"Considering the constant reports about the problems we've caused on
this planet, would it be such a bad thing if the earth was wiped out by
asteroids? What's the big deal?"
--R. Hanson, The Guardian online, 14 May 2002

"Polar bears will become extinct in the wild within 60 years as a
result of global warming, a new report will reveal this week."
--New Zealand Herald, 14 May 2002

"Research in the American Arctic has revealed that the polar bear
and bowhead whale populations are booming after decades of decline,
and part of the reason for that may be global warming."
--Richard Lister, BBC, 11 May 2001

    CNSNews, 14 May 2002

    Paal Brekke <>

    New Zealand Herald, 14 May 2002

    BBC Online News, 11 May 2001

    CO2 Science Magazine, 14 May 2002

    CO2 Science Magazine, 15 May 2002

    CO2 Science Magazine, 15 May 2002

    CO2 Science Magazine, 15 May 2002

    BBC News Online, 9 May 2002

     Ananova, 15 May 2002


>From CNSNews, 14 May 2002

By Marc Morano Senior Staff Writer

Washington ( - A team of international scientists Monday said
climate models showing global warming are based on a "fairy tale" of
computer projections. The scientists met on Capitol Hill to expose what they
see as a dearth of scientific evidence about global warming.

Hartwig Volz, a geophysicist with the RWE Research Lab in Germany questioned
the merit of the climate projections coming from the United Nations
sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC.) The IPCC climate
projections have fueled worldwide support for the Kyoto Protocol, which aims
to restrict the greenhouse gases thought to cause global warming.

Volz noted that the IPCC does not even call the climate models "predictions"
and instead refers to them as "projections" or "story lines." Volz said the
projections might be more aptly termed "fairy tales."

Monday's luncheon was sponsored by the Frontiers of Freedom Institute and
titled "Whatever Happened to Global Warming? Climate Science Does Not
Support the Kyoto Protocol."

S. Fred Singer, an atmospheric physicist with the University of Virginia and
the Environmental Policy Project, called the IPCC's global warming
projections "completely unrealistic."

"Prediction is a very difficult business, particularly about the future," he

Singer accused the IPCC of "assuming extreme scenarios of population growth
and fossil fuel consumption" and called on the Bush administration to
"assemble another team using the IPCC report -- using the same facts" to
"write a different summary."

Dr. Ulrich Berner, a geologist with the Federal Institute for Geosciences in
Germany, said global temperatures have varied greatly in the earth's history
and are unrelated to human activity.

"The climate of the past has varied under natural conditions without the
influence of humans," Berner said.

Berner also declared that an extensive analysis of carbon dioxide (C02)
concentrations in the ice core of Greenland showed that elevated C02 in the
atmosphere does not necessarily lead to temperature increases.

"There are numerous temperature changes which are not mimicked by the CO2
concentration," Berner explained.

"Carbon Dioxide doesn't police climatic changes. Climatic changes have
always occurred and will for the future always occur," Berner added.

Singer agreed, stating, "The balance of evidence suggests that there has
been no appreciable warming since 1940. This would indicate that the human
effects on climate must be quite small."

Singer pointed to the sun as a major culprit in climate change. "The sun is
responsible for most, and perhaps all of the short-term climate changes we
observe," he said.

Environmental groups were quick to dismiss the scientific skepticism on
global warming. Ariana Silverman, a spokesperson for the Sierra Club's
Global Warming & Energy program, disputed the panel's claim that climate
science does not support the Kyoto Protocol.

"It is very difficult to make that claim. There is a consensus in the
scientific community," Silverman said.

Silverman admitted there is room for some skepticism about global warming
models because "nobody knows, we don't have god-like abilities [to predict
the future.]"

She noted that the Sierra Club believes we need to "cut down on gasses right
now and make cars go further on a gallon of gas." Silverman predicted that
if no action is taken, there could be "major changes to our climate and
changes to our ecosystems with species dying."

"Climate is not a responsible thing for us to be changing," Silverman added.

Copyright 2002, CNSNews


>From Paal Brekke <>



Winds of electrified gas rip through the solar atmosphere at nearly the
speed of sound there, according to new observations from NASA's Transition
Region and Coronal Explorer (TRACE) spacecraft and the European Space
Agency/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft.

The new result, from a team of astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center
for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, Mass., shows that the winds and storms
of the solar atmosphere -- at speeds up to 200,000 miles per hour -- so
intense that they are more important than gravity in determining the density
of the atmosphere. The Sun's gravity at its visible surface is about 28
times stronger than that at the Earth's surface; a 150-pound person would
face an epic struggle to support 4,200 pounds if he or she could somehow
stand on the solar surface. For the Earth's atmosphere to behave similarly,
winds over 3,000 mph would be common on the surface.

"This discovery completely changes our understanding of coronal loops,
immense, arch-shaped structures of electrified gas that comprise the Sun's
outer atmosphere (corona)," said Amy Winebarger, lead author of a paper on
this research published in March in the Astrophysical Journal. "We are
excited about this because it increases our understanding of the corona,
which is the location of explosive solar activity that occasionally disrupts
high-technology systems at Earth." Winebarger, formerly at CfA, is a solar
physicist for Computational Physics Incorporated, Springfield, Va., and is
now with the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington.

The solar atmosphere is permeated with magnetic fields, generated by
electrified gas, or plasma, churning violently beneath the visible surface.
Solar astronomers have long observed loops of plasma, called coronal loops,
which appear to trace out the corona's complex magnetic-field structure,
much as iron filings reveal the invisible magnetic field surrounding a

Coronal loops come in various sizes, but most are enormous, capable of
spanning several Earths.

Solar astronomers know the particles comprising plasma are electrically
charged and feel magnetic forces. Thus, scientists thought coronal loops
were tubes of plasma trapped by and enclosed in the arch-shaped magnetic
fields of the corona.

The coronal loops have puzzling features, however. The strong pull of solar
gravity led astronomers to believe that the plasma should be dense at the
bases of the loop and thin at the top, just as the Earth's gravity pulls our
atmosphere close to the surface, causing it to thin with increasing
altitude. In fact, coronal loops seem to be about the same density
throughout their height, even though some of them extend several hundred
thousand miles (over a million kilometers) above the solar surface.

In their new observation, the astronomers saw bright blobs of plasma racing
up and down the coronal loops in movies made from TRACE images. SOHO data
confirmed that these plasma blobs were moving at tremendous speeds, leading
the researchers to their new view that coronal loops are not static
plasma-filled structures, but rather hypervelocity currents of plasma
blasted from the solar surface and squirted between the magnetic structures
in the corona.

"Rather than being tubes of plasma enclosed within a magnetic container,
they are jets of hot plasma flowing along in the alleys between the strong
coronal magnetic fields," said Leon Golub of CfA, a co-author of the paper.
If coronal loops are indeed currents of plasma being propelled against solar
gravity, they would have about the same density along their entire height,
just like the arc of water from a water fountain.

The researchers observe plasma flows in approximately half of all coronal
loops visible by TRACE. Flows may be present in the remainder, but they
might be too faint for TRACE to detect, according to the team. New
instruments will be required to determine if all coronal loops have
high-speed flows, because some loops are too small, or are of a different
temperature than what TRACE can see.

According to the researchers, the plasma current that forms a coronal loop
is probably caused by uneven heating at the bases of the loop, with plasma
racing from the hotter end to the cooler end. "The bases of a coronal loop
are separated by many thousands of miles, and there is no reason to assume
that the environment at one end will be exactly the same, and input exactly
the same amount of heat, as the environment at the other end," said Golub.

The researchers aren't sure what causes coronal-loop heating in the first
place, but their work may help discover the mechanism, shedding light on the
long-standing mystery of why the corona is hundreds of times hotter than the
solar surface. "There are many theories to explain coronal heating, but only
a few of them can produce the hypervelocity plasma flows we see in coronal
loops, so this discovery narrows the possibilities greatly," said

For images and more information, refer to:

Paal Brekke,
SOHO Deputy Project Scientist  (European Space Agency - ESA)

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center,      Email:
Mail Code 682.3, Bld. 26,  Room 001,   Tel.:  1-301-286-6983 /301 996 9028
Greenbelt, Maryland 20771, USA.        Fax:   1-301-286-0264


>From New Zealand Herald, 14 May 2002

Polar bears will become extinct in the wild within 60 years as a result of
global warming, a new report will reveal this week.

By 2060 climate experts believe Arctic pack ice will have melted to such an
extent that all of the existing population of 22,000 polar bears will starve
as the animals they feed on, such as seals, become harder to find.

Twenty years after that, in 2080, forecasters from the Norwegian Polar
Institute believe that the last of the Arctic pack ice will disappear



>From BBC Online News, 11 May 2001

By the BBC's Richard Lister in the Alaskan Arctic

Research in the American Arctic has revealed that the polar bear and bowhead
whale populations are booming after decades of decline, and part of the
reason for that may be global warming.

Although the long-term predictions suggest many Arctic species could be
jeopardised by any continued rise in temperatures, scientists think that at
the moment some animal populations may be benefiting from a slightly warmer



>From CO2 Science Magazine, 14 May 2002

One of the primary prerequisites for imputing a human influence on global
climate is to know how the climate varies on its own. In this summary, we
review a few recent articles that present such information for the current
interglacial, i.e., the Holocene.

Huang and Pollack (1997) searched the large terrestrial heat flow database
compiled by the International Heat Flow Commission of the International
Association of Seismology and Physics of the Earth's Interior for
measurements suitable for reconstructing a ground surface temperature
history of the earth over the last 20,000 years. Based on a total of 6,144
qualifying sets of heat flow measurements, which they obtained from every
continent of the globe, they produced a climate history they describe as
being "independent of other proxy interpretations [and] of any
preconceptions or biases." This "global climate history" derived from
"worldwide observations" indicates that the Medieval Warm Period was indeed
warmer than the last decades of the 20th century - by perhaps as much as
0.5C, in fact - and that the Little Ice Age was as much as 0.7C cooler
than the latter part of the 20th century.

In another intriguing paper, Steig (1999) reviews what we know about climate
change throughout the Holocene, focusing on the period from 7000 to 5000
years ago, when "land air temperatures appear to have declined across much
of the globe."  During this period, there is evidence to suggest that the
atmosphere's CO2 concentration may have increased by just over 10 ppm at a
time when "the evidence from ice cores suggests that both hemispheres
cooled," thereby providing an example of atmospheric CO2 concentration and
near-surface global air temperature moving in opposite directions.

With respect to the Northern and Southern Hemispheres cooling in unison
during the middle Holocene, Keigwin and Boyle (2000) note that the same has
likely been true of the millennial-scale climatic oscillations that
periodically produce Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age conditions.
They report, for example, that "mounting evidence indicates that the Little
Ice Age was a global event, and that its onset was synchronous within a few
years in both Greenland and Antarctica."  In addition, the work of Oppo et
al. (1998) suggests that these millennial-scale climatic oscillations have
been occurring throughout both glacial and interglacial periods alike for at
least the past half million years.

Overpeck and Webb (2000) have also reviewed what we know about various
aspects of climate change throughout the Holocene.  In the category of
ENSO/Pacific Variability, they note that shifts in ENSO frequency occur at
annual, interannual and multidecadal intervals, providing evidence that
"ENSO may change in ways that we do not yet understand."  In fact, they
report that data from corals seem to suggest that "interannual ENSO
variability, as we now know it, was substantially reduced, or perhaps even
absent," during the middle Holocene.

In the category of African-Asian Monsoon Variability, Overpeck and Webb
indicate that large and abrupt changes in monsoon moisture availability have
occurred multiple times throughout the past several thousand years, but that
"a lack of research prevents precise reconstruction, explanation, or
modeling of these changes."  Likewise, in the category of North American
Drought Variability, they note that "droughts of the 20th century were
relatively minor compared with those in the past," which they say "opens up
the possibility that future droughts may be much greater as well."

Clearly, all of these large and dramatic climate changes of the current
interglacial, i.e., the Holocene, have occurred without any help from the
CO2 emissions of man; yet humanity is blamed for nearly everything that
happens - or is only imagined to happen - with respect to current weather
phenomena (see our Editorial of 31 January 2001: Sound the Alarm Bells!).
If the truth be told, however - as we try to do in reviewing the continual
progress of scientific research in these areas - nature still rules in all
aspects of climate change.

Huang, S. and Pollack, H.N.  1997.  Late Quaternary temperature changes seen
in world-wide continental heat flow measurements.  Geophysical Research
Letters 24: 1947-1950.

Keigwin, L.D. and Boyle, E.A.  2000.  Detecting Holocene changes in
thermohaline circulation.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
USA 97: 1343-1346.

Oppo, D.W., McManus, J.F. and Cullen, J.L.  1998.  Abrupt climate events
500,000 to 340,000 years ago: evidence from subpolar North Atlantic
sediments.  Science 279: 1335-1338.

Overpeck, J. and Webb, R.  2000.  Nonglacial rapid climate events: Past and
future.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 97: 1335-1338.

Steig, E.J.  1999.  Mid-Holocene climate change.  Science 286: 1485-1487.
Copyright 2002.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change


>From CO2 Science Magazine, 15 May 2002

Glacial and interglacial climates are both very similar and very different
at one and the same time.  The commonality they share is an approximate
1500-year cycle of relatively warmer and colder temperatures (see Climate
Oscillations in our Subject Index).  What differentiates them - in addition
to their vastly different mean temperatures - are the vastly different
amplitudes of their millennial-scale climate oscillations, which are an
order of magnitude greater during glacial periods than during interglacials.
So why the big difference?

Recent modeling work by Ganopolski and Rahmstorf (2001, 2002) and Alley and
Rahmstorf (2002) suggests that the North Atlantic branch of the global
thermohaline circulation possesses two potential modes of operation during
glacial times: a cold stable mode and a warm marginally unstable mode, the
latter of which typically lasts for but a few hundred years.  The cold
stable mode is characterized by deep-water formation south of Iceland; while
the warm unstable mode is characterized by deep-water formation in the
Nordic Seas and shares many characteristics with the circulatory mode of the
current interglacial, although it is not quite as strong.

All else being equal, the cold stable mode of the ocean's thermohaline
circulation would be expected to persist throughout an entire glacial
period.  However, as Ganopolski, Rahmstorf and Alley (GRA) note, a weak
real-world forcing with a periodicity on the order of 1500 years produces
small cyclical variations in freshwater input to high northern latitudes at
approximately the same periodicity; and these perturbations, when in the
declining phase, often, but not always, initiate a transition to the warm
unstable mode of thermohaline circulation, which includes a shift in the
location of deep-water formation from south of Iceland to the Nordic Seas.
This new mode of circulation (warm unstable, which is accompanied by rapidly
warming air temperatures) then persists for a few hundred years before
reverting back (because of its inherent instability) to the cold stable mode
of circulation (and its accompanying colder air temperatures).

An interesting aspect of this recurring
rapid-warming-followed-by-slower-cooling scenario is that the cyclical
perturbation that leads to the change in the ocean's mode of thermohaline
circulation is directly responsible for only a small fraction of the change
in deep-water formation that is required to trigger the rapid warming
events.  By applying the concept of stochastic resonance to the problem,
however, Ganopolski and Rahmstorf (2002) demonstrate that it is the
background noise in the climate system that "triggers the events and thus
amplifies the weak cycle into major climatic shifts with global

These several observations, some empirical and some theoretical, suggest a
number of important things.  First, very weak forcing factors may well have
the potential to produce large changes in earth's climate under certain
circumstances; and one such forcing factor that presents itself to our minds
within this context is solar variability.  This possibility has also
presented itself to GRA.  Ganopolski and Rahmstorf (2001), for example,
state that the low-amplitude cycle in freshwater forcing responsible for the
large-amplitude cyclical changes in glacial climate could be "ultimately due
to solar variability," while Alley and Rahmstorf (2002) say that "a possible
cause could be a weak periodic variation in the output of the sun."  In
fact, Bond et al. (2001) have actually committed themselves to this
conclusion, particularly as it applies to the Holocene, for which period of
time they have assembled a vast array of compelling evidence that
essentially proves the sun-climate connection.

An interesting thing about the Holocene, however, is the fact that
Ganopolski and Rahmstorf (2002) report that - in their model, at least - its
climate "is not susceptible to regime switches by stochastic resonance with
plausible parameter choices and even unrealistically large noise amplitudes,
and neither is it in conceptual models."  Also, as they correctly report -
and of even more significance, since the observation is based on real-world
data - "there is no evidence for regime switches during the Holocene."

This, thus, is the other important lesson to be learned from these several
studies: Holocene climate - both in theory and point of fact - is not
susceptible to catastrophic changes.  Indeed, the Holocene is only known to
have experienced much more modest climatic oscillations of the Medieval Warm
Period-to-Little Ice Age-to-Modern Warm Period type, which are serious
enough when in the cooling mode, but actually welcome when in the warming

In conclusion, we are about as convinced as we can possibly be that
predictions of catastrophic CO2-induced global warming are totally out of
sync with reality.  Also, there is no question in our minds but what the
historical increase in global temperature over the past two centuries, which
has recently been characterized by Esper et al. (2002), is solar-induced and
represents a return to climatic conditions akin to those of the Medieval
Warm Period.  We welcome this modest climatic transition; and we welcome the
contemporaneous increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration, which poses no
threat of additional warming, but holds out instead the promise of enhanced
biological activity.

Dr. Sherwood B. Idso, President 
Dr. Keith E. Idso, Vice President 

Alley, R.B.S. and Rahmstorf, S.  2002.  Stochastic resonance in glacial
climate.  EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union 83: 129, 135.

Bond, G., Kromer, B., Beer, J., Muscheler, R., Evans, M.N., Showers, W.,
Hoffmann, S., Lotti-Bond, R., Hajdas, I. and Bonani, G.  2001.  Persistent
solar influence on North Atlantic climate during the Holocene.  Science 294:

Esper, J., Cook, E.R. and Schweingruber, F.H.  2002.  Low-frequency signals
in long tree-ring chronologies for reconstructing past temperature
variability.  Science 295: 2250-2253.

Ganopolski A. and Rahmstorf, S.  2001.  Rapid changes of glacial climate
simulated in a coupled climate model.  Nature 409: 153-158.

Ganopolski, A. and Rahmstorf, S.  2002.  Abrupt glacial climate changes due
to stochastic resonance.  Physical Review Letters 88: 038501.

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


>From CO2 Science Magazine, 15 May 2002

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

What was done
The authors explore a number of different data sets - "30 years (1969-1998)
of monthly mean radiosonde data from seven stations located over Antarctica,
32 years (1969-2000) of monthly surface temperature data observations, 30
years (1969-1998) of ground-based total column ozone measurements from
Halley station, and 22 years (1979-2000) of tropospheric geopotential height
data" - in an attempt to (1) define the nature of climate change in
Antarctica since 1969 and (2) determine the reasons for the observed

What was learned
With respect to thermal characteristics, the authors say that "at the
surface, the Antarctic Peninsula has warmed by several [degrees C] over the
past several decades, while the interior of the Antarctic continent has
exhibited weak cooling."  In addition, they note that "ice shelves have
retreated over the peninsula and sea-ice extent has decreased over the
Bellingshausen Sea, while sea-ice concentration has increased and the length
of the sea-ice season has increased over much of eastern Antarctica and the
Ross Sea."  With respect to atmospheric circulation, they say there is "a
systematic bias toward the high-index polarity of the SAM," or Southern
Hemispheric Annular Mode, such that the ring of westerly winds encircling
Antarctica has recently been spending more time in its strong-wind phase.

What it means
The heightened strength and persistence of the SAM would seem to explain
most of the cooling experienced over the bulk of Antarctica over the past
several decades, as well as much of the warming of the Antarctica Peninsula,
as the latter location experiences fewer cold-air outbreaks under such
conditions while simultaneously receiving increased advective warmth from
the Southern Ocean.  But what has caused the strengthening of the SAM?  The
authors speculate it is related to "recent trends in the lower stratospheric
polar vortex, which are due largely to photochemical ozone losses."  Other
scientists, however - as noted by Kerr (2002) in an accompanying "News of
the Week" story - are not yet ready to make that connection, although they
do not totally discount it.

As for us, we are keeping an open mind as well.  In the interim, however, we
note that the work of Thompson and Solomon has at least advanced our
knowledge to the point that we can better understand how the Antarctic
Peninsula could have warmed so dramatically over the last few decades while
the great mass of the continent to which it is attached has cooled.
Finally, we note that before man can be blamed - or thanked - for either of
these temperature trends, considerably more data, either forward or backward
in time, will be required to determine whether or not the observed changes
of the past 30 years are but manifestations of the most recent phase of a
natural multidecadal cycle.

Kerr, R.A.  2002.  A single climate mover for Antarctica.  Science 296:
Copyright 2002.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change


>From CO2 Science Magazine, 15 May 2002

Torok, S.J., Morris, C.J.G., Skinner, C. and Plummer, N.  2001.  Urban heat
island features of southeast Australian towns.  Australian Meteorological
Magazine 50: 1-13.

What was done
The authors studied the characteristics of urban heat islands in several
cities in Australia with populations ranging from approximately 1,000 to
3,000,000 people.

What was learned
The maximum urban-rural temperature differences of the Australian cities
were found to scale linearly with the logarithms of their populations.  The
authors noted that the same was true for cities in Europe and North America,
but that the heat islands of Australian cities were generally less than
those of similar-size European cities (which were less than similar-size
North American cities) and that they increased at a slower rate with
population growth than did European cities (which increased slower than did
cities in North America).  The regression lines of all three continents
essentially converged in the vicinity of a population of 1,000 people,
however, where the mean urban-rural temperature difference was approximately
2.2 0.2 C.

What it means
The results of this study suggest that very small towns, with populations
measured in mere hundreds of inhabitants, likely have urban heat islands
that are on the order of the entire amount of global warming that is
believed to have occurred since the end of the Little Ice Age.  With such
small aggregations of people having such a dramatic impact on air
temperature, it is ludicrous to believe that on top of the natural warming
experienced by the earth in recovering from the Little Ice Age we can
confidently discern an even more subtle increase in background temperature
caused by concomitant increases in greenhouse gas concentrations.  Changes
in population, which have generally been positive nearly everywhere in the
world over this period, could easily explain whatever tiny bit of warming is
left after the natural component of warming (which must be substantial,
relatively speaking) is subtracted from the total amount of warming recorded
by the totality of earth's thermometers over the past century or so.
Copyright 2002.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change


>From the BBC News Online, 9 May 2002
People are set to live increasingly long lives, and reaching 100 will soon
be "commonplace", say experts.

They say that although there is no prospect of immortality, the trend for
living increasingly long lives looked set to continue.

Centenarians - 100-year-olds - will become unexceptional within the
lifetimes of people alive today, according to Jim Oeppen, from Cambridge
University, and Dr James Vaupel, from the Max Plank Institute for Demography
in Rostock, Germany.

They said there was no sign there was a natural limit, as some experts have

Each time one has been suggested, it has been exceeded within five years.

Increased life expectancy

The researchers' suggestion that life expectancies could rise is based on
patterns seen since 1840.

Since then, the highest average life expectancy has improved by a quarter of
a year every year.

If that trend continues, the researchers say people in the country with the
highest life expectancy would live to an average age of 100 in about six

The researchers wrote in the journal Science: "This is far from eternity:
modest annual increments in life expectancy will never lead to immortality.

"It is striking, however, that centenarians may become commonplace within
the lifetimes of people living today."

Average lifespan around the world is around double what it was 200 years

It is now around 65 for men and 70 for women.

Japanese women are currently the likeliest to live long lives, on average
reaching 84.6 years of age.

Japanese men are the second longest male survivors, reaching an average age
of 77.6 years old.

'No ceiling'

The British rank well down the list. Men come in at 14th in the world table,
living to an average age of 75 while women are in 18th place, living on
average to 79.9.

In France, there is a big difference between men and women's life

Men came 16th in the world table, with an average lifespan of 74.9, with
French women in fourth place with a life expectancy of 82.4 years.

British women have a life expectancy of 79.9
Mr Oeppen, senior research associate at the Cambridge Group for the History
of Population and Social Structure, said: "One of the assumptions is that
life expectancy will rise a bit and then reach a ceiling it cannot go

"But people have been assuming that since the 1920s and it hasn't proved to
be the case.

"If we were close to the ceiling we might expect the survival of Japanese
women now to be improving at a slower rate. But the improvement in Japan is
among the fastest in the world."

He added: "I think there is a ceiling, but we don't know where it is. We
haven't got there yet."

Mr Oeppen and Dr Vaupel said their predictions meant even the highest
forecast for numbers of elderly people in the future could be too low,
affecting decisions over pensions, health care, and other social needs.

Political reaction

Frank Field, Labour MP for Birkenhead and chairman of the all-party
committee on pensions, welcomed the report.

He called for an independent body to be set up to examine the need for an
increase in the retirement age.

He said: "If you look at life expectancy in 1948, when the state pension was
introduced, and take that as a reasonable length of time to receive a
pension, you would have a retirement age of 74 today."

Copyright 2002, BBC


>From Ananova, 15 May 2002

Global warming may cause storms in many parts of the world but there could
be a silver lining for Venice, says new research.

Changing weather patterns appear to be holding back the floods threatening
the slowly-sinking Italian lagoon city, researchers have found.

Sea levels around the world are predicted to rise by 31 centimetres by the
year 2100.

That looks like bad news for Venice, which is protected by dams designed for
a 22 centimetre rise.

But the danger may be averted by the effect of global warming in the
Mediterranean, New Scientist magazine reported.

During most of the 20th century the frequency of floods swamping Venice has
increased. However, the problem has not got significantly worse since 1960.

Trevor Davies and Isabel Trigo, from the University of East Anglia,
investigated the turn around by looking at the intense local storms that
trigger flooding.

When storms pass over northern Italy into the Adriatic, the low atmospheric
pressure that comes with them raises local sea level by up to half a metre.
On top of this, southerly winds push water up the Adriatic towards Venice,
causing floods.

"The researchers found that climate change has altered the route that local
depressions take, weakening storms in the Mediterranean," New Scientist

Copyright 2002, Ananova

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