Iraqi Nuclear Scientist's Warnings "Banned" by US Media

While residing in Canada, Imad Khadduri, one of Iraq’s leading nuclear scientists, appeared on Canadian, US, and Arab talk shows in a futile attempt to counter misleading White House stories about Iraq’s nuclear aspirations. Despite his intimate appraisal of Iraq’s nuclear program, where he dedicated 30 years of his professional life, many US stations shunned him, fearing that his opinions would contradict remarks made by US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and others in the White House. Now Khadduri tells all in his new book entitled Iraq’s Nuclear Mirage...

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Informant: Environmentalists Against War

Broad International Coalition Condemns US Torture


GUADALAJARA, Mexico (May 28, 2004) -- European and Latin American leaders have condemned the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US troops and are pushing Washington to work with the United Nations rather than go it alone in its war on terror. Despite initial British opposition, dozens of leaders at a summit in Mexico agreed to condemn the sexual abuse and humiliation of inmates by US troops. The European Union, Latin American and Caribbean leaders declared: "We energetically condemn all forms of abuse, torture and other cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment against people, including prisoners of war…. We declare our horror at recent evidence of the mistreatment of prisoners in Iraqi jails. These abuses go against international law..."

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Informant: Environmentalists Against War

Project for a Humanitarian Century

by Troy Skeels

The concept of "no war!" is no longer just a pretty picture. It is serious politics. When faced with the "realism," of Abu Ghraib and its result, the peace movement can no longer be dismissed as "unrealistic." We need a fundamental rethinking of US foreign and domestic policies, and those most qualified to present it are those who opposed this war and the warfare state's policies from the beginning. It is important to seek accountability from the political and military leaders who presided over the war crimes committed in Iraq, as most clearly shown in the notorious photos. But that's only part of a more important opportunity: to change the permissible boundaries of debate....

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Depleted Uranium: Pentagon Poison

by Minnie Bruce Pratt

2004-05-30 | New York

Deadly radioactivity is drifting in the sands and fertile fields of Iraq, in rain falling in Europe, in breezes that toss palm trees in Vieques, Puerto Rico, in the water of South Korea - the toxic debris of exploded U.S. depleted uranium (DU) shells.

The International Action Center continued its historic exposé of this terrible danger with a forum in New York City on May 25, "Poison Dust - Another U.S. War Crime: the Use of Radioactive Weapons in the Gulf."

DU is a byproduct of the process used to make nuclear bombs and reactor fuel. Because this metal is 1.8 times denser than lead and burns on impact with steel, bullets and shells made of DU can cut through tank armor like butter.

U.S. tanks, Bradley fighting machines, A-10 attack jets and "Apache" helicopters routinely fire DU rounds. When a DU shell hits a target, as much as 70 percent burns on impact, releasing invisible and insoluble uranium oxide, a radioactive dust that people inhale and ingest.

'Metal of Dishonor'

To the political hip-hop of Movement in Motion arts collective chanting "Drop beats, not bombs," 200 people crowded the United Nations Church Center for the meeting on "Poison Dust." The meeting was co-chaired by Naomi Santos of Move ment in Motion and IAC co-director Sara Flounders.

Flounders alerted the gathering that over half of the 700,000 veterans of the first U.S. invasion of Iraq in 1991 have the chronic illness dubbed "Gulf War Syndrome."

Millions of Iraqis died of preventable diseases from the obliteration of water and health systems by bombing and 12 years of sanctions starting in 1990. More recently, Iraqi doctors began to note an ominous increase in cancer and diseases of the immune systems.

Sharon Eolis, a health care worker who traveled to Iraq in 1998 and 2000, confirmed that both U.S. documents and independent scientists strongly link this pattern of sickness and death to DU.

IAC founder and former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark first raised the issue of DU shortly after the 1991 Gulf War. The IAC has continued to inform the public through its DU Education Project with such publications as "Metal of Dishonor: How the Pentagon Radiates Soldiers and Civilians with DU Weapons."

The project also challenged U.S. government denials of DU's impact in a video, also called "Metal of Dishonor," produced by the People's Video Network. At the meeting Sue Harris of PVN announced development of a new video, "Poison Dust," which will go on tour to military bases and communities. The film is necessary, she said, "because the situation is getting worse."

The U.S. dropped 375 tons of DU on Iraq during the first Gulf War, and 2,200 tons during the current invasion. The U.S. has also used DU weapons during its assaults on Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia, in training exercises in Vieques, Okinawa and South Korea, and doubtless in numerous U.S. military testing grounds. Other countries also use DU weapons.

Clark: 'DU is war against the poor'

Ramsey Clark traced his journey toward understanding the murderous impact of DU on the people of Iraq. He noted that the first signs came two years after heavy U.S. bombing of the desert near Kuwait in 1991. Nomadic Bedouin people, seeking help, began to bring newly born deformed babies into urban hospitals.

In March 2001, Dr. Aws Albait, an Iraqi physician who worked in Baghdad from 1990-1999, said that leukemia and lymphomas in Iraqi children had increased 12-fold, and in adults, six-fold.

Illness and genetic damage is also occurring in the children of U.S. soldiers. Children of male Gulf War veterans are born with twice the usual rate of birth defects. In female veterans, the rate is three times normal, with double the rate of miscarriages.

A study in the April 2003 New Scientist magazine suggests DU toxicity combines synergistically with its radioactivity to produce much more serious effects than either poison alone.

Clark stressed that the impact of DU unfolds over many years, and that the movement must be committed to an equally long struggle: "We have to reach out, be unified, with every ounce of energy. This is a war against the poor with the U.S. military there only to protect and increase the wealth of the few."

'A huge catastrophe'

Juan Gonzalez, president of the Nation al Association of Hispanic Journ alists and a co-producer of the "Democracy Now!" radio show, is currently running a series of columns on DU in the New York Daily News. He acknowledged that he was standing on the shoulders of the IAC and other activists, saying: "A huge, huge catastrophe has been visited upon the planet by use of these weapons and the spread of low-level radiation."

Gonzalez broke the story on DU after the mother of a U.S. soldier on leave from Iraq came to him for help. Her son, serving with a New York State National Guard unit, was suffering from serious respiratory problems--and being forced to return to combat. The mother added that many other members of his unit in Iraq were also so sick with high temperatures, kidney ailments and respiratory problems that they'd been sent home to Fort Dix.

Gonzalez saw a connection to the effects of DU, and arranged for independent testing of the soldiers. Of nine tested, four were absolutely positive for DU contamination, and three were probable.

Denied testing at Walter Reed Military Hospital, they were examined in a German clinic under the supervision of Dr. Asaf Durakovic, professor of radiology and nuclear medicine at Georgetown Univer sity in Washington, D.C., and a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves. Dr. Durakovic, who is the Veterans Administration's nuclear-medicine expert, has characterized DU as a "threat to humanity."

DU is the latest manifestation of the dangerous low-level radiation that is a byproduct of U.S. military use of nuclear weapons. Gonzalez cited a January 2000 federal report on occupational sickness of Department of Energy personnel that documented 50 years of deliberate government exposure of military and civilian personnel to radiation.

A 1990 report on the effects of DU, from the U.S. Army Armaments, Munitions and Chemical Command, was clear: "[L]ong term effects of low doses [of DU] have been implicated in cancer ... There is no dose so low that the probability of effect is zero."

Gonzalez was emphatic: "These weapons have to be eliminated or the whole planet will be contaminated."

Resisting war crimes

Navy veteran Dustin Langley of SNAFU (Support Network for an Armed Forces Union) stated that DU was just one more crime of the U.S. against its own soldiers, in a line stretching back to exposing troops to atomic testing during the Cold War and Agent Orange in Vietnam.

He described how soldiers - working people forced to enlist by the "poverty draft" - come home with contaminated equipment, store it in the garage or laundry room, and sicken their own families. "DU doesn't wash off with Tide," he said.

Langley urged the crowd to join the IAC and SNAFU in turning out for the June 5 March on Washington to end the U.S. occu pation of Iraq, Palestine, Haiti, the Philippines, Korea and everywhere. He indicted the Bush administration as a regime that is "stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, using them against its own people, and funding a worldwide network of terrorism" through U.S. military aggression. But by "regime change," he said, he didn't mean the Democrats or Ralph Nader's campaign.

The solution? "A global mass movement - a multinational, multi-gendered anti-war movement that will shock and awe the war-makers in Washington."

For inspiration, he pointed to the heroic resistance in Falluja and to the growing number of U.S. soldiers who refuse to com mit war crimes, like Marine Corps resister Stephen Funk and Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia, a Nicaraguan immigrant sentenced on May 21 to a year's imprisonment. Mejia would not return to his unit in Iraq, saying, "This is an oil-driven war."

More inspiration for resistance came from Frank Velgara of the Vieques Sup port Campaign, who told how on May 3, 2003, a decades-long struggle by determined Puerto Rican activists shut down the U.S. Navy bombing range in Vieques, a "victory against the most powerful military in the world."

Kadouri al-Kaysi, an International Action Center member from Basra, Iraq, seconded that determination, focusing the evening on action: "Iraqis want the U.S. out of Iraq. The fight is still going on, and they will never give up. Most important is to come to Washington on June 5 to say to the Iraqis: We are with you, not with the U.S. government!"

Minnie Bruce Pratt
Reprinted from the June 3, 2004, issue of Workers World newspaper

Source: http://www.unobserver.com/layout5.php?id=1704&blz=1

Informant: Davey Garland

Russia and RF bioeffects

Hi Klaus: With "World Wide Waves" premiering at Moscow's International Film Festival, in a few weeks time, it is apt to draw attention again to the cited opinion of the Russian National Committee on Non-Iniozing radiation Protection (RNCNIRP) regards bioeffects of cellphone radiation. Among the recommendations the RNCNIRP approved at its September 2001 session were these:
  • "1.1 Non-use of cell phones by children under the age of 16
    1.2 Non-use of cell phones by pregnant women.
    1.3 Non-use of cell phones by persons suffering from neurological conditions or diseases, including neurasthenia or dysthymic disorders, mental disorders, neuroses, intellectual and memory impariment, sleep disorders, epilepsy, and epileptic predisposition." (excerpted)
Dr. Vladimir N. Binhi, head of the Radiobiology Laboratory at the General Physics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, in his letter of February 2003 captioned "Report from Russia--Electromagnetic Fields and Human Health" states:

"The U.S. standards and those proposed by WHO are 100 times more lenient, depending on frequency range, than the Russian standards, which are based on the observed biological effects of chronic EM exposures. There are a lot of similar gaps in EM safety standards in other countries, too. It indicates that the standards should be harmonized; people are equal in their wish to be in a healthy environment."(excerpted)

To locate online the "Report from Russia" plus proceedings of the third international conference in Russia of EMF and Human Health access http://www.emrnetwork.org .Then press on the "Regulations" box along left vertical margin. When opened, scroll to "International" and click on "Report from Russia--Electromagnetic Fields and Human Health by Vladimir N. Binhi."
access http://www.protestsussexfromtetra.org.uk/articles.asp
and then press on this article from home page.

Another useful reference to Russian research (all far more favourable to us and the idea of us being affected non-thermally) is at:

Best, Imelda, Cork.

America's Abu Ghraibs

Outstanding, eloquent column by Bob Herbert at the NYT. Read carefully and keep in mind that the country where these conditions obtain points the finger at Cuba and others, accusing THEM of violation of human rights...

"The treatment of the detainees in Iraq was far from an aberration. They, too, were treated like animals, which was simply a logical extension of the way we treat prisoners here at home."

Walter Lippmann

May 31, 2004


America's Abu Ghraibs


Most Americans were shocked by the sadistic treatment of Iraqi detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison. But we shouldn't have been. Not only are inmates at prisons in the U.S. frequently subjected to similarly grotesque treatment, but Congress passed a law in 1996 to ensure that in most cases they were barred from receiving any financial compensation for the abuse.

We routinely treat prisoners in the United States like animals. We brutalize and degrade them, both men and women. And we have a lousy record when it comes to protecting well-behaved, weak and mentally ill prisoners from the predators surrounding them.

Very few Americans have raised their voices in opposition to our shameful prison policies. And I'm convinced that's primarily because the inmates are viewed as less than human.

Stephen Bright, director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, represented several prisoners in Georgia who sought compensation in the late-1990's for treatment that was remarkably similar to the abuses at Abu Ghraib. An undertaker named Wayne Garner was in charge of the prison system at the time, having been appointed in 1995 by the governor, Zell Miller, who is now a U.S. senator.

Mr. Garner considered himself a tough guy. In a federal lawsuit brought on behalf of the prisoners by the center, he was quoted as saying that while there were some inmates who "truly want to do better . . . there's another 30 to 35 per cent that ain't fit to kill. And I'm going to be there to accommodate them."

On Oct. 23, 1996, officers from the Tactical Squad of the Georgia Department of Corrections raided the inmates' living quarters at Dooly State Prison, a medium-security facility in Unadilla, Ga. This was part of a series of brutal shakedowns at prisons around the state that were designed to show the prisoners that a new and tougher regime was in charge.

What followed, according to the lawsuit, was simply sick. Officers opened cell doors and ordered the inmates, all males, to run outside and strip. With female prison staff members looking on, and at times laughing, several inmates were subjected to extensive and wholly unnecessary body cavity searches. The inmates were ordered to lift their genitals, to squat, to bend over and display themselves, etc.

One inmate who was suspected of being gay was told that if he ever said anything about the way he was being treated, he would be locked up and beaten until he wouldn't "want to be gay anymore." An officer who was staring at another naked inmate said, "I bet you can tap dance." The inmate was forced to dance, and then had his body cavities searched.

An inmate in a dormitory identified as J-2 was slapped in the face and ordered to bend over and show himself to his cellmate. The raiding party apparently found that to be hilarious.

According to the lawsuit, Mr. Garner himself, the commissioner of the Department of Corrections, was present at the Dooly Prison raid.

None of the prisoners named in the lawsuit were accused of any improper behavior during the course of the raid. The suit charged that the inmates' constitutional rights had been violated and sought compensation for the pain, suffering, humiliation and degradation they had been subjected to.

Fat chance.

The Prison Litigation Reform Act, designed in part to limit "frivolous" lawsuits by inmates, was passed by Congress and signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1996. It specifically prohibits the awarding of financial compensation to prisoners "for mental or emotional injury while in custody without a prior showing of physical injury."

Without any evidence that they had been seriously physically harmed, the inmates in the Georgia case were out of luck. The courts ruled against them.

This is the policy of the United States of America.

Said Mr. Bright: "Today we are talking about compensating prisoners in Iraq for degrading treatment, as of course we should. But we do not allow compensation for prisoners in the United States who suffer the same kind of degradation and humiliation."

The message with regard to the treatment of prisoners in the U.S. has been clear for years: Treat them any way you'd like. They're just animals.

The treatment of the detainees in Iraq was far from an aberration. They, too, were treated like animals, which was simply a logical extension of the way we treat prisoners here at home.

E-mail: bobherb@nytimes.com

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

C'est la Guerre

When President Bush declared War on Terrorism, he pledged to prevent regimes – such as North Korea, Iran and Iraq – from providing chemical, biological or nuclear weapons to terrorists.

Of course, Iran and Iraq had both developed chem-bio weapons and had used them against each other in the Iran-Iraq War. And, in the aftermath of the Gulf War, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) discovered that Iraq – a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) – had attempted to develop nukes, taking advantage of the fact that IAEA inspectors were then limited to visiting "declared" facilities.

However, as a condition of the Gulf War ceasefire, Iraq was required to destroy – under the supervision of United Nations inspectors – all its chem-bio weapons, and to destroy – under the supervision of IAEA inspectors – what remained of its unsuccessful nuke program...

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Informant: kevcross5

The Nuremberg Code

...At that time there was no awareness or concern of hazards from electromagnetic energy exposure. To our knowledge no electromagnetic radiation experiments were conducted in the camps. And even had they been it would be of no consequence as the Nuremberg Code is silent with respect to any particular type of experiment, procedure, exposure, or treatment. The Code, by its generality, broadly encompasses all human testing. The Code is specific only in terms of what must be done to inform human test subjects and to guard against the possibility of harm...

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PNR: Hallo, EU-Gerichtshof

Die Kommission hat den Deal unterschrieben, der Parlamentspräsident hat es wie immer in dieser Angelegenheit nicht eilig, den Willen des Parlaments umzusetzen, der nimmermüde Abgeordnete Marco Cappato trommelt zum Widerstand:

Dear President,

During its last session, the European Parliament decided to consult the Court of Justice on the compatibility of the EC/USA agreement on the transfer of passengers' data with EU law. The Council and the Commission have decided to make this decision void because they feared that the Court would have confirmed what the EP has already affirmed for some time: the incompatibility with EU law of the acts they have adopted in a hurry to cover the blatant illegality and breach of EU privacy law since March 2003.

The Commission and the Council have exploited the fact that the EP has suspended its activities because of the electoral period, hereby breaching the principle of loyal cooperation among institutions. I believe the EP President has the duty to immediately take measures to defend the prerogatives and the rights of the institution he chairs, of its members and of EU citizens.

After the publication of the international agreement in the Official Journal, the President of the Parliament should have had started – and still should start - the procedures to dispute, on behalf of the EP, the agreement and the Commission decision declaring that the US administration assures an adequate protection of passengers' data. The critical position of the EP on these acts and their contents is crystal clear, since it has been reiterated five times - two of them asked by the President – through its votes.

The President of the EP, in case he considered that a further recommendation by the legal affairs committee was needed to proceed, should have had convened the committee, as provided by art. 166 of the Rules of Procedure, before the elections.

President Cox, you have not made any of these acts until today.

This seriously puts the credibility of our institution into question, as well as that of the respect of democracy, the Rule of Law, fundamental freedoms and notably European citizens' right to privacy.

We ask you to urgently intervene to activate procedures to go to Court on behalf of the EP against the international agreement and the adequacy finding decision and otherwise urgently convene the legal affairs committee, in order to defend the prerogatives and the rights of the EP, of its members and of European citizens, as provided by the powers and duties of the President of our institution.


Marco Cappato Radical Member of the European parliament

Office of Marco Cappato: Tel +32 2284 7496 - Fax +32 2284 9496 -

Source/Quelle: quintessenz-list Digest, Vol 14, Issue 18

Global Warming Spirals Upwards

Published on Sunday, March 28, 2004 by the lndependent/UK

by Geoffrey Lean


Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have jumped abruptly, raising fears that global warming may be accelerating out of control.

Measurements by US government scientists show that concentrations of the gas, the main cause of the climate exchange, rose by a record amount over the past 12 months. It is the third successive year in which they have increased sharply, marking an unprecedented triennial surge.

Scientists are at a loss to explain why the rapid rise has taken place, but fear that it could show the first signs that global warming is feeding on itself, with rising temperatures causing increases in carbon dioxide, which then go on to drive the thermometer even higher. That would be a deeply alarming development, suggesting that this self-reinforcing heating could spiral upwards beyond the reach of any attempts to combat it.

The development comes as official figures show that Britain's emissions of the gas soared by three per cent last year, twice as fast as the year before. The increase - caused by rising energy use and by burning less gas and more coal in power stations - jeopardizes the Government's target of reducing emissions by 19 per cent by 2010.

It also coincides with a new bid to break the log jam over the Kyoto treaty headed by Stephen Byers, the former transport secretary, who remains close to Tony Blair.

Mr Byers is co-chairing with US Republican Senator Olympia Snowe a new taskforce, run by the Institute of Public Policy Research and US and Australian think tanks, which is charged with devising proposals that could resolve the stalemate caused by President Bush's hostility to the treaty.

The carbon dioxide measurements have been taken from the 11,400ft summit of Hawaii's Mauna Loa, whose enormous dome makes it the most substantial mountain on earth, by scientists working for the US government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

They have been taking the readings from the peak - effectively breathalyzing the planet - for the past 46 years. It is an ideal site for the exercise, 2,000 miles from the nearest land and protected by freak climatic conditions from pollution from Hawaii, more than two miles below.

The latest measurements, taken a week ago, showed that carbon dioxide had reached about 379 parts per million (ppm), up from about 376ppm the year before, from 373ppm in 2002 and about 371ppm in 2001. These represent three of the four biggest increases on record (the other was in 1998), creating an unprecedented sequence. They add up to a 64 per cent rise over the average rate of growth over the past decade, of 1.8ppm a year.

The US scientists have yet to analyze the figures and stress that they could be just a remarkable blip. Professor Ralph Keeling - whose father Charles Keeling first set up the measurements from Mauna Loa - said:"We are moving into a warmer world".

© 2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd

Informant: Teresa Binstock

Rising Seas Are Giving Pacific Islanders a Sinking Feeling

Leading voices are raising alarms about global warming as ocean islets flood, glaciers retreat and Arctic permafrost melts.

By Charles J. Hanley
Associated Press Writer
May 30, 2004


FUNAFUTI, Tuvalu -- The rising sea is eating at the shores of low-slung Funafuti, a spit of coral and coconut palms in the remote Pacific. Unseen fingers of ocean even reach beneath the sands, surfacing inland in startling places among nervous islanders.

"It used to be puddles. Now it's like lakes," said Hilia Vavae, local

Far to the north in the Marshall Islands, 1,250 miles away, trees are toppling before aquamarine waves. Watching, perplexed, from the edge of a lagoon, teenager Ankit Stephen asked a visitor: "Why is this happening?"

Six hundred miles west on tiny Kosrae, Alokoa Talley pondered the same question. Neighbors are moving their homes up the lush slopes, away from the encroaching Pacific. "I don't know," a government worker said, "but I think it's because of 'green' something."

The "greenhouse effect," climate change, has languished on the world's agenda since the 1970s, a seemingly distant threat. But year by year, inch by inch, it is rising to the top as ocean islets flood, glaciers retreat, Arctic permafrost melts and voices raise new alarms.

"We may already be seeing -- in the increased incidence of drought, floods and extreme weather events that many regions are experiencing -- some of the devastation that lies ahead," U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in March, when he urged all governments to ratify the Kyoto Protocol to reduce "greenhouse gas" emissions.

That long-stalled 1997 accord is opposed in Washington, where U.S. government and industry say emission controls would handicap the U.S. economy. Now only ratification by Russia can revive it, making this a critical year on the political front in a long, difficult debate over what to do about climate change.

On the scientific front, meanwhile, signs of global warming mount. Like the glass of a greenhouse, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other gases in the atmosphere let sunlight in but tend to warm the Earth by trapping heat it emits toward space. That's scientific fact; the scientific puzzle involves other factors that might lessen -- or worsen -- the warming and what it does to the planet.

Concentrations of carbon dioxide, a byproduct of fossil fuels burned in everything from automobiles to electricity plants, reached record levels in the atmosphere last winter, a Hawaii observatory reported in March.

Then, in April, other U.S. scientists reported that NASA satellite readings showed an average increase in the globe's land surface temperatures of 0.77 of a degree Fahrenheit between 1981 and 1998. This reinforced earlier findings, from ground stations, that global temperatures rose 1 degree over the 20th century.

These rising curves of greenhouse gas and global temperature parallel the analysis of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.N.-organized network of climatologists and other scientists worldwide.

In a 2001 report, the panel listed as a key finding: "Most of observed warming over last 50 years likely due to increases in greenhouse gas concentrations due to human activities."

If emissions are brought under control too slowly, temperatures could rise an additional 10.4 degrees by the year 2100, the panel said, adding that even with rollbacks in smokestack, tailpipe and other emissions, temperatures could rise 2.5 degrees by the end of the century.

Warming is expected to be unevenly distributed and change regional climates in powerful ways, shifting climate zones hundreds of miles, possibly making farmlands drier, deserts wetter, melting ice caps, intensifying storms, spreading disease to new areas, and raising ocean levels anywhere from 3 1/2 inches to 3 feet by 2100, depending on controls, the panel said.

The seas would rise because water expands as it warms and because of the runoff of ice melt from the continents.

In fact, the oceans have expanded, rising an average 1 to 2 millimeters a year -- up to one inch every 12 years -- during the 20th century. More recently, satellites show "the rise has been highly accelerated" to 3 millimeters a year, said Walter Munk of San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Pacific Islanders aren't alone.

Rising seas are a growing threat from Alaska, where Eskimos are relocating an Arctic island village, to New Orleans and Shanghai -- near-coastal cities already below sea level, sinking on their own, and further endangered by expanding oceans.

Prevailing winds, tidal peculiarities and other factors can make sea levels vary from place to place. At Funafuti, capital of a mini-nation midway between Hawaii and Australia, gauges have shown the sea rising 5 to 6 millimeters a year since 1993, meteorologist Vavae said.

But some islands are subsiding, sinking under their own weight. "In many islands, I think the answer is that both are happening -- subsidence and rising levels," said Roger Lukas, a University of Hawaii oceanographer.

Similarly uncertain: What will a swelling ocean do to Funafuti?

One rule of thumb, disputed among specialists, holds that each millimeter rise in sea level can claim 5 feet of shallow ocean beach. Some theorize, however, that a moderately higher Pacific would "rearrange" but not obliterate an atoll like Funafuti, a ring of islands around a lagoon.

Rearrangement would be bad enough for Lototele Malie, 75, whose pastel-blue concrete house, with 15 adults and children, sits at the edge of Funafuti's dwindling ocean beach.

"A month ago, the tide came right here," he said, pointing 3 feet away to the lip of his concrete-slab patio. "It's getting dangerous," he said, with the thunder of waves as a backdrop.

The Malies and others have little room to maneuver. Just 300 yards from their rear doors, the choppy waters of the 9-mile-wide lagoon are rising. In between sit other salt-caked plywood or cinderblock houses, beside gaping pits dug in the island's coral foundation by U.S. troops in World War II.

Those pits, filling now with seeping seawater, supplied the crushed material for Funafuti's airport, where today some of Vavae's "lakes" have begun to appear at peak tides. "People got especially worried when the runway flooded. That's new," Margaret Bita, 45, said after Sunday church services.

The church and little airport lie on the broadest part -- 600 yards across -- of slender, steamy, 7-mile-long Funafuti, home to about half the 11,000 people of Tuvalu, an impoverished nation getting by on fees from foreign fishing fleets, international aid and money sent home by merchant seamen.

This main island narrows elsewhere to a mere 50 yards of sand, swaying palms and roadway between lagoon and sea. Its elevation is seldom more than a few feet. When February's "king" tides washed out a small causeway, children swam to school.

"I think it would be better if my kids were somewhere else," said hospital worker Beia Fetau, 40, preparing to help with Sunday school in shirt, tie and traditional male sulu, or skirt.

As recently as the 1980s, Vavae said, the peak king tides came only in January and February. Now, she said, they crash ashore from September to May. But it's the quiet seepage from below that most alarms Tuvaluans.

Because of intruding saltwater, many have abandoned their gardens of deep-rooted pulaka, a tuber crop grown in pits here for centuries. On the nearby islet of Vasafua, the coconut trees are dying. Another small uninhabited island, Tepuka Savilivili, has vanished beneath the waves.

"It went underwater in the cyclone in 1997," Vavae said.

Disentangling long-term climate change from short-term natural variability is a challenge at the local level, especially in the Pacific, where the periodic climatic phenomenon El Niño raises and lowers ocean levels, causes droughts and stirs up severe storms. But people across the Pacific feel sure that something unusual is happening.

In Kiribati, another mini-state north of Tuvalu, they've also lost an islet in the main atoll of Tarawa. On Majuro, the Marshalls' capital, the lagoon outside Ankit Stephen's home has undercut dozens of towering coconut palms, as islanders futilely try to stop the waves with piles of debris.

On Kosrae, a "high island" of volcanic peaks in the Federated States of Micronesia, the people have always lived along a flat coastal strip, but some are now dismantling their simple homes and heading for the hills, as recommended by the government.

"Nobody remembers such tides before. The sea is actually moving inland," said Simpson Abraham, head of Kosrae's Resources Development Authority. Some offshore islets have vanished, he said.

In Tuvalu, devoutly Christian since missionary days, many talk not of greenhouses, but of Genesis, reminding each other of God's promise to Noah: As long as rainbows cross the sky, there will be no more great floods. "God will protect us," one woman churchgoer assured a visitor.

Saufatu Sopoanga, as Tuvalu's prime minister, must look into the future, not the Bible. He is talking to New Zealand about a kind of 21st century Noah's ark -- a standby plan for a mass migration there.

"In 50 or 100 years, the islands are expected to go under water. What can we do?" Tuvalu's leader asked on a day when a tropical morning downpour soon gave way to a rainbow in a blue, very warm sky.

Copyright 2004 Los Angeles Times

Informant: Teresa Binstock

While we're off fighting terror, the planet's crumbling

Sunday, May 30, 2004


P-I Focus: While we're off fighting terror, the planet's crumbling


History has shown that human societies often misjudge risk, and that is the case today. With world attention focused almost exclusively on terrorism and Iraq, another, even more serious security threat deepens -- the global environmental/humanitarian crisis.

While we remain virtually hypnotized by terrorism, humanity is quietly destroying the biosphere in which we live, ourselves and our future along with it. Just since 9/11, 25 million children died from preventable causes, the world's population grew by 200 million people and thousands of species went extinct. Also, 250,000 square miles of forest were lost, 50,000 square miles of arable land turned to desert, 8 billion tons of carbon were added to the atmosphere and air pollution claimed more than 4 million lives.

Our boat is sinking, we know the causes and consequences, and we know how to solve the problem. Yet policy-makers keep rearranging the deck chairs. Left unattended, this broad environmental/humanitarian crisis will foreclose any hope for security in the world. Certainly we must address terrorism, but just as certainly we must ensure our planet's sustainability.

Some of the key indicators of our current condition help put these relative risks in perspective.


World population stands at 6.4 billion, more than four times its number at the start of the 20th century. Although some nations have reached population stability, many of the poorest, developing nations are far from it. The population -- growing by 74 million a year -- is projected to reach 9 billion by 2050, the additional billions coming almost exclusively in the poorest countries.

The largest generation of young people ever, some 1.7 billion ages 10 to 24, is just now reaching reproductive age. Where fertility remains high there is widespread poverty, discrimination against women, high infant mortality and lack of access to family planning, health care and education. More than 350 million women lack any access to family planning. Some religions oppose contraception, and female infanticide has become epidemic. Programs to stabilize population need about $20 billion a year (about one week's worth of world military expenditures) but now receive about $3 billion a year.


Conspicuous consumption has become a homogenizing force across the developed world. Just since 1950, we have consumed more goods and services than all previous generations combined. The consumption of energy, steel and timber more than doubled; fossil fuel use and car ownership increased four-fold; meat production and fish catch increased five-fold; paper use increased six-fold, and air travel increased 100-fold.

In the United States, where malls are more prevalent than high schools, shopping has become the primary cultural activity. Although world economic output continues to increase, when real costs are calculated, sustainable economic welfare has been in decline since the '70s. One measure of resource consumption of humanity -- our "ecological footprint" -- surpassed sustainable levels in the late '70s, and for an average American is now 20 times that of a person in some developing countries.

Studies estimate that, if the developing world were to consume at our rate, another five or six planets would be needed to sustain this level of consumption. The United Nations says that a 10-fold reduction in resource consumption (or a 10-fold increase in energy/material efficiency) in industrialized countries will be needed for adequate resources to be available for developing countries.

Rich-poor divide

The unequal distribution of consumption adds to environmental, social and economic damage as well. The gap in per-capita income between rich and poor nations has doubled in the past 40 years. The upper 20 percent in economic class -- Europe, Japan, North America -- account for more than 80 percent of the material and energy consumed globally while the poorest 20 percent account for just 1 percent of consumption. The world's 350 billionaires have a combined net worth exceeding that of the poorest 2.5 billion people. Those poor live on less than $2 a day and lack basic sanitation, health care, clean water and adequate food.

Despite unprecedented economic expansion of the '90s, today some 900 million adults are illiterate and 30,000 kids die every day from preventable causes. Poor countries pay more than $350 billion a year just to service the interest on their debt to developed countries (a total of $2.4 trillion) and often try to raise this money through environmentally destructive activities. Some countries spend more to service their foreign debt than on education and health care combined.


Ecologists fear we are losing between 50 and 150 species each day, a rate thousands of times higher than the evolutionary background extinction rate of about one species a year. Some estimate that we have lost perhaps 600,000 species since the "biotic holocaust" began around 1950; if present trends continue, half of all species on Earth would be extinct in the next 50 years. Overhunting, invasive species, pollution and climate change are factors in this sixth mass extinction event, but by far the greatest cause is habitat loss. The lost ecological services could be devastating. It may take 5 million to 10 million years for biological diversity to recover.


Half of Earth's original forest cover is gone, and an additional 30 percent is degraded or fragmented. Only 20 percent of the original forest on Earth remains today as large, relatively undisturbed "frontier forests." And half of this frontier forest is threatened by human activity, mostly by logging. Another 100,000 square miles of forest is lost each year, mostly in the tropics, and only a very small amount of this forest loss is offset by regrowth.

Since 1960, about 30 percent of the Earth's tropical forests have disappeared and with them, thousands of species. Between 50 percent and 90 percent of the terrestrial species inhabit and depend upon the forests, and more than half of the threatened vertebrate species on Earth are forest animals. The link is clear: lose forests -- lose species.


Today about 1 billion people are undernourished and 600 million are overnourished. The United Nations lists 86 countries that can't grow or buy enough food and predicts that by 2010 global food supply will begin to fall short of demand.

More than 6 million people a year, mostly children, die from malnutrition. Grain production is declining and environmentally damaging meat production continues to increase. The 1.3 billion cattle (weighing more than all of humanity) have degraded a quarter of the planet's land surface.

More than 10 percent of world farmland and 70 percent of the world rangeland is degraded, and poor agricultural practices result in the loss of more than 20 billion tons of topsoil a year.


Fresh water may well be the most precious substance on Earth. People use about half of all available fresh water, causing aquifers to shrink around the world.

Some 70 percent of all water used by humans goes to irrigation; most simply leaks and evaporates from inefficient irrigation systems. Some water tables, such as the north China plain, drop by more than a meter a year. Two billion people have no choice but to drink water contaminated with human and animal waste and chemical pollution.

The World Health Organization estimates there are 1.5 billion cases of diarrhea a year in children from contaminated water, causing 3 million deaths.

Today, water supplies in 36 nations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East are not sufficient to meet grain production needs. In China, 400 cities suffer from acute water shortage and half of the nation's rivers are polluted. The world lost half of its wetlands in the past century, and more than 22,000 square miles of arable land turns into desert each year. It's projected that in 20 years, the demand for water will increase by 50 percent and two-thirds of the world population will be water-stressed.


Air pollution exceeds health limits daily in many cities in the world. Some 5,000 people a day die from air pollution, and kids in some cities inhale the equivalent of two packs of cigarettes every day just by breathing the air.

Carbon emissions from burning fossil fuel now stand at 6.5 billion tons a year (four times 1950 levels), resulting in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations 33 percent greater than pre-industrial levels.

Global warming is no longer seriously doubted, and nine of the hottest years on record have occurred since 1990. The warming has accelerated the melting of polar ice caps and mountain glaciers; a rising sea level has inundated some Pacific islands, and more frequent and severe droughts, storms and floods cost more than $50 billion and 20,000 lives a year. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded most of the warming over past 50 years was human-induced.


Once thought to be inexhaustible, the Earth's oceans are more polluted and overexploited than at any other time in history. Seventy percent of world fish populations are either overfished or nearly so. Marine pollution has increased dramatically, and warming ocean temperatures have killed more than a fourth of the world's coral reefs. The 1998 coral "bleaching" event killed almost half of all Indian Ocean corals in just a few months, and Australia's Great Barrier Reef is threatened with complete collapse by the end of the century if warming continues.

If we connect these dots, the picture is clear: We are approaching a breaking point on the home planet.

The fate of the Earth may well be decided in our lifetime, and we all should begin behaving as though we are living together on one small, precious, life-sustaining spaceship, which indeed we are.

The solution is straightforward -- stabilize population, reduce consumption and share wealth. We know exactly how to do this; we just need to pay for it.

The United Nations says $40 billion a year -- about what consumers spend on cosmetics -- would provide everyone on Earth with clean water, sanitation, health care, adequate nutrition and education.

The secretary general of the 1992 Earth Summit cautioned, "no place on the planet can remain an island of affluence in a sea of misery ... we're either going to save the whole world or no one will be saved."

Without urgent attention, the global ecosystem will continue to unravel and we'll consign future generations to a nightmare of deprivation, insecurity and conflict.

It's time to broaden our understanding of security beyond just that of terrorism to securing a sustainable future for spaceship Earth.
Richard Steiner is a professor and conservation specialist at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

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