CCNet 18/2001 - 1 February 2001

"It seems pretty obvious that the vast population of large objects
now known to exist in the trans-Neptunian region has a quite different set
of physical properties from the asteroids seen in the inner solar
system. The Centaurs are similar, and I think derived from the same
(trans-Neptunian) source region. These are not made of rock and metal. They
are not minor planets/asteroids. They are large icy bodies. They are giant
comets. I see no sense or reason in persisting to label and number
TNOs and Centaurs as minor planets. They are quite different, and
should be classified differently. Once that is recognised and a
start made, then we might consider how Pluto should be classed in reference
to them."
--Duncan Steel, 31 January 2001

"The leading theory of Oort Cloud formation holds that the giant
planets -- Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune -- were the bullies of
early solar system, using their immense gravity to push comets off
the main playground and then right on out of the neighborhood. The Sun and
passing stars weighed in on the side of the bullies. Scientists have used
this theory, along with estimates of how much material was available to
be bullied, to predict the total mass of all comets in the Oort Cloud.
Nifty idea. Problem is, it might be totally wrong."
--Robert Roy Britt, 1 February 2001


    Ron Baalke <>


    Michael Paine <>

    The Christian Science Monitor, 31 January 2001

    Jens Kieffer-Olsen <>

    Duncan Steel <>

    Roy Tucker <>

    Bob Kobres <>



Donald Savage
Headquarters, Washington, DC               January 31, 2001
(Phone: 202/358-1727)

Michael Buckley
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel,
(Phone: 240/228-7536)

RELEASE:  01-13


NASA's Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) Shoemaker spacecraft, the first
to orbit an asteroid, has met all its scientific goals in its year of
orbiting the asteroid Eros, and will now attempt another first: a controlled descent to the surface of
the asteroid on Feb. 12. 

The chief goal of the controlled descent to the surface is to gather
close-up pictures of the boulder-strewn surface of 433 Eros, more than 196
million miles from Earth.

"NEAR Shoemaker has set a high standard for low-cost planetary exploration,"
said Dr. Edward Weiler, Associate Administrator for Space Science, NASA
Headquarters, Washington, DC. "This mission has provided answers to a range
of fundamental science questions, and it has excited the public with its
exploration and great images. The team at Johns Hopkins University Applied
Physics Laboratory and its many partner institutions are to be congratulated
for achieving this historic first in space exploration."

During its 5-year, 2-billion-mile journey, the NEAR Shoemaker mission, which
was built and is managed by The Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel,
MD, provided the most detailed profile yet of a small celestial body. It
began a yearlong orbit of Eros on Feb. 14, 2000, and has collected 10 times
more data than originally planned.

The data include a detailed shape-model culled from more than 11 million
laser pulses; radar and laser data on Eros' weak gravity and solid but
cracked interior; X-ray, gamma-ray and infrared readings on its composition
and spectral properties; and about 160,000 images covering all of the
21-mile-long asteroid's bouldered, cratered, dusty terrain.

"We have answered the questions we had when the orbit began. We now know
that Eros is a solid body of uniform composition, made of material probably
older than the Earth," said Dr. Andrew Cheng of APL, Project Scientist for
NEAR. "But we also found many other things we didn't expect to see and have
questions we didn't know to ask at the start of the mission. Scientists will
be looking at these data for years."

"On the tiny fraction of the surface we've seen at high resolution, we
noticed strange processes we haven't seen on the moon or anywhere else,"
added Dr. Joseph Veverka, NEAR imaging team leader from Cornell University
in Ithaca, NY. "For example, some boulders seem to have just disintegrated
on the surface. We've also seen that some of the fine surface material moves
downhill, filling low areas and creating flat surfaces in craters, even with
Eros' low gravity. These are big puzzles and we need to get a better look."

That look should come Feb. 12. The primary goal of the controlled descent is
to get the closest images yet of Eros, particularly its "saddle" area, a
6-mile wide depression that has intrigued scientists with its boulder
patches, relatively craterless surface and patterns of grooves and ridges.
The secondary aim is to practice the maneuvers that would lead to a landing,
creating a flight plan for future missions to land on a small body.

"With the spacecraft just about out of fuel and our science objectives met,
this is a great way to end a successful mission," said NEAR Mission Director
Dr. Robert Farquhar of APL. "It's all bonus science. It's never been tried
before and it certainly is a complicated set of maneuvers, but at this point
the only real risk is not taking one."

NEAR Shoemaker's 4-hour descent is scheduled to start at 10:31 a.m. EST with
a maneuver moving it out of its current orbit 22 miles from the center of
Eros. On the way down it will take images that will help determine its exact
location and altitude, and set the timing for the final thruster firings.
This series of thruster firings are designed to decelerate the spacecraft
from about 20 mph to 5 mph.

NEAR Shoemaker will approach the surface on its side, its outward-facing
camera pointed down, snapping a photo every minute. The last clear pictures
from the telescopic camera, taken from approximately 1,650 feet could show
surface features as small as four inches across. After that, NEAR mission
operators will use the blurring photos, altitude data from NEAR Shoemaker's
laser range-finder, Doppler tracking and the eventual loss of signal to
learn when the spacecraft touches down, predicted for just after 3 p.m. EST.

"The whole sequence of engine burns has to go right, or it might not be a
very soft touchdown," Farquhar said. " The unknown nature of the surface
makes it hard to predict what will happen to the spacecraft, especially
since it wasn't designed to land. The most we can hope for is a beacon from
NEAR Shoemaker that says it's still operating."

Images and information on end-of-mission media activities can be found at:


From Ron Baalke <>

PASADENA, CALIF. 91109 TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011

Contact: Martha J. Heil, (818) 354-0850

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                            January 31, 2001


Recurring collisions between comets during the solar system's formation may
have ground smaller comets to bits, leaving only big comets larger than 20
kilometers (12 miles) to survive, according to a new model developed by
researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena,
Calif., and the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colo.

The finding, by Dr. Paul Weissman of JPL and Dr. Alan Stern of Southwest
Research Institute, published in the February 1 issue of the journal Nature,
demonstrates that previous models may have significantly overestimated the
mass of the Oort cloud -- a region far beyond the planets populated by
comets flung outward in the solar system's youth.

"We're introducing a new wrinkle in the process of how the Oort cloud
formed," said Weissman. One result of the new finding, he said, is that "the
cloud may be 10 times less massive than previously thought."

By studying comets of different sizes, the scientists predicted how the
comets would collide with each other, and how the collisions would erode the
comet's cores, dirty snowballs of dust and ice. Their model showed that
comets with nucleus diameters smaller than 20 kilometers (12 miles) would
have been destroyed in the early solar system's demolition derby. Previous
Oort cloud formation models neglected the effects of these collisions.

Another apparent implication of this violent collisional environment is that
the comets in the Oort cloud could be smaller than previously thought, said
the scientists. If comets were so eroded that they would never have left the
region of the giant planets, then few of them would have survived to be
ejected to the Oort cloud. Taking into account their new findings, Weissman
estimates that typical comets in the Oort cloud may be about half as large
across as compared with current best estimates.

JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.


From, 1 February 2001

By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer

Beyond what's normally considered to be the outskirts of our solar system,
well beyond even Pluto's distant orbit, is a vast orbiting reservoir of icy
comets known as the Oort Cloud.
We're talking way out there: up to a fifth of the way to the nearest star.

Despite their incredible distance, the comets of the Oort Cloud still manage
to orbit the Sun. The only time we spot one, in fact, is when it zooms into
the inner solar system. For some, this might occur once in a million years.
For others, it can take 30 times that long to make a single orbit.

Sometimes, on its way around the Sun, an Oort Cloud comet passes close to
Earth. Now and then, one slams into our planet. So researchers would like to
know how many comets are in the Oort Cloud, how big they are, and how they
got there.

The leading theory of Oort Cloud formation holds that the giant planets --
Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune -- were the bullies of early solar
system, using their immense gravity to push comets off the main playground
and then right on out of the neighborhood. The Sun and passing stars weighed
in on the side of the bullies.

Scientists have used this theory, along with estimates of how much material
was available to be bullied, to predict the total mass of all comets in the
Oort Cloud.

Nifty idea. Problem is, it might be totally wrong.



From Michael Paine <>

Dear Benny,

There is a news story at,fyi/37751701.129,.html
"Prehistoric meteorite punched hole in crust"

While checking this out I came across the following.

UT Austin scientist reports results from study of Yucatan crater linked to
mass extinctions of dinosaurs
UT Press Release (15 December 2000)

UTIG Scientist Gail Christeson presented a report on December 17, to the
Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco offering new
geophysical clues to a cataclysmic event that may have killed off the
dinosaurs. The Chicxulub structure was formed 65 million years ago
when a large celestial body -- a comet or an asteroid -- slammed into the
Yucatan Peninsula with a force that makes a nuclear blast seem like a
firecracker. The impact produced fires, acid rain and tsunami-like
destructive waves.  The collision gouged a crater nearly eight miles deep
and sent 12,000 cubic miles of rock, dirt and debris spinning into the
earth's atmosphere. The material blocked the sun, causing extreme changes in
the Earth's climate, which many scientists believe resulted in mass

Michael Paine


From The Christian Science Monitor, 31 January 2001

Mark Sykes knows that Pluto is slipping away.

Just 12 years ago, the errant chunk of ice and rock was as close to Earth as
it ever gets - swooping inside even Neptune on its odd, elliptical path
around the sun. The time was right, it seemed, for humans to finally visit
this last unexplored outpost in their solar system.

Plans were made and designs were drawn. The probe would launch in 2004 and
rendezvous in 2012, catching Pluto before its oblong orbit took it billions
of miles farther into the darkness of space.

Then came the great setback. In September, NASA halted the project, calling
it to too expensive. Now, as Pluto loops away, amateurs and scientists like
Dr. Sykes are desperately trying to rescue the mission with Web campaigns
and project redesigns, knowing that a similar opportunity to study our most
mysterious neighbor won't arise again for 200 years.

"There has been a rallying around this project because of the closing window
of opportunity," says Sykes, an astronomer at the University of Arizona in
Tucson. "If we only have one chance to do this mission, people are going to
be much more motivated to do it."

The race is already on. Although NASA put its plans on hold, it has told
members of the science community they can have until March 21 to come up
with an alternate that costs less than $500 million for the fly-by photo
shoot. If NASA finds a proposal to its liking, production could begin this

So far, half a dozen teams from physics labs and aerospace companies around
the United States have joined the effort. One high school senior in
Pennsylvania has even dedicated his website to saving the mission.

It's a tight deadline, participants say, but they understand why timing is
crucial. For one, if scientists wait too long, Pluto's anemic atmosphere
could freeze and fall out of the sky.

The very fact the Pluto has an atmosphere intrigues astronomers. For years,
many people had thought Pluto was little more than a piece of space junk
caught in the sun's gravity. Yet in 1988, a study detected some gases and
vapors clinging to Pluto, which is about two-thirds the size of the moon.

With each passing day, however, the planet is getting colder as it moves
farther from the sun. Soon, some astronomers say, nearly all of the gases
that make up the atmosphere could fall out of the sky as a Plutonian

It's a problem brought about by Pluto's enigmatic behavior. Unlike the solar
system's other planets, which follow a roughly circular route, Pluto's track
is an off-center oval. From 1979 to 1999, this path took Pluto slightly
closer to the sun than Neptune. By 2113, however, the circuit will take
Pluto to a point nearly 2 billion miles farther away from the sun than

At that distance, the sun would be little more than a bright star in a dark
sky, and temperatures could drop below minus 400 degrees F., causing the

"The atmosphere could get so cold that you get something catastrophic and
everything just freezes," says Ralph McNutt, a scientist at Johns Hopkins
University's Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., which is putting
together a proposal for NASA.

To be sure, studying the atmosphere is not the only reason for going to
Pluto. But the passage of time would make study of the planet difficult for
other reasons, as well.

Foremost among them is available sunlight. In another oddity, Pluto is
flipped on its side so the planet doesn't spin on a nearly vertical axis
like Earth, but rather rolls like a barrel. The way the planet is situated,
the sun hits only the top - the poles - during the winter, meaning that only
one hemisphere gets light. In summer, the planet has swung around so that
its sides are exposed to sunlight, with the sun rising west to east.

Right now, Pluto is moving toward fall. Come winter, half the planet will be
dark and hard to photograph.

"The longer we wait, the worse it's going to be," says Sykes.

Indeed, the next time Pluto will be in summer and closest to the sun will be
in the 23rd century. And while everyone agrees that a winter trip to Pluto
would still yield valuable data, the focus is on getting there as soon as

After all, Pluto is almost a complete mystery, and scientists know that
worlds are almost always more varied and dynamic than imagined. For example,
when the Voyager spacecraft passed Neptune in 1989, geysers of some
unidentified material were spouting from the surface of Triton, a Neptunian
moon thought to been barren and similar to Pluto.

Already, one scientist has posited that Pluto's moon, Charon, may be
geologically active, with watery eruptions through an ice crust. But even
the strongest telescopes see Pluto and Charon only as indistinct blobs, and
any journey there will be an education.

Enigmatic Pluto

* One trip around the sun takes Pluto 248 years; a season lasts 62 years.
* Pluto's character is so abnormal that the Rose Center for Earth and Space
in New York no longer calls it a planet.
* Pluto is half the size of the second-smallest planet, Mercury.
* Pluto's moon, Charon, is half the size of the planet.
* Pluto and Mercury are the only planets that have elliptical, not circular,
* From 1979 to 1999, Pluto was closer to the sun than Neptune. By 2113, it
will be nearly 2 billion miles farther away.
* At Pluto's farthest point from the sun, sunlight takes seven hours to
travel the 4.6 billion miles. (Sunlight reaches Earth in eight minutes.)
* Scientists estimate surface temperatures on Pluto can reach minus 400
degrees F.

(c) Copyright 2001 The Christian Science Monitor.  All rights reserved.


From Jens Kieffer-Olsen <>

Mark Kidger <> wrote:
>As we know, Clyde Tombaugh found no other objects because the albedos of the
>other TNOs are probably around 4-5% rather than the 60%-ish of Pluto. Give
>Pluto a lower albedo and Tombaugh would have had a tough time finding it.

Dear Benny Peiser,

Allow me to highlight the above observation of Mark Kidger's, which adds an
extra dimension to the defence of Pluto the Ninth Planet, namely its
relative brightness.

Demoting Pluto to a KBO would be to ask the public to forget about it.
Ordinary people are seldom heard referring to an asteroid by name, simply
because they choose not to commit such names to memory.  Ask the man in the
street to explain what Ceres means to him, and he will probably say a beer (
at least in Denmark ).  

Yet it is expected of a good parent that he knows of the major planets and
can name them to his kids.  And surely Pluto is one of the favourites among
children, since its size, name, and the fact that it comes last in the list,
allow them to identify with it. It would be very selfish if the astronomical
community made an arbitrary decision to invalidate this piece of dear and
common knowledge.

The prospect of finding yet another planet outside of Pluto is exciting, but
it might be wise to preclude future debates over status by agreeing that
only objects at least equal in size to Pluto qualify for public attention as
major planets.  

In short, I feel comfortable with the position maintained by the IAU on this

Jens Kieffer-Olsen, M.Sc.(Elec.Eng.)
Slagelse, Denmark


From Duncan Steel <>

Dear Benny,

Many interesting comments have been made regarding the status of Pluto, and
yet I feel that a central issue has yet to be addressed. I will come to that
below as (e), but first a few other points that arise from CCNet dated

(a) Lose and Loose.

Spelling is important, not just from a pedantic viewpoint. In your own
commentary there was a mix-up between 'lose' and 'loose' (but, hey, your
German is better than mine!). The other
place the swap was made is here, in a story quoted from

"Zahnle said that no other object yet discovered in the Kuiper Belt is as
large as Pluto. "But as soon as they discover another one that's the same
size, at that point the planet Pluto is going to loose its support," he

In that instance the meaning is almost reversed. Instead of the support
being reduced (lose), it is going to be enhanced (e.g. "He let loose his
arrows"). I think Kevin meant the former.

(b) How many planets?

Wendell Mendell wrote:
"Planets, as we all know, were first defined as those points of light that
are not fixed in sky.  There were 5 of them. Earth was not one."

The word "planet" is derived from the Greek for "wanderer". Originally there
were seven "planets": Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter, plus the
Moon and the Sun. It is from this seven that we derive the seven-day week
(through reinforcement, during the Exile, of the evolved
Judaic sabbath cycle with the planetary week of Babylonian astrology). This
was brought back by the Jews to the Near East, hence Egypt, and from there
(post-Pompey and Julius Caesar) it came to the Roman domain, where it
gradually replaced the earlier eight-day week (the nundinum). The legal
basis of the seven-day week comes from an edict by Constantine the Great,
early in the fourth century AD. The seven-day week was certainly in common
use in parallel with the eight-day cycle by the time that the city of Pompei
was buried (AD 79).

These seven planets give their names to the seven days of the week. Their
ordering is based on astrology mixed with the pre-Copernican notions of
their distances from the Earth. In the context of Wendell's statement, it is
interesting that the five days named for Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and
Jupiter derive their appelations in English from Germanic languages. (Note
in passing that Saturday is *not* named directly for Saturn through  the
Latin 'dies Saturni', but from the Teutonic planetary god 'Saeterne'.) This
is because there was a pagan five-day week used in northern Europe until the
Roman legions and early Christian missionaries brought the seven-day system
with them, and so added 'Monday' and 'Sunday'.

Much more detail on the above is given in my book 'Marking Time' (Wiley, New
York, 2000).

So, when Wendell wrote that "the Moon is widely recognized as a planet" ...I
have to say: yes, indeed. (On quite different grounds to those which he
correctly argues.)

(c) Picking nits and (roman)ticks   (har, har).

Joshua Kitchener wrote:
"In my rather humble opinion what we have before us in this historic Pluto
debate is a group of romantics (note the entomology), versus a group of
objective scientists."

What have insects got to do with it? Was that intended to be "etymology"?

(d) Striking a resonant chord

Greg Bryant wrote:
"One of the early complaints about Pluto was that its orbit was too
elliptical compared to the other major planets."

Pluto e = 0.2482; Mercury e = 0.2056; all the rest are less than half that.
So should we argue about throwing out tiny Mercury?

"Another view put forward about Pluto not being a major planet was that it
shared a resonance relationship with Neptune. A few weeks ago, it was
announced that two planets had been discovered with a 2 to 1 resonance
around the red dwarf Gliese 876.  Resonance is no barrier to planetary

Um, and what about Uranus:Neptune 1:2?

(e) How should TNOs (and Centaurs) be classed?

Leaving the above trivialities aside, I now come onto my major comment, as
foreshadowed above. Wendell Mendell wrote, quite correctly: "Planetary
scientists view planets in terms of their physical processes and evolution,
not in terms of their orbital context."

Now let's apply that concept to the smaller bodies in the solar system, at
least those in heliocentric orbits (i.e. leave aside all moons/natural
satellites, and ring systems). It would appear that one population of small
bodies are made of rock and metal. We call these asteroids, or minor
planets. There are some cross-over examples: asteroids produced from dead or
dormant comets (e.g. 4015 Wilson-Harrington).

I am entirely happy to have all these minor planets/asteroids numbered in
that big sequence, so long as they are not comets. That means that I think
that 2060 Chiron should really have been a comet Kowal, but mistakes get
made as we progress and we really didn't know in 1977 (when it was
discovered) that it would make the cross-over in the opposite direction:
becoming active (producing a coma/atmosphere) as it neared perihelion.

There is no need to persist in making such mistakes, however. It seems
pretty obvious that the vast population of large objects now known to exist
in the trans-Neptunian region has a quite different set of physical
properties from the asteroids seen in the inner solar system. The Centaurs
are similar, and I think derived from the same (trans-Neptunian) source
region. These are not made of rock and metal. They are not minor
planets/asteroids. They are large icy bodies. They are giant comets.

I see no sense or reason in persisting to label and number TNOs and Centaurs
as minor planets. They are quite different, and should be classified

Once that is recognised and a start made, then we might consider how Pluto
should be classed in reference to them. I am not saying that Pluto should be
called a giant comet (although David Levy might appreciate the thought that
it could, in parallel, be named Comet Tombaugh!). What I am saying is that
Pluto should not be called a minor planet on the grounds that there are many
similar but slightly smaller objects in the same part of the solar system,
because they are not minor planets either. They form an altogether distinct
population of bodies, which should not be confused with the rocky population
of small objects in cis-jovian space.

Duncan Steel


From Roy Tucker <>

Dear Dr. Peiser,

Once again we are faced with the divisive issue of the status of Pluto. Why?
Because two years ago the astronomical community failed to promulgate a
proper definition as to what distinguishes a 'major planet' from a 'minor
planet'. If we insist on two categories, then we must specify a dividing
line between the two either based upon objective criteria such as mass or
physical size, or upon some arbitrary definition, perhaps involving history.
Let's not decide this just for Pluto, but for all future discoveries as
well. A definition should be formulated that will apply to other planetary
systems as well.

What is it that we are trying to convey when we use the terms 'planet' or
'minor planet'? If we refer to the bodies known from antiquity, those
visible to the unaided eye, and which inspired the name because of their
'wandering', then there are no planets beyond Saturn. Nobody would be happy
with that.

How about compliance with the Bode-Titius relationship? No good. The Main
Belt asteroids would be included. I think everyone is in agreement that we
aren't referring to them when we say 'planet'.

A definition involving mass is appealing but that leads dangerously to
discussions of density. Gee, doesn't Saturn have a density less than water?

I believe we are all fundamentally in agreement that we are referring to
simple physical size when we try to distinguish between 'major' and 'minor'
planets. What kind of objective criteria do we use for a size boundary? How
about large enough to round itself into a spherical shape? Do we allow for
distortions due to cratering impacts? How large a crater? Hmmm... This might
be troublesome, too. Large enough to experience internal heating and
differentiation? No. Depends upon composition too much and is difficult to
judge by simply looking at it.

Some time ago, someone suggested an arbitrary figure of 1000 kilometers as
the minimum size of a 'major' planet. That seems a pretty good figure, Ceres
does not qualify but Pluto does. Can we be happy with that? How about if we
find several 1001 kilometer objects in the Kuiper/Edgeworth Belt? I think
this is where we should direct our debates, not on the specific case of
Pluto. Let's settle this once and for all by defining what is meant by the
term 'major planet', preferably a definition that sets the upper bound  as

Best regards,
  - Roy Tucker


From Bob Kobres <>

Actually I think that an incredible number of dogs could dance on a cathead,
particularly if they're the animated 2D type.  ;^) 

Why are we arguing over Pluto's rank again? Star-like-object naming has
apparently been subject to change as far back as we can read. 

This factor was the source of one of Immanual Velikovsky's major errors. He
assumed continuity of nouns or more precisely he thought philologists had
correctly identified the various ancient names for planets. Where Kugler
(whose various works are referenced by Velikovsky) saw a sunlike-meteor in
association with Venus, Velikovsky saw "Comet Venus." Both researchers fell
victim to what this author calls the "bibbu boo-boo." There is considerable
reason to suspect that the majority of our planet's namesakes were
comets--probably of the Encke family.

For instance, we can read from W.M. O'Neil (1975):

"The word planet comes from the Greek planetes, the wanderers; these seven
celestial bodies moved among the fixed stars. The Babylonians had a more
picturesque name bibbu, the wild sheep, as these bodies broke through the
fixed formation in which the tame sheep crossed the sky."

To call into question Greek continuity of planet identity I refer to
Leonardo Taran's work on the "Pseudo-Platonic" Epinomis (1975) where in
commentary on lines 986 A 8-987 D 2 Taran states:

Having previously proved to his own satisfaction that all the heavenly
bodies are the greatest divine living beings and having pointed out that
they are not yet honored as gods, the author explains who these visible gods
are and why they are not honored in Greece. They are the eight interrelated
sidereal revolutions and the heavenly bodies which travel on them, for they
are all gods of the same kind. And the contemplation of this divine cosmic
order is what will make a man happy both in this life and in the next. But
the lack of this wisdom in Greece is due to ignorance of the true paths of
the planets, a knowledge which comes from the Orient and which must be
incorporated into our laws. That the knowledge of the planets comes from the
Orient is to be seen in the very fact that the planets lack proper names and
are called after the (traditional) gods, for this kind of appellation is due
to the barbarians who first discovered the planets.

The Epinomis, which dates from around the 4th century BCE, is the earliest
extant record of Greek planet names; each is given as "the star of:"
Cronos, Zeus, Aphrodite, etc. Clearly the planets did not inspire the
earlier stories which championed these gods. The mythology associated with
these names certainly better describes the break-up of a comet with an orbit
that crossed Earth's path than the monotonous behavior of planets.

As for the BIBBUS, as well as the Oriental influence alluded to above I call
attention to J.K. Bjorkman's article in METEORITICS (1973) which deals with
much earlier texts:

"We move now to a discussion of a word which probably refers to comets,
bibbu. As the material in CAD B 217a to 219 makes clear, bibbu has a variety
of astromantic and non-astromantic meanings. There is a lengthy omen text,
the 56th tablet of Enuma Anu Enlil, which deals with various features of the
bibbu, and some of these seem to describe comets. For example:

(Largement 1957, 239 line 12b) If a bibbu continues one day, two days in the
sky and does not disappear: (CAD B 218b) If three or four bibbus rise one
after the other at sunrise

The latter text might refer to a comet which has broken up into three or
four comets under the stress of the sun's gravitational pull; however, this
is an unusual occurrence. There are many more references to bibbu, but in
them the translations "unspecified planet" or "meteor" could be proposed
with equal or greater logic than "comet." "

These cuneiform tablets which Kugler so diligently studied may yet be our
clearest window to an obscure past. They are unearthed documents--not handed
down tales. Bjorkman's article is illustrative of the potential for research
in this area. It also shows well causes for difficulty in understanding
these texts. Bjorkman herself states in preface that " . . .without having
read parts of Middlehurst and Kuiper (1963) [The Moon, Meteorites and
Comets], I would not have adequately understood the ancient description of a
comet as a star with a tail and a beak."

Some enticing lines given by her are:

If a fireball (coming from) a planet is seen:
If a fireball (coming from) Mars is seen:
If a fireball (coming from) the Old-Man star is seen:
If a fireball moves across the Wagon-Star and stands
(if Venus) rises very high and constantly has a red glow,
(explanation) constantly (SAG.US = kunnu) a red fireball moves across,
variant: at its zenith(?) it is altogether red-hued

Sallummu is a key word in these lines. Bjorkman believes fireball or meteor
is indicated by this term. Mishu or meshu is another astronomical word which
Bjorkman renders as meteor and/or train of such. It seems likely to this
investigator that the term could also be applied to a bright comet tail. The
word has also been rendered as aufleuchten (flash or flaring) and as glow.
Comments from later scribes often appear within copies of older
texts--ostensibly for clarification. The following lines used by Bjorkman to
illustrate the use of mishu contain considerable commentary--perhaps this
scribe was having trouble interpreting the older text being copied. The
reader should note how easily premise alters meaning when interpreting
ancient works. Were these lines inspired by meteors or comets?

TEXT: [If] in the sky a meteor (mishu) which (is) like a . . .rises
heliacally(?), (and) its train (mishu) appears in the east: famine will be
in the land;
COM: its copy: . . . = husu, it twinkles like husu.
TEXT: If in the sky a meteor (train) from a planet (Mustabarrumutanu)
appears: destruction of cattle will occur in the land.
COM: sallummu = mesih of a star, the same is the zimu of a star. A planet
(Mustabarrumutanu) is shining brightly.
TEXT: [If] in the sky a meteor train which is like the meteor train from the
Nasru-star, = from the KUR.MUSEN-star, appears from east to west: famine
will be in the land.
COM: This means: the Nasru-star produced (a meteor train) from the top;
these look alike to him.
TEXT: If in the sky a meteor train occurs from east to west (and) north to
south (and) stands out (?) like a cross: the king of that land will die, and
famine will seize (it).
COM: (This means) two stars flashed.

In terms of the present discussion, the last line of text is most
interesting. Could it not be read: If in the sky a comet tail appears from
east to west and north to south and stands out like a cross? We know from
modern observation that comets can produce jets of gas which radiate
outward. We have learned from a 2,500 year old Chinese comet atlas that
records of a comet appearing as a cross on more than one occasion were in
existence. Furthermore, sky borne crosses begin to appear in the art of a
variety of cultures (including the one which produced the above text) all
over the world at least 5000 years ago. And lastly, the lines quoted above
are taken from an omen text devoted to Ishtar (generally labeled as Venus)
which has for one of its symbols a four pointed cross within a circle.

A number of cultures retained stories of objects in the sky and as these
amazingly informative tales of the Yakuts reveal, names can migrate to
different bodies: [note that the CH in brackets below is printed in the
reference as a "c" with a diacritic "v"]

[CH]OLBON . . . is said to be "the daughter of the Devil and to have had a
tail in the early days". If it approaches the earth, it means destruction,
storm and frost, even in the summer; . . .

[CH]OLBON, the daughter of the Devil is a beautiful girl ... she is the
bride and the sweetheart of Satan's son ÜRGEL (Pleiades). When these two
stars come close to one another, it is a bad omen; their eager quivering,
their discontinuous panting cause great disasters: storms, blizzards, gales.
When they unite, fathom deep snow will fall even in the summer, and all
living beings, men, animals and trees will perish . . .

Both folk memories were recorded by ethnographer V.L. Serosevsky, the first
in 1877, the next in 1885. The Yakuts identified Venus as colbon; however,
as a later student of this culture, G.V. Ksenofontov, observed:

The Yakuts have two words for the "star": SULUS and [CH]OLBON. The first
means simply "star", the second refers to stars that change their place in
the sky, sometimes appearing and disappearing. Nowadays, however, it no
longer--or very seldom--refers to other planets than Venus and has almost
become its name. Yet, as we have seen, in legends also other [CH]OLBONS
(i.e. planets) are mentioned.

What is remarkable about these particular tales is the conjunction of
several pieces of information. From these lines we gather that a comet
([CH]OLBON with a tail) came close enough to influence weather on
Earth--i.e. deadly storms, frost and deep snow in summer. Also, we are told
that this is most likely to occur if the comet appears close to the
Pleiades. In short, these legends accurately describe what can now be
inferred from astronomical data on comet Encke and the ring of debris its
progenitor strew about the Sun.

Another example:

Alfred Hillebrandt, Vedic Mythology (1981 English edition, vol 2 pp 259-60)
LC#: BL 1112.26.H5413 1980 v.2

The belief that the Manes shine as stars in the sky has likewise its
adherents in India.  We find that several stars are associated with the
changes in nature and that the names of important Rsis occur again in those
of celestial stars. "Whenever Agastya rises," says Al-Beruni, "and the water
increases in the rivers and valleys during his time, you see the rivers
offering to the moon all that is on the surface of their water..." Agastya,
who bears the epithet kumbhayoni in classical Sanskrit, is already known
from the Veda because of his relation to the Maruts. If we seek to discover
further traces of the Vedic star cult, we should refer above all to the
testimony of Hiranyakesin (HGS I. 22. 14 ff.) who enjoins the worship of the
Naksatras, moon, the seven Rsis with Arundhati, and the Pole Star during the
first installation of fire in the domestic hearth.  The Pole Star bears the
designation naksatranam methi; it is addressed as brahman, dhruva, acyuta,
avyathamana, nabhya sarvasya; the first formula for him is followed by namo
brahmanah putraya prajapataye, brahmanah putrebhyo devebhyas
trayastrimsebhro namo brahmanah putrapautrebhyo 'ngirobhyah. Thus we find in
the Grhya ritual a glorification of the Pole Star and of the seven Rsis,
i.e. the stars in the Great Bear, and likewise occasionally in the Srauta
ritual as well. One wishes that the sacrifice and the sacrificer may reach
"the world of the seven benevolent Rsis" and makes an offering for them in
the north-east during the Agnihotra.28

[28. KSS IV.14.27. When a comet obscures them, it means danger, see Weber,
Omina und Portenta, p. 396.]

They are mentioned already in the oldest tradition. It was the "seven Rsis,
our fathers," who through sacrifice obtained Trasadasyu as son for the wife
of Purukutsa when she was in distress (RV IV. 42. 8). They settled down (in
the heavens) to practice tapas, with the five Adhvaryus they guard "the
hidden foot print of the bird" and are obviously identical with the seven
mythical Vipras, Rebhas, Karus, Hotrs who stand next to the gods and
ancestors, who have taken part in the recovery of the cows, sacrificed at
first along with Manu, and are to be regarded as the archetypes for the
seven terrestrial Hotrs who have their place at the seven hearths in the
sacrifice.  The dhisnyas of the Hotr and his companions are constructed with
special mantras within the Vihara, each dhisnya being slightly more to the
north than the previous one. It would be worth investigating if these
dhisnyas also, like the other constituents of the sacrifice, have a
symbolical significance and correspond roughly to the abodes of "the Seven
celestial Hotrs."

In this context another point may be mentioned. In verse III.7 7 cited above
"the five Adhvaryus" are mentioned along with the seven Rsis; from this
juxtaposition it would seem that this designation too does not refer to the
professional priests of the sacrificial place but to certain models in the
sky who move to and fro as the Adhvaryus do.  It seems to me that here we
have an allusion to the five planets. Otherwise we seek in vain for a
mention of the planets in the hymns of the RV. In view of the ritual origin
of the Vedic hymns, this comparison is not unusual.

From these five we should distinguish the other five who "stand in the
middle of the sky" (I 105.10).  The choice of the words indicates that here
it is not the planets which are meant but a never-setting, fixed, hence a
circumpolar constellation.

Re: "the hidden foot print of the bird" see:

Bjorkman, J.K., "Meteor and Meteorites in the Ancient Near East" METEORITICS
1973 vol. 8, (pp. 91-132).
translation by Dunn, S.P.) Indiana University,Bloomington, 1968 (pp.
O'Neil, W.M. TIME AND THE CALENDARS. Sydney Univ. Press, Sydney 1975.
EPINOMIS American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, PA, 1975 (p. 294).

Anchors away I say!
Got to go with the flow of the info. . .

Bob Kobres
Main Library
University of Georgia
Athens, GA  30602

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"Russians in the remote Far East and Siberia are used to extreme
cold, which claims scores of lives each year. But temperatures this
winter plunged to 67 degrees below zero F., the lowest in half a
century. Central heating systems, electrical grids, and fuel-transport and
communication lines have buckled under the strain since November, leaving
tens of thousands without heat or electricity. California's rolling
blackouts have affected millions and caused estimated billions in damage,
but Russians say their problems are of a far more serious - and
potentially lethal - magnitude."
--Scott Peterson , The Christian Science Monitor, 30 January

"In other words, the prediction that the world might drastically
heat up is achieved by combining the outputs from notoriously inaccurate
models of economic, demographic, and technological change, and then
mixing those results with atmospheric models that are even more fraught
with great uncertainties. The last time governments were urged to drastic
action by concerned scientists on the basis of computer model results was
the Limits to Growth fiasco in the 1970s."
-- Ronald Bailey, Reason Magazine, Science Correspondent

Oh dear: "If predictions of global warming hold true, increases in
violent crime and bloodshed may accompany rising temperatures, a US
researcher said Monday."
--The New York Times, 29 January 2001

    The Christian Science Monitor, 30 January 2001

    Environmental News Network, 30 January 2001

    Australian Institute of Marine Science, 30 January 2001

    Reason Magazine, 24 January 2001

    ABC News, 26 January 2001

    Japan Times, 29 January 2001

    Tech Central Station, 29 january 2001

    Jon Richfield

    S. Fred Singer <>

     Richard Courtney <>

     The New York Times, 29 January 2001


From The Christian Science Monitor, 30 January 2001

Record cold has collapsed power grids. Next year could be worse.

By Scott Peterson
Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor


The floor in Marina Gladkaya's bedroom is caked with ice, where a hard
freeze caused the radiator to burst. Bundled up and wearing insulated boots,
Ms. Gladkaya now sleeps on the floor of the sitting room across the hall,
where there is a small plug-in heater. Her 12-year-old son gets the couch.
Her husband, a sailor, is away.
A thermometer in the "warm" room registers just a few degrees above
freezing. "We feel warmer outside on the street," says Gladkaya, watching
her breath in the icy apartment air.

Russians in the remote Far East and Siberia are used to extreme cold, which
claims scores of lives each year. But temperatures this winter plunged to 67
degrees below zero F., the lowest in half a century. Central heating
systems, electrical grids, and fuel-transport and communication lines have
buckled under the strain since November, leaving tens of thousands without
heat or electricity.

California's rolling blackouts have affected millions and caused estimated
billions in damage, but Russians say their problems are of a far more
serious - and potentially lethal - magnitude. A political blame-game between
Moscow and regional officials has made matters worse.

Analysts have been warning of nationwide infrastructure breakdown in Russia,
predicted in 2003. Many say the current energy crisis shows that the
breakdown is already under way.


From Environmental News Network, 30 January 2001
The United Nations launched an appeal for $11.8 million in aid for Mongolia
on Tuesday to help hundreds of thousands of herders through the country's
worst winter in memory.

Thick snow over 90 percent of the country and temperatures as low as minus
58 Fahrenheit have killed 600,000 head of livestock since November - robbing
herders of their only source of food, transport, shelter, fuel and income,
the United Nations said. [...] The winter disaster could kill up to 6.6
million animals by May - 21 percent of the nation's livestock - if those
conditions persisted as forecast, it said.

The arctic freeze had killed 12 herders and caused widespread human
suffering in a country where a third of the population of 2.4 million
depended entirely on livestock. [...] This is Mongolia's second consecutive
winter disaster - the last wiped out three million animals - and has been
compounded by two summer droughts in a row that decimated the hay crop,
which is usually used as winter fodder.

But this winter the deadly freeze has spread across northeast Asia in a
1,800-mile arc stretching from China's northwestern region of Xinjiang to
North Korea.

Chinese state media reported on Tuesday snowstorms had killed 13 people and
thousands of head of livestock in Xinjiang. The official newspaper said snow
as deep as five feet had affected 924,000 thousand herders and killed
108,700 head of livestock. The death of the 13 herders took the toll to 42
in the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia.

Copyright 2001, Reuters


From Australian Institute of Marine Science, 30 January 2001

ENSO yields its ancient secrets to researchers studying fossil coral

Research examining ancient corals has provided the most detailed evidence to
date of the behaviour of the ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) climate
pattern over the past 130,000 years and will help climate modellers better
predict likely climatic change as the Earth's atmosphere warms.

No other research has gone back further in time to examine ENSO's
relationship with global climate change. The research, carried out over more
than four years by a team led by a scientist from the University of
Edinburgh, was completed at AIMS over the past year. The work has been
published in the prestigious journal Science.

Dr Alexander (Sandy) Tudhope from Edinburgh is an expert on recovering and
analysing climate records locked in ancient coral, in this case massive
Porites corals from fossil reefs in Papua New Guinea. He worked with Dr
Janice Lough from AIMS, who provided expertise in analysis of climate
variability. Other collaborators, from the Australian National University in
Canberra and from overseas institutions, contributed various analytical

ENSO is the most potent source of year-to-year climate variability. The
phenomenon profoundly affects the climate of over half the planet and has
been responsible for damaging extremes, from drought to floods, in
Australia. Despite a rapid rise in scientific understanding of the physics
of ENSO, key aspects of the system have remained poorly understood.

The scientists sought to address the uncertainty surrounding the impact of
climate change on ENSO strength and frequency with a view to helping predict
how the ENSO phenomenon will respond as the Earth warms over the coming

Dr Tudhope cautions that the team's data do not prove or disprove the theory
that ENSO has already become stronger as a consequence of human activity.
However the data do indicate that ENSO has been sensitive to global climate
change in the more distant past. This observation may ultimately lead to
more accurate ENSO predictions by research groups who run sophisticated
computer climate models, and Dr Tudhope has begun collaborating with two
groups who run such programs. The data produced by this research will help
fill the gaps that have limited the precision of climate models in the past.

Coral is an ideal material to study as it forms yearly bands, much like the
banding seen in trees. The rate at which coral locks slightly atomically
different forms of oxygen (known as isotopes) into its skeleton gives a
highly-sensitive measure of sea surface temperature and rainfall, the key
indicators of ENSO activity. Examining this coral record has shown that ENSO
has indeed operated over the past 130,000 years, even during the very cold
glacial times, although its intensity has varied.

The team found that during the twentieth century ENSO was strong compared
with previous cool glacial times. Part of the continuing uncertainty is not
knowing what the comparison would be with times that are as warm as global
climate change forecasts would suggest are on the way.

"We are entering uncharted territory," said Dr Tudhope. The Earth is heading
towards temperatures warmer than experienced for millions of years, so there
is no way of examining what ENSO has done in the past under these
conditions. The closest that we may come could be records from the
mid-Holocene, 5,000-6,000 years ago, or the last interglacial era, about
120,000-125,000 years ago, when temperatures were on average about 1 degree
Celsius higher than presently. It is predicted that global temperatures will
rise on average by between 1 and 3 degrees as the greenhouse effect takes

Dr Lough warns that there is no research to prove that ENSO behaviour is
linear - that is, if the system behaves a certain way in the presence of an
overall cool global climate it doesn't mean that it will go in the opposite
direction should temperatures rise. Much more research is needed to come to
such a conclusion.

Dr Tudhope envisages taking a closer look at those warmer periods of the
Holocene and last interglacial as his next likely research direction. In
addition, he plans to work closely with climate modellers to see what effect
these new data have on computer models and where the knowledge gaps still


Dr Janice Lough (AIMS scientist)
Phone: 07-7453 4248

Ms Theresa Millard (acting AIMS media manager, Townsville)
Phone: 07-4753 4250
Mobile: 0418 729 265

Copyright ©1996-2001 Australian Institute of Marine Science


From Reason Magazine, 24 January 2001

By Ronald Bailey, Reason Science Correspondent

"Scientists Issue Dire Prediction on Warming" blares the lead headline in
the January 23 Washington Post. The earth's temperature could rise by as
much 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100 and sea levels could rise by 34 inches,
warns the Post. The headline and the data derive from the new "Summary for
Policymakers," just issued by the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC), which has been meeting in Shanghai. In 1995, the last
time the IPCC officially predicted the 21st century's weather, the maximum
projected temperature increase was just 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit. So things
must be really heating up fast, right?

Not exactly. "The catastrophic warming projections are based on one set of
scenarios that are way off the chart," says John Christy, a professor of
Atmospheric Science and director of the Earth System Science Center at the
University of Alabama at Huntsville.

The headline-grabbing projected temperature increase comes from the IPCC's
most extreme scenario, out of some 35, that it dreamed up for possible
future greenhouse gas emissions. In this ultra-worst-case scenario, a
rapidly growing world population merrily burns more and more fossil fuels
with virtually no improvement in technology. Then this gloomy econometric
forecast is fed into the global climate model most sensitive to
perturbations and voila!--cataclysmic catastrophe.

In other words, the prediction that the world might drastically heat up is
achieved by combining the outputs from notoriously inaccurate models of
economic, demographic, and technological change, and then mixing those
results with atmospheric models that are even more fraught with great
uncertainties. The last time governments were urged to drastic action by
concerned scientists on the basis of computer model results was the Limits
to Growth fiasco in the 1970s.

Back then, the Club of Rome solemnly told world leaders that humanity would
likely be completely out oil, gas, copper, zinc, gold, and tin by now. If
that wasn't bad enough, the Club also said we'd be choking on pollution and
experiencing massive famines. President Jimmy Carter commissioned the
infamous Global 2000 Report, which seconded the projections made by the
limits-to-growth crowd.

Such predictions have been spectacularly wrong: The world has yet to run out
of any of these minerals, food has never been cheaper, and pollution levels
have been declining in developed countries for three decades. Air pollution
is even going down in Mexico City, one of the most heavily polluted cities
on the planet.

"The climate models are still not able to reproduce what we've seen in the
past few decades," says Alabama's Christy. In fact, they predict much more
warming than is shown by highly accurate satellite temperature data that's
been collected over the past 22 years. The satellites find almost no
atmospheric warming, with the earth's lower atmosphere warming at only about
0.04 degrees Celsius per decade.

The IPCC acknowledges that the satellite data don't show much warming. It
insists, however, that "the global average surface temperature has increased
significantly by +0.15 degrees Celsius per decade." The summary then mildly
notes that differences between the satellite data and the surface "are not
fully resolved." Nevertheless, the IPCC summary boldly claims that
"confidence in the ability of the models to project future climate has
increased." Such confidence, however is unwarranted. The models predict that
the atmosphere's temperature should be going up more rapidly than the
surface temperature. Yet the opposite is occurring.

What could account for the differences in the surface temperature trends and
the atmospheric temperature trends? Roger Pielke, Sr., professor of
Atmospheric Sciences at Colorado State University, argues that with regard
to surface temperatures "land use changes are probably more significant than
the radiative effects of doubling carbon dioxide." Pielke believes that the
IPCC has misinterpreted increased surface temperatures resulting from land
use changes like deforestation, farming, suburbanization, and urbanization,
as being changes in atmospheric temperatures caused by increased levels of
greenhouse gases. Taking the effects of land use changes into account could
explain the discrepancy between the IPCC's surface temperature data trends
and the satellite trends. If that's the case, then increased carbon dioxide
levels as a result of burning fossil fuels recedes as a climatological

Pielke also points out that the global climate models do not account for the
effects of increased carbon dioxide on plant growth. For example, doubled
carbon dioxide levels leads to greater plant growth and improved water-use
efficiency. In a grassland model that he ran, the net effect was cooler
day-time and warmer night-time temperatures, not apocalypse.

The IPCC summary openly acknowledges that current models can't account for
clouds. This is vital, since clouds act as shades during the day and as
blankets at night; they lower daytime temperatures while increasing
nighttime ones. The IPCC finds that cloud cover has increased by 2 percent
in the last century and that nighttime daily minimum temperatures are going
up at twice the rate of daytime high temperatures. What appears to be
happening in reality, though not in the models, is that most of the warming
over the last few decades is occurring during winter nights. This means that
growing seasons are lengthening in the temperate zones, as frosts end
earlier in spring and start later in autumn.

"There is clear evidence that we are changing the climate, but we have no
idea if the net effect is warming, cooling, moistening, or drying,"
concludes Pielke.

Despite these vast uncertainties, Klaus Toepfer, head of the U.N.
Environment Program, has proclaimed, "The scientific consensus presented in
this comprehensive report about human-induced climate change should sound
alarm bells in every national capital and every local community."

Adds Robert Watson, chair of the IPCC: "This adds impetus for governments of
the world to find ways to live up to their reduce emissions
in greenhouse gases." Pushing that "impetus" may be the real point of the
summary: to scare the bejesus out of skeptical politicians and the public,
the better to bring both back to the bargaining table.

Last November, the negotiations at the Hague over the Kyoto Protocol, which
sets limits on the levels of greenhouse gases that countries would be
permitted to emit by 2010-2012, collapsed. The negotiations fell apart
because the Europeans refused to go along with the sensible American point
that if one counts everything that adds carbon dioxide to the air, then one
should also count things that subtract carbon dioxide from the air, such as
forests and farms, which the U.S. has in abundance. Negotiations are slated
to resume in Bonn this May, and a few headlines about searing temperatures
by the end of the 21st century couldn't hurt the Protocol's supporters.

Perhaps the best way to think of the Kyoto Protocol is as an attempt to plan
the entire world's energy future for the next century. Just how quixotic
this is becomes obvious when you think of how such an effort would have
fared at the beginning of the 20th century. Even the smartest council of
scientists and politicians in 1900 would have been unable to project how
energy would be used today. In 1900, there were essentially no cars and no
electric lighting. Telephones were rarities and airplanes, refrigerators,
televisions, radios, and air conditioners were unknown. Virtually no one had
central heating, and computers and other electronic gadgets were not even on
the drawing board. The list of such energy-using inventions that are central
to our daily lives is nearly endless.

It is simply ludicrous to think that a 1900 version of the IPCC could have
planned our energy supplies for today. Given the relentless pace of
technological change, today's IPCC is arguably in an even worse position to
predict what the global energy mix will be 100 years from now.

But don't expect the IPCC to admit as much. "The United States is way off
meeting its targets," scolded Watson. "A country like China has done more,
in my opinion, than a country like the United States to move forward in
economic development while remaining environmentally sensitive." Say what?
China has been developing economically at a blistering pace, but breathing
the air in Shanghai is like smoking a pack of cigarettes per day--and that's
not to mention continuing deforestation and the much-loathed Three Gorges
Dam project. Perhaps more to the point, under the Kyoto Protocol, China,
like most developing countries, is not obliged to cut back on any greenhouse
gas emissions whatsoever.

"They present the summary as a consensus," says Colorado State's Pielke.
"But it's really a selective advocacy document. It's not science. They
ignore data and criticisms that don't fit their hypothesis of atmospheric

So what is really happening with global climate? The summary correctly
concludes that during the 20th century, global average temperatures have
increased by around 1 degree Fahrenheit and the sea level has risen 4 to 8
inches. Most scientists agree that the carbon dioxide emitted from the
burning of fossil fuels accounts for some, but not all, of the increase in
temperatures that has occurred in the 20th century.

And what about the future? The satellite data are telling us the results of
an ongoing global climate experiment. Projecting the satellite trends into
the future means that the world can expect about 1 degree Celsius of warming
by 2100. That's not nothing, but it's also not the sort of prediction that
conjures scare headlines.

Ronald Bailey ( is Reason Magazine's science

Copyright 2001, Reason Magazine


From ABC News, 26 January 2001

Leading Australian environmental scientists have rejected assertions the
impact of global climate change is being exaggerated in order to attract
more research dollars.

Andrew Thompson, who chairs the Commonwealth Treaties Committee
investigating the Kyoto protocol, has called for greenhouse research funding
to be halved.

Mr Thompson says the debate surrounding global warming is damaging
Australia's national interests and has suggested the Federal Government
increase spending on fossil fuel research.

However, Professor of Science and Technology at Queensland's Griffith
University Ian Lowe says politicians are ignoring environmental warnings at
their peril.

"We still don't look at the big picture," he said.

"We spend a lot of money on little cosmetic projects through things like the
National Heritage Trust.

"But the large-scale environmental problems of salinity, of rundown, of our
internal rivers, of nutrient overload, of pollution in the cities, those big
problems haven't really been addressed in any significant way."

© 2000 Australian Broadcasting Corporation


From Japan Times, 29 January 2001

Umbrella Group delays strategy session
New U.S. administration takes time to plan positioning on global warming

Staff writer

Secret talks among top environmental negotiators from the so-called Umbrella
Group of industrialized countries, originally scheduled for mid-February in
New Zealand, have been postponed until some time in the latter half of
March, informed sources said Sunday.
The sources said that the secret New Zealand meeting of Japan, the United
States and eight other non-European Union industrialized countries has been
put off to allow the new Republican administration of U.S. President George
W. Bush time to review the global warming policy of the administration of
former Democratic President Bill Clinton.

Bush formally took office on Jan. 20. The Umbrella Group comprises Japan,
the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Ukraine
and Kazakstan.

At their New Zealand meeting, the new date for which has not yet been set,
the Umbrella Group nations will try to hammer out a joint strategy toward
stalled international negotiations on ways to prevent global warming, the
sources said.

The meeting comes about four months after the failure of the sixth
Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change, or COP6, in The Hague.

After marathon all-night negotiations in late November, COP6 collapsed due
to sharp differences over details regarding the use of "sinks" and other
complex mechanisms for helping industrialized countries reduce carbon
dioxide and five other types of greenhouse gases, which are widely blamed
for global warming.

COP6 is scheduled to resume in Bonn in late May. However, the U.S., the
world's largest producer of greenhouse gases and the country that is widely
believed to hold the key to the success of COP6, said last week that it
wanted the resumption of the Bonn conference to be delayed at least until
July because it needs time to review its policy toward COP6.

Sinks are defined as active efforts to manage ecosystems through the use of
carbon dioxide-absorbing forests. But the devil is in the details, and it
remains to be seen if some 180 countries will be able to nail down the
details on those mechanisms.

The U.N. convention was signed at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
At COP3 in Kyoto at the end of 1997, the U.N. convention signatory countries
adopted the "Kyoto Protocol," which set legally binding targets for
industrialized countries to reduce their total volume of greenhouse gas
emissions by 5.2 percent from 1990 levels on average for the period from
2008 to 2012.

The protocol specifically requires Japan to slash emissions of greenhouse
gases by 6 percent, the U.S. by 7 percent, and the 15-nation EU by 8 percent
during that period.

Although the introduction of sinks and other mechanisms, including the
"emissions trading," were agreed upon at COP3, no final agreement has been
reached on the details of the mechanisms, even among industrialized

The Umbrella Group countries, which have generally similar stances on many
of the issues that have blocked agreement on the details of sinks and other
mechanisms, have pursued a unified strategy against the EU in the climate

The EU, meanwhile, wants the use of the mechanisms to be kept to a minimum
because it fears that excessive use of them would discourage industrialized
countries from making sufficient efforts at home to cut greenhouse gases.

Although Japan, Germany and many other industrialized countries -- not
including the U.S. -- want to see the Kyoto Protocol become effective by the
10th anniversary of the Earth Summit in 2002, the collapse of COP6 in The
Hague has put reaching that goal in doubt.

The protocol requires ratification by 55 signatory countries to the 1992
U.N. convention on climate change before it can take effect. But only a
dozen developing countries have so far ratified the protocol. No
industrialized country has ratified the document because of the lack of
agreement on the specifics of the sinks, emissions trading and other

The new U.S. administration of President Bush is expected to be much less
enthusiastic about COP6 than Clinton's was. Bush has even expressed a
skeptical view of the need to get the Kyoto Protocol in place, claiming
there is no solid scientific evidence of greenhouse gases causing global

The Republican-dominated U.S. Congress is also opposed to ratifying the
protocol before major developing countries, like China and India, make what
leading members describe as "meaningful participation" in efforts to cut
greenhouse gas emissions.

With only four months left before the planned resumption of COP6 in Bonn, a
flurry of environmental diplomacy is expected to be launched by many

Around mid-February, Jan Pronk, the Netherlands' environmental minister and
COP6 chairman, is expected to work out amendments to a proposal presented to
COP6 in November to try to achieve a breakthrough in negotiations, the
sources said. The amendments will be made on the basis of opinions on the
original proposal that were submitted by U.N. convention signatory countries
to the convention secretariat in Bonn by mid-January, the sources said.

At the end of March in Trieste, Italy, environmental ministers from the
Group of Eight major countries will meet, and COP6 will top their agenda.
The G-8 comprises the U.S., Canada, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan
and Russia.

In late April, the Conference on Sustainable Development, a major
environmental unit of the U.N., will hold a meeting in New York. Immediately
before or after the CSD meeting, the secretariat of the 1992 U.N. convention
on climate change is planning to convene a ministerial-level meeting of some
30 major industrialized and developing countries in New York to try and
narrow their differences over COP6, the sources said.

(C) The Japan Times


From Tech Central Station, 29 january 2001

By Lynn Scarlett, Co-host, Tech Central Station

There are two, or maybe three, major international environmental issues. One
of them is climate change

And last week, in one of its first environmental policy decisions, Bush
officials asked for a delay of the United Nation's international meeting on
climate change in Bonn originally scheduled for late May. They needed time,
they said, to put their negotiation team together.

U.N. officials have yet to agree. But tougher than putting a team together
for the administration will be to craft a coherent U.S. climate change
policy -- and successfully negotiate it on the international scene. The
international order, so far, is locked into a policy framework - called the
Kyoto protocol -- developed four years ago at the U.N. climate change
conclave in Japan. The framework is fundamentally flawed.

The protocol established greenhouse reduction goals for various nations or
regions. The U.S. target was a 7 percent reduction of greenhouse gases below
1990 levels, to be achieved by 2012. But the devilish details were left to
subsequent negotiations, and they were no minor matters.

Left undecided in the protocol was the role or obligations of developing
countries --countries like China and India with big populations, high levels
of greenhouse gas emissions, and big economic development expectations. Also
undecided was how reductions could be achieved.

Steeped in old environmentalism and preoccupied with means rather than ends,
negotiating parties are battling over the role emissions trading and
so-called carbon sequestration (reforestation, for example) might play in
reaching Kyoto Protocol goals.

If results alone mattered, this fuss over methods would be irrelevant. But
negotiations over details of the framework are larded by politics in which
hidden -- or not so hidden --agendas unrelated to environmental results

Developing countries see the protocol as another opportunity to make their
case for financial assistance -- debt relief and technology handouts. These
arguments for post-colonial era redistribution of wealth from rich to poor
perennially surface. But now the developing countries have the very well
being of the planet -- not merely rich country guilt -- to wield in their
rhetorical arsenal.

At the same time, Europe ornaments its pressure for tough targets and a
limited toolkit of greenhouse gas reduction options in high-minded language
of planetary salvation. But behind all the high mindedness lies simple
self-interest. Europe wangled a deal in the Kyoto Protocol whereby all of
Europe would face a single reduction goal. And with Germany was already
replacing old, outmoded, highly polluting factories and electricity
generating facilities in the former communist East Germany, those
investments would bring all of Europe within the Kyoto Protocol reduction
targets. Restricting U.S. options for reducing its greenhouse gases would
corner the United States into higher-cost compliance alternatives, finally
allowing Europe a way to rein in the global economy's economic gazelle.

Enter Team Bush.

Former President Clinton signed the Kyoto Protocol, but the U.S. Senate has
not ratified it. Bush himself flatly opposed the protocol as a bad deal
during his campaign. And the Senate, in a near unanimous vote, indicated it
would not ratify the protocol unless developing countries were involved and
emissions trading, carbon sequestration, and other cost-lowering options
were permitted. To their credit, Clinton's negotiators pressed hard for
these options.

But all this haggling over the details of the protocol skirts a more
fundamental question. Is the Kyoto Protocol, which creates a regulatory
framework with specific reduction targets for some greenhouse gasses, good

Extreme skeptics of climate-change theory denounce the protocol for taking
aim at what they view as a nonexistent problem. Given growing scientific
evidence that some warming may be underway (though disputes remain over
whether this warming lies within naturally fluctuating ranges), the critique
by extreme skeptics misses the mark.

But there are two other reasons for rejecting the protocol, and they center
on environmental results.

First, even many of its champions view the protocol as ineffectual in terms
of reversing possible climate change. Economist Robert Repetto, supporting
the protocol, has, nonetheless said, "Nobody thought in their wildest dreams
that Kyoto would solve the climate problem." Its main effect, opines
Repetto, would be "to get nations off a business-as-usual trajectory."
Symbolism is a poor excuse for urging potentially costly policies.

The second reason for rejecting the Kyoto Protocol framework is a more
fundamental one. From the outset, discussions about climate change have
swirled in uncertainties. Understanding how and why global climate patterns
change involves multiple, complex variables.

Headlines proclaim consensus: "Scientists Say Warming Is Real." But this is
not the whole story. Those same consenting scientists have also said they
can't pinpoint causation; they don't know how changes in temperature will
affect cloud formation, radiation, and the role of clouds on precipitation;
they don't understand fully the role of oceans or, even, land processes, on

The much-ballyhooed consensus, it turns out, is slim, and uncertainties
dwarf what is known.

The real policy challenge, then, is what's a decision-maker to do in the
face of uncertainty -- uncertainty about both effects and causes. Such
uncertainty heightens the prospect that policy architects will target the
wrong variable, or they will target the right variable with the wrong tools.

Early on in the climate change debate, this conundrum did shape debates.
Arguments for "no regrets" policies -- policies that carried other
pollution-reduction benefits but would also bring reductions in greenhouse
gasses -- got some hearing. It's time for Team Bush to resurrect that

There are actions the United States might prudently take to reduce
greenhouse gasses, but they do not center on rates, dates, targets, and
treaties. Technology scholar Jesse Ausubel has shown that "the United States
has averaged about 1 percent less energy to produce a good or service each
year since about 1800." And, he says, there is lots of room for this
trajectory to continue.

Ausubel has also shown that our energy production has shed its carbon
content -- "decarbonized" as he calls it -- at a rate of 0.3 percent per
year. "Plentiful natural gas, efficient turbines and thrifty end-use devises
promise more energy delivered with less carbon during the next decades," he
writes." He then concludes: "During the next 100 years, the human economy
will clear most of the carbon from its system and move, via natural gas, to
a hydrogen metabolism."

These observations point the way to a no-regrets policy. A good place to
start is with policies that facilitate equipment turnover. This means
changes in regulatory permitting that now tend to lock companies into
technologies for a long time. It may mean changes in tax depreciation
schedules. It may mean treating pollution-prevention investments the same as
pollution-control investments. In a more aggressive mode, it may mean
further stimulating R&D in energy efficiency. And it could mean promoting
more emission trading for all kinds of pollutants.

The international haggling about the Kyoto Protocol is absorbing much time
and a lot of political capital. But most of the haggling is really over who
will be punished and who will garner financial goodies. A no-regrets
framework turns the discussion back where it should be -- on environmental

Copyright 2001, Tech Central Station


A discussion of some options for dealing with climate change & climate

By Jon Richfield

First things first: I am fully aware that the suggestions in this note are
not half-baked (yet), that they deal with vast and possibly unmanageably
complex systems, whose current behaviour has not been soundly characterised,
and that even the available data are nothing like satisfactory as yet.

So why don't I just shut up?

I don't do shutting up. Not so's you'd notice, anyway.

Besides, I regard hubris as one of Humanity's signal virtues and I do not
think that Humanity's global problems, whether anthropogenic or
adventitious, will be satisfactorily resolved without Humanity's energetic
and active contribution.

And if questions and suggestions always must wait till everything were
resolved, there would no need for questions and suggestions, would there?

And OK, the world would be a quieter place.  So, all right, blame me; blame,
blame, blame!

Good, now we have that done, let's get back to the hopefully not so real

We live on a planet on which temperature and heat supply are crucial and are
delicately, even precariously, balanced. Everyone in this list will know
that a one percent change in our solar flux could have drastic effects on
the entire planetary ecology and climate; favourable effects in some places,
disastrous elsewhere. Earth has spent some four or five billion years
alternately freezing, sweating and dithering, and our climatic fundis or
would-be fundis have spent decades panicking about or pooh-poohing
predictions of imminent ages of fire or ice, drought or drowning.  Facile
catastrophists and uniformitarian zealots have perished on the battlegrounds
of prehistoric weather and climate, their explanations, their implications
for our future, if any, and the significance of putative human contributions
to potential climatic change.

But to me that is all backdrop. I hold no brief for most views on the
subject, except to agree that it is very, very important. My point here is
far more limited. As Twain said, everyone is always talking about the
weather, but no one does anything about it. Maybe it is time to change that,
and not merely by driving gas guzzlers.




From S. Fred Singer <>

Dear Benny

Weiss and Bradley forgot to mention the well-documented collapse of the
Viking society in Greenland at the onset of the post-medieval Little Ice

Could this be because, in another publication, Bradley (with Mann and
Hughes) argues that the Medieval Climate Optimum and subsequent cooling
never really happened ?  This argument supports their claim that the 20th
century was the warmest in 1000 years.

In turn, this widely-contested claim forms one of the pillars of the
recently-publicized IPCC conclusion about  human-caused global warming.

Best wishes,



From Richard Courtney <>

Dear Sir:

The research by Weiss and Bradley also omits the Santorini eruption. The
volcano itself destroyed the heart of Minoan civilisation, and it forced
survivors to move and take their culture and technologies to regions of
Greece and Egypt. Climatic effects of the eruption disrupted activities
around the world, but the destruction of Santorini was itself the end of
Minoan civilisation and the trigger for new developments elsewhere.

I agree that climatic changes have been very important causes for societal
changes and, therefore, have been a major source of civilisation development
and change. But they are not the only cause. Natural disasters are the other
major cause.

Climate affects civilisation directly by
(i)  controlling the nature and productivity of available agriculture and
(ii)  providing - or inhibiting - the nature and prevalence of disease.

And climate affects civilisation indirectly by limiting available forms of
leisure: only leisured classes have time to invent, debate, paint, etc..

Changes to climate change civilisation. But other natural effects such as
volcanism and severe storms also have effects that can vary from being
inconvenient to catastrophic for a civilisation.

It has been fashionable to consider human history to be the results of the
actions of people;  especially individuals (e.g. Alexander, Genghis Khan,
Buddha, Marx, Hitler, etc.). Such actions are important, but they occur
within a technological and economic framework that is governed by
environmental factors. Natural disasters or climate conditions that destroy
crops can force people to maraud (e.g. Mongol expansion that lead to the
largest empire the world had then known) or regroup (e.g.  the sixth century
Plague whose legacy induced the unification of England).

Many people today want to think that human beings govern everything that
happens in the world;  even climate. We don't. Individuals have made great
effect on human history. But people have always operated within a natural
order that is still beyond  human control (as survivors in Gujarat can today
testify through their tears).

All the best



From The New York Times, 29 January 2001



NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - If predictions of global warming hold true,
increases in violent crime and bloodshed may accompany rising temperatures,
a US researcher said Monday.

Even an increase of 2 degrees Fahrenheit may result in an additional 24,000
murders and assaults in the US alone, Dr. Craig A. Anderson, a psychologist
at Iowa State University, told Reuters Health.

Anderson's predictions are based on what scientists call the "heat effect,"
which is the observation of higher rates of aggression by people who are
hot, relative to people who are cooler.

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