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 November 5th, 2013

Insane India?

Posted by feww on November 5, 2013

India launches a rocket to Mars

Critics of India’s Mars mission, which cost the country 4.5 billion-rupee ($73 million), say India can ill-afford to spend any money on space programs when about 70 percent of the nation’s 1.2 billion people live on less than $2 a day.

India’s Prime Minister Singh says he’s counting on the space program to yield technological advances that boost his country’s development prospects.

“Questions are sometimes asked about whether a poor country like India can afford a space program and whether the funds spent on space exploration, albeit modest, could be better utilized elsewhere,” said Singh last year. “This misses the point that a nation’s state of development is finally a product of its technological prowess.”

“India is home to poor people but it’s also an emerging economy, it’s a middle-income country, it’s a member of the G20. What is hard for people to get their head around is that we are home to poverty but also a global power,” chief executive of Oxfam in India told Bbc.

“We are not really one country but two in one. And we need to do both things: contribute to global knowledge as well as take care of poor people at home.”

It would be interesting to find out the cost of upkeep of Oxfam in India as a percentage of total funds donated!

Space Program Annual Expenditures

  • India:  $1.5 billion
  • Japan: $3.3 billion
  • Untied States: $17.9 billion

Mars Mission Stats

  • Japan’s mission to send a satellite to orbit the Red Planet failed in 1998.
  • China’s probe to Mars was destroyed in 2011.
  • About 50 percent of all attempts to reach Mars have failed.
  • India and China became competitors in the space race in the late 1990s.
  • The 780-million km journey to Mars would take about 300 days.

Related Links

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“Spooky” Disease Turning Starfish to “Slime”

Posted by feww on November 5, 2013

“Star wasting disease” hits dozens of coastal sites from southeast Alaska to Orange County, California

The spooky disease is causing record numbers of the marine animals to lose their limbs and turn to slime in a matter of days along the U.S. West Coast, said a report.

“It’s pretty spooky because we don’t have any obvious culprit for the root cause even though we know it’s likely caused by a pathogen,” said Pete Raimondi, chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California at Santa Cruz’s Long Marine Lab.

star wasting disease
Star wasting disease. Image credit: Pacific Rocky Intertidal Monitoring program at the University of California at Santa Cruz. More images …

Sea star wasting disease is a general description of a set of symptoms that are found in sea stars.  Typically, lesions appear in the ectoderm followed by decay of tissue surrounding the lesions, which leads to eventual fragmentation of the body and death.  A deflated appearance can precede other morphological signs of the disease.  All of these symptoms are also associated with ordinary attributes of unhealthy stars and can arise when an individual is stranded too high in the intertidal zone (for example) and simply desiccates,”  according to a report by the Pacific Rocky Intertidal Monitoring Program at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

“True” wasting disease will be present in individuals that are found in suitable habitat, often in the midst of other individuals that might also be affected.  The progression of wasting disease can be rapid, leading to death within a few days, and its effects can be devastating on seastar populations. The proximal cause of the disease, when pathological studies have been done, is typically a bacterium (vibrio), although a recent wasting event on the east coast of the United States has been attributed to a virus.  The ultimate cause is not clear although such events are often associated with warmer than typical water temperatures as was the case for the major die off in southern California in 1983-1984 and again (on a lesser scale) in 1997-98. Following the 1983-1984 event, the ochre star, Pisaster ochraceus, was virtually absent along southern California shorelines for years.

Wasting in Pisaster ochraceus from Alaska through California

As of Summer, 2013, there is evidence that we are at the onset of another Wasting event and one that is particularly troubling because of its spatial extent. MARINe monitoring groups have documented Wasting in Pisaster ochraceus from Alaska through California (see interactive map for specific locations).  Two common attributes for many of the sites are: (1) the period prior to Wasting was characterized by warm water temperatures, and (2) the effects are dramatic.

The current outbreak killed up to 95 percent of hundreds of starfish in a tide pool in Santa Cruz, the report quoted Raimondi as saying.

At least 10 species of sea stars have shown signs of the disease since June, this year, said Raimondi, adding that he was unable to estimate how many millions of starfish on the West Coast might be affected.

“We’re way at the onset now, so we just don’t know how bad it’s going to get,” he said.

Pisaster ochraceus feed on mussels thus managing the growth of the species in the ocean, which would otherwise multiply out of control and disrupt biodiversity.

Recent Links to Marine Die-offs

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DR Congo Emergency

Posted by feww on November 5, 2013

Entire Population Flee DRC Town Amid Fighting

More than 800,000 people have fled their homes since fighting began in March 2012

In eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the entire population of Bunagana town, bordering Uganda, has fled fighting between government and rebel forces, residents were quoted as saying.

Fresh fighting erupted between Congolese government troops and rebel fighters, forcing about 10,000 people flee their  homes in Bunagana, the main base of the rebels called the “M23 movement” on the DR Congo-Uganda border, according to UNHCR.

new drc arrivals in uganda--
New arrivals in Uganda at the Bunagana crossing point. Since Friday, more than 10,000 people have crossed through Bunagana, according to UNHCR figures. News reports said the government had captured Bunagana today, but aid workers heard sound of gunfire and explosions before leaving the border area for security reasons and before an air attack left people injured inside Uganda. Source: UNHCR/OPM

More than 56,000 Congolese from eastern provinces of the DRC have arrived in Uganda, so far this year, said UNHCR. Congolese refugees make up 65 per cent of the entire refugee population of 234,000 in Uganda alone.

“Eastern DR Congo has been wracked by conflict since 1994, when Hutu militias fled across the border from Rwanda after carrying out a genocide against Tutsis and moderate Hutus,” said a report.

Located in central Africa, DRC is the largest country in Sub-Saharan Africa the 11th largest country in the world, with an area of 2,345,409 km2, and has a population of about 75 million.

The Second Congo War has devastated the country since 1998. The war also known as the “African world war” has involved nine countries and more than twenty armed groups.

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