July 15, 2002

The Green Holocaust Files #7: Apocalypse Now!


Hello everyone

The numbers about the precipitous decline of our planet's life-sustaining abilities are mind-numbing and fail to graphically render the scope and sad horror of this ecosuicidal tragedy. We are being emphatically warned - once again! - that unless we change our ways, especially the wasteful American Way of Life, our common future will be very dire indeed.

Jean Hudon
Earth Rainbow Network Coordinator
http://www.cybernaute.com/earthconcert2000

P.S. See also my latest Media Compilation #79: Global Economic Collapse Imminent at http://www.cybernaute.com/earthconcert2000/Archives2002/MediaCompilation79.htm which I introduced this way:

"Frankly I'd say the following warning about an imminent worldwide economic debacle is a MUST read and a MUST heed. Despite the deep traumas it will leave in its wake, this crisis could be a blessing in disguise as it will force the world to rethink its priorities and values and perhaps - in the long run - create a money-less, crook/filthyrich-free, sharing-based world economic system where the prime incentive will no longer be "the most you can grab and selfishly keep for yourself", but instead "the most you can accomplish to better serve the common good." Greed in the end can only lead to an abyss of abject poverty for the vast majority of the world population and to global environmental devastation as we see everywhere today. The time to change our ways and start afresh on a new saner, sustainable path is now."


CONTENTS

1. Summary of the Living Planet Report 2002
2. Get Used To It! Bush Admits Dangers Of Pollution -- And Refuses Action
3. California Strikes a Blow Against Global Warming
4. Let's Push Bush on Warming
5. Toyota to market fuel cell cars this year
6. THE POLLUTER PAYS BUT WHO PROFITS?


See also:

Humanity's footprint is crushing the Earth (9 July)
http://www.panda.org/news/features/story.cfm?id=3019

Press release on the Living Planet Report 2002
http://www.panda.org/news/press/news.cfm?id=3017
Humans running up huge 'overdraft' with the planet says new WWF report.

Redefining Progress
http://www.redefiningprogress.org">
Redefining Progress is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that develops policies and tools that reorient the economy to care for people and nature first.

Poll finds little support for Bush's global warming policy
http://www.ucsusa.org/releases/07-08-02.html
76 Percent of Voters Say that Voluntary Pollution Cuts Won't Work

Clear and Present Danger
http://www.seen.org/pages/press_releases/pr_leak.shtml
The $2 billion dollars per year the World Bank Group has invested in oil, gas, and mining projects in poor and developing countries presents a “clear and present danger” to the global environment.

Global Warming and Climate Change Full Coverage
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/fc/World/Global_Warming/

Severe U.S. Weather Full Coverage
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/fc/US/Severe_Weather/

NOTE: Close to a million homes have now been destroyed by floods & storms in China and 20 million acres of crops laid to waste by fierce wind, rain and hail storms. More than 800 deads so far!




1.

Summary of the Living Planet Report 2002

According to a new report released June 8 by the World Wildlife Fund, planet Earth is running out of room and resources. Modern man has plundered so much, the report claims, that outer space will have to be colonised in order to ensure the continued existence of humanity as we know it.

The report claims that Earth's population will be forced to colonise at least two planets within 50 years if natural resources continue to be exploited at the current rate. Basing its claims on scientific data from across the world, the report reveals that more than a third of the natural world has been destroyed by humans over the past three decades.

The full report warns that the wasteful and consumption-driven lifestyles of the rich industrialized nations are mainly responsible for the exploitation and depletion of natural wealth. Human consumption has doubled over the last 30 years and continues to accelerate by 1.5 per cent a year.

A spokesman for the WWF, said: "If all the people consumed natural resources at the same rate as the average U.S. and U.K. citizen we would require at least two extra planets like Earth."

---

World Wildlife Fund Predicts Apocalypse

SUMMARY

Living Planet Report 2002

9 July 2002

The Living Planet Report is WWF’s periodic update on the state of the world’s ecosystems - as measured by the Living Planet Index - and the human pressures on them through the consumption of renewable natural resources - as measured by the Ecological Footprint. There is a cause-effect linkage between the two measures. The Living Planet Index (LPI) is derived from trends over the past 30 years in populations of hundreds of species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish. Between 1970 and 2000, it declined by about 35%. The LPI is the average of three ecosystem-based indices. The forest species population index declined by about 15%, the marine species population index fell by about 35%, while the freshwater species population index dropped 55% over the 30-year period. The stark trends indicated by the LPI are a quantitative confirmation that the world is currently undergoing a very rapid loss of biodiversity comparable with the great mass extinction events that have previously occurred only five or six times in the Earth’s history. The Ecological Footprint (EF) is a measure of the consumption of renewable natural resources by a human population, be it that of a country, a region or the whole world. A population’s EF is the total area of productive land or sea required to produce all the crops, meat, seafood, wood and fibre it consumes, to sustain its energy consumption and to give space for its infrastructure. The EF can be compared with the biologically productive capacity of the land and sea available to that population.

The Earth has about 11.4 billion hectares of productive land and sea space, after all unproductive areas of icecaps, desert and open ocean are discounted, or about a quarter of its surface area. Divided between the global population of six billion people, this total equates to just 1.9 hectares per person. While the EF of the average African or Asian consumer was less than 1.4 hectares per person in 1999, the average Western European’s footprint was about 5.0 hectares, and the average North American’s was about 9.6 hectares.

The EF of the world average consumer in 1999 was 2.3 hectares per person, or 20% above the earth’s biological capacity of 1.90 hectares per person. In other words, humanity now exceeds the planet’s capacity to sustain its consumption of renewable resources. We are able to maintain this global overdraft on a temporary basis by eating into the earth’s capital stocks of forest, fish and fertile soils. We also dump our excess carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. Neither of these two activities are sustainable in the long-term – the only sustainable solution is to live within the biological productive capacity of the earth.

However, current trends are moving humanity away from achieving this minimum requirement for sustainability, not towards it. The global ecological footprint has grown from about 70% of the planet’s biological capacity in 1961 to about 120% of its biological capacity in 1999. Furthermore, future projections based on likely scenarios of population growth, economic development and technological change, show that humanity’s footprint is likely to grow to about 180% to 220% of the Earth’s biological capacity by the year 2050.

Of course, it is very unlikely that the Earth would be able to run an ecological overdraft for another 50 years without some severe ecological backlashes undermining future population and economic growth. But it would be far better to control our own destiny than to leave it to nature. If we are to return to a sustainable development pathway, it means making changes in four fundamental ways. First, it is necessary to improve the resource-efficiency with which goods and services are produced. Second, we must consume resources more efficiently, and redress the disparity in consumption between high and low income countries. Third, population growth must be controlled through promoting universal education and health care. And, finally, it is imperative that we protect, manage and restore natural ecosystems in order to conserve biodiversity and maintain ecological services, and so conserve and enhance the planet’s biological productivity, for the benefit of present and future generations.

Download the entire Living Planet Report 2002 at
http://www.panda.org/livingplanet/lpr02/

See also:

Earth 'Will Expire By 2050' Says New Report
http://www.rense.com/general26/earthexp.htm
Doomed By Human Rape Of Planet's Resources




2.

From: http://www.tompaine.com/feature.cfm/ID/5752

Get Used To It! Bush Admits Dangers Of Pollution -- And Refuses Action

Jun 07

The world is becoming hotter and the air you breathe can give you cancer, according to two new EPA studies. But, the Bush administration says, don’t worry about it. In the last week of May, the Bush EPA -- that’s nearly an oxymoron -- posted on its Web sites two significant reports, one on global warming, the other on air toxics. For neither did the EPA issue a press release or hold a press conference; the air toxics assessment was placed on the site on a Friday, the day of choice for bureaucrats looking to avoid media attention. Despite the EPA’s efforts, the global warming paper -- which confirmed the scientific consensus that human-generated greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide from cars and power plants, are the main cause of global warming -- hit the front-page of The New York Times and sparked a mini-controversy. The air toxics report, which showed the cancer risks of air pollution, produced barely a sigh. And on each of these fronts, the administration has offered no policy that would truly address the problem confirmed.

Let’s look at the air toxics report first. This years-in-the-making study examined the risk posed by 32 common air pollutants, 29 of which are classified as carcinogens. Using data from 1996, the EPA concluded that more than 200 million Americans live where the cancer risk from these substances exceeds a 10-in-1 million risk, meaning that there would be 10 additional cancers (attributable solely to these chemicals) for every 1 million people. That may not sound like much (except, of course, if you are one of the unlucky ones), but the EPA typically tries to deal with cancer risks between one in 1 million and 100 in 1 million. Moreover, there are plenty of areas where the EPA found a greater risk than the average. "This report shows the risks are still very high for breathing outside air," says Dr. Gina Solomon, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The unpromoted EPA Web site for this study is rather nifty; it allows visitors to look up individual states. I gave Washington, D.C., a spin and saw the cancer risk was close to 200 in a million (that’s one in 5,000). To be slightly less parochial, I checked Los Angeles: the risk was the same as Washington. The site also lets you check where certain toxics are especially bad. "It’s pretty useful," says Solomon. "You can see where toxic hotspots exist. It’s a shame this hasn’t gotten more attention." She notes that in some locales the risk is one in 1,000 and that the maps contain a pattern of pollution -- involving mercury and soot -- that runs from the northern Midwest to New England. This swath of dangerous air is probably caused by coal-burning power plants.

The study also calculated the non-cancer health effects of a lifetime of exposure to these toxics. It concluded that the "respiratory hazard index" exceeded 1.0 for "nearly the entire U.S. population," noting that a hazard index "greater than 1.0 can be best described as indicating that a potential may exist for adverse effects." For 20 million Americans, the hazard index surpassed 10.0.

The Washington Post published a four-paragraph item on the study on page A16, under the headline, "200 Million in US Face Cancer Risk, EPA Says," without mentioning the details for Washington. Why wasn’t this worth more space? As far as I can tell, only the Los Angeles Times ran a full story on the study, with a subhead that stated, "For millions of Americans, many of them living in California, the danger is 100 times greater than acceptable levels." This may not be news you can use. After all, are you going to stop breathing? But it is news you deserve to know. Especially when the Bush administration is trying to provide industry more slack in dealing with its emissions and has presented a so-called "clean skies" initiative that will lessen pollutants at a slower pace than that mandated by current clean-air laws.

“What a wonderful strategy for industry and its political comrades: they denied global warming for so long, until there is no longer a possible remedy.”

The Bushies succeeded in burying the air toxics assessment. They failed with the global warming report. Written in keeping with obligations the United States has under an early climate change treaty signed by Bush’s father, the study says the United States will experience dramatic environmental changes due to global warming in the coming decades. A partial list includes heat waves and other extreme weather, loss of wetlands and coastland, pest outbreaks, more air pollution, and water shortages. Bush tried to distance himself from the study, dismissing it as a "report put out by the bureaucracy," and his chief mouthpiece, Ari Fleischer, said there still is "considerable uncertainty" on the scientific causes of global warming. But the report did allow the administration to have its carbon dioxide and eat it, too. While it confirmed what environmentalist and other nations have been saying about global warming for years, it expressed doubt concerning the ability of emission cuts to counter the damage already in progress.

What a wonderful strategy for industry and its political comrades: they denied global warming for so long, until there is no longer a possible remedy. Now that pro-business Republicans finally concede global warming is under way and caused by human activity, they claim it’s too late to do anything and argue that decreasing greenhouse gases -- as called for by the Kyoto treaty the Bush administration trashed -- won’t matter. The message contained in the report is, global warming is indeed coming, but nothing can really be done, so get used to it.

The White House isn’t quite that frank in public. It still is trying to fool people into believing the President cares and is addressing the problem. Scott McClellan, a White House spokesman, said, "It is important to move forward on the president’s strategies for addressing the challenge of climate change, and that’s what we’re continuing to do." In response to questions from the White House press corps about Bush’s snotty reaction to his own EPA’s study, Fleischer maintained Bush’s climate change proposal "can reduce the problem of greenhouse gases and global warming."

But no one in the briefing room that day posed the obvious challenge to Fleischer. Bush’s plan calls for voluntary reductions in the growth of greenhouse gases. That means it’s fine by him if the United States’ production of greenhouse gases continues to rise, as long as it increases at a pace slower than the growth of the economy. If the economy expands by 2.5 percent, then the amount of greenhouse gases produced can go up by 2.4 percent. It’s tough to see how permitting more greenhouse gases will "reduce the problem" of global warming. The Bush administration ought to drop this fig leaf. If (as its new report argues) Kyoto-style reductions are not going to repair the atmosphere -- a proposition open to challenge -- Bush’s rinky-dink proposal surely won’t mean a thing. Why bother with it -- except for politics? Instead, he should offer tax credits for air conditioning (for the report does advocate more air conditioning) and sun screen.

Here’s a philosophical question. Is it worse to deny a problem exists, or to recognize the problem but then, rather purposefully, do nothing of substance? The air, according to government scientists, is a threat to the nation. Yet Bush refuses to act upon the evidence. With this less-than-serious response, he signals that, really, really, the air is just fine. It’s a reverse Chicken Little position -- which can be quite dangerous when the sky is actually falling.




3.

From: http://www.truthout.org/docs_02/07.03F.cal.no.warm.htm

Jon Coifman
Natural Resources Defense Council

California Strikes a Blow Against Global Warming

Watershed Air Pollution Measure Passes California Assembly Today, Puts State in the Driver's Seat in Fight Against Global Warming. Clean Car Bill Will Unleash New Technologies in Cars & Trucks of All Sizes

Monday, 1 July, 2002

SACRAMENTO (July 1, 2002) - The California Legislature this evening passed legislation striking a watershed blow in the fight against global warming, reaffirming the state's worldwide leadership in pollution safeguards and clean vehicle technologies. Assembly Bill 1493 requires automakers for the first time to limit carbon dioxide and other global warming pollutants from new cars and light trucks. It also will reduce other pollutants, and save consumers money at the gas pump.

The measure is the first of its kind anywhere in the world. It cleared the Assembly this evening by a vote of 41-30. The State Senate passed the bill on Saturday. It now goes to Gov. Gray Davis for signature.

"This law is a giant leap in the fight for cleaner cars. It will put us on the road to a cooler, safer climate for the people of California," said Ann Notthoff, California Advocacy Director for NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council), a sponsor of the bill. "Supporters in the legislature deserve a round of applause for their vision and courage."

The bill by Assemblymember Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) is among the most important environmental bills in Sacramento this year. It is a major victory for Californians over a multi-million dollar campaign by automakers to defeat the measure.

Three quarters of Californians think the state should be doing more to address global warming, and 70 percent support new laws to cut global warming pollution from autos, according to a recent poll by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin and Associates.

In June the Bush administration released a startling report describing the dangerous and costly effects of global warming in the U.S., but offered not a single solution.

"AB 1493 shows there are actions we can take right now to beat global warming," Notthoff said.

Cars and light trucks are responsible for 40 percent of California's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which form a heat-trapping blanket in the atmosphere. Just last month, researchers at UC-Santa Cruz published a detailed analysis outlining the severe threat of global warming to the state's water supply and coastal areas.

"Automakers have been fighting rules requiring cleaner, safer cars for 40 years. But when the time comes to deliver the technology, they've succeeded every time," Notthoff said. "AB 1493 sends a clear message to Detroit that that it's time to step up to the plate."

Common Sense Approach to Pollution Clean-Up

AB 1493 requires the Air Resources Board to develop standards for carbon dioxide and other global warming pollutants by the end of 2005 that would take effect for new cars starting in model year 2009.

The bill explicitly states that the agency cannot impose taxes or restrict speed limits, vehicle size, or other consumer driving choices. It also gives automakers flexibility in meeting emissions targets.

Like California's other pollution control innovations, the bill will spur technological advances in Detroit and other automotive capitals. Cost-effective technologies are already available that would reduce CO2 and other global warming pollutants from cars and light trucks of all sizes. Advances in engine and transmission design, as well as improved aerodynamics and better tires all offer big opportunities.

Ford, GM and DaimlerChrysler have all announced plans to produce low CO2, fuel-efficient hybrid SUVs within the next few years. AB 1493 would accelerate the process, making cleaner solutions available sooner for more buyers across a broader range of vehicles.>

Broad Support for an Innovative Bill

The global warming pollution bill has broad support from leading figures in California's high technology industry. It is a top priority for the American Lung Association of California and nearly all the state's major environmental organizations. Supporters also include the California Teachers Association, California Nurses Association and the California Professional Firefighters.

Local government support comes from the cities of Los Angeles, San Jose, San Diego and San Francisco, as well as the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and water management authorities in Marin County, Santa Clara County and the East Bay. U.S. Senators Feinstein and Boxer and a majority of the state's House delegation also back the bill. The bill has been endorsed by major state newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee, San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News.

Car Makers Cry Wolf

The car industry opposes carbon dioxide limits, continuing their long history of protest whenever new health and safety challenges arise. But history has repeatedly proven them wrong: Despite auto industry protests, California has cut smog-forming pollution from passenger vehicles by over 90 percent, without restricting vehicle choice or reducing sales (indeed SUV sales are at an all time high).

The National Academy of Sciences, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, U.S. Energy Department and other independent experts around the country agree that CO2 pollution can be reduced dramatically without compromising safety, performance or the consumer's choice of cars, minivans or SUVs.

Global Warming Consequences in California

Carbon build-up from man-made pollution is causing global temperatures to rise faster in recent decades than at any time in history. Scientists predict that unless global warming emissions are reduced, average U.S. temperatures will be 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher by the end of the century.

That means Californians and their children face real threats if we don't get a handle on global warming emissions soon. Hotter temperatures increase smog formation, undercutting progress on cleaner air. Warming already appears to be disrupting natural cycles that provide water for our cities, farms and wildlife, as well as hydroelectric power to keep our lights on and businesses humming. Drought and pest outbreaks pose threats to agriculture. California coastlines will face rising sea levels and more severe storms, and experts predict wildfires could double due to dryer vegetation.




4.

From: http://www.truthout.org/docs_02/07.02D.jeffords.warm.htm

Let's Push Bush on Warming
by Senator Jim Jeffords
The New York Times

Monday, 1 July, 2002

Unhealthy air

WASHINGTON It is already too late for the United States to lead the world in the fight against global warming. President George W. Bush saw to that last year, when he abandoned his promise to make power plants reduce the amount of carbon dioxide they send into the air.

But if the president won't lead the world, then the business community, the American people and Congress must lead the president.

This month Bush gave up all pretense of moving to clean up the oldest and dirtiest power plants. First he denigrated the climate action report released by his own administration. That report follows the National Academy of Sciences by stating that global warming poses a significant threat. Then his administration announced perhaps the biggest rollback of the Clean Air Act in history, proposing wholesale weakening of the "new source review" provision that requires old power plants to install modern pollution controls when they are renovated.

Pollution from power plants causes a variety of problems. Three in particular are health-threatening: mercury contamination linked to birth defects, ozone smog that triggers asthma attacks and fine particulate soot that can actually lead to death. In addition, these plants emit the chemicals that cause acid rain and haze in our parks, as well as large amounts of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.

On Thursday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, of which I am chairman, voted to set strong limits on the three major health-threatening types of power-plant pollution and to put a cap, for the first time in American history, on the release of carbon dioxide from power plants.

The administration's climate action report projects that American emissions of carbon dioxide will rise by 43 percent by 2020. Yet its climate policy does little or nothing to control or reduce this increase.

This is a problem with a solution. The technology to clean up these plants already exists; some of it has been around for decades. What has been missing is the political will either to tell the owners to install this technology or to create a market to encourage that investment.

America is on the verge of a boom in power plant construction, and that provides a rare opportunity. Including carbon dioxide reductions in a comprehensive cleanup plan now is the most efficient and least costly way to address the threat of global warming. The power industry realizes that the question on carbon dioxide is not whether it will be regulated, but when.

Dealing with global warming is too important to leave solely to Washington. Several states, including New York, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, are acting on their own to limit power-plant emissions. But Washington has a crucial role. The scientific consensus has never been stronger. A broad and growing coalition of public health and environmental organizations and several utility companies agree that we must act now. I hope that Bush will follow this lead.




5.

Sent by "Mark Graffis" <mgraffis@vitelcom.net>

Toyota to market fuel cell cars this year

JAPAN: July 2, 2002

TOKYO - Toyota Motor Corp, the world's third largest automaker, said yesterday it would become the first carmaker to market a fuel cell passenger car, with a small number of vehicles to be offered from late this year.

The auto giant stressed, however, that high costs meant its marketing efforts would be limited and it said only 20 vehicles would only be leased in the first 12 months to government bodies, research institutions and energy-related companies.

"We are still deciding the price of the vehicle," Toyota spokeswoman Shino Yamada said.

Fuel cell vehicles are seen as one day being the eventual answer to most of the environmental concerns caused by cars.

Emitting only heat and water as by-products, fuel cells use an electrochemical process to create electricity by mixing hydrogen with oxygen.

However, hydrogen in its natural gaseous state is difficult to store and distribute, so fuel cells vehicles for the ordinary consumer are not seen likely anytime soon.

Toyota said it had brought forward a plan to begin marketing a fuel cell vehicle from 2003 after successfully road testing its FCHV-4 prototype for a year in Japan and the United States.

DaimlerChrysler AG first brought to market a limited series of fuel cell buses in 2000.

Other automakers have pledged to begin marketing fuel cell vehicles from next year or 2004.

Toyota said in a statement it expected full commercialisation of fuel cell vehicles from 2010 at the earliest, once standards were in place and the public better understood hydrogen fuel.

Toyota said the vehicles available from the end of the year would be offered only in Japan and the United States, in limited areas where the company had confirmed the availability of hydrogen supply and after-sales service.

Toyota, widely seen as the leader in environmentally friendly auto technology, put the first hybrid gasoline-electric vehicle, the Prius, on the market in 1997.




6.

From: http://MondeDiplo.com/2002/07/18weather

THE POLLUTER PAYS BUT WHO PROFITS?

Clean futures market

Scientists and researchers are experimenting with the atmosphere and climate, intending to profit hugely from selling carbon dioxide absorption to polluters in the fast-developing futures market. Do they know what they are doing, or are their ideas potentially dangerous cons?

by PHILIPPE BOVET and FRANÇOIS PLOYE

Climate control has come to be seen as a new way to make money. There will be an enormous market in greenhouse gas emission rights by 2008 because of the agreement signed by 167 countries at the Climate Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, last November (1). In the developed world, all polluting industries will have to cut back on harmful gas emissions or be fined. Although the United States was present at the conference, it has not ratified the agreement.

Climate control covers a wide variety of techniques, first and foremost the long-term sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2). There is much pressure for alternative solutions from industrialists unable or unwilling to cut back their own pollution. This is particularly true of multinationals involved in coal and oil; these activities produce a great deal of carbon dioxide and could therefore be under threat in the medium term. Energy giants like Exxon (oil) or Edison (coal) are doing their utmost to undo their polluter image.

Research is concentrating on four ways of storing CO2. The first, already been tried during oil and gas drilling, involves trapping carbon dioxide in vast underground caverns. The oil company Norsk Hydro uses it in Norway. TotalFinaElf will soon be spending several million euros on it (2). But, contrary to what they claim, the CO2 is not pumped into the ground for environmental reasons, but to maintain pressure in the well and extract as much fossil fuel as possible.

In 1999 the US Department of Energy asked the University of Berkeley and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to investigate a second technique, trapping CO2 in the oceans. Carbon dioxide is collected at source (say power station chimneys) and forced through pipelines to a depth of 1500 or even 3000 metres where the pressure of the water turns it into a liquid.

There is nothing to say that, once there, it will remain stable and not disperse. Hermann Ott, director of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy in Germany says: "We have no idea what reactions might be triggered. These CO2 deposits could have a far-reaching effect on the food chain." There are fears for fish life and the barrier reef in the South Seas, where experiments are reportedly being carried out (3).

The third line of research is into carbon dioxide absorption by plants. The aim is to greatly increase it by planting vast forests. The Marrakech conference endorsed this principle. It gives companies a chance to improve their brand image by investing to recreate forests in the guise of "carbon sinks". Peugeot is doing this in the Amazon. But things can go wrong; Japan's Toyota is reported to have investigated genetically modified trees to absorb greater amounts of CO2. In the same country, the Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE) is working on genetically modified plants capable of withstanding drought and climate extremes with a view to making deserts green.

Another even more controversial technique is iron dusting. Since shortage of nutrients like ammonia and iron stunts the growth of algae in some parts of the ocean, it has been proposed to sprinkle powdered iron over a few carefully chosen square kilometres. That would certainly cause a massive growth in algae. In the weekly journal Science of 12 October 2001, oceanologists warned of the risks from the uncontrolled spread of such commercial projects (4). But a number of small-scale experiments have already been carried out, not all of them by scientists. Others are planned. The Ocean Technology Group laboratory at Sydney University proposes using ammonia to fertilise the coasts of Chile both to increase carbon dioxide absorption and boost the output of fish. (This interests the Japanese, with their national taste for fish).

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