Contaminated US site faces ‘catastrophic’ nuclear leak

ONE of “the most contaminated places on Earth” will only get dirtier if the US government doesn’t get its act together – clean-up plans are already 19 years behind schedule and not due for completion until 2050.

More than 210 million litres of radioactive and chemical waste are stored in 177 underground tanks at Hanford in Washington State. Most are over 50 years old. Already 67 of the tanks have failed, leaking almost 4 million litres of waste into the ground.

Read moreContaminated US site faces ‘catastrophic’ nuclear leak

The Great Biofuels Con

According to the World Bank’s top economist, Don Mitchell, biofuels had been responsible for three-quarters of the 140 per cent rise in world food prices between 2002 and 2008. It was this that last October prompted Jean Ziegler, the UN’s “special rapporteur on the right to food”, to comment that biofuels could only bring “more hunger to the poor people of the world” and were a “crime against humanity”.
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A field of rapeseed in England and Africans reveive food relief
Yellow peril: while Britain’s farmers are encouraged to turn their fields over to rapeseed for biofuels, the world food crisis has driven people in Ethiopia to the brink of starvation

Rarely in political history can there have been such a rapid and dramatic reversal of a received wisdom as we have seen in the past 18 months over biofuels – the cropping of living plants, such as soya beans, wheat and sugar cane, to generate energy.

Two years ago biofuels were still being hailed as a dream solution to what was seen as one of the most urgent problems confronting mankind – our dependence on fossil fuels, which are not only finite but seemed to be threatening the world with the catastrophe of global warming.

Read moreThe Great Biofuels Con

Australia is suffering one of its worst droughts on record

Life is hard for wheat and livestock farmers in the south, as they face a possible third year of nearly no rain.

July 12, 2008 POOCHERA, AUSTRALIA — Glen Phillips kneels down, scoops up a handful of dirt and squashes it in his fist to test whether the soil in this dry patch of the Australian Outback is ready to take a crop of wheat.

“It should clump together when you squeeze,” says Phillips, whose family has lived off the land on the edge of the Great Australian Bight since 1949. “That’s how you know it’s good to plant, it’s moist enough to hold the roots.”

He opens his hand and the earth sifts dustily between his fingers. Phillips looks up, lifts his hat slightly and squints into an empty blue sky with no sign of rain.

“We’ll plant anyway,” he says. “We don’t have a choice.”

Australia is suffering one of its worst droughts on record, hurting wheat farming just as the world faces a food crisis. Australia is usually the world’s third or fourth-largest exporter of wheat. But exports dropped 46% from 2005 to 2006, then fell 24% last year.

Most of its exports go to the Middle East and Southeast Asia to make bread and cereals, but the fall in supply has led to soaring prices. A ton of Australian wheat costs $367, compared with $258 in early 2007, an increase poorer countries can ill afford.

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Worsening Drought Threatens Australia’s “Food Bowl”
Drought devastates Iraq’s wheat crops
Floods may boost world food prices for years
Floods wipe out US crops
The Best Farmland in the U.S. Is Flooded; Most Americans Are Too Stupid to Panic
The Price Of Food: 2007 – 2008
The U.S. Has No Remaining Grain Reserves
Nine meals from anarchy – how Britain is facing a very real food crisis
Time to Stockpile Food?
Food Riots are Coming to the U.S.
UN alert: One-fourth of world’s wheat at risk from new fungus
THE FOUR HORSEMEN APPROACH – FAMINE IS IN THE AIR
Philippines: Food Shortage Looms – Arroyo Adviser

“When they pay high prices, they pass on an increase to their poorest people, who can no longer afford it,” says Kunhamboo Kannan, director of agriculture, environment and natural resources at the Asian Development Bank. “Just look at Egypt.” Riots over rising bread prices and shortages have led to at least 10 deaths there this year.

Read moreAustralia is suffering one of its worst droughts on record

Worsening Drought Threatens Australia’s “Food Bowl”


An agricultural region that produces over 40 percent of Australia‘s fruit, vegetables, and grain is seriously threatened by the country’s ongoing drought, which has been developing into a crisis over the last decade. Scientists say that the two mighty rivers that irrigate the Murray-Darling Basin (an area the size of France and Germany combined) received the lowest amount of replenishing autumn rain since record-keeping began over a century ago.

Neil Plummer, acting head of the National Climate Centre, described rainfall during the southern hemisphere autumn as “an absolute shocker”, and said: “I’m gasping for good news”. Wendy Craik, chief executive of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission, said the river system’s condition was “critical… tending towards flatlining”. She added: “We have got it on life support” [The Independent].

Related articles:
Drought devastates Iraq’s wheat crops
Floods may boost world food prices for years
Floods wipe out US crops
The Best Farmland in the U.S. Is Flooded; Most Americans Are Too Stupid to Panic
The Price Of Food: 2007 – 2008
The U.S. Has No Remaining Grain Reserves
Nine meals from anarchy – how Britain is facing a very real food crisis
Time to Stockpile Food?
Food Riots are Coming to the U.S.
UN alert: One-fourth of world’s wheat at risk from new fungus
THE FOUR HORSEMEN APPROACH – FAMINE IS IN THE AIR
Philippines: Food Shortage Looms – Arroyo Adviser

The degrading ecosystem may cause strife between farmers and environmentalists, as the government has said it might be forced to compulsorily acquire water from irrigators, a move that would anger and devastate farm families [The Daily Telegraph]. Conservationists say the mandatory water buy-backs are necessary to protect the wetland habitat of native birds, turtles and fish.

Read moreWorsening Drought Threatens Australia’s “Food Bowl”

Drought devastates Iraq’s wheat crops

Power outages disrupt irrigation

BAGHDAD – It’s been a year of drought and sand storms across Iraq – a dry spell that has devastated the country’s crucial wheat crop and created new worries about the safety of drinking water.

U.S. officials warn that Iraq will need to increase wheat imports sharply this winter to make up for the lost crop – a sobering proposition with world food prices high and some internal refugees already struggling to afford basics.

“Planting … is totally destroyed,” said Daham Mohammed Salim, 40, who farms 120 acres in the al-Jazeera area near Tikrit, 130 kilometres north of Baghdad. “Even the ground water in wells is lower than before.”

The Tikrit area, where Saddam Hussein was born, normally is flush with green meadows in the spring and early summer – but this year has only thistles, said 30-year-old farmer Ziyad Sano. He’s resorted to collecting bread scraps from homes to feed his 70 sheep, but 20 have died.

Related articles:
Floods may boost world food prices for years
Floods wipe out US crops
The Best Farmland in the U.S. Is Flooded; Most Americans Are Too Stupid to Panic
The Price Of Food: 2007 – 2008
The U.S. Has No Remaining Grain Reserves
Nine meals from anarchy – how Britain is facing a very real food crisis
Time to Stockpile Food?
Food Riots are Coming to the U.S.
UN alert: One-fourth of world’s wheat at risk from new fungus
THE FOUR HORSEMEN APPROACH – FAMINE IS IN THE AIR
Philippines: Food Shortage Looms – Arroyo Adviser

The dry weather has hurt areas from Kurdistan’s wheat fields in northern Iraq to pomegranate orchards, orange groves and wheat fields just north of Baghdad.

Read moreDrought devastates Iraq’s wheat crops

6,700 Tons of Radioactive Debris Shipped From Kuwait to Idaho

6700 Tons of Radioactive Debris Shipped From Kuwait to Idaho
The shipment across the ocean, unloading at Longview, Washington State port, transport by rail, and burial in Idaho endangers not only the residents of these areas but poses a significant agricultural threat through introduction of pests, microbes, etc. foreign to our nation.

Doug Rokke, Ph.D. – BLN Contributing Writer

(Note: Dr. Doug Rokke is the former Director of the U.S. Army’s Depleted Uranium Project. It was his task to clean up the radioactive battlefields of the Gulf War. Today, this leading opponent of nuclear warfare is vitally concerned that sand contaminated by radioactive munitions exploded in the Middle East has been shipped to Idaho for burial. And more, much more. He asked me to call his warning to public attention.)

During the summer of 1991, the United States military had collected artillery, tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, conventional and unconventional munitions, trucks, etc. at Camp Doha in Kuwait.

As result of carelessness this weapons depot caught fire with consequent catastrophic explosion resulting in death, injury, illness and extensive environmental contamination from depleted uranium and conventional explosives.

Recently the emirate of Kuwait required the United States Department of Defense to remove the contamination. Consequently, over 6,700 tons of contaminated soil sand and other residue was collected and has been shipped back to the United States for burial by American Ecology at Boise Idaho.

When Bob Nichols, an investigative journalist, and I contacted American Ecology we found out that they had absolutely no knowledge of U.S. Army Regulation 700-48, U.S. Army PAM 700-48, U.S. Army Technical Bulletin 9-1300-278, and all of the medical orders dealing with depleted uranium contamination, environmental remediation procedures, safety, and medical care .

They had never heard of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines for dealing with mixed – hazardous waste such as radioactive materials and conventional explosives byproducts. (reference “Approaches for the Remediation of Federal Facility Sites Contaminated with Explosives or Radioactive Wastes”, EPA/625/R-93/013, September 1993).

The shipment across the ocean, unloading at Longview, Washington State port, transport by rail, and burial in Idaho endangers not only the residents of these areas but poses a significant agricultural threat through introduction of pests, microbes, etc. foreign to our nation.

Sadly the known adverse health and environmental hazards from uranium weapons contamination are in our own backyard. The EPA has listed the former Nuclear Metals- Starmet uranium weapons manufacturing site in Concord Ma. On EPA’s Superfund National Priority List because it poses a significant risk to public health and the environment.

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Read more6,700 Tons of Radioactive Debris Shipped From Kuwait to Idaho

Die-off of bats mystifies experts

Biologists are stumped by a plague that has killed tens of thousands, and perhaps hundreds of thousands, of bats this year in Northeastern states.

The cause of “white-nose syndrome,” so named because of the white fungus that appears on bats’ noses and wings, remains a mystery. And the plague is still killing bats, alarming scientists who had considered it a winter syndrome.

“The surprise for us has been finding out that bats are still dying,” says biologist Susi von Oettingen of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service office in Concord, N.H. Biologists combing summertime roosts report finding six species of bats affected by the syndrome in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut, she says.

“I’m continuing to get calls on a daily basis from cities and residents reporting dead bats,” says Scott Darling of the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife. Spot surveys are being done in the five states, but conservation officials won’t get a solid sense of further losses until later this month when male bats begin returning to caves, Darling says.

One bat can eat more than a pound of night-time insects in a week. White-nose syndrome threatens the endangered Indiana bat, Darling says, and agricultural pest numbers may explode without bats.

Read moreDie-off of bats mystifies experts

Australia faces worse, more frequent droughts: study

PERTH (Reuters) – Australia could experience more severe droughts and they could become more frequent in the future because of climate change, a government-commissioned report said on Sunday.

Droughts could hit the country twice as often as now, cover an area twice as big and be more severe in key agricultural production areas, the Bureau of Meteorology and Australia’s top science organization, the CSIRO, said in a joint report.

The study also found that temperatures currently defined as “exceptional” were likely to occur, on average, once in every two years in many key agricultural production areas within the next 20 to 30 years, while spells of low rainfall would almost double in frequency from current figures.

Australia, suffering its worst drought in 100 years, has seen its wheat exports tumble in the past two years.

The Pacific nation is normally the second-largest wheat exporter in the world, but the harvest has been decimated to just 13 million tonnes last year because of drought.

Read moreAustralia faces worse, more frequent droughts: study

Wildlife extinction rates ‘seriously underestimated’

Endangered species may become extinct 100 times faster than previously thought, scientists warned today, in a bleak re-assessment of the threat to global biodiversity.

Writing in the journal Nature, leading ecologists claim that methods used to predict when species will die out are seriously flawed, and dramatically underestimate the speed at which some plants and animals will be wiped out.

The findings suggest that animals such as the western gorilla, the Sumatran tiger and the Malayan sun bear, the smallest of the bear family, may become extinct much sooner than conservationists feared.

Ecologists Brett Melbourne at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Alan Hastings at the University of California, Davis, said conservation organisations should use updated extinction models to urgently re-evaluate the risks to wildlife.

“Some species could have months instead of years left, while other species that haven’t even been identified as under threat yet should be listed as endangered,” said Melbourne.

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Wildlife populations ‘plummeting’
UN official: Biodiversity loss could hurts medical research

The warning has particular implications for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which compiles an annual “red list” of endangered species. Last year, the list upgraded western gorillas to critically endangered, after populations of a subspecies were found to be decimated by Ebola virus and commercial trade in bush meat. The Yangtze river dolphin was listed as critically endangered, but is possibly already extinct.

Read moreWildlife extinction rates ‘seriously underestimated’