U.N. says world in dire straits
October 25, 2007 07:42 PM - Jeremy Lovell
LONDON (Reuters) - Two decades after a landmark report sounded alarm bells about the state of the planet and called for urgent action to change direction, the world is still in dire straits, a U.N. agency said on Thursday.
While the U.N. Environment Program's fourth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-4) says action has been successfully taken in some regions and on some problems, the overall picture is one of sloth and neglect.
"The global trends on climate, on ozone, on indeed ecosystem degradation, fisheries, in the oceans, water supplies ... are still pointing downwards," UNEP head Achim Steiner said in a short film accompanying the report's release.
Agricultural soil erosion not adding to global warming
October 25, 2007 06:45 PM - University of California, Davis
Davis, California - Agricultural soil erosion is not a source of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, according to research published online today (October 25) in the journal Science. The study was carried out by an international team of researchers from UC Davis, the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, and the University of Exeter in the U.K. Carbon emissions are of great concern worldwide because they, and other greenhouse gases, trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere and are a major cause of global climate change.
Huge Ash Cloud as Indonesia's Mount Soputan Erupts
October 25, 2007 08:13 AM - Reuters
JAKARTA - Mount Soputan volcano on the northern tip of Indonesia's Sulawesi island has erupted, throwing columns of ash 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) into the air, an official said on Friday. Saut Simatupang, of Indonesia's Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, said that the eruption did not appear to pose an immediate threat to residents, although ash had reached the nearest town.
Japan Weather Seen Average to Milder in Nov-Jan
October 25, 2007 08:08 AM - Reuters
TOKYO - Japan will see mostly average to milder-than-average winter weather from November to January, the official forecaster Japan Meteorological Agency said on Thursday. Japan's North, East, and West regions each stand a 40 percent chance of having average or milder-than-average weather in the three months from November, the agency said in its three-month outlook.
Environment Ministers Target 2009 Climate Treaty
October 25, 2007 08:01 AM - Reuters
BOGOR, Indonesia - An informal meeting of environment ministers in Indonesia has accepted the need for negotiations on a new treaty to fight climate change to be wrapped up by 2009, a U.N. official said on Thursday. The gathering of environment ministers and officials from about 40 nations this week comes ahead of a key meeting in Bali in December aimed at hammering out a new global climate deal to curb carbon emissions after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
Break in Weather Slows California Wildfires
October 25, 2007 07:56 AM - Reuters
LOS ANGELES- California wildfires that have destroyed 1,300 homes and forced the evacuation of 500,000 people raged into a fifth day on Thursday but firefighters seized on a break in the weather to largely halt the march of destruction.
Some 15 fires still blazed across the southern part of the state, lighting up the night sky, but officials said cooler temperatures and weaker winds allowed them to win a measure of control for the first time and that the worst was behind them.
Australian farmers face bankruptcy from drought
October 24, 2007 04:41 PM - Michael Byrnes
WEST WYALONG, Australia (Reuters) - Farmer John Ridley won't be harvesting so much as a bag of wheat this season from fields that stretch to the horizon as Australia's worst drought in 100 years takes its toll on the country's grain belt.
Beneath a cloudless sky, 60-year-old Ridley, a descendant of one of Australia's pioneering farming families, pulls a clump of brittle stubble from the dusty earth.
"It should be this high, waving green in the breeze," he says. "Farmers are in a stunned state at the moment. In a state of disbelief, shock, helplessness."
Ridley's farm is in the epicenter of devastation from the drought, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) west of Sydney. Prime wheat growing territory, the district normally grows much of the wheat that makes Australia the world's second-biggest exporter. Yet this year the district will produce almost nothing.
Winds wane as 18 wildfires burn in California
October 24, 2007 04:36 PM - Adam Tanner, Reuters
SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Dying winds gave California firefighters their first big break on Wednesday after four days battling wildfires, but San Diego faced more calamity as blazes there burned out of control and kept more than half a million evacuees from returning home.
The skies over much of the region were filled with thick, acrid smoke, forcing residents to stay indoors or wear masks.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said 18 fires burned on Wednesday and threatened 25,000 structures. Nearly 1,500 homes had already been lost. San Diego bore the brunt of the damage and officials there put losses in excess of $1 billion.
More than 500,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in the biggest mass evacuation in California's modern history.
Six deaths have been reported, while 40 people suffered injuries, many of them firefighters.
White House Accused Of Watering Down Climate Testimony To Congress
October 24, 2007 04:15 PM - Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House watered down climate change testimony to Congress - testimony by the head of the CDC -- the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The changes were made before the testimony was delivered, according to a watchdog group Both the CD and White House deny it.
The anti-nuclear group Physicians for Social Responsibility said White House officials had forced CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding to remove specific references about the effects of climate change from Tuesday's testimony to a Senate committee.
Fires create electricity 'island' in San Diego
October 24, 2007 04:01 PM - Bernie Woodall
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California wildfires created an electricity "island" of San Diego County on Wednesday as one major power transmission link to the U.S. West grid was shut and the other flickering on and off, said San Diego Gas & Electric Co.
This makes the San Diego area susceptible to major blackouts unless customers conserve power, said Michael Niggli, chief operating officer of SDG&E.
San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders implored residents to cut power use.
"You've got to conserve today. You have no choice," Sanders said.
About 20,000 homes and businesses were without power late Wednesday morning, down from 33,000 on Tuesday, SDG&E spokeswoman Rachel Laing said.