No more Aussie wines? We're doomed. No, seriously, this is scary stuff. Australian agriculture- heading out?

This is unbelievable. Where the hell are they going to buy food, China? yeah, sad joke, I know, but seriously.... probably, yeah. American farmers are going nuts planting corn to burn up in our cars. Christ what a world we've made. And me too- I should have thought about it, I should have wondered why the 'sunburnt country' was making such good inexpensive wine. Unsustainable irrigation, that's why. Add a major major drought, maybe some general temperature rise, and, well, it's out.

"The Murray-Darling basin in south-eastern Australia yields 40 per cent of the country's agricultural produce. But the two rivers that feed the region are so pitifully low that there will soon be only enough water for drinking supplies. Australia is in the grip of its worst drought on record, the victim of changing weather patterns attributed to global warming and a government that is only just starting to wake up to the severity of the position.

The Prime Minister, John Howard, a hardened climate-change sceptic, delivered dire tidings to the nation's farmers yesterday. Unless there is significant rainfall in the next six to eight weeks, irrigation will be banned in the principal agricultural area. Crops such as rice, cotton and wine grapes will fail, citrus, olive and almond trees will die, along with livestock.

A ban on irrigation, which would remain in place until May next year, spells possible ruin for thousands of farmers, already debt-laden and in despair after six straight years of drought."

More weather modification stuff out of China.

They made it snow! Yup.

"China claimed yesterday to have caused a snowfall for the first time as part of its increasingly ambitious attempts to control the weather.

Officials in the meteorological bureau in Tibet said they had used "rain-seeding" techniques to trigger a snowfall over the city of Nagqu last week.

"This proves it's possible for humans to change the weather on the world's highest plateau," said Yu Zhongshui. The bureau said it had produced just under half an inch of snow at a height of 15,000ft." LINK

The nor'easter acted almost tropical. Not cool. (Heh heh.)

From the ProJo "...out of character for April and bears an uncanny resemblance to a tropical weather system that feeds on a conveyer belt of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico...unusual for this time of year...precipitation circulating around the storm is very reminiscent of a tropical storm."

Bees, headed out. Can you hear me now?

I have posted about bees before, but this is extra grim. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has spread through Europe and is now affecting England.

"...[CCD] has now hit half of all American states. The West Coast is thought to have lost 60 per cent of its commercial bee population, with 70 per cent missing on the East Coast.

CCD has since spread to Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece. And last week John Chapple, one of London's biggest bee-keepers, announced that 23 of his 40 hives have been abruptly abandoned."

A new theory for the losses is that "radiation from mobile phones interferes with bees' navigation systems," but who knows. "No one knows why it is happening. Theories involving mites, pesticides, global warming and GM crops have been proposed, but all have drawbacks."

LINK to Independent article, 15 April 2007

These are other recent posts mentioning "bees"
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 about yet. Poor bees. And I was wondering about the maple syrup!"Business scrambles to cope with weird weatherFrom Maine to California, temperature extremes hit the bottom line...
Make hay while the sun shines- because the bees need you to. And we need bees!
... 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." LINKThis is scary too- apparently, bees don't like GM crops: "Wild Bees Reject Genetical...
Heatwave in Bulgaria.
... e 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." LINKin the last 50 years the domesticated honeybee population”which most fa...
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...
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 sign...
Bees. Without them, we all die. The bees are dying. Yup.
Thanks to B. for sending this link to the Daily Kos's coverage of the awful, unspeakable, horrible things that are happening to the bees, and what that means for us. (Hint: we're all DOOMED.)"Other types of pesticides allow bees to return home, and then die inside the hive. This type of poisoning is...

Weird weather threatens fruit crops in US

"Peaches usually don’t bloom until around April 10, Wooten told NBC affiliate KYTV of Springfield, but because of the freezing weather, “this year, we were in bloom in the middle of March, and that’s just never happened before.” LINK

GM crops cause legal tangle- can cause organic farms to lose certification if cross pollinated.

"Like many organic farmers, one of Jeff Fiorovich's biggest fears is that the apples, pumpkins and other crops he grows in Watsonville one day might be contaminated by genetically engineered varieties from a neighboring farm.

If that happens, "you can't be certified as organic," he said. "It destroys your business."

But if Fiorovich's Crystal Bay Farm was contaminated by wind, birds or people accidentally spreading the altered seeds or pollen, his ability to learn the source and seek legal damages would be severely limited.

City, county and state authorities in California typically are not told the specific locations of genetically manipulated plants.

Only the U.S. Agriculture Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service gathers such data, and it usually does not share it with state officials because farmers say that would compromise their confidential business information." LINK

Climate change leads to twice as many mushrooms

"Climate change could turn the autumnal fungus foray in Britain into a year-round event, say researchers who have recorded changes in fruiting patterns over the past half-century.

In the autumn, the UK mushroom season has doubled in length, from about 33 days in the 1950s, to nearly 75 days now, they say. Fungi are starting to fruit earlier, and finishing later.

And some species are fruiting in both spring and autumn — a unique development in response to rising temperatures, says Alan Gange of Royal Holloway, University of London. Although it has been shown that climate change is making birds nest and flowers bloom earlier, he knows of nothing else that has added a complete extra breeding season to its life cycle." LINK

Rush to produce corn ethanol leading to fertilizer shortages

"A Saskatoon commodity analyst says a large number of farmers planting corn for the ethanol market could put a strain on the fertilizer supply for Prairie farmers this spring.

Larry Weber says farmers are planting record amounts of corn, which has created an unprecedented demand for fertilizer.

That could result in a shortage in Western Canada, he said.

"It's going to be very difficult, if you haven't already purchased fertilizer yet, going forward, to buy fertilizer," Weber said." LINK

Churches urge repentance, ecological responsibility.

"The global environmental crisis has filled spiritual leaders with a bitter awe this Easter, a time for repentance and rebirth, to consider the broken body and the transcendent miracle.
As the sun rose on Good Friday, a stark study spelling out the disastrous repercussions of global warning hit the news wires.

"Certainly, we have a lot to repent for in our treatment of the Earth over the centuries," said the Rev. Larry Hunter of St. Stephen's Episopal Church in Orinda.

"Lent is a time of introspection," said the Rev. Greg Ledbetter of Shell Ridge Community Church, a Baptist congregation in Walnut Creek. "It asks us to make a rigorous assessment. Easter brings the huge implication to be aware of the big picture." LINK

Water management in the west - yeah, this isn't goiong to be good.

At left, a fishing pier at Lake Mead.

"Some $2.5 billion in water projects are planned or under way in four states, the biggest expansion in the West’s quest for water in decades. Among them is a proposed 280-mile pipeline that would direct water to Las Vegas from northern Nevada. A proposed reservoir just north of the California-Mexico border would correct an inefficient water delivery system that allows excess water to pass to Mexico.

In Yuma, Ariz., federal officials have restarted an idled desalination plant, long seen as a white elephant from a bygone era, partly in the hope of purifying salty underground water for neighboring towns.

The scramble for water is driven by the realities of population growth, political pressure and the hard truth that the Colorado River, a 1,400-mile-long silver thread of snowmelt and a lifeline for more than 20 million people in seven states, is providing much less water than it had.

Preparing for worst-case outcomes, the seven states that draw water from the Colorado River — Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico in the upper basin and California, Arizona and Nevada in the lower basin — and the United States Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the river, are considering plans that lay out what to do if the river cannot meet the demand for water, a prospect that some experts predict will occur in about five years.

“What you are hearing about global warming, explosive growth — combine with a real push to set aside extra water for environmental purpose — means you got a perfect situation for a major tug-of-war contest,” said Sid Wilson, the general manager of the Central Arizona Project, which brings Colorado River water to the Phoenix area." LINK

Something good

"Judge Stops Sale of Monsanto’s Genetically Engineered Alfalfa"

"A federal judge revoked the government’s approval of Monsanto’s genetically engineered alfalfa yesterday, ordering a halt to seed sales and banning any planting of the crop after March 30. "

Oh, so water shouldn't be chock-full of drugs?

"Residues of birth control pills, antidepressants, painkillers, shampoos and a host of other compounds are finding their way into the nation’s waterways, and they have public health and environmental officials in a regulatory quandary.

The pharmaceutical and personal care products, or P.P.C.P.’s, are being flushed into the nation’s rivers from sewage treatment plants or leaching into groundwater from septic systems. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, researchers have found these substances, called “emerging contaminants,” almost everywhere they have looked for them." LINK

"The perfect drought" in Southern California.

Scary stuff.

"Nature is pulling a triple whammy on Southern California this year. Whether it's the Sierra, the Southland or the Colorado River Basin, every place that provides water to the region is dry.

The mountain snowpack vital to water imports from Northern California is at the lowest level in nearly two decades. The Los Angeles area has received record low rainfall this winter. And the Colorado River system remains in the grip of one of the worst basin droughts in centuries.

"I have been concerned that we might be putting all the pieces in place to develop a new perfect drought," said UCLA geography professor Glen MacDonald, who has researched drought patterns in California and the Colorado River basin covering the past 1,000 years."

Bees. Without them, we all die. The bees are dying. Yup.

Thanks to B. for sending this link to the Daily Kos's coverage of the awful, unspeakable, horrible things that are happening to the bees, and what that means for us. (Hint: we're all DOOMED.)

"Other types of pesticides allow bees to return home, and then die inside the hive. This type of poisoning is the easiest to diagnose, with a large pile of dead bees in front of a bee hive, usually with their tongues sticking out. "