India turns to cloud seeding to make rain

India is developing new techniques to create rain artificially amid growing fears over the late arrival of the monsoon season.

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A delay in the arrival of this year’s monsoon has left India’s paddy fields parched and caused water-shortages throughout the main cities Photo: AFP/GETTY

Scientists at its Institute of Tropical Meteorology disclosed a new series of “cloud seeding” experiments as fears of a drought grip a country praying for the heavens to open.

A delay in the arrival of this year’s monsoon has left India’s paddy fields parched and caused water-shortages throughout the main cities. A heatwave has claimed at least 24 lives, with the absence of the rain’s cooling effect on 45 degree C temperatures has caused power-cuts, while school summer holidays have been extended by a week in the hope of a downpour.

India’s agriculture, stock markets and the fortunes of its political parties traditionally depend on good monsoon rains. In one state, Andhra Pradesh, which has had only half the expected rainfall this month, farmers fear their crop yields could fall by 30 per cent.

The Indian government has used American cloud seeding technology in the past but is now developing its own techniques to guarantee monsoon clouds break into torrential rains.

Read moreIndia turns to cloud seeding to make rain

Obama administration refuses to disclose “high hazard” coal dump locations

Administration turns down senator’s request to make public the list of 44 dumps, which contain arsenic and metals

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A rift has opened between the Obama administration and some of its closest allies – Democratic leaders and environmental organisations – over its refusal to publicly disclose the location of 44 coal ash dumps that have been officially designated as a “high hazard” to local populations.

The administration turned down a request from a powerful Democratic senator to make public the list of 44 dumps, which contain a toxic soup of arsenic and heavy metals from coal-fired electricity plants, citing terrorism fears.

The refusal has put the Obama administration at odds with some of its strongest supporters over an emerging area of environmental concern in America.

Last Christmas, a retaining wall burst on a coal ash pond in Tennessee disgorging a billion gallons of waste and putting pressure on the authorities to bring in safety controls over the management of some 600 similar waste pools dotted across the country.

Some 44 of the most dangerous coal ash dumps are known to be located in populated areas in 26 separate locations. The high hazard designation means that a breach, like the one in Tennessee, could cause death and significant property damage if the sludge spills into surrounding neigbourhoods. But that is all the adminstration will disclose.

“Right now we have a blanket gag order,” Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat who heads the Senate environment and public works committee told a press conference last week.

“We are losing what we cherish in America: the citizens’ right to know.”

Boxer, who has seen the list of sites, said she was only allowed to share the information with fellow senators – not their staff and not local authorities in the affected areas.

“There is a huge muzzle on me and my staff,” she said. “They’re putting ridiculous restrictions on me.”

The local newspaper in Tennessee also ridiculed the decision.

“These waste sites may be environmental and health hazards. But they are unlikely terror targets,” said the Knox group of newspapers. “As the muckety-mucks in Washington know, the real danger of disclosure is from angry Americans. If citizens realise they are downstream from fragile mountains of gunk, they will demand action and accountability.”

Environmental groups see the gag order on the coal ash sites as a betrayal of Obama’s promise, during his speech to staff on his first day in the White House in January, of a new era of openness in government.

“For a long time now, there’s been too much secrecy in this city,” Obama said in the speech. “That era is now over. Starting today, every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information but those who seek to make it known.”

Read moreObama administration refuses to disclose “high hazard” coal dump locations

The Ug99 fungus: A time bomb for world wheat crop

Related articles:
Airborne fungus Ug99 threatens global wheat harvest (The Guardian):
“The US army produced wheat rust as part of its biological weapons programme in the 1960s.”
UN alert: One-fourth of world’s wheat at risk from new fungus (World Tribune)
Billions at risk from wheat super-blight (New Scientist)


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Oregon State scientist Mary Verhoeven is among those working to develop wheat varieties resistant to a strain of “stem rust” that a colleague calls “a time bomb.”

The Ug99 fungus, called stem rust, could wipe out more than 80% of the world’s wheat as it spreads from Africa, scientists fear. The race is on to breed resistant plants before it reaches the U.S.

The spores arrived from Kenya on dried, infected leaves ensconced in layers of envelopes.

Working inside a bio-secure greenhouse outfitted with motion detectors and surveillance cameras, government scientists at the Cereal Disease Laboratory in St. Paul, Minn., suspended the fungal spores in a light mineral oil and sprayed them onto thousands of healthy wheat plants. After two weeks, the stalks were covered with deadly reddish blisters characteristic of the scourge known as Ug99.

Nearly all the plants were goners.

Crop scientists fear the Ug99 fungus could wipe out more than 80% of worldwide wheat crops as it spreads from eastern Africa. It has already jumped the Red Sea and traveled as far as Iran. Experts say it is poised to enter the breadbasket of northern India and Pakistan, and the wind will inevitably carry it to Russia, China and even North America — if it doesn’t hitch a ride with people first.

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“It’s a time bomb,” said Jim Peterson, a professor of wheat breeding and genetics at Oregon State University in Corvallis. “It moves in the air, it can move in clothing on an airplane. We know it’s going to be here. It’s a matter of how long it’s going to take.”

Read moreThe Ug99 fungus: A time bomb for world wheat crop

Ron Paul: Global Warming Petition Signed by 31,478 Scientists

Statement before the US House of Representatives, June 4, 2009

By Ron Paul:

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Madam Speaker, before voting on the “cap-and-trade” legislation, my colleagues should consider the views expressed in the following petition that has been signed by 31,478 American scientists:

“We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan in December, 1997, and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.

There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”

Circulated through the mail by a distinguished group of American physical scientists and supported by a definitive review of the peer-reviewed scientific literature, this may be the strongest and most widely supported statement on this subject that has been made by the scientific community. A state-by-state listing of the signers, which include 9,029 men and women with PhD degrees, a listing of their academic specialties, and a peer-reviewed summary of the science on this subject are available at www.petitionproject.org.

The peer-reviewed summary, “Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide” by A. B. Robinson, N. E. Robinson, and W. Soon includes 132 references to the scientific literature and was circulated with the petition.

Signers of this petition include 3,803 with specific training in atmospheric, earth, and environmental sciences. All 31,478 of the signers have the necessary training in physics, chemistry, and mathematics to understand and evaluate the scientific data relevant to the human-caused global warming hypothesis and to the effects of human activities upon environmental quality.

In a letter circulated with this petition, Frederick Seitz – past President of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, President Emeritus of Rockefeller University, and recipient of honorary doctorate degrees from 32 universities throughout the world – wrote:

Read moreRon Paul: Global Warming Petition Signed by 31,478 Scientists

US Association of Physicians calls for Moratorium on GMO Foods

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has just issued a call for an immediate moratorium on Genetically Manipulated (GMO) Foods.

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In a just-released position paper on GMO foods, the AAEM states that ‘GM foods pose a serious health risk’ and calls for a moratorium on GMO foods. Citing several animal studies, the AAEM concludes ‘there is more than a casual association between GMO foods and adverse health effects’ and that ‘GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health.’ The report is a devastating blow to the multibillion dollar international agribusiness industry, most especially to Monsanto Corporation, the world’s leading purveyor of GMO seeds and related herbicides.

In a press release dated May 19, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, which describes itself as ‘an international association of physicians and other professionals dedicated to addressing the clinical aspects of environmental health,’ called immediately for the following emergency measures to be taken regarding human consumption of GMO foods:

* A moratorium on GMO food; implementation of immediate long term safety testing and labelling of GMO food.

* Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community and the public to avoid GMO foods.

* Physicians to consider the role of GMO foods in their patients’ disease processes.

* More independent long term scientific studies to begin gathering data to investigate the role of GMO foods on human health.

The AAEM chairperson, Dr Amy Dean notes that ‘Multiple animal studies have shown that GM foods cause damage to various organ systems in the body. With this mounting evidence, it is imperative to have a moratorium on GM foods for the safety of our patients’ and the public’s health.’ The President of the AAEM, Dr Jennifer Armstrong stressed that ‘Physicians are probably seeing the effects in their patients, but need to know how to ask the right questions. The most common foods in North America which are consumed that are GMO are corn, soy, canola, and cottonseed oil.’ The AAEM’s position paper on Genetically Modified foods can be found at http:aaemonline.org.

Related information:
Exposed: the great GM crops myth
The World According to Monsanto – A documentary that Americans won’t ever see
At stake is no less than control of the world’s food supply.

The paper further states that Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) technology ‘abrogates natural reproductive processes, selection occurs at the single cell level, the procedure is highly mutagenic and routinely breeches genera barriers, and the technique has only been used commercially for 10 years.’

The AAEM paper further states, ’several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signalling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.’

Read moreUS Association of Physicians calls for Moratorium on GMO Foods

Now the government wants to change your diet to fight climate change

“sheep, whose burping poses a serious threat to the environment”

Sure!
Sheep, the new climate change terrorists.
The government now wants to tell you what you can and what you can’t eat.


Burping of the lambs blows roast off menu

GIVE up lamb roasts and save the planet. Government advisers are developing menus to combat climate change by cutting out “high carbon” food such as meat from sheep, whose burping poses a serious threat to the environment.

Out will go kebabs, greenhouse tomatoes and alcohol. Instead, diners will be encouraged to consume more potatoes and seasonal vegetables, as well as pork and chicken, which generate fewer carbon emissions.

“Changing our lifestyles, including our diets, is going to be one of the crucial elements in cutting carbon emissions,” said David Kennedy, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change.

Kennedy has stopped eating his favourite doner kebabs because they contain lamb.

A government-sponsored study into greenhouse gases found that producing 2.2lb of lamb released the equivalent of 37lb of carbon dioxide.

Read moreNow the government wants to change your diet to fight climate change

Drought So Bad in Central California Even the Haircut Business is Hurting


A feeder canal sits empty off the Delta Mendota Canal after the Federal Bureau of Reclamation instituted a “zero allocation” policy for irrigation water to farmers in Mendota, California, as seen on April 14, 2009. Photographer: Phil Hawkins/Bloomberg News

May 6 (Bloomberg) — The drought in California’s Central Valley is so severe that it’s drying up money for haircuts.

One customer waited six months to get a $10 haircut, then asked to have his head shaved so he could wait another six months, said Armando Ramirez, a barber in Firebaugh.

“People come in and say, ‘Hey Armando, how about I give you a dollar for a cut, it’s all I have,'” said Ramirez, 63, who has owned his shop for four decades. “Saturday is supposed to be my busiest day, but I’m lucky if I get one customer before I go to lunch.”

Businesses are casualties of the three-year drought that is forcing farmers to leave hundreds of thousands of acres fallow in the Central Valley, the semi-arid agricultural region running 400 miles (600 kilometers) down the middle of the state. The drought may cost the valley 35,000 jobs and $959 million in lost revenue this year, said Richard Howitt, chairman of agricultural and resource economics at the University of California, Davis.

“I’ve never seen a drought this bad,” said Bob Diedrich, who has been farming near Firebaugh, 140 miles southeast of San Francisco, since 1973. “It’s putting a chokehold on us.”

Read moreDrought So Bad in Central California Even the Haircut Business is Hurting

Global warming alarmists out in cold

IT’S snowing in April. Ice is spreading in Antarctica. The Great Barrier Reef is as healthy as ever.

And that’s just the news of the past week. Truly, it never rains but it pours – and all over our global warming alarmists.

Time’s up for this absurd scaremongering. The fears are being contradicted by the facts, and more so by the week.

Doubt it? Then here’s a test.

Name just three clear signs the planet is warming as the alarmists claim it should. Just three. Chances are your “proofs” are in fact on my list of 10 Top Myths about global warming.

And if your “proofs” indeed turn out to be false, don’t get angry with me.

Just ask yourself: Why do you still believe that man is heating the planet to hell? What evidence do you have?

So let’s see if facts matter more to you than faith, and observations more than predictions.

MYTH 1

THE WORLD IS WARMING

Wrong. It is true the world did warm between 1975 and 1998, but even Professor David Karoly, one of our leading alarmists, admitted this week “temperatures have dropped” since – “both in surface temperatures and in atmospheric temperatures measured from satellites”. In fact, the fall in temperatures from just 2002 has already wiped out half the warming our planet experienced last century. (Check data from Britain’s Hadley Centre, NASA’s Aqua satellite and the US National Climatic Data Centre.)

Read moreGlobal warming alarmists out in cold

Monsanto sues Germany over GM corn ban


Monsanto has taken action against the German ban

US biotech giant Monsanto is suing Germany over its decision to ban genetically modified corn, saying it is arbitrary and goes against EU regulations.

On Wednesday, Monsanto confirmed a report in the Handelsblatt newspaper that it had filed a suit in a court in the northern German city of Braunschweig, aiming to overturn the ban on GM corn.

Monsanto is hoping for a decision by mid May, which would allow it to plant GM seed this spring, according to Handelsblatt.

Last Tuesday, German Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner announced a ban on planting genetically modified Monsanto corn type MON 810.


Some butterflies are thought to be harmed by the GM corn

She cited studies which, she said, show the corn is dangerous for the environment, specifically Monarch butterflies and other insects. The seeds contain a gene, which protects the corn against a pest, the European corn borer butterfly.

Read moreMonsanto sues Germany over GM corn ban

Drowning in plastic: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is twice the size of France

There are now 46,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometre of the world’s oceans, killing a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals each year. Worse still, there seems to be nothing we can do to clean it up. So how do we turn the tide?

A shark carcase on Kamilo Beach, Hawaii; Drowning in plastic
A shark carcase on Kamilo Beach, Hawaii, where plastic particles outnumber sand grains until you dig down about a foot Photo: ALGALITA MARINE RESEARCH FOUNDATION  A jar of Pacific water held by the environmentalist Charles Moore hints at the amount of plastic swirling just below the ocean’s surface Photo: MATT CRAMER/AMRF

Way out in the Pacific Ocean, in an area once known as the doldrums, an enormous, accidental monument to modern society has formed. Invisible to satellites, poorly understood by scientists and perhaps twice the size of France, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is not a solid mass, as is sometimes imagined, but a kind of marine soup whose main ingredient is floating plastic debris.

It was discovered in 1997 by a Californian sailor, surfer, volunteer environmentalist and early-retired furniture restorer named Charles Moore, who was heading home with his crew from a sailing race in Hawaii, at the helm of a 50ft catamaran that he had built himself.

For the hell of it, he decided to turn on the engine and take a shortcut across the edge of the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, a region that seafarers have long avoided. It is a perennial high pressure zone, an immense slowly spiralling vortex of warm equatorial air that pulls in winds and turns them gently until they expire. Several major sea currents also converge in the gyre and bring with them most of the flotsam from the Pacific coasts of Southeast Asia, North America, Canada and Mexico. Fifty years ago nearly all that flotsam was biodegradable. These days it is 90 per cent plastic.

‘It took us a week to get across and there was always some plastic thing bobbing by,’ says Moore, who speaks in a jaded, sardonic drawl that occasionally flares up into heartfelt oratory. ‘Bottle caps, toothbrushes, styrofoam cups, detergent bottles, pieces of polystyrene packaging and plastic bags. Half of it was just little chips that we couldn’t identify. It wasn’t a revelation so much as a gradual sinking feeling that something was terribly wrong here. Two years later I went back with a fine-mesh net, and that was the real mind-boggling discovery.’

Read moreDrowning in plastic: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is twice the size of France