World warned of ‘food crunch’ threat

The world faces “the real risk of a food crunch” if governments do not take immediate action to address the agricultural impact of climate change and water scarcity, according to an authoritative report out on Monday.

Chatham House, the London-based think-tank, suggests that the recent fall in food prices is only a temporary reprieve and that prices are set to resume their upward trend once the world emerges from the current downturn.

“There is therefore a real risk of a ‘food crunch’ at some point in the future, which would fall particularly hard on import-dependent countries and on poor people everywhere,” the report states. “Food prices are poised to rise again,” it adds.

The warning is made as agriculture ministers and United Nations officials gather from Monday in Madrid for a UN meeting on food security likely to conclude that last year’s food crisis, with almost 1bn people hungry, is far from over.

The UN will warn ministers in Madrid that “as the global financial crisis deepens, hunger is likely to increase” under the impact of rising unemployment and lower remittances, according to three officials briefed ahead of the meeting.

Read moreWorld warned of ‘food crunch’ threat

Cowskulls and dust: Worst Drought in 100 Years grips Argentina


Farmer Edgardo Vazquez walks by dead cows in Stroeder, Argentina, Monday, Jan. 19, 2009. Farmers nationwide are demanding the government’s help after a year long drought that has killed nearly one million animals and destroyed crops. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

STROEDER, Argentina (AP) – Skeletons of livestock are piling up in the scorching sun of the Southern Hemisphere’s summer as the worst drought in a generation turns much of Argentina’s breadbasket into a dust bowl.

The nation’s farm sector stands to lose $5 billion this year alone – a huge blow to the economy of Argentina, a top world exporter of soy, corn, wheat and beef – as well as to the government of President Cristina Fernandez, which faces billions of dollars in debt payments this year.

Wheat fields that once supplied flour for pasta-loving Argentines now resemble deserts, and spiny thistles are all that survive on cattle ranches in southern Buenos Aires province.

Nothing edible grows, said Hilda Schneider, a 65-year-old rancher who has lost nearly 500 cows to starvation.

Read moreCowskulls and dust: Worst Drought in 100 Years grips Argentina

Ecologists warn the planet is running short of water

A swelling global population, changing diets and mankind’s expanding “water footprint” could be bringing an end to the era of cheap water.

The warnings, in an annual report by the Pacific Institute in California, come as ecologists have begun adopting the term “peak ecological water” – the point where, like the concept of “peak oil”, the world has to confront a natural limit on something once considered virtually infinite.

The world is in danger of running out of “sustainably managed water”, according to Peter Gleick, the president of the Pacific Institute and a leading authority on global freshwater resources.

Read moreEcologists warn the planet is running short of water

US freezes as Arctic air blasts in from Canada

America is not unfamiliar with low temperatures, but the present cold snap is exceptional by any standards


Lake Michigan has been turned into a frozen wasteland by plunging temperatures (AP)

Alabama was colder than Alaska, water fountains froze into ice sculptures in South Carolina, and Florida shivered through an Arctic air blast as the coldest week of the winter continued to grip large parts of the US.

The Northeast in particular suffered from the bitterly cold air from Canada that sent temperatures plunging in some places below minus 34C (minus 30F) and left even hardy veterans of such weather reluctant to venture outdoors.

Related article: Weather Eye: temperatures in Western Europe go crazy (Times)

It brought to an end a week which will be remembered for some time in Chicago. The city has now suffered the most consecutive days of snow since records began in 1884 and, on Friday, the wind chill took the temperature to minus 40C.

The cold claimed at least six lives and contributed to dozens of traffic accidents.

One death involved a man in a wheelchair who was found in sub-zero temperatures stuck in the snow, a shovel in his hand, outside his home in Des Moines, Iowa.

Temperatures of minus 12C to minus 18C and sub-zero wind chills were expected in western New York through the weekend, with more seasonable conditions moving in early next week.

Read moreUS freezes as Arctic air blasts in from Canada

Texas drought worsens, cattle dying

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) – Drought conditions in Texas are so bad cattle are keeling over in parched pastures and dying.

Drought conditions worsened significantly in the past week, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday. Seventy-one percent of the state is now in some stage of drought, up from 58.3 percent last week.

A week ago the two worst drought designations – extreme and exceptional – covered 9.1 percent of the state. This week the two categories cover 15.1 percent of the state, with a circle near San Antonio and Austin widening in all directions. Only the eastern and southeastern parts of Texas are without any drought status.

It all results in death for dozens of cows in Bastrop, south of Austin. At Dr. Lee Davis’ veterinarian clinic, up to 10 cows a week have been brought in for treatment over the past month. They fell in pastures from weakness due to lack of grazing forage, and most didn’t survive, Davis said.

“The problem is they’re not getting enough energy because the grass is dead,” Davis said. “Everywhere you go there’s no grass. It’s nothing but dirt.”

Read moreTexas drought worsens, cattle dying

North Dakota gets blizzard on top of December’s record snow


This photo provided by bus passenger Maria Nasta shows a scene from a 59 vehicle pileup including three buses and two tractor-trailer rigs that crashed on a snowy highway on Sunday morning Jan. 11, 2009 on Interstate 93 at Derry, N.H. (AP Photo/Courtesy Maria Nasta)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – A fast-moving blizzard clogged roads and closed schools in North Dakota on Monday, causing more headaches for residents still trying to dig out from a record snowfall last month.

And, forecasters said a blast of cold air was on the way that could send the thermometer as low as 30 below zero.

Related article:
Storm brings more snow and strong winds to Iowa (Chicago Tribune)
Dirty snow causes early runoff in Cascades (Seattle Post Intelligencer)
First the Snow, Then Comes the Bitter Cold (MSNBC)

“Four-wheel drives are useless – people are just snowed in,” Rhonda Woodhams, the office manager for the Williams County highway department. “People are calling in saying they’re out of milk and diapers for their kids, or they have doctor appointments they need to get to.”

Read moreNorth Dakota gets blizzard on top of December’s record snow

The Pacific Ocean Is Now “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch”

Most people do not realize that our reckless polluting has turned the Pacific Ocean into “the Great Pacific Garbage Patch” which is a “plastic soup” of trash, plastic, garbage and human waste an area about twice the size of the continental United States that stretches from Hawaii to Japan.

We are literally destroying the Pacific Ocean and the situation is getting rapidly worse every single hour of every single day.

Someday historians will look back on our time and will refer to us as “those crazy Plastic People”.

Related article: Garbage soup: secrets spewed up by the trash vortex

We take things like plastic and nylon and polyester for granted today.

But look at what we have done.

This “garbage vortex” occupies a large and relatively stationary region in the north Pacific Ocean and it is filled with millions of pounds of our trash, most of it plastic.

It is the largest landfill in the world, and it floats in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

It is estimated that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch contains over 100 million tons of debris.

One of the most frightening things about all of this is that plastic does not biodegrade. That means that it just sits there and all of the new garbage that comes along daily just adds to the problem.

Read moreThe Pacific Ocean Is Now “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch”

China: Birth defects rose by 40 per cent between 2001 and 2006, linked to pollution

China’s horrific pollution has been firmly linked to a staggering increase in birth defects according to a major scientific survey.

The number of Chinese children with birth defects rose by 40 per cent between 2001 and 2006, according to the National Population and Family Planning Commission.

Around four to six per cent of all children born in China each year have physical defects, including congenital heart disease, cleft palates and water on the brain. Of those, around 30 per cent die and 40 per cent are disabled.

The World Health Organisation estimates about three to five per cent of children worldwide are born with birth defects.

In the first large-scale Chinese survey on the topic, Professor Hu Yali of Nanjing University linked one-tenth of all birth defects in Jiangsu to pollution.

Related article: Stem Cells Undo Birth Defects (MIT Technology Review)

Jiangsu is one of China’s richest provinces and the heart of the country’s manufacturing hub. Professor Hu tracked more than 26,000 pregnant women between 2001 and 2005.

“Birth defects are now the single biggest killer of infants on the mainland,” she told the Nanjing Morning Post. More than a million babies are born in China with “visible defects” every year.

Researchers believe that the figures from Jiangsu may be far lower than the national average. Shanxi, a coal-rich province in the north of China, has the highest rate of defects at 18 per cent and is notorious for the noxious emissions of its huge coke and chemical industries.

“Statistics show that birth defects in Shanxi’s eight large coal-mining regions are far above the national average,” said An Huanxiao, the director of Shanxi’s provincial family planning agency.

By Malcolm Moore in Shanghai
Last Updated: 4:07PM GMT 09 Jan 2009

Source: The Telegraph

Powerful Solar Storm Could Shut Down U.S. for Months

“The race is on for better forecasting abilities, as the next peak in solar activity is expected to come around 2012.” …and this event will be much, much more serious than you will ever be told.

The elite knows what is coming and prepares for it:
‘Doomsday’ seed vault opens in Arctic
Investors Behind Doomsday Seed Vault May Provide Clues to Its Purpose (Part 2)
African seed collection first to arrive in Norway on route to Arctic seed vault

The elite has built for themselves huge underground shelters, even cities. (Do some research.)
Now you know where all that money went that the government cannot account for.
Has the government also been preparing for the people? No, they are disposable.



Solar storms can cause colorful auroras, often seen in higher latitudes on Earth. NASA

A new study from the National Academy of Sciences outlines grim possibilities on Earth for a worst-case scenario solar storm.

Damage to power grids and other communications systems could be catastrophic, the scientists conclude, with effects leading to a potential loss of governmental control of the situation.

The prediction is based in part on a major solar storm in 1859 that caused telegraph wires to short out in the United States and Europe, igniting widespread fires.

It was perhaps the worst in the past 200 years, according to the new study, and with the advent of modern power grids and satellites, much more is at risk.

“A contemporary repetition of the [1859] event would cause significantly more extensive (and possibly catastrophic) social and economic disruptions,” the researchers conclude.

‘Command and control might be lost’

Read morePowerful Solar Storm Could Shut Down U.S. for Months

Heavy Snowstorm brings chaos to Madrid

MADRID, Spain (CNN) — A heavy snowstorm caused chaos Friday at Madrid’s Barajas Airport, where flights were suspended for hours before Europe’s fourth-busiest airport reopened in the late afternoon.

A woman enjoys the snow in Madrid, where the airport suspended flights because of the weather.
A woman enjoys the snow in Madrid, where the airport suspended flights because of the weather.

Planes were flying again at 4:40 p.m. (10:40 am ET).

“It’s a huge snowstorm. You don’t see this in Madrid often,” an airport spokeswoman said.

Related articles:
Cold snap in Europe takes its toll (AFP)
12 deaths blamed on snow and cold across Europe (AP)
Central Europe, France, UK, Italy Hit by Cold Air
(Bloomberg)
Thousands shiver in Europe’s big chill
(Reuters)

The airport has 1,205 daily inbound and outbound flights. But for the first time, the airport halted operations due to a weather problem, the spokeswoman said.

Read moreHeavy Snowstorm brings chaos to Madrid