CCNet, 88/2000 - 14 September 2000

     "Global warming, rather than making the weather milder and
     wetter, could plunge Britain into a mini ice-age "within a
     few decades", according to new scientific evidence. [...] The
     western Highlands will be covered by an ice cap similar to
     the one covering Iceland, glaciers will appear in the Lakes
     District, Wales and the Pennines and the rest of England will
     be covered by permafrost."
         -- David Montgomery and Richard Sadler, 14 September 2000

     "If a climate model is totally lacking in skill at predicting the
     largest climatic phenomenon of our day, which raises havoc all
     around the world, can it be any good at predicting the climatic
     phenomenon that people anticipate could negatively impact the
     planet in the near future, i.e., CO2-induced global warming?
     Almost anything, of course, is possible; but for a model to fail
     this well-defined and objective real-world test certainly does not
     engender confidence that it would do any better at predicting
     future long-term warming or cooling.
         -- Craig D. Idso, Keith E. Idso, 13 September 2000

    Boston Globe, 13 September 2000
    Ron Baalke <>
    Andy Smith <>

    Michael Paine <>
    Benny J Peiser <>

    Bob Kobres <>

    The Scotsman, 14 September 2000
    Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change,


From the Boston Globe, 13 September 2000
Name that moon

Space discoveries push us to explore outer limits of creativity as
every asteroid, crater, comet, and cranny gets a proper title

By Gareth Cook, Globe Staff, 9/13/2000

CAMBRIDGE - Would a flicker in the heavens burn as bright if it were
called Wewilroku, a tribute to the Queen anthem 'We Will Rock

For thousands of years, people have given names to objects in the sky,
granting great figures - such as Hercules, the mythical hero who slayed
the many-headed Hydra - an added degree of immortality.

But now the accelerating pace of discovery - driven by more and
ever-larger telescopes scanning the skies - is seriously taxing our
creative powers. Just since 1998, when one Lexington-based team began a
massive search for objects that could threaten the earth, astronomers
have found more than 8,000 new asteroids, as many as had been found
since astronomy began.

And so, at the Garden Street offices of the Minor Planets Center, which
certifies new asteroid discoveries, name suggestions pour in every day,
from Wewilroku (rejected) to MIT (accepted in May), to Monty Python
(accepted in July).

"It can be quite frustrating," said the center's director, Brian 
Marsden, sitting low in a black swivel chair and surrounded by a nebula
of papers. "It's almost getting silly."

Unfortunately, name weariness may be a byproduct of the success of
modern science. If physicists had not become so good at discovering new
elements, there would have been no need to call one of them
Californium. If biologists had not become so deft in exploring DNA,
there would be no need to dub parts of the genetic code that control
how the body grows "sonic hedgehog" and "tiggywinkle." And
meteorologists, who can use powerful weather satellites to track storms
anywhere in the Atlantic, only retire storm names if they cause deaths
or serious damage, said Michael Carbone of the National Weather

To some eyes, though, the gathering-data flood - from astronomy to
zoology - is a sign of science in trouble.

"It's amusing that we are running out of names for things," said 
physicist Alan Lightman, an MIT professor of humanities and author of
"The Diagnoses," a novel out this week on the era of information
overload. "But what most scientists try to do is organize and simplify
and find deeper unifying principles."

Indeed, Marsden, white-haired, 63 years old, and remarkably
good-spirited about the deluge, calls the naming work an "amusing"
sidelight to the more serious work of the center, near the base of 
Harvard's "Great Refractor" telescope. The center's mandate, explained
Marsden, is to sift out, from observatories on five continents,
evidence of new objects so that their orbits can be calculated, with a
careful eye to ''near-earth objects'' - comets and asteroids that could
come near the earth, threatening humans with the same fiery fate that
befell the dinosaurs.

Few astronomers, though, want to change the practice of giving names to
asteroids (which one imaginative critic once called "the vermin of the
solar system"). Using proper names, instead of just a designation like
1999BK23, helps avoid confusion, astronomers said. But at least as
powerful a reason is the looming fear that asteroid naming could go
commercial, unleashing the same forces that changed San Francisco's
Candlestick Park to 3Com Park.

"The moment we stopped naming them," said Minor Planet Center associate
director Gareth Williams, "some registry would open up and charge for
the honor."

So with telescopes and satellites scouring the solar system, the need
for names keeps expanding. Last month, at the triennial meeting of the
International Astronomical Union, the body that is the final arbiter of
celestial titles, scientists met to consider what to call the craters
and mountains and plains that litter the surfaces of planets like Mars
and Venus, the moons that orbit around planets, the craters and
mountains and plains on the moons of the planets, and even craters on

Imposing some measure of order, astronomers have devised an elaborate
set of rules that govern what can be called what, Marsden said. When a
new moon is discovered revolving around Jupiter, for example, it must
be named for one of the lovers of the god Jupiter in classical
mythology. To help keep them all straight, though, there is another
rule: All of the moons that orbit in one direction will be given names
that end in the letter ''a'' (such as the moon Elara), and all the
moons that orbit in the other direction will be given names that end in

New names for five moons around Uranus, adopted at last month's
conference, all come from characters in Shakespeare's "The Tempest":
Caliban, Sycorax, Prospero, Setebos, and Stephano.

But these themes can cause trouble. For craters on the asteroid Eros,
astronomers decided to keep to an erotic theme, with names like Don
Juan, Lolita, and Cupid. When the public was asked to submit
suggestions, many of them were rejected as "inappropriate," according
to Charlene Anderson, associate director of the Planetary Society,
which sponsored the contest. Among the rejections: Bill and Monica.

Before astronomers can name an asteroid or comet, they must talk to
Marsden. He decides when an object has been followed long enough that
it "won't get lost" and is therefore ready to be named.

If it is an icy comet, then the name comes easy: It is named for the
discoverers. If the new object is a rocky asteroid, though, the rules
state that the discoverer can christen it just about anything, as long
as it meets the approval of a 13-member panel of the International
Astronomical Union known as the Committee on Small Body Nomenclature,
which Marsden sits on.

In the early days of asteroid hunting, astronomers invoked the names of
female goddesses: The first asteroid, Ceres, was discovered in 1801 and
named for the Roman goddess of harvests; the second, Pallas, discovered
in 1802, was an alternate appellation for Athena, the Greek goddess of

As telescopes improved, and astronomers began finding more asteroids,
they had to loosen the rules. Female historical figures started making
appearances, and then male figures were allowed, though tradition
dictated that an "a" be added at the end of their names to make them
sound female, Marsden said.

Now, except for asteroids in a few unusual orbits, there are only two
firm rules: nothing obscene, and no political or military figures until
100 years after their death. Also, added Marsden in his British accent,
"pet names are discouraged." (This convention, he explained, came after
a now-infamous incident in which an astronomer named an asteroid ''Mr.
Spock" after his pointy-eared tabby cat.)

Still, some skywatchers argue that the committee has become too staid,
despite having approved asteroids that honor the Beatles, Marilyn
Monroe, and Laurel and Hardy. Marsden's colleague Williams, who
suggested the Wewilroku name and calls himself a "big Queen fan,"
insists that the committee's decision to reject it "reflects badly on

"You need a certain percentage of witty names," said Williams, who
secured a place on the name committee last month and hopes to resubmit
Wewilroku. "Otherwise you lose the thrill of finding the witty name
among all the routine stuff."

It is likely that the practice of naming points of light, no matter how
faint, will continue, said those who are involved with the process. "It
makes a record in the stars of our own experience," said Susan Russell,
who volunteers for the Minor Planets Center and is the CEO of The 
Russell Mark Group, a California consulting firm that helps companies
invent names for themselves. "It's a way to say that we are here, and
we are human."

This story ran on page B1 of the Boston Globe on 9/13/2000.
Š Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company.


From Ron Baalke <>


Ray Villard
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD
(Phone: 410-338-4514, E-mail:

Lori Stiles
University of Arizona News Services, Tucson, AZ
(Phone: 520-621-1877, E-mail:

Susan D. Kern
University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
(Phone: 520-621-4079, E-mail:

Donald W. McCarthy
University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
(Phone: 520-621-4079, E-mail:

Centaur's Bright Surface Spot Could be Crater of Fresh Ice

The unexpectedly varied surface of a wayward piece of space debris has
given Hubble telescope astronomers new insights into the
characteristics and behavior of a ghostly population of faintly
observed comet-like bodies that lie just beyond Pluto's orbit.

While observing an object called 8405 Asbolus, a 48-mile-wide
(80-kilometer) chunk of ice and dust that lies between Saturn and
Uranus, astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope were surprised
to find that one side of the object looks like it has a fresh crater
less than 10 million years old, exposing underlying ice that is
apparently unlike any yet seen. This shows that these mysterious
objects do not have a simple homogenous surface, say researchers.

Hubble didn't directly see the crater - the object is too small and far
away - but a measure of its surface composition shows a complex

"To wildly speculate, there may have been an impact that heated this
surface and did some different chemistry of the hydrocarbons present.
This may be a solar system ice that hasn't yet been seen in other
objects or generated in the lab," said Donald W. McCarthy of the
University of Arizona (UA) in Tucson, Arizona.

"The ice does have some strong similarities to water ice, but in places
it really doesn't match," adds lead investigator Susan D. Kern of UA.
"This could be a new mixture of things we've seen before, but not in
this combination."

By latest count, scientists have discovered a total of 21 Centaurs,
which are dim, small bodies, which are icy like comet nuclei. These
objects are considered escapees from a vast reservoir of comets, the
Kuiper Belt beyond Pluto. The Centaurs' orbits were perturbed into the
region between the orbits of Neptune and Jupiter.

"Perhaps the event that caused the impact crater on 8405 Asbolus also
knocked it out of the Kuiper belt," McCarthy speculates.

As part of a survey of 10 Centaur objects, the Arizona team measured
the surface composition of 8405 Asbolus on June 11, 1998. This was done
by taking near-infrared spectra that measure the colors of sunlight
reflected off the surface.

Fortuitously, as it turned out, that day the Space Telescope
instruments were briefly shut down to protect them from radiation
interference as the spacecraft passed through one of the Earth's strong
radiation belts of charged particles. Instead of observing the Centaur
for an uninterrupted 40 minutes, the astronomers studied it in two
separate sessions spanning almost two hours over which both hemispheres
of the asteroid were visible.

Initially the observers saw a relatively bright, very complicated
absorption spectrum in one hemisphere. After the shutdown, when they
looked again. The spectrum of 8405 Asbolus looked entirely different,
showing a very smooth "normal" spectrum with few specific absorptions
due to a complicated surface composition. This second spectrum matched
what had been observed with the Keck Telescope three months earlier.
But the first spectrum was a complete puzzle.

"At first we didn't understand it, because NICMOS (Near Infrared Camera
and Multi-Object Spectrograph data is really hard to reduce," McCarthy
said. They used NICMOS' "grism" in the project. The grism is a grating
of ruled, straight lines through a prism that separates light into

Surfaces of objects in the outer solar system darken and redden with
exposure to ultraviolet sunlight, solar wind and cosmic rays. Unexposed,
interior ice remains bright. Light reflected from the bright spot of
newly exposed ice dominates the spectrum when it spins into view.

McCarthy says, "We believe we're seeing a more spherically shaped, dark
object with a very bright crater on it." "And thatšs what is
interesting about this Centaur, that the bright spot isnšt just water
ice." Kern adds.

She was the first to suggest that the Centaur must be spinning twice as
fast as previously thought, making a complete rotation every 4.5 hours.

Kern, who just earned her UA bacheloršs degree in astronomy, is lead
author on a paper about it to be published in Astrophysical Journal
Letters. In addition to UA Steward Observatory astronomer McCarthy,
co-authors include Mark W. Buie of Lowell Observatory, Robert H. Brown
of the UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL), Humberto Campins of LPL
and the Research Corp., and UA astronomy professor Marcia Rieke.

These results will be published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.


From Andy Smith <>

Hello Benny and the CCNet,

The third international conference on planetary defense, organized by
the Russian Space Shield Foundation, is taking place, this week, in
Evpatoriya. It is on the Web at

It looks like they will be posting the abstracts and many of the papers
on the Web. The Russians hosted similar meetings in 1994 and 1996, at
Snezhinsk. The forth such meeting (Planetary Defense Workshop) was
hosted at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab, near San Francisco, in

All three of these excellent meetings are well reported on the Web, by
the sponsoring organizations. They address, in-depth, the engineering
aspects of interception and deflection. It is clear that we can
prevent most impacts, if we have good early warning data (about a
decade before impact could be a comfortable Delta T, if we have done
our homework and have plans for an expedited global emegency
interception effort). We have a long way to go but we are moving in the
right direction.

The Need For More Openness And Communication

One of the most important present needs, on the way to effective
emergency preparedness, is for better global communication and
cooperation. That is why CCNet is so important. It is the best
available global forum, on this vital subject, and it is thus providing
a very valuable public service. We deeply appreciate what you are
doing, Benny.

Spaceguard And NASA Experts Helped With SPE 2000

It looks like the Spaceguard Foundation President (A. Carusi) was
involved in the planning for SPE 2000 and we are hoping that the
conference will be linked to the Spaceguard Node and to all of the
national branches of the Foundation.

Hopefully, the next SPE (2002 or so) will involve much broader global
participation and we are hoping that the SSF Website will become more
and more of a global forum and meeting place. Dave Morrison (NASA AMES
focal-point and long-time PD expert and advocate) also seems to have
participated in the SPE 2000 planning and we are hoping that he will
again summarize the conference, on his Web page   (I think).

We would also like to see the NASA/JPL NEO page, the Planetary Society
NEO page and the other interested professional and media organizations,
report the SPE Conference and encourage global planetary defense
cooperation. After all, what we are about is the most important
technical challenge in history and our generation bears a special and
heavy burden of responsibility---because we are the first generation
to have both the knowledge and the equipment needed to protect
ourselves. Unlike our 40,000 or so ancestor generations, we have no
excuse for inaction.

6th and 11th Century Impacts

It is great to monitor the CCNet dialogue on the possible 6th and 11th
Century impact events. Ed Grondine did an outstanding job in his
reports and we have been inspired to look, more closely, at the
collapse of Teotihuacan (Maya in Mexico)during the Metepec phase
(Maya/Mexico)and at the end of the Gupta Era, in India.

One of our telescopes is in the Chaco Canyon and we are doing more
talking, with the tribal elders and with the University of New Mexico
anthropology specialists, about that history. We also enjoyed reading
your papers on the Web (Bronze Age and Late Holocene).


Andy Smith


From Michael Paine <>

Dear Benny,

I have received some more information about the telescope being built
by the Purple Mountain Observatory in China. It was supplied by Yang
Jiexing. He anticipates that the limiting magnitude of the telescope
can reach 20.5. The site is at Xuyi (not the reported Nanjing) and is
roughly 300km NW of Shanghai. Note his request for international

Michael Paine


From Yang Jiexing <>, Purple Mountgain Observatory

Plan and Schmidt Telescope for searching NEOs in The Purple Mountain
Observatory, China

Scientific Object:

This telescope with CCD system is built for searching after near earth
asteroids and near earth comets, which often move with great
velocities. It also can measure and compute the orbit of the observed
object in real time, and it will be finished in 2002.

Specifications of the optical system:
Optical design:  Schmidt
Correcting Lens Diameter:  1000mm
Primary Mirror Diameter:  1200mm
Focal Length:  1800mm
Focal Ratio:  F=f/D=1.8
Valid No-halo Flied:  3.14°(linear diameter: 100mm)
Center Wavelength of the correcting Lens:  656.3nm
Light Power distribution:  80% of all the light power in a circle which
diameter is less than 2?(linear diameter is less than 20ĩm)
Distortion caused by optical designing and machining: less than 15ĩm

Specifications of precision:
Light Power distribution: 80% of all the light power in a circle which
diameter is less than 2?(linear diameter is less than 20ĩm)
Repeat of Distortion: less than 15ĩm
Bearing of the tube: bending with the focal flat changing less than
Tracking precision:  1"/4 minutes
Tracking with variable velocity:  in term with the observed celestial
Precision of pointing:  less than 10?
Otherwise:  listed in the contract

Information of the observatory:
This telescope for search after NEOs will be located County Xuyi which
is 125km far from Nanjing to the northwest direction.
        Longitude:  7h53m51s E
        Latitude:   32°44'10?N
        Height:  179.6m
        Seeing:  0.80?
Now we have obtained the financial support of the Chinese Academy of
Sciences, however, we hope we can get technical and other help from
the International Astronomy Union, especially technology about CCD
system. We would appreciate from bottom of our heart any international

Yang Jiexing


From Benny J Peiser <>

In his afterword to Duncan Steel's new book TARGET EARTH, Sir Arthur C.
Clarke writes:

     "Duncan Steel tells the actual story of how our planet has been
     hit many times by asteroids and comets, often with the result far
     worse than Tunguska. More importantly, he shows how it will be
     devastated again - unless we act now. That's what Project
     Spaceguard is all about. Convincing the governments of the world
     and the public on this hazard has been a long and difficult task.
     I've done my bit by being a patron of the Spaceguard Foundation.
     But it requires all sane people to pressure their leaders into
     making Spaceguard a reality. We need to look to survival
     strategies for 3001, not just 2001."
Duncan, too, has done his bit - researching the impact hazard and
working on survival strategies. Like many of his fellow NEO
researchers, most of the previous publications about cosmic impacts and
their role in shaping the evolution of life on earth have been written
for a relatively small group of interested experts and scientists. Now,
Duncan has put together a splendid book that tries to explain the basic
scientific facts and general concepts for the general public. It is
packed with hundreds of great photos and graphic pics and will be
marketed by some of the world's biggest publishing houses. It covers
not just the history of extraterrestrial impacts, but the history of
impact research and the current research and NEO search efforts and
their teams.

TARGET EARTH will be published in November by Readers Digest in New
York and much of the rest of the world; in the UK, Time-Life is
expected to publish the book at the end of the year or early in
January. Journalists interested in obtaining photos for NEO-related
news stories are advised to contact Duncan Steel directly.
Benny J Peiser



From Bob Kobres <>

I wish that you would refrain from labeling opinions about our
influence on the biosphere, which you do not concur with, as GREEN. If
the statement is expressly from Green Party literature then a term like
Greens would be appropriate but to use GREEN in a derogatory sense is
unnecessarily divisive and inaccurately descriptive of environmental

Green (gręn). A supporter of a social and political movement that
espouses global environmental protection, bioregionalism, social
responsibility, and nonviolence.

Human impact upon the rest of the living world is culturally
determined. Given that we are a wholly dependent upon the biological
integrity of the living system that envelopes this planet, it is
certainly in our enlightened self-interest to learn to function as a
keystone species rather than seek to perpetuate behavior which, through
ignorance and hubris, assumes some special, beyond the economic rules
of nature, role for ourselves.  

Professor Boulter's mathematical model seems more grim than green and
is clearly based on dubious assumptions. Who or what be calling the
culls and commanding cosmic cullers to cut out the culprits?  Why
further propagate such a notion? To say the following?:

[It's actually quite the opposite, Professor Boulter. We haven't
manipulated our nature enough yet to saveguard [sic] human survival,
BJP]. (from CCNet 09/13/00)

An interesting statement. Do you mean by it that we have not yet
modified our cultural behavior enough to ensure our long term survival
or do you imply that we need to become more macho in manipulating OUR
natural environment? 

Protecting and learning from the vast information content of the living
world that formed us is far more straightforward and practical than
taking on the task of trying to forcefully manipulate the biosphere to
conform to our various cultural contraptions. 

Hey--beaver come in, cut trees, and in general appear to rip up
riparian environs, but they have a plan. When the dam is built, and the
pond a feature, the change benefits many other critters beyond the
busy builders. Beaver are a exemplary keystone species and their
activities also play a beneficial role in the hydrological cycle.  We
can also learn to make our day to day affairs a salve to the living
world rather than stupidly inflicting wounds upon it! 


BTW: There are some ~540 AD fireball/dragon reports from China/Japan
pages 45-49

Beaver observations:

Bob Kobres


From The Scotsman, 14 September 2000

Global warming or arctic freeze?

David Montgomery and Richard Sadler

GLOBAL warming, rather than making the weather milder and wetter, could
plunge Britain into a mini ice-age "within a few decades", according to
new scientific evidence.

Research using ice cores in Greenland suggests that climate change in
Britain and north-west Europe could happen far more quickly than in
other parts of the world - and that the British climate could start
changing rapidly.

Contrary to the generally accepted notion that Britain will gradually
become warmer as the planet heats up, the results of the study suggest
that temperatures are more likely to plunge into an arctic freeze.

In the worst-case scenario, the North Sea will freeze over during the
winter and icebergs will drift as far south as Portugal - the kind of
conditions experienced during the last big freeze 12,700 years ago.

The western Highlands will be covered by an ice cap similar to the
one covering Iceland, glaciers will appear in the Lakes District, Wales
and the Pennines and the rest of England will be covered by permafrost.

The findings, announced yesterday at the British Association Festival
of Science in London by Professor John Lowe, of London University,
open up the prospect of potentially catastrophic climate change within
a human lifetime.

Prof Lowe, the leader of a multinational team of scientists studying
past climate changes just returning from Greenland, described the
latest evidence as "startling".

"The danger for the UK and parts of north-west Europe is that there's
an assumption that the climate is somehow going to get warmer as the
world warms up," he said.

"But some of these models suggest that north-west Europe will
experience a rapidly alternating climate and my personal opinion is that
there's going to be a period of great instability which will be difficult
for insurance companies and governments to respond to."

Evidence gathered by Prof Lowe's team from past climate patterns
suggests that after a "false dawn" of warmer weather across the world,
the massive Greenland ice sheet will melt, the polar ice front will move
south-eastwards and Britain will be plunged into freezing conditions.

The researchers extracted cores of ice from the Greenland ice sheet to
a depth of 3,000 metres. Each contained perfectly-preserved layers of
frozen ice representing snow falls from the past 1,500-2,000 years.

These give vital information about the nature of past climate variations
which Prof Lowe's team has matched with data from seabed

"It wasn't until the publication of the first ice core records in the early
1990s that we began to realise just how quickly things could change,"
said Prof Lowe, a geologist at London University.

"Now we're making progress in the way we can pin this down - for
the first time, we can get a better handle on the way the world has
operated during previous climatic changes.

"I don't believe that within ten years we're going to be wiped out or
that we'll all be in dire straits, but I do think that in 30 to 40 years
we're going to see a big difference.

"You only need a small change of a degree or so to have a serious
effect and obviously there is the potential for major disruption to
agriculture and the economy."

It is not clear why northern Europe should cool down, while the rest
of the world heats up, but an important factor is thought to be the
effect of ice melting from the Greenland ice sheet and other ice sheets
in Iceland and Norway.

The movement of billions of tonnes of melted fresh water on the
surface of the north-east Atlantic could contribute to a sudden drop in

This in turn could abruptly bring a halt to the Gulf Stream, the warm
water from the Caribbean which has kept the British climate relatively
warm for the past 10,000 years.

The government's Natural Environment Research Council will shortly
announce an initiative to study the ice core data so future climate
change can be predicted more accurately.

Copyright 2000, The Scotsman


From: Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change,

13 September 2000

We are a society obsessed with tests, and rightly so. From crash-test
dummies to medical doctors, we want to have confidence that those to
whom we entrust our futures are indeed trustworthy; and the way we as a
society make this appraisal is via standardized tests designed and
administered by experts in whom we place our trust.

In an eye-opening article in the September 2000 issue of the Bulletin
of the American Meteorological Society, Christopher W. Landsea and John
A. Knaff apply this time-honored tradition of testing to the climate
models we are asked to trust enough to totally restructure
national and world energy policies in a way that will dramatically
affect practically everyone on earth . and not necessarily for the
better!  Specifically, these NOAA scientists employ a simple
statistical tool to evaluate the skill of twelve state-of-the-art
climate models in real-time predictions of the development of the
1997-98 El Niņo.

Their findings?  In the words of the authors, "the current answer to
the question posed in this article's title [How much skill was there in
forecasting the very strong 1997-98 El Niņo?] is that there was
essentially no skill in forecasting the very strong 1997-98 El Niņo at
lead times ranging from 0 to 8 months."  Indeed, they say, "there
were no models . able to anticipate even one-half of the actual
amplitude of the El Niņo's peak at medium range (6-11 months) lead." 
Also, "since no models were able to provide useful predictions at the
medium and long ranges, there were no models that provided both useful
and skillful forecasts for the entirety of the 1997-98 El Niņo." 
[Authors' italics].

These observations raise an interesting question. If a climate model is
totally lacking in skill at predicting the largest climatic phenomenon
of our day, which raises havoc all around the world, can it be any good
at predicting the climatic phenomenon that people anticipate could
negatively impact the planet in the near future, i.e., CO2-induced
global warming? Almost anything, of course, is possible; but for a
model to fail this well-defined and objective real-world test certainly
does not engender confidence that it would do any better at predicting
future long-term warming or cooling. Hence, it would logically follow
that if a group of people were intent on convincing the world that
anthropogenic CO2 emissions are bad for the planet, in support of some
other agenda, there would be a great temptation to hide the fact that
the best climate models in existence failed this important test.

So how would one go about hiding this fact? Perhaps the most effective
way would be to claim that just the opposite was true, i.e., that the
models performed admirably in predicting the development of the 1997-98
El Niņo. And reading between the lines of the Landsea and Knaff paper,
that is exactly what appears to have happened.

The authors state, for example, that their results "may be surprising
given the general perception [our italics] that seasonal El Niņo
forecasts from dynamical models have been quite successful and may even
be considered a problem solved."  In this regard, they cite the Science
report of Kerr (1998), entitled "Models win big in forecasting El
Niņo," which, they claim, was based on an "unrefereed and incomplete
analysis," noting further that when the study was finally completed and
published, with the results demonstrating that the models "did not 'win
big' after all," Science was silent.

"Also disturbing," the authors state, "is that others are using the
supposed success in dynamical El Niņo forecasting to support other
agendas," citing as an example the American Geophysical Union's
Position Statement on Climate Change and Greenhouse Gases, which
suggests that confidence in the use of models to predict anthropogenic
global warming is enhanced by their ability to predict the El
Niņo-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon.

"The bottom line," say Landsea and Knaff, "is that the successes in
ENSO forecasting have been overstated (sometimes drastically) and
misapplied in other arenas." Indeed, the results of their study, they
say, should engender even "less confidence in anthropogenic global
warming studies because of the lack of skill in predicting El Niņo."

It is unfortunate that the stakes in the global warming debate have
grown so high that problems such as these are beginning to permeate the
science.  For that, we suppose, we have politics to thank.  An 
important implication for all to ponder is the difficult task it has
become to discern the truth of many matters. Even statements that sound
like recitations of established fact are sometimes anything but fact. 
And if a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, think of the disaster
that can come from misinformation on a topic of major concern.

Dr. Craig D. Idso
Dr. Keith E. Idso


Kerr, R.A.  1998.  Models win big in forecasting El Niņo. Science 280: 

Landsea, C.W. and Knaff, J.A.  2000.  How much skill was there in
forecasting the very strong 1997-98 El Niņo? Bulletin of the American
Meteorological Society 81:2107-2119.

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    Benny J Peiser <>

    Jonathan Tate <>


From Benny J Peiser <>
1.) The long-awaited NEO Task Force Report will be launched on Monday,
18 September at 10.30am. According to the British National Space
Centre (BNSC), the NEO Report should be available on the internet
from that time at I understand
that the report will be available via a PDF file but that easier
ways to access it and to select data will become available as the
site develops. It is expected that the Government will respond to
the Report's findings and recommendations by the end of the year.

2.) The publication of the Task Force Report together with
comments by NEO experts, Spaceguard UK and others will be covered
by CCNet throughout the day. I intend to post a CCNet Special with
first reactions at about 12.00/lunch time (GMT). A second edition will
be posted with further comments during the afteroon, while the final
issue with some US and international responses is planned for around

3.) Given past experiences with British Goverments and the
conspicuous ways in which they frequently issue important policy
announcements, we should not be all too surprised if the
Government were to leak the NEO Report to selected journalists on
Friday - so that the Sunday papers can carry a preparatory story.
I would very much appreciate it if UK subscribers could notify me
of any such articles in the Sunday papers.

4.) CCNet subscribers who wish to comment on the report's findings and
recommendations are invited to send their views to the moderator of
this network.

Benny J Peiser


From Jonathan Tate <>
Ref: SG 00/03

13th September 2000



On 4th January 2000, after a four year campaign by Spaceguard UK
and a concurrent political drive by Lembit Opik MP, the British
government announced the establishment of a Task Force on
Near-Earth Objects (NEOs). The members are Dr. H H (Harry)
Atkinson (Chairman), Professor David Williams and Sir Crispin
Tickell. Their terms of reference were to confirm the nature of
the impact hazard, identify current UK activities, and make
recommendations on future action.

The Task Force has consulted with leading experts in the UK,
Europe and the United States, and has investigated the magnitude
of the hazard, projects currently underway around the world and
the requirements for a comprehensive international programme to
counter the threat of cometary and asteroidal impacts.

The Task Force presented its report to the minister responsible,
Lord Sainsbury, via the British National Space Centre, in August,
and it will be published on Monday 18th September.

The actuarial cost - the long term cost of doing nothing -
associated with the impacts of 1 kilometre diameter objects,
events expected at statistical intervals of 100,000 years, is Ŗ120
million per year.  This sum only covers the value of lives lost;
so the costs of property, heritage, commerce etc will
substantially increase the figure. The sum that Spaceguard UK has
recommended be spent by the UK on its contribution to the
international Spaceguard programme amounts to less than 3% of this
figure. Such a contributuin would involve the detection and
follow-up of potentially hazardous objects, studies into the
physical and dynamical properties of asteroids and comets and a
public information service.  An important aspect will be the study
of small objects such as the one that devastated an area the size
of central London in 1908.

The risk of asteroidal or cometary impacts substantially exceeds
the limits of tolerability applied by the Health and Safety
Executive to the nuclear power industry and the transport of
hazardous goods.

Because the impact hazard is international in scope, so must be
the solution. However, there are critical gaps in the current
international (mainly US) system in the conduct of follow-up
observations, the detection of smaller, but still hazardous
objects and the education and informing of the public. It is in
these fields that the UK could make the best contribution.

After discussions with the international NEO research community it
is clear that a British programme designed to address the
shortcomings in the current international system would place the
UK at the forefront of global research into the impact hazard.

The British government's initiative has raised significant
interest in the United States and Europe, and Spaceguard UK
applauds the minister, Lord Sainsbury, on his timely decision to
investigate the most serious natural hazard facing Great Britain.
However, he is no doubt well aware that actions speak louder than

Lembit Opik MP (Lib Dem) and Jonathan Tate, the director of
Spaceguard UK are available for comment, and will be prepared to
discuss the Task Force report in detail from 14.30 in Bournemouth
on 18th September.

Contact details are:

Lembit Opik MP

Tel: 0207 219 1144
J.R. Tate, FRAS
Director, Spaceguard UK
Tel: (Home) 01980 671380
(Work) 01980 675923
(Mobile) 0796 819 5625

CCCMENU CCC for 2000