Monday, June 20, 2011

The great shift from farm to city - It is the little-noticed force behind the revolutions in the Arab world, the new protests in China and the economic booms in India, Turkey and South America. THE LARGEST POPULATION SHIFT IN HUMAN HISTORY, currently at its peak, is probably the most significant, and misunderstood, global event of our time. Never in human history have so many people changed their locations and lifestyles so quickly. It offers opportunity, or danger.
In Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, hundreds of millions of people are rapidly moving from rural areas, where they practiced peasant agriculture, to cities — a shift that makes itself felt in the rough-and-tumble transitional neighborhoods where rural migrants first land, both in their own countries and in places like the United States, where they are make up the largest group of immigrants. We need to pay attention to these neighborhoods, and to the huge demographic shift that is shaping them, for they are where either the next great economic opportunity or the next wave of violence and conflict will be born.
Each month, there are 5 million new city dwellers created through migration or birth in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. China alone has an estimated 200 million "floating" citizens with one foot in a village and the other in a city. If current trends continue as expected, between 2000 and 2030, the urban population of Asia and Africa will double, adding as many city dwellers in one generation as these continents have accumulated during their entire histories. Between now and 2050, the world's cities will add another 3.1 billion people. This will be matched by an almost as dramatic decline in rural population. The United Nations Population Division predicts that the population of the world's villages and rural areas will stop growing around eight years from now and that, by 2050, the rural population will have fallen by 600 million due to migration to cities and urban encroachment on villages.
This is the same shift that transformed Europe and North America from peasant to urban life in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. That transition gave us both the violent revolutions and teeming slums of that period, but it also triggered, in the West, the end of starvation as a mass phenomenon, a vast rise in living standards and the end of uncontrollable population growth.
The world has gone from being more than 70% peasant in 1950 to 50% urban today. By 2025, 60% of the world will live in cities; by 2050, more than 70%; and by century's end, the entire world will almost certainly be as urban as we are in the West.
These neighborhoods want to succeed. They can be the birthplace of a new middle class, as many of America's immigrant neighborhoods have been. But they can also spiral into violent failure and threaten entire countries when barriers are placed in the way of migrants' natural inclination to succeed. This is a population shift that will affect almost everyone, in every country. Never before have so many people reached for the bottom rung of urban success. Our challenge is to make sure there is a second rung waiting for the next wave of brave ex-villagers.

**Everything is backwards;
everything is upside down.
Doctors destroy health,
lawyers destroy justice,
universities destroy knowledge,
governments destroy freedom,
the major media destroy information,
and religions destroy spirituality.**
Michael Ellner

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -

Antarctic Region Hit By Series Of Moderate Earthquakes - A 5.5 magnitude earthquake struck the South Sandwich Islands region, situated around 750km south east of South Georgia, in the South Atlantic early Sunday. It was the latest in a series of quakes to hit the Antarctic Region during the past 24 hours. The moderate quake struck at 9.37am GMT at a depth of 137km and was centred 69 km (42 miles) NNW of Visokoi Island and 330 km (205 miles) NNW of Bristol Island.
The last significant earthquake to be recorded in the South Sandwich Islands region occurred on 08 December 2010 when a magnitude 6.5 quake struck 85 km (55 miles) ENE of Visokoi Island. The unpopulated islands consist of a chain of eleven volcanic islands, connected by a low submarine ridge, bending in an arc around 400km long. They are an overseas dependency of the UK, but also claimed by Argentina. The 337km islands lie 750 km (470 miles) south east of South Georgia in the South Atlantic Ocean.
The Pacific–Antarctic Ridge (PAR) is a divergent tectonic plate boundary located on the seafloor of the South Pacific Ocean, separating the Pacific Plate from the Antarctic Plate. It is regarded as the southern section of the East Pacific Rise in some usages, generally south of the Challenger Fracture Zone and stretching to the Macquarie Triple Junction south of New Zealand. (quake map)

Scientists discover new California quake fault that could burst dam and drown thousands. A new earthquake-producing fault has been discovered in California - to the surprise of scientists who thought they had found all of the state’s seismic danger spots. The Polaris line, at only 22 miles long, is a dwarf compared to the San Andreas Fault, which stretches 800 miles and has triggered some of the world’s biggest tremors. But, worryingly, it could be powerful enough to cause an earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter Scale and flood a valley by smashing a dam. If it broke, the Martis Creek Dam has the potential to deluge the homes of 16,000 people in nearby Truckee and flood waters could travel 35 miles to Reno, Nevada, where 220,000 people live.
Experts already knew of two faults near the structure, which is one of 10 American dams classified as having ‘urgent and compelling’ safety concerns. But this latest discovery has dumbfounded geologists from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who found the fault using laser imaging technology known as LiDAR. ‘We weren't expecting it at all.' The most recent earthquake caused by the Polaris fault, named after a nearby former mining town, was 15,000 years ago. However, this is recent enough for it to be considered active.
The fault could produce an earthquake with up to a 6.5 to 6.9 magnitude. And because the fault connects to two others near the dam, the magnitude could be even higher if they ruptured at the same time. Due to the risk of a rupture from another fault that runs directly under Martis Creek Dam, the Corps, which owns the structure, already keep water levels as low as possible. But since the Polaris sits between the dam and its spillway, if the levels were higher than usual, a very big earthquake could potentially flood parts of gambling mecca Reno.
Although the find is a surprise, scientists believe there may be hundreds of unknown faults around the world. Throughout the east face of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, there are probably quite a few systems are undiscovered but responsible for a large portion of tectonic movement.
The largest recorded Californian tremor was the 1857 Fort Tejon, with an estimated magnitude of 8.0. It caused a 225-mile long rupture but did relatively little damage. The most destructive quake to date was the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which measured 7.9 on the Richter scale. More than 3,000 people died in the quake and subsequent fires. More recently, the 6.9-magnitude 1989 Loma Prieta tremor killed 63 people and left up to 12,000 homeless in the San Francisco Bay area. In 1994 the 6.7-magnitude Northridge earthquake hit the Greater Los Angeles area, killing 33 people and causing an estimated $20billion in damage, making it one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history.




Tropical Storm Beatriz forms in East Pacific - The National Hurricane Center in Miami is tracking Tropical Storm Beatriz, which formed Sunday in the Eastern Pacific off southwestern Mexico. Forecasters predicted it would be near hurricane strength by late today.


China floods: Millions affected by deadly downpours - More than FIVE MILLION people are now reported to have been affected by deadly floods in eastern China. Torrential rain is continuing, leaving large parts of Zhejiang and Hubei provinces under water. Nearly 1,000 businesses were being disrupted and crops destroyed, pushing up food prices. This month's FLOODING - THE WORST SINCE 1955 - has already left about 170 people dead or missing. The government has mobilised troops to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people. China's disaster alert has been raised to the highest level, four. Downpours earlier this week triggered landslides that buried houses and killed at least two people in Zhejiang and another two in Hubei.
The floods come after months of crop-destroying drought in the centre and north of the country. Some areas along the Yangtze River have suffered their WORST DROUGHT IN HALF A CENTURY. Despite the rain, officials have warned that the crop shortages and dislocation caused by drought will remain severe. Analysts say crop shortages in China could affect prices around the world.

U.S. - Homes were evacuated and roads closed in two counties in north-west Missouri today as the Missouri River again topped levees. Communities all along the river are preparing for a summer of high water after significant snow melt and UNUSUALLY heavy spring rains upstream. An unexpected two-foot (61cm) rise in the river over a 24-hour period led to water spilling over a levee in Atchison County early today, prompting evacuations in Watson, Phelps City and Langdon. One estimate suggested more than 500 residents had left their homes.
Meanwhile a hole in the side of a levee in Holt County continued to grow today, deluging the state park and recreational area of Big Lake, 125km north of Kansas City. The town of Big Lake, with a population of 159, was inundated today. "It's kind of like a ghost town."
A flooding alert was also issued today for a nuclear power plant in Columbus, south-east Nebraska, because of high river water. The "NOTIFICATION OF UNUSUAL EVENT" sent to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was expected as the river swells ABOVE RECORD LEVELS. The declaration was the least serious of four emergency notifications established by the federal commission, and the Cooper plant was still operating at full capacity. A meeting of political leaders, emergency officials and representatives of the US Army Corps of Engineers will occur in Missouri state capital Jefferson City toda to discuss this summer's potential flooding.

INDIA - Heavy rain threatens dykes. Incessant rain and strong wind have started threatening river embankments at various places in South and North 24-Parganas and East and West Midnapore. Embankments are already in a sorry state as they remain unrepaired since Cyclone Aila damaged considerable portions across the state in 2008.
There were reports of damage to embankments in Contai and Khejuri in East Midnapore, Gosaba and Basanti in South 24-Parganas and Sandeshkhali and Barirhat in North 24-Parganas. In Basirhat, Ichhamati breached an embankment while damage has been noticed along Rupnarayan in Kolaghat.tnnEngineers from the irrigation department rushed to all these areas. Cyclone Aila had damaged most of 778-km long embankments in the Sunderbans, some facing the sea, others along rivers. Permanent reconstruction of these embankments would take time and would involve acquisition of some land as well.
Rainfall between 65mm and 125mm was described as 'heavy' while Kolkata recorded more than 150mm rainfall on Friday. The irrigation department was in touch with authorities of DVC, Mayurakshi and Kangsabati dams so that there was no sudden release of water from these reservoirs. The department was also in touch with the Jharkhand government on Friday. "There is no such immediate possibility." Timely action by the irrigation department to open sluice gates and putting pumps into action perhaps saved the city from further inundation during the day. The sluice gates at Bagjola and Bantala were opened in the morning so that the accumulated water in the city could flow out. The pumping station at Chowbhaga was also put into operation to drain out water from the Panchanantala area.


U.S. - High winds force evacuations near Southwest fires. Authorities ordered more evacuations Sunday as crews battling a pair of wildfires in Arizona and one on the New Mexico line faced EXTREMELY high winds that drove flames across containment lines and toward populated areas.


Japan scientist discovers a way to create edible steaks from sewage containing human feces - Food shortage solution - synthesize food from human waste matter. A researcher has developed steaks based on proteins from human excrement. Tokyo Sewage approached the scientist because of an overabundance of sewage mud. They asked him to explore the possible uses of the sewage and Ikeda found that the mud contained a great deal of protein because of all the bacteria.
The researchers then extracted those proteins, combined them with a reaction enhancer and put it in an exploder which created the artificial steak. The “meat” is 63% proteins, 25% carbohydrates, 3% lipids and 9% minerals. The researchers color the poop meat red with food coloring and enhance the flavor with soy protein. Initial tests have people saying it even tastes like beef.
"The meatpacking industry causes 18 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions, mostly due to the release of methane from animals.” Livestock also consume huge amounts of resources and space in efforts to feed ourselves as well as the controversy over cruelty to animals. The recycled 'poop burger' would reduce waste and emissions. The scientists hope to price it the same as actual meat, but at the moment the excrement steaks are ten to twenty times the price they should be thanks to the cost of research. The researchers understand the psychological barriers that need to be surmounted knowing that your food is made from human feces. They hope that once the research is complete, people will be able to overlook that ugly detail in favor of perks like environmental responsibility, cost and the fact that the meat will have fewer calories.

Damages in the U.S. From This Year's 8 Extreme Weather Events Already Total $32 Billion - Through mid-June 2011, an UNPRECEDENTED eight extreme weather events have become billion-dollar disasters in the US.

Insurers count the cost of natural catastrophes in Australia - Short-term profitability has been crunched as more than $1 billion in claims was paid out to the victims of Cyclone Yasi and the devastating Queensland floods, and still more continue to come from the string of natural disasters that struck Queensland.

Disaster management conference to tackle fallout from natural disasters, including global food crisis - the 21st World Conference on Disaster Management is being held in Toronto - Sunday, June 19, through Wednesday.
The first six months of 2011 have brought image after image of human misery and ecological upheaval. Droughts, wildfires, twisters, floods, heat waves, extreme blizzards — just about every natural disaster you can imagine has hit just about every place on the planet. How to handle them, how to survive them, how to clean up and rebuild after them are among the many issues that will be on the agenda for nearly 1,500 government officials, scientists and businesspeople from 40 different countries. Top will be the expected world food crisis that all this extreme weather is already causing, driving harvests down and prices up to record levels.
“When the major networks become weather networks, and when other news becomes sort of secondary, we are facing disaster. When you have a lot of local disasters, droughts and floods and heat waves as we’re now having, reducing the food supply, then you have a global disaster...The U.S. is a good example. We have simultaneously some of the worst droughts and forest fires, on the southern plains, at the same time as we have some of the worst rain and flooding, on the northern plains. Soils are so wet we are having trouble getting the crops in. That extends into Canada, too, with getting the wheat planted this year. The USDA has already reduced the estimate of the wheat harvest in both the U.S. and Canada because of the late planting. We will probably never be faced with a food shortage (here). We will be faced with high food prices because we’re exporting so much product to Third World countries that it’s driving prices up.”
Here in North America, at least in the short term, this will probably mean a bump in the price of bread, a blip in the cost of beef. Our food budgets are about 10 to 15 per cent of our disposable income. But in most countries, where billions are living on the edge of starvation and spending up to 80 per cent of their income on food, it will mean conflict, famine, refugee crises and death.
Things can get worse, much worse. Many nations will simply collapse and there will be unimaginable political headaches. Which is why there will be more to the conference than food shortages. “In the past, obviously after 9/11, we focused heavily on terrorism and the London bombings. So there was a big terrorism aspect to the conference. Now we’re looking at natural disasters as a growing concern.”
Right now in some U.S. cities, there’s money to be made in adapting to climate change. They’re building more seawalls, levees and dams in an effort to head off floods, planting trees that are more suited to warmer rather than temperate climates, considering urban rooftop agriculture and preparing for pandemics caused by the migration of tropical diseases. But these are mere patch jobs on the inescapable tsunami of climate change disaster headed our way. “We have to take this seriously. We have to cut carbon emissions not 80% by 2050 but 80% by 2020. We now have to look at changing the system.”