We begin with a three-alarm fire, first from the New York Times:
Unprecedented Level of Human Harm to Sea Life Is Forecast
A team of scientists, in a groundbreaking analysis of data from hundreds of sources, has concluded that humans are on the verge of committing unprecedented damage to the oceans and the animals living in them.
“We may be sitting on a precipice of a major extinction event,” said Douglas J. McCauley, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a co-author of the new research, which was published on Thursday in the journal Science.
But there is still time to avert catastrophe, Dr. McCauley and his colleagues also found. Compared with the continents, the oceans are mostly intact, still wild enough to bounce back to ecological health.
Next, via the Washington Post:
Scientists: Human activity has pushed Earth beyond four of nine ‘planetary boundaries’
At the rate things are going, the Earth in the coming decades could cease to be a “safe operating space” for human beings. That is the conclusion of a new paper published Thursday in the journal Science by 18 researchers trying to gauge the breaking points in the natural world.
The paper contends that we have already crossed four “planetary boundaries.” They include the extinction rate; deforestation; the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; and the flow of nitrogen and phosphorous (used on land as fertilizer) into the ocean.
“What the science has shown is that human activities — economic growth, technology, consumption – are destabilizing the global environment,” said Will Steffen, who holds appointments at the Australian National University and the Stockholm Resilience Center and is the lead author of the paper.
And this from the Guardian:
Rate of environmental degradation puts life on Earth at risk, say scientists
- Humans are ‘eating away at our own life support systems’ at a rate unseen in the past 10,000 years, two new research papers say
They found that the changes of the last 60 years are unprecedented in the previous 10,000 years, a period in which the world has had a relatively stable climate and human civilisation has advanced significantly.
Carbon dioxide levels, at 395.5 parts per million, are at historic highs, while loss of biosphere integrity is resulting in species becoming extinct at a rate more than 100 times faster than the previous norm.
Since 1950 urban populations have increased seven-fold, primary energy use has soared by a factor of five, while the amount of fertiliser used is now eight times higher. The amount of nitrogen entering the oceans has quadrupled.
All of these changes are shifting Earth into a “new state” that is becoming less hospitable to human life, researchers said.
From the report:
The Pope draws a conclusion, via Reuters:
Pope says climate change mostly man’s fault
Pope Francis said on Thursday he believed that man was primarily responsible for climate change and that he hoped this year’s Paris conference would take a courageous stand to protect the environment.
The Pope said his long-awaited encyclical on the environment was almost finished and that he hoped it would be published in June, ahead of the U.N. climate meeting in Paris in November.
Speaking to reporters on the plane taking him from Sri Lanka to Manila, he was asked specifically if man was mostly to blame for climate change.
“I don’t know if it is all (man’s fault) but the majority is, for the most part, it is man who continuously slaps down nature,” he said.
Next, some good newws [?] from the London Telegraph:
Haggis is the cure for American obesity epidemic, say peers
- President Obama urged to drop ban on sale of haggis in the US
The United States should lift its ban on the import of haggis in an attempt to tackle the country’s obesity crisis, a leading medic has said.
Lord McColl of Dulwich, a retired professor of surgery, said American Scots were being deprived of the “wholesome” food and as a result dying of obesity.
Lord Winston, a leading fertility doctor and television presenter, told the Lords that haggis was “revolting” but if it could be used to curb obesity it should be promoted in Glasgow.
And what constitutes Groundskeeper Willie’s favorite dish? From Wikipedia:
Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach and simmered for approximately three hours. Most modern commercial haggis is prepared in a sausage casing rather than an actual stomach.
On to outbreaks, first with Jiji Press:
Bird Flu Outbreak Confirmed in Okayama Pref.
An outbreak of highly pathogenic bird flu has been confirmed in the western Japan prefecture of Okayama, prefectural government officials said Thursday.
Chickens that died at a poultry farm in the city of Kasaoka tested positive for H5 subtype avian flu virus in a genetic test, the officials said.
This was the fourth case of highly pathogenic bird flu in Japan this winter, following two in the southwestern prefecture of Miyazaki and one in the western prefecture of Yamaguchi last month.
Closer to Casa esnl with the Associated Press:
6 more California measles cases tied to Disney outbreak
California health officials confirmed that six new measles cases are connected to an outbreak at Disney theme parks last month, bringing the total number of illnesses to 32.
The new cases include five in Los Angeles County and one in San Diego County. Craig Sturak with the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency said Thursday that the latest case in his area posed no threat of public exposure.
Officials were working to confirm additional possible cases in San Diego County after several people showed up to an urgent care clinic with measles symptoms. Sharp HealthCare spokesman Curtis Ippolito says the La Mesa clinic closed after patients arrived Wednesday morning with fevers and rashes. He declined to say how many people were involved or whether they were related.
Across the Atlantic with StarAfrica:
Cholera outbreak kills 20 in oil rich Rivers State of Nigeria
The outbreak of Cholera in 11 communities in the oil rich Rivers State in south-eastern Nigeria has claimed 20 lives, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Sampson Parker, has confirmed.
Parker told journalists in Port Harcourt on Wednesday after visiting the affected communities in Andoni Local Government Area that the outbreak was reported on January 5.
“So far, 171 cases have been recorded with 20 deaths in the outbreak which was reported on January 5. The Local Government Area Rapid Response Team with State Emergency Response Team, have responded swiftly,” he said.
From StarAfrica again, and even more troubling:
Rwanda faults imported bed nets for surge in malaria infections
For a country that has been acclaimed as a role model in the fight against malaria, Rwanda’s story has now somewhat become worrying.
Malaria skyrocketed by over 30 percent to one million cases in 2013, while the most affected, Kirehe District, reported more than 40, 000 cases in December last year, up from 37,812 in November.
According to the Rwandan Minister of Health, Agnes Binagwaho, the worrying situation is being blamed on sham mosquito bed nets imported from Netprotect – a Danish firm.
After conducting investigations, the government is now awaiting approval from its Justice Ministry to drag Netprotect to court for providing nets that did not serve their purpose.
On to China and another epidemic, via People’s Daily:
China reports over 100,000 new HIV/AIDS infections in 2014
China reported 104,000 new HIV/AIDS infections in 2014, up 14.8 percent from the previous year, the country’s central health authority revealed on Thursday.
Wang Guoqiang, vice head of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said that the overall rates of infection and number of HIV/AIDS cases have stayed at a low level.
China has provided anti-viral treatment for an additional 85,000 HIV/AIDS patients last year, an increase of 21.2 percent compared with 2013, Wang said at a national conference on disease control.
Wang said despite the low pandemic situation, the spread of the disease in certain areas is still high.
SciDev.Net covers anther outbreak:
Race is on to save banana from fungus wilt
A global plan to fight Fusarium wilt, a fungus spreading from Asia to Africa and the Middle East, is needed to prevent the world’s most popular banana variety from disappearing.
The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and 30 other organisations have estimated that a strategic global plan to contain the disease could cost US$47 million to implement.
The fungus, Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense Tropical Race 4, or TR4, is a destructive one that afflicted Asia for more than 20 years, affecting China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan, as well as northern Australia.
Its appearance in Mozambique in early 2013 raised the alarm of cross-continent spread, and sparked moves to devise the global plan, the main goals of which were discussed last month during a meeting in Rome where the FAO is based.
After the jump, avian climate change deaths in Mexico, deforestation threatens the world natural medicine wellsprings, on to the fracking front, with numbers from the Golden State and a fracking transformation of Ohio into an earthquake hot zone, Colombian farmers await a verdict in their BP pollution suit, then on to Fukushimapocalypse Now!, with a hot waste shipment delay, Japanese subsidies for faster reactor restarts, Fukushima fears haunt nuclear power politics in Seoul, China’s President Xi sees a golden nuclear power future, and an international nuke disaster compensation accord draws nigh. . . Continue reading