"This distinguished workgroup has concluded that the IPCC's findings
about human influence on the climate are not supported by the underlying
science. Reducing the uncertainties that now limit our understanding
of the climate system will require a significant shift in the way climate
research is carried out and a commitment to building better models."
--William O'Keefe, George C. Marshall Institute

"The pessimists argue that Lomborg's good news might lead to
complacency. But Ehrlich's counsel of despair is far more dangerous.
Many people now work to improve the environment at a local level
with optimism that they can make the world a better place. To be
constantly told by the big pressure groups that all is doom and gloom is no
help. There is something rotten in the state of environmentalism. It lies
not just in the petty factual dishonesty that is rife within the movement
but in the very philosophy that lies at the heart of greenery: the
belief in constraint and retreat."
--Matt Ridley, The Spectator

Andrew Yee < >

CO2 Science Magazine, 6 March 2002

CO2 Science Magazine, 6 March 2002

European Science and Environment Forum, 25 February 2002

Health Facts and Fears, 27 February 2002

S. Fred Singer < >

From Reuters, 27 February 2002

The Spectator, 23 February 2002


>From Andrew Yee < >

Brookhaven National Laboratory

For more information, contact:
Karen McNulty Walsh, 631 344-8350,
Mona S. Rowe, 631 344-5056,

February 28, 2002


Atmospheric Aerosols Found to Brighten Clouds

Higher reflectivity may result in global cooling, partially offsetting
greenhouse effect

UPTON, NY -- Atmospheric scientists have long suspected that microscopic
aerosol particles from industrial processes increase the brightness of
clouds, resulting in greater reflection of sunlight and cooling of Earth's
climate. However, this supposition is based on model calculations rather
than observations, and these model calculations are very uncertain.

Now, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National
Laboratory and Purdue University have combined satellite measurements of
cloud brightness, water content, and other variables with model calculations
of atmospheric aerosols to demonstrate the brightening
effect. This effect, described in the February 19, 2002 issue of the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, should be accounted for in
assessing the magnitude of global climate change, the researchers say.

"We're not saying that aerosols can counteract the greenhouse effect," said
lead scientist Stephen Schwartz, an atmospheric chemist at Brookhaven, "but
rather that we need to know how much of a cooling effect they have so we
have a clearer picture of the greenhouse effect. To whatever extent aerosols
are offsetting greenhouse warming, then the offset is the unseen part of the
greenhouse 'iceberg,'" he said.

One difficulty in measuring the effect of aerosols is knowing their
concentration. Aerosols such as sulfur compounds result from emissions by
fossil-fuel-burning power plants and other industrial processes. They are
typically found in the lowest three to four kilometers above
Earth's surface and precipitate out of the atmosphere, typically in about a
week. "Because of this short residence time, aerosols are highly variable as
a function of location and time, which makes it tough to measure their
concentrations on a global scale," Schwartz said.

Schwartz's team has been working for more than a decade to develop and
refine a "chemical transport model" to calculate aerosol distribution. The
model uses archived weather data and weather prediction models to track the
distribution of aerosols from industrial sources to various parts of the
atmosphere. "This model is the key to knowing where and when to look for the
aerosol effect," Schwartz said.

By analyzing data from the model, the Brookhaven-Purdue team identified two
one-week episodes during April 1987 when the modeled concentration of
sulfate aerosol over the North Atlantic Ocean -- far from any local sources
of aerosol emissions -- increased significantly and then decreased over the
course of each week. These large variations in aerosol concentration and the
fact that there were no high-atmosphere (obscuring) clouds during these
events made them ideal episodes for studying the effect of aerosols on cloud

The next challenge was to get the data on cloud brightness for that area
over the same time period. For this, the scientists retrieved satellite
measurements of radiance (how much light the clouds reflect) and optical
depth (a value related to how much light is transmitted through the cloud),
and used these measurements to calculate the size of the cloud droplets and
the liquid water path (the amount of liquid water in the cloud). They were
also able to analyze how these variables were related to one another.

The findings show that, for a given liquid water path, cloud reflectivity
was indeed higher on the days with higher aerosol content than on the days
with lower aerosol levels. "If the effect
is as widespread as we think it is, it would produce quite a substantial
cooling effect on climate," Schwartz said. "This new study," he added,
"provides a method of quantifying the phenomenon globally over the past 15
years using archived satellite data. Once this is done, we will have a much
better idea of the true magnitude of the greehnouse effect."

Could aerosols be deliberately employed to offset the greehnouse effect?
"This is an attractive thought," Schwartz said, "but it cannot work in the
long run -- because aerosols are so short-lived in the atmosphere, whereas
greenhouse gases accumulate over time. An ever increasing amount of aerosols
would be required. We'd never solve the long-term problem."

Also, says Schwartz, the aerosol effect may have a different geographical
distribution from the greenhouse effect, and "the consequence of this
mismatch is unknown." One key to assessing the overall impact of aerosols,
he said, will be further development of the satellite-based measurements.

This work was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, which supports basic
research in a variety of scientific fields, and the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration (NASA).

The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts
research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as
in energy technologies. Brookhaven also builds and operates major facilities
available to university, industrial, and government scientists. The
Laboratory is managed by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited liability
company founded by Stony Brook University and Battelle, a nonprofit applied
science and technology organization.

Note to local editors:

Stephen Schwartz lives in Center Moriches, New York.

[NOTE: Images supporting this release are available at ]


>From CO2 Science Magazine, 6 March 2002

Just as marine phytoplankton exposed to rising temperatures typically
release greater quantities of gases to the atmosphere that lead to the
production of particles that function as cloud condensation nuclei and
create more and brighter clouds that reflect away more incoming solar
radiation and thereby reverse, stop or slow the warming that initiated this
ingenious negative feedback phenomenon [see Aerosols (Biological - Aquatic)
in our Subject Index], so too do terrestrial plants posses this and other
like abilities. And they express them!

In a study of the air above a Eucalyptus forest in Portugal, for example,
Kavouras et al. (1998) determined there were biologically-produced gases
being converted to particles that could function as cloud condensation
nuclei. In fact, aerosols produced from two particular organic acids (cis-
and trans-pinonic acid) comprised as much as 40% of the fine-particle
atmospheric mass during daytime hours.

This finding reveals a direct connection between the daytime
(photosynthetic) activity of trees and the propensity for the atmosphere to
produce clouds. What is more, since elevated levels of atmospheric CO2
promote higher rates of photosynthesis in essentially all trees (see Trees
in our Subject Index), it can be appreciated that increases in the air's CO2
content provide, via this mechanism, their own biological brake upon
whatever extra degree of greenhouse warming they might produce.

In another paper related to this subject, Kuhn and Kesselmeier (2000)
collected samples of a lichen growing in an open oak woodland in central
California, USA, after which they studied the lichen's uptake of carbonyl
sulfide (COS) in a dynamic cuvette system under controlled conditions in the
laboratory. When the lichen was optimally hydrated, they observed it to
absorb COS from the atmosphere at a rate that gradually doubled as air
temperature rose from 3 to 25C, whereupon the COS absorption rate declined
dramatically, falling to a value of zero at 35C.

What is the significance of this finding? First of all, COS is the most
abundant and stable reduced sulfur gas in the atmosphere, which makes it a
major player in determining earth's radiation budget. After making its way
into the stratosphere, for example, it can be photo-dissociated, as well as
oxidized, to form SO2, which is typically converted to sulfate aerosol
particles that are highly reflective of incoming solar radiation and have
the capacity to significantly cool the earth as more and more of them
collect above the tropopause. Hence, it can be appreciated that once
near-surface air temperature rises above 25C, the rate of removal of COS
from the air by this particular species of lichen declines dramatically,
allowing more COS to remain in the air, which increases the potential for
more COS to make its way into the stratosphere, where it can be converted
into sulfate aerosol particles that can reflect more incoming solar
radiation back to space and thereby cool the earth when air temperatures
near its surface reach a level that could threaten the health of plants.

Also important in this regard is the fact that consumption of COS by lichens
is under the physiological control of carbonic anhydrase, which is the key
enzyme for COS uptake in all higher plants, algae and soil organisms. This
being the case, we could expect this negative feedback phenomenon to be
generally operative over much of the earth. As a result, the planet's
biological "thermostat" may well be powerful enough to define a firm upper
limit above which the near-surface air temperature of the globe may not
rise, even when changes in other forcing factors, such as greenhouse gases,
produce an impetus for it to do so.

Kavouras, I.G., Mihalopoulos, N. and Stephanou, E.G. 1998. Formation of
atmospheric particles from organic acids produced by forests. Nature 395:

Kuhn, U. and Kesselmeier, J. 2000. Environmental variables controlling the
uptake of carbonyl sulfide by lichens. Journal of Geophysical Research 105:

Copyright 2002. Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change


>From CO2 Science Magazine, 6 March 2002

Recent Coral Mortality Associated with Bleaching: Is It Caused by High
Temperature or Disease? ... or Both?

Near the conclusion of the 1997-98 El Nio (October 1998), Harvell et al.
(2001) documented various aspects of the health of Briareum asbestinum
corals at Carysfort, Sand Key and Western Dry Rocks in the Florida Keys,
USA, finding that (1) between 75 and 90% of the B. asbestinum colonies at
the three locations were bleached and that (2) necroses were present on a
very high percentage of the bleached colonies. At their return ten weeks
later (January 1999), the contemporaneous bleaching and epizootic episodes
had both ended, after having produced a mean mortality across all sites of
approximately 68%. Of the bleached colonies that survived, most had
regained their pigments, while signs of prior necroses - which previously
had been visible on bleached colonies only - were, in the words of the
authors, "virtually undetectable."

Without the careful detective work of the marine scientists - which led to
the discovery that a certain cyanobacterium was associated with all diseased
coral tissues - the Briareum epizootic may well have been considered just
another example of bleaching-related mortality. But as a result of their
key discovery, as well as a number of other things gleaned from their
analyses of ancillary evidence, they felt confident in declaring the
Briareum mortality to be a consequence of the disease agent. "By any
measure," they wrote, "this was a significant epizootic that would have gone
undetected or been attributed to bleaching stress in the absence of our
evaluation of the role of an infectious disease." In fact, they actually
went so far as to suggest that "the high levels of coral mortality
throughout the world's tropical oceans, previously attributed to bleaching,
may be facilitated or accelerated by opportunistic diseases infecting
stressed hosts."

Harvell et al.'s findings are not unusual, nor are their conclusions
unrealistic; for there is ample evidence of many disease agents having
stepped up their attacks upon corals in recent years. As examples, they
cite white band disease, which has almost eradicated Acropora palmate and A.
cervicornis from the Caribbean (McClanahan and Muthiga, 1998), yellow blotch
disease, which has been raising havoc with Montastrea faveolata in the
Caribbean (Santavy et al., 1999), white plague, which is negatively
impacting several scleractinian species of coral in the Florida Keys
(Richardson et al., 1998), and Aspergillus sydowii, which has decimated many
Caribbean sea fan corals (Nagelkerken et al., 1997). Thus, it is easy to
understand why Harvell et al. say that "projections for damage due to
bleaching have not taken into account the likelihood that some of the
impacts ascribed to bleaching are actually caused by stress-facilitated
disease outbreaks."

At the same time, however, Harvell et al. readily admit that "it seems a
reasonable hypothesis that bleaching and temperature-related stress will
predispose corals and other tropical reef organisms to opportunistic
infections." Indeed, there are many such disease agents that have always
lurked in the background, waiting for just the right set of conditions to
step forward and play the role of ecosystem spoiler; and they seem to have
raised the level of their attacks upon corals to a whole new level of
intensity in recent years. Consequently, making the link between
temperature-induced bleaching and the resulting stress that likely lowers
coral resistance to disease is not unreasonable, especially in light of the
climate-alarmist claim that the past two decades have experienced a degree
of warming that is "unprecedented" in the past millennium.

In this regard, however, we note that (1) it was probably warmer than it is
currently during the first few centuries of the past millennium (see
Medieval Warm Period in our Subject Index), that (2) it was certainly warmer
than it is currently during the several-thousand-year period of the
mid-Holocene (see Earth's Climatic History: The Last 10,000 Years in our
Subject Index), and that (3) it was also clearly warmer than it is now
during most of all four of the prior ten-thousand-year interglacials (see
our Journal Review Nearly Half a Million Years of Climate and CO2). Yet in
spite of these several lengthy periods of greater-than-present warmth,
paleoecological studies of life and death assemblages of corals in the most
coral-disease-affected part of the world indicate that the current coral
distress there is unprecedented over this entire period of time (see our
Journal Reviews The Distant Past is a Key to the Recent Past and Getting the
Baseline Right, as well as our Editorial of 12 September 2001: Health Status
of the World's Coral Reefs).

These many observations suggest to us that something other than global
warming must be predisposing corals to succumb to opportunistic
temperature-related infections that have always been present but have never
been able to do the severe and widespread damage they have done recently
until recently. And we can only conclude that that something else is man
and his host of direct deleterious influences on coral reef ecosystems, as
described in our Editorial of 19 September 2001: Human-Induced Destruction
of Coral Reefs and Other Coastal Ecosystems.

The ever-present potential for disease cannot account for what we have
witnessed over the past two decades in the way of coral devastation, for
that potential has always existed. The purported warmth of the past two
decades cannot account for it either, for the even greater periodic warmth
of the more distant past was clearly tolerated by the several coral species
now being decimated. Hence, the only viable explanation that can reasonably
be advanced is that the proximal activities of man have risen to such a high
level of intensity, and have so weakened the resiliency of the planet's
corals, that the combined net effect of the other two phenomena, i.e., the
high-temperature-enhanced spread of coral diseases, is now able to do what
it never could do before, i.e., produce the unprecedented damage of the past
two decades.

Clearly, if we are truly serious about saving the planet's coral reef
ecosystems, we will concentrate on the pivotal elements that we definitely
have the capacity to control and which can, without question, make a real
difference in the quest to save the planet's corals: our numerous local
activities that directly influence the local physical and chemical
characteristics of individual coral reef environments.

Dr. Sherwood B. Idso
Dr. Keith E. Idso

Harvell, D., Kim, K., Quirolo, C., Weir, J. and Smith, G. 2001. Coral
bleaching and disease: Contributors to 1998 mass mortality in Briareum
asbestinum (Octocorallia, Gorgonacea). Hydrobiologia 460: 97-104.

McClanahan, T.R. and Muthiga, N.A. 1998. An ecological shift in a remote
coral atoll of Belize over 25 years. Environmental Conservation 25:

Nagelkerken, I., Buchan, K., Smith, G.W., Bonair, K., Bush, P.,
Garzon-Ferreira, J., Botero, L., Gayle, P., Harvell, C.D., Heberer, C., Kim,
K., Petrovic, C., Pors, L. and Yoshioka, P. 1997. Widespread disease in
Caribbean sea fans: II. Patterns of infection and tissue loss. Marine
Ecology Progress Series 160: 255-263.

Richardson, L.L., Goldberg, W.M., Kuta, K.G., Aronson, R.B., Smith, G.W.,
Ritchie, K.B., Halas, J.C., Feingold, J.S. and Miller, S.L. 1998.
Florida's mystery coral-killer identified. Nature 392: 557-558.

Santavy, D.L., Peters, E.C., Quirolo, C., Porter, J.W. and Bianchi, C.N.
1999. Yellow-blotch disease outbreak on reefs of the San Blas Islands,
Panama. Coral Reefs 18: 97pp.

Copyright 2002. Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change


>From European Science and Environment Forum, 25 February 2002

Embargo 00:01 hours, 25 February 2002

Climate Science and Policy: Making the Connection

Cambridge, February 25th 2002. ESEF today will release a comprehensive
analysis of the state of climate science based on the work of a group of
science and policy experts convened by the American George C. Marshall
Institute. As the US Government moves closer to final policy recommendations
on climate change, this ESEF study offers science policy recommendations to
improve the relevance and value of climate science research.

The study, Climate Change and Policy: Making the Connection, is the result
of an extensive review by a distinguished group of scientists and public
policy experts of the science behind recent findings of the United Nations
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
(see document at

Former Secretary of Defence and Energy, James Schlesinger and Robert
Sproull, Emeritus President of the University of Rochester, chaired
workgroup discussions and Dr Lenny Bernstein, a Lead Author for the IPCC's
recent Third Assessment Report, used the information gathered to prepare the
Institute report. Other participants were:

Albert Arking, Johns Hopkins University
Richard Lindzen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Richard Cooper, Harvard University
Rodney Nichols, President, New York Academy of Sciences
Will Happer, Princeton University
William O'Keefe, President, George C. Marshall Institute
David Legates, University of Delaware
Roger Sedjo, Resources for the Future

"This distinguished workgroup has concluded that the IPCC's findings about
human influence on the climate are not supported by the underlying science,"
said Marshall Institute President William O'Keefe. "Reducing the
uncertainties that now limit our understanding of the climate system will
require a significant shift in the way climate research is carried out and a
commitment to building better models."

Philip Stott, Emeritus Professor of Biogeography in the University of
London, concurs: "In the UK, it is a media myth that there are only a few
scientists who disagree with the view of 'global warming' on which the Kyoto
Protocol is predicated. This new booklet, compiled by some of the finest
climate scientists and economists, undermines this comfortable conceit.
Stressing anew the total uncertainty of climate change science, the authors
challenge the key antinomy at the heart of Kyoto - namely that climate is
one of the most complex systems known, yet we claim we can manage it by
trying to control a small set of factors, namely greenhouse gas emissions.
The dangers of such a viewpoint for public policy are made abundantly

Based on a detailed analysis of the actual IPCC process, this study
concludes that IPCC projections of climate change are based on inadequate
models and assumptions about the future that are unknown. Current models do
not adequately characterize clouds, water vapour, aerosols, ocean currents
and solar effects. They also fail to reproduce the difference in trends
between the lower troposphere and surface temperatures over the past 20
years - a difference the National Academy of Sciences found to be real and
inconsistent with the prevailing global warming theory.

The study recommends making collection and analysis of all critical data an
operational responsibility of a specific government agency, not the
by-product of research with other objectives that are subject to change in
direction. A cost-effective programme requires a comprehensive strategy,
priority focused research, measures of progress, improved, improved
scientific assessments and improved stewardship and oversight.

The study recognises that no climate research programme, no matter how well
designed and funded, will provide all the answers policymakers need in the
short term. Uncertainty - about greenhouse gas emission rates, the effect of
changes in greenhouse gas concentrations and the impact of climate changes
on humans and the environment - is unavoidable. However, it is possible to
identify economically defensible short- and mid-range strategies to address
climate change risk in the face of long-term uncertainties

ESEF, a Cambridge-based science and policy think-tank, focuses on clearly
communicating scientific facts on major public policy matters while
challenging the misuse of science in the policy debate. It has been involved
in the science of global warming for over six years. ESEF thanks the
International Policy Network for supporting the publication of this report.

Contact information

Philip Stott, Emeritus Professor of Biogeography in the University of London
Telephone: 01474 535882; Fax: 01474 323133
William O'Keefe, President, George C. Marshall Institute, Washington DC
Telephone: (001)(202) 296-9655; Fax: (001)(202) 296-9714
e-mail: ; web:
Lorraine Mooney, ESEF Telephone: 01223 264643; Fax: 01223 264645
email: web:

Climate Science and Policy: Making the Connection is available from ESEF, 4
Church Lane, Barton, Cambridge, CB3 7BE, UK for the price of 5 including
postage and packing. 01223 264-643, Fax: 01223 264-645

ESEF is a Charitable Company Limited by Guarantee. Company number: 3275771;
Charity Number: 1969751


>From Health Facts and Fears, 27 February 2002

By Bernard L. Cohen

My favorite way of putting risks into perspective is to consider the average
loss of life expectancy they cause, LLE (indicated in parentheses throughout
this article). I present here a brief catalog of these, taken from my paper
published in the September 1991 issue of Health Physics Journal.

Historically, diseases were one of the most important causes of life
shortening, but now only heart disease (4.4 years), cancer (3.4 years), and
stroke (250 days) cause LLE of more than six months. Aside from diseases,
the principal direct causes of death are accidents (366 days), suicide (115
days), and homicide (93 days). Over half of all accident deaths are due to
motor vehicles, and half of these are alcohol related. The most important
other type of accidents are falls (28 days), suffocation (28 days), drowning
(24 days), poison (20 days), and fires (20 days). From the standpoint of
fatal occupational accidents, the most dangerous industries are construction
(227 days) and mining (167 days); much safer are services (27 days), trade
(27 days), and manufacturing (40 days).

Perhaps the best known risky behavior is smoking cigarettes (6.6 years for
men, 3.9 years for women). Even more dangerous is being an alcoholic (12
years). Over-eating gives an LLE of about 36 days per pound, or one year for
each 10 pounds overweight; being 20% overweight increases the fatality risk
of heart disease by 29%, of cancer by 10%, of stroke by 15%, and of diabetes
by 130%.

Having very poor, vs. very good, social connections correlates with LLE of 9
years. As one manifestation of this, remaining single rather than married
has LLE of 5 years.

One of the greatest risks to an individual is living in poverty, LLE = 9
years for 19 large U.S. cities and for Montreal. In Britain, the difference
in life expectancy between professional people and unskilled laborers is 7.2
years, and in Finland it is also 7.2 years. When Canadian men are ranked by
income, those in the 90th percentile live 6 years longer than those in the
10th percentile. The latter have a higher mortality rate by 32% for heart
disease and stroke, by 34% for cancer, and by 88% for accidents, poison, and
violence. On an international scale, poverty plays a much bigger role - life
expectancy is typically 30 years longer in well-to-do countries than in poor

Life expectancy varies substantially with occupation. Post office employees,
university professors, and workers in clothing manufacturing and in
communications industries live 1-2 years longer than average, and miners,
policemen, firemen, truck drivers, and fishermen die 2-3 years younger than
average. But the most dangerous job is no job at all - unemployment. A 1%
increase in national unemployment results in 37,000 deaths per year (plus
4200 admissions to mental hospitals and 3300 admissions to prisons).

If you believe the most dire warnings of environmental activists, you might
add several other threats, though they would still be small compared to many
of the problems listed above: air pollution (40 days), drinking water
pollution (20 days), chemical residues in food (20 days), and chemicals
released from consumer products (20 days). Media give wide publicity to
cancer causing pollutants. Some of these are pesticide residues in food (12
days), tobacco smoke (8 days), other indoor pollutants (2 days), industrial
air pollution (4 days), hazardous waste sites (2.5 days), drinking water
contaminants (1.3 days), and all radioactivity releases from nuclear power
including accidents (0.04 days). Note that nuclear power is an insignificant
contributor to radiation exposure compared to radon in homes (25 days),
other natural sources of radiation (10 days), and medical exposures (10

Broiling meat produces carcinogens (0.1 day) and we produce similar
carcinogens in bread crusts, toast, and fried potatoes. But everything man
does, purposely or through pollution, is trivial in comparison with nature's
contribution. All plants contain toxic chemicals to protect them from their
natural enemies. Many of these chemicals can cause cancer, like nitrosamines
in beets, celery, and lettuce; aflatoxin in peanuts, corn, and milk;
sterigmatocystin in salami, ham, and wheat; hydrazines in mushrooms; allyl
isothiocyanate in mustard, broccoli, and cabbage; safrole in pepper; tannins
in coffee, tea, and wines; psoralens in celery and parsley; ethyl carbamate
in bread, yogurt, beer, and wine; formaldehyde in fruits; benzene in eggs;
methylene chloride in fats; coumarin in candy; diacetyl in coffee and
butter; and flavonoids in fruits and vegetables. These are nature's
pesticides, and per quantity ingested, they are typically as carcinogenic as
man-made pesticides. But we eat 10,000 times as much of nature's pesticides
as of man-made ones.

Natural catastrophes in the U.S. give the following relatively small LLE:
hurricanes and tornadoes - 1.1 days; lightning - 0.7 day; storms and floods
- 0.9 day, earthquakes and volcanoes - 0.2 day, heat waves - 0.7 day, cold
waves - 2.1 days. Some similarly low risks are venomous plants and animals -
0.5 day (half from bee stings, and only 15% from snakes, lizards, and
spiders) and dog bites - 0.12 day.

Historically, the great killers have been pestilence, war, and famine, with
war often causing the other two. The best known pestilence epidemics have
been the "Plague of Justinian" in AD 500-650 which killed 100 million, the
"Black Death" in 1347-1351 which killed 75 million in Europe plus perhaps
more than that in Asia, various diseases among American Indians due to
contact with Europeans after 1492 that killed untold millions (a large
fraction of the Indian population), and the influenza epidemic of 1918-1919
which killed 20-50 million including a half million in U.S. AIDS is killing
12,000 Americans per year (LLE - 55 days for the average American).
Fortunately, it does not spread through such efficient channels as coughing
or food, but we have no guarantee against development of a new, equally
powerful virus that does spread efficiently. And the best-understood natural
disaster that could wipe out nearly all of mankind is the impact on the
Earth of a large asteroid, expected once in a million years.

To help put some of the risks we have described (plus others) into
perspective, a bar graph is attached in which the length of the bars gives
the LLE. Asterisks (*) refer to effects averaged over the entire population,
while those without asterisks refer just to people involved in the activity.
The largest risks are shown at the top: alcohol, poverty, smoking, poor
social connections, heart disease, and cancer each take years off a person's
life expectancy. The smallest risk in that left section (the smallest of the
large risks), motor vehicle accidents, is also shown as the largest risk in
the middle group for which bar lengths have been multiplied by 20. This
middle group consists mostly of risks widely recognized but not greatly
feared. The smallest risk in this middle group, bicycles (the most dangerous
transport per mile traveled), is also shown as the largest bar in the bottom
group, for which bar heights have been multiplied by another factor of 50, a
total factor of (20 x 50 =) 1000 over the high risk group.

In a rational society, the low risks shown in the bottom group should
receive little consideration, but the public's attention is determined more
by media coverage than by results of scientific risk analysis. The most
glaring example of this is nuclear power, which is widely perceived by the
public as being dangerous. We see from the bar diagrams that its perceived
risk is a thousand times inflated. Few people take the time to rank risks

see graph at:

Copyright 1997-2002 American Council on Science and Health



>From S. Fred Singer < >

Dear Benny

Mark Meier is a reputable and careful researcher and maybe it's good that he
throws "cold water" on the IPCC estimates of future sea level rise as being
too low. It will be interesting to see how the IPCC responds to this attack
on their competence.

My disagreement with Meier is threefold:

1. Many of the large glaciers around the world stopped shrinking around 1940
when temperatures stopped warming -- and they HAVE NOT resumed shrinking
since 1980. I had a chance to mention this to Meier recently but don't
recall his reply.

2. Antarctic ice sheets are certainly melting and have done so for about
18,000 years (since the LGM); but one would not expect this process to be
uniform on a decadal time scale.

3. During the strong warming episode of 1920-40, SL rise did NOT accelerate
but actually stopped rising. [See e.g. my book Hot Talk Cold Science pp.
18-19, and references]

Best Fred


>From Reuters, 27 February 2002

Environmental Skeptic New Danish Green Group Chief

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - A man who believes global warming is a minor affair
has been named to head a new Danish independent environmental institute.

The appointment of Bjorn Lomborg, author of the controversial book "The
Skeptical Environmentalist," as director of the Institute for Environmental
Valuation has enraged local environmentalists and invited criticism from
opponents abroad. The 37-year-old Aarhus University statistician's book
earned the enmity of the green movement for contending there is no
environmental crisis when it was published in English by Cambridge
University Press last August.

"The Skeptical Environmentalist" argues that forests are hardly declining,
few animal species have gone extinct lately, rivers and oceans are becoming
cleaner, we will not run out of raw materials, energy and fresh water and
that global warning will be so minor it will be cheaper just to adapt to it.

Most of the book's contentions contradict the conclusions of a host of
prominent scientists, who were astonished the book had even been published

Copyright 2002, Reuters


>From The Spectator, 23 February 2002

Matt Ridley celebrates Bjorn Lomborg, the environmentalist brave enough to
tell the truth - that the end is not nigh

At the Christmas cabaret in the politics department of Aarhus University in
Denmark last year, the cast members joined together at the end to sing a
song about one of the associate professors. 'Bjorn, when will you come
back?' went the refrain. 'Don't just get lost out in the world.' (It was
better in Danish.)

Bjorn Lomborg - young, blond, piano-playing, but basically a statistics nerd
- may not be back soon. He has just succeeded Monsanto as the official chief
villain of the world environmental movement. In January Scientific American
devoted 11 pages to an unattractive attempt to attack his work. He had a pie
thrown in his face when he spoke in Oxford last September.

The great and the good of greendom are competing to find epithets for him:
'Wilful ignorance, selective quotations, destructive campaigning,' says E.O.
Wilson, guru of biodiversity. 'Lacks even a preliminary understanding of the
science in question,' says Norman Myers, guru of extinction. His book is
'nothing more than a diatribe', says Lester Brown, serial predictor of
imminent global famine. Stephen Schneider, high priest of global warming,
even berates Cambridge University Press for publishing it.

What can this mild statistician have said to annoy these great men so? In
1996 he published an obscure but brilliant article on game theory, which
earned him an invitation to a conference on 'computable economics' in Los
Angeles (and an offer of a job at the University of California). While
browsing in a bookshop there he came across a profile in Wired magazine of
the late Julian Simon, an economist, who claimed, with graphs, that on most
measures the environment was improving, not getting worse. Irritated,
Lomborg went back to Denmark and set his students the exercise of finding
the flaw in Simon's statistics.

They could find none. So Lomborg wrote The Skeptical Environmentalist, which
not only endorses most of Simon's claims, but also goes further, providing
an immense compendium of factual evidence that the litany of environmental
gloom we hear is mostly either exaggerated (species extinction, global
warming) or wrong (population, air and water pollution, natural resources,
food and hunger, health and life-expectancy, waste, forest loss).

You might think that environmentalists would welcome such news. Having
argued that we should find a way to live sustainably on the planet, they
ought to be pleased that population growth is falling faster (in percentage
and absolute terms) than anybody predicted even ten years ago; that
per-capita food production is rising rapidly, even in the developing world;
that all measures of air pollution are falling almost everywhere; that oil,
gas and minerals are not running out nearly as fast as was predicted in the
1970s; and so on.

Instead they are beside themselves with fury. It cannot be Lomborg's
politics that annoy them. He is leftish, concerned about world poverty, and
no fan of big business. It cannot be his recommendations: in favour of
renewable energy and worried about the pollution that is getting worse.
Vegetarian, he rides a bicycle and approves of Denmark's punitive car taxes.
His sin - his heresy - is to be optimistic.

This is very threatening to lots of people's livelihoods. The environmental
movement raises most of its funds through direct mail, paid advertising and
news coverage. A steady supply of peril is essential fuel for all three.
H.L. Mencken said, 'The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the
populace alarmed - and hence clamorous to be led to safety - by menacing it
with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.'

For instance, remember acid rain in the 1980s and sperm counts in the 1990s?
'There is no evidence of a general or unusual decline of forests in the
United States or Canada due to acid rain,' concluded the official
independent study of the subject. Sperm counts are not falling. If you do
not believe me, look up the statistics. Lomborg did.

The media, too, prefer pessimism. When the United Nations panel on global
warming produced new estimates of the rise in temperature by 2100, they gave
a range of 1.4 to 5.8C. CNN, CBS, Time and the New York Times all quoted
only the high figure and omitted the low one.

An increasing number of scientists have vested interests in pessimism, too.
The study of global warming has brought them fame, funds, speaking fees and
room service. Lomborg's crime is to rain on their parade.

In the Scientific American critique, four leading environmental scientists
lambasted Lomborg. The magazine refused Lomborg the right to reply in the
same issue, refused to post his response on its website immediately, and
threatened him for infringement of copyright when he tried to reproduce
their articles, with his responses, on his own website.

Yet the Scientific American articles are devastating not to Lomborg, but to
his critics. Again and again, before insulting him, the critics concede,
through gritted teeth, that he has got his facts right. In two cases,
Stephen Schneider accuses Lomborg of misquoting sources and promptly does so
himself. In the first case, Schneider's response 'completely misunderstands
what we have done', according to Richard Lindzen, the original author of
work on the 'iris effect' and upper-level cirrus clouds. In the second,
Eigil Friis-Christensen says that Schneider 'makes three unsubstantiated
statements regarding our studies on the effect of cosmic rays on global
cloud cover'. Result: there are worse howlers in Schneider's short article
than in Lomborg's whole book.

By the end of 11 pages, the Scientific American critics have found two
certain errors in Lomborg's work. In one he uses the word 'catalyse' instead
of 'electrolyse'. In the other he refers to 20 per cent of energy use, when
he means 20 per cent of electricity generation. You get the drift.

What the affair reveals is how much environmentalists are now the
establishment, accustomed to doing the criticising, not being criticised.
The editor of Scientific American, apparently without irony, condemns
Lomborg for his 'presumption' in challenging 'investigators who have devoted
their lives' to the subject, as if seniority defined truth.

Lomborg is also criticised for his effrontery in challenging the widely
accepted figure that 40,000 species become extinct every year. The number
was first used in 1979 by the British scientist Norman Myers. Yet what was
the evidence for it? Here is what Myers actually said: 'Let us suppose that,
as a consequence of this manhandling of the natural environments, the final
one-quarter of this century witnesses the elimination of one million
species, a far from unlikely prospect. This would work out, during the
course of 25 years, at an average rate of 40,000 species per year.' That's
it. No data at all; just a circular assumption: if 40,000 species go extinct
a year, then 40,000 species go extinct a year. QED.

Now look where this little trick of arithmetic has got Myers. He describes
himself thus: 'Norman Myers is an Honorary Visiting Fellow of Oxford
University. He has served as visiting professor at universities from Harvard
to Stanford, and is a foreign member of the US National Academy of Sciences.
He works as an independent scientist, undertaking research projects for the
US National Research Council, the World Bank and United Nations agencies. He
has received the UNEP environment prize, the Volvo environment prize and,
most recently, the 2001 Blue Planet prize.' (Myers's share of the Volvo
prize was worth $130,000; Lomborg does not own a car.)

Lomborg does not deny that species are becoming extinct at an unnaturally
high rate, but he cites a far from conservative calculation that this rate
may reach about 0.7 per cent in 50 years, not the 25 to 75 per cent implied
by Myers, and calls it 'not a catastrophe but a problem - one of many that
mankind still needs to solve'. Greens are trying to portray Lomborg as a
sort of Pollyanna Pangloss with her head in the sand. But Lomborg does not
dispute the need to save the planet, only the assertion that this is
impossibly difficult and the particular priorities foisted on us by the big
environmental pressure groups.

Forty years ago this year, Rachel Carson, in her book Silent Spring, alerted
a complacent world to the dangers posed by pesticides. Vilified by the
chemical industry, Carson was already dying of cancer when the book was
published. In the intervening years the environmental movement has turned
from David into Goliath. With huge advertising budgets and ready access to
the media, it can dominate the news, terrify multinational companies and
expect to be invited to policy discussions at the highest levels. It is the
bully now.

Consider the treatment meted out to Julian Simon for having the temerity to
be right. In 1990 Simon won $576.07 in settlement of a wager from the
environmentalist Paul Ehrlich. Simon had bet him that the prices of metals
would fall during the 1980s and Ehrlich accepted 'Simon's astonishing offer
before other greedy people jump in'.

When, a decade later, Simon won easily, Ehrlich refused a rematch and called
Simon an imbecile in a speech. Ehrlich, who, in contrast, won a 'genius
award' from the MacArthur Foundation, is the man who argued in 1967 that
with the world on the brink of starvation the West 'should no longer send
emergency aid to countries such as India where sober analysis shows a
hopeless imbalance between food production and population'. Since then India
has doubled its population, more than doubled its food production, increased
its cultivated land acreage by only 5 per cent and begun to export food.

The pessimists argue that Lomborg's good news might lead to complacency. But
Ehrlich's counsel of despair is far more dangerous. Many people now work to
improve the environment at a local level with optimism that they can make
the world a better place. To be constantly told by the big pressure groups
that all is doom and gloom is no help. There is something rotten in the
state of environmentalism. It lies not just in the petty factual dishonesty
that is rife within the movement - Stephen Schneider once said, 'We have to
offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements and make
little mention of any doubts we might have' - but in the very philosophy
that lies at the heart of greenery: the belief in constraint and retreat.

If six billion people have both more food and more forest than their three
billion parents did; if the prices of copper, wheat and natural gas are
going down, not up; if there are 20 times more carcinogens in three cups of
organic coffee than in daily dietary exposure to the worst pesticide both
before and after the DDT ban; if renewable resources such as whales are more
easily exhausted than non-renewables such as coal; if lower infant mortality
leads to falling populations, not rising ones, then perhaps we need to think
differently about what sustainability means. Perhaps the most sustainable
thing we can do is develop new technology, increase trade and spread

Nor will it do to claim that these successes have come from green pressure.
The reason so many environmental trends are benign is not because of
legislation, let alone protest. Apart from the ozone layer and city smogs,
where campaigns probably did accelerate change, most improvements have been
brought about more by innovation, development and growth than by government
action. If six billion people went back to nature, nature would be in
desperate trouble.

The most arresting statistic that Lomborg produces is this. It is well known
that meeting the Kyoto treaty on carbon-dioxide reduction will delay global
warming by six years at most by 2100. Yet the annual cost of that treaty, in
each year of the century, will be the same as the cost - once - of
installing clean drinking water and sanitation for every human being on the
planet. Priorities, anyone?

Copyright 2002, The Spectator

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