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Bizarro Earth

US: Earthquake Magnitude 3.0 - Northern Arizona

Image
© USGS
Date-Time:
Friday, September 04, 2009 at 06:01:01 UTC

Thursday, September 03, 2009 at 11:01:01 PM at epicenter

Location:
36.979°N, 112.400°W

Depth:
17 km (10.6 miles)

Distances:
11 km (7 miles) ENE (73°) from Fredonia, AZ

13 km (8 miles) ESE (118°) from Kanab, UT

25 km (16 miles) ENE (73°) from Kaibab, AZ

151 km (94 miles) E (82°) from Mesquite, NV

267 km (166 miles) ENE (70°) from Las Vegas, NV

Bizarro Earth

US: Earthquake Magnitude 4.0 - Central Coast of California

Image
© USGS
Date-Time:
Sunday, September 06, 2009 at 03:20:55 UTC

Saturday, September 05, 2009 at 08:20:55 PM at epicenter

Location:
35.559°N, 120.800°W

Depth:
5 km (3.1 miles)

Distances:
8 km (5 miles) W (274°) from Templeton, CA

13 km (8 miles) SW (236°) from Paso Robles, CA

14 km (9 miles) NW (306°) from Atascadero, CA

221 km (137 miles) SSE (153°) from San Jose City Hall, CA

Bizarro Earth

Earthquake Magnitude 5.8 - Southern Peru

Image
© USGS
Date-Time:
Saturday, September 05, 2009 at 03:58:39 UTC

Friday, September 04, 2009 at 10:58:39 PM at epicenter

Location:
15.094°S, 70.238°W

Depth:
211.5 km (131.4 miles) set by location program

Distances:
45 km (25 miles) NNW of Juliaca, Peru

200 km (125 miles) NE of Arequipa, Peru

245 km (150 miles) NNE of Moquegua, Peru

810 km (500 miles) ESE of LIMA, Peru

Red Flag

Poison Plants?

Image
© World Wildlife Fund, Canada Endangered Monarchs
Scientists say the larvae of these butterflies die when they eat milkweed leaves onto which pollen from genetically modified corn has drifted.
Genetically modified crops, grown over much of the U.S., remain controversial

It looks just like a midwestern corn field is supposed to look this time of year; lush and richly green, stretching to the horizon. Maybe even a little bit better--there seems to be less pest damage to the leaves, and fewer weeds grow between the rows. The same is true for the fields of soybeans and the potatoes growing in Idaho.

Yet appearances can be deceiving. Indeed, there are quite a few people who would like to rip these super-ordinary looking plants out by their roots. These crops, being embraced by big agriculture in the U.S., carry genes that imbue them with resistance to herbicides and lace their tissues with a bacterial toxin harmless to humans but fatal to pests that may try to feed on them. For corporate farmers, the promise of such genetically modified crops seems clear--higher yields, superior quality, better nutrition and less need for spraying highly toxic and expensive pesticides.

Bug

Crazy Ants Get Under Skin of Gulf Coast Residents

Eric Kayne for The Wall Street Journal

Crazy ants" swarm exterminator Tom Rasberry's hands in a Pearland, Texas, field with a heavy infestation.
Pearland, Texas -- Swarms of foreign "crazy ants" are spreading through Texas and Florida, raising alarms that the tiny, frenetic bugs will rival the fire ants that have ravaged the South, costing billions of dollars in damages each year.

Although the new pests don't pack the powerful sting of fire ants, scientists say they can do as much damage, killing wildlife and shorting out electrical equipment. Crazy ants have an additional trait that is proving especially irksome: They like to hang out where people live and are difficult to dislodge once they get inside buildings.

Called crazy ants because they scramble in all directions rather than trudging along a straight track, the ants carpet the ground and swarm over anything in their way -- plants, animals or humans. Scientists think the ants originated in the Caribbean.

Better Earth

Hmm...World's climate could cool first, warm later

Forecasts of climate change are about to go seriously out of kilter. One of the world's top climate modellers said Thursday we could be about to enter "one or even two decades during which temperatures cool.

"People will say this is global warming disappearing," he told more than 1500 of the world's top climate scientists gathering in Geneva at the UN's World Climate Conference.

"I am not one of the sceptics," insisted Mojib Latif of the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University, Germany. "However, we have to ask the nasty questions ourselves or other people will do it."

Few climate scientists go as far as Latif, an author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But more and more agree that the short-term prognosis for climate change is much less certain than once thought.

Comment: For an in-depth reading, see Fire and Ice: The Day After Tomorrow


Attention

Global starvation imminent as US faces crop failure

hungry and homeless
© Unknown
The world faces "mass starvation" following North America's next major crop failure. And it could even happen before year's end. So says Chicago-based Don Coxe, who is one of the world's leading experts on agricultural commodities, so much so that Canada's renowned BMO Financial Group named the fund after him.

Climate change will cause shorter crop growing seasons and the world's under-developed farming sector is ill-prepared to make up for the shortfall, Coxe says. He has been following the farming industry for many years and benefits from more than 35 years of institutional investment experience in Canada and the U.S. This includes managing the best-performing mutual fund in the U.S., Harris Investment Management, as recently as 2005.

Comment: The constant refrain to India and China's "exploding population" in this article attributes blame to their voracious appetites. This racial undertone was similarly expressed by Germany's Angela Merkel last year:
Bad agricultural policies and changing eating habits in developing nations are primarily to blame for rising food prices, not biofuel production as some critics claim, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday...

But Merkel, whose country is Europe's largest biofuel producer, said the rise in food prices was not mainly due to biofuels but to "inadequate agricultural policies in developing countries" as well as "insufficient forecasts of changes in nutritional habits" in emerging markets.

"If you travel to India these days, then a main part of the debate is about the 'second meal'," Merkel said.

"People are eating twice a day, and if a third of one billion people in India do that, it adds up to 300 million people. That's a large part of the European Union," she said.

"And if they suddenly consume twice as much food as before and if 100 million Chinese start drinking milk too, then of course our milk quotas become skewed, and much else too," she said referring to EU limits on dairy production....
The reality is that most of the world's starving people are in Asia. Most of the world's largest consumers are in the West, from where corporations backed by military force are hoarding what remains of arable land in the poorest countries. The 'food rush' is exaccerbating an already precarious situation as cooling temperatures threaten shorter growing seasons.


Cloud Lightning

Irish priests pray for sun as deluge brings farmers to their knees

Image
© Unknown
Firemen pumping water from outside a pub in Athea, Co Limerick yesterday.
A heartfelt plea is being sent up to a higher power on behalf of stricken farmers.

After a miserable summer of record-breaking rainfall, farm families are facing massive financial losses -- as they struggle to salvage this year's crops.

The dire situation has caused the Bishop of Ferns, Dr Denis Brennan, to intervene -- by calling on all priests in his diocese to pray for fine weather to keep farmers afloat.

The heavy rainfall, meanwhile, put emergency services on standby as flooding struck many parts of the country, with Limerick and Kerry among the worst-hit counties.

A number of festivals and events have also fallen victim to the deluges, including racing at Killarney and animal welfare group the ISPCA's annual festival.

X

Java quake toll hits 46, dozens trapped

Image
© Unknown
The death toll from Wednesday's 7.3 magnitude tremor in Indonesia's Java island has hit 46 while many others remain trapped under debris.

In Cianjur district south of the capital Jakarta, rescue workers, joined by police and army, are searching for people buried under the rubble, digging them out manually with hoes, while authorities hope to bring in the heavy machinery soon.

"There are 46 people dead (across Java) and about 42 are still buried in Cianjur. Their chances of surviving are slim," disaster management agency spokesman Priyadi Kardono told AFP.

In the village of Cikangkareng, the earthquake caused landslides burying a dozen houses some 20 meters under.

Bizarro Earth

Strongest Storms Each Year This Decade: 2008, Super Typhoon Jangmi

Image
© Robert Simmon and Jesse Allen, based on MODIS data
Cyclone Nargis, which killed tens of thousands of people when it struck Burma (Myanmar) in May, was more devastating, but the title of "strongest storm of 2008" goes to Super Typhoon Jangmi, shown in this image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite from September 27, 2008. The image comes from the Earth Observatory's new World of Change: Severe Storms feature, a collection of images of the strongest storm each year from the past decade.

Seen from space, even a super typhoon seems more beautiful than dangerous. The 50-kilometer-wide eye of Jangmi is encircled by a smooth disk of clouds. Bands of clouds swirl gracefully into the low-pressure heart of the storm. The smooth cloud band north of the eye is studded with thunderstorms.