General Science

Out of the wildfire and into the flood – Arizona Summer 2017

After several quiet years, Arizona has had a very active wildfire season. Halfway through 2017, just over 352,000 acres have been burned in Arizona by wildfires of >100 acres in size (Inciweb for Arizona: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/state/3/). This was the worst fire season since the record burns of 2011, and is almost 4 times as many acres burned than in 2013 (Table 1; Southwest Coordination Center: https://gacc.nifc.gov/swcc, accessed July 12, 2017). While the worst part of the fire season is likely behind us, based on recent years we can expect to see more wildfires in the fall. Most of the 2017 burned acreage has been on land managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), followed by Arizona State lands (AZFD), Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

As the monsoon season ramps up, it is time to be cognizant of potential post-fire flooding and debris flows. Both floods and debris flows pose significant hazards to human health, property and infrastructure, and both carry a significant amount of sediment, woody material and rocks. Debris flows can be more dangerous, however, as they resemble slurries of dense, fast-moving concrete that carry more sediment and woody debris and larger caliber rocks (maybe up to basketball sized rocks in floods and car or truck sized boulders in debris flows).

Wildfires significantly impact watershed hydrology, causing much more runoff to occur and frequently triggering post-fire floods and debris flows. In the absence of wildfire, unburned vegetation intercepts raindrops, mitigating the impacts of high-velocity drops on soils. Depending on the burn severity of the wildfire, interception of rainfall by plants can be severely reduced or completely eliminated. At the same time, infiltration of water into the soil is impeded by the presence of ash and fire-related changes to soils (e.g. hyper-dry soils, hydrophobicity, and the destruction of organic matter). These changes result in increased runoff volumes and velocities such that smaller, short-lived monsoon storms can generate tremendous runoff, flooding, and debris flows, and do a huge amount of geomorphic work (i.e. erosion and transportation of sediment) in a very short period of time.

Post by Ann Youberg

Read more at: http://arizonageology.blogspot.com/2017/07/out-of-wildfire-and-into-flood-arizona.html

Will Trump rein in regulation?

Have we just witnessed a second American revolution; one that repudiates the policies of the political establishment of both Republicans and Democrats? We had a hint of this when Trump beat out establishment Republicans in the primary.

Trump will have much to deal with. In this article I will concentrate on the EPA, an agency whose regulations have trampled private property rights, and killed much inexpensive electricity generation.

What if, in his inaugural address, Trump were to issue an executive order that says something like “no federal agency shall regulate carbon dioxide emissions from burning of fossil fuels and all existing regulations to that effect are null and void?” Even the EPA admits that the possible effect on climate of its “Clean Power Plan” is prevention of just 0.03°C by the year 2100. That would be a great positive step in quelling the climate madness. It would also boost our economy. EPA regulations on particulate matter have no basis in science (see references below).

The EPA itself could be phased out and replaced by the environmental agencies of each state.

The EPA’s “Waters of the United States” rule (WOTUS, see here and here) impacts private property rights because the rule has become so invasive that it regulates every puddle and rill that may occur on or pass through a property.

In addition to the above:

The U.S. should withdrawal from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, from the Paris climate agreement and from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC). These agencies and agreements suck money and provide no benefit. In the thousands of pages from reports by the IPCC, they have never produced any physical evidence that carbon dioxide emissions play a significant role in controlling global temperature.

The U.S. should also terminate all federal government subsidies for climate change research and for “renewable” energy. Let the solar and wind turbine companies test the demand for their product on the free market without any artificial markets produced by mandates and subsidies.

Endangered species listings based on projected climate change should be rescinded. In fact, the Endangered Species act should be amended or replaced with something that is more science-based and provides a positive incentive for conservation.

I hope Trump can “drain the swamp” and make the government serve the people once again.

 

See also:

EPA Clean Power Plan is Junk Science

EPA’s own human experiments debunk health claims

EPA claims on dangers of particulate matter are false

EPA Clean Power Plan is Junk Science

Replace the Environmental Protection Agency

EPA targets wrong cause of haze in Grand Canyon

The Flaws in the Endangered Species Act

 

 

Science in Trouble

Science, as practiced today, is in trouble mainly because of money and politics. Much grant money flows from government which seeks results that will confirm the current political orthodoxy. And there are many willing takers.

A good scientist is always skeptical, but often that skepticism may be a career breaker. You as a reader should also be skeptical when a new Study claims this or that. This is especially true in the fields of climate and medical research.

Below are introductions to five articles dealing with the trouble with science today.

Annals Of Fake, Politicized “Science”

by Francis Menton

If you have never read President Dwight Eisenhower’s January 1961 farewell address, you should. It’s not long. He clearly foresaw the oncoming unchecked expansion of the federal government, and the associated dangers. The famous passage deals with the risks to science from the new-found gusher of federal grant spending:

A steadily increasing share [of scientific research] is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government. Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. . . . The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

Fast-forward 55 years, and we are deep in the dystopia that Eisenhower foresaw. In science today, government funding is everything, and control of it empowers orthodoxy enforcement and the banishment of skeptics and dissenters — the antithesis of science. Many examples can be cited of science gone completely off the rails through the perverse incentives of government monopoly funding. But really, nothing can top the hysteria — underwritten by tens of billions of dollars of annual federal spending — of the climate change machine. Read more

Advocacy research, incentives and the practice of science

by Dr. Judith Curry

There is a problem with the practice of science. Because of poor scientific practices, and improper incentives, few papers with useful scientific findings are published in leading journals. The problem appears to be growing due to funding for advocacy research.

Funding for researchers is often provided to gain support for a favored hypothesis. Researchers are also rewarded for finding evidence that supports hypotheses favored by senior colleagues. These incentives leads to what we call “advocacy research,” an approach that is contrary to the definition of science. In addition, university researchers are typically rewarded with selection and promotion on the basis of their performance against measures that have the effect of distracting them from doing useful scientific research. Read more

Politics and the Changing Norms of Science

by Lucas Bergkamp

“The politician is sometimes tempted to encroach on the normal territory of the scientific estate. In such issues the problem is less often whether politics will presume to dictate to science than it is how much politics is to be influenced by the new findings of science.”

The climate change debate has exposed a deeper problem with our science and scientific knowledge. The problem is not that science is unable to answer all of our questions. Rather, the problem is that the body politic has come to see science as an instrument to pass on ‘hot potatoes,’ i.e. complex issues raising a large range of empirical questions and implicating important value judgments. Scientists have failed to point out the limits of science and to bounce the ball back to the politicians. In the market for ‘evidence’ for policy making, politicians demand arguments for their desired policies, which scientists supply in the form of research and reports. Their research, however, does little to resolve the policy issues faced by the body politic, and does not advance social progress. Climate science is the poster child of these developments. Read more

Peer Review, Why skepticism is essential

by Donna Laframboise

Peer-reviewed research is reliable, so the reasoning goes. Non-peer-reviewed research is not. The IPCC makes exclusive use of the former, therefore its conclusions can be trusted.* This argument has long been used to deflect criticism and to repel contrary climate perspectives.

But behind it lies a dubious assumption: that academic publications are a sound foundation on which to base real-world decisions. In fact, science is currently in the grip of a ’reproducibility crisis’ so severe that the editor of a prominent journal has declared that ‘much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue’. Media coverage declaring that ’science is broken’ has become commonplace. Read report (40 pages)

*In her book, Laframboise shows that in fact, about 28% of sources used by the IPCC were from magazine articles, press releases, and unpublished papers. (See book review)

 The 7 biggest problems facing science, according to 270 scientists

by Julia Belluz, Brad Plumer, and Brian Resnick

In the past several years, many scientists have become afflicted with a serious case of doubt — doubt in the very institution of science.

The scientific process, in its ideal form, is elegant: Ask a question, set up an objective test, and get an answer. Repeat. Science is rarely practiced to that ideal. But Copernicus believed in that ideal. So did the rocket scientists behind the moon landing.

Today, scientists’ success often isn’t measured by the quality of their questions or the rigor of their methods. It’s instead measured by how much grant money they win, the number of studies they publish, and how they spin their findings to appeal to the public.

Scientists often learn more from studies that fail. But failed studies can mean career death. So instead, they’re incentivized to generate positive results they can publish. And the phrase “publish or perish” hangs over nearly every decision. Read more

Read also: On consensus in science

War on the Range – Ranchers versus Mesquite

 

mesquite-at-baboquivari

Southern Arizona ranchers have been battling mesquite trees for almost 100 years. The principal reason is that mesquite trees and shrubs suck up the water and thereby degrade the range making it less suitable for raising livestock. It also makes the grasslands less accommodating to wildlife.

Mesquite is a very hardy plant that produces an abundance of seed pods. The seeds and pods are collected and stored by rodents. Many animals, including livestock and deer, eat the seed pods, but the seeds themselves pass through undigested and are deposited with some fertilizer.

The problem as described to me by a southern Arizona rancher:

Southern Arizona is characterized by intermittent drought. This results in marked death loss of the perennial forage grasses, however, drought seldom causes death of whole mesquite plants. Mesquite have a long tap root enabling it to reach underground moisture and can tolerate drought. Grasses do not have that advantage. As the tree grows it demands more moisture. The result is each year, depending on the rainfall, less and less forage is produced as the tree shades the ground and quickly takes up the moisture. As the mesquite grow, noxious plants also become established with their deeper roots which make them drought resistant. These include burroweed and snakeweed. These also crowd out grass. As the ground is bare, when a heavy rain falls there is not grass and grass roots to hold the soil so erosion becomes an issue.

According to University of Arizona Technical Bulletin 74, published in 1938:

Certain range lands of the grassland type in southern Arizona are undergoing an invasion by the mesquite tree and noxious shrubs to the extent that the native stand of palatable forage is being materially reduced. The development of this problem has taken place at a pace gradual enough that its seriousness was not fully realized by stockmen until the cumulative effects of some forty years’ transition in the vegetation type of the affected areas became increasingly apparent.

The report goes on to discuss various methods of mesquite eradication including use of petroleum products, arsenic, acid sprays, and other chemical means. These methods proved ultimately ineffective. Petroleum did not kill the roots so the mesquite soon sprouted new growth. The chemicals remained on the stumps and were thus dangerous to livestock and wildlife. Burning individual trees was also ineffective. Only sodium arsenite solution would kill the roots, but it was difficult to prepare and handle.

The US Department of Agriculture weighed in with Circular 908 published in 1952:

One of the most serious and perplexing problems in southeastern Arizona is mesquite invasion of grasslands. Mesquite occurs there in varying degrees of abundance on 9 million acres of range land. The problem is likewise serious elsewhere in the Southwest. Mesquite is now firmly established on considerably more than 70 million acres of range in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. An estimated half of the area now occupied by mesquite has been invaded since the advent of domestic livestock. The increase of mesquite is viewed with ever-increasing alarm by range operators.

The principal reasons for concern are : (1) Mesquite, even under moderate grazing use, is still persistently increasing both by invading open grassland and by thickening of old stands. (2) Cutting mesquite, especially in bottom-land areas, usually results in an impenetrable thicket of sprout regrowth and new seedlings. In many of these “jungles,” grazing has had to be abandoned. (3) Livestock handling costs are increased, especially in dense upland mesquite thickets where it is difficult to gather livestock for market or to find screwworm-infested animals for treatment. (4) Increases in mesquite are usually accompanied by decreases in quantity and quality of perennial grass forage and corresponding reductions in livestock production. (5) Still more serious from a long-time viewpoint is the accelerated erosion generally found on uplands as well as bottom lands wherever mesquite has encroached.

The USDA further opines on the cause of the mesquite invasion:

The probability is that neither protection nor heavy grazing has much to do with the increase of shrubs here, but it is primarily the direct result of the prevention of fires.

I spoke with several ranchers who are battling mesquite in southern Arizona. For many years they have been using mechanical means to cut the trees and shrubs and digging out the roots. They try to remove at least 80% of the mesquite. Studies at the Santa Rita Experimental Range show that removing about 80% and leaving some mature trees makes the range more amenable to wildlife than thick mesquite stands or open range.

Before removal work can be done, the ranchers have to make surveys for endangered species such as the Pima Pineapple Cactus, which was listed in 1993 (and there is still no recovery plan). They also have to survey for cultural resources.

The mechanical method means bulldozers to knock down the trees and dig up the roots. One rancher told me it costs $300-$400 per acre and can get only one acre per hour. This is an expensive and tedious operation.

More recently, ranchers have been experimenting with chemical warfare again. Dow Chemical has developed an herbicide that is specific for mesquite. It is deployed by helicopter spraying. This costs about $106 per acre and can cover 80 acres per hour. This is similar to crop dusting operations used on farms.

The ranchers say another main reason for mesquite removal is to reduce soil erosion and restore native grasses. Since chemical removal has begun, ranchers have noticed return of many native grass species.

After reading a version of this article published in the Arizona Daily Independent, another southern Arizona rancher send me these comments:

Mesquite proliferation can be a problem, but they multiply and then decrease quite apart from grazing. It’s fairly cyclic and occurs even where no grazing has occurred (there’s a very deep and large area surrounded by cliffs in Mexico–never grazed–where scientists measured mesquite increase. It increased at the same rate as in the grazed pastures elsewhere.

Mesquites do consume a lot of water and at greater than 20% cover they are problematic, however, at lower than 20% overall, they are a major feed item for both cattle and wildlife–the beans are highly nutritious and so are the leaves. Also, they make a rich, nitrogen-enhanced (they are nitrogen fixers) soil beneath the tree which grows and maintains good native perennials, just so long as the tree cover is not beyond 20-30% and sunlight reaches the area below the tree for some good part of the day. Shade is also good! The upshot is: these trees are natives and are highly adapted to this climate; they have significant value for both wildlife and cattle as forage and as shade for natives that prefer less direct sun like plains bristlegrass and viney mesquite (that’s a grass in spite of the name) and others.

Here we are not at war with mesquites; however there are areas where their density exceeds desirable. Right now the cost of control (just private land–forget trying to do anything on federally managed land) and the issues with flood plains or critical habitat for assorted species are overwhelming and make constructive control financially impractical.

The screw worm issue mentioned in that 1952 publication is past tense; screw worms were effectively controlled decades ago by the propagation and dissemination of sterile male screw worms by the federal govt. and ranchers. It used to be a huge problem in the summer–now not, We can only surmise that such control would be met by howls of opposition from those who would prefer not to eradicate pest insects.

Controlling mesquite makes the range more productive, saves water, and benefits wildlife.

 

For information on traditional use of mesquite trees see:

Mesquite trees provide food, fuel, medicine, and more

 

Private Property Rights vs Environmental Feudalism

We have seen, especially over the last 40 years, a determined assault on private property rights. It is not coincidental that the passing of the Endangered Species Act marks the beginning of this period. Preservationist groups have accomplished through government coercion what they could not get people to do voluntarily. Increasingly, the cost of perceived societal goals are not borne by society as a whole, but by individual property owners. This situation is nothing more than legal plunder, or as Frederic Bastiat put it, “See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.”

The U.S. Constitution states that “..nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.” The problem of late, is that the definition of “taking” has been subject to debate in the courts. If government condemns private land for a public project, the issue is straight forward and the owner is usually compensated. But it has been less clear in the courts for the situations where a property owner has been denied beneficial use of all or part of a property through zoning ordinances, “growing smarter” schemes, conservation easements, habitat plans, ecosystem management districts, or for the alleged protection of endangered species, wetlands, historic districts, heritage areas, conservation areas, wilderness areas, wildlife preserves, buffer zones to the foregoing, or for the many other excuses government uses to restrict land use.

So what is the big deal about property rights anyway? Karl Marx: “The theory of Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.” The big deal is that private property rights are essential to a free society. These rights confer upon the owner the fruits of his labor, the right to the benefit from his work, his investments, and his ideas. Notice that places without private property rights are generally totalitarian regimes where the citizens are slaves to the government.

The concept of private property rights has a long history in western thought. Our founding fathers, particularly Madison and Jefferson, equated property rights with individual rights. In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson wrote of the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The later part of this trinity refers to property rights and seems to have been taken from philosopher John Locke’s “life, liberty and estate.” Jefferson goes on to write, “a right to property is founded in our natural wants, in the means by which we are endowed to satisfy those wants, and the right to what we acquire by those means without violating the equal rights of other sensible beings.”

Other western philosophers and statesmen reinforce these principles. For Jeremy Bentham, there were four inalienable rights: liberty, property, security (in the sense of the 4th Amendment) and the right of self-defense. Georg Hegel: “Right is in the first place the immediate embodiment which freedom gives itself in an immediate way, i.e., possession, which is property ownership.” Pope Pius XII: “Private property is a natural fruit of labor, a product of intense activity of man, acquired through his energetic determination to ensure and develop with his own strength his own existence and that of his family, and to create for himself and his own an existence of just freedom.” Friedrich von Hayek: “The system of private property is the most important guaranty of freedom, not only for those who own property, but scarcely less for those who do not.” U.S. Supreme Court (Lynch vs Household Finance, 1972): “The dichotomy between personal liberties and property rights is a false one. Property does not have rights. People have rights. The right to enjoy property without unlawful deprivation, no less than the right to speak or the right to travel, is in truth, a ‘personal’ right…a fundamental interdependence exists between personal right to liberty and the personal right to property. Neither could have meaning without the other.”

Individual and property rights have long been under assault by governments. A warning by George Washington applies as well today as it did when he wrote, “The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own…”

The current great assault on our rights derives from environmental laws and their unconstitutional application. We have entered a state of Environmental Feudalism. As Karol Ceplo writes in Land Rights: “The ever-increasing use of regulation to restrict private property rights represents a profound change in the politics of land use. This movement has been described as a ‘new feudalism of regulation.’ The management of environmental resources has shifted from the private owner to a centralized bureaucracy, much as land use in medieval times was controlled by centralized royal or ecclesiastical powers, rather than by the people who lived on and worked the land.”

Local manifestations of environmental feudalism came in the form of draconian rules concerning the pygmy owl, in county interim regulations requiring set aside of 80% of land as mitigation to build on the remaining 20%, and in the scheme called the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.

These changes did not happen over night, but evolved incrementally, just as James Madison warned, “I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” The road back may also be in small steps. The U.S. Supreme Court seems to have rediscovered the Constitution in many recent decisions, but so far, these decisions deal only with individual circumstances and form no overarching return to Constitutional government.

With the coming change in federal administration, we must insist that environmental laws be tempered with just notice to our rights, and that our representatives and senators return to the principles upon which this nation was founded.

 

See also:

The Flaws in the Endangered Species Act

Endangered Species Act administration changes bode ill for property rights

Environmental Sophistry

 

Zika virus and 100 Things You Should Know About DDT

An apparent epidemic of Zika virus has hit South America and is working its way north. According to the CDC: Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.

In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil. The outbreak in Brazil led to reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome and pregnant women giving birth to babies with birth defects and poor pregnancy outcomes.

Mosquito-borne diseases could be effectively controlled by proper application of DDT, but DDT is politically incorrect, made so by radical environmentalists and their allies.

Below is the story of DDT showing how it got a bad rap by environmentalists and bureaucrats. The article also debunks the many myths associated with DDT.
100 Things You Should Know About DDT
by J. Gordon Edwards and Steven Milloy
July 26, 1999, JunkScience.com

Read the original here: http://junkscience.com/1999/07/100-things-you-should-know-about-ddt/

I. Historical Background
II. Advocacy against DDT
III. EPA hearings
IV. Human exposure
V. Cancer
VI. Egg shell thinning
VII. Bald eagles
VIII. Peregrine falcons
IX. Brown pelicans
X. Bird populations increase during DDT years
XI.Erroneous detection

I. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND. Discovered by accident, DDT became one of the greatest public health tools of the 20th century. Overuse harmed its efficacy — and made it politically unpopular.

1. Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) was first synthesized, for no purpose, in 1874 by German chemist Othmar Zeidler. In 1939, Dr. Paul Müller independently produced DDT. Müller found that DDT quickly killed flies, aphids, mosquitoes, walking sticks and Colorado potato beetles. Müller and the Geigy corporation patented DDT in Switzerland (1940), England (1942) and U.S. (1943).

2. The first large-scale use of DDT occurred in 1943 when 500 gallons of DDT were produced by Merck & Company and delivered to Italy to help squelch a rapidly spreading epidemic of louse-borne typhus. Later in 1943, the U.S. Army issued small tin boxes of 10 percent DDT dust to its soldiers around the world who used it to kill body lice, head lice and crab lice.

3. Müller won the Nobel Prize in 1948 for his work on DDT.

4. Peak usage occurred in 1962, when 80 million kilograms of DDT were used and 82 million kilograms produced.

5. “In May 1955 the Eighth World Health Assembly adopted a Global Malaria Eradication Campaign based on the widespread use of DDT against mosquitos and of antimalarial drugs to treat malaria and to eliminate the parasite in humans. As a result of the Campaign, malaria was eradicated by 1967 from all developed countries where the disease was endemic and large areas of tropical Asia and Latin America were freed from the risk of infection. The Malaria Eradication Campaign was only launched in three countries of tropical Africa since it was not considered feasible in the others. Despite these achievements, improvements in the malaria situation could not be maintained indefinitely by time-limited, highly prescriptive and centralized programmes.” [Bull World Health Organ 1998;76(1):11-6]

6. “To only a few chemicals does man owe as great a debt as to DDT… In little more than two decades, DDT has prevented 500 million human deaths, due to malaria, that otherwise would have been inevitable.” [National Academy of Sciences, Committee on Research in the Life Sciences of the Committee on Science and Public Policy. 1970. The Life Sciences; Recent
Progress and Application to Human Affairs; The World of Biological Research; Requirements for the Future.]

7. It is believed that [malaria] afflicts between 300 and 500 million every year, causing up to 2.7 million deaths, mainly among children under five years. [Africa News, January 27, 1999]

8. Some mosquitoes became “resistant” to DDT. “There is persuasive evidence that antimalarial operations did not produce mosquito resistance to DDT. That crime, and in a very real sense it was a crime, can be laid to the intemperate and inappropriate use of DDT by farmers, especially cotton growers. They used the insecticide at levels that would accelerate, if not actually induce, the selection of a resistant population of mosquitoes.” [Desowitz, RS. 1992. Malaria Capers, W.W. Norton & Company]

9. “Resistance” may be a misleading term when discussing DDT and mosquitoes. While some mosquitoes develop biochemical/physiological mechanisms of resistance to the chemical, DDT also can provoke strong avoidance behavior in some mosquitoes so they spend less time in areas where DDT has been applied — this still reduces mosquito-human contact. “This avoidance behavior, exhibited when malaria vectors avoid insecticides by not entering or by rapidly exiting sprayed houses, should raise serious questions about the overall value of current physiological and biochemical resistance tests. The continued efficacy of DDT in Africa, India, Brazil, and Mexico, where 69% of all reported cases of malaria occur and where vectors are physiologically resistant to DDT (excluding Brazil), serves as one indicator that repellency is very important in preventing indoor transmission of malaria.” [See, e.g.,J Am Mosq Control Assoc 1998 Dec;14(4):410-20; and Am J Trop Med Hyg 1994;50(6 Suppl):21-34].

II. ADVOCACY AGAINST DDT. DDT was demagogued out of use.

10.Rachel Carson sounded the initial alarm against DDT, but represented the science of DDT erroneously in her 1962 book Silent Spring. Carson wrote “Dr. DeWitt’s now classic experiments [on quail and pheasants] have now established the fact that exposure to DDT, even when doing no observable harm to the birds, may seriously affect reproduction. Quail into whose diet DDT was introduced throughout the breeding season survived and even produced normal numbers of fertile eggs. But few of the eggs hatched.” DeWitt’s 1956 article (in Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry) actually yielded a very different conclusion. Quail were fed 200 parts per million of DDT in all of their food throughout the breeding season. DeWitt reports that 80% of their eggs hatched, compared with the “control”” birds which hatched 83.9% of their eggs. Carson also omitted mention of DeWitt’s report that “control” pheasants hatched only 57 percent of their eggs, while those that were fed high levels of DDT in all of their food for an entire year hatched more than 80% of their eggs.

11. Population control advocates blamed DDT for increasing third world population. In the 1960s, World Health Organization authorities believed there was no alternative to the overpopulation problem but to assure than up to 40 percent of the children in poor nations would die of malaria. As an official of the Agency for International Development stated, “Rather dead than alive and riotously reproducing.” [Desowitz, RS. 1992. Malaria Capers, W.W. Norton & Company]

12. The environmental movement used DDT as a means to increase their power. Charles Wurster, chief scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund, commented, “If the environmentalists win on DDT, they will achieve a level of authority they have never had before.. In a sense, much more is at stake than DDT.”[Seattle Times, October 5, 1969]

13. Science journals were biased against DDT. Philip Abelson, editor of Science informed Dr. Thomas Jukes that Science would never publish any article on DDT that was not antagonistic.

14. William Ruckelshaus, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who made the ultimate decision to ban DDT in 1972, was a member of the Environmental Defense Fund. Ruckelshaus solicited donations for EDF on his personal stationery that read “EDF’s scientists blew the whistle on DDT by showing it to be a cancer hazard, and three years later, when the dust had cleared, EDF had won.”

15. But as an assistant attorney general, William Ruckelshaus stated on August 31, 1970 in a U.S. Court of Appeals that “DDT has an amazing an exemplary record of safe use, does not cause a toxic response in man or other animals, and is not harmful. Carcinogenic claims regarding DDT are unproven speculation.” But in a May 2, 1971 address to the Audubon Society, Ruckelshaus stated, “As a member of the Society, myself, I was highly suspicious of this compound, to put it mildly. But I was compelled by the facts to temper my emotions … because the best scientific evidence available did not warrant such a precipitate action. However, we in the EPA have streamlined our administrative procedures so we can now suspend registration of DDT and the other persistent pesticides at any time during the period of review.” Ruckelshaus later explained his ambivalence by stating that as assistant attorney general he was an advocate for the government, but as head of the EPA he was “a maker of policy.” [Barron’s, 10 November 1975]

16. Environmental activists planned to defame scientists who defended DDT. In an uncontradicted deposition in a federal lawsuit, Victor Yannacone, a founder of the Environmental Defense Fund, testified that he attended a meeting in which Roland Clement of the Audubon Society and officials of the Environmental Defense Fund decided that University of California-Berkeley professor and DDT-supporter Thomas H. Jukes was to be muzzled by attacking his credibility. [21st Century, Spring 1992]

III. EPA HEARINGS. DDT was banned by an EPA administrator who ignored the decision of his own administrative law judge.

17. Extensive hearings on DDT before an EPA administrative law judge occurred during 1971-1972. The EPA hearing examiner, Judge Edmund Sweeney, concluded that “DDT is not a carcinogenic hazard to man… DDT is not a mutagenic or teratogenic hazard to man… The use of DDT under the regulations involved here do not have a deleterious effect on freshwater fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds or other wildlife.” [Sweeney, EM. 1972. EPA Hearing Examiner’s recommendations and findings concerning DDT hearings, April 25, 1972 (40 CFR 164.32, 113 pages). Summarized in Barrons (May 1, 1972) and Oregonian (April 26, 1972)]

18. Overruling the EPA hearing examiner, EPA administrator Ruckelshaus banned DDT in 1972. Ruckelshaus never attended a single hour of the seven months of EPA hearings on DDT. Ruckelshaus’ aides reported he did not even read the transcript of the EPA hearings on DDT. [Santa Ana Register, April 25, 1972]

19. After reversing the EPA hearing examiner’s decision, Ruckelshaus refused to release materials upon which his ban was based. Ruckelshaus rebuffed USDA efforts to obtain those materials through the Freedom of Information Act, claiming that they were just “internal memos.” Scientists were therefore prevented from refuting the false allegations in the Ruckelshaus’ “Opinion and Order on DDT.”

IV. HUMAN EXPOSURE. Actual human exposures have always been far lower than the “acceptable” level.

20. Human ingestion of DDT was estimated to average about 0.0026 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day (mg/kg/day) about 0.18 milligrams per day. [Hayes, W. 1956. J Amer Medical Assn, Oct. 1956]

21. In 1967, the daily average intake of DDT by 20 men with high occupational exposure was estimated to be 17.5 to 18 mg/man per day, as compared with an average of 0.04 mg/man per day for the general population. [IARC V.5, 1974].

22. Dr. Alice Ottoboni, toxicologist for the state of California, estimated that the average American ingests between 0.0006 mg/kg/day and 0.0001 mg/kg/day of DDT. [Ottoboni, A. et al. California’s Health, August 1969 & May 1972]

23. “In the United States, the average amount of DDT and DDE eaten daily in food in 1981 was 2.24 micrograms per day (ug/day) (0.000032 mg/kg/day), with root and leafy vegetables containing the highest amount. Meat, fish, and poultry also contain very low levels of these compounds.” [Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1989.Public Health Statement: DDT, DDE, and DDD]

24. The World Health Organization set an acceptable daily intake of DDT for humans at 0.01 mg/kg/day.

25. “Air samples in the United States have shown levels of DDT ranging from 0.00001 to 1.56 micrograms per cubic meter of air (ug/m3), depending on the location and year of sampling. Most reported samples were collected in the mid 1970s, and present levels are expected to be much lower. DDT and DDE have been reported in surface waters at levels of 0.001 micrograms per liter (ug/L), while DDD generally is not found in surface water. National soil testing programs in the early 1970s have reported levels in soil ranging from 0.18 to 5.86 parts per million (ppm).” [Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1989.Public Health Statement: DDT, DDE, and DDD]

V. CANCER. DDT was alleged to be a liver carcinogen in Silent Spring and a breast carcinogen in Our Stolen Future.

26. Feeding primates more than 33,000 times the average daily human exposure to DDT (as estimated in 1969 and 1972) was “inconclusive with respect to a carcinogenic effect of DDT in nonhuman primates.” [J Cancer Res Clin Oncol 1999;125(3-4):219-25]

27. A nested case-control study was conducted to examine the association between serum concentrations of DDE and PCBs and the development of breast cancer up to 20 years later. Cases (n = 346) and controls (n = 346) were selected from cohorts of women who donated blood in 1974, 1989, or both, and were matched on age, race, menopausal status, and month and year of blood donation. “Even after 20 years of follow-up, exposure to relatively high concentrations of DDE or PCBs showed no evidence of contributing to an increased risk of breast cancer.”
[Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 1999 Jun;8(6):525-32]

28. To prospectively evaluate relationships of organochlorine pesticides and PCBs with breast cancer, a case-control study nested in a cohort using the Columbia, Missouri Breast Cancer Serum Bank. Women donated blood in 1977- 87, and during up to 9.5 years follow-up, 105 donors who met the inclusion criteria for the current study were diagnosed with breast cancer. For each case, two controls matched on age and date of blood collection were selected. Five DDT analogs, 13 other organochlorine pesticides, and 27 PCBs were measured in serum. Results of this study do not support a role for organochlorine pesticides and PCBs in breast cancer etiology. [Cancer Causes Control 1999 Feb;10(1):1-11]

29. A pooled analysis examined whether exposure to DDT was associated with the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma among male farmers. Data from three case-control studies from four midwestern states in the United States (Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas) were pooled to carry out analyses of 993 cases and 2918 controls. No strong consistent evidence was found for an association between exposure to DDT and risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. [Occup Environ Med 1998 Aug;55(8):522-7]

30. “We measured plasma levels of DDE and PCBs prospectively among 240 women who gave a blood sample in 1989 or 1990 and who were subsequently given a diagnosis of breast cancer before June 1, 1992. We compared these levels with those measured in matched control women in whom breast cancer did not develop. Data on DDE were available for 236 pairs, and data on PCBs were available for 230 pairs. Our data do not support the hypothesis that exposure to [DDT] and PCBs increases the risk of breast cancer.” [N Engl J Med 1997;337:1253-8]

31. “… weakly estrogenic organochlorine compounds such as PCBs, DDT, and DDE are not a cause of breast cancer.” [http://www.nejm.org/content/1997/0337/0018/1303.asp]

32. To examine any possible links between exposure to DDE, the persistent metabolite of the pesticide dicophane (DDT), and breast cancer, 265 postmenopausal women with breast cancer and 341 controls matched for age and center were studied. Women with breast cancer had adipose DDE concentrations 9.2% lower than control women. No increased risk of breast cancer was found at higher concentrations. The odds ratio of breast cancer, adjusted for age and center, for the highest versus the lowest fourth of DDE distribution was 0.73 (95% confidence interval 0.44 to 1.21) and decreased to 0.48 (0.25 to 0.95; P for trend = 0.02) after adjustment for body mass index, age at first birth, and current alcohol drinking. Adjustment for other risk factors did not materially affect these estimates. This study does not support the hypothesis that DDE increases risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women in Europe. [BMJ 1997 Jul 12;315(7100):81-5]

33. No correlation at the population level can be demonstrated between exposures to DDT and the incidence of cancer at any site. It is concluded that DDT has had no significant impact on human cancer patterns and is unlikely to be an important carcinogen for man at previous exposure levels, within the statistical limitations of the data. [IARC Sci Publ 1985;(65):107-17]

34. Syrian golden hamsters were fed for their lifespan a diet containing 0, 125, 250 and 500 parts per million (ppm) of DDT. The incidence of tumor bearing animals was 13% among control females and ranged between 11-20% in treated females. In control males 8% had tumors. The incidence of tumor bearing animals among treated males ranged between 17-28%. [Tumori 1982 Feb 28;68(1):5-10]

35. None of 35 workers heavily exposed to DDT (600 times the average U.S. exposure for 9 to 19 years) developed cancer. [Laws, ER. 1967. Arch Env Health 15:766-775]

36. Men who voluntarily ingested 35 mgs of DDT daily for nearly two years were carefully examined for years and “developed no adverse effects.” [Hayes, W. 1956. JAMA 162:890-897]

37. DDT was found to reduce tumors in animals. [Laws, ER. 1971. Arch. Env Health, 23:181-184; McLean, AEM & EK McLean. 1967. Proc Nutr Soc 26;Okey, AB. 1972. Life Sciences 11:833-843;Sillinskas, KC & AB Okey. 1975. J Natl Cancer Inst 55:653- 657, 1975]

38. Rodent tests for a carcinogenic effect of DDT, DDE and TDE produced equivocal results despite extremely high doses (642 ppm of DDT, 3,295 ppm of TDE and 839 ppm of DDE). [National Toxicology Program, TR-131 Bioassays of DDT, TDE, and p,p’-DDE for Possible Carcinogenicity (CAS No. 50-29-3, CAS No. 72-54-8, CAS No. 72-55-9)]

VI. EGG-SHELL THINNING. DDT was alleged to have thinned bird egg shells.

39. Many experiments on caged-birds demonstrate that DDT and its metabolites (DDD and DDE) do not cause serious egg shell thinning, even at levels many hundreds of times greater than wild birds would ever accumulate. [Cecil, HC et al. 1971. Poultry Science 50: 656-659 (No effects of DDT or DDE, if adequate calcium is in diet); Chang, ES & ELR Stokstad. 1975. Poultry Science 54: 3-10 1975. (No effects of DDT on shells); Edwards, JG. 1971. Chem Eng News p. 6 & 59 (August 16, 1971) (Summary of egg shell- thinning and refutations presented revealing all data); Hazeltine, WE. 1974. Statement and affidavit, EPA Hearings on Tussock Moth Control, Portland Oregon, p. 9 (January 14, 1974); Jeffries, DJ. 1969. J Wildlife Management 32: 441-456 (Shells 7 percent thicker after two years on DDT diet); Robson, WA et al. 1976. Poultry Science 55:2222- 2227; Scott, ML et al. 1975. Poultry Science 54: 350-368 (Egg production, hatchability and shell quality depend on calcium, and are not effected by DDT and its metabolites); Spears, G & P. Waibel. 1972. Minn. Science 28(3):4-5; Tucker, RK & HA Haegele. 1970. Bull Environ Contam. Toxicol 5:191-194 (Neither egg weight nor shell thickness affected by 300 parts per million DDT in daily diet);Edwards, JG. 1973. Statement and affidavit, U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, 24 pages, October 24, 1973; Poult Sci 1979 Nov;58(6):1432-49 (“There was no correlation between concentrations of pesticides and egg shell thinning.”)]

40. Experiments associating DDT with egg shell thinning involve doses much higher than would ever be encountered in the wild. [J Toxicol Environ Health 1977 Nov;3(4):699-704 (50 ppm for 6 months); Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 1978;7(3):359-67 (“acute” doses); Acta Pharmacol Toxicol (Copenh) 1982 Feb;50(2):121-9 (40 mg/kg/day for 45 days); Fed Proc 1977 May;36(6):1888-93 (“In well-controlled experiments using white leghorn chickens and Japanese quail, dietary PCBs, DDT and related compounds produced no detrimental effects on eggshell quality. … no detrimental effects on eggshell quality, egg production or hatchability were found with … DDT up to 100 ppm)]

41. Laboratory egg shell thinning required massive doses of DDE far in excess of anything expected in nature, and massive laboratory doses produce much less thinning than is seen in many of the thin-shelled eggs collected in the wild. [Hazeltine, WE. 1974. Statement and affidavit, EPA Hearings on Tussock Moth Control, Portland Oregon, p. 9 (January 14, 1974)]

42. Years of carefully controlled feeding experiments involving levels of DDT as high as present in most wild birds resulted in no tremors, mortality, thinning of egg shells nor reproductive interference. [Scott, ML et al. 1975. Poultry Science 54: 350-368 (Egg production, hatch ability and shell quality depend on calcium, and are not effected by DDT and its
metabolites)]

43. Egg shell thinning is not correlated with pesticide residues. [Krantz WC. 1970 (No correlation between shell-thinning and pesticide residues in eggs) Pesticide Monitoring J 4(3): 136-141; Postupalsky, S. 1971. Canadian Wildlife Service manuscript, April 8, 1971 (No correlation between shell-thinning and DDE in eggs of bald eagles and cormorants); Anon. 1970. Oregon State University Health Sciences Conference, Annual report, p. 94. (Lowest DDT residues associated with thinnest shells in Cooper’s hawk, sharp-shinned hawk and goshawk); Claus G and K Bolander. 1977. Ecological Sanity, David McKay Co., N.Y., p. 461. (Feeding thyreprotein causes hens to lay lighter eggs, with heavier, thicker shells)]<

44. Among brown pelican egg shells examined there was no correlation between DDT residue and shell thickness. [Switzer, B. 1972. Consolidated EPA hearings, Transcript pp. 8212-8336; and Hazeltine, WE. 1972. Why pelican eggshells are thin. Nature 239: 410-412]

45. Egg shells of red-tailed hawks were reported to be six percent thicker during years of heavy DDT usage than just before DDT use began. Golden eagle egg shells were 5 percent thicker than those produced before DDT use. [Hickey, JJ and DW Anderson. 1968. Science 162: 271-273]

46. To the extent egg shell thinning occurred, many other substances and conditions could have been responsible.

47. Oil has been associated with egg shell thinning. [Anon. National Wildlife Federation, Conservation News, pp. 6-10, October 15 1979. (Embryonic mortality from oil on feathers of adults birds) ; Hartung, R. 1965. J Wildlife Management 29:872-874 (Oil on eggs reduces hatch ability by 68 percent); Libby, EE. 1978. Fish, wildlife and oil. Ecolibrium 2(4):7-10; King,
KA et al. 1979 Bull Environ Contam Tox 23:800-805 (Oil a probably cause of pelican mortality for six weeks after spill);Albers, PH. 1977. Fate and Effects of Petroleum Hydrocarbons in Marine Ecosystems, Pergamon Press, N.Y. (Chapters 15 & 16; Dieter, MP. 1977. Interagency Energy-Environment Research and Development Program Report, pp. 35-42 (5 microliters of oil on fertile egg kills 76 to 98 percent of embryos within; birds ingesting oil produce 70 percent to 100 percent less eggs than normal; offspring failed to develop normal flight feathers); Szaro, RC. 1977. Proc 42nd N Amer Wildlife Nat Resources Conference, pp. 375-376]

48. Lead has been associated with egg shell thinning. [Bellrose, RC. 1959. Ill Nat Hist Survey Bull 27:235-288 (Lead poisoning in wildlife)]

49. Mercury has been associated with egg shell thinning. [D’Itri, FM & PB Trost. 1970. International Conference on Mercury Contamination, Ann Arbor, September 30, 1070; Scott, JL et al. 1975. Effects of PCBs, DDT and mercury upon egg production, hatch ability and shell quality. Poultry Sci 54:3350-368; Stoewssand, GS et al.. 1971. Shell- thinning in quail fed mercuric
chloride. Science 173:1030-1031; Tucker, RK. 1971. Utah Science June 1971:47-49 (Effects of many chemicals on shell thickness).; Tucker, RK & HA Haegle. 1970. Bull Environ Contamin Toxicol 5:191-194]

50. Stress from noise, fear or excitement and disease are associated with egg shell thinning. [Scott, HM et al.. 1944. (Physiological stress thins shells) Poultry Science 23:446-453; Draper, MH & PE Lake. 1967. Effects of stress and defensive responses. In Environmental Control in Poultry Production, Oliver and Boyd, London; Reid, BL. 1971. (Effects of stress on laying birds) Farm Technology, Fall 1971; Sykes, AH. 1955 (Adrenaline excess inhibits shell formation) Poultry Science 34: 622-628]

51. Older birds produce thinner shells. [Sunde, ML. 1971 (Older birds produce thinner shells) Farm Technology, Fall 1971]

52. Normal egg shells become 5 percent thinner as developing embryos withdraw calcium for bone development. [Romanoff, AL and AJ Romanoff. 1967. Biochemistry of the Avian Embryo, Wiley & Sons, N.Y.; Simkiss, K. 1967. (Shells thinned by embryo development within) In Calcium in Reproductive Physiology, Reinhold, NY, pp 198-213]

53. Larger birds tend to produce thicker-shelled eggs. [Asmundson, VS et al. 1943. (Relations between the parts of birds’ eggs) Auk 60:34-44]

54. Dehydration is associated with thinner egg shells. [Tucker, RK and HA Haegle. 1970. (30 percent thinner shells formed after quail were kept from water for 36 hours) Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 5(3): 191-194]

55. Temperature extremes are associated with thinner egg shells. [Romanoff, AL and AJ Romanoff, 1949. The Avian Egg, Wiley & Sons]

56. Decreased illumination is associated with thinner egg shells. [Peakall, DB. 1970. (Shells not thinned even after illumination was abruptly reduced from 16 hours daily to 8 hours daily and high DDT dosage begun simultaneously) Science 168:592-594; Day, EJ. 1971. (Importance of even illumination on laying birds) Farm Technology, Fall 1971;Houser, EJ. 1962. Pacific
Poultryman, August 1962; Morris, TR et al. 1964. (The most critical area of light duration is that between 16 hours and 8 hours daily) British Poultry Science 5: 133-147; Ward, P. 1972 (Physiological importance of photo period in bird experiments) Ibis 114: 275]

57. Human and predator intrusion is associated with thinner egg shells. [Beatty, RG. 1973. The DDT Myth, John Day Co., N.Y. 201 pages; Anon. 1971. Hawk Chalk 10(3):47-57; Cade, TJ. 1960. Ecology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon populations in Alaska. Univ Calif Publ Zool 63(3): 151-290]

58. Simple restraint interferes with the transport of calcium throughout the body of birds, preventing adequate calcium from reaching the shell gland and forming
good shells. [Sykes, AH. 1955. Poultry Science 34:622-628]

59. Uncovering eggs after parent birds are removed or frightened off exposes eggs to potentially fatal chilling, especially in northern or high altitude locations. [Cade, TJ. 1960. Ecology of the peregrine and gyrfalcon populations in Alaska. Uni Calif Publ Zool 63(3):151-290]

60. Phosphorus deficiency is associated with thinner shells. [Crowley, TA et al. 1963. Poultry Science 54: 350-368]

61. Calcium deficiency is associated with thinner shells.[Greely, F.. 196 (Effects of calcium deficiency) J Wildlife Management 70:149-153; Romanoff, AL and AJ Romanoff. 1949. The Avian Egg, Wiley & Sons; Scott, ML. 1975. Poultry Science 54:350-368; Taylor, TG. 1970. How and eggshell is formed. Scientific American 222:89-95; Tucker, RK and HA Tucker. 1970. Bull Environ Contamin Toxicol 5(3):1191-194]

62. Egg shell deficiencies were attributed to DDT and DDE by U.S. Fish and Wildlife researchers even though the birds had been placed on low-calcium diets. [Bitman, J et al. 1969. Nature 224: 44-46; Bitman, J et al. 1970. Science 594-595.]

63. Cutting illumination from 16 hours daily to 8 hours daily at the same time as DDT feeding began had no significant adverse effect on shell quality. Shell quality was only adversely impacted after large amounts of DDE were injected into birds. [Peakall, DB. 1970. Science 168:592-594]

64. DDT was blamed for egg shell thinning even though a known egg shell thinner (dieldrin) was also added to the diet. [Porter, RD and SN Wiemeyer. 1969. Science 165: 199-200]

65. No significant correlation between DDE and egg shell thinning in Canadian terns even though the eggs contained as much as 100 parts per million of DDE. [Switzer, BG et al. 1971. Can J Zool 49:69-73]

VII. BALD EAGLES. DDT was blamed for the decline in the bald eagle population.

66. Bald eagles were reportedly threatened with extinction in 1921 — 25 years before widespread use of DDT. [Van Name, WG. 1921. Ecology 2:76]

67. Alaska paid over $100,000 in bounties for 115,000 bald eagles between 1917 and 1942. [Anon. Science News Letter, July 3, 1943]

68. The bald eagle had vanished from New England by 1937. [Bent, AC. 1937. Raptorial Birds of America. US National Museum Bull 167:321-349]

69. After 15 years of heavy and widespread usage of DDT, Audubon Society ornithologists counted 25 percent more eagles per observer in 1960 than during the pre-DDT 1941 bird census. [Marvin, PH. 1964 Birds on the rise. Bull Entomol Soc Amer 10(3):184-186; Wurster, CF. 1969 Congressional Record S4599, May 5, 1969; Anon. 1942. The 42nd Annual Christmas Bird Census. Audubon Magazine 44:1-75 (Jan/Feb 1942; Cruickshank, AD (Editor). 1961. The 61st Annual Christmas Bird Census. Audubon Field Notes 15(2):84-300; White-Stevens, R.. 1972. Statistical analyses of Audubon Christmas Bird censuses. Letter to New York Times, August 15, 1972]

70. No significant correlation between DDE residues and shell thickness was reported in a large series of bald eagle eggs. [Postupalsky, S. 1971. (DDE residues and shell thickness). Canadian Wildlife Service manuscript, April 8, 1971]

71. Thickness of eggshells from Florida, Maine and Wisconsin was found to not be correlated with DDT residues.
Data from Krantz, WC. 1970. Pesticides Monitoring Journal 4(3):136-140.
State Thickness (mm) DDE residue (ppm)
Florida 0.50 About 10
Maine 0.53 About 22
Wisconsin 0.55 About 4
72. U.S. Forest Service studies reported an increase in nesting bald eagle productivity (51 in 1964 to 107 in 1970). [U.S. Forest Service (Milwaukee, WI). 1970. Annual Report on Bald Eagle Status]

73. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists fed large doses of DDT to captive bald eagles for 112 days and concluded that “DDT residues encountered by eagles in the environment would not adversely affect eagles or their eggs.” [Stickel, L. 1966. Bald eagle-pesticide relationships. Trans 31st N Amer Wildlife Conference, pp.190-200]

74. Wildlife authorities attributed bald eagle population reductions to a “widespread loss of suitable habitat”, but noted that “illegal shooting continues to be the leading cause of direct mortality in both adult and immature bald eagles.” [Anon.. 1978. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Tech Bull 3:8-9]

75. Every bald eagle found dead in the U.S., between 1961-1977 (266 birds) was analyzed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists who reported no adverse effects caused by DDT or its residues. [Reichel, WL. 1969. (Pesticide residues in 45 bald eagles found dead in the U.S. 1964-1965). Pesticides Monitoring J 3(3)142-144; Belisle, AA. 1972. (Pesticide residues and PCBs and mercury, in bald eagles found dead in the U.S. 1969-1970). Pesticides Monitoring J 6(3): 133-138; Cromartie, E. 1974. (Organochlorine pesticides and PCBs in 37 bald eagles found dead in the U.S. 1971-1972). Pesticides Monitoring J 9:11-14; Coon, NC. 1970. (Causes of bald eagle mortality in the US 1960-1065). Journal of Wildlife Diseases 6:72-76]

76. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists linked high intake of mercury from contaminated fish with eagle reproductive problems. [Spann, JW, RG Heath, JF Kreitzer, LN Locke. 1972. (Lethal and reproductive effects of mercury on birds) Science 175:328- 331]

77. Shooting, power line electrocution, collisions in flight and poisoning from eating ducks containing lead shot were ranked by the National Wildlife Federation as late as 1984 as the leading causes of eagle deaths. [Anon. 1984. National Wildlife Federation publication. (Eagle deaths)]

VIII. PEREGRINE FALCONS. DDT was blamed for the decline in the peregrine falcon population.

78. The decline in the U.S. peregrine falcon population occurred long before the DDT years. [Hickey JJ. 1942. (Only 170 pairs of peregrines in eastern U.S. in 1940) Auk 59:176; Hickey JJ. 1971 Testimony at DDT hearings before EPA hearing examiner. (350 pre-DDT peregrines claimed in eastern U.S., with 28 of the females sterile); and Beebe FL. 1971. The Myth of the Vanishing Peregrine Falcon: A study in manipulation of public and official attitudes. Canadian Raptor Society Publication, 31 pages]

79. Peregrine falcons were deemed undesirable in the early 20th century. Dr. William Hornaday of the New York Zoological Society referred to them as birds that “deserve death, but are so rare that we need not take them into account.” [Hornaday, WT. 1913. Our Vanishing Wild Life. New York Zoological Society, p. 226]

80. Oologists amassed great collections of falcon eggs. [Peterson, RT. 1948. Birds Over American, Dodd Mead & Co., NY, pp 135-151; Rice, JN. 1969. In Peregrine Falcon Populations, Univ. Of Wisconsin Press, pp 155-164; Berger, DD. 1969. In Peregrine Falcon Populations, Univ. Of Wisconsin Press, pp 165-173]

81. The decline in falcons along the Hudson River was attributed to falconers, egg collectors, pigeon fanciers and disturbance by construction workers and others. [Herbert, RA and KG Herbert. 1969. In Peregrine Falcon Populations, Univ. Of Wisconsin Press, pp 133- 154. (Also in Auk 82: 62-94)]

82. The 1950’s and 1960’s saw continuing harassment trapping brooding birds in their nests, removing fat samples for analysis and operating time-lapse cameras beside the nests for extended periods of time), predation and habitat destruction. [Hazeltine, WE. 1972. Statement before Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee on United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, March 16, 1972; Enderson, JH and DD Berger. 1968. (Chlorinated hydrocarbons in peregrines from Northern Canada). Condor 70:149-153; Enderson, JH.. 1972. (Time lapse photography in
peregrine nests) Living Bird 11: 113- 128; Risebrough, RW. 1970. (Organochlorines in peregrines and merlins migrating through Wisconsin). Canadian Field-Naturalist 84:247-253]

83. Changes in climate (higher temperatures and decreasing precipitation) were blamed for the gradual disappearance of peregrines from the Rocky Mountains. [Nelson, MW. 1969. Peregrine Falcon Populations, pp 61-72]

84. Falconers were blamed for decimating western populations. [Herman, S. 1969. Peregrine Falcon Populations, University of Wisconsin Press]

85. During the 1960’s, peregrines in northern Canada were “reproducing normally,” even though they contained 30 times more DDT, DDD, and DDE than the midwestern peregrines that were allegedly extirpated by those chemicals. [Enderson, JH and DD Berger. 1968. (Chlorinated hydrocarbons in peregrines from Northern Canada) Condor 70:170-178]

86. There was no decline in peregrine falcon pairs in Canada and Alaska between 1950 and 1967 despite the presence of DDT and DDE. [Fyfe, RW. 1959. Peregrine Falcon Populations, pp 101-114; and Fyfe, RW. 1968. Auk 85: 383-384]

87. The peregrine with the very highest DDT residue (2,435 parts per million) was found feeding three healthy young. [Enderson, JH. 1968. (Pesticide residues in Alaska and Yukon Territory) Auk 85: 683]

88. Shooting, egg collecting, falconry and disruption of nesting birds along the Yukon River and Colville River were reported to be the cause of the decline in peregrine falcon population.
[Beebe, FL. 1971. The Myth of the Vanishing Peregrine Falcon: A study in manipulation of public and official attitudes. Canadian Raptor Society Publication, 31 pages; and Beebe, FL. 1975. Brit Columbia Provincial Museum Occas. Paper No. 17, pages 126-144]

89. The decline in British peregrine falcons ended by 1966, though DDT was as abundant as ever. The Federal Advisory Committee on Pesticides concluded “There is no close correlation between the declines in populations of predatory birds, particularly the peregrine falcon and the sparrow hawk, and the use of DDT.” [Wilson report. 1969. Review of Organochlorine pesticides in Britain. Report by the Advisory Committee on toxic chemicals. Department of Education and Science]

90. During 1940-1945, the British Air Ministry shot about 600 peregrines (half the pre-1939 level) to protect carrier pigeons.

91. Peregrine falcon and sparrow hawk egg shells thinned in Britain prior to the use of DDT. [Redcliff, DH. 1967. Nature 215: 208-210; Redcliff, DH. 1970 J Applied Biology 7:67; and Redcliff, DH. 1967. Nature 215: 208-210]

IX. BROWN PELICANS. DDT was blamed for the decline in the brown pelican population.

92. Brown pelicans declined in Texas from a high of 5,000 birds in 1918 to a low of 200 in 1941, three years before the presence of DDT. [Pearson TG. 1919. Review of reviews. Pp. 509-511 (May 1919); Pearson TG. 1934. Adventures in Bird Protection, Appleton- Century Co., p. 332; Pearson TG. 1934 (Discussion of 1918 survey) National Geographic pp. 299-302 (March 1934); Allen RG. 1935. Auk 52: p.199;]

93. Disappearance of the brown pelicans from Texas was attributed to fisherman and hunters. Gustafson AF. 1939. Conservation in the United States, Comstock Publ. Co., Ithaca, NY. (Repeated in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Report No. 1, 1970)]

94. Brown pelicans experienced no difficulty in reproducing during the DDT years. [See Banks, RC. 1966. Trans San Diego Soc Nat Hist 14:173-188; and Schreiber RW and RL DeLong. 1969. Audubon Field Notes 23:57-59]

95. Brown pelicans did suffer reproductive problems following the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill. Oil on eggs is a known cause of embryo death. [See e.g., National Wildlife Federation . 1979. Embryonic mortality from oil on feathers of adult birds. Conservation News, pp. 6-10 (October 15, 1979); Hartung, R. 1965. (Oil on eggs reduces hatch ability by 68 percent). J Wildlife Management 29: 872-874; King, KA 1979. (Oil a probable cause of pelican mortality for six weeks after spill). Bull Environ Contam. Toxicol 23:800-805; and Dieter, MP. 1977. (5 micro liters of oil on fertile egg kills 76 percent to 98 percent of embryos within. Interagency Energy-Environment Research and Development Program Report, pp 35-42]

96. Among brown pelican egg shells examined (72 percent), there was no correlation between DDT residue and shell thickness. [Switzer, B. 1972. Consolidated EPA hearings, Transcript pp. 8212-8336; and Hazeltine, WE. 1972. Why pelican eggshells are thin. Nature 239: 410-412]

97. An epidemic of Newcastle disease resulted in millions of birds put to death to eradicate the disease. [United Press International. “Newcastle disease epidemic in California (April 1972)] The epidemic among U.S. birds was caused by the migration of sick pelicans along the Mexican coast. [Hofstad MC. 1972. Diseases of Poultry. Iowa State Univ. Press]

X. BIRD POPULATIONS INCREASE DURING DDT YEARS. Widespread declines in bird populations during the DDT years is a myth.

98. In congressional testimony, Charles Wurster, a biologist for the Environmental Defense Fund, noted the abundance of birds during the DDT years, referring to “increasing numbers of pheasants, quail, doves, turkeys and other game species.” [Wurster, C.F. 1969 Congressional Record S4599, May 5, 1969]

99. The Audubon Society’s annual bird census in 1960 reported that at least 26 kinds of birds became more numerous during 1941 – 1960. [See Anon. 1942. The 42nd annual Christmas bird census.” Audubon Magazine 44;1-75 (Jan/Feb 1942), and Cruicjshank, AD (editor) 1961. The 61st annual Christmas bird census. Audubon Field Notes 15(2); 84-300]

100. Statistical analysis of the Audubon data bore out the perceived increases. [White-Stevens, R. 1972. Statistical analyses of Audubon Christmas bird censuses. Letter to New York Times, August 15, 1972]

101. The white-tailed kite, a raptor, was “in very real danger of complete extirpation in the U.S.” in 1935, but “by the 1960’s, a very great population increase and range expansion had become apparent in California and the breeding range had extended through the Central American countries.” [Eisenmann, E. 1971. Range expansion and population increase of the White-tailed kite. American Birds 25(3):529-535]

102. Great increases inmost kinds of hawks during the DDT years were reported by the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association (Hawk Mountain, Pennsylvania). [Taylor, JW. Summaries of Hawk Mountain migrations of raptors, 1934 to 1970. In Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association Newsletters]

103. National forest studies from Wisconsin and Michigan reported an increase in nesting osprey productivity from 11 young in 1965 to 74 young in 1970. [U.S. Forest Service, Milwaukee. 1970. Annual report on osprey status in national forests in Wisconsin and Michigan]

104. A study of fish-eaters at Funk Island (on the North Atlantic coast) reported that, despite diets contaminated with DDT, gannet and murres pairs increased by 1,500 percent and 10,000 percent from 1945 to the early 1970s. [Bruemmer, F. 1971. Animals Magazine, p.555, April]

105. Herring gulls reportedly increased from 2,000 pairs in 1941 to 35,000 pairs in 1971. Ironically, the Massachusetts department of Natural resources permitted the Audubon Society to poison 30,000 of the pairs on Tern Island. The Audubon-ers preferred terns. Audubon Society scientist William Drury stated, “it’s kind of like weeding a garden.” [Graham, F. 1985. Audubon Magazine, p.17, January 1985]

106. Some birds multiplied so well during the DDT years that they became pests:

6 million blackbirds ruined Scotland Neck, North Carolina in 1970, polluting streams, depositing nine inches of droppings on the ground and killing the forest
where they roosted at night. [Associated Press, March 18, 1970]
77 million blackbirds roosted within 50 miles of Ft. Campbell, KY increasing the risk of histoplasmosis in humans. [Louisville Courier-Journal, December 1975.]
Ten million redwings were reported in a small area of northern Ohio. [Graham, F. 1971. Bye-bye blackbirds? Audubon Magazine, pp. 29-35, September]
The Virginia Department of Agriculture stated, “We can no longer tolerate the damage caused by the redwing … 15 million tons of grain are destroyed annually enough to feed 90 million people.” [Bulletin of the Virginia Department of Agriculture, May 1967]
107. The phenomena of increasing bird populations during the DDT years may be due, in part, to (1) fewer blood-sucking insects and reduced spread of avian diseases (avian malaria, rickettsial-pox, avian bronchitis, Newcastle disease, encephalitis, etc); (2) more seed and fruits available for birds to eat after plant-eating insects were decimated; and (3) Ingestion of DDT triggers hepatic enzymes that detoxify carcinogens such as aflatoxin.

XI. ERRONEOUS DETECTION. Gas chromatography was universally used for pesticide analysis in the mid-1960’s. But it often failed to differentiate between DDT residues and other chemicals.

108. Gas chromatography detected DDT in samples of wildlife and soil collected before DDT was even produced. [Scott, ML et al. 1975. Poultry Science 54: 350-368 (“Many reports relating reproductive declines of wild birds (and body stores in those birds) to DDT and DDE were based on analytical procedures that did not distinguish between DDT and PCBs.”); Sherman, RW. 1973. Artifacts and mimics of DDT and other insecticides. J New York Entomol Soc 81:152-163 (Robin collected in 1938); Coon, FB. 1966. Electron capture gas chromatograph analyses of selected samples of authentic pre-DDT origin. Presented at the Conference of American Chemical Society in New York (Gibbon collected in 1935); Frazier, BE et al. 1970. Pesticides Monitoring J 4:67-70, 1970 (Soil collected in 1911); Bowman, MC et al. 1965. J Econ Entomology 58: 896-902 (Soil collected in 1940); Hom, W. 1974. Science 184:1197-1199 (1930-vintage Santa Barbara basin sediment)]

109. DDT was mistaken for other organochlorines. [Glotfelty, DE.. 1970. Anal Chem 42:82-84 (Misidentifications of DDT resulted from interference by “pigment-related natural products in photosynthesic tissues.”); Hylin, JW. 1969. Residue Reviews 26:127 (“Organochlorine compounds in plants can cause interference in residue analyses “); Sims, JJ. 1977. Press release, June 15, 1977 (Certain marine algae produce halogen compounds that are detected by gas chromatography and may be misidentified as DDT metabolites);George JL and DEH Frear. 1966. Pesticides in the Antarctic. J Appld Ecology 3 (suppl): 155-167 (Antarctic samples of fish and birds widely touted as containing DDT residues likely contained PCBs instead that leached from the plastic containers they were stored in for 6 months prior to analysis)]

110. Laboratory fluorescent lights containing liquid PCBs and plastic tubing leaching PCBs erroneously led to PCBs misidentified as DDT or DDE. [Gustafson, CG. 1970. Environ Sci Technology 4(10):814-819; Lisk, DJ. 1970. Analysis of pesticide residues: methods and problems. Science 170:589-593; Anderson, DW et al. 1969. Can Field-Naturalist 83:91-112 (Samples reported in 1965 to be contaminated with DDT were acknowledged in 1969 to actually have been contaminated with PCBs. Faulty analytic methods were blamed); National Audubon Society, Research Dept. 1968. Brown Pelican Newsletter (Tavernier, Florida) No. 1, page 9 (The Audubon Society was aware of the problem of PCB interference in announcing its warning: “DO NOT BRING PLASTICS INTO CONTACT WITH THE SPECIMEN.”)]

111. The coating of aluminum foil used to wrap specimens, formalin, and sodium sulfate may also have contained PCBs or oils that might have interfered with analyses. [Risebrough, RW. 1971. Presentation to International Symposium on Identification and Measurement of Environmental Pollutants, Ottawa, Canada, June 15, 1971]

New GMO rice eliminates methane emissions and increases nutrition

Researchers sponsored by the Department of Energy found that introducing a single gene from barley into common rice produced a plant that can better feed its grains, stems and leaves while starving off methane-producing microbes in the soil. The new rice is called “SUSIBA2″ rice.

GMO rice

About half the world’s population depends on rice as a staple food. However, the rice paddies used to grow rice are responsible for about 17 percent of global methane emissions, about 100 million tons per year. Methane is a greenhouse gas stronger than carbon dioxide but its concentration in the atmosphere is much lower – about 0.0002% versus 0.04% for CO2.

The GMO modified rice produces more grains and more starch for a richer food supply. There will be no methane emissions from the rice paddies during the growth period.

According to a press release, the results represent the culmination of more than a decade of work in three countries.

The plant process is described as follows:

During photosynthesis, carbon dioxide is absorbed and converts to sugars to feed or be stored in various parts of the plant. Researchers have long sought to better understand and control this process to coax out desired characteristics of the plant. Funneling more carbon to the seeds in rice results in a plumper, starchier grain. Similarly, carbon and resulting sugars channeled to stems and leaves increases their mass and creates more plant biomass, a bioenergy feedstock.

In early work in Sweden, researchers investigated how distribution of sugars in plants could be controlled by a special protein called a transcription factor, which binds to certain genes and turns them on or off.

By controlling where the transcription factor is produced, we can then dictate where in a plant the carbon – and resulting sugars – accumulate.

To narrow down the mass of gene contenders, the team started with grains of barley that were high in starch, then identified genes within that were highly active. The activity of each gene then was analyzed in an attempt to find the specific transcription factor responsible for regulating the conversion of sugar to starch in the above-ground portions of the plant, primarily the grains.

See the press release from EurekaAlert! here and the abstract of the paper in Nature here.

It will be interesting to see how GMO-phobes and climate alarmists react to this news.

See also:

Genetically Modified Foods, nothing to fear

Sustainability indoctrination invades our colleges

According to the National Association of Scholars (NAS) “‘Sustainability’ is a key idea on college campuses in the United States and the rest of the Western world. To many, sustainability is just a new name for environmentalism. But the word has come to mean something much larger: an ideology that demands new limits on economic, political, and intellectual freedom as the price that must be paid to ensure the welfare of future generations.”

NAS has just released a study critical of the “sustainability” movement in our colleges. The report is titled “Sustainability – Higher Education’s New Fundamentalism.” This 260-page report may be downloaded as a whole or by chapter from http://www.nas.org/projects/sustainability_report.

Before getting to the NAS report, here is some background on “sustainability” taken from an article on my WryHeat blog:

“Sustainable development” and “sustainability” have become mantras of environmentalists, the UN, federal, state, and local governments, and even some corporations that strive to be politically correct. The City of Tucson has an Office of Conservation and Sustainable Development. Perusal of that site shows that City bureaucrats and administrators have swallowed carbon-dioxide flavored Kool-Aid and sing Kumbaya to each other.

Sustainable development (aka Agenda 21) has its origins in a United Nations program. Henry Lamb of Sovereignty International traces its history in an article in Canada Free Press:

Agenda 21 was developed over a period of time, traceable from the 1972 U.N. Conference on the Environment, which identified “environmental protection” as the world’s greatest problem, and gave the world the U.N. Environmental Programme, followed almost immediately by Nixon’s Executive Order that created the EPA.

Then came the 1976 U.N. Conference on Human Settlements, signed by the U.S., which proclaimed that “Public control of land use is…indispensable.” The next major step was the creation of the U.N. World Commission on Environment and Development in 1983, chaired by Gro Harlem Brundtland. The commission issued its final report in 1987, called Our Common Future. This document produced the concept and defined the term “Sustainable Development” to be: “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

This rather ambiguous definition was spelled out in great detail in a 40-chapter, 300-page document titled Agenda 21, signed and adopted by 179 nations in 1992 at the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro.

A document from that 1976 UN conference states: “Land…cannot be treated as an ordinary asset, controlled by individuals and subject to the pressures and inefficiencies of the market. Private land ownership is also a principal instrument of accumulation and concentration of wealth and therefore contributes to social injustice…”

To repeat the definition: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

On the surface, that sounds all warm and fuzzy, perhaps even prudent. But below the surface we find impracticality and an assault on private property rights and liberty.

Sustainable development invariably involves giving some central authority control over the economy. The former Soviet Union is a good example of how badly that works.

The reason central planning doesn’t work is that we cannot know what the needs of future generations will be. The concept of sustainable development is actually one of arrogance.

The NAS report excerpts:

“This report is the first in-depth critical study of the sustainability movement in higher education. The movement, of course, extends well beyond the college campus. It affects party politics, government bureaucracy, the energy industry, Hollywood, schools, and consumers. But the college campus is where the movement gets its voice of authority, and where it molds the views and commands the attention of young people.”

“We also examine the financial costs to colleges and universities in their efforts to achieve some of the movement’s goals. Often the movement presents its program as saving these institutions money. But we have found that American colleges and universities currently spend more than $3.4 billion per year pursuing their dreams of ‘sustainability’ at a time when college tuitions are soaring and 7.5 percent of recent college graduates are unemployed and another 46 percent underemployed. In addition to the direct costs of the movement, we examine the growing demands by sustainability advocates that colleges and universities divest their holdings in carbon-based energy companies without regard to forgone income or growth in their endowments. What makes ‘sustainability’ so important that institutions facing financial

distress are willing to prioritize spending on it? In this report, we examine that question.”

“To the unwary, ‘sustainability’ is the newer name for environmentalism. But the goals of the sustainability movement are different. They go far beyond ensuring clean air and water and protecting vulnerable plants and animals. As an ideology, sustainability takes aim at economic and political liberty. Sustainability pictures economic liberty as a combination of strip mining, industrial waste, and rampant pollution. It pictures political liberty as people voting to enjoy the present, heedless of what it will cost future generations. Sustainability’s alternative to economic liberty is a regime of far-reaching regulation that controls virtually every aspect of energy, industry, personal consumption, waste, food, and transportation. Sustainability’s alternative to political liberty is control vested in agencies and panels run by experts insulated from elections or other expressions of popular will.”

How pervasive is the “sustainability” movement? NAS reports:

“There are upwards of 50 professional bodies to serve the intellectual and career interests of sustainability experts. There are 1,438 sustainability-focused academic programs at 475 campuses in 65 states and provinces to credential those experts.”

“Hundreds of millions of dollars in private philanthropy have been channeled into sustainability research. Government agencies, too, have poured billions into academic research aligned with the sustainability movement’s agenda. The EPA alone has spent more than $333 million in the last 15 years sponsoring sustainability fellowships, predominantly for college and university professors, in addition to another $60 million in sustainability research grants. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration records show more than $3 billion in grants for climate science research since 1998 (more than $89 million in 2014), while the National Institutes of Health has granted in the last four years alone $28 million for research on climate change and another $580 million on ‘Climate-Related Exposures and Conditions.’ The National Science Foundation records show more than $1.7 billion since 1998 in sustainability research grants. The National Endowment for the Arts invested $2 million over the same period. The disparity in date ranges available in government grant databases makes direct comparisons difficult. But these numbers indicate an average of $465 million in federal funding for sustainability and climate change research each year—though in recent years government funding for climate research has increased substantially.”

Could you think of some better use for those funds, time, and energy?

The NAS report concludes with 10 recommendations in the form of advice to colleges and universities to uphold with greater vigor their traditional standards.

See also:

Capitalism is not a zero sum game

Climate and Communism

Environmental Sophistry

The Collectivist Mind

How NEPA crushes productivity

How Tucson Water spends Conservation Fund money and a suggestion for a better way

If you are a Tucson Water customer, you may have noticed an item on the back page of your water bill listed as: “CONSRV FEE $.07/CCF.” This means you are contributing seven cents per cubic foot of water used to a conservation fund. That may not sound like much, but according to an article by Tim Steller, that added up to $2.95 million last year. By the way, this “contribution” to the conservation fund will rise to eight cents per CCF on July 15.

So, how is that money being used? The answer to that question is the objective of a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request filed last January by Mark Lewis, one of five members of the City’s Conservation and Education Subcommittee of the Citizens Water Advisory Committee.

Tucson Water has to date refused to provide the information requested by Mr. Lewis. According to Mr. Lewis, the information requested is “to gather the documentation and information necessary to ensure the funds collected from Tucson Water customers under the Conservation Fee program has been properly accounted for, audited, and expensed.” Mr. Lewis has expressed concern, in his role as an appointed advocate for the Rate Payers of Tucson Water, that the millions of dollars which have been spent through this fund have not been properly tracked or audited and that more recent uses of this fund are not consistent with the purpose of the fund: conserving water.

One conservation program promoted by Tucson Water is the replacement of old toilets with new low-flow models. Tucson Water will give you a $75 rebate toward the cost. According to Steller’s article, “water-wasting toilets remain in around 150,000 Tucson homes, and the program to replace them saved almost 11 million gallons in the first eight months of this fiscal year alone.” Mr. Lewis supports this program, but points out that the small rebate may be insufficient, especially for older homes which may have complicated plumbing issues that would make replacement more expensive.

Another conservation program is rainwater harvesting. Tucson Water will provide a rebate of up to $2000 for installing a system. Steller points out that “those rebates have mostly benefitted wealthier residents and so far have resulted in no measurable reduction in water use.” Mr. Lewis notes that the $900,000 in rain water rebates to date saved no water, but had the same money been spent on wasteful toilets it would have saved 173 million gallons of water to date.

You can read about the program in a brochure provided by Tucson Water: http://www.tucsonaz.gov/files/water/docs/Rainwater_Harvesting_Rebate_brochure.pdf

In that brochure, Tucson Water claims that “45% of the water we use goes to outdoor irrigation.” That number surprises me; I wonder if it is true. The brochure also notes that in order to qualify for the rebate, you have to take a free class. And here is where it gets interesting.

The qualifying class is run by Watershed Management Group, a consulting firm that, for a fee, will design a rainwater harvesting system for you. Three board members of Watershed Management Group, Catlow Shipek, Mark Murphy, and Amy McCoy, comprise three of the five members of the City’s Conservation and Education Subcommittee of the Citizens Water Advisory Committee. The classes are also given by a company that sells rain gutters according to Mr. Lewis. This situation has the appearance of crony capitalism and conflict of interest.

There is another scheme afoot. Tucson City Councilwoman Regina Romero has proposed that $300,000 be used to provide interest free loans to low-income residents so they can plant trees and have them watered by rainwater harvesting systems. Romero is concerned about the “unequal distribution of tree canopy in Tucson…” and its effect on the Urban Heat Island Effect (cities are warmer than surrounding countryside because all the asphalt and concrete absorb heat which makes nighttime cooling much slower). I see two potential problems with this scheme. First, we would have to cover a large part of the city with trees to have any significant effect. Second, all those trees will transpire water, losing moisture to the atmosphere rather than conserving water for reuse.

Given the information above, do you think your forced subsidy is being well-spent?

I have a suggestion on how the money could be spent to actually conserve water.

One of the eco-fads promoted by Tucson Water is rainwater harvesting at residences. So far, that program has resulted in no measurable reduction in water use. But perhaps, if that idea was used on a larger scale, it could help recharge our aquifers. Why don’t we collect storm-water runoff from city streets and in ephemeral flows in the Santa Cruz River and pump that water back into the aquifers via dry wells?

That idea is discussed by Chuck Graf, Senior Hydrologist, Arizona Department of

Environmental Quality in a short article in the Spring Issue of Arizona Water Resource Newsletter (link to article).

This idea is not new. Phoenix began recharging storm-water in the 1930s and now has more than 50,000 wells in operation. Many other communities also use this recharge method. Why not in Tucson and Pima County?

The practice of dry well recharge in Phoenix went largely unregulated until 1987 when legislature directed the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) to license dry well installers and establish a registration program for existing and newly constructed dry wells. The law expressly limited the use of dry wells to the disposal of storm water. This limitation was intended to prevent disposal of hazardous chemicals into dry wells, which in the past had caused severe groundwater contamination plumes (some of which are still under remediation).

Graf explains the dry well method as follows:

“The dry well borehole is drilled in alluvial sediments, through any intervening fine-grained and cemented zones, into a permeable layer of clay-free sand, gravel, and cobbles. The permeable layer serves as the injection zone for the storm water. ADEQ requires at least 10 feet of separation between the bottom of the injection zone and the water table. Because groundwater commonly occurs at great depth in Arizona’s alluvial basins, installers often have considerable leeway to find an exceptionally permeable zone above the water table that maximizes dry well performance while maintaining a much greater separation distance than the 10-foot minimum.”

Graf goes on to write:

“Potential adverse groundwater quality impact is the biggest concern about dry wells. Although the definitive water quality study probably remains to be done, a number of studies, including a 10-year study in Los Angeles conducted by the Bureau of Reclamation and others, found little evidence for groundwater contamination. A 1985 study in Phoenix found that dry wells had a beneficial effect on groundwater quality with respect to major chemical constituents”

This idea should be considered. Perhaps then, our involuntary contribution to the “Conservation Fund” would actually conserve some water.

END

The Origin of Vaccine Fears

Some parents refuse to have their children vaccinated because of the fear that the vaccinations may cause autism and other problems. That fear was bolstered in Britain with the publication of a 1998 paper by Andrew Wakefield in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet. That paper claimed a link between the triple vaccine combination MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) and inflammatory bowel disease and autism. The paper was retracted in 2010 after a long investigation by reporter Brian Deer for the London Sunday Times. Wakefield was removed from the U.K. medical registry in 2010, after the longest-ever professional misconduct hearing by the UK’s General Medical Council.

You can read a summary of the seven-year investigation here: http://briandeer.com/mmr/lancet-summary.htm It is a long article which I will further summarize.

According to the article:

It all started with a British lawyer, Richard Barr, “a jobbing solicitor in the small eastern English town of King’s Lynn, who hoped to raise a speculative class action lawsuit against drug companies which manufactured the triple shot. Barr hired medical researcher Andrew Wakefield to find some problem with MMR. “The goal was to find evidence of what the two men claimed to be a ‘new syndrome’, intended to be the centrepiece of (later failed) litigation on behalf of an eventual 1,600 British families, recruited through media stories.”

Wakefield’s entire study “reported on the cases of just 12 anonymous children with apparent brain disorders who had been admitted to a pediatric bowel unit at the Royal Free hospital in Hampstead, north London, between July 1996 and February 1997.”

“The prime cause of the alarm was findings in the paper claiming that the parents of two thirds of the 12 children blamed MMR for the sudden onset of what was described as a combination of both an inflammatory bowel disease and what Wakefield called ‘regressive autism’, in which language and basic skills were said to have been lost. Most disturbingly, the first behavioral symptoms were reported to have appeared within only 14 days of the shot.”

Deer’s investigation showed that Wakefield was well-paid for his findings. The investigation also found a conflict of interest: The Sunday Times investigation found that in “June 1997 – nearly nine months before the press conference at which Wakefield called for single vaccines – he had filed a patent on products, including his own supposedly ‘safer’ single measles vaccine, which only stood any prospect of success if confidence in MMR was damaged.”

Deer’s investigation also found that the original 12 children were not what they appeared to be. “In the Lancet, the 12 children (11 boys and one girl) had been held out as merely a routine series of kids with developmental disorders and digestive symptoms, needing care from the London hospital. That so many of their parents blamed problems on one common vaccine, understandably, caused public concern. But Deer discovered that nearly all the children (aged between 2½ and 9½) had been pre-selected through MMR campaign groups, and that, at the time of their admission, most of their parents were clients and contacts of the lawyer, Barr.”

“The investigation revealed, moreover, that the paper’s incredible purported finding – of a sudden onset of autism within days of vaccination – was a sham: laundering into medical literature, as apparent facts, the unverified, vague – and sometimes altered – memories and assertions of a group of unnamed parents who, unknown to the journal and its readers, were bound to blame MMR when they came to the hospital because that was why they had been brought there.”

The bottom line is that the original paper, which precipitated so much concern, was based on fraud. No other researchers have been able to replicate the results of Wakefield’s original paper.
Read the entire summary of investigation linked above.