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Special Radio Presentation: Climate Change Perspective

Radio Broadcast
Elizabeth Kolbert
Location: NY - 10010
January 19, 2006
Twenty-five years ago, when the National Academy of Sciences first looked into it, global warming was a theory. Today it is a reality. The Arctic ice cap is melting. The world's permafrost is thawing; nearly every major glacier is shrinking; the oceans are growing not just warmer, but more acidic; and plants are blooming days, in some cases weeks earlier than they used to. Many of the changes that have already taken place cannot be reversed. Meanwhile, much graver changes lie ahead if we do not act now.

To Purchase this book, click on the image above

Audio interview of Elizabeth Kolbert, author ?Field Notes from a Catastophe.

Record number of dangerous natural phenomena hits Russia in 2006

Earth News: Weather Observations for 2006
December 28, 2006
This year Russia has registered the HIGHEST NUMBER OF UNFAVORABLE AND DANGEROUS NATURAL PHENOMENA IN THE HISTORY OF METEOROLOGICAL OBSERVATION, a director of Russia's Hydrometeorology Center said Thursday. Between January and November, 371 dangerous natural phenomena - including extreme cold, heat waves, strong winds and driving rains - were registered throughout Russia. "The year also ends unusually with the abnormally warm weather in late November and early December, when plants even began to bloom in some areas." Extreme deviations in weather patterns were observed before, but over the past decade they have become more and more frequent. Following near-record low temperatures during last winter's cold spell, which saw the mercury plummet to -31°C (-23.8°F) January 19 - one degree above the all-time low for Moscow - European Russia experienced RECORD WARM temperatures this month. But they said this year's unusually warm start of winter in Russia should not be associated with global warming. Rather, the reason for this year's UNUSUAL weather was a strong anticyclone over Greenland, which 'orchestrated' the weather over European Russia.

CHINA - Typhoons, floods and droughts have claimed 2,704 lives and inflicted economic losses of 212 billion yuan this year. "The losses China suffered this year were second only to those inflicted in 1998 when an extremely severe flood ravaged the country." This year, seven typhoons and seven strong tropical storms have hit the Chinese mainland, including Typhoon Saomai, the strongest typhoon to hit China since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, that claimed at least 460 lives. Both the intensity of the disaster weather and the damages caused were "RARE" in the country's history. This spring saw 18 sandstorms in northern China, a RECORD high since 2000 while in summer, the worst drought in a century ravaged Chongqing Municipality of northwestern China, leaving more than 17 million people with drinking water shortages. Sichuan Province was also stricken by its most severe drought since 1951. Northern China experienced its worst acid rain in 14 years this summer. In August, 80 percent of the rainy days in Beijing were "acid rain days". Since December, most parts of central and eastern China have been cloaked in thick fog which has triggered frequent road accidents and postponed flights.

CANADA - British Columbia suffered — and suffered and suffered — from the weather in 2006. "It was almost as if Nature had this area in its crosshairs." B.C. was very wet, excessively dry, battered by storms, snowed on and frozen, and in Vancouver, approached a record for the most consecutive rainy days. The consequences were dire, from a widespread and lengthy boil-water alert, to hundreds of thousands left without power, damage to hundreds of homes, trees down in Vancouver's Stanley Park, extensive wildfires and the depression that comes from 27 wet days in a row. In parts of the Prairies, hail events set a record, with 221 in total, compared to the 179 record set last year. Early November storms in B.C. brought so much rain, "every river in the Lower Mainland, the South Coast and the southern half of Vancouver Island rose close to or above flood stage." Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland residents suffered three storms in five days in mid-December, with violent winds leaving a record 250,000 without power. Photo Above: The Vancouver water supply was compromised by the extreme weather. (CBC)

Pentagon Report on Climate Change

Skywatch Announcement
December 28, 2006

The latest issue of the Skywatch Newsletter has been emailed to subscribers and is available for review in the newsletter archives page

Viewers may subscribe to the weekly newsletter by clicking Here

Excerpt from this issue
A secret report, suppressed by US defense chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

Fish 'starving to death'

Environment News: Australia
Dec 27, 2006

FISH species on the Great Barrier Reef are starving to death because climate change is killing off their food source, an environmental study has found.
Rising sea temperatures have bleached more than 30 per cent of the world's coral reefs, a five-year study by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS) has found.
As a result, smaller fish which would normally feed on live coral are dying off, which could throw the fish food chain out of balance, and consequently hinder local fishing and tourism operations.
The coral damage is predicted to double by 2030 if sea temperatures continue their warming patterns, CoECRS senior researcher Morgan Pratchett said.

The Ground Beneath The Waves

Disaster Relief Report: Asia
More Horrifying Than Tsunami

Dec 26, 2006
It has been two years since the tsunami washed over the Andaman & Nicobar Islands and destroyed the homes and livelihoods of its residents. Although the government made a lot of promises, and spent a lot of taxpayer’s money, very little actual relief and rehabilitation work has been done. Instead of ensuring that people are able to return to farming or fishing or trade, the islands’ economy is being parcelled out to vested interests from the mainland. The environmental degradation is reaching crisis proportions. As people struggle to survive in hot, subhuman tin sheds, with no food security, electricity, education, basic health or livelihood, the terrible question comes back: where have all the massive aid and big promises disappeared? For how long will the central government hide the suffering of the tsunami survivors in India from the rest of the world? The government of India repeatedly promised the people that they would be given permanent housing, but apart from the model houses constructed for display, not a single house has been built for the 10,000 tsunami survivors! Two years after the tsunami, in many of the islands, the boats have yet to come, nets are yet to be distributed, jetties remain destroyed, and cold storages do not exist. There is fish in the sea but not for the tribals of the islands. There is no work or meaningful employment. People are still drinking from stagnant water pools and streams. They suffer all kinds of diseases as a result. In the middle of all this confusion, it appears that the minister for tourism is pushing for these pristine islands to be opened up for “high value” tourism. Forty islands that have a fragile ecosystem, particularly after the tsunami, are to be opened up for tourism. It is craftily packaged as eco-tourism. But for the vulnerable islands - this means doom.

Dire Warnings From First Chinese Climate Change Report

Earth News: Climate Change Analysis
Image: Graphic chart showing average temperature rise projections in China from 2000 to 2100, following the release of a government report that says the climate will warm significantly in coming decades.(AFP)

December 27, 2006
BEIJING (AFP) - Temperatures in China will rise significantly in coming decades and water shortages will worsen, state media has reported, citing the government's first national assessment of global climate change.
"Greenhouse gases released due to human activity are leading to ever more serious problems in terms of climate change," the Ministry of Science and Technology said in a statement.
"Global climate change has an impact on the nation's ability to develop further," said the ministry, one of 12 government departments that prepared the report.
In just over a decade, global warming will start to be felt in the world's most populous country, and it will get warmer yet over the next two or three generations.
Compared with 2000, the average temperatures will increase by between 1.3 and 2.1 degrees Celsius by 2020, the China News Service reported, citing the assessment.
By the middle of the century, the annual average temperature in China will rise by as much as 3.3 degrees Celsius (more than five degrees fahrenheit), and by 2100 it could soar by as much as six degrees Celsius, according to the news service.

Polar bears need protection

Breaking Earth News
December 27, 2006

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Polar bears are in jeopardy and need stronger government protection because of melting Arctic sea ice related to global warming, the Bush administration said Wednesday.
Pollution and overhunting also threaten their existence. Greenland and Norway have the most polar bears, while a quarter of them live mainly in Alaska and travel to Canada and Russia.
Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne on Wednesday proposed listing polar bears as a "threatened" species on the government list of imperiled species.

The "endangered" category is reserved for species more likely to become extinct.
"Polar bears are one of nature's ultimate survivors, able to live and thrive in one of the world's harshest environments," Kempthorne said. "But we are concerned the polar bear's habitat may literally be melting." (Learn more about polar bears)
A final decision on whether to add the polar bears to the list is a year away, after the government finishes more studies.

Earth News: Week Ending December 22, 2006

Earth News
Week of Dec 22, 2006
Solar Blackout
The sun produced a second
surface explosion
within a week, sending
another blast of radiation
into Earth.s atmosphere a few minutes
later. The following geomagnetic
storm caused vivid displays of
the northern lights as far south as
Iowa, while the southern lights were
seen as far north as Sydney, Australia.
The solar storm interfered with communications
on Earth, and one burst
of energy caused a complete blackout
of GPS navigation satellite systems
for up to two hours. .It is a rare
occurrence to have a strong event like
this so late in the solar cycle,. said
Larry Combs, a forecaster at
NOAA.s Space Environment Center
in Boulder, Colo. The sun produces
an 11-year cycle of sunspot activity,
with the last peak occurring in 2002.
Photo Above: TV engineer Stan Richard
took this photo of the northern lights from
Saylorville Lake, near Des Moines, Iowa.
While the colorful rays seem to end just
above the water, they are actually at altitudes
of 60 miles (100 km) or higher.
Locust Plague Averted
Locust-fighting efforts
have made it unlikely
Africa.s Sahara and
Sahel regions will be
plagued by a major invasion of the
destructive insects next spring,
according to the United Nations. The
Food and Agricultural Organization
said international efforts to combat a
resurgence of desert locusts in northern
Africa has prevented a repeat of
the massive swarms that devastated
crops between 2003 and 2005.
Photo Above: A Mauritanian looks at a sky filled by a desert
locust swarm earlier this year. The insects were laying eggs
in the north of the country.
Asian Floods
Southern Malaysia was
hit by the heaviest rainfall
in 100 years, triggering
massive flooding that
forced about 30,000 people from their
homes. The floods blocked main
roads and disrupted train service in
the state of Johor. A 24-hour deluge
also swamped parts of neighboring
Singapore, where mudslides and high
water blocked several roadways.
Photo Above: An aerial view of flooded area in Malaysia’s
southern state of Johor

A Warm Year
The U.N. meteorological
agency announced that
2006 is likely to be the
sixth-warmest year since
reliable observations began about
150 years ago. Climatologists at the
World Meteorological Organization
said the global mean surface temperature
for the year will be approximately
0.76 degrees Fahrenheit
above the 1961-1990 annual average.
They added that 2006 had been
marked by extreme drought followed
by devastating floods in Africa, heat
waves in the United States and
Europe and deadly typhoons in
Southeast Asia. Canada experienced
its mildest winter and spring on
record while the United States
received its warmest January-
September period.

Tropical Cyclones
An area of disturbed
weather over the western
Indian Ocean rapidly
formed into Cyclone
Bondo. The storm strengthened to
category-4 force, which is rare for
such storms in the region. Bondo
brought more than 11 inches of rainfall
to the north coast of Madagascar
and the Mauritius island of Agalega.
Tropical Storm Trami barely
reached storm force after forming to
the southwest of Guam.
Increased activity within
Indonesia.s Mount Soputan
volcano prompted
officials to warn nearby
residents on the island of Sulawesi to
be prepared for possible evacuation.
The 5,849-foot mountain last erupted
in December 2004 and twice during
2003, spewing lava and volcanic ash
up to 25 miles to the north. The nearest
village is five miles from Soputan's
Several villages in the central
Philippines were blanketed with ash
as Bulusan volcano produced a series
of explosions. The mountain is
located about 240 miles southeast of
Manila and has been expelling ash
and steam since March.

At least four people were
killed and about 150 others
were injured when a
magnitude 5.7 temblor
rocked the western coast of Indonesia's
Sumatra island. Aftershocks
kept many survivors from returning
to their homes.
Earth movements were also felt
in metropolitan Tokyo, southern Iran,
northwestern Algeria, southeastern
Tennessee, central Oklahoma, central
California and the San Francisco
Bay Area.

Dolphin Extinction
I n t e r n a t i o n a l
researchers say a rare
freshwater dolphin only
found in China.s Chang
Jiang (Yangtze) River has become
extinct. The team of U.S., Chinese
and Japanese researchers conducted
a search for the baiji during November
and December. They say they
scoured a 2,175-mile stretch of the
river without finding a single specimen.
The baiji, known in China as the
Goddess of Chang Jiang, is a white
dolphin with small eyes that is
believed to have existed for several
million years. About 400 were
believed to have existed at the beginning
of the 1980s, but only 13 were
found in 1997, and one in 2004. The
group attributed heavy ship traffic,
excessive fishing and water pollution
to the decline in the baiji population.

Earth News: A Journal of the Planet
Week Ending December 22, 2006
Distributed by: UPS
© 2006, Earth Frenzy Rights Reserved

Wind, rain, slips mark 2006

Weather Observations: New Zealand

Related Video

December, 2006
There's no doubt the crazy weather patterns had an impact on most New Zealanders in 2006. While the South Island's massive mid-winter snowstorm left a legacy, a seemingly relentless cycle of downpours, landslides and gales battered the rest of the country. This year it rained, and then it rained some more. Summer for some brought wind and rain in January and thunder in February. Then came the autumn, and more storms. Rainfall was at least 150% of normal in the far north and in the east. Winter in the Wairarapa saw roads turned into rivers and paddocks became ponds. In July, over 300 millimetres of rain fell there in 24 hours, closing more than 50 local roads. It kept on falling further north as well, as a winter of rain meant a season for slips. While houses fell off hillsides in the Hutt Valley, millions of tonnes of earth plunged into the valleys of Rangitikai, Manawatu, southern Taranaki. Bridges were out and communities cut off. Auckland and Christchurch had slips too, and so did the East Coast. In Wellington, big winds meant big swells in Cook Strait where some ferry crossings were rough and a couple atrocious. The summer has been a long time coming. For the first half of December, temperatures across the country were two degrees below average - and in Wellington, three degrees lower. And that makes it the COLDEST START TO CHRISTMAS IN THE CAPITAL SINCE RECORDS BEGAN.

Observations Elsewhere
CANADA - 2006 was a comfortable, although UNUSUAL weather year for Greater Sudbury. January was the warmest January on record, going back to 1952-53, a full 6 Celsius above the normals, especially when you look at night time lows. “Greater Sudbury got double its normal snow load in February but got only 10 centimetres of snow in March." Summer was hotter with nine days with above 30 C temperatures versus the normal six days. A devastating windstorm hit on Monday, July 17 and there were RECORD-SETTING warm temperatures this December.

The Next Solar Cycle

Skywatch Announcement
Dec 26, 2006

The latest issue of the Skywatch Newsletter 'The Next Solar Cycle', has been emailed to subscribers and is also available to review in the newsletter archives page

You can subsribe to our weekly newsletter by clicking here

Excerpts from this week's issue

Solar cycle 24, due to peak in 2010 or 2011 "looks like its going to be one of the most intense cycles since record-keeping began almost 400 years ago," says solar physicist David Hathaway of the Marshall Space Flight Center. He and colleague Robert Wilson presented this conclusion last week at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

©2006, Skywatch-Keep Looking to the Skies. All Rights Reserved

The Largest Tsunami Ever Measured on Earth

U.S.G.S. Aerial photo of Lituya Bay above taken after July 9, 1958 event. Note the extent of the non-forested areas of land lining the shore of the bay, which marks the approximate reach of the tsunami's runup.
Breaking Earth News: Alaska, USA
Dec 26, 2006
The biggest tsunami ever measured occurred in Lituya Bay, Alaska, on July 9, 1958. It was 1,720 feet high — that’s taller than any building in the world, almost 300 feet taller than the Sears Tower in Chicago, and about 350 feet taller than the World Trade Center in New York City was.The trigger was a 7.5 magnitude earthquake, but the tsunami itself was created by a landslide that followed the earthquake.
“Big chunks of ice were falling off the face of (the glacier) and falling into the water,” said an observer who watched from a fishing boat. “They came off the glacier like a big load of rocks spilling out of a dump truck.

FYI: Extreme Science
World Tsunami Record

Asian nations remember 2004 tsunami

Earth News: Asia
Photo: A woman walks past writing on a road marking the second anniversary of the Dec. 26, 2004, Asian tsunami in Keechankuppam, India. The writing says, "We cannot forget the day."


Dec 25, 2006
BALI, Indonesia - Thousands of people fled beaches on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali in a tsunami drill Tuesday, kicking off remembrances across Asia two years after devastating waves crashed into coastlines and killed 230,000 people.
Elsewhere across the disaster zone, survivors and mourners were marking the anniversary by visiting mass graves, lighting candles along beaches and observing two minutes of silence. Some volunteers were preparing to plant mangroves, saying they were key to protecting coastal communities.
The magnitude-9.0 earthquake that ripped apart the ocean floor off Indonesia’s Sumatra island on Dec. 26, 2004 spawned giant waves that fanned out across the Indian Ocean at jetliner speeds, killing people in a dozen countries and leaving millions homeless.

Seasons Greetings From Skywatch Media in Cajun-land


December 25, 2006
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

From the Editor's Desk
I wish to thank each and every viewer who has diligently followed the Earth News provided by our media network during 2006. Although our climate and earth changes continue to speak out, and the world continues to ignore the signs, there has nevertheless been numerous significant and meaningful global events that have taken place during the course of the year. With the advent of a new beginning looming in our not so distant furture, we should now take the time to prepare for all things which the creator shall place before us, whether good or bad, joyful or evil in context and in meaning. May the new year (2007) bring you all peace and comfort even in the midst of chaos and turmoil. All things are not lost for those who believe and prepare!

Have a blessed Christmas & New Years
Steven Shaman
Skywatch Media

Thoughts for Christmas

The following is the philosophy of Charles Schultz, the creator of the "Peanuts" comic strip. 1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world. 2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners. 3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America. 4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize. 5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winner for best actor and actress. 6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners. How did you do?The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners . Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one: 1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school. 2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time. 3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile. 4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special. 5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with. Easier? The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care. "Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia." (Charles Schultz)

Global warming could bring 'killer' to South Africa

Breaking Viral News: South Africa
Dec 24, 2006
New battlefronts are opening in the war against malaria. The main cause is climate change, which is seeing the disease spread to new areas. Because people in such places are less resistant, many more die of infections.In South Africa, fears are that changing weather conditions could result in it eventually spreading to areas like Pretoria. In other parts of Africa, the shifts are already happening. Predictions are that, as the continent suffering most from malaria, this could in coming years see a further rise in its death rate, put at up to 2 million people a year, and in the debilitating effect it has on countless others.Various factors are behind malaria's reputation as one of Africa's biggest killers. Socio-economic circumstances leave many communities particularly exposed. But contributing greatly to the problem are the characteristics of its carrier mosquito and the parasite itself, as well as the difficulties of effectively combating the carrier and curing the disease.

Climate change blamed as bears give up hibernation

Earth News: Climate Change
Animal Behavior: Spain
Dec 21, 2006
Bears in Spain have stopped hibernating for the winter — and the cause could be climate change. Many of the 130 bears in Spain's northern mountains who usually sleep through the cold season are still active because milder weather means they have enough nuts and berries to survive. "It's an indication of what's to come. Climate change is impacting on the natural world. Hitherto the warming seemed to be happening fastest at the Poles — now we're getting examples of it happening further south." Animals that hibernate in winter are abandoning hibernation in yet another signal that something momentous is happening to the rhythms of the natural world. Hibernation has evolved for the same reason most animal behaviour has evolved - as a strategy to maximise survival. Some creatures that need a lot of energy to get around have learned to shut themselves down in winter, when the food to provide that energy is simply not available, or too much energy would be expended in searching for it. European brown bears in northern Spain are abandoning a survival strategy that has been successful. What if they give up hibernation because of rising winter temperatures, but then when they are active in winter, are unable to find enough food?

BRITAIN - They could hardly believe it when the first lamb of the season arrived this week. It was not what farmers expect in the middle of December. Usually the lambing season does not kick off until spring and the owner, who owns a farm near Hambledon, is convinced the climate is responsible for playing havoc with her sheep's hormones. 'Last year we had one on New Year's Eve but WE'VE NEVER HAD ONE AS EARLY AS THIS BEFORE. We've called her Tinsel...I think it's all to do with the climate changing. So much happened that we noticed was different last year. All the animals are confused.' She said her geese and turkeys have started laying eggs – whereas usually they start laying at Easter.

Colorado reels under blizzard

Winter Storm News: Colorado, USA
Dec 21, 2006
A storm that began Wednesday and continued into Thursday afternoon dumped more than half a metre of snow on Colorado, bringing much of the state to a halt.
Schools, malls and offices were closed Thursday, the governor declared a state of emergency and 4,700 travellers spent the night at Denver International Airport after flights were cancelled.

The Colorado National Guard was rescuing stranded drivers flooding into shelters.
Mail deliveries were cancelled in the eastern part of the state. Avalanche warnings were issued in the mountains.
An afternoon notice on the airport website said it would not open until Friday. Cleaning crews could not keep up with the drifting and falling snow, a spokesman said.
More than 1,000 flights were cancelled on Wednesday and Thursday morning.

Continue Article

Huge Eruption May Have Been Bigger

Volcanic News: New Zealand
Dec. 21, 2006 — One of the largest volcanic eruptions on record just got bigger.
The Taupo Volcanic Zone of New Zealand appears to have had twin eruptions only 20 miles apart within days of each other a quarter-million years ago. Each eruption belched out more than 25 cubic miles (100 cubic kilometers) of rock and volcanic ash.
This is the first evidence of twin supervolcanic eruptions.

"It's possible one of these triggered the other," said geologist Darren Gravley of the University of Auckland, New Zealand. But exactly how the triggering might have worked is uncertain.


Earth News: Climate Change

Weather Observations
Dec 16, 2006
Buckets of rain, floods, landslides, tornadoes, hail, lightning - it's like the end of the world has arrived. Scotland has not had a dry day now for more than 40 days. It was the WETTEST NOVEMBER ON RECORD - and this month continued with even more rain. We are only halfway through December and already the west of Scotland has had more than its average rainfall for the entire month. But the whole of 2006 has been a bizarre year for weather. July was the hottest month ever recorded and it was the warmest September. Autumn was also the warmest for that season on record. The whole of this year was the warmest on record - amazing when January to April was actually colder than normal. But the skies have been behaving in stranger ways than usual. In January an EXTREMELY RARE and beautiful "blue flash" was photographed near Glenrothes, Fife. A beam of intense blue light appeared for just a few seconds from the setting sun when extremely warm and cold air bent the rays. The coast of Aberdeenshire was rocked by a mystery huge bang on the sixth, shaking windows. There were no aircraft or blasts and the cause of the noise left experts baffled. In February a mysterious foul gas-like pong spread across Edinburgh and led to some schools, businesses and homes being evacuated. The source of the unearthly stink was unknown. In April spring flowers made their latest appearance for 40 years in some places. In May arctic winds saw some parts experience one of the coldest nights on record. In June a strange dark band appeared across a sunny sky near Glasgow on the sixth. A RARE "lunar standstill" was seen at the prehistoric stones of Callanish on Lewis. This event only happens every 18 years, when the Moon rises and sets at the most extreme stretch across the horizon. In July record-breaking heat brought unusually large numbers of whales and dolphins, including some rare species, off the eastern coast of Scotland. In August on the 23rd an UNUSUAL rainbow was seen in Midlothian, with white streamers seeming to hang from it. In September a fireball was seen shooting over woodlands at 10pm on the 6th outside Fort William. In October leaves refused to change colour and fall off trees in what was the warmest autumn on record. In November UNUSUALLY WARM seas around Scotland brought masses of phytoplankton, which gave other creatures a bonanza feed. Torrential rainfall broke records for the month. In December temperatures have been so warm that grass is still growing, ski slopes are bare and a farm on the Moray Firth is still growing raspberries. A waterspout was seen last week off Shetlands, a RARE event so far north and late in the year.

Climate Change

CHINA - people are already starting to feel the effects of a changing climate. Chinese coastlines experienced some of the WORST TYPHOONS AND FLOODS ON RECORD this summer, while the western provinces suffered severe drought. Between January and September, natural disasters forced the evacuation and relocation of 13.2 million people and killed more than 2,300, causing direct economic losses of US$24 billion. Extreme weather now hampers China’s economic growth by between 3 to 6 percent of GDP, or US$70–130 billion, per year. In the region of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain outside Lijiang, Yunnan province, many locals lament the changes of recent decades. “When I was a little girl I used to wear extremely thick sweaters in winter. My arms and legs could hardly bend in them. Now, at the coldest time of year, I’m just wearing a thin windbreaker, and it’s enough. In the past, Snow Mountain would be completely white year-round, and all of the lakes in the area would freeze over. Now there’s hardly any snow on it, even in the middle of winter, and we can fish in the lakes year-round. It snowed once two years ago but hasn’t snowed since.” These changes have occurred rapidly, and cannot be ignored. “In the last 20 years, we have seen 200-years-worth of changes in climate,” noting that the winter season is several months shorter, the snow cover on Snow Mountain has declined 60 percent, and animals and plants seen as children are now gone or extremely rare. “They say that Yunnan is the land of ‘four seasons of spring,’ but in the last three years we’ve really seen what happens when we lose our seasons. Compared to when I first moved here 20 years ago, it is much warmer all year round now. Especially these past three years, the sun feels hotter and it has hardly rained at all.” Loss of glacial water is one of the most pressing concerns posed by climate change in China, where 23 percent of the population depends on glacial water. It is estimated that China will lose two-thirds of its glaciers by 2050, putting at least 300 million people at risk. Photo: Jade Dragon Snow Mountain’s glacier, which provides the region’s water, has receded some 250 meters in recent years.

Earth News: Week Ending December 15, 2006

Earth News:
Week of Dec 15, 2006
Ebola Victims
An outbreak of the Ebola
virus in the wild has killed
between 3,500 and 5,000
gorillas in one area of the
Republic of the Congo during the past
four years, according to primate
researchers. Writing in the journal
Nature, Peter D. Walsh of the Max
Planck Institute for Evolutionary
Anthropology said there had been a
massive decline in the number of the
animals due to the virus. He believes
the deaths are helping to push the
threatened species even closer to
extinction. Walsh proposes inoculating
some of the surviving western
gorillas with an Ebola vaccine that
has proved to be effective in some
Australian Blazes
More than 3,000 firefighters
in Australia battled to
contain some of the worst
wildfires the country has
seen in 70 years. Fourteen major
blazes were being battled across Victoria,
and at least 14 homes were
destroyed by other fires on the island
state of Tasmania. Worsening
drought conditions have created an
extreme fire danger across many eastern
parts of the country. Fire officials
said they were preparing to bring in
firefighters from the United States to
help with the crisis.

Transportation across northern parts of Pakistan was brought to a standstill by severe weather
Severe weather in northern
Pakistan triggered
landslides, mudflows and
avalanches that blocked
several roads across the region. Boulders
cascading down the mountains
of the North-West Frontier Province
blocked a section of the Karakoram
Highway, which connects Pakistan
and China. Several areas of Pakistancontrolled
Kashmir were isolated due
to slides.
Solar Storm
An explosive burst on the
surface of the sun sent a
stream of charged particles
rushing toward
Earth’s atmosphere. The solar storm
was expected to produce vivid displays
of the aurora borealis, or northern
lights, as far south as parts of
Europe and the northern United
States. Solar experts also warned the
charged particles could threaten radio
communications, satellites and
power grids. Passengers flying in jet
aircraft could also be put at a higher
risk for radiation exposure, forecasters

Tropical Cyclone
Typhoon Utor left a trail of
damage and at least 27
people dead after it roared
across the central Philippines.
Officials say nearly 4,000
homes were destroyed and more than
12,000 others were damaged by the
storm, mainly on the islands of
Samar, Marinduque and Boracay.
Mass evacuations were ordered in
advance of the storm’s arrival to
avoid a repeat of the massive number
of fatalities caused by super Typhoon
Durian a week earlier. Utor later lost
force as it drenched China’s island
province of Hainan.

A magnitude 5.1 quake
damaged college buildings
and sent residents
fleeing their homes when
it rocked northern Thailand’s Chiang
Mai province. No injuries were
reported from the initial shaking or
any of the 23 recorded aftershocks.
• Earth movements were also felt
in Taiwan, Indonesia’s Aceh
province and north Moluccas region,
northern India, southeastern Iran,
central Greece, southern Italy and
southeastern Pennsylvania.

Habitat Conflicts
Four people were attacked
and killed by wild elephants
in northeast India’s
Assam state during the latest
in a series of attacks by the animals.
Wildlife officials said that
about a dozen elephants stormed into
a group of woodcutters, literally tearing
two of the victims apart. The habitat
of wild elephants has come under
increased pressure in recent years as
human development encroaches into
native forests. Assam officials say
pachyderms have killed 248 people
in the past five years, while 268 elephants
have died. Many of the elephant
victims were the target of retaliation
by humans. The aroma of rice
beer being brewed by villagers has
lured the animals into some of the
communities that have come under

Sensors are being strapped to albatrosses to allow the birds to monitor sea surface temperatures during their flights across vast expanses of the North Pacific.
Scientists are enlisting
squadrons of albatrosses
to help monitor the
world’s climate. A team
from the University of California-
Santa Cruz is attaching to the birds
small data loggers that will be able to
measure sea surface temperatures
across the North Pacific in far greater
detail than satellites. “Albatrosses
are particularly good because they
can sample vast areas of ocean in a
relatively short period of time,” said
Scott Shaffer. Some of the attached
instruments will store data until the
birds return to the nesting sites where
they were tagged. Others can transmit
measurements via satellite. Data
gathered by the sensors are expected
to help fill in details missed by satellites,
as well as give details into the
behavior of the long-haul birds.

Earth News: A Journal of the Planet
Week Ending December 15, 2006
Distributed by: UPS
© 2006, Earth Frenzy Rights Reserved

Australian wildfires threaten farms, towns

Breaking Earth News: Wildfires

Dec 19, 2006
In Victoria and Tasmania, the time for looking back and thinking about the fires is still a long way off as the danger is too immediate for that.
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News Story Follows: Associated Press
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Thousands of firefighters rushed to contain more than a dozen wildfires burning across southern Australia on Friday amid fears that high temperatures and gusty winds forecast this weekend could further stoke the blazes, threatening farms and towns.
Officials have warned residents in Victoria state's northeast to stay alert should the fires spread and merge, possibly creating a super blaze covering more than 1.4 million acres.

Photo above released by NASA shows smoke from fires burning in south eastern Australia, Friday, Dec 08, 2006 (AP Photo/NASA Satellite)

Drought increasing road kill

Animal Behavior: Australia
Dec 18, 2006
There has been an upsurge in the number of animals killed wandering central Victoria roads looking for food.
The RSPCA says road kill is spiralling out of control in the drought.
The RSPCA's Greg Boland says some wildlife hit by vehicles stay on the roadside for weeks and other animals are drawn to feed on the carcasses.
He says motorists should slow down at night and use their horn to try to frighten animals off the road.
"There's animals that are wandering further afield than they [normally] would, looking for feed and also water so they're wandering onto the roads," he said.
"They're there more than they normally would be and as a result they're being hit by cars and suffering as a result of that."

Four killed after quakes hit Indonesia's Sumatra

Earth News: Sumatra
Dec 18, 2006
JAKARTA (Reuters) - Three moderate earthquakes struck Indonesia's Sumatra island on Monday, killing four people in one area including a child and triggering landslides, officials said.
The first earthquake struck at 4:10 a.m. (2110 GMT Sunday) with a magnitude of 5.8. Its epicentre was 128 km (80 miles) under the sea southwest of the city of Banda Aceh, an official from Indonesia's meteorology and geophysical agency said.
The second, which had a magnitude of 5.7, came about 30 minutes later on land at a depth of 53 km in an area northwest of the city of Padang, the official said.
A third quake, of 5.5 magnitude, hit at 8:24 a.m. in North Sumatra, the official said.
Eddy Sofyan, a spokesman for the administration in North Sumatra province, said the quake killed four people -- a child, a teenager and two elderly men -- as well as injuring several others and damaging about 20 houses in the town of Muarasipongi.
Another local official told Elshinta radio that 250 houses were destroyed in Muarasipongi, which is 1,100 km (680 mles) northwest of the capital Jakarta.
Fearing further aftershocks, about 1,000 residents fled their homes and sheltered in tents erected in open fields in the town.
Landslides in two separate areas triggered by the quake blocked the district's main roads, hampering attempts to bring in relief supplies and other aid, Sofyan said. Continued...
Tsunami prediction for Sumatra and the Indian Ocean region has become a priority since the devastating tsunamis of December 2004 and March 2005. In the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Jose Borrero of the University of Southern California and colleagues reported on Dec. 4 a new tsunami prediction model based on past behavior of earthquakes and tsunamis in the area. "This is an important study and wakeup call for more action to do something to reduce the risk to coastal populations," says Roland Burgmann, a geologist at the University of California, Berkeley.

Trees can fight global warming

Earth News: Global Warming
LIVERMORE, Calif., Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Planting trees can help fight global warming if they're planted in the right spots, U.S. and French climate experts say.
Tree-planting programs in the tropics work because tropical forests not only absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, but also increase cloudiness, which helps cool the planet, said Govindasamy Bala of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif. Bala worked with scientists from University of Montpellier in France.
The team used computer models to predict what would happen to global temperatures in 2100 if forests were removed in 2000, said Friday. Bala said this study differs from others because the models not only included trees' carbon-storing effects but also considered the trees' release of vapor and their foliage absorbing extra heat.
The climate warming because of leaves absorbing heat offsets the cooling effect from carbon uptake, Bala said. The team found that if they removed forests from the planet in 2000, global temperatures in 2100 were actually 0.2°C cooler than if forests remained.
"The value of our study is that it provides guidance on where the trees should be planted if the main purpose is to slow down global warming," Bala said.

Village basks in reflected glory

Earth Observations
Dec 18, 2006

SUN-deprived people might consider moving to the northern Italian village of Viganella, basking in sunlight as of today thanks to a giant mirror.
"I've waited for this moment for seven years," said Pierfranco Midali, mayor of the sun-challenged hamlet nestled in the Ossola valley.
The village's 185 residents are plunged in chilly darkness during winter months as surrounding mountains cut off direct sunlight.
The answer: A towering 8m by 5m mirror installed on the flank of one bluff and computer-driven to follow the sun's path and cast its rays back on Viganella.
"It wasn't easy, we had to find the proper material, learn abut the technology and especially find the money," Mr Midali said of the nearly €100,000 ($167,000) operation which has spawned envy from Swiss and other Italian mountain villages.

A swell time is forecast for town

Earth News: Hawaii, USA
Dec 17, 2006

Town surfers are in for an early Christmas gift -- a rare winter south swell that could start arriving late today.
The surf should start building sometime tonight or early tomorrow and may reach advisory levels. Wave faces are expected to be in the 5- to 7-foot range with the possibility of occasional 8-foot sets at the height of the swell, said Jonathan Hoag, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.
The waves should peak tomorrow afternoon and slowly decrease through Wednesday. But another smaller swell may come in Thursday into the weekend, Hoag said.
If the swell arrives as expected, it will mark just the fourth time since 1980 for winter surf on south shores. Similar south swells also have happened in 1993 and 2004.
"It's unusual in December, it's more usual for our early south swells to appear around March or February instead of right in the middle of winter," Hoag said
And mother nature is not leaving out the north and east shores. A northwest swell could come in Tuesday night and strong tradewinds are bringing a wind swell to east shores, prompting a high-surf advisory.

Warming's ‘tipping points'

Earth News: Global Warming
Al Gore's book and movie "An Inconvenient Truth” present the data identifying carbon dioxide (CO2) and other products of combustion as primary culprits causing global warming. The data are embraced by the vast majority of scientists, who also agree that humanity must modify our patterns of consumption if we would avert a grim future.
The data foretell environmental catastrophes if trends are not reversed — drastic climate changes, wild storms, agricultural uncertainties, rising oceans. This challenge is equivalent to the approach of an asteroid whose impact would change earth's climate forever. The threat is not from a nation, terrorists, or diseases, but what we are doing, inadvertently, to earth's atmosphere.

SARASOTA, FL (AHN) - Forty percent of the world gets it drinking water from melting glaciers. At the rate global warming is advancing, in 40 years, they will be without water, said former Vice President Al Gore.

UN 'International Year of Deserts' ends with stark warnings

Breaking Earth News Alert

The UN International Year of Deserts and Desertification ended on Sunday with stark warnings from experts about the expansion of uninhabitable zones and an increase in climate-driven migration.
Desertification -- the expansion of desert areas, caused by growing populations and climate changes -- is one of the most important global issues, UN Under Secretary-General Hans Van Ginkel said at the start of a three-day conference in the Algerian capital.
"It has become more and more evident that desertification is one of the most important global challenges, destabilising societies the world over," said Van Ginkel, who is also rector of the United Nations University (UNU), a partner in the event involving around 200 experts from 25 countries.
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, host of the conference, said that desertification "affects a third of the surface of our planet, more than the surface of China, Canada and Brazil combined," and is a threat to world peace.
Bouteflika called in a speech opening the event for a concerted, global effort, saying it was "more urgent that ever" to put into practice measures agreed at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro to tackle desertification and preserve non-renewable resources.
Around 2 billion people live in areas threatened by desertification.

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