May 1991 (vol. 7, #4)
1601 N. Tucson Blvd. Suite 9, Tucson AZ 85716 c 1991
``28,000 Lose Their Jobs''
``Worldwide Economic Growth Cut by 50%''
``US Economy Loses $150 Billion Per Year''
Do these disaster headlines remind you of ``destruction before detonation'' the economic side effects attributed to the nuclear arms race by Physicians for Social Responsibility?
Such consequences are the price of ``insurance'' against threatened global environmental catastrophe.
If the premiums seem a little expensive, we need a ``massive, diverse, locally effective, universal citizens' movement'' to change public policy and ``assure compliance'' with a prevention program, despite its cost. Physicians are said to have a special responsibility to participate in public education on these issues (Ann Intern Med 113:467-473, 1990). It will not be difficult. They can recycle the antinuclear words along with the paper; e.g. ``prevention is the only way to decrease morbidity when treatment is ineffective.''
As public education might prove ineffective, the environmental messiahs make extensive use of the courts. A simple order by a US District Court judge could wipe out 28,000 jobs over the next decade (Robert Cihak, MD, Wash Inquirer 8/10/90). (The preservation of 66,000 acres of old-growth forest 22 acres per pair of birds is said to be necessary to save the spotted owl and its contribution to the genetic diversity of the biosphere.)
Resort to litigation has another advantage besides leverage. It can be a lucrative source of dollars for public education and lobbying campaigns. (See ``The Green Network Grows Greener with Cash'' in Petr Beckmann's Fort Freedom.)
Since the 1970s, most environmental laws have allowed anyone to act as a so-called private attorney general to sue polluters. Most lawsuits are brought by a few national and regional environmental groups. If they win, the plaintiffs are entitled to legal fees, and (nondeductible) penalties go to the US Treasury. But if they settle out of court (as most do), polluters can agree to make a tax-deductible contribution to the ``charity'' of the plaintiff's choice.
The Clean Water Act's ``citizen suit provisions are an off-budget entitlement program for the environmental movement,'' said Michael Greve of the Center for International Rights (Insight 2/18/91).
If the tactics seem heavy-handed, they are justified because we are confronted with the ``end of nature,'' paralleling Jonathan Schell's ``Fate of the Earth.'' While acknowledging that we ``must not do harm and not sound a warning where no threat exists,'' activist physicians state:
There is almost unanimous belief that carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and toxic emissions ought to be reduced immediately. The public policy debate is about how much reduction, how fast, and at what cost (Ann Intern Med, op. cit.).
``Almost unanimous''? According to John Maddox, editor of Nature, ``there is a long way to go before the research community concerned with the behaviour of the Earth's atmosphere will win general acceptance of its message that global warming is serious.'' His recommendation: ``Less zeal, more guile'' (Nature 3/8/91).
Global warming adherents find themselves in conflict not only with dissenters, but with the data.
A greenhouse-induced warming would have four distinguishing characteristics: (1) an accelerating rise of temperatures in the 1980s, reflecting the recent rapid increase in greenhouse gases; (2) greater warming in the Northern Hemisphere than in the Southern; (3) greater warming at higher latitudes than lower; and (4) a pronounced warming trend in the continental US.
The data contradict all of these predictions. Satellite observations reveal no significant temperature trend in the 1980s. There is no difference in warming trends in the two hemispheres. In the period since 1940, the period during which most of the accumulation of greenhouse gases occurred, there has been no net warming at high latitudes, but warming has occurred at low latitudes, the opposite of the prediction. Finally, there has been no statistically significant warming trend over the continental US in the past 100 years (R Jastrow, W Nierenberg, and F Seitz Scientific Perspectives on the Greenhouse Problem, the Marshall Press, 1990).
Although many scientists are humbled by the difficulty of the problem, environmentalists are skilled at handling complexities and contradiction. Stephen Schneider, a proponent of the theory that CFC's are depleting the ozone layer, said:
[W]e have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we may have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest'' (quoted by Dixy Lee Ray in Trashing the Planet, Regnery Gateway, 1990).
So-called friends of the environment advocate recycling everything except nuclear waste. Do they also calculate the human and environmental side effects of all human activity except lawmaking and litigation? In fact, they probably do recognize the implications of their suggestions. They even propose remedies:
[P]riority shall be given to programs that enhance access of the poor to low-cost vehicles and efficient carrying devices, including . . . bicycles, carts, [and] pack animals (ibid). [Nonpolluting animals--Ed.]
Could it be that unemployment among loggers, vast increases in the powers of government (and of international agencies), and impoverishment of the middle class are not merely unwanted adverse effects? Is destruction of the economy the real, hidden agenda?
For a preview, see the British documentary ``The Green-house Conspiracy,'' to be broadcast by the Discovery Channel on June 30, 9 pm EDT and July 1 at 1 am EDT. The program features Patrick Michaels, PhD, of the University of Virginia, who will speak at the DDP environmental symposium. Michaels demol-ishes Stephen Schneider (see p. 1), who also appears on the tape. The program was censored by American public televi-sion. To obtain a copy, write to the Competi-tive Enterprise In-stitute, 233 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20003. (A donation is ap-preciated.)
Dixy Lee Ray will lead the DDP symposium.
Both think we should go to Mars.
Carl Sagan presents his case in many forums, including the spring issue of Issues in Science and Technology. He sees a few obstacles, such as the competitors for the $500 billion that it might cost. These include a ``multitrillion dollar investment'' in an ``alternative to a fossil-fuel economy'' to stave off global warming (unless his prediction of a ``nuclear winter'' due to Kuwaiti oil fires happens instead). And there's a drawback: technology useful to the military might be developed as a spinoff. On the other hand, a joint program could help bind the US and the USSR closer together. So on balance, it would be nice to go there sometime, once modest improvements in the prob-lems that beset our global civilization release enor-mous human and material resources.
To hear Lowell Wood's viewpoint first hand, you'll need to attend the DDP meeting. Briefly, he has said that we should go to Mars now (or at least before the end of the century), using off-the-shelf technology, at a tiny fraction of Sagan's estimated cost. In the meantime, we need to make a modest investment in a space-based defense of our existing human and material resources, before somebody uses off-the-assembly-line missiles to destroy them.
A model of a Brilliant Pebble will be on display, courtesy of Col. Warren Everett of High Frontier.
DDP will cosponsor a High Frontier seminar on Septem-ber 23. The cost is $25. DDP will forward your registration to High Frontier if you make a note on your registration form.
The basic insurance policy against all catastrophes is still civil defense. Civil defense is the foundation for strategic defense. It provides the basic security that permits a people to embark on bold adventures. It will be the subject of the remainder of the DDP program.
The annual meeting of TACDA, The American Civil Defense Association, will follow on September 23-26. Featured speakers include Edward Teller, FEMA Director Wallace Stickney, and war correspondent Charles Wiley.
Modern intravenous therapy is life-saving, but sterile solutions and trained medical personnel are expensive and often unavailable. A simpler and cheaper method-oral rehydration therapy or ORT-usually works. Since the dis-covery of ORT, mortality from cholera has been reduced from more than 30% to less than 3%.
Most diarrhea-causing microorganisms, including cholera, affect the intestine in similar ways. They increase the secretion of chloride into the intestine, and decrease the absorption of sodium. Fluids then follow the electrolytes into the stool. However, for some reason the organisms shut down one only major route of sodium transport in the villus cells. They rarely interfere with the ``cotransport'' system that absorbs sodium together with glucose (instead of chloride). If the villus cells of the intestine are supplied with both glucose and sodium, they effectively replace the intravenous needle.
It is important to use a solution with the proper in-gredients. Potassium is essential to the functioning of all cells, and is lost in great quantities in diarrheal fluids. Bicarbonate must be replaced to keep the body from becoming acidotic. Citrates or lactates can be used; the body converts these to bicarbonate. Concentration is also important. Increasing the amount of glucose in an attempt to speed fluid uptake is dangerous. The osmotic load would actually draw more fluid into the intestine.
The ORT solution recommended by the World Health Organization contains sodium chloride, 3.5 gm/liter of water; trisodium citrate, 2.9 gm/l; potassium chloride, 1.5 gm/l; and glucose, 20 gm/l. Foil packets containing the dry ingredients are available in 60 countries for 20 to 60 cents/l. The packets generally cannot be purchased in the US, where premixed fluids such as Pedialyte, Lytren, and Resol are sold for about $4 to $6 per quart. However, solutions can be easily made from ingredients available in any grocery store. Noting that sucrose (table sugar) works just as well as glucose, and that salt substitutes are mixtures of sodium and potassium chloride, the formula is: To one quart of water, add 1 scant tsp of Lite-Salt; 10 tsp sugar; and 1/3 tsp of sodium bicarbonate. Keep these substances in your shelter.
The patient must drink enough to keep up with fluid losses. It may be hard to persuade him to do this because people often believe fluids will make the diarrhea worse. A small child may have to be spoonfed more than half a liter of solution each day, in sessions spaced as little as three minutes apart, for five to seven days. Giving a large volume at once is likely to cause vomiting.
Some investigators have reported good results from adding amino acids, especially alanine, to the mixture. Using large molecules, such as starch and protein, avoids the osmotic problem of concentrated sugar, while providing nutrition and decreasing the volume of the diarrhea (a modern breakthrough called food-based ORT). Ricelyte is commercially prepared from rice syrup and requires no cooking. Alternatively, one can use one of the traditional ``grandmother preparations'' such as chicken rice soup. In infants, breast milk is best.
1.Hirschhorn N, Greenough WB: Progress in oral rehydra-tion therapy, Sci Am May, 1991, pp. 50-56.
2.Palmer DL et al. Comparison of sucrose and glucose in the oral electrolyte therapy of cholera and other severe diarrheas. N Engl J Med 297:1107-10, 1977.
3.Pizarro D, et al.,Rice-based oral electrolyte solutions for the management of infantile diarrhea. N Engl J Med 324:517-21, 1991.
Civil Defense Perspectives, formerly known as the DDP Arizona Newsletter, is distributed to members of pro-civil defense organizations (including Doctors for Disaster Preparedness, Physicians for Civil Defense, and the New England Civil Defense Association) and to other interested in-dividuals. News items related to civil defense activities are welcomed.