Sunday, January 9, 2011

**Conditions are never just right.
People who delay action until all factors are favorable do nothing.**
William Feather

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
1/8/11 -

1/7/11 -

IRAN - A 5.1-magnitude earthquake struck southern Iran's Fars province on Saturday injuring 11 people and damaging some villages.

No current tropical cyclones.


Australian floods which have caused widespread devastation in the northeast will take some time to recede. In the worst-hit areas of Queensland state, some 200,000 people have been affected.In the city of Rockhampton, water levels have fallen only slightly since peaking on Wednesday. Levels are still rising in some places, including the town of St George (450km (280 miles) west of the state capital Brisbane). "The scale of the floodwaters, the sheer size of this is best appreciated from the air, and we are talking about huge areas, lots of water, a lot of it still very fast-moving - and so it's going to be a long time back. Flood waters do not subside quickly. It takes some time...We are talking about hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars." Some communities could find themselves cut off by the floods in the coming days. "So getting supplies into these towns will continue to be a big priority." The floods in Queensland have washed away roads and railways, destroyed crops and brought the coal industry to a near standstill. The price of rebuilding homes, businesses and infrastructure, coupled with economic losses, could be as high as $5bn (£3bn). (map)


Australia has just had its coolest year since 2001, with a mean temperature in 2010 of 22C. But the first decade of the 21st century was also the warmest since standard RECORDS began in 1910. And based on preliminary data to November 30, sea surface temperatures around Australia were the WARMEST ON RECORD last year, as were those for the past decade.Globally, the year to the end of October was the WARMEST SINCE 1850 when instrumental climate records started; 0.55C above the 1961-90 average of 14C. Perhaps the cold northern winter will bring the final figure, which will not be published until March, down a little but the WMO was confident enough last month to say that 2010 would rate in the top three warmest years. And the decade also was the warmest ON RECORD - despite the annual peak in 1998. That puts a bit of a dent in the argument that the world has been cooling since 1998.
While the records cover only a relatively short period, the trends happen to follow closely the predictions over the past 40 years of temperature rises resulting from increased greenhouse gas emissions. Most scientists agree that doubling the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is likely to lead to warming of 2C-3C, an amount that risks significant economic and environmental damage. So far the increase since the mid-18th century of all greenhouse gases has been 38 per cent, including a 27.5 per cent rise from 1990 to 2009.
As well as rising temperatures, Arctic sea ice shrank last year to its third lowest area in the satellite records and was offset only slightly by Antarctic sea ice at just above the long-term average. Global snow cover is falling and sea levels rising. Despite that, much of the debate about global warming still is conducted in terms of future and uncertain consequences. Perhaps we should start looking harder at the present. Recent extreme weather events include not only the Victorian bushfires and RECORD floods in Queensland. 2010 saw the second-highest number of natural catastrophes since 1980, with 90 per cent of them weather-related.
Australia always has been a land of drought and flooding rains, and weather records are broken as regularly as cricket records. But not in the way they have been recently. The temperature of 46.4C in Melbourne on Black Saturday was more than 3C above the previous highest for February. July 29 last year saw the temperature reach 38.2C in Moscow, while for the whole month the mean temperature was more than 2C above the previous RECORD. The heatwave and associated fires and air pollution in central Russia killed at least 56,000 people, making it the WORST natural disaster in Russia's history. Pakistan experienced its WORST ever floods, costing 1769 lives. Munich Re says the hurricane season in the North Atlantic was one of the most severe in the last century even though most countries, including the US, had a lucky escape, with the storms mostly over the sea. So, can we blame climate change? Probably to some degree, even cautious scientists tend to say.
The current La Nina that usually generates higher rainfall in eastern and northern Australia is the STRONGEST OR SECOND STRONGEST THEY HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED. While there is no evidence to link La Nina to climate change, one possible connection is that water temperatures in the oceans around Australia have never been so warm and the La Nina has been unusually strong. The 12 years of drought was twice as long as the previous longest drought in the region, the heatwave at the end of January 2009 was the WORST Melbourne had ever experienced and the temperatures on Black Saturday saw a large step up from the previous RECORD. There was a succession of extraordinary heatwaves, with big jumps in RECORD temperatures, starting in Europe in 2003 and continuing all around the world, culminating in Russia last year. More than 17 countries broke their maximum temperature RECORDS in 2010. "Putting them together, you really have to strain credibility to say it has nothing to do with climate change. With climate change you expect many more of these really hot events and that is what we are getting. At the same time there are still RECORDS being set for cold temperatures. But for the last couple of decades we have certainly been getting more hot records being set than cold records."
Most developed countries, including Australia, already have set up heatwave alert systems. Other changes will be harder. Reducing water allocations in the Murray-Darling Basin is still years away at best, and the recent rain will tempt politicians to postpone it further. Building rail lines that don't buckle and electricity systems that don't fail, as they did at the time of the Victorian bushfires, let alone the bigger tasks of managing increasingly vulnerable coastlines and transforming agriculture, will be big challenges but ones that only will get bigger the longer they delay.


Four previously abundant species of BUMBLEBEE are close to disappearing in the United States, researchers reported on Monday in a study confirming that the agriculturally important bees are being affected worldwide. They documented a 96 percent decline in the numbers of the four species, and said their range had shrunk by as much as 87 percent. As with honeybees, a pathogen is partly involved, but the researchers also found evidence the bees are vulnerable to inbreeding caused by habitat loss. The findings are "alarming...These are one of the most important pollinators of native plants."In recent years, experts have documented a disappearance of bees in what is widely called colony collapse disorder, blamed on many factors including parasites, fungi, stress, pesticides and viruses, but most of those studies focused on honeybees.


Global fears are mounting over the safety of German meat due to contaminated animal feed, with South Korea banning pork imports and Slovakia suspending poultry sales, even as the EU declared there's no need for a ban. Germany's agriculture ministry on Saturdaysaid test results show acceptable levels of dioxin, a potentially cancer-causing chemical compound, in poultry and meat. Brussels does not consider there are grounds for declaring a ban on exports of German meat or other products from Germany "because the farms have been closed and farm products which have been delivered are blocked, awaiting analysis." Slovakia became the first EU country to impose restrictions on German meat, after it suspended sales of poultry meat and eggs while it conducted tests to assess dioxin levels. Russia's agriculture watchdog said it has stepped up controls on food of animal origin from Germany and also from other EU countries although it did not specify which ones fell under the tougher regime. The watchdog also warned that Russia could ban meat imports if it does not receive official information on the situation. "The European Union still lacks a system to react urgently to cases that could be dangerous for animals and humans."
German officials said on Friday they had shut 4700 farms and destroyed more than 100,000 eggs after tests showed dangerous levels of dioxin. The firm at the centre of the crisis is alleged to have supplied up to 3000 tonnes of contaminated fatty acids meant only for industrial use to around 25 animal feed makers. Most of this - 2500 tonnes - was delivered in November and December to animal feed producers in Lower Saxony, where it was used in fodder. Pressure mounted on the firm, which has been accused of fraud and tax evasion in addition to possibly breaking health regulations. "Lots of things lead us to think that the company cheated its clients and transformed fatty acids into low-quality feed for livestock." The crisis has moved swiftly beyond Germany's borders, with about 136,000 eggs from a suspect German farm exported at the beginning of December to the Netherlands and the European Commission saying tainted eggs may also have been imported to Britain. The Netherlands and Britain have both played down the public health risk.
Newly released test results have revealed much more of the toxic chemical in tainted animal feed than previously thought. The tests at the plant in northern Germany where the contamination happened revealed levels of dioxin at 77 TIMES THE PERMITTED LEVEL.
The plant produces fats to be used in industrial processes like paper-making as well as to enrich feeds for animals. Somehow, a substance containing dioxin which shouldn't have been used in food for animals found its way into (on the current reckoning) 3,000 tonnes of feed. Prosecutors are investigating whether that was by design, perhaps to save money, or by accident.
But the difficulty for the authorities as they try to reassure the public is that information keeps changing.
Initially the scare was confined to Germany, but then it emerged that a batch of affected eggs had been exported to the Netherlands for processing and from there to Britain. The processed eggs were destined for use in the production of a variety of foodstuffs including mayonnaise, cakes and quiches. Some 4,700 German farms have been banned from making deliveries. Authorities believe some 150,000 tons of feed for poultry and swine containing the fat have been fed to livestock across the country. The contaminated fats contained 58 nanograms of dioxin per kilogram. The acceptable limit is 0.75 nanograms of dioxin per kilogram. The ministry has confirmed that tests as far back as MARCH LAST YEAR showed high levels of dioxins, but it was unaware of the results until late December. Those results have now been seized as evidence by prosecutors. "The first indications point to a high level of illegal activity. There are indications that the company was not even officially registered, in order not to expose itself to official controls." A doctor from the town of Havixbeck, near Munster, has lodged a criminal complaint of attempted murder and severe injury against them, saying the company had acted out of greed. German agriculture officials will brief their European Union counterparts next week and the incident could lead to new rules on animal feed.

-Boncheff Greenhouses, Inc. of Toronto, Ontario, recalls Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., Budwey Markets, Wades Market, Cuba Giant Food Market, And Hegedorn's Cilantro, Curly Parsley, and Italian Parsley, because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.
-Sprouters Northwest, Inc. of Kent, WA, is recalling all of its clover and clover mix products because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.