNet TERRA 4/2003 (15 January) for using the
scientific method to analyse Lomborg's work. 

Your own response (15 January) rightly pointed out that there's no (easy)
answer to certain questions, eg. are forests globally being severely
degraded. Agreement may be lacking on what is severe degradation, while
information may be inadequate or contested on the extent and health of

To most of us, this does not vitiate use of the scientific method, even if
the answer is not yet clear. Social scientists may point out the term
"severe degradation" is a social construct, conditioned by our existing
knowledge base and our ethical framework.  Judging the validity of multiple
answers depends on the interplay of scientific and cultural factors, so the
argument goes.

Danish economists who last week stood up for Lomborg (Environment Daily
1362, 14/01/03) challenged the Committee on Scientific Dishonesty to define
the "standards of good scientific practice" which Mr Lomborg is alleged to
have violated.  Economics professor Kjeld Mller Pedersen said:  "the
question in the social sciences is always whether such a standard exists. I
don't think it does."

However, the David Irving trial over "holocaust denial" did provide a test
last year for unremitting sceptics. Irving argued with skill that the
knowledge base (gas chambers, numbers of deaths etc.) of his opponents was
questionable, in order to make his own sceptical position seem tenable. But
Irving lost - the Court validated calling his writings "holocaust denial"
and, in effect, defined a standard of intellectual honesty.

A definition of good scientific practice would include more than
intellectual honesty - standards of record keeping and data reporting;
completeness (including referencing of opposing views) and
justifying generality, avoiding value-laden terms ('witch hunt') though not
excluding colourful wording where technically defined. One might include
ethical values, like respect for differing standpoints and cultural
sensitivities (don't use "Nazi" in the Israel-Palestine argument).  There's
no unique set, but such standards are included in various professional codes
of practice.

I can't myself see it's appropriate to apply the "scientific honesty" test
to Bjorn Lomborg, a non-scientist. Cavalier with scientific studies and
arguments he may be, as in the debate in Scientific American, but his
critics have to re-frame their charges, if any such are warranted when we
uphold intellectual diversity as well as intellectual honesty.

But Benny, you didn't complete your lengthy response to Andrew Glikson. I
support him in upholding the scientific method and testing Lomborg's
arguments by it. Are you with the extreme cultural relativists, who maintain
there are no standards, but only tests of internal consistency and power of

Max Wallis
23 Janaury 2003
Max Wallis
Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology tel. 029 2087 6436      
2 North Road       
Cardiff University CF10 2DY              


>From Nathalie Bugeaud <>

just a short question. since the short cold spell we have now balming warm
weather here in France
in the middle of January 15-18 degrees, unusual for January. why don't you
mention that? are you paid by American oil companies?

Nathalie Bugeaud MD
Hospital Deux-Svre, FRANCE


>From Benny J Peiser <>

Since 1997, CCNet has been one of the leading scientific networks which
focuses on all aspects of what is generally called "neo-catastrophism".
While the hazard due to comets and asteroids has been the main focal point
of this network, CCNet has addressed other research areas and questions
regarding catastrophic disruptions of humand and societal evolution. I doubt
whether there is any other scholarly forum that is as familiar and
up-to-date with the research on natural catastrophes, abrupt environmental
events and civilisation collapse during the Holocene.

What we have learned from these studies and debates is that each and every
one of the past breakdowns of societies were mainly prompted by natural
causes, in particular cooling events and droughts. Warming periods, on the
other hand, have predominantly coincided with historical periods of economic
progress, technological advancement and social improvement.

Equally important, research has shown that natural disasters have always
been blamed on humans, in particular on religious or political enemies,
often leading to violent upheavals and bloody revolutions. As I have pointed
out on a number of occasions, there is a strong historical link between
climatic and environmental stress situations and organised witch-hunts and
political rioting.

There can be no doubt about the reality of environmental degradation in many
parts of the world. However, it is worth remembering that this process has
been ongoing throughout history. Besides, we can see clear signs of a
reversal in many parts of the developed world where environmental conditions
in many areas (such as sanitation, drinking water, air pollution,
reforestation, etc.) have improved significantly over the last two decades.
Evidently, these counter-measures were stimulated by research findings;
however, they could only be implemented as a result of surplus capital
accumulated by the open societies of the free world.

Andrew Glikson quite rightly argues that "once a majority scientific view is
formed, the onus is on the skeptics to advance relevant scientific
arguments." In the context of climate catastrophism, this is exactly what
CCNet has been trying to do. Given the considerable complexity of the
terrestrial climate and the sun-earth system, I believe it is reasonable to
heed the caution of those scientists who argue that we are far from
understanding (let alone regulating) the basic dynamics of climate change.

After all, we do not know why neither the satellite nor the weather-balloon
temperature records show any warming from 1979 to the present. The
contrasting surface temperature records which do show a slight warming trend
fail to give any indication whether this trend is due to the so-called
greenhouse effect or natural climate variation - or both. And how do we
explain the cooling trend from 1930 to 1979? In short, the controversy is
not about "the scientific method" but its (current) inability to fully
explain  the complexities of - let alone predict - climate variability. As
long as we are unable to explain the evident inconsistencies that fly in the
face of climate alarmism, attempts to associate scientific scepticism with
Holocaust denial can only be regarded as political incitement. They don't
deserve to be taken seriously.

Benny Peiser

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