Plus a whole lot more.
We open with another deadly disease with a global rich, first with a graphic from disease which preys on the poor, via Agence France-Presse:
More from BBC News:
WHO revises global tuberculosis estimate up by 500,000
The World Health Organization has revised up its estimate of how many people have tuberculosis by almost 500,000.
In 2013 nine million people had developed TB around the world, up from 8.6 million in 2012, the WHO said. However, the number of people dying from TB continued to decline, it added.
TB campaigners said that one of the biggest problems in tackling the deadly disease was gauging how many people were affected.
About 1.5 million people had died in 2013 from TB, including 360,000 people who had been HIV positive, the WHO said in its Global Tuberculosis Report 2014. And in 2012, there had been 1.3 million tuberculosis deaths.
Next, the latest move in a fight against a growing outbreak in the Caribbean from Public Radio International:
Jamaica declares a state of emergency to try to stop the spread of painful chikungunya virus
Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller announced on Monday that her country is in a “national emergency” this week after the outbreak of the chikungunya virus.
Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne virus transmitted by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. “It’s very rarely lethal,” says Dr. Babatunde Olowokure of the Caribbean Public Health Agency — but it’s very painful.
The diesase shares many of the same symptoms as dengue: high fever, headaches, muscle and joint pains, nausea and rashes. The symptoms can last up to 10 months, and have lasted years in some cases.
“This [disease] tends to occur in people who have, maybe, an underlying disease, such as hyper-tension or a cardiovascular issue, and our elderly,” Olowokure says.
The disease has spread throughout the region since surfacing on the island of St. Martin in 2013. Now there are almost 800,000 suspected cases in the Caribbean.
The epidemic’s reach from the Centers for Disease Control:
Antidepressants depressing avian populations?, via the Guardian:
Prozac may be harming bird populations, study suggests
- Starlings who were fed same levels of antidepressant drug found in sewage earthworms suffered loss of libido and appetite
Increasing consumption of antidepressant drugs may be helping humans but damaging the health of the bird population, according to a new study.
An expert who has looked at the effects of passive Prozac-taking on starlings says it has changed not only their feeding habits but also their interest in mating.
Dr Kathryn Arnold, an ecologist from the University of York, said: “Females who’d been on it were not interested in the male birds we introduced them to. They sat in the middle of the cage, not interested at all.”
Big Agra bites back, from BBC News:
EU pesticide bans ‘could hit UK crops’
The EU’s decision to ban the use of some pesticides could threaten UK crops, increase food prices and hit farmers’ profits, a report has claimed.
The report commissioned by three farming bodies said the EU was on course to “ban” use of 40 chemicals by 2020 to reduce environmental damage.
It said this could lead to a surge in pests, affecting production of apples, carrots and peas, among other crops.
Conservation groups said reducing pesticides would help the environment.
From the Guardian, and now for a word from their sponsor?:
Former Environment Agency head to lead industry-funded fracking task force
- Lord Chris Smith will lead a new ‘independent’ task force, funded by shale gas companies, to look into the risks and benefits of fracking in the UK
The risks and benefits of fracking for the UK are to be examined by a “independent” task force, led by the former head of the Environment Agency, Lord Chris Smith, and funded by shale gas companies.
“We will assess the existing evidence, ask for new contributions and lead a national conversation around this vitally important issue,” said Smith, who as chair of the Environment Agency oversaw key fracking regulation. “The Task Force on Shale Gas will provide impartial opinions on the impacts, good and bad, that the exploitation of shale gas will have on the UK.”
The government is “going all out” for the rapid development of shale gas in the UK, according to David Cameron. Conservatives say it can increase energy security, help reduce carbon emissions if gas replaces coal and be a boon to poor parts of the UK.
Fracktacular questions from Al Jazeera America:
Green groups say EPA underestimates methane leaks from fracking
- The EPA touted decreased methane leaks during fracking, but environmentalists say the numbers are skewed
The EPA uses relatively low estimates of how much methane leaks during the natural gas production process. The agency’s estimates are based on a bottom-up approach to monitoring, in which data from individual sources is collected largely through voluntary reporting from the industry and analyzed to paint a broad picture of U.S. methane emissions. Through this method, the EPA has estimated that about 1.2 percent of the gas produced by fracking leaks into the atmosphere during the process.
But a growing list of studies — most of them using top-down approaches, in which monitoring equipment measures emissions over a wide area — throw the EPA’s estimates into question.
“Consistently, studies show [methane leaks] are between 4 and 17 percent,” said Seth B.C. Shonkoff, a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley and the executive director at science policy think tank PSE Healthy Energy. “The most authoritative say the EPA underestimates methane emissions by about 50 percent. It seems the EPA is forgetting this big field of independent science.”
A scientific review led by Adam Brandt, an assistant professor of energy resources engineering at Stanford University, also found that most studies on the topic estimate natural gas methane leakage to be significantly higher than the EPA’s estimates.
From the Guardian, toxic swap syndrome?:
UN climate debt swap is ‘fundamentally unjust’, say development agencies
- A UN offer of debt relief for small island states to pay for climate change adaptation merges legitimate and illegitimate debt
A UN proposal that would see small island states offered debt relief to pay for climate change contains a “fundamentally unjust” blind spot, according to development groups.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is working on an initiative that would see rich countries write off debt owed to them by Small Island Developing States (Sids) in exchange for the money being spent on climate change adaptation.
But development agencies are concerned the proposal conflates legitimate and illegitimate debt. So-called “dictator debt” – money lent by rich countries to poor countries ruled by strongmen, who commonly used it to finance military ventures or vast follies – is estimated at US$735bn, almost one fifth of the total debt owed by the developing world. Many concerned with development believe this debt to be unjust and that it is impossible to enter into any kind of equitable debt swap until these “dictator debts” are unreservedly cancelled.
The ol’ political grip-and-green from the New York Times:
Environmental Issues Become a Force in Political Advertising
In Michigan, an ad attacking Terri Lynn Land, the Republican candidate for the United States Senate, opens with a shot of rising brown floodwaters as a woman says: “We see it every day in Michigan. Climate change. So why is Terri Lynn Land ignoring the science?”
In Colorado, an ad for Cory Gardner, another Republican candidate for Senate, shows him in a checked shirt and hiking boots, standing in front of a field of wind turbines as he discusses his support for green energy.
And in Kentucky, a spot for the Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, depicts him flanked by coal miners as a woman intones, “The person fighting for our coal jobs is Mitch McConnell.”
The Los Angeles Times brings us Golden State water woes:
Amid California’s drought, a bruising battle for cheap water
The signs appear about 200 miles north of Los Angeles, tacked onto old farm wagons parked along quiet two-lane roads and bustling Interstate 5.
“Congress Created Dust Bowl.” “Stop the Politicians’ Water Crisis.” “No Water No Jobs.”
They dot the Westlands Water District like angry salutations, marking the territory of California’s most formidable water warrior. Their message is clear: Politicians and environmental laws are more to blame for Westlands’ dusty brown fields than the drought that has parched California for the last three years.
From the Guardian, the gondolier blues:
Death in Venice: long-admired gondola feature threatened by rising waters
- Gondoliers increasingly forced to remove iron ornament from stern to get their boats under bridges during high waters
Gliding through Venice, its brocaded velvet seats occupied by a sullen pair of tourists, the boat is almost everything a gondola should be: black, sleek and gleaming, with a genial man in stripes rowing it expertly to the canal-bank.
Just one thing is missing from this quintessentially Venetian scene, and while it is passes unnoticed by most visitors it is an absence that aficionados see as a cruel blow to the city’s heritage.
On the stern, where there should be a curved piece of iron recalling the skilled movement of the gondolier’s oar – or, say some romantics, the shape of a lion’s mane – there is nothing. “Shall I put it back on?” asks Stefano, the gondolier, bending down to pick the iron stern ornament up from where it is lying, discarded, beside the seats. “This morning there was acqua alta [high water] and I had to take it off,” he says. “It’s a necessity.”
Dammed if they do, via the Guardian:
India’s largest dam given clearance but still faces flood of opposition
- The 3000MW Dibang dam, rejected twice as it would submerge vast tracts of biologically rich forests, is to get environmental clearance – but huge local opposition could stall the project
Dibang dam will not only generate power but supposedly control floods in the plains of neighbouring Assam state. The dam’s reservoir was estimated to submerge 5,000 hectares (12,000 acres) of dense forests along the Dibang river valley. The forest advisory committee (FAC), which examines the impact of infrastructure projects on wilderness areas, was appalled and rejected it.
For a project so large, the environmental impact assessment (EIA) failed to assess critical components of the project and was widely criticised for inadequately predicting the dam’s effects on the environment. Its evaluation of impacts on wildlife is a farce. The authors of the document list creatures not found in that area, such as Himalayan tahr, and concocted species not known to exist anywhere in the world, such as brown pied hornbill. Of the ones they could have got right, they mangled the names, referring to flycatchers as ‘flying catchers’ and fantail as ‘fanter’.
In his scathing critique, Anwaruddin Choudhury, an expert on the wildlife of north-east India, sarcastically concluded the EIA makes a case for the project to be shelved, as Dibang was the only place in the world “with these specialities!” Despite listing these amazing creatures, the EIA goes on to say “no major wildlife is observed”.
The Asahi Shimbun covers a seismic shift:
Nautical charts to be revised to reflect unprecedented changes caused by tsunami
Tsunami breakwaters were destroyed in the ports of Ofunato and Kamaishi in Iwate Prefecture, where water depths lost a maximum of 10 meters. But in a July 2011 survey, the water was 15 meters deeper than indicated in the nautical chart at one location in Hachinohe Port, Aomori Prefecture. It is believed that the tsunami induced a big eddy that scooped out part of the seafloor.
Coast Guard officials said local governments that administer ports are in charge of surveying any small changes, such as those resulting from wharf construction. The Coast Guard uses those survey results to modify its nautical charts.
But the 2011 disaster created so many changes that the Coast Guard took the unusual step of conducting comprehensive surveys and republishing nautical charts for all 24 ports affected.
Antarctic conservation from the Antarctic Ocean Alliance via MercoPress:
AOA calls on CCAMLR to agree on marine protection of the Ross Sea and East Antarctica
- As representatives of the 25 Members of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) meet this week in Hobart, where they will decide the fate of two key protection proposals in the Ross Sea and East Antarctica, the Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA) called on the member countries to honor their conservation commitments and finally agree to lasting and significant Southern Ocean protection.
A joint US-NZ proposal to designate a Ross Sea marine protected area (MPA) of 1.32 million km2 (with 1.25 million km2 area proposed as “no take”) is under consideration. The Ross Sea, is often referred to as “The Last Ocean” due to its status as one of the most pristine oceans remaining on earth.
Australia, France and the EU are once again proposing an MPA to protect 1.2 million km2 of East Antarctic waters. Their proposal would allow for exploratory and research activities within the MPA if they are consistent with the maintenance of the MPA’s objectives.
More marine peril from Yale Environment 360:
Drive to Mine the Deep Sea Raises Concerns Over Impacts
Armed with new high-tech equipment, mining companies are targeting vast areas of the deep ocean for mineral extraction. But with few regulations in place, critics fear such development could threaten seabed ecosystems that scientists say are only now being fully understood.
For years, the idea of prospecting for potentially rich deposits of minerals on the ocean floor was little more than a pipe dream. Extractive equipment
was not sophisticated or cost-effective enough for harsh environments thousands of feet beneath the ocean’s surface, and mining companies were busy exploring mineral deposits on land. But the emergence of advanced technologies specifically designed to plumb the remote seabed— along with declining mineral quality at many existing terrestrial mines — is nudging the industry closer to a new and, for some environmentalists and ocean scientists, worrying frontier.
More than two-dozen permits have been issued for mineral prospecting in international waters. And in April, after years of false starts, a Canadian mining company signed an agreement with the government of Papua New Guinea to mine for copper and gold in its territorial waters. That company, Nautilus Minerals, plans to begin testing its equipment next year in European waters, according to the International Seabed Authority (ISA), a regulatory agency established in 1994 under the auspices of the United Nations. A Nautilus spokesman, John Elias, said the plan is to award a construction contract in November for a specialized mining vessel. “All other equipment has been manufactured and is in final assembly,” he wrote in an email.
Chief among critics’ concerns is that seabed mining will begin without comprehensive regulatory oversight and environmental review. They say
dredging or drilling the seafloor could potentially obliterate deep-sea ecosystems and kick up immense sediment plumes, which could temporarily choke off the oxygen supply over large areas. And powerful international companies, they add, could take advantage of the lax or non-existent review and enforcement capabilities in many small island nations of the Pacific Ocean — precisely where seabed mineral deposits are thought to be highly concentrated.
After the jump, Japanese super-eruption odds, the dope on Afghan dope, battlin’ bees Down Under, on to Fukushimapocalypse Now!, starting with possible criminal charges, worker woes at the reactor complex, new radioactive particle scrubbers, demolition starts with the end point four decades away [if that soon], still no relief for evacuees and a plea for relief, the cruious semantics of Abve’s restart plans, controversy in Sendai, and Chinese coal-lessing. . . Continue reading