China: Severe Drought; Cloud-Seeding Across 77 Counties; Emergency Supplies of Drinking Water to 18 Million People; Rice Prices Spike 10% in One Month

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The Food Crisis of 2010: USDA vs Reality

The artificial rain through cloud-seeding is like poison.


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Severe drought in Southwestern China is driving up food prices and heightening concerns about the availability of drinking water.

Price of rice rises in south China (China Daily):

Huang Weijuan, a Guangzhou housewife, said she spent 55 yuan ($8) to buy a bag of rice in Taojin agricultural bazaar in the city’s Yuexiu district over the weekend.

“But the price for the same bag of rice, which weighs 20 kg, was about 50 yuan a month ago,” Huang said.

And the price of courgette, a vegetable which mainly grows in Yunnan province, is now selling at 5 yuan per kg in the bazaar, up 0.5 yuan from last month, Huang said.

“The price of many foods and vegetables have gone up in the past month and I worry that prices will keep increasing,” she said.

The government is rushing to help in order to alleviate the potential for social tension. In some of the hardest hit provinces, the government has been forced to provide emergency supplies of drinking water to 18 million people. They’ve also resorted to creating artificial rain through cloud-seeding. Over 3,200 artillery pieces bombarded the sky with chemicals across 77 counties, forcing moderate rain to fall.

“It was the first rain I have seen since last October, but it only lasted for about three hours from 3 am to 6 am this morning,” Bu Lupiao, a farmer of Bapiao village in Jinghong county, Xishuangbanna Dai autonomous prefecture.

Since October… That’s one heck of a drought. Yet the farmer above was lucky. In Chuxiong Yi prefecture, over 100 cloud seeding guns failed to create rain. Cloud seeding isn’t a long-term solution, thus the natural rain better come soon else there could be more pressure on living standards in drought-hit regions.

Read moreChina: Severe Drought; Cloud-Seeding Across 77 Counties; Emergency Supplies of Drinking Water to 18 Million People; Rice Prices Spike 10% in One Month

Europe’s largest undersea volcano threatens southern Italy: report

ROME (AFP) – Europe’s largest undersea volcano could disintegrate and unleash a tsunami that would engulf southern Italy “at any time”, a prominent vulcanologist warned in an interview published Monday.

The Marsili volcano, which is bursting with magma, has “fragile walls” that could collapse, Enzo Boschi told the leading daily Corriere della Sera.

“It could even happen tomorrow,” said Boschi, president of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV).

“Our latest research shows that the volcano is not structurally solid, its walls are fragile, the magma chamber is of sizeable dimensions,” he said. “All that tells us that the volcano is active and could begin erupting at any time.”

The event would result in “a strong tsunami that could strike the coasts of Campania, Calabria and Sicily,” Boschi said.

The undersea Marsili, 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) tall and located some 150 kilometres (90 miles) southwest of Naples, has not erupted since the start of recorded history.

It is 70 kilometres long and 30 kilometres wide, and its crater is some 450 metres below the surface of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Read moreEurope’s largest undersea volcano threatens southern Italy: report

Mongolian herders lost millions of animals because of extreme cold

Appeal for Mongolian herders after cold kills livestock

mongolia_snowstorm Mongolia has been hit by unusually severe winter weather

The International Red Cross has appealed for help for thousands of Mongolian herders who have lost their livestock because of extreme cold.

The Red Cross said that millions of animals had perished during the country’s hardest winter in years.

It says it needs over $900,000 (£603,000) to provide emergency assistance to the worst-hit families and restock herds.

A BBC correspondent says those animals who survived are running out of food.

In recent months temperatures in Mongolia have dropped below -40C.

Local residents call it a “dzud” – a severe winter following a very dry summer, which has left reserves of fodder low.

Read moreMongolian herders lost millions of animals because of extreme cold

US Scientists: The Gulf Stream ‘Is NOT Slowing Down’

gulf-stream-is-not-slowing-down Data came from the global network of Argo floats in the oceans

The Gulf Stream does not appear to be slowing down, say US scientists who have used satellites to monitor tell-tale changes in the height of the sea.

Confirming work by other scientists using different methodologies, they found dramatic short-term variability but no longer-term trend.

A slow-down – dramatised in the movie The Day After Tomorrow – is projected by some models of climate change.

The research is published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

The stream is a key process in the climate of western Europe, bringing heat northwards from the tropics and keeping countries such as the UK 4-6C warmer than they would otherwise be.

It forms part of a larger movement of water, the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, which is itself one component of the global thermohaline system of currents.

Between 2002 and 2009, the team says, there was no trend discernible – just a lot of variability on short timescales.

The Atlantic overturning circulation is still an important player in today’s climate
Josh Willis, Nasa

The satellite record going back to 1993 did suggest a small increase in flow, although the researchers cannot be sure it is significant.

“The changes we’re seeing in overturning strength are probably part of a natural cycle,” said Josh Willis from Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California.

Read moreUS Scientists: The Gulf Stream ‘Is NOT Slowing Down’

Beijing to Sweeten Stench of Rubbish Crisis With 100 Giant Deodorant Guns

High-pressure fragrance sprays will be installed at Asuwei dump, one of several hundred overflowing landfill sites that are the focus of growing public concern

In pictures: zooming in on Beijing’s rubbish


Link to this video

Beijing is to install 100 deodorant guns at a stinking landfill site on the edge of the city in a bid to dampen complaints about the capital’s rubbish crisis.

The giant fragrance sprays will be put in place by May at the Asuwei dump site, one of several hundred tips that are the focus of growing public concerns about sanitation, environmental health and a runaway consumer culture.

Municipal authorities say they will also apply more plastic layers to cover the site in response to furious protests by local residents who have to put up with the stench when the wind blows in their direction.

The high-pressure guns, which can spray dozens of litres of fragrance per minute over a distance of up to 50m, are produced by several Chinese firms and based on German and Italian technology. They are already in use at several landfill sites, but they are merely a temporary fix.

Beijing’s waste problem – and China’s – is expanding as fast as its economy, at about 8% each year. With millions more people now able to afford Starbucks, McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken and other elements of a western, throwaway lifestyle, the landfill sites and illegal tips that ring the capital are close to overflowing.

Read moreBeijing to Sweeten Stench of Rubbish Crisis With 100 Giant Deodorant Guns

Heavy Honeybee Die-Off Continues; New Study Shows Pollen And Hives Laden With Pesticides

What kills the bees will kill you too. Pesticides and all the other toxic chemicals that poison the food supply have been proven to cause Alzheimer’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s and cancer in animals.

This is one of many reasons why I eat organic food.

Flashback: Organic Bees Surviving Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)


New Study Shows Honeybees’ Pollen And Hives Laden With Pesticides.

Food and Farm Disappearing Bees
In this photo taken Monday, March 22, 2010, Workers, from left, Johan Du Preez, Susan Dupreez and Rouxle Crafford clear honey from dead bee hives at a bee farm east of Merced, Calif. The mysterious 4-year-old crisis of disappearing honeybees is deepening. A quick federal survey indicates a heavy bee die-off this winter, while a new study shows honeybees’ pollen and hives laden with pesticides. Two federal agencies along with regulators in California and Canada are scrambling to figure out what is behind this relatively recent threat, ordering new research on pesticides already in use.
(AP)

MERCED, Calif. – The mysterious 4-year-old crisis of disappearing honeybees is deepening. A quick federal survey indicates a heavy bee die-off this winter, while a new study shows honeybees’ pollen and hives laden with pesticides.

Two federal agencies along with regulators in California and Canada are scrambling to figure out what is behind this relatively recent threat, ordering new research on pesticides used in fields and orchards. Federal courts are even weighing in this month, ruling that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency overlooked a requirement when allowing a pesticide on the market.

And on Thursday, chemists at a scientific conference in San Francisco will tackle the issue of chemicals and dwindling bees in response to the new study.

Scientists are concerned because of the vital role bees play in our food supply. About one-third of the human diet is from plants that require pollination from honeybees, which means everything from apples to zucchini.

Read moreHeavy Honeybee Die-Off Continues; New Study Shows Pollen And Hives Laden With Pesticides

Climategate: The Parliamentary Cover-Up Exposed

See also:

Climategate: Two More Bricks Fall Out Of The IPCC Wall Of Deceit – Rainforests And Polar Bears


Climategate exposed the greatest scandal in the history of modern science but you’re never going to hear this from any of the official investigations. Andrew Orlowski at The Register has uncovered why.

Turns out, that there’s this well-funded SPECTRE-like advocacy group called GLOBE (Global Legislators for a Balanced Environment) International which has co-opted leading parliamentarians from the main parties in both the Commons and the Lords into advancing the AGW agenda.

One of those is Lord Oxburgh, recently appointed – on the Royal Society’s recommendation – to lead one of the two official enquiries into Climategate. Mysteriously, Lord Oxburgh has failed to mention GLOBE in his register of interests.

Orlowski reports:

GLOBE may be too obscure to merit its own Wikipedia entry, but that belies its wealth and influence. It funds meetings for parliamentarians worldwide with an interest in climate change, and prior to the Copenhagen Summit GLOBE issued guidelines (pdf) for legislators. Little expense is spared: in one year alone, one peer – Lord Michael Jay of Ewelme – enjoyed seven club class flights and hotel accommodation, at GLOBE’s expense. There’s no greater love a Parliamentarian can give to the global warming cause. And in return, Globe lists Oxburgh as one of 23 key legislators.

One insider has described Oxburgh’s appointment to lead this supposedly neutral investigation into Climategate as “like putting Dracula in charge of a blood bank.” Here are just a few more of this scrupulously unbiased fellow’s interests, revealed by Orlowski:

In the House of Lords Register of Lords’ Interests, Oxburgh lists under remunerated directorships his chairmanship of Falck Renewables, and chairmanship of Blue NG, a renewable power company. (Oxburgh holds no shares in Falck Renewables, and serves as a non-exec chairman.) He also declares that he is an advisor to Climate Change Capital, to the Low Carbon Initiative, Evo-Electric, Fujitsu, and an environmental advisor to Deutsche Bank. For a year he was non-exec chairman of Shell.

GLOBE seems especially drawn to the kind of MP who likes sailing close to the wind. Its president is none other than Stephen Byers, recently exposed in the “cash for influence” scandal as offering his services as a lobbyist like a “cab for hire” for a small consideration of just £5,000 a day. And its leading lights have also included Elliott Morley, one of the MPs more heavily implicated in the Telegraph’s parliamentary expenses scandal.

Read moreClimategate: The Parliamentary Cover-Up Exposed

Climategate: Two More Bricks Fall Out Of The IPCC Wall Of Deceit – Rainforests And Polar Bears

polar-bear
Since 1970 the world’s polar bear population has “declined” from 5,000 to 25,000

Oops! There go another two bricks, tumbling out of the IPCC wall of deceit on man-made global warming – there is not a lot left now; even the Berlin Wall (to which the AGW construct is ideologically allied) has survived better. Unhappily for Al, Phil, Michael, George and the rest of the scare-mongers, these two discredited components are among the most totemic in the AGW religion.

Firstly, a new study, funded by Nasa (which may be feeling the need to rehabilitate itself post-Climategate) has revealed that the ridiculous claim in the notorious IPCC 2007 report that up to 40 per cent of the Amazon rainforest could be drastically affected by even a small reduction in rainfall caused by climate change, so that the trees would be replaced by tropical grassland, is utter nonsense. That assertion has already been exposed as derived from a single report by the environmentalist lobby group WWF.

Now Dr Jose Marengo, a climate scientist with the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research and himself a member of the IPCC, says: “The way the WWF report calculated this 40 per cent was totally wrong, while (the new) calculations are by far more reliable and correct.” These calculations were done by researchers at Boston University and were published in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters. They used satellite data to study the drought of 2005, when rainfall fell to the lowest in living memory, and found that the rainforest suffered no significant effects.

So, the rainforest scare, like the Himalayan glaciers panic, is garbage. A further encouraging feature of this development is that genuine scientists are increasingly becoming emboldened to challenge the IPCC’s junk science: the Academy is beginning to reassert its integrity. AGW without withered rainforests is Hamlet without the prince. It was one of those emotive claims much invoked by priggish children in the voice-overs of nanny-state “green” commercials, lecturing their elders on the stewardship of the planet.

An even bigger tear-jerker was the plight of polar bears, bolstered by carefully cropped photographs of lonely bears stranded on fast-melting icebergs, doomed to extinction. That is the second brick that has fallen out of the IPCC wall. The official legend is that polar bears are threatened with extinction by global warming. The IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group, which has bought into global warming in a big way, has claimed that, of the 19 sub-populations of polar bears (13 of them in Canada, home to 60 per cent of polar bears), eight are declining, three are stable, one is increasing and there is insufficient data on the remaining seven.

Read moreClimategate: Two More Bricks Fall Out Of The IPCC Wall Of Deceit – Rainforests And Polar Bears

Spain: Heaviest Snowfall in Decades Leaves 250,000 Without Power

A metre of snow fell in the Pyrenees leaving 6,000 travellers stranded and blocking up to 40 roads

spain-heaviest-snowfall-in-decades-leaves-250000-without-power
A couple walk on the beach during a snow storm in Barcelona, Spain. (AP)

Nearly a quarter of a million people in north-eastern Spain were without power yesterday after the heaviest snowfall in decades brought major disruption to the region.

A metre of snow fell in the Pyrenees leaving 6,000 travellers stranded and blocking up to 40 roads on the border between Spain and France. Barcelona recorded its heaviest snowfall since 1962 causing road, rail and flight chaos.

Catalonia’s interior minister, Joan Boada, said the power cuts, caused by a fault in a high-tension cable, were affecting the area around Girona, 60 miles north of Barcelona.

Spain’s border with France at La Junquera was closed causing 30-mile traffic jams while 170,000 pupils had the day off as schools were shut, local newspapers reported. About 3,000 people were put up in a town hall overnight and many others stranded in their cars as railway lines and roads became impassable, Boada said.

Tens of thousands more were unable to get home after snow fell at lunchtime and many left their offices to photograph the rare scenes of central Barcelona and its beach lying under a blanket of snow.

“I’ve never seen anything like this here in all my life,” said Barcelona resident Raquel Lasmarias, 35.

Read moreSpain: Heaviest Snowfall in Decades Leaves 250,000 Without Power

The 21st-century African land grab by rich countries facing global food and water shortages

Highly recommended article.


An Observer investigation reveals how rich countries faced by a global food shortage now farm an area double the size of the UK to guarantee supplies for their citizens

the-21st-century-african-land-grab-by-rich-countries-faced-by-global-food-and-water-shortages
A woman tends vegetables at a giant Saudi-financed farm in Ethiopia.

We turned off the main road to Awassa, talked our way past security guards and drove a mile across empty land before we found what will soon be Ethiopia’s largest greenhouse. Nestling below an escarpment of the Rift Valley, the development is far from finished, but the plastic and steel structure already stretches over 20 hectares – the size of 20 football pitches.

The farm manager shows us millions of tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables being grown in 500m rows in computer controlled conditions. Spanish engineers are building the steel structure, Dutch technology minimises water use from two bore-holes and 1,000 women pick and pack 50 tonnes of food a day. Within 24 hours, it has been driven 200 miles to Addis Ababa and flown 1,000 miles to the shops and restaurants of Dubai, Jeddah and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Ethiopia is one of the hungriest countries in the world with more than 13 million people needing food aid, but paradoxically the government is offering at least 3m hectares of its most fertile land to rich countries and some of the world’s most wealthy individuals to export food for their own populations.

The 1,000 hectares of land which contain the Awassa greenhouses are leased for 99 years to a Saudi billionaire businessman, Ethiopian-born Sheikh Mohammed al-Amoudi, one of the 50 richest men in the world. His Saudi Star company plans to spend up to $2bn acquiring and developing 500,000 hectares of land in Ethiopia in the next few years. So far, it has bought four farms and is already growing wheat, rice, vegetables and flowers for the Saudi market. It expects eventually to employ more than 10,000 people.

But Ethiopia is only one of 20 or more African countries where land is being bought or leased for intensive agriculture on an immense scale in what may be the greatest change of ownership since the colonial era.

An Observer investigation estimates that up to 50m hectares of land – an area more than double the size of the UK – has been acquired in the last few years or is in the process of being negotiated by governments and wealthy investors working with state subsidies. The data used was collected by Grain, the International Institute for Environment and Development, the International Land Coalition, ActionAid and other non-governmental groups.

The land rush, which is still accelerating, has been triggered by the worldwide food shortages which followed the sharp oil price rises in 2008, growing water shortages and the European Union’s insistence that 10% of all transport fuel must come from plant-based biofuels by 2015.

Read moreThe 21st-century African land grab by rich countries facing global food and water shortages