Global Warming Expert Prof. Latif: Earth has not warmed for nearly a decade and that we are likely entering “one or even two decades during which temperatures cool.”

Scientists pull an about face on global warming

Imagine if Pope Benedict gave a speech saying the Catholic Church has had it wrong all these centuries; there is no reason priests shouldn’t marry. That might generate the odd headline, no?

Or if Don Cherry claimed suddenly to like European hockey players who wear visors and float around the ice, never bodychecking opponents.

Or Jack Layton insisted that unions are ruining the economy by distorting wages and protecting unproductive workers.

Or Stephen Harper began arguing that it makes good economic sense for Ottawa to own a car company. (Oh, wait, that one happened.) But at least, the Tories-buy-GM aberration made all the papers and newscasts.

When a leading proponent for one point of view suddenly starts batting for the other side, it’s usually newsworthy.

So why was a speech last week by Prof. Mojib Latif of Germany’s Leibniz Institute not given more prominence?

Latif is one of the leading climate modellers in the world. He is the recipient of several international climate-study prizes and a lead author for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He has contributed significantly to the IPCC’s last two five-year reports that have stated unequivocally that man-made greenhouse emissions are causing the planet to warm dangerously.

Yet last week in Geneva, at the UN’s World Climate Conference–an annual gathering of the so-called “scientific consensus” on man-made climate change –Latif conceded the Earth has not warmed for nearly a decade and that we are likely entering “one or even two decades during which temperatures cool.”

The global warming theory has been based all along on the idea that the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans would absorb much of the greenhouse warming caused by a rise in man-made carbon dioxide, then they would let off that heat and warm the atmosphere and the land.

But as Latif pointed out, the Atlantic, and particularly the North Atlantic, has been cooling instead. And it looks set to continue a cooling phase for 10 to 20 more years.

“How much?” he wondered before the assembled delegates. “The jury is still out.”

Read moreGlobal Warming Expert Prof. Latif: Earth has not warmed for nearly a decade and that we are likely entering “one or even two decades during which temperatures cool.”

China’s ‘cancer villages’ bear witness to economic boom

china-contaminated-lake
A lake near Da Bao Shan in the northern part of China’s Guangdong province turns reddish brown after the water was contaminated for years August 27, 2009. It is highly unusual for people to contract cancer at tender ages, but not in the villages around Da Bao Shan, one of China’s largest mine that produces lead, zine, cadmium and other heavy metals. (REUTERS)

HONG KONG (Reuters) – One needs to look no further then the river that runs through Shangba to understand the extent of the heavy metals pollution that experts say has turned the hamlets in this region of southern China into cancer villages.

The river’s flow ranges from murky white to a bright shade of orange and the waters are so viscous that they barely ripple in the breeze. In Shangba, the river brings death, not sustenance.

“All the fish died, even chickens and ducks that drank from the river died. If you put your leg in the water, you’ll get rashes and a terrible itch,” said He Shuncai, a 34-year-old rice farmer who has lived in Shangba all his life.

“Last year alone, six people in our village died from cancer and they were in their 30s and 40s.”

Read moreChina’s ‘cancer villages’ bear witness to economic boom

Italy: Mafia sank 30 ships full of nuclear, toxic wastes


Underwater footage of the sunken ship that could contain nuclear waste

A shipwreck apparently containing toxic waste is being investigated by authorities in Italy amid claims that it was deliberately sunk by the mafia.

An informant from the Calabrian mafia said the ship was one of a number he blew up as part of an illegal operation to bypass laws on toxic waste disposal.

The sunken vessel has been found 30km (18 miles) off the south-west of Italy.

The informant said it contained “nuclear” material.
Officials said it would be tested for radioactivity.

Murky pictures taken by a robot camera show the vessel intact and alongside it are a number of yellow barrels.

Labels on them say the contents are toxic.

The informant said the mafia had muscled in on the lucrative business of radioactive waste disposal.

But he said that instead of getting rid of the material safely, he blew up the vessel out at sea, off the Calabrian coast.

He also says he was responsible for sinking two other ships containing toxic waste.

Experts are now examining samples taken from the wreck.

Other vessels

An official said that if the samples proved to be radioactive then a search for up to 30 other sunken vessels believed scuttled by the mafia would begin immediately.

Read moreItaly: Mafia sank 30 ships full of nuclear, toxic wastes

First Solar to build the world’s largest solar plant in China

China Plans World’s Largest Solar Plant (Bloomberg)


Added: September 09, 2009


First Solar to build the world's largest solar plant in China
In this Sept. 7, 2009 photo released by First Solar, First Solar CEO Mike Ahearn, left, greets Chairman Wu Bangguo of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, in Phoenix.


NEW YORK (Reuters) – First Solar Inc said on Tuesday it plans to build the world’s largest solar plant in China in the first major foray by a U.S. company into the Asian nation’s fast growing alternative energy sector.

Under a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese government, First Solar will build a 2-gigawatt power plant, enough to power about 3 million Chinese households, at Ordos City, in Inner Mongolia, and consider building a new manufacturing plant in China.

The announcement comes as the solar industry struggles to emerge from a year-long slump that saw financing for new projects dry up and reduced subsidies in Spain create a glut of unsold cells and panels.

The project is part of China’s program to generate 10 percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2010 and 15 percent by 2020 to help meet its growing energy appetite that has made the country the world’s top emitter of carbon dioxide.

Read moreFirst Solar to build the world’s largest solar plant in China

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

greece-fires
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!


taro
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

sugar-cane-field
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

fertile-crescent
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