CCNet, 30/2003 -  14 March 2003

"For years, the American space agency NASA has relied on amateur
astronomers to search for asteroids - huge chunks of space rock that
may be on a collision course with the planet Earth. Many professional
telescopes are well suited to scanning large portions of the sky and
picking out new asteroids. But hundreds of amateur observatories around the
globe use their narrower telescopes to zero in on the new discoveries,
and track their progress through space."
--Curt Nickisch, VOANews, 12 March 2003

"A study of southern Caribbean sediments suggests that a
century-long dry trend may have been the killing blow in the demise
of the Mayan civilization that once built pyramids and elaborate cities in
Mexico. Konrad A. Hughen, a geochemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic
Institution, said sediments from the Cariaco Basin in northern Venezuela
clearly record a long dry siege that struck the entire Caribbean
starting in about the seventh century and lasting more than 100
--Paul Recer, associated Press

    MSNBC, 14 March 2003

    CCNet, 18 May 2001

    BBCi Ancient History

    VOANews, 12 March 2003

    ESA, 12 March 2003

    David Tholen <tholen@IfA.Hawaii.Edu>

    Andy Smith <>

    E.P. Grondine <>

    The New York Times, 14 March 2003


>From MSNBC, 14 March 2003

WASHINGTON, March 13 -  A study of southern Caribbean sediments suggests
that a century-long dry trend may have been the killing blow in the demise
of the Mayan civilization that once built pyramids and elaborate cities in
KONRAD A. HUGHEN, a geochemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution,
said sediments from the Cariaco Basin in northern Venezuela clearly record a
long dry siege that struck the entire Caribbean starting in about the
seventh century and lasting more than 100 years.

Within this dry period, said Hughen, there were years of virtually no
rainfall. It was in those periods of extra dryness, he said, that the Mayan
civilization went through a series of collapses before its final demise.
Hughen is co-author of a study appearing Friday in the journal Science.

The Cariaco Basin is on the southern Caribbean; the Maya lived for about a
thousand years on the Yucatan, now part of Mexico, on the northwestern edge
of the Caribbean. Hughen said both areas share the same climate, with a wet
season and a dry season, so the dry trend detected in the Cariaco Basin
sediments is thought to reflect the same climate experienced on the Yucatan.

Hughen said the Maya flourished in what is known as the pre-classic period
before 700 A.D., building cities and elaborate irrigation systems to support
a population that soared above a million. The civilization collapsed and
many of the sites were abandoned early in the 800s. They were later
reoccupied for the Mayan classic period, only to collapse again, with some
cities deserted in 860 and others in 910.

"Those abandonments occur synchronously with the timing of the droughts in
our record (from the sediments), suggesting the droughts were causing those
events," said Hughen.  
The sediment records show that the gradual drying started about 1,200 years
ago, but there was still enough rain for the Maya to flourish.

"They were still getting rain, but clearly it was less than their
grandparents did," said Hughen. "Then, all of a sudden, there were periods
of nine, three and six years when there were very dry conditions."

He said the populations were already stressed by a trend of sparse rainfall
and the "exceptionally severe" periods were enough to cause the collapses.

"A severe event didn't have to be long" to force the Mayans to abandon some
sites, said Hughen. "Each one of those dry events resulted in the collapse
of a certain portion of the Mayan population."

A severe dry spell in 910, he said, "was the last straw."

Mayan communities in the southern and central lowlands collapsed first,
perhaps because they relied more heavily on rainfall for their water needs.
In fact, the Mayan civilization's elaborate reservoirs and irrigation
systems may have been designed in the first place to compensate for a dearth
of ground water sources.

The communities in the northern highlands lasted for another century before
the final collapse, Hughen noted.

"The northern areas had access to more ground water resources," he said.
"They were able to weather the first and second dry periods, but not the

T. Patrick Culbert, a professor emeritus at the University of Arizona and a
noted authority on the Mayan culture, said the climate study offers a
plausible explanation of what happened to the Maya.

"They were so vulnerable that anything could have knocked them over," said
Culbert. "If there were these severe droughts, it would have been a disaster
for them."

Takeshi Inomata, an associate professor at the University of Arizona who
studies early American civilizations, said the study by Hughen and his
colleagues supports other studies linking climate to the Mayan collapse.
There could have been other contributing causes, he said.

"The general climate problems may have contributed to the Mayan collapse,
but that isn't all that we need to consider," Inomata said. "It may have
been more complex than that."

Copyright 2003, MSNBC       


>From CCNet, 18 May 2001

News & Public Affairs
University of Florida

Contact Information:
Mark Brenner, (352) 392-2231,

Writer: Aaron Hoover,

Sources: David Hodell, (352) 219-8873,

May 17, 2001


GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Maya were talented astronomers, religiously intense
in their observations of the sun, moon and planets. Now, new research shows
something in the heavens may have influenced their culture and ultimately
helped bring about their demise.

In an article set to appear in Friday's issue of the journal Science, a team
of researchers led by a University of Florida geologist reports finding that
the Yucatan Peninsula, seat of the ancient Maya civilization, was buffeted
by recurrent droughts. More importantly, the research shows, the droughts --
one of which is thought to have contributed to the collapse of the Maya
civilization -- appear to have been caused by a cyclical brightening of the

"It looks like changes in the sun's energy output are having a direct effect
on the climate of the Yucatan and causing the recurrence of drought, which
is in turn influencing the Maya evolution," said David Hodell, a UF
professor of geology and the paper's lead author.

In 1995, Hodell and two colleagues at UF published results in the journal
Nature suggesting that the ninth-century collapse of the Maya civilization
may have been influenced by a severe drought that lasted for more than 150
years. The paper, co-authored by Mark Brenner, a UF assistant professor of
geology and director of UF's Land Use and Environmental Change Institute,
and Jason Curtis, a UF geology researcher, was based on analysis of a
sediment "core" from Lake Chichancanab on the north central Yucatan
Peninsula in Mexico.

Cores are samples of lake sediment retrieved by driving a hollow tube into
the lake bottom. The sediments are deposited layer by layer, like a wedding
cake, with the oldest layer at the bottom. Such cores provide a timeline
that allows researchers to obtain a continuous record of changes in climate,
vegetation and land use.

For the latest research, Hodell, Brenner and Curtis returned to the lake and
collected a new series of cores. The researchers discovered layers of
calcium sulfate, or gypsum, concentrated at certain levels in the cores.
Lake Chichancanab's water is nearly saturated with gypsum. During dry
periods, lake water evaporates and the gypsum falls to the lake bottom. The
layers therefore represent drought episodes. The researchers found the
recurrence of the deposits is remarkably cyclical, occurring every 208
years, although they varied in intensity.

The 208-year cycle caught the researchers' attention because it is nearly
identical to a known 206-year cycle in solar intensity, Hodell said. As part
of that cycle, the sun is most intense every 206 years, something that can
be tracked through measuring the production of certain radioactive
substances such as carbon-14. The researchers found the drought episodes
occurred during the most intense part of the sun's cycle.

Not only that, the researchers found the droughts occurred at times when
archeological evidence reflects downturns in the Maya culture, including the
900 A.D. collapse. Such evidence includes abandonment of cities or slowing
of building and carving activity.

As Hodell said, the energy received by the Earth at the peak of the solar
cycle increases less than one-tenth of 1 percent, so it's likely that some
mechanism in the climate is amplifying the impact in the Yucatan.

Archaeologists know the Maya were capable of precisely measuring the
movements of the sun, moon and planets, including Venus. Hodell said he is
unaware, however, of any evidence the Maya knew about the bicentenary cycle
that ultimately may have played a role in their downfall. "It's ironic that
a culture so obsessed with keeping track of celestial movements may have met
their demise because of a 206-year cycle," he said.

The cycle continues to the present, which happens to fall into about the
middle of the 206-year period, Hodell said. Even a severe drought today,
however, isn't likely to have the same impact on the culture as in ancient
times. Brenner noted North Korea currently is suffering an extreme drought,
but the country has the benefit of international aid.

"Nobody stepped in to help the Maya out," he said, "and as conditions
worsened, it probably created a lot of stress among various Maya cities
competing for resources."

Thomas Guilderson, of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, assisted
the UF scientists in the research, which was funded by the National Science
Foundation Paleoclimate Program. The cores were collected for a BBC program
on climate and Maya culture collapse.


>From BBCi Ancient History

By Jessica Cecil
Mayan ruins

The Mayan ruins of Tikal are hidden deep in the rainforests of Guatemala.
>From the air only a handful of temples and palaces peek through the canopy.
The stone carvings are weather-beaten. Huge plazas are covered in moss and
giant reservoirs are engulfed by jungle. The only inhabitants are wild
animals and birds.

But 1,200 years ago, Tikal was one of the major cities of the vast and
magnificent Maya civilisation that stretched across much of what is now
southern Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. Tikal was home to perhaps 100,000
people. Thatched farmsteads and fields would have stretched as far as the
eye could see.

The Maya were so stable and established they even had a word for a 400-year
time period.  

The Maya thrived for nearly 2,000 years. Without the use of the cartwheel or
metal tools, they built massive stone structures. They were accomplished
scientists. They tracked a solar year of 365 days and one of the few
surviving ancient Maya books contains tables of eclipses. From
observatories, like the one at Chichen Itza, they tracked the progress of
the war star, Venus.

They developed their own mathematics, using a base number of 20, and even
had a concept of zero. They also had their own system of writing. Their
civilisation was so stable and established, they even had a word for a
400-year time period.

Mayan society was vibrant, but it could also be brutal. It was strictly
hierarchical and deeply spiritual. Humans were sacrificed to appease the
gods. The elite also tortured themselves - male Maya rulers perforated the
foreskins of their penises and the women their tongues, apparently in the
hope of providing nourishment for the gods who required human blood.

In the ninth century, the Maya world was turned upside down. Many of the
great centres like Tikal were deserted. The sacred temples and palaces
briefly became home to a few squatters, who left household rubbish in the
once pristine buildings. When they too left, Tikal was abandoned forever,
and the Mayan civilisation never recovered. Only a fraction of the Maya
people survived to face the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century.

For decades, archaeologists have been searching for an explanation of the
Maya collapse. Many theories have been put forward, ranging from warfare and
invasion to migration, disease and over-farming. Many think the truth may
lie with a combination of these and other factors.

But none of the conventional theories were good enough for Dick Gill. He
believed that what had devastated the Maya was drought. However, drought as
the only explanation of the Maya collapse was highly controversial.

Massive drought

Dick Gill was a most unusual person to put forward a bold new theory
explaining the collapse of Mayan civilisation. When he started his hunt for
clues, he was actually a banker.

His love affair with the Maya started back in 1968 when he visited Chichen
Itza in Southern Mexico while on holiday. The Mayan ruins, he says, really
touched him. He resolved to solve the riddle of the Maya collapse - but he
still had a banking career to pursue.

In the early 1980s, fate stepped in with a Texas banking crisis. The family
bank collapsed, and Gill was suddenly out of work and free to follow his
dream. He went to college to study anthropology and archaeology.

His realisation of what might have caused the Maya collapse came in a
brainwave - it was an explanation which didn't come from books and study,
but directly from his own childhood. Gill remembered the devastating
droughts in Texas in the 1950s, when farmland was parched and fires raged.
The hot, sunny days seemed interminable, and he was left with an emotional
understanding of the power of drought.  His work led him to a dramatic
conclusion - that the Maya civilisation consisted of millions of people who
had died very suddenly.  

He felt sure the Maya had faced a huge drought, but he had no evidence to
back up his theory - so he set out to search for clues. One of the first
people he turned to was archaeologist Dr Fred Valdez.

Valdez, from the University of Texas, worked deep in the jungles of Belize.
He counted Maya farmsteads in order to estimate the likely total population.
Fragments of pottery told him when the area was occupied and his work led
him to a dramatic conclusion - that the Maya civilisation consisted of
millions of people who had died very suddenly. Gill knew few factors could
account for this - but one of them was drought.

In Gill's eyes, this strengthened his theory, but he still needed direct
evidence. It was time to trawl the archives. National records held in Mexico
City revealed that, at the start of the 20th century, a drought in the Maya
region had lasted three years. Here was evidence that drought could, in
fact, occur in this region.

He then stumbled upon older, colonial records from the Spanish authorities
in the Yucatan province of Mexico, telling of repeated drought. "I found
this plea for help", he says. "The crops had been very bad in the year 1795
- they were running out of grain and they were afraid that the terrible
death they had seen so often in the past was going to repeat itself again,
so they asked for help."

Gill now had proof of devastating droughts in the past, but not in the key
ninth century. Then he discovered an extraordinary coincidence. He'd studied
hundreds of papers on meteorology before he stumbled on one entitled
"Dendrochronology, mass balance and glacier front fluctuations in northern

It had been extremely cold in northern Europe at just the time of the Maya
collapse, but what could possibly be the link? Gill went back to the
meteorological records, and found that one of the high pressure systems in
the north Atlantic had moved towards Central America at the start of the
20th century. This was a time of both drought in the Maya areas and extreme
cold in northern Europe.

Conclusive proof

Though the circumstantial evidence was growing stronger, Gill still didn't
have direct proof of devastating drought in the Maya areas in the ninth
century. He finally got that evidence when a team from the University of
Florida visited Lake Chichancanab in Mexico's Yucatan region.

The team was interested in past climates and measured them by taking cores
of mud from the bottom of the lake. The mud had built up over thousands of
years - the deeper the mud, the older the shells and seeds it contained.
The scientists discovered that the ninth century had been the driest time in
the region in 7,000 years.  

Back at their labs in Gainesville, they looked at tiny shells from each part
of the core, and in particular the two types of oxygen locked in them -
heavy and light.

The surfaces of shells from times of high rainfall are dominated by light
oxygen. More of the heavy oxygen means the water in the lake was evaporating
at that time. A core from the ninth century showed an exceptional surge of
heavy oxygen, indicating it was the driest time in 7,000 years.

Here at last was the clinching evidence Gill had been searching for -
exceptional drought at the time of the Maya collapse. His quest was over,
but it had been an emotional journey of discovery.

"There's a certain satisfaction that I have finally understood what happened
to the Maya, but as a human being it's awful to think about what happened",
he says.

Copyright 2003, BBCi


>From VOANews, 12 March 2003

Curt Nickisch
Quinn, South Dakota

For years, the American space agency NASA has relied on amateur astronomers
to search for asteroids - huge chunks of space rock that may be on a
collision course with the planet Earth. Many professional telescopes are
well suited to scanning large portions of the sky and picking out new
asteroids. But hundreds of amateur observatories around the globe use their
narrower telescopes to zero in on the new discoveries, and track their
progress through space. From the Great Plains state of South Dakota, Curt
Nickisch recently joined one such amateur astronomer on the hunt.

Western South Dakota is perhaps better known for paleontology than
astronomy. It's one of the world hotspots for dinosaur fossils. Some
scientists believe the dinosaurs died out suddenly 65 million years ago when
a colossal asteroid smashed into the Earth, drastically changing the
climate. It's here, at the edge of rugged outcroppings called the South
Dakota Badlands, that Ron Dyvig is searching for the next killer asteroid.

Mr. Dyvig retired from his job at a used car lot five years ago to build
this observatory at an abandoned medical building in the town of Quinn. The
town's 44 residents were happy to find a use for the building, and hoped the
Badlands Observatory would put Quinn on the map. With plywood and planks,
Ron Dyvig and a few friends constructed the geometric dome that caps the
white cement building like a tank turret. A hand-crank opens the dome to the
night sky.

"It's very good to have the temperature inside the same as the outdoor
temperature," explains Mr. Dyvig, "because the difference in temperature
between the air column in front of the telescope and outside can create
thermal waves that basically blur the image. That's what causes stars to
twinkle at night and it's great for romance, but it's not good for

At first, Mr. Dyvig had to brave the cold weather here to make observations.
Now he can direct the four-meter-long telescope with computers from a heated
control room downstairs. Motors turn the dome to keep the opening in front
of the telescope as it tracks across the sky.

"These motors actually came from a vending company. I believe that they're
motors that were originally used out of Coke machines. They're geared down
and they're very powerful at slow RPMs," he told a visitor, referring to
revolutions per minute.

It took three years and $25,000 to build what now is a culmination of a
lifelong love of astronomy. Mr. Dyvig says he got hooked when spotting the
planet Mars with the naked eye on a Boy Scout camping trip 50 years ago. Now
the telescope he's built detects objects more than a million times fainter
than Mars. That makes the Badlands Observatory particularly good at
detecting rock masses careening through the solar system, asteroids whose
orbits might one day crash them into the Earth.

These guys are really having a lot of fun," says Steve Chesley, a senior
engineer at a NASA center in Pasadena, California. It's his job to analyze
observations from the hundreds of amateur astronomers all around the world
who spot and track such asteroids. "They like to observe. They like to go
without sleep. And instead of just pointing their telescopes at galaxies and
planets and saying 'ooh, ah, look at that,' they are pointing them at
asteroids and doing something that's really valuable."

It's easier to spot the asteroids moving at the threshold of visibility when
the sky is extremely dark. That's why Ron Dyvig chose the South Dakota
Badlands, one of the darkest areas in the United States. He even convinced
the town council to install hoods over the streetlights in Quinn, and a
switch on the one closest to the observatory. Before looking for asteroids
each night, he trudges through the snow to switch the streetlamp off.

On a dark night like this two years ago, Mr. Dyvig re-discovered an asteroid
heading towards Earth that was first observed briefly back in 1987 before
disappearing from view. That sighting helped other astronomers plot its
course and determine that it would pass Earth at a safe distance. He's also
discovered 27 asteroids that orbit beyond Mars. One of them was officially
named after South Dakota.

Tonight, however, Ron Dyvig is getting a break from his self-appointed task.
Clouds passing over the Badlands prevent him from detecting any asteroids
moving through the starry heavens. So he reluctantly directs the computer to
steer his telescope back into its stow position and looks forward to another
night, and another hunt for faint, but potentially dangerous asteroids.

Copyright 2003, VOANews


>From ESA, 12 March 2003

Using the Hubble Space Telescope, for the first time, astronomers have
observed the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet evaporating off into space.
Much of this planet may eventually disappear, leaving only a dense core. The
planet is a type of extrasolar planet known as a 'hot Jupiter'. These giant,
gaseous planets orbit their stars very closely, drawn to them like moths to
a flame.

The scorched planet called HD 209458b orbits 'only' 7 million kilometres
from its yellow Sun-like star. By comparison, Jupiter, the closest gas giant
in our Solar System, orbits 780 million kilometres from our Sun. The
NASA/ESA Hubble Space telescope observations reveal a hot and puffed-up
evaporating hydrogen atmosphere surrounding the planet. This huge envelope
of hydrogen resembles a comet with a tail trailing behind the planet. The
planet circles the parent star in a tight 3.5-day orbit. Earth also has an
extended atmosphere of escaping hydrogen gas, but the loss rate is much

A mainly European team led by Alfred Vidal-Madjar (Institut d'Astrophysique
de Paris, CNRS, France) is reporting this discovery in the March 13 NATURE
Magazine. "We were astonished to see that the hydrogen atmosphere of this
planet extends over 200 000 kilometres," says Vidal-Madjar.

Studying extrasolar planets, especially if they are very close to their
parent stars, is not very easy because the starlight is usually too
blinding. The planet was also too close to the star for Hubble to photograph
directly in this case. However, astronomers could observe the planet
indirectly since it blocks light from a small part of the star during
transits across the disk of the star, thereby dimming it slightly. Light
passing through the atmosphere around the planet is scattered and acquires a
signature from the atmosphere. In a similar way, the Sun's light is reddened
as it passes obliquely through the Earth's atmosphere at sunset. Astronomers
used Hubble's Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) to measure how
much of the planet's atmosphere filters light from the star. They saw a
startling drop in the star's hydrogen emission. A huge, puffed-up atmosphere
can best explain this result.

What is causing the atmosphere to escape? The planet's outer atmosphere is
extended and heated so much by the nearby star that it starts to escape the
planet's gravity. Hydrogen boils off in the planet's upper atmosphere under
the searing heat from the star. "The atmosphere is heated, the hydrogen
escapes the planet's gravitational pull and is pushed away by the starlight,
fanning out in a large tail behind the planet - like that of a comet," says
Alain Lecavelier des Etangs working at the Institut d'Astrophysique de
Paris, CNRS, France. Astronomers estimate the amount of hydrogen gas
escaping HD 209458b to be at least 10 000 tonnes per second, but possibly
much more. The planet may therefore already have lost quite a lot of its

HD 209458b belongs to a type of extrasolar planet known as 'hot Jupiters'.
These planets orbit precariously close to their stars. They are giant,
gaseous planets that must have formed in the cold outer reaches of the star
system and then spiralled into their close orbits. This new discovery might
help explain why 'hot Jupiters' so often orbit a few million kilometres from
their parent stars. They are not usually found much closer than 7 million
kilometres, as is the case for HD 209458b. Currently, the current closest
distance is 5.7 million kilometres. Hot Jupiters have orbits that are as
brief as 3 days, but not shorter. Perhaps the evaporation of the atmosphere
plays a role in setting an inner boundary for orbits of hot Jupiters.

Notes for editors

HD 209458b has a diameter 1.3 times that of Jupiter, and two-thirds the
mass. Its orbit is one-eighth the size of Mercury's orbit around the Sun.
The parent star is similar to our Sun and lies 150 light-years from Earth.
It is visible with binoculars as a seventh magnitude star in the
constellation of Pegasus. In 1999, this star suddenly entered the
astronomical Hall of Fame when the extrasolar planet HD 209458b passed in
front of it and partly eclipsed it. This was the first confirmed transiting
extrasolar planet ever discovered. In 2001, Hubble detected the element
sodium in the lower part of HD 209458b's atmosphere, the first signature of
an atmosphere on any extrasolar planet.

The team is composed of A. Vidal-Madjar, lead author of the discovery,
(Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, CNRS, France) A. Lecavelier des Etangs,
J.-M. Dsert (Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, CNRS, France), G. Ballester
(University of Arizona, United States), R. Ferlet and G. Hbrard (Institut
d'Astrophysique de Paris, France), and M. Mayor (Geneve Observatory,
Switzerland). They observed three transits of the planet in front of the
star with Hubble. The observations of the atomic hydrogen envelope were made
in ultraviolet (Lyman-alpha) light, using Hubble's spectrograph STIS.
Hubble's position above the atmosphere makes it the only telescope currently
that can perform these types of ultraviolet studies.

For broadcasters, computer animations of the discovery plus general Hubble
Space Telescope background footage is available from the ESA Television
Service, see

The search and the study of extrasolar planets is the aim of several of
ESA's scientific missions. Eddington, for instance, due for launch in 2007,
will discover large numbers of transiting planets of all types, including
many transiting 'hot Jupiters' similar to HD 209458b. These will be ideal
targets for the same type of detailed follow-up studies with large space-
and ground-based telescopes.

This material is being co-released with NASA/STScI/OPO.

Image credit: European Space Agency, Alfred Vidal-Madjar (Institut
d'Astrophysique de Paris, CNRS, France) and NASA.

For more information, please contact:

ESA Communication Department
Media Relations Office, Paris, France
Tel: +33 (0)1 5369 7155
Fax: +33 (0)1 5369 7690

Alfred Vidal-Madjar
Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris (IAP/CNRS)
Paris, France
Tel: +33 (0)1 4432 8073

Lars Lindberg Christensen
Hubble European Space Agency Information Centre
Garching, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6306 (089 within Germany)
Cellular (24 hr): +49 173 3872 621 (0173 within Germany)

Ray Villard
Space Telescope Science Institute
Baltimore, United States
Tel: +1 410 338 4514



>From David Tholen <tholen@IfA.Hawaii.Edu>

> This policy, however, was not followed when 2002 NT7 went PS-positive last
> year without an IAU statement. News entities worldwide were left to each
> sort out the facts on their own, and found themselves collectively blasted
> for their efforts.


There is a BIG difference between "secrecy" and making sure you have all
your ducks in order before going public. Astronomers have been accused of
irresponsibility by making public statements about impact probabilities that
went away only a day later. It is hypocritical for people to complain about
the premature release of information, and then turn around and
complain of "secrecy" if information isn't released prematurely. They can't
have it both ways.

My own advice has been and continues to be that press releases about the
latest virtual impactor are unnecessary while the object is still
observable, simply because the short-term potential for new observations
results in the short-term potential for revised impact probabilities. But we
can talk about the status of an ongoing investigation freely and openly with
anyone who asks about it without putting out an official IAU-sanctioned
press release. How can that be construed as "secrecy"?  Note that this
advice is completely independent of the object's value on either the Torino
or Palermo scale.

Now, with regard to 2002 NT7, I thought I had convinced you to adopt the "no
publicity while an object is still observable" approach, but that didn't
stop you from publicizing the fact that 2002 NT7 "went PS-positive". But is
it "PS-positive" now? Is it even on either the Pisa or JPL risk pages? The
answer is "no" to both questions. The only way those facts could be sorted
out was with additional time to make the observations, and the object was
indeed still observable.  Who would like to accept responsibility for making
much ado about nothing?  Can't blame the IAU, because as you noted, the IAU
made no statement, which in my opinion was the right decision, given the
fact that 2002 NT7 is not a hazardous object. If the various news entities,
including yourself, feel "blasted" for their efforts, it's richly deserved.

MODERATOR'S NOTE: What would, indeed, what should we do the next time we
discover an asteroid with a positive Palermo Scale impact probability? David
Tholen's comments in today's CCNet seem to suggest that we still haven't
learned the lessons from the 2002 NT7 scare.

Let me explain: The real dichotomy is not between "secrecy" and "publicity".
It is much more complicated than that. And unless we grasp the systematic
difficulties in the communication of impact risk data, I fear we may repeat
past mistakes.

1. To begin with, the current "secrecy" period of 72 hours during which "the
NEO Technical Review Committee shall review the work for technical accuracy"
of impact risk calculations seems to be outmoded. Experience has shown that
there is generally excellent agreement between JPL's Sentry and Pisa
University's NEODyS impact risk computation. In other words, it is not so
much the *technical* details that are in need of review but rather the
appropriate forms of communicating these details.

2. When 2002 NT7 reached a positive Palermo Scale value, it consequently
triggered an inquiry as to whether or not a technical review by the IAU
WGNEO was warranted. That none was necessary was evident to me the moment I
noticed the hushed publication of 2002 NT7 on the NEODyS and SENTRY impact
risk websites. As I pointed out at the time (CCNet, 23 July 2002): "It seems
obvious to me and other critics that it is far too impractical to submit
every positive Palermo Scale object for review. After all, neither the
computers at NEODyS nor those used by JPL have ever experienced a problem
with the calculation of impact probabilities. The pragmatic approach of
turning a blind eye to the IAU procedures (if that's what happened over the
weekend) seems sensible in the case of 2002 NT7 given that it is almost
certain that further observations of this 2km asteroid will eliminate any
remaining impact threats currently listed."

3. To publish extraordinary impact risk data without any explicatory and
advice-giving information (as happened with 2002 NT7) can sometimes be just
as detrimental as an inadequately worded or badly timed announcement (as
happened with 2000 SG344 and other cases). It was certainly a mistake not to
issue clear guidance. The IAU WGNEO failed to appreciate that the
publication of exceptional impact risk calculations without any explanation
whatever - and against a generally expected statement - was bound to invite

4. Given that neither an official IAU statement nor a taciturn publication
is appropriate in cases of unusual impact risk, perhaps it is prudent to
review the recommendation I made some months before the 2002 NT7 affair. In
my presentation at the International Workshop On Managing Global-Scale
Disasters (Irvine, California, 12 April 2002), I anticipated the 2002 NT7
scenario and suggested the following:
"As far as the issue of public warnings during these phases are concerned, I
will propose to divide the impact warning system into five separate warning
phases. Once it is understood that any predicted impact will advance in this
way, although not necessarily going through all the phases, it will become
obvious that each of these phases require a completely different approach to
publicity and information policies.

* The low probability phase - takes effect with any object detected that has
an impact probability below 0 on the Palermo Scale. Most objects listed on
the "impact risk pages" managed by NEODyS and JPL fall into this category.
No specific public information is required for such an event.

* The moderate probability phase - gets underway with the detection of an
object that has an impact probability above 0 on the Palermo Scale. It would
be sensible to post clarifying information on the various internet "risk
pages." However, at this stage it would be important to emphasise that the
impact risk will be removed, in all likelihood, as a result of additional
observational data. Accordingly, there is no need for any official press
release during this phase."

5. In short, David Tholen's "no publicity while an object is still
observable" approach doesn't work for "virtual impactors" that *are*
published in a noteworthy manner due to their extraordinary impact risk
probability and therefore draw public attention. While I share David's
standpoint that no IAU press release is required, I strongly suggest that
explicatory information is provided on the various websites that publish
significant impact risk calculations.

Benny Peiser


>From Andy Smith <>

Hello Benny and CCNet,

We enjoyed the discussion, in your newsletter, today, regarding the need for
openness and candor, as we address planetary NEO defense. The note from
Brian Marsden was especially welcomed because he has contributed so much to
the maintenance of the quality of our valuable data center and he has
stood...sometimes alone...for openness.

We all raise our glasses to Brian, to 1997 XF11 and to all of those who help
him and support his work, in the IAU and the other distinguished
institutions involved. We also urge those involved to  see that this vital
function is adequately supported and able to upgrade it's
keep pace with the increasing and encouraging data flow.

Our Request

We also have one request for Brian and the MPC. We think the threshold of
Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHA) should be lowered to include objects
smaller than absolute magnitude (V) 22. We would like to include everything
down to the Tunguska/Arizona/Mt.St. Helens level (objects in the 50 meter
wide range, with destructive energy levels near the equivalent of 10
megatons (million tons) of TNT.

We feel the detonation of 10 million tons of TNT, in a single event, is
certainly potentially hazardous and could make anyone's, or any city's, or
any country's, or any continent's day.

The V22 object is in the 1,000 megaton range...give or take a few hundred
megatons. It is a flying rock-bomb that is about 200 meters wide....again a
mighty show-stopper. We appreciate the fact that NEODys includes the
smaller...but still extremely devastating objects...on it's lists and we
urge the MPC to do the same.

Andy Smith/IPPA/


>From E.P. Grondine <>

Hello Benny -

I have been taking a look at the abstracts for the Lunar and Planetary
Institute's annual meeting, and it contains very good news for the NEO

For the first time in years there seems to have been adequate attention paid
to impact science in setting out the meeting's agenda.  Importantly, significant progress in the
development of crater counting is reported on, that data which is so vitally important in getting
a firm handle on the risk to us all arising from small to medium impacts.

There are so many fine papers on impact science being presented at this
meeting that it will take many hours to read through them all, but a few of the studies appear to me
to be of especially important notice, and hence this note.

First off, new crater counts are available for some selected sample areas of

While small to medium impacts were recovered, unfortunately the crater
counts still differ by nearly an order of magnitude across the study's samples.  Also, as we also
have no idea as to when each of the "pristine surfaces" underlying each of the study's samples
was formed, it will be very difficult to convert these raw crater counts into impact risk
estimates for the Earth over time.

But there's more good news, as the timeline for all Martian processes,
including the formation of these pristine surfaces, is being refined, as work is proceeding on large
craters on Mars and Mars' morphological history:

This particular work is also important for its development of techniques for
identifying buried craters by the use of elevation data and other techniques.

Work is also proceeding on estimating the effects of Mars' "atmosphere" on
impact events, and this is important as it is unlikely that in the past Mars' atmosphere was
always the near vacuum it is today:

VERY IMPORTANTLY, work on the software for automated crater counting is

(And a big hello to Clark Chapman and the team at SWRI - may your funding
flow like the streams of the valley...)

This software can be applied not only to images of the surface of Mars, but
also to the images of the surfaces of any body within our Solar System.  In the future, this
software will have to be run on other datasets, including not only the
excellent images of Jupiter's moons provided by the
Galileo team's excellent work, but also the new datasets formed of the moons
of Saturn by this team, with a special tip of the hat to Shenk:

As Saturn lies outside of Jupiter, work on the Saturn data set is of
particular importance in trying to get some kind of handle in separating out
the the risk of impact presented by comets from that presented by asteroids.

It is clear that one significant direction for improvement in these
automated crater counting programs is the use of elevation data in addition to surface imagery.
Determining crater volumes is going to be quite important in sorting out both impactors as well
underlying surface structures:

Along the well known lines of impact research, work on the geology of large
Earth impacts is also being presented, both at as well as in other
sessions, in particular one entire session devoted to Chixulub:

As to finding out more about the nature of the impactor which will hit us
next, there are many other papers, including those at this session devoted to asteroids and

Well Benny, that's it.  All in all, a pretty good haul.  If work continues
at this pace, then we should have a really good handle both on the impact risk as well as on what
we can do about it in about 2 to 3 years time.

As it has only taken about 5 years of nagging to get NASA to get to this
point, in my opinion the question now becomes, "What can we do now to insure
that this work is done?" Along these
lines, in closing I want to pass on the simple observation that given NASA's
fascination with water on Mars (some would say "fixation"), the easiest way to insure that
NASA funds impact work properly is simply to point out to them the fact that without reliable
impact estimates they have no way of dating any geological (marseological)
feature on Mars at all.

It will only be after NASA has those crater counts in hand, and have
debiased their other data for both the effects of atmospheric iron impact
dust, and the effects of the minimal atmospheric water on Mars, that they
will be able to make statements about Mars with any degree of reliability.
In the meantime, my advice is to always call attention to the unreliability
("BS") of the NASA's statements about Mars.  It works.

Yours in Science,


>From The New York Times, 14 March 2003


HANGHAI, March 11 - Even as Americans question the purpose of manned space
flight after the loss of the space shuttle Columbia, the world's newest
space power, China, is recreating the glory days of Apollo.

In October China plans to send its first astronauts into orbit on its
Shenzhou spacecraft. When their re-entry capsule parachutes back to the
grassy steppes of Inner Mongolia, the Chinese hope to have exceeded American
and Soviet records for the number of men, length of time in orbit and
complexity of operations on a maiden manned voyage in space. China plans to
have two or three astronauts aboard for the first flight, while American and
Russia put one man in orbit on their first tries.

But China's aims go far beyond low-earth orbit. Beijing is pursuing
multibillion-dollar programs to construct a space station and explore the
moon. Its scientists are energetically, if still dreamily, planning a colony
on Mars......

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CCNet TERRA 12/2003 -  13 March 2003

"Remember the number 1.85. It is the lodestar of a new demography
that will lead us to a different world. It should change the way we think
about economics, geopolitics, the environment, culture - and about
--Ben J. Wattenberg, International Herald Tribune, 12 March

"The latest news from the Canadian Ice Service is that Lake Superior
is now 100% frozen over. In addition, Lakes Huron and Erie are also
frozen tight. This is a rare and brief occurrence, the last events being in
1982 and 1994. The northern one third of Lake Michigan is also ice covered.
Further east, the Gulf of St. Lawrence has 25% more ice than normal, and
the Atlantic coast down to Halifax is covered with sea ice, a direct result
of the deep winter freeze that has gripped Eastern Canada. Toronto
recorded its coldest March day since 1868. This in spite of the `urban
heat island'. The city has now had 63 days in which temperatures failed
to rise above 0C, more than double the number last year. The occurrence
of such a record-breaking freeze in these greenhouse times must raise
questions as to the validity of the greenhouse warming theory,
particularly its assumed magnitude, since the theory suggests that the
greenhouse effect has its greatest leverage in the coldest places and
at the coldest times." 
--John Daly, 11 March 2003

    CNN, 12 March 2003

    BBC News Online, 11 March 2003

    Malta Weather, 1 March 2003

    Mark Hess <>

    Queens University, 6 March 2003

    CO2 Science Magazine, 12 March 2003

    CO2 Science Magazine, 12 March 2003

    CO2 Science Magazine, 12 March 2003

    Michael Paine <>

     Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen <>

     James Marusek <>

     Nick Sault <>

     Andrew Glikson <>

     Pavel Chichikov <>

     International Herald Tribune, 12 March 2003


>From CNN, 12 March 2003
TORONTO, Canada (Reuters) -- Three of North America's Great Lakes -- Lake
Huron, Lake Superior and Lake Erie -- have frozen over for the first time in
nearly a decade after icy weather lasting more than a month, experts at
Environment Canada said.

A month of temperatures below minus 20 Celsius (minus 4 Fahrenheit) has
caused an ice blanket averaging as much as 60 cm (24 inches) on the lakes,
creating problems for shipping companies and ferries.

"The large lakes freeze once every decade," said John Falkingham, chief of
forecast operations, at the Canadian Ice Service, which is part of
Environment Canada. "A sustained long, cold spell causes such an extensive
ice cover."

Fresh water source

The three lakes are part of the five Great Lakes, including Lake Michigan
and Lake Ontario, which constitute the largest fresh water system in the
world and represent 18 percent of global fresh water supply and 95 percent
of the U.S. supply, according to the Great Lakes Information Web site

Lake Superior, the largest of the five, is more than 82,000 square
kilometers (32,000 square miles) -- or almost the size of Austria.

Canadian Ice Service said satellite images showed that Superior and Huron
froze over for the first time this year on February 27, after record low
temperatures, without a hint of the warming trend that is normal for this
time of year.

That frigid weather continued into March. Last week, the temperature fell
below minus 25 Celsius (minus 13 Fahrenheit) in southern Ontario, the
coldest for March in a century, according to Environment Canada.

Expected to thaw in April

The cold weather has affected the St. Lawrence Seaway, which will now open
on March 31, almost a week behind schedule, said Ivan Lantz, director of
marine operations for the Shipping Federation of Canada, an organization of
shipowners and agents involved in the overseas trade.

"My estimate is that before the 15th of April, shipping is going to be very
difficult," Lantz said.

On Canada's east coast, ferry service between Sydney, Nova Scotia, and Port
aux Basques, Newfoundland, has also experienced difficulty because of ice. A
ferry spent part of Sunday caught in ice and had to be helped by an

Falkingham said the ice is expected to thaw by the end of April.

Copyright 2003 Reuters


>From BBC News Online, 11 March 2003

By Jonathan Amos
BBC News Online science staff 

While scientists report warming trends in many parts of the globe, it seems
this northern polar region has been moving in the other direction.

The finding is based on an analysis of historical meteorological data
collected by Danish researchers.

It shows that during the period 1958 to 2001 average temperatures in the
southern part of the island fell by 1.29 C. Sea-surface temperatures in the
Labrador Sea also fell.

Globally, temperatures have risen over this period (+0.53 C) and in
Greenland itself scientists have recently reported fairly dramatic thinning
of the island's ice sheet.

But Dr Edward Hanna, from the Institute of Marine Studies at the University
of Plymouth, UK, said that, as with all climate science, a fuller picture
emerges when long-term data are taken into account.

Climate phenomenon

"It really depends on what timescale you are looking at," he told BBC News

"Certainly in the late 1990s, there was some warming but that's just over a
very short period. There are a lot of natural cycles in regional climate and
if you take a longer trend over the last 40 or 50 years then there has been
a statistically significant cooling, particularly in south-western coastal

Greenland is central to climate studies

Dr Hanna together with Dr John Cappelen, of the Danish Meteorological
Institute in Copenhagen, present their Greenland analysis in the journal
Geophysical Review Letters.

It looks at data collected at eight stations. The cooling trend, they
believe, is associated with an increased phase of the North Atlantic
Oscillation (NAO) that has been observed over the past 35 years.

The NAO is a natural and recurring pressure pattern that has a profound
impact on the weather experienced in the North Atlantic region - at the
moment bringing milder, wetter winters to Northern Europe.

Hanna and Cappelen believe the NAO is likely linked with temperature
reductions along the Greenland coast and is responsible for slowing the
island's ice melting rate, in contrast to evidence of global warming.

Plane study

"And in fact, I've just been looking at the 2002 data and that appears to
show a tailing off of the recent warming," Dr Hanna said.

He added: "I think the message from all this is that global warming is not a
uniform process and you do get regional disparities."

Nasa measured the profile of the ice in the 90s

Greenland covers more than two million square kilometres and 85% of the
island is covered by ice, some of which is over three kilometres thick.

Concerns about warming in the region during the 1990s first came to the
public's attention with a US space agency (Nasa) study which flew aircraft
equipped with laser altimeters over the island to measure the profile of the

Nasa found the ice had lost up to five metres in thickness over a five-year
period. Other, more recent studies have continued to document a rapid thaw.

Greenland is important to climate studies because, having grounded ice, any
significant melting would raise sea levels - by 6-7 metres if it were all to

Copyright 2003, BBC


>From Malta Weather, 1 March 2003

February 2003 was an extremely cold month - no wonder we were shivering all
over! The mean monthly temperature was 10.8C, 3.0C less than last month's
mean temperature and 2.3C below the average for February.

The cold affected the maximum temperatures mostly as the mean monthly
maximum temperature for February 2003 of 13.4C was 2.9C below average!
This made February 2003 the coldest February ever since records at Balzan
began in 1987.
At Nadur, the maximum temperature never exceeded 15.0C during February. At
Balzan it did so on only two occasions. At Balzan the highest maximum
temperature throughout February 2003 was only of 15.8C. This is 4.2C below
average and was also a record low ever for February.

This cold snap was caused by the continued dominance of a vast high pressure
system centred over the Eastern European and Western Russia region. Air, in
an anticyclone, or high pressure system, circulates in a clockwise
direction. Thus, a very cold current has been directed along the Eastern
flank of this anticyclone towards the Eastern and Central Mediterranean for
the past month. That, in part, explains why we had such a prolonged spell of
cold weather.


>From Mark Hess <>

Krishna Ramanujan                         March 12, 2003
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.   
(Phone: 301/286-3026)

Release No: 03-27


A recent NASA-funded study has linked the 1991 eruption of the Mount
Pinatubo to a strengthening of a climate pattern called the Arctic
Oscillation. For two years following the volcanic eruption, the Arctic
Oscillation caused winter warming over land areas in the high and middle
latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, despite a cooling effect from volcanic
particles that blocked sunlight.

One mission of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise, which funded this research,
is to better understand how the Earth system responds to human and
naturally-induced changes, such as large volcanic eruptions.

"This study clarifies the effect of strong volcanic eruptions on climate,
important by itself, and helps to better predict possible weather and
short-term climate variations after strong volcanic eruptions," said Georgiy
Stenchikov, a researcher at Rutgers University's Department of Environmental
Sciences, New Brunswick, N.J., and lead author on a paper that appeared in a
recent issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research.

A positive phase of the Arctic Oscillation has slowly strengthened over the
few last decades and has been associated in prior research with observed
climate warming.

"The study has important implications to climate change because it provides
a test for mechanisms of the Arctic Oscillation," Stenchikov said.

A positive phase of the Arctic Oscillation is associated with strengthening
of winds circulating counterclockwise around the North Pole north of 55N,
that is, roughly in line with Moscow, Belfast, and Ketchikan, Alaska. In
winter these winds pull more warm air from oceans to continents causing
winter warming, and like a top spinning very fast, they hold a tight pattern
over the North Pole and keep frigid air from moving south.

According to this research, temperature changes caused by a radiative effect
of volcanic aerosols in two lower layers of the atmosphere, the troposphere
and the stratosphere, can lead to a positive Arctic Oscillation phase. The
troposphere extends from Earth's surface to an altitude of 7 miles in the
polar regions and expands to 13 miles in the tropics. The stratosphere is
the next layer up with the top at an altitude of about 30 miles.

The study uses a general circulation model developed at the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory to
simulate how volcanic aerosols following the Pinatubo eruption impacted the

In the troposphere, volcanic aerosols reflect solar radiation and cool the
Earth's surface, decreasing temperature differences between the equator and
the North Pole in the bottom atmospheric layer. These changes end up
inhibiting processes that slow counterclockwise winds that blow around the
North Pole mostly in the stratosphere. This in turn strengthens a positive
phase of the Arctic Oscillation.

In the stratosphere, volcanic aerosols absorb solar radiation, warm the
lower stratosphere (about 15 miles above the Earth's surface) and increase
stratospheric temperature differences between the equator and the North
Pole. These changes strengthen westerly winds in the lower
stratosphere and help to create a positive phase of the Arctic Oscillation.

In previous research, an observed positive Arctic Oscillation trend has been
attributed to greenhouse warming that led to an increase of stratospheric
temperature differences between equator and pole. But this study finds that
tropospheric temperature change in the course of climate warming may play an
even greater role.

In one type of computer simulation, Stenchikov and colleagues isolated the
contribution of a decreased temperature difference in the troposphere, and
found that it could produce a positive phase of the Arctic Oscillation by
itself. That's because greenhouse heating near the
North Pole melts reflective sea ice and snow, and reveals more water and
land surfaces. These surfaces absorb the Sun's rays and increasingly warm
the Earth's polar regions. Polar heating at the Earth's surface lessens the
temperature differences between the equator and North Pole in the
troposphere, which ultimately strengthens a positive phase of the Arctic

The study also finds that when aerosols get into the stratosphere, very
rapid reactions that destroy ozone (especially in high latitudes) take place
on the surfaces of aerosol particles. When ozone gets depleted, less UV
radiation is absorbed in the stratosphere. This cools the polar
stratosphere, and increases the stratospheric equator-to-pole temperature
difference, creating a positive phase of the Arctic Oscillation. Ozone data
were obtained from NASA's Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) satellite
and ozonesonde observations.

For more information and images, see:

TOMS satellite:

NOAA's SKYHI Atmospheric Computer Model:


>From Queens University, 6 March 2003

Changes in jet stream linked to Prairie drought

(Kingston - ON) New findings from Queen's researchers will help experts
better predict future drought patterns and water availability in the

An international research team including biologists Kathleen Laird and Brian
Cumming from the Queen's Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and
Research Laboratory (PEARL), and Peter Leavitt from the University of
Regina, investigated records of drought over the past 2000 years from lake
sediments in the northern Canadian prairie region (Manitoba to Alberta), as
well as from sites in North Dakota and Minnesota.

"Our results from the Canadian prairies show a previously unknown and abrupt
shift in climatic conditions around AD 700, while in the northern U.S.
prairies, the shift occurred 500 years later, at the onset of the Little Ice
Age in North America," says Dr. Laird.

Although the mechanisms behind these patterns are poorly understood, the
research team believes they are likely related to persistent changes in the
shape and location of the jet stream and associated storm tracks.

"Similar large-scale shifts today would prove to be a major challenge for
society, regardless of global warming - particularly since persistent
periods of drought in the past have coincided with stress and even collapse
of societies," Dr. Laird says.

The study is published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the
National Association of Sciences (PNAS). Also on the team are researchers
from the University of Nebraska, and NASA's National Space Science and
Technology Center in Huntsville, AL.

In a previous study led by Dr. Cumming that spanned the past 5500 years, a
similar large-scale change in climate was observed in British Columbia at AD
700. Additionally, they found that similar distinct shifts in climatic
conditions occurred roughly every 1200 years throughout the entire span.

"The persistence and abrupt nature of these millennial-scale events
represents a scale of climate change that isn't well understood yet," says
Dr. Cumming. "Consequently, these data have huge implications for future
climate predictions, and particularly drought assessment, on the prairies."

The current study was supported by a strategic grant from the Natural
Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Contact: Nancy Dorrance, Queen's News and Media Services, 613.533.2869 or
Nancy Marrello, Queen's News and Media Services, 613.533.6000, ext. 74040.


>From CO2 Science Magazine, 12 March 2003

Braithwaite, R.J. and Raper, S.C.B.  2002.  Glaciers and their contribution
to sea level change.  Physics and Chemistry of the Earth 27: 1445-1454.

In the words of the authors, "modern discussions of climate change always
give prominence to possible rises in sea level as a major impact, and the
spectre of those 'melting polar ice caps' is alive and well in the popular

What was done
To bring a bit of reality to the subject, Braithwaite and Raper review what
is known -- and what is *not* known -- about the contribution to sea level
rise from mountain glaciers and ice caps, excluding the Greenland and
Antarctic ice sheets.

What was learned
The authors begin their review of the subject by noting that "the
temperature sensitivity of sea level rise depends upon the global
distribution of glacier areas, the temperature sensitivity of glacier mass
balance in each region, the expected change of climate in each region, and
changes in glacier geometry resulting from climate change."  They end by
reporting that "none of these are particularly well known at present,"
concluding that "glacier areas, altitudes, shape characteristics and mass
balance sensitivity are still not known for many glacierized regions and
ways must be found to fill gaps."  With respect to problems standing in the
way of acquiring the needed knowledge, they estimate that satisfactory
solutions "will probably take a decade of work by many different groups in a
number of disciplines."

What it means
Reliable predictions of glacier behavior and sea level change over the next
hundred years would appear to be beyond our grasp at present.  Much more
research will be required to adequately resolve the issue.

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


>From CO2 Science Magazine, 12 March 2003

The advance/buildup or retreat/melting of glacial ice is often interpreted
as a sign of climate change; and teams of glaciologists have been working
for years to provide an assessment of the state of the world's many glaciers
as one of several approaches to deciphering global climate trends.  Although
this effort has only scratched the surface of what must ultimately be done,
climate alarmists have already rendered their verdict: there has been a
massive and widespread retreat of glaciers over the past century, which they
predict will only intensify under continued CO2-induced global warming.
This assessment, however, may be a bit premature.

The full story must begin with a clear recognition of just how few glacier
data exist.  Of the 160,000 glaciers presently in existence, only 67,000
(42%) have been inventoried to any degree (Kieffer et al., 2000); and there
are only a tad over 200 glaciers for which mass balance data exist for but a
single year (Braithwaite and Zhang, 2000).  When the length of record
increases to five years, this number drops to 115; and if both winter and
summer mass balances are required, the number drops to 79.  Furthermore, if
ten years of record is used as a cutoff, only 42 glaciers qualify.  This
lack of glacial data, in the words of Braithwaite and Zhang, highlights "one
of the most important problems for mass-balance glaciology" and demonstrates
the "sad fact that many glacierized regions of the world remain unsampled,
or only poorly sampled," suggesting that we really know very little about
the true state of most of the world's glaciers.

Recognizing the need for "more comprehensive, more homogeneous in detail and
quality" glacier data (Kieffer et al., 2000), we shift our attention to the
few glaciers for which such data exist.  During the 15th through 19th
centuries, widespread and major glacier advances occurred during a period of
colder global temperature known as the Little Ice Age (Broecker, 2001;
Grove, 2001).  Following the peak of Little Ice Age coldness, it should come
as no surprise that many records indicate widespread glacial retreat, as
temperatures began to rise in the mid- to late-1800s and many glaciers
returned to positions characteristic of pre-Little Ice Age times.  What
people may find surprising, however, is that in many instances the rate of
glacier retreat has not increased over the past 70 years; and in some cases
glacier mass balance has actually increased, all during a time when the
atmosphere experienced the bulk of the increase in its CO2 content.

In an analysis of Arctic glacier mass balance, for example, Dowdeswell et
al. (1997) found that of the 18 glaciers with the longest mass balance
histories, just over 80% displayed negative mass balances over their periods
of record.  Yet they additionally report that "almost 80% of the mass
balance time series also have a positive trend, toward a less negative mass
balance [our italics]."  Hence, although these Arctic glaciers continue to
lose mass, as they have probably done since the end of the Little Ice Age,
they are losing smaller amounts each year, in the mean, which is hardly what
one would expect in the face of what climate alarmists incorrectly call the
"unprecedented" warming of the latter part of the twentieth century.

Similar results have been reported by Braithwaite (2002), who reviewed and
analyzed mass balance measurements of 246 glaciers from around the world
that were made between 1946 and 1995.  According to Braithwaite, "there are
several regions with highly negative mass balances in agreement with a
public perception of 'the glaciers are melting,' but there are also regions
with positive balances."  Within Europe, for example, he notes that "Alpine
glaciers are generally shrinking, Scandinavian glaciers are growing, and
glaciers in the Caucasus are close to equilibrium for 1980-95."  And when
results for the whole world are combined for this most recent period of
time, Braithwaite notes that "there is no obvious common or global trend of
increasing glacier melt in recent years."

As for the glacier with the longest mass balance record of all, the
Storglaciaren in northern Sweden, for the first 15 years of its 50-year
record it exhibited a negative mass balance of little trend.  Thereafter,
however, its mass balance began to trend upward, actually becoming positive
over about the last decade (Braithwaite and Zhang, 2000).

So, the story glaciers have to tell us about past climate change is both far
from clear and far from being adequately resolved.  Stay tuned.

Braithwaite, R.J.  2002.  Glacier mass balance: the first 50 years of
international monitoring.  Progress in Physical Geography 26: 76-95.

Braithwaite, R.J. and Zhang, Y.  2000.  Relationships between interannual
variability of glacier mass balance and climate.  Journal of Glaciology 45:

Broecker, W.S.  2001.  Glaciers That Speak in Tongues and other tales of
global warming.  Natural History 110 (8): 60-69.

Dowdeswell, J.A., Hagen, J.O., Bjornsson, H., Glazovsky, A.F., Harrison,
W.D., Holmlund, P. Jania, J., Koerner, R.M., Lefauconnier, B., Ommanney,
C.S.L. and Thomas, R.H.  1997.  The mass balance of circum-Arctic glaciers
and recent climate change.  Quaternary Research 48: 1-14.

Grove, J.M.  2001.  The initiation of the "Little Ice Age" in regions round
the North Atlantic.  Climatic Change 48: 53-82.

Kieffer, H., Kargel, J.S., Barry, R., Bindschadler, R., Bishop, M.,
MacKinnon, D., Ohmura, A., Raup, B., Antoninetti, M., Bamber, J., Braun, M.,
Brown, I., Cohen, D., Copland, L., DueHagen, J., Engeset, R.V., Fitzharris,
B., Fujita, K., Haeberli, W., Hagen, J.O., Hall, D., Hoelzle, M., Johansson,
M., Kaab, A., Koenig, M., Konovalov, V., Maisch, M., Paul, F., Rau, F.,
Reeh, N., Rignot, E., Rivera, A., Ruyter de Wildt, M., Scambos, T., Schaper,
J., Scharfen, G., Shroder, J., Solomina, O., Thompson, D., Van der Veen, K.,
Wohlleben, T. and Young, N.  2000.  New eyes in the sky measure glaciers and
ice sheets.  EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union 81: 265, 270-271.

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


>From CO2 Science Magazine, 12 March 2003

Law, B.E., Falge, E., Gu,. L., Baldocchi, D.D., Bakwin, P., Berbigier, P.,
Davis, K., Dolman, A.J., Falk, M., Fuentes, J.D., Goldstein, A., Granier,
A., Grelle, A., Hollinger, D., Janssens, I.A., Jarvis, P., Jensen, N.O.,
Katul, G., Mahli, Y., Matteucci, G., Meyers, T., Monson, R., Munger, W.,
Oechel, W., Olson, R., Pilegaard, K., Paw U, K.T., Thorgeirsson, H.,
Valentini, R., Verma, S., Vesala, T., Wilson, K. and Wofsy, S.  2002.
Environmental controls over carbon dioxide and water vapor exchange of
terrestrial vegetation. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 113: 97-120.

In our Editorial of 10 October 2001, we describe a negative feedback
mechanism that may help to protect the earth against excessive CO2-induced
warming. Very briefly, it begins with an increase in the air's CO2 content
that increases both the amount and vitality of earth's plant life.  This
augmented vegetative activity leads to an increase in the production of
"biosols" that function as cloud condensation nuclei and thus enhance the
degree of cloud cover and the amount of diffuse solar radiation reaching the
earth's surface.  Penetrating deeper into plant canopies than does the
direct solar beam, this extra diffuse radiation boosts overall rates of
canopy net photosynthesis, leading to more CO2 being withdrawn from the
atmosphere and completing the negative feedback loop.

What was done
The authors of this comprehensive study compared seasonal and annual values
of CO2 and water vapor exchange across sites in forests, grasslands, crops
and tundra that are part of an international network called FLUXNET,
investigating the responses of these exchanges to variations in a number of
environmental factors, including direct and diffuse solar radiation.

What was learned
In the words of the authors, "net carbon uptake (net ecosystem exchange, the
net of photosynthesis and respiration) was greater under diffuse than under
direct radiation conditions."  In discussing this finding, which is the
centerpiece of the negative feedback phenomenon we describe, they note that
"cloud-cover results in a greater proportion of diffuse radiation and
constitutes a higher fraction of light penetrating to lower depths of the
canopy (Oechel and Lawrence, 1985)."  More importantly, they also report
that "Goulden et al. (1997), Fitzjarrald et al. (1995), and Sakai et al.
(1996) showed that net carbon uptake was consistently higher during cloudy
periods in a boreal coniferous forest than during sunny periods with the
same PPFD [photosynthetic photon flux density]."  In fact, they say that
"Hollinger et al. (1994) found that daily net CO2 uptake was greater on
cloudy days, even though total PPFD was 21-45% lower on cloudy days than on
clear days [our italics]."

What it means
The authors findings, as well as those of the other scientists they cite,
provide strong support for the negative feedback phenomenon we outline in
our Editorial of 10 October 2001, which describes but one of the many
different ways in which earth's biosphere tempers the tendency for global
warming produced by man's CO2 emissions.

Fitzjarrald, D.R., Moore, K.E., Sakai, R.K. and Freedman, J.M.  1995.
Assessing the impact of cloud cover on carbon uptake in the northern boreal
forest.  In: Proceedings of the American Geophysical Union Meeting, Spring
1995, EOS Supplement, p. S125.

Goulden, M.L., Daube, B.C., Fan, S.-M., Sutton, D.J., Bazzaz, A., Munger,
J.W. and Wofsy, S.C.  1997.  Physiological responses of a black spruce
forest to weather.  Journal of Geophysical Research 102: 28,987-28,996.

Hollinger, D.Y., Kelliher, F.M., Byers, J.N. and Hunt, J.E.  1994.  Carbon
dioxide exchange between an undisturbed old-growth temperate forest and the
atmosphere.  Ecology 75: 134-150.

Oechel, W.C. and Lawrence, W.T.  1985.  Tiaga.  In: Chabot, B.F. and Mooney,
H.A. (Eds.), Physiological Ecology of North American Plant Communities.
Chapman & Hall, New York, NY, pp. 66-94.

Sakai, R.K., Fitzjarrald, D.R., Moore, K.E. and Freedman, J.M.  1996.  How
do forest surface fluxes depend on fluctuating light level?  In: Proceedings
of the 22nd Conference on Agricultural and Forest Meteorology with Symposium
on Fire and Forest Meteorology, Vol. 22, American Meteorological Society,
pp. 90-93.

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


>From Michael Paine <>

Nature 421, 37 - 42 (2003)
A globally coherent fingerprint of climate change impacts across natural

* Integrative Biology, Patterson Laboratories 141, University of Texas,
Austin, Texas 78712, USA
? John E. Andrus Professor of Economics, Wesleyan University, 238 Public
Affairs Center, Middletown, Connecticut
06459, USA

Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to C.P.

Causal attribution of recent biological trends to climate change is
complicated because non-climatic influences dominate local, short-term
biological changes. Any underlying signal from climate change is likely to
be revealed by analyses that seek systematic trends across diverse species
and geographic regions; however, debates within the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change (IPCC) reveal several definitions of a 'systematic trend'.
Here, we explore these differences, apply diverse analyses to more than
1,700 species, and show that recent biological trends match climate change
predictions. Global meta-analyses documented significant range shifts
averaging 6.1 km per decade towards the poles (or metres per decade upward),
and significant mean advancement of spring events by 2.3 days per decade. We
define a diagnostic fingerprint of temporal and spatial 'sign-switching'
responses uniquely predicted by twentieth century climate trends. Among
appropriate long-term/large-scale/multi-species data sets, this diagnostic
fingerprint was found for 279 species. This suite of analyses generates
'very high confidence' (as laid down by the IPCC) that climate change is
already affecting living systems.

c2003 Macmillan Publishers Ltd



>From Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen <>


1. Re: Andrew Glikson's "Either the terrestrial soils, forests, hydrosphere
and atmosphere are being severely degraded, or they are not, both can not be
true" (CCNet 14.1.03). This clash of views worries me too. I have resolved
it for me as follows: It depends on the baseline. If, with green ideologies,
you take the baseline as pristine nature, nature without humans, then all
change since the Garden of Eden is degrading, and this will continue as long
as human use the Earth. Humans are bad for Mother Nature and it would be
better if they  declined in numbers and disappeared...hence the
anti-humanism tendencies of much green activism, but also their 'natural'
ties with environmental science. However, if we include changes to the earth
brought about by humanity into our baseline from which to judge degradation,
change may not be defined as degradation at all. This depends on the
benefits to humanity from change, but included the need for the management
of nature. In the latter case you have a different baseline, and what one
calls degraded, the other calls a beneficial change (sometimes), sometimes a
destructive change which is hopefully reversible or needs to accepted as a
new state 'of nature'. Both be true because the judgement involved is not

2. Re: Ellenberger and the melting glaciers. Here the answer I get from the
sceptics is simple. Not all glaciers are melting, whether they are or are
not is as smuch related to precipitation as to temperature. Both regimes are
very variable 'naturally' in place and time. The ones that are growing have
remained cold enough and get more ppt. The ones that are melting are doing
what comes naturally, for we live in a post-glacial era in which ice is
still adjusting to a world that is generally still warming , though in the long term moving towards
another glacial. Some parts of the earth surface have indeed been warming
more strongly than others during the last decade or so,  for all sorts of
reasons that have more to do with the unpredictable variability of climate
than increased emissions. However, there are a few people with good
correlations as evidence, who claim that most of this cyclical variability
is caused by extra-terestrial changes, mainly in solar eruptions.

Best wishes

Dr.Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen
Reader, Department of Geography,
Editor, Energy & Environment
Faculty of Science
University of Hull
Hull HU6 7RX, UK
Tel: (0)1482 465349/6341/5385
Fax: (0)1482 466340


>From James Marusek <>

Dear Benny

Much of the current debate on climate change is centered on the theory of
Global Warming. But another theory exists that has been seriously neglected
and desperately needs a voice.

The Earth is in the middle of an Ice Age. This Ice Age has lasted over 3
million years. The Ice Age is broken by brief warm periods called
Interglacial which typically last 10,000-13,000 years. These brief warm
spells occur once every 100,000-200,000 years. The Earth is presently within
an Interglacial period, which began approximately 10,800 years ago.

A few years ago Professor Nickolas Shackleton, Cambridge University,
spearheaded a lynchpin study that analyzed ocean sediment 200 miles off the
coast of Ecuador to derive carbon dioxide levels for the past 130,000 years.
This analysis covered the last Interglacial period. His analysis uncovered a
rather interesting finding that the carbon dioxide levels rose dramatically
just prior to the end of the last Interglacial period. (1)

Within the present Interglacial period, carbon dioxide levels have hovered
in the range of 260-280 ppm for many years (4000 BC - 1700 AD). In the last
few years, the carbon dioxide levels have risen dramatically. Current levels
are around 370 ppm.

Why would increasing carbon dioxide levels produce Global Cooling? The
answer is water. Carbon dioxide works as a solar heatsink because the gas
absorbs infrared radiation very well. Greater carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere produces higher evaporation rates and higher moisture contents in
the air. As the oceans heat up, the temperature extremes between the warm
oceans and the cold Polar Regions produce very energetic moisture laden
storms. These storms produce greater snowfall amounts near the poles. Snow
reflects sunlight very well. This effect lowers temperatures. Storms also
provide greater cloud cover over the poles again robbing the regions around
the Poles of solar energy. Temperatures begin to drop starting in the Polar
Regions, glaciers begin to form and expand and the Earth is drawn back into
the depths of the ice age.

Is there any supporting proof to this theory? Referring to articles in the
last CCNet TERRA (11/2003 of 5 March 2003), consider the following

"This winter has broken all-time cold records all across North America,
Europe and Asia." (2)

Antarctica and Greenland glaciers represent 94% of the world's total ice
mass. "The Antarctic continent has actually been cooling off for at least
the last three and a half decades." "The Arctic region where Greenland is
located is cooling" "Between 1955 and 1990, the Arctic cooled by 1 degree F
and Greenland's glaciers actually expanded" "The largest mass of polar ice
in the Northern Hemisphere, has thickened by up to seven feet since 1980".
(3 & 4).

The British Antarctic Survey recently noted that even as the world continues
to get warmer, that "the Antarctic ice sheet would grow because warming
increases the amount of precipitation which leads to increased snowfall in
the polar regions." (4)

Increasing carbon dioxide levels are part of a natural cycle that produces
an end to an Interglacial period. Moisture loading in the atmosphere is the
key variable in this process. Global Cooling is not caused by mankind but
rather is a natural trend.

James A. Marusek

CCNet "Record Cold - Record Warm,, 1 March 2003.
CCNet "Glaciers are Inaccurate Barometers of Climate Change", by John
Carlisle, National Policy Centre, February 1999.
CCNet "Polar Amplification of Global Warming", CO2 Science Magazine, 5 March


>From Nick Sault <>

Hi Benny

I read with interest the articles on glaciers not being accurate barometers
of climate change.  We in South Island New Zealand have two wonderful
examples that are probably the most accessible to the public in the whole
world. Fox and Franz Josef glaciers on our spectacular west coast, come down
almost to sea-level in what is a mild, temperate climate, and can be
approached by taking a short walk that any able-bodied under 100 could
undertake. More to the point, on each of the glacier approach roads are
signs that show where the glacier face existed in the past. Most
interestingly, the first signs you see are the earliest dates, perhaps ten
kilometers from the current face, and the dates get progressively more
recent as you approach. And even more interestingly, the first dates are in
the 1700s and therefore pre-date the industrial revolution.

It would seem to me that the recession of these two glaciers has been
steadily happening since the end of the "Little Ice Age", and if this is the
case, Fox and Franz are true barometers of the major climate changes that
accompany inter-glacial periods. And as a laymen, I would have thought that
since New Zealand is so far from the influence of the industrial north, and
has a climate that is moderated by the massive Pacific Ocean, it would be
one of the best barometers in the world. 

Your expert reporters are welcome to shoot me down. 

Nick Sault


>From Andrew Glikson <>

Dear Benny,

1. In his response (CCNet 27.3.03) JMW [John Michael Williams] states "If
Glikson got him self caught up on this point personally, I feel sorry for
him and wish he would clarify what it was he really was trying to say.",
which reaffirms that his previous allegation in CCNet 12.2.03 ("Glikson has
corrupted his science with religious ideas, apparently, and his religion
with scientific method") was personal in nature. JMW's allegation was made
in response to my earlier remark "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 God." (CCNet 29.1.03) - comments which express admiration toward the
intelligence perceived in the laws of nature, and reservation from ideas
which suggest that, regardless of ongoing degradation of the biosphere,
nature can be genetically re-engineered by humans. Clearly none of my
observations are personal in nature. 

I therefore have to ask you, as moderator, whether such personal comments as
JMW's are acceptable on the pages of CCNet?

2. I note that my last response to JMW (CCNet 5.3.03) has been passed by the
moderator for the information/comment of JMW previous to publication,
forming the basis of JMW's further comments in the same issue (CCNet,
5.3.03), but that on the other hand JMW's responses were not passed on for
my own information/comment. I therefore have to ask you as moderator to
explain this uneven treatment of the two sides in this discussion.

3. I note the increasing frequency of political citations in CCNet's (both
Impact and Terra issues), including Charles Krauthammer comments (CCNet
13.2.03) and the item "Finally: asteroids, war and French bashing"
(10.3.03). Given the relevance of CK's comments to the role of Homo Sapiens
as agent of catastrophism, as well as the unmistakable political and
ideological bent of these citations, can you clarify whether CCNet is open
to discussion/contributions in this area?

Yours Truly
Andrew Glikson

MODERATOR'S NOTE: Andrew claims that his views on the degradation of the
biosphere and human efforts to genetically re-engineer our environment (a
human activity, let's not forget, that has been going on for at least 10,000
years) are not "personal". In contrast, he complaints that John Williams'
criticism of his views are "personal" and asks whether I accept such
criticism to be aired on CCNet. The simple answer to Andrew's first question
is Yes. I adhere to a strict policy against inflammatory language and will
not accept any such contributions. John's contribution in question does not
fall into this category. Andrew also complaints that he did not have a
chance to respond directly to John's latest comment. In the past, John has
passed on his response to Andrew before being published in CCNet. I
therefore assumed that this was also the case with his latest comment. If
this wasn't so this time, I apologise to Andrew. Lastly, political comments
and citations that feature in CCNet - including Andrew's own personal views
- are mostly closely related to the main scientific topics we are dealing
with. Of course, CCNet is open to any of these matters. I am sure Andrew
will confirm this openess since none of his many contributions has ever been
rejected. However, as the disclaimer at the end of every CCNet issue makes
perfectly clear: "The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed in the
articles and texts and in other CCNet contributions do not necessarily
reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the moderator of this
network." Benny Peiser


>From Pavel Chichikov <>

Dear Benny,

May I point out an excellent precedent for global cooperation - the 1987
Montreal Protocol, which outlawed stratospheric ozone depleting chemicals.
It was negotiated quickly and signed by something like 140 countries, many
of which were mutually antagonistic.

The world was looking a dreadful possibility, and it concentrated many
political minds. We can do it again if we have to.

All best wishes,


>From International Herald Tribune, 12 March 2003

Ben J. Wattenberg 

WASHINGTON. Remember the number 1.85. It is the lodestar of a new demography
that will lead us to a different world. It should change the way we think
about economics, geopolitics, the environment, culture - and about

To make their calculations orderly, demographers have typically worked on
the assumption that the "total fertility rate" - the number of children born
per woman - would eventually average out to 2.1. Why 2.1? At that rate the
population stabilizes over time: a couple has two children, the parents
eventually die, and their children "replace" them. (The 0.1 accounts for
children who die before reaching the age of reproduction.)

Now, in a new report, United Nations demographers have bowed to reality and
changed this standard 2.1 assumption. For the last five years they have been
examining one of the most momentous trends in world history: the startling
decline in fertility rates over the last several decades. In the most recent
UN population report, the fertility rate is assumed to be 1.85, not 2.1.
This yields, later in this century, to global population decline.

In a world brought up on the idea of a "population explosion," this is a
radical notion. The world's population is still growing - it will take some
time for it to actually start shrinking - but the next crisis is

The implications of lower fertility rates are far-reaching. One of the most
profound is their potential to reduce economic inequality around the world
and alter the balance of power among nations.

The United Nations divides the world into two groups, less developed
countries and more developed countries. The most surprising news comes from
the poorer countries. In the late 1960s, these countries had an average
fertility rate of 6.0 children per woman.

Today it is 2.9 - and falling rapidly.

Huge and continuing declines have been seen in countries like Brazil, China,
India, Indonesia, Iran, Turkey and (of great importance to the United
States) Mexico.

The more developed countries, in contrast, have seen their fertility rates
fall from low to unsustainable. Every developed nation is now below
replacement level. In the early 1960s, Europe's fertility rate was 2.6.
Today the rate is 1.4, and has been sinking for half a century. In Japan the
rate is 1.3.

These changes give poorer countries a demographic dividend. For several
decades the bulk of their population will be of working age, with relatively
few dependents, old or young. This should lead to higher per capita incomes
and production levels. Nations with low fertility rates, meanwhile, face
major fiscal and political problems. In a pay-as-you-go pension system, for
example, there will be fewer workers to finance the pensions of retirees;
people will either have to pay more in taxes or work longer.

Among the more developed countries, the United States is the nation with the
highest fertility rate - just under 2.1.

Moreover, the United States takes in more immigrants than the rest of the
world combined. Accordingly, in the next 50 years America will grow by 100
million people. Europe will lose more than 100 million people.

When populations stabilize and then actually shrink, the economic
dislocations can be severe. Will there be far less demand for housing and
office space? Paradoxically, a very low fertility rate can also yield labor
shortages, pushing wages higher.

Of course, such shortages in countries with low fertility rates could be
alleviated by immigration from countries with higher fertility rates - a
migration from poor countries to rich ones. But Europeans are actively
trying to reduce immigration, especially since Sept. 11. America has mostly
resisted calls for restrictions on immigrants.

If the economy faces turbulent times, the environmental future looks better.
Past research on global warming was based on a long-term United Nations
projection, issued in the early 1990s, of 11.6 billion people in 2200, far
more people than we're ever likely to see. The new projections show the
global population rising from just over six billion now to just under nine
billion in 2050, followed by a decline, moving downward in a geometric

With fewer people than expected, pollution should decrease from expected
levels, as should consumption of oil. Clean water and clean air should be
more plentiful.

Still, it is the geopolitical implications of this change that may well be
the most important. There is not a one-to-one relationship between
population and power. But numbers matter.

Big nations, or big groups of nations acting in concert, can become major
powers. China and India each have populations of more than a billion; their
power and influence will almost surely increase in the decades to come.
Europe will shrink and age, absolutely and relatively.

Should the world face a "clash of civilizations," America may find itself
with weaker allies. It may then be forced to play a greater role in
defending and promoting the liberal, pluralist beliefs and values of Western
civilization. Americans may have to do more, not because they want to, but
because they have to.

The writer, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is author
of "The Birth Dearth."

Copyright 2003 the International Herald Tribune

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