More than dozen dead as storm drenches Hispaniola
October 29, 2007 10:02 PM - German Marte, Reuters
SANTO DOMINGO (Reuters) - More than a dozen people died in the Dominican Republic on Monday after Tropical Storm Noel dumped torrential rain on the Caribbean country, sending thigh-high water surging through streets and cutting power to thousands.
Hundreds of families were left homeless after the 14th named storm of the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season poured 10 to 30 inches of rain on the Dominican Republic and over the treeless hillsides of Haiti, its neighbor on the island of Hispaniola.
The head of the Dominican National Emergency Committee, retired Gen. Luis Luna Paulino, said 13 deaths had been confirmed.
He said there was a report of a family buried when their house collapsed on them and another of a family in a car killed by a falling wall. "If those two accidents are confirmed then the deaths climb to 18," he said.
German carmakers blast motorway speed limit idea
October 29, 2007 11:27 AM -
HAMBURG, Germany (Reuters) - Imposing a standard speed limit of 130 kph (80 mph) on German motorways would have scant impact on the environment and only hurt domestic carmakers, the country's VDA auto industry group said on Monday.
"Such fixed speed limits would be an ecological zero-sum game and would damage the German auto sector," VDA President Matthias Wissmann said in a statement to Reuters.
Germany is unusual in that stretches of its motorways still have no speed limit, and the country's influential car industry has lobbied hard against any national rules.
Australian country life riven by drought, isolation
October 28, 2007 11:19 PM - Michael Byrnes, Reuters
CARAGABAL, Australia (Reuters) - In drought-hit lands of eastern Australia, the population of Caragabal is just 38, every shop is closed, water is trucked in, and a synthetic lawn at a bowling club is the last hope of survival for a dying town.
The town dam, which can store two years' supply, dried up years ago with the return of drought. As crops die for hundreds of miles around, the town's fate also seems doomed.
Last remaining locals have started to speak of the patch of plastic bowling green in reverential tones.
Indonesia monitors 3 active volcanoes; raises alerts
October 27, 2007 12:10 PM - Telly Nathalia, Reuters
JAKARTA (Reuters) - Three volcanoes in Indonesia, including the one known as the "Child of Krakatau," are now under close watch following heightened activity, a senior volcano official said on Saturday.
Indonesia's Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation raised the alert on Mount Anak Krakatau to the second-highest level on Friday after it threw up showers of ash.
The volcano, which lies in the Sunda strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra, is about 130 km west of the capital Jakarta. It gradually formed after the famous Krakatau volcano blew up in a massive eruption in 1883, triggering tsunamis and killing thousands of people.
U.S. Air Force Turns to Alternative Fuel, Slashing CO2
October 27, 2007 11:44 AM - Jim Wolf, Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The world's most powerful air force is seeking to wean itself from foreign oil and nearly zero out its carbon dioxide output as part of a sweeping alternative energy drive, a senior Pentagon official said on Friday.
By early 2011, the U.S. Air Force aims to make sure its entire fleet of bombers, fighters, transports and other aircraft can use a domestically produced 50-50 blend of synthetic and petroleum-based fuel.
William Anderson, an assistant Air Force secretary, said the goal was to reduce energy demand, look for cleaner power sources and to reuse captured carbon commercially, for instance to enhance the growth of biofuels or improve oil well production.
"We can get ourselves very close to a zero carbon footprint," said Anderson ahead of talks on the issue with counterparts in Britain and France next month.
"Not today. Not tomorrow. But maybe a decade or so down the road," he told a briefing at the State Department's Foreign Press Center.
Children kept indoors as Beijing fog turns to smog
October 26, 2007 12:17 PM -
BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing's weather office warned children and the elderly to stay indoors on Friday as heavy fog blanketed the host city of the 2008 Olympics, exacerbating its chronic air pollution, Chinese state media reported.
Fog caused severe delays at Beijing airport and reduced visibility in the centre of the city to less than 200 meters.
"The fog will not only affect the traffic but also harm humans' respiratory system. I suggest old people and children avoid going outdoors or wear a mask," Sun Jisong, the city's chief weatherman, told the official Xinhua news agency.
Sarkozy promises a green revolution for France
October 25, 2007 07:48 PM - James Mackenzie, reuters
PARIS (Reuters) - President Nicolas Sarkozy promised a green revolution on Thursday, unveiling a mix of tax measures and investment pledges that he said would put France in the vanguard of the war against global warming.
"France isn't late but France wants now to be in the lead," he said in a speech wrapping up a special environmental policy conference seeking ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions and help change attitudes to the environment.
The congress was one of the highest profile green initiatives ever launched in France and fulfilled an election campaign promise by Sarkozy, who has said his government will emphasize sustainable development.
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.