January 2004 (vol. 20, #2)
1601 N Tucson Blvd #9, Tucson AZ 85716
c 2001 Physicians for Civil Defense


It Started with the Search for Aliens

“Aliens cause global warming,” said Michael Crichton, in all seriousness, in his Caltech Michelin Lecture, Jan. 17, 2003— and also Nuclear Winter, the ban on DDT, and the purported carnage from second-hand smoke.

Instead of being “a candle in a demon-haunted world,” as Carl Sagan described it, science has sometimes been seduced by the ancient lures of politics and publicity. “Some of the demons that haunt our world in recent years are invented by scientists,” Crichton said. (Crichton's lecture, plus his remarks at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, Sept. 15, 2003, are available in TWTW, Dec. 20, 2003, see

The crack in the door—the loosening of the definition of legitimate scientific procedure through which so much pernicious garbage has seeped—was the Drake equation, Crichton suggests. This was presented at the first conference of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI).

The serious-looking equation involves the number of stars in the galaxy, the fraction of stars with planets, the number of planets per star capable of supporting life, the fraction of planets where life evolves, the fraction where intelligent life evolves, and the fraction of intelligent beings that communicate. The problem is that none of the terms are known, and most cannot even be estimated. The only way to work the equation is to fill in guesses—based purely on prejudice.

The report on nuclear winter called TTAPS for the initials of its authors was based on a calculation strikingly similar to the Drake equation, which required estimates that the Office of Technology Assessment said could not be reliably made. The catastrophic predictions, as with global warming, cited “consensus” rather than actual measurements. (The theory was debunked in Access to Energy, 1984-88; a searchable archive on CD-ROM is available from

Computer models, extrapolations (as with the linear no-threshold hypothesis of radiation carcinogenesis), proxies, or highly selected data sets are the rationale for costly and harmful federal regulations that purport to slay fearsome demons.

But recently there is cause for hope.

Junking Junk Science

The internet permits rapid, wide dissemination of information that can do great damage if inaccurate. Primarily in response to increased use of the internet, Congress enacted the Federal Data Quality Act (FDQA) in December 2000 as a two-paragraph provision buried in an appropriations bill.

All federal agencies subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act are directed to issue information quality standards. Data deemed to be “influential” must be “reproducible” to demonstrate its objectivity (For details, see article by Susan Bisong,, search on “DQA.”)

For the first time, Americans will be able to challenge the data used in formulating regulations, instead of just challenging the rules themselves.

High on the list are Clean Air Act regulations that industry took all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled that U.S. industry had no legal grounds to challenge the law (Whitman [formerly Browner] v. American Trucking Associations). Some scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency had put their careers on the line to criticize the data underlying the rules. (See DDP Newsletter 7/98; CDP 9/00; and the amicus brief filed by Assn of American Physicians and Surgeons,

A software glitch that exaggerated the effects of air pollution on human health by as much as 23% was detected two years after the data were released.

Under FDQA, agencies are supposed to have procedures for correcting information. Most legal analysts say that judicial review of final decisions is available, though some disagree.

The first challenge was filed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) concerning the National Assessment on Climate Change (see p. 2). The complaint was withdrawn when the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy acknowledged publicly that the document was “not subjected to OSTP's Information Quality Act guidelines.”

“The record shows that the Clinton White House pressured bureaucrats to rush out an incomplete and inaccurate report despite protests from government scientists,” stated Christopher C. Horner, CEI Senior Fellow. “The government also subsequently confirmed that the two climate models selected for the National Assessment are `outliers' chosen to guarantee extreme results and are incapable of replicating even past climate trends” (see

Current challenges include a request by the Kansas Corn Growers Association to correct information in EPA's Atrazine Environmental Risk Assessment (

The FDQA is a “potential time bomb under all the suspect science that has so permeated public policy in recent times,” writes S. Fred Singer (TWTW 6/8/02,

Challenging the reliance on insider “peer review,” the FDQA could result in a system in which anyone could point out errors in documents and regulations.

With a government-set yardstick for quality, critics of regulations can build convincing cases showing that an agency was arbitrary and capricious. Until now, such lawsuits have generally failed, according to James J. Tozzi, founder of the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness.

Groups such as Public Citizen recognize that the FDQA could slow agencies down. “Opponents of government action to protect the public's health and the environment have latched onto the Data Quality Act...,” stated Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-VT). Radical environmentalist groups are screaming “censorship.” And the Bush Administration, according to CEI, appears to be fighting against judicial enforcement of the FDQA, threatening to emasculate the law in the process.

In the age of Information Technology (IT), can alarmists, who exploit the fears of gullible people apparently ready to believe that E.T. can phone home, defeat efforts to assure that the world's most powerful government must disseminate and use only accurate information in ruling its citizens?

Hormesis: the Dose Makes the Poison

Among the most important data to be disregarded by government scientists is the beneficial effect of low doses of radiation or toxic chemicals. Confronted with a biphasic dose response—such as a benefit at a low dose and harm at a higher dose—“we draw a line to make it go away,” stated Richard Bond, a pharmacist at the University of Houston, Texas (“Sipping From a Poisoned Chalice,” Science 2003;302:376-381).

Hormesis appears to be the rule, not the exception. “I believe there is not a single chemical that does not” exhibit patterns of hormesis, stated Edwin Calabrese, Professor of Toxicology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. It is a general response that is shown with mercury, lead, components of cigarette smoke, cadmium, marijuana, cocaine, alcohol, and “everything that is regulated by the EPA” (Pike J, Insight on the News, 1/6/04).

Calabrese has reviewed 21,000 toxicology studies. In the 195 papers that had data for at least two doses below the no-effect level, hormetic dose-response curves outnumber those showing no effect at the lowest doses by 2.5 to 1.

The effect is “modest but consistent,” typically a 30 to 60% greater response than controls, and covers a wide range of endpoints, including growth rate, number of eggs produced, longevity, and resistance to tumors.

The work of Calabrese is especially credible, Pike writes, because he was the primary proponent of the “single-exposure carcinogen theory.” In the 1990s, his testimony forced the government to spend millions of dollars cleaning a toxic waste site to a much higher standard than previously expected, despite contrary testimony by others.

“My work on hormesis is a little like President Nixon going to China,” Calabrese said (Pike, op cit.).

Dr. Calabrese has agreed to speak at the 2004 DDP meeting in San Diego.


Health Effects of Climate Change

In the Journal of the American Medical Association, physicians are urged to “educate communities about the potential [adverse] impacts of climate change...and participate in policies to decrease dependence on fossil fuels.”

The article asserts that “humans are making unprecedented changes to the global environment.” Effects of climate change include thermal stresses, floods and droughts, possible intensification of el Niño, worsened air pollution, more allergens, the spread of infectious disease, and malnutrition.

“Because of the wide-ranging potential impacts of global warming, a precautionary approach should be taken that seeks to decrease greenhouse gas emissions substantially....” (Haines A, Patz JA. JAMA 2004;291:99-103; also see JAMA 2002;287: 2283-2287 and 2002;296:2158-2162).

Reviewing actual data rather than biological “modeling experiments,” the “latest climate change scenarios,” or “statistical empirical approaches,” the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change presents an extensively referenced report on human health in a CO2-enhanced warmer world (

The report concludes: “Although historical and projected future increaes in the air's CO2 concentration and its wrongly predicted ability to lead to catastrophic global warming have been universally hailed by climate alarmists as diabolically detrimental to human health, scientific studies clearly demonstrate that such is not the case.”

The report examines temperature-induced mortality for cardiovascular, respiratory, and vector-borne diseases and the effects of enhanced CO2 on the quantity and quality of plant life, including protein, antioxidant, and medicinal components. It is clear from the data that annual cold-related deaths are nearly ten times greater than heat-related deaths. Simple plots of mortality rates versus daily temperature show a linear increase in death rate as temperatures decrease from 15 to 0?C, while mortality rates above 15?C were grossly alinear.

The effect of climate on distribution of disease vectors is complicated. For some vectors, warming actually destroys habitat. The net effect of climate change is probably minimal.

The fertilizing effect of CO2 since the Industrial Revolution has greatly enhanced food production. Yields of wheat and other C3 cereals have increased by 60 to 70%, of legumes by 62%, fruits and melons by 33%, root and tuber crops by 67%, and vegetables by 51%.

Sherwood Idso of the Center has been invited to speak at the 2004 DDP meeting.


Climate Change and Extinctions

Citing “one of ecology's few iron-clad laws: the species-area relationship,” Thomas et al. predict massive extinctions—the loss of 1.25 million species—if projected global warming occurs (Nature 2004;426:107-109,145-148).

Robert Ferguson of the Center for Science and Public Policy observes that applying the same method to known climate changes—the comparable temperature increases that have occurred over the past 100 years—offers a convenient “reality check.” There is in fact “absolutely NO evidence for massive climate-related extinctions. (One would think that reviewers of this manuscript would have picked that up!)”

Ferguson criticizes a number of unrealistic assumptions made by Thomas et al. (TWTW 1/24/04,

The “Hockey Stick”

The National Assessment on Climate Change (see p. 1) prominently featured the temperature reconstruction of the past 1,000 years by Mann et al., based on proxy measurements, which purports to show an unprecedented warming trend in the 20th century—the blade of the “hockey stick.” To publish this without the accompanying wide error bars was an “egregious example of scientific misconduct,” stated Patrick Michaels of the University of Virginia.

Using a much larger sample of climate histories, Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas (who will also speak at the 2004 DDP meeting) published a comprehensive study that showed overwhelming evidence of the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age missed by Mann et al. (Climate Research 2003;23:898-110). Six editors had to resign because of failure to censor this politically incorrect paper—although “independent analysis and...independent data sets are ultimately the arbiter of truth” (Muller RA. Technology Review 12/17/03).

Further fueling the debate, Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick demonstrated numerous errors in Mann's paper, including incorrect calculations and unjustified extrapolations (Energy & Environment 2003;14:751-771, available at

As these issues show, politically dominated science tends to junk standards whenever a problem is defined as “urgent.”