CCNet 111/2002 - 26 September 2002

"When I grow weary of it, I have business
Amongst the stars, which these poor creatures deem
Were made for them to look at. 'Twere a jest now
To bring one down amongst them, and set fire
Unto their ant hill: how the pismires then
Would scamper o'er the scalding soil, and, ceasing
From tearing down each others nests, pipe forth
One universal orison! Ha! Ha!"
--Lord Byron, The Deformed Transformed (1822)

"In their dystopian novel Fallen Angels, science fiction writers
Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle created a future world in which
environmentalists played on the fears of a public ignorant of science,
frightening people with absurd claims that orbiting spacecraft were
somehow causing a new ice age. That's not quite the same as satellite
mind control or delicate gravitational balances, but Niven and Pournelle's
future seems more plausible after the past couple of weeks' developments."
--Glenn Harlan Reynolds, Tech Central Station, 25 September 2002

    ESA Media Relations, 24 September 2002

    CNN, 24 September 2002

    Andrew Yee <>

    Tech Central Station, 25 September 2002

NEAR-EARTH ASTEROIDS", 25 September 2002

    Hermann Burchard <>

    Mike Baillie <>

    Duncan Steel <>

    E.P. Grondine <>



>From ESA Media Relations, 24 September 2002

Paris, 24 September 2002
Press Release
N° 60-2002

Avoiding the fate of the dinosaurs

Tales of asteroids or comets in a collision course with the Earth are always
good to fill space in newspapers during the quiet summer months. Is there
any truth in these tales of impending doom and if so, what is ESA doing
about it?

Certainly if a large comet or asteroid were to collide with the Earth the
result could be apocalyptic. But, the possibilities of this happening are
remote. The latest asteroid scare story to hit the press was that of
2002NT7, believed to be about 2 km in diameter. First reports said that
2002NT7 could collide with the Earth on 1 February 2019 at a speed of 28
km/s. The result would be widespread devastation, if not the end of the
world, predicted in some papers.

Fortunately for those of us who will be around in 2019 the possibility of
this happening is now reported to be negligible (sic). Although first
estimates gave odds of about 1 in 100,000, now that scientists have had more
time to study this 'new' asteroid and its orbit - only discovered in July -
the odds have lengthened considerably [to zero, to be exact; BJP].

Asteroids and comets whose orbits bring them close to the Earth are referred
to as Near Earth Objects (NEOs). Those less than 50 m in size burn up on
entry into the Earth's atmosphere [under the proviso that they are not made
of iron; see Barringer Crater, Arizona, BJP]. It is estimated that around 50
000 fragments of NEOs fall to Earth as meteorites each year, most far too
small to do any damage.

Fortunately, the larger the NEO the less likely it is to collide with the
Earth, as even a NEO 300 m in diameter could wipe out an entire country if
it hit land, and cause even more damage if it struck an ocean, as it would
trigger the enormous waves known as tsunamis that could devastate many
coastal cities.

According to [some] astronomers, a NEO of around 50 m in diameter collides
with the Earth every 100 to 300 years [according to others, this rate is
around once every 1,000 years, BJP] and a NEO with a diameter of 1 km occurs
every few hundred thousand years.  Very large collisions, that could
threaten the existence of all large land species, occur once every hundred
million years. To date, astronomers have identified 600 NEOs bigger than 1
km but believe that there are possibly half as many again still waiting to
be tracked.

But, even if the odds are on our side, the fact remains that at some time or
other the Earth will again be hit by a large NEO, such as that thought to
have wiped out the dinosaur population 65 million years ago. So to return to
the second question, what is ESA doing about it?

ESA and NEOs

ESA has been supporting activities to monitor and investigate NEOs for a
number of years. In ESA's view, these are activities that surpass national
boundaries and which it considers to be a service to the international
community. ESA's space research institute outside Rome in Italy, ESRIN, also
hosts the Spaceguard Central Node. This private non-profit scientific
organisation aims to support and coordinate NEO research throughout the

Now ESA has launched a new project to seek the best ideas from industry and
academia on how to protect the Earth from NEOs and in particular, to learn
more about them. The damage an NEO causes depends on the speed at which it
hits the Earth, its size and what it is made of. So, the more we know about
them the easier it will be to decide which are potentially dangerous and
what is the best action to take.

In June a panel of NEO experts met to select the best six proposals. Andrés
Gálvez, one of ESA's representatives on the panel reports, "the six winning
proposals were selected because the mission concepts would help to answer
essential questions on the NEO threat such as: how many are there, what is
their size and mass, are they compact bodies or loose rock aggregates?

This information, as well as other data, is needed before adequate
mitigation procedures can be developed."

The winning six are: 

· Don Quijote:  This proposal is for a spacecraft 'named Hidalgo' to hit a
target asteroid at high speed while the other, 'Sancho', observes what
happens from a safe distance before, during and after the impact, to gather
information on the NEO's internal structure. This will also test
possible future mitigation techniques, such as whether 'Hidalgo' could be
programmed to hit the asteroid to change its orbit so that it avoids
collision with the Earth.

· Earthguard 1: A spacecraft using propulsion technology such as solar sails
or electric propulsion, or 'hitching a ride' on a future launch, would be
placed in a heliocentric orbit to observe NEOs from a more favourable

· ISHTAR: This would probe the interior of an NEO to study its structure and
assess the danger with radar tomography, a new technology that uses ground
penetrating radar to make images of the interior of a solid body.

· SIMONE: A fleet of low-cost small satellites would fly by and/or
rendezvous with a number of NEOs to characterise the population and obtain
first hand information on the hazardous objects.

· EUNEOS: A space survey would be undertaken from an inner solar system
orbit to find the most dangerous NEOs. These are often the most difficult to
observe from ground-based observatories as very often these faint objects
only appear in the daytime sky or very close to the horizon.

· Remote observation of NEOs from Space: A space-based observatory to carry
out remote sensing and detect physical characteristics of NEOs, such as
size, composition and surface properties.

Andrea Carusi, President of the Spaceguard Foundation, believes  "it is very
important that ESA, one of the largest space agencies, and one that is
already deeply involved in support of NEO studies, has decided to take a
further step in this direction".

Preliminary studies, funded by the Agency's General Studies Programme, are
now under way for the six proposals. Once these are submitted in 2003, ESA
will judge whether one or more of the proposed missions is feasible and
merits further development.

For further information, please contact :
ESA Media Relations Service
Tel : +33(0)
Fax: +33(0)


>From CNN, 24 September 2002

By Richard Stenger (CNN)
(CNN) -- Taking high-altitude spins in a fighter jet in the days leading up
to the September equinox, scientists looked for a legendary group of
asteroids that might circle the sun closer than Mercury.

The innermost region of the solar system has been the subject of
considerable debate since the late 19th Century, when many astronomers
concluded that perturbations in Mercury's orbit must be caused by a hidden
planet, dubbed "Vulcan" after the Roman god of fire and metallurgy.

Within decades, Einstein's theory of relativity explained away the
gravitational glitches, but theoretical models still indicated that perhaps
hundreds of space boulders up to about 20 miles (30 kilometers) in diameter
could survive between Mercury and the sun.

The possibility tantalized Alan Stern and Dan Durda of the Southwest
Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado, who last week soared to
nearly 50,000 feet (15,000 meters), snapping pictures of promising space
regions to find the fabled space rocks.

Vulcanoids, because of their small size and proximity to the sun, would be
too faint for detection except under the most ideal viewing conditions.

Stern and Durda timed their stratospheric runs in an F-18 to just before
dawn, when the Earth blocks the obliterating light of the sun from the
innermost part of the solar system.

Moreover, they took to the skies as close as they could to the September 23
equinox, when the positional relationship of the Earth and sun offers the
best viewing opportunities.

Over the following months, they will sift through hundreds of thousands of
images to look for evidence of the asteroids.

"Everything went well. The data looks good [but] the actual full reduction
of data will take many weeks. I can't give you a eureka moment answer as to
whether we found anything," Durda said.

No vulcanoids turned up after a similar search around the March equinox. But
Stern and Durda's latest expedition above the California desert could prove
more productive, considering that their specialized digital video camera was
equipped with a more powerful lens.

"It can detect objects roughly five times fainter than in the spring," said
Alan Brown, a spokesman at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center in California,
which hosted the aerial experiment.

The camera, originally designed by the SwRI for use on the space shuttle,
can take images of objects as many as 600 times fainter than what the
unaided human eye can see.

Stern, Durda and colleagues would eventually like to take their search even
higher, looking for the fabled drifters in a modified spy plane.

"We're hoping to fly to 70,000 feet (21,000 meters) in a U-2 to get up to a
darker sky," said SwRI astronomer Dick Terrell.

Copyright 2002, CNN


>From Andrew Yee <>

[ ]

Monday, September 23, 2002, 5:16 PM CDT

Clarke, astronauts discuss future of space exploration

HOUSTON (AP) -- As a group of people attentively listened to his disembodied
voice, renowned science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke lamented the
progress the world has made in its exploration of space.

"We're lucky to get to Mars in 2020," Clarke said via telephone during an
event Monday commemorating the 40th anniversary of President John F.
Kennedy's speech at Rice University where he set forth his goal of landing
on the moon.

Clarke was among several people who participated in a panel discussion at
Rice Stadium, the site of Kennedy's speech on Sept. 12, 1962. Clarke spoke
about how Kennedy's words, which once inspired the race to space, have now
fallen on deaf ears.

"The end of the Cold War removed one of the main motivations for the space
race," Clarke said from his home in Sri Lanka. "We've reached the stage here
not one nation, not even the United States can do it alone. (Space
exploration) should be a global enterprise."

Former astronaut Gene Cernan, the last person to walk on the moon, said
space exploration today is unexciting, uninteresting and most people,
especially children and teens, don't seem to care about it.

In order to inspire future generations to carry on the work of further
exploration, Cernan said the idea of opening up space travel to private
citizens needs to be greatly expanded so children and teens can go up in
orbit and be given a sense of ownership of space.

"I think this nation almost has the obligation to go back to the moon and
press on to Mars," he said.

Clarke said he is still keen on the idea that building a space elevator,
which he proposed in his 1979 book "The Fountains of Paradise," can be one
of the answers to ferrying people into space.

The "elevator" would actually be an extremely strong cable strung up to a
satellite thousands of miles above. However, the technology to build the
super strong cable doesn't yet exist.

"The cost of taking human beings to the space station in orbit could be
$200" one day, said Clarke, best known for the novel and film "2001: A Space

California businessman Dennis Tito, who last year became the world's first
space tourist when he paid $20 million for a ride on a Russian rocket to the
international space station, was among the panelists on Monday.

"Did Arthur Clarke say $200 to go into space? I wonder if I can get my money
back?" Tito joked.

Tito said he was disappointed that 'N Sync singer Lance Bass would not be
the latest space tourist because his flight would have inspired a great
amount of interest in space by young people.

"I think we will see more citizens flying. The public can identify more with
private citizens flying," he said. If the cost drops "we will see space
flight become more a part of our culture."

Astronaut Franklin Chang-Diaz said Kennedy's speech captured the imagination
of not just the United States but of the world.

"I believe we have this capability of leading the world in this great
adventure," said Chang-Diaz, who was 12-years-old when he listened to
Kennedy's speech on the radio from his native country of Costa Rica. "We
have to find a way to expand our presence all over space so we can ensure
the survival of our species."

Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


>From Tech Central Station, 25 September 2002

By Glenn Harlan Reynolds 09/25/2002 
In folklore, the moon has long had a reputation for bringing on craziness.
And in a way, it does. At least, space and the moon seem to have agitated
the loonier parts of the political left into, well, raving lunacy.

Exhibit one is the response to the U.S. government's approval of
TransOrbital's commercial moon mission. TransOrbital plans to launch a space
probe that will return HDTV images of the Moon (including some of the Apollo
landing sites, thus exploding conspiracy theories that the landings were
faked) and deliver payload to the surface of the moon (you can send a
business card for $2,500).

The reaction was swift. The website Democrats.Com (which is not officially
connected to the party of JFK) responded with this rather alarmist take:

Like all the other international laws, Bush is now ignoring those
pertaining to space. As America is distracted by 9/11 remembrances
and warnings of new threats, His Heinous has turned the moon over to a
private, for-profit corporation called TransOrbital that has a
far-reaching, frightening agenda for the corporate domination of space. All
TransOrbital had to do was promise not to contaminate and pollute the
moon - yeah, right. That's what the oil companies say about ANWR.
There was no Congressional vote - not even any consultation. Bush simply
acted as if the moon were his to give away. **The TransOrbital venture
could be disastrous for the globe - no scientist today could predict yet how
adding mass to the moon via human infrastructure or removing mass, via
mining, will impact the delicate gravitational interplay between
Earth and its only satellite. The moon belongs to all the people of
the Earth - not to George. W. Bush or his friends at TransOrbital.**
(Emphasis added).

It's hard to know where to start with such silliness. The part about
ignoring international law is just wrong, as is the part about Congress not
acting. Actually Congress acted back in 1984, when it passed the Commercial
Space Launch Act (here's a link to the current version) that provides for
such regulation. Commercial space activity is regulated (as it was under
President Clinton) by the Federal Aviation Administration's Associate
Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation, whose duties include
determining, in consultation with the State Department, whether a licensee
will be acting in accordance with the international law obligations of the
United States.

As for the notion that lunar mining will impact the "delicate gravitational
interplay" between the Earth and its "only satellite," well, that's not true
either. (If I'm not mistaken, this idea appears to have come from the recent
movie "The Time Machine.") Actually, the "gravitational balance' isn't all
that "delicate." The Earth and the Moon weigh (well, technically they don't
"weigh," but "mass") as much as, well, planets, and the few hundred pounds
involved in Transorbital's plans - or even the larger quantities from
long-term plans for Helium3 mining - won't disturb anything. The Earth and
Moon each experience substantial influxes of mass on a regular basis - the
Earth receives about 100 tonnes of interplanetary dust per day. Yet somehow,
the "delicate balance" remains intact.

Sadly, this isn't the only space-related lunacy. The Berkeley City Council
has endorsed Rep. Dennis Kucinich's (D-Ohio) "Space Preservation Act," which
bans any sort of military presence in space (including satellite-based "mind
control" devices). But on Earth First! email lists, some environmentalists
aren't happy with Kucinich's bill, because it would still allow commercial
activity in outer space: they want to see space kept as a "wilderness" area,
completely off limits to human activity.

In their dystopian novel Fallen Angels, science fiction writers Larry Niven
and Jerry Pournelle created a future world in which environmentalists played
on the fears of a public ignorant of science, frightening people with absurd
claims that orbiting spacecraft were somehow causing a new ice age. That's
not quite the same as satellite mind control or delicate gravitational
balances, but Niven and Pournelle's future seems more plausible after the
past couple of weeks' developments.

It is tempting to respond to this silliness with derision: tempting, and
worthwhile, since such absurdities should never go unchallenged. One might
even be tempted to respond the way Buzz Aldrin recently responded to a
moon-landing conspiracy theorist: with a punch in the nose. But however
appealing such responses might be, they don't address the core problem: a
public ignorant enough of science that absurd claims might actually find
some traction. Instead of introducing legislation to ban space-based "mind
control" beams, members of Congress should take the lead in encouraging
people to actually learn about science. "Mind construction," instead of
"mind control." The only question is, does Congress think it's better off
when the American public is knowledgeable, or ignorant? I'm afraid I know
the answer to that one, too.

Copyright 2002, Tech Central Station


>From, 25 September 2002



>From Hermann Burchard <>

Dear Benny,

In his recent CCNet Essay, Bob Kobres writes "Don Yeomans, in his COMETS
(1991, page 162) reports that eight comets (inclusive of Lexell) came within
2500 Earth radii during the eighteenth century--Did dust from these visits
contribute to the factors that produced such variable and often unseasonably
cold weather in the 1700s?"  According to Yeomans' book, comet 1743 I
approached to within 915 Earth radii < .04 AU.  That would be deep inside
the tail or even coma.

These cold spells of the 18th Century came to my attention first from
reading in Mike Baillie's book "Exodus..".  Benjamin Franklin has some
choice details of how bad the cold was near Hudson's Bay (where it gets cold
every winter but probably not that cold) in response to his readers
complaining about cold Pennsylvania.  [Poor Richard's Improved Almanack,

The influence of cometary (and asteroid) encounters of the various kinds on
human history and prehistory has been a constant theme of the Cambridge
Conference:  Bronze Age civilization collapse, Sea Peoples, the Justinian
disasters, Carolingian collapse [CCNet ESSAY: THE CATASTROPHIC YEARS AROUND
850 AD (12/05/00), James T Palmer and Trevor Palmer]. Their
pervasive influence over the centuries, has been discussed frequently by
contributors, such as Clube, Napier, Peiser, Kobres, Grondine, and Baillie,
to name a few. Many historical contexts have been linked to suspected cosmic
impacts, now more and more proven, as when Marie-Agnes
Courty reported on spherule layers coincident with burnt surface destruction
horizons in Northern Syria 2350 BCE [The SIS Cambridge Conference 1997].

Here, I would like to suggest that history and characteristic historical
movements of the age may have been influenced in major ways by comet-induced
18th century climate deterioration. Lord Clive took India for England
expelling France 1755 and there can be little doubt that both
nations were looking for real estate nearer the Equator. Therefore, it may
not be unreaonable to consider that the British Raj began with cosmogenic
cometary influences.

It also would not surprise me if a precise understanding of the various wars
and revolutions of the 18th century would show the weather factor at work.
In particular, was the American Revolution [Stamp Act Crisis 1764-1766,
Declaration of Independence 1776] co-caused by the severe
climate? In the 18th century as in other ages, it appears people were roused
from settled conditions because of extreme hardships from deteriorating
climate. Wars and seditions are likely consequences, as the collective
consciousness seeks a rational outlet for frustrations over
implausible because unexplained short-term or medium-term catastrophes.

The Cajuns - Acadians, now mostly familiar as French-speaking inhabitants
living in the state of Louisiana at the mouth of the Mississippi, happened
to be deported from Nova Scotia 1755. There was not enough food for these
people when England needed it for their soldiers. The Acadians wanted no
truck with the French garrisons at Louisbourg nearby.  See web pages of

You may not find much sympathy from either Bluepete (Peter Landry) or any
Acadian descendants for this point of view, but I did convince myself that
contrary to the usual teachings of history, the Cajun deportations was
essentially an humanatarian enterprise, disguised behind stern motives of

>From Bluepete's pages:

"The thought of getting rid of the Acadians was first expressed not too long
after the capture of Port Royal in 1710 and one that was expressed numerous
times as the 18th century wore on. However, the government in England did
not pursue the matter and the Acadians were pretty much left alone by the
local English authority, represented, as it was, by one small and
incapacitated English garrison located at Annapolis Royal. This situation
was to dramatically change through a six year period beginning in 1749."

Thus, although selfish reasons of statecraft gave origin to a plan to
deport, nothing was done till the height of cometary interference. The
conquest of Quebec [1759] was imminent, and no provender could be spared.
Why not let them starve? Well, the British are known for their humane or
humanitarian outlook. All under cover of a harsh regime, mind you. We must
keep a stiff upper lip. Cannot let signs of weakness show through.

The Acadians were given the opportunity to go to Louisbourg, but had no
interest, they declined the offer. Orders were given to the English troops
to stay in camp unless needing water, and not to injure French inhabitants
(after one Frenchman was shot off of his horse while trying to
leave the deportation camps).

The British equipped a fleet of some 24 ships 21 transport plus 3 armed

A docile crowd of more than 6,000 (?) Acadians offered no resistance,
further evidence that this was understood to be a humanitarian effort. The
fleet sailed October 27th, 1755.

It sailed days before the Lisbon earthquake (of superior magnitude). It
happened on the same day apparently when the fleet of deportation of the
Cajuns was caught in a big storm. It was November 1.  The night-time alpha
Taurids are suspects again! The strange circumstances of the quake --
continent-wide, with tsunami of 8 feet (?) in England, etc, seiches, etc,
soil dilation in Lisbon, suggest an impact somewhere on the oceans or
continents, probably an alpha-Taurid cometary fragment, possibly multiple.
Was this the cosmic impact near Australia just prior to Europeans setting
foot on the continent according to Aboriginal legend, reported by Ted
Bryant in his book "Tsunami, the Underrated Hazard"? But not all of the
numerous 18th century cometary cousins closing in upon Earth were from the
Encke brotherhood, or were they?

Best regards,


>From Mike Baillie <>


As you'll hear from several of us N Ireland folks, the 1997 crater that
might have been due to an IRA bomb or a meteorite was a yard wide, not a
mile wide. Seems like Trivial researchers were working from a Chinese



>From Duncan Steel <>

I have previously noted how the great poet, Lord Byron, recognised that
cometary impacts had occurred on the Earth in the past, owing something to
his familiarity with the palaeontological work of Baron Cuvier. Byron might
also be thought of as being the inventor of the concept of planetary
defence; in the early 1820s he said:

"Who knows whether, when a comet shall approach this globe to
destroy it, as it often has been and will be destroyed, men will
not tear rocks from their foundations by means of steam, and hurl
mountains, as the giants are said to have done, against the flaming
mass? - and then we shall have traditions of Titans again, and of
wars with Heaven."

Digging through some old notes I have come across another place in which
Byron alluded to the impact hazard, and how humankind might respond when the
next event occurs. In "The Deformed Transformed"  (1822) the first part ends
with Caesar saying this:

"When I grow weary of it, I have business
Amongst the stars, which these poor creatures deem
Were made for them to look at. 'Twere a jest now
To bring one down amongst them, and set fire
Unto their ant hill: how the pismires then
Would scamper o'er the scalding soil, and, ceasing
>From tearing down each others nests, pipe forth
One universal orison! Ha! Ha!"

Duncan Steel


>From E.P. Grondine <>

Hello Benny -

I was wondering, does anyone know of any work that has been done on the
propagation of the blast waves thrown off when the fragments of Comet
Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit Jupiter? I would imagine that at a distance these would
be composed of little more than a few gas molecules moving at some speed,
but I simply do not know that for a fact.

Have these blast waves already hit the "asteroid belt", or are they still
due there? Have they already hit the Earth's outer atmosphere and interacted
with it, or is this yet to come?

As this question has been nagging me for the last several days, being the
generaous soul that I am, I thought I would share its nuisance with other
Conference particpants.

as always, yours in science,


>From, 25 September 2002
Sep. 25 - A top Russian space official has proposed temporarily shutting
down the International Space Station (ISS) because the cash-strapped country
can no longer pay its bills, a Russian newspaper reported Wednesday.

"The situation is desperate," Valeri Riumin said, as quoted by the daily
Trud, and said that he had written to his counterpart at NASA, Bill
Gerstenmaier, with that proposal.

He said that four years ago, Russia committed to sending six Progress cargo
vessels to the ISS and two manned Soyuz capsules each year.

"In 2001, there were five (Progress vessels), in 2002 three and next year we
can only build two, just to maintain the orbit of the ISS and keep it from
plummeting to Earth," Riumin, who heads the Energia space construction
company, said.

He said the situation regarding the Soyuz capsules, which function as rescue
vehicles for the cosmonauts and astronauts working on the ISS, was similarly

"One vessel is under construction, but there is no more money for the
second" one, Riumin said, chastising the government for "not being
interested" in the future of the multi-national ISS, which 14 countries

The highly indebted Energia has been forced to take out bank loans because
the Russian state is not contributing its share to the ISS, the paper

Energia's debts amount to 1 billion rubles ($32 million), and the company is
at risk of default, the paper reported.

The U.S. space authority NASA, facing severe budget cuts, has also announced
that it will reduce its contributions to the ISS but has not said by how

Copyright 2002 AFP

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CCNet TERRA 5/2002 - 25 September 2002

"Southern Africa's food crisis is set to be the worst in a decade.
Around 14.5m people are dangerously hungry, and many have been
reduced to eating wild leaves and pig food. One might, then, expect
food aid to be welcomed. But Zambia is refusing to accept American
donations because much of its corn and soya is genetically modified (GM).
Zambia's president, Levy Mwanawasa, calls the stuff "poison" and
refuses to import it, despite a warning from the UN World Food
Programme, on September 16th, that relief supplies in his country
could run out in two weeks."
--The Economist, 19 September 2002

"This latest evidence of the greening desert is good news for the
people of the region who have borne more than their fair share of bad
luck when it comes to climate. Strangely absent from this news is any
attribution that the change in Saharan climate might be human- induced a la
`global warming' or even CO2 fertilisation. The reason for this is quite
simple - all human-induced climate change must be bad by definition. If
anything good happens, such as this greening of the desert, then it must
be due to some other cause. We don't want to confuse the `policymakers' do
--John Daly, 20 September 2002

    The Economist, 19 September 2002

    BBC Online News, 18 September 2002

(3) GREENING DESERT, 20 September 2002

    CO2 Science Magazine, 25 September 2002

    CO2 Science Magazine, 25 September 2002

    Goddar Space Flight Centre, 20 September 2002

(7) THE END OF THE CLIMATE DEBATE?, 28 September 2002

    Insight Magazine, 18 September 2002


>From The Economist, 19 September 2002

Southern Africa's food crisis is set to be the worst in a decade. Around
14.5m people are dangerously hungry, and many have been reduced to eating
wild leaves and pig food. One might, then, expect food aid to be welcomed.
But Zambia is refusing to accept American donations because much of its corn
and soya is genetically modified (GM). Zambia's president, Levy Mwanawasa,
calls the stuff "poison" and refuses to import it, despite a warning from
the UN World Food Programme, on September 16th, that relief supplies in his
country could run out in two weeks.

Africans have two reasons for being wary of GM food aid: one silly, one
slightly less so. The silly reason is the suggestion that GM foods are a
danger to human health. Americans have been chomping GM maize and soyabeans
for seven years, without detectable harm. And compared with the clear and
immediate danger posed by malnutrition, the possibility of being poisoned by
Frankencorn seems rather remote.

The more sensible reason for being wary of GM foods is that there are people
who, not being in any danger of starvation, are precious about what they
eat. They are called Europeans. And their tastes matter enormously in Africa
because countries such as Zambia earn much of their hard currency from
agricultural exports to rich countries, so any plausible threat to this
trade has to be taken extremely seriously.

GM food aid is such a threat because if a Zambian peasant were to plant GM
seeds from an aid shipment, these might pollinate (or, as Greenpeace puts
it, "contaminate") neighbouring fields. Before long, farmers might no longer
be able to convince European buyers that their products were GM-free-making
them harder to sell.

While imports of GM food are not barred from Europe by law, consumers are so
suspicious of them that supermarkets have constructed elaborate systems to
certify that the food they sell is unmodified. Tesco, for example, a British
supermarket, promises that there are no GM products in its own-brand food.
It audits its suppliers to make sure they comply, and has samples of foods
tested for traces of DNA that would indicate that some of the ingredients
have been genetically modified.

The laboratory tests for GM ingredients do not work by screening for genetic
modification per se, but look for already known pieces of DNA or protein
that reveal the presence of recognised GM foods. In other words, the tests
look for GM foods that have been registered and approved by at least one
country's food-safety authorities. New and unknown GM ingredients wouldn't
show up, says Neil Griffiths, head of Law Laboratories in Birmingham,
England, a firm involved in the testing business. Testing is also difficult
in highly processed foods. Oil derived from GM soyabeans, for example,
cannot be tested as it often contains no DNA or protein.

While the testing regime is flawed, it is stringent enough to present a
serious problem for farmers in poor countries who want to export their
crops. The fears of pampered northerners are thus creating an obstacle to
the acceptance of food aid and the adoption of technology that might make
the poor less poor.

Other hungry countries in the region, such as Zimbabwe and Mozambique, have
decided, despite initial reluctance, to accept GM food aid. In Zimbabwe, the
government decided to tackle the problem of "contamination" by milling aid
corn before distributing it, so that it cannot be replanted. (There are,
though, concerns that seeds could still be stolen before the government is
able to mill them.) Zambia may yet follow its neighbours' example; local
scientists have been sent to Europe, America and South Africa to study the
pros and cons of GM, and will report back shortly.

Europe's anti-GM hysteria, however, will continue to deter farmers in poor
countries (the majority of the population) from planting crops which tend to
have higher yields and require fewer applications of costly and dangerous
chemical pesticides. Hardly a green outcome.

Copyright 2002, the Economist


>From BBC Online News, 18 September 2002

By Corinne Podger
BBC science unit 
Satellite pictures of northern Africa show that areas lost to the Sahara
desert during decades of drought are turning green again.

Analysis of images show deserts retreating in a broad band stretching from
Mauritania to Eritrea, according to research in British magazine New

The driving force behind the retreat of the deserts is believed to be
increased rainfall.

Better farming methods have also played a critical role, according to

Twenty years ago, severe droughts turned much of northern Burkina Faso into
a desert.

But satellite surveys of the region have shown that vegetation is returning
to the country - and, indeed, across the southern edge of the Sahara desert.

Reclaiming farmland

The surveys were funded by Dutch, German and American aid agencies, and will
be presented to ministers in Burkina Faso later this year.

And new comparisons with archived images also show increasing grassland and
forest vegetation in southern Mauritania, north-western Niger, central Chad,
as well as in Sudan and parts of Eritrea.

And the researchers say that while overall improvements have been steady,
dramatic progress has been made in particular villages and areas,
particularly those where donor agencies have invested consistently in soil
and water conservation.

One particularly successful farming technique is known as "contour bunding".
It consists in placing lines of stones along slopes and contours on the land
to help rainfall soak in, and to stop topsoil washing away.

And that is helping to transform thousands of hectares into productive
fields - where nothing grew just a decade ago.

Copyright 2002, BBC


>From, 20 September 2002

According to a new report in New Scientist, the mighty Sahara Desert is
receding (also reported by the BBC). This latest example of climate change,
cutting a green swathe right across what was previously arid parts of Africa
has been going on since the mid 1980s and reverses the desertification trend
which was active during the 1960s and 1970s. Yet only a few weeks ago, the
UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the parent body of the IPCC, claimed at the
Johannesburg summit that over 45% of Africa was currently in the grip of
desertification, with the Sahel worst affected. Now we find that claim was
manifestly false, since it is precisely the Sahel region which is benefiting
most from the greening.

The Sahara previously expanded south during a cool period globally, and is
now retreating  again during a warmer period, an object lesson in the perils
of cooler climate.

A paper in Nature (Petit et al., v.399, p.429, 3 June 1999) presented
Antarctic ice core data covering the last four ice ages, and in each one
there was a big increase in dust deposits in the ice during those ice ages,
carried there from thousands of miles away.  This dust could only be
evidence of extreme aridity elsewhere in the world during these cold
periods.  Once each ice age ended, the dust content fell to extremely low
levels, indicating that vegetation was being re-established in previously
arid regions.  In other words, `warm' equates to greening, `cool' equates to

This latest evidence of the greening desert is good news for the people of
the region who have borne more than their fair share of bad luck when it
comes to climate.

Strangely absent from this news is any attribution that the change in
Saharan climate might be human-induced a la `global warming' or even CO2
fertilisation. The reason for this is quite simple - all human-induced
climate change must be bad by definition. If anything good happens, such as
this greening of the desert, then it must be due to some other cause. We
don't want to confuse the `policymakers' do we?


>From CO2 Science Magazine, 25 September 2002

Yang, B., Braeuning, A., Johnson, K.R. and Yafeng, S.  2002.  General
characteristics of temperature variation in China during the last two
millennia.  Geophysical Research Letters 29: 10.1029/2001GL014485.

What was done
Using nine separate proxy climate records derived from peat, lake sediment,
ice core, tree ring and other proxy sources, the authors compiled a single
weighted temperature history for China spanning the past two thousand years.

What was learned
The composite temperature record revealed five distinct climate epochs: a
warm stage from AD 0 to 240 (the tail-end of the Roman Warm Period), a cold
interval between AD 240 and 800 (the Dark Ages Cold Period), a return to
warm conditions from AD 800-1400 (which included the Medieval Warm Period
between AD 800 and 1100), a cool interval between 1400 and 1820 (the Little
Ice Age), and the current warm regime (the Modern Warm Period) that followed
the increase in temperature that began in the early 1800s. Another important
finding of the study was the fact that the warmest temperatures of the past
two millennia were observed during the second and third centuries AD.

What it means
The results of this study demonstrate that the so-called unprecedented
warmth of the 20th century is a myth. Indeed, the warmth of this period was
but a manifestation of naturally-induced regularly-recurring conditions
similar to those experienced in prior millennia.  These results also serve
as a testimony against those who would deny the existence of an extensive
(hemispheric or global) Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age, as well as
an extensive Roman Warm Period and Dark Ages Cold Period, as well as natural
cyclical climate changes.  It's time for such folks to wake up and recognize
the (likely) solar-induced dynamic nature of real-world climate!
Copyright © 2002. Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change 


>From Co2 Science Magazine, 25 September 2002

The study of Antarctic temperatures has provided valuable insight and
spurred contentious debate on issues pertaining to global climate change.
Key among the pertinent findings has been the observation of a large-scale
correlation between proxy temperature and CO2 measurements obtained from ice
cores drilled in the interior of the continent. In the mid- to late-1980s,
this broad correlation dominated much of the global change debate; and many
a climate alarmist jumped on the global warming bandwagon, saying the
CO2-temperature correlation proved that changes in CO2 caused changes in
temperature, and that future increases in CO2 from anthropogenic sources
would therefore intensify global warming.

By the late 1990s and early 2000s, however, the bottom began to fall out of
the poorly constructed bandwagon, as the correlation glue that held it
together began to weaken. Advances in ice coring instrumentation and
techniques improved considerably, and newer ice core studies with finer
temporal resolution began to reveal that, if anything, increases (decreases)
in air temperature drive increases (decreases) in atmospheric CO2
concentration, and not vice versa (see Indermuhle et al., 2000, Monnin et
al., 2001 and the many other references in the CO2-Temperature Correlations
section in our Subject Index). Thus, a severe blow was dealt to the climate
alarmist community, as a major tenant of the global warming hypothesis was
shown to be contradicted by real-world observations.

A second major blow has also been dealt the global warming hypothesis; and
it comes not from proxy temperature records of the distant past, but from
the instrumental temperature record of the more recent past. This second
setback is manifested in the contradiction between observed and
model-predicted Antarctic temperature trends. According to nearly all
climate models, CO2-induced global warming should be most evident in earth's
polar regions; but analyses of Antarctic near-surface and tropospheric air
temperatures tell a radically different story.

Doran et al. (2002) examined temperature trends in the McMurdo Dry Valleys
of Antarctica over the period 1986 to 2000 and reported a phenomenal cooling
rate of approximately 0.7°C per decade.  This dramatic rate of cooling, they
state, "reflects longer term continental Antarctic cooling between 1966 and
2000." In addition to sharing the same cooling trend, most of the 14-year
temperature decline in the dry valleys occurred in the summer and autumn,
just as most of the 35-year cooling over the continent as a whole (which did
not include any data from the dry valleys) also occurred in the summer and

In another study, Comiso (2000) assembled and analyzed Antarctic temperature
data obtained from 21 surface stations and from infrared satellites
operating since 1979.  They found that for all of Antarctica, temperatures
had declined by 0.08°C and 0.42°C per decade, respectively, when assessed
via these two data sets. And in yet another study, Thompson and Solomon
(2002) also report a cooling trend for the interior of Antarctica. In spite
of the several-decade-old cooling that has been observed for the continent
as a whole, however, one region of Antarctica has warmed - the Antarctic
Peninsula/Bellingshausen Sea region. But is the temperature increase that
has occurred there evidence of CO2-induced global warming?

Probably not. According to Vaughan et al. (2001), "rapid regional warming"
has led to the loss of seven ice shelves in this region during the past 50
years. However, sediment cores reveal that from 6000 to 1900 years ago, the
Prince Gustav Channel Ice Shelf - which collapsed in this region in 1995 -
"was absent and climate was as warm as it has been recently."  Although it
is tempting for climate alarmists to cite the 20th century increase in
atmospheric CO2 concentration as the cause of the recent regional warming,
"to do so without offering a mechanism," say Vaughan et al., "is
superficial."  And so it is, as the recent work of Thompson and Solomon
(2002) suggests that much of the warming can be explained by "a systematic
bias toward the high-index polarity of the SAM," or Southern Hemispheric
Annular Mode, such that the ring of westerly winds encircling Antarctica has
recently been spending more time in its strong-wind phase.

When all is said and done, therefore, the temperature history of Antarctica
provides no evidence for the CO2-induced global warming hypothesis. In fact,
it argues strongly against it.

Comiso, J.C. 2000. Variability and trends in Antarctic surface temperatures
from in situ and satellite infrared measurements.  Journal of Climate 13:

Doran, P.T., Priscu, J.C., Lyons, W.B., Walsh, J.E., Fountain, A.G.,
McKnight, D.M., Moorhead, D.L., Virginia, R.A., Wall, D.H., Clow, G.D.,
Fritsen, C.H., McKay, C.P. and Parsons, A.N.  2002.  Antarctic climate
cooling and terrestrial ecosystem response.  Nature advance online
publication, 13 January 2002 (DOI 10.1038/nature710).

Indermuhle, A., Monnin, E., Stauffer, B. and Stocker, T.F.  2000.
Atmospheric CO2 concentration from 60 to 20 kyr BP from the Taylor Dome ice
core, Antarctica.  Geophysical Research Letters 27: 735-738.

Monnin, E., Indermühle, A., Dällenbach, A., Flückiger, J, Stauffer, B.,
Stocker, T.F., Raynaud, D. and Barnola, J.-M.  2001.  Atmospheric CO2
concentrations over the last glacial termination.  Nature 291: 112-114.

Thompson, D.W.J. and Solomon, S. 2002. Interpretation of recent Southern
Hemisphere climate change.  Science 296: 895-899.

Vaughan, D.G., Marshall, G.J., Connolley, W.M., King, J.C. and Mulvaney, R.
2001. Devil in the detail. Science 293: 177-179.
Copyright © 2002.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change


>From Goddar Space Flight Centre, 20 September 2002

A new NASA-funded study used a computer climate model to simulate the last
50 years of climate changes, projects warming over the next 50 years
regardless of whether or not nations curb their greenhouse gas (GHG)
emissions soon. If no emission reductions are made and they continue to
increase at the current rate, global temperatures may increase by 1-2°
Celsius (1.8°-3.6° Fahrenheit). But if the growth rate of carbon dioxide
does not exceed its current rate and if the growth of true air pollutants
(things that are harmful to human health) is reversed, temperatures may rise
by only 0.75C (1.35F).

"Some continued global warming will occur, probably about 0.5C (0.9F) even
if the greenhouse gases in the air do not increase further, but the warming
could be much less than the worst case scenarios," said Jim Hansen, lead
researcher on the study from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies
(GISS), N.Y. This research was a collaborative effort of 19 institutions,
including 7 universities, federal agencies, private industry and other NASA
The GISS "SI2000" climate model provided a convincing demonstration that
global temperature change of the past half-century is mainly a response to
climate forcing agents, or imposed perturbations of the Earth's energy
balance. This is especially true of human-made forcings, such as carbon
dioxide and methane, which trap the Earth's heat radiation as a blanket
traps body heat; thus they cause warming.

The computer model's ability to simulate the past 50 years of global
temperature change provided confidence in understanding the causes behind
climate changes that have occurred over that time period. The sensitivity of
the "SI2000" model to a climate forcing is comparable to that of other
climate computer models. Model results from 1951-2000 are in close agreement
with observed changes; the surface has warmed by about .5°C (0.9°F) while
the upper atmosphere (10-15 mile altitudes) has cooled by about 1°C (1.8°F).

The climate model was then used to simulate global temperature change during
the next 50 years, under two contrasting assumptions for future growth of
human-made forcings.

The first assumption for the emissions of GHGs is the "business-as-usual"
scenario where GHGs continue to increase rapidly. This scenario leads to an
accelerating rate of global warming, raising global temperature to levels
that have not existed during the past several hundred thousand years.

In the "alternative" scenario, in which air pollution is decreased and
fossil fuel CO2 emissions are stabilized, further global warming is limited
to 0.75°C (1.35°F) in the next 50 years. Hansen cautioned that the
'alternative' scenario will not be easy to achieve. It requires that the
world begin to reverse the growth of true air pollution (especially 'soot'
and the gases that control surface ozone, including methane) and also that
we flatten out and eventually begin to decrease CO2 emissions.

The climate forcing agents that Hansen and his co-authors include in their
climate simulations are: (1) long-lived greenhouse gases such as carbon
dioxide, methane and the chlorofluorocarbons; (2) stratospheric aerosols
(fine particles) from volcanic eruptions; (3) variations in the Sun's energy
indicated by sunspots; (4) ozone changes - both at the surface (a pollutant)
and upper atmosphere (protects from the Sun's ultraviolet rays); (5)
stratospheric water vapor and; (6) tropospheric air pollution aerosols,
including black and organic carbon (soot) and sulfates.

Achievement of stable CO2 emissions, as required in the alternative scenario
that yields minimal climate change, it is likely to require some combination
of increased energy efficiencies, a growing role for renewable energies,
capture and sequestration of CO2 emissions, and/or increased use of nuclear
power. All of these possibilities are being addressed by the National
Climate Change Technology Initiative.

"Decision-makers, including the public, may need to consider all of these
options as climate change becomes more apparent and as our understanding of
the climate forcing agents improves," Hansen said. "Halting and reversing
the growth of air pollution is possible with existing and developing
technologies. It would have other benefits, especially for human health and
agricultural productivity."

This research was funded by NASA, and appears in the next issue of the
Journal of Geophysical Research--Atmospheres.


>From, 28 September 2002

By Lee C. Gerhard, Principal Geologist,
Kansas Geological Survey, Lawrence, KS 66047
Letter to The Professional Geologist

The climate change debate appears to be rapidly reaching its end. New
credible scientific evidence has demonstrated very strong correlations of
solar and orbital variability with climate change. Advances in correlation
of proxy information with natural processes of climate change, and better
understanding of climate history, trends, and rates of change, have all
merged to provide a much clearer picture of climate change than has been
available before.

Despite the data and information, many have been unwilling to discard the
simplistic hypothesis that human beings in general and those who live in
industrialized countries in particular can control climate. Raymond Bradley
(Bradley, 2002) continues the rhetoric of anthropogenic-driven climate
change by arguing that the breakup of Antarctic coastal ice is indicative of
anthropogenic induced global warming.

It is quite possible, even likely, that the climate is warming, but the
natural drivers, particularly incident solar energy, are the primary cause,
not people.

The emerging scientific picture is one of primary orbital and solar forcing
of Earth's climate on both long and short time scales, ranging from 11 years
to 100,000 years, with possible greenhouse gas overprint. No greenhouse
overprint has yet been measured, although it is theoretically likely that
there is some effect.

The critical issue facing scientists, engineers, elected officials and
voters today is reliance on academic projections from computer models in the
face of contradictory evidence from actual observations and measurements in
the real world. We have failed to explain clearly to the public and the
media that computer climate models are approximations derived from
assumptions, and that they are, at best, only primitive representations of
the natural systems they purport to replicate.

As petrophysicist Alan Byrnes (pers. comm., 2002) argues: "In multivariate
phenomena many variables do not exert independent influence. Observations
made of multivariate phenomena are usually correct but present information
about the phenomena from different perspectives, that is, they each test
different hypotheses, make different assumptions, and hold different
variables or boundary values constant."

"As with the three blind men describing an elephant, each is telling the
truth but each provides a completely different view. It is common to
construct models that are internally consistent within the boundaries of a
defined problem but which are not required to be externally consistent,
where the model results may not explain but are not in conflict with
observations outside the model. Fully accurate models must be able to
explain, or at minimum not conflict with, ALL data or there must be a valid
reason for rejecting or ignoring data that are inconsistent with the model."

The greenhouse model requires climate change to progress in an orderly
sequence, with early lower troposphere heating, and warming first at the
poles. The latest measurements of Antarctic climate show that the main part
of the continent is cooling, and has been for some time (Doran et al, 2002).
Changes in Antarctic ice that we do observe are part of the normal
post-Wisconsin interglacial process, not a recent artifact of human
influence on climate (Conway et al, 1999).

Not even the National Academy of Science could find significant warming in
the lower troposphere (NRC, 2000). These problems alone should have
suggested to modelers that there are serious problems with the assumptions
upon which the models are based, and that alternative explanations for
global warming exist that actually fit data and observations.

There are additional problems with the theory that primary human activity
and its associated greenhouse effect is responsible for modern climate
change. Recorded human history has documented global climate over the last
several thousand years. The detail is better in the more recent documents
(Lamb, 1995). One of the biggest problems that modelers face is duplicating
past climates. Perhaps their most apparent and best known failure is the
coupled Medieval Climate Optimum (MCO) and the following Little Ice Age
(LIA), ending about 1850.

The most recent IPCC report summary (IPCC, 2001) states that human
intervention is clearly discernible. However, that conclusion is based on a
curve of past climate that shows no MCO, but turns abruptly up at about 1875
(Mann et al, 1999). Co-authored by Bradley, this curve is based on tree-ring
data and directly contradicts human observations (Lamb, 1995), in arguing
that the MCO did not exist.

Since that publication (IPCC, 2001), the Mann et al (1999) paper has been
superceded by Esper et al (2002), who developed a climate curve based on
tree ring data that correlates with human historical data, demonstrates the
existence of the MCO, and essentially negates the IPCC conclusion.

A long-term synthesis of geological history shows natural variability well
in excess of any valid projected anthropogenic changes (Bluemle et al
(2001). Fischer et al (1999) demonstrate that atmospheric carbon dioxide
concentration lags climate change throughout the last three glacial
terminations, thus de-linking carbon dioxide concentration from past climate
change. Arguments that global warming is increasing the frequency of severe
storms abound, but have been neutralized by new studies showing that there
is no increase in severe weather phenomena (Starkel, 2002).

While recognizing that climate change is regional in expression, based on
the data of Lamb (1995), it appears that earth's climate has not yet warmed
to that of the 11th century. In the United States, at least, the heat and
dryness of the 1930's dustbowl are still greater than we are experiencing

Without full understanding of the heat island effects of the global
temperature measurement system, it is difficult to assess the accuracy of
the computer models that purport to define the global temperature and its
trends. "The hottest year ever" must be defined in terms of the time series
records used.

All these criticisms, however, mean little without an alternative hypothesis
about the major drivers of climate change. The advancing hypothesis is that
orbital and solar variability are the most significant drivers of climate,
and that greenhouse gases, while important for maintaining the stability of
climate and moderating external forcing, are not responsible for most
climate variability. This hypothesis encompasses all observed climate change

Demonstrations of the correlation of climate change with solar variability,
inextricably linked to orbital variations, has been provided by Hoyt and
Schatten (1997) and more recently by Bond et al (2001). In a stunning paper,
Bond illustrates close correlation between climate change and solar

Additional documentation of the role of orbital and solar processes in
climate change is afforded by the work of Alley and Clark (1999), Zahn
(2002), and Sharma (2002). The predictability of solar variability has led
to better prediction of La Nina and El Nino events, and validates
statistical projections for climate (Davis and Bohling, 2001). It is
interesting that the Martian climate change is attributed to solar heating
that is driven by orbital variations (Bell, 2002).

Climate is changing, as it always does, in both directions and at all time
scales. Humans must adapt to the changes. While warming may accentuate sea
level rise, human beings cannot alter the outcome, only mitigate the effects
upon human society and civilization. If climate turns cold, as it surely
will, effects on agriculture and food availability will be significant.
Feeding the growing global population will become a major problem, just as
rising sea levels will inexorably inundate low-lying land.

The political convenience of the anthropogenic greenhouse theory of climate
control lies in its simplistic and unscientific belief that changing human
use of greenhouse-gas-generating materials will stop or reverse global
climate change. Yet, even if there were a significant greenhouse effect, no
proposal now before the public, especially the "Kyoto Protocol," can stop
the inexorable progress of natural forces.

Climate change is occurring. Among the rapidly expanding global population
clustered along the shorelines of the world, there will be substantial
damage during the warming phases if we don't prepare to mitigate the effects
of our inappropriate land use and begin to "design with nature" (McHarg,
1969). Climate change is a natural process and global warming is inevitable
during some periods. We must adapt to the changing climate, just as we adapt
to daily changes in local weather. We must adapt, not fight the changes in
climate as they occur. We must worry about how we will feed the people of
the world over the next millennia.

If people understand the solar/orbital hypothesis, the world will not be
lulled into thinking that the problems associated with global climate change
will all go away if the people of the United States transfer their wealth to
third world countries. The use of inaccurate computer models of climate
change to advance social agendas is over.

The original debate is over. The new debate has opened. The issues are
joined: how to manage population growth and mitigate the effects of natural
climate change on people.

Climate changes naturally, all the time, warmer or colder, at all time
scales, and at varying amplitudes. Now that we understand that we cannot
control global climate, we can start helping people adapt to natural


Alley, Richard B., and Peter U. Clark, 1999, The Deglaciation of the
Northern Hemisphere: A Global Perspective: Annual Reviews, Earth and
Planetary Science, v. 27, p. 149-182.

Bell, Jim, 2002, Tip of the Martian Iceberg?: Science, v. 297, p. 60-61.

Bluemle, John P., Joseph Sable, and Wibjorn Karlen, 2001, Rate and Magnitude
of Past Global Climate Changes: in, Gerhard, Lee C., William E. Harrison,
and Bernold M. Hanson, eds., 2001, Geological Perspectives of Global Climate
Change: American Association of Petroleum Geologists Studies in Geology #47,
Tulsa, OK, p. 193-212.

Bond, Gerard, Bernd Kromer, Juerg Beer, Raimund Muscheler, Michael N. Evans,
William Showers, Sharon Hoffmann, RustyLotti-Bond, Irka Hajdas, Georges
Bonani, 2001, Persistent Solar Influence on North Atlantic Climate During
the Holocene: Science, Vol. 294, Issue 5549, 2130-2136.

Bradley, Raymond S., 2002, Letter to the Editor: The Professional Geologist,
August/September 2002, p. 27.

Conway, H., B. L. Hall, G. H. Denton, A. M. Gades, and E. D. Waddington,
1999, Past and Future Grounding-Line Retreat of the West Antarctic Ice
Sheet: Science, v. 286, p. 280-283.

Daly, John L., 2000, The 'Hockey Stick': A New Low in Climate Science:

Davis, John C., and Geoffrey Bohling, 2001, The Search for Patterns in
Ice-Core Temperature Curves: in Gerhard, Lee C., William E. Harrison, and
Bernold M. Hanson, eds.,2001, Geological Perspectives of Global Climate
Change: American Association of Petroleum Geologists Studies in Geology #47,
Tulsa, OK, p. 213-230.

Doran, Peter T., John C. Priscu, W. Berry Lyons, John E. Walsh, Andrew G.
Fountain, Diane M. McKnight, Daryl L. Moorhead, Ross A. Virginia, Diana H.
Wall, Gary D. Clow, Christian H. Fritsen, Christopher P. McKay, and Andrew
N. Parsons, 2002, Antarctic climate cooling and terrestrial ecosystem
Nature, v. 415, p. 517-520.

Esper, Jan, Edward R. Cook, Fritz h. Schweingruber, 2002, Low-Frequency
Signals in Long Tree-Ring Chronologies for Reconstructing Past Temperature
Variability:Science, v. 295, p. 2250-2253. (See also: Mann and Hughes'
critique and Cook and Esper's response, Science, v. 296, p. 848-849.)

Fischer, H., M. Wahlen, J. Smith, D. Mastoianni, and B. Deck, 1999, Ice Core
Records of Atmospheric CO2 Around the Last Three Glacial Terminations:
Science, v. 283, p.1712-1714.

Hoyt, D. V., and K.H. Schatten, 1997, The Role of the Sun in Climate Change:
Oxford University Press, New York, 279 p.

IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), 2001, Climate Change 2001:
The Scientific Basis: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Lamb, H. H., 1995, Climate, History, and the Modern World: 2nd Ed.,
Routledge, NY, 433 p.

Mann, M. E., R. S. Bradley, and M. K. Hughes, 1999, Northern Hemisphere
Temperatures During the Past Millennium: Inferences, Uncertainties, and
Limitations: Geophysical Research Letters, v. 26, n. 6, p. 759-762.

McHarg, Ian, 1969, Design With Nature: Natural History Press, 197 p.

National Research Council, 2000, Reconciling Observations of Global
Temperature Change: National Academy Press, Washington D.C., 85 p.

Sharma, Mukul, 2002, Variations in solar magnetic activity during the last
200,000 years: is there a Sun-climate connection?: Earth and Planetary
Science Letters, v. 199, p. 459-472.

Starkel, L., 2002, Change in the Frequency of Extreme Events as the
Indicator of Climatic Change in the Holocene (in Fluvial Systems).
Quaternary International 91:25-32.

Zahn, Rainer, 2002, Milankovitch and Climate: The Orbital Code of Climate
Change: JOIDES Journal, v. 28, n. 1, p. 17-22.


>From Insight Magazine, 18 September 2002

By John Pike

By October of 1630 the tadpole-shaped peninsula called Boston had 150
English-speaking residents. Led by John Winthrop, the colony's first
governor, these Puritan emigrants virtually began the historical process in
which large numbers of recent European arrivals settled and subdued
Massachusetts Bay and the North American environment during the next
three-and-one-half centuries.

With each austere-living family constructing a wooden home and fencing an
adjacent garden, Bostonians by the 1640s already were traversing the Charles
River to gather firewood and building materials as precious timber close at
hand virtually had been erased. As early as the winter of 1637-38, Winthrop
noted, Boston was "almost ready to break up for want of wood."

Peter Dunwiddie, a plant ecologist with the Nature Conservancy in Washington
state, has studied core samples of bogs and swamps on Cape Cod, looking at
microscopic pollen to determine what was growing there and on the proximate
islands about the time the Pilgrims landed in nearby Plymouth, Mass. His
research shows the development of English settlements.

"Literally in a matter of decades the forest was cleared," Dunwiddie says.
"There is no more oak pollen, and all of a sudden lots of grass pollen. That
persisted throughout much of the following couple of hundred years" as
Europeans transformed most of the area into a giant sheep pasture. The
cleric Timothy Dwight wrote in 1821 that "almost all the original forests of
[southern New England] had long since been cut down."

Dwight also reported that the 240-mile journey from Boston to New York City
passed through no more than 20 miles of forest. Surveying the changes
wrought by farmers and loggers miles upstream from the coast near Dover,
N.H., Dwight wrote, "The forests are not only cut down, but there appears
little reason to hope that they will ever grow again."

One easily can see evidence today of that deforestation throughout most
areas of New England with a short walk in what once more are woods. The
ubiquitous rock walls of New England's currently wooded areas mark the edges
of erstwhile farms abandoned years ago.

The widespread deforestation centuries ago was due to farming and wood being
used for virtually everything - home construction, of course, but mostly for
heating and cooking. According to the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the amount
of forested land in Massachusetts drastically decreased from 4.63 million
acres in 1630 to 2 million acres in 1907. Maryland went from 5.73 million
acres to 2.2 million acres, Rhode Island from 650,000 acres to 250,000 acres
and Delaware from 1.13 million acres to 350,000 acres.

And with the stripping of the forests and increased hunting came a
depopulation of the animals that lived among the trees. The environment as a
whole was changing radically.

But it was not only the new arrivals from European shores that altered the
landscape. American Indians prior to the arrival of the Pilgrims also had a
great effect on the land, though not as much on a per capita basis as the
new Europeans. Human destruction of the forests did not start with the
English, Spanish or French, as the Indian natives affected tens-of-millions
of acres. The American forests first seen by the new English colonists in
the 17th century were far from primordial.

Doug MacCleery of the USFS in Washington says the American Indians "burned
forests to grow crops and create grasslands and prairies to increase the
numbers of the game they hunted." Indians also burned down trees to make it
easier to travel, create open space around their villages to hinder sneak
attacks from their enemies and as a hunting method to drive animals into
enclosures, MacCleery says. "There was lots of grassland in Ohio and along
the eastern coast as a result of Indian burning."

Indeed, the names given to venues by Indians often had to do with the area's
agricultural purposes, which meant clearing trees. According to William
Cronon, author of Changes in the Land, "Mittineag, in Hampden County, Mass.,
meant 'abandoned fields,' probably a place where the soil had lost its
fertility and a village had moved to its summer encampment elsewhere."

But there was fluctuation. MacCleery adds that because large numbers of
Indians tragically died from foreign diseases after the new Europeans first
came, many areas of the American environment then were returned to more of a
"wilderness" state after most of them perished.

As the European population of the newly formed United States increased from
the founding of the colonies, the deforestation of the eastern United States
reached a peak in the mid-19th century. But it was then that nature
demonstrated, once again, just how truly resilient she is. Consider just one
small but highly indicative example of it in 1996:

On June 14 of that year a 7-foot, 1,000-pound, young female moose paraded
along the major thoroughfare of Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, in proximity
to Boston University and Boston College, and just a short subway ride to the
spot where the Puritans first landed. Once abundant, the forces set in
motion by European colonization erased moose from Massachusetts by the turn
of the century. But now the commonwealth has between 50 and 100 moose, with
a population breeding in the Boston suburb of Acton. For her sexy,
attention-gathering catwalk, Miss Moose was, as surely as John Winthrop, a

But what Miss Moose represents is much more than just a large personable
ruminant reclaiming her native territory among the cars, factories and
apartment buildings of Boston - it demonstrates the most important
environmental story of the 20th century. The key event in recent American
environmental history is not the Exxon Valdez or the spotted owl, but the
vast reforestation of the eastern side of the North American continent. The
American East Coast has exploded in green.

In the last few decades, as 19th century farms have been abandoned, the
forest cover in the eastern United States has returned abundantly despite
its much larger population and increased development of suburban and rural
areas. Bill McKibben, author of several environmental books, writes that the
forest cover of the eastern United States today is as extensive as it was
before the American Revolution. This renewal of the eastern forest largely
is the result of economic accident and generally unremarked.

Tom French, of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, says
the state reached its peak of deforestation about the time of the Civil War,
when approximately 70 percent of the forest had been cleared. Virtually the
only trees left standing were on precipitous slopes, venues difficult for

Since agriculture no longer dominates either the Massachusetts economy or
that of the eastern United States, abandoned farms once again have become
forested. French says 62 percent of Massachusetts land now is wooded, a
precipitous increase that occurred despite a sixfold growth in the human
population. And, according to Dunwiddie's bog cores, "the pollen is now
beginning to resemble the pre-European." MacCleery says that the land in
Vermont in 1850 was 35 percent forested, whereas today it is 80 percent

A USFS Website states that the amount of forest in Pennsylvania grew from
9.2 million acres in 1907 to 16.9 million acres in 1997. New York state
jumped from 12 million acres to 18.58 million acres, Rhode Island from
250,000 acres to 409,000 acres and Illinois from 2.5 million acres to 4.29
million acres, all within what could be someone's lifetime.

"Nationally, forest growth rates have exceeded harvest rates since the
1940s," MacCleery states. "The United States in total has about the same
area of forests as it did in 1920. The [predicted] timber famine never
came." In the Northeast United States, the country's most populous region,
MacCleery says the land was less than 50 percent forested in 1900. Today, he
says, the region is more than two-thirds forested, an increase of 26 million

The nation's 20th-century environmental progress goes way beyond numbers of
trees, for the animals that live in [northeastern] woods are pouncing
forward after taking a severe beating. The almost complete elimination of
the East Coast forests in past centuries resulted, among other environmental
difficulties, in severely depleting or eliminating many species of animals
indigenous to the wooded lands, including white-tailed deer, wolves,
fishers, bears, bobcats, beavers and mountain lions. In 1694, Massachusetts
established its first closed season on deer hunting, a mere 64 years after
Winthrop first landed. And the bears eventually moved out of state.

But after all the Massachusetts bear population had vanished, within just
the last 11 years state wildlife officials say their numbers have increased
from 725 to almost 2,000, with occasional backyard sightings that greatly
excite (or scare) homeowners, sometimes within 45 minutes of the Boston
Stone at the heart of the old city. Bear numbers in Massachusetts now are
equal to those in the 1700s.

Beavers were hunted in colonial Massachusetts for their fur and were
disappearing from its coast as early as 1640. They were erased utterly from
the commonwealth by 1764 until the early 1900s. But now there are 70,000 of
the workaholic rodents laboriously constructing menacing dams throughout the

One beaver enjoyed a sunny spring day floating along the Merrimack River in
downtown Lowell, adjacent to the Boott Cotton Mills where the American
industrial revolution began in the early 1800s. The beaver's neighbors now
include Atlantic salmon, which had stopped swimming in the Merrimack years
ago when the river became one of the most soiled in the nation. Salmon also
now live in the Connecticut River, where just 152 once were estimated.

Although a few animals have not returned from the days of deforestation,
many indigenous Massachusetts species are undergoing a startling
renaissance. Coyotes now live in virtually every town. They crossed the Cape
Cod Canal in the 1970s and started breeding on the Cape. Being good swimmers
they recently have made the short ocean crossing to the Elizabeth Islands.

"Today we kill twice as many deer on the highways of America than existed in
the entire eastern United States in 1890," says Doug MacCleery of the United
States Forest Service in Washington. "In 1890, Pennsylvania, Ohio and the
lower part of Michigan did not have any deer." Officials estimate
Pennsylvania's deer population today is 1.5 million.

"Many species which would likely have been on the endangered species list -
had one existed in 1900 - are today abundant," MacCleery says, "including
wild turkey, beaver, egrets, herons and many other wading birds, wood ducks,
whistling swans, Rocky Mountain elk, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep,
black bear and white-tailed deer." He says, "Many other species, although
not on the brink of extinction in 1900, are today both more abundant and
more widespread than they were back then."

In addition to the added forest area of the eastern United States, the
resurgence of many species of animals throughout the last few decades also
can directly be attributed to changes in levels of pollution that affect,
among other aspects, the manifold varieties of foods animals consume. Here
again the news is almost all positive.

Unfortunately, few ideas are more deeply entrenched in our political culture
than that of impending ecological doom. Mostly beginning in the early 1960s
when warnings from Rachel Carson and others began to emerge that pollution
was a threat to all forms of life, pessimistic appraisals of the health of
the environment have been issued with increasing urgency. Doomsday warnings
led to the first Earth Day demonstrations in 1970, and three significant
environmental laws were passed during the Republican administration of
Richard Nixon: the Clean Air Act (1970), the Clean Water Act (1972) and the
Endangered Species Act (1973).

And what a success the environmental cleanup has been. "The Clean Air and
Clean Water acts led to actions that resulted in substantial environmental
gains," MacCleery states in a USFS publication. "Air quality has been
steadily improving in U.S. cities. Sulfur-dioxide emissions are down over 30
percent and lead emissions are down over 95 percent since 1970." The
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Website states that "since 1970
aggregate emissions of the six principal pollutants have been reduced by 29
percent. During this same period the U.S. gross domestic product increased
158 percent, energy consumption increased by 45 percent and vehicle miles
traveled have increased by 143 percent."

Smog nationally has declined by about one-third, say environmental
officials, despite an increase in the number of cars. The number of days in
which the health standard for smog is violated has decreased significantly
during the last 15 years. The use of unleaded gas has contributed to our
cleaner air. Smokestacks belching black smoke in the United States have been
eliminated save for when a burner malfunctions.

During the 19th century, respiratory problems were common with the burning
of coal and coke and the emission of ammonia. Robert Boisselle, of the
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, says, "Massachusetts
no longer experiences an occasional dark brown haze due to smog as it did
years ago. ... We can still see some haze occasionally, but nothing like it
used to be."

So much for doomsday statements by radical environmentalists who continually
bark out predictions of increasingly darkened and smelly American skies.
What about the rivers?

"Most U.S. rivers and lakes are measurably cleaner than they were two
decades ago," MacCleery observes. "Improved air and water quality have
benefited both the human and nonhuman inhabitants of the planet, as
evidenced by the improving populations of fish and aquatic wildlife in U.S.
rivers and lakes. Fish and wildlife have staged significant comebacks in
many rivers and lakes that were severely degraded or even biologically dead
two decades ago. There have been increases in the populations of egrets,
herons, ospreys, geese, largemouth bass and other fish and wildlife
associated with the improved water quality of countless rivers and lakes
across the country."

American rivers once were used as sewers. Downstream from 19th century New
England textile mills, rivers would change color according to the particular
dye being used that day. Poisons and raw sewage commonly were dumped into
the rivers. No more. According to the EPA, there now are more than 11,000
miles of streams and rivers in which it again is safe to swim. There are
almost 13,000 additional fishable bodies of water and 5,400 added places
suitable for boating.

Massachusetts is indicative of the rest of the East Coast, and French says
that overall, in terms of what most people believe pollution is, the
commonwealth hit a peak of pollution sometime in the first half of the 20th
century. Boston Harbor, among the first heavily used harbors in the United
States - and attacked by Republicans (unfairly) during the presidential
campaign of then-governor Michael Dukakis as being very dirty - has
undergone a startling renaissance. "Overall, the water quality of Boston
Harbor has greatly improved since the year 1900," says Russell Isaac of the
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. "The ability to swim
in the harbor has significantly improved" and there is less disease-causing
wastewater. "We have made a lot of progress in the overall environment, but
more needs to be done," Isaac says.

Nor will the animals we care about need to hightail it to the Canadian
border to escape a perceived onslaught of relaxed environmental laws. Newt
Gingrich, the former speaker of the House whom many on the left consider to
be the reptilian soul of the Republican Party, is an outspoken
environmentalist and says of preserving U.S. wildlife, "This is not just
about large vertebrates. ... This is also about the fungi and the various
things that produce the medicine of the future." Environmentalism has become
a core American political value, close to unassailable even among the most
febrile conservatives.

So if the overall environment greatly has improved in the 20th century, and
continually gets better, why all the pessimistic assessments of the
environment blaring from the media? According to one U.S. environmental
official who requested anonymity, "In many cases you have advocacy groups
that make money creating the perception of a crisis. It is a conflict


While researching this article, your reporter regularly telephoned the EPA
for weeks requesting to speak with someone, anyone, who could highlight the
achievements of the agency during the last few decades, all to no avail. And
MacCleery has a thought about that too: "Some people" at the EPA, he says,
"do not view good news as a positive because it jeopardizes future funding."
And with that I will leave you to ponder your clean environment, among the
happy deer and bears that have joined you in the back yard of your city

We must not resist the good news.

John Pike is a free-lance writer for Insight.

Copyright 2002, Insight

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