CCNet 62/2001 - 2 May 2001

"A theory about asteroids is gaining more and more credibility among
astronomers, who allow that life on Earth might have been brought here from
another planet. During a recent conference at the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration's Johnson Space Flight Center in
Houston, Texas, astronomers revealed that asteroids, previously thought to
be only remnants of unformed planets, may actually be ejected from
other planets, spreading life as they travel. [...] Jay Melosh,
professor of planetary science at the University of Arizona in Tucson,
said: "Over the course of solar system history, perhaps a dozen or so
rocks ejected from the surface of one of the terrestrial planets may fall
onto the surface of a terrestrial planet in another solar system."
--Environmental News Network, 27 April 2001

"Withers reports that had there been a significant moon there would
have been a week-long meteor storm comparable to the peak of the 1966
Leonids "Everyone around the world would have had the opportunity to
see the best fireworks show in history" "Yet no vigilant 12th century sky
watcher reported such a storm." Well now, that may not strictly be the case.
The first question to ask is what level of record would be acceptable. We
are talking about the 12th century after all and record keeping wasn't
quite up to modern standards. Would Withers accept a record of something
falling from the sky in the month of June 1178 as just possibly being in
support of a lunar impact? I ask because there is just such a record and
it is in Britton's 1937 listing."
--Mike Baillie, Queen's University, Belfast, 1 May 2001

"If the event reported by Gervase of Canterbury wasn't the impact
that generated the Moon's extra libration, it would have to have
happened at some other time, and there should have been falls of
secondaries on Earth then too. I'm not aware of a better candidate event
than the 1178 one - does anyone out there have candidate ones? Nor, of
course, does Withers explain why the monks said it happened twelve times
or more in rapid succession, and why they described what sounds like a
dust veil spreading round the Moon - buoyed up by a temporary
--Duncan Lunan, 2 May 2001

    Environmental News Network, 27 April 2001

    UniSci, 1 May 2001

    SpaceDaily, 1 May 2001

    SpaceDaily, 1 May 2001

    ABC News, 27 April 2001

    C. Blanco <>

    Duncan A. Lunan <>

    Mike Baillie <>
    E.P. Grondine <>

     E.P. Grondine

     Hermann Burchard <>

     Jon Richfield <>

     Worth Crouch <>


From Environmental News Network, 27 April 2001

A theory about asteroids is gaining more and more credibility among
astronomers, who allow that life on Earth might have been brought here from
another planet.

During a recent conference at the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration's Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston, Texas, astronomers
revealed that asteroids, previously thought to be only remnants of unformed
planets, may actually be ejected from other planets, spreading life as they

Last year, the theory was offered by a team of scientists from Caltech,
Vanderbildt and McGill universities that a meteorite believed to have come
from Mars could contain fossilized remains of Martian bacteria.

Some astronomers are suggesting that a meteorite such as this - one that
took 16 million years to get to Earth - could have contained microbes from
which all life on Earth evolved.

Jay Melosh, professor of planetary science at the University of Arizona in
Tucson, said: "Over the course of solar system history, perhaps a dozen or
so rocks ejected from the surface of one of the terrestrial planets may fall
onto the surface of a terrestrial planet in another solar system."

Melosh added that Earth "should have received a few such interstellar
wanderers over the course of solar system history."

The planetary scientist said he has no concrete evidence that life
hitchhiked to Earth on an asteroid, but the scenario is possible. "There's
no proof that this happened, but my research suggests that it's plausible,"
Melosh said. "Life could have been exchanged from Earth to Mars and Mars to
Earth if conditions on Mars were ever hospitable. If Mars was once warmer
and wetter, then there's a chance there has been that kind of exchange."

Millions of years ago, the Earth was bombarded by large meteorites whose
impact likely blasted chunks of the planet out into space. Some of that
material could have made it to Mars and to other places in the solar system.

Scientists say Earth was bombarbed by large meteorites millions of years

Last fall, a group of scientists claimed that they had collected an alien
bacterium 10 miles above the surface of Earth. A report in the Nov. 14, 2000
special edition of Earth, Moon and Planets, a journal published in the
Netherlands, lends credibility to the theory.

"Findings to date indicate that the chemical precursors to life, found in
comet dust, may well have survived a plunge into early Earth's atmosphere,"
said astronomer Peter Jenniskens of the Ames Research Center and the Search
for Extraterrestrial Life Institute.

The idea that the seeds of life fell from space has been a theory of
astronomers Fred Hoyle and Indian astronomer Chandra Wickramasinghe since
the 1970s. They called these seeds from space "panspermia."

In an interview in November with, a space information news
service, Wickramasinghe said, "I think the results reported by NASA are
clear proof that bacterial particles could survive, hence vindicating

At the NASA conference, researchers noted that the earliest records of life
coincide with the period when impacts to the Earth from space debris first
began to subside some 3.5 billion years ago, before bombardment began again.

Paul Renne, a geologist at the University of California at Berkeley, said:
"Maybe, as others have speculated before, life began on Earth many times,
but the comets only stopped wiping it out about three or four billion years

Copyright 2001, Environmental News Network
All Rights Reserved


From UniSci, 1 May 2001

For a transition to occur from the pre-biological world of 4 billion years
ago to the world we know today, amino acids--the building blocks of proteins
in all living systems--had to link into chainlike molecules.

Now Robert Hazen and Timothy Filley of the Geophysical Laboratory of the
Carnegie Institution of Washington, and Glenn Goodfriend of George
Washington University have discovered what may be a key step in this process
-- a step that has baffled researchers for more than a half a century.

Their work, supported by NASA's Astrobiology Institute and the Carnegie
Institution, is reported in today's issue of the Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences.

The molecular structure of all but one amino acid is an asymmetrical
arrangement grouped around carbon. This arrangement means that there are two
mirror-image forms of each amino acid; these forms are designated
left-handed (L) and right-handed (D).

All of the chemistry of living systems is distinguished by its selective use
of these (L) and (D), or chiral, molecules. Non-biological processes, on the
other hand, do not usually distinguish between L and D variants.

For a transition to occur between the chemical and biological eras, some
natural process had to separate and concentrate the left- and right-handed
amino acids. This step, called chiral selection, is crucial to forming
chainlike molecules of pure L amino acids.

Hazen and his collaborators performed a simple experiment. They immersed a
fist-sized crystal of the common mineral calcite, which forms limestone and
the hard parts of many sea animals, in a dilute solution of the amino acid
aspartic acid and found that the left-and right-handed molecules adsorbed
preferentially onto different faces of the calcite crystal.

Most minerals are centric, that is, their structures are not handed.
However, some minerals display pairs of crystal surfaces that have a mirror
relationship to each other. Calcite is one such mineral. It is common today,
and was prevalent during the Archaean Era some 4 billion years ago when life
first emerged.

This study suggests a plausible process by which the mixed D- and L-amino
acids in the very dilute "primordial soup" could be both concentrated and
selected on a readily-available mineral surface.

Hazen remarks, "Since the pioneering work of Stanley Miller in the 1950s,
prebiotic synthesis of amino acids has been shown to be relatively easy. The
real challenges now lie in selecting and concentrating L-amino acids, and
then linking those molecules into chainlike proteins.

"Our experiments demonstrate that crystal faces of calcite easily select and
concentrate the amino acids. Experiments now underway will see if the
calcite also promotes the formation of amino acid chains."

The Carnegie Institution of Washington has been a pioneering force in basic
scientific research since 1902. It is a private, nonprofit organization with
five research departments in the U.S.: Terrestrial Magnetism, Plant Biology,
Observatories, Embryology, and the Geophysical Laboratory.

Carnegie is a member of and receives research funding for this study and
other efforts through the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI), a research
consortium involving academic, non-profit and NASA centers. The NAI, whose
central administrative office is located at NASA's Ames Research Center in
Mountain View, CA, is led by Dr. Baruch Blumberg (Nobel '76). The institute
also has international affiliate and associate members. Astrobiology is the
study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the

Related website:

The Carnegie Institution of Washington

[Contact: Robert Hazen, Tina McDowell]

Copyright © 1995-2001 UniSci. All rights reserved.


from SpaceDaily, 1 May 2001
by Bruce Moomaw
Cameron Park - May 1, 2001

The 32nd Annual Lunar and Planetary Sciences Conference -- held in Houston
from March 12 through 16 -- like all the LPSCs before it, was a major
scientific powwow at which scientists from the world over presented hundreds
of papers and posters on the geology, meteorology and chemistry of the other
worlds and objects in our Solar System, from giant planets down to

As always, many of the papers (especially those dealing with the detailed
geochemical analysis of meteorites and returned Moon samples) were so
specialized and dry in their subject matter that they hold appeal only for
fellow scientific specialists, and/or masochists -- but as always, many were
of great interest to anyone with a reasonable degree of interest in the
exploration of other worlds.

As to be expected a major theme of this year's LPSC was the ongoing debate
as to just how much liquid water Mars had on or near its surface during its
earliest days, and how much it has now.

The relevance of this to the question of whether ancient Mars had microbial
life -- and even whether Mars may still have some, buried deep beneath its
savagely hostile present-day surface -- is obvious.

And the debate is still as furious as ever.

Back in 1996, when the MGS spacecraft first entered orbit around Mars and
began the first really detailed close-up scientific survey of the planet
since the Viking missions, the single most popular model of the planet's
history -- what might be called the "Modern Classic" view -- ran as follows.

During the first billion or so years after its creation -- the so-called
"Noachian" period -- Mars had a carbon dioxide atmosphere that was belched
from out of its early volcanoes, to provide a far denser atmosphere than its
faint wisp today.

Indeed, its surface air pressure may have been as much as present-day
Earth's, or perhaps even several times greater.

One major piece of evidence for this is the fact that craters dating back to
that epoch are much more eroded than all the craters existing on areas of
Martian land which (judging by their sparser total crater count) were
volcanically resurfaced after the Noachian era -- indeed, these oldest
craters are so much more eroded as to indicate that only wind erosion in a
genuinely dense atmosphere could have done it.

And one consequence of that dense CO2 atmosphere would have been a powerful
greenhouse effect -- strong enough to warm much of Mars' surface above the
freezing point of water.

The best evidence for this is the scattering of ancient "valley networks"
across the planet -- which look very much like branching dry riverbeds, and
were almost surely formed by the flow of a moderate amount of some fluid
across the surface over long periods of time.

Some researchers, however, think they see subtler signs that Noachian Mars
had a lot of liquid water on its surface -- everything from grooves in some
of Mars' southern highlands that may have been gouged by glaciers created by
accumulated snowfall on its mountains, to features around the edge of the
great lowland depression taking up most of Mars' northern hemisphere which
just might be the shorelines of an ancient ocean that once filled that
lowland (which is also floored with plains of material so extremely flat
that they may be seafloor sediment).

And this is just the sort of environment in which microbial life might very
well have evolved on ancient Mars at about the same time it was first
evolving on Earth.

However, Mars -- unlike Earth -- then gradually lost that early dense

Some of it -- because Mars' gravity is so much weaker than Earth's -- may
have been splashed into space by the huge asteroid impacts which were still
common in those early days of the Solar System.

The current understanding of the interior of Mars suggests that it can be
modeled with a thin crust, similar to Earth's, a mantle and a core. Using
four parameters, the Martian core size and mass can be determined. However,
only three out of the four are known and include the total mass, size of
Mars, and the moment of inertia. Mass and size was determined accurately
from early missions. The moment of inertia was determined from Viking lander
and Pathfinder Doppler data, by measuring the precession rate of Mars. The
fourth parameter, needed to complete the interior model, will be obtained
from future spacecraft missions. With the three known parameters, the model
is significantly constrained. If the Martian core is dense (composed of
iron) similar to Earth's or SNC meteorites thought to originate from Mars,
then the minimum core radius would be about 1300 kilometers. If the core is
made out of less-dense material such as a mixture of sulfur and iron, the
maximum radius would probably be less than 2000 kilometers.

Some of the rest may have been lost when Mars' initial core of liquid iron
cooled down and solidified around 4 billion years ago, shutting off the
planet's magnetic field and thus allowing the "solar wind" of charged
particles racing past the planet to gradually skim away gases from Mars'
thin upper atmosphere.

But the favored view, at least until MGS arrived, was that most of Mars'
early CO2 gradually dissolved into its surface liquid water and then reacted
with Mars' silicate crustal rocks to form solid carbonate minerals.

On Earth, the process of "crustal tectonics" (or, as it's often called,
"continental drift") eventually -- after periods of up to 100 million years
-- drags these surface carbonates down into Earth's hot interior, where
they're broken down by the heat and their CO2 is then belched back up to the
surface by Earth's volcanoes to begin the cycle all over again.

But Mars, because it's smaller than Earth and so has more area relative to
its interior volume, could never store up nearly as much trapped subsurface
heat from the traces of radioisotopes in its rocks.

And since it's that excess internal heat that drives crustal tectonics, Mars
had none -- and so, after most of its CO2 air had been turned into surface
layers of carbonate minerals, it remained in that form permanently.

Its air was gone for good.

And without the greenhouse warming from that dense blanket of CO2, all the
planet's surface water froze solid, forming a layer of permafrost (the
so-called "cryosphere") several kilometers thick.

This process was, of course, gradual.

 Indeed, up to a billion years ago, Mars had occasional titanic
"catastrophic outflows" of subsurface liquid water, caused because the
remaining liquid water in the rock pores of its warmer interior achieved
immense pressure in some lowland areas where there was a linked but
higher-altitude liquid water table in nearby highlands.

When a volcanic spasm or an occasional giant meteor impact cracked the thick
surface shell of permafrost, this water would gush out in immense floods for
hundreds of kilometers, dwarfing any floods on Earth -- but lasting only a
few days before the subsurface water reservoir ran out, and the surface
water froze solid, leaving only the channels formed by the immense brief

Eventually, though -- as both Mars' interior volcanism and its surface
continued to cool -- the cryosphere grew to such a thickness that such
ruptures ceased to occur.

Indeed, by about 3 billion years ago Mars had lost virtually all of its air
-- since, even after all of Mars' surface liquid water froze, some of its
air was still being blasted into space by meteor impacts, stripped away by
the solar wind or turned into subsurface carbonate deposits by the planet's
few remaining volcanic hot springs.

And so Mars' frozen, virtually airless surface became hopelessly
inhospitable to life -- but if life ever did evolve on Mars, there may still
be beds of microscopic fossils and ancient organic material (much better
preserved than Earth's oldest fossils, thanks to Mars' lack of crustal
tectonics and water erosion).

And there may even be Martian microbes surviving today in the remaining
liquid "water table" kilometers below its surface, and perhaps a lot closer
to the surface around any of the planet's remaining geothermally heated
areas for its volcanism has not completely died away even today.

Copyright 2001, SpaceDaily


From SpaceDaily, 1 May 2001

by Bruce Moomaw
Cameron Park - May 1, 2001

At variance to the standard model of an older wet Mars, is a model as
favored by Dr. Victor Baker -- who finds evidence for occasional brief warm
episodes triggered by near-surface volcanism.
The warmth of this volcanism was able, says Baker, to break down the
carbonates where upon additional CO2 stored in the planet's cold subsurface
soil and rocks was released, which when combined with thawed subsurface
water ice was enough to restore Mars to its hospitable glory days for a few
tens of thousands of years.

A romantic picture - yes - but there are some critical problems with it.

Firstly Mars, even in its earliest days, was damned cold, especially since
the Sun was only about 70% as bright 4 billion years ago as it is now.

Even given the greenhouse effect from a dense CO2 atmosphere, it's rather
hard to visualize ancient Mars' surface being above freezing -- save,
perhaps, in local volcanically heated areas, which may explain why its
valley networks are quite rare compared to Earth's ancient riverbeds and
seem to be concentrated in some areas.

When viewed in detail, they also look somewhat different from dried-up
riverbeds on Earth -- for instance, they seem to have far fewer small upper
tributaries draining into them.

And for this reason, many geologists think they were carved not by surface
flows of water but by much slower trickles of water a short distance
underground, which gradually eroded a bigger and bigger underground tunnel
until the roof finally fell in.

This process, called "sapping", requires a lot less water, and it would also
be produced more easily by underground geothermal heat than surface flows of
water would be.

There's also the puzzle of those huge catastrophic outflow channels -- were
there ever really local reservoirs of high-pressure subsurface water on Mars
gigantic enough to carve them? And, last but hardly least, there's an
additional puzzle suspected for most of the Nineties, and dramatically
confirmed by MGS when it began mapping Mars' surface minerals: the
"Carbonate Paradox".

Those huge surface layers of carbonate minerals which should be there today
if Mars' early dense CO2 atmosphere had been destroyed that way simply
aren't there -- judging by the results from MGS, the planet doesn't seem to
have any major carbonate deposits anywhere on its surface at all!

There are several possible explanations for this mystery.

Maybe some process on Mars' surface today (there have been several proposals
about this) breaks carbonates back down into CO2, so that they remain in
stable deposits only a few dozen meters and more below the surface, where
they were formed by the last near-surface volcanic hot springs.

The dozen Mars meteorites we have on Earth today, blasted out of the
planet's crust by giant meteor impacts, do contain small amounts of
carbonates. Or maybe Mars actually did lose most of its air to outer space
instead, thanks to giant impacts and the solar wind -- although there's some
doubt as to whether those processes by themselves could have been efficient

A couple of scientists have even suggested that the "TES" thermal-IR
spectrometer that MGS uses to map Mars' minerals is much less sensitive to
carbonates than had been thought.

But it is still one of the biggest puzzles about Mars.

As you might expect, these puzzles were subjects of furious debate at the
LPSC -- especially since, thanks to the dismal luck of the Mars probes
launched since 1998, most of the recent information we've acquired on Mars
comes from only one spacecraft: Mars Global Surveyor.

Despite Mars Pathfinder's success and its tremendous PR value, it didn't
really tell us all that much new about Mars -- which was to be expected,
since Pathfinder was designed from the start as an engineering test mission.

At LPSC 2001 there were many papers focusing on the exact nature of the
evidence for liquid water found in the Viking orbiters' general maps of
Mars' surface, the tremendously more detailed close up views of small
samples of the surface from MGS' high-powered telephoto camera, and the data
on Mars' mineralogy from its TES and on the exact altitude of Mars' surface
features from its laser altimeter.

Many of them described what looks like additional confirming evidence of
ancient liquid-water features on the surface.

J.M. Dohm described evidence that an "enormous drainage basin" existed
during the early Noachian period, which was filled with layers of
water-borne sediments that were later cut through by the growing Marineris
Valley -- the gigantic system of canyons which is apparently a giant
"stretch mark" produced in Mars' crust by the gradual upheaval of the huge
volcanic "Tharsis Bulge" on one side of the planet.

MGS has photographed dramatic rock layering all the way up the
kilometers-long side of the Valley's canyons, but the majority feeling was
that most of the biggest layers were solidified lava flows rather than
sedimentary layers,..

Perhaps not.

J.A. Grant examined the valley networks in the Margaritifer Sinus region,
the area on Mars where they are most concentrated, and concluded that they
were indeed carved by "sapping" (tunneling by underground water flows)
rather than surface runoff -- but also that the only way such a subsurface
water supply could be adequately replenished was if "widespread
precipitation" in the form of rain or snow occurred in the region and then
seeped into Mars' porous ground.

B.M Hynek concluded from MGS' laser topography maps that the western Arabia
Terra ("Arabia Highlands"), an area the size of Europe, was so eroded by
surface rain that 3 million cubic km of its material was gradually washed
into Mars' low-altitude northern plains.

K.P. Harrison and R.E. Grimm examined the fact that the areas on Mars where
valley networks seem to be most concentrated are also those where MGS'
magnetic sensors -- to everyone's surprise -- found local magnetic fields
which seem to be areas where crustal iron minerals have been permanently
magnetized by Mars' long-vanished early magnetic field.

Since this most easily occurs when molten rock is exposed to a magnetic
field at the same time that it is rapidly cooled into solid form, the
obvious possibility is that rising flows of underground magma may have
collided in these areas with large amounts of groundwater kilometers below
the surface, providing a flow of geothermal hot springs for the valley
networks, and also cooling the magma quickly enough to "freeze" a copy of
Mars' magnetic field into the resulting solid rock before Mars' magnetic
field could reverse polarity (which, like Earth's, it probably did every
million years or less) and thus scramble the permanently recorded "fossil"

D.M. Nelson examined the highlands south of the Elysium Basin -- through
which three especially big channels seem to have carried fluid for a long
period -- and concluded that the area showed signs of having undergone
repeated cycles of geological peace that would have allowed a local layer of
ground ice to build up, and episodes of moderate volcanism just right to
melt the accumulated ice and produce large water flows into Elysium.

And I.E. Thorsos carried out calculations agreeing with the growing belief
of geologists that volcanism wasn't the only substantial source of heat on
early Mars -- the heat produced by the frequent giant impacts that gouged
out the planet's craters during this "Early Bombardment" age of the young
Solar System would in itself be enough to fuel "extensive hydrothermal

James W. Head provided several papers elaborating his belief that, during
part of Mars' "Hesperian" Period -- the middle one of its three major
geological periods, running roughly 3.5 to 2 billion years ago -- Mars'
water-ice polar caps, which had been far bigger, were melting and shrinking
back, leaving behind geological marks on the northern and (especially) the
southern Martian surface that are characteristic of former glaciers.

These, he says, include parallel linear gouge marks, lake beds with the
unusual characteristics of big pools of meltwater underneath a thick glacial
layer of ice, and "eskers" (winding ridges of sediment deposited by
long-lived flows of meltwater trickling along underneath glaciers).

He also claims that some southern mountains have the characteristics of
ancient volcanoes that erupted underneath thick glacial ice, which would
explain why the melt back occurred there.

Jeffrey Kargel went farther, claiming "there are very few 100-meter-size
impact craters superposed on the hypothesized glacial landscapes, indicating
a relatively youthful age of one or more ancient glacial epochs.

Even more surprising is the discovery of intact crevasses and gullies on
some debris-covered glacier-like masses, which argues for a very recent warm
climate time."

Head, however, did backpedal somewhat on one of his most famous claims: that
there is evidence of shoreline features running around the boundary of the
great northern lowland region, which would indicate that the lowlands were
filled with water during Mars' early days to make up an ocean (the "Borealis
Ocean") covering one-third of the planet's surface area.

T.J. Parker had previously described two such "contact features", running
parallel to each other, and proposed that they were the shores of an ocean
which had been filled at two different levels for long periods of time.

Head, in 1999, used MGS' laser topography maps to conclude that "Contact 2"
(though not "Contact 1") did indeed run at the same altitude for hundreds of
km, further suggesting that a Martian "sea level" carved it.

However, in his new LPSC paper, he says" Comprehensive analysis of hundreds
of high-resolution [MGS] images shows little compelling evidence for
features that can confidently be interpreted as shorelines...

We find that evidence for oceans in the northern lowlands in the Hesperian
is ambiguous; that is, it is capable of being understood in two or more
possible senses.

Some properties of contact 2 are consistent with the Parker hypotheses.

However, [its] detailed characteristics provide little supporting
evidence... This might be attributed to post-formation modification, but,
nevertheless, positive supporting evidence at high resolution is not yet

In his overall review of the possible course of Martian history, Bruce
Jakosky agrees that the astonishingly smooth sediment plains that cover much
of the northern lowlands -- which some view as the remains of an ancient
seafloor -- need not be such: "Stripping of Margaritifer Sinus and Arabia
Terra [by waterflows, such as I mentioned earlier] would have provided
sediment to the northern plains... debris would have filled the plains to a
depth of about 120 meters or more, obviating the sedimentological need for a
northern ocean." Parker himself, however, is not backing down.

In another new LPSC paper, he claims that many detailed features in this
area look, in MGS' pictures, just like shoreline remnants along the edges of
the Pleistocene-era "Lake Bonneville" in Utah, which later dried up to leave
the Bonneville salt flats.

Copyright 2001, SpaceDaily


From ABC News, 27 April 2001

Earthquake Alert! Seismologists Experimenting With Quake Notification Via
the Internet

By Melanie Axelrod

April 27 - Warning: Light tremor coming to Los Angeles in approximately 10
Someday soon in southern California, a message like this could appear on
your computer screen.
Seismologists at the California Institute of Technology, the U.S. Geological
Survey and the California Department of Conservation's Division of Mines and
Geology are working on emergency response technology to alert people who
happen to be online when an earthquake is coming.

The three organizations, collectively known as TriNet, are working to form
the Southern California Seismic Network, which would produce data for
emergency response and then transmit messages via e-mail to participating

TriNet aims to get 600 strong motion sensors working together with 150
broadband Internet sensors to give citizens a warning that an earthquake may
be coming. The $21 million-plus project has been sponsored by the Federal
Emergency Management Agency with additional funding from the state of
California and other technological partners such as GTE, Pacific Bell and
Sun Microsystems Inc.

If TriNet is able to do what it proposes, southern California would become
the most heavily monitored earthquake-prone area in the country, boasts the

"[At TriNet] we're developing the capabilities to show how to predict the
nature of strong shaking," said Thomas Heaton, a professor of seismology at
CalTech who is involved with the TriNet program.

One Minute Warning- Or Less

As a first step, CalTech is now working on software that would broadcast
online quake warnings to emergency workers and local authorities.

Jim Davis, chief of the California Division of Mines and Geology, says that
the sensors will ultimately be able to relay computerized messages almost
instantaneously once any type of shaking is felt.

"When an earthquake begins to occur, the fault begins to rupture," said
Davis. "'We plan to monitor these areas with nearby sensors, and use the
sensors' readings to estimate the source of the earthquake." One major task
of the project will be in ensuring the messages are sent quickly since
earthquakes happen fast. For example, it would take about 75 seconds for an
earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 to travel 130 miles from its epicenter to
the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

Seventy-five seconds (or less than that) isn't a lot of time, but the
experts assert that if everyone's Internet connection is working, it could
be enough warning to evacuate a school, or even shut down vulnerable
segments of the city's power grid.

"In a typical situation, there's only about 10 seconds or so of notification
to Internet users about the type of earthquake that is coming. The question
that's still unanswered is if there's anything you can do with the seconds
that is useful," Heaton said.

We Have the Technology...

David Simpson, president of Incorporation of Research Institutions for
Seismology (IRIS) in Washington, D.C., says the technology for this kind of
project is available, although, he cautions, the system could lead to some
inconvenient false alarms. And, he adds, it would have to be directed at the
right people in order to be effective.

"This program is aimed at situations that are heavily automated," he said.
"On the time-scale that we are talking about - seconds, not minutes or hours
- this information would be best suited for people who can control
electricity, or elevators."
Copyright 2001, ABC News


From C Blanco <>

ANNOUNCEMENT FOR  the "CERES 2001" Workshop

Astrometry and Physics of Minor Planets from Observational Networks

to be held in Paris, France  on October 9-12 , 2001

A workshop dedicated to the bicentenary of the discovery of Ceres by Piazzi
is proposed to be held in October 2001 in Paris, France, organized by the
Institut de mecanique celeste/ Observatoire de Paris.

This workshop plans to gather professional and amateur astronomers
interested in asteroids and more generally in small bodies of the solar
system, modeling motions, studying physical properties of these objects and
observing through networks. The goal of this workshop is also to
review the techniques used at present time for the observations of
asteroids. The proposed topics of the workshop are:

   * Astrometric observations of the asteroids: towards a better accuracy

   * Prediction and observation of stellar occultations by asteroids:
increasing the efficiency  
    of the observers networks

   * Photometric observations of asteroids: shape and spin axis

   * Satellites of asteroids, binary asteroids: towards the detection of new

   * Observation of other Solar System small bodies

   * Networks of observers: what to expect from new technologies?

More information at:

The registration fee is: 600 French Francs (91.60 Euros) and includes
lunches, coffee breaks and the proceedings of the workshop

Some partial financial supports will be available. If you need some, please,
send a demand with your registration form.



From Duncan A. Lunan <>

    From Ron Baalke <baalke@ZAGAMI.JPL.NASA.GOV>

"The idea that what humans witnessed and chronicled in 1178 A.D. was
a major meteor impact that created the 22-kilometer (14-mile) lunar crater
called Giordano Bruno is myth, a University of Arizona graduate
student has discovered... Such an impact would have resulted in a
blinding, blizzard-like, week-long meteor storm on Earth - yet there are no
such accounts in any known historical record, including the European,
Chinese, Arabic, Japanese and Korean astronomical archives, Withers
said. [...] Yet no vigilant 12th century sky watcher reported such a

Dear Benny,

On the contrary, there is at least one 1178 record and several possible
ones. These are extracts from the discussion of it in my latest book, which
is now on offer to Random House:

"Ralph of Coggeshall's chronicle doesn't mention either the lunar
event or the eclipse of 1178, but he describes the finding of St.
Alban's relics that year. To it another hand has added the words 'et
lapides pluebant - and stones rained down'.(29)

"About 1% of the ejecta, hurled up from the lunar surface, would
exceed the Moon's escape velocity.(3) The 'sparks' which were seen
flying off into space must have been big, and there are two asteroids in
orbits which could have originated in lunar impacts. The one designated
1991 VG is about ten metres across, though it has some odd features which
I'll come back to in Chapter 21;  1999 CG9 is even larger, between 220
and 380 metres in

"But some would have less than the combined escape velocity for the
Earth and Moon.(3)   Because they were from the Moon's trailing
hemisphere, some of those could fall on Earth as secondary impacts.
Since the Moon was near the Ecliptic, in June, its declination
(terrestrial latitude, projected on to the sky) would be 23 - 24o North.
Debris from Giordano Bruno crater, at 37o.7 Lunar North, could fall in
England  (and in France?) but it depends on the angles of impact and
of the secondaries' ejection from the lunar surface. Around 1200, there
were big meteorite falls in Nebraska (31) and perhaps in New Zealand. (32)
They might have been secondary impacts, or pieces of comet which missed the
Moon altogether: Nebraska is 10o south of southern England, and New
Zealand close to the Antipodes."

In addition::

"Laser retroreflectors, taken to the Moon by Apollo astronauts and
Soviet Lunokhods, show that the Moon's orbital position is still
oscillating from one or more big impact(s) within the last thousand
years, producing a libration of the Moon in its orbit by 15 metres.(18)
Such effects were predicted in the 19th century but not found, proving that
the Moon had not been struck by any impacting body with more than one
100,000th of the Earth's mass.(19)   Now we know how low comet masses
are, that has proved quite true, although the size of the crater
indicates that the energy released was around 100,000 megatons."

If the event reported by Gervase of Canterbury wasn't the impact that
generated the Moon's extra libration, it would have to have happened at some
other time, and there should have been falls of secondaries on Earth then
too. I'm not aware of a better candidate event than the 1178 one - does
anyone out there have candidate ones?

Nor, of course, does Withers explain why the monks said it happened twelve
times or more in rapid succession, and why they described what sounds like a
dust veil spreading round the Moon - buoyed up by a temporary atmosphere?

References are:

3.  Derral Mulholland & Odile Calame, 'Lunar Crater Giordano Bruno',
Science 199, 875-877 (24th Feb. 1978).
18.  Derral Mulholland, 'How High the Moon:  a Decade of Laser Ranging',
Sky & Telescope, 60, 4, 274-279  (Oct. 1980).
19.  François Arago, "Popular Astronomy", Longman, Brown, Green, Longman
& Roberts, 1858;  Mike Baillie, "Exodus to Arthur, Catastrophic Encounters
with Comets", revised edition, Batsford, 2000.
29.  J. Stephenson, ed., Ralph of Coggeshall, "Chronicon Anglicanum",
Rolls Series No.66, Longman & Co., London, 1875.
30.  Robert Uhlig, 'Chunk of Moon Rock Seen Orbiting the Sun', The Daily
Telegraph, 25th February 1999.
31. (Anon), 'Nebraska Crater Only a Pup', Astronomy Now, 8, 2, 13  (Feb.
32.  Duncan Steel & Peter Snow, 'The Tapanui Region of New Zealand: Site
of a 'Tunguska' Around 800 Years Ago?', in A. Harris & E. Bowell, eds.,
"Asteroids, Comets, Meteors 1991", Lunar & Planetary Institute,
Houston, Texas, 1992.

As the book is already under consideration by publishers, any comments would
be appreciated!

Best wishes,

Duncan Lunan.

From Mike Baillie <>
perhaps I could inject a little something with respect to the Gervase 1178
moon impact business.
Withers reports that had there been a significant moon there would have been
a week-long meteor storm comparable to the peak of the 1966 Leonids
"Everyone around the world would have had the opportunity to see the best
fireworks show in history" "Yet no vigilant 12th century sky
watcher reported such a storm."
Well now, that may not strictly be the case. The first question to ask is
what level of record would be acceptable. We are talking about the 12th
century after all and record keeping wasn't quite up to modern standards.
Would Withers accept a record of something falling from the
sky in the month of June 1178 as just possibly being in support of a lunar
impact. I ask because there is just such a record and it is in Britton's
1937 listing. It goes as follows:
"1178 Hailstones about June 24" (Britton's interpretation)
Boece, the source, however said this:
Neirby this tyme now that ze heir me mene
In Albione (Scotland) greit wonderis (great wonders) than wes sene
At midsomer (mid-summer), as my autho did tell,
Of hailstanis ane felloun schour that fell;
Quhilk stonis war of so greit quantitie;
Bayth man and beist, bot gif my author lie,
Beand thairout als lang as it did lest
Throw violence of that schour wer oprest
rough translation of last 5 lines
Of hailstones one foul shower that fell
Which stones were of so great quantity
Both man and beast , (but if my author lie)?
Bent throughout as long as it did last
Through (the) violence of that shower were oppressed
So, here, very close indeed to the Gervase "moon impact" record is recorded
a shower of hail that was noteworthy enough to be called a great wonder. On
past form this will be dismissed as just a coincidental hailstorm. However,
given the fragility of the historical record when it comes to matters
environmental, and given the fact that observers of a major shower of
material from the sky may not be that critical in their analysis of exactly
what the shower is composed of (being intent on avoiding it as in this case
they obviously were), the fact that a notable shower takes place at the
predicted time means that the moon impact cannot be dismissed out of hand.
Mike Baillie


From E.P. Grondine <>

Hello Benny -

I want to take a minute before getting started with this piece to thank
Duncan Steel for generously leaving criticism of NASA NEO programs to US
citizens such as myself, and for the courage he showed in letting pass by
the opportunity to comment on the relative merits of spending public moneys
on the NEO hazard or on manned Mars missions. Thanks ever so much, Duncan!

What prompts this note are some common misconceptions that many hold about
NASA and NEOs. The major misconception is that NASA is taking a leading role
in the NEO search, while in point of fact, NASA was dragged kicking and
screaming into the NEO search by physicist and Representative George Brown
(Democrat, California), who has since passed on.

Brown's involvement with the problem started in 1991, following an approach
to him by Gene Shoemaker and David Morrison; Brown managed to get funding
authorized, and explicit instuctions issued to NASA for a study to try and
define the NEO threat, and he moved this legislation through both the House
and the Senate, giving it force of law. Undoubtedly Brown was aided in this
effort by his fellow Representative from California on the other side of the
aisle, Representative Dana Rohrabacher (Republican). While it was likely
that NASA would set up a NEO center in California (Brown and Rohrabacher's
home state), given David Morrison's involvement it was viewed as likely that
this center would be set up at the Ames Research Center in the San Francisco
area; however, significant work for this project would flow to the
California Institute of Technology's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, located near
both Brown and Rohrabacher's home districts (ridings).

The second widely held misconception is that it was not intended for the NEO
search to include comets. When Morrison and Shoemaker returned the report in
1994, Brown (and Rohrabacher) managed to get an ammedment attached to the
House bill which directed NASA to establish a center to find both asteroids
*and* comets above 1 kilometer in diameter. Brown was a physicist, and he
set the NEO definition by the hazard as he then understood it: anything,
either asteroid or comet, which could send mankind the way of the dinosaur.
The limiting of the definition of NEO only to asteroids was a later NASA
addition, as they sought to spend as little as they possibly could on the

NASA did respond favorably at first to Brown and Rohrabacher's amendment,
but in the proposed legislation it was not assigned the search task alone,
but was to undertake the task in conjuction with the Air Force: Shoemaker
was calling in the chips owed him by the Department of Defense for his
earlier work eliminating expensive false alerts caused by high altitude
asteroid and comet detonations. Brown's proposed ammendment, while
intructing NASA to take up the task, also explicitly instructed NASA to
co-ordinate its efforts with those of the Department of Defense.

Following this brief hope, for reasons which I do not know, Brown's (and
Rohrabacher's?) efforts to move the House's ammendment through the Senate
failed: thus the instruction lacked force of law, and NASA abandoned work in
the area as quickly as it possibly could. Why did NASA do this?  Simply
because NASA had wished to remain focused on manned Mars flight for quite
some time. To my knowledge, NASA Administrator Dan Goldin, whose first job
in aerospace was working on a manned Mars mission using Saturn 5 launchers,
and who has otherwise performed excellently in a most difficult job, has
absolutely no idea of the scale of the hazard faced from asteroid and
cometary impact.

There matters sat until 1998. Director James Cameron's plans to film an
impact movie, "Dark Angel", had led to the beginning of work on two similar
films, "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon".  When released, these films would
lead to public inquiry, and Brown managed to get a House Space Sub-committe
hearing held on NASA's failure to respond to the impact hazard. While the
hearings gave Brown and other Representatives an opportunity to express
their displeasure at NASA's failure to do much of anything at all about
impact threat, once again there was no legislation passed through the

What finally forced NASA to respond was not this hearing, but rather the
public's reaction following the release of the movies "Deep Impact" and
"Armageddon". When NASA did respond, it did so in a way which insured that
it would have to spend as little as possible on the problem. First, by
taking voluntary action, NASA avoided explicit legislation from the House
and Senate which would have definitively assigned NASA the task of finding
these things. By this pre-emptive action NASA also left itself able to shed
the NEO search task at any time an opportunity to do so presented itself in
the future.

NASA established the NEO office under Don Yeomans at JPL, and funded it at
$3 million dollars for its first year, up from the $1 million dollars they
had spent on the NEO problem in the previous year, out of their yearly
budgets of around $13,750 million dollars. This decision had several
effects. The award of the NEO office to JPL infuriated Morrison, who had
spent over 8 years of his life in trying to get the NEO office established
at the Ames Research Center near San Francisco, and who had been one of the
US's leading advocates for the NEO search. NASA management diverted both
Morrison's anger and attention by assigning Ames the "Astrobiology
Institute", which has as one of its emphasis, if not its main emphasis, the
search for life on Mars. That this diversion has been effective may be
judged by Morrison's inauspicious comments earlier this year on the UK 3.5
meter telescope proposal, and more recently by his sadly misinformed
statements on the lack of NELE's (Near Extinction Level Events) within the
last 5 million years.

By this point, NASA had 1) managed to avoid explicit legislation assigning
it the NEO search, 2) managed to assign the task to a sub-contractor, JPL,
an institution which was not a NASA center, and 3) managed to divert
Morrison, all of which insured that it would have to spend as little as it
possibly could on the problem of finding these things. I may be mistaken
about this, but it was now that NASA further reduced its responsibilites for
the search effort by removing comets from the list of threatening NEOs, as
though by this fiat they actually reduced the danger
presented by cometary impactors.

Now NASA had another stroke of good luck. Grant Stokes had begun to work on
implementing a technique for obtaining asteroid data from the Air Force's
GEODSS telescopes, using data which had previously simply been thrown out.
The LINEAR system soon took a commanding lead in the search for near Earth
asteroids. Note that the marginal cost of the LINEAR system, $1 million,
was paid for entirely by the Air Force, and there had been no NASA
participation, involvement, or support.

For his part Yeomans was doing a magnificent job with the completely
inadequate resources NASA gave him to deal with the problem, focusing the
extremely limited moneys allocated by NASA on updating the CCD sensors and
computers available to existing NEA search programs. This aid was also given
to the LINEAR team, and soon NASA press releases crowed about the success of
the "NASA supported" or "NASA funded" LINEAR effort.

While NASA did increase the money available to Yeomans to $7 million dollars
in the following year, out of a budget of $14,000 million dollars, this
ammount was known to be insufficient.  Once again NASA management enjoyed a
stroke of good luck, as David Packard Jr., son of David Packard of
electronics manufacturer Hewlitt-Packard, became aware of the impact hazard,
and began to fund NEO search efforts through the Packard Foundation. His
initial donations went to the University of Arizona's Spacewatch telescopes
at Kitt Peak, and his money, combined with that of NASA and the Air Force,
allowed for substantial upgrades to the facilites there. (For further
information, including that on other private contributors, see  Thus once again NASA
was able to take credit for yet another "NASA funded" and "NASA supported"

A final important thing to remember when examining NASA statements about the
scale of their  response to the NEO threat is that the moneys claimed always
include the cost of probes to asteroids and comets. That these probes are
providing extremely valuable data is beyond doubt; but it is also beyond
doubt that this data will be essentially valueless unless the next
impactor is spotted before it hits.  It needs to be clearly understood that
while NASA is always looking for opportunities to support US launch
manufacturers by buying their launch vehicles, that does not mean that NASA
management actually comprehends the impact hazard in either real terms or in
an operational manner.

The effects of these earlier NASA decisions are being played out today, and
some of these effects I will cover in my next dispatch. In closing this
note, I want to mention another piece of good luck that NASA had in its
attempts to avoid responsibility for dealing with the NEO hazard.

Following shortly upon heart surgery, Representative George Brown died on 15
July, 1999.

Best wishes -

1991 statement from the House Committee on Science and Technology as enacted
in the NASA Authorization Bill:

The chances of the Earth being struck by a large asteroid are extremely
small, but since the consequences of such a collision are extremely large,
the Committee believes it is only prudent to assess the nature of the threat
and prepare to deal with it. We have the technology to detect such asteroids
and to prevent their collision with the Earth.

The Committee therefore directs that NASA undertake two workshop studies.
The first would define a program for dramatically increasing the detection
rate of Earth-orbit-crossing asteroids; this study would address the costs,
schedule, technology, and equipment required for precise definition of the
orbits of such bodies. The second study would define systems and
technologies to alter the orbits of such asteroids or to destroy them if
they should pose a danger to life on Earth. The Committee recommends
international participation in these studies and suggests that they be
conducted within a year of the passage of this legislation.

1994 statement from the House Committee on Science and Technology passed as
an ammedment to the House version of the NASA Authorization bill:

Catalogue of Earth-Threatening Comets and Asteroids

(a) Requirement -- To the extent practicable, the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration, in coordination with the Department of Defense and the
space agencies of other countries, shall identify and catalogue within 10
years the orbital characteristics of all comets and asteroids that are
greater than 1 km in diameter and are in an orbit around the sun that
crosses the orbit of the Earth.

(b) Program Plan -- By February 1, 1995, the [NASA] Administrator shall
submit to the Congress a program plan, including estimated budgetary
requirements for fiscal years 1996 through 2000,
to implement subsection (a).

Donald L. Savage   Headquarters, Washington, D.C.  August 3, 1994
RELEASE:  94-128

NASA today announced the establishment of a committee which will develop a
plan to identify and catalogue, to the extent practicable within 10 years,
all comets and asteroids which may threaten Earth.

Dr. Eugene Shoemaker was appointed as Chairman of the eight-member
Near-Earth Object Search Committee. Shoemaker, an astronomer with the Lowell
Observatory and professor emeritus with the U.S. Geological Survey, also was
co-discoverer of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 which collided with Jupiter last

The committee was formed in response to Congressional direction to NASA to
develop a plan in coordination with the Department of Defense and the space
agencies of other countries.  The plan's objective is to identify and
catalogue, to the extent practicable, the orbital characteristics of all
comets and asteroids greater than about 1/2 mile (1 kilometer) in diameter
in orbit around the sun that cross the orbit of the Earth. The plan is to
include estimated budgetary requirements for fiscal years 1996 through 2000.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology,
Representative George Brown, introduced the legislation as an amendment to
the NASA Authorization Bill. The amendment calls for the NASA Administrator
to submit the plan to the Congress by Feb. 1, 1995.  Also appointed to the
committee are:

Dr. Jurgen H. Rahe, Executive Secretary, NASA Headquarters, Wash., D.C.
Dr. Gregory Canavan, Dept. of Energy Los Alamos National Laboratory, N.M.
Dr. Alan J. Harris, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Dr. David Morrison, NASA Ames Research Center, Mountain View, Calif.
Dr. David L. Rabinowitz, Carnegie Institution, Wash., D.C.
Dr. Michael J. Mumma, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
Col. Simon P. Worden, U.S. Air Force Space Command, Colorado Springs,Colo.


From E.P. Grondine

Hello Benny -

Those who read my coverage of last year's Goddard Symposium (available in
the CCNet Archives) may remember my endorsements there of both the American
Astronautical Society and their annual Goddard Memorial Syposium; this year,
once again, neither disappointed. The symposium's theme this year was "2001:
A Transitional Space Odyssey", and the title reflected what is currently a
very essential goal for many here: how to "odyssey" the "transition" from
the Clinton administration's space programs to the space programs of the
Bush Jr administration.

While I learned a great deal about Bush Jr's and NASA's plans for space, I
think that CCNet participants will find Ed Weiler's presentation on the
goals of NASA's Space Science directorate, and the brief interview on the
NEO hazard I had with him afterwards, to be of the most immediate interest.


The Goddard Symposium provided me with my first opportunity to get to know
Dr. Ed Weiler, Wesley Huntress's replacement as Associate Administrator for
Space Science. Weiler received his Ph.D. in astrophysics from Northwestern
University in January 1976, and following his graduation, Princeton
University chose Weiler to be a member of their research staff. They  based
him at NASA'S Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, as director of
science operations for the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory-3 (COPERNICUS).

Two years later, in 1978, Dr. Weiler joined the NASA headquarters staff as a
staff scientist, and was promoted to Chief of Ultraviolet/Visible and
Gravitational Astrophysics in 1979. At that time he became the Program
Scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope, a position he has held since then.
In March 1996 Weiler was appointed as Science Director of the Astronomical
Search for Origins and Planetary Systems theme within the Office of Space
Science, and he was named Associate Administrator for Space Science in 1998.

You will notice no mention of recent NEO work in Dr. Weiler's curiculum
vitae, and it showed.


Weiler began his presentation with a list of the four big questions NASA is
currently working on, as he put them: "How did the universe begin and
evolve?, "How did we get here?, "Where are we going?, and "Are we alone?.
Note that "Will we survive?" was not on the list.

The bulk of Weiler's talk concerned Mars and the preliminaries for manned
flight to Mars. NASA's strategy for Mars was to look for life, and to follow
the water. NASA would seek life on Mars, perform in-situ studies, and
finally return Martian samples to the Earth for study. Weiler did not
discuss what would happen if NASA did find life on Mars, and how it would
then deal with the problem of back-contamination.

Weiler mentioned CO2 products, along with the traditional water and
hydrocarbons, and this indicated his growing awareness of the fact that CO2
plays the major role as a working fluid in current geology processes on
Mars. He immediately returned to the subject of water, pointing out that
during manned missions it could be used both for fuel and for drinking

It is interesting to note that Weiler made no mention of the recently
discovered information which NASA Associate Administrator Joe Rothenberg had
covered in a talk earlier in the day: the radiation levels and types
occuring in deep space have been found to be so high that with the current
shielding technologies, manned flight to Mars would be either lethal to the
crew or very close to it. NASA Administrator Dan Goldin also commented on
this finding during his presentation last week to the House Science
Committee, and his comments on the radiation problem may be viewed through
the recording of the hearing available at the House Science Committee's
internet site by any here further interested in the problem of manned flight
ot Mars.


Weiler was not all Mars, however, and he spoke for some time about the
problems NASA was having in finding physicists to staff its "Living with a
Star" programs. He compared the situation with the decline of Rome, and said
that the Office of Space Science was trying to do its part by
dedicating 1-3% of its budget to education.

I'm sure a large number of US citizens here wish him the best of luck with
this, and also share with him that sinking feeling in their guts that
something is seriously wrong here. It's just my opinion, and that of some
teachers who I know, but many here think that Bush Jr's plan to privatize
eduction is not going to do much to fix either the problems of racism and
its effects on school funding, or the general social malaise, including the
shunning of both responsibility and hard work, and the glorification of
violence and immediate satisfaction. Without going into the issue of why
this is not the Department of Education's responsibility, and while Weiler's
money may be the equivalent of p*****g into a hurricane, we can all bless
him for trying.


During the question period following his talk, I asked Dr. Weiler whether
his list of questions might have left off the important one, which is "Will
we survive?", and I asked him whether NASA would make more money available
for the NEO search.

Weiler said that this question formed part of the theme "Where are we
going?" He further added that the budget would restrict the NEO search to
that already set in the "Blueprint": find 90% of all NEOs over 1 kilometer
in diameter. He went on to state that a 3 to 4 kilometer impactor was
required for an extinction level event, and he described an impactor of 500
meter diameter as being a "city buster". Weiler continued that in his
opinion there was no way to find comets, and that with only a 2 to 3 month
(60 to 90 day) warning of their approach he did not think that we could do
anything. He closed his remarks by bringing up the idea that Mars could
serve as a "lifeboat" in such an event.

Immediately after the session Dr. Weiler kindly discussed the NEO problem
with me for some time. Here I need to thank my old, old friend Saunders
Kramer for giving up his own questions and graciously allowing me the use of
Dr. Weiler's time.

I apologized to Weiler that I did not wish to seem rude, but his thinking on
the problem reflected the state of our knowledge about 15 years ago. Instead
of being offended, he asked me how, and I brought up the fact that it took a
much smaller impactor than 3 to 4 kilometers to cause extinctions, and that
city busters went down to 75 meters or so. Weiler acknowledged that I was
correct. My immediate opininon, which was reinforced later by some of his
other comments, was that this reflected a fundamental disconnection and
survival mechanism in Weiler's mental
processes: as he can not figure out a way to deal with the impact danger, he
quite conveniently "forgets" fundamental aspects of it, relying instead on
vague memories leftover from his graduate education.

I continued, mentioning to him that current analysis by Russian scientists
has shown that the Moon would make a better life boat than Mars, and that
nuclear physicists were working on the problem and had determined that it
was possible to stop or deflect these things.

Having finished with the preliminaries, and in anticipation of the problems
the UK would face as a result of both Mad Cow Disease and the Foot And Mouth
outbreak, I asked Weiler if NASA would "buy in" on the UK NEO telescope, and
he told me "No way in Hell." This was not directed at me,
and as he smiled, I smiled too, and I confirmed that this was exactly his
position, and that I could use it as a quote for you.

My opinion about the defense mechanism incorporated in Weiler's thinking was
reinforced by the fact that he immediately asked me why we did not bother
the National Science Foundation (NSF) about the NEO hazard, as they had
responsibility for ground based telescopes. He mentioned an agreement (a
Memoranda of Understanding) between NASA and the NSF which gave NASA
responsibility for space based telescopes, and the National Science
Foundation responsibility for ground based telescopes

To put it mildly, I was stunned to the core, and try as I did, I could not
do a very good job of hiding it. I had never realized this fact, as from the
time (1997) when I first started to study the effects of relatively small
historical impacts, I had always seen the House Space Sub-Committe call in
NASA to account for why they had not undertaken the NEO survey which the
Sub-Committee members had suggested to them; the Sub-Committee had never
called in anyone from the NSF. In all of the testimony, I had never heard
anyone from NASA, or anyone else for that matter, suggest even once, not
once, that it was the National Science Foundation's job to perform the NEO
survey, and not NASA's. I had never heard anyone from NASA suggest to the
Sub-Committe members that they needed specific authorizing legislation to do
this survey; I had never heard Dr. Huntress bring the matter up; and
finally, I had watched NASA set up its NEO Office under Don Yeomans out at
JPL without anyone from NASA raising either the issue of the NSF's role or
of the need for enabling legislation.

In an earlier note I covered the history of Representatives George Brown'
and Dana Rohrabacher's efforts to get NASA to actually do something about
the NEO danger, as well as NASA's efforts to do as little as they possibly
could about it. Based on the observation that from their
statements it was the legislators' intent that NASA undertake this task,
clearly NASA did not violate its legislative authority in establishing the
NEO office. Further, while I am not a lawyer, my understanding of these
matters is that legislation, the interpretation of which includes accounting
for the legislators' intents as expressed during the drafting of that
legislation, always takes precedence over any agreement between excutive
agencies, such as a Memoranda of Understanding.


The issues Dr. Weiler raised in his response were immediately at hand for
him, though I did not know it at the time. After the first Bush Jr budget
release in February, had reported that there was a call for the
National Science Foundation and NASA to set up a "Blue Ribbon" panel to
"study" transfering all of NSF's observatory programs to the NASA Office of
Space Science. Unfortunately, during this time I had been recovering from
the rear ending of my Benz, and was enjoying the side effects of the
Flexeril prescribed for strained neck muscles; I had missed the story.

Later on at the symposium I learned from Lori Garver that this study had
been ordered by the White House's Office of Management and Budget. It now
appears that the White House's Office of Management and Budget had not been
exactly delighted with the National Academy of Sciences earlier requests for
moneys for new telescopes, and had ordered the Blue Ribbon report shortly
after it had received the NAS's telescope requests. The Blue Ribbon report
is due September 1, 2001, and in reality it is not so much a report, as a
study on how to do it: it is the President's, or at least OMB's, intention
that all observatory programs are to be combined and included under the NASA

Several points need raised now. With the exception of Carolyn Shoemaker, I
do not think that any impact specialists were included on the National
Academy of Sciences telescope team, as at that time it was probably believed
by the NAS that NASA had taken over responsibility for NEO
detection efforts. Thus with the exception of her telescope for finding
comets as they entered the solar system, no requests for other impactor
detection telescopes were included in the initial NAS report.

Second, I can't identify any impact specialists from among the Blue Ribbon
team's members:

Norman Augustine, Chairman; Lewis M. Branscomb, Harvard University; D. Allan
Bromley, Yale University; Claude R. Canizares, Massachusetts Institute of
Technology; Sandra M. Faber, University of California at Santa Cruz; Robert
D. Gehrz, University of Minnesota; Philip R. Goode, New Jersey Institute of
Technology; Burton Richter, Stanford University; Anneila I. Sargent,
California Institute of Technology; Frank H. Shu, University of California
at Berkeley; Maxine F. Singer, Carnegie Institution of Washington; and
Robert E. Williams, Space Telescope Institute.

Third, the National Science Foundation budgets roughly $200 million annually
for ground-based astronomy. I don't know how much, if any, of this money
goes for NEO searches, but I'm fairly sure that whatever the amount is, it
must be trivial. Perhaps others here have a more accurate idea of the
amounts, or lack therof.

The final item which needs to be noted here is that in the United States the
allocation of money for telescopes and observatories is controlled by
cosmologists, and that those seeking ways of dealing with the impact hazard
play quite close to no role in deciding how these moneys are spent.


To put it mildy, Weiler's declaration stunned me. Shifting tact, I pitched
him a sympathetic question, agreeing that the use of nuclear charges to stop
these things was clearly outside of NASA's competence. Weiler agreed:
"Charges...  ...I can't even fly an RTG. Do you know what I go
through?", and I nodded my head.

Weiler paused and immediately stated, "Get me some legislation, then we can
do it - then we can do it." I raised the point that Representative Brown of
California had died, and that there was no one there now, and Weiler agreed
but added that Representative Rohrabacher would occasionally
get on him about this.

I think that Weiler's conflicting statements, first his request for aid in
getting enabling legislation, and second, his statement referring to
Rohrabacher "getting on" him further reflect what I consider to be Weiler's
own frustration at his inability to deal with the impact threat.  It is also
interesting to note that Weiler thinks it is the responsibility of those of
us concerned about the NEO threat to get clarifying legislation, rather than
NASA's responsibility.


As I am still recovering from having my car hit, I myself do not intend to
undertake any lobbying role at this time, but intend to devote such time as
I have available after trying to get my affairs back in order to studies of
historical impact events; to tell the truth, right now I really don't have
much energy left over for providing you with coverage of events in

Of course, this won't deter me from now making some minor suggestion to
those who do intend to lobby on this issue. For those who are going to
lobby, it is necessary that they make sure that at least some members of the
Blue Ribbon telescope panel are aprised of the full extent of the impact
danger. Claude R. Canizares, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, may be
familiar with Grant Stokes' work on LINEAR, and may be the best point of
contact, perhaps through Stokes; Shu sounds familiar, but I can't place from

Obviously, from Weiler's statement, on the House side Representative
Rohrabacher is still interested in the issue, and I think he could be
persuaded to move with even just a little bit of support; on the Senate
side, Senator George Allen (Republican, Virginia, and Senate Space Committee
Chairman) is somewhat aware of the danger, as the geology caused by the
Chesapeake Bay Impact is having an effect today on Virginia's fresh water
supplies. As for the other members, someone of David Packard Jr's stature
and wealth could probably prove invaluable in gaining their attention and
raising their awareness of the extreme danger we face from impactors.

All I can do in addition to this is to wish you all good luck, and finally
suggest that maybe a public relations event would work. Decide to name the
newly equiped Spacewatch telescope in Arizona after the late Representative
George Brown. Schedule the dedication ceremony at a time
convenient for George Brown's widow, Don Yeomans, Ed Weiler, David Packard
Jr, and most importantly, Representative Rohrabacher and whoever else from
the Congress you could get to attend. Either fly them by Meteor Crater, or
arrange for a short trip to it if convenient. Mention your problem to them
while they are there.


As I was becoming more and more stunned, I barely managed to ask Weiler
about Carolyn Shoemaker's cometary telescope. He reminded me that this was
from the National Academy of Science's telescope request list, and then
emphasized again this was a ground based telescope, which would come under
National Science Foundation purvue.

At this point I was no longer able to carry on the interview, as the
implications of everything Weiler had just told me were only then starting
to sink in. I closed the interview off by confirming with Weiler once again
that the top NASA staff had met with Bush Jr, and then suggested to him that
Bush Jr would be unable to replace Dan Goldin for several months to come. 
Weiler told me that to his knowledge Goldin was not going to be replaced,
and asked me if I had thought Goldin was acting like a man who was going to
be replaced. I confirmed his statements, offered him my short list of
suspected recent historical impact events, which he took and at least took a
brief look at, and thanked him for the interview.


During his luncheon speech the following day Bob Walker informed the meeting
that Bush Jr was interviewing candidates to replace Dan Goldin as NASA

Why Bush Jr will not replace Goldin for some time, and why no one wants the
job, are issues which I could report on in great detail later, if the
Conference participants feel they'd really like to know more about them. In
brief, the concerns are that Bush Jr may not be able to negotiate an
agreement with Russia to mutually deploy ballistic missile defense systems,
and that this may lead to Russia withdrawing from the International Space
Station. If this occurs, as long as Goldin is Administrator, Bush Jr will
have him available to offer up to the more staunch conservatives, who for
some time have been blaming Goldin for involving Russia in the station.

As to the validity of this scenario, it is important to remember that Goldin
took the job of NASA Administrator at Bush Snr.'s request, and that Bush
Snr. made the decision to involve Russia in the ISS. My estimate is that
with full knowledge of the risk, and even though fatigued by some 10
years of public service, Goldin has agreed to stay on until the outcome of
these negotiations becomes clear. I also think that Bush Jr is not a man of
so low a caliber as to let attacks continue for too long, should any
opportunity for them arise in the first place.

Should any of this happen, the job of NASA Administrator, which normally
leaves its possessor under attack from the left for wasting money on space,
under attack from the more extreme space cases for not flying men off to
Mars immediately, and under pressure from every Representative and Senator
to deliver more work to their own home districts or states, will become even
less desirable.

I expect a new NASA Administrator to be named after completion of the
ballistic missile defense negoitations with Russia, and this may be expected
to occur within the next year.

I don't know whether or not a new NASA Administrator automatically replaces
the Associate Administrator for Space Science.



Most, but not all, of the impact events listed here await detailed
confirmation by field geologists; some are currently known fairly well, and
are indicated by the lack of accompanying "?". Known impacts which resulted
in no or few deaths are indicated by "miss". Detailed information, as well
pointers to internet sites, the current state of research into each separate
impact event may be found in the Cambridge Conference archives maintained by
Bob Kobres at

"A collision capable of causing localized destruction.
Such events occur somewhere between once per 50 years and once per 1000

Suspected and Known:
ca. 1584 BCE - Destruction of Hittite forces under T'e Hantilish (Joshua
ca. 520 BCE - Destruction of Etruscan capitol city of Volsinii?
ca. 1 BCE - Brenham, Kansas
ca. 679 CE - Destruction of Colingiham Monastery?
ca. 800 CE - Impact in the Baltic Sea and death by local tsunami?
ca. 1000 CE (give or take a hundred years) - destruction of major Native
American center
     along the Saint Lawrence River?
ca. 1321-1368 CE Erh River fall in China?
1450 CE - miss in Wabar, Saudi Arabia
1490 CE - Ch'ing-yang fall kills over 10,000 (possibly hail)?
1868 CE - miss near Pultusk, Poland
1908 CE - miss (2 dead) in Tunguska, Russia
1930 CE - miss in jungle of Brazil
1947 CE - miss at Sikhote Ailin in Kamchatka, Russia
1972 CE - miss in South West Pacific

"A collision capable of causing regional devastation.
Such events occur between once per 1,000 years and once per 100,000 years."

Suspected and Known:
ca. May 10, 2807 BCE - Masse sets this as the date of the Indian Ocean
impact and resulting tsunami?
ca. 300 BCE - Destruction of Ainu? Jomon ends in southern Japan, appearance
of Yayoi culture
ca. 500 CE - Impact tsunami hits western Australia
580 CE - Destruction of Bordeaux region and city of Orleans?
[omited: 585 CE - Destruction of "two islands in the sea"?]
ca. 750 CE - Great Raft formation, Louisiana, but unknown if caused by
impact, hurricane, or  methane hydrate explosion
ca. 1200 CE - Bald Mountains impact event leads to migration of Cherokee
into devastated area?
ca. 1500 CE - Australian Great Wall of Water, with collapse of Polynesian
megalithic cultures  on Ponhpei and elsewhere

"A collision capable of causing global climatic catastrophe.
Such events occur once per 100,000 years, or less often."

Suspected and Known:
ca. 3114 BCE - Atlantic impact; Stonehenge I constructed, Mayan Calendar
begins, tsunami leading to flood myths (Battle of Titans?)?
ca. 2345 BCE - Ullikummi cometary impactor pretty much wipes out Hurrians;
either climate shift occurs at same time, or dust loading leads to climate
collapse and global starvation
ca. 2345 BCE - Incineration of Harrapan city of Mohenjo Daro, India; by
fragment of same comet?
ca. 2100 BCE - Rio Cuarto impact, climatic collapse, global starvation
ca. 1160 BCE - General migration in eastern Mediterranean, following report
by observor from some distance away of loud noise and rush of air?
ca. 536 CE - Dust loading leads to sub-Roman times becoming sub-Roman.
Global climate collapse and starvation. Possible combination of volcanic and
cometary dust

Information on both tsunami and airburst impact events affecting the Maori
of New Zealand is currently undergoing analysis by Peter Snow.  I have also
been informed by Richard Wade that initial data on historical impact events
in Africa will be published in the very near future.


From Hermann Burchard <>

Dear Benny,

support from Uralian geology for a West Sibirian comet impact at 250 Ma may
be weaker than expressed in my note of April 27 on CCNet, regrettably. One
main purpose of the note had been just that:  To find evidence in the Urals
of a P/Tr impact.  With less evidence the main hypothesis as stated remains
unaffected.  Below, some related errata and addenda, with one
(admittedly not very strong) hint from the eclogites in favor of an impact

First, the Uralian orogeny preceded 250 Ma. Paradoxically, Eastern European
continental crust was being subducted under the oceanic West Sibirian crust.
Eclogites, ultra-high pressure silicate minerals are formed in subducting
slabs at a depth of 35 km, at about 10 kbar pressure, not at 10 km depth as
I had reported (pressure increases at 1/3 of a kilobar per kilometer), or
according to other sources at even greater pressure up to 90 kbar (this
would be at about 300 km?). The correct value would seem to strengthen my
argunent that a cometary impact exhumed an eclogite facies in the Urals,
but, according to Mary Leech of Stanford and London Universities (papers
down-loadable from her web site), exhumation of eclogites along the entire
2000 km length of the Urals had proceeded prior to 250 Ma and is due to
common buoyancy, as these are fairly lightweight siliceous minerals.

However, something does show in the eclogites: Between 315 to 230 Ma, timed
to about 250 Ma, there occurred a reburial and overthrusting (from the
East). Could this be related to magmatic eruptions in western Sibiria at 250
Ma [Nikishin, Ziegler, et al]? If so, this would be evidence for cometary
impact. The eastern flank of the Urals was affected greatly by magmatic
eruption in the West Sibirian Plane with reports of basalts being
interbedded among sedimentary strata.  According to the Columbia
Encyclopedia, ``the eastern slope drops abruptly to the W Sibirian lowlands"
(a vast basalt filled terrestrial mare) just like a crater wall would.

Novaya Semlya is considered a northward extension of the Urals. Suspecting a
South Kara Sea impact at 250 Ma the curvy outline of the islands again
remains an intriguing coincidence. As this is a puzzling story with one
enigma inside another, additional amendments in the Sibirian P/Tr hypothesis
may be forthcoming in the future -- for example could the arrest of the
Uralian orogeny (with lack of post orogenic collapse) have its cause in a
putative 250 Ma West Sibirian cometary impact?


Hermann Burchard


From Jon Richfield <>

Hi Benny,

Konrad Ebisch is of course quite right.

>"The plate tectonics theory, proposed in the 1960s..."
1960's? Try Alfred Wegener, 1915, The Origin of Continents and
Oceans or even Abraham Ortelius 1596.<

Also try the work of Wegener's most important disciple, Alex du Toit, who
actually did the field work to falsify Wegener's theory, and at a
sophisticated level discussed the various theoretical pros and cons
concerning the mechanisms. His book "Our Wandering Continents" Oliver & Boyd
1937, was a stunning and crushing vindication of the theory. 

du Toit was a professor of geology, which did not seem to make much
difference to the reception of his work except in South Africa, where he
wrote it and where it at least became controversial.  It just goes to show
how effectively one can smother sound work by simply ignoring it. 

And then rediscovering it decades later and claiming credit. To people like
me, who had grown up believing in du Toit's work, this was surprising and
offensive, but every rebuke and correstion seems to sink away without a




From Worth Crouch <>

Dear Dr. Peiser:

It was exciting to learn that the 130 million-year-old Dromaeosaur fossil
dinosaur was unearthed seemingly wrapped from head to tail in primitive
feathers. As a geologist I have always noticed that some dinosaurs seemed to
resemble weird birds more than giant lizards; consequently, given the
evidence, it has always seemed reasonable that birds descended from some

The origin of flight has, however, been debated intensely between those that
believe flight first took place from animals in the treetops, and others
that felt flight first took place from the ground up. I have always believed
flight could have been possible either way, but until now there has been no
fossil evidence that primitive flight could have started from the ground up.
However, Dromaeosaur makes it possible to believe that other dinosaurs might
have had feathers and given the environmental circumstances and their
feathered evolution they may have jumped and flown, as does a Road Runner,
from the ground up.

Years ago following an article published by the Scientific American magazine
extolling the verities of flight starting from the treetops I wrote a
rebuttal explaining why flight could have started from the ground up. I used
the Roadrunner "Beep-Beep!" as an example of a bird that flies from the
ground up. I thought my letter was quite good, but in their snobbish quest
for status my letter to the editor wasn't even published. Consequently,
readers never had the opportunity to examine my hypothetical reasoning that
flight, as is the case with the flying squirrel, need not always start from
the treetops.

I suppose someone at this very moment is writing to the Scientific American
magazine, using the Dromaeosaur fossil dinosaur as a footnote to his or her
thesis that flight could have started from the ground up. They will probably
even use the poor Roadrunner as an example of a current ground to air flyer.
If the article is written by someone of a status acceptable to the
Scientific American magazine community it will probably be published and to
all of them I say, "Beep-Beep!"

Worth F. Crouch
Choctaw Society of Astrobiologists

The CCNet is a scholarly electronic network. To subscribe/unsubscribe,
please contact the moderator Benny J Peiser <>.
Information circulated on this network is for scholarly and educational
use only. The attached information may not be copied or reproduced for
any other purposes without prior permission of the copyright holders.
The fully indexed archive of the CCNet, from February 1997 on, can be
found at
DISCLAIMER: 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



"There is good news and bad news. The good news is that we are at
last putting serious effort and money into local observations. [...] The
bad news is that the climate models on which so much effort is expended are
unreliable because they still use fudge-factors rather than physics to
represent important things like evaporation and convection, clouds and
rainfall. [...] If we persevere patiently with observing the real world and
improving the models, the time will come when we are able both to
understand and to predict. Until then, we must continue to warn the
politicians and the public: don't believe the numbers just because they
come out of a supercomputer."
-- Freeman J. Dyson, Institute for Advanced Study in
Princeton, 24 April 2001

    Benny J Peiser <>

    Tech CentralStation, 24 April 2001

    National Post, 30 April 2001

    TechnoPolitics, 29 April 2001

    CO2 Science Magazine, 2 May 2001

    CO2 Science Magazine, 2 May 2001

    CO2 Science Magazine, 2 May 2001

    Andrew Glikson <>

    Yahoo News, 2 May 2001


By Benny J Peiser <>

Throughout the history of science, it has often been guts rather than good
judgement that has led individuals to stand up and go against the tide of
public opinion. Scientific controversies (often more so than political ones)
thus often tell us a lot about the human condition. When historians of the
current greenhouse warming hysteria will look back, they will discern that,
as has happened so often with similar apocalyptic movements in the past, a
few individuals, initially, pitted themself against scientific dogma,
political intimidation and peer pressure.

Such is the global warming frenzy at the moment that almost the entire
scientific establishment seems to have surrendered its habitual role as
impartial and dispassionate institutions of unprejudiced and even-handed
evaluation. In such a "climate of fear" it is not surprising that journals
such as Nature and Science, to name just the most prominant drivers of the
climate scare, take a purely political stand on the question of carbon
dioxide emissions, whilst the New Scientist proclaims candidly that "even
the slightest contrarian messages can be used by the oil and auto lobby to
obstruct efforts to address global warming." 

Despite such ominous intimidations against critical analysis and scepticism,
nobody, I hope, will seriously regard Freeman Dyson as a puppet of the
fossil fuel industry. In fact, Freeman Dyson is a liberal nonconformist and,
at least in my eyes, the world's most respected scientist. That he has
decided to speak out against the current greenhouse warming hype (see his
commentary below), is perhaps the first sign that the tide may be turning at

Interestingly, all Dyson really does is to point out the most obvious
scientific flaws of the greenhouse warming anxiety: "The way the problem is
customarily presented to the public is seriously misleading," he correctly
stresses. "The public is led to believe that the carbon dioxide problem has
a single cause and a single consequence. The single cause is fossil fuel
burning, the single consequence is global warming. In reality there are
multiple causes and multiple consequences."

In reality, we don't know "how much of the carbon released by fossil fuel
burning is absorbed by forests and how much by the ocean." In reality, we
don't even know whether increased carbon dioxide may be doing more good than
harm to our planet. In reality, if current research findings are confirmed,
it would mean "that all the global climate models are using wrong numbers
for absorption."

Of course, Dyson's scientific scepticism does not come as a surprise. As one
should expect from a true scientific mind, his is a sober and rationalist
reaction to the global hysteria in the wake of recent political shenanigans
over the Kyoto Protocol. His criticism, however, is completely ignored by
the science and environmental media - simply because it dooes not conform
with  current fads and fashions. No wonder, then, that you will most likely
read his commentary first on CCNet.

Which brings me to some recent complaints about CCNet's coverage and
handling of greenhouse warming catastrophism. In a letter to the moderator
(see below), Andrew Glikson notes that CCNet is excepting contributions
"which would never see the light of day in any professional journal, either
because they are too controversial or/and because they do not accord with
minimum scientific standards." Well, I don't know whether Freeman Dyson's
commentary "accords with minimum scientific standards." Whatever the case, I
like his evidence and arguments nevertheless. That his objections have been
ignored by the scientific media goes without saying. CCNet would not be the
thriving network it is if I were to immitate this ignorance adopted by most
environmental journalists.

On the other hand, Andrew Glikson complains that my moderation of the global
warming controversy is sometimes tendentious and biased. I have admitted
that much already. I am, after all, a sceptic of greenhouse warming
catastrophism. As such, I find it irresponsible to publish
apocalyptic-sounding predictions without reservation. That's why I often try
to emphasise the purely speculative and hypothetical character of most such

Andrew also suggests that CCNet should give advocates of the greenhouse
warming alarm "equal emphasis." I find this advice less convincing given
that I tend to post *all* scientific research findings related to the global
warming debate. What is more, CCNet has repeatedly invited climatologists to
discuss their methods and predictions with their sceptical counterparts. I
actually share Andrew's preference for an open-minded and balanced debate.
In reality, however, most greenhouse warming advocates deliberately refrain
from debating with climate sceptics due to a political consideration not to
legitimise the views of their "foes."

I hope you will enjoy reading the Freeman Dyson's enlightening commentary.
The fact that you will find the views of one of the world's leading
scientist published on CCNet (rather than in the traditional science media)
may, at the same time, tell you something about the general malaise in
environmental reporting. If you feel, however, that what Dyson has to say is
part of a global conspiracy to save the struggling oil industry (poor souls,
have pitty with them) and to wreck the globe, don't hestitate to complain.

Benny J Peiser


From Tech CentralStation, 24 April 2001

By Freeman J. Dyson, Professor Emeritus of Physics, Princeton University

In the nineteen-sixties the fluid dynamicist Syukuro Manabe was running
global climate models on the supercomputer at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics
Laboratory in Princeton. Manabe began very early (before it became
fashionable) to run models of climate with variable amounts of carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere. He ran models with carbon dioxide at two and four
times the present abundance, and saw in the computer output the rise in
average ground temperature that is now called Global Warming. He told
everybody not to believe the numbers. But the politicians in Washington
believed. They wanted numbers, he gave them numbers, so they naturally
believed the numbers.

It was not unreasonable for politicians to believe Manabe's numbers.
Politics and science are two very different games. In science, you are not
supposed to believe the numbers until you have examined the evidence
carefully. If the evidence is dubious, a good scientist will suspend
judgment. In politics, you are supposed to make decisions. Politicians are
accustomed to making decisions based on shaky evidence. They have to vote
yes or no, and they generally do not have the luxury of suspending judgment.
Manabe's numbers were clear and simple. They said if the carbon dioxide goes
up, the planet will get warmer. So it was reasonable for politicians to
believe them. Belief for a politician is not the same thing as belief for a

Manabe's numbers were unreliable because his computer models did not really
simulate the physical processes going on in the atmosphere. Over and over
again he said that his purpose when he ran computer models was not to
predict climate but to understand it. But nobody listened. Everyone thought
he was predicting climate, everyone believed his numbers.

The biosphere of the earth contains four reservoirs of carbon: the
atmosphere, the ocean, the vegetation and the soil. All four reservoirs are
of comparable size, so that the problem of climate is inescapably mixed up
with the problems of vegetation and soil. The intertwining between the four
reservoirs is so strong that it makes no sense to consider the atmosphere
and ocean alone. Computer models of atmosphere and ocean, even if they can
be made reliable, give at best a partial view of the problem. The large
effects of vegetation and soil cannot be computed but must be observed and

The way the problem is customarily presented to the public is seriously
misleading. The public is led to believe that the carbon dioxide problem has
a single cause and a single consequence. The single cause is fossil fuel
burning, the single consequence is global warming. In reality there are
multiple causes and multiple consequences. The atmospheric carbon dioxide
that drives global warming is only the tail of the dog. The dog that wags
the tail is the global ecology: forests, farms and swamps, as well as
power-stations, factories and automobiles. And the increase of carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere has other consequences that may be at least as
important as global warming - increasing crop yields and growth of forests,
for example. To handle the problem intelligently, we need to understand all
the causes and all the consequences.

Several successful, important programs of local observation have been
started in recent years. One program is measuring directly the fluxes of
carbon dioxide moving between the atmosphere and the biosphere. This is done
by putting instruments on towers above the local trees or other vegetation.
In daytime in the summer, the vegetation is vigorously absorbing carbon
dioxide. At night or in winter, the flux is going the other way, with plants
giving off carbon dioxide by respiration. The soil also gives off
substantial fluxes of carbon dioxide, mostly from respiration of microbes
and fungi. The instruments do not distinguish between vegetation and soil.
They measure the total flux leaving or entering the atmosphere.

During the last few years, instrumented sites have been built in many
countries around the world. Within a few years, we will know for sure how
much of the carbon released by fossil fuel burning is absorbed by forests
and how much by the ocean. And the same technique can be used to monitor the
carbon fluxes over agricultural croplands, wetlands and grasslands. It will
give us the knowledge required, so that we can use the tools of land
management intelligently to regulate the carbon in the atmosphere. Whether
we manage the land wisely or mismanage it foolishly, we shall at least know
what good or harm we are doing to the atmosphere.

The amount of money spent on local observations is small, but the money has
been well spent. The Department of Energy is funding another successful
program called Atmospheric Radiation Measurements (ARM). ARM's activities
are mainly concentrated at a single permanent site in Oklahoma, where
systematic observations of radiation fluxes in the atmosphere are made with
instruments on the ground and on airplanes flying at various heights.
Measurements are made all the year round in a variety of weather conditions.
As a result, we have a database of radiation fluxes, in a clear sky and in
cloud and between clouds.

One of the most important measurements is made by two airplanes flying one
above the other at different heights. Each airplane measures the fluxes of
radiation coming up from below and down from above. The difference measures
the local absorption of radiation by the atmosphere. The measured absorption
of sunlight turns out to be substantially larger than expected. The expected
absorption was derived partly from theory and partly from space-based
measurements. The discrepancy is still unexplained. If it turns out that the
anamolous absorption measured by ARM is real, this will mean that all the
global climate models are using wrong numbers for absorption.

Another highly successful program of local measurements is called Acoustic
Thermometry of Ocean Climate (ATOC). It is the brainchild of Walter Munk at
the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. ATOC uses low-frequency underwater
sound to measure ocean temperatures. A signal is transmitted from a source
on top of a seamount at a depth of three thousand feet near San Francisco,
and received at six receivers in deep water around the north Pacific. The
times of arrival of signals at the receivers are accurately measured. Since
the speed of propagation depends on temperature, average temperatures of the
water along the propagation paths can be deduced.

The main obstacle that Walter Munk had to overcome to get the AOTC project
started was the opposition of environmental activists. This is a long and
sad story which I don't have time to tell. The activists decided that Munk
was an evil character and that his acoustic transmissions would endanger the
whales in the ocean by interfering with their social communications. They
harassed him with lawsuits, delaying the project for several years. Munk
tried in vain to convince them that he also cared about the whales and was
determined not to do them any unintentional harm. In the end, the project
was allowed to go forward with less than half of the small budget spent on
monitoring the ocean and more than half spent on monitoring the whales. No
evidence was found that any whale ever paid any attention to the
transmissions. But the activities are continuing their opposition to the
project and its future is still in doubt.

During the two years that the ATOC system has been operating, seasonal
variations of temperature have been observed, giving important new
information about energy transport in the ocean. If measurements are
continued for ten years and extended to other oceans, it should be possible
to separate a steady increase of temperature due to global warming from
fluctuations due to processes like El Nino that vary from year to year.
Since the ocean is the major reservoir of heat for the entire climate
system, a measurement of ocean temperature is the most reliable indicator of
global warming. We may hope that the activists will one day admit that an
understanding of climate change is as essential to the preservation of
wildlife as it is to the progress of science.

To summarize what we have learned, there is good news and bad news. The good
news is that we are at last putting serious effort and money into local
observations. Local observations are laborious and slow, but they are
essential if we are ever to have an accurate picture of climate. The bad
news is that the climate models on which so much effort is expended are
unreliable because they still use fudge-factors rather than physics to
represent important things like evaporation and convection, clouds and

Besides the general prevalence of fudge-factors, the latest and biggest
climate models have other defects that make them unreliable. With one
exception, they do not predict the existence of El Nino. Since El Nino is a
major feature of the observed climate, any model that fails to predict it is
clearly deficient. The bad news does not mean that climate models are
worthless. They are, as Manabe said thirty years ago, essential tools for
understanding climate. They are not yet adequate tools for predicting
climate. If we persevere patiently with observing the real world and
improving the models, the time will come when we are able both to understand
and to predict. Until then, we must continue to warn the politicians and the
public: don't believe the numbers just because they come out of a

Freeman J. Dyson, professor emeritus of physics at the Institute for
Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, is the recipient of the 1999 APS
Joseph Burton Forum Award, and author of a number of books about science for
the general public. His most recent is The Sun, the Genome, and the
Internet, which will be published this year.

Copyright 2001, Tech CentralStation


From National Post, 30 April 2001

No evidence suggesting a link to global warming

Ian MacLeod
Ottawa Citizen

There is a dramatic and mysterious drop in the number of icebergs lumbering
out of Canada's Iceberg Alley and into the North Atlantic Ocean.

Aerial reconnaissance flights for the Canadian Ice Service, the latest of
which was Thursday, have spotted fewer than 400 icebergs in the area
extending to a latitude of 57 degrees north, an area north of Goose Bay in
the Labrador Sea.

"At this time of year, we'd be looking at about 1,000 bergs in that same
area," says Luc Desjardin, a federal iceberg forecaster. "Usually, May and
June could see several thousand. So it's way below what we used to have."

Iceberg experts are trying to determine why.

The leading theory is that prevailing winds in the high North have grounded
large numbers of icebergs in the shallow waters off the Baffin Bay coast.

In a typical spring, thousands of bergs will slowly make their way south
toward Newfoundland by riding a strong current down the Davis Strait and
into the Labrador Sea. The route is dubbed Iceberg Alley.

But this year, "they seem to be too close to the shore for coming down,"
says Mr. Desjardin.

"Even last fall, there was not a huge amount of bergs that were in an ideal
location to physically come down. It's the most common explanation that we
can offer. It's not the only one but the most probable one."

Another less likely explanation, he says, could be abnormal water currents.
Or abnormally warm water temperatures that melt the bergs as they drift

"But that usually occurs once the sea ice has retreated northward, in the
late May and June time frame. So since we haven't reached these conditions
yet and we're still dealing with lots of sea ice along the Labrador coast,
it's still kind of early to say."

Mr. Desjardin stresses there is no evidence suggesting a link with global

Whatever the reason, this year's dwindling iceberg population is a welcome
change for international shipping.

And it may also be good news for Newfoundland's iceberg-watching tourism

"The few bergs that are there are closer to shore," he says.

Copyright © 2001 National Post Online


From TechnoPolitics, 29 April 2001

By Howard Fienberg

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently reported that a
rising "risk of infectious disease epidemics" is "likely" to result from
global warming. As the U.S. takes heat for rejecting the Kyoto Protocols,
global warming has become more than an abstract specter; it is considered a
tangible threat to public health through a coming plague of infectious
diseases like malaria and West Nile virus. However, a new report from the
National Research Council (NRC) found little evidence to justify such fears.
Questioning the validity of most climate models, the NRC recommended further
research. In effect, the NRC report demonstrates that infectious diseases
spread for many reasons. Global climate change is not obviously one of them.

Changes in the weather can have dramatic impacts on diseases and the pests
that spread them. However, the NRC report, "Under the Weather," points out
that the relationship traditionally drawn between climate and disease can be
very misleading. Other influences, such as ecological, biological and
societal changes, can have an even greater impact. For example, malaria and
dengue outbreaks can be caused by anything from deforestation to population
increases. Thanks to increased globalization, diseases can be transported
worldwide in a matter of hours.

This does not mean that the climate has no impact. The life cycles of many
disease pathogens and vectors are directly or indirectly influenced by
changes in temperature, precipitation and humidity, affecting "the timing
and intensity" of outbreaks. Trouble is that most of the links made between
climate and disease result from imperfect computer models. Modern
supercomputers can do amazing things, but effectively including all relevant
factors in a climate model can prove a daunting task. Just as firing off a
toy rocket in your back yard gives only an inkling of what the launching of
the real space shuttle is like, so too do computer climate models only
capture part of the story of infectious diseases. The NRC cautions that such
models are good for some kinds of analyses, but "are not necessarily
intended to serve as predictive tools," since they cannot "fully account for
the complex web of causation that underlies disease dynamics."

The NRC report stresses that there are many more influences than climate,
including "sanitation and public health services, population density and
demographics, land use changes, and travel patterns." At essence, it
concludes that, even assuming the prevention of global warming were a
reachable goal, fighting global warming is an ineffective method of tackling
infectious disease. Strong public health measures "such as vector control
efforts, water treatment systems, and vaccination programs" are still the
most effective tools.

So why do so many people still insist that climate change is the over-riding
threat to public health? Many may simply fear admitting otherwise. Donald
Burke, chair of the NRC panel which released the report, told National
Public Radio that he felt "awkward" that the report was "not a strong
endorsement that global climate change will lead to an inevitable holocaust
of infectious diseases."

Last September, the magazine New Scientist interviewed Paul Reiter, chief
entomologist at the U.S. dengue research lab in Puerto Rico. Interviewer
Ehsan Masood, after noting that "even the slightest contrarian messages can
be used by the oil and auto lobby to obstruct efforts to address global
warming," asked, "what¹s wrong with emphasizing the risks of global warming
if it'll lead to greater public awareness and investment in things like
climate change research?" Reiter replied that the ends do not justify the
means; the funding and commitment of honest science is required to handle
infectious diseases. He concluded that it was "the advancement brought about
by our modern economies that put these diseases at bay" in the developed
world. By denying others the opportunity for that advancement "on the mere
basis of emotive arguments founded on uncertain climate science... we will
be committing a serious mistake."

Many believe that global warming is a looming global catastrophe. They may
be right. But does this belief justify targeting global warming as the bogey
for every scientific problem we face? Infectious diseases are a public
health issue, first and foremost. Derailing public health solutions may suit
the broader cause of environmental alarm, but it does not help victims of
these diseases, either here or in the developing world.

HOWARD FIENBERG is research analyst with the Statistical Assessment Service
(STATS), a nonprofit nonpartisan organization researching science and public

Copyright 2001, TechnoPolitics


From CO2 Science Magazine, 2 May 2001

Hasanean, H.M. 2001. Fluctuations of surface air temperature in the Eastern
Mediterranean.  Theoretical and Applied Climatology 68: 75-87.

What was done
The author investigated surface air temperature trends with data obtained
from meteorological stations located in eight Eastern Mediterranean cities:
Malta, Athens, Tripoli, Alexandria, Amman, Beirut, Jerusalem and Latakia.
The period of analysis varied from station to station according to available
data.  Malta had the longest temperature record (1853-1991), while Latakia
had the shortest (1952-1991).

What was learned
Of the eight temperature histories, four exhibited overall warming trends
and four exhibited cooling trends.  Inter-decadal variations of various
periodicities, however, were noted in the temperature records at all
stations.  Also noted by the author was the presence of an "important
warming around 1910," which began nearly simultaneously at all of the
longer-record stations.  A second large warming was noted in the 1970s; but
it was "not uniform, continuous or of the same order" as the warming that
began about 1910, nor was it evident in all the stations.

What it means
An important observation to come out of the study was the fact that all of
the stations exhibited similar uniform warming trends that began about 1910,
but that only some of them exhibited a less coherent and discontinuous
warming trend in the 1970s.  One reason for these two contrasting sets of
behavior is that the warming observed at the turn of the century is most
likely indicative of a true regional, if not global, phenomenon (perhaps
solar-induced), as it was observed at all stations; while the warming
observed at some stations in the later part of the 20th century is not a
true global phenomenon.  A possible explanation for the different warmings
of those cities that experienced temperature increases in the 1970s may be
differences in city urbanization histories and patterns, which could have
resulted in uniquely expressed urban heat island development at each
measurement site.  These local phenomena must be fully understood before
data from such sites are used to construct global temperature trends.
Copyright © 2001.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change


From CO2 Science Magazine, 2 May 2001

In an effort to understand present climate and how increases in
anthropogenic CO2 emissions may impact future climate, scientists often look
for clues in climates of epochs past.  One such clue is the persistence of
millennial-scale temperature oscillations throughout the Pleistocene (see
Raymo et al., 1998 and Climate Oscillations in our Subject index), where
variations of 3 to 4.5°C are observed during glacial periods and variations
of 0.5 to 1°C are observed during interglacials (Oppo et al., 1998).

Other clues have been found in proxy temperature and CO2 records of the
Miocene and Eocene epochs.  Working with sediment cores from three deep sea
drilling sites,  Pagani et al. (1999) reconstructed a history of atmospheric
CO2 concentration over the early to late Miocene (25 to 9 million years
ago), finding that atmospheric CO2 concentrations in the Miocene were
similar to concentrations observed during the Pleistocene, i.e., 180 to 290
ppm, but that at the height of the Miocene climatic optimum (approximately
17 million years ago), deep water and high-latitude surface water
temperatures were as much as 6°C warmer than they are today.  Thus, the
authors state that the "uniformly low" concentration of atmospheric CO2
during the Miocene "appears in conflict with greenhouse theories of climate
change."  They also report "there is no evidence for a sharp decline in
[atmospheric] CO2 associated with EAIS [East Antarctic Ice Sheet] expansion"
during the Miocene and that "atmospheric carbon dioxide rises following the
expansion of EAIS," which findings are also in conflict with the greenhouse
theory of climate change.

With regard to the climate of the Eocene (55 to 35 million years ago), a
similar decoupling of temperature and atmospheric CO2 is reported (Pearson
and Palmer, 2000). Once again, at a time when temperatures have been
estimated to have been as much as 5°C warmer than today, atmospheric CO2
concentrations were determined to lie between 180 and 550 ppm, with a best
estimate of 385 ppm (Pearson and Palmer, 1999). For those searching for
clues as to how future climate may be impacted by increases in atmospheric
carbon dioxide from the great climate epochs of the past, it would thus
appear, in the words of paleoclimatologist Thomas Crowley, as quoted in
Science (Vol. 284, p. 1745), that "it could be the whole carbon dioxide
paradigm is crumbling," at least, as news writer Richard Kerr adds, "when it
comes to explaining very long-term climate change."

Oppo, D.W., McManus, J.F. and Cullen, J.L.  1998.  Abrupt climate events
500,000 to 340,000 years ago: Evidence from subpolar North Atlantic
sediments.  Science 279: 1335-1338.

Pagani, M., Authur, M.A. and Freeman, K.H.  1999.  Miocene evolution of
atmospheric carbon dioxide.  Paleoceanography 14: 273-292.

Pearson, P.N. and Palmer, M.R.  1999.  Middle Eocene seawater pH and
atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.  Science 284: 1824-1826.

Raymo, M.E., Ganley, K., Carter, S., Oppo, D.W. and McManus, J.  1998.
Millennial-scale climate instability during the early Pleistocene epoch.
Nature 392: 699-702.
Copyright © 2001.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change


From CO2 Science Magazine, 2 May 2001

In the 9 April 2001 issue of U.S. News and World Report, two thoughtful
people try to tell us what we should be doing about one of the biggest
environmental concerns of all time - anthropogenic CO2 emissions - as they
lament the Bush administration's decision to walk away from the Kyoto
protocol.  One of them - John Leo (p. 22) - calls it "an unnatural stand,"
as he asks "Why don't conservatives care about saving the planet?"  The
other - Editor-at-Large David Gergen (p. 100) - describes the decision as
"risking the environment" in a move that could "darken the prospects for

Clearly, the hearts of these gentlemen are in the right place; but without a
knowledge of all the pertinent facts, their prescription for the planet
could well be way off base and, in fact, prove our downfall ... and that of
the rest of the biosphere as well.

It thus behooves us to seriously consider the findings of Tilman et al.
(2001), reported just four days later in the pages of Science, which Leo and
Gergen had obviously not the advantage of seeing when they composed their
essays. In an analysis of the global environmental impacts of agricultural
expansion that will likely occur over the next 50 years, which was based
upon projected increases in population and concomitant advances in
technological expertise, the group of ten respected researchers concluded
that the task of meeting the doubled global food demand they calculated to
exist in the year 2050 will likely exact an environmental toll that "may
rival climate change in environmental and societal impacts."

What are the specific problems? For starters, Tilman and his colleagues note
that "humans currently appropriate more than a third of the production of
terrestrial ecosystems and about half of usable freshwaters, have doubled
terrestrial nitrogen supply and phosphorus liberation, have manufactured and
released globally significant quantities of pesticides, and have initiated a
major extinction event."  Now, think of doubling those figures.  In fact, do
even more; for the scientists calculate global nitrogen fertilization and
pesticide production will likely rise by a factor of 2.7 by the year 2050.

In terms of land devoted to agriculture, they calculate a less ominous 18%
increase over the present. However, because developed countries are expected
to withdraw large areas of land from farming over the next 50 years, the net
loss of natural ecosystems to cropland and pasture in developing countries
will amount to about half of all potentially suitable remaining land, which
would, in the words of Tilman et al., "represent the worldwide loss of
natural ecosystems larger than the United States." Looking at it another
way, the scientists say this phenomenon "could lead to the loss of about a
third of remaining tropical and temperate forests, savannas, and
grasslands." And in a worrisome reflection upon the consequences of these
changes in land use for global biodiversity, they note that "species
extinction is an irreversible impact of habitat destruction."

These findings should come as no surprise to readers of CO2 Science
Magazine, for we have dealt with them editorially many times (1 Oct 1999, 1
Feb 2000, 15 Nov 2000, 21 Feb 2001). Hence, we are in full agreement with
Tilman et al. when they say "an environmentally sustainable revolution, a
greener revolution, is needed." In fact, something far above humanity's
normal ability to devise and execute will be required to avert the impending
catastrophe; for as Tilman and his associates rightly conclude, "even the
best available technologies, fully deployed, cannot prevent many of the
forecasted problems."

Here, then, is the real and truly inescapable problem facing the world and
every living thing therein: where will we find the food and water needed to
sustain our growing populations? We are going to need much more of both of
these precious commodities if we are ever going to make it through even the
first half of the current century without self-destructing and taking most
of the rest of the biosphere with us. So we ask Mr. Leo and Mr. Gergen the
very same questions they posed in their essays. Do you "care about saving
the planet" and doing those things that will not "darken the prospects for

If you were sincere in your writing, and we believe you were, you will
carefully consider a fact that is hardly ever mentioned in the international
debate over anthropogenic CO2 emissions, and that is, that if there is any
one thing that is known about carbon dioxide and global change with any
certainty, it is that more CO2 in the air substantially enhances the growth
of plants and the efficiency with which they utilize water. Doubling the
atmosphere's CO2 concentration, for example, typically increases crop
productivity by 30 to 40%, while it increases plant water use efficiency
even more, making it possible to produce considerably greater quantities of
food with little to no increase in the amount of water used. And in natural
ecosystems, where water and other resources are often limiting, the positive
effects of atmospheric CO2 enrichment can be even larger.

The enormity of the environmental problems we will surely face in trying to
feed the world of tomorrow - including our children and grandchildren and
all the rest of the biosphere - demands that we ask ourselves if we are
ready to "risk the environment," as Mr. Gergen puts it, by using up nearly
every bit of land and water on the face of the globe to meet caloric and
nutritional needs, while polluting the rest of the planet and leaving next
to nothing of value for nature, or if we will stubbornly take an "unnatural
stand," as Mr. Leo describes it, and not allow the ongoing rise in the air's
CO2 concentration to continue to bring about the only "environmentally
sustainable revolution," to borrow an appropriate phrase from Tilman and
company, that can go above and beyond what man's technological genius has
the capacity to do and provide the extra productivity and efficiency edge
the biosphere will surely need to meet the food security challenges of the
coming half-century.

Industrialized society's "exhalations" of carbon dioxide are truly a
godsend; for if we will let them, they can be the basis of Tilman et al.'s
"greener revolution." It's as natural as breathing; and for vegetation,
that's exactly what it is. Through the pores in their leaves, earth's plants
breathe in the CO2 humanity releases to the atmosphere and it becomes the
basic building block of everything they produce. Ask your children about the
process. They learn it in grade school. Plant's love CO2. It's good for
them. And what's good for plants is good for everything else, humankind

In the end, however much we may try to ignore these facts, we cannot deny
that we possess this knowledge. And we now possess the additional knowledge
that we desperately need what more CO2 can do for us, that it's absolutely
essential, in fact, to avert a catastrophic breakdown of the biosphere over
the next half-century, as we reported for the first time last year in
Technology (Idso and Idso, 2000) - see our Journal Review "Will There Be
Enough Food?" - and as Tilman et al. have now confirmed in Science.  And
having this knowledge, we are morally obligated to act upon it.

Mr. Gergen says "strong leaders must summon us to the mountaintop." He is
right. But we must know what mountain to climb, and that's where a knowledge
of the pertinent facts becomes so important; for if we cannot see the truth,
as the proverb rightly says, "where there is no vision, the people perish."
And if we turn our backs on carbon dioxide, which could truly be a savior
for the planet, and crucify CO2 upon the cross of a counterfeit and
misguided environmentalism, the people of the earth will do just that, they
will perish, and not many years hence.

Dr. Craig D. Idso
Dr. Keith E. Idso

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

Tilman, D., Fargione, J., Wolff, B., D'Antonio, C., Dobson, A., Howarth, R.,
Schindler, D., Schlesinger, W.H., Simberloff, D. and Swackhamer, D. 2001.
Forecasting agriculturally driven global environmental change. Science 292:
Copyright © 2001.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change



From Andrew Glikson <>

Dear Benny,

I refer to your comments on CCNet 27.4.01.

I appreciate your honesty in admitting: "I accept your criticism that I
select citations which I prefer, reword titles according to my sense of
humour and even brand unsubstantiated alarms as a "scare". These are normal
working practices of editors and moderators, not just in the world of the
political press but also in the scientific media." (B. Peiser, 27.04.01).

You add "You just need to look at the alarmist tone and often biased
coverage of the global warming issue in journals such as New Scientist,
Science and Nature." However, in comparing CCNet (or any other electronic
bulletins for that matter) with Nature and Science you overlook the fact
that (1) papers in these journals are fully refereed by the
specialists/authorities in the respective scientific disciplines, and (2)
editorial comments/views are separate and normally signed by their authors -
leaving no doubt as to who said what. On the other hand, suppression of
opposite points of views in professional journals is not entirely unknown,
although in my experience is (fortunately) still relatively minor.

Inherently electronic networks are open to any contributions (in the case of
CCNet excepting personally antagonistic comments - I approve of your policy
in this regard). This includes contributions which would never see the light
of day in any professional journal, either because they are too
controversial or/and because they do not accord with minimum scientific
standards.   The strength of electronic bulletins is that, whenever anyone
ventures to present mistaken or fabricated evidence and/or interpretations,
others are in the position of offering immediate correction. This freedom
can not be denied since, should anyone attempt to censor contributions,
other electronic bulletins will pop out like mushrooms after the rain.

The issue is the separation of editors' own views from the ways/formats in
which the views of others are presented, as well as the overall
tone/emphasis of the bulletin, reflected by selection of headlines, for
example. Naturally, editors are entitled to express their views as freely as
do contributors, so long as it is under their own name. On the other hand,
in their role of moderators they need to ensure that diverse points of views
receive equal emphasis - a principle with which selective choice of
headlines and title changes is hardly consistent.

This is because selective headlining/captions constitutes a clear invitation
for the proponents of certain views, commensurate with those of the editor,
and at the same time discourage proponents of opposite points of view. A
clear imbalance emerges, as evidenced in CCNet by the scarcity (although not
absence) of contributions from active climate scientists who have identified
the connection between greenhouse emissions and climatic change.

I note that CCNet is now open to contributions of purely ideological nature,
such as for example "And finally, ignore gloomy intellectuals and look at
the facts" by Ronald Bailey (cited from Reason Online") (CCNet 27.4.01).
Please clarify whether CCNet would welcome philosophical and political
contributions of a similar nature?

Science is the fragile child of freedom. One hopes that the role of
"moderator" of a "scholarly electronic network" would be to encourage debate
and refrain from allowing his/her particular views and ideological
preference, right or wrong, to dominate the bulletin.


(Dr) Andrew Glikson

Australian National University
Canberra, ACT 0200


From Yahoo News, 2 May 2001

Ford expected to say global warming a serious issue - WSJ

NEW YORK, May 2 (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F - news), is expected to
release a report this week saying that it believes global warming is a
serious issue it must address, the Wall Street Journal reported in its
online edition on Wednesday.

The focus on the severity of global warming comes in Ford's second-annual
``corporate citizenship'' report, and marks the latest in a series of moves
by the auto maker to distinguish itself as more environmentally committed
than its rivals, the paper said.

Some of Ford's rivals also have tempered their previous opposition to moves
to reduce greenhouse emissions, the paper noted. DaimlerChrysler AG's
(NYSE:DCX - news) chairman has said he supports the goals of the Kyoto
Treaty on global warming. General Motors (NYSE:GM - news) continues to
oppose the Kyoto accord, but increasingly has talked up its own efforts to
clean up vehicles and plants, the paper said.

Ford officials declined to discuss the details of the report until it is
released later this week, the paper said, but the company committed itself
last summer to improving the fuel economy of its sport utility vehicles by
25 percent over five years. By acknowledging that global warming is a
legitimate concern, Ford will give ammunition to those calling for stronger
action, including tougher federal fuel-economy rules, the paper said.

Ford shares closed down $1.18 at $28.30 on Tuesday, off a 52-week high of
$31.42 and up from a year low of $21.69.

The CCNet is a scholarly electronic network. To subscribe/unsubscribe,
please contact the moderator Benny J Peiser <>.
Information circulated on this network is for scholarly and educational
use only. The attached information may not be copied or reproduced for
any other purposes without prior permission of the copyright holders.
The fully indexed archive of the CCNet, from February 1997 on, can be
found at
DISCLAIMER: 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

CCCMENU CCC for 2001

The content and opinions expressed on this Web page do not necessarily reflect the views of nor are they endorsed by the University of

The content and opinions expressed on this Web page do not necessarily reflect the views of nor are they endorsed by the University of Georgia or the University System of Georgia.