PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet TERRA 17/2003 - 9 April 2003
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[irrelevant comment removed--bobk]

 
"Mother Nature played a cruel trick last week, dumping snow and freezing rain on
Canadians desperate for spring after the coldest winter in a decade."
--Planet Ark, 7 April 2003


"The impact of population growth on the urban heat island effect is very real and
significant, vastly overshadowing the effects of nature itself....  towns with as
few as 1,000 inhabitants typically create a warming of the air within them that
is over twice as great as the increase in mean global air temperature believed to
have occurred since the end of the Little Ice Age, while the urban heat islands
of the great metropolises of the world rival the temperature differences that
exist between full-fledged ice ages and interglacials."
--CO2 Science Magazine, 9 April 2003


(1) THE URBAN HEAT ISLAND OF HOUSTON, TEXAS
    CO2 Science Magazine, 9 April 2003

(2) ICE PELLETS, SNOWSTORMS BATTER WINTER-WEARY CANADA
    Planet Ark, 7 April 2003

(3) ATMOSPHERIC CO2 ENRICHMENT AND THE REDUCTION OF FOOD POVERTY
    CO2 Science Magazine, 9 April 2003

(4) QUESTION: WHEN IS A RECORD FLOOD NOT A RECORD FLOOD?
    CO2 Science Magazine, 9 April 2003

(5) NEW FUSION METHOD OFFERS HOPE OF NEW ENERGY SOURCE
    The New York Times, 7 April 2003

(6) MEDIEVAL WARM PERIOD
    Kevin O. Pope <kpope@starband.net>

(7) AND FINALLY: BIODIVERSITY SECURED AS SCIENTISTS CREATE HEALTHY CLONE OF ENDANGERED SPICIES
    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8 April 2003

========
(1) THE URBAN HEAT ISLAND OF HOUSTON, TEXAS

>From CO2 Science Magazine, 9 April 2003
http://www.co2science.org/journal/2003/v6n15c1.htm

Reference
Streutker, D.R. 2003. Satellite-measured growth of the urban heat island of Houston, Texas.  Remote Sensing of Environment 85: 282-289.

What was done
The urban heat island (UHI) of Houston, Texas was evaluated from 82 nighttime sets of radiation data obtained using the split-window infrared channels of the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer on board the NOAA-9 satellite during March 1985 through February 1987 and from 125 sets of similar data obtained from the NOAA-14 satellite during July 1999 through June 2001.

What was learned
In the words of the author, "over the course of 12 years, between 1987 and 1999, the mean nighttime surface temperature heat island of Houston increased 0.82 0.10 [C]."  It was also pointed out that "the growth of the UHI, both in magnitude and spatial extent, scales roughly with the increase in population, at approximately 30%." In addition, it was noted that the mean rural temperature measured during the second interval was "virtually identical to the earlier interval."

What it means
This extremely well designed study has probably characterized the development of the urban heat island of Houston, Texas better than has ever been done before for any city on earth; and, in so doing, it has demonstrated that the growth of the UHI "scales roughly with the increase in population." What is more, it demonstrates that this phenomenon is huge. In just 12 years, the UHI of Houston grew by more than the IPCC calculates the mean surface air temperature of the earth rose over the entire past century, over which period the earth's population rose by some 280% or nearly an order of magnitude more than the 12-year population growth experienced by Houston.

Clearly, the impact of population growth on the urban heat island effect is very real and significant, vastly overshadowing the effects of nature itself. It has been demonstrated by Oke (1973), for example, that towns with as few as 1,000 inhabitants typically create a warming of the air within them that is over twice as great as the increase in mean global air temperature believed to have occurred since the end of the Little Ice Age, while the urban heat islands of the great metropolises of the world rival the temperature differences that exist between full-fledged ice ages and interglacials.

Given these facts, it is presumptuous in the extreme to believe that the global surface air temperature record of the last two decades of the 20th century -- when world population rose by over 35% -- could ever be accurately enough "massaged" to provide a realistic assessment of what the planet's non-urban-affected surface air temperature really did over that period. Hence, like it or not, we are essentially forced to rely on the satellite record when it comes to evaluating contemporary global climate change; and that record suggests that the warming of that period -- if there truly was any at all -- was a far cry from the "unprecedented" status that climate alarmists are fond of attaching to it.

Reference
Oke, T.R. 1973. City size and the urban heat island. Atmospheric Environment 7: 769-779.

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

=============
(2) ICE PELLETS, SNOWSTORMS BATTER WINTER-WEARY CANADA

>From Planet Ark, 7 April 2003
http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/20382/story.htm
 
TORONTO - Mother Nature played a cruel trick last week, dumping snow and freezing rain on Canadians desperate for spring after the coldest winter in a decade.
 
Canadians may be accustomed to living in the world's second coldest country (after Russia) but some struggled to take the latest bad weather in stride at a time when April showers and early spring flowers are more the norm.

"It's Canada. We shouldn't be surprised but sometimes we get caught with our pants down," said Kevin Dwyer, 29, as he shoveled ice off a walkway in downtown Toronto.

The storm working its way across the country hit the western province of Alberta earlier this week, dumped 30 centimetres (1 foot) of snow on Regina, Saskatchewan, and poured ice pellets and freezing rain across southern Ontario Thursday and Friday.

"It is truly nasty. And this is the lull, we're expecting another wave of this misery," said David Phillips, senior climatologist at Environment Canada. "This storm, when it finally goes to the graveyard in the Atlantic, will have affected most of Canada from Alberta right to Newfoundland."

Environment Canada said a year's worth of freezing rain has fallen on Toronto and surrounding areas over the past two days. At the city's main airport, numerous flights were canceled and passengers faced significant delays as snowplows fought to clear runways.

"It's been the kind of conditions we've never seen before for a sustained period of time," said Pearson airport spokesman Peter Gregg, adding suppliers are shipping in more fluid from as far afield as New Jersey and Chicago.

Adding to the region's woes, snow removal contracts for many Ontario cities ended in March, leaving towns scrambling to deploy snowplows and salt trucks.

===========
(3) ATMOSPHERIC CO2 ENRICHMENT AND THE REDUCTION OF FOOD POVERTY

>From CO2 Science Magazine, 9 April 2003
http://www.co2science.org/edit/editor.htm

Over the last four decades of the 20th century, per capita world food production rose by approximately 25% (FAO, 2000). Nevertheless, as noted by Pretty et al. (2003), "food poverty persists." In fact, out of the six billion people currently inhabiting the planet, they say some 800 million lack adequate access to food.

Writing as advocates for these undernourished individuals -- for whom more food would be a godsend -- Pretty et al. suggest there are "three strategic options for agricultural development if food supply is to be increased."

The first of these options, in their words, is to "expand the area of agriculture, by converting new lands to agriculture." However, as they rightly note, this option results in "losses of ecosystem services from forests, grasslands and other areas of important biodiversity," as they are transferred from the realm of nature to the domain of man. Hence, this solution to the problem of world food security is untenable, unless, of course, we care nothing about maintaining what little of the natural world yet remains.

The second of Pretty et al.'s strategic options is to "increase per hectare production in agricultural exporting countries," so as to not take additional land from nature to feed mankind.  However, as they again rightly note, this option means that food "must be transferred or sold to those who need it." And those who need it, in the words of Pretty et al., are those "whose very poverty excludes these possibilities," in that they can't afford to pay for the food they need.

We come, then, to the last of Pretty et al.'s three options, which is to "increase total farm productivity in developing countries which most need the food." This option is essentially the same as option two, only applied to parts of the world where farmers are constrained by their poverty to use "low cost and locally available technologies and inputs."

The rest of Pretty et al.'s paper describes a number of well-conceived programs designed to achieve this goal and lists their successes to date. We describe another such program (perhaps we should call it a phenomenon) that was neither conceived nor planned by anyone, but which has also had many successes and is destined to have many more in the years and decades to come.

The phenomenon to which we refer is the enriching of the air with carbon dioxide that has come about as a consequence of the development and progression of the Industrial Revolution. Because of the prodigious and ever-increasing quantities of CO2 that have been released to the atmosphere by the burning of the coal, gas and oil that has fueled this incredible human enterprise, the air's CO2 concentration has risen -- without any overt planning on the part of man -- from a pre-industrial value of approximately 275 ppm to a current concentration on the order of 375 ppm.

What has this extra 100 ppm of CO2 done for us to date in the way of increasing farm productivity? In our Editorial of 11 July 2001, we describe experimental work based on the studies of Mayeux et al. (1997) and Idso and Idso (2000) that suggest its aerial fertilization effect has led to mean yield increases of approximately 70% for C3 cereals, 28% for C4 cereals, 33% for fruits and melons, 62% for legumes, 67% for root and tuber crops, and 51% for vegetables.  Although less than the 93% increase in per-hectare food production brought about by the many low-cost, low-tech projects assessed by Pretty et al., these historical CO2-induced yield increases have nevertheless been both substantial and important. What is more, they were totally unplanned by man, coming about solely as a result of humanity's flooding of the air with CO2. In addition, this unanticipated but welcome godsend is not just a relic of the past; for, if we will let it, it will grow even stronger in the years and decades ahead, as the air's CO2 content continues to rise.

Another positive aspect of the technologies and inputs employed in the projects studied by Pretty et al. is that "they make the best use of nature's goods and services whilst not damaging these assets."  This virtue is best appreciated when compared to some of the negative side effects of what Pretty et al. call "industrialized agriculture," where they say "environmental and health problems associated with industrialized agriculture have been well documented," citing the works of Conway and Pretty (1991), EEA (1998) and Wood et al. (2000).  Within this context, we merely note that not only does atmospheric CO2 enrichment not hurt "nature's goods and services," it actually helps them, making natural vegetation -- and field crops too -- more resistant to the deleterious effects of gaseous air pollution, soil salinity, water stress and high temperatures (Idso and Idso, 1994).

Speaking of agricultural systems that emphasize the principles employed in the programs they analyzed -- which are shared, if not bettered, by enriching the air with CO2 -- Pretty et al. say they "contribute to a range of valued public goods, such as clean water, wildlife, carbon sequestration in soils, flood protection, groundwater recharge, and landscape amenity value."  With such side effects as these, the ongoing rise in the atmosphere's CO2 concentration would appear to be just the medicine the world needs to sustain its natural ecosystems while helping humanity to adequately feed its growing numbers.

Sherwood, Keith and Craig Idso  

References
Conway, G.R. and Pretty, J.N. 1991. Unwelcome Harvest: Agriculture and Pollution.  Earthscan, London, UK.

EEA. 1998. Europe's Environment: The Second Assessment. European Environment Agency, Copenhagen, Denmark.

FAO. 2000. Agriculture: Towards 2015/30.  Global Perspective Studies Unit, Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome, Italy.

Idso, C.D. and Idso, K.E. 2000. Forecasting world food supplies: The impact of the rising atmospheric CO2 concentration. Technology 7S: 33-55.

Idso, K.E. and Idso, S.B. 1994. Plant responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment in the face of environmental constraints: a review of the past 10 years' research.  Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 69: 153-203.

Mayeux, H.S., Johnson, H.B., Polley, H.W. and Malone, S.R. 1997. Yield of wheat across a subambient carbon dioxide gradient.  Global Change Biology 3: 269-278.

Pretty, J.N., Morison, J.I.L. and Hine, R.E. 2003. Reducing food poverty by increasing agricultural sustainability in developing countries. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 95: 217-234.

Wood, S., Sebastien, K. and Scherr, S.J. 2000. Pilot Analysis of Global Ecosystems. IFPRI and WRI, Washington, DC.

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

===========
(4) QUESTION: WHEN IS A RECORD FLOOD NOT A RECORD FLOOD?

>From CO2 Science Magazine, 9 April 2003
http://www.co2science.org/journal/2003/v6n15c2.htm

Reference
Sheffer, N.A., Enzel, Y., Waldmann, N., Grodek, T. and Benito, G.  2003.  Claim of largest flood on record proves false. EOS: Transactions, American Geophysical Union 84: 109.

Background
>From 8 to 9 September 2002, extreme flooding of the Gardon River in southern France -- which occurred as a result of half a year's rainfall being received in approximately twenty hours -- claimed the lives of a number of people and caused much damage to towns and villages situated adjacent to its channel. The event elicited much coverage in the press; and, in the words of Sheffer et al., "this flood is now considered by the media and professionals to be 'the largest flood on record'," which record extends all the way back to 1890.

What was done
Coincidently, Sheffer et al. were in the midst of a study of prior paleofloods of the Gardon River when the recent "big one" hit. Hence, they had data spanning a much longer time period against which to compare its magnitude.

What was learned
The authors report that evidence of the five greatest flood events they have identified to date is to be found in a cave that is located more than 17 meters above the level of the river's normal base flow, whereas "the September 2002 flood reached a stage of only 14 m above the normal base flow at this site."  Hence, they say "the extraordinary flood of September 2002 was not the largest by any means; similar, and even larger floods have occurred several times in the recent past."

How "recent" you ask?  Three of the five greatest floods the authors have so far identified occurred over the period AD 1400-1800 during the Little Ice Age.

What it means
Although climate alarmists love to point to recent extreme meteorological phenomena and say they are the result of global warming (as they did time and again during the severe flooding experienced in Europe and elsewhere this past year), this paper clearly demonstrates that that claim is simply not true.  In the words of Sheffer et al., "using a longer time scale than human collective memory, paleoflood studies can put in perspective the occurrences of the extreme floods that hit Europe and other parts of the world during the summer of 2002."  And that perspective shows us that even greater floods occurred repeatedly during the Little Ice Age, which was the coldest period of the current interglacial.

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

============
(5) NEW FUSION METHOD OFFERS HOPE OF NEW ENERGY SOURCE

>From The New York Times, 7 April 2003
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/08/science/physical/08FUSI.html

By KENNETH CHANG

PHILADELPHIA, April 7 - With a blast of X-rays compressing a capsule of hydrogen to conditions approaching those at the center of the Sun, scientists from Sandia National Laboratories reported today that they had achieved thermonuclear fusion, in essence detonating a tiny hydrogen bomb.

Such controlled explosions would not be large enough to be dangerous and might offer an alternative way of generating electricity by harnessing fusion, the process that powers the Sun. Fusion combines hydrogen atoms into helium, producing bountiful energy as a byproduct.

"It's the first observation of fusion for a pulsed power source," said Dr. Ramon J. Leeper, manager of the target physics department at Sandia, in Albuquerque, who presented the findings at a meeting of the American Physical Society here.

Fusion power would be safer than fission, the current method used in nuclear power plants, because fusion does not produce long-lived radioactive waste.

Most fusion efforts have tried to use magnetic fields to compress hydrogen to temperatures hot enough for fusion to occur continuously, as it does in the Sun. But sustaining a dense hot cloud of hydrogen gas has proved trickier than scientists thought when they started fusion experiments 50 years ago. Even proponents say decades of research and expensive reactors are needed before a commercial power plant is possible. Dr. Jeff Quintenz, director of the Pulsed Power Sciences Center at Sandia, likened the approach to burning coal in a furnace.

The Sandia experiments, by comparison, could lead to something more like an internal combustion engine, in which power is generated through a series of explosions. "Squirt in a little bit of fuel, explode it," Dr. Quintenz said. "Squirt in a little bit of fuel, explode it."

That approach is potentially simpler, eliminating the need to confine hot hydrogen gas. But designing a machine that could detonate controlled thermonuclear explosions in quick succession - and survive them - is an engineering challenge that scientists have only begun to think about.

Earlier, scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California set off fusion explosions by shining intense lasers on hydrogen capsules. Livermore plans to further that research in a new National Ignition Facility. Other scientists are looking to implode hydrogen with beams of heavy elements like xenon or cesium.

The Sandia apparatus, the Z accelerator, was originally built to study nuclear weapons explosions without actual nuclear tests. In the mid-90's, the Z accelerator put out an impressive 20 trillion watts of X-rays. But that was far short of what is needed to induce fusion, and Sandia officials considered turning it off.

Improvements have raised the peak X-ray power by a factor of 10, to more than 200 trillion watts. It has been considered a dark-horse candidate for practical fusion. "We are solidly in the fusion regime," Dr. Quintenz said. "We're in the game."

For a few billionths of a second, the power of the X-rays crashing into the hydrogen capsule far exceeds the output of all the world's power plants.

Most of the 104-foot-wide machine, which resembles a large wagon wheel, stores a large amount of electrical energy, enough to power 100 houses for two minutes, and unleashing it quickly, which sets off a Rube Goldberg chain of events that leads to fusion. At the center of the machine are 360 vertical tungsten wires that form a cylindrical cage one and a half inches across. Inside the cage is a plastic foam cylinder. Encased in the foam is a BB-size plastic capsule that holds deuterium, a heavy form of hydrogen.

The burst of 20 million amperes of current vaporizes the tungsten wires and generates a magnetic field that accelerates the tungsten vapor toward the center of the cylinder. The vapor slams into the plastic foam, creating a supersonic shock wave. The shock wave generates X-rays that heat the deuterium to more than 20 million degrees Fahrenheit and squeeze it tightly.

FULL STORY at http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/08/science/physical/08FUSI.html

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

(6) MEDIEVAL WARM PERIOD

>From Kevin O. Pope <kpope@starband.net>

Dear Benny,

While I appreciate Professor Stott's comments quoted in CCNet from The Sunday Telegraph about the need to place the current climatic regime in an historical perspective, his statement that the Medieval Warm Period was a "wonderful period of plenty for everyone" exhibits a rather strong northern European bias. The Medieval Warm Period brought severe drought to much of the New World.  The collapse of the Maya, Tiwanaku, and Anasazi civilizations are all linked to major droughts in this time period, as is a major increase in warfare in coastal California. With respect to Dr. Brown's statement in the same piece in The Sunday Telegraph, it seems that the Medieval Warm Period probably was a global climatic event, although "warming" may not have been its salient feature. As in all climate changes, there were winners and losers.

Kevin O. Pope
Geo Eco Arc Research
Maryland, USA

MODERATOR'S NOTE: I generally agree with Kevin's observation that as far as climate change is
concerened, there will always be winners and losers. However, I am less convinced about his
suggestion that the Medieval Warm Period drove the recurrent mega droughts in the Americas. Long
periods of drought have been a recurrent feature of climate in the Yucatan Peninsula during much
of the last 2500 years (and not just during the 9th and 10th centuries). Recent research suggests
that variable solar activity has been the major player in driving the cyclical dynamics of
drought in this region. A recent paper in SCIENCE (Hodell et al. 2001) has shown a significant
and recurrent drought periodicity of 208 years. It concludes that "a significant component of
century-scale variability in Yucatan droughts is explained by solar forcing." (Hodell, D.A.,
Brenner, M., Curtis, J.H. and Guilderson, T. 2001. Solar forcing of drought frequency in the Maya
lowlands. Science 292: 1367-1370.) What is more, the three examples of civilisation breakdowns
listed by Kevin occurred almost 500 years apart: The multi-year droughts that are widely believed
to have broght down the Mayan culture occurred at approximately 810, 860 and 910 AD
(http://www.whoi.edu/media/hughen.html). On the other hand, ice core and lake sediment data
linked to the abandonement of the Tiwanaku fileds and cities coincided with a sever dry spell
around 1100 AD. In contrast, the disappearance of the Anasazi from northern Arizona is dated to
around 1300 AD and is associated with the so-called Great Drought of 1276-1299 in the American West. Benny Peiser

=========
(7) AND FINALLY: BIODIVERSITY SECURED AS SCIENTISTS CREATE HEALTHY CLONE OF ENDANGERED SPICIES

>From The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8 April 2003
http://www.accessatlanta.com/ajc/news/science/0403/08cloning.html
 
Scientists have for the first time created a healthy clone of an endangered species, offering powerful evidence that cloning technology can play a role in preserving and even reconstituting threatened and endangered species.

The clone -- a cattlelike creature known as a Javan banteng, native to Asian jungles -- was grown from a single skin cell taken from a captive banteng before it died in 1980. The cell was one of several that had remained frozen in a vial at the San Diego Zoo until last year, when they were thawed as part of an experimental effort to make cloned banteng embryos.

Scientists transferred dozens of such embryos to the wombs of standard beef cows in Iowa last fall, and the first baby banteng clone was born April 1 after gestating for a standard 9 1/2 months.

"It let out this big bellow and everybody cheered," said Robert Lanza, a scientist with Advanced Cell Technology, a Worcester, Mass., company that collaborated in the project with the Zoological Society of San Diego and an Iowa high-tech cattle reproduction company.

"It was so surreal," Lanza said. "There we are, out at this farm in the middle of Iowa, and this beef cow is giving birth to this exotic animal that normally lives in the bamboo forests of Asia."

A second cloned banteng was born two days later to another cow on the same research farm, but was in poor health Monday and its prospects remained uncertain -- a reminder that scientists still have a lot to learn before mammalian cloning becomes routine.

The only other member of an endangered species ever cloned -- a cattlelike Asian gaur, born in January 2001 -- died of an infection less than two days after birth. By contrast, the first-born banteng "is doing beautifully," Lanza said. "It's a beautiful, adorable creature."

Bantengs, which as adults sport enormous horns and can weigh as much as 1,800 pounds, once roamed in large numbers through the bamboo forests of Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma and other Asian nations. Hunting and habitat destruction have reduced their numbers by more than 80 percent in the past 20 years. Today only 3,000 to 5,000 remain worldwide.

Most worrisome to conservationists, only a handful of large herds remain, so the animals are at risk of becoming dangerously inbred. That's where the cloners hope to help.

The stored cells were from a male banteng that died at the San Diego Wild Animal Park before it had a chance to mate, depriving the small captive population there of the genetic diversity it could have added.

Lanza and his colleagues combined some of the banteng's preserved skin cells with ordinary cow eggs whose own DNA had been removed, a standard method for making cloned embryos. When the embryos were six days old, the team shipped them by overnight mail to Trans Ova Genetics in Sioux Center, Iowa -- a company that makes genetically engineered cows that produce drugs and other biomedical products in their milk.

Scientists there transferred 45 of the banteng embryos to 30 cows. Two pregnancies made it to term, and the two bantengs were delivered by Caesarean section.

The goal is to ship them to the wild animal park, allow them to mature for six years, then mate them with captive banteng cows.

2003 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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