Thursday, December 9, 2010

Farmers could join endangered species list - Extreme weather patterns wreaking havoc on many parts of the world could put the global farmer on the endangered species list says an international agricultural expert. He described the dismal situation of the Russian potato crop and the damage that savage weather can cause on an agricultural commodity. Russia - with the third-highest potato production in the world - has suffered a near-collapse of the industry after losing 60 per cent of its massive harvest. The harvest loss in Russia means the country needs to import 10 million tonnes of potato or three times the total Canadian production. A nine-week drought and temperatures upwards of 35 degrees Celsius this past summer let the crop wither away. Ukraine - considered the breadbasket of Europe - suffered too much rain and extensive late blight in its potato crop. “Some people call it global warming, I call it extreme weather. But it is absolute nonsense for anyone to say it isn’t happening.” Droughts, hurricanes, floods and other natural elements are threatening food crops in many parts of the world and wiping out the livelihoods of many subsistence farmers. “It’s making farming more like a lottery." The fastest-growing risk claims in the insurance industry are not fires anymore, but flooding and extreme weather events.

**Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can.**
Danny Kaye

This morning -

Yesterday -
12/8/10 -

Experts blame German quake series on geothermal power. A quake that caused cracks in buildings in August 2009 and six more perceptible temblors the next month probably came from an increase in hot-water pressure.

No current tropical cyclones.

Another top 10 active Atlantic hurricane season ahead in 2011 - Only eight days removed from the end of the record breaking 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, comes the Colorado State University's forecast team's early outlook.


PANAMA - Traffic through the Panama Canal is suspended for THE FIRST TIME IN MORE THAN 20 YEARS because of heavy rain. The canal authority said the rains had pushed water levels in lakes that form part of the canal to HISTORIC HIGHS, potentially endangering shipping. It is the first time the canal has had to close since the US invasion of Panama in 1989. Officials said they hoped normal traffic could resume "within hours". The canal authority said it was opening flood gates to reduce the water level in one of the lakes. Around 14,000 ships pass through the Panama Canal each year, representing about 5% of world trade. Passage through sections of the waterway have been suspended in recent years because of accidents, but not operations along its entire length.
Much of Central America as well as Colombia and Venezuela in South America have been experiencing its HEAVIEST MAY-DECEMBER RAINY SEASON IN DECADES. Unlike the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal is not at sea level. Instead, ships are raised and lowered by massive locks at either end, and pass through a freshwater channel fed by rivers that run off the surrounding forest-covered hills.

Extreme weather hammers large parts of Canada - Southwestern Ontario caught the worst of a blast of stormy weather that has been battering large parts of Canada this week.

AUSTRALIA - The swollen Queanbeyan River has peaked in the New South Wales city neighbouring Canberra but residents forced to evacuate won't be allowed home until late this evening at the earliest. If there's more rain they could be stranded for even longer.The river cut Queanbeyan in half when it peaked at 8.4 metres around midday (AEDT). It had previously risen three metres in less than three hours. The city has been declared a natural disaster area, taking the total number of declared areas across NSW to 30.
A number of house and businesses were inundated and 10 people had to be rescued by boat. An upstream river gauge indicates the river is now falling dramatically. Residents were given little warning of the flood because the river rose extraordinarily fast. Water flowed from the nearby Googong Reservoir which was already full before it received 103mm in the 22 hours to 7am today. "It rose about three metres in about 2.5 hours." The weather bureau is predicting the rain band that wreaked havoc in Queanbeyan will move north. Authorities are worried it will pose problems for areas such as Coonamble in north-western NSW. The deluge that hit Queanbeyan and the nearby hills will also boost the volume of water flowing into the already swollen Murrumbidgee system.
That will add, over the coming days, to the woes being experienced in Wagga Wagga and further downstream. The flood was the WORST TO HIT SINCE THE 1970s in Queanbeyan. It was a "one-in-20-year event". Locals said the flooding was "unbelievable". "For three weeks now we've been having releases from Googong Dam. We've had, I think, it's roughly a hundred megalitres coming through each week and now we've got to that point where the dam can take no more."


FLORIDA - Even colder air on its way to South Florida next week. Cold-weather RECORDS, some dating to the Depression, WERE SWEPT AWAY overnight, and temperatures in critical growing areas held below the freezing point.


A recent study found alarming rates of the chemical compound Bisphenol A (BPA) in both cash register receipts and dollar bills. BPA (yes, that same scrooge of a chemical that we’ve banned in baby bottles and sippy cups here in Minnesota) is used to make thermal paper for store receipts. The study tested 22 receipts from retail stores in multiple states (including Minnesota) and found BPA in half of those receipts. What’s more, the BPA used in the thermal paper is not chemically bound, meaning it can easily rub off onto skin and other objects. Thinking of switching to cash? Not so fast. The study also tested dollar bills and found BPA in 21 of the 22 dollars tested. The bottom line is that BPA is unavoidable during your trip to the store.
BPA is a pretty scary chemical, and unfortunately, it’s all over the place (produced in volumes to the tune of about six billion pounds per year worldwide). Known as an endocrine disruptor, it is a developmental, neural and reproductive toxicant that mimics estrogen in the body. Animal studies have shown it to cause significant damage to neurological, immune, and reproductive systems during critical stages of development, such as infancy and in the womb. In fact, BPA has been reported to disrupt thyroid hormone-regulated genes in rats; these thyroid hormones play a significant role in brain development and other growth in the fetus. Additionally, in mice, BPA has been found to induce the genetic defect that causes Down syndrome. Needless to say, it’s pretty toxic stuff.
What’s the solution? Since it’s impractical to switch to a bartering system here in the U.S. and avoid receipts and cash altogether, there’s a better suggestion: Reform the Toxic Substances Control Act. Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families and Healthy Legacy are calling on Congress to reform how chemicals are regulated in the U.S. In the meantime, this tip sheet provides some helpful hints for avoiding BPA.

Surgeon general says a whiff of cigarette smoke can hurt you - Even secondhand smoke leads to inflammation and injury to tissues throughout the body and can cause many diseases, a report says. Any exposure to tobacco smoke can cause immediate damage to your body, according to a report set to be released today by the U.S. surgeon general. "There is no safe level of exposure to cigarette smoke. The chemicals in tobacco smoke reach your lungs quickly every time you inhale, causing damage immediately. Inhaling even the smallest amount of tobacco smoke can also damage your DNA, which can lead to cancer."
One finding: Tobacco smoke leads to inflammation and injury of tissues throughout the body and, experts say, that leads to many diseases. "Having a state of chronic inflammation not only increases your risks of heart attacks and strokes, but it's also implicated in cancer and pulmonary disease." The report also finds that, though quitting smoking can reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes, cutting back doesn't have much of an effect.
"If you're a light active smoker, that's almost as bad as being a heavy active smoker. That's because of the inflammatory processes occur at very, very low doses."
The report comes to six conclusions:
•There is no risk-free level of exposure to tobacco smoke. Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can cause cardiovascular disease and could trigger acute cardiac events, such as heart attack.
•Inhaling the complex mixture of compounds in tobacco smoke can cause cancer, cardiovascular disease and lung disease because of damage to the body's DNA. Massive amounts of free radicals in cigarette smoke cause inflammation and oxidative stress, damaging cells, tissues and organs.
•How likely it is that you'll get a smoking-related disease — and how severe the disease will be — is directly related to how long you smoke and your level of exposure to tobacco smoke.
•Tobacco products are powerfully addictive, because of the many types of nicotine receptors in the brain and the complex ways that other chemicals react with nicotine.
•Even low levels of exposure to smoking or secondhand smoke can damage and inflame the lining of blood vessels, which contributes to blood clots, heart attacks and strokes.
•There isn't enough evidence to prove that changing cigarette designs to lower the emissions of certain toxic ingredients will reduce the risk of major disease to smokers.