Drowning in plastic: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is twice the size of France

There are now 46,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometre of the world’s oceans, killing a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals each year. Worse still, there seems to be nothing we can do to clean it up. So how do we turn the tide?

A shark carcase on Kamilo Beach, Hawaii; Drowning in plastic
A shark carcase on Kamilo Beach, Hawaii, where plastic particles outnumber sand grains until you dig down about a foot Photo: ALGALITA MARINE RESEARCH FOUNDATION  A jar of Pacific water held by the environmentalist Charles Moore hints at the amount of plastic swirling just below the ocean’s surface Photo: MATT CRAMER/AMRF

Way out in the Pacific Ocean, in an area once known as the doldrums, an enormous, accidental monument to modern society has formed. Invisible to satellites, poorly understood by scientists and perhaps twice the size of France, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is not a solid mass, as is sometimes imagined, but a kind of marine soup whose main ingredient is floating plastic debris.

It was discovered in 1997 by a Californian sailor, surfer, volunteer environmentalist and early-retired furniture restorer named Charles Moore, who was heading home with his crew from a sailing race in Hawaii, at the helm of a 50ft catamaran that he had built himself.

For the hell of it, he decided to turn on the engine and take a shortcut across the edge of the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, a region that seafarers have long avoided. It is a perennial high pressure zone, an immense slowly spiralling vortex of warm equatorial air that pulls in winds and turns them gently until they expire. Several major sea currents also converge in the gyre and bring with them most of the flotsam from the Pacific coasts of Southeast Asia, North America, Canada and Mexico. Fifty years ago nearly all that flotsam was biodegradable. These days it is 90 per cent plastic.

‘It took us a week to get across and there was always some plastic thing bobbing by,’ says Moore, who speaks in a jaded, sardonic drawl that occasionally flares up into heartfelt oratory. ‘Bottle caps, toothbrushes, styrofoam cups, detergent bottles, pieces of polystyrene packaging and plastic bags. Half of it was just little chips that we couldn’t identify. It wasn’t a revelation so much as a gradual sinking feeling that something was terribly wrong here. Two years later I went back with a fine-mesh net, and that was the real mind-boggling discovery.’

Read moreDrowning in plastic: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is twice the size of France

Germany bans Monsanto’s GM maize


Greenpeace has long campaigned against the planting of GM maize

Germany is to ban the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) maize – the only GM crop widely grown in Europe.

The decision, announced on Tuesday by German Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner, is a blow to the US biotech firm Monsanto, which markets the maize.

Monsanto’s variety, called MON 810, is resistant to the corn borer, a moth larva which eats the stem.

MON 810 is controversial in the EU. Several countries have banned it, defying the European Commission.

Ms Aigner, a member of the conservative Bavaria-based Christian Social Union (CSU), said she had concluded that “there is a justifiable reason to believe that… MON 810 presents a danger to the environment”.

The variety has been allowed in Germany since 2005. Ms Aigner said the decision to ban it now, based on new data, was purely scientific, not political. She also said it was a specific case, and not a fundamental decision against all GM crops.

In March EU governments resisted European Commission pressure to get bans on MON 810 lifted. The commission wanted Austria and Hungary to allow cultivation of MON 810. The variety is also banned in France and Greece.

Read moreGermany bans Monsanto’s GM maize

Germany’s Mystery Cow Disease Causing Calves to Bleed to Death


Farmer Robert Meyboom: “Within two or three days, they were all dead.”

A mysterious illness is causing calves to bleed to death on German farms. Veterinarians are stumped over what is causing the deaths: vaccines, genetically modified feed or perhaps even the first mother’s milk?

What can a cattle farmer do when he sees blood running from his calves like water, when they become lethargic and febrile and, by the next morning, are lying dead on the floor, their coats covered in blood?

“Our calves from last summer looked like they had been beaten,” says farmer Robert Meyboom, who is still shocked and perplexed today. “The animals’ bodies were covered with drops of blood, and their eyes were bloodshot.”

The veterinarian tried everything, he says, including administering vitamins and blood-clotting agents. But nothing worked, and “within two or three days, they were all dead.”

Read moreGermany’s Mystery Cow Disease Causing Calves to Bleed to Death

Volkswagen introduces world’s most economical car

While we don’t have a great deal of information available at this stage, we do know that …

Volkswagen is set to reveal the world’s most economical non-hybrid car to shareholders attending the 42nd annual general meeting of Volkswagen AG in Hamburg.

The single-seater is capable of 0.91 litres per 100km (or 258mpg in the old measure) and can manage a top speed of 123km/h.

The prototype, as shown here, was built in conditions of such great secrecy that little more is known about the car, but we’ll be sure to keep you posted after next week’s meeting.

6 Mar, 2009

Source: CarAdvice

Storm bands sock Kansas with blizzards, South with damaging wind, rain and tornado warnings


A spring storm that blanketed much of the state with heavy snow pushed out of the state on Saturday, leaving residents of the hard-hit Panhandle to dig out from under as much as two feet of snow. (AP Photo/Tulsa World, Stephen Holman)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Storms spread misery Saturday from the Great Plains to the Gulf Coast, dumping spring snow that cut power to thousands of Kansas utility customers and spawning tornado warnings and heavy rain across the South.

Two deaths were reported in Kansas as a spring blizzard buried parts of the state in ice, slush and up to two feet of snow. A 72-year-old man shoveling snow died of a heart attack Saturday while waiting for an ambulance slowed by impassable roads in Arlington, in central Kansas, authorities told The Hutchinson News. On Friday, a 58-year-old woman was killed in a car accident on icy roadways in Marion County.

The system also prompted a disaster declaration in Kansas and was blamed for two traffic deaths in Oklahoma.

The National Weather Service warned eastern Iowa about a narrow band of snow that will be particularly nasty, with forecast accumulation of 4 to 6 inches.

Read moreStorm bands sock Kansas with blizzards, South with damaging wind, rain and tornado warnings

Alaska volcano Mount Redoubt erupts 3 times

Alaska’s Mount Redoubt volcano has begun erupting over night, sending smoke billowing some 50,000 feet above sea level.


Alaska’s Mount Redoubt volcano has begun erupting over night, sending smoke billowing some 50,000 feet above sea level. Photo: EPA

Geologists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory said the volcano, which is roughly 100 miles from southwest of Anchorage, erupted three times late on Sunday and early on Monday.

“This is a fairly large eruption, close to the larger cities in Alaska,” said John Power, a geophysicist.

More information: Q & A: Will Mount Redoubt erupt again? (MSNBC)

He said no cities have yet reported any ash fall from the volcano, but he added that it is still early.

Geologists said seismic activity around the volcano has been intense in recent days, and they expect that the volcano would blow soon.

Read moreAlaska volcano Mount Redoubt erupts 3 times

Who owns Colorado’s rainwater?

Environmentalists and others like to gather it in containers for use in drier times. But state law says it belongs to those who bought the rights to waterways.

Reporting from Denver — Every time it rains here, Kris Holstrom knowingly breaks the law.

Holstrom’s violation is the fancifully painted 55-gallon buckets underneath the gutters of her farmhouse on a mesa 15 miles from the resort town of Telluride. The barrels catch rain and snowmelt, which Holstrom uses to irrigate the small vegetable garden she and her husband maintain.

But according to the state of Colorado, the rain that falls on Holstrom’s property is not hers to keep. It should be allowed to fall to the ground and flow unimpeded into surrounding creeks and streams, the law states, to become the property of farmers, ranchers, developers and water agencies that have bought the rights to those waterways.

What Holstrom does is called rainwater harvesting. It’s a practice that dates back to the dawn of civilization, and is increasingly in vogue among environmentalists and others who pursue sustainable lifestyles. They collect varying amounts of water, depending on the rainfall and the vessels they collect it in. The only risk involved is losing it to evaporation. Or running afoul of Western states’ water laws.

Those laws, some of them more than a century old, have governed the development of the region since pioneer days.

“If you try to collect rainwater, well, that water really belongs to someone else,” said Doug Kemper, executive director of the Colorado Water Congress. “We get into a very detailed accounting on every little drop.”

Read moreWho owns Colorado’s rainwater?

Airborne fungus Ug99 threatens global wheat harvest

From the article:

“The US army produced wheat rust as part of its biological weapons programme in the 1960s”


New variety of an old crop disease called “stem rust” can infect crops in just a few hours and vast clouds of invisible spores can be carried by the wind for hundreds of miles


New variety of an old crop disease called “stem rust” can infect crops in just a few hours. Photograph: Steve Satushek/Getty images

The world’s leading crop scientists issued a stark warning that a deadly airborne fungus could devastate wheat harvests in poor countries and lead to famines and civil unrest over significant regions of central Asia and Africa.

Ug99 — so called because it was first seen in Uganda in 1999 — is a new variety of an old crop disease called “stem rust”, which has already spread on the wind from Africa to Iran. It is particularly alarming because it can infect crops in just a few hours and vast clouds of invisible spores can be carried by the wind for hundreds of miles.

Scientists meeting in Mexico this week at a summit on Ug99 worry it will continue travelling east and infect major wheat growing centres in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, which produce nearly 15% of the world’s wheat and feed more than a billion of the world’s poorest people. Plant breeders are now racing against time to develop new resistant wheat strains and distribute the seeds around the world.

The fungus was thought to have largely disappeared since the 1960s when original disease-resistant varieties were developed and planted. But Ug99 has evolved to take advantage of those varieties, and it is now believed that 80-90% of all wheat varieties grown in developing countries are susceptible to the new fungus.

Read moreAirborne fungus Ug99 threatens global wheat harvest

The Obama Deception

See also: Ron Paul: Obama Foreign Policy Identical To Bush


1:51:21 – 12.03.2009
Source: Google Video

Nobody listens to the real climate change experts

The minds of world leaders are firmly shut to anything but the fantasies of the scaremongers.


Cold comfort: If the present trend continues, the world will be 1.1C cooler in 2100 Photo: Getty

Considering how the fear of global warming is inspiring the world’s politicians to put forward the most costly and economically damaging package of measures ever imposed on mankind, it is obviously important that we can trust the basis on which all this is being proposed. Last week two international conferences addressed this issue and the contrast between them could not have been starker.

Read moreNobody listens to the real climate change experts