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Africa ‘faces catastrophe’ unless West acts on climate change


Africa: October 29, 2006
Africa will go “up in smoke” unless the international community acts to curb climate change. A coalition of the UK’s leading development and environment agencies argue that global warming is already having a serious impact on Africa and will get much worse unless urgent action is taken now.
The group has released a report in the run-up to the next major United Nations conference on climate change, in Nairobi, Kenya, and the publication of the Treasury’s Stern Review on the economics of the problem.
Entitled Africa – Up In Smoke 2, the report is based on the latest available scientific research and evidence from those living on the front line of global warming.
Africa is already on average 0.5˚C warmer than it was 100 years ago, which is putting more strain on water resources. According to the UK’s Hadley Centre for Climate Change, future temperature increases over many areas of Africa will see double the global average increase, and drought patterns stand to worsen catastrophically.
The coalition calls for rich countries to make good their promises to reduce greenhouse gases made at Kyoto and go beyond them. It also calls for an overhaul of humanitarian relief and development; for donors to fund urgent measures to help communities adapt to a new and more erratic climate; and for both foreign donors and African governments to tackle poverty and invest in agricultural development.
Africa is the continent probably most vulnerable to climate change and the one that faces the greatest challenges to adapt to those changes. For millions of people in the Horn of Africa and the east of the continent, the success or failure of rains due over the next two months will be critical. The rains – or lack of them – will determine if 2007 will offer the prospect of recovery from the serious drought of 2005-06 or if it will be another year of desperately struggling to survive.
Climate change vulnerability in Africa
Multiple stresses make most of Africa highly vulnerable to environmental changes, and climate change is likely to increase this vulnerability. This graphic shows which of the regions of Africa (North Africa, West Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa and the Western Indian Ocean Islands) are most vulnerable to specific impacts of climate change. These impacts include desertification, sea level rise, reduced freshwater availability, cyclones, coastal erosion, deforestation, loss of forest quality, woodland degradation, coral bleaching, the spread of malaria and impacts on food security.
Click here, or on the graphic below, for full resolution

UK climate report to put heat on Australia

Economical Analysis of Global Warming

October 30, 2006
BRITAIN will pressure Australia to join a carbon trading market after a new report warned global warming will cost more than either world wars or the Great Depression.
Leaked portions of the report from former World Bank chief economist Sir Nicholas Stern warn that global warming could cost trillions of dollars to address.
UK treasurer, Gordon Brown, who commissioned the report, will accept the report's primary recommendation, which calls for the establishment of a global market to trade carbon emissions.
As a result, Mr Brown will propose expanding the EU's carbon trading market to include California, Australia, Japan and elsewhere as the basis for such a global regime, The Times has reported.

Reports predict global warming deluge

Global Warming/Climate Change
October 28, 2006
This is a transcript from AM. The program is broadcast around Australia on ABC Local Radio.
ELIZABETH JACKSON: The Netherlands, Bangladesh and several Pacific Islands could be underwater within 50 years, if a groundbreaking British report on global warming is accurate.Commissioned by the Blair Government, the former World Bank economist, Sir Nicholas Stern, has concluded urgent action must be taken to stem the effects of climate change.The report is due to be released next week.

Read the Entire Transcript Here

You can also listen to the story in REAL AUDIO and WINDOWS MEDIA and MP3 formats.

Climate Change May Trigger Global Recession

Earth News: Climate Change
London (AFP) Oct 26, 2006

Climate Change may have an adverse impact on the global economy in the long run and lead to the worst global recession in recent history, a report to be released next week will warn, The Guardian reported on Thursday. Citing comments made by David King, the British government's chief scientific adviser, the newspaper reported that the report by Nicholas Stern, a former World Bank chief economist, will argue that fighting global warming will save industrialised nations money.
"All of (Stern's) detailed modelling out to the year 2100 is going to indicate first of all that if we don't take global action we are going to see a massive downturn in global economies," King was quoted as saying.
"If no action is taken we will be faced with the kind of downturn that has not been seen since the great depression and the two world wars."

Full Moon could have triggered December 26 Tsunami

Earth News: Indian Ocean Tsunami
October 27, 2006

LONDON: Everybody knows that the December 26 Indian Ocean tsunami was triggered by a massive undersea earthquake measuring 9.3 on the Richter, but what triggered the earthquake?Well, according to a new study, a full moon might have been the reason.Robin Crockett from the University of Northampton, UK, and his colleagues monitored tremors and collected tidal data along the Java/Sumatra trench, between October 2004 and August 2005.They found that major quakes were 86 per cent more likely around new and full moons, when tides are at their greatest.“At new and full moons the biggest mass of water is being loaded and unloaded at the plate boundary. That might be the final push that initiates a quake,” New Scientist quoted Crockett as saying.The study carries significance as Prof. Sebastian Hainzl from the University of Potsdam, Germany, and his colleagues recently found in another study that rain can also trigger quakes.They found that a rise in water pressure within porous rocks as rainwater soaks into the ground could start quakes on hair trigger faults.The water could ease the friction, releasing pent-up tension so that the rocks jerk past each other and initiate tremors as deep as four kilometres underground.

WWF Warns Of Dire Impact From Global Over-Consumption

Earth News
Oct 24, 2006
The world's population will be using twice as many resources as the planet can produce within 50 years unless there is immediate change in the way humanity lives, the environmental group WWF said in a report released on Tuesday. "We are in serious ecological overshoot, consuming resources faster than the earth can replace them," said WWF Director General James Leape. "The consequences of this are predictable and dire.
"The cities, power plants and homes we build today will either lock society into damaging over-consumption beyond our lifetimes, or begin to propel this and future generations towards sustainable living," he added.
The "Living Planet" report, a balance sheet of the world's environment published every other year, showed relentless growth in demand on the earth's capacity to produce clean air, and to provide raw materials, food and energy.
Two years ago, the same report based on 2001 data said the world's population was already outstripping the earth's capacity to regenerate resources by just over 20 percent.
The 2006 edition of the WWF report said that figure had risen to 25 percent in 2003.

Russia Tests Bird Flu Vaccine

Bird Flu Update: Russia
At present 360 million flu vaccines are produced annually. What makes the situation grave is that the whole of mankind, or over six billion people, would have to be vaccinated under the worst scenario.
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Oct 25, 2006
Clinical tests of a bird flu vaccine, developed by the Russian Health Ministry's state-owned Science and Production Association Mikrogen in conjunction with the Academy of Medical Sciences, have been conducted in the last three months. The tests involved 240 healthy volunteers, separated into two groups numbering 120 men and women each. All of them received insurance policies and benefits in line with international standards.
Mikrogen general director Dr. Anton Katlinsky said the tests had produced encouraging results. "We used the World Health Organization's recommendations in our work, as well as our own unique methods and patented technologies," Professor Katlinsky said.
Dr. Vitaly Zverev, director of the Mechnikov Vaccine and Serum Research Institute, said a study of post-vaccination side effects showed the preparation was well tolerated, safe, and did not produce any serious negative effects.

A Planet In Peril

Skywatch Announcement
Oct 23, 2006
The latest edition of the Skywatch Newsletter, A Planet In Peril, has been emailed to subscribers and is available to viewers.

You may review our newsletters in the archives section

To subscribe to our newsletter go here

In this week's issue: A new study proves it was global warming that sent an Antarctic ice shelf larger than Luxembourg crashing into the ocean. Geoffrey Lean reports

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


Indian Health Crisis
Indian health authorities
stepped up their efforts to
curb an outbreak of
mosquito-borne dengue
and chikungunya, which have
infected more than 6,000 people and
claimed 92 lives. Several thousand
officials went door-to-door, spraying
insecticides in an effort to halt the
breeding of mosquitoes. Dengue has
been responsible for all of the fatalities
while all those infected with
chikungunya have recovered. With
more than 1,350 cases of dengue,
New Delhi and its neighboring states
have been the worst hit by the viral
infection, which is transmitted to
humans through bites of the female
Aedes mosquito.

Almost all of the Hawaiian
Islands were blacked
out by a magnitude 6.7
temblor that caused at
least $73 million in damage. There
were no deaths or serious injuries
from the initial quake, or from any of
the moderate aftershocks.
• Earth movements were also felt
in south-central Alaska, Washington
state, northwest California, southern
Missouri, northern North Carolina,
northern Ecuador, central Greece,
central Java, metropolitan Tokyo and
New Britain Island.

Icelandic Whaling
The decision by Iceland
to resume whaling operations
after a 16-year
break was slammed by
whale-friendly countries like New
Zealand and Australia. But other
whaling nations, led by Norway and
Japan, hailed the country’s decision.
The Icelandic government
announced that it would allow its
ships to harpoon 30 minke whales and
nine fin whales, primarily for what it
describes as “export purposes.” Both
of those marine mammals are on the
endangered species list drawn up by
the Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species of Wild
Fauna and Flora. Norwegian whalers
this summer caught only about half
the number of their targeted 1,052
minke whales. They blamed high
fuel prices, not low demand for whale
meat, as the cause of the shortfall.

El Salvadoran officials put
the area around the Chaparrastique
volcano on
alert after the mountain’s
peak began rumbling ominously.The
approximately 45,000 people living
within 1.5 square miles of the crater
were warned to be prepared for possible
• Indian geologists announced
that the volcano on Barren Island in
the Andaman archipelago appears to
be ending its latest eruptive phase.
The mountain has been spewing
smoke and molten rock since it roared
back to life shortly after the devastating
December 2004 Sumatra
quake and resulting tsunami.

A Snowless Africa
A leading environmental
group in East Africa
warned that the continent’s
two highest mountains
will lose their glacial caps
within the next 25 to 50 years.
Fredrick Njau of the Kenyan Green
Belt Movement says the ice will disappear
from Mount Kilimanjaro,
Africa’s highest mountain, and
Mount Kenya, the second highest, if
industrial pollution and deforestation
are not halted. Kilimanjaro has
already lost 82 percent of its ice cover
during the past 80 years, while Mount
Kenya has lost 92 percent over the
past 100 years. The Green Belt Movement,
in cooperation with the French
Agency for Development, plans to
plant 2 million trees around Mount
Kenya and the Kenyan range of
mountains known as the Aberdares to
offset earlier deforestation.

Bird Flu Fatality
Indonesia announced the
country’s 55th human
death due to avian
influenza. The virus has
spread rapidly across Asia and parts
of Europe during the past three years.
The death of a 27-year-old woman in
Central Java came shortly after the
head of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture
Organization expressed
“relief” over the successful global
containment of bird flu in recent
months. But Jacques Diouf warned
that several countries still remain vulnerable
to further outbreaks. He noted
that the disease remains a potent
threat in Indonesia, Africa, Eastern
Europe and the Caucasus.

Prehistoric Mouse
A new species of mouse
found on the Mediterranean
island of Cyprus
is being called a “living
fossil” by scientists who used DNA
testing to determine its uniqueness.
The mouse is the first new European
terrestrial mammal species to be discovered
in decades, and has a big
head, ears, eyes and teeth. The Mus
cypriacus, or Cypriot mouse, is identical
in structure to mouse fossils
found on Cyprus that predate the
arrival of humans by several thousand
years. The discovery indicates
the mouse survived man’s arrival on
the island and now lives alongside
common European house mice,
whose ancestors went to Cyprus during
the Neolithic period, according to
researchers at Durham University.

Distributed by: UPS
Earth News: A journal of the Planet
© 2006, Earth Frenzy

The 100-Year Forecast: More Extreme Weather

Earth Science: Climate Change
October, 2006
The recent spate of heat waves and heavy rain and snow storms afflicting certain parts of the globe could become more widespread by the end of the century, scientists say.

An international team of researchers formed their conclusion after running computer simulations predicting what future weather patterns around the globe will look like if levels of greenhouse gases continue to rise as expected.

The simulations were run three times, with greenhouse gases set at either low, medium or high. All three scenarios predicted increases in extreme weather but differed regarding their frequency.

Rabbits blamed for penguin deaths in landslide

Earth News: Macquarie Island
The landslip hit a penguin rookery at Lusitania Bay on Macquarie Island. (file photo) (ABC)
Oct 21, 2006
Erosion and heavy spring rains have caused a large landslip on Macquarie Island, in the Southern Ocean about 1500 kilometres south-east of Tasmania, killing penguins in an important colony.
The fragile sub-Antarctic world heritage area has been overrun with more than 100,000 rabbits in recent years, which are stripping the island bare of its plants.
Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service general manager Peter Mooney says the landslip happened late last month at Lusitania Bay, on the eastern side of the island, about 25 kilometres from Australia's research base.
He says about 500 square metres of soil gave way due to the combination of heavy spring rains and severe erosion caused by the rabbits.

Expect A Warmer, Wetter World This Century

Climate Change
October 20, 2006
Recent episodes of deadly heat in the United States and Europe, long dry spells across the U.S. West, and heavy bursts of rain and snow across much of North America and Eurasia hint at longer-term changes to come, according to a new study based on several of the world's most advanced climate models. Much of the world will face an enhanced risk of heat waves, intense precipitation, and other weather extremes, conclude scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Texas Tech University, and Australia's Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre.
The new study, "Going to the Extremes," will appear in the December issue of the journal Climatic Change.
Many previous studies have looked at how average temperature or rainfall might change in the next century as greenhouse gases increase. However, the new research looks more specifically at how weather extremes could change.
"It's the extremes, not the averages, that cause the most damage to society and to many ecosystems," says NCAR scientist Claudia Tebaldi, lead author for the report. "We now have the first model-based consensus on how the risk of dangerous heat waves, intense rains, and other kinds of extreme weather will change in the next century." (photo above: A thunderstorm cloud passes over the plains east of Denver. (Copyright UCAR,)

Greenland Ice Sheet On A Downward Slide

Greenbelt MD (SPX) Oct 20, 2006
Greenland's massive ice sheet has lost nearly 100 gigatons of ice annually recently, much of it in low-elevation regions along the continent's southeastern coast, including the southern tip (pictured here). Credit: NASA MODIS Land Rapid Response Team.
For the first time NASA scientists have analyzed data from direct, detailed satellite measurements to show that ice losses now far surpass ice gains in the shrinking Greenland ice sheet.
Using a novel technique that reveals regional changes in the weight of the massive ice sheet across the entire continent, scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., report that Greenland's low coastal regions lost 155 gigatons (41 cubic miles) of ice per year between 2003 and 2005 from excess melting and icebergs, while the high-elevation interior gained 54 gigatons (14 cubic miles) annually from excess snowfall. The study appears in Science Express, the advance edition of Science, on Oct. 19.
"With this new analysis we observe dramatic ice mass losses concentrated in the low-elevation coastal regions, with nearly half of the loss coming from southeast Greenland," said lead author Scott Luthcke of NASA Goddard's Planetary Geodynamics Laboratory. "In the 1990's the ice was very close to balance with gains at about the same level as losses. That situation has now changed significantly, with an annual net loss of ice equal to nearly six years of average water flow from the Colorado River."

Skywatch Newsletter: Tidal Waves In Europe?

Skywatch Announcement: Newsletter Update
Oct 16, 2006
The last known tsunami to hit Europe was over 8,000 years ago. But new research reveals that there have been a number of deep-sea earthquakes since then, and that a landslide along the continental slopes could pose a serious risk to the cities and towns on the North Sea coast.

The latest version of the Skywatch Newsletter, Tidal Waves In Europe, has been emailed to subscribers.

This article and many others are available for viewing in the archives.

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

Get ready for holidays in hell as Earth warms

Climate Change
Oct 2006
Heatwaves will increase, causing unbearably hot and humid nights
Gloomy predictions of extreme heat and the destruction of some of the world's top holiday destinations were made this week in a report assessing the impact of the dangers of mass tourism and climate change. The Future of World Travel report found that, by 2020, the natural features of some of the wonders of the world will be damaged by global warming, while other resorts will become overcrowded.It has predicted that in a little more than a decade, global warming will erode Goa's beaches and lead to more hurricanes sweeping across the Everglades, while the increase in tourism will send an army of skiers into the kingdom of Nepal.

Shrinking Ponds Signal Warmer, Dryer Alaska

Fairbanks AL (SPX) Oct 13, 2006
A first-of-its kind analysis of fifty years of remotely sensed imagery from the 1950s to 2002 shows a dramatic reduction in the size and number of more than 10,000 ponds in Alaska. The analysis, by University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists and published this week in the Journal of Geophysical Research, indicates that these landscape-level changes in arctic ponds are associated with recent climate warming in Alaska and may have profound effects on climate and wildlife.

National Wildlife Refuges cover more than 77 million acres in Alaska and make up 81% of the national refuge system. These refuges provide breeding habitat for millions of waterfowl and shorebirds that overwinter in more southerly regions of North America.

Earth's Wobble Wipes Out Species

An Unstable Home
Oct. 12, 2006 — Climate change, naturally induced by tiny shifts in Earth's rotational axis and orbit, periodically wipes out species of mammals, a study published on Thursday says.
Paleontologists have long puzzled over fossil records that, remarkably, suggest mammal species tend to last around two and a half million years before becoming extinct.
Climate experts and biologists led by Jan van Dam at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, overlaid a picture of species emergence and extinction with changes that occur in Earth's orbit and axis.

Rapid Rise In The Arctic Ocean May Alter Views Of Human Migration

Climate Change
Woods Hole MA (SPX) Oct 12, 2006
Scientists have found new evidence that the Bering Strait near Alaska flooded into the Arctic Ocean about 11,000 years ago, about 1,000 years earlier than widely believed, closing off the land bridge thought to be the major route for human migration from Asia to the Americas.
Knowledge of climate change and sea level rise in the Arctic Ocean has been limited because sediment cores collected from the floor of the Arctic Ocean have been taken from locations where sediment has accumulated only about one centimeter (less than one-half inch) every 1,000 years. Such slow rates make it impossible for scientists to distinguish between one millennium and the next.
In a paper in the October issue of Geology magazine, lead author Lloyd Keigwin of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and colleagues from WHOI, Neal Driscoll from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and Julie Brigham-Grette of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst report results from three new core sites north and west of Alaska in the Chukchi Sea. At these locations, accumulation of sediment is more than 100 times greater than at previous sites, allowing identification of climate changes that were previously unseen. During the expeditions, the researchers extracted the longest piston core ever obtained from the Arctic region. (photo above: Preparing a gravity core for deployment. (Photo by Mary Carman, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.)

Giant Comet heading towards Earth

Skywatch Announcement
Oct 9, 2006
The latest edition of the Skywatch Newsletter, 'Giant Comet heading towards Earth'
has been emailed to subscribers and is available to viewers.

You may review our newsletters in the archives section
To subscribe to our newsletter go here

In this week's issue
According to the Russian astronomer Nikolai Fedorovsky, a giant comet flying at top speed is bound for Earth. Should the comet stay on the collision course, it may hit the planet in late October. The impact will cause devastating tsunamis, earthquakes and avalanches, says Fedorovsky. He saw the killer comet in a telescope two weeks ago. He managed to calculate the comet’s trajectory. We got in touch with Nikolai Fedorovsky.

West Java Goes Own Way On Avian Flu Management

London, UK (UPI) Oct 06, 2006
West Java, the Indonesian province worst-hit by avian influenza, has opted out of a government-backed special commission on public bird-flu education, saying it will instead focus its efforts on improving its existing bird-flu-prevention team. Yudi Prayudha, head of West Java's provincial health office, said the decision was taken as a means of improving the existing fight against avian influenza in the worst-hit province of the world's worst-hit country, the Jakarta Post reported.
"What is the use of a decree on the establishment of a special commission? What we need is to intensify our work in the field," Yudi said.
While officials from the ministries of health, agriculture and education, with support from provincial representatives, are currently meeting to outline the objectives and methodologies of the national commission, Yudi said that he was not interested in the meetings' outcomes, and that the more important task was to educate the public -- particularly schoolchildren -- about avian influenza and its dangers through aggressive campaigning.
Indonesia's doctors and nurses were failing to take the growing problem seriously, Yudi said.
"Just look at (bird flu victim IJ), who died at a private hospital without getting the necessary medication after being treated for four hours there," the Jakarta Post quoted Yudi as saying. IJ's brother died of avian influenza five days later, in hospital.
A key problem, Yudi told the Jakarta Post, was that the West Java local authorities had yet to allocate specific funds to treating local avian influenza infections (photo above: File photo: An Indonesian woman cleans chickens in a Jakarta market. Photo courtesy of AFP.)

Global warming challenge to French winegrowers

Climate Change
PARIS, Oct 6 (AFP) Oct 06, 2006
After New World producers Australia and Chile, French winegrowers could soon face new competition from Britain, as global warming helps grapes take root in milder cross-Channel climes, scientists say.
Commonly found on the British Isles from the Roman occupation until the 13th century, vineyards all but disappeared during the so-called Little Ice Age, a cooler period that lasted from the mid-14th to mid-19th centuries.
Now the climate clock seems set to reverse.
According to the French observatory on climate change, ONERC, even a minor increase in average global temperatures would cause "zones suited to the culture of grapes to move significantly further north."
A rise of one-degree Celsius by 2035 -- as predicted by one United Nations model -- would see winegrowing regions shift, on average, 180 kilometres (110 miles) northwards.
Even small changes, experts say, could have a serious impact on grape growing regions in which delicate grape varietals thrive within a narrow range of temperatures and climatic conditions.

Wanganui bubbles beneath

Volcanic News: New Zealand
2/10/2006 10:00:02
Scientists are predicting Wanganui will eventually become a volcano.
Dr Hamish Campbell of the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences says there is already a huge amount of seismic activity beneath the city. He says a line can be drawn straight from the volcanoes of the Kermadec arc, through White Island, Ruapehu and Wanganui.
However there is no need to flee Wanganui in terror just yet. Mr Campbell says the volcano is not expected to emerge for thousands of years.
Listen Live: Newstalk New Zealand

More News New Zealand
Natural disaster due
New Zealand is a country coming apart at the seams. Or, more accurately, subducting at the seams of two continental plates, making it periodically shake, crumble, explode and prone to tsunamis.
As part of Te Papa's Earth Rocks event on Labour Weekend the museum has organised a panel of experts to answer the public's questions about how best to survive the earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes or landslides that come with our geology.
Panel leader Dr Hamish Campbell of GNS Science said New Zealand was one of the most geologically active places on earth. Our farms, homes and forests are perched on an unusually thin skin of the earth's crust at the boundary of two tectonic plates.

Threat of 'superflu' rampage as mutant viruses resist drugs

Breaking Viral News: Britain
(Filed: 02/10/2006)
The drive to fight deadly flu pandemics with special antiviral drugs risks creating an untreatable "superflu", the head of -Britain's public health watchdog has warned.
Sir William Stewart, the chairman of the Health Protection Agency, warned that the widespread use of antiviral drugs to treat illnesses, including bird flu and seasonal influenza, is causing- viruses to mutate into drug-resistant- forms.
He claimed that drug-resistant viruses now represented as big a threat to public health as antibiotic-resistant superbug bacteria, such as MRSA. His comments come as bird experts were once again placed on alert for cases of avian flu returning to Britain with migrating birds.
The autumn migration of waterfowl triggered the spread of the deadly H5N1 virus into western Europe and Britain for the first time last year, as the disease spread rapidly in wild birds trying to escape the cold weather. A dead swan discovered in Fife, Scotland, in April this year, was the only bird flu case to be found in a wild bird in Britain.

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