Ecosystems

Dozens killed in worst Vietnam floods in decades
October 7, 2007 07:50 PM -

THANH HOA, Vietnam (Reuters) - More than 50 people were killed or missing after a typhoon, floods and landslides cut power and closed roads in what officials in two Vietnam provinces on Sunday described as some of the worst flooding in decades.

The government storm prevention committee said 37 people were killed and 15 missing. State-run Vietnam Television reported 55 dead and missing in the aftermath of typhoon Lekima, which slammed into several provinces on Wednesday night.

Thanh Hoa and Nghe An provinces in north-central Vietnam were hit hardest by torrential rains and strong winds.

"This may be the worst flooding since 1945," said Phan Dang Khoa, a Communist Party official in Thach Thanh district of Thanh Hoa where a dyke broke on the Buoi river, causing extensive flooding.

World moves into the ecological red
October 6, 2007 06:25 PM - Jeremy Lovell, Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - The world moved into "ecological overdraft" on Saturday, the point at which human consumption exceeds the ability of the earth to sustain it in any year and goes into the red, the New Economics Foundation think-tank said.

Ecological Debt Day this year is three days earlier than in 2006 which itself was three days earlier than in 2005. NEF said the date had moved steadily backwards every year since humanity began living beyond its environmental means in the 1980s.

"As the world creeps closer to irreversible global warming and goes deeper into ecological debt, why on earth, say, would the UK export 20 tonnes of mineral water to Australia and then re-import 21 tonnes," said NEF director Andrew Simms.

Strong typhoon targets Taiwan and China over weekend
October 5, 2007 11:07 AM - Ralph Jennings

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan warned fishing boats and people going out of town for the weekend that a strong typhoon was expected to reach the island shortly after midnight, bringing heavy rains and high winds before moving on to China on Sunday.

Disaster authorities monitoring Typhoon Krosa's approach from the southeast issued land and sea warnings for most of Taiwan, pulling fishing boats back to port and asking weekend adventurers to avoid stormy beaches and mountains prone to mudslides.

Geologists Recover Rocks from San Andreas Fault
October 5, 2007 08:00 AM - NSF

CALIFORNIA - For the first time, geologists have extracted intact rock samples from two miles beneath the surface of the San Andreas Fault, the infamous rupture that runs 800 miles along the length of California.  Never before have so-called "cores" from deep inside an actively moving tectonic boundary been available to study. Now, scientists hope to answer long-standing questions about the fault's composition and properties.  Altogether, the geologists retrieved 135 feet of 4-inch diameter rock cores weighing roughly 1 ton. They were hauled to the surface through a borehole measuring more than 2.5 miles long.

Offspring of Hatchery Trout Are Fishy Flops: Study
October 5, 2007 07:41 AM - Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - When it comes to making babies, steelhead trout like it wild.  In a study published on Thursday with great implications for captive breeding programs, U.S. researchers found that after being set free, steelhead trout reared in hatcheries produced offspring far less fit than those of wild-bred fish.  In fact, when these captive-bred trout are released in the wild, they are roughly 40 percent less successful at producing offspring that survive to adulthood than their wild cousins, according to the research in the journal Science.

China Tightens Environment Rules for Coast Projects
October 5, 2007 07:33 AM - Reuters

BEIJING  - China has amended regulations to require environmental impact assessments for coastal construction projects, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.  The amendment, which takes effect on January 1, requires reports on the marine impact of all coastal projects, including rebuilding and expansion projects, before they win environmental approval.

Vast African Dump Poisons Children: U.N
October 5, 2007 07:30 AM - Reuters

NAIROBI - Willis Ochieng, 10, scavenges through smoking refuse piled as high as a house at one of Africa's biggest rubbish mountains, his friends sitting nearby sucking on dirty plastic bottles of noxious yellow glue. Located near slums in the east of the Kenyan capital Nairobi, the open dump receives some 2,000 tons of garbage daily. A U.N. study published on Friday says it is seriously harming the health of children and polluting the city.

The Nature Of The New World
October 4, 2007 03:02 PM - Lester R. Brown

We recently entered a new century, but we are also entering a new world, one where the collisions between our demands and the earth’s capacity to satisfy them are becoming daily events. It may be another crop-withering heat wave, another village abandoned because of invading sand dunes, or another aquifer pumped dry. If we do not act quickly to reverse the trends, these seemingly isolated events will occur more and more frequently, accumulating and combining to determine our future.
Resources that accumulated over eons of geological time are being consumed in a single human lifespan.

Another warm winter seen for much of U.S.
October 4, 2007 01:31 PM - Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Long-range weather forecasts are predicting a warmer than average winter with less precipitation for much of the United States except the Pacific Northwest.

"It will be a lot like last year but the climate models are even more in agreement now than they were last fall," said Mike Halpert, head of forecast operations at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center.

"Temperatures will be warmer than average in most places except the northwest of the country, which could see some cold."

Forecasters believe the emergence of a La Nina condition -- unusually cold ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean -- will be the main factor behind the anticipated warmth for much of North America.

Rumbling Volcano Sparks Panic in Indonesia
October 4, 2007 07:51 AM - Reuters

KEDIRI, Indonesia - Hundreds of Indonesians have begun evacuating the slopes of a rumbling volcano in East Java following increased levels of toxic fumes and tremors, a local rescue official said on Thursday.  The country's volcanological survey raised Mount Kelud's alert status to the second-highest level on Sunday, following increased activity.   A mix of carbon dioxide and toxic substances seven times normal levels has been recorded from the volcano in recent days, prompting authorities to isolate the area, said Saut Simatupang, head of the survey's volcano observation unit.

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