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Climate Change Evidence Unequivocal

Scientists for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, say the group's latest findings on global warming show rapidly increasing carbon dioxide emissions and quickly shrinking Arctic ice. To compound matters, a separate study released on Wednesday finds that the melting of polar ice is more severe than previously thought. 11 of the last 12 years were among the warmest for global surface temperature in recorded history. "In Africa, for instance, by 2020 our projections show that 75 to 250 million people would be affected by water stress on account of climate change, and crop revenues could drop very rapidly. We are really causing major distortions and disparities in economic development and growth throughout the world."  Image:Large pieces of ice drifting off after separating from an Ice Shelf

Another study by the U.N.-backed International Polar Year program, which found that icecaps at both the North and South Poles are melting at unprecedented rate. The report, compiled by scientists from more than 60 countries, also says that the shrinking of polar and Greenland ice is fueling a rise in sea levels and the potential for dramatic changes in the global climate system. The authors say the Arctic permafrost also reveals larger amounts of carbon than expected that, with further melting, could release more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. 

Temperatures at the South Pole are rising faster than expected. "Just within the last few months we've seen confirmation that the continent of Antarctica has been warming. And it's been warming at a rate of almost 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit per decade, comparable in pace to much of the rest of the Southern Hemisphere." The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says if CO2 levels are left unchecked, the earth's temperature could rise several degrees by the end of the century.

Scientists who are skeptical of the severity of global warming contend that there is no way to measure the impact of human activity on climate and that no one knows how much warming will occur or how it might affect the earth. Some experts suggest that global warming may be part of natural climate cycles that humans can do little about.

Vietnam needs to renew bird flu vigilance

HANOI, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Two United Nations bodies warned that renewed vigilance was necessary to prevent the further spread of deadly bird flu in Vietnam, which has reported three new cases in as many months, with one person dying.

The H5N1 strain has infected poultry in 10 Vietnamese provinces, and at the weekend a 23-year-old woman died of the disease in the northern province of Quang Ninh.

"The animal and public health sectors need to work closely together to minimise the ever-present threats of avian influenza and other animal-based diseases passing to humans," said Andrew Speedy, Vietnam representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Jean-Marc Olive, representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), said there was a "real possibility" of human-to-human transmission.

"If this occurs we could see the start of a new influenza pandemic," he said in a joint WHO-FAO statement.

Climate change may alter malaria patterns

Temperature is an important factor in the spread of malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases, but researchers who look at average monthly or annual temperatures are not seeing the whole picture. Global climate change will affect daily temperature variations, which can have a more pronounced effect on parasite development, according to a Penn State entomologist.

“We need higher resolution environmental and biological data to understand how climate change will affect the spread of the malaria parasite,” says Matthew Thomas, professor of entomology. “We need to understand temperature from the point of view of the mosquito.”

Firestorms and Deep Freeze: Get Use to It

Last week, the heaviest snowfall since the '90s blanketed the U.K., disrupting bus, rail and air transportation and costing areas like London a cool billion in lost revenue.

Meanwhile, in Australia, a punishing, record drought was worsened by the nation's worst heat wave and worst wildfires, wherein over 400 conflagrations killed over 200 people (and counting), torched a thousand homes and renewed calls for a country with its environmental head up its ass to finally launch its still-hibernating national warning system.

Those who would argue that these are isolated events do so at their own peril. The more time passes, the more both examples of extreme weather resemble two sides of the same fearsome coin known as catastrophic climate change.

And depending on how the science plays out, it could get much worse indeed, and fast.

Bleak forecast on fishery stocks

The world's fish stocks will soon suffer major upheaval due to climate change, scientists have warned.

Changing ocean temperatures and currents will force thousands of species to migrate polewards, including cod, herring, plaice and prawns.

By 2050, US fishermen may see a 50% reduction in Atlantic cod populations.

The predictions of "huge changes", published in the journal Fish and Fisheries, were presented at the AAAS annual meeting in Chicago.

Marine biologists used computer models to forecast the future of 1,066 commercially important species from across the globe.

"The impact of climate change on marine biodiversity and fisheries is going to be huge," said lead author Dr William Cheung, of the University of East Anglia in the UK.

"We must act now to adapt our fisheries management and conservation policies to minimise harm to marine life and to our society.

"We can use our knowledge to improve the design of marine protected areas which are adaptable to changes in distribution of the species," he told the conference.

Economies will suffer most as climate change imperils fisheries

Penang, Malaysia —With climate change threatening to destroy coral reefs, push salt water into freshwater habitats and produce more coastal storms, millions of struggling people in fishery-dependent nations of Africa, Asia and South America could face unprecedented hardship, according to a new study published today in the February issue of the peer-reviewed journal Fish and Fisheries. The study, by a team of scientists at the WorldFish Center, the University of East Anglia, Simon Fraser University, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, the University of Bremen, and the Mekong River Commission, is the first to identify individual nations that are “highly vulnerable” to the impact of climate change on fisheries.

The Queensland floods will devastate the beef industry

Australia
The Queensland floods will devastate the beef industry as livestock starve. Tens of thousands of cattle stranded by floods in Queensland have been left to starve because owners cannot drop feed to them and state authorities say they are powerless to act. In many cases, livestock have moved hundreds of kilometres from their stations, which means identifying their owners is difficult. And with much of the area under water, station owners have no feed and many of the animals have been left to die. Farmers fear the rain and floods that have affected two-thirds of Queensland will devastate the beef industry in some regions, while sugarcane growers are also bracing for heavy losses. Although flooding as a result of two cyclones began receding in many areas yesterday, authorities now fear a king tide this weekend could combine with a low pressure system off the coast to once again flood the coast from Cardwell to Townsville. Pilots flying over the Gulf country have reported thousands of starving or dead cattle. The sugar industry has also been hit, with growers in the Burdekin region around Townsville fearing the floods could reduce this year's crop by 20 per cent.

Oil Terminal Near Mount Redoubt has Homeland Security Worried

SECRECY: Citing homeland security, officials give out little information about the plant's status.

When Mount Redoubt erupted 20 years ago, massive floods and raining pumice raised immediate alarms over the Drift River Oil Terminal, with its storage tanks of crude oil sitting at the foot of the volcano.

After several weeks of growing explosions, a big blast hit the lava dome, oil workers abandoned the scene by helicopter and the oil terminal was swept by a flood that turned the Drift River, briefly, into the largest river in North America.


Now Redoubt is restless again. Strong seismic tremors came and went Friday, as scientists said an eruption appeared still to be building. Image Left: BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily NewsRedoubt Volcano at sunrise across Cook Inlet from the mouth of the Kasilof river on the Kenai Peninsula on Wednesday January 23, 2008.


Liberian crop pest mystery solved

Liberia
The mystery pest which has devoured crops and contaminated water in Liberia and Guinea has finally been identified. The insects, thought to be armyworms, are in fact the caterpillars of the moth Achaea catocaloides. Cornering the culprit will allow the government to select the best pesticide to tackle the outbreak - the worst seen in Liberia since 1970. More than 20,000 people have so far had to evacuate their homes. The Liberian President declared a national state of emergency after caterpillars were reported to have infested more than 100 villages, including several over the border in Guinea. "We really have some homework to do now - because the caterpillars are still spreading." One piece of good news for farmers is that the caterpillars are likely to be easier to control than armyworms would have been. They spin their cocoons on the ground under fallen leaves, which leaves them relatively exposed. One challenge will be reaching the sites of the caterpillar eggs - which are laid on the leaves of very tall Dahoma trees. These eggs hatch into caterpillars which feed on the leaves of the trees until they mature and fall to the ground, where they pupate. Caterpillars which are not yet mature begin migrating in search of food - leading them to crop fields, into water bodies and residential areas. The cause of this year's unexpectedly large outbreak is likely to be UNUSUAL WEATHER PATTERNS.

Towns battle floods, crocs and more rain

Australia
Military personnel, helicopters and aircraft may be deployed as RECORD FLOODS threaten to force mass evacuations of isolated townships across Queensland's far north. Dozens of families in Karumba and Normanton, in the Gulf of Carpentaria, have been evacuated. More than 1000 homes are flood-affected in Ingham, north of Townsville, including 20 that have up to 1.5m of water flowing through the living areas. More than 30 people are in emergency accommodation and at least six more are stranded awaiting help. Locals say flood levels are higher than the 1974 record. Huge crocodiles in the centre of the Gulf towns have hampered rescue efforts and large numbers have reportedly been seen swimming towards the 60km-wide mouth of the flooded Norman River. Supermarkets in Cairns, Innisfail and Port Douglas are starting to experience food shortages because the main rail link has been severed for more than a week and trucks are unable to travel north of Ingham. And there is more disaster on the way with forecasters predicting heavy rain for the rest of the week. A low off the coast could form into a cyclone as early as tomorrow. 
Image: Under siege ... Floodwaters enter shops in the retail and business centre of Ingham. Picture: Mark and Belinda Doyle of Lee's Hotel.

Liberia faces second worm wave

The UN has warned Liberia could soon face a second wave of crop-destroying armyworms as the pests reproduce.
Liberia's President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf declared a state of emergency this week and appealed for international aid to fight the insects.
Some 400,000 residents in 100 villages have been affected by tens of millions of the insects, the UN says.
The worms - which are actually caterpillars - are among the world's most destructive agricultural pests.
It is the West African country's worst infestation of armyworm for three decades.

Skiers enjoy heavy snowfall despite dire predictions

Switzerland
Just three years after the ski runs were blemished with soggy patches of mud and grass, Alpine resorts are enjoying the BEST SNOW OF A GENERATION, despite predictions that changing weather patterns had doomed the sport. The heavy drifts of snow, which are forecast to be replenished with new falls between Sunday and Wednesday, are THE HEAVIEST FOR 20 YEARS, an instance of freak weather also occurring in several other countries around the world. In Australia, a savage heatwave has caused almost 20 deaths as wildfires roared through the scrubland around Melbourne, while ice storms blistered across the southern parts of the United States. "It is very likely that hot extremes, heatwaves and heavy precipitation events will continue to become more frequent as a result of climate change," said the World Meterological Organisation.

Record-breaking heat scorches southern Australia


Australia
Wildfires destroyed more than 20 homes while hundreds of thousands of others lost power as a record-breaking heat wave that began claiming lives maintained its oppressive grip on southern Australia on Saturday. About six people died from heat stress in Melbourne, Australia's second largest city, over three days before the temperature mellowed to 31 degrees Celsius (88 Fahrenheit) on Saturday. Melbourne on Friday recorded its third consecutive day of temperatures above 109 degrees Fahrenheit (43 Celsius) for the FIRST TIME SINCE RECORD-KEEPING BEGAN IN 1855. South Australia state authorities said Saturday that the heat had probably caused some of the recent 22 sudden deaths there. In Victoria, at least 23 houses were destroyed Friday night and Saturday by wildfires that burned 16,000 acres (6,300 hectares) of forest and farm land. Adelaide is expected to match its longest heat wave in a century on Monday, with six consecutive days exceeding 104 F (40 C). The heat there buckled train and tram lines. "These events are UNPRECEDENTED. In some respects, they are not unlike a natural disaster, impacting on a community like a flood or tornado."

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