This is so unspeakably creepy and wrong.

"Chinese scientists said they have succeeded in an experiment to remotely control the flight of a pigeon with electronic technology.

Scientists with the Robot Engineering Technology Research Center of east China's Shandong University of Science and Technology say they implanted micro electrodes in the brain of a pigeon so they can command it to fly right or left or up or down.

The implants stimulated different areas of the pigeon's brain according to signals sent by the scientists via computer, and forced the bird to comply with their commands. " LINK

Wonderful, sad, furious article. Read this.

"...Reality takes time to sink in, but it is happening. Comments such as "in the years to come this issue will dwarf all the others combined. It will become the only issue" and "40 years from now George Bush will not be remembered for Iraq, but will be remembered in near apocalyptic terms. He'll be the denier-in-chief who failed to acknowledge, much less confront, the coming ecological catastrophe" are no longer considered outlandish...

...It is dawning gradually on the Northern countries that anything less than equal rights to the atmosphere will not take the negotiations anywhere. There is a realisation that time is running out fast...

...A 2003 report commissioned by the Pentagon warned that nuclear arms will proliferate as people fight for resources as a result of global warming. "Every time there is a choice between starving and raiding, humans raid." Pointing out that "disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life", it cautioned the Bush administration that climate change could "challenge United States national security in ways that should be considered immediately". "

Great Lakes warming faster than expected. Ta-daa!

"DULUTH, Minn. — For Jay Austin, who has made a career of studying the Great Lakes, the warming climate around Lake Superior is no mystery. But he was surprised to find the waters of the lake itself warming even more rapidly.
Austin, a Duluth professor and a researcher with the University of Minnesota-Duluth's Large Lakes Observatory, has studied decades of data. What he found was water temperatures rising almost twice as fast as air temperatures — more than 4 degrees for the average surface temperature." LINK

Rule Britannia

"LONDON (Reuters) - The British capital set out on Tuesday to become the greenest city in the world with a radical climate action plan to cut carbon emissions by 60 percent within 20 years in the battle against global warming.
The plan aims to slash carbon output by reducing demand and wastage across the whole spectrum from individuals to households, businesses and local governments.
"This will make London the first city in the world to have a really comprehensive plan to cut its carbon emissions," Mark Watts, climate change adviser to London Mayor Ken Livingstone, told Reuters in an interview."LINK

4 dead, 30 injured in hurricane-force sandstorm/train encounter

"BEIJING, China (AP) -- A sandstorm with hurricane-strength wind gusts has derailed a train in China's far west, killing at least four people and injuring another 30, state media says.

The 11-car train had just left a station in Turpan, in the Xinjiang region's east, when it was hit by wind at 2 a.m. Wednesday, the Xinhua News Agency said.

"A strong sandstorm cracked window panes soon after the train left Turpan, and blew some of the cars off the rail when we were trying to plug up the windows," Xinhua quoted passenger Su Chuanyi as saying."

Boom! One man's attempt to control the weather.

Personal hail cannons. Yup. You know this will lead to trouble.

"I believe in WWI or WWII they were seeing them in the war when the Howitzers were shooting up at each other. And when they were shooting there was no hail,” he says.

These days, China's using howitzer-like artillery shells filled with chemicals to seed clouds and make it rain. But John wants to turn destructive hail into a gentle rain with a hail cannon.

"What comes out of the top of this thing? It's a vibrational sonic boom,” he says. "When it hits the clouds it's a little bit of vibration doesn't allow the ice to form.”

John and about four other area farmers have spent over a $1 million on 18 of these cannons collectively when hail insurance got too expensive. " LINK

1.5 million in China threatened by drought.

"BEIJING, China (Reuters) -- Drought in southwestern China is threatening the drinking water supplies of 1.5 million people and authorities are considering seeding clouds to make it rain, state media said on Tuesday.
The problem has been compounded by last summer's heat wave in the densely populated municipality of Chongqing, as water supplies have still not recovered, the Beijing News said.
More than 10 ships that ply the Yangtze River have been stranded by the low water levels, it added." LINK

bees- headed out?

"Colonies are going down. The bees aren't dead in the box or aren't out front," says Jerry Bromenshenk, a bee researcher at the University of Montana. "They've just disappeared. Just vanished."
Bromenshenk is leading a team of bee researchers looking for a cause. He's even listening to hives for signs of distress. Beekeepers in 22 states have reported bees dying in huge numbers. Jeff Pettis of the U.S. Department of Agriculture says parasites and disease have killed bees in the past, but never anything like this." LINK

Busy hurricane season ahead?

""I personally think the chance of a La Nina is uncomfortably high. If El Nino does make a fade we could be in for a very busy year," said Chris Landsea, National Hurricane Center science and operations officer.
On top of that, Atlantic tropical sea-surface temperatures continue to be warmer than the average - another big factor in hurricane formation - and African rainfall patterns are suggesting a busy year. Hurricanes form from monsoon storms spinning off the western African coast.

"I think most people in this business are thinking it's going to be a more active than normal hurricane season, and I think there's a legitimacy to that," said Greg Carbone, a geography associate professor at University of South Carolina who studies climate impacts.

Hurricane season is a span from June through November when tropical cyclones are likely to form in the Atlantic. They are massive, powerful land-falling ocean storms that can threaten people and property for hundreds of miles inland. The storms have formed as early as April and as late as December. " LINK

It's enough to make you sick. I mean, seriously.

"The spread of human disease has become one of the most worrisome subplots in the story of global warming. Incremental temperature changes have begun to redraw the distribution of bacteria, insects and plants, exposing new populations to diseases that they have never seen before.

A report from the World Health Organization estimated that in 2000 about 154,000 deaths around the world could be attributed to disease outbreaks and other conditions sparked by climate change." LINK

Cymru am byth

"This is erosion like we've never seen before. It's very alarming and is causing serious concern in the town.
"Something serious is happening. It's unbelievable." LINK

"The award-winning Millennium Coastal Park in Carmarthenshire, which cost some £30m, is losing huge chunks to the ocean.
A combination of high tides and storms have now seen a major section of the park, about a quarter of a mile long, slip into the Burry Estuary, which is notorious for its strong tides.
The latest incident at the park, which has been a huge tourism success with some 500,000 visitors per year, took place last Monday, when a 400-metre stretch of cycle path near Burry Port was destroyed by waves.
A "freak" 8.4 metre-high tide was blamed, as well as violent waves caused by Atlantic storms."

Fashion continues to face climate change, in very strange ways.

I can't tell you the frisson of wierd joy that tingles up my spine when I run into these fashion/climate change things. It's like tiny lizards.

Fashion writers are on the whole, I believe, out of their pretty minds- it takes a very special person to come up with a sentence like "The glinting metal teeth of an open zip, with connotations of aggression and sex, is the motif of this new age of power dressing."

But even these idiot-sauvants are catching on to the feeling that something, somewhere is just not right.

"Fashion designers are not, on the whole, overtly political. However, they naturally pick up on and channel the mood around them. It may or may not be reading too much into a few frocks to wonder whether it is a coincidence that, at the very moment when the people of Europe and America are rapidly waking up to the momentousness of the crisis facing the planet, fashion is making a decisive switch from pastoral prettiness to a bleak urban-warrior stance. If New York, where fashion week featured several high-profile ethical and environmental events, represented the fashion industry trying to work out how to do something about the potential end of the planet, then Milan, perhaps, represented the industry trying to work out how to dress for it. Which I guess must be a good thing. After all, if we're going to save the planet, we really don't have time for a wardrobe crisis every time a polar ice cap melts, do we? " LINK

Well, I certainly don't. I'll just wear the melting dress. Although, the melting dress was quite pretty- maybe not so chic anymore?

Crumbling Infrastructure! Even crumblier and more deadly!

"GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala - A 330-foot-deep sinkhole killed two teenage siblings when it swallowed about a dozen homes early Friday and forced the evacuation of nearly 1,000 people in a crowded Guatemala City neighborhood.
The pit emitted foul odors, loud noises and tremors, shaking the surrounding ground. A rush of water could be heard from its depths.
Authorities have warned that the sounds coming from the sinkhole augured further possible collapses, and possibly the destruction of more homes. The dwellings around the crater have been evacuated, and police cordoned off a 500-yard security perimeter around the hole."LINK

Maybe it's not a drought. Maybe the recent weather pattern in the Southwest is normal.

In that case, oooops! All the fools out there building golf courses made a big, big mistake.

"The Colorado River Basin is more prone to drought than had been thought, a panel of experts reported yesterday, and as the climate warms and the population in the region grows, pressure on water supplies will become greater." LINK

And that is seriously bad news for the millions of people who have moved out to the Las Vegas area. Now, I'm seriously tempted to just let loose and rip on people who move somewhere so obviously unsuited to habitation- somewhere where you need air conditioning to live, somewhere that cannot sustain unirrigated agriculture (the rule of thumb is 21" of rain a year). But then I think of all the articles I've read about the people who have moved out there or bought homes out there and they're (obviously) not ok people. It's a place for second chances, it's a place where people who have no where else to try because somehow they managed to screw up living in Florida or something. They're ill educated and socioeconomically marginalized, so it would be totally cruel to point out that they've just moved from the frying pan of their previous messed up life to the fire of living in what seems likely to become America's biggest folly- a false mirage in the desert. Who the hell moves to Las Vegas. Jesus.

Well, apparently a lot of people move to freaking Las Vegas. "Nevada's Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, saw water use double from 1985 to 2000."

"The 25 million Americans who rely on the Colorado River for water should expect continued — and even worsening — drought spells and water shortages as rising temperatures and growing populations create a double whammy, experts warned in a new report." LINK

Great Barrier Reef being polluted, too.

"The Great Barrier Reef, already under threat from global warming, is also being affected by pollutants and pesticides from the land carried into the sea by flooded rivers, satellite images show.
Pictures taken this month by Nasa and US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellites indicate that coral is being affected by the run-off at a greater rate than previously thought.
According to Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), they show sediment creating a hazy cloud in the water over the reef, blocking out sunlight and preventing photosynthesis, the process which keeps coral alive.
Arnold Dekker of the CSIRO said: "The run-off from torrential rainfall goes into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon and straight into the ocean at speeds which were not thought to occur before we saw the images."LINK

Where fish live fast and die young

Yup, actual phrase from article. So you know it's a good one.

No, really the article is about government subsidies in the UK going to fishermen/women/people who are plundering the last of the fish in the world.

" "The unregulated catches of these roving bandits are utterly unsustainable.

"The solution is not going into the deep sea but better managing the shallow waters where fish live fast and die young, and ecosystems have a greater potential for resilience," he said."


Great story out of Australia-

"SYDNEY, Australia - Australia will be the world’s first country to ban incandescent lightbulbs in a bid to curb greenhouse gas emissions, with the government saying on Tuesday they would be phased out within three years and replaced by compact fluorescent lighting." LINK

Thanks to the tip from the Amazing B!

Mode pour l'extrémité du monde. (Everything sounds better in French.)

Well, honestly. Someone had to do it.

I mean, do you really want to spend the apocalypse looking like these dudes?
No, no indeed.

Diesel has come to our aid, at least fashionwise, with a lovely new line of global warming wear, tastefully presented in a new advertising campaign. Smart shorts, loose trousers, and cute little safari jackets seem to be the way to go.

Alors, ces filles charment très! Casually strolling through the Piazza San Marco, now colorfully filled with Scarlet Macaws- such an improvement on those dull dreary pigeons! Mais, quels dommages ! quelle horreur ! Malheureusement, the Piazza San Marco is underwater about half the time already.

Other ads from the campaign show a handsome fellow walking his lizard through the jungle park surrounding the Eiffel tower, a pretty missie driving her sleek speedboat away from the island of London, and a thoughtful scholarly fellow reading a book about glaciers (oh, how very), while lounging on the tropical beach by the Rushmore Sea.


But, sir, every plant in town will die. Owls will deafen us with incessant hooting. The town sun dial will be useless!

Yeah, more ideas to block the sun. I love these, you know. The scary thing is that these are actual proposals from serious people. This batch, for example, come to you courtesy of the Technology Review at MIT. Not your usual tinfoil hatters, not some stoners having a eureka moment, but from people who will probably be in positions to implement some of these ideas. So let's see what these mad scientists are dreaming of.

And for fun, I'll toss in a ringer. You guess which one of these suggestions is NOT an actual proposal being looked at to save the world.

A. a really big mirror between the Sun and Earth, manufactured on the moon
B. clouds of trillions of wafer-thin, butterfly-light lenses
C. reflective films laid over the planet's deserts
D. fertilizing the seas with iron to create vast blooms of plants that would then consume tons of carbon dioxide and, as the plants died, drag the carbon into the sea
E. suspension of tiny, harmless particles of diatomaceous earth about 80,000 feet up in the stratosphere
F. wind powered unmanned cloud seeding vessels spraying sea-water droplets continuously over a significant fraction of the world's oceanic surface
G. creating vast cooling systems to preserve glaciers to maintain reflective (albedo) effects

Oh ok, ok. I know that was too easy. You all guessed G. You're right. The vast cooling systems to preserve glaciers are just to keep ski resorts in the Alps going- not to save the world, ha ha ha.

Yeah, I feel a little sick now too.
LINK to MIT Technology review article
LINK to BBC article about the cloud seeding ships
LINK to article mentioning air conditioning glaciers for skiiers.
ps. I use diatomaceous earth as an organic pesticide- never thought NASA would want to pump the skies full of it.

Peak oil, bay-bee. It's only downhill from here.

Well, it looks like we're here. Take a good look around. This is how it feels at the top. Pretty good, eh? Yeah. Well, buckle in, because, sugar, we're going down.

The exceptionally non-alarmist, non-envrionmentally focused, non-entertaining FT has a hell of an interesting article.

They seem to be saying, in startlingly poetic language, that we're at peak oil.

"All the world’s extra oil supply is likely to come from expensive and environmentally damaging unconventional sources within 15 years, according to a detailed study.

“Worse, it takes vast quantities of scarce and valuable potable water and natural gas to turn unusable oil into heavy low-quality oil.”

“In a sense, this exercise is like turning gold into lead,” Mr Simmons said." LINK

Increased ethanol production > major disaster here in the US. What about the rest of the world? Who cares?

Well, I've written about the horrible side effects of increased ethanol production (tortilla crisis)- maybe before we all jump on the bandwagon and invest in corn>fuel technologies, maybe the idea of making food cost more so we can continue living our energy-glutton lifestyles should make us think twice. But so far, it's just been impoverished people in a country we as a nation treat badly anyway. But now- eggs. Chicken. Bacon. Sody-pop.

Food will become more expensive here. Maybe that jolt will be enough for people to start thinking not only how to continue our current lifestyles but how to maybe actually change our daily lives so that we're not the nastiest pigs in the sty.

"The rising food costs fueled by ethanol demand are also affecting U.S. consumers. All things that use corn are going to have higher prices and higher cost. The impact of this is being felt first in animal feed, particularly poultry and pork. Poultry feed is about two-thirds corn; as a result, the cost to produce poultry--both meat and eggs--has already risen about 15 percent due to corn prices, says Tyner. Also expect corn syrup--used in soft drinks--to get more expensive, he says.

The situation will only get worse, says David Pimentel, a professor in the department of entomology at Cornell University. "We have over a hundred different ethanol plants under construction now, so the situation is going to get desperate," he says. Adding to the worries about corn-related food prices is President Bush's ambitious goal, announced in his last State of the Union address, that the United States will produce 35 billion gallons of ethanol by 2017.

Still, some suggest that the overheated ethanol market could soon cool down. "Politicians will see that, first of all, it is not helping our oil independence," says Pimentel. "It is increasing the price of food for people in the U.S., it is costing an enormous sum of money for everyone, and it is contributing to environmental problems. But I can imagine it is going to take another year or more before politicians realize they have a major disaster on their hands."

1,000,000 Chinese to move, because extensive mining is causing the ground to sink. Seriously.

Yikes. Just imagine how much freaking coal is coming out to be burned if they Chinese government has to move 1,000,000 people.

"As the country's largest coal rich province, Shanxi faces the danger of expanded sinking areas, due to long-term and intensified coal mining.

One million people in north China's coal-rich Shanxi Province will move out of the coalmine sinking areas and shanty towns before 2008, said an official with the provincial government."

The dead zones are blowin' in the wind

The dead zones are pretty terrifying harbingers of what all the oceans will look like, and researchers are linking the growth of the dead zones to climate change caused shifts in wind currents.

"The delicate interplay between the oceans and atmosphere is changing with catastrophic consequences."

The changes in wind patterns have affected the timing of a natural shift in the seas between cold, nutrient rich water and warm, worn-out waters. Where this shift, called upwelling, occurs, plankton blooms, and fish come to eat. When upwelling is disrupted in any way, the consequences are catastrophic for the ecosystem.

Off the coast of Oregon, a massive die off "was so severe that the researchers fear that marine life cannot return to the area."


Wordsworth's lakes are dying.

"Be thankful, thou; for, if unholy deeds
Ravage the world, tranquillity is here!"*

Well, not so much. Unholy deeds indeed ravage the world, and tranquility has fled the Lake District. The lakes "are being devastated, mainly by sewage and farming. Some are so badly affected that they are virtually dead.

Mostly they are being fed to death by sewage and - especially - wastes and fertilisers from agriculture. These cause weeds and algae to flourish, soaking up oxygen from the water and suffocating other life. And, partly as a result, they are often plagued by alien, invasive species."

*LINK to Composed by the side of Grasmere Lake, 1806 by William Wordsworth

"Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting." What?

Montana is suing Wyoming again, claiming that Wyoming is using more than it's negotiated share of the water supply from the Tongue and the Powder rivers.

"The lawsuit is a sharp escalation in the water fight between the states.

"Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting," said Montana Attorney General Mike McGrath Thursday in a press conference announcing the suit. "That's where we are with Wyoming on a number of levels." LINK

I have no idea what he's talking about, but if the famously armed and ornery residents of Montana and Wyoming get all liquored up and start some border battle over the Tongue River, I am so there. You know, if I can get some body armor and a book deal.

As unhinged as it sounds, this water/whisky dichotomy reminds me of some lines from one of my all time favorite blues songs.

Oh Lord give me water,
when I'm thirsty,
Give me whiskey,
when I'm dry.
Give me Alberta,
when I need her,
and Heaven when I die.

Anyway, here's more background on the brewing water war between the states. More interstate water based conflicts, coming soon! Keep tuned, to WLGD. Here with what you need to know, before you knew you needed to know it.

20 years > 2 billion people without water

"ROME, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- In less than 20 years, close to two billion people will be without water and two thirds of the world will not have enough water, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned here on Wednesday.
According to the head of FAO's Water, Development and Management Unit, Pasquale Steduto, water use has expanded at twice the rate of population growth over the past 100 years creating conditions of water scarcity.
Water shortages are obviously most acute in the driest areas of the world, which are home to more than 2 billion people and to half of all poor people. "

Interesting article from James Kunstler.

Kunstler, the author of The Long Emergency (Great book about peak oil and US lifestyles) offers a list of 10 ways to prepare oneself for the post-oil era. My favorite suggestion is value-added agriculture- he specifically mentions making wine and cheese, but I've always thought I'd make a good beer. And in a crashed society, people will want beer. Yup- that's my double extra secret plan. Lexacat's Hefeweissen- look for it in your post-apocalyptic pubs!

"Life in the USA will have to become much more local, and virtually all the activities of everyday life will have to be re-scaled. You can state categorically that any enterprise now supersized is likely to fail -- everything from the federal government to big corporations to huge institutions. If you can find a way to do something practical and useful on a smaller scale than it is currently being done, you are likely to have food in your cupboard and people who esteem you. An entire social infrastructure of voluntary associations, co-opted by the narcotic of television, needs to be reconstructed. Local institutions for care of the helpless will have to be organized. Local politics will be much more meaningful as state governments and federal agencies slide into complete impotence. Lots of jobs here for local heroes."


Welsh beaches, some of the world's most beautiful, in danger from rising seas.

I can't even try to be funny about this, as this is making my throat tighten.

"Almost three-quarters of some of the most beautiful and precious stretches of the Welsh coast are threatened by erosion and flooding because of rising sea levels, a study from the National Trust claims today. Fabulous beaches, dune systems, iron age forts, lagoons and seaside villages could all vanish within a century."

Read the full article (LINK) , and here's a link to the full Shifting Shores report (LINK) - but it's in some hellacious layout pdf-ish thing.

Flooding makes thousands refugees. Surprise- not Indonesia!

But in Mozambique. And they have crocodiles!

"Floods in Mozambique have left 68,000 people homeless, and 280,000 more may be forced to evacuate this week, a top official said Monday as refugees crowded into dismal camps to escape the raging waters.

"If we go to the high areas there is drought and the ground is rocky. If we go to the lower Zambezi there are crocodiles. So we prefer to face the crocodiles and floods because our problem is hunger." LINK

More ski resorts suffering, people out of work in California

Bleak. Employment that depends on the seasons has always been iffish, but I bet thtat's just going to get worse.

"Snow-starved June Mountain shut down nearly two weeks ago after a season that lasted all of 23 days. The closure threw 175 seasonal employees out of work and left local businesses desperate to hang on until the fishing crowd jams the streets this summer.Nobody knows whether the cause is global warming or the meteorological glitch of a high-pressure area hanging on, like a deranged houseguest, for months. " LINK

Mmm, those deranged houseguests, just sticking around.

Peru's "White Mountain Range" turning brown- the glaciers are melting.

I wonder if the names of places will have to change soon. I mean, if the "White Mountain Range" is brown, it doesn't make much sense, does it. And here in the US, "Glacier National Park" is starting to sound pretty silly.

"The ice atop Cordillera Blanca, the largest glacier chain in the tropics, is melting fast because of rising temperatures, and peaks are turning brown. The trend is highlighting fears of global warming and, scientists say, is endangering future water supplies to the arid coast where most Peruvians live. " LINK

"There could be no glaciers in Montana’s Glacier National Park by 2050." LINK

Indonesians getting suspicious about their bad luck, turning to the supernatural for explanations.

Well, to be perfectly honest, I don't blame them. This has been a really bad couple of years to be in Indonesia.

"Over the past two years, Indonesia has suffered an encyclopedia of troubles, from the devastating tsunami of December 2004 to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, droughts, bird flu outbreaks, landslides, airline crashes and a vast, bizarre geyser of mud — a constant pounding of catastrophes that has worn down the national psyche and convinced many that something supernatural is going on." LINK

Interestingly, some have decided that it is the president who is cursed.
"“Since the day he took office there have been unending disasters,” said Permadi, a member of Parliament and a mystic, of the president. Like many Indonesians, he uses only one name. Mr. Yudhoyono was born under a bad sign, he said, and nature is demonstrating its anger at him and the nation."

Well, a cursed president might be easier to deal with than the epic, mega-sized infrastructure issues that they have.

"As the economy grows about 6 percent a year, with a proliferation of homes, offices and shopping centers, almost no new roads, bridges, airports, power lines or water systems have been built since the Asian economic crisis a decade ago. More malls, more squatter communities, more hillside villas: all contribute to breakdowns in urban services and to disasters like the flood."

Also, the floods? Have left people dying in their wake. The receding floodwaters have left thousands suffering with diarrhea, dengue fever, and severe respiratory problems. LINK

related posts
Jakarta situation gets even worse- 480,000 refugees
Jakarta under water
Choke a volcano? Are you sure?
Time for another look at disaster central, Indonesia
Goodish news about those displaced Indonesians

The bees are dying. Warning: very sad and scary.

Bees, one of the key factors in sustaining agriculture as we know it, are dying. Colony Collapse Disorder- the bee equivalent of, oh, Boston dying suddenly, is spreading.

"STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - A mysterious illness is killing tens of thousands of honeybee colonies across the country, threatening honey production, the livelihood of beekeepers and possibly crops that need bees for pollination.
Researchers are scrambling to find the cause of the ailment, called Colony Collapse Disorder."

Crumbling Infrastructure!!!

That is one of my all time favorite phrases. But all that aside, here in the US, as I may have mentioned, our civic infrastructure is crumbling, rusting, shifting, and generally causing trouble. Municipal water systems, for the most part installed early in the 20th century, at least in older cities and towns, are beginning to break down. As boring as that sounds, the impact can be quite dramatic. Sinkholes are swallowing cars hole, suspected in dissapearances of children, and generally messing up daily life.

"Local and state officials across the country say thousands of miles of century-old underground water and sewer lines are springing leaks, eroding and — in extreme cases — causing the ground above them to collapse. Though there is no master tally of sinkholes, there is consensus among civil engineers and water experts that things are getting worse.
The Environmental Protection Agency has projected that unless cities invest more to repair and replace their water and sewer systems, nearly half of the water system pipes in the United States will be in poor, very poor or “life elapsed” status by 2020. " LINK

Doomsday Vault

"The final design for a "doomsday" vault that will house seeds from all known varieties of food crops has been unveiled by the Norwegian government.

The vault aims to safeguard the world's agriculture from future catastrophes, such as nuclear war, asteroid strikes and climate change. "

petition time!

Oooh, great find from the amazing K.

"Tell Citigroup and Merrill Lynch to Stop Financing Climate Change!

Citigroup and Merrill Lynch are currently helping TXU, Texas’ largest utility, finance 11 new coal-fired power plants in Texas. Together, these plants will emit 78 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is:

• Equal to the annual emissions of 14 million passenger cars
• More than two-and-a-half times more CO2 than California will prevent with its groundbreaking emissions reduction program for vehicles
• Larger than the emissions of many entire countries, including Denmark, Portugal, and Sweden.

Both Citigroup and Merrill Lynch describe themselves as environmental leaders. Yet, at a time when a growing number of business leaders are taking action to reduce climate change emissions, these two financial giants are helping to build power plants that will help to accelerate climate change."

LINK goes to petition.

Richard Branson offering £10m prize for carbon-capturing invention

But is it a sustainable solution?

"The competition is based on the idea of the $10m X-prize for the first privately-built, reusable aircraft that could fly into "space" - defined as 100km above ground - twice in one week. The X-prize was awarded in 2004.
The irony of basing an environment prize for absorbing carbon dioxide on a prize for releasing the gas in the fastest way possible will not be lost on many environmentalists who want to curb the unnecessary use of fossil fuel rather than relying on untried and unproven technological fixes for global warming." LINK

Europe looking at pollution curbs or autos. Yay!

"The European Commission has proposed forcing carmakers to increase the fuel efficiency of new cars by 18%, by 2012.

It says it is planning legislation to ensure the average car emits no more than 130g of CO2 per kilometre, compared with 162g/km in 2005. " LINK

Naturally, the car industry calls this unfair and arbitrary. Who the heck are we, to think that we should NOT pump the air full of poison? Think of the economy! Won't someone please think of the economy???

300,000 Chinese short of drinking water due to climate change, drought.

"At least 300,000 people in north-west China are short of drinking water because of unseasonably warm weather, which officials link to climate change.

Parts of Shaanxi province face drought after January saw as little as 10% of average rainfall, state media say.

Frozen lakes are melting and trees are blossoming in the capital Beijing as it experiences its warmest winter for 30 years, the China Daily reported." LINK

Jakarta situation gets worse- now 480,000 refugees

The flooding in Jakarta has now driven 480,000 people out of their homes. 480,000. I wish you could do numbers in caps. 480,000.

That's another New Orleans, that's an epic disaster. And there will just be more and more of this to come. It might not be on the news here that much, but these stories will happen more and more.

"Authorities earlier estimated that up to 60 percent of Jakarta was submerged by waters reaching up to 4 meters deep in some places.

The Meteorological and Geophysics Agency has forecast that heavy rains will continue to hit Jakarta in the coming weeks. February is the peak of the rainy season in the country.

Environmentalists blame the frequent flooding in Jakarta on poor urban planning and deforestation of hillside areas to the south of the city. " LINK

UK's 3rd largest grocery to reduce packaging.

This has been fantastic. The always interesting Independent began a publicity campaign to draw attention to wasteful, unecessary, and sometimes even humourously excessive packaging. Readers were encouraged to write in to the paper with examples of the most ridiculous packages, and reporters were dispatched to the largest groceries to ask top management why produce should be wrapped in plastic.
These are a few of my favorite reader stories from the campaign:

"At a supermarket in Edinburgh I saw a turnip that was branded as "grown in Scotland". It was shrink wrapped, and the label said: "packaged in Kent".
Mark Sydenham

Despite many swede fields near by, the Co-op in Aberfoyle offers shrink-wrapped swede, from Tasmania.
Prof Stephen Baron

In Asda, I have seen coconuts shrink-wrapped.
Melissa Gooch" LINK

Well, the campaign is working! The UK's 3rd largest grocery is going to strip produce of packaging in a test store, and based on the results, is considering doing the same at all of it's stores.
"The stores involved in the trial will not be named to protect the experiment. Packaging will be removed from 60 lines of fresh produce, including carrots, broad beans and courgettes. Only produce deemed "fragile", such as raspberries, will remain packed to prevent damage.

A company spokesman said: "The move heralds a return to old-fashioned retailing methods - the first step taken towards the past by any retailer for almost 60 years."" LINK

Ecocity planned in China. Yeah, China.

The US is geting lapped. This sounds phenomenal!

"All the buildings in Dongtan will be self-sufficient in their energy use, with power coming from a combination of wind power, solar power and other renewable sources. All the apartments and houses will be within seven minutes' walk of public transport. Most of the citizens of Dongtan will work within the city and all buildings, made of local materials, will use a combination of traditional and new construction technologies.

This is the biggest single building project in the world, and it's taking place in a country many see as the biggest risk to the planet's green future. The urbanisation process in China is astonishing - there are already 90 cities with more than a million residents, and 400 million people are expected to move from the countryside to cities in the next 30 years.

The project has been given initial approval by the central government in Beijing and the remaining permissions are expected after Chinese new year later this month.
The initial phase will be finished by 2010, when the Expo fair comes to Shanghai, and it is forecast that by 2030 there will be more than 500,000 people living here." LINK

Jakarta under water

Indonesia. Does it ever stop?

"Floods kill 25, displace 340,000 in Indonesia
Water rises to 13 feet in Jakarta; forecasts call for two more weeks of rain " LINK

"Indonesian officials fear an outbreak of disease could take hold amid severe flooding in the capital Jakarta, which has already left 25 people dead.
"We fear that diarrhoea and dysentery may break out, as well as illnesses spread by rats," one official said. " LINK

Another green fuel leading to ecological disaster.

"Rising demand for palm oil in Europe brought about the clearing of huge tracts of Southeast Asian rainforest and the overuse of chemical fertilizer there.

Worse still, the scientists said, space for the expanding palm plantations was often created by draining and burning peatland, which sent huge amounts of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. "

It looks like it's going to take a while to sort all this out.

The worst thing this week.

"Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today.

Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an ExxonMobil-funded thinktank with close links to the Bush administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of a report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

On Monday, another Exxon-funded organisation based in Canada will launch a review in London which casts doubt on the IPCC report."LINK

In related news, "Exxon Mobil Corp. roared past Wall Street expectations and set a new record for the highest profit ever earned by a U.S. company in a single year." LINK

water water everywhere but not a drop to drink

"Fleets of supertankers could one day ply the world's oceans laden not with oil but fresh water.

Maritime experts say shipping water by tanker is one of the least eccentric ideas raised of late to counter acute shortages.

Dragging icebergs from the Arctic, ships hauling enormous bags of fresh water, and cloud seeding -- in which clouds are sprayed with chemicals to induce rain -- have all been aired by water authorities in the past."

Oily, smelly, orange snow. Fantastic!

""So far we cannot explain the snow, which is oily to the touch and has a pronounced rotten smell," said Omsk environmental prosecutor Anton German, quoted by the Russian news agency Itar-Tass on Thursday.

Residents have been advised not to use the snow for household tasks or let animals graze on it." LINK

Well, they're saying "The yellowish-orange snow that fell in West Siberian regions Wednesday contained no toxic substances, and its color was the result of a sandstorm in neighboring Kazakhstan, experts said Friday. " LINK

Choke a volcano? Are you sure?

Hm. This sounds like it could end badly. Really badly.

Geophysicists have a plan to shut off the Indonesian mud volcano- the one caused by the drilling company.

"Indonesian geophysicists hope to stem the flow of a destructive mud volcano on East Java by dropping chains of concrete balls into its mouth."

Well then. That sound like a good idea. Now the volcano will just spit out cannon balls.

tortilla crisis draws 75,000 protesters

"Some 75,000 unionists, farmers and leftists marched to protest price increases in basic foodstuffs like tortillas, a direct challenge to the new president's market-oriented economic policies blamed by some for widening the gulf between rich and poor. "