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Donald F. Boesch
President, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Donald F. Boesch

Donald F. Boesch, an oceanographer, is president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and Vice Chancellor for Environmental Sustainability for the University System of Maryland. ALL POSTS

Missteps and moisture

Q: As the controversy swirling around the IPCC deepens at the same time some are questioning the significance of global warming now that large portions of the U.S. are buried under record-breaking snow, what kind of information do policymakers need to make decisions about climate change?

Unfortunately, the news media seem more focused on controversy than on substance, contributing to the rampant confusion about "global weirding," as Tom Friedman calls it. Even this newspaper leads on its front page with "Series of missteps by climate scientists threatens climate change agenda." Yet, there has been no misstep that has actually diminished the overwhelming scientific evidence that human activities are affecting Earth's climate or that continued emissions of greenhouse gases, even at present levels, pose serious risks to society and Earth's life support systems.

Regarding the hacked email controversy, as I previously commented on this site, subsequent independent investigations have shown that "nothing uncovered in the e-mails destroys the argument that humans are warming the planet". Now, new controversies swirl about errors in the 2007 IPCC report. At this point, only two legitimate errors have been uncovered in the several thousand page report: the propagation of a typographic error indicating that 80% of the Himalayan glaciers would very likely be gone in 2035 rather than in 2350, and an incorrect statement that 55 percent of The Netherlands is below sea level. Both statements are made in the volume of the report dealing with impacts of climate change, rather than in the scientific assessment of climate change. Neither was elevated to the level of major findings by the IPCC.

More importantly, these errors in no way challenge the science that explains the human contributions to the reality surrounding us that climates are warming, oceans are storing more CO2 and heat, and seas are rising. As with glaciers around the word, most Himalayan glaciers are indeed melting as Earth's climate warms. OK, so only 27 percent of The Netherlands lies below sea level, but that's where 60% of its people live, 9.5 million of them. Recognizing this, the Dutch government is certainly planning for the risks of rising sea levels. But by what manner of logic could this misstep in Dutch geography lead one right-wing parliamentarian to opine: "This may invalidate all claims that the last decades were the hottest ever"?

According to the World Meteorological Organization, the last decade was the warmest on record, as was the one before that, and the one before that. The Mid-Atlantic blizzards were not the result of unusually cold conditions but of unusual amounts of moisture in the atmosphere--water derived from warm oceans--and of a jet stream track that made the Mid-Atlantic vulnerable. In fact, current scientific understanding suggests that more frequent and heavier snowstorms in the Northeast are likely as a result of long-term temperature and precipitation patterns. Keep in mind the lack of snow in Vancouver and remember we are talking about global climate change. During the weeks running up to Snowmageddon even the erstwhile skeptical scientists at the University of Alabama, Huntsville indicated that the average global temperature was the warmest observed for that time of year over the 32-year period of satellite measurements.

Policymakers should be making their decisions based on rigorous science and thoroughly peer-reviewed assessments, such as those provided by the IPCC and the U.S. Global Change Research Program, and not the overheated blogosphere or the scandal-happy news media, not even the Washington Post. Can these assessments be improved to ensure the integrity of science? Of course, and I am confident that the scientific community will strive to do that to minimize even such inconsequential missteps in the future.

By Donald F. Boesch  |  February 18, 2010; 8:23 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I have only asserted that the future of our environment is uncertain. And that it is far wiser to be cautious when meddling with things that we do not understand. The limited scope of our data, and the precariousness of our environmental balance, demands that we exercise caution in our affairs. Clean air and clean water are the most basic necessities of life. We should be alarmed that countries and corporations alike treat our ONLY home as a cesspit, a free dumping ground. Did we not learn anything from Love Canal, Chernobyl or the Cuyahoga River fires? This is not a liberal agenda, or a green issue, this is not a "cause", it is simply about the long term survival of our species.

Your argument is based on an irresponsible belief that we do not affect the balance of our environment. And yet it has been proven again and again, beyond any reasonable doubt that human activity has a profound impact on the world on which we live. If you dump your filth in the river, it will wash up on the shore. If you spew garbage into the sky, it will rain down upon you, period. Remember Acid Rain? We acted and alleviated the problem before it became a catastrophe. We did away with CFCs in aerosol sprays and slowed the holes in the Ozone layer. Despite the objections of people like you who insisted that these things were not our fault/problem.

Clean, renewable energy & fuel coupled with care and the safeguarding out environment is not panicky, alarmist or junk science. It is reasonable, rational and responsible. How anyone can, in good conscious, believe otherwise is beyond me.

Do you believe in God? Do you presume to believe that He would applaud our destroying that which He has created? Or do you view theology as junk science as well? Just theory with no supporting evidence?

Posted by: pete1013 | February 22, 2010 9:10 PM
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Look, I'm not saying junk up the planet and live like pigs. I am only saying that Global Warming, like Global cooling, is a theory and should be treated like one. We do not need to invest trillions of dollars on a theory that is based on politically motivated junk science.

It seems like everyday a new story comes out debunking Global warming. The Himalayan glaciers not melting by 2035, the climategate scandal, Freedom of Information act being abused, and just today a story came out about how the Oceans aren't even rising at the gloom and doom rate Al Gore said they would in his movie.

If it makes me a bad American because I don't believe Co2 is pollutant, then so be it. However, I do believe that I am in the majority of Americans now.

I also believe in God, and I believe that God controls the weather; not mankind.

But I guess we have to agree to disagree.

Have a good night

Posted by: Senator_Salesman | February 22, 2010 9:08 PM
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I have only asserted that the future of our environment is uncertain. And that it is far wiser to be cautious when meddling with things that we do not understand. The limited scope of our data, and the precariousness of our environmental balance, demands that we exercise caution in our affairs. Clean air and clean water are the most basic necessities of life. We should be alarmed that countries and corporations alike treat our ONLY home as a cesspit, a free dumping ground. Did we not learn anything from Love Canal, Chernobyl or the Cuyahoga River fires? This is not a liberal agenda, or a green issue, this is not a "cause", it is simply about the long term survival of our species.

Your argument is based on an irresponsible belief that we do not affect the balance of our environment. And yet it has been proven again and again, beyond any reasonable doubt that human activity has a profound impact on the world on which we live. If you dump your filth in the river, it will wash up on the shore. If you spew garbage into the sky, it will rain down upon you, period. Remember Acid Rain? We acted and alleviated the problem before it became a catastrophe. We did away with CFCs in aerosol sprays and slowed the holes in the Ozone layer. Despite the objections of people like you who insisted that these things were not our fault/problem.

Clean, renewable energy & fuel coupled with care and the safeguarding out environment is not panicky, alarmist or junk science. It is reasonable, rational and responsible. How anyone can, in good conscious, believe otherwise is beyond me.

Do you believe in God? Do you presume to believe that He would applaud our destroying that which He has created? Or do you view theology as junk science as well? Just theory with no supporting evidence?

Posted by: pete1013 | February 22, 2010 9:08 PM
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I am sorry for the double post. My computer is screwing up.

Posted by: Senator_Salesman | February 22, 2010 8:50 PM
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Pete1013 writes: “Teh Wall Street Journal and the Daily Mail are your sources? What have you else have you got? Snopes & Wikipedia?"

It doesn’t matter what website source I would have referenced. You would still be in denial and in panic mode about a problem that doesn’t exist. I guess you know more about “Climate Change” than a professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Or did you even read the article by Professor Lindzen?

Pete1013 writes: “How can you possibly argue against being concerned about the future of our home?"

The theory of Global warming is, of course, a theory. Applying your logic (or lack of) to this theory is ridiculous. For example, Scientists in the 70's were saying that the earth was cooling and another ice age is imminent. After hearing that an alarmist reporter wrote an article in newsweek in 1975 saying this…

“Scientists see few signs that government leaders anywhere are even prepared to take the simple measures of stockpiling food or of introducing the variables of climatic uncertainty into economic projections of future food supplies...The longer the planners (politicians) delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality." "Resulting famines could be catastrophic", "drought and desolation," "the most devastating outbreak of tornadoes ever recorded", "droughts, floods, extended dry spells, long freezes, delayed monsoons," "impossible for starving peoples to migrate," "the present decline has taken the planet about a sixth of the way toward the Ice Age."

Now, I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but the “Scientists” were WRONG. Can you imagine if we spent trillions and trillions of dollars preparing for global cooling then like you want to do with global warming now? Our deficit would be triple what it is now!

Ok, fast forward 35 years to the Global Warming debate. According to most alarmist and some scientists , we all should panic, spend trillions, stop driving cars, stop eating meat, stop flying in planes, cap Co2, do away with fossil fuels, lose jobs, raise electricity bills, ride bikes, and live “off the grid”. Even doing half of those things is ridiculous and absurd.

Posted by: Senator_Salesman | February 22, 2010 8:45 PM
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Pete1013 writes: “Teh Wall Street Journal and the Daily Mail are your sources? What have you else have you got? Snopes & Wikipedia?"

It doesn’t matter what website source I would have referenced. You would still be in denial and in panic mode about a problem that doesn’t exist. I guess you know more about “Climate Change” than a professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Or did you even read the article by Professor Lindzen?

Pete1013 writes: “How can you possibly argue against being concerned about the future of our home?"

The theory of Global warming is, of course, a theory. Applying your logic (or lack of) to this theory is ridiculous. For example, Scientists in the 70's were saying that the earth was cooling and another ice age is imminent. After hearing that an alarmist reporter wrote an article in newsweek in 1975 saying this…

“Scientists see few signs that government leaders anywhere are even prepared to take the simple measures of stockpiling food or of introducing the variables of climatic uncertainty into economic projections of future food supplies...The longer the planners (politicians) delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality." "Resulting famines could be catastrophic", "drought and desolation," "the most devastating outbreak of tornadoes ever recorded", "droughts, floods, extended dry spells, long freezes, delayed monsoons," "impossible for starving peoples to migrate," "the present decline has taken the planet about a sixth of the way toward the Ice Age."

Now, I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but the “Scientists” were WRONG. Can you imagine if we spent trillions and trillions of dollars preparing for global cooling then like you want to do with global warming now? Our deficit would be triple what it is now!

Ok, fast forward 35 years to the Global Warming debate. According to most alarmist and some scientists , we all should panic, spend trillions, stop driving cars, stop eating meat, stop flying in planes, cap Co2, do away with fossil fuels, lose jobs, raise electricity bills, ride bikes, and live “off the grid”. Even doing half of those things is ridiculous and absurd.

Posted by: Senator_Salesman | February 22, 2010 8:44 PM
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I have only asserted that the future of our environment is uncertain. And that it is far wiser to be cautious when meddling with things that we do not understand. The limited scope of our data, and the precariousness of our environmental balance, demands that we exercise caution in our affairs. Clean air and clean water are the most basic necessities of life. We should be alarmed that countries and corporations alike treat our ONLY home as a cesspit, a free dumping ground. Did we not learn anything from Love Canal, Chernobyl or the Cuyahoga River fires? This is not a liberal agenda, or a green issue, this is not a "cause", it is simply about the long term survival of our species.

Your argument is based on an irresponsible belief that we do not affect the balance of our environment. And yet it has been proven again and again, beyond any reasonable doubt that human activity has a profound impact on the world on which we live. If you dump your filth in the river, it will wash up on the shore. If you spew garbage into the sky, it will rain down upon you, period. Remember Acid Rain? We acted and alleviated the problem before it became a catastrophe. We did away with CFCs in aerosol sprays and slowed the holes in the Ozone layer. Despite the objections of people like you who insisted that these things were not our fault/problem.

Clean, renewable energy & fuel coupled with care and the safeguarding out environment is not panicky, alarmist or junk science. It is reasonable, rational and responsible. How anyone can, in good conscious, believe otherwise is beyond me.

Do you believe in God? Do you presume to believe that He would applaud our destroying that which He has created? Or do you view theology as junk science as well? Just theory with no supporting evidence?

Posted by: pete1013 | February 22, 2010 6:25 PM
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Pete1013 writes: “Teh Wall Street Journal and the Daily Mail are your sources? What have you else have you got? Snopes & Wikipedia? What about a legitimate scientific source? anything? maybe one little....no, nothing? Snopes and Wikipedia, maybe?”

It doesn’t matter what website source I would have referenced. You would still be in denial and in panic mode about a problem that doesn’t exist. I guess you know more about “Climate Change” than a professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Or did you even read the article by Professor Lindzen?

Pete1013 writes: “How can you possibly argue against being concerned about the future of our home? How is it "alarmist" to be concerned that running an unquantifiable experiment to an unknown result maybe a little irresponsible? What if you and the deniers are wrong? Are you prepared to live with that? Or will it just be somebody else's problem?”

The theory of Global warming is, of course, a theory. Applying your logic (or lack of) to this theory is ridiculous. For example, Scientists were saying in the 70’s that the earth was cooling and another ice age is imminent. So an alarmist reporter wrote an article in newsweek in 1975 saying this…

“Scientists see few signs that government leaders anywhere are even prepared to take the simple measures of stockpiling food or of introducing the variables of climatic uncertainty into economic projections of future food supplies...The longer the planners (politicians) delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality." "Resulting famines could be catastrophic", "drought and desolation," "the most devastating outbreak of tornadoes ever recorded", "droughts, floods, extended dry spells, long freezes, delayed monsoons," "impossible for starving peoples to migrate," "the present decline has taken the planet about a sixth of the way toward the Ice Age."

Now, I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but the “Scientist” were WRONG about the coming Ice age. Can you imagine if we spent trillions and trillions of dollars preparing for global cooling then like you want to do with global warming now? Our deficit would be triple what it is now!

Ok, fast forward 35 years to the Global Warming debate. According to most alarmist and some scientists , we all should panic, spend trillions, stop driving cars, stop eating meat, stop flying in planes, cap Co2, do away with fossil fuels, lose jobs, raise electricity bills, ride bikes, and live “off the grid”. Even doing half of those things is ridiculous and absurd. Global warming is based on junk science, unreliable models, and corrupt grant loving scientists.

Pete1013 writes: “15 years is not a measure of climate. The Earth is billions of years old. We hardly have useable data for the last 200 years. Anyone who says that they can draw any reliable conclusion from this is bunk.”

I agree, but I am not the one hitting the panic button. I don’t think Climate science is reliable either. I guess we agree on that.

Pete1013 writes: “However, ignoring an obvious trend towards instability is irresponsible at best.”

Wrong. The earth is billions of years old, and we hardly have useable data for the last 200 years. So how can u say there is an obvious TREND towards instability? According to you… “15 years is not a measure of climate.” I must ask then… How long is a “Trend” in Pete years?

Pete1013 writes: “Maybe you ought to be a better neighbor. Maybe you ought to just clean up after yourself! Or is that too much to ask of you?”

You don’t know me. You assume that I am bad neighbor, and that I don’t clean up after myself because I don’t believe in the theory of Global Warming? Wow, that actually says a lot about you.

Have a good day

Posted by: Senator_Salesman | February 22, 2010 6:52 AM
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Teh Wall Street Journal and the Daily Mail are your sources? What have you else have you got? Snopes & Wikipedia? What about a legitimate scientific source? anything? maybe one little....no, nothing? Snopes and Wikipedia, maybe?

How can you possibly argue against being concerned about the future of our home? How is it "alarmist" to be concerned that running an unquantifiable experiment to an unknown result maybe a little irresponsible? What if you and the deniers are wrong? Are you prepared to live with that? Or will it just be somebody else's problem?

The 16th century saw a period of extreme cooling an event often referred to as the "Little Ice Age", which saw a mean temperature drop of only 4 degrees centigrade. The resulting massive crop failures across Europe left famine in its wake. A period historically called "The Dark Ages". This weather event is believed to have ended in the late 1800's. An event lasting over 200 years.

15 years is not a measure of climate. The Earth is billions of years old. We hardly have useable data for the last 200 years. Anyone who says that they can draw any reliable conclusion from this is bunk. However, ignoring an obvious trend towards instability is irresponsible at best.

The Earth has been getting warmer, as part of a cycle quite probably, maybe it has something to do with the solar minimums and maximums, maybe churning out millions of tons of carbon and other assorted chemicals has something to do with it, maybe god just decided to wipe the slate clean, maybe you have angered Ra, maybe it has always been like this. Maybe.

That's an awfully big gamble, maybe. We live on a tiny, but significant blue oasis, suspended in the unfathomably vast desert of interstellar space. It is significant because we live here. We ALL live here, we have to. There is nowhere else to go. Maybe you ought to be a better neighbor. Maybe you ought to just clean up after yourself! Or is that too much to ask of you?

Posted by: pete1013 | February 21, 2010 11:44 PM
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To: Pete1013 and the other "Warmers"

pete1013 writes: “So what if they have to live in fear of the sky, and the sun, and the very world that they must live on? Right?”

You cannot be serious? Listen to what you are saying for the love of God. Please STOP DRINKING the Al Gore Cool aid! Do some research on the subject and stop scaring your kids. The sky is not falling chicken little.

This is a great quote...
“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.”
-Marie Curie

You obviously don’t understand Pete, but I do not look down upon you. You have evidently failed to educate yourself and your family on this subject, but the good news is that it’s never too late to start learning.

pete1013 writes: “It simply means that WE HAVE NO WAY OF KNOWING And for some reason this does not terrify you? Insanity”

You are correct here Pete. Nobody knows the future, especially Climate Scientists who base their predictions on flawed models. Read Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT assessment of global warming here http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703939404574567423917025400.html

pete1013 writes: “Oh, and if you do not know the difference between short term "weather" and long term "climate", you may call yourself "sain", but you sure ain't "intelagent". yes, that was misspelled on porpoise.”

Your Myspace 9th grade sarcasm has been noted, but in reality you can not logically define what “long term climate” actually is numerically. The fact is there are no set time frames in which it can be defined according to Webster’s dictionary. Wow, that sure does make you and the other warmer’s argument quite vague doesn’t it? Let’s just say for the sake of dispute that long term climate is represented by a period of 15 years of the earth’s atmospheric conditions.

Ok?

Again, I refer to last week when Professor Phil Jones, a supposed global warming expert, admitted to the BBC that there has been “No statistically significant warming since 1995”. He also admitted that during the Medieval time the earth was warmer than it is now. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1250872/Climategate-U-turn-Astonishment-scientist-centre-global-warming-email-row-admits-data-organised.html

If you do not like my time frame of 15 years in defining “long term climate”, please feel free to go all the way back to the Middle Ages like Professor Jones did. What do you think?

Do you think it was from burning witches that caused global warming back then?

Posted by: Senator_Salesman | February 21, 2010 10:09 PM
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OK, you want facts? Irrefutable Facts? Here's one that might just get through the sand that your head is buried in: the Earth is the only, get that the only, planet that we know of that can support human life. This is it, home. There is no other. And if we do not err on the side of caution, then maybe one day you'll get to explain to your grandkids the story of how things used to be. If you and they are lucky enough to be alive. Or will this be the situation where the "living will envy the dead"?

The human race has been running a grandiose experiment, whose parameters are unknown and for which there is no control. "Let's see what happens when we fundamentally alter the basic chemistry and thermodynamics of our atmosphere..." We have no way of knowing what might be the results of this experiment. NO WAY OF KNOWING. This is insanity

Yes, at one time "they" called it global cooling, and "they" told us to fear another ice age. Then "they" started calling it global warming, and "they" told us all the ice would melt. This is evidence that scientists do not know what is going on, this is not cause for celebration, this does not prove that climate change is a myth. It simply means that WE HAVE NO WAY OF KNOWING And for some reason this does not terrify you? Insanity...

Weather you believe in, what would be better called, "Species Specific and Globally Encompassing, Catastrophic Climatological Realignment" or not, you would be best served to recognize the probability of imminent danger to your children. But, I imagine that you are comfortable enough with saddling them with a National Debt pushing $13 Trillion, so what if they have to live in fear of the sky, and the sun, and the very world that they must live on? Right?

Oh, and if you do not know the difference between short term "weather" and long term "climate", you may call yourself "sain", but you sure ain't "intelagent".

yes, that was misspelled on porpoise. as was that...

Posted by: pete1013 | February 21, 2010 11:11 AM
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The very slight moderation in temperatures the last few years, is likely due to the prolonged solar minimum we are currently in.

While it has moderated the trend line somewhat in recent years, it has not halted the melting of the artic or the glacers. It has not reversed or cancelled out the warming trend.

Doubters will be able to get all the evidence they need, during the next solar max.

Posted by: fabco | February 21, 2010 10:33 AM
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Mr. Boesch is an enviro-fanatic. He (like so many other alarmist) have made Global Warming, errr i mean..”climate change”, their religion. Mr. Boesch’s point of view should be taken with a grain of salt. He has become an activist, and in doing so has lost all creditability. You see, the theory of Global Cooling died 40 years ago. The theory of Global Warming died last year with the Climategate scandal. And now it seems the theory of "Climate Change" is suddenly upon us. But you see, Climate change is not a theory at all.

Climate Change is what all of us SAIN people call weather!

Also, I am not surprised Mr. Boesch didn’t mention this in his response. Last week Professor Phil Jones, a supposed global warming expert, admitted to the BBC that there has been “NO statistically significant warming since 1995”. He also admitted that during the Medieval time the earth was warmer than it is now.

Posted by: Senator_Salesman | February 21, 2010 7:03 AM
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Mr. Boesch is an enviro-fanatic. He (like so many other alarmist) have made Global Warming, errr i mean..”climate change”, their religion. Mr. Boesch’s point of view should be taken with a grain of salt. He has become an activist, and in doing so has lost all creditability. You see, the theory of Global Cooling died 40 years ago. The theory of Global Warming died last year with the Climategate scandal. And now it seems the theory of "Climate Change" is suddenly upon us. But you see, Climate change is not a theory at all.

Climate Change is what all of us SAIN people call weather!

Also, I am not surprised Mr. Boesch didn’t mention this in his response. Last week Professor Phil Jones, a supposed global warming expert, admitted to the BBC that there has been “NO statistically significant warming since 1995”. He also admitted that during the Medieval time the earth was warmer than it is now.

Posted by: Senator_Salesman | February 21, 2010 7:02 AM
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"overwhelming scientific evidence "

Where in the hell is this evidence. There are more and more climatologists and scientist discrediting AGW. The grossly false and distorted information from so called "Whoever" with an agenda is staggering and the IPCC is a joke...
Phil Jones had to admit that there is NO data supporting warming in 15 years...


Posted by: sophic | February 20, 2010 11:35 AM
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It doesn't matter whether there is global warming or not. We must get off middle east oil to balance trade deficits, and phase out coal for it's other pollution and health risks.

Nuclear critics should check out what Obama can possibly mean by the next generation of safer, cleaner, cheaper, more efficient nuclear reactors before they make up their minds all things nuclear are bad.

Nuclear critics will have to come up with some new arguments. The old arguments no longer apply when you can burn the waste as fuel.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHdRJqi__Z8&feature=related

When will we start thinking outside the box? There are other types of reactor designs possible, besides the meltdown prone, fuel wasting, antique model T clunkers we build today.

Arguments against uranium do not apply to thorium. Say no to uranium, and yes to thorium.

http://advancednano.blogspot.com/2006/10/coal-chernobyl-twice-week-and-coal-9.html
Releases in 1982 from worldwide combustion of 2800 million tons of coal totaled 3640 tons of uranium (containing 51,700 pounds of uranium-235) and 8960 tons of thorium. The population gets 100 times more radiation from a coal plant than from a nuclear plant. So in 2004 by burning 4.6 billions tons of coal, we released 5980 tons of uranium into the air and 14720 tons of Thorium. This is like 80 truck size dirty nuclear bombs releasing 1 ton of radioactive material every day, or a Chernobyl twice a week.

Posted by: fabco | February 20, 2010 9:49 AM
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