Robber fly - Nature photographer Thomas Shahan specializes in amazing portraits of tiny insects. It isn't easy. Shahan says that this Robber Fly (Holcocephala fusca), for instance, is "skittish" and doesn't like its picture taken.

Eye-popping bug photos

Nature by Numbers (Video)

"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
"The Quantum Factor" – Apr 10, 2011 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Galaxies, Universe, Intelligent design, Benevolent design, Aliens, Nikola Tesla (Quantum energy), Inter-Planetary Travel, DNA, Genes, Stem Cells, Cells, Rejuvenation, Shift of Human Consciousness, Spontaneous Remission, Religion, Dictators, Africa, China, Nuclear Power, Sustainable Development, Animals, Global Unity.. etc.) - (Text Version)

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."

(Live Kryon Channelings was given 7 times within the United Nations building.)

"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)

"Recalibration of Free Choice"– Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) - (Subjects: (Old) Souls, Midpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth, 4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical) 8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) - (Text version)

“… 4 - Energy (again)

The natural resources of the planet are finite and will not support the continuation of what you've been doing. We've been saying this for a decade. Watch for increased science and increased funding for alternate ways of creating electricity (finally). Watch for the very companies who have the most to lose being the ones who fund it. It is the beginning of a full realization that a change of thinking is at hand. You can take things from Gaia that are energy, instead of physical resources. We speak yet again about geothermal, about tidal, about wind. Again, we plead with you not to over-engineer this. For one of the things that Human Beings do in a technological age is to over-engineer simple things. Look at nuclear - the most over-engineered and expensive steam engine in existence!

Your current ideas of capturing energy from tidal and wave motion don't have to be technical marvels. Think paddle wheel on a pier with waves, which will create energy in both directions [waves coming and going] tied to a generator that can power dozens of neighborhoods, not full cities. Think simple and decentralize the idea of utilities. The same goes for wind and geothermal. Think of utilities for groups of homes in a cluster. You won't have a grid failure if there is no grid. This is the way of the future, and you'll be more inclined to have it sooner than later if you do this, and it won't cost as much….”

"Fast-Tracking" - Feb 8, 2014 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Reference to Fukushima / H-bomb nuclear pollution and a warning about nuclear > 20 Min)

Obama unveils landmark regulations to combat climate change

Obama unveils landmark regulations to combat climate change
In a bid to combat climate change, US President Barack Obama announced the Clean Power Plan on Monday, marking the first time power plants have been targeted by mandatory regulations on carbon dioxide emissions in the US.
Google: Earthday 2013

Sunday, May 30, 2010

BP's oil spill is an ecological disaster, by DR. REESE HALTER, 05/28/2010 11:24:43 PM PDT

I've been covering the Gulf oil spill for more than a month. And recently, during a national television interview I said, "BP's Gulf oil spill is a global ecological disaster."

In order to understand this, consider the following:

A vast amount of oil one mile beneath the surface has bled since April 20 into the Gulf of Mexico. According to BP, it's about 200,000 gallons a day; researchers at Florida State University estimated about two weeks ago it was at least 1 million gallons a day, and even more recently engineers from Purdue University predicted it's probably closer to 2.5 million gallons a day.

The ominous plumes of oil venting from this pipe at the equivalent of 152 atmospheric pressures — one mile beneath the surface — are behaving unlike any other oil spill ever observed before. That is, oil is rising to the surface and in some cases sinking. Just how deep, so far, remains unclear.

Allowing the plumes to naturally disperse has many consequences. Microbes that eat oil require oxygen and they suck it out of the sea, creating oxygen depletion zones. Crude that washes onshore is deleterious to all life, so thousands of miles of booms have been deployed to prevent it from landing.

In an attempt to break up these massive slicks of oil, BP has used more than 700,000 gallons of Corexit oil dispersant, more than 55,000 gallons deployed near the leak sites. Dispersant has never been used so deep in the ocean before.

So what is a dispersant? They are molecules that look like a snake; the head likes water and the tail likes oil. Dispersant pulls the oil into the water in the form of tiny droplets. Essentially, the dispersant increases the surface area, spreading smaller droplets that contain more toxic components of oil throughout the marine ecosystem.

Oil contains a suite of toxic chemicals including known carcinogens called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

The dispersant increases the exposure to oil by creatures that live in surface water or feed at the surface, including algae, billions of fish eggs, jellyfish and whale sharks; or those that live on the sea floor like sea squirts, shrimp, blue crabs, lobsters and oysters. The oil droplets look like food, the same size as algae to the filter feeders such as oysters. These droplets can also clog up fish gills.

There were a lot of lessons learned from the Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William Sound in Alaska in 1989. One form of dispersant Corexit was used there too. Nineteen months after that spill, the dispersant was not only evident in the marine ecosystem, but mussels were still poisoned. And the effects of spreading the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were far and wide as they caused developing hearts of Pacific herring and salmon to fail.

People exposed to Corexit suffered a number of long-term respiratory and other serious ailments.

Research from Israel in 2007 clearly showed that dispersant kills coral reefs and significantly retards regrowth.

Florida is the only state in continental United States to have extensive (about 6,000) shallow coral reefs near its coasts, and most are located in the Florida Keys.

These reefs range in age between 5,000 and 7,000 years old, and they are the third largest coral reef formation on Earth.

Surrounding the corals are extensive beds of sea grasses. Between the reefs and the sea grasses are more than 500 species of fish, spiny lobsters, snow crabs, Caribbean manatees, American crocodiles, leatherback, loggerhead, Kemp's ridley and green sea turtles.

Coral reefs have been likened to the Amazon rainforest because of the rich array of life-forms.

Potent medicines come from the coral reefs. Philippine cone snails are 100 times stronger than morphine. Prialt, the blockbuster drug, comes from them. Soft corals from northwest Australia are the most efficacious cancer compounds ever found. Caribbean sea squirt is used to treat melanoma and breast cancers. Sponges from Florida Keys have been used to treat leukemia since 1969. And research from sponges led scientists to develop the blockbuster AIDS drug AZT.

Ocean-derived pharmaceuticals are so important that Merck, Lilly, Pfizer, Hoffman-Roche and Bristol Myers Squibb have all established marine biology divisions.

Worldwide, coral reefs are our grandchildren's legacy.

Some of the dispersants and oil have entered the Loop Current — a powerful conveyor belt that carries the warm Gulf water through the Straits of Florida. It contains 80 times the volume of water of all rivers combined on Earth.

It then joins the Gulf Stream Current, which barrels past Miami carrying one billion cubic feet of water every second. As it passes Georgia and then South Carolina it triples its volume, and once it reaches Cape Hatteras, N.C. it heads out into the Atlantic toward the only open sea on the globe, the warm Saragossa Sea.

Eventually, the Gulf Stream becomes the North Atlantic Current, destined for Western Europe where its fan-like tendrils become the Norwegian Current.

The moment the dispersant and/or oil enter the Atlantic, our oil spill becomes global.

The solution to pollution is not dilution. Each time we lose one species, we impoverish our planet. Spreading cancer-causing poisons throughout a marine ecosystem from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean is not acceptable, especially since these lessons were learned at the expense of Prince William Sound and the Pacific Ocean.

Dr. Reese Halter is a conservation biologist at Cal Lutheran University. Contact him through

Related Articles:

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The Arctic After the Gulf

BP uncertain about success of latest oil operation

Effort to Plug Well Faces Another Setback

'We Have Nothing to Hide,' Oil Dispersant Maker Says

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Volcanic eruptions close airports in Ecuador, Guatemala 2010-05-29 13:06:59

Ecuador evacuates thousands of people, closes airports due to volcanic eruption

The volcano known as Tungurahua spews ash and rock during an eruption in Banos, some 170km south west from Quito, May 28, 2010. Ecuadorean villagers fled their homes after the Andean nation's "Throat of Fire" volcano erupted on Friday, spewing columns of ash that forced officials to reroute some flights, authorities said. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

QUITO, May 28 (Xinhua) -- Ecuadorian authorities on Friday closed the airport in the country's largest and most populated city Guayaquil and ordered the evacuation of thousands of residents due to a volcanic eruption in the South American country.

Earlier, the General Direction of Civil Aviation (DAC) halted the domestic flight between Quito and Cuenca and the international flight between Lima and Quito due to the ash emission of the Tungurahua Volcano.

The DAC said in a statement that the airports were closed for operational security, but there are alternative routes for the planes to take off or land without problem. Full story

Guatemala closes airport for volcanic eruption

Volcanic ash blankets the airport in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on Friday. Pacaya volcano erupted on May 27 killing journalist Anibal Archila who was reporting for local news Noti7. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

GUATEMALA CITY, May 28 (Xinhua) -- The international airport of La Aurora in Guatemala City was closed due to the increase of the Pacaya Volcano's eruption, the Civil Aviation Direction said on Friday.

The volcanic ash totally covered the roads, the ramps and the hangars, with a thickness of two centimeters. Full story

At least 1 killed, 3 missing in Guatemala volcanic eruptions

GUATEMALA CITY, May 28 (Xinhua) -- The eruption of Pacaya Volcano left one person dead, 59 injured and three others missing, said Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom on Friday.

The volcano, located in San Vicente Pacaya town, some 45 km south of Guatemalan capital Guatemala City, threw up on Thursday night gases, ashes and incandescent rocks in the biggest eruption in the country in 12 years, the president told a press conference. Full story

A sinkhole that swallowed a three-storey building in Guatemala City has been blamed on a combination of Tropical Storm Agatha and poor drainage systems Photograph: Luis Echeverria/AP

Related Articles:

6.1 magnitude quake in Costa Rica: seismologists

Tropical Storm Agatha blows a hole in Guatemala City

Deadly storm strikes volcano-hit Guatemala

Thousands flee volcanos in Ecuador and Guatemala

2 Volcanoes Erupt in the Americas

Man and volcano

Friday, May 28, 2010

Major Earthquake to hit Greece, if you can believe the frogs

Fromtheold, Friday, May 28, 2010

Common toads sense danger

Athens, Greece - Millions of frogs flooded Greece yesterday, specifically Athens. Traffic was disrupted, chaos caused. Eye witnesses claimed it looked like a "carpet of frogs"

It is a well known fact that when frogs flood an area then there is a major earthquake on the way, at least that is what history shows us. Last year in Italy frogs started to gather days before a major earthquake hit Italy and killed almost 300 people.

In 2008 frogs also predicted a major earthquake when they moved in the millions, a few days later parts of China experienced a massive earthquake that killed more than 10 000 people.

Studies found that frogs do indeed "predict" earthquakes. In 2009 when the earthquake hit Italy biologist Dr Rachel Grant of the Open University, in Milton Keynes, UK studied the frogs in the area just before the earthquake hit and found that the toads fled to places of safety where they wont be washed away by floods or be injured by falling trees and other dangers.

So does this mean a earthquake is about to hit Greece?

Rich countries pledge $4B to stop deforestation


Britain's Prince Charles , the Prince of Wales, together with environmental activist and Nobel Price winner Wangari Maatha, at the International conference on climate and deforestation is held in Oslo, Wednesday, May 26 2010. (AP Photo / Gorm Kallestad / SCANPIX Norway)

OSLO, Norway — Developed nations pledged more than $4 billion Thursday to finance a program meant to help poor countries protect their forests and slow global warming.

An agency monitoring the aid will be up and running before U.N. climate talks start in Cancun, Mexico, later this year, the European Union's climate commissioner said at a conference on deforestation in Oslo.

Also, Indonesia agreed to a two-year moratorium on issuing new permits for forest destruction as part of a $1 billion deal with Norway that would pay Indonesia a fixed sum per ton of CO2 emissions reduced through rain forest preservation. Norway has had a similar deal with Brazil since the mid-1990s.

Deforestation, the burning of woodlands or the rotting of felled trees, is thought to account for up to 20 percent of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere — as much as is emitted by all the world's cars, trucks, trains, planes and ships combined.

The new program — called REDD Plus, for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation — will encourage rich nations to voluntarily finance forest-protecting projects while coordinating that aid to avoid waste and ensure transparency.

It was approved — but not implemented — at the U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December.

In Oslo, Germany, France, Norway, the U.S., Britain, Australia and Japan pledged $4 billion to finance REDD Plus through 2012, with Denmark and Sweden adding $73 million more to the effort on Thursday.

The new monitoring agency would oversee individual agreements between countries to fight deforestation and educate local populations who live off forests — estimated at more than 1 billion worldwide — to do so in a sustainable way.

EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said the new agency, and a comprehensive database that will help streamline aid combating deforestation, were tangible results that would build momentum in climate talks ahead of the Cancun summit.

Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the new agency would "decrease a trust deficit" that has stymied progress in wider climate talks, as wealthy countries express concern about how aid money is used in poor nations.

"Forests are worth more dead than alive. Today we commit to change that equation," said Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who was co-chairing the conference with the Indonesia president.

A political agreement at the U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen last year called for warming to be kept from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by 2020 — which scientists say could trigger a climate catastrophe. But the Copenhagen conference disappointed many in failing to produce a legally binding deal for countries to limit emissions.

Thursday's meeting was the last on REDD Plus planned before Cancun, with work now starting on establishing the agency's infrastructure.

Britain's Prince Charles agreed that transparency was key in brokering a binding global climate agreement.

"In this period of increased stringency, governments will need to know that every dollar made available will be spent wisely in order to avoid any unnecessary duplication," he said in a speech.

While the $4 billion is only two-thirds of the $6 billion Brazilian Environment Minister Carlos Minc said he hoped would be in place by the Oslo conference, environmentalists said it was a good start for the fledgling program.

"For early phases, the kind of money we're talking about is probably sufficient," said Mark Tercek, the head of U.S. conservation group the Nature Conservancy.

Greenpeace welcomed the pledges of financing but warned that it remains unclear how the funds will be spent.

The funding so far comes exclusively from government budgets, and Stoltenberg called for "voluntary contributions" from private sector and industry players. He also said that ultimately "the most important source of money will be carbon pricing" — from carbon trading and carbon taxation schemes.

About 32 million acres (13 million hectares) of forests are cut down each year — an area about the size of England or New York state — and the emissions generated are comparable to those of China and the United States, according to the independent U.K. Eliasch Review on forest loss.

Associated Press writers Malin Rising in Stockholm and Jan Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.

President of Indonesia, Susilo Yudhoyono, speaks during Oslo Climate and Forest Conference in Oslo, Norway, Thursday May 27, 2010. (AP Photo/Hakon Mosvold Larsen, Scanpix)

Related Articles:

Govt to involve local communities in Redd+ program

New agency to curb deforestation ready by December

Indonesia sends team to Brazil for Redd+ program

Saving forests to maintain biodiversity

Indonesia, Norway to Sign $1b Forestry Deal

Indonesia Agrees to 2-Year Freeze on Forest Concessions in $1b Deal

President: Indonesia serious about managing its forests

Thursday, May 27, 2010

US calls for worldwide transparency on measures for combating climate change

International Business Times, May 27, 2010 16:43 AEST

The US climate change representative said Wednesday that all countries must adopt transparency and accept external reviews of their greenhouse emissions, leaving note that global cooperation is very important to ensure that the worldwide campaign for carbon intensity reduction is heading to the right direction.

Speaking before an audience in Beijing's Tsinghua University, US envoy Todd Stern said that the United States treats the issue of transparency with so much importance, stressing that "countries need to be able to see what track the world is on generally, where we are going."

Mr Stern, who headed the US delegation at the Copenhagen climate conference last December, said that countries around the world must open up in order to properly keep track greenhouse gases inventories.

He is quick to add though that every state must in turn enjoy the confidence that other countries were actually giving their best effort in meeting their respective climate change goals.

At present, China and the United States top the list as major greenhouse gas emitters which have been largely blamed for the worsening global warming.

Beijing has earlier rejected calls to accept outside reviews on its efforts to control emissions but has pledged to slash its carbon intensity, which is the measure of emissions per unit of GDP, by up to 45 percent by 2020 and based on 2005 levels.

Critics, however, are lamenting that the Chinese plan would hardly make a dent on cutting gas emissions levels and the country's carbon intensity should continue its climb up if the plan pledged by Beijing would not be revised.

About 190 countries are discussing ways to establish a treaty that would replace the Kyoto Protocol to effectively combat climate change as the United Nations (UN) agreed to host a new round of climate talks in November at Cancun, Mexico.

UN scientists have been issuing warnings that the creeping climate change, allegedly accelerated by worldwide industrial activities, must be dealt with immediately to arrest the onset of growing disasters that could potentially wipe out entire species.

RI committed to rainforests protection despite financial constraints

Aditya Suharmoko, The Jakarta Post, Oslo | Thu, 05/27/2010 4:06 PM

Climate talks: Indonesian President Susilo Yudhoyono (left) and Norway's Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg speak at press conference during the Oslo Climate and Forest Conference in Oslo, Norway, Thursday. The conference was attended by 50 heads of state and environment ministers. –AP/Hakon Mosvold Larsen

Cash-strapped Indonesia remains committed to protection of its rainforests as part of the global initiative to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) Plus scheme, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono says.

"Working with our developed country partners, we will protect Indonesia’s globally significant carbon- and biodiversity-rich tropical rainforests while helping local populations become more prosperous," Yudhoyono said Thursday in a speech during the opening session of the Oslo Climate and Forest Conference at Holmenkollen Park Hotel Rica in the surrounding hills of Oslo.

The President's statement affirmed his pledge on Wednesday night that Indonesia "would conduct a moratorium for two years where we stop the conversion of peat land and of forests" during a historical agreement signing with Norway, which provides a US$1 billion grant for Indonesia in phases to protect the Southeast Asian nation's forests.

Yudhoyono also said Indonesia would preserve its forests "with or without international help".

But having financial limitations, Yudhoyono expected the REDD Plus scheme to be pushed forward.

"Cancun (meeting in Mexico) must produce a robust and workable decision. In this regard, a decision on REDD Plus could bring about the immediate action that we need to take," he said in the speech.

Indonesia still has a 14.15 percent poverty rate of about 230 million people in population, based on latest data released by the Central Statistics Agency.

In Indonesia, forest areas of a size equaling 300 soccer fields vanish every hour, according to Greenpeace.

Norway's Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said based on a March's international conference in Paris about 54 countries agreed to provide $4 billion in commitment to take necessary actions to protect the world's largest rainforests located in Brazil and Indonesia, which function as global "lungs" to transform carbon dioxide into oxygen.

"In today's market forests are more worth dead than alive. We want to change that ... There will be more (incentives) in leaving (them) than cut," he said.

He added that all developing countries should be in the driver's seat to reach the global goals with the help of multilateral institutions like the United Nations and the World Bank.

In his speech at the same forum, Britain’s Prince Charles said the time available to turn the words into actions was "running out". He also praised the agreement signed by Indonesia and Norway.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said he would look forward to a successful outcome in the next meeting in Cancun.

Related Articles:

Govt to involve local communities in Redd+ program

New agency to curb deforestation ready by December

Indonesia sends team to Brazil for Redd+ program

Saving forests to maintain biodiversity

Indonesia, Norway to Sign $1b Forestry Deal

Indonesia Agrees to 2-Year Freeze on Forest Concessions in $1b Deal

President: Indonesia serious about managing its forests

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Everest sherpa: Global warming makes climbing hard

The Jakarta Post, Binaj Gurubacharya, Associated Press, Katmandu, Nepal | Tue, 05/25/2010 2:54 PM

A Nepalese Sherpa who climbed Mount Everest for a record 20th time said Tuesday that the melting of glacier ice along its slopes due to global warming is making it increasingly difficult to climb the peak.

"The rising temperature on the mountains has melted much ice and snow on the trail to the summit. It is difficult for climbers to use their crampons on the rocky surfaces," Apa told reporters after flying to Katmandu on Tuesday.

Apa, who uses only one name, reached the 29,035-foot (8,850-meter) summit on Saturday for the 20th time, beating his own previous record.

The 49-year-old first climbed Everest in 1989 and has repeated the feat almost every year since. His closest rival is fellow Sherpa guide Chhewang Nima, who has made 16 trips to the summit.

Apa said when he first began climbing Everest, there was hardly any rocky surface on the trail to the summit. Now, he says, the trail is dotted with bare rocks.

The melting ice has also exposed deep crevasses, making it dangerous for climbers.

Apa has been campaigning on global warming's negative effect on the Himalayan peaks for the past three years. In a separate environmental campaign to clean up the mountain, his Eco-Everest Expedition team has been collecting garbage from the slopes of Everest. This year the team collected 7,630 pounds (4,770 kilograms) of garbage.

Apa grew up in the foothills of Everest and began carrying equipment and supplies for trekkers and mountaineers at age 12. He moved to the United States in 2006 and lives in the Salt Lake City suburb of Draper.

Sherpas were mostly yak herders and traders living in the Himalayas until Nepal opened its borders to tourists in 1950. Their stamina and knowledge of the mountains makes them expert guides and porters.

A total of 233 climbers in 25 expedition teams from various nations have been permitted by the Nepalese government to climb Everest during the spring season from the southern face of the peak.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

New species celebrated amid warnings of biodiversity loss

CNN, May 22, 2010 -- Updated 1643 GMT (0043 HKT)

(histiophryne psychedelica) Psychedelic Frogfish: It has an unusual psychedelic pattern and is unique frogfishes for its flat face.


  • Top 10 new species list includes frogfish, golden orb spider, bug-eating slugs
  • Coincides with International Day of Biodiversity being marked in 11 countries
  • United Nations says not enough is being done to reduce rate of biodiversity loss
  • UNEP report found animal populations have dropped 30 percent since 1970


(CNN) -- A flat-faced frogfish, bug-eating slug and carnivorous sea sponge are some of the top new species named by scientists.

They appear on a "top 10" list of new species released Saturday amid warnings from the United Nations that the world is not doing enough to protect vulnerable eco-systems.

"Biodiversity loss is moving ecological systems ever closer to tipping point beyond which they will no longer be able to fulfill their vital functions," said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the International Day for Biological Diversity, which is being marked in 11 countries.

A report released in late April by researchers from the United Nations Environment Program showed that world leaders had failed on a 2002 commitment to reduce the global rate of biodiversity loss by 2010.

It found that since 1970 animal populations had dropped 30 percent, the area covered by mangroves and sea grasses was down 20 percent and the coverage of living corals had fallen 40 percent.

"The deadline has arrived, yet the deterioration of our natural resources continues apace," the secretary-general said in a statement.

He warned that communities everywhere would "reap the negative consequences," but that the "poorest people and most vulnerable communities will suffer most."

A number of events were held around the world Saturday to mark the International Day of Biodiversity. A garden was created along Paris' Champs-Elysees, children in Brazil were encouraged to dress up as animals, and the European Environment Agency unveiled a "living wall" at its headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The release of a top 10 list species for 2009 continues an annual tradition that marks the anniversary of the birth of Carolus Linnaeus, who initiated the modern system of classifying plants and animals.

The new list, issued by the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University, was chosen from 18,225 species new to science in 2008, the most recent year for which data has been compiled. They come from Africa, Indonesia, Madagascar, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand, the U.S. and Uruguay.

The new discoveries include a golden orb spider able to spin webs of more than a meter in diameter. It is the first of its species named since 1879.

A minnow with fangs found in Myanmar is the first example of oral teeth-like structure found in the largest family of freshwater fishes. And, the sea slug that eats bugs was an unusual find in Pak Phanang Bay in the Gulf of Thailand as nearly all sacoglossans, or sea slugs, eat algae.

"Most people do not realize just how incomplete our knowledge of Earth's species is or the steady rate at which taxonomists are exploring that diversity," said Quentin Wheeler, director of the International Institute of Species Exploration.

As US Drowns in Oil, German Architects Harvest Sun and Wind

Jakarta Globe, James S Russell, May 21, 2010

The translucent exterior wrapping of Unilever’s headquarters in Hamburg cuts wind gusts so occupants can naturally ventilate their offices.  (Bloomberg Photo/Adam Mork)

At the edge of the Elbe River in Hamburg, Germany, I approached a seven-story building that appeared to be covered in bubble wrap stretched tight by cables and turnbuckles.

As a great oil slick spreads over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening expanded coastal oil drilling, Germany’s approach to conservation and renewable energy urgently deserves a closer look.

The eye-catching building is the headquarters for the Swiss, German and Austrian operations of Unilever, the world’s second-largest consumer-goods company after Procter & Gamble.

Architect Stefan Behnisch, of Behnisch Architekten in Stuttgart, borrowed from sailboat technology as one way to replace mechanical heating and cooling with natural ventilation. His next step was to replace electric lights with daylight.

The Unilever project embodies Germany’s keen focus on conservation and renewable energy.

Unilever’s transparent wrapping is called ETFE, and the yacht hardware holds it in place about a meter outside the building’s glass exterior. It cuts the chill North Sea winds so that windows can be opened for ventilation, rather than relying on air-conditioning. It also protects external blinds that moderate heat and glare.

Inside, the offices wrap around an atrium crisscrossed by bridges and stairways, and lined with balconies where marketers and product managers drink coffee while plotting world domination for Wisk.

The area’s big hula-hoop light fixtures are hardly needed since the sun beams through angled skylights overhead. Those fixtures use LEDs, the low-energy light source that is fast vanquishing those dingy compact fluorescents Americans are exhorted to use. As the heat of people and machines warms the air, it flows naturally into the atrium and up through heat-recovery devices that harvest the warmth and send it back into the building where needed.

The Unilever building requires almost no conventional heating and cooling, which lowers its energy use to 100 kilowatt hours per square meter per year. Remember this mouthful, as it is fast becoming the new lingo of low-energy buildings.

By comparison, an average U.S. commercial building requires about three times that amount.

In Frankfurt, the KfW bank, established by the United States as a development bank to rebuild Germany after World War II, funds green projects nationally and worldwide.

Berlin architects Matthias Sauerbruch and Louisa Hutton shaped the building like an airplane wing turned on its side. The leading edge points toward the prevailing wind. From that direction, the glass exterior bristles with serrations in a rainbow of colors. These are flaps that pivot open to harvest breezes. The air flows along the building between the exterior glass and a separate window system inside.

The double-layer wall cools in summer and insulates in winter. In any season, the expanses of clear floor-to-ceiling glass light the office space, so electric lights generally aren’t needed.

A geothermal system borrows the earth’s steady temperature for free heating and cooling. This building also aims for consumption of just 100 kilowatt hours per square meter per year.

Did I mention that the 15-story Westarkade is the best thing to happen to Frankfurt’s skyline in years? It glows like a curving, faceted stained-glass window.

Both these buildings go beyond Germany’s stringent existing energy codes, yet they weren’t expensive.

KfW cost $115 million for the 421,000-square-foot building. Unilever leases, but owner/developer Hochtief just sold the building for $129 million. They sip energy not through wholesale change but by refined deployment of tactics long used in Europe.

The natural ventilation and day-lighting are almost unknown in the United States’ real-estate development culture of short-term investment horizons, fear of innovation and the presumption that energy will always be cheap.

Germany benefits from refining green technologies and pushing them into the market. Americans are left to pray that global warming is a fraud, energy prices won’t skyrocket and drilling — as in the Gulf of Mexico — will be the answer. 


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Uh-Oh! Katla Volcano Just Rumbled, Contributed by Modern Survival Blog (Reporter), Mon May 17 2010 18:41

Is the sleeping Katla waking up?

On May 17, 2010 08:32 UTC, The Iceland Met office indicates that a small earthquake has occurred at the Katla location. In what could be an early indication of the event that is expected to occur (an eruption of Katla), a small earthquake is reported at the site. Although a single earthquake is not a precursor of an eminent eruption, it could be the first ’sigh’ of the awakening powerful giant.

Historically, Katla has erupted after the eruption of it’s close neighbor, Eyjafjallajokull, which first erupted on April 14, 2010 and is ongoing at this moment. Magma channels beneath the two volcanoes are thought to be interconnected. A Katla eruption would likely be about ten times as powerful at the Eyjafjallajokull eruption and could cause worldwide disruption while expelling huge volumes of volcanic ash into the stratosphere which would circle the globe potentially for years, depending upon the magnitude of the eruption.

Not to be alarmist, but have you started your food storage plan? Basic survival preparedness is a personal responsibility that was simply a way of life of our ancestors. Let’s not forget how.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Nature loss 'to damage economies'

BBC News, by Richard Black, Environment correspondent, 7:27 GMT, Monday, 10 May 2010 8:27 UK

The abundance of mammals, birds, reptiles and other creatures is falling rapidly

The Earth's ongoing nature losses may soon begin to hit national economies, a major UN report has warned.

The third Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-3) says that some ecosystems may soon reach "tipping points" where they rapidly become less useful to humanity.

Such tipping points could include rapid dieback of forest, algal takeover of watercourses and mass coral reef death.

Last month, scientists confirmed that governments would not meet their target of curbing biodiversity loss by 2010.

"The news is not good," said Ahmed Djoglaf, executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

"We continue to lose biodiversity at a rate never before seen in history - extinction rates may be up to 1,000 times higher than the historical background rate."

The global abundance of vertebrates - the group that includes mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians and fish - fell by about one-third between 1970 and 2006, the UN says.

Seeing red

The 2010 target of significantly curbing the global rate of biodiversity loss was agreed at the Johannesburg summit in 2002.

It has been clear for a while that it would not be met.

But GBO-3 concludes that none of the 21 subsidiary targets set at the same time are being met either, at least not on a global basis.

These include measures such as curbing the rate of habitat loss and degradation, protecting at least 10% of the Earth's ecological regions, controlling the spread of invasive species and making sure that international trade does not take any species towards extinction.

No government submitting reports to the convention on biodiversity group claims to have completely met the 2010 target.

While progress is being made in some regions, the global failure means an ever-growing number of species are on the Red List of Threatened Species.

"Twenty-one percent of all known mammals, 30% of all known amphibians, 12% of all known birds (and)... 27% of reef-building corals assessed... are threatened with extinction," said Bill Jackson, deputy director general of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which maintains the Red List.

"If the world made equivalent losses in share prices, there would be a rapid response and widespread panic."

Costing the Earth

The relationship between nature loss and economic harm is much more than just figurative, the UN believes.

An ongoing project known as The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) is attempting to quantify the monetary value of various services that nature provides for us, such as purifying water and air, protecting coasts from storms and maintaining wildlife for ecotourism.

Loss of coral reefs will reduce humanity's supply of seafood

The rationale is that when such services disappear or are degraded, they have to be replaced out of society's coffers.

TEEB has already calculated the annual loss of forests at $2-5 trillion, dwarfing costs of the banking crisis.

"Many economies remain blind to the huge value of the diversity of animals, plants and other lifeforms and their role in healthy and functioning ecosystems," said Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme (Unep).

"Humanity has fabricated the illusion that somehow we can get by without biodiversity, or that it is somehow peripheral to our contemporary world: the truth is we need it more than ever on a planet of six billion heading to over nine billion people by 2050."

The more that ecosystems become degraded, the UN says, the greater the risk that they will be pushed "over the edge" into a new stable state of much less utility to humankind.

For example, freshwater systems polluted with excess agricultural fertiliser will suffocate with algae, killing off fish and making water unfit for human consumption.

The launch of GBO-3 comes as governments begin two weeks of talks in Nairobi aimed at formulating new measures to tackle global biodiversity loss that can be adopted at October's Convention on Biological Diversity summit in Japan.


  • UN defines biodiversity as "the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems"
  • Considered to provide value to humanity in four ways:
  • Provisioning - providing timber, fish, etc
  • Regulating - disposing of pollutants, regulating rainfall
  • Cultural - sacred sites, tourism, enjoyment of countryside
  • Supporting - maintaining soils and plant growth

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Africa's Mineral-Rich Countries Get Tough With Trade Partners

African mining: Will mineral-rich countries start a cartel like OPEC?

ABC News, by DREW HINSHAW, DAKAR, Senegal, May 8, 2010

Gold miners form a human chain while digging an open pit at the Chudja mine in the Kilomoto concession near the village of Kobu, 100 km (62 miles) from Bunia in north-eastern Congo, February 23, 2009. As countries such as China grow increasingly dependent on minerals such as copper and cobalt, Africa mining firms are wondering how far the continent's leaders will go to extract better terms. Some are now talking about a cartel like OPEC. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters)

African leaders are pushing for tougher terms on mining concessions after 25 years of structural adjustment – when countries cut red tape and offered generous tax holidays to foreign prospectors.

The new dynamic was on display at a recent mining conference in Senegal. The chief executive officer of a multinational Africa mining firm was speaking, but Senegal's president didn't appear to be listening.

Across the hall from President Abdoulaye Wade sat 500 delegates from foreign mining firms. They had come in March to see which new holes were worth digging in this continent whose riches are in demand from booming economies like China's.

When the CEO's presentation ended, Mr. Wade treated his visitors to a rhyme: "I never said, enrichissez-vous." [Enrich yourselves]. "I said enrichissons-nous." (Let's enrich one another.)

A cheer rose up from the African delegates.