Sunday, February 05, 2006

Mother Nature and Quirks

Signs of the Times for Sat, 04 Feb 2006
Mother Nature and Quirks

Meteor lights Alberta sky
Calgarians awoke to a fire in the sky early Wednesday morning. Alan Hildebrand, co-ordinator of the Canadian Fireball Reporting Centre, said 20 people reported seeing a fireball, an exceptionally bright meteor, streak across the sky just before 7 a.m., lasting for several seconds before breaking up into fragments. Reports were made from the Calgary area, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Pincher Creek and other areas, he said. "It had to be a bright one for everyone in the Calgary area to see," Hildebrand said. He estimated remnants of the meteorite landed about 400 km south of Calgary somewhere in Montana about two minutes after it appeared as a ball of fire.

Glacier break up hastened
From correspondents in London February 04, 2006
TWO major glaciers in Greenland have recently begun to flow and break up more quickly under the onslaught of global warming, according to a new study which has raised the spectre of millions drowning from rising sea levels. The report by the University of Swansea's School of the Environment and Society said the Kangerdlugssuaq and Helheim glaciers had doubled their rate of flow to the ocean over the past two years after steady movement during the 1990s. This spurt meant that current environmental models of the rate of retreat of Greenland's giant ice sheet – which could add seven metres to the height of the world's oceans if it disappears – had underestimated the problem.

"It seems likely that other Greenland outlets will undergo similar changes, which would impact the mass balance of the ice sheet more rapidly than predicted," the study said. It said the fact that the two major outflow glaciers had shown the same sudden acceleration despite being more than 300km apart suggested the cause was not local but more likely climatic or oceanic in origin. "In both of these glaciers the acceleration and retreat has been sudden, despite the progressive nature of warming and thinning over some years," the report said. Advertisement: "The longevity of this flux increase is unknown but could be substantial," it added. The report followed a warning earlier this week from Britain's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research – a branch of the Meteorological Office – that the Greenland ice sheet could be disappearing faster than previously thought. The ice sheet contains one-tenth of the world's freshwater reserves. Scientists predict that global average temperatures will rise by between one and six degrees Celsius this century unless urgent action is taken now to cap and reduce carbon emissions. Even a rise of three degrees could result in cataclysmic species loss, melting polar icecaps raising sea levels by many metres and wholesale famine and disease. Greenland is only part of the picture, and there is also evidence of local warming and melting on the giant Western Antarctic ice sheet. Scientists said on Monday the world had to halt greenhouse gas emissions and reverse them within two decades or watch the planet spiralling towards destruction. The first phase of the global Kyoto protocol on cutting greenhouse gas emissions runs until 2012, and negotiations have only just started on finding a way of taking it beyond that. The United States, the world's biggest polluter, has rejected both the protocol in its current form and any suggestion of expanding or extending it.

Recent Earthquakes
USGS February 4, 2006
The latest earthquakes from around the world: Magnitude 5.4 - 2006/02/04 09:17:04 - GALAPAGOS ISLANDS, ECUADOR Magnitude 6.0 - 2006/02/03 20:34:13 - ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Magnitude 5.5 - 2006/02/03 16:00:13 - TONGA Magnitude 5.1 - 2006/02/03 14:20:50 - FIJI REGION Magnitude 5.2 - 2006/02/03 06:10:06 - NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN Magnitude 5.4 - 2006/02/03 04:37:36 - NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

Manila game show stampede kills 73
CNN Saturday, February 4, 2006
MANILA, Philippines -- A crowd of people awaiting entrance to a stadium in Manila stampeded Saturday, killing at least 73 people and injuring 322, an official said. A report carried by the Associated Press quotes the Philippine Red Cross Chairman Senator Richard Gordon as saying the toll was at least 88 people. Some of the 20,000 people who were lined up outside the arena had been waiting for days to gain access to the stadium, where a game show was to be videotaped, Philippines Congressman Robert Jaworski told CNN. At 7 a.m., five hours before the show was to begin, people were being admitted to the stadium at such a slow pace that one member of the crowd apparently decided to hasten the process, he said. "Someone shouted and and screamed that there was a bomb," Jaworski said. "It was just a prank by one of those irresponsible people who wanted to get in first. Sadly, it caused a panic. It was a down-slope road and they started running down the hill ... they just started trampling each other." Most of the casualties were women, he said.

The people in the crowd were packed so closely together that it took police and rescue workers until 9 a.m. to reach those who were hurt, resulting in a number of deaths that a faster response could have prevented, he added. "The gates were being partially opened then shut," said Myrna Britania, 42, who spoke at a hospital where the injured were being treated, AP reports. "The raffle tickets can be obtained at the gate so everyone was in a hurry. There was pushing and people in front of the gate were crushed." Britania, who had spent all night in line, said "people at the back of the line were pushing not knowing there were already people dead lying on the ground in front." Police Superintendent Gerry Galvan told AP at least 50 people died at the stadium and the rest at hospitals where they were taken. Radio DZBB reported that hospitals were overwhelmed with the scores of injured and were using parking lots to accommodate them. Gordon blamed poor organization of the event for the tragedy. "If you predict that there's going to be a huge crowd, you should be ready with ambulances and communications," AP quotes him as saying. "You should plan for the worst. We have a lot of people who wanted to help but could not get in immediately."

Without an heir, is divorce in the air for sad princess?
By David McNeill in Tokyo 04 February 2006
Princess Masako is so weighed down by the demands of imperial life that she wants a divorce, according to the Japanese press, as opposition grows against plans to allow her child, Princess Aiko, to sit on the Chrysanthemum Throne. Several magazines say that, after 13 unhappy years in the Imperial Palace, the Harvard-educated former diplomat is looking for a way out of her marriage to Emperor Akihito's son, Crown Prince Naruhito. The Imperial Household dismisses the speculation. The 42-year-old princess has spent the past two years largely out of public sight and has been diagnosed with a mental disorder that many blame on her struggle to produce a male heir.

The princess came under intense palace pressure to have another baby after giving birth to her only child, Aiko, in 2001. Her subsequent illness has sparked a succession crisis and forced the government to begin revising the Imperial House Law, which prevents females from ascending the throne. A government panel has recommended changing the law and polls suggest that the public supports the idea of an empress. But, with just over a month left before the revision is sent to parliament, the plan has run into opposition from conservatives, including members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). The former prime minister, Yoshio Mori, and the head of the LDP's Diet Affairs Committee, Hiroyuki Hosada, warned recently that the succession issue could "split the country" if handled badly. "Opposition is growing. The situation is precarious," Mr Hosada said. The Association of Shinto Shrines, which has traditionally harvested votes for the LDP, has warned that it will withdraw support from anyone who votes for the bill, a potentially serious threat to the Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, who supports a female emperor. Opponents were galvanised on Wednesday by a Tokyo rally at which more than 170 Diet members signed a cross-party petition opposing the legislation. At least one member of the imperial family has told the government not to buck tradition. The emperor's cousin, Prince Tomohito, believes that the imperial bloodline should not be diluted by "outsiders". "There is no need to change the law," said the prince. The speculation about Masako's state of mind has gathered pace as the debate on the succession issue heats up. "There are very few people who actually say the words divorce, but they think it," said Yagi Hidetsugu, a professor at Takasaki Keizai University. "Her withdrawal from the imperial family would certainly solve a lot of problems."

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

2005 was warmest year on record: NASA

2005 was warmest year on record: NASA
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Last year was the warmest recorded on Earth's surface, and it was unusually hot in the Arctic, U.S. space agency NASA said on Tuesday. All five of the hottest years since modern record-keeping began in the 1890s occurred within the last decade, according to analysis by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. In descending order, the years with the highest global average annual temperatures were 2005, 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2004, NASA said in a statement. "It's fair to say that it probably is the warmest since we have modern meteorological records," said Drew Shindell of the NASA institute in New York City.

"Using indirect measurements that go back farther, I think it's even fair to say that it's the warmest in the last several thousand years."

Some researchers had expected 1998 would be the hottest year on record, notably because a strong El Nino -- a warm-water pattern in the eastern Pacific -- boosted global temperatures.

But Shindell said last year was slightly warmer than 1998, even without any extraordinary weather pattern. Temperatures in the Arctic were unusually warm in 2005, NASA said.

"That very anomalously warm year (1998) has become the norm," Shindell said in a telephone interview.
"The rate of warming has been so rapid that this temperature that we only got when we had a real strong El Nino now has become something that we've gotten without any unusual worldwide weather disturbance."
Over the past 30 years, Earth has warmed by 1.08 degrees F (0.6 degrees C), NASA said. Over the past 100 years, it has warmed by 1.44 degrees F (0.8 degrees C).

Shindell, in line with the view held by most scientists, attributed the rise to emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and ozone, with the burning of fossil fuels being the primary source.
The 21st century could see global temperature increases of 6 to 10 degrees F (3 to 5 degrees C), Shindell said.
"That will really bring us up to the warmest temperatures the world has experienced probably in the last million years," he said.

To understand whether the Earth is cooling or warming, scientists use data from weather stations on land, satellite measurements of sea surface temperature since 1982, and data from ships for earlier years.

More information and images are available online at:
© Copyright Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. The information contained In this news report may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Reuters Ltd.
01/24/2006 16:04 RTR

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Mystery Humming Plagues Pensioner

From Signs Of The Times
Mystery Humming Plagues Pensioner
09 January 2006

It sounds like a big tumble dryer, but it seems airborne rather than underground. That is the desperate question from New Waltham pensioner Margaret Belton (67), who claims the humming noises which have plagued her for three years are getting worse.

In May 2004, the Telegraph reported how unidentified humming and whizzing sounds were keeping Mrs Belton awake at her Pretymen Crescent home.

Since then a team of experts from the University of Salford have visited the location as part of a national research project into the "hum".

A fascinating report has proved the noises Mrs Belton hears are not just sounds in her head.

In a report by academics, an intermittent sound of between 40 and 60 decibels was recorded at the pensioner's home.

The findings were mirrored in other parts of the country where low frequency sounds were also registered in areas where residents complained of "humming" noises. However, the cause of the noises remain a mystery.

Mrs Belton said: "It sounds like a big tumble dryer, but it seems airborne rather than underground. It has got so much worse - now I am waking up each morning at 5am and I know I am not the only one to hear them."

"I am not going mad - it's there."

A deaf friend visited the house and also detected the vibrations, while a puppy next-door but one is also affected by the whirring. A summary of the report on the University's website reads: "

Normal noise guidelines are not appropriate for low frequencies, so Environmental Health Officers have little guidance on whether to class a low frequency noise as a nuisance. "

Low frequency noise is also particularly difficult to measure reliably. This means that low frequency noise problems may go unresolved for years."

The latest theories

Low frequency sound is only detected by about five per cent of the population.

These are almost always aged 50 or over, with 70 per cent of them being female.

One of the latest theories is that the sounds are caused by dead people.

Known as white noise, it is a pattern of sound which registers below most human beings' hearing range and is the spirit's attempt at communicating with the living. Mrs Holton does not endorse this theory, but instead blames the noises on some kind of industrial equipment.

One of her most persuasive theories is that the noises are caused by electricity surges, made more plausible by her claims that the sounds worsen at 7am to 9am in the morning and 6pm to 8pm at night, which is when demand is highest.

Sounds like a good idea

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is now trying to develop guidelines for use by local authorities in cases of unidentified sounds. A study will focus on 10 cases where a cluster of residents is known to be disturbed by low frequency noise. The sound will be recorded over several days while residents keep a log of comments.

These 10 sounds will then be reproduced in a listening room and 16 people will be asked to comment on whether they find them disturbing.

They will then try various ways of rating the sounds according to their level, frequency content and, for example, whether they fluctuate or have particular characteristics.

The methods that give the best agreement with the reported disturbance from the field and lab trials will be proposed as a criteria for rating low frequency sounds

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Storm Moves Into Southern California
By JUSTIN M. NORTON Associated Press Writer January 3, 2005
GUERNEVILLE, Calif. - Homeowners shoveled away mud and other debris and authorities worked to repair damaged levees Monday after a pair of storms that flooded Northern California's wine country moved south. The rain let up over the hard-hit region and moved into Central and Southern California, drenching the Rose Parade for the first time since 1955 and threatening mudslides on hills stripped bare by last summer's wildfires....

Tornadoes Hit Parts of Eastern U.S.
By The Associated Press Jan 02 11:16 PM US/Eastern
Unseasonably warm weather brought severe storms to parts of the Ohio Valley and the South on Monday, spawning tornadoes, dropping hail and contributing to the death of a utility worker in Indiana. Tornadoes were reported in Georgia and Kentucky. Three people were hospitalized with minor injuries in Georgia's Pike County, about 50 miles south of Atlanta....

Small Earthquake Shakes Southern Illinois
AP Jan 03 12:38 AM US/Eastern
EQUALITY, Ill. - No major damage was reported after a minor earthquake shook areas around this small town in southern Illinois on Monday. The quake struck at 3:48 p.m. and registered magnitude 3.6, according to Rafael Abreu, a geologist at the National Earthquake Information Center in Denver.
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It was centered near Equality, which is about 120 miles southeast of St. Louis. Abreu said calls from people who felt tremors came from Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky, but the quake was unlikely to have caused any damage. "There might have been some rattling of objects, but not much more," Abreu said. Small earthquakes hit southern Illinois several times a year, said Jim Packett, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky.

Major earthquake hits South Pacific near Fiji 2006-01-03 09:51:03
CANBERRA, Jan. 3 (Xinhuanet) -- An earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale hit under the South Pacific near Fiji on Tuesday, but it is unlikely to trigger a major tsunami and there were no reports of casualties or damages from the region.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Magnitude 5.9 Earthquake - CELEBES SEA

From Signs of The Times
Magnitude 5.9 Earthquake - CELEBES SEA

USGS2005 September 4 23:58:33 UTC
A moderate earthquake occurred at 23:58:33 (UTC) on Sunday, September 4, 2005. The magnitude 5.9 event has been located in the CELEBES SEA. The hypocentral depth was estimated to be 428 km (266 miles). (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Major Earthquake Strikes Near Japan

Major Earthquake Strikes Near Japan
By The Associated Press and LiveScience Staffposted:
15 August 2005
11:22 pm ET

Updated 6:30 a.m. ET, Aug. 16
A major earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.2 struck offshore, northeast of Tokyo, Japan. It occurred near the east coast of Honshu, 60 miles East of the town of Sendai. [Map]

The quake struck at 11:46 a.m. local time (02:46 Universal Time) on Aug. 16.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a bulletin: "No destructive pacific-wide tsunami threat exists based on historical earthquake and tsunami data."

Local tsunami were possible, the center said, but there was only a very minor local fluctuation in sea level.

Early reports put the magnitude at 6.8 to 7.2. But by 8:33 p.m. ET the number had been revised to 7.2 by the U.S. Geological Survey. It could still change as more data rolls in.

Some buildings collapsed and power was knocked out. The temblor shook skyscrapers in Tokyo, more than 300 kilometers (186 miles) away.

A caved-in roof at an indoor pool in the coastal city of Sendai injured 14 people, national broadcaster NHK reported. Two more people were injured in the neighboring prefecture (state) of Iwate, Kyodo News Agency reported.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Climate change will destroy us

Now the Pentagon tells Bush:

· Secret report warns of rioting and nuclear war· Britain will be 'Siberian' in less than 20 years· Threat to the world is greater than terrorism..

Mark Townsend and Paul Harris in New YorkSunday February 22, 2004
The Observer
Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters..

A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.

'Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,' concludes the Pentagon analysis. 'Once again, warfare would define human life.'

The findings will prove humiliating to the Bush administration, which has repeatedly denied that climate change even exists. Experts said that they will also make unsettling reading for a President who has insisted national defence is a priority.

The report was commissioned by influential Pentagon defence adviser Andrew Marshall, who has held considerable sway on US military thinking over the past three decades. He was the man behind a sweeping recent review aimed at transforming the American military under Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Climate change 'should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a US national security concern', say the authors, Peter Schwartz, CIA consultant and former head of planning at Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Doug Randall of the California-based Global Business Network.

An imminent scenario of catastrophic climate change is 'plausible and would challenge United States national security in ways that should be considered immediately', they conclude. As early as next year widespread flooding by a rise in sea levels will create major upheaval for millions.

Last week the Bush administration came under heavy fire from a large body of respected scientists who claimed that it cherry-picked science to suit its policy agenda and suppressed studies that it did not like. Jeremy Symons, a former whistleblower at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said that suppression of the report for four months was a further example of the White House trying to bury the threat of climate change.

Senior climatologists, however, believe that their verdicts could prove the catalyst in forcing Bush to accept climate change as a real and happening phenomenon. They also hope it will convince the United States to sign up to global treaties to reduce the rate of climatic change.

A group of eminent UK scientists recently visited the White House to voice their fears over global warming, part of an intensifying drive to get the US to treat the issue seriously. Sources have told The Observer that American officials appeared extremely sensitive about the issue when faced with complaints that America's public stance appeared increasingly out of touch.

One even alleged that the White House had written to complain about some of the comments attributed to Professor Sir David King, Tony Blair's chief scientific adviser, after he branded the President's position on the issue as indefensible.

Among those scientists present at the White House talks were Professor John Schellnhuber, former chief environmental adviser to the German government and head of the UK's leading group of climate scientists at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. He said that the Pentagon's internal fears should prove the 'tipping point' in persuading Bush to accept climatic change.

Sir John Houghton, former chief executive of the Meteorological Office - and the first senior figure to liken the threat of climate change to that of terrorism - said: 'If the Pentagon is sending out that sort of message, then this is an important document indeed.'

Bob Watson, chief scientist for the World Bank and former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, added that the Pentagon's dire warnings could no longer be ignored.

'Can Bush ignore the Pentagon? It's going be hard to blow off this sort of document. Its hugely embarrassing. After all, Bush's single highest priority is national defence. The Pentagon is no wacko, liberal group, generally speaking it is conservative. If climate change is a threat to national security and the economy, then he has to act. There are two groups the Bush Administration tend to listen to, the oil lobby and the Pentagon,' added Watson.

'You've got a President who says global warming is a hoax, and across the Potomac river you've got a Pentagon preparing for climate wars. It's pretty scary when Bush starts to ignore his own government on this issue,' said Rob Gueterbock of Greenpeace.

Already, according to Randall and Schwartz, the planet is carrying a higher population than it can sustain. By 2020 'catastrophic' shortages of water and energy supply will become increasingly harder to overcome, plunging the planet into war. They warn that 8,200 years ago climatic conditions brought widespread crop failure, famine, disease and mass migration of populations that could soon be repeated.
Randall told The Observer that the potential ramifications of rapid climate change would create global chaos. 'This is depressing stuff,' he said. 'It is a national security threat that is unique because there is no enemy to point your guns at and we have no control over the threat.'

Randall added that it was already possibly too late to prevent a disaster happening. 'We don't know exactly where we are in the process. It could start tomorrow and we would not know for another five years,' he said.

'The consequences for some nations of the climate change are unbelievable. It seems obvious that cutting the use of fossil fuels would be worthwhile.'

So dramatic are the report's scenarios, Watson said, that they may prove vital in the US elections. Democratic frontrunner John Kerry is known to accept climate change as a real problem. Scientists disillusioned with Bush's stance are threatening to make sure Kerry uses the Pentagon report in his campaign.

The fact that Marshall is behind its scathing findings will aid Kerry's cause. Marshall, 82, is a Pentagon legend who heads a secretive think-tank dedicated to weighing risks to national security called the Office of Net Assessment. Dubbed 'Yoda' by Pentagon insiders who respect his vast experience, he is credited with being behind the Department of Defence's push on ballistic-missile defence.

Symons, who left the EPA in protest at political interference, said that the suppression of the report was a further instance of the White House trying to bury evidence of climate change. 'It is yet another example of why this government should stop burying its head in the sand on this issue.'

Symons said the Bush administration's close links to high-powered energy and oil companies was vital in understanding why climate change was received sceptically in the Oval Office. 'This administration is ignoring the evidence in order to placate a handful of large energy and oil companies,' he added.

[SOTT] Comment: We do not doubt that this information has been known by a select few for many years. The Bush administration, as the above article states, has deliberately buried and ridiculed any evidence that serious earth changes were on the cards. The question then is, why now? And more importantly, what will be their "rescue plan" for their citizens...