Friday, October 1, 2004
1. KYOTO PROTOCOL: RUSSIA PUTS THE CLIMATE TREATY OVER THE TOP.
Russia's cabinet endorsed the treaty and sent it to Parliament, where approval is expected. With 120 countries already on board, this meets the requirement that the treaty be ratified by nations responsible for at least 55 percent of 1990-level emissions. Roald Sagdeev, former science advisor to Gorbachev, was ecstatic on his return from Moscow yesterday. Now a physics professor at the University of Maryland, he told WN last night that the effect the treaty will have on emissions is far less important than the recognition by signatories that climate change is an important world problem, and they are committed to dealing with it. Having flatly rejected the treaty, the United States is now isolated.
2. NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION: CANDIDATES DIFFER SHARPLY IN DEBATE.
The moderator, Jim Lehrer, asked Kerry what he thought is the most serious threat to national security. "Nuclear proliferation, nuclear proliferation," Kerry responded emphatically. "To make it clear to the world that we're serious about containing nuclear proliferation," he vowed to shut down the current program to develop a nuclear bunker-buster. Bush responded that "we've increased funding for dealing with nuclear proliferation about 35 percent since I've been President." Apparently, if the United States develops a new nuclear weapon it's not proliferation.
3. ACUPUNCTURE: YOU DON'T HAVE TO KNOW WHERE THE RABBIT CAME FROM.
On TV's "Sex and the City" Charlotte, who was unable to conceive, turned to acupuncture. I read that in the Wall Street Journal, but it didn't say whether it helped. So I turned to the experts on the WN staff. Charlotte, they assured me, ended up adopting. I'm not surprised. Of course, even if she had become pregnant it wouldn't mean that acupuncture helped. You need a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study with good statistics to find out what works and what doesn't. And double-blind is hard to do with needles. But it wouldn't matter, I still wouldn't believe it. The trouble is it's silly. Acupuncture, complete with "meridians" that connect acupuncture points, and moxibustion (WN 13 Nov 98), which applies heat to the acupuncture points, predate vivisection by thousands of years. Well by 2004 they 've looked: no features of our anatomy correspond to any of this stuff. They discovered acupuncture before it was known that blood circulates, or that germs cause disease. But is there anything acupuncture doesn't treat? The Wednesday New York Times reported that "acupuncture is moving toward the mainstream." Mainstream what? When a stage magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat, I may not know where the rabbit came from, but I know it's not magic. It's not science either.