Eruption of 3 volcanoes has scientists asking questions

PUZZLE: Is there a common thread or were events just coincidence?

How likely is it that three neighboring volcanoes would all erupt at the same time — as the Kasatochi, Okmok and Cleveland volcanoes in the Aleutians did this summer?

About as likely as a storm that only appears once in a thousand years, says Anchorage volcanologist Peter Cervelli, who’ll deliver a paper on the subject this winter to the American Geophysical Union.

In other words, seldom enough that Cervelli is now exploring the question of whether Alaska’s triple eruption was only a coincidence involving three independent volcanoes or whether it was triggered by some common mechanism.

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Longest, hottest drought on record, says Bureau of Meteorology

THE long drought affecting southern Australia is officially the worst on record.

Bureau of Meteorology head of climate analysis David Jones said the 12-year drought that was devastating southwest Western Australia, southeast South Australia, Victoria and northern Tasmania was “very severe and without historical precedent”.

Drought has gripped the Murray-Darling Basin since late 2001. It has worsened this year, as rainfall totals for the past three years have set record lows in many regions, including many critical to the Murray River.

Dr Jones said the rainfall figures were similar to the severe drought that lasted from 1939 to 1945, and the Federation drought, which ran from 1895 to 1903.

“Those three droughts, in terms of rainfall, are comparable,” he said. “But this drought is a lot hotter than those two previous droughts. And those two droughts finished, whereas this one is continuing.”

Read moreLongest, hottest drought on record, says Bureau of Meteorology

The Next Collapsing Industry: Fishing

Unsustainable practices cost the global fishing industry $50 billion every year, and have wasted some $2 trillion in the last three decades, says a joint report from the World Bank and United Nations.

The numbers might not seem like much when compared to the ongoing economic crisis or the cost of deforestation — $1.5 trillion lost from Wall Street in weeks, between $2 trillion and $5 trillion of forests cut down annually.

But the losses, calculated in terms of declining productivity, are a troubling warning sign. Despite better equipment, larger fleets and ever-growing markets, the industry is catching the same amount of fish now as it did 30 years ago.

The reason: oceanic fish populations have been decimated. Some researchers say that the world will run out of wild seafood within 40 years. There will still be farm-raised fish – which now account for 50 percent of all fish production – but the $80 billion global fishing industry, which employs some 200 million people, will be as depleted as North Atlantic cod.

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With Spotlight on Pirates, Somalis on Land Waste Away in the Shadows


Above, a severely malnourished baby lay unresponsive on Thursday as the mother and father sat nearby in a feeding center in Afgooye, Somalia.

AFGOOYE, Somalia – Just step into a feeding center here, and the sense of hopelessness is overwhelming.

Dozens of women sit with listless babies in their laps, snapping their fingers, trying to get a flicker of life out of their dying children.

Little eyes close. Wizened 1-year-olds struggle to breathe. This is the place where help is supposed to be on its way. But the nurses in the filthy smocks are besieged. From the doorway, you can see the future of Somalia fading away.

While the audacity of a band of Somali pirates who hijacked a ship full of weapons has grabbed the world’s attention, it is the slow-burn suffering of millions of Somalis that seems to go almost unnoticed.

The suffering is not new. Or especially surprising. This country on the edge of Africa has been slowly, but inexorably, sliding toward an abyss for the past year and a half – or, some would argue, for the past 17. United Nations officials have called Somalia “the forgotten crisis.”

Read moreWith Spotlight on Pirates, Somalis on Land Waste Away in the Shadows

Mexican Marijuana Cartels Sully US Forests, Parks

Mexican marijuana cartels use pesticides, herbicides that pollute US parks, forest lands


A member of Kentucky’s state marijuana strike force cuts down marijuana in rural Breathitt County, Ky. (AP Photo)

National forests and parks – long popular with Mexican marijuana-growing cartels – have become home to some of the most polluted pockets of wilderness in America because of the toxic chemicals needed to eke lucrative harvests from rocky mountainsides, federal officials said.

The grow sites have taken hold from the West Coast’s Cascade Mountains, as well as on federal lands in Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Seven hundred grow sites were discovered on U.S. Forest Service land in California alone in 2007 and 2008 – and authorities say the 1,800-square-mile Sequoia National Forest is the hardest hit.

Weed and bug sprays, some long banned in the U.S., have been smuggled to the marijuana farms. Plant growth hormones have been dumped into streams, and the water has then been diverted for miles in PVC pipes.

Rat poison has been sprinkled over the landscape to keep animals away from tender plants. And many sites are strewn with the carcasses of deer and bears poached by workers during the five-month growing season that is now ending.

“What’s going on on public lands is a crisis at every level,” said Forest Service agent Ron Pugh. “These are America’s most precious resources, and they are being devastated by an unprecedented commercial enterprise conducted by armed foreign nationals. It is a huge mess.”

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Brazilian Government Largest Illegal Logger in the Amazon

BRASILIA, Brazil, September 30, 2008 (ENS) – A Brazilian government agency that provides land to settlers is the largest illegal logger in the Amazon rainforest and could face criminal prosecution, Environment Minister Carlos Minc said Monday. Minc blamed Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform, or Incra, for occupying the top six places on a new government list of the 100 largest illegal loggers.

Today, he backed off a little, giving another government agency 20 days to analyze information presented by Incra contesting the legality of the deforestation.

Illegally cut logs await transport from a clearing in the Brazilian rainforest. (Photo by Andy Revkin)

“As some questions had been raised about what is legitimate, Ibama will go to evaluate point the point,” Minc said, handing responsibility for the inquiry to the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, or Ibama.

Minc clarified that Incra is the formal owner of the six parcels of land at issue, which in fact were deforested by the settlers. But legally, he said, the problem falls again on Incra because the Institute cannot pass ownership of land to the agriculturists until it has been settled for 10 years.

“They are small deforestations, of 20 or 30 hectares, per person. On the other hand, a small one deforests little but thousands deforest a great deal,” said Minc. “Therefore, we have that to improve, and as well we have to improve the incidents of deforestation on conservation units and on aboriginal lands.”

In total, 223,000 hectares of the rainforest were logged on those six properties

The Amazon rainforest is being chopped down more than three times as fast as last year, Brazilian officials said Monday, after three years of declines in the deforestation rate.

Read moreBrazilian Government Largest Illegal Logger in the Amazon

Gas Shortage In the South Creates Panic, Long Lines

If Drivers Can Fill Up, They Get Sticker Shock


People wait to fill their tanks at a Citgo station in Charlotte, where drivers have reported gas lines 60 cars long after 11 p.m. (By Davie Hinshaw — The Charlotte Observer)

Gasoline shortages hit towns across the southeastern United States this week, sparking panic buying, long lines and high prices at stations from the small towns of northeast Alabama to Charlotte in the wake of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

In Atlanta, half of the gasoline stations were closed, according to AAA, which said the supply disruptions had taken place along two major petroleum product pipelines that have operated well below capacity since the hurricanes knocked offshore oil production and several refineries out of service along the Gulf of Mexico.

Drivers in Charlotte reported lines with as many as 60 cars waiting to fill up late Wednesday night, and a community college in Asheville, N.C., where most of the 25,000 students commute, canceled classes and closed down Wednesday afternoon for the rest of the week. Shortages also hit Nashville, Knoxville and Spartanburg, S.C., AAA said.

Read moreGas Shortage In the South Creates Panic, Long Lines

Catastrophic fall in numbers reveals bird populations in crisis throughout the world


Northern Wheatear

The birds of the world are in serious trouble, and common species are in now decline all over the globe, a comprehensive new review suggests today.

From the turtle doves of Europe to the vultures of India, from the bobwhite quails of the US to the yellow cardinals of Argentina, from the eagles of Africa to the albatrosses of the Southern Ocean, the numbers of once-familiar birds are tumbling everywhere, according to the study from the conservation partnership BirdLife International.

Their falling populations are compelling evidence of a rapid deterioration in the global environment that is affecting all life on earth – including human life, BirdLife says in its report, State of The World’s Birds.

Read moreCatastrophic fall in numbers reveals bird populations in crisis throughout the world

Who Killed The Electric Car? (Documentary)

Google removed the video.

I’ve found a replacement.

A MUST-SEE!!!


Documentary about GM killing of the electric car. It has been here since ’96 but they killed it off.

The film features interviews with celebrities who drove the electric car, such as Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Alexandra Paul, Peter Horton, Ed Begley, Jr., a bi-partisan selection of prominent political figures including Ralph Nader, Frank Gaffney, Alan Lloyd, Jim Boyd, Alan Lowenthal, S. David Freeman, and ex-CIA head James Woolsey, as well as news footage from the development, launch and marketing of EV’s.

Nominated: Best Documentary – Environmental Media Awards (2006)
Won: Special Jury Prize – Mountain Film (Telluride) (2006)
Nominated: Best Documentary – Writers Guild of America
Won: Audience Award – Canberra International Film Festival
Nominated: 2007 Best Documentary Feature – Broadcast Film Critics Association

The “gasoline” for operating this car only costs 16 cents per gallon!

Who Killed the Electric Car? from Julien Chaulieu on Vimeo.

A murder mystery, a call to arms and an effective inducement to rage, Who Killed the Electric Car? is the latest and one of the more successful additions to the growing ranks of issue-oriented documentaries.
– The New York Times

A potent hybrid of passion and politics fuel this energetic and highly compelling documentary.
– Michael Rachtshaffen, Hollywood Reporter

If $3-a-gallon gasoline doesn’t make you hate the big oil companies, the shocking revelations in Chris Paine’s thought-provoking documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? will.
– V. A. Musetto, New York Post