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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 December, 2008

Earthquake Cluster Hits Yellowstone National Park

Posted by feww on December 31, 2008

More than two dozen earthquakes magnitude 2.5 and larger strike Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

FEWW Forecast: There could be as much as 37 percent more earthquakes in the United States in 2009;  some may occur in areas not prone to quakes, e.g., north, northeast, south and central U.S.

Magnitude 3.5 quake strikes  YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING

Source: USGS

This Earthquake
Magnitude: 3.5


  • Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 09:02:28 UTC
  • Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 02:02:28 AM at epicenter

Location: 44.523°N, 110.362°W
Depth: 0.4 km (~0.2 mile) (poorly constrained)

  • 61 km (38 miles) ESE (104°) from West Yellowstone, MT
  • 64 km (40 miles) SSE (154°) from Gardiner, MT
  • 64 km (40 miles) SSW (211°) from Cooke City-Silver Gate, MT
  • 437 km (272 miles) NNE (16°) from Salt Lake City, UT

Location Uncertainty: horizontal +/- 0.5 km (0.3 miles); depth +/- 7.9 km (4.9 miles)
Source: University of Utah Seismograph Stations [via USGS]
Event ID: uu00002649

FEWW Team will provide a more definitive earthquake forecast for the US in 2009 once it’s had a chance to re-examine the data to confirm the preliminary analysis.

Posted in earthquake, Gardiner, Salt Lake City, Seismicity, subduction zone | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Fish, Fish Eggs Holocaust

Posted by feww on December 29, 2008

In view of public interest in the environmental impact and safety of power plants the following AP article first published in October is reprinted in full.

Billions of Fish, Fish Eggs Die in Power Plants

By Jim Fitzgerald, Associated Press – First Published 19 October 2008

BUCHANAN, N.Y. (AP) — For a newly hatched striped bass in the Hudson River, a clutch of trout eggs in Lake Michigan or a baby salmon in San Francisco Bay, drifting a little too close to a power plant can mean a quick and turbulent death.

Sucked in with enormous volumes of water, battered against the sides of pipes and heated by steam, the small fry of the aquatic world are being sacrificed in large numbers each year to the cooling systems of power plants around the country.

NIPSCO Coal Power Plant Cooling Tower. Michigan City. Indiana. Publisher: National Biological Information Infrastructure (Nov 2002). Credit: John J. Mosesso,

Environmentalists say the nation’s power plants are needlessly killing fish and fish eggs with their cooling systems, but energy-industry officials say opponents of nuclear power are exaggerating the losses.

The issue is affecting the debate over the future of a nuclear plant in the suburbs north of New York City, and the facilities and environmentalists are closely watching the outcome here to see how to proceed in other cities around the country. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule this term in a lawsuit related to the matter.

The issue’s scope is tremendous. More than 1,000 power plants and factories around the country use water from rivers, lakes, oceans and creeks as a coolant. At Indian Point plant in New York, the two reactors can pull in 1.7 million gallons of water per minute. Nineteen plants on or near the California coast use 16.3 billion gallons of sea water every day.

Part of the Shearon Harris nuclear power plant, the site chosen for a proposed new nuclear power reactor, is seen here. The water cooling tower is emitting steam from hot water. The plant is near Raleigh, N.C. Image: Progress Energy, Murray & Associates. Image may be subject to copyright.

Most of the casualties are just fish eggs, and for many species, it takes thousands of eggs to result in one adult fish. The U.S. Environmental Protection Administration, which counts only species that are valuable for commerce or recreation, uses various formulas and says the number of eggs and larvae killed each year at the nation’s large power plants would have grown into 1.5 billion year-old fish.

Environmentalists note that even fish that die before maturity contribute to the ecosystem as food for larger fish and birds, and as predators themselves on smaller organisms. But once they’ve gone through the power plant, they become decomposing detritus on the river bottom and have moved from the top to the bottom of the food chain, said Reed Super, an environmental lawyer specializing in the federal Clean Water Act.

“This is a really significant ongoing harm to our marine ecosystem,” says Angela Haren, program director for the California Coastkeeper Alliance in San Francisco.

Technology has long existed that might reduce the fish kill by 90 percent or more. Cooling towers allow a power plant to recycle the water rather than continuously pump it in. New power plants are required to use cooling towers, but most existing plants resist any push to convert, citing the huge cost and claiming that most fish eggs and larvae are doomed anyway.

“We’re not killing grown fish,” says Jerry Nappi, spokesman for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, owner of Indian Point. “If we were killing billions of grown fish you’d be able to walk across the Hudson on their backs.”

And Nappi says the fish population in the Hudson is stable, despite a recent study commissioned by Indian Point opponents that said 10 of 13 species were declining.

He also says an insistence on cooling towers could lead to Indian Point’s closing and a sudden power deficit in the New York metropolitan area.

“What you’re really talking about is a $1.5 billion hit on the company, and then it becomes an economic decision whether they want to stay here,” he says. He believes talk of cooling towers is “a backdoor attempt by some to shut down Indian Point.”

A recent ruling dealt at least a small blow to Entergy’s efforts. The state Department of Environmental Protection, which is pushing for cooling towers, said the simple fact that so many fish eggs are destroyed each year at Indian Point is proof of an environmental impact, and Entergy can no longer maintain that it’s not adversely affecting the river.

Natural Draft Cooling Tower. Image Source:
Cooling Towers. Image may be subject to copyright.

There’s still months of argument ahead, but the ruling could be influential.

“We’ll be very interested to see how that comes out,” says Katie Nekola, an attorney for Clean Wisconsin, which failed to force cooling towers at the Oak Creek plant on Lake Michigan but won a $105 million settlement.

State agencies in California also are working on new regulations that should limit the numbers of fish killed, in the Pacific Ocean and other bodies of water.

According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, nuclear plants drink from other familiar bodies of water as the Mississippi River, Chesapeake Bay, Lake Michigan, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Oceans. Water used for cooling does not become radioactive.

Most plants without cooling towers use a system in which water is continuously pumped in, used for cooling, and returned.

Various types of barriers are used to keep adult fish out of the system; Indian Point uses screens with holes measuring a quarter-inch by a half-inch.

However, fish that are blocked by the screen can become caught on the screen by the force of the water intake. To rescue them, the screens rotate, and as they come out of the water a spray of water knocks the impinged fish into a trough, which is directed back to the river.

A California state report says 9 million fish are caught on nets there every year. Even turtles, seals and sea lions are occasionally caught. Environmentalists believe many fish and other creatures are killed in this process, or are injured and die later.

“When you hit a deer in your car, just because it gets up and runs away doesn’t mean it’s not going to die,” Haren said.

But Ed Keating, environmental manager at the nuclear subsidiary of Public Service Enterprise Group Inc., said that probably only 1 percent of the fish caught get killed on the screens. Dara Gray, environmental supervisor at Indian Point, says there’s no reason to believe that any fish are injured or killed by being caught on the screen.

In the process known as closed-cycle cooling, used mostly in newer plants, the number of fish and eggs sucked in or impinged is sharply reduced because cooling towers use so much less water. Even if a power plant draws its cooling water from a river, it uses that water over and over again and rarely needs to replenish.

Some plants with cooling towers don’t have to worry about fish at all. PSEG Fossil has plants in New Jersey that now take treated wastewater from sewage plants.

Related Links:

Posted in coal-fired, fish eggs, Fish Holocaust, fossil fuels, New Jersey | Tagged: , , , , | 15 Comments »

The Antarctic Whaling War Continues

Posted by feww on December 28, 2008

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s Steve Irwin stinkbombs Japan’s whaling ship Kaiko Maru

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, whose ship Steve Irwin has been chasing Japan’s whaling fleet in the Antarctic waters, says they have forced the fleet into waters off the Ross Dependency, an area claimed by New Zealand.

Members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, aboard their ship the Steve Irwin (L), throw items at the Japanese ship the Kaiko Maru near Antarctica December 26, 2008. Environmentalists chasing a Japanese whaling fleet off Antarctica threw “stink” bombs at one of the vessels, Japanese authorities and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said. Picture taken December 26, 2008.
REUTERS/Sea Shepherd Conservation Society/Eric Cheng/Handout

An Australian court order prohibits whaling in waters off Australian-claimed Antarctic territories coast, which is declared as an ‘economic exclusion zone,’ aka “EEZ.”

Sea Shepherd insists that it is enforcing that order by forcing Japan’s whaling fleet out of Australia’s EEZ.

Japan does not recognize the zone and says its whaling fleet is in international waters.

In a statement released Saturday, Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson said: “The good news is that they are no longer whaling in Australian waters and they only managed to hunt in the waters of the Australian Antarctic Territory for about a week before being forced to flee the Australian EEZ.”

“They are now in the waters of the Ross dependency and the Steve Irwin is in pursuit,” he said, adding that it was “bad news” for the whales in waters south of New Zealand.

“Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research, which runs the hunt, has accused Sea Shepherd of “eco-terrorism” and of ramming its vessel the Kaiko Maru during a protest action last Friday. Sea Shepherd has blamed the Japanese for the collision.” Reuters said.

The crew of the Japanese whaling ship has warned Sea Shepherd that any similar action would be treated as “illegal intruders under Japanese law.”

Two issues need to be fully addressed, preferably in an “independent” international court. First, the legitimacy of Australian claim to the EEZ. Second, the legitimacy and the nature of the Japanese claim using “scientific” research as an excuse for hunting  whales, despite an international 1986 moratorium on whaling, and in view of the fact that much of the whale meat is sold for human consumption.

Related News Links:

Posted in EEZ, Kaiko Maru, Ross dependency, whaling fleet | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

TVA Spill Update

Posted by feww on December 25, 2008

500 Million 1.1 Billion Gallons of Coal Sludge Destroys Tennessee Homes

TVA spill is over 40 times bigger than the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska

Sent by Bonnie Swinford [Mountain Justice]

The Tennessee Valley Authority, better known as TVA, has a coal-burning power plant located near Harriman, Tennessee, along Interstate 40 between Knoxville and Nashville. On Monday, December 22 around 1:00 a.m. residences living near the Kingston coal plant were flooded with approximately 500 million gallons of nasty black coal waste. It covered 400 acres of land up to 6 feet and flooded into tributaries of the Tennessee River – the water supply for Chattanooga TN and millions of people living downstream in Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.

One of the homes which was destroyed when TVA  retention pond wall collapsed in Harriman, Tenn. Photo: AP. Image may be subject to copyright.

The coal ash, slurry or sludge is a byproduct left over after TVA burns their coal and they have a huge mountain of this coal waste material stored in a gigantic pile next to their Kingston power plant, alongside the tributary of the Tennessee River. Coal ash contains mercury and dangerous heavy metals like lead and arsenic, among many other potentially toxic and radioactive contaminates. Materials found naturally in coal are concentrated in the ash and more toxic than they start.

This Tennessee TVA spill is over 40 times bigger than the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska. This is a huge environmental disaster of epic proportions.

Orthographic aerial photograph of Kingston Fossil Plant coal fly ash slurry spill, in Kingston, Tennessee, taken the day after the event).

Note: The slate blue areas are the ash slurry that fills the retention area and covers areas to the north and east outside the breached dike.
Source:   Tennessee Valley Authority website
Date:    December 23, 2008

United Mountain Defense has been at the site of the spill sharing information about the extremely serious threats to human health and the environment. We have been going door to door passing out information about the chemicals that may be present in impacted drinking water. TVA is advising families to boil water however they are not informing anyone about the reasons for needing to boil the water or sharing any chemicals that may be present in their water.

TVA Sludge Disaster
Two more of the homes that are buried in 6 feet of sludge. Source: TVA/NYT

TVA Sludge Disaster Close-up
Image close up. See above for details.

TVA has reported that preliminary water test show that the drinking water at the nearby water treatment facility meets standards, but lots of community members have well water or depend on water being pumped from a spring located in the flooded area.

There is also still the potential for more sludge to enter the water supply thorough waste runoff.

TVA says the area is not toxic but you can see coal sludge in the water and dead fish on the banks. The members of this community are without clean water and many without electricity or gas heat. We met people who were given motel rooms by TVA and others on the same street that have been without heat for days in 27° (F) weather and others who have been vomiting for more than 12 hours after drinking the water.

Aerial Footage of Retaining Wall Failure (Footage from TVA website)

We visited approximately 40 households and many people were frustrated they had not received any information other than what they could figure out from the minute long television segments or an isolated phone call from the water or gas utility. Residents say that they are not surprised by the flood because TVA has been fixing leaks in the retention wall for years and one person said this wall had been leaking for months before it broke.

TVA Coal Ash Disaster Dec 22 2008

United Mountain Defense is actively creating a plan of action to deal with this issue. We plan to spend as much time as possible in Harriman meeting people, taking photos and video, gathering water samples, passing out information and reporting what we learn.
Please check our news blog on this site for updates and to learn more about our TVA Santa Protests that occurred throughout December.

Check out the Santa Protest Videos

We greatly appreciate all support and suggestion for dealing with this massive disaster can be sent to

If you are able to test water samples for heavy metals or other specialized water testing please let us know.

We will not stand by as safety and environmental compliance taken a back seat to megawatt production.

Feel free to send checks for copies, paper, gas and general support funds to United Mountain Defense P.O. Box 20363 Knoxville, TN 37920 Please mark check: “For TVA Spill

We demand the following from TVA

  1. TVA provides clean drinking water to all residents with water affected by the coal ash spill, indefinitely.
  2. TVA and the State of Tennessee hold multiple public hearings and investigate the bursting coal ash dam.
  3. TVA and the State of Tennessee identifies the locations of all the coal ash, what toxins exist in the coal ash, and how it will be cleaned up and safely disposed of in landfills with liners.
  4. TVA provides public disclosure of all existing coal ash ponds and makes sure each pond receives a current inspection by the state of Tennessee. TVA upgrades all coal ash ponds to include safety liners.
  5. TVA installs a warning system and provides education for all residents likely to be impacted by any problems with other ash ponds.
  6. TVA completely cleans up and restores the affected properties and water ways.
  7. TVA pays restitution for human suffering involved in the ash pond failure.
  8. TVA establishes a citizen advisory board with voting power for all of its operations.
  9. TVA stops burning any coal from surface mines and Mountain Top Removal coal mines.
  10. TVA cuts their emissions of mercury, heavy metals, hydrochloric acid, and sulfuric acid to zero pounds per year.
  11. TVA agrees to not mine for coal in Royal Blue Wildlife Management Area.

Feel free to contact TVA and forward this list of demands. Make sure to be polite.

Tennessee Valley Authority
400 W. Summit Hill Dr.
Knoxville, TN 37902-1499

865-632-2101                         800-882-5263

Related Links:

Latest News: EPA: Rivers high in arsenic, heavy metals after sludge spill

Other News: Still buried in SLUDGE

NASA Images: Coal Ash Spill, Tennessee


Posted in Alabama, Kentucky, Mountain Justice, Tennessee | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Chaitén: Volcano that Doesn’t Sleep

Posted by feww on December 24, 2008

Chaitén volcano: Entering 8th months of activity

Acquired December 5, 2008                                                                   NASA Earth Observatory

Chile’s Chaitén Volcano erupted violently on May 2, 2008, after an estimated 9,000 years of dormancy. The volcano has since spewed ash across Patagonia, ejecting  pumice as far as the nearby gulf, and sending lahars into the town of Chaitén.

The town of Chaitén, located about 10 kilometers from the volcano, is seen covered with volcanic ash in this  satellite image captured by Formosat on December 5, 2008.  West of town, ash forms fan-shaped deposits in what used to be Chaitén’s harbor.  Río Blanco is clogged with ash and appears completely white in the image.

Formosat image © 2008 Dr. Cheng-Chien Liu, National Cheng-Kung University, and Dr. An-Ming Wu, National Space Organization, Taiwan. Caption by Michon Scott.
Instrument: FORMOSAT-2 – RSI
Date Acquired: December 5, 2008

Posted in Global Volcanism Program, lava dome, Río Blanco | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

British Columbia Forests Plagued by Beetle

Posted by feww on December 24, 2008

Insect Damage in British Columbia Forests

Insect Damage in British Columbia Forests
Acquired June 26, 2006
NASA Earth Observatory
Color bar for Insect Damage in British Columbia Forests

A population explosion of mountain pine beetles have plagued British Columbia’s forests since the 1990s. The beetle, Dendroctonus ponderosae, has destroyed large tracts of forest throughout the province. Forests have economic value, and they provide habitat and food for wildlife. In addition, they play an important role in Earth’s carbon cycle, which affects climate. Healthy, growing forests take up carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. Dead forests produce carbon dioxide when trees decay. Some of the worst damage appears near 52 degrees north and 124 degrees west.

NASA map by Robert Simmon, based on data from Paul Montesano, Jon Ranson, and the MODIS land team.
Caption by Michon Scott and Rebecca Lindsey.
Instrument: Terra – MODIS
Dates Acquired: June 26, 2006 – July 11, 2006

Posted in beetle infestation, British Columbia Forests, carbon dioxide, pine forests | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

California Out of Cash by February 2009

Posted by msrb on December 24, 2008

California will run out of cash in two months: State Controller

Please, will all the contractors, state employees and anyone else who have ripped off the state return their loot?

As a French investment manager who put $1.4bn into Madoff’s Ponzi scheme commits suicide in New York, California State Controller sounds the bankruptcy alarm bells in Sacramento.

New York

The body of Thierry Magon de La Villehuchet, 65, a co-founder and chief executive officer of Access International Advisors, was found today. The company raised money mainly from wealthy European investors. Madoff was arrested on Dec. 11 for allegedly running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme. Image: Source. Image may be subject to copyright.


California State Controller John Chiang in a letter to the governor and Legislature said Monday: “There will be no shelter from the storm as the state’s cash position will remain negative throughout the remainder of the fiscal year.”

California is facing a $41 billion budget deficit.

“Cash-preserving options no doubt will have the unintended effect of deepening and prolonging the recession that has crippled our state’s economy,” Chiang warned. The state’s Pooled Money Investment Board has already pulled the plug on $3.8 billion in loans to finance about 2,000 infrastructure projects.

Chiang says he wants to make sure the state won’t have to default because that could further damage the state’s credit rating.

California may have to issue billions of dollars worth of IOUs to anyone owed money, however, even that may not be a viable long-term option, Chiang says.

“Given the current financial instability of the banking industry, it is highly unlikely that the banks, if they accept the IOUs at all, will be able to do so for any sustained period of time,” Chiang said.

Schwarzenegger with his wife Maria Shriver at the 2007 Special Olympics in Shanghai, China.

Schwarzenegger and his family currently live in their 11,000-square-foot (1 022 m²) home in Brentwood. The family owns vacation homes in Sun Valley, Idaho and Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. Schwarzenegger does not have a home in Sacramento. However, whenever he is in the state capital, he lives in the Hyatt Regency hotel suite. The suite costs about $65,000 a year. Source

Related News Links:

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Posted in infrastructure, IOU, looted state, Schwarzenegger, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Global Food Safety Warning: Major Outbreak of Salmonella in New Zealand

Posted by feww on December 23, 2008

Do not consume or import New Zealand food products

Contaminated flour may have caused the national salmonella outbreak that has affected 50 people, according to the New Zealand “Food Safety” Authority

Salmonella symptoms include diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, nausea, vomiting and headache. So far five of the victims have been hospitalized.  A woman infected with salmonella mbandaka died in Nelson, in April. Source

Champion, Edmonds, Homelife and Pam’s brand flours with best-before dates between June and July 2009 are likely to be infected and should not be eaten raw. 

Salmonella Bacteria

Safety Precautions

“NZFSA compliance and investigation director Geoff Allen said investigations had found the relatively rare salmonella phage type 42 strain in bags of flour. The same strain had infected people across the country.” Source

  • Do NOT lick the spoon during baking, especially if the source of flour is unknown!
  • Do NOT Eat raw batter or other mixes (such as cake or muffin), especially if the source of flour is unknown!
  • Avoid coming into contact with people traveling from New Zealand
  • Do not import or consume food products imported from New Zealand

[Note: Health officials are warning bakers against licking their bowls!!]

Related Links:

Posted in baking, raw batter, salmonella phage type 42 strain, Salmonella symptoms | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Second ice storm in 3 days pummels NE U.S.

Posted by feww on December 22, 2008

Ice storms pummel much of the northern and northeastern United States

Two winter storms in three days hit the U.S. northeast causing havoc across the region.  In the West, parts of Washington state were hit with heavy snow storms. As much as 10 inches of snow fell, causing  power outages  and traffic congestion.

Not so fast!
Bags being returned from canceled flights jam the baggage claim area at a crowded Sea-Tac Airport [Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Washington, United States.] Numerous flights were canceled after heavy snow moved through the area. Leaving the airport is difficult as surface transportation is also being disrupted because of snow (December 21, 2008). Photo: Karen Ducey/Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Image may be subject to copyright.

Heavy snows and strong winds forced the closure of Snoqualmie Pass, east of Seattle on highway I-90. Conditions there were “just a complete whiteout blizzard” on the pass, Washington State Patrol trooper Dan McDonald told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper. “I’ve never seen anything like this. The side winds are probably easy 70 mph. They’re taking us off the road.”

Up to 30 cm of snow is expected in areas west of Boston, leading to long delays and cancellations at regional airports throughout New England. In New Hampshire up to 20,000 customers were without power, while in Massachusetts power outages affected about 6,000 households and businesses.

Related News Links:

Posted in blizzard, Massachusetts, New England, New Hampshire, Sea-Tac Airport | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Ice Planet China

Posted by feww on December 22, 2008

Big Freeze Hits Northern China

Ice storms, heavy snow and freezing conditions have covered most of northern China, the meteorological department said on Sunday. In Tianjin, which borders Beijing and is the second largest city in northern coastal China, all flights were canceled due to heavy snow; road and rail tracks became impassible.

People make their way amid snowfall on a street in Tianjin municipality, China, December 21, 2008. REUTERS/Vincent Du
. Image may be subject to copyright.

Beijing  temperature fell to minus 12 degree centigrade, while further north they fell to minus 26 degrees Celsius. The weather forecast for most of central, eastern and southern China in the next two days is much of the same.

Cold weather s across central and southern China earlier this year killed at least 129 people.

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Posted in Gansu, ice storms, mangolia, Shanxi, snow | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Steve Irwin Will Chase Japanese Whalers

Posted by feww on December 21, 2008

Paul Watson, founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, said today their organization’s ship, Steve Irwin, would continue pursuing the whalers once the weather improved.

“They are on the run but right now it is very bad weather,” he told reporters by phone from the Steve Irwin, noting that the Japanese fleet had started very early in the whaling season.

“That means we are going to cut into their profits. When they are running they are not killing whales.”

Japanese whalers plan to kill about 900 whales in this years Antarctic hunt.  Although Japan officially stopped whaling under a 1986 global moratorium, the whalers have been catching hundreds of whales each year, which Tokyo says is “for scientific research purposes.” However, most of the meat is sold openly at Japanese supermarkets.

Watson said Sea Shepherd had spotted the Japanese fleet, which he believed had already killed some whales.  They called off an attempt Friday to attack the harpoon ship Yushin Maru 2  about five kilometers from the ship because of dense fog and icy seas. (Source)

Related Links:

Posted in harpoon ship, Japanese fleet, whale meat, whaling season, Yushin Maru 2 | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Eat Local: How Cuba Survives

Posted by terres on December 21, 2008

This article from REUTERS is reproduced in full in the public interest and their right to know.

In “eat local” movement, Cuba is years ahead

By Esteban Israel

HAVANA (Reuters) – After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Cuba planted thousands of urban cooperative gardens to offset reduced rations of imported food.

A man works in a field in San Antonio de los Banos in Havana in this July 18, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Enrique De La Osa/ Files. Image may be subject to copyright.

Now, in the wake of three hurricanes that wiped out 30 percent of Cuba’s farm crops, the communist country is again turning to its urban gardens to keep its people properly fed.

“Our capacity for response is immediate because this is a cooperative,” said Miguel Salcines, walking among rows of lettuce in the garden he heads in the Alamar suburb on the outskirts of Havana.

Salcines says he is hardly sleeping as his 160-member cooperative rushes to plant and harvest a variety of beets that takes just 25 days to grow, among other crops.

As he talks, dirt-stained men and women kneel along the furrows, planting and watering on land next to a complex of Soviet-style buildings. Machete-wielding men chop weeds and clear brush along the periphery of the field.

Around 15 percent of the world’s food is grown in urban areas, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a figure experts expect to increase as food prices rise, urban populations grow and environmental concerns mount.

Since they sell directly to their communities, city farms don’t depend on transportation and are relatively immune to the volatility of fuel prices, advantages that are only now gaining traction as “eat local” movements in rich countries.


In Cuba, urban gardens have bloomed in vacant lots, alongside parking lots, in the suburbs and even on city rooftops.

They sprang from a military plan for Cuba to be self-sufficient in case of war. They were broadened to the general public in response to a food crisis that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba’s biggest benefactor at the time.

They have proven extremely popular, occupying 35,000 hectares (86,000 acres) of land across the Caribbean island. Even before the hurricanes, they produced half of the leaf vegetables eaten in Cuba, which imports about 60 percent of its food.

“I don’t say they have the capacity to produce enough food for the whole island, but for social and also agricultural reasons they are the most adequate response to a crisis,” said Catherine Murphy, a U.S. sociologist who has studied Cuba’s urban gardens.


In Alamar, the members get a salary and share the garden’s profits, so the more they grow, the more they earn. They make an average of about 950 pesos, or $42.75, per month, more than double the national average, Salcines said.

The co-op, which began in 1997, now produces more than 240 tons of vegetables annually on its 11 hectares (27 acres) of land, which is about the size of 13 soccer fields.

The gardens sell their produce directly to the community and, out of necessity, grow their crops organically.

“Urban agriculture is going to play a key role in guaranteeing the feeding of the people much more quickly than the traditional farms,” said Richard Haep, Cuba coordinator for German aid group Welthungerhilfe, which has supported these kinds of projects since 1994.

When the Soviet Union fell apart, Cuba’s supply of oil slowed to a trickle, hurting big state agricultural operations. Chemical fertilizers were replaced with mountains of manure, and beneficial insects were used instead of pesticides.

Unlike in developed countries, where organic products are more expensive, in Cuba they are affordable.

“We have taken organic agriculture to a social level,” said Salcines.

Some experts fear that rising international food prices along with the destruction of the hurricanes will return Cuba to the path of agrochemicals. The government is planning to construct a fertilizer plant with its oil-rich ally Venezuela.

But Raul Castro, who replaced ailing brother Fidel Castro as president in February, has also borrowed ideas from the urban gardens as he implements reforms to cut the island’s $2.5 billion in annual food imports, much of it from the United States.

Castro has decentralized farm decision-making and raised the prices that the state pays for agricultural products, which has increased milk production, for example, by almost 20 percent.

And, in September, the government began renting out unused state-owned lands to farmers and cooperatives, measures that met with approval of international aid groups.

“Decentralization and economic incentives. If those elements are expanded to the rest of the agricultural sector, the response will be the same,” said Welthungerhilfe’s Haep.

(Reporting by Esteban Israel; Editing by Jeff Franks and Eddie Evans)

Posted in Cuba, economy for community, organic crops, profit share, urban gardens | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Large Earthquake Strikes Off the Coast of Japan

Posted by feww on December 21, 2008

Magnitude 6.5 Earthquake Strikes Off the Coast of Honshu, Japan

The Mainshock was followed by a cluster of at least 5 moderate to strong aftershocks magnitude 4.8  to 5.3.

Update: A magnitude 6.0 aftershock struck near location of mainshock [36.592°N, 142.269°E,] on December 21, 2008 at 09:16:44 UTC.

10-degree Map Centered at 35°N,140°E

Source: USGS

Earthquake Details

Magnitude: 6.5

Date-Time: Saturday, December 20, 2008 at 10:29:22 UTC

Location: 36.603°N, 142.356°E
Depth: 10 km (6.2 miles) set by location program

  • 140 km (85 miles) ESE of Iwaki, Honshu, Japan
  • 170 km (105 miles) E of Mito, Honshu, Japan
  • 210 km (130 miles) SE of Fukushima, Honshu, Japan
  • 255 km (160 miles) ENE of TOKYO, Japan

Location Uncertainty: horizontal +/- 8.7 km (5.4 miles); depth fixed by location program


Event ID: us2008avan

Seismicity in 2008


Related Links:

Posted in Earthquake cluster, earthquake damage, Japan shake, Mito, tectonic plates | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

New Zealand Hit by another Quake

Posted by feww on December 19, 2008

A Magnitude 5.2 Quake shakes NORTH ISLAND, NZ

New micro plates forming at the top of the North Island, NZ?

Magnitude: 5.2
Date-Time:  Friday, December 19, 2008 at 00:20:58 UTC
Location: 37.927°S, 174.781°E
Depth: 35 km (21.7 miles) set by location program

  • 118 km (73 miles) S (179°) from Auckland, New Zealand
  • 133 km (83 miles) W (279°) from Rotorua, New Zealand
  • 141 km (87 miles) NNE (26°) from New Plymouth, New Zealand
  • 373 km (232 miles) N (360°) from WELLINGTON, New Zealand

Location Uncertainty:  horizontal +/- 8 km (5.0 miles); depth fixed by location program
Event ID us2008atcf


According to NZ GeoNet, at least 8 quakes magnitude 4 or larger have struck New Zealand islands in the past week. Their data may be inaccurate, and is unverified.

Related Links:

Posted in Auckland shake, Earthquake cluster, GeoNet, New Plymouth, WELLINGTON rattle | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Mag 5.3 Earthquake Rattles North Island, NZ

Posted by feww on December 18, 2008

Magnitude 5.3 Earthquake strikes off east Coast North Island, NZ – Many more quakes are expected in the region

A Magnitude 8+ Earthquake could strike Kermadec trench before the year’s end!



Magnitude: 5.3
Date-Time: Wednesday, December 17, 2008 at 20:34:00 UTC
Location: 36.944°S, 177.325°E
Depth: 114.8 km (71.3 miles)

  • 160 km (100 miles) NE of Rotorua, New Zealand
  • 200 km (125 miles) NNW of Gisborne, New Zealand
  • 230 km (140 miles) E of Auckland, New Zealand
  • 530 km (330 miles) NNE of WELLINGTON, New Zealand

Location Uncertainty: horizontal +/- 53 km (32.9 miles); depth +/- 18.4 km (11.4 miles)
Event ID: us2008asbf

New Zealand’s Alpine Fault – Source: Stuff NZ. Image may be subject to copyright.

Related Links:

    Posted in Indo-Australian Plate, Kermadec Ridge, Louisville seamount, Pacific Plate, Rotorua | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Earthquake Forecast 2009

    Posted by feww on December 18, 2008

    Earthquake Forecast 2009 – country in focus: Japan

    2009 Earthquake Forecast by FEWW / CASF –
    Release Date: December 18, 2008. [All data are subject to updates and changes.]

    Historic Japan earthquakes: 2008 [as of  December 18, 2008]

    See Also:

    [Earthquakes of magnitude 6.5 or greater or ones that caused fatalities, injuries or substantial damage. Source: Data Compiled by Pamela J. Benfield and NEIC Operations Staff.]

    Historic japan earthquake: 2007


    Earthquake Density Map of Japan [USGS]

    Seismicity Map

    Credit: USGS

    Seismic Hazard Map of Japan

    Credit: USGS

    Notable Earthquakes in Japan [USGS]

    Source: USGS


    Source: USGS

    Related Links:

    Posted in earthquake damage, Earthquake death, Honshu quakes, Japan quakes, population exposure, Significant Earthquakes | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

    Ice Melt in Alaska, Antarctica, Greenland Accelerating

    Posted by feww on December 17, 2008

    2 trillion tons of ice in Alaska, Antarctica and Greenland melted since 2003, NASA says

    About 2 trillion tons of ice in Alaska, Antarctica  and Greenland has melted since 2003,  NASA scientists say, due to accelerating climate change.

    Analyzing data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, GRACE, in which two orbiting satellites are used to measure the “mass balance” of a glacier, that is the net difference between ice accumulation and ice loss each year, NASA geophysicist Scott Luthcke says the losses are colossal.

    “The ice tells us in a very real way how the climate is changing,” said Luthcke. “A few degrees of change [in temperature] can increase the amount of mass loss, and that contributes to sea level rise and changes in ocean current.”

    Greenland has lost about 160 gigatons (one billion tons) each year for 5 consecutive years, enough to raise global sea levels about .5 mm per year,  according to another NASA researcher, Jay Zwally.

    “Every few extra inches of sea level have very significant economic impacts, because they change the sea level, increase flooding and storm damage,” said Zwally. “It’s a warning sign.”

    “We’re seeing the impacts of global warming in many areas of our own lives, like agriculture,” he said.

    Citing the pine beetle infestation in the forests of Colorado and western Canada [how about Alaska?] he said: “[The pests] were believed to be spreading because the winter was not cold enough to kill them, and that’s destroying forests.”

    Sermersuaq (Humboldt) Glacier, Greenland

    acquired August 30, 2008 – NASA Earth Observatory

    acquired August 30, 2000 – NASA Earth Observatory

    Stretching about 90 kilometers across Kane Bassin in the Nares Strait, northwestern Greenland’s Sermersuaq Glacier, also called Humboldt Glacier, is the Northern Hemisphere’s widest tidewater glacier—a glacier that begins on land, but terminates in water. The Sermersuaq is a major source of icebergs in the strait, which connects the Lincoln Sea in the north to Baffin Bay in the south.

    This pair of images shows the retreat of the Sermersuaq Glacier between 2000 and 2008. In these natural-color images from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite, the approximate terminus of the glacier on August 31, 2000 (bottom image), is traced with a yellow line on an image from August 30, 2008 (top). Although the southern part of the terminus showed little change during the period, significant retreat is visible in the northern part, where a fast-flowing ice stream is located. In both images, the deep blue waters of Kane Bassin are littered with ice, which may include icebergs and sea ice.

    Having a “toe” in the water adds complexity to the natural cycle of advance and retreat that a glacier experiences in response to climate changes. The behavior of tidewater glaciers is affected not only by melting and snowfall on land, but also by the shape of the fjord or coastline where the glacier enters the water, the depth of the water, tides, and the thickness of the moraine (a shoal of sediment and rock) that builds up underwater at the tip of the glacier.

    Even in the absence of human-caused climate change, tidewater glaciers naturally experience century-long cycles that include phases of rapid retreat. After decades of slow advance, the terminus of the glacier eventually becomes grounded on its own moraine. The shoal can become so thick that it stops icebergs from calving for extended spans of time. The support of the shoal allows the glacier to grow larger than it could if it were free-floating.

    A small amount of thinning or retreat at the terminus can trigger a rapid retreat once the glacier—too large to float—is ungrounded from the shoal. The initial thinning or retreat of a tidewater glacier may result from a warming climate, but the extremely rapid retreat thereafter has as much to do with topography and the laws of physics as it does with the current climate.

    NASA image created by Jesse Allen, using data obtained from the Goddard Level 1 and Atmospheric Archive and Distribution System (LAADS). Caption by Rebecca Lindsey.

    Instrument: Terra – MODIS
    Date Acquired: August 30, 2008

    Posted in Colorado forests, pine beetle infestation, Sermersuaq Glacier, western Canada | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

    Global Warming or Climate Change

    Posted by feww on December 17, 2008

    From NASA with Love!

    What’s in a Name? Global Warming vs. Climate Change

    December 5, 2008

    The Internet is full of references to global warming. The Union of Concerned Scientists [aka, the snakeoil merchants] website on climate change is titled “Global Warming,” just one of many examples. But we don’t use global warming much on this website. We use the less appealing “climate change.” Why?

    By any other name … Whether referred to as “global warming” or “climate change,” the consequences of the widescale changes currently being observed in Earth’s climate system could be considerable.

    To a scientist, global warming describes the average global surface temperature increase from human emissions of greenhouse gases. Its first use was in a 1975 Science article by geochemist Wallace Broecker of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory: “Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?”

    Broecker’s term was a break with tradition. Earlier studies of human impact on climate had called it “inadvertent climate modification.”  This was because while many scientists accepted that human activities could cause climate change, they did not know what the direction of change might be. Industrial emissions of tiny airborne particles called aerosols might cause cooling, while greenhouse gas emissions would cause warming. Which effect would dominate?

    For most of the 1970s, nobody knew. So “inadvertent climate modification,” while clunky and dull, was an accurate reflection of the state of knowledge.

    The first decisive National Academy of Science study of carbon dioxide’s impact on climate, published in 1979, abandoned “inadvertent climate modification.” Often called the Charney Report for its chairman, Jule Charney of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, declared: “if carbon dioxide continues to increase, [we find] no reason to doubt that climate changes will result and no reason to believe that these changes will be negligible.”

    In place of inadvertent climate modification, Charney adopted Broecker’s usage. When referring to surface temperature change, Charney used “global warming.” When discussing the many other changes that would be induced by increasing carbon dioxide, Charney used “climate change.”

    Within scientific journals, this is still how the two terms are used. Global warming refers to surface temperature increases, while climate change includes global warming and everything else that increasing greenhouse gas amounts will affect.

    Global warming: the increase in Earth’s average surface temperature due to rising levels of greenhouse gases.
    Climate change: a long-term change in the Earth’s climate, or of a region on Earth.

    During the late 1980s one more term entered the lexicon, “global change.” This term encompassed many other kinds of change in addition to climate change. When it was approved in 1989, the U.S. climate research program was embedded as a theme area within the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

    But global warming became the dominant popular term in June 1988, when NASA scientist James E. Hansen had testified to Congress about climate, specifically referring to global warming. He said: “global warming has reached a level such that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause and effect relationship between the greenhouse effect and the observed warming.”  Hansen’s testimony was very widely reported in popular and business media, and after that popular use of the term global warming exploded. Global change never gained traction in either the scientific literature or the popular media.

    But temperature change itself isn’t the most severe effect of changing climate. Changes to precipitation patterns and sea level are likely to have much greater human impact than the higher temperatures alone. For this reason, scientific research on climate change encompasses far more than surface temperature change. So “global climate change” is the more scientifically accurate term. Like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we’ve chosen to emphasize global climate change on this website, and not global warming.

    Erik Conway
    Global Climate Change

    [Text, image, caption: NASA Earth Observatory; comment on UCS: FEWW]

    Posted in global climate change, IPCC, NASA Earth Observatory | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Images of the Day: Burning Coal

    Posted by feww on December 17, 2008

    Live by the coal, die by the coal.

    Lit, warmed, changed, soaked and choked by coal!

    The sun rises behind Fiddlers Ferry coal fired power station near Liverpool,
    northern England, December 15, 2008. REUTERS/Phil Noble. Image may be subject to copyright.

    Laborers search for usable coal at a cinder dump site near a power plant in Changzhi, Shanxi province December 15, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer.
    Image may be subject to copyright.

    Posted in Changzhi, china coalmines, Climate Change, coal dependency, greenhouse gasses | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

    Volcanoes Killed Off Dinosaurs

    Posted by feww on December 17, 2008

    Researchers say volcanism more likely caused K-T extinction; not asteroid impact

    Addressing the age-old question of what really happened to dinosaurs, researchers at Princeton University say they have found more evidence that it was volcanism, not an asteroid impact that killed them off.

    According to the asteroid-impact theory, put forward in 1980 by physicist Luis Walter Alvarez, the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction, or the K-T mass extinction, which killed off the dinosaurs and caused the extinction of about 70 percent of life on Earth, was caused by a massive impact.

    Artist’s rendering of bolide impact. Made by Fredrik. Cloud texture from public domain NASA image.

    The asteroid-impact theory is supported by Chicxulub crater in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, which was discovered by geophysicist Glen Penfield, while searching for oil. The 65-million year old crater occurred about the time of the K-T event.

    Other theories citing climate change and volcanism have been suggested more recently. Gerta Keller of Princeton University says her studies point the blame toward volcanism.

    The Deccan Traps

    An intense period of colossal volcanic eruptions, which began about 67 million years ago, earlier than the impact, was regarded as another potential culprit. The eruptions  formed the Deccan Traps in India.

    The Deccan Traps formed between 60 and 68 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous period. The bulk of the volcanic eruption occurred at the Western Ghats (near Mumbai) some 66 million years ago. This series of eruptions may have lasted fewer than 30,000 years in total. The gases released in the process may have played a role in the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event, which included the extinction of the dinosaurs. [Wikipedia]

    The Deccan Traps are a large igneous province located on the Deccan Plateau of west-central India (between 17-24N, 73-74E) and one of the largest volcanic features on Earth. They consist of multiple layers of solidified flood basalt that together are more than 2,000 m thick and cover an area of 500,000 km². The term ‘trap’, used in geology for such rock formations, is derived from the Swedish word for stairs (trappa, or sometimes trapp), referring to the step-like hills forming the landscape of the region.

    Before the Deccan Traps region was reduced to its current size by erosion and continental drift, it is estimated that the original area covered by the lava flows was as large as 1.5 million km², approximately half the size of modern India. The present volume of directly observable lava flows is estimated to be around 512,000 km³.

    The release of volcanic gases during the formation of the traps “contributed to an apparently massive global warming. Some data point to an average rise in temperature of 8 °C (14 °F) in the last half million years before the impact at Chicxulub.” [Wikipedia]

    Climate Change

    Extreme climate change may have been caused by both the bolide impact and the volcanic explosions; in either case  massive volumes of sulfur dioxide [creating acid rains,] dust and other particles into the atmosphere would have significantly altered the climate.

    In fact, some researchers believe a combination of events may have caused the mass extinction, with the asteroid impact finalizing the event.

    According to Keller, however, the asteroid-impact “theory is now facing perhaps it’s most serious challenge from the Deccan volcanism and perhaps the Chicxulub impact itself.” She said at a news conference at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Society in San Francisco.

    The Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event, which occurred approximately 65.5 million years ago (Ma), was a large-scale mass extinction of animal and plant species in a geologically short period of time. Widely known as the K–T extinction event, it is associated with a geological signature known as the K–T boundary, usually a thin band of sedimentation found in various parts of the world. K is the traditional abbreviation for the Cretaceous Period derived from the German name Kreidezeit, and T is the abbreviation for the Tertiary Period (a historical term for the period of time now covered by the Paleogene and Neogene periods). The event marks the end of the Mesozoic Era and the beginning of the Cenozoic Era.[1] “Tertiary” being discouraged as a formal time or rock unit by the International Commission on Stratigraphy, the K-T event is now called the Cretaceous—Paleogene (or K-Pg) extinction event by many researchers. [Wikipedia]

    Deccan Traps near Pune, state of Maharashtra in western India. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Credit: Kppethe.

    Keller and her colleagues have recently analyzed geological records in India, Mexico and Texas to  determine the time of impact and the period of volcanic activities in relation to the K-T event. Their examination of sediment layers suggests that the crater impact occurred about 300,000 years before the K-T boundary, and had little or no effects to biota.

    “There is essentially no extinction associated with the impact,” Keller said.

    On the other hand, the peak of the Deccan volcanic explosions seems to have occurred “just before the K-T boundary,” according to a University of Paris geophysicist, Vincent Courtillot.

    After the first volcanic flow, “the species disappear; we have essentially very few left [their recovery is stalled by the two subsequent flows and] by the fourth flow, the extinction is complete,” Keller said.

    Courtillot study compares the amounts of sulfur dioxide emitted to the atmosphere by various events as follows, concluding that the Deccan traps are much more likely to have caused the K-T event than the asteroid impact :

    • The 1991 Pinatubo eruption: 0.017 billion tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2)
    • The Chicxulub crater:  500 billion tons of SO2
    • The Deccan traps: 10,000 billion tons SO2.

    “If there had been no impact, we think there would have been a mass extinction anyway,” Courtillot said.

    Confirming Courtillot’ team and her own findings, Keller added: “Deccan volcanism is the likely culprit behind the K-T mass extinction.”

    Related Links:

    Posted in acid rain, Chicxulub crater, Gerta Keller, Vincent Courtillot, volcanism | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

    Floods leave 2.5% of Colombia’s population homeless

    Posted by feww on December 16, 2008

    Colombia’s Rainy Season Won’t Go Away!

    1 million people in 27 of Colombia’s 32 districts have been left homeless since mid-September

    At least 50,000 people in northern Colombia were left homeless Monday [Dec 15, 2008] after towns and villages were flooded by Magdalena River which broke through its dikes.

    In the town of Plato, 4,000 structures were flooded, and 50 houses were washed away, leaving 40,000 people homeless. Water reportedly reached the rooftops of many homes.

    “Everything is collapsing — the economic system, the health system, public services,” Mayor Jose Rosales Cortina told reporters.

    “We need help,” one anguished woman said on the newscast. “Don’t you see that the town is totally flooded? We don’t have anything in this town. No one helps us here.”

    “The water roared. It roared,” said a resident. “The current took you away. You couldn’t hold onto anything. It took away eight houses here.”

    “The furniture, the bed, the television, everything is under water,” another resident said.

    The Colombian Civil Defense said about 1 million people [2.5% of Colombia’s 44.6 million population] have been left homeless since mid-September, the beginning of Colombia’s rainy season, which has lasted longer than usual.

    Officials also said flooding has killed 67 people and injured 94 this year, with 18 people missing in 27 departments. Colombia has 32 Departments, or official administrative districts.

    Related Links:

    Posted in Bolivar, El Tiempo, Plato, Regidor, Valle de Cauca | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Orchids from ‘Hell’ for Obama Inauguration

    Posted by feww on December 15, 2008

    news submitted by Te2Ataria

    Green President, green jobs, green energy; orange, pink and red orchids from 14,400 km (9,000 mi) away

    A few orchids too far: The compassionate, environmentally conscious President-elect Obama will have orchids flown in from half away across the world for his inauguration

    Barely days after President-elect Obama met with the former Vice-president Gore [the man who would have been a president,] to discuss the environmental imperatives of green jobs, energy and economy, it has been revealed that he will have orchids flown in from New Zealand for his inauguration on January 20, 2009.

    Importing orchids from New Zealand: Flying in the face of environmental commonsense!

    Thousands of stems of Disa orchids in a mixture of oranges, pinks and reds will be flown in to Washington DC within 24 hours of being cut in Taranaki, New Zealand.

    The total weight of the consignment remains undisclosed, so we haven’t been able  to calculate the carbon footprint for the “orchid orgy.”

    However,  each kilogram (2.2 lbs.) of goods flown from Taranaki (Wellington), New Zealand, to Washington DC, a total distance of about 14,400km  (9,000 miles), produces about 100kg (220 lbs.) of greenhouse gases (CO2e).  [The total amount of emission (kg) is equal to the gross weight of the orchids consignment (kg) multiplied by 100.]

    The orchid grower, Mrs Coils, said if she lived in the US she would have voted for Obama. Bet you would, Mrs Coils!

    President-elect Obama’s inauguration carbon footprint, Disa orchids, exotic chow, cocktails, security and all,  estimated at $100million, may exceed 58,400 metric tons of CO2.

    On the eve of a major ecological collapse, and at a time when so many Americans live on the precipice of abject poverty, would a caring President-elect indulge in such unbridled extravagance?

    Orchids from New Zealand? Yes, sure, why not? Go ahead! No one is looking, Mr President-elect.

    Related Links:

    Posted in CO2 pollution, green energy, green jobs, Inauguration Carbon footprint, JAMES HANSEN | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

    Ice storm paralyzes northeast US

    Posted by feww on December 14, 2008

    Massive ice storm knocks out power to 1.4 million homes and businesses across seven states

    Felled branches lay on Brattle Street in Worcester yesterday after the ice storm. Governor Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts. (JOHN TLUMACKI/GLOBE STAFF). Image may be subject to copyright.

    A powerful ice storm has knocked out power to 1.4 million homes and businesses across  seven states in New England, forcing the state of Maine to shut government offices.

    States of emergency have been declared in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and in parts of Maine and New York state.

    “This is a very, very serious situation right now,” New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch said after declaring an emergency in his state, in what the authorities described as the worst outages in 30 years.

    The storm has killed at least 4 people so far and caused tens of millions of dollars in damage across northeast United States.

    Posted in Connecticut Light & Power, Extreme weather events, National Grid, New York, Rhode Island | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Major Earthquakes Increase 47 % in 3 Decades

    Posted by feww on December 13, 2008

    Worldwide Earthquakes [Magnitude 6 to 9.9] have increased by 47 percent in under 3 decades

    A total of  1,085 earthquakes measuring magnitude 6 or greater occurred between 1980 to 1989, averaging 109 per year over the decade. In the 1990s the decadal total increased to 1,492 averaging at 149 major earthquake  per year over the period.

    Since January 1, 2000 [ see table below for the date and time] a total of 1,438 major earthquakes have so far occurred worldwide raising the annual total over the last 9 years to 160 with more than 12 and a half months to go to the decade’s end.

    The increase from 109 to 160 major earthquakes per year in the 1980 to 2008 period translates to a rise  of 47 percent in just under three decades.

    Major Worldwide Earthquakes [Magnitude 6 to 9.9] – 1980 to 2008 – Source of data: USGS.

    Other Data

    With an estimated total death toll of 88,072 [as of Dec 3, 2008,] this year has seen the second worst number of human casualties caused by earthquakes since 1980. The largest earthquake/ tsunami related casualties for the 29-year period occurred in 2004 with an estimated total of 228,802 deaths.  [The stats are based on USGS data.

    Related Links:

    Posted in Earthquake Information, geology, Seismology, Subduction, Tectonic Boundaries | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

    Landslides continue wreaking havoc in Colombia, Indonesia…

    Posted by feww on December 12, 2008

    Colombia devastated by heavy rain worsened by indiscriminate deforestation

    “The problem is not nature; nature is not deliberately out to get anyone” —Meteorologist

    Colombia’s rainy season has already seen 600 disasters caused by gale-force winds and heavy rainfall. Rivers have burst their banks, and landslides and avalanches of all kinds have occurred, said meteorologist Max Henríquez.

    The rainy season began in September and normally continues to mid-December, because of La Niña. “Throughout 2007 and for several months this year we have experienced this climate phenomenon, caused by the cooling of the surface waters in the Pacific ocean, which brings above normal rainfall,” he said.

    The National Disaster Prevention and Response System (SNPAD) reported 50 people killed, 85 injured, nine missing and 735,000 left homeless as a result of the flooding and landslide.

    “The problem is not nature; nature is not deliberately out to get anyone, as some people think. Human beings are the problem, because we don’t do the right things,” Henríquez said.

    “Cutting down trees in the river basins means that the rains are not contained, but sweep down rapidly into streams and rivers, which rise and overflow. Deforestation causes problems by accelerating the water cycle on land,” he said.

    Who is responsible for Colombia’s deforestation?

    It seems just about everyone! The expert believes those responsible for uncontrolled deforestation include

    • Coca farmers
    • Home builders  (building luxury 2nd homes in the forests)
    • Campesinos, or small farmers who fell trees for firewood
    • Carpenters who use illegally logged trees to make furniture
    • Especially, cattle ranchers extending their pasture lands

    “Sixty percent of deforestation in Colombia is due to cattle ranching,” the meteorologist said. The additional demand for agricultural land has resulted in the loss of 312,000 hectares of forests since about 1990, while illegal crops like coca and opium poppies have invaded another 30,000 hectares.

    “‘The relatively young geological age of the Andes mountain chain’ is also a factor in disasters, with its propensity to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, and so is poverty, as people with no other options settle in places unsuitable for habitation, and the ambition and greed of construction firms that do not carry out the necessary studies and build in an irresponsible manner.”  IPS reported.

    In El Poblado, Medellín’s most exclusive district, a landslide buried 10 people and six houses under 65,000 cubic meter of earth on Nov. 16, 2008.

    Many of Colombia’s cities are built on unstable soil. Those include “Manizales, the capital of the central province of Caldas, Armenia, the capital of nearby Quindío province, and even Bogotá,” Henríquez said. The risks are ever-increasing, “although they would diminish if the proper controls were in place,” he said.

    Botanist Jesús Orlando Rangel, of the National University of Colombia’s Institute of Science, estimates that Colombia is losing 598,000 hectares of forest every year.
    putting 500 species under threat. The Alexander von Humboldt Institute, however, estimates the endangered plants at
    2,500 species.

    “Species unique to the high altitude grasslands are also suffering harm, such as flowering bushes and spongy mosses which grow only one centimetre a year. This vital but fragile ecosystem is being encroached on by coal mining, potato growing and cattle grazing. ”

    “The situation is terrible for any country, but more so for Colombia, which possibly has the richest biodiversity in the world, but the government doesn’t take proper preservation measures,” Rangel said.

    “The National University’s Institute of Science has been working for over 60 years, without resources and with great difficulties, but all the Environment Ministry does is repeat our work, instead of devoting itself to compiling the information and enforcing regulations. It omits the most important thing, which is monitoring,” the expert said.

    Landslide buries affluent estate north of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    Landslide in an affluent hillside suburb north of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s largest city killed four people, injuring at least 15 more with one person, a Sri Lankan maid, reported missing. The land slide reportedly buried several housing states destroying dozens of homes, and forcing thousands of people to flee. Source

    Soldiers help survivors of a landslide in Kuala Lumpur December 7, 2008. A landslide killed four people in a suburb of the Malaysian capital early on Saturday, tearing down houses and forcing the evacuation of thousands of people, police and local media said. REUTERS/Zainal Abd Halim (MALAYSIA). Image may be subject to copyright.

    More than 15,000 people flee homes after floods in Aceh, Indonesia

    More than 15,000 people have escaped their homes Thursday, as consecutive days of torrential rains caused floods in southern parts of Aceh province, according to local authorities. The rains caused the overflowing of some riverbanks, submerging 3,532 houses since Dec. 5.  Xinhua reported.

    Head of Indonesian Health Ministry’s crisis center said that the rain had also caused some landslides in the area, but no casualties have yet been reported. Indonesia has been frequently hit by floods and landslide due to deforestation. Illegal logging and land use change, clearing forests  to  plant crops, especially for biofuel, are responsible forthe deforestation.

    Aceh tsunami in December 2004 claimed at least 170,000 lives. detailed map of Indonesia. PDF file

    Landslide buried at least 15 people in Indonesia: Red Cross

    Rescue crews have recovered five bodies, and 10 people remain missing, said Heri Hidayat, a Red Cross coordinator. The landslide happened in Cianjur, a town in the province of West Java, after days of torrential rain. Mud buried about 54 houses, and authorities have evacuated 351 people. Source

    Since January 2008, floods and landslides have killed several thousand people, destroyed thousands of homes, displacing more than a million people.

    Related Links:

    Posted in Andes mountain chain, Armenia, cattle ranching, Medellín, mudslides | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »