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De Omnibus Dubitandum - Lux Veritas

Monday, July 25, 2016

TSCA Supported by The American Council on Science and Health

Posted on by admin  @ The American Council on Science and Health

President Barack Obama has signed the bipartisan amendment to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which updates the 1976 law for the first time in 20 years.

The amendment was support by organizations like the American Chemistry Council, the American Council on Science and Health and almost the entire chemical industry, because it is more of an evidence-based alternative than other proposals like the Safe Chemicals Act, which was more activism than science.

For that reason, environmentalists were actually critical of this update that gives the Environmental Protection Agency more power, because it would preempt state laws, like California’s California Safer Consumer Products regulation.

But if the concern is public health, then parameters that prioritize chemicals for risk assessment and focus on particular use scenarios, rather than lazily analyzing epidemiology papers and declaring “hazard” as the U.N.’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) does, is going to be a win for everyone.

A patchwork of state laws, paid for by $1 billion in environmental juggernauts, is not protecting Americans. This is a win because it doesn’t lend itself to arbitrary decisions.
It requires:

  • Evaluations of chemicals based purely on the health risks they pose
  • Existing chemicals to be evaluated, with clear and enforceable deadlines, no arbitrary decisions.

My Take - For as long as this has been in the works I've been opposed to it, especially when the American Chemistry Council is in support - or in in support of anything else for that matter.  However, there must have been some tough negotiations over this in support of sound science for the American Council on Science and Health to sign on.  Now it would appear there's going to be a basis for lawsuits against the EPA - or anyone else in government attempting to impose regulations that are not science based. 

However - let's keep in mind we have a law that already requires that very thing.  It called the Information Quality Act passed in 2001, which required government agencies to use the best science available in promulgating regulations -  and it's not done one darn thing to stop any of the depredations of the EPA, the Wildlife Service, the Army Corp of Engineers or any other overreaching governmental agency. 

The American Council on Science and Health petitioned the EPA in 2005 to stop declaring chemicals carcinogenic based on rodent testing alone as this is no longer considered the best science available.  ACSH noted that the law permits EPA “to adopt policies that err on the side of caution when faced with genuinely equivocal evidence regarding a substance's carcinogenicity, but the IQA does not permit EPA to distort the scientific evidence in furtherance of such policies.”

The petition argues that EPA ”distorts scientific evidence through its Guidelines' use of "default options," its purported right -- based not on scientific evidence but its regulatory mission to protect human health -- to assume that tumors in lab rodents indicate that much smaller doses can cause cancer in humans. Erring on the "safe side" in regulatory decisions does not, argues the petition, permit EPA to falsely claim that such regulated substances truly are "likely to be carcinogenic to humans." To do so, argues ACSH, is a distortion of both science and law. “

Finally after months of delays the
EPA formally responded saying “that their Risk Assessment Guidelines are not statements of scientific fact -- and thus not covered by the IQA -- but merely statements of EPA policy.” My question was then and is now. If EPA policies aren’t based on scientific fact, what are they based on?

It's clear these agencies could care less about any law that restricts their activism.  Will this be any different?  Petitions don't work-----lawsuits with penalties do!  Who will do it when the time comes - and that time will come - make no mistake about that. 

Posted on by Julianna LeMieux

There has been a lot of talk about the Aedes mosquito since Zika first became widely known. Rarely does a day go by when something about Zika doesn’t make the news. But the same mosquitoes also spread another infection, one that we hear almost nothing about, and it can be far worse than Zika.

The World Health Organization released a situation report last week regarding a yellow fever outbreak in West Africa. This has all of the markings of the next global health emergency, and it may happen very quickly.

Like other mosquito transmitted viral infections, most people who are bitten and contract the virus do not have symptoms. When they do, the symptoms are similar to those of flu: fever, headache, nausea/vomiting, and backache. As you can imagine, yellow fever is frequently mistaken for malaria or any other infection that includes a fever and headache. In most people, yellow fever subsides within three to four days.

However, in a small percentage of patients, there is a second, much more severe wave of the infection that hits a day after the initial set of symptoms passes. In this second wave, the high fever returns, and with it, a wallop to several different organs of the body, most frequently the liver and kidneys. Patients develop jaundice, which gives the skin and eyes a yellow hue — this is where the disease gets its name — dark colored urine, and black vomit. In some, bleeding occurs from the mouth, nose, eyes or stomach. People who enter this second phase of the disease have a 50 percent chance of surviving. ......Read more

Science or advocacy?

Students are learning energy and climate change advocacy, not climate science

David R. Legates

For almost thirty years, I have taught climate science at three different universities. What I have observed is that students are increasingly being fed climate change advocacy as a surrogate for becoming climate science literate. This makes them easy targets for the climate alarmism that pervades America today.

Earth’s climate probably is the most complicated non-living system one can study, because it naturally integrates astronomy, chemistry, physics, biology, geology, hydrology, oceanography and cryology, and also includes human behavior by both responding to and affecting human activities. Current concerns over climate change have further pushed climate science to the forefront of scientific inquiry.

What should we be teaching college students?

At the very least, a student should be able to identify and describe the basic processes that cause Earth’s climate to vary from poles to equator, from coasts to the center of continents, from the Dead Sea or Death Valley depression to the top of Mount Everest or Denali. A still more literate student would understand how the oceans, biosphere, cryosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere – driven by energy from the sun – all work in constantly changing combinations to produce our very complicated climate.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s definition of climate science literacy raises the question of whether climatology is even a science. It defines climate science literacy as “an understanding of your influence on climate and climate’s influence on you and society.”

How can students understand and put into perspective their influence on the Earth’s climate if they don’t understand the myriad of processes that affect our climate? If they don’t understand the complexity of climate itself? If they are told only human aspects matter? And if they don’t understand these processes, how can they possibly comprehend how climate influences them and society in general?

Worse still, many of our colleges are working against scientific literacy for students.

At the University of Delaware, the Maryland and Delaware Climate Change Education Assessment and Research  (MADE CLEAR)
 defines the distinction between weather and climate by stating that “climate is measured over hundreds or thousands of years,” and defining climate as “average weather.” That presupposes that climate is static, or should be, and that climate change is unordinary in our lifetime and, by implication, undesirable.

Climate, however, is not static. It is highly variable, on timescales from years to millennia – for reasons that include, but certainly are not limited to, human activity.

This Delaware-Maryland program identifies rising concentrations of greenhouse gases – most notably carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – as the only reason why temperatures have risen about 0.6°C (1.1ยบ F) over the last century and will supposedly continue to rise over the next century. Students are then instructed to save energy, calculate their carbon footprint, and reduce, reuse, recycle. Mastering these concepts, they are told, leads to “climate science literacy.” It does not.

In the past, I have been invited to speak at three different universities during their semester-long and college-wide focus on climate science literacy. At all three, two movies were required viewing by all students, to assist them in becoming climate science literate: Al Gore’s biased version of climate science, An Inconvenient Truth, and the 2004 climate science fiction disaster film, The Day After Tomorrow.

This past spring, the University of Delaware sponsored an Environmental Film Festival featuring six films. Among them only An Inconvenient Truth touched at all on the science behind climate change, albeit in such a highly flawed way that
in Britain, students must be warned about its bias.

The other films were activist-oriented and included movies that are admittedly science fiction or focus on “climate change solutions.”

For these films, university faculty members were selected to moderate discussions. We have a large College of Earth, Ocean and the Environment, from which agreeable, scientifically knowledgeable faculty could have been chosen. Instead, discussion of An Inconvenient Truth was led by a professor of philosophy, and one movie – a documentary on climate change “solutions” that argues solutions are pertinent irrespective of the science – was moderated by a civil engineer.

Discussion of the remaining four films was led by faculty from history, English and journalism. Clearly, there was little interest in the substance of the science.

Many fundamentals of climate science are absent from university efforts to promote climate science literacy. For example, students seldom learn that the most important chemical compound with respect to the Earth’s climate is not carbon dioxide, but water. Water influences almost every aspect of the Earth’s energy balance, because it is so prevalent, because it appears in solid, liquid and gas form in substantial quantities, and because energy is transferred by the water’s mobility and when it changes its physical state. Since precipitation varies considerably from year to year, changes in water availability substantially affect our climate every year.

Hearing about water, however, doesn’t set off alarms like carbon dioxide does.

Contributing to the increased focus on climate change advocacy is the pressure placed on faculty members who do not sign on to the advocacy bandwagon. The University of Delaware has played the role of activist and used FOIA requests to attempt to intimidate me because I have spoken out about climate change alarmism. In my article published in Academic Questions, “ The University vs. Academic Freedom,” I discuss the university’s willingness to go along with Greenpeace in its quest for my documents and emails pertaining to my research.

Much grant money and fame, power and influence, are to be had for those who follow the advocates’ game plan. By contrast, the penalties for not going along with alarmist positions are quite severe.

For example, one of the films shown at the University of Delaware’s film festival presents those who disagree with climate change extremism as pundits for hire who misrepresent themselves as a scientific authority. Young faculty members are sent a very pointed message: adopt the advocacy position – or else.

Making matters worse, consider Senate Bill 3074. Introduced into the U.S. Senate on June 16 of this year, it authorizes the establishment of a national climate change education program. Once again, the emphasis is on teaching energy and climate advocacy, rather than teaching science and increasing scientific knowledge and comprehension.

The director of the National Center for Science Education commented that the bill was designed to “[equip] students with the knowledge and knowhow required for them to flourish in a warming world.” Unfortunately, it will do little to educate them regarding climate science.

I fear that our climate science curriculum has been co-opted, to satisfy the climate change fear-mongering agenda that pervades our society today. Instead of teaching the science behind Earth’s climate, advocates have taken the initiative to convert it to a social agenda of environmental activism.

Climatology, unfortunately, has been transformed into a social and political science. There is nothing wrong with either of those “sciences,” of course. But the flaws underpinning climate science advocacy are masked by “concern for the environment,” when climate is no longer treated as a physical science.

Climate science must return to being a real science and not simply a vehicle to promote advocacy talking points. When that happens, students will find that scientific facts are the real “inconvenient truths.” 
David R. Legates, PhD, CCM, is a Professor of Climatology at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware. A version of this article appeared on the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy website.