Fire Earth

Mass die-offs from human impact and planetary response to the assault could occur by early 2016

Archive for February 15th, 2009

Global warming worse than predicted: Surprised?

Posted by feww on February 15, 2009

Our regular readers probably remember Thought for the Day: A 2009 Forecast AND

The most widely used phrase by ‘scientists’ in 2009 : ‘We were completely surprised!’

The first of the ‘surprises’ in 2009 is a BIG one!

Global Warming is occurring at a faster rate than scientists had predicted, according to a climate scientist.

“The consequence of that is we are basically looking now at a future climate that is beyond anything that we’ve considered seriously,” Chris Field, a climate scientist and a  member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, said on saturday.


Smoke billows from an iron and steel plant in Hefei, Anhui province December 9, 2007. All nations must do more to fight climate change, and rich countries must make deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst impacts, a draft proposal at United Nations talks said on Saturday. REUTERS/Jianan Yu (CHINA). Image may be subject to copyright.

Field reported that “the actual trajectory of climate change is more serious” than any previously predicted in the IPCC’s fourth assessment report named “Climate Change 2007.”

“He said recent climate studies suggested the continued warming of the planet from greenhouse gas emissions could touch off large, destructive wildfires in tropical rain forests and melt permafrost in the Arctic tundra, releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gasses that could raise global temperatures even more.” Reuters reported.

“There is a real risk that human-caused climate change will accelerate the release of carbon dioxide from forest and tundra ecosystems, which have been storing a lot of carbon for thousands of years,” Field said.

“We now have data showing that from 2000 to 2007, greenhouse gas emissions increased far more rapidly than we expected, primarily because developing countries, like China and India, saw a huge surge in electric power generation, almost all of it based on coal,” Field added.

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325 words, 1 image, 3 links

Posted in Arctic tundra, Climate Change 2007, greenhouse gas emissions, permafrost, wildfires | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Galeras Erupts Again!

Posted by feww on February 15, 2009

Galeras forceful eruption prompts evacuation

Galeras, a stratovolcano, located near the regional capital city of Pasto in southwest Colombia and close to the border with Ecuador, erupted again on Saturday, prompting the authorities to issue a “red alert” for the area. An evacuation order was issued for about 8,000 people who live in the vicinity of the volcano.


Galeras, seen from the city of Pasto.  Credit: Henry Ernesto Escobar Meneses

The Colombia Institute for Geology and Mines said the blast occurred at about 12:10 UTC Sunday. No fatalities or injuries were reported.

According to the local government  “large amount of ash” was falling on Pasto.

The 4,270-meter volcano has been an active volcano for about a million years and is considered the most active volcano in Colombia. In 1991 it was designated a Decade Volcano due to its proximity to the city of Pasto.


Galeras is seen here from the south on March 17, 1989, with steam clouds pouring from vents on the large central cone near the back headwall of the caldera, whose south rim forms the ridge in the foreground. Major explosive eruptions since the mid Holocene have produced widespread tephra deposits and pyroclastic flows that swept all but the southern flanks.  Photo by Norm Banks (U.S. Geological Survey). Caption: GVP.

On January 14, 1993, during a Decade Volcano conference in Pasto, a group of unfortunate scientists launched an impromptu expedition to the volcano’s crater. Shortly after their arrival, Galeras erupted killing six scientists and three others.

In the 20th century Galeras underwent several episodes of unrest including those in December of 1923, October of 1924, October of 1932, February of 1936, July of 1947, January of 1950, February 1974, February of 1989, January of 1990, January of 1993, March of 2000, June of 2002, July of 2004, November of 2005, October of 2007, and several episodes in 2008 and 2009.

UPDATE: February 20, 2009


Authorities in the south of Colombia are on high alert after the Galeras volcano Friday erupted again. Colombia Reports. Image may be subject to copyright.

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Words: 300; images: 2; links: 2

Posted in Complex volcano, Decade Volcano, ecuador, Holocene, Urcunina | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Circuit Judge OKs Mountain Rape

Posted by feww on February 15, 2009

Virginia Court of Appeals Judge overturns a lower court ruling banning mountaintop removal

In view of reader interest in the issue, the following Reuters article is mirrored here.

U.S. court overturns ban on West Virginia surface mining

Fri Feb 13, 2009
By Steve James

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. Court of Appeals on Friday overturned a lower court ruling that had banned surface, or mountaintop, mining in West Virginia, according to court documents.

The ruling was hailed by the coal mining companies who have turned to mountaintop mining as an economical alternative to traditional underground mines in Appalachia where production is declining.

The environmentalists who brought the original case said they would assess their next legal move, but vowed to fight on against the mining method which basically slices the top off hills and mountains.

Stock in Massey Energy Co which brought the appeal with the U.S. Corps of Engineers, was up 7 percent in late trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

The 4th Circuit judges in Richmond, Virginia, reversed a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Chambers, who had found that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had not fully evaluated the potential environmental damage before approving permits for mountaintop mining for four mines operated by subsidiaries of Massey.

“We reverse and vacate the district court’s opinion and order of March 23, 2007, and vacate the district court’s injunction,” Friday’s opinion said.

It said that under existing regulations, the state of West Virginia has “exclusive jurisdiction over the regulation of surface coal mining and reclamation operations.”

The appeal had been brought by Massey and the West Virginia Coal Association. Surface mines account for about one-third of coal from West Virginia and half of that from Kentucky.

“We’re pleased with the court’s decision,” said Roger Hendriksen, director of investor relations for Massey.

Judge Chambers had originally ruled in favor of a petition filed by a number of groups led by the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. (OVEC)

Basically, OVEC contended that the Corps of Engineers had violated the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. Since then, the Corps has effectively frozen so-called 404 permits for surface mining.

Janet Keating, executive director of OVEC said: “We are deeply disappointed with the court’s decision. We will assess our next step, but obviously we will continue to organize against surface mining.”

In their ruling the appeals judges said basically that the Corps of Engineers had acted within regulations in place. “We cannot say that the Corps’ assessments of stream functions in the challenged permits were arbitrary and capricious.

“It is not our place to dictate how the Corps should go about assessing stream functions and losses,” they said.

Analysts had said if the ruling was upheld, Appalachian coal prices could spike and producers with a significant amount of surface exposure in Appalachia could get hurt.

Several mining companies — Massey, International Coal Group, Alpha Natural Resources and Patriot Coal Corp — would lose production if the ruling went against the miners, the analysts said.

[Note: The interest of mining companies are falsely represented as the interest of miners, despite the environmental and health hazards that plague the mining communities. FEWW]

One analyst Mark Morey, director of power systems strategy for Allstom Co Ltd said investors might hold off until the issue had been definitively resolved.

“Decisions like this are long term, so if you have any uncertainty, that’s still gonna guide what your investment is.

“Does this ‘overturn’ mean they can have a whole new round of capacity? People have been thinking this decision might be held up anyway so they’ve been making decisions for the past two years with this hanging over their heads.”

(Reporting by Steve James; editing by Carol Bishopric)
© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved

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Posted in Appalachia, Clean Water Act, coal mining, National Environmental Policy Act, surface mining | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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