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« Reply #555 on: Jul 13, 2013, 07:59 AM »

Health officials confirm deadly flu-like MERS virus jumped from Saudi Arabia to the UAE

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, July 12, 2013 15:43 EDT

Health authorities in the UAE have announced that an 82-year-old man has been diagnosed with the MERS coronavirus infection, the first case to be recorded in the Gulf state.

The Emirati citizen who contracted the SARS-like virus suffers from cancer and is being treated in hospital in the capital, Abu Dhabi health authority said in a statement carried by WAM state news agency late Thursday.

The authority said that this was the first case to be diagnosed in the United Arab Emirates.

In May, France said a 65-year-old man was in hospital after being diagnosed with the coronavirus after a holiday in Dubai. But the UAE health ministry said at the time no cases of the virus had been recorded in the country.

Experts are struggling to understand MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, which has mostly affected neighbouring Saudi Arabia where 65 cases have been detected, including 38 fatalities.

The World Health Organisation announced last week that it had convened emergency talks on the MERS virus.

Concerns have been expressed about the potential impact of October’s hajj pilgrimage, when millions of Muslims from around the globe head to and from Saudi Arabia.

The WHO has not recommended any MERS-related travel restrictions, but says countries should monitor unusual respiratory infection patterns.

The first recorded MERS death was in June last year in Saudi Arabia.

Like SARS, MERS appears to cause a lung infection, with patients suffering from fever, coughing and breathing difficulties. But it differs in that it also causes rapid kidney failure.
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« Reply #556 on: Jul 14, 2013, 07:10 AM »

July 13, 2013

City in Russia Unable to Kick Asbestos Habit

By ANDREW E. KRAMER
IHT

ASBEST, Russia — This city of about 70,000 people on the eastern slopes of the Ural Mountains is a pleasant enough place to live except for one big drawback: when the wind picks up, clouds of carcinogenic dust blow through.

Asbest means asbestos in Russian, and it is everywhere here. Residents describe layers of it collecting on living room floors. Before they take in the laundry from backyard lines, they first shake out the asbestos. “When I work in the garden, I notice asbestos dust on my raspberries,” said Tamara A. Biserova, a retiree. So much dust blows against her windows, she said, that “before I leave in the morning, I have to sweep it out.”

The town is one center of Russia’s asbestos industry, which is stubbornly resistant to shutting asbestos companies and phasing in substitutes for the cancer-causing fireproofing product.

In the United States and most developed economies, asbestos is handled with extraordinary care. Until the 1970s, the fibrous, silicate mineral was used extensively in fireproofing and insulating buildings in America, among other uses, but growing evidence of respiratory ailments due to asbestos exposure led to limits. Laws proscribe its use and its disposal and workers who get near it wear ventilators and protective clothes. The European Union and Japan have also banned asbestos. (A town called Asbestos in Quebec, Canada, has stopped mining asbestos, though it hasn’t changed its name.)

But not here, where every weekday afternoon miners set explosions in a strip mine owned by the Russian mining company Uralasbest. The blasts send huge plumes of asbestos fiber and dust into the air. Asbest is one of the more extreme examples of the environmental costs of modern Russia’s deep reliance on mining.

“Every normal person is trying to get out of here,” Boris Balobanov, a former factory employee, now a taxi driver, explained. “People who value their lives leave. But I was born here and have no place else to go.”

Of the half-dozen people interviewed who worked at the factory or mine, all had a persistent cough, a symptom of exposure to what residents call “the white needles.” Residents also describe strange skin ailments. Doctors interviewed at a dermatology ward say the welts arise from inflammation caused by asbestos.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is a branch of the World Health Organization, is in the midst of a multiyear study of asbestos workers in Asbest. Because of the large number of people exposed in the city, the researchers are using the location to determine whether the asbestos causes ailments other than lung cancer, including ovarian cancer. “All forms of asbestos are carcinogenic to humans,” the group said.

Standing on the rim of the world’s largest open pit asbestos mine provides a panoramic scene. Opened in the late 1800s, it is about half the size of the island of Manhattan and the source of untold tons of asbestos. The pit descends about 1,000 feet down slopes created by terraced access roads. Big mining trucks haul out fibrous, gray, raw asbestos.

The Uralasbest mine is so close by that a few years ago the mayor’s office and the company relocated residents from one outlying area to expand its gaping pit.

So entwined is the life of the town with this pit that many newlyweds pose on a viewing platform on the rim to have their pictures taken. The city has a municipal anthem called “Asbestos, my city and my fate.” In 2002, the City Council adopted a new flag: white lines, symbolizing asbestos fibers, passing through a ring of flame. A billboard put up by Uralasbest in Asbest proclaims “Asbestos is our Future.”

The class-action lawsuits that demolished asbestos companies in the United States are not possible in Russia’s weak judicial system, which favors powerful producers. Russia, which has the world’s largest geological reserves of asbestos, mines about 850,000 tons of asbestos a year and exports about 60 percent of it. Demand is still strong for asbestos in China and India, where it is used in insulation and building materials. The Russian Chrysotile Association, an asbestos industry trade group, reports that annual sales total about 18 billion rubles, or $540 million. And the business is growing, mostly because other countries are getting out of the business. Russian output rose from 875,000 tons in 2005 to a million last year.

The mine and the factory Uralasbest owns are the principal employers. The town depends on the jobs that mining asbestos and making asbestos products bring. Nationwide, the industry employs 38,500 Russians directly while about 400,000 people depend on the factories and mines for their livelihood, if supporting businesses in the mining towns are counted. About 17 percent of Asbest residents work in the industry.

Asbest is a legacy of the philosophy known as gigantism in Soviet industrial planning. Many cities wound up with only one, huge factory like this town’s sprawling asbestos plant. The cities, known as monotowns, were an important engine of the economy. A Russian government study counted 467 cities and 332 smaller towns that depend on a single factory or mine. A total of 25 million people out of Russia’s population of 142 million people live in towns with only one main industry that cannot close, even if it is polluting.

In a sign of just how scarce other employment options are in Asbest, a guard requires cars leaving the factory to open their trunks, lest anyone try to steal scrap metal for resale. That is about the only other way to make a meager living in Russia’s old industrial towns.

The trade association says that the type of asbestos mined in Russia, called chrysotile, is less harmful than other types. The United States, though, has tightly restricted its use. The country imports about 1,000 tons of asbestos, mainly from Brazil, for use in aerospace and automotive industries for items like clutch pads. “They consider it dangerous but we consider it safe,” said the association’s spokesman, Vladimir A. Galitsyn. Russia has three research institutes dedicated to studying uses for asbestos.

“As a representative of the industry, I don’t see any problem,” he said. Properly handled, asbestos is safe, he said, and it saves lives in fires. “We are not the enemy of our workers. If they died, then people would be afraid to work for us.”

Valentin K. Zemskov, 82, worked at the mine for 40 years and developed asbestosis, a respiratory illness caused by breathing in asbestos fibers, which scar lung tissue. “There was so much dust you couldn’t see a man standing next to you,” he said of his working years. For the disability, the factory adds 4,500 rubles, or about $135, to his monthly retirement check, which would be enough to cover only a few restaurant meals.

Still, he said the city had no other choice. “If we didn’t have the factory, how would we live?” he said, gasping for air as he talked in the yard of a retirement home. “We need to keep it open so we have jobs.”

A monument to residents who died was made, grimly, of a block of asbestos ore, with the inscription “Live and Remember.”

“Of course asbestos dust covers our city,” said Nina A. Zubkova, another resident of the retirement home. “Why do you think the city is named Asbest?”


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« Reply #557 on: Jul 15, 2013, 06:49 AM »

‘Radioactivity found in Swiss lake’ near nuclear plant

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, July 14, 2013 11:45 EDT

Scientists have discovered a radioactive substance in sediment under a Swiss lake used for drinking water and situated near a nuclear plant, the Le Matin Dimanche weekly reported Sunday.

While scientists cited in the report stressed there was no danger to human health, the discovery raises concerns about safety practices and a lack of transparency at the Muehleberg nuclear plant in northwestern Switzerland.

The plant is believed to have caused a spike in cesium 137 found in the sediment of Lake Biel and dating back to 2000 through the discharge of contaminated waste water into the Aar river that feeds into the lake, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) downstream, the weekly reported.

Geologists from Geneva University happened upon the spike while working on an unrelated research project in 2010, and chemists in the northern canton of Basel recently verified the findings, it said.

The Muehleberg plant is permitted to discharge water with very low levels of radioactivity subject to strict controls several times a year, according to Le Matin Dimanche.

Politicians and environmentalists however expressed outrage Sunday that the plant and nuclear inspectors had provided no information about the higher levels of cesium 137 released more than a decade ago into a lake that provides 68 percent of the drinking water to the nearby town of Biel.

“No one ever told me that there were abnormally high concentrations in the lake,” Hans Stoekli, who served as Biel mayor from 1990 to 2010, told the paper, insisting that in light of the use of the lake for drinking water “the plant should have alerted us even in the case of minimal risk.”

Environmental group Greenpeace voiced dismay at the news, urging the public prosecutor in the canton of Bern, where Biel and the Muehleberg plant are located, to investigate.

The group, which has long called for the plant’s closure, also questioned in a statement how the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate could have either missed the higher radioactive levels or decided not to inform decision makers or the public about them.

The Muehleberg plant, which came online in 1972, is 17 kilometres (11 miles) west of the Swiss capital Bern.

In the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, the Swiss parliament approved a phase-out for the country’s five atomic power plants by 2034.


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« Reply #558 on: Jul 15, 2013, 07:06 AM »

July 14, 2013

Bangladesh Pollution, Told in Colors and Smells

By JIM YARDLEY

SAVAR, Bangladesh — On the worst days, the toxic stench wafting through the Genda Government Primary School is almost suffocating. Teachers struggle to concentrate, as if they were choking on air. Students often become lightheaded and dizzy. A few boys fainted in late April. Another retched in class.

The odor rises off the polluted canal — behind the schoolhouse — where nearby factories dump their wastewater. Most of the factories are garment operations, textile mills and dyeing plants in the supply chain that exports clothing to Europe and the United States. Students can see what colors are in fashion by looking at the canal.

“Sometimes it is red,” said Tamanna Afrous, the school’s English teacher. “Or gray. Sometimes it is blue. It depends on the colors they are using in the factories.”

Nearly three months ago, the Rana Plaza factory building collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people, in a disaster that exposed the risks in the low-cost formula that has made Bangladesh the world’s second-leading clothing exporter, after China, and a favorite of companies like Walmart, J. C. Penney and H & M. That formula depends on paying the lowest wages in the world and, at some factories, spending a minimum on work conditions and safety.

But it also often means ignoring costly environmental regulations. Bangladesh’s garment and textile industries have contributed heavily to what experts describe as a water pollution disaster, especially in the large industrial areas of Dhaka, the capital. Many rice paddies are now inundated with toxic wastewater. Fish stocks are dying. And many smaller waterways are being filled with sand and garbage, as developers sell off plots for factories or housing.

Environmental damage usually trails rapid industrialization in developing countries. But Bangladesh is already one of the world’s most environmentally fragile places, densely populated yet braided by river systems, with a labyrinth of low-lying wetlands leading to the Bay of Bengal. Even as pollution threatens agriculture and public health, Bangladesh is acutely vulnerable to climate change, as rising sea levels and changing weather patterns could displace millions of people and sharply reduce crop yields.

Here in Savar, an industrial suburb of Dhaka and the site of the collapsed Rana Plaza building, some factories treat their wastewater, but many do not have treatment plants or chose not to operate them to save on utility costs. Many of Savar’s canals or wetlands are now effectively retention ponds of untreated industrial waste.

“Look, it’s not only in Savar,” said Mohammed Abdul Kader, who has been Savar’s mayor since his predecessor was suspended in the wake of the Rana Plaza disaster. “The whole country is suffering from pollution. In Savar, we have lots of coconut trees, but they don’t produce coconuts anymore. Industrial pollution is damaging our fish stocks, our fruit produce, our vegetables.”

Bangladesh has laws to protect the environment, a national environment ministry and new special courts for environmental cases. Yet pollution is rising, not falling, experts say, largely because of the political and economic power of industry.

Tanneries and pharmaceutical plants are part of the problem, but textile and garment factories, a mainstay of the economy and a crucial source of employment, have the most clout. When the environment ministry appointed a tough-minded official who levied fines against textile and dyeing factories, complaining owners eventually forced his transfer.

“Nobody in the country, at least at the government level, is thinking about sustainable development,” said Rizwana Hasan, a prominent environmental lawyer. “All of the natural resources have been severely degraded and depleted.”

Less than two miles from the site of Rana Plaza, the Genda primary school has a student body made up mostly of the children of garment workers. Golam Rabbi, 11, who is the top-ranked student in the third grade there, lives with his mother and two younger brothers in a single room. The boys use price tags collected from factory floors as makeshift playing cards.

“The school always smells,” Golam said. “Sometimes we can’t even eat there. It is making some kids sick. Sometimes my head spins. It is hard to concentrate.”

His family is still struggling to recover from the Rana Plaza collapse. His father, a security guard, was killed in the disaster, and his mother is trying to support her sons and keep the two oldest in school. The father had left school for work — as had the mother — and both parents believed education could provide their sons a better life.

“His main goal was to get his children educated,” Golam’s mother, Hasina Begum, said of her husband.

But the pollution has made it hard. Golam has fainted from the smell. “He has told me several times that he doesn’t want to study at the school,” his mother said. “When it is very hot, and the breeze brings in the bad smell, he can’t breathe properly. I tried to reassure him, saying that people are holding rallies. I don’t know why the pollution is still continuing, why they can’t stop it.”

Factories surround the school: within 300 yards are two garment factories, two dyeing operations, a textile mill, a brick factory and a pharmaceutical plant. At least 10 dyeing plants can be found in a slightly larger radius. An underground drainage channel dumps wastewater through a pipe into the canal behind the school.

Mohammed Abdul Ali, the school’s headmaster, said he had approached local factory owners, as well as Savar officials, trying to get the drainage pipe moved. Mothers of children at the school, including Golam’s mother, have held awareness workshops and rallies. Local environmentalists have also campaigned.

“We’ve never seen the owners take our appeals seriously,” Mr. Ali said. “Everything is going on as usual. They have a good relationship with the politicians. That is why they don’t care.”

On a recent rainy afternoon, the smell was overpowering as the school’s fifth graders gathered in a classroom. Asked how many had parents working in garment factories, 23 of the 34 students in the room raised their hands.

“Sometimes my head is spinning,” one student said of the smell. “Sometimes we feel like we need to vomit,” another said.

Barely 100 yards away, behind a battered metal gate, the Surma Garments factory was dyeing fabric in a shade of dark purple. Mahadi Hasan, a manager, offered a tour of the Effluent Treatment Plant, where wastewater is treated with chemicals in a series of concrete tubs. He called for a worker to bring beakers with “before” and “after” samples — only to be handed an “after” sample in which the water was light purple.

Asked about pollution at the nearby school, Mr. Hasan said his wastewater flowed in the opposite direction, though that would mean it flowed uphill. “There are some other factories around here,” he said. “The water might be from them.”

In February, environmental regulators fined Surma Garments and four other factories for illegally dumping pollution. Two years earlier, another factory near the school, Anlima Yarn Dyeing, was fined for dumping untreated waste, even though it had a functioning effluent treatment plant. Local news accounts said that Anlima Yarn had been operating without an environmental clearance certificate for 23 years.

The inspections were part of a highly publicized antipollution enforcement campaign led by Munir Chowdhury, a senior official in the environment ministry. Mr. Chowdhury raided factories, often at night, finding that many were saving money by dumping waste without treating it. He imposed repeated fines until he was transferred this year to run the state dairy operation.

Mr. Kader, the acting mayor of Savar, said there was only so much a single official could do. “You should understand the reality in Bangladesh,” he said. “These people who are setting up industries and factories here are much more powerful than me. When a government minister calls me and tells me to give permission to someone to set up a factory in Savar, I can’t refuse.”

For global brands that buy clothing from Bangladeshi factories, pollution rarely gets the same attention as workplace conditions or fire safety. H &M has sponsored some environmental programs, but Bangladeshi environmentalists say global buyers have done far too little.

“The buyers totally understand the conditions of Bangladesh and they take advantage of it,” said Ms. Hasan, the environmental lawyer.

Julfikar Ali Manik contributed reporting.


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« Reply #559 on: Jul 16, 2013, 06:27 AM »

 SPIEGEL ONLINE
07/15/2013 07:52 PM

Antarctica Conference: Deal Could Preserve Pristine Waters

By Axel Bojanowski and Christoph Seidler

Representatives of 24 nations are meeting in Germany this week to discuss proposals to create marine preserves in Antarctica. Can the rival camps reach a compromise to create the world's largest conservation area?

The international body that governs Antarctic waters is meeting on Monday and Tuesday in Bremerhaven, Germany to discuss whether to establish marine reserves around the world's southern-most continent.

Urging success, German Agricultural Minister Ilse Aigner recently said the meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) offered a "unique opportunity" for representatives of 24 countries and the European Union to "write history" by designating the world's largest marine reserves on Tuesday.

Nature conservation is also a question of geopolitical interests -- an arena in which no country wants to lose influence. The countries at the meeting are those active in Antarctica, in either a business or scientific capacity. So far, two opposing camps have remained insistent on their positions.

On the one side, the Western nations have proposed marine reserves. The United States and New Zealand are proposing to protect the Ross Sea area along Antarctica's east coast. In some areas, fishing would be banned; in other areas, strict limits would be imposed. But China, Japan, Ukraine, Norway and and Russia, in particular, have shown little interest in an agreement. All have considerable business interests in the region.

Human Cravings Threaten Idyll

If a marine conservation area were established in Antarctica, it would be unique in the world. The Antarctic seas are considered some of the world's most pristine. The extreme climate unites a very special community, with habitats for penguins, seals, whales, dolphins, squid and albatross, to name but a few species. Antarctica's nutrient-rich water is also the breeding ground of myriad species of krill, which is used not only to feed very diverse stocks of fish on the continent, but is also exported all around the world for use at fish farms or in health products.

But human cravings are now threatening this idyll. "The flora and fauna of Antarctica are under increasing threat from fishing and natural resource extraction," said Onno Gross, director of the marine conservation organization Deepwave. Norwegian ships also catch vast quantities of krill off the coast of Antarctica to feed large salmon farms back home. The government in Oslo has little interest in major marine reserves on the southern continent.

Norway has considerable influence, as well. The CCAMLR negotiations in Oslo are being led by Terje Løbach, an official at the Norwegian Fisheries Ministry. At the last CCAMLR meeting in Australia, his country was among those that offered the most adamant resistance to creating marine reserves. Participants claim Løbach used his advantage as the leader of the meeting to further the positions of his government rather than seek compromises. The conference in Australia ultimately failed to reach any agreement.

Russia vs. the United States

And this is only the second time since 1982 that the commission has called for a special meeting in addition to its annual conference. Pressure is expected to be increased in Bremerhaven against the countries that have been opposing the measures. "The European press will have the issue on its radar," said one German government source. "That will create more pressure on the skeptical states."

Still, there has been little movement. Russian representatives, for example, are leading the opposition against the US-New Zealand proposal for a marine protection area in the Ross Sea area. New Zealand and the US are proposing fishing quotas for the 2.3 million-square-kilometer area. But the Russians feel they have been cheated in the considerations. "They fear that the bear skin will be divided up without them," one participant said.

Given this spat, the US-New Zealand initiative has poor prospects for approval. The question is whether the alternative proposal for marine protection areas in eastern Antarctica can prevail. "In light of the reservations that are being presented here, a lot would still have to happen," said Tim Packeiser, a marine ecologist with WWF. He said the ocean shelves near the coast would have the best prospects for conservation.

Touchy Compromise

A suggested compromise by Norway is causing turmoil: The creation of a protected area that would shrink with time. "That would set a dangerous precedent," says marine biologist Gross. Such a decision could become an example for future protected zones around the world. "We see, worriedly, that other countries are demonstrating their willingness," adds Packeiser.

Could Germany -- being one of the few largely economically disinterested countries represented in the Antarctic -- step in to broker a deal? Agriculture Minister Aigner has a venture of her own: Germany will soon suggest a protected zone in western Antarctica in the Weddell Sea, which for decades has been a focal point of German researchers. "The seafloor flora in this area is equal in its beauty and diversity to tropical coral reefs," raved Aigner.

Nevertheless, neither the minister nor high-ranking delegates from Germany or other countries are expected in Bremerhaven. Negotiations remain, as they say, at "the working level." Is a breakthrough still possible? A group of over 30 environmental organizations remain optimistic: The undeterred Antarctic Oceans Alliance (AOA) is suggesting another 19 marine areas near the Antarctic that would, at some point, merge with the nationally brokered zones.

***********


Antarctic marine reserves plan 'threatened by Russian fishing interests'

Talks on creation of two huge reserves off the coast of Antarctic threatened by Russia and Ukraine, says German delegate

Arthur Neslen for for EurActiv, part of the Guardian Environment Network   
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 16 July 2013 10.38 BST   

A vote on Tuesday on whether to declare a marine protection area over an Antarctic body of water seven times the size of Germany is hanging in the balance due to Russian and Ukrainian fishing interests, the head of a European delegation to the talks has told EurActiv.

Representatives of 25 countries are in the German city of Bremerhaven to discuss a proposal backed by the EU, US and New Zealand for a fishing ban in the Ross Sea, a deep bay in the Southern Antarctic.

The Ross Sea is one of the most intact – and fragile – marine ecosystems on Earth, which stretches for 2.6 million square kilometres. The nearest land is New Zealand and Australia.

But hopes of a deal are fading, due to nominal objections raised by a blocking minority about the scientific basis for the ‘protected area’ designation.

“Russia and Ukraine have fishing interests and are a little bit afraid that these could be compromised in some way,” said Walter Dubner, who heads the German team at the talks held by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

“It is all about fishing,” Dubner added, speaking on 15 July. “That is their major concern.”

Because of the Commission’s consensus model for decision-taking, a veto by just one country can stop a proposal being adopted.

Terje Løbach, the CCAMLR’s chair, told a press conference in Bermerhaven that Kyiv and Moscow had challenged the Commission’s right to declare a protected area in the Ross Sea, the environmental necessity of doing so, and any protected area's duration, and size.

The sea covered by the proposed marine protection area provides a home for dolphins, seals and penguins, and roughly equals the size of all the reserves created around the world so far.

By late Tuesday afternoon, the debate at the talks had gravitated towards potential compromise options, focused on the scientific case for protecting two parts of the Ross Sea, in particular.

Chris Jones, the chair of the CCAMLR’s scientific committee told the Bremerhaven press conference that scientific data to support the protected claim for the north of the Ross Sea – a spawning ground for toothfish – had been contested.

But this part of the sea contained a substantial chain of sea mounds, he insisted.

“We have established that the best available science has been used to underpin these proposals,” Jones said. “It is really up to the Commission now and the values of the various members of CCAMLR, and their political will.”

If no agreement is reached today, a second Commission will be held in Hobart, Australia, later this year.

Intense efforts have been made to sign off on a deal in Bremerhaven, including one heated scientific committee meeting that ran through to 5:30 a.m. on 14 July.

But as talks wound towards stalemate late yesterday afternoon, observers spoke of proceedings descending into a mess, and delegates visibly appearing upset.

Dubner himself played down the chances of an agreement today. “This process needs some time for discussions and clarifications, and you can’t do it overnight,” he said.

“It is difficult to reach solutions in there years,” he added. “Sometimes it takes ten years or even longer - although I wouldn’t say that will necessarily be the case with MPA’s.”

**********

Powerful 7.3-magnitude earthquake shakes Antarctica

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, July 15, 2013 20:21 EDT

A powerful 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Antarctica on Monday, generating large waves but causing no injuries, seismic experts at Argentina’s Orcadas base in Antarctica said.

“At 1103 local time (1403 GMT) on Monday, the seismological station … registered an earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale in the area near the base, with an epicenter 10 kilometers (six miles) deep,” Argentina’s Antarctic management said in a statement.

The earthquake did not cause any damage to the base or cause any injuries to the staff, it said, adding there were no reports of damage or injuries at other bases on the Antarctic peninsula.


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« Reply #560 on: Jul 16, 2013, 07:00 AM »

July 16, 2013

Australian Leader Scraps Tax on Carbon Emissions

By MATT SIEGEL
IHT

SYDNEY, Australia — Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of Australia announced a plan Tuesday to replace a deeply unpopular tax on carbon emissions with a market-based trading system a full year ahead of schedule.

The decision to scrap the politically toxic tax, which narrowly passed into law with the support of the minority Greens party, is the most significant policy change unveiled by Mr. Rudd since he regained the leadership of the nation from Julia Gillard in a party coup last month. The announcement comes as a raft of new polls show his Labor Party running neck and neck with the opposition for elections currently scheduled for Sept. 14.

“The government has decided to terminate the carbon tax, to help cost-of-living pressures for families and to reduce costs for small business,” Mr. Rudd said at a news conference.

Mr. Rudd, who signed onto the Kyoto Protocol as his first official act as leader in 2007 and once famously called combating climate change “the greatest moral challenge of our time,” framed Tuesday’s announcement in terms more economic than environmental. That prompted politicians with the Greens party to express fears that his new plan would be financed at least partially through cuts to environmental and clean energy programs.

Christine Milne, the leader of the Greens party, was quick to criticize Mr. Rudd for what she said was a shortsighted decision to sacrifice the environment in order to score political points with the electorate. Her party’s support was key in allowing Labor to form a minority government after a poor showing by Ms. Gillard in elections held in 2010, and it could be crucial to Mr. Rudd’s chances in case of a similar outcome later this year.

“What he is now doing in order to make it cheaper for the big polluters to pollute, in order to try and make a political point, he’s actually slashing a billion dollars out of environmental protection in Australia,” she told reporters. “You don’t protect the environment by cutting environment programs.”

Under the current system, Australia’s worst polluters pay a high fixed price on their carbon emissions. Since it went into effect last year after squeaking through the lower house of Parliament by just two votes in late 2011, the tax has proved wildly unpopular with big business and voters, due in part to a relentlessly negative campaign by the opposition.

The current system was supposed to remain in place until 2015, then replaced by a system in which market mechanisms would determine the cost of producing a ton of carbon. The move to bring forward the market-based system a full year earlier is expected to quickly produce a sharp drop in the cost of carbon from a predicted $23.30 per metric ton in July 2014 to around $5.50 per ton in U.S. dollars.

Because the lower price means the government would lose about $3.5 billion in tax revenue for the next financial year, Mr. Rudd has proposed nearly $3.7 billion in cuts or deferrals to public spending, including environmental programs. Several clean technology programs will face cuts, such as investments in carbon capture and storage, which will be cut by $538 million over four years.

The path to the passage of the carbon tax was among the most perilous in recent Australian political history. It was key to the downfall of two sitting prime ministers and a popular opposition leader and culminated in a showdown on the floor of Parliament between guards and furious protesters.

Many blame Mr. Rudd’s decision, during his first term as prime minister, to abandon his own emissions trading scheme for the plunge in popularity that presaged his ouster as leader in favor of Ms. Gillard in 2010. Mr. Rudd’s counterpart, the popular former opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull, was forced out in 2009 over his support for the government’s climate change policy.

By the same token, Ms. Gillard was haunted during her rocky three-year tenure as leader by a simple pledge given during a television interview in the run-up to the 2010 election: “There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.”

Ms. Gillard, who subsequently used the tax to entice the Greens into supporting her minority government, was never allowed to forget those words, which the opposition used to devastating effect in painting her as dishonest. It seemed no coincidence that Mr. Rudd’s first major policy announcement since returning to the leadership was aimed at neutralizing that line of attack.

Tony Abbott, the leader of the opposition Liberal-National coalition, said Tuesday that Mr. Rudd’s decision vindicated his criticism of the policy. However, he dismissed the change in the timeline as mere window dressing, saying Mr. Rudd was simply accelerating the policies of Ms. Gillard’s government in an attempt to win votes.

“He’s not the terminator, he’s the exaggerator. He’s not the terminator, he’s the fabricator,” he told reporters.
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« Reply #561 on: Jul 17, 2013, 07:12 AM »

Pig Putin's Russia.........

 SPIEGEL ONLINE
07/16/2013 07:39 PM

Antarctic Angst: Russia Blamed for Failed Nature Reserve Talks

Hopes had been high for the creation of two vast nature preserves off the coast of Antarctica. But a key meeting in Germany ended without agreement. Environmental groups are pointing their fingers at Russia.

There had been optimism in some quarters that countries around the world would be able to agree this week on the establishment of two vast marine preserves in the oceans surrounding Antarctica. But on Tuesday, the Commission of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), a group of 24 countries plus the European Union, was unable to reach consensus at their special meeting in Bremerhaven, Germany. And environmental groups were left accusing Russia of being responsible for the failure.

"I have never been part of such disappointing negotiations," said Greenpeace activist Iris Menn in a statement on the environmental group's German website. She was seconded by several other organizations. The Antarctic Ocean Alliance, a collection of prominent personalities around the globe, said that the meeting's failure was "the loss of an extraordinary opportunity to protect the global marine environment for future generations."

The meeting in Bremerhaven was just the second such special session of the CCAMLR since it was founded in 1982. Germany, as the host, had been hoping to broker a deal, with German Agricultural Minister Ilse Aigner saying prior to the event that it was a "unique opportunity" for the CCAMLR to "write history." The group was addressing the creation of a 2.3 million-square-kilometer (890,000-square-mile) reserve in the Ross Sea, as well as a further 1.9 million square kilometers along the eastern coast of Antarctica. The plan was to introduce fishing quotas and other restrictions in both areas.

Russia, however, had long voiced opposition to the proposal and in the meeting in Bremerhaven, voiced doubts as to whether the CCAMLR even had the authority to create such protected zones, Germany's delegation leader Walter Dübner told reporters on Tuesday. Ukraine joined Moscow in the complaint.

'A Golden Opportunity'

Environmentalists were not impressed. "The behavior of the Russian delegation endangers the two main pillars of the global effort to protect our oceans: international cooperation and international goodwill," said Andrea Kavanagh, director of the Southern Ocean Sanctuaries Project of the Washington-based Pew Charitable Trusts, in a statement. "We have missed a golden opportunity."

The creation of the Ross Sea preserve had been proposed by the US together with New Zealand. The other site had been put forward by the European Union, France and Australia. The oceans around Antarctica are some of the most pristine waters on the globe and are home to many species, including penguins, seals, whales, dolphins, squid and albatross. The region also provides all important breeding grounds to myriad species of krill, an important early link in the food chain.

Russia was not the only country to voice skepticism at the establishment of the preserves. Norway in particular catches vast quantities of krill off the coast of Antarctica for use in large salmon farms back home.

Despite the collapse of the talks this week, all hope has not been lost. The next regular meeting of the CCAMLR is planned for October. "We should begin looking for compromise solutions for the two proposals that are on the table," said Dübner.

***********

John Kerry vows to fight on for Antarctic marine haven

By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, July 17, 2013 6:12 EDT

US Secretary of State John Kerry vowed to keep up the battle to set up a sanctuary to protect the unique marine ecosystem in parts of the Antarctic.

And he voiced “regret” that attempts to create the world’s largest ocean sanctuary in the Ross Sea were blocked, with environmental groups accusing Russia of raising objections to the move.

Australia and New Zealand also said they were deeply disappointed, but vowed to push ahead.

“There’s simply no comprehensive effort to protect Earth’s most critical resource that doesn’t include an equally comprehensive effort to create marine protected areas,” Kerry, who is on a visit to Jordan, said in a statement.

“The Ross Sea is a natural laboratory. Its ecosystem is as diverse as it is productive, and we have a responsibility to protect it as environmental stewards-just as we do the rest of the ocean.”

Three days of talks in Bremerhaven, northern Germany, had gathered 24 nations plus the European Union (EU) in the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), a 31-year-old treaty tasked with overseeing conservation and sustainable exploitation of the Southern Ocean.

One proposal for a marine sanctuary, floated by the United States and New Zealand, covered 1.6 million square kilometers (640,000 square miles) of the Ross Sea, the deep bay on Antarctica’s Pacific side.

The other backed by Australia, France and the EU, would protect 1.9 million square kilometers of coastal seas off East Antarctica, on the frozen continent’s Indian Ocean side.

But representatives at the talks said Russia questioned the meeting’s legal right to create such sanctuaries.

The waters around Antarctica are home to some 16,000 known species, including whales, seals, albatrosses and penguins, as well as unique species of fish, sponges and worms that are bioluminescent or produce their own natural anti-freeze to survive in the region’s chilly waters.

Kerry said “a tremendous amount of work has gone into developing the science that underpins our joint proposal.”

“To leverage action, we’ll be doubling down on sharing the findings of our scientists who spend those critical months in the dead of winter at McMurdo Station researching and understanding the realties that face all of us.”

Although “the road has been harder than we hoped,” the top US diplomat said he was pleased so many countries had been able to find common ground and “were willing to work together towards this crucial objective.”

“We didn’t agree on all of the specifics, but there’s an emerging consensus that the Antarctic region requires protection,” he added. The next CCAMLR meeting is in Hobart, Australia, from October 23.


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« Reply #562 on: Jul 19, 2013, 06:30 AM »

Deforestation spikes in Brazilian Amazon by 103 percent

By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, July 18, 2013 20:07 EDT

Deforestation has soared in the Brazilian Amazon since a new forestry code was passed last year at the urging of the agribusiness lobby, a non-profit environmental group said Thursday.

Between August 2012 and June 2013, 1,838 square kilometers (709 square miles) of forest were lost, a 103 percent hike over the same previous period, Institute Imazon said in its latest report.

The biggest losses since last August were in the northern state of Para and in the central-western state of Matto Grosso, it added.

The institute said deforestation in June totalled 184 square kilometers (71 square miles), up 437 percent over June last year.

The increased losses coincided with adoption of the new forestry code last year.

The law limits the use of land for farming and mandates that up to 80 percent of privately-owned land in the Amazon rainforest remain intact.

But it allows landowners to cultivate riverbanks and hillsides that were previously exempt, and eases restrictions for small landowners who face difficulties in recovering illegally cleared land.

More than 60 percent of Brazil’s 8.5 million square kilometers (3.3 million square miles) are forests, but two-thirds of it is either privately owned or its ownership is undefined.

Environmentalists say the new legislation encourages deforestation.

“The forestry code sent a bad signal, that past deforestation is being excused and both Congress and the government are signaling that rules are less rigorous,” Imazon investigator Adalberto Verissimo told the daily O Globo Thursday.

“The risk is to lose control once again over Amazon deforestation, which was decreasing,” he added.

Provisional government figures, released on a monthly basis, showed deforestation rose about 30 percent in the 10 months until May.

Authorities normally release annual figures from the August to July period.

According to the latest official data, Brazil last year recorded its lowest level of Amazon deforestation, at 4,751 square kilometers (1,834 square miles), down 27 percent.

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« Reply #563 on: Jul 20, 2013, 07:18 AM »


Barack Obama urged to act on deal for global aviation pollution

Member of European parliament wants US president to live up to climate change rhetoric by helping to advance carbon deal

Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Friday 19 July 2013 23.29 BST   

Barack Obama must act fast to avoid a trade war over Europe's efforts to curb airlines' carbon pollution, a key member of the European parliament has warned.

Peter Liese, a Christian Democrat in Germany who has led Europe's efforts to curb airline carbon emissions, urged Obama to live up to his sweeping promises to act on climate change, and help advance stalled negotiations for a global aviation deal.

Liese, speaking after meetings with administration officials in Washington this week, said he feared efforts to reach a global deal on aviation carbon had stalled.

He now saw a 50-50 chance the talks would fail to produce a deal by the early September meetings of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, triggering a transatlantic trade and diplomatic crisis.

"For me and I think for the European parliament this is a test case: how serious is Obama on climate change? Is it only a speech, or is it serious? " Liese said.

He said he was disappointed with the state department's position in the aviation talks, saying it lagged behind Obama's sweeping climate change speech last month.

"The momentum and dynamic that we saw with Obama's speech and Obama's plan has not been included in the ICAO position," Liese said.

"From where I see it now, there is more than a 50% chance that we will fall," he said.

Aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

Failure to reach a deal before the ICAO meeting could trigger a crisis in the European parliament, and inflame diplomatic and trade tensions between Europe and America.

"It's a legal mess, it's a trade mess, and its a diplomatic mess," said Annie Petsonk, who covers international climate law for the Environmental Defence Fund.

Under a deal reached last spring, the European parliament extended a deadline for airlines to comply with new regulations requiring carriers to pay for carbon emissions on flights to and from European airports.

Efforts then moved to the ICAO to develop "global market-based measures" for curbing carbon emissions.

The compromise averted the risk of a trade and diplomatic war over the aviation carbon tax.

US airlines, along with those carriers from India, China, Russia and Saudi Arabia, balked at paying the carbon tax – which added on average just $2 to the cost of a flight.

In a move that frustrated campaigners, Obama then signed a bill into law last year exempting US airlines from the tax.

Now Liese argued it was time for Obama to make good on his renewed climate change commitments, and push the state department to make greater efforts to reach a deal.

The White House endorsed curbs on emissions from the aviation industry last month, when Obama delivered his landmark climate change address.

John Kerry, the secretary of state, also endorsed a carbon charge for the airline industry in his years as a senator as co-author of a climate bill that failed in the Senate.

The state department did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

Obama's bold climate speech last month has stoked expectation that he would now help efforts to advance a global deal on aviation emissions – and not stand in the way.

"The state department's position on aviation pollution is completely out of sync with the direction the rest of the administration and the American people are going in," said Glenn Hurowitz, executive director of the Catapult campaign group.

"The president has indicated a new commitment to tackling climate pollution but at the same time the administration is opposing other countries from taking modest and affordable action themselves."


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« Reply #564 on: Jul 21, 2013, 07:20 AM »

U.S. and U.K. heat waves caused by new extreme weather pattern

By David Ferguson
Saturday, July 20, 2013 14:31 EDT

The extremely cold temperatures from last winter and the current stifling heat waves blanketing the U.S. and U.K. are caused by what may be an increasingly common type of weather formation called a “blocking high.” According to New Scientist, these systems of high pressure form and then remain stubbornly in place, causing extended periods of extreme weather.

Blocking highs have been blamed not only for this year’s intense heat, but also for Russia’s devastating wildfires in 2010, as well as the catastrophic floods in Pakistan that same year. These bubbles of high pressure form in the atmosphere when the jet stream — one of the major weather-defining weather system of the northern hemisphere — meanders off course, disrupting weather systems around the world.

Rutgers University climatologist Jennifer Francis told New Scientist that weather is getting “more stuck” because of blocking highs. She said that the jet stream is flowing about 14 percent slower than it was 30 years ago. As a result, it drifts north toward the warming Arctic and south toward the tropics more frequently, setting up perfect conditions for blocking highs.

Other scientists disagree, including Ian Simmonds of the University of Exeter, UK, who published a report earlier this year arguing that the jet stream is not, in fact, meandering any more than it ever has, so now, said New Scientist, “everyone is confused.”

This week, the intensely high temperatures in the northeastern U.S. were caused by what CBS News called a “wrong-way heatwave,” where wind patterns that usually blow from west-to-east have been flowing east-to-west, bringing sweltering temperatures and high humidity to Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and other northeastern cities.

Climatologists blame a high pressure system that was born over the western Atlantic Ocean and is still pushing westward. A cold front is finally expected to move through the area Saturday night, bringing lower temperatures and relief to the area’s millions of residents.

Jon Gottschalck of the National Weather Service told CBS that the unusual weather pattern cropped up so suddenly that weather forecasters were caught flat-footed.

“It’s definitely unusual and going the wrong way,” he said. “This is pretty rare.”

The jet stream, which is currently parked over Canada, is expected to return to a more normal course next week.
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« Reply #565 on: Jul 21, 2013, 07:21 AM »

New case of H7N9 bird flu confirmed in China: Xinhua

By Agence France-Presse
Saturday, July 20, 2013 13:48 EDT

A 61-year-old woman from northern China was confirmed Saturday as having contracted the deadly H7N9 bird flu virus, state media reported.

The woman, from the city of Langfang in Hebei province, developed a cough and fever on July 10 and four days later was given a diagnosis of severe pneumonia, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing a Beijing municipal health bureau statement.

The woman is receiving emergency treatment in a Beijing hospital, Xinhua said, citing the statement as saying she had frequently purchased vegetables at a local market where live poultry is also on sale.

So far, nine of the woman’s family members who have had close contact with her have not exhibited flu symptoms, the report said.

The first human cases of the H7N9 virus were reported in late March and it had infected 132 people in mainland China, killing 43, by the end of June, according to the latest available official figures.

While new case numbers have dropped off recently, experts remain on guard for fear the virus could mutate into a form easily transmissible between humans, with the potential to trigger a pandemic.

Official media reported Friday that a Chinese woman who spent five weeks in intensive care with H7N9 bird flu had given birth to a girl in what was described as a “miracle” first.
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« Reply #566 on: Jul 21, 2013, 07:22 AM »

Japan wins rights to drill on Pacific floor for rare minerals used in consumer electronics

By Agence France-Presse
Saturday, July 20, 2013 16:57 EDT

Japan on Saturday said it had won the rights to explore for cobalt-rich crusts in the Pacific, a move that could reduce its dependence on China for rare metals.

A government press release said the International Seabed Authority (ISA) had approved Japan’s plan to probe a 3,000-square-kilometre area beneath international waters off the isolated Japanese coral atoll of Minamitorishima.

The area is located 600 kilometres (375 miles) off the atoll which lies 1,850 kilometres south of Tokyo.

The Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation, acting on the government’s behalf, is due to sign a formal contract with the ISA covering 15 years of exploration rights, the statement said.

Cobalt-rich crusts are presumed to cover the seabed between 1,000 and 2,000 metres down, containing such rare metals as manganese, cobalt, nickel and platinum, according to the statement.

Resource-poor Japan needs the metals for its high-tech components, including lithium-ion batteries and automobile engines.

China, the world’s leading supplier of rare metals and rare earths, has used its position as diplomatic leverage at a time when it is locked in a row with Japan over Tokyo-controlled islands in the East China Sea.

In 2010, China restricted rare-earth exports when Japan arrested the captain of a Chinese trawler that was involved in a run-in with two Japanese coastguard cutters trying to coax it away from the disputed Senkaku Islands, claimed by China which calls them Diaoyu.

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said the initial approval of the exploration plan is “extremely significant as it can enhance the possibility of Japan’s resources development”.

Japan last obtained exclusive rights to explore the seabed for minerals under international waters in 1987, for manganese nodules in an area southeast of Hawaii, the statement said.

But with the nodules scattered at least 4,000 metres below sea level, development has yet to begin, the business daily Nikkei said.

The ISA was established by the UN Law of the Sea Convention to organise and control all mineral-related activities beneath international waters.
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« Reply #567 on: Jul 21, 2013, 03:49 PM »

Hi, I just wanted to provide a link to an incredible website I found about the changing weather patterns on the planet.
www.robertscribbler.wordpress.com

This video is from one of the posts on the above website and shows how global warming is messing up the jet stream. The more I read about the entire global jet stream changing, the more profound the entire concept of climate change becomes. To really imagine what all this means for the entire species is mind boggling. My child will not live in the same world that I lived in as a child. I dont think we are prepared for what is coming.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kpigok-lVK4

Ive bookmarked the 1st one. You will not hear this on mainstream media.
« Last Edit: Jul 21, 2013, 10:40 PM by Sunyata » Logged
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« Reply #568 on: Jul 23, 2013, 05:41 AM »


July 22, 2013 07:00 AM

Green News Round-Up For July

By Diane Sweet
CrooksAndLiars

Photos provided by a government scientist show the site of an oil spill in Cold Lake, Alta. The company that runs the operation says it is effectively managing the cleanup.

'Unstoppable' underground tar sands leak on Canadian military weapons facility: This is a great piece of investigative journalism from Emma Pullman and Martin Lukacs for The Toronto Star. A government scientist leaked documents to help the word get out, and the spill has been going on for well over 6 weeks.

    "Oil spills at a major oil sands operation in Alberta have been ongoing for at least six weeks and have cast doubts on the safety of underground extraction methods, according to documents obtained by the Star and a government scientist who has been on site.

    Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. has been unable to stop an underground oil blowout that has killed numerous animals and contaminated a lake, forest, and muskeg at its operations in Cold Lake, Alta.

    The documents indicate that, since cleanup started in May, some 26,000 barrels of bitumen mixed with surface water have been removed, including more than 4,500 barrels of bitumen.

    The scientist said Canadian Natural Resources is not disclosing the scope of spills in four separate sites, which have been off bounds to media and the public because the operations are on the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, where there is active weapons testing by the Canadian military."

The scientist also said that "Nobody really understands how to stop it from leaking, or if they do they haven’t put the measures into place.”

Also, the Cold Lake operations are located on the traditional territory of the Beaver Lake Cree First Nation, and they are pursuing a constitutional challenge arguing that "cumulative impacts of oil sands industrial development are infringing their treaty rights to hunt, fish and trap." The First Nation also has graves located along the lake affected by the spill, and they are not being permitted to access the area.

Oil Spill at Ohio Drilling Site: But, not to worry, because it's really, really tiny and "someone" has everything under control. [*cough*]

Welcome To Fort McMoney: Remember To Breathe: Send comic Andy Cobb to Alberta's Tar Sands-the most environmentally destructive mine on earth. Industry PR describes a vacation paradise, he visits as a tourist.

Remember To Breathe is a sponsored project of the International Documentary Association.

Keystone Risks Worry Investors: Aww...Canadian Big Oil corporations are concerned that they aren't raking in quite as many U.S. investor bucks as they hoped.

Bloomberg News:

    "The timeline for U.S. approval of Keystone XL will make the planned start of operations in the second half of 2015 “difficult,” TransCanada Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling said yesterday in an interview at Bloomberg headquarters in New York. “I hope a decision can be made this year.”

    The company has spent about $2.3 billion on Keystone XL as it awaits U.S. approval, Girling said. “I think what we need is probably something that looks like 24 months or so, approximately, plus or minus a few months, from the time we get the permit,” to complete the line, he said.

    Investor wariness, which caused some Canadian energy shares to fall, can be blamed on a shortage of pipelines to the continent’s coasts and the resulting price gap between Canada’s heavy crude and global grades, Toronto-Dominion Bank analysts led by Menno Hulshof said in a July 15 note. Hulshof declined to comment when reached by telephone."

"Gasland" Trailer: The Award-winning documentary from Josh Fox.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZe1AeH0Qz8

Fracking Doesn’t Contaminate Water? A landmark federal study on the effects of fracking, in which rock is broken up by pressurized liquids, revealed Friday that chemicals used in the drilling process did not move upward toward sources of drinking water. After a year of observation of a site in Pennsylvania, researchers found that the chemical-laced fluids used to release natural gas trapped underground stayed deep beneath the surface, far below the shallow areas that would affect drinking-water aquifers. The results are preliminary, and the study continues, but it is a boost to the natural-gas industry, which has faced intense resistance from environmental groups over fracking.

One startling finding mentioned in the report, "Seismic monitoring determined one hydraulic fracture traveled 1,800 feet out from the well bore; most traveled just a few hundred feet. That's significant, because some environmental groups have questioned whether the fractures could go all the way to the surface."

These far too early results being reported will certainly boost President Obama's pro-fracking stance.

I'd like to invite the scientists at the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Pittsburgh, along with everyone at the U.S. Department of Energy, and the President to watch the video clip above from the award-winning documentary "Gasland," and offer up a response. Anything, any response at all.


Passenger viewing Ethan Estess' Last Dive at the Farallones: 100,000 marine mammals killed per year. Made from copious amounts of plastics and rope found during his student artist residency at the SF Transfer Station, the sculpture calls attention to the perilous state of our oceans.

Much more at "They're making art out of recycled crap!"

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/07/21/1218897/--They-re-making-art-out-of-recycled-crap

The Bureau of Land Management recently announced plans to lease 148 million more tons of coal: In response, Department of Interior staff were greeted during their lunch break recently by youth climate activists distributing memos from a made-up government agency, the “Department of Climate Action,” to highlight that the federal coal leasing program is undermining President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

Read the full report here. http://grist.org/article/youth-climate-activists-deliver-a-memo-to-interior-secretary-jewell-actonclimate-keep-our-coal-in-the-ground/

So, how is BP coming along with those settlement payments to affected residents and business owners along the Gulf Coast?

Think Progress has the latest:

    "BP is balking at the amount of money it owes businesses affected by the Gulf oil spill. The oil giant is doing everything it can to bring it down.

    The oil company is claiming that it has had to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to businesses that exaggerated or invented losses from the 2010 disaster. Theodore Olson, BP’s lawyer, told an appeals court last week that BP — which, despite the spill, is still one of the most profitable companies in the world — was suffering “irreparable injustices” from these these fictitious losses.

    To cut down on this alleged fraud, BP is eliciting the public’s help. The company recently set up a a hotline for reporting fraudulent claims relating the the Gulf oil spill, a tool it calls “a reliable resource for people who want to do the right thing and report fraud or corruption.” According to BP, callers can receive a reward if the claim they report leads to an indictment, recovery of money or denial of a claim. BP also placed full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post last month that accused lawyers and politicians of encouraging businesses to submit dishonest claims."

Even more unconscionable, Exxon still hasn't paid the $92 million that it owes the state of Alaska and the Department of Justice for wildlife recovery...and its been 25 years that they've been fighting the claims!
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« Reply #569 on: Jul 23, 2013, 05:42 AM »

Five-year pause in global temperature rise due to warming of deep oceans

By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian
Monday, July 22, 2013 21:30 EDT

A recent slowdown in the upward march of global temperatures is likely to be the result of the slow warming of the deep oceans, British scientists said on Monday.

Oceans are some of the Earth’s biggest absorbers of heat, which can be seen in effects such as sea level rises, caused by the expansion of large bodies of water as they warm. The absorption goes on over long periods, as heat from the surface is gradually circulated to the lower reaches of the seas.

Temperatures around the world have been broadly static over the past five years, though they were still significantly above historic norms, and the years from 2000 to 2012 comprise most of the 14 hottest years ever recorded. The scientists said the evidence still clearly pointed to a continuation of global warming in the coming decades as greenhouse gases in the atmosphere contribute to climate change.

This summer’s heatwave, the most prolonged period of hot weather in the UK for years, has not yet been taken into account in their measurements.

Peter Stott of the Met Office said computer-generated climate models all showed that periods of slower warming were to be expected as part of the natural variation of the climate cycle, and did not contradict predictions. Given that variation, current temperatures are within expectations.

Figure 1: BEST land-only surface temperature data (green) with linear trends applied to the timeframes 1973 to 1980, 1980-1988, 1988-1995, 1995-2001, 1998-2005, 2002-2010 (blue), and 1973-2010 (red)

As well as the heating of the deep oceans, other factors have played a significant part in slowing temperature rises. These have included the solar minimum – when the sun is less active and generating slightly less heat, as occurred in 2008/2009 – and a series of small volcanic eruptions, including that of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano in 2010. Ash from volcanoes reflects light back into space, and major eruptions in the past have had a severe, albeit temporary, cooling effect.

Despite the slowdown in warming, by 2060 the world is still likely to have experienced average temperatures of more than 2C above pre-industrial levels – a threshold that scientists regard as the limit of safety, beyond which climate change impacts are likely to become catastrophic. Prof Rowan Sutton, director of climate research at the National Centre for Atmospheric Research at Reading University, said the current pause would only delay reaching this point by five to 10 years.

The “pause” in the rise of global temperatures has been seized on by climate sceptics, however, who have interpreted it as proof that the science of climate change is mistaken. Despite the slowdown in warming, the warmest years on record were 1998, 2005 and 2010, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Prof Sutton added that more research was needed on the effects of warming on the deep oceans, as observations of deep ocean temperatures have only been carried out in detail over the past decade and more are needed. Higher temperatures could not only have a devastating effect on marine life, he said, but could also cause increases in sea levels because sea water expands when heated.

The Met Office warned early in the summer that the UK could be in for a decade of “washout” summers, like those of the past six years, because of the effect of climate change on global weather systems, partly as a result of changes in wind patterns caused by the melting Arctic.

But no sooner had the meteorologists made their prediction than the weather bucked this trend with a shift in the Atlantic’s jet stream air circulation system giving rise to high-pressure weather fronts and a long period of settled sunny weather.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2013

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