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CCNet, 51/2000 - 19 April 2000

A HAPPY PASSOVER & HAPPY EASTER TO ALL READERS
----------------------------------------------



     "My visits to India left me sickened about the millions of Third
     World babies and little children that die slow, agonizing deaths
     every year from diseases that we could prevent," she said, "if
     environmentalists would simply end their strident opposition to
     dams, trade and energy development."
         -- Sister Connie Driscoll


(1) APRIL'S LYRID METEOR SHOWER
    NASA Science News <science.news@msfc.nasa.gov>

(2) NEAR SHOEMAKER: BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN
    Ron Baalke <BAALKE@kelvin.jpl.nasa.gov>

(3) A GLOBAL WARMING AFFIRMATION
    The Washington Post, 17 April 2000

(4) NEW INTERFAITH COUNCIL MAKES HUMANISM TOP PRIORITY
    U.S. Newswire, 17 April 2000

(5) VOLCANO MAY HAVE BEEN MINOAN DOWNFALL
    Michael Paine <mpaine@tpgi.com.au>

(6) SIZE MATTERS: THE ARMS RACE IN ASTRONOMY GOES ON
    The Boston Globe, 17 April 2000

(7) AND FINALLY: IS LONDON GIVING IN TO RUSSIAN PRESSURE?
    Washington Post, 18 April 2000

===========
(1) APRIL'S LYRID METEOR SHOWER

From NASA Science News <science.news@msfc.nasa.gov>

NASA Science News for April 18, 2000

April's Lyrid Meteor Shower: The oldest known meteor shower peaks on
the morning of April 22.  Bright moonlight will reduce the number of
shooting stars that are easy to see, but many meteor enthusiasts will
be watching anyway because it's been over 3 months since the last major
meteor display.

FULL STORY at
http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2000/ast18apr_1m.htm

==============
(2) NEAR SHOEMAKER: BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN

From Ron Baalke <BAALKE@kelvin.jpl.nasa.gov>

NEAR image of the day for 2000 April 17
http://near.jhuapl.edu/iod/20000417/index.html

Again  and  again,  NEAR  Shoemaker's imager is being directed at the
"saddle region" of Eros, to observe this feature under the widest
variety of lighting conditions. This image of the saddle was taken
March 22, 2000, from a range of 208 kilometers (129  miles).
Generically speaking, a saddle  is a  low  ridge  connecting two
mountains. The definition does not  include an explanation for
the  origin of the curvature. Similarly, on Eros, the term  "saddle
region" is a description of a physical  feature and  doesn't imply 
any  particular origin.

Perhaps the most frequently asked question about Eros' surface is, 
"What is the origin of the saddle?" Was it formed as a spallation 
scar resulting from the impact that created the large 5.5-kilometer
(3.4-mile) diameter crater on the opposite   side of the  asteroid?
To determine its origin  will take time. Right now, the
southern part of the  feature is still  in shadow. Over the  next few
months, as the Sun moves south in Eros' sky, the whole saddle  will 
become visible. As NEAR Shoemaker continues  to take  more and more 
pictures of the saddle region, we will be better able to answer key
questions about this feature.

--------------
NEAR image of the day for 2000 April 18
http://near.jhuapl.edu/iod/20000418/index.html

Eros Up Close

Since April 11, the NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft has orbited Eros at an
altitude of 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the asteroid's center.
Images acquired from this orbit will be used to make a high-resolution
map of the illuminated portion  of the  asteroid. Each spot on the
surface will  be imaged under a  variety of lighting and viewing
conditions to bring out different features.

In this image, taken April 17, 2000, from a height of 101 kilometers
(63  miles), the  shadows highlight small-scale surface features. The
surface is pockmarked with craters ranging in size up to the
2.8-kilometer (1.74-mile) diameter crater in  the center of the image.
The smallest craters which can be resolved are about 20 meters (65 
feet) across. In lower right corner of the image, 20-meter boulders can
be seen  that were not evident in images from higher altitudes.
--------------------------------------------------------
Built and managed by The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics
Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland, NEAR-Shoemaker was the first spacecraft
launched in NASA's Discovery Program of low-cost, small-scale planetary
missions. See the NEAR web site for more details
(http://near.jhuapl.edu) .

=============
(3) A GLOBAL WARMING AFFIRMATION

From The Washington Post, 17 April 2000
http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A31237-2000Apr17.html

A Global Warming Affirmation

An early draft of an intently awaited report from the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) contains no surprises about the prospect
of continued global warming, and comes to approximately the same major
conclusions as its celebrated predecessor five years ago.

According to the new preliminary analysis by the IPCC, an international
collaboration of several hundred scientists sponsored by the United
Nations and the World Meteorological Organization, human beings have
"discernibly" influenced the planet's climate and the Earth's surface
is likely to warm at least 2 degrees and as much as 9 degrees
Fahrenheit by the end of the 21st century.

The group's previous assessment, issued in 1995, stated that "the
balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global
climate."

The preliminary draft of the new assessment, released for expert
comment yesterday, is somewhat more definitive, indicating that global
warming since 1860--somewhere between 0.7 and 1.5 degrees F, about 0.2
degree F higher than the 1995 estimates--is "exceptional and unlikely
to be solely natural in origin."

But the range of possible temperature increases, the extent of
potential sea-level increase (4 inches to 3 feet, depending on how much
ice melts and how much the ocean expands from rising temperatures) and
the estimates of additional carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 2100
(two to three times the pre-industrial level of about 280 parts per
million) are all extremely similar to the 1995 findings.

In general, improved understanding of world climate during the past
five years has "made for a sharper statement" of the human contribution
this time around, said Kevin E. Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis
Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder,
Colo., and a lead author on some of the draft report's sections.

Trenberth said the remarkable warming of the record-setting 1990s,
including the two hottest years on record in 1998 and '97--combined
with better statistical analysis of data, enhanced computer models and
greatly improved ability to reconstruct ancient climates--have
convinced him and many others that man-made "climate change has emerged
from the noise of natural variability."

The new draft, however, echoes the 1995 report in emphasizing several
areas of uncertainty. One is the role of sulfate aerosols--typically
released by fossil fuel combustion--that may serve to discourage global
warming by making clouds shinier.

Other factors include variations in the intensity of sunlight from
decade to decade, and the so-far inexplicable changes in the rate at
which methane, a potent greenhouse gas, enters the atmosphere. The rate
of methane increase has slowed during the past two decades, the draft
report notes, "for reasons that are not clear."

"We probably emphasized a lot more of the negative" elements (that is,
those that tend to mitigate warming) than the 1995 report did,
Trenberth said. And the authors were even more careful to note major
uncertainties, such as the likely amount and distribution of
precipitation in a warmer world. The authors also determined that
potential melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is now regarded as
much less of a threat than gradual decline of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

Not all the authors share Trenberth's view of the new draft report. "I
think, if anything, it is a little bit more uncertain than it was last
time," said Richard S. Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, a lead author of one section of the 14-chapter report,
which totals nearly 1,000 pages. "We're really no closer to attributing
[global warming since the 19th century] to anything in particular."

In large measure, that is because of extreme uncertainties about the
role of aerosols and "the assumption that [computer climate] models are
good surrogates for the data," Lindzen said.

D. James Baker, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, said yesterday that his agency would have no comment on
the draft assessment "until we have completed our review of all the
chapters."

The draft material released for comment yesterday is the first of three
parts and focuses specifically on the quality of scientific research
and data underlying the assessment of climate change. During May, two
other IPCC groups are expected to issue drafts of their reports on
coping with impacts of warming and mitigating global warming.

If all goes as planned, the final version of all three will be approved
in January of 2001 and the entire report published shortly thereafter.
The long process, Trenberth said, "is part of the price you pay for
truly building a consensus."

Copyright 2000, Washington Post

============
(4) NEW INTERFAITH COUNCIL MAKES HUMANISM TOP PRIORITY

U.S. Newswire, 17 April 2000
http://www.usnewswire.com/topnews/Current_Releases/0417-112.html

New Interfaith Council Takes Environmental Movement to Task for
Misguided View of God, Man, Nature
To: National Desk, Religion and Environment Reporter
Contact: Adrienne Evans, 202-289-2001

WASHINGTON, April 17 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Modern environmentalism too
often travels down a dangerous path of extremism. It is vital that the
needs of people, especially the poor, be brought back to the forefront
of sound ecological stewardship; this is the message of a broad-based
coalition of Jewish, Catholic and Protestant clergy, scholars and
people of faith, speaking at a press conference today in Washington,
D.C.

They announced the formation of the Interfaith Council for
Environmental Stewardship and marked the release of the "Cornwall
Declaration on Environmental Stewardship," an important new document
that has been endorsed by some of America's most influential
religious leaders.

Some prominent signers of the declaration include Dr. William Bright
(Campus Crusade for Christ International), Dr. James Dobson (Focus on
the Family), Rev. Dr. D. James Kennedy (Coral Ridge Ministries), Diane
Knippers (Institute on Religion and Democracy), Dr. Richard Land (The
Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist
Convention), Rabbi Daniel Lapin (Toward Tradition), Joseph A. Morris
(Midwest Region of B'nai B'rith), Father Richard John Neuhaus
(Institute on Religion and Public Life), and Father Robert Sirico
(Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty).

Both the coalition and the declaration support traditional
Judeo-Christian principles of environmental stewardship, based on faith
and reason, sound science and concern for humanity. Several speakers at
the event observed that in recent years sound science, reason and
honest debate have too rarely been the driving force behind
environmental policies. Instead, decisions are often based on faulty
science and economics, strident street theater, and demands for
immediate, drastic action on problems that are often hypothetical
or overstated.

"We have a moral obligation to protect the earth," said Father Sirico.
"But we also have an obligation to use the natural resources and
creative intellect God gave us for the betterment of mankind. Our
tradition teaches that the welfare of people must come first, and
that there is a clear distinction between mankind and all other living
creatures." These teachings are embodied in the Cornwall Declaration
and three scholarly monographs, which address its central principles
from Jewish, Catholic and Protestant perspectives. The declaration has
already been signed by more than 1,000 clergy, theologians and people
of faith, representing the beliefs of millions of Americans.

The Interfaith Council for Environmental Stewardship had its genesis in
concerns that these traditional teachings have been brushed aside by
major environmental groups and their ideological allies in certain
liberal religious organizations. Even the desperate plight of the
world's poorest citizens is frequently given only lip service, as
environmentalists elevate concern for nature above concern for people.

Sister Connie Driscoll, director of the St. Martin de Porres House of
Hope in Chicago, has spent her life helping people overcome poverty.
"My visits to India left me sickened about the millions of Third World
babies and little children that die slow, agonizing deaths every year
from diseases that we could prevent," she said, "if environmentalists
would simply end their strident opposition to dams, trade and energy
development."

Much of this opposition is closely related to global warming, which the
National Council of Churches wants to use as a "litmus test" for
religious faith. However, the NCC position contradicts the views of
over 17,000 scientists, who have signed the Oregon Institute of Science
and Medicine's petition, which states that there is no convincing
scientific evidence that human release of greenhouse gases is
disrupting the earth's climate.

Cataclysmic global warming theories also ignore critical facts. The
Kyoto Protocol requires that the United States reduce its carbon
dioxide emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels. To achieve this
goal, Americans would have to slash their use of fossil fuels by almost
40 percent below current levels, Presbyterian theologian and scholar E.
Calvin Beisner pointed out.

But according to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, even
"perfect compliance" with the Kyoto climate treaty would reduce
predicted global warming by only 0.3 degrees Centigrade by the year
2100.

The exaggerated attention given to global warming and other unproven
theories also diverts money, attention and scientific research away
from problems that are critical in the United States and developing
world. Reverend R. Thomas Coleman, pastor of Cornerstone Church of
Muskegon, Michigan, noted that environmental groups frequently attack
proposals to build industrial facilities that would bring jobs, hope,
better health care and better schools to minority communities.

"Once again, minorities and the poor will be asked to bear the burden
of ill-conceived social policy," he observed. "There is no little irony
in the fact that proponents of extreme measures to protect the
environment have chosen to ignore the deleterious effects of such
measures on the disadvantaged."

Rabbi Dr. Kenneth B. Fradkin, director of the Jewish Center of Sussex
County, New Jersey, said the ultimate goal of the Interfaith Council
for Environmental Stewardship is simple, but vitally important. "We
must insure that our children and their children inherit a world where
concern for people is a central consideration. We must bequeath them a
world where policies are carefully thought out and based on sound
science and responsible stewardship. We must always be willing to have
an open and honest discussion about the possible consequences of our
policies and their effects on both humanity and the ecological system."

Other notable signatories to the Cornwall Declaration include: Dr.
Charles Colson (Prison Fellowship Ministries), Father Michael Scanlan
(Franciscan University of Steubenville), Rev. Dr. Peter Moore (Trinity
Episcopal School for Ministry), Rabbi David Novak (University of
Toronto), author Marvin Olasky, Jewish theologian Dennis Prager, and
Rev. Donald Wildmon (American Family Association).

Participants in the press conference also included the Venerable Norman
Aldred (Prayer Chapel of St. Francis of Assisi), David Friedman (Toward
Tradition), Pastor Steven Hartland (Trinity Reformed Baptist Church),
Dr. Robert Royal (Faith and Reason Institute), Rita Simon (speaking on
behalf of her late husband, Julian Simon), and Pastor Ralph Weitz
(Immanuel Bible Church).

Readers who want to know more about the Cornwall Declaration on
Environmental Stewardship and the Interfaith Council for Environmental
Stewardship can visit the web site at www.stewards.net

Copyright 2000, U.S. Newswire

=============
(5) VOLCANO MAY HAVE BEEN MINOAN DOWNFALL

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

Dear Benny,

The following report lacks sources but seems credible. Mind you, the
"symptoms" they report (tsunami) could also have been caused by a NEO
impact into the Mediterranean Sea. It will be interesting to see the
scientific reports. I hope they have considered the alternative
possibility of NEO airbursts.

Michael Paine

Volcano may have been Minoan downfall
Australian Broadcasting Corporation 19 April 2000
http://www.abc.net.au/news/newslink/daily/newsnat-19apr2000-9.htm

International researchers believe they have finally found a significant
clue to the cause of the decline of one of the ancient world's most
advanced civilisations.

A report by a team of Greek, German and Japanese scientists says the
decline of the Minoan civilisation may have been caused by a volcanic
eruption.

The team claims to have found evidence of an eruption more than 3,000
years ago of the Santorini Volcano on the island of Thira.

They say this event triggered a tsunami more than 15 metres high which
crashed onto the coasts of Turkey and Crete. They say the wave was a key
to the rapid decline of Minoan  civilization, an ancient Cretan culture
which prevailed through the Bronze Age from 3,000 to 1,000 BC.

===============
(6) SIZE MATTERS: THE ARMS RACE IN ASTRONOMY GOES ON

From The Boston Globe, 17 April 2000
http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/108/nation/Seeing_stars+.shtml

Seeing stars: Colleges scope out power and prestige

By Tatsha Robertson, Globe Staff, 4/17/2000

Around the time Harvard astronomy professor Robert Kirshner was
boasting that the Magellan, the 21-foot telescope that Harvard and MIT are
jointly building in Chile, will be the most powerful university telescope in the
Southern Hemisphere, a disturbing report began floating around: The
California Institute of Technology is thinking of building one 25 times more
powerful.

Caltech has reason to be concerned: It holds the record for the world's
largest optical telescope, and Harvard and MIT are trying to build a better
one in their Chilean venture.

Meanwhile, schools in Texas and Switzerland have made similar plans to
build bigger telescopes, setting off a veritable arms race in the academic
world.

FULL STORY at
http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/108/nation/Seeing_stars+.shtml

================
(7) AND FINALLY: IS LONDON GIVING IN TO RUSSIAN PRESSURE?

From The Washington Post, 18 April 2000
http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A32587-2000Apr17.html

Blair Noncommittal on Missile Shield

LONDON, April 17. Over decades of their "special relationship" with the
United States, British prime ministers generally have marched in step
with Washington on major defense initiatives. But today, Prime Minister
Tony Blair signaled he may not be willing to stand up and salute the
U.S. proposal for a national missile defense system.

As he hosted his new friend Vladimir Putin, the acting Russian
president and president-elect who was on a whirlwind visit to London,
Blair took a studiously noncommittal stance on the missile issue and
indicated he plans to act not as a U.S. advocate, but rather as a
middleman between Washington and Moscow.

"I believe that our role is to try to bring people together so that we
can resolve this," Blair said at a news conference, with Putin at his
side. "As I told President Putin during the course of our talks, our
role in this is very much to try to build understanding of respective
points of view, both of Russia and the United States."

The Russians vehemently oppose the U.S. idea of a national missile
shield--sometimes called "Son of Star Wars"--arguing that it would
violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which they see as the
cornerstone of nuclear stability and arms control. Britain and other
West European governments also have expressed concern about modifying
the treaty, citing the possibility of destabilizing effects.

For London to adopt the role of honest broker between the United States
and Russia would mark a new stage of Blair's effort to redefine
Britain's role on the world stage. He has said recently that his
country should serve as a "pivot" nation that can deal equally with
East and West, Europe and America.

FULL STORY at
http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A32587-2000Apr17.html

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