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Earth News: Week Ending November 17, 2006

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Carbon Dioxide Surge
The rate at which carbon
dioxide is entering the
atmosphere through the
burning of fossil fuels is
currently increasing four times faster
than it was in the 1990s, according to
a report released at an environmental
conference in Beijing. Despite efforts
to reduce carbon greenhouse gas
emissions, the global growth rate in
carbon dioxide between 2000 and
2005 was 3.2 percent, compared to
0.8 percent between 1990 and 1999,
reported Mike Raupach, chairman of
the Earth System Science Partnership’s
Global Carbon Project. “That
is a very worrying sign,” said the Australian
scientist. “It indicates that
recent efforts to reduce emissions
have had virtually no impact on emissions
growth, and that effective caps
are urgently needed.”

Ice on the Horizon
One of the more than 100
icebergs spotted in the
waters south of New
Zealand during the previous
week was seen approaching the
Otago Peninsula on the country’s
South Island. The Maritime Safety
Authority issued a warning to shipping
after the chunk of Antarctic ice
650 feet long and 165 feet high was
reported only 43 nautical miles offshore,
heading toward the coast. This
is the closest any iceberg has been to
New Zealand for at least the past 75

Tropical Cyclones
Typhoon Chebi left one
person dead and washed
out several roads as it
passed over the northern
Philippines. The storm later dissipated
over the South China Sea.
• Tropical Storm Rosa and Hurricane
Sergio churned the open waters
of the Pacific off Mexico.

New Island Emerges
Crew members of a yacht
sailing westward from the
South Pacific island nation
of Tonga toward Fiji say
they witnessed the birth of a new
island, which appears to have
emerged from the Pacific during a
volcanic eruption. Those onboard the
Maiken initially were puzzled by the
vast blanket of pumice that they
sailed through for several miles. But
they later came across an uncharted
steaming island in Tonga’s Vava’u
group, which was apparently created
by an undersea volcano. The crew
described the new island as being 1
mile in diameter with four peaks and
a central crater. Tongan government
geologist Kelepi Mafi said he plans
to visit the new chunk of rock if his
country can afford to dispatch a military

Kenyan Flood Disaster
The Kenyan government
made an urgent international
appeal for aid to
help the hundreds of thousands
of people hit by devastating and
deadly floods. The inundations were
triggered by days of unusually heavy
seasonal rains that swept northern
and eastern parts of the country,
killing at least 23 people. Roads,
bridges and crops were swept away
along the coast to the north and south
of Mombassa, where military helicopters
ferried relief supplies to tens
of thousands of displaced people.

South African Swarms
Farmers in South
Africa’s Northern Cape
Province continued to
battle large swarms of
wingless locusts, which first invaded
their fields in mid-October. The
chairwoman of the Britstown farmers
association, Nicola van der Merwe,
said that one of the swarms was about
a half-mile long and 650 feet wide.
Intensive daily spraying operations
were being conducted to combat the
hoppers. The ravenous insects were
mostly in a young, wingless phase,
during which they can inflict significant
destruction to crops and pastures,
according to van der Merwe.

A small tsunami hit a wide
area of Japan’s Pacific
coast on the main island of
Honshu as well as coastal
areas of Hokkaido following a magnitude
8.1 temblor centered just east
of the Kuril Islands. But a tsunami 5
to 6 feet in height traveled across the
entire North Pacific, wrecking docks
and sinking a boat when it surged
onto the northwest California coast.
• Earth movements were also felt
in Taiwan, the central Philippines, the
India-Myanmar border region, northeastern
and southwestern Iran and
northern Argentina.

‘Elkoholic’ Bully
A drunken elk in western
Sweden has been terrifying
children at a school
where the animal gets
high on a daily dose of fermented
apples. The Dagen Nyheter newspaper
reports the animal has become
addicted to the alcohol it gets from
the rotting fruit of a tree on the school
grounds. Once the elk becomes sufficiently
buzzed, the newspaper says
it lies down for a snooze in a defensive
position in front of the tree, waking
up and charging anyone who
comes near. Authorities at the
Eklanda school, in the Gothenburg
suburb of Moelndal, called in police,
but authorities have so far failed to
drive away the intemperate animal.

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