A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

My! Isn't ecology hairy......

"Never Knowingly Underhyped"

Hair raising report "hopes to head off disaster"


Earnest Green, Our Pseudoscience Correspondent, London N1 PC1

Many cranial creatures, from head lice to scalp mites, are at risk from a worldwide loss of follicles, according to a World WorryWatch Institution (WWWI) Report, 'A Global Map of Follicular Ecosystems', issued today.

Some 17% of men are now bald, or have shaved off their hair, leading to a decline in important follicular habitats over the last 10 years. A spokesperson for the Royal Society of Our Feathered Friends (RSOFF) bewailed, "Bird populations are particularly threatened as old men are shedding their beards. They have no place to nest. Planning rules must be changed quickly to include proper bird 'follies' in all new beards."

Follicular ecosystems provide a key habitat for a range of other life, and benefit people by keeping their heads warm in winter, cool in summer, and shading their eyes and face. They further help to prevent too much run-off in heavy rain when not overgelled.

Global warming threat

There is also a severe worry that the worldwide loss of hair will increase 'global warming' and climate change, as the removal of follicles exposes a shining bald pate (often called a 'chrome dome') and thus alters the head albedo, that is, the way the scalp reflects incoming solar radiation back into the atmosphere. Indeed, there is clear evidence that football grounds are becoming overheated because of the increasing number of bald and balding players. One Premier League goalkeeper has complained that he is often blinded when trying to parry flying headers - "The lad's done well, but that last save wer' a close shave. It's our Number 1 problem," bemoaned his head coach, Tom Tash.

Professor Don Scratching of the Follicular Challenged Institute (FCI), Headington, Oxford, also points out that follicular ecosystems are under threat from nasty chemicals in shampoos, conditioners, gels, and dyes, not to mention insecticides, like 'LibertyLice'. "Combing through the recent scientific literature is really alarming," he says. And he is especially worried about fall out into domestic water systems, which can become clogged.

GM lice

Another urgent concern is the GM head lice now being trialled in schools to control overpopulations of the newly-introduced and aggressive SATS Louse, which is out of control. There are fears that these GM monsters might spread into other follicular habitats creating 'superbugs' that will wipe out natural populations. Blondie Curl of HeadWatch said that there is no way the government should approve the GM lice. "The project should be scratched for five years until much more research has been done," she argues.

The ex-Environment Minister, Bill Barber MP, who resigned when things came to a head in his Ministry earlier this year, agrees. "We know too little about these GM things - it could be the ultimate folly to let them loose. They could louse up the whole ecosystem. They might pass their genes into who knows what. And we shouldn't allow any patents on 'Frankenlice' either."

An Environment Ministry spokesperson said that the new lice were only being issued and monitored under strict licence. They envisaged no difficulties. The Ministry is now carrying out a regional survey of follicular ecosystems in the UK for the National Biodiversity Action Plan. They hope to root out any problems as soon as possible because it's worth it. The spokesperson also said that the loss of hair in men was being partly balanced by a marked increase in follicular volume in women. However, there was no guarantee that this would be a permanent wave.

Dr. Justin Toupee of the free-market thinktank, HeadCount, further cautions about jumping to oversimplistic conclusions, saying that we may simply be witnessing an artificial statistical artefact and that we must take into account the changing age profile of society, with many more men surviving into their seventies and eighties and losing their hair. "We also need to sample the changing numbers of follicles per pate (the Fp ratio), numbering the hairs on the head," he added.

But others want immediate action. "I hope we really can save these top ecosystems," said Lorna Doom of Worryworts, UK. "We need to cut off the problem quickly before we are all caput. This valuable fauna provides important ecological services and it could be hair today and gone tomorrow. We should also be deeply worried about our undernail flora and fauna."

From our cuttings: Filed October 14, 2003. Copyright 'The Concerned Reporter', 2003.

Ring any bells.....? This should be called 'Every Environmental Report You Have Ever Read'! Philip.

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

WWW EnviroSpin Watch

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?