Earth ChangesS


The Great Biofuel Hoax

Biofuels invoke an image of renewable abundance that allows industry, politicians, the World Bank, the United Nations and even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to present fuel from corn, sugarcane, soy and other crops as a replacement for oil that will bring about a smooth transition to a renewablefuel economy.

Myths of abundance divert attention from powerful economic interests that benefit from this biofuels transition, avoiding discussion of the growing price that citizens of the global South are beginning to pay to maintain the consumptive oil-based lifestyle of the North. Biofuel mania obscures the profound consequences of the industrial transformation of our food and fuel systems -- the agro-fuels transition.


Two swans die from bird flu in Bavaria

Two swans have died from the deadly strain of bird flu in Bavaria, Germany, the press service of the European Commission said Monday.

The press service said German authorities had informed the European Commission that tests in Bavaria had revealed the H5N1 virus in the birds' bodies.

Cloud Lightning

Stricken Pakistan braces for possible cyclone

Pakistan evacuated thousands of people from southern coastal areas ahead of a possible cyclone, two days after a storm killed at least 235 people in the port city of Karachi, officials said.

The meteorological department issued an alert saying that a tropical storm forming in the Arabian Sea 150 kilometres (90 miles) south of Karachi was likely to intensify into a cyclone in the next six to 12 hours.


Captive Indian crocodiles turn protectors

Dozens of crocodiles bred in captivity in eastern India have been enlisted to protect their endangered counterparts in the wild and are being released in forests to scare away poachers, authorities said on Monday.

Illegal fishing in mangrove forests and habitat destruction in the states of Orissa and West Bengal had led to a steep fall in crocodile numbers, from several thousand a century ago to less than 100 in the early 1970s, they said.

But the same reptiles were breeding rapidly in captivity. Orissa's Bhitarkanika sanctuary has more than 1,400 crocodiles now.

"The swelling number of released crocodiles in the wild is working as a deterrent and keeping people away from the mangrove as villagers are more cautious before venturing into the forests," said Rathin Banerjee, a senior wildlife official.

Red Flag

Wildfires ravage Lake Tahoe homes

MEYERS, California - A wind-whipped forest fire in the popular resort area of Lake Tahoe destroyed 50 homes Sunday and threatened 500 others, a U.S. Forest Service official said. No injuries were reported.

Cloud Lightning

Torrential rain leaves four dead, displaces 20,000 in China

At least four people died, two were missing and over 20,000 displaced due to landslides and floods triggered by torrential rain in Yichang city in central China's Hubei Province. Incessant rains have hit Yichang, southern Hubei, since June 17.

By Saturday, the area had reported 167 millimetres of rain, a local official said. Around 450,000 people in 71 townships have been affected and nearly 8,000 houses have been damaged or even destroyed, Xinhua news agency reported, adding that rural roads, bridges and dams have been hit. Over 1,16,127 acres of farmland has also been affected.

Bizarro Earth

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declares drought emergency in Kings County

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Saturday declared a state of emergency in Kings County due to drought conditions.

The Kings County Board of Supervisors has asked for emergency status, citing low water tables, limited precipitation and reporting at least $1.2 million in crop damages due to drought conditions.

On May 9, Kings County received a drought designation from the United States Department of Agriculture.


New Orleans Still At Risk Of Serious Flooding

New Orleans is still at risk of serious flooding two years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city, a government report has found. While the levees and floodwalls that collapsed under Katrina's storm surge have been repaired, authorities have not yet raised the height of levees that were overtopped by the floodwaters.

That means that the risk of flooding in many neighborhoods remains virtually unchanged, said a report prepared by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency that oversees the country's flood control projects.

Light Sabers

41 Seal Pups Die of Distemper in Denmark

An outbreak of distemper has been killing seal pups off the coast of Denmark, authorities said Saturday, warning that thousands of seals could die if the disease spreads to other northern European countries.

Since Tuesday, at least 41 harbor seal pups have been found dead on the small island of Anholt, midway between Denmark and Sweden, and tests indicate distemper, according to The Danish Forest and Nature Agency. The government agency normally finds around 30 dead seals a year.

"There is therefore reason to fear that we will see a large number of dead seals on Danish beaches in coming months," said Henrik Lykke Soerensen, an agency spokesman.

The agency said it would kill dying seals found on the shores of the island to try to prevent the spread of the disease, which does not affect humans.

The disease causes respiratory problems, fever and sometimes disorientation, while leaving the animal's immune system weakened and susceptible to other diseases, such as pneumonia.

Lykke Soerensen said it was still unclear which strain of virus authorities were dealing with, but that the agency was expecting to identify it in the next few days.


Heat wave in Bulgarian capital sends 27 people to hospital beds

Dozens of people turned for medical aid and another twenty-seven were hospitalized after receiving a thermal shock in the Bulgarian capital Sofia Saturday, as temperatures in many places in this country struck record highs.

Saturday became the hottest day over the past 100 years here, with temperatures climbing to over 40 degrees Celsius in Sofia, Blagoevgrad, Plovdiv, Veliko Tyrnovo, Varna and Vidin.