Rachel's Democracy & Health News #932

"Environment, health, jobs and justice--Who gets to decide?"

Thursday, November 8, 2007..............Printer-friendly version
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Featured stories in this issue...

Carbon Sequestration
  Carbon sequestration is an industrial plan to bury as much as 10
  trillion tons of carbon dioxide deep in the ground, hoping it will
  stay there forever. Though most people have heard little or nothing
  about this plan, it has already been endorsed by major environmental
  groups, universities, philanthropies and the federal government.
Off Target in the War on Cancer
  The war on cancer remains focused on efforts to develop drugs and
  technologies that can find and treat the disease -- to the tune of
  more than $100 billion a year in the U.S. alone. Meanwhile, the
  struggle basically ignores most of the things known to cause cancer,
  such as tobacco, radiation, sunlight, benzene, asbestos, solvents, and
  some drugs and hormones.
Plastic Component Bisphenol-A, Found in Everyone, Highest in Kids
  A federal government survey of more than 2500 U.S. residents shows
  that nearly everyone in the country carries the industrial chemical
  bisphenol A (BPA) in their bodies and that children carry the highest
Global Warming Gases Set To Rise by 57%
  By 2030, emissions of greenhouse gases will rise by 57% compared to
  current levels, leading to a rise in Earth's surface temperature of at
  least three degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit), the
  International Energy Agency (IEA) now says.
The 'Good Germans' Among Us
  We at Rachel's Democracy & Health News cannot help noticing
  that both Republican and Democratic majorities in Congress, our new
  Attorney General, our Secretary of State, and our President are now
  firmly on record supporting torture, denial of the ancient right of
  habeas corpus, permanent imprisonment at secret locations without
  trial, and clandestine surveillance of routine communication amongst
  the citizenry. Throughout history, these have been the bedrock
  foundations of every police state. From now on, we will be extending
  our news coverage to include these fundamental repudiations of
  democratic principles in the U.S.


From: Rachel's Democracy & Health News #932, Nov. 8, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]


By Peter Montague

In response to a relentless stream of bad news about global warming, a
cluster of major industries has formed a loose partnership with big
environmental groups, prestigious universities, philanthropic
foundations, and the U.S. federal government -- all promoting a
technical quick-fix for global warming called "carbon sequestration."

"Carbon sequestration" is a plan to capture and bury as much as 10
trillion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide deep in the ground, hoping it
will stay there forever. (A ton is 2000 pounds; a metric tonne is 2200
pounds; ten trillion is 10,000,000,000,000.) Though the plan has not
yet received any substantial publicity, it is very far along.

The purpose of the plan is to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide
entering the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil
and natural gas). Carbon dioxide is the most important "greenhouse
gas," which is thought to be contributing to global warming.[1] A
carbon sequestration program would capture the gas, turn it into a
liquid, transport it through a network of pipelines, and pump it into
the ground, intending for it to stay buried forever.

From an industrial perspective, carbon sequestration seems like a
winning strategy. If it succeeded in reducing carbon dioxide emissions
to the atmosphere, it would allow coal and oil firms to retain and
even expand their market share in the energy business throughout the
21st century, eliminating the need for substantial innovation. Carbon
sequestration would also greatly reduce the incentive for Congress to
invest in renewable energy, which competes with coal and oil.
Furthermore, carbon sequestration might deflect the accusation that
the coal and oil corporations bear responsibility (and perhaps even
legal liability) for the major consequences of global warming (more
and bigger hurricanes, droughts, floods, and fires, for example).
Finally, if the carbon sequestration plan were to fail, with grievous
consequences for human civilization, failure would occur decades or
centuries into the future when the current generation of decision-
makers, researchers, philanthropists, and environmental advocates
could no longer be held accountable.

For all these reasons, coal, oil, mining, and automobile corporations,
plus electric utilities, are eager to get carbon sequestration going.

To accomplish their goal, the coal and oil firms are being helped by
researchers at Princeton and Stanford universities, and by the
Joyce Foundation in Chicago, which is underwriting a campaign by
environmental advocates on behalf of industry's plan. Natural
Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Izaak Walton League, the Clean
Air Task Force, the Michigan Environmental Council, and others have
received substantial grants to advocate for carbon sequestration.
Finally, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Stephen
Johnson recently endorsed industry's plan. All the pieces are now in
place and an aggressive campaign is under way to persuade state and
federal legislators to endorse large-scale carbon sequestration.

What's at stake

After trillions of tons of carbon dioxide have been buried in the deep
earth, if even a tiny proportion of it leaks back out into the
atmosphere, the planet could heat rapidly and civilization as we know
it could be disrupted. Quite plausibly the surface of the Earth could
become uninhabitable for humans. Thus, one way or another, the future
of humanity is at stake in the decision whether to endorse carbon
sequestration or to develop the many renewable energy technologies
that are available to eliminate our dependence on carbon-based

Major benefits for the coal industry

To one degree or another, carbon sequestration will benefit all of the
industries involved, allowing them to continue business as usual,
removing the need for substantial innovation, and reducing competition
from renewable fuels. However, it is the coal industry that will
benefit the most. One could argue that, without carbon sequestration,
the coal industry itself cannot survive. Once large-scale carbon
sequestration has begun, the coal industry will be free to unleash an
enormous new enterprise turning coal into liquid fuels. The technology
for coal-to-liquids, or CTL, was fully developed decades ago. CTL was
devised by German chemists in the 1920s, and the Nazis could not have
pursued World War II without it. Unfortunately, coal-to-liquids is an
exceptionally dirty technology that produces twice as much carbon
dioxide per gallon of fuel, compared to petroleum. Carbon
sequestration would bury that extra carbon dioxide in the ground, thus
solving the coal industry's biggest problem, making coal-to-liquids
feasible, and assuring a future for the coal industry itself.

You have perhaps heard the phrase "clean coal." This contradictory
term was coined by carbon sequestration advocates as a public
relations ploy. In "clean coal," the word "clean" is narrowly defined
to mean "coal that contributes less carbon to the atmosphere in the
short term, compared to typical coal combustion."

In actual fact there is nothing clean about "clean coal." Even if
large-scale carbon sequestration begins, the mining and burning of
"clean coal" will continue to destroy hundreds of mountains in
Appalachia, and will continue to pollute the Midwestern and Eastern
states with millions of tons of deadly fine and ultrafine particles of
soot ("fly ash"), plus nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx),
mercury, dioxins, radioactive particles, polycyclic aromatic
hydrocarbons, and so on. Large tonnages of coal bottom ash will still
be buried each year in shallow pits overlying aquifers, creating a
perpetual and growing threat to drinking water supplies. In the
Midwest and West, large tracts of land, and large amounts of scarce
water, would still be contaminated or otherwise made unavailable for
alternative uses. In sum, "clean coal" is an advertising slogan
without substance. Furthermore, if even a small proportion of the
sequestered carbon from "clean coal" ever leaks out of the ground, the
planet could experience runaway global warming.

The danger of tiny leaks

It is important to distinguish between carbon dioxide and carbon
itself. Carbon is an element, one of the 92 naturally-occurring
building blocks of the universe. Carbon dioxide is a chemical compound
made up of one carbon atom attached to two oxygen atoms (CO2). By
weight, carbon dioxide is 27% carbon; in other words, one ton of
elemental carbon will create 3.7 tons of carbon dioxide. Carbon
dioxide is the main "greenhouse gas" thought to be contributing to
global warming.[1]

Before the industrial revolution, there were 580 billion tonnes of
carbon in Earth's atmosphere; today there are 750 billion tonnes (an
increase of 170 billion tonnes, or 29%, since about 1750). Because
humans burn roughly 2% more coal, oil and natural gas each year
(thus doubling total use every 35 years), the carbon buildup in the
atmosphere is accelerating. Presently humans are emitting about eight
billion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere each year, not all of
which is retained there.

Unfortunately, emissions of eight billion tonnes per year are
sufficient to worsen a global warming problem.[1]

The amount of carbon held in underground supplies of coal, oil and
natural gas is very large. By a conservative estimate, worldwide there
are 3510 billion tonnes of carbon remaining underground in coal; 230
billion tonnes of carbon in oil; and another 140 billion tonnes of
carbon in natural gas (plus 250 billion tonnes in peat), for a total
of 4130 billion tonnes of carbon held in fossil fuels globally. If
25% of this were burned and the carbon sequestered, leakage of only
0.8% of the total per year would exceed the current annual human
contribution to atmospheric carbon (eight billion tonnes). And of
course the oil and coal companies plan to burn far more than 25% of
what remains in the ground. Their goal is to burn 100% of it. If they
managed to burn 75% of remaining fuels, then annual leakage of 0.26%
of the total would exceed the current eight billion tonne annual human
contribution to atmospheric carbon. This could eventually lead to
runaway global warming, plausibly rendering the Earth uninhabitable
for humans.

It is now widely believed that humans must cut their carbon emissions
80% by the year 2050 to avert runaway global warming. (Actually,
some now calculate that more than an 80% cut is needed -- but for the
sake of argument, let's accept the lower 80% estimate at face value.)
An 80% reduction from eight billion tonnes would allow humans to emit
only 1.6 billion tonnes of carbon annually to avert runaway global

If we accept this estimate of the carbon reduction needed -- cutting
80% from current levels -- then the allowable leakage must be reduced

** if 25% of remaining fossil carbon is sequestered, any leakage above
0.16% (about one-sixth of one percent) of the total per year could
eventually result in runaway global warming;

** if 75% of remaining fossil carbon is sequestered, then leakage
greater than 0.05% (one-twentieth of one percent) of the total per
year could eventually produce runaway global warming.

Can humans bury several trillion tons of carbon dioxide in the ground
with complete confidence that 0.05% of it will not leak out each year?
Never leak out? The leakage could begin at any time in the far
distant future because the danger would lie buried forever, waiting to
escape, a perpetual threat.

The short-term secondary effects of a carbon sequestration program are
also worth considering.

Once large-scale carbon sequestration begins, it will be exceedingly
difficult to stop. As soon as sequestration begins, the coal and oil
corporations, and the environmental groups and universities advocating
on their behalf, will assert that "carbon sequestration has been
successfully demonstrated." Indeed, the environmental advocates are
making such claims already, based on a very short history of pumping
small amounts of carbon dioxide into oil wells to force more oil to
the surface.[2] But how can anyone "demonstrate" that leakage will 
never occur in the future? Such a demonstration cannot be made.

Furthermore, once the U.S. government begins to repeat the
environmentalists' false claim that carbon sequestration has been
"successfully demonstrated," why would China not adopt it? And India,
countries in Africa, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union --
why wouldn't they adopt it? If we claim a right to threaten the future
of humanity, don't others have an equal right to assert such a claim?

But can other countries devote the same resources we can devote to
siting, engineering and geologic studies? Will they all be able to
monitor for leaks far into the future, essentially forever? (For that
matter, will the U.S. have that capability? Humans have no experience
creating institutions with a duty of perpetual vigilance.)

If the carbon-sequestration advocates can get their program started,
it seems likely that Congress will declare the global warming problem
"solved" and carbon sequestration will be employed until all the
recoverable fossil fuels in the ground have been used up.

If carbon sequestration advocates can get their program going, the
U.S. will have little further incentive to invest in renewable sources
of energy -- and so we stand to lose a unique opportunity to rebuild
the U.S. economy on a sustainable basis and revive America's standing
as an industrial leader in the world. Carbon sequestration, once it
gets started, will allow 19th century energy technologies to dominate
the U.S. throughout most of the 21st century.

In sum, to evade liability, to relieve pressure for innovation, to
stifle competition, and to make a great deal of money, the proponents
of carbon sequestration are betting the future of humans on an
untestable technology -- permanent underground storage -- an
act of hubris unparalleled in the annals of our species.[3]

Minds already made up

But, you may ask, "Doesn't the U.S. have the strongest environmental
protection laws in the world? Surely a vigilant Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) will ask hard questions, and protect us from
the bias of industry's hired experts?"

Last month U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Stephen
Johnson announced that EPA will issue regulations covering
carbon sequestration. However, as he was announcing EPA's intention,
Mr. Johnson issued a ringing endorsement of carbon sequestration as
the silver bullet to fix the nation's environmental and economic
problems: "By harnessing the power of geological sequestration
technology, we are entering a new age of clean energy where we can be
both good stewards of the Earth, and good stewards of the American
economy," Mr. Johnson said. Clearly, Mr. Johnson's mind is already
made up.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) -- which earned its
reputation as a "shadow government" by watchdogging EPA -- now shares
EPA's giddy optimism toward carbon sequestration. In a letter to a
California legislator, NRDC's George Peridas asserts that carbon
sequestration can be "perfectly safe." And NRDC lawyer David Hawkins
was quoted recently saying carbon sequestration can be carried out
with "very very small risks." NRDC has a $437,500 grant from the
Joyce Foundation to promote carbon sequestration on industry's behalf.

Clearly, these "experts" have their minds made up. But many common-
sense questions remain:

** Given that there are many good alternatives, why would humans
accept even a "very very small" risk of making their only home

** And, given that the stakes are exceptionally high, shouldn't we
approach this with a little humility and ask, "What if the experts are
wrong? What if they are fallible and haven't thought of everything?
What if their understanding is imperfect?" After all, geology has
never been a predictive science, and humans have no experience burying
lethal hazards in the ground expecting them to remain there in

** Since everyone alive today -- and all their children and their
children's children far into the future -- could be affected,
shouldn't we have a vigorous international debate on the wisdom of
carbon sequestration versus alternative ways of powering human
economies? Don't we have an obligation to develop a very broad
international consensus before proceeding -- especially among the
nations most likely to be harmed if carbon sequestration fails?

** And finally, give the exceedingly high stakes, the irreversible
nature of carbon sequestration, and the substantial and irreducible
uncertainties involved, isn't this a decision that cries out for
application of the precautionary principle?


[1] Carbon dioxide is the main "greenhouse gas" causing global
warming. As humans burn carbon-containing fuels (coal, oil and natural
gas), carbon in the fuel combines with oxygen in the air to create
carbon dioxide, or CO2. In the air, CO2 acts like the glass roof on a
greenhouse -- it lets in sunlight, which is converted into heat energy
as it strikes the earth. When the heat energy radiates back into the
sky, CO2 in the atmosphere acts like a mirror, reflecting heat back
down to earth, warming the planet just as a glass roof warms a
greenhouse. Global warming from this "greenhouse effect" was first
described by Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius in 1896.

[2] Thirty-five million tons of CO2 are being pumped into depleted oil
wells in Texas each year, to force oil to the surface. Thirty-five
million is 0.00035 percent of ten trillion. Scaling up a 35 megaton
operation by a factor of 285,000 is not a trivial problem but this is
not mentioned by industry's advocates who are trying to persuade
legislators to endorse large-scale carbon sequestration.

[3] Another human act that demonstrated similar hubris by a small
technical elite was the explosion of the first A-bomb at the Trinity
Site in southern New Mexico July 16, 1945. That morning, the Los
Alamos scientists involved were not sure that the Bomb would work, but
they also had a side-bet going among themselves because they were
unsure whether the Bomb, if it did work, wouldn't ignite the Earth's

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From: The Washington Post (pg. B1), Nov. 4, 2007
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By Devra Davis

[Devra Davis's most recent book is The Secret History of the War on

We've been fighting the war on cancer for almost four decades now,
since President Richard M. Nixon officially launched it in 1971. It's
time to admit that our efforts have often targeted the wrong enemies
and used the wrong weapons.

Throughout the industrial world, the war on cancer remains focused on
commercially fueled efforts to develop drugs and technologies that can
find and treat the disease -- to the tune of more than $100 billion a
year in the United States alone. Meanwhile, the struggle basically
ignores most of the things known to cause cancer, such as tobacco,
radiation, sunlight, benzene, asbestos, solvents, and some drugs and
hormones. Even now, modern cancer-causing agents such as gasoline
exhaust, pesticides and other air pollutants are simply deemed the
inevitable price of progress.

They're not. Scientists understand that most cancer is not born but
made. Although identical twins start life with amazingly similar
genetic material, as adults they do not develop the same cancers. As
with most of us, where they live and work and the habits that they
develop do more to determine their health than their genes do.
Americans in their 20s today carry around in their bodies levels of
some chemicals that can impair their ability to produce healthy
children -- and increase the chances that those children will develop

Consider the icon of American cancer, the cyclist Lance Armstrong.
He's hardly alone as an inspiring younger survivor. Of the 10 million
American cancer survivors who are alive five years after their
diagnosis, about one in 10 is younger than 40. Could exposure to
radiation and obesity-promoting chemicals help explain why, according
to a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the rates
of the testicular cancer that Armstrong developed nearly doubled in
most industrialized countries in the past three decades? Should we
wait to find out?

I'm calling for prudence and prevention, not panic. The Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Working Group
have confirmed that American children are being born with dozens of
chemicals in their bodies that did not exist just two decades earlier,
including toxic flame retardants from fabrics. A new study by Barbara
Cohn and other scientists at the Public Health Institute in Berkeley,
Calif., finds that girls exposed to elevated levels of the pesticide
DDT before age 14 are five times more likely to develop breast cancer
when they reach middle age.

Yes, the war has had some important successes: Cancer deaths in the
United States are finally dropping, chiefly because of badly belated
(and still poorly supported) efforts to curb smoking, reductions in
the levels of some pollutants and significant advances in the control
of cancers of the breast, colon, prostate and cervix. But new cases of
cancer not linked to smoking or aging are on the rise, such as cancer
in children and non-Hodgkin lymphoma in people older than 55. And
according to the CDC, cancer is the No. 2 cause of death for children
and middle-age people, second only to accidents. The longer view is
troubling: The National Cancer Institute reports that from 1950 to
2001, the number of cancers of the bone marrow, the bladder and the
liver doubled.

Both public health and social justice demand that we focus more on the
things that cause cancer. For example, blacks and other minorities
still die of many forms of cancer more often than do whites. Could
this be tied to the fact that so many African Americans hold blue-
collar jobs, which may bring them into contact with carcinogens? Or
because poor blacks are more likely to live in polluted neighborhoods,
or eat diets higher in cancer-causing fats? We can't say, and we're
not even trying to find out. The vast cancer-fighting enterprise has
decidedly different priorities.

Even our triumphs in battling cancer can leave us with tragic
shortcomings. Consider one irony of oncology: Many of the agents that
can so effectively rout cancer early in life, such as chemotherapy and
radiation, can also increase the risks of falling prey to other forms
of the disease later on. According to a study in the Journal of the
Royal Society of Medicine, one out of every three girls treated with
radiation before age 16 to arrest Hodgkin's disease -- a cancer of the
lymphatic system that often occurs in young people -- will develop
breast cancer by age 40. Of course, many cancers in children and young
adults might have been avoided in the first place without earlier
exposure to cancer-causing agents.

We also need to weigh the downsides of the way we use radiation today
to find problems in the healthy public, especially the young. A
consensus statement from the American College of Radiology notes that
"the current annual collective dose estimate from medical exposure in
the United States has been calculated as roughly equivalent to the
total worldwide collective dose generated by the nuclear catastrophe
at Chernobyl."

Most parents (and many emergency-medicine physicians) don't know that
a single CT scan of a child's head can deliver the same radioactive
dose as that in 200 to 6,000 chest X-rays. Some pediatric experts
recommend that CT scans of children be restricted to medical
emergencies and kept at doses as low as reasonably possible. Even so,
according to the American College of Radiology, the use of CT scans
has jumped tenfold in the past decade -- a change that stems from the
profitability and growth of "defensive medicine," and one that has not
resulted in any improvement in our overall health that I can discern.

The Food and Drug Administration, the Consumer Product Safety
Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency often lack the
authority and resources to monitor and control tobacco smoke,
asbestos, tanning salons and the cancer-causing agents in food, water
and the everyday products we use on our bodies and in our homes. Under
antiquated laws, chemical and radiation hazards are examined one at a
time, if at all. Of the nearly 80,000 chemicals regularly bought and
sold today, according to the National Academy of Sciences, fewer than
10 percent have been tested for their capacity to cause cancer or do
other damage.

As a result of these policy failures, the United States often stands
alone -- and not in a good way. Unlike Italy, Ireland, France,
Albania, Argentina, Uruguay and many other countries, the United
States has failed to ban smoking in public spaces nationwide. Unlike
European children, American kids are exposed to small levels of known
carcinogens in their food, air, shampoos, bubble baths and skin creams
-- such as the clear, colorless liquid known as "1, 4-dioxane," a
common contaminant that causes cancer in animals and has been banned
from cosmetics by the European Union.

In fact, our growing dependence on many unstudied modern conveniences
makes us the subjects of vast, uncontrolled experiments to which none
of us ever consents. Consider cellphones, whose long-term health
consequences could prove disastrous. Experimental findings show that
cellphone radiation damages living cells and can penetrate the skull.
Widely publicized research on cellphone use in the early 1990s
indicates that the phones are safe, but those studies did not include
any children and excluded all business users. While exposure levels
are much lower on newer phones, the effects of gadgets that have
increasingly become part of our children's lives remain unstudied.

That's unwise. Recent reports from Sweden and France, published in the
journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, reveal that adults
who have used cellphones for 10 years or more have twice as much brain
cancer on the side of their heads most frequently exposed to the
phone. The Swiss and Chinese governments have set official exposure
limits for cellphone microwave emissions that are 500 times lower than
those the United States mandates. In Bangalore, India, it is illegal
to sell a cellphone to a child younger than 16. As a basic precaution,
people should use the phones with earpieces or speakers, and young
children should not use them at all -- consistent with warnings
recently issued by the German and British governments. Because brain
cancer can take 10 years or longer to develop, national statistics
cannot be expected to show the health impact of today's skyrocketing
cellphone use. But we shouldn't wait for the cases to roll in before

True, there are many uncertainties about environmental cancer hazards.
But these doubts should not be confused with proof that environmental
factors are harmless. The confusion arises for three different
reasons. First, studying the ways that our surroundings affect our
cancers is genuinely hard. Second, public and private funding levels
for research and control of environmental cancer are scandalously low.
Finally, those who profit from the continued use of some risky
technologies have devised well-financed efforts to sow doubt about
many modern hazards, taking their cue from the machinations of the
tobacco industry. The best crafted public relations campaigns
masquerade as independent scientific information from unimpeachable

No matter how much our efforts to treat cancer may advance, the best
way to reduce cancer's toll is to keep people from getting it. We need
to join the rest of the industrialized world by issuing a national ban
on asbestos and forbidding smoking in the workplace and other public
spaces. We must reduce the hazards faced by those working to build our
homes, transport our goods and make the products we consume. We should
restrict CT scans of children to medical emergencies, limit the use of
diagnostic radiation in general, ban young children from using
cellphones and keep the rest of us from using tanning beds. And we
must recognize that pollutants do not need passports. Controlling
cancer, like controlling global warming, can take place only on an
international scale. We can -- and must -- do better.


Devra Davis, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate
School of Public Health, directs the Center for Environmental
Oncology. Her most recent book is "The Secret History
of the War on Cancer."

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From: Environmental Science & Technology, Nov. 7, 2007
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By Naomi Lubick

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey of more than
2500 U.S. residents shows that nearly everyone in the country carries
bisphenol A (BPA) in their bodies and that children carry the highest

The chemical, used in plastics and food containers, acts as an
endocrine disrupter. It has been shown to lead to obesity, depressed
growth rates, and prostate cancer in laboratory animals, according to
recent reviews by a National Institute of Environmental Health
Sciences (NIEHS) panel.

Led by Antonia Calafat of CDC's National Center for Environmental
Health, researchers analyzed samples collected during the National
Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) of 2003-2004. The
team reported online October 24 in Environmental Health Perspectives
that concentrations of a BPA metabolite in urine ranged from 0.4 to
149 micrograms per liter (micrograms/L), with an average of 2.6
micrograms/L. The
researchers also established that children carry "significantly
higher" BPA concentrations than adolescents, who in turn have higher
levels than adults.

The new data suggest that people's everyday exposures to BPA are
higher than the no-harm level (50 micrograms/L) set by the U.S. EPA,
Frederick vom Saal, a University of Missouri Columbia BPA specialist
who served on the NIEHS panel. Animal studies indicate that an
exposure dose would be about 10 times the amount found in blood and
urine measurements. The observations from NHANES are also "disturbing
in that it confirms without a doubt that the youngest are most at
risk," he says. Babies probably have the highest BPA levels, but
NHANES only includes children 6 years and older.

The release of the CDC's analysis means that the BPA data and
accompanying behavioral survey information are available to
epidemiologists for the first time, giving them an opportunity to
tease apart the effects of lifestyle and BPA exposure.

Copyright 2007 American Chemical Society

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From: Industry Week, Nov. 8, 2007
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Greenhouse-gas pollution will rise by 1.8% annually by 2030

By Agence France-Presse

By 2030, emissions of greenhouse gases will rise by 57% compared to
current levels, leading to a rise in Earth's surface temperature of at
least three degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit), the
International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Nov. 7.

In its annual report on global energy needs, the agency projected
greenhouse-gas pollution would rise by 1.8% annually by 2030 on the
basis of projected energy use and current efforts to mitigate

The IEA saw scant chance of bringing this pollution down to a stable,
safer level any time soon. It poured cold water on a scenario
sketched earlier this year by the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN's paramount authority on global
warming and its effects.

The IPCC said that to limit the average increase in global
temperatures to 2.4 C (4.3 F) -- the most optimistic of any of its
scenarios -- the concentration of greenhouse gases would have to
stabilize at 450 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide (CO2) in
the atmosphere. The IPCC warned that, to achieve this goal, CO2
emissions would have to peak by 2015 at the latest and then fall
between 50% and 85% by 2050. But the 2007 edition of the IEA's World
Energy Outlook saw no peak in emissions before 2020.

To achieve the 450 ppm target would mean that CO2 from energy sources
would have to peak by 2012, and this would require a massive drive in
energy efficiency and switch to non-fossil fuels, the report said.
"Emissions savings (would have to) come from improved efficiency in
fossil-fuel use in industry, buildings and transport, switching to
nuclear power and renewables, and the widespread deployment of CO2
capture and storage in power generation and industry," the IEA said.

By 2030, the biggest polluters would be China, the U.S., India, Russia
and Japan, the IEA said.

In a report issued this year, the IPCC said that since 1900, the mean
global atmospheric temperature had risen by 0.8 C (1.44 F) and levels
of CO2, which account for about three-quarters of greenhouse-gas
output, are now at their highest in 650,000 years. This temperature
rise has already caused glaciers, snow and ice cover to fall back
sharply in alpine regions, reduced the scope of Arctic sea ice and
caused Siberian and Canadian permafrost to retreat. By 2100, global
average surface temperatures could rise by between 1.1 C (1.98 F) and
6.4 C (11.52 F) compared to 1980-99 levels, the IPCC said. Heatwaves,
flooding, drought, tropical storms and surges in sea level are among
the events expected to become more frequent, more widespread and/or
more intense this century, the scientists said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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From: New York Times, Oct. 14, 2007
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By Frank Rich

"Bush lies" doesn't cut it anymore. It's time to confront the darker
reality that we are lying to ourselves.

Ten days ago The Times unearthed yet another round of secret
Department of Justice memos countenancing torture. President Bush
gave his standard response: "This government does not torture
people." Of course, it all depends on what the meaning of "torture"
is. The whole point of these memos is to repeatedly recalibrate the
definition so Mr. Bush can keep pleading innocent.

By any legal standards except those rubber-stamped by Alberto
Gonzales, we are practicing torture, and we have known we are doing so
ever since photographic proof emerged from Abu Ghraib more than three
years ago. As Andrew Sullivan, once a Bush cheerleader, observed last
weekend in The Sunday Times of London, America's "enhanced
interrogation" techniques have a grotesque provenance: "Verscharfte
Vernehmung, enhanced or intensified interrogation, was the exact term
innovated by the Gestapo to describe what became known as the 'third
degree.' It left no marks. It included hypothermia, stress positions
and long-time sleep deprivation."

Still, the drill remains the same. The administration gives its alibi
(Abu Ghraib was just a few bad apples). A few members of Congress
squawk. The debate is labeled "politics." We turn the page.

There has been scarcely more response to the similarly recurrent story
of apparent war crimes committed by our contractors in Iraq. Call me
cynical, but when Laura Bush spoke up last week about the human
rights atrocities in Burma, it seemed less an act of selfless
humanitarianism than another administration maneuver to change the
subject from its own abuses.

As Mrs. Bush spoke, two women, both Armenian Christians, were gunned
down in Baghdad by contractors underwritten by American taxpayers. On
this matter, the White House has been silent. That incident followed
the Sept. 16 massacre in Baghdad's Nisour Square, where 17 Iraqis
were killed by security forces from Blackwater USA, which had already
been implicated in nearly 200 other shooting incidents since 2005.
There has been no accountability. The State Department, Blackwater's
sugar daddy for most of its billion dollars in contracts, won't even
share its investigative findings with the United States military and
the Iraqi government, both of which have deemed the killings

The gunmen who mowed down the two Christian women worked for a Dubai-
based company managed by Australians, registered in Singapore and
enlisted as a subcontractor by an American contractor headquartered in
North Carolina. This is a plot out of "Syriana" by way of "Chinatown."
There will be no trial. We will never find out what happened. A new
bill passed by the House to regulate contractor behavior will have
little effect, even if it becomes law in its current form.

We can continue to blame the Bush administration for the horrors of
Iraq -- and should. Paul Bremer, our post-invasion viceroy and the
recipient of a Presidential Medal of Freedom for his efforts,
issued the order that allows contractors to elude Iraqi law, a folly
second only to his disbanding of the Iraqi Army. But we must also
examine our own responsibility for the hideous acts committed in our
name in a war where we have now fought longer than we did in the one
that put Verscharfte Vernehmung on the map.

I have always maintained that the American public was the least
culpable of the players during the run-up to Iraq. The war was sold by
a brilliant and fear-fueled White House propaganda campaign designed
to stampede a nation still shellshocked by 9/11. Both Congress and the
press -- the powerful institutions that should have provided the
checks, balances and due diligence of the administration's case --
failed to do their job. Had they done so, more Americans might have
raised more objections. This perfect storm of democratic failure began
at the top.

As the war has dragged on, it is hard to give Americans en masse a
pass. We are too slow to notice, let alone protest, the calamities
that have followed the original sin.

In April 2004, Stars and Stripes first reported that our troops were
using makeshift vehicle armor fashioned out of sandbags, yet when a
soldier complained to Donald Rumsfeld at a town meeting in Kuwait
eight months later, he was successfully pilloried by the right. Proper
armor procurement lagged for months more to come. Not until early this
year, four years after the war's first casualties, did a Washington
Post investigation finally focus the country's attention on the
shoddy treatment of veterans, many of them victims of inadequate
armor, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other military

We first learned of the use of contractors as mercenaries when four
Blackwater employees were strung up in Falluja in March 2004, just
weeks before the first torture photos emerged from Abu Ghraib. We
asked few questions. When reports surfaced early this summer that
our contractors in Iraq (180,000, of whom some 48,000 are believed
to be security personnel) now outnumber our postsurge troop strength,
we yawned. Contractor casualties and contractor-inflicted casualties
are kept off the books.

It was always the White House's plan to coax us into a blissful
ignorance about the war. Part of this was achieved with the usual
Bush-Cheney secretiveness, from the torture memos to the prohibition
of photos of military coffins. But the administration also invited our
passive complicity by requiring no shared sacrifice. A country that
knows there's no such thing as a free lunch was all too easily
persuaded there could be a free war.

Instead of taxing us for Iraq, the White House bought us off with tax
cuts. Instead of mobilizing the needed troops, it kept a draft off the
table by quietly purchasing its auxiliary army of contractors to
finesse the overstretched military's holes. With the war's entire
weight falling on a small voluntary force, amounting to less than 1
percent of the population, the rest of us were free to look the other
way at whatever went down in Iraq.

We ignored the contractor scandal to our own peril. Ever since Falluja
this auxiliary army has been a leading indicator of every element of
the war's failure: not only our inadequate troop strength but also our
alienation of Iraqi hearts and minds and our rampant outsourcing to
contractors rife with Bush-Cheney cronies and campaign contributors.
Contractors remain a bellwether of the war's progress today. When
Blackwater was briefly suspended after the Nisour Square
catastrophe, American diplomats were flatly forbidden from leaving the
fortified Green Zone. So much for the surge's great "success" in
bringing security to Baghdad.

Last week Paul Rieckhoff, an Iraq war combat veteran who directs Iraq
and Afghanistan Veterans of America, sketched for me the apocalypse
to come. Should Baghdad implode, our contractors, not having to answer
to the military chain of command, can simply "drop their guns and go
home." Vulnerable American troops could be deserted by those "who
deliver their bullets and beans."

This potential scenario is just one example of why it's in our
national self-interest to attend to Iraq policy the White House counts
on us to ignore. Our national character is on the line too. The
extralegal contractors are both a slap at the sovereignty of the self-
governing Iraq we supposedly support and an insult to those in uniform
receiving as little as one-sixth the pay. Yet it took mass death in
Nisour Square to fix even our fleeting attention on this long-
metastasizing cancer in our battle plan.

Similarly, it took until December 2005, two and a half years after
"Mission Accomplished," for Mr. Bush to feel sufficient public
pressure to acknowledge the large number of Iraqi casualties in the
war. Even now, despite his repeated declaration that "America will
not abandon the Iraqi people," he has yet to address or intervene
decisively in the tragedy of four million-plus Iraqi refugees, a
disproportionate number of them children. He feels no pressure from
the American public to do so, but hey, he pays lip service to Darfur.

Our moral trajectory over the Bush years could not be better
dramatized than it was by a reunion of an elite group of two dozen
World War II veterans in Washington this month. They were participants
in a top-secret operation to interrogate some 4,000 Nazi prisoners of
war. Until now, they have kept silent, but America's recent record
prompted them to talk to The Washington Post.

"We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess
or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture," said Henry Kolm,
90, an M.I.T. physicist whose interrogation of Rudolf Hess, Hitler's
deputy, took place over a chessboard. George Frenkel, 87, recalled
that he "never laid hands on anyone" in his many interrogations,
adding, "I'm proud to say I never compromised my humanity."

Our humanity has been compromised by those who use Gestapo tactics in
our war. The longer we stand idly by while they do so, the more we
resemble those "good Germans" who professed ignorance of their own
Gestapo. It's up to us to wake up our somnambulant Congress to
challenge administration policy every day. Let the war's last
supporters filibuster all night if they want to. There is nothing left
to lose except whatever remains of our country's good name.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

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