The Little Ice Age (1300 A.D. to the 20th century)

Magnitude and Range of Climate Change

by Dr. Don J. Easterbrook
January 26, 2011

Continues from page 1

The Little Ice Age (1300 A.D. to the 20th century)

At the end of the Medieval Warm Period, ~1230 A.D., temperatures dropped ~4°C (~7° F) in ~20 years and the cold period that followed is known as the Little Ice Age. The colder climate that ensued for several centuries was devastating (see e.g., Grove, 1988, 2004; Singer and Avery, 2007; Fagan, 2000). Temperatures of the cold winters and cool, rainy summers were too low for growing of cereal crops, resulting in widespread famine and disease. When temperatures declined during the 30–year cool period from the late 1940’s to 1977, some climatologists and meteorologists predicted a return to a new Little Ice Age.

Glaciers expanded worldwide (see e.g., Grove, 1988, 2004; Singer and Avery, 2007). Glaciers in Greenland advanced and pack-ice extended southward in the North Atlantic in the 13th century. The population of Europe had become dependent on cereal grains as a food supply during the Medieval Warm Period and when the colder climate, early snows, violent storms, and recurrent flooding swept Europe, massive crop failures occurred. Three years of torrential rains that began in 1315 led to the Great Famine of 1315-1317. The Thames River in London froze over, the growing season was significantly shortened, crops failed repeatedly, and wine production dropped sharply (Fagan, 2000; Singer and Avery, 2007).

Winters during the Little Ice Age were bitterly cold in many parts of the world. Advance of glaciers in the Swiss Alps in the mid–17th century gradually encroached on farms and buried entire villages. The Thames River and canals and rivers of the Netherlands frequently froze over during the winter. New York Harbor froze in the winter of 1780 and people could walk from Manhattan to Staten Island. Sea ice surrounding Iceland extended for miles in every direction, closing many harbors. The population of Iceland decreased by half and the Viking colonies in Greenland died out in the 1400s because they could no longer grow enough food there. In parts of China, warm weather crops that had been grown for centuries were abandoned. In North America, early European settlers experienced exceptionally severe winters.


If CO2 is indeed the cause of global warming, then global temperatures should mirror the rise in CO2. For the past 1000 years, atmospheric CO2 levels remained fairly constant at about 280 ppm (parts per million). Atmospheric CO2 concentrations began to rise during the industrial revolution early in the 20th century but did not exceed about 300 ppm. The climatic warming that occurred between about 1915 and 1945 was not accompanied by significant rise in CO2. In 1945, CO2 emission began to rise sharply and by 1980 atmospheric CO2 had risen to just under 340 ppm. During this time, however, global temperatures fell about 0.9°F (0.5° C) in the Northern Hemisphere and about 0.4°F (0.2° C) globally.

Global temperatures suddenly reversed during the Great Climate Shift of 1977 when the Pacific Ocean switched from its cool mode to its warm mode with no change in the rate of CO2 increase. The 1977–1998 warm cycle ended in 1999 and a new cool cycle began. If CO2 is the cause of global warming, why did temperatures rise for 30 years (1915-1945) with no significant increase in CO2? Why did temperatures fall for 30 years (1945-1977) while CO2 was sharply accelerating? Logic dictates that this anomalous cooling cycle during accelerating CO2 levels must mean either (1) rising CO2 is not the cause of global warming or (2) some process other than rising CO2 is capable of strongly overriding its effect on global atmospheric warming.

Temperature patterns since the Little Ice Age (~1300 to 1860 A.D.) show a very similar pattern; 25–30 year–long periods of alternating warm and cool temperatures during overall warming from the Little Ice Age low. These temperature fluctuations took place well before any significant effect of anthropogenic atmospheric CO2.


Temperature changes recorded in the GISP2 ice core from the Greenland Ice Sheet show that the magnitude of global warming experienced during the past century is insignificant compared to the magnitude of the profound natural climate reversals over the past 25,000 years, which preceded any significant rise of atmospheric CO2. If so many much more intense periods of warming occurred naturally in the past without increase in CO2, why should the mere coincidence of a small period of low magnitude warming this century be blamed on CO2?

Cuffey, K.M. and G.D. Clow, 1997, Temperature, accumulation and ice sheet elevation in central Greenland through the last deglacial transition: Journal of Geophysical Research, vol. 102, p.26383-396.
Fagan, B., 2007, The Little Ice Age: Basic Books, NY, 246 p.
Fagan, B., 2008, The great warming: Bloomsberg Press, NY, 282 p.
Grove, J.M., 2004, Little Ice Ages: Ancient and modern: 2nd edition, vol. 1,2, 718 p.
Oliver, J.E., 1973, Climate and man’s environment: Wiley, NY, 365 p.
Singer, S.F., and Avery, D.T., 2007, Unstoppable global warming: Rowman and Littlefield, 278 p.
Stuiver, M. and Grootes, P.M., 2000, GISP2 oxygen isotope ratios: Quaternary Research, vol. 53, p. 277–284.

Dr. Don J. Easterbrook is Emeritus Professor of Geology at Western Washington University where he has conducted research on global climate change in western North America, New Zealand, Argentina, and various other parts of the world for the past 48 years. He has written three textbooks and several other books, about 150 papers in professional journals, and has presented 30 research papers at international meetings in 12 countries. All of his research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and other U.S. government agencies.

Magnitude and Range of Climate Changes

by Dr. Don J. Easterbrook
January 26, 2011

The GISP2 Greenland ice core has proven to be a great source of climatic data from the geologic past. Ancient temperatures can be measured using oxygen isotopes in the ice and ages can be determined from annual dust accumulation layers in the ice. The oxygen isotope ratios of thousands of ice core samples were measured by Minze Stuiver and Peter Grootes at the University of Washington (1993, 1999) and these data have become a world standard.

The ratio of 18O to 16O depends on the temperature at the time snow crystals formed, which were later transformed into glacial ice. Ocean volume may also play a role in δ18O values, but δ18O serves as a good proxy for temperature. The oxygen isotopic composition of a sample is expressed as a departure of the 18O/16O ratio from an arbitrary standard where δ18O is the of ratio 18O/16O expressed in per mil (0/00) units.

The age of each sample is accurately known from annual dust layers in the ice core. The top of the core is 1987.
The δ18O data clearly show remarkable swings in climate over the past 100,000 years. In just the past 500 years, Greenland warming/cooling temperatures fluctuated back and forth about 40 times, with changes every 25-30 years (27 years on the average). None of these changes could have been caused by changes in atmospheric CO2 because they predate the large CO2 emissions that began about 1945. Nor can the warming of 1915 to 1945 be related to CO2, because it pre-dates the soaring emissions after 1945. Thirty years of global cooling (1945 to 1977) occurred during the big post-1945 increase in CO2.

But what about the magnitude and rates of climates change? How do past temperature oscillations compare with recent global warming (1977-1998) or with warming periods over the past millennia. The answer to the question of magnitude and rates of climate change can be found in the δ18O and borehole temperature data.

Temperature changes in the GISP2 core over the past 25,000 years are shown in Figure 1 (from Cuffy and Clow, 1997). The temperature curve in Figure 1 is a portion of their original curve. I’ve added color to make it easier to read. The horizontal axis is time and the vertical axis is temperature based on the ice core δ18O and borehole temperature data.

Details are discussed in their paper. Places where the curve becomes nearly vertical signify times of very rapid temperature change. Keep in mind that these are temperatures in Greenland, not global temperatures. However, correlation of the ice core temperatures with world-wide glacial fluctuations and correlation of modern Greenland temperatures with global temperatures confirms that the ice core record does indeed follow global temperature trends and is an excellent proxy for global changes. For example, the portions of the curve from about 25,000 to 15,000 represent the last Ice Age (the Pleistocene) when huge ice sheets thousands of feet thick covered North America, northern Europe, and northern Russia and alpine glaciers readvanced far downvalley.

So let’s see just how the magnitude and rates of change of modern global warming/cooling compare to warming/cooling events over the past 25,000 years. We can compare the warming and cooling in the past century to approximate 100 year

Greenland temperatures over the past 25,000 years recorded in the GISP2 ice core. Strong, abrupt warming is shown by nearly vertical rise of temperatures, strong cooling by nearly vertical drop of temperatures (Modified from Cuffy and Clow, 1997).

periods in the past 25,000 years. The scale of the curve doesn’t allow enough accuracy to pick out exactly 100 year episodes directly from the curve, but that can be done from the annual dust layers in ice core data. Thus, not all of the periods noted here are exactly 100 years. Some are slightly more, some are slightly less, but they are close enough to allow comparison of magnitude and rates with the past century.

Temperature changes recorded in the GISP2 ice core from the Greenland Ice Sheet (Figure 1) (Cuffy and Clow, 1997) show that the global warming experienced during the past century pales into insignificance when compared to the magnitude of profound climate reversals over the past 25,000 years. In addition, small temperature changes of up to a degree or so, similar to those observed in the 20th century record, occur persistently throughout the ancient climate record.

Figure 2 shows comparisons of the largest magnitudes of warming/cooling events per century over the past 25,000 years. At least three warming events were 20 to 24 times the magnitude of warming over the past century and four were 6 to 9 times the magnitude of warming over the past century. The magnitude of the only modern warming which might possibly have been caused by CO2. (1978-1998) is insignificant compared to the earlier periods of warming.

Temperatures on the vertical axis are rise or fall of temperatures in about a century. Each column represents the rise or fall of temperature shown on Figure 1. Event number 1 is about 24,000 years ago and event number 15 is about 11,000 years old. The sudden warming about 15,000 years ago caused massive melting of these ice sheets at an unprecedented rate. The abrupt cooling that occurred from 12,700 to 11,500 years ago is known as the Younger Dryas cold period, which was responsible for readvance of the ice sheets and alpine glaciers. The end of the Younger Dryas cold period warmed by 9°F ( 5°C) over 30-40 years and as much as 14°F (8°C) over 40 years.


Some of the more remarkable sudden climatic warming periods are shown listed below (refer also to Figure 1). Numbers

Magnitudes of the largest warming/ cooling events over the past 25,000 years.

correspond to the temperature curves on Figure 2.

1. About 24,000 years ago, while the world was still in the grip of the last Ice Age and huge continental glaciers covered large areas, a sudden warming of about 20°F occurred. Shortly thereafter, temperatures dropped abruptly about 11°F. Temperatures then remained cold for several thousand years but oscillated between about 5°F warmer and cooler.

2. About 15,000 years ago, a sudden, intense, climatic warming of about 21°F (~12° C;) caused dramatic melting of the large ice sheets that covered Canada and the northern U.S., all of Scandinavia, and much of northern Europe and Russia.

3. A few centuries later, temperatures again plummeted about 20° F (~11°C) and glaciers readvanced.

4. About 14,000 years ago, global temperatures once again rose rapidly, about 8°F (~4.5°C), and glaciers receded.

5. About 13,400 years ago, global temperatures plunged again, about 14° F (~8°C) and glaciers readvanced.

6. About 13,200 years ago, global temperatures increased rapidly, 9° F (~5°C), and glaciers receded.

7. 12,700 years ago global temperatures plunged sharply, 14° F (~8°C) and a 1300 year cold period, the Younger Dryas, began.

8. After 1300 years of cold climate, global temperatures rose sharply, about 21° F (~12°C), 11,500 years ago, marking the end of the Younger Dryas cold period and the end of the Pleistocene Ice Age.


8,200 years ago, the post-Ice Age interglacial warm period was interrupted by a sudden global cooling that lasted for a few

The 8200 year B.P. sudden climate change, recorded in oxygen isotope ratios in the GISP2 ice core, lasted about 200 years.

centuries (Fig. 3). During this time, alpine glaciers advanced and built moraines. The warming that followed the cool period was also abrupt. Neither the abrupt climatic cooling nor the warming that followed was preceded by atmospheric CO2 changes.


750 B.C. to 200 B.C. Cool Period Prior to the founding of the Roman Empire, Egyptians records show a cool climatic period from about 750 to 450 B.C. and the Romans wrote that the Tiber River froze and snow remained on the ground for long periods (Singer and Avery, 2007).

The Roman Warm Period (200 B.C. to 600 A.D.)

After 100 B.C., Romans wrote of grapes and olives growing farther north in Italy than had been previously possible and of little snow or ice (Singer and Avery, 2007).

The Dark Ages Cool Period (440 A.D. to 900 A.D.)

The Dark Ages were characterized by marked cooling. A particularly puzzling event apparently occurred in 540 A.D. when tree rings suggest greatly retarded growth, the sun appeared dimmed for more than a year, temperatures dropped in Ireland, Great Britain, Siberia, North and South America, fruit didn’t ripen, and snow fell in the summer in southern Europe (Baillie in Singer and Avery, 2007). In 800 A.D., the Black Sea froze and in 829 A.D. the Nile River froze (Oliver, 1973).

The Medieval Warm Period (900 A.D. to 1300 A.D.)

The Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was a time of warm climate from about 900–1300 AD when global temperatures were apparently somewhat warmer than at present. Its effects were particularly evident in Europe where grain crops flourished, alpine tree lines rose, many new cities arose, and the population more than doubled. The Vikings took advantage of the climatic amelioration to colonize Greenland, and wine grapes were grown as far north as England where growing grapes is now not feasible and about 500 km north of present vineyards in France and Germany. Grapes are presently grown in Germany up to elevations of about 560 meters, but from about 1100 to 1300 A.D., vineyards extended up to 780 meters, implying temperatures warmer by about 1.0 to 1.4°C (Oliver, 1973, Tkachuck, 1983).

Wheat and oats were grown around Trondheim, Norway, suggesting climates about one degree C warmer than present (Fagan, 2007).

The Vikings colonized southern Greenland in 985 AD during the Medieval Warm Period when milder climates allowed favorable open-ocean conditions for navigation and fishing. This was “close to the maximum Medieval warming recorded in the GISP2 ice core at 975 AD (Stuiver et al., 1995).

Elsewhere in the world, prolonged droughts affected the southwestern United States and Alaska warmed. Sediments in Lake Nakatsuna in central Japan record warmer temperatures.

The Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was a time of warm climate from about 900–1300 AD when global temperatures were apparently somewhat warmer than at present.

Elsewhere in the world, prolonged droughts affected the southwestern United States and Alaska warmed.

Sea surface temperatures in the Sargasso Sea were approximately 1°C warmer than today and the climate in equatorial east Africa was drier from 1000–1270 AD. An ice core from the eastern Antarctic Peninsula shows warmer temperatures during this period.

Continue reading…

Obamacare Declared Void by Florida Judge

January 31, 2011

A judge in Florida on Monday became the second judge to declare President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law unconstitutional, in the biggest legal challenge yet to federal authority to enact the law.

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson, appointed to the bench by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, ruled that the reform law’s so-called “individual mandate” went too far in requiring that Americans start buying health insurance in 2014 or pay a penalty.

“Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire act must be declared void. This has been a difficult decision to reach, and I am aware that it will have indeterminable implications,” Vinson wrote.

He was referring to a key provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and sided with governors and attorneys general from 26 U.S. states, almost all of whom are Republicans, in declaring it unconstitutional. The issue will likely end up at the Supreme Court.

The plaintiffs represent more than half the U.S. states, so the Pensacola case has more prominence than two dozen lawsuits filed in federal courts over the healthcare law.

The healthcare overhaul, a cornerstone of Obama’s presidency, aims to expand health insurance to cover millions of uninsured Americans while also curbing costs. Administration officials insist it is constitutional and needed to stem huge projected increases in healthcare costs.

Two other federal judges have rejected challenges to the individual mandate.

But a federal district judge in Richmond, Virginia, last month struck down that central provision of the law in a case in that state, saying it invited an “unbridled exercise of federal police powers.”

The provision is key to the law’s mission of covering more than 30 million uninsured. Officials argue it is only by requiring healthy people to purchase policies that they can help pay for reforms, including a mandate that individuals with pre-existing medical conditions cannot be refused coverage.

Egypt goes offline, U.S. gets internet ‘kill switch’ bill ready

China restricts news and discussion about social unrest
January 31, 2011

As Egypt’s government attempts to crackdown on street protests by shutting down internet and mobile phone services, the US is preparing to reintroduce a bill that could be used to shut down the internet.

The legislation, which would grant US President Barack Obama powers to seize control of and even shut down the internet, would soon be reintroduced to a senate committee, reported.

It was initially introduced last year but expired with a new Congress.

Senator Susan Collins, a co-sponsor of the bill, said that unlike in Egypt, where the government was using its powers to quell dissent by shutting down the internet, it would not.

“My legislation would provide a mechanism for the government to work with the private sector in the event of a true cyber emergency,” Collins said in an emailed statement to Wired. “It would give our nation the best tools available to swiftly respond to a significant threat.”

The proposed legislation, introduced into the US Senate by independent senator Joe Lieberman, who is chairman of the US Homeland Security committee, seeks to grant the President broad emergency powers over the internet in times of national emergency.

Last year, Lieberman argued the bill was necessary to “preserve those networks and assets and our country and protect our people”.

He said that, for all its allure, the internet could also be a “dangerous place with electronic pipelines that run directly into everything from our personal bank accounts to key infrastructure to government and industrial secrets”.

US economic security, national security and public safety were now all at risk from new kinds of enemies, including “cyber warriors, cyber spies, cyber terrorists and cyber criminals”.

Although the bill was targetted at protecting the US, many have said it would also affect other nations.

One of Australia’s top communications experts, University of Sydney associate professor Bjorn Landfeldt, had previously railed against the idea, saying shutting down the internet would “inflict an enormous damage on the entire world”.

He said it would be like giving a single country “the right to poison the atmosphere, or poison the ocean”.

The scale of Egypt’s crackdown on the internet and mobile phones amid deadly protests against the rule of President Hosni Mubarak is unprecedented in the history of the web, experts have said.

US President Barack Obama, social networking sites and rights groups around the world all condemned the moves by Egyptian authorities to stop activists using mobile phones and cyber technology to organise rallies.

“It’s a first in the history of the internet,” Rik Ferguson, an expert for Trend Micro, the world’s third biggest computer security firm, said.

Julien Coulon, co-founder of Cedexis, a French internet performance monitoring and traffic management system, added: “In 24 hours we have lost 97 per cent of Egyptian internet traffic”.

Despite this, many Egyptians are finding ways to get access, some using international telephone numbers to gain access to dial-up internet.

According to Renesys, a US Internet monitoring company, Egypt’s four main internet service providers cut off international access to their customers in a near simultaneous move at 2234 GMT on Thursday.

Around 23 million Egyptians have either regular or occasional access to the internet, according to official figures, more than a quarter of the population.

“In an action unprecedented in internet history, the Egyptian government appears to have ordered service providers to shut down all international connections to the internet,” James Cowie of Renesys said in a blog post.

Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt and Etisalat Misr were all off air but Cowie said one exception was the Noor Group, which still has 83 live routes to its Egyptian customers.

He said it was not clear why the Noor Group was apparently unaffected “but we observe that the Egyptian Stock Exchange ( is still alive at a Noor address.”

Mobile telephone networks were also severely disrupted in the country on Friday. Phone signals were patchy and text messages inoperative.

British-based Vodafone said all mobile operators in Egypt had been “instructed” Friday to suspend services in some areas amid spiralling unrest, adding that under Egyptian law it was “obliged” to comply with the order.

Egyptian operator ECMS, linked to France’s Telecom-Orange, said the authorities had ordered them to shut them off late Thursday.

“We had no warning, it was quite sudden,” a spokesman for Telecom-Orange told AFP in France.

The shutdown in Egypt is the most comprehensive official electronic blackout of its kind, experts said.

Links to the web were cut for only a few days during a wave of protests against Myanmar’s ruling military junta in 2007, while demonstrations against the re-election of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009 specifically targeted Twitter and Facebook.

Egypt – like Tunisia where mass popular unrest drove out Zine El Abidine Ben Ali earlier this month – is on a list of 13 countries classed as “enemies of the internet” by media rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

“So far there has been no systematic filtering by Egyptian authorities – they have completely controlled the whole internet,” said Soazig Dollet, the Middle East and North Africa specialist for RSF.

Condemnation of Egypt’s internet crackdown has been widespread.

Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Cairo to restore the internet and social networking sites.

Facebook, the world’s largest social network with nearly 600 million members, and Twitter also weighed in.

“Although the turmoil in Egypt is a matter for the Egyptian people and their government to resolve, limiting Internet access for millions of people is a matter of concern for the global community,” said Andrew Noyes, a Facebook spokesman.

Twitter, which has more than 175 million registered users, said of efforts to block the service in Egypt: “We believe that the open exchange of info & views benefits societies & helps govts better connect w/ their people.”

US digital rights groups also criticised the Egyptian government.

“This action is inconsistent with all international human rights norms, and is unprecedented in internet history,” said Leslie Harris, president of the Center for Democracy and Technology in the United States.

Fluoride: A Worldwide Campaign to End Exposure

Fluoride: A Statement of Concern

by Paul Connett, PhD

continues from part 2

51. In 1995, Dr. Phyllis Mullenix resisted an enormous amount of political pressure to publish her investigation of the impact of fluoride on rat behavior (61). In her work she found that fluoride concentrated in the brain and that when the animals were exposed to fluoride before birth they exhibited behavior characterized as hyperactive, and when they were dosed after birth they became hypoactive (“couch potatoes”). In a non peer-reviewed critique by Gary Whitford, circulated by the Centers for Disease Control, Division of Oral Health (62), but not submitted to Mullenix for rebuttal (where are the professional ethics here?), her work was attacked because of the high levels of fluoride she had used.

52. When Mullenix finally received a copy of Whitford’s critique from a third party she was quickly able to respond. She pointed out, “These criticisms are without merit because our doses in rats produce a level of fluoride in the plasma equivalent to that found in humans drinking 5-10 ppm fluoride in water, or humans receiving some treatments for osteoporosis. This plasma level is exceeded ten times over one hour after children receive topical applications of some dental fluoride gels. Thus, humans are being exposed to levels of fluoride that we know alter behavior in rats” (63). Mullenix also pointed out that it is standard toxicological practice to treat animals with large doses over short periods of time, in order to tease out an effect with the small number of the animals being tested. However, before she could administer small doses over a longer period of time, she was dismissed from the Forsyth Dental Center. She was told her work had little relevance to dentistry! While agencies of the US government had shown a lot of interest in this work (one suspects in order to discredit it) they have not found it necessary to fund more work in this area. Another example of politics ruling over science: a sickening thread that runs throughout this sorrowful 50-year history of fluoride promotion by agencies of the US Public Health Service.

53. An impartial observer is forced to ask, if the promotion of fluoride is an honorable cause, why it is that the tactics behind it have been so despicable? Mullenix is not the only scientist who has suffered reprisals because of her work on fluoride. In 1992 US EPA fired Dr. William Marcus, the Senior Scientist at EPA’s Office of Drinking Water, for questioning the erroneous downgrading of cancers in the 1990 NTP fluoride rat study (see paragraph 26). According to a February 10, 1994, press release from the National Whistleblower Center in Washington, DC:

“In a precedent-setting ruling, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Robert B. Reich has ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reinstate toxicologist Dr. William L. Marcus. Labor found the EPA guilty of falsifying employment records, discrimination, and retaliation against an employee whistleblower. It also granted Marcus, the largest compensatory damage award ever upheld under the federal environment employee protection statues… The case marks the first time that EPA federal employees were held to be protected from discrimination under federal environmental laws. The ruling establishes that all federal employees are covered under these laws… The decision upheld an earlier order by a DOL Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued December 3, 1992, supporting Marcus’ claim that he was fired for protected activity… The EPA dismissed the 52-year-old toxicologist on May 13, 1992 after a four-year investigation of Marcus’ outside activities as an expert trial witness. EPA accused Marcus of improper use of agency information for private gain, being improperly absent from work, and engaging in outside employment which appeared to pose a conflict of interest… Both the ALJ and Reich found many of the charges to be `unsubstantiated,’ and based on apparently falsified time records and other testimony. Reich disputed the EPA’s position stating, `I agree with the ALJ that this rationale is pretextual and that the true reason for the discharge was retaliation.’ Both Reich and the ALJ found that Marcus was actually fired for publicly criticizing and opposing EPA’s policy on fluoride in drinking water.”

Dr. Marc Diesendorf describes a similar situation to Mullenix with respect to the paper he published in Nature (12). He wrote,

“an unpublished covert critique of my paper… written by a senior member of the Australian Dental Association, is apparently being circulated to health departments, politicians, and newspaper editors in several countries, including the U.S. Recently an overseas newspaper editor sent me a copy, and it was immediately clear that the critique was easily answered and was of such a low scientific standard that it would be very difficult to publish, except perhaps in certain dental journals” (64).

I, myself, have received letters from dentists who have been threatened because they had the integrity to speak out on this issue. What makes this kind of bullying even more unacceptable is that it is supported at the highest levels of government. Mullenix has described her work and the trouble it sparked in a videotaped interview (65). Bette Hileman cites several other disturbing incidents encountered by fluoride researchers, including:

“Phillipe Grandjean, professor of environmental medicine at Odense University in Denmark, wrote to the Environmental Protection Agency in June 1985 about a World Health Organization study on fluorine and fluorides: `Information which could cast any doubt on the advantage of fluoride supplements was left out by the Task Group. Unless I had been present myself, I would have found it hard to believe’” (20, p 36).

54. Meanwhile, Isaacson and his co-workers at SUNY Binghamton, were conducting low-dose, long-term rat fluoride studies (66). They found that fluoride administered daily at 1 ppm, either as aluminum fluoride or sodium fluoride in doubly distilled de-ionized water, for a period of one year, produced morphological changes to kidney and brain cells and an increased uptake of aluminum into the brain. This striking finding has been largely ignored by US authorities, as have been the studies by Guan et al on the impact of fluoride on membrane lipids in rat brain (67), and the studies from China which indicate a lowering of IQ of children as a function of their exposure to fluoride (68, 69). While it is possible that these Chinese studies may have not accounted for some potentially confounding variables, they again wave another very serious red flag? Are we going to risk damaging our childrens’ brains for the sake of, at most, half a tooth? What would those who believe in the precautionary principle have to say about that?

55. The work by Isaacson raises a very large issue: the possibility that because fluoride forms complex ions with very many metal ions, including toxic metals like radium, uranium, beryllium, aluminum and lead, it may facilitate the uptake of these elements into places they would not normally be able to enter. This may be particularly relevant if fluoride facilitates their crossing of the blood brain barrier or the placental membrane. Unfortunately, very few studies have pursued the synergistic effects of fluoride and other substances like toxic metal ions. In one of those rare studies that did, it was shown that a combination of lead and fluoride (the salts were dissolved in the drinking water of rats) proved to be “much more severely toxic than either compound alone” and that the fluoride produced significantly higher lead concentrations in the blood and femur (70). Another more recent study which may have inadvertently probed the matter is the extraordinary work of Dr Roger Masters (Professor of Government at Dartmouth) and Myron Coplan, an environmental engineer from Massachusetts (71). They have found a correlation between the uptake of lead into children’s blood and the use of hexafluorosilicic acid or its sodium salt to fluoridate municipal water supplies in Massachusetts. They also found a correlation between the use of these same agents and the incidence of violent crime.

56. Masters and Coplan’s work also revealed that practically no toxicological work has been performed on these silcofluorides, which are used to fluoridate about 90% (72) of the water fluoridated in the US. Instead, when scientists look at possible problems with fluoridation they examine the effect of the fluoride ion not the hexafluorosilicate ion. The assumption being made is that by the time the hexafluorosilicate ion reaches the tap it will have been completely converted into silica and the free fluoride ion. Coplan argues, during a fascinating videotaped interview that I had with him (and Roger Masters) that this is not likely and that there will be still some silicon fluoride complexes available at the tap and these might be the species which facilitate the uptake of the lead (73).

The source of the fluoride used to fluoridate water in the US.

57. As mentioned above, about 90% of the water fluoridated in the US contains either hexafluorosilicic acid (H2SiF6) or its sodium salt (Na2SiF6). These are obtained from the super-phosphate industry from the scrubbing solution used to remove hydrogen fluoride from atmospheric releases. By law, these scrubbing liquids cannot be dumped into the sea, lakes, rivers or streams. However, the US EPA does allow them to be diluted down to 1 ppm and then to be added to our drinking water. From there the fluoride can be flushed through our bodies before it enters rivers and then the sea! According to one US EPA official this is an excellent way of dealing with “water and air pollution” problems (74). Canada’s leading pro-fluoridation dental authority, Dr. Hardy Limeback, recently changed his position. (Limeback’s qualifications include: Ph.D in Biochemistry, D.D.S., Head of the Department of Preventive Dentistry at the University of Toronto, and President of the Canadian Association for Dental Research). In a December 1999 press interview he cited one of the reasons for his dramatic turn-around:

“the crowning blow was the realization that we have been dumping contaminated fluoride into water reservoirs for half a century. The vast majority of all fluoride additives come from Tampa Bay, Florida smokestack scrubbers. The additives are a toxic byproduct of the super-phosphate fertilizer industry” (75).

Barry Forbes, the newspaper reporter who published this interview with Limeback, wrote:

“Last week, Dr. Hardy Limeback addressed his faculty and students at the University of Toronto, Department of Dentistry. In a poignant, memorable meeting, he apologized to those gathered before him. `Speaking as the head of preventive dentistry, I told them that I had unintentionally mislead my colleagues and my students. For the past 15 years, I had refused to study the toxicology information that is readily available to anyone. Poisoning our children was the furthest thing from my mind. The truth,’ he confessed to me, `was a bitter pill to swallow. But swallow it I did’ ” (75).

Many others, including myself, are outraged that our health may be put at risk to facilitate the waste disposal needs of the super-phosphate industry. However, from this industry’s narrow economic point of view it makes a lot of sense. It converts a hazardous waste disposal cost of about $400 million a year to a profit of $180 million from sales to the public water works. Citizens like George Glasser in Florida have raised the issue of the other pollutants present in these scrubbing solutions (76). Even though they are diluted at the public water works from about a 24% percent solution (24 parts per hundred) to a 1 part per million solution of fluoride, the worry is that even after this dilution certain pollutants and radioactive isotopes may still be present at unacceptable levels.

Fluoride and the environment.

58. In addition to the threat posed to humans is the threat posed to the environment. The impact of fluorides on vegetation (77) and on cattle (78) is well established. Of more recent concern is the impact of fluoride (from fluoridated water emerging from wastewater treatment facilities) on spawning salmon in waterways like the Columbia River (79).

Fluoridation and common sense.

59. Turning to common sense. Pharmaceutical grade fluoride is freely available via toothpaste, dental products and even vitamin tablets. Today the bigger danger, as evidenced by the dramatic increase in dental fluorosis (discussed above), is overdosing our children not underdosing them. There is no need to add it to the water. Too many red flags are being waved on possible long-term health threats to continue the experiment of adding this toxic substance to our drinking water–especially in the form of industrial grade hexafluorosilicic acid.

60. Dr. Robert Carton, formerly with the US EPA and who did so much to try and expose the fraud that went on at the US EPA when they established 4 mg/liter as the maximum contaminant level for fluoride, points out:

“We shouldn’t be giving any credence to the idea that the practice of fluoridation is a matter of weighing risks and benefits. In keeping with the notion of human rights, the Safe Drinking Water Act does not allow the weighing of risks and benefits. It allows you to consider economics and feasibility only, while the truth about the adverse effects must be stated clearly. The MCLG (maximum contaminant level goal) is the health statement which is meant to protect everyone–young and old, healthy and unhealthy, those with failing kidneys, diabetics and athletes and soldiers who drink massive amounts of water” (80).

61. If the issue is the protection of human health, as opposed to the protection of corporate profit, it is imperative that we stop putting fluoride into our drinking water. If the precautionary principle applies to anything it should apply to fluoride. Unlike many other toxic pollutant exposures, this is something we are doing to ourselves and something we can simply reverse by switching off a tap. We cannot wait for everything to be proved to a certainty before we act. There is enough evidence from chemical, biochemical, animal and epidemiological studies, to indicate that we should take sensible precautionary action now. Simply put, if in doubt leave it out. If, on the other hand, any citizen wants to take the risks they can simply go and get the fluoride for themselves–it is readily available in every major brand of toothpaste on the market. No one–and no government–should be imposing these risks on someone else. The only difficult issue left with the public water supplies is to decide how much of the naturally occurring fluoride to leave in.

62. Another common sense argument raised against fluoridation is that it is a very clumsy form of medication. One cannot control the dose because one cannot control the amount of water people drink or the other sources of fluoride intake. Thus, when people talk about 1 ppm of fluoride in the drinking water that simply tells us that if someone drinks one liter of water a day they would get 1 mg of fluoride per day. What a doctor wants to do is to control the total dose of medication as either “x” milligrams a day or “y” mg per kilogram bodyweight per day. The inability to control the total dose is particularly serious for the most sensitive and most vulnerable members of our society. Normally, when prescribing medication to an individual a doctor can prescribe for their special needs. But with water fluoridation the doctor cannot. This issue is compounded by the fact that the purported therapeutic dose for some is a toxic dose for others, as demonstrated by the automatic increase in dental fluorosis in children whenever water is fluoridated.

The two sides in the debate.

63. The promoters. For over 50 years those promoting fluoridation have used five tactics: a) they have consistently denied that there is any debate; b) they usually refuse to appear on a public platform with opponents of fluoridation, either in debates or public fora; c) they cite a long list of government agencies and other organizations that have endorsed fluoridation; d) they stress how many communities in the US are fluoridated; and e) they dismiss their opponents as a bunch of crazies. I will deal with each of these tactics in turn.

64. Denial that a debate exists. This position becomes less and less tenable with each new paper pointing out that there is little difference between the state of children’s teeth in fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities and with each new paper which points out some long term health effect which may be associated with fluoride exposure either in animal studies or in epidemiological studies. A particularly severe blow was delivered to the notion that there is “no scientific debate”, when, in 1988, the prestigious weekly journal, Chemical and Engineering News (sent to every member of the American Chemical Society as part of their membership fee) ran a seventeen page cover article on this “scientific debate” (20). This paper, along with the many months of comments which followed it, is an absolute must for anyone considering the pros and cons of fluoridation.

65. Refusal to appear on the same platform as fluoridation opponents. This tactic may work in the short run, but in the long run most citizens see it for what it is, a lack of confidence in the substance of their position. Presumably they believe that they can win the debate with leaflets or paid advertisements which sell their position in a one-sided manner. The booklet called “Fluoridation: The Facts” put out by the American Dental Association (ADA) (81) is a travesty of science. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised since this same association came into existence in the 1830′s in order to promote the use of mercury amalgams, which they have defended ever since, despite the growing evidence that mercury escapes from these fillings and can cause health effects. In its fluoride pamphlet the ADA selectively cites the literature and shamelessly ignores many papers which contradicts its claims of efficacy and safety. The ADA’s standard tactic of dealing with any study which finds a problem with fluoride is to attack the methodology used in the paper. An impartial viewer has to wonder how so many of these papers have made it into peer reviewed journals if the authors’ methodology was as weak as they claim. Furthermore, such critiques from the ADA don’t sit well when they are not sent to the peer reviewed journals for the authors to concede or rebut.

66. The long list of endorsements. This long list of endorsements might look impressive to a newcomer until he or she realizes that once the US Public Health Service officially endorsed fluoridation, it was a foregone conclusion that many governmental and non-governmental agencies (especially those who receive funding from the US PHS) would fall into line. Many of the other agencies listed are dental organizations, which have been so partisan on this issue that their endorsement means very little. Other groups like the pro-fluoridation and industry-funded American Council on Science and Health are well known for their pro-industrial position on toxics. After these groups have been eliminated, the list is less impressive. With those remaining one has to ask these questions:

1) When did the organization endorse?

2) When did they last review the scientific literature on this matter?

3) Who in the organization made the endorsement?

4) How much independent review of the literature was made?

5) And finally, what are the responses of those organizations to the latest scientific information pertaining to fluoride’s impact on: the pineal gland, the thyroid gland, the brain, the interaction of aluminum fluoride complexes with G-proteins, further studies associating fluoride with hip fractures, and the vulnerability of subsets of the population who are especially sensitive to fluoride’s toxicity.

There is an excellent chapter in the book “Fluoridation: The Great Dilemma” by George Waldbott, Albert Burgstahler and H. Lewis McKinney (82) which goes into the dubious nature of some of the early endorsements of fluoridation. However these endorsements were obtained, the ultimate ruling on scientific issues like this should be made based upon weighing the evidence in the published literature and not on the basis of who says its OK. Otherwise we go back some 300 years when the Pope ruled over science. In this respect it is noteworthy that in some communities, where dentists and others have refused open debate, pro-fluoridation statements by the former Surgeon General Everett Koop, have been trotted out, either as letters to the editor or in paid advertisements. This may occur less and less as some of the “ethical shine” wears off Koop’s image (83).

67. Beware of “authorities” which do not do their homework. When it comes to tarnished authority, the biggest shock for me personally came when I went to a public hearing on September 23, 1997, organized by the Food and Nutrition Board, which is part of the Institute of Medicine, which in turn is a part of the National Academy of Sciences. Before this day I held these agencies in some awe. I felt that they were there to arbitrate controversial scientific issues: to provide judgment above and beyond the sway of political and economic pressures. On this day I was sadly disillusioned. Not only had the Food and Nutrition Board included fluoride in a list of the nutrients, “Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphate and Vitamin D” but they had recommended an upper tolerance limit (10 mg/day) which is well over the level thought to cause severe–let alone mild–bone damage (22). Making matters even more absurd was the fact that an earlier report from the National Academy of Science had identified several studies which had shown an increase in osteosclerosis at levels considerably lower than this (84). To add salt to this “credibility wound” was the fact that for eight hours of this meeting, not one single panelist present could provide answers to the questions that I and Dr. William Hirzy, from the US EPA, raised about their calculations and the many papers in the peer-reviewed literature that they had ignored. Another shock: the chairperson for the committee which determined the upper tolerance level for fluoride was a gentlemen called Ian Munro, the President of Cantox. This Canadian consulting company was the very same company which produced a study on behalf of the Chlorine Industry, which essentially exonerated organochlorines of causing any health and environmental problems (85). This whole day is captured on videotape for diehards who want to see their image of this prestigious body shattered (86). The journal Fluoride has carried the correspondence which followed from this meeting (87). Fifteen scientists signed a letter to the President of the National Academy, Dr. Bruce Alberts, pointing out the problems with this report. No reply was received. After several months another letter was sent to Dr. Kenneth Shine, President of the Institute of Medicine. Again, no reply was received. Finally, a citizen recruited Senator Arlen Specter who called upon the Academy to respond. This intervention did finally prompt a reply, over a year after the initial letter was sent. The end result was that nothing was changed. The upper tolerance limit for fluoride remains at a–scientifically indefensible–10 mg/day. The daily recommended doses were equally indefensible (88).

68. I have dwelt on this sorry tale because I think it is a very good example of the danger of relying on “authorities”, however prestigious, to do your thinking for you. In most cases the reviews performed by government agencies are only as good as the people they put on the panels. For over 50 years and in several different countries (US, UK, Australia, NZ, and Canada) the panels that have been appointed to review the fluoride issue have been stuffed with scientists and dentists who have held a strong pro-fluoridation position. Very seldom, if ever, do review panels have people appointed who have an in-depth knowledge of this issue and have a truly independent position or an anti-fluoridation position. Such panels are highly vulnerable to a selective use of the literature in the hands of the pro-fluoridationists. Thus, the conclusions reached appear to be a self-fulfilling prophesy designed to save the faces of those who have promoted this misguided policy for so long. Whatever other damage fluoride has done, it has certainly damaged the integrity of some of our leading scientific and governmental agencies.

69. The number of communities fluoridated. Stressing the numbers of communities that have been fluoridated in the US is ultimately self-defeating for the ADA and others, because it leaves them trying to explain why it is that so many countries have not followed the American lead. Why is it that practically no country in Europe fluoridates its drinking water? How come that despite this failure to accept the “American wisdom” on this matter, that European childrens’ teeth are not full of cavities? No, if numbers convince, then the ADA loses the debate hands down because they have failed to convince the vast majority of countries around the world that fluoridation is an acceptable and sensible public policy. North Americans represent nearly half of the people worldwide drinking artificially fluoridated water, which is a very small percentage of the total world population.

70. The opponents of fluoridation are a bunch of crazies. First of all, bearing in mind the atrocious way opponents of fluoridation have been treated over the last 50 years, it is surprising to me that they are not crazy. I think if I had been doing this for 30 years instead of three I would be hanging from the rafters or in a lunatic asylum! In actual fact over the years there have been many distinguished people who have either opposed fluoridation or expressed reservations about it, including dentists, doctors, scientists, and 12 Noble prize winners (see paragraph 31). Indeed, the most vocal opponents of fluoridation in the 1950s were professional biochemists who had used fluoride to poison enzymes in their experiments. During the debate over fluoridation in New York City in 1963 opponents collected the signatures of over 1,500 doctors, dentists and scientists opposed to fluoridation. Unfortunately, this solid, well-informed and well-reasoned opposition was largely hidden from the public by slick public relations campaigns. It is a sad part of America’s history that many government agencies have been a part (and still are) of this public relations effort. And, if you, dear reader, have felt uneasy even simply reading this paper, this bears testament to how effective this denigration has been.

71. The opponents I know. Over the last few years I have been privileged, to meet in person, or correspond with, some of the leading opponents of fluoridation. These include, Dr. Albert Burgstahler (Harvard graduate and Professor Emeritus of Organic Chemistry at the University of Kansas and co-author of “Fluoridation: The Great Dilemma”), Dr. Robert Carton (formerly with the US EPA), Dr. John Colquhoun (former Principal Dental Officer of Auckland, NZ), Dr. Richard Foulkes, M.D. (former adviser to the Government of British Columbia), Dr. William Hirzy (currently with the US EPA), Dr. David Kennedy, D.P.H (former President of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology), Dr. Lennart Krook (Professor Emeritus of Toxicology, Cornell University Department of Veterinary Medicine), Dr. John Lee, M.D. (Harvard graduate and bone specialist), Dr. Hardy Limeback (Head of Preventive Dentistry, Toronto University), Dr. William Marcus (Senior Science Advisor, US EPA), Dr. Roger Masters (Professor of Government, Dartmouth College), Dr. Phyllis Mullenix (formerly Head of the Toxicology Department, Forsyth Dental Center), Dr. Albert Schatz (Co-discoverer of streptomycin), Dr. Bruce Spittle (Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Otago Medical School, NZ), Dr. John Yiamouyiannis (author of the Aging Factor), and numerous remarkable citizens who between them have spent a combined total of several hundred human years studying this issue. I can state quite emphatically that these people are not a bunch of crazies. They are not being paid to oppose fluoridation and have no other axe to grind. Most of them don’t want the hassle that this uphill task brings to their lives. More than anything else, what they have done, which many of the proponents have not done, is to do their homework with an open mind. They may have a minute fraction of the power and influence of those who have pushed fluoride on the American people, but, in my view, they have far more integrity. They refuse to let go until they see justice done and a sound basis of public policy restored. If readers do likewise, they, too, will find, like the little boy in Hans Christian Anderson’s classic tale, that the Emperor of Fluoridation has no clothes.

72. If readers do pursue this matter one of the arguments that they will have to deal with from proponents is that we need to fluoridate the water to protect the poor who don’t have adequate dental services. On the face of it this seems a very noble sentiment, however, in practice, it could prove to be extremely pernicious. There is considerable evidence (from studies in India, for example) that those most vulnerable to fluoride are those who have a poor diet. The poor are more likely to have a poor diet. Moreover, the poor in the United States are also more likely to have been exposed to other pollutants, like lead, which appear to act synergistically with fluoride. Thus fluoride could deliver yet another blow to an already compromised section of the community. If money is going to be spent on dental improvements for the poor it would be better spent on providing access to better diets and education on dental hygiene.

73. This raises yet another issue. There are particular subsets of the population which are, according to ATSDR, “unusually susceptible to the toxic effects of fluoride and its compounds”:

“These populations include the elderly, people with deficiencies of calcium, magnesium and/or vitamin C, and people with cardiovascular and kidney problems… Impaired renal clearance of fluoride has also been found in people with diabetes mellitus and cardiac insufficiency. People over the age of 50 often have decreased renal fluoride clearance… Poor nutrition increases the incidence of dental fluorosis and skeletal fluorosis… (24, page 113).

To these must be added those who, in double blind studies, have been shown to be supersensitive to fluoride (89). How can we as a society ignore these vulnerable people? How can we put their interests second to the rest of the community?

A challenge.

74. It is very clear from my experience that the ADA and the US PHS cannot win this argument in an open public forum. I have challenged dentists and other proponents of fluoridation to debate this issue in the UK and several states in the US. Only Representative Tigue in Pennsylvania (a former Marine) has had the courage to defend his pro-fluoride position in open public debate. This debate was held in Scranton, Pa. on October 23, 1999, and was televised by the Pennsylvanian Cable Network (90). I am not the only one who has made this kind of challenge. Dr. William Hirzy, of the Union representing EPA’s professionals in Washington D.C., responded to a particularly nasty attack on the credibility of the Union’s anti-fluoride position paper (91) by challenging the author of the attack, Dr. Michael Easley, to a public debate. Easley has failed to respond to the challenge. Let me repeat the challenge. Many of us (Connett, Mullenix, Hirzy, Carton, and others) are more than willing to take on representatives of the ADA or the US PHS or other promoters of fluoridation, in open public debate in any state or in any country.

We need a national campaign to end fluoridation and minimize fluoride exposure.

75. Finally, fluoridation is a peculiarly American phenomenon. It was started at a time when there was a tremendous optimism about what chemicals could do. After World War II, new wonder plastics were being created and new synthetic pesticides being formulated. DDT was freely spread around towns and to demonstrate how safe it was, it was even sprayed over children at picnics and in classrooms! This was a different age. As with DDT, it is now time to call a halt. Fluoridation was started in America, let’s end it in America. We need a national campaign to end fluoridation. Actually, we need more than this. We need to minimize exposure to fluoride from all sources. We need toothpaste manufacturers to give us a choice. They need to provide a version of all their major brands with the fluoride removed. We need the fluoride levels identified on all foods, beverages and bottled water. Again we need freedom of choice. We need to limit fluoride air emissions from industry and power stations. We need to take fluoride air emissions at least as seriously as we do sulfur oxide and nitrogen oxide emissions. We need to eliminate the use of fluoride in pesticides and other products. Finally, we need to pay special attention to the use of cryolite (Na3AlF6) as a “natural pesticide”. However, we will make little progress with all of these urgent demands until scientists and environmental organizations take a scientific attitude to this matter and have the courage to revisit the issue with an open mind. The great moments in history do not occur when every body jumps up and shouts yes, but when a few courageous people step out of the crowd and say no. Fluoride has been a “protected pollutant” (92) for far too long.


In proof reading this paper I realize that I have not done justice to a number of significant issues relating to fluoride’s toxicity, for example: demonstrations of its mutagenicity; it’s ability to promote cancer in the presence of other carcinogens; its possible relationship to birth defects like Down’s Syndrome; the major work of Burk and Yiamouyiannis on comparing cancer rates in fluoridated and non-fluoridated cities in the US; Marier’s extensive work on fluoride’s toxicity in conjunction with magnesium deficiency; and the apparent willingness of the US, Australian and other governments to downplay or outright ignore the seriousness of industrial fluoride pollution which has plagued industrial society since the beginning of the century. However, the important point at this juncture, I believe, is not to overwhelm the reader with more detail but rather to encourage them to cut through the layers of public relations, hype, and name calling, and find out for themselves the prostitution of science which has taken place on the fluoride issue at the highest level of government.


I would like to thank Dr. Albert Burgstahler, Dr. Robert Carton, Dr. Richard Foulkes, Peter Meiers, Andreas Schuld, and Ellen Connett, for taking the time to read this paper and making very useful comments. Any mistakes left after this process are mine, not theirs.

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