CCNet TERRA 4/2002 - 13 September 2002

"A 15-year study of ancient Antarctic ice has challenged prevailing
theories about the process of climate change, a scientist involved in
the research said Friday. Their findings, to be published this week
in the journal Science, appear to contradict prevailing theories
that past climate change in Antarctica was triggered by change in the
Northern Hemisphere. Researchers said the findings underscored our
lack of understanding of the exact mechanisms behind climate change and
would force a rethink of computer models used to predict future
environmental shifts."
--Space Daily, 13 September 2002

    Space Daily, 13 September 2002

    CO2 Science Magazine, 11 September 2002

    Nature Science Update, 13 September 2002

    CO2 Science Magazine, 11 September 2002

(5) IN 1905 ..., 11 September 2002

    Department of Trade and Industry, 10 September 2002

    Andrew Yee <>

    American Council on Science and Health, 9 September 2002


>From Space Daily, 13 September 2002

SYDNEY (AFP) Sep 13, 2002
A 15-year study of ancient Antarctic ice has challenged prevailing theories
about the process of climate change, a scientist involved in the research
said Friday.

The Australian-French project involved scientists drilling through 90,000
years of compacted Antarctic snow over a six-year period and then analyzing
the ice core they recovered for a further nine years.

Their findings, to be published this week in the journal Science, appear to
contradict prevailing theories that past climate change in Antarctica was
triggered by change in the Northern Hemisphere.

Tas van Ommen, one of the study's authors, said information gleaned from
Antarctic ice dating back about 14,500 years had shown a different sequence
of global climate change at the time than previously thought.

At that time, Greenland abruptly starting warming while Antarctica's
temperature also changed, although more gradually.

Earlier study of that period using less precise dating techniques had put
the Antarctic change after Greenland's, leading to widely held theories that
the southern climate shift was a response to that happening in the north.

"Using our better dating, we found that the Antarctic change occurred before
the abrupt Greenland jump by as much as 500 years and so could not be a
response at all," Van Ommen told the Australian Associated Press.

The new study indicates Antarctica could be the real driver of climate
change or that changes in the two hemispheres are not connected at all, said
Van Ommen, a senior research scientist at the Australian Antarctic Division
and the Antarctic Cooperative Research Center.

Researchers said the findings underscored our lack of understanding of the
exact mechanisms behind climate change and would force a rethink of computer
models used to predict future environmental shifts.

"The fact that abrupt changes can occur in the climate system raises
questions about climate stability, especially when forced by humans via the
greenhouse effect," Van Ommen said, referring to theories that global
warming is caused by man-made "greenhouse gases".

"For computer predictions of future climate to be reliable, they must be
able to also reproduce changes in past climate like those probed in this
study," he said.

The key to the new study was the recovery of the ice core, done over a six
year period from 1987 at Placer Dome near Casey station in Australian
Antarctic Territory.

The core, 10 centimeters (four inches) in diameter, was recovered in two
meter (6.6-foot) lengths until bedrock was reached at a depth of 1.2
kilometers (.7 miles) and taken to Hobart, Tasmania, for study by Australian
and French scientists.

Analyses of tens of thousands of samples provided a window on the
environment going back 19,000 years and, for the first time, allowed tight
time scale synchronisation with core samples from Greenland.

"What it does show is that unravelling the climate is like peeling layers
off an onion skin and the more we learn, the more we know we don't know,"
Van Ommen said.

Earlier this week the release of a separate US study exposed another flaw in
climate change models by showing that it was much colder in the upper
atmosphere over the South Pole than previously believed.

Those findings will impact on computer models used to predict the impact of
global warming caused by greenhouse gases, scientists said.

All rights reserved. © 2002 Agence France-Presse


>From CO2 Science Magazine, 11 September 2002

Rigozo, N.R., Nordemann, D.J.R., Echer, E., Zanandrea, A. and Gonzalez, W.D.
2002.  Solar variability effects studied by tree-ring data wavelet analysis.
Advances in Space Research 29: 1985-1988.

What was done
Scientists frequently utilize tree-ring width and density data as proxies to
reconstruct histories of climate (temperature and/or precipitation) at
various locations around the globe when instrumental data are unavailable.
In this study, the authors applied two statistical procedures - wavelet
transform analysis and Morlet complex wavelet analysis - to two data sets (a
set of tree-ring width measurements from the Santa Catarina State of Brazil
and the sunspot number time series) in an attempt to determine the influence
of the solar parameter (sun spot number) on climate (tree-ring width) over
the period 1837-1996.

What was learned
The complex Morlet wavelet analysis revealed the existence of an 11-year
cycle in the tree-ring width data.  Not surprisingly, an 11-year cycle was
also found in the sun spot data.  When comparing both data sets via
cross-wavelet spectral analysis, the authors report that "a good
correspondence is observed," which correspondence is strongest during the
time of most intense solar activity, i.e., 1940-1970.

What it means
Once again, the influence of the sun on earth's climate leading up to and
throughout the initial stage of the Modern Warm Period is demonstrated.
Copyright © 2002.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change


>From Nature Science Update, 13 September 2002

Online encyclopedia aims to make homes earthquake-proof.
13 September 2002

A growing online encyclopedia of houses in earthquake-prone areas should
help engineers to make buildings safer.

In an earthquake, houses suffer more damage than other structures because
they are often built using cheap materials and shoddy methods. "There can be
huge loss of life," says Marjorie Greene of the Earthquake Engineering
Research Institute (EERI) in Oakland, California. "Improving housing could
make a big difference."

To encourage engineers to make these improvements, the EERI, along with the
International Association of Earthquake Engineering, last month launched an
encyclopedia of the world's housing structures. Efforts to gather and
distribute the information started in early 2000.

The encyclopedia now describes nearly 80 types of house in 30 countries,
Greene told the European Conference on Earthquake Engineering in London this
week. Dwellings listed range from mud huts in Malawi to tower blocks in

Each entry details the building's architecture, materials and construction -
including any earthquake-proofing. It also describes the houses' cost,
insurance, how well they hold together in earthquakes, and what type of
damage they sustain.

This information is otherwise hard to come by. There is a book encyclopedia
of the world's vernacular architecture, but it costs US$900 - the new online
encyclopedia is free. All the reports are written by volunteers, and are
reviewed before publication.

About 150 people already use the encyclopedia each day. "People are using it
to see how similar buildings are constructed in other countries," says
Greene. An engineer in Malawi, for example, has tapped into Indian

Over the next 2-3 years, the number of entries should rise to around 150,
says EERI vice-president Svetlana Brzev. At the moment the encyclopedia
lacks houses from such quake-stricken countries as Japan and Mexico.
© Nature News Service / Macmillan Magazines Ltd 2002

>From CO2 Science Magazine, 11 September 2002

It is currently fashionable to cast the ongoing rise in the air's CO2
content as the greatest threat, though yet future, ever to be faced by the
biosphere.  It is also fashionable to claim we must do now whatever it
takes, at whatever the price, to stop the historical upward trend in the
concentration of this supposedly diabolical constituent of the atmosphere.
Representatives of the nations of the earth, for example, meet regularly to
consider the issue and talk of the moral imperative we have to do something
about it.  But as they tilt at this greatest of all environmental issues
ever to be created by the mind of man - for it is by no means clear that it
is, or ever will be, a bone fide problem in the real world - they weaken our
chances of successfully dealing with a host of environmental problems that
truly do vex us and are literally crying out for attention.

In an editorial in the 9 August 2002 issue of Science magazine entitled
"Science and Sustainability," for example, Leshner (2002) reports the
following: "One billion people throughout the world have no access to clean
water. Two billion people have inadequate sanitation. Almost 1.5 billion
people, mostly in cities in the developing world, are breathing air below
the standards deemed acceptable by the World Health Organization."  And a
few pages later, in the very same issue, Raven (2002) describes how
mankind's usurpation of the planet's land area is proceeding at such a rate
that by the end of the century it will have caused the extinction of fully
two-thirds of the ten million or so other species currently found on the

Where in the world are our priorities? We agonize over a future
*hypothetical* scenario - catastrophic CO2-induced global warming - that
many knowledgeable scientists are convinced will never occur, while billions
of people suffer from a host of very *real* health hazards in the here and
now. And superimposed upon our problems is the great species extinction
event for which we are responsible, which doubly damns us.

Do we divert our attention from these serious situations and focus it
elsewhere because we do not know the causes of our current problems? Or do
we neglect them because their solutions are so complex? If either of these
reasons is correct, why should anyone give the governments of the world a
mandate to totally restructure human society to fight a hypothetical problem
of vastly greater complexity that may ultimately be found to have nothing
whatsoever to do with its imputed cause? And if these reasons are not
correct, there is even less justification for trusting those who would have
us look upon CO2 as the devil incarnate; for what else could possibly
justify our not confronting these important issues with all due haste and
every modern tool we have at our disposal? Are more devious forces possibly
at work here?  Or is our morality not even skin-deep, but worn only on our

Whatever the answers to these disturbing questions might be, it is clear
that the current brouhaha over atmospheric CO2 and potential climate change
has relegated all of the very real environmental concerns of our day to
second- and third-class issues.  This situation is truly regrettable; for
unless these more immediate and weighty matters are forthrightly addressed
in a timely manner, whatever earth's climate may do in the future will be
pretty much a moot point, especially for the millions of species of plants
and animals that will have suffered extinction in the interim, as well as
the billions of human beings that will have died prematurely, all as a
consequence of environmental problems wholly unrelated to the air's CO2
content that could have been resolved but weren't.

Will this sad ending be the legacy of those who are determined to bring an
end to the Age of Fossil Fuels?  Very possibly.  And unless we do something
to stop the unscientific slandering of carbon dioxide, it will be our legacy

Sherwood, Keith and Craig Idso  

Leshner, A.  2002.  Science and sustainability.  Science 297: 897.
Raven, P.H.  2002.  Science, sustainability, and the human prospect.
Science 297: 954-959.
Copyright © 2002.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change

(5) IN 1905 ...

>From, 11 September 2002

In 1905, a July heat wave in New York killed around 100 people.
In 1905, a yellow fever epidemic afflicted New Orleans, and reached as far
north as Indiana. Yellow fever is a tropical disease.
In 1905, there were severe summer storms and flooding in Ireland.
In 1905, on 1st September, the town of Algonquin, Illinois, recorded its all
time highest temperature either before or since, - 117°F.
In 1905, the Artic sea ice had receded so far that explorer Roald Amundsen
was able to traverse the Northwest Passage in a ship in uncharted waters,
the first person to do so.
In 1905, CO2 and other greenhouse gases were at or near their pre-industrial

1905 and 2002 do share one unique thing in common. Both are El Niño years,
and both are solar maximum years. The conjunction of El Niño and Solar
Maximum (both tending to warm the planet) is rare, and 1905 was the last
such occasion until this year.

More 1905 weather events here (

Just something to think about when reading the next weather headline.


>From Department of Trade and Industry, 10 September 2002

The British Association has today been asked by Science Minister Lord
Sainsbury to conduct a study looking at how Government should receive advice
on science communication policy and activities from other organisations.

Lord Sainsbury said:

"In general the UK public are very supportive of scientific research and
recognise the benefits that it brings to the economy, healthcare and
society. But we need today, in a period of rapid scientific advances, a more
effective dialogue between scientists and the public.

"We have moved decisively away from the era in which it was enough for
science communicators simply to educate the public about science and its
benefits. What is needed now is an effective two-way dialogue and debate
between those who do scientific research and the public.

"There are a great number of scientific organisations and individuals who
are involved in science communication. Only some of them receive direct
funding from Government. This study will recommend how Government can assess
whether these activities, taken together, meet the needs of the public and
the science community, and how science communicators can best co-ordinate
their activities."

As part of the study the British Association will consult with a wide
cross-section of those involved in science communication including
representatives of the public and will report back to Lord Sainsbury by the
end of October. Lord May, President of the Royal Society, said:

"The Royal Society welcomes this timely study and will be playing a full
part in it. As our own Science and Society programme has found, the public
has a huge interest in science and the issues that it raised for society,
and we all have a role in making sure that their needs are being met by the
activities of the science communication community as a whole."

Baroness Greenfield, Director of the Royal Institution, said:

"Any initiative advancing a more effective dialogue between scientists and
the public is to be welcomed"

Professor Colin Blakemore, Chairman of the British Association, said:

"The BA is delighted to be carrying out this study on behalf of the science
communication community, and we shall do it openly and inclusively."

Notes to Editors

1. The British Association is a nationwide organisation with an open
membership, dedicated to the communication and appreciation of science. It
embraces all areas of science, forging links between them and working with
them to communicate, discuss and promote all aspects of science and its
influence on our lives.

2. The Prime Minister in a recent speech on science to the Royal Society
said: "We need better, stronger, clearer ways of science and people
communicating. The dangers are in ignorance of each other's point of view;
the solution is understanding them. We need, therefore, a robust, engaging
dialogue with the public. We need to re-establish trust and confidence in
the way that science can demonstrate new opportunities, and offer new

3. The study commissioned by OST will start informally at the British
Association Festival of Science at Leicester University this week. Its aim
is to recommend the processes the government should put in place by the
beginning of next year to ensure that the science and society agenda is
being properly addressed in the UK. The key issues it will cover are:

- what is going on - how the government can obtain an adequate overview of
the activities of all the main organisations in the science and society

- how effective is it - how the government can best monitor whether its
science and society programmes and those of other providers are meeting the
needs of the various audiences and stakeholders, offering quality and value
for money, achieving critical mass and identifying
where there are gaps or duplications;

- coordination in the community - the organisation of regular forums at
which the community including both providers and consumers, can discuss, for
example, coordination of their activities, evaluation of their activities
and recommendations for action and change; and,

- governance of government's own science and society programmes - how best
should OST and DTI manage the oversight and direction of the activities it
funds directly.

Public Enquiries: 020 7215 5000
Textphone for those with hearing impairments: 020 7215 6740


>From Andrew Yee <>

ESA News

9 September 2002
Summit endorses role of space

Although there is some controversy surrounding the outcome of last week's
summit on sustainable development there is one subject on which all
delegates were unanimous: the important
role that Earth observation satellites can play in assisting sustainable
The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) 54-page Plan of
Implementation contains more than 10 specific references to Earth
observation, clearly demonstrating that the Summit
recognised the importance of space technology for sustainable development.
This success goes back to ESA, which -- in its role as CEOS Chair --
delivered a number of official statements during the preparatory meetings
and the Summit itself. Some of the statements delivered by ESA, on behalf of
CEOS, were also followed by supporting interventions by national delegations
to CEOS, such as Japan and the USA.

ESA staff had a busy but rewarding week, as this year ESA is chair of CEOS
and co-chair of IGOS, the Integrated Global Observing Strategy partnership.
José Achache, ESA Director of Earth Observation, addressed the plenary
session of the Summit on behalf of these organisations. ESA staff also
participated in a number of meetings and discussions on the use of satellite
data at Ubuntu Village in Johannesburg, where ESA also had a stand.

Two important WSSD partnership initiatives concerning Earth observation data
were launched during the week: the first by IGOS concerning the use of space
and ground measurements for sustainable development; and the second by CEOS
to encourage partnership on education and training in Earth observation.
Both of these measures aim to widen the use of Earth observation data to
protect the environment, particularly in developing countries, and to ensure
that this data is available to all.

To follow up on the action taken at the Summit, a high-level meeting has
been arranged for 19 November at ESRIN, ESA's space research institute in
Frascati, Italy. Here, government ministers, UN representatives and heads of
space agencies will decide on how best to use satellite data to support
sustainable development.

When asked about the Summit José Achache replied: "In Rio, heads of states
achieved agreement on high level political declarations but with little
underlying ground work. In contrast, Johannesburg did not lead to a strong
political consensus but initiated many concrete actions and partnerships."

"Earth observation for space achieved a level of visibility and recognition
at the Summit that has never before been achieved in such a forum."

"ESA is already contemplating the launch of a concrete initiative to support
sustainable development and capacity building in developing countries, by
the joint use of Earth observation and telecom satellites, particularly
Envisat and Artemis."

>From American Council on Science and Health, 9 September 2002
Green Misanthropy, (John) Gray Misanthropy

By Todd Seavey

What are we to make of green activists who oppose electricity and want most
of humanity to remain poor?

What are we to make of green activists who would rather see Zambia face
starvation than let people eat genetically-modified crops?

What are we to make of green activists who promote "voluntary human

Finally, what are we to make of a philosopher who once held libertarian,
pro-capitalist views, later held anti-capitalist and anti-globalization
views, and has finally denounced humanity as a plague upon the Earth, openly
longing for our destruction as the only solution to environmental problems?

Calling them all evil might be oversimplifying. A friend of mine, Critical
Review editor Jeffrey Friedman, insists that there are no evil people. He
points out that political activists love to paint their opponents as evil
but that usually their opponents just sincerely disagree about how to make
the world a better place. No one, the argument goes, does what he does
because he woke up in the morning thinking, "How can I make the world, on
balance, a worse place?"

I think Friedman is wrong to say no one thinks this way, since there are at
least a few bullies, sadistic murderers, violent Satanists, and gang members
eager to prove how bad they are. These people are evil in the classic sense
of the word. But the case of well-meaning political zealots is a more
interesting one. If someone genuinely believes that blowing up an airplane
will, in the long run, make the world a better place, might we say that
person - despite making a terrible, disastrous error in judgment (and
deserving whatever retaliation he gets) - is not evil?

Perhaps, but we are within our rights to inquire further about what "a
better world" means in such a person's mind and whether he has been morally
responsible in thinking that vision through. If his goal is a world of
peace, happiness, and prosperity for all, we might be willing to concede he
is not evil in the classic, villainous sense of the term - though we'll
still happily shoot him (and so would Friedman, I should note - ultimately
we both care more about consequences than intentions). If, on the other
hand, the zealot's vision of "a better world" is one in which, to paraphrase
Osama bin Laden, "the world runs red with the blood of infidels," it is fair
to ask whether this in any meaningful way constitutes "good intentions" -
though the zealot's desire to secure salvation and eternal joy for all the
non-infidels means that even butchery may be an attempt (albeit a failed
one) to do good.

However, it would be naive to think that classically evil motives never
intermingle with people's stated good intentions. The zealot may have become
a zealot in the first place in part because he loves to kill. Someone might
embrace the anti-moral philosophy of Nietzsche in large part because he's
eager to rationalize shoplifting and vandalism, hobbies he loved long before
reading Beyond Good and Evil. Similarly, a Marxist acquaintance of mine and
other left-wing activists recently had a rumble with neo-Nazis in
Washington, D.C. (think of it as a re-enactment of Weimar political
violence) - and while my friend went mostly out of a sincere desire to
oppose fascism, surely he went in part because he enjoys a good fistfight.
So "good intentions" can be a veneer over nasty, misanthropic, sadistic

And that brings us back to the various green activists I mentioned at the

When an activist such as Gar Smith, webzine editor for the Earth Island
Institute (the group that worked to save the "Free Willy" whale), says
"There is a lot of quality to be had in poverty" and complains that
electricity is "destroying" primitive cultures by bringing them media and
machines and raising their standard of living, should we regard him as
well-meaning? According to a report by, Smith says, "I don't
think a lot of electricity is a good thing. It is the fuel that powers a lot
of multi-national imagery."

When the president of Zambia says his nation would "rather starve" than
accept genetically-modified crops - and imminent famine creates the
possibility that Zambia may one day face that very choice - should we view
the anti-biotech activists who created this situation as compassionate
people? Should we listen with sympathy to the hecklers who interrupted Colin
Powell at the Johannesburg Earth Summit when he defended Zimbabwean property
rights and American biotech? U.S. AID Administrator Andrew Natsios,
according to the Washington Times, is one man who is no longer willing to
give the anti-biotech activists the benefit of the doubt. He now openly
criticizes them as obstacles to famine relief. Leftists may soon be forced
to decide which they hate more, famine or technology, and the answer will
speak volumes about whether their vaunted compassion is really misanthropy
in disguise. (One precedent that makes optimism difficult is
environmentalists' support for the ban on DDT, a ban that has cost millions
of lives.)

When the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement calls for all humans to stop
breeding so that humanity vanishes from the Earth - for the sake of Gaia -
they at least do so with some humor, but is it unreasonable to think that
there may be some good, old-fashioned misanthropy (with which any
intelligent person can sympathize) underlying their ostensible concern for
trees and ecosystems? In the grand scheme of things, if even a species as
impressive as humanity doesn't matter, what ultimately makes trees and
ecosystems so important?

Is it possible that many of these green activists are simply growing weary
of decades of disguising a deep hatred of their fellow humans as a deep
concern for nature?

Philosopher John Gray was once more-or-less libertarian but is now the
civilization-despising author of Straw Dogs, in which he argues that
humanity is inherently destructive and predatory and that we should hope the
"plague" of humans will eventually vanish from the Earth, enabling it to
recover from its metaphorical illness. Helene Guldberg, in her Spiked-Online
review of the book, notes that Gray laments the introduction of agriculture
some 10,000 years ago as an attack on nature, while Guldberg counters that
we should "celebrate the birth of agriculture...for marking the start of
human civilization." In adopting his anti-agro view, Gray, previously a
hardcore conservative (at least for a few years after his more libertarian
phase) has reached a reactionary reductio ad absurdum: He has come to hate
modern society so much that he joins the environmentalist radicals of Earth
First! in longing to go "back to the Pleistocine!" (There are times when one
suspects that all the world's fanatical causes are basically
interchangeable, as when the Palestinian spokesman at the Earth Summit used
all of his time to condemn Israel instead of touting environmentalism.)

We live in strange times when a conservative is echoing radical
environmentalists, while Guldberg, part of the Marxist crowd associated with
Spiked-Online and the Institute of Ideas, sticks up for Western
civilization, industry, and science (actually, Marx himself, who admired
progress and condemned the "idiocy" of rural life, probably would have
approved, but nowadays Guldberg and company's sentiments make them unusual
on the left). The Australian philosopher Chandran Kukathas suggested a
decade ago, when Gray first began toying with extreme conservative and
environmentalist views, that Gray should be labeled "blue-green" (in keeping
with the European practice of calling leftists red, conservatives blue, and
environmentalists green). Brian Micklethwait argues on that
Gray is just a grouchy pessimist and always has been.

And people should be allowed to be grouchy pessimists, even grouchy
misanthropes who wish humanity would vanish. But if those are the sorts of
motives that underlie their manifestos against biotech corn and their
protests against multinational agriculture companies, we probably shouldn't
delude ourselves into thinking they have the public good in mind when they
make policy recommendations. It may be time to stop philosophizing with the
greens and start psychoanalyzing them in much the same way that we do other
hate groups.
If you wish to respond to this editorial please email your comments to Also, visit the ACSH FORUMS at
Copyright © 1997-2002 American Council on Science and Health

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