PLEASE NOTE:


*
Date sent:        Mon, 08 Dec 1997 12:53:15 -0500 (EST)
From:             " Benny J Peiser" <B.J.PEISER@livjm.ac.uk
Subject:          CC-DIGEST, 8 December 1997
To:               cambridge-conference@livjm.ac.uk
Priority:         NORMAL

CAMBRIDGE-CONFERENCE DIGEST, 8 December 1997

(1) POSSIBLE EFFECTS OF ESTONIAN METEORITE IMPACT C. 4000BP

(2) MINICOMET THEORY SETBACK?

(3) CALL FOR COMET HALE-BOPP IMAGES

(4) IMPACT-RELATED CLASTIC INJECTIONS IN LOCKNE IMPACT CRATER

(5) ATMOSPHERIC ENTRY OF LARGE METEOROIDS
 

================================================================
(1) POSSIBLE EFFECTS OF ESTONIAN METEORITE IMPACT C. 4000BP

From: Bas van Geel <vangeel@bio.uva.nl

Dear Benny,

Here is some information about possible effects of the Kaali meteorite
(Estonia):

In a pollen diagram from the Surusoo mire, Island of Saaremaa, Siim
Veski (1996) found possible evidence for the blast following the fall
of the Kaali meteorite (ca 4000 years ago). The pollen of Coniferae
suddenly falls to almost zero values and this is immediately followed
by a rise in Birch, Hazel and Oak pollen. It is thought that the blast of
the falling meteorite swept down the forest cover of the Island of Saremaa.
The conifers needed some time to recover as they are reproduced by seeds,
while the broad-leaved trees had the advantage of being able to sprout from
the stumps and fallen trunks. Additional investigations are in progress.

Reference:

Veski, S. (1996) History of vegetation and human impact in Northern
Saaremaa, Estonia, based on the biostratigraphy of the Surusoo Mire:
preliminary results. In: T. Hackens, S. Hicks, V. Lang, U. Miller and
L. Saarse (eds), Coastal Estonia. Recent advances in environmental and
cultural history. PACT (Journal of the European Network of Scientific
and Technical Cooperation for the Cultural Heritage) 51: 57-66.
 

+--------------------------+-------------------------------------+
|  Dr Bas van Geel         | Internet E-mail :vanGeel@bio.uva.nl |
|  University of Amsterdam | Phone secr.     :+31-20 525 7844    |
|  Faculty of Biology      | Direct phone    :+31-20 525 7664    |
|  Kruislaan 318           | Fax             :+31-20 525 7662    |
|  NL - 1098 SM Amsterdam  |                                     |
|  The Netherlands         |                                     |
|                                                                |
|    The Netherlands Centre for Geo-ecological Research (ICG)    |
+--------------------------+-------------------------------------+

======================================================================== (2)
MINICOMET THEORY SETBACK?

SKY & TELESCOPE'S NEWS BULLETIN, DECEMBER 5, 1997

More than a decade ago Louis A. Frank and John B. Sigwarth
(University of Iowa) came to the conclusion the Earth is pummeled by
house-size comets many thousands of times each day. They have fought
an uphill battle to support it ever since. Last May Frank brought
forth new evidence from NASA's Polar spacecraft, who's
ultraviolet-light images of Earth's atmosphere show what Frank
purports to be water-induced "holes" from minicomet impacts.

Now the minicomet scenario has been hit again. George Parks
(University of Washington) and his colleagues reexamined the Polar
data but did not find support for Frank's claims. The researchers
note in the December 15th issue of Geophysical Research Letters that
the spots in Polar's ultraviolet views show no clear differences from
dark areas seen in preflight calibration images. Furthermore, the
Polar spacecraft developed an unplanned wobble once in orbit. Thus
views longer than 6 seconds exhibit a 10-pixel-wide smearing. Park
and his colleagues assert that no spots conclusively show this
characteristic either. Finally, the scientists attribute cometlike
streaks in some images to cosmic-ray particles striking the detector.

Fank counters these criticisms by saying that the new analysis is
fundamentally flawed. He explains that Parks did not consider the
larger atmospheric holes seen by Polar and only studied the smaller
ones that ARE instrumental artifacts. Also, in most cases the holes'
would not reveal the effects of the spacecraft's wobble, and Frank
insists that some images DO exhibit it. Stay tuned -- these and other
results will be discussed at a meeting of the American Geophysical
Union on December 9th.

(3) CALL FOR COMET HALE-BOPP IMAGES

The Japanese X-ray satellite ASCA will observe Comet Hale-Bopp this
week, on December 5-6, for a team of Japanese and American
astronomers. Because the comet is now in the southern sky, it is
beyond the reach of ground-based telescopes in Japan and the United
States. So the researchers are appealing to amateur and professional
astronomers in the Southern Hemisphere to record visible-light CCD
images of the comet for comparison with the ASCA results. ASCA is
scheduled to study Comet Hale-Bopp from 05:45 UT on December 5th
through 03:30 UT on December 6th. If you succeed in making CCD
observations of the comet during this period, please contact
Jun-ichi Watanabe, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Osawa,
Mitaka, 181 Tokyo, Japan; phone: +81-422-34-3644; fax:
+81-422-34-3810; e-mail: watanabe@pub.mtk.nao.ac.jp. And please tell
Dr. Watanabe that you saw this alert on the News Bulletin.
--------------------
Copyright 1997 Sky Publishing Corporation.  S&T's Weekly News
Bulletin and Sky at a Glance stargazing calendar are provided as a
service to the astronomical community by the editors of SKY &
TELESCOPE magazine. Widespread electronic distribution is encouraged
as long as these paragraphs are included. But the text of the
bulletin and calendar may not be published in any other form without
permission from Sky Publishing (contact permissions@skypub.com or
phone 617-864-7360). Illustrated versions, including active links to
related Internet resources, are available via SKY Online on the World
Wide Web at http://www.skypub.com/.

=========================================================================
(4) IMPACT-RELATED CLASTIC INJECTIONS IN LOCKNE IMPACT CRATER

E. F. F. Sturkell & J. Ormo: Impact-related clastic injections in the
marine Ordovician Lockne impact structure, Central Sweden.
SEDIMENTOLOGY, 1997, Vol.44, No.5, pp.793-804

UNIVERSITY OF STOCKHOLM, DEPARTMENT OF GEOLOGY, S-10691 STOCKHOLM,
SWEDEN

Clastic injections generated in connection with the formation of impact
craters show many similarities to injections created by other geological
processes. However, circumstances such as their position relative to the
impact structure and the evidence of forceful processes indicate an impact
origin. The Ordovician Lockne impact structure was formed in a marine
environment with both sedimentary (Cambrian and Ordovician) and underlying
crystalline (Proterozoic) target rocks. Sea water played a substantial part
in the cratering process, especially in the modification of the newly formed
crater as the water surged back into the structure. In the Lockne area
elastic dykes and sills have long been known and have earlier been
interpreted as neptunian dykes and conglomerates. So far seven cases of
dykes and sills are known in the area. In this work these are interpreted as
elastic injections formed in connection with the Lockne impact. The elastic
injections occur in the crystalline basement and the sedimentary sequence.
The material in the injections comes from all local lithologies (both
sedimentary and crystalline) but the sedimentary sequence dominates as a
source. The dykes and sills were injected simultaneously with the fracturing
and dilation of the host rock in the cratering process, and occur at
different stratigraphic levels. In some dykes, clasts from the host rock
wall can be fitted back to their original position; the clasts are slightly
rotated and surrounded by exotic material. Quartz grains with planar
deformation features were observed in the injected material. Most of the
sills within the bedded Ordovician limestone are restricted to marry beds,
except for the feeder dykes which cut through the overlying beds. This
circumstance demonstrates how the decompression has opened the strata along
weaker layers and that the underpressure created subsequently sucked the
material down. Laminar flow is a conspicuous internal structure in the dykes
and sills and indicates viscous flow of injected material. The lamination in
the injected material is parallel to the walls in each case. The material
was lithified prior to the event and was crushed, mobilized in a
water/sediment slurry and injected as dykes and sills.

==============================================================
(5) ATMOSPHERIC ENTRY OF LARGE METEOROIDS

B. A. Ivanov, A. T. Basilevsky, G. Neukum: Atmospheric entry of large
meteoroids: implication to Titan. PLANETARY AND SPACE SCIENCE, 1997,
Vol.45, No.8, pp.993-1007

RUSSIAN ACADAMY OF SCIENCE, INST. DYNAM. GEOSPHERES, MOSCOW, RUSSIA

The preparation for the Cassini-Huygens mission gives an opportunity to
revise the problem of an atmospheric entry and breakup of cratering
meteoroids. The numerical modeling of the meteoroid's flight through the
atmosphere is presented in comparison with more simple models. The
simulation takes into account the brittle/ductile properties of the
meteoroid material: the Grady-Kipp-Melosh model of tensile failure is
accompanied with a simple model of the shear failure. The main difference
with previously published models consists in the treating of the
post-failure deformation of the damaged material as a flow of a cohesionless
media with a dry friction. Numerical results are used to make a
parameterization of a simple Grigorian-like model, which finally is applied
to predict the atmospheric shielding effect on Titan. For a modern
atmosphere of Titan and mostly ice projectiles the observable deficiency of
impact craters due to atmospheric shielding would be in the range of 6-8 km,
where the number of craters would be two times smaller than for the airless
Titan.
 



*
Date sent:        Mon, 08 Dec 1997 11:50:04 -0500 (EST)
From:             Benny J Peiser <B.J.PEISER@livjm.ac.uk
Subject:          AGAINST NATURE
To:               cambridge-conference@livjm.ac.uk
Priority:         NORMAL

AGAINST APOCALYPTIC THINKING: REACTIONS TO THE CHANNEL 4 DOCUMENTARY
"AGAINST NATURE"
 

(1) INTRODUCTION

(2) WHY I AM SCEPTICAL OF GLOBAL WARMING SCAREMONGERING

(3) SCEPTICISM GOES AGAINST SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS

(4) DON'T PROMOTE RIGHT-WING AGENDA

(5) IT'S APPALLING, BUT WHO IS BEHIND CHANNEL 4 PROGRAMME?

==========================================================================

(1) INTRODUCTION

The circulation of the AGAINST NATURE transcripts on the CC-list
last week has triggered criticism by some members of the list. In
this message I have posted some of the comments made by list-members
(see further below). Please feel free to send further comments to my
e-mail address - but please try to objectivy this debate. What is
requested and interesting to list members are scientific  f a c t s
rather than political statements.

In response to the critics, I will document below recent research
findings with regard to the climate debate and try to explain why
apocalyptic belief systems (be it in form of religious and
fundamentalist millennialism or in form of secular environmental
end-time beliefs) are of historical, scientific and ethical concern
and interest to scholars of neo-catastophism.

Paolo Farinella (University of Pisa) and David Morrison (NASA) have
criticised that circulating the transcript of AGAINST NATURE and its
environmental scepticism runs counter to what mainstream scientists
believe. Paolo therefore advises me to be ‘careful in reporting
correctly the majority and minority views in the relevant research
communities’.

Yet this was exactly my intention when I circulated the programme's
transcript in the first place. After all, this documentary shows
conclusively that in recent years a large and growing number of
climatologists and natural scientists have come up with hard evidence
which contradict the populist idea of man-made global warming and
catastrophic climate change.

Like most casual observers of the global warming debate, Paolo
assumes that "there is a clear consensus in the climatological
community about the recent and ongoing warming". Paolo and David will
be surprised to learn that this is not the case. In fact, the vast
majority of North-American experts no longer give credence to the
assumption that global climate fluctuations are the result of human
action. Of 400 North-American climatologists interviewed by Wildavsky
in the early 1990s, only 20% maintain that there is evidence of
man-made global warming (Wildavsky 1995; Heinsohn 1997). Thus from a
sporting point of view, AGAINST NATURE has simply aired the growing
doubts by a  m a j o r i t y  of climate experts about man-made
climate change. Quite frankly, however, I am not interested in what a
majority or minority of scientists believe. Rather I want to know
what the evidencial basis of their conflicting assumptions is.

In similiar vein, David Morrison has criticised the "use of the CC
forum to promote the views of a small minority of scientists and
right-wing politicians concerning environmental issues that are not
related to NEOs or historical catastrophism".

David's comments come quite as a surprise since climate research
conducted since 1979 by his own organisation (NASA Marshall Space
Flight Center) has continuously failed to detect any signs of global
warming during the last two decades (see Spencer & Christy 1993).
Curiously, when it comes to NASA climate research, David appears to
doubt the scientific findings of his own colleagues.

What is more, many scientific controversies have become politiciesed
to such an extend that any scepticism, let alone criticism of what is
perceived to be the mainstream paradigm is instantaneously labeled
according to one's own political ideology. Since the Green movement
in the Western world is erraneously perceived to be the sole domain
of the "left" (whatever that might stand for), David concludes that
criticising ecological scraremongering is promoting a right-wing
aganda. Interestingly, the same accusation was raised by the Channel
4 producers against the Greens whom AGAINST NATURE accuses of
promoting a reactionary and racist agenda. May I take this
opportunity to underline that my main concern here is not with party
politics but with the critical assessment of scientific evidence.
After all, this is what I have always considered to be at the heart
of rationalist humanism.

But what has this debate to do with neo-catastrophism and the aims
of the CC-list? You don’t have to be a climatologist to realise that
the global warming scare and other ecological end-time scenarios are
essential components of one of this century’s biggest apocalyptic
movement. As a researcher of ancient, medieval and more recent
episodes of apocalptic ideas and mass hysteria, I try to analyse
ecological doomsday prophecies from a rationalist perspective and
look at the devastating effects of their consequences on billions of
poor and hunger stricken people in the Third World with great
concern. Since there is no reliable data capable of substantiating
the claim for man-made climate change, the main question arises as to
why millions of people around the world (including hundred of
thousands of intellectuals and academics) firmly believe that an
ecological apocalpse is imminent unless we radically hold back
industrial progress and technological development. That is exactly
where scholars of catastrophe traditions and apocalyptic prophecies
might help to enlightening the historic roots and hidden dynamics of
mankind’s end-time beliefs.

I am, by the way, a concerned environmentalist myself. The main
difference, I guess, is that I am trying to keep myself up-to-date
by carefully studying scientific research rather than being
influenced by populist politicians and media reports. Let me
therefore catalogue the main scientific reasons why I remain – for
the time being - a sceptic with respect to man-made global warming. I
hope that Paolo, David and other list members, after reading these
scientific arguments, might also become a wee-bit more sceptical
about the basic assumptions of what Paolo has called "the clear
consensus in the climatology community".

Benny J Peiser
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

(1) WHY I AM SCEPTICAL OF GLOBAL WARMING SCAREMONGERING

1) Between 1980 and 1994 global CO2 emissions have almost doubled
from 3.8 billion t to 6.1 billion t. Yet temperature measurements by
NASA satellites between the same period (1979 and 1993) have failed
to detect any increase of global temperature during the same period
(Spencer & Christy 1993; Rensberger 1993).

2) Instead, NASA satellites have detected a slight d e c r e a s e
of average global temperatures since 1979 (Balling 1995).

3) NASA findings documenting the stability of Earth climate were recently
corroborated for the period 1995 – 1997 by further satellite data (Christy &
Spencer 1997a; Christy & Spencer 1997b; Hawkes 1997)

4) No actual global sea level rise could be detected during the last
100 years. Sea level variation are most likely associated with El
Nino effects (Nerem 1995)

5) Between 1968 and 1996 temperature measurements of the North Sea failed to
detect any increase of average water temperatures (Heinsohn 1997)

6) During the last decade, the average water temperature of the
Atlantic Ocean has slightly   d r o p p e d   in its North-Western
part (Krauthammer 1996).

7) Variations of the world’s ocean temperatures are mainly associated
with fluctuations of sun activity (Kerr 1996; Calder 1997)

8) Water temperatures of the Gulf of Akaba have been stable since
1926 (Lossau 1996)

9) Fluctuations in the development of glaciers in North and Central
Europe during the last 50 years are unrelated to the increases of CO2
emissions (Patzelt 1997)

Benny J Peiser
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

References:

Balling, R. C. (1995) Global Warming: Messy Models, Decent Data, and
Pointless Policy, in: R.Bailey (ed.) The True State of the Earth. Ten
of the World’s Premier Environmental Researchers in a Major Challenge
to the Environmental Movement (New York: The Free Press)

Calder, N. (1997) The Manic Sun (London: Pilkington Press)

Christy, J. & Spencer, R. (1997) Global Temperature Report: February
1997, in: UAH. The University of Alabama in Huntsville: Earth System
Science Lab, vol. 6, No. 9

Christy, J. & Spencer, R. (1997) Global Temperature Report: March
1997, in: UAH. The University of Alabama in Huntsville: Earth System
Science Lab, vol. 6, No. 10

Hawkes, N. (1997), The Times,

Heinsohn, G. (1997) Anfang und Ende des Klimawahns, MZSG Management
Zentrum St Gallen

Kerr, R. D. (1996) A New Dawn for Sun-Climate Links?, in: Science
271, pp. 1360ff

Krauthammer, C. (1996) Now when the weather acts up, you know
who’s to blame, in: International Herald Tribune, 22 January 1996

Lossau, N. (1996) Temperatur des Wassers seit Jahrzehnten stabil,
in: Die Welt, 17 May 1996

Nerem, R. S. (1995) Global Mean Sea Level Variations from
TOPEX/POSEIDON Altimeter Data, in: Science 268, pp. 708ff

Patzelt, G. (1997) Gletscher als Klimazeugen: Der gegenwaertige
Schwund der Gebirgsgletscher stellt keine aussergewoehnliche
Entwicklung dar, in: Klima 2000: The Climate Debate, vol. 1, No.
1:2, pp. 22ff

Rensberger, B. (1993) Global Warming? Satellite Data Don’t Back
Theory, in: International Herald Tribune, 29 July 1993

Spencer, R. & Christy, J (1993) Precision Lower Stratospheric Temperature
Monitoring with the MSU, in: Journal of Climate 6, pp. 1194ff

Wildavsky, A. (1995) But is it True? A Citizen’s Guide to
Environmental Health and Safety Issues (Cambridge, Mass & London:
Harvard University Press)
 

======================================================================= (3)
SCEPTICISM GOES AGAINST SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS

From: Paolo Farinella <paolof@keplero.dm.unipi.it

Benny,

I am not a climatologist, but I think you are wrong in stating that
no data are available supporting a recent (50-100 yr) increase of the
average global temperature. Just search through the Web! see e.g.

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/gcps/papers/climchg/climate-change-update.html

Of course there are bias sources and uncertainties, like in all data
sets, but my understanding is that there is a clear consensus in the
climatology community about the recent and ongoing warming. Despite
the relevant policy implications, I don't think that scientists from
other fields are entitled to attack this consensus view.

Also, the analogy with the impact hazard issue is strong in my
opinion. No informed person (or scientist) doubts that impacts do
occur, but there is quite a debate on the timescales and the effects
of impacts of different sizes. Incidentally, here yours is the
minority view, I think.

In my opinion, when a scientific issue, with or without relevant
policy implications, is addressed by outsiders, they should be
careful in reporting correctly  the majority and minority views in
the relavant research communities. This holds both for global warming
and for impacts.

Best regards,

Paolo Farinella
Dipartimento di Matematica
Universita` di Pisa

=========================================================================
(4) DON'T PROMOTE RIGHT-WING AGENDA

From: David Morrison <dmorrison@mail.arc.nasa.gov

Benny:

I agree with Gene Milone in criticizing your use of the CC forum to
promote the views of a small minority of scientists and right-wing
politicians concerning environmental issues that are not related to
NEOs or historical catastrophism. You are of course entitled to your
views concerning issues such as global warming, although I hope you
realize they are very far from the scientific mainstream. But I advise
against inflicting these views on your "captive audience". In the area of
impacts and catastrophes it is a service to provide information on minority
opinions and ideas, since that is the subject of the CC forum. But I hope in
the future you will avoid other unrelated issues, such as global warming.
Please stick to the subject that brought us all together, or your audience,
which is interested in impacts and their consequences, will likely
evaporate.

David Morrison

==================================================================
(5) IT'S APPALLING, BUT WHO IS BEHIND CHANNEL 4 PROGRAMME?

From: Neil Forsyth <Neil.Forsyth@ANGL.unil.ch

Dear Benny

Yes indeed I was appalled, but also somewhat sceptical. The
degenerate cynic in me says first check out who funded the programme,
or who funded the scientists being interviewed. We eco-freaks (I
suppose I still am one) have often heard similar arguments from the
multinationals and the governements they own/support, and believe me
the multinationals have money enough to fund umpteen such programmes
and scientists.

So yes, a very disturbing programme, but let's be careful.

One more footnote which strikes me as potentially important. I do not
myself see a contradiction between the arguments that support
catastrophism and those which urge us to stop destroying the planet
ourselves before it's too late.

Neil Forsyth
University of Lausanne



CCCMENU CCC for 1997

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