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Water Walks: A Global Catastrophe

BBC World Service journeys around the world to the sharp end of water provision; from Asia to Africa to the Americas.

Find out about people's struggle to get sufficient water for themselves, their cattle and their crops. Join them on their life-preserving trips to the nearerst water source - a well, river or standpipe within minutes, hours or days of their homes.

Listen to the radio series:
Water Walks was broadcast during April and May 2003 on the BBC World Service

Water Walks parts 1 and 2

Distributed by Skywatch-Media News

Bee Deaths Could Sting Food Producers

Honeybee Colonies Dying Across Missouri, United States

Researchers are baffled as to why honeybees in Missouri and across the country are dying in large numbers.Since last fall, Glenn Davis, who owns Bell Hill Honey in Bates City, has lost 550 of his 650 hives to the problem called colony collapse disorder."For me, it's catastrophic," Davis told KMBC's Maria Antonia. "It's the worst I've ever had. And I'm not the only one --- it's that way all over the country."
Davis said the loss of bees will mean a shortage of honey. The bee loss also causes problems for other food producers."The bees pollinate one-third of everything we eat," Davis said.Some of the produce that honeybees pollinate are apples, tomatoes, almonds and alfalfa seeds, which are used to feed cattle.

Crop Prices Soar, Pushing Up Cost Of Food Globally

Photo: Farmers carry eggplants to a market in Singimari, about 35 kilometers (22 miles) west of Gauhati, India, Saturday, April 7, 2007. Singimari is famous for eggplants and fresh vegetables. A farmer earns rupees 1000-1200 (USD $22-27) a day. (Anupam Nath/The Associated Press)

April, 2007
The heat wave experienced across the world last summer battered harvests, driving up the price of sugar, wheat, fruit and orange juice, while freak rain storms in Vietnam were blamed for coffee prices hitting a seven-year high. North America's love affair with ethanol - produced mainly from corn - has unleashed a surprising surge of inflation through the global food supply chain. The US Department of Agriculture has warned that record high corn prices, caused in part by the crop's diversion into ethanol production, is likely to produce a sudden drop in meat supply, with a resulting upward pressure on prices.

In mosquito, a small tale of climate change

Maine, USA
April 29, 2007
A mosquito that can barely fly is emerging as one of climate change's early winners. The insect, which lives in the carnivorous purple pitcher plant, is genetically adapting to a warming world. By entering hibernation more than a week later than it did 30 years ago, the Wyeomyia smithii mosquito is evolving to keep pace with the later arrival of New England winters. Along with Canadian red squirrels and European blackcap birds, the mosquito - a non biting variety found from Florida to Canada - is one of only five known species that scientists say have already evolved because of global warming. The species best suited to adapting may not be the ones people want to survive. Scientists say species with short life cycles - Wyeomyia smithii lives about eight weeks - can evolve quickly and keep up with changing environmental conditions as a result. Rodents, insects, and birds, some carrying diseases deadly to humans, are genetically programmed to win. Polar bears and whales, which take years to reproduce, are not. Species that take longer than two years to reproduce will not be able to keep up with the current pace of climate change. Some of the laggards will probably become extinct, while others will migrate to new places. Some long-lived species may be able to adjust without genetic changes; humans, for example, can move from flood-prone areas as sea levels rise. Some short-lived species may die because their environment changes too greatly for them to survive. "Rapid climate change is actually now driving the evolution of animals - that is a dramatic event." Until now, the effects of climate warming had been most noticeable in the Arctic, as glaciers melt. But dramatic changes are also being seen in northern temperate zones such as New England, where the average winter temperature has risen 4.4 degrees Fahrenheit over the last 30 years. Growing seasons have lengthened, winter is arriving later, and the weather has become more erratic. "The world is going to be a very different-looking place. We are going to have very different sets of organisms living together."

Scientists take second look at Mount Baker

April 29, 2007
More than 30 years ago, eruptions of steam and ash from Mount Baker prompted the evacuation of the Baker Lake area and sent jitters through Whatcom County. Before scientists could understand what was going on inside Baker, its sister to the south — Mount St. Helens — roared to life, stealing the show and their attention. Now geologists at Western Washington University are leading the effort to find out what's been percolating beneath the volcano's surface since its headline-grabbing antics in 1975. Baker is one of 27 major volcanoes in the Cascade Range, which stretches from British Columbia down to Northern California. "Among the Cascade volcanoes, I would say it's one of the more active That doesn't mean an eruption is imminent. But it means it's interesting. Something is happening there." These days, Baker trembles just once or twice a month with small earthquakes. By comparison, seismometers record up to 10 times that number each month at Rainier and thousands of small earthquakes at St. Helens.

Is Earth near its 'tipping points' from global warming?

Skywatch-Media Newsletter

April 29, 2007
Earth is spinning toward many points of no return from the damage of global warming, after which disease, desolation and famine are inevitable, say scientists involved in an international report due Friday on the effects of climate change.

To Read More Visit the Newsletter Archives

The Great Red Comet
Issue 66, Volume 7
©2007, Skywatch-Media. All Rights Reserved

Algal blooms in Southern Lakes kill fish

New Zealand
Photo: DEADLY HABITAT: Lake Hayes, one of New Zealand's most photographed lakes in the Southern Lakes region, has a dense cloud of algal bloom which is killing fish.

April, 2007
The water in some of New Zealand's most photographed lakes in the picturesque Southern Lakes region is so toxic it is killing fish. Algal blooms are blighting several southern lakes, forcing scientists to admit fish in the worst affected lake have "nowhere to go to stay healthy". The bloom is creating a dense brown cloud in Lake Hayes, near Queenstown, and has also been detected in Lake Hawea, near Wanaka, and tiny Lake Johnson, near Lake Wakatipu. The problem follows the discovery of invasive and unsightly didymo in Lake Wakatipu late last year. "It's been three months of these harsh conditions and they are succumbing to it. We are likely to see more fish deaths than we've seen already."

Weather Effects Lakes And Ponds

Georgia, USA

April, 2007
Weather has had a big effect on the wildfires in south Georgia, but it's also having an effect on lakes and ponds. On Wednesday, fishermen noticed lifeless large-mouth bass and gizzard shad. The DNR came to test the waters earlier in the week to find out what was going on with all the fish and why they were dying. What they found was that cooler temperatures could be to blame. "We'll have a storm like the one that just came through here and those cooler temperatures can kill out the phytoplankton and that decomposing material can take oxygen out of the water. Which is what we think happened." The weather did not kill out the entire population of fish in the pond, so they expect the pond to make a full recovery.

Caspian Sea: Seal Deaths Highlight Species' Predicament

April, 2007
Hundreds of dead seals washed up on Kazakhstan's Caspian Sea coast in the first two weeks of April. The cause is still a mystery, but it is a blow to the already dwindling Caspian seal. The Caspian seal is the Caspian's lone mammal species, and can be found nowhere else in the world. Officials in Kazakhstan now say 363 dead seals have been found on the Caspian Sea coast of the Mangystau region. The number of reported dead seals in the area has been growing daily since the first carcasses were found - most of them pups. Pollutants accumulate in seals, weakening their immune systems and causing infertility. Such pollutants originate in heavy industry and enter the Caspian Sea via rivers. Kazakhstan's Environment Ministry says preliminary data suggests that abnormally warm temperatures prevented the formation of ice sheets in the northeastern Caspian. Ice floes allow newborns time to gain strength before they must take to the water. Massive deaths occur on an almost annual basis in the Caspian region. A year ago, hundreds of dead sturgeon and seals washed ashore near the Kalamkas oil field.

April sets European heat records, more to come

LONDON, April 27 (Reuters) - This month is set to be the warmest April in Britain since records began nearly 350 years ago and all over Europe tourists are slapping on the sun cream several weeks ahead of schedule.
Britain's Met Office said the average temperature in central England from April 1-25 was 11.1 degrees Celsius, 3.4 degrees above the norm and the highest since records began in 1659.
Temperatures from Belgium to Italy are averaging more than three degrees above the 30-year norm.
The office added there was a big chance of a repeat of the European heatwave of 2003 which killed some 35,000 people and which scientists attributed to global warming.
As the spring rain stayed away, sidewalk cafes and outdoor leisure parks across Europe reported booming business but grain crops are showing signs of drought stress.

Volcanic eruptions may have caused prehistoric global warming

April 27, 2007
WASHINGTON - Prehistoric volcanoes were responsible for the surge in global temperatures, according to a new study by European and American scientists. These volcanic eruptions also created North Atlantic Ocean, the report published in the journal Science said.

Intense volcanic activity, which occurred about 55 million years ago, was also linked with a rise in ocean temperatures to the tune of 5 to 6 degree Celsius, the study found.

Birds, dolphins, sea-lions sickened, killed by algae in California

Environmental Alert
Endangered brown pelicans, being treated for domoic acid poisoning from toxic red tide algae bloom in the ocean, recuperate at the International Bird Rescue Research Center in April 2006 in San Pedro, California.

April 27, 2007
A morass of toxic ocean algae swamping sections of California's coastline has sickened hundreds of birds, sea lions and dolphins, environmentalists said Friday.

Animal protection agencies have reported a sharp increase in fatalities and illnesses amongst wildlife because of the thick "blooms" of algae that have appeared in the state's coastal waters.

The International Bird Rescue Research Center in San Pedro compared the environmental impact of the algae to an oil spill, saying in a statement that several species of animals had been affected.

"I have been doing this work for 35 years and I have never seen anything like this as far as the number of species affected, other than an oil spill," IBRRC director Jay Holcomb said.

"We have very serious concerns about what is happening to seabirds, and how it may affect populations."

Solar Storm Cycle Will Likely Start Next March

Image: Solar cycle intensity is measured in maximum number of sunspots--dark blotches on the sun that mark areas of heightened magnetic activity. The more sunspots there are, the more likely it is that major solar storms will occur. (Credit: NOAA)

April 27, 2007
The next 11-year cycle of solar storms will most likely start next March and peak in late 2011 or mid-2012—up to a year later than expected—according to a forecast issued by the NOAA Space Environment Center in coordination with an international panel of solar experts. The NOAA Space Environment Center led the prediction panel and issued the forecast at its annual Space Weather Workshop in Boulder, Colo. NASA sponsored the panel

Drought fears ignite global wheat prices

Breaking Earth News
April 27, 2007
World wheat prices flared on Thursday on fears that dry weather from Europe to Australia will damage crops and hit already tight supplies at a time when their use in biofuels is also on the rise. Continued lack of rainfall in Europe and Australia, both big wheat growing regions, rattled markets. French prices have now risen by 15 percent this month. Australia, which can grow up to 25 million tonnes of wheat a year, faces another bad season - last year drought decimated its harvest with production barely exceeding 10 million tonnes. In Europe, a lack of rain across the main wheat growing regions from France to Ukraine has dented earlier optimism that harvests this summer would be good. Analysts estimate ethanol distillers will use 2.15 billion bushels of US corn, or 20 percent of the 2006 crop, in making the alternative fuel, and the total might reach 3.1 billion bushels for 2007 crop. World wheat stocks are at their LOWEST LEVEL IN 25 YEARS.

Climate change sees fish grow faster in warmer water

Photo: Fish swim in the Mediterranean sea in a file photo
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Climate change is affecting the growth of fish, with those living in warmer, shallow waters growing faster and species in cooling deep ocean waters growing slower, according to an Australian study.
The research by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) found fish were growing faster in waters above a depth of 250 meters (825 feet) and had slower growth rates below 1,000 meters (3,300 feet).

"These observations suggest that global climate change has enhanced some elements of productivity of shallow-water stocks but at the same time reduced the productivity and possibly the resilience of deep-water stocks," said the CSIRO's Ron Thresher.

City birds sing for silent nights

April 25, 2007
Robins in urban areas are singing at night because it is too noisy during the day, researchers suggest. Scientists say there is a link between an area's daytime noise levels and the number of birds singing at night. Until now, light pollution had been blamed because it was thought that street lights tricked the birds into thinking it was still daytime. It was thought to prevent the birds from roosting, leading to them remaining active through the hours of darkness. "Night-time light had a small effect, but very much smaller than the impact of noise levels." This led the team to conclude that it was an active decision by the birds to sing at night rather than passively responding to light levels. "The birds appear to be singing at night to avoid competition with high noise levels caused by our cities during the day. Noise levels were 10 times higher in places where birds were singing at night."

Africa: water shortage for up to 250 million people by 2020

Global Warming Warnings/Alerts
April, 2007
Washington/Brussels - Africa faces dire water shortages for between 75 and 250 million people in addition to crop shortages during the current century at the present rate of global warming, according to a report released Friday in Brussels. "New studies confirm that Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to climate variability and change because of multiple stresses and low adaptive capacity," the IPCC said.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - the work of more than 2,000 scientists over six years - earlier this year projected the Earth's average temperature would rise by 1.1 to 6.4 degrees Celsius given current levels of greenhouse-gas emissions.


CARIBBEAN - A new report says Caribbean food security, health and economic fortunes are under threat by global climate change. The implications of the findings are frightening. According to the report, in the last decade there has been an increase of stronger hurricanes; the seas in the region are becoming warmer and storms are becoming more intense; there have been changes in the annual levels of rainfall; salinisation of coastal zone waters; outbreaks of vector borne diseases such as dengue at unseasonal times; and migration of fish. The report urged action as procrastination could result in prolonged future drought; difficulties managing growing demands for depleting water resources; erosion of beaches due to rising sea levels and a decrease in agricultural output at the subsistence and commercial levels.

ARKANSAS - April�s RECORD-SETTING EARLY COLD SNAP and big freeze is taking an increasingly bigger chunk out of Southeast Arkansas� agricultural production. Jefferson and Lincoln were among four counties added Tuesday to the disaster proclamation that now includes 52 of the state�s 75 counties. In Jefferson County, 30 percent or more of the wheat crop has been lost and corn and rice yields will be lessened. Soybeans may have been damaged too. 50% of the tomato crop there was feared destroyed and the remainder damaged. However, 80 percent of the tomatoes struck by the freezing temperatures �may be coming back.� The first crop may be a lower grade than normal and the tomatoes that are rebounding for a later yield won�t be ready until late in the season. The freezing temperatures earlier this month damaged crops across the state. �It is more severe than I anticipated. It�s much wider spread and much farther south than I thought.� Corn and wheat were particularly affected by the cold temperatures. �Both were caught in VERY UNUSUAL timing. We had warm weather in March and everything took off, then we had the freeze.� Before the cold snap, 70 percent of the state�s wheat crop was �rated as good to excellent.� The rating is now 14 percent at �good to excellent,� 22 percent very poor, 42 percent poor and 22 percent fair. Many farmers around the state have reported losing entire fields of corn and wheat. Farmers have also lost peaches, berries and grape crops in the freezing temperatures.

Plant vault passes billion mark

Breaking Earth News
Great Britain
Britain's "Noah's Ark" for plants has just collected its billionth seed in a race against time to save the world's plants from global warming wipe-out. Part of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, the bank already stores material from 18,000 species, some of which have become extinct in the wild. Seed banks are seen as an essential part of plans to curb the rapid loss of biodiversity in Britain and worldwide. By 2010, Kew plans to have amassed seeds from 30,000 species, representing 10% of the world's plants. "If policymakers are serious about funding adaptation to climate change, seed banks are a key part of that." Some seed will last for millennia, others for decades; these will be planted and germinated before their expiry date comes up, and the seed of their offspring collected and stored anew. "With threats not only from climate change but also deforestation, changes in land use and so on, seed-banking is the bare minimum."

Eyes in the sky grow dim

Space News
April 25, 2007

At a time when climate change impacts are accelerating, our ability to observe those impacts from space is deteriorating. Cuts in US government funding for Nasa programs will dramatically weaken scientists' capacity to monitor and understand the planet's climate. If present trends continue, by 2015 the number of U.S. Earth-observing satellite missions will be reduced by half, putting the scientific systems they support "at risk of collapse." Such a loss would severely hamper the ability of scientists to collect basic information about the Earth's climate system, to monitor changes - including those that directly affect human health, such as disease outbreaks and water contamination - and provide accurate weather forecasts. Programs involving measurements of temperature, ozone, ocean winds, water vapour, and solar radiation are among those expected to be curtailed. The substitution of more economical but less capable instruments on some missions will worsen forecasts of El Nino, hurricanes and coastal weather. Due to a series of cancelled or delayed missions, ageing satellites and instruments, and decline in funding for new projects, the nation's space-based observing programme is in disarray. A committee of more than 100 leading American scientists and policy-makers authored the NRC report. "To do the entire programme would cost the American public $2 per person per year." Yet none of the recommended new missions is slated for funding under President Bush's proposed 2008 budget. ""By 2012 we go to a 20-year low and Earth sciences goes in the tank."

Ice clouds pique curiosities

Image: Polar mesospheric clouds form during each polar region's summer months in the coldest place in the atmosphere. Credit: Hampton University

CAPE CANAVERAL - NASA plans to launch a spacecraft today that will study mysterious ice clouds forming at the highest levels of the atmosphere -- a relatively recent phenomenon that might be related to global warming.
Weighing in at just 430 pounds, the spacecraft will be launched aboard a Pegasus rocket dropped from beneath the wing of a carrier aircraft flying off the central coast of California.
Its destination: an orbit 373 miles above the surface of the planet. From that vantage point, the spacecraft will train three instruments on the clouds, which form at high altitudes over the Earth's poles.
"We are exploring clouds literally on the edge of space -- 50 miles above the Earth's surface," said James Russell of Hampton University in Virginia, the first historically black college to direct a NASA satellite mission.
The unusual clouds reflect sunlight at twilight and, from the ground, they can only be seen at night. Russell said the clouds are quite a sight.
"They are very bright. They're silvery blue. They are iridescent. They do capture the imagination," Russell said.
Photo Above: An Orbital Sciences-built Pegasus XL rocket carrying NASA's AIM satellite drops from its Stargazer L-1011 parent aircraft (left) and launches spaceward (right)on April 25, 2007. The AIM - or Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere - satellite is designed to study noctilucent clouds, which hover on the edge of space and are only visible at night. Credit: NASA TV.

Rich and poor battle over bird flu

April 24, 2007
Bird flu has largely flown off the radar of the Western world, but people are still dying from it nearly every week in Indonesia. Since the first case was reported two years ago, government officials have reported 74 deaths from the H5N1 strain in Indonesia - more than a third of the world's total. Indonesia has refused to share its samples of bird flu virus with the World Health Organization since January. Jakarta fears a vaccine produced from its specimens would be out of reach for its own citizens - too expensive and controlled by wealthy nations. Some global health officials have accused Indonesia of holding the virus hostage and keeping experts from monitoring whether the bug is mutating into a dangerous form that could potentially spark the next pandemic that kills millions.

Italian Drought Affects Homeowners

Breaking Earth News

The government is meeting to discuss emergency measures to counter the effects of an impending drought this summer. Weeks of dry weather have followed an unusually mild winter, and with a hot season predicted, water levels in the country's reservoirs and rivers are likely to continue to plummet. The shortages could affect the production of Italian staples like parmesan and prosciutto, as crops for feeding cattle wilt and fail. For homeowners, this could mean cut-backs and even electricity blackouts.

The deadly quake and "mini tsunami" that struck south Chile

News Update: Chile, S.A.

Click the Map to Enhance

Search and rescue efforts continued in Region XI Sunday, one day after a substantial earthquake and subsequent “mini tsunami” struck near the towns of Puerto Aysén and Puerto Chacabuco. So far authorities have located the bodies of three people who were swept away Saturday by massive waves in the Aysén Fjord. Seven others are still missing.
The quake, which registered 6.2 on the Richter scale and lasted roughly 30 seconds, struck the region just before 2 p.m. Saturday, causing panic among the area’s already jumpy residents and producing major landslides around the Aysén Fjord. The landslides in turn produced a series of huge waves that leapt up along the shoreline of the Fjord, destroying piers and houses, and sweeping 10 people into the water.

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Towering waves struck southern Chile

Photo: Actual footage of Avalanche creating tsunami

Unusual Spring Weather Damages Valuable Food Crops

Kentucky, USA
April 23, 2007
This spring's strange hot-and-cold weather has caused a lot of plant damage. The extent of the damage is yet to be determined. People say they've never seen anything like what happened this spring. What caused the damage was the UNUSUALLY warm weather, the two weeks of 70- and 80-degree temperatures in late March and for the first few days of April. That got things growing well ahead of schedule and put the young, tender growth in jeopardy when normal temperatures returned. The damage goes far beyond the blackened flower beds and burned ornamentals. The woods that had been turning pastel green, almost overnight took on a sickly pallor of brown, gray and black. Particularly the hickories, which were well on their way to full leaf, are a sorry sight. The young leaves hang in black clumps from their limbs, almost like Spanish moss. The oaks weren't as far along, but many were blooming. Many trees, huge old ones, look so bad one wonders whether they'll recover. The common wisdom is they will, but the mast crops that squirrels and birds need to make it through next winter have been eliminated. Fruit crops have been wiped out or severely damaged from as far north as Ohio and Pennsylvania to as far south as the Carolinas. The early blooming red plums and apricots, which were already well set, are gone. And it is suspected the peaches and apples are too. The strawberries are only now blooming, and even though they were covered with a layer of straw during the cold weather, many of the blooms have blackened centers indicating they won't produce fruit. And even blueberries, normally resistant to the vagrancies of early spring weather, have been hammered. There'll be a few, but nothing like usual. The real damage, though, is to be found in the field crops. Some people who had rushed to get corn into the ground have lost whole fields, and it's only now becoming clear that much of the region's wheat crop was devastated, its value now as a green manure. The impact on the quantity, quality and price of food available for the dinner table is yet to be seen. In today's global economy, where grocery stores routinely offer produce from around the world, the effects of a lost crop in one region can be blunted. But this should serve to remind us how vulnerable our food supply is to something so completely outside our control as the weather. The best example of that in modern history is probably 1816, the "year without a summer" or "18 and froze to death." Cold weather brought snow and frosts to much of North America and Europe for nearly every month that year and prevented people from growing their normal crops. The weather was attributed to an Indonesian volcanic eruption in 1815 that put so much debris into the atmosphere it blocked the sun's rays in the Northern Hemisphere.

Lost world warning from North Sea

The North Sea
April 23, 2007
Archaeologists are uncovering a huge prehistoric "lost country" hidden below the North Sea. This lost landscape, where hunter gatherer communities once lived, was swallowed by rising water levels at the end of the last ice age. This large plain disappeared below the water more than 8,000 years ago. It serves as a warning for the scale of impact that climate change can cause. Human communities would have lost their homelands as the rising water began to encroach upon the wide, low-lying plains. As the temperature rose and glaciers retreated and water levels rose, the inhabitants would have been pushed off their hunting grounds and forced towards higher land - including to what is now modern-day Britain. "In 10,000 BC hunter gatherers were living on the land in the middle of the North Sea. By 6,000 BC, Britain was an island. The area we have mapped was wiped out in the space of 4,000 years." "At times this change would have been insidious and slow - but at times it could have been terrifyingly fast. It would have been very traumatic for these people."

Cell Phone Radiation Could Be Killing Bees

April, 2007
A mysterious condition known as Colony Collapse Disorder is destroying bee hives around the world. Scientists are still debating the exact cause of the epidemic, but researchers at Landau University suggest that radiation from mobile phones may be at least partially to blame. Scientists found that placing mobile phones near hives causes bees to refuse to go inside.


Earth News Journal: Week Ending April 20, 2007

Earth News Journal
Week of April 20, 2007

Deadly Sandstorm
A blinding sandstorm
that brought operations
to a halt for several hours
at five Egyptian ports and
Cairo.s international airport is also
being blamed for the deaths of two
people in northern Egypt. The fatalities
occurred when high winds from
the North African storm fanned a fire
that set about 50 homes ablaze in the
Nile Delta village of Atalia. Most
roofs of the homes in that community
were constructed from highly combustible
palm stems, according to
local officials.

A strong earthquake with
a preliminary magnitude
of 5.4 jolted wide areas of
central and western Japan.
The shaking injured 12 people and
damaged several houses and the stone
wall of a 16th-century castle.
. A 6.3 magnitude quake knocked
out power and caused minor damage
from Mexico.s Pacific coast to Mexico
City early on April 13. No injuries
were reported.
. Earth movements were also felt
in far southern and northwestern California,
Japan.s Hokkaido Island,
Fiji, western Greece and central

Colombian Eruption
A snowcapped volcano in
southern Colombia, dormant
for at least 500 years,
erupted with great force,
prompting nearly 8,000 nearby residents
to evacuate. Heat from the eruption
caused the crown of ice and snow
on Nevado del Huila to melt rapidly.
The resulting flash floods and mudslides
swept away houses and
bridges, and submerged large tracts
of farmland. The mountain began
showing signs of unrest in late February
with swarms of seismic tremors.

Sudanese Swarms
Sudan.s Ministry of
Agriculture and Forestry
warned that swarms of
desert locusts have
spread into the country from neighboring
Eritrea and now cover a large
area in the east of the country. The
Sudanese news agency Suna reports
that the government began locust
control operations across 64,000
acres of the affected region. Last
month, the U.N. Food and Agriculture
Organization warned that Horn
of Africa nations, especially Eritrea,
northern Somalia and Sudan, are
under threat of locust infestations that
have a potential to cause a serious
humanitarian crisis.

Late Nor.easter
A massive winterlike
storm lashed a broad area
of the United States and
eastern Canada, leaving at
least 17 people dead. After spawning
tornados across northern Texas, the
storm intensified as it barreled up the
Atlantic Coast. Late season snowfall
and high winds in parts of the Northeast
and the Canadian Maritimes
caused major transportation disruptions
and power blackouts. Flash
floods struck from the Carolinas and
West Virginia to New Hampshire and
Nova Scotia as up to 9 inches of rainfall
inundated some areas.

Caspian Seal Deaths
Officials in Kazakhstan
say they have discovered
why at least 367 seals died
this spring along the country
.s Caspian Sea coast. Environmental
groups had earlier expressed
concerns that the marine mammals
died near some of the world.s largest
oil and gas fields. But the chief
inspector of the environmental protection
department of Kazakhstan.s
Mangistau region told Kazakhstan
Today that laboratory results show
the seals died as a result of canine distemper
virus rather than chemical
poisoning. Simon Goodman, a biology
professor at the University of
Leeds who coordinates a research
project on Caspian seals, told
reporters that while there is no proven
link between the seal deaths and oil
pollution, pollutants could have accumulated
in seals, weakening their
immune systems. This could have led
to the animals. susceptibility to a
virus that normally affects dogs.

Cellular Repulsion
Studies conducted by
German researchers
indicate that the growing
use of cell phones could
in some way be responsible for the
sudden disappearance of bees seen
across America and parts of Europe
since last fall. A limited study conducted
at Germany.s Landau University
has found that bees refuse to
return to their hives when mobile
phones are placed nearby. Lead
researcher Dr. Jochen Kuhn said this
could provide a .hint. to a possible
cause of what has been termed
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
The phenomenon has seen entire bee
colonies disappear from their hives,
leaving only the queen, eggs and a
few immature workers. Kuhn cautioned
that his research was on how
cell phone signals might affect learning,
and not on CCD. Dr. George
Carlo, who headed an extensive study
by the U.S. government and mobile
phone industry on the hazards of
mobile phone use during the 1990s,
told Britain.s Independent newspaper
the .possibility is real. that the
use of cell phones could be contributing
to CCD.

Earth News: A Journal of the Planet

Week Ending April 20, 2007
Distributed by: UPS
© 2007-Earth Frenzy Radio

Earth's First Rainforest Unearthed

Photo: Detail of a pteridosperm, an extinct seed-producing fern-like plant. Width across image about six centimeters. Credit: Dr. Howard Falcon-Lang

April 23, 2007
A spectacular fossilised forest has transformed our understanding of the ecology of the Earth’s first rainforests. It is 300 million years old.
The forest is composed of a bizarre mixture of extinct plants: abundant club mosses, more than 40 metres high, towering over a sub-canopy of tree ferns, intermixed with shrubs and tree-sized horsetails. Nowhere elsewhere on the planet is it possible to (literally) walk through such an extensive swathe of Carboniferous rainforest. It was discovered by Dr Howard Falcon-Lang from the University of Bristol, UK, and US colleagues, in the underground workings of a coalmine, in Illinois, USA. The results of this work are published online today in Geology, by the Geological Society of America. The fossilized forest was preserved following a major earthquake 300 million years ago. The quake caused the whole region to drop below sea level whereupon the forest became buried in mud, preserving it forever.

The Frightening Future of Earth

Skywatch-Media Newsletter
April 23, 2007

Our planet's prospects for environmental stability are bleaker than ever with the advent of this year’s Earth Day, April 22. Global warming is widely accepted as a reality by scientists and even by previously doubtful government and industrial leaders. And according to a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), there is a 90 percent likelihood that humans are contributing to the change.

To Read More Visit the Newsletter Archives

The Great Red Comet
Issue 65, Volume 7
©2007, Skywatch-Media. All Rights Reserved

Global warming to provoke polar bear attacks

MOSCOW, April 20 (RIA Novosti) - Polar bears could start attacking humans more frequently due to global warming, a Russian scientist said Friday.

Polar bears are carnivores that mainly live on seals, but can also feed on birds, shellfish, rodents and walruses - anything they can catch and kill. They are more likely to hunt humans than other bears and attacks could, for instance, happen at hunting camps or weather stations.

"Sea ice [the area covered by ice in the Arctic] is decreasing, and this is the polar bear's main habitat... In a search for food, the bears could end up at coastal areas and approach villages on the sea shore," Oleg Anisimov, a professor at the State Hydrology Institute under Russia's hydrometeorology service, told a news conference.

"This presents a considerable threat for people," he said.

Madagascar's rice farmers hit hard by cyclone

April, 2007
MADAGASCAR is still reeling after being hammered by the sixth cyclone since late last year. The island's staple food source, rice, was particularly hard hit, and much of the crop was destroyed by flooding. The Maroansetra area lost almost 19,000 acres (7,500 hectares) of planted rice. The storm destroyed 20 percent of rain-fed rice and about 80 percent of irrigated rice fields. Since rice is the staple food in Madagascar, a serious food crisis is underway, affecting more than 175,000 people. Estimates of national losses will only start when the harvest begins in May, but the government forecasts that the amount of rice imported will likely double this year.

Acute water shortage hit Tumu Township

April 22, 2007
An acute water shortage has hit Tumu Township plunging the community into discomfort and putting the lives and health of the residents at risk. The Tumu District Hospital is recording high prevalence of diseases among patients in recent time due to the drinking of polluted water. Some of the residents said after drinking water fetched from a dam, the only available source of water, they develop stomach pains. The 10,000 residents have been without good drinking water for the past 16 years but the situation has worsened between January and April this year. Women and children could be seen carrying plastic containers, basins and pots in search of water from the nearby communities day and night. "For the lack of water, chop bar operators and other cooked food sellers have abandoned their operations, while some residents are unable to prepare meals for their households." Government workers leave their workplaces and look for water at the expense of working time, while farmers are unable to go to their farms to prepare the fields in readiness for the cropping season.

The Big Dry is worst drought in 1,000 years


April 20, 2007
Climate change is hitting Australia hard. Record-breaking heatwaves, droughts and wildfires have scorched much of the south, while northern regions have faced severe cyclones and torrential downpours.

The big concern is how much warmer Australia’s weather is getting: 2005 was the hottest year on record, and last year was not far behind. Temperatures have risen by about 1C (1.8F) since the 1950s, faster than the global average. Many regions are withering under an unprecedented drought that has lasted up to ten years.

The outlook looks grim, with Victoria heading for its driest April yet and little sign of rain for the rest of this month and possibly even up to June. Even an average winter’s rainfall would not restore water reserves.

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