Fire Earth

Earth is fighting to stay alive. Mass dieoffs, triggered by anthropogenic assault and fallout of planetary defense systems offsetting the impact, could begin anytime!

Archive for October, 2008

Quotes of the Week: On EF, Food, Water, Pollution

Posted by feww on October 30, 2008

The Earth’s natural resources are being depleted at terminal speed!

The United States, Australia, UAE, Kuwait and Denmark have the largest ecological footprints per person

“If our demands on the planet continue to increase at the same rate, by the mid-2030s we would need the equivalent of two planets to maintain our lifestyles. … If humanity has the will, it has the ways to live within the means of the planet, but we must recognize that the ecological credit crunch will require even bolder action than that now being mustered for the financial crisis” ~ James Leape, Director-General of WWF International (Living Planet Report), speaking on the reckless consumption of natural capital which is endangering the world.

Related Links:

Some 37 percent (31.5 million tons) of all fish removed from our oceans each year is used mostly (90%) as feed for livestock and ranched fish.

“If you’re creating protein for humans to consume, does it make sense to take three to five pounds [up to 20 pounds for ranched tuna] of perfectly good food and convert it into only one pound of food?” ~ Ellen Pikitch, executive director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science and a professor at Stony Brook University in New York, One-third of world fish catch used for animal feed

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Drinking water for Lima, Peru, imperiled by mining legacy

“With the rains, there could be filtration on the hillside and cause a disaster that would affect the central highway, a mining facility [with toxic ponds,] a hydroelectric plant, and the tailings would reach the Rimac River, causing a big disaster of contamination.” ~ Antonio Brack, Environment Minister of Peru, speaking on the possibility of the Rimac River, which provides drinking water to the capital, Lima, being contaminated by tailing ponds nearby that contain up to a million metric tons of tailings.

Posted in ecological footprints, Living Planet Report, pollution, Rimac River, water | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Amazing Images: Mandarinfish

Posted by feww on October 29, 2008

As colorful as a butterfly!

Mandarinfish or mandarin dragonet (Synchiropus splendidus) in aquarium-Muséum Liège (Belgium). Credit: Luc Viatour. GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or later.

Native to the Pacific [an area extending from the Ryukyu Islands to northern Australia,] the tiny [6cm long] mandarinfish are reef dwellers, and feed on small crustaceans.

Related Links:

Posted in australia, Climate Change, CO2, coral bleaching, Mandarinfish | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Human Enhanced World Disasters: A Quick Scan

Posted by feww on October 28, 2008

Honduras

Dozens of people have been killed among 270,000 Hondurans who have been affected by severe flooding and landslides caused by heavy rains, and at least 20,000 others have been forced to flee their homes for shelters. Half of those affected are children. UNICEF


17 of the 18 Departments [regions] of Honduras have experienced flooding. Photo Source: BBC. Image may be subject to copyright.

The Permanent Commission for Contingencies (COPECO) has reported

  • 33 deaths were reported a
  • 42,234 persons evacuated
  • 467 houses were destroyed
  • 10,000 homes are flooded or damaged.
  • About 100,000 hectares of crops have been lost.
  • Approximately 50% of the roads are damaged or destroyed.
  • Some 114 out of 298 municipalities are affected.
  • Public health is an area of concerns even though no outbreaks have been reported.
  • PAHO/WHO reports that 14 potable water systems are damaged.
  • Currently no severe food security issues, but the next production will be affected.

The main health concerns are gastrointestinal diseases and acute respiratory infections. Primary needs include portable latrines, water purification and household hygiene kits.

Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Belize

Up to 100,000 people have also been affected by the flooding in the neighboring Central American countries of Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Belize.

Haiti and Cuba

Two of the countries most impacted by the devastating 2008 hurricane season so far effects on are Haiti and Cuba. Widespread crop damage due to the numerous storms has aggravated the effects of the global food crisis, raising concerns about nutrition for children and pregnant/breastfeeding mothers. UNICEF

Kenya

As the drought worsens due to the generally poor long rains this year food security deteriorates in kenya. The worst affected areas include Turkana, Mandera, Samburu, Baringo, Marsabit, Wajir, Moyale and Garissa districts. Also affected are the districts of Isiolo, Laikipia, Ijara, Taita Taveta, Kitui, Mwingi, Makueni, Mbeere, Malindi, Kilifi, Kwale, and Tana River districts. Source: Office of the President

DR Congo

Tens of thousands of civilians are fleeing from the areas of Tongo, Kalengera, Kabiza and Rumangabo, in the North Kivu province (east Democratic Republic of Congo), where new fighting broke out Friday between the Congolese military and rebels of the renegade pro-Rwandan general Laurent Nkunda. Source: (MISNA)

Bangladesh

Several people have been killed, and dozens injured as tropical storm Rashmi struck southern Bangladesh damaging thousands of homes, uprooting trees and destroying vast areas of croplands. Further details of certain damage to coastal areas are not yet available.

Cyclone Sidr destroyed the coastal areas last November, killing up to 3,500 and displacing about two million people. (Reuters)

Pakistan

More than 15 per cent of the children, living in the camps set up by the government for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) of Bajaur tribal region, are suffering from malnutrition. (source: DG Newspapers)

Meanwhile, a strong magnitude 6.4 earthquake centered about 60 km (35 miles) NNE of Quetta, Pakistan, 640 km (400 miles) WSW of the capital, Islamabad, struck at 04:09:58 am local time, on October 29, 2008, killing at least 135 people, injuring hundreds more, making about 15,000 homeless.

PAKISTAN-QUAKE/
Earthquake victims dig through rubble after an earthquake in Ziarat, Baluchistan province, in this video grab taken October 29, 2008. Photo: REUTERS/Express TV via Reuters TV (PAKISTAN). NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. PAKISTAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN PAKISTAN. Image may be subject to copyright.

Posted in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, DR Congo, TS Rashmi, Ziarat earthquake | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Image of the Day: Landslide in Honduras

Posted by feww on October 26, 2008

Honduras: Torrential rain, landslides and flooding kills dozens of people


A motel damaged by a landslide is seen in the outskirts of Tegucigalpa October 23, 2008. At least 25 people have been killed and thousands evacuated in Honduras after days of torrential rain, landslides and flooding, rescue workers said on Thursday. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido (HONDURAS). Image may be subject to copyright. See Fair Use Notice.

Related Image Gallery:

Posted in Climate Change, flooding, Human-enhanced-natural-disasters | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Pesticides may damage human brain

Posted by feww on October 25, 2008

Pesticides may damage brain growth in fetuses, infants and children

Many pesticides including organophosphates, carbamates, pyrethroids, ethylenebisdithiocarbamates, and chlorophenoxy herbicides may cause neurodevelopmental toxicity: European study

An Excerpt from:

Neurotoxicity of pesticides: a brief review

By Costa LG, Giordano G, Guizzetti M, Vitalone A.
Dept. of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98105, USA. lgcosta@u.washington.edu

  • Pesticides are substances widely used to to protect crops against unwanted pests such as insects, weeds, fungi and rodents.
  • Pesticides are not highly selective, and are also toxic to nontarget species, including humans.
  • Many pesticides cause neurotoxicity.
  • Insecticides, which kill insects by targeting their nervous system, have neurotoxic effect in mammals as well. This family of chemicals comprises the
    • organophosphates,
    • carbamates,
    • pyrethroids,
    • organochlorines
    • other compounds.
  • Insecticides interfere with chemical neurotransmission or ion channels, and usually cause reversible neurotoxic effects, that could be lethal.
  • Some herbicides and fungicides have also been shown to possess neurotoxic properties.
  • The effects of pesticides on the nervous system may involve, or may contribute to
    • acute toxicity, as in case of most insecticides,
    • chronic neurodegenerative disorders, most notably Parkinson’s disease.

This brief review highlights some of the main neurotoxic pesticides, their effects, and mechanisms of action. [Modified for ease of reading: FEWW]


Section of neural tissue, showing three Lewy Bodies; protein inclusions characteristic of Parkinson’s Disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. (Source)

Potential developmental neurotoxicity of pesticides used in Europe [and elsewhere in the world].

A report by: Bjorling-Poulsen M, Raun Andersen H, Grandjean P.

Current requirements for safety testing do not include developmental neurotoxicity. The authors therefore undertook a systematic evaluation of published evidence on neurotoxicity of pesticides in current use, with specific emphasis on risks during early development. This report is based on a review of about 200 scientific reports worldwide about the pesticides and brain.

  • Many pesticides that target the nervous system of insect pests may also be neurotoxic to humans because of the similarity in brain biochemistry.
  • Developing brain may be particularly vulnerable to adverse effects of neurotoxic pesticides.
  • Laboratory experimental studies using model compounds suggest that many pesticides currently used in Europe can cause neurodevelopmental toxicity. These include
    • organophosphates,
    • carbamates,
    • pyrethroids,
    • ethylenebisdithiocarbamates, and
    • chlorophenoxy herbicides.
  • Adverse effects on brain development can be severe and irreversible, therefore, prevention should therefore be a public health priority.
  • The occurrence of residues in food and other types of human exposures should be prevented with regard to the pesticide groups that are known to be neurotoxic.
  • For other substances, given their widespread use and the unique vulnerability of the developing brain, the general lack of data on developmental neurotoxicity calls for investment in targeted research.
  • While awaiting more definite evidence, existing uncertainties should be evaluated in regard to the need for precautionary action to protect brain development. [Abstract modified for ease of reading: FEWW]

Related Links:

Posted in acute toxicity, developing brain, ion channels, organochlorines, Parkinson's disease | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

SoCal’s Godfather Brush Fire!

Posted by msrb on October 24, 2008

submitted by a reader

Sepulveda Pass brush fire closed 405 Freeway for several hours

400 firefighters and nine water-dropping helicopters took 8 hrs to extinguish 100-acre Sepulveda Pass brush fire

Sepulveda Pass brush fire was the mother of all brush fires of late. It  must have been. It took 32 firefighter-hours to extinguish each acre [one acre is about 4,047 m².] In other words, it took each firefighter an average of one hour to extinguish an area measuring about 11.25 x 11.25 meters (12.3 x 12.3 yards, or 1,361 ft²), about 7.7 full-size car spaces (20′ x 8′ parallel parking, one-way aisle – Off-Street Parking Design Standards, San Jose, California).

And of course nine water-dropping helicopters from the city and Los Angeles County helped douse the flames with their massive loads.

How long will a tumbleweed take to burn out?


A helicopter drops water as drivers make their way over the Sepulveda Pass on the 405 Freeway. An early-morning brush fire temporarily closed the interstate. Photo: Gus Ruelas/Associated Press. Image may be subject to copyright. See Fair Use Notice.

Sepulveda Pass brush fire was also a very intelligent fire! It started at about 12.50 am trying to catch the  brave firefighters off guard. The fire started west of Interstate 405 in Los Angeles and crept toward the Getty Museum, a college, a cultural center as well as some of the most expensive homes in SoCal.

This was a fire to capture the attention of the well-heeled, grabbing their private parts so that their hearts and minds would follow, softening the attitude of anyone [without a wild imagination ] who might have doubted the seriousness and prevalence of California fires. This was a fire with a message for the wealthy elite [who didn’t strike it rich through the fire industry] and lawmakers alike: No amount of money, not even a zillion dollars, is too much to pay to fight the flames.

Can you imagine, god forbid, the Getty Museum going up in smoke because there wasn’t enough money to fight the flames?

Call it Sepulveda Pass brush fire, if you must, but this brush fire was no ordinary fire. It had blood from the severed head of Khartoum splashed all over it!

An excerpt from Brush Fire Burns 100 Acres near The Getty Center

Date: Thursday, October 23, 2008 at 12:51 AM,

  • 69 Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters,
  • 7 LAFD Rescue Ambulances,
  • 1 Heavy Rescue, 4 Arson Units,
  • 3 Rehab Units,
  • 8 Helicopters,
  • 7 EMS Battalion Captains,
  • 16 Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams,
  • 2 Division Chief Officer Command Teams,
  • LAFD Dozers, [unspecified numbers]
  • Water Tenders, [unspecified numbers]
  • Mobile Command Post,
  • 2 CERT Team Coordinators,

and companies from

  • Los Angeles County,
  • Orange County and
  • State Office of Emergency Services Fire Departments

all under the direction of Assistant Chief Craig Fry responded to a Major Emergency Brush Fire at the South Bound 405 Freeway near Getty Center Dr. in Bel Air.

Related Links:

Posted in brush fire, Fire Service, I 405, Khartoum blood, Sepulveda Pass | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

4.5 times more NF3 in atmosphere than thought

Posted by feww on October 24, 2008

Scripps News Release
Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Potent Greenhouse Gas More Prevalent in Atmosphere than Previously Thought

NF3, a greenhouse gas used in manufacture of computer displays, flat panel televisions, microcircuits, solar panels is 17,000 times more powerful at warming the atmosphere than carbon dioxide

Scripps Institution of Oceanography/UC San Diego

Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), a powerful greenhouse gas, is about 4.5 times more prevalent in the atmosphere than previously thought, say researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

[A 3-d Space-filling model of nitrogen trifluoride. ]

Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), a potent greenhouse gas used in the plasma etching of silicon wafers, has a global warming potential (GWP) 17,000 times greater than CO2 over a 100 year period, and with an estimated atmospheric lifetime of about 750 years.

Atmospheric measurements of nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) were made using new analytical techniques by a team at Scripps shows that the amount of the gas in the atmosphere in 2008 was about 5,400 metric tons, 4.5 times higher than previously thought,  and was increasing at about 11 percent per year.

Geochemistry professor Ray Weiss who lead the research team said: “Accurately measuring small amounts of NF3 in air has proven to be a very difficult experimental problem, and we are very pleased to have succeeded in this effort.”

The research will be published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) on October 31.

Previously, emissions of NF3 were considered too low to be a significant contributor to global warming and were therefore omitted from the Kyoto Protocol, the agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions signed by 182 countries in 1997.

Environmental Impact of NF3 Gas at Current levels

  • NF3 is about 17,000 times more effective a global warming agent than an equivalent mass of CO2.
  • Persists five times longer in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
  • [Fortunately] Contributes only about 0.04 percent [at its current application levels] to the overall global warming caused by the anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions.

Nitrogen trifluoride has been the industries’ preferred alternative to perfluorocarbons, also potent greenhouse gases, as it was thought industrial applications broke down about 98 percent of the NF3 and only about 2 percent of the gas escaped into the atmosphere.  (Source)

Related Links:

Posted in Climate Change, CO2 Emissions, Global Warming, Kyoto Protocol, Scripps, SF6 | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Two jailed for toxic waste dumping in Ivory Coast

Posted by feww on October 23, 2008

Trafigura, Dutch-based international oil trader, escapes punishment for toxic poisoning

Two men were jailed for 20 and five years over the dumping of toxic waste in Ivory Coast that killed 17 people and sickened thousands more in 2006.

The two were found guilty of distributing the waste from a ship chartered by the Dutch-based international oil trader, Trafigura, at open sites across Abidjan, Ivory Coasts’s largest city and its banking and commercial center.

Trafigura was exempted from legal proceedings as they had already agreed to a $200 million out-of-court compensation settlement with the Ivory Coast authorities.

“Defense lawyers in the Abidjan hearings had repeatedly complained that it was unfair for their clients to be in the dock when executives from Trafigura were not on trial.” Reuters said.


Poor inhabitants of Abidjan laundering clothes in the river. Image: Ferdinand Reusat Source: http://flickr.com/photos/72092071@N00/807867553. Licensed under the terms of the cc-by-sa-2.0.

In 2006, thousands of Abidjan residents required hospital treatment for breathing difficulties, diarrhoea and vomiting after exposure to noxious fumes from the deadly cargo of the Panamanian-registered Probo Koala. Read more…

Posted in Abidjan, compensation, environment, poverty, Western Africa | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Volcano Watch No. 42

Posted by terres on October 23, 2008

15 – 21 October 2008

New Activity/Unrest:

Ongoing Activity:

This page is updated on Wednesdays, please see the GVP Home Page for news of the latest significant activity.

Posted in Akan, Batu Tara, Karymsky, Kīlauea, Popocatépetl | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Imported Food Alert 22 Oct 2008

Posted by feww on October 22, 2008

This information comes from:

New Zealand Health Alert Bulletin # 22. E.coli found in NZ milk, and listeria in yogurt products

for more details go to:

NZ Visitor Warning: E.coli detected in milk, listeria in yogurt

The E. coli strain serotype O157:H7 can cause serious food poisoning in humans.


Low-temperature electron micrograph of a cluster of E. coli bacteria, magnified 10,000 times. Each individual bacterium is oblong shaped. Photo by Eric Erbe, digital colorization by Christopher Pooley, both of USDA, ARS, EMU.

Listeria monocytogenes


Source: Bacterial Meningitis. Image may be subject to copyright.

“Group B Streptococcus, Escherichia coli, and Listeria monocytogenes are the most common causes of meningitis in neonatals. In the United States, about 17,500 cases of bacterial meningitis are reported annually.”

Related Links:

Posted in Bacterial Meningitis, contaminated milk, food safety, new zealand, yogurt products | Tagged: , , , , | 9 Comments »

‘Safe’ Pesticides: Worst in Poisonings

Posted by feww on October 21, 2008

Safe’ pesticides kill faster!

Pyrethrins and pyrethroids, the main ingredients of thousands “safe” pesticides, were responsible for at least  26 percent of all fatal, “major,” and “moderate” episodes filed with the EPA in 2007, a new report by the Center for Public Integrity said.

Key Findings:

  • The number of reported human health problems, including severe reactions, attributed to pyrethrins and pyrethroids rose by about 300 percent since 2000, according to previously unreleased EPA data.
  • Pyrethrins and pyrethroids based pesticides cause more human harm than all other classes of pesticides.


Credit: The Center for Public Integrity. Image may be subject to copyright.

“Two-and-a-half-year-old Amber Nickol McKeown had head lice. Her mother, Eileen, put the child in a warm bath and massaged Osco Lice Treatment Shampoo into her scalp. Problem solved.”

Soon amber’s chest turned red and bathing her in cool water didn’t help. Little Amber’s condition deteriorated rapidly as she struggled to breathe. “Her eyes rolled back in her head, and her skin peeled off in clumps, according to a lawsuit filed by the family.”

Amber was dead within 72 hours of her bath. Click here for full report.

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Posted in Amber Nickol McKeown, EPA, Osco Lice Treatment Shampoo, Pesticide Poisonings, Pesticide Regulation | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Toddler virus in China kills three in new outbreak

Posted by feww on October 20, 2008

Three children die in China’s second outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease

At least three children have died in eastern China from hand, foot and mouth disease in the country’s second outbreak of the deadly toddler virus this year, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Monday.

The three victims were aged below one and came from Jian’ou City. Health officials reported another 113 cases since beginning  of October and warned that the disease was epidemic in parts of coastal Fujian province, Xinhua said.

The first outbreak of the virus in southern China killed at least 40 people in April and May, and sickened more than 27,000 others, mostly toddlers.


Hand, foot and mouth disease notice posted at a children’s hospital in Beijing. (PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images). Image maybe subject to copyright

“Hand, foot and mouth disease is a common childhood illness, but the outbreaks in China have been linked with enterovirus 71 (EV71), which can cause a severe form of the disease characterized by high fever, paralysis and meningitis.” Reuters reported.

Enteroviruses usually spread through contact with the carriers infected blisters or feces.

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Posted in childhood illness, enterovirus 71, EV71, health, meningitis | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Hubble Wobbles into Trouble

Posted by edro on October 20, 2008

Hubble, Hubble, Double Trouble!


A team of NASA engineers and scientists, who have now suspended the reactivation of the orbiting observatory after experiencing a new malfunction,  had been trying to remotely boot up the space telescope’s back-up computer system after its primary data formatter, which sends data to Earth, failed in September.  Photo:  NASA/ESA

The Trouble with Hubble

Hubble’s Control Unit/Science Data Formatter (CU/SDF) failed last month and stopped transmitting data back to Earth.

NASA remotely booted up the space telescope’s back-up data system last week trying to have Hubble back in full science mode. Although the instrument reconfiguration “proceeded nominally,” NASA reported, they were unable to reactivate the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) because “an anomaly occurred during the last steps of the commanding to the Advanced Camera for Surveys”.

NASA has now suspended the reactivation of the Hubble space telescope as a team of about 50 engineers and scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland investigate the “anomalies” found with its back-up computer system.

Among Hubble’s achievements:

Cat’s Eye Nebula, NGC 6543


Observations suggest the star ejected its mass in a series of pulses at 1,500-year intervals. These convulsions created dust shells, each of which contain as much mass as all of the planets in our solar system combined (still only one percent of the Sun’s mass). These concentric shells make a layered, onion-skin structure around the dying star. The view from Hubble is like seeing an onion cut in half, where each skin layer is discernible.  Credit:
NASA, ESA, HEIC, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Hubble Ultra Deep Field, HUDF


This view of nearly 10,000 galaxies is the deepest visible-light image of the cosmos. Called the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, this galaxy-studded view represents a “deep” core sample of the universe, cutting across billions of light-years. The image required 800 exposures taken over the course of 400 Hubble orbits around Earth. The total amount of exposure time was 11.3 days, taken between Sept. 24, 2003 and Jan. 16, 2004. Credit: NASA, ESA, S. Beckwith (STScI) and the HUDF Team.

Posted in Cat's Eye Nebula, NGC 6543 | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

From the Depth of a Black Hole

Posted by feww on October 20, 2008

Image of the Day: Trust me, I’m a banker!


Former Lehman Chief Executive Richard Fuld testifies at a hearing held by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Capitol Hill in Washington in this October 6, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/Files. Image may be subject to copyright.

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Posted in Corporate greed, Nobel prize for economics, Public Interest, the bankers, Wall Street | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Remove mountaintops; fill valleys; kill streams!

Posted by feww on October 19, 2008

Press release

Bush Admin Seeks to Lock Down Destructive Mountaintop Removal Mining Rule

Coalfield residents face continued destruction of their communities and natural resources

October 17, 2008

Washington, DC — The Bush administration is announcing today plans to finalize a major environmental rule change before the end of its term. This afternoon, the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) will release its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that recommends effectively repealing one of the key programs at issue in the ongoing battle over the controversial coal mining practice known as mountaintop removal.

The specific regulation the OSM is proposing to overturn is the Stream Buffer Zone rule, a Reagan-era restriction on surface coal mining activities that protects a 100-foot corridor around flowing streams in order to preserve water quality. The new rule, which is expected to be finalized in 30 days, will allow coal companies to dump massive waste piles called “valley fills” directly into streams, permanently burying them. Already, more than 2000 miles of Appalachian streams have been buried or degraded by waste from mountaintop removal mining.


Mountaintop removal/valley fill mining operations in southern West Virginia have already flattened more than 300,800 acres of what used to be one of the most productive and biologically-diverse temperate hardwood forests on Earth. The coal industry prefers to call it “mountaintop mining” to try and soften the brutal reality. Some conservation groups have taken to calling the practice “mountain range removal” because that in effect is what it really is – more than 460 square miles [800 sq miles as of 2008] of West Virginia are now low rolling semi-grassy mounds, planted largely with non-native species and incapable of supporting much more life than a shopping mall parking lot (without the shoppers).  Caption: Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. Photo by Vivian Stockman, Oct. 19, 2003. Image may be subject to copyright.

Mountaintop removal coal mining — the most environmentally damaging form of coal strip mining — has received increased national attention in recent weeks as both Presidential candidates have expressed opposition to the practice.

Statement by Joan Mulhern, Earthjustice senior legislative counsel:

“The final EIS is a sham. The agency did not even study, among available alternatives, the option of enforcing the stream buffer rule that has been on the books since 1983. Instead, they pretend that the existing stream buffer law does not apply to valley fills and sludge impoundments, so any minutely incremental effort to ‘minimize’ those waste dumps is, in their version of this, a net benefit to the environment. Of course this is completely backwards.

“They claim their rule is better for the environment when the exact opposite is true. What they are calling a treat is nothing other than a trick.

“This latest move is the capstone to the devastating legacy the Bush administration has left to the communities in Appalachia and to all Americans who care about our nation’s mountains and streams. In just 8 years this administration has allowed coal companies to obliterate mountain ranges that have existed for millennia. Today they are announcing plans to accelerate that destruction into the future and spread it nationwide.” Copyright Earthjustice

Contact:

Joan Mulhern, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500

Related Links:

Posted in Appalachian streams, sludge impoundments, Stream Buffer Zone, valley fills, waste dumps | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Another large quake strikes NZ

Posted by feww on October 19, 2008

Global Earthquake Watch

Large earthquake strikes 20 km north of Rotorua, New Zealand

Quake Details (from GNS Science)

Date and Time:  October 18, 2008 at 23:13UTC
Coordinates: 38.00°S, 176.24°E
Depth:  200 km
Magnitude (Richter scale):  5.6
Region:  Rotorua
Location :

  • 20 km north of Rotorua
  • 180 km south-east of Auckland

Isoseismal Map


Map: GeoNet. Image may be subject to copyright.
Note: This quake has not been confirmed by USGS Earthquake Hazards Program.

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Posted in Australia plate, Kermadec microplate, Mt Ruapehu, North Island, Pacific Plate | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

China Food Import Alert

Posted by feww on October 18, 2008

Tainted beans from China sicken three in Japan

Frozen green imports had high level of insecticide

(Kyodo News) An extremely high concentration of insecticide has been detected in frozen green beans imported from China, causing a woman in the Tokyo suburb of Hachioji and two other people in Chiba Prefecture to fall ill, reports said Wednesday.

The 56-year-old woman bought the beans Saturday and ate some of them Sunday, the Hachioji health department said. She started vomiting from the foul taste and smell and later experienced numbness in her mouth and more nausea.

The city of Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, said later Wednesday that two people experienced numbness of the tongue after eating beans from a package with the same lot number as the one in the Hachioji case. Police seized the remaining beans from the Kashiwa incident and were conducting checks.

The Hachioji health department said it detected 6,900 parts per million of the organophosphate insecticide dichlorvos in the beans, which is 34,500 times the government standard for imports.


A bag of green beans similar to the one that contained an extremely high level of insecticide dichlorvos. Photo:  Tokyo Metropolitan Government handout.

At that concentration, which the ministry said is nearly equal to an undiluted solution of the insecticide, eating just 0.07 gram of the beans could be enough to trigger acute symptoms in a 60-kg person, it said.

The beans were manufactured by Yantai Beihai Foodstuff Co. in Shandong Province and imported by Tokyo-based Nichirei Foods Inc. for sale under the Ingen brand.

Prime Minister Taro Aso told reporters Wednesday that Tokyo will ask Beijing to work to improve the safety of exported food products from China. “(Food) products from China have caused problems in many places (for about a year),” he said.

This is not Yantai Beihai’s first tainted product. The ministry said it also detected unacceptable levels of the insecticide chlorpyrifos in another frozen bean product made by the company in 2002 that was exported to Japan. Although the concentration was 0.15 ppm, a level that shouldn’t cause immediate health problems in humans, the product had to be destroyed, it said.

A total of 265 tons of the frozen green beans have been imported in the past year. The government is warning consumers not to eat them and asking distributors to halt sales of the product until it can confirm what made the consumers sick. Quarantine offices nationwide have been ordered to halt import procedures for all food products from the Chinese company.

Frozen “gyoza” (dumplings) from China tainted with the agrochemical methamidophos sickened three families earlier this year in Chiba and Hyogo prefectures. It was later revealed that gyoza made by the same Chinese firm, containing the same pesticide, caused a food poisoning outbreak in China over the summer that Beijing authorities initially urged Japan not to report. Copyright Kyodo News

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has revealed that high concentrations of dichlorvos have been detected in foods imported from China on 14 different occasions since 2000. The contaminated products included  matsutake mushrooms, nonglutinous rice, vegetables, corn, frozen strawberries, dumplings and and herbal medicines.

Posted in frozen strawberries, methamidophos, Nichirei Foods Inc, Shandong Province, Yantai Beihai Foodstuff Co | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Stolen Forests

Posted by feww on October 18, 2008

Inside the covert war on illegal logging

by Raffi Khatchadourian


Timber in the train station at Suifenhe, China. The country is now the world’s largest importer of logs and exporter of finished wood products. Photograph by Lu Guang. Source: The New Yorker. Image may b e subject to copyright.

The town of Suifenhe, a former Russian imperial outpost on the Trans-Siberian Railway, has belonged to China since the nineteen-forties, and occupies a broad valley in northern Manchuria. From a distance, its homes and factories appear to cling to a rail yard, with tracks fanning out into a vast latticework of iron as they emerge from the Russian border. Suifenhe is a place of singular purpose. Nearly every train from Russia brings in just one commodity: wood—oak, ash, linden, and other high-value species. There is also poplar, aspen, and larch, and occasionally great trunks of Korean pine, a species that was logged by the Soviets until there was almost none left to cut down. In a year, more than five billion pounds of wood cross over from Primorski Krai, the neighboring province in the Russian Far East. Hundreds of railcars enter Suifenhe every day, many loaded beyond capacity with logs. The wood is shuttled between mills by hand, often six men to a log. Other workers, many of whom are migrants from elsewhere in China, operate cranes to empty the rail carriages, and at sundown they bring the machinery to rest, with beams pointing upward, like arms outstretched, waiting for the rush of timber that will arrive the following day. More…

Posted in Ash, aspen, linden, oak, Trans-Siberian Railway | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Palin Fails to Block Beluga Whale Protection

Posted by feww on October 18, 2008

“The [beluga whale] population is critically endangered.” —Craig Matkin of the North Gulf Oceanic Society

“… we believe that this endangered listing is premature.”—Sarah Palin, the high priestess of ethics, family values, energy and politics [sic.]

“We just aren’t sure that an endangered listing, and all the legal requirements it brings with it, is necessary to assure the health of this population at this time.” —Denby Lloyd, The Alaska Department of Fish and Game commissioner

Much to the annoyance of Gov Sarah [lipstick] Palin and her gang, beluga whales in Alaska was listed as endangered species. Having pressed “for a few years to get more population counts,” Palin called the listing “premature.”

“Hopefully the State of Alaska will now work toward protecting the beluga rather than, as with the polar bear, denying the science and suing to overturn the listing,” said Brendan Cummings, the oceans program director for the Center for Biological Diversity.


A beluga whale kisses a 4 yo boy, despite being held in captivity. Photo: Getty Images. Source: SMH. Image may be subject to copyright.

The population fell from about 650 in 1994 to a low of about 280 in 2005, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said.

NOAA says that beluga Whales in the Cook Inlet risk extinction and need strict protections under the Endangered Species Act.


Lower Cook Inlet region in south central Alaska. Credit: Alaska Volcano Observatory.

“In spite of protections already in place, Cook Inlet beluga whales are not recovering,” said James Balsinger at  NOAA’s Fisheries Service.

“The science was clear — and it has been for a very long time,” said marine mammal scientist Craig Matkin of the North Gulf Oceanic Society. “The population is critically endangered.”

“The State of Alaska has had serious concerns about the low population of belugas in Cook Inlet for many years,”  Palin said after the NOAA decision. “However, we believe that this endangered listing is premature.” [Really?]

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game commissioner, Denby Lloyd, admitted that they had urged NOAA to delay the listing “for a few years to get more population counts.”

“Of course, whenever you have a population of marine mammals that is this low, it is a cause for serious concern … We just aren’t sure that an endangered listing, and all the legal requirements it brings with it, is necessary to assure the health of this population at this time.” Lloyd said.

[Note: There won’t be a next time after the population is extinct!]


Beluga Whale. Photo credit: NOAA. The critically endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale population is one of the five distinct populations off Alaska, the only ones in U.S. waters.

“Various industry groups have also fought the listing, which they fear will hamper Cook Inlet oil and gas development, cargo shipping, commercial fishing and major construction projects. Reuters reported.

Conservation groups filed a petition some 9 years ago [March 1999] to list the beluga as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

Posted in Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Cook Inlet, corporate interest, endangered listing, NOAA's Fisheries Service | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Fish liver oil supplement scam!

Posted by feww on October 17, 2008

Another fish liver oil supplement scam, but it isn’t from China!

New Zealand fish liver oil supplement contained only 10 percent of eicosapentaenoic acid stated on label

NZPA- A consumer watchdog in Hong Kong says more than 40 percent of the fish oils or fish liver oils tested there contained less fatty acids than claimed on the labels, and that a New Zealand product was one of the worst performers.

A New Zealand fish liver oil supplement, Kiwi House Arctic South-J, contained only 29.6 milligrams of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) per capsule instead of the 240mg claimed on its label, the Consumer Council told the Hong Kong Standard.

It said of the overall 28 samples tested, eight contained a level of Omega 3 fatty acid, and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), lower than claimed and four samples had less EPA .

And a Nature’s Fruit Alaska Deep Sea Fish Oil from the United States contained 71 percent less DHA than on its label: 26mg per capsule instead of 90mg. That sample also contained the highest amount of trans fat of 40.6mg per capsule.

The tests also found 12 samples to have been contaminated with pesticide DDT though the level was within safety standards.

Copyright NZPA – source: http://nz.news.yahoo.com/a/-/top-stories/5086571

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Posted in DDT, DHA, Omega 3, Pregnant Women, Tainted fish oil | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Guess what, the Arctic temps are 5 ºC warmer!

Posted by feww on October 17, 2008

Who’s Afraid of the Heating Arctic?

Arctic fall temperatures are at a record 5 ºC above normal

Fall temperatures in the Arctic are a record 5 ºC warmer than the average as less sunlight is reflected because of the major loss of sea ice  allowing  more solar heating of the ocean to occur, NOAA reported. Winter and springtime temperatures remain relatively warm over the entire Arctic, in contrast to the 20th century and consistent with an emerging global warming influence.

The Arctic-wide warming trend that began about 4 decades ago continues, with 2007 recorded as the warmest year ever for the Arctic.


Arctic-wide annual averaged surface air temperature anomalies (60°–90°N) based on land stations north of 60°N relative to the 1961–90 mean.

As more more of the ice cover was lost during the the 2005 to 2007 melt season, the ocean absorbed more heat from solar radiation which resulted in the ice freeze-up occurring later than usual.  Surface air temperature (SAT) remained high into the following autumns, with warm anomalies above an unprecedented +5 °C during October and November across the central Arctic. Report summary.


Near surface air temperature anomaly map for October and November for recent years with a reduced sea ice cover, 2005–2007. Data are from the NCEP – NCAR reanalysis through the NOAA /Earth Systems Research Laboratory, generated online CDC/NOAA.

“Changes in the Arctic show a domino effect from multiple causes more clearly than in other regions,” said James Overland, an oceanographer at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle and one of the authors of the report, Atmosphere.

“It’s a sensitive system and often reflects changes in relatively fast and dramatic ways.”


Ice breaks away from a frozen coastline near the Norwegian Arctic town of Longyearbyen April 23, 2007, an earlier than usual spring thaw. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir (NORWAY). Image may be subject to copyright.

Hell hath no fury like a planet with little autumn ice!

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See Also:

Posted in atmosphere, Climate Change, heating ocean, sea ice cover, solar heating of the ocean | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Toilet hands!

Posted by feww on October 15, 2008

14 October: The UN Hand-Washing Day

Millions around the world washed their hands with soap to mark the inaugural Global Hand Washing Day celebrations. Washing hands with water is simply not enough. Washing hands with soap, especially before preparing food and after using the toilet, can potentially save the lives of almost 3.5 million children every year who die from diarrhea and pneumonia. UNICEF


Global Hand Washing Day in Timor-Leste. Private industry and the public sector have joined together to establish the first-ever Global Hand Washing Day, raising awareness to the risk of disease this simple act can prevent. Location: Dili, Timor-Leste. Date: 14 October 2008. Photo # 201397 – UN Photo/Martine Perret. Image may be subject to copyright.

Toilet hands

Meanwhile, researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine swabbed over 400 commuters at bus and train stations in  five major UK cities, and discovered that more than one in four had bacteria from feces on their hands. The results were as follows:

Newcastle – men 53%, women 30%
Liverpool – men 36%, women 31%
Birmingham – men 21%, women 26%
Cardiff – men 15%, women 29%
London – men 6%, women 21%

Dr Val Curtis, director of the Hygiene Center at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “We were flabbergasted by the finding that so many people had fecal bugs on their hands.

“The figures were far higher than we had anticipated, and suggest that there is a real problem with people washing their hands in the UK.

“If any of these people had been suffering from a diarrhea disease, the potential for it to be passed around would be greatly increased by their failure to wash their hands after going to the toilet.”

Professor Mike Catchpole, director of the Health Protection Agency’s Center for Infections, said: “These results are startling and should be enough to make anyone reach for the soap.

“It is well known that hand washing is one of the most important ways of controlling the spread of infections, especially those that cause diarrhea and vomiting, colds and flu.

“People should always wash their hands after using the toilet, before eating or handling food, and after handling animals. And remember to cover all cuts and scratches with a waterproof dressing.”

Cases of norovirus – the winter vomiting bug – are rising in the UK, the HPA said. About a million people in the UK are affected by the bug each year.

“Norovirus is the most common cause of gastrointestinal disease in the UK with peak activity in terms of numbers of cases and outbreaks during the winter months, from October to March.” BBC reported.

Professor Catchpole said: “Norovirus is highly infectious and easily spread in settings where people are in close contact with one another so good hygiene, including frequent handwashing, is really important.”

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Posted in diarrhea, fecal bacteria, norovirus, UK, winter vomiting bug | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

The H*ll with PayPal

Posted by feww on October 15, 2008

Enough is Enough! NO PayPal!

Time to Stop the Ripoff Merchants!

The moderators are collecting information about customer abuses by PayPal and would like to hear from users with horror stories.  All messages will be treated in strictest confidence, unless you specifically ask for your comment to be published for public viewing.

The following is from paypalwarning.com [Not affiliated with FEWW]

Top 3 PayPal Questions

1. Can PayPal hold my money with no explanation?  
The answer is YES.

2. Can PayPal freeze my account for no reason?  
The answer is YES.

3. Can PayPal take money out of my account without my knowledge?  The answer is YES.

For a selection of PayPall horror stories see: PayPal Warning http://www.paypalwarning.com/

To take part in the PayPal Poll, please click: PayPal Poll

Posted in class action, Paypal abuse, Ripoff Merchants | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

SoCal Fires Update October 15

Posted by feww on October 15, 2008

California: Playing with fire!

“Once again, we are facing the perfect storm of high winds, low humidity and high heat,” said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Wildfires have consumed 26,000 acres and 64 structures [and many mobile homes] from Los Angeles to the Mexican border in the last few days, Schwarzenegger said.


[This bag and my son is all I ever needed!] – Maria Ramirez runs through a police closure to get her son from their home as the Marek fire threatens houses in Lake View Terrace. October 13, 2008. Photo: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times. Image may be subject to copyright.

  • Marek fire was more than 50% contained.
  • Sesnon fire, doubled in size overnight to about 10,000 acres, is still burning in a southwesterly direction.
  • Villaraigosa signed a local emergency declaration to receive state and federal disaster assistance.


The Sky Terrace Mobile Lodge in the northeast San Fernando Valley suffered significant damage to residences and structure from the Marek fire. October 13, 2008. Photo: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times.
Image may be subject to copyright.

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Posted in air pollution, mandatory evacuation, Marek Fire, state of emergency, Villaraigosa | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Hefty Omar May Develope into a Hurricane

Posted by feww on October 15, 2008

Update 10-16: Omar is now a cat 2 hurricane!

Omar is moving in a northeastly direction at 28 kmph. [Center located at latitude 16.6 north, longitude 65.2 west or about 137 km south-southwest of St. Croix and 227 km south-southeast of San Juan Puerto Rico.]  Omar is expected to move through the northern Leeward islands and the Virgin Islands  early Thursday, NHC reported.

Omar seems to have the potential to strengthen to a much larger hurricane under current/favorable conditions, according to FEWW model.

TS Omar headed toward Puerto Rico may become a hurricane soon

Tropical Storm Omar is likely to develop into a hurricane in the next few hours, the U.S. National Hurricane Center reported.

The storm headed toward Puerto Rico at about 11 kmph with sustained winds of 110 kmph was located near latitude 14.6 north, longitude 68.3 west or about 540 km south-southwest of San Juan Puerto Rico on October 15 at 01:15UTC.


TS Omar AVN Color Enhanced Satellite Image (still frame) – Oct 15, 2008 at 01:15UTC – SSD/NOAA

Hurricane watch and a tropical storm warning areas:

  • Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Islands of Anguilla, St. Kitts, Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten/Martin, and St. Barthelemy.
  • The island of Montserrat.

Posted in Montserrat, Saba, San Juan, St. Barthelemy, St. Kitts | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »