The expansion and impact of world fishing fleets in a) 1950 and b) 2006. The maps show the geographical expansion of world fishing fleets from 1950 to 2006 (the latest available data). Since 1950, the area fished by global fishing fleets has increased ten-fold. By 2006 100 million km2, around 1/3 of the ocean surface, was already heavily impacted by fishing. worldwildlife.org

The expansion and impact of world fishing fleets in a) 1950 and b) 2006. The maps show the geographical expansion of world fishing fleets from 1950 to 2006 (the latest available data). Since 1950, the area fished by global fishing fleets has increased ten-fold. By 2006 100 million km2, around 1/3 of the ocean surface, was already heavily impacted by fishing.

Primary production rate (PPR) is a value that describes the total amount of food a fish needs to grow within a certain region. Blue: At least 10% PPR extraction; orange: At least 30% PPR extraction; red: At least 20% PPR extraction.  worldwildlife.org

The consequences of increased fishing intensity have been dramatic for the marine environment. Between 1950 and 2005, “industrial” fisheries expanded from the coastal waters of the North Atlantic and Northwest Pacific southward into the high seas and the Southern Hemisphere.

Improved fishing technology allowed deep-sea trawling, purse seining and long-lining in waters several kilometres deep, reaching populations that are long lived, late maturing and very sensitive to overfishing. One-third of the world’s oceans and two thirds of continental shelves are now exploited by fisheries, with only inaccessible waters in the Arctic and Antarctic remaining
relatively unexploited.

A nearly five-fold increase in global catch, from 19 million tonnes in 1950 to 87 million tonnes in 2005 (Swartz et al., 2010), has left many fisheries overexploited (FAO, 2010b). In some areas fish stocks have collapsed, such as the cod fisheries of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland (FAO, 2010b). Catch rates of some species of large predatory fishes – such as marlin, tuna and billfish – have dramatically declined over the last 50 years, particularly in coastal areas of the North Atlantic and the North Pacific (Tremblay-Boyer et al., 2011). This continuing trend also applies to sharks and other marine species.

Targeted fishing of top predators has changed whole ecological communities, with increasing abundance of smaller marine animals at lower trophic levels as a consequence of the larger species being removed. This in turn has an impact on the growth of algae and coral health.

2012 Living Planet Report [pdf]

50Hertz power grid interventions in Germany, 28-31 March 2012. 'Welt Online' reported on 'alarm level yellow' for German power grids on 28 and 29 March 2012. At 8:48 pm one of two circuits of the 380 kV line Wolmirsted-Helmstedt tripped. The other followed 12 minutes later. The interventions included about 2000 MW redispatch and about 4000 MW feed-in reductions. theoildrum.com

By Paul-Frederik Bach
30 May 2012

With a steep growth of power generation from photovoltaic (PV) and wind power and with 8 GW base load capacity suddenly taken out of service the situation in Germany has developed into a nightmare for system operators.

The peak demand in Germany is about 80 GW. The variations of wind and PV generation create situations which require long distance transport of huge amounts of power. The grid capacity is far from sufficient for these transports. The result is a remarkably large number of curtailments of RES (Renewable Energy Sources).

Reports from the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E)[1] and the German Grid Agency[2] reflect concern for the operational security of the power system. The risk of a prolonged and widespread power blackout was earlier recognized by the German Bundestag and discussed in an interesting report[3].

This note will present main conclusions from the three reports combined with data, collected from the German system operators.

Since January 2012, all 4 German system operators have published estimated PV generation based on representative samples. The data will give research environments a new opportunity to analyse the impact of RES in Germany.

Some observations are possible […]:

  • Wind power peaks seem not to be simultaneous with PV peaks. This means that PV does not add its full peak capacity to the grid problems during high wind periods.
  • The main part of the German wind power is installed in the northern part of the country while the main part of the PV capacity is installed in Bavaria. The nuclear moratorium has created the most serious supply problems in the southern part of Germany. This observation suggests additional PV generation to relieve the supply problems.
  • PV generation cannot reduce the need for peak capacity. The reason is that there is no PV generation during the evening peak load.
  • The regulating work which must be made by controllable power sources grows considerably with the growth of wind power and PV. TenneT is one of Germany’s 4 main grid operators. In the TenneT area a calculation for April 2011 has shown that wind power alone would extend the regulating range by more than 50%, while the actual combination of wind power and PV has doubled the regulating range. […]

German Power Grids Increasingly Strained

By Dalina Castellanos
30 May 2012

The Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire in New Mexico hasn't just broken the record for the largest blaze in state history, it's shattered it.

An infrared reading about midnight Tuesday measured the fire at 170,272 acres, leaving last year’s 156,593-acre Las Conchas fire in the dust. That acreage roughly translates to 269 square miles, more than half the size of city of Los Angeles.

“The fire seems to be growing in all directions,” fire information officer Gerry Perry told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s certainly been a complicated fire.”

It has indeed.

The fire -- a combination of two fires, both started by lightning -- has been burning for two weeks and is at 0% containment, Perry said. The low humidity and high wind, combined with the Gila National Forest’s rugged terrain, have made fighting the fire particularly challenging. […]

Gila wildfire becomes biggest in New Mexico history


30 May 2012 (MSNBC) – A wildfire burning in the Gila National Forest consumed nearly 20,000 more acres in a day and is now, by far, the largest blaze on record in New Mexico, a fire incident spokesman told msnbc.com.

"It's certainly not a record we're happy with," Gerry Perry said in reporting that aerial infrared readings last night led to a new count: 170,272 acres, or 265 square miles, burned -- up from 152,000 acres on Tuesday.

The Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire surpassed the 2011 Las Conchas Fire, which had been the largest on record in New Mexico at 157,000 acres. That blaze threatened property around Los Alamos National Laboratory, the nation's premier nuclear facility.

More than 1,200 firefighters and 12 helicopters from around the state are fighting the blaze.

Perry said continued extremely low humidity is making efforts against the fire difficult.

The fire is at zero containment and officials fear it will burn until the monsoon rain season in July.

Two lightning-sparked fires merged last week to form the giant blaze, which has destroyed 12 cabins and seven small outbuildings.

One fire was first spotted May 9 and the second blaze was sparked May 16, but nearly all of the growth has come in recent days due to relentless winds. Officials also said a "record breaking dry air mass" and persistent drought in the region contributed to the fire's growth. […]

Wildfire shatters record for largest in New Mexico

Part of the fleet of fishing boats moored at Pine Point in Scarborough, Maine. In Spring 2012, Lobstermen there and across southern Maine report an earlier shed in the lobster population than they've ever seen, but are unsure what that means for the rest of the season. Mario Moretto / The Forecaster

By Mario Moretto
15 May 2012

SCARBOROUGH – The early arrival of soft-shell lobsters along the southern Maine coast has industry insiders scratching their heads about what the unusual spring landings mean for the rest of the season.

At Pine Point, third-generation Scarborough lobsterman Dennis Violette, pulled two big crates full of lobster from his early season catch and picked one out; its shell folded like paper under his hand.

"Today we got probably 60, 65 percent soft-shells," Violette said. "That's not the norm."

Soft-shells, or "shedders," have been landing on southern Maine docks for about a month. They don't normally show up in force until sometime in mid-June or early July, said Tim Staples, manager of the Pine Point Fisherman's Co-Op. He said some harvesters are bringing in nothing but soft-shells.

Lobsters grow by casting off their exoskeletons and replacing them with newer, bigger ones. After shedding, the lobster doesn't quite fill out its new body, like a child wearing hand-me-downs that are a little too big. It takes time for the lobster to fill out and for its shell to harden.

Soft-shell lobsters have less meat per pound and don't ship well because of their delicate exteriors. Lobstermen get a lower price from wholesalers, who in turn charge consumers less for soft- or new-shelled lobsters than for ones with sturdy hard shells.

Violette and other lobster industry insiders – wholesalers, retailers, researchers and policy experts – say they've never seen such an early shed, and are unsure what it could mean for the rest of the season.

"We're dealing with something that's never happened in the historical memory of the lobster industry, with the soft-shells coming this early," said Matt McAleney, general manager of New Meadows Lobster, a Portland wholesaler.

McAleney said it's not as simple an equation as "more shedders caught now means fewer hard-shells caught later." There are a lot of variables, he said, and no one can predict what such an early shed means because it's unprecedented.

"There's so many different factors," he said. "Have there been more soft-shells than we've seen in recent memory? Absolutely. Do we know what means in the future? We have no idea. … I have one lobsterman who is 90 years old, and he's never seen this. You just don't know."

McAleney speculated the mild winter caused the early shed. Many factors determine when a lobster will shed, including food supply, availability of shelter and salinity, but temperature is by far the most important. Warmer water means its time to molt.

"The lobsters in their little caves don't have calendars," McAleney said. "They go by the temperature and how it feels." […]

Early arrival of soft-shell lobsters perplexes Maine lobster industry

The Atlantic Ocean is brown with runoff from the Rio de la Plata flowing between Argentina and Uruguay. Kim JenkinsNEW YORK, New York, 22 May 2012 (ENS) – Oceans cover about 72 percent of Earth's surface area and there are an estimated 250,000 marine species. "Yet, despite its importance, marine biodiversity has not fared well at human hands," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today in his message to mark the International Day for Biological Diversity.

More than half of global fisheries are exhausted and a further third depleted, warned the secretary-general. Between 30 and 35 percent of critical marine environments, such as seagrasses, mangroves and coral reefs, have been destroyed.

Plastic debris continues to kill marine life, and polluted runoff from land-based activities is deadening vast areas of coastal waters, leaving these dead zones without oxygen.

"Added to all of this," said Ban, "increased burning of fossil fuels is affecting the global climate, making the sea surface warmer, causing sea level to rise and increasing ocean acidity, with consequences we are only beginning to comprehend." The Waved Albatross, or Galapagos Albatross, Phoebastria irrorata, is Critically Endangered. This mated pair is on Espanola Island, Ecuador. D. Gordon E. Robertson

The UN General Assembly proclaimed May 22 as the International Day for Biological Diversity, to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. The theme for this year's observance is marine diversity.

Commercial fisheries are the most serious threat facing the world's seabirds, finds the nonprofit advocacy organization BirdLife International, which says fisheries are responsible for the incidental deaths of hundreds of thousands of seabirds each year. Longliners, trawlers, and gillnetters are all to blame.

"For several species of albatross, this level of mortality is unsustainable and they are now perilously close to extinction," says BirdLife. "In addition, the negative impact of overfishing on seabirds continues to increase as fisheries target ever smaller fish."

The IUCN Red List Index for birds shows that nearly half of seabird species are known or suspected to be experiencing population declines. Open ocean bird species are faring particularly badly. Of the 346 known seabird species, 97 species are globally threatened, while 17 are listed as Critically Endangered.

Secretary-general Ban says that on land nearly 15 percent of surface area is under some kind of protection, but at sea, "little more than one percent of marine environments are protected." […]

Web of Marine Life Dissolving Under Human Onslaught

The North Dakota oil boom has brought thousands of jobs and economic prosperity to the region -- along with an increase in crime, pollution, and potential health problems. Gregory Bull / AP ImagesBy Keith Schneider
21 May 2012

To understand the magnitude of the current oil and gas boom in North Dakota, you need only stand alongside U.S. Route 85 anywhere just north or south of Williston at night. The area’s 200 drilling rigs are lit up like carnival rides: towers of floodlights make up a luminous vertical cityscape amid the surrounding darkness. Semis hauling heavy equipment, pipe, water, fuel, oil, rigging, and any number of other loads roll past -- an unyielding train of oilfield supplies and products. And in the spaces where there aren’t semis, there are pickups hauling men back and forth to the drill sites.

Five years ago, say locals, this stretch of U.S. 85 was as quiet as a dance floor on a Tuesday morning, and the small towns of western North Dakota were drying up like shallow lakes in the desert. Now some are predicting that Williston, where fewer than 13,000 people lived a decade ago, could reach 35,000 by the year 2020. The more fevered projections have it eventually reaching 100,000 -- almost the size of the entire Bismarck metropolitan region.

Driving the population surge in North Dakota and in other energy-producing states are jobs. Scott Terrell drives a Volvo haul truck on a construction crew that builds the flat-as-a-table, laser-graded oil drilling pads that now dot the northern Great Plains like a dropped stack of playing cards. During the long light of summer, he spends 14 hours a day behind the wheel breathing dust. In the fierce cold, wind, and dark of the Dakota winter, the 58-year-old Terrell drives 12-hour days. He works three weeks on, then gets a week off to go home to his wife. […]

See Also: A Boom in Health Problems Accompanies Fracking

The Saturday morning that Terrell and I meet for breakfast at Gramma Sharon’s Family Restaurant in Williston, every single seat is taken by men fueling up on eggs and chicken-fried steak before heading out to work. As he eats, Terrell acknowledges the dangers that go with the job of being one of the new breed of roughnecks in this era of fracking. He brings up a recent fiery explosion on a drilling platform that killed two young workers and badly burned two others. Drilling crews, he notes, routinely probe portions of the Bakken shale formation that are saturated with hydrogen sulfide, a lethal gas.

Even just driving to and from work is hazardous, he tells me. During its first year of operation, each drill site is served by an average of 2,000 round trips made by big trucks hauling equipment, chemicals, men, water, and materials. Taking into account the number of wells drilled last year, that’s nearly 110,000 round trips to well sites every single day. In short, the highways in western North Dakota are now packed with giant trucks moving very fast -- the principal cause for a marked increase in the state’s highway fatalities.

Almost 30 years ago, Terrell worked 100-hour weeks on Alaska’s North Slope. "We were a mobile exploration crew and worked -- minimum -- seven days at 14 hours per day, with a few extra hours usually thrown in," he recalls. "It was much more organized in Prudhoe Bay and the outlying oil fields and exploration areas, compared to the oil patch in the Dakotas, Montana, and Wyoming. The fracking, and all that’s required with this process, makes it much more intense and heavy equipment-oriented." Hence Terrell’s ironic, uncomfortable name for his new workplace: The War Zone.

The heavy toll that this supercharged industrial advance is exacting on the land, the air, the water, human health, and the region’s sense of stability and security is easy to discern, if hard to measure. Waste pits overflow. Migratory birds are dying. New roads, pipelines, and drill sites are slicing the prairie. School buildings are overflowing with new students. A sense of personal menace is enveloping the area, whether from rising rates of fatal traffic accidents, or more crime -- including murder. In January, a 43-year-old teacher in eastern Montana was kidnapped while jogging near her home; her body was later found on a farmstead outside of Williston. That same month an oilfield worker was killed and dumped in a ditch in another town close by. The police arrested and charged out-of-state oil workers in both crimes. […]

Growing Pains: Scenes from the North Dakota Drilling Boom

Nomadic pastoralists Turkana tribesmen herd goats and sheep to an almost dry dam on the outskirts of Gakong, in northwestern Kenya. Stephen Morrison / EPA

By Clar Ni Chonghaile, www.guardian.co.uk
25 May 2012

NAIROBI – Even as drought persists in parts of Kenya's arid north, intense rains are claiming lives in other parts of the country – flooding slums in the capital Nairobi, sweeping away hikers in the Rift Valley, and destroying crops.

Many Kenyans shake their heads in dismay at the increasingly extreme and volatile weather, which is costing money as well as lives in east Africa's economic powerhouse.

Wilbur Ottichilo, an environmental scientist and member of parliament, wants to equip Kenya to deal with these extremes. He has drafted a bill to set up an independent Climate Change Authority to advise on adapting to global warming and cutting the country's greenhouse gas emissions.

He describes the move as a landmark for the continent – Nigeria is the only other African country to have approved a bill to set up a similar body. But President Goodluck Jonathan has not yet signed the bill into law.

Ottichilo's bill is ready for debate and he is confident it will go before parliament soon. He says more than 100 MPs, out of 222, have already expressed support.

"The [Climate Change] authority will coordinate all climate change activities in the country because climate change cuts across all sectors," Ottichilo told the Guardian.

It will establish a national registry for energy and carbon emissions reporting by public and private entities, and set targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Anyone found guilty of committing an offence – such as failing to comply with targets – could be fined up to two million shillings (£15,000) or jailed for up to five years, or both.

The authority will also be able to draw up incentives to promote renewable energy sources.

Ottichilo says action is urgent, citing the heavy seasonal rains that have pounded the country for several weeks after starting late in mid-April instead of mid-March.

"Instead of having uniform, long distribution, it has come in a short block of intense rains so this is going to have a major impact on food security," Ottichilo said

Crops will not have matured when the rains end, and shortages may really bite when the dry season returns, bringing drought to some areas. […]

"For us, climate change is not an abstract academic study. It is a day-to-day, bread-and-butter question," said Professor Patricia Kameri-Mbote, an environmental lawyer and chairperson of the advisory board at Strathmore Law School in Nairobi. She advised Ottichilo on the bill. […]

Kenya's bid to become the first African nation to set up a climate authority

This 5 March 2007 file photo shows workers harvesting bluefin tuna from Maricultura’s tuna pens near Ensenada, Mexico. New research found increased levels of radiation in Pacific bluefin tuna caught off the coast of Southern California. Scientists said the radiation found in the fish came from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant that was crippled by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. CHRIS PARK / AP Photo

By ALICIA CHANG, AP Science Writer
28 May 2012

Across the vast Pacific, the mighty bluefin tuna carried radioactive contamination that leaked from Japan's crippled nuclear plant to the shores of the United States 6,000 miles away - the first time a huge migrating fish has been shown to carry radioactivity such a distance.

"We were frankly kind of startled," said Nicholas Fisher, one of the researchers reporting the findings online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The levels of radioactive cesium were 10 times higher than the amount measured in tuna off the California coast in previous years. But even so, that's still far below safe-to-eat limits set by the U.S. and Japanese governments.

Previously, smaller fish and plankton were found with elevated levels of radiation in Japanese waters after a magnitude-9 earthquake in March 2011 triggered a tsunami that badly damaged the Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors.

But scientists did not expect the nuclear fallout to linger in huge fish that sail the world because such fish can metabolize and shed radioactive substances.

One of the largest and speediest fish, Pacific bluefin tuna can grow to 10 feet and weigh more than 1,000 pounds. They spawn off the Japan coast and swim east at breakneck speed to school in waters off California and the tip of Baja California, Mexico.

Five months after the Fukushima disaster, Fisher of Stony Brook University in New York and a team decided to test Pacific bluefin that were caught off the coast of San Diego. To their surprise, tissue samples from all 15 tuna captured contained levels of two radioactive substances - ceisum-134 and cesium-137 - that were higher than in previous catches.

To rule out the possibility that the radiation was carried by ocean currents or deposited in the sea through the atmosphere, the team also analyzed yellowfin tuna, found in the eastern Pacific, and bluefin that migrated to Southern California before the nuclear crisis. They found no trace of cesium-134 and only background levels of cesium-137 left over from nuclear weapons testing in the 1960s.

The results "are unequivocal. Fukushima was the source," said Ken Buesseler of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who had no role in the research. […]

Radioactive bluefin tuna crossed the Pacific to US

Reporters and Tepco workers at Reactor No. 4 at Fukushima Daiichi, which the environment and nuclear minister visited Saturday, 26 May 2012. Tomohiro Ohsumi / Bloomberg News

By HIROKO TABUCHI and MATTHEW L. WALD
26 May 2012

TOKYO – What passes for normal at the Fukushima Daiichi plant today would have caused shudders among even the most sanguine of experts before an earthquake and tsunami set off the world’s second most serious nuclear crisis after Chernobyl.

Fourteen months after the accident, a pool brimming with used fuel rods and filled with vast quantities of radioactive cesium still sits on the top floor of a heavily damaged reactor building, covered only with plastic.

The public’s fears about the pool have grown in recent months as some scientists have warned that it has the most potential for setting off a new catastrophe, now that the three nuclear reactors that suffered meltdowns are in a more stable state, and as frequent quakes continue to rattle the region.

The worries picked up new traction in recent days after the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco, said it had found a slight bulge in one of the walls of the reactor building, stoking fears over the building’s safety.

To try to quell such worries, the government sent the environment and nuclear minister to the plant on Saturday, where he climbed a makeshift staircase in protective garb to look at the structure supporting the pool, which he said appeared sound. The minister, Goshi Hosono, added that although the government accepted Tepco’s assurances that reinforcement work had shored up the building, it ordered the company to conduct further studies because of the bulge.

Some outside experts have also worked to allay fears, saying that the fuel in the pool is now so old that it cannot generate enough heat to start the kind of accident that would allow radioactive material to escape.

But many Japanese scoff at those assurances and point out that even if the building is strong enough, which they question, the jury-rigged cooling system for the pool has already malfunctioned several times, including a 24-hour failure in April. Had the outages continued, they would have left the rods at risk of dangerous overheating. Government critics are especially concerned, since Tepco has said the soonest it could begin emptying the pool is late 2013, dashing hopes for earlier action.

“The No. 4 reactor is visibly damaged and in a fragile state, down to the floor that holds the spent fuel pool,” said Hiroaki Koide, an assistant professor at Kyoto University’s Research Reactor Institute and one of the experts raising concerns. “Any radioactive release could be huge and go directly into the environment.”

Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, expressed similar concerns during a trip to Japan last month.

The fears over the pool at Reactor No. 4 are helping to undermine assurances by Tepco and the Japanese government that the Fukushima plant has been stabilized, and are highlighting how complicated the cleanup of the site, expected to take decades, will be. The concerns are also raising questions about whether Japan’s all-out effort to convince its citizens that nuclear power is safe kept the authorities from exploring other — and some say safer — options for storing used fuel rods.

“It was taboo to raise questions about the spent fuel that was piling up,” said Hideo Kimura, who worked as a nuclear fuel engineer at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in the 1990s. “But it was clear that there was nowhere for the spent fuel to go.” […]

Spent Fuel Rods Drive Growing Fear Over Plant in Japan

America's Most Endangered Rivers for 2012. americanrivers.org

1. Potomac River
Pollution and Clean Water Act rollbacks have national implications.

2. Green River
Water withdrawals could threaten a water-strapped region.

3. Chattahoochee River
New dams and reservoirs threaten to dry up the river flow.

4. Missouri River
Outdated flood management putting public safety at risk.

5. Hoback River
Natural gas development putting clean water, world-class fishing and wildlife in danger.

6. Grand River
Natural gas development threaten clean water and public health.

7. Skykomish River
New dam endangering wildlife habitat and recreation.

8. Crystal River
Dams and water diversions putting fish, wildlife, and recreation at risk.

9. Coal River
Mountaintop removal coal mining endangering clean water and public health.

10. Kansas River
Sand and gravel dredging could cause severe harm to clean water, wildlife.

America's Most Endangered Rivers for 2012

Cover of 'The Fate of the Species: Why the Human Race May Cause Its Own Extinction and How We Can Stop It', by Fred Guterl, published 22 May 2012. By Fred Guterl 
25 May 2012

Adapted from The Fate of the Species: Why the Human Race May Cause Its Own Extinction and How We Can Stop It, by Fred Guterl (Bloomsbury USA, 2012).

The eminent British scientist James Lovelock, back in the 1970s, formulated his theory of Gaia, which held that the Earth was a kind of super organism. It had a self-regulating quality that would keep everything within that narrow band that made life possible. If things got too warm or too cold—if sunlight varied, or volcanoes caused a fall in temperatures, and so forth—Gaia would eventually compensate. This was a comforting notion. It was also wrong, as Lovelock himself later concluded. "I have to tell you, as members of the Earth's family and an intimate part of it, that you and especially civilization are in grave danger," he wrote in the Independent in 2006.

The world has warmed since those heady days of Gaia, and scientists have grown gloomier in their assessment of the state of the world's climate. NASA climate scientist James Hanson has warned of a "Venus effect," in which runaway warming turns Earth into an uninhabitable desert, with a surface temperature high enough to melt lead, sometime in the next few centuries. Even Hanson, though, is beginning to look downright optimistic compared to a new crop of climate scientists, who fret that things could head south as quickly as a handful of years, or even months, if we're particularly unlucky. Ironically, some of them are intellectual offspring of Lovelock, the original optimist gone sour.

The true gloomsters are scientists who look at climate through the lens of "dynamical systems," a mathematics that describes things that tend to change suddenly and are difficult to predict. It is the mathematics of the tipping point—the moment at which a "system" that has been changing slowly and predictably will suddenly "flip." The colloquial example is the straw that breaks that camel's back. Or you can also think of it as a ship that is stable until it tips too far in one direction and then capsizes. In this view, Earth's climate is, or could soon be, ready to capsize, causing sudden, perhaps catastrophic, changes. And once it capsizes, it could be next to impossible to right it again.

The idea that climate behaves like a dynamical system addresses some of the key shortcomings of the conventional view of climate change—the view that looks at the planet as a whole, in terms of averages. A dynamical systems approach, by contrast, consider climate as a sum of many different parts, each with its own properties, all of them interdependent in ways that are hard to predict.

One of the most productive scientists in applying dynamical systems theory to climate is Tim Lenton at the University of East Anglia in England. Lenton is a Lovelockian two generations removed— his mentors were mentored by Lovelock. "We are looking quite hard at past data and observational data that can tell us something," says Lenton. "Classical case studies in which you've seen abrupt changes in climate data. For example, in the Greenland ice-core records, you're seeing climate jump. And the end of the Younger Dryas," about fifteen thousand years ago, "you get a striking climate change." So far, he says, nobody has found a big reason for such an abrupt change in these past events—no meteorite or volcano or other event that is an obvious cause—which suggests that perhaps something about the way these climate shifts occur simply makes them sudden.

Lenton is mainly interested in the future. He has tried to look for things that could possibly change suddenly and drastically even though nothing obvious may trigger them. He's come up with a short list of nine tipping points—nine weather systems, regional in scope, that could make a rapid transition from one state to another. […]

Climate Armageddon: How the World's Weather Could Quickly Run Amok [Excerpt]

Pedestrians walk along a footpath in front of a massive chimney billowing smoke for a coal-burning power station in central Beijing, 12 January 2012. David Gray / Reuters

By Michel Rose, with additional reporting by Gus Trompiz and Muriel Boselli; editing by Jason Neely
24 May 2012

PARIS (Reuters) – China spurred a jump in global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to their highest ever recorded level in 2011, offsetting falls in the United States and Europe, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Thursday.

CO2 emissions rose by 3.2 percent last year to 31.6 billion metric tons (34.83 billion tons), preliminary estimates from the Paris-based IEA showed.

China, the world's biggest emitter of CO2, made the largest contribution to the global rise, its emissions increasing by 9.3 percent, the body said, driven mainly by higher coal use.

"When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius (by 2050), which would have devastating consequences for the planet," Fatih Birol, IEA's chief economist told Reuters.

Scientists say ensuring global average temperatures this century do not rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is needed to limit devastating climate effects like crop failure and melting glaciers.

They believe that is only possible if emission levels are kept to around 44 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalent in 2020. […]

"I think it would be unrealistic to think that there will be major breakthroughs very soon," Birol said.

"Climate change is sliding down in the international policy agenda, which is definitely a worrying trend." […]

"In Japan, the rise is almost exclusively due to higher fossil fuel use. This is a very important indication of what could happen if there was a move away from nuclear energy in other countries," he said. […]

Asked about prospects for global carbon emissions in 2012, Birol said:

"It would come as a very, very big surprise to me if we saw a significant decline in CO2 emissions."

Global CO2 emissions hit record in 2011 led by China: IEA

Brazil Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira, 25 May 2012. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has vetoed parts of a controversial bill which regulates how much land farmers must preserve as forest. Teixeira said the vetoes would protect the environment. AFP25 May 2012 (BBC) – Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has vetoed parts of a controversial bill which regulates how much land farmers must preserve as forest.

Among the 12 articles which President Rousseff rejected is an amnesty for illegal loggers.

Brazil's farmers' lobby had argued that an easing of environmental restrictions would promote food production.

Environmentalists oppose the law, which the say will lead to further destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

The bill was approved by the Brazilian Congress a month ago. Environmentalists had urged President Rousseff to veto the entire bill.

President Rousseff rejected 12 articles from the bill and made 32 modifications to the text.

The exact details of the revised document have not yet been made public, but Brazilian Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said the government wanted to avoid diminishing protected areas of the Amazon and other sensitive ecosystems.

The version of the bill passed by the Brazilian Congress last month would have allowed for huge areas of the country, which had been illegally logged before July 2008, to be opened up to farming.

It would also have allowed farming closer to riverbanks, which are especially vulnerable to erosion if trees are chopped down.

Officials said Ms Rousseff had rejected the article dealing with the riverbanks, ensuring their continued protection. […]

Brazil President Rousseff vetoes parts of forest law

A camel stands at a dried-up sacred well near the house of herder Khishigdelger Adiya, in Mongolia's South Gobi. There's white salt where water used to flow. Camel and goat herders worry that new mega-mines, like the nearby the rapidly expanding Oyu Tolgoi mine, will siphon off precious water in an area that's already suffering from the effects of climate change. John W. Poole / NPR

By Frank Langfitt
22 May 2012

Mongolia, the land of Genghis Khan and nomadic herders, is in the midst of a remarkable transition. Rich in coal, gold, and copper, this country of fewer than 3 million people in Central Asia is riding a mineral boom that is expected to more than double its GDP within a decade. The rapid changes simultaneously excite and unnerve many Mongolians, who hope mining can help pull many out of poverty, but worry it will ravage the environment and further erode the nation's distinctive, nomadic identity.

Second of four parts

The Central Asian nation of Mongolia has untold riches in copper, coal, and gold, which could help many of its nearly 3 million people — more than one-third of whom live in poverty.

But mining is also reshaping Mongolia's landscape and nomadic culture. Camel and goat herders worry that new mega-mines will siphon off precious water in an area that's already suffering from the effects of climate change.

Mijiddorj Ayur, whose livestock graze near the Oyu Tolgoi mine, tends camels in a stretch of Mongolia's South Gobi province that's a moonscape of sand and gravel. He relies on the animals for meat, wool and milk, and they rely on hand-pumped well water to survive.

"When we come to the well, we can see the level of the well water is 8 inches lower than it used to be," says Mijiddorj, 76, who wears a golden, double-breasted robe called a deel and a brimmed felt hat.

Mijiddorj — Mongolians typically go by one name — says the well water has dropped in the last several years because of lower rainfall, while the grasslands are shrinking because of rising temperatures from climate change.

Now, he sees another potential threat: Oyu Tolgoi, a giant mine that will need huge amounts of water to process copper ore. The company has already drilled test wells near where Mijiddorj's camels drink.

"My greatest fear is we won't have water," he says. "I don't care about the gold or the copper, I'm just afraid there won't be water." […]

Mongolia's Dilemma: Who Gets The Water?

Smoke billows from a chimney of a heating plant as the sun sets in Beijing in this file photo dated Monday, 13 February 2012. U.N. climate talks being held in Bonn, Germany, are in gridlock on Thursday, 24 May 2012, as a rift between rich and poor countries risks undoing some of the advances made last year in the two-decade-long effort to control carbon emissions from fast-growing economies like China. Alexander F. Yuan / Associated Press

BONN, Germany, 24 May 2012 (AP) – U.N. climate talks ran into gridlock Thursday as a widening rift between rich and poor countries risked undoing some advances made last year in the decades-long effort to control carbon emissions that scientists say are overheating the planet.

As so often in the slow-moving negotiations, the session in Bonn bogged down with disputes over technicalities. But at the heart of the discord was the larger issue of how to divide the burden of emissions cuts between developed and developing nations. Developing nations say the industrialized world - responsible for most of the emissions historically - should bear the brunt of the emissions cuts while developed nations want to make sure that fast-growing economies like China and India don’t get off too easy. China is now the world’s top polluter.

“There is a total stalemate,” said Artur Runge-Metzger, the chief negotiator for the European Union.

The negotiations in Bonn were meant to build on a deal struck in December in Durban, South Africa, to create a new global climate pact by 2015 that would make both rich and poor nations rein in emissions caused by the burning of oil and other fossil fuels. But on the next-to-last day of two weeks of talks there was little sign of progress, as different interpretations emerged on what, exactly, was agreed upon last year.

“There is distrust and there is frustration in the atmosphere,” Seyni Nafo, spokesman for a group of African countries, told The Associated Press.

The European Union claims China and other developing countries are backsliding on commitments made in Durban to bring the discussion on emissions cuts from both rich and poor nations into one forum, instead of the current structure, which has two parallel negotiation tracks. Developing countries - backed by climate activists - accuse the U.S., EU and other industrialized nations of trying to evade commitments made in previous negotiations and shift responsibilities for tackling climate change to the developing world.

“Developed countries like the U.S., Japan, Canada and Russia … have consistently blocked references to the existing legal principles, while continuing to ignore the fact that their meager emission cut targets expose the world’s most vulnerable people to climate change’s devastating effects,” said Mohamed Adow, a senior climate change adviser at Christian Aid.

Meanwhile, emissions are going up, not down.

The Paris-based International Energy Agency said Thursday that carbon emissions from fossil fuels reached a record high of 31.6 gigatons in 2011, a 3.2 percent increase from the year before.

Despite improving on its energy efficiency, China accounted for the biggest contribution to the global increase, with emissions growing by 720 million tons, or 9.3 percent, the IEA said.

U.S. emissions fell by 1.7 percent, “primarily due to ongoing switching from coal to natural gas in power generation and an exceptionally mild winter,” the agency said, while Japan’s emissions rose 2.4 percent as it increased the use of fossil fuels in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. […]

UN climate talks deadlocked in Bonn as divisions between rich and poor nations reopen

An employee of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) walks at TEPCO's Kawasaki Thermal Power Plant in Kawasaki, south of Tokyo, 22 April 2012. Toru Hanai / REUTERS

By Stephanie Nebehay and Tom Miles; Editing by Andrew Osborn
23 May 2012

GENEVA (Reuters) – Spikes in radiation caused by the Fukushima nuclear accident were below cancer-causing levels in almost all of Japan and neighbouring countries had levels similar to normal background radiation, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.

In a preliminary report using conservative assumptions, independent experts said that people in only two locations in Fukushima prefecture may have received a dose of 10-50 millisieverts (mSv) in the year after the accident at the power station operated by TEPCO.

Populations exposed to radiation typically stand a greater chance of contracting cancer after receiving doses above 100 mSv, according to the United Nations health agency. The threshold for acute radiation syndrome is about 1 Sv (1000 mSv).

"A worldwide average annual dose from natural background radiation is about 2.4 mSv, with a typical range of 1-10 mSv in various regions of the world," the report said.

In the rest of Fukushima prefecture, the effective dose was estimated to be within a dose band of 1-10 mSv, while effective doses in most of Japan were put at just 0.1-1 mSv. In the rest of the world, doses were below 0.01 mSv or less.

The massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011 wrecked the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, triggering meltdowns that caused contamination and forced mass evacuations.

"Doses have not been estimated for the zone within 20 kilometres from the Fukushima Daiichi site because most people in the area were evacuated rapidly and an accurate estimation of dose to these individuals would require more precise data than were available," the report said.

"Some exposure may have occurred prior to evacuation but the assessment of this requires more precise data than those available to the panel," it added. […]

Most Fukushima radiation doses within norms – WHO

Smoke billows from a coking factory in Hefei, Anhui province, China, 2 March 2012. JIANAN YU / REUTERS

By Wan Xu and Don Durfee; Editing by Sophie Hares
24 May 2012

BEIJING (Reuters) – China's central government plans to spend 170 billion yuan ($27 billion) this year to promote energy conservation, emission reductions and renewable energy, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement on its website on Thursday.

The ministry said China plans to promote more use of energy-saving products and low or no-emission power generation such as solar and wind. It also wants to accelerate the development of renewable energy, as well as energy-saving technologies, such as electric and hybrid cars.

China is the world's biggest emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2), followed by the United States.

A report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) on Thursday said China spurred a jump in global CO2 emissions to their highest ever recorded level in 2011, offsetting falls in the United States and Europe.

However, its CO2 emissions per unit of GDP, or its carbon intensity, fell by 15 percent between 2005 and 2011, the IEA said, suggesting the world's second-largest economy was finding less carbon-consuming ways to fuel growth.

Longer term, China is targeting cuts to its 2020 greenhouse gas emissions by 40-45 percent compared with 2003 levels and aims to boost its use of renewable energy to 15 percent of overall energy consumption.

Negotiators from over 180 nations are meeting in Bonn, Germany, until Friday to work towards getting a new global climate pact signed by 2015. The aim is to ensure ambitious emissions cuts are made after the Kyoto Protocol expires at the end of this year.

($1 = 6.3447 Chinese yuan)

China to spend $27 billion on emission cuts, renewables

Antiscience campaigner Christopher Monckton watches protesters outside Heartland Institute's 2012 conference against climate science, 23 May 2012. thinkprogress.org24 May 2012 (Watch the Deniers) – Some encouraging news with the Heartland Institute (HI) announcing that are going to discontinue their annual International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC). The ICCC was the big event for denial movement, an important venue to help co-ordinate efforts, generate talking points, and create the impression there is opposition to the science.

This year less than 300 people turned up.

After losing major sponsors for this year’s ICCC, HI turned to coal lobby groups and fringe bloggers for “sponsorship”. Their “Unabomber” billboard campaign was so offensive that speakers deserted the conference, and staff from the Washington office resigned in protest.

Lets not forget HI lied to the world’s media about the authenticity of the leaked strategy document (Fakegate, Fakegate, Fakegate).

DeSmogBlog reports on just how desperate Heartland has become after losing sponsors and suffer crippling blows to its “credibility”. Closing the conference, Heartland’s President Joe Bast is begging for cash from “rich uncles”:

Please consider supporting the Heartland Institute. These conferences are expensive, and I’m not a good fundraiser so as a result I don’t raise enough money to cover them, we really scramble to make payroll as a result to cover these expenses. If you can afford to make a contribution, please do. If you know someone, if you’ve got a rich uncle or somebody in the family or somebody that you work with, please give them a call and ask them if they would consider making a tax-deductible contribution to the Heartland Institute.” […]

Looking for sugar daddies: Heartland Institute announces the end of its “annual” conference, begs for cash from “rich uncles”


By Brendan DeMelle
23 May 2012

During his closing remarks at the Heartland Institute's Seventh "International Conference on Climate Change," Heartland President Joseph Bast revealed that the group has no plans to hold another conference and is struggling to pay its staff following the defections of corporate sponsors in the wake of the disastrous Unabomber billboard campaign and Deniergate document dump.

"I'm not a good fundraiser," Bast admitted to the crowd today in Chicago as the gathering wound down.

Bast appealed directly to the crowd for donations, saying that "if you've got a rich uncle" [ask him to donate to Heartland].

"At this point we have no plans to do another ICCC," Bast said, referring to the somewhat-annual gatherings which DeSmogBlog dubbed Denial-a-Palooza years ago. […]

Joe Bast Announces the Death of Denial-a-Palooza at Final Heartland ICCC Conference

Aerial view of tailings ponds at the Athabascan Oil Sands in Alberta, Canada, 18 May 2012. A mixture of water and oil sand from the strip mines is called 'slurry'. The sand and water mixture is pumped to open storage areas called tailings ponds. The ponds are vast and some look more like lakes. Most ponds are coated in a sheen of oil that is deadly to waterfowl, like ducks and geese, that land on its surface. Robert Johnson / businessinsider.com

By Robert Johnson
18 May 2012

When reaching out to Alberta oil sands companies before a trip to Canada last month, I thought all of them mined oil the same way — they don't.

The open mining most people think of when they picture the oil sands is just one way of extracting crude from the ground, but it is without a doubt the most dramatic. And we had to see it.

After being refused a mine tour and any type of access to a mining site or equipment, Business Insider rented a plane that I used to see everything I could of the mines on my own.

Restricted to flying no lower than 1,000 feet above the ground, I spent nearly two hours leaning out the window of a small Cessna 172 with a long lens, snapping pictures and trying to keep warm.

The oil sands hold up to two trillion barrels of oil spread over more than 54,000 square miles, making it the second largest oil deposit in the world after Saudi Arabia.

The amount of energy spent recovering that oil and the pollution created in refining it is immense, and the impact on the environment profound. […]

The Canadian Oil Sand Mines Refused Us Access, So We Rented This Plane To See What They Were Up To

International Energy Agency's chief economist Fatih Birol speaks to Reuters during an interview in Baghdad, 29 February 2012. Mohammed Ameen / Reuters / Files

By Nina Chestney and Oleg Vukmanovic; Editing by Keiron Henderson
16 May 2012

(Reuters) – The chance of limiting the rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius this century is getting slimmer and slimmer, the head of the International Energy Agency warned on Wednesday.

"What I see now with existing investments for plants under construction … we are seeing the door for a 2 degree Celsius target about to be closed and closed forever," Fatih Birol, the IEA's chief economist, told a Reuters' Global Energy & Environment Summit.

"This door is getting slimmer and slimmer in terms of physical and economic possibility," he warned.

The IEA said last November that around 80 percent of total energy-related carbon emissions permissible by 2035 to limit warming were already accounted for by existing power plants, buildings and factories, leaving little room for more.

In 2010, countries agreed that deep emissions cuts had to be made to keep an increase in global average temperature below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels this century.

Scientists say that crossing the threshold risks an unstable climate in which weather extremes are common but efforts so far to cut greenhouse gas emissions are not seen as sufficient to stop a rise beyond 2 degrees.

A report this month by the Club of Rome think tank said rising carbon dioxide emissions will cause a 2 degree rise by 2052 and a 2.8 degree rise by 2080, though some other estimates are more conservative.

Some countries are focusing on domestic economic pressures, which could delay climate action and add to the cost of fighting climate change in the long-run.

"One dollar not invested now in reducing C02 will cost 4.6 dollars in the next decade to achieve the same effect," Birol said.

A major reason for rising carbon dioxide emissions was fossil fuel subsidies, he added.

In 2012, $630 billion was spent on fossil fuel subsidies globally, with half of this from the Middle East and the other half from the rest of the world, Birol said.

"By contrast, in 2010, fuel subsidies totalled $400 billion. We are going backwards," he said. […]

Door to 2 degree temperature limit is closing - IEA

Peter Gleick's face was on mugs at the Heartland Institute's 2012 climate conference. Paul Chinn / The Chronicle

By Suzanne Goldenberg in Chicago, www.guardian.co.uk
22 May 2012

It was an odd choice of icon for the ultra-conservative Heartland Institute. But there he was in round glasses, beard, and halo of curls staring out from T-shirts and coffee mugs at their gathering of climate change contrarians this week, the scientist whose internet sting set Heartland on its current course of collapse.

Heartland's seventh climate conference, which runs until Wednesday, was a much diminished event, compared to earlier lavish gatherings which spilled out over several floors of a hotel in New York's Time Square, and attracted up to 800 followers.

The tables were set for 270 at this year's gala, featuring the Czech president and climate contrarian Václav Klaus, and there were well over 100 no-shows. In a further sign of Heartland's cash crunch, meals were not included in this year's conference package.

"We have been under a lot of pressure over the last four months," Heartland's president, Joseph Bast, told the conference. "And I think we have discovered who our real friends are."

Now even those friends are upset with Heartland. Jim Sensenbrenner, the conservative Republican member of Congress from Wisconsin who was the only US politician to attend this year's conference, signalled his displeasure with the provocative billboard in his speech on Tuesday.

Sensenbrenner did not mention the billboard directly, but an aide told reporters earlier his words were intended as a criticism for Bast for leading Heartland into disaster. "How we conduct ourselves in this debate matters," Sensenbrenner said. He went on to accuse climate scientists of being partisan, but concluded: "Civility matters."

Other speakers were not concerned with civility, however. Britain's leading climate contrarian Christopher Monckton got a standing ovation for telling a series of "birther" jokes.

The pressure point occurred last February when the scientist on the conference mugs, Peter Gleick, used deception to obtain confidential documents from Heartland, including a donors list and plans to indoctrinate school children against belief in climate change.

Bast told the conference Heartland had met with the US attorney's office to discuss criminal charges against Gleick. He said Heartland was waiting for a formal decision before deciding whether to sue Gleick.

The exposure led some corporate donors to cut their funds to Heartland – until Bast committed a huge PR blunder, approving a provocative billboard ad likening scientists to psychopaths.

Donor flight accelerated, and Heartland has now lost some $825,000 (£523,000) in funding, according to the campaign group Forecast the Facts. Advocacy groups are meeting with some of Heartland's biggest remaining funders to persuade them to cut their ties.

The crisis forced Heartland to seek funds from the oil and coal industry – despite earlier claims to be independent of fossil fuel interests.

Between them, the nearly 60 organisations listed by Heartland as conference sponsors have received nearly $22m from Exxon Mobil and the Koch oil billionaire family since 1998, according to an analysis by the campaign website Desmogblog.

Listed as a "gold level" sponsor of this week's conference was the Illinois Coal Association, although Heartland told reporters the contribution was only in the hundreds of dollars.

Other allies were scarce. Only three groups set up tables at the conference. The largest was staffed by Americans for Prosperity, the ultra-conservative organisation founded by the Koch oil billionaires. […]

This year's event had a sense of desperation. Speakers spoke about being "victimised" by "warmists" and "alarmists" – scientists and politicians who accept that carbon dioxide emissions from industry are a main driver of climate change.

And after nearly 30 years in operation, it is unclear what Heartland stands for when it comes to climate change – beyond resistance to putting any kind of restraint on business.

Klaus, who made his name as an economist before his election as president, sees environmental concerns as a red menace. "It is identical to communism – identical not similar," he warned.

John Dunn, a Heartland policy adviser, sees his role as fighting "enviro-fascist madness". In his speech, he sought to ridicule recorded evidence of growing drought and heatwaves due to climate change. "Warm is good for people, and it's particularly good for people as they get older," said Dunn. "The people that warm spells kill are already moribund." He went on to say that only extreme cold caused extra deaths.

The next speaker called for the return of the insecticide DDT, long banned in the US. "It's cheap, it's effective and it's perfectly safe for humans and for all wildlife." […]

But despite the coffee mugs and T-shirt giveaway, the biggest issue facing Heartland went largely unaddressed: how will the organisation recover from its twin setbacks, the expose by Gleick and the ad disaster approved by Bast? […]

Heartland reflects on its beating

Young mothers with small children protest incineration of radioactive debris in Kitakyushu City, 23 May 2012. The sign reads, 'Adults should protect the future of children. We're against disaster debris burning. Protect Kyushu for Japan'. mama_jp via ex-skf.blogspot.com

By arevamirpal::laprimavera
23 May 2012

First, young mothers with small children (photo from @mama_jp).

The sign says, "Adults should protect the future of children. We're against disaster debris burning. Protect Kyushu for Japan."

Professor Yukio Hayakawa's tweet was: "Mothers in Kitakyushu, have they all gone nuts?"

On his May 23 blog, he proclaimed, "This day will be long recorded as the day when the discrimination against Tohoku has started."

He probably has not seen this picture of Kitakyushu City officials blocking the passage (photo from @Saikeman):

Kitakyushu City officials block mothers who are protesting the incineration of radioactive debris in Kitakyushu City, 23 May 2012. Saikeman via ex-skf.blogspot.com

If he did, he may highly approve of the high-handed way the Kitakyushu City officials have treated the whole issue - from not bothering to tell anyone (residents, neighboring cities) to laughing at the protesters to calling the police to disperse the protesters yesterday. The professor is recommending that Kitakyushu City declare independence from the rest of Japan if the residents want to keep out the disaster debris.

The city is test-burning the debris from Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture right now at an incineration plant for regular household garbage. In the test burn, 1 part of disaster debris is supposed to be mixed with 9 parts of household garbage and burned. Protests apparently have no impact to the city officials or the mayor, and the residents of Kitakyushu City are indifferent for the most part, I hear.

NHK reports that about 70 people are protesting near the incineration plant, but there are more than 150 policemen blocking the road to protect the debris-carrying trucks.

Kyushu have been mostly spared from the fallout from the Fukushima accident, so the residents' sensitivity to radiation contamination is probably not the same as that in Kanto or Tohoku. Professor Hayakawa's later tweet says "176 becquerels per kilo? That's just normal."

Measurement of soil for cesium-137 in the nearby Fukuoka City in 2010 was 2.3 becquerels/kg. The highest I could find was 155 becquerels/kg in 1964. (Data from Japan Chemical Analysis Center) […]

Kitakyushu City Hall on May 23: Mothers vs City Officials


Protesters in Kitakyushu City lay under a truck carrying radioactive debris that officials have decided to incinerate, 21 May 2012. asat8 via ex-skf.blogspot.com

One day after the disaster debris standoff in Kitakyushu, two protesters were arrested for ostensibly "attacking the police", according to Yomiuri Shinbun (5/22/2012). If the past incidents are any indication, that would mean these two men got in physical contact with policemen, and that's called "attacking".

Yomiuri also reports 20 of the 22 trucks carrying 80 tonnes of disaster debris got inside, after 8-hour delays. The debris will be burned on May 23.

There were about 40 policemen against 30 or so protesters, according to Yomiuri.

By the way, Yasumi Iwakami's IWJ did the live netcast from early morning of May 22 for about 15 hours.

Portirland blog has the screen shots of the survey meter, with the highest radiation level at 0.612 microsievert/hour. The embedded video shows the measurement was done after the truck left the site. The survey meter went from 0.06 microsievert/hour or so to 0.612 microsievert/hour in about 2 and a half minutes.

One Day After the Disaster Debris Standoff in Kitakyushu: 2 Protesters Arrested

Trends in number of global freeflowing rivers greater than 1,000km in length Trends from pre-1900 to the present day and estimated to 2020 (line), in comparison with the number of rivers dammed over time (bars). worldwildlife.org

Trends in number of global freeflowing rivers greater than 1,000km in length Trends from pre-1900 to the present day and estimated to 2020 (line), in comparison with the number of rivers dammed over time (bars). WWF, 2006

The rapid development of water management infrastructure – such as dams, dykes, levees, and diversion channels – have left very few rivers entirely free flowing. Of the approximately 177 rivers greater than 1,000km in length, only around a third remain free flowing and without dams on their main channel (WWF, 2006a).

While clearly this infrastructure provides benefits at one level, such as hydropower or irrigation, there is often a hidden cost to aquatic ecosystems and the wider ecosystem services that they provide. In order to sustain the wealth of natural processes provided by freshwater ecosystems – such as sediment transport and nutrient delivery, which are vital to farmers in floodplains and deltas; migratory connectivity, vital to inland fisheries; and flood storage, vital to downstream cities – it is imperative to appreciate the importance of free flowing rivers, and developing infrastructure with a basin-wide vision.

2012 Living Planet Report [pdf]

 

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