The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image of Tropical Storm Tembin on 30 August 2012. Tembin engulfed the Korean Peninsula, just as Bolaven had days earlier. NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC

By JEAN H. LEE, with additional reporting by Foster Klug
30 August 2012

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – Twin typhoons renewed fears of a humanitarian crisis in North Korea, where poor drainage, widespread deforestation and crumbling infrastructure can turn even a routine rainstorm into a catastrophic flood.

Typhoon Bolaven struck the North on Tuesday and Wednesday, submerging houses and roads, ruining thousands of acres of crops and triggering landslides that buried train tracks — scenes that are all too familiar in this disaster-prone nation. A second major storm, Typhoon Tembin, pounded the Korean Peninsula with more rains Thursday before dissipating.

The storms came with North Korea still recovering from earlier floods that killed more than 170 people and destroyed thousands of homes. That in turn followed a springtime drought that was the worst in a century in some areas.

The disaster relief group AmeriCares announced late Thursday that enough emergency antibiotics and medical supplies to treat 15,000 North Koreans would be airlifted to the country as early as this week in coordination with North Korean officials. Damage to 69 hospitals and clinics suffered during the earlier floods has left 700,000 North Koreans without access to health care at a time when scores are fighting off the threat of infection while living in temporary shelters, the group said in a statement.

Other foreign aid groups said they were standing by in Pyongyang, but had not received new requests for help from the North Korean government. They had little information on the extent of damage and were relying on reports from state media. The country's wariness toward the outside world, as well as a primitive rural road system, means aid may be slow arriving, if it is allowed to come at all.

"These fresh storms, coming just a few weeks after the serious flooding — they do raise concerns because we see parts of the countryside battered again that have already been left in a vulnerable state," said Francis Markus, spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in East Asia.

Tembin's strong winds and hard rain pounded South Korea on Thursday as residents of some cities waded through streets flooded with murky, knee-deep water. The storm moved off the peninsula's east coast overnight. The national weather agency in Seoul predicted some cities in southern North Korea could see up to 80 mm (3.15 inches) of rain, but North Korea didn't immediately release details on rainfall, deaths or damage from the latest storm.

The earlier storm, Bolaven, left 20 people dead or missing in South Korea. It killed three people and left 3,300 people homeless in North Korea, the country's official media reported.

Downpours trigger landslides that barrel down the North's deforested mountains. For years, rural people have felled trees to grow crops and for firewood, leaving the landscape barren and heavily eroded. Rivers overflow, submerging crops, inundating roads and engulfing hamlets.

Since June, thousands have been left without clean water, electricity and access to food and other supplies. That leads to a risk of water-borne and respiratory diseases and malnutrition, aid workers say.

Because the North annually struggles to produce enough food from its rocky, mountainous landscape to feed its 24 million people, a poorly timed natural disaster can easily tip the country into crisis, like the famine in the 1990s that followed a similar succession of devastating storms.

A North Korean land management official acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press that widespread deforestation and a lack of basic infrastructure have made the country vulnerable to the typhoons and storms that batter the peninsula each year. […]

Two weeks ago, AP journalists visited a flood-ravaged mining hamlet in South Phyongan province where gushing waters from an earlier storm swallowed a whole block of homes. The trip, a mere 40-mile (60-kilometer) drive northeast of Pyongyang, required a bumpy four-hour ride along rutted, muddy roads.

Along the way, workers piled stones along the roadside as a bulwark against landslides, but they were no match for the water rushing down mountainsides.

Villagers crouched in makeshift lean-tos and camped on the rubble where their houses once stood. They vowed to rebuild once the roads are restored and trucks can cart in cement. But there are concerns about how vulnerable their new homes would be if they rebuild at the foot of a mountain in the county of Songchon, which means "place where many waters come together."

North Korea has no clear long-term strategy to deal with disasters or climate change, the United Nations said in a report issued in June.

This year, North Korea is at a particularly dangerous juncture, said the Red Cross' Markus. Over the last two years, he said, "we've been seeing a gradual deterioration in the humanitarian situation." […]

Twin typhoons raise fears in disaster-prone NKorea

Rivera Raiders run sprints on the first day of football practice on 6 August 2012 in Brownsville, Texas. Temperatures reached into the upper 90s with high humidity. Brad Doherty / The Brownsville Herald

By Neela Banerjee, Los Angeles Times
31 August 2012

MARIETTA, Georgia – The August afternoon was a merciful one. The sky above Marietta High School was overcast, and by 3:30 p.m., temperatures hovered in the low 80s as football practice began.

Still, like high school football coaches all over Georgia, Marietta's coaches were leaving little to chance.

Responsible for the health of the 100 students on the field, athletic trainer Jeff Hopp stood by a $2,500 sophisticated temperature gauge on the sidelines to measure the heat, humidity and solar radiation. He set up water stations and every 15 minutes or so coaches made the athletes stop and drink.

On the pavement above the fields, Hopp opened a white canopy, and under it, he set up a large black plastic bathtub filled with water and ice. If a player showed signs of heatstroke, the tub would be his first stop before an ambulance arrived.

Since the mid-1990s, summer football practice, especially the preseason tradition of two sessions a day, has turned more dangerous for high school athletes. From 1994 to 2009, the average number of high school football players who died every year from heatstroke tripled to three from one in the preceding 15-year period, according to a recent analysis of high school heat-related deaths. Last year, seven boys died.

Research suggests that two factors are converging to increase mortality: rising obesity among high school football players and hotter, more humid summers as the climate changes. And while Hurricane Isaac drenched other parts of the South this week, it brought little relief in Marietta, where thunderstorms were offset by temperatures that stayed in the high 80s.

Recognition is growing of the potentially profound health effects of climate change. Tropical diseases are spreading north from their normal geography. In Maine, public health officials are seeing Lyme disease more often, as the warmer summers make northern New England more hospitable for ticks. In climate adaptation plans, states such as California have included public health initiatives, including opening more air-conditioned cooling stations.

Georgia has had the most deaths of any state among high school football players, with eight from 1994 to 2011. Now, along with six other states, Georgia has issued practice plans to avoid heat exertion that all high school football teams must follow or face sanctions. The new rules call for teams to acclimatize players to the heat, as opposed to the old approach of drilling hard from the start of preseason, often for four hours a day and in full pads.

The new rules in Georgia, Arkansas and elsewhere do not mention climate change, but they amount to a detailed response to a public health problem exacerbated by rising temperatures. The rules show how communities can adapt to climate change, even without overtly acknowledging it, once they understand what's at stake.

"You can discuss the new rules as player safety, because if you bring up climate change, all of a sudden, it becomes political," said Andrew Grundstein, lead author of the football mortality study and professor of geography at University of Georgia. "But as a climatologist, I'm really pleased that states are starting to implement the rules because as you start seeing more hot days, I think it's smart policy."

In Georgia, coaches prefer not to discuss climate change. But to Patti James of Little Rock, Ark., the heatstroke her son Will suffered in August 2010, during a three-week stretch of 100-degree days, drove home new realities.

"We got the clue that every summer is going to be really hot," James said, adding that there have been more than 24 days with 100-degree temperatures in Arkansas this year. "This is becoming the norm in the South, and we can't do what we did 40 years ago. I'm so tired of old men coming up to me and saying, 'We never got to drink water when I played football.'" […]

The recent push for new football practice rules has emerged after the deaths of players and the publication of research like Grundstein's.

His study shows that from 1980 to 2009, most of the 58 deaths occurred in the Southeast, where heat and humidity form an oppressive mix. Athletes died mostly during morning practices, considered safer because of the relative coolness. But humidity is higher then.

The nearly 2-degree rise in global temperatures since the late 19th century has contributed to "roughly 7% higher absolute humidity," said Steven Sherwood, director of the Climate Change Research Center at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

"This means that a 1-degree temperature rise from global warming will have as much effect on athletes training in very humid conditions as would a 3- or 4-degree rise from normal weather variations," Sherwood said. […]

Heatstroke deaths prompt new high school football rules

a, Glacier retreat for 82 Himalaya glaciers. b, Area reduction for 7,090 glaciers. c, Mass balance for 15 glaciers. Glaciers are categorized into seven regions and marked clockwise with Roman numerals in a–c. Yao, et al., 2012

a, Glacier retreat for 82 Himalaya glaciers (Supplementary Table S4). b, Area reduction for 7,090 glaciers (Supplementary Tables S2 and S3 and Fig. S1). c, Mass balance for 15 glaciers (Supplementary Table S5). Glaciers are categorized into seven regions and marked clockwise with Roman numerals in ac.

ABSTRACT: The Tibetan Plateau and surroundings contain the largest number of glaciers outside the polar regions1. These glaciers are at the headwaters of many prominent Asian rivers and are largely experiencing shrinkage2, which affects the water discharge of large rivers such as the Indus3, 4. The resulting potential geohazards5, 6 merit a comprehensive study of glacier status in the Tibetan Plateau and surroundings. Here we report on the glacier status over the past 30 years by investigating the glacial retreat of 82 glaciers, area reduction of 7,090 glaciers and mass-balance change of 15 glaciers. Systematic differences in glacier status are apparent from region to region, with the most intensive shrinkage in the Himalayas (excluding the Karakorum) characterized by the greatest reduction in glacial length and area and the most negative mass balance. The shrinkage generally decreases from the Himalayas to the continental interior and is the least in the eastern Pamir, characterized by the least glacial retreat, area reduction and positive mass balance. In addition to rising temperature, decreased precipitation in the Himalayas and increasing precipitation in the eastern Pamir accompanied by different atmospheric circulation patterns is probably driving these systematic differences.

Different glacier status with atmospheric circulations in Tibetan Plateau and surroundings

Dr. Kent Moors

By Terry Weiss, Money Morning

Richard Duncan, formerly of the World Bank and chief economist at Blackhorse Asset Mgmt., says America's $16 trillion federal debt has escalated into a "death spiral, "as he told CNBC.

And it could result in a depression so severe that he doesn't "think our civilization could survive it."

And Duncan is not alone in warning that the U.S. economy may go into a "death spiral."

Since the recession, noted economists including Laurence Kotlikoff, a former member of President Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers, have come to similar conclusions.

Kotlikoff estimates the true fiscal gap is $211 trillion when unfunded entitlements like Social Security and Medicare are included.

However, while the debt crisis numbers are well known to most Americans, the economy hasn't suffered a major correction for almost 4 years.

So the questions remain: Is the threat of collapse for real? And if so, when?

A team of scientists, economists, and geopolitical analysts believes they have proof that the threat is indeed real - and the danger imminent.

One member of this team, Chris Martenson, a pathologist and former VP of a Fortune 300 company, explains their findings:

"We found an identical pattern in our debt, total credit market, and money supply that guarantees they're going to fail. This pattern is nearly the same as in any pyramid scheme, one that escalates exponentially fast before it collapses. Governments around the globe are chiefly responsible.

"And what's really disturbing about these findings is that the pattern isn't limited to our economy. We found the same catastrophic pattern in our energy, food, and water systems as well."

According to Martenson: "These systems could all implode at the same time. Food, water, energy, money. Everything."

Another member of this team, Keith Fitz-Gerald, the president of The Fitz-Gerald Group, went on to explain their discoveries.

"What this pattern represents is a dangerous countdown clock that's quickly approaching zero. And when it does, the resulting chaos is going to crush Americans," Fitz-Gerald says.

Dr. Kent Moors, an adviser to 16 world governments on energy issues as well as a member of two U.S. State Department task forces on energy also voiced concerns over what he and his colleagues uncovered.

"Most frightening of all is how this exact same pattern keeps appearing in virtually every system critical to our society and way of life," Dr. Moors stated.

"It's a pattern that's hard to see unless you understand the way a catastrophe like this gains traction," Dr. Moors says. "At first, it's almost impossible to perceive. Everything looks fine, just like in every pyramid scheme. Yet the insidious growth of the virus keeps doubling in size, over and over again - in shorter and shorter periods of time - until it hits unsustainable levels. And it collapses the system."

Martenson points to the U.S. total credit market debt as an example of this unnerving pattern.

"For 30 years - from the 1940s through the 1970s - our total credit market debt was moderate and entirely reasonable," he says. "But then in seven years, from 1970 to 1977, it quickly doubled. And then it doubled again in seven more years. Then five years to double a third time. And then it doubled two more times after that.

"Where we were sitting at a total credit market debt that was 158% larger than our GDP in the early 1940s … By 2011 that figure was 357%."

Dr. Moors warns this type of unsustainable road to collapse can be seen today in our energy, food, and water production. All are tightly connected and contributing to the economic disaster that lies directly ahead.

According to polls, the average American is sensing danger. A recent survey found that 61% of Americans believe a catastrophe is looming - yet only 15% feel prepared for such a deeply troubling event.

Fitz-Gerald says people should take steps to protect themselves from what is happening. "The amount of risky financial derivatives floating around the globe is as much as 20 times size of the entire GDP of the world," he says. "It's unsustainable and impossible to unwind in any kind of orderly way."

Moreover, he adds: "People can also forget that the FDIC can only cover a fraction of US bank deposits. It's a false sense of security. Just like state pensions, which could be suspended at any time. A collapse could wipe out these programs. Entitlements like Social Security and Medicare are already bankrupt and simply being propped up."

We can see the strain on society already. […]

Economist Richard Duncan: Civilization May Not Survive 'Death Spiral'

Early on 29 August 2012, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi-NPP satellite captured this nighttime view of Hurricane Isaac and the cities near the Gulf Coast of the United States. The image was acquired by the VIIRS 'day-night band', which detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared and uses light intensification to enable the detection of dim signals. In this case, the clouds of Isaac were lit by moonlight. NASA image by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon

Caption by Adam Voiland
30 August 2012

Early on 29 August 2012, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi-NPP satellite captured this nighttime view of Hurricane Isaac and the cities near the Gulf Coast of the United States. The image was acquired at 1:57 a.m. local time (6:57 Universal Time) by the VIIRS “day-night band,” which detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared and uses light intensification to enable the detection of dim signals. In this case, the clouds of Isaac were lit by moonlight.

Isaac, a slow-moving storm, made landfall as a category 1 hurricane near the mouth of the Mississippi River in southwestern Louisiana at about 6:45 p.m. local time on August 28. It then moved westward and back out over water until making a second landfall near Port Fourchon at about 4:00 a.m. on August 29. A weakening Isaac churned slowly northwest throughout the day at speeds of just 6 miles (9 kilometers) per hour, slow enough that forecasters expected the storm to drop 7 to 14 inches (18 to 36 centimeters) of rain across much of Louisiana, southern Mississippi, and southwestern Alabama.

Read a more detailed description of the storm from the satellite perspective at NASA’s Hurricane Resource Page. Also, the National Hurricane Center provides the official U.S. storm forecasts and regular updates on conditions on its home page.

Night View of Hurricane Isaac

Is it wrong for Desdemona to find this hilarious?

Arctic Sea Ice Downfall

Counter-clockwise from top left, the price of a 2-litre carton of milk in Cambridge Bay and Pond Inlet compared to a downtown Toronto supermarket. Food prices in Nunavut are amongst the highest in Canada – a part of life largely attributed to the cost of transportation to High North communities. Evan Mitsui / CBC

26 August 2012 (CBC News) – People living in Canada’s far north are increasingly frustrated over the high cost of food.

Protests were held in Nunavut Saturday to highlight rising prices.

Sheila Katsak in Pond Inlet, Nunavut, said she spends about $60 a day to feed her family of five. Katsak said that doesn’t allow for any treats.

“It would be nice if I could buy a pizza at the end of the week. But I can't. It's not affordable,” she said.

The federal government subsidizes retailers’ expenses to ship food by air.

The North West Company has 145 stores in the north. Spokesperson Michael McMullen said there are other expenses like electricity to consider.

“These refrigeration units behind us, it's 11 times more expensive to run them on a daily basis minimum,” McMullen said.

More than 3,000 kilometres to the west, in northern Yukon, the complaints are the same.

People in the remote community of Old Crow, Yukon, say it’s hard to afford a nutritious diet under the federal government’s food-subsidy program.

Community resident Robert Bruce said Ottawa does not care about the North and won't address the high cost of healthy living.

The local representative on a panel that advises the government on the subsidy program has heard the complaints.

Kathie Nukon said even she avoids using it. Instead, when she can she buys groceries during trips to southern Yukon.

“I haven't had that experience. I totally avoid it myself. When I go to Whitehorse I just shop at the store myself and just bring it as baggage,” Nukon said.

She estimates buying food at the store in Old Crow costs $50 per meal for her and her grandchild.

Nukon wants the board that oversees the program to come north.

“I think the only solution right now is to invite the board here and have a public meeting and get them to talk to everyone,” she said.

Rising food prices in North spark protest

A man walks past an airport board announcing that all flights are cancelled following major typhoon Bolaven at Seoul domestic airport in Seoul on 28 August 2012. The state weather agency issued a typhoon warning on early 28 August 2012 for Seoul, the capital of about 10 million people, as the storm named Bolaven continued moving northwards. JUNG YEON-JE / AFP / Getty Images

By Foster Klug and Sam Kim
30 August 2012

SEOUL, South Korea – Strong winds and hard rain pounded southern South Korea on Thursday, as the second typhoon this week barreled down on the Korean Peninsula only days after 20 people died or went missing in the South in the first storm.

North Korea was also in Typhoon Tembin's path, raising new worries about a country that is still rebuilding from devastating floods in late June. Casualties in the North from this week's first typhoon have yet to be reported, but that storm knocked out power, submerged roads and houses and ruined farmland, state media said.

The new storm was also hampering the search for seven missing fishermen who were on two Chinese ships that hit rocks off a southern South Korean island during the first typhoon, which was called Bolaven. Eight fishermen on those ships were among the 13 people killed in South Korea. The coast guard rescued 12 fishermen from the ships on Tuesday, and six others swam or were washed ashore.

On Thursday, the coast guard said it couldn't send ships to search for the missing fishermen because of high waves from Typhoon Tembin, though officers searched the shorelines.

Tembin was expected to weaken as it reaches North Korea. Heavy rain, however, can be catastrophic in the North because of poor drainage, deforestation, and decrepit infrastructure. The North's official Korean Central News Agency said some areas of Hwanghae and Kangwon provinces could receive up to 70 millimeters (2.8 inches) of rain on Thursday and Friday.

South Korea issued a typhoon warning in many southern areas because of Tembin's strong winds and heavy rain, according to the National Emergency Management Agency. Tembin is weaker than the first typhoon, but more than 170 flights were canceled Thursday, the agency said. […]

2nd typhoon hits SKorea, moves toward NKorea

A car tipped over by a huge wave after its owner parked it on the bank to watch waves brought on by Typhoon Bolaven in Qingdao, 28 August 2012. AFP / Getty Images

Jilin Province, China, 29 August 2012 (CCTV/CNN) – Gales and downpours brought by Typhoon Bolaven swept through northeast China's Jilin Province since Tuesday, flooding downtown areas and damaging farmlands.

The tropical storm affected Changchun, the provincial capital, with rainfall exceeding 10 centimeters from 8 a.m. Tuesday to 8 a.m. Wednesday. The maximum precipitation reached 120.6 millimeters.

In the city, many trees were uprooted as 25 road sections were flooded. Meanwhile, more than 20 power lines were damaged in the heavy rain.

The local transport, civil administration, power and sanitation departments dispatched workers Wednesday morning to clear roads and repair damaged power lines.

The preliminary data showed that the typhoon flattened 20 percent of corn lands, which may have contributed to regional crop failure.

The estimation of the total loss is currently underway.

Typhoon Bolaven causes damage in northeast China


A woman collects abalone at a beach covered with garbage and equipment used for abalone farming in the aftermath of Typhoon Bolaven in Wando, about 360 km south of Seoul, on 29 August 2012. AFP

The Korean Peninsula cleaned up after one powerful typhoon and girded itself for another that could be particularly damaging to North Korea, which is still rebuilding from earlier floods. The first storm, Typhoon Bolaven, left at least 11 people dead in South Korea.

Photo gallery: S. Korea cleans up after typhoon, prepares for another

On a dried-up lake bed, wild sunflowers frame a heron and a family boating on Clinton Lake Monday. The Kansas Water Office has estimated that John Redmond Reservoir, a federal reservoir near Burlington, will be at only 5 percent of its capacity by 1 November 2012 if no rain falls in the interim. Lakes near Lawrence are faring better. Both Clinton and Perry lakes are expected to be at about 80 percent of their normal capacity by 1 November 2012. Mike Yoder

BURLINGTON, Kansas, 28 August 2012 (AP) – Drought conditions are draining a reservoir used to cool the Wolf Creek Nuclear Power Plant, but officials of the eastern Kansas plant say there are no worries about safety or the ability to provide electricity to customers.

Hot, dry conditions across the state have lowered water levels at lakes and streams, including at the John Redmond Reservoir, which reports show would fall to 5 percent of its normal capacity if current drought conditions persist.

Coffey County Lake, which directly cools the power plant, is kept full in part by water from the reservoir and the Neosho River. The lake levels have been down, but the power plant has been able to replenish the lake at its normal rate.

The main concern is that if the power plant outside Burlington had to be shut down for any extended period, the three utility companies that own it would have to buy power elsewhere to compensate, The Lawrence Journal-World reported. Wolf Creek supplies electricity to large parts of eastern Kansas and western Missouri, producing enough electricity to power about 800,000 homes.

The Kansas Water Office said the John Redmond Reservoir was at about 75 percent of its normal capacity as of Aug. 1 but would drop to only 5 percent of its capacity by Nov. 1 if the dry pattern holds, said Earl Lewis, assistant director of the water office.

"These (water level) projections really don't project any rainfall," Lewis said. "Unfortunately, the long-term weather forecast also is not projecting much rainfall through the fall."

The Water Office report projects water levels for 17 reservoirs in eastern Kansas. It forecasts that the Cheney Reservoir, which supplies water for Wichita, will drop to about 60 percent of normal capacity by Nov. 1, and Tuttle Creek outside of Manhattan will be just below 50 percent by Nov. 1.

Lewis said John Redmond was causing the most concern for the Kansas Water Authority, the state board that oversees a variety of water issues.

Wolf Creek spokeswoman Jenny Hageman said Coffey County Lake is only 2 feet below its normal levels and still has enough water to maintain normal operations at the nuclear plant for the foreseeable future.

Hageman said Coffey County Lake would have to drop an additional 11 feet before the water levels were too low for the plant to operate. Even in that scenario, the plant would have enough water to keep the nuclear reactor cooled in a shutdown mode because it was built in a part of the lake designed to hold water during severe drought or emergencies, she said.

Drought raises concern about Kansas nuclear plant

A 77,000-tonne bulk carrier broken in two is seen in the aftermath of typhoon Bolaven off the port of Sacheon, about 300 kms southeast of Seoul, 28 August 2012. AFP

By SAM KIM with additional reporting by Associated Press writers Hye Soo Nah, Foster Klug, and Hyung-jin Kim

SEOUL, South Korea August 29, 2012 (AP) – The Korean Peninsula cleaned up Wednesday after one powerful typhoon and girded itself for another that could be particularly damaging to North Korea, which is still recovering from earlier floods.

The first storm, Typhoon Bolaven, left at least 12 people dead in South Korea, including eight fishermen killed in wrecks off the southern coast. Damage in North Korea, which was hit late Tuesday and early Wednesday, wasn't completely clear, though state media reported that the storm knocked out power, submerged roads and houses, and ruined farm land.

Typhoon Tembin, meanwhile, was expected to reach South Korea on Thursday, with its outer bands hitting North Korea later in the day.

Tembin is expected to weaken as it reaches North Korea. Heavy rain, however, often means catastrophe in the North because of poor drainage, deforestation and decrepit infrastructure. The North's official Korean Central News Agency said some areas of Hwanghae and Kangwon provinces would receive up to 70 millimeters (2.8 inches) of rain on Thursday and Friday.

Weather officials had warned that Bolaven would be the strongest typhoon to hit the region in several years, but its gusts in other parts of Asia weren't as powerful as predicted.

KCNA reported that Bolaven tore off a power station's roof, cut power lines in Kaesong city and damaged more than 8,500 hectares (21,000 acres) of maize fields, hurting the chances of a successful harvest.

The typhoon tore roofs off several public buildings in South Hwanghae province and damaged TV relay facilities in North Hwanghae province, KCNA said.

Many houses and roads were submerged or destroyed and railroads were covered by landslides in South Phyongan, Kangwon, and South Hamgyong provinces, KCNA said.

Strong winds and rain lashed Pyongyang, the North's capital, Tuesday, but there was little apparent damage there.

Thousands of young people had been brought to Pyongyang to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the country's main youth political organization. The young delegates toured various places in Pyongyang on Tuesday, state media said, and leader Kim Jong Un visited a military unit on the country's eastern border with the South, despite torrential rain.

In South Korea, Bolaven temporarily left hundreds of thousands without power, canceled flights, left nearly 100 families homeless and damaged farm land. The storm also churned up rough seas that smashed two Chinese fishing ships into rocks off southern Jeju island, killing eight and leaving seven missing. Coast guard ships were still searching for the missing fishermen after an eighth dead body washed ashore Wednesday afternoon, coast guard spokesman Ko Chang-keon said.

The coast guard rescued 12 fishermen from the ships on Tuesday, and six others swam or were washed ashore.

The storm killed at least four other people across South Korea, officials said.

The storms come as North Korea tries to help people with food, shelter, health care, and clean water after heavy flooding in July, according to a recent United Nations situation report. More than 170 died nationwide, and tens of thousands of homes were destroyed in the floods, according to official North Korean accounts.

Many flood victims still live in tents with limited access to water and other basic facilities, the U.N. report said, and there is worry about increased malnutrition in coming weeks.

2nd Typhoon Threatens Battered Korean Peninsula

Average Size of Largest Annual Rain or Snow Storm in the United States, 1948-2011. pennenvironmentcenter.org

2 August 2012 (PennEnvironment) – The biggest rainstorms and snowstorms are getting bigger.

Not only are extreme downpours more frequent, but they are also more intense. The total amount of precipitation produced by the largest storm in each year at each station increased by 10 percent over the period of analysis, on average across the contiguous United States.

This trend was most pronounced in New England and the Middle Atlantic. Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont all saw the intensity of the largest storm each year increase by 20 percent or more.

The trend also occurred across the Midwest, the South and the West. In total, 43 states experienced a statistically significant increase in the amount of precipitation produced by the largest annual rain or snow storm. Only one, Oregon, recorded a significant decrease.

When It Rains, It Pours: Global Warming and the Increase in Extreme Precipitation from 1948 to 2011

On 28 August 2012, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this natural-color satellite image of several wildfires burning in the Khabarovsk region of eastern Russia. Red outlines indicate hot spots where MODIS detected unusually warm surface temperatures associated with fires. Large fires have burned across Siberia throughout the summer. NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE MODIS Rapid Response

On 28 August 2012, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this natural-color satellite image of several wildfires burning in the Khabarovsk region of eastern Russia. Red outlines indicate hot spots where MODIS detected unusually warm surface temperatures associated with fires. Large fires have burned across Siberia throughout the summer.

Wildfires in Siberia


A fire burns through a forest in Siberia, 23 August 2012. Yakov Andreev / RIA Novosti

NOVOSIBIRSK, 23 August 2012 (RIA Novosti) – Firefighters extinguished all six forest fires over the past 24 hours that remained raging in Russia’s Siberia this summer, the regional forestry department said in a statement on Thursday.

There are no more registered fires in the region, but the emergencies situation still remain in force in three areas of the Tomsk region due to the high risk of new wildfires outbreak, the statement added.

Last month NASA quoted Greenpeace as saying that this year's wildfires are worse than in 2010, when they engulfed most of central Russia, chocking the populous region with acrid smog.

Also in July, smoke from wildfires in the taiga east of the Urals accounted for some spectacular sunsets in western Canada and the United States.

More than 200,000 hectares of forest already burned down in Siberia and the Russian Far East, where fires are still raging, since the start of the summer.

All Forest Fires Put Out in Russia’s Siberia


Fire burns through a forest in Siberia, 7 August 2012. RIA Novosti

TOMSK, 7 August 2012 (RIA Novosti) – Firefighters battling rampant wildfires in Russia’s Tomsk Region in Siberia lack essential communication systems, equipment and heavy machinery, the region’s Deputy Governor Andrei Trubitsyn said on Tuesday.

“In terms of concrete problems, the most important thing is the lack of communication systems and the second is equipment," Trubitsyn said. "We have to change the wage and motivation system and we have to improve the food rations…And we absolutely do not have enough heavy machinery,” he added.

Trubitsyn said an appeal to the Defense Ministry is being prepared, requesting the army to “donate heavy equipment to the forestry agencies.”

His complaints come two years after Russia suffered devastating wildfires in the midst of the most severe drought in recorded history. The authorities faced a wave of criticism following the country's poor reaction to the crisis, which devastated swathes of the country and left Moscow wreathed in smoke for weeks. The fires affected 22 regions, killing more than 50, leaving 3,500 homeless and causing over $15 billion in damage.

As of Tuesday morning, 25 forest fires raged over 4,970 hectares in Tomsk region, of which 14 have been brought under control. There is no threat of the fires spreading to populated areas, but a state of emergency persists in the region.

Andrey Kachin, an instructor in the firefighting paratrooper squad at Tomsk’s Bakchar forest protection department, said there is a drastic difference between how federal reserve employees and the local troopers are equipped and supplied.

“[Federal Reserve commandos] have everything, they are dressed differently, their equipment is better. Unlike us, they have good boots and new tents. They probably eat just like we do, but they have drinking water supplies, while we drink water from the river,” Kachin said.

Another firefighter, Aleksandr Butsenko, told RIA Novosti the standard food rations are “laughable.”

“About 50 grams of sugar a day, 80 grams of condensed milk, 340 grams of corned beef per person … On the whole it’s enough, but we eat our own potatoes … We take water wherever it’s available – from a swamp, for example. There was a fire in the town of Krasniy Yar, and the nearest water was 17 kilometers away,” said Butsenko.

The equipment issued to firefighters is of poor quality, he said. “Our boots soak up water, protective gear gets worn to shreds and there aren’t enough inflatable mattresses to sleep on,” he said.

Russia’s Emergency Ministry has deployed Be-200 amphibious airplanes and converted Ilyushin Il-76 transport planes to help fight the fires.

Tomsk Firefighters Lack Equipment - Deputy Governor


Smoke blankets a forest in Siberia after passage of wildfires, 28 August 2012. RIA Novosti

MOSCOW, 28 August 2012 (RIA Novosti) – Pilots from Russia’s Far Eastern Khabarovsk Territory are refusing to put out wildfires currently raging in the region over pay arrears that top 122 million rubles, the head of the local forest management department Alexander Lyubyakin said on Tuesday.

The majority of wildfires triggered by the summer heat wave in Russia have been put out, but 11 wildfires with a total area of 838 hectares are still raging in Khabarovsk Territory.

“Pay arrears are obstructing the firefighting effort in Khabarovsk Territory. Few planes are being used to douse the fires. Several aviation enterprises have refused to carry out their commitments because of the pay arrears,” Lyubyakin said.

The territory’s deputy governor and finance minister have arrived in Moscow to discuss the situation with the Finance Ministry.

“The ministry has yet not allocated the necessary sum from the federal reserve to compensate for the regions’ firefighting expenses,” a spokesman for Khabarovsk Territory’s forestry department said.

Pay Arrears Ground Khabarovsk Firefighting Pilots

U.S. public debt as a share of GDP. Tax cuts and wars account for nearly half of U.S. public debt by 2019. cbpp.org via Ezra Klein

By Ezra Klein
28 August 2012

You can see it kind of looks like a layer cake. In fact, the folks at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities call it “the parfait graph.”

The top layer, the orange one, that’s the Bush tax cuts. There is no single policy we have passed that has added as much to the debt, or that is projected to add as much to the debt in the future, as the Bush tax cuts, which Republicans passed in 2001 and 2003 and Obama and the Republicans extended in 2010. To my knowledge, all elected Republicans want to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. Democrats, by and large, want to end them for income over $250,000.

In second place is the economic crisis. That’s the medium blue. Recessions drive tax revenue down because people lose their jobs, and when you lose your job, you lose your income, and when you lose your income, you can’t pay taxes. Tax revenues in recent years have been 15.4 percent of GDP — the lowest level since the 1950s. Meanwhile, they drive social spending up, because programs like unemployment insurance and Medicaid automatically begin spending more to help the people who have been laid off.

Then comes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s the red. And then recovery measures like the stimulus. That’s the light blue, and the part for which you can really blame Obama and the Democrats– though it’s worth remembering that the stimulus had to happen because of a recession that began before Obama entered office, and that the Senate Republicans proposed and voted for a $3 trillion tax cut stimulus that would have added almost four times what Obama’s stimulus added to the debt.

Then there’s the financial rescue measures like TARP, which is the dark blue line. That’s almost nothing, as much of that money has been paid back. […]

Republican National Convention: The one graph you need to see before watching

This image was made from observations collected by the Special Sensor Microwave Imager/Sounder (SSMIS) on the satellites of the U.S. Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. Sea ice appears in shades of white and light blue, with white indicating the greatest concentrations of ice. Open ocean water is blue, and land is gray. The yellow outline shows the median minimum ice extent for 1979-2000 on August 26. NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center

Caption by Michon Scott
28 August 2012

On 26 August 2012, the extent of Arctic water covered by sea ice fell below 4.17 million square kilometers (1.61 million square miles), the record minimum set in 2007. Arctic sea ice stood at 4.10 million square kilometers (1.58 million square miles), the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and NASA reported on August 27.

This image was made from observations collected by the Special Sensor Microwave Imager/Sounder (SSMIS) on the satellites of the U.S. Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. Sea ice appears in shades of white and light blue, with white indicating the greatest concentrations of ice. Open ocean water is blue, and land is gray. The yellow outline shows the median minimum ice extent for 1979-2000—in other words, areas that were at least 15 percent ice-covered in at least half the years between 1979 and 2000—on August 26.

In April 2012, Arctic sea ice reached a near-average extent, but periods of intense ice loss in June and August 2012 helped push Arctic sea ice below the previous record from 2007. In 2007, high pressure over the Beaufort Sea and low pressure over northeastern Eurasia pulled in warm winds, which melted the ice and pushed it away from the Siberian and Alaskan coastlines. Although these pressure patterns also occurred in 2012, they were much less persistent. Nonetheless sea ice melt rates still reached up to 150,000 square kilometers (57,900 square miles) per day in 2012, more that twice the long-term rate.

By early July, Arctic sea ice melting was three weeks ahead of schedule, but then slowed somewhat. Ice loss rates picked up again in early August, “probably the highest in the record for that period,” according to NSIDC staff scientist Walt Meier. Because the old record has been passed in August 2012—and Arctic sea ice generally reaches its lowest annual extent in September—it is likely that the amount of ice cover may continue to shrink. NSIDC provides an overview of melt rates in its Arctic Sea Ice News and Analysis blog.

Arctic sea ice reached previous record lows in 2002, 2005, and 2007. (The 2007 record low was previously recorded as 4.13 million square kilometers, or 1.59 million square miles. Slightly different processing and quality-control procedures used by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center led to revised estimates of sea ice extent.) Over the past decade, sea ice extent in the Arctic has been well below the 1979–2000 average.

The loss of so much sea ice means that when ice reforms over the winter, it is “first-year ice,” which is much thinner than sea ice that has persisted over multiple years. Joey Comiso, senior research scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, explained that the loss of this multiyear ice contributed to record low ice extent in 2012. Another possible factor at work in the summer of 2012, Comiso suggested, may have been a strong summer cyclone, which broke up ice in the Central Arctic and dispersed it into warmer waters.

NSIDC director Mark Serreze differed with Comiso somewhat on the role of the storm. “The ice was already so thin it was ready to go,” said Serreze. “2012 likely would have set a new record without the storm.”

Once sea ice loss gets underway, it can become a self-reinforcing process. Because there is less light-colored ice to reflect the Sun’s energy back into space, more energy is absorbed by darker ocean water.

A new record for sea ice was not the only unusual event in the Arctic in the summer of 2012. July 2012 saw widespread melt on the Greenland Ice Sheet and the calving of a new iceberg from Greenland’s Petermann Glacier. By early August, rapid sea ice retreat left the Northwest Passage nearly open, although ice moved back into parts of the passage later in the month.

The new record low for sea ice in 2012 fits into a larger pattern of a changing Arctic. Regarding the rapid loss of Arctic sea ice, Serreze remarks, “What is perhaps most surprising is that we are no longer surprised.”

Arctic Sea Ice Drops below 2007 Record

A crew member is rescued from a stranded ship as Typhoon Bolaven hits Korea, 27 August 2012. abc.net.au

By Yoo Li-an, Arirang News
28 August 2012

Typhoon Bolaven is currently steering back into the West Sea, a hundred and twenty kilometers from Seoul at a speed of 44 kilometers per hour.

The Korea Meteorological Administration says the typhoon will enter the western region of North Korea starting tonight and reach China by early Wednesday.

The center of the typhoon is now traveling away from South Korea, but the meteorological administration says the entire nation will still be under the direct influence of the typhoon.

[Interview : Yoo Li-an, Lian.yoo@arirang.co.kr] "The typhoon recorded wind speeds of up to 51 meters per second in the southwestern region of the country earlier in the day. This makes it the fifth most severe typhoon the nation has seen in over sixty years."

Typhoon Bolaven is being blamed for nine deaths nationwide and two injuries.

As for 3 p.m. Tuesday, around 400-thousand households had suffered property damage from the strong winds, over 200-thousand households experienced power outages, and 54 people had been displaced from their homes, according to the National Emergency Management Agency.

As a precautionary measure, Incheon Bridge, one of the two bridges connecting to Incheon International Airport, has been closed to traffic since noon today.

Most domestic and international flights at the country's two major airports, Gimpo and Incheon, were canceled or delayed.

Typhoon Bolaven Heads North

The K-27 nuclear submarine, which was sunk by the Soviet Navy in 1981 for disposal, poses a possible risk of exploding beneath the sea. The submarine was not among radioactive hazards cataloged by Russian Authorities. The Russian Northern Fleet: Sources of Radioactive Contamination

By Charles Digges
28 August 2012

Enormous quantities of decommissioned Russian nuclear reactors and radioactive waste were dumped into the Kara Sea in the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia over a course of decades, according to documents given to Norwegian officials by Russian authorities and published in Norwegian media.

Bellona had received in 2011 a draft of a similar report prepared for Russia’s Gossoviet, the State Council, for presentation at a meeting presided over by then-president Dmitry Medvedev on Russian environmental security.

The Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom confirmed the figures in February of this year during a seminar it jointly held with Bellona in Moscow.

Bellona is alarmed by the extent of the dumped Soviet waste, which is far greater than was previously known – not only to Bellona, but also to the Russian authorities themselves.

The catalogue of waste dumped at sea by the Soviets, according to documents seen by Bellona, and which were today released by the Norwegian daily Aftenposten, includes some 17,000 containers of radioactive waste, 19 ships containing radioactive waste, 14 nuclear reactors, including five that still contain spent nuclear fuel; 735 other pieces of radioactively contaminated heavy machinery, and the K-27 nuclear submarine with its two reactors loaded with nuclear fuel.

“Bellona has worked with this issue since 1992 when we first revealed the dangerous nuclear waste laying at the bottom of the Kara Sea,” said Bellona President Frederic Hauge.

He acknowledged, however, that a precise accounting from the Russian side could hardly be expected given Russia’s own ignorance of the extent of the dumped radioactive waste.

Hauge demanded that Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre take the issue up with his counterparts in the Russian foreign ministry as soon as possible.

“The Norwegian government talks a lot about oil and gas with the Russian government,” said Hauge. “But this report shows that decommissioned nuclear reactors and radioactive waste must be much higher on the agenda when the two countries meet on an official level.

Per Strand of the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority told Aftenposten that the information on the radioactive waste had come from the Russian authorities gradually.

“No one can guarantee that this outline we have received is complete,” he said.

He added that Russia has set up a special commission to undertake the task of mapping the waste, the paper reported.

A Norwegian-Russian Expert Group will this week start an expedition in areas of the Kara Sea, which the report released by Russia says was used as a radioactive dump until the early 1990s.

The expedition will represent the first time Norway has participated in plumbing the depths of Russian waters for radioactive waste since 1994, said Aftenposten. […]

Bellona thinks that Russia has passed its report to Norway as a veiled cry for help, as the extent of the problem is far too great for Moscow to handle on its own. […]

Russia announces enormous finds of radioactive waste and nuclear reactors in Arctic seas

A Chinese fisherman wearing an orange life vest, center, is rescued by South Korean coast guard officers from a Chinese ship in Jeju, South Korea, Tuesday, 28 August 2012. Typhoon Bolaven pounded South Korea with strong winds and heavy rain Tuesday, while the nation's coast guard battled rough seas in a race to rescue fishermen on two Chinese ships that slammed into rocks off the southern coast.  Kim Ho-chun / AP Photo / Yonhap

By HYUNG-JIN KIM, with additional reporting by Associated Press writers Hye Soo Nah, Foster Klug and Sam Kim in Seoul, and Annie Huang in Taipei, Taiwan
28 August 2012

SEOUL, South Korea – A powerful typhoon pounded South Korea with strong winds and heavy rain Tuesday, killing nine and churning up rough seas that smashed two Chinese fishing ships into rocks and forced the coast guard to perform a daring rescue of survivors.

Rescuers saved 12 fishermen and searched for 10 still missing from the ships that hit rocks off South Korea's southern Jeju island. Five fishermen were killed, officials said.

Separately, at least four other people died as Typhoon Bolaven knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of South Koreans, canceled flights and temporarily halted joint war games by U.S. and South Korean military forces.

North Korea, which is still struggling to rebuild from massive floods and a devastating drought before that, was next in the typhoon's path. Heavy rain and strong winds hit many parts of the country Tuesday, a day that was supposed to be a North Korean celebration of its young people.

The typhoon knocked down hundreds of trees, destroyed power cables and caused blackouts in the western cities of Kaesong and Haeju, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said. It said damage was expected to grow as the typhoon moves across the country.

Off South Korea's Jeju island, dangerous waves kept rescue vessels from approaching the wrecked fishing ships. The coast guard used a special gun to shoot rope to one ship so officers could pull themselves over and bring the fishermen back to shore, coast guard spokesman Ko Chang-keon said.

Eighteen fishermen survived. The coast guard rescued 12, and the others swam or were washed ashore.

South Korea issued a storm warning for the capital, Seoul, as Bolaven battered the country's south and west, knocking over street lights and church spires and ripping signs from stores. A large container box crushed an apartment janitor to death, a woman fell to her death from a rooftop where she kept dried red peppers and another person died after bricks hit a house, according to disaster and fire officials. An 80-year-old man died after a small makeshift building fell on him, officials said.

Strong wind gusts left Seoul streets covered with leaves, garbage and branches. More than 15,000 schools canceled classes, and businesses and homes taped windows or pasted the glass with wet newspapers to keep them from shattering.

About 1.7 million South Korean homes and businesses lost power, the National Emergency Management Agency said, though all but about 200,000 had electricity restored by Tuesday night.

More than 80 families were left homeless because of floods or storm damage. Nearly 200 flights were canceled, 860 hectares (2,130 acres) of farmland were flooded and 32 ships were damaged, the agency said in a statement.

In Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, Associated Press cameras captured cars splashing through slightly flooded streets, spraying people on crowded sidewalks who scrambled to avoid the water. Residents appeared to be going about their daily lives, though many wore rain boots and jackets, angling their umbrellas to fight the wind and rain.

The bad weather came on North Korea's first Youth Day since new leader Kim Jong Un took over in December.

Big rainstorms often mean catastrophe in the North because of poor drainage, deforestation and decrepit infrastructure. North Korea is still trying to help people with food, shelter, health care and clean water after heavy flooding in July, according to a recent United Nations situation report. More than 170 died nationwide, and tens of thousands of homes were destroyed in the floods, according to official North Korean accounts.

Many flood victims still live in tents with limited access to water and other basic facilities, the U.N. report said, and there is worry about increased malnutrition in coming weeks. Two South Korean aid groups had been scheduled to visit the North Korean city of Kaesong for talks Wednesday on flood aid, but the North on Tuesday canceled the meeting, according to aid group officials. One of the groups said the North cited strained ties between the two Koreas. […]

Typhoon pounds South Korea, smashes ships; 9 dead


NASA's MODIS instrument that flies onboard the Terra satellite captured this remarkable image of Typhoon Tembin (lower left) being dwarfed by giant Typhoon Bolaven (top right)in the Philippine Sea at 0240 UTC on 27 August 2012. NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team

28 August 2012 (AFP) – Taiwan's rain-battered south heaved a sigh of relief Tuesday after Typhoon Tembin skirted past the island before dawn without making landfall, apparently leaving little damage.

Communities in the exposed southern part of Taiwan had been bracing for a rare second onslaught after Tembin swept across the island late last week and unleashed the worst downpour in more than a century in some areas.

"I feel relieved now," said Yeh Ming-shun, head of Hengchun township, which forms the southernmost tip of Taiwan.

Tembin brushed by Taiwan at 2:00 am (1800 GMT Monday), missing the south of the island by 10 kilometres (six miles), the Central Weather Bureau said.

Hengchun, at the heart of Taiwan's Riviera, is normally a bustling city full of tourists, but Tuesday morning it was deserted, as almost all visitors had cancelled their hotel bookings. […]

A second landfall by Tembin would have been a rare event. The weather bureau said Taiwan had been hit by the same typhoon twice only four times since 1977. The last typhoon to do so was Typhoon Nali in 2001.

When Tembin ground its way across Taiwan late last week, it triggered massive precipitation in some places, with Hengchun receiving more than 600 millimetres (24 inches) of rain within a 24-hour span.

Relief as Typhoon Tembin skirts Taiwan

Failed crops in Hubei Province, China, caused by the worst drought in record, 20 August 2012. In Langhe Village, worst hit in Suizhou, nearly one third of the total 233 hectares of land is expected to yield nothing. Another one third of the land will only yield 40 percent of what it should have produced. SINA

20 August 2012 (SINA) – In Suizhou City of Hubei Province, where maximum temperatures have been as high as 35 degree centigrade, since July, insufficient rainfall over the past 25 months is endangering the drinking water supply for more than 520,000 local residents and 160,000 livestock.

In Langhe Village, worst hit in Suizhou, nearly one third of the total 233 hectares of land is expected to yield nothing.

"Another one third of the land will only yield 40 percent of what it should have produced," moaned the village chief Lu Renfu.

The 53-year-old said the ongoing drought is the worst he has ever seen in all his life.

Zhan Shengquan, deputy head of the government of Hedian Township, where Lu's village is located, told Xinhua the water storage of the largest reservoir in the township had shrunk to 3.5 million cubic meters, from over 46 million cubic meters, as the drought continues.

"We do not have enough water supply for the residents, let alone for the irrigation," said Zhan.

Suizhou received only 340 mm of rainfall since mid-July - only half of previous years and the least since 1957, when the city's first meteorological log could be traced, according to deputy head of the city's Drought Relief and Flood Control Office Yu Pengcheng.

Extreme weathers are also gripping other parts of China, where the south is bracing for Kai-Tak, a tropical storm that has developed into a typhoon. Elsewhere, the north is expected to be lashed by torrential rains.

Most serious drought for 6 decades in Hubei via World Catastrophe Map

World nuclear electric production, split by major producing countries, based on BP's 2012 Statistical Review of World Energy. FSU is Former Soviet Union. The highest year of nuclear electric production was 2006. theoildrum.com

By Gail the Actuary
27 August 2012

The issue of nuclear electricity is a complex one. In this post, I offer a few insights into the nuclear electric situation based on recent reports and statistical data.

Nuclear Electric Production Is Already Declining

According to BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy, the highest year of nuclear electric production was 2006.

There are really two trends taking place, however.

1. The countries that adopted nuclear first, that is the United States, Europe, Japan, and Russia, have been experiencing flat to declining nuclear electricity production. The countries with actual declines in generation are Japan and some of the countries in Europe outside of France.

2. The countries that began adopting nuclear later, particularly the developing countries, are continuing to show growth. China and India in particular are adding nuclear production.

The long-term trend depends on how these two opposite trends balance out. There may also be new facilities built, and some “uprates” of old facilities, among existing large users of nuclear. Russia, in particular, has been mentioned as being interested in adding more nuclear. […]

A Few Insights Regarding Today's Nuclear Situation

Frequency of occurence (y-axis) of local temperature anomalies divided by local standard deviation (x-axis) obtained by binning all local results for the indicated region and 11-year period into 0.05 frequency intervals. Area under each curve is unity. Standard deviations are for the 1951-1980 period. We can state, with a high degree of confidence, that extreme anomalies such as those in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010 were a consequence of global warming because their likelihood in the absence of global warming was exceedingly small. Hansen, et al, 2012

Frequency of occurrence (y-axis) of local temperature anomalies divided by local standard deviation (x-axis) obtained by binning all local results for the indicated region and 11-year period into 0.05 frequency intervals. Area under each curve is unity. Standard deviations are for the 1951-1980 period.

ABSTRACT: "Climate dice," describing the chance of unusually warm or cool seasons, have become more and more “loaded” in the past 30 years, coincident with rapid global warming. The distribution of seasonal mean temperature anomalies has shifted toward higher temperatures and the range of anomalies has increased. An important change is the emergence of a category of summertime extremely hot outliers, more than three standard deviations (3σ) warmer than the climatology of the 1951–1980 base period. This hot extreme, which covered much less than 1% of Earth’s surface during the base period, now typically covers about 10% of the land area. It follows that we can state, with a high degree of confidence, that extreme anomalies such as those in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010 were a consequence of global warming because their likelihood in the absence of global warming was exceedingly small. We discuss practical implications of this substantial, growing, climate change.

Perception of climate change

Indian shepherds walk with their cattle in Bagodara, about 75 kilometers (47 miles) west of Ahmedabad, India, 23 August 2012. The showers, which normally run from June to September in large areas of what is now a drought affected Gujarat, are crucial in a country where 60 percent of the population works in agriculture and less than half the farmland is irrigated. India's Meteorological Department has said it expects the country to get at least 10 percent less rain this year than during a normal monsoon, but large parts of the country have been hit much harder. Ajit Solanki / AP Photo

By Muneeza Naqvi, Associated Press
27 August 2012

KATHURA, India (AP) – The farmer walks past muddy fields of stunted sugarcane and damaged rice paddies as a light drizzle falls. “Too late, too late,” he says of the rains he has been praying for since many weeks ago.

For nearly two months, Satyavan Narwal’s eyes scoured the heavens looking for the monsoon rains that would nourish his crops, but he found nothing and was left with parched earth. Now monsoon showers are soaking the fields — but late August is much too late for him.

This year’s fickle monsoon has played havoc with millions of Indian farmers. The showers, which normally run from June to September, are crucial in a country where 60 percent of the population works in agriculture and less than half the farmland is irrigated.

“Here farming is entirely on God’s mercy. If nature doesn’t bless us, the farmer can’t do anything,” Narwal says.

India’s Meteorological Department has said it expects the country to get at least 10 percent less rain this year than during a normal monsoon, but large parts of the country have been hit much harder.

In the northwestern state of Haryana, where Narwal’s family has farmed for generations, rainfall is less than half what it should have been. And when the rains finally did come, the crops were already nearly dead, fit only to be used as animal feed.

Shriveled old men share a water pipe and one of them points to the skies and shouts “What now, brother?” as they watch men and women carry damaged sugar cane to feed to their cattle. At the edge of fields, young men stand, hands on hips, shaking their heads in dismay. The village is 140 kilometers (87 miles) northwest of New Delhi.

By now the sugar cane crop should have been at least eight feet tall (2.4 meters tall). Rice paddy crops would have been lush and emerald green. Small patches of pearl millet, corn and sorghum would have dotted the landscape.

But the sun shone on with determination through all of July and most of August so that the cane is now only knee-high at best and most of the rice crop is burnt.

The lack of monsoon rains has also been partly to blame for the worst blackout in world history, which cut power to half of India last month. Large-scale farmers were using extra power to pump water from deep aquifers, and little electricity was being generated by hydropower projects.

Across the country rains in June and July — a crucial time for farmers — were nearly 20 percent below normal.

"Now some of the crop is so dry and damaged even our cattle won’t eat it,” says farmer Mahinder Singh, as he watches over the cleaning up of his sugar cane fields.

Punjab, the unofficial breadbasket of India, has received less than 40 percent of the rain it should have. Large swaths of western Gujarat and Maharashtra have been declared drought-stricken.

The government has said it’s not worried about food scarcity because millions of tons of rice and wheat from earlier bumper harvests are spilling out of state-owned granaries.

But for the average farmer, who lives and earns from season to season, a poor monsoon means that food must be carefully rationed because he has little money to spend. […]

The federal government and many state governments have hesitated to declare a drought for fear of causing panic and because it requires them to assess each farmers’ losses and compensate them.

Farmers in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh state, which have not been given declarations of drought, are losing patience.

“What will it take for the government to declare a drought?” asks Narwal. “Will all the farmers have to die first?” […]

Millions suffer from late monsoons in India 

 

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