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Author Topic: Pluto in Cap, the climate, ecology and environment topic  (Read 144421 times)
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« Reply #645 on: Sep 01, 2013, 07:24 AM »

Fukushima radiation levels 18 times higher than previously thought

Operator of Japanese nuclear power plant claims there has been no leak but has yet to discover cause of radiation spike

Justin McCurry in Tokyo, Sunday 1 September 2013 10.22 BST   

Radiation levels 18 times higher than previously reported have been found near a water storage tank at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, prompting fresh concern over safety at the wrecked facility.

The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), said radiation near the bottom of the tank measured 1,800 millisieverts an hour – high enough to kill an exposed person in four hours.

Tepco said water levels inside the tank had not changed, indicating there had not been a leak. But the firm said it had yet to discover the cause of the radiation spike.

Last month Tepco said another storage tank of the same design as the container causing concern this weekend had leaked 300 tonnes of radioactive water, possibly into the sea.

Japan's nuclear watchdog confirmed last week it had raised the severity of that leak from level 1, an "anomaly", to level 3, a "serious incident", on an eight-point scale used by the International Atomic Energy Agency for radiological releases.

Earlier, the utility belatedly confirmed reports that a toxic mixture of groundwater and water being used to cool melted fuel lying deep inside the damaged reactors was seeping into the sea at a rate of about 300 tonnes a day.

Experts said those leaks, which are separate from the most recent incidents, may have started soon after the plant was struck by a powerful tsunami on 11 March 2011.

The tsunami smashed into the plant after Japan's north-east coast was rocked by a magnitude-9.0 earthquake. The waves killed almost 19,000 people, while the resulting triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi forced 160,000 people to abandon their homes.

The high radiation levels announced on Sunday highlighted the dangers facing thousands of workers as they attempt to contain, treat and store water safely, while preventing fuel assemblies damaged in the accident from going back into meltdown.

Japan's nuclear workers are allowed an annual accumulative radiation exposure of 50 millisieverts. Tepco said radiation of 230 millisieverts an hour had been measured at another tank, up from 70 millisieverts last month. A third storage tank was emitting 70 millisieverts an hour, Tepco said. Radiation near a pipe connecting two other tanks had been measured at 230 millisieverts.

Tepco admitted recently that only two workers had initially been assigned to check more than 1,000 storage tanks on the site. Neither of the workers carried dosimeters to measure their exposure to radiation, and some inspections had not been properly recorded.

The firm responded to growing criticism of its handling of the water problem by increasing the number of workers patrolling the tanks from the current total of eight to 50.

The firm's inability to safely store contaminated water and prevent more damage to the environment has prompted doubts about its ability to lead the Fukushima Daiichi cleanup. Decommissioning the plant is expected to cost tens of billions of dollars and last around 40 years.

Tepco recently set up a committee to focus on the water leaks and said it would seek advice from foreign decommissioning experts. The prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has said the government will play a bigger role in preventing water contamination.

The chairman of the country's Nuclear Regulation Authority, Shunichi Tanaka, said: "We cannot fully stop contaminated water leaks right away. That's the reality. The water is still leaking in to the sea, and we should better assess its environmental impact."

Tepco's handling of the leaks has drawn an angry response from local fishermen, who had to abandon plans to conduct a trial catch at the end of August. Fishermen south of Fukushima Daiichi have not been able to fish commercially since the disaster, while those north of the plant can catch only octopus and whelks.

"We think that contaminated water management by your company has completely fallen apart," Hiroshi Kishi, chairman of the Japan Fisheries Co-operative, told Tepco's president, Naomi Hirose, during a meeting in Tokyo last week.

"This has dealt an immeasurable blow to the future of Japan's fishing industry, and we are extremely concerned."

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« Reply #646 on: Sep 02, 2013, 07:07 AM »

Cattle ranching goes green in the Brazilian Amazon

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, September 1, 2013 23:30 EDT

In a remote corner of the Brazilian Amazon, farmer Lacir Soares is promoting sustainable cattle rearing that shuns deforestation and meets the environmental requirements of a new forestry law.

His venture, supported by the cattle industry and environmentalists, illustrates how things are changing in the Amazon region.

Over the past decade, cattle ranching has driven deforestation and many consumers were concerned that the meat they were buying was responsible for destroying the world’s biggest rain forest.

Today, field rotation coupled with genetic improvement of cattle and better pastures help Soares produce more in his “Boqueirao” farm without damaging the forest.

With more than 200 million head of cattle, Brazil is the world’s top beef exporter — 20 percent of beef exports come from the Amazon region — but it also leads in low productivity: one cow per hectare (about 2.5 acres).

Soares manages to feed 2.3 head per hectare thanks to his more sustainable practices.

“The balance between cattle and forest is not just a legal obligation, it also ensures higher productivity,” said Soares, a fit 69-year-old farmer and lawyer sweating under the stifling heat.

He knows that respecting the environment is the key to his economic survival.

— The fight against deforestation –

Four years ago, the fight against deforestation in the Amazon intensified when state prosecutors targeted 13 major meat producers and threatened 72 supermarkets, shoe and cosmetic firms with legal action if they bought products from deforested areas.

The environmental group Greenpeace then released an explosive report alleging that meat and leather from deforested areas were finding their way into the industry that supplies top shoe and fashion companies as well as supermarkets and even the car industry.

The allegations pushed the industry into seeking more effective programs, said Fernando Sampaio, executive head of the Brazilian Meat Exporters Association.

Part of the solution came from technology.

In a huge area where access is difficult, satellite maps updated almost in real time make it possible to monitor where illegal logging is taking place.

Under the new forestry legislation that took effect last October, the federal government requires producers to submit to a census which determines the forest areas that must be preserved.

– A sustainable meat business –

Marfrig, Brazil’s second biggest meat processor and distributor, also moved to promote sustainability.

It joined hands with US retail giant Walmart and the US environmental group, The Nature Conservancy, to turn some local farms into environmental and economic models of meat production that can be replicated in other parts of the Amazon.

One example is Soares’ ranch, touted as proof that sustainability can be good business.

“Without such sustainable practices, perhaps we could not have sold to markets such as Europe where consumers are very environmentally conscious,” said Mathias Almeida, Marfrig’s sustainability manager.

In Paris this year, the luxury brand Gucci launched a bag made with Amazon leather that includes environmental sustainability certification.

“The siege of cattle ranchers relying on deforestation has helped to drastically curb deforestation,” prosecutor Daniel Azeredo Avelino told AFP.

He said that most major meat producers have accepted the bargain.

“If they persist in deforesting, they will lose access to markets,” he said.

Years earlier, a similar deal with the soybean industry, which is much more concentrated and easier to control, made it possible to slow illegal logging in the region.

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« Reply #647 on: Sep 02, 2013, 07:10 AM »

Crop pests moving polewards through global warming

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, September 1, 2013 21:00 EDT

Crop-damaging insects, bacteria, fungus and viruses are moving poleward by nearly three kilometres (two miles) each year, helped by global warming, a study said on Sunday.

A team at Britain’s University of Exeter trawled through two huge databases to chart the latitude and dates for the earliest record of 612 crop pests.

Since 1960, these pests have been heading either northwards or southwards at a rate of around 2.7 kilometres (1.7 miles) yearly.

They move into land that opens up for habitat because of higher temperature and its impact on local weather.

The distance is an average figure, as some pests have travelled faster or slower than this.

Over the last half-century, global surface temperatures have risen by an average of 0.12 degrees Celsius (0.2 degrees Fahrenheit) per decade.

Countries at higher latitudes have more resources than economies in tropical zones in combating the problem, and regions that previously were too cold for agriculture will also open up to the plough.

Even so, the peril of advancing pests should not be under-estimated, as these countries are the planet’s biggest and most productive crop growers, says the paper.

“If crop pests continue to march polewards as the Earth warms, the combined effects of a growing world population and the increased loss of crops to pests will pose a serious threat to global food security,” said one of the authors, Dan Bebber.

The study, appearing in the journal Nature Climate Change, cites previously published estimates that between 10 and 16 percent of the world’s crop production is lost to pests.

Losses of this kind add to the challenge of feeding the world’s population, which currently stands at 7.2 billion and is projected to reach 10.9 billion by 2100.

Half of the pests are spread by humans, hitchhiking for instance on traded produce, and half are spread by the weather.

Recent examples include the mountain pine beetle, a highly damaging pest for forests, which has moved into newly warmed habitats in the US Pacific northwest.

There is also fusarium head blight, also called scab, which has emerged as a threat to wheat in the United States, its spread encouraged by warm, wet weather.

Another peril is rice blast fungus, which is present in over 80 countries and has now moved to wheat.

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« Reply #648 on: Sep 03, 2013, 06:15 AM »

John Kerry: Science on climate change is ‘irrefutable and it is alarming’

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, September 2, 2013 12:44 EDT

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday the evidence for climate change was beyond dispute but it was not too late for international action to prevent its worst impacts.

“The science is clear. It is irrefutable and it is alarming,” Kerry told a climate conference in Majuro in the Marshall Islands in a video address from Washington.

“If we continue down our current path, the impacts of climate change will only get worse.”

Kerry said without strong, immediate action, the world would experience threats to critical infrastructure, regional stability, public health, economic vitality, and the long-term viability of some states.

Washington’s top diplomat was addressing climate experts meeting on the eve of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in the Marshall Islands, a low-lying nation where rising seas threaten to swamp many atolls.

“I stand with you in the fight against climate change,” he pledged, adding the issue was a global crisis that was beyond one country to fix and needed urgent global action.

“If we act together, there is still time to prevent some of the worst impacts of climate change,” he said. “But the people of the Pacific Islands know as well as anyone that we also need to prepare communities for the impacts that are already being felt.”

Kerry is not attending the PIF, with Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell representing the United States instead.

Earlier, European Union Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said the threat facing low-lying island nations showed that international action on the issue was overdue.

Hedegaard expressed concern that some countries may try to delay a 2015 deadline for implementing reductions in emissions and increasing reliance on alternative energy sources.

She said Europe and the Pacific island nations would work together to push the international community to honour the deadline.

“We have to make a joint pressure to say the world is already more than late (in addressing climate change),” she told the conference in the capital Majuro.

“2015 must be taken seriously.”

Hedegaard said that even though the Pacific islands were not responsible for climate change, they were willing to accept tough emissions targets, making it difficult for other nations not to follow suit.

The 15 PIF nations include islands states such as Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshalls, where many atolls are barely a metre (three feet) above sea level and risk being engulfed by rising waters.

The PIF is set to finalise a “Majuro Declaration” on climate change this week, which aims to reinvigorate global efforts to contain global warming.

Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga said the situation was “dire” and the Pacific needed immediate action, not vague promises to do something a few years down the track.

“We need concrete action on the ground to save Tuvalu, Marshall Islands and Kiribati,” he said.

“We have to send a very strong signal out of this panel and forum that we need a legally binding agreement (on greenhouse gas emissions).”

The plan is to then present the declaration to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the General Assembly meeting in New York at the end of September, “to reenergise the international community”.

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« Reply #649 on: Sep 03, 2013, 06:17 AM »

U.N researchers: Global warming clock is at ‘five minutes to midnight’

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, September 2, 2013 21:30 EDT

Humanity has pushed the world’s climate system to the brink, leaving itself only scant time to act, the head of the UN’s group of climate scientists said on Monday.

“We have five minutes before midnight,” warned Rajendra Pachauri, whose organisation will this month release the first volume of a new assessment of global warming and its impacts.

“We may utilise the gifts of nature just as we choose, but in our books the debits are always equal to the credits,” Pachauri told a conference marking the 20th anniversary of the environmental organisation Green Cross International, quoting fellow Indian Mahatma Gandhi.

“May I submit that humanity has completely ignored, disregarded and been totally indifferent to the debits?

“Today we have the knowledge to be able to map out the debits and to understand what we have done to the condition of this planet,” Pachauri said.

The IPCC is made up of several hundred scientists worldwide.

It is due to release the first volume of its long-awaited Fifth Assessment Report on September 27.

The first tome will look at the scientific evidence for climate change; two more follow next year, focussing on the impacts and the options for tackling the problem.

A leaked draft two weeks ago said that human activity is almost certainly the cause of climate change.

The draft also forecast that sea levels could rise by 90 centimetres (three feet) by the end of the century, and all but dismissed recent claims of a slowdown in the pace of warming which climate-change sceptics have seized upon.

In its previous reports, the IPCC has warned that unbraked warming will drive many species to extinction and hike the frequency or intensity of droughts, heatwaves and floods, affecting food security and water supplies for many millions.

“We cannot isolate ourselves from anything that happens in any part of this planet. It will affect all of us in some way or the other,” Pachauri said.

Reining in greenhouse-gas emissions was still possible if countries, including in the developing world, rethought their approach to economic growth, he said.

That would boost energy security, cut pollution and improve health, and also offer new job opportunities, he added.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

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« Reply #650 on: Sep 03, 2013, 06:20 AM »

New Zealand has warmest winter on record

Average temperature over winter in South Pacific nation was highest since record-keeping began in 1909

Associated Press in Wellington, Tuesday 3 September 2013 09.15 BST   

Winter lacked an Antarctic chill this year in New Zealand, to record effect.

Scientists said on Tuesday that the South Pacific nation had its warmest winter since record-keeping began more than a century ago.

The average nationwide temperature was 9.5C (49.1F) for June, July and August, about 1.2C above average and 0.3C above the previous record set in 1984, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research said. Record-keeping began in 1909.

This year's unusually balmy winter was fuelled by a pattern of warmer winds from the north coupled with fewer of the southerly winds that typically bring cold air from Antarctica, Niwa climate scientist Brett Mullan said. Mullan believes that while global weather remain variable, it is warming.

The mild winter was a boon for farmers, who have been recovering from a punishing summer drought as it allowed grass to sprout in parched fields.

Nor did the warmer climate cause problems for New Zealand's skiers.

Annah Dowsett, a spokeswoman for the Whakapapa and Turoa ski fields on Mount Ruapehu, said dumps of snow early in the ski season followed by weeks of pleasant weather provided the perfect conditions.

She said the fields hosted above-average numbers of skiers throughout winter and Turoa went for an unusually long stretch of 46 days without needing to close once for inclement weather.

"It's certainly been pleasant," she said. "August is usually windy and snowy and cold."

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« Reply #651 on: Sep 03, 2013, 06:22 AM »

Japan earmarks £300m+ for Fukushima cleanup

Tokyo unveils measures to decontaminate toxic water at nuclear power plant as Tepco struggles to prevent leaks into Pacific

Justin McCurry in Tokyo, Tuesday 3 September 2013 09.42 BST

Japan's government is to spend almost $500m (£320m) in an attempt to contain leaks and decontaminate highly toxic water at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The measures, announced on Tuesday, come as the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), struggles to prevent leaks into the Pacific Ocean and to find a way to contain and treat the huge volume of water that has accumulated at the site since it was hit by a tsunami in March 2011.

The decision is widely seen as a safety appeal just days before the International Olympic Committee chooses between Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid on which city will host the 2020 Olympics.

The prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said the government would take a more active role in the biggest nuclear cleanup in history, amid mounting concern that Tepco is no longer able to cope alone.

"The world is watching to see if we can carry out the decommissioning of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, including addressing the contaminated water issues," Abe reportedly told cabinet ministers.

Reports said that about 32bn yen of the 47bn yen in new funding would be spent on constructing a 1.4km-long underground frozen wall around four damaged reactors – an untested and expensive technique. The wall would prevent groundwater from mixing with coolant water that becomes contaminated after it comes into contact with melted nuclear fuel.

A further 15bn yen will be spent on improving technology to remove all radioactive particles – except tritium – from the water, or to least reduce them to legally accepted levels.

The head of Japan's nuclear watchdog, Shunichi Tanaka, confirmed on Monday that discharging treated water into the ocean is one option under consideration.

Given the large volumes involved, experts say that Tepco will soon run out of storage space and will have no choice than to discharge or evaporate the contaminated water.

Last month, Tepco belatedly confirmed reports that coolant water was mixing with groundwater and flowing into the sea at a rate of about 300 tons a day.

In a separate incident, the utility, which was effectively nationalised last year when it was saved from collapse with a 1tn yen injection of public funds, said a storage tank had sprung a serious leak. Smaller amounts of tainted water are thought to have breached other tanks and pipes.

Last weekend, workers recorded radiation levels of up to 1,800 millisieverts an hour near one tank. A radiation dose of that size is big enough to kill an unprotected person nearby in about four hours. Tepco said the radiation was emitted in the form of beta rays – which travel only short distances and can be easily shut out – and that workers had not been put at risk.

The new funding was announced days before the International Olympic Committee [IOC] is due to select the host city for the 2020 Olympics. Concern is growing that the water crisis could harm Tokyo's chances of being chosen ahead of Madrid and Istanbul.

But Japanese Olympic officials said the Fukushima crisis should not affect Tokyo's prospects. "There is no risk from Fukushima," Tsunekazu Takeda, who is leading the city's bid, told AFP. "Day-to-day life in Tokyo carries on as normal for its 35 million people.

"The air and water quality is safe. Also the data shows that the radiation level is the same as most cities, like Paris, London and New York. Our main focus is to deliver a great and safe Games."

Abe will deliver Japan's final pitch to the IOC ahead of the decision in Buenos Aires on Saturday evening.

The emergency measures announced on Tuesday do not address the wider problem created by the need to constantly cool the damaged reactors and the resulting buildup of contaminated water. In addition, the new funding represents only a tiny potion of the tens of billions of dollars experts estimate it will cost to decommission the plant, an operation that is likely to last at least 40 years.

No decision has been taken on who will foot the bill – the state or Tepco.

"This is a matter of public safety, so the country has to take the lead on this issue and respond as quickly as possible. Figuring out who to bill for the costs can come later," Akira Amari, the economics minister, told reporters.

Public criticism of Tepco has intensified in recent months. It initially denied reports of groundwater leaks, and was found to have employed just two workers to conduct twice-daily inspections of more than 1,000 storage tanks containing an estimated 330,000 tons of contaminated water.

To compound Tepco's problems, sources familiar with the situation at the plant say the firm is struggling to hire new workers, as others resign or are forced to leave because they have reached their radiation exposure threshold.

Critics of the nuclear industry, even inside the governing Liberal Democratic party, are beginning to ask why no Tepco executives have been held accountable for the latest string of accidents.

"Is anyone at Tepco taking responsibility for these mistakes?" Reuters quoted Taro Kono, an LDP deputy secretary general, as saying. "I haven't heard of anyone stepping down or being fired. Tepco needs to go down and the government needs to take over."

Senior LDP officials have said that liquidating Tepco is not under consideration.

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« Reply #652 on: Sep 03, 2013, 06:26 AM »

Romanians protest for second day against gold mine

Canadian firm's plan to mine for gold and silver would destroy four mountain tops and wipe out three villages, campaigners say

Reuters, Tuesday 3 September 2013 10.39 BST      

Protesters gathered in Romania's capital Bucharest late on Monday for a second day of protests against the government's support for a plan to open Europe's biggest open-cast gold mine.

The more than 1,000 protesters were surrounded by riot police as they sat down on the street, tapping plastic bottles on the ground, chanting "United we will save Rosia Montana."

Canada's Gabriel Resources Ltd plans to mine 314 tonnes of gold and 1,500 tonnes of silver in the small Carpathian town of Rosia Montana through its local arm, Rosia Montana Gold Corporation, in which the Romanian state also holds a minority stake.

The planned gold quarries would use cyanide and would destroy four mountain tops and wipe out three villages. Campaign groups say it would destroy ancient Roman sites and could cause an environmental disaster.

Romanians protest against goldmine in Bucharest

Click to watch:

Mine supporters say it could bring billions of euros in taxes and many jobs to an economically depressed region, but the project has been stuck for 14 years waiting for a key environmental permit.

The leftist government led by Victor Ponta approved a law last month speeding up the process, with a final vote expected in parliament in September.

On Sunday, protests were held at several cities across the country to oppose the gold mine project and a move to start shale gas exploration.
Rosia Montana gold mine map Map of Rosia Montana's 'golden quadrilateral'

Some protesters called for the resignation of President Traian Basescu and prime minister Ponta who said he had made a "brave and controversial decision" to approve the draft law and send it to parliament.

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« Reply #653 on: Sep 05, 2013, 07:08 AM »

FSA 'endangering public health' by ignoring concerns over GM food

French researcher who claimed GM food caused cancers in rats says UK should review food safety and assess long-term toxicity

John Vidal, Thursday 5 September 2013 12.45 BST

The French researcher who caused a scientific storm when he claimed to show that some GM food led to tumours and cancers in rats has accused the UK Food Standards Agency of "recklessly endangering public health" by not demanding long-term testing of the foods.

In a series of parliamentary and public meetings held this week in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff, Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini has challenged UK politicians and safety authorities to review the way safety is assessed.

Seralini, a molecular biologist at Caen University, said: "Our research found severe toxicity from GM maize and [Monsanto pesticide] Roundup. The British Food Standards Agency has uncritically accepted the European Food Safety Authority's dismissal of the study, even though many of EFSA's experts have been exposed as having conflicts of interest with the GM industry. At the very least, the British government should demand long-term mandatory safety testing on all GM foods before they are released onto the market," he said.

"The British scientific authorities are deliberately misleading their government and are recklessly endangering public health in ignoring the findings of our research."

Seralini's study found that rats developed much higher levels of cancers and died earlier than controls when fed a diet of Monsanto's Roundup-tolerant GM maize NK603 for two years, or were exposed to Roundup over the same period. The usual industry tests last for 90 days.

The former member of two French government committees assessing the safety of GM foods suggested that the results could be explained by the endocrine-disrupting effects of the pesticide Roundup, and over-expression of the transgene in the genetically modified organism (GMO).

But although the €3.2m study was published in a peer-reviewed journal and claimed to be the most thorough long-term testing of GM food ever done, it attracted a torrent of criticism from the industry and some academics. It was refuted by several food standards agencies, including the UK's FSA as "biased, poorly performed, bogus, and substandard."

Monsanto, whose pesticide Roundup is engineered to be in most of the world's GM food crops, said it "did not meet minimum acceptable standards for this type of scientific research."

Seralini, in Britain for the first time since the paper was published, said he had been shocked by the "dishonesty" of many of his critics. "They reacted without checking anything. Mostly their quotes were stupid like 'GM has been used for years so it must be OK'. The fact that they were so violent suggested they had something to hide.

"I have been shocked at the conflicts of interests of so many scientists. There's much more than I thought. The problem is that there is a small group of scientists who attack you without checking the data for themselves. They do not demand the data from Monsanto."

But he said one year on his heavily criticised methodology is now being vindicated. A French government agency has called for tenders to repeat the experiment, and the EFSA has issued new guidelines to assess the risk of long-term toxicity from GM foods which largely validate the way he conducted his experiments. EFSA has also accepted that no standardised protocol or guidelines exist.

"I am not upset with GM, only the way it is controlled and assessed. It is bad for food. We are using the technology to make 'pesticide plants'. The way the technology is used is not neutral. I was in favour of GM. I am a molecular biologist. I believed it would reduce pesticides but I saw it did the opposite."

The problem, he said, was not just the pesticide, in this case Roundup, which is widely known to be highly toxic, but the GM process itself. "This was a landmark finding, to show that the GM 'event' itself is a problem. The GM is designed to produce enzymes which indirectly destroy the protective compounds in the plant.

"I am sorry that the link between GM and pesticides is not made. The GM allows more pesticide to be contained in the plant. Nearly 80% of GMOs are designed to absorb Roundup. The other 20% are designed to produce their own pesticide. We found that pesticides are not really tested."

The issue may not be resolved until both Monsanto and Seralini publish the raw data from their studies. "We have put our data in the hands of a notary and will release it as soon as they release theirs. Monsanto wants to know what data we have. They do not want a comparisonof my data to theirs. They want to hide their data.

"I discovered that their [Monsanto] historical data is wrong. They say to me 'you haven't looked at the historical data.' But I believe their historical data is contaminated. I believe Monsanto and the regulatory authorities have systematically underestimated the side-effects [of GM food]. All the regulatory tests are falsified by contamination of the data."

He said he wants his data to be compared. "That is the only way to show what I have done is 10 times better than they have. My data is just raw data. Theirs is important for the release and consumption of [commercial] food. If I am right, they should go to prison."

An FSA spokeswoman said: "This paper was reviewed by EFSA – and by a number of other regulatory bodies around the world – all of whom agreed that the results did not support these conclusions. EFSA's assessment has been backed by many other bodies who have carried out detailed reviews of the study and of the significance of the results. This includes the national food safety authorities in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark. Our own scientists at the FSA agree with the points raised in these reviews.

"In relation to the claimed link between GM maize and cancer, the study used a strain of rats that is particularly prone to tumours. It is therefore not surprising that tumours were seen both in the GM-fed animals and in the non-GM fed controls. However, the number of animals used in the study was too small to determine whether there were significant differences between the two groups."

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« Reply #654 on: Sep 05, 2013, 07:52 AM »

Protests continue in Bucharest against goldmine plan in Rosia Montana

Romanians demonstrate in the capital against government's support for plan to create Europe's biggest opencast goldmine

Grace Wong, Wednesday 4 September 2013 16.52 BST      

About 1,000 people gathered in Bucharest on Tuesday night for a third day of protests against plans for Europe's biggest opencast goldmine.

Thousands of citizens first took to the streets on Sunday, in cities across the country, spurred by the Romanian government's recent draft bill to allow Canadian company, Gabriel Resources, to mine gold and silver at the Carpathian town, Rosia Montana.

Campaigners have criticised the "special national interest" status the bill would give the mine, which would allow the Romanian branch of Gabriel Resources, Rosia Montana Gold Corporation, to move the few remaining landowners off the site through compulsory purchase orders.

Oana Mondoc, 26, a London-based campaigner, organised and took part in a Sunday solidarity protest at the Romanian Embassy in London, attracting a reported 150 to 200 Romanians and environmental activists.

She said: "It is the symbolic fight of our generation. It's one of the biggest things happening at home and we found out through Facebook and Twitter. Romanians are not known to protest and to question, so the turn out back home was huge.

"Our government has used its position to exploit and not care for its citizens. This is not an issue the majority of people agree with. A private company is being given power in a way that is unheard of through a private contract between the state and this company.

"People will continue protesting until there is a clear indication that parliament votes against this and makes such mines illegal."

Mihnea Blidariu, 34, a Save Rosia Montana campaigner and musician, has attended all three protests and described protesters blocking streets, drumming, singing and organising street sit-ins. He said workshops and debates have been planned alongside a global day of protests on 8 September.

Jari Natunen, a Finnish biochemist, has condemned the plans for the mine, likening it to similar schemes carried out by Finnish mining company, Talvivaara, which has left a legacy of water polluted with uranium and metals.

Supporters of the mine, which has been stalled for 14 years, include President Traian Basescu Basescu and prime minister Victor Ponta, who have said the project will bring jobs to the region and billions of Euros in tax.

The bill is due to be debated in the Romanian parliament within the next two weeks, even as protests continue.

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« Reply #655 on: Sep 06, 2013, 07:31 AM »

New Zealand working to create the world’s largest ocean sanctuary

By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, September 5, 2013 13:26 EDT

New Zealand said on Thursday it may revise its plans to create the world’s largest ocean sanctuary off Antarctica after they were blocked by Russia earlier this year, amid concerns the proposal may be scaled-back.

The plan for a 1.6 million square kilometre (640,000 square mile) fishing-free haven in the Ross Sea, supported by the US, was knocked back after Moscow raised objections at an international meeting in July.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said revising the plan was probably the only way to get it approved at the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), the multi-national organisation which oversees conservation efforts in the Southern Ocean.

“If we are going to get change we’re probably going to have to make some alterations, but it’s a work in progress,” Key told reporters at the Pacific Islands Forum in the Marshall Islands.

“We always knew there was going to be resistance from other parties who either have fishing interests there or believe that they would have fishing interests.”

Key said the amended proposal was yet to be finalised. However Fairfax Media, citing “diplomatic insiders”, said there were fears the protected area could be slashed by up to 40 percent and allow fishing in an area where endangered species breed.

The Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA), a coalition of environmental groups, urged New Zealand and the United States to “hold the line” and resist pressure to scale-back the proposal.

“(We) would be deeply concerned that the US and New Zealand could be giving away too much, leaving us with a protected area that reduces protection for the Ross Sea,” AOA spokesman Steve Campbell said.

“That would mean missing the opportunity to protect some of the most critical and unique marine ecosystems while they are still intact.”

He said the Ross Sea, a deep bay on Antarctica’s Pacific side, was one of the most pristine marine environments on the planet.

Another proposal to protect a 1.9 million square kilometre sanctuary in seas off east Antarctica — backed by Australia, France and the EU — also failed at the July CCAMLR meeting in Germany.

New Zealand will reportedly release its revised Ross Sea plan on Friday, ahead of the next CCAMLR meeting in Hobart, Australia, from October 23.

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« Reply #656 on: Sep 07, 2013, 06:54 AM »

Tullow makes first Arctic oil discovery

UK oil exploration company strikes a reservoir off the far north of Norway, a move which could contain 160m barrels of oil

Terry Macalister   
The Guardian, Friday 6 September 2013 17.22 BST   

Tullow Oil, one of the Britain's most successful exploration groups, has made its first discovery in the Arctic in a move which will encourage more drilling and anger green groups campaigning against fossil fuel extraction in the region.

Shares in Tullow climbed more than 3% as well operator OMV said it had struck a reservoir in the Barents Sea off the far north of Norway which could contain up to 160m barrels of oil and 40bn cubic feet of recoverable gas.

"This is a major frontier light oil discovery for Norway, Tullow Oil and our co-venturers. We look forward to pursuing the exciting exploration and appraisal follow up arising from this breakthrough discovery," said Angus McCoss, exploration director at Tullow, which holds a 20% stake in the prospect.

"The well results are a breakthrough for the regional exploration activities as the presence of good quality oil shows the possible large potential of an area, which will see more exploration drilling in the near future," said OMV in a statement.

The Austrian company said the production licence 537 in which the well was drilled could hold as much as 500m barrels of oil equivalent based on similar geological evidence nearby.

Tullow has become a stock market favourite on the back of major discoveries in Uganda and Ghana that helped establish those African nations as new oil producers.

The company, led by Irishman Aidan Heavey, has also become the targets of various campaign groups who have accused it of political lobbying, tax avoidance and even bribery, allegations it has steadfastly denied.

But the oil strike in the far north is a significant step for Tullow, which last autumn bought a 40% stake in exploration acreage of Greenland just weeks after the boss of French oil group, Total, said drilling in the Arctic should be abandoned because of the potential reputational and environmental damage if there was an oil spill.

In March this year a new government in Greenland put a moratorium on the granting of fresh oil and gas licences in its Arctic waters but existing licences are still valid. British oil company Cairn Energy, which pioneered a new bout of exploration off Greenland two years ago, said it would resume its controversial exploration in that area in 2014.

Greenpeace has made protection of the far north one of its key campaigns and last month its Arctic Sunrise vessel was chased out of Arctic waters by Russian coast guards after it approached a drill rig working for Moscow-based oil company, Rosneft.

Russia and Norway signed an historic agreement to carve up the Barents Sea between them in 2010, a move which was expected to herald much more drilling in the region.

The Oslo government unveiled 20 new exploration licences in the Barents during the summer and Statoil has already made big finds in the more southerly part of the Barents

Andrew Whittock, an oil analyst with Liberum Capital in London, said the Tullow find was significant although these were early days to try to assess the reservoir's ultimate potential. "This proves a new shallow play in the region. Good news but (it) needs more appraisal."

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« Reply #657 on: Sep 07, 2013, 02:43 PM »

Hi Rad, all,
I found this interesting:{ABB2F1B4-F5F7-4452-BB39-9818EA7CB8F9}

Wednesday 04 Sep 13

Danish experiment suggests unexpected magic by cosmic rays in cloud formation

Researchers in the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) are hard on the trail of a previously unknown molecular process that helps commonplace clouds to form. Tests in a large and highly instrumented reaction chamber in Lyngby, called SKY2, demonstrate that an existing chemical theory is misleading.

Back in 1996 Danish physicists suggested that cosmic rays, energetic particles from space, are important in the formation of clouds. Since then, experiments in Copenhagen and elsewhere have demonstrated that cosmic rays actually help small clusters of molecules to form. But the cosmic-ray/cloud hypothesis seemed to run into a problem when numerical simulations of the prevailing chemical theory pointed to a failure of growth.

Fortunately the chemical theory could also be tested experimentally, as was done with SKY2, the chamber of which holds 8 cubic metres of air and traces of other gases. One series of experiments confirmed the unfavourable prediction that the new clusters would fail to grow sufficiently to be influential for clouds. But another series of experiments, using ionizing rays, gave a very different result, as can be seen in the accompanying figure.

The reactions going on in the air over our heads mostly involve commonplace molecules. During daylight hours, ultraviolet rays from the Sun encourage sulphur dioxide to react with ozone and water vapour to make sulphuric acid. The clusters of interest for cloud formation consist mainly of sulphuric acid and water molecules clumped together in very large numbers and they grow with the aid of other molecules.

Atmospheric chemists have assumed that when the clusters have gathered up the day’s yield, they stop growing, and only a small fraction can become large enough to be meteorologically relevant. Yet in the SKY2 experiment, with natural cosmic rays and gamma-rays keeping the air in the chamber ionized, no such interruption occurs. This result suggests that another chemical process seems to be supplying the extra molecules needed to keep the clusters growing.

“The result boosts our theory that cosmic rays coming from the Galaxy are directly involved in the Earth’s weather and climate,” says Henrik Svensmark, lead author of the new report. “In experiments over many years, we have shown that ionizing rays help to form small molecular clusters. Critics have argued that the clusters cannot grow large enough to affect cloud formation significantly. But our current research, of which the reported SKY2 experiment forms just one part, contradicts their conventional view. Now we want to close in on the details of the unexpected chemistry occurring in the air, at the end of the long journey that brought the cosmic rays here from exploded stars.”

(See attachment for graphic data)
Simulating what could happen in the atmosphere, the DTU’s SKY2 experiment shows molecular clusters (red dots) failing to grow enough to provide significant numbers of “cloud condensation nuclei” (CCN) of more than 50 nanometres in diameter. This is what existing theories predict. But when the air in the chamber is exposed to ionizing rays that simulate the effect of cosmic rays, the clusters (blue dots) grow much more vigorously to the sizes suitable for helping water droplets to form and make clouds. (A nanometre is a millionth of a millimetre.)

* tumblr_msqvnlFN1B1rx70ego1_500.jpg (32.29 KB, 500x400 - viewed 87 times.)

* cloud_condensation_nuclei2.jpg (80.34 KB, 300x343 - viewed 57 times.)
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« Reply #658 on: Sep 09, 2013, 05:40 AM »

15-nation Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) pact wins U.S. support to aggressively combat climate change

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, September 8, 2013 2:43 EDT

A new Pacific regional pact calling for aggressive action to combat climate change has achieved a “major accomplishment” by gaining US support, officials said Sunday.

The Majuro Declaration, endorsed by the 15-nation Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) at their summit last week, contains specific pledges on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

The PIF nations, some of which are barely a metre (three feet) above sea level and risk being swamped by rising waters, have since received wide support led by the United States after presenting the document to more than two dozen countries at a post-forum dialogue.

US Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced during the session a new climate change fund for Pacific islands vulnerable to rising sea levels.

“Climate change is the defining challenge of our time,” she said in launching the Pacific-American fund.

Separately, the US was offering $24 million over five years for projects in “vulnerable coastal communities” in the Pacific, she said.

“It’s going to have wide-ranging impacts on every corner of our globe and that’s something that we are already seeing, particularly here as I flew into the airport and saw the sandbags from the last time the water inundated the runway.”

Marshall Islands minister Tony de Brum said the US support was a “major accomplishment”.

“It will serve to convince those who are not convinced yet that it is a good thing to sign on to.”

The European Union, Britain, France, Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia also expressed support for the declaration.

“The Majuro declaration is something we very much welcome,” British Minister of State Hugo Swire said.

“When you come here and see the highest point on the atoll is the bridge that is about three metres above sea level, that brings it home pretty quickly.”

The Majuro Declaration is to be presented to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during the opening of the General Assembly later this month.

* Flooded-Marshall-Islands-via-AFP-e1375357454236.jpg (54.37 KB, 613x344 - viewed 83 times.)
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« Reply #659 on: Sep 10, 2013, 06:12 AM »

Romania expected to reject gold mine following week of protest

Prime minister announces end of draft bill that would have allowed a Canadian company to mine in Rosia Montana

Adam Vaughan, Tuesday 10 September 2013 11.19 BST    

Romania indicated it would reject plans by a Canadian mining firm to create Europe's largest opencast gold mine, following week-long protests by thousands of people across the country.

On Monday, prime minister Victor Ponta said a draft bill to allow Canadian company, Gabriel Resources, to mine gold and silver at the Carpathian town, Rosia Montana, would be rejected by the two chambers of the Romanian parliament because a "majority of lawmakers" opposed it.

"That will be the end of this bill. I, as prime minister, have to find other solutions for foreign investments and the creation of jobs," he said. "As long as it is obvious that there is a majority opposed to the bill, it is useless to waste too much time on it."

Gabriel Resources said it would consider legal action against Romania. "Gabriel is urgently seeking confirmation of the actual statements made and clarification of the impact on the proposed permitting of the project. If the draft legislation is rejected then the company will assess all possible actions open to it, including the formal notification of its intentions to commence litigation for multiple breaches of international investment treaties," it said in a statement.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Bucharest and other cities last week to protest against the project, which has been in limbo for 15 years, and which the mining company has reportedly invested £358m ($583m Canadian dollars). Opponents of the mine said the quarries would use cyanide and destroy four mountain tops, as well as leading to several villages being removed. Campaigners called it "the symbolic fight of our generation".

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