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Archive for January 12th, 2010

El Niño Weekly Update [11 Jan 2010]

Posted by feww on January 12, 2010

ENSO Cycle: Recent Evolution, Current Status and Predictions

El Niño Weekly UPDATE prepared by Climate Prediction Center / NCEP –  11 January 2010

The latest weekly SST departures are:

  • Niño 4   ~  1.5ºC
  • Niño 3.4  ~  1.8ºC
  • Niño 3 ~ 1.2ºC
  • Niño 1+2 ~ 0.3ºC

El Niño Map. [SOURCE: NOAA/ Climate Prediction Center / NCEP

SST Departures (°C) in the Tropical Pacific During the Last 4 Weeks

During the last 4-weeks, equatorial SSTs were more than 2.0°C above average in regions east of the Date Line.

Global SST Departures (°C)

During the last four weeks, equatorial SSTs were above-average across the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Also, above-average SSTs covered large areas of the Northern Hemisphere subtropics.

Unless otherwise stated, information and images on this page are sourced from Climate Prediction Center/NCEP/NOAA. Edited by FEWW


  • El Niño is present across the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
  • Sea surface temperatures (SST) are 1.0ºC to 3.0ºC above-average across much of the central and east-central equatorial Pacific.
  • Based on current observations and dynamical model forecasts, El Niño is expected to continue at least into the Northern Hemisphere spring 2010.

For additional information, previous entries and diagrams see links below:

Related Links:

El Niño Updates:

Posted in Climate Prediction, El Niño, El Niño 2010, El Niño update 2010, ENSO | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Little Lead Likely Damage Kids’ kidneys

Posted by feww on January 12, 2010

News Release by: Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

Small amounts of lead may damage children’s kidneys

[EVEN] Small amounts of lead in the bodies of healthy children and teens — amounts well below the levels defined as “concerning” by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — may worsen kidney function, according to a Johns Hopkins Children’s Center study published in the Jan. 11 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

In 1991, the CDC reduced the lead level “of concern” for children from 30 micrograms to 10 micrograms per deciliter of blood, but the Johns Hopkins findings suggest that even levels below 10 present a health risk, providing the first evidence that lead levels that low may impair kidney function.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to show that very low levels of lead may impact kidney function in healthy children, which underscores the need to minimize sources of lead exposure,” says lead investigator Jeffrey Fadrowski, M.D. M.H.S., a pediatric nephrologist at Hopkins Children’s.

The Johns Hopkins team cautions that their findings present only a snapshot of kidney status and lead levels, and do not offer definitive proof of cause and effect between the two. But the scientists say their findings are worrisome and emphasize the urgent need for studies that track lead levels and kidney function over time to better understand the interplay between the two.

“Our findings were particularly striking because we saw slightly decreased kidney function in healthy children without conditions that could account for it, and this could spell more kidney trouble down the road as these children get older or if they acquire additional risk factors for kidney disease, such as high blood pressure and diabetes,” says Susan Furth, M.D. Ph.D., senior investigator on the study and a pediatric nephrologist at Hopkins Children’s.

Of the 769 healthy children and teens in the study, ages 12 to 20, more than 99 percent had lead levels below 10, with an average level of 1.5 micrograms per deciliter. Those with lead levels in the upper quarter of the normal range appeared to have worse kidney function than children with lower lead levels. Kidney function is defined by the speed with which the kidneys filter the blood. Those with lead levels above 2.9 had a kidney filtration rate 6.6 units (milliliters of blood filtered per minute and adjusted for body size) lower than children whose lead levels were below 1 microgram per deciliter. Researchers also found that for each twofold increase in the amount of lead in the blood, the kidney’s filtration capacity dropped by 2.3 units in males and by 3.3 in females. The link between higher lead levels and worse kidney function persisted even after investigators eliminated high blood pressure — less than 5 percent of those in the study had it — as a possible factor affecting kidney status.

In the current study, the investigators measured kidney function by estimating the kidneys’ filtering capacity, called glomerular filtration rate (GFR), using two tests: a standard creatinine test, which measures the speed with which the kidneys filter out creatinine from the blood, and a newer test that measures how fast the kidneys filter out the protein cystatin C. Cystatin C is believed to be a more accurate gauge because, unlike creatinine, which can fluctuate depending on muscle mass and other factors, its levels are more stable. Indeed, the differences in kidney function were far more pronounced when the researchers looked at cystatin C and not as significant when they applied the standard creatinine test. The investigators say this could mean that past studies that have used creatinine tests may have underestimated the true effect of lead on kidney function.

Lead exposure is a well-established risk factor for neurological damage and developmental delays in children, while chronic exposure to high lead levels is a well-known cause of chronic kidney disease in adults. Despite the elimination of lead from gasoline and paint, most Americans still have detectable lead levels in the blood. The mean blood lead levels in the 12-to-19-year-olds were 1.5 micrograms per deciliter in 1991 to 1994 and 1.1 micrograms per deciliter from 1999 to 2000, researchers say.

Current exposure sources include lead paint, folk remedies, glazed pottery, soil and drinking water in some urban areas with older housing.

Chronic kidney disease affects 26 million people in the United States.


Co-investigators include Ana Navas-Acien, M.D. Ph.D.; Maria Tellez-Plaza, M.D. M.P.H.; Eliseo Guallar, M.D. Dr.PH; and Virginia Weaver, M.D., M.P.H., all of Hopkins.

The research was funded by the National Kidney Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Related on the Web:

High Blood Pressure Easy to Miss in Children with Kidney Disease

Black Kids with High Blood Pressure at Higher Risk for Heart Disease

Researchers Find New Way to Gauge Kidney Function In Kids

Contact: Ekaterina Pesheva
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

Posted in kidney damage in kids, kidney health | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

In Mosquito Lagoon everything’s dead, even alligators

Posted by feww on January 12, 2010

Cold SW Florida Waters Kill Thousands of Snook

Florida’s record-low temperatures are proving deadly not only for crops, but game fish, too.

Cold water has killed thousands of snook, one of Florida’s most popular game fish, with many other fish species expected to perish soon, News-Press reported.

“There’s a reason snook’s general distribution doesn’t go north of Tampa,” the report quoted the head of Mote Marine Laboratory’s Charlotte Harbor Field Station as saying.

“This kind of cold can put a hurt on the snook population. A lot of people are reporting large fish, and that could affect the spawning stock.”

“Snook are extremely sensitive to the cold: Lethal water temperatures are 48.2 to 57.2 degrees for juvenile snook and 42.8 to 53.6 degrees for adults.” the report said, adding that the water temperatures reached lows of 47.2 at Shell Point and 46 at Blind Pass, Monday morning.

Dead snook have been found at Captiva, North Captiva, North Fort Myers, Pine Island, Sanibel,  Oak Hill near New Smyrna Beach, the Indian River Lagoon, Waccasassa Bay near Cedar Key, Mosquito Lagoon (north of Cape Canaveral), and Tampa Bay, the report said.

“I just talked to a guide who fishes Mosquito Lagoon, north of Cape Canaveral, and he said everything’s dead, even alligators … This is a dramatic event. It could take snook five years to recover from it.”The report quoted Rick Roberts, executive director of the Snook Foundation, as saying.

Dead cowfish, filefish, gag grouper, hardhead catfish, mojarra, mullet and tarpon have also been found by marine researchers at Tarpon Bay, the report said.

Read the full report HERE.

‘Florida agriculture has an economic impact over $87 billion annually.’

“From our citrus groves, to our fields to our tropical fish ponds, initial reports indicate we seen some of the most damaging weather Florida’s experienced in more than a decade,” Republican Rep. Adam Putnam of Bartow

Read Putnam letter to Agriculture Secretary HERE.

Posted in Cape Canaveral, dead fish, Mosquito Lagoon, Snook Foundation, Tarpon Bay | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

BAT: Corporate Profits Over Public Health

Posted by feww on January 12, 2010

Released by: Public Library of SciencePLoS Medicine

British American Tobacco helped shape European policy system favoring corporate profits over public health

British American Tobacco (BAT), the world’s second largest tobacco transnational, strategically influenced the European Union’s framework for evaluating policy options, leading to the acceptance of an agenda which emphasizes business interests over public health, according to a study published in PLoS Medicine.

By law, virtually all new policies proposed in the European Union (EU) must undergo an “impact assessment” (IA): a review of the potential economic, social, and environmental consequences. The outcome of such review is heavily influenced by the type of impact assessment tool used. IA tools focusing on economic impacts, for example, tend to favor regulation increasing business profits, even if such policies undermine general public health. Independent experts have suggested that the EU’s current IA tool, which focuses heavily on economic impacts, does not adequately take policies’ health impacts into account.

Now, this new PLoS Medicine article provides evidence that BAT, working with companies from other sectors (including chemical, oil and food companies), played a key role in shaping the EU’s current business-oriented IA system.

Dr Katherine Smith and colleagues (University of Bath; University of Edinburgh) analyzed over 700 internal BAT documents containing information on BAT’s attempts to influence European regulatory reform, and interviewed relevant European policymakers and lobbyists. They found that BAT created a policy network comprised of representatives from a number of large corporations involved in marketing products that are damaging to public health and the environment, to promote a lobbying campaign to alter EU policymaking rules. The campaign resulted in specific changes to the EU Treaty calling for policymakers to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses, ultimately fostering the current system of business-oriented IA, which may well stall or even prevent future EU public health regulations, say the authors. Moreover, the authors report that EU officials were often unaware of the magnitude of BAT’s influence—presumably due to the latter’s creation of a policy network and the campaign’s use of third parties, such as think tanks and consultancy companies.

The authors suggest that BAT and its corporate allies laid the groundwork for a policy evaluation system in the EU which emphasizes corporate interests over citizens’ health. Increased transparency, awareness of corporations’ policy influence and greater understanding of the IA system are thus needed to ensure that EU policies required to protect public health continue to emerge.




Contact: Andrew Hyde
Public Library of Science

Posted in Corporate Profits, EU policy impact assessment, PLoS Medicine, public health | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sarah Palin Joins TV Network for Mentally Challenged

Posted by feww on January 12, 2010

Submitted by a reader in Oregon

Animal Killer Sarah Palin Signs on as a Commentator with Fox ‘News’

Former governor of Alaska and the mother of Bristol Palin has joined the Fox ‘News’ Channel as a commentator, reports said.

Oil and Gas Republican Sarah [‘the Lord is coming soon’] Palin, who unsuccessfully ran for the post of vice-president in the 2008 election, and resigned as Alaska governor in July 2009, is hitting the make-believe news network scene.

[Just before this woman shot me, I was alive and well, looking forward to running around with my kids all day.] A video tribute to Sarah Palin at the Republican convention was titled “Mother, Moose Hunter, Maverick.” The word “murderer” was intentionally removed. Photo: AP. Image may be subject to copyright. Click image to enlarge.

Mrs Palin, said to be incapable of stringing a full sentence together, would start as a freshman on the channel [presumably to comment on the sports news,] Australian- owned Fox ‘News,’ said, refusing to divulge financial details of the 3-year deal.

“I am thrilled to be joining the great talent and management team at Fox News,” Mrs Palin said in a statement posted on the network’s website.

“It’s wonderful to be part of a place that so values fair and balanced news.”

“[Mrs Palin] captivated everyone on both sides of the political spectrum”. Fox’s executive vice-president for programming, Bill Shine, said, forgetting to mention Alaska’s Russian speaking neighbors.

“We are excited to add her dynamic voice to the Fox News line-up,” he boasted.

In addition to her commentary chores, Palin would occasionally host a program featuring  “inspirational tales involving ordinary Americans.” The Washington Post reported.

Asked how she would qualify  as a commentator despite her legendary public displays of total ignorance on political, geographical, environmental, social and parental issues, Mrs Palin is believed to have cited her previous TV experience when she worked part-time as a sports presenter for the KTUU station in Anchorage, Alaska in the 1980s.

When badgered for an opinion, a senior FOX network executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, is believed to have said: “Hey Fux! This is all a load of make-believe crock, what did you expect from Crocodile Dundee network?”

Related Links:

Posted in big oil, Fox 'News', FOX network, FOX TV, sarah palin | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Give Steelhead a Chance

Posted by feww on January 12, 2010

NOAA and Calif Officials Say They’ve Agreed to Remove San Clemente Dam

The move is expected to eliminate safety hazard and restore Steelhead habitat

NOAA News Release

NOAA joined state and local officials today in a pledge to remove the San Clemente Dam to eliminate a threat to the lives and property of those along California’s lower Carmel River, and help restore the watershed for federally protected steelhead trout.

San Clemente Concrete Monstrosity on Carmel River, California. Photo Credit: NOAA

The 89-year old, 106-foot high dam, which once helped bring water to residents of Monterey County, is at risk of failing during a significant earthquake or flood. Sediment has been building up behind the dam for years, making it a hazard for those living below it and almost useless as a water storage reservoir. If the dam were to fail, an estimated 2½ million cubic yards of sediment and more than 40 million gallons of water could rush downstream with potentially disastrous consequences.

The dam removal will also aid in the recovery of steelhead trout by opening up access to more than 25 square miles of spawning and rearing habitat. Steelhead in Carmel River were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1997.

“The removal of the San Clemente Dam will help restore richness to the entire ecosystem of the Carmel River while eliminating this major safety threat to the people and their property along it,” said Rodney McInnis, NOAA’s Fisheries Service southwest regional administrator. “The dam removal is vital to the recovery of this important steelhead trout run.”

San Clemente Dam on Carmel River, CA, after rainfall.
Credit NOAA (High Resolution.)

According to the agreement signed today, NOAA, the California State Coastal Conservancy and California American Water will work along with other federal, state and local organizations to develop a project plan for the Carmel River Reroute and San Clemente Dam Removal Project by November. The dam removal itself may take place as early as 2012.

The total cost for the project is currently estimated at about $85 million. According to the agreement, California American Water will pay approximately $50 million, while the California State Coastal Conservancy, with assistance from NOAA, will secure the additional $35 million from state, federal and private funding sources by the end of the year.

“The San Clemente Dam Removal Project presents a unique opportunity for public and private interests to work together to realize public benefits far beyond what either could achieve working alone,” states Sam Schuchat, executive officer of the California State Coastal Conservancy.

Posted in Carmel River, Endangered Species Act, Monterey county, San Clemente Dam, Steelhead | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »