Ice shelf on verge of collapse

Latest sign of global warming’s impact shocks scientists

A vast ice shelf hanging on by a thin strip looks to be the next chunk to break off from the Antarctic Peninsula, the latest sign of global warming’s impact on Earth’s southernmost continent.

Scientists are shocked by the rapid change of events.


An image of the Wilkins Ice Shelf disintegration taken from the
British Antarctic Survey’s Twin Otter aircraft reconnaissance flight.

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Analyst Predicts Corn Rationing in 2008

NEW YORK – A BB&T Capital Markets analyst said Monday corn rationing may be necessary this year, following a U.S. Department of Agriculture report predicting farmers would plant far fewer acres of corn in 2008.

According to the March Prospective Plantings Report, farmers intend to plant about 86 million acres of corn this year, down 8 percent from 2007, when the amount of corn planted was the highest since World War II.

Analyst Heather L. Jones said in a note to investors if the USDA estimate proves accurate, the year may produce just 200 million bushels of corn. That, she said, wouldn’t be enough to meet demand, given current export and feed demand trends and higher ethanol demand. Both ethanol and animal feed are made with corn.

“That is an untenable inventory demand, in our opinion,” she said. “Consequently, we believe demand must be rationed or there needs to be a big supply response from other growing regions of the world.”

Read moreAnalyst Predicts Corn Rationing in 2008

Iran’s Wheat Fungus: Coincidence or Biological Warfare?

 Global Research reports:

A dangerous new fungus with the ability to destroy entire wheat fields has been detected in Iran, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported today.

The wheat stem rust, whose spores are carried by wind across continents, was previously found in East Africa and Yemen and has moved to Iran, which said that laboratory tests have confirmed its presence in some localities in Broujerd and Hamedan in the country’s west.

Up to 80 per cent of all Asian and African wheat varieties are susceptible to the fungus, and major wheat-producing nations to Iran’s east – such as Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan – should be on high alert, FAO warned.

“The fungus is spreading rapidly and could seriously lower wheat production in countries at direct risk,” said Shivaji Pandey, Director of FAO’s Plant Production and Protection Division.

He urged the control of the rust’s spread to lower the risk to countries already impacted by high food prices.

Iran has said that it will bolster its research capacity to tackle the new fungus and develop wheat varieties that are rust-resistant.

Called Ug99, the disease first surfaced in Uganda and subsequently spread to Kenya and Ethiopia, with both countries experiencing serious crop yield losses due to a serious rust epidemic last year. Also in 2007, FAO confirmed that a more virulent strain was found in Yemen.

Sure, maybe it was carried by the wind — and maybe the fungus was introduced by man. Not so much a conspiracy theory when history is taken into account. For instance, back in 1977, the San Francisco Chronicle reported the CIA dispatched “anti-Castro terrorists” to introduce “African swine fever virus into Cuba in 1971…. Six weeks later an outbreak of the disease forced the slaughter of 500,000 pigs to prevent a nationwide animal epidemic.” It was so scary that the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization labeled the outbreak the “most alarming event” of 1971.

Read moreIran’s Wheat Fungus: Coincidence or Biological Warfare?

25 Environmental Threats of the Future

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Forget genetically modified crops, the great environmental concerns of the future should be nanomaterials, manmade viruses and biomimetic robots.

So say researchers, policymakers and environmental campaigners, who have identified 25 potential future threats to the environment in the UK, which they say researchers should focus on.

In addition to well-publicised risks such as toxic nanomaterials, the acidification of the ocean and increasingly frequent extreme weather events, the list includes some more outlandish possibilities. These include:

” Biomimetic robots that could become new invasive species.

” Experiments involving climate engineering, for instance ocean ‘fertilisation’ and deploying solar shields

” Increased demand for the biomass needed to make biofuel.

” Disruption to marine ecosystems caused by offshore power generation.

” Experiments to control invasive species using genetically engineered viruses.

Read more25 Environmental Threats of the Future

High Rice Cost Creating Fears of Asia Unrest

HANOI – Rising prices and a growing fear of scarcity have prompted some of the world’s largest rice producers to announce drastic limits on the amount of rice they export.The price of rice, a staple in the diets of nearly half the world’s population, has almost doubled on international markets in the last three months. That has pinched the budgets of millions of poor Asians and raised fears of civil unrest.

Shortages and high prices for all kinds of food have caused tensions and even violence around the world in recent months. Since January, thousands of troops have been deployed in Pakistan to guard trucks carrying wheat and flour. Protests have erupted in Indonesia over soybean shortages, and China has put price controls on cooking oil, grain, meat, milk and eggs.

Food riots have erupted in recent months in Guinea, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Senegal, Uzbekistan and Yemen. But the moves by rice-exporting nations over the last two days – meant to ensure scarce supplies will meet domestic needs – drove prices on the world market even higher this week.

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Read moreHigh Rice Cost Creating Fears of Asia Unrest

From Seeds of Suicide to Seeds of Hope: Navdanya’s Intervention to Stop Farmers’ Suicides in Vidharbha

The increasing costs of production and the falling farm prices that go hand in hand with globalisation and corporate hijack of seed supply, combined with the decline in farm credit is putting an unbearable debt burden on farmers. The lure of huge profits linked with clever advertising strategies evolved by the seeds and chemical industries are forcing farmers into a chemical treadmill and a debt trap. It has been witnessed that across the country, farmers are taking the desperate step of ending their life. The pesticides, which had created debt, also became the source of ending indebted lives. More than 150,000 farmers have committed suicide in India due to distortions introduced in agriculture as a result of trade liberalisation. More than 20,000 farmers have committed suicide in Andhra Pradesh alone.

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Read moreFrom Seeds of Suicide to Seeds of Hope: Navdanya’s Intervention to Stop Farmers’ Suicides in Vidharbha

WAR on FOOD – Grain Prices Soar Globally Leading To Food Riots

Rice shortages are appearing across Asia. In Egypt, the Army is now baking bread to curb food riots.

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Rice farmers here are staying awake in shifts at night to guard their fields from thieves. In Peru, shortages of wheat flour are prompting the military to make bread with potato flour, a native crop. In Egypt, Cameroon, and Burkina Faso food riots have broken out in the past week.

Read moreWAR on FOOD – Grain Prices Soar Globally Leading To Food Riots

US fears over honey bee collapse

The pollination of crops by bees is responsible for a third of the food produced in the US.

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The US bee population fell by about 30% last year

One in every three mouthfuls has been touched by their tiny feet; but our six-legged friends are in trouble.

They are getting sick and leaving their hives. Without bees, food gets more expensive – some products could disappear altogether.

Colony collapse disorder (CCD) emerged last year, and by spring 2007 bees were dying in huge numbers – over the year as a whole the total bee population fell by 30%.

Some beekeepers lost closer to 90%, and the fear is it will get worse.

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China – Drought

RSOE Emergency and Disaster Information Service
Budapest, Hungary2008-03-20 15:16:03 – Drought – China

GLIDE CODE: DR-20080320-15931-CHN
Date & Time: 2008-03-20 15:16:03 [UTC]
Area: China, Hebei, Nei Mongol, Heilongjiang, Liaoning, Jilin, Shandong, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region,

!!! WARNING !!!

Description:

A number of regions in the north and northeast part of China were still fighting a continuous drought that could affect spring farming. Serious drought began to hit many big cities and prefectures of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in the north, including Hulun Buir, Baotou, Ordos and Xilingol, early this month because of reduced rainfall since December, the autonomous regional meteorological bureau said Thursday.

Different localities received a maximum of 20 millimeters of rainfall over the past four months, up to 70 percent less than the corresponding period of previous years, according to Li Yunpeng, official with the meteorological center of ecology and agriculture. The drought would continue in the region until the first springrain comes in mid April, said Li. Meteorological authorities called for measures to maintain soilmoisture for the upcoming spring sowing. A severe drought in the neighboring Hebei Province had affected 3 million hectares of cropland and left residents in some areas short of drinking water. It is the 12th consecutive spring drought in the province, which only received seven millimeters of rainfall on average since the winter, about 60 percent less than normal years.

Read moreChina – Drought

Water will be source of war unless world acts now, warns minister

The world faces a future of “water wars”, unless action is taken to prevent international water shortages and sanitation issues escalating into conflicts, according to Gareth Thomas, the International Development minister.The minister’s warning came as a coalition of 27 international charities marked World Water Day, by writing to Gordon Brown demanding action to give fresh water to 1.1 billion people with poor supplies. “If we do not act, the reality is that water supplies may become the subject of international conflict in the years ahead,” said Mr Thomas. “We need to invest now to prevent us having to pay that price in the future.”

His department warned that two-thirds of the world’s population will live in water-stressed countries by 2025. The stark prediction comes after the Prime Minister said in his national security strategy that pressure on water was one of the factors that could help countries “tip into instability, state failure or conflict”.

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Read moreWater will be source of war unless world acts now, warns minister