Tuesday, May 25, 2010

We are all but recent leaves on the same old tree of life
and if this life has adapted itself to new functions and conditions,
it uses the same old basic principles over and over again.
There is no real difference between the grass and the man who mows it.
Albert Szent-Györgyi

This morning -

Yesterday -
5/24/10 -


COSTA RICA - Arenal volcano has erupted, spewing geysers of lava, ash and toxic gases from its crater and forcing the evacuation of the national park where it is located. The mountain in northern Costa Rica shuddered into activity at 4am this morning issuing eight successive rivers of lava that flowed down its steep slopes. Nobody was at risk from the eruptions but authorities as a precaution evacuated the Arenal National Park, 80km north-east of San Jose. The Arenal Volcano is one of Costa Rica's major tourist attractions and the park has scores of hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and shopping centres. No estimates were given of how many people were inside the park when the eruption began. Arenal's last major eruption in July 1968 killed 89 people. Smaller eruptions have occurred at least six times over the past 35 years.

No current tropical cyclones.

ATLANTIC - A disorganized area of showers and thunderstorms in the southwestern Atlantic is being monitored for possible development during the next day or so, and it may become the first named storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season. If the storm is named, it will be called Alex, most likely with the moniker of Subtropical Storm Alex.
That's because the storm would most likely be a hybrid storm - one that has characteristics of a storm of both tropical and nontropical (normal low-pressure system) origins - rather than a purely tropical storm. Sea surface temperatures in this region of the Atlantic, which are relatively cool at this time of year, are what would prevent the storm from obtaining pure tropical characteristics. A subtropical storm creates the same effects as a tropical storm in terms of wind, waves and rain. Residents along the Southeast coast, especially in the eastern Carolinas, will need to monitor the development and track of the system in the coming days. (map)


CHINA - A torrent of floods caused by heavy storms have killed 115 people in southern China, with 21 people still missing as weather reports show rains beginning to subside.

GERMANY, POLAND - Germany is preparing itself for floods in the next few days as water levels reached the critical mark. Authorities say the situation in Brandenburg will become serious by the weekend. Meanwhile emergency teams in Poland are attempting to shore up river banks as the country continues to suffer its WORST FLOODS FOR DECADES.
By the end of the week German experts are forecasting water levels to reach level-3 and will remain at this level for a number of days before receding. A six-year-old girl was killed on Monday in the German state of Saxony when a tornado caused heavy damage to the town of Grossenhain. Hail storms and torrential rain also caused damage to many buildings in the region, includings residential housing and a church. At least one warehouse collapsed. If the bad weather continues the floods could continue for ten days or three weeks. It all depends whether the flood peak of the rivers Warthe and Oder meet in the Polish town of Kostrzyn.
At least 15 people have been killed in Poland in the worst floods to hit the country in over a decade. A protective barrier broke near the town of Plock on Sunday, allowing flood water into the region about 100 kilometres north-west of the capital Warsaw. Many Poles have had to flee their homes. Over 4,000 soldiers are taking part in rescue efforts around the country after Poland's largest river, the Vistula, broke its banks. The Vistula's level risks reaching 780 centimetres.


The cost of garlic is on the rise. In Australia, shoppers are being charged up to $30 a kilo, or double the usual price, amid global shortages. Swine flu fears that swept China late last year created massive demand there for the bulb and its rumoured health benefits, eating into worldwide supply. Snow peas are also fetching up to $20 a kilogram after heavy rain and floods early this year delayed planting in Queensland. Many consumers are paying top dollar for cauliflower and broccoli because of a cold snap in Victoria affecting production. Rain scuppered the last of Victoria's Yarra Valley strawberry crops early. Inclement weather had also ended supermarkets' Tasmanian supply of garlic two weeks ahead of time. Some small Melbourne retailers have run out of garlic or have only organic stock left. Recent imports were quarantined, compounding supply problems. Pressures on global supply should ease from next month.


Almost half of the 500 most popular sunscreen products may actually increase the speed at which malignant cells develop and spread skin cancer because they contain vitamin A or its derivatives, retinol and retinyl palmitate. Only 39 of the 500 products they examined were considered safe and effective to use. "In a yearlong study, tumors and lesions developed up to 21 percent faster in lab animals coated in a vitamin A-laced cream than animals treated with a vitamin-free cream." The Food and Drug Administration has known of the potential danger for as long as a decade without alerting the public, which the FDA denies.
Based on the strength of the findings by FDA's own scientists, many in the public health community say they can't believe nor understand why the agency hasn't already notified the public of the possible danger. European countries have more chemical combinations to offer, but in the U.S. the major choice is between the "chemical" sunscreens, which have inferior stability, penetrate the skin and may disrupt the body's hormone systems, and "mineral" sunscreens zinc and titanium dioxide. Increasingly, the industry is using titanium dioxide that is made nanosized, which a growing number of researchers believe have serious health implications. The full list of the best and worst sunscreens can be found on the EWG's searchable database.