The lungs of the world are failing.

The Amazon river and the Amazon rainforest are drying and dying.

"The consequences would be truly awesome. The wet Amazon, the planet's greatest celebration of life, would turn to dry savannah at best, desert at worst. This would cause much of the world - including Europe - to become hotter and drier, making this sweltering summer a mild foretaste of what is to come. In the longer term, it could make global warming spiral out of control, eventually making the world uninhabitable." LINK

"Global warming could spell the end of the world's largest remaining tropical rain forest, transforming the Amazon into a grassy savanna before end of the century, researchers said Friday."

That's the cheery, good time article about the Amazon. Severe drought is killing the rainforest much faster than researchers thought.

"So far about a fifth of the Amazonian rainforest has been razed completely. Another 22 per cent has been harmed by logging, allowing the sun to penetrate to the forest floor drying it out. And if you add these two figures together, the total is growing perilously close to 50 per cent, which computer models predict as the "tipping point" that marks the death of the Amazon." LINK

This blog from Baghdad is heartbreaking, fascinating, and a must read.

This is her post today:

End of Another Year...
You know your country is in trouble when:

  • The UN has to open a special branch just to keep track of the chaos and bloodshed, UNAMI.
  • Abovementioned branch cannot be run from your country.
  • The politicians who worked to put your country in this sorry state can no longer be found inside of, or anywhere near, its borders.
  • The only thing the US and Iran can agree about is the deteriorating state of your nation.
  • An 8-year war and 13-year blockade are looking like the country's 'Golden Years'.
  • Your country is purportedly 'selling' 2 million barrels of oil a day, but you are standing in line for 4 hours for black market gasoline for the generator.
  • For every 5 hours of no electricity, you get one hour of public electricity and then the government announces it's going to cut back on providing that hour.
  • Politicians who supported the war spend tv time debating whether it is 'sectarian bloodshed' or 'civil war'.
  • People consider themselves lucky if they can actually identify the corpse of the relative that's been missing for two weeks.

This is barbaric.

Saddam Hussein to Hang.

Goodish news about those displaced Indonesians.

WTF is up with Indonesia? I mean, damn.
Apparently the flooding is the worst since 1969.
Although "the number of displaced fell from 400,000 to nearer 200,000 as people returned from shelters on high ground and temporary government camps, There are still five villages and two districts that we cannot reach because of the rain," health ministry crisis chief Rustam Pakaya told Reuters, adding that 155 people were still missing and 222,231 remained displaced."

That is just freaking beastly. The dreadful thing is, I was reading that the earthquake/tsunami survivors are being just totally, entirely screwed. Corruption, graft, and embezzlement, eating away at the worldwide surge of generosity.

Man oh man. Oh, the humanity. Oh, the huge manatees.

Delicious! B-O-L-O-D-N-A!

Cloned meats, fantastic. That steak was extra-tender? Let's all have the same exact piece!
No, I really am at a total loss as to the ethical hows and howevers for cloned meats. Are we just killing the same, sweet, brown-eyed cow over and over? And did that tasty beast have especially bad karma?

I guess I'm holding out for lab-grown meat- cells on trays, never attached to anything called Bessie.

/and no, I'm not vegetarian. I'm a nasty carnivore, but I do feel guilty! Does that count for anything?

Betting on global warming- what's more fun than that?

God, I HAVE to move to the UK.
This is hilarious. UK bookies are now taking bets on global warming crisis events, and, this is the best part- half of their profits will go to Friends of The Earth. Brilliant. I love Brits. Way to make hay while the sun shines, or something. This makes me laugh, and laughter is supposedly good for you.

Bonus: They are offering odds of 25-1 that a great white shark will be caught off shores of Britain in 2007! Place your bets now!!!

Come on, people, this is burning Rome, sinking Atlantis, and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire all rolled into a spicy enchilada- sin while you may, bay-bee! For tomorrow comes repentance.

Actual Headline: Head-Banging Chinese Snakes Predict Earthquakes. Fantastic.

Chinese scientists have mounted cameras in snake dens as snakes can apparently sense an earthquake 5 days out, and react by flinging themselves around in frantic manners, to the extent to crashing headfirst into walls. Neat-o.

Dr. Master's weather blog

is usually awesome, and I love to read what he has to say. Today he scared the hell out of me, though. I'll put a couple of quotes, but seriously, his blog is a joy to read- clear, not-too-technical writing about weather from a seriously respected meteorologist. The forums there can be fun, but watch out for the nutjobs- cyclonebuster, I'm talking about you. Actually, unless you have epic patience, avoid the forums, but go for Dr. Master's blog. Quotes in bold.

The lack of snow across the entire Northern Hemisphere has been remarkable both in its areal coverage and depth, thanks to December temperatures 5-20 degrees F above normal. Minneapolis, Minnesota--which normally receives over 18 inches of snow by this time of year--has had a paltry one inch of snow so far this winter.

When my nephew Cody eagerly unwrapped his new snow board this Christmas and asked me when he might get a chance to use it, I told him, "What are you thinking? This is Michigan in the 21st century! There's not going to be any more snow." I exaggerate slightly, but I don't recommend that anyone invest in the winter sports equipment industry this year. The latest 2-week forecast from the GFS model shows no end in sight for the warm conditions in North America.

Now, let's talk about sea ice in the Arctic. The Arctic Ice Cap has shrunk by about 20% since 1979, and at the end of November this year, the amount of sea ice in the Arctic was about 2 million square kilometers less than had even been seen in any previous November. December has also seen the lowest sea ice coverage for any December on record. All this exposed water provides a huge source of heat and moisture in the Arctic that retards the formation of the usual cold air masses over the adjacent regions of Canada and Siberia. It's impossible to know how much of an effect this has without doing some detailed model studies, but I think the record low sea ice in the Arctic is probably a significant contributor to this winter's record warmth. The Arctic Ice Cap is expected to continue to decline, due to human-caused global warming, according to the 2004 study by 300 scientists, the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA). Many of us who are used to the reality of a white Christmas will find it only a dream in the coming years. I expect that the unnaturally warm winters we've experienced the past two years in the U.S. will become the norm ten years from now--and may already be the new norm.

Massive iceshelf breaks off in Canada's Arctic

Hm. This shelf actually broke off last August, but in an area so remote that it took seismic indicators and satellites to let researchers know what the heck happened.
Very scary stuff this, what with the slowdown of the Gulf Stream waters already. Ice Age anyone? Thermohaline current disruption.
"They say the ice shelf collapse is the biggest in Canada in 30 years and is indicative of the transformation underway on Ellesmere, Canada's most northern landmass.
"We're seeing incredible changes," said Mr. Vincent, whose group is studying the island's disappearing ice shelves and their unique ecosystems."

Something lovely and quite positive- go pond scum, go!

Algae! Yay!
Seriously, this is very very cool. Research into using algae as a source for biofuels is proving very productive-
""Soybeans can give you 50 to 60 gallons of oil an acre compared to 75 to 125 gallons for canola, but algae is almost limitless because it grows so fast, so potentially you could get 10,000 gallons per acre." And while plants require a lot of fuel to sow and harvest and additional fertilizer and fresh water to nourish, algae can be continuously harvested from closed water-based bioreactors that require little additional replenishment other than inorganic fuel supplied in the form of waste gas."

Those Polar Bear Coca-Cola ads always made me cry anyway

But for entirely different reasons. Ok, we all know about this, the polar bears drowing because of the lack of arctic ice, and it's the one thing that makes my throat close up and tears start and all that human-type emotion crap that I usually stay far far away from. But fuck, it's polar bears.

So it will be interesting to see what steps the US federal agencies take to ensure that we stop 'adversely modifying their critical habitat'- could the polar bears presage carbon taxes? Kyoto?

It's interesting as hell, but it is too late. It is too late for the polar bears. The penguins are headed out- rockhopper penguins (the kind in that Happy Feet movie) have declined 30% over the past 5 years. So that's the iconic animals of the arctic and of the antarctic headed out.

This is the kind of shit that makes me wish I believed in a heaven- can you imagine what a cool place where the baiji dolphin, the polar bear, the rockhopper penguins, and the tigers are going would be?

Severe unseasonal storms in the south Thursday


This is to alert you that there is potential for another outbreak of severe thunderstorms through the Deep South this week. The most likely time for the storms will be late Thursday and even more so Friday. The storms will be triggered by a high-powered jet stream crossing an unusually warm and moist flow of air from the Gulf of Mexico. Normally, outbreaks of severe weather don't occur this time of year, but this December anything goes.
Story by Expert Senior Meteorologist John Kocet.

7.1 Earthquake off Taiwan knocks out communications

Link to BBC article.
"Taiwan's largest telephone company, Chunghwa Telecom Co, said damage to an undersea cable had disrupted 98% of Taiwan's communications with Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong.
Some foreign exchange trading was reportedly affected.
"Trading of the Korean won has mostly halted due to the communication problem," a dealer at one South Korean domestic bank told Reuters news agency."

Hm. Wow, December 26th is a hell of a day for earthquakes. 6.7 in Bam, Iran in 2003, and the 9.3 Sumatra Andaman earthquake in 2004. The annoying invisible Scottish non-earthquake and a this 7.1 off Taiwan yesterday.

India wins! Oh, wait, they lost. Bye Lohachara, we hardly knew ye.

In a surprise upset, India now can claim the loss of the first inhabited island to sink beneath the rising ocean. Tuvalu, long thought to be a frontrunner in this contest, has indeed lost islands already, but the island of Lohachara, once home to 10,000 people is now officially the first inhabited island out.

"Refugees from the vanished Lohachara island and the disappearing Ghoramara island have fled to Sagar, but this island has already lost 7,500 acres of land to the sea. In all, a dozen islands, home to 70,000 people, are in danger of being submerged by the rising seas. " from The Independent.

Elsewhere, "Papua New Guinean authorities are trying to convince thousands of Polynesians to abandon their homes " because rising seas threaten the Carteret Islands.

In the USA, the small Arctic village of Shishmaref is being engulfed. Inhabited for 4,000 years, the remaining indiginous population have petitioned the US Government to move the remaining buildings of their village away from the coastline, even as the coastline gets closer to the buildings. "Soon this entire village will be relocating to the mainland - making the people of Shishmaref the first refugees of global warming."

Well, it seems that that was typical American vanity, imagining that the first climate refugees would be American citizens. India beat us to it, and so did Vanuatu. Papua New Guinea, too.

Hey, you know what, it's not that bad- we're still number one when you look at carbon dioxide emissions! USA! USA! USA!

What on earth are they on about? Invisible earthquake in Scotland.

Ok, I'm deeply annoyed. I do not understand this, and I hate not understanding something. This Times Online article is all hipped up about a 3.5 earthquake that they claim happened in Scotland on dec. 26th, near Lockerbie. Ok, I don't want to doubt them, but... Neither the USGS nor the IRIS have this earthquake showing up on them. So it's very annoying. I don't understand! I am filled with rage and bafflement!

OK, the damn thing is still not showing up on IRIS or USGS, very suspicious, but I did find this, so I am less rage-y and baffled. Still don't see why its not showing up anywhere else though.

Magnitude ML 3.8
Region SCOTLAND, UNITED KINGDOM Southern Scotland
Date time 2006-12-26 at 10:40:05.0 UTC
Location 55.1 N ; 3.63 W
Depth 40 km
Distances 95 km SE Glasgow (pop 610,268 ; local time 10:40 2006-12-26)3 km N Dumfries (pop 30,656 ; local time 10:40 2006-12-26)

Swedish/Norwegian Road collapse due to global warming

E6 motorway collapses
A new motorway south of the Swedish-Norwegian border and Strømstad collapsed during the night, and experts fear the same thing can happen to Norwegian roads. They blame climate change.
The E6 highway that runs from Norway south to Uddevalla and beyond was in ruins at Munkedal, Sweden on Thursday. Several motorists were injured when the road gave out below them just north of Uddevalla, but no one was killed.
Terje Bargel of the Norwegian geologic survey agency NGU attributed the frightening incident "in all probability" to a subterranean landslide. He told that areas of southeastern Norway are subject to similar landslides.
Warmer temperatures this fall and winter, along with heavy rain, have made the ground more unstable, Bargel noted. "The water builds up in loose masses of earth, and that can set off landslides," he said.
"We can see that slides are occurring where we haven't had them before," he said.
Frode Oset, a chief engineer with the Norwegian highway department, claimed Norwegian roads are well-secured, "but we can't guarantee that something like this won't happen in Norway."
He added, though, that he's worked with ground studies for nearly 50 years, and feels secure when he's out driving.
Police searched the area around Munkedal with dogs during the night, in case anyone was buried in the slide. Nearly 30 persons in at least 14 vehicles were caught when the road collapsed under them around 7:15 pm.
Witnesses described the scene as chaotic, and search and rescue efforts were difficult because of darkness. Several motorists were found screaming inside their cars, but none was seriously injured after being pulled out.
The highway is the main artery between Oslo and Gothenburg but remained blocked at Munkedal indefinitely. Police initially opted to redirect southbound traffic via the Finnsbo ferry and Lysekil, and northbound traffic around Sredsvik.
Aftenposten English Web DeskNina Berglund/NTB
from here

Doomed, for reals.

Well, it is hard not to feel super extra double doomed these days. The baiji dolphin is gone. Gone. Douglas Adams wrote about these creatures in his last, heartbreaking book- and I'm serious, even though he was the funniest writer of the late 20th c,Last Chance To See was absolutely heartbreaking.

So, so long and thanks for all the fish.

But that's not it.

The weather is, to put it gently, fucked up beyond all repair. FUBAR. Daisies blooming in Moscow. The highest temperatures recorded in 347 years in the UK for 2006. Severe drought on the Great Plains. It's 52 fucking degrees here today. It's december. My lilacs are leafing out. They'll probably die. Meanwhile, in Lapland, where Santa's village is, "Rovaniemi, a town on the Arctic Circle in northern Finland which is the Lapp capital, is normally covered in deep drifts at this time of the year, with accompanying temperatures going down to -20C." There is no snow there now. The temperatures are above freezing. Bears cannot hibernate, ducks are swimming on open water in Russia. Aspen, Colorado is very excited that they might make more money, because there isn't enough snow in the Alps for skiiers. Oooh, money. Australia is on fire. Long Island's aquifer is tapped. No, you can't have water. Not yours.

Yeah. So, that's where I'm at.

Fuckity fuck fuck, so doomed.

It's all happening so much faster than they thought.

A really interesting, if incredibly disturbing article I was reading yesterday was about the formulae used to calculate the 'cost' of climate change. Apparently, economists and ethicists are (surprise!) in disagreement. The term for the generational decrease in quality of life is " "social rate of time discount," the rate used to compare the well-being of future generations to the well-being of those alive today.

The choice of an appropriate social time discount rate has long been debated. Some very intelligent people have argued that giving future generations less weight than the current generation is "ethically indefensible." Other equally intelligent people have argued that weighting generations equally leads to paradoxical and even nonsensical results."

Nonsensical results, eh?

I'll show you a nonsensical result, you greedy bleeding bastard. Your children, gasping, thirsty, and at war over water, because you failed to understand that your fucking Darwinian imperative (IMPERATIVE YOU SHITHEAD) is to reproduce and defend your young, so that your DNA can move on.

The most nonsensical thing I can think of is animals who kill their young, like sick gerbils or something, eating diseased babies. The Darwinian imperative has always made sense to me, that our driving force to do anything is to procreate and make ourselves immortal in our children. But everyday, breeders are making choices that will kill their children, and everyone else's. Maybe that's why this is happening, maybe somehow there is a rising awareness that we are the cancer, and that we have to be stopped, and it's easier to kill our children than it is to kill ourselves. Maybe that's it.

It's just a shame that we're taking out the dolphins first.

I, for one, welcome our new robotic overlords.

Robots everywhere!!!!!!! Robot robot robot robot.

There's the almost desirable American weeding robot. (Although I'd love to see the garden where they tested that - I bet they lost a lot of nice plants while fine tuning the weed-identification program.)

There's the cute but frighteningly insane Japanese sommelier robot who thinks that reporters taste like proscuitto and go well with a nice chianti. Mmmmmmm, long pig.

There's the extra-super-scary Korean Gun-Toting Sentry robot who has weapons and shoots to kill. Eeep.

There's the even scarier Israeli killer hornet robot. What the fuck? Are they just going to release a swarm in Gaza? How do they train their killer hornet robots to go for Palestinians and not, oh, Israelis? Seriously, this needs further thought. Are the Israelis embedding rfid tags in their citizens or something? Ok, I'm just going to go put on my tinfoil tricorn now.

Now, take in the fact that Cornell has just made a self-repairing/adjusting to injury robot. ( Hardware much? Has anyone in the world seen that movie besides me? And don't talk to me about Terminator 3 or any of that nonsense. Hardware was scary as hell, and Arnold Schwarznegger is a loathsome pain in the ass, environmental initiatives notwithstanding.)

No, seriously, I just hope no one introduces the humans-taste-like-bacon robot to the automated pig slaughter robots. Also, I really really don't want crazy hornet sized killer robots building a hive in my yard. I also really think its a bad idea to, you know, line your freaking borders with armed robots. You know what? Maybe we should stop making so many fucking killer robots. Stick with roombas and maybe weeding robots.

Frakkin' toasters.

So this is how it started.