World Population Awareness

Environmental Impacts from
Unsustainable Population Growth

August 20, 2015

Carrying Capacity

The one process ongoing ... that will take millions of years to correct is the loss of genetic and species diversity by the destruction of natural habitats. This is the folly our descendants are least likely to forgive us.   E.O. Wilson doclink

since loading this page ...The world has added PEOPLE (2.8 /sec. net)
and lost acres of WILD LANDS (1.6 acres/sec)

  • Half of the world's wetlands were lost last century.
  • Logging and conversion have shrunk the world's forests by as much as half.
  • Some 9 percent of the world's tree species are at risk of extinction; tropical deforestation may exceed 130,000 square kilometers per year.
  • Fishing fleets are 40 percent larger than the ocean can sustain.
  • Nearly 70 percent of the world's major marine fish stocks are overfished or are being fished at their biological limit.
  • Soil degradation has affected two-thirds of the world's agricultural lands in the last 50 years.
  • Some 30 percent of the world's original forests have been converted to agriculture.
  • Since 1980, the global economy has tripled in size and population has grown by 30 percent to 6 billion people.
  • Dams, diversions or canals fragment almost 60 percent of the world's largest rivers.
  • Twenty percent of the world's freshwater fish are extinct, threatened or endangered.
  •   People and Ecosystems, the Fraying Web of Life March 2000, United Nations Development Programme doclink

    The Oceans

    Coral in Peril

    January 1999, National Geographic magazine

    In just the past few decades, pollution, overfishing, dense coastal
    development, and other forces have destroyed a tenth of the
    Earth's coral reefs and seriously degraded almost a third. At this
    rate, scientists warn, nearly three-quarters could lie in ruins. doclink

    Safeguarding the Health of Oceans

    March 25, 1999, World Watch Institute

    Seven out of 10 commercial fish species are fully or overexploited. The
    number of poisonous algal species identified by
    scientists has nearly tripled since 1984, increasing fish kills, beach
    closures, and economic losses. 80 percent of oceanic pollution originates on
    land. People obtain an average of 16 percent of their animal protein from
    fish. About 2 billion people-one third of humanity-live within 100
    kilometers of a coastline. Turning the Tide to Save
    Oceans - Citizens and Governments Build New Alliances

    World Ocean Heartbeat Fading? 'Nasty' Signs North Atlantic Thermohaline Circulation is Weakening

    March 23, 2015, Robertscribbler

    Scientists call it Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). But we may as well think of it as the heartbeat of the world ocean system. And when that heartbeat begins to slow down, we'd best sit up and start paying attention:

    Near Greenland in the North Atlantic, salty, dense, ocean water issuing from the tropics along the Gulf Stream begins to cool. The heavier water, burdened with salt, sinks to the bottom in the North Atlantic. This drives a massive ocean conveyer belt, driving less oxygen rich bottom waters to the surface where they can be reinvigorated. It also drives this ocean revitalizing train of currents through every major corner of the world ocean.

    However, scientists have been warning policymakers for 30 years that this salt and heat driven (thermohaline) circulation could be disrupted, reducing oxygen levels throughout the whole ocean system, and greatly reducing the oceans' ability to support life and shifting one step closer to the nightmare ocean state called a Canfield Ocean.

    This disruption could be caused by warmer, salty water cooling and sinking in the North Atlantic. And any disruption of the overturning process in the North Atlantic basically kills off a life-giving circulation to the entire world ocean system.

    For details and graphs, click on the link in the headline. doclink

    Why Ocean Health is Better and Worse Than You Think

    The good news is the world’s oceans have not experienced the extinctions that have occurred on land. But as ecologist Douglas McCauley explains in a Yale Environment 360 interview, marine life now face numerous threats even more serious than overfishing.
    February 18, 2015, Yale Environment 360   By: Fen Montaigne

    A group of marine experts published a study in the journal Science which drew conclusions that were both heartening and disturbing: While ocean ecosystems are still largely intact, the marine world is facing unprecedented disturbance, including acidification from the absorption of greenhouse gases and widespread habitat destruction from deep-sea mining, oil and gas drilling, development, and aquaculture.

    Lead author Douglas McCauley, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, noted that, while there was a sixth mass extinction that's been happening, the sixth mass extinction is not underway in the oceans. However the bad news is that there were a lot of data suggesting that we're in a really important transition zone and we seem to be on the verge of transitioning from an era in which harvesting and fishing of marine resources has been the main driver of impoverishing biological diversity to one in which massive habitat change and, `global chemical warfare' (acidification) may be waged on the oceans.

    "If you hunt individuals intensely that's going to have negative impacts, but if you go through and actually ravage the homes of these animals, it's going to be a lot harder to recover and the impacts are going to be more profound," he said.

    "Look at the way we are impacting coral reef cover, the way that fish farming is eating up mangrove forest, the amount of factory building that we are doing in the oceans for energy production. Seabed mining can only be described as a gold rush that's underway under the ocean now."

    "Let's keep our eyes on this emerging rising tide of industrialization in the oceans."

    "There are just so many more of us on the planet that have so much higher energy and resource needs, and that we have to start reaching into the oceans for things that we require in our everyday lives."

    We just need to be smarter about how to industrialize the ocean and put industry in the right places. "If we need to develop a section of the oceans that turns out to have really bad impacts for wildlife, we need to do remediation somewhere else."

    "There are millions and millions of dollars that are being invested to build technological capacity to mine minerals, and they are talking about doing this in the deepest parts of the oceans. And the numbers involved are a bit scary -- a million square kilometers that have been staked out in this marine gold rush"

    "There are two major changes that are happening in the oceans as a result of climate change - changing temperature and acidification.""We need to keep climate change and climate change effects on the oceans -- and what this means for wildlife -- at the top of our agenda."

    Some of the "corals are beginning to show the capacity for resiliency to cope with some of these temperature increases.". "So what we need to do is basically slow down the rate of the advance of climate change."

    "We need more parks and protected areas in the ocean. It's something that we need to very actively tell our policy makers to do."

    "The processes of engaging and slowing marine defaunation is made triply hard because large parts of the oceans have no owners. But there is a growing awareness that we need to build international alliances to think about marine wildlife issues." doclink

    The Disaster We've Wrought on the World's Oceans May Be Irrevocable

    July 2, 2014, Newsweek   By: Alex Renton

    Rising greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are causing global temperatures to rise, which is leading to the melting of the polar ice caps, which in turn has resulted in rising sea levels and a host of ecological issues.

    On the fish counters of Barcelona's central market, thousands of sea creatures making up dozens of species are on display. But by the end of this century, many of these animals may be history due to man's reckless abuse of the planet. The oceans are taking up the greenhouse gases that we dump into the air, which turns the waters deadly to its inhabitants.

    Many species on the market's fish counters are also on one or more European "at-risk" lists: under threat because of overfishing or changes in the chain of foods that supply them, or from the bigger threat of the changing ocean biogeochemistry. Bivalves such as clams, oysters and mussels use calcium carbonate to make their shells. However, in as little as 20 years they will be very different and, in some parts of the world, entirely gone.

    Other sea creatures with shells don't make their shells the same way but the acidification appears to harm the working of the gills and change the behavior of the crustaceans when they are very young.

    This acidification is the fastest change in the ocean's chemistry in 300 million years, according to scientists.

    A significant amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere comes from the burning of carbon fuels. Carbon dioxide is absorbed by seawater, lowering the pH level and increasing its acidity. "In preindustrial times the ocean's pH was 8.2. It has already gone down to 8.1," says Carles Pelejero, a scientist working in Barcelona. "Depending on what we do, it will reach an average of 7.8 or 7.7 by 2100. It hasn't been that low for 55 million years."

    The ocean is a key food supply for more than 3 billion of us.

    Along the coasts and out in the deep, huge "dead zones" have been multiplying. They are the emptiest places on the planet, where there's little oxygen and sometimes no life at all, almost entirely restricted to some unicellular organisms like bacteria. Vast blooms of algae-organisms that thrive in more acid (and less alkaline) seawater and are fed by pollution-have already rendered parts of the Baltic Sea pretty much dead. A third of the marine life in that sea, which once fed all of Northern Europe,

    What worries Pelejero most is the rapidity of today's changes. The same shifts that happened over the course of a few thousand years during the PETM (Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum) are now due to happen over just a few centuries, counting from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the widespread use of fossil fuels.

    One ray of hope is that the Obama administration announced a series of measures aimed to conserve the ocean as a key food supply. These included more ocean sanctuaries to curtail overfishing, and new funds to research ocean biochemistry, including acidification. doclink

    Human Population Growth and Oceans

    May 31, 2014, Center for Biological Diversity

    Marine fish provide 15% of all animal protein consumed by humans. Under this intense pressure global fisheries are collapsing.

    A 2009 assessment found that 80% of fish stocks are either fully exploited, overexploited, or have collapsed. 90% of the world's large predatory fish are in decline. Of the 21 marine species known to have been driven extinct in the past 300 years, 16 disappeared since 1972 .

    A catch reduction of 20 - 50% is needed to make global fisheries sustainable, but the demand for fish is expected to increase by 35 million tons by 2030 due to increased consumption and a "rapidly increasing human population."

    In addition to overfishing impacts from commercial fishing, coral reefs -- anchors of biodiversity that support thousands of fish species and as many as a million species overall -- are often damaged or destroyed by trawlers and dredging.

    The global fish crisis has become so severe, scientists and wildlife managers are breaking the human population taboo, calling not only for reduced consumption and better regulation, but for alleviation of poverty and "stabilization of the world's human population" . doclink

    Modern Ocean Acidification is Outpacing Ancient Upheaval: Rate May Be Ten Times Faster

    June 2, 2014, ScienceDaily   By: Donald Penman

    In a study published in the latest issue of Paleoceanography, the scientists estimate that ocean acidity increased by about 100% in a few thousand years or more, and stayed that way for the next 70,000 years. In this radically changed environment, some creatures died out while others adapted and evolved. The study is the first to use the chemical composition of fossils to reconstruct surface ocean acidity at the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a period of intense warming on land and throughout the oceans due to high CO2.

    The oceans have absorbed about a third of the carbon humans have pumped into the air since industrialization, helping to keep earth's thermostat lower than it would be otherwise. But that uptake of carbon has come at a price. Chemical reactions caused by that excess CO2 have made seawater grow more acidic, depleting it of the carbonate ions that corals, mollusks and calcifying plankton need to build their shells and skeletons.

    For more, follow the link at doclink

    Canada: Acidic Water Blamed for West Coast Scallop Die-off

    Nanaimo-based Island Scallops has shut down its processing plant and laid off a third of its workforce
    February 25, 2014, Vancouver Sun   By: Randy Shore

    Ten million scallops that have died in the waters near Qualicum Beach due to rising ocean acidity are the latest victims in a series of marine die-offs that have plagued the West Coast for a decade.

    Human-caused carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere are being absorbed by the ocean and may have pushed local waters through a "tipping point" of acidity beyond which shellfish cannot survive, according to Chris Harley, a marine ecologist at the University of B.C.

    Rising ocean acidity is a global phenomenon, made worse by higher natural acidity in local waters, Harley said.

    High acidity interferes with the ability of baby scallops to form a protective shell, forcing them to expend more energy and making them more vulnerable to predators and infection.

    Scallop operations big and small are reporting die-offs this year. Mysterious scallop die-offs have also been reported in China since 1996.

    Oyster die-offs in Washington state and Oregon dating back a decade have also been linked by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers to acidification and rising carbon dioxide levels.

    Oyster larvae started dying inexplicably in 2005. Researchers found that deep water welling up from the depths of the ocean was mixing with surface water rich in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, rendering the water uninhabitable to some shellfish. doclink

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    Wildlife Survival, Species Extinction, Biodiversity

    Biodiversity: The Fragile Web

    February 1999, National Geographic News

    Sixty five million years ago, say geologists, a meteorite made cataclysmic contact with Earth. It was the beginning of the end of the dinosaurs, Earth's last great extinction. The next great extinction will be more fizzle than fireworks. In fact, it's already begun. Biodiversity, the very variety of life, is under attack. Paving and populating, consuming and polluting, humans are causing More is at stake than simply the spice of life. Each species takes its
    secrets to the grave: potential solutions to coming crises, possible cures to medical mysteries. doclink

    Booming Populations, Rising Economies, Threatened Biodiversity: the Tropics Will Never Be the Same

    July 7, 2014,   By: Jeremy Hance

    The tropics cover around 40% of the world's surface. A 400-plus page report on the tropics, compiled by 12 institutions, found incredible population growth, rising economic importance, clashes over land-use, imperiled biodiversity, and worsening impacts of climate change.

    The tropics are home to about 40% of the world's population, but house 55% of children under five. Within 40 years, it is expected that more than half the world's population will be in the tropics and a staggering 67% of its young children. According to the report, the region is expected to add another 3 billion people (or 42% of the world's population today) by the end of the century.

    "Because most of the world's children will live in the Tropics by 2050, we must rethink the world's priorities on aid, development, research and education," author Sandra Harding, Vice-Chancellor and President of James Cook University said. For example, it is estimated that around 467 million people in the tropics lived in slums as of 2001, representing 46% of the region's urban population.

    A booming population means increased demand for food, water, and other natural resources internally, even while many of these resources are already exported abroad to temperate regions.

    Tropical economies are growing 20% more rapidly than in temperate regions, yet the tropics is still home to two-thirds of the world's population living in extreme poverty.

    There is also good news according to the report: "The prevalence of undernourishment in the tropics has declined by one-third over the past two decades." And life expectancy is on the rise while maternal and child mortality has been slashed. Such changes could.

    Unfortunately people in the tropics face especially challenging diseases rarely found in temperate regions such as dengue fever and malaria. And local people and indigenous groups are struggling to maintain control over their traditional lands as corporations -- often foreign -- seek out more land to grow crops, raise livestock, or extract commodities such as timber, fossil fuels, and minerals. Land-grabbing, as it is known, has become a significant political issue in places like Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, Kenya, and Cameroon.

    At the same time, conservationists and environmentalists are fighting to preserve rainforests, coral reefs, and other vital ecosystems from destruction. Approximately 80% of the world's terrestrial biodiversity and more than 95% of its mangrove and coral reef-based biodiversity are in the tropics. doclink

    America's Vanishing Biodiversity

    August 21, 2001, USGS

    "In seven states once covered with native grasslands, less than 1% of the native tall grass prairie habitat remains," said USGS director Dr. Charles "Chip" Groat. "Losses are due to agriculture, grazing, urbanization and mineral extraction. The result is that native grassland bird species have shown more consistent, widespread and steeper declines than any other group of North American birds."

    In the U.S. Pacific Northwest, old growth forest logging has led to alarming declines in a number of birds and plants. At least 83% of the region's old growth Douglas fir forests have been destroyed, along with 75% of the coastal rain forests in Washington state. In California, 85% of the state's old growth redwoods have been cut down.

    Almost 60% of California fish species have gone extinct or are "on the road to extinction if present trends continue," the report states. More than half of the state's frog species are endangered or threatened.

    Californians have also eliminated 91% of the state's wetlands and 99 percent of grasslands. One in five of the state's 342 land bird species are listed as endangered by the state or federal governments.

    "Status and Trends of the Nation's Biological Resources"


    July 12, 1999, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    Working with more than 600 scientists, the World Conservation Union
    published a survey in 1996 estimating that one-fourth of all mammals and
    amphibians, one-fifth of all reptiles, more than one-third of all fish and
    11% of birds are in danger of extinction. doclink

    U.S.: Alien species: A Slow Motion Explosion


    According to a report by the federal government, exotic weeds, pests and
    diseases cause more damage in the U.S. than forest fires, tornadoes,
    flooding, earthquakes and mudslides. 2,000 alien plant species have been
    introduced. Non-native animal species cause an annual $123 billion worth of
    damage to crops, range land and waterways. Weeds consume 4,600 acres of
    wildlife habitat on public lands a day. The main mode of transport is by
    ships: 40,000 gallons of foreign ballast water are dumped into U.S. harbors
    each minute doclink

    The Sixth Extinction

    February 1999, National Geographic magazine

    50% of the world's flora and fauna could be on a path to extinction
    within a hundred years. 11% of birds, or 1,100 species out of the
    world's nearly 10,000, are on the edge of extinction. One in eight plants is
    at risk of becoming extinct. "We must ask ourselves if this is really what
    we want to do to God's creation?" doclink

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    seems to be the only hope for a new increase in harvests
    since the methods developed since the 60s that more than doubled world grain
    have lost their edge, and growth in grain productivity is slipping. Global
    demand for rice, wheat, and maize is expected to increase by 40% by 2020.
    But even if bioengineering does work, there still may not be enough water to
    grow the new crops and farmers may be forced to use so much fertilizer on
    marginal land that they will poison ecosystems and permanently damage soils. doclink

    New Report Reveals Dramatic Rise in Pesticide Use on Genetically Engineered (GE) Crops Due to the Spread of Resistant Weeds

    November 17, 2009, The Center for Food Safety

    GE crops of corn, soybeans and cotton have increased use of weed-killing herbicides by 383 million pounds from 1996 to 2008; 46% of the total increase occurred in 2007 and 2008. However, GE corn and cotton have reduced insecticide use by 64 million pounds, resulting in an overall increase of 318 million pounds of pesticides over the first 13 years of commercial use.

    A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report links the increase in pesticide use on GE, "herbicide-tolerant" (HT) crops to the emergence and spread of herbicide-resistant weeds. Farmers are already critical of GE crops because of drastically rising biotech seed prices.

    The agricultural biotechnology industry claims that the higher costs of GE seeds are justified by the decreased spending on pesticides. But the need to make additional herbicide applications in an effort to keep up with resistant weeds is also increasing cash production costs. Corn farmers planting GE hybrids in 2010 will spend around $124 per acre for seed, almost three times the cost of conventional corn seed. A new-generation "Roundup Ready" (RR) 2 soybean seed will cost 42% more than the original RR seeds they are displacing.

    Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, is now being resisted by weeds which are starting to infest millions of acres; farmers face rising costs coupled with sometimes major yield losses.

    A UCS report claims that engineered crops have largely failed to increase crop yields, despite the industry's consistent claims to the contrary. Dr. Margaret Mellon, food and environment program director for the Union of Concerned Scientists. said that "growth in pesticide use has important implications for farmers' bottom lines, public health and the health of the environment."

    "The most common type of genetically engineered crops promotes increased use of pesticides, an epidemic of resistant weeds, and more chemical residues in our foods. This may be profitable for the biotech/pesticide companies, but it's bad news for farmers, human health and the environment." doclink

    Karen Gaia says: the more people to feed, the more the pressure for technology to find a way to feed them, never mind how unnatural it is.

    USDA Backs Production of Rice With Human Genes

    March 1, 2007, The Kansas City Star

    The Agriculture Department has given preliminary approval for the commercial production of a food crop containing human genes.

    The plan calls for large-scale cultivation in Kansas of rice that produces human immune system proteins in its seeds.

    The proteins are to be extracted for use as an anti-diarrhea medicine and might be added to yogurt and granola bars.

    The idea is to help children with diarrhea get better faster. Protection should keep the engineered plants and their seeds from escaping.

    Critics say gene-altered plants migrate out of their home plots and could result in pharmacologically active proteins in the food of unsuspecting consumers.

    Als there would be little control over the doses people might get exposed to. Other companies grow such plants in vats and it is unwise to produce drugs in plants outdoors.

    Consumer advocacy groups also opposed the plans. Ventria has developed three varieties of rice, each with a different human gene that makes the plants produce one of three human proteins. Two are bacteria-fighting compounds found in breast milk and saliva.

    A study concluded that children with severe diarrhea recovered a day and a half faster if the fluids they were prescribed were spiked with the proteins.

    Production in plants is cheaper.

    The company is talking to the FDA about putting the proteins into health foods. Its third variety of rice makes a blood protein used in medical therapies.

    Ventria sought permission to grow its rice commercially on as many as 3,200 acres in Geary County, Kan. A previous plan to grow the rice in southern Missouri was dropped when Anheuser-Busch, the nation's largest rice buyer, threatened to stop buying rice from the state if the deal went through.

    Because no other rice is grown in Kansas the risk of escape or cross-fertilization is nil, the company said. It will mill seeds on site to minimize the risk of seeds getting mistakenly released or sold.

    The Agriculture Department concluded that the project posed no undue risks. The public can comment until March 30.

    The agency revealed that a type of rice seed in Arkansas had become contaminated with a different variety of genetically engineered rice, that was never released for marketing. The error was discovered in the investigation into the contamination of U.S. rice by another gene-altered variety, LL601, which has seriously disrupted rice exports.

    Those problems, along with the previous discovery of unapproved, gene-altered StarLink corn in food and the accidental release of crops that had been engineered to make a vaccine for pig diarrhea, undermine the USDA's credibility. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: as population grows, our lands will fail to produce enough food unless some drastic measures like GM foods are taken.

    Global Temps Set Record for Warmest Winter; NASA Also Reports That Earth Has Lost Some Aerosol 'Sunscreen'

    March 16, 2007,

    This winter was the warmest on record worldwide and the report comes after the IPCC said global warming is very likely caused by human actions. A NASA study report found that an important counter-balance to warming, sunlight blocked by pollution and other aerosol particles, appears to have weakened.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the combined land and ocean temperatures for December through February were 1.3 degrees F above average for the period since 1880.

    During the past century, global temperatures have increased at about 0.11 degrees per decade. But that increase has been three times larger since 1976. Most scientists attribute the rising temperatures to greenhouse gases that build up in the atmosphere and trap heat somewhat like a greenhouse.

    Also contributing to this winter's record warmth was an El Nino. It was particularly strong in January, but the ocean surface has since begun to cool.

    In the N. Hemisphere the combined land and water temperature was the warmest ever at 1.64 degrees above average. In the Southern Hemisphere, the temperature was 0.88 degree above average and the fourth warmest. doclink

    This Crop Revolution May Succeed Where GM Failed

    October 26, 2006, Tribuna Libre

    New technologies have made gene splicing and transgenic crops obsolete. The new technology is called marker-assisted selection (MAS) and offers a method to accelerate classical breeding. A growing number of scientists believe MAS will eventually replace GM food. Environmental organisations are guardedly supportive of MAS technology.

    Instead of using molecular splicing to transfer a gene, scientists are now using MAS to locate desired traits in other varieties or wild relatives of a particular crop, then crossbreeding those plants with the existing varieties. This reduces the risk of environmental harm. Using MAS, researchers can upgrade classical breeding, and cut the time needed to develop new plant varieties.

    Researchers at the US department of agriculture have used MAS to develop a strain of rice that is soft on the outside but remains firm on the inside after processing. Most of the transgenic crops introduced into the fields express only two traits, resistance to pests and compatibility with herbicides. There is still much work to be done in understanding the factors which interact to affect the development of the plant. Also, MAS is of value when used as part of an approach to farming that integrates new crop introductions with a proper regard for all factors that together determine the sustainability of farming.

    The continued introduction of GM crops could contaminate existing plant varieties. MAS technology is being looked at with interest within the EU. The struggle between a younger generation of sustainable-agriculture enthusiasts and entrenched scientists determined to maintain control over the world's seed stocks is likely to be hard-fought. MAS technology could be the right technology at the right time in history. doclink

    The New Harvest of GM Cotton

    June 1, 2005, IPS News

    Evidence from the fields shows Monsanto's claims about its BT cotton variety to be spurious. A study of 481 Chinese farmers in five provinces found that after seven years of cultivation they had to spray up to 20 times to deal with secondary insects, bringing a net income of 8% less than conventional cotton farmers. Failure of BT cotton crops in India resulted in the suicides of an estimated 700 farmers in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, to escape debt incurred by buying the expensive GM seed. BT crops have been attacked by a disease unseen before which affected BT more than the non-BT cotton crop. Genetic engineering and BT cotton will neither revolutionise the countryside nor improve food security, but a new farm economy based on the principle of food sovereignty and farmers' rights as the centrepiece of the country's economic development model will. doclink

    US Biotech Companies Urge Africa to Catch Up

    June 17, 2006, Islam Online

    Dow AgroSciences specializes in the provision of "innovative crop protection, seeds, and biotechnology solutions." The reluctance of African countries to establish regulatory frameworks to guide the use of biotechnology will be one of the continent's undoings. The continent faced the risk of isolation because of its reluctance to embrace biotechnology. Biotechnology has the potential to improve biodiversity, reduce insecticide use, advance food security and transform agriculture in the next 10 years.

    Africa's solution to drought and crop diseases may be in growing genetically engineered crops specifically tuned to resist weather conditions and mature quickly. This could result in saving crops from losses of harvests, which are followed by hunger and starvation. Nearly 200 million people in Africa are undernourished. The consequences are manifest in the prevalence of hunger and malnutrition. The FAO stated that 27 countries in sub-Saharan Africa were in need of urgent food assistance. They included Burundi, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, Somalia and Zimbabwe.

    Sub-Saharan Africa is home to almost one-quarter of the developing world's food-deprived people. Surveys revealed that 33% of African children are stunted, underweight, or emaciated. The majority of African countries still do not favor GMO crops or foods due to the lack of systems to safeguard biodiversity.

    This is so despite the fact that more than 35 countries have signed the Cartagena Protocol, that seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by biotechnology. Agricultural science and technology must work with local governments and scientists to make biotech available starting with capacity building and infrastructure for the approval of regulatory frameworks and adoption of the technology.

    Issues that need to be addressed,include the availability of seeds to farmers at affordable prices and providing safety procedures to protect human beings and the environment during field trials. This may not be possible if the governments do not understand people's needs and how technology can solve them. We cannot underestimate the importance of establishing strong regulatory frameworks to protect the environment and the food chain. Proponents of GMO argue that Africa has serious food gaps and should embrace biotechnology farming for enhanced food production and nutrients. Since 1996 , the global planted area of biotech crops has soared 4.2 million acres in six countries to 222 million acres in 21 countries in 2005.

    At present, most African countries cannot advance GM crop research because national policies or regulatory systems are not prepared to deal with safety requirements. Only South Africa and Nigeria have a specific policy for biotechnology.

    South Africa began growing its first genetically modified commercial crops in 2003, with cotton farmers reporting yields improved up to 89%. It was also among the 11 developing countries where biotech crops have increased income of 7 million poor farmers.

    Research is ongoing that is focusing on staple crops in many developing countries. These include rice, cassava, sweet potatoes, cowpea, banana and maize. Researches are focusing on problems such as disease resistance, drought tolerance, and pest resistance.

    Farming is the most important economic activity in Africa, occupying 60% to 80% of the population and contributing 30% to 50% of the GDP in African countries. Eighty percent of farming is in the hands of small-scale farmers and remains an unattractive occupation and those involved are members of the lowest rungs in the poverty index.

    Lands in developing countries, especially in Asia, are degraded due to exploitation and they must be helped to restore their soil fertility if they are to grow commercially attractive crops and compete in the global food economy. doclink

    Europe Bridles at WTO View on National Biotech Bans

    February 8, 2006, Reuters

    European countries bristled at a world trade ruling that touches on sovereignty over genetically modified (GMO) foods, with some saying they would do their level best to keep farming GMO-free. Europe's consumers are well known for their hostility to GMO crops, often dubbed as "Frankenstein foods." The biotech industry insists its products are perfectly safe, however, and no different to conventional foods. A WTO panel ruled that various EU countries had broken international rules by imposing national bans on specific GMOs. Some reacted angrily saying they would defend their legal right to block EU-approved products if they wanted. EU law dictates that bans must be scientifically justified. Austria has banned imports of three GMO maize types and is considering a ban on growing a GMO rapeseed and said they will be as restrictive as possible. Greece is against genetically modified foods. All prefectures have declared their area GMO-free and need to discuss with Brussels and scientists safeguards before lifting the ban. Last June, EU governments rebuffed attempts to order the five countries to lift their national GMO bans. The Commission did not think the bans justified, nor did the WTO. It also said the EU's de facto GMO moratorium between 1999 and 2003 broke world trade rules. France has a long-standing consumer opposition to biotech food and bans two types of GMO rapeseed but has allowed some small-scale growing of GMO maize. French consumer and farming groups deplored the WTO ruling, insisting that a majority of consumers opposed GMOs. A poll in France this week showed that 78% would like a temporary ban to evaluate their health and environmental impact. Green groups said consumer resistance has increased in Europe since the three major GMO growers filed their WTO complaint. U.S. officials regretted there was a level of misinformation in Europe about the benefits of biotech crops but hoped that the WTO ruling would let the EU open its doors more to GMO imports. In Argentina, officials said it was too early to contemplate seeking some kind of economic compensation from the EU. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: As demand for food increases with the growing population and farmland decreases, the need for GMO foods will grow and the pressure will be on to produce more food, whether or not it is safe.

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    Uganda: Will Mother Nature Survive Population Pressure?

    July 7, 2010, New Vision

    According to the UN Habitat report 2009, the population density in Kampala is so high, about 12 families occupy a single plot of land, and about 1.5 million people live in slums in Kampala. The wetlands and swamps have now been turned into residential areas because of the increase in population.

    This has caused environmental damage. In Kampala, damage to wetlands and swamps has resulted in floods, especially in Kalerwe, Bwaise, Kawempe, Zana, Ndeeba, Bwaise and Kanyanya. In the east and north east of Uganda, mudslides and floods are becoming common.

    The 20-year stability and improvement in livelihood and child mortality, coupled with a high fertility rate have contributed to a population growth rate of 3.3% compared to the global average of 1.1%. This makes Uganda one of the countries with the fastest growing populations in the world.

    80% of the Ugandan population relies on resources like land and lakes for livelihood. 99% uses firewood and charcoal for cooking, putting a strain on forests, wetlands and causing a shortage of agricultural land. Kampala has swallowed up the greenery that once covered the empty hills and valleys.

    More wetlands in Kampala have been cleared for human settlement and industries.

    When the floods hit Kampala early this year, the former minister of environment, Dr. Kezimbira Miyingo, issued a directive that all houses in wetlands be demolished. However, owners opposed the directive, claiming they did not know they were building on wetlands.

    The problem of flooding is so severe in the Kampala suburbs of Kalerwe, Kisenyi and Bwaise that tenants shift to other areas to escape the floods. Latrines are built above water streams.

    During rainy seasons, the area residents often open a hole to release faeces from the latrines. The rain then washes the faeces into streams, from where they fetch water. Many people have no toilets and incidents of people using polythene papers as toilets is common.

    In May this year, KCC received money from the World Bank to boost the fight against flooding in Kampala suburbs. The money was for reconstruction and rehabilitation of high risk areas, starting with a 3.6km drainage channel in Bwaise. Part of the channel was constructed, but it has not been helpful in controlling floods.

    According to the 2002 population census, 12% of Uganda's population lived in the urban areas. The United Nations indicated that by 2007, 3.7 million Ugandans lived in urban areas.

    According to Uganda National Bureau of Statistics, Kampala's population in 2010 is about 1.6 million people.

    It is possible for sparsely populated areas to be overpopulated as such areas may have a meagre or non-existent capability to sustain human life. Already this is beginning to show in Uganda. Although access to water has improved, (67% of the population has access to an improved water source), it takes an average Ugandan over 30 minutes to collect water.

    Rural households are also increasingly spending more time looking for firewood. Overpopulated places compete for the basic life-sustaining resources, hence a diminished quality of life. Increase in time for collecting water or fuel impacts on women more. Girls cannot complete their education, thus early marriage and childbearing which starts a cycle of poverty.

    Despite the increase in population density in world cities, the UN Habitat says in its report that urbanisation may be the best solution to managing the rising global population.

    Cities concentrate human activity within specified areas, limiting the extent of environmental damage. But this mitigating influence can only be achieved if urban planning is significantly improved. doclink

    The Fake Environmentalists and Their Pretend-Game

    September 23, 2010, We Can Do Better website

    Regional planners, under the direction of their political overlords---the proxies of developers - are trying to shove tens of thousands more people into the North Vancouver Island region. And they don't want people to grasp the full implications of their devious plans. What is transpiring here is transpiring across Canada and the continent of North America--and elsewhere. New subdivisions are sprouting up all over the map in place of greenbelts, woodlands and marshes and the people have little say in the matter.

    The most frustrating thing is that fake environmentalists are able to pose as resisting this imposition. But their issue is not with population growth, but with "sprawl"---even though at least half of sprawl is driven by population growth and not by poor land-use planning. They want to 'manage' growth and steer it away from farmland, while packing the unending stream of newcomers into tighter and denser lots alongside existing residents, who are encouraged to surrender their living space in the interests of food security and the environment.

    Thus people are presented with a false antithesis. Either accept growth with sprawl or so-called 'smart' growth without it. The local NDP (New Democratic Party), Greens and environmentalists tell people that population growth is something not in their jurisdiction, that immigration (or child benefits) policy is a federal matter and that nothing can prevent inter-provincial migration as guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In other words, growth out of their hands.

    Yet which political parties receive top marks from the Sierra Club? The federal Greens and the federal NDP. And what is their immigration policy? To increase the absurdly high immigration intake quota of the Harper Government by 25%, while matching or besting its pro-natalist programs.

    This is the pretend-game that environmental NGOs play. Either population growth is not controllable, or even if it is, they have nothing to do with it--- and in any case, it has little bearing on environmental degradation, whether farmland or species loss, or GHG emissions. "It's not whether we grow", they argue, "but how we grow". Just squeeze tighter in the sardine can so that incoming migrants can snuggle up to you. And above all, feel guilty about having extra space in the backyard for your son to play in or a nature trail at the end of your block to take your dog. If it is nature that you want, well, you can get that on the Outdoor Living Channel, can't you?

    Let me confess that, whether it is the white-flight "Freedom 55s" from Alberta or California, or people from across the world, I've never felt lonely enough to want them living under my nose, and neither do most of us who chose our 'low-density" lifestyle. Some may call that selfish, I call it a human right. Is it my demand for space that is unreasonable, or the demand that I accept as reasonable a human population level that is 250% higher now than when I was born? Why are we being forced to accept population growth? Because population growth is thought to be a necessary agent of economic growth, our Great God.

    The myth that continued economic growth is necessary, desirable, inevitable or even possible remains our major stumbling block, the first domino of misconceptions that must fall before we can reclaim any semblance of the quality of life that we once enjoyed. We are in a foot race with Mother Nature. If we don't stop growth, she will stop us. Time is almost up. Don't let the Pied Pipers of Fake Environmentalism lead you down a futile path. Fight growth, not the symptoms of growth. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: I like low-density living also, but it is a luxury supported by high consumption of a vanishing natural resource: oil. The author should consider how difficult life will be like without it. Consumption is one of the factors of sustainability - it's not just population. On the other hand, why should we accept more and more people into our region? We end up encouraging more births in the region of origin.

    crowded hillside houses in South America When people run out of room to build on the more sensible flat areas, they build on the hillsides, putting themselves more at risk from earthquakes, erosion and landslides from floods.

    US California: Wine Country Casualties - Grape-eating Bears Killed as Vineyards' Territory Expands

    December 26, 2005, San Francisco Chronicle

    Bears have frequented the pond and an adjacent meadow since the Dakins bought Wild Springs Ranch a decade ago. Now they are gone. The owner of the adjacent Aetna Springs Vineyard, tired of having his prized grapes eaten, hired federal trappers to kill the offending bears. The tragic fate of their beloved bruins has thrust the Dakins into a seething debate over the future of the nation's famous wine-growing region. Wildlife is often the loser as vineyards creep into the hinterlands amid a growing demand for the kind of grape that can be produced only in mountainous wildland regions. Vineyard owners were the reason state law was changed this year to include wild turkeys on the list of animals that can be killed. Cabernet grapes are fetching from $5,000 to $7,000 a ton and as a result, vineyards are popping up on slopes and ridgetops. Even older, established vineyards are taking steps to protect their investments. Paul Maroon, who bought the Aetna Springs was given permits to kill the bears after he showed the damage they did to his fence and vines. The department is required by law to issue a permit if damage can be shown to personal property. Two male black bears and two females were killed by federal animal control officers. They damage the fences and allow the deer to enter and both damage the vines. The industry has been growing to the delight of Californians and environmentalists, who prefer vineyard development to housing development. It's not surprising that a bear-wine conflict would occur in the Pope Valley. The director of Aetna Springs Golf Course called the controversy "wine for blood", life versus profit. Herds of deer have been killed over the same thing. To come into a wildlife area and then kill off the wildlife is wrong. Concerns about wildlife prompted Napa County to pass tougher ordinances for hillside vineyards increasing the restrictions for every increase in slope. But they haven't stopped hillside planting. Premier Pacific, has promised to plant on only a fraction of the land and preserve 2,000 acres of old growth redwood forest on the Gualala River. Other vineyards write off the grapes devoured as a kind of tax for doing business in their territory. doclink

    Australia: Survey Unveils Coast Future No-One Wants

    March 1, 2008, Sunshine Coast Daily

    This year, the Sunshine Coast Daily, Seven Local News, and the University of the Sunshine Coast joined forces to present a survey to guage what matters to you on the eve of a new era for our region. The Your Coast Your Say Survey attracted 1582 entries and three clear messages emerged. * We do not want high rises. * We do not want to be another Gold Coast. * We don't want our environment and lifestyle ruined by overpopulation.

    The biggest the question was whether population growth was a concern, to which 77% said yes and only 13% answered no.

    The Sunshine Coast's influential players met to discuss the formation of a committee for the Sunshine Coast.

    The bipartisan committee consisting of members from community groups, business and development sectors and environmental agencies, would develop innovative and practical ideas. The state predicts an extra 180,000 people will move here in the next 20 years. The South-East Queensland Plan has allocated $13.2 billion to Sunshine Coast projects.

    The plan includes 11 new schools for $437 million, the Kawana hospital at $940 million, the $1.7 billion Traveston Crossing Dam and $564 million Northern Pipeline Interconnector.

    The government is planning a multi-modal transport corridor to cope with growth. Each council has drafted a Strategy to cater for proposed growth, but have not been signed off at a state level.

    Caloundra's LGMS predicts the population will grow by another 70,000 people in the next 20 years. Maroochy's LGMS projects 53,000 new homes.

    Only one in five think these plans will contribute to a better Sunshine Coast by 2020.

    Look at the Gold Coast and you look at the Sunshine Coast and we're 10 years behind. To stop that from happening, maybe the new regional council might be able to have a whole of region approach, where some of the good things that have happened up in Noosa can be applied around the region.

    Dr White believes public transport will be the major issue in the near future.

    Public transport needs to be improved dramatically, and certainly that is on the cards, but we're spending huge amounts of money to make it easier for people to drive cars. It would be good to see light rail across the Coast, tram systems and buses that run on gas rather than diesel.

    Only 20% chose public transport as their preferred mode of transport for the future. Recycled water is the most preferred option to address the coming water crisis, whereas, the Traveston Dam has lost support since last year's survey from 12% approval to 8%.

    In last year's survey, the biggest crime concern was drink-driving. This year, 67% were listed street violence as the most significant problem. Daylight saving gained more support with 61% for it, compared to less than half last year. doclink

    U.S.;: Sold! the Sierra

    June 29, 2007, The Sierra Citizen

    Since the 1950s, Donner Summit has been the site of roughly 800 homes. In 1971, John Slouber began purchasing land for the largest cross-country ski resort in the country, Royal Gorge. Slouber eventually owned 4,000 acres of land and leased an additional 5,000 acres of Forest Service land to operate his resort.

    Slouber sold the property to Foster and Kirk Syme, in 2005. The companies proposed to build 950 housing units, a hotel, commercial spaces, and ski lifts. They have pledged to preserve 70% of their property as open space. All the property owners at Serene Lakes are against the plan.

    They believe they have a responsibility to take into account the unique state of the summit, and they don't want development to destroy it.

    Everybody's got to deal with development of some kind; California is growing.

    Counties want new development to boost their revenues from more property tax from new homes and commercial properties.

    Counties believe development will increase the tax base, but it's better to get more out of the tax base you have. "We've got a nice quiet community; putting in a hotel and timeshares, changes the nature of the community."

    Some believe the project has many flaws. "We should be looking at restoring the environment and using development as a positive impact. This would include affordable housing, jobs, access to recreation, an increased tax base, and things like better water quality through upgrades. How much of the community do we give up so they can make a profit?"

    "One element of a conservation community is preservation of open space, and that is an important part of our plan," Livak says. "We see nature as an amenity of this development. Without new development, the Royal Gorge ski area will lose too much money to be a viable business. Who will manage the open space? Concerns are our sewer and water, traffic, density of development, and time shares, which will change the character of the community. The quality of their water supply concerns many residents. Runoff from roads, contaminated melt water from plowed snow, and nutrients from lawns are all concerns. Many worry that traffic will become dangerous, especially on crowded winter ski days. "Condo owners won't buy into the community. They come up on one weekend and won't come back."

    How to mitigate the impacts of the development will be addressed by California's extensive environmental review policy, codified as CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act). A positive impact would include affordable housing, jobs, access to recreation, an increased tax base, better water quality. Royal Gorge is the classic land use story what will the impacts of development be on the local community versus what is a reasonable return of investment for the developer? doclink

    Karen Gaia says: sounds like another Ponzi scheme: build a ski resort, then when it doesn't make enough money, put in some homes and businesses so that the ski resort keeps going. Then keep increasing the population so that the local economy grows. There seems to be a total ignorance of the limits nature imposes. You can't keep growing forever. And whatever happened to simple living?

    NYC's Newest Rush Hour: 24/7

    December 13, 2006, Long Island Press

    Long Islanders may be spending more time in their cars and trains by 2030.

    By 2030, every major infrastructure system in our city will be more than a century old, and pushed to its limits, The city could expect to gain about a million more residents by that time, He also predicted 750,000 new jobs and Long Islanders may be commuting in record numbers.

    The infrastructure's components must work seamlessly for all of us to survive.

    The Long Island Railroad began along Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn in 1832.

    As our population grows and our infrastructure ages, our environment will be pushed to new and possibly precarious limits. Unfortunately for Long Islanders who commute to the city daily, there will be nothing to combat the frustration of a daily commute to a city bursting at the seams. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: Will someone please tell be how 'smart growth' solutions will solve this problem?

    California Seal Pups Beat Kids in Battle Over Beach

    April 27, 2006, Environmental News Network

    This week San Diego officials roped off a prime stretch of the La Jolla shoreline to keep people from disturbing the harbor seals who have taken up residence.

    Any move can spook the animals to flee into the ocean and abandon their newborn babies, violating federal marine mammal protection laws.

    Seals need adequate sun and sand time in order to maintain good health. The city was urged to act after receiving an increase in complaints that angry residents were harassing the marine mammals.The council voted to erect the barrier each year from January 1 through May 1. Federal officials have installed 24-hour surveillance cameras to watch for people deliberately swimming, kayaking or sunbathing in the area.

    Many residents said they were undeterred as it's the only place around with a lifeguard station and bathrooms. A steady stream of tourists and environmental activists clusters around the roped area, unfazed by the stench. The cove has been a popular La Jolla spot since the early 1930s. Nobody knows why the animals began flocking to the shore in the late 1990s but about 200 seals live there. The rope barrier is also meant as a warning to stay away from seal fecal matter and birth byproducts.

    A California judge ordered the city to dredge and clean up the beach but the decision has been tied up in litigation and a foul fishy stench remains.

    San Diego Council president Scott Peters said he did not feel there was evidence of seal harassment. "The issue isn't so much that people can't get along with seals, it's that people can't get along with people," Peters said. doclink

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    Health and Disease

    New, Muscular Microbes Emerge as Planet Warms


    Climate change, tropical deforestation, poverty, education levels, trends in
    agriculture and international trade, have bearings on disease.
    Microbes are configured to respond amazingly quickly to environmental
    changes. Urban migrations spread diseases. Infectious diseases happen with
    inadequate sanitation, air pollution, poverty, malnutrition, and the misuse
    of antibiotics. The body's defenses may be overwhelmed by toxins in the air,
    water, and diet. Transport of humans and food products by air spread
    diseases quickly. The sheer volume of urban growth, by political upheaval,
    economic turmoil, or corruption is overwhelming health initiatives. Free
    markets mean lack of controls. doclink

    Why is an overpopulation group interested in Aids?

    Answer: AIDS is prevalent in Africa, where some of the world's biggest population growth is
    taking place. In Sub-Sahara Africa, it often the norm for unmarried females
    to have children to prove fertility so that they can be eligible for
    marriage. So, with the high promiscuity rate, the resulting high growth
    rate, and the high concentration of AIDS, there is the possibility that AIDS
    will mutate into a disease that is airborne (think: "Black Death", the
    Bubonic plague) doclink

    UN Environment Program Sounds Alarm on Unsafe Water

    March 19, 1999, Environmental News Network

    In the world, a child dies every 8 seconds from water-related diseases.
    Unsafe water causes 3 billion illnesses (half the population!) and 5 million
    deaths a year from diseases such as such as diarrhea, cholera, dengue fever,
    river blindness and trachoma. 20% of world's freshwater fish species
    have been pushed to the edge of extinction. 20% of the
    population faces unsafe water, the number to increase to 30% by 2050 doclink

    Red Cross Appeals to Curb Cholera in Africa

    March 19, 1999, Xinhua General News Service

    In the city slums of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe cholera is widespread due to lack of water access, poor hygiene and sanitation, pollution and ignorance. Some pay 10% of their income for water. doclink

    Industrial Farming Practices Spread Disease and Concern

    March 10, 2001, Environmental News Network

    Intensive, industrial farming practices gave rise to the outbreak of BSE and
    have likely contributed to the spread of foot-and-mouth disease. (Unlike
    BSE, foot-and-mouth disease is not dangerous to humans, but affects cattle,
    pigs and sheep.) While the highly contagious foot-and-mouth disease grips
    the nation of Britain, other European nations hold their breath. North
    America has been spared this sort of disaster and foot-and-mouth disease has
    not been reported in Canada since the 1950s. But intensive farming could
    lead to such a problem. It is likely that feeding of rendered sheep
    carcasses sheep that were infected with the disease known as scrapie is the
    cause of the epidemic. Then people people began to die from variant
    Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a human version of BSE. There is no reliable way
    to test live animals to see if they are harboring BSE. Dead pigs, horses and
    poultry are still fed to cattle, along with sawdust, old newspapers and
    anything else that might contain a bit of cheap protein to help cattle pack
    on the pounds. In addition, antibiotics are routinely given to cattle, pig,
    chicken and fish feed to increase growth rates and reduce infections. While
    EU has banned this practice, Canada and the United States have not. In fact,
    nearly half of all antibiotics used in the United States are fed to animals. doclink

    [Note: such practices can be placed under the "Bigger is Better" philosophy that allows large corporations to reap huge profits from the large numbers of people who now depend on industrialization for cheap food.]

    U.S.: West Nile Virus is Here to Stay

    October 6, 2000, Washington Post

    The West Nile virus, an extremely lethal malady for humans and wildlife, has
    spread more than 300 miles since the initial outbreak in New York.
    Originally only infecting birds, the virus is now being carried by
    mosquitoes, and this has scientists projecting that the virus will spread to
    the rest of America within three short years. New York state's veteran
    wildlife pathologist confirms this, adding "three years from now... it will
    be a national problem." But the future is out of mind as officials try to
    combat the virus in the present. "We are going to spray" says Montgomery
    County (NY) Council President Michael L. Subin, adding that "all folks need
    to do right now is make sure that they take precautions." These include
    eliminating standing water, staying covered up when outside, and using
    over-the-counter lotions and sprays. The proposed pesticide spraying has its
    opponents, however, including Ruth Berlin of the Maryland Pesticide Network.
    "If the county or the state are going to spray," she says, "I'm recommending
    that they alert the people living in those areas about the potential adverse
    health effects . . . because the pesticides themselves are also a public
    health threat." Despite this, more dead birds found with the West Nile Virus
    are causing public concern to skyrocket. The virus was first identified in
    Uganda in the 1930s, and can cause inflammation of the brain in children and
    the elderly. It came to the US in 1999, killing seven and making 62
    seriously ill in New York City. Anti-mosquito efforts have lowered human
    fatalities to one, and cases of illness to 17, but the virus is mutating
    rapidly as seen in the diverse set of animals now being affected including
    chipmunks, raccoons, bats, and crows, which have a 100% fatality rate. These
    are being infected by new mosquito types which have a taste for humans and
    mammals, including the Aedes vexans, one of the most common mosquitoes in
    America. This "opens a whole new world to the virus," says Cyrus Lesser,
    Maryland's mosquito control chief. Scientists are most concerned for the
    migration of birds next spring which will spread the disease in the Midwest
    and the Mississippi River area. USGS physical scientist Stephen Guptill has
    mapped the virus for two years and reports: "The thing we know for certain
    is that the virus has established itself in North America. There was a
    chance that it could have been a one-time event. We know that's not the
    case. It's here, and it's here to stay." doclink

    World AIDS Day, 1999

    1999, Nando Times

    More people died in 1999 than at any time since the epidemic was first
    recognized 18 years ago. According to the United Nations Program on AIDS, of
    the 5.6
    million new HIV infections in 1999, 4 million were in Africa. Half were
    among young people ages 15 to 24. Life expectancy in Africa is likely to
    drop from
    59 years to 45 years within the next five years. Millions of orphans will be
    left. Economic mainstays such as sugar farming are down 50% in productivity.
    AIDS is a bigger threat than hunger, overpopulation, malaria, or war.
    "Virtually no attention has been
    paid to the fact that we now have the medicine to keep people from dying of
    AIDS, and that from a purely medical standpoint, the deaths of 23 million
    Africans over the next 10 years are preventable."
    -- Raymond Dooley,
    the former chair of Boston's Department of Health and Hospitals doclink

    Environmental Degradation is Contributing to Preventable Health Threats Worldwide

    May 1, 1998, World Resources Institute

    The World Resources Institute, the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Development Programme, and the World Bank, have put out a report titled "Environmental Change and Human Health". Health
    threats world wide include pesticides, air pollution, travel-spread
    diseases, malaria, diarrheal related to environmental conditions, cholera
    (long vanquished from Latin America, resurged in 1991), excessive use
    of fertilizers leading to algae blooms and fish kills. Many of the victims
    are children under the age of 5 doclink

    End of this section pg 1 ... Go to page 2

    Nitrogen Levels

    6 States Aiming to Reduce Dead Zone

    February 11, 2003, New Orleans Times-Picayune

    Six states that feed water to the Mississippi agreed to experiment to reduce nutrients that cause a "dead zone" that can be 10 to 120 feet deep along the coast of Louisiana and Texas and is bigger than the state of Massachusetts. This occurs when nutrient-rich freshwater forms a layer over saltier Gulf of Mexico water in the spring and summer, causing huge blooms of algae that use up oxygen as they decompose. Shrimp, crabs and fish avoid the low-oxygen water, and bottom-dwelling organisms are killed. Oxygen returns after tropical storms or frontal systems mix the layers. The nutrients are fertilizer and sewage from the 42 states and parts of Canada that drain into the Mississippi. 7% come from Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas, the states represented at the first meeting, in New Orleans, of the Committee on Hypoxia. An official said a federal-state plan to reduce nutrients is 18 months behind schedule. A plan adopted in 2000 called for reducing the dead zone to 2,000 square miles by 2015 by cutting nitrogen entering the river by 30%. Researchers have focused on determining the areas responsible, and how to reduce them. The projects would be similar to one in Louisiana in which farmers are told how best to manage nitrogen use, and provided with detailed instruction. doclink

    A Special Moment in History

    May 1998, Atlantic Monthly

    by Bill McKibben Natural cycles of nitrogen production (through algae, soil bacteria and lighting) produce "90-150 million metric tons of nitrogen a year. Now human activity adds 130-150 million more tons...As a result, coastal waters and estuaries bloom with toxic algae while oxygen concentrations dwindle, killing fish; as a result, nitrous oxide traps solar heat, and it stays there for a century or more." doclink

    August 3, 1999, UK News

    Humans have more than doubled the amount of available nitrogen in the environment because of excess fertiliser use and burning of fossil fuel. There are now also 50 "dead zones" containing little or no oxygen in coastal waters. The largest one in the Western Hemisphere is in the Gulf of Mexico, caused by excess nitrogen and phosphorus flowing down the Mississippi river. doclink

    Tests Find Nitrogen is Choking Earth

    February 21, 2000, MSNBC

    Plant species replaced, 'dead zones' in water more prevalent. - If farmers continue to depend heavily on nitrogen fertilizer, the agricultural landscape could turn ugly within 50 years, says a University of Minnesota ecologist. David Tilman found, in a two decade study, that, as the amount of nitrogen doubles, species diversity declines by 25%. And as nitrogen levels continue to increase, species are lost at a greater, though less dramatic, rate, leveling off at declines of 40% to 70%. The species that do survive are usually less-desirable, non-native ones such as quack grass, which needs high doses of nitrogen to thrive. Oxygen-starved "dead zones," such as the one now in the Gulf of Mexico, will become increasingly prevalent and many plants will die off, while fewer - and less desirable ones - will take over, he said. To get world food production to double over the past 35 years, farmers have had to use seven times as much nitrogen as they used to, effectively doubling the amount that already comes in from the atmosphere. By 2050, the use of nitrogen may quadruple with the projected increase in the world population by almost 50%, and if it becomes increasingly affluent with a buying power 2.4 times that of today's population and producing a demand for twice as much food. Tilman recommends timing applications of fertilizer better and doing a better job of removing it from sewage. doclink

    U.S.: NOAA Forecast Predicts Large "Dead Zone" for Gulf of Mexico This Summer

    June 2009, Environmental News Network

    The "dead zone" off the coast of Louisiana and Texas in the Gulf of Mexico this summer could be one of the largest on record. In the dead zone seasonal oxygen levels drop too low to support most life in bottom and near-bottom waters. Dead zones are caused by nutrient runoff, principally from agricultural activity, which stimulates an overgrowth of algae that sinks, decomposes, and consumes most of the life-giving oxygen supply in the water.

    Scientists are predicting the area could measure between 7,450 and 8,456 square miles, or an area roughly the size of New Jersey.

    This hypoxic, or low-to-no oxygen area, is of particular concern because it threatens valuable commercial and recreational Gulf fisheries by destroying critical habitat.

    "The high water volume flows coupled with nearly triple the nitrogen concentrations in these rivers over the past 50 years from human activities has led to a dramatic increase in the size of the dead zone," said Gene Turner, Ph.D., a lead forecast modeler from Louisiana State University. doclink

    US Maryland: Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Criticized; Oversight Change Urged

    August 22, 2003, Washington Post

    The Chesapeake Bay Foundation wants the voluntary effort to clean up the bay replaced by a governing body to create and enforce laws and levy taxes in six states and the District to pay for cleanup. They concluded that the regional Chesapeake Executive Council, formed to oversee the reduction of bay pollutants, had failed because the scientific data suggests the bay is not improving. This was a misstatement, claimed the executive director of the Council that adopted a plan for improving the water quality by 2010, when the Council hopes the bay will be removed from the list of threatened waterways. The most ambitious goal was to take voluntary steps to reduce runoff from animal manure and wastewater plants by one-third. 40% of the bay is starved of oxygen and fish and plant life have difficulty surviving. The regional council has been making progress and less nitrogen is flowing into the bay than in the mid-1980s. Underwater bay grasses, an indicator of a healthy waterway, have increased since 1984, but must more than double in the next seven years. It will involve farmers and require homeowners to upgrade septic tanks and better storm water management. The bay's watershed includes 16 million people in parts of New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia and the District. Any new oversight body would need to levy taxes to raise part of the $12 billion that is needed to reduce pollutants. The governors on the council said they are willing to consider reinvigorating restoration efforts. doclink

    Fertilizer Levels Safe for Humans, Deadly to Frogs

    January 10, 2000,

    An Oregon State University study says that fertilizer levels the EPA says are safe for human drinking water can kill some species of frogs and toads. With even low nitrate levels in fertilizer runoffs, the amphibians ate less, developed physical abnormalities, suffered paralysis and eventually died. Also, the nitrates encouraged the growth of algae that feeds tiny parasitic flatworms called trematodes which cause deformities. Other explanations for the decline in amphibian population include water pollution and increased ultraviolet radiation from the sun because of a thinning ozone layer around the Earth. doclink

    End of this section pg 1 ... Go to page 2

    Waste, Landfill, Toxic Dumping

    NA or worldwide: (There's no away to throw to)

    ...Garret Harden

    There's no away to throw to. doclink

    Global Waste on Pace to Triple by 2100

    October 30, 2013, World Bank

    Unless sufficient measures are taken, by 2100 the growing global urban population will be producing three times as much solid waste as it does today, former World Bank urban development specialist Dan Hoornweg and his colleagues write in the journal Nature.

    The report is an expansion on their work from the 2012 World Bank report What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management.

    In the earlier report, they warned that global solid waste generation was on pace to increase 70% by 2025. The waste from cities alone is already enough to fill a line of trash trucks 5,000 kilometers long every day. The global cost of dealing with all that trash is rising too: from $205 billion a year in 2010 to $375 billion by 2025, with the sharpest cost increases in developing countries.

    OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries, where waste levels are the highest today but populations aren't growing as quickly and waste reduction efforts are underway, expect their trash levels to peak by 2050. Asia-Pacific countries won't peak until 2075.

    Mexico City's Bordo Poniente and Shanghai's Laogang receive more than 10,000 tonnes of waste per day. Waste incinerators pose ash disposal and air pollution problems worldwide. Also landfills produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas, contributing to climate change.

    "With lower populations, denser, more resource-efficient cities, and less consumption (along with higher affluence), the peak could come forward to 2075 and reduce in intensity by more than 25 percent. This would save around 2.6 million tonnes per day," Hoornweg and his colleagues write.

    San Francisco has set a of "zero waste" by 2020 policy with aggressive recycling. Today 55% of its waste is recycled or reused today.

    Other things that can be done:

    * Reduce food waste with better storage and transportation systems.
    * Reuse construction materials like wood, instead of producing more materials.
    * Employee disposal fees and recycling programs that encourage less waste. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: Don't forget: make contraception accessible, affordable and effective and provide consumer advice about it.

    Wasted Food, Wasted Energy: the Embedded Energy in Food Waste in the United States

    July 21, 2010, ACS Publications - Environmental Science and Technology

    Food is not only a form of energy but also a consumer of fossil energy in its production, transportation, and preparation.

    A study calculated the energy intensity of food production from agriculture, transportation, processing, food sales, storage, and preparation for 2007 as 8080 ± 760 trillion BTU. In 1995, approximately 27% of edible food was wasted (according to the USDA), and the study concluded from this that 2030 ± 160 trillion BTU of energy were embedded in the 2007 wasted food. This represents approximately 2% of annual energy consumption in the United States, which is substantial when compared to other energy conservation and production proposals.

    Recent food shortages, blamed in part on the growth of the biofuels industry, have created a new awareness of the relationship between food and energy.

    Over last 50 years we have seen increased agricultural productivity thanks to the adoption of new technologies and inputs, which are largely based on fossil fuels. The increase in the energy intensity of agriculture has brought with it unprecedented yields with minimal human labor.

    Mechanization of the agriculture sector, improved fertilizers, more resilient crops, and the development of pesticides, all of which rely on fossil fuels, are the reasons for the increased productivity.

    The 27% food waste figure does not include food wasted on the farm, in fisheries, and during processing and relies on outdated food consumption and waste data, some of which is from the 1970s.

    Because of economic and population growth, the total amount of food production and consumption has grown since the latest food loss study for 1995, and the portion of income Americans spend on food has dropped. From this, the researchers hypothesized that the current amount of food wasted to be higher compared to the USDA's 1995 estimates. If this is true, addressing food waste represents an opportunity for avoided energy consumption.

    Follow the link in the headline to read the complete report. doclink

    African Deaths Highlight Illegal Toxic-waste Trade

    September 28, 2006, Toronto Star

    Activists campaigned against the dumping of toxic waste while regulations adopted in Basel in 1989 attempted to restrain the business.

    The worst practices are back, but instead of toxic waste, the developed world is dumping old ships, and electronic goods on poorer countries ill-equipped to deal with them.

    Trafigura Beheer BV, which chartered the tanker that offloaded the waste in Ivory Coast, rejects claims that the waste was high in poisonous hydrogen sulphide, but activists say the export of hazardous waste is widespread. The tanker concerned was Korean-built, Greek-managed, Panamanian-flagged and Dutch-chartered.

    The chemical sludge it unloaded in Abidjan was dumped around the city in August, causing a foul stench and prompting tens of thousands of people to seek medical attention. Recyclers promise to find homes for the ever larger mountain of discarded electronic gadgets in the developing world.

    A U.S. group campaigning for a crack-down on hazardous waste, said last year 500 containers of computers were being shipped into Lagos every month.

    Seventy five per cent ended up being dumped and burned, releasing hazardous fumes. The UN estimates that 20 to 50 million tonnes of electronic waste is produced every year, and 48% of EU waste exports were illegal. doclink

    Sanitation in Ghana; a Far Cry From Millennium Development Goals

    September 11, 2006,

    According to Mr Demedeme, the sanitation condition is "an indictment to Ghanaians" considering the magnitude of resources that have been disbursed towards containing the situation. In the 1990s, huge sums of money went into sanitation, but as of this day the condition is still deplorable. He blamed ignorance and indiscipline for the litter and disposal of waste, compounded by an obsolete legal regime. Seventy per cent of the diseases treated at health institutions are sanitation related and bring pressure on the National Health Insurance Scheme.

    District Assemblies are directed to undertake updating by-laws and embark on aggressive marketing of construction and use of domestic latrines, and enforcing laws on provision of sanitation facilities by landlords.

    As a solution to the problem, Mr Demedeme called for the streamlining of the fragmented approaches to the tackling of sanitation and urged that all efforts must be made to increase the collection of waste from its current 60% to 90%. The most critical problem facing Ghana currently is that of solid waste management and environmental sanitation. Waste generation, is estimated to grow at 2.7% in developing countries to the year 2010. Ghana's current population growth is estimated at 2.6%. One of the major factors is the rise in per capita incomes plus the rural to urban migration drift.

    Accra, with an estimated population of four million, generates about 2000 metric tons of solid waste a day out of which it is able to collect 1500 tons. Constraints are inadequate resources, irregular payment of contracts, weak capacity for expansion, and serious negative impact on health delivery system. doclink

    Ralph says: It is so obvious, --- more people, more waste. Karen Gaia says: What's needed is more focus on family planning.

    Mexico: The Green Line: Tourism and Water Issues Require Full Participation

    June 6, 2006, El Universal Online

    With tourism the world's largest industry, a coalition of 18 conservation groups in Mexico is trying to bring sustainability to this economic sector. The coalition is Alcosta, the Alliance for the Sustainability of the Northwest Mexican Coast. Its preliminary study based on monitoring 48 coastal tourist developments, provides an unprecedented starting point from which to gauge efforts to protect opportunities for future generations.

    The monitoring is a stepping stone towards creating region-wide control for natural resource management in the Gulf of California states. This must provide information for expanding protected areas, improving their operation, and saving the ecosystems. Alcosta is also outlining the best practices for sustainable tourism. The monitoring, reveals that 66% of the gulf's tourist development is in the form of hotel or condominium building associated with golf courses and marinas. Gulfwide, 17% of the development is in places where some tourism already existed, and 48% in spots with none.. The growth areas coincide with those pinpointed by the federal Tourism Secretariat's megaproject called "Sea of Cortes". With 34,000 hotel and condominium units operating or under construction, including 45 golf courses, the demands on the natural resources are overwhelming. The influx of workers and their families signifies a population boom that the region is in not prepared to absorb.

    For these ventures to be sustainable they must not exceed the available water supply or contaminate it, and they must be able to handle the waste their visitors and workers generate. This is a challenge, as all the communities face water shortages even before further development, none have adequate sanitary landfill facilities, only 6% have sewage treatment, precipitation in the gulf region is among the lowest in the country, 17% of the underground water tables are over exploited and 10% have salt water intrusion.

    People who depend on farming and fishing in the same communities where tourism development is booming find competition for the resources a threat to their livelihoods. What Alcosta advises is to involve the social groups in tourism promotion and create networks of small businesses that can take part in it.

    But much of the development is powered by foreign investors. Not a single hotel-condominium has involved local people nor has any initiative emerged strengthen small business.

    It's clear from the preliminary results what needs to be done. There's no time like the present to get started. Mexico's commitment to Agenda 21 transcends political administrations. doclink

    U.S.: As Landfills Close in Big Cities, Garbage Travels Farther

    July 12, 2005, USA Today

    The trains from the Harlem River rail yard are filled with garbage and are part of an armada that performs a nearly constant exodus of waste from the nation's largest city. Each day, they carry 50,000 tons of trash from New York to landfills and incinerators in New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and South Carolina. In 2003, nearly a quarter of all municipal trash crossed state lines for disposal Congressional Research Service. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is now pushing to extend his city's trash, putting garbage on barges that could be shipped up and down the East Coast. The plan is fueling a fresh round of debate in places that could be potential destinations. At issue is the smell and the threat to the environment. New York transports more than 1,300 tons of garbage each day to Fox Township, Pa., 130 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. Living near the landfill isn't bad because it's hard to smell or see from the street. But the landfill's protective liners won't hold up forever and 50, years from now, they'll be saying, 'What were those guys thinking, allowing this to be built in this community?. New York's new disposal plan is being watched in Virginia, which imported 7.8 million tons of garbage last year, up 67% from 1997. The issue has been contentious since laws to slow the importation of trash were struck down by the courts. Officials in the Portsmouth area are considering a port that could receive up to 2,500 tons of waste a day from New York with a fee for every ton brought in, generating $1 million per year, plus $7 million more if enough went to an existing incinerator. "We're rich," executive Keller said, noting the township has bought new police cars and fire trucks with trash tipping fees. "We have millions of dollars in the bank." The risks for these communities are few, said Mickey Flood, chief executive of IESI Corp., a Fort Worth company that owns landfills throughout the eastern part of the country. Standard landfills don't accept hazardous materials and waste is also transported in sealed containers that are designed to be leak-proof. All water that touches garbage is required to be treated for pollutants. Still, problems arise. In December 2003, two schools near a landfill in Pennsylvania temporarily shut down when an overwhelming stink made it impossible for students to concentrate. Investigators blamed decaying gypsum board and made adjustments to a system that extracts vapors and burns them off. "Transporting garbage so far away means that the people that generate it don't have to deal with it, and where is their incentive to create less of it?" doclink

    Soon there will be no 'there' to ship waste to.

    Plastic Bottles Pile Up as Mountains of Waste

    March 2, 2005,

    The biggest growth in bottled beverages is water. The recycling rate of plastic water bottles is extremely low yet the demand from recyclers is high. The recycling system hasn't kept up with consumption especially when it comes to water. Per capita consumption has more than doubled over the last decade, from 10.5 gallons in 1993 to 22.6 in 2003. The number of water bottles sold has risen from 3.3 billion in 1997 to 15 billion in 2002. But most bottled water is consumed in areas where there's usually no recycling. doclink

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    Pollution, Toxins

    Plastic Takes Over the Ocean

    July 2010


    Scientists Call on Congress to Strengthen the Clean Water Act to Protect Coastal and Marine Habitats

    April 2, 1999, ENN (Environmental News Network)

    The Center for Marine Conservation (CMC) and 320 scientific leaders say that pollutants carried by our nation's waterways into coastal waters, including excess nitrogen and phosphorous pollution, nutrients, animal waste, and fertilizers are increasing fish kills, harmful algae blooms, and dead zones. Many are from unregulated ources such as are municipal wastewater, industrial discharges and farms runoff doclink

    Environmental Defense Fund Scorecard


    EDF has set up a huge interactive site that enables anyone in the US to learn about what pollutants are being released into any community, and by whom. Enter your ZIP code, or click on their maps, to see who is doing what to your air, water and soil. doclink

    SE Asia Vows to Fight Dry Season Smog

    April 16, 1999, Reuters

    The 1997 smog, mostly from fires in Indonesia, plagued SE Asia for months, pushing air pollution levels to unhealthy levels and affecting tourism. doclink

    16,000 Airplanes Daily Polluting Planet

    April 1999, Environmental Defense Fund

    At a meteorologist conference in Costa Rica, the secretary of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that airplanes have become one of the main sources of atmospheric pollution and emitters greenhouse gases doclink

    Carbon Dioxide Threatens Tropical Coral Reefs

    April 5, 1999, ENN

    Excess carbon in the atmosphere can dissolve in the ocean and disrupt complex chemical reactions that the coral uses to build its reef colonies. Coral reefs are also threatened by human activities such as destructive fishing practices, coastal development, overexploitation of marine resources, marine pollution and sedimentation from inland deforestation and farming. doclink

    Chinese Cities Fight to Save Environment

    May 24, 1999, Reuters

    China has 9 out of 10 of the world's most polluted cities (from the World Resources Institute), is the 2nd largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, and the leading cause of death there is respiratory diseases. Acid rain falls on nearly one-third of the country. Dust from coal-burning stoves cakes cars and clothing. 70% of the rivers are drying up because of industrial or agricultural diversions while many contain no fish due to pollution and others that used to freeze in winter now run free, because of warm industrial discharge doclink

    Acid Rain Robs Soil Nutrients

    March 12, 1999, ENN

    Acid rain, caused when emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide (primarily from automobile emissions and electric utility plants) react with water and oxygen in the air, speed acidification of forest soils by 38%, striping the soil of nutrients and minerals, in a recent study in South Carolina doclink

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    Other Impacts

    Record Smog Shrouds Hong Kong's Dramatic Skyline; Chinese Factories Blamed

    September 11, 2002, San Francisco Chronicle

    Pollution levels in Hong Kong have set a record high. Cleanup is a priority, but many cite the factories in China's Guangdong province as one of the obstacles to a cleanup plan. Concentrations of ozone, factory and vehicle emissions accumulated in the recent hot, still weather and contributed to high pollution levels at Tung Chung, the future site of a Disneyland park to open by 2006. The developers worry that Hong Kong should do better in tackling poor air quality. Bad air could chase off tourists and foreign companies: animals and plants could also suffer. Diesel vehicles must use cleaner fuels, such as liquefied gas. Ninety percent of Hong Kong's taxis have switched. Guangdong and Hong Kohg have pledged to reduce pollution although specific actions are yet to be implemented. Much pollution comes from the more than 60 cement factories in Guangdong, but their environment bureau denied they are to blame. Hong Kong's pollution moves into Guangdong when the wind blows the other way.


    U.S.: Air Too Dirty at Preserves in North Dakota, EPA Says

    September 16, 2002, USA Today

    Officials at the E.P.A. say North Dakota is the only state where the air in federal preserves is more polluted than the Clean Air Act allows. The EPA will decide whether to require a cleanup, which could cost North Dakota's industrial facilities hundreds of millions of dollars. The state claims that the EPA is wrong. The EPA's claims that in Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, levels of sulfur dioxide from a group of coal-burning power plants in central North Dakota frequently violated federal law in 1999/2000. The plants burn a dirty type of coal and many have poor pollution controls. The EPA admits that the amount of Sulfur dioxide is miniscule and is a health hazard only at levels very much greater. Air at the preserves is far from that level but "part of the Clean Air Act is to keep clean areas clean," says the EPA's Denver office. On bad days, pollution cuts park visibility in half. North Dakota officials say that more than 90% of the time, there's so little sulfur dioxide in the park's air that monitors can't detect it. The EPA is redoing its calculations. Officials say that tourists love the days that are haze-free. doclink

    U.S. Will Get Power, and Pollution, From Mexico

    September 17, 2002, New York Times*

    In Mexico near the California border, two power plants will provide power for the United States. They capitalize on the economic and legal differences dividing Mexico and the United States. Mexico's desire for foreign capital is bottomless. California's energy demand is enormous. "Building on the Mexican side is cheaper, because of the less stringent regulations. The United States had to issue special permits for the Intergen plant, powered by natural gas from Texas, cooled by Mexicali's sewage and linked to California's grid. 560 of its 1060 megawatts will go north, 500 to Mexico. The plant does not meet California's standards. California's senators and congressmen have introduced legislation to stop any plant providing power to the state unless it meets its standards. The second plant, that meets California standards, could have been built there, but at a greater cost. All its 600 megawatts go to California. although Mexicans need more electricity and their bills are doubling. No laws in Mexico limit plants that pollute California's Imperial Valley. They are exempt from the environmental laws of the United States. The InterGen plant will send 3,800 tons of pollutants a year into California. InterGen could comply with California standards, if consumers would help pay the cost of $20 million. In Mexicali, people accept the plants with a shrug. Elisabeth Figueroa, 31, started work at the InterGen plant, making $2 an hour. "We need electricity but most is going north," she said. "It will be bad for the environment, but we need work. doclink

    Crack Under Beached Ship Spreads

    September 17, 2002,

    Crews abandoned an attempt to refloat a wrecked Italian freighter spilling oil onto a South African wetland park. A crack in the hull made it unwise to tow the vessel out to sea. The plan is to pump out the fuel from the vessel. The crack is now completely under the vessel. The chance of towing her out to sea has gone. 450 tons of oil have spilled, threatening the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Parkpark's wildlife. The operation will be hampered by a fire on the freighter that has burned for seven days. The Jolly Rubino, sailing from Durban to Mombasa, ran aground south of the estuary leading to the wetlands. The Jolly Rubino also carried drums containing toxic solvents, phenol, and naphthylamine, but there is a good chance the fire has burned up the chemicals. Conservationists said they would not take any chances, and had thrown up sand barricades to keep oil from washing into the protected area. A boom was to be placed across the mouth of the Umfolozi river, and pollution control experts said they would close other estuaries to the south of the park. doclink

    Activists Sue Over Relaxed Tuna-label Rules

    January 3, 2003, San Francisco Chronicle

    Conservation organizations said the Commerce Department's announcement relaxing labeling standards for "dolphin-safe" tuna ignored the evidence that tuna fleets are harming dolphins. This is called a political gift to Mexico at the expense of dolphin lives. The Department ruled imported tuna caught with nets can be sold as "dolphin safe," as long as no dolphins were killed or injured. The change will primarily affect Mexico because its boats drop nets on dolphins that swim above schools of tuna. Fisheries Service director Bill Hogarth said that the netting does not have a "significant adverse impact" on the dolphin population but onboard observers have underreported dolphin kills and failed to account for deaths caused by stress and the separation of baby dolphins from their mothers. Congress prohibited U.S. fishing boats from dropping nets on dolphins to trap tuna and imposed the same standard for foreign tuna imports in the 1980s In 1990 they prescribed the dolphin-safe label for tuna caught without netting dolphins. Major U.S. brands including StarKist, Bumble Bee and Chicken of the Sea have promised not to buy tuna caught by netting dolphins. doclink

    Salmon Kill Blamed on Water Sent to Farmers

    January 6, 2003, San Jose Mercury-News

    In the largest die-off of adult salmon ever recorded in the West, 33,000 dead salmon stacked up along the Klamath River in Northern California, the result of the administration's decision to divert water from the river to farming interests, say California biologists. 25% of the river's fall chinook run died from overcrowding. There is also risk of more kills if the divertion to farmers continues. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it would conduct its own investigation. doclink

    January 2003

    Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) plan to unveil a proposal that would force industries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. All industries to limit their emissions to 2000 levels by 2010 and 1990 levels by 2016. McCain has scheduled a plans to send a proposal to the Senate floor later this year. That proposal is bound to face stiff opposition. doclink

    U.S.: FDA Policies for Gene-Altered Foods Faulted in Report

    January 6, 2003, The Washington Post

    Genetically modified food could contain dangerous compounds because of the failure to regulate the production of such foods. The Food and Drug Administration made errors in reviewing GM crops, and the agency will not ensure the safety of food as more companies market transgenic foods. Experts fear "anti-nutrients," or harmful compounds, could appear in higher concentrations in genetically altered crops. These are common in miniscule amounts, the amount could increase when plants are genetically altered. The FDA has not established guidelines for testing in GM foods. doclink

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    Air Pollution

    Study Links Polluted Air in China to 1.6 Million Deaths a Year

    August 13, 2015, New York Times   By: Dan Levin

    A study by Berkeley Earth found that air pollution hastens the deaths of about 1.6 million Chinese people per year. That is 17% of all the nation's deaths each year or about 4,400 people a day. Most dangerous are airborne particles with diameters under 2.5 microns that are absorbed from the lungs into the bloodstream, causing such problems as asthma, strokes, lung cancer and heart attacks. The study is awaiting publication in PLOS One.

    Berkeley Earth bases its mortality estimate on a World Health Organization framework for projecting death rates from five diseases associated with high levels of exposure to fine-particulate pollution. The authors calculate that the annual toll is 95% likely to fall between 700,000 and 2.2 million deaths. Their 1.6 million figure falls at the midpoint of that range. This analysis supports earlier findings about the quality of China's air. For example, Greenpeace East Asia found in April that, 90% of 360 cities studied in China failed to meet national air quality standards in the first three months of 2015.

    The Chinese government often censors data that shows air pollution is killing its citizens (or even alludes to such a conclusion). Though the public has sometimes gained access to air quality readings, censors routinely purge Chinese websites and social media channels of information that the authorities fear might provoke unrest. In March, after a lengthy documentary video about the health effects of air pollution circulated widely online, Chinese websites were ordered to delete it.

    Much of China's air pollution comes from the large-scale coal burning. After studying wind patterns, the researchers concluded that much of Beijing's smog came not from sources in the city, but rather from coal-burning factories 200 miles southwest in Shijiazhuang, a major industrial hub. About three-eighths of the Chinese population breathes that air - air that rates "unhealthy" by U.S. standards.

    Beijing's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics includes promises to clean up the air. Beijing's mayor, Wang Anshun, suggests restrictions on vehicles in the city, and state news media called for replacing coal-fired heating systems in urban areas with systems that use natural gas. However, the Berkeley Earth paper showed that to clear the skies over Beijing, mitigation measures must extend across a broad stretch southwest of the capital, affecting tens of millions of people. "It's not enough to clean up the city," said Elizabeth Muller, Executive Director of Berkeley Earth. "You're going to also have to clean up the entire industrial region."

    The researchers also analyzed four months' of hourly readings taken at 1,500 ground stations in mainland China, Taiwan, South Korea and other places in the region. The group said it was publishing the raw data so other researchers could use it to perform their own studies. doclink

    Art says: Life-threatening levels of pollution occur more in Asia than anywhere else. Asia has the perfect storm combination of pollution factors: massive metro areas with high population densities, little breathing space between metro areas for pollutants to dissipate, high and rapidly increasing consumption rates, heavy coal use, and poor pollution-control infrastructures.

    As consumption rates balloon across Asia, fixes like those proposed in the Beijing region will not be enough to combat the pollution associated with such growth. Asia serves as a model for what consequences follow when the growth rates of consumption and population exceed an area's carrying capacity.

    Pollution Killed 7 Million People Worldwide in 2012, Report Finds

    March 25, 2014   By: Andrew Jacobs and Ian Johnson

    According to a World Health Organization report, around the world, one out of every eight deaths was tied to dirty air -twice as many as previously estimated. Its report identified air pollution as the world's single biggest environmental health risk. More than one-third of those deaths, the organization said, occurred in fast-developing nations of Asia, where rates of cardiovascular and pulmonary disease have been soaring.

    However, the agency said that in 2012 indoor air pollutants were involved in 4.3 million deaths, while toxic air outdoors figured in 3.7 million deaths (total 8 million). Many deaths were attributed to both. The reports by the World Bank and World Health Organization each said the burning of noxious fuels -- coal, wood and animal waste -- was among the greatest threats to human health.

    In India, the health agency estimated, 700 million people rely on biomass fuels like agricultural waste for indoor cooking. Kirk R. Smith of the University of California, Berkeley, said that pollutants from smoky indoor ovens were often comparable to burning 400 cigarettes an hour. "Unfortunately, he said, we have not made a lot of progress in the past decades, and household air pollution is still the largest single health risk factor for Indian women and girls."

    In China, the bigger culprit is coal, which supplies two-thirds of the country's energy. Though the winter heating season has ended, Beijing still displayed a familiar acrid haze, and the U.S Embassy's air monitor rated the air as "very unhealthy," a level at which outdoor activity should be avoided. Alarmed by the worsening smog and the rising discontent among urban residents, Prime Minister Li Keqiang declared a "war against pollution" in his annual report to the nation this month. Chinese leaders have promised to reduce reliance on coal and introduce cleaner-burning motor fuels and more energy-efficient construction methods. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: total pollution = per capita pollution X population size. The more people who are polluting there are, the worse it is for everyone.

    Clearing the Air in China

    October 27, 2013, New York Times   By: Chris P. Nielsen and Mun S. Ho

    China's "investments to decarbonize its energy system have dwarfed those of any other nation," and its "regulation to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants may be one of the most swiftly effective air pollution policies ever implemented anywhere . . . preventing as many as 74,000 premature deaths from air pollution in 2010."

    Of course, the recent smog inundation of the City of Harbin demonstrates both the urgency driving this cleanup and the fact that much more needs to be done. Most of China's pollution results from burning coal, its most abundant fuel supply. China burns 3.8 times as much coal as we burn in the U.S., and it plans to add new coal burning facilities at four times our planned rate. Most of our new power plants use cleaner burning natural gas, and many of our plants designed for coal have converted to gas. But the price of gas has been rising, so our current plans call for only a 2% increase in gas use for power production, while China plans a 19% increase.

    When it comes to carbon-free power, China captures more than twice as much energy from hydro-electric dams as we do, and while we currently generate 9.5 times as much electricity from nuclear plants as does China, China is adding nuclear plants more than three times faster than we are. We currently use about 40% more wind power than China, but China is adding new wind farms at more than double our rate. Neither nation draws much of its power from solar, but while the U.S. has plans for a 22% expansion in solar usage, China plans an 85% expansion during the same period. China has been experimenting with both cap-and-trade and new taxes on carbon-generating fuels. In their advisory roles for the Chinese government, the authors "estimate that a modest tax on carbon dioxide, starting small and rising to about $10 per ton by 2020, could sharply limit the growth of emissions with little effect on GDP."

    That, they estimate, would eliminate 89,000 premature deaths by 2020. Of course, since people can't safely breathe the air in many Chinese cities now, the need is more to reverse the growth of emissions rather than just sharply limit them. But with China's GDP still growing in the range of 8% per year, they have hundreds of new power plants yet to be built.

    Additonal information and charts at doclink

    Organo Failure California Study Suggests Link Between Autism and Pesticide Exposure

    July 31, 2007, Los Angeles Times

    California found that exposure to two pesticides may make women more likely to give birth to children with autism. But the scientists cautioned that their finding is preliminary because of the small number of women and children involved.

    Very preliminary data suggests there may be an association. The two pesticides are compounds developed in the 1950s and used to kill mites, primarily on cotton as well as some vegetables and other crops. Scientists determined that the Central Valley women lived within 500 meters, or 547 yards, of fields sprayed with organochlorine pesticides during their first trimester of pregnancy. Eight of them had children with autism, six times greater than for mothers who did not live near the fields. This is a sixfold risk factor in comparison to someone who is not exposed. The findings suggest that 7% of autism cases in the Central Valley during 1996 through 1998 might have been connected to exposure to the insecticides drifting off fields into residential areas. Scientists have been exploring various environmental factors, including children's vaccines and chemical pollutants.

    Scientists collected records of nearly 300,000 children born in the 19 counties of the Sacramento and San Joaquin river valleys, 465 had autism. They compared the addresses during pregnancy to records that detailed the location of fields sprayed with pesticides.

    For most pesticides, no unusual numbers of autism cases were found, but the exception was a class of compounds called organochlorines. Most, including DDT, were banned in the US several decades ago, only dicofol and endosulfan remain.

    The autism rate was highest for children of mothers who lived the closest to the fields. The scientists concluded that the possibility of a connection requires further study.

    A July report said endosulfan can spread far from fields via the air. The agency is likely to designate endosulfan as a toxic air contaminant, and dicofol could follow. That triggers a review to see whether steps should be taken to minimize the chemicals drifting off fields.

    More work on the potential link is needed before it can carry much weight in assessments of the chemicals' risks.

    The two insecticides are used much less than in the years in which the possible connection to autism was found. Insects have built up resistance and cotton farmers have switched to new compounds.

    The chemicals are used most extensively in Fresno, Kings, Imperial and Tulare counties. Dicofol is used on cotton, oranges, beans and walnuts. Endosulfan is used in tomato processing and on lettuce, alfalfa and cotton crops. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: More pesticides become necessary to grow more plants required by more people.

    China Fails Environment Targets

    January 2007, International Herald Tribune

    Only Beijing and five other provinces or municipalities improved energy efficiency by 4% and cut emissions by 2% in the first six months of 2006.

    These targets are part of the 2006-10 Five Year Plan, and call for energy consumption per unit of GDP to be cut by 20%, while pollution emissions should fall 10%.

    National Development and Reform Commission Minister Ma Kai said "it is extremely hard to achieve this year's goal".

    Much of China's airborne pollution comes from coal-burning power stations and car exhaust fumes, neither can be reduced quickly.

    Many factories also ignore the law and pump toxic waste into rivers and lakes.

    There is little sign that things are going to get better any time soon. Senior officials said the situation was worse than ever.

    2006 has been the most grim year for China's environmental situation, vice-minister Pan Yue said on the Web site of the State Environmental Protection Administration (Sepa). doclink

    Pollution Leaves Women at Greater Risk for Heart Disease, Death

    January 31, 2007, The Press-Enterprise

    The most rigorous study to link pollution and heart disease has found that women are at much greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Women living in cities with the highest levels of air particles, such as Los Angeles, Atlanta and New York, were 76% more likely to die from a heart attack or stroke than women breathing cleaner air. "The magnitude of the findings are higher than what's been seen in prior research. The study monitored the health of more than 65,000 post-menopausal women for up to nine years.

    It used pollution meters to measure the amount of particles in the air. The EPA compiled the results.

    The findings were consistent regardless of a woman's weight, smoking history, blood pressure or cholesterol levels.

    The particles affect the lining of the blood vessels, which makes it easier for cholesterol plaque to form, and also makes the blood stickier so clots are more likely to form. Women may be more vulnerable, in part, because they have smaller coronary arteries. doclink

    House That Can 'Eat' Pollution

    November 28, 2006, The Sunday Times

    Coating buildings and roads in Europe and Japan with a "smog-eating" titanium dioxide cleans surfaces and nearby air. It can reduce some pollutants by 20% to 70%. A breakthrough by a British company can create buildings that absorb pollution. The technique involves applying titanium dioxide as a spray coating to the surface of buildings or as an ingredient in plastics, fabrics and ceramic tiles. It acts as a catalyst to break down the pollutants from vehicle exhausts.The material could be applied to the outside of existing buildings or be incorporated in new ones. In addition to keeping walls clean, it has the potential to cut breathing problems by cleaning the air around buildings.

    Trials are under way in the City. Titanium dioxide has been used as a whitener in products such as toothpaste, but its ability to soak up pollution has been recognised only recently.

    The titanium dioxide allows the pollutants in the air to react with the oxygen in the air and coverts it to a form which then falls onto the ground and is washed away by the rain. doclink

    U.S.;: Engineers Gone Wild

    August 14, 2006, Planet Ark

    General Motors Corp., BMW AG and DaimlerChrysler AG plan to invest over US $1 billion in the development of a new hybrid transmission and related systems. They have about 500 engineers who have been working on the development of the next-generation hybrid engine technology. An onboard computer determines when and at what speeds the two motors will be used and how the battery will be recharged.

    Development of the transmission is expected to cost about US$300. The remainder of the investment represents the cost of integrating the new hybrid system. The hybrid engine will be available in two rear-wheel drive configurations or a front-wheel drive system. It can be adjusted to provide either improved value or high performance.

    DaimlerChrysler plans to use the new system in its 2008 Dodge Durango.

    GM will use the hybrid in versions of the Tahoe and Yukon SUVs. BMW has said it will make vehicles available with the system over the next 3 to 5 years.

    A collaborative development effort on an expensive emerging technology will become increasingly common in the auto industry.

    GM is considering an alliance with Renault-Nissan that could include shared development efforts. doclink

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    SWERUS-C3: First Observations of Methane Release From Arctic Ocean Hydrates

    Just a week into the sampling program and SWERUS-C3 scientists have discovered vast methane plumes escaping from the seafloor of the Laptev continental slope. These early glimpses of what may be in store for a warming Arctic Ocean could help scientists project the future releases of the strong greenhouse gas methane from the Arctic Ocean
    July 25, 2014, SWERUS-C3

    Note:SWERUS-C3 is a Swedish, Russian and US program investigating climate-cryosphere-carbon interactions in the Arctic Ocean.

    Expdetion Chief Scientist Örjan Gustafsson (ITM Stockholm University) writes: "While there has been much speculation about the vulnerability of regular marine hydrates along the continental slopes of the Arctic rim, very few actual observations of methane releases due to collapsing marine hydrates on the Arctic slope have been made." He thinks that the mechanism behind the presence of methane seeps at these depths may have something to do with the "tongue" of relatively warm Atlantic water, presumably recently intruding across the Arctic Ocean at 200-600 m depths."

    As this warm Atlantic water, the last remnants of the Gulf Stream, propagates eastward along the upper slope of the East Siberian margin, it may lead to destabilization of methane hydrates on the upper portion of the slope.

    SWERUS-C3 scientists could determine the depth from which methane plumes were bubbling up and detect gas seeps in the water column. " Additional observations include the discovery of over 100 new methane seep sites in the shallower waters of the Laptev shelf (at 60-70m depth), a likely consequence of the thawing subsea permafrost. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: "the comparative impact of CH4 on climate change is over 20 times greater than CO2 over a 100-year period." See

    Study: Methane Leakage From Gas Fields Guts Climate Benefit

    August 9, 2013, TheEnergyCollective

    Climatologist Ken Caldeira claimed natural gas is "a bridge to a world with high CO2 Levels;" however a study from NOAA and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) suggests natural gas may be more of gangplank than a bridge.

    Measurement from a research aircraft showed that, in the Uintah Basin the natural gas field leaked 6% to 12% of the methane produced, on average, during the days in February, "alarmingly high" according to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

    The Uinta Basin produces about 1% of total U.S. natural gas, and fracking has increased there over the past decade.

    This study confirms earlier findings of high rates of methane leakage from natural gas fields. If these findings persist elsewhere, they would disprove any direct climate benefit of natural gas, even when it is used only to switch off coal.

    Natural gas is mostly methane (CH4). And methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than (CO2), which is released when natural gas is burned -- 25 times more potent over a century and 80 - 100 times more potent over a 20-year period.

    The IEA's 2011 "Golden Age of Gas Scenario" Leads to More Than 6°F Warming and Out-of-Control Climate Change study made abundantly clear that if we want to avoid catastrophic warming, we need to start getting off of all fossil fuels.

    One study found that if the total leakage exceeds 3.2% "gas becomes worse for the climate than coal for at least some period of time."

    EDF is working with the industry to develop credible leakage numbers in a variety of locations. doclink

    The Top of the World is Melting

    December 3, 2012   By: Ben Cubby

    A new report released at the recent UN climate change negotiations in Doha, Qatar reports that the Arctic permafrost is thawing. Ancient forests locked under ice tens of thousands of years ago are beginning to melt and rot, releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases. The report is titled Policy Implications of Warming Permafrost.

    The report points out that permafrost carbon feedback had not been included in the fourth IPCC report, "Consequently, the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, due for release in stages between September 2013 and October 2014, will not include the potential effects of the permafrost carbon feedback on global climate."

    Large developed countries measure their greenhouse emissions in hundreds of millions of tons, while the Arctic's stores are measured in the tens of billions of tones, eventually adding more to emissions than last year's combined carbon output of the US and Europe. "The permafrost carbon feedback is irreversible on human time scales," the report says. Observations "indicate that large-scale thawing of permafrost may already have started." This is a "tipping point'' - where the climate becomes trapped in a vicious cycle of warming.

    "Permafrost emissions could ultimately account for up to 39 per cent of total emissions,'' says the report's lead author, Kevin Schaefer, of the University of Colorado.

    NASA scientist Charles Miller flies his small aircraft low over the ice fields in Alaska, his electronic sensors ready to help determine the precise rate and scale of the melt. His project is called NASA's Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment, or CARVE. When high levels of methane or carbon dioxide are detected on the plane's sensors, the aircraft maneuvers through the boundary layer to capture data. "What we can say is that methane is significantly elevated in places - about 2000 parts per billion, against a normal background of about 1850 parts per billion,'' he says. ''It's interesting because the models are predicting one thing and what we are observing is something fairly different.'' Miller said.

    Methane, is created as the earth thaws and organic matter is consumed by tiny organisms. It is a potent but relatively short-lived greenhouse gas - 25 times as effective at trapping heat as carbon dioxide over a century, but about 75 times as potent over 20 years. "If the Arctic becomes warmer and drier, we will see it released as carbon dioxide, but if it is warmer and wetter it will be released as methane.''

    "It had been assumed that on the timescale of the 21st century, that the effects of methane release would be relatively small compared to other effects - that's why it has been largely left out of the climate models,'' Andy Pitman, a lead author of the reports by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says. "It's happening faster than we had thought. This is not good news.''

    The cost of the permafrost omission from the report could be high if measured in financial terms, says to Dr Pep Canadell, executive director of the Global Carbon Project. If you figure the price for of a ton of carbon emissions to be "$23 like Australia does, you are looking at an extra cost of about $35 billion for the permafrost,'' he says. ''That's on top of the hundreds of billions we already know it will cost to slow emissions to reach a 2-degree level."

    "There is compelling evidence, not just that permafrost will thaw but that it is already rapidly thawing,'' says Ben Abbott, a researcher at the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. ... "a lot of permafrost is at or just below freezing. The difference between minus 1 degree Celsius and 1 degree is the difference between a fresh frozen meal and a rotten mess.'' .... '' the last time a majority of permafrost carbon was thawed and lost to the atmosphere, temperatures increased by 6 degrees Celsius." ... "Mix in the potent feedbacks from the permafrost system and it becomes clear that we need to act now.'' doclink

    France: Belching Cows Join the Apocalypse

    October 10, 2005, TerraDaily

    According to a researcher, France's 20 million cows account for 6.5% of national greenhouse-gas emissions. Each year, their belches send 26 million tonnes of gases into the atmosphere. Their faeces account for 12 million tonnes. Bovine gas comprises methane and nitrous oxide, which are 21 and 310 times more effective at trapping solar heat than CO2. Methane is to blame for a fifth of the greenhouse effect of the past 200 years. Agriculture and forestry have been identified as major factors in the greenhouse debate, but data is sparse, and has made decisions difficult. Yet scientists warned that the assumption that forests are "carbon sinks" was uncertain and possibly dangerous. France's cow population accounts for 80% of emissions from farm animals, with the rest from sheep, goats, pigs and fowl. Ideas for attenuating bovine pollutioninclude higher-protein fodder as soya can reduce the gastic fermentation, and faecal waste put in a closed silo that traps the methane, which can be burned as a biofuel. Australian scientists are trying a vaccine against three species of microbe that produce methane in sheep's stomachs. doclink

    Methane Targeted by U.S. as McCain Raps Bush on Global Warming

    November 17, 2004, San Francisco Chronicle

    The U.S. signed an agreement with 13 other nations that calls for investing up to $53 million in companies that will profitably control emissions of methane, mainly from landfills. They are second behind carbon dioxide for warming the earth's climate. Earlier Sen. McCain called on President Bush to do more to fight global warming. McCain had been playing down his policy differences with Bush to support the president's re-election. McCain said the study demonstrates that climate change is real but Sen. James Inhofe, chairman of the environment committee, called the study yet another scare tactic. A study released says the Arctic is vulnerable to warming from greenhouse gases and projects that polar bears could become extinct, and seals, caribou, reindeer herds and the people who depend on them for food also could be threatened. The Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality said that the administration's strategy is broader than perceived and will reduce the greenhouse gas in the American economy by 18%. Research and technology programs exceed $5 billion yearly. The climate plan, unveiled in 2002, calls on industry to voluntarily reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released by 18% by 2012, or about 1.5% a year - about the same rate that has occurred over the past 12 years. Bush rejected an international climate treaty for controls on carbon dioxide and other gases. McCain has held hearings to build support for a bill he sponsored with Sen. Lieberman, to impose modest mandatory controls on U.S. greenhouse gases. The 13 other countries signing the agreement were Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, China, Colombia, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia and Ukraine. doclink

    Methane Hydrates Could Be Next Big Energy Source; Enviros Concerned

    March 16, 2004, Salon

    Methane hydrates under the ocean floor and the Alaskan permafrost may be the world's next energy source, if they can be extracted safely. Ten trillion tons of carbon are trapped in the compounds which form when methane is subjected to cold and high-pressure. They can explode or release methane, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. Extracting and processing them is six times more expensive than traditional oil and gas drilling. The DoE is paying for technological advancements that could make it cheaper. Environmentalists worry as burning methane hydrates is like opening a Pandora's box with quite probably a genocidal genie within it. doclink

    After 200 Years of Growth, Level of Methane Stabilizes

    November 25, 2003, New York Times*

    After a 200-year rise, levels of methane have stopped growing - which shows that curbing emissions could slow global warming. Methane contributes to the formation of ozone, an ingredient of smog. Methane remains in the atmosphere for only 8 to 10 years; carbon dioxide can last a century. Human actions appear to be the cause, specifically the shutdown of oil and gas extraction after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Old production methods released gas from leaking pipelines, uncapped wells and the like. Less leaky methods are being adopted now. Emissions of methane are more controllable than carbon dioxide, but this is the first time that scientists have found a sustained plateau in methane concentrations. Methane has many sources, about 70% from fossil-fuel extraction, but also from cattle and termites, wetlands, rice paddies and garbage dumps. There was a drop in emissions in 1991 and 1992 in a region dominated by Russia and Canada and evidence pointed to Russia. The drop in methane levels have compensated for a rise in emissions from Asia. Some scientists note that the estimates of emissions from nonindustrial sources like rice cultivation, are extremely rough. Flares on oil rigs destroy only a portion of the methane and could reveal overall activity and leakage. Will methane resume the climb? Now that natural gas has become a valuable commodity, there are economic incentives to stop leaks. doclink

    Extinction Traced to Methane Burp

    July 27, 2000, Environmental News Network

    Many forms of life, including 80% of some deep-sea species, suddenly
    vanished 183 million years ago. In an article published in the journal target=_top href="">Nature, huge
    reservoirs of methane trapped beneath the ocean floor rapidly escaped during
    prehistoric volcanic-caused global warming and depleted much of the sea's
    oxygen, according to new research by Stephen Hesselbo, an Oxford University
    researcher. The study also raised questions about the stability of today's
    sea floor reservoir of methane hydrate, which the federal government plans
    to study as a possible energy source. "How easy it is to release the methane
    that is there," Hesselbo said. Methane hydrate is formed beneath the sea
    floor when algae from the surface dies and sinks. Beneath the ocean floor,
    methane exists in an ice-like state but is susceptible to changes in
    pressure and temperature. Researchers believe that during the Jurassic
    period carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases were spewed into the
    atmosphere by massive volcanic eruptions, warming the subocean floor by deep
    ocean currents, which in turn freed the methane from its suboceanic cage.
    The methane then used the oxygen in the water or atmosphere to form carbon
    dioxide, accelerating the global warming. The release was estimated to be
    20% of the present-day 14,000 billion tons of gas hydrate on the sea floor.
    The event took place over 5,000 years. Note: Other governments, including the
    Japanese, are also studing this possibility. Harvesting the methane also has
    a potential for releasing it into the atmosphere. But, as our huge
    population uses up available petroleum, the attention of energy hogs will
    turn to risky alternatives. doclink

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    Climate Change

    Past, Present, and Future World Population and Average Air Temperatures

    October 2014

    Population (billions)YearYears to add 1 billionTemperature (C)

    Source: UN Population Division and World Meteorological Organization.
    * For period 1880-91 **  For year 2010

    September 2010

    Global Warming "Today, for every one of the more than 5.8 billion people on Earth nearly six tons of carbon dioxide are spewed into the air annually. As a result of our activities, the atmospheric concentration of this heat-trapping gas has risen by more than 30 percent." Environmental Defense Fund

    Since loading this page, metric tons of CO2 were emitted (708 tons/sec)


    Close to Home: When Climate, Population and Food Collide

    January 11, 2015, Santa Rosa Press Democrat   By: Jeff Baldwin and Asher Sheppard

    The shift from muscle power to energy from combustion of fossil fuels releases vast amounts of carbon that living organisms took from the atmosphere hundreds of millions of years ago. Energy stored in the coal, oil and gas of Earth's crust powers large-scale industrialization, while the accompanying greenhouse gas emissions warm Earth's climate.

    Technology- intensive industrial agriculture is producing the food for many of Earth's billions. As Western Europe, North America and Japan industrialized, farmers were pushed off their lands and moved to cities. Large families became problematic as women went to work outside the home. Education and the ability to control fertility have combined with these societal changes to cut fertility rates markedly in the developed world.

    In many developing countries women commonly have more than five children -- most too poor to buy enough food should prices rise. Meanwhile rapidly developing populous countries have burgeoning middle classes desirous of more animal protein, which requires three to 15 times its weight in feed.

    In the last century, world population increased from about 2 billion to 6 billion people. Fortunately global food production kept up thanks to the industrialization of agriculture, including increased mechanization, new plant varieties, refrigeration, long-distance transportation and agrochemicals, including petrochemical fertilizers. Each of these technologies increases emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide -- the very greenhouse gases that hasten climate change and threaten agricultural productivity with drought, flood and soil loss.

    In the tropics many small-farm families have been forced onto marginal lands where they face greater threats from floods, drought, erosion, and extreme weather events. One-half the global food supply is is produced by small farmers.

    Decreasing snowfalls in the world's high mountain ranges threaten the water supplies essential for production on long-established lands and those newly brought into production by the Green Revolution. In the tropics, where the majority of humanity lives, high temperatures are expected to reduce crop production by up to 50% by 2080.

    We cannot afford paralysis in face of population growth and climate change. There is reason to hope for success ahead. doclink

    The Disaster We've Wrought on the World's Oceans May Be Irrevocable

    July 2, 2014, Newsweek   By: Alex Renton

    Rising greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are causing global temperatures to rise, which is leading to the melting of the polar ice caps, which in turn has resulted in rising sea levels and a host of ecological issues.

    On the fish counters of Barcelona's central market, thousands of sea creatures making up dozens of species are on display. But by the end of this century, many of these animals may be history due to man's reckless abuse of the planet. The oceans are taking up the greenhouse gases that we dump into the air, which turns the waters deadly to its inhabitants.

    Many species on the market's fish counters are also on one or more European "at-risk" lists: under threat because of overfishing or changes in the chain of foods that supply them, or from the bigger threat of the changing ocean biogeochemistry. Bivalves such as clams, oysters and mussels use calcium carbonate to make their shells. However, in as little as 20 years they will be very different and, in some parts of the world, entirely gone.

    Other sea creatures with shells don't make their shells the same way but the acidification appears to harm the working of the gills and change the behavior of the crustaceans when they are very young.

    This acidification is the fastest change in the ocean's chemistry in 300 million years, according to scientists.

    A significant amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere comes from the burning of carbon fuels. Carbon dioxide is absorbed by seawater, lowering the pH level and increasing its acidity. "In preindustrial times the ocean's pH was 8.2. It has already gone down to 8.1," says Carles Pelejero, a scientist working in Barcelona. "Depending on what we do, it will reach an average of 7.8 or 7.7 by 2100. It hasn't been that low for 55 million years."

    The ocean is a key food supply for more than 3 billion of us.

    Along the coasts and out in the deep, huge "dead zones" have been multiplying. They are the emptiest places on the planet, where there's little oxygen and sometimes no life at all, almost entirely restricted to some unicellular organisms like bacteria. Vast blooms of algae-organisms that thrive in more acid (and less alkaline) seawater and are fed by pollution-have already rendered parts of the Baltic Sea pretty much dead. A third of the marine life in that sea, which once fed all of Northern Europe,

    What worries Pelejero most is the rapidity of today's changes. The same shifts that happened over the course of a few thousand years during the PETM (Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum) are now due to happen over just a few centuries, counting from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the widespread use of fossil fuels.

    One ray of hope is that the Obama administration announced a series of measures aimed to conserve the ocean as a key food supply. These included more ocean sanctuaries to curtail overfishing, and new funds to research ocean biochemistry, including acidification. doclink

    Modern Ocean Acidification is Outpacing Ancient Upheaval: Rate May Be Ten Times Faster

    June 2, 2014, ScienceDaily   By: Donald Penman

    In a study published in the latest issue of Paleoceanography, the scientists estimate that ocean acidity increased by about 100% in a few thousand years or more, and stayed that way for the next 70,000 years. In this radically changed environment, some creatures died out while others adapted and evolved. The study is the first to use the chemical composition of fossils to reconstruct surface ocean acidity at the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a period of intense warming on land and throughout the oceans due to high CO2.

    The oceans have absorbed about a third of the carbon humans have pumped into the air since industrialization, helping to keep earth's thermostat lower than it would be otherwise. But that uptake of carbon has come at a price. Chemical reactions caused by that excess CO2 have made seawater grow more acidic, depleting it of the carbonate ions that corals, mollusks and calcifying plankton need to build their shells and skeletons.

    For more, follow the link at doclink

    Coal Fires are 'Global Catastrophe'

    February 14, 2003, BBC News

    Hundreds of coal fires are pumping pollutants into the atmosphere. They are most severe in China, India, and Indonesia, although smaller fires are burning in Colorado and Pennsylvania. Sunlight and oxygen can cause spontaneous combustion but they are frequently caused by humans. The burning coal may be in abandoned mines or waste piles, or coal seams ignited by heat from above-ground fires set to clear the landscape. In Indonesia, forest fires that began during 1982 started fires in outcrops of coal that still burn today and threaten national parks as well as a nature reserve used as a reintroduction site for the endangered orangutan. In 1997-98, of the resulting coal fires that started from a forest fire in Borneo, 159 are still burning and 106 have been extinguished. Goodson and Associates Inc has produced a mixture of sand, cement, fly ash, water, and foam that can be pumped around burning material to cut off the oxygen sources. Satellites are used to try to gauge the scale of the problem and are helping China detect and monitor the fires in the northern regions. Curbing coal fires could be a way of reducing CO2 emissions. Estimates suggest the Chinese fires account for 2-3% of the annual emissions of CO2 from fossil fuels. doclink

    Global Environment Reaches Dangerous Crossroads

    February 16, 2001, Worldwatch Institute

    Worldwatch Institute has released State of the World 2001. A loss of political momentum on environmental issues has coincided with signs of accelerated ecological decline; for example, the breakdown of global climate talks. The Arctic ice cap has already thinned by 42%, and 27% of the world's coral reefs have been lost. Natural disasters, due mostly to environmental degradation, have cost the world $608 billion over the last decade - as much as in the preceeding 40 years combined.

    Climate models show the Earth's temperature rising by as much as 6 degrees above the 1990 level by 2100. The impacts would be acute water shortages, declining food production, and the spread of deadly diseases like malaria and dengue fever. Due to population growth, people have had to settle in flood-prone valleys and on unstable hillsides, where deforestation and climate change have increased their vulnerability to disasters such as Hurricane Mitch.

    More clean, renewable energy is needed. For example, Iceland is pioneering an effort to harness geothermal and hydropower to produce hydrogen fuel for automobiles and fishing boats. And three oil companies are moving "beyond petroleum" to alternative energy investments. There needs to be stronger enforcement of treaties, and for increased North-South cooperation` with the help of environmentally and economically influential E9 countries: China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Russia, Japan, South Africa, and the European Union, together which account for nearly three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions.

    The U.S. alone uses more than one third of the world's transport energy. While on the good side, global production of CFCs dropped by 85% between 1986 and 1997, on the other hand, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 100,000 underground storage tanks in the United States are leaking and that nearly 60% of wells sampled in agricultural areas in the US in the 1990s contained synthetic pesticides. World meat consumption has climbed from 44 million tons in 1950 to 217 million tons in 1999, an increase of nearly fivefold. This growth is roughly double that of population growth, and raised meat intake per person has increased worldwide from 17 kilograms in 1950 to 36 kilograms in 1999. doclink

    Earth Overshoot Day - Aug 13 This Year

    August 12, 2015, Global Footprint Network

    In less than eight months, humanity has used up nature's budget for the entire year, according to data of Global Footprint Network. Carbon emissions from fossil fuel now make up more than half of humanity's demand on nature.

    Global Footprint Network tracks humanity's demand on the planet (Ecological Footprint) -- see -- against nature's ability to provide for this demand (biocapacity). The Ecological Footprint adds up humanity's annual demand for the goods and services that our land and seas provide - fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, wood, cotton for clothing and carbon dioxide absorption.

    Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity's annual demand on nature exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. Earth Overshoot Day has moved from early October in 2000 to August 13th this year.

    "Humanity's carbon footprint alone more than doubled since the early 1970s, when the world went into ecological overshoot. It remains the largest and fastest growing component of the Ecological Footprint. It is widening the gap between human demand and the planet's biocapacity," said Mathis Wackernagel, president of Global Footprint Network and the co-creator of the Ecological Footprint resource accounting metric. Over the course of 2015, the absorption of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuel alone would require 85% of the planet's biocapacity.

    If global carbon emissions are reduced by at least 30% below today's levels by 2030, in keeping with the below-two-degrees-Celsius scenario worked out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Earth Overshoot Day could be moved back on the calendar to September 16, 2030. doclink

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