Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Report Notes Potential for Abrupt Climate Change

The United States faces the potential for abrupt climate change in the 21st century that could pose clear risks to society in terms of our ability to adapt. "Abrupt" changes can occur over decades or less, persist for decades more, and cause substantial disruptions to human and natural systems.
A new report, based on an assessment of published science literature and led by the U.S. Geological Survey, makes the following conclusions about the potential for abrupt climate changes from global warming during this century.
• Climate model simulations and observations suggest that rapid and sustained September arctic sea ice loss is likely in the 21st century.
• The southwestern United States may be beginning an abrupt period of increased drought.
• It is very likely that the northward flow of warm water in the upper layers of the Atlantic Ocean, which has an important impact on the global climate system, will decrease by approximately 25-30 percent. However, it is very unlikely that this circulation will collapse or that the weakening will occur abruptly during the 21st century and beyond.
• An abrupt change in sea level is possible...

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Read the US Climate Change Science Program Report

German Insurance Giant Cites Role of Climate Change in Record Payouts

By James Kanter for The New York Times

Insurance is one of the business sectors that long has lobbied governments to take the lead in crafting global rules to tackle climate change.
This week one of the biggest companies, Munich Re, a reinsurance group, renewed that campaign with a warning that natural catastrophes — apparently driven by climate change — are increasing in frequency, and it called for an international plan to halve emissions by 2050.
This year, adjusted for inflation, was the third most expensive year on record, exceeded only by 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina, and by 1995, the year of the Kobe earthquake, according to Munich Re.
“Climate change has already started and is very probably contributing to increasingly frequent weather extremes and ensuing natural catastrophes,” said Torsten Jeworrek, a member of the board of management at Munich Re. “These, in turn, generate greater and greater losses because the concentration of values in exposed areas, like regions on the coast, is also increasing further throughout the world,” he said.

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Earthquakes Still Swarm Yellowstone Supervolcano Caldera

Earthquakes. Supervolcanoes. Calderas. The End of Civilization. Not the usual subject matter of this blog, but I go where the news takes me. I just checked the last data from the University of Utah's seismograph station in Yellowstone. The earthquake swarm seems to have reintenstified a bit over the past 24 hours. During Dec. 27 and 28, there was a swarm of earthquakes under Yellowstone in the 3.0-3.9 range. Activity then dropped off to quakes less than 2.0 on the Richter magnitude scale. But now we are again seeing quakes above 2.0 and even a 3.5 shaker earlier this morning. Again, the University of Utah puts this all in perspective:

The University of Utah Seismograph Stations reports that a notable swarm of earthquakes has been underway since December 26 beneath Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone National Park, three to six miles south-southeast of Fishing Bridge, Wyoming. This energetic sequence of events was most intense on December 27, when the largest number of events of magnitude 3 and larger occurred. The largest of the earthquakes was a magnitude 3.9 (revised from magnitude 3.8) at 10:15 pm MST on Dec. 27. The sequence has included nine events of magnitude 3 to 3.9 and approximately 24 of magnitude 2 to 3 at the time of this release.
A total of more than 250 events large enough to be located have occurred in this swarm. Reliable depths of the larger events are up to a few miles. Visitors and National Park Service (NPS) employees in the Yellowstone Lake area reported feeling the largest of these earthquakes.

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Water Consciousness Raised in New Book with Seventy-Seven International Contributors

Human life cannot survive without freshwater. "Water Voices from Around the World" raises consciousness about international water situations, water's importance to life's existence, and helps to educate a broad range of readers.

Water is beautiful, enjoyable and the source of life. Over four hundred photographs of breathtaking water scenes are presented with one hundred articles by seventy-seven international contributors to help protect water, and by extension our planet, in William E. Marks's "Water Voices from Around the World" (ISBN 9780979304606, Water Voices, Inc., 2007).
Internationally respected authors, politicians, and activists have come together to create one of the most important books ever written about global resource--water. The numerous contributors include recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize and the Stockholm Water Prize. Religious and political leaders, scientists and researchers from around the world provide guidance about humanity's current relationship with water, and how their organizations and governments are protecting freshwater for future generations. Mikhail Gorbachev, Jane Goodall, Kofi Annan, and Leonardo DiCaprio are just a handful of the best-known voices telling their water stories.
All of reality--lives, bodies, brains, even thoughts are direct manifestations of water. Because freshwater is vital to every aspect of existence, "Water Voices from Around the World" is relevant to all.. Human history began in myths of water's role in the universe's creation and its contribution to evolution--"Water Voices" gives new answers and is written to help educate about water and how people can take action to help water create life.

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No More Fairy Tales

By Andrew Cohen
Two Western spiritual teachers came for a visit last week. One was American; one was English. They both claimed to be enlightened. They actually told me they were. And I think, to some degree, it was true. They both had undergone many powerful transformative spiritual episodes and were considered by some to be masters or gurus in their own right. They both had a light in their eyes, the unmistakable shine of consciousness that has been awakened beyond the veil of the separate self-sense. They both radiated and transmitted the personal kindness and inspired enthusiasm for life unique to spiritually awakened individuals. They also both spoke nonstop about their own lives, their own work, their own beliefs and their excitement about their own futures. We didn’t really have two-way conversations. Fortunately, I’m a good listener. I genuinely enjoyed their company, but I remember what struck me after the second meeting had ended was that they both shared a view common among spiritual adepts that I believe is out of date. (Even enlightened people have to keep up with the times, have to continue to evolve, have to keep moving forward.) They both kept referring to the popular refrain among nontraditional “mystical” believers that “something’s happening in consciousness.” And because something mysterious and powerful is happening at the mystic level — the deepest unseen internal level — for an individual, a group of individuals or many groups of individuals, then a big external “shift” is imminent.
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Hailstorm swamps one small town in 6ft drifts - and it's still only October


By Luke Salkeld, from Mail Online, England
These astonishing scenes are the aftermath of a deluge of hailstones that buried a town in a river of ice.
Ottery St Mary, in Devon, was plunged into chaos by the storm in the early hours yesterday.
First, the area was battered by an astonishing 12in of hail in just two hours.
More than 100 people had to be evacuated from their homes and 25 were airlifted to safety or rescued by firefighters.
After a day of heavy rain on Wednesday more than three inches of rain and hail fell between 6pm and 8am yesterday morning.
The Met Office said the 'hugely localised' weather system was less than 4 miles across and seemed ' to be centred on Ottery St Mary'.
The most severe weather hit just after midnight on Thursday but by 5am the entire town was cut off and coastguards scrambled helicopters to airlift residents.

4 Minor Earthquakes Shake Parts Of Texas

DALLAS (CBS) ― Eight minor earthquakes shook the Dallas-Fort Worth area from late Thursday night into Saturday morning. There have been no reports of significant damage, reports CBS station KTVT-TV in Dallas..The U.S. Geological Survey says an earthquake with a 2.6 magnitude was reported at 11:25 p.m. Thursday, centered WSW of Irving, in the Grand Prairie area.The federal agency says a slightly stronger quake, at 3.0 magnitude, happened at 12:01 a.m. Friday, centered in Irving. The third and fourth earthquakes also happened in Irving, at 12:33 a.m. and 2:58 a.m. respectively.
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Wanted: A Climate Bailout

"The problem is, once climate change begins, it cannot simply be turned off. The inertia of the climate system ensures that even if every country in the world went green as quickly as possible, the earth would still be locked into fifty more years of rising temperatures and the impacts they unleash."

By Mark Hertsgaard from The Nation

What a difference an emergency makes. Scare people enough and $700 billion can materialize almost overnight. The White House can repudiate its core economic philosophy--government should leave markets alone--within hours. Congress, where spending bills sometimes wait years to reach the floor, can pass one of the costliest laws in its history within days. Even the endlessly fickle media can provide 24/7 news coverage, making the emergency the topic on everyone's mind.
When will we see this same sense of urgency devoted to the greatest emergency of our time? You wouldn't know it from our politicians or TV shows, but the climate crisis is even more serious than the financial crisis. The financial crisis, while painful and severe, can be resolved, given time and wise policies. The climate crisis, not so. The earth's climate system has tipping points beyond which no return is possible. Yet there is a very real danger right now that sliding oil prices will lull the public into an even deeper complacency.
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Food, not zombies

By: Zane Fischer

Santa Fe Reporter staff writer Dave Maass’ zombie scenario may seem like an unlikely lark to most readers, but my ongoing fascination with the fetishy subculture of survivalism and disaster preparedness indicates a worldview wherein one is either ready for anything and everything, or is just one of the “sheeple” who will be thrown to the wolves when the SHTF and TEOTWAWKI is upon us.I recently read the Church of the Latter Day Saints’ “Preparedness Manual,” which the Mormon Church distributes to its members. The manual is a detailed and thoughtful plan on how to stockpile food and supplies, and develop the necessary skills to survive the_______(fill in the blank: zombie apocalypse, economic collapse, assault of the New World Order, nuclear holocaust, peak oil crisis, electro-magnetic pulse terrorist attack, etc.).The Mormon community isn’t proposing to live out a video game- and movie-fueled juvenile fantasy, nor does it promote the stereotypical survivalist, an assault weapon-hoarding loner in full tactical battle gear. Instead, it puts forth a method for prospering in a world that has proven to be volatile and unpredictable, and where prosperity is a fickle friend to comfortable nations. But the methods are still a bit, um, insular and extremist.
Assuming an actual zombie invasion is low on the probability scale, but fuel and/or food shortages—such as those that have recently rocked regions around the world, including the southern US—are potential situations over which it is worth hedging some bets, how do communities like Santa Fe best secure themselves? The key issue is food. In the winter of 2006/2007, more than 20 inches of snow fell on parts of Santa Fe proper, effectively shutting down the city for almost two days. Because grocery stores stock approximately three days worth of food for a community’s needs, it’s apparent any significant disruption in the timing of supplies will pinch.
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Climate Change Destroying Walden Pond's Flowers

"The earth is not a mere fragment of dead history, stratum upon stratum like the leaves of a book, to be studied by geologists and antiquaries chiefly, but living poetry like the leaves of a tree, which precede flowers and fruit — not a fossil earth, but a living earth." Henry David Thoreau -- Walden

Climate change is devastating the flowers of Walden Pond, picking off those species that cannot react to rising temperatures.
Comparing data meticulously gathered by Henry David Thoreau more than a century and a half ago with more recent observations, Harvard biologists report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that more than a quarter of Walden's plant species have already been lost. And an additional 36 percent are in imminent danger, including lilacs, roses and buttercups.
"It had been thought that climate change would result in uniform shifts across plant species, but our work shows that plant species do not respond to climate change uniformly or randomly," said co-author Charles Davis, a biologist at Harvard, in a release.
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Global Warming Is Killing Frogs And Salamanders In Yellowstone Park, Researchers Say

ScienceDaily

Frogs and salamanders, those amphibious bellwethers of environmental danger, are being killed in Yellowstone National Park. The predator, Stanford researchers say, is global warming.
Biology graduate student Sarah McMenamin spent three summers in a remote area of the park searching for frogs and salamanders in ponds that had been surveyed 15 years ago. Almost everywhere she looked, she found a catastrophic decrease in the population.
The amphibians need the ponds for their young to hatch, but high temperatures and drought are drying up the water. The frogs and salamanders lay eggs that have a gelatinous outer layer—basically "jelly eggs," McMenamin says—that leaves them completely unsuitable for gestation on land. If the ponds dry up, so do the eggs. "If there isn't any water, then the animals simply don't breed," she said.
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Bio Lab in Galveston Raises Concerns

By JAMES C. McKINLEY JR, New York Times

GALVESTON, Tex. — Much of the University of Texas medical school on this island suffered flood damage during Hurricane Ike, except for one gleaming new building, a national biological defense laboratory that will soon house some of the most deadly diseases in the world.
How a laboratory where scientists plan to study viruses like Ebola and Marburg ended up on a barrier island where hurricanes regularly wreak havoc puzzles some environmentalists and community leaders.
“It’s crazy, in my mind,” said Jim Blackburn, an environmental lawyer in Houston. “I just find an amazing willingness among the people on the Texas coast to accept risks that a lot of people in the country would not accept.”
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Pakistan quake kills 170, more deaths feared: officials

ZIARAT, Pakistan (AFP) — A powerful earthquake struck southwest Pakistan before dawn on Wednesday, killing at least 170 people, destroying mud homes and sending survivors screaming into the streets in panic.
At least eight villages were badly hit by the 6.4-magnitude quake , local police and officials said, warning the death toll could rise as rescue workers reached villages in the remote mountainous region bordering Afghanistan.
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Friday, October 17, 2008

Sacred Places

"Sacred places are as varied as the human sense of the sacred and as various as the world's many spiritual traditions. We explore the history, significance, and enduring power of places here and abroad that people consider most sacred."

By Winifred Gallagher from US News and World Report

The term "sacred places" summons images of legendary destinations—Egypt's Pyramids, St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, the al-Haram Mosque in Mecca—that have drawn pilgrims throughout history. Such structures are physical expressions of religion, from the Latin religare, meaning to "bind together"—institutions primarily meant for communal experience.
But there's a different sort of sanctuary, or temple, that fosters private spiritual contemplation, derived from the Indo-European root tem, meaning "to cut." These are the settings—some natural, some man-made—that you seek when you want to cut yourself off from humdrum reality, open yourself to greater possibilities, and remember what really matters. Only 40 percent of Americans attend weekly religious services, but 90 percent say they pray, and 75 percent say that they do so daily—statistics that suggest that off-the-grid sacred places are important to millions and millions of inner lives.
Go to Website

Please share your sacred locales by E-mailing: blog@iamamerica.com

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

'River of Sorrow' Floods Affecting Millions in India

By Rama Lakshmi
Washington Post Foreign Service

NEW DELHI, Sept. 2 -- Close to 2.5 million Indians remained stranded, homeless and hungry in flood-ravaged villages in the eastern part of the country Tuesday, 17 days after a river burst a dam in neighboring Nepal and changed course.
Heavy rains and the swelling waters of the Kosi, often called the "river of sorrow" and worshipped by local people, caused havoc in almost 1,000 villages in Bihar state. Panic-stricken people fled to higher ground, tree tops and cramped makeshift camps.
About 117 people are reported dead but officials in Bihar said that the death toll may rise dramatically as receding waters reveal more bodies.
Monsoon floods are an annual feature of Indian life, but some officials say that the damage has been catastrophic this year.
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Toward a Cosmic Karmic Correction

"Myths can and do change over time, and at this time in history, we are undergoing an upheaval every bit as profound as the uprooting of the Goddess and the seeding of patriarchy."

by Jan Phillips

Some of the greatest thinkers today are in agreement about the power of our consciousness to alter our circumstances. From biologists to business leaders, mystics to medical professionals, philosophers to philanthropists, people are speaking out about the role of our thoughts in the unfolding of our realities. And the world of quantum physics is seeding our fertile mindscapes with findings that propel us beyond all known imaginings.
According to Physicist Menas Kafatos,"Nature has shown us that our concept of reality, consisting of units that can be considered as separate from each other, is fundamentally wrong."
Since we are composed of cells, molecules, atoms and sub-atomic particles, this makes each of us part of one indivisible whole, interconnected and interdependent.
This is hard to put our minds around since we have constructed a society based on myths of duality and separation. Myths are the great overarching stories that we are born into-stories that help us know our place, understand our nature. Myths bridge our local consciousness with Mind at Large and the images they give us reflect our relationship to the eternal, to the earth, and to each other.
The myths of dismissal from the Garden, separation from the Divine, and murdering brothers have been the inheritance of Western civilization and they have had an impact on the creation of our society, just as the Goddess myth had an impact on our Neolithic ancestors and the creation of their society. But myths can and do change over time, and at this time in history, we are undergoing an upheaval every bit as profound as the uprooting of the Goddess and the seeding of patriarchy.
"Humanity is being taken to the place where it will have to choose between suicide and adoration," wrote the Jesuit paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin. The fate of the world, of every child in the world, is in the hands of those of us who populate it, and we are each at that choice point. It is time to think anew, to weave the findings of science--of our true interconnectedness, our profound and universal indivisibility--into new myths and stories that feed our souls and inspire acts of adoration.
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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Dimming the Sun

New evidence has masked the full impact of global warming suggests the world may soon face a heightened climate crisis.

In the early 21st century, it's become clear that air pollution can significantly reduce the amount of sunlight reaching Earth, lower temperatures, and mask the warming effects of greenhouse gases. Climate researcher James Hansen estimates that "global dimming" is cooling our planet by more than a degree Celsius (1.8°F) and fears that as we cut back on the pollution that contributes to dimming, global warming may escalate to a point of no return. Regrettably, in terms of possibly taking corrective action, our current understanding of global dimming has been a long time in the coming, considering the first hints of the phenomenon date back to 18th-century observations of volcanic eruptions.
Go to Nova's Dimming the Sun Website

Scientists fear impact of Asian pollutants on U.S.

By LES BLUMENTHAL
McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON -- From 500 miles in space, satellites track brown clouds of dust, soot and other toxic pollutants from China and elsewhere in Asia as they stream across the Pacific and take dead aim at the western U.S.
A fleet of tiny, specially equipped unmanned aerial vehicles, launched from an island in the East China Sea 700 or so miles downwind of Beijing, are flying through the projected paths of the pollution taking chemical samples and recording temperatures, humidity levels and sunlight intensity in the clouds of smog.
On the summit of 9,000-foot Mt. Bachelor in central Oregon and near sea level at Cheeka Peak on Washington state's Olympic Peninsula, monitors track the pollution as it arrives in America.
By some estimates more than 10 billion pounds of airborne pollutants from Asia - ranging from soot to mercury to carbon dioxide to ozone - reach the U.S. annually. The problem is only expected to worsen: Some Chinese officials have warned that pollution in their country could quadruple in the next 15 years.
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China quake kills 27, destroys 180,000 homes

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese rescue teams carrying tents, quilts and sacks of rice rushed Sunday to reach survivors of an earthquake that killed at least 27 people, turned tens of thousands of homes into rubble and cracked reservoirs.
The 6.1-magnitude quake struck Sichuan province on Saturday along the same fault line as the May 12 earthquake that killed nearly 70,000.
Dozens of evacuees were assembled on a primary school field in Panzhihua, footage from state broadcaster China Central Television showed. Wrapped in quilts, the evacuees, including children and the elderly, lay on plastic sheets and mats on the ground.
Saturday's quake killed 22 people in Sichuan and five in the neighboring province of Yunnan, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing the Ministry of Civil Affairs. The quake damaged major bridges and cracked three reservoirs, the agency said.
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Deadly Gustav Assaults Cuba

HAVANA, Aug. 30 -- Gustav slammed into Cuba's tobacco-growing western tip as a monstrous Category 4 hurricane Saturday, while tens of thousands of Cubans scrambled to flee the path of the fast-growing storm.
Forecasters said Gustav hit Cuba's mainland after passing over its Isla de la Juventud province, where screaming 150 mph winds toppled telephone poles and mango and almond trees, and peeled back the tin roofs of homes.
Isla de la Juventud civil defense chief Ana Isla said there were "many people injured" but no reports of deaths on the island of 87,000 people south of mainland Cuba. She said nearly all its roads were washed out and that some regions were heavily flooded.
Cuba's top meteorologist, José Rubiera, said the hurricane's massive center hit the country's mainland near the community of Los Palacios in Pinar del Rio -- a region that produces much of the tobacco used to make Cuba's famed cigars. There, the storm knocked down power lines, shattered windows and blew the roofs off some small homes.
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New Orleans Mayors Warns of 'Storm of the Century'

ABC News

Resident Larry Denny Won't Evacuate, Says 'Someone Has to Protect My Home'

But for Denny's wife Charlotte, excuses about the levees readiness are not good enough.
"If those levees don't hold, it will be the end [for New Orleans]," said Charlotte. "We are hanging on by our fingernails."
"I went to Hoover Dam and I didn't see any leaks; why should our levees be leaking?" said Denny. "It's terrifying."
The predicted wind speeds, said Nagin, are yet another aspect of the storm that he says the city simply cannot beat.
"There is not a building in this city rated above 150 mph [in wind resistance]," said Nagin.
In the Lower Ninth Ward, one of the areas hit the hardest during Katrina, most residents had already fled town -- not willing to take the same risk at the Denny family and others like them who were determined to stay for the storm.
The Lower Ninth Ward seemed like a ghost town, other than a few stragglers still packing cars -- and one man simply walking down the street crying and screaming, "Why are you doing this to me?" It was clear that the area was listening to Nagin's warnings.
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Thursday, August 21, 2008

What if our enlightenment has to do with light?

Over the past year I have heard numerous contemporary spiritual teachers, such as Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, and Marianne Williamson, predict a profound shift in consciousness accompanied with an evolution to the next stage of humanity.
Where? When? How? I wanted to know. Could it be the fervor of an election year and promise of change? Could it be related to the intriguing prophecies of 2012 which predict a major transformation?
But then, like Goldilocks, something felt “just right” when I read Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation (August issue of Ode) What if our enlightenment has to do with light?

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Go to: Democratic Energy, Every car, home or landowner will become an electricity producer at the same time. Away with dependence on oil and electricity companies!

Eco communities: Living the green life

By Mark Tutton for CNN

LONDON, England (CNN) -- The term "eco community" might conjure up an image of bearded hippies tending an allotment before sharing a mung bean stew. But as today's urbanites become more concerned about reducing their carbon footprints, some are finding that modern eco communities offer them a way to live sustainably without foregoing their home comforts.
Communities that put an emphasis on green values range from isolated eco villages to sophisticated co-housing projects.
Co-housing was dreamed up in Denmark in the idealistic 60s. It allows residents to live in communities where they own their own homes but are actively involved in running their own neighborhoods, which often include a common house where shared dining and other activities are an option.
Sarah Berger, from the UK Co-housing Network, told CNN, "More and more people keep contacting us about getting involved in co-housing communities -- there's an unquenchable thirst for this sort of thing."
As well as co-housing being widespread in Europe, the U.S. Co-housing Association claims there are more than 150 co-housing communities in the U.S.

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Earth's warming threatens Alaska's vast forests

Here in a 13,700-year-old peat bog, ecologist Ed Berg reaches into the moss and pulls out more evidence of the drastic changes afoot due to the Earth's warming climate.
Rooting through a handful of mossy duff, Dr Berg, an ecologist for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, shows remains of shrubs and other plants taking hold over the last 30 years in a patch of ground that has long been too soggy for woody plants to grow.
In other words, the ground is drying out, and the peat bog is turning into forest.
"There has been a big change," Dr Berg said. "Core samples taken from the bog show moss nearly 22 feet under the ground, with no sign of trees or shrubs growing here for centuries. In 50 years, the bog could be covered by black spruce trees."
Records indicate that Alaska has already experienced the largest regional warming of any US state - an average five degrees Fahrenheit since the 1960s and about eight degrees Fahrenheit in the interior of the state during winter months.

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Sloshing Inside Earth Changes Protective Magnetic Field

By Jeremy Hsu

Something beneath the surface is changing Earth's protective magnetic field, which may leave satellites and other space assets vulnerable to high-energy radiation.
The gradual weakening of the overall magnetic field can take hundreds and even thousands of years. But smaller, more rapid fluctuations within months may leave satellites unprotected and catch scientists off guard, new research finds.
A new model uses satellite data from the past nine years to show how sudden fluid motions within the Earth's core can alter the magnetic envelope around our planet. This represents the first time that researchers have been able to detect such rapid magnetic field changes taking place over just a few months.

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Magnitude 4.5 earthquake shakes eastern Japan

TOKYO, Japan (Reuters) - A earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.5 jolted eastern Japan on Wednesday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
The quake, at 3:13 p.m. (2:13 a.m. EDT), was felt in Tokyo.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage and no tsunami warning was issued.

Earthquake hits Yunnan, south-west China

An earthquake has hit the Yunnan province in south-west China, state media has reported. The quake has knocked down buildings and forced the evacuation of 1,200 people. There are currently no reports of any casualties. The US Geological Survey claims the epicentre was 140 miles west of Dali, in Yunnan and 40 miles south east of Myitkyina in Burma. The earthquake was recorded at a magnitude of 5.3 and at a depth of 8.5km.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Climate Change: Antarctic Fossils Paint Picture Of Much Warmer Continent

"The international team of scientists headed by David Marchant, an earth scientist at Boston University and Allan Ashworth and Adam Lewis, geoscientists at North Dakota State University, combined evidence from glacial geology, paleoecology, dating of volcanic ashes and computer modeling, to report a major climate change centered on 14 million years ago."

ScienceDaily (Aug. 6, 2008) — National Science Foundation-funded scientists working in an ice-free region of Antarctica have discovered the last traces of tundra--in the form of fossilized plants and insects--on the interior of the southernmost continent before temperatures began a relentless drop millions of years ago.
An abrupt and dramatic climate cooling of 8 degrees Celsius, over a relatively brief period of geological time roughly 14 million years ago, forced the extinction of tundra plants and insects and transformed the interior of Antarctica into a perpetual deep-freeze from which it has never emerged.

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Mind set: Earth purifies self?

by Julie Redstone
It may be difficult for us to imagine how the earth, which appears to us to be a solid mass of complexly interrelated parts, may be having an intention to purify and can be undergoing a process we normally associate with human beings on a spiritual path. And even if it is true of the planetary body, we may well wonder how this happens and how it can affect weather patterns. The ‘Great Purification’ of the earth has been spoken of by the Hopi and by other indigenous people as the prelude to a great transition of life and consciousness that the planet shall go through. This transition has also been prophesied within other ancient traditions as well as by individual seers. The purification to which those ancient ones refer is happening all around us. It is revealed in the altered weather patterns that are becoming commonplace around the globe. Today, in the mid-West of the United States where massive flooding is taking place, and not too long ago in the West where fires raged out of control, or in the South where hurricanes took their toll, weather patterns have become extreme, and people everywhere are saying: “I've never seen anything like this before.” Purification of the earth takes place through a shift in the energy configuration that regulates the relationship of impulses within the ‘nerve centre’ of the planetary body as they are transmitted throughout the biophysical system.

Violent storms spawn tornadoes in Chicago area

CHICAGO (AP) — Crews began cleaning up downed trees and restoring power across northern Illinois on Tuesday after a line of powerful storms ripped through the area, spawning at least two tornadoes.
The National Weather Service confirmed that tornadoes touched down in the Chicago suburbs of Bloomingdale and Bolingbrook late Monday. A third tornado touched down in Griffith, Ind.
A tornado and other high winds damaged 25 homes, including two left uninhabitable when winds ripped off parts of roofs, said Bolingbrook Assistant Fire Chief Robert Mierop. No one was injured.

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Death toll mounts from Pakistan floods, thousands displaced

The death toll from flash floods that hit parts of north and east Pakistan on Monday has risen to more than 100, according German news agency Deutsche Presse Agentur.
Most of the casualties were in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and neighbouring tribal areas near the Afghan border, where roofs collapsed and the flooding destroyed several hundred mud houses, DPA said, citing the Urdu-language Express newspaper. The Pakistani paper reported that 25 people died when three rescue boats capsized near Peshawar.
The head of the provincial flood warning centre at Izat Khan told Dawn newspaper that overflowing rivers had devastated an area with a radius of 15 to 18 km.

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Strong earthquake hits western China; 1 killed

BEIJING (AP) — A strong aftershock struck a western Chinese region where a May earthquake killed almost 70,000 people, shaking buildings a few hours after the Olympic torch relay passed through the area Tuesday. One person was killed and 23 injured.
The U.S. Geological Survey measured the quake at magnitude-6.0. It struck shortly before 6:00 p.m. local time and the USGS said the epicenter was 30 miles northwest of Guangyuan town in Sichuan province at a depth of 6 miles.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Answer Is Within the Individual

by Martin LeFevre
A friend wrote with a question that goes right to the heart of the human crisis: “In the negation of thought when we experience the still place within us, isn't this when the fragmentation [of humankind] has the potential to cease?”
The passive observation that characterizes methodless meditation initiates the unwilled negation of thought. Division and fragmentation then automatically end within one. That’s what I experience in my daily ‘practice’ of sittings and walks in nature here in northern California. First the observer/self falls away; then the dominance of thought in the brain falls away; and finally psychological time itself falls away.
On the individual level (not personal level, which is a very different thing), this is how I understand my friend’s question. But it also points to the much larger issue of ending the trajectory of human fragmentation on this earth, and the way (or rather, the negative way) that that can be achieved in human consciousness.

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Resolving the Riddle of Man

Los Angeles escapes earthquake relatively unscathed

"Los Angeles "dodged a bullet" by escaping a magnitude 5.4 earthquake shook California with little damage and few injuries, city officials said today. "

The quake shook southern California on Tuesday, spooking millions from Los Angeles to San Diego in a juddering reminder of the region's vulnerability to seismic shocks.
Buildings across the region swayed and shuddered, and many offices evacuated workers as a precaution following the quake, which was followed by 27 aftershocks and rattled buildings as far away as San Diego and Las Vegas.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, said the region had been lucky to avoid a major disaster.
"Thank God that there have not been any reports of serious injuries or damage to properties," Mr Schwarzenegger said. "This reminds us once again that in California we have to be prepared for anything and everything."

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Remake a Living: The jobs, my friend, are blowin' in the wind

As the hype about "green" jobs has grown, the wind-energy industry has done a pretty good job of reporting accurately on their job creation. Industry analysts estimate that wind energy currently employs about 50,000 domestic workers, both on-site at wind farms and down the chain of products and services needed to build, transport, install, and operate all those turbines.
The number of jobs is growing quickly, however, and wind companies could support as many as 500,000 jobs 20 years from now. That's according to a Department of Energy report that outlines a plan for the nation to get 20 percent of our electricity from wind power by 2030.
Think 20 percent by 2030 sounds far-fetched? The World Wind Power Association says that wind already provides 19 percent of electricity production in Denmark, 9 percent in Spain and Portugal, and 6 percent in Germany and Ireland. And they're not just blowing ... oh, never mind.

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Earthquake should be San Diego wake-up call

"Minster said geologists are especially concerned about the southern portion of the San Andreas fault, which extends roughly from the Salton Sea to Wrightwood. That portion usually breaks every 220 years or so but hasn't done so since 1680, he said."

Lots of county residents did – and it had nothing to do with meeting that someone special. The morning's 5.4 earthquake was centered well north, in San Bernardino County, but it still made buildings sway and pulses race throughout the San Diego region.
And it was a reminder that – even though we're pretty safe from hurricanes and tornadoes, and just about immune from blizzards and avalanches – the Southern California lifestyle can still be a shaky proposition.

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Creature feature: Dead zones vs. killer hurricanes

The seasonal low-oxygen "dead zone" off the coast of Louisiana and Texas didn't live up to the forecast as the largest in history. Instead, it was merely the second largest.
The reason appears to be that Hurricane Dolly swept through the area, stirring up and re-oxygenating the waters just before scientists could complete their annual survey."If it were not for Hurricane Dolly, the size of the dead zone would have been substantially larger," said Nancy Rabalais, director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. Nonetheless, she added, "an amazingly large area of [low-oxygen] hypoxia persisted."
R. Eugene Turner of Louisiana State University had predicted that the dead zone would be the largest ever recorded because of the 37% increase this year in fertilizer runoff -- a form of nitrogen, mostly -- that spilled out of the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers into the Gulf of Mexico.

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Dome collapses at Montserrat volcano; ash blasts into stratosphere

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Volcano monitors say the Caribbean's Montserrat volcano has blasted a column of ash some 12 kilometres high into the sky.
The director of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory says last night's collapse of a dome at the crater sent bursts of volcanic material sweeping down into the island's abandoned former capital of Plymouth and the sea.
The town was buried in a 1997 eruption that killed 19 people on the tiny Caribbean island.
Roderick Stewart says last night's the collapse occurred on the west side of the Soufriere Hills volcano.
The volcano spewed columns of ash thousands of metres into the sky over the weekend. It became active in 1995 and forced the departure of half of the island's inhabitants.

Geos, a Sustainable GeoSolar Community

Geos is a community located in Arvada, Colorado. With homes starting in the low $200,000, it is an affordable green community seeking status as the first fossil fuel free community in the United States. The homes combine the benefits of both geothermal and solar energy. Homes range from 850 to 3500+ square feet and include a variety of living options from live/work townhomes to single level flats.

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Geos Website

Monday, July 28, 2008

Kyoto, city against global warming, sees threat to gardens

KYOTO, Japan (AFP) — Kyoto, the city whose name is synonymous with the fight against global warming, is feeling the effects of climate change first-hand as the moss dries out in its celebrated gardens.
The ancient capital in western Japan was the venue for negotiations in 1997 that drafted the Kyoto Protocol, the landmark UN treaty that for the first time legally requires cuts in carbon emissions blamed for global warming.
But long before the treaty, Kyoto was also known for another sort of greenery -- a landscape studded with hundreds of historic temples, shrines and castles where the gardens are said to be in harmony with each season.
At Tenryu-ji temple, listed as a World Heritage site, the gates close to tourists at twilight to allow the Zen monks meditate in front of the garden to try to conquer their worldly desires.

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Floods kill 22 in Ukraine, 4 in Romania

KIEV (Reuters) - Floods in western Ukraine have killed 22 people, destroyed homes, farmland and roads and prompted the evacuation of 20,000 residents, officials said on Monday.
Television footage showed President Viktor Yushchenko wading knee-deep through village streets, visiting devastated homes and discussing action plans with local officials at the weekend.
Ukraine's cabinet was called into emergency session to discuss assistance and repair work. The National Security and Defense Council, chaired by the president, was also due to meet.
A senior government official at the weekend described the flooding as the worst in a century.
Water levels after five days of uninterrupted rain remained dangerously high on the Prut and Dnestr rivers. More than 40,000 homes were flooded.

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Two Alaskan Volcanoes Erupt, One In Chile Being Watched

Two volcanoes in Alaska are still erupting, while one in Chile that erupted on Saturday has stopped, although another one threatens to erupt again.
In Alaska both Mount Cleveland and the Okmok volcano are erupting, but seismic activity at the Okmok decreased Sunday after more activity was recorded beginning on Friday. While in Chile, the Llaima volcano erupted on Saturday, then stopped, while the Chaitén volcano there could be ready to erupt again.
Okmok is located on Umnak Island.
The United States National Weather Service on Sunday issued a 24-hour ash-fall advisory, which expires at noon Monday, for Umnak Island and the southwest part of Unalaska Island.
In Chile, authorities issued a state of alert for villages near the 9,400-foot Llaima volcano. It is one of Chile's most active and since 1640 it has had 38 large eruptions. Chaitén had a major eruption on May 2, forcing the evacuation of nearby villagers who still haven't returned.
Llaima is located 400 miles south of Santiago. Chaitén is located 745 miles south of Santiago.

Asteroid heading our way

Astronomers are battling to work out the trajectory of an asteroid that will cause havoc if it hits the Earth in 2036. Called Apophis, the giant meteor is hurtling through space at 10km per second. Scientists are warning that an impact would be far more devastating than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of WW2.
At the Zvenigorod Observatory near Moscow, space researchers keep watch on cosmic bodies and study known meteorites to understand their size and inner structure. They are tracking the path of the asteroid Apophis as well. They aim to determine how real the danger is but that will only be clear in a decade's time. Astronomer Sergey Barabanov explains the predicted course of events: “The critical moment will be in 2029, when Apophis passes so close to Earth that it will be visible to the naked eye. The consequence of this fly-by will tell us whether it will come back again and collide with us in 2036,” he said.

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New Piece Of Climate Change Puzzle Found In Ancient Sedimentary Rocks

ScienceDaily — University of Massachusetts Amherst researchers have added a new source of carbon dioxide to the complex climate change puzzle by showing that ancient rocks can release substantial amounts of organic matter into Earth’s rivers and oceans, and that this organic matter is easily converted by bacteria to carbon dioxide, which enters the atmosphere and contributes to climate change.
“Sedimentary rocks contain the largest mass of organic carbon on Earth, but these reservoirs are not well-integrated into modern carbon budgets” says Steven Petsch, a professor of geosciences. “Since we need to know the budget of the natural carbon cycle in order to determine human climate impacts, this information will lead to more accurate climate modeling.” The research was conducted by Petsch and UMass Amherst graduate student Sarah Schillawski.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Democrats: White House must publish 'chilling' climate change document

by Elana Schor
guardian.co.uk

The row over US inaction on carbon emissions reached new heights yesterday after the White House allowed Congress to look at last year's government proposal to officially deem climate change a threat to public health – a plan that aides to George Bush refused to acknowledge or read.
The climate plan was finished in December by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to a supreme court ruling that required the Bush administration to state whether carbon emissions should be regulated to protect public health.
The EPA concluded that regulation was needed, but whistleblowers have revealed that the White House ordered the agency to scrap its proposal. Democratic attempts to investigate the backroom dealings were stymied until this week, when senators were finally permitted a look at the plan.
The chairman of the Senate environment committee, California Democrat Barbara Boxer, released a summary of the proposal to reporters. Boxer was allowed to take notes on the plan but not given a copy.

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Go to EPA Website, Climate Change Health Facts, U. S. Regions

Monday, July 21, 2008

NSF Awards Grant to Track 'Space Weather' in Earth's Near-Space Environment

Global and real-time "space weather" observations of near-Earth space--and the solar storms that can knock out electric power grids--is about to happen for the first time, thanks to funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., have been awarded an NSF grant to perform an experiment called the Active Magnetosphere and Planetary Electrodynamics Response Experiment (AMPERE).
AMPERE will use the Iridium constellation of communications satellites to measure the electric currents that link Earth's atmosphere and space. By measuring this key component of the space weather system, AMPERE will allow 24/7 tracking of Earth's response to supersonic blasts of plasma ejected from the sun.
"Earth's space environment can completely reconfigure in as little as 30 minutes," says APL's Brian Anderson, lead scientist on AMPERE. "With a new ability to continually monitor these electric currents, we can track the transformations of our planet's space environment for the first time, and gain a new understanding of how Earth reacts to the sun."
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Ecovillages: Our way into the future

Eco-villages are people-based initiatives to model sustainable, low-impact, human settlements and lifestyles.
They are applicable to both rural and urban settings and accessible to all. Eco-villagers utilize green energy technology, ecological building techniques, and human-scale design to reduce exploitation of natural resources, facilitate community self-reliance, and improve quality of life.
It is about creating new settlements as well as retrofitting existing rural villages and urban areas. An eco-village is designed in harmony with its environment instead of the landscape being unduly engineered to fit construction plans. By thinking in terms of bioregions/ecosystem environments, sustainable settlements are planned considering water availability, the ability to grow food, and accessibility.
Ecovillages defined
In 1991, Robert Gilman one of the pioneers in the world ecovillage movement, set out a definition of an ecovillage that was to become a standard. Gilman defined an ecovillage as: Human scale, (somewhere where you can feel you know the neighbors in your community); fully-featured settlements, (comprising housing, businesses/livelihood, agriculture, culture, spiritual & educational development, as appropriate to the local setting); human activity is integrated harmlessly into the natural world; supports human development; can be continued into the indefinite future; and must have multiple centers of initiative.

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go to: Global Ecovillage Network

Icelandic Volcanoes Help Researchers Understand Potential Effects Of Eruptions

ScienceDaily (July 17, 2008) — For the first time, researchers have taken a detailed look at what lies beneath all of Iceland’s volcanoes – and found a world far more complex than they ever imagined.
They mapped an elaborate maze of magma chambers - work that could one day help scientists better understand how earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in Iceland and elsewhere in the world.
Knowing where magma chambers are located is a key first step to understanding the chemical composition of the molten rock that is flowing within them - and of the gases that are released when a volcano erupts, explained Daniel Kelley, doctoral student in earth sciences at Ohio State University.
Kelley and Michael Barton, professor of earth sciences at Ohio State, have determined that the volcanoes in Iceland are likely to have explosive eruptions that shoot debris far into the atmosphere. That’s because the magma moves very quickly to the surface from deep within the magma chambers. Fast-moving magma propels sulfur and ash out of a volcano and high into the atmosphere, where it can spread around the planet.

Strong earthquake jolts northern Japan

TOKYO (AFP) — A strong earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 jolted northern Japan on Monday, the US Geological Survey said, but there was no immediate reports of damage or casualties.
The undersea quake struck at 8:30 pm (1130 GMT) off the east coast of Japan's main island of Honshu, at a depth of 33 kilometres (20 miles).
The epicentre was located about 100 kilometres east of the city of Iwaki.

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Tropical Storm Dolly over Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula

CANCUN, Mexico: Tropical Storm Dolly was moving over the northern Yucatan Peninsula and about to enter the Gulf of Mexico on Monday, forecasters said.
Dolly was expected to strengthen once the center of the storm moves into the Gulf and it could be become a hurricane by Tuesday, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.
The storm lashed the peninsula with heavy rains and high winds. A tropical storm warning was in effect from Campeche, Mexico, to the Belize border.
Dolly could dump 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) of rain on the Yucatan, with up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) in isolated spots, the hurricane center said.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Earth Changes: Powerful earthquake hits Indian Ocean

NEW DELHI -- An earthquake of 6.7 magnitude has struck the Andaman Islands of India's east coast at 1140 GMT on Friday, Indian Meteorological Department said.
The epicenter, at 11.031 degrees north latitude and 91.906 degrees east latitude, is 115 kilometers southwest of Port Blair in Indian's Andaman Islands and 975 kilometers southwest of Thailand's capital Bangkok, US Geological Survey said.
No tsunami alert has been issued and there is no immediate reports of casaulties.
A powerful quake in the region in December 2004 triggered tsunami in the Indian Ocean, killing more than 200,000 people.

Volcanoes erupting beneath Arctic ice

Seafloor unexpectedly active, but scientists see no connection to ice loss

New evidence deep beneath the Arctic ice suggests that a series of underwater volcanoes have erupted in violent explosions in the past decade.
Hidden 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) beneath the Arctic surface, the volcanoes can range up to more than a mile (2 kilometers) in diameter and a few hundred yards (meters) tall. They formed along the Gakkel Ridge, a lengthy crack in the ocean crust where two rocky plates are spreading apart, pulling new melted rock to the surface.

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Garden Is a Seedbed for Green Cosmetics

"But WALA is based on a school of early 20th-century European philosophy known as anthroposophy. Developed by the Austrian theorist Rudolf Steiner, the philosophy is predicated on the existence of a spiritual world that can be accessed by the human intellect.
Mr. Steiner’s thinking was also influential in more down-to-earth matters. He championed biodynamic agriculture, a rigorous form of organic farming that shuns pesticides and uses no fertilizers that were not already present in the garden."


New York Times, by Mark Landler

ECKWÄLDEN, Germany — You know you are not in an ordinary garden when a man in dirt-covered trousers, tending witch-hazel plants, describes his work in words that could come from Nietzsche.
“It demands a higher level of consciousness and a force of will to garden at this level,” said Joscha Huter, 40, who cultivates the plants and flowers used to make the popular, expensive line of German natural cosmetics, Dr. Hauschka. “There’s a point where gardening becomes an art.”
There’s also a point where it becomes a crackerjack business: this rarefied garden in a southern German valley is the seedbed for an environmental marketing phenomenon that has captivated Hollywood.

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Creating the Next Society: Your Revolutionary Ideas Needed Now

"The Next Society will soon arrive, and it is up to us to decide what to make of it. (And get ready for a wild ride as we witness the historical collapse of the American Empire...)"

by Mike Adams

(NaturalNews) It's fairly obvious to anyone paying attention that the American Empire, as currently configured and operated, is simply not sustainable. Financial collapse is inevitable (and accelerating, it seems), and even mainstream America can no longer deny the obvious signs that things have gone terribly wrong: Skyrocketing fuel prices, unprecedented inflation in food prices, rampant epidemics of preventable degenerative disease, plummeting real estate prices, an increasingly-worthless national currency, disastrous war failures, rampant dishonesty in Washington, and accelerating climate changes that are causing flooding, crop failures, droughts and worse. It is becoming increasingly difficult for even the Pollyannas of the world to argue that the United States of America has a bright future. However, there's good news in all this. Really. What's the good news? Following the collapse of the American Empire, there will be a rare window of opportunity for radical reform where progressive, pioneering people like NaturalNews readers can play a significant role in creating what I call The Next Society.
What is The Next Society? It's the one that replaces the United States of America after the failure of this current system. It happens all the time through world history, of course: Failed attempts at living in community are replaced by new attempts. Democracy was one such attempt, and I still think Democracy could work. Too bad we don't one operating in the United States today. Instead, we only have the illusion of Democracy that's controlled by hacked voting machines, a corrupt media, and a corporate-controlled government agenda that, at every step, works against the interests of the People.

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Floods may push corn inventories to historical low

USDA to report acreage; analysts warn of $10 corn and possible supply crisis

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Recent Midwest flooding may have damaged millions of acres of corn crops, analysts expect the U.S. Department of Agriculture to say in its crop acreage report slated for release Monday.
The loss of acreage could slash U.S. corn production and push the 2009 season's year-end stocks to the lowest level since just after World War II, analysts said. And the real damage is likely to be even worse than what Monday's 8:30 a.m. EDT report will show, as it's still too early to evaluate the full impact of the flooding.
"The report is already obsolete," said Elaine Kub, a grains analyst at commodities-information provider DTN. Many acres could be abandoned at a later date and the acreage situation will be worse than the report sounds, she said.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Report: Economy vulnerable to increased climate change

The first report to assess observed and projected changes in weather and climate extremes for the U.S. was released Thursday by the government's Climate Change Science Program.
According to the report, significant changes in extreme weather events have been observed throughout the U.S., including unusually hot days and nights, fewer unusually cold days and nights, fewer frost days and more frequent and intense heavy downpours.
"The costs of unmitigated climate change -- whether counted in dollars or human well-being -- are too great to ignore. We must start addressing this problem with the seriousness and urgency it warrants and move swiftly to reduce emissions and develop and implement preparedness measures," said Richard Moss, vice president for climate change at World Wildlife Fund in D.C.
In response to severe flooding in the Midwest, President Bush is asking Congress for $1.8 billion in emergency aid -- roughly the entire annual federal budget for climate change research programs.

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Read the final report: Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate

Sustaining Arizona

Shaun McKinnon, The Arizona Republic

It's changing the way people live. And it's happening now, all across Arizona. Sustainability is a way of using earth's resources today in a way that protects them for the next genera-tion.The movement is a movement of people, not governments, not authorities, though officials are starting to catch on, too. The people are doing things that use resources — building homes and businesses — while thinking about preserving those resources for the future.This week, The Arizona Republic tells the stories of sustainability. This is how Arizonans are helping keep the air clean, keep the water flowing, keep the electricity on, keep the environment healthy for tomorrow. This is a tour of the state — from a power plant in Snowflake to a tour company in Sedona, from a rooftop garden in Scottsdale to a ranch in Apache Junction. This is also the story of a movement. This is how people everywhere are sustaining Arizona.

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go to: Global Institute of Sustainability

Reiki as consciousness

From Ode Magazine
The word 'energy' is bandied about so much these days. And it's highly relevant as it underlies life. It's important to also understand that there are different kinds of energy. Metabolic energy is what we use to fuel the physical body. There's psychic, emotional and mental energy. Then there's healing energy.
Even if we were to understand Reiki purely on energetic terms, the distinction still needs to be made that Reiki is spiritual energy, or rather a way to tap into it. What might that be? It's the all-encompassing, overarching common denominator.
Energy is undeniable and there is an energetic manifestation of Reiki. Before that aspect can be experienced and effective, however, a subtler causal level acts as a backdrop.
This backdrop is nondual consciousness. Nothing has separated or differentiated from it yet. It is One and all-pervading. This consciousness has no distinctions of subject/object, mind/matter, words/concepts, or space/time.

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Thunderstorms spark more than 75 wildfires in Northern California

"Thunderstorms sparked as many as 75 wildfires in a wilderness area in far Northern California on Saturday as officials farther south got close to containing a blaze that destroyed several homes and forced thousands to evacuate."

Storms overnight Friday were responsible for the large number of fires in Shasta-Trinity National Forest, near Redding. Those fires range in size from less than an acre (0.4 hectare) to more than 750 acres (304 hectares).
None immediately threatened homes, said Forest Service spokesman Michael Odle. Teams moved in Saturday on the two largest fires. South of San Francisco, a fire that burned homes and closed a stretch of highway was 90 percent contained, said officials of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Officials had expected full containment on Saturday, but hot weather and stubborn hot spots kept fire crews busy. Cal Fire now expects the fire to be fully contained on Sunday. So far, it had charred 630 acres (255 hectares), or less than a square mile (2.59 sq. kilometer).

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The Unluckiest Town in America

by Steven Gray, Time Magazine

It was early evening in Grand Tower, Ill., and Josh Franklin, 23, was standing outside his aunt's double-wide trailer. He'd like to move away from this community of 585 people to Carbondale, a college town about half an hour's drive to the north. But he can't afford to. Grand Tower isn't much of anyplace anymore. Its last restaurant closed shortly after the great flood of 1993. There isn't a bookstore. Don't even ask about wi-fi access. "If we get a major flood," he says, "it's all over. A lot of small towns, they've just disappeared. We're going to be next." The floods are certainly coming. And who knows when the next big earthquake will hit, since the town sits within the New Madrid Seismic Zone, one of the continent's most violent.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mass Extinctions Due to Sea Level Changes, Study Says

John Roach for National Geographic News

The rise and fall of the seas may have a more lethal toll on Earth's life than asteroids and supervolacanoes, according to a new study.
Over the past 540 million years, every increase in the rate of extinctions—including so-called mass extinctions—are linked to environmental changes wrought by changing sea levels.
Only some space-rock impacts and super volcanoes, on the other hand, are clearly linked to mass-extinction events, researchers say.
"To me, that is pretty striking," study leader Shanan Peters, a geologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, said.
"[It] doesn't mean [sea level changes are] the only control, but it means that there is a statistical first-order predictability to the system that comes out at these turnovers in shallow marine settings."
The research is relevant today, as what many scientists are calling the sixth mass extinction gets underway. The current elevated rate of extinctions may be due to human-induced global warming experts say.

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Levee breaks as Midwest flood damage mounts

By Nick Carey
QUINCY, Illinois (Reuters) - Hundreds of volunteers on the surging Mississippi River piled sandbags atop strained levees on Tuesday as the worst Midwest flooding in 15 years delivered a blow to the U.S. economy and world food prices.
A levee broke in Gulfport, Illinois, sending muddy waters from the most important U.S. waterway cascading into nearby farmland and a few homes. No one was injured but authorities closed the bridge across the river to Burlington, Iowa.
Corn and soybean prices stayed near record levels as millions of acres of cropland have been lost or damaged in the world's largest grain exporter. Meat prices also soared, in line with the costs for feeding cattle, hogs and chickens.

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Flooding in China Kills Dozens

New York Times
SHANGHAI — Torrential rains that have caused some of the worst flooding in 50 years and killed scores of people continued to batter a huge swath of southern China on Tuesday near one of the biggest manufacturing zones in the country.
The government said the storms and floods had killed at least 63 people over the past week, left 13 missing and affected more than 17 million people in nine southern provinces. The high waters have also inundated about 5.4 million acres of cropland, set off landslides, damaged roads and bridges and forced more than 1.5 million people to flee their homes in southern and central provinces.

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How the floods will hurt the economy

"Beyond the human tragedy, the flooding in Iowa and other parts of the Midwest may also lead to higher food prices and lower exports."

By Chris Isidore, CNNMoney.com senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The flooding in Iowa over the last week has been a tremendous human tragedy for many in the Hawkeye state.
But it appears that the heavy rains will also have an impact that reaches far beyond the Midwest. Nationwide, consumers are likely to see higher grocery prices into next year due to disruptions in corn production. That could be another blow to an economy that's already reeling in part because of inflation fears.
Corn futures hit a record intra-day high on Monday as traders tried to estimate the damage to the corn harvest.
Iowa alone is estimated to have lost between 1 million and 3 million acres of corn production. That's about 7% to 21% of the overall production by the nation's top corn producing state.


33,000-acre wildfire burning in Monterey County nearly 50 percent contained

A wildfire that has burned for more than a week and consumed 33,305 acres of the Los Padres National Forest in Monterey County is nearly 50 percent contained, fire officials reported Monday.
Investigators believe the Indians Fire, burning mainly within the Ventana Wilderness about 14 miles west of King City, started from an escaped campfire around 12:30 p.m. June 8, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Steep terrain, limited access, heavy fuels and dry, gusty winds are making the fight against the fire difficult and there is no estimated time when the fire will be fully contained.
The blaze has cost approximately $12.2 million to combat, according to the Forest Service.

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Health officials watching fast spread of West Nile

SACRAMENTO—California health officials are concerned about the discovery of 133 birds in 18 counties this year that have died of West Nile virus.
At this time last year, they had found only 33 West Nile-infected dead birds in 12 counties.
While there have been no human cases reported so far, Department of Health spokeswoman Suanne Buggy says officials are closely monitoring the virus' spread. Humans contract the virus through mosquito bites.
A spokeswoman for the Sacramento-Yolo monitoring region, Luz Maria Rodriguez, says she was surprised when a dead bird with the virus was found so early in the season—in March.
The mosquito season is temperature-dependent, but usually lasts from about April to September.

Astronomers find 'super Earths' circling a star

WASHINGTON (AP) — European astronomers have found a trio of "super-Earths" closely circling a star that astronomers once figured had nothing orbiting it, demonstrating that planets keep popping up in unexpected places.
Monday's announcement is the first time three planets close to Earth's size were found orbiting a single star, said Swiss astronomer Didier Queloz. He was part of the Swiss-French team using the European Southern Observatory's La Silla Observatory in the desert in Chile.
The mass of the smallest of these super-Earths is about four times the size of Earth. That may seem like a lot, but they are quite a bit closer in size and likely composition to Earth than our solar system's giants — Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. They are much too hot to support life, Queloz said.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sub-Humans, Humans, and Human Beings

Earth Changes Evolve Human Consciousness

"When glaciers descended upon Europe and Asia, the proto-humans living there evolved adaptations for colder climates, including short, massive limbs, and huge chests and noses. Neanderthal brains also increased in size, and actually became larger than our own, though their cognitive and linguistic abilities were not as advanced as modern humans."

by Martin LeFevre

New findings and nuanced theories have been coming out recently regarding the clash in Europe between Neanderthals and the first fully modern humans, the Cro Magnons, tens of thousands of years ago. These findings speak of the last great breakthrough in human evolution, highlight the darkest impulses in human nature, and point to the next, urgently required leap in consciousness.

When the Cro Magnons encountered the Neanderthals in Europe over 40,000 years ago, it was a clash between the primal human consciousness, which had existed for hundreds of thousands of years, and modern human consciousness. Undoubtedly there was conflict, just as there has been between groups of Homo sapiens ever since.

After all, throughout history when Homo sapiens encounter unfamiliar groups, they most often were (and still are) perceived as sub-human. Imagine then what an encounter between humans and actual sub-humans must have been like!

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Zimbabwe: Country At Risk of Climate Change Effects

by Sifelani Tsiko

ZIMBABWE is suffering more from the impact of global warming like most other countries in Africa signalling the burden of climate change risks to be felt more by the poor in the near future.
In a paper presented at a three-day regional workshop on Trade and Development, Agro-Biodiversity and Food Security, Ms Mutsa Chasi of the Environmental Management Agency said Zimbabwe is now experiencing an unprecedented series of extreme weather events which have serious implications on food security and the economy as a whole.
She revealed that six warmest years on record for Zimbabwe have occurred since 1987 and that the increased frequency of droughts since 1990... is causing massive drop in crop yields in the country's agricultural sector.

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Thousands flee Chile floods

Four people have died and 5,000 have been forced out of their homes in south central Chile due to flooding. Rivers burst their banks on Thursday as heavy rain fell around the port area of Valparaiso.

Two of the dead lost their lives in landslides, a third was hit by a boulder and the fourth by a falling tree. Roads were impassable after more than 90mm of rain fell in a 24-hour period.

Hundreds of people were displaced into temporary shelters. Others found refuge with neighbouring friends and relatives. There was further flooding in the Maule region south of the capital, Santiago, an important area for agriculture. Here, the Lontue river burst its banks.

Heavy rains are an annual occurrence and frequently cause floods during the autumn.

At least 6 die in Colombia earthquake

BOGOTA -- At least six people, including two children, were killed when a 5.5-magnitude earthquake jolted central Colombia Saturday afternoon, authorities said.
The earthquake occurred in Meta province at 14:21 local time (1921 GMT), and its epicenter was at a depth of 3.9 km, Colombia's seismological administration said.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake's epicenter was at 54 kilometers east-southeast of Bogota at a depth of 10 kilometers.

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Tornadoes tear through Oklahoma

ABC News
Severe weather is sweeping across the US Midwest, spawning devastating tornados.
Emergency officials are currently assessing the damage in north-western Oklahoma where several tornadoes touched down earlier today.
The American National Weather Service says severe storms are likely to hit southern Oklahoma in the coming hours.
Weather forecasters say at least a dozen tornadoes hit the state of Kansas yesterday, destroying numerous homes and injuring several people.
Kansas flower shop owner Bob Kuntz described the scene as a twister touched down near his store.
"When it would hit a farmstead you could see all this debris going in the air and it was like half a mile wide, this tornado. And it had little ones coming down inside of it feeding the way it looked, and it just kept getting bigger."

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Measuring sustainability in a Sicilian eco-village

Note: Emergy analysis (spelled with an “m”) is an environmental accounting method.

There is growing interest amongst both local communities and policy makers in improving the sustainability of local communities. However, developing accurate measures of sustainability has been problematic because a wide range of parameters need to be considered, from energy use through to monetary flows. New research shows that 'emergy' analysis can be applied to evaluate the sustainability of a small rural community.
Emergy analysis can be used to measure all inputs of energy and resources used to develop a given product or process. This includes both current and historical inputs as well as direct and indirect inputs into the product or process. To allow comparison between different types of energy inputs, all energy flows are converted into a single form of energy, such as solar energy.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Early Mars Had Floods, Yellowstone-Like Hot Springs

Ancient Floods and Earth Changes Holds Key to Understanding Mars

Anne Minard for National Geographic News

The formation of an Idaho canyon thousands of years ago has given scientists a clearer picture of how water sculpted the surface of Mars.
The chasm in the western United States has a shape once thought to be characteristic of slower, sustained groundwater flows, but new research suggests that was carved by ancient torrential floods.
Comparable canyons on Mars may share a similarly violent history, scientists at the University of California at Berkeley say.

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Unusual spring weather causes violent tornadoes

"He compared Thursday’s tornado to the 1990 Limon twister, an F3 funnel with winds of 150-200 miles per hour."

By Lisa Coalwell--The Reporter-Herald

“We didn’t see it coming,” meteorologist Don Day Jr. said.
Day spent Thursday afternoon explaining to reporters the forces that created Thursday’s tornadoes.
“We would not have been surprised if there were thunderstorms, or even a tornado, but nothing of this magnitude,” said Day of DayWeather in Cheyenne, Wyo. “This is something you would see in Tornado Alley, not in Northern Colorado.”
According to Day, the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center early Thursday identified northeastern Colorado as having potential severe weather, but maps showed the worst activity to the southeast.
“Northern Colorado was in the ‘slight’ potential zone — which can be pretty severe in itself — right on the edges of the ‘severe’ zone,” Day said. “They thought northwestern Kansas would get the worst of it.”
Although the intensity of the wedge-shaped tornado that devastated Windsor neighborhoods won’t be determined until a National Weather Service team studies the damage over the next few days, Day estimated the Windsor tornado could be an F2 or F3, on a scale from 0 to 5.

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Northern Californians watch homes burn

(CNN) -- A fast-moving wildfire in Northern California's Santa Cruz Mountains has covered 3,000 acres Friday, prompting rescues and evacuations in two counties, officials said.
The fire began before dawn Thursday and has burned at least 12 homes and threatened about 500 homes and 20 businesses, said Chris Morgan of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
No injuries were reported.
The blaze, known as the Summit Fire, was fanned by high winds and fueled by dry brush and trees.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Disaster Earthquake Scenario Unveiled For Southern California

"...the Shakeout Scenario is based on scientists' best predictions of what would actually occur during and after a major earthquake on the San Andreas Fault."

ScienceDaily (May 22, 2008) — Scientists have unveiled a hypothetical Scenario describing how a magnitude 7.8 Southern California earthquake -similar to the recent earthquake in China- would impact the region, causing loss of lives and massive damage to infrastructure, including critical transportation, power, and water systems.
In the Scenario, the earthquake would kill 1800 people, injure 50,000, cause $200 billion in damage, and have long-lasting social and economic consequences. This is the most comprehensive analysis ever of what a major Southern California earthquake would mean, and is the scientific framework for what will be the largest earthquake preparedness drill in California history, scheduled for November 13, 2008.

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Go to report: Shake-Out Scenario by the USGS

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Fiery Extinction

A new theory posits massive oil fires led to the dinos' demise
By Matt Ransford

What exactly killed the dinosaurs? One of the most popular theories holds that the extinction event was driven by an asteroid collision. Evidence for the theory can be found in a thin layer of iridium in what's known as the K-T boundary, a (similarly thin) layer of sediment in the ground which marks where the surface of the Earth was 65 million years ago. Iridium is common in asteroids and not common on Earth. Its presence in the sediment would indicate an impact and release of the material. What happened next is still a matter of debate.
Did the collision kick up a tremendous cloud of dust and debris which ultimately blocked out the sun? Or start a massive forest fire whose CO2 release literally cooked life to death?

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Buddhahood is peak of consciousness

Gautama Buddha is the scientist of both the inner world and of religion; a rare combination. To be religious is simple, to be a scientist is simple — but to synthesise these two polarities is incredible. There are three approaches towards truth: of power, of beauty, and of grandeur. The scientific approach is the search for power. Science has made man very powerful, so much so that man can destroy planet earth. For the first time in the history of consciousness man is capable of committing global suicide, collective suicide. Science is continuously searching for more and more power. This, too, is an approach towards truth, but a partial approach.
Then there are poets, mystics, people with aesthetic sense. They look at truth as beauty as did Jalaludin Rumi, Rabindranath Tagore and others. They create much art, new sources of beauty in the world. The painter, poet, dancer, musician, they also approach truth from a totally different dimension than power. The scientist works with analysis, reason, observation. The poet functions through the heart. He has nothing to do with mind and reason.

Six million children threatened by Ethiopia drought: UN

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — A severe drought in Ethiopia threatens up to six million children, the United Nations children's agency warned on Tuesday.
"Up to six million children under five years of age are living in impoverished, drought-prone districts and require continuation of urgent preventive health and nutrition interventions," UNICEF said in a statement.
The agency added that 126,000 children were already suffering from severe malnutrition and needed urgent therapeutic care.
In addition to some eight million people characterised as "food insecure" and supported by a government programme, aid agencies are warning that over 3.4 million people require food aid in several central and southern regions.

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N.M. Tech team studying lightning at Chilean volcano

SOCORRO, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Tech scientists are in Chile, working to track lightning in an ash plume from the Chaiten volcano, which began erupting May 2 after thousands of years of silence.
"Our business is studying thunderstorms and how they produce lightning," Tech physics professor Paul Krehbiel said. "Volcanoes do the same thing, in essence. We call it a dirty thunderstorm because the plume is full of dirt, rock, ash and other particles."
Tech scientists will study the path of lightning in the plume to gain understanding of how electrical activity is transmitted from the Earth into the atmosphere.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Sky Is Falling

The odds that a potentially devastating space rock will hit Earth this century may be as high as one in 10. So why isn’t NASA trying harder to prevent catastrophe?

by Gregg Easterbrook, from the Atlantic Monthly

Breakthrough ideas have a way of seeming obvious in retro­spect, and about a decade ago, a Columbia University geophysicist named Dallas Abbott had a breakthrough idea. She had been pondering the craters left by comets and asteroids that smashed into Earth. Geologists had counted them and concluded that space strikes are rare events and had occurred mainly during the era of primordial mists. But, Abbott realized, this deduction was based on the number of craters found on land—and because 70 percent of Earth’s surface is water, wouldn’t most space objects hit the sea? So she began searching for underwater craters caused by impacts rather than by other forces, such as volcanoes. What she has found is spine-chilling: evidence that several enormous asteroids or comets have slammed into our planet quite recently, in geologic terms. If Abbott is right, then you may be here today, reading this magazine, only because by sheer chance those objects struck the ocean rather than land.

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New Earth Rising: Hope for a New Global Dream

by Dr. Glen Barry

EARTH MEANDERS

Sufficient and workable individual and social solutions exist for the wide range of ecological, economic, social and personal ills facing the biosphere and humanity; and together they could herald in a new era of global ecological sustainability.
Long predicted Earth crises -- including climate change, water shortages, abject poverty, extreme weather, food shortages, over-population, biological homogenization, energy scarcity, diminished oceans, political instability and endless resource wars -- are unfolding as expected, and are converging into a new global ecological crisis of unprecedented magnitude. The fundamental root cause of this global crisis is that humans are destroying ecosystems necessary for all life.Humanity has met and surpassed ecological limits. Failure to develop and implement profound personal and social change, adequate to respond to global ecosystems in mid-collapse, will have profound negative consequences for vast numbers of global citizens who are unable to meet basic needs including food, water, housing, education and health care. The task of our and all time is to find and implement sufficient solutions for the wide range of ills facing the biosphere and humanity. Ongoing arguments whether personal virtue or social enlightenment are the best strategies to promote are mute as frankly things are dire and we need lots of both.

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Antarctic Ice Bubbles Show CO2, Methane, at 800,000-Year Highs

From the the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica
By Alex Morales

May 14 (Bloomberg) -- Ancient air bubbles trapped in Antarctica's ice have revealed that levels of carbon dioxide and methane in the Earth's atmosphere are at their highest in 800,000 years, two studies in the journal Nature said.
Analysis of a 3.3-kilometer (2.1-mile) ice core extended the existing record of atmospheric greenhouse gases by 150,000 years and showed that concentrations of CO2 and methane fluctuated within bands well below today's levels, Thomas Stocker, a co- author of both papers, said in a phone interview.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Human consciousness, intelligence may suddenly shift

by Steve Hammons

"Natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic activity and powerful storms are also occurring in devastating ways, causing loss of life and human suffering. Global climate change with melting polar ice, rising sea levels, impacts on agriculture, fresh water supplies and other outcomes could also be very damaging... Human consciousness is a key element..."

Many researchers have hypothesized and attempted to prove that human consciousness is undergoing significant change.This alleged change is not just increased intellectual knowledge or even social networking via the internet and other mass media.Rather, people from diverse fields including, but not limited to, various sciences, education, defense and intelligence communities, psychology and spirituality have conducted research about the fundamental nature of individual and group changes in human consciousness.That is, our individual awareness is purported to be increasingly linked with a larger energy or field in terms of quantum physics theories, spiritual concepts and Nature in ways we may not fully understand at this time.

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Mapping the earthquake zone

Nearly 15,000 people have died in the devastating earthquake that hit China's Sichuan province on Monday. Click on the map to find out more about some of the worst-affected places.

Go to Map and Article

Huge study documents changes from climate warming

By Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
A landmark new climate study released today reports that global warming is already changing the life cycles of thousands of animals and plants — as well as hundreds of physical systems — worldwide.
It documents rapid glacier melts in North America, South America and Europe; trees and plants sprouting leaves much earlier in the spring in Europe, Asia and North America; permafrost melting in Asia; and changes in bird migration patterns across Europe, North America and Australia, all in response to rising global temperatures.
While previous studies have looked at single phenomena or smaller areas, this is a new analysis on a continental scale looking at data that had not been previously assembled together in one spot, says lead author Cynthia Rosenzweig, a scientist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Huge Earthquake Hits Central China

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake has struck the central Chinese province, Sichuan. Initial reports say between 3,000 to 5,000 people are known dead, with official Chinese media predicting the death toll will continue to rise. VOA's Stephanie Ho reports from Beijing.
The large earthquake struck after midday. The epicenter was 90 kilometers from the Sichuan provincial capital, Chengdu.
The Vice-Director of the Sichuan Earthquake Bureau, Deng Changwen, spoke to China Central TV by phone.
He said the large earthquake cut all communication to the disaster area, hampering official attempts to determine the real situation.
In one example, the official Xinhua News Agency says more than 900 students were buried when their high school collapsed in Dujiangyan, about 100 kilometers from the quake's epicenter.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao immediately flew to the affected areas, to oversee disaster relief efforts. He said Chinese government leaders will stand at the front lines of disaster relief work and unite with the people to overcome what he called a "very large disaster."

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