PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet 100/2000 - 4 October 2000
------------------------------

 
     Some say the world will end in fire
     some say in ice
     From what I've tasted of desire
     I hold with those who favor fire
       -- Robert Frost


     "But the question for those of us who essentially can add nothing
     (save tax dollars) to the effort to find and deflect dangerous
     asteroids is how we should live in response to this kind of dark
     news. I think the answer is clear. We should recognize anew what
     an astonishing, if fragile, gift life is. We should acknowledge
     that we face our own mortality every day. We should fill all our 
     moments with value, wasting nothing. Yes, we should tell our
     governments we expect them to respond to all potential natural
     disasters with competence and timeliness, offering all of us
     adequate warning systems as well as education. But we should not
     let apocalyptic possibilities reduce us to quivering jellyfish or
     push us to embrace our culture's odd thanatophobia. Instead, we
     would do better to recommit ourselves to redeem whatever time we
     are given.
         -- Bill Tammeus, Sunday Kansas City Star, 1 October 2000


     "The importance of these facts, of course, resides in the  
     demonstration that the warming of the earth since the termination
     of the Little Ice Age is not at all unusual or different from
     other climate changes of the past millennium, when atmospheric
     CO2 concentrations were quite stable, much lower than present,
     and obviously not responsible for the observed variations in
     climate, which suggests that the warming of the past century or
     so need not be due to the contemporaneous increase in atmospheric
     CO2."
          -- CO2Science, 4 October 2000


(1) "ASTEROID MISSES EARTH, JUST" - NEW ASTEROID SCARE IN GERMANY
    Benny J Peiser@livjm.ac.uk>
 
(2) ASTEROID VERFEHLT ERDE NUR KNAPP
    Spiegel.de, 3 October 2000

(3) MORE ABOUT SPACEGUARD IN AUSTRALIAN PAPERS
    Michael Paine <mpaine@tpgi.com.au>

(4) LETHAL SPACE OBJECTS REMIND US OF MORTALITY
    Sunday Kansas City Star/Knight Ridder Tribune, 1 October 2000

(5) GLOBAL WARMING AS A NATURAL PHENOMENON OF CLIMATE VARIATION
    co2science.org, 4 October 2000

(6) CLIMATE CHANGE: THE HUMAN INFLUENCE ANALYSED
    Harry N.A. Priem

(7) IS GLOBAL WARMING SKEPTICISM GOING TOO FAR?
    Lew Gramer <dedalus@latrade.com>

(8) WHY I REJECT ALL DOOMSDAY PROPHECIES
    Benny J Peiser <b.j.peiser@livjm.ac.uk>

(9) DO YOU THINK EARTHLINGS WILL SURVIVE THE NEXT MILLENNIUM?
    http://www.msnbc.com/news/471186.asp?0nm=O229

============
(1) "ASTEROID MISSES EARTH, JUST" - NEW ASTEROID SCARE IN GERMANY

From Benny J Peiser@livjm.ac.uk>
 
Another "near miss" asteroid story, this time about 2000 SM10, made
headline news in Germany yesterday (see below). The scare ("Asteroid
misses Earth just") was published on spiegel.de, one of the biggest and
most popular German news outlets on the net.

The article claims that 2000 SM10 with a diametre of approx. 100m missed
the Earth by 1.5 million km last Saturday. Austrian astronomer Franz
Kerschbaum of Vienna University is quoted as saying that such 'near
misses' only happen every couple of years. Franz Kerschbaum also claims
that "the impact of such an asteroid would have dramatic consequences
for humankind. Most certainly, the terrestrial climate would be
changed."

Once again, it seems necessary to put this so-called near miss into
perspective and to correct a number of inaccuracies.

For a start, such approaches are far from rare. For instance, two other
objects have come closer than 2000 SM10 (miss distance 1.7 km) earlier
this year. 2000 DO8 came to 1.6 million km on 4th March and 2000 LG6 to
0.5 million km on 2nd June. Admittedly, 2000 LG6 was very tiny, but 2000
DO8 was comparable in size to 2000 SM10 (approx. 50 to 100 metres).

As NEO searches continue to improve, we're most certainly going to see
more of this. Indeed, it may happen during the next 5-10 years that
we may observe a very tiny object (hopefully) *before* it actually
enters the earth's atmosphere (either burning up or exploding harmlessly
at great altitude). 

The big questions this likely scenario raises is to how people around
the world will react to advance knowledge of a real impact (or,
hoepfully, an atmospheric impact)? As David Morrison and others have
pointed out, the impact interest (at least for larger objects) is
directly associated as a possibility on future approaches. And its is
this possibility one needs to concentrate on, both with regard to getting
the best orbit determinations (including radar data and precovery images
from old plates), and examining possible trajectories that yield earth
impact in the next 50-100 years.

The good news is that all this work is currently progressing fairly well
(at least in the northern hemisphere). Importantly, these developments
will hopefully get even better if future search efforts (in the southern
hemisphere) can be ramped up as recommended by the NEO Report.

If asteroids are seen coming to 1.7 million km, the interest is really
in whether they can come that close years and decades in the future.
This is somewhat farther than the lunar limit Dave Morrison is
advocating for consideration as a "near miss". But it is still in the
range where the combination of perturbations by the earth and the
uncertainty at a future pass could set things up for an actual impact
later on, as in the examples of 1997 XF11, 1999 AN10 and other objects
Andrea Milani has worked on.

In short, it is not the fact that an asteroid has missed Earth that
should focus the public's minds, but whether such an asteroid could pose
a potential threat in the future. The more we become aware of the
normality of "near-misses," the more the interested public need to
understand and appreciate how reliable orbital calculations are that can
(and in almost all cases) will eliminate any individual NEO threat for
at least the next 100 years or so.

Benny J Peiser

===========
(2) ASTEROID VERFEHLT ERDE NUR KNAPP

From Spiegel.de, 3 October 2000

Ein mit 45.000 Stundenkilometer durchs All rasender Asteroid soll der
Erde vor wenigen Tagen äußerst nahe gekommen sein - zumindest in
astronomischen Dimensionen.

Wien - Ein Asteroid mit einem Durchmesser von rund 100 Metern ist nahe
an der Erde vorbeigeflogen. Österreichische Astronomen teilten am
Dienstag mit, in der Nacht zum vergangenen Samstag sei der Himmelskörper
in nur 1,5 Millionen Kilometern Entfernung an unserem Planeten
vorbeigeflogen.

Das entspreche etwa der vierfachen Entfernung zwischen Erde und Mond und
sei in astronomischen Dimensionen als "Streifschuss" zu werten. Ein
derartiger Fall werde nur "alle paar Jahre" registriert, sagte der
Astronom Franz Kerschbaum von der Universität Wien.

Der Asteroid mit der Bezeichnung 2000 SM10 raste nach Angaben der Linzer
Astronomischen Gemeinschaft, die sich auf die Beobachtung solcher
Himmelskörper spezialisiert hat, mit einer Geschwindigkeit von 45.000
Stundenkilometern an der Erde vorbei. Der Einschlag eines derartigen
Asteroiden hätte für die Menschheit dramatische Folgen, sagte
Kerschbaum. Mit Sicherheit würde sich dadurch das Klima auf der Erde
verändern.

Copyright 2000, Der Spiegel

==========
(3) MORE ABOUT SPACEGUARD IN AUSTRALIAN PAPERS

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

Dear Benny,

The Age, a Melbourne newspaper, published my letter yesterday. A copy is
below. Also the July/August issue of The Futurist (published by the
World Future Society ) had an excellent cover story: Avoiding Cosmic
Catastrophe By Charles Frankel 'A few scientists are watching for
dangerous asteroids and figuring out how to deflect them away from
Earth, if need be, but more effort is needed, the author argues.' I have
not been able to find an online copy but apparently it can be ordered
from http://www.wfs.org/futcontjuau00.htm

While typing the above I accidentally deleted the 'a' from asteroids and
it made me realise how effective Spaceguard would be if the same money
was put into it as that which has gone into detecting 'steroids' in
Olympic athletes. Maybe we should seek dollar for dollar for the Athens
Olympics! :)


The Editor - The Age
Killer asteroids: yes, we need to know

Lee Kennedy's letter [28 Sep 2000] displays several misconceptions about
the asteroid risk that tend to be parroted by our politicians when they
don't want to make a decision. The biggest natural risk, by far, to our
civilisation is the threat from asteroids around 1 kilometre in
diameter. Such an impact would devastate global agriculture leading to
death by starvation of hundreds of millions of people around the world.
The odds of an such impact during the next century are about 1 in 2000.

Most asteroids are well behaved and orbit the sun in the Asteroid Belt,
between Mar and Jupiter. But some have highly elliptical orbits that
bring them close to the Earth. It is estimated that there are about 1000
"Near Earth" asteroids that are 1 kilometre or larger. So far just under
half of these have been discovered. The recent British report points out
that the search effort is dominated by US telescopes and that a large,
dedicated telescope is needed in the southern hemisphere to boost the
search effort. If the Australian government doesn't indicate support for
the proposal then it is likely that the telescope will be built in Chile
and Britain will shift its astronomy resources to that country.

If one is found to be on a collision course with the Earth then it is
highly likely that there will be decades of warning because the asteroid
will make numerous orbits of the sun before impact. With decades of
warning there would be time to develop ways to nudge the asteroid so
that it missed the Earth. Stand-off nuclear explosions would work but
non-nuclear methods, such as using a giant solar mirror to vaporise
surface material, are feasible. A nudge of only 1 km/h would, over 20
years, result in a miss distance of nearly 200,000 kilometres.

So yes, Mr Kennedy, we do want to know where these "killer asteroids"
are and yes, we can do something about an impact provided we get the
decades of warning that only Spaceguard would provide. In the words of
the late Congressman George Brown, finding and deflecting a large
asteroid that is on a collision course would be one of the most
important accomplishments in all of human history. Australia should
proudly put up its hand and join this international effort to protect
civilisation.

Michael Paine
New South Wales Coordinator
The Planetary Society Australian Volunteers

===========
(4) LETHAL SPACE OBJECTS REMIND US OF MORTALITY

From Sunday Kansas City Star/Knight Ridder Tribune, 1 October 2000

By Bill Tammeus
        
Autumn glides in on padded feet and makes us think of final
things, of falling curtains, of the uncertain ways of certain death.
To watch nature cycling toward some inevitable close is to remind
ourselves that all of us are vulnerable, impermanent. And our
thoughts of death are not merely idle speculation. We see deaths -
large and small - around us each day and are thereby drawn to imagine
our own demise, both individual and collective.

The news lately has provided us with a horrifying picture of a
shared death that may lurk in our future. A rogue asteroid  -
scientists call such things NEOs, for Near-Earth Objects - may blaze
through space and collide with our pretty blue planet, breaking loose
all hell.

A group of respected British scientists - not nutcases looking
for 15 minutes of fame - recently issued a report urging an
internationally coordinated mission to monitor asteroids  and comets
as a way of reducing the risk that one of them will crash into Earth
and cause havoc and death.

Many scientists believe just such an event caused the extinction
of dinosaurs some 65 million years ago. They say high-impact
collisions happen only every 100,000 years or so but collisions by
smaller objects happen much more frequently. The most common are
little meteorites, sometimes seen first as "shooting stars."

The problem, say researchers, is that the cosmos is full of such
flying, if disinterested, weapons of destruction, and we don't know
where they all are. So far, in fact, astronomers have identified more
than 250 potentially hazardous NEOs in our solar system, but they're
certain hundreds more exist. Experts say that if an asteroid  a little
over half a mile in diameter hits Earth, 25 percent of the world's
6-plus billion people could die.

"No known asteroid  or comet is likely to hit Earth in the next
50 years," says Harry Atkinson, who led Britain's Task Force on
Near-Earth Objects, "but there are many we do not know about."

So Atkinson and his group are proposing a new early warning
system that would feature a $21 million telescope to watch for
objects smaller than those that other telescopes usually see. The new
telescope would be located in the Southern Hemisphere because the
southern sky is much less covered by NEO seekers than is the northern
sky.

In response to this new British NEO report, Brian Marsden,
associate director for planetary sciences at the Harvard-Smithsonian
Center for Astrophysics, notes that "mere discovery, in the absence
of follow-up, is to no avail." And, of course, he's right.

So the new report suggests that there may in fact be ways to
destroy or deflect asteroids  heading our way or to reduce the effects
if they do hit. However, Louis Friedman, executive director of the
Planetary Society, says the report exaggerates when it says, "Means
now exist to mitigate the consequences of such impacts for the human
species."

What we are left with, however, is the specter of yet another
dreadful way to die. The risk may be slight, but so is the risk of
being struck by lightning, and yet each year we read about lightning
zapping people.

And as Atkinson says, if a nuclear power station were at the same
risk of an accident as Earth is of getting slammed by an NEO, "we
would spend a lot of money to reduce the risk."

So we can, with scientific affirmation, add death-by-asteroid  to
the long list of natural and human-made disasters that we could - and
probably should - worry about.

But the question for those of us who essentially can add nothing
(save tax dollars) to the effort to find and deflect dangerous
asteroids is how we should live in response to this kind of dark
news.

I think the answer is clear. We should recognize anew what an
astonishing, if fragile, gift life is. We should acknowledge that we
face our own mortality every day. We should fill all our moments with
value, wasting nothing.

Yes, we should tell our governments we expect them to respond to
all potential natural disasters with competence and timeliness,
offering all of us adequate warning systems as well as education.

But we should not let apocalyptic possibilities reduce us to
quivering jellyfish or push us to embrace our culture's odd
thanatophobia. Instead, we would do better to recommit ourselves to
redeem whatever time we are given.

- Bill Tammeus  is a member of The Star's Editorial Board. His
essay column appears on Sundays and Mondays. To reach him, call (816)
234-4437 or send e-mail to tammeus@kcstar.com

Copyright 2000,

===================
(5) GLOBAL WARMING AS A NATURAL PHENOMENON OF CLIMATE VARIATION

From co2science.org, 4 October 2000
http://www.co2science.org/journal/2000/v3n25c1.htm

A Hot Time in the Medieval Warm Period in Africa

Tyson, P.D., Karlen, W., Holmgren, K. and Heiss, G.A.  2000. The Little
Ice Age and medieval warming in South Africa. South African Journal of
Science 96: 121-126.

What was done

The authors obtained a quasi-decadal-resolution record of oxygen and
carbon-stable isotope data from a well-dated stalagmite recovered from
Cold Air Cave in the Makapansgat Valley, located approximately 30 km
southwest of Pietersburg, South Africa, which they augmented with
5-year-resolution temperature data reconstructed from color variations
in banded growth-layer laminations of the stalagmite that were derived
from a relationship calibrated against actual air temperatures obtained
from a surrounding 49-station climatological network over the period
1981-1995, which had a correlation of +0.78 that was significant at the
99% confidence level.

What was learned

The Little Ice Age (prevailing from about AD 1300 to 1800) and the
Medieval Warm Period (prevailing from before AD 1000 to around 1300)
were found to be distinctive features of the climate of the last
millennium.  Relative to the period 1961-1990, in fact, the Little Ice
Age, which the authors say "was a widespread event in South Africa
specifically and southern Africa generally," was characterized by a mean
annual temperature depression of about 1°C at its coolest point. The
Medieval Warm Period, on the other hand, was as much as 3-4°C warmer at
its warmest point.  The authors also note that the coolest point of the
Little Ice Age corresponded in time with the Maunder Minimum of sunspot
activity and that the Medieval Warm Period corresponded with the
Medieval Maximum in solar activity.

What it means

Contrary to the attempts of some to rewrite climatic history and
relegate the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period to minor
localized events that become lost in the blending of many data sets from
across the globe, this paper demonstrates - with many citations to
similar works from around the world - that that endeavor is doomed to
fail. There are just too many well-calibrated high-quality data sets
that tell a dramatically different story. The Little Ice Age and the
Medieval Warm Period were real planet-wide events; and the Medieval Warm
Period was indeed warmer than the present.  In this particular study, in
fact, the authors state that "maximum warming at Makapansgat at around
1250 produced conditions up to 3-4°C hotter than those of the present."
And we feel that their use of the word "hotter" in place of "warmer" is
entirely appropriate. The Medieval Warm Period was indeed a hot time in
Africa.

The importance of these facts, of course, resides in the demonstration
that the warming of the earth since the termination of the Little Ice
Age is not at all unusual or different from other climate changes of the
past millennium, when atmospheric CO2 concentrations were quite stable,
much lower than present, and obviously not responsible for the observed
variations in climate, which suggests that the warming of the past
century or so need not be due to the contemporaneous increase in
atmospheric CO2. In this regard the authors make a point of noting that
the Little Ice Age coincided with a period of low solar activity, while
the Medieval Warm Period coincided with a period of high solar activity,
suggesting that there may be a solar forcing involved in the development
and sustaining of these climatic regimes.
 
Copyright © 2000. Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global
Change

==============
(6) CLIMATE CHANGE: THE HUMAN INFLUENCE ANALYSED

By Professor Harry N.A. Priem

From http://www.ozemail.com.au/~hughesw7/hpriem.htm

This paper is based on an invited lecture at the meeting of the European
Council of Skeptical Organisations (ECSO) on the occasion of the
inauguration of the European Center for Inquiry, Rossdorf (Germany), 2-3
September 2000

Harry N.A. Priem
Dept. of Earth Sciences Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80021, 3508 TA
Utrecht, and Global Institute for the Study of Natural Resources, The
Hague (The Netherlands)

Global warming entered the political agenda in the exceptionally hot
summers of the late 1980s, when environmental crusaders predicted the
imminent melting of the polar ice caps, the second Flood, and maybe an
end to life on Earth from a 'runaway greenhouse effect' caused by man's
emissions of greenhouse gases. Vice-president Albert Gore even dubbed
the summer of 1988 the 'Kristallnacht before the warming holocaust'.
Particularly the steady increase in the atmospheric concentration of
carbon dioxide from man's agricultural activities and large-scale
burning of fossil fuels was indicted as the main evildoer. The press,
ever eager for apocalyptic predictions, gave extensive coverage, so that
much of the public was taken in by it all. The greenhouse warming
protagonists grossly exaggerated their claims in order to convince the
public and politicians of the validity of their doomsday scenarios - a
policy illustrated by the notorious statement by the climatologist
Stephen H. Schneider, adviser to vice-president Albert Gore, that
 
  "To do that [reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic
  change] we have to get some broad-based support, to capture the
  public's imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of
  media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make
  simplified dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts
  we might have." (Discover Magazine, October 1989).
 
No wonder that the predictions of the imminent greenhouse catastrophe
were met with reservation in the world of science.

FULL PAPER at http://www.ozemail.com.au/~hughesw7/hpriem.htm

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

(7) IS GLOBAL WARMING SKEPTICISM GOING TOO FAR?

From Lew Gramer <dedalus@latrade.com>

>(9) AND FINALLY: "THE END IS NIGH: TIME TO LEAVE THE SINKING SHIP!"
>    STEPHEN HAWKING JOINS DOOMSDAY HYSTERIA OVER GLOBAL WARMING
>    Yahoo! News, 30 September 2000

Benny, I know you believe passionately in your cause, and believe it is
necessary to divert interest from other global catastrophe scenarios in
order to ensure your cause is appropriately funded... You are entitled
to that position. But isn't the above headline going just a wee bit (in
all honesty, painfully) too far?

Clear skies and good fortune,
Lew Gramer

=========
(8) WHY I REJECT ALL DOOMSDAY PROPHECIES

From Benny J Peiser <b.j.peiser@livjm.ac.uk>

Lew Gramer feels that I have gone too far in my opposition to the Global
Warming scare. Have I been unfair to Stephen Hawking for his dire
prediction that humankind won't survive in the next millennium? And do I
try to divert attention from Global Warming for funding reasons?

Perhaps Lew's comment is a good opportunity to explain why I object to
*all* end-time prophecies, be they based on scientific or religious
speculation, or on both. 

Global Warming campaigners used to be very keen to paint a dire and
depressing picture of an apocalyptic future in which natural
catastrophes and climate-related disasters will turn the 21 century into
a living hell -that is, unless we drastically reduced CO2 emissions.
Recently, however, a number of eminent British scientists have gone on
record for claiming that efforts to deal with the current warming trend
are ineffectual or come too late and that humankind is now an the verge
of extinction.

Given that end-time prophecies are as old as organised religion, and
in view of the fact that we're still around after millions of years, why
should we believe a single word of such scare-mongering? The fact is
that, for the first time in the history of life on Earth, a species has
evolved that is increasingly in control of its terrestrial and
extraterrestrial environment, thus making the chances for our survival
significantly better than at any previous time in the long history of
mankind.

By any means, this is true both for our chances to adapt and eventually
even regulate terrestrial climate variation and for preventing mass
extinction impacts from recurring.

Professor Hawking is one of the world's best known and most respected
cosmologists. Let's forget for a moment that he hasn't been involved in
much climatological or palaeo-climatological research; many interested
people listen to whatever he predicts nevertheless. In his latest
prophecy, he claims that it is unlikely that we'll be able to survive the
next 1000 years, and that a lucky few should escape from our
dying planet before it is too late. Hawking's utter fatalism may be
fashionable among some quarters and religious believers - just as
similar end-time prophets have been popular throughout the ages.

Luckily, there have always been skeptics (both among scientists and
religious scholars as well as the general public) who have known only
too well that this kind of cultural pessimism is just a historical craze
rather than reliable foresight based on sound evidence. It is not
surprising, therefore, that more than half of those who have responded
to Hawking's doomsday scenario either disagree or are confident that
"we'll manage" to deal with future problems (see MSNBC survey below).

Not that long ago, humanists used to be the advocates of hope and
progress. Today, many people and scientists have given up on humanity
and civilisation. Admittedly, the history of past impact catastrophes
together with the awareness of the current impact hazard that is hanging
over us like Damocles' Sword has taught us that a naive belief in
inevitable cultural and technological progress is misplaced.
Nevertheless, for the first time in the history of life homo Sapiens has
developed the knowledge and technology to deal with this an any other
natural hazard that may endanger our survival on planet earth. That's
why I am opposed to all doomsday prophecies.

Benny J Peiser

=========
(9) DO YOU THINK EARTHLINGS WILL SURVIVE THE NEXT MILLENNIUM?

Survey result from MSNBC.com regarding Stephen Hawking's doomsday
prophecy
http://www.msnbc.com/news/471186.asp?0nm=O229

1916 responses
 
Optimists: "I disagree with Hawking: We'll have no problem" (12%)
 
Hopeful skeptics: "It could be tough, but we'll manage" (40%)
 
Pessimists: "I agree with Hawking: The long-range outlook is grim" (45%)
 
Dreamers: None of the above (3%)
 
Survey results tallied every 60 seconds. Live Votes reflect respondents'
views and are not scientifically valid surveys.

----------------------------------------
THE CAMBRIDGE-CONFERENCE NETWORK (CCNet)
----------------------------------------
The CCNet is a scholarly electronic network. To subscribe/unsubscribe,
please contact the moderator Benny J Peiser <b.j.peiser@livjm.ac.uk>.
Information circulated on this network is for scholarly and
educational use only. The attached information may not be copied or
reproduced for any other purposes without prior permission of the
copyright holders. The fully indexed archive of the CCNet, from
February 1997 on, can be found at
http://abob.libs.uga.edu/bobk/cccmenu.html



CCCMENU CCC for 2000

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

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