We open with the latest on that other outbreak on another continent, via Jiji Press:
Dengue Fever Outbreak in Japan Shows No Signs of Ending
Despite Japanese authorities’ efforts for containment, dengue fever has not yet shown clear signs of subsiding in the country, with the number of domestic infections topping 100.
The health ministry calls for calm, saying there is no need to panic because the spread of the tropical disease, which is transmitted only by tiger mosquitoes, will not last long, daily reports of new infections are stirring up fears.
The first locally transmitted case of dengue fever in nearly 70 years was reported in late August.
From NBC News, water woes in the Golden State:
Not One Drop: How Long Will California Survive Life Without Water?
The old man knew of the $500-a-day fine for people caught wasting water. He heard the plea for conservation from Governor Jerry Brown. But the water police can’t scare a person whose water isn’t running in the first place.
“Look,” said Carlos Chavez, a retired farm hand in the small town of Seville. He turned the wheel on a big outdoor faucet, the kind of high pressure spigot that’s illegal to operate in California without at least a hose attached to it. Nothing came out except air. It was the same story inside his home, where his plates piled up beneath a kitchen faucet as dry as the shop model.
As the California drought approaches its fourth year, Seville’s well is one of hundreds of private water holes coughing up sand and spitting air in the Central Valley, according to Tulare County officials. As many as 100,000 more wells are at risk around the state if the rains don’t come by October.
From NASA Goddard, another water woe:
Phytoplankton Levels Dropping
New research led by NASA researchers has found populations of the microscopic marine plants, phytoplankton, have decreased in the Northern Hemisphere. An analysis using a NASA model in combination with ocean satellite data between 1998 and 2012, showed a 1% decrease of phytoplankton per year.
From the Guardian, all hat, no cattle in Old Blighty:
Richard Branson failed to deliver on $3bn climate change pledge
- New book by Naomi Klein claims that Virgin founder gave less than a tenth of cash promised to develop low carbon fuel
Richard Branson has failed to deliver on his much-vaunted pledge to spend $3bn (£1.8bn) over a decade to develop a low carbon fuel.
Seven years into the pledge, Branson has paid out only a small fraction of the promised money – “well under $300m” – according to a new book by the writer and activist, Naomi Klein.
The British entrepreneur famously promised to divert a share of the profits from his Virgin airlines empire to find a cleaner fuel, after a 2006 private meeting with Al Gore.
From Chemical & Engineering News, chemical intransigence:
Syngenta Stands Firm On Neonicotinoids
- Pesticides: Manufacturer seeks to expand uses of thiamethoxam as pressure against chemical mounts
Amid growing concerns and lawsuits linking neonicotinoid pesticides with bee declines, Syngenta is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to increase the allowable levels of the company’s controversial neonicotinoid product thiamethoxam on certain crops.
Syngenta is seeking the change so thiamethoxam can be used as a spray on the foliage of alfalfa, corn, barley, and wheat. Currently, the pesticide is approved for use only as a seed treatment on those crops. In explaining its request, the company says, “Mid- to late-season insect pests are not controlled by seed treatment.”
The environmental group Beyond Pesticides says the move would be a “step backward for pollinator health.” Syngenta’s request “comes at a time when researchers are discovering that even ‘near-infinitesimal’ exposure to this class of pesticides can result in harm to honeybees and other wild pollinators,” the group says.
From the Yomiuri Shimbun, global warming sets the stage for conflicts ahead:
U.N. to set new rules for N. Sea Route
The U.N. International Maritime Organization will create the first-ever mandatory safety and environmental regulations for the Northern Sea Route by revising relevant conventions, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.
The London-based organization decided to formulate international rules for maritime traffic because the number of ships using the route has surged, as global warming has been causing ice in the Arctic Ocean to melt. The new regulations are expected to take effect in 2016.
Currently, no international laws have been established for the Arctic Ocean like those in the Antarctic Treaty, which dictates that nations not make territorial sovereignty or other claims. There have also been concerns that coastal nations such as Russia may implement their own regulations.
The paper also illustrates the routes of the new Northwest Passage:
From the Contra Costa Times, hints of oily woes ahead:
Crude-by-rail: One federal inspector oversees all California’s railroad bridges, no state oversight
As concerns grow over aging rail infrastructure, earthquake readiness and a dramatic increase in crude oil shipments by train, state railroad regulators are scrambling to hire their first-ever railroad bridge inspectors — two of them.
Once they are hired, the California Public Utilities Commission plans to create a state railroad bridge inventory to determine which are most at risk. That’s right — neither the state nor federal government has a list of railroad bridges for California or the rest of the country. Until that happens, the safety of California’s thousands of railroad bridges — key conduits that carry people and hazardous materials over environmentally sensitive ecosystems and near urban areas — is left up to rail line owners and a single federal inspector who splits his time among 11 states.
“Two more inspectors is better than none, but it’s really a Band-Aid,” said Suma Peesapati, attorney with Earthjustice, an environmental group fighting the oil rail influx. “I think there should be no crude by rail over those bridges until there’s a comprehensive look at all of them.”
And from Global Times oil and water don’t mix:
Kunlun river polluted by oil pipe leaks
A river at the foot of Kunlun Mountain in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau has become seriously polluted due to leaks from a diesel oil pipeline, which was broken by criminals who planned to steal oil, media reported Friday.
An unnamed government agency stated that broken valves on the oil pipeline in Qinghai Province, severed by prospective oil thieves, are the cause of the leaks, the Qinghai branch of China National Radio (CNR) reported on its Sina Weibo account Friday.
A total of 6 tons of oil had leaked, and 3 tons have been cleaned up, CNR reported, adding that the broken pipeline has also been repaired.
For our final item, China Daily hints of massive fracking ahead:
Experts: Potential of shale gas huge in China
China is one of the world’s largest markets for energy consumption, but some experts believe China can make significant headway in the natural gas sector by exploiting technology to tap its potentially huge reserves of shale gas.
China Energy 2020, an event that probed China’s place in the global energy market, was held Thursday at the Columbia Club of New York. The event was co-hosted by the China Energy Fund Committee, Columbia’s Center on Global Energy Policy and the National Committee on US-China Relations.
A report published by Columbia’s new energy policy center, titled Meeting China’s Shale Gas Goals, states that though China has “a huge shale gas resource,” production of shale gas in China is “just starting” to take shape and “will not be substantial” in the next few years.