Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dutch Scientists Predict Insects Could Be Future Food - It may not look like agriculture yet but it could be in the future. As the world's population booms and food prices rocket - mealworms and grasshoppers could be the answer. They produce much smaller quantities of greenhouse gases than cattle and pigs. "Insects are certainly a solution, because I think they are environmentally much more friendly, they are much more efficient in converting the feed to meat." The United Nations says food prices hit an all time high last month and could rise further on erratic global weather patterns. With the planet's population rising too, future generations may have little choice.

**Everything that we see is a shadow
cast by that which we do not see. **
Martin Luther King, Jr.

This morning -

Yesterday -
1/18/11 -

A strong earthquake measuring 7.2 has hit south-western Pakistan, in a desert area bordering Iran and Afghanistan. The quake struck at 0123 on Wednesday (2023 GMT on Tuesday), some 55 km (34 miles) west of Dalbandin in Pakistan, at a depth of 84km (52 miles). It was located several hundred kilometres from the Pakistani city of Quetta and the city of Zahedan, Iran. The quake happened at a depth of just 10km (6.2 miles). Earthquakes at such a shallow depth have the potential to cause major destruction and loss of life. Officials in nearby towns indicated that damage was not extensive. A later bulletin from the USGS revised the depth of the quake to 84km, potentially limiting the effects.
The area hit by the recent earthquake is sparsely populated and is located in a seismically active zone. The nearest town, Dalbandin, 55km east of the epicentre, is thought to have a population of about 15,000 people. Much of the area is so remote that the Chagai hills area of Balochistan was used as a site for the country's nuclear test in 1998. However, major population centres are relatively close to the quake's epicentre. The Iranian city of Zahedan, some 310km (195 miles) west of the quake, is home to some 570,000 people. The historic Iranian city of Bam, west of Zahedan, was devastated by an earthquake in 2003. In Pakistan, the Balochistan provincial capital of Quetta is also home to 560,000 people. Pakistan is still dealing with the aftermath of devastating floods in the 2010 monsoon season, as well as battling Taliban militants in several tribal areas
Panic-stricken people rushed out of their homes in Pakistan late on Tuesday night after the strong earthquake shook parts of the country. The earthquake emanated from a remote part of Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province which borders Iran and Afghanistan. It was powerful enough that its tremors were felt as far as Dubai in the Middle East.
The earthquake's intensity was just below that of another earthquake measuring 7.6 that struck parts of northern Pakistan in 2005 and killed more than 70,000 people in one of the world's biggest humanitarian tragedies.. Government officials warned Pakistan will live with the danger of possible aftershocks in coming days. In some instances such aftershocks have come within a week of previous earthquakes. "I have heard of cracks in some buildings but that is not across the board. The damage seems to have been done mostly to older buildings."
In Pakistan's capital Islamabad a western diplomat warned that further damage from the earthquake, notably any of its aftershocks, could seriously undermine Pakistan's future, right at a time when the U.S. is urging the country to extend more cooperation in its campaign to fight militants. "A humanitarian crisis in Pakistan caused by the earthquake will only undermine U.S. interests. As it is, we must all worry about instability in a country armed with nuclear weapons and with political and economic problems."

Long Overdue, the Eastern Mediterranean Awaits an Inevitable Big Quake - The last major tremor occurred almost 1,000 years ago and the next one is about 600 years late. Devastating earthquakes ripped through Chile and Haiti last year, killing thousands and leaving destroyed cities smoldering in their wake. Could something similar be in store for the countries of the eastern Mediterranean in the near future?
While the area that encompasses Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria has suffered destructive earthquakes before, the kind of tremors that scientists classify as great — between a magnitude of seven or eight on the Richter scale — haven’t ripped through the region in almost a millennia. The lull in activity means the Holy Land and the surrounding region could soon be in store for a deadly rocker, scientists say. “Most large earthquakes that are very destructive came in areas were there had been a long period of quiet, which is called a seismic gap. For Israel this is very worrying.” Israel’s National Infrastructure Ministry launched a campaign January 11 to heighten awareness of the danger. The ministry is planning to set up an early-warning system that will relay information from seismographs to the public in a matter of seconds. That should be enough time for people to leave their homes and/or enter a protected room, something homes constructed in the last two decades are required to have to protect against missile attacks.
The countries of the eastern Mediterranean sit on the Dead Sea Fault, a 1,100-kilometer (680-mile) line where two tectonic plates under the earth’s surface meet. When they rub together it causes earthquakes. Indeed, earthquakes have long been a part of the region’s history. A massive earthquakehit in 33 B.C.and three more large earthquakes devastated the region in 363 AD, 749, and 1033 - at roughly 400-year intervals. While small earthquakes that can only be detected with seismological equipment rumble in the region every day, the last medium-sized earthquake to hit the region was in 1927, just north of the Dead Sea. That earthquake had a magnitude of 6.2. But a large earthquake is long overdue. “It will happen for sure, it’s only a question of when.”
Seismologists say the earthquake will probably strike between the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee, or in the Arava region, which stretches between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba on the Israeli-Jordanian border. They also stress that a large earthquake would be felt by Israel’s neighbors, as well. For its part, Jordan, Israel’s neighbor to the east, worries of a large magnitude earthquake striking along the fault line, as well.


PHILIPPINES - Restive Bulusan Volcano in Sorsogon acted up again onTuesday, spewing ash in a predawn explosion before dawn. The quake occurred at 2:58 a.m., accompanied by a rumbling sound audible at Monbon village in Irosin town. "(But) the explosion was not observed because the volcano summit was covered by thick clouds. Field investigation conducted this morning confirmed the presence of traces of ash deposits in Monbon, Irosin." Bulusan's alert level remains at "1." The alert level had been at "1" since November last year. The volcanologists added the source of Tuesday's activity was "hydrothermal and shallow."

No current tropical cyclones.


AUSTRALIA - Bureau of Meteorology experts last year told the Government to prepare for A HAMMERING THE LIKES OF WHICH HAVE NOT BEEN SEEN FOR ALMOST 40 YEARS. The Cabinet received a direct briefing from weather bureau experts last year about what to expect. "We took the UNPRECEDENTED step of actually inviting the weather bureau to come and formally present to the cabinet, because we were expecting a very severe weather pattern throughout the wet season, the likes of which the weather bureau tells us we haven't seen since the early 1970s. We certainly are on full alert....As much as we're focusing on recovery, you can rest assured our emergency response people are regrouping and ready for the possibility of any further event. This is our wet season. It's also cyclone season. We haven't seen a cyclone, touch wood we won't see one. But we're prepared for it if it comes." Queensland is on alert for more extreme weather in coming months. Severe weather patterns are expected across the state as the wet season rolls on.
The town of Grantham is littered with evidence of the terror residents felt when deadly flash floods swept through the community nine days ago. Returning residents are reliving a terrifying and traumatic event. People were standing in the kitchen one minute and 30 minutes later they were kicking out a hole in the roof and throwing their children on top of it. The people of Grantham have a very difficult few weeks ahead as they came to grips with their losses. The scale of the recovery is vast, including the homelessness crisis facing flood-affected communities across the state. "We have a massive temporary homelessness situation," with people forced out of flooded homes unable to return for months. "People don't realise that when this sort of water goes through inside homes, up to three or four foot. It all has to be stripped, everything has to be taken out of it, it all has to be rebuilt and you can't live in it during that time." It was too soon to say if the state would have to go into debt to fund the recovery, but some projects would have to be put on the backburner. "When you have an event like this, it can't be business as usual." (amazing photo)

SRI LANKA - Weather experts warned Sri Lankan to be prepared for extreme weather changes with hardly any notice following devastating floods here that have affected over one million people. "Global weather patterns are changing, we should be prepared for extreme changes," the head of Meteorological Department said as the country battled floods in the east as temperatures island-wide dropped to SIXTY-YEAR LOWS. The drop in temperature was caused by the cloud cover over the island. Colombo registered a temperature of 18.8C, while the central Nuwera Eliya highlands fell to a single digit - 7C. The island is facing the La Nina phenomenon during which temperatures near the Equator have dropped by as much as 5C. "We better be ready to face any kind of weather." According to reports on Jan. 14, the two-plus weeks of flooding had killed 27 and left 12 missing. Over 18,000 houses, 200 small and large reservoirs and parts of 152 major and minor roads were in need of repair after the floods.
The assessment that extreme weather patterns were becoming common is substantiated by the growing frequency of flash flooding on the island. Since May of 2010, the island has been ravaged by flash flooding on three occasions - marooning a total of 2.2 million persons. The largest and worst being the latest. In May 2010, over 675,000 were affected by flash floods in the western and southern regions, including the capital Colombo. Parts of the same area went under water in November leaving around 375,000 marooned. By far the latest flooding has been most destructive, its aftermath was only second to the 2004 Asian tsunami.
The U.N.’s Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System rated it as an EXTREME EVENT that is not likely to reoccur in another 100 years. Heavy rains between Dec. 26 and Jan. 11 caused havoc. Large reservoirs in Sri Lanka’s northern and central regions quickly reached spill levels and sluice gates were opened by the irrigation engineers to prevent the banks from bursting. "This is monumental. have never seen anything like this before." When the water was released, some of it flowed on land where buildings had been built. This time the rains were so heavy - Batticaloa, an eastern town, received over 300 millimetres in one day, the HIGHEST IN OVER 100 YEARS.
Most of the flash floods that the capital Colombo has experienced in the last six months have been blamed on human interference. Experts contend that blocked drainage networks as well as filled marsh land left rainwater with nowhere to flow, especially when the rains are extremely heavy. Soon after the November floods the government decided to widen several water tanks in areas closer to Colombo in an effort to mitigate future flooding. During heavy rains in mid-November some parts of the capital became virtually impassable with floodwaters clogging intersections and prompting massive traffic jams. The recurring floods have left steep recovery and assistance bills. In 2010 the government spent over 100 million rupees (over 1 million dollars) as assistance and for relief efforts during the floods. The latest flooding is likely to add to the burden. A rough estimate said that the damages from the latest floods would cost over 30 billion rupees.
As the enormity of the flooding became clear, the government made an official request to the UN for assistance. The World Food Programme (WFP) pledged food aid for 400,000 affected people worth 55 million rupees. The U.N. was expected to make a flash appeal to donors to secure funding for the flood relief - it said that funding was dangerously low and the WFP warned of relief drying out if immediate funding was )not received. Over 400,000 acres of paddy land was badly damaged by the recent floods. Vegetable prices are also spiking following the flooding.