Super-invasive whitefly works with plant viruses to decimate crops.

Xinhua has the coolest news.
"Scientists in China have discovered a rapidly spreading crop pest and a virus have joined forces to enhance both their invasions worldwide.
A variety of the whitefly Bemisia tabaci known as the B biotype is "a super-invasive organism," Shu-Sheng Liu, an entomologist at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, explained Wednesday.
During the past 20 years, the B whitefly has spread rapidly around the world causing hundreds of millions of dollars in crop losses. Outbreaks of the B whitefly have often been followed by pandemics of a group of plant viruses, called begomoviruses, that the whiteflies carry. " LINK

Australia. Crikey, mate.

Queensland "BENDIGO residents should embrace the use of treated sewage in their drinking water taps or risk their city becoming a desert, a leading academic has warned.." LINK

Sydney "...severe droughts nine out of every 10 years, a dramatic rise in the number of bush fires, and freak storm surges which could devastate the coastline... rainfall will fall by 40% by 2070, not only creating a massive water crisis, but producing double the number of bush fires." LINK

Great Barrier Reef "'s fairly clear that this century we would lose the Great Barrier Reef as an ecosystem, I don't think there is too much doubt about that." LINK

Idiocracy Now. 13% of Americans have never heard of global warming.

Ahm prowd tabe anuhmerikan kuz atleest ahnow ahm freee.

"Thirteen percent of Americans have never heard of global warming even though their country is the world's top source of greenhouse gases, a 46-country survey showed on Monday."

Great Barrier Reef- headed out. 20 years, maybe. We live in sad times, dude.

"Australia's Great Barrier Reef could be "functionally extinct" within decades, warns a leaked portion of a major United Nations report on climate change.
It warns warmer, more acidic seas could severely bleach coral in the world-famous reef as early as 2030. " LINK

This warming and acidifying is covered wonderfully in the LA Times MUST READ series, Altered Oceans. Part 5 of the series covers acidification and the impact of that, but the entire series is wonderfully done. Read this if you read nothing else ever.

"A chapter on Australia in the report on global impacts warns that coral bleaching in the Barrier Reef is likely to become an annual occurrence by as early as 2030 due to warmer, more acidic seas.
Bleaching occurs when the plant-like organisms that make up coral die and leave behind the white limestone skeleton of the reef.
The World Heritage site, stretching over more than 345,000 square kilometers (133,000 sq miles) off Australia's northeast coast, will become "functionally extinct", the scientists are quoted as saying. " LINK
additional LINK to another article

Water wars coming.

More early reports about the ICCP report suggest that earlier predictions on water scarcity were underestimations.

"Billions of people will suffer water shortages and the number of hungry will grow by hundreds of millions by 2080 as global temperatures rise, scientists warn in a new report.
The report estimates that between 1.1 billion and 3.2 billion people will be suffering from water scarcity problems by 2080 and between 200 million and 600 million more people will be going hungry. " LINK

Obvious. White House misled public on global warming.

There's a ton of stuff coming out about this now, ahead of the ICCP report.

"...scientists also reported 435 instances of political interference in their work over the past five years." LINK

"The new Democratic chairman of a House panel charged today that the Bush administration tried to mislead the public about climate change "by injecting doubt into the science of global warming and minimizing the potential dangers."" LINK

Ethics of Ethanol. Ethanol = less fossil fuels > good. Ethanol = ramen for the poor > bad.

Wow. These are some interesting numbers- and scary too. It may be an urban legend, but the story of the student who ate ramen for a year and died isn't that improbable- there is nothing good for you in ramen.

"The tortilla-making process, Gálvez said, releases antioxidants and niacin, which allows them to be absorbed by the body, and the membranes on each corn kernel provide important dietary fiber. As a result of eating tortillas, Mexican children have a very low incidence of rickets, a bone disease caused by calcium deficiency that is common in developing countries.

Gálvez said she believes the price increase is already steering Mexicans toward less nutritious foods. The typical Mexican family of four consumes about one kilo -- 2.2 pounds -- of tortillas each day. In some areas of Mexico, the price per kilo has risen from 63 cents a year ago to between $1.36 and $1.81 earlier this month.

With a minimum wage of $4.60 a day, Mexican families with one wage earner have been faced in recent months with the choice of having to spend as much as a third of their income on tortillas -- or eating less or switching to cheaper alternatives.

Many poor Mexicans, Gálvez said, have been substituting cheap instant noodles, which often sell for as little as 27 cents a cup and are loaded with less nutritious starch and sodium. "LINK

Open access farming? What?

Some days I read something that makes me want to howl until the skies fall and shatter.

In this short but dizzying editorial about a subcomittee at Davos adressing African food insecurity, the writer says that Hugh Grant ( the CEO of Monsanto, the super extra evil agricultural company, not the floppy haired charming film star) agreed with the rest of the panel that there were huge issues with ensuring African food security.

"Yes, he said, new crops could help Africa - but only if the world finds a way to get the technology to a continent that cannot pay for it. He pointed to the model of the pharmaceutical industry, which restricted the distribution of HIV retroviral drugs and limited research into malaria, both essential to Africa's needs, on profit grounds.

But what other model is there? The new idea to emerge from the meeting was that the agro-industrial complex needs to let go, not put all its faith and future profits into patents but share skills. The model might be the open-source software industry, which has its big players but does not restrict access or development.

Could Linux be a model for farming? Monsanto might find the transition hard to make. But a world in which all food is produced from seeds owned by a handful of big companies is not one that would be good for Africans, or for anyone else." LINK

Great Scott. Not to sound totally naive here, but when did agricultural patents become so pervasive that people are looking for business models to get around them? Shouldn't food production be, well, always open source? At the farm where I worked, some plants would come with labels warning that propagation was illegal, but these were decorative (and I must say flimsy seeming plants- that Little Wonder campanula died almost immediately every time we had it in) and of course I know about Monsanto's steady war against farmers(including their plan to patent pigs), but I had assumed, apparently naively, that a. Monsanto wouldn't go after the starving- talk about blood from stones, and that b. there were still unpatented crop seeds out there so that food production would not be an illegal act.

I guess I'm making myself sound stupid- I did know that it's illegal to save seeds, I did know that the big agro companies will go after you if you do- I just hoped that they weren't going after desperate and starving peoples for trying to grow food. But after watching big pharma try to charge those same people for retroviral drugs to combat HIV, Hugh Grant must have felt inspired.

And some days, I wish I believed in hell.

Excellent, Smithers.

"Ever since the beginning of time, man has yearned to destroy the sun. I shall do the next best thing: block it out." LINK to Summary of Who Shot Mr. Burns, Part 1
Yeah, it's come to that. They want to block the sun to halt global warming. I kid you not. Once again, the Simpsons were way, way ahead of the curve.
"US answer to global warming: smoke and giant space mirrors
The US government wants the world's scientists to develop technology to block sunlight as a last-ditch way to halt global warming, the Guardian has learned. It says research into techniques such as giant mirrors in space or reflective dust pumped into the atmosphere would be "important insurance" against rising emissions, and has lobbied for such a strategy to be recommended by a major UN report on climate change, the first part of which will be published on Friday." LINK
Smithers: (as Burns reveals his sun-blocking plan) But, sir, every plant in town will die. Owls will deafen us with incessant hooting. The town sun dial will be useless!

More about the China garbage importing industry

This is all much more interesting than I would have thought. The other day, I linked to an article about China cracking down on illegal importing of trash from the UK, and thought "Oh, how horrible, blah blah blah." Well, I think I thought too fast and not enough about it. There's a lot going on with this issue.

The world's largest container ship brought consumer goods from China to Britain at Christmas, it got a lot of press at the time, as a symbol of the decline in Western manufacturing, and the absolutely mad size (a quarter of a mile long) of the boat made it a good, catching story. Not many papers or sites wrote about how when it left the UK, the boat was full again- of UK garbage.

"A combination of the global economy and the boom in recycling in Britain, which last year generated nearly 7 million tonnes of recyclable waste, has created an inter-continental trade worth £460m. Last year, Britain sent more than 200,000 tonnes of plastic to China for recycling, along with 2 million tonnes of used paper or cardboard and large quantities of steel and redundant electrical goods.

It is a market generated by Britain's lack of capacity to cope with its own recycled waste and, more importantly, the thirst of China for "raw" materials, such as used plastic, to feed its booming economy."

This is big business, too- not only are the materials not going into UK landfills, but the Chinese are re-using many of the materials. The issue here is one of regulation- the exported garbage is supposed to be all recycleable, but that is where illegal imports become an issue for China, with unethical people sneaking in unrecyclable trash along with the sorted material ready for re-use.

"Such is the demand from the Far East, a trawl of plastic exchange websites yesterday revealed dozens of China-based companies willing to pay £300 for every tonne of bottles made from PET, the plastic used for water or soft drinks. In Britain, plastic recyclers can barely pay £100 per tonne." LINK

So that sounds good, right? But no, still there's more to think about here.

"According to figures from China's environmental watchdog, the village (Lianjiao) handles more than 200,000 tonnes of plastic a year, a big chunk of it imported illegally. "China strictly bans any imports of waste that cannot be recycled as raw materials or be treated harmlessly in the country," according to the State Environmental Protection Administration (Sepa). " Driven by profits, some dealers collaborate with overseas law breakers and illegally smuggle or import rubbish into China, causing damage to people's health and to the environment.

In Lianjiao, plastic sandwich wrappers from British high-street shops are sprayed with chemicals to remove the food debris and then hosed down, the effluent running into the Pearl river, one of the world's most polluted waterways. A large proportion of the plastic waste - that which is not fit for recycling - is burnt in incinerators or kilns, or melted down in acid baths. The air is filled with heady toxic smoke." LINK

Definitely more than meets the eye going on here.

The great corn rush

I hope against all hope that all this new corn is being grown in a sustainable manner, but I so doubt it. I bet they're fertilizing it (using petroleum byproducts), using pesticides to protect it, I bet it's GM, and I bet it's irrigated. Dust bowl 2030, baby! Humans just don't learn, do we? Already, corn prices are leading to increases in the prices of tortillas in Mexico that poor can't afford. Hey, let's burn food to drive our cars! What, you have a problem with that? Well, we could invade Iran for more oil, or burn food- what do you want?

"“Producing 35 billion gallons of ethanol a year would require putting an additional 129,000 square miles of farmland — an area the size of Kansas and Iowa — into corn production, which is not very likely,” said Philip E. Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust.

Increased demand for corn from ethanol is already straining supplies and pushing prices higher. Corn futures prices recently topped $4 a bushel, the highest price in a decade, raising production costs for livestock producers. The Department of Agriculture earlier this month forecast that by the time this year’s harvest is ready in August, corn in storage will have dwindled to a three-week supply — the lowest level in a decade." LINK

Bush budget cuts closing EPA libraries. Yup- if you can't read it, it can't hurt you. You didn't know that?

I swear, sometimes China seems like a more open society that the US.

"The libraries provide documentation for enforcement cases and help EPA staff track new environmental technologies and the health risks associated with dangerous chemicals. They also are repositories of scientific information that is used to back up the agency's position on new regulations and environmental reports and data that are tapped by everyone from developers to airports, to state and local officials. Their collections include hard-to-find copies of documents on federal Superfund hazardous waste sites, water-quality data and the health of regional ecosystems."
LINK to Washington Post article
The EPA Closes Its Libraries, Destroys Documents Link to Union of Concerned Scientists

Even Osama Bin Laden knows.

The resource wars are here, and will only get worse.
"LONDON (Reuters) - Global warming could exacerbate the world's rich-poor divide and help to radicalize populations and fan terrorism in the countries worst affected, security and climate experts said on Wednesday.

...cited Rwanda and Sudan's Darfur region as two examples where drought and overpopulation, relative to scarce resources, had helped to fuel deadly conflicts.

"You have destroyed nature with your industrial waste and gases more than any other nation in history. Despite this, you refuse to sign the Kyoto agreement so that you can secure the profit of your greedy companies and industries," al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden wrote in a 2002 "letter to the American people."

Paul Rogers, professor of peace studies at Bradford University, said any attempt by countries to build fortress walls to keep out climate change refugees -- what he called the "barbarians at the gate" mentality -- was doomed to fail.

"If you just take the example of Bangladesh, if 60 million of 140 million people could not survive in Bangladesh yet they were kept there, you would have A) gigantic human suffering and B) progressive very deep radicalization -- very, very angry people -- and that is not in anybody's security interest." LINK

Climate change in Finland. Oh, my gosh.

Eeeek. LINK I can't tell you how wrong those photos look. I remember a few years ago it snowed every day from September on, lightly, but constant. They did't bother plowing it, it just thickened, and they added gravel to the latest layers. It was so unreal and so beautiful. They must miss the snow so much. I miss the snow.

Ahhh, fashion. So fun, so fickle, so damaging?

"Disposable" fashion?

Inexpensive, trendy clothing is a huge market, in the US and in Europe. Companies like H&M, Old Navy, Target, and others have recieved lots of positive attention for making high style at low prices available to the masses, there are hidden costs- both environmental and other.Target, for one, is being sued by Williams Sonoma for copyright infringement, with Williams Sonoma accusing "Target Corp. of systematically copying its designs on a range of products, from Christmas stockings to votive candle holders." LINK That is interesting in itself, and, well, it kind of makes a lot of sense. High style at a great price? Yeah, stolen goods bought on the cheap. But anyway, I digress.

Environmentally, the idea of "fast fashion" (think fast food), is disastrous. A Cambridge University report examines the environmental impact of thefast fashion movement, and it is bleak. In order to make the clothes so inexpensive, they are generally less well made, and will not last as long as a well sewn item, and as one shopper says " “If it falls apart, you just toss it away!”

This is a really good article about how some of the big stores in the UK, like Marks and Spencers, are trying to keep up their sales while being eco-conscious and the same time. Delicate balance, but at least they're trying. LINK
And actually, that dress up top is disposable fashion, and environmentally sound- it's made of dissolving polymers!!!! How cool is that?!?!? And not only that, but the flowers on the dress turn into a brief art show when it melts!
"The fabric is knitted from a clear polymer - polyvinyl alcohol - of the kind used in sachets that release detergent in washing machines. The dresses will dissolve and turn into a form that can be recycled as a bottle.
However, they break down so slowly that they can survive a sweaty party.
The dresses are decorated with cleverly designed flowers that slowly give off a dye when they dissolve, making them move around like sea anemones in the huge goldfish bowl."

Illegal garbage imports in China- The government is cracking down.

" BEIJING, Jan. 25 -- Officials at China's top environmental watchdog said they would coordinate with their counterparts in the European Union and customs officials to crack down on waste smuggling into China.
"China strictly bans any imports of waste that cannot be recycled as raw materials or be treated harmlessly in the country," a source at the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) said yesterday in Beijing. " LINK

The proposed gasoline reductions in the State of the Union not impressive

Meteorologist extraordinaire Dr. Jeff Masters responds to the State of The Union in his latest blog entry, and he is not impressed.
"While it is a pleasant change to hear the president acknowledge the reality of the climate change problem and to propose measures that could significantly reduce U.S. consumption of foreign oil, his proposals do virtually nothing to combat global warming.
The consensus among most climate scientists is that emission of greenhouse gases must be radically cut 50-60% globally by 2050 in order to avoid dangerous levels of global warming. The President's business-as-usual plan to allow emissions to increase by 14% over the next decade will make it extremely difficult to achieve that goal, as the U.S. contributes about 25% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions." LINK

Mountain top removal mining to threaten bears, water quality in British Columbia and Montana

The Cline Mining Company in British Columbia is threatening a new mining project that would threaten a recovering population of grizzly bears, migratory trout, and water quality in the Flathead River, a river that runs into Montana, raising objections from environmentalists worldwide, and questions about cross-border pollution issues.
"“This mine, if approved, will impact grizzly-bear recovery in adjacent areas of the U.S. and will impact other sensitive species that we share along the U.S.-Canada border,” Servheen asserted in his comments."
LINK to article about the proposed mine
LINK to petition to British Columbia government to reject the mine proposal

Thanks to the amazing B for the tip!

Amazing article about wine regions and climate change

This article is so worth reading- a great example of how an industry has had to adapt to climate change ahead of political acceptance of the issue. Also, very interesting to read about the wines! Swedish rieslings? German merlot? English chardonnay?

Another fascinating aspect of this article is how with the changing growing regions, the very identity of the wines is being redefined. Is it Burgandy if grown outside of Burgandy?

And last but not least, maybe there's a little schadenfreude to be had out of this article. ""In Napa, it appears that a lot of very rich people may have sunk a lot of money in the wrong place."

Heatwave in Bulgaria.

Yup- sunbathing in January. In Bulgaria.
"A forecast issued today by the Institue of Meteorolgy predicts this week we will be wtinessing one of the warmest winter days on record. Bulgaria together with Greece have been experiencing a mid-winter heatwave since the beginning of January and the freakish weather is starting to take its toll.
The flu has been particularly vicious this year due to the warm and moist weather across the country; bees are looking for flowers and bears are wide awake searching for food." LINK

Spooky freaky weather in Siberia.

This is downright frightening.
"At Shelagontsy, nearly astride the Arctic Circle, a high of 27 degrees was reached. Yet the average high temperature was 38 degrees BELOW ZERO! That makes the daily high 65 degrees above normal! Moreover, the morning low, 3 degrees, was 54 degrees above the average low of -49 degrees. While departure from normal temperatures elsewhere in this vast area was not so extreme, values of 40 and 50 degrees above normal were widespread. Story by Senior Forecaster Jim Andrews " LINK

Desertification swallowing villages in Nigeria

"Ciroma Mohammed is standing on the spot he says was once occupied by his house in north-east Nigeria.
"We lose houses to the desert every year," he says from the village of Bulamadu in Yobe State.
The fine sand is swallowing up houses and roads every year.
Almost all the villagers in this dusty arid region say they have lost homes and farms to the Sahara Desert which is expanding southwards. " LINK

Alpine glaciers gone by 2050

"VIENNA, Austria - Glaciers will all but disappear from the Alps by 2050, scientists warned Monday, basing their bleak outlook on mounting evidence of slow but steady melting of the continental ice sheets.
And 2050 is a conservative estimate, he said: If they keep melting at that rate, most glaciers could vanish by 2037.
"The future looks rather liquid," he said." LINK

The State of the Union will be interesting to see if Bush finally addresses climate change

but meanwhile, evidence is piling up, and the intergovernmental report is shaping up to be a doozie.
"OSLO (Reuters) - A U.N. climate panel will project wrenching disruptions to nature by 2100 in a report next week blaming human use of fossil fuels more clearly than ever for global warming, scientific sources said.
A draft report based on work by 2,500 scientists and due for release on February 2 in Paris, draws on research showing greenhouse gases at their highest levels for 650,000 years, fuelling a warming likely to bring more droughts, floods and rising seas." LINK

Rhode Island now the only NE state not to sign air pollution agreement.

This is a crying shame.
"Massachusetts recently rejoined a regional agreement with seven Northeast states to curb air pollution from energy power plants. The move makes Rhode Island the only state holding out on the agreement.
Newly elected Massachusetts Governor Patrick followed through on a campaign promise Thursday to participate in the country’s first multistate program designed to cut carbon dioxide emissions." LINK

Hah! This is funny, and sad, but funny.

The transit chief in LA drives a Hummer. (Yeah.) This fantastic reporter calls him out on it.

"I just can't get past it, I told de la Vega. A Hummer?

And then I noticed a quote on his wall from Rosa Parks."Every person must live their lives as a model for others."

I read the quote to de la Vega, who clammed up again.

"Should we all drive Hummers?" I asked.


Texas, and why I don't want to share a country with Texas

"As President Bush readies a new plan on global warming, environmentalists say an 18-lane highway going up in Houston speaks volumes about how people in his home state of Texas view the planet.
Between 2003 and 2009, $2.7 billion of state and federal money will have been plowed into expanding 23 miles of Interstate-10 in west Houston to as wide as 18 lanes in some stretches of the city's main east-west road.
"It is a concrete monstrosity," said Jim Blackburn, an environmental lawyer in the Texas city who fought the expansion of "I-10" and lost. "It probably shows as much as anything the philosophy of development here." LINK

More from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change draft

"A draft copy of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, obtained by The Observer, shows the frequency of devastating storms - like the ones that battered Britain last week - will increase dramatically. Sea levels will rise over the century by around half a metre; snow will disappear from all but the highest mountains; deserts will spread; oceans become acidic, leading to the destruction of coral reefs and atolls; and deadly heatwaves will become more prevalent." LINK

Stronger language used to link human activities and climate change

"The main international scientific body assessing causes of climate change is closing in on its strongest statement yet linking emissions from burning fossil fuels to rising global temperatures, according to scientists involved in the process.
In fresh drafts of a summary of its next report, the group, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has said that it is more than 90 percent likely that global warming since 1950 has been driven mainly by the buildup of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases, and that more warming and rising sea levels are on the way." LINK

Oh to be in Alaska, now that spring is here? Maybe.

"Alaska to get British-style temperatures" LINK

Ugly attacks on Dr. Heidi Cullen.

This whole thing is amazing. Reading some of the comments left on her blog make me wish for a hastening of the doom just so these asshats will suffer. The levels of vitriol, misogyny, and ignorance are astounding. Not only does no reputable scientist deserve this level of ill informed public attack, but I have a sneaky suspicion that the comments might be a little less... graphic if she were Harry Cullen, instead of Heidi. This is a fucked up place and time, people. There is serious ugliness out there.

Drudge, that pig, is fanning the flames and cutting off his own nose to spite his face. He always cherry picks his news, obviously, but he usually takes the time to find a reputable source of news. This time he's gone too far, and is making a laughingstock of himself. He has linked to a diatribe by freak Melanie Morgan against Dr. Cullen from WorldNet Daily, a known and mocked almost cartoonish right wing site. Drudge looks like the fool here.

For the record, WorldNet Daily (no surprise here) has the facts wrong, claiming that Dr. Cullen is unqualified for her position, saying that "a bachelor's degree in Near Eastern religions and history from Juniata College. One must indeed have to believe in the mystical to accept anything Ms. Cullen has to say about climatology." LINK to freakishly stupid WorldNetDaily (I do not recommend clicking it but if you want proof of this piggishness, there it is)

The truth is actually that
"Heidi finished her assignment as a postdoctoral research scientist on a NOAA Climate and Global Change Fellowship at the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction in New York, comes to NCAR with expertise in two distinct areas: history and climate variability. She earned a bachelor's degree in Near Eastern religions and history from Juniata College before going to Columbia University for a bachelor's in engineering and operations research and a Ph.D. in climate variability.
Combining her interests, Heidi has studied historic drought and climate variability in the Middle East as well as the application of forecasts to water resource management in the La Plata Basin of South America. Her doctoral research at Columbia focused in part on the dynamics of the North Atlantic Oscillation as well as its impact on freshwater supplies in the Middle East. " LINK

Alcoa and Caterpillar calling for carbon caps!!!! Upside down world, here. But this is very cool. Maybe Shrub will listen to big business.

"In what they described as an "unprecedented alliance," 10 U.S.-based companies and four environmental groups have been working on a strategy over the last year and will present their findings at the National Press Club on Monday morning.

Called the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, the group includes aluminum giant Alcoa, BP America, Caterpillar, DuPont, General Electric, Lehman Brothers as well as four utilities with a big stake in climate policy: Duke Energy, FPL Group, PG&E and PNM Resources. ( is a joint venture of Microsoft and GE's NBC Universal unit.)

Environmental community members are Environmental Defense, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, and the World Resources Institute."

The Ocean Mist and the Joyce in jeopardy, coastal erosion worrying town.

"Business owners and residents along the Matunuck coast have watched the ocean creep closer with each storm. Waves have carved around septic systems and under foundations. South Kingstown lost its wooden boardwalk at the Town Beach.
Local and state coastal officials are bracing for what’s ahead, looking toward precautionary measures that could protect those living and working in the area.
The CRMC is now weighing what steps, if any, should be taken to protect the shoreline behind the Ocean Mist and the Joyce Family Pub. That " LINK

China discourages travel to the South Pole, citing environmental concerns. China?

" "China has not approved any kind of tour to the region because its overriding concern is to protect the fragile Antarctic ecosystem and travelers' safety," an NTA official said. " LINK

fish fish fish fish fish. One third of fish species in Yellow River dead

"Human encroachment, pollution, overfishing and dam-building have killed one third of fish species in the Yellow River, China's second-longest waterway. Its increasingly desperate plight is also threatening economic growth."

UK grocery stores to label food's carbon costs along with calories and nutritional info

This is so cool. Yet another reason to wish to live there. Very civilised place, the UK.
"In the most significant step announced yesterday, Tesco, the UK's biggest retailer, which produces 2m tonnes of carbon a year in the UK, said it would put new labels on every one of the 70,000 products it sells so that shoppers can compare carbon costs in the same way they can compare salt content and calorie counts.
Meanwhile all food products airfreighted into the UK will carry an aeroplane symbol."

Surge in carbon levels raises fears of runaway warming

Is this the feedback that people have been dreading?

"Carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere much faster than scientists expected, raising fears that humankind may have less time to tackle climate change than previously thought.
New figures from dozens of measuring stations across the world reveal that concentrations of CO2, the main greenhouse gas, rose at record levels during 2006 - the fourth year in the last five to show a sharp increase. Experts are puzzled because the spike, which follows decades of more modest annual rises, does not appear to match the pattern of steady increases in human emissions.

At its most far reaching, the finding could indicate that global temperatures are making forests, soils and oceans less able to absorb carbon dioxide - a shift that would make it harder to tackle global warming. Such a shift would worsen even the gloomy predictions of the Stern Review which warned that we had little over a decade to tackle rising emissions to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Prof Cox said that an increase in forest fires, heatwaves across Europe and the Amazon drought of 2005 could have helped to drive up carbon dioxide levels. Such events are predicted to become more frequent with rising global temperatures. He admitted "the jury is still out" on whether the recent spike is evidence of a significant change, although some computer models predict that the Earth will start to absorb less carbon dioxide some time this decade." LINK

Update on coffee grown in wildlife conservation areas

A few days ago I wrote about Indonesians clearing land within protected areas to farm coffee.

"The WWF reported that about 15,000 local farmers worked illegally inside the park, cultivating 45,000 hectares of conserved land to grow more than 19,600 tons of coffee. Their illegal activities had destroyed about 20 percent of the forest.

Seventy percent of the 365,800-hectare Bukit Barisan Selatan national park is located in Lampung, while the rest is in Bengkulu province. It is home to a number of critically endangered species, including populations of approximately 40 Sumatran tigers, 500 Sumatran elephants and between 60 and 85 Sumatran rhinoceroses."

Starbucks denies purchasing the beans, which were grown illegally in a sanctuary for endangered rhinos, tigers, and elephants, while Nestle "regrets" purchasing the beans, but claims they didn't know the origin of the beans. LINK

Heidi Cullen's comments are brewing up a storm.

The Weather Channel's Dr. Heidi Cullen, the host of the excellent show The Climate Code (Sundays, TWC, 5:30 pm with additional showings Saturdays, 5:30, 7:30, and 11:30) has caused a storm of controversy. I was going to write about this earlier, got all tangled up in what I thought about it, and gave up, but since it's developing into a major brouhaha I guess I'll go for it.

Dr. Cullen posted on her blog about a recent interview in which a meteorologist downplayed human impact on the environment, and pointed out that the American Meteorological Society (AMS) has released this statement:
"There is convincing evidence that since the industrial revolution, human activities, resulting in increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases and other trace constituents in the atmosphere, have become a major agent of climate change."

Dr. Cullen then went on to suggest that "If a meteorologist can't speak to the fundamental science of climate change, then maybe the AMS shouldn't give them a Seal of Approval. Clearly, the AMS doesn't agree that global warming can be blamed on cyclical weather patterns. It's like allowing a meteorologist to go on-air and say that hurricanes rotate clockwise and tsunamis are caused by the weather. It's not a political's just an incorrect statement." LINK
(and if one more person gets all smug and says "but in the southern hemisphere..." I will hunt them down and hit them with herrings.)

Now, the Seal of Approval isn't a degree, it's an honorary thing, so it's not that major a thing. But, as one of the most influential and best known climatologists in the US, Dr. Cullen has a pretty big voice, and her suggestion to strip the Seal of Approval from members of the AMS who are climate change deniers has caused a tempest, and not just in a tea pot.

Some people are saying that her comments are calling for censorship of dissenting voices, and that "Battle ye not with monsters, lest ye also become a monster" (Nietzsche) . This is especially big, considering how much has come out about the current White House administration manipulated NOAA scientists and promoted/demoted people based on their willingness to toe the official line (ie. No human impact on climate change/no global warming, etc).

So Dr. Cullen going after the deniers and wanting to discredit them professionally is being compared to the dirty tricks the White House pulled, like having that 24 year old George Deutsch ( a journalism major who dropped out of college to campaign for Shrub) force NASA scientists to add the word 'theory' to every mention of the Big Bang (on religious grounds - intelligent design) and denied reporters access to Dr. James Hansen, perhaps the world's best known environmental scientist.

Well, I don't think so. Go Dr. Cullen. Holocaust deniers are fair game, they get professionally discredited for being willfully ignorant, and climate change deniers are doing the same- only, sad to say, I bet the climate change deniers get better paid.

ETA LINK to Independent article about this ruckus.

ETA Freaking Drudge has linked to some asshat weatherman who is defending the climate change deniers by claiming that "The climate of this planet has been changing since God put the planet here." Wow- sure sold me, buddy. His commenters are equally lovely, and offer such elegant explanations for Dr. Cullen's stand as "I think AlGore gives it to Heidi Cullen up the Ass, and he thinks that is hot shit!" Charming- and so articulate. I am so writing the station to complain, and if anyone else feels like doing the same, here is the LINK to contact ABC Alabama.

Fish even more screwed- 'intersex' fish can't breed.

Oh, the poor freaking fish. They can't even breed anymore.

VIRGINIA "An investigation into the cleanliness of rivers feeding Washington's Potomac River has revealed the presence of sex-changing chemicals. The US Geological Survey (USGS) study followed the discovery of high numbers of intersex fish in the Potomac basin. " LINK

UK "A water-borne chemical is causing oysters to develop into hermaphrodites, which cannot breed, according to British scientists." LINK

UK "A third of male fish in British rivers are in the process of changing sex due to pollution in human sewage, research by the Environment Agency suggests. " LINK

COLORADO "Research conducted at the University of Colorado at Boulder that finds intersex fish in Colorado rivers downstream from wastewater treatment plants." LINK

MEDITERRANEAN "Evidence of a high percentage of intersex in the Mediterranean swordfish " LINK

"BEIJING, Jan. 19 (Xinhuanet) -- Several years ago scientists discovered bisexual fish with legs instead of fins in the Rhine river south of Frankfurt. Now fish in the Potomac River Basin near Washington, D.C. appear to be suffering the same fate for the same reason -- endocrine disrupter compounds." ETA LINK to article from Xinhua about this.

Did you know that fish 'talk' to each other? "Increasingly scientists are discovering unusual mechanisms by which fish make and hear secret whispers, grunts and thumps to attract mates and ward off the enemy." LINK Apparently, seahorses click at each other, butterfly fish 'whisper' to eachother, and pearlfish sound like bongo drums while communicating. I wonder what the gender changing fish say to each other. Oh hell.

Asia monsoon seasons more vulnerable than previously thought

"In a paper published today in the journal Nature, researchers have now found that the climate system in the entire region is tightly linked to water temperatures in the Indian Ocean. This means that as global temperatures rise, Asia will undergo an upheaval in climate patterns, causing chronic droughts in some places and increased flooding in others.

The Indian monsoon cycles are more vulnerable to climate change than previously thought, a new study shows. From eastern Africa to Australia, this may mean drought in some areas and more flooding in others." LINK

This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper

"This is an example of how climate change, and the radical weather effects it unleashes even during the winter, is going to directly affect the food supply," said environmentalist Mike Adams. "The immediate threat of climate change is not that rising oceans will sink cities, but that floods, freezes and droughts will devastate the food supply, leading to mass starvation and a population correction."

LINK to article (about the crop loss in California)

LINK to The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot

Fiercest storm in years pounds northern Europe.


"AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) -- One of the fiercest storms in years battered northern Europe Thursday, killing at least nine people, injuring others and disrupting travel for thousands.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, meanwhile, cut short her visit to Berlin in order to leave for London before winds worsened, landing in Britain's capital amid winds gusting up to 130 kph (80 mph).
The storm -- dubbed "Cyril" by German meteorologists -- was expected to intensify throughout the day.
"Our country has not had a storm like this in years," the Netherlands' Royal Weather Service said in a bulletin. "We advise you to follow weather alarms and messages to the letter."

More on this story
"At least 16 people have been killed as violent storms lashed northern Europe, causing travel chaos across the region.
Britain was the worst hit with eight people killed as rain and gales of up to 70mph (112km/h) swept the country.
Hurricane-force winds battering Germany have claimed at least three lives. The other deaths were reported in the Netherlands and France"

Time for another look at disaster central, Indonesia.

Been a week or so since I've posted anything from there, but not because nothing happened- just because the sheer amount of Indonesian news about various disasters, natural and man made is overwhelming, and I didn't set out to make a blog called Lexacat's Guide To The Doom In Indonesia, did I.

In one of the most mind-bending stories, the mud continues to flow (it's been about a year now) at a site where a mining company drilled right down into what is called a 'mud volcano', setting off epic landslides and mudflows that have killed people and swallowed towns whole. The toxic stew (now mixed right up with mining byproducts- notoriously toxic slagheaps, etc) was headed for the ocean, last time I wrote about it. Biologists, understandably, are worried about what will happen to the ocean's ecosystem when tons of hot, toxic mud pour in, but people really want the mud to stop drowning their villages, and I guess I can see their point to. "Geologists fear the technology may not exist to stop the eruption, saying mud could flow for years or even centuries _ or stop on its own at any time." LINK
Well, anyway, in an update on that nightmare, the nations Welfare minister, a fellow with family ties to the mining company, claims that it was all natural, and that the $425 million in compensation the company has been ordered to pay is wrong, as it wasn't their fault. Right. Fox guarding the freaking henhouse, as usual. LINK

Also, some entrepenerial Indonesians are growing coffee beans in the protected habitats of 3 of the most endangered species in Asia. "Coffee beans exported to the West are being illegally grown inside an Indonesian national park, threatening the habitat of endangered tigers, elephants and rhinos, the WWF said Wednesday.

"If this trend of clearing park land for coffee isn't halted, the rhinos and tigers will be locally extinct in less than a decade," Nazir Foead, WWF-Indonesia's Director of Policy and Corporate Engagement, said in a statement.

"We think even the world's most committed coffee drinkers will find this an unacceptable price to pay for their daily caffeine buzz." LINK

Dolphins dying in the North Sea of malnutrition due to warming waters.

More dolphins. Will the NYT cover this in Travel?
"HARBOUR porpoises are starving to death in the North Sea as a result of rising water temperatures, scientists have revealed.
Climate change has resulted in a dramatic decline in the numbers of sandeels - a major part of the staple diet of the porpoises."

I hate The New York Times with the fire of a thousand suns exploding.

Seriously, right now I'm ready to go get me some heads on pikes. Entitled, selfish, greedy, evil fuckers.
You know how fish are heading out? The warming + acidic oceans > no fish and then > no life on earth? That thing, what with fish being, well, basically gone by 2050? And us too, as without life in the oceans, we all die? That thing? Well, the great Grey Lady, the US fucking paper of note, has deigned to address the issue.
In the Dining and Wine section. I swear to whatever there is to swear to, I think I might start screaming.
A choice quote:
"What chowder eater, nourished on soups rich with many kinds of fish, could listen to the scientists who began to worry in the 1970s about the effects of river damming, pollution and overfishing?"

Wholesale fruit and veggie prices double after Cali freeze

'"Expect retail prices to triple," said Todd Steele, owner of Royal Vista Marketing, a citrus brokerage in Visalia, Calif. The price spike is expected to hit supermarkets in the next two weeks, when the current inventory dwindles.

In the strongest sign that the freeze will hurt consumers, navel orange prices doubled at the wholesale level, with the highest grade, large-sized navels increasing from up to $17 per bushel last week to about $35 Tuesday, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Wholesale prices for other produce have also risen. As recently as Friday, California-grown broccoli was wholesaling for $16 to $18 a carton in Los Angeles, according to the Department of Agriculture. On Tuesday, the same cartons sold for $20 to $24. Iceberg lettuce that sold for $11 to $12.50 on Friday was selling for $16 to $20 a carton Tuesday."

Climate change > collapsing old buildings. Einsturzende altebauten?

Climate change in Norway weakening structures to the point of collapse. "Wetter weather and frequent temperature swings put more wear and tear on the bricks and mortar in old buildings, experts say. They suggest that climate change may have contributed to Sunday's collapse of an Oslo apartment house built in the late 1880s. "
The collapse killed a young woman, an international aid worker, who was to be leaving Oslo soon to work on the West Bank. LINK

EU calls for international agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020

"The European commission yesterday stepped up the EU's campaign to lead the fight against climate change by warning that global warming was so catastrophic that it could trigger regional conflicts, poverty, famine and migration.
Setting out a strategy to combat global warming and improve Europe's energy security at the same time, it said the secondary effects of climate change, such as conflicts elsewhere, would inevitably affect even a less vulnerable Europe.
In the wake of last year's Stern report in the UK, the commission forecast severe impacts on certain ecosystems, with some species and habitats disappearing, and a decline in global food production, with the spread of infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue fever." LINK

Wildebeest migration threatened by drought.

"The migration - which has occurred without interruption for thousands of years - is one of the most extraordinary movements of animals on the planet. Around 1.5 million of these huge creatures trudge across Kenya and Tanzania in a vast 3,000km arc.

In recent years droughts have killed up to half a million migrating wildebeest in east Africa. If these droughts had continued by only a few more weeks, they would have killed off the region's entire wildebeest population. Now scientists fear that another major episode of water loss could trigger so many deaths as to leave no migrating wildebeest in east Africa. 'This is how serious the situation is,' said the WWF's eastern Africa regional office project manager, Doris Ombara." LINK

h5n1- 19th Egyptian human case confirmed

"CAIRO, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- Egypt announced the 19th human bird flu case on Wednesday after a 27-year-old woman from central Egypt was tested positive to the deadly H5N1 virus, the official news agency MENA reported. " LINK

5 Minutes to Midnight - Doomsday clock moves ahead on fears of climate change


"Experts assessing the dangers posed to civilisation have added climate change to the prospect of nuclear annihilation as the greatest threats to humankind.
As a result, the group has moved the minute hand on its famous "Doomsday Clock" two minutes closer to midnight.
In the years ahead, rising sea levels, heat waves, desertification, along with new disease outbreaks and wars over arable land and water, would mean climate change could bring widespread destruction, the board said. " LINK

Copsa Mica, Romania- the most polluted town in Europe.

"Official statistics show life expectancy in the town is nine years shorter than the national average.
...It found the soil contained so much lead that it was 92 times above the permitted level; the vegetation had a lead content 22 times above the permitted level.
"The town is really a dangerous place to live - everything you touch, everything you eat, the air you breathe is serious for your health." " LINK

h5n1 in the news again.

In Japan - "TOKYO, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- The bird flu virus that killed about 3,500 chickens in southwestern Japan last week was determined as the highly contagious and lethal H5N1 strain, Japan's farm ministry said in a statement Tuesday. "

In Thailand - "Laboratory tests have confirmed that four pigeons died after becoming infected with the H5N1 bird flu virus strain, the most virulent one. The four birds were part of a group of wild birds that suddenly died one month ago in the Suphan Buri province, Thailand."

In Vietnam - "Vietnam government issues emergency call to contain bird flu"

In Indonesia - "Concerns grew as four Indonesians died this year after a six-week lull in cases, taking the number of human deaths from bird flu in the country to 61, the highest in the world."

Red tide off China coast

"XIAMEN, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- A red tide has hit the coast of Xiamen, a major city in southeast China's Fujian province, leaving masses of oysters and fish dead and the seas brown and smelly.

The red tide was caused by increasing temperature and recent projects to clear seabed sludge, which may have stirred up fertilizer residues in the seabed and given rise to algal blooms, the newspaper quoted marine experts as saying.

Red tides occur when pollutants such as raw sewage and fertilizers cause algae to bloom, sapping the water of oxygen and endangering marine life. "

Desert shrimps. Huh.

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, right?
LINK to photostory about Nigeria's locust problem- and solution.

Lyme disease spreads to Canada- climate change to blame.

This is awful news. Lyme is such a miserable disease. Sorry, Canada. That really stinks.

"Much of Canada is appropriate tick habitat, and so if there were to be global warming it seems very reasonable that we might see the ticks extend their range into a much larger part of Canada," said Ward.
Lyme disease is already the fastest-growing infectious disease in the U.S., and appeared in Nova Scotia for the first time just two years ago. It can be very painful and difficult to treat." LINK

The last new lands?

Geographers and cartographers are getting some new work. The unexpectedly fast melting of the Greenland ice sheets is revealing new islands- at an astonishing rate. These islands were previously thought to be attached to the mainland, but with the rapid glacial melt, they are being found and named.
"“The general thinking until very recently was that ice sheets don’t react very quickly to climate,” said Martin Truffer, a glaciologist at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. “But that thinking is changing right now, because we’re seeing things that people have thought are impossible.”
...Ominous implications are not lost on Mr. Schmitt, who says he hopes that the island he discovered in Greenland in September will become an international symbol of the effects of climate change. Mr. Schmitt, who speaks Inuit, has provisionally named it Uunartoq Qeqertoq: the warming island."

Climate change affecting Scottish salmon, too.

"For more than 150 years, the start of Scotland's salmon fishing season on the river Tay has been celebrated in the middle of January.
But the apparent impact of climate change on spawning patterns has forced conservationists and anglers to postpone this year's official seasonal opening on sections of the waterway for two weeks.
For the first time in decades, salmon fishing in parts of Perthshire has had to be delayed because the fish, which begin breeding in earnest as soon as the first heavy frost of winter starts to bite, have been thrown into confusion by the mild weather."

Soon there'll be no salmon. I can't face a world without smoked salmon.

Orange juice will be a little more expensive, I guess.

" SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Three nights of freezing temperatures have destroyed up to three-quarters of California's $1 billion citrus crop, according to an estimate issued Monday as forecasters warned the weather could continue.
Other crops, including avocados and strawberries, also have suffered damage in the cold snap, agricultural officials said."

About 1 out of every 300 people in the US lost power in the ice storm. Wow.

Ok, is my math off on this? This is astonishing. The ice storm has knocked out power to

135,000 homes and businesses in New York and New Hampshire
312,000 homes and businesses in Missouri
112,000 homes and businesses in Oklahoma
127,000 homes and businesses in Michigan
686,000 homes and businesses

Assuming (roughly) 2 people per domicile, so roughly 1.2 million people, that's (roughly) 1 out of every 300 Americans who are sitting in the dark right now. That's some kick-ass weather.

Oh damn how sad. Well, we saw that coming. Those confused dolphins at Long Island are dying.

"EAST HAMPTON, N.Y., Jan. 14 — The enchantment with a school of dolphins, feeding and frolicking in the local bays north of here last week, has turned to alarm, after four of them died over the weekend and the others grew increasingly sluggish and showed signs of distress."

GROSS! Warm winter = Rats.

Ok, if you ever get a chance to read Rats, Lice, and History by Hans Zisser, you should, because it's a great read.

Rats are so very very nasty. And warm winters = more rats.

Buffalo, NY is dealing with what is being called an infestation- EWWWW.
"Normally, a long hard freeze in winter kills off at least some of the rat population. But the balmy days of December and January mean communities battling rat infestations in metropolitan Erie County won't be able to rely on the weather for a helping hand. " LINK

For just a few reasons rats are totally utterly horrible and dangerous to humans, check out this list of just a few of the deadly diseases associated with rats. (From the CDC)
Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome
Murine Typhus
Rat-bite fever
Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium
Eosinophilic Meningitis

And let's not forget my personal favorite rat-spread disease, the Bubonic Plague.

Hole opens up in Sao Paulo, Brazil, swallows cars, trucks, people.

Man, Brazil is just falling apart- literally. There was the dam break on Friday, after months of excessive rain, and over the weekend, this vast hole opened in the ground where excavation for a subway was going on. The hole swallowed cars and trucks, and there is a minivan carrying 7 that still has not been found. Ongoing rain is hampering the search. LINK

Strange bedfellows, indeed.

"Evangelicals, scientists join forces to combat global warming" LINK

Make hay while the sun shines- because the bees need you to. And we need bees!

"Changing farming practices have played a major role in the decline of the bumble bee, according to new research. The big drop in haymaking and the rise of silage is driving out the bees, whose numbers have declined by 60 per cent since 1970." LINK

This is scary too- apparently, bees don't like GM crops: "Wild Bees Reject Genetically Engineered Crop--Potential Major Impact on Pollination" LINK

Without bees, we don't eat.
"Bees, via pollination, are responsible for 15 to 30 percent of the food U.S. consumers eat. But in the last 50 years the domesticated honeybee population—which most farmers depend on for pollination—has declined by about 50 percent, scientists say. " LINK

The Ice storm's US death toll at 30 now.

"A state of emergency has been declared and the National Guard called out in Missouri after the storms knocked out power to 200,000 homes." LINK

Ethanol- yay! Rising corn prices leading to people unable to afford food? Not good. Tricky.

"Growing U.S. demand for corn-based ethanol has led the grain to its highest prices in 10 years and pushed up costs south of the border for tortillas, the thin, flat corn patties that accompany almost every Mexican meal.
“If this goes on, there will be shortages,” said Mexico City tortilla vendor Margarita Pineda, by a price chart with a new “10 peso” tag stuck on it. “Those with less money won't eat.” " LINK

Deserts on the move.

"Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

The damn things are moving fast.

NIGER "NIAMEY (AFP) - Niger's President Mamadou Tandja has called for international help to counter growing desertification which has already overrun two-thirds of the vast West African country." LINK

CHINA "GUIYANG, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- Worsening stone desertification is threatening the survival of about 450,000 farmers in southwest China's Guizhou Province, and they are in dire need of being relocated, local authorities have said." LINK

ALGERIA "Going in to 2007, the Sahara will have advanced to within 200 kilometres of the Mediterranean coastline of this North African state." LINK

ARMENIA "Following his own study of climate change and desertification in Armenia, geographer Ashot Khoyetsyan points to logging and other factors in desertification. " LINK

Wow. Just wow.

A Seattle school board has restricted viewings of "An Inconvenient Truth", calling the subject matter 'too controversial'. This decision, naturally, came about after complaints from parents- one of whom, at least, gets my very special desert island invite.

""Condoms don't belong in school, and neither does Al Gore. He's not a schoolteacher," said Frosty Hardison, a parent of seven who doesn't want the film shown at all.

"The information that's being presented is a very cockeyed view of what the truth is," Hardison told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn't in the DVD."


Water shut off to Brazilian cities after mining company dam bursts, polluting rivers, killing fish.

Jeeez. This is a lovely story. Those heavy rains in Brazil that killed over 50 last week have kept up, and now a dam has burst.
"RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil: The collapse of a dam at a mining company dumped an estimated 2 billion liters (530 million gallons) of mud, bauxite and aluminum sulfate into rivers that supply water for some 90,000 people, the government said Thursday.
In Muriae, a city of 85,000 some 200 miles (318 kilometers) northeast of Rio, the polluted water covered houses, killed fish and left a muddy mark 2 meters (7 feet) high on city the walls of city buildings."

25 percent of China's coastal areas are moderately or heavily polluted, according to Xinhua.

The excellent Xinhua continues to surprise me. I really think there must be a new editorial policy going on there. Years I've been going to Xinhua and now- boom- a lot more discussion of the environment. I wonder if the coming Olympics have anything to do with it?

"The report revealed that 149,000 square kilometers of the total sea area in 2006 did not meet the national standard for "clean" water, 10,000 square kilometers more than the previous year.
Fifty-five percent of the water in China's 110,000 square kilometers of coastal areas also failed to be classified as "clean".
The eco-systems in most bays, river mouths and coastal wetlands were described as unhealthy due to 81 percent of drains that carry waste into the sea discharging pollutants that exceed the national standards. Of the 609 drains that were monitored, only 5.6 percent were established in areas specifically designated as pollutant discharge areas."

It's not just critters disappearing.

"12 January 2007 - PANA. Concerned Kenyans have called for the formation of an authority to coordinate efforts by various stakeholders for the preservation of the receding water masses in the country's Rift Valley region, which hosts nine lakes, including the famous Lake Nakuru.Massive destruction of water catchment areas and unplanned settlements in the forests are threatening the region's ecosystem, with environmentalists warning that the water bodies, could disappear within the next 15 years."

Ice storm photos from December's storm

These are phenomenal. Follow the link, and seriously- look at all his pics. They look like another planet! The grasses, especially, are amazing. And how about that windmill!
LINK to incredible photo series

Holy mackerel- the ice storm is epic.

This is a biggie- wow.
330 PM CST FRI JAN 12 2007

"Farther north, there can be some icing from eastern Kansas to Missouri and Illinois, including the city of Kansas City. Sunday into Monday, the threat for frozen precipitation will spread into Chicago, Detroit and Boston. Another story with this overall stormy pattern is the first true plunge of arctic air since the beginning of winter. Temperatures in parts of the northern Plains have dropped by as much as 50 degrees. The temperature in Grand Forks, N.D., reached 24°on Thursday; this morning it has plummeted to -18°. "

"Doomsday Clock" ticking on.

Ok, these guys get the doom. Yikes.
"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The keepers of the "Doomsday Clock" plan to move its hands forward next Wednesday to reflect what they call worsening nuclear and climate threats to the world.

The symbolic clock, maintained by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, currently is set at seven minutes to midnight, with midnight marking global catastrophe.

The group did not say in which direction the hands would move. But in a news release previewing an event next Wednesday, they said the change was based on "worsening nuclear, climate threats" to the world."

Wow, a new kind of frog! Oh, heck, its habitat has been destroyed by climate change. Bye frog!

"NO sooner had Australia's newest frog species been identified than its discoverer warned that the amphibian's existence was threatened by climate change." LINK

Confused dolphins hanging out up by Long Island- warm water blamed.

Wow- now this is messed up. It reminds me of that manatee who was up in Warwick this summer- you know things are off-kilter. Well, these dolphins are apparently enjoying the Hamptons- in January.
"Dolphins have been seen around Long Island before, said William Wise, associate director of Stony Brook University's Marine Sciences Research Center. But such sightings are far from the norm, he said, and more likely to take place in summer."To have this school frolicking in the Peconic Bays in January is most unusual," Wise said."

World cup ski events canceled, moved.

"WENGEN, Switzerland (AP) -- Overnight rain and warm temperatures forced organizers to scrap a World Cup super-combi on Friday.
A lack of snow forced the International Ski Federation to move men's races from Chamonix next week to another french resort Val d' Isere."

Weird weather pounding US economy

I've blogged about a lot of these issues before, but there are some new industries being affected that haven't been talked abou t yet. Poor bees. And I was wondering about the maple syrup!
"Business scrambles to cope with weird weather
From Maine to California, temperature extremes hit the bottom line

Snow-deprived ski reports are already paying a heavy price, and California citrus growers are bracing this weekend for what could be hundreds of millions of dollars in losses from lost crops.
California farmers aren’t the only ones worried about their crops. Unusually warm weather in upstate New York has farmers there worried that apple trees, grape vines and strawberry plants could be confused into thinking spring has arrived early.
In the Catskill mountains, beekeeper Carol Clement’s bees have been buzzing so much she’s afraid their honey stores won't last through winter, so she’s given them some sugar to tide them over. Maple syrup producers are considering putting their taps in weeks earlier than usual to catch sap that doesn’t usually start rising until March."

Frogs- canaries in the coal mine. Heading out. Bye, Frogs.

Amphibians have proved to be some of the most vulnerable creatures to climate change and pollution, and their numbers have dropped precipitously worldwide. Most people know that frogs porous skin allows water pollution to affect them well before state-mandated pollution levels are reached, and most people also know that frogs' eggs are very vulnerable to temperature change. One of the other interesting threats to amphibians is a fungus that can kill them by growing on their skin, and for the first time this fungus has been cound in Japan.

"Frogs and many other amphibians are acutely sensitive to changes in environmental temperature and humidity as they can not maintain a steady internal temperature to the same extent as birds and mammals.
It is believed to be a major cause of the dramatic reduction of the number of amphibians in many parts of the world."

Ice storm moving across US, citrus crops in Cali in danger

"Freezing rain hit Oklahoma on Friday at the start of what forecasters say could be a brutal ice storm.
Millions of people in the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma and eastern Missouri are being warned that conditions will deteriorate Friday afternoon, and the storm could spread as far east as Ohio and New York over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.
"This is a one-in-maybe-15- to 25-year event," CNN severe weather expert Chad Myers said Friday of the forecast freezing rain, sleet and snow. "

"In California’s San Joaquin Valley, growers in the middle of the citrus season are firing up huge fans to circulate warm air in the fields and are planning all-night vigils to monitor the health of nearly $1 billion worth of oranges, tangerines and lemons."

Rising sea temps in Mediterranean will kill fish off

Well, I was looking for news about the Embassy explosion, but I found this article about fish.

“The fish in the Mediterranean, especially the sea bream that we have studied – as they are the most popular type in fish farms – ideally live in temperatures of 18-22C,” said Michailidis.
“Above 26C, fish cannot breath well and do not take in enough oxygen,” he added. “When the temperature rises above 29C their cardiac system does not operate well and there is an increased rate of death.”
Scientists have also identified the increasing amount of carbon dioxide in seawater, which makes it more acidic, as a threat to fish."

Explosion at US Embassy in Athens

12.01 Just heard it on CNN- can't find it online yet.

12.06 OK, that took a ridiculously long time. LINK to reuters article, it really doesn't say much.
"Explosion rips through US embassy
From correspondents in Athens
January 12, 2007 12:00
Article from: Reuters
AN explosion ripped through the US embassy compound in central Athens today, a police source said.
It was not clear what caused the blast inside the building and there was no immediate word on casualties.
Police cordoned off all roads around the embassy.
Police officials at the scene said that whatever caused the explosion damaged the embassy sign outside the mission but there was little other indication of the extent of damage inside. "

Big storm brewing!

We might even see some snow here in Rhody out of this one- well, maybe that's wishcasting, but a lot of the country will get ice and snow!

Chrysler now saying that Jollisaint's "Chicken Little" remarks were "misinterpreted"

The jerk who called environmentally responsible European politicians "Chicken Littles" and "hysterical" has caused Chrysler to release an official statement. They claim that he was "misinterpreted", and that
"We share the concern expressed by many, that global climate could affect future generations. While the science remains uncertain, we support concurrent advances in climate science to ensure fuller understanding of the controversies surrounding this issue and to avoid inappropriate responses by government or the private sector."

Unusual cold threatens California

"California is bracing for a severe cold snap that could see snow at sea level and may threaten $840 million worth of the state's citrus crops. Local government agencies are preparing for the unusually frigid spell by opening "warming centers" for those without heat and patrolling overnight for homeless people who are at risk of hypothermia.

"The temperatures they're projecting are pretty unusual," said Trent Rhorer, director of the San Francisco Department of Human Services. "Maybe three times a year we'll activate a cold weather system for our homeless shelters, but this looks like it's going to be extraordinarily cold. We're stepping up more than we usually do."

Now, this is just strange.

"JEFFERSON ISLAND, La. Lake Peigneur, which drained into a salt mine after an oil rig accident 26 years ago, was bubbling today.

Richard says he saw a white hump in the water about two-thousand feet from shore at 7:15 a-m, but a neighbor told him that earlier, it was "boiling" with two-foot bubbles.

A-G-L Resources Incorporated, which owns natural gas storage caverns beneath the lake, sent out a crew. By the time it arrived -- about 15 minutes later -- all that remained was a line of froth about 300 feet long."

What??? Ok, the first sentence is gibberish to me, but it doesn't sound good, and what is with the natural gas storage caverns under a lake in an oil rig accident prone salt mine? This is mind-blowingly strange. And fills me with doom! Doom. I wouldn't like to live near that cursed thing though. Bubbling lakes are hardly ever good. Sprudelwasser des todes!

Well, I went to the protest/peace rally thing.

Went to the protest rally thing organized in response to shrub's "surge" troop escalation plan. It was ok. I always feel strange at such things. Bored, and kind of naive and sheeplike. Ineffectual and overly hearty, like an idealistic lacrosse captain.
There were about 80 people there, which is pretty good for this kind of thing, especially organized overnight. The only thing is, I think some people just brought whatever signs they had lying around- most were Iraq war related, but there was an "Impeach", a "Vote!" (Vote when? And for who? That was annoying. They were on a different corner than me, though, and I think that was probably good. I was feeling so snarky I might have fought at the peace rally), and some kids had a banner that said "War Stinks", which, well, it was kids so I suppose it's supposed to be cute.
Winter would decide to return today. I put in an hour of sign waving (For the record, my sign just said "No More") and then went to Starbucks. Yeah. I know. But at least I went for an hour. I guess that was good.
Jeez, you know you're over-analysing things when going to a rally makes you feel guilty.

Crikey! That UK storm is a doozie- and now a disabled container ship is lurching towards a gas platform. Not so good, that!

"A 4,500-tonne ship is adrift in the North Sea and heading for a collision with a gas platform.
The vessel, called Vindo, broke down in very poor weather nine miles from the Murdoch gas platform 75 miles off the Lincolnshire coast, near Theddlethorpe St Helen.
The Coastguard said the ship, with nine crew on board and laden with 4,200 tonnes of fertiliser, was drifting towards the rig in a force ten gale."
Yikes! I will update if if crashes into the platform. Scary stuff for the remaining crew.

UPDATE: "Two major collisions by a drifting 4,500-tonne cargo with engine failure and North Sea gas platforms have been narrowly averted.
The Vindo avoided the second rig by 700 yds (630m), the coastguard said. " Wow- sounds like a close call! LINK

Exxon's PR department working overtime.

This is horrendous. Exxon- EXXON! Exxon of the Valdez, Exxon who funded all those sell-out scientists, Exxon, for the love of Pete, is getting all kinds of press for- for what, you ask? For finally admitting that maybe just maybe climate change is being hastened by human activity. Their latest, new green leaf statement reads:

"We recognize that the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere poses risks that may prove significant for society and ecosystems. We believe that these risks justify actions now, but the selection of actions must consider the uncertainties that remain."

Exxon has also said it has stopped funding the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a think tank that questioned the premise that humans are largely responsible for causing global warming by burning fossil fuels with ad campaigns like ""Carbon dioxide: they call it pollution; we call it life."

You want the worst part of this? Ok, hold on to your hats- you're not going to believe this. "Exxon, the world's largest oil company and a longtime skeptic that humans are responsible for global warming, is joining other industries at a series of meetings in Washington and elsewhere to discuss how laws on U.S. carbon control should be written, according to the Wall Street Journal."

That's the fox guarding the henhouse, that's Absolut running AA, that's insane. And it will just go ahead and go on and no one will riot because there's probably something good or okay on the TV and well, rioting takes a lot of effort and anyway, I don't want to get on the government's radar, because they can hold you indefinitely without charges now, so it's better just to keep quiet and mellow. Feel so sick sometimes.

"Exxon Mobil softens its climate-change stance" LINK
"Exxon seen warming to emission controls" LINK

Severe weather in the UK kills1, 6 missing at sea

Bridges are closed, the channel crossing ferries are shut down, 90 mph winds are toppling trees, etc etc.
"The Dartford bridge linking the M25 from Essex to Kent has been closed due to strong winds, police said. The crossing, over the Thames, is one of England's busiest roads.
All sailings by P&O Ferries and SeaFrance to Calais, Norfolkline to Dunkerque and Speedferries to Boulogne have been suspended because of stormy conditions in the Channel.
A spokeswoman for the Port of Dover described the sea as "very rough", with south-westerly winds of storm force 10."

Ice chess pieces in Moscow melt

"The pieces began melting so quickly that some were almost indistinguishable by the time the match finished. "

What good are carbon offsets?

Well, in the face of overwhelming publicity, Tony Blair spun on a dime about his travel-caused pollution and how he planned to deal with it. Now he says he will purchase carbon offsets, to balance out the carbon he used in his holiday travel, which is a good move for him politically, but I just read an interesting article about whether carbon offsets are really valuable. Interesting stuff.
LINK to article "A lot of hot air?Can you really repair the damage caused by flying by paying a few pounds to a carbon offset company? Tony Blair seems to think so - but Dominic Murphy has his doubts "

Avalanche closes Canadian Highway

"Avalanche Closes TransCanada Highway In Rockies
Jan, 09 2007 - 5:50 PM
CALGARY/AM770CHQR - For the second time in a week, a massive avalanche has closed the TransCanada Highway in the rockies.This time, the road is shutdown between Revelstoke and Golden in B.C. because of the snowslide.No word yet, when that stretch will be cleared and re-opened.A long stretch of the No. 1 was closed last week because of bad weather and the avalanche risk."

Wow- Rhode Island near the top of a sad, bad list.

"Nevada had the highest share of its population homeless, about 0.68 percent. It was followed by Rhode Island, Colorado, California and Hawaii." LINK

When the stars threw down their spears, And water'd heaven with their tears, Did He smile His work to see?

What amazing beast will poets write about when the tigers are gone? (And if you say lab-made sphinxs, well, I might cry.)

"Myanmar's military junta is allowing gold mines to pollute the world's largest wild tiger reserve and has promoted development that is destroying ethnic Kachin communities, a report released Wednesday alleged." LINK

"The tiger has lived on earth for almost a million years," said Dr Pellew. "Once its territory stretched from Eastern Turkey to North Korea, from Siberia to Bali.
"Now it is reduced to small and struggling populations in a handful of Asian countries. It remains what it has always been - perhaps the most elegant and revered animal on earth.
"What right do we have to destroy this creature, to eradicate it from the planet?" LINK

The Tiger by Blake

Alaska, again.

Shrub is at it again.

"WASHINGTON - President Bush lifted the drilling ban Tuesday for Alaska's Bristol Bay, clearing the way for the Interior Department to open the fish-rich waters to oil and natural gas development.
Environmentalists have warned against drilling in the bay, which is also a major fishing area for salmon, crab and cod."

Warm winter = longer allergy season, ruined crops, more ticks, disease, etc.

"In Vienna, the national weather service said it would issue daily pollen warnings starting Friday after hazel and alder trees blossomed and were close to releasing choking clouds of dust. Norway's weather service also set up pollen registering gear three months ahead of schedule.

In neighboring Romania, agriculture officials warned that rapeseed, barley and rye crops planted last autumn could be ruined because of weather stress and unusually low rainfall.

Ornithologists said that for the first time in 20 years, wild birds opted not to fly farther south because Romania's Danube River delta hasn't frozen over, and in Hungary, scientists said disease-bearing ticks could multiply out of control if it doesn't get chilly fast."

This is brilliant! The $100 laptop to be offered to the public! With an awesome catch.

Oh Frubjous Day! Calloo! Callay! This is the happiest you might ever see me.
The incredibly cool One Laptop Per Child program is not only up and running, but they've decided to sell the super-cool $100 laptops to the general public, expanding beyond the government-contract only availability that they planned. But here's the super sweet, amazingly awesome catch:
"Customers will have to buy two laptops at once - with the second going to the developing world." LINK

I can't even say how thrilling this initiative is. Read up on it- it's the kind of thing that gives one hope in a hopeless world.
OLPC home
wikipedia on OLPC

Chrysler economist denounces European Green policies, sounds like a real prize.

Is Chrysler still even operating? Does anyone drive one? Jeez. This guy sounds like a real winner. And everyone knows that the most qualified experts on climate change are US auto executives, who have no personal agenda, right? Riiiiighhht.
Ok, this dude just made my desert island list. You know, where you make a list of people to drop off on a deserted island in Tuvalu? Waiting for the water to rise, watching the palms die, getting thirsty.... Oh, yeah. Have a great stay, Mr Jolissant.

"Chrysler's chief economist Van Jolissaint has launched a fierce attack on "quasi-hysterical Europeans" and their "Chicken Little" attitudes to global warming."

Edited to add that:
"Ford, General Motors (GM) and Chrysler have all reported a drop in car sales during 2006 - Ford sales fell 8%, GM dropped 8.7% and Chrysler slid 5%.
Most US carmakers have suffered from the decline in demand for so-called "gas-guzzling" Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and trucks."

Well, my answer is 'no'. "Should we allow the creation of embryos which are animal-human hybrids?"

Yick! This sounds like an absolutely terrible, horrible idea. Someone I know, however, is hoping they make a sphinx, so I guess there are other ways to look at this. All I'm saying is that we as a species are getting creepier every singe day.
"The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is meeting today to decide whether to allow scientists to use animal eggs for the creation of "hybrid" human embryos. By removing the cell nucleus of a cow or rabbit egg and inserting the nucleus of a human skin cell into the empty "shell", it is possible to create a cloned embryo that is 99.5 per cent human and 0.5 per cent animal in terms of its total genetic complement. "

Europe looking to develop low-carbon economy.

With temperatures soaring in the summers, climate change causing unpredictable weather all year over continental Europe, and those sneaky Russians making geopolitical mayhem with their gas and oil contract bullying tactics, the EU is looking toward mandating low-carbon energy sources, including the use of nuclear power.
"20 percent of all EU energy should come from renewable power by 2020 and 10 percent of vehicle fuel from biofuels.
The EU wants to set binding targets for the first time, he said, suggesting a massive boost in low-carbon, homegrown power such as wind and solar energy to cut reliance of imported fossil fuels."

Accuweather's best known meteorologist says winter will come to New England 'with a vengeance', could be like 1978!

Yikes! I wasn't here then, but I've seen photos of the blizzard of '78! Hmm, maybe I'll stock up on bottled water and actually call that chimneysweep!
Joe Bastardi said today:
"Bastardi said that the weather pattern from mid-January through mid-February has a chance to mimic the winters of 1965-66 and 1957-58, each of which ended cold and stormy after a warm start. A worst-case scenario would be if this winter plays out as did the winter of 1977-1978.
Similar to this year, 1977-1978 was a winter with a waning El Nino. After a tepid start, the second half of the winter was noted for its cold and remarkable storminess, including back-to-back-to-back blizzards in the Northeast.
"Those who think that winter 2006-2007 is going to remain mild are in for a shock," said Bastardi. "Winter is likely to come with a vengeance. A week from now, we'll start seeing truly cold air across much of the country, and we expect this change to last."