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Rad
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« Reply #90 on: Oct 06, 2012, 12:06 PM »

Seeds of Survival: Could the most innocuous species hold the key to the future of humanity?

Witness from Aljazeera Last Modified: 12 Jun 2012 11:17

Filmmaker: Tom Evans and Kevin Rushby

Paul Kirika is the son of the famous Kenyan botanist, the late Mzee Kajui, and is now himself considered one of the most knowledgeable field botanists in East Africa. His work has taken him from the coastal forests to the mountaintops, from the humid lake region to the dry and remote northern areas and the dwindling forests around Nairobi.

Together with Tim Pearce, a botanist from the UK, he has been struggling to find rare plant species in the mountains of Kenya that could hold the key to human food security.

Filmmaker's view

We are all familiar with the images of African wildlife: elephants against the sunset, lions on a kill, and the cheetah sprinting towards its prey. We are also familiar with the battles against poaching and the efforts to preserve this wildlife for future generations. But what we never pay attention to is the plants around those animals. And what few of us ever suspect is that our own survival may depend on some of those very plants.

It was this that fascinated me about the story behind Seeds of Survival. Could it be that the most innocuous, the most insignificant species might hold the key to the future of humanity? There was also the chance to travel and work with botanists. It promised a very different view of the African bush to the one we normally see. And so it was.

Botanists do not behave like other naturalists. A zoologist, for example, might stop the car, scan the trees and say: "Look. Lions!" Then you would sit quietly watching the animals. But botanists just leap out of the car and run into the bush without a glance.

One night we sat around the fire and heard a few stories about what can happen when you leap out of the car and rush into the bush - tales of seed-hunters caught in buffalo charges or sprinting back to the vehicle with an angry elephant in hot pursuit. There is never a dull moment in the search for rather small and unspectacular plants.

Actually the sheer lack of visual impact in the plants was a major worry for myself and cameraman/director Tom Evans. We just worried that a wild yam or rice might be a bit boring to look at, even if it did hold the key to new crop species and food security for millions of people around the globe. I remember Tom’s face when we first saw the dried specimens in the Herbarium at Nairobi's National Museum. He was not happy.

But then our two botanists, Paul Kirika and Tim Pearce, moved into action and, believe me, they more than made up for the static nature of the plants. The species we were looking at were as rare as anything on the planet and possibly already extinct. There was no seed. We had a challenge.

click on this link to watch:

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/witness/2012/06/20126126452465169.html

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Rad
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« Reply #91 on: Oct 06, 2012, 12:08 PM »


The seed emergency: The threat to food and democracy

Patenting seeds has led to a farming and food crisis - and huge profits for US biotechnology corporations.

In India, 95 per cent of cotton seeds are reportedly controlled by Monsanto, a US biotechnology corporation [EPA]

New Delhi, India - The seed is the first link in the food chain - and seed sovereignty is the foundation of food sovereignty. If farmers do not have their own seeds or access to open pollinated varieties that they can save, improve and exchange, they have no seed sovereignty - and consequently no food sovereignty.

The deepening agrarian and food crisis has its roots in changes in the seed supply system, and the erosion of seed diversity and seed sovereignty.

Seed sovereignty includes the farmer's rights to save, breed and exchange seeds, to have access to diverse open source seeds which can be saved - and which are not patented, genetically modified, owned or controlled by emerging seed giants. It is based on reclaiming seeds and biodiversity as commons and public good.

The past twenty years have seen a very rapid erosion of seed diversity and seed sovereignty, and the concentration of the control over seeds by a very small number of giant corporations. In 1995, when the UN organised the Plant Genetic Resources Conference in Leipzig, it was reported that 75 per cent of all agricultural biodiversity had disappeared because of the introduction of "modern" varieties, which are always cultivated as monocultures. Since then, the erosion has accelerated.

The introduction of the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement of the World Trade Organisation has accelerated the spread of genetically engineered seeds - which can be patented - and for which royalties can be collected. Navdanya was started in response to the introduction of these patents on seeds in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade - a forerunner to the WTO - about which a Monsanto representative later stated: "In drafting these agreements, we were the patient, diagnostician [and] physician all in one." Corporations defined a problem - and for them the problem was farmers saving seeds. They offered a solution, and the solution was to make it illegal for farmers to save seed - by introducing patents and intellectual property rights [PDF] on those very seeds. As a result, acreage under GM corn, soya, canola, cotton has increased dramatically.

Threats to seed sovereignty

Besides displacing and destroying diversity, patented GMO seeds are also undermining seed sovereignty. Across the world, new seed laws are being introduced which enforce compulsory registration of seeds, thus making it impossible for small farmers to grow their own diversity, and forcing them into dependency on giant seed corporations. Corporations are also patenting climate resilient seeds evolved by farmers - thus robbing farmers of using their own seeds and knowledge for climate adaptation.

Another threat to seed sovereignty is genetic contamination. India has lost its cotton seeds because of contamination from Bt Cotton - a strain engineered to contain the pesticide Bacillus thuringiensis bacterium. Canada has lost its canola seed because of contamination from Roundup Ready canola. And Mexico has lost its corn due to contamination from Bt Cotton.

After contamination, biotech seed corporations sue farmers with patent infringement cases, as happened in the case of Percy Schmeiser. That is why more than 80 groups came together and filed a case to prevent Monsanto from suing farmers whose seed had been contaminated.

As a farmer's seed supply is eroded, and farmers become dependent on patented GMO seed, the result is debt. India, the home of cotton, has lost its cotton seed diversity and cotton seed sovereignty. Some 95 per cent of the country's cotton seed is now controlled by Monsanto - and the debt trap created by being forced to buy seed every year - with royalty payments - has pushed hundreds of thousands of farmers to suicide; of the 250,000 farmer suicides, the majority are in the cotton belt.

Seeding control

Even as the disappearance of biodiversity and seed sovereignty creates a major crisis for agriculture and food security, corporations are pushing governments to use public money to destroy the public seed supply and replace it with unreliable non-renewable, patented seed - which must be bought each and every year.

In Europe, the 1994 regulation for protection of plant varieties forces farmers to make a "compulsory voluntary contribution" to seed companies. The terms themselves are contradictory. What is compulsory cannot be voluntary.

In France, a law was passed in November 2011, which makes royalty payments compulsory. As Agriculture Minister Bruna Le Marie stated: "Seeds can be longer be royalty free, as is currently the case." Of the 5,000 or so cultivated plant varieties, 600 are protected by certificate in France, and these account for 99 per cent of the varieties grown by farmers.

The "compulsory voluntary contribution", in other words a royalty, is justified on grounds that "a fee is paid to certificate holders [seed companies] to sustain funding of research and efforts to improve genetic resources".

Monsanto pirates biodiversity and genetic resources from farming communities, as it did in the case of a wheat biopiracy case fought by Navdanya with Greenpeace, and climate resilient crops and brinjal (also known as aubergine or eggplant) varieties for Bt Brinjal. As Monsanto states, "it draws from a collection of germ-plasm that is unparalleled in history" and "mines the diversity in this genetic library to develop elite seeds faster than ever before".

In effect, what is taking place is the enclosure of the genetic commons of our biodiversity and the intellectual commons of public breeding by farming communities and public institutions. And the GMO seeds Monsanto is offering are failing.  This is not "improvement" of genetic resources, but degradation. This is not innovation but piracy.

For example, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) - being pushed by the Gates Foundation - is a major assault on Africa's seed sovereignty.

Agribusiness

The 2009 US Global Food Security Act [PDF] also called the Lugar-Casey Act [PDF], "A bill to authorise appropriations for fiscal years 2010 through 2014 to provide assistance to foreign countries to promote food security, to stimulate rural economies, and to improve emergency response to food crisis, to amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and for other purposes".

The amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act would "include research on bio-technological advances appropriate to local ecological conditions, including genetically modified technology". The $ 7.7bn that goes with the bill would go to benefit Monsanto to push GM seeds.

"Royalties for Monsanto are based on debt, suicidal farmers and the disappearance of biodiversity worldwide."

An article in Forbes, titled "Why Uncle Sam Supports Franken Foods", shows how agribusiness is the only sector in which US has a positive trade balance. Hence the push for GMOs - because they bring royalties to the US. However, royalties for Monsanto are based on debt, suicidal farmers and the disappearance of biodiversity worldwide.

Under the US Global Food Security Act, Nepal signed an agreement with USAID and Monsanto. This led to massive protests across the country. India was forced to allow patents on seeds through the first dispute brought by the US against India in the WTO. Since 2004, India has also been trying to introduce a Seed Act which would require farmers to register their own seeds and take licenses. This in effect would force farmers from using their indigenous seed varieties. By creating a Seed Satyagraha - a non-cooperation movement in Gandhi's footsteps, handing over hundreds of thousands of signatures to the prime minister, and working with parliament - we have so far prevented the Seed Law from being introduced.   

India has signed a US-India Knowledge Initiative in Agriculture, with Monsanto on the Board. Individual states are also being pressured to sign agreements with Monsanto. One example is the Monsanto-Rajasthan Memorandum of Understanding, under which Monsanto would get intellectual property rights to all genetic resources, and to carry out research on indigenous seeds. It took a campaign by Navdanya and a "Monsanto Quit India" Bija Yatra ["seed pilgrimage"] to force the government of Rajasthan to cancel the MOU.

This asymmetric pressure of Monsanto on the US government, and the joint pressure of both on the governments across the world, is a major threat to the future of seeds, the future of food and the future of democracy.

Dr Vandana Shiva is a physicist, eco-feminist, philosopher, activist and author of more than 20 books and 500 papers. She is the founder of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, and has campaigned for biodiversity, conservation and farmers' rights, winning the Right Livelihood Award [Alternative Nobel Prize] in 1993.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Al Jazeera.
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Wendy
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« Reply #92 on: Oct 06, 2012, 03:30 PM »

Here's a video about GMO's http://www.naturalnews.com/037438_GMO_time_bomb_Gary_Null.html by Gary Null....

I have been thinking about this a great deal lately.  Ceres is currently 1 Cancer, she will eventually oppose Pluto and square Uranus exact in May 2012, and retrogrades first back into Gemini.

GMO's are a major problem...any thoughts Rad about what astro sign and planet rules food and GMO's.  I assume it is Taurus and Ceres.

Thanks,
Wendy
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Rad
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« Reply #93 on: Oct 07, 2012, 06:28 AM »

Here's a video about GMO's http://www.naturalnews.com/037438_GMO_time_bomb_Gary_Null.html by Gary Null....

I have been thinking about this a great deal lately.  Ceres is currently 1 Cancer, she will eventually oppose Pluto and square Uranus exact in May 2012, and retrogrades first back into Gemini.

GMO's are a major problem...any thoughts Rad about what astro sign and planet rules food and GMO's.  I assume it is Taurus and Ceres.

Thanks,
Wendy

*********

Hi Wendy,

Food in general is Taurus, and genetically modified food is Scorpio. Remember Scorpio correlates to RNA/DNA and genetics itself. The poisons that he is speaking about is also Scorpio. 

God Bless, Rad
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Rad
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« Reply #94 on: Oct 07, 2012, 06:41 AM »

 SPIEGEL ONLINE
10/05/2012 01:50 PM

Fear of Fracking: Germany Balks on Natural Gas Bonanza

By Christian Wüst

Using a method known as "fracking," Germany could exploit domestic sources to meet its natural gas needs for 20 years. But safety worries have prompted government authorities to refrain from granting the permits that companies need to use the controversial technique.

The fuel of civilization is usually found in unattractive places. Geologists discovered the biggest oil and natural gas reserves in the deserts of the Middle East and beneath the permafrost of Siberia. Countries in temperate Central Europe, on the other hand, have only modest reserves. One of them lies some 5,000 meters (16,000 feet) beneath the surface in Rotenburg/Wümme, an administrative district in the northwestern German state of Lower Saxony.

The most recent well that was drilled into the natural gas field there is called "Bötersen Z11." The site, located next to a federal highway near the port city of Bremen, occupies about a hectare (2.5 acres) of asphalt-covered land surrounded by a green wire fence. A pipe about as thick as a tree trunk is protruding from the middle of the site, but nothing is coming out of it.

There isn't enough pressure in the field the pipe is sticking out of, and ExxonMobil, which operates the well, isn't surprised. Even during the planning stages, "Bötersen Z11" was a candidate for a process that engineering geologists refer to as "induced hydraulic fracturing," or "fracking" for short.

ExxonMobil plans to inject about 350,000 liters (92,500 gallons) of water, mixed with a cocktail of chemicals, into the well under high pressure. The liquid is supposed to penetrate into the rock at the bottom of the pipe and trigger a long-term loosening effect. Hair-line fractures will create a network of tiny channels from which natural gas can escape for at least 15 years, according to ExxonMobil estimates.

But what ExxonMobil still lacks is official permission to do this. The state mining agency has been sitting on the company's application for the last year, hesitant to move forward with its approval.

"Unfortunately, fracking has become a scary word," says Dieter Sieber, a mining engineer and fracking expert at ExxonMobil. A cart decorated with pamphlets from a local citizens' initiative is parked at the entrance to the drilling site. The group aims to "protect God's creation," and one of its signs proclaims: "Stop Fracking!"

The public reservations and protests are coming at a surprisingly late point. As a method to increase the yields of hydrocarbon deposits, fracking has been in use for almost 50 years. In Germany, it has been instrumental in preventing domestic natural gas production from drying up altogether. Very few Germans are aware that, until the 1980s, almost a quarter of the natural gas being burned in Germany came from domestic sources. Although it's still about 12 percent today, that number is declining by about 1 percent a year.

The deposits that have already been discovered are almost exhausted. About 300 wells have been fracked in Germany since the 1960s. Without imports, more than three-quarters of which come from Russia, Norway and the Netherlands, Germany would soon find itself without natural gas -- if there weren't another alternative, that is.

Massive Potential

In May, Germany's Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) published a study concluding that there are up to 2.3 trillion cubic meters (81 trillion cubic feet) of technically recoverable natural gas under German soil, primarily in the northern state of Lower Saxony and the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia. This would be amount to more than 20 times Germany's annual consumption of natural gas.

The reserves are in deposits that are described as "unconventional," consisting of shale and coal formations, which are the primary "source rocks" of hydrocarbons. They were long considered unexploitable because they are substantially denser than "conventional" deposits found in more porous sandstone. The coveted fuel simply doesn't flow out of shale formations -- which is where fracking comes in.

Fracking is now proving to be a key technology for extracting oil and gas from shale formations. In Germany, the natural gas reserves that could be exploited in this manner would have "the potential to make up for declines in production in recent years," explains geophysicist Dieter Franke, a geophysicist who heads the BGR's oil and gas geology department. In light of the sheer magnitude of proven reserves, this could be seen as a conservative estimate.

Since the mid-1990s, Americans have been far more aggressive and active when it comes to fracking. Geologists estimate that -- after China and, presumably, Russia -- the United States has the third-largest shale natural gas reserves on Earth, or about 20 times as much as Germany. The United States is exploiting these reserves on a large scale and even hopes to use fracking to end its dependence on gas imports.

Now the United States is also taking a similar approach with shale oil. Thanks to fracking, the Midwestern state of North Dakota already produces more than half a million barrels of oil from the Bakken shale formation. As a result, this year, the state surpassed Alaska in oil production for the first time. According to a forecast by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), oil-tanker traffic to North America could very well be eliminated by 2035.

Hesitant about a Promising Technique

The BGR is also investigating Germany's oil shale reserves and expects to have results within three years. Geophysicist Franke anticipates that the study will reveal "significant quantities of exploitable reserves."

But whether this oil will ever be extracted remains uncertain. Even the natural gas that has already been found is still a long way from flowing out of wells. In contrast to the United States, which once met its own oil requirements and is now enthusiastic about returning to this status, government agencies in Europe are tentative.

France, which is assumed to have the largest unconventional gas reserves in Western Europe, has yet to issue a single fracking permit. German authorities have only permitted isolated test fracking. ExxonMobil, for example, was only allowed to conduct three experimental fracking operations in February 2008 at the "Damme 3" well north of Osnabrück, in northwestern Germany. Close to 13,000 cubic meters of fluid were injected into the wells. "We demonstrated there that fracking can be done in shale rock, and that the expansion (of the fracking fluid) corresponds to the simulations," says Sieber, the ExxonMobil engineer.

Although it has provided this insight, "Damme 3" has yet to generate any profits. To be able to make money from extracting gas from the well, ExxonMobil would have to inject more fracking fluid into the formations that contain natural gas -- but it hasn't been granted the permits to do so. The last fracking operation in German bedrock was conducted in late July 2011 -- also by ExxonMobil -- at the "Buchhorst T12" site, a conventional gas deposit in Bundsandstein, a type of colored sandstone that lies below large parts of Western and Central Europe.

Fears and Frustrations

Horror stories from the United States, an El Dorado for companies engaged in fracking, have discredited the technology. A documentary film about the practice showed a fireball emerging from a faucet, a result of the presence of methane in drinking water. Although it was never proven that fracking is responsible for such incidents, they have made the public afraid of the practice. People are starting to realize that pumping 13 million liters of chemical-laced water into a hole can have unpleasant consequences.

What happens in the bowels of the Earth when the hydraulic stimulator fractures the rock? Can natural gas, fracking fluid or formation water containing hazardous substances seep into and contaminate the groundwater?

These are extremely urgent questions, and it's astonishing that we are only now beginning to systematically search for answers. In early September, Germany's Federal Environment Agency (UBA) published an initial report with a sobering conclusion: "In summary, we conclude that a great deal of the fundamental information needed to make a valid assessment of these risks is still missing."

For regulators, who must ultimately decide whether fracking should be allowed, such a conclusion is as unhelpful as it is for the oil companies that want to use the fracking technology.

ExxonMobil, the leading natural gas producer in Germany, is paving its way to unconventional deposits with slick PR efforts. The company is already running TV ads in which its managers insist that they are also concerned about clean drinking water. ExxonMobil has also set up a website called Erdgassuche-in-deutschland.de, or "The Search for Natural Gas in Germany," to emphasize its transparency. The site even lists the ingredients in the last fracking cocktail used at the "Buchhorst T12" well.

Occupational medicine experts have classified substances like tetraethylenepentamine as being toxic to groundwater and corrosive. ExxonMobil points out that the concentrations of such chemicals in fracking fluid are very low. "If you were to drink more than three or four glasses of fracking fluid," says Sieber, "the worst that would happen to you would be the sort of diarrhea you'd get from drinking castor oil."

Studying and Waiting

But it's millions of liters of fracking fluid -- and not just three or four glasses -- that are injected into a well. And the government agency with the power to approve or prohibit the practice isn't the Environment Ministry, but rather the mining authority in each of Germany's 16 federal states. For Lower Saxony, where Germany's most promising candidates for fracking are located, it's the State Authority for Mining, Energy and Geology (LBEG), based in Hanover.

Ulrich Windhaus heads the agency's permit-granting department. "We have taken a very careful look at the situation with fracking," he explains, "and not just since the most recent debates." The unique problem in Germany, Windhaus adds, is that the shale formations containing the gas are closer to the surface than most conventional deposits, which means they are much closer to groundwater levels and, in some cases, even within the same stratum. Some shale formations in Lower Saxony reach almost to the surface. For this reason alone, says Windhaus, "a more comprehensive analysis has to be conducted."

ExxonMobil doesn't disagree. Like the agency, the company also advocates careful exploration of the shale formations. But it doesn't at all like the general ban on fracking, which also applies to reserves in conventional deposits. "ExxonMobil has already conducted more than 180 fracking operations in Germany," Sieber asserts, "and in not a single case has it contaminated the environment or drinking water."

The engineer feels that he is being put in a straitjacket in the struggle over the fracking license for the "Bötersen Z11" well. "The well site is sealed and the well is secured by several barriers consisting of steel pipes and layers of cement," he says. Besides, he adds, the deposit is kilometers below the strata containing groundwater.

Nevertheless, the state agency is still refusing to hand out permits. "The documents that were submitted are incomplete," says Windhaus. He is referring, among other things, to a hydrogeological report that ExxonMobil says is more complex than any such reports requested in the past.

Sieber is standing at the drilling site, which resembles a huge, empty parking lot, looking at the cart in the adjacent field plastered with protester posters. ExxonMobil has invested about €20 million ($26 million) in Bötersen Z11. If it doesn't get its fracking license, it will be a wasted investment.

It's certainly not the kind of money that could put a serious dent into an oil company's profits, and Sieber doesn't want to focus on the investment as an argument. "According to our estimates," he says, "the well could produce 500 million cubic meters of natural gas, or enough to supply 250,000 households with energy for one year."

Now that number, says the ExxonMobil engineer, sounds a lot better.
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Rad
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« Reply #95 on: Oct 07, 2012, 06:49 AM »

October 6, 2012

Scientists Adopt Tiny Island as a Warming Bellwether

By STACEY SOLIE
NYT

TATOOSH ISLAND, Wash. — From a stretch of rocky shoreline on this tiny island, one can, on any given morning, watch otters floating on their backs, elephant seals hauling out of the water and a bald eagle flying past murres huddled along a cliff face. The startled birds perform a synchronized dive into the sea, their ovoid black-and-white bodies resembling miniature penguins.

It appears as if the island’s wildlife is thriving at this remote outpost, which is also a former Coast Guard station crowned by a decommissioned lighthouse. It was also once a whaling base for the Makah tribe, who maintain treaty rights to the land.

But for over four decades, with the blessing of Makah leaders, Tatoosh has been the object of intense biological scrutiny, and scientists say they are seeing disturbing declines across species — changes that could prove a bellwether for oceanic change globally.

Cathy Pfister and Timothy Wootton, both biology professors at the University of Chicago, have been trekking to the island since the 1980s, often accompanying their former graduate adviser, Robert T. Paine, a nominally retired zoology professor from the University of Washington. At 79, Dr. Paine still returns to Tatoosh several times a year to continue the ecological research he began in the 1960s.

Dr. Pfister and Dr. Wootton met and fell in love while studying the island’s species with Dr. Paine. Now married, they often bring their two children on research trips, where the family sleeps in bunk beds in a one-room cabin, a former Coast Guard facility affectionately dubbed the “Winter Palace.”

On their frequent visits to the island, usually lasting several days each, the researchers haul duffel bags of clothing and equipment up a steep path cut into the rock until the landscape plateaus into a field of salmonberry bramble. It is no quiet retreat. The dull roar of the surf, the screeching gulls, the groaning seals and a distant foghorn all layer into a cacophony on the island. Even the mussel beds creak and crackle.

Among the declines the researchers are noticing: historically hardy populations of gulls and murres are only half what they were 10 years ago, and only a few chicks hatched this spring. Mussel shells are notably thinner, and recently the mussels seem to be detaching from rocks more easily and with greater frequency.

Goose barnacles are also suffering, and so are the hard, splotchy, wine-colored coralline algae, which appear like graffiti along rocky shorelines.

While not entirely understood, the declines are not entirely mysterious. Biologists suspect that the shifts are related to huge declines in the water’s pH, a shift attributed to the absorption of excess carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in ever-greater amounts by the burning of fossil fuels for energy.

As the carbon dioxide is absorbed, it alters the oceanic water chemistry, turning it increasingly acidic. Barnacles, oysters and mussels find it more difficult to survive, which can cause chain reactions among the animals that eat those species, like birds and people.

During a research trip in 2000, Dr. Pfister and Dr. Wootton first began testing the pH of water samples. They found the water around Tatoosh and along nearby coastlines to be 10 times as acidic as what accepted climate change models were predicting. Even after collecting seven years of data, when they published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2008, their data were met with skepticism.

“People think we just don’t know how to use the instrument — I still hear that,” Dr. Pfister said. “Luckily for our reputations, I guess, this has been corroborated by a lot of other people.”

It was on this island and a nearby mainland shore that Dr. Paine developed his keystone species hypothesis, which describes how top predators dominate an ecosystem, often to the benefit of species diversity.

Now, the island species are once again helping to solve important biological questions. Mussels appear to be succumbing more easily to crashing waves, with barren patches on the rocks growing larger and appearing with greater frequency, said Dr. Wootton, who carefully documents patch sizes at various island sites.

“We all agree, it just looks different,” Dr. Pfister said, pointing to a weedy-looking barren area near where Dr. Paine conducted his studies. More research needs to be done to definitively explain what is happening, she added.

While their parents are out counting barnacles or collecting water samples, the children, Anna, 9, and Ben, 12, lie in their bunks and read. Or they head out to try to catch a fish for dinner, hopping and skipping their way across slippery rocks and past several dark caves to a perch on the island’s north end.

What the researchers call “happy time” comes in the afternoon when the tides return and they gather — along with a rotating cadre of graduate students — outside the Winter Palace on an old dock laid out on the lawn to compare notes, gossip and have a snack.

Everyone gets a brownie, courtesy of Dr. Pfister, but only one — and everyone keeps close watch.

“Being a graduate adviser is like doing a second round of parenting,” Dr. Paine said.

He speaks of the calcareous sponges that live in the caves of Tatoosh and, like hard-shell species, use dissolved calcium carbonate, in this case to form their skeletons or spicules, thus making them vulnerable in more acidic waters.

“Almost nothing is known about this species,” Dr. Paine said.

“No one in their right mind has the time to sample calcareous sponges, let alone recognize them,” he added. “They’re likely to disappear.”

While some species may be able to adapt to new oceanic conditions, many will not.

“You can predict change,” Dr. Paine said, “and most of the changes are going to be in a direction we don’t want.”


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Wendy
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« Reply #96 on: Oct 07, 2012, 07:22 PM »

Thanks Rad.  Demetra George links Ceres to Scorpio and Virgo.  I hope to follow this issue astrologically to understand more about it. 

Here's a video about GMO's http://www.naturalnews.com/037438_GMO_time_bomb_Gary_Null.html by Gary Null....

I have been thinking about this a great deal lately.  Ceres is currently 1 Cancer, she will eventually oppose Pluto and square Uranus exact in May 2012, and retrogrades first back into Gemini.

GMO's are a major problem...any thoughts Rad about what astro sign and planet rules food and GMO's.  I assume it is Taurus and Ceres.

Thanks,
Wendy

*********

Hi Wendy,

Food in general is Taurus, and genetically modified food is Scorpio. Remember Scorpio correlates to RNA/DNA and genetics itself. The poisons that he is speaking about is also Scorpio. 

God Bless, Rad
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Rad
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« Reply #97 on: Oct 08, 2012, 07:18 AM »


Scientists claim ‘effective’ way to kill destructive starfish responsible for devastating coral reefs

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, October 8, 2012 8:15 EDT

An Australian research team said Monday they have found an effective way to kill the destructive crown-of-thorns starfish, which is devastating coral reefs across the Pacific and Indian oceans.

The discovery by James Cook University’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Queensland state comes after a study showed the Great Barrier Reef had lost more than half its coral cover in the past 27 years.

Outbreaks of the large, poisonous and spiny starfish, which feast on coral polyps, was linked to 42 percent of the destruction.

Researchers said they have developed a culture that infects the starfish with bacteria and can destroy them in as little as 24 hours.

The bacteria also spreads to other starfish that come near or into contact with an infected individual.

The next step will be tests to see if it is safe for other marine life, particularly fish.

“In developing a biological control you have to be very careful to target only the species you are aiming at, and be certain that it can cause no harm to other species or to the wider environment,” said Morgan Pratchett, a professor at the centre.

“This compound looks very promising from that standpoint — though there is a lot of tank testing still to do before we would ever consider trialling it in the sea.”

Outbreaks around tourist sites in Australia are currently controlled using a poison injection delivered by a diver to each starfish.

If the new culture is found to be safe, it would only need a single jab into one starfish, enabling a diver to kill as many as 500 of the creatures in a single dive.

Another scientist from the centre, Jairo Rivera Posada, said that over the past 50 years the starfish had caused more damage to reefs than bleaching.

“There were massive outbreaks in many countries in the 1960s and 1980s — and a new one is well under way on the Great Barrier Reef,” he said, highlighting the urgency of tackling the threat.

“In the current outbreak in the Philippines they removed as many as 87,000 starfish from a single beach,” he added.

“This gives you an idea of the numbers we have to deal with.”

Posada said other fresh crown-of-thorns outbreaks have been reported from Guam, French Polynesia, Papua New Guinea and the central Indian Ocean.

Research released last week by the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences warned that coral cover on the heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef — the world’s largest — could halve again by 2022 if trends continued.

As well as starfish, intense tropical cyclones and two severe coral bleaching events had been responsible for the damage.

The study pinpointed improving water quality as key to controlling starfish outbreaks, with increased agricultural run-off such as fertiliser along the reef coast causing algal blooms that starfish larvae feed on.

The Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies scientists agreed.

“Any attempts to control these outbreaks will be futile without also addressing the root cause of outbreaks, including loss of starfish predators as well as increased nutrients that provide food for larval starfishes,” they said.

Last week, the Australian government admitted the Great Barrier Reef had been neglected for decades, but said it had contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to address the issues over the past five years.
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« Reply #98 on: Oct 08, 2012, 07:20 AM »


Activists stockpile urine and boulders to disrupt mass badger-killing in the U.K.

By Will Coldwell, The Guardian
Sunday, October 7, 2012 21:40 EDT

Dark days are approaching for badgers. Since the government gave the go-ahead to a trial cull in an attempt to protect cattle from bovine TB, up to 100,000 badgers could be shot. Trained marksmen are preparing for the cull, which will involve using bait to lure the creatures out of their setts before shooting them.

Yet subversive forces are never far afield. “Jay”, spokesperson for the Bristol-based animal rights group Stop the Cull, explains that since badgers are easily disturbed, noise and lights should send them safely back underground. Likewise, if they come across any people, the marksmen are legally required to break (i.e., disarm) their rifles.

Police in Gloucestershire and Somerset, where the first culls are due to take place, warn that disrupting licensed culling could lead to a charge of aggravated trespass. “In farms with licences we will not disrupt the cull,” says Jay, “but we will make sure it proceeds legally. We will wear hi-vis jackets, use very bright torches to film, and vuvuzelas to make sure shooters know we’re there and we’re not shot.”

Dismantling any snares would be a serious offence, says Jay. “It used to be done with bolt-cutters but it can actually be done with boulders, which means you’re not walking around the countryside with anything that can get you done by the police.” Bait points, meanwhile, can be “neutralised” by peeing on them, as badgers hate the smell.

Yet Lee Moon of the Hunt Saboteurs Association says that the sheer volume of people preparing to go out in opposition to the cull – hundreds are expected – should be enough. “I think we’re going to be successful,” he says. “This is not rocket science.”

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2012

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« Reply #99 on: Oct 14, 2012, 08:59 AM »

Hi All,

For all of us here care about what is happening on our planet due to human activity please read and watch. God Bless, Rad

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James Balog on Capturing our Disappearing Glaciers

October 11, 2012

James Balog, one of the world’s premier nature photographers, joins Bill to explain how “the earth is having a fever.” At tremendous risk to his own safety, Balog has been documenting the erosion of glaciers in Switzerland, Greenland, Iceland, and Alaska. Now he joins Bill to share his amazing photos, discoveries, and self-discoveries –  including his transformation from climate change skeptic to true believer, and his mission to capture footage of these destructive environmental consequences before it’s too late. Balog’s soon-to-be-released film, Chasing Ice, is a breathtaking account of climate change in action.

“What made me a skeptic 30 years ago was that I didn’t have it in my head that it was possible that our species, homo sapiens, was capable of so profoundly altering the basic physics and chemistry of the planet,” Balog tells Bill. “And of course the revelation that we can alter the physics and chemistry so profoundly is something that has just emerged in the scientific community in the past ten or 15 years… It’s a really revolutionary idea.”

Click here to watch the trailer for this movie:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&list=PL0bSMv2XEzaQuzeuaSHvxroPBvgYPAQ5S&v=eIZTMVNBjc4

Click here to watch the full interview with this incredible human on the Bill Moyers show:

<iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/51265829?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0" width="400" height="300" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe>

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« Reply #100 on: Oct 15, 2012, 07:29 AM »

 October 15, 2012,

Norway Increases Carbon Tax on Domestic Production

By CHRISTOPHER F. SCHUETZE

How carbon taxes add up around the world.Australian Climate CommissionHow carbon taxes add up around the world.

Norway will nearly double the carbon dioxide tax rate for its offshore oil and gas production in 2013, the country’s environment ministry announced last week.

By raising the tax rate from 210 Norwegian Krone to 410 Krone (or €28 to more than €55) per ton of CO2, the Norwegian government is setting one of the highest carbon tax rates in the world.

“The commitment to the environment must be followed up on in the budget and resolutions,” said Bård Vegar Solhjell, minister of the environment.

Much of the newly generated tax revenue will go into governmental fund devoted to investing in clean energy, the environment and public transportation.

By 2013, 33 countries and 18 so-called sub-national jurisdictions will have some sort of levy associated with the emission of CO2, according to the Australian Climate Commission. In many cases, the tax will not only be a narrow tax on CO2 emissions themselves, but a “carbon price,” a floor on the price of fuels that generate climate-changing emissions fixed by cap and trade schemes as well as taxes on coal, gasoline and transportation.

Many environmentalists are praising Norway’s new tax, because it is high. But direct comparisons between carbon emission taxes or disincentives around the world are difficult. For example, Sweden’s carbon tax is set at €101 per ton of carbon for consumers, but much less for its industrial producers.

The Australian Climate Commission produced a report to a global context for climate taxes and cost of CO12.  See the graphic above and here showing what countries are doing around the globe. (For a bigger version of the map, click here.)

Australia, the most recent country to impose a new carbon tax, started levying 23 Australian Dollars (about €18) per ton of CO2 emitted in July. Before the tax went into effect the country was one of the world’s biggest carbon polluters per capita, emitting 27.3 tons of CO2 per person, per year, according to its own figures.

Though the carbon tax levied in Australia is much lower than the one just announced by Norway, Australian consumers worried that they would feel the effects of their tax in their wallets.

Here is a video produced by Clean Energy Future that sells the relatively unpopular idea.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=qYBOWAsrJK8

Norway’s steep increase in carbon taxes for energy producers is seen by many as exemplary, especially as it adds to an already green fiscal policy in place in Norway for decades.

”The EU prefers a system that taxes more of what we burn and less of what we earn. If we want to consume less energy, we need a smarter way of taxing,” said Isaac Valero-Ladron, 
EU Spokesman for Climate Action in response to Norway’s new tax.

Mr. Valero-Ladron points to the successes of environmentally progressive tax schemes put into place in Northern European countries during the nineties. According to his data, these tax policies have already led to significantly lower levels of CO2 emissions without impacting economic growth.

“The higher the tax, the more aggressive a signal the government is going to send about the need to lower carbon emissions,” said Janet E. Milne, a professor at the Vermont Law School and the director of its Environmental Tax Policy Institute.

“You have to get fairly high carbon tax rates in order to get a significant long term change in behavior,” she said.


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« Reply #101 on: Oct 17, 2012, 07:21 AM »


Half of all wetlands ‘destroyed since 1900,’ threatening human welfare

By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, October 17, 2012 7:30 EDT

An alarming 50 percent of the world’s wetlands have been destroyed in the last 100 years, threatening human welfare at a time of increasing water scarcity, a new report said.

Wetlands serve as a source of drinking water and provide protection against floods and storms, yet they have been decimated to make space for housing, factories and farms or damaged by unsustainable water use and pollution.

“In just over 100 years we have managed to destroy 50 percent of the world’s wetlands,” said Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme.

“It is a startling figure,” he said at a UN conference in Hyderabad.

The report, compiled by an ongoing research project entitled TEEB, or The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, said coastal wetland losses in some regions, including Asia, have been happening at a rate of 1.6 percent per year.

“Taking mangroves as an example, 20 per cent (3.6 million hectares) of total coverage has been lost since 1980, with recent rates of loss of up to one percent per year,” said the report released Tuesday.

“We need wetlands because our existence, our food and our water is at stake,” said Ritesh Kumar of the environmental group Wetlands International.

Wetlands are known to cover about 13 million square kilometres (five million square miles) of the Earth’s surface, and are a natural sink for Earth-warming carbon dioxide, act as fish nurseries and are important tourist attractions.

In the United States alone, wetlands are estimated to provide $23 billion worth of storm protection every year, the report said.

The report was released at a conference of the UN Convention on Biodiversity, where environment ministers will hold three days of talks from Wednesday to try and raise funds to stop the decline of Earth’s natural resources.


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« Reply #102 on: Oct 17, 2012, 07:23 AM »

World ministers meet for crunch biodiversity talks

By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, October 17, 2012 7:23 EDT

More than 70 environment ministers meet in India on Wednesday for key talks on halting the depletion of Earth’s natural resources, under pressure to put up money to match their political pledges.

The high-level gathering comes two years after UN countries agreed at a conference in Japan to reverse by 2020 the worrying decline in plant and animal species that humans depend on for food, shelter and livelihoods.

The 2010 meeting came up with a 20-point plan which is being hamstrung by a lack of money for conservation programmes at a time of global financial austerity.

“The critical issue really is how to mobilise the necessary financial, technical and human resources,” Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told delegates at a meeting in Hyderabad of the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) on Tuesday.

The convention, to which 193 countries are signatories, marks its 20th anniversary this year.

In that time, it has already missed one key deadline when it failed to meet the target set to halt biodiversity loss by 2010.

Nearly half of amphibian species, a third of corals, a quarter of mammals, a fifth of all plants and 13 percent of the world’s birds are at risk of extinction, according to the “Red List” compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) which is due to be updated on Wednesday.

A three-day minister’s meeting from Wednesday to Friday comes at the tail-end of two weeks of negotiations by senior bureaucrats from 184 CBD parties — talks that delegates say have become stuck on the question of financing.

“Obviously to some extent a financial crisis in many of the traditional donor countries is playing into the negotiations,” UN Environment Programme executive director Achim Steiner told AFP.

“Also there is still work that needs to be done on what exactly is the financial framework, the order of magnitude that we are talking about.”

The next 48 hours of negotiations, he added, “will be on amounts of money”.

Sandrine Belier, one of three European Parliament negotiators in Hyderabad, added: “The European Union has not succeeded in forming a common position (on financing), and so it is silent.”

Estimates vary, but experts say hundreds of billions of dollars will be required to achieve the targets set in Japan.

These include halving the rate of habitat loss, expanding water and land areas under conservation, preventing the extinction of species on the threatened list, and restoring at least 15 percent of degraded ecosystems by 2020.

Current conservation spending is estimated at about $10 billion per year.

“I urge the parties to the CBD to agree to some measures, commitments and targets of resource mobilisation, even if on an interim basis, so as to infuse confidence in parties and also to generate momentum,” India’s environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan told delegates on Tuesday.
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« Reply #103 on: Oct 17, 2012, 07:24 AM »

Scientists have ‘limited knowledge’ of how climate change causes extinction

By Ian Sample, The Guardian
Wednesday, October 17, 2012 8:58 EDT

Review finds loss of plants and animals due to global warming is already widespread, but the causes are poorly understood

A major review into the impact of climate change on plants and animals has found that scientists have almost no idea how it drives various species to extinction.

Though some organisms struggle to cope physiologically with rising temperatures – a simple and direct result of climate change – there was scarce evidence this was the main climate-related threat to many species whose numbers were already falling.

More often, climate change took its toll on life through more complex and indirect routes, such as reducing the abundance of food, making diseases more rife, and disturbing natural encounters between species, the review concludes.

The report warns that scientists have “disturbingly limited knowledge” on the crucial issue, and that many species may become extinct long before their inability to cope physically with warmer conditions becomes a danger.

“This is arguably the most important topic in biology and the simple question of what actually causes a population to go extinct through climate change is completely understudied,” said John Wiens, an evolutionary ecologist at Stony Brook University in New York.

Understanding the precise ways that climate change impacted on different species was now “an urgent priority” for future research, he added.

Wien’s group analysed 136 published studies that described local extinctions attributed to climate change. Only seven of the papers identified a primary mechanism for the species’ disappearance. None showed a simple relationship between species loss and the organism’s tolerance of higher temperatures.

Despite a wealth of studies describing how species adapted to climate change, by moving to new habitats, for example, Wiens said the details of how climate forces populations into decline were still largely unknown.

Writing in the journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the researchers describe various ways that climate change can endanger species. Frogs in Central and South America can suffer when climate change causes fungus to spread more easily; plovers in Britain are affected when higher summer temperatures reduce populations of craneflies, and grey jays in Canada were less likely to survive the winter and breed the following year when warm autumn temperatures caused their food hordes to rot.

These subtle shifts in the way species behave may make even small climatic changes dangerous for vulnerable plants and animals, Wiens said.

“If you want to preserve species you need to know what causes them to decline. Do the plants they feed on disappear? Does a competitor move into their range, or a new predator? Or maybe it is just too hot for that species,” he added.

Having analysed papers that linked extinctions to climate change, the researchers repeated the exercise for studies that linked climate change to population declines, and rapid swings in climate to extinctions and declines. In each case, the most common dangers were classed as disruptions in species encounters, such as the loss of symbiotic algae from corals, declines in figs, which damaged fig wasp numbers, and the death of corals leading to a loss of fish that feed on them.


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« Reply #104 on: Oct 18, 2012, 07:20 AM »

Hundreds of plants and animals added to ‘threatened’ list

By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, October 17, 2012 15:41 EDT

HYDERABAD, India — An island-dwelling cockroach and a tiny snail were declared extinct Wednesday while 400 plants and animals were added to a threatened “Red List” as global environment ministers met in India.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) updated its authoritative study on the state of biodiversity on Earth, saying 20,219 species were at risk of dying out.

It added 402 species such as the Egyptian dab lizard and the Sichuan Taimen, a fresh water fish from China, to the “Red List”, which puts them in the threatened category.

Two invertebrates, a cockroach from the Seychelles last seen in 1905 and a freshwater snail called Little Flat-Top from the US state of Alabama, have moved into the extinct category since the last update of the bi-annual survey in June.

“These are species that do not occur anywhere else in the world,” the IUCN’s director of biodiversity conservation Jane Smart said at a UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) conference in Hyderabad, southern India.

The report also showed that 83 percent of Madagascar’s 192 palm species, which the poor rely on heavily for food and housing, are at risk of extinction.

They include the “Suicide Palm”, which grows up to 18 metres (60 feet) in height and dies a few months after flowering and producing seeds. Only 30 mature specimens are known to exist in the wild today.

A quarter of the world’s mammals, 13 percent of birds, 41 percent of amphibians and 33 percent of reef-building corals are at risk of extinction, according to the IUCN.

There was also some happy news, however, with the IUCN saying eight species had moved out of the extinct category due to new sightings.

They include a Tanzanian tree, Erythrina schliebenii, five types of mollusc, a dwarf toad from Sri Lanka, and Holdridge’s Toad, a species from Costa Rica.

The gathering comes two years after UN countries approved a 20-point plan at a conference in Japan for reversing the worrying decline in plant and animal species that humans depend on for food, shelter and livelihoods.

Execution of the plan has been hamstrung by a lack of funding and the Hyderabad talks are being closely watched for new financial commitments.

Environmental economist Pavan Sukhdev said Wednesday that an expert panel had concluded that between $150-440 billion (115 to 330 billion euros) would be needed annually to meet the Japan goals, dubbed the Aichi biodiversity targets.

Current conservation spending is estimated at about $10 billion per year.

With a 2020 deadline, the targets include halving the rate of habitat loss, expanding conservation areas, preventing the extinction of species on the threatened list, and restoring at least 15 percent of degraded ecosystems.

“The cost of inaction is something that people have only just begun to appreciate,” UN Environment Programme executive director Achim Steiner warned.

“When you run out of water, when you run out of arable land… and your rivers run dry, when your lakes silt up, when your fisheries collapse, then it is often too late to start talking about the value of biodiversity ecosystems.”

The three-day ministers’ meeting comes at the end of two weeks of talks by senior officials from 184 parties to the conference — negotiations that delegates say have become stuck on the question of financing in a time of economic austerity.

The convention, to which 193 countries are signatories, marks its 20th anniversary this year.

It has already missed one key deadline when it failed to meet the target set to halt biodiversity loss by 2010.

The updated Red list, assessing 65,518 known species of animals and plants, lists 795 as extinct and 63 as surviving only in captivity.
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