Athens fires burn for second day: 120 square kilometers have been burned, ‘a massive ecological catastrophe’

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Fire approaches houses in the suburb of Drafi, on the mount of Penteli, in Greece on Aug. 23, 2009. Photographer: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images

Aug. 23 (Bloomberg) — Greek firefighters battled a wildfire on the outskirts of the capital Athens that threatened outlying suburbs for a second day, while authorities evacuated hospitals, camping grounds and retirement homes overnight. No casualties were reported.

Strong swirling winds continued to hamper the work of firefighters and aircraft dropping water, Athens Prefect Yannis Sgouras told state NET TV. About 120,000 stremmata (120 square kilometers) have been burned, “a massive ecological catastrophe,” he said.

‘The strength of the winds has increased and the situation remains particularly difficult,” Fire Department spokesman Ioannis Kapakis said in televised statements on NET. From 6:00 a.m. yesterday to 6:00 a.m. today, 83 major fires were reported around the country, with blazes on the islands on Zakynthos, Evia and Skyros among another five considered to be of serious concern, he said.

Read moreAthens fires burn for second day: 120 square kilometers have been burned, ‘a massive ecological catastrophe’

Hawaii: GMO taro ban proposal goes to full council

Monsanto’s patented the genes of their GMO pigs. Now if your pigs have these genes in them and every pig on this planet has them, then you will – theoretically for now – have to pay a fee for every piglet you raise on your farm, even if those pigs belong to a very old race that had nothing to do with Monsanto’s GMO pigs.

Monsanto wants to achieve the same now with ‘ancient’ taro from Hawaii. If you would give your neighbor 10 taro saplings from your garden then you will have to pay a fee for that to Monsanto.

Monsanto’s GMO taro also threatens to alter/destroy the genetics of different varieties of taro plants on Hawaii, which have been cultivated there for thousands of years.

The organic farmers on Hawaii also have to test their papaya plants to prove that they do not have any GMO genes in them because otherwise Japan won’t buy Hawaiian fruits and vegetables!


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Taro plant

WAILUKU – A Maui County Council committee picked up Thursday where it left off six weeks ago to discuss a bill to prohibit genetically modified taro in Maui County.

Economic Development, Agriculture and Recreation Committee members got close to passing the measure, but instead the panel’s five members voted unanimously to forward the “confusing” issue to the entire nine-member County Council.

“So everyone can get an opportunity to participate in the discussion,” committee Chairwoman Jo Anne Johnson said.

The committee was unable to arrive at a consensus even after hearing dozens of testifiers and receiving hundreds of e-mails in support, said Council Member Bill Medeiros, who grew up in Hana eating taro and introduced the ban. It is essential to protect the sacred and healthful staple of the Native Hawaiian people, he argued.

However, Mayor Charmaine Tavares appears to be lukewarm to Medeiros’ plan to protect taro.

The mayor sent a letter to the committee, stating that she does not support a ban against genetic modification of taro, at least for now. Tavares said the law would be unenforceable because there are no “reputable scientific tests” to distinguish between authentic and genetically modified taro.

Read moreHawaii: GMO taro ban proposal goes to full council

Toxic seaweed spreading on France’s northern coast

The French environmental group ‘Eau et Rivieres’ says that almost 70,000 cubic meters of seaweed has to be cleared off from 70 beaches every summer in Brittany.

The Lannion hospital in Brittany has said that the hydrogen sulphide is as dangerous as cyanide. The hospital has already treated many cases of poisoning caused by the seaweed among local residents. This included one council worker who was paid to clear beaches of algae. The woman was found in a coma. (Full article: Here)


toxic-seaweed
Algae on French coast “giving off deadly gas”.

SAINT-BRIEUC, France — Mounds of putrified green algae are building up on France’s northern coast, releasing poisonous fumes blamed for the recent death of a horse and the collapse of the rider.

Part of the coastline has been declared off-limits as local authorities acknowledge they are unable to get rid of the decomposing seaweed that has washed up on shores in more than 80 communities across Brittany.

Green groups accuse President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government of turning a blind eye to an “environmental cancer” caused by the algae and blame intensive farming for producing nitrates that feed the seaweed’s toxicity.

Veterinarian Vincent Petit lost consciousness and his horse collapsed when he slipped on a patch of rotting algae near the beach of Saint-Michel-en-Greve on July 28.

The horse died almost instantly and Petit was pulled to safety by a crew of workers who happened to be nearby.

The veterinarian has since threatened to sue local authorities for reckless endangerment, raising alarm in a string of coastal communities in Brittany’s Cote d’Armor region.

“The death of the horse may be the opportunity to get things moving so that finally, something is done,” said Rene Ropartz, mayor of Saint-Michel-en-Greve.

Read moreToxic seaweed spreading on France’s northern coast

Sugar Rallies 40% in Options, Price Surged 76% This Year

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Farmer Birbal Singh works in a sugar cane field in Asmoli, Aug. 6, 2009. Photographer: Keith Bedford/Bloomberg

Aug. 10 (Bloomberg) — Damaged crops from India to Brazil mean the world won’t have enough sugar for a second straight year.

Global demand will exceed output by as much as 5 million metric tons in the year through September 2010, leading to a record two-year shortfall, according to the International Sugar Organization in London. Parts of Brazil, the largest grower, are drenched by rainfall four times more than normal and too wet to harvest. India, the biggest consumer, had its driest June in 83 years and may double imports.

The number of options to buy sugar for delivery in March at 30 cents a pound, 44 percent higher than the Aug. 7 price in New York, has jumped more than 18-fold in four months. The rally is boosting expenses for food makers from Kellogg Co. to Kraft Foods Inc. and increasing profits for Cosan SA Industria e Comercio, the largest cane processor.

“I haven’t seen sugar fundamentals being so severely unbalanced in my time,” said Adam Leetham, the Gurgaon, India- based director of Czarnikow Group who has been tracking the domestic industry since 1994. “It’s not just India. You see fundamental deficits in a number of large markets. It certainly looks like we will enter uncharted territory.”

Hedge funds and other large speculators more than doubled net-long positions, or bets prices will rise, to 206,330 contracts this year, the most since a record 240,792 in January 2008, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show.

40-Cent Option

Sugar surged 76 percent this year, reaching 20.85 cents a pound last week, the highest since April 1981. Bajaj Hindusthan Ltd., India’s biggest producer, predicts it may reach 25 cents by yearend, and Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd. estimates 30 cents.

The number of 40-cent call options for March 2010 has quintupled to 18,800 contracts in the past four months. A call contract gives the holder the right but not the obligation to purchase a commodity at a given price by a specific date.

Global use may rise 1.3 percent to 161 million tons in the 2009-2010 marketing year, surpassing production of 156.9 million tons and draining inventories, according to Macquarie Bank Ltd. in London.

“Sugar is certainly going to go much, much higher during the course of the bull market,” Jim Rogers, chairman of Rogers Holdings, said in an Aug. 6 interview in Singapore. “Sugar is still 70 percent below its all-time high and not many things in life are 70 percent below what they were in 1974. Sugar has a wonderful future.”

Read moreSugar Rallies 40% in Options, Price Surged 76% This Year

China’s east coast battered by typhoon


Waves as high as 9m have been reported on China’s south-east coast;

Taiwan hotel collapses after typhoon

Typhoon Morakot has struck China’s south-east coast, destroying hundreds of houses and flooding farmland.

Almost one million people were evacuated ahead of the storm, which crashed ashore in Fujian province with winds of up to 119km/h (74mph).

Flights were cancelled and fishing boats recalled to shore. A small boy died when a building collapsed.

Morakot has already hit Taiwan, killing at least three people and causing some of the worst flooding for 50 years.

In one incident, an entire hotel – empty at the time – was swept away by the waters.

Read moreChina’s east coast battered by typhoon

Paradise Lost: Fertile Crescent will disappear this century

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The Fertile Crescent is left dry as Turkish dams reduce the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to a trickle (AP)

Is it the final curtain for the Fertile Crescent? This summer, as Turkish dams reduce the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to a trickle, farmers abandon their desiccated fields across Iraq and Syria, and efforts to revive the Mesopotamian marshes appear to be abandoned, climate modellers are warning that the current drought is likely to become permanent. The Mesopotamian cradle of civilisation seems to be returning to desert.

Last week, Iraqi ministers called for urgent talks with upstream neighbours Turkey and Syria, after the combination of a second year of drought and dams in those countries cut flow on the Euphrates as it enters Iraq to below 250 cubic metres a second. That is less than a quarter the flow needed to maintain Iraqi agriculture.

Tensions have been growing since May, when the Iraqi parliament refused to approve a new much-needed trade deal with Turkey unless it contained binding clauses on river flows. But Turkey appears in no mood to compromise. In July, it announced the final go-ahead for yet another dam, the Ilisu on the Tigris.

Meanwhile, according to Hassan Partow at the UN Environment Programme, Iraq’s hydrological misery is compounded by Iran, which is also building new dams on tributaries of the Tigris. “Some of these rivers have run completely dry,” he told New Scientist. And Iraq itself is set to worsen the problem with its own dam building, he says. This year construction is set to begin on another Tigris tributary at Bekhme Gorge in Iraq’s northern province of Kurdistan. At 230 metres it will be one of the world’s tallest dams.

Paradise lost

In ancient times, the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers through Iraq were bountiful – irrigating fields that sustained civilisations like Sumer and cities like Babylon. But the combination of drought, dams and Iraq’s own desire to revive its agriculture is placing huge pressure on the last remnant of that bounty, the Mesopotamian marshes, which form where the Tigris and Euphrates meet and flow to the sea.

Read moreParadise Lost: Fertile Crescent will disappear this century

India: Water Wars Break Out

The monsoon is late, the wells are running dry and in the teeming city of Bhopal, water supply is now a deadly issue.

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A young man walks across Bhopal’s Upper Lake, which has shrunk to an eighth of its original area. Photograph: STR/AFP/Getty Images

It was a little after 8pm when the water started flowing through the pipe running beneath the dirt streets of Bhopal’s Sanjay Nagar slum. After days without a drop of water, the Malviya family were the first to reach the hole they had drilled in the pipe, filling what containers they had as quickly as they could. Within minutes, three of them were dead, hacked to death by angry neighbours who accused them of stealing water.

In Bhopal, and across much of northern India, a late monsoon and the driest June for 83 years are exacerbating the effects of a widespread drought and setting neighbour against neighbour in a desperate fight for survival.

India’s vast farming economy is on the verge of crisis. The lack of rain has hit northern areas most, but even in Mumbai, which has experienced heavy rainfall and flooding, authorities were forced to cut the water supply by 30% last week as levels in the lakes serving the city ran perilously low.

Across the country, from Gujarat to Hyderabad, in Andhra Pradesh, the state that claims to be “the rice bowl of India”, special prayers have been held for more rain after cumulative monsoon season figures fell 43% below average.

On Friday, India’s agriculture minister, Sharad Pawar, said the country was facing a drought-like situation that was a “matter for concern”, with serious problems developing in states such as Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

In Bhopal, which bills itself as the City of Lakes, patience is already at breaking point. The largest lake, the 1,000-year-old, man-made Upper Lake, had reduced in size from 38 sq km to 5 sq km by the start of last week.

The population of 1.8 million has been rationed to 30 minutes of water supply every other day since October. That became one day in three as the monsoon failed to materialise. In nearby Indore the ration is half an hour’s supply every seven days.

Read moreIndia: Water Wars Break Out

CNN: The Worst Environmental Disaster in US History

Remember that President Barack Obama promised to implement a new era of government openness and transparency?
Obama administration refuses to disclose “high hazard” coal dump locations
Change!


CNN Uncovers America’s Worst Environmental Disaster
With Erin Brockovich (07/10/09)

US: Freak Summer Storm Dumps Snow in Yonkers

… because of MAN-MADE GLOBAL WARMING!


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Snow piles seen in Yonkers.

It was Christmas in July for some Westchester County residents.

A wintry mix of hail and heavy thunderstorms downed trees and utility poles in Yonkers last night — causing mountains of slush and ice to build up in parking lots and on grassy areas.

Police said at least two homes were damaged by falling sleet, which hit the area at 11:30 p.m.

Snow plows were called in early this morning to help remove the snow, while extra fire trucks were on hand to help with the unseasonal cleanup.

A section of the Saw Mill Parkway’s exit ramp in Yonkers was especially icy, causing cars to get stuck in as much as two inches of sleet during the early morning rush-hour.

Several residents called 911 last night claiming they had spotted a tornado, although local authorities could not confirm that a twister had hit the area.

Related article: Tornado touches down in Yonkers causing extensive damage (New York Daily News)

No injuries were reported.

Read moreUS: Freak Summer Storm Dumps Snow in Yonkers

Solar Physicist Predicts Ice Age: “SOLAR CYCLE 24 HAS NOW GONE CLEARLY BELOW DALTON LEVEL.”

What happened to global warming?

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Timo Niroma, a physicist from Finland, publishes a Solar Report each month. He has given his permission to use it and distribute it to all so here it is. It will be a regular feature here and I hope you look forward to it as much as I do. The report is not written in the usual user-friendly way, but is rather intended for scientists that are familiar with the information contained in it. I will attempt to simplify and explain the details of the report and how it could impact you and, of course, Al Gore and company. As the predictions come true, as I assume they will, the green lobby will go on unemployment compensation. Let’s start at the beginning and take it piece by piece.

“JUNE BREAKING NEWS: THE CYCLE GOES AT THE MOMENT BELOW DALTON LEVEL” gives away the punch line but let’s see how he gets there.

In the following Timo discusses the sunspot activity of the new, as yet not begun, cycle #24:

Read moreSolar Physicist Predicts Ice Age: “SOLAR CYCLE 24 HAS NOW GONE CLEARLY BELOW DALTON LEVEL.”