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FEATURE

NOAA: Global Warming is Real





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Cross-posted on HuffingtonPost

The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's Earth System Research Laboratory issued a report today verifying that 2006 was one of the warmest years on record and that last year's El Niño event was unlikely to have been the cause for the increase in temperature. As such, this report contradicts the assertion that the increase in temperature is primarily due to natural phenomena and states in writing that global warming's primary cause is an increase in greenhouse gases:

"Greenhouse gases likely accounted for more than half of the widespread warmth across the continental United States last year, according to a new study by four scientists at NOAA’s Earth System Research Lab in Boulder, Colo. [snip] The NOAA team also found that the probability of U.S. temperatures breaking a record in 2006 had increased 15-fold compared to pre-industrial times because of greenhouse gas increases in Earth’s atmosphere."

The report states that 2006's average temperature was "2.1 degrees F above the 20th Century average and marked the ninth consecutive year of above-normal U.S. temperatures." It also confirmed that every state in the continental United States had reported higher than normal temperatures and that 2006 was among the ten hottest years since 1895 (which was when they began to keep the records). The report went on to say that the: "authors also estimate that there is a 16 percent chance that 2007 will bring record-breaking warmth."

This is not new information. Not to the farmers going out of business in Southern California (1.93 inches of rainfall in 2006), or those forests dying in the high Sierras, or the Greek citizens fleeing for their lives from arson and negligence as their cradle of civilization burns, or the drought-stricken Turks converging on mosques in Ankara to pray for rain as the city cuts off their water supply for days at a time -- at the same time as their new, former Islamic party, albeit western leaning, President Abdullah Gul is sworn in against the wishes of their secular military who raised a ruckus at first, but then paused when they saw all those Gul supporters in mosques praying for rain had voted in his party as the majority and decided to wait and see whether Gul’s administration would live up to its secular promise.

It's also not news to the millions displaced by floods in South Asia and in the heartland of the United States, the nonstop rain in Oxfordshire earlier this summer, the imbalance between record heat and floods in Europe, the unexpected snowfall in South Africa... and then there's that whole lake that disappeared in Chile...

What is news? Four scientists from the established U.S. government agency responsible for reporting on the weather have put it in writing: Global warming is real, it is caused primarily by greenhouse gases and it's very likely to cause record-breaking temperatures yet again this year.

Here's a link to the NOAA report.


NASA's Climate Change Satellites - Drastic White House Cuts Leaked





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Cross-posted on Huffington Post

Just after George Bush announced his
plans to address climate change, both NOAA and NASA experts revealed that the Bush Administration is "drastically scaling back efforts to measure global warming from space."

No word whether this issue will be raised at the climate change meeting Bush has called for September 27-28 (different from the UN meetings that will take place on September 24th to “promote discussion on possible ways to move the international community toward negotiations on new global agreement on climate change"), but it seems like it should be:
Bush Climate Meeting Draws Doubts about Action – August 08, 2007 – By Deborah Zabarenko (Reuters) -- A U.S. summit in September on climate change, one of at least four international meetings set for this year, is already raising doubts about any action being taken before President Bush leaves office.Link.

So, what happened to the Climate Change Satellites?

A confidential report to the White House, obtained by The Associated Press, warns that U.S. scientists will soon lose much of their ability to monitor warming from space using a costly and problem-plagued satellite initiative begun more than a decade ago. Because of technology glitches and a near-doubling in the original $6.5 billion cost, the Defense Department has decided to downsize and launch four satellites paired into two orbits, instead of six satellites and three orbits. Link

According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which calls it a crisis, Atmospheric scientist Timothy L. Killeen, the president of the American Geophysical Union, says it [the loss of the satellites] "could harm our ability to protect our citizens." and "Unfortunately, the recent loss of climate sensors ... places the overall climate program in serious jeopardy," NOAA and NASA scientists told the White House in the Dec. 11 report obtained by the AP.

December 11th, 2006...

So, this means that George W. knew about this CONFIDENTIAL report that we weren't supposed to know about (which has now been leaked to the AP) before he announced his climate change initiative for September. But, it's not only the Bush Administration that needs to be taken to task for this debacle. According to the report, the White House requested $331 million for their scaled back version of the satellite system in their 2008 budget.

The AAAS [The American Association for the Advancement of Science] issued a Board Statement on April 27, 2007, regarding this pending Climate Satellite crisis asking for Congress to address the issue:

The network of satellites upon which the United States and the world have relied for indispensable observations of Earth from space is in jeopardy. These observations are essential for weather forecasting, hurricane warning, management of agriculture and forestry, documenting and anticipating the impacts of global climate change, and much more. Maintenance of an adequate constellation of Earth-observing satellites and the instruments they carry is now threatened by budget cuts and reallocations in the two federal agencies that share the primary responsibility for them, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The situation is already causing harm, and it will become rapidly worse unless the Congress and the Administration take prompt action to reverse the recent trends. Link

A major study has just been completed by the National Research Council, entitled Earth Science and Applications from Space: A Community Assessment and Strategy for the Future: The Space Studies Board, in consultation with other units of the NRC, will lead a study to generate consensus recommendations from the Earth and environmental science and applications community regarding a systems approach to space-based and ancillary observations that encompasses the research programs of NASA and the related operational programs of NOAA.

The NRC study offered detailed recommendations for restoring U.S. capabilities in Earth observations from space to acceptable levels, including:

  • Reconstituting specific key observation capabilities that have recently been deleted from scheduled NOAA satellite series
  • Accelerating NASA’s current launch schedule to shrink the data gaps implied by current plans
  • Committing to the 17 highest-priority new Earth-observation missions, out of more than 100 candidates evaluated for the 2010-2020 time period.

The study concluded that its recommendations could be funded until 2020 by returning the Earth-science budget at NASA to its FY 1998-2000 level and stabilizing the budget of NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite Data, and Information Service at only slightly above the FY2007 level, adjusted for inflation.

Jerry Mahlman, a former scientist at NOAA who is now at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said he and other colleagues warned of problems as far back as 1995. He compared the preparations for the satellites to a "planned train wreck."

The planned satellites Jerry Mahlman is referring to? The National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System, or NPOESS, which was first announced in 1994. This system was to combine the Defense Department's weather forecasting with NOAA's climate data gathering. There was also a provision for involving Europe and Japan's Meteorological Satellites. In 2005, however, the GAO found cost overruns to the tune of 9.7 billion (with a B) in an effort that was over a year behind schedule. The Pentagon weighed in last year, citing the program at 11.5 billion and even further behind schedule.

The White House's answer? Science Advisor Marburger: "We’re obviously very concerned about this," he told the AP. "It got in trouble and we couldn’t fit all those instruments on it ..."

The Pentagon, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA have announced they will have to rely on European satellites for most of the climate data until they figure this out.

Until they do, all I can say is someones's doing a heckofajob...

FEATURE

Cats as Canaries in EPA Contamination Study





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Cross-posted on Huffington Post

The EPA has released a
study that may change the cleaning habits of some American households. The study, which focused on thyroid damage in house cats caused by the flame retardant chemical polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) introduced into American homes nearly thirty years ago, concludes that the chemical enters the cats' systems through house dust. The danger for humans? The chemical, which was phased out of production in 2004, is still present in American homes via treated foam insulation, plastics products, furniture, electronics, carpet pads and, most importantly, in house dust that comes into contact with the treated materials:
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are an important group of flame retardants. They are used worldwide in a variety of consumer goods, including household products. Over the last 20 years, the concentrations of PBDEs have rapidly increased in the environment and in humans. [snip] Since many pet cats spend the majority of their lives indoors and grooming, and since household dust often contains relatively high levels of PBDEs, we hypothesized that development of feline hyperthyroidism could, in some manner, be related to increasing exposure to PBDEs. [snip] Thus, cats may be useful sentinels for studying potential endocrine health outcomes re-lated to chronic low-level PBDE exposure. Link

The EPA's Director of Experimental Toxicology, Linda Birnbaum, a co-author of the study, went on to say that "this could be a warning sign for how young children could get exposed to the chemical."

A review of the report in today's Environmental Science and Technology concluded:

The paper makes a convincing case that cats can be "a useful sentinel species for both [human] exposure to PBDEs and examination of endocrine disruption," notes Tom Webster, an associate professor at the Boston University School of Public Health's department of environmental health. Link.

"I don't think we know about (human) health yet, but I don't like the sound of this," said Webster. "Levels in people are going up." Link.

"Because the cat study is so preliminary," Birnbaum said, "people shouldn't overreact and sell their furniture or rid themselves of carpets." However, she said she makes sure to wash her grandchildren's blankets more frequently and checks on flame retardant use when buying furniture. Link.

This is an unfortunate potential validation for the times we have been told of the necessity for the dreaded chores of dusting, cleaning and laundry. If you have cats, children or if you happen to breathe the air yourself, best practice may be to keep your house, furniture, carpets and fabrics as free of dust as possible until more tests can be done and to check the type of flame retardant used (or not used) when purchasing new goods.

More Fragile than They Might Appear: The Sierras’ Warning of a Warming World





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Cross-posted on Huffington Post

A twenty-two year USGS study of 21,000 trees in the Sierras has produced an unexpected result: The trees are dying. Not just one variety, but the Ponderosa Pines, the White Fir Conifers, the Red Fir, the Jeffrey Pines and the Subalpine are all dying of the thirst and the heat and the insect infestation that accompanies drought conditions.

“They’re more fragile than they might appear,” says Dr. Phillip van Mantgem, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and lead author of the report that suggests even the slightest change in climate can produce unexpected results in a delicate ecosystem. In this case, in addition to the millions of Southern California trees that have already died due to the Bark Beetle infestation, the Sierra range will be more vulnerable to fires as the dying trees become kindling while the air their leaves and pine needles once cooled grows warmer.

This symbiotic relationship is not isolated to the Sierras. The Mount Parnitha Forest, long known as the “lungs of Athens,” burned earlier this summer in a nine-day heat wave at 46 degrees Celsius (114.8 degrees Fahrenheit)...

Read more...

FEATURE

The New Peloponnesian War





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Tragedy struck in the form of fast moving forest fires in the Peloponnese region of Greece, many set, allegedly, by arson, and exacerbated, definitely, by climate change, which has led to the deaths of sixty-three people. [Video-ABC, Video-NBC]

ZAHARO, Greece - Massive forest fires swept across Greece and killed at least 37 [sic] people in the south of the country, including several children, the fire department said Saturday. New fires broke out frequently, as embers were carried by the wind.

More than 170 fires raged across the country, from the western Ionian islands to Ioannina in northwestern Greece and down to the south. At least 25 fires started long after dark, leading authorities to look into arson as a cause.

Thousands have been evacuated while relatives search for the missing. Among those lost were a mother and four children found in a burned car, as was a couple who died while in an embrace. Others perished while fleeing through olive groves and many more have been made homeless and destitute by the loss of residences, businesses, farms and groves.

Greece has called on the European Union for help. Their fire services are overwhelmed, the soldiers been brought in to assist were not trained to fight fires, and the overstretched support services are bracing for more fires that are expected during the next heatwave of 40 degrees c (104F).

The inferno also destroyed fragile mountain ecosystems — that will require decades to revive — and an entire rural way of life, threatening to turn thousands of villagers into environmental refugees.
The president of Greece has announced that "the nation is in a state of mourning," and says that "everything must be done to insure that it never happens again."

The BBC's Malcom Brabant referred to Greece's crisis as an "absolutely terrible summer with more than 3,000 [fires] so far that, until now, has been seen as a largely ecological disaster with some of the most beautiful landscapes being destroyed..."

Lessons from Katrina: The Gulf Braces for Hurricane Dean





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As Hurricane Dean barrels toward the Gulf Coast, Texas and Louisiana have drawn from their experience with Katrina and Rita in the hopes of forestalling tragedy with their most vulnerable populations:
With long-range computer models showing Dean turning north after striking Mexico, officials in Texas and Louisiana launched preparations for a possible midweek landfall.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco declared a state of emergency Friday and activated the state's emergency response center. Texas Gov. Rick Perry called Dean an imminent threat and took steps to deploy emergency responders to the coast.

"It is imperative that Texans living along the coast pay close attention to threatening weather conditions and heed the warnings of their local leaders," Perry said. Link

Some of the preparations being taken:

  • Monitoring of the storm's track by state evacuation authorities.
  • Preparations for early evacuation of the elderly and those with special needs.
  • NASA is making arrangements to recall the Space Shuttle early if the storm requires an evacuation of the Huston Control Center.

The current Hurricane Center projection has Dean hitting Jamaica on Sunday with sustained winds of 155 mph.

"Everyone must take the threat very seriously and put in place all necessary safety measures," Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said.

The Cayman Islands are the next in a path that is projected to head toward Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula before veering north, where it will encounter the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. At that point, the storm may make landfall somewhere near the Texas/Mexico border. Since the projections are so early and the storm is potentially wide (possible category five), the variables on the path are wide, as well.

What is not a projection: The steps being taken by those in its path, most notably Texas, to prevent a repeat of the disastrous outcome of failed evacuations experienced during Katrina and Rita, which includes the decision by NASA to land the space shuttle Endeavour early if the storm turns toward the Huston Control Center.

As Dean is the first hurricane projected to make landfall on the US coast since 2005, it will be preparedness test for wherever it does hit, as it is already wreaking havoc on the islands of St. Lucia, Dominica and Martinique. Since this is most likely not the last big storm to hit the region this season, the more prepared the respective governments are, the better. Even with that, there will be (and already has been) loss of life and property, as all the preparations in the world cannot forestall that outcome in the path of a category five hurricane.

Here's a link to Hurricane Dean's projected route.

FEATURE

Turkey Prays for Rain





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Turkey has long been known as the crossroads of the world; an ancient land where Greek philosophy was born, where Cyrus the Great battled King Croesus for supremacy, where Alexander the Great won his first battle against the Persian Empire and where, according to Plutarch, Julius Caesar spent thirty-eight days as a prisoner of the Cilician Pirates, only to return and crucify them all upon his release.

It's difficult for me to separate my fascination for Turkey's past from the complexities of its present: The anger that Turkish minorities (Kurds and Armenians) have for their government, the necessity of the west to keep Turkey as an ally (and out of Iraq), the tug of war between the growing Islamic population in their manufacturing center and the freewheeling populations of their cosmopolitan coastal regions.
A situation that has grown more complex after what is being called an act of God:

The Turkish capital, which is suffering from drought and serious water shortages. Record-low snow and rainfall this past winter, coupled with searing summer temperatures, have shrunk the reservoirs of Ankara, a city of some 4 million people, leaving just enough water to last another three months.

This is not a simple drought. It is an absence of precipitation coupled with record temperatures and water-source-overuse (an act of Man) from agriculture that has resulted in extreme rationing, with water supplies cut off from the population for days at a time.

The Mayor of Ankara has gone so far as to suggest that his constituents take a vacation to other parts of Turkey while 750 of the cities' Mosques gather the faithful to pray for rain:

"We stand before you, we beg you to answer our prayers," said Fikret Latifoglu, the Imam of the Hacibayram mosque, one of the city's oldest, in leading special prayers for rain before the start of traditional Friday prayers. "Don't leave innocent children and the old, animals who cannot speak for themselves, the trees, the ants and the birds without water. We helplessly beg for Your mercy."

This is a population that is already torn between growing Islamic adherents, competing secularists, and right wing nationalists that have raised alarm bells across their country following the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, who was well-known for writing articles about the mass killing of Armenians by Turks in 1915:

"We are all Hrant Dink. We are all Armenians," Turkish demonstrators furious at the murder chanted.

There are the Kurds, who comprise a significant portion of the population, with a small, growing percentage of their youth joining the US/EU designated terrorist group, the PKK, encamped across the border in the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan.

All of which indicates an increasingly complex Turkish national identity. A secular nation with a growing Islamism, those were the Turks from the varied backgrounds who demonstrated in support of the assassinated Armenian-Turkish journalist who'd criticized them; their secular military that had threatened a coup last spring if their Islamic Foreign Minister was appointed president; a long oppressed Kurdish minority with an outlawed terrorist faction, who, for the first time in twenty-six years, had twenty pro-Kurdish politicians elected to parliament:

Now the party of the aforementioned Turkish Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul, whose nomination for president sparked protests that filled their streets with secularists fearfull of his Islamic connections (coupled with the threat from the secular military if he didn't withdrawal), has won the majority in the recent elections and Gul has just been elected to the secular post.

The Turkish armed forces said Monday that efforts were being made daily to undermine the secular republic, comments that came a day before Parliament was expected to elect a candidate with Islamist roots as president.

In a country where so many have turned to religion to pray for rain, the secular military, the Kurdish and Armenian minorities, and the extreme nationalists may see themselves at a growing disadvantage. While it does not mean the country will digress into violence -- Turks are a cautious people -- it does bear notice that such a strategic location, one that is still the crossroads of the world, is undergoing resource pressures through climate change that could impact both their geopolitical and secular status quo.




FEATURE

Who are the Yazidi?





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In light of the recent coordinated suicide
attacks on the Yazidi people in Iraq, many people are now asking who are the Yazidi?

Historically, the Yazidis are a religious minority of the Kurds. Purportedly, they have existed since 2000 BCE. Estimates of the number of Yazidis vary between 100,000 and 800,000, the latter being the claim of their website. According to the same site, Yazidi refugees in Germany number 30,000

Researchers believe that the Yazidi creed has elements from Zoroastrianism, Manicheism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

The Yazidis call themselves Dasin, while the term 'Yazidism' probably comes from the Persian word 'īzed', 'angel'. The name Yazidism is, moreover, connected to the 6th caliph, Yazid (680-83), from Shi'a point of view one of world history's most hated men, and highly disliked by most Sunnis, as well. There is, however, little evidence to show what role Yazid may have played in the founding or development of Yazidism. Link.

The Yazidis don't call themselves Yazidis and they're not attached to the 6th Caliph. But that doesn't stop the Sunni and Shi'a from hating them for the name they don't call themselves, as well as for the rumors that they worship the devil.

What are their true beliefs?

In the Yazidi world view, God created the world, which is now in the care of a Heptad of seven Holy Beings, often known as Angels or heft sirr (the Seven Mysteries). Preeminent among these is Melek Taus (Tawûsê Melek in Kurdish), the Peacock Angel, who is equated with Satan or Devil by some Muslims and Christians.

"The reason for the Yazidis reputation of being devil worshipers, is connected to the other name of Melek Taus, Shaytan, the same name as the Koran's for Satan." However, according to the Kurdish linguist Jamal Nebez, the word Taus is most probably derived from the Greek and is related to the words Zeus and Theos, alluding to the meaning of God. Link.

In the Yazidi religion, God stands above all, but only as a creator, not as a current force. Divine power is represented by Shaykh Adii, the benevolent deity and Malak Ta'us, the peacock angel who once fell into degrace, but then repented with seven jars of tears collected over 7,000 years that were used to extinguish the fires of hell.

There are six minor deities, but it is the two listed above who are the focus of their theology, which looks to heaven, but no longer believes in hell, as it is seen as a uneventful place since the fires were put out.

So, not only no devil worship, but they don't have a hell.

That's not to say the Yazidi culture lacks problems, especially in their views on the treatment of women, honor killing, and intermarriage with other faiths. This became public after the stoning death of a Yazidi teen when she converted to Sunni Muslim to marry outside her faith.

But it was not the honor killing that led to the violence, nor has it stopped others from using the misunderstanding of their religion to both isolate the Yazidis from the Kurds and for political advantage:

It is alleged by some that during the regime of Saddam Hussein, Yazidis were considered to be Arabs and maneuvered to oppose the Kurds, in order to tilt the ethnic balance in northern Iraq, but this cannot be entirely substantiated. It is known, however, that the Yazidi's unique identity, despite being ethnically Kurdish, was in fact used by the Baathist regime to isolate one from the other. However, both groups fought against Baathist troops, often in joint Peshmerga units. Since the 2003 occupation of Iraq, the Kurds want the Yazidi to be recognized as ethnic Kurds to increase their numbers and influence.

The Kurds want the Yazidi to be recognized as ethnic Kurds.

The Yazidi, as so often in the past, are now caught between competing forces in Iraq:

Vying for a Voice, Tribe in N. Iraq Feels Let Down:

KHARSI, Iraq -- When the 101st Airborne first reached this remote village in Iraq's northwestern Sinjar Mountains in 2003, elderly Yazidi tribesmen were thrilled: Their ancient religious prophesy had come true.

"We believed that Jesus Christ was coming with a force from overseas to save us," said the village leader, Khalil Sadoon Haji Jundu, wrapping his gold-trimmed cloak around him against the morning chill.

[snip]

But more than two years later, as the Yazidis struggle for a political voice and an escape from the poverty they suffered during decades of oppression under President Saddam Hussein, tribesmen such as Jundu say they feel let down. Link.

The Yazidi are concentrated around the town of Bashika, in Northern Iraq, as well as small communities of Yazidi Kurds in Syria, Turkey, Georgia, and Armenia. The Yazidi in Iraq claim to be ~800,000 strong in the region with another 30,000 living in Germany. The Iraqi Kurds want those numbers included in their ethnic demography and, given the Kurds' better understanding of the Yazidi faith (they know it is not devil worship) and their propensity for blood feud in protecting other Kurds, the recent attacks on the Yazidi have the potential to exacerbate the conflict between the competing forces in Iraq, which, of course, was their purpose.

FEATURE

'Simply Incredible' Polar Ice Shrinkage





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William Chapman of the University of Illinois' Department of Atmospheric Sciences' Polar Research Group has just issued a report on the new historic northern hemisphere sea ice minimum:
Today the Northern Hemisphere sea ice area broke the record for the lowest ice area in recorded history. The new record came a full month before the historic summer minimum typically occurs. There is still a month or more of melt likely this year. It is therefore almost certain that the previous 2005 record will be annihilated by the final 2007 annual minima closer to the end of this summer. In previous record sea ice minima years, ice area anomalies were confined to certain sectors (N. Atlantic, Beaufort/Bering Sea, etc.). The character of 2007's sea ice melt is unique in that it is dramatic and covers the entire Arctic sector. Atlantic, Pacific and even the central Arctic sectors are showing large negative sea ice area anomalies.

So, what does this mean? According to the climate scientists at Realclimate.org (highly recommend this site):

A few people have already remarked on some pretty surprising numbers in Arctic sea ice extent this year (the New York Times has also noticed). The minimum extent is usually in early to mid September, but this year, conditions by Aug 9 had already beaten all previous record minima. Given that there is at least a few more weeks of melting to go, it looks like the record set in 2005 will be unequivocally surpassed.

There's no other way to describe this than the New York Times article title: "Analysts See 'Simply Incredible'Shrinking of Floating Ice in the Arctic." The scientists are redoing their models to account for the increase in shrinkage, but this picture and then this picture should make the problem clear.

Here's the link to the NY Times article.

China's Recalled Toy Company Boss Commits Suicide





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The Chinese government has announced that the head of the Guangdong province toy company, identified as the source of nearly a million recalled toys, has committed suicide:
Zhang Shuhong, who ran the Lee Der Industrial Co. Ltd, killed himself at a warehouse over the weekend, days after China said it had temporarily banned exports by the company, the Southern Metropolis Daily said.

Lee Der made 967,000 toys recalled earlier this month by Mattel Inc. because they were made with paint found to have excessive amounts of lead. The plastic preschool toys, sold under the Fisher-Price brand in the U.S., included the popular Big Bird, Elmo, Dora and Diego characters

(snip)

The suicide comes less than a week after Mattel's announcement identifying Lee Der Industrial, in Guangdong province, as the manufacturer of the toys, which were sold under the Fisher-Price brand in the United States between May and August. Link.


As reported in these earlier posts, this is the latest episode in the ongoing Chinese export/consequences of globalization scandal:


One interesting difference in this story from the pet food recall debacle where Menu Foods waited until many more pets had died before they reported their suspicions: It seems that Mattel reported the lead paint in the imported toys more quickely and issued an apology to their customers. That's the good news. The bad? With less than a one percent inspection U.S. government inspection rate of imported goods, it begs the question what else may be getting through that has not been reported by companies as forthcoming as Mattel?

Here's the link to the CBS/AP story.

FEATURE

Cities make storms more intense: Princeton Study





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Princeton University has just completed a study of a 2004 Baltimore storm to determine if city infrastructures increased storm severity. The answer was yes, by 30 percent:
Researchers at Princeton University consulted models and observations of an extreme thunderstorm that hit Baltimore in July 2004 and found that about 30 percent more rainfall occurred in the city than would have if there were no buildings where the city now sits.

During the storm, Baltimore experienced as many lightning strikes in the space of two hours as the city normally sees in a whole year, with much of the lightning striking the western edges of the city.

The report goes on to say that the three factors increasing the intensity are:
  1. Heat Effect: Cities create their own heat, replicating the impact of global warming.
  2. Wind Drag: Tall buildings create their own wind effect.
  3. Aerosols: Tiny particles suspended in the air over cities emitted by vehicles and industry.
The report ties this problem into climate change as follows:
This apparent interaction between storm and city has critical consequences for city dwellers and policymakers, especially in light of the likelihood of such fierce storms becoming more common with the influence of global warming (as warmer air holds more water, which means more intense rainfall in any given storm).

"This means that warm-season thunderstorm systems will probably increasingly lead to more flash flooding, which can be very dangerous," said study co-author James Smith, of Princeton.

Which means the tornado that touched down in Brooklyn the other day was not only not a coincidence, but that we can expect more of the same in the future.Here's a link to the MSNBC report on the Princeton Study.

FEATURE

Recalled: 255,000 Chinese tires





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China has done it again. Here's a link to a CNN story which has the brand and numbers of over a quarter million Chinese tires that have been recalled:
The recall applies to Westlake, Compass and YKS brand tires in these sizes and models:
  • Size LT235/75R-15, models CR861 and CR857, with a DOT number beginning 7DT5FTS.
  • Size LT235/85R-16, models CR860, CR861 and CR857, with a DOT number beginning 7DT2FTS.
  • Size LT245/75R-16, models CR860, CR861 and CR857, with a DOT number beginning 7DT3FTS.
  • Size LT265/75R-16, models CR860, CR861 and CR857, with a DOT number beginning 7DT4FTS.
  • Size LT31X10.5 R-15, models CR857 and CR861, with a DOT number beginning 7DT6FTS.

With 287 Billion (with a B) dollars of Chinese imports and a less than 1 percent inspection rate, is it any surprise that I'm surprised that these quarter-million defective tires have been found?

Pet food, toys, fish, tires, toothpaste...

:hide:

Here's the link to the CNN story.

FEATURE

UN Opens New Negotiations on Climate Change





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Hopeful news! Following the report by the IPPC and the UN's own Climate Change Roadmap, the UN has just opened new negotiations on Climate Change. Citing the growing impact of climate change this year on its member countries, the United Nations has invited representatives of 100 countries to negotiate a new climate deal:
Nearly 100 countries speaking at the first U.N. General Assembly meeting on climate change signaled strong support for negotiations on a new international deal to tackle global warming.

There was so much interest among worried nations — many facing drought, floods and searing heat — that the two-day meeting was extended for an extra day so that more countries could describe their climate-related problems, how they are coping, and the help they need.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20102028

The meeting is focused on signing an upgrade/replacement to the Kyoto accord that will take into account the new tipping point deadlines provided by the IPPC and the UN's own Climate Change Roadmap.

The report goes on to say that the new UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has made climate change a top priority and that he is urging all countries to reach a comprehensive agreement by 2009 (too late? Maybe. But it's more than was done before).

So, is the US is supporting these meetings? Well..... George Bush did announce his own climate change meetings for September to be chaired by that world renowned climate "expert," Condolezza Rice

President Bush invited representatives of major industrialized and developing countries to a separate climate change summit on Sept. 27-28, hosted by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, to discuss “life after” the Kyoto Protocol expires.

“In recent years, science has deepened our understanding of climate change and opened new possibilities for confronting it,” Bush said in his invitation letter Friday.

Hmmm.... Life after the Kyoto Protocol expires... Did I miss where we signed that???

Floods in Oxfordshire, the impact in Europe, disappearing glaciers, droughts the the US...

And then there was this report on the Bush Administrations' drastic cuts in climate satellites...

Life after Kyoto expires...

What will that life be like?

Here's a link to a bit more on the hot politics behind global warming.

A story on the UN's climate change roadmap.

And here's the link to the MSNBC-AP article on the new UN Climate Change Meetings.

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